updated 9/19/2012 12:38:04 PM ET 2012-09-19T16:38:04

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
September 18, 2012

Guests: Ana Marie Cox, Salman Rushdie


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Mitt Romney is drowning in stupid people.
They work for his campaign. They send Clint Eastwood out on the convention
stage. They contribute money to his campaign. They ask him incredibly
stupid questions at his fundraisers, which we now have on tape.

But, as that same tape proves, the very stupidest person in Mitt
Romney`s life tonight is Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: When did it all begin to go so very wrong
for Mitt Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not concerned about the
very poor.

I like being able to fire people.

Corporations are people, my friend.

I`m not familiar with precisely what I said but I stand by what I said
whatever it was.

WAGNER: Which brings us to the present day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s been a rough day for Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney is blowing this race.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: His message is being drowned out by his very
own words.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: That shocking tape from Romney.

JANSING: Captured on tape.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Governor Romney`s caught on tape moment.

WAGNER: In his words, Mitt Romney believes that nearly half the
country, 47 percent, will never take personal responsibility for their
lives.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was speaking off the cuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that your wording might have been
inelegant.

ROMNEY: It`s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Others have said you that you`ve just kissed half
of the electorate good guy.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When you are president of
the United States --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want to be
president, you got to work for everybody.

CARNEY: You are president of all the people.

OBAMA: Not just for some.

ROMNEY: Frankly, we have two very different views about America.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: The timing is very bad for the Romney campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of the worst weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another week lost for the campaign.

HALL: A brutal last three weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A brutal three weeks.

WAGNER: An inescapable downward spiral.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: The number one disaster movie of the year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is too much for many Republicans to handle.

ROMNEY: It`s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I`m
speaking off the cuff.

MATTHEWS: If I were a rich man -- jabi, dibi, dibi, dibi, dibi, dam.
Dumb.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: After watching Mitt Romney`s secretly reported remarks at
a Florida fundraiser, leading conservative columnist wrote Peggy Noonan
wrote in "The Wall Street Journal" moments ago: "It`s time for Republicans
to hold an intervention for Mitt Romney. This is not how big leaders talk.
It`s how shallow campaign operatives talk. Romney`s theory of the case is
all wrong, his understanding of the political topography is wrong. I think
there is a broad and growing feeling now among Republicans that this thing
is slipping out of Romney`s hands.

It`s time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one. It`s
not big. It`s not brave. It`s not thoughtfully tackling great issues. An
intervention is in order. Mitt, this isn`t working."

Peggy Noonan was, of course, writing in response to the release of a
video last night showing Mitt Romney insulting and lying about 47 percent
of the American people.

Both the Romney campaign and the Obama campaign spent the day reacting
to the clip of the video that was released last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the
president no matter what. All right? There are 47 percent who are with
him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims,
who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who
believe they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name
it. These are people who pay no income taxes. And so, my job is not to
worry about those people. I`ll never convince them that they should take
personal responsibility and care of their lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today, President Obama sat down with David Letterman who,
as it happens, was also mentioned by Mitt Romney on that same secret tape
in an insulting and untrue way. We`ll have more on Romney versus Letterman
later.

Here is President Obama`s reaction to Romney`s seething resentment of
the 47 percent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, TV HOST: I don`t know if you have seen the
videotape, but I`m sure you know what we`re referencing here. Mitt Romney
at a fundraiser I believe in Florida, there`s a cell phone videotaping his
remarks and he talks about dismissive terms why 47 percent of the people
voting don`t matter to him.

What does that mean? Is that what rich guys at country clubs are
talking about?

OBAMA: Well, I don`t know what he was referring to. But I can tell
you this -- when I won in 2008, 47 percent of the American people voted for
John McCain. They didn`t vote for me. And what I said on election night
was even though you didn`t vote for me, I hear your voices and I`m going to
work as hard as I can to be your president.

And one of the things I`ve learned as president is you represent the
entire country. And when I meet Republicans, as I`m traveling around the
country, you know, they are hard-working family people who care deeply
about this country, and my expectation is, is that if you want to be
president, you`ve got to work for everybody, not just for some.

And --

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And here is Mitt Romney clinging the wreck age of his
campaign today on FOX News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Others have said that you just kissed half of the
electorate good-bye on this election year, that you all but called them
moochers. Did you?

