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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, March 1, 2012

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Guests: Chris Hayes, Alex Wagner, Joe Scarborough, Joe Klein, Goldie Taylor, Toure

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The Democrats won today, but the
contraception fight isn`t over. Alex Wagner and Chris Hayes will join me
on the latest. And Joe Scarborough will join me with advice for


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fight over contraception and whether coverage
should be required regardless of an employer`s moral or religious beliefs.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: We are debating contraception all over

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the end of the day, I don`t think the
Republicans win.

MITCHELL: Senate Democrats defeated.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: The Senate voted 51-48.

UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: The debate was intense, personal and at even
times came down to gender.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most Republicans are for this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s about a faith principle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrats framing it very differently.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s to come about protecting the rights of

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you`re putting your boss in charge of your
health care decisions, something is really fundamentally wrong in this

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: The majority of employers
are men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their conscience is more important than the
conscience of women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, it`s absurd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the impact of Republicans waging this
fight now?

MITCHELL: You have a potential misstep by Mitt Romney.

WAGNER: Mitt Romney yesterday saying for about an hour that he did
not support the Blunt amendment.


WAGNER: And then reversing course.

ROMNEY: I didn`t understand the question. Of course, I support the
Blunt amendment.

WAGNER: It`s a classic Mitt Romney move, is it not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He took should be an easy slam dunk and turned it
into a controversy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does not serve Mitt Romney well to be talking
about cultural issues.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: He`s error-prone. I mean, that`s the

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just doesn`t have the common touch. This is
why he keeps making all these mistakes.

ANN COULTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Democrats are terrified of him.

If you don`t run Chris Christie, Romney will be the nominee, and we`ll

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: We now have six days, 23 hours and 59
minutes to find a replacement for this robotic plutocrat who couldn`t hold
the attention of cats with a can of tuna.


O`DONNELL: Today, the United States Senate defeated the controversial
Blunt amendment to allow employers to deny insurance coverage of any
medical treatment for any reason, based on any religious or moral
objection, but by a surprisingly close vote of 51-48, with retiring Senator
Olympia Snowe of Maine providing the only Republican vote against the


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The closeness of this vote shows
how high the stakes are for women this year. A Republican-led Senate might
pass this bill. A Republican president like Mitt Romney would definitely
sign it.

Senator Blunt said on the floor earlier today that this issue is not
going away. He may be more correct than he realizes. What we will make
sure that women across the country are aware of what the Republicans in the
Senate propose to do. They want to force women to surrender their health
decisions to their bosses.


O`DONNELL: Rick Santorum isn`t so sure a president Romney would
definitely sign it.


what`s in the gut of Governor Romney yesterday, when he was asked the
question about the Blunt amendment, which is about a religious liberty
amendment, so not imposing Obamacare`s values on people of faith -- not
just churches, people of faith.

When Governor Romney was asked that question, his knee jerk reaction
was, no, I can`t be for that. Well, then after his consultants talked to
him and then he came back, I didn`t understand the question. Maybe he did.
Maybe he didn`t.

But I`ll tell you, if I was asked a question like that, my gut
reaction would be always, my gut reaction would be always to stand for the
First Amendment, you stand for freedom of religion, you stand for the First
Amendment rights.

A lot will tell you what kind of president you`re going to be when you
haven`t been properly briefed by your consultants and you`re asked what`s
really going on here.


O`DONNELL: The press would like more clarification from Mitt Romney
on the Blunt amendment, but Romney`s handlers think he has said quite


REPORTER: Can you clarify your position on the Blunt Amendment?

ROMNEY: I`m in favor of the Blunt amendment.

REPORTER: Can you elaborate? What happened in the interview

ROMNEY: Yes, absolutely.


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."

Mitt Romney had a rough time with this one. In fact, I want to play a
little bit more of the Romney setup when he was doing his reversal on this
after initially saying, of course, I`m opposed to that because it makes
sense to be opposed to it. And he started doing his rewind.

He went on Howie Carr`s Boston radio show to explain in detail why
this question was so confusing. Let`s listen to the radio.


ROMNEY: I didn`t understand the question. Of course, I support the
Blunt amendment. I thought he was talking about some state law that
prevented people from getting contraception. I thought it was some Ohio
legislation where employers were prevented from providing contraceptives.
And so I talked about contraceptives and so forth. I really misunderstood
the question.


O`DONNELL: The question he was asked was -- the guy referred to it --
the reporter referred to it as the Blunt/Rubio amendment. Blunt being a
congressional team operative for Romney, and Rubio being someone that
Romney has heard of before. Not from Ohio.

