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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, July 30, 2012

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Guests: Dorian Warren, Nia-Malika Henderson, Mike Tomasky, Keith Boykin

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: With 99 days to go in Mitt Romney`s
campaign to win the White House, without coming clean about his taxes, his
latest answer about his taxes is as dirty as ever.


CROWD: Four more years! Four more years!

gentlemen, my name is Joe Biden.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: This election`s not about Joe
Biden. This election is really about President Obama and Governor Romney.

BIDEN: This is not your father`s Republican Party.

Mitt Romney is going to do.

BIDEN: A fundamentally different set of priorities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney is that man.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Go back to the Bush program,
except on steroids.

Don`t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I will tell

DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: Was there ever any year when you paid lower
than the 13.9 percent?

raise the issue.


MUIR: You`d look for us?

ROMNEY: I haven`t calculated that. I don`t pay more than are
legally due. Only what the tax code requires.

GINGRICH: I think he`s going to release another year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney has found himself on the defensive during
the first two stops of his foreign tour.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He hasn`t laid out a foreign policy vision that
is hugely different.

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: Did Romney give Israel the green light to
bomb Iran?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Palestinian leaders are slamming Republican
presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gaffe is really a politician accidentally
telling the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just got a copy of the "Newsweek" cover.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Newsweek" was accusing him of being a wimp.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has anyone ever called you a wimp before?

ROMNEY: I don`t recall that, no.

Christie, Romney will be the nominee and we`ll lose.


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney got in more tax trouble in Israel while his
campaign continued to peddle a lie in a dozen battleground states. This
morning, the Romney campaign released another ad based on that lie.


DAVID SOLLMANN, SOLLMAN ELECTRIC: He was trying to say, hey, you
didn`t build that business on your own. The government helped you build
it. And that`s what ticked me off more than anything.

My name is Dennis Sollmann, president of Sollmann Electric, and I
built this.


O`DONNELL: And with that ad, Dennis Sollmann joins the list of
Romney spokes models who claim to have built their business without any
help at all from the government, when in fact they sought and received and
were dependent on millions of dollars in government money.

A "Huffington Post" investigation reveals that Sollmann received a
$915,000 contract for work on the Trotwood-Madison City school district and
a $1.6 million contract for work in the Miami east school district. Today,
the Romney campaign held 18 so-called "We Did Build This" events in a dozen
battleground states. At least one event starred a person who collected
government money for 18 years.


PAWLENTY: You see the sign behind me? He said, the other day, you
didn`t build that, to America`s entrepreneurs. He said, somebody else did.


O`DONNELL: Of course, he didn`t say that. At least 15 of the
businesses involved in Romney`s "We Did Build This" events have received
government money at some point, according to the Think Progress and the
"Tampa Bay Times."

Before Romney left Israel today, the deputy prime minister and
minister of defense had this to say about the Obama administration.


EHUD BARAK, ISRAEL MINISTER OF DEFENSE: I should tell you, honestly,
that this administration, under President Obama, is doing in regard to our
security more than anything that I can remember in the past.


O`DONNELL: Romney`s tax problem followed him to Israel in the person
of ABC`s David Muir.


MUIR: Was there ever any year that you paid lower than the 13.9

ROMNEY: Well, I haven`t calculated that. I`m happy to go back and
look, but my view is I have paid all the taxes required by law.

MUIR: You say you would go back and look. You would look for us?

ROMNEY: I -- I haven`t looked at the tax rate paid year by year. I
know that I pay a very substantial amount of taxes, in every year since the
beginning of my career, so far as I can recall.


O`DONNELL: According to a transcript of the unedited part of that
interview, Mitt Romney also made this admission. "From time to time, I`ve
been audited, as happens, I think, to other citizens as well, and the
accounting firm which prepares my taxes has done a very thorough and
complete job paying taxes as legally due.

Joining me now, co-host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE," Steve Kornacki and
"Newsweek" special correspondent, Michael Tomasky. His latest article is
on Mitt Romney`s "Wimp Factor."

Mike, Jan Crawford of CBS actually asked Mitt Romney how he feels
about you calling him a wimp. Let`s take a look at that.


JAN CRAWFORD, CBS NEWS: I just got a copy of a "Newsweek" cover
that`s going to be hitting the newsstands tomorrow that calls you a wimp.
Have you seen this?


