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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, April 18, 2012

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Guests: Howard Fineman, Karen Finney, Krystal Ball, Alicia Menendez , Jamie Raskin

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: President Obama went to Mitt Romney`s home
state of Michigan and got thunderous applause. Mitt Romney went to the
site of this year`s Democratic National Convention, and just got thunder.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It will be an effort by the,
quote, "vast left wing conspiracy".

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The crazy right rears its head.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Mitt Romney`s vast left wing conspiracy.


BASHIR: He believes in a vast left wing conspiracy.

ROMNEY: This is not exactly a grand idea.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Mitt Romney is in Charlotte giving a
prebuttal to President Obama.

BASHIR: Set to be on a rooftop venue overlooking Bank of America

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: Site of the Democratic convention in
Charlotte, North Carolina.

BASHIR: Moved indoors due to falling rain. Rain on Mitt`s parade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ll continue to hear more the Mitt Romney

ROMNEY: Even if you like Barack Obama, we can`t afford Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He will contort his thoughts and beliefs to meet

ROMNEY: He`s got these ideas.

CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN: Mitt Romney has already begun the process of
choosing a running mate.

ROMNEY: We`ve got a long list of people.

O`BRIEN: Something with a different ethnicity who appeals to women.
So, his first choice is President Obama.


CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: How do you move back to the center on

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republicans have been running on alienating
Hispanic voters.

TODD: It seems like Romney already is regretting some of this

ROMNEY: The DREAM Act, would I veto it? And the answer is yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney has a strong lead among really, really
white voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes we have to compromise.

Romney for president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lesser of two evils.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: America is falling in love with the idea
of liking Mitt Romney.

OBAMA: We will finish what we started in 2008. God bless you. God
bless America.


O`DONNELL: Remember this? The much publicized Mitt Romney speech at
Ford Field, the stadium that holds 65,000 people? That was the Romney
event that wound up with an audience of 1,200 people, many of them members
of the media forced to cover the event.

There was another much hyped Romney event today, a so-called prebuttal
to President Obama`s convention speech in Charlotte where the president
will accept the Democratic nomination in September at the Bank of America
stadium. That holds 73,000 people.

Romney planned to stand on the roof of a Charlotte office building
overlooking that stadium and excoriate the president today. But once
again, in Romney-land, it didn`t go quite as planned.


ROMNEY: This is quite a reception. Thank you. I thought we were
going to be on the roof. It looks a little wet up there.


O`DONNELL: And so, Romney`s big speech was to about 150 people in a
room with a window looking out on to the stadium, although, as you can see,
that window was completely blocked by the massive American flag.

The subject of Romney`s speech was President Obama`s record on the
economy. But Mitt Romney also used this speech to attack the president on
issues of character.

As reported here last night, a new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows
President Obama has an advantage over Romney on the 15 characteristics and
qualities that voters were asked about. All 15, Romney is losing every
single one of those.

Romney tried to chip away at the president`s advantage on some of the
key characteristics and qualities as much as he possibly could given that
President Obama is much, much more liked by voters than Mitt Romney is.


ROMNEY: Even if you like Barack Obama, we can`t afford Barack Obama.

You won`t hear him repeat an accurate statement.


ROMNEY: He has navigated these storms and now he`s ready to really
lead to the future. Really? He`s really ready to lead now. He`s over his
head and swimming in the wrong direction. We know that it`s time to have
someone who`s actually led.


O`DONNELL: And Mitt Romney closed his prebuttal speech by attacking
the president for this.


ROMNEY: We`re going to recognize that it`s time that given the fact
that we`ve learned who Barack Obama is and what he`s capable of doing, that
he`s over his head.


O`DONNELL: President Obama speaking at a community college in Ohio
found ways to speak about Mitt Romney without actually mentioning his name.


OBAMA: Somebody gave me an education. I wasn`t born with a silver
spoon in my mouth. Michelle wasn`t. But somebody gave us a chance. Just
like these folks up here are looking for a chance.


O`DONNELL: And later, at an event in Michigan, the president had no
trouble reminding voters about his record.


OBAMA: Change is the promise we made in 2008 for the first time in
nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. We have refocused our
efforts on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. Al Qaeda is
weaker than it`s been -- thanks to our amazing troops. Osama bin Laden no
longer walks the face of this earth.

We`ve begun the transition out of Afghanistan. That`s what change is.




