'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, March 8, 2012
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
Guests: Chris Hayes, Alex Wagner, Wurzelbacher, Marcy Kaptur, Nicole Wallace, Jay Roach, John
Heilemann, Jason Russell
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: More Republicans are trying to push Newt
Gingrich out of the race. And Joe the Plumber is in the race for the House
of Representatives. He will join me, as will his opponent, Congresswoman
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Since I took office,
America`s dependence on foreign oil has gone down every single year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House is relying on a new mini
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seventeen minutes of a mini documentary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To highlight the administration`s accomplishments.
NARRATOR: His advisors would ask where to begin, which urgent need
would he put first.
DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA ADVISOR: The president has a fundamental vision
about how to move this country forward.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: They certainly feel a little bit beaten
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama seems to
believe he is on check by the Constitution.
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He wants everybody in
America to go to college. What a snob.
AXELROD: We`re going to run a positive campaign about the future of
ROMNEY: This president ran out of ideas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s not a really good speaker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that Mitt Romney struggles to go far
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: John McCain lost 19 states on the way to the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His numbers among independents are going down.
TODD: Is the McCain example really one the Romney people want to be
WAGNER: We have a way of forgetting about the last two or three
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Sarah Palin of the great state of
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: So, how do you like the idea that Julian
Moore will be playing you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are calling it a work of historical fiction.
You stand by the film and make it accurate and truthful.
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: You know they say the
difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?
JULIANNE MOORE, ACTRESS: You know they say the difference between a
hockey mom and a pit bull. Lipstick.
HANNITY: She doesn`t really look -- I mean, she is a good actress.
MOORE: This is Sarah.
PALIN: I think I`ll just grit my teeth and bear whatever comes what
may with that movie.
O`DONNELL: The pressure is building on Newt Gingrich to dropout of
the race for the nomination. Conservative leader Gary Bauer who was the
most extreme right winger in the Republican primary field in 2000 says that
a poll of 200,000 conservative activists shows that the vast majority of
Republicans want the party to unite behind one candidate, and that
candidate is Rick Santorum.
"Having run myself, I know how difficult it can be when you are in the
arena and asked to step aside. The Super Tuesday results made it clear
that there is a strong conservative majority in the GOP primaries, but that
vote is divided."
Rick Santorum in Alabama is asking voters to knock Newt Gingrich out
of the race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTORUM: If you go out and deliver a conservative victory for us on
Tuesday, this race will become a two-person race, and when it becomes a
two-person race for the Republican nomination, the conservative will win
that nomination. And when a conservative wins the nomination, we will
defeat Barack Obama in the general election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: A poll of likely Alabama primary voters conducted before
Super Tuesday and not including Ron Paul shows Rick Santorum leading in
Alabama with 23 percent, four points ahead of Mitt Romney`s 19 percent and
Newt Gingrich is third with 14 percent.
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."
And the latest nonevent in campaign news is that the governor --
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Don`t oversell it.
O`DONNELL: -- the Republican governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, I
just found out what his name was now, is endorsing Willard M. Romney. So,
you know, pack in one more establishment endorsement and that ought to put
him over the top.
WAGNER: No way. No way. I think it calls for Rick Santorum to get
out are ludicrous. I mean --
O`DONNELL: The calls for Gingrich to get out?
WAGNER: I think the calls for Gingrich to get out and I think the
calls for --
O`DONNELL: Who is calling for Santorum to get out? That`s right.
WAGNER: And Romney is calling for Santorum to get out.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s right.
WAGNER: They are making a case it`s all about Mitt Romney. If you
are Newt Gingrich --
O`DONNELL: Ron Paul is the only one who is happy with everybody just
staying where they are.
WAGNER: Ron Paul will --
WAGNER: -- may not ever stop running.
But, look, I mean, why not let this thing play out. If you are a
conservative voter and you are not particularly happy, I think an argument
could be made that Mitt Romney is kind of getting -- kind of, emphasis on
kind of -- getting to be a better candidate as the time goes on.
Now, they`re certainly going to go back to the lab and rewire some
software programming in the Mitt Romney bot, but I think he could come out
at the end of the next two weeks as a stronger candidate. That is good for
As far as Rick Santorum -- no way is he getting out.
And Newt Gingrich -- this is all about ego. This is all about how
much money he can call for when he becomes a historian once again when he
goes back to Washington, D.C.