WAGNER: This is not a great mystery. We`ve been talking about the
Blunt amendment for a while. There are so many puns here. Mitt Romney has
been hit with a Blunt instrument, et cetera, et cetera.

I thought the reversal was telling. But, you know, the other half of
when Romney initially said he wouldn`t vote for the Blunt amendment. He
added an important part of the sentence which was, I don`t think
politicians should get in the way of a husband`s decision with his wife or
a decision between a husband and a wife. Now, there`s no confusion there,
right? I mean, that`s a very clear stance.

And to Rick Santorum`s point, you know, here is someone where you have
no idea what he believes. He literally lays out his ideology in one hour
and the next tries to reverse it.

O`DONNELL: But here`s where I think Santorum is wrong. If you say,
hey, when you see him answer a question, unmanaged by his handlers, you see
how he`s going to be president. No, you don`t. The handlers are going to
be sitting in the Oval Office, if he ever got there, telling him what he

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is quite a fair point, actually. I
mean, I thought the Santorum attack was effective.


HAYES: In terms of who his audience is -- extremely effective.

The other is that -- I`m just in awe of everybody marching off this
cliff together. I mean, Scott Brown is in a heated race in Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts of all places! And he is associating himself with this

Let`s be clear on what this would do. It would functionally gut
everything about the Affordable Care Act, right? If you are allowed to
exempt yourself for any moral qualm you have with anything, presumably
employers would all the sudden be finding all kinds of new moral objections
to anything that cost them any money.

O`DONNELL: It would be the new cost control in the Obama health care
bill -- the moral objection clause, in which we just start eliminating
every provision of your health care.

WAGNER: And you thought obesity was a moral sin, you wouldn`t have to

HAYES: Or AIDS treatment. Or AIDS treatment, right?

WAGNER: And life care.

HAYES: Yes. I mean, there are all kinds. So the broadness -- I
mean, just even as a piece of crafted legislation that could plausibly
become law, it is -- it is essentially a backdoor gutting of the entirety
of the regime of the Affordable Care Act. I mean --

O`DONNELL: It has been driving Republicans crazy, but it is hard to
get crazier than Rush Limbaugh on this subject. Let`s listen to what Rush
had to say today about the Georgetown law school student who was going to
testify at the original hearing on this. She was barred. And then the
Democrats brought her in for another session.

Let`s listen to what Limbaugh said about that.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The Georgetown student who went
before a congressional committee and said she`s having so much sex, she`s
going broke buying contraceptives and wants us to buy them. I said, what
would you call someone who wants us to pay for her to have sex? What would
you call that woman? You call them a slut, a prostitute.

Mr. Obama, President Obama, do you agree with Rush Limbaugh that 99
percent of the women in America are sluts? Will be the question.


O`DONNELL: He really knows how to have a good time on his radio show.

Alex, the Georgetown law school student Sandra Fluke has responded.
I`d actually like you to read her response.

WAGNER: Cold read.

"No woman deserves to be disrespected in this manner. This language
is an attack on all women, and has been used throughout history to silence
our voices. The millions of American women who have and will continue to
speak out in support of women`s health care and access to contraception
prove that we will not be silenced."

O`DONNELL: Now, I want to think about what should we call Rush
Limbaugh, and if we -- we got a graphic that we want to put up here, which
is a graphic of Rush Limbaugh`s life and his sex life, which you can now
turn around and --


O`DONNELL: Take a look at this graphic.

Rush Limbaugh was married for the very first time in 1997. That ended
in 1980. 1977, sorry. Then, you see the second wife, `83 to `90. Third
wife, `94 to 2001. And he`s still married to the fourth wife.

So what we have there is a -- presuming -- if we were to presume that
Rush Limbaugh`s interpersonal heterosexual sex life began in 1977 and has
run to the presence and perhaps there`s a dalliance in those blank spots
here and there. Throughout that entire interpersonal sex life, he has
produced exactly zero children.

So this is a man who has not only been practicing birth control for
well over 30 years, he has perfected it -- absolutely perfected it.

Alex, for this guy to be the guy who is telling women how they should
handle themselves with his flawless record, it seems to me, of, I guess
flawless contraception.

WAGNER: I would argue it`s probably good for the national
conversation that there have not be offspring from Rush`s many unions.

You know, I`m with Sandra on this. I think that this is -- this is
reprehensible. I mean, we can joke about it, but this is absolutely a war
on women. This is absolutely trying to -- this has conflated the issue of
sort of going from the very heated rhetoric around abortion to the opposite
end of the spectrum, which is basic contraception.

