updated 9/24/2012 8:12:15 AM ET 2012-09-24T12:12:15

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
September 20, 2012

Guests: Bridget Mary McCormack, Dr. Gregory Prince

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Tonight, as he clings to the wreckage of his
campaign, the Republican presidential nominee is scared Mitt-less.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: Mitt has been on the show and Mitt goes
on to say that I hate Mitt Romney.

MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: But just about every estimate --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney did not have a great week.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: A bad week for Mitt Romney.

LETTERMAN: If you think are you going to get to the White House, you
are going to spend time in this chair.

LAUER: This was a bad for his campaign.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Why not admit that this was a stumble?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our campaign is doing well.

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

We are, of course, talking about a campaign.

I`ve got a terrific campaign.

He is going to get close to half the vote. I`m going to get half the
vote.

HALL: The inability to admit that this was not a great week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s got a real problem.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: They`ve got a real problem.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Romney wobbles.

JANSING: Mitt Romney is changing his strategy again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have thrown a different Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s almost like an etch-a-stretch.

ROMNEY: My campaign is about the 100 percent of America.

I have experience in health care reform.

I`m not going to be rounding people up and deporting them out of the
country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Moderate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Moderate.

HALL: Who is this man?

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: He is rebranding himself as a warrior for
the 100 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a little late for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why now?

JANSING: What is going on here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this who Mitt Romney is?

HALL: Is it authentic at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inauthenticity.

BASHIR: We were actually watching a puppet. I thought it was
actually Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact that we`re even asking this question is
a problem for Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, we have a bad one. Let`s move on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The clock is really ticking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are sort of up to Mitt Romney 8.0 or
something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know what Mitt Romney we`re going to see
two hours from now.

BASHIR: Two dueling messages of unity, fighting it out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It ain`t exactly the eye of the tiger.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: In her debate tonight in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren
tied her opponent Scott Brown to Republican madness generally and Mitt
Romney specifically.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS SENATE CANDIDATE: I`m still
working to have President Obama be the commander-in-chief, not Mitt Romney.

It`s not just about Senator Brown`s vote. This is about the votes of
all the Republicans. Jim Inhofe, the senator, would become the person who
would have supervision over the Environmental Protection Agency. He says
global warming is a hoax.

Remember, at the end of the day this race may be for control of the
Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: With 47 days to go until the end of the election, the
first nail was driven today into the construction of the presidential
inauguration platform behind the Capitol of the United States.

While Mitt Romney continued to cling to the wreckage of his
presidential campaign, the most withering assessments of team Romney
continue to come from Republicans this week. Tonight, conservative "Wall
Street Journal" columnist Peggy Noonan writes, "The Romney campaign has to
get turned around. This week, I called it incompetent, but only because I
was being polite. I really meant rolling calamity."

And some in team Romney have already jumped into the life boats. The
co-chair of the Romney presidential campaign Tim Pawlenty actually quit
today and decided to become a lobbyist for bankers, seriously. There had
been some speculation in Minnesota that Tim Pawlenty would change Senator
Al Franken in 2014, but everyone, including Tim Pawlenty, knows that in the
21st century, becoming a banking lobbyist is the strongest possibly way of
saying "I will never run again".

Mitt Romney`s captured comments at a Republican fundraiser where he
was seething resentment about 47 percent of Americans who he thinks are
hopeless losers unworthy of his attention or concern remains the top topic
in the presidential campaign.

President Obama was asked about it today in an interview with
Univision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you express an
attitude that half the country considers itself victims that somehow they
want to be dependant on government, my thinking is maybe you haven`t gotten
around a lot. Because I travel around the country all the time and the
American people are the hardest working people there and their problem is
not --

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In the bad news week for Mitt Romney is, it is coming to
an end with a new NBC News poll showing that President Obama has reached 50
percent support in three key swing states.

Among likely voters, President Obama leads Mitt Romney by eight
points in Iowa and by five points in both Colorado and Wisconsin. In all
three states, President Obama`s lead is greater than the percentage of
undecided voters.

Today`s polls were conducted after the backlash over Obama`s Libya
embassy statement and the during the backlash over Romney`s comments on the
leaked tape.

Here is Mitt Romney`s favorability rating. The plurality of likely
voters view him negatively in all three states while voters view President
Obama view him positively on all three states.

