updated 2/24/2012 2:33:24 PM ET 2012-02-24T19:33:24

Guests: Alex Wagner, Chris Hayes, E.J. Dionne, Joe Klein, Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Capehart

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: It`s simple. If women turn against you,
you cannot win the presidency. But don`t tell Republicans that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: About the Republican debate last
night, what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum clash in Arizona
Wednesday night.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: I thought somebody was going to get stabbed
in the thigh, under the desk.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: Boy, did he get testy last night.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And you`re misrepresenting
the facts. You don`t know what you`re talking about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The moderator asks the questions, the candidates
answer it.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You get to ask the questions
you want, I get to give the answers I want.

JANSING: He didn`t answer the question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a management consultant running for
president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If voters were to vote against candidates who
didn`t answer questions in the debate, nobody would win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looked bad. It was an odd note to end the
debate on.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: The issue of contraception being put on
the table.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We got an issue in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which candidate believes in birth control? And if
not, why?

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The pills can`t be
blamed for the immorality of our society.

BUSH: Too many OB-GYNs aren`t able to practice their love with women
all across this country.

JON HUNTSMAN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Gone are the days
when the Republican Party used to put forward big, bold, visionary stuff.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: I`m not sure right now the Republican brand is
helping itself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All four of those candidates on that stage said
the bailout was a bad idea.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s outrageous. It`s
in excusable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was a good night for President Obama
last night.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: There is even a chance President Obama
could win Virginia.

OBAMA: I know you`re shocked by that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoever wins the Virginia presidential election,
that party`s senatorial candidate will win.

JOHN KING, CNN: Please define yourself using one word and one word
only.

SANTORUM: Courage.

ROMNEY: Resolute.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Cheerful.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: The one word application
to that field is extreme.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: The Republican contest has become a binary choice between
two similarly miscast candidates. You know what? I think I need my
glasses for this one. The tone sort of lends itself to a more scholarly
look.

Mr. Romney is not attracting people who want rationality leavened by
romance. Mr. Santorum is repelling people who want politics unmediated by
theology. Neither Mr. Romney nor Mr. Santorum looks like a formidable
candidate for November.

OK. You know that`s not me. That`s not my voice. That`s not me
talking.

That was George Will`s latest column. And George Will is the brains
of the Republican Party. And that`s why I had to use the glasses, because
you always look a little smarter, a little more thoughtful -- in fact, a
little more like George Will if you put your glasses on.

George Will may have the only functioning brain left in the Republican
Party. He doesn`t just want the Republican candidate to be formidable in
November, he wants the Republican candidate to beat President Obama and
beat him decisively.

So what you just heard was an elegant writer`s version of panic.
George Will and every other professional Republican who knows how to read
polls, they`re all near panic now because of the whole purple strategies
conducted of likely voters of the 12 battleground states most likely to
decide the presidential election. Forget the national polls, forget the
California poll, it`s the 12 battleground states that matter.

Overall, President Obama leads Mitt Romney by four points among those
swing state voters. The president led Santorum by two points, within the
margin of error.

And in Virginia, there is a robo-poll that shows the president now
leading Mitt Romney by six points and leading Rick Santorum by eight
points. Earlier this month, Virginia voters favored Romney over Obama by
three points, and Santorum was scoring four points ahead of President
Obama.

The Virginia poll released today was taken after Virginia`s Republican
Governor Bob McDonnell indicated he would sign legislation that would
require women to receive a transvaginal ultrasound before undergoing an
abortion. As protests mounted over that highly invasive government action,
the Republican governor who has an eye on the vice presidential slot at the
Republican convention yesterday began his retreat.

"Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is
not a proper role for the state. I am requesting that the general assembly
amend this bill to explicitly state that no woman will have to undergo a
transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily."

With Virginia Republicans alienating women and last night`s
presidential debate spending more time on contraception and Senate
procedure than it did on the economy, President Obama today couldn`t resist
a bemused reference to the Republican candidates while addressing rising
gas prices.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Since it`s an election year, they`re already dusting off their
three-point plan for $2 gas. And I`ll save you the suspense. Step one is
to drill and step two is to drill, and then step three is to keep drilling.

Well, the American people aren`t stupid. They know that`s not a plan
-- especially since we`re already drilling. That`s a bumper sticker.

