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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

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Guests: Rachel Maddow, Chuck Todd, Steve Schmidt,
Howard Fineman, Corrine Brown, Jasmine Rand, Karen Finney, Arthur Hayhoe

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Hey, Rachel, we heard a lot from Rick
Santorum. We heard from Mitt Romney. But we didn`t hear enough from you.
Those guys took up all of your time.

I got an empty chair over here. Why don`t you run across the hall?


O`DONNELL: I`m sitting here all alone.

MADDOW: All right. I`ll be there like, it will take me like 27

O`DONNELL: All right.

MADDOW: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: NBC News projects Mitt Romney will win the Illinois
primary after his campaign and his super PAC outspent Rick Santorum by a 7-
1 margin. That includes Santorum`s super PAC spending.

Mitt Romney will not win all 54 delegates. They will be split among
the 18 congressional districts. And among the winners, the majority of
voters also said the economy was the most important issue in this race.

And tonight, Mitt Romney used his victory speech to attack President
Obama`s policies.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Many of us believe we were
in danger of losing something even more than the value of our homes and our
401(k)s. After years of too many apologies and not enough jobs, historic
drops in income and historic highs in gas prices, a president who doesn`t
hesitate to use all the means necessary to force through Obamacare and the
American public but leads from behind in the world, it`s time to say these
words -- this word: enough.

For 25 years, I lived and breathed business and the economy and jobs.
I had successes and failures. But each step of the way, I learned more
about what it is that makes our American system so powerful. You can`t
learn that teaching constitutional law at University of Chicago. All


ROMNEY: You can`t even learned that as a community organizer.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is NBC News political director and host of

Chuck, what are the numbers? Tell us how it happened, how he put it
together in Illinois.

it`s demographics. And I just want to say, it tells a story better than
anything we can do. Romney won because he just fit the state of Illinois

I`m going to pick three areas and compare them to Mississippi and Ohio
and keep these three percentages in mind. In Mississippi, Romney got 31
percent. In Ohio, 38 percent. Tonight, it appears he`s going to get 47

Well, let`s look at those with incomes over $100,000. Well, in
Mississippi, it`s 26 percent. In Ohio, 30 percent. In Illinois, 37

Let`s look at white evangelical voters. Well, in Mississippi, 80
percent of primary voters were white evangelicals. In Ohio, that number
was 46. And in Illinois, just 42 percent tonight.

And then let me show you this one: college graduates in Mississippi
was 43 percent. In Ohio, it was 40 percent. In Illinois, 49 percent.

So basically, higher -- wealthier, higher educated, less religious,
that`s the state of Illinois and Romney`s percentage is basically about 20
points higher than it was in Mississippi.

Another couple -- another thing that hurt Santorum a little bit
tonight. They both -- Santorum and Romney have an Achilles heel. There`s
a lot of -- there`s a chunk of voters who think Romney isn`t conservative
enough and there`s a chunk of voters who think Santorum is too
conservative. Well, among those, 33 percent said Santorum was too
conservative. And you had among those folks Romney won by an almost 8-1
margin -- 72 percent voted for Romney, just 6 percent for Santorum.

Now, about a third -- 43 percent of those who showed up said Romney is
not conservative enough. However, Santorum only won those by a 2 1/2 to 1
margin, 53 percent. So, he didn`t close the sale as well with those who
have doubts, with those Republicans who had doubts about Romney versus how
Romney certainly closed the sale with those who have doubts about Santorum.

But again, I go back to the demographics. You give me the
demographics of a state and I think we know the margins. And it does calls
into this question, Lawrence, could Romney have won this state without
spending a dollar? That the demographics tell the story?

And I know we were having -- this was the same conversation that we
were having four years ago at the same point in time.

O`DONNELL: Chuck, what do we know about the turnout in the
president`s home state tonight?

TODD: Right now, it`s looking like it`s going to be almost exactly
the same as the turnout was four years ago. It`s about 900,000,
republicans turned out in 2008. The estimation right now looks like it`s
going to be right around there. Could be 10,000 higher. Could be 10,000
lower. But right at the mark.

And then one other thing on the delegate front, 54 delegates at stake.
Right now, Romney could get as many as 43. Our loose estimation in the
political unit as opposed to our elections unit, is somewhere between 40
and 43. Right now, it appears Santorum is winning just three of the
congressional districts. He could get a fourth and that would get him as
many as 14 delegates.

