'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
Guests: Steve Kornacki, David Corn, Alicia Menendez, Nia Henderson, Steve Kornacki, Lawrence Jacobs
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Indecision 2012 continues. Mitt Romney has
now completed his fifth day of having absolutely no idea what he thinks
about President Obama`s new policy on immigration, and that`s not the worst
part for Romney. This immigration thing is making it wicked hard for
Romney to continue to tell his lies about the president`s economic record.
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: The White House got a surprise boost
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: There is a fascinating new poll out this
BASHIR: A new poll by Bloomberg News.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: Surprisingly good news for the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A new Bloomberg News survey gives the president
a 13-point edge.
BASHIR: With a whopping 13-point lead.
SMERCONISH: President Obama with a huge lead over Mitt Romney.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: This is the widest spread we`ve seen in
quite some time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not going to ride up and down the poller-
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who wants four more years of
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forty-five percent of voters say they`re better
off since the president took office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Up and down the poller coaster.
BASHIR: The poll points to core strengths in the president`s re-
ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: How we see the future is imperative
that mitt win. It`s not even like a choice anymore.
MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: We`re doing this because of the
values we believe in.
A. ROMNEY: It`s not even like a choice anymore.
M. OBAMA: Everyone should do their fair share, but they should play
by the same rules.
JANSING: We got lots of new clues this morning on the Mitt Romney
MITCHELL: Is Mitt Romney considering an early pick for vice
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: First off, it`s none of your
M. ROMNEY: Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I don`t want to talk about the
process. I haven`t up to this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marco Rubio is a rock star in the Republican
CHRISTIE: You know, something may go down tonight, but it ain`t going
to be jobs, sweetheart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t lose sight of Tim Pawlenty.
TIM PAWLENTY (R), FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: Mitt Romney is going to
be a fantastic president.
JOE SCARABOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tim Pawlenty is at the front of the
SMERCONISH: All of this is to the benefit of Tim Pawlenty.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Tim Pawlenty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tim Pawlenty.
SCARBOROUGH: Tim Pawlenty.
O`DONNELOL: Tim Pawlenty, vice presidential slot.
PAWLENTY: I appreciate the tip of the cap that you`ve given me.
CHRISTIE: You should really see me when I`m pissed.
ANN COULTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If you don`t run Chris Christie,
Romney will be the nominee and we`ll lose.
O`DONNELL: Today, the Romney campaign continued to dodge questions on
Mitt Romney`s position on immigration as a new poll shows President Obama
widening his lead over Mitt Romney.
The Bloomberg poll of likely voters shows President Obama polling at
53 percent, a full 13 points ahead of Mitt Romney`s 40 percent. The Romney
campaign hosted a conference call with reporters today to discuss the
economy, but after the first three questions, the reporters asked were
about Mitt Romney`s position on the president`s position on immigration,
the Romney press aide, Kristy Campbell, decided the call was over.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KRISTY CAMPBELL: We`ll have more information in a run-up to the
governor`s speech tomorrow and he looks forward to addressing NALEO and
chatting about a number of issues, including how the president`s policies
have impacted the Hispanic community.
So with that, it sounds like we don`t have anymore questions on
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well played, Kristy Campbell. Mitt Romney will address
the Latino group tomorrow, a day before President Obama addresses that same
audience. The Bloomberg poll show -- try saying that, Bloomberg poll, try
saying it at home right now -- shows that 63 percent of likely voters agree
with the president`s new immigration policy, 30 percent disagree.
Last night, Sean Hannity asked Sarah Palin if she supported Mitt
Romney. Palin supported anyone but Romney during the Republican primaries,
but now, Sarah`s stuck.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: We have a presumption
nominee now in the GOP process, after a good, competitive, and very
spirited competition to find that presumptive nominee, and, yes, if that
vote were to be taken today, obviously, I would vote for president -- for
Governor Romney over President Barack Obama in a heartbeat. I wouldn`t
blink, because I go back to what I said at the beginning. Anybody but
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now are: MSNBC political analyst Steve Kornacki
and "Huff Post Live" host Alicia Menendez.
Alicia, a 13-point lead, where the heck did that come from?
ALICIA MENENDEZA, HUFF POST LIVE: Well, there are a lot of people who
are saying that this is an outlier. But regardless of whether or not that
13 points is an outlier, you see some big picture things we`ve been seeing
in every single poll, which is that your average swing voter likes
President Obama. They trust President Obama. They`re just not sure that
he can get the economy back on track.