ROMNEY: No. I`m talking about a perspective of individuals who I`m
not likely to get to support me. I recognize that those people who are not
paying income tax, are going to say, gosh, this provision that Mitt keeps
talking about, lowering income taxes, that`s not going to be really
attractive to them and those that are dependent upon government and those
that think government`s job is to redistribute, I`m not going to get them.
I don`t expect to get 60 or 70 percent of the vote. I understand some
portion will be the president`s, some portion will be mine. I`ve got to
get as many as I can from every single cohort in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Republican criticism of Romney today was sharp and swift.
Conservative columnist David Brooks in "The New York Times" writes today,
Romney`s comment is a country club fantasy. It`s what self-satisfied
millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people
have about Romney, he`s running a depressingly inept presidential
campaign."

Conservative leader and columnist Bill Kristol of "The Weekly
Standard," writes, "Romney seems to have contempt not just for the
Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions who intend to vote for
him. Romney`s comments are stupid and arrogant."

And Republican Joe Scarborough said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: I don`t look at those 47 percent as
victims. I look at them as people I want to help.

I would give a conservative message, but it wasn`t aimed at the 1
percent. The 1 percent can take care themselves. Let`s get the job --
that`s not the Romney we`re seeing there. That`s not the conservative.
That does sound like a plutocrat. That does sound like Thurston Howell
III.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, Bill O`Reilly who has never successfully advised
a presidential candidate gave Mitt Romney this advice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: I`m sorry if I offended people, but I have
to get your attention and I did. That`s how I would handle it.

If he`s going to back off, Charles, if he`s going to try to parse it,
he`s going to lose. He`s going to lose. He`s got to be right in your
face. Mitt Romney has to be right in your face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: O`Reilly`s next book, how to lose a presidential campaign.

A new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" national poll of likely voters
shows President Obama leading by five points, 50-45 percent among
registered voters. President Obama`s job approval rating has reached 50
percent for the first time since March. Tonight, Nate Silver of the "New
York Times" "FiveThirtyEight" blog forecasts that on November 6th,
President Obama will win 303 Electoral College votes, Mitt Romney will win
235.

And President Obama has 73 percent chance of winning the election.
Mitt Romney has a 27 percent chance.

Howard Fineman, I need you tonight. I am craving historical context
for campaign collapses, campaign meltdowns, campaign disaster days.

I have never seen anything like it in a campaign.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON: Well, Lawrence I wrote in "The Huffington
Post" today, two names, Mike Dukakis and Bob Dole.

O`DONNELL: Oh, come on. They were star in (INAUDIBLE). They never
had a die like this. Bob Dole falling off the stage once in his
presidential campaign was nothing like this. Come on.

FINEMAN: Well, I would like to say, and my instincts as a political
reporter and somebody who`s got 48 days left of the campaign left to cover,
are all telling me to say it ain`t over. But what Mitt Romney has done,
the mistakes he`s made, the impact of this video, cannot be overstated,
because not only does he dismiss the 47 percent, tens of millions of whom
are Republicans by the way, they`re Republicans. Many of them are
Republicans.

And it was the Republicans` policy who created a lot of people who
don`t pay federal income taxes.

Not only that. If you watch the whole video, which Krystal and I did,
and everybody has done, you see that Mitt Romney has an other worldly,
almost nonhuman view of campaigning. It`s something other people do it`s
about issues that will be specified later. It has an entirely mechanical
and distant feel to it.

There`s a reason why, Lawrence, you and I were on the floor of the
Republican convention. Did those people love Mitt Romney? Did they even -
-

O`DONNELL: Love?

FINEMAN: Did they ever really like Mitt Romney? He was almost
incidental at his own convention. That`s what`s happening now. That`s
what`s happening now. That`s why Peggy Noonan and Bill Kristol and
everybody else is saying --

KRYSTAL BALL, "THE CYCLE": And Linda McMahon and Scott Brown --

FINEMAN: -- they`re all saying forget it. They`re saying forget it.

BALL: Can I throw one name out there?

O`DONNELL: I want to get inasmuch tape of Romney as we can, because
I`ve watched the whole thing. It gets crazier and crazier and crazier.
But you learn things like I think I`ve now learned something about this
Republican obsession with tax cuts. Romney actually thinks that we are on
our way to a 100 percent tax rate in this country.

Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The income on top which the president wants to take to 40
percent. Then there`s state tax in most states and sales tax. So you end
up having to take 100 percent of people`s income.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: End up having to take 100 percent of people`s income.
That crazy person thinks that`s where we`re going, and that`s why he`s
obsessed with nothing but tax cuts.

BALL: I mean, he can`t possibly believe that when he looks at his own
taxes.

O`DONNELL: See, here`s the frightening thing, I think he believes it.
I think he`s crazy and stupid and lives in this unbelievably ignorant
bubble and he believes that.

BALL: Well, and that`s a real question here. Some people who have
taken I think the most chartable view you can possibly take, said that he
was just pandering to those in the room. That he doesn`t actually believe
the stuff.

But the problem is we have no idea what this man believes. That`s the
essential problem. The American public has no idea what this man believes.

So as some of his advisers and some people around the campaign have
called for him to give a major speech, I think he needs to very basically
outline -- what is your philosophy? Is it really just scorn for half the
population? Is that what you`re all about? Because that certainly is what
it`s coming off as.

FINEMAN: What it portrays to me is that he doesn`t -- again, it`s
been said before, but nothing proves it like this video. He doesn`t
understand what the lives of average people are like. He just has no clue.
He has no concept. He has no idea of the tax burdens.

He has no idea of the fact, Lawrence, that very hard-working,
conservative people rely on government from time to time. They may not
always want to acknowledge it, but they understand it. He`s not living in
the world of America today. He`s just not.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: His talk begins with a discussion of inheritance. He says
I didn`t inherit anything from my father. And while at the same time
saying, oh, well I did inherit $1 million from my father. He doesn`t then
explain to his audience that loves, you know, inheritance that he was so
rich by the time his father died, he was richer than his father. He didn`t
need them.

And then he talks about giving money to his sons and giving money to
his grand -- and he gets big laughs about inheritance. Everybody in that
room is sitting there thinking in terms of inheritance when in fact most
people in this country never inherit anything. That`s not how they get
their start, by inheritance.

BALL: That small room right there is his comfort zone. Those are
essentially the only people, I think you`re right, Howard, in the country
that he really truly gets and relates to. And that`s why he`s so
comfortable sharing his in other most thoughts here.

But when you ask the American people, they don`t think that the number
one problem with our economy is that poor people are lazy. They think that
they need jobs. And in fact the message, that the Romney campaign is
trying to push, that it`s the Obama economy that`s causing all these
problems is directly at odds with the idea that the real problem that poor
people are a bunch of lazy moochers who don`t pay enough in taxes.

FINEMAN: Lawrence, you can`t make it up. I mean, that video was
punctuated by the sounds of wine bottles, corks popping, you know? I like
that --

O`DONNELL: By the way, the stupidest people I have ever heard speak
at a fundraiser. He was responding to questions from abject rich dummies
who know less than he does about the universe.

FINEMAN: It almost but not quite made me feel sympathetic towards
Mitt Romney. Not quite.

O`DONNELL: You are just overflowing with sympathy, Howard.

FINEMAN: Not quite. You`ve got to listen to all these rich people
telling you how to run your campaign. I mean, I just think -- has Barack
Obama -- if we did a videotape of some of Barack Obama`s events, might we
found some things similar? Yes. But the difference is --

O`DONNELL: No, no, no, we wouldn`t find anything vaguely similar in
any comparable way.

FINEMAN: The difference is President Obama has conveyed a sense that
he understands what the lives of real people in America are like. That`s
indispensable to him as a candidate and indispensible to him as president.

The reason why Mitt Romney is behind, the reason why that poll showed
what it showed, the reason why most insiders think he`s blown it, is that
he`s never conveyed a sense that he understands what the lives of real
people in America are like. He just can`t get over that hump. And unless
in some miraculous way he can between now and November, he`s toast.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, are you going to spend the full hour tomorrow on
your show showing more of this tape? Just roll it.

BALL: I have a feeling the ratings would be good.

O`DONNELL: That`s what I`m going to do. It`s going to be tape all
night.

Howard Fineman and Krystal Ball, thanks for joining me.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, we have more -- much, much more from these
secret Romney tape. His absolutely crazy and dangerous thinking about
Iran. Dangerous if you had any chance of winning the presidency, which of
course he doesn`t. And what Mitt Romney would do if he was Iran.

He actually advises Iran on how to terrorize the United States.
Thanks, Mitt.

