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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

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Guests: Steve Kornacki, Richard Wolffe, Krystal Ball, Norm Ornstein, Fred Karger, Meghan McCain, Jonathan Capehart


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Move over, Bill Clinton. The Obama
reelection campaign has a new surrogate speaker. Make room for Newt
Gingrich.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m Newt Gingrich
and I`m announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Newt Gingrich.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Newt Gingrich.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt Gingrich.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gingrich.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gingrich.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gingrich.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suspending his campaign.

UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: Finally calling it quits.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: With the longest good-bye in political
history.

GINGRICH: Today, I`m suspending the campaign.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Newt, we knew you.

GINGRICH: I could neither predict the low points or the high points.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think he ever got his mojo back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he at times his own worst enemy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s the person to blame.

GINGRICH: Don`t try to blame somebody else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He controlled his own destiny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt didn`t have much of a chance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not once but twice he was elevated to frontrunner
status.

GINGRICH: I`m committed to going all the way to Tampa.

We`re going to go all the way to Tampa.

We will be in Tampa as the nominee in August.

I`m suspending the campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The campaign which was clearly over a month
ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney and his super PAC spent $15 million to $20
million destroying Newt Gingrich.

GINGRICH: We can`t truly be Americans if we have amnesia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?

GINGRICH: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does Newt Gingrich get all of that back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a hot and heavy campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a hot and heavy campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt Gingrich showed a lot of great bravado.

GINGRICH: We will have the first permanent space on the moon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s an idea person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a visionary.

BASHIR: It`s been a glorious rise for Newt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The game is not over yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think he`s going quietly into that night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said a lot and done a lot over the years.

GINGRICH: You`d choose to start the debate with this.

Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney?

Don`t try to blame somebody else.

The odds are very high I`m going to be the nominee.

I`m committed to going all the way to Tampa.

We`re going to go all the way to Tampa.

TODD: Newt, we knew you.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Today is a day in presidential campaign history that
history will soon forget.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: In a real sense, we could be free of both radical Islam,
Saudi kings, and Chinese bondholders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And we are now free of Newt Gingrich, who because he
apparently recently learned to count, is no longer so confident about his
future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: I`m going to be the nominee.

We are going to win and we will be in Tampa as the nominee in August.

By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base
on the moon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: By the end of my second term.

Gingrich may be gone but his contribution to the presidential
campaign will not be forgotten, especially his contributions to the Obama
re-election campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: As a man wants to run for president of the United States,
who can`t be honest with the American people, why should we expect him to
level about anything if he`s president?

You certainly have to say that Bain at times engaged in behavior
where they looted a company, leaving behind 1,700 people.

There was a pattern in some companies, a handful of them, of leaving
them with enormous debt and then within a year or two or three, having them
go broke. And that is something he ought to answer.

I don`t know of any American president who has a Swiss bank account.
I`d be glad for you to explain that sort of thing.

The Romney machine can drive down turnout, run over opponents with
negative ads. It doesn`t seem capable of inspiring positive turnout. And
the result is I think very, very worry some if you`re thinking about the
fall campaign.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Is he still the most anti-immigrant
candidate?

GINGRICH: I think of the four of us, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?

GINGRICH: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Newt Gingrich could not bring himself to endorse Mitt
Romney today, even though Gingrich has already lost his two most prominent
endorsers, Rick Perry and Herman Cain, who have embraced the reality of
Mitt Romney as their party`s nominee.

This -- this is the best Newt could do for Mitt today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: As to the presidency, I`m asked sometimes, is Mitt Romney
conservative enough? And my answer is simple -- compared to Barack Obama?
You know, this is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan. This
is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical, leftist president in
American history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Any political media today controlled by Newt Gingrich is
an odd one. Mitt Romney issued a statement about Newt today that was
presented on FOX News this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS: Mitt Romney has released a statement on the
departure of Newt Gingrich from the campaign. It reads, in part, "Ann and
I are proud to call Newt and Callista friends. We look forward to working
with them in the months and years ahead." That from Mitt Romney.