And they do not like Mitt Romney. And they do not trust him either to
get the economy back on track.
And that`s sort of the fundamental decision that your average voter
feels like they`re making in this election.
O`DONNELL: Steve, one of the distinctions about this poll is that it
is likely voters. A lot of the polls, in fact, most of the polls that I`ve
been seeing so far have not been likely voters. And we tend not to start
polling likely voters until they`re promised that they`re going to be
likely voters is more real, like now, now that we`re getting closer to the
And so, likely voters is the only thing you want to poll in this
election. And we`re going to the see different numbers when you deal with
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: We are, but I do think it`s a little
early, and I think it`s still, we`re at the point where there`s so much
data out there that the best thing you can do is sort of average it all
together. The two things to look at obviously are the head-to-head race.
But also Obama`s approval ratings.
If you look at this poll, it finds the approval rating at 53 percent.
That`s really about five points higher than you`re getting in the average
of the other polls.
O`DONNELL: Let me run through, for the audience, the favorable and
unfavorable on this poll. The favorable for President Obama in this poll
is 55 -- no, I`m sorry -- yes, favorable, Obama, 55.
Romney, favorable -- I`ve got to look at the screen, because this
piece of paper is just wrong. Oh, yes, the Romney favorable is 39. There
you see the unfavorable, Romney`s unfavorable, higher than his favorable,
always a bad sign in politics.
Alicia, that`s the underwater phenomenon on favorability.
MENENDEZ: And it is a phenomenon we have become --
O`DONNELL: The hardest thing to deal, too. It`s the hardest thing to
go out there and campaign to change.
MENENDEZ: Especially, because we`ve talked about the fact that this
is a product of the way Republicans run their primaries. They are forced
to tack so far to the right on a variety of issues, including immigration,
which I know we`re going to talk about, that it makes them unpalatable to a
general election electorate.
O`DONNELL: And not just -- right. Savage each other. The ads that
Gingrich was able to afford to run against Romney on Bain, the ads that
Gingrich ran to destroy -- I mean, that Romney ran to destroy everyone that
he could destroy just -- it kind of just leaves them dead by the side of
You look back at that Democratic primary the last time around, it was
not at all inconceivable that Barack Obama could have found his V.P. from
the field he campaigned against, and in fact, he did.
KORNACKI: Right. But I would say --I mean, if you look at those
favorable numbers you just showed, that is basically putting Romney back
where he was at the worst moments of the primary.
I really do take these numbers with grain of salt, though. I think
what will be telling is there will be three or four new independent polls
in the next week. The experience of this campaign has been when you get a
poll like this, it`s either very good for Obama or very good for Romney.
The three or four next ones that come out put it back basically where
it`s also been, with an approval rating of 43 percent. I think that`s
probably still where we`re headed. The silver lining on that for Obama, if
you look historically, I think it`s still true that he`s doing better right
now than he probably should be given where the economy is.
O`DONNELL: Well, the only thing -- the polls we look at in the future
to compare to this one have to be of likely voters. If they`re not of
likely voters, they`re not going to be comparable.
The economic vision question on this poll, Obama, 49 percent approve
of his economic vision. Romney, 33 percent approve -- that is the entire
campaign for Romney, Alicia. If he can`t win that one --
MENENDEZ: Well, that`s because he hasn`t been able to articulate an
economic vision. Most of his articulation has been, I`m not Barack Obama,
I`m not going to do things the way Barack Obama has done them, and when he
does articulate them, they sound a lot like Bush policies and the American
electorate has not forgotten the economy that we inherited from the Bush
administration as much as Republicans with wish it were so.
So unless he finally comes out with something new, some true vision,
these numbers --
O`DONNELL: There`s a related number in this poll, Steve, about that
economic vision, that`s related to it in the sense, does this guy know the
price of milk? That old George H.W. Bush question. Out of touch is the
Only 36 percent in this poll of likely voters say that President Obama
is out of touch. That would be the Republican Party, basically, the 36
percent. Fifty-five percent say that Mitt Romney is out of touch in this
Again, that`s a very difficult thing to campaign your way out of.
KORNACKI: Well, yes. There`s that and there`s another interesting
number in here too. And again, even if this poll is an outlier and you`ve
got to end up dialing it back, there`s a question in there, are you better
off today than you were four years ago, and the verdict is 46 percent say
better, and 36 percent say worse off.
