Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Guests: Melissa Harris-Perry, Howard Dean, Steve Kornacki, Erick Metaxas, Keith Boykin, Rick
Tyler

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Republicans want to forget about Rush
Limbaugh. But Democrats won`t let them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: How are you, folks? It`s great
to have you back. Rush Limbaugh here again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Advertisers have been dropping like flies.

LIMBAUGH: Have you really lost 28 sponsors? No, we have not lost 28
sponsors.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: As many as 39 sponsors have pulled out.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m not going to
comment on what sponsors decide to do.

LIMBAUGH: MSNBC, PMSNBC has decided their new theme is the war on
women.

OBAMA: Women are going to make up their own minds in this election.

LIMBAUGH: There is no war on women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I absolutely believe this is the year of the
woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They could have carried Mitt Romney over the Ohio
finish line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Santorum did better with women, he could
have pulled it out in Ohio.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: It is mathematically improbable that Rick
Santorum can be the nominee.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a person running
against President Obama.

TODD: Newt Gingrich first of all needs to drop out right now for
that to possibly happen.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are lots of bunny
rabbits that run through. I`m the tortoise. I just take one step at a
time.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Newt won his home state and nothing else
yesterday. And so, why is he staying in the race?

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Seriously, Michael Steele, what is going on
with Mitt Romney?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president is running
out of ideas.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: This is the guy. This is who
he is.

ROMNEY: And in 2012, we`re going to get him out of the White House.

MATTHEWS: He won the most states, he won the most delegates.

TODD: You got to give him his due.

MATTHEWS: So, why does Mitt Romney still look like a big bowl of
cold mashed peas?

TODD: You don`t need people that will crawl across broken glass to
vote for Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reality will settle in and they`ll
understand, Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee.

ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: If you don`t run Chris
Christie, Mitt Romney will be the nominee and we`ll lose. We`ll lose.
We`ll lose.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: The Limbaugh aftershocks continue. President Obama`s re-
election team wants you to never forget what Mitt Romney did not do when
Rush Limbaugh attacked Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Campaigns test you. I`ve said always
that there`s sort of an MRI for the soul and people learn about you. And
along the way, there are tests. We saw one last week when Rush Limbaugh
engaged in that horrendous outburst against the young woman law student
from Georgetown.

And the Republican candidates were asked to comment on it. And
Romney first refused and finally he said, well, that`s not language I would
have used. That`s not language I would have used.

That`s not language I would have used, what about the essence of what
he said? You know, he called this woman, you know, a prostitute, and he
called her a slut. He, you know -- and suggested that her -- she was
trying to get taxpayer funded birth control.

All that was outrageous, the premise was false, that was a moment
where he could have stood up and been a leader, and earned the respect of
the American people.

MATTHEWS: Who`s he afraid of, do you think? In the primary?

AXELROD: Rush Limbaugh. Well, I think he was afraid in that case of
Limbaugh. And, you know, as George Will said, if you`re afraid of Rush
Limbaugh, how are you going to deal with Ahmadinejad and all the bad guys
you have to deal with in the world?

Sometimes you have to stand up. These campaigns test you. There are
moments like that. This was one those moments and he failed the test.

(END VDIEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Rush Limbaugh continued today to pretend that he is not
concerned about the stampede of 40 advertisers away from his show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: Everything is fine on the business side. Everything`s
cool. There is not a thing to worry about, 28 sponsors out of 18,000.
That`s like losing a couple of French fries in the container when it`s
delivered to you at the drive thru. You don`t even notice it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: One advertiser is buying more time on Limbaugh`s show,
Rick Tyler, senior adviser for pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future
tells NPR, "Actually, we bought more. Limbaugh reaches more listeners who
are likely primary voters in all the states than anybody else."

And one new advertiser thinks there`s an opening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SOLEDAD O`BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: He`s the owner of Ashley Web site,
which connects married people to other people who want to have affairs.
Your tagline I believe is something like -- we`re the best site in
infidelity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s actually -- life is short, have an affair.
We`re totally willing to step into the void of other advertisers. I`m
happy to have Ashley Madison users join from 10 million Rush Limbaugh
users, it seems like a great marriage. And, you know, if it costs $2
million, $3 million I`m happy to pony up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Radio industry experts are unanimous in the expectation
that Rush Limbaugh will survive this crisis. He has a long way to fall
from his perch at the top of talk radio business. He is the largest radio
audience in the country, at least 15 million people weekly. That would
push Rush`s audience on par with the highest rated shows on television.

