updated 2/22/2012 11:51:03 AM ET 2012-02-22T16:51:03

Guests: E.J. Dionne, Barry Lynn, Charniele Herring, Terry O`Neill; Krystal Ball; Lizz Winstead

ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED
SHOW tonight from New York.

Reverend Franklin Graham questions President Obama`s Christianity
after Rick Santorum compares the president to Hitler.

The radical attack on women in Virginia is delayed, and Mitt Romney
steps in it like never before.

Buckle up folks, it`s THE ED SHOW -- let`s get to work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that President Obama is a
Christian?

REV. FRANKLIN GRAHAM, SAMARITAN`S PURSE: I think you have to ask
President Obama. I cannot answer that question for anybody.

SCHULTZ (voice-over): Reverend Franklin Graham joins the conspiracy
theorists portraying the president as a Muslim.

GRAHAM: Under Islamic law, the Muslim world sees Barack Obama as a
Muslim.

SCHULTZ: Tonight, the Reverend Barry Lynn and E.J. Dionne of "The
Washington Post" are here with full analysis. And the White House is
responding.

Today, women in Virginia won a small victory to keep the government
out of their bodies. But the fight continues.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What it is, it`s an invasive procedure and
government entering into a woman`s body.

SCHULTZ: We`ll talk to the Democratic lawmaker on the front lines
against a radical governor.

Plus, NOW`s Terry O`Neill, women`s activist Lizz Winstead and
Democratic strategist Krystal Ball on the Republican war on women`s health.

And a week away from votes in Michigan and Arizona, the campaign
vitriol is heating up.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama is the most
dangerous president in modern American history.

SCHULTZ: Jonathan Alter and Richard Wolffe will break it all down.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ: Good to have you watching us tonight, folks. Thanks so much
for joining us here on THE ED SHOW.

You know, you can make the case that the religious right has taken
control of the Republican Party. Today, Reverend Franklin Graham
officially became part of the right wing smear machine to bring down the
president and inject more questions in his past about Christianity.

Graham was on MSNBC this morning speaking about the president`s faith.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that President Obama is a
Christian?

GRAHAM: I think you have to ask President Obama. You can ask me do I
believe you`re a Christian. I think the best thing for a person is to ask
you directly. So, I think people have to ask Barack Obama, he`s come out
saying that he`s a Christian.

So I think the question is what is a Christian? A Christian is a
person that believes Jesus Christ is God`s son who died on the cross by our
sins, who God raised to life and that if we put our faith and trust in him,
that God will forgive us of our sins. That`s the definition of a
Christian.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: By Graham`s definition, it sounds like President Obama is a
Christian, but Graham isn`t willing to accept it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: I asked him when he was running, when he was a senator I
asked him how he came to faith in Christ. He said that he was working on
the south side of Chicago, in the community, and they asked him, the
community asked him what church he went to, he said I don`t go to church.
They said if you work in our community you have to join one of our
churches, and then he joined the Reverend Jeremiah`s church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, therefore, by your definition, he`s not a
Christian?

GRAHAM: Again, you have to ask him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: This is becoming a pattern, is it not? Last weekend, Rick
Santorum was implying the president`s Christianity isn`t legitimate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe he`s less of a Christian, that --

SANTORUM: No one is suggesting that. I`m suggesting that, you know,
obviously as we all know in the Christian church, there are a lot of
different stripes of Christianity. And so, you can say he`s -- I`m just
say he`s imposing his values on the church.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Well, if you want to know why conservatives are questioning
the president`s faith, all you have to do is look at the Dow Jones, which
hit 13,000 today. The economy is not the president`s weakest spot right
now.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama is going
to keep focusing on economic matters, like the payroll tax cut.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He firmly believes that
getting an extra $40 in every paycheck is of vastly greater significance to
most Americans than someone`s opinion, expressed on cable television about
his personal faith, which again he has spoken about explicitly as recently
as a few weeks ago at the national prayer service.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: In fact, when the president spoke at the national prayer
breakfast, he talked about praying with Franklin Graham`s father, the
Reverend Billy Graham.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact I would ever
be on top of a mountain, saying a prayer for Billy Graham, a man whose
faith had changed the world and sustained him through triumphs and
tragedies and movements and milestones, that simple fact humbled me to my
core.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Reverend Graham, I have to ask you tonight, doesn`t that
give us a snapshot of President Obama`s heart? Examining someone`s heart,
mind, conscience, isn`t that part of it all?

I guess that`s not enough for Franklin Graham. The president still
hasn`t proven himself. But Graham is totally convinced that Rick Santorum
is a Christian.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that Rick Santorum is Christian?