Tonight, Nate Silver of "The New York Times`" FiveThirtyEight blog
forecasts that on November 6th, President Obama will win 308 electoral
college votes, Mitt Romney will win 230 Electoral College votes and
President Obama has a 76 percent chance of winning the election.

Krystal Ball, this week, there just isn`t any turn in this week that
it is going Mitt Romney`s way. The poll, by the way, is only capturing --
it was conducted over a number of days, only the last day did the response
to the poll have any information about this 47 percent slur that come up.
So, that could be a larger effect that is yet to be polled.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST: So, you can see why people like Peggy
Noonan are starting to voice their disapproval in strong words. I mean, I
think what you are seeing in these polls, too, is not only is the president
pulling on a lead, but this support, the support for the Democratic Party
is hardening and enthusiasm is going up. So, those leads, they are getting
more locked into place here.

And a lot of people are saying, wait for the debates. We`ll things
will reset. He`ll have another chance to introduce himself.

But at some point, he has to figure out what message he is going
forward with. And this week has been crazy. He`s been all over the board.
First, he sort of embraced the 47 percent comments. Basically, reiterating
them to Neil Cavuto. Then he is the man of the 100 percent, no, absolutely
not. And he is the grandfather of Obamacare now.

I mean, they have -- it is way too late in the race for them to not
know what the central message is. And it is unbelievable to me that they
run this poor of a campaign in terms of their message.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to a friend of the Romney campaign, Bill
O`Reilly`s defense. I`m not even sure if it`s a defense. Let`s listen to
what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`REILLY: It`s impossible to put a percentage on people who think
that way and therein lies Mitt Romney`s mistake. Forty-seven percent are
not slackers, and the governor knows that. So in trying to make his point
to a friendly audience, he didn`t word the criticism properly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So, Ari, that`s the best O`Reilly can do for Romney under
these circumstances.

ARI MELBER, THE NATION: Yes. No, he didn`t word it properly and I
think it goes to the problem with the core of his campaign. There was the
famous quote from the Romney adviser who said, well, any day that we`re not
talking about Barack Obama`s unemployment problem is a bad day for the
campaign.

There`s a negative space analysis to that same observation, which is
any day that we are talking about Mitt Romney is a bad day for the Romney
campaign. For talking about what he believed on Monday, or what he
believed on Thursday, or what he believed when he was pro-Obamacare in
Massachusetts or what he believed when he wasn`t.

If you talk about Mitt Romney who as you pointed out a net negative
favorable rating, the first time a major party nominee since 1988 has
actually been net negative, even the losing candidate is said to be more
popular than him, if you are talking about Mitt Romney it is a bad day for
him. And that`s why what they`re doing today, to Krystal`s point, is
finding some other cooked up distraction. Obama said something about
change, let`s about Obama -- it is true that if you are not talking about
Romney it is a slightly better day for Him.

O`DONNELL: This just in from an Iowa radio show. We have some hot
new video of Ann Romney on an Iowa radio show that we just got, responding
to these Republican critics like Peggy Noonan. Let`s listen to Ann Romney.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RADIO IOWA: What do you say to your fellow Republicans?

ANN ROMNEY: Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the
ring. This is hard.

And, you know, it is an important thing that we are doing right now.
And it is an important election. And it is time for Americans to realize
how important the election is and how lucky we are to have someone with
Mitt`s qualifications and experience and know-how to be able to have the
opportunity to run this country.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Krystal, she was quick on that trigger. Stop it. Just
stop it. That`s her order to the critics.

BALL: This is hard.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

BALL: Of course, being president is also hard -- which is why we
like to see someone who`s going to be our president run an effective
campaign. I mean, honestly I think, in 2008, one of the things that won
people over with Barack Obama, a young -- you know, youngest presidential
candidate who had not that much experience in the Senate, was that he ran
such a fantastic campaign that people said, this man is ready for
primetime.

With Mitt Romney, it`s been the exact opposite. People had high
expectations. He`s the businessman. He knows how to run things. But his
campaign has been a complete disaster and I think it comes down to sort of
the difference with being a private equity guy who can come in with reams
of data and do the analysis and try to turn things around, and being a
start-up guy who knows how to give an organization a soul.