O`DONNELL: Joining me now are: Howard Fineman, editorial director of
AOL "Huffington Post" and MSNBC political analyst; and Karen Finney, the
former DNC communications director and MSNBC political analyst.

Howard, there was the president in Michigan, in auto manufacturing
country, and the biggest applause he got was not the auto bailout, it was
for getting Osama bin Laden.

line that`s going to work throughout the year. I think the key is -- by
the way, I think that the president who is leading by -- his first play was
about the Buffett Rule for two weeks. I don`t think that was the best way
to start the fall campaign. That`s what`s happened.

This speech tonight in Dearborn, I thought hit all the best bases he
could hit. To me the key line was when he said we`re beginning to see what
change looks like. And he coupled that, among other thins, with talking
about how Osama bin Laden no longer walks the face of the earth.

That was a very strong general election campaign speech because it hit
all of his best points and didn`t just lead with the idea of taxes, wasn`t
a tax speech. It was an overall speech and very well done.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, it looks like the Romney speech writers
simply looked at that CNN poll of all the characteristics where the
president has huge leads over Romney and decided to write that speech
directly to that poll.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. You know, lately,
though, their strategy seems to have been this -- I don`t remember if you
remember this game when you`re a little kid when I say, well, I know you
are but what am I, right? I mean, they keep taking Obamas strengths and
trying to say that he didn`t just go kick ass and get Osama bin Laden.

But more interestingly, in the language that Romney has been using for
some time now, the other two types of poll numbers, other than likability
that are very important are honest and trustworthy and shares my values.

In the narrative that President Obama told today and that he has the
opportunity to tell throughout this campaign, people can see themselves in
that story. This is a guy who came from modest means, worked his way up.
Even as a community organizer, worked to help people who needed jobs and
need to get back on their feet in different ways. So, again, he`s got that
connection, shares my values.

People think he`s honest and trustworthy. There`s an ABC -- CBS News
poll coming out, six in ten people think that Mitt Romney will tell you
what he thinks you want to hear. That`s not honest and trustworthy.
Clearly, they`re trying to attack those two virtues of the president
knowing that they`re weaknesses for Romney.

O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney was on FOX News tonight telling Sean Hannity
what he wants hear. Let`s listen to that.


ROMNEY: I do believe that if we continue to talk about the
president`s record and the fact that he is over his head and swimming in
the wrong direction, if we talk about those things, I think he`s in real
trouble. What he`s going to try and do, he`s already begun it, is to try
and find anyway to divert from his record, divert the attention of the
voting public. Frankly, I think Americans are too smart for that.


O`DONNELL: Howard, in that recent CNN poll, Mitt Romney does not even
lead the president on handling the economy, despite how weak this recovery
has been and how high unemployment remains.

FINEMAN: Yes. I think that`s the key number. Let me say again, I
thought the speech by the president tonight, if you look at it in its
entirety, I think the best case he`s made for himself so far. He touched
on all the successes, succinctly, comprehensively.

He talked about laying out what he would like to do and other projects
he`d have for a second term. He said this is what change -- we can see
what change begins to look like. I thought that was crucial. If he can
make that case, all the rest of the numbers don`t really matter.

Couple other things, Lawrence. Don`t forget that despite the similar
numbers, the horse race number overall is pretty close right now. I think
that`s something that the Obama campaign needs to worry about.

But if they can -- if they can convincingly answer this notion that
Barack Obama is in over his head with the kind of speech he gave tonight, I
think he`s going to be in very good shape.

As for Mitt Romney, how do you fix the likability problem? How do you
do that? How do you do that? Because if you --

O`DONNELL: He`s got to come up with a better dog story.


FINEMAN: If he could -- if he could do that, he could make more of a
race out of this. But instead, I was talking to David Axelrod in the Obama
campaign earlier tonight -- Romney`s words are hot, they are accusatory,
they are broad, they are nasty. That`s not going to help him on the
likability front with independent voters. No matter what case he`s making
against Barack Obama.

FINNEY: Right.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Karen.

FINNEY: I was going to say, that`s part of why what you hear him
saying is nice guy but in over his head. They know, people like President
Obama, so you can`t go at him that directly. He`s a likeable person.
That`s why their frame is in over his head.

O`DONNELL: But also, Karen, the in over his head thing doesn`t poll
either because you look at the CNN poll and President Obama has this
massive lead over Mitt Romney on commander in chief.

