updated 1/20/2012 12:13:10 PM ET 2012-01-20T17:13:10

Guests: Howard Fineman, Joe Klein, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Toure; Goldie Taylor; D.L. Hughley; David Cay Johnston

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Breaking news: Tonight`s Republican debate
just ended two hours after it started with this explosive question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

JOHN KING, DEBATE MODERATOR: As you know, your ex-wife gave an
interview to ABC News and another interview at "The Washington Post" and
this story has now gone viral on the Internet. In it, she says that you
came to her in 1999, at a time when you were having an affair. She says
you asked her, sir, to enter into an open marriage.

Would you like to take some time to respond to that?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, but I will.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much
of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract
decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would
begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Every person in here has had someone close to them go
through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the
primary, a significant question in a presidential campaign, is as close to
despicable as anything I can imagine.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: My two daughters, my two daughters wrote the head of ABC
and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it, and I am
frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a
presidential debate.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: As you noted, Mr. Speaker, this story did not come from our
network. As you also know, it is a subject of conversation on the
campaign. I`m not. I get your point, I take your point --

GINGRICH: John, it was repeated by your network. You chose to start
the debate with it. Don`t try to blame somebody else. You and your staff
chose to start this debate with it.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Now, let me be quite clear. Let me be quite clear. This
story is false. Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period
says the story was false.

We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren`t
interested, because they would like to attack any Republican. They`re
attacking the governor, they`re attacking me. I`m sure they`ll presently
get around to Senator Santorum and Congressman Paul.

I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking
Republicans.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Joe Klein, a columnist for "Time"
magazine, and Howard Fineman, AOL/"Huffington Post" editorial director and
MSNBC political analyst, both joining us from South Carolina.

Gentleman, we`ve never seen the start of a debate like that before --
explosive, right off the bat.

To each of you, Howard, first, how did you rate, how did you score
round one?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, well, round one went
overwhelmingly to Newt Gingrich in that crowd.

JOE KLEIN, TIME: I can`t --

FINEMAN: There were 1,500 staunch Republicans in there, the Southern
Republican Leadership group, Tea Party people. If Newt Gingrich was
looking for a way to cement his comeback in South Carolina, and to win the
South Carolina primary, that was the way to start out, by making the media
the enemy, the crowd ate it up.

I guarantee you that Southern Republicans and South Carolina
Republicans will do the same.

Listen, if life and politics were only debates, Newt would be king.
They`re not and he`s not. But, certainly, that was a home run for Newt at
the beginning, with this crowd and with this constituency.

O`DONNELL: Joe Klein, if you`re having trouble with your ear piece,
I`m going to have Howard Fineman --

KLEIN: I am having trouble with my ear piece. But I will say that --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Joe.

KLEIN: I don`t think --

FINEMAN: Joe, you disagree?

KLEIN: I kind of disagree. I don`t think that Newt was the king of
this debate. He certainly started off strong, and that will be the sound
bite on all the news programs, because we`re so obsessed with ourselves.

But I think that the guy who really won this debate tonight was Rick
Santorum. Newt is really good at attacking us. Santorum did a fairly
courageous thing tonight. He attacked both Gingrich and Romney on the
substance. He didn`t back down. And he made a very compelling case for
himself. The best he`s done so far, I think.

O`DONNELL: All right. Let`s take a look at exactly what Santorum
did. He had a moment where, as you say, Joe, he went after Newt Gingrich
and Mitt Romney on health care, on the individual mandate. This may be
scored as Santorum`s finest moment to a Republican audience in this debate.

Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Two of the people up here
would be very difficult to elect on, I think, the most important issue that
this country is dealing with right now, which is the robbing of our freedom
because of Obamacare. Governor Romney tells a very nice story about what
his plan is now. It wasn`t his plan when he was in a position to do a
plan.

When he was governor of Massachusetts, he put forth Romneycare, which
was not a bottom-up free market system. It was a government-run health
care system that was the basis of Obama care.

It is an abject disaster. He`s standing by it. And he`s going to
have to run against the president -- he`s going to have to run against the
president, who`s going to say, well, look, look at what you did for
Massachusetts, and you`re the one criticizing me for what I`ve done. I
used your model for it.

Then we have Speaker Gingrich, who has been for an individual mandate.
Not back when the time, when his Heritage was floating around in the `90s,
but his latest comments since 2008, just a few years ago.

