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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, February 27, 2012

Read the transcript to the Monday show

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Guests: John Heilemann, Jonathan Capehart, Steve Kornacke, Karen Finney, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz,
Antonio Villaraigosa

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The polls can`t tell us which Republican
will win Michigan tomorrow night. It`s just too close to call. But the
polls have no problem predicting who will win Michigan in November.

Big surprise -- the man who saved the American automobile industry
has a huge lead in Michigan over all the Republican candidates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama once said
he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Rick Santorum launched sharp criticism --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Santorum`s taking his fight to higher education.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: The snob comment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s talk about this snobbery.

SANTORUM: What a snob.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just nuts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s just bad politics.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I certainly don`t think the
president`s a snob for saying that.

SANTORUM: What a snob.

CHRISTIE: I think that`s probably over the line.

MITCHELL: Plus, attacking JFK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Santorum triggered a debate by questioning the
separation of church and state.

MITCHELL: And the separation of church and state.

AL SHARPTON, MSBNC HOST: How extreme can you get?

SANTORUM: What kind of country do we live in that says only people
of non-faith can come in the public square?

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The Constitution is very
clear that in the separation of church and state.

SANTORUM: You bet that makes you throw up.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Made him want to throw up.

SANTORUM: You bet that makes you throw up.

SHARPTON: The separation of church and state makes him want to throw
up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has been talking more than anyone about
social issues.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s time for him to really
focus on the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We saw Mitt Romney try to capitalize on that
earlier today.

ROMNEY: This has got to be a campaign about the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is do or die time for the Republican
presidential candidates in Michigan.

CHRISTIE: Is there a possibility if Governor Romney were to lose
Michigan for a contested election? Sure.

MATTHEWS: Yesterday, he was asked whether he follows NASCAR.

ROMNEY: I have great fans that are NASCAR team owners.

MATTHEWS: NASCAR team owners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, who talks like that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a certain discipline of the mouth
required to get elected president.

ROMNEY: I can`t be perfect. I just am who I am.

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: Maybe I should just do all the
talking and let him just stand here and watch me.

MATTHEWS: Mitt, better off mute.

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

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Six months before this thing got going, every Republican
I know was saying -- we`re going to win, we`re going to beat Obama. Now,
even those who have endorsed Romney say, my God, what an F-ing mess.

Every word I just said is a quote from Ronald Reagan`s re-election
campaign manager Ed Rollins as reported by John Heilemann in his "New York"
magazine cover story on the disaster that has struck the Republican Party
during the presidential campaign season, on the eve of the Michigan
primary, a state that no one thought would be competitive because Mitt
Romney was born and raised there.

The latest American Research Group poll shows Rick Santorum with a 36
percent statistical tie with Romney`s 35 percent. Ron Paul polls a very
distant third with 15 percent. Newt Gingrich fourth with 8 percent.

Such polling has Romney`s most prized supporter talking about what
happens if Mitt Romney actually loses Michigan tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: Is there a possibility if Governor Romney were to lose
Michigan for contested election -- contested convention? Sure, that`s a
possibility. I`m not going to deny that possibility exists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Romney and Santorum trail President Obama in Michigan.
According to the most recent NBC polling, President Obama leads Romney 51
percent to 33 percent. And the president leads Rick Santorum 55 percent to
29 percent.

A new "Politico" poll shows President Obama also leading the
Republican candidates nationally. President Obama leads 53 percent to 43
percent, a 10-point lead. The president leads Rick Santorum 53 percent to
42 percent.

Mitt Romney ended his Michigan campaign today with the exposure of
another fake memory about his father and him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I think my dad had a job like the grand, the master,
whatever, of the 50th celebration of the automobile in Detroit. They
painted the Woodward Avenue with gold paint. My memory`s a little foggy
here. So, I was probably 4, something like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Mitch Potter of "The Toronto Star" notes tonight, "The
golden jubilee described so vividly by Romney was indeed an epic moment in
automotive lore and it took place June 1st, 1946, fully nine months before
Romney was born."

Joining me now: national affairs editor for "New York" magazine and
MSNBC political analyst, John Heilemann. His latest column, "The Lost
Party" appears in the March 5th issue of "New York" magazine.