GRAHAM: Oh, I think so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you know? If the standard is only the
person knows what is within them, when you apply to the president is why it
different for Rick Santorum?

GRAHAM: Because his values are so clear on moral issues. No question
about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your reaction to the difference to the question
about Rick Santorum and President Obama I think just exposes some
incredible double standard you are applying those two people. They are
exactly the same situation.

GRAHAM: No, I asked President Obama how he came to faith in Christ.
And he said I don`t go to church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you had that conversation with Rick Santorum?

GRAHAM: I talked to Rick Santorum, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was just more persuasive on the depth of his
sincerity on the question?

GRAHAM: Well, I think so. But you have to look at what a person does
with his life. Anyone can say he`s a Christian.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Graham spends a lot of time deciding who is a real Christian
and who is not. Here`s what he thinks about Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: Most Christians would not recognize Mormonism. Now, of
course, they believe Jesus Christ, but they have a lot of other things that
they believe in too that we don`t accept.

I think Newt is a Christian. And at least he told me he is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: So, Newt Gingrich told Franklin Graham that he`s a Christian
and Graham believes it. But when President Obama says it, well, for Graham
that`s not enough he`s not sure.

Franklin Graham and Rick Santorum are talking to a very specific
audience, but millions of people. It`s the arena of fairness I think right
now. They`re not being fair to the president. They are giving license to
ordinary people to reject President Obama because his personal faith
doesn`t seem to measure up to a pastor, a preacher, a reverend. It doesn`t
matter.

If it`s true or not, millions of people listening to Graham and his
father -- well, all they need to do is cast the doubt and the people will
believe them.

Get your cell phones out, I want to know what you think. Tonight`s
question: will Republicans ever stop questioning President Obama`s faith?
Text A for yes, text B for no, to 622639. And you can go to our blog at
Ed.MSNBC.com. We`ll bring you results later in the show.

I`m joined tonight by Reverend Barry Lynn, executive director of
Americans United, and a minister with the United Church of Christ. We
should point out that we invited Franklin Graham to come on the program and
he declined.

Reverend Lynn, great to have you with us tonight.

BARRY LYNN, AMERICANS UNITED: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: Is the right wing imposing a religious test on President
Obama and other Republican candidates? What do you make of the
conversation?

LYNN: Oh, no, they absolutely are, Ed. They`re trying to make it
clear they only respect one kind of Christianity. It`s the one that is
reflected in I guess the conduct and positions of someone like Rick
Santorum.

They are bound and determined never to give President Obama credit for
anything. When he goes to that somewhat controversial, very controversial
prayer breakfast, he talks about his faith and right away, they start to
criticize him. They say well he quoted from the Bible but misinterpreted
the words of Jesus.

This guy cannot do anything right by their standards. When in fact he
does reach out to the so-called religious right or Catholic bishops, we see
what they do. Do them something that maybe makes a few us uncomfortable on
the other side and they don`t say thank you, they just say you`re still
wrong.

So, now, we`ve got the Catholic bishops on the Health and Human
Services contraceptive regulations saying we want a guarantee that if you
are a Catholic employer -- their example, not mine from the general counsel
of Catholic bishop -- if I own a Taco Bell and don`t believe in
contraception, and he didn`t, he said I don`t want to cover those women
employees. They want everything, they never give up.

SCHULTZ: I want to focus back on the president`s faith here, because
it seems to me that Reverend Graham isn`t hearing the language they want to
hear. Such as Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.

Apparently, the resident hasn`t said that to the satisfaction of
Reverend Graham. But the National Prayer Breakfast just a few weeks ago,
the president did say this in a very personal manner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I thought about my own spiritual journey, growing up in a
household that wasn`t particularly religious, going through my own period
of doubt and confusion, finding Christ when I wasn`t even looking for him
so many years ago, possessing so many shortcomings that have been overcome
by the simple grace of God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Finding Christ, that doesn`t fit the code apparently.

LYNN: No.

SCHULTZ: What do you make of it?

LYNN: Well, I mean, it doesn`t fit their code. Christianity has got
a broad sweep of people who believe an essential message about God and
about the role of Jesus. But they don`t care about that.

Until Barack Obama said, you know, I`ve changed my mind on the
question of reproductive choice, or I`ve given up on trying to separate
church and state, I think we should merge the two -- you`re going to find
the smear campaign. Franklin Graham`s one thing, Rick Santorum is another.

Here is Rick Santorum saying it`s a phony theology that is being
promoted by President Obama. A phony theology. We`re not hiring a
theologian in chief. We`re hiring a command near chief.

This kind of attitude, this kind of language -- no place on the
campaign trail, not in America.

