'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, April 2, 2012
Read the transcript to the Monday show
Guests: Tom Owen, Ed Primeau, Charles Blow, Tracy Martin, Sybrina Fulton,
Benjamin Crump, Norton Bonaparte, Howard Dean, Steve Schmidt, Michelle
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Big news for Obama reelection campaign: the
president has opened a huge lead over Mitt Romney among the very voters who
will control the outcome election.
And we have the latest developments in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Trayvon Martin`s parents will join me.
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON`S MOM: I`m doing this for God. I`m doing
this for Trayvon.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: The family of slain teen Trayvon Martin
is renewing calls for federal involvement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And to investigate the police department and the
state attorney`s office.
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: The FBI goes to the scene.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: FBI agents are now on the location where the
shooting took place.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are conducting what`s being called a
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: They are investigating a possible civil
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Feds can certainly step in and file charges
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Experts saying that the boy`s heard calling for
help on those 911 tapes.
SHARPTON: They believe it is not Zimmerman.
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Demands for justice are only growing
TOURE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: We need to judge this, judge the evidence
in a court of law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is in the week the 2012 general election begins?
MITCHELL: It`s now game on in terms of the general election.
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: Mitt Romney keeps trying to close the deal.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Will he finally seal the deal?
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Governor
Romney is a little out of touch.
WAGNER: In swing states, Barack Obama is leading Romney 51 percent to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is trouncing Romney amongst the
WAGNER: Among women in swing states, Obama is crushing Romney.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Women are not an
MITCHELL: The president has now taped a video for Planned Parenthood.
OBAMA: When some professional politicians say they`ll get rid of
JANSING: Professional politicians AKA Mitt Romney?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Planned Parenthood, we`re
going to get rid of that. We`re going to get rid of that. We`re going to
get rid of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney is a clown and I want standing next to him.
ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: If we don`t run Chris
Christie, Romney will be the nominee and we`ll lose.
O`DONNELL: As new details emerge in the killing of Trayvon Martin,
the FBI is out in force, publicly investigating the incident -- at least
four agents and clearly marked FBI shirts went door to door at the scene
today, apparently looking for potential witnesses.
A bureau official confirmed to NBC News that agents from the Tampa
field office had begun their parallel investigation in to the case,
specifically focusing on whether Trayvon Martin`s civil rights were
violated when he was shot to death by George Zimmerman.
The official said agents are seeking information on Zimmerman`s
background and whether he was racially motivated when he pursued Trayvon
And we now have a fire department audio from the night of the
shooting, canceling an ambulance that was en route to the scene for George
Zimmerman, referred to in the audio as the second patient.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DISPATCHER: You can cancel second rescue patient. Patient is not a
gunshot. Second patient`s not a gunshot.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the audio obtained by "The New York Daily News," you
can hear dispatchers saying a second ambulance was not needed to go to the
scene and as you can hear rescue workers asking, they are asking for a
medical helicopter for Trayvon Martin.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DISPATCHER 1: Contact air care and ask them to respond.
DISPATCHER: We are on the line with air care. Air care is not
available because of weather.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And in what could be one of the most important
developments in the case, two forensic voice identification experts say the
cry for help on the 911 call, on the night of the shooting, was not the
voice of George Zimmerman.
Joining me now are: Tom Owen, forensics expert and chairman emeritus
of the American Board of Recorded Evidence, and Ed Primeau, an audio
engineer and forensics expert.
First, Tom, to you, tell me what you established and how you
established it with these audiotapes.
TOM OWEN, FORENSICS EXPERT: Well, Lawrence, I attempted to do a
comparison of a known voice being Zimmerman and an unknown voice being the
person who was screaming. I manipulated the tapes in such a way where I
took out everyone else. In other words, the 911 controller, the background
noise, anybody else or any other noises other than the voice itself. And
then I compared the two together in a biometric program called easy voice
biometrics. And that was able to discriminate the difference between the
two and come to a conclusion of whether it was or it was not Zimmerman.