This is a campaign with no rudder, not --

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Another Peggy Noonan`s criticism as an operator -- she is
saying, "The candidate can`t run the show," says Peggy Noonan. "He can`t
be the CEO of the campaign and be the candidate. A campaign is a communal
exercise. Romney needs to get his head screwed on right in this area."

She is saying he is a bad manager of this campaign, which is a
considerable qualification for actually becoming president.

MELBER: It is, although I disagree with Peggy Noonan a little bit.
First of all, I have a soft spot for Ann Romney. I can understand anyone
in --

O`DONNELL: After what you just heard, stop it?

MELBER: Stop it.

BALL: We are lucky to have Mitt Romney, Ari, and don`t you forget
it.

MELBER: We need you in the "SNL" impressions next.

I think she`s got a very understandable response that family members
have, which is leave my guy or gal alone. And I get that.

The problem isn`t the marketing. The problem isn`t the branding.
That`s what Peggy Noonan would have us believe.

Give it a week and Peggy will say, oh, it`s so much better now that
they found out how to sell this.

The problem is the product. This is a defective product. And it`s
offered in one market and another thing in another market. And I don`t
care how many ads they run and they do have a lot of money waiting on the
sidelines, so this could tighten up again this race, but they have a bad
product.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to this type of Barack Obama in which he
uses the word redistribution, which Romney thought, OK, we can make a
communist with this. Let`s listen to this tape and I think when we listen
to it, you`ll see why it`s not working against President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: 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 a
certain level, to make sure that everybody`s got a shot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: What he just said is true of every government on earth,
including this government in every day of the history of this government.
And you cannot -- there has never been a tariff, which is how we originally
finance this government. And there has never been a tax anywhere in the
world that did not involve redistribution.

BALL: That is exactly right. If you believe in any sort of
taxation, if you believe in public education, Social Security, Medicare --
if you believe in of any of that, you believe in redistribution and the
next line that he goes on to say, he actually talks about competition and
free enterprises. I mean, it`s a very centrist kind of a statement, but
because they think redistribution is some synonym for communism, they
pulled out just that piece and now you see an ad as, you know, this is who
the president really is.

MELBER: The most radical part of that video is the just brick wall
behind him. Who produced this event? But, really, as you said, Lawrence,
what`s the most redistributive program we have? It`s the military, right?
It`s people who go and serve for the rest of us. We distribute that burden
unto them.

That makes you proud to be an American. It also makes you proud of
our government, the schools, the military -- a lot of the things that we
hold are government programs. For the rest of us, we should be lucky to
thank those people, not try to demonize and sort of obfuscate with that
word.

O`DONNELL: And they really think -- they thought they had gold when
they saw this thing, this redistribution thing. They thought, hey, the
public is stupid enough that we can make that a word that will somehow sink
a campaign.

BALL: You can just imagine their eyes lighting up when they saw the
Drudge headline there and thinking that they really had --

O`DONNELL: I doubt there was any surprise.

BALL: Yes, absolutely.

O`DONNELL: I sensed there was a little bit of coordination there.

BALL: Really? You think so? No way, no way.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber and Krystal Ball, thank you both for joining
me tonight.

Coming up, Mitt Romney and his campaign staff are panicking. They
are scared Mitt-less. Joy Reid and Karen Finney will join me next.

And Mitt Romney is not the face of Mormonism, so says a Mormon author
and historian who is incensed by what he saw on the secret video of the
Romney fundraiser.

And who or what could get the cast of "The West Wing" to reunite for
one more film walk and talk through the hallways? They are back. They all
look marvelous. And you`ll see them back at work in "The West Wing" in
tonight`s rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: When Mitt Romney cast off 47 percent of the country, he
also cast off the values of his church, according to a Mormon historian and
a former Romney supporter. He will join me later.

And next, Mitt Romney and his campaign staff are in panic mode. That
means Mitt says something and then the campaign staff has to say he didn`t
mean that. The Romney campaign spinning out of control, that`s going to be
next with Joy Reid and Karen Finney.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Willard Mitt Romney is finally doing something very human
as a candidate. He is panicking, panicking in a face of the looming death
of his political career. He is scared Mitt-less. And when Mitt gets
scared, Mitt flip-flops.

After getting caught this week attacking 47 percent of the people and
saying my job is not to worry about those people, he now says this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And remember when right wing conservative Mitt Romney was
running away from his record as a health care reformer in Massachusetts?
Well, that was then. Last night he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The president says I`m the grandfather of Obamacare. I
don`t think he meant that as a compliment but I`ll take it. This was
during my primary. We thought it might not be helpful.