CRAWFORD: Does that concern you? Is that fair?

ROMNEY: They tried that on George Herbert Walker Bush. He was a
pretty great president and anything but.

CRAWFORD: But it did hurt him, to some extent, that narrative did.
Are you worried about what the media is saying here and in kind of story
line that gets out there, and how do you counter that?

ROMNEY: If I worried about what the media said, I wouldn`t get much
sleep, and I`m able to sleep pretty well.

CRAWFORD: Has anyone ever called you a wimp before?

ROMNEY: I don`t recall that, no.


O`DONNELL: Mike, apparently no one`s ever called him a wimp before.
A lot of us have been busy calling him a liar, so we haven`t moved down the
list, actually, to wimp. But make your case. What`s the wimp factor here?

MIKE TOMASKY, NEWSWEEK: The case is fundamentally built, Lawrence,
around the idea of his cravenness toward the right wing of the Republican
Party. There are other aspects to it, but that`s really to me the core of

We`ve all seen him flip his positions on so many issues, and not just
one or two, which all politicians do. But I mean six, seven, eight really
core issues, ranging from abortion rights to immigration to gun rights to,
of course, the health care plan, his own health care reform, which he now
repudiates and won`t discuss.

This is a guy who has no backbone when it comes to talking to the
right wing of his party. Everything they want him to do, he does. When
Rush Limbaugh says jump, he says, how high? And he just -- he doesn`t
present as a guy who really has a core inside him. He presents as a guy
who will just say whatever it is he has to say to get those people to like

O`DONNELL: Mike, do we now have, finally, a counterpoint to your
wimp case? And that -- he`s now held his ground for months on the matter
of releasing anymore tax returns. Has Romney finally found his spine on

TOMASKY: That`s an odd thing to develop a backbone about it, but I
suppose maybe you could make that argument. But, you know, actually,
that`s another instance of what I`m talking about. I mean, you know, if he
doesn`t have anything to hide, if he has played by the rules and if he has
done everything right, then why not do it? And it`s a good example, his
sort of whiney response to that question. And the way he says, you know,
I`ve done everything legally and I`m not going to give them more evidence,
just to go after me.

Well, why is there evidence to go after you? You know, just let us

So, yes, that`s another problem, as far as I`m concerned.

O`DONNELL: Steve, I loved David Muir, his question, the way he
handled it, especially because the opening was there. Because Romney`s
spokesperson had said in the past -- well, no, he`s never had a tax return
where he paid no taxes. That opens the question for, as we said then,
specific items.

So David says, have you ever paid less than 13.9 percent? And Romney
basically says, I don`t know. You know, it`s not responsive. I could --
then he says, I`d be happy to look. And then David says, will you please
look? And he doesn`t, of course, that`s when he realizes, uh-oh, I can`t
say yes or no. And he does the Romney jumble of words that has no meaning.

STEVE KORNACKI, THE CYCLE: Right. I`ve paid a substantial amount of
taxes and the American people wouldn`t want a president who pays anymore he
should, and this is the line we`ve been hearing and it`s the line we`re
going to keep hearing. And obviously you can`t go down that road, because
if you look once, there are a thousand other questions that will be asked
about that, and the simple question then becomes, why don`t you release
them and we can answer all our questions by looking?

But I have to say, again, I -- this is one of those things, if you
remember back in the primaries when he was trying to release no tax returns
or at least trying to put it off by months, the pressure built really
quickly, including from within in his own party, and he folded within about
a week of that pressure coming on.

That`s not been the case here. This has now dragged on for a few
weeks. Now, we`re in the Olympics, that will give him a little bit of
cover, then they`ll have the V.P. rollouts, then the conventions, and it`s
starting to occur to me, this guy could get away with only putting two
weeks out there. And it could be that the calculation is that this
speculation we`re engaging in right now isn`t as damaging to him as
whatever`s actually in there.

O`DONNELL: Mike, obviously, the calculation and the campaign has
been -- and this kind of thing has worked in the past for other
politicians, the media will give up. Other things will happen. The
Olympics will come along. You know, Mitt will go to Israel.

Well, the Olympics came along, Mitt went to Israel, and the media did
not give up.

