updated 9/20/2012 1:42:49 PM ET 2012-09-20T17:42:49

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
September 19, 2012

Guests: Mark McKinnon, Ezra Klein, Ari Melber, Maria Teresa Kumar

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: This is hard to believe, I know. But team
Romney is fighting the fallout from the lies of Mitt Romney about 47
percent of this country with more lies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Mitt Romney is about to hit the ground in
what could be hostile territory.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: Mitt Romney back on the campaign trail
today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His first time since Friday.

JANSING: And in damage control mode.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The question in this campaign
is not who cares about the poor and the middle class.

I`m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.

I do. He does.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Pay no attention to the man behind the
curtain.

ROMNEY: The question is who can help pt poor and the middle class.

MATTHEWS: The real Willard of Oz, Mitt Romney.

ROMNEY: I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.

MATTHEWS: Who thinks compassionate conservatism is yesterday`s magic
act.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Strengthen Medicare, save
Social Security, this is the essence of compassionate conservatism.

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

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: With less than 50 days to go, the vultures
are circling.

HALL: Republicans are in a panic.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: A wide spread panic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Open rebellion from the right.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Criticism from Romney from fellow Republicans
is coming in fast and furious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bill Kristol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Peggy Noonan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are not seeing Mitt Romney out on the trail
enough.

BASHIR: A brilliant fundraiser.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many, many fundraisers.

BASHIR: But he`s a hopeless politician.

ROMNEY: Our campaign is doing well.

BASHIR: Even your own conservative cronies are not being it.

JANSING: How bad is this for Mitt Romney right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A disastrous campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A disastrous gaffe after another.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A political catastrophe.

ROMNEY: Our campaign is doing well.

WAGNER: Something ain`t right.

ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: If you don`t run Chris
Christie, Romney will be the nominee and will lose.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: With 48 days until the presidential election, how bad has
the leaked tape hurt Mitt Romney`s presidential campaign?

According to Bill O`Reilly, a lot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: A bad week, a bad week for Mitt Romney.
Many Republicans are frustrated with Mitt Romney. They believe he`s made
too many mistakes, comes across as remote and is on defense rather than
offense.

Some of those criticisms are valid. Certainly the governor has not
brought a sense of urgency to the campaign. It looks like Governor Romney
will have to persuade the voters he needs to win the election by winning
the debates. There are tree of them in October and if the governor does
not come across well, he`s finished.

I think that Mitt Romney looks like he doesn`t have control of the
campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We`ll show new clips from the leaked tape throughout the
hour tonight. Yes, there is more that you haven`t seen.

But first, here is Mitt Romney tonight at Univision Meet the
Candidates Forum trying to minimize the damage from his false and insulting
comment that 47 percent of us, 47 percent of Americans are hopeless losers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: My campaign is about the 100 percent of America. And I`m
concerned about them.

Now, I know that I`m not going to get 100 percent of the vote and my
campaign will focus on those people that we think we can bring in to
support me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Well, that ought to fix it, then. On that leaked tape,
Mitt Romney slipped in this lie about growing up Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Both my dad and Ann`s dad did quite well but when they came
to their end of their lives, but when they came to the end of their lives
and passed along the inheritances to Ann and to me, we both decided to give
it all away. So, I have inherited nothing. Everything that Ann and I
have, we earned the old fashioned way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Actually he inherited a million dollars. Apparently if
you`re Mitt Romney, earning the old fashioned way means inheriting stock
from your father. Ann Romney told the "Boston Globe" in 1994, "I was
raised in a lovely neighborhood, as was Mitt, and at BYU, we moved into a
$62 a month basement apartment with a cement floor and lived there two
years as students with no income. Neither one of us had a job because Mitt
had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a
time. The stock came from Mitt`s father. Mitt cashed it so we could live
and pay for education."