His advertising driven income is estimated at more than $56 million a
year.

Joining me now is former Democratic National Committee chairman,
former Vermont governor and current CNBC contributor, Howard Dean. And
Melissa Harris-Perry, host of MSNBC`s "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY".

Melissa, $56 million is quite a perch to fall from. If he lost half
his business, he`d still be one of the most powerful voices in radio. It`s
unlikely that Rush will collapse over this.

But he`s lost some very serious advertisers, not all advertisers are
created equal. Some of his strongest, biggest dollar advertisers.

But in our politics, where do you think this story now is in our
politics, and where does it go from here?

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Well, in a certain way it`s
exhausting in the middle of our politics, isn`t it? Here`s Rush Limbaugh,
who is doing just what he wants. He`s keeping his name in the middle of
controversy which does seem to keep listeners tuning in for him.

Now, yes, he is clearly losing sponsors, but he`s only losing some
sponsors, and as you just pointed out in that really smart intro there,
you`ve got new people willing to step into the gap.

I think what it does is it provides an opportunity for people who are
not Limbaugh supporters to now know which companies we can support with our
dollars for deciding to exit stage right or stage left after this, and
which folks want to be very careful about supporting with our dollars. But
this is the nature of a kind of marketplace of ideas where in fact he is at
the moment at the top of the marketplace.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the president had to say when he was
asked about Rush Limbaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I don`t know what`s in Rush Limbaugh`s heart, so I`m not
going to comment on the sincerity of his apology.

What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree
that the remarks that were made don`t have any place in the public
discourse. The reason I called Ms. Fluke is because I thought about Malia
and Sasha. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and
thoughtful way. And I don`t want them attacked or called horrible names
because they`re being good citizens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Now, that was clear enough. But, Howard Dean, I want you
to listen to Rush Limbaugh`s response to what the president said, and then,
if you can, please explain to me what it is we`re about to hear Rush
Limbaugh say.

I just don`t get it. Let`s listen to Rush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: He doesn`t know what`s in my heart, but you do. And that
is the key. This is the guy who stands next to Jimmy Hoffa and chuckles
when Hoffa talks about the "sons of bitches," quote-unquote, in the Tea
Party, being taken out. He laughs when they`re demeaned and insulted.

He doesn`t answer the question about other people who have been
really, really ripped and criticized and so forth by people on the left,
liberal commentators and so forth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, can you make any sense of that for me?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: You know, Al Franken probably
wrote the best thing about Rush Limbaugh ever. He had a book called "Rush
Limbaugh is a big fat idiot." I think that explains everything. I mean,
this guy is an entertainer, he`s basically the dean of hate radio in
America, and it caught up with him.

People are sick of this kind of stuff. I think that more than
anything else, this has gotten Romney in trouble. I think Romney will win
the nomination. Romney can`t survive this. The swing voters in
Pennsylvania are Republican women in the Philadelphia suburbs, I would love
to see Romney`s numbers or any Republicans numbers in those districts.
That`s what cost McCain Pennsylvania, it`s going to cost Romney
Pennsylvania.

This is the gift that keeps on giving. You cannot insult 52 percent
of the population, and expect that they`re suddenly going to have a change
of heart and think Republicans are somehow good for women.

O`DONNELL: Howard, did it happen too early in the campaign?

DEAN: No.

O`DONNELL: This is the kind of stuff -- Lawrence, this is the kind
of stuff that people do not forget, they will not forget this. You know,
if this had been an argument about the churches rights and all that kind of
stuff. That`s the kind of stuff that happens in Washington, everyone gets
it, the elites, about the Constitution.

This is a core attack on every woman, 82 percent of women of fertile,
childbearing age have taken birth control pills. This is an attack on 82
percent of women in the United States of America who Rush Limbaugh
essentially called sluts.

That`s unbelievable. I have never seen a Republican like this.
Usually, they`re far more disciplined than we are. They`re far more on
message than we are. This is a spectacular meltdown of the entire party.

I think they`re going to lose. I think they may lose as big the
president won last time because we`re going to win Virginia. We`re going
to win Ohio. We`re going to win Florida.