While there are no silver bullets short term when it comes to gas
prices, and anybody who says otherwise isn`t telling the truth, I have
directed my administration to look for every single area where we can make
an impact and help consumers in the months ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Alex Wagner, the host of MSNBC`s "NOW WITH
ALEX WAGNER," and Chris Hayes, the host of MSNBC`s "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES."

Thank you both for joining me tonight.

We`ve seen now that George Will is disappointed in the Republican
prospects and candidates at this point. I want to listen now to Rush
Limbaugh`s take on last night`s Republican debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK HOST: I cringed when I heard him say this.
Santorum is getting cringed for the team player comment. Romney is immune
to any criticism. There isn`t any. He hasn`t done anything at the federal
level. He is outside it.

Santorum, Newt, Paul all look like insiders, and, of course, in every
primary season, base voters claim to want an outsider. This is an
observation that redounds to Romney`s favor if anyone is watching it in
that context.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, when George Will, the most thoughtful
Republican public commentator, and Rush Limbaugh, the least thoughtful
Republican public commentator are both frustrated, the Republican Party is
in trouble.

WAGNER: It is, and I don`t have a pair of glasses to make me look
erudite in saying that, but absolutely.

Look, what good has come out of this race so far? Nothing other than
numbers for Barack Obama. Last night`s debate across the airwaves -- as
you said from George Will to Rush Limbaugh, from George Pataki to Mark
McKinnon, everybody agrees this was not a good debate for the Republican
Party.

The word jobs was mention the six times, the word birth control was
mentioned eight times. I don`t understand what the priorities are here,
but they seem to be like rabid dogs with a bone. They just can`t let go of
this.

This is in a week when you have the leading presidential candidate
talking about the crushing of the Judeo Christian faith by the president
and the satanic verses invoked frequently and repeatedly throughout the
week. I don`t know what the Republican Party is doing.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes, in that battleground state purple poll, they
have an interesting finding about the primaries, asking the question: is
the nominating process strengthening the nominee or weakening the nominee?
Twenty-three percent think it`s strengthening the eventual nominee, and 53
percent got it absolutely right, saying that it is weakening the nominee.

I don`t know how the nominee can get much weaker, whoever he is, than
where they were last night.

CHRIS HAYES, HOST, "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES": Well, I think what`s
interesting is that there`s two things that are happening. One is that as
the economy improves, the Republicans need to completely recast the
strategy by which they`re going to go after the president, and now they`re
banking on gas prices rising in the summer, they`re trying to get out ahead
of that. There`s been this turn to our social issues, although I think
there was a huge strategic miscalculation in which a lot of the Republican
parties thought that would redound to the Republicans, and it has
manifestly not.

And so, to the point where last night, when the issue was brought up,
the Republicans audience booed. And they were booing the fact it was being
brought up because they even now all realize this is no longer good for the
Republican Party.

And then, yes, what was so amazing in terms of what Alex was saying
about the dog with the bone, they all basically said, this is silly, let`s
not talk about it, and then they talked about it. They talked about it at
great length.

O`DONNELL: Right.

HAYES: So, you see that?

And then the other thing I think you saw last night that really hurt
the Republican Party is wrestling with the Bush legacy. And that`s why I
think Rick Santorum`s turn as front runner is so interesting. So far,
George W. Bush has been entirely absent from these debate.

Rick Santorum has to essentially answer for the Bush record because he
was a senator during the Bush years and he owned the reason the debt
ceiling and the No Child Left Behind and the increased deficits.

And the party doesn`t look very good when it sits and meditates for
two hours on the record of the previous Republican presidential
administration.

O`DONNELL: I want to talk about one of the peculiar performances last
night, and I`m going to have a lot more to say about him later in the show,
Ron Paul. There is the developing theory that Ron Paul has become an ally
of Mitt Romney, which is fascinating that the kind of, in a certain sense,
most rightward of all the candidates, the so-called libertarian Ron Paul
would be trying to help the most moderate and historically, in the past,
liberal candidate Mitt Romney.

We had the Santorum campaign today saying, "You have to ask
Congressman Paul and Governor Romney what they`ve got going together."
They`re really complaining about it now at the Santorum campaign.

And then Rand Paul was asked today what he would do if he was offered
the vice presidency by Mitt Romney. And he said, "I don`t know if I can
answer that question, but I can say it would be an honor to be considered."