Talking about paying no income tax, there was Mitt Romney back then
paying no income tax. And apparently, if you`re Mitt Romney earning the
old fashioned way also means your old man buys you a house. According to
Ann Romney, when Mitt was accepted at Harvard Law, we came east, this is
when we took the now famous loan that Mitt talks about from his father and
bought a $42,000 home in Belmont. We stayed there seven years and sold it
for $90,000. So we not only stayed for free, we made money. We had no
income except the stock we were chipping away at."

New Mexico Republican Governor Susana Martinez who had a primetime
Wednesday night speaking slot at the Republican national convention and
introduced Paul Ryan said this today about Romney`s 47 percent insult.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SUSANA MARTINEZ (R), NEW MEXICO: Every vote counts. Every
single vote counts in New Mexico. Whether it doesn`t matter what level
economic level you come from, what kind of jobs you had -- every single
voter, every single vote counts in an election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Governor Martinez joins Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown
and Nevada Senator Dean Heller among Republican elected officials who are
running away from Romney saying they disagree with Mitt Romney`s remarks.

Republican Mark McKinnon who served as chief media adviser for George
W. Bush and will be joining us later writes that the Romney tape reveals
say deeply cynical man. I honestly don`t know what Romney can do to win
support from the voters he needs to gain a majority. I thought the debates
would be an opportunity but he has dug his hole so deeply now, I don`t know
if he can pull himself out.

In today`s "Wall Street Journal" the editorial board rights, "Surely a
man as smart as the former CEO of Bain Capital can give a better speech on
taxes and dependency than he delivered at that fundraiser. If he can`t,
he`ll lose and he`ll deserve to."

It`s starting to get lonely out there for Republicans supporting Mitt
Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: We`re the ones supporting Romney and the
guys that were all in at the beginning say -- Romney is the only guy who
can win -- he`s the only guy who`s electable, he`s the only -- now they`re
bailing on him. And you know all they`re doing is trying to protect their
own reputations. They think everybody else sees Romney as stupid so
they`ve got to say so too to make sure they`re not looked at the same way
people are supposedly looking at Romney.

I`ve never met a bunch of quitters like this in my life. I`ve never a
bigger bench of defeatists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Stupid? What do you mean, Rush? No one is calling Mitt
Romney stupid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: 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 when we now have on tape.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Well, OK, but that was like 24 hours ago, which is like a
year ago in this story so I forget about that part. What I meant to say is
no Republicans are calling him stupid. But wait, I guess a few are. So,
some are calling him stupid, but not all of them. But they will, all be
calling him stupid around 9:00 p.m. on election night.

Tonight, Nate Silver of the "New York Times" "FiveThirtyEight" blog`s
forecasts that on that night, November 6th, President Obama will win 305
votes, leaving Mitt Romney with 233 Electoral College votes, and President
Obama has a 75 percent chance of winning the election.

Joy Reid, I mean, you let me know when you start feeling sorry for
Rush Limbaugh. That was a long lonely piece of tape there talking about
that -- you know, it`s true. He was not for Romney at the beginning. It
was the establishment types that were for Romney. Rush was hoping for
someone real and conservative and he got stuck with Romney.

But there`s Rush, you know? And they`re fighting for Romney today.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: And the striped shirt made him look like the
unpopular kid in class. He was sitting there just looking forlorn. It was
kind of sad.

I mean, it`s incredible, and you know what? Thank you for playing
those bytes in the beginning of the show about Mitt Romney`s annoying lie,
this idea that I inherited nothing. Ann and I built this on our own.

By the time George Romney died in 1995, Mitt Romney was already the
head of Bain Capital. He was already a very rich man, having paved the way
for that success, because people wanted to do business with the son of the
former governor of Michigan, because the money that he inherited, that he
says we gave it all away. Yes, you did an endowment to Brigham Young which
was probably a tax shelter to avoid the estate tax.

By the time his father died, he was already rich. So this idea that
he inherited nothing and he built it all from scratch from humble little
home somewhere from Boston is annoyingly false. It`s not just wrong, it`s
annoyingly wrong.

