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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, September 10th, 2012

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September 10, 2012

Guests: Stacey Lihn, Caleb Lihn, Matt Taibbi

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Bill Clinton says the Republicans aren`t so
good at arithmetic. But tonight, the arithmetic that the Romney/Ryan team
does understand is that they are losing.


ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: There are 57 days to go until election day.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Just 57 days to go.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: We are eight weeks away from the general

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: President Obama is back on top this morning.


CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: The president is ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama is ahead in pretty much every poll.

WAGNER: The poll in key toss-up states is making the Romney campaign
very, very nervous.

MITCHELL: Let`s talk about Ohio.

WAGNER: President Obama with a seven point lead in Ohio.

Ohio is going to be a big battleground state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The critical 18 electoral votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m offended by the Romney campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You voted for defense cuts and now you`re
criticizing the president for those same defense cuts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One mistake after another.

for the Budget Control Act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those included defense spending.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You saw that on the Sunday shows.

MITCHELL: Weekend interviews.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Muddled messages.

MITCHELL: Refusing to be specific.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The specifics are these, which
is --

RYAN: Just show the framework.

ROMNEY: Fewer deductions and exemptions.

RYAN: The other thing, George, is --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn`t that a secret plan?

ROMNEY: Those principles I described at the heart of my policy.

they didn`t really talk about their plan.

HALL: No specific.

MITCHELL: They won`t be specific.

JANSING: Where`s the meat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will lose if you don`t start telling what you
believe if you do in fact believe in anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His numbers don`t add up.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Their figures don`t add up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody knows what he stands for.

HALL: Again, no specifics coming from --

MITCHELL: Refusing to be specific.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not going to keep any specific.

ROMNEY: The specifics are these which is --

OBAMA: They want your vote but they didn`t really talk about their

MITCHELL: Just 57 days to go.

WAGNER: Fifty-seven days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty-seven days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty-seven days we`ll have some answers.


O`DONNELL: That`s right, 57 days until the presidential election, and
new polls show President Obama received a measurable convention bump as
Mitt Romney`s advisors privately concede that their candidate is in grave

An ORC poll of likely voters conducted before the Democratic
convention showed President Obama and Mitt Romney tied at 48 percent each.
Today, in that poll, President Obama leads Mitt Romney by six points, 52
percent to 46 percent.

A Gallup poll of registered voters conducted before the Democratic
convention showed President Obama and Mitt Romney in a statistical tie, 47
percent to 46 percent. Today in that poll, President Obama leads Mitt
Romney by five points, 49 to 45 percent.

Rush Limbaugh thinks polls showing President Obama`s lead are of
course a media conspiracy.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The polls now are just being
used as another tool of voter suppression. I want to depress the heck out
of you and they want to suppress your vote. I know that Romney is not
ideal and I know Romney ticks you off. Romney, the best thing he can do is
remember this election isn`t about him. He may as well be Elmer Fudd. As
for as we`re concerned, we`re voting against Obama.


O`DONNELL: "Politico" reports that Elmer Fudd`s advisers privately
lament that state by state polling numbers most glaringly in Ohio are
working in the president`s favor. Their math has many more routes to
victory, said a top Republican official.

A new robo-poll of Ohio likely voters shows President Obama leading
Mitt Romney by five points, 50 percent to 45 percent. President Obama won
Ohio in 2008. President Bush won Ohio in 2004 and 2000.

No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio.

Statistician Nate Silver of "The New York Times`s" FiveThirtyEight
blog forecasts that on November 6th, President Obama will win 319 Electoral
College votes, Mitt Romney will win 219. And President Obama has an 81
percent chance of winning the election. Mitt Romney has a 19 percent

Joining me now, Krystal Ball and Steve Kornacki.

Krystal, we hear Rush Limbaugh saying they`re trying to suppress,
suppress the vote with news. That ought to do it.

KRYSTAL BALL, CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Right. Well, I mean, in fairness
Republicans should no something about suppressing the vote. But it`s
presenting how the whole Republican machine seems to be imploding this
week. They`ve realized that the Republican convention was kind of their
last chance to redefine Mitt Romney, to prove that there were really
details there, to prove there were substance behind the curtain and they

On the other hand, the Democrats had a fantastic convention. I think
what people came away with, I try to think in terms of what does the
average casual viewer getting out of these conventions if they`re doing
sort of a drive-by. I think one of the lasting impression is the fact that
after the Republican convention, everyone is sort of like Mitt Romney is
fine but we really don`t like this Obama guy.

