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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, March 26, 2012

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LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Police in the Trayvon Martin case
try a new angle today, trying to make Trayvon look bad. And big surprise:
they don`t actually have anything that makes Trayvon look bad.


TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON`S FATHER: Even in death, they are still
disrespecting my son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One month ago today, the Florida teen Trayvon
Martin was shot.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: The unarmed 17-year-old was shot by a
neighborhood watch captain.

JOE OLIVER, JOE ZIMMERMAN`S FRIEND: The bottom line there was a life
and death struggle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Zimmerman was acting in self defense.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON`S MOTHER: They killed my son and now they
are trying to kill his reputation.

son, they`d look like Trayvon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some on the right have pounced on President
Obama`s comments.

in a sense, is disgraceful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the president says it`s morning at 9:00 a.m.,
the conservatives must say, no, he is wrong.


ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Unhinged and desperate.

SANTORUM: Come on, man. What are you doing?

WAGNER: Rick Santorum is getting in to a few oral arguments of his




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The horse is out of the barn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He hurts himself when he loses his temper.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Salty language is a plus in the Santorum camp.

SANTORUM: If you haven`t cursed out a "New York Times" reporter
during a course of a campaign, you`re not really a real Republican.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rick Santorum has taken his campaign to the steps
of the U.S. Supreme Court.

SANTORUM: This is the most important issue in this election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama`s health care law heads to the
Supreme Court.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The high court rule willing determine how you
get and pay for your health care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the Obama campaign`s Web site today, is a t-
shirt here for sale?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s serious day. Just go with it.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This presidency has been a

The centerpiece of the failure is this piece of legislation back
here, Obamacare.

BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: You know what you get when you place a premium
on never offending anyone? You get this guy -- the least interesting man
in the world.


O`DONNELL: And this is where I was going to update you on the latest
developments in the Trayvon Martin case, and then introduce George
Zimmerman`s lawyer, Craig Sonner.

But Craig Sonner, the courageous defender of George Zimmerman who`s
been making the rounds on television since last week doing softball
interviews wherever he could find them, just walked out of our studio in
Orlando, refusing to do this show -- refusing to face my questions because
he knew these questions were not going to be the questions he was facing
everywhere else he went. He wasn`t going to get out of here with an easy
interview where he would be let off the hook with his lawyerly questions.

And so, Craig Sonner has been the first guest in the history of this
particular show to get scared, to be terrified, so terrified of coming on
this show that he has literally run away. He`s in our car right now taking
him home from our studio, afraid to face the questioning he would face on
this show.

Watch out for wherever Craig Sonner shows up next on television
because wherever he shows up next on television has an obligation to put
him through serious questioning about what he`s doing and what he knows.
And the contradictions in the things he`s already said on television.

This is a lawyer who has said on television, I haven`t even asked my
client what happened. Then, on television, he`s said this is what

This lawyer is getting away with the craziest stuff. Any lawyer has
ever attempted to get away with in this situation on television and he knew
-- he knew that wouldn`t happen here. He would not get away with that

And so, he is in his car, running away from this interview -- running
away from what we could have gotten at if he would just stay here and
answer simple, sequential questions about this case.

But he`s made his decision, and he will not be back. Don`t expect me
to be able to get him back. I`ll take him anytime -- anytime he can build
up the courage to come here, I`ll take him. I`ll pretape him at anytime of
the day. He doesn`t to stay up late.

But I think we just found out something tonight, about the
seriousness of Craig Sonner`s ability to represent the complete innocence
of George Zimmerman. In this case, the killing of Trayvon Martin is
actually changing every darks including today. It`s a lot for a lawyer to
keep up with and obviously Craig Sonner is unable to keep up with it if he
knows at the end of a day like today, he`d have to come here.

The Sanford police chief decided -- in fact, not the chief. There is
a new chief there, an acting chief. But the Sanford police have made an
obvious tactical decision. They have decided they have had enough of the
criticism from the likes of me and the law enforcement professionals that
I`ve had on this show and others who called their investigation an exercise
in rank incompetence the night Trayvon Martin was killed ago, 29 days ago.

And so, the police have taken a time-tested police tradition in a
situation like this. They don`t want to take it anymore. So, you know
what they`re doing now? They are leaking, leaking, what they believe is
evidence that supports their foolish, unjustifiable position of allowing
George Zimmerman to just walk free, walk free that night, and not collect
any evidence from him, not his gun, not his clothing, nothing. Nothing
from him on the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

The big leak of the day was from the police. It was later on firmed
by Trayvon Martin`s high school and it was that at the time of the
shooting, Trayvon Martin was suspended from his high school because of an
empty bag that appeared to have once contained marijuana.

