updated 10/11/2012 12:34:29 PM ET 2012-10-11T16:34:29

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
October 10, 2012

Guests: Martha Plimpton, Irin Carmon, Sam Stein, Jonathan Capehart, John Hodgeman

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Team Romney`s biggest problem is back and
that problem, the one that just won`t go away is Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Taxes, education, reproductive rights.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You want to know my position
on issues, ask me and I`ll tell.

WAGNER: When you`re Mitt Romney, what`s wrong with a little change of
heart?

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Romney`s flipped again.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: It`s what he said about abortion --

THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC ANCHOR: A woman`s right to choose.

MITCHELL: -- that could be causing headaches for his campaign.

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: A new Romney promise.

WAGNER: New policies, new statements, and new beliefs.

SHARPTON: No new abortion laws.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: Here`s what he told the "Des Moines
Register" yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s no legislation with regards to abortion
that I`m familiar with --

M. ROMNEY: That would become part of my agenda.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Wow, here is old moderate Mitt.

JANSING: Moderate Mitt.

CLINTON: Where you been, boy? I`ve missed you all these last two
years.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Bill Clinton last night --

JANSING: Bill Clinton in Vegas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Basically calling him a liar.

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: Lied about what? He`s been saying
this all long.

M. ROMNEY: My presidency will be a pro-life presidency.

I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.

Do I believe Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes.

I will preserve and protect a woman`s right to choose.

Planned Parenthood, we`re going to get rid of that.

(INAUDIBLE)

JANSING: What is going on with the Romney message?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people are confused.

M. ROMNEY: If you want to know my position on issues, ask me and I`ll
tell you.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: I`m going to ask you a question.

M. ROMNEY: Ask me and I`ll tell you.

STEWART: Are you a wizard?

WAGNER: There are 27 days until the election.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Just 27 days.

JANSING: Twenty-seven days from the election.

WAGNER: When you`re Mitt Romney, what`s wrong with a little change of
heart?

JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: Look, it`s a trolley. It`s on the way to the
neighborhood of make-believe. That`s where me and Paul Ryan get most of
our facts from.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: With just 27 days until Election Day, today President
Obama seized on Mitt Romney`s attempt to run away from the extreme position
on abortion that Romney took to win the crazy Republican presidential
primary. Team Romney was forced to spend today talking about their
candidate`s abortion stance after Mitt Romney said this yesterday to the
"Des Moines Register".

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ROMNEY: There`s no legislation with regards to abortion that I`m
familiar with that would become part of my agenda.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: President Obama responded tonight in an interview on ABC
News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is another example
of Governor Romney hiding positions he`s been campaigning on for a year and
a half.

DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: Is it a lie?

OBAMA: Governor Romney has made very clear that if a bill comes to
his desk that overturns Roe versus Wade, that he would be fully supportive
of that. He said, "I will appoint justices that will overturn Roe versus
Wade." And now, four weeks before an election, he is trying to cloud the
question when it comes to women`s rights to control their own health care
decisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The president then said why it matters that Mitt Romney is
now running away from the Mitt Romney from the Republican primaries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The one thing that I think people -- Republicans as well as
Democrats can say -- is that there has been consistency with me from the
time that I started running for president to today. And there will be
consistency all the way through the next four years of my presidency.
People will know where I stand, what I believe, what I`m fighting for. And
that`s part of leadership.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney`s attempted softening on abortion yesterday
forced Mitt Romney to today reassure Republicans that he was still the
severely conservative anti-abortion Mitt Romney that they nominated for
president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I think I`ve said that, time and again, I`m a pro-life
candidate. I`ll be a pro-life president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That comes after his spokesperson Andrea Saul told the
conservative "National Review Online", "Governor Romney would, of course,
of course, of course, support legislation aimed at greater protections for
life."

Last night in Las Vegas, President Bill Clinton gave his take on the
revised Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I had a different reaction to that first debate than a lot
of people did. I mean, I thought, "Wow! Here`s old moderate Mitt. Where
you been, boy, I missed you all these last two years!"

But I was paying attention in the last two years. And it was like one
of these Bain Capital deals where, you know, he`s the closer. So he shows
up, doesn`t really know much about the deal and says, "Tell me what I`m
supposed to say to close." Now the problem with this deal is, the deal was
made by severe conservative Mitt. That was how he described himself for
two whole years.