At the Democratic convention there was a sense of enthusiasm from the
candidate itself. I think the Democrats learned in 2004, that it`s not
enough just to dislike the other guy. You also have to really like the
person you`re putting forward. So, I think that is one of the lasting
impressions that`s going to be left in this convention.

O`DONNELL: There`s a lot of pandering on the right these days. Let`s
listen to Laura Ingraham on her radio show today.


LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If you can`t beat Barack Obama
with this record, then shut down the party, shut it down. Start new with
new people.


O`DONNELL: There`s an optimistic note, Steve, for Laura Ingraham, to
greet her audience on the Monday after the Democratic convention.

STEVE KORNACKI, CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": You know, there`s two schools
of thought on this. You can come down hard on Mitt Romney and say, look,
this guy is a flawed candidate. This guy is a bad candidate.

O`DONNELL: I`ll do that. He`s a flawed candidate. He`s a bad
candidate. What else can you do?

KORNACKI: I think he absolutely is, but I have a little bit of
sympathy for him because I think he`s been put in an impossible position by
his party and that`s part of what`s going on here. And what I mean by that
is the Republican Party basically decided when Obama become president,
they`re going to oppose everything that he proposes, everything he says,
and everything he does. That doesn`t mean there`s going to be any coherent
policy behind that, it just means they`re going to be against that.

So, that means for instance, they`re going to take the health care
plan. They`re going to take what was once a Republican health care plan
and they`re going to now call it job killing, freedom killing socialism.
So it puts Romney in the position that he`s in this weekend, where this is
a guy who authored at a time was a Republican plan on health care and now
has to go there and tell you how terrible it is and he wants to repeal it.

But then you start asking him about the specifics and he starts
saying, well, wait a minute, I actually kind of like some of these
specifics. So that means you`re going to oppose Obamacare. Oh, no, I
didn`t say that.

So, there`s this basic incoherence, whether it`s on stimulus,
something Republicans used to favor now it`s completely terrible in every
way. Whether it`s on health care, whether it`s on a whole range of other
issues, they really don`t have anything to say except we`re not Obama and
we`re finding out that we`re not Obama right now is good for about 47
percent of the vote.

BALL: I think Steve is right about that in terms of the corner that
Mitt Romney has found himself in. But I would say, you know, his primary
challengers were Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Rick Perry -- a more skilled
candidate could have found a better place to be, could have saved more of a
centrist position, could have actually put some ideas forward in the
primary that would have made sense.

And the interesting thing about the Paul Ryan pick is the sense there
was Romney had made sort of a build or buy decision, right, and he decided
he wanted to buy a set of policies rather than build some from scratch.
But once they got Paul Ryan on the ticket, they didn`t actually want to
talk about Ryan`s policies because they`re toxic.

So instead of Romney becoming more like the mythical truth-telling
Ryan, Ryan has become more like the pandering Romney.

KORNACKI: I think there was something there. What you`re saying is
true, that Jeb Bush for instance, probably could have made a better run at
this in terms of just, you know, how he present himself than Mitt Romney.
But I think Jeb Bush understood and what a lot of more legitimate
Republican candidates understood was this is not the time you want to be
leading this party because you`re hog-tied in a way Mitt Romney has been

You have to cue against everything that Obama has said, everything
he`s done and you really have to just play to that. It doesn`t leave any
room to maneuver. I think Jeb Bush recognized that and one of the reasons
he said this is not --

O`DONNELL: I`m only going to interrupt you to insert yet another
Republican complaint about the Republican ticket, this from the most
thoughtful of them all, George Will. Let`s listen to that.


GEORGE WILL, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: There is uncertainty surrounding
the Romney/Ryan tax cut plan because they have not specified the deductions
that will be closed and we know where the big money is -- mortgage interest
deductions, charitable deduction, taxing that`s compensation, which it is,
employer-provided health insurance and state and local taxes. All of those
you either hit only the rich, in which case you don`t get much money, or
you hit the middle class.


O`DONNELL: With conservatives like that on television, actually
saying truthful things about the Romney/Ryan ticket, they weren`t ready for
that. They expected it from some people. But there`s George Will, you`ve
got Laura Ingraham worried about them. You`ve got Rush Limbaugh today
saying, you know, forget about Romney himself. We know you don`t like him,
just vote against Obama.

It`s not a good time for that ticket.