But I`ve actually been able to put in place a system that fit the
needs of the people of my state and I`m proud of the fact that in my state,
after a plan was put in place, every child has insurance, 98 percent of
adults have insurance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: With Mitt Romney panicking like that and publicly
admitting that there were things he couldn`t say during the primary which
he will now say, like, oh, yes, I`ll take credit for Obamacare -- that
means his campaign staff is panicking too. When they heard him take credit
for being the grandfather of Obamacare, they knew he was giving way too far
in trying to sound reasonable and was giving his Tea Party base too many
reasons to vote for a libertarian Gary Johnson.

The Romney campaign put out this lie in an e-mail from Kevin Madden.
"He was being facetious. He totally dismantled the policies behind
Obamacare before and after it."

Joining me now are Joy Reid, managing editor of "The Grio" and an
MSNBC contributor, and Karen Finney, former DNC communications director and
an MSNBC contributor.

Karen, you are communications, former communications director, you
know something about communications. So, I`m figuring you can explain this
sentence to me. I get the thing where Kevin Madden lies and says Mitt was
being facetious when he said that thing about, you know, accepting credit
for Obamacare.

The sentence that follows it, he said, he totally dismantled the
policies behind Obamacare before and after it? Totally dismantle -- what
in that as governor? That`s just like well like --

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I have to tell you, that`s a
new one on me.

O`DONNELL: It`s like Romney speak, it`s Romney words. It`s a
collection for words that have no meaning.

FINNEY: It`s Romney`s world.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

FINNEY: Yes. I mean, I have to tell you, even when I talked to Sean
Spicer Monday on a radio show and he was trying to spin his comments about
the 47 percent to say, well, no, what he was talking about was -- I mean,
these guys are in spin overload. I mean, that sentence doesn`t
grammatically make sense if you think about it.

But you are right, they are in panic mode because -- and here is what
I think would be so interesting. This week, we know Mitt is going on this
little bus tour throughout Ohio. Will he say the same things and talk the
same way on that bus tour publicly to English language media as he did to
Univision? I bet you he doesn`t, partly because he can`t.

As you pointed out so many times, he can`t afford to tell the truth
about his health care plan. He can`t afford to anger the far right wing of
his base, so he can sort of talk like that and try to sound moderate and
reasonable. You noticed last night, he didn`t talk about, you know,
building a wall along the border. And he didn`t talk about self
deportation. He talked about, you know, stapling green cards to people`s
diplomas, which he`s been talking about for a while.

But he didn`t talk about all that very far right wing rhetoric that
he was espousing during the primary. He`s not going to be able to do that
in the light of day out in the campaign trail in Iowa.

So, here was scared Mitt again last night in Florida trying to
correct for, you know, insulting 47 percent of the American population and
saying they are losers because they all get government assistance. This
was his way of doing that, talking about his father`s use of government
assistance.

Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: My dad was born in Mexico of American parents living there.
At age five or six, there was revolution, and they came back to the United
States. My dad had to get help, financial help, the government helped his
family, to be able to get on their feet again. By the way, that`s the way
America works.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And, Joy, there was no welfare program at the time.
There was no Social Security program at the time. There was actually a
special bill passed in Congress to aid the Mormon refugee who came running
back across the border during the Mexican revolution, having fled from the
United States in the first place so that they can continue to practice
polygamy in Mexico. They actually got special law providing special
assistance to them when they came back in.

So it was, even better treatment than any one was getting in the
current system.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: Yes. And, Lawrence, did you catch the swanky
spray tan? I couldn`t look away. It was physical pandering on top of the
other pandering? Twitter was having a great fun with that.

Yes. I mean, Mitt Romney -- and he didn`t explain by the way why he
was in Mexico, which I think would have been helpful information. And, by
the way, Lawrence, the insult tour didn`t stop on Univision. Because
Romney, while he was pandering to that audience in his spray tan then
proceeded to use the words illegal aliens in that room. What is he, Lou
Dobbs?

You know, I don`t think this guy can help himself. I read one piece
that had an unnamed operative describing the Romney campaign has the smell
of decay. Well, I`m here in D.C., in Karen`s world, I think that Karen and
I should go out and see if we can spot Romney operatives passing out
resumes.