O`DONENLL: OK, Chuck. Stay with us. And feel free to jump in with
our other guests.

Joining us now is Steve Schmidt, MSNBC analyst and former McCain-Palin
senior adviser and the nearby host of "THE RACHEL MADDOW," Rachel Maddow,
who managed to run across the hall in time.

You didn`t get a word in on your show.


O`DONNELL: You had to swallow the speeches.

MADDOW: I said hello. Romney won. Here`s Rick. Got to go.

O`DONNELL: Do you have any thoughts?

MADDOW: No, that`s the thing. I was actually just meditating the
whole time.

Actually, I don`t think it`s a surprise that Mitt Romney won. I think
that the Santorum and Gingrich critique with Steve Schmidt is taken part.
They shouldn`t be hitting Mitt Romney for spending so much money to win in
these places where he shouldn`t have to spend all that much money.

I do actually think there is a little bit of an emotional pull to that
critique. I think it sort of matters to people that Mitt Romney has
outspent Rick Santorum seven to one in Illinois. When as Chuck said, the
demographics there, I mean, he should have been able to win it by spending
nothing. But he really is just blanketing people in money. I think that
people sometimes resent that even if you want your candidate to have the
resources to compete.

Mostly, though, I think that Rick Santorum has got to push Newt
Gingrich out of the race. And he`s got to show he can win somewhere
outside the Deep South. I don`t think he`s going to do that.

So I think the Romney campaign has to figure out how they`re going to
appeal to people who don`t like him and vote for Rick Santorum anyway, even
though Rick Santorum has no chance to getting the nomination.

O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, what does tonight mean for the strategists
and these three campaigns?

Mitt Romney campaign, you took a step forward tonight. The race isn`t
over. You want to avoid any unexpected losses.

But when you look ahead to the calendar, you foresee Santorum doing
well in Louisiana. You see him doing well in his home state of
Pennsylvania. But you look now at the calendar. You see a lot of states
where Romney`s going to do well.

So, Romney needs to start thinking about how do you begin to heal some
of the damage that`s been done? How do you put the party together?

For Newt Gingrich, I think, frankly, his campaign is in a fairly
delusional state. It`s over. He`s not going to be the president. He`s
not going to be the Republican nominee.

Why he`s in the race, I don`t know. But if you look at the financial
reports, not a lot of money. Campaigns end when they run out of money.

And, of course, Rick Santorum, he`s looking at this race, trying to
come up with a scenario where Mitt Romney is not able to get the requisite
number of delegates to shut it down to become the nominee. If he`s
successful at holding Romney from that, pushing into this into the
convention, he thinks he has a chance to walk away as the nominee. Maybe
he does.

O`DONNELL: Chuck Todd, give us a little bit of the arguments we`re
going to hear about delegate math. We talked about this a little bit last
night. Nobody really knows how many delegates these people have at this

TODD: We`re actually trying to find (IANUDIBLE) over-allocating
caucuses, a lot of other media outlets are doing that because the way the
caucuses work on this Republican side is a lot different than the Democrats
do. And most of these delegates haven`t been elected yet. Whether it`s
Colorado, Minnesota, for instance on one hand or Washington state which
would be one that Mitt Romney is going to get probably do well at, at that
state convention.

But those conventions are happening in the next couple of months. So
I go back to the delegates scenario. And I`m going to put up my calendar
here. I`m going to circle one state.

I think at this point Rick Santorum has -- we`re back to another one
of the one-state strategies. He has got to beat Romney in Wisconsin if he
has any hopes of creating the scenario of denying him to 1,144 because -- I
went through this.

If Santorum wins Wisconsin, and I think demographically there`s an
argument he can do it. It`s not as urban as in Illinois. It`s a little
more like a North Dakota and Iowa and Minnesota, those states that Santorum
has done well in.

There is an evangelical base there, a little bit. A little bit more
of a hard core conservative base. He could win there.

And if he does, you start looking at the map. April is not a great
month for Santorum. But you start demographically looking at May, North
Carolina shows up in there. Indiana shows up in there. You got Nebraska.
You got Texas. That big chunk of delegates that still got -- that still
have to be awarded at the end of May.

And if Santorum wins Wisconsin, I think it`s very hard for -- it`s
going to make Romney getting to 1,144 very difficult, probably better than
50/50 chance. We talked about this last night. But it is harder.