This is just shocking. I just can`t believe this is happening to the
Republican Party.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Sarah Palin`s version a defense of Rush
Limbaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I think the definition of
hypocrisy is for Rush Limbaugh to have been called out, force to apologize
and retract what it is he said in exercising his First Amendment rights.
And never is that the same applied to the leftist radicals who say such
horrible things about the handicapped, about women, about the defenseless.
So, I think that`s the definition of hypocrisy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Melissa Harris-Perry, as a leftist radical -- I assume
she`s including me in this group. I can`t remember saying any of those
things she`s talking about. That`s the classic, you know, kind deflection
defense that has no meaning. That`s the best you could do, I guess.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it is and it isn`t. I mean, I want to pause for
a second here, and point out that the right does not in fact have a
monopoly on saying really horrible things about women with whom they
disagree. Sexism and misogyny and the way that ends up in our political
discourse actually does end up on all sides.

For me, what is most dangerous and horrifying here isn`t the language
of slut per se, as disgusting as it was, and as much as it was directed at
an individual person. I just want to keep our eyes on the fact that what
the right has a monopoly on right now are a set of policy positions that
actively remove the ability of women to make choices for themselves around
their own health care, and around their own family planning decisions.

So, I worry both around race questions and gender questions, when we
get so fundamentally up in arms around the language, because, you know, I
hear you, that maybe we can`t find, you know, radical leftists who say mean
things. But look, I have been called extremely nasty names from both the
left and the right that are deeply gendered. What I care about here are
the policies around the availability health care for women.

And what the right does have a monopoly on is their willingness to
silence women and exclude them from their own health care decisions.

O`DONNELL: Howard Dean and Melissa Harris-Perry, thank you both very
much for joining me tonight.

DEAN: Thanks, Lawrence.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, who was the real winner in Ohio last night? I
mean, who actually got the most votes? And no, it was not Mitt Romney.

And Super Tuesday failed to do what it usually does -- convince at
least one candidate to drop out of the race. Santorum needs Gingrich to
drop out. Gingrich needs Santorum to drop out. Well, we`re going to have
a Gingrich/Santorum showdown tonight in the spotlight.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, the exit poll question that should
shock and shame America.

And, we have some extraordinary video of a young Barack Obama leading
a student protest at Harvard Law School. Video that FOX News` Sean Hannity
is already lying about.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: It`s like the Super Bowl of politics. If
the Super Bowl was one team slowly destroying itself. And just like the
Super Bowl, I painted my face with the team colors, white.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Who won last night`s presidential primary contest in
Ohio? The Republican presidential primary contest in Ohio? Well, Romney
got 456,000 votes, Santorum got 445,000 votes. Newt Gingrich got 175,000
votes. And Ron Paul, 111,000 votes.

But the person who got the most votes in Ohio last night was the
candidate who wasn`t running against anyone. President Obama got 547,000
votes last night in Ohio, which means that more voters in Ohio left their
homes, left work, got in their cars, came out, travelled to a voting place
and cast symbolic ballots to re-nominate President Obama in an uncontested
primary than the voters who supported either Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum.

Ohio is a must-win state for Republicans. No Republican in the last
150 years has ever won the election without winning Ohio. In Ohio last
night, Mitt Romney lost the independent vote to Rick Santorum. In Ohio
last night, Mitt Romney also lost people making under $100,000 a year, 70
percent of the people who voted in that Republican primary.

Joining me now to drill down on the results of last night`s election
in the all important state of Ohio is Steve Kornacki, senior writer for
"Salon".

Steve, I just figure, whenever votes are cast in Ohio, study them
because when we get to election night, everyone is going to be staring in
Ohio saying what`s going on? That`s where John Kerry missed the presidency
by a flip of 60,000 votes, it would have been different.

So, what did we see in Ohio? I am hugely impressed that over a half
a million people in Ohio said, I`m going to go out and cast a vote for
President Obama, even though I know he doesn`t need any votes at all.

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Right.

O`DONNELL: I mean, there`s some real energy out there.

KORNACKI: Yes, and it`s a continuation really of what we`ve been
seeing in other primaries so far, not just with the turnout for Obama, but
the high turnout for Obama but low turnout for the Republican race.

O`DONNELL: And this is the low turnout, in the year of the Tea Party
rage against the president.

KORNACKI: Right.

O`DONNELL: This Tea Party needs to change America, bring back
America, all those slogans, they`re not sure --

KORNACKI: Literally what the Republicans are left with out of this
process, you can say, no matter who they nominate, there is going to be no
energy for that nominee. They really are banking on all the energy being
opposition to Obama.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I mean, these guys are flirting with, roughly a
third, a little more than a third of the electorate in the states, that`s
what they call a win. And when you`re campaigning in Ohio in a primary
like this, you want to be locking in votes for November. You need to run a
campaign in Ohio that is particular to Ohio, because you know as the
Republican, I have to win this state. It can`t just be a game about
winning that Republican -- having a win last night.