That`s kind of hard to believe, given that President Obama`s preside
offered a stalled, poisonous economy over for the last three and a half
years. And at the same time, you take that question and ask, do you like
the direction the country is going in right now? It`s 31 percent yes, 62
What that suggests to me is you balance those two things together,
that`s the Bush factor. That`s people saying, we understand where this
started, we understand there was a traumatic event, who was president,
which part he`s running the country, and he was dealt this hand as
president and they`re giving him a certain benefit of the doubt. Yes,
things are awful, but they are better.
O`DONNELL: Let`s look at the new ad that team Obama released today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Running for governor, Mitt Romney campaigned as a job
ROMNEY: I know how jobs are created.
NARRATOR: But as a corporate raider, he shipped jobs to China and
Mexico. As governor, he did the same thing, outsourcing state jobs to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Alicia, he couldn`t find -- Romney couldn`t campaign his
way out of that in Massachusetts when he was running for Senate against Ted
Kennedy, who tried a very similar a tactic.
MENENDEZ: And it`s funny, because we`ve heard the Washington elite
really hate this Bain Capital message. It`s not resonating with them, so
it can`t possibly be resonating with the rest of America, but it is, in
Women voters are really responding to it, because if the big selling
point with Mitt Romney is that he has corporate experience, he`s a business
man, and that`s why we`re supposed to trust him, to lead our economy into
the golden era, then we have to examine the type of business that he
practiced and whether or not that`s really applicable here, and that`s why
this commercial is effective. Because it shows you that it`s not.
O`DONNELL: Alicia Menendez, thank you for joining us in person for
your first time here at the world headquarters of THE LAST WORD.
And, Steve Kornacki, do not leave that chair. We`re going to need you
later for the breaking news segment about Chris Christie.
A LAST WORD investigation of a "New York Times" investigation of Chris
Christie means that I have a breaking news announcement for the political
media about Chris Christie`s political future. That`s from the same
political media that missed my announcement 223 days ago that Tim Pawlenty
is number one on Mitt Romney`s short list for the vice presidential
And in the "Rewrite" tonight, I`m going to the need a little help from
my TV friends to take on Sean Hannity. But they`re all busy right now, so
Jon Stewart`s going to help me. That`s in tonight`s "Rewrite."
O`DONNELL: Tim Pawlenty is back in the headlines today, with
political reporting that he is now at the top of Mitt Romney`s short list
for the vice presidential nomination. That puts "Politico" and the rest of
the media only 223 days behind THE LAST WORD. That`s how long ago I put
Tim Pawlenty at the top of Mitt Romney`s V.P. list, right here on this
And tonight, I will put Chris Christie at the bottom of Mitt Romney`s
And in the "Rewrite" tonight, it takes a big man to expose the lies of
Sean Hannity, so I`m going to let Jon Stewart do that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, Tim Pawlenty, vice presidential slot of the Republican
campaign, cannot be stopped. You`re going to be on that convention stage,
accepting the vice presidential nomination.
PAWLENTY: Lawrence, I`ve already said publicly and repeatedly, that`s
not something I`m going to consider.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was 223 days ago when former Republican vice
presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty made his last appearance on THE LAST
Today, "Politico" made this false report. "Tim Pawlenty has jumped to
the top of the vice presidential short list of several Mitt Romney advisers
after emerging as the most effective and well-liked surrogate for the GOP
nominee-to-be, according to several Republicans familiar with the campaign
That report is totally wrong, like totally crazy wrong. How could
they possibly report, as if it`s news today, that Tim Pawlenty has jumped
to the top of the vice presidential short list. Tim Pawlenty has note just
jumped to the top of the vice presidential short list, he has been number
one for 223 days -- ever since I officially put him there.
"Politico" is very proud of a quote they obtained from an unnamed
former Pawlenty campaign official. "They respect people who are loyal and
show up and work hard and he has done both in spades. From the perspective
of Boston, I think that really matters. On a personal level, folks really
like him. And he`s an articulate, effective, economical messenger for the
Well, no kidding. We`ve known that for 223 days. What do you mean,
folks really like him? Of course focus really like him, especially
Republican folks. I like him.
The unnamed Pawlenty confidant adds this in the "Politico" piece.