FINNEY: Right. But that`s -- that feels like the classic GOP trying
to convince us that there are weapons of mass destruction, that when the
sky is blue, it`s purple, right? That what we see for ourselves and hear
for ourselves is not true. That`s going to be a part of their strategy.

FINEMAN: Well, he`s trying to do on -- Romney is trying to do on the
domestic side of things, on the market and economic side of things what the
Republicans did to Mike Dukakis a generation ago. Remember, they had him
in the tank with the tank helmet and so forth.

O`DONNELL: Make fun of him, Howard.

FINEMAN: Right. They`re trying to say --


FINEMAN: No, no. They`re trying to say, Barack Obama is hopelessly
in over his head, he`s Mike Dukakis in the tank when it comes to domestic
politics. Obama has got to answer that.

And I thought tonight, he did a pretty darn good job of it.

O`DONNELL: Karen, let`s listen to more of what President Obama said
tonight talking to people in his audience about giving them a realistic
kind of frame for how much progress he was capable of making in his first
term and how much time he needs to make progress. Let`s listen to this.


OBAMA: I know the last 3 1/2 years, four years have been tough. I
know there are times where we think, you know, change isn`t happening as
fast as we`d like. Remember what we said during the last campaign, I said
this was going to be hard. Change takes time. Sometimes it takes more
than a year, more than a single term.


O`DONNELL: Karen, it sound like he`s finding the language to re-
challenge his audience to get the strength up to go at this again, that
there`s more to do and it takes longer than four years.

FINNEY: Right. I mean, that`s why you hear people talking about it
took us eight years to get into the mess, it`s going to take more than 3
1/2 years to get out. I think it`s an important point he makes because a
lot of times what you hear on the GOP side is the metrics that they use,
like that 92 percent number, that ridiculous number that the Romney
campaign was trying to use last year, are a little bit inaccurate in terms
of and give a skewed picture of what`s really going on.

If they were smart today, they went to two states, Ohio and Michigan,
where the job numbers are actually looking better than they were when the
president took office and he can take some credit for that.

So, again, I think the point will be we`re moving in the right
direction. And he won`t jump up and down and hoot and holler like we know
we still have more do. We know it`s not as fast as we would like.

But, again, it`s hard to make people -- to ask people to change
coaches mid-game without a really good reason. I think if they feel --

FINEMAN: Yes, Lawrence, I would suggest he`s got do as much hooting
and hollering as he possibly can.

FINNEY: I disagree. If you hoot and holler and try to tell things
are better than they are, I think you lose credibility. That`s one of his
strongest assets.

FINEMAN: Yes. I don`t think you say they`re better than they are.
But you certainly brag about what ever scrap of progress you`ve made in
terms of policy or the economy. I thought he did a good job of that

O`DONNELL: I mean, Howard, would you characterize it as hooting and
hollering in a positive way, the way he was dealing with that crowd about
Osama bin Laden, that earlier tape that we saw. Is that the type of
rallying cry stuff you mean?

FINEMAN: Well, look, first of all, I misspoke. Barack Obama is not
the hooting and hollering type.

O`DONNELL: Yes, but you mean -- kind of raise the roof rhetorically.

FINEMAN: Yes. Raise it a little rhetorically. He talked about the
loans given to students. He talked about 2.5 million people under the age
of 26 on health care, (INAUDIBLE) plan.

He`s got a constantly repeat, call it what you will --


FINEMAN: -- whatever good he has done and whatever progress he has
made. I think the administration has done a terrible job so far of doing
that. And now, they`ve got to do that. It`s not enough to just say the
Republicans left us in a ditch and we`re climbing out. That`s not good

O`DONNELL: I think when he hits the strides in a speech where the
audience is rolling along verbally with him and they have their own oral
reaction to him and clapping reaction to him, that`s the spot in the Obama

FINNEY: Exactly.

O`DONNELL: -- speech where it`s really working.

FINNEY: And I think the point is, you know, in general, the point is
yes, tell your accomplishments, don`t back away, don`t back down from any
of them in any way, shape or form. But don`t overstate it. I think that`s
the balance that they have to walk, because the economy still is where it
is. And you can`t oversell it because, again, I think he would lose

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney and Howard Fineman, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.

FINNEY: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, what Republican vice presidential hopefuls are
doing trying to get Mitt Romney`s attention and approval. What happens
when a Mitt Romney endorser threatens the president of the United States?
Mitt Romney lies about the endorsement. That`s in the "Rewrite".