BALL: It`s not a good time for that ticket. And George Will, you
know, he`s someone who was critical of Romney during the primary. Was even
critical post primary. And I think Romney probably thought that he would
get the George Wills and the Bill Kristols on his side.

O`DONNELL: Yes, but Will gets on board now. That`s how it`s supposed
to work. You get George now.

BALL: Right, especially with the Paul Ryan pick, in some ways that
was a pick to placate the George Wills and the Bill Kristols of the world.
Obviously, it didn`t work, I mean, as George Will pointing out there, I
think Bill Clinton used the fancy word arithmetic and it just doesn`t work

O`DONNELL: I think you didn`t mention Bill Kristol.

BALL: I did.

O`DONNELL: Listen to what Bill Kristol had to say in the "Weekly
Standard" in his column. "Now, he seems to be back to a pre-Ryan sort of
campaign, when a challenger merely appeals to disappointment with the
incumbent and tries to reassure voters he`s not too bad an alternative.
That isn`t generally a formula for victory. Mike Dukakis lost."

How cruel of Bill Kristol to remind anyone of the last Massachusetts
to run for president.

KORNACKI: Let me stand up for the integrity of Mike Dukakis a little
bit because he was very specific in what he wanted do. You might not have
agreed with it, but he was very specific. And I think that`s something
that`s catching up to Romney. I wish I could remember who wrote this.
There`s some political science research on this that basically says voters
don`t necessarily care about policy details, policy minutia, but they care
about the appearance that their leaders have a mastery of policy in a
policy details.

I think what`s coming through here, probably is alarming some swing
voters is the sense that Romney just doesn`t have that at all. And when
the coverage is George Will or other Republican voices raising alarms
about, hey, you know, he won`t tell us anything about the deductions that
he`ll do away with, he won`t tell us anything about the loopholes, I think
voters interpret that this is just not a guy who is serious about policy
and not running the country. So, he doesn`t even have that going for him.

O`DONNELL: OK. Just for perspective now, four years ago, President
Obama, then Senator Obama, was two points behind John McCain, on this day
exactly, on September 10th, 2008. Barack Obama two points below John
McCain, goes on to win.

And then let`s take a look at convention bounces over the years, going
back to 1988 with Michael Dukakis. Michael Dukakis got a 7-point bounce.
George H.W. Bush got a six-point bounce.

Bill Clinton got the biggest one in this list in `92, he got a 16.
That went against President Bush`s 5-point bounce. Again, Clinton five
point in `96, three points for Dole.

Gore gets an eight in 2000. Bush gets an eight. So, really, it`s a
draw. No bounce.

You see bouncing has kind of disappeared as you move up -- it gets
down to these tiny little bounces and, Steve, I`m not even sure we can call
what`s happening now a bounce. There`s a real move. You can see in this
poll, the president definitely has a measurable move. But that isn`t what
we used to call a bounce.

KORNACKI: It isn`t but the one that jumps out at me is 2004, because
I really see a mirror image of 2004 here. Kerry actually lost ground after
his convention. I think something very similar happening with Romney.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Romney lost one point exactly like John Kerry did.
And George W. Bush picked up two. That`s exactly what happened here.
Romney lost one point, and President Obama picked up two.

KORNACKI: If you remember that New York convention, first week of
September 2004, Bush came out of here, his average lead in national poll
got up to about 6, 7 points. He kept the lead all the way through the
debates. Kerry had a very good first debate. That tightened the race. It
was tight the rest of the way.

But I see something potentially similar happening here where Obama now
gets ahead and can keep that lead maybe for a few weeks.

O`DONNELL: Well, we`ll see what the debates have to say about that.

Steve Kornacki and Krystal, thank you both for joining me.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Mitt Romney spent another weekend trying to
evade reporters` questions but that`s going to be a lot more difficult in
23 days when Romney takes his place beside President Obama in their first
presidential debate.

We`ll see just who unprepared Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are right now
for their debates, coming up. That`s going to be next with Karen Finney
and Joy Reid.

Also joining us tonight in THE LAST WORD exclusive, the mother who
moved the Democratic convention to tears last week in her description of
her baby daughter`s heart surgeries and what Obamacare means to her family.

And later, Allen West is back in the "Rewrite" tonight because Allen
West once again said something. That`s all it takes for Allen West to get
himself in the "Rewrite". That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: If you can`t answer questions about your policy positions,
specific questions, how can you possibly survive in a presidential debate?
Well, we`ll see just how prepared or unprepared Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan
are for their debates next. Karen Finney and Joy Reid will join me.

