updated 9/28/2012 11:40:49 AM ET 2012-09-28T15:40:49

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
September 27, 2012

Guests: Ana Marie Cox, Ari Melber, Joy Reid

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: This is MSNBC election coverage. That`s
right. This is night one of our 2012 election coverage since voting in the
presidential election started today in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney are
chasing each other`s shadows.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: The president and Mitt Romney will both be
in Virginia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re going toe to toe in the Old Dominion.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: For now, the president is dominating the
Old Dominion.

JANSING: The polls increasingly favor the president.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know something about
polls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For now, the president leads Romney in the Old
Dominion anywhere from five to eight points.

ROMNEY: I know you can ask questions and get any answer you want.

JANSING: And the calendar is Mitt Romney`s nemesis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are running out of time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time.

JANSING: Do you hear that clock ticking?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People don`t trust him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They understand they`re in trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does he turn this thing around?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do they believe they`ve got a chance to turn it
around?

WAGNER: Mitt Romney has campaigned as many things this election
cycle.

ROMNEY: A severely conservative Republican governor.

I`m not concerned about the very poor.

I didn`t inherent money from my friends.

Good morning y`all.

WAGNER: He`s now added one more gig to his resume, human pretzel.

ROMNEY: I would repeal Obamacare.

Don`t forget, I got everyone in my state insured.

JANSING: Their jaw dropped when he said.

ROMNEY: A hundred percent of kids in my state are insured.

BASHIR: What a great argument for defending the president`s
Affordable Care Act.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Here we are 40 days out.

BASHIR: Just 40 days to election.

HALL: And he`s using this as a badge of honor.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: What is this guy? He`s like a
bobblehead.

BASHIR: Did the Republicans nominate the wrong guy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the Republicans nominate a wrong guy?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think a guy like Chris Christy would be
having more luck.

ANN COULTER: If we don`t run Chris Christie, Romney will be the
nominee and we`ll lose.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: With 40 days until the presidential election and with a
new national FOX News poll showing President Obama leading Mitt Romney by
five points among likely voters.

Moments ago on FOX News, Laura Ingraham refused to participate in what
has become a Republican battle against the polls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I will say that if the Romney
campaign`s numbers were markedly different from what the polls across the
board, I`m talking Pew, Rasmussen, Quinnipiac, all of them, FOX included,
if they had a different read than the polls in the swing states, you would
really hear a Romney-Ryan push back against the overall numbers in those
battleground states. You don`t hear that.

I think they believe they are running behind. I don`t think they are
happy about it. But I think they believe they are running behind and
that`s why you are seeing at least around the edges some tweaks to the
Romney campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today, Iowa became the first swing state to start in-
person voting for the president of the United States. The most recent NBC
News poll showed President Obama up eight points among likely voters in
that state.

Today, President Obama campaign in Virginia where a new Suffolk
University poll of likely voters shows President Obama polling at 46
percent and Mitt Romney at 44 percent.

The president reminded Virginia about what Mitt Romney said about 47
percent of Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have always said that
change takes more than one term or more than one president. It takes more
than one party. I can`t happen if you write out half the nation before you
take office.

I don`t know how many of you out there will be voting for me. But,
I`ll be fighting for you no matter what. I`m not fighting to create
Democratic jobs or Republican jobs. I`m fighting to create American jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today, the Obama re-election campaign released it`s third
ad hitting Mitt Romney for insulting and lying about 47 percent of
Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the
president no matter what, who are dependent upon government, who believe
that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to
care for them, who believe they`re entitled to health care, food, housing,
to you name it. And they will vote for this president no matter what.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Rush Limbaugh is still struggling to find an honest way to
defend Mitt Romney`s comments on the 47 percent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Obama thinks he`s got a great
campaign issue, folks. He`s running -- he`s saying that 47 percent of the
people are not victims. He is putting words in Romney`s mouth. He is
misrepresenting what Romney was saying. He`s taking it out of context.

Romney never talked about them being victims.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Never talked about them being victims. Here is what Mitt
Romney actually said. Quote, "There are 47 percent who are with him, who
are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims."