I`ve been fighting for health reform, private sector, bottom-up, the
way America works best for 20 years while these two guys were playing
footsies with the left.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Howard Fineman, Santorum is polling now at the bottom of
what is now a four-man race in South Carolina, but it seems to me with
answers like that and maybe a few other entries in this debate, he may have
helped himself.

FINEMAN: Well, I think he did help himself. I think Rick Santorum
did help himself, and I agree with Joe and his analysis, and I`ll go him
one better on it. In the sense that I thought Rick Santorum was the guy
who was speaking reality. He was talking about average lives and average
people more convincingly than the others who were trying to outdo each
other with the sound bites that would impress people like me.

KLEIN: I love the fact that he had his tax returns on the computer.

FINEMAN: The tax returns on the computer.

But I must say, also, that the whole thing -- Rick Santorum had the
slight air of valedictory about him here. It`s an amazing thing the way
the candidates always do the best just before they get shoved off the
stage. He said, you know, I made the final four, I haven`t had time to get
home for my tax returns, and he was in the position of finally being the
prosecutor against the other two guys, against Romney and Newt Gingrich,
which he had, for the most part, personally resisted doing.

You want to be the nice guy here. He turned into the prosecutor at
the end. I`m not sure it`s enough to save him here or elsewhere.

KLEIN: That`s in his DAN, though. He was a prosecutor.

FINEMAN: Yes, that`s what he was. He came out effectively as that.

KLEIN: And the other guy we haven`t mentioned was Romney, who I
thought had a very efficient debate. Nobody really laid a glove on him
again. He didn`t make any real mistakes as he did on Monday when he was
very uncertain of himself. And what we could say about Ron Paul is that he
also was in attendance.

FINEMAN: Yes, if you`re looking, Lawrence, for how it affects the
horse race, and after all, that`s however we cut it, that`s still a
fundamental question with only hours now before the South Carolina primary,
I certainly think that Newt Gingrich, with this crowd and with these people
here, who want a fighter, who like cockfighting, who like the hard
scrabble, who like the confrontational approach, that`s what Newt Gingrich
gives them. It may be short sighted of them going down the road, but these
people here in this state want to feel like they`ve got a feisty person to
go up against Barack Obama. Their hatred of Barack Obama is almost
blinding in its intensity, and Newt feeds that, if I`m not mistaken.

KLEIN: Right. Although, there`s a line -- for the first time in any
of these debates, I saw Newt misuse the English language tonight. He
called his ideas grandiose. That means kind of overly grand, over the top.

And the question is whether people who have been leaning toward Newt
will think him more grandiose than grand after tonight, especially given
the humility and the courage that Santorum showed.

FINEMAN: And also, Santorum basically called him crazy. Not quite in
so many words, he called Newt Gingrich crazy.

KLEIN: Yes.

FINEMAN: And Mitt Romney did behave -- I thought Mitt Romney behaved
in a gentlemanly way for the most part. He got a little irritated when he
thought his character was being impugned. But, you know, Romney was at his
best in the sense that he was the classy guy who could --

KLEIN: He`s unflappable.

FINEMAN: Unflappable classy character.

O`DONNELL: Let`s go to Romney. I think we can all agree that
Gingrich dominated what would be the emotional impact part of the debate.
Romney doesn`t exactly speak from the gut. He, as we know, does kind of
memorized recitations on things.

The crucial issue going into the debate tonight that he`s running into
trouble on in South Carolina, two of them -- one being tax returns, which
we referred to here parenthetically. But the other Bain and his
relationship to Bain Capital, how they made their money, and what kind of
capitalism Bain capital was up to.

Let`s listen to what he had to say about Bain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope I get a chance to
talk about the topic you began with. We`ll come back to the direct attack
from Speaker Gingrich in a moment. So, let`s go back and talk about,
first, what you do to get the economy going.

KING: I`m glad you have that opportunity. I do want to go back and
see if we can clear this up. The questions about Bain, many have been
about the number. You have said 120,000 jobs that you can tie back to
decisions you made at Bain capital. I want you to take your time, sir, and
do the math.

ROMNEY: I`ll do the math, but let me tell you -- I know we`re going
to get attacked from the left, from Barack Obama on capitalism. I know
that people are going to say, oh, you should only practice it this way or
that way and think they know better than the private market.

My view is capitalism works. Free enterprise works. And I --

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And I find -- I find it kind of strange, on a stage like this
with Republicans, having to describe how private equity and venture capital
work and how they`re successful and how they create jobs.

But let me tell you that answer. We started a number of businesses.
Four in particular created 120,000 jobs, as of today. We started them
years ago. They`ve grown well beyond the time I was there, to 120,000
people that have been employed by those enterprises.