SCHULTZ: Here is more from Franklin Graham today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: Islamic law, under Sharia law, Islam sees him as a son of
Islam because his father was a Muslim, his grandfather was a Muslim, great-
grandfather was a Muslim. And so, under Islamic law, they -- Muslim world
sees Barack Obama as Muslim, as a son of Islam. That`s just the way it
works.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t believe he`s a Muslim.

GRAHAM: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Categorically not a Muslim.

GRAHAM: I can`t say categorically because Islam has gotten a free
pass under Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Wow. I find that absolutely amazing. What does Barack
Obama have to say or do to prove to the Christian right wing in this
country that he is a man of faith and he has had journey to Christ and now
he`s throwing out that dog whistle called, maybe he is a Muslim. What do
you think of that?

LYNN: And he says we can`t categorically be sure he`s a Christian, he
could be a Muslim because Muslims like him. I mean, this is the worst kind
of logic.

You know, Franklin Graham has always been on the fringes of American
religious life. He may not think so, but I think most regular people do.
But now, he`s gone completely off the deep end. And again, I think you`re
right to point out, this is part of a campaign, a smear campaign in which a
lot of people --

SCHULTZ: What else could it be?

LYNN: Well, nothing.

SCHULTZ: What else could it be?

LYNN: Well, that`s not a rational dialogue about theology. It`s Rick
Santorum and Rick Perry is out of the race now, at least for another four
years, but he`s the guy who wants to impose his religious views on
everybody.

SCHULTZ: Thank you, Reverend.

LYNN: President Obama does not want to do that and he never has.

SCHULTZ: No doubt. Reverend Barry Lynn, thanks for joining us.

LYNN: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: I want to turn now to MSNBC contributor E.J. Dionne, senior
fellow at Brookings Institution and columnist for "The Washington Post."

Are religious conservatives, E.J., just taking over the Republican
Party and throwing out test after test to see if people measure up?

E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it sure looks that way.
Although, I got to say, Ed, that I have the sneaking suspicion as far as
Michigan is concerned, that Rick Santorum may have gone too far, and if he
loses this next week, which now I think is a real possibility, I think it
is going to be conservative women who are not that conservative, as
conservative as Rick Santorum is.

But I want to go back to the Franklin Graham thing, the fact that we
are even talking about what religion President Obama is should really
disturb us as Americans.

I was thinking about recent history, Dwight Eisenhower didn`t belong
to a church until he decided to run for president. And then a Republican
advisor said, you know, you better join a church, and he decided to become
a Presbyterian. We didn`t care what religion Dwight Eisenhower was when he
was commanding our forces in Europe or when he was president.

And in 1960, we decided as a country when we elected John Kennedy that
he didn`t have to be Protestant anymore to be president of the United
States. And so, even to enter into this conversation I think is
bothersome. It`s fine with me. In fact, I think religious people have a
right to bring their own faith to the public square if they want to, but to
start questioning someone`s religion and saying, you know, questioning
someone`s religion as if that`s a barrier to being president is a real
problem.

SCHULTZ: Well, it seemed to me in that interview this morning, that
Reverend Graham said, based on his analysis, he does not think people
should support President Obama. I mean, that`s how I read it. I mean,
there was a real political message there, he could not give conviction in
saying he believes that the president is a Christian, which is code talk to
the religious conservatives in the country.

But he also throws in the Muslim talk. I mean, what should the
president do? Is he -- should he give us another speech on race and faith
in this country? Are we at that point? Or should he ignore it?

DIONNE: I think mostly he should ignore it although actually I think
he should -- I like it when he talks about his faith because he`s very
effective when he does it. I don`t know what the Reverend Graham was
trying to say, but what he said explicitly was troublesome enough. When he
said Islam has gotten a free pass under President Obama, tell that to al
Qaeda or the Taliban, when he seems more concerned about the Muslims of the
world than Christians who are being slaughtered.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

DIONNE: I agree with him, by the way. We should worry about the
persecution of Christians in the Muslim world. But to say that about
President Obama, that`s not just sending a signal or dog whistle. That is
a really serious charge and it`s not true.

SCHULTZ: E.J. Dionne, thanks for joining us tonight. I appreciate
it.

DIONNE: It`s great to be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Remember to answer tonight`s question there at the bottom of
the screen, share your thoughts on Twitter @EdShow. We always want to know
what you think.

Next, a controversial ultrasound bill is once again delayed in the
state of Virginia. Democratic lawmaker Charniele Herring calls it state-
sponsored rape. I`ll ask her why.

The politics of this is ugly and may be a wake up call for women
voters every where. Jonathan Alter, Richard Wolffe join me for the
discussion.

Stay with us. Lots more coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Coming up: the Virginia House of Delegates delays a vote on
radical women`s health bill. I`ll talk to one of the lawmakers on the
front line of the fight against the radical law.