Alex, are we getting closer to a clue of what this Ron Paul
performance was all about?

WAGNER: Ask not what Ron Paul does, just go with it, Lawrence.

I think they are interesting bedfellows. I use the term bromance
lightly, but I think that`s what`s happening here. We know that their
wives get our friends, we know that Mitt Romney has offered the use of his
private jet and summer home to Ron Paul, who graciously declined.

I think there is some strategic calculation here in terms of setting
up a path for Rand Paul. I don`t think Ron Paul wants a position in Mitt
Romney`s administration. I do think Mitt Romney has everything to gain
here, because, look, we know that Ron Paul supporters are younger, they`re
incredibly enthusiastic. They`re part of a GOP base that Mitt Romney has
not resonated with at all, that nobody is speaking to.

But I remain highly skeptical that any of them are going to follow --
if Ron Paul does endorse Mitt Romney or give his nod of approval, that
they`ll go and be Mitt Romney supporters.

HAYES: What I think is crucial though is that Paul is the perfect
surrogate to attack Santorum as a big government conservative, which is the
line of attack that Romney wants to pursue. Romney is not a very credible
person to deliver the message about ideological purity. Ron Paul is a very
credible messenger and that`s exactly what he`s doing last night.

WAGNER: But it is surprising that Ron Paul, because he is credible,
is effectively functioning as Mitt Romney`s attack dog.

HAYES: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Well, I have a conspiracy to offer to Ron Paul supporters.
They love conspiracy theories, so they might want to think about this one.

Ron Paul serves to support the eventual nominee by taking a position
way out on the right on many issues that drains off some attention from
what would be Santorum support. For example, in a situation like this --
last time around, he did it, and eventually helping to get nominated the
most moderate of all the candidates, John McCain. He`s doing it again in
an effort to help get nominated the most moderate of all the candidates,
Mitt Romney. Historically moderate, anyway, they all seem to be trying to
out-conservative each other today.

And it seems to me that`s the deal with Ron Paul`s Republican Party.
You guys let me get on stage, you guys let me get my 10 percent of the
vote, and I will not interfere in any way with your nominating process of
whoever you guys have decided is next in line to get this nomination.

Chris, do you think I can get any takers on the Ron Paul conspiracy
theory?

HAYES: You know, that strikes me as a fairly cynical interpretation,
although -- I mean, it`s clearly the case that -- it seems to me there is
some bond of personal affection in the case of Romney, and also that Ron
Paul -- Santorum is the first person he`s gone after that he genuinely
seems to dislike. I mean, it was evident last night how much, A, he was
relishing going after Santorum, B, how much it drove him crazy that
Santorum was trying to run away from these votes which of course Ron Paul
took the wrong side on.

So, I think there`s something genuine in what he`s doing in this
specific part of the campaign.

WAGNER: And I think if you listen to any accounts of Ron Paul`s,
quote-unquote, "character," this is almost like a sermon he`s given for
decades. I mean, his voting record on all these issues is fairly
consistent, and I don`t know that he cares about any kind of electoral
votes, he just really believes in this message. It is convenient for the
Mitt Romney campaign, however.

O`DONNELL: He is the libertarian who will not allow women to make
their own choices about their own reproductive rights and choices and
medical options.

So, the consistency -- when he said that word consistent and then
said, in effect, oh, by the way, I`m a libertarian who opposes abortion in
any form, he loses some consistency points there.

Alex Wagner of "NOW" and Chris Hayes of "UP" -- thank you both very
much for joining me tonight.

HAYES: Thank you.

WAGNER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Republican governor of Virginia is
retreating from his crazy position of requiring an invasive pre-abortion
transvaginal ultrasound. Have the Republicans already done way too much to
alienate women voters?

And later -- last night, Ron Paul said Rick Santorum is a fake. But I
will show you how fake Ron Paul is.

And Jonathan Capehart had a run-in with Chris Christie this morning on
"MORNING JOE." Jonathan will get THE LAST WORD on that argument later.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: What Ronald Reagan be to liberal for today`s
Republican Party in terms of their financial policy?

BRUCE BARTLETT: I don`t think there`s any question. Everybody
forgets it, although he cut taxes his first year, he raised them almost
every other year of his presidency 11 different time.