There are others we`ve been, some of which have lost jobs. People
have evaluated that since -- well, since I ran four years ago, when I ran
for governor. And those that have been documented to have lost jobs lost
about 10,000 jobs.

So 120,000, less 10,000 means that we created something over 100,000
jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That seems to me to be a typical Romney moment in this
debate. Joe Klein, did he have to do any more than that, or was that good
enough?

FINEMAN: Well, Joe, what they`re asking is, did Mitt Romney in that
latest recitation of the arithmetic of jobs gained and lost, did he give a
credible answer there? Is that as good as he`s going to get?

KLEIN: I think it`s credible to the Republicans, but Newt was headed
in a really interesting direction in his comments just before. And it
wasn`t about the net/net of jobs gained and lost, it was about the private
equity capitalism model, which really has kind of overwhelmed our financial
system over the last 30 years.

And the real questions for Romney in the long-term is, are -- is that
sort of model, which really aggrandizes executive pay and really opens, you
know, iffy companies to ruin, because of the debt that they take on, is
that in the best long-term interests of our free market system?

FINEMAN: Although I think that the other candidates basically skipped
over that tonight.

KLEIN: Right.

FINEMAN: They did not really go after Mitt Romney on that topic,
Lawrence. They didn`t really go down the line that, you know, Barack
Obama`s going to go down. They sort of shied away from that. And I
thought Mitt Romney --

KLEIN: That`s true.

FINEMAN: -- when Mitt Romney said to Newt Gingrich, you know, I
wasn`t holding my breath, waiting for help from Washington, D.C., during
the four years that you were speaker, I thought was a pretty effective
retort by Romney in that case.

KLEIN: Romney`s always going to win that argument with a Republican
audience.

FINEMAN: With the Republican base, for sure.

KLEIN: Yes.

O`DONNELL: I just wanted to point out that those opening answers that
Newt Gingrich gave involving his second marriage, each of them provoked two
standing ovations in his, from the audience. There were no other standing
ovations that any of the other candidates got in the course of the evening.
And that`s what I mean about Gingrich winning the emotion of that crowd,
and winning it very, very early.

When you see that crowd walking out of there tonight, what do you
think in the end most of them are walking out with? What is the most
positive impression of any candidate there that most of them are walking
out with?

FINEMAN: Well, Joe, what do you think the -- I think the most
positive impression that the people are going to have, that they`re going
to walk out of here with tonight, is Newt`s exchanges with the media.

KLEIN: Right.

FINEMAN: Inevitably, we may lament it, complain about it, we may
think we`re just paying too much attention to ourselves, but the fact is
that 1,500 Republicans were invited, were cajoled into partnering with CNN
to take part in this thing. They come to this CNN event, and all the other
networks have done the same thing. They`ve all been forced to partner --
or wanted to partner with Republican groups. The Republican come into
events, and then the Republicans give standing ovations to candidates who
attack the media. That`s sort of where we are. They even did it at the
FOX thing with Juan Williams.

KLEIN: Right. Well, you know, the thing is what it says about
Gingrich. Throughout these debates, his most effective moments of attack
have been against us, have been against -- in attacking us. With that
audience, it`s kind of like saying Osama bin Laden was a bad person.

I mean, he has never mounted, or rarely mounted, effective attacks on
his fellow candidates. And that raises questions about whether he`s going
to have the courage to go after Barack Obama. Because you remember,
Howard, you and I were there, back in the mid-`90s, when he had to go up
against Bill Clinton, he folded like a cheap suit.

FINEMAN: Yes, I don`t think he`s going to do it this time, because I
think the media environment has changed also.

But the thing is, Lawrence, that this really is not an ideological
battle here. All the candidates are arguing about who`s the truest to an
agenda that they all essentially agree on.

KLEIN: Right.

FINEMAN: For the most part.

So the whole body language of the Republican contest is not about
ideology, it`s about who is true and who is able to carry the conflict. If
you`re looking for a fighter, if you`re looking for somebody who loves
conflict and that`s what these Republican voters are looking for, that`s
why Newt has surged into a tie, if not the lead in South Carolina.

O`DONNELL: OK. We`ve got to wrap it there. MSNBC political analyst
Howard Fineman and "Time" magazine`s Joe Klein -- thanks for putting up
with the difficult audio down there.

FINEMAN: Without aid of earpiece, I want you to know.

O`DONNELL: But we have Howard Fineman to save the day. Thank you
both for joining me tonight.