Politics is weird and creepy. And now I know lacks even the loosest
attachment to anything like reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And now for more weird and creepy, joining me now are
Steve Kornacki, a political columnist for "Salon" and MSNBC analyst, and
Richard Wolffe, an MSNBC political analyst.

And, Steve, as Shep says, politics is weird and creepy. So, we will
now spend a few minutes discussing the weird and creepy, starring Newt
Gingrich.

Mr. Alec Baldwin sat in that chair last night and said, all you have
to do in the Obama campaign is run Newt Gingrich stuff, which they are now
doing.

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Well, you know, that`s what so
interesting to me, because it`s customary in any presidential campaign,
even in a presidential primary in the same party, harsh words are going to
be exchanged. There`s going to be attacks and all of that.

But what Gingrich said about Romney the past few months stands out
for two reasons. One, unusually vicious personally. He called the guy a
liar. But number two, a lot of the attacks were actually basically the
same attacks that Democrats want to be making against Mitt Romney this fall
-- all the stuff about Bain, all the stuff about the Swiss bank account.

You know, one of the first Obama ads that came out yesterday involves
a Swiss bank account. And what I think about is, if there`s a parallel
here, it`s 1980. When Jimmy Carter was the Democrat, a candidate against
Ronald Reagan, in one of the most devastating general election ads really
that I`ve ever seen was run by Ronald Reagan and all they did was they took
30 seconds of Ted Kennedy, from the Democratic primaries, against Carter,
railing against Jimmy Carter and his failure as president, there was the
ad.

O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, to be fair to Newt Gingrich --

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

O`DONNELL: -- and there`s no reason not to be, certainly not at this
stage -- everything he said about Mitt Romney was a legitimate shot in the
presidential campaign. I don`t remember him taking any cheap shots.

WOLFFE: No. And he had good reason to be disdained about the kind
of treatment he had. Of course, the irony of his animus against Mitt
Romney was that he was the guy who has done more than anyone else,
singlehandedly almost, to create the political destruction in this country
and has delighted in tearing people down and not engaging in politics of
the art of the possible, but actually as a permanent campaign on those what
precisely the tactics that were poured and heat upon his head and they did
him in.

So, yes, all of his defense, his counter attacks, yes, they were
grounded in more reality than that statement we heard from Mitt Romney
today. But the tactics that killed him and they were tactics that he
developed and honed ands unleashed on American politics for much, much
bigger deal and goals and damage to our society than, frankly, this
election campaign.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to the last thing that President Obama said
about Newt Gingrich, which was actually at the White House correspondents`
dinner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, I know at this
point many of you are expecting me to go after my likely opponent, Newt
Gingrich. Newt, there`s still time, man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Steve, Newt should know that by Saturday night, in fact,
long before that, he`d become a joke. And so, today when he comes out
there to do his farewell announcement, he maybe should have written
something down instead of this wild Gingrich stream of consciousness, this
is how weird and creepy I can be as Shepherd Smith picked up on.

KORNACKI: You`ve got to stick with your brand.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: And he`s an anti teleprompter brand. Yes.

KORNACKI: He did -- he did make one concession to reality, though.
He said in the year 2020, and the end of the Mitt Romney term, he thinks he
will be too old to be viable as a presidential campaign again. So, Newt
Gingrich did concede that the Gingrich 2020 campaign is probably not going
to get off of the ground.

O`DONNELL: Here was the -- I want to go back to the original burst
of I guess possibly honesty in Newt`s case that spells trouble for his
campaign. He was on "Meet the Press" with David Gregory a year ago and
this was his first big problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: I don`t think right wing social engineering has any more
desirable than left wing social engineering. I don`t think imposing
radical from the right to the left was a very good way for free society to
operate. I think we need a national conversation to get to a better
Medicare system with more choices for seniors.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting, which
is completely changing Medicare.

GINGRICH: I think -- I think that is too big a jump. I`m against
Obamacare, which is imposing radical change, I`m going to be against a
conservative imposing radical change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, it is kind of a miracle that after
calling the beloved, you know, Ryan plan, right wing social engineering,
that Newt Gingrich could actually recover in this campaign to the point
that he was the front-runner against he Mitt Romney candidacy that for a
while the Republican Party really didn`t want to see make it all the way.