Also joining us, "Washington Post" opinion writer and MSNBC political
analyst, Jonathan Capehart. Thank you both for joining me tonight.

John Heilemann, I want to go to your article "The Lost Party." In
it, you write, "All people of common sense and goodwill might consider in
the days ahead adopting a slogan that may strike them as odd, perverse, or
even demented. Go, Rick, go."

John, having been accused of being odd, perverse, and demented, it
makes perfect sense to me. I know exactly what you must be thinking. But
please, explain to America the "go, Rick, go" idea.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, strangely, Lawrence,
you know, I think many Democrats take that as me encouraging people to be
in favor of Santorum because it would be easier for the president to beat
in the fall, and indeed it is true, I think, that Rick Santorum would be
easier to beat than Mitt Romney in the fall. He`d be a weaker opponent for
a variety of reasons -- many of which have been discussed on this program
in great depth over the course of the last couple of weeks.

But my argument at the end piece is simply to say that if the
Republicans lose this race to Barack Obama, and one of my main reporting
points in the piece is to say that most elite Republicans now believe that
they are consigned to defeat this fall, with either of these candidates,
that there will be a reaction to that loss and the reaction will be counter
to -- trying to learn the lessons of what happened in 2012.

So, if Mitt Romney is the nominee and his brand of Republican
conservative is seen as having blown this election, you will see the
Republican Party veer even further, as imaginable as this may be, even to
the populist right.

Whereas if Santorum were to blow the election or to lose to Barack
Obama, you might be able to see the Republican Party realizing that it`s
gone way too far into culture warrior/grassroots populism and try to make
itself way back towards a more constructive brand of conservatism, and one
that would serve the country well if they were to find their way there.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I started pushing this idea a couple of weeks ago.
Let`s see if we can enlist Capehart in this one.

Jonathan, I want to see Rick Santorum get the nomination because I
want to see a very clear debate about Rick Santorum`s America versus
President Obama`s America.

Rick Santorum`s America is a very conservative America. It is what
the Republican Party says America wants. I want to see that put to a
referendum.

I believe these polls indicating that the president would win by 20
points are a little exaggerated at the moment, but I do believe it would be
a decisive defeat for Rick Santorum kind of conservatism, and then we would
see the Republicans in Washington make an adjustment, as John just
described, and we would then have the possibility of the return of Bob
Dole-style Republicans who were willing at certain points to negotiate with
the other partying to get things done in the Congress.

And so, that is my version of "Go, rick, go". Is this making any
sense to you?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it does. And one
can only hope that that would be the reaction in the Republican Party if
indeed Rick Santorum were to become the nominee and go down to defeat
against President Obama. You know, the one thing about Rick Santorum`s
brand of conservatism is it`s rather angry and judgmental, and moralistic.

And the American people have shown time and time again that they`re
not too keen on angry, dark messages about the country and its future.
They want someone conservative or liberal or progressive -- however you
want to describe yourself as a candidate -- they want you to tell them how
you`re going to lead them to a brighter tomorrow.

I mean, Rick Santorum, in the party of Ronald Reagan, is hardly the
sunny, optimistic conservative that Ronald Reagan portrayed himself to be.

And so, I agree with you, if Rick Santorum were the nominee, it would
be a clear distinction between himself and President Obama in terms of
message, in terms of philosophy, in terms of vision for the future of this
country.

O`DONNELL: All right. Let`s listen to a Santorum campaign robocall
that`s going out in Michigan as we speak.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats can vote in the Republican primary on
Tuesday. Why is it so important? Romney`s supporting the bailouts for his
Wall Street billionaire buddies but opposed the auto bailouts. That was a
slap in the face to every Michigan worker. On Tuesday, join Democrats who
are going to send a loud message to Massachusetts Mitt Romney by voting for
Rick Santorum for president.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Now, Rick Santorum`s getting some criticism in Republican
circles for that.

But, John Heilemann, that is a smart robocall for him?

HEILEMANN: Well, look, any little bit`s going to help. It can`t
hurt for Santorum. It`s a very close race in Michigan and Democrats are
allowed to vote.