O`DONNELL: All right. Before we hear from expert conservative
political strategist Chris Hayes, we`re going to hear from Rush Limbaugh
who seems now to be leaning towards Santorum on the -- who should stay in,
who should get out. Let`s listen to what Rush said today about Santorum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Obviously, the American people
want a leader they can trust and who will carry their message -- fear and
anger, whatever, all the way to November. Now, if you watch the debates,
it`s pretty clear that Santorum appears to know Romneycare pretty well. He
understands its intricacies. And he`s out telling people that Romneycare
is a liability.
And if Romney doesn`t find a way to deal with it to the satisfaction
of Republican conservatives, he`s going to take body blows all the way to
the nomination, convention, what-have-you.
What Santorum is learning is that he`s got a theme now, a simple --
all these got to do -- not a multifaceted message, but just one or two
things. And one of them is freedom and Obamacare. And it`s resonating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And Santorum also seems to have discovered something we
reported on the show. That Romney has been lying about never having been
in favor of a federal individual mandate in health care. He was, we`ve got
the videotape. Santorum seems to be on to that.
HAYES: Yes. I think that Santorum has been attacking consistently
Romneycare for the duration. I think -- can I say one thing about this
Rush Limbaugh quote? When I was reading the verbatim, he said -- who will
carry the message, fear, anger all the way to November.
That`s what he was saying the Republican message is. He is saying
they need someone to carry -- Rush Limbaugh just said, they need someone to
carry the message of fear and anger. And I think that`s remarkable apt,
that`s actually exactly on message and it gets to the problem that Romney
has, which is that he is incapable of connecting viscerally with the
message of fear and anger that Rush Limbaugh and the conservative base are
feeling in their bones and they want to see reflected in their candidate.
And when you look at how angry Rick Santorum gets, not just when he
talks about Barack Obama, but when he talks about Romney or Satan or birth
control -- that`s a guy who can reflect fear and anger.
WAGNER: Can I say something, though, because I actually don`t agree
that Rick Romney has been hitting Mitt Romney that hard on this. I mean, I
think in the last five days , people unearthed the footage from a program
called "Meet the Press" and a channel called ABC, and another called CBS,
and finally, it`s like, you know, there have been numerous articles written
about this. Romney was basically going to get a free pass on something
that is an anathema to the Republican Party at this point, which is
supporting the bones of Obamacare in his own home state.
HAYES: Yes. And the fact of the matter is any time he`s forced to
explain it, it just comes out as preposterous because he doesn`t have an
O`DONNELL: He`s had a very simple technique, which is to lie and to
say, oh, I wasn`t in favor of it anywhere outside of Massachusetts.
You know, your point about Rush coming out with the, it`s about fear
and anger -- Joe Biden said something today. He said, I`ve never seen a
time in my lifetime when Republicans haven`t tried to hide the ball, which
is what you`d expect them to do. When they said they were compassionate
conservatives, we care about health care, we must preserve Medicare, et
cetera, they are not hiding the ball anymore at all. This is going to be
the starkest choice the American public will make in a long time.
And, Alex, I have been rooting for the Santorum candidacy because I
want to see a stark choice. I want to see hardcore Republican conservatism
on a debate stage against President Obama.
But is Santorum and this process pushing Romney into adopting hard
core conservative positions anyway so he will kind of have to deal with
them if he is on the debate.
WAGNER: Yes. This is the shifting of the magnetic polls. Romney has
said he`s going to veto the DREAM Act. He has not stood up against the
misogynistic hatred being spewed by Rush Limbaugh because he`s afraid of
alienating the social conservatives that Rick Santorum presumably has
I mean, his fiscal policy is almost draconian, not to mention that it
would increase the budget by several billions of dollars or trillions,
depending on how you`re counting. Absolutely, this is having an effect on
the Romney candidacy.
Their bet is that he is going to get to the general and he`s going to
be able to pivot and everyone is going to forget about that. I don`t know
if that`s true. I have more faith that it`s not.
O`DONNELL: You know, Romney has famously avoided taking a shot at
Rush Limbaugh when it was really easy to do. He hasn`t gotten gratitude
from Rush on his show.
Let`s listen to Limbaugh talking about what happens to the Republican
nominee if this process continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: The longer this goes on, the longer Obama can`t attack our
nominee because we don`t have one. When you`ve heard him salivating over
what they`ve got waiting for Romney. The longer Obama is delayed along his
sycophants in the media from attacking our nominee, the better.
And I also happen to agree with the notion that the longer this thing
goes on and the longer it takes for the realization to sink in that
conservatism is what will be the deciding factor whether we win or lose.
