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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

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Guests: Roger Simon, Mark McKinnon, Ron Carey, Howard Dean, Jonathan Capehart, Howard Dean, Meghan McCain

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: In the Romney-Santorum statistical tie, the
big winner in the Iowa caucuses is President Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: This is three on one, ladies and
gentlemen.

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s not a team sport.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Wonder twin powers activate. It`s like a
form of bitterness.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m a victim of one
particular person, Mitt Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can understand that
disappointment.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: You know, I understand the speaker is pretty disappointed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Having Newt out there pounding Mitt Romney every
day.

ROMNEY: I got a big target on me now.

GINGRICH: Romney is a Massachusetts moderate.

MATTHEWS: Get ready, Mitt. The right`s coming at you.

GINGRICH: The Massachusetts moderate.

ROMNEY: I`ve got broad shoulders.

GINGRICH: The Massachusetts moderate.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I am really here for one reason and
one reason only.

GINGRICH: The Massachusetts moderate.

MCCAIN: To make sure that we make Mitt Romney the next president of
the United States of America.

GINGRICH: He`s not the most electable candidate.

ROMNEY: On to New Hampshire, let`s get that job done.

GINGRICH: He is not going to win the nomination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, the Republican Party is becoming the
Almond Joy party. Some days they feel like a nut. Some days they don`t.

GINGRICH: I clearly like Rick Santorum a lot.

MATTHEWS: Can he join with the ultimate pro-lifer?

GINGRICH: I think Rick Santorum tell you he likes me.

SCHMIDT: I`m not sure that Rick Santorum is going to be able to win
the New Hampshire primary.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: What about the fact that Rick Santorum,
with no organization, much less money?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH: He`s not a guy that can carry suburbia.

DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Well, I`d like to see more
enthusiasm.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is, it was a
pretty loosey-goosey process.

TRUMP: Because of "The Apprentice," which is why we`re here this
morning. We`re not allowed to run.

ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Well, if we don`t run Chris
Christie, Romney will be the nominee and we`ll lose.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: After a statistical tie that left Rick Santorum and Mitt
Romney giving doing dueling victory speeches, and doing so bravely without
teleprompters so they could continue to ridicule President Obama for using
his teleprompter, and after of the majority of Iowa Republican caucusgoers,
almost 51 percent, voted against Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, the big
winner was President Obama who continued without fear of ridicule to use
teleprompters in Ohio today where he campaigned against Republican
obstructionism in Congress.

Today, the Obama reelection campaign senior strategist David Axelrod
called Romney the 25 percent man and told reporters Romney entered as a
weak front-runner, he leaves as a weak front-runner.

Joining me now, chief political columnist for "Politico," Roger Simon;
former chief of staff to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Ron Carey; former
advisor to George W. Bush and McCain campaigns, Mark McKinnon; and former
DNC chairman and current CNBC contributor, Governor Howard Dean.

Thank you all for joining me tonight.

Governor Dean, what the Democrats were really hoping for is that there
was no decisive winner in Iowa last night, as there was four years ago in
the Democratic run. I think President Obama getting, what, 37. Obama 37,
Clinton about 8 points less than that. Nothing like that this time around.

That is exactly what the Democrats need, isn`t it?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Well, it would have been more fun
to have Santorum win decisively. But, you know, I would have to say that
this problem that the Republicans have is pretty extraordinary -- 75
percent of the people in that party just don`t seem to want to vote for
Mitt Romney for president of the United States.

So this goes on. And as we go on, he moves further and further to the
right. The most damaging thing that he has said so far is that he would
veto the DREAM Act. And any hope that Republicans had of winning the
really important Hispanic vote I think has now disappeared. I would be
shocked if we got less than 67 percent that we got the last time, given
what the Republicans have said over the last few months about this
incredibly fast growing group of Americans.

O`DONNELL: Mark McKinnon, the turnout was not what Republicans were
hoping for. In fact, if you subtract the increase in turnout just for Ron
Paul alone, you would get a lower turnout than four years ago. And so,
this is the time when all of America is supposed to be rising up against
the oppressive rule of Barack Obama and the uprising will begin in Iowa.
It just didn`t happen.

MARK MCKINNON, FORMER ADVISOR, BUSH AND MCCAIN CAMPAIGNS: Well, it`s
not necessarily surprising that it`s lower than four years ago because
Democrats were the party that were excited about the election four years
ago and Republicans weren`t, particularly.