Back in 2000, when we saw very similar sort of situation lay play
out. If you remember, Lawrence, you had George W. Bush -- essentially,
people thought he had put the nomination away. He was in a better position
than Mitt Romney is today. But he was the establishment favorite. He had
all of the endorsements lined up in Michigan. It was supposed to be the
end.

And John McCain beat him in 2000 in Michigan, largely with the help
of independents and Democrats who crossed over and voted for McCain. Now,
Santorum is nothing like the candidate John McCain was for sure but trying
to enlist the other side. We`ve seen this talk about this a couple of
cycles ago when Rush Limbaugh talked about "Operation Chaos," about trying
to get Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary back in 2008.

O`DONNELL: Right.

HEILEMANN: So it`s not unheard of before that people have thought
along these lines. Rick Santorum is trying to run a campaign that is a
working-class kind of campaign. Put this culture war stuff aside. On
economics, he`s been trying to campaign appealing to blue collar voters.

Now, you can argue about the effectiveness of this campaign. But he
is trying to run a populist, anti-globalist kind of Macomb County,
Michigan, sort of campaign. And for him to be aiming directly at Democrats
is not just mischievous but it makes a certain kind of sense for the kind
of Republican he`s trying to be, on economics at least.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, Rush Limbaugh was advocating vote for
Hillary Clinton as long as possible, last time around, to try to make
things difficult for the Republicans. On -- and he believed that Obama was
on his way to get the nomination, correctly, but he wanted as much mischief
as possible.

Is that anything that`s going to matter in this Republican Party? It
doesn`t seem like Republican voters need encouragement to change their
minds from state to state and vote for another guy and create more
confusion in their process.

CAPEHART: Right. But in Michigan, this is a place, as John, you
know, highlighted in terms of the 2000 race, that -- where Democrats feel
emboldened to go to the polls and make mischief in the Republican primary.

And the key thing about that 2000 race between George W. Bush and
John McCain, John McCain -- I`m sorry, George Bush won two-thirds of the
Republican vote in 2000, but John McCain won a majority of the independents
and Democrats who voted, and those two groups comprised 51 percent of the
total number of folks who voted.

So, that robocall by Rick Santorum is extremely -- I think very, very
smart on his part. In that poll you showed at the top of the program
showing Santorum and Romney basically in a statistical tie with a plus or
minus 4 percentage margin of error, those kinds of calls and that push by
Santorum to get Democrats to go out and vote for him tomorrow, very well
could be the thing that pushes him over the top.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, quickly before we go, you reporters are
out there in the field covering these candidates -- is there now a
presumption when Romney reminisces he`s actually just making something up?

Last time around, he kind of reminisce about his father marching with
Martin Luther King, there`s no evidence for that. Now reminiscing about
this great historic moment when he was 4 years old in the history of the
auto industry. It turns out he wasn`t born yet.

Do you guys even take notes when he starts doing those interesting
memories on the campaign trail?

HEILEMANN: Well, just for the sake of moments like this, Lawrence,
of course, we`re always taking notes and try to keep track. I think that
there`s no question that Mitt Romney has had a hard time throughout his
campaign talking in a way that sounds and in some cases is authentic about
what his personal experience in life is and his personal history. And
there is I think a broader problem for him, which is that there are a lot
of reporters who on a variety of fronts have started to question his
veracity -- not just in terms of talking about his autobiography but
talking about other things.

There is a mime out there in the press corps that Romney is a guy who
will say and do anything and stretch the truth when it`s convenient to him.
And I think that`s a real problem for him going forward. The press doesn`t
like Mitt Romney in general. And to the extent the press thinks he`s a
liar, that`s going to be a big problem because there`s nothing the press
likes more than taking down someone, that they can catch him out in a half-
truth or a full untruth.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann and Jonathan Capehart -- thank you both
very much for joining me tonight.

HEILEMANN: Thanks, Lawrence.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Rick Santorum is courting a voting bloc that
does not exist, the anti-college voter. Even Chris Christie is siding with
President Obama on this one. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joins
me next.

And because one mistake is never enough in the Santorum campaign,
Rick Santorum has decided to pick a fight with President Kennedy, who in
the years since he was assassinated has had more streets and schools named
in his honor than Rick Santorum will ever have the honor of visiting.