Now, this revelation, of course, is relevant to absolutely nothing on
the night Trayvon Martin was killed.


MARTIN: Even in death, they are still disrespecting my son. And I
feel that that`s a shame.

FULTON: They killed my son and now they are trying to kill his


O`DONNELL: Publicly mounting George Zimmerman`s defense has been his
lawyer, Craig Sonner, who is not confident enough in that defense to come
on this show, and nothing he`s had to say anywhere else, and nothing the
police have leaked in their attempt to justify their failure to investigate
this killing has dampened the passion of Trayvon Martin supporters who
attended tonight`s Sanford City commission meeting.


REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Zimmerman is not worth the history of
this city. You need to arrest him and redeem this city right now.


O`DONNELL: Rallies were held for Trayvon Martin today in Kansas
City, Missouri, New Jersey, Atlanta, Georgia, Miami, Florida, and the place
where the killing of Trayvon took place, Sanford, Florida.

Trayvon Martin`s parents spoke tonight at that city commission
meeting in Sanford.


FULTON: I`m not asking for anything, any extra favors. I`m just
asking for what you would ask for, as a parent. I know I cannot bring my
baby back, but I`m sure going to make changes so that this does not happen
to another family.


MARTIN: For the Sanford Police Department to feel as though they
were going to sweep another young black minority death under the rug, it`s
an atrocity. This family is hurt. This family is torn. And the Sanford
Police Department needs to be held accountable.

George Michael Zimmerman needs to be arrested. He needs to be put on
trial. He needs to be given a sentence by a jury of his peers.

We`re not asking for an eye for an eye. We`re asking for justice,
justice, justice!


O`DONNELL: This is where Zimmerman`s lawyer was supposed to join me.
Let`s see if his chair -- there`s his empty chair in our studio in Orlando,

OK. Quickly, here`s some of the things I`m going ask him: Who is
paying you, Mr. Lawyer? Who hired you? When exactly did they hire you?

Does George Zimmerman have a job? Does he have any property? Does
he own anything?

Did you represent him when he was arrested for assault on a police
officer in 2005? Were you his lawyer then? Did you represent him in the
domestic violence case in 2007 when he was accused by his girlfriend of
assault? Did you represent him when she got a restraining order against

You said Zimmerman was injured, a broken nose. Do you have
photographs of your client`s broken nose the night of the incident or even
the day after?

You said Zimmerman`s clothes got grass and all this evidentiary
material on it during this altercation that you talked about, do you have
that garment? Can you show us what happened to it? Do you have
photographs of that garment, if you don`t have the garment that night?

Do you -- do the police have photographs that they have told you
about, that they have shown you that supports this so-called evidence? Do
you have possession of the clothing? Your client was not injured enough to
go to the hospital that night.

You say he sought some sort of medical treatment the next day. Do
you have those medical records that you can show us what he was treated for
the next day?

And Joe Oliver, did you bring him into this case? Did your client
have a conversation with Joe Oliver on Saturday that got him involved in
this case? And did he have that conversation with Joe Oliver without you
being a party to that conversation?

Did you actually allow your client to talk to Joe Oliver without you
participating? And if you did participate in that conversation, that
conversation, as you know is not protected by attorney-client privilege
because with a third party there, there is no privilege on that

And I could go on and I`m absolutely, obviously quite disappointed
that Craig Sonner, the terrified now, cowardly lawyer representing George
Zimmerman has left the chair empty, run out of our studio, refused to come
on this show, just minutes ago when he decided that this was going to be
too tough for him.

So, instead -- joining me now is Charles M. Blow of the "New York

Charles, you really brought this story to a level of mainstream media
consumption that it had not reached before. This was a lot of other media
going on. Black radio hosts, online, all sorts of places. I was seeing a
lot of stuff online. But you raised it to another level.

You also went to Florida this weekend to talk to the family.

CHARLES BLOW, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right. I talked to his mother
and his grandmother.

O`DONNELL: And what`s the picture you got of Trayvon by talking to

BLOW: The picture they paint is of an all-American kid, you know?
Favorite meal is hamburgers and French fries, brownies. And, you know, he
volunteers at the concession stand at the local Pee Wee football team and
he babysits his younger cousins and bakes them cookies -- I mean, they
paint a picture of a child who anybody would be happy to have as their own
child. Smart, going to college, dreams of going to college.