STEWART: Because he was, and I think we both admit now, a communist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN: What about arresting? Should there be aggressive,
seek them out find them and arrest them, as Sheriff Arpaio advocates?

ROMNEY: You know, I think you see a model here in Arizona.

(MUSIC)

ROMNEY: I think you see a model here in Arizona.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The Democratic National Committee released that ad today
using Mitt Romney`s comments from last night`s debate. The Democrats are
obviously trying to preserve the 67 percent of the Latino vote that
President Obama won in 2008.

Joining me now are Joe Klein, a columnist for "Time" magazine, and
E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist and a senior fellow at the
Brookings Institution.

Joe, the cover of your magazine this week, it`s the first headline
you`ve ever had in Spanish, "Yo Decido," I decide. It says, "Why Latinos
will pick the next president."

There was once a time when some Republicans believe they should be
going after the Latino vote specifically because of the demography story
told in "Time" magazine this week.

What happened to that idea?

JOE KLEIN, TIME MAGAZINE: Boy, the thing is, you play to what you`ve
got. And what the Republicans have is an awful lot of scared white people
in their party. And one of the things they`re most scared about is people
of different colors and ethnicities and, you know, backgrounds polluting
their white picket fence sense of America.

You know, Karl Rove was obsessed with trying to win over the Latino
vote because these are people who are, many of them, religiously
conservative Roman Catholics and an awful lot of strong businessmen and
strong family people. It would make sense except they`re doing the best
they can to offend Latinos and women -- and you know, pick your category.

O`DONNELL: E.J., Texas politicians, Republican Texans, seem to get
this. George W. Bush understood it, tried to go for immigration reform.
Rick Perry got booed by trying to tell Republicans to maybe consider having
a heart about this when he was a candidate. And we`re at the point now
where a Univision/ABC News poll shows that 72 percent of Latinos now say
that the Republicans either do not care about their support or they are
hostile to their communities.

So, it seems like whatever chance they had of moving into President
Obama`s Latino support so far, they have lost that chance.

E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: You know, we are really missing the
very liberal Rick Perry from this campaign.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

DIONNE: It`s really astonishing.

But, you know, George Bush showed that you can get the Latino vote up
to 40 percent, some polls showed it even got a little bit more than that.
And among other things, he focused on evangelical Latinos, about a third of
the Latinos are evangelicals, and they went very strongly for President
Bush.

And then something happened -- Republicans went, as Joe suggested,
really, really conservative on the immigration issue or even
restrictionist. It`s not clear what conservative and liberal is on that
issue. And they kicked him away.

And so, John McCain, who had actually been very pro-immigration, had
worked a lot with the Latinos, suffered not because of his own position on
immigration but because of where his party is.

And I think what you have is a Texas model and the California model.
Remember all the way back to Governor Pete Wilson where they had Prop 187
which denied public services to illegal immigrants, the Latinos took that
as a great insult, and the Latino vote was lost in California for a
generation. The Bush model in Texas was much more open.

The national Republican Party right now is pursuing that California
model, and I think it`s going to have the same result.

O`DONNELL: Joe, have you heard any credible cases made by any of the
Republican candidates and their staff and talking to you in the campaign
trail about how they intend to invade the Obama vote of 2008 and strip away
voters in any categories? Have they identified any categories where they
think they might be able to go in there and take some Obama voters away?

KLEIN: Well, they`re still kind of obsessed with the so-called Reagan
Democrats. And the truth is that their best argument -- by the way, you
didn`t hear anything of this argument last night. Their best argument has
to do with jobs and the economy.

You know, things haven`t really been going so well in that regard, but
they don`t talk about it. I mean, it is amazing to me that Rick Santorum
and his appearance on "Face the Nation" last Sunday and last night didn`t
mention once his manufacturing plan, which is kind of unique and creative
and might actually win him some of those votes. But he doesn`t talk about
it.

O`DONNELL: E.J., where do you think the Republicans could go hunting
for votes? And we have to factor in -- they need more -- if they`ve
already, in effect, written off trying to invade Latino support for
President Obama, they have to pick some other place -- independents, for
example, younger voters.

Is there -- is there a place for them to go where they can make up
what they`re losing and what the Latino gap was last time or what the
gender gap was last time?