And later, we`ll have an update from Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the
latest Republican invasive attack on women`s rights.

And in "The Rewrite" tonight, Stephen Colbert rewrites me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: They`re looking for somebody who is not
Mitt Romney. They want -- they want a complete whack job. And Mitt is not
whacky enough. So this is the segment, "People who are not Mitt Romney."

Take a look, hope you enjoy it.

ANNOUNCER: The late Charlie Callas.

CHARLIE CALLAS: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!

ANNOUNCER: Thanks for watching "People who are not Mitt Romney."

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don`t think any parent in
America who has a child would think it snobbery to hope for that child the
best possible education in the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Well, there is one parent in America who thinks that is
snobbery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to
go to college. What a snob.

There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard every
day and put their skills to test that aren`t taught by some liberal college
professor and trying to indoctrinate them.

I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake
you in his image.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Of course, the president never said that he wants
everybody in America to go to college. Here is what the president actually
said on February 24th, 2009.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight, I ask every
American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or
career training. This can be a community college or a four-year school,
vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may
be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Vocational training or an apprenticeship is not college.

Republican Governor Chris Christie, who is, of course, a Romney
supporter and looking for ways to humiliate Rick Santorum, sided with
President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: We need to have an education system in New Jersey and over
the country that makes all of our kids, either college or career ready. It
should be their choice. Every kid doesn`t want to go to college but I
think we should aspire to let every child reach his maximum or her maximum
potential.

And if Senator Santorum is against that, I don`t think that makes my
sense. And I certainly don`t think the president`s a snob for saying that.
I think that`s probably over the line.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And just minutes ago on FOX News, here is Rick Santorum
repeating his lie about what President Obama said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: And then he comes out and says, everybody should go to
college. I mean, this is the kind of stuff that I think, you know, people
have had enough of. We can manage our lives very well, Mr. President.
Just give us opportunity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa,
national co-chair of the Obama 2012 campaign and the 2012 Democratic
National Convention chairman.

Mr. Mayor, it seems whenever we hear a Republican candidate begin a
line with "the president said," the audience should assume what they`re
about to hear is a lie. And the president has never actually said that --
or even a cousin of that or anything close to that. The president couldn`t
be more clear that, of course, we`re not going to have everyone go to
college, there are apprenticeships, there`s vocational training -- there`s
all sorts of things other than college -- he just wants people to maximize
their workforce potential.

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, LOS ANGELES: Absolutely. The idea that
somehow a parent wanting the best for their child is wrong, the president
wanting the best for his nation, particularly in these tough economic
types, is nonsensical. You know, there was a recent Gallup poll that said
75 percent of American parents want their kids to go -- think that it`s
important for their kids to go to college.

The idea that we wouldn`t want them to go to college or get career-
ready or get a skill to succeed in the world of work just doesn`t make
sense to most of us.

O`DONNELL: And this is the same Republican Party that`s constantly
telling us how bad our public schools are and they`re not preparing our
high school graduates for the workforce. And for Santorum to then come out
and make fun of the idea of getting something beyond just a high school
diploma -- I mean, Santorum and these kinds of candidates don`t even notice
their own inconsistency in these things.

VILLARAIGOSA: Not only that. I think what you see there is he`s
clearly out of the mainstream what was most people think.

O`DONNELL: He`s making this lucky for you -- easy for you Democrats,
isn`t it? I mean, that is such an alien thing that he`s saying, it`s alien
to the American Dream, the American expectation.

VILLARAIGOSA: Alien to the reality today that when you look at who`s
disproportionately out of work the longest -- it`s folks that don`t have a
high school degree. Then after them, it`s folks who only have a high
school degree. The people who are getting back to work the quickest are
people with a college degree or some college, some skill.

So, it doesn`t reflect where we are in terms of unemployment either
and where we are in terms of the new economy.

O`DONNELL: Now, Mitt Romney was just on FOX News kind of echoing
Santorum. Let`s listen to the way he put it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Not everybody`s going to go to college and people have
different courses in their life they want to pursue. College is not right
for everybody. Some folks have other ambitions and want to go in different
directions.