I would disagree about Romney just in the sense that a longer drawn-
out primary in many ways will make him a better candidate. He`s a better
candidate today than he was four years ago because he`s been around the
track. And just like it was for Barack Obama, that long drawn-out primary
with Hillary Clinton made him a better general election candidate.

So, I would say, yes, it`s unsettled. Yes, it may go on for a while
longer. Over time I think that will make Romney a better candidate for
general election.

O`DONNELL: Ron Cary, Michele Bachmann the first to drop out. You`ve
worked with her on the past. What do you expect from her to do in terms of
an endorsement in this race?

RON CAREY, FORMER BACHMANN CHIEF OF STAFF: I don`t think she will
endorse anybody in this race. I mean, I think her voters out there, and
they are a dwindling number, they are going to know where to go. They`re
probably more aligned with Santorum than anybody else. And so I think
he`ll benefit the most.

But I think, you know, Michele is going to look at the fact, you know,
there`s been talk that she and her husband have talked about maybe she
could be a V.P. pick. I don`t think that`s going to happen. Just to keep
that option on the table, I think she will keep your powder dry.

If Santorum were the nominee for example, Bachmann would not be the
vice presidential candidate. If Romney was, you could say there is a
female a ticket. That`s more conservative. But even so, I don`t think
that would be a likely possibility.

So I think Michele is just going to sit and keep her powder dry and
focus on coming back to Minnesota and probably running for re-election.

O`DONNELL: Well, Ron, quickly, what about the politics of re-election
for her in Minnesota? And is she considering going after Al Franken`s
Senate seat in Minnesota?

CAREY: I think she is most likely going to be running for re-
election. We haven`t in Minnesota come up with a redistricting plan yet.
The court is going to be drawing those lines and announcing those by the
end of February. And the likelihood is that the district will be as
favorable or maybe more favorable Republican than before, and that would
really precipitate her running for reelection and she`d be a strong
favorite, unless it was a horrendous year for Republicans to be re-elected.

So that is the likelihood. I mean, she has an option. Every
Minnesota Republican today would tell you they would love to have her run
against Senator Klobuchar for her reelection bid. I don`t think that`s
going to happen. And I really don`t think that as much fun as it would be
to have her run against Al Franken in two years, I really doubt that`s too
likely either.

So, Michele in the House for the foreseeable future and put her nose
to the grindstone and hopefully rise up in the ranks with the congressional
Republicans.

O`DONNELL: Roger Simon, in New Hampshire, you were there when the big
endorsement came. They leaked it last night. Not just leaked it, but
during Rick Santorum`s speech, the Romney campaign put out that John McCain
was going to endorse Romney.

They`re doing everything that they could to undermine the speech as it
was happening. You`ve described the endorsement event today in New
Hampshire as the campaign event from hell.

How did it go so badly?

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: Everything went wrong. John -- first of all,
it was a joint town hall, something I don`t think I`ve ever seen, where
Mitt Romney, where the crowd presumably turned out to see and share his
time on the stage with John McCain.

John McCain, frankly, does not like speaking in public, is not
terribly good at speaking in public. And he proved it today.

The second thing was, virtually every question asked was a hostile
question. Almost all of which came from the front rows of the hall which
Romney continued to call on. They had obviously been packed early with
either his Democratic opponents or his Republican opponents. But they were
his opponents and it didn`t create a good atmosphere.

O`DONNELL: Mark McKinnon, what do you make of the McCain endorsement?
When I heard about it last night, I thought, OK, is that good for Romney or
is that the worst thing that could happen to Romney at this point?

MCKINNON: I`m not sure. It just reinforces that he`s a moderate
candidate and doesn`t help burnish the conservative credentials I think
he`s trying to stamp a little heavier.

You know, I was a little surprised myself because I know that Jon
Huntsman worked very hard for John McCain in the past. So, I was a bit
surprise by the endorsement.

On the other hand, I don`t think it means a hill of beans to anybody
in New Hampshire because they are such an independent group. They love to
turn conventional wisdom on its ear and they rarely listen to endorsement.

And so, I think, in the long run, it doesn`t make much of a
difference, except -- I mean, to Roger`s point, maybe it`s a negative.

O`DONNELL: Howard --

CAREY: Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead.

CAREY: Lawrence, if I can just say, last night as I was driving home
from Iowa, I heard on the radio that John McCain was going to be endorsing
Mitt Romney. And I thought, that is the best thing that could happen in
the in the long run for Rick Santorum because it really does define this
race as a moderate versus conservative and that`s what we as conservatives
want to get down to a two-person race with that distinction, because 75, 80
percent of the Republican base that will be voting in the primaries are
conservatives who want a true blue conservative candidate.