DIONNE: Well, I just want to pick up on Joe`s point. Going for
Michigan voters and not saying how pro manufacturing you are is like going
to Hollywood and not saying you`re pro movie. It was crazy. Because he`s
got real credibility on that, even though there are a lot of problems with
his plan, he`s a blue collar guy.

I think there are two --

O`DONNELL: Well, E.J., do you think he got distracted last night? Do
you think Santorum sitting there beside Romney got thrown some pitches
where it just distracted him and he lost direction of where he should be
going?

DIONNE: I do. I think he was getting punches from Romney and then
punches from Ron Paul, the Romney surrogate. I think that was causing him
trouble.

I think there were two targets for the Republicans, really -- the
white working class where Obama lost them by 18 points, had inflated a
little bit because of the white South, but the Democrats lost him by 30
points in the congressional elections. The Republicans needed close to 30.
The Democrats needed closer to minus 18.

And then the other group, I think, they want are upscale social
moderates. They want them to vote on higher taxes.

I think the problem with the way this has configured is, in an ideal
world for Democrats -- downscale whites vote on economic inequality, and
upscale social moderates vote on the social issues. The Republicans would
like the downscale voters to vote on social issues and discontent and the
upscale voters to vote on taxes.

I think the way this has worked out, all the upscale voters are
thinking how right wing they are on social issues.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

DIONNE: And the downscale voters are thinking how rich Romney is and
they can`t get to him. The Republicans desperately have to turn this thing
around and they`re not doing a very good job right now.

KLEIN: Yes, but I do think that they`re making serious progress with
young people who are opposed to contraception.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: Yes, they`re doing great with that.

Joe Klein and E.J. Dionne -- thank you both very much for joining me
tonight.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

KLEIN: Good to be here.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, we know Newt Gingrich has women troubles, but
so does the once-married Rick Santorum and the once-married Mitt Romney,
because they are doing everything they can to drive women voters away from
their candidacies. Maggie Haberman joins me.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, Ron Paul called Rick Santorum a fake
last night, but I`ll show you why Ron Paul is a fake libertarian.

And later, Jonathan Capehart will get THE LAST WORD on his fight with
Chris Christie this morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Last week, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie
Weisel joined me discuss the Mormon practice of baptizing the dead. Elie
Weisel called on Mitt Romney to ask his church to stop baptizing victims of
the Holocaust and other Jews.

Weisel reported to us that the Mormon Church had assured him it would
never happen again. He was followed in the program by Helen Radke, a
former Mormon, who insisted that her research shows the Mormon practice is
continuing.

And today, the "Huffington Post" reports that Helen Radke discovered
that Ann Frank was baptized in the Mormon Church on Saturday for the 10th
time. The ritual was conducted in a Mormon temple in the Dominican
Republic.

Still to come tonight, Mitt Romney has a big problem with women.

And fake libertarian Ron Paul has an even bigger problem with sex,
which is what makes him a fake libertarian.

And Jonathan Capehart had to fight to get a word in with Chris
Christie on MSNBC this morning on marriage equality. Jonathan will get THE
LAST WORD tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Governor Romney, both Senator Santorum and
Speaker Gingrich have said during your tenure as governor, you required
Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victim
victims. Mr. Speaker, you compared the governor to President Obama, saying
he infringed on Catholic`s rights.

Governor, did you do that?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, absolutely not. Of
course not. There was no requirement in Massachusetts for the Catholic
Church to provide morning after pills to rape victims. That was entirely
voluntary on their part. There was no such requirement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: After that statement by Mitt Romney last night, "The
Boston Globe" corrected the record today. "In December 2005, Romney`s
public health commissioner ruled that a preexisting law gave Catholic
hospitals the right to opt out of the new law on religious or moral
grounds. The ruling sparked criticism, and Romney`s legal counsel reversed
course and concluded that the new law did not provide a religious
exemption."

A new Quinnipiac poll shows President Obama barely ahead of Mitt
Romney, 46 to 44 percent. But among women voters, who make up more than
half of the general election electorate, the presidential has a significant
advantage over Mitt Romney, 49 percent to 41 percent.

In that same poll, when voters were asked if President Obama cares
about the needs and problems of women, 65 percent of women voters said yes;
64 percent of all voters said yes; and 65 percent of independent voters
said yes.