And last week, we told you about Republicans refusing to allow a woman
to testify on contraception on Capitol Hill. This week, Democrats are
holding their own hearing, but Republicans won`t allow it to be televised.
Much more on the war on women`s health, coming up.

And Mitt Romney said something today that has conservatives groaning.
Richard Wolffe and Jonathan Alter have the latest from the trail.

Share your thoughts on Twitter, using #EdShow.

We`re right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an under-handed slip and slide way to
try to come up with a way to undermine Roe v. Wade. But in so doing so,
it`s crashing women`s rights, it`s crashing women`s health, it`s crashing
the doctor-patient relationship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

It`s politics 2012.

The House of Delegates in Virginia has once again delayed a vote on a
controversial ultrasound bill. The bill would require women seeking
abortions to receive a highly invasive and medically unnecessary
transvaginal ultrasound first. A vote was put off yesterday, following a
protest outside the state capital. The measure would impose a 24 hour wait
period between the ultrasound and the abortion.

The ultrasound image would be offered to the woman although she would
not be required to view it. But a printout of the image would be placed in
the woman`s medical record.

Critics of the bill say the requirement would also be costly for women
because insurance companies are unlikely to cover a medically unnecessary
procedure.

Let`s turn to Charniele Herring. She`s the minority whip of the
Virginia House of Delegates and chair of the state`s Reproductive Rights
Caucus.

Charniele, thank you for joining us tonight.

I understand that you have -- I understand that you have referred to
this as state sponsored rape. Is that correct? And if so, why?

DEL. CHARNIELE HERRING (D), VIRGINIA: Yes, that`s absolutely correct.
I call it state-sponsored rape because there is no medical reason to have a
trans-vaginal probe. I think it`s an overreach of the government, and it
violates women`s privacy.

SCHULTZ: Why the delay? Are the Republicans in retreat over their
own legislation here? Why didn`t they take the vote today? The governor
has said, I understand, that he will sign this. And he, of course, is a
social conservative.

HERRING: Right, I think there is a delay because yesterday, Ed, over
1,000 Virginians stood in silence protest on the grounds of the capitol. I
think the message is clear the legislation is extreme, even though the
governor said he would sign it, and he has not definitively backed away
from that position.

So, what you saw yesterday and today is a delay on the legislation
because the Republicans have a serious problem on their hands.

SCHULTZ: The majority of Virginians are against this. Why is the GOP
going against the will of the people? I understand the number that has
been out there is 55 percent of Virginians say no, 36 percent say yes -- 36
percent isn`t exactly overwhelming.

What do you make of this? Why are they going down this road?

HERRING: Right. Well, I think they are they are clinging to the
extreme right of their party. They don`t want to back down. And they
basically want to cram it down our throats.

But you know what? They`ve got to listen to Virginians, 55 percent
say this is wrong. You cannot violate a woman this way.

You know, Ed, it`s like ironic that they talk that they are the party
of small government. Well, here they are, big government, reaching into
the doctors office and straight in a woman`s body. It`s unacceptable.

SCHULTZ: Well, it is a government takeover. There`s no question
about that. It is forcing a medical procedure on a woman and it`s ordering
the medical community to do something that is deemed unnecessary in many
cases.

How is the medical community responding to this legislation?

HERRING: I can tell you they are concerned. They certainly are
concerned. You know, I actually tried to amendment the bill to give
protection to doctors and my amendment was ruled non-germane.

So, you know, when the medical community is not being listened to,
women are not being listened to, I would hesitate, too, if I were the
Republicans, because they`ve gone awry, they`ve gone too far.

SCHULTZ: Governor McDonnell has been talked about in circles as a
possible vice presidential candidate. Does that play in into this at all,
this delay? What about that?

HERRING: Perhaps it does. I think it does play in the delay because
there is a concern. Virginians are speaking out and they`re loudly. There
has been a wake-up call. And I`m glad women and men who respect the right
to privacy and freedom are speaking out.

I think it will affect Governor McDonnell. It will affect the
Republican that`s running for the Senate, George Allen, because they both
not definitely said --

SCHULTZ: Where is he on this?

HERRING: -- that we oppose these bills?

SCHULTZ: Where is George Allen on this?

HERRING: I know that George Allen has supports the personhood bill
which actually affects contraception. It actually may impede women`s
ability to get contraception in Virginia.

SCHULTZ: Do you think this issue is big enough where it could
politically swing the state? I mean, it would have an impact that this
issue could have an impact as to who gets elected and who doesn`t?

HERRING: I think it can have an impact, certainly. Again, Virginians
are watching, you know, and it`s certainly been a swing state for years
now, and it makes it even more so. But if the Republicans continue with
their policies of big government, and reaching into our private lives, they
can see a turn in the tide.