That`s good too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Conservatism is the deciding factor is not an argument for
HAYES: No, not at all. I think what`s fascinating, it`s interesting
to see Rush to spin this, that this is good for the party to go on. And I
think a lot of people have been trying to sort of think about this in the
terms of 2008. And there was a lot of worrying and concern that the
Democratic side that duration of the primary was weakening the party.
But I think it`s really important to zero in on two different kinds of
indecision you can have. Someone can offer you two amazing meals and you
can`t choose between them because they are both so delicious, or they can
offer you two piles of dog food, neither of which you want to chow down on.
And it looks to the outsider who is not seeing what the meals are
identical, right? It`s decision, they cannot choose.
But we are clearly --
WAGNER: Like dog foot and cat food.
HAYES: Right. Exactly. We are dealing with that dog food/cat food
situation here in which there is -- I think there`s an institutional
identity crisis in the Republican Party and it`s very unclear that that is
going to produce a strong outcome.
O`DONNELL: Now, as long as the Republicans keep fighting, the Obama
campaign is allowed to do purely positive presentations of the president.
There is a film -- campaign film coming out narrative by Tom Hanks. Let`s
take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM HANKS, NARRATOR (voice-over): How do we understand this president
and his time in office? Do we look at the day`s headlines or do we
remember what we as a country have been through?
DAVID AXELROD: What was described in that meeting was an economic
crisis beyond anything anybody had imagined.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our time of standing
pat and protecting narrow interest and putting off unpleasant decisions,
that time has surely passed.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Entire national
security apparatus was in that room and now we had to make a decision -- go
or not go.
As he walked out of the room, it started to dawn on me, he`s all
alone. This is his decision. Nobody is standing there with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: If it feels like Academy Award stuff, it is. David
Guggenheim, the Academy Award-winning director put that together.
But, listen, that`s what you get to do if Republicans are screaming
and yelling at each other.
HAYES: Yes. Well, and also, it`s -- you know as well, the film is an
incredibly powerful media. It`s amazing how powerful.
O`DONNELL: A little music helps.
HAYES: A little music, you know?
O`DONNELL: Little Tom Hanks.
HAYES: And the soft lighting, the Tom Hanks narration. I mean, all
of it really --
WAGNER: And it`s not just that. "The New York Times" has a cover
story talking about the sort of back cave of digital and social networking
analysis that team Obama is doing, Facebook logs, behavioral patterns. I
mean, I`m sure some of this is a violation of privacy.
O`DONNELL: There is nothing false there. This is the real drama that
HAYES: And I do think -- I mean, I think that one of the challenges
they faced throughout the duration for his term is the fact that it sounds
at a certain point tin-eared to keep talking about how bad things were and
could have been, but it is the fact of the matter, right? I mean, the
strongest thing they did in terms of the emergency management of the
country at a moment of tremendous peril was to avoid the worst possible
eventuality. And I think that`s clearly something that is a difficult
thing to sell, but they are finding ways to sell that.
O`DONNELL: Well, the vocabulary of documentary allows you to do that
because it`s always past tense. It`s always telling -- it takes you inside
WAGNER: And it takes on an angelic tone especially with Tom Hanks and
the music and Guggenheim --
HAYES: It`s much easier to make that case when it looks like things
are better now. I mean, that has been the condition -- the underlying
condition that`s been hard for them to make in the economic case. The
counter-factuals are always been there, but the actual you are better off
now, you know people who are reentering the labor force, the unemployment
is coming down, GDP growth is restored, that`s been the harder thing to do.
And now that that`s there, then you can go back and sort of hammer home
more on that counter-factual.
O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner of "NOW" and Chris Hayes of "UP" -- thank you
both for joining me tonight.
WAGNER: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Joe the plumber is running for the House seat
of Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. They will both join me next.
And later, the new HBO movie "Game Change" reveals that the woman who
took over Sarah Palin`s campaign for vice president decided in the end that
she could not vote for her own candidate. Nicolle Wallace joins me.
And the man who made Kony 2012, the documentary seen by more people on
YouTube than the highest rated American television shows -- Jason Russell
will be my guest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERMAN CAIN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I need your help to
get them to adopt the 9-9-9 plan. I`m happy that one of the people that`s
running for the United States Congress in the state of Ohio in a very
challenging district has adopted 9-9-9 and I am endorsing his candidacy is
my friend, Joe the plumber. Stand up, Joe!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joe the Plumber, Herman Cain`s man in Ohio is one step
closer to the United States Congress. This week, Joe the Plumber, known on
the ballot as Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, won the Republican primary for the
House seat representing Ohio`s ninth congressional district. On Tuesday,
he will challenge incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, who beat
Congressman Dennis Kucinich in a Democratic primary on Tuesday, the
Democratic incumbents found themselves running against each in a Democratic
primary after redistricting eliminated Congressman Kucinich`s district.