FINEMAN: OK, take care.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Democratic response to tonight`s debate,
the chairman of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, joins me.

And later, the questions over what Mitt Romney pays or doesn`t pay in
taxes. David Cay Johnston is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you release your tax return, specifically?

GINGRICH: An hour ago.

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t even intention
of doing it, but for a different reason. I`d probably be embarrassed to
put my financial statement up against their income. I don`t want to be
embarrassed, because I don`t have a greater income.

SANTORUM: When I get home, you`ll get my tax. Governor Romney has
told what my tax rate is. Mine`s higher than that, I can assure you, but I
can`t tell you what with it was. All I know is that it was very painful
writing a check.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: It is imperative that we defeat Barack Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: This is, I believe, the most dangerous president of our
lifetime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman
Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, the most dangerous president of our
lifetime.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DNC CHAIRWOMAN: Yes, that`s a
pretty astonishing statement, really outrageous.

What we should all be focused on, whether you`re the entire Republican
field, Barack Obama, or any person aspiring to be president of the United
States, we should all be focused on making sure that we can work together
to get this economy turned around and create jobs. And this entire
Republican field is so extreme that they repeatedly demonstrate how they
only care about one job, Barack Obama`s -- and President Obama continues to
demonstrate, like he has in creating 22 straight months of private sector
job growth, that he cares about American jobs.

O`DONNELL: What did you make of attack on the president`s health care
bill and their answers to the question of, would they or how would they
repeal it if they become president?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I mean, I think there`s a reason that you
saw them all twisting themselves into a pretzel, not really being able to
answer that question effectively, because, you know, I don`t know that they
want to straight-up acknowledge, unless you`re Mitt Romney, that they don`t
care whether around insurance company drops you or denies you coverage.
The Affordable Care Act, thanks to President Obama, prohibits insurance
companies from doing that.

And there are 45 percent of the American people who live with a pre-
existing condition. I`m one of them as a breast cancer survivor. I can
tell you that the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Lawrence, I
became one job loss away from being uninsured and uninsurable -- and the
entire Republican field would change it back so that that could happen to
me again. And the millions of Americans like me.

That`s unacceptable, and it`s just demonstrative of how out of touch
they are with middle class working families.

O`DONNELL: Now, Newt Gingrich tried to put pressure on Mitt Romney,
actually during the debate, having his staff release his 2010 tax return,
showing $3.1 million of income, almost $1 million of taxes, federal taxes
paid, on that, just about a 30 percent rate on that.

So this is one very rich guy, Newt Gingrich, who`s demanding that a
super rich guy running for president against him release his tax returns.
How important is it that we get the tax information from Mitt Romney in
particular, who seems the most reluctant to give it?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, it`s just been painful to watch Mitt Romney
twist and turn and do everything he can to avoid just coming right out,
saying that he would release, you know, his tax returns for multiple years,
and be consistent and say that he would show all of his finances and come
clean. He is -- he is clearly uncomfortable about doing that. It`s hard
to understand why he hasn`t just been point-blank and already done it.

Why does it have to wait until April? So that his accountants can
clean up his tax return that he`s filing for this year and figure out what
to do with the previous years?

The American people deserve to know before they cast votes whether
it`s this Saturday or subsequent primary elections or the general election,
they deserve to know what the true facts are about each presidential
candidate`s finances.

Barack Obama released eight years` of tax returns. Every nominee has
released their tax returns. Mitt Romney`s father released 12 years of tax
returns because he thought one year wasn`t enough, because it could be an
anomaly.

Mitt Romney, when asked that question, whether he would do the same
and follow in his father`s footsteps, his answer was -- maybe.

Well, I think the American people deserve a lot more certainty than
"maybe" from someone who aspires to be president.

O`DONNELL: Quickly, before you go, there was a lot of bombardment of
the president in this debate. And other than Gingrich`s just insane
statement about the president being dangerous, which is obviously untrue,
what was -- what do you think was the most false attack launched against
President Obama in the debate tonight? I know that`s a hard thing to pick
out of everything they were talking about.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I`ll tell you, rather than tell you what the
most false attack is, I thought the most false statement was that when Mitt
Romney said that he lives on the streets of America --

O`DONNELL: Yes, yes.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- and understands what people who live on the
streets of America are going through. You know, someone who has a 10,000-
square-foot home and is worth $200 million or approximately $200 million,
that`s not quite someone who`s in touch with people who live on the real
streets of America.