And Mitt Romney actually says that his business experience is what
makes him worthy of the presidency. We`ll talk to Matt Taibbi later on the
Bain way of doing business. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: At this hour, 23 nights from now, we will all be watching
the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and the one
term sort of liberal former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney. Eight
days later, the vice presidential debate will occur. Mitt Romney has to do
better than this.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It was an energy bill on the floor of
the Senate, loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies and it
was sponsored by Bush and Cheney. You know who voted for it? You might
never know. That one.


O`DONNELL: And Paul Ryan has to do better than this.


definitively that the surge principles would not work in Afghanistan,
certainly a accounting for different conditions in that different country
and conditions are certainly different. We have NATO allies helping us for
one, and even the geographic differences are huge. But the
counterinsurgency principles also can work in Afghanistan. McClellan
didn`t say anything opposite of that.


O`DONNELL: As you might really the McClellan that Sarah Palin was
talking about was actually a McKiernan, as in General David McKiernan, then
the top commander in Afghanistan.

This weekend, the guys who have to outdo the McCain-Palin debate
performances showed they`re not quite there yet and they`re going to need a
lot more debate prep.


ROMNEY: So everything I want to do with regards to taxation, follow
simple principles, which is bring our rates down to encourage growth, keep
revenue up by limiting deductions and exemptions and make sure we don`t put
any bigger burden on middle income people, in fact, I want to lower the
burden on middle income people.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: But, Governor, where are the specifics of
how you get to this math? Isn`t that an issue?

ROMNEY: Well, the specifics are these, which is those principles I
described are the heart of my policy.

GREGORY: Can you give me an example of a loophole that you will

ROMNEY: Well, I can tell you that people at the high end, high income
taxpayers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions.

RYAN: If you take those loopholes, those tax shelters away from high
income earners, more of their income is subject to taxation and that allows
us to lower tax rates on everybody. What we don`t want to do is cut some
back room deal like Obamacare and then hatch it --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not say right now --

RYAN: Because we want to have this -- George, because we want to have
this debate in the public.


O`DONNELL: Exactly. They want to have this debate in public, which
is why they must never publicly reveal what tax deduction and tax loopholes
they would actually eliminate. As any good Republican knows, the only way
to have a public debate is to keep the details secret.

Joy Reid, if this was the Romney/Ryan sandwich shop, they would tell
you, OK, this is the bread, and of course it would be ordinary, plain,
boring white bread, sandwich. They tell you, OK -- but they would never
tell you what`s in the sandwich. You have no idea. It`s just the bread
and here.

I mean, if you don`t include what the tax deduction piece is in your
tax bill, you aren`t telling us what`s in your tax bill.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: And you forgot also that the sandwich would
cost more if you`re a middle class customer than if you`re a rich guy where
you would probably get the sandwich for free. It`s interesting because
these were not surprise questions. There was nothing gotcha in the
interviews. I watched back the Paul Ryan interview a few times, watched
back this interview with Mitt Romney.

They knew it was coming. They knew it was going to be asked of them.
And they still seemed completely and utterly unprepared to answer the most
basic question about their 5-point plan.

What`s in it? What deductions are you going to cut in order to lower
tax rates? And how do you reconcile the fact that independent analyses say
you`re going to raise taxes on the middle class.

And you know what? Just repeating the name of the questioner over and
over again as Paul Ryan did, that isn`t really an answer.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, I think the debate moderator should be
watching this, to find different ways through the walls that these guys
have. And one of them might be to say to them, OK, could you tell us three
tax deductions that you will protect, to just tell us ones you`re
absolutely opposed to touching in any way. It has to be more than one
because they`ll all say, oh, don`t touch charitable because that goes to
churches and all that stuff.

I mean, you got -- the debate moderators have to go in the front door,
the back door, every way they can with these guys.

follow-up question prepared. So, for example, when Mitt Romney says, well,
of course, I support the preexisting conditions in health care reform, but
what he really means is people with continuous care -- OK, then what about
the 89 million Americans who are not covered under that framework, right?

I mean, because he keeps talking in these generalities about these
framework. It`s very much management consultant speak where the two
circles on the Venn diagram. Really, they`re just talking about that
little piece in the middle, with lots of good rhetoric and talking points.
So I think the interviewer, the moderators will have to be ready to come
back with really solid follow-up questions to really expose the rhetoric
for what it is, which is, it`s just, you know, fluff.