You`ll also see Mitt Romney admit that Republicans have a huge problem
with Hispanic voters. You will also see him talk about his media strategy.
You`ll find out what he really thinks of Whoopi Goldberg. What he really
thinks of David Letterman, Jay Leno. All of that is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Author Salman Rushdie has a unique perspective on the
anti-American demonstrations going on around the world tonight. He`s had a
bounty on his life by Islamic extremists for more than two decades. He
will join me on the current crisis and it will be a cable TV exclusive.
That`s going to be coming up.

And next, guess which presidential candidate is giving terrorists
advice on how to attack the United States of America. Hint, it`s not
Barack Obama. Ana Marie Cox and Jonathan Capehart next on more of the
Romney tape.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We`re back with more of the secret tape made of Mitt
Romney at that fundraiser. We`re going to be running as much tape as we
can in this hour.

Joining me to review this portion of the tape: Ana Marie Cox,
political correspondent for "The Guardian," and Jonathan Capehart, an
editorial writer for the "Washington Post" and MSNBC contributor.

Now, here is, it`s very hard, Ana Marie and Jonathan. I`ve been
asking people to vote on what is the craziest thing Mitt Romney says on
this tape. I`m not sure anymore, but this is way up at the top of the
list.

This is a presidential candidate giving advice to terrorists about how
to terrorize the United States of America. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I mean, if I were Iran, if I were Iran, I mean, and a crazed
fanatic, I`d say, "Let`s get a little fissile material to Hezbollah and
have them carry it to Chicago or some other place. And then if anything
goes wrong or America starts acting up, we`ll just say, "And guess what?
Unless you stand down, why, we`re going to let off a dirty bomb."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Now, Rachel explained in the previous hour that the man
obviously doesn`t know what a dirty bomb is. But let`s just get to what
he`s actually doing there. Can he now stand there on a presidential debate
stage and not be asked why he was publicly giving advice to terrorists
around the world about how to terrorize this country?

ANA MARIE COX, THE GUARDIAN: Well, let`s give him credit. He didn`t
mean it to be public. He was giving private advice to terrorists.

O`DONNELL: Well, public, 150 people is public. None of those people
were sworn to secrecy, obviously.

COX: That`s true.

O`DONNELL: And this is not the first time that a secret so-called
fundraiser has been captured on personal video. It`s happened in past
campaigns.

COX: I was trying to help him out just a little bit.

O`DONNELL: All right. I get it.

COX: Because, you know, I was thinking isn`t it weird that John
McCain mangling the Beach Boys now seems a much more sober approach to
Iran. I never thought we would see the day when we saw someone so ineptly
engaging with another country that this is the part that seems to really
disqualify him.

I know people have talked about the 47 percent line and that indeed is
kind of horrifying. But there is nothing on this tape that makes you think
that is he ready to be president of the United States. And this is a
particularly scary sound bite from that tape.

O`DONNELL: So, Ana Marie, just to record your vote, are you voting
for this craziest he says, if you were Iran? That little part of it? Is
that his craziest --

COX: I think I`m going to have to go with that is the craziest. It`s
not the most entertaining.

O`DONNELL: That`s right. The stuff he said about "The View," of
course, is the most entertaining. That will be coming up later.

Jonathan, I want you to listen to what Mitt Romney says about his
position on Iran and how a nuclear Iran is unacceptable to him. Let`s
listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: It`s unacceptable to America to have a nuclear Iran. Instead
what this administration has done is communicate to the Iranians that we`re
more worried about Israel attacking them than we are about them becoming
nuclear. It`s extraordinary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: He is, of course, lying to the rich people imbeciles in
the room who don`t have any idea that President Obama actually said this
about a nuclear Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What I have said is that we will not countenance Iran getting
a nuclear weapon. My policy is not containment. My policy is to prevent
them from getting a nuclear weapon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, apparently, to be allowed in the fundraiser you
had to sign a pledge saying, no, I have not read a newspaper in the last
several years.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, WASHINGTON POST: Or watch television.

Look, reading the transcript of that sound bite before I even got to
the bottom I thought, well, wait a minute he`s got the same position as the
president of the United States, the current administration`s position. And
in the interviews that his campaign did, I believe it was late last week
when they were talking about his guys, his foreign policy people were
beating their chest how this would never happen, what was happening in the
Middle East, what happened in -- the tragic events in Libya, how that never
would have happened if Mitt Romney were president.