Barack Obama, as a community organizer, as someone who`s been in there
fighting to make sure that people who do live on the real streets of
America have a fair opportunity to be successful in this country, he`s the
one who gets it.

O`DONNELL: The rich guy still hasn`t found a way of admitting that
he`s rich.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairman of the Democratic
National Committee -- thank you very much for joining us tonight.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thanks, Lawrence. As always, thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the taxing questions for Mitt Romney.

And later, Goldie Taylor, Toure, and D.L. Hughley will join me to talk
about Newt`s open marriage problem.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: In 1967, your father set a ground-breaking -- what was then a
ground-breaking standard in American politics. He released his tax
returns. He released them for not one year, but for 12 years.

And when he did that, he said this: "One year could be a fluke,
perhaps done for show."

When you release yours, will you follow your father`s example?

ROMNEY: Maybe. You know, I don`t know how many years I`ll release.
I`ll take a look at what the -- what our documents are. And I`ll release
multiple years, I don`t know how many years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was the most perfectly framed question of the debate,
and it cornered Mitt Romney into making news tonight by saying he will
release multiple years of his personal income tax returns in April.

Newt Gingrich`s campaign actually posted his federal income tax return
for 2010 online during the debate. It shows an adjusted gross income of
$3.1 million, and he paid $994,000 in federal income tax.

Joining me now, Pulitzer Prize winning author, David Cay Johnston, a
columnist for Reuters and a professor at Syracuse Law School.

David, quickly, what do you make off the top of your head of Newt
Gingrich`s tax numbers, if true? Looks like, according to my math, quickly
run here, he`s paying a 31.6 percent effective rate on $3.1 million in
income.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, COLUMNIST, REUTERS: Well, that`s about what we
would expect from someone at his level. Remember, he has earned income.
And we tax wages, salaries, money he gets for speaking fees and consulting
work at a higher level for capital income. If we adopted his plan, his tax
rate would drop to 15 percent on that. That is by more than half.

O`DONNELL: And just to explain to the audience, the 35 percent top
tax rate, virtually no one pays, because someone like Gingrich probably has
a mortgage deduction that could be worth as much as $50,000 off the top, he
probably has a couple hundred of thousands of dollars in investment income
taxed at a lower rate, and that`s why the rate ultimately stumbles down to
around 31 percent.

But as you say, for someone at that income level, that is actually a
fairly high rate to be paying at $3 million of income.

JOHNSTON: It is, because what it tells you are that he has mostly
earned income, unlike Romney, who has said his income is almost entirely
from dividends and capital gains on which, around the 2003 law championed
by President Bush, the maximum rate is 15 percent.

O`DONNELL: Now, I think John King`s question about how many years
will you release is the crucial question. You and I have talked about it
before. If he just releases one year, this last tax year, he can
manipulate that between the time of now and April 15th to make that look as
good as possible. But what we really want to see is a several years back.
What would be a meaningful release in your mind for Romney to do on his tax
returns?

JOHNSTON: Well, Lawrence, he`s been running for president since 2007,
when he filed a disclosure statement. So his last five years of tax
returns he`s had the opportunity to arrange his finances to make them look
as good as possible for running for office. And unlike wage earners, the
vast majority of Americans, he`s in a position to shape his tax return, as
you pointed out the other night.

I don`t particularly care about the last five years` tax returns. I
think the ones that matter are 1984 through 1999. Those are the years he
ran Bain capital. And the questions we want to know are, how much of your
wealth was in carried interest, on which you get paid now and pay taxes in
the future. How much carried interest, if any, does he still have? That
is, how much of his wealth has yet to be taxed?

And then I think there`s a very important question about this $100
million trust fund for his five sons. Remember, he said, I didn`t inherent
anything from my parents. Well, he gave his sons $100 million. What gift
tax did he pay on that? Was there some advice used to get around, perhaps,
Massachusetts state or federal income taxes? We, I think, need to ask
questions about that trust.

O`DONNELL: And he actually did inherit at least a million dollar from
his father, which he neglected to mention tonight.

JOHNSTON: Not very much!

O`DONNELL: But he was already by that time richer than his father
through Bain capital. David Cay Johnson of tax notes, thank you very much
for joining me tonight.

Coming up, Newt Gingrich`s second wife, Marianne Gingrich, tells ABC
news that Newt asked her for an unconventional marital arrangement, and
then ended up divorcing her.