So, if this will help Mitt Romney in New Hampshire blunt any charge by
Santorum, but in the long run, it`s going to really make it him who is
already fighting to establish his conservative credentials. It`s going to
really be an uphill battle with John McCain`s help. That really could end
up being a real albatross around his neck.

O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, tell us what an underfunded insurgent
candidacy like Rick Santorum needs coming out of what is essentially a win
for him in Iowa.

DEAN: Well, this is a big problem. And this is why I still think
that Mitt Romney is still likely to be the nominee. Santorum basically has
no organization and no money, and he`s going to get a lot of money in the
next few weeks presumably and I think he could very well beat Mitt Romney
in South Carolina.

But trying to organize the whole country after you -- when you`re
having a one primary a week and then soon we`re going to have four, five,
six, seven, 10 primaries in a single week, very big states where you`ve got
to be on television, I don`t know how Rick Santorum gets through Florida.
I really don`t. I mean, it`s going to have to be some sort of
extraordinary amount of money that they are going to have to spend,
millions and millions of dollars.

And Romney is going to have to do to Santorum what he did to Gingrich
in Iowa, with his super PAC that he`s got. He`s just going to take
Santorum apart and Santorum is not going to be able to respond because he
doesn`t have any money.

O`DONNEL: And meanwhile, we`re going to listen to this war within the
Republican Party.

Let`s listen to Rush Limbaugh today defending Santorum against this
new attack that Santorum is some kind of a big government Republican.
Let`s listen to Limbaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Big government to the left means
income redistribution, universal health care, union government workers,
cradle to grave socialism. Those are things that Santorum vehemently
opposes. Santorum by no means supports big government in that regard.

The big government that Santorum supports is a government that
protects by enforcing the law. Be it the right to life or border,
immigration, or anything else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Mark McKinnon, can your pals in the Romney campaign find a
way to make that big government Republican thing stick on Santorum,
especially when he`s got defenders like Rush Limbaugh working for him?

MCKINNON: I think it`s going to be hard. I mean, Santorum is a clear
conservative who`s -- you know, got a very long record and a consistent
record with conservatives.

So, I think that line of attacks is going to be difficult and I think
it`s going to be tough for Gingrich to go after him. I mean, Gingrich
reminded us that in addition to being an intellectual and historian, that
he`s a blow hard and a whiner. I mean, the notion that he`s complaining
about negative ads as a guy who was launching bombs from the backbench for
years out of Congress is just ridiculous on its face.

So I don`t think the attacks from Gingrich are going to be
particularly effective against Romney. On the other hand, I don`t think
that Romney`s attacks on Santorum is big government. Although, it`s the
last apple pile that they`ve got and they`ve been through them all. So,
they`re going to drop it and put a ton of weight behind it. We know that.

O`DONNELL: Mark McKinnon, quickly before we go to our break, a word
on Rick Perry. Can he really go home after Iowa and say, you know, I need
a night to sleep on it and think about this, and then come out, as he did
today, and say, OK, I`ve decided I am going to continue -- isn`t that kind
of stutter step, something that scares everybody who might want to support
a campaign?

MCKINNON: Yes, it spooks the hell out of anybody who has any notion
of supporting him. I mean, all of the language that he was going to fold
it up and go home, and who knows what happens in the course of 24 hours.
But he gets home, takes a jobs, talks to his wife and says, well, maybe we
should go out to South Carolina and see what happens, you know.

It`s hard to imagine how he raises an extra dollar or add a single
extra vote. It`s just note of real confidence in that kind of body
language and shifting strategy within 24 hours.

O`DONNELL: All right, team, stand by. We`re going to take a quick
break and be right back.

And up -- the next thing we`re going to talk is: does the Republican
Party have a Newt problem? Newt Gingrich was described today as a
potential suicide bomber on the debate stage this weekend.

And, later, President Obama announced the newest member of his
administration today not in the Rose Garden, in Ohio. Why was the
president doing routine White House business in Ohio? Because it`s an
election year.

And why did Republican Senator Scott Brown applaud the president`s
move? Because it`s an election year for him, too.

That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Just because it`s impossible for me to
know the winner of Iowa yet, that I will not keep me from being the first
to call this race. I can already who will lose -- Jon Huntsman, who is
completely skipping Iowa to focus on New Hampshire and to add insult to
injury, he added an insult -- Jim.

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They pick corn in Iowa.
They actually pick presidents in New Hampshire.