KORNACKI: Well, what jumps out at me, the interesting thing about
Ohio is there are 88 counties there. And we know Ohio as, you know, sort
of the quintessential swing state. They`re actually aren`t that many swing
counties within Ohio.

O`DONNELL: Yes, right.

KORNACKI: I think there are only six that changed hands between 2004
in the Kerry/Bush race and 2008 in the Obama/McCain race.

When you look at those six counties last night, though, for some
clues, you see one that was very good for Romney. That`s a good sign for
him. That`s Hamilton County where Cincinnati is. This is a county that
had not voted for a Democrat since LBJ, went for Obama in `08. It`s where
Romney`s statewide margin really came from last night. He won it by 16,000
votes. So, that`s good.

But the -- four of the other five swing counties in the map last
night went for Santorum. And one problem area for Romney in particular
jumped out at me, as you go to the northwest part of the state, that`s
where Toledo is. Toledo is more dependent on Detroit, more independent on
the auto industry than other parts of that state. If you look at the
pattern last night, Romney was winning the cities in Ohio. He was winning
the blue cities.

He lost Toledo. He lost the three counties around Toledo that
switched between Bush in `04 and Obama in `08. Three swing counties around
Toledo seems like they`re responding quite possibly to the auto industry
bailout, to Romney`s well publicized opposition to that, and I think he
hurt himself there yesterday, and that could have implications for the
fall.

O`DONNELL: And the funny thing about -- all these candidates opposed
the auto bailout. But there`s something about Romney`s opposition to it
that rings louder and clearer to people than the fact that Santorum also
opposed the auto bailout.

KORNACKI: Right. It also -- it`s part of the larger trend with
Romney, where he`s associated with sort of top 1 percent in general. You
can put the income statistics up there. I mean, it`s striking. This guy
really is relying on a coalition of people making more than $100,000.

It`s not just the $100,000 plus, when you go higher, $200,000 plus,
he won by 29 points.

O`DONNELL: Right. And the only place voters over $100,000 can get
you a third of the electorate is in a Republican primary.

KORNACKI: Right.

O`DONNELL: There`s nowhere to go with that in general election.

KORNACKI: And that`s the amazing thing. The turnout is actually
higher, at least in Ohio. I`m not sure in other states. But in Ohio, the
turnout was higher. This time around, substantially higher among the
wealthy than it was before.

And you look at where the state was won for Obama, how he flipped it
in 2008, it was between about, you know, $30,000 and $100,000 on the income
scale. That`s where he made the biggest gains from John Kerry in 2004.
And that`s where Romney just took on the chin (ph) yesterday.

O`DONNELL: Rachel made the point in the previous hour, that the rich
have finally found the candidate worth really going out of their way for.
That`s the only surge in turnout you see is among the above $100,000
earning voters. No Tea Party surge, nothing.

KORNACKI: Right. Maybe we found the energy we`re talking about, the
lost energy for the Republican Party. But, you know, that`s really the
fundamental question, with Mitt Romney for the future of his campaign, is
the sort of reluctance of blue collar Republicans, is that ideological, did
they just happen to be conservative? Or is that a response to sort of his
aristocratic bearing? And if that`s the case, that has huge general
election implications.

O`DONNELL: Everything looked good for President Obama in Ohio last
night. Steve Kornacki of "Salon" -- thank you very much for joining me
tonight.

KORNACKI: Sure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up: the Santorum campaign will beg right here the
Gingrich campaign to drop out of the race. See how that goes.

And in the "Rewrite", the shocking exit poll question that the media
doesn`t seem to understand.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Rick Santorum wants Newt Gingrich to drop out of the
race. But Mitt Romney doesn`t want anyone to drop out. We`ll have a
Santorum/Gingrich showdown next.

And in the "Rewrite" -- the shocking exit poll question that the
media does not seem to understand.

And later, we`ll show you video of President Obama leading a student
protest at Harvard Law School. One his classmates will join us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: To be perfectly honest with
you and candid, not being political, I will answer your question and let
you know that I voted for the cheerful one, for Newt Gingrich.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Sarah Palin and a majority of voters in most states that
voted on Super Tuesday voted against Mitt Romney. But because Rick
Santorum and Newt Gingrich continue to split the conservative vote, Romney
continues to sneak into first place in states like Ohio.