WOLFFE: Right, because if there`s one thing more weird and creepy
than Newt Gingrich, it`s actually the multiple personality disorder of the
sort of the Republican Party.

You know, how could someone so wrong be so right? His critique of
the Ryan plan was spot on. But, of course, his critique of the president,
he just went out and called him the most radical, leftist president in
American history, and this is barely 24 hours after President Obama says
we`re going to be in Afghanistan until 2024, not a very good radical
leftist. In fact, a failure at being a social radical.

You know, he had moments of lucidity as some old people do, and he
had these moments were he was completely blind to what on earth was going
on in front of him. You have to be quite selective about these quotes if
you`re going to use them from Chicago, by the way, because some of them go
right off the rails.

O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, I assume the Mitt Romney campaign doesn`t
care what Newt Gingrich says at this point forward, doesn`t care if he
endorses, doesn`t he care if he -- you know -- I mean, he will at some
point endorse but they don`t care.

KORNACKI: No, no, no. Absolutely. And I think that`s the one
solace that they can take, about how this played out is the Newt Gingrich
2012 campaign was the triumph of political science, which is always told as
that, yes, there`s all the voters who pick in the primaries. But really
it`s sort of the party elites, the fundraisers, the elected officials, the
party leaders, the activists. And they made it clear, every time Newt
Gingrich moved up in the polls, whatever the sort of party elites thought
about Mitt Romney, they were terrified of the idea that Newt Gingrich being
their leader. They didn`t want Newt Gingrich to be their leader and that`s
why every time he moved up in the polls, the first thing they did was knock
him down and so he has very little standing.

O`DONNELL: The big names in Washington came out and said, in effect,
Newt is crazy.

KORNACKI: Absolutely.

O`DONNELL: They went on the record saying, don`t go with this.

KORNACKI: Whatever lack of enthusiasm there was for Romney, there
was total enthusiasm for making sure Newt Gingrich did not lead this party.

O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe and Steve Kornacki, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

WOLFFE: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, more on the Gingrich effect -- including how
Newt destroyed he Founding Father`s vision of Congress. Krystal Ball and
Norman Ornstein will join me.

And how Republican Party gay bashers targeted the Romney campaign and
forced an openly gay member of the Romney team to resign.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, you are going to hear the vicious
Baptist pastor who advocated child abuse in his Sunday sermon. He has
apologized today. That`s in the "Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Newt Gingrich today mourned for a broken Washington. Why
isn`t he proud of the fact that he`s the one who broke it? That`s coming
up.

And the politics of obliviousness. What Ann Romney`s $1,000 t-shirt
tells us about the Romney`s understanding of real life in America today.

And in the "Rewrite", on Sunday, a Baptist pastor said -- and you`re
going to hear, you`re going to hear him say this, he said that you should
punch a 4-year-old boy if he has a limp wrist. And he had other really
disgusting ideas about little girls. He issued a written apology today.
And he lied in writing on church stationery. That`s in the "Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: This may be too big of a challenge even for somebody who
used to be speaker of the House. But we need to have a national discussion
about how to get Congress to be effective. Congress has decayed
dramatically in the last 20 years. The Senate in particular has become a
stunningly dysfunctional institution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was the disgraced former speaker of the House today,
choosing not to mention his role in launching Congress on its way, to this
year, achieving the worst approval rating in Gallup polling history.

In a new book entitled it`s even worse than it looks. It says,
"Gingrich crystallized the approach of crafting a cohesive parliamentary
style minority party and using it as a battering ram to stymie and damage a
president of the other party. One has to look back to Congress as the
singular political figure who set the tone that followed."

Joining me now is Democratic strategist and MSNBC contributor Krystal
Ball and, Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise
Institute, and the co-author of, "It`s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the
American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of
Extremism."

Thank you both for joining me.

Crystal, here`s Newt Gingrich who, as Norm tells us and I think we
all have known, was the original guy in terms of, shut it down, like do
whatever you have to stop this Congress from passing more laws because we
don`t need any and now he`s staying, how do we fix this?