Toure, Goldie Taylor, and D.L. Hughley will join me to talk about
Newt`s little political problem involving open marriage. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIANNE GINGRICH, NEWT GINGRICH SECOND EX-WIFE: I said to him, Newt,
we`ve been married a long time. And he said, yes, but you want me all to
yourself. Callista doesn`t care what I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What was he saying to you, do you think?

MARIANNE GINGRICH: Well, he was asking to have an open marriage, and
I refused.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Marianne Gingrich, Newt Gingrich`s second wife,
in an interview with ABC.

Joining me now are thegrio.com`s Goldie Taylor, and author,
journalist, and pop culture critic, Toure, whose book, "who`s afraid of
post-blackness?" was nominated for NAACP image award for outstanding
literary work of non-fiction.

Toure, the Gingrich marriage is starting to sound like an outstanding
literary work of possible fiction, romantic fiction --

TOURE, AUTHOR, JOURNALIST: Romantic fiction.

O`DONNELL: -- as conceived by Newt Gingrich.

TOURE: Well, we don`t know what happened.

O`DONNELL: We know nothing.

TOURE: We`re totally he said/she said. But this proposal that he`s
making is not toward an open marriage, he`s saying, hey, I got a mistress,
are you going to roll with that or not? That`s not an open marriage.
That`s ridiculous leveraging. And he`s actually giving the very
interesting and viable concept of an open marriage a bad name, just by
being in the same room as it. We can make a reasonable case for it.

O`DONNELL: A reasonable case for open marriage?

TOURE: Yes --

O`DONNELL: You have the floor, sir.

TOURE: Absolutely. It`s about honesty, right? Two people decide we
are comfortable with extracurricular affairs, as long as you come home at
the end of the day, as it were. There were millions of Americans who are
cheating and being dishonest with each other. These people are saying we
are not going to be dishonest, they`re on the floor, or on the table,
saying, you can do what you want to do and come home at the end of the day.
There`s nothing wrong with that.

In America, we freak out at the term "open marriage." In Europe, they
don`t even bat an eye. This is no big deal. Major leaders can have open
marriages and nobody cares.

O`DONNELL: What is the difference between Newt, Goldie, proposing for
an open marriage and Bill Clinton simply executing an open marriage, pretty
much throughout, as far as we can tell, every year?

GOLDIE TAYLOR, CONTRIBUTOR, THEGRIO.COM: Well, let`s be clear. There
is no difference.

O`DONNELL: OK, we can start there.

TAYLOR: We can start there. There is no difference. The only thing
open in an open marriage is somebody`s legs at the wrong time.

O`DONNELL: Oh, boy!

(LAUGHTER)

TAYLOR: I mean that`s sort of the long and short of it. You know, we
have a name for that in America. It`s called roommates. You just don`t
get married if you`re not willing to put together what is a very tight
social contract, that involves finances and possibly children and
households, and yes, sex too. That`s a social contract that really, I
don`t think, has anything to do with the state or anybody else, but between
you and that person. But if you don`t want to be married, don`t get
married. You can sleep what whoever you want to.

O`DONNELL: Let`s talk about the south, let`s talk about South
Carolina, and how we think this plays there. There are fascinating cross-
currents here. Look, we know what the divorce rate is in this country. We
know that the adultery rate is far higher than the actual divorce rate.
And that most of the people in that audience have either been unfaithful to
their marriage vows or know somebody very dear to them who have and
survived it and others who haven`t.

We also know that Christianity was the first of the great forgiving
religions. It`s all about forgiveness. And you can be the worst sinner in
the world yesterday. And everybody in every southern Baptist church can
love you and hug you today, because you`re right with God as of today,
right?

TAYLOR: Sure. Reconciliation I guess.

O`DONNELL: So, how does it play in that culture down there, in that
Republican Christian forgiving culture?

TOURE: Well, one thing I see is that Newt Gingrich seems to say
anything at all; he seems to blow his nose and the audience cheers and
applauds. And anybody --

O`DONNELL: Standing ovations.

TOURE: Yes, and anybody in media is booed, at anything they say to
him, whether It`s Juan Williams or John king. So right now, it seems Newt
Gingrich can do no wrong, and these people, who electorally, don`t want to
get married to Mitt Romney, are willing to put up with anything, including
a potential open marriage, to Newt Gingrich.

O`DONNELL: Now, we went through this whole debate, and he was asked
about this open marriage question. Gingrich was not asked about calling
President Obama the food stamp president. He was not asked about all of
these other statements that are, in many ways, in real, serious ways, far
more provocative than anything having to do with any one of his marriages.