SCHULTZ: Delegate Charniele Herring, thank you for joining us
tonight, from the Virginia House of Delegates.

HERRING: Thank you so much.

SCHULTZ: I appreciate it very much.

First, the Republicans wouldn`t let women testify at a birth control
hearing last week. Now, Democrats are holding their own hearing but
Republicans say, no, you can`t televise it. Terry O`Neill, Lizz Winstead,
Krystal Ball all on board tonight to weigh in on that and much more.

Later, gas prices are -- well, they`re going up at the pump, and
Republicans are trying to take advantage of it at the polls.

Stay tuned. We`re right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: The Republicans war on women shows no signs of letting up.
Last week, the GOP denied women an opportunity to testify before Congress
on the subject of birth control. Republicans heard testimony from an all-
male panel instead.

Today, Democrats announced that they`re going to be holding a hearing
of their own, with just one witness. A lady on this program, Sandra Fluke.
Fluke was on this program and gave the testimony to the Republicans that
they would not allow.

The Republicans in turn are not allowing the Democratic hearing and
Fluke`s testimony to be televised. "Politico" reports aides for Democratic
leader Nancy Pelosi say the hearing recording studio has denied a request
to broadcast the event, apparently at the behest of the Republican
controlled committee on House administration.

Meanwhile, evangelical leaders joined the catholic bishops in
opposition to the president`s administration`s compromise on contraception.
Family research council president Tony Perkins says more than 2500 faith-
based leaders have signed a letter to President Obama asking him to reverse
the birth control rule.

And it doesn`t stop there. Now, a Republican lawmaker in Indiana
wants to kill a resolution honoring the girl scouts. Why? Because he
believes the girl scouts are a radicalized organization that encourages
homosexual life styles, promotes feminist lesbians or communists and funds
Planned Parenthood. His proof? In a letter, state representative bob
Morris claims "I did a small amount of web-based research and what I found
is disturbing."

I`m joined by Terry O`Neill, president of the national organization
for women, democratic strategist Krystal Ball is with us tonight and also
Lizz Winstead, co-creator of "the daily show" and author of "Liz, Free or
Die" and she will be performing at the Wheeler Opera House at Aspen,
Colorado this Thursday.

I guess this is what the war on women looks like. We know what
democracy looks like.

Lizz Winstead how outraged are you by the news?

LIZZ WINSTEAD, CO-CREATOR, THE DAILY SHOW: It just keeps getting
worst. And you know when you hear the story that the girl scouts are based
on, you know-I hope that radical feminists actually, I would be thrilled
and delighted if those secular money - right, exactly.

But more than anything, when it moves from moral outrage we don`t have
women on the panel because they don`t apparently qualify to any have kind
of conscience, to now Rick Santorum talking about how, and Roy Blunt
talking about legislation that, you know, morality can be very -- they are
moveable parts.

And that is very frightening to me to think that somebody can say I
can deny you health care coverage because this particular thing may lead to
you doing something that I morally object to.

SCHULTZ: Crystal, what about this law in Virginia, if it passes, it
is the most restrictive law since Roe V. Wave when it comes to women`s
health. And I want to play this clip that was just on this program a
moment ago. This is Virginia delegate Charniele Herring and this is how she
described it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARNIELE HERRING, VIRGINIA DELEGATE: I called it state-sponsored
rape because there is no medical reason to have a trans-vaginal probe. I
think an overreach of the government and violate women`s privacy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Your response to that, Krystal?

KRYSTAL BALL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think she has it right. In
fact if you look at the laws on the books in Virginia it does qualify as
rape. So let`s call it what it is. You are forcing women to undergo a
trans-vaginal probe they do not want. But this is one piece of a broader
Republican agenda that they have brought since they took over the Senate.
They actually have a tie on the Virginia senate. But the tie breaker is
the Republican lieutenant governor. And we have seen one piece of extreme
legislation after another.

This week alone in terms of women`s rights we have the probe bill that
has been talked about. There`s a personhood bill, which very same as the
one too extreme to pass by the voters in Mississippi. And they are looking
to totally eliminate funding for low income women seeking an abortion for
fetus that has been deemed grossly, mentally or physically disabled.

SCHULTZ: Terry O`Neill, I want to ask you. Obviously, Wisconsin was
a wake-up call for workers in this country and wage earners. It is what is
happening paralleling that for women`s health. I mean is this is a real
wake-call? Is this where the Republican Party wants to go and should all
women be on alert this could be the new wave in America?