Joining me now is Samuel Joe Wurzelbacher, the Republican nominee for
U.S. Congress in Ohio`s ninth district.
Welcome back to the show, Joe. How does it feel to be a nominee?
SAMUEL WURZELBACHER, JOE THE PLUMBER: Hey, thanks for having me, Mr.
O`Donnell: I appreciate it. I think it`s an honor. I really do.
O`DONNELL: Now, you got the Herman Cain endorsement, which must have
helped pushed you over the top there. You`ve endorsed his 9-9-9 plan.
How do you think the 9-9-9 plan will work for your constituents?
WURZELBACHER: You know, I think it will work out great for my
constituents, but the real focus here is just to get people excited about
actually doing comprehensive tax reform. Ultimately, what it comes down to
and Mr. Herman Cain is well aware of this, is we got to get the people
excited here in America and obviously within the state of Ohio, in the
ninth district where I`m running, to force the issue.
You know, representatives could come out all day long with good ideas,
but we really need the American people to get behind it so we can force the
issue and then, is it going to be the 9-9-9 plan? Is it going to be the
fair taxes? Is it going to be the flat tax?
You know, the bottom line: we need tax reform in this country and we
got to get the people behind it and make that happen.
O`DONNELL: Well, Joe, when you run the math on the 9-9-9 plan and the
Ohio ninth where the average family income is $43,000 a year, it actually
works out to a large increase for taxpayers like that because you got a 9
percent sales tax that they suddenly have to pay that they didn`t have to
pay before, a federal sales tax. You`ve got increase in income taxes
actually because if their level, their income taxes are very low.
And so, if you run the math on this, Joe, and see this impact is
actually not what you thought, you also completely defund the Social
Security trust funds and the Medicare trust funds because it eliminates all
the funding that goes into Social Security and Medicare, that`s going to
hurt those programs. If you run all that math, and discover it doesn`t
work, will you abandon the 9-9-9 plan?
WURZELBACHER: Mr. O`Donnell, it sounds like a little bit of fear-
O`DONNELL: No, it`s serious. Joe, I used to work on the tax
committee in the Senate. These things are serious. Now, it`s serious.
You`re the nominee.
WURZELBACHER: Mr. O`Donnell, what it comes down to is getting tax
reform going further. You said yourself last time when I was on here the
tax code we have is very ridiculously intrusive and highly complicated.
WURZELBACHER: And I talked about your experts and their experts.
Bottom line: we need the tax reform and we can sit here and tear each other
back and forth down all day, but without actually talking about where the
issues are. We want the key to prosperity in this country is tax reform
and not tax subsidies, not incentives. We got to stop band aiding the
problem and actually make real headway into solving the problems.
And that`s why I`m running for Congress because tax reform and the
regulations brought the American economy down to its knees while the
government did nothing.
O`DONNELL: Well, Joe, Herman Cain never made it to the nominee stage.
You have. I think you`re going to find, well, we can move on from it now.
But I think you`re going to find the details of 9-9-9 are going to be very,
very difficult for to you deal with. You`ve got to do some home work on
it, and run the math and see how it works out for making people $43,000.
For rich people, Joe, for really rich people, Joe, 9-9-9 is fantastic.
I don`t think that`s what you are running to represent there.
I want to move to Grover Norquist`s pledge to never raise taxes in any
form. You have signed that pledge. Are you aware that there Republicans
now in the House who are abandoning that pledge, saying that it`s
absolutely absurd and ridiculous in the current economic climate?
WURZELBACHER: Well, that`s unfortunate that Republican who is signed
the pledge and said this is my conviction and I`m going to stick to this
and make the federal government work for the American people, it`s
unfortunate that their words are smoke in the mirror or smoke in the wind.
You know, we cannot abandon or we cannot raise taxes, Mr. O`Donnell,
because quite frankly, that just give the federal government more latitude
to be more intrusive in the private market.
We got to make a stand. We got to make it stand now. Otherwise,
federal governments is going to run all over the American people, and it
doesn`t matter if you are Republican or Democrat, union, non-union. It`s
going to kill the economy and we can`t have it.
O`DONNELL: So, Joe, like Grover Norquist, you are opposed to closing
any of the giant corporate tax loopholes in the tax code or any of the
personal income tax loopholes because that`s what the pledge does. And
that`s why other Republicans say it`s ridiculous.