"frankly, in a lot of ways, he has been able to make the case for Mitt more
eloquently than sometimes he made the case for himself."
And so, Tim Pawlenty has found out what every candidate who drops out
of the presidential primaries finds out. It is much easier to run for vice
president than it is to run for president. Joining me now is Nia
Henderson, national political reporter for "The Washington Post" and David
corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC political
Nia, I hope "The Washington Post" is not treating this Pawlenty as
number one on the short list thing as news. It is very, very old news here
on this show.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: It is very old, and yes,
you are running those oldie but goody clips from November 2011, and
politico is just following you up, so late in this story.
You know, I have to say, this is something of a surprise in the sense
that I`m not sure what sort of case can be made for pawlenty as vice
president. I don`t know, in terms of where he fills in gaps that Mitt
Romney so clearly has on his record in terms of foreign policy, in terms of
being able to operate in Washington, work with the Senate.
And I also think one of Pawlenty`s chief problems, when he ran as vice
president, is that he came across more as a volleyball coach than
commander-in-chief. He couldn`t really fill the chair. That`s why you saw
him run so terribly, come in third in that Iowa straw poll.
But, again, I do think he`s a good talker. He speaks in sound bites,
and I think that`s something that Romney clearly likes and needs as a
surrogate, you know, in terms of being vice president. I don`t know. I`m
not convinced yet.
O`DONNELL: Well, David Corn, I approach these V.P. lists from the
first way I look at them is, first do no harm. And so I look at Marco
Rubio, I look at these different people and I say, what harm will this one
do or what serious problem does this candidacy have that can not be
And so I look at the problems that everybody else brings to that list
and I look at pawlenty and the problems he brings to that list are smaller
than any of the baggage that anybody else is bringing to that list.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: It`s like the movie, "The Man Who wasn`t
CORN: The man who`s not there doesn`t cause too many problems, right?
CORN: I mean, you know, even if he is a volleyball coach.
I mean, don`t we all remember those years when he was governor and
every American just thought, God, I wish I lived in Minnesota? And the
soaring rhetoric from the pre-Ames straw poll and that great video of him
I mean, he is about as uninspiring as Mitt Romney. But, so, he surely
wouldn`t outshine Mitt Romney, but I do think there is a tremendous deficit
there. It`s not as if he comes out any problems.
I mean, he is right. He doesn`t have any foreign policy experience,
Mitt Romney doesn`t. Usually that stuff, I think, is overrated by the
pundits and commentators when it comes to how voters approach these
But he doesn`t do any harm. He also adds nothing and it`s sort of
like doubling down on blandness, which maybe is a strategy. I don`t know
if it will work, though.
O`DONNELL: Nia, when we look at the big names on our big board here
in the studio for the Romney veep stakes, Rob Portman is up there, but he
brings you that problem of the bush administration and the deficit spending
in the bush administration.
You have Marco Rubio up there, who brings a set of problems that we
talked about here last night with his biographer, another "Washington Post"
colleague of yours.
Paul Ryan brings with him the Ryan budget.
Everybody on that list brings something with them that`s very, very --
that it seems to me in some way adds to Romney`s load.
HENDERSON: I think that`s right. And it`s a pretty weak field. And
what is striking --
O`DONNELL: Yes, it is. That`s why Tim Pawlenty`s number one. It`s a
HENDERSON: Right, right.
But I think what is striking to me about all of these choices is that
this could be the first time that we have a Republican ticket where no one
has foreign policy experience, there are no war heroes, there`s no one who
fought in a war like John McCain or Bob Dole.
And so, that`s very striking, that they could possibly cede foreign
policy that has very much been the bread and butter of many of their
candidates, that they could cede that almost entirely to President Obama.
O`DONNELL: David --
CORN: Where`s John Thune when we need him?
O`DONNELL: Well, John Thune is on the big board and he is a senator,
so technically he has foreign policy.
CORN: There`s a good dark horse candidate for you, Lawrence.
Every year, you know, every four years, we go through this. It seems
increasingly that the vice presidential pick becomes more a problem than an
If you go back to, you know, say Clinton picking Al Gore, that seemed
at the time to be kind of flashy. The two of them made sense together.
And I think Obama did go and do the do "no harm route" and pick Biden, it
sort of cut against his theme of hope and change in Washington.
But I think Biden`s been a damned good vice president and the two have
worked well. I don`t see Pawlenty being able to do that for Romney, should
they get to the White House.