And that`s why I say right now it is a one-state strategy for Rick
Santorum after Louisiana this Saturday. It is about Wisconsin.

O`DONNELL: Rachel, given Wisconsin`s recent political history, what
impact do you think that will have on their choosing between what may seem
like a hard core conservative and maybe a guy who`s willing to find the
more reasonable way to do business, Mitt Romney?

MADDOW: Yes. I think that it`s hard to put Scott Walker and his
travails in Wisconsin on any sort of number line between Rick Santorum and
Mitt Romney. I think that he wanted to be seen as more of a Mitt Romney --


O`DONNELL: -- Republican voters there who in what they`ve brought
with Walker. They kind of go, wait a minute, maybe I want someone who is a
little more careful?

MADDOW: Except for the fact that Walker has tried to portray himself
as a business guy. He`s tried to portray himself as a non -- as a Bain
Capital kind of guy. I`ll coming in there and I`ll be ruthless and I`ll
win so and I`ll lose some, but ultimately, you`ll be happy with me in the
technocratic kind of way.

That has not worked well in Wisconsin. Nobody lost more jobs, nobody
has lost more jobs in the country than Wisconsin under Scott Walker. And
he came in there saying, oh, I`m not an ideologue. I`m all about jobs, I`m
all about numbers. It has not gone that way.

And so, he may be sort of a test run for the Mitt Romney campaign if
you want to extrapolate it that way.

I got to say, though, Lawrence, listening to Chuck do the delegate map
and talk about like how Wisconsin could be so important, and then you look
at how these caucuses, how these states are actually being run --


MADDOW: I mean did you see the ballot today in Illinois? I mean
Missouri had the cops called in and the county that had the largest number
of delegates this weekend. I mean, Iowa they changed their results.
Wyoming randomly resigned delegate today. Virgin Islands Ron Paul won but
Mitt Romney got more delegates.

I feel like if it really is going to come down to who has enough
delegates, I`m shenanigan worried. I`m not a person who worries about
voting shenanigans. I`m delegate shenanigans worried, because the
Republican process is such a mess and is so non-transparent and is so
nonsensical, if I were any one of these campaigns, if I felt strongly about
it, I would be worried about the way that Republicans have caulked up all
of these states and these contest this is year.

TODD: And, Rachel, Lawrence?



TODD: The rules have changed. We saw rules changed in Michigan that
Michigan Republicans changed the rules and allocated another delegate to
Romney after the result. Florida, Michael Steele continues to contend that
those rules are not -- that they shouldn`t have been winner-take-all,
(INAUDIBLE) with Arizona.

Look, if he doesn`t get to 1144, the way old credential committees
and, Lawrence, I know I`m giving you flashbacks, but it`s going to be

O`DONNELL: Steve, in a universe where there is the potential for this
kind of shenanigans and delegates, who benefits from that? The team with
the best lawyers? The team with the best back room operators?

SCHMIDT: Certainly the team that has both of those is going to be
benefited over the other. But, you know, it also is going to come down to
who has the motional connection if it came down to with the delegates at
the convention. These candidates will have to get up there and give a
speech. It`s going to be the speech of their lives.

All of the -- all of the preplanned showbiz aspects of the convention
where you`re trying to drive a message, trying to connect with the American
people, it will be totally out the window. It will be total chaos. And
it`s anyone`s guess what will happen. There`s just absolutely no modern
precedent for it.

O`DONNELL: Chuck Todd, Steve Schmidt and Rachel Maddow, who finally
got a word in here in the election coverage tonight -- thank you all for
joining me tonight.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

TODD: All right, guys.

SCHMIDT: You bet.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Ryan 2.0. The Ryan plan is back, doing just as
much damage to Medicare as the first Ryan plan, and cutting taxes even more
crazily for the rich. And, of course, all the while adding to the budget
deficit and giving a political gift to the Obama reelection campaign.

We`ll do a quick review of that before digging deeper into the killing
of Trayvon Martin. We will bring you all the new developments of the day.
And you`ll hear a new portion of the 911 tape that may be more revealing
than everything else on those tapes.



DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: Hypothetically speaking, at the end of the
day, has your husband ever come home and said to you, oh, that John
Boehner, what an idiot?

MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: It has never happened. Never.
Never. He is always upbeat, particularly about Congress.