KRYSTAL BALL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, you know, I`ve been
thinking about this. In a weird way, if he were actually sincere about
saying it, it would make sense. It would be like hiring the criminal who
broke into the bank to find all of the other bank robbers.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

BALL: Right? But something tells me that he`s not actually sincere
about making the changes that we need to be made to the Congress.

I mean, the interesting thing about the Republican Party and I think
what Norm points out so well, is that when Newt Gingrich set his mind to
take control, he used these sort of insurgent gorilla tactics that were
very successful in terms of taking power and control. Well, they are still
using those same insurgent, divisive, uber partisan, extreme tactics and it
doesn`t work when you`re part of a country.

O`DONNELL: Norm, Newt got elected into a House of Representatives
that never expected to be in Republican control again. The Democrats held
it for 40 years.

But you knew him early on. Did he really believe that they were
going to win back the House?

NORM ORNSTEIN, AUTHOR: Yes. I met Newt in 1978. My author, Tom
Mann and I started a series of dinners with members of the new class coming
in. Every six weeks or so, we would get together for an informal off-the-
record discussion. And it was Newt, it was Dick Cheney, it was Geraldine
Ferraro among them.

And Newt, from the beginning had his full blown strategy and tactics
set for how they could break what was a 24-year stranglehold of Democrats
in the majority. It took him 16 years. He knew full well what he was
doing and he persevered.

And I do think -- I would say to a little bit of balance on Newt, I
don`t think it worked that way for him. He wanted to destroy the
institution and then have it remade in his own image.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

ORNSTEIN: But the progeny that he believed everything that he said,
even if he didn`t. And what he did was to unleash a group of Frankensteins
who continue to roam around the landscape and destroyed American civility
and the opportunity for compromise.

O`DONNELL: And I count Rush Limbaugh among his prodigy. I don`t
think there could be a Rush Limbaugh without the Gingrich leading the way
on the kind of thinking that Rush throws out there.

Let`s listen to Rush talking about political partisanship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: They are not interested in
truth. They are not interested in reality. Their political partisanship
and making their case in their own minds and is all that really matters to
them.

And since the Republicans took over the House, the Democrat-
controlled Senate has barely taken up a single House bill. The best that
can be hoped for right now is gridlock, bring a stop to everything that
Obama wants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Krystal, it sounds like Newt`s dream come true.

BALL: I mean, that`s their view. And you listen to the rhetoric
from Rush and many others like him and you just have to shake your head and
go, what planet are they living on? I mean, let`s all recall -

ORNSTEIN: Living on the moon.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

BALL: We wish, right? Let`s all recall that last summer, this is
the party that nearly forced for no reason, a default, the first ever in
America history, and did actually force a downgrade of our credit, just to
be a point, just to be obstructionist, just to ding this president. It`s
unbelievable and it`s unprecedented.

O`DONNELL: Norm, you got a lot of attention, along with Tom Mann,
you co-authored this piece on "Washington Post" this week, about how this
government is stuck.

Headline, let`s just say it, the Republicans are the problem.

ORNSTEIN: And I have to say, Lawrence, it`s not that Democrats are
angels here. It`s not as if we have a party --

O`DONNELL: Listen, I know you`re nonpartisan history. That`s why
this is so striking to me that it`s not easy for you to come to the writing
of that story, that the Republicans are the problem.

ORNSTEIN: But what`s become clear, is that we have -- in a
parliamentary-style system, one party that`s become an insurgent outlier,
and the goal has not to try and find ways to solve problems now, it`s to
throw a wrench into the system with consequences that they are willing to
take, including the default, so that they can take overpower and do what
they want to do.

But it`s a very different Republican Party that we`ve seen before.
And, frankly, it goes beyond ideology. There are plenty of very strong
conservatives who are problem solvers, but there are people like Bob
Bennett and Dick Lugar. And those are people who are on their way out and
others who might even feel that way who are inside are intimidated so that
they join with the crowd.

You look at all the filibusters supported by every single member of
the Senate, of the Republican Party, including in areas where they have
strongly supported in the past. We point out instances where you have co-
sponsors of bills voting against their own bills so that they don`t give
any credit to the president.