So, we want people to have freedom in this country and opportunity to
pursue their happiness in the way they think is appropriate for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The problem is his little laugh about not everyone is
going to go to college. Well, that is true, not everyone`s going to go.
But there`s nothing as aspirational in what he`s saying there.

VILLARAIGOSA: Yes, no question about it. And interestingly enough,
both of them went to college.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

VILLARAIGOSA: Both of them got a great education. Why shouldn`t
that be good for the rest of us?

The fact is, you know, we work hard so our kids will have a better
life. And in a global economy, predicated on intellectual capital, we know
that more and more, college is becoming critical to success in that
economy.

O`DONNELL: And -- but we should recognize that there are plenty of
jobs that don`t require college. I mean, really, truly, everybody working
at LAX, at Los Angeles International Airport, virtually no jobs there that
require college, and they are crucially important, high-paying -- airline
mechanics and so forth.

And what should we be doing in government to help the flow of people
into those kinds of jobs?

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, very important. As you said, and as you
clarified, the president didn`t say everybody has to go to college, they
have to get a skill set. They have to get a year of community college.
They need to get the skills that they need to succeed in the world of work.

We`ve been saying for a long time, here in L.A. Unified and school
districts across the country, that we have to get folks career-ready or
ready for college. And there`s nothing -- that is what we absolutely have
to do in this economy. And I think that`s all the president said we should
do.

O`DONNELL: Having cited the airport, which is a good employment
center here and elsewhere, there`s not a job down there that doesn`t
require a high-tech orientation that isn`t available in public high school
classrooms.

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, that`s true. Look, I`m someone that believes my
kids should go to college, and they have. And I believe that strongly.

But it`s clear from the economy and where the economy`s going that to
the extent that kids at least have a skill set, they`re going to be more
employable, they`re going to be out of work for a shorter period of time.
That`s just a fact.

O`DONNELL: Did you have a late night last night, as mayor of Los
Angeles, on Oscar night? You have semi-official duties, making sure
everything is proceeding OK out there.

VILLARAIGOSA: We had a late night.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Plenty of parties and the governor`s ball and all
of that. Hey, and the winner, "The Artist," turns out to be the only movie
that was shot entirely in Los Angeles -- the only one.

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, remember, what`s great about this industry is
that it`s 210,000 jobs. What I like to say, the people behind the camera,
even more important than the people in front of it. That`s why we should
celebrate the Academy Awards and film and music in this town because it`s
really the lifeblood of the L.A. economy.

O`DONNELL: And keep the quality production in Los Angeles.

VILLARAIGOSA: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, thank you very
much for joining me tonight.

VILLARAIGOSA: Great to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, campaigning against Mitt Romney, Newt
Gingrich, Ron Paul and President Obama is not enough for Rick Santorum.
So, now, he`s campaigning against the president who was assassinated 48
years ago.

And later, Alabama is the next state to propose mandatory ultrasounds
for women who want abortions. Debbie Wasserman Schultz joins me.

And Stephen Colbert is in "The Rewrite" tonight, talking about the
"Book of Mormon -- not the play, the real "Book of Mormon."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- in my political career,
I had the opportunity to read the speech and I almost threw up. You should
read the speech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: You don`t have to read the speech. The Kennedy Library in
Dorchester, Massachusetts, has preserved it on film.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe in
an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no
Catholic fellow would tell the president, should he be Catholic, how to
act. No protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote,.
Where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political
preference.

And where no man is denied public office merely because his religion
differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might
elect him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Fifty one years after then Senator Kennedy gave that
speech in Houston after winning the Democratic Presidential Nomination, we
no longer live in John F. Kennedy`s America. And Rick Santorum is working
hard to become the first Catholic Republican party nominee for president.
And now Rick Santorum is campaigning against a president who`s been dead
for 48 years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: The first line -- first substantive line in the speech
says, "I believe in America where the separation of church and state is
absolute." I don`t believe in an America where the separation of church
and state is absolute.

The idea that -- that the church can have no influence or no
involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the
objectives and vision of our country. This is the First Amendment.

The First Amendment says the free exercise of religion. That means
bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square.
Kennedy, for the first time, articulated a vision saying, no, faith is not
allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate.

Go on and read the speech. I will have nothing to do with faith. I
won`t consult with people of fade. It was an absolutist doctrine that was
foreign at the time of 1960 --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make you want to throw up?