Today, in Virginia, President Obama introduced the campaign theme of
economic patriotism, which was described this way by former Democratic
governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland, at the Democratic National Convention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED STRICKLAND (D), FORMER OHIO GOVERNOR: Mitt Romney has so little
economic patriotism that even this money needs a passport. It is summers
on the beaches of the Cayman Islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss
Alps.

Barack Obama is an economic patriot. Mitt Romney is an outsourcing
pioneer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Here is President Obama on economic patriotism today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: During the campaign season, you always hear a lot about
patriotism. Well, you know what? It is time for a new economic
patriotism. An economic patriotism rooted in the belief that growing our
economy begins with a strong and thriving middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Just released NBC News poling shows that among likely
voters in New Hampshire where Mitt Romney owns a home, President Obama
leads Mitt Romney by seven points. Among likely voters in Nevada,
President Obama polls at 49 percent, Mitt Romney at 47 percent. Among
likely voters in North Carolina, President Obama polls at 48 percent, Mitt
Romney at 46 percent.

Alex Wagner, is there any point to team Obama making any ads for the
rest of the campaign that do not include a 47 percent reference?

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: No. Literally, there should be t-shirts.
There should be temporary tattoos with the number 47 percent that everybody
wears on their foreheads on every campaign rally.

This had proved to be beyond an inflection and is a turning point in
the campaign. It has been devastating for Mitt Romney. He has been on the
record sort of fluent and comfortable talking about dismissing half the
country. And it fits in with the campaign narrative that the Obama team
establish months and months and months ago, that Mitt Romney has proven
himself incapable of disproving.

You know, it is -- it is in some ways, I would say this, Lawrence: as
someone who believes in a two-party system and believes that there need to
be a point and counter point in the American dialogue, it is a travesty for
the Republican Party, Mitt Romney`s candidacy is evidence of a party that
is atrophying, that is at war with itself. It is -- you know, an example
of how weak the GOP has gotten on fundamental issues that are at the root
of conservativism. I mean, I do think it`s an American tragedy in the
long-term.

O`DONNELL: Chris, we saw days of Republicans arguing with the polls.
And some of them are still trying. But you just saw Laura Ingraham give
up. The polling is just too overwhelmingly clear.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Well, they`re not all giving up. I find
that arguing with the polls really fascinating, because there is an
industry that has now grown up around poll denials.

Let me be really clear and totally fair and honest. I remember the
winning days of the 2004 campaign voraciously consuming any blog post that
told me it was wrong, because of the cell phone voters, right? There`s
human instinct across the ideological spectrum to find goodness, right, to
find confirmation bias.

But it`s so striking to me on the conservative side, the amount of
institutional incentives and marketed incentives to encourage that
instinct, right? That instinct is so flattered with money and attention
and it grows up and it grows up. And what we are seeing with this campaign
in the 47 percent, right, is that instinct consuming the Republican Party.

All of these things that they thought would be political winners,
putting Paul Ryan in the ticket, doing the "we built this" theme at the
RNC, right, these are things that originate in rightwing blog comment
threads and become national themes and it turns out that the American
public is not that receptive to themes that emanate in right wing blog
comments. That is the lesson of this campaign so far.

O`DONNELL: One thing about polling is that it tends to get better
over time. I mean, I think four years and eight years ago, the concern
about how cell phones figure into this was a legitimate concern because it
was a new factor. They`d figure that out. They have gotten better with
how to handle cell phones.

WAGNER: Well, I mean, what it is, it`s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It`s like the GOP understands that Mitt Romney was not doing well. So,
they were building him a house to walk into post-November 6th if he does
lose this. Oh, it`s because these polls show that he was down, Republican
voters didn`t come out to the polls, therefore, he lost.

I mean, it`s Jonathan Chait explains it in "New York" magazine, it`s a
sort of prophylactic approach to polling and to a losing campaign.

O`DONNELL: Chris?

HAYES: Yes. I also think that you -- one of the things that`s
driving all this is that the underlying economic misery, that is intensely
felt in certain parts of the country. The Romney campaign built a campaign
around the idea that that was the deciding factor, and that they would just
be named the president of the United States because the economy was bad.