COLBERT: Yes. New Hampshire picks presidents. Just ask Presidents
Buchanan, Tsongas and (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: The fact is, three out of four Republicans rejected it.
And Governor Romney is a moderate Massachusetts Republican to the left of
the vast majority of Republicans. I find it amazing the news media
continues to say he`s the most electable Republican when he can`t even
break out in his own party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: When Mitt Romney arrived in New Hampshire today, he was
greeted by this headline in the New Hampshire "Union Leader," which has
endorsed Newt Gingrich. "The choice, only a bold Reagan conservative can
defeat President Obama."

That headline was actually written by Newt Gingrich in a full-page ad
comparing his record to Romney`s.

"Mother Jones`" David Corn likened Newt Gingrich to a suicide bomber
in his article today, "Newt the destroyer. Gingrich is now on a single-
minded mission to detonate Mitt Romney`s presidential prospects. Will he
blow up the Republican Party in the process?"

We`re back with our guests. Let`s see, we have Roger Simon, Ron
Carey, Mark McKinnon and Howard Dean rejoining -- after a small
teleprompter failure there.

Howard, you`ve done these things before, Howard. You know how these
things can go.

DEAN: I do.

O`DONNELL: Howard, I don`t think we`ve ever seen this on a debate
stage. Can you imagine yourself on a debate stage with a candidate who is
articulate, who is well-armed, who also, by all appearances, knows he has
no chance of winning and hates one particular candidate on that stage?

DEAN: Well, that`s actually the problem here. Newt is not going to
be effective at this, because if you really want to do in Romney, you can`t
show your anger and hate. You got -- you can do this, because I`ve had
people do it to me, but you`ve got to be subtle. You`ve got to appear,
you`ve got to do it in a laughing matter. You can really stick it to
somebody.

But if it`s motivated by what most Americans are going to think is bad
sportsmanship, I think it`s going to be incredibly ineffective.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Newt Gingrich talking to Laura Ingraham
about a possible alliance with Rick Santorum.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM: Can you see a scenario under which the two of you
would align together to try to defeat the establishment candidate, Mitt
Romney?

GINGRICH: Absolutely. Of course. I mean, Rick and I have a 20-year
friendship. We are both rebels. We both came into this business as
reformers. We both dislike deeply the degree to which the establishment
sells out the American people.

We both think Washington has to be changed in very fundamental ways.
And we have lots of things that fit together. And the thing that`s
interesting is, if you take the votes, you add to that Perry and Bachmann,
you begin to see the signs of the conservative vote compared to Romney.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Mark McKinnon, the coach answer to that kind of question
is never, yes, absolutely. It is always something to the effect of, Laura,
I`m in this to win this. I`m not concerned who the opponents are.

To hear him openly admit, oh, yes, if it comes to it, I could make my
candidacy above nothing other than teaming up with another guy to destroy
just one of these other guys.

MCKINNON: Yes. He was using his inside words. And they got out.

No. You never reveal openly that kind of a strategy unless you are
really bitter like Gingrich is. And I agree to Governor Dean`s point,
therefore it won`t be that effective.

In addition, it won`t be effective because most people in New
Hampshire have heard this for a while. They`ve heard the attacks on
Romney. They`ve been hearing it for years. They are pretty familiar with
them.

I think the real opportunity here and the real way that somebody can
be effective is not the attacks from Gingrich but it will be the
authenticity of Santorum or potential authenticity.

So, Romney is going to rise or fall not based on the Gingrich attacks,
but how well Santorum does in introducing himself to New Hampshire voters
in a pretty compressed period of time. But New Hampshire voters are open
to that kind of swift changes we`ve seen in the past, but it will be
because of Santorum, not because of Gingrich`s attack.

O`DONNELL: Roger Simon, has Newt Gingrich telegraphed the punch so
much, the punches he intends to throw in this weekend`s debates in New
Hampshire that now it just can`t work?

SIMON: Absolutely. There`s no point on him now going out on Saturday
and Sunday and becoming a human hand grenade. We`re all expecting it.

The best thing that he can do, not to win New Hampshire, he`s not
going to win New Hampshire, but to burnish what is left of his own message
would be to be a polite and gracious debater, to be the intellectual, to be
the idea person, which he has shown in a few debates.

But the point -- there`s no point in him tearing down Mitt Romney.
He`s not going to beat Mitt Romney here. As a matter of fact, nobody is
going to beat Mitt Romney here.

And in fact, in South Carolina, where Mitt Romney is vulnerable, the
facts that you have Rick Perry and Rick Santorum both in the race actually
gives Mitt Romney a chance to win there before he goes on and win Florida.