TOMASKY: Right. Right. And I don`t think the media`s really going
to give up on this. You know, I think he`ll continue to be dogged about

Of course, this is going to depend, Lawrence, to some extent on how
hard the Obama campaign continues to press this issue. If the Obama
campaign drops it, then the media is probably going to drop it largely too
-- unless somebody happens to get a big scoop and get spoon fed, you know,
many years` worth of returns.

But, you know, it`s going to be partly up to the Obama administration
to keep the light on this subject.

O`DONNELL: Steve, it has to come up again in October at the debates.
I mean, it is inconceivable that there would be a moderator who would not
ask about this, especially in comparison to Romney`s father and all other
presidential candidates.

KORNACKI: Right, no, and what it comes down to, I think, is there
isn`t a clean way out of this for him. It`s not like, OK, it`s going to
come up in the debates or it`s going to be used in the ads or the Obama
campaign`s going to attack him on it, therefore he better get it out there
and get it over, because, again, we don`t know what`s in there. But I
suspect that it`s a bunch of years where his effective tax rate is on the
very low end. It highlights the exact issue Democrats are trying to raise
this year, which is that the tax system in this country in many ways
benefits sort of the investor class, the class that Romney belongs to, and
the Obama campaign`s case is well, Romney and the Republican Party are
really sort of, you know, acting in service to that sort of superrich

And so, Romney really is potentially devastating to be that closely
associated with it and the taxes could do that.

O`DONNELL: I think we now have a right to believe there`s something
uglier in the returns than the $77,000 deduction for his Olympic dancing

Steve Kornacki and Mike Tomasky, thank you both very much for joining
me tonight.


TOMASKY: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Mitt Romney`s on a foreign tour, in praise of
socialism. Of course, since he doesn`t know what socialism actually is, he
doesn`t know he`s been praising it.

And as the voter suppression movement spreads, it could affect 5
million voters in November.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, new hope for restrictions on guns and
ammunition comes from the place you would least expect. And from the
person you would never expect to move us closer to sanity. I will rise
tonight and perhaps never again, in praise of Justice Antonin Scalia.


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney, as we know, is a pathological panderer. He
also tries to say what he thinks his audience wants to hear. And so, on
his foreign tour, this has meant that he has ended up heaping praise on
socialism. That`s coming up.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, the new voice of sanity on gun and
ammunition control is the most conservative member of the United States
Supreme Court. Gun and ammunition control could not have a more important
ally. That`s in the "Rewrite."



LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And through this new law,
Mr. President, every citizen will be able, in his productive years when
he`s earning, to insure himself against the ravages of illness in his old
age. This insurance will help pay for care in hospitals, in skilled
nursing homes, or in the home. And under a separate plan, it will help
meet the fees of the doctors.


O`DONNELL: The world`s best single-payer health care system turns 47
years old today. On July 30th, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed
Medicare into law and presented former President Harry Truman with the
first Medicare card.

So how did Mitt Romney`s celebrate Medicare`s birthday? By taking a
world tour of other government-run health care systems. Today, he was in
Israel, a socialist country, praising its socialist health care system.

Here`s what Romney said at a closed fund-raiser in Jerusalem today.
"Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in
Israel? Eight percent. And you`re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18
percent of our GDP on health care, 10 percentage points more. We have to
find ways not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways
to finally manage our health care costs."

Israel is a far more socialist country than the United States has any
chance of becoming. Israel`s domestic governance is further to the left
than the Democratic Party has ever proposed. But, of course, the hater of
government, the Republicans, are now running for president, actually knows
nothing about government here or anywhere else in the world, and has no
idea he was praising a socialist system.

Israel has universal health care coverage. Israel mandates that all
of its citizens buy health insurance. Israeli`s premium contributions for
their state-financed health insurance are directly deducted by the state
from their paychecks. Sound like a tax?

The higher their salaries, the more they pay. Just like progressive
income taxation that Romney thinks is so grotesquely unfair.

And why are health care costs low in Israel? Because all health
insurance companies are nonprofit and because government bureaucrats in the
ministry of finance set the amount Israel will pay health providers in
Israel. On his way to Israel, Romney spent time in the United Kingdom,
making one diplomatic mistake after another, and watching the opening
ceremonies of the Olympics, which included an homage to Britain`s purely
socialistic National Health Service.