O`DONNELL: There`s a new Pew poll that shows President Obama leading
Mitt Romney 51 percent to 43 percent. On the question of which candidate
connects well with ordinary Americans, 66 percent say President Obama, 23
percent say Mitt Romney. It is really too bad for Mitt Romney that
ordinary Americans get to vote in this election, Karen Finney.

FINNEY: Of course, I mean and that is what is so telling about this
latest attack of them trying to go after President Obama`s comments, about,
you know, power inside Washington and outside Washington. The president`s
whole campaign has been about the fact that people create change, and that
power is not in Washington. It`s the outside Washington and we have to
take responsibility and make the change happen.

That`s not what Mitt Romney and Reince Priebus and the RNC and those
guys want. They don`t want ordinary people to think that they have power,
because they want, you know, all the big donors who are writing the big
checks to have the power. They just want to use the people when they need
them to cast the votes, which is an inconvenience them, right?

I mean, that is the big ideological difference I think we are seeing
in this campaign between how Mitt Romney thinks about a good chunk of the
population and how the president is saying look we have to be in this
together. Even in that video from 1998, the sentence before the one that
they were questioning, he says, I believe we are in this together. So, you
know.

O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney is not the only scared Republican candidate
out there. Everyone is trying to tie Republican candidates to Mitt Romney
and Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin explains why he is now behind in the poll,
trailing Democrat Tammy Baldwin. Let`s listen to the way he explains that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOMMY THOMPSON (R), WI SENATE NOMINEE: The presidential thing is
bound to have an impact on every election, you know, whether you`re
Democrat or a Republican. If you`re standard bearer for the presidency is
not doing well, it`s going to reflect on the down ballot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, it`s tough out there for a Senate Republican
candidate.

REID: It`s out there for Republican. Look, and he is absolutely
right. The problem right now for Republicans, they have to decide whether
their strategy should be prop up Romney at all cost or just break from them
and try to save the Senate, because in a state like Wisconsin, which is
going to go to Barack Obama, you have to now count on split ticket voting
for Tommy Thompson to have any shot.

Mitt Romney could wash out Scott Brown. He can wash out Wisconsin.
He can wash out a lot of races that`s going to make it really hard for the
Republicans` candidates in Ohio, in Virginia.

So because most voters don`t split ticket, and even independents who
are breaking toward the president in a lot of these polls because of
Romney`s own personal attributes which people are starting to find odious.
I mean, he is offending half of the country, that`s 47 percent of the
country. That`s like 140 million people.

So, it`s going to be really tough for him to then go out in front of
crowds in let`s say in Wisconsin and try to bolster Tommy Thompson who by
the way probably won`t want to get on stage with him right now.

FINNEY: Let me say, are they even want him with them? To campaign
with them, or are they going to distance themselves from him? They have a
real down ballot problem here.

O`DONNELL: Well, we will see.

Joy Reid and Karen Finney, thank you both for joining me tonight.

REID: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a former Romney supporter is incensed by what
he saw in the secret Romney fundraiser video. And he wants you no know
that Mitt Romney is not the face of Mormonism. He will join us in THE LAST
WORD exclusive, in the spotlight tonight.

And in the "Rewrite", a rewrite of "The West Wing" with the cast of
"The West Wing." They are back for one night only.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(INAUDIBLE)

ROMNEY: Well, I`m poor as a church mouse, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: "When the news of Mitt Romney`s Florida video broke on
Monday evening, I was incensed, but not for its political implications."
So says the first line of a post by Dr. Gregory Prince on "Huffington
Post."

"His arrogant and out of hand dismissal of half the population of this
country struck me at a visceral level, for it sullied the religion that he
and I share, the religion for which five generations of my ancestry have
lived and sacrificed, the religion whose official mantra is `to take care
of the poor and needy throughout the world.` My first impulse was to rent
an airplane towing a banner `Mitt Romney is Not the Face of Mormonism.`"

Joining me now for an exclusive interview, Doctor Gregory Prince,
author of "Having Authority, The Origins and Development of Priesthood
During the Ministry of Joseph Smith." Also "Power From On High, the
Development of the Mormon Priesthood." And he is co author of "David O.
McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism."

Dr. Prince, what was your feeling when you were first hearing these
comments on that videotape of the Romney fundraiser?