LETTERMAN: Yes. How can you not be upbeat?


O`DONNELL: The Obama re-election campaign has plenty to be upbeat
about today. Thanks to the return of Paul Ryan.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: One year ago, we offered our path to
prosperity and this year, we`re offering again our path to prosperity.


O`DONNELL: Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan chose
today to release the Ryan plan 2.0. Like last year`s Ryan plan, it
abolishes Medicare and replaces it with a lower cost voucher system that
will leave senior citizens literally fearing for their lives.

After his voucher plan was denounced last year, Ryan is now trying the
proven political strategy of simply lying about it this year. He thinks
using the phrase "premium support" will fool people into thinking we`re not
talking about vouchers anymore.

And if you think Mitt Romney is older and wiser since he embraced the
first Ryan plan -- think again.


ROMNEY: I`m very supportive of the Ryan plan. I think it`s bold and
exciting effort on his part and part of the Republicans. And it`s very
much consistent with what I put out earlier.

This budget deals with entitlement reform, tax policy which is very
similar to the one I put out, and efforts to rein in excessive spending.
It`s -- I applaud it. It`s an excellent piece of work and very much


O`DONNELL: Romney applauds it, of course, because the Ryan plan also
includes a massive tax cut for the rich and it removes progressivity in the
tax code by reducing the code to simply two income tax rates, 10 percent
and 25 percent, without even specifying at what income levels those two
rates apply.

That`s the kind of thing that makes the new Ryan plan an empty suit
compared even to the old Ryan plan. And it makes the Ryan plan a purely
political document which the Obama re-election campaign now believes is its
key to victory.

Joining me now is AOL/"Huffington Post" editorial director and MSNBC
political analyst Howard Fineman. Howard, there`s a thing I don`t get
here. Mitt Romney, he`s won Illinois tonight. He`s way ahead in
delegates. He`s on his way to this nomination. It`s not clear what can
stop him from getting this nomination right now.

Why would he embrace the politically deadly Ryan plan? The plan that
pretty much sinks the Republican nominee in Florida?

still in primary season mode, Lawrence. Yes, he won Illinois. And I agree
with you, I think Mitt Romney has shown ruthless efficiency here and
spending the money to pile up the ads to get the delegates, to get close to
if not over 1,144 as you were discussing in your last segment.

But he still got Rick Santorum attacking him from the right and Newt
Gingrich attacking him from the right and Ron Paul is still out there as an
asterisk. He`s got some tough primaries coming up. And I don`t think he
wants to vary one smidgeon from Republican orthodoxy right now.

I think if you listen carefully -- yes, he said he liked the plan. He
supports it or whatever. Maybe that will hang him. But I think he said it
was bold.

I mean, he used a lot of adjectives in there. I would expect that if
Mitt Romney if Mitt Romney wraps up the nomination, that you`ll see him
dancing away at least to some extent from Ryan and company as fast as he

O`DONNELL: I want to listen to something that Paul Ryan said today at
his press conference, where he pretty much pushed this plan right into the
presidential campaign. Let`s listen to that.


RYAN: Our nominee owes it to the country to give them a choice of two
futures. We`re helping them do that. Each of these people running for
president have all given their various ideas and reforms with perfectly
jive or consistent with what we`re proposing here.

REPORTER: And you wholeheartedly believe they`ll accept your budget?

RYAN: Absolutely.


O`DONNELL: Howard, for a party that really at this point doesn`t know
who the nominee is going to be since they may, even with Romney`s wins,
they may end up going into the convention without Romney having all the
delegates he needs to lock it up, Ryan -- I don`t know. There is something
funny about this, about trying to stick this in there.

Is this -- does he think this might be his ticket on to the ticket, in
the number two spot, or to get his name thrown around even more as a
possibility in a brokered convention?

FINEMAN: Well, I suppose you could argue in a way, Lawrence, that
negotiating at an open convention has already begun. First of all, Mitch
Daniels was on "HARDBALL" last week, the governor of Indiana. He was on
"HARDBALL" last week with Chris Matthews.

And, boy, did Mitch Daniels sound like he wanted to be drafted. He`s
got a new book out. He says, look, the candidates are not being specific.
The candidates are being timid. I, Mitch Daniels, am being bold. I`m out

Paul Ryan did the same thing today. As you said, during the Illinois
primary, he chose to do this and advance of the Wisconsin primary coming
up, by the way, which is his home territory.