And they started talking about all the things that they would have
done as president in foreign policy. Before I got to the end of the "New
York Times" story with each item, whether it was Iran, Israel or Libya or
Egypt or the Arab spring, I kept thinking wait, the president is will be
doing that. The president is doing some variation of that.

He and the president don`t -- there`s no daylight between the two of
them. He knocks the president about red lines with Iran, and then in the
next breath says well, yes, I have the same red line as the president.
He`s incoherent when it comes to foreign policy.

O`DONNELL: Well, there is a huge difference in foreign policy between
the president and Mitt Romney on the troubles between Israel and the
Palestinians.

Let`s listen to Mitt Romney`s pessimistic, hopeless approach to that
issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I look at the Palestinians not wanting to seek peace anyway
for political purposes. Committed to this destruction and elimination of
Israel and these thorny issues and I say there`s just no way. And so what
you do is you say you move things along the best way you can, you hope for
some degree of stability, but you recognize this is going to remain an
unsolved problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And so there`s the goof ball from Bain saying that, well,
Israel, that`s the unsolvable problem of my presidency. I won`t even try.

Ana Marie, we`ve never had a candidate who could ever be that stupid
in front of five people, never mind 150 people.

COX: It`s true. And you know, for someone who constantly accuses the
president of throwing Israel under the bus. He`s thrown Israel under the
bus and driven away at high speed. You know, he`s been presented with a
problem and decided he just doesn`t want to deal with it, because it`s
unsolvable. I have to think if that`s the way that Bain approached, you
know, fixing companies, then perhaps we wouldn`t have Mitt Romney to run
against, you know, at all -- the president won`t Mitt Romney run against
because he wouldn`t be the successful businessman that he claims to be
today.

The Israel -- I mean, you keep saying this, Lawrence, and I can`t get
enough of this tape either because it`s so extraordinary. It is the car
crash that happens in slow motion and keeps happening.

You know, one doesn`t want to declare a candidate dead in the water.
Things can happen that we don`t expect. He could recover. But this is
truly nuttier (ph), in any kind of presidential campaign, and it`s one that
I haven`t seen anything like it unless you look back to the Lehman Brothers
collapse last year, about almost exactly a year ago in the McCain campaign.

O`DONNELL: The thing about it is any one of these clips would be
enough to devastate any presidential campaign. It`s just astonishing that
they`re all together, all collected on the same tape.

Ana Marie Cox, Jonathan Capehart -- thank you very much for sticking
me on that section of the tape. We`re going to have more sections of the
tape coming up. Thank you for joining me.

CAPEHART: Thanks.

COX: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Mitt Romney tells us in his secret videotape
that he believes that the economy will get better when he`s elected
president. And he doesn`t have to do anything at all for the economy to
get better. It will just be magic.

And then of course, there`s Mitt Romney`s view of "The View." Mitt
Romney talking about show business is coming up in the rewrite. The lost
man of the Republican Party, Mitt Romney, is just as lost when he starts
talking about David Letterman and why he will never do "Saturday Night
Live". That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
O`DONNELL: We`ve all seen Jimmy Fallon Slow Jam the news, but
for those who have trouble keeping up with this program and others, Jimmy
Fallon is just as good at Fast Jamming the news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": The next one is from
Lawrence O`Donnell, host of THE LAST WORD on MSNBC. He`s got a good show,
but like all of you, I`ve got things to do. So I can`t see all of it. So
let`s take a look at the clip.

O`DONNELL: Tonight I plan on unsuccessfully hitting on some wicked
huge babes.

FALLON: That`s what it`s about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a political year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Mitt Romney thinks he knows something about
late night TV and that`s in the Rewrite. Mitt Romney is also afraid, very,
very afraid of Latino voters. And he proved that on that secret tape made
at that fundraiser. We`ll have more of the secret tape coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: My reinforcements have arrived for more -- more analysis
of the Romney tape. We really need a couple of hours for this, because it
is -- you`ve listened to the whole thing.

REID: It`s on an endless loop. I don`t want to admit it.

O`DONNELL: Let`s get to Romney`s desperate fear of Hispanic voters.
Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The Hispanic voting block becomes as committed to the
Democrats as the African-American voting block has in the past, we`re in
trouble as a party and I think as a nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So that sick and stupid man just said that the Hispanic
vote is a threat to the nation. He thinks we`re in trouble, not just as a
Republican party. The nation is in trouble if the Hispanic vote decides to
vote Democratic.