Until three or four days before the debate they all got together and
said, "Hey, Mitt, this ship is sinkin` faster than the Titanic. But people
are still frustrated about the economy, they want it fixed yesterday, so
just show up with a sunny face and say, I didn`t say all that stuff I said
for the last two years. I don`t have that tax plan I`ve had for the last
two years. You`re going to believe me or your lyin` eyes here? Come on."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The national Gallup tracking poll of likely voters shows
the presidential race even now at 48 percent. And tonight, Nate Silver of
"New York Times" "FiveThirtyEight" blog forecasted that on November 6th,
President Obama will win 294 Electoral College votes and Mitt Romney will
win 245. And President Obama has a 68 percent chance of winning the
election.

Joy Reid, why it seems like 24 hours ago when we first heard Mitt
Romney say that line yesterday, there`s no legislation with regards to
abortion that I am familiar with that would become part of my agenda. So
many questions in there. You mean you`re not familiar with it?

And then here`s his spokesperson today saying absolutely, he will sign
-- as we said last night -- he will sign any legislation that a Republican
congress hands him on this.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: Yes. I think we`ve just discovered, Lawrence,
how long the leash around Mitt Romney extends. And just where it snaps and
where it -- where that is, is with social conservatives. They rein him
back in very quickly.

It was actually kind of funny because Andrea Saul, his spokesperson,
she tweeted two absolutely contradictory things like within a space of an
hour. First, his moderate Mitt persona gets to come out. Just a little
bit. But they drag him back in and make him pay homage to the most extreme
factions of his party, and I think that tells you a lot about what kind of
president Mitt Romney might be.

Let`s here more of what President Obama said in his ABC interview
tonight talking about what Mitt Romney tries to hide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Governor Romney went to a lot of trouble trying to hide what
his positions are because he knows that those ideas have been rejected.
They won`t work. And if he`s making an honest presentation of what he`s
proposed, he will lose, because the American people are not going to go
back there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ari, it seems like the president is warming up for his
second debate where it`s becoming predictable that he is going to go after
Mitt Romney in the way he did in that comment.

ARI MELBER, THE NATION: Yes. I think, you know, when you`re on deck,
you swing two bats to get warm and when you come back the ball is the
second bat and Romney is going to have to be the ball and he`s going to
have to swing the bat really hard. I think the president knows that.
We`re seeing all that telegraphing.

This is so important because it`s a fundamental issue. It`s an issue
of morality for many people and it`s an issue that shows you where you
stand. We don`t have the time to go through all of the positions but this
is important enough to --

O`DONNELL: Take some time to go through some of the issues --

MELBER: I`ve brought homework --

O`DONNELL: -- because I`ve lost track of how many there are.

MELBER: Yes. And Mitt Romney`s biggest enemy is YouTube and that`s
his problem. All of these that I`m reading are on YouTube.

`94, "I support Roe v. Wade," says Mitt Romney.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I remember that one. Yes.

MELBER: "I`m unequivocally pro-choice," 2002.

2005, "I`m pro-life."

O`DONNELL: That covers an eight-year period of consistency.

MELBER: Yes.

O`DONNELL: OK.

MELBER: 2005, "I`m pro-life but will maintain the pro-life choice
status quo."

2007, "I`d be delighted to sign a bill banning abortion."

2007, "I want to extend Fourth Amendment protections." That`s equal
protection to the unborn child.

2008, "I want to return abortion to the states," a position that he
repeated in 2012 and then later said I recognized the issue has been
settled for some time in the courts. And then, now, this slight of hand,
what Obama calls clouding, what I will call lying, about the issues that
are so predominant in the Republican Congress, which is, they want to pass
laws that try to restrict this wherever they can and go up against Roe v.
Wade and Planned Parenthood.

That is the issue. It`s a big one. And Mitt Romney doesn`t have two
positions, three positions, I would say there`s at least five positions
here and it`s not trustworthy.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Michelle Obama said today about
health care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Today, believe me, as a father he knows
what it means to want our daughters to have the same freedoms and
opportunities as our sons. That is why he will always, always fight to
ensure that women, that we as women make our own decisions about our bodies
and our health care. That`s what my husband stands for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joy, this will involve guesswork ultimately, but what is
your sense of what it means in terms of political communication for the
president to be the father of daughters when talking about women`s issues
and Mitt Romney quite famously not having any daughters.