O`DONNELL: And the only thing that you could achieve here, Tom, is
whether or not it was Zimmerman. You don`t have a way of determining
whether it was Trayvon Martin.
OWEN: That`s correct. I had no samples of Trayvon Martin`s voice to
O`DONNELL: You need to compare audio to audio.
Ed Primeau, what method did you use to reach the same conclusion?
ED PRIMEAU, FORENSICS EXPERT: I listened to the 911 recordings and I
used critical listening skills that I have developed over the last 28 years
of my career. And I hear completely sounding different voice tone. A
voice is like a symphony. And based on my experience, I used my critical
listening skills to determine what I have already declared.
O`DONNELL: So, Ed, you are using an old-fashioned piano tuner`s
method. You`re just -- it`s the human ear, highly tuned and highly trained
Tom, the test that you`ve run, would they be admissible in court?
OWEN: Yes. I have already testified and admitted this software and
this methodology in the state versus (INAUDIBLE) in Connecticut, a murder
trial involving a 911 call.
O`DONNELL: And, Ed, what is your level of satisfaction with your
finding? Are you 99 percent certain, 70 percent certain?
PRIMEAU: I`m in the 90s, Lawrence. I would love to have an exact
exemplar of Mr. Zimmerman`s voice to compare to those screams, and I could
come up with some scientific evidence to prove whether it is or is not his
voice at that point.
O`DONNELL: And let me go to the other controversial element of the
tape, of what Zimmerman`s own 911 call, where he uses potentially a racial
slur. Some people hear it. Some people don`t.
Ed, first you. What do you believe he said?
PRIMEAU: Lawrence, I`m hearing it pretty clear. I`ve listened to it
and I`ve walked away from it, and I went back and listened to it again.
I`m not comfortable repeating what I am hearing but it`s --
O`DONNELL: Yes. It is that racial slur F-ing and then the racial
slur for black people.
Tom Owen, on that point, do you have a finding on what he was saying
at that point?
OWEN: No, I was not asked to make any finding at that. But I will
attempt to do that and that will be -- that will come out in the near
O`DONNELL: OK. Just to clarify. To go forward, would it be helpful
to you to have a tape of Trayvon Martin`s voice and what kind of tape would
work? Would a voice mail or something like that be usable so that you
could try to use your systems for determining whether that`s his voice that
we are hearing crying for help?
OWEN: Yes, in cases --
PRIMEAU: In cases like this --
OWEN: I`m sorry.
PRIMEAU: In cases like this, Lawrence -- it`s OK -- in cases like
this, I would love to be able to review as much family archive video
footage as possible and find a section of Trayvon`s voice in an elevated
mood like playing a video game perhaps or being at a party in a high spirit
or laughing or yelling across the room because that`s the type of energy
that`s behind the voice that`s very fearful on that call and calling for
O`DONNELL: Tom, quickly before we go, if this case goes to trial,
would you expect the defense to hire their own audio expert to make a
counter case about what`s on that audiotape?
OWEN: I think both sides are going to hire their own experts.
O`DONNELL: All right. Thank you very much for joining me tonight.
Ed Primeau and Tom Owen, audio experts who have listened to those
tapes -- thank you very much.
OWEN: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Joining me is Charles Blow, editorial writer for "The New
Charles, this is the thing we`ve been wondering from the start. It --
I think all of us listening to the screaming on the 911 tape, screaming for
help, just in our experience, it sounds like a younger voice. It sounds
somewhat possibly higher pitched, you know, than an adult male`s voice
But fix for us in the elements of the story as we know it now, how
important it is, if we really do have a finding to a 99 percent certainty,
that that is not George Zimmerman`s voice crying for help on that tape?
CHARLES BLOW, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, here are the things that are
important for me, as an observer to find out about those tapes. Whether or
not there could be two people at any point during that 911 call, because it
goes on for quite a while. And you can imagine a circumstance under which
somebody could yell for help to subdue someone while someone else yells to
get this guy off of me or whatever. So that is important.