WURZELBACHER: No, no, Mr. O`Donnell. I`m tax reform. That`s what
I`m running on. The tax code we have now is ridiculous and we need to get
rid of it, because both Republican Party and Democrat Party have carved out
loopholes for their buddies, for their friends. They feed individuals and
they feed groups.
But the rest of the Americans are not getting represented with the tax
code that we have. So, the whole reason I`m running is because of
politicians and their promises are worth, you know, pretty much what you
wipe on cotton tail when you`re done with the bathroom. Their promises are
We need to actually get people from -- have to work all day. I mean,
look at my hands, Mr. O`Donnell. These are callused hands because I work
for a living. You know, I got to get results every day otherwise my family
does not get fed.
These politicians don`t have to get results because we have not held
them accountable for so long. We got to make a stand as Americans, we got
to make it now. I`m going to do it.
O`DONNELL: Joe, quickly before we go, the auto bailout, auto
industry, very big employer in the Ohio ninth. General Motors, Chrysler is
there. Chrysler announced they`re going to add 1,100 jobs. This is all
thanks to the auto bailout.
You are opposed to the auto bailout. How can you run in the Ohio
ninth opposed to the auto bailout that saved the American auto industry and
allowed General Motors to announce this year that it`s back at number one?
WURZELBACHER: Yes, I`m glad you asked that because the federal
government that bailed out the industry is the very federal government that
brought about the downfall of the automobile industry, Mr. O`Donnell.
That`s why we need tax reform and getting rid of the regulation.
If the federal government gets out of the private market, this never
would have happened. That`s why it`s important for the federal government
to get out of the private market, let the economy be driven by the
consumers. That would be me and you. Federal government involved in the
private markets is just a no win situation for America.
O`DONNELL: Joe the plumber, Samuel Joe Wurzelbacher -- thank you very
much for joining me tonight, Joe.
WURZELBACHER: Thanks, Mr. O`Donnell.
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, who is
running for her 16th term in the United States Congress representing the
ninth district in Ohio.
Congresswoman Kaptur, I don`t think you expected to be running against
Joe the Plumber, but here you are. He opposed the auto bailout which is
something I can`t imagine them trying to go forward in that district after
opposing the auto bailout.
REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D), OHIO: You know, I can`t believe it myself. Of
course, he doesn`t live in the district and perhaps doesn`t really
understand what comprises the district. For the first time, the automotive
industry is hiring people off the street. Chrysler, G.M. and Ford, who
would have thought a couple of years ago before the efforts of President
Obama and the Democrats in Congress that provided the majority of votes to
push it over the finish line that General Motors would leave global auto
companies in sales.
If you come to the ninth district, you`ll see freight trains full of
steel coils, 90 percent of which are rolling through our region because
they`re headed to automotive plants, in order to be finished into parts for
You see unemployment going down in Ohio and people going back to work
at middle class jobs. That`s something I fight for any day. And I am
proud to represent these great companies and the very hardworking citizens
who work in them.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it seems to me that the two big issues starting off
in this campaign are the Democrats saving and this Democratic president
saving the automobile industry opposed by Republicans and opposed by your
opponent, Joe Wurzelbacher.
And now, Joe`s embrace of 9-9-9 -- a plan that has been abandoned in
the Republican presidential campaign, a plan that whenever you run the math
on it, it hurts anyone but the super rich and has a complexity level that I
don`t think Joe quite realizes.
What would you say to constituents in Toledo about how 9-9-9 would
KAPTUR: Well, first of all, I think 9-9-9 would not encourage
investment in the USA, but out sourcing. We have to have a tax code that
invests in the USA so we can make goods in America, grow goods in America,
and ship them elsewhere.
I think that the bill that the proposal that you are talking about
would increase taxes on the middle class. We have been trying to relieve
that tax burden and also on the working class and poor. So, I think that`s
where we need to increase consumer spending.
Every business that I go into says, Marcy, bring me customers. They
need people who are earning money and who can buy goods to help move this
So, I think what he`s talking about is a further damper on job
creation and on consumer spending. And we need to relieve the burden on
working people in order that they can reassume a middle class way of life
And you`re not going to do that by increasing the tax burden on them
or taking away the Social Security and the Medicare or their pensions.
O`DONNELL: Yes, we discovered with Herman Cain that as soon as you
asked two questions in the row about 9-9-9, he would say, well, I don`t
know, we haven`t thought about that implication of it, because when you try
to go to this thing that Joe and Herman Cain think is simplification, your
only goal is make it sound simpler. And they don`t realize all of the
complexities they are introducing into it.