SANTORUM: Well, yeah, absolutely. To say that people of faith have
no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now are Steve Kornacke, political writer for
"Salon," and Karen Finney, former DNC communications director, now a
columnist for "The Hill" and an MSNBC political analyst. Thank you both
for joining me tonight.

As usual, Rick Santorum is, of course, misquoting President Kennedy
when he says that President Kennedy said that religion had no place in the
public square, which of course President Kennedy never said.

I want to listen to another little bit of what the president said when
he talked about what he thought presidents -- how a president`s religious
views should be private.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNEDY: I believe in a president whose views on religion are his own
private affair, neither imposed upon him by the nation, nor imposed by the
nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacke, we are long past the point where it seems
a presidential candidate can hold his religion as a private affair. The
media expects them to talk about it. Each party expects them to talk about
their particular brand of Christianity. And it must be Christianity.

So we don`t have -- we`ve lost the notion of religion as private
affair in politics a long time ago.

STEVE KORNACKE, "SALON": Sure. And I mean, what`s so sort of I guess
comical is the word I think of about what Santorum is saying right now --
it just ignores completely the context of when, you know -- of President
Kennedy`s speech in 1960. And the sort of, you know -- he was running in a
country where, you know, Catholics were just viewed at sort of
fundamentally alien by a large swath of the public.

And he needed to assure them at a very basic level that he wasn`t
taking marching orders from Rome. And that was basically the extent of it.
But I think what`s really interesting about what Santorum is doing now is
it speaks to the evolution of sort of the Christian right in this country,
which didn`t exist as we now know in 1960, and sort of the Evangelical wing
of the Catholic Church that I would say Santorum represents.

And those two forces converged, I`d say, about 20 or 30 years after
Kennedy was killed, sometime in the `80s, sometime in the `90s, where you
had these Evangelical Catholics like Santorum who basically said they`re
going to ignore or they`re going to down play or they`re going to be
hostile to the church`s traditional teachings about, for instance, social
justice, and they`re going to form a common cause with southern
conservative Evangelicals over cultural issues.

And that`s what Santorum I think really represents. And that`s what
his sort of attack on President Kennedy here really represents. It`s that
bond that he`s formed with people who now look back at President Kennedy
and say, the problem wasn`t that he wasn`t listening to Rome, you know, too
much. It`s that he was listening to Rome too little.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, I can`t imagine a Democrat or a Republican
running for president saying, my religion`s a private affair; I`m not going
to discuss it in any way. I want to do one more clip of JFK and get your
reaction to this. Here he is talking about specific issues, including
birth control, and how that -- how he might confront those issues as
president. Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNEDY: Contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic
candidate for president. I am the Democratic party`s candidate for
president, who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church
on public matters. And the church does not speak for me.

Whatever issue may come before me as president, if I should be
elected, on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling, or any other
subject, I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in
accordance with what my conscience tells me to be in the national interest,
and without regard to outside religious pressure or dictates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, your reaction? First of all, I just want to
say I think you can see why he won that election.

KAREN FINNEY, "THE HILL": Maybe just a little bit, right? You know,
and he also goes on in this speech to talk about the oath of office that
you take to the Constitution of the United States of America. You know,
one of the things that`s so interesting about Santorum, as Steve was
pointing out, whereas Kennedy says I`m not a Catholic candidate for
president; I`m the Democratic party candidate for president who happens to
be Catholic. Rick Santorum is basically running as the Catholic
conservative candidate for president, right?

There`s more in terms of his criticism. Back in 2010, he also
criticized Kennedy`s speech. And basically his argument is that that was
the beginning, essentially, of the secular left and those evil institutions
like the ACLU and the People for the American Way, who just pushed religion
out of the public square and said there`s no place for that in the public
square.

I mean, he basically blames Kennedy. And in doing that, he`s
essentially creating another red herring, kind of a false argument. Does
anybody really think that people of faith don`t have a place in the public
square these days? I mean, it`s everywhere. It is a part of our
discourse. I think President Obama, frankly, when I was reading -- I re-
read the Kennedy speech, so eloquently in a modern context when he spoke at
the National Prayer Breakfast, spoke about the way that his faith sort of
informs his character, certainly.