REID: Because they vote wrong. If he had stopped as a party, that
would have been actually some coherent political analysis no the part of
Mitt Romney.

O`DONNELL: Other thoughtful people have said that. We can`t let this
happen to the party.

REID: Exactly, that if the Republican party doesn`t figure out a way
to encroach upon the Hispanic vote, then they are probably going to whither
away and die as a party. But he had to go and add that last bit, as a
nation, because, of course, anything that the Democratic party wants to do
is a fundamental threat to the core existence of the United States.

O`DONNELL: Karen, the question people are grappling with -- I don`t
think it`s hard -- is this does he really believe this. I think this
Romney that we`re hearing is the very first Romney we`ve ever heard who
really believes what he`s saying. He thinks the Hispanic vote is a threat
to this nation. He does believe that.

FINNEY: Well, and how about the fact that if you go back to the 2006
debate on immigration -- and it`s still rumbling out there with his good
friend Steve King and others, who truly believe -- when they talk about
those people and immigrants, they believe they`re a danger to this country.
They believe their very existence coming to this country is a danger to
this country.

I did love the part -- it`s like, well, we`ve already lost the African
Americans. We`ve lost the blacks. So now let`s see if we can get the
Latinos and save this country. It`s stunning, though, also in that it
shows that within the Republican party I do believe there`s this divide of
people who just don`t get it, that there just aren`t enough white voters in
this country anymore that think like that.

There just aren`t and win a national election. We are a majority
minority country. We are diverse racially, ethnically, religiously. Deal
with it.

(CROSS TALK)

O`DONNELL: Here`s how the threat to the nation looks tonight in the
polls: 68 percent of Latinos say they will vote for President Obama; 26
percent say they will vote for Mitt Romney. He can now bank on that 26
percent going down. Now let`s listen to what else he had to say.

REID: There`s more.

O`DONNELL: About how much he wishes -- of course as a joke -- that he
was Latino.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: My dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan,
was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico, and had he been
born of Mexican parents, I would have a better shot of winning this. But
he was unfortunately born of Americans living in Mexico. I say that
jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: I had to point out here last night to our audience that,
of course, his family was in Mexico because they fled the laws of the
United States, which so oppressively limited his great grand father to one
wife at a time. He needed five at a time, which you could only do in
Mexico. That`s why they were there.

But this idea of they all laugh when he says -- He says it would be
helpful to be Latino. And that whole audience laughs, because they know,
no, it wouldn`t, Mitt. That`s -- you wouldn`t get to be this big Bain hero
if you had grown up that way.

FINNEY: Again, it shows a complete lack of understanding of this
country, of people in this country, of Latinos and the -- for the Latino
immigrant story in this country -- in the Latino community, they are some
of the most optimistic people. They come to this country for -- to try and
do better because they are taking personal responsibility, because they
want to do better.

And even though they are -- a large percentage live close to or at the
poverty line, which are the 47 percent he was talking about, again, this is
a very optimistic community and a community that believes in the idea of
personal responsibility and working your way up and doing better. And yet
that`s not what he`s talking about at all. That`s not how he`s reflecting
that community at all.

O`DONNELL: But they are a population to be laughed about in a
Republican fund-raiser.

REID: Because being a Latino is a sweet deal. I think only being is
an African-American is a better benefit.

FINNEY: Because we have it easy, all those breaks.

REID: All those Latino presidents. The problem is there are a lot of
conservatives that do believe that minorities in this country do have it
better than them, that they get all the special stuff.

O`DONNELL: I think these people believe everything he was saying.

REID: They absolutely do. They think that being Latino gives you
some kind of special affirmative action leg up into the presidency. They
really think that.

O`DONNELL: This is a real window into their country club, which, by
the way, includes utterly demented magical thinking. Each one of these
pieces of tape needs much more analysis from us. But I want to go to this
one about Romney`s magical plan to make the economy better as president by
doing exactly nothing. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: My own view is that if we win on November 6th, there will be
a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. We`ll `see
capital come back and we`ll see -- without actually doing anything, we`ll
actually get a boost in the economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Without actually doing anything, Joy.

REID: Just by being Mitt.

O`DONNELL: It`s going to be great.

(CROSS TALK)

FINNEY: That goes to what I believe is the real reason he wants to be
president, just because. Why not? I`ve been a CEO. I`ve run the
Olympics. I`ve been a governor. What else is left? Let`s go be
president. That`s it, just because. And just because I`m president, it
will all be better.