I mean, before the Iowa caucus, two or three days before, I wrote a
column saying if Mitt Romney comes in first in Iowa, he`s the Republican
nominee. If he comes in second in Iowa, he`s the Republican nominee. And
if he comes in third in Iowa, he`s the Republican nominee.

Well, he tied for first. I think he`s going to be the Republican
nominee.

To do otherwise would be to take off the table the best thing
Republicans have going for them, the economy. And nominate Rick Santorum
who wants to make this elections about social issues that most of America
doesn`t want to be talked about.

O`DONNELL: The latest poll we have out of New Hampshire taken Monday
and Tuesday night even, during the Iowa caucuses, has Romney at 43 percent,
Ron Paul next, a distant second, at 14, Newt Gingrich at 9, Huntsman up
there at 7. That`s a high point for him in this campaign. Santorum at 6.

So, no Santorum surge. No big demolition of Romney`s big lead up
there.

And, Ron Carey, the 75 percent of the party outside of New Hampshire,
the Republican Party, that doesn`t want to see Mitt Romney be the nominee,
what do you want to see in the debates this weekend? And what do you want
to see Newt Gingrich do in these debates in relation to Romney?

CAREY: Well, I think Newt Gingrich will go after Mitt Romney. It
does serve a role for Rick Santorum because let him stand back and be a
political virgin when it comes to not having to get the long knifes out to
take on Mitt Romney and show the contrast. Let`s let Newt do the dirty
work in that standpoint.

I think Newt realizes he`s not going to be the nominee but that
dislike of Romney just comes through so much that he`s resolved to the fact
that if I can`t be the nominee, Romney`s not going to be the nominee.

But the key really to me is Romney is going to win New Hampshire.
Let`s put it out there. He`s going to win no matter what, it`s just a
margin.

The key is going to be South Carolina because if Romney can then roll
into South Carolina, and takes South Carolina, it is probably over. And
the conservative tab has a real propensity as they saw in 2008 to divide
amongst themselves and let the moderate wing of the party conquer even
though they are the minority. And that could very well happen this year.

I was disturbed to see Rick Perry talking about getting in. But one
of the most critical events here that we haven`t talked about tonight is
there was an announcement today that this weekend in Texas, there`s going
to be a group of faith-based conservative leaders around the country
getting together to talk about can they coalesce around one conservative to
go toe-to-toe, one-on-one with Mitt Romney. That is a big uphill battle to
see if everybody can put their allegiance aside and say, let`s get behind
what I believe will probably be Rick Santorum.

But that`s the one way I think that in South Carolina, will not be a
repeat of 2008 and conservatives then would have a chance to stop Mitt
Romney in South Carolina and have a different outcome for the nomination.

O`DONNELL: Ron Carey, I`m so glad you brought up that meeting that
has been scheduled. Do you think there`s any chance that that meeting
won`t come to an agreement on who to back?

CAREY: Yes, I do think that because -- I mean, it`s being hosted by
some close friends of Rick Perry. Again, that`s where people are going to
have to put their personal preferences aside and say, we`re going to put
those aside for the best interest of the conservative cause because if we
do split our votes, that is the door opening for Romney just to win South
Carolina and then basically just sprint to the finish line.

O`DONNELL: Roger Simon, Mark McKinnon and Ron Carey, thank you very
much for joining me. Governor Dean, you`re co-hosting this thing with me
tonight. Stay with us for one more segment anyway.

Thank you everybody else for joining us.

And later, we will explain to you why Republican Senator Scott Brown
is praising President Obama for the very same thing that Republican Senate
leader Mitch McConnell is condemning President Obama.

And, later, John McCain`s painful you know it was hard for him to do -
- painful endorsement of Mitt Romney, his former rival -- will be fully
explained to us by Meghan McCain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: When do presidents announce the appointment of the newest
members of their administrations in Ohio, in an election year? Wonder
Republican senators from Massachusetts praise the Democratic president`s
highly political announcement of that appointment? In an election year.

And when does every other Republican senator condemn the appointment
as the ultimate subversion of democracy because the president bypassed the
Senate after failing to get Senate confirmation for his choice, and used
his executive power to make a time limited appointment without
confirmation, while the Senate was in recess?

Well, Republicans, in fact Democrats, too, would complain about recess
appointments at any time, election year or not. The president flew to Ohio
today with Richard Cordray, his choice to head the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau, and used the announcement to highlight the theme of his
re-election campaign, what prevents Congress -- what prevents progress in
Washington is Republican gridlock in Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Richard waited to be confirmed. And we were pretty patient.
We kept on saying to Mitch McConnell and the other folks, let`s go ahead
and confirm him. Why isn`t he being called up? Let`s go. Every day that
we waited was another day when millions of Americans were left unprotected.