The Romney path to the nomination has always depended on the
proposition that at least two Republicans would be splitting the
conservative vote. With Santorum running well ahead of Newt Gingrich in
national polls and finishing ahead in more states last night, Republican
strategist Steve Schmidt explained the reality of the Gingrich candidacy
this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: There`s no question going-
forward that a vote for Newt Gingrich is a vote for mitt Romney in this
process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The pro-Rick Santorum super PAC, the Red, White and Blue
Fund, released a statement today saying with Gingrich "exiting the race, it
would be a true head-to-head race and conservatives would be able to make a
choice between a consistent conservative in Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney.
For instance, with Gingrich out of the race, Santorum would have won both
Ohio and Michigan. Newt has become a hindrance to a conservative
alternative."

Newt Gingrich responded this way on Bill Bennett`s radio show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I think he was a slam
dunk to beat Romney and to beat Obama, I would really consider getting out.
I don`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Rick Tyler, senior adviser for the pro-
Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future, Eric Metaxas, a Rick Santorum
supporter here in New York.

Eric, the -- Santorum is beating Gingrich consistently in these
things. All you have to do is add Gingrich`s total to Santorum`s larger
number and you have a wipe out of Mitt Romney in all these campaigns. What
does Rick Santorum have to do to convince not Newt Gingrich, but other
Republicans to rise up and say, come on, let`s narrow this race?

ERIC METAXAS, RICK SANTORUM SUPPORTER: I`m not a political
strategist. I have to say that if he continues to say what he believes in,
I have a funny feeling that the Obama administration is probably more
afraid of Santorum at this point than they`re willing to admit. He has an
ability to connect with Rust Belt middle Americans, working class
Americans.

I think that`s why ultimately I would support him, is because I feel
that he just makes the connection with average Americans that in a way
Romney isn`t yet making. And I don`t see him making that in the way that
Santorum is making. So it`s hard for me to think he`s not electable.

I actually, oddly enough, think he`s the most electable of the three.

O`DONNELL: Well, Rick Tyler, the national polls don`t show that Mitt
Romney has any particular advantage over Rick Santorum running against
President Obama. And your guy is just falling behind, further and further
behind. Why? Why, Rick?

Why prolong this? You were heard. You heard Steve Schmidt say that a
vote for Gingrich is a vote for Romney. How can you let that happen?

RICK TYLER, SENIOR ADVISER, WINNING OUR FUTURE SUPER PAC: Well, Steve
Schmidt managed the John McCain campaign. So I`ll just leave it at that.
But look, we put a lot of effort into Georgia because we felt like we had
to win Georgia. WE probably over-invested in Georgia, spent too much time
and money there.

But it was OK. We had a decisive win. I`m out here in Mississippi
and Alabama. That`s the next step. Let me -- we heard a lot about
calculations today. The calculation has actually changed somewhat. The
calculation is that -- put out by the Romney campaign, who has no ability
to beat Barack Obama -- in fact, David Axelrod did a conference call today
laying out why he couldn`t beat Barack Obama, because Mitt Romney has used
up his last half life, and he has just wiped out his support for the middle
class and independent voters.

So he has just destroyed his ability to beat Barack Obama. And you
pointed out in the first segment that more people showed up for Barack
Obama than showed up for the Republicans. That`s because of the negative
campaigning that`s been going on.

But let me just put this calculation on the table. The hurdle for
Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum to catch up with Mitt Romney is only equaled
by the hurdle of Mitt Romney to actually arrive at the convention with the
proper number of delegates. The calculation has changed in this way, Rick
-- it is not in Rick Santorum`s interest for Newt Gingrich to drop out of
this race.

It is in Rick Santorum`s interests, believe it or not, for Newt to
stay in the race and to collect as many delegates, as Rick should do, to
keep Mitt Romney from getting the requisite number of delegates to arrive
in Tampa. And in that -- doing that, after the first ballot, which Mitt
Romney will fail to win, then Rick Santorum would have a genuine chance at
winning an open floor fight.

But he doesn`t have a chance otherwise, because he has no ability to
beat Mitt Romney and his organization and his money.

O`DONNELL: Rick, I just have to follow up with that. Of course he
has the ability to beat him. You look at Michigan. You look at Ohio.
Romney bombed Santorum with money in Ohio. And if Newt Gingrich wasn`t in
the race, Santorum would have beaten him decisively.

TYLER: Explain that theory to me in California. Explain that theory
to me in New Jersey. Explain that theory to me in New York. That theory
doesn`t hold up. Those are big states. And Mitt Romney will decisively
beat Rick Santorum in those states, because he`s going to out-spend him.