O`DONNELL: Which is why we would now like to see Norah O`Donnell
become one of the moderators. We`re going to show what she did yesterday
with Paul Ryan, where this is one of those for it before he was against it
things where Paul Ryan voted for defense cuts, which he now opposes. Let`s
just let Nora do this. Let`s see it.


NORAH O`DONNELL, CBS NEWS: And you also voted for those. And now
you`re saying that --


O`DONNELL: -- that you didn`t vote for them.

RYAN: I voted for the Budget Control Act. But the Obama
administration proposed $478 billion in defense cuts. We don`t agree with
that. Our budget rejected that. And then on top of that is another $500
billion in defense cuts.

O`DONNELL: Right. It`s a trillion in defense spending and you voted
for it.

RYAN: No, Norah --

O`DONNELL: You voted for it.

RYAN: I voted for the Budget Control Act.

O`DONNELL: It included defense spending.


O`DONNELL: OK. Debate moderator, study that.

It`s not just going to be the moderator. Jim Lehrer is going to do
what he does. But then, you know, President Obama is going to be standing
there when you finished your answer. Or Joe Biden is going to be standing
there besides Ryan when he tries to sneak by with that.

REID: And you know what the magic was here? No matter how many times
Paul Ryan said Norah --


REID: I mean, the bottom line he was trying to sell that he voted for
a bill but not the contents of the bill. He voted for the name of the
bill. Did he just like who it was named after. I mean, you voted for the
bill or you didn`t and he can`t answer that. I think in your previous
segment, Krystal actually got to this point. And I think it`s a smart

They`ve taken whatever it is we thought was good about Paul Ryan. I`m
starting to think that maybe we were wrong about what we thought about him.
That he`s a numbers guy, that he sort of a wonk.

O`DONNELL: I never thought that.

REID: You never thought it. I do. I have to admit. I was one of
those people who thought this seems to be a sentient human being, and
they`ve subtracted all of that and all they`ve done is poured in a second
Mitt Romney. He is like a second Mitt Romney. He won`t answer any
questions, has no specifics and doesn`t understand nor can he explain his
own policies.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, my favorite Ryan thing is when he does that
we don`t want to get too technical thing. And when everybody says I don`t
want to get too technical, it`s because they can`t. They`ll get in trouble
if they do.

FINNEY: Yes. But here`s the thing about that. And I actually think
we have to be very careful because we`re very smart people and we know a
lot of facts and a lot of information so does Joe Biden, so does Barack
Obama. But you can`t assume that the audience watching the debates will
have the same level of knowledge as the president and vice president.
Meaning, it will be easy in some instances, I mean, if you didn`t know
specifically what Norah was talking about, even I thought she did a great
job there, you might have believed Paul Ryan because he says it like the
sky is purple. Like, you, Norah, you just don`t get it.

So I think we have to be careful. I do think part of the trick that
the president and the vice president will have is also to expose that not
only is it fluff, but it`s also misleading fluff in a way that also makes
it clear that yes, I know what, yes, I know what I`m talking about. No,
this person doesn`t know what he`s talking about despite how many times he
might say my name or the moderator`s name.

O`DONNELL: The pressure is building on these Republican debaters and
the debate moderators. Joy Reid and Karen Finney, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

REID: Thank you.

FINNEY: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Mitt Romney made the mistake of saying
yesterday that he likes some parts of Obamacare. So his handlers had to
immediately apologize to the extreme right wing of his party. That`s
coming up.

And Tea Party Congressman Allen West tries to rewrite the president`s
campaign slogan. And that has crazy Allen West in tonight`s "Rewrite."


O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, Mitt Romney trapped. This is
the point in the campaign when Mitt Romney planned to start sounding more
reasonable to swing voters, to voters in the middle. This is what
Republicans usually do in presidential campaigns ever since Richard Nixon
showed them the way. Nixon said Republican presidential candidates have to
run to the right in the primaries and then run to the center in the general

But Mitt Romney is having more trouble doing than that than any other
Republican nominee before him. He tried to do it yesterday. On "Meet the
Press" when David Gregory asked him what would happen to people with
preexisting conditions if the Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act
that guarantees them coverage.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not getting rid of all
of health care reform. Of course, there are a number of things that I like
in health care reform that I`m going to put in place. One is to make sure
that those with preexisting conditions can get coverage. Two is to make
sure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that
cover their family up to whatever age they might like.

I also want individuals to be able to buy insurance -- health
insurance on their own, as opposed to only being able to get it, on a tax
advantage basis, through their company.