It is totally counterintuitive to the idea of conservatism and the
idea they shouldn`t be involved in personal decisions to have the Blunt
amendment and to have panels of white men talking about women`s choice
issues. I mean, the fact that we are here as international dialogue is

And the fact that Republicans are not only not calling it out, but
doubling down and that these measures are passing by a hair, by someone who
is retiring is shocking.


HAYES: I continue to be astounded. There`s an amazing moment in the
debate last week where they asked the question about birth control and the
audience booed.

And the reason the audience booed was because they understand there
are no wrong side of this issue. That`s why they booed. They booed the
question being asked. Let`s get back to the things they win on. And then
they can`t help themselves.

I mean, why are -- it`s like a death wish -- why do they keep
litigating this? And really there`s a Twitter hashtag now "use the 19th" -
- in reference to the 19th Amendment, which, of course, gave women the
vote. And I am really watching this slightly awestruck because I genuinely
can`t understand the political thinking behind this.

And part of me think it`s vestigial -- they`ve been so used to the
right being on the right side of wedge issues for so long that they have
this vestigial --

O`DONNELL: The right side to carve out these voting blocs --

HAYES: Politically, politically.

O`DONNELL: -- that they assemble to a 51 percent --

HAYES: Exactly. And they would find some fourth grader who got
kicked out of their classroom because she wanted to say a prayer. It would
be a very sympathetic story. They would do a drum beat.

And yes, actually, in terms of the raw numbers, they have a majority
behind them. And they`ve been so successful in doing that for so long,
it`s been such a bedrock part of their political strategy, that I think
that they cannot bring themselves to understand that they have like Wile E.
Coyote left off the cliff, and their legs are circling, but they`re no
longer on solid ground.

I mean, that`s the only explanation.

O`DONNELL: I mean, you mentioned how this worked in an election like
Scott Brown is facing many Massachusetts. Chuck Schumer actually
specifically brought it to Scott Brown later in some of the comments he
made today.

Then you have Limbaugh, who is the most famous Republican in America.
There`s no senator as famous as he is. When he says something like that,
it feeds into every Republican candidacy. Every Republican candidacy
carries some Limbaugh burden with it. And in Massachusetts, that`s going
to be tough.

WAGNER: Oh, I mean, this is -- I don`t understand Scott Brown`s
position. I don`t think it makes his battle easier. I talk to elder
statesmen of the party who are saying, look, there`s all this rhetoric
going on. Deep downside, inside a lot of Republicans are on the proverbial
couch trying to figure out what this means for the party.

There is no way the Republican Party comes out of this year and does
not have to do some soul searching.

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner and Chris Hayes, "NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER" airs
noontime, Monday through Friday -- I won`t even look at the prompter.


O`DONNELL: "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES" is on Saturdays 8:00 to 10:00, and
Sundays 9:00 to 11:00. Is that right?

HAYES: Eight to 10:00 both days now.

O`DONNELL: Both days same slot, because then Melissa Harris-Perry,
OK, yes. All right. Thank you very much.

HAYES: Close enough.

O`DONNELL: I`m going to do Melissa`s timeslot and Joe Scarborough`s
timeslot from memory accurately.

Coming up, Joe Scarborough is going to my next guest with a Republican
perspective on the politics of contraception.

And then, Melissa Harris-Perry and Joe Klein will join me on what to
expect as the Republican campaign heads into Super Tuesday.

And Ann Coulter is back in "The Rewrite" tonight rewriting herself

And later, Goldie Taylor and Toure will join me to share their
memories of Andrew Breitbart.



MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: The death star imagery is very
important. It is taking out the moon and the planet to clear a pathway to
the nomination.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: Wow. OK. And that was just from one night.


STEWART: Because the death star wasn`t trying to clear up a pathway
to anything. That death star was blowing up the peaceful planet of
Alderaan to demonstrate that the empire was the ultimate power in the
universe. Exactly.




SCHUMER: If Republicans keep this up, their going to drive away
independent voters, women and men, just as they are driving moderates out
of their caucus.


O`DONNELL: That was New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer after
the Blunt amendment was defeated today. One Republican sounded that same
alarm two weeks ago.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: They need to be very careful about how
they push forward on this issue, because if it stops being about freedom of
religion --


SCARBOROUGH: And starts being about contraception, then Republicans
will get routed in swing areas.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, the host of MSNBC`s "MORNING JOE," Joe

So, Joe, have they pushed it too far? Have they pushed it past
freedom of religion into contraception from the voter Republican

SCARBOROUGH: You know, I think at this point, they have. When you
have people like my wife, who is very pro-life, who lectures me on
exceptions, who has never voted for a Democratic president in her life,
when you have her and her friends sitting around breakfast tables, as I
heard them a couple weekends ago saying what`s happening to our party,
that`s a real problem.