DR. GREGORY PRINCE, AUTHOR, HAVING AUTHORITY": It both grieved me and
mystified me, because we have a lot in common. We were missionaries in
foreign countries at the same time period, he in France, I in Brazil. I
have worked very closely with the types of offices that he has held, that
of bishop and stake president of the Mormon church.

I know that Mormon bishops often will spend as much time on their
church duties on a volunteer basis as they do in their professional lives.
And much of what they are doing is involving the poor and the needy.
That`s where the real work of the bishop is done in this church. And I
just couldn`t understand how he could turn away from that.

O`DONNELL: For the purposes of this discussion, let`s listen once
again to that statement that changed this presidential campaign this week.

(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 the government has a responsibility to care for them, who
believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you
name it, that that`s an entitlement and the government should give it to
them.

And they will vote for this president, no matter what. These are
people who pay no income tax. Forty seven percent of Americans pay no
income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn`t connect. He`ll be out
there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that`s what they sell
every four years.

And so my job is not to worry about those people. I`ll never convince
them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their
lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In your piece, Dr. Prince, you write "the very basis of
Mormon community stretching back to the earliest years of Mormonism, nearly
two centuries ago, is that the more able have a sacred obligation to assist
the less able."

PRINCE: Yes, that is correct.

O`DONNELL: And you -- when you -- I want to go back to your history
with Mitt Romney. You were actually a supporter of Mitt Romney`s in his
first presidential campaign, weren`t you?

PRINCE: I was, financially.

O`DONNELL: And you tell a story in this piece about actually
personally approaching Mitt Romney, having a conversation with him about
Mormonism when PBS was doing that documentary. You suggested to him it
would be very useful for both him and the documentary, to appear in it and
have a sane and sensible discussion of his religion there.

How did that conversation go with Mitt Romney?

PRINCE: Well, the producer of that documentary, who was not a Mormon,
had worked with me on the documentary. And she initially made the
suggestion. She was intrigued by him as well. She is not a Republican.
And I said, well, it`s possible that I will be seeing him. She said,
please take this message to him, that I will put him on PBS for one hour
nationally if he will allow me to interview him about his religion.

He was very polite We met him in a reception line, talked to him very
briefly about this. He had heard this before through other emissaries.
And he politely said we have made the judgement that the religion issue is
going to go away on its own. And he declined the offer.

O`DONNELL: There is some speculation that Mormonism actually had
something to do with what we heard on that tape about the 47 percent.
There is a post in the "Washington Post" tonight posting on the website,
saying -- linking that to the notion that church -- I`m quoting it now, the
church happens to have a historic horror of dependency on the state.
What`s your reaction to that?

PRINCE: I think you are referring to a column that was in the
"Washington Post" today. That is half right, that the church does work
very hard to encourage its members to be self sufficient. But that being
said, they also work even harder to make sure that those who don`t achieve
that level of success in life are not left behind.

And very often you will see the bishops as the frontline troops trying
to help these people wherever they are and for whatever the cause that they
are in that position. They certainly don`t condemn them. And they
certainly don`t write them off and walk away from them.

That is why I was so upset that he would make that offhanded
statement, that, at least the way I interpreted it, was writing off half of
the country.

O`DONNELL: In that same comment, by the way, in the "Washington
Post," Kathleen Flake, who is professor of religion at Vanderbilt Divinity
School and also a Mormon herself, actually refers to Mitt Romney`s thinking
in what we heard as twisted. And what she says -- she is quoted in the
"Washington Post" piece as saying, "that is Republicanism. That is not
Mormonism."

PRINCE: I agree with that. Actually, if you look at the social
aspects of Mormonism, it is a surprisingly, to many people, progressive
religion. But you wouldn`t guess that by some of the things that Mitt
Romney has said.

O`DONNELL: And Dr. Prince, before you go, I just want to talk about
politics and Mormonism. I think Mitt Romney and possibly for other reason,
I think people generally think that Mormons probably line up very heavily
Republican. What is your experience with that? And is there anything in
Mormonism that would tilt some -- a voter one way or the other, toward the
Democratic party or Republican party?

PRINCE: Irony, Lawrence, is that over a century ago, one of the
apostles of the church was sent out to try to convince the church members
that it was possible to be a good Mormon and a Republican. So the pendulum
certainly has shifted over the years.