I`m not going to stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party
ideology ahead of the people that we were elected to serve. Not with so
much at stake. Not at this make or break moment for middle class
Americans.

We`re not going to let that happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now to discuss this, Jonathan Capehart, the
"Washington Post" editorial writer and MSNBC political analyst, and
returning to our discussion former DNC chairman, Governor Howard Dean. I
just want to go to what Jay Carney said about this today, because it is --
there is a little bit of a technical problem in this one.

And that is that the Republicans are saying, hey, wait a minute, the
Senate wasn`t really in recess. They had it in pro forma session, which
was they`re not really going to do anything but technically in session. So
Jay Carney`s response to that is, "in an overt attempt to prevent the
president from exercising his authority during this period, Republican
senators insisted on using a gimmick called pro forma sessions which are
sessions during which no Senate business is conducted. But gimmicks do not
override the president`s Constitutional authority to make appointments to
keep the government running."

Governor Dean, I agree that the president -- and everyone agrees the
president has recess appointment power. But your gimmick is my rule.
Every single thing that runs the United States Senate is a rule that
someone else can call a gimmick. And I for one see a dangerous precedent
in this particular move by the president, because if a Republican president
were the first one to do this, and this president is the first one to do
it, I think there would be a lot of screaming on the Democratic side today.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: You and I both have background
inside the chambers. I was the presiding officer in the Vermont Senate for
a while. And I know the rules. And you`re right.

However, this is a brilliant political move, because Mitch McConnell
is going to get up there and defend do nothing, on the end that people have
no respect for the Senate rules, except for the people in the Senate,
because they`ve been used to thwart any kind of reasonable progress on the
economy and any kind of reasonable thing this president is trying to do for
middle class Americans for two years -- or for a year and a half.

So you`re right. I think you`re right. I agree for that inside the
Beltway, there`s going to be a lot of clubbing. Outside the Beltway, this
is a great move for the president. And to do it in Ohio, where Rich
Cordray was a very popular elected official on two occasions, it was
brilliant.

Scott Brown did what he did because he`s running scared. He`s running
against Elizabeth Warren, who`s an icon for consumer protection. And he`s
got to distance himself from the Republican party before she beats him.

O`DONNELL: Governor, I think you and I agree completely, because I do
respect the rules of the Senate, which I consider both rules and gimmicks
at the same time. But I also completely respect the politics of this. I
think politically, it was an absolutely brilliant thing for the president
to do.

And Jonathan, it creates for us this situation. I`m about to read
Republican Senator Scott Brown`s outraged reaction to what the president
did today, except there`s no outrage. Here is what Republican Senator
Scott Brown said, "I support President Obama`s appointment today of Richard
Cordray to head the CFPB. I believe he`s the right person to lead the
agency and help protect consumers from fraud and scams. While I would have
strongly preferred that it go through the normal confirmation process,
unfortunately the system is completely broken."

Now there, Jonathan, is a complete political and procedural defense of
the president by Scott Brown. He`s saying the system is completely broken.
The Senate is completely broken.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, Scott Brown isn`t
saying something that the American people don`t already know from years of
watching what`s been happening or not happening in Washington. You know,
this is a fight that the president should have, needs to have, and I think
relishes having, because fine, let the Republicans say that he`s
overstepped his Constitutional authority. Take him to court.

Can you imagine taking the president to court because he`s trying to -
- because he`s appointed someone to an agency whose job it is to protect
consumers from fraud and abuse. And the only way they can be protected
from fraud and abuse is by having a permanent head of that agency. One of
the arguments of the administration is that the reason why the Republicans
-- well, because Richard Cordray has not been confirmed, because there`s no
permanent head of the Consumer Protection Agency, the key provisions of the
law that protect consumers from payday lenders and predatory lending and
things like that, those provisions of the law cannot go into effect.

So the president, I think, as we`ve just said, is on great political
ground here, and is about to undergo a great political fight. Once again,
as with the payroll tax cut, he can now step forward again and say, look,
I`m fighting for the middle class. I`m fighting for the American people
who have been run over by the banking industry and other people who are
taking advantage of them at a time of economic distress.

DEAN: Yeah, there`s one other point about this. The court is going
to be very reluctant to interfere in what the Senate rules are. They may
ultimately say well, you can`t go forward, he can`t enforce the law. But
he`s probably not going to rule on what the interpretation of the Senate
rules are.