And there is a possibility that Mitt Romney just might make an
appearance on "Saturday Night Live". But even if he never does, he`s
already given us so much to remember. He`s made such a contribution to
American comedy already, and that`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney endorser Ted Nugent says he`s getting a visit
from the Secret Service tomorrow because of his threatening language
towards the president. And so, Mitt Romney is trying to rewrite that
Nugent endorsement. That`s coming up.

But first, Romney doesn`t just have trouble with irrelevant rock
musicians. The base isn`t that crazy about Romney. Never mind every other
voter they`re going to need to win. And so, they`re hoping to find a vice
presidential candidate to make up for the Romney problem in the Republican
ticket. That`s coming up next.



O`DONNELL: Those protesters were at a Romney event today highlighting
an issue the former Massachusetts governor admitted could spell doom for
us. Those are his words. Could spell doom for us. That`s his
unpopularity with Latino voters.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio stepped up to help Romney`s dream of
winning the election and fulfill Rubio`s dream of being the vice
presidential slot on that ticket. Rubio announced today that he`s working
on a Republican version of the DREAM Act that would allow young, illegal
immigrants to attend college in the United States, but it would not, would
not provide a pathway to citizenship like the Democratic version.

Here`s what Rubio had to say about the current "DREAM Act" in March on
FOX News.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: No, I support the idea behind the
DREAM Act to help the young kids. I don`t support the DREAM Act as
currently drafted, because it allows for chain migration, because it
creates a pathway to citizenship that could potentially encourage illegal
immigration in the future.


O`DONNELL: Meanwhile, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is trying to
clean up his image. His approval ratings took a hit after he signed into
law a controversial ultrasound bill earlier this year.

Now, the "Washington Post" reports that the term limited governor is
planning to air positive TV ads or in other words, campaign ads to be the
vice presidential nominee. Here`s what McDonnell had to say when asked
about the ads this morning on MSNBC`s "THE DAILY RUNDOWN."


GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: You know, you can`t believe
everything you read in the papers, Chuck.


MCDONNELL: I can only tell you that -- we don`t have any plans at
this point. But I tell you, we`re always looking for ways to get out the
positive message about what we`re doing in Virginia.


O`DONELL: Joining me now are: Alicia Menendez of, and
Krystal Ball, an MSNBC contributor.

Krystal, here`s a term-limited governor who I just can`t think of a
reason why he`d be spending money on TV advertising. What could that be?
I mean, can he TV-advertise his way on to the Republican ticket?

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: This guy has been so blatant about
how he`s actively courting the vice presidential nomination. I don`t know
if I`ve ever seen anything like it. But the bottom line is there is no way
that Bob McDonnell is going to be the V.P. pick.

O`DONNELL: Come on, he`s the governor of Virginia. They need to win

BALL: Right, right.

O`DONNELL: What could the problem me?

BALL: Well, let`s start with transvaginal probes.

O`DONNELL: Transvaginal probe, who is going to --

BALL: But even beyond that, if you put that aside which we won`t.
But even if you did, he wrote this thesis back in 1989 for Regents
University that among others called working women detrimental to the
family, railed against fornicators and homosexuals and talked about how
feminists were ruining the country and railed against, quote, "special
privileges" for unwed single mothers.

There is no way that Mitt Romney, given the overall climate
surrounding women and his numbers there and his aversion to risk, there is
no way he`s going to pick Bob McDonnell in my humble opinion.

O`DONNELL: Alicia Menendez, Marco Rubio seems to be helpful, trying
to come up with a Republican DREAM Act. But I`m having trouble figuring
out what the dream is in the Republican DREAM Act? It`s what, that you get
to go to college and then you can`t be employed in this country, that`s as
far as they let you go?

ALICIA MENENDEZ, NBCLATINO.COM: In fairness, your status gets
somewhat normalized. You can do norm things like drive, you can work here.
Those are big things.

That said, there are big problems with what we`re hearing is being
proposed, which is that these kids are not going to be able to become U.S.
citizens, which means we create a permanent second class of Americans that
exist in the United States and he says, well, some of them can become
citizens. But then it`s circumstantial. That`s not how you build good

The timing of this is incredibly suspect. We have a House where we
know this legislation won`t move. So, why is Marco Rubio now proposing it
in the Senate?