You know, you have to -- you know that is coming from a family. They
love this kid obviously. So you have to take that in to account. But the
picture they paint is of a real loss, a painful loss.

And even as I was interviewing Sybrina, his mother, this were times
in the interview where she would literally -- I mean, not even consciously
doing it, I don`t think, she would latch on to her mother`s arm and rest
her head on her shoulder as she continued to speak to me. And this
happened more than one time during the interview and it really kind of
spoke to the pain that she was feeling and her mother kind of was there, as
her support.

O`DONNELL: What do you make of the big reveal today that Trayvon
Martin, as a teenager in high school in America, may have tried and or
possibly at one time possessed marijuana?

BLOW: I don`t see how that has any kind of relationship -- has any
kind of relationship to the case because his body was drug tested after it
was taken to the medical examiner`s office. So if there were any drugs in
his system then, then we would know that. If we are going to start
executing kids for marijuana, the line will be pretty long.

O`DONNELL: Well, we would like to know from Craig Sonner how much
marijuana Mr. Zimmerman has tried over the course of his life, too.

Let`s listen to Craig Sonner on "The Today Show" this morning.


evidence that needs to come out. I think some of the things you have
mentioned are not quite accurate. And I think when the evidence comes out,
it will show that George Zimmerman was acting in self defense in this case.

And when the rest of the evidence comes out, the fact -- one fact we
do know and I can disclose at this point is that George Zimmerman suffered
a broken nose, injury to the back of his head, and signs of a scuffle being
grass stain on the back of his shirt.


O`DONNELL: That is the cowardly liar representing George Zimmerman.

What would you -- if I was going to invite you to ask him questions
if he had the courage to stay in his chair. I don`t know whether you
scared him away or I scared him away. Something scaring him away.

BLOW: I`m going to take the credit.

O`DONNELL: What would you like to ask him at this point?

BLOW: I think the crucial point here is the initiation of the
encounter, right? So, all these other stuff really makes no difference
whatsoever. The question is -- you know, the central issue is if you start
a fight and you are losing it, you don`t have the right to claim self

If the lawyer is saying that he has witnesses and the police
department is saying that they have a witness who says, not that there was
a fight -- I fully believe there was a fight, but that Trayvon Martin
initiated that fight, that`s real information that we, as the public and
Trayvon`s family needs to know, because that changes the dynamic.

However, if George Zimmerman initiates a fight, starts to lose that
fight, and then starts to claim self defense. It`s a different idea. And
what we have -- this is more of a legal, analytical point. Can the concept
of self defense switch parties?

For instance, I start a fight with you. You are winning. I, in the
middle of getting my behind whupped, I started to say, oh, Lawrence is
hitting me so hard that I now feel like that my life is in danger. Can the
concept of self defense switch parties from me to you?

And the other thing is, could Trayvon also have been covered under
the concept of the "Stand Your Ground" law. If a stranger follows you, who
you can identify is armed and the police department has said that he`s
wearing his gun in a holster on his waist, a stranger with a gun follows
me, gets within arm distance of me, do I then under the Florida "Stand Your
Ground" law, have the right to meet force with force? And that`s a crucial
part of this, as well.

O`DONNELL: Charles, I want to take a break right there. And we`re
going to be coming back and we`ll be joined by one of the family`s lawyers
who can put those legal questions to them. We`re going to have more on the

We`re also going to have Rene Stutzman, she`s the senior reporter for
"The Orlando Sentinel." That paper broke the story on Trayvon Martin`s
suspension from high school. And Natalie Jackson, who`s co-counsel for the
family. They`re going to be joining us.

In the "Rewrite" tonight -- if we get to it, and I think we will --
FOX News has the biggest lie anyone has tried to tell about Mitt Romney.
We`ll tell you that one tonight.

And later, the president`s position is now, you can call it
Obamacare, just don`t call it unconstitutional. We`re going to have the
latest from inside of the Supreme Court today.


O`DONNELL: Will the Obama administration this week be forced to the
admit to the Supreme Court the biggest secret about the president`s health
care bill, that they actually have no intention or any real mechanism for
enforcing the individual mandate? If they do admit that, would that make
the bill constitutional? We`re going to talk about that coming up.

But first, we`re going to continue our investigation about the
killing of Trayvon Martin.

And in the "Rewrite," FOX News tries to tell a bigger lie about Mitt
Romney than Mitt Romney has ever tried to tell about Mitt Romney.