The other thing to remember, Lawrence, is when I interviewed Trayvon`s
mother and grandmother, they indicated to me that they do not have a single
video of Trayvon Martin. I asked if she had any voice mail messages of him
saved on her phone. She said she had none. And the only voice that she
could recall or think that there maybe of his is of his voice mail message,
if you call his phone, he doesn`t pick up and the answering machine picks
So you may not be able to get a piece of video from Trayvon Martin in
an elevated kind of state of speaking. So that may be a handicap here in
So, the first thing is, can you eliminate George Zimmerman all
Second is, is there enough of Trayvon Martin`s voice left in the world
that you can get a match of Trayvon Martin`s voice. But if you get that,
that does go one step further in the family`s defense that Trayvon Martin
is a person who is -- fears for his life, may be being attacked. That
doesn`t answer all of the questions, but it goes a step further in that
O`DONNELL: Charles M. Blow, thank you very much for joining us
Coming up, Trayvon Martin`s mother and father and the city manager of
Sanford, Florida, will join me with more on the killing of Trayvon Martin.
And in tonight`s "Rewrite": Mitt Romney was asked today if he thinks
it`s a sin for a white man to marry and have a child with a black woman,
which for a Mormon turns out to be a more complicated question than you
And later, an explosive device goes off in a Planned Parenthood
clinic. But that doesn`t stop Rick Santorum from attacking Planned
Parenthood in Wisconsin today.
Howard Dean and Steve Schmidt will join me to discuss a new poll of
swing states that shows just how much the politics of contraception is
helping President Obama`s re-election campaign.
O`DONNELL: The FBI is investigating an explosive device set off in a
Planned Parenthood clinic in Wisconsin two days before that state`s
And President Obama is doing better in swing states now -- thanks to a
surge in support among women.
And next, more on the killing of Trayvon Martin. We will talk to his
parents and the city manager of Sanford, Florida.
O`DONNELL: Joining me now are the parents of Trayvon Martin -- Tracy
Martin and Sybrina Fulton -- along with their attorney Benjamin Crump.
Thank you very much for joining me tonight.
TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON`S DAD: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: I want to the take us back to the first thing we ever
heard from the other parents in this case, the father of George Zimmerman.
He wrote a letter to the local paper down there. It was very short. It
had some emotion in it.
In it he said, "Out of respect for the ongoing investigation, I will
not discuss specifics." Then he went on to say one specific thing about
the evidence. "At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin."
Tracy Martin, as the other father in this case, when you read that and
then you hear a 911 tape of George Zimmerman huffing and puffing as he is
obviously chasing your son, what would you like to say back to Mr.
Zimmerman about this first assertion of his that his son didn`t even chase
MARTIN: I would ask him did he actually listen to the audio and was
he listening to the same tape that we were listening to?
O`DONNELL: And I want us all to listen to a piece of tape of an
interview that he -- that Mr. Zimmerman then did. He -- by the way, at the
end of that letter, that he released weeks ago, he said, "The Zimmerman
family will have no further contact with the media prior to the resolution
of the investigation." The family`s obviously changed their mind about
that going out there, doing a lot of media.
I want to listen to something he said in his television interview that
was recorded there in Florida. When he was asked, do you think that being
a judge, that Mr. Zimmerman was a judge himself, do you think that that, in
any way, affected the way the police handled this case last night? That
Now, let`s all listen to his answer to that.
(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S FATHER: No one knew that I was a
retired magistrate judge. I didn`t mention it to the police. I didn`t
mention it to the state attorney`s office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Sybrina Fulton, I`m struck in that by him saying, I didn`t
mention it to the police. I didn`t mention it to the state attorney`s
office. That, to me, is an answer to the question of: did he talk to the
police and did he talk to the state attorney`s office?
It seems to me, within that answer, is the obvious implication that
this former judge was there at that time and that night and having
conversations with the police and the state attorneys office. Is that what
you think you just heard him say it?