O`DONNELL: He was richer than his father when his father died. His
father did in fact give him a million which he didn`t need so he gave away.
And he was richer than his father because his father had gotten really rich
during Mitt`s lifetime, while Mitt was kid, became the governor. Got his
kid this fabulous education, including Harvard Law School and Harvard
Business School, which greased the skids for Mitt to simply slide into Bain
world, that`s exactly who slides into Bain world, where it turns out life
is pretty easy, because a guy as stupid as Mitt Romney could rub money
together at Bain and make more money.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Let`s just remember
that all of this came out at a fundraiser where a super wealthy guy was
asking more wealthy people for money. Who is more stupid? I mean, he
could write his own check. That`s why he can raise last time around.

The only reason they`re giving him now is they think he`s going to
win. By this point, this man should be doing no fundraisers. I mean, how
stupid do you have to be to be super wealthy and you`re blaming everyone
else for not working and not paying taxes.

What planet is this happening on apart from this one?

O`DONNELL: The "USA Today" editorial says Romney`s 47 percenters blur
facts, message. They`d say Romney keeps doubling down on his mistake,
pushing a kind of resentment politics.

Joy, that room and I`ve listened from the tape from beginning to end,
I`ve read the transcript from beginning to end, it was reeking of
resentment and resentment is the mildest word you could use for what`s in
that room.

REID: No, absolutely. I, like you, had to go back and listen again.
It was so stunning. And the part of it that I found the most exemplary of
what you just said, is when one guy asked Mitt Romney, why don`t you just
defend yourself? What`s wrong with being rich? We kill ourselves. He
literally used the word, we kill ourselves.

We`re out there. We don`t get to be around our families. I missed my
kid`s lacrosse games. Look at us. We`re the victims. We`re suffering.
Why don`t you go out and defend it, Mitt?

I mean, this attitude of we`re the beleaguered ones dragging along the
ballast of the losers who are the rest of Americans who are not as smart or
as talented or as good as we are, it is the defining principle of
conservatism right now and that`s why Mitt can`t walk away.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at the big come back. They`ve dug out
this ancient tape of a young Barack Obama talking about some economic
ideas. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, THEN-ILLINOIS STATE SENATOR: I think the trick is
figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and
hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in
redistribution, at least at the certain levels, to make sure that
everybody`s got a shot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: They believe the crime there is the use of the word
"redistribution."

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: The economic illiterates in Romney world don`t seem to
comprehend that no tax has been recreated in human history that does not
involve redistribution. That is what every taxation, every tariff, every
government collection of money has ever done in its history.

WOLFFE: Right. Let`s just be clear. What`s underline this and what
Mitt Romney was saying in that fundraiser is a very transactional view of
politics. People will vote for me if I give them a tax cut. If I don`t
get a tax cut, they`re not going to vote for me. That is the whole deal
here.

O`DONNELL: They`ll vote for the other guy because he gave them some
benefits.

WOLFFE: He`s giving them some money. That is their principle of
life. That is their prism of politics. And that is -- well, let`s say
it`s very reductive, it`s small, it`s small for an American president.
It`s small for any politician.

If you are smart, you are saying, we have bigger goals, we have bigger
dreams. We are trying to build something differently.

And I`m appealing to your values. I`m appealing to your as
preparations. Not a naked trade, which is what he sees politics as, and
presumably what that fundraising crowd and all those conservatives who
think redistribution is wrong.

That`s what they believe. I give you money, I want something back.

Well, that`s not how society actually works, because otherwise you
would only have the fire truck stopping at your house. We have moved
beyond that point.

O`DONNELL: Exactly. Joy Reid and Richard Wolffe, thanks for opening
up the show with me tonight.

We`re going to have more of the Romney tapes coming up, stuff you
haven`t heard. There is more things on this you haven`t heard, including
something for the rewrite that is really ugly and nasty stuff -- stuff that
was being flown around that room during Mitt Romney`s speech. We`ll be
back with more.

(COMMERCIA BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I will be in those debates. There be, I don`t know, 150
millions American watching. If I do well, it will help. If I don`t, it
won`t help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Well, he got that right. Exactly 14 nights from now, at
this very hour, you will be watching the first presidential debate
moderated by Jim Lehrer.