O`DONNELL: We heard that the fundraiser in Florida the other night
that we overheard what he was saying. He was actually saying to the rich
Republicans that they need some kind of Republican DREAM Act and here`s
Marco Rubio running out with one.

Let`s listen to what kind of a problem this presents for Romney,
though, with his very prominent endorser, Ann Coulter. Let`s listen to
what she has said about the way Republicans have handled immigration and
how important it is to her that Mitt Romney remains really tough on all
immigration issues.


ANN COULTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Romney of the four remaining is
the most conservative. He has the strongest position on illegal
immigration. After Obamacare, the single most important issue is illegal
immigration. If we lose that, the entire country goes the way of
California where no Republican will ever get elected.


O`DONNELL: Alicia, how can Romney move at all on this issue?

MENENDEZ: You got to give it to Ann Coulter, because she says what a
lot of people in the Republican Party are thinking.

You`re right. He comes into the election with a lot of baggage. He
has to pivot off of saying that he would veto the DREAM Act. He has to
pivot off of saying that he wants immigrants to self-deport.

He needs to distance himself from someone like Kris Kobach, who has
authored most of the anti-immigrant legislation in this country on a state
by state basis. He`s now saying, oh, he`s a supporter, he`s not an

And on top of that, he needs to find a positive message to sell to

So, that`s a pretty heavy lift.


O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Krystal.

BALL: I just wanted to underscore what Ann Coulter was saying there
because I think it`s so incredible and so cynical. She`s saying we can`t
take our eye off the ball on illegal immigration, because if we let these
Latinos start to vote, there`s no way Republicans can get elected anymore.

I mean, this is part of a cynical voter suppression strategy that
we`ve seen across the country. And that`s what she`s focused on. That`s
why Rubio`s plan pointedly does not allow citizenship so that they can`t
vote. That`s what this is all about.

MENENDEZ: And so that they can`t bring their mom and their dad and
their grandmother over. This is about family reunification and making sure
families aren`t together. This is about one individual getting through by
separating them from their communities and from their families.

O`DONNELL: All right. Let`s listen to the other vice presidential
candidate of the night. We`re examining the Rubio and McDonnell

Here`s Governor McDonnell this morning, answering the question of what
he would say if Mitt Romney asked him to be part of the vetting process.


MCDONNELL: I think anybody that gets a call from the nominee and says
you can help our party, you can help our country, of course, you would
consider it. That`s completely up to Mitt Romney. I`m not looking for
campaigning it or expecting it. So, we`ll see what happens. You`ll have
to ask Governor Romney what he`s planning to do.


O`DONNELL: He`s not looking for it. Come on. He`s not campaigning
for it.

BALL: Farthest thing from his mind really, Lawrence. I mean, he`s
humbly trying to do his job as governor of Virginia and running ads to
boost his popularity numbers -- even though he`s not running for

One interesting element here with Bob McDonnell, is he was actually
protected someone in Virginia by divided government. The Democrats had
control of the Senate until this year. They kept back a lot of the crazy
legislation. Consequently, he`s had pretty high approval numbers.

Since the Republicans have taken control of all of the branches of
government in Virginia and we`ve seen the crazy things like transvaginal
probes, Governor McDonnell`s popularity has plunged and clearly he`s
concerned about that clearly.

O`DONNELL: Well, let`s listen him talk about the transvaginal probe
issue. He defended himself on this one this morning. Let`s hear how this
would play in the campaign if this was the vice presidential nominee`s


MCDONNELL: Virginia joins 23 states with some form of ultrasound laws
as part of the statute to make sure that women have all the medical and
clinical and legal information that`s available prior to making what
everybody agrees is a life changing decision.


O`DONNELL: He`s so emphatic about this he managed to say it twice at
the same time.

Did we all get a double on that audio? In my earpiece I heard it

BALL: We did.

O`DONNELL: Alicia, would that work if he was out there, would that
get him through the election?

MENENDEZ: I don`t think so. I think an echo is what we`re hearing.
From other people in the Republican Party, you have Romney on stage with
the governor of Pennsylvania who had said don`t worry about these invasive
ultrasounds. Women who don`t like them, can just close their eyes as that
erases the entire debate.

I mean, Republicans have clearly decided that they`re getting the
married middle class/upper class women who traditionally have voted for
them and they`re simply not going to play among other demos within women.