If Romney had found the time to see Michael Moore`s "SiCKO," he would
have understand that the Brits were celebrating their favorite form of


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you pay for a stay here?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re asking how do people pay. And I said,
well, there isn`t. You don`t.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: National insurance. There`s no bill at the end
of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`d they charge you for that baby?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve got to pay before you can get out of here,


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, everything`s on NHS. It`s not -- it`s not


O`DONNELL: Joining me now are Karen Finney, former DNC
communications director and MSNBC contributor, and Keith Boykin, a
Democratic strategist and BET columnist.

Karen, there he goes again. The serial panderer goes to Israel,
thinks it`s safe to praise their health care system, having no idea he`s
praising a system even more socialistic than his Massachusetts system, and
far more socialistic than anything that exists in the United States.

this gaffe, Lawrence, because I think from the perspective of Republicans
and his campaign, it`s a gaffe. Although I think most of us are perfectly
happy to welcome him back to this way of thinking, is that it encompasses,
as you said, almost everything that`s wrong with Mitt Romney as a

Number one, that he does have this baggage that, guess what, he did
have -- his system, Obamacare, is based on Romneycare. And he can`t run
away from it as much as he could try, and the question was, was he actually
being honest when he was pandering to the Israelis on their health care

But number two, he is so focused on pandering to whatever audience he
was speaking to, it really doesn`t matter what facts are. And that should
also make conservatives in this country nervous.

And number three, he doesn`t actually bother to know what the facts
are and know what the information is, and to understand the policy. And by
the way, just because you`re in Israel doesn`t mean over here in the United
States we won`t hear what you said.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what he said about President Obama`s --
the plan that President Obama signed into law, what Romney said about it
last month.


ROMNEY: Obamacare was bad policy yesterday, it`s bad policy today.
Obamacare was bad law yesterday, it`s bad law today. Obamacare puts the
federal government between you and your doctor.


O`DONNELL: Keith, Obamacare comes between you and the doctor you
don`t currently have, because you can`t afford one, and says, here`s some
money so you can afford a doctor, go ahead, go find one, which Romney
doesn`t seem to know, and he doesn`t seem to know that in Israel, the
government is the absolute and total regulator of your relationship with
your doctor.

this at some point, because he was the grandfather of Romneycare. So he
knows about what health care can do.

But, you know, the funny thing, "The Washington Post" did a story
today on health care reform, and they showed this guy who needs to get --
he needs to sell t-shirts to pay for his chemotherapy. And he has health
insurance. That`s the system we have in our country, where people can`t
even afford to pay for their health care when they have health insurance.

On the other hand, look at Romney care in Massachusetts. It`s the
one good thing that he actually did there. And it`s one of the most
popular programs in the state.

Meanwhile, you see also in Israel, health care reform is very --
health care is very popular there. It`s popular in Great Britain as well.

All these places indicate that if we start to move in that direction,
we might actually be -- be more successful in our health care deliveries as
with well.

O`DONNELL: Karen, when I watch Romney the panderer, it is no longer
interesting to me, the question of what does Romney really think. I just
don`t get the feeling he really thinks anything. It just feels like he is
a pure business guy and he thinks whatever closes the deal is the thing to

FINNEY: Well, of course, that`s exactly right. And if I was sitting
in the Romney campaign right now, one of the concerns I would have about
that is, guess what, the base of the party is figuring that out too.

And he already has a problem with radio conservatives in his party,
who their support for him is a little bit shaky. He`s got a fairly
fractured Republican Party, and a lot of people don`t think they can trust
him. So, the more these kinds of things come out, I think the harder it is
for people to trust him.

Secondly, I hope as Democrats, though, we focus on what is so
important in the substance of this, as Keith was pointing out, which is the
system works. The point is, it is a lower -- I mean, cost of GDP. It does
provide better health care. There are people in Israel, are healthier than
we are, there are better outcomes.

So, again, if we could move in that direction, we might actually be a
healthier country. So both from a substantive perspective, as well as the
political, this is a good idea.

O`DONNELL: Keith, to go back to a point that Mike Tomasky raises in
his "Newsweek" cover about Romney being a wimp, that seems to be what many
conservatives are actually relaying on. They have said, look, we don`t
care what that guy this is. We are going to give him orders, when he is in
there, in the White House. We will control him, pause he`s a wimp, because
he doesn`t think anything.