Asked if Mitt Romney cares about the needs and problems of women, only
34 percent of women voters said yes; 41 percent of all voters said yes; and
40 percent of independents said yes.

Joining me now is Maggie Haberman, a senior writer for "Politico."
Maggie, it seems like contraception politics are going to be with us for a
while. Now we have the Nebraska attorney general announcing that they`re
filing suit, along with six other states, total of seven states,
challenging what became President Obama`s final compromising position on
requiring employers to provide contraception services and coverage in their
health care plans.

This is certainly going to keep the issue alive, no matter what the
Republican candidates say about this. Do you think the Republican
candidates would have preferred a world in which they get to decide when
they might want to shut up about this and have it go away?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, "POLITICO": I think this certainly has not played
out well for the Republicans. I think there is a general sense that
Republicans, especially Congressional Republicans, overplayed their hand
with the hearing about this. It really gave Democrats -- there is that
video of Carolyn Maloney from New York, a congresswoman, asking where are
the women on this topic?

I think this has become something that Republicans have lost some
control of in the narrative. I don`t think it`s perfect for the Democrats,
either. But I do think that Republicans would like to be talking about the
economy. I don`t think social issues is necessarily where they want to be.

It is dragging the party much further to the right than a lot of
members would like to be with, as you said, women voters in the fall, a key
swing block, who a lot of independent women, a lot of suburban women, don`t
love this conversation.

O`DONNELL: And Maggie, in 2008, President Obama had a -- ended up,
when all the votes were counted, 13-point lead over his Republican with
women. If he maintains a 13-point lead with women going into this
election, is there any mathematics in which the Republicans can take that
victory away?

HABERMAN: I think there are, but I think it becomes challenging. I
think this is very much an election that is going to be about two and three
percent margins in terms of specific voting groups. You`re going to have
Hispanic voters in certain states. You`re going to have in a smaller
numbers of states Jewish voters. You`re going to have women voters.
You`re going to have independent voters.

That would be a very high margin. It would sort of depend on where it
is spread out. But I think again, this is not an issue right now. There
is a reason that Democrats are so excited about watching Rick Santorum.
Granted, Rick Santorum does connect better with white working class voters
who President Obama has had trouble with over the last several years, in
terms of reclosing the sale after doing well in his election in 2008.

But I think that ultimately there is a feeling that Santorum gins up
the base for the Democrats, that he is problematic in terms of women
voters. They would much rather face him than Mitt Romney. And Mitt
Romney, as you heard his language last night at the debate, is tacking
further right because he is in a primary that`s in the middle of a -- in a
party that`s in the middle of a hard right moment.

O`DONNELL: Maggie, let`s listen to the way Elizabeth Warren is using
this in a the radio in her campaign in Massachusetts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH WARREN (D), CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: I`m Elizabeth Warren. A
few days ago, I watched a congressional hearing about birth control where
the panel of experts did not include even one woman.

Wow. Washington really doesn`t get it. Now, the Senate is about to
vote on a new law, proposed by Republicans, that allows your employer or
insurance company to claim a vague moral conviction to deny you
contraception or any health care coverage they want.

This new law threatens womens` access to contraception, mammograms,
even maternity care. It`s just plain wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Maggie, in a state like Massachusetts, that seems like the
winning position.

HABERMAN: I think so. I mean, again, it remains to be seen. I think
you may have seen perhaps, it`s not a permanent, but a semi-permanent shift
in the electorate since Scott Brown`s election. And there are other
factors.

But I do think that that`s going to be a compelling ad. I think it`s
going to work with certain segments of the voters. On the other hand, you
also have a lot of Catholic voters in Massachusetts. So it is a bit dicier
in that particular election.

But I do think overall -- I think that this has been -- the way that
hearing played out, the way this issue has played out, has been, generally
speaking, better for the Democrats than the Republicans.

O`DONNELL: "Politico`s" Maggie Haberman, thank you very much for
joining me tonight.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Jonathan Capehart took on Republican Governor
Chris Christie this morning on "MORNING JOE" over the governor`s veto of
marriage equality. Tonight Jonathan Capehart gets THE LAST WORD.