MARTIN: We consider ourselves strong black parents and we take pride
in our kids. And it tears me apart to sit here and listen to the slander
that they are giving to my son.


O`DONNELL: That was Trayvon Martin`s father, Tracy Martin, at the
Sanford City commission meeting today.

Joining me are Natalie Jackson, an attorney for Trayvon Martin`s
family, and Charles Blow of "The New York Times" is back with us, and Rene
Stutzman, senior reporter for "The Orlando Sentinel," the paper that
reported the police leak today.

Natalie Jackson, one of the reasons I wanted to ask the Zimmerman`s
lawyer about Zimmerman`s resources is I want to know what his attachment to
the community is. That goes to the issue of bail, his freedom, his
inclination to free, does he have a mortgage? Does he own anything there.
It also goes to possible civil liability, obviously, that you`d be
interested in what assets, if any, does this person have if you were to
proceed in civil procedure against him.

But what do you make of Zimmerman`s lawyer running out of here
tonight and being afraid to come on the show?

can`t make anything of that. I think he`s been inventing (ph) stories -- I
think his story has changed for his client at least three times that we
know of.

What we know is he left the car after being told not to. We know
that he had a nine millimeter gun when he left the car. We know that he
was told -- he said by his own words that Trayvon Martin was running away.
Hence, Trayvon was not the aggressor.

O`DONNELL: And, Charles, don`t we know that if Zimmerman had simply
followed the police advice, we don`t need you to do this, we don`t need you
to chase him -- that Trayvon Martin would be alive today.

BLOW: Absolutely. Now, that fact no one is arguing. I mean, if
Zimmerman had stayed inside of that vehicle, with his gun on his waist,
Trayvon Martin would be alive today.

O`DONNELL: Or if he had followed --

JACKSON: And there`s another fact that no one is arguing.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Natalie.

JACKSON: There`s another fact that no one is arguing. That when
Zimmerman first noticed Trayvon Martin, he was not doing anything illegal
or anything that he could not do. He was where he was supposed to be.


I want to bring in Rene Stutzman from "The Orlando Sentinel."

Rene, your -- you broke the story today about Trayvon being suspended
from school because he had an empty bag that might have contained
marijuana. Was that leaked to you by the Sanford police?

RENE STUTZMAN, "THE ORLANDO SENTINEL": The story that we reported
today was principally about what happened, the events between Trayvon and
Mr. Zimmerman in the moments from when Zimmerman`s phone call to the police

The thing that jurors are going to have to concentrate on, if this
comes to trial, is what was in George Zimmerman`s mind when he pulled the

What we reported today was that Zimmerman has told police that
Trayvon approached him -- let me back up a half step. That Zimmerman had
stopped following Trayvon. Zimmerman had turned and was headed back to his
vehicle and that Trayvon approached him from the back and his left side.

That the two exchanged words, that Trayvon struck a blow, punched
George Zimmerman in the nose, and that floored Mr. Zimmerman. He`s down.
And according to what Zimmerman told police, Trayvon then got on top of
George Zimmerman and is banging his head against the sidewalk.

So, the question for jurors, if it comes to that, is what was in
George Zimmerman`s mind when he pulled the trigger? And under Florida`s
"Stand Your Ground" law, if he had a reasonable fear of death or great
bodily injury, he was justified in pulling the trigger.

Witnesses have told us they heard those screams. The screams went on
more than a minute. So, there was a fight that lasted more than a minute.

If you believe George Zimmerman`s account to police, he was on the
ground getting beat up for a minute. So that`s what`s important in today`s
"Orlando Sentinel" story.

O`DONNELL: Let`s go to the question that I asked. Did the police
leak that information to you about the marijuana?

STUTZMAN: The story identifies the source as law enforcement

O`DONNELL: OK. So you are a police reporter. You have been around
them a long time. This is a standard procedure, as you know, when they
find themselves in trouble on a case. They start to leak stuff to you
police reporters in the hope that you will advance it and it will get out
there publicly and somehow help their case.

Do you see any way in which that marijuana information about his
suspension from high school helps the police case?

STUTZMAN: I don`t believe it has anything to do with the police
case. Nor does George Zimmerman`s arrest in 2005 on a charge that wound up
being resisting arrest without violence.

Both of those things are irrelevant. But we haven`t had a chance to
learn too much about Trayvon`s background --

JACKSON: It`s relevant. His arrest is very relevant. It goes to
his propensity towards violence and it goes to his propensity to disobey
law enforcement.