Joining me now, a veteran of presidential debate preparation Mark
McKinnon, chief adviser for George W. Bush`s presidential campaigns, "The
Daily Beast" contributor and cofounder of No Labels. And Jonathan
Capehart, opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and MSNBC contributor.

Mark, I`ve read what you have to say about Mitt Romney. I understand
your shock at what you`ve heard from him. There`s nothing from what he
said at that fundraiser that I can link to the previous two Republicans
presidents -- George W. Bush or George H.W. Bush when speaking about
similar matters. Can you find any connection between what George W. Bush
used to say about compassionate conservatism, what George H.W. bush used to
say about thousand points of light written for him by Peggy Noonan?

MARK MCKINNON, THE DAILY BEAST: No. And it was those ideas that
compassionate conservatism that drew independents and conservative
Democrats like me at the time to the Republican Party and George W. Bush.
You know, interestingly, Lawrence, in his response on FOX yesterday when he
was trying to walk all this back, he kept talking about those people.

I never heard the words those people from George W. Bush or George
H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton. Presidents don`t talk about
"those people." Presidents talk about being inclusive.

So, those are the kinds of things that cause some concern.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to George W. Bush in 2002 talking about how
he believes people, everyone really deserves a chance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We believe that everyone deserves a chance, that everyone has
value, that no insignificant person was ever born. We believe that all are
diminished when any are hopeless. We are one people, committed to building
a single nation of justice and opportunity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, in politics, it doesn`t really matter
how much a candidate like this believes these things in his heart when he`s
saying them. But to have the basic understanding that this is the accepted
public approach to discussing the population of the United States of
America seems to be something that every politician has known here
literally for hundreds of years. And to have a guy go in front of an
audience and say you know what, 47 percent, forget about them.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, WASHINGTON POST: Forget about -- who cares about
them, screw them. It`s not -- what George W. Bush did there is
presidential. What Barack Obama did on election night when he acknowledged
the fact about half the country didn`t vote for him, that he was going to
try everything in his power as president of the United States to win them
over, to ensure that he would be able to govern the country, you know, as
one.

And here you have the Republican presidential nominee who very --
unnervingly comfortable talking about the 47 percent in such an undignified
sarcastic -- not sarcastic -- condescending way, just writing them off
completely.

He didn`t have the decency to say I`m not talking about all 47
percent, but maybe some of them. He didn`t do that. But what he said in
that one "Mother Jones" clip was unpresidential and how he can think he win
over enough people to become president of the United States is beyond me.

O`DONNELL: I want to play another yet unplayed on this show, and I
think unheard by most people, clip of the secret Romney tape. And it`s
about this basic notion of being your brother`s keeper. And it would be
easy to make too much of this particular section of the tape, if it didn`t
come in the full context of everything else Mitt Romney had to say.

Let`s listen to this part.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: And the kids and the parents said, "You know, if we all work
and we all save, we could afford to send one of us to college." And they -
- they sent my wife`s dad. Can you imagine working every day, taking a
couple of jobs and saving your money so that your brother could go to -- I
mean, I would never do that for my brother.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Mark, he actually starts to laugh can you imagine working
a couple of jobs and saving your money so that your brother could go -- he
starts to laugh at the idea of working so that your brother could go to
college instead of you and he says, I would never do that for my brother.

Now, as I said, in another situation, another context, you could take
that as a joke and you could look at the guy and go, I know, you would.
You know, my mother did this for her sisters. She was the oldest one. She
-- no one could afford to go to college. She got a job right away. Her
two younger sisters could then go to college because of that kind of
sacrifice.

It`s not an unusual American sacrifice to make. And, Mark, to hear
him mocking and laughing about it, within this larger context of everything
else he was saying, is just one of the uglier notes of the evening.

MCKINNON: It is, Lawrence. We want our presidents to be big. We
want them to be compassionate. We want them to care for the least among us
no matter how they approach it from a policy of view. We want to know they
want to be the president of everybody.