Next in the Rewrite, Ron Paul did a full Santorum last night about
sex. He called having sex while trying to prevent pregnancy an immorality.
That`s his word, immorality. That makes Ron Paul a fake libertarian.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Have you guys seen this
video going around of Rick Santorum? Have you seen this? He`s going
around telling voters he wants them to know who he really is. Take a look
at this.

SANTORUM: No written speeches, the opportunity to see what`s in here,
what`s up here, and what`s burning down here.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: It`s time to Rewrite who was the fake in last night`s
debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Congressman Paul, you questioned the conservative -- fiscal
conservative credentials of all of these gentlemen, but particularly this
week, Senator Santorum. You have a new television ad that labels him a
fake. Why?

REP. RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because he`s a fake.

SANTORUM: I`m real. I`m real.

PAUL: Congratulations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was fake libertarian Ron Paul, accusing Rick Santorum
of being a fake. Now, we all know Ron Paul supporters love him, just love
him. And I don`t have to tell you, love is blind. It is also deaf,
especially when Ron Paul is talking.

When Ron Paul talks about legalizing drugs, the beneficiaries of that
idea get so high on Ron Paul love that they don`t hear anything else he
says. When Ron Paul offends most of the people in his Republican debate
audiences with his consistent principle defiant stance against war making,
anti-war voters like me are thrilled.

And when Ron Paul says he wants to cut the size of government more
than any other Republican candidate, the anti-tax and anti-government
spending crowd loves him. And all of those points are consistent with the
libertarian philosophy of governing.

But when Ron Paul talks about his unyielding opposition to a women`s
right to choose, when Ron Paul says the government should prevent all
abortions, the standard Republican party line, the libertarian lovers of
Ron Paul simply do not hear him.

They don`t seem to notice that fake libertarian Ron Paul takes the
most anti-libertarian position on women`s reproductive rights. The fake
libertarian does not dare say a word that violates the Republican party
line on abortion, not one word.

And last night, fake libertarian Ron Paul did a little noticed full
Santorum on sex. Now, what is the libertarian position on sex? OK.
That`s something of a trick question, because, of course, libertarians have
no position on sex, as in government should make no law on sex among
consenting adults.

All of the libertarians that I know, like Penn Jillette, are -- how
should I put this -- well, let`s just say they are extremely sex positive.
Anything goes with them. Everything goes. Well, you know, I think I`ve
probably gone as far as I can on a family show in describing libertarians`
attitudes toward sex, true libertarians.

But fake libertarian Ron Paul? That dude is every bit as anti-sex as
the sex-obsessed, sex hater Rick Santorum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: As an O.B. doctor, I`ve dealt with birth control pills and
contraception for a long time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Now, when he said that, I got ready for another great Ron
Paul moment. Here comes Ron. He`s going to take these nuts to school
about contraception, finally. You know he`s going to cut through all that
Republican bull. You know he`s going to -- and then Ron Paul said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: But sort of along the line of the pills creating immorality, I
don`t see it that way. I think the immorality creates the problem of
wanting to use the pills.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: "I think the immorality creates the problem of wanting to
use the pills"? Sex creates the problem of wanting to use the pills. Ron
Paul just equated sex with immorality. He just said that wanting to have
sexual intercourse without having a baby is immoral.

Listen to his words again, quote, "I think the immorality creates the
problem of wanting to use the pills."

So if you`re an anti-war Ron Paul supporter or a legalized drugs Ron
Paul supporter and you had sex last night after the debate and used birth
control pills, your candidate for president thinks you engaged in
immorality. That`s his word for what you did. Immorality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: It`s the morality of society that we have to deal with. The
pill is there, and it contributes, maybe. But the pills can`t be blamed
for the immorality of our society.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: OK, so Ron Paul is not really a Republican. And he`s
definitely not a libertarian. So why does he pretend to be a libertarian?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Because he`s a fake. Because he`s a fake. Because he`s a
fake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": The president and the
Justice Department have made it clear that they believe that the so-called
Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. They`re not supporting it in
any of the court cases going through the federal court system.

As president of the United States, would you support that? Governor
Christie, would you support that?

(CROSS TALK)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Jonathan -- first of all, I used
to be a prosecutor. I don`t know if you did, too, but I`m not going to be
cross examined by you this morning.

CAPEHART: I`m having fun trying.

CHRISTIE: And you`re going to lose. So let`s just move on.

CAPEHART: I would love for you to answer the question.