But it is not that -- in that his role as president, but he`s not
beholden to his faith. And that sort of balance of church and state and
that line in a way that who knows what Santorum`s really talking about.

O`DONNELL: You know, I do agree with Rick Santorum that everyone
should read that speech. I read it today and I wish I could just keep
playing long pieces of it. It`s really an amazing speech.

But let`s listen to what Bill O`Reilly said. Bill O`Reilly is now
saying that Santorum has gone a little bit too far. He just said this
tonight on his show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: If Santorum would simply pull back a
bit and say to the federal government, hey, leave religious institutions
alone, don`t interfere with them, he would be on the side of the angels,
pardon the pun.

So while Rick Santorum is rallying some Evangelical voters to his
cause, he`s making a major mistake in trying to link religious belief with
public policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Karen, quickly, O`Reilly`s tip of why don`t you pull back
a little bit, it`s a little late for that, isn`t it? It`s trying to get
the toothpaste back in the tube.

FINNEY: It is. You know what, Lawrence, here`s what really bothers
me about this absolute hypocrisy. Where were these guys standing up for
religion when people were criticizing those who wanted to open an Islamic
cultural center near ground zero for the purposes of fostering cultural
understanding?

Were they anywhere defending their right to be a part of the
conversation? Of course they weren`t.

Where were these people when Congressman Pete King had that
ridiculously, cravenly politically shameful hearing on, you know, Muslim
fundamentalism and terrorism, and he didn`t really have many voices
representing the other side? Where?

If we`re going to go there and we`re going to say religion should be
in the public square, and that we`re going to say, let`s everybody have
their place, then why aren`t they standing up for all voices?

O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacke, quickly before we go, what is the
political wisdom of trying to take shots at JFK at this point in our
history?

KORNACKE: Again, I think he gets to that bond between the Evangelical
wing of the Catholic church and Evangelical voters particularly in the
south. Look where the Republican race is going next week, after we get out
of Michigan. You`re looking at Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, states with
about 65, 70, 75 percent of the electorate next week going to identify
themselves as Evangelical Christians, specifically Pentecostals and
Southern Baptists.

I think it probably plays well with them. Probably not the rest of
America, but it could help Santorum there.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney and Steve Kornacke, thank you very much for
joining me tonight.

KORNACKE: Sure.

FINNEY: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Republicans in Virginia are retreating from
their attempt to force ultrasound on any woman seeking an abortion. But
Republicans in Alabama are now the latest to try to push that same idea.

And next, Stephen Colbert Rewrites me and "The Book of Mormon."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Stephen Colbert Rewrites THE LAST WORD.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": It has not all been smooth
sailing for Romney. Recently a controversial Mormon practice has caught
the attention of author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who shared his
concerns with author and MSNBC survivor Lawrence O`Donnell. Jim?

O`DONNELL: "Elie Wiesel calls on Mitt Romney to make the Mormon
Church stop proxy baptisms of Jews." That`s right. The Mormon Church
baptizes Jews against their will and without their knowledge after they are
dead.

ELIE WIESEL, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR AND AUTHOR: We learned about a
procedure in the Mormon church. I think 600,000, 650,000 dead Jews were
converted posthumously. So we began protesting.

COLBERT: What business is it of yours, Elie? I did some research and
it turns out those 600,000 Jews are now Mormons. Besides, the Mormons have
stopped baptizing Holocaust victims, other than last week when they
baptized Anne Frank, which they`ve done nine times.

But that`s it. Nobody else.

O`DONNELL: And then this week, a researcher found Elie Wiesel`s name
on a list of people to be baptized after their death.

COLBERT: Now, I don`t get why Elie Wiesel`s so upset about his name
being on a list. But unfortunately for Mitt this controversy just seems
like it will not die. And if it did, the Mormons would posthumously
baptize it.

So let me explain the ritual, OK? What happens is a Mormon elder
reads a list of dead people`s names while a living Mormon proxy is
submerged in water, often in a large baptismal font on the back of 12 oxen
representing the 12 tribes of Israel.

The Mormons use it to travel back to baptize people in the past. It`s
-- it`s like it`s some kind of --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hot tub time machine.