BOYKIN: Yes, he`s sitting next to Sheldon Adelson, this casino
billionaire from Las Vegas, in Israel, this huge fund-raiser. And this
guy, you know, is telling him what he`s going to have to say, what he`s
going to have to do. It makes you wonder, does Mitt Romney really believe
in all of this?

I kind of disagree with Karen on one point. I don`t think that the
conservatives are just figuring this out. I think they knew this all
along. I think they never liked the guy. They don`t trust the guy.

They`re just hoping that somehow, if he manages to make it to the
White House, that they could have control over what goes on in the Oval

O`DONNELL: Grover Norquist has said that he`s very confident that
Romney will take his orders.

FINNEY: That`s right!

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney and Keith Boykin, thank you both very much
for joining me tonight.

BOYKIN: Thank you.

FINNEY: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: The authors of the second amendment were not thinking of
weapons that can fire 100 bullets in a minute, and that`s why the new best
hope for more restrictive gun laws is now coming from the Supreme Court`s
most conservative reader of the Constitution. That`s in tonight`s
"Rewrite." Justice Scalia gives us reason to hope.

And the Republican vice presidential auditions continue and Tim
Pawlenty slipped off message a bit. Jonathan Capehart joins me, coming up.


O`DONNELL: We might have never heard of Rosa Parks were it not for
Thelma Glass. Rosa Parks might have been just another of the African-
American women arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 for refusing to sit
at the back of a bus. But when Rosa Parks was arrested, Thelma Glass
immediately went to work organizing a boycott of the city buses, believing
there was power in the fact that three quarters of the bus riders in
Montgomery were African-American.

"When the first bus came by with nobody on it, I couldn`t believe it,"
Thelma Glass said a few years ago. "It`s a feeling of such happiness and
accomplishment that you just can`t quite explain."

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. joined the boycott. Eleven months
later, the Supreme Court ruled that Alabama`s law segregating the buses was
unconstitutional. She was born Thelma McWilliams in 1916. She graduated
as the valedictorian of her high school in Alabama at the age of only 15.
She graduated from Alabama State University, then earned a masters degree
at Columbia. She was a professor at Alabama state for 40 years. Her
husband, Arthur Glass, also taught at Alabama state. She was the last
surviving member of the women`s political council, the group that launched
the bus boycott.

Asked why they rushed to take action at a time when public protest could
have gotten members of the women`s political council killed in Alabama,
Thelma Glass said quote, "we didn`t have time to sit still and be scared."

Thelma Glass died last week in Montgomery. She was 96 years old.


O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, Veep stakes. If we assume that Mitt
Romney will not make his vice presidential announcement without his wife,
Ann, by his side, as tradition dictates, then it is safe to assume that he
will not make that announcement until the Romney`s $77,000 deduction horse
is eliminated from the most peculiar event in the Olympics, which can`t
happen until Friday at the earliest. That leaves the vice presidential
hopefuls auditions on the campaign trail.

Here`s Ohio senator Rob Portman today in Pennsylvania.


SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: America gave the ball to Barack Obama, because
he promised he was going to turn things around. He promised he was going
to bring people together to solve big problems. We gave him the ball and
he fumbled the ball. It`s now time to give that ball to Mitt Romney.


O`DONNELL: Here`s the one I`m betting on, Tim Pawlenty today in Ohio.


foam and no beer.


PAWLENTY: And you can`t live on the foam. Look, his speeches are his
foam. Everybody was all enamored with him in 2008, because he gave these
big, fancy teleprompter speeches. Do you remember that? You know, all the
folks with their eyes wide open, their mouth wide open. Boy, he sounds
really good. A terrific speaker on the teleprompter. Do you remember
that? But now, guess what, the results aren`t so good, are they?


O`DONNELL: Pawlenty slipped off-message there. Republicans dropped their
anti-teleprompter rants months ago once they realized they were in the
process of nominating a candidate who can never be trusted going off-
prompter. The head of the last Republican search for a successful vice
presidential candidate found fault with the most recent choice of a vice
presidential candidate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like Governor Palin. I`ve met her, I know her.
She`s an attractive candidate, but based on her background, she`s only been
governor for, what, two years. I don`t think she passed that test.