REID: Isn`t that sort of the CEO mentality? Part of the problem with
these -- you look at Enron, you look at sort of the attitude of Wall Street
guys and hedge fund guys, they think that their own innate genius is all
this country needs to succeed.

O`DONNELL: This was a look into the poison of those minds. Karen
Finney and Joy Reid, thank you both for joining me tonight.

Coming up, we`ll have more of the Mitt Romney secret tape where he
tells us why he is going to make the mistake -- the campaign mistake of not
doing "Saturday Night Live." And of course why David Letterman hates him.

And later, Salman Rushdie will join me with his perspective on the
Islamic protests and attacks on our embassies.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, Mitt Romney`s losing media strategy.
On the secret tape of Mitt Romney at his fundraiser, Mitt Romney pulled
back the curtain on his media strategy and naively revealed he thinks he
can Rewrite one of the most important media rules for winning the
presidency. And he also revealed what he doesn`t like about "the View,"
why David Letterman hates him and why he will never do "Saturday Night
Live."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`ve done "The View" twice. It went very well. Regis is
gone. I`ve done the evening shows. I`ve been on Letterman a couple times.
I`ve been on Leno more than a couple of times. And now Letterman hates me
because I`ve been on Leno more than him. They`re very jealous of one
another, as you know.

And I was asked to go on "Saturday Night Live." I did not do that in
part because you want to show that you`re fun and you`re a good person, but
you don`t want to -- you also want to be presidential. And "Saturday Night
Live" has the potential of looking slapstick and not presidential.

"The View" is fine. Although "The View" is high risk of the five
women on it, only one is conservative. Four are sharp tongued and not
conservative, Whoopi Goldberg in particular. Although last time I was on
the show, she said to me, you know what? I think I can vote for you. And
I said I must have done something really wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So "Saturday Night Live" is not presidential, not the way
to the white house. OK. Tell that to this guy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m George W.
Bush, Republican candidate for president of the United States.

I`m governor of our nation`s second largest state, which is bigger
than every other state except one.

Welcome to Presidential Bash 2000, a celebration of the first
political satire from the first 25 years of "Saturday Night Live."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And try telling this guy that doing "Saturday Night Live"
is not the way to the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great Obama mask.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. Well, who is that under there?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just wanted to let
the American people know that -- live from New York, it`s Saturday Night!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In fact, every candidate who has won the presidency in
this century has done "Saturday Night Live." So not doing "Saturday Night
Live" will simply take its place on Mitt Romney`s now very long list of
mistakes on his way to losing this presidential election.

Oh, and Mitt, letterman doesn`t hate you because you do Leno. You`ve
given him much better reasons than that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The reports that we have cut
off aid, which is the report that I saw, to Egypt, are completely
incorrect. We`re continuing to work with the Hill on ways to support a
stable, democratic transition in Egypt that is important for defeating
extremism of the very kind that we just recently saw.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Authorities in Cairo have issued arrest warrants for seven
U.S.-based Egyptian Coptic Christians and a U.S. pastor for their alleged
involvement in the anti-Islam video. According to the BBC, the seven men
and one woman face charges of, quote, "insulting the Islamic religion,
insulting the prophet and inciting sectarian strife."

A request will also be filed with the U.S. judicial authorities.
Egypt`s public prosecutor said all of the accused could face the death
penalty if convicted. A religious foundation in Iran has renewed a call
for a Fatwah against author Salman Rushdie and increased the bounty on his
life in 3.3 million dollars. In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini incited rioting
by sentencing Salman Rushdie to death over his novel "The Satanic Verses."

The Ayatollah declared the novel was offensive to Islam. Salman
Rushdie spent the next nine years living in hiding. His account of living
under those death threats is in his new memoir, "Joseph Anton."

He joins me now in an exclusive interview. Salman Rushdie, I just
can`t wait to get your perspective on what`s been happening in the last
week since this video has entered the news stream. I am reluctant to say
and have not said, this video has caused anything. What is really
happening here?

SALMAN RUSHDIE, AUTHOR, "THE SATANIC VERSES": Can we just say one
thing about this bounty offer thing.

O`DONNELL: The 3.3 million?