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON`S MOTHER: Well, it implies that he did speak
to them and it implies that he may have talked about certain things but he
mentioned that this is not one of the things he did not mention, his
position. But I`m pretty sure they knew who he was because they knew the
O`DONNELL: And, Sybrina, as the mother of the victim that night,
would you have liked to have gotten a chance to talk to the police and the
prosecutor that night?
FULTON: I would have loved to have talked -- be given the opportunity
to talk to the police department, just to find out what was going on,
exactly what happened. And it probably would have eased my mind a great
deal. But by us not having a lot of the answers, it bothered us.
O`DONNELL: When we have an NBC News interview with Mr. Zimmerman`s
lawyer, just taped yesterday. I want to listen to some excerpts from that
interview that I have cut out, specifically because I`m struck by his
phrasing. He repeatedly refers to this case will be litigated in court.
It sounds like he expects to go to court on this. Let`s listen to the
way he said that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that all of the evidence will come out
when it goes to court and it will be litigated at that time. It will be
litigated one time and it will be in court and by the rules of criminal
procedure and will be under the laws of the state of Florida. And that`s
when I will answer those questions when we get to that point. When it
comes time to litigate this case, I`ll litigate it. Again, the case will
be litigated in court and when it comes to that point, I`ll argue those
issues appropriately when it comes time to litigate this case in the court
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Benjamin Crump, I have heard plenty of lawyers in that
situation and they always say if it comes to court, if it comes to court.
It seems that Mr. Zimmerman`s lawyer has absolutely resigned himself to the
idea that this is going to end up in a courtroom.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY LAWYER: Mr. O`Donnell, I think it is
one of those situations, thanks to really the media and shows like you, the
evidence has been coming out slowly but surely. We didn`t get any answers
from the police department or the state attorney`s office. We have gotten
information from watching your program and people who said we just want the
truth to come out.
And it`s one of those situations. You look at the videotape and you
hear the 911 tapes, after you look at the phone logs from Trayvon`s phone
records, after you have the witnesses coming forth, it`s just one piece of
evidence after another to show at least that this is a matter that should
be decided in a courtroom, not by police department or a state attorney
saying, you know, he said self-defense so we are going to let him go free,
while Trayvon goes to the medical examiner.
And that`s been the tough thing to the deal with for his mother and
O`DONNELL: Sybrina Fulton, a mother knows her child`s voice. And
you`ve said from the start that that was Trayvon on that 911 tape that we
hear crying, screaming for help during this incident. We just presented
two audio experts who insist to their 99 percent certainty, legal certainty
that that voice is not Robert Zimmerman. There`s only one other voice that
it can be on the scene.
How does it feel for you tonight to be vindicated on this point as far
as the evidence has so far developed, based on what we know so far, that
everything indicates that you are absolutely right, that the cries for help
you were hearing were from your son?
FULTON: It just means that what I`ve said earlier is being supported
by experts. It`s just good to know that other people are accepting what I
said and they are not just taking anything that they hear. I did say that
was my son, and I truly believe that is my son. So, I`m agreeing with the
experts that that is my son.
O`DONNELL: Benjamin Crump, thanks for joining us tonight. And, Tracy
Martin and Sybrina Fulton, thank you very much for coming in tonight, and
I`m in awe of the grace and dignity with which you have been conducting
MARTIN: Thank you, Lawrence.
CRUMP: Thank you very much.
O`DONNELL: The city manager of Sanford, Florida, will join me next.
Also, coming up, President Obama is going to get a big boost in a new
poll of swing state voters. That`s going to be coming up in the show.
And in the "Rewrite" tonight, Mitt Romney was asked a question about
sin today that he answered with one word -- but the real answer just might
be a bit more complicated.
O`DONNELL: We`re back.
And joining me now is Norton Bonaparte, Sanford`s city manager.
Thank you very much for joining me tonight, Mr. Bonaparte.
How disappointed are you now in your local police department`s
managing of the crime scene situation?