O`DONNELL: Absolutely.

O`DONNELL: Rene, I want to ask, you had some lines in your story
today that are presented, as fact. I don`t understand why they are
presented as fact.

You say, Zimmerman was on his way to the grocery store when he
spotted Trayvon walking through his gated community. Now, others have said
that he was on a community watch thing.

You don`t say that Zimmerman says that. You don`t say that police
told you that. You just report it as fact, as if you know exactly what
Zimmerman was doing. You don`t know that.

STUTZMAN: I think you are misreading the story.

O`DONNELL: No, I`m reading -- I`m going to quote you again.

STUTZMAN: I have a story that says --

O`DONNELL: I will quote you again. "Zimmerman was on his way to the
grocery store when he spotted Trayvon walking through his gated community."
You don`t attribute that to anyone except your own knowledge.

You also say, presented as fact, Trayvon then said, will you do now
or something similar and punched Zimmerman in the nose, and the punch in
the nose was the first headline that you put on this story and you don`t
attribute that to anyone in this sentence. That is something that you are
presenting, the "Orlando Sentinel" is presenting as fact.

STUTZMAN: Mr. O`Donnell, I just disagree with you. If you look at
the story --

O`DONNELL: I will read you the sentence again and you tell me if
that is not a presentation of a fact. Trayvon then said, well you do now
or something similar and punched Zimmerman in the nose.

Now, it doesn`t cost you a lot of print to add "according to
Zimmerman," "according to the police."

You owe us in that article to tell us where you got that and why you
are presenting it as fact.

STUTZMAN: Mr. O`Donnell, I think you are misrepresenting the story
as it is published.


O`DONNELL: I`m going to read this quote again. I`m going to read it
again. You are not going to accuse me of misrepresenting anything.

Trayvon then, said well you do now or something similar and punched
Zimmerman in the nose -- and you built your headline on the punch in the
nose that you present as fact.

STUTZMAN: I disagree with you, Mr. O`Donnell. I think the story is
fair and accurate and if you want to ask another question, I`m ready to

O`DONNELL: Charles you want to get in here?

BLOW: Well, one critical part that Zimmerman`s account, if you
believe it, brings up here is that even in his account he is no longer
retreating when the encounter starts. Because what we learned before is
Mr. Zimmerman said was retreating and was attacked from behind. It is
impossible to get -- almost impossible to get punched in the nose from

So, at this point they are back again face to face. We still have to
figure out, Zimmerman says that they are face to face when this encounter
starts. Who throws that punch? We only now know that Zimmerman says that
Trayvon throws it.

Trayvon cannot speak from the grave and we may never know, unless
there is a witness who can say that I saw Trayvon hit George Zimmerman in
the face, that that is the case.

JACKSON: Mr. Blow --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Natalie.

JACKSON: Mr. Blow, we do have a witness that we presented. We
presented phone records to the media that shows that Trayvon was talking on
the testimony phone to a girlfriend at the time when he first encounters
Mr. Zimmerman. This woman -- this girl.

BLOW: I understand that point.

JACKSON: Excuse me.

BLOW: I understand that point and I have listened to her statement.
She does describe an encounter. It is still impossible to know from what
she says if Trayvon hit Zimmerman or Zimmerman hits Trayvon, because she`s
not a visual witness. She is an ear witness and she cannot vouch with 100
percent certainty of who starts what. I`m saying that is the crucial
question that must be answered.

O`DONNELL: But it is her impression --

JACKSON: Yes, sir and it will be answered --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Natalie. Last word.

JACKSON: It will be answered by a jury if George Zimmerman is ever
arrested. That is a question that goes to the jury, the credibility of
George Zimmerman versus the credibility of the 16-year-old girl, along with
the phone records that she has as proof.

O`DONNELL: OK, That`s all we will have time for tonight on this.
Charles Blow of the "New York Times," Natalie Jackson, attorney for the
Martin family, and Rene Stutzman of the "Orlando Sentinel," thank you all
very much for joining me tonight.

Coming up, the administration embraces the word Obamacare as he the
health care law goes before the Supreme Court. But why was today`s big
question all about taxes?


O`DONNELL: Fox News is now in full rally mode around the Republican
Party`s likely nominee for president. That means that Fox News is ready to
tell even bigger lies than Mitt Romney tells about himself. That`s going
to be in tonight`s Rewrite.