O`DONNELL: By the way, just for the record on my vice presidential
predictions, I lost a very big bet to a friend of mine, this will require a
name drop, to Sean Penn, four years ago --
HENDERSON: Nice name drop!
O`DONNELL: No, no -- on who President Obama, then nominee Obama,
would pick for V.P. He picked Joe Biden months ahead of time, he was
completely right, I was completely wrong.
But tonight, I can`t be wrong. It`s going to be Tim Pawlenty. I just
Nia Henderson and David Corn, thank you very much for joining me
HENDERSON: Thank you.
CORN: Sure thing.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Chris Christie`s crony capitalism in New Jersey
is the latest problem that stands between him and the vice presidential
And Sean Hannity is back in the "Rewrite" tonight after he lied about
me on his show last night. Jon Stewart is going to help me expose Sean`s
methodology. And surely there`s someone on Sean`s staff who can explain to
him what the word "methodology" means. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: THE LAST WORD investigative unit has completed a one-day
investigation of "The New York Times`" ten-month investigation of Chris
Christie`s crony capitalism in New Jersey. And we now have an important
announcement to make, about Chris Christie`s political future. That`s
coming up next.
And Sean Hannity is back in the "Rewrite" tonight. This time, he`s
caught telling a huge lie about President Obama and a small lie about me.
Jon Stewart will handle the big lie, I`ll handle the small one. That`s in
O`DONNELL: After serving more than a year behind bars in New Jersey
for assaulting a former girlfriend, David Goodell was transferred in 2010
to a sprawling halfway house in Newark. One night, Mr. Goodell escaped,
but no one in authority paid much notice. He headed straight for the
suburbs for another young woman who had spurned him and he killed her, the
So begins a series of reports from "the New York Times" about the for-
profit system of halfway houses for prisoners in New Jersey. One of the
biggest profiteers in that system is William Palatucci. He is Chris
Christie`s close friend and campaign fund-raiser.
This episode of Christie crony capitalism is enough to destroy
Christie`s chances of being selected for the Republican vice presidential
nomination if he ever had a chance. Re-joining me now is MSNBC`s Steve
Kornacki, THE LAST WORD`s senior New Jersey political analyst.
Steve, I wanted you on set for this historic moment on the show,
because we`re going to put up the big board of our vice presidential
possibilities for Chris Christie. And I am officially going to put up the
very first X on that board, going across the Chris Christie slot. He`s out
of it. It`s hopeless. "The New York Times" had this story of someone
being killed as a result of this program, and another one.
This is the Willie Horton story on steroids. It`s the Willie Horton
story with profiteering in it for Christie`s friend, William Palatucci.
What can you tell us about Chris Christie and William Palatucci? You know
all these New Jersey guys.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah.
O`DONNELL: You have Palatucci`s cell phone number, I`m betting.
KORNACKI: Palatucci was very good to me in my New Jersey days.
O`DONNELL: Did he call you from pay phones or did you use your cell
KORNACKI: This was all on the up and up. And I`d be happy to tell
you the story of Bill Palatucci and Chris Christie, though. I think it`s
an interesting one. It explains everything about where Chris Christie is
O`DONNELL: By the way, you have exactly three minutes to try to get
that X taken off of Chris Christie on the board and get him restored to
life in the veep stakes.
KORNACKI: I don`t think I can.
O`DONNELL: Take your time. You have three minutes.
O`DONNELL: I don`t think I want to. I don`t think it`s possible.
But the relationship goes back just over a decade ago. And it`s hard to
believe now, but at the end of the 1990s, Chris Christie was absolutely
washed up in New Jersey politics. He`d been voted out of local office in
Morris County, and he was basically a has been and a joke.
His friend, Bill Palatucci, who was a veteran Republican political
operative, was tied in with the Bush world. So this was around 1998, 1999
and they`re getting ready to launch the George W. Bush 2000 campaign, which
is going to be the most lavishly funded presidential campaign you`ve ever
seen. So Palatucci goes down to Austin. He gets recruited and he comes
back and he gets his team together in New Jersey.
And who does he turn to? He turns to his friend Chris Christie. This
is the ultimate political rehabilitation, all behind the scenes for Chris
Christie. He becomes one of the most prolific Bush fund-raisers in 2000.