The ideas don`t matter. It`s who is espousing them. And that`s just
different from what we`ve seen.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Norm Ornstein, for tonight`s note of hope,
"It`s Even Worse Than It Looks." Maybe that should be the new title of the
show here, "It`s Even Worse Than It Looks" -- Krystal Ball and Norm
Ornstein, thank you both for joining me tonight.

ORNSTEIN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, it used to be the cars a candidate drove,
that`s all they had to worry about. Now, it`s everything, including the
candidate`s wife`s clothing. Ann Romney`s $1,000 t-shirt is tonight`s item
in the politics of price tags.

Mitt Romney says he has no problem with hiring gay people but his
party certainly does. Why the Romney campaign`s newly hired openly gay
foreign policy adviser had to quit. That`s coming up.

And a Baptist pastor who tells his congregation how to vote also told
them and you will hear him say this, he told them that they should beat
their 4-year-old sons if they suspect there is something feminine about
them. The pastor apologized today but when you hear his sermon, you might
find that his apology just isn`t good enough. That`s in the "Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: You`re going to hear a sermon tonight by a Baptist pastor
that will disgust you. It really will. He advocates punching a 4-year-old
boy if the boy let`s his wrist go limp. He talks about how little girls
should smell.

This is really sick stuff that you`re about to hear and he also, that
same preacher, tells his congregation how to vote. That`s in the
"Rewrite."

And a foreign policy adviser was pushed out of the Romney campaign
because he is openly gay. Fred Karger, the first openly gay Republican
candidate, will join me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I do not believe in discriminating against people based upon
their sexual orientation. There`s some people that do. I had a member of
my administration, my cabinet who was gay. I didn`t ask justices that I
was looking to appoint, rather, people who were applicants for jobs what
their sexual orientation was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Mitt Romney at a presidential debate in December.
Yesterday, Rick Grenell, who was hired only two weeks ago to be the Romney
campaign spokesman on foreign policy, resigned and issued this statement:
"my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly
diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that
sometimes come from a presidential campaign. I want to thank Governor
Romney for his belief in me and my abilities, and his clear message to me
that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team."

The Romney campaign insists that Rick Grenell was not pushed out for
being openly gay. But Bryan Fischer of the right-wing American Family
Association is claiming victory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRYAN FISCHER, AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION: So ladies and gentlemen,
this is a huge win. And it`s a huge win for us in regards to Mitt Romney,
because I will flat out guarantee you, he is not going to make this mistake
again. There is no way in the world that Mitt Romney is going to put a
homosexual activist in any position of importance in his campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The case of Rick Grenell is the latest controversy
involving Romney campaign staff and may help some forget an earlier Romney
staff controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Well, I think you
hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It`s almost
like an Etch-a-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over
again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The Romney campaigns` Etch-a-Sketch man had this to say
about Rick Grenell today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FEHRNSTROM: We tried to persuade him to stay. He felt for his own
reasons that he couldn`t serve effectively. And we were disappointed that
he decided to resign.

I can`t speak for Rick. But I think that he felt that his
effectiveness was going to be compromised, that he couldn`t carry out the
job the way he wanted to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Fred Karger, the Republican presidential
candidate and gay activist. Fred, does it surprise you that the Romney
campaign would hire an openly gay staffer two weeks ago and not be able to
hold on to him, that the pressure would build to him to this point?

FRED KARGER (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yeah. I mean, it`s a very
sad day for this country, that a bigoted bully like Brian Fisher can force
a campaign like Mitt Romney`s, who was trying to extend an olive branch to
the LGBT community with a brilliant appointment of an immensely qualified
foreign policy expert, Rick Grenell, to have to let him go.

I`m not sure I buy Eric Fehrnstrom`s comment on that. I think that he
was forced out.

O`DONNELL: "The Huffington Post" reports today, speaking to a Romney
campaign source, saying "the main source of the criticism was from a person
on the far right that Romney had taken on before. The Romney source said
the far right source is Bryan Fischer" -- that`s the man we just saw on the
video. "Brian Fischer, with the American Family Association, who Romney
did condemn last October for poison language. Romney`s criticism at the
time was not over sexual orientation, however, It was over Fischer`s
criticism of Mormonism."