And Rick Santorum is losing it. He`s not just losing the campaign for
the Republican nomination, he may very well be losing what is left of his
mind or at least his composure. He`s even saying very bad words in front
of his daughter on TV. The guy is kind of in trouble. John Heilemann
joins me next.



SANTORUM: Pick any other Republican in the country. He`s the worst
Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you said that Mitt Romney is the worst
Republican in the country, is that true?

SANTORUM: What speech did you listen to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s right here.

SANTORUM: Stop lying.


O`DONNELL: Well, I`m afraid as long as there is a Republican campaign
for president, there will be lying. There is no clearer demonstration of
how hopeless the Santorum campaign is becoming than Santorum`s lashing out
at reporters.


SANTORUM: Would you guys quit distorting what I am saying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think he`s the worst Republican --

SANTORUM: -- to run against Barack Obama on the issue of health care
because he fashioned the blueprint. I have been saying it at every speech.
Quit distorting our words.

If I see it, it`s bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Come on, man, what are
you doing?


O`DONNELL: Yeah, that was Rick Santorum`s daughter, Sara Maria,
hearing her daddy say a really ugly slang word bull for bull excrement.
After that, Santorum went on conservative talk radio today to say how awful
it was that Barack Obama said this.


the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.

SANTORUM: To take a horrible situation like that and then inject this
issue, which may be a factor, may not be a factor. But even if it is a
factor it`s one -- if it is a factor it is obviously one sick man -- and to
use that, instead of just saying as a healing president would do, try to
bring people together, but instead try trying to divide people, is really a
sad and tragic legacy of this president.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now John Heilemann, national affairs editor for
"New York Magazine" and an MSNBC political analyst. I still have a bunch
of questions for this Florida lawyer who walked off the set. Can I ask you
those questions?

JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK MAGAZINE": You can. And it is almost
certain that I will answer them better than he would have.

O`DONNELL: So how much longer can the campaign reelection campaign
count on Rick Santorum to do its daily dirty work against Mitt Romney?

HEILEMANN: Well, the longer the better from their perspective,
certainly. I think the Santorum campaign, as is painfully evident right
now -- he is a man who is losing and losing it on some level.

O`DONNELL: Well, he is tired. Come on.

HEILEMANN: He is that. I actually think that is a part of it. But
there is also this factor -- you have seen this before, Lawrence. You
know, when you are losing to someone who you consider can your inferior in
every way, intellectually, in terms of character, it brings out the
nastiness in you. And of course, you know, you saw that with Bob Dole
saying almost the same thing to George Herbert Walker Bush, stop lying
about my record.

It sounded a lot like what Rick Santorum was saying to Jeff Zeleny
there in that tape. That -- you know, it is something that comes out. And
I think there`s a chance Mitt Romney will beat Rick Santorum in Wisconsin
and possibly beat Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania. And I just don`t think if
Rick Santorum loses his home state -- I just don`t see how you go on after

O`DONNELL: When we talk about delegate counts and all of that stuff,
the thing that makes it all academic is if these guys drop out, if Gingrich
and Santorum, either one of them actually just drops out. Then Romney
pretty much has it locked up. There`s nothing left to argue.

HEILEMANN: That`s right. As I said, the money has now become an
issue. Santorum is getting outspent in Wisconsin I think 55 to one or
something. So it is not even like he is anywhere close to parity. And
that is usually the thing that gets these guys out of the race. Eventually
the dough runs out. That`s what -- there`s been a big difference in this
race, because of the super PACs, they have been able to stick around, even
when there`s been no electoral justification for it.

I think that may be -- we may be getting to that point for both those
guys. I mean, Newt Gingrich may stay in indefinitely because he can go
around the country for free, going from zoo to zoo and have a nice time.

O`DONNELL: There comes a time in these campaigns when even good, good
solid candidates who don`t say stupid things, have no impact, even when
they are saying sharp things against their opponents, because everybody
knows it is over, including Republican voters, Democratic voters,
independent voters. They all know it is over. And there becomes -- it is
almost like there is a mute button that is on these guys.

HEILEMANN: Yes, well -- and it is a mute button that we control in
the media. Although I know that this program will continue to cover --

O`DONNELL: We`re keeping Santorum alive as long as possible.

HEILEMANN: I know. But if it is just THE LAST WORD --

O`DONNELL: I will be the last to --

HEILEMANN: If it`s just THE LAST WORD, that may be the moment when
Rick Santorum has to drop out. This is the only program covering him. And
that may be the case two or three weeks from now.