Now that we have seen the video of the way they arrived back at the
police station, the police station, not using -- they have been criticized
on all of the networks. The officers in the video not taking possession of
Zimmerman`s clothing, Mr. Zimmerman`s clothing, not having their own hands
covered with plastic gloves to preserve evidence, not to contaminate
anything. There`s been an endless stream of law enforcement criticizing
what we see in the video of your police department.
NORTON BONAPARTE, SANFORD, FL CITY MANAGER: First, let me start by
saying again to the family, particularly the parents of Trayvon, we extend
on behalf of the city, our deepest sympathies and condolences. Being a
parent, I can`t begin to understand how it feels to lose a son like that.
In regard response to the question regarding the Sanford Police
Department, I have always called for an investigation, for review, a
critique of how they did. That is something that is very important, not
just for the city of Sanford but for the world to know that what they did
was appropriate or not appropriate.
O`DONNELL: Do you think it would be appropriate for the police and
the prosecutor to be speaking to George Zimmerman`s father on the night of
BONAPARTE: I don`t know if they did or they didn`t do. And that
something that will come out during the investigation. I think that the
special prosecutor would certainly take that in to account as they make
their decision on what she`s going to do.
O`DONNELL: Well, in the previous segment, I played a tape of himself
saying -- he said when asked if they knew he was a judge he said, I didn`t
mention it to the police or the state attorney`s office. That was kind of
buried in this interview he did last week.
But it does seem to indicate this was some contact there. I mean, I`m
just wondering, as you are watching this unfold as the city manager, there
must be many, many aspects of the way police work is done and has been done
in Sanford that you feel needs addressing. Do you believe you are going to
have to have -- you are I going to have to eventually bring in a new chief
of police from outside of Sanford to straighten out this system?
BONAPARTE: I`ve asked for a review. I want to know exactly what the
Sanford Police Department did, whether they did things they shouldn`t have
done, as you`re point out, or if there are things that they should have
done that they didn`t do. That`s the kind of information I want and based
upon that, we`ll make a determination both regarding Chief Lee as well as
the entire Sanford Police Department.
O`DONNELL: How is this --
BONAPARTE: You are right. I have questions.
O`DONNELL: How is the city bearing under this tension now? This city
is known as "the friendly city," I believe. That is its self imposed
label. But with the protest marches and demonstrations, none of which have
turned violent in any way, but must create some sort of pressures on
running that city.
BONAPARTE: It has been a challenge. We have had lots of visitors.
And we have a model that we wanted them to feel welcome and accommodating.
They were not here for a fun time.
They were very serious and a lot of them were very angry. And we
understand that. This is very serious. And we take it that way. The city
has gotten some negative comments. People that never heard of Sanford, the
only thing they now know about Sanford is that Trayvon Martin was killed
That`s unfortunate. We are still a city of 53,000 people. What
happened that tragic night with the shooting affected two people. But then
it spread and it affected the entire Sanford community, now around the
I do call the fact that that was a very unfortunate interaction
between two people. Sanford has over 53,000 people. We are very proud of
them and we are looking forward to the fact of people getting to see the
real Sanford, not just that fact that Trayvon was killed here.
O`DONNELL: Norton Bonaparte, city manager of Sanford, Florida, thank
you very much for joining us tonight.
BONAPARTE: Thank you for the opportunity.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a Ron Paul supporter asked Mitt Romney a very
strange question today about his religion. Does Romney think it is a sin
for a white man to marry and have a child with a black woman? Mitt Romney
gave a one-word answer to that question, but Mormon teachings on that
subject have been Rewritten over the years. That`s in tonight`s Rewrite.
And with Republicans` relentless demonizing of Planned Parenthood, how
surprising is it that there was a real attack on a Planned Parenthood
clinic over the weekend in Wisconsin just before the primary there?
And it seems the politics of contraception is driving women away from
Mitt Romney. Steve Schmidt and Howard Dean will join me next to discuss a
new poll showing President Obama with a big lead over Mitt Romney right
where it counts.