REID: I think that`s actually a really important point and I think
Mitt Romney in a lot of ways does not echo the experience that a lot of
Americans have had on a lot of issues. He doesn`t really understand want.
So the 47 percent comment just rolls off of his tongue.

He doesn`t really understand unemployment or not being able to find a
job. So saying I like being able to fire people just sort of comes
naturally and he doesn`t really see what is wrong with it until he`s
pointed out to him.

And because he has sons, I think it`s sort of the subtleties of the
issues dealing with women, maybe it`s a faith issue, I don`t know what it
is, but he doesn`t seem to have a terrible amount of empathy for this issue
and a lot of issues.

And to me, I just sort of thought, Mitt Romney is a salesman. He
could turn to you, Lawrence, and say, I am completely opposed to abortion
and then 10 seconds later turn to you, Ari, and say, I am completely for
it. And I don`t think that he twitches and that`s what sort of scares me
about him --

O`DONNELL: Yes.

REID: -- is that there is a sort of that sense that within himself he
doesn`t feel that there`s something wrong with doing that. So, I think
it`s empathy and I think that he`s also that he just a businessman getting
what he needs.

O`DONNELL: Bill Clinton did a great job of capturing that salesman
component of the Romney personality.

MELBER: Yes. And what Bill Clinton said is basically, that`s fine if
you want to make money, right? I mean, we understand when you buy a car,
you get someone who does a lot of puffery and say, this is great and you
kind of factor that in. You don`t want that in a president.

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

MELBER: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, who would dare, who would even think about
making predictions about tomorrow night`s vice presidential debate after
the first presidential debate turned out to be so wildly unpredictable?
Let me see if I can get Jonathan Capehart to do that, coming up here.

And later, the war on women, the one where women get shot in the head
because of what they think. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BRESAK)

O`DONNELL: Women`s health should be a big issue in this political
campaign. And one of the stars of a new ad who`s trying to make exactly
that point will join us in a LAST WORD exclusive.

And in the rewrite tonight, another episode, one more episode of the
politics of religion. This one is unlike any other one we`ve done before.
This one includes an attempted assassination of a 14-year-old girl.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: It`s time to put the president, the Congress,
lawmakers across the United States on notice, we`re not going to stand for
this anymore. Sign the bill of reproductive rights and pass it on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We first showed you that ad featuring Meryl Streep last
night. It`s part of the Center for Reproductive Rights` Draw the Line
campaign. They want to get as many people as possible to sign the bill of
reproductive rights, which states, "We the people of the United States
hereby assert the following as fundamental rights, the right to make our
own decision about our reproductive health and future, free from intrusion
or coercion by any government, group, or individual, the right to a full
range of safe, affordable, readily accessible reproductive health care and
the right to be free from discrimination and access to reproductive health
care on the basis of our reproductive decision."

Here are some of the other people who have joined Meryl Streep and
signed on to protect women`s reproductive rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kyra, have you seen this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This lawmaker in Georgia is calling women farm
animals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ve got to be kidding me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. This other guy says this whole contraception
thing wouldn`t be a problem that women would just stop having sex.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This guy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Somehow I don`t think it`s going to be a
problem for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it`s a problem for everybody else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you sign this bill of reproductive rights
thing here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Good. Let me do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just hit the little draw the line there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Now what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know what to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Farm animals? Is that a joke? Is that a joke?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No. No. No, no, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a bit much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Force vaginal what?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now for an exclusive interview, one of the
stars of the "Draw the Line" campaign ad actress and activist Martha
Plimpton, and here, and Irin Carmon, writer for Salon.com.

Martha, how did you get involved in the project?

MARTHA PLIMPTON, ACTRESS, "RAISING HOPE": Well, my organization A is
For has been working with the Center for Reproductive Rights for a while
now, helping them with advocacy and raising awareness and we knew that they
were starting this big campaign for the bill of reproductive rights and we
wanted to help them out. So, we made a few calls and got some people
involved.

O`DONNELL: Irin Carmon, given what we`ve seen Romney go through in
the last 24 hours on abortion wavering, I guess we can call it. That seems
to have brought this issue into the campaign. It had been left behind and
certainly never appeared in the first presidential debate.