And I think Paul Ryan considers himself a national player either to
define the conversation or be on the ticket as well. Interesting contrast
between the candidates who are running who are often very vague and the
sort of why don`t you draft me, people, like Mitch Daniels and Paul Ryan
who are saying, hey, we`re the brave specific ones.

O`DONNEL: He`s got -- Paul Ryan has got to hate live in the House of
Representatives by now. He`s gotten as high as he can get. He`s chairman
of the budget committee. He can look forward to another 30 years as
chairman of the budget committee or maybe getting on that Romney ticket.

Does he solve Romney`s problems if he`s the number two choice?

FINEMAN: Well, perhaps. He`s Paul Ryan. By the way, you were
speaking as a former Senate staffer there. You`re staying for the House --
staying for the House was showing.

But, no, Paul Ryan is a darling of the conservative base of the
Republican Party. He`s one of the most respected figures, well liked
figures. He`s an articulate guy.

Many of us may disagree with his plan. It`s controversial at the very
least. The Obama campaign can`t wait to run against it.

But at the base of the Republican Party, they like the plan and they
like Paul Ryan. So, I`m sure he would be short listed by anybody who gets
the nomination, especially Mitt Romney.

O`DONNELL: Howard, I`m going to close with this. As for Senate
superiority complexes, no one ever sees a senator quit the Senate to run
for the House of Representatives. They are not welcoming a lot of senators
down the ladder to the House.

Howard Fineman, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Justice Department and FBI are now looking
into the case of Trayvon Martin. They started -- they announced that just
minutes after this program last night had a federal prosecutor on showing
them the way to a federal prosecution in this case. The case of Trayvon
Martin who was shot by a man who still, still, in Florida, has the right to
carry a gun under Florida law.

You`ll hear that man`s voice, the man who did the shooting on a new
911 tape tonight. You`ll have to be the judge of exactly what he says.
That`s next.


O`DONNELL: There`s an important new witness today in the killing of
Trayvon Martin. It is revealed today that when Trayvon Martin he was being
followed by the man who was going to kill him, Trayvon was on the phone
with his girlfriend, explaining exactly what was happening to him every
step of the way.

One of the lawyers for Trayvon`s family will join me next.

And you`ll hear a new portion of the 911 tape and what I heard George
Zimmerman say on that tape and what Toure says he heard George Zimmerman
say on that tape could be shocking evidence of a hate crime.

We`re going to play the tape. You will listen to it. You will be the
judge of what the words are that George Zimmerman uses on that tape. It`s
coming up



Trayvon -- she hears Trayvon say "why you are following me?" And that`s
when she says she hears another voice saying "what you are doing around

And again, Trayvon says why you are following me? And that`s when she
says, again, he said "what are you doing around here?" And she says she --
Trayvon was pushed. The reason she concludes he is pushed is because she
says his voice kind of changes like something interrupted his speech.


O`DONNELL: That`s was Benjamin Crump, the head attorney for the
family of Trayvon Martin, revealing today the latest development in the
case. It turns out Trayvon Martin was on his cell phone with his
girlfriend while he was being pursued by George Zimmerman.

Joining me now, Congressman Corinne Brown, Democrat of Florida, where
this incident happened, and Jasmine Rand, one of the Martin family`s
attorneys and an adjunct professor for the Florida A & m University.

Attorney Rand, what -- what is the importance of this new development
with this ear witness? She -- she didn`t see anything but she heard
everything through her cell phone, everything that was happening to

importance of this new witness is that it`s corroborative testimony. In
the law, it`s very important that you have your witness testimony
corroborating. She says what every other witness has said, that Trayvon
was not the aggressor, and that Zimmerman was actively pursuing Trayvon.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Brown, you were on the show last night. You
said you were going to have a meeting with the Justice Department today.
How did that go?

REP. CORINNE BROWN (D), FLORIDA: I think it went very well. We met
with the mayor of Sanford and the city manager and the Justice Department
for over an hour. And I got the feeling that we are moving in the right

It was very important to get the Justice Department involved, along
with the state and local, because basically I don`t feel, up to this point,
that everything has been handled the way it should have been handled.

O`DONNELL: Well, a lot of things haven`t been done by the local
police, including talking to witnesses. There is another witness I want to
listen to now on the "Orlando Sentinel" website. This is where this
videotape comes from.