When that campaign ends, when Bush becomes president-elect, Palatucci, the
story goes, goes to the Bush folks and says, this guy is your next U.S.
attorney for New Jersey.
O`DONNELL: This is, in effect, through the campaign finance system,
the, in effect, purchase of a U.S. attorney nomination.
KORNACKI: The thing was, there was an uproar in like the legal
community in New Jersey, because Chris Christie was not a conventional pick
for this job. He was a lawyer, yes, but this is not a guy who`s background
suggests that this guy should be a federal U.S. attorney for New Jersey.
What he did with that job -- now, he got high marks, especially from the
press, because what we did with that job was he went after political
corruption intensely. Lots of high-profile convictions, indictments,
arrests, perp walks, all sorts of things like that.
Got a ton of publicity for himself. You can say, this was all playing
the long game for 2009 and running for governor. Really, yes, the U.S.
attorney normally in New Jersey would not be a natural candidate to run for
governor, but Chris Christie was a very visible attorney. So it was that
Bush role that Palatucci got for him way back that put him on course to
become governor, become governor. And now he`s a national figure.
O`DONNELL: Now I`m X-ing him out of because of THE LAST WORD`s
investigation of the "New York Times`" investigation of this crony
capitalism that involves life-or-death situations that turned out to be
death situations. This is just -- you can`t possibly get him past that.
But prior to that, did Christie really ever had any chance in this?
KORNACKI: I don`t think so. Because there have been signals out of
the Romney camp -- and you can take these with a grain of salt, but there
have been signals that they did not think Chris Christie was the kind of
team player that you would want to have as a vice president.
O`DONNELL: But what about in New Jersey? He`s got a 50 percent
approval rating. Shouldn`t you be stronger in your own state than that?
KORNACKI: Yes and no. But again, New Jersey`s a blue state. When he
won an election, the simple fact of him winning by 4.5 points in 2009,
that`s a landslide by Republicans standards in New Jersey.
O`DONNELL: So even those numbers show that he has appeal across the
Republican line, into the middle at least.
KORNACKI: He`s fairly well positioned right now, I would say fairly
well positioned to win re-election in 2013 in New Jersey. It would help
him a lot if Obama gets re-elected this year, because New Jersey has that
tendency to kind of go opposite of whoever just won the presidential race.
He does -- the thing about Christie is he really does enjoy being governor.
I think his long game is probably more 2016.
But you`re right, this story will not go away. This murder will not
go away. If he runs for president in 2016, this is something that will
O`DONNELL: "The New York Times" series is filled with stories of
escapes from these halfway houses that are owned by Palatucci. And they
don`t even have any attempt or even any method in place to stop escapes.
KORNACKI: Well, that`s the thing. It`s important to understand that
this halfway house system in New Jersey really is the product of both
parties. It isn`t something that just started under Christie. Now,
Christie was a lobbyist for this company. His friend`s a senior vice
president with it. This is all true. And they`ve done well under his
But I think the most damning thing about this is simply that the
murder was two years. There was a promise of investigation and reform.
And two years later, there`s no evidence that any of that ever happened.
O`DONNELL: All right, control room, zoom in on the that X on Chris
Christie. It is staying on. He is X`d out of the veep stakes. We`ll keep
the face on the board, just to keep track of where everybody is. That`s
the end of the Christie possibility for vice president.
Steve Kornacki, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Jon Stewart reveals just how easy it is to
catch Sean Hannity in a really, really big lie. The Rewrite is coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Sometimes, you know, you repeat lies
often enough, some impressionable good people, they`re fooled. You can lie
to them. And they are decent enough to believe it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Neil Cavuto at Fox News today, just as he
finished repeating a lie about me. He was, in effect, filing a friend of
the court brief to a lie Sean Hannity told about me last night. Sean`s lie
is that I attacked Ann Romney. And here is Sean`s proof.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: This attack on Ann Romney.
O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney has always told the story of the family`s
entry into the breathtakingly expensive so-called sport of dressage as a
therapeutic option for Ann Romney`s multiple sclerosis.