O`DONNELL: How quickly does Mitt Romney clear the Etch-a-Sketch when
he gets the moment to run clear of these guys?

HEILEMANN: I don`t know. You know, part of the problem with the
Etch-a-Sketch -- there are so many different problems with that comment.
And I know it is last week` news.

O`DONNELL: It is not going away here.

HEILEMANN: I know. But it is a great -- it`s a hilarious flub and
the metaphor is brilliant. But the core thing of this that is so crazy to
me is that we know presidential candidates do this, right? You run --

O`DONNELL: Not to that -- they don`t just wipe out their entire

HEILEMANN: Many of them have tried to either run to the left in the
Democratic primary or run to the right, and then they make their way back
to the center. The point is, if you are going to do it, the one way in
which it never works is if you announce that you are doing it in advance.

Then you`re kind of -- you can`t call attention to the pivot. And
that`s one of the problems, one of the many problems of the statement last
week. It is going to make it harder for him to do it now though, because
he has been so defined by his opponent and now his own spokesman as the
ultimate flip flop machine of all presidential politics history.

That makes pulling off any kind of tack back to the center very, very

O`DONNELL: We`re going to miss Rick and Newt here at THE LAST WORD.
You`ll come back some night and just talk about them even after the quit.

HEILEMANN: Yes. We should do it once a week just for old time`s

O`DONNELL: MSNBC political analyst John Heilemann, thank you very
much for joining me tonight.

HEILEMANN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Is it a tax or is it a mandate? And why does it matter?
We will look at the historic Supreme Court arguments that started today on
President Obama`s health care law.

And in the Rewrite, Fox News tells the biggest lie -- the very biggest
lie about Mitt Romney that you have ever heard. That`s going to be next.


O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, Fox News tries to Rewrite the image
of Mitt Romney from a child of wealth and privilege to something more in
the Abraham Lincoln mold.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could also say that Mitt Romney started with


O`DONNELL: No, no, no, you can not say that Mitt Romney started with


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could also say that Mitt Romney started with
nothing. He didn`t get an inheritance from his dad.


O`DONNELL: Yes, he did get an inheritance from his dad, he did.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could all also say that Mitt Romney started
with nothing. He didn`t get an inheritance from his dad. He was living in
a two-room apartment when he first got started. So he can relate to the
early struggles.


O`DONNELL: OK. Mitt Romney inherited a million dollars from his
father. That`s a million more than I inherited from my father. Mitt
Romney says he gave to charity the million dollars, gave it Brigham Young
University, the Mormon university that Romney himself attended.

We have no actual proof that he donated his inheritance, because that
million went into the hundreds of millions that Romney already had by the
time that his father died. Mitt Romney was much, much richer than his
father when his father died.

That`s why Mitt Romney can say I didn`t take the inheritance. Now as
to Mitt Romney starting with nothing, I give you readings from "The Real
Romney" by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman.

"Mitt Romney was born into an exclusive leafy section of Detroit,"
according to the book, which back then actually had exclusive leafy
sections. But that was not leafy or exclusive enough for the Romney family
by the time Mitt was six. Then they moved to the suburb of Bloomfield
Hills, one of the country`s richest enclaves, one of the countries richest

Page 15, "the Romneys lived in a contemporary home adjacent to the
Bloomfield Hills Country Club, the city of several thousand people. The
domain of sprawling homes, emerald lawns and elite private schools was a
world away from nearby Detroit."

"In the 7th grade, Mitt enrolled at the elite Kranbrook School, a
boarding school in his hometown of Bloomfield Hills. The 315-acre campus
has been described as one of the most enchanted architectural settings in
America. Boys attended classes in elegant buildings modeled after an
English boarding school. Surrounded by other sons of privilege, Mitt
wasn`t a standout."

Mitt, who absolutely did not start with nothing, enjoyed hearing the
wisdom of his father at his high school graduation. His father was then
the governor of the state where he was delivering that high school
commencement address. Mitt Romney did his duty as a Mormon missionary in
France, which conveniently provided him with a deferment from the draft so
that he never had to join the military and get his hands dirty in the
Vietnam War.

Young Mitt wasn`t like the other Mormon missionaries in France.
According to "The Real Romney," "Romney also stood out for his rarefied
background. One of his fellow missionaries, Gerald Anderson, recalled how
Romney on a trip to Paris stunned everyone with his familiarity with the
fine French perfumes in a shop on the Champs Elysees."