IDENTIFIED MALE: Of being ready to take over. And I think that was a


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Jonathan Capehart, "Washington Post"
editorial writer and Nia Henderson, "Washington Post" national political
reporter covering the Romney campaign.

Nia, it seems that we are unlikely in the timetable to see a choice anytime
soon. Do you have a sense when the Romney campaign would like to do this?

You know, that`s right. I think it`s going to be a little while. It all
depends on how well Rafalca does in the Olympics. It could go until next
week, if he does well over there.

But I think one of the things that we should know about Mitt Romney and
that we`ve seen over these last many months of him being on the campaign
trail is that he doesn`t really step outside of the box. He doesn`t really
-- he`s not a man who likes to surprise and shock.

So, this idea of he`s going to make a surprise pick or make a pick much
earlier of another candidate, it`s probably unlikely. I would say
probably, you know, a week before the convention, which is pretty standard.

So we`ve got, I think, a couple weeks left of this auditioning that we`ve
seen over these last weeks, as Mitt Romney is auditioning on the global
stage. You`ve seen people roll out. And I say, in that clip there, Rob
Portman, not a lot of energy out there on the stump. I mean, he was a
little flat. Tim Pawlenty, your guy, your pick for this thing, he was much
better. And he is somebody who`s very good with words, and very good with
sound bites. And I think in that way, he could be a good choice. But I
think people still seem to think, at least the conventional wisdom is that
it would be Rob Portman.

O`DONNELL: Well you know, my boy, Pawlenty, embarrassed me a little bit
with that beer and foam thing. He went way too far with the foam thing.


O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, there`s a surprise here that we have in a
public policy polling robo survey. Not the most reliable form in the
world, but it says that Condoleezza Rice, as a running mate, could give
Mitt Romney a six-point advantage in swing states of Michigan and
Pennsylvania. That would put Romney into a tie at 45-45 in Pennsylvania,
narrow the gap in Michigan, very significantly. I think more attention
needs to be paid to Condoleezza Rice, because we don`t see that kind of
polling effect from anyone else on the list.

would be an interesting choice. African-American, woman, highly
accomplished, former secretary of state. The only problem is, she brings a
lot of baggage. And that is the eight years of the Bush administration,
the two wars, particularly the war in Iraq, of that I don`t think Mitt
Romney would want to have to deal with in addition to all of the other
things he`s going to have to deal with in terms of trying to unseat
President Obama.

It`s an interesting -- it`s an interesting idea, but, you know, secretary
Rice has said many, many times, and I`m sure she`s wondering if people
actually are listening to her, she`s not interested.

O`DONNELL: Nia, the -- did you get the sense from the Romney campaign
that, basically, what they`re looking at here is, who has the fewest
negatives? Because as Jonathan points out, yes, there`s an obvious set of
negatives that comes with not just Condoleezza Rice, but all of the
candidates. And that`s really why -- how I`ve ended up with Pawlenty. He
seems to me to have the shortest negative resume.

HENDERSON: That`s right. And, you know, the golden rule is, first, do no
harm. And when you do look at Portman, he has that tie to the Bush
administration. He was head of OMB there. And that`s going to make
Democrats off be able to easily make that argument, where they can tie Mitt
Romney to the Bush administration.

But I do think they also are thinking about who can step in the job on day
one. And Pawlenty, I think, has a bit of a gravitas problem. I think he
has these, you know, even though you didn`t like the beer and the foam
metaphor, you know, it`s kind of quirky and a sound bite thing. He would
be good at the attack dog role, but I`m not sure he would fill the share of
being a vice president and a credible president. But we`ll see.

You know, I think another dark horse is Bobby Jindal, evangelicals really
like him. He has a very, very strong record on abortion, in the sense that
he`s against it in all instances. So a lot of evangelicals are very much
interested in what he will do and whether or not the Romney campaign is
looking at him. He was also out on the stump over these last days for Mitt

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, imagine for me a Bobby Jindal or a Marco
Rubio, the younger men in this crowd, with less experience, standing at
that hour and a half debate podium with Joe Biden. That`s the first test
of how they`ll fill that position.

CAPEHART: Well, I think either Senator Rubio or Governor Jindal would do
an even better job than Sarah Palin did when she went up against Joe Biden
four years ago.