O`DONNELL: A new "USA Today"/Gallup poll shows President Obama with a
strong lead over Willard M. Romney among registered voters in a dozen
battleground states. President Obama is now nine points ahead, a shift of
11 points, with the president at 51 and Mitt Romney at 42.
The biggest change in support has been among women under 50. In the
last run of this poll, 49 percent of women under 50 supported the president
and 44 percent supported Mitt Romney. Today, 61 percent of women under 50
support President Obama, while only 30 percent support Mitt Romney.
This leaves political analyst Rush Limbaugh very confused.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The reason I say that this "USA
Today"/Gallup poll is a fluke is that women buy gasoline, too. Women have
to pay taxes women. Women, some of them, like to have jobs. If the
Republicans are trying to take away women`s birth control pills, that
affects men, too.
It`s not just women who would be mad at the Republicans trying to take
away women`s birth control pills, right? I mean, men have a vested
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is former senior adviser to John McCain`s
2008 presidential campaign and senior strategist in the Bush/Cheney 2004
campaign, MSNBC political analyst Steve Schmidt, and Howard Dean, former
chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former governor of
Thank you both. Howard Dean, I don`t shock easily looking at polls,
but this surge in women`s support -- Rush Limbaugh says it is a fluke.
Okay. Here`s an easy one: Howard Dean, do you agree with Rush Limbaugh?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT: No. Not now or probably
ever. Look, this isn`t a fluke. This has actually been going on for three
weeks in some of the polls. This is a disaster for Romney. He can`t get
What women are going to remember is that in the debates, in these 25
debates or whatever these guys have, is that women were not on the radar
screen except to treat them as if they ought to be back in the kitchen all
the time. It is the most ridiculous season I`ve seen on the Republican
side. They`re usually much more disciplined than we are.
And it is just shocking. The numbers among Latinos are even worse.
Explain to me how you can alienate two of the largest groups in the country
and expect to win the presidency. It`s not going to happen.
O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, the number for women overall -- remember,
we were just talking about women under 50. But for women overall, it is
President Obama at 54, Romney 36. That`s an 18-point gap. There`s exactly
a one-point gap between President Obama and Mitt Romney among men.
So it is a tie among men and there`s an 18-point gap among women. If
that keeps up, that`s -- you don`t have to know anything else. This
thing`s all over.
STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, bad news. Lawrence,
this is why the Republican establishment in Washington wants this race to
be over. They want Mitt Romney to get out of the primary, into the general
election. The reality is this primary contest has been extremely
It is not analogous to the 2008 primaries. Governor Romney has become
very lopsided with regard to his favorable and unfavorable numbers. One of
the things I disagree with Governor Dean about is I think there will be
time to repair some of the damage. It is not easy.
But look, this shouldn`t be a mystery. American women don`t want to
hear American politicians talking about their contraception and birth
controls. This isn`t rocket science. So we had a lot of people who went
out there thinking, for some reason, this was going to be a good issue, as
opposed to the economy, which is what we should be focusing on.
And Voila the results are as you see them reflected in the poll.
O`DONNELL: Remember, these are the battleground states. Imagine what
the gender gap is in California or New York, Massachusetts. The president
is not going to let Republicans forget about this. Let`s listen to the
president talking about Planned Parenthood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When some professional
politicians casually say they`ll get rid of Planned Parenthood, don`t
forget what they are really talking about: eliminating the funding for
preventative care that millions of women rely on and leaving them to fend
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, that`s a perfect example of the politics --
the convenient politics of the moment seemingly converging exactly with
what the candidate and the president actually thinks and believes.
DEAN: See, here`s what I -- here`s where I don`t agree with Steve on
this one, these are deep wounds for women and for Hispanics. The language
that was used by Romney about the Dream Act, that is something that matters
to everybody, whether they are here legally or illegally.