And it turns out the economy is bad in a much more complicated way
than they thought and is getting better in a way that I think Americans
feel more intensely than a lot of political commentators anticipated. I
think we`re seeing that in the numbers.

WAGNER: And the American public has a more nuanced view of the
economy and the --

HAYES: It`s not a thumbs up or thumbs down.

WAGNER: Yes. The Romney campaign has an incredibly crash view of how
Americans understand the economy and it turns out the American public is
more informed and more nuanced in their views about the economy than the
Republicans thought.

O`DONNELL: "The National Review" editorial board has weighed in on
this. They say the Romney campaign acknowledges that the crisis began
before Obama took office. But it has next to nothing to say about what
Bush era Republicans got wrong. The result is that Romney appears to be
saying that everything was going swimmingly until Obama came along. That
impression lends credence to Obama`s attempt to portray Romney as running
for Bush`s third term.

WAGNER: And that half of Romney`s staff is former Bushies. I mean,
the relationship -- the GOP`s relationship to the Bushies and to the George
W. Bush era is incredibly uncomfortable. You know, you look at the fact
that George W. Bush wasn`t at the RNC. That they`ve sort of try to brush
this under the rug.

Yet, they`ve doubled down on Bush era economic policies and Bush era
staff. There are no new ideas there. And so, the idea -- the fact that
the Republican Party hasn`t figured out how to get its arms around the Bush
legacy given the fact that they have a bear hug around the Bush era
policies I guess not that surprising.

O`DONNELL: Chris, one thing that I think is going on in the
Republican world with Bill Kristols, and "National Review," some of those
places, is, they -- there is a limit to how stupid they want to look. They
-- I think some of them want to be able to say the day after the election.

HAYES: Clearly.

O`DONNELL: I saw this coming. Look at what I said in October. Look
at what I said in September.

I told you if Romney doesn`t talk about what he is going to do as
president, as opposed to just run, help the economy wins it for him, then
he is in trouble. They are trying to put their markers down.

HAYES: All of these columns are small monthly premiums on the
insurance policy. Right? They are paying out a little bit. They get a
little attacked. But what they are doing is they`re putting down premiums
so they could purchase the insurance afterwards to say, I told you so.

And also so that they`re not discredited, right? So that the idea is
when there is a battle after words. And again, I don`t think we should do
too much chicken counting. A lot could happen in 41 days.

O`DONNELL: Oh, sure.

HAYES: Lord knows Greece could exit the euro tomorrow and sends the
global economy into a tailspin, and it very looks different and we are at
this table in a week. So, I just want to be clear about that.

But they clearly are projecting forward a Romney loss and trying to
prefight the battle over the reason that it happened.

And in terms of the Bush legacy, let`s not forget -- Paul Ryan voted
for all of that. He voted for Medicare Part D. He voted for Medicare Part
D prescription drug benefit that is -- which has cost into perpetuity that
will never be taken away that was not paid for. He voted for it.

WAGNER: And by the way, it`s (INAUDIBLE) bad a program. But the fact
is Paul Ryan voted for it.

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner and Chris Hayes, thank you both for joining me
tonight.

WAGNER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up: Team Romney is praising President Obama now.
They really are. We`ll show you why they are doing it with Krystal Ball
and Howard Fineman.

And crazy Todd Akin is still crazy and still saying crazy things.
We`ll show his latest attack on Senator Claire McCaskill.

And in the rewrite tonight, the oblivious Mr. Romney -- Mitt Romney
was in favor of the Vietnam War and in favor of the draft that sent
Americans to their death in Vietnam, but he was not in favor observing in
Vietnam himself. The oblivious Mr. Romney was taught a lesson today about
the utter amorality of his conduct during the Vietnam period by a veteran
of that war who also taught the oblivious Mr. Romney a lesson about the
people Romney thinks of as the takers, the 47 percent, he thinks are
dependant on government. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Why is team Romney suddenly praising President Obama?
They really are. They are calling him things like the greatest orator of
our time, stuff like that. Tweet your guesses about why Romney world is
suddenly praising Obama.

The answer is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(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 they`re entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name
it. These are people who pay no income tax.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The Romney debate team has exactly six days to figure out
what Mitt Romney must say about what you just heard, what he has to come up
with in the debate to say about his infamous 47 percent comments. The
first presidential debate is just six day away.