COLBERT: That`s it. I didn`t -- I didn`t even know this guy was a
Mormon. Now, I want to be clear. As television`s most famous and
important Catholic, I do not condone posthumous Mormon baptism. If you`re
going to baptize someone against their will, you do it the Catholic way,
with an inquisition.

But I think the Mormons are being misunderstood here. Mormons are
just trying to get these dead Jews into heaven. Now, of course, they`re
not allowed into the best Mormon heaven. That`s in the Celestial Kingdom
and is for true-born Mormons only. It is the first class cabin of
paradise. Hot towel, warm nuts, the whole shebang.

But don`t worry, dead Jewish viewers. You do -- you do get admitted
to the Terrestrial Kingdom, which is sort of like Mormon heaven business
class. And finally, the riffraff end up in the telestial kingdom. It`s
the sphere populated by the liars, sorcerers, adulterers and whoremongers.
So it is literally like flying coach.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman
Schultz, who has not yet been baptized into the Mormon Church.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLAY SCOFIELD, ALABAMA STATE SENATOR: This gives women the right to
more information before they make a very difficult decision in their lives.
The portion that I want to clarify that I think that people say that this
is infringing on the rights of women is the vaginal transducer, because of
the language either/or.

However, I do want to make sure that we leave that up to the woman`s
choice. Just clarify that language. I think that`s very important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Alabama State Senator Clay Scofield responding to
public outcry over a bill he`s sponsoring that would require women seeking
abortions to undergo either an abdominal or trans-vaginal ultrasound.
Today, Scofield said he will clarify the language and leave the method of
the ultrasound up to the woman.

Virginia Republicans retreated another step today on a similar bill,
after Governor Bob McDonnell`s retreat last week on that same bill. Today,
the Virginia Senate decided to delay its vote on that vote indefinitely.
The bill no longer requires an invasive procedure, but does require a woman
to undergo ultrasound imaging before any abortion in Virginia.

Joining me now is Democratic National Committee Chair, Florida
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Thank you very much for joining me
tonight.

I want to show you a clip of Darrell Issa, who famously held that
hearing on contraception last week with no women witnesses. Let`s hear
what he says about that now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Right now there are attacks on the
Constitution. And some of them are subtle and some are less subtle. I`m
just going to relate one thing to you.

Last week there was a hearing that was spun and it was terribly spun.
We all saw it. I won`t call it my greatest success to get a point across
on behalf of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman, you know the House better than I do. I am
going to try to translate what I think I just heard. And you will correct
me if I`m wrong. I believe I heard a House chairman saying all sorts of
self-justifying stuff about what he did, but in the end admitting he
really, really made a big mistake.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, I had trouble
hearing what Mr. Issa was saying. But the visual last week of an entire
table full of men, with no women, commenting on women`s rights and women`s
ability to be able to plan our families and control whether or not we
become pregnant and/or carry a pregnancy -- to have only men commenting on
that was just absolutely outrageous.

Now, you know, to add insult to injury, with both Alabama and Virginia
talking about a government-mandated trans-vaginal or physical inspection of
a woman`s body before she could make a decision on what she would do when
it came to carrying a pregnancy to term is so personally violative that
it`s just, you know -- every single day there`s another example of how the
Republicans forfeit any claim to being the party of smaller government.

I don`t think they ever have been. And they have demonstrated every
day for the last couple of weeks how personally violative they believe
government should be, particularly as it relates to women.

O`DONNELL: The Heritage Foundation, conservative group in Washington,
still pushing the idea that the president`s compromise language on
employer-provided contraception is still an outrage. But we have polling
showing that 61 percent approve of where the president ended up on it; 61
percent of Catholics, identical to the population at large, approve of
where the president is on this.

Why can`t they read the polls and understand where they are
politically on the other side of this?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, because on the Republican side, they are so
extreme and -- that they`ve demonstrated repeatedly that these are
decisions that are being made on the Republican side by men who have
clearly never had any of these examinations, and who certainly don`t carry
pregnancies and don`t make decisions about whether or not they would be
become pregnant.

So they are completely out of touch.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, I`m sorry. We`ve
run out of time. Thank you very much for joining me tonight.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.

END

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