TERRY O`NEILL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN: I think
this is a new wave in America. I think women around the country are waking
up and really a sleeping giant is being awakens here because it`s not just
women, its men. Men support birth control. The personhood bill
criminalizes the most popular forms of birth control, criminalizes In Vitro
fertilization, criminalizes abortions even in the case of rape or incest,
criminalizes abortion to save the life of a pregnant woman whose pregnancy
has gone disastrously wrong.

And its men as well as women that are opposed to this. We know that
because the bill went down to a resounding defeat in none other than the
state of Mississippi. And that ultrasound bill, I think is a very good
thing that we are getting national attention. Actually Virginia is the
sixth or seventh or eighth state to pass an ultrasound bill. It is state-
sponsored rape. The FBI re defined rape to mean simply penetration without
consent. That is exactly what this bill requires. It forces doctors to
commit rape. It`s outrageous.

SCHULTZ: Lizz, what about the contraception hearing that will take
place, and the Democrats are trying to get the story across to the people,
the Republicans won`t allow it to be televised.

WINSTEAD: I think that is the message right there. I think the
Republicans not wanting to hear the voice of the majority of women, when 98
percent of women in this country have used contraception at some point in
their lives, and they want to hold a hearing with one woman who talks about
contraception, and they won`t televise it. Do you need any another message
really?

BALL: Yes. We are truly the 99 percent on this plan.

WINSTEAD: We are.

BALL: And I do want to underscore something else with delegate
Herring said about Governor McDonnell. You know, he has been very popular
in the state of Virginia. In part because they had the Democratic senate
holding back the flood gates of some of the crazy legislation.

Well now, he is the public face of these very extreme measures and it
puts him in a very tough spot especially with his national ambitions. And
remember, he had a problem with women in the past. He wrote as part of his
master`s thesis at Region`s University, some things that would make I think
Rick Santorum proud, anti-contraception, railing against radical feminists
and co-habituates and fornicators, and all sorts of other things. If that
is his introduction to a national audience, it will be devastating for him.

SCHULTZ: Terry O`Neill, Krystal Ball and Lizz Winstead. Thanks for
your time tonight on the issue. We will continue to follow it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN GRAHAM, BILLY GRAHAM`S SON: I think Newt is a Christian.
And at least he told me he is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Up next, Jonathan Alter and Richard Wolffe react to the
Franklin Graham comments and venom from the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president wants to
weaken the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: And Republicans pumping fear over the air waves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS HOST, LOU DOBBS SHOW: Gasoline prices nearly
doubling since President Obama took office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is why nobody talking about this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A headline.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Coming up, we`ll tell you the truth about gas prices.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to "the Ed Show." With the help of Rick
Santorum we have seen a pretty loud resurgence of the religious right in
the presidential election cycle.

Think about it. In 2012 the Republicans are fighting over women`s
access to contraception. They are standing behind an unnecessary invasive
procedure, in the state of Virginia. Republicans are doing a pretty good
job of scaring women voters across the country, aren`t they? But that is
not enough. Once again they are raising questions about President Obama`s
faith.

Let`s turn to MSNBC political analyst and Bloomberg view columnist,
Jonathan Alter and MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe.

Gentlemen, thank you for joining us tonight.

I want to play this from reverend Franklin Graham this morning and get
your reaction, here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: Under Islamic law, the Muslim world sees Barack Obama as a
Muslim. As a son of Islam. That is the way it works. That is the way
they see him. But of course he said he didn`t grow up that way, he didn`t
believe in that, he believed in Jesus Christ, so I accept that. But I`m
just saying the Muslim world, Muslim world, Islam. They see him as a son
of Islam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Richard Wolffe what is he saying here?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it`s pretty clear
what he`s saying. I mean, for start by the way, he made several errors in
his assertions this morning. I don`t quite understand why someone like him
would follow the letter of Shariah law in the first place that seemed weird
in itself. But he claimed the president`s great grandfather was himself,
Muslim. Actually, it was his grandfather who converted first to
Christianity and then to Islam, so he was wrong in his facts but a strange
projection -- obviously what he`s trying to suggest is this president is
sympathetic to Muslims, that he actual le endorses Muslims killing
Christians. That is his assertion in the interview this morning. This is
shocking stuff. He`s obviously saying the president`s un-American, not
aligned with American culture and it`s an outrageous slur and it`s wrong on
the facts.

SCHULTZ: Jonathan, what do you make almost a coordinated political
attacked. We`ve seen Rick Santorum come out and question President Obama`s
faith over the weekend and now this unusual interview with reverend Graham,
what do you make of it?

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t think it`s
coordinated. It just comes naturally to them. This is what they believed.
They are steeped in this nonsense and believe a lot of the stuff they see
on the internet. It`s sad.