So Fred, we have Mitt Romney willing to stand up to Fischer`s
criticism of Mormonism, but not willing to stand up for him over the hiring
of a gay staffer.

KARGER: It`s just very odd, because he`s obviously no friend of Mitt
Romney`s. He`s a bully. This American Family Association, for whom
Fischer works, is a known hate group. How can anybody listen to the
language of a hate group, as some of these other critics of Rick Grenell
are, like the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins.

This is a man who is a distinguished American diplomat. He served at
the U.N. under George H. Bush for eight years, under three United States
ambassadors, did an incredible job as communications director. And he was
an asset to the Romney campaign. And I`m very disappointed in Governor
Romney, that he caved in to this far right Bryan Fischer and some other
pressure.

Who knows. Maybe Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich, but he must have
gotten a lot of pressure in order to let Rick Grenell go.

O`DONNELL: Fred Karger, I`m willing to take Mitt Romney at his word
as expressed in that December presidential debate, when he said he would
not discriminate against gay people in hiring. He didn`t. He hired a very
prominent and openly gay staffer two weeks ago. He made good on what he
said in that debate.

But his word -- well, it -- I guess it depends here on whether Mitt
Romney was in any way involved in pressuring Rick Grenell to leave. Rick
Grenell publicly at this point is saying, no, he didn`t. And so it could
be that Mitt Romney stuck by his word all the way through the story, but
the pressures in the Republican party make Mitt Romney`s word, in effect,
meaningless.

KARGER: I worked for President Reagan for seven years on his campaign
and political side. He had openly gay advisers at the highest level. This
was in the 1980s. I think he`s turning over in his grave today.

This is -- this is despicable what is going on. And it`s not
necessarily the Republican party. I`m the first openly gay presidential
candidate of either party. The Republican party, from Reince Priebus, our
chairman, vice chair, state parties, county parties, have welcomed me.

The problem we have are these third party groups that have run amok,
the American Family Association, this National Organization for Marriage,
that all of these candidates signed this hateful anti-marriage pledge. And
we need to -- we need to cleanse the Republican party of this type of
bigotry.

This is not the Republican party that I am a part of. I`m a Clint
Eastwood Republican. Those are the kind of Republicans we need to bring
younger people in and to make this a majority party some day.

O`DONNELL: Fred Karger of the Clint Eastwood Republican party, thank
you very much for joining me tonight.

KARGER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up next, you will hear a Baptist pastor say things
more horrible than you can probably imagine. He says it in his church
sermon. And he has now apologized for it.

But when you hear what he says about beating a four-year-old boy, you
will probably not be ready to accept that apology.

And later, not all t-shirts are created equal. Ann Romney has one
that costs 1,000 dollars. And she made the mistake of wearing it on TV the
other day. Jonathan Capehart and Meghan McCain will join me on the
politics of price tags.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: And now it`s time for tonight`s Rewrite. Sean Harris, the
hate drive pastor of Berean Baptist Church on Glennsford (ph) Drive in
Fayetteville, North Carolina, has finally, after days of protest,
apologized for this sermon he gave this Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PASTOR SEAN HARRIS, BEREAN BAPTIST CHURCH: So your little son starts
to act a little girlish when he`s four years old and instead of squashing
that like a cockroach and saying man up, son, get that dress off you and
get outside and dig a ditch, because that`s what boys do, you get out the
camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female. And
then you upload it to Youtube and everybody laughs about it.

And the next thing you know, this dude, this kid, is acting out
childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.

Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping
the limp wrist, you walk over there and you crack that wrist. Man up.
Give him a good punch. OK?

You`re not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male.
And you are going to be a male. And when your daughter starts acting too
butch, you rein her in. And you say, oh, no. Oh, no, sweetheart. You can
play sports. Play them. Play them to the glory of God.

But sometimes you`re going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and
talk like a girl and smell like a girl. And that means you`re going to be
beautiful. You`re going to be attractive. You`re going to dress yourself
up.