It just shocks me that a candidate would take a discredited loser
candidate`s idea from a presidential campaign and throw it into a
congressional campaign where -- I just don`t see how he`s going to be able
to defend it.
KAPTUR: I`m surprised he brought him to our area. Actually, he
didn`t, another Republican member of Congress brought him to our area for a
big dinner and he happened to attend that event. So -- and that candidate
did not make it through and had quite a few issues surrounding his
candidacy. So, I think there is some explaining to be done there by Mr.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, you suddenly have one of the
most fascinating congressional races in the country. Thank you very much
for joining us tonight.
KAPTUR: Thank you. We welcome everyone to northern Ohio, Cleveland,
Loraine, Sandusky, Port Clinton and Toledo.
O`DONNELL: We will be coming out to visit. Thank you very much.
Coming up, the woman who prepped Sarah Palin for all of the big
moments of her vice presidential campaign will explain why, in the end,
even she could not bring herself to vote for her own candidate.
Later, the story behind that viral video that has been flooding
Twitter this week. The man who made "Kony 2012" will join me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you interviewed her, didn`t you ask her
about national security, foreign policy, domestic policy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought the (INAUDIBLE) would cover that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what did you ask her?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just -- we talked about if she would back John`s
positions when they conflicted with hers or if she was prepared for her
life to change. There were no policy questions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You guys didn`t grill her because you wanted it
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wasn`t in charge of the vet, Nicole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s a scene from HBO`s "Game Change," the screen
adaptation of the book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, which premiers
Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. on HBO.
Joining me now, the Emmy-winning director of "Game Change," Jay Roach,
one of the authors of the book that inspired the movie, John Heilemann, and
senior adviser for the McCain-Palin campaign, Nicole Wallace.
Nicole, we just saw Sarah Paulson playing you in that scene. I just
want to run non-stop Nicole scenes from this movie. It`s the most amazing
back stage story of what the Palin campaign really was.
There was a scene of you confronting her on the phone after the Katie
Couric interview. She wants to blame the press and Katie Couric for that
going badly. And you say -- you tell here ,no, no, no, it was your fault.
You didn`t do the homework.
NICOLE WALLACE, FORMER MCCAIN CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: I think that
there is --there`s no guts and glory at the staff level to take away from
this. What I think it is is a much bigger story about where politics
really transpires. That is in this murky gray area.
So much of I know what you have to reduce for your one-hour program is
what happened that day and the back and forth and who is up and who is
down. But the truth is the vast majority of campaigns on the Democratic
side and the Republican side take place in that sort of murky gray area
where everyone is making compromises and everyone is doing their best.
And the best thing to me about the film is it sort of restores any
lost luster on Senator John McCain`s part, in that shows him doing exactly
what Obama set out to do in his selection. He was trying to win an
O`DONNELL: Jay, you and Danny Strong re-teamed. You guys did
"Recount" for HBO, a brilliant movie. And Danny actually I guess did some
digging beyond that giant volume that John Heilemann handed him, the "Game
Change" book, and found material that we don`t see in the book.
What was it like to try to find the characters that you wanted to lean
on? I mean, Nicole can say that there are some large lessons about
politics in here. But what makes this work are these very, very strong
interpersonal dramas and these particular characters, the frictions and the
problems they ran into.
What made you zero in on Nicole and Steve Schmidt?
JAY ROACH, DIRECTOR, "GAME CHANGE": Well, I saw that interview Steve
did on "60 Minute" when is John and Mark`s book came out. And I heard the
man who was largely responsible for finding her and convincing John McCain
to put her on the ticket say I sort of wish I could go back and do it all
And for a person who was clearly one of those strong, you know, almost
coach-like campaign strategists, managers like that, to say something to --
like that in public, that`s incredible. I myself wanted to know what went
into that decision, how it worked that they had to rush the vet so much,
how it felt when she actually did deliver those great speeches and then how
it felt when it sort of started getting a lot more complex.
So for me, it was about those rooms -- and I like the way Nicole just
described the gray area when it`s not clear what`s the best way through
something. And that`s -- that -- that got to what I was really interested
O`DONNELL: John, the book is entitled "Game Change." The movie is
entitled "Game Change." But Sarah Palin was clearly the single biggest
attempt at a game changer in the two years of that presidential campaign.