The same things with women; I don`t see how this goes away. The only
way it can go away is if Romney stands up and says, I didn`t mean it and I
take it back. And of course, then he is totally screwed because he`s a
I think this is a disaster. I really do. And I actually -- barring
some enormous thing, of course which could happen, I think this race is
O`DONNELL: Rush Limbaugh thinks that women should be paying more
attention to gasoline prices than to contraception politics. Let`s listen
DEAN: They are going to pay attention to both, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Yes, they can. The Obama campaign has a new ad going
straight to gasoline prices. Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama, domestic oil production is at an
eight-year high. So why is big oil attacking him? Because he`s fighting
to end their tax breaks. He`s raising mileage standards and doubling
In all of these fights, Mitt Romney stood with big oil, for their tax
breaks, attacking higher mileage standards and renewables. So when you see
this ad, remember who paid for it and what they want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, can you explain to Rush Limbaugh why
Republicans harping about gas prices just might not make up the ground that
they have lost over contraception.
SCHMIDT: Yes, I was -- look, you look at that ad, this is a -- this
is a function of the president`s political strength right now. Energy
prices, these are a liability for him. I think his energy record is a
liability. But he`s on offense with the issue.
In fact, he`s criticizing his likely opponent, Governor Romney, on it.
Republicans, as Governor Dean talked about, I think we disagree on whether
it is recoverable from or not. I think it is. I think, though, we have
dug a pretty deep hole. We need to stop digging and we need to start
climbing out of it.
And we need to do that by focusing exclusively on the economy. And
the reason that that gender gap has opened up is because, for some reason,
unbeknownst only to them, we have had scores of our leaders in the
Republican party decide to take these issues on. And the American women
are repelled by it. And it is a huge problem and you see it opening up in
O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt and Howard Dean agreeing to disagree on just
how deep a hole Republicans have dug for themselves. Thank you very much
for joining me tonight.
SCHMIDT: Here`s to you, Lawrence.
DEAN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Republicans have spent months attacking Planned
Parenthood in speeches. Now someone has done it for real in the state
where Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are campaigning.
And next, Mitt Romney runs away from a somewhat complicated question
about his religion today. That`s next in the Rewrite.
O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, another episode of the politics of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess my question is do you believe it is a sin
for a white man to marry and procreate with a black woman?
ROMNEY: No, next question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That question is not as crazy as it sounds, especially
when you consider the teachings of Brigham Young, who just happens to be
the only Mormon leader Mitt Romney has ever publicly praised while running
Brigham Young was president of the Mormon Church for 30 years. And
Mormon belief holds that the president of the church talks directly to God.
So when the president of the Mormon Church tells you what God is thinking,
Mormons listen very carefully.
On March 8th, 1863, Brigham Young said in a sermon, "shall I tell you
the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man, who
belongs to the chosen seed, mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the
penalty under the law of God is death on the spot. This will always be
So there is Mitt Romney`s hero, Brigham Young, telling him if he has
sex with a black woman, he will die, on the spot. And this will always be
so. Bret Hatch, the 28-year-old Ron Paul supporter who are asked Romney
today if it is a sin to marry and procreate with a black woman, tried to
quote something written by Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism.
Mitt Romney cut him off when he heard the beginning of these lines:
quote, "and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan,
that they were despised among all people."
Racism`s grip on Mormon practice has been so strong during Mitt
Romney`s lifetime that it was not until 1978, 10 years after Martin Luther
King was assassinated -- 1978 that the Mormon Church suddenly decided to
allow black men to become priests in the Mormon Church.
Mitt Romney was 31 years old at the time. If we had a candidate
running for president today or any nominee facing Senate confirmation who
belonged to a racially exclusive club until he was 31 years old, that man`s
candidacy for the presidency or for the cabinet or a federal court would be
But in America, the politics of religion has spared Mitt Romney the
embarrassment of having to address this issue because it is the virtually
unanimous position of the political press corps that no candidate should
ever be asked any challenging question about the candidate`s religion.