You say, can I take charge like that as a parent? Yeah, you can.
You`re authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to
do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In his official statement of retraction entitled "official
statement of retraction," issued today, Sean Harris said he is retracting
any and all words that suggest that child abuse is appropriate for any and
all types of behaviors, including but not limited to effeminacy and sexual
immorality of all types. I should not have said what I said about
cracking, punching and particular bias toward outward attraction of girls.
Nor should I have used the world special dispensation.

"I did not say that children should be squashed."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Your little son starts to act a little girlish when he`s four
years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Wait, isn`t the four-year-old boy you`re talking about
there the cockroach that should be squashed? Sean Harris` statement of
official retraction also said, "I have never suggested children or those in
the LGBT lifestyle should be beaten, punched, abused physically or
psychologically in any form or fashion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist,
you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch.
OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A good punch. What kind of holy man, what kind of man of
God lies about what he says in a videotaped sermon when he is apologizing
for what he said in that sermon? He did say that if your son has a limp
wrist, you should punch him.

But on his Baptist church stationery, in his official retraction of
his statement, he lies about having said that. He also says in his
official statement, "I apologize to anyone I have unintentionally offended.
I did not say anything to intentionally offend anyone in the LGBT
community."

What does he sound like when he is intentionally trying to offend
someone?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: And when your daughter starts acting too butch, you rein her
in. And you say, oh, no. Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play
them. Play them to the glory of God.

But sometimes you`re going to act like a girl, and walk like a girl,
talk like a girl, and smell like a girl.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: "Smell like a girl." The child abuse advocating pastor
did not explain what smell like a girl means. Does he mean that he knows
little girls who don`t smell like a girl? What do they smell like? Does
he know how very, very sick that sounds?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: But sometimes you are going to act like a girl, and walk like
a girl, and talk like a girl, and smell like a girl.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Sean Harris asked for forgiveness in his statement of
retraction but he didn`t ask for everyone`s forgiveness, only Christians.
He said "to those in the greater body of Christ in Fayetteville, North
Carolina, and the world, I seek your forgiveness if I have offended or hurt
the cause of Christ."

So, if you`re Jewish and you are offended and hurt, he doesn`t care.
He`s not seeking your forgiveness. He lives in that world where only
Christians matter.

As to whether he hurt the cause of Christ, Professor Tony Cartilage
(ph), who got his doctor of divinity at Duke University, and who teaches
the Old Testament at Campbell University, near Fayetteville, told the
"Fayetteville Observer" that Sean Harris` sermon was, quote, "one of the
most disappointing and un-Christ-like diatribes I have ever heard. I would
not dishonor the word "sermon" by stating it as such. We have to state
unequivocally that Harris` position presents a distorted view of scripture
that is completely out of keeping with the teachings of Jesus."

And why did Sean Harris spew all this hate?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: My job this morning, my objective this morning is to so
motivate you that you will make it your priority to register a cast a
ballot in the next eight days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The presidential primary in North Carolina is next week.
I wonder who the hateful champion of child abuse wants you to vote for?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: I still look at him like as the boy
that I met in the high school, when he was playing all the jokes and really
just being crazy, pretty crazy. And so there`s a wild and crazy man inside
of there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: It turns out the craziest thing about that Romney TV
appearance was the shirt Ann Romney chose to wear. It was instantly
recognized by the fashion cognizant as the Reed Autoban (ph) silk shirt,
part of the Reed Krakov (ph) 2012 Spring/Summer collection. And the shirt
is available to anyone for a mere 990 dollars, yet another example of how
out of touch the Romney family can be with how 99 percent of Americans
live.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: What is wrong with Mitt Romney? He`s
building -- he doesn`t have to build a 19 million dollar Taj Mahal in
Lahoya, California, does he? Couldn`t he just wait for that maybe a few
years? And now he`s got an elevator in his garage?

ROMNEY: I tell you what, 10,000 bucks, 10,000 dollar bet?

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I`m not in the betting business.

ROMNEY: Take a shot. Go for it. Take a risk. Get the education.
Borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Jonathan Capehart, "Washington Post"
opinion writer and MSNBC analyst, and Meghan McCain, columnist for "The
Daily Beast" and an MSNBC contributor.