If Mitt Romney cannot successfully deal with his slander against 47
percent of the American people, his campaign will die on the spot on that
debate stage. As team Romney privately obsesses now on how to handle that
47 percent question, they are publicly rising suddenly in praise, praise of
President Obama.

They say he is, quote, "universally acclaimed." They say he has,
quote, "natural gifts and extensive seasoning." That he is, quote,
"uniquely gifted". And this team Romney talking President Obama they say
is, quote, "One of the most talented political communicators in modern
history."

They are, of course, desperately trying to lower expectations for Mitt
Romney in the debate to the point where if he can just stay standing for
the 90 minutes, it will be considered a victory. Team Romney says, "It`s
clear that President Obama will use his ample rhetorical gifts and debating
experience to one end attacking Mitt Romney. Since he won`t and can`t talk
about his record, he`ll talk about Mitt Romney. We fully expect a 90-
minute attack ad aimed at tearing down his opponent."

Krystal Ball, the president will not be allowed to speak for the full
90 minutes of the debate. I don`t think. Surely, Jim Lehrer will get
something in there too. So I think the most we could possibly expect is
maybe a 30-minute attack ad on Mitt Romney?

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST: Although you never know. You know, the
Romney camp, given how ineffectual he has been at talking at all, maybe
they should put that in the rules that President Obama can just opine for
90 minutes instead of Mitt Romney having to say anything.

But I suspect that`s not what they`re going to do. And what I would
say for Mitt Romney is he has a real challenge to come in and not look
scared, not look defensive.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

BALL: Not look like he has to have that big one liner that`s going to
change things for him. He has to be cool and calm and very confident and
own the space. I think that`s the most important thing for him, because he
looks skittish, those optics will be the thing that`s most devastating for
him.

O`DONNELL: Howard Fineman, the first presidential debate with an
incumbent on the stage, you would think would be about -- the pressure
would be on the incumbent to defend the last four years of his conduct in
office. But in this debate, it`s very clear that 100 percent of the
pressure in this debate is on how does Mitt Romney handle the 47 percent
question?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: Right. And I agree with Krystal, or
to put in other terms, the undecided voters are sitting with their back
toward the stage and trying to decide to press the button and turn around
and look at Mitt Romney, ala, "The Voice". And he`s got to be strong and
he`s got to have an answer.

The problem he`s got is that whichever way he turns on several issues,
he loses a piece of the argument. It`s kind of like in chess where the
president has a metaphoric where Romney is going to lose a piece wherever
way he turns.

On the 47 percent, probably his best answer and one that he`s used
before in the last few days is say, look, obviously I care about everybody.
I care about the 100 percent. Look at what I did in Massachusetts with
Romneycare. But if he gives that answer, he loses the strength of his
argument about abolishing Obamacare.

But I think he has no choice. I think he also has to say that like
the president, when the president in 2008 was overheard at a fundraiser
talking about people clinging to their guns and their religion, that people
shorthand thinks in debates, in private. And he didn`t mean to imply that
he didn`t care about everybody. He obviously does.

Maybe it`s a lame excuse. It`s a counterattack excuse. But I think
it`s more you`ll hear him use.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, there is no response Romney could come up with
that will not in some way contradict the text of what he actually said, the
actual words he used.

BALL: That`s exactly right, which is why it`s so devastating. There
is no ability to actually get out of that box and I think his best attempt
is what he put up in his ad, where he says, you know, basically, I swear,
President Obama cares for the middle class, I do too. And then he goes on
to list how many people are in food stamps.

I think that`s the direction they`re going to go in and say, I really
do care about the middle class, here`s what I did in Massachusetts and then
go on the attack as quickly as possible, because there is no real defense
of that statement.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Peggy Noonan had to say about
Romney`s debate possibilities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PEGGY NOONAN, WSJ: I think that Romney has a chance to walk in there
and be surprising and show not likability and all that dumb stuff we all
talk about, that we all enjoy talking about. But something like height and
heft and command so that you could look at him and think, yes, he`s the
president, because he happens to be on stage with a guy who for 3 1/2 years
has been the president. He doesn`t have to prove that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Howard, one of the things I`m struck by in what Peggy said
is likability and all that dumb stuff that we talk about. It seems with
the president`s enormous lead on likability in the polls, you can`t dismiss
likability. It is -- without likability, where would President Obama be in
these polls today?