TAYLOR: I do. And I found that strange tonight, that the question
did not come up. But I think you`re dealing with an electorate, you know,
I`m a proud Christian and a proud southern woman. And one of the things
that we believe in is reconciliation.

So the difference between say, a Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain is that
Newt Gingrich admitted his foibles and said, I have sinned, he who sins
casts the first sin, have reconciled with my God, you know, time is almost
over.

But on the other side, you know with Herman Cain, he never did fess
up. He denied it until the bitter end, and thus, he had to leave the race.
So that`s the difference for, you know, many Christians or people of faith.

But as to the racial issues that have been brought up this week, Newt
Gingrich has been doing this for 30 years. He`s been thumping the drum of
racial insensitive for 30 years, stoking people`s fears. I have said
today. I said it on twitter today. They put us all in the same boat.
Black and white, all of us poor, and got us all rowing in different
directions against each other. He`s doing this purposely, so he can drum
up a very specific base that he knows will turn out in this GOP primary.
Those people vote like storm troopers, and if he can get them to his side,
he cannot lose.

TOURE: The open marriage came out today, and there`s something very
in a news political sense, sexy about it. To go back to, unpack --

O`DONNELL: Wait. Open marriage involving Newt Gingrich actually is
not sexy.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: We have to get there.

TOURE: It`s gross, in a java the hut way, but it`s a lightning rod
issue in that sort of way. And sure, it`s the thing that people wanted to
hear about. Hey, Newt, what do you think about this?

So as John king, you`ve got to ask him, and Newt Gingrich`s response
in terms of blaming the media is so gross and off point. It`s not the
media`s problem here. It`s whether or not he did this, and he seems to
have had disgusting behavior toward his wives repeatedly, and whether or
not his wife is telling the truth.

O`DONNELL: Goldie, quickly, before we go, it seems that Gingrich has
a practiced Georgia ear and sensitivity for these racial issues that he
always manages to go straight into. And these are very deliberate choices.
This is a guy who grew up with Lester Maddox of governor of his state. He
seems to know exactly how to phrase this to get those -- the audience
excited about, as one of those people said to him in South Carolina,
putting Juan Williams in his place.

TAYLOR: You know Newt Gingrich is the only guy I know who can make
the word, son, sound a lot like Juan. Newt, not only, you know, can relate
this script, he wrote this script. It was Newt Gingrich who was marching
across the south, training new candidates to run for a new Republican
congress, you know, over those years that he was trying to build that
Republican majority. So he wrote the playbook on this. So he`s just
spitting back the playbook that he, himself, drafted.

O`DONNELL: Toure and Goldie Taylor, thank you both for joining me
tonight.

Toure, we are awaiting your updated version of the book with a chapter
on open marriage which you will be including in the paperback edition of
"Post Blackness."

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: Thank you very much both very much for joining me tonight.

And when we come back, we`re going to talk about the new result, the
rewrite of the election result in Iowa. I never said, never once said that
Mitt Romney won in Iowa.

And D.L. Hughley`s going to be here to talk about what he saw in this
debate tonight. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s "rewrite," the news media has to rewrite its
pathetically unprofessional coverage of the Iowa caucus results two long
weeks ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: It took us a long time to get there, but
Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn making the announcement that governor Mitt
Romney, former governor Romney, won the Iowa caucuses by eight votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Mitt Romney wins the closest Iowa contest
in electoral history, as long as we`ve had the caucuses, and essentially
taking what was early on, looking like a three-way tie and then turning it
into a two-way tie, and now a Mitt Romney win.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The first contest, can you imagine it
being this close? Any tighter? More surprising. The cover of "the Des
Moines register" says it all. Those eight votes were all that separated
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The nation`s biggest newspapers reported it this way.
"The New York Times," "Romney wins Iowa caucus by eight votes." "The
Washington Post" -- "Romney is pretty pleased with Iowa win." "The Wall
Street Journal" -- "Romney ekes past Santorum to win Iowa."

I, for one, never said Romney won Iowa, because by any reckoning, an
eight-vote margin out of more than 121,000 votes cast is a statistical tie.
And by the way, I never forgot that they hadn`t finished counting the votes
in Iowa.