I mean, you know, Lawrence, I think you`ll agree with me. Whether you
think it`s demagoguery, whether you think it`s fair or not, Republicans
have a pretty good slate of issues moving forward against the president
this fall.

They can talk about taxes and how taxes will go up if the president is
reelected. They can talk about the bailouts. Even though, of course, they
were George Bush`s bailouts as well. They can talk about the president`s
health care plan. Not exactly popular coast to coast.

Instead, we`ve had a Republican Party focused on contraception,
something -- a practice that 99 percent of Republican women engage in --
Republican women, independent women, Republicans in swing states, Democrats
in swing states, independents in swing states. Of course, on state
sanctioned vaginal probes and a series of other issues. Like whether
somebody is a snob because they think it`s a good thing to encourage our
children to go to colleges.

There are all these distractions, including saying that a John Kennedy
speech made someone want to throw up on their sweater vest. There are all
of these issues that are not only scaring independent voters, but they`re
scaring die hard, rock-ribbed Republicans into asking, why are you guys
focused on side issues that aren`t going to help you win this fall? It`s
been a very bad month for the Republican Party.

O`DONNELL: Joe, in 2008, the majority of voters were women.
Democrats won the women vote, 56 percent to 43 percent for the Republicans.
The Republicans know this. They stare at these numbers.

You must be talking to some Republican who is are quietly in the back
room saying what are we doing? How do we get away from this?

SCARBOROUGH: There`s no doubt about it. And there`s so many
Republicans that saw this year as a year that the party can win not only
the White House. They can win the Senate, as well as the House of

And, you know, Lawrence, what`s so crazy, if you look at, for
instance, the Gallup poll that was released today -- Mitt Romney is
actually a few points ahead of Barack Obama. But all that said, it looks
like this is a party that is intent on driving away women voters,
independent voters and voters in swing states.

And I`m hearing this -- again, I`m not hearing this from the do-
gooder, good government moderate Republicans that always drive the base
crazy. I`m hearing this from the base. I`m hearing this from people
behind closed doors that are usually the fire breathers, who are saying,
why are we letting this president off the hook? Why are we letting Harry
Reid off the hook? Why are we letting Nancy Pelosi off the hook talking
about side issues? Again, not only chase the other side away from us, but
our own party away from us.

And as long as we`re talking contraception, whether it`s the Blunt
amendment or whether it`s the Virginia amendment or whether it`s an Alabama
amendment -- as long as we`re talking about that, we have all of our
talking heads. We have all of our politicians. We have all of our opinion
pages obsessed on an issue that was resolved in 1965.

I think that`s when Griswold was resolved. It was -- in memory of
Davy Jones. This is the issue --

O`DONNELL: Yes, of the Monkees. I just want to point out to the
younger members of my audience. I have a very young audience.

SCARBOROUGH: Right. This is an issue that was resolved in mainstream
America a year before the first Monkees episode aired on TV.

I think Republicans should probably get past it and go back to the
president`s health care plan, the president`s promise to let the Bush tax
cuts expire, and a lot of other issues that would poll well for this party.

O`DONNELL: Joe, quickly before you go, I want to get you on the horse
race in the Republican field. You broke my heart this morning when you
said that it`s over for Santorum. It`s official position of this show that
we want Rick Santorum to be the nominee because I believe that gives the
clearest possible debate you could have between real Republican
conservatism and the practical governance of President Obama.

I think Obama would win the debate.

But I want to read you what Karl Rove said because he doesn`t think
it`s over for Santorum. I want to hear you case. Rove in "The Wall Street
Journal" said, "Michigan was Santorum`s best shot at delivering a fatal
blow to Mr. Romney. Yet Mr. Santorum couldn`t beat Mr. Romney mano-a-mano.
Mr. Santorum`s candidacy will realistically be at an end if he loses the
Buckeye State, although he could linger for weeks."

So you got Rove saying it`s over if he loses Ohio. You`re saying it`s
over already.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes. I mean, with all these candidates, and you know
this better than me. You know this better than anybody. The past is
always prologue.

Is anybody shocked he`s going around saying erratic crazy things when
he`s mad? No. Because that`s what Gingrich has been doing for 30 years.