FINEMAN: Well, Stuart -- first of all, I talked not long ago to
Stuart Stevens, who is one of the top advisers to Mitt Romney, they`re
hoping -- they want to make this an extended conversation. Don`t forget,
there are four debates. Three presidential, one vice presidential.

They may be unrealistic in hoping that there are many undecided voters
now or the things shift that much in October. But that`s been their
strategic vision from the very beginning. So they care a whole lot about
these debates.

I think, though, that what they have to do is not worry -- I agree
with Peggy Noonan -- not worry so much about the likability factor, exactly
what she means by height and heft, I don`t know.

BALL: The trees are in the right height.

FINEMAN: The trees are in appropriate size.

But this is the one time where Mitt Romney can directly confront the
president. He has to be careful about how he does it. But he has say to
the president, look, you have failed, you have failed as the economic
commander-in-chief, here is why you have failed and here is why I would be
better at the job.

That`s the essence of what he has to do. That`s what Stuart told me
Mitt Romney wants to do. I believe him. I think that`s obviously.

And winning the likability game, Mitt Romney will never do. He is
going to be the dork from the beginning to end. But he`s got to say, look,
I might not be that -- I`m not charming perhaps. I`m not -- I don`t always
say things the right way as I proved in that misshapen quote from the
debate -- you know, behind closed doors but I know how to fix the economy,
here`s why Obama can`t and why I can.

O`DONNELL: Well, I for one have no doubt that President Obama will be
a better defender of his record than Mitt Romney turns out to be a
prosecutor of that record.

Krystal Ball and Howard Fineman, thank you both very much for joining
me tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

FINEMAN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, I hate to say I told you so, especially on this
one, because I don`t actually want this to happen. But, as predicted here,
Republican money is flowing back into Todd Akin`s crazy Senate campaign and
he is saying crazy things about Senator Claire McCaskill.

And in the rewrite tonight, the oblivious Mr. Romney, the amoral Mr.
Romney is taught a lesson about who the takers are in this country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, bat crap crazy Republican Todd
Akin said this about his opponent in the Senate race, Claire McCaskill: "I
think we have a very clear path to victory. And apparently Claire
McCaskill thinks we do too, because she was very aggressive at the debate,
which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent. She
had a confidence and was much more lady like. But in the debate on Friday,
she came out swinging. And I think that is because she feels threatened."

Akin also said "the first two minutes, wow, it is like somebody let a
wild cat out of the cage. She was just furious and attacking in every
different direction, which was a little bit of a surprise to us."

OK, let`s take a look at just how wild Senator Claire McCaskill got at
the beginning of that debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Thank you to the Press
Association. It is great to be here. And thank you to both Todd and
Jonathan for being here today. This election is going to be quite a
contrast for Missourians, but not because we are at opposite ends, Todd and
me. I am in the middle. It`s just he is so far on the fringe, that`s
where the contrast comes in.

There have been many comments made in this campaign by Congressman
Akin that I find unacceptable. But his views that will be painful for
Missouri families.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Ana Marie Cox, correspondent for "The
Guardian" and MSNBC`s Ari Melber. Ana Marie, she used to be much more lady
like when she was running for Senate. I don`t know what has happened to
her. I just don`t get it.

ANA MARIE COX, "THE GUARDIAN": I don`t know. She did have a way of
shutting that down. So maybe that`s what he is thinking of.

O`DONNELL: I guess for Todd, beginning with "thank you Todd" wasn`t
lady like enough in this debate.

COX: You know, I don`t think that I would want to live in a world
where Todd Akin`s definition of lady like was what everyone adhered to.
Actually, you know what, I know what that world is. And it`s described by
Margaret Atwood in "A Handmaiden`s Tale." So I`m glad we are not in that
world. I`m glad that Claire McCaskill is not lady like, as defined by Todd
Akin.