I think Jonathan mentioned the word transactional earlier. That`s
what comes to my mind when I see these tapes and I hear these conversations
and I think about Mitt Romney.

I mean, a lot of have been -- you know, he`s been a mystery for a lot
of us and we keep waiting for what we hope is a revealing moment that
reveals his true character. And unfortunately I think this tape is that
moment although it reveals his character in a way that surprised us.

But what I think also is part of the problem, I think, is that Mitt
Romney at his core is really not a hard-core conservative. I think he`s
more in line of what his father was or what he was at governor. But
because he`s transactional, he`s realized what he has had to do in order to
win these Republican primaries and speak to these conservative audiences --
and I think this tape reflects what he thinks he should be saying to these
audiences. And this whole -- the language about the 47 percent I think is
sort of a scripted way in what he thinks people want to hear.

So, either way it`s transactional or inept, but either way it causes
concern.

O`DONNELL: Mark, the piece you wrote is the most dispirited piece,
emotionally drained piece of any Republican I`ve read who disapproves of
what Mitt Romney has to say. I`m wondering are you an undecided voter as
of tonight, Mark?

MCKINNON: Well, you know, libertarians starting to look pretty good
for me now, Lawrence, Gary Johnson.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: Well, there`s a place to go for you.

Mark McKinnon and Jonathan Capehart, thank you both very much for
joining me tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Harry Reid reminded everyone today that while
Mitt Romney disparages people who do not pay income tax for whatever
reason, legitimate or illegitimate, we actually don`t know if Mitt Romney
has paid income tax during most of his tax years.

And Mitt Romney`s standard for legal immigration would have created a
few problems possibly even for his own father to come into the United
States. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney wasn`t the only person in that room during the
fundraiser that we`ve seen the secret recording of who was saying stupid
and hateful things about Americans. Every questioner who spoke to Mitt
Romney embarrassed themselves in the process. One in particular you will
hear going after Eric Holder, having a very, very peculiar take on the
first African-American attorney general of the United States.

That`s coming up in the Rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the
president no matter what. 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`re
entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. These are
people who pay no income tax. Forty seven percent of Americans pay no
income tax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, Mitt Romney`s latest attempt to
deflect attention from his secret tax returns. Mitt Romney must have hoped
that insulting 47 percent of Americans would at least distract attention
from his still secret tax returns, but as Bill O`Reilly said, this is a bad
week for Mitt Romney.

Here is Romney antagonist and fellow Mormon Harry Reid on the Senate
floor today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: For all we know, Mitt Romney
could be one of those who have paid no federal income tax. Thousands of
families making more than a million dollars a year pay nothing in federal
income taxes. Is Mitt Romney among those? We`ll never know since he
refuses to release his tax returns for the years before he was running for
president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Pollsters for Reuters/Ipsos showed an excerpt of the
secret Romney tape to voters and polled their reactions to Romney`s victims
remark; 59 percent of them said Romney was unfair to label 150 million
Americans as victims, and 67 percent said they identified more with
Romney`s 47 percent than with the wealthy donors he was addressing in that
fundraiser. Many more voters will find out about Romney`s secret tape.

Romney`s victims remark was front page news in local papers in
Pennsylvania, Indiana, Virginia, Wisconsin and other swing states, and
editorial boards in swing states are weighing in. "The Toledo Blade"
editorial board in Ohio writes, "at a fundraiser hosted by a Florida
private equity manager, the Republican presidential nominee expressed
contempt for the 47 percent of U.S. voters he predicts will support
President Obama this fall because they are dependent upon government. The
almost half of Americans whom Mr. Romney so casually insults include many
middle class, working class and older voters in Ohio and Michigan who he
hopes will help propel him to victory."

"The Richmond Times Dispatch" editorial board in Virginia writes,
"we`re all in this together, President Obama says. Mitt Romney evidently
thinks otherwise. Republicans who have the best interests of the country
at heart know their job is not to write-off those who are dependent on
government, but to help them find some boots and pull on the straps. The
literature of social conservatism is rich with concern for the under-
privileged. Romney should read it some time."