This is not in any way to make light of Ann Romney`s difficulty with
MS. It`s obviously a very difficult thing to bear. And there are a lot of
things you can do to try to deal with MS. But, come on, dressage does not
appear in any of the more traditional courses of treatment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What? How low can you go?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Wow! Is that guy rude? Asking Sean Hannity how low he
can go? Not surprisingly, Sean Hannity refused to answer the question of
how low he can go, but here`s one example of how low he can go. Not
allowing his viewers to hear the very next sentence I said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: But, come on, dressage does not appear in any of the more
traditional courses of treatment. And if it`s true that dressage is how
wildly rich people deal with this very difficult personal health problem,
then why -- why does the horse appear on Mitt Romney`s tax return as a
business expense, that in 2010 produced a 77,000 dollar business deduction.
Not a health care deduction, a business deduction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Sean Hannity, who has relentlessly attacked Michelle Obama
for over four years on his TV show, on his radio show, in his books -- yes,
that Sean Hannity, the untiring attacker of the First Lady, tried to
Rewrite my Monday night Rewrite into an attack on Ann Romney, even though,
within the clip he showed, I was very careful to respectfully note the very
difficult challenge Ann Romney bravely faces with MS.
I have seen MS in its advanced stages. In fact, I`ve studied it. And
I don`t know that I could rise to the challenge of MS as admirably as Ann
Romney has, and as Neil Cavuto has, who also has MS. My dearest friend
with MS is past the point where she could attempt to ride a horse. But I`m
glad Ann Romney has found horseback riding helpful in managing her
condition, as some other people have.
What I said is that dressage is not one of the more traditional
courses of treatment of MS. That is an indisputable statement. Way, way
less than one percent of the people with MS have ever turned to dressage as
therapy. Why? Among many other reasons, they cannot afford to lose 77,000
dollars a year on a dressage horse like Mitt Romney does. And way less
than one percent of people with MS have ever been in the presence of a
But none of that was the point of my Rewrite. anyway. The Rewrite was
about Mitt Romney`s manipulation of the ownership of the horse so that he
can use the horse as a 77,000 dollar business tax deduction. But Sean
Hannity doesn`t want his audience to know that Mitt Romney lists the horse
as a 77,000 dollar business tax deduction on his tax return. So Sean
couldn`t show the audience that one more sentence.
And so Sean Hannity`s audience will never, ever know that. Neil
Cavuto`s audience will never know that. But, enough about me. We have a
much more serious example of how low, just how low Sean Hannity can go.
And for that I will cede the balance of my time in tonight`s Rewrite to the
distinguished gentleman from Comedy Central, the master of Hannity
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": Other than George Bush, Bill Clinton,
George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, no president in modern history has
changed deportation policy through executive action. Except all of them.
So the objections here may be what you call situational, or so I thought
until yesterday, when I saw this on Fox News.
HANNITY: Let me play this for our audience so they understand and
fully grasp here the magnitude of what he did on Friday. Let`s play this.
OBAMA: This notion that somehow I can just change the laws
unilaterally is just not true. The fact of the matter is, there are laws
on the books that I have to enforce. And I think that there`s been a great
disservice done to the cause of getting the Dream Act passed and getting
comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow by
myself I can go and do these things. It`s just not true.
STEWART: Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Um, wow, that was just nine
months ago. The president publicly admitting he`s not allowed to do the
thing that he just did. That`s, uh, game over, Fox. Kudos. Oh, oh, uh,
before I go though, Fox, one more thing. Maybe it`s just me, but that
video, uh, it looked to me like the president may not have been done
I don`t know if that`s the truth or not. I`m probably wrong, but I
won`t sleep tonight unless we just give it a quick check and see what he
says after that. Roll the unedited tape, perhaps.
OBAMA: The notion that somehow by myself I can go and do these things
is just not true. Now, what we can do is to prioritize enforcement, since
there are limited enforcement resources, and say, we`re not going to go
chasing after this young man or anybody else who`s been acting responsibly
and would otherwise qualify for legal status if the Dream Act passed.
STEWART: Mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You just cut Obama off just
before -- you cut him off just before he very clearly says he can do the
exact thing he just did, but which you said he said he`s not supposed to --
mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW: This Obama mandate that everybody buy
health insurance or pay a fine is unprecedented. There`s nothing else like
it. This Obamacare mandate federally is unprecedented. It`s -- it`s --
something of this scope has never been done before, never been ordered,
never been attempted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Attentive viewers of this program know what Rush Limbaugh
doesn`t know, what no one else in America knows, including the Washington
press corps. The mandate in President Obama`s health care law is not
really a mandate at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: There is no real enforcement mechanism in it. There is a
very, very small tax penalty of a few hundred dollars in the Obama plan,
but what if the penalty isn`t paid? What if you refuse to pay that little
tax penalty. You know, it`s one thing to give me a parking ticket. It`s
another thing to make me pay the parking ticket.