Two weeks ago, we were in Charlotte for the Democratic National
Convention, and had the first ever meeting of the LDS Democrats Caucus. So
I think it is safe to say that at least Mormon Democrats have been removed
from the Endangered Species List.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Gregory Prince, thank you very much for joining me
tonight.

PRINCE: It`s been a pleasure. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, "The West Wing" reunion. The cast of "The West
Wing" gets back together for one more run through the hallway. And don`t
be surprised if they try to teach you something while they`re running
through the hallway.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, a Rewrite of "The West Wing". The
last episode of "The West Wing" was broadcast on NBC six years ago. But
tonight, "The West Wing" is must see TV once question. The cast reunited
recently for one more turn in their "West Wing" costumes.

They are begged to do this constantly. And they always resist. And
getting them all in the same town, in the same day, is now next to
impossible. But they did it. And they did it for a cause. And they did
it for a political candidate.

You want to guess which candidate could get "The West Wing" cast to
reunite for the first time for a campaign ad? No, you don`t want to guess
because you would be wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Previously on "The West Wing".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you calling me crisis, like as my hip-hop
nickname?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m saying there`s a crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it serious?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, will, it`s frivolous. It`s a frivolous
crisis. Walk and talk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really stressed, ever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stupid coffee maker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please tell me this isn`t the crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This isn`t the crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this the voting thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What voting thing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The crisis. Is the crisis the voting thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What voting thing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s the voting thing. How did you find out?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Josh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a disaster. It`s a catastrophe. It is a
cataclysmic event unrivaled by the likes of calamity since the dawn of
history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boo boo, ballpark the odds of you reaching your
point any time in the frantic foreseeable future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People aren`t voting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For us or the other guy? Because there are two
ways to see that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, in nonpartisan elections all across America,
voters are leaving part of their ballots blank. And they don`t even know
it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Explain this to me like I am a two-year-
old. And try to do it like you are not. Come on. I`ll give you a lolly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People walk into the voting booth. They check the
straight party ticket box. They think they have voted for everything. But
they haven`t. They still have to vote on the nonpartisan section of the
ballot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is the part towards the back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Usually, but not necessarily. They still have to
look for it. It`s not rocket science. It`s labeled. But it takes the
voter like an extra ten second to find it. So that`s the thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not talking dog catching here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: State Supreme Court.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: State Supreme Court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michigan is one of 15 states that uses nonpartisan
elections to choose their Supreme Court justices. This is Bridget Mary
McCormack. It`s Mary McCormack`s sister. She`s running for state Supreme
Court in the nonpartisan section of the ballot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Married mother of four, dean at Michigan law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bridget has spent her entire career fighting for
justice for ordinary people, for families with sick kids, for victims of
domestic violence. She has fought to free innocent men and women and get
the actual criminals behind bars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She likes baseball. And I`m going to buy her a
ring.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seriously. Quick question --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who`s Mary McCormack?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is Mary McCormack?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No clue. But something tells me she`s
delightful and whip smart, possibly hot. Hard to say, really. Come on.
We`re walking and talking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Carol, how was Josh`s brief?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The little big man?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Already in a tan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Music to my ears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If people to realize that a straight ticket vote
doesn`t count in nonpartisan raises. If they just casually vote the party
line, then their interests will continue to go unrepresented.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Josh is convinced that it`s something more
than a crisis. It`s upgraded it to a calamity, a catastrophe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m telling you, it`s an apocalypse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it apocalypse now? What say you, C.J.? Shall
we have calmer heads prevail?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. president, as you know, the men and women
who sit on the state supreme courts rule on issues that affect literally
millions of Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing big. You know, niche issues like civil
rights --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The environment --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Workplace protection --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Voter protection.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This isn`t even about which side of those issues
you`re on. We should do something because that`s --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we can. My suggestion box is wide open.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All it would take really is a gentle reminder
for people to look for the nonpartisan section on their ballot and go vote
there.

I was thinking we could make a video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great. Maybe with beloved TV personalities. One
of whom might be considered a movie star handsome Louis C.K.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Read the message boards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the solution is simple, God is answering.
That`s a quote from some old quack named Einstein.

All right, friends, let it be written, let it be done. Ms. Fitterer,
put this away. What`s next?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: I can`t get enough of those guys. Love that. Feels like
yesterday when I was watching them do those walk and talks in the Warner
Brothers lot at 2:00 in the morning when we were deep into overtime
shooting those episodes.