O`DONNELL: Exactly. And another thing to point out, a political fact
to point out is that he did get a majority vote in the Senate on this
confirmation. He got 53 votes. And the president gets to say, look, he
got 53 votes. He got a majority vote in the Senate, but in this Senate,
majority is not good enough. Republicans were forcing it into a 60-vote
situation.

Governor Dean, two other numbers I want to run by you. Tell me if you
think these two numbers have anything to do with Scott Brown`s reaction to
this situation today. "Boston Herald" poll showing Elizabeth Warren at 49
percent in her race to take that seat from Scott Brown. And incumbent
sitting Senator Scott Brown at 42 percent.

CAPEHART: Yeah. Wow.

DEAN: Elizabeth Warren has turned out to be a great campaigner. We
didn`t know that when she declared, but she is. She`s still got a lot to
learn. She`s never run for office before. But Scott Brown is in a very
difficult position.

The Republican congress is incredibly unpopular. Even though the
Senate`s run by Democrats, the Republicans are getting all of the blame in
the Senate, as they deserve, in my view, for not -- nothing getting done.
And I do not believe if President Obama wins -- I do not believe that the
Republicans are going to hold on to the House. And I think there`s a good
chance they won`t take the Senate.

Even though the math works very much in their favor, people are
furious. And in Massachusetts, they are furious at the Republicans. And
Scott Brown, even though I`m sure his personality favorability ratings are
pretty high, is going to be run at as a Republican. And that`s how they
are going to brand him. And the Republican brand stinks right now.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart of the "Washington Post" and former DNC
Chairman Howard Dean, thank you both for joining me tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Four years ago, they were sworn enemies. But today
Senator McCain pretended to warm up to his former rival, Mitt Romney.
We`ll ask Meghan McCain why her father endorsed Mitt Romney. And she will
tell us the truth. That`s what she`s here for.

As they were busily setting the record for the largest number of
deportations in history last year, the Obama Homeland Security Department
managed to deport a 14-year-old African-American girl, Texas girl, who they
picked up without I.D. and mistook her for a 22-year-old Colombian woman
who was in the country illegally. And now tonight, Homeland Security has
no idea where the Colombian woman is. But they know the American girl is
stuck in Bogota.

But, hey, they set the record for the largest number of deportations
in history, and that`s the important thing, right? That`s next in the
Rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The Obama administration has been busily Rewriting the
image of the Democrats on the pesky little political matter of illegal
immigration. The soft on illegals Democratic administration has deported
far more people than any tough on illegals Republican administration before
it.

In 2011, President Obama presided over a record number of
deportations, 396,906, which was at least one too many.

Her name is Jacadrian Turner (ph). She ran away from home in Dallas
in November of 2010, after the death of her grandfather and the divorce of
her parents. Her grandmother, Loreen Turner, started looking for her and
never gave up.

With the help of the Dallas Police and through messages on Facebook,
she has finally found out what happened to her granddaughter. Jacadrian
was arrested in Houston in April of 2011. She gave a fake name, as many
teenagers do when they are arrested without I.D.s.

But as bad luck would have it for Jacadrian, when she was arrested,
the name she gave actually matched a Colombian illegal immigrant.
Immigration officials fingerprinted her and deported her to Colombia, where
she was given a work card and released.

Jacadrian was 14 when she got arrested in Houston. The woman the
immigration officials mistook her for is 22 years old. Jacadrian is an
African-American Texas girl who didn`t speak a word of Spanish. But
immigration officials were untroubled by any of that as they rushed her out
of the country to try to get that record on deportations.

Now they say they are fully and immediately investigating this matter.
And U.S. embassy officials in Bogota, now realizing the ridiculous mistake,
have tried to help Jacadrian return home. But her grandmother says they
told her that she will have to pay for the plane ticket.

Another great job by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division
of the Department of Homeland Security. Thanks for keeping America safe,
guys.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It is with some nostalgia that I
return to this place that I love so well. But I am really here for one
reason and one reason only. And that is to make sure that we make Mitt
Romney the next president of the United States. And New Hampshire -- and
New Hampshire is the state that will catapult him on to victory in a very
short period of time.

That`s why I am here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Senator John McCain endorsing his former rival in
the 2008 Republican presidential campaign, Mitt Romney. Joining me now is
MSNBC contributor, "The Daily Beast" columnist and Senator John McCain`s
daughter, Meghan McCani.