And "the Sun-Sentinel" newspaper, which serves Boca Raton, Florida,
the city where Mitt Romney made his victims remarks, published this:
"Romney`s captured remarks reinforce the narrative that he is an out-of-
touch elitist who does not care about the plight of the average American
and that his allegiance is primarily to his class, rather than to his
country. Whatever one`s political stripe, there`s no question that
Americans gained some important information about Mitt Romney from the
leaked video."

Joining me now are Ari Melber, correspondent for "The Nation" and an
MSNBC contributor and Ezra Klein, columnist for the "Washington Post" and
an MSNBC analyst.

Ezra, the -- much has been talked about already about the actual math
and the reality and the statistical reality of the 47 percent that Mitt
Romney was lying about. Do you -- where do you think the argument goes
from here? Will there be more pushback on exactly what the details are
about the economics of the 47 percent? Or is it really going to be played
pretty much the way the editorial boards are playing it?

EZRA KLEIN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I wish there was a whole lot more
to do, because I have loved this return to tax policy in the election. But
to some degree, I don`t know how much more there is to say, except for this
one particular thing: what Mitt Romney has not said, what he didn`t say in
those comments that were recorded, what he hasn`t said before any audience
that I`m aware of is what exactly would he do about that 47 percent.

Would he cancel the Earned Income Tax Credit? Would he cancel the
child tax credit? Would he begin taxing Social Security benefits. There
are things you could do to make sure all Americans paid more income taxes.
Although, by the way, why we`re only talking about income taxes is I think
just an absolute, absolute conceptual mistake that only serves to undermine
people`s understanding of the tax code.

But Romney has never at any point in this entire campaign said one
thing that he would do to change the number of people who pay income taxes.
It`s, frankly, very strange for him to be this worried about it but not
have a policy to address it.

O`DONNELL: Ari?

ARI MELBER, "THE NATION": Yes, I think Ezra hit it right. We`re not
talking about the entire tax burden. We are talking about the attack that
Mitt Romney has made. That is what is so striking about the way it`s
boomeranging. Jay-Z was with the president last night. And I`m reminded
of the Jay-Z line that the sword that knight you could also be the sword
that good night you. Ezra knows what I`m talking about out there.

KLEIN: I think Ari just won the segment.

MELBER: But this sword wielded by Mitt Romney and a lot of
hypocritical Republicans for years on taxes, taxes being an attack on
Democrats, but Mitt Romney has two problems. Number one, he wound up
attacking the elderly, veterans, the working poor, people who chip in
through payroll taxes at about 15 percent, which is a higher rate than he
paid. So this sword is pointed right back at him for the secrecy and the
open questions that Ezra raised, because he hasn`t given answers, and for
his own personal problems, which is he is the problem that he`s identified.

O`DONNELL: "USA Today"/Gallup poll says 29 percent say they will be
less likely to support Romney because of these comments, 15 percent more
likely, 53 percent no difference. So there`s a movement there that hurts
Romney in that poll. Ezra, what should the Obama campaign do rhetorically
to counter the Romney position going forward?

KLEIN: To some degree, I think rhetorically the Obama campaign should
let Mitt Romney keep speaking.

O`DONNELL: There you go.

(CROSS TALK)

KLEIN: I think the question for them has always been this way, to try
to make things specific, make it concrete. The question for Mitt Romney,
the question that somebody should get Mitt Romney to answer is why does he
think that a single mother with two children, who is working at Wal-Mart
making maybe 25,000 dollars a year, who has taken a standard deduction in
the earned income tax credit -- why is she not taking responsibility for
her life? What is that she needs to do that would move her, in Romney`s
mind, from being somebody who is dependent on the government to somebody
who is being helped by the government into work, which is of course what
things like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit were
passed by Republicans to help do.

These things work on this very broad level of generality where we talk
about dependency societies and entitlements. And then you get into
individual cases, and you think that doesn`t describe anybody I know. And
it doesn`t describe the lived experiences of the Americans that we`re
talking about. And if he`s got that wrong, then the policy that`s flowing
from it that he would make as president is wrong. And that`s really the
ultimate issue here.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber and Ezra Klein, thanks for joining me tonight.