O`DONNELL: That`s the same guy who put it this way at the Republican


ROMNEY: We must rein in the sky rocketing cost of health care by
repealing and replacing Obamacare.


O`DONNELL: The trouble for Romney is that the right wing Republicans
won`t let him run to the center this time. They forced the Romney campaign
to back down from the centrist rhetoric that Romney used on "Meet the
Press." A Romney campaign aide told the "National Review" after the
interview aired that Romney didn`t really mean it.

The aide said, "in a competitive environment, the marketplace will
make available plans that include coverage for what there is demand for.
He was not proposing a federal mandate to require insurance plans to offer
those particular features."

For Mitt Romney, health care is just a political subject for him to
manipulate depending on what audience he happens to be talking to at any
given moment. For many Americans, health insurance is a more important
subject than that, much more important. But you would never know that by
watching the Republican Convention.

At the Democratic Convention, we heard from a mother, Stacey Lihn, who
needs the guarantees that Obamacare has given her family because her
daughter`s life depends on it.


STACEY LIHN, HEALTH CARE ADVOCATE: Zoe`s third open heart surgery
will happen either next year or the year after. If Mitt Romney becomes
president and Obamacare is repealed, there`s a good chance she`ll hit her
lifetime cap. There`s no way we could afford to pay for all the care she
needs to survive.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now for an exclusive interview and their first
since the convention are Caleb, Stacey and Zoe Lihn. Stacey, first of all,
I just want to hear from you what it was like to address the convention. I
take it you`ve never spoken to an audience of 30 million people before.

S. LIHN: No, I haven`t. I`ve never spoken to an audience before, so
it was quite a surreal moment for me. But I was speaking from the heart
and it was something I feel passionate about. So I was able to go through
and share my message.

O`DONNELL: I think Zoe doesn`t have a microphone on her. But she
doesn`t need one. We know. We have a feeling she`s right there near you.
Caleb, you`re trying to provide health care for your daughter and literally
keep her alive through what is now a series of heart surgeries. There`s
another one planned, isn`t there, for her next year?

CALEB LIHN, HEALTH CARE ADVOCATE: That`s correct, Lawrence. She has
-- she`s had two open heart surgeries and her condition requires a series
of three planned surgeries. So her third and final planned surgery is
scheduled -- tentatively will occur next year or the year after.

O`DONNELL: And you heard Mitt Romney say that -- his aides now say
that the marketplace can take care of your problems. Stacey, the Romney
campaign feels that you didn`t need any government intervention here at
all, that the health insurance market was going to offer you whatever you
needed. They don`t say what price you`d have to pay for that, but they say
you would be able to get whatever you need in a private market.

S. LIHN: Right. That`s just absolutely not true. It would be --
that would be great if that were true. You know, with her reaching --
getting very close to her lifetime cap, once she reaches that, you know,
multiple million dollar max, there`s no way. I don`t see anyone saying oh,
sure, we would love to cover this child.

So it was -- it`s scary to think, you know, by that third surgery and
if she needs a heart transplant, which many children with her defect end up
do having a heart transplant or needing -- she has a chronic condition that
she is going to need care for her lifetime. And there`s a lot that can
happen and a lot that can go wrong.

And those medical bills just keep adding up and adding up. And it`s
frightening to think about a repeal and losing that coverage.

O`DONNELL: Stacey, you changed my perspective on lifetime caps in
the sense that when I thought about lifetime caps, I always thought of it
being a problem for older people, that somewhere up toward your 60s,
probably before you get to Medicare, if you`ve had a lot of problems, you
might hit your lifetime cap. But as soon as you started speaking about
this, it become very clear that the huge risk in lifetime caps is to
children born with serious problems that need surgeries.

They are in the most likely position to hit a lifetime cap.

S. LIHN: Yeah, absolutely. With the rate of birth defects going up
and sky rocketing and -- here you go -- and one in 100 children are born
with congenital heart defects. And the defect that Zoe has is extremely
expensive to treat. And you`re essentially reconstructing an entire heart.
By the time she was four months of age, she had had her second surgery and
we were well above a million dollars in cost of care at that point.

So a lot of children are needing significant medical care. And with
the technology that medicine is coming up with and being able -- 20 years
ago, Zoe wouldn`t be alive today. But advancements, you know, they`re able
to reconstruct half of her heart to work for her entire body, so we`re
seeing a lot of kids survive that would never have survived before.