They have this interview of a 13-year-old boy who did witness part of
this event. Let`s watch this and listen to this.


walked outside. So I went to where I heard it. It was behind about 20 to
25 yards from behind my house. And I looked and I saw someone laying on
the ground. And I heard someone yelling for help.

And then my dog, he got off the leash. And I went to go grab him.
And then when I grabbed my dog, I heard a shot. And right when I heard the
shot, the screaming stopped.

So I went inside and I told my sister and she called 911. The police
arrived. And I later found out that the person who got shot died. I think
about what if I would have went over there, if the person still would have
got shot.

No, I just think that sometimes people get stereotyped, and I fit into
this stereotype as the person who got shot.


O`DONNELL: Congressman Brown, there is a 13-year-old constituent of
yours who is thinking tonight what could I have done? Maybe if I went over
there, maybe the shooting wouldn`t have happened. He`s also worried
tonight that he fits the stereotype of the kind of person that George
Zimmerman was looking for.

BROWN: Clearly, it`s just very dangerous -- very dangerous specie of
black male walking on the sidewalk. Now this is America. And we`re better
than this. We`ve got to do better. And this is not acceptable.

Clearly, he was profiled. And how this case has been handled has got
to be a teaching moment for us. We`ve got to learn from this. And we`ve
got to put procedures in place that we`re all comfortable that this is not
going to happen again.

O`DONNELL: I want us all, and the audience especially, to listen to
this new portion of the 911 tape that was revealed today. Most people have
heard the rest of this tape. But I want to give the audience a heads up,
it gets profane. George Zimmerman uses the F word very clearly. There is
absolutely no dispute about that.

He says F-ing and it`s the word after that. And the network has kind
of bleeped out the word F-ing. And so it`s a little bit hard to hear the
flow into the next word. But the next word is the big word that`s at issue

This is the part of the transcript where the dispatcher is going to
say to him, OK, what entrance is it that he`s heading towards? Zimmerman
says the back entrance. Then there`s a pause. Then there`s F-ing and
there`s a word. And he`s calling -- he`s calling Trayvon this word.

RAND: Okay.

O`DONNELL: And I want everyone to listen to it, everyone in the
audience. We`ll play it more than once. I want everyone to make their own
judgement about what they`re hearing. Let`s listen to that tape now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, which entrance is that that he is heading


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you following him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we don`t need you to do that.


O`DONNELL: All right. I just want to let the audience hear it one
more time. I`ve listened to it a few times. I -- the first time I heard
it, I recognized that -- the second word easily. I want to let the
audience hear it one more time and then we`ll talk about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, which entrance is that that he is heading


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you following him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we don`t need you to do that.


O`DONNELL: Jasmine Rand, what do you hear him saying?

RAND: I hear him saying F-ing Coons?

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Brown?

BROWN: I didn`t hear what he said. But what I heard was the
dispatcher told him to stand down. "We don`t need you to follow him."
They`re on the way. That`s what I heard. There was no reason for him to
engage this young man whatsoever. He clearly was the aggressor.

O`DONNELL: Attorney Rand, I heard what you heard. And I heard it
repeatedly. I`ve played it repeatedly. There are people saying when they
hear this word, they hear the word "punks." I know people are saying that
with honesty. I think, to some extent, it depends on what computer you`re
listening to it on.

But let`s get to your interpretation of it legally. Those two words,
the -- the F-ing and then saying the word that you attributed to George
Zimmerman, it seems to me constitutes obvious evidence of hateful intent.
This is a racial slur that you`re hearing him say minutes, seconds possibly
before he shoots a black teenager to death for having done absolutely

RAND: Well, I mean, I think as you said, the racial overtones to me,
they couldn`t be ignored to begin with. And certainly, you know, after I
went back and analyzed what I heard, too -- I didn`t hear it the first
time. But I certainly went back and listened to it several times now. And
that`s what I hear.

I think that the racial overtones are prevalent throughout this entire
case, beginning with some statement that the neighborhood has made, which
are significant to me. And what a lot of the neighbors have said is, yes,
that`s what we do. We look for young black men to be criminals on this

And that`s exactly what George Zimmerman did that night. Trayvon was
not a criminal. He was a kid walking home from a convenience store with a
pack of Skittles and an iced tea. And what George Zimmerman did was
identify him as a young black male who he believed was suspicious, because
of his skin color, and followed him to see whether or not he was going to
commit any type of criminal activity.