Meghan, first of all, it`s a really ugly T-shirt. It`s just -- did
you like that thing?

MEGHAN MCCAIN, "THE DAILY BEAST": No, it`s not my style. But I think
what`s important to highlight about this is we have a First Lady who wears
$600 tennis shoes. She has custom designer clothes as well.

O`DONNELL: I believe the tennis shoes were 450 dollars.

MCCAIN: OK. Well, it`s more expensive than the shoes that I wear and
what the average American wears. But I think what Ann Romney needs to
remember is she is on the campaign trail, and she should probably be a
little bit more cognizant of the message she`s trying to put out, just
given the economic recession that we`re in, and everything going on.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Look, she should have been warned by some of these
things that came out against Michelle Obama, that look, people are watching
for the price tags. On clothing now they can tell. I trace the politics
of price tags to 1992.

I want to show you this piece from 1992, where Pat Buchanan, running
for president, got in trouble because of his Mercedes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pat Buchanan, it`s America first in his political
speeches, but a foreign-made car in his driveway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, it used to be all you had to do was
worry about your car. That was the only thing where everyone knew the
price tag and they knew what country it was from. And now you have your
1,000 dollar t-shirts and these identifiable watches.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Right.

O`DONNELL: And apparently the tennis shoes. If you`re going to wear
these things, people will know how much they cost.

CAPEHART: Right. Because people are looking to see whether the
people who are running to govern them can relate to them. And to take
issue for just a little bit with what Meghan just said, we do have a First
Lady that might wear 400 dollar tennis shoes, but we also have a First Lady
that shops at J. Crew.

(CROSS TALK)

CAPEHART: -- a First Lady who goes to Target. But Michelle Obama has
been photographed in her J. Crew outfits. And they sell out the moment
they are photographed. But where I agree with Meghan and with you,
Lawrence, is that on the campaign trail, you have to be very aware, very
cognizant of what you`re wearing and the message that you`re trying to
send.

Unfortunately for the Romneys, they are continually -- particularly,
Mitt Romney continually send the signal that they are somehow removed, out
of touch with the people that they hope to govern.

MCCAIN: Was this the smartest thing that she ever did? No, of course
not. But I don`t think we can demagogue their success. They`re wealthy
people.

(CROSS TALK)

O`DONNELL: No, there is no comparison between the wealth of the
Obamas, which was all --

MCCAIN: So the Romneys are bad people because they are wealthy?
You`re talking to a member of a wealthy family who was demagogued for the
same thing.

O`DONNELL: Romney`s kids have 100 million dollars. OK? Romney has
hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. That is different from the
approximately 10 million dollar net worth or so of the Obamas now, after
book sales and earned income from salaries. It is a very different level
of rich.

They are rich. The Obamas are rich. Absolutely. But Romney is mega-
rich, which means he`s got more to worry about in this category. He`s got
to be more sensitive in this category.

MCCAIN: I agree. And if I were Ann Romney, I would tell her to stick
with white blouses and jeans from here on out.

O`DONNELL: What about that, Meghan? On the campaign, shouldn`t there
be someone saying, OK, you`re going on with Charlie Rose this morning on
the show, what are you wearing?

MCCAIN: This is something I am cognizant of. When I make speeches at
colleges across the country, I am cognizant of what kind of clothes I`m
wearing.

O`DONNELL: Isn`t there someone who is saying, what are you wearing,
and there is a reason to check that?

MCCAIN: I think ever since Sarah Palin and her stylist and all the
money that was, you know, spent on that, I think ever since then, every
woman in any kind of capacity in higher office, whether we like it or not,
we have to pay attention to the kind of clothes that we wear.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, THE LAST WORD`s fashion authority, and
Meghan McCain, thank you both very much.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: You know, I`ve talked to Norm Ornstein. We might be
changing the name of the show to the title of his book, "It`s Even Worse
Than It Looks" with Lawrence O`Donnell.

Meghan, again, thanks very much for joining me. "THE ED SHOW" is up
next.



END

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