Coming up, the people who questioned Mitt Romney on the secret tape of
that fundraiser were at least as stupid and hateful and malicious as Mitt
Romney. And you`ll hear one of them next in the Rewrite.

And later, Mitt Romney was confronted tonight on Spanish language
television about his attitude towards 47 percent of the American
population. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s rewrite, another piece of the secret Romney
fundraiser tape that you haven`t heard. Now I know you think you`ve heard
all the good stuff, I mean all the crazy stuff. But there`s so much crazy
in there that no one has been able to play it all on TV. As I mentioned
last night, Mitt Romney proved himself to be the stupidest person in a very
stupid room. And it wasn`t easy to be the stupidest person in that room
because the people we hear on tape questioning Romney were all, let`s say,
very slow students of American politics.

They are all rich. That`s how they got in that room. That`s how they
were there. That`s how they were able to attend a high dollar political
fundraiser. They`re all people to whom much has been given. Many of them
were surely people like Mitt Romney to whom much was given at birth by
their rich parents. And they are all people who are bitterly and angrily
resentful of any system that requires them to part with anything they`ve
been given, which explains their hatred of taxation.

Like Mitt Romney, they lie to themselves and each other about the
world they live in. One of the most vial and despicable lies told in that
room that night was by the rich Republican buffoon who said this to Mitt
Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That Eric Holder was probably the most corrupt
attorney general that we`ve had ever in American history. And I think it`s
something that if spun in the right way and in simple terms can actually
resonate with the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s the kind of campaign advice Romney was getting that
night from the rich, imbecilic, lazy minded and hateful fat cats in that
room. Romney was told to run against Eric Holder, because he is "the most
corrupt attorney general that we`ve ever had in American history."

The man who said that began his comments by saying he thought he might
be the oldest Republican there, because, he said, the first campaign he
worked in was Barry Goldwater`s presidential campaign. Barry Goldwater was
the Republican who lost the presidential election in 1964. The next
Republican nominee, four years later, was Richard Nixon, who won the
presidency.

This old and loyal Republican surely helped Nixon`s campaign, too.
And then this loyal Republican must have missed his newspaper delivery the
day Richard Nixon`s attorney general John Mitchell was indicted for perjury
and obstruction of justice. He must have continued to miss his newspaper
delivery during John Mitchell`s trial and he must have missed the delivery
when John Mitchell was convicted in federal court and sentenced to prison,
and then served that prison sentence.

John Mitchell was steeped in filthy politics before he became Nixon`s
attorney general. John Mitchell was Nixon`s campaign manager. And John
Mitchell became the first attorney general in the history of the United
States to be convicted of a crime.

But he was not the last. The next attorney general to be convicted of
a crime was the very next man Richard Nixon made attorney general of the
United States. So we`ve had exactly two attorneys general convicted of
crimes, both of them Republicans, both of them appointed by Richard Nixon.
The man at the Romney fundraiser who says he worked on Barry Goldwater`s
campaign may very well have known John Mitchell, may very well have known
both of the Republican attorneys general who were convicted of crimes, but
he still could say, without any correction from the confederacy of dunces
in that room, that Eric Holder is, in his words, "the most corrupt attorney
general that we`ve ever had in American history."

The most corrupt! So in that room of rich Republicans, the unique
characteristic of Eric Holder as attorney general is that he is the most
corrupt of the 82 attorneys general that we have had in this country. Eric
Holder`s bio is not unlike some of our most distinguished attorneys
general. He attended New York Public schools, graduating from the
academically demanding Stiverson High School, where he received a Regents
Scholarship. He went to Columbia College and Columbia Law School and then
went straight to work in the Department of Justice.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated Eric Holder to become a
federal judge in the District of Columbia. That`s right, President Reagan.
Eric Holder later left that judgeship that Ronald Reagan had given to him
in order to serve as the Justice Department`s chief prosecutor in
Washington, D.C.