O`DONNELL: OK. So, something really cool it turns out about this
vice presidential discussion is in the CNN poll. Who do you think in the
CNN poll most Republicans or most people would like to see as Romney`s
running mate?

I`ll cut to the answer. It`s no one we`ve been talking about.
Condoleezza Rice at 26 percent is the number one choice. She is my
favorite possibility. I would love to see her running in the vice
presidential slot.

MENENDEZ: You know, I think that her popularity and the possibility
of choosing her as a VP pick illustrates the problem that Mitt Romney has.
Because she`s actually pro choice and she`s said some favorable things
about civil unions for gay people as well.

She, I think, as a pro choice woman, would be very difficult for the
base to swallow once they learned about those positions. But she would be
very appealing to a general election audience. So Mitt Romney has to walk
this tightrope of trying to appease the base and continue to convince him -
- them that he`s on their side, while choosing someone who can appeal to a
broad electorate.

It`s almost an impossible task.

O`DONNELL: I just want to hear her answer questions about taxation
and Medicare and stuff like that. I mean, she could. It would be really
interesting. But the pro choice thing seems like a killer in that party.

Alicia Menendez and Krystal Ball, thank you both very much for joining
me tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

MENENDEZ: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Mitt Romney asked for Ted Nugent`s endorsement.
That`s Ted`s story anyway. And that`s now that Ted Nugent is about to have
a little session with the Secret Service with them asking about his
threatening comments about the president.

What`s Mitt Romney doing about the endorsement? He`s lying about the
endorsement. That`s in the Rewrite.

But first, a new video takes a look at what President Mitt Romney
would do to the Supreme Court. It`s frightening. And it`s an exclusive.
And it`s coming up next.


O`DONNELL: As I have said here before, the number one reason to vote
for president has always been and always will be --


O`DONNELL: You are voting for the person who will choose the next
Supreme Court justices, the most important appointed jobs that exist in
government, and arguably, at many points in our history, the most important
jobs in our government.


O`DONNELL: We`ve seen what kind of Supreme Court justices President
Obama has selected. But who would a President Romney send to the Supreme


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney would make the court even more hostile
to the rights of ordinary Americans.

ROMNEY: Now, let me note that the key thing I think the president is
going to do is going to be with the longest legacy, is going to be
appointing the Supreme Court and justices throughout the judicial system.
As many as half of the justices in the next four years are going to be
appointed by the next president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who has Mitt Romney chosen to help him pick his
nominees for the court?

ROMNEY: Very pleased this morning to announce that Judge Bork has
decided to join my campaign team. I wish he were already on the Supreme

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robert Bork, a legal activist so extreme, his own
Supreme Court nomination was rejected by a bipartisan coalition 25 years
ago in the Senate. Robert Bork defended poll taxes and literacy tests for
voters. And he called the Civil Rights Act unsurpassed ugliness.

He believes that politicians should be able to outlaw birth control.
He believes that the First Amendment shouldn`t apply to literature, art or

Bork believes that the Constitution`s promise of equal protection
doesn`t apply to women. He ruled that a corporation can tell its female
employees to be sterilized or be fired.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now for an exclusive interview is Maryland
State Senator, Jamie Raskin, author of the new report, "Borking America,
What Robert Bork Will Mean for the Supreme Court and American Justice."
He`s a Constitutional law professor at American University and a senior
fellow at People For the American Way, the organization that produced that
video that we just saw.

Jamie, I am shocked. I thought I knew the Robert Bork history, the
rough outlines of it. I had no idea that he was in favor of literacy tests
for voters, in favor of outlawing -- believes that the government can
outlaw birth control.

I`m just looking at what I just learned in your video. Here`s the
one, it just -- I can`t even fathom this. The First Amendment should not
apply to literature or art. Well, we`ve seen people try to have the First
Amendment, you know, overruled in literature and art. But he`s saying the
First Amendment should not apply to science.

What does he even mean by the First Amendment should not apply to

STATE SEN. JAMIE RASKIN (D), MARYLAND: Well, Lawrence, the position
he took on that was that the First Amendment is only about the core of
political speech. And this is a position, as far as I can tell, that he
held for decades.

Recently, he`s been saying that although he doesn`t think in principal
it applies to art and literature and comedy and so on, it`s too difficult,
as a practical matter, to disentangle what`s political and what`s not. So
he seems to have let that drop a little bit by the wayside.