As you watch the movie, you are reminded at what high speed this drama
She was selected with one minute to midnight to go before they had to
have a VP nominee in place. She is thrown out on a stage. She`s suddenly
making a convention speech days after learning she was going to be the
In the way this unfolds in the movie and the extra material that Danny
Strong, the screen writer, found for this movie, did you feel any sense of
JOHN HEILEMANN, AUTHOR, "GAME CHANGE": No. It`s funny. In a lot of
ways, there is -- so much of what went on -- Lawrence, you are right. The
-- in fact, in reality, some of the things that the film has to move things
a little bit and get a little more space between certain things than they
were in reality. One of the places where that had to happen was with where
her foreign policy tutoring took place.
I mean, a lot of the stuff that happened with her foreign policy
tutoring actually took place in St. Paul, though she was tutored
throughout. There was an early session that took place while she was in
that same hotel suite where she was being outfitted with new clothes, where
she was being prepared for her first media interviews, where she was being
prepared for her convention speech.
As Nicole will recall, that suite, as crazier as it looks in the
movie, it was even crazier in reality. There was a way in which the movie
couldn`t possibly try to represent it because no one would have believed
But the book -- we tried to do that in the book. There were a few
things, as you point out, that Danny unearthed. One of them that you can
ask Nicole about was the fact that she didn`t vote in the election. That
was a new thing to us. That surprised me.
There were a couple of things that -- elements where she -- areas
where she had substantive holes, lacks -- deficiencies that added to the
record that we built in the -- in the book.
But most of all what surprised me was how just incredibly richly
rendered these actors were able to -- I mean, you put words on the page,
you can do the best you can in a book. But in truth, when you see it on
screen, with actors of this quality, it gives it a humanity and a nuance
and fullness that I think is much more riveting and visceral than anything
you can get on the page.
I think that`s the main thing that struck me now, having seen the film
three or four times.
O`DONNELL: OK, let`s hold it there. When we come back, we will hear
from Nicole Wallace about her decision not to vote for Sarah Palin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIANNE MOORE, ACTRESS: I love those hockey moms. You know what
they say, the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just came up with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Julianne Moore has the Emmy locked up for this one.
Danny, I think, is going to get nominated. Jay is going to get nominated
again for this. And Nicole, to the point that John just raised, which we
discover in this film -- it`s not in the book -- that on election day,
after spending all this time trying to prepare Sarah Palin to become the
vice president of the United States, you found yourself unable -- unable to
cast the vote for the candidates you had been working for, and you just
decided not to vote.
I have never heard of that happening with any campaign operative I
have ever known. Extraordinary.
WALLACE: It might not have ended up in an HBO film, but I`m sure it`s
O`DONNELL: It is one of the great and dramatic and climactic moments
of the movie.
WALLACE: Well, my dad`s watching this. And I -- look, it wasn`t
something I talked about too much. But it certainly came out in the years
that passed after the campaign.
But to go back to the movie, what is so extraordinary and what was so
emotional for those of us who saw it last night in New York was reliving
the whole roller coaster. Because what`s endured is the hostility and the
tension that came about as the campaign ended.
But what was -- what`s forgotten by a lot of us was the intense
protective -- I never rooted for somebody with all of my being as much as I
rooted for her and that family when the selection was made, because it was
so apparent that they were completely flabbergasted by the intensity of the
John Heilemann`s cameo is one of those scenes where the press is just
hounding the campaign with these questions that we never thought we would
encounter and that we surely wouldn`t have encountered, I believe, with a
male candidate. Questions about her pregnancy, questions about her
motherhood, questions about how she could possibly be governor and vice
president and a mother of five.
So it brings back a period that we never talk about anymore, because
it`s been so eclipsed by -- by all the melodramas. But what was real was
that she really was -- what she tapped into was a real belief. And the
film does such justice to this, that she was like anyone else. That is so
rare in our politics.
I think that`s what the film elevates and let`s us kind of linger in
that space for a while.
O`DONNELL: You are very charitably avoiding the areas in this movie
that led you to the conclusion that you could not vote for her. And that
story alone, the Nicole and Sarah story and why you can`t vote for her is a
story that, in and of itself, is worth watching to get through this movie.
It is extraordinary. Jay Roach, John Heilemann, Nicole Wallace, thank
you all very much for joining me tonight.
Coming up, the man who made Kony 2012, a shocking film that`s gone
viral this week and has now been seen by 39 million people. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We worry. The rebels when they rape us again,
then they -- they will kill us. My brother tried to escape. Then they
killed him using a panga. They cut his neck.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We may meet in heaven. You see. So it is better.