You know, it`s important to remember here -- I feel like I should say
this -- she`s ahead in the polls, not by a whole lot. But Todd Akin is the
person she wanted to run against. You know, her path to the Senate -- back
to the Senate goes through Todd Akin. And so far, he`s shown why, I think.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber, the big money Republicans all said, we`re
pulling, when he did that crazy legitimate rape comment. We will not
support this candidate. Now that the legal deadline has passed for any
possibility of an alternative candidate, they`re starting to say, oh, well,
maybe. We really do want to stop Claire McCaskill. So, of course, they`re
getting ready to break all their promises about not pouring money into it.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, it confirms what every one
knows, which is that was just politics. There wasn`t actually any outrage
among Republican leaders about the terrible things he said or about the
sexist comments he`s making now. There was just a concern that it would
look bad.

I think it is funny because, you know --

O`DONNELL: And they were hoping to drive him out and get a better
candidate. But now that they didn`t, they still want to beat Claire
McCaskill, and bomb her with money.

MELBER: Exactly. And so now they`re putting their money back where
their mouth is. And I think the other part of it that is striking as a
contrast is you hear so many calls for Democrats to distance themselves
from the most random people, from the hip hop artist Common, for example,
was a big issue on Fox News, because the president once was at an event
that he was at. We all know that game. That happens so often with really
the most tertiary people.

This is the guy running for the party seat. This is the guy that will
vote for the party. And he is showing a flare and a commitment to misogyny
that should really outrage people.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at this PAC -- super PAC ad that Emily`s
List is affiliated with. Let`s take a look at it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You heard what he said.

REP. TODD AKEN (R), CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: If it`s a legitimate rape,
the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But what else did you know? Well, Todd Akin
says Medicare is unconstitutional. He voted to essentially end it. He
wants to end federal student loans too, calls them a cancer.

AKEN: Stage three cancer of socialism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Akin even voted against the National Sex
Offender Registry to track pedophiles. That`s Todd Akin. And he`s wrong
for Missouri.

Women Vote is responsible for the content of this ad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ana Marie Cox, these ads -- and Claire McCaskill has one
that is a little bit similar, not quite as hard hitting as that. But you
do learn -- actually learn things about Todd Akin. You thought you knew
how crazy he was. But in 30 seconds, you can learn a lot more.

COX: Oh, you can. And they`re just scratching the surface. I mean,
he has a history of saying some really, really crazy things, including
comparing SCHIP, you know, insurance for children, to the Titanic. He also
said that the National Defense Authorization Bill somehow legalized
bestiality.

I mean, the guy is nuts. And I think maybe Missourians just need to
be shown that. I mean, Claire McCaskill does have problems in Missouri.
She is one of the first people to endorse Obama, who still is unpopular.
She is a center Democrat who has trouble sort of proving that to the
basically conservative populous in Missouri.

But she did -- I think it was a stroke of luck that she is running
against Todd Akin.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Ari.

MELBER: I just want to say, the other part of this, thought, that
goes to the perils for women who progress in politics, just like African
Americans who progress, is there is this double standard where there`s all
these attacks on them. But to succeed in many places, particularly to
succeed in a Midwestern or southern state, Claire McCaskill can`t really
get too involved in calling this out as sexist.

It reminds me a little bit of the frustration around our first black
president, where he goes out of his way to give a lot of people a pass on
what are coded and racial attacks on him, because of the political
imperatives. You know, I worked a decade ago for a female senator in the
U.S. and I remember all the time people saying, well, what`s it like
working for her and she seems really tough and other words that were more,
you know, gender coded.

I would say, you know, she doesn`t seem to me any tougher than any of
the other senators. You don`t get into the top 100 without being tough.
But there is a double standard for women like there`s a double standard for
African Americans.

O`DONNELL: Tough has never been used as a negative adjective for a
male politician. Never once.

Ana Marie Cox and Ari Melber, thank you both for joining me tonight.

MELBER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up. Republicans who say voter fraud really happens
may have just gotten proof. There is a criminal investigation into a
Republican voter registration drive in Florida.