If you think about the career of the reverend Billy Graham, one of the
great American lives of the 20th century, advisor too many presidents,
spiritual advisor to them. And his son, not for the first time, descended
in bigotry and stupidity. And you know it`s just kind of a sad thing to
see Franklin Graham taken with any degree of seriousness in the debate but
also good news politically for Democrats. Because what is happening here
Ed, is that between Santorum and Franklin Graham and the some of the other
things you`re hearing, they are talking about a subject that is a total
loser for them. If we`re talking about contraception, Republicans are
losing independence, they are losing voters. It`s a disaster for them if it
keeps up much longer.

SCHULTZ: Let`s talk about the ultrasound bill in Virginia. Is this
is the wake-up call for women everywhere and should President Obama seize
on this opportunity politically, Richard, what do you think?

WOLFFE: I think it radicalizes - I mean, re-energizes, especially
younger women who maybe thought that all of the fights about abortion
rights worth something that belonged to an younger - an older generation.

So, you know. This is a way for people to really engage with what is
a real threat. You don`t have to exaggerate what is going on here when you
have senate candidates like Scott Brown in Massachusetts who are signing up
to the notion that birth control should be dropped. It`s allowed to be
dropped by employers across the board, not on religious grounds, but
because they want to do that.

That strikes me as an area where Democrats can say look, this is where
we stand. These are our values, this is why you should be engaged with
this election, no matter what you think about the other subjects, this
touches your life. That what is politics should be about. It`s about
engaging people on all sides. And this one, look. You talk about 50
percent of the population. So, it is certainly something the White House
should engage with.

SCHULTZ: Yes. And Jonathan, what do Republicans think they are
gaining by reigniting these social issues. I mean, they have always been
there but it`s really at a fever pitch right now.

ALTER: Well, I think it`s mostly reflection of what Santorum actually
believes. And you know, I don`t think -- you got do remember Republicans
they are not any more sitting in some establishment enclave in Washington
saying now what are we going to do to change the tone of the campaign.

This is a party out of control, it`s at war with itself, the
establishment has created a Frankenstein, you know, a lot of the financial
Republicans don`t believe any of this stuff. And yet, they have to live
with this in their party and I think they know once the conversation
changed from religious freedom to contraception, they were in deep doo-doo
as George H.W. Bush used to say.

SCHULTZ: Gentlemen, stay with us. We have more coming, Jonathan
Alter and Richard Wolffe.

FOX News is speaking from Republican talking points about raising
rising gas prices and how it`s affecting President Obama and how it`s
actually his fault, that`s their narrative. Stay with us. We will be
right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Coming up gas prices going up, Republicans are using to it
blame the president. We`ll give you the real reasons next. Don`t forget
to Tweet us using #edshow. Stay tuned, we`re right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to "the Ed Show." The economy is getting
better, no doubt. So high gas prices may be the GOP`s last hope. Analysts
agree higher gas prices are being caused by the tensions with Iran, high
demand from China and a number of U.S. oil refineries closing for
maintenance.

None of this, none of this is the fault of the president of the United
States. But FOX News is all over the Republican talking points.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Ninety one percent gasoline prices nearly doubling since
President Obama took office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gas goes up almost double under this president?
Did anyone see that coming? Here is a guy who said I`m good for the
economy. He has been nothing but bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was $1.84, $1.84 whether President Obama was
inaugurated back in January of 2009.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: When the righties say that gas prices have almost doubled
under President Obama, they simply are not telling the whole story.

President Obama took office during a dip in gas prices, in May, 2008
under President George Bush. Well, gas prices were about $4 a gallon.
Republicans don`t want to compare current gas prices to that.

Now, it is true gas prices could be a problem for the economy. The
energy information administration estimates a $20 increase in a barrel of
oil causes the gross domestic product to define 0.4 percentage points.
Regular folks are in definitely affected when they have to pay more for a
tank of gas. But the Obama administration needs to push back early and
often against the idea that President Obama is to blame. President Obama
will talk about gas prices this coming Thursday in Miami.

In the big finish tonight, Jonathan Alter and Richard Wolffe rejoin
me. And they are back talking about Rick Santorum`s radicalism, Romney`s
money trouble and Gingrich saying President Obama is the most dangerous
president of all time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: "The Ed Show" survey I asked will Republicans ever stop
questioning President Obama`s faith, three percent said yes, 97 percent
said no.

Coming up, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum fight for first while Newt
Gingrich fights for relevancy. Richard Wolffe, Jonathan Alter next on "the
Ed Show."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: The big finish we`re one week away from Michigan and Arizona
primaries, tomorrow night the Republican candidates will gather for one
last debate before voters head to the polls in those states.