O`DONNELL: Caleb, what would it mean to you as a family financially
if Mitt Romney was elected, if the Republican Congress was in place and if
they repealed the Affordable Care Act, lifetime limits immediately came
back into force through insurance companies? If you went through that
lifetime limit, have you even begun to contemplate what your options might
be, what you would have to do?

C. LIHN: We`ve obviously thought about it. And it`s -- like Stacey
said at the convention the other night, it`s always in the back of our mind
and sometimes in the front of our mind. And you know, we talk about it.
And it would be devastating. Frankly, once we get to her third surgery, we
would hit the cap, and then we would be at a point where -- you know, we`ve
always had insurance. We`ve always paid premiums - that she would no
longer be able to get insurance anywhere through anybody.

And it would be to a point where we would have to declare bankruptcy
and deplete our assets enough. And then we`d have to go on some kind of
public assistance just to get some kind of bare minimum health care for
her. And that`s questionable if even that would be adequate, given the
complexity of her heart condition.

O`DONNELL: Stacey, I think this network might have been the only one
that carried your speech, and that`s because one of the people working
downstairs under the podium actually saw you when you were being prepped on
how to use the teleprompter. And he heard some of what you had to say.
And he then told me ahead of time about your speech. And I alerted the
control room here to make sure that they picked it up.

Because what he said is that when you were practicing with the
teleprompter and how to do this downstairs, that among all the professional
podium workers who have been working at these conventions for many years,
there actually wasn`t a dry eye there listening you saying some of the few
words of your speech. Did you understand that you were having such an
emotional impact on the people who were prepping this convention, before
you even got to that audience?

S. LIHN: You know, I did. When I was rehearsing that speech, it was
really the first time that I had spoken it aloud and just getting down
exactly my pace and everything. And it really impacted me. It`s one thing
to read it and do that.

But when I was rehearsing it, everything just kind of flooded me and I
kind of had a mini meltdown right there while I was rehearsing. And
everyone in that room was just completely stunned and blown away, and gave
me a room to go sit in to compose myself.

But yeah. It -- we live this every day. And so it`s easy to forget
the impact of it, because we know it`s life or death every day. She could
go into congestive heart failure any day. So forgetting how monumental
that is, I think when people hear our story, they`re just blown away by it.
So just talking about repeal and there`s a whole bunch of emotions that go
along with that when I`m speaking on it.

So, I mean, this is life or death for us. It`s not a political issue.
And so, you know, that rehearsal was just kind of surprising and it blew me
away at the reaction.

O`DONNELL: Stacey, I can tell you that some of the people backstage
weren`t sure you were going to be able to make it through your speech on
stage. But you did. And you had the awe of the convention and everyone in
the room. And Stacey and Caleb, thank you very much for joining us
tonight. And it is so great to see Zoe healthily marching around that room

S. LIHN: Thank you.

C. LIHN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, the next time someone tells you they want to run the
government like a business, you can explain to them how Mitt Romney ran
Bain Capital, because Matt Taibbi is going to explain that to you.


O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, the irresistible Allen West.
Irresistible for Rewrite purposes, of course, because the man is very good,
possibly even currently the very, very best at saying really crazy stuff.
Allen West craziness was best captured in a TV commercial done by his
Democratic opponent, Patrick Murphy, who put Allen West`s ravings in the
mouths of babes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re not a lady.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re the most vile.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Communist party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get the beep out of the United States.

GROUP: You`re a threat to the gene pool.


O`DONNELL: Allen West is running for his political life as a result
of that commercial. Now that Pat Murphy has made the race a statistical
tie, the most obvious strategy for Allen West at this point is to start
sounding sane. But Allen West remains reluctant to tamper with his brand,
which brings us to the Allen West dictionary, in which the word forward
means, quote, "a Soviet Union Marxist socialist theme."

That`s what Allen West sees when he sees this.


OBAMA: I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair
shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same
rules. And I believe America is on the way up.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.


O`DONNELL: Here`s Allen West`s interpretation of that ad for his
audience at the Republican Jewish Coalition in Boca Raton, Florida, last


REP. ALLEN WEST (R), FLORIDA: They want to bring out an old Soviet
Marxist socialist theme for their campaign called Forward.



O`DONNELL: Yeah. Yeah. You heard them. Allen West had the full
approval of his audience with that one, including the members of the
audience who are currently being kept alive by a socialist program called
Medicare. But Allen West wasn`t there just to tear down the president and
decode his Soviet Marxist socialist messaging.

He was there to give Republicans their marching orders.


WEST: We are going to go forward.