I think, you know, Zimmerman`s language, the "F-ing Coons" is what I
heard. He also referred to Trayvon as -- or said that these A-holes always
get away. And he identified Trayvon as black twice in that video. So, to
me, you know, that last bit where what I hear is "F-ing Coons" is very
significant. We can no longer ignore that this was a racially motivated

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Brown, I`ve studied police cover-ups in the
past and written about them. And when I heard that tape today, and when I
interpreted it the way Attorney Rand interpreted it, I believe that what we
have here is evidence of a police cover-up. This is not conclusive legal
proof of a police cover-up.

But this is evidence that the police, that local police department
never wanted anyone to hear those two words. And that`s why we haven`t
heard those two words until today.

BROWN: Well, one of the things I wanted was to release the tapes so
that you could hear it. And I also wanted the Justice Department to come
in, so we could get an independent review of what has happened from step-
by-step. And that is what has happened.

The fact that you see the tapes and you can hear those tapes and
they`re out there so you can analyze those tapes was very important to me.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Corrine Brown and Attorney Jasmine Rand,
we`re not finished with this case. I`m sure we`ll have you both back.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

RAND: Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, we`ll have more on the killing of Trayvon
Martin and the Florida law that the shooter has been hiding behind.



CRUMP: He had no intention of getting back in his truck, doing what
the police instructed him to do. He kept pursuing Trayvon Martin. How do
we know? Because this young lady connects the dots. She connects the
dots. She completely blows Zimmerman`s absurd self-defense claim out of
the water.


O`DONNELL: That`s the attorney for the family of Trayvon Martin
today, talking about the new witness revealed in the case. Joining me now
is the executive director of the Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence,
Arthur Hayhoe. Mr. Hayhoe, I read quotes of yours the other day where you
predicted exactly this when the Florida legislature was considering this

right. You know, we`re delighted with the dialogue that`s been started
about this horrible law. In fact, there`s been more dialogue in the last
few days than I`ve been able to create in the last seven years. But, you
know, we`ve been in it from the start. We`re going to keep at it. Our
goal is to repeal this law.

O`DONNELL: I want to put up a map for our audience of all the other
states that have some version of your stand your ground law. Florida was
the very first. And look at the contagion and the way it has spread across
this country. There are lives at risk in every one of those states. These
are Republican-controlled legislatures in these states, for the most part,
doing this.

HAYHOE: That`s right. And we`re in contact with these gun control
organizations in these states. They`re having the same trouble with those
laws that we`re having here.

O`DONNELL: And was there much opposition to this in the legislature?
Did the Democrats just fold as this thing was coming, because they were
afraid of being considered soft on crime?

HAYHOE: Unfortunately, yes.

O`DONNELL: And what has been the experience with it in the state? Is
anyone tracking each one of these incidents with the racial makeup of the
shooters versus the victims of the shootings?

HAYHOE: Not in that detail. But we`ve been cataloging the shootings
since 2005. And we`ve gone through over 100 now. And the pattern is
there. When there are no witnesses, they`re dismissed. When there are
witnesses, it goes to trial usually for manslaughter.

So I have at least a dozen cases on my desk back in Florida of exactly
the same kind of shootings, almost identical. And they were all dismissed
because there were no witnesses.

O`DONNELL: We`re rejoined by Jasmine Rand, one of the attorneys for
Trayvon Martin`s family. Attorney Rand, do you think we are now passed the
problem in this case of this crazy self-defense law in Florida? Has the
case moved beyond the hurdle that that represents?

RAND: I think we were past the self-defense claim way before this.
You know, I would hope with the new testimony of the young lady today, we
have pieced together the final moments of his life now. It`s clear that in
the final moments, Zimmerman was still the aggressor and Trayvon was still
the victim trying to get away from him.

So, you know, in my opinion, yes, we`re away from it. But does that
mean that we`re in the clear? No, that doesn`t mean we`re in the clear,
because it`s not up to me.

O`DONNELL: And do you expect, Attorney Rand, for the state
investigation to take precedence over the federal investigation? Is it
your understanding, from what you`ve been hearing, that the Justice
Department will do some looking around, but basically hold back to see what
the state does first?