And in the Rewrite, Mitt Romney wants to be the commander in chief of
a military that he refused to serve during the war of his era. He would
not be the first president who did not serve in the military. But he would
be the first president who protested in favor of the war of his era,
protested in favor of the draft for that war, while evading that draft
himself and refusing to serve in that war.

The oblivious and amoral Mr. Romney is in tonight`s Rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, Mitt Romney the taker. We have
heard from his own mouth that -- what Mitt Romney thinks of 47 percent of
us, that he thinks of us as takers dependant on government.

Here is a picture of Mitt Romney, the taker, in 1968. That is Mitt
Romney on a beach in France taking a special draft deferment given only to
Mormons, which allowed him to escape service in the Vietnam War. There he
is, the very picture of obliviousness, oblivious to the fact that while he
was playing in the sand on French beaches, beaches where 2,500 Americans
died in one day on World War II, thousands and thousands of young Americans
his age were dying in Vietnam for a foolish war that American he was on its
way to losing, a war that the oblivious young Mr. Romney fully supported.

The oblivious Mr. Romney also supported the draft. He participated in
what might be the only college demonstration in history in favor of the
draft. But Mitt Romney was not in favor of being drafted himself. He was
not in favor of getting his hands dirty in the military. He was in favor
of his college classmates going to war and dying but not him.

Romney men don`t go to war. His father didn`t. Mitt Romney didn`t.
His sons didn`t. They support wars, but they refuse to fight wars.
Millions of us, including those of us who were in high school at the time,
were opposed to the Vietnam War, and protested against both the war and the
draft.

Bill Clinton did everything he could to avoid the draft back then,
without the benefit of the special Mormon deferment that Mitt Romney
enjoyed. But Bill Clinton also opposed the war. He didn`t want anyone to
go to that war. Bill Clinton was not in favor of forcing others to go to
Vietnam to die in his place, like Mitt Romney was.

Young American men had terrible choices to make in those days: protest
the war or serve in the war, protest the draft or surrender to the draft or
avoid the draft or evade the draft or even flee the country or go to prison
in defiance of the draft.

Noble men made each one of those choices. Going to war was not the
only brave choice then. Morally centered men made each one of those
choices. The amorality of Mitt Romney`s choice was something that I had
never heard of until I read Mitt Romney`s story. I did not know that there
was a single American man who publicly protested in favor of the war, who
publicly protested in favor of the draft, and then evaded that draft
himself, and then sat idly by, played in the sand of French beaches, while
expecting other young American men his age to go to Vietnam in his place.
I did not know anyone made that choice.

Mitt Romney thinks of people taking veteran`s benefits as dependent on
government, thinks of them as the takers. We could have had 58,000 more of
those takers, 58,000 of them about Mitt Romney`s age taking veterans
benefits from government right now if they hadn`t been killed in Vietnam
when Mitt Romney was playing on the beach.

The oblivious Mr. Romney was reminded of that today, reminded that he
and his father and sons did not serve in the wars of their era. He was
reminded of that by a man whose family has done the opposite. Before
introducing President Obama at a campaign rally in Virginia today, Virginia
Senator Jim Webb said this about the people Mitt Romney thinks of as
takers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: They`re calling these people takers
rather than givers. Let me say something about veterans` benefits. I grew
up in the military. My dad was a pilot, flew in World War II, the Berlin
Airlift. I was a Marine. My brother was a Marine. My son was a Marine.

(APPLAUSE)

WEBB: I`ve worked on veteran`s issues all my adult life. Governor
Romney and I are right about the same age, young guys. Like millions in
our generation, we came to adulthood facing the harsh realities of the
Vietnam War. Two point seven million in our age group went to Vietnam, the
war which eventually took the lives of 58,000 young Americans and cost
another 300,000 wounded.

The Marine Corps lost 100,000 killed or wounded in that war. During
the year that I was in Vietnam, 1969, our country lost twice as many dead
as we have lost in Iraq and Afghanistan combined over the past 10 years of
war. 1968 was worse; 1967 was about the same. And there is not a day that
goes by when I do not think about the young Marines that I was privileged
to lead.

(APPLAUSE)

WEBB: Those young Marines that I led so many years ago have grown
older now. They have lived lives of courage both in combat and after their
return, where many of them were derided by their own peers for having
served. That was a long time ago. They are not bitter. They know what
they did.