In order to write this report, I went back and I read everything that
Robert Bork has ever written for publication, all of the books, all the law
review articles, all the op-eds. This was excruciating duty, I`ve got to
tell you. But it`s absolutely shocking the things that he stands for.

What`s even more shocking is that Mitt Romney, presumably having
researched this, would go ahead and appoint him as his key constitutional

O`DONNELL: You say that Robert Bork, he was a former federal judge at
one point, right?

RASKIN: Sure. He was on the D.C. Circuit.

O`DONNELL: The Circuit, right, right below the Supreme Court. He
ruled that a corporation can tell its female employees to be sterilized or

RASKIN: Well, what happened was there was a company that had a lot of
led in the air. And the secretary of Labor said that under OSHA, the
company essentially had to fix the workplace. The company said they wanted
to fix the workers. And they said to the women workers, either you get
sterilized or you`ve got to leave the job.

Bork agreed with the company and disagreed and overruled the secretary
of Labor in that case. There was a very interesting report done in 1987 by
Public Citizen scrutinizing the record of the Judge Bork on the D.C.
Circuit. And it found something very interesting, which is that in close
cases where the court was split, whenever a -- the government was in
litigation with a corporation, Bork decided with the corporation 100
percent of the time.

And when there was a split decision and the government was being sued
by workers or by consumers or by individual citizens, he sided with the
government. So corporations over government, government over people. That
pretty much synopsizes the Bork world view.

O`DONNELL: Back in 1987, as you say, People For the American Way
produced this video, also produced another video about Robert Bork, just to
show you how long Robert Bork has been scaring people. We`re going to look
at this one. This one was narrated by Gregory Peck.


last word on your rights as citizens. But the Senate has the last word on
him. Please urge your senators to vote against the Bork nomination,
because if Robert Bork wins a seat on the Supreme Court, it will be for
life, his life and yours.


O`DONNELL: As we know, Bork did not win the seat on the court. But
now Mitt Romney seems to want to shape the Supreme Court, if he`s
president, in the image of Robert Bork.

RASKIN: The stunning thing is that Bork faced rejection by the U.S.
Senate on a bipartisan vote of 58-42. In Bork`s radical move to the right
in the primaries, in order to try to head off the attack from Santorum and
Bachmann and so on, he decided to embrace Robert Bork.

I think it was a fateful decision because he can`t drop him now
because the right wing will absolutely explode over it. But when the
American public, especially women, face Robert Bork as the person who is
going to be hand picking Supreme Court justices and federal judges, the
public is going to rebel about it.

I mean, his views about women are absolutely retrograde.

O`DONNELL: Maryland State Senator and Constitutional law professor
Jamie Raskin, thank you for teaching me things about Robert Bork. I
thought I knew everything. I do not. Thank you very much for joining us

RASKIN: Pleasure is mine.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, how Mitt Romney is repudiating what one of his
coveted endorsers, Ted Nugent, said about the president, Well, actually,
of course, Romney is not repudiating Ted Nugent at all. He`s just lying
about how he got the Ted Nugent endorsement. That`s in the Rewrite.

And later, Mitt Romney still has to make a big decision about whether
he`s going to appear on Saturday Night Live. We`re going to show you the
comedic abilities of Mitt Romney coming up.


O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, Mitt Romney has a Nugent problem.


TED NUGENT, SINGER: Our president and attorney general, our vice
president, Hillary Clinton, they`re criminals. They`re criminals. It
isn`t the enemy that ruined America. It`s good people who bent over and
let the enemy in.

If the coyote`s in your living room pissing on your couch, it`s not
the coyote`s fault. It`s your fault for not shooting him. We are
patriots. We have Braveheart. We need to ride into that battlefield and
chop their heads off in November.

If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either
be dead or in jail by this time next year.


O`DONNELL: Now, presidents and good executives have to delegate.
Mitt Romney knows that. So Mitt Romney has delegated the crisis management
of his Nugent problem to Ted Nugent, who today tried to explain himself to
friendly interviewers.


NUGENT: If it wasn`t for the federal government, my life would be
perfect. Bottom line is, Glenn, I`ve never threatened anybody`s life in my
life. I don`t threaten. I don`t waste breath threatening.

I just conduct myself as a dedicated we the people activist.

I`m a nonviolent guy. I don`t threaten. I wouldn`t waste my time
threatening. I`ve never threatened anybody`s life in my life. I will not
threaten anyone`s life. I certainly wouldn`t threaten the life of the
president or anybody in public office or anybody anywhere.