Meghan, politics is a tough business. Here`s your father last night.
He`s watching these returns come in and he`s got a choice. He`s got two
guys he hates, and he`s got to endorse one of them. He hates Romney from
the campaign of 2008. He hates him.

MEGHAN MCCAIN, "THE DAILY BEAST": He doesn`t.

O`DONNELL: Every other Republican candidate hated Romney. Come on.
And then Santorum. He hates Santorum, stupid enough to say things like
John McCain doesn`t understand torture, and all those crazy things Santorum
has said.

MCCAIN: Santorum is a moron. There`s a big difference.

O`DONNELL: You go ahead. I love hearing Republicans call Republicans
morons. You have the floor.

MCCAIN: No, but he really does like Mitt Romney. I was telling you
in the break --

O`DONNELL: The camera finds the truth, OK? Say that again. Say John
McCain likes Mitt Romney. And do a close up of Meghan, OK, and see if we
can -- if the camera can find --

MCCAIN: John McCain likes Mitt Romney, and Meghan McCain likes Mitt
Romney, and Cindy McCain likes Mitt Romney, and the whole McCain family
likes Mitt Romney.

O`DONNELL: Is there a pill you take --

MCCAIN: Do you want to hear why I like him? He came on the road with
us.

O`DONNELL: Romney voters don`t like Mitt Romney. It`s like lesser of
five evils. That`s why they vote for him.

MCCAIN: The thing that I found out about him is I`ve had the
opportunity obviously to get to know him personally. And he`s quite
likeable and quite charming.

O`DONNELL: He`s a robot.

MCCAIN: No, he`s not. In person, he`s not. He`s not at all. No,
that`s not the conversation that took place. But if he had endorsed
Santorum, I would be like slitting my wrist on the table right now.

O`DONNELL: He could have not endorsed anybody right now.

MCCAIN: I don`t think that`s appropriate. I think it sort of lacks
courage not to endorse someone and get behind someone this late in the
race, especially if you were the previous nominee. I find it quite lacking
courage the people that refuse to do it.

O`DONNELL: Did you get to the studio in time to hear the earlier
discussion where -- in the beginning of the show, were discussing, is the
McCain endorsement worth much this time around? Because both parties --
both parties hate their losers.

I heard Democrats say the most awful things about John Kerry after he
lost the presidency by like 60,000 votes in Ohio, like he was the worst
thing that ever happened to him. Michael Dukakis, like no one has ever
wanted to see the man again. You can go through these names of people who,
when they get the nomination and then they lose the presidency, the party
never wants to hear from them again.

Do you get -- what`s your filing in the McCain family about how that
name works in endorsement world now?

MCCAIN: I think in New Hampshire, the McCain name is still very
strong. I think my father could run for governor of New Hampshire right
now and probably still win. He has a strong relationship with New
Hampshire. I feel like I have a strong relationship with New Hampshire and
understand the people there.

And I think it will carry a lot of weight. What people think about a
losing candidate is their prerogative. I think becoming a nominee, even if
you are Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, is a feet unto itself.

O`DONNELL: The thing about endorsements is whenever somebody trashes
an endorsement, as I do all the truth of every candidacy is they would all
like the endorsement.

MCCAIN: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Like Santorum, say what he will, he would have liked to
get that endorsement today. Even when they talk about it may be a
tarnished endorsement.

MCCAIN: Yes, Huntsman today said it means nothing. His endorsement
means nothing. I`m sure it would have meant nothing if he endorsed
Huntsman. You know, it`s all a game in politics.

But I think he made the right choice. I think it`s good to be out
there. I really do like Mitt Romney. And I used to steal his signs and
make fun of his sons back in the day.

O`DONNELL: You admitted in your book to an obsession with Mitt
Romney.

MCCAIN: I was obsessed with the sons. They are just perfect and
beautiful, and my family is kind of like this rag tag, like tattooed bunch
of drinkers.

O`DONNELL: You`re real. The McCains are real.

MCCAIN: Listen, they are going to have a problem with this. They are
a perfect family.

O`DONNELL: They are robots. They`re not a perfect family. They`re
robots. There`s a difference.

MCCAIN: They are not. They are just Mormon, which is a little
different. There`s like Mormon culture that`s very glossed and beautiful,
which I think could actually play very well.

The Obamas have the same thing. They look like they have a perfect
marriage and a perfect family, which is probably not true because nothing`s
perfect.

O`DONNELL: The Obamas might be perfect. MSNBC contributor Meghan
McCain, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog, TheLastWord.MSNBC.com.
You can follow my Tweets @Lawrence. "THE ED SHOW" is up next.

END

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