CHRISTIE: Here`s the answer to the question. Let`s have the
president of the United States show some courage, come on this program,
look into the camera like I`m looking into the camera, and state his
position. He won`t because he wants to have it both ways.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Governor Chris Christie refusing to answer the
question of my next guest, MSNBC political analyst, "Washington Post"
columnist Jonathan Capehart.

Jonathan, you had a rough ride there. Joe did all he could to try to
moderate that thing, but I know you had more to say.

CAPEHART: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And since you had that engagement on "MORNING JOE," the
Maryland State Senate has passed the marriage equality bill there, which
had already passed the House. So it now awaits Governor O`Malley`s
signature. He has said, unlike Chris Christie, he will sign it, that the
legislative process is good enough for him.

But to Christie`s refusal, he got away with refusing to answer your
question about the constitutionality of DOMA, and if he were president of
the United States, what would he want his Justice Department to do in
appeals cases regarding DOMA. We never got close to an answer on that.

CAPEHART: No, we didn`t. And because he kept cutting me off, I
wasn`t able to get to my three points plan -- the three points I wanted to
make. One, on paper, President Obama and Governor Christie do indeed have
the same position on same-sex marriage, in that they both support civil
unions. But that`s where the similarity ends.

President Obama, as you showed in the clip, has deemed that -- through
the Justice Department that he believes, and the administration believes
that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. And
therefore, the federal government will no longer represent -- will no
longer defend this law in court.

That`s one. Two, the president has gone on record saying that he
supports S-598, which is Senator Dianne Feinstein`s bill called the
Marriage Recognition Act, which is a bill that would appeal DOMA.

So the president is on record being supportive of the repeal of the
so-called Defense of Marriage Act. And three, President Obama has been
openly supportive of state efforts, such as in New York. And I`m sure he
will be vocal in his support of what`s happening in Maryland when the duly
elected representatives of a state send a bill approving marriage equality,
and the governor actually signs it.

Here`s the difference between Chris Christie and President Obama.
Remember, Lawrence -- you know this well -- we live in a representative
democracy. We are not in a monarchy and we certainly aren`t in a
dictatorship, despite what Republicans say. So unless Congress sends the
president of the United States a bill repealing DOMA or legalizing same-sex
marriage, there is nothing that President Obama can do, other than saying
flat out, which is what Governor Christie wants, I support marriage
equality.

Meanwhile, Governor Christie, when the duly elected representatives of
the people of the state of New Jersey, passed in the House and the Senate,
sent him a bill legalizing marriage equality, when he, as governor, had the
ability with the stroke of a pen to do exactly the thing he`s criticizing
President Obama for not doing, he didn`t do it. He vetoed it.

And now he`s putting the civil rights of a minority up for public
referendum, which is reprehensible.

O`DONNELL: And he -- you got him to agree that in the south in the
1960s, he would not have wanted to put African-American civil rights up for
a vote in Alabama, that he didn`t -- he thought that would not be a good
way to do that. To try to pretend there is some difference here is
something that I don`t understand.

CAPEHART: Yeah, I don`t understand it, either. It could be that
Governor Christie is trying to have it both ways, vetoing a marriage
equality bill but then sending it to the people to have a vote, maybe
hoping that they don`t approve it.

But here`s the silver lining in all of this: the state legislature has
until January 2013, I believe, to overturn his veto. And the state Senate
leader, who is a Democrat, has said that he is going to do everything he
can to try to overturn Governor Christie`s veto.

So there is a long time. There`s a long window here for that action
to happen.

O`DONNELL: And Jonathan Capehart, you just got THE LAST WORD on
marriage equality on MSNBC in this programming day. Thank you very much,
Jonathan.

CAPEHART: Thanks a lot, Lawrence. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog,
TheLastWord.MSNBC.com. You can follow my Tweets @Lawrence.

Tomorrow night don`t miss Semper Fi, always faithful. It`s a special
documentary I had the honor of hosting. It tells the story of a father`s
quest to find out what caused his daughter`s deadly and rare leukemia. And
it led him to one of the largest cases of water contamination in U s.
history. It was on a Marine Corps base where he worked and lived. Semper
Fi airs in this time slot, 10:00 PM Eastern, tomorrow night, right here on
MSNBC.

"THE ED SHOW" is up next.

END

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