IRIN CARMON, SALON.COM: We can`t underscore how important this
election is in terms of women reproduction rights. I mean, we`re talking
about a very crucial seat on the Supreme Court. We`re talking about the
faith of women abroad. We`re talking about really the future of
safeguarding access to reproductive care, including birth control.

So, it`s great that Mitt Romney put his foot in his mouth, you know,
took several positions in the span of 12 hours because we can`t forget that
this incredibly crucial and urgent.

O`DONNELL: The anti-abortion movement took a little bit of a hit
today with Congressman Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, he`s running for
election. He`s a very strong anti-abortion guy. And we now have an
audiotape of him trying to pressure his mistress into getting an abortion
and he says -- and she says -- he says, "You told me you`d have an abortion
and now we`re getting too far along without one." The woman says, "Yeah,
but, you know, and you told me that you would go with me and everything."
And he says, "Well, I said if I could." He said (INAUDIBLE), you know?

Martha, how shocked are you, how totally shocked are you, that a
Republican Southern congressman who is adamantly anti-abortion was trying
to arrange one for a woman not his wife?

PLIMPTON: Listen, I`m actually not shocked at all. The reality is
that one in three women in America will have or has had at some point in
her life an abortion. It`s a very common medical procedure that most women
or many women will go through in her life.

And the reality is that this just underscores that is a totally
personal private decision that a woman makes on her own with the help of
her partner or her doctor or her family.

And, you know, this behavior is not wild. It`s not crazy. It`s not
out there. And it`s certainly not immoral. It`s certainly part of every
woman`s life at some point.

I mean, I think the point of all of this is to make people understand
that the shame and the isolation that go along with this conversation have
no place in what is essentially a perfectly legitimate, constitutionally
protected medical procedure.

CARMON: I think Martha makes a great point about the stigma and how
that drives these discussions underground.

One more thing that I would add is this is hypocrisy, but it`s not
just that a, quote-unquote, "pro-life" representative is acting pro-choice.
It`s certainly not pro-choice to engage in reproductive coercion.

But what is happening here is a complete lack of respect for a woman`s
right to make her own decision and I think that`s really what ties this all
together, not seeing women as autonomous beings, capable of making our own
decisions, including whether to stay pregnant or not.

O`DONNELL: Let`s look at this ad from a North Carolina state Senate
race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEB BUTLER: I`m Deb Butler and I think we need to have a candid
conversation about what Tom Goolsby`s polices actually mean to North
Carolina`s women. He wouldn`t dare show you this, but this is Goolby`s
contribution to women`s health -- a medically unnecessary invasive proceed
that is now required by state law. He promised you us that his first
priority would be jobs but instead he`s following you into the doctor`s
office.

I`m Deb Butler, candidate for NC Senate, and I paid for this ad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Martha, I don`t know if you could see it there, but she
was holding up a trans vaginal probe, which I guess is the first one I`ve
seen, and it`s an awful lot bigger and weirder and stranger looking than I
expected it to be, but it`s a very effective device in that ad.

PLIMPTON: Well, the reality is that this is an instrument that`s used
fairly commonly in a lot of gynecological procedures. But the point is that
it`s always done with a woman`s consent and this is the issue here, is that
when you force women to undergo an unnecessary medical procedure without
their consent is completely wrong. I mean, it`s a violation of their
physical determination, their right to wholeness and their right to make
their own decisions.

I mean, the reality is, is that whatever side of the political
spectrum you are on, when you are imposing your beliefs, your value system
on to others, on to their bodies, you are essentially saying that the
government has a right to intrude on the most fundamental part of their
lives, which is their own physical persons this isn`t something that we
would dare --

O`DONNELL: Martha?

PLIMPTON: Yes?

O`DONNELL: Go ahead -- you look like you`re sitting in your backyard
but the light is suspiciously unnatural there. I have a feeling you might
be on the set of your show.

PLIMPTON: Well, we`ve just finished shooting and this was the
quickest and easiest for me to get to you, Lawrence. So, yes, I`m here.
We just finished work. Yes, thank you.

O`DONNELL: Direct from the set of "Raising Hope."

Martha Plimpton, thank you very much for joining me.