None of this -- none of this will stop Fox News from trying to say
that Mitt Romney came from nothing. They will say that because they are
now doing their job of forming a protective and supportive circle around
the inevitable Republican nominee for president.

There are people at Fox News, not everyone, but there are some who
will tell any lie to defeat President Obama in his re-election campaign.
There may be many admirable things about Mitt Romney the person, but Fox
News still hasn`t found any, which has left them floating this truly
breathtaking lie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could also say that Mitt Romney started with

You could also say that Mitt Romney started with nothing.

You could also say that Mitt Romney started with nothing.



O`DONNELL: The Obama administration continues to pretend that it is
confident that the Roberts Supreme Court dominated by Republican appointed
justices will uphold as Constitutional every provision of what even the
White House is now calling Obamacare.

Today was day one of a three-day historic argument in front of the
Supreme Court. And the question of the day was is the individual mandate
to purchase health insurance really a tax, since it is enforced with a tax
penalty that will be assessed on any individual tax returns of people who
do not comply with the government mandate to purchase health insurance?

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, representing the Obama
administration, ran into some trouble on that question.


DONALD VERRILLI, SOLICITOR GENERAL: If they don`t pay the tax, they
violated a federal law.

ELANA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: But as long as they have paid the
penalty --

VERRILLI: If they have paid the tax, then they are in compliance with
the law.

STEPHEN BREYER, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Why do you keep saying tax?

VERRILLI: If they pay the tax penalty, they are in compliance with
the law.

BREYER: Thank you. The penalty.



O`DONNELL: The problem for the solicitor general today is that if the
Supreme Court views the mandate as a tax, they might decide that they
cannot decide this case until somebody is -- actually has to pay the tax in
2015. On the other hand, claiming the mandate is a tax will actually help
in tomorrow`s argument when they discuss the Constitutionality of the
mandate, because if the mandate is found to live under Congress`
constitutional power to tax, then, of course, it is Constitutional.

Leave it to Justice Samuel Alito to highlight the difficult corner the
administration has painted itself in to on the question of is it or isn`t
it a tax.


SAMUEL ALITO, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: General Verrilli, today you are
arguing that the penalty is not a tax. Tomorrow you are going to be back
and you will be arguing that the penalty is a tax. Has the court ever held
that something that is a tax for purposes of the taxing power under the
Constitution is not a tax under the Anti-Injunction Act?

VERRILLI: No, Justice Alito.


O`DONNELL: Joining me is Dr. Zeke Emanuel, the chair of the
Department of the Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of
Pennsylvania, and an MSNBC distributor. He helped craft the Affordable
Care Act and was inside the Supreme Court today.

Zeke, I`m so jealous of you getting one of those precious seats in the
court today.

myself, too.

O`DONNELL: I would have loved every second of it. It sounded like it
wasn`t going so good for the solicitor general.

EMANUEL: No, it went fine for the solicitor general. It was quite
clear that most of the justices were hostile to the argument that this was
a tax, and they thought they could get past that pretty easily. Remember,
they had to dragoon a lawyer in because both the government and the other
side thought that this -- the Anti-Injunction Act didn`t apply.

O`DONNELL: So the buzz in the court going out of the building today
was it looks like, as of day one, the issue that was at risk today is maybe
they can`t even decide this case right now. It looks like they have
cleared that threshold and now, for the rest of the argument, it really
will be about what the Supreme Court is going to decide in relation to

EMANUEL: Right. They clearly wanted to get to the substance of this.
And this was just brush clearing. It was still exciting.

O`DONNELL: And there`s no way the administration can be confident
with this court or with any Supreme Court that issues certiorari to a case
like this and schedules this many days of argument on it.

EMANUEL: I don`t agree with you. I think they are very confident.
And I think they are very confident for a good reason, the argument is on
their side. The Commerce Clause, which you didn`t mention, is the stronger
of the arguments. The Commerce Clause does give Congress the power to
regulate interstate commerce as well as all necessary and proper methods to
get to enforce their regulation.

And having an exchange and requiring people to go in is one of those
necessary items. We have had a lot of exchanges in this country. All of
them that are voluntary fail. The one that succeeded in Massachusetts has
a mandate. So I think you can rightfully conclude it is necessary and
proper. And I think that`s where the argument is going to focus tomorrow.

And I think Don Verrilli has the better of those arguments, both in
theory and in actual practice and experience.

O`DONNELL: All right. Dr. Zeke Emanuel gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
Thank you very much for joining me tonight, Zeke.

EMANUEL: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: THE ED SHOW is up next.


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