RAND: I have been not -- I have not been directly in contact with the
Justice Department. I did meet with the state attorney`s office yesterday.
And the state attorney told me, when I asked him how the investigation the
chief of police for Sanford performed was, he told me that the
investigation was reasonable and needed great supplementation.

The words I asked was whether or not it was fair and thorough. And he
was not willing to use those words. He would only use reasonable.

O`DONNELL: I want to bring Karen Finney into the discussion. She`s
joining us from Washington, MSNBC analyst Karen Finney. Karen, I
apologize. You were supposed to come on here and talk about some politics.
But I just -- I didn`t want to leave this subject. I want to stay with
this for the rest of the show.

Karen, Mitt Romney was asked about this on the campaign trail today.
Jay Carney was asked about it at the White House news conference today.
Are we going to see this case find its way into presidential politics?

we don`t yet know based on how this case continues to shake out.
Obviously, there are legal issues that are relevant. There are gun law
issues that are relevant. But, you know, Lawrence, the other thing that I
think for me this case brings up is if you are an African-American, in
particular -- and I speak from my own experience, I want people to look at
this case and understand why the idea of racial profiling is so terrifying.

Because that`s what happened in this case. When people let their
biases and their bigotry and their stereotypes get the better of them, get
the better of their judgment, this is the kind of thing that can happen.
This is why in those immigration laws that we`re seeing, there are very
serious concerns being raised.

This is why when you have, you know, Rick Santorum on the campaign
trail saying I don`t want to make black or blah people`s lives easier, or
you have Gingrich talking about habits of black people and the Food Stamp
president, these are all the kinds of stereotypes and bigotry that only
gets furthered.

O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to take a break here. Arthur,
Jasmine and Karen, please stay with us. I want to put up on the screen,
before we go, that map of the United States again, where this stand your
ground so-called self-defense law exists. People should be studying this

This is where you are at risk of having what happened to you -- what
happened to Trayvon Martin in Florida, especially -- especially if you are
a black man in America. We`re going to be back with more on the Trayvon
Martin case after this break.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And would your Justice Department get involved in
the Trayvon Martin case?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to see you, thank you.


O`DONNELL: There is Mitt Romney literally walking way from the
Trayvon Martin case. Back with me now, Karen Finney, Florida Attorney
Jasmine Rand and Arthur Hayhoe.

I want us all to take a look at this video that I`m about to show.
It`s about a beating of a homeless man in Florida. The interesting thing
about this case is this crime scene was supervised by the very same officer
who supervised the scene of the non-investigation of the killing of Trayvon

Let`s look at this video of what happens to this homeless man.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty one-year-old Justin Collisson (ph) is the
son of a Sanford, Florida police officer and was never charged. The man he
struck first, who was homeless, had to be hospitalized.


O`DONNELL: Now, Jasmine Rand, that video has been making the rounds
now in Florida, because the interesting thing is that that crime scene was
supervised by the same officer who supervised the scene of the killing of
Trayvon Martin. And he did not move for any charges against the person who
we saw do that in that video.

RAND: Right. I actually got a call from my office while we were on
break. And there is something in the story that we need to correct. My
office has been analyzing the tapes even as I`ve been on air. And I know
that the version that we heard tonight, it appears that the words -- the
terms "F-ing Coon" were used. But the official version that we have from
the Police Department, you don`t hear those expletives.

So where the version stating "F-ing Coons" came from we don`t know.
So at this time, until we can verify that that is an original copy from the
Sanford Police Department, the family cannot stand by those terms, because
we don`t know where that version came from.

O`DONNELL: OK. Let`s dig into that. That`s important. So just so
we understand, the version that you`ve heard or your office has heard from
the Police Department, the official version, does it have a blank there?
Does it have something inaudible?

RAND: I don`t believe that it has a blank there. I can`t recall
exactly from memory. But as stated earlier, the first couple times I
didn`t hear or notice that. I have heard versions since then where I do
hear that. But we went back and analyzed the original version that we
received from the Sanford Police Department, and it does not appear to us
that, based upon the original version that our office received, that those
expletives were included there.

I can`t say where that version where we can clearly hear the expletive
there came from.

O`DONNELL: OK. That version came from a local television station in
Florida. And that`s what we`ve been using with it. And that`s all the
time we have for this tonight.

I want to thank Karen Finney, attorney Jasmine Rand, and Arthur
Hayhoe. Thank you all very much for joining me tonight. A live ED SHOW is
up next.


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