At the same time, the very same political media believes it is
appropriate to ask any presidential candidate to speak warmly about his or
her relationship with Jesus Christ and no other religious figure, only
Jesus Christ. Indeed, the press judges the candidates on how well, how
artfully, how convincingly they portray their so-called publicly proclaimed
But, as the Romney campaign knows, town hall meeting do not operate
according to the press corps conventions. And so the Romney campaign knows
it might get hit with this kind of question again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess my question is, do you believe it`s a sin
for a white man to marry and procreate with a black woman?
ROMNEY: No. Next question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Romney campaign has no fear that the next question
from anybody in the media will be, did you ever believe that? Did you
believe it in 1968, when you were 21 years old and Martin Luther King was
killed and the president of the Mormon Church kept teaching you that it was
perfectly reasonable to not allow black men to become priests?
When did Mormons stop believing what Brigham Young taught them about
the African race? We asked Mormon officials to help us with these
questions today. And in response, they directed us to a post on their
website that they put up about a month ago.
It states "the church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and
all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the church."
The statement quotes a former Mormon church president saying "no man
who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider
himself a true disciple of Christ."
Then we asked if that applied to Brigham Young and a church
spokesperson said "the statement is what it is regarding our church
history." That`s it. The statement is what it is.
So did Mormon men Mitt Romney`s age actually believe or ever believe
what their hero, Brigham Young, taught them about the African race, that
they would die on the spot if they had sex with a black woman?
Mitt Romney knows he will never have to answer that question because
the conventions surrounding the politics of religion mean that question
will never be asked.
O`DONNELL: The FBI is now investigating a homemade explosive set off
outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Grand Shoot, Wisconsin last night.
The clinic was closed and no one was inside of the building at the time.
The health center will reopen tomorrow.
Rick Santorum thought then this was the perfect day to attack Mitt
Romney in that same region of Wisconsin for Romney`s past contributions to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTORUM: There are a lot of other issues in this campaign where
Governor Romney and I have been different. On the life issue, Governor
Romney is actually running ads out there right now suggesting that I`m not
pro life. Where Governor Romney and his family have contributed money to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Michelle Goldberg, senior writer for
"Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast." She`s also the author of the book "The
Means of Reproduction, Sex, Power and the Future of the World."
Michelle, Rick Santorum also put out a written statement today saying
of course you shouldn`t blow up Planned Parenthood offices. But of course,
he couldn`t resist saying -- in the same statement, we must defund Planned
Parenthood. It`s a battle that this battleground poll shows so far seems
to have been very politically beneficial to President Obama.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, "THE DAILY BEAST": That`s right. Actually --
typically we see an up surge in anti-abortion violence. I think it is
important to note that this is the fourth such attack, right? There were
two fire bombings in 2011. There was a clinic burned to the ground in
Florida in January.
And often you see -- you see an upsurge in violence when the anti-
abortion movement kind of thinks it was on the verge of victory and then
finds itself somehow thwarted. Although that might be reading too much
into what is still a singular attack, and we still don`t know who committed
it, it does seems that when there is frustration among anti-abortion
forces, violence often results.
O`DONNELL: Michelle, is there anyone on the anti-abortion side of our
politics that you would hold up as the example of how to talk about that
without ever planting the idea in anyone`s head that they should go maybe
set off an explosive at Planned Parenthood?
GOLDBERG: It is a tricky thing. On the one hand, I genuinely don`t
think that you can lay these attacks at the feet of someone like Rick
O`DONNELL: No, I`m not doing that.
GOLDBERG: But it is also true that when you constantly say that these
clinics are committing mass murder, that they are -- you know, that they
are sites of sex trafficking -- and the kind of slanders and lies that the
right has spread about Planned Parenthood in particular in recent years is
If they really are as depraved and violent as Republican politicians
say they are, then it seems hard to argue that somebody out there shouldn`t
go and attack one of them.
O`DONNELL: Yeah. I`m not suggesting that their rhetoric is intended
to do that. But it seems to me that in a climate where we`ve seen violence
in this territory, against abortion providers and so forth, that there
should be a special caution brought to that rhetoric which we don`t see.
Michelle Goldberg, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
GOLDBERG: Thanks so much.
O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.
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