He out-spent him in Ohio by almost four to one. The calculation is if
you can keep Mitt Romney from out-spending you by three to one, you might
win. But if he out-spends you by four to one, then you`re going to lose.
And that was -- that is what would happen to Rick Santorum..

O`DONNELL: Eric, Rick is trying to play it forward. He won`t grant
us the actual facts of the votes that we`ve already counted. And he wants
to talk about the votes that are months away.

(CROSS TALK)

O`DONNELL: Eric, what Rick is essentially saying is OK, hey,
everybody, let`s just keep playing. It seems pretty clear to us that even
Romney isn`t going to get the delegates he needs in the election process to
go into the convention with the nomination.

So we will all show up in Florida with our delegates, and then we can
talk. And if Rick -- and if Rick Santorum`s way ahead of Newt Gingrich,
then maybe there`s some kind of deal to be made. Let`s just wait until
Florida.

What`s wrong with that?

METAXAS: Listen, I think they really believe that. So it`s hard for
me to tell them not to do that. I don`t believe that. I think that --
listen, a lot of the votes for Romney are very pragmatic votes. A lot of
people don`t love Romney, but they would vote for him. I`m certainly one
of them.

However, people love Santorum. When I talk to people who like
Santorum, they don`t just like him, they love him. They`re passionate
about him. They see his passion. I think there`s a lot of that for
Gingrich as well.

If I thought Gingrich could win, that`s one thing. But at this point,
I don`t think he can. I guess the question is, when will he see that? The
point is, it really doesn`t matter what we think. Gingrich has to believe
that he can`t win. For some reason, he still believes.

I mean, he`s come back from the dead twice. I think he still believes
he can do it. I simply don`t. I think Santorum is going to go a lot
further.

The question is when will Gingrich see what everybody else is seeing?
And I don`t know that he ever does that.

O`DONNELL: Rick Tyler, you seem to be saying that it isn`t about
winning, that the Gingrich world has given up the idea that he can actually
win the nomination through the election process. And you`re just in the
business of getting delegates out of this proportional outcomes that you
can get in various states, and just seeing how many you end up with when
you go to Florida?

TYLER: No, the key to winning is getting the most delegates to vote
for you at the convention. That still remains operative. Look, Newt
Gingrich is behind -- 60 delegates behind Rick Santorum. He could wipe out
that difference in Mississippi and Alabama alone. There`s 150 delegates --

O`DONNELL: OK. But what if he doesn`t? Let`s just go to
Mississippi, where you are right now, OK? And it`s Gingrich`s
neighborhood. If Rick Santorum goes in to those southern states and beats
Newt Gingrich, is there any message Newt Gingrich can get from that to say,
you know what, I really am in the way; I should get out of the way so this
can be the conservative against the moderate flip-flopper Romney?

TYLER: Well, that would be up to Speaker Gingrich. As you know, I
would support Speaker Gingrich if he wants to go to the convention. I
would support whatever he wants to do. I believe we will win Alabama and
Mississippi, and we`ll have a new ball game.

I also believe this is what Newt Gingrich has said from the very
beginning, if, in fact, he believed that Romney or Rick Santorum could
actually beat Obama and change Washington, which neither of their records
reflect that they would be able to do that -- they would both accommodate
Washington -- then he would step aside.

He doesn`t see that in either of those candidates. And so why not
give the people in Rankin (ph) County, Mississippi, the chance to vote for
-- vote for another conservative?

O`DONNELL: Well, according to that formulation then, he`ll never stop
aside, because every poll shows President Obama beating every one of these
guys. Rick, come on. Come one. You can`t keep things going like this.

TYLER: Polls change.

O`DONNELL: I want to see the real one on one between the conservative
and the flip-flopper.

TYLER: You want to see Newt debate Obama.

O`DONNELL: We`re not going to see that.

(CROSS TALK)

O`DONNELL: All right, we`ll have to have you guys back after we have
these -- the votes next week. Eric Metaxas and Rick Tyler, thank you very
much for joining me tonight.

METAXAS: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up in tonight`s Rewrite, the Ohio exit poll
question and answer that you really have to see to believe.

And Fox News is lying tonight about a video of President Barack Obama
leading a student protest back in his days at Harvard Law School. One of
the president`s classmates will join me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Israel looks at President Obama
and they do not see a friend.

ROMNEY: That`s why people like myself believe that he threw Israel
under the bus.

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": Where as I, Mitt Romney, will gladly
retrieve Israel from under that bus and posthumously baptize it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, the exit poll question that even the
media doesn`t understand. Yesterday, Republican primary voters in Ohio
were asked, "how much does it matter to you that a candidate shares your
religious beliefs? One, a great deal; two, somewhat; three, not much; and
four, not at all."