Is anybody surprised that Rick Santorum is picking fights? I mean, he
wins Iowa. And then immediately, you know, you and I both, when somebody
wins Iowa and when they come out of nowhere, that`s when we look closely.
You say, what are they built up? Are they going to be excited? Too
excitable? Are they going to act like they`ve been there for in the words
of Vince Lombardi?

He goes to New Hampshire and he starts debating college students on
gay marriage, instead of talking about his grandfather, instead of talking
about blue collar concerns, instead of talking about bringing the
manufacturing base back to America.

So, the past is prologue for Rick Santorum. He`s loved fighting these
side issues for the past 20 years. And perhaps it`s because these side
issues, as "The Wall Street Journals" said in an editorial page, are not
side issues at all. Maybe the economy, maybe getting Americans back to
work, maybe true tax reform, maybe true entitlement reform -- maybe those
are side issues with Rick Santorum.

And like "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page, I fear they are.
And that`s why I think he`s shown his hand. He`s incapable of running a
disciplined campaign. He`s incapable of running a disciplined message.

And that`s why I think even if he wins in Ohio, there`s no way he`s
going to be able to catch up with Romney`s death star machine going into
Tampa. I think this one is over.

O`DONNELL: Joe Scarborough -- the hardest working man at MSNBC, three
hours a day, 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.


O`DONNELL: Five days a week on "MORNING JOE". Joe, thank you very
much for joining me tonight.

SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Lawrence. Appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: And everyone should tune in tomorrow for special education
town hall on "MORNING JOE," 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Next, Melissa Harris-Perry and Joe Klein -- they`re going to join me
to discuss how much hair Mitt Romney has left to burn.

And, Ann Coulter is back in the "Rewrite" tonight. And I`ll tell you
where and why. I will be debating Ann Coulter on Sunday night.

And later, Goldie Taylor and Toure will join me to discuss the death
of Andrew Breitbart.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people that you know in politics,
especially after Romney won two contests on Tuesday, are saying we know
he`s going to be the nominee, just make this process stop to avoid hurting
Republicans in the campaign. What do you say to those people who say make
it stop?

another moderate Republican. We`ve done a really -- really well when we`ve
nominated the persons whose turn it was, who was a moderate. John McCain,
Bob Dole, re-election of George H. W. Bush, Jerry Ford. All those folks
have done great in the general election. Wrong.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, "Time Magazine" political columnist Joe
Klein, also Melissa Harris-Perry, host of MSNBC`s "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY."
Thank you both for joining me tonight.

Joe, your "Time Magazine" piece this week is entitled "The Hair Fire
Manifesto," derived from something Mitt Romney said about lighting his hair
on fire, which I think we should also listen to right now, what Romney said
about that.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`ve seen throughout the
campaign that if you`re willing to say really outrageous things that are
accusative and attacking of President Obama, that you`re going to jump up
in the polls. I`m not willing to light my hair on fire to try to get


O`DONNELL: Melissa, he has burned all of his pair off trying to get
support. There`s not a hair left on his head.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: He sets out on fire. He puts it
out. He sets it on fire. He puts it out. Right, this is sort of how he

O`DONNELL: And then he`s pretending that he hasn`t been accusative of
the president on anything. This is crazy, what he`s saying.

JOE KLEIN, "TIME MAGAZINE": He hasn`t called him a secret Muslim.

O`DONNELL: Not yet.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right, or a non citizen, or any of those things.
And the fact that that now counts as moderation.

O`DONNELL: But the greatest attack on religious freedom in the
history of this country, he has visited upon President Obama.

KLEIN: He`s a follicular arsonist. But we learned something really
important this week. And it was a first time thing. There`s actually
something Mitt Romney won`t say or do to get elected.

O`DONNELL: Which is what?

KLEIN: Which is call Barack Obama a secret Muslim or the --

O`DONNELL: We`re not giving credits for that.

KLEIN: The kind of things that both Santorum and Gingrich have
implied, soft on Islam. What is that code language for? And so on. So I
think it`s really good, but it shows the limitations of this guy. If this
guy is the moderate, why doesn`t he have anything to say to moderates.

Moderates who have gotten elected, like Bill Clinton and George W.
Bush, had messages for the moderates in the center of the spectrum, but
also in the other party. Bill Clinton ran against welfare as we know it.
George W. Bush was a compassionate conservative, which turned out to be
kind of hollow, but he was trying to be nice.

Mitt Romney has given moderates and independents, people in the middle
of the spectrum, nothing. You know, Ed Koch had a great slogan. He used
to say, "if you agree with me on nine out of 12 issues, vote for me. If
you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist."