What is the federal government`s power to make you pay your penalty
for not having health insurance? The answer is virtually none. The Obama
law addresses this in two ways. First in the section called "Waiver of
Criminal Penalties," it says, "in the case of any failure by a taxpayer to
timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be
subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such
So there it is. The penalty for not paying the tax penalty is no
criminal prosecution or penalty at all. But just to make sure the IRS
doesn`t get any crazy ideas about pursuing non-criminal penalties against
you, civil penalties like garnishing your wages or a lien on your property,
there is this section of the health care law: "limitations on liens and
levees," "the secretary shall not file notice of lien with respect to any
property of a taxpayer by reason of any failure to pay the penalty imposed
by this section, or levy any such property with respect to such failure."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We will find out soon, possibly as early as tomorrow, if
the Supreme Court decides to uphold the individual mandate in the
Affordable Care Act. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg highlighted the key
question facing the Supreme Court if the Supreme Court finds the mandate
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: If the individual mandate
requiring the purchase of insurance or the payment of a penalty -- if that
is unconstitutional, must the entire act fall? Or may the mandate be
chopped, like a head of broccoli, from the rest of the act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Lawrence Jacobs, a professor at the
University of Minnesota and co-author of the book "Health Care Reform and
Professor Jacobs, you had an op-ed piece in the "L.A. Times" today
with your co-author, Harvard`s Theda Skocpol. And welcome to my little
club that`s been very lonely for the last couple of years. In here you
say, "the mandate brouhaha is truly much ado about almost nothing."
When did you guys discover -- just out of my curiosity, when did you
discover that there really isn`t an enforcement mechanism in this mandate?
LAWRENCE JACOBS, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: We were going through
Congress, interviewing people as the bill was being written --
JACOBS: -- in 2009 and `10, and the senators, by the way, in both
parties were talking about this mandate. And you may remember, up until
the end, the insurers were on board with reform. They jumped off and moved
into opposition because the mandate wasn`t strong enough and was not going
to be enforced.
O`DONNELL: Yeah. They kept watering it down. They felt there was a
political danger in saying, oh, boy, you`re going to get arrested or thrown
in jail for this. Quickly, professor, what do you think happens
practically if the Supreme Court simply pulls the individual mandate out of
the bill and leaves, basically, the rest of it in tact? Everyone who talks
about this, for the most part, says that will completely destroy the
JACOBS: That`s absolutely nonsense. The mandate only affects about
one out of 20 Americans. And after the subsidies and the exceptions you
mentioned, maybe two out of 100 Americans. The big story here is the
insurance regulations that make the insurers play fair rules so they don`t
screw you, the enormous efforts to expand access to over 30 million
Americans, both lower income, middle income, up to 90,000 dollars a year
for a family of four, and then a brand-new insurance exchange, kind of like
a Travelocity, so you can go out there and do some comparison shopping.
Those things I just mentioned, 60 to 70 percent support, including big
majorities among Republicans. We don`t talk about that.
O`DONNELL: And if they do pull out the mandate, basically, you`re
back to the bill that President Obama was proposing when he was a candidate
for president, which did not include the mandate?
JACOBS: Exactly. And there are lots of ways in which you can get the
people who are basically free riding and not paying their share to come in.
You can provide more incentives. You can have a signup period, where if
you sign up during a certain period, you get lower premiums. If you don`t,
you get hit with a penalty. There`s a lot of discussion.
This is not rocket science. The mandate is simply not that big a
deal. But you can see the press corps. You`re absolutely right. They`re
ready to stampede on this if the strike courts it down. There`s a lot
here. This is an historic, landmark piece of legislation, even without the
O`DONNELL: Well, I got to say, I`ve been saying this, that the
mandate`s a mirage, for more than a couple of years. And it is wonderful
to have such distinguished company on it now. Princeton`s Paul Starr was
saying, basically, this in "the New York Times" today. Lawrence Jacobs,
professor at the University of Minnesota, thank you very much for joining
JACOBS: Good to be with you.
O`DONNELL: You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog,
TheLastWord.MSNBC.com. You can follow my Tweets @Lawrence. "THE ED SHOW"
is up next.
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