Nothing terribly unusual in that resume for an attorney general of the
United States. Nothing unique. There is only one unique thing about Eric
Holder as an attorney general of the United States. Eric holder is the
first and only African-American attorney general this country has ever had.

That is what is unique about Eric Holder as an attorney general. He`s
black. And every person at the Mitt Romney fundraiser knew that,
especially the old Republican who knew all about the criminals, the
convicted criminals that Richard Nixon had as attorney generals --
attorneys general, and still insisted to Mitt Romney and everyone in that
room that Eric Holder is the most corrupt attorney general that we`ve had
in American history.

How did Eric Holder get that label in that room with those rich
Republicans? Did Eric Holder get that label by being attorney general
while black? You don`t want to think that. You want to think better of
the people in that room. But there was nothing said in that room, not one
word spoken in that room by anyone in that room that indicates in any way
that those people are better than that.

What I clearly heard from one of the people in that room is sheer
hatred of Eric Holder. It was a room filled with contempt for 47 percent
of the American people. That`s over 150 million people. In that room,
hating one more person wasn`t hard. In that room, all the rich Republicans
and the richest major party presidential candidate in history were not made
even slightly uncomfortable by lies and hatred spewed at the first black
attorney general of the United States by the party that has given us the
most corrupt attorneys general in history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: And by the way, if a student does so well that they get an
advanced degree, I would staple a Green Card to their diploma.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Mitt Romney tonight pandering to the audience of
the Univision Facebook Presidential Forum. Joining me now, Maria Teresa
Kumar, executive director of Voto Latino and an MSNBC contributor.

Maria Teresa, I wanted you to hear the -- how Romney handled being
confronted on his position about English as the official language of this
country. Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSS TALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- calls for English to be the official language
of the United States. You`re here tonight with us in Spanish and also we
imagine that you support the idea that there is an important roll for
Spanish in this country. What roll should Spanish play in America?

ROMNEY: You know, English is the language of government in this
country. That`s the way it`s been for some time, as you know. I take some
inspiration from the comments of Governor Luis Fortune, who is a
extraordinary governor of Puerto Rico. He said that Spanish is the
language of our heritage, English is the language of opportunity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, that English as the official language is
going to be a real problem in California where I live. They`re going to
have to change the name of the city of Los Angeles to start with, and the
name of the state, name of Santa Monica.

(CROSS TALK)

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: You know, I think this is again
fundamentally Mitt Romney doesn`t know the Latino community. The majority
of Latino parents actually agree that they should be learning English. And
by second generation most Latinos do speak English.

I want to talk a little bit about this whole 47 percent, Lawrence.
When he talks about 47 percent, he`s also talking about American Latinos
that are working two to three jobs and who actually believe in the American
dream. Mitt Romney, by going after the 47 percent, is attacking those that
believe in the American dream, because they may be working two or three
jobs today, but with the aspiration that their kids won`t have to.

And that`s what he doesn`t understand, is that these people are hard
working. They believe in their possibility. And they don`t feel like
victims. If anything, they feel that by working these jobs, it might be
tough today, but there`s an aspiration for a better tomorrow. And that`s
what I find so disappointing with this 47 percent comment.

O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, the latest poll shows Latinos support of
President Obama at about 68 percent, Romney about 26 percent. He said, and
I played this on the tape last night of the secret fundraiser -- we don`t
have time to play it now -- that if he thinks if the Latino vote lines up
that way with President Obama, it is a threat to this nation.

KUMAR: Again, it`s Mitt Romney not understanding the Latino
community. Had he started talking about small business, talking about
taxes and talking about taxes in a real way, talking about education, he
would have a shot at the Latino community, because Latino voters are not
monolithic. They`re very much issue oriented.

But instead he`s attacking their fundamental values and their
sensibilities. Again, when you started talking about the 47 percent s
victims, then you`re not understanding their aspirations of a better
tomorrow

O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar, thanks for joining us tonight.

KUMAR: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next

END

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