And Mitt Romney has been trying to please, you know, these right wing
crazies all the time. And it has severely damaged the guy. I mean,
severely damaged.

O`DONNELL: Melissa, and when you think about the moves that Bill
Clinton made to the center, to that side of the party --

HARRIS-PERRY: The center?

O`DONNELL: Running rhetorically against welfare, as he did, he was
doing it in the primaries. He didn`t wait until the general. And Nixon
has sort of suggested -- people think Nixon suggest that you can kind of
ignore the middle in primaries. You can`t. You have to get started early.


HARRIS-PERRY: And you particularly can`t ignore them in this kind of
media environment, where, you know, we`re not talking about you can go sort
of talk to a quiet room, because everybody has got a cell phone. Anything
you say is going to be available on sound, on television for a long time.

But you know what I heard when he said, "I`m not willing to set my
hair on fire" was not just kind of a language about a moderation in opinion
or attitude. It sounded to me almost like he was saying, I don`t want this
badly enough to really work extremely hard it .

And actually I think the sense that Mitt Romney sort of feels like he
just deserves to have it this time, that he`s the inevitable front-runner
is part of what is turning off primary voters, who even when they disagree
with Rick Santorum, like the fact that Rick Santorum does seem willing to
do nearly anything, to push himself, to make things difficult for his
family, to take a lot of criticism.

That the Republican party over the years has increasingly sort of set
its standard as someone who will sort of take these tough stances or do
these hard things, even when we disagree with them. That was George W.
Bush`s sort of stay the course narrative.

He is not going to win voters with this, well, maybe I would like to
be president, maybe I wouldn`t.

O`DONNELL: We opened the show with a great Colbert joke about the
Republicans still looking for a new candidate. And we have bloggers
saying, you know, we want a new candidate. Some of them saying ridiculous
things like Bobby Jindal.

But Andy Card, former White House chief of staff, serious Republican
player, is talking about this. Let`s listen to what he had to say.


ANDREW CARD, FORMER CABINET MEMBER: I don`t think it`s going to be a
brokered convention, but it could be. I happen to have a perfect candidate
for president. His name is John Ellis Bush, Jeb Bush. But he`s not


O`DONNELL: That`s Andy Card talking, Joe. That is very deliberate
mischief. That`s a man who measures every word he says.

KLEIN: That`s right. Also Jeb Bush himself talking to Republicans in
Dallas last week said, I used to think of myself as a conservative, but now
I don`t know because of the negative fear mongering nonsense that these
people are trying to sell.

HARRIS-PERRY: But this is all -- this is all what the president`s
strength has been able to do. Look, the fact is that the reason that the
GOP is in disarray right now is because as weak as so many people would
like to say President Obama is as an incumbent, he was strong enough to
keep the Jeb Bushes, the Nikki Haleys, the Chris Christies out of this

Every last one of them, smart politicians, took a look and said, you
know what? My bet is we`re not going to put up a nominee who can beat this
president. In four years, it will be an open seat race. Joe Biden looks
like an easy target. I think I`ll take him on.

I mean, this really -- what we`re seeing is a disarray this is
certainly in part about the party. But it`s as much about the strength of
President Obama`s ability to keep these sort of reasonable candidates out
of the race.

KLEIN: The party is in disarray because the nihilist wing is in
control. The boss of the Republican party is Rush Limbaugh. And you
showed earlier the outrageous things that he said today.

And I fully believe that not one Republican running for president will
have the courage to say, Rush, you went too far there.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and they tried. A couple years ago, one would try
it. Within that news cycle, they would retract the anti-Rush statement.
Now they don`t even say a word.

HARRIS-PERRY: Give them four years. You know, I suppose part of it
is you just kind of wait. You see whether or not Limbaugh actually
destroys himself in the course of the next four years.

O`DONNELL: "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" airs Saturday and Sunday mornings.
I know exactly when, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. I was a little bit
challenged at the MSNBC schedule when I was talking about earlier guests`
time slots. And you can read Joe Klein`s piece in "Time Magazine."

Thank you both very much for joining me tonight.

Coming up, Ann Coulter is back in the Rewrite. She`s Rewriting
herself, again. And Sunday night, she will be helping me raise money for a
good cause when we appear together in a debate in Washington.

Later, Goldie Taylor and Toure will join me to discuss some of our
surprising experiences with Andrew Breitbart.



DAVID LETTERMAN, "THE LATE SHOW": Here`s another new segment. It`s
called Rick Santorum, He Knows What He Likes. Roll it.

SANTORUM: The British are the most powerful Army in the world and
Navy in the world. They were ruled by highly educated, noble people. The
uniforms were crisp and stiff. They looked good.