I`m a black Jew at a Nazi Clan rally.


O`DONNELL: That guy knows something about damage control. And the
only thing about Ted Nugent that seems to bother the Romney campaign is
Nugent`s claim that Romney solicited Nugent`s endorsement. Ted Nugent
announced his endorsement on Twitter on March 2nd, "after a long heart and
soul conversation with Mitt Romney today, I concluded this good man will
properly represent we the people, and I endorsed him."

The very same day, Romney`s son Tweeted, as we reported last night,
"Ted Nugent endorsed my dad today. Ted Nugent, how cool is that. He joins
Kid Rock as great Detroit musicians on Team Mitt."

Proving that Team Mitt knows nothing about what is cool and what a
great Detroit musician is. And now the Romney campaign is, in effect,
calling Ted Nugent a liar, saying that`s not how it happened.

The Romney campaign told NBC News that they never solicited Ted
Nugent`s endorsement. And earlier today while walking the rope line at a
campaign event, Mitt Romney would not answer when asked three separate
questions about Ted Nugent by an NBC News reporter with the Romney

But on March 2nd, the day Nugent endorsed Romney, one reporter for the
"Texas Tribune" talked to Ted Nugent to find out who called who. And this
afternoon MSNBC`s Martin Bashir talked to that reporter.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got a phone call and to his surprise, it was
Mitt Romney. He took the opportunity to solicit Romney`s pledge that there
would be no restrictions to the Second Amendment under his presidency. And
at that point, Nugent decided to give him his endorsement.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC ANCHOR: So Reid, just to be specific and clear
and categoric, so there`s no ambivalence, Mr. Romney called Ted Nugent and
asked for his endorsement, yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That`s exactly how Nugent portrayed it on
the day he gave the endorsement.


O`DONNELL: And so tonight, America has a difficult choice. Which one
of these liars is lying about how one of the liars decided to endorse the
other liar?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Saturday Night Live," you`ve been asked. Are
you going do it?

ROMNEY: I hadn`t heard that we were asked until I read about it over
the weekend. So I`ll take a look at that. That sounds like a lot of fun.
Why not? I haven`t made a decision on that, just heard about it. Of
course, it would depend on the nature of the skit. I want it to be funny.


O`DONNELL: Well, if Mitt Romney turns down "Saturday Night Live," at
least we`ll always have this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us something that we may not know about the

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: Well, I think people don`t
appreciate actually his sense of humor.

ROMNEY: I should also tell my story. I`m also unemployed.

A. ROMNEY: He actually is a very funny guy.

ROMNEY: Who let the dogs out, who, who.

A. ROMNEY: He plays a lot of tricks all the time.

ROMNEY: Much closer, much closer.

A. ROMNEY: He`s actually laughs most of the time.

ROMNEY: I live for laughter.


ROMNEY: You know, in debates, you get asked questions, you answer the
questions. You don`t tell jokes.

I`m Mitt Romney and yes, Wolf, that`s also my first name. I`m --

You don`t tell jokes.

Ten thousand bucks? Ten thousand dollar bet?

I`m running for office, for Pete`s sake. I can`t have illegals.

Rick, I`m speaking. I`m speaking. Rick. Rick.

Anderson? Are you just going to keep talking?

You don`t tell jokes. I actually like jokes as well as things that
are sort of fun.

I like being able to fire people that provide services to me.

A number of times, rodent and rabbit hunter. I also hunted quail.

Things I like best, cars and sport.

I love cars. I love American cars. I like seeing the lakes. I love
cars. I love the lakes. I love you. I like it all.

Any old girlfriend here? Oh, have to be careful. Ann`s not here
today. Don`t tell.

That sound like a lot of fun. Most of our dinner table events were
involving humor of one kind or another, most of which can`t be repeated on
the air.


ROMNEY: Strange things are happening to me.

Oh, beautiful for spacious skies

I`m learning to say "y`all."

Morning y`all.

I like grits.

I got started right this morning with a biscuit and some cheesy grits.

Strange things are happening to me.

Above the Fruited Plain.

It seems right here. Trees are the right height.

America --

Corporations are people, my friend.

America --

I`m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.

(singing): God send his grace on thee.

Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually.

And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shiny sea.

As George Costanza would say, when they are applauding, stop, right?


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney gets the last word. "THE ED SHOW is up next.


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