Mitt Romney has been fighting hard to avoid an embarrassing loss to
Rick Santorum in his home state of Michigan. And his efforts seem to be
paying off. Last week, a public policy polling survey showed Rick Santorum
ahead of Romney by 15 points. This week, Santorum lead by just 4 points.

In Arizona, Mitt Romney is ahead by 4 points, 36 to 32 percent. But
since the beginning of February, Santorum has more than doubled his support
in Arizona. And while Santorum is throwing out to serve the red meat about
abortion, President Obama`s faith and small government, Mitt Romney
continues to shoots himself in the foot with comments like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If all you`re thinking about
doing is cutting spending, while as you cut spending you slow down the
economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: What was that? You cut spending and you`ll slow down the
economy? That is a total reversal of what the right wing has been saying
for months on end. That kind of comment is why conservative voters, they
just don`t think Mitt can get it done.

Republicans have spent the last three years hollering about cutting
spending as the only solution to fixing the economy. Romney can`t deliver
the rhetoric the GOP primary voters definitely want and I guess need to
hear.

Let`s bring back MSNBC political analyst Jonathan Alter and Richard
Wolffe. So, Jonathan, does that comment throw more ice on the cake for
Mitt Romney?

ALTER: You know, Michael Kinsley said that a gaffe is when you say
something that it`s true and at the point, did Romney just something which
is true. It happens to be very inconvenient for him as you point in the
Republican primary.

I`m glad to hear him establishing a little more connection to reality.
We`ve known ever since the great depression that the last thing you want to
do in the middle of tough economic times is cut spending. You want to
actually increase spending in the short term, cut it in the middle and
longer term for a sound economy.

SCHULTZ: Richard, tomorrow night do you expect Santorum to double
down on the radical positions we`ve heard of late?

WOLFFE: Yes. I think he`ll try to get the crowd going with that. He
may go after the notion maybe Mitt Romney isn`t as severely conservative as
he suggests. So, he can have some fun with that.

You know, he has to be prepared for a lot of in-coming though. Mitt
Romney`s debates performance have improved. He will go after Santorum on
the being a creature of Washington, the lobbying, the ear marks. But, so
far the social piece it is working for Santorum, not for the general
election, but it this race, particularly in Michigan, where the Republican
voters do not like the general electorate. It could carry him over the
line.

SCHULTZ: All right. Mitt Romney is flat out burning through money in
January. Romney`s campaign and super PAC raised $13.1 million, but spent
$32.7. Break it down for us, Jonathan.

ALTER: Well, you know. They have this big 50-state organization, and
it`s expensive. But what all this points to, Ed, is something we talked
about on the program. This campaign is not just about these candidates.
It`s about the plutocrats, the billionaires who are behind them.

So the most important question to ask is not you know what Rick
Santorum or Mitt Romney might say on this or that issue. It`s how far in
his pocket Sheldon Adelson wants to dig. How far does Foster Friess want
to dig in his pocket, you know, for Rick Santorum? These are the questions
that will determine this race.

SCHULTZ: Richard, how do you -- go ahead. Do you want to add to
that?

WOLFFE: I was going to say look, the most troubling number here is
that in the most recent polling from Gallup, 57 percent of Republicans want
this race to continue. They don`t think it`s hurting the party. While, if
they`re that delusional, then yes. You are going to get Foster Friess and
Sheldon Adelson saying, why not keep it going? Unfortunately for the
nominee, their numbers keep going down whether you are Mitt Romney, Rick
Santorum. Your prospects in the general election get worse the longer it
goes on.

SCHULTZ: And how about all of these the abortion talks and what is
happening in Virginia? Gentlemen, I really think this is going to affect
the social conservatives and the average thinking people if there are any
left in Michigan. I think this going to hurt Santorum. Jonathan, what do
you think?

ALTER: You know, I don`t really think so. If you look especially at
these conservative Republican voters in western Michigan, they are there
with Santorum. The issue where this really hurts is among independents.

So if you get a certain number of independents who might be voting in
these upcoming primary, that is where you will see Michigan thing -- the
Virginia business really cutting against the Republicans. And it`s just
poison as Richard indicated in the general election. So, the gas news
price, gas price news is bad news for Democrats, but any time they are
talking about the social issue, there is cheering going on in the Obama
headquarters.

SCHULTZ: You know, this is - it is an amazing dynamic that is playing
out in Michigan. We will see how it enfolds one week from tonight.

Jonathan Alter, Richard Wolffe. Always great to have you, gentlemen,
with us here on "the Ed Show." Thanks so much.

That`s "the Ed Show." I`m Ed Schultz. You can listen to me on Sirius
XM radio channel 127, Monday through Friday, noon to 3:00. Follow me in
Twitter @edshow and like "the Ed Show" on facebook.

"The Rachel Maddow Show" starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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