O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, Ann Coulter. No one needs more
Rewriting than Ann Coulter. No writer publicly Rewrites herself or himself
more than Ann Coulter. Here is her now familiar Rewriting of herself over
the years on the matter of her new darling, Mitt Romney.


Romney`s candidacy for presidency? I think he`s probably our best

I may as well tell you what my prediction is. I think -- well, I`ll
put it in a nutshell. If we don`t run Chris Christie, Romney will be the
nominee and we`ll lose.

Romney is definitely the one we need now.


O`DONNELL: And then there`s Ann Coulter on Osama bin Laden.


COULTER: As for catching Osama, it`s irrelevant.


O`DONNELL: That`s what she said nearly five years into George W.
Bush`s failed search for Osama bin Laden. Eighteen months into the Obama
presidency, in a column, Coulter offered this taunt: "by the way,
Democrats, where`s Osama?"

After a Democratic CIA director and a Democratic president found Osama
and had him killed, Ann Coulter has yet to Rewrite her taunt, "where is
Osama," to thank you, Mr. President.

I will get a chance to ask Ann why on Sunday night in a debate at
George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., which I`m doing both for
the fun of debating Ann Coulter and to raise money for the KIND Fund.

Ann titled one of her many books "How to Talk to a Liberal If You
Must." On Sunday night, she`s going to have to do that for an hour and a
half. And the real winner of the debate will not be Ann or me, but the
thousands of kids in African classrooms who will get new desks thanks to
Ann`s willingness to talk to a liberal.


O`DONNELL: When I first met Andrew Breitbart in Los Angeles many
years ago, we liked each other. He was then working for "The Drudge
Report" and helping Arianna create "The Huffington Post." He was
overflowing with energy and he was fun to talk to about the untapped
potential of the Internet.

We didn`t discuss politics. We had a long lunch in Santa Monica once
without a word of politics. He showed he his first website on his laptop,
brimming with the pride of a new father.

He was just aggregating headlines back then. When he eventually
emerged as a public figure, I was surprised by the extreme overstatement
that became Andrew`s trademark. But whenever I would run into him, we were
always friendly and almost never discussed politics.

The last time I saw Andrew was in New Hampshire this year, the night
before the primary. It`s the kind of meeting that only happens on that
climactic political weekend in New Hampshire. You`re walking down the
street in Manchester. You see someone you know. You fall into
conversation as you walk along together.

I was headed to a party that would be very unfriendly territory to
Andrew. But he had nothing to do. And he was always up for a party, so he
tagged along. Luckily there was a Republican or two at the party who
welcomed him with bear hugs. And I left long before Andrew did.

On my way out, I was not surprised toe see Andrew seriously engaged
with a famous member of what he considered the liberal media conspiracy.
Andrew had attacked that reporter mercilessly over the years. And that
unbiased, careful reporter had been expecting to happily live his life
without ever meeting Andrew Breitbart.

And because I brought Andrew to a party that no one else would have
dared to bring him too, now that reporter was standing there talking to
Andrew about news and politics. Their opinions could not be more
different, but they never raised their voices and they never stopped

The public version of Andrew was not the version I knew. I won`t miss
the public version of Andrew. But the next time I`m walking down the
street in New Hampshire, I will think of him, and I will wish I could run
into the Andrew Breitbart who I knew.

Joining me now are Toure, author of "Who is Afraid of Post-Blackness"
and a contributor to the website, and Goldie Taylor, managing
editor of "The Goldie Taylor Project," and a contributor to,
which is part of NBC News.

So this news came across this morning of Andrew`s death. I started
looking at Twitter. I thought I might say something. Then I saw Goldie
did. And then you did, Toure.

I want Goldie`s first Tweet: "I passionately disagreed with Andrew
Breitbart, but he started following me and a conversation ensued. We are
both better for it." You got a lot of negative reaction to that.

in a day`s work. I had a -- you know, a bad feeling about Andrew Breitbart
from the first moment I heard his name in connection with the Shirley
Sherrod issue.

O`DONNELL: Which is where most people first -- that rocketed up his

TAYLOR: Before that, he was irrelevant to me. I could care less who
he was. I was angry with him about Shirley Sherrod. But we had -- and
probably more angry than Shirley Sherrod herself. But we had a
conversation that started on Twitter.

And people watched this. They joined in. They watched us come to
fisticuffs and then they watched us agree on some things. Then that moved
to telephone conversations, broad and ranging conversations, where I think
I heard him.