O`DONNELL: Oh, come on, that`s not the test. Cut it out.


CAPEHART: And I know it`s not the test, but still. Come on.

But listen. I think Nia-Malika brings up a good point. The person that
Romney has to pick and wants to pick, from all the reports we`ve heard, is
someone who`s ready on day one to be vice president, but to also take over
the job of president if that were to be -- be made necessary. And I don`t
see how Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio rise to that level, because,
relatively speaking, they`re inexperienced compared to the two folks,
Governor Pawlenty and Senator Portman, who seem to be the one and two top

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, quickly before you go, this is your second
consecutive appearance here on "the Last Word" without a necktie, and I`m
just wondering, is there something we need to discuss here. Oh, I get it.
This is your Olympics look, right? When the Olympics are over, the
neckties will go back on.

CAPEHART: Well, you know. I don`t know. I`m starting of starting a thing
called Jonathan after dark.

O`DONNELL: It`s working for you in late prime-time. I can tell you that.

Jonathan Capehart and Nia Henderson. Thank you both for joining me

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, there is new hope for gun control advocates coming
from one of the members of the U.S. Supreme Court and it`s coming from, of
all people, justice Antonin Scalia. That`s in the "rewrite."

And the spread of voter suppression laws could deprive five million people
of their right to vote in November, but the revolt against those laws is
now gaining some momentum. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: Tonight`s "rewrite" is very probably a first and a last. I
will figuratively rise, for once, in praise of justice Scalia. That`s next
in the "rewrite."

And later, the revolt against voter suppression laws is underway. That`s
coming up.


O`DONNELL: There is hope tonight in America. Hope for a better country
through government. And it is more than just a ray of hope, it is the hope
that we will someday, not soon, but some day be able to rewrite gun and
ammunition laws in this country to bring us a step closer to sanity and a
step closer to what the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the
second amendment. And that hope comes this time not from representative
Carolyn McCarthy, one of the congress` precious few untiring advocates of
such sanity. It comes from a far more important place than Congress when
dealing with a constitutional issue. It comes from the United States
Supreme Court.

And even more importantly than that, it comes from the dominant side of the
court, the conservative majority. And most importantly, it comes from the
most conservative justice, the dominant conservative this thinker on the
Supreme Court. That`s right. Justice Antonin Scalia is now the beaming
source of hope that government might someday do something to reduce the
chances of you and your family being shot to death by a madman when you go
to the movies in America.


CHRIS WALLACE, FNC: Let`s turn to an issue that is in the news right now
with the massacre in Colorado, and that is gun control.

You wrote in 2008, the opinion in district of Columbia V. Heller, the
majority opinion that said the second amendment means what it says. People
have a right to bear arms.

Question. How far does that constitutional right go? Can a legislature
ban semi-automatic weapons or can it ban magazines that carry 100 rounds
without violating an individual`s constitutional right to bear arms?

Heller said is that it will have to be decided in future cases. What
limitations upon the right to keep and bear arms are permissible. Some,
undoubtedly, are because there were some that were acknowledged at the
time. For example, there was a tort called a freighting, which if you
carried around a really horrible weapon, just to scare people, like a head
ax or something. That was, I believe, a misdemeanor.

So, yes, there are some limitations that can be imposed. What they are
will depend on what the society understood were reasonable limitations at
the time. There were certainly location limitations, where --

WALLACE: But what about these technological limitations? We`re obviously
not now talking about a handgun or a musket. We`re talking about a weapon
that can fire 100 shots in a minute.

SCALIA: We`ll see. I mean, obviously, the amendment does not apply to
arms that cannot be hand carried. So it`s to keep and bear. So it doesn`t
apply to cannons, but I suppose there are hand-held rocket launchers that
can bring down airplanes that will have to be -- it`ll have to be decided.

WALLACE: How do you decide that if you`re --

SCALIA: Very carefully. My starting point and probably my ending point
will be what limitations are within the understood limitations that the
society had at the time. They had some limitations on the nature of arms
that could be borne. So it -- we`ll see what those limitations are as
apply to modern weapons.


O`DONNELL: We`ll see what those limitations are as applied to modern
weapons. There`s the most conservative Supreme Court justice saying, we`ll
see what those limitations are. Saying, there can be more limitations on
modern weapons.