Now, in Afghanistan, you could expect 100 percent of voters to choose
a great deal. In a country that has separation of church and state as a
founding ideal, you would hope that 100 percent of voters would chose not
at all.

Unfortunately, that is not the answer we got from Ohio Republican
voters last night. Only 18 percent of them got that one right; 18 percent
of them said it did not matter to them at all that a candidate shares their
religious beliefs.

That`s the American ideal.

Sadly, over 80 percent of Ohio Republican voters last night registered
varying disagrees of agreement with the Taliban on this one; 29 percent of
them said it matters a great deal to them that a candidate shares their
religious beliefs. Another 33 percent said it matters somewhat. Another
19 percent said not much. It doesn`t matter much.

That`s over 80 percent of Republican voters in Ohio saying that a
candidate sharing their religious beliefs matters to them to varying
degrees. Now if you find yourself thinking that the 19 percent who picked
not much aren`t very far from the American ideal, imagine if that question
had been, how much does it matter to you that a candidate shares your
racial identity?

What if, in that group of 96 percent white voters, 19 percent had said
not much, doesn`t matter to me much if the person isn`t the same race as I
am, not much? Some would say that not much is not good enough. Not a good
enough answer to that question.

The media doesn`t understand that the answers we got to this exit poll
question are utterly scandalous, that only 18 percent of Republican voters
in Ohio say they cast their votes without any religious prejudice at all,
only 18 percent. The media and exit poll analysts are only interested in
which candidates did these people vote for.

And so they`re willing to tell you that Mitt Romney lost badly among
the 29 percent who cared about the religion of the candidate the most. And
as you can see here, Mitt Romney won -- won among the candidates who say
they didn`t care at all about religious beliefs.

What you see there is a chart of American religious bigotry. There it
is. But there`s no headline today anywhere in America saying "Religious
Bigotry Rampant Among Ohio Republicans," because after decades of
politicization of religion, the media now considers it perfectly reasonable
for all candidates to have to discuss their religious beliefs in campaigns
and answer questions about them.

And all candidates in both parties now constantly traffic in religious
pandering.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A thoughtful
prayer life and one that genuinely is open and thoughtful, yes, you could
commune with God. Now, I don`t hear voices. But I do feel the spirit.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: My faith has been my anchor and my
guide. And I`m proud and unashamed to tell people that.

OBAMA: As a starting point, it means I believe in -- that Jesus
Christ died for my sins, and that I`m redeemed through him.

ROMNEY: I believe the Bible is the word of God, absolutely. And I
try -- I try to live by it as well as I can, but I miss in a lot of ways.

GINGRICH: How can you have judgment if you have no faith? And how
can I trust you with power if you don`t pray?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: No candidate for president has ever said what I would like
to hear a candidate for president say about religion. And so I had to
create a fictional candidate a few years ago to Rewrite the rules of
religious pandering.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I may be wrong, but I suspect our churches already
have enough political phonies in them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, do you or do you not --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t see how we can have a separation of church
and state in this government if you have to pass a religious test to get in
this government. I want to warn everyone in the press and all the voters
out there, if you demand expressions of religious faith from politicians,
you are just begging to be lied to.

They won`t all lie to you, but a lot of them will. And it will be the
easiest lie they ever had to tell to get your votes. So every day until
the end of this campaign, I`ll answer any question anyone has on
government. But if you have a question on religion, please, go to church.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: During his press conference yesterday, President Obama
said the reason he called Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke after Rush
Limbaugh called her a slut and a prostitute was because he never wanted his
daughters, 13-year-old Malia and 10-year-old Sasha, to fear the
consequences of publicly taking a stand on a controversial issue.

But he may have also been thinking of his days as a law student. Back
when Barack Obama was Sandra Fluke`s age, he too was a law student and he
too took a risky stance on a very public controversy. At the time in 1990,
the Harvard Law School had only three black tenured professors and five
women tenured professors.

The legendary Derrick Bell, Harvard`s first African American tenured
law professor, protested the lack of diversity by taking unpaid leave until
the university hired a woman of color. Presidents of the Harvard Law
Review, the student run law journal, were usually among the most cautious
students at the law school, grooming themselves even then for Senate
confirmation hearings for attorney general or the Supreme Court, speeding
away from controversy wherever it might erupt on campus.