That was written by John Cockerell (ph) and directed by Michael Mayor
(ph). And when we come back, after I dry my tears, you will meet the woman
who brought "The West Wing" cast back together. She has something very
important to teach us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Married mother of four, dean at Michigan law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bridget has spent her entire career fighting for
justice for ordinary people, for families with sick kids, for victims of
domestic violence. She has fought to free innocent men and women and get
the actual criminals behind bars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She likes baseball. And I`m going to buy her a
ring.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So do you like baseball?

BRIDGET MARY MCCORMACK, CANDIDATE FOR MI STATE SUPREME COURT: I do
like baseball, but I think my husband and my kids want to keep me.

O`DONNELL: Speaking of your husband, you have a connection to the
real West Wing these days. Don`t you?

MCCORMACK: That is true. My husband is working in the real West Wing
these days, which is, you know, not so helpful with the carpools in Ann
Arbur.

O`DONNELL: So Bridget Mary McCormack, how did you do this? How did
you manage to reunite "The West Wing" cast. A lot of people have tried to
do that over the years. But how did you do it?

MCCORMACK: I`m going to have to credit Mary Katherine McCormack.

O`DONNELL: No one like Mary McCormack at "The West Wing." It wasn`t
that. That doesn`t make any sense to me. I`m telling you right now.

MCCORMACK: Well, I he have to give her the credit. She is a pretty
great little sister. And she asked a couple of her friends. And before we
knew it, there were a lot of people signed up. So it`s pretty great.

O`DONNELL: I wanted to talk to you about judicial elections, because
what we are seeing around the country now is state judges are more
important than ever. We are looking at, for example, the laws that they
are trying to enact in Pennsylvania, voter suppression laws.

Those are being decided by state judges, elected judges. Those
decisions may end up deciding who becomes the next president of the United
States. I think sometimes it might be hard for you to give people a sense
of the importance of state judges. But this year it seems easy.

MCCORMACK: I hope you are right, I mean, since the whole purpose of
this little video is to increase participation in these elections. Because
of course what you say is the truth. The state supreme courts and our
state courts in general are deciding most of the important legal questions
that affect all of us, our families, our businesses and everything we care
about.

State courts really decide 95 percent of the criminal cases, 95
percent of the civil cases, which isn`t to say federal courts aren`t
important. They are, obviously. But the state courts really are
important. And in states where we elect our state supreme justices,
oftentimes we don`t have enough people voting, like in Michigan, because of
the nonpartisan section of the ballot.

O`DONNELL: The Citizens United decision also had an effect on
judicial elections. Corporate interest groups are finding that they can
sway decisions in their favor by donating huge amounts of money to judicial
candidates, most likely to side with them. And in fact, according to a
report by the Center for American Progress, the states that have seen the
most money in judicial elections now have supreme courts that are dominated
by pro-corporate judges.

MCCORMACK: So the issue of money in politics, as you well know, is
kind of the issue of our day. It is obviously something we are all going
to have to struggle with. In the context of money in judicial elections, I
think it is especially important. And I think folks on both sides of the
political aisle would agree, it is the branch of government where money is
least appropriate in elections, especially money that isn`t identified.

You know, there is very little transparency in most of the spending
that goes on in state supreme court races. I think that`s unfortunate for
two reasons. Number one, because folks -- because of the potential actual
conflict of interest that the funders, again on either side, would have
with the justices. And more importantly perhaps is the undermining of
public confidence in the outcomes our state courts are producing.

I mean, it is important that our public have confidence in the
decisions our courts make. But in places where partisan and politics play
a bigger role because of the opaque campaign finance laws that we are all
living with, people tend to think that the decisions are political and
partisan, even when maybe they are not.

So the public confidence issue, to me, is one that everybody probably
would care about, and why we are working on having more people dig in and
focus on these elections.

O`DONNELL: You know, your sister Mary invited me to hang out on the
set the day they were shooting this, but I was stuck in New York and I
couldn`t be there. And it`s a special joy to be able to watch that
tonight.

Bridget Mary McCormack, thank you very much for joining us tonight and
thank you very much for reuniting that cast.

MCCORMACK: Thank you for having me, Lawrence. I appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. "THE ED SHOW" is next.

END

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