You know, I don`t buy the caricature. But certainly nobody will be
singing the theme song to "Cooly High" now that he`s gone.

But he`s 43 and so am I. And the last thing I want is for my five
children, the day I die, to have to deal with people trashing my name
before I`m in the ground.

O`DONNELL: And Andrew had four children. And this is just a
programming note for this show: when someone dies, if they`re going to be
discussed on this show, they will -- it will not be for the purposes of me
trashing them.

I have a choice. I could not discuss this at all or I would discuss
it this way. There were ways to talk about Whitney Houston that I would
not allow on this show. I knew others would do it, and I don`t object to
them doing it. It`s just not what I`m going to do.

Toure, you got in there this morning, your quote being, "no matter how
you feel about someone in life, when they die, it`s sad. Breitbart
attacked me relentlessly, but now that he`s gone, it`s sad." And you got
an awful lot of negative response.

Not what I`ve gotten on other things that I`ve said. You know, death is
disruptive for the living. It changes how we feel about those who have
died. And what I would say about Breitbart yesterday is not what I`m
willing to say about him today.

And it`s not hypocrisy. He is different. He has changed. If people
can do or say things that change how we feel about them, then surely death
must be one of those thing that cause us to react differently about a

The disagreements that we had, and we had many, are no longer
relevant. I don`t think people in heaven are sitting there talking about
conservatism and liberalism. They have much bigger issues to deal with.

Andrews, I saw the same sort of movement that you guys have alluded
to. We did "The Dennis Miller Show" together about 10 years ago, when he
was a Drudge guy. We had a nice conversation.

This public person who emerged, seemingly to say if I am over the top,
I will get more and more famous -- I don`t know who that person is. And he
actually did a show -- a fictional show via Twitter that was called "That
Broccoli is Racist," which was supposedly starring me. And he was
executive producer.

And the idea was very dangerous and offensive, even though I found the
whole thing kind of funny, which is talking about that racism no longer
matters and people like me, perhaps somebody like Goldie, are mentioning
racism when there`s no longer anything like it.

And it`s a very dangerous idea. And many of his ideas are very
offensive. But now that he`s gone, I`m not going to fight with his ghost.
I`m not going to argue with his legacy. He is gone. I`m going to remember
him as a committed soldier for his side of things. And that`s what he was.

O`DONNELL: And we all had public fights with him, which is what I
care about in this panel and in this group tonight. He attacked me all the
time. I`ve attacked him a bunch of times in this forum. But really, you
know, when we saw each other on the street in Manchester, None of that
would come up. It just wasn`t who he was, as an individual dealing with

TOURE: If we -- if we had passed and he were here, he would be
trashing us, but that is not a reason or excuse for us to do that to him.
I`m going to decide my level of engagement with him or with anything on my
rules and not based on his rules.

O`DONNELL: Shirley Sherrod released a statement today, which I think
teaches people how to react to something like this. Here she was,
suffering as she did the limelight that he shined on her. She said "the
news of Mr. Breitbart`s death comes as a surprise to me when I was informed
of it this morning. My prayers go out to Mr. Breitbart`s family as they
cope through this very difficult time."

What else is there to say?

TAYLOR: That`s grace. That`s grace walking. I mean, I am not
ashamed to say that I am not long on grace. Our friend Toure here knows
that when I get on the Twitter machine and decide --


TAYLOR: -- and I`m fired up, it gets cranked up. I`m sure that there
are people won`t be happy when I pass this way. But for someone like
Shirley Sherrod, who suffered the way she did -- none of us suffered the
way Shirley Sherrod did under Andrew Breitbart`s wrath. For her to come
with this grace and say, no matter how he lived, I`m going to respect him
and his family, that`s a standard to which we can all subscribe.

And I got to tell you that if you call yourself a liberal, then
compassion ought to be your first name.

O`DONNELL: And for me, I got to tell you, when someone has kids out
there, I know they`re not watching this show tonight. But I just can`t
feed into the flow of information when there is surviving children out
there, a whack at people at this point.

TOURE: Even if he were single and childless, a human being passes,
I`m going to react to them differently. He was an extraordinarily
controversial and challenging person in many ways. What he added to public
discourse was very dangerous.

But he`s dead now. So now we`re going to lay down our swords.


TAYLOR: I don`t know if it`s dangerous. I mean, Andrew Breitbart
said something to me that I will continue to repeat to my dying day, that
says we need more voices, not fewer.

O`DONNELL: That will be THE LAST WORD. Goldie Taylor and Toure,
thank you both very much for joining me tonight. "THE ED SHOW" is up next.


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