But the Harvard Law Review never had a president quite like Barack
Obama. Knowing that prestigious law firms aren`t eager to hire leaders of
protests, Barack Obama took the risky step of siding with Professor Bell.
The media website Buzz Feed posted this video of the young Barack Obama
taking a stand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: And I remember that the black law students had organized an
orientation for the first year students. And one of the persons who spoke
at that orientation was Professor Bell. And I remember him sauntering up
to the front and not giving us a lecture, but engaging us in a
conversation, and speaking the truth.

Now, how did this one man do all this? How has he accomplished all
this? He hasn`t done it simply by his good looks and easy charm. Although
he has both in ample measure.

He hasn`t done it simply because of the excellence of his scholarship,
although his scholarship has opened up new vistas and new horizons, and
changed the standards in what legal writing is about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is one of the leaders of the student
protest at Harvard Law School in 1990, Keith Boykin. Keith, when we hear
that sound, as that camera is panning toward Barack Obama, we hear that
voice, it could have been him speaking somewhere yesterday.

You -- you were one of the few among us who heard him then, who hear
him now. Could you see in that Barack Obama standing there with the
microphone that day the kind of thing that might be in his future?

KEITH BOYKIN, EDITOR, "THE DAILY VOICE": I had no idea at that time,
actually. We were in the midst of creating a movement for diversity on
campus. And we invited Barack to speak because he was the first African-
American president of the Harvard Law Review.

His mere presence was enough to illustrate the importance of
diversity. But he got up there and gave a wonderful speech. He spoke
about Derrick Bell. He didn`t speak so much about the issue of diversity.
He spoke about Derrick Bell.

And the idea that somehow people are trying to vilify him today is
just astounding.

O`DONNELL: Well, this is the Fox News -- this is the business Fox
News is in. They have decided suddenly that Derrick Bell is one of the
great American radicals and dangers to society. And tenured Harvard law
faculty have always been among the most threatening and frightening people
among us.

I mean, I -- people like -- I remember him around the campus. People
like him are thought provokers. They push ways of thinking about different
things. Tell us about Derrick Bell.

BOYKIN: Well, you know, if you look at that rally, most of the people
who were there were not black. It`s a reflection of how popular Derrick
Bell was as a professor at the law school, among blacks, whites, Latinos,
Asians, everyone.

O`DONNELL: And beyond the law school.

BOYKIN: And beyond the law school as well. He had a critical impact
on critical race theory. He was one of the fathers of this legal
scholarship. He was a mentor to me and many others.

I spoke at his funeral services -- memorial service last fall. And it
was just amazing that hundreds of people showed up at the Riverside Church
in Harlem to come out and show their support for him. Jesse Norman sang.
Gloria Steinem spoke. You know, the president of NYU came out and spoke.

It was a reflection of just the type of person he is. And the idea
that Barack Obama would come and embrace him and show his support for him -
- there`s nothing controversial about that at all. Nor is it even news. I
actually saw this videotape four years ago, when a producer from a
different network showed it to me and asked me what I thought about it.

I said, well, there`s nothing to it. It`s just Barack Obama
expressing his support for a professor at the law school.

O`DONNELL: Yes, PBS used it in 2008. PBS has had the footage since
1990. And so it`s -- Fox is trying to pretend like this was hidden in some
dark secret about the president`s past affiliations. It seems to me it`s
pretty impossible to get in trouble by an association with a member of the
Harvard Law School faculty.

BOYKIN: Yeah.

O`DONNELL: That has never happened before in our history.

BOYKIN: The whole idea that somehow Barack Obama or others would want
to hide this -- why would anyone want to hide this speech, which shows him
A, speaking without a teleprompter, B, speaking so eloquently, and C,
speaking about an issue that almost most agree with.

O`DONNELL: It wouldn`t be normally easy to get the president of the
Harvard Law Review to show up at any form of protest. Talk about that.

BOYKIN: Well, it was an act of courage I think on Barack`s part to be
able to come and speak. He had not participated in some of the rallies we
participated in. We had sit-ins and demonstrations. He didn`t do all
that.

But he came and he stuck his neck out at a time of critical
importance, when Professor Bell was about to leave. That was, to me, I
think an act of I think not just courage, but an act of integrity that I
respect about him.

O`DONNELL: I think we all see in that video now what the future had
for him. You can just really see it.

Keith Boykin, thank you very much for joining me tonight. Really
appreciate you coming in.

You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog, TheLastWord@MSNBC.com.
You can follow all of my Tweets @Lawrence.

"THE ED SHOW" is up next.

END

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2012 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>




Watch The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET


Sponsored links

Resource guide