But in receiving veteran`s benefits, they are not takers. They are
givers in the ultimate sense of the word.

(APPLAUSE)

WEBB: There is a saying among war veterans, all gave some, some gave
all. That is not a culture of dependency. It is a part of a long
tradition that gave this country its freedom and independence. They paid,
some with their lives, some through wounds and disabilities, some through
their emotional scars, some through lost opportunities and delayed entry
into civilian careers, which had already begun for many of their peers who
did not pay.

And not only did they pay, they will not say this -- I will say it for
them -- they are owed. They are owed.

(APPLAUSE)

WEBB: If nothing else, at least a mention, some word of thanks and
respect when a presidential candidate who is their generational peer makes
a speech accepting his party`s nomination to be commander in chief. And
they`re owed much more than that, a guarantee that we will never betray the
commitment that we made to them and to their loved ones.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Here is a memo to everybody who
thinks this is voter suppression: showing an ID to vote is responsible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Since 2008, at least 15 states have passed or tightened
voter ID laws. Republicans insist these laws are protecting the nation
from voter fraud. Turns out that one of the first criminal cases of voter
fraud is being investigated this election season, and it is fraud committed
by and for the Republican Party.

Tonight, the Republican National Committee had to fire a consulting
firm it paid millions of dollars to to collect voter registration
signatures, after election officials in six Florida counties flagged
hundreds of forms as potentially fraudulent. Local prosecutors are
investigating the matter and election officials say the cases could be
turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Strategic Allied Consulting, the firm in question, also collected
signatures for the Republican National Committee in Nevada, North Carolina,
Colorado and Virginia. It insists that the alleged fraud is the work of
just a few bad apples.

Joy Reid, you have been studying this Florida case. There is a
familiar character at the center of this whole thing.

JOY REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, good old Nathan Spreul. He`s
familiar to me back in the days when I was actually doing -- working on the
campaign side. Because back in the 2004 election, his company, which is
now called Lincoln Consulting -- and that`s how it appears on Mitt Romney`s
FEC filing forms, because he changed the name of it -- what they were
accused of in `04 is sending out their guys to register people to vote.

They come to you. They register you. They sign you up If you check
off register me as a Republican, your registration form goes right to --
into the office and you get registered.

O`DONNELL: They turn it in.

REID: They turn it in and you are now registered.

O`DONNELL: And if I check Democrat?

REID: Shredded.

O`DONNELL: Shredded? Thrown away?

REID: Exactly. And one employee actually told on them. And he was
called a disgruntled employee, said those were lies. But he literally said
that what they were doing was they were separating the ballots into people
who wanted to be registered as Democrats and people who wanted to be
registered as Republicans. And Democrats were showing up to the polls in
2004 in Florida to find that they were not registered to vote.

O`DONNELL: Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee
in the Senate, asked for an investigation of this guy years ago.

REID: Yes, and it never happened. The Bush Justice Department never
did anything about it. It`s worse than that. In Florida, there are
several types of actual voter fraud that have been caught and so far
pending prosecutor, right? There are the falsification of signatures, when
you need to do ballot signatures. That has actually been caught. It has
only been Republicans.

There is this kind of fraud, where you say you have registered to vote
but you never really did. And there`s a third kind, which is absentee
ballot fraud, which was not legislated against by the Republican state
legislature in Florida. They left it out. But that has actually happened.

There are two lawsuits pending right now in Miami that could overturn
the Miami-Dade mayor`s race because people went to senior citizens and
filled out their absentee ballots for them. So there is voter fraud, but
it`s not in person voter fraud.

O`DONNELL: "New Republic`s" Tim Noah (ph) made the point that if
Republicans believe, as Romney says, that 47 percent of the vote is locked
in for the president, then ignoring them isn`t enough. You got to stop
them.

REID: You got to stop them. This is a game of subtraction at this
point. I think the more desperate the Republicans get vis-a-vis the Romney
campaign, the more likely we are to see sort of shenanigans to try to take
people off the rolls.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid gets tonight`s LAST WORD on voter suppression.
Up next, "THE ED SHOW."

END

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