RUSHDIE: Yeah. I think it`s becoming clear that this is just really
one priest looking for a headline and that the news coming out of Iran
today has suggested that nobody is really taking it seriously there. I
think this is --

O`DONNELL: But can you comfortably sit here tonight and leave here
tonight and feel, it`s nothing.

RUSHDIE: Yes, I do.

O`DONNELL: It`s like when I see an ugly Tweet about myself.

RUSHDIE: Exactly. This is pretty much rhetoric rather than act. I
remember when it was actual. And this is different.

O`DONNELL: What happened to it? At what point did you feel, I think
I`m out of the woods on this?

RUSHDIE: Well, essentially the real threat to me always came from the
Iranian state. It came from agents of the Iranian state. This bounty
offer, nobody ever took it seriously. In all that time, we never had a
single piece of evidence of anybody being interested in that. The threat
was from the professional agents hitman of the Iranian state.

When they were persuaded to back down back by the British, with the
support of the Americans, back in `98, the problem very rapidly went away
and the situation normalized.

So this, you know, I don`t know what to say about this. I think
there`s two separate things. I think there`s the -- what do we think of
this video, and what do we think of the response to it. I think they`re
almost separate from each other. I think the video is clearly a piece of
trash. And we -- one of the problems of having to support the First
Amendment is that you often have to support pieces of trash, stuff you
can`t stand. And I think this is an example of that.

But it becomes increasingly clear I think about the response that this
is a manufactured response. That`s to say I feel one of the things that
started in the case of "The Satanic Verses" and has grown since then is
this -- what I call an outrage industry. There are people in the Islamic
world literally whose job it is to find flash points and then use them to
launch a larger, if you like, attack against American values and American
personnel and property.

And so when the sheik -- when Sheikh Nasrallah of Hezbollah tells his
audience that this video was manufactured at the behest of U.S.
intelligence, the agenda is not the video anymore. the agenda is an attack
on the United States, which is a much more general thing.

O`DONNELL: So, there are people there in power, in positions of
manipulative power, who are looking for, what`s the thing we can use this
week, next month, whatever. Oh, hey there`s a video somebody posted on
Youtube, that will do.

RUSHDIE: Exactly. Because as we know, the Internet contains all
kinds of stuff. If you want to find something insulting anything, you`ll
find it on the Internet. So the question is who is it who can be bothered
to pick that out.

O`DONNELL: Why haven`t they gone after Bill Maher? You see what he
does every week on his show. You saw the movie he made. Why don`t they
use that and say, you know, we`re going to now riot over this?

RUSHDIE: Don`t ask me. I think the thing with this video is it got
translated into Arabic. The moment at which it was available in Arabic and
actually sent to people in the Arab world who are these kind of outrage
manufacturers, it just played into their hands and they used it.

O`DONNELL: And you said in this book, looking back on "Satanic
Verses" -- you said, you didn`t think "The Satanic Verses" was especially
critical of Islam.

RUSHDIE: I don`t think it is.

O`DONNELL: But at that point in time, it seems you discovered -- that
book discovered where the new sensitivity levels were. Where did those
sensitivity levels come from?

RUSHDIE: Again, it`s just very difficult, because most of the people
who started the campaign against the book didn`t take any trouble to read
it. It`s quite clear that the Ayatollah Khomeini never saw a copy of it,
let alone read a 600 page novel in English on his death bed. People in
India who made a fuss actually said proudly that they didn`t need to read
it in order to attack it.

O`DONNELL: So was there some decision made then at high levels that
we need something to unify people in some kind of protest that we can
control?

RUSHDIE: What was happening in Iran was the revolution had a great
blow because of the negative results of their Iraq War. And many young
people had died. A generation had been decimated. And the revolution was
quite rocky. And Khomeini was looking for something to rally the troops.
And it was my misfortune to be his last stand, essentially.

RUSHDIE: And you lived nine years this way. Was is there a day where
you said OK, it`s over? Or was it a gradual period of time?

RUSHDIE: It was gradual. I gradually cried to claw back little bits
of life. One of the things that really helped me, actually was to be
simply in the United States. I was allowed to come here by the American
authorities and live a private life freely, so that I gained my liberty
back here gradually. In the end, there was a deal between the governments,
Britain and Iran, and that ended it .

O`DONNELL: An honor to have you here. I`m glad you made it this far
in the 23 years. Salman Rushdie gets THE LAST WORD. "THE ED SHOW" is up
next.

END

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