Who among us predicted last week that the most important thing said about
gun and ammunition control in America after our most recent mass murder
would be said on FOX News by the most conservative Supreme Court justice?
With the four justices on the court appointed by presidents Clinton and
Obama now joined by Scalia on allowing restrictions on the second
amendment, there is a majority on the court in favor of doing the right
thing. And if Scalia is willing to do the right thing, then others from
the conservative side of the court will surely join him to form an
overwhelming majority.

When John McCain briefly strayed from the national rifle association party
line after the columbine massacre, the NRA attacked him in their magazine,
calling him one of the premiere flag carriers for the enemies of the second
amendment. The NRA, of course, frightened John McCain back into the party
line, so that he could run for president and re-election to the Senate.

So now, it`s Scalia`s turn to be portrayed as an enemy of the second
amendment. But the blood-drenched leaders of the NRA will not dare do
that. Because they know they can`t throw a re-election scare into a
Supreme Court justice.


SCALIA: We have life tenure. And we have it precisely so that we will not
be influenced by politics, by threats from anybody.


O`DONNELL: And so tonight, hope lives. Thanks to, of all people, Mr.
Justice Scalia.



my core beliefs and values, that if a government can ask citizens to
violate a law, which is a civil rights act, in order to enforce a law, then
that law is no good.


O`DONNELL: That was Christopher broach, the election inspector for Colwyn,
Pennsylvania, explaining why he refuses to enforce Pennsylvania`s new
voting law that requires all voters to bring a valid photo ID to vote.
Broach could face fines or jail time for violating the law, but he said,
quote, "Rosa Parks made the same decision."

As we reported last week on "the Last Word," one million registered
Pennsylvania voters may be turned away at the polls on Election Day because
they don`t have proper photo IDs. This despite lawyers for the state
acknowledging, in a signed stipulation, that there is no evidence of voter
fraud in Pennsylvania, nor any threat that fraud would occur in the state
in November.

Nationwide, 16 states have passed restrictive laws that could affect
November`s election, and at least five million voters could be affected by
the new laws.

Joining me now, Dorian Warren, an assistant professor of political science
o Columbia University and fellow at the Roosevelt Institute in New York.

Dorian, what we just saw may really be a Rosa Parks moment.

DORIAN WARREN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Absolutely. I think we`re seeing more
and more state officials standing up and saying, these laws are an attempt
to rig the election, to rig the game, and we won`t enforce it. And we`re
also seeing efforts by progressive groups of challenging these laws, not
only in federal court, but also in state courts, in Missouri, for example,
and even in Pennsylvania. So there`s a growing challenge to these laws to
expose them for what they are. And that`s to limit the right to vote.

O`DONNELL: And Mr. Broach thinks it`s a violation of the voting rights
act. With the voting rights act of `65 says no voting qualification or
prerequisite for voting or standard practice or procedure shall be imposed
that would abridge the right of any citizen in the United States to vote on
a count of race or color. Now, here, let`s listen to Eric Holder`s take on
what he thinks we`re seeing here.


ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Under the proposed law, concealed
handgun licenses would be acceptable forms of photo ID but student IDs
would not. Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances
to get them. And some would struggle to pay for the documents they might
need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes.


O`DONNELL: He`s talking about the new Texas law, but, yes, if you have to
pay and come up with these new costs for voting, something that never cost
you anything, that, and paying the government for this new ID, that is, in
effect, a tax.

WARREN: This is the 21st century version of the poll tax of Jim Crow laws
that were explicitly designed to exclude African-Americans from the right
to vote. And, so, now we`re seeing -- and by the way, it`s not just photo
IDs. In lots of these states, it`s also ending early voting. If that`s
not an attempt to restrict access to the ballot, I don`t know what is.

But these are efforts to restrict the right to vote of democratic-leaning
constituents for a party that`s in its last gasp.

O`DONNELL: And no ID necessary if you vote absentee. The inconsistencies
are crazy here.

WARREN: It`s easier to buy an assault weapon than to register to vote in
many places.

O`DONNELL: Dorian Warren, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

You can watch the very Last Word on our Web site, or
you can hear more from Dorian Warren and some of our other guests and you
will hear more from me tonight after the show on the very last word.
That`s it for "the Last Word."

"The Ed Show" is up next.


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