I will not talk much. It will start something. Because if I saw my
brother once again, I don`t --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Since it was posted on Monday, almost 39 million people
have now watched that short film, "Kony 2012," on Youtube. The video was
created by the organization Invisible Children, to bring attention to
atrocities committed in central Africa over the past 30 years by a small
army of religious zealots called the Lords Resistance Army.
Invisible Children has raised millions of dollars using social media
and film in the U.S. to support charities for schools and education.
Joining me now is Jason Russell, director of "Kony 2012," one of the
founders of Invisible Children. Jason, thank you very much for joining me
I have to tell you a story that Kiana Burns (ph), one of our
producers, told me this morning about she was taking the B Train down here
from Harlem. And the conductor of the train announced over the loudspeaker
of the train system -- he said if you don`t know about "Kony 2012," you
need to. Everyone on a crowded Manhattan subway pulled out their smart
phones and started finding you.
JASON RUSSELL, CO-FOUNDER INVISIBLE CHILDREN: Oh, my gosh.
O`DONNELL: Did you ever expect that you could get to this level of
RUSSELL: It`s been so unprecedented. We have been slammed. And we
have been so excited because the world, not just the United States, the
world is waking up to their potential. They are realizing that we are
transcending politics. We are transcending borders and saying, we are
human beings and we are going to protect each other, no matter what.
So we are so excited about this film. It is the movie that gets you
into what we are actually going to do, to bring Kony to justice this year,
O`DONNELL: Tell us about this man, Kony, and what your hope is in
terms of how he would be apprehended.
RUSSELL: Kony is like the Joker in Batman. He just wants -- he wants
to watch the world burn. He has been abducting children for the past 26
years. It`s the longest running war in Africa. Over 30,000 children have
been abducted. And now it`s down to just 200 approximately rebel fighters.
And so the goal is now that we in the world need to say, Kony, you
need to surrender. You need to surrender now. This is the time.
We would love for this to end peacefully. We don`t really want the
military to drop bombs or -- or shoot him. We would rather have him alive
and in International Criminal Court to face justice. That`s the dream.
That`s the vision, for all the world to see what it looks like when a man
stops getting away with murder.
O`DONNELL: Now President Obama has sent American military in there,
sent 100 in there to help find this man.
O`DONNELL: Part of what you want to do is make sure that Congress and
Washington and the president keep their attention on this. You have the
worry that it`s possible, if this is obscure enough, then at a certain
point, they will just pull those 100 out and give up.
RUSSELL: Exactly. And that`s the intention of the whole film, was
make his name known, make him famous. And that`s the representation of the
shirt, is that the bill that was passed, you know, all Republicans and all
Democrats agreed on this, which as you know in this world, that`s seemingly
impossible. But it`s true.
On both sides of the spectrum, from the most extreme conservatives to
liberals, said this is the one thing we can all agree on. And if that`s
true, we are having people in South Korea and all throughout South America,
Australia, the United Kingdom, this is what they want as well.
So it`s not just about America. It is the world. It is actually the
world waking up to the potential. And all world leaders and the United
Nations should respond.
This is the responsibility to protect the most innocent children, the
most invisible children. The way we can do that is by bringing Kony to
O`DONNELL: Jason, the film is about a half hour long. I can`t tell
you how many people have e-mailed it to me, how many people on my Twitter
page keep linking to it. It just keeps flying by everywhere I look on the
This is also, I imagine, helping you with fund-raising?
RUSSELL: It has been, but that`s not our intention. It`s not about
the money. Actually, our CEO and a couple of others said, hey, we have to
have a fund raising component to this so that we can garner some money. I
said no, that`s not the intention of what we are doing.
It`s not about the money. It`s about the awareness. That`s it. We
have maxed out our limit. The store is now closed because we don`t have
enough merchandise to keep -- to keep it going out. Everything is free
now. It`s free.
We are providing resources and tools on our website, where you can
download the PDGs and you can start plastering your neighborhoods and your
schools and your businesses, to make sure everyone knows that Kony exists
and that he needs to be stopped.
O`DONNELL: Jason, I don`t think there is anyone who is connected to
the Internet in this country who is not going to have seen this in the next
few days. I`m sure, in fact, that the president`s daughters -- that`s
exactly the age group that is passing this along in a big way -- have
already taken a look at it.
Jason Russell, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
RUSSELL: Thanks for having me.
O`DONNELL: You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog,
TheLastWord.MSNBC.com. And you can follow my Tweets @Lawrence.
"THE ED SHOW" is up next.
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