But with Romney falsely declared the winner in Iowa by a news media
that had forgotten the most basic standards of reporting, the media then
set Mitt Romney up to make history in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Mitt Romney has such a lead in New
Hampshire, that if he goes on to win the New Hampshire primary next
Tuesday, he would be the first non-incumbent Republican candidate to win
both Iowa and New Hampshire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And then when Mitt Romney won New Hampshire, he was, of
course, basically granted the nomination by the news media that was so
impressed that he had gone two for two. Now that the vote counting has
stopped in Iowa, Rick Santorum turns out to have 34 more votes than Mitt
Romney. Four times the margin that Romney had over Santorum on election
night. You`d think that the political media would have learned by now that
it isn`t over until it`s over.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Stay with us. We`re about to take you on
an exciting and bumpy ride. All eyes on Florida at this hour, Tim. Both
campaigns made an enormous investment there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: First of all, Florida went for gore.
That`s the biggest thing that`s happened to gore`s chances so far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: We are now able to make a projection in
the state of Florida. ABC news projects that Al Gore wins the state of
Florida and its 25 electoral votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: If you take away Florida, all bets are
off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The Bush campaign is now contesting the
projected victory for Al Gore in the state of Florida. We have colored
that blue for Al Gore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Stand by. Stand by. CNN right now is
moving our earlier declaration of Florida back to the too close to call
column.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: We don`t just have egg on our face, we`ve
got omelet all over our suits at this point and on our face and everywhere
else, because we awarded Florida erroneously at one point, came back, and
managed to make everything equal by awarding it erroneously for a second
time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: If you just stayed with these simple
boards, you wouldn`t have this problem. I got confused, Tom. This is the
answer.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: With the political world wondering how open South Carolina
voters to open marriage, Gingrich style, are it is worth considering the
following statistics. Census bureau data shows that people living in
northeastern states have lower marriage and divorce rates than the national
average and people living in southern states are more likely to have higher
marriage and divorce rates.

And Harvard business school assistant professor Benjamin Edelman
showed in a 2009 study that credit card receipts from a major online adult
entertainment provider finds those states that do consume the most porn
tend to be more conservative and religious. Eight of the top ten
pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in
the presidential election last time around.

Joining me now, "the Last Word`s" senior open marriage analyst, D.L.
Hughley. He will be performing at Caroline`s on Broadway next week on
Wednesday and Thursday, but he`s here with us tonight.

D.L., when it comes to open marriage, I needed to turn to the longest
running married man I know in America because I don`t know Ron Paul. He`s
been married for about 75 years. You`re 25 --

D.L. HUGHLEY, ACTOR, COMEDIAN: It will be 26 years in February.

O`DONNELL: Boy. Boy.

HUGHLEY: You get less time than that for murder.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: You do. In many states, that is very, very true. But
it`s not suffering, it`s a joy.

HUGHLEY: Well, to tell you that it`s a joy every day, it is not. But
I think that I married the only woman that I possibly could. But I was
watching the debates, and it`s just amazing like. So Newt Gingrich wanted
open marriage, he buys a lot of jewelry, and he wants a lot of women.
That`s not a presidential candidate, that`s a rapper. I may not vote for
him, but I`m going to buy his album.

O`DONNELL: Don`t expect to find a rapper under Republican stage.
Yes, it`s -- the -- now, here`s the problem. He stepped into it a little
bit tonight. He was doing great with that thing, no, I don`t want to talk
about it, but now I will a little bit. And then he got the standing
ovation.

And then he got to the point of saying, it`s not true, which has
provoked this from Marianne Gingrich. Terry Moran at ABC news is tweeting
that Marianne Gingrich said, "My story is the truth. If he had really
changed, he could have stepped up tonight and said he was sorry. He never
has." So now he got himself in a fight.

HUGHLEY: Newt Gingrich is the kind of man that will lie when the
truth will do. The bottom line is that if, in fact -- when a man would
leave a woman, the mother of his children, when she is struggling with a
life-threatening disease, then he has forfeited the right forever to say
the word "despicable." Now, if he would leave a woman that bore his
children, who he knows intimately, what do you think he would feel about a
country of 300 million people that he doesn`t even know?

O`DONNELL: We`ve got breaking news that we have to cut into right
now. President Obama in -- at the Apollo theater tonight, and we have
breaking news video of the singing president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And then to know that
reverend Al Green was here.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I`m so in love with you. Those guys didn`t think I would do
it! I told you I was going to do it! The sandman did not come out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: OK, Mitt Romney. Beat that.

HUGHLEY: Let me tell you something. You know what`s funny? White
people voted for George Bush because they wanted to have a beer one. I
will vote for that man because I want play (inaudible).

O`DONNELL: There you go. That`s it. You locked up deal D.L. Hughley
who will vote tonight. D.L. Hughley gets the last word. The `Ed Show" is
up next.

END

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