O`DONNELL: What? Allen West just finished explaining that the word
forward is a Soviet Marxist socialist something or other. And then he used
that very same word in telling his audience what to do? Of course, his
audience immediately jumped out of their seats and started screaming, are
you crazy? How do you expect us to listen to you if you don`t even listen
to yourself. And then, of course, the Republican Jewish Coalition`s
bouncers must have just thrown Allen West out of the room. They told Allen
West to never insult their intelligence like that again, or even insult his
own intelligence, which is what he seemed to be doing.

That turns out is not exactly how it went down.


WEST: We`re going to go forward and recommit to the principles and
values that made these great United States unlike any other nation that the
world has ever known, because of you and your spirit that cannot be
defeated. We honor our traditional values, which means that we will
continue to talk about God, because God blessed this great nation.


WEST: And we will uphold the promises of national security. God
bless you all. You`ve got 57 days. Let`s make this happen, ladies and



O`DONNELL: They love him.

And so there are just 57 days left in Pat Murphy`s campaign to restore
sanity to Florida`s 22nd congressional district.



let Detroit go bankrupt. I don`t think he understood that saving the
automobile worker, saving the industry, what it meant to all of America,
not just auto workers. I think he saw it the Bain way. I mean this
sincerely. I think he saw it in terms of balance sheets and write-offs.


O`DONNELL: For more on the Bain way, I`m joined by the author of the
"Rolling Stone" cover story "Greed and Debt, The True Story of Mitt Romney
and Bain Capital, How the GOP Presidential Candidate and His Private Equity
Firm Staged an Epic Wealth Grab, Destroyed Jobs and Stuck Others With the
Bill," Matt Taibbi, contributing editor for "Rolling Stone."

Matt, what is the Bain way?

MATT TAIBBI, "ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE": Private equity firms in
general -- this is something people generally don`t understand. When they
take over companies, they borrow massive amounts of money that the company
has to pay back. So you`re essentially borrowing against the assets of a
company that you don`t own yet.

So when Mitt Romney talks about debt and he talks about the national
debt and borrowing money that you don`t have, that`s exactly what he did
for years. His model is very similar actually to those no money down
mortgages, where you put down five percent, three percent and you get the
house that you actually can`t pay for.

O`DONNELL: But they`re planning to sell. They`re not planning to
live in the house for very long. They`re planning to flip this over to
somewhere else.

TAIBBI: Right, this is an important distinction. They don`t have to
live in the house. In this metaphor, it works for the company -- it works
for Bain if the company turns around. But if the company doesn`t turn
around, they can literally just burn it down and loot it for its assets.
They can do what Mob -- what the Mob groups do --

O`DONNELL: Excuse me, the Mob?

TAIBBI: When they take over a restaurant, they can just run up
massive bills on its credit, and they`ll monetize it that way. And that`s
exactly what private equity firms can do. They can pay themselves massive
dividends against the company`s credit when they take over companies. And
Bain has done this in a number of instances, including with K.B Toys.

O`DONNELL: And also in the business model is fees. They get paid
fees for doing all of this stuff, in addition to the massive profit
potential they have.

TAIBBI: Exactly. So you borrow 300 million dollars that a company
like K.B. Toys has to pay back. Now they have all this debt. Now they
have to fire a bunch of people to pay for that debt. And Bain Capital
tells you who to fire. For the privilege of getting that advise, you have
to pay them fees of up to 10 million dollars or 15 million dollars a year.

So now you have two huge burdens that you didn`t have before. You
have the debt service and you have these annual fees, which can turn into
massive amounts of money.

O`DONNELL: And from all this, what has Mitt Romney learned that will
be useful in the Oval Office.

TAIBBI: I guess having access to unlimited sums of money from the
Fed will be a nice change Before, he just had to go to Goldman Sachs or
Citigroup to get the money. Now he`ll just have easy access to unlimited

O`DONNELL: But these guys are not at all concerned with anything
beyond the boundaries of the deal. Whereas in government you have to be
concerned with everything.

TAIBBI: Right. And I think, again, this is something people don`t
understand about these kinds of companies. A lot of people think that
they`re in the business of turning around companies. They`re not. They`re
in the business of making these deals work. And these deals only have to
work for the private equity firm and their investors. They don`t have to
work for the company that gets taken over. And that`s the important

O`DONNELL: Matt Taibbi of "Rolling Stone," thanks for joining me

You can hear more from Matt on our web site at the very last word.
"THE ED SHOW" is up next.


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