And Irin Carmon, thank you for joining me.

CARMON: Thanks.

PLIMPTON: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, it`s Biden versus Ryan in Kentucky. Jonathan
Capehart and Sam Stein will join me to talk about the presidential debate.

And later, whatever they don`t understand or don`t know will be taken
up by this man, John Hodgeman, who has you know, knows all.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: I`m not going to make any predictions about tomorrow
night`s vice presidential debate, but in our next segment I`m going to try
to convince Sam Stein and Jonathan Capehart to make some predictions. And
then on Friday night at 10:00 p.m., on a very special post-debate edition
of THE LAST WORD, I will play the tape of Jonathan Capehart and Sam Stein`s
prediction to see if any of them, any of them come true. So you have to be
here Friday night at 10:00 for that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman, are you ready for tomorrow night?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am. I feel good
about it.

Joe Biden has been on this stage before. He`s been on these big
stages. It`s my first time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Paul Ryan playing down expectation for tomorrow`s
first and only vice presidential debate. That`s after Mitt Romney said
this last night on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I don`t know how Paul will deal with his debate. Obviously
the vice president has done -- I don`t know -- 15 or 20 debates during his
life time, an experienced debater. This is I think Paul`s first debate. I
may be wrong. He may have done something in high school, I don`t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Earlier today in Florida, Paul Ryan answered reporters`
questions about the debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did debate prep go?

RYAN: It went well. These are like easy softballs. What are you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How about the difference between your position
on abortion and your running mate`s?

RYAN: Our position is unified. Our position is consistent and hasn`t
changed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is it?

RYAN: I`m sure you`ll find out in these debates.

No position has changed. Our position is very consistent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today in a radio interview, President Obama made a few
debate prediction of his own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The debate, I think
it`s fair to say, I was just too polite. Governor Romney put forward a
whole bunch of stuff that either involved him running away from positions
that he had taken or doubling down on things like Medicare vouchers that
are going to hurt him long term. And I think it`s fair to say that we will
see a little more activity at the next one.

Biden, I think, will be terrific at the debate this week. I`ve got
another debate on Tuesday of next week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

OBAMA: And by next week, I think a lot of the hand ringing will be
complete because we`re going to go ahead and win this things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now are Jonathan Capehart, "Washington Post"
editorial writer and an MSNBC contributor, and Sam Stein, political editor
and White House correspondent for the "Huffington Post."

Jonathan Capehart, the president is saying that in his next debate,
there`s going to be a little more activity.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": One can only hope.

O`DONNELL: What`s he thinking? What`s he got in mind?

CAPEHART: I think what he`s going to do is what he should have done
in the first debate, which is whenever Mitt Romney says something that is
patently untrue or something he`s never said before, acknowledged before,
to push back and say, oh, wait a minute, Governor Romney, on this date you
said this. On this particular issue you said this, this, and this and now
you`re saying something else. Which one is it? Who are you this week at
the debate.

O`DONNELL: Sam Stein, the playing down expectations game gets funnier
every week. But did Mitt Romney go too far? Can you, with Paul Ryan, play
down expectations too low? When you start to say and create the
impression, he`s so inexperienced, he`s never had any debates. Maybe he
had a debate in high school. Somewhere around there you`re going too far?

STEIN: He could have gone farther, I guess. If he stays upright, I
will be puzzling surprised. The expectation games are part of this. I
remember last week we were all sort of mocking Chris Christie for setting
such absurd expectations for Mitt Romney, which Mitt Romney met. So it`s
tough to figure out what works in expectation setting, what doesn`t.
Generally you should try to keep them low. I think Mitt Romney`s done
that.

But you know, for Obama and Biden, the one probably benefit of the
first debate that Obama had was that the expectations for the subsequent
debates are measurably low. I mean, Obama can just show up, throw a few
zingers out there and I think people will be generally happy on the
progressive side of the aisle.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Joe Biden talking about his debate last
week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All of the debates
are tough, but I`m looking forward to it. I really am. The thing about
Congressman Ryan is he`s been straightforward up to now about everything he
is -- all of the significant changes he wants to make. We have a
fundamentally different view on a whole range of issues. So I hope it`ll
be a good debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And then, Jonathan, there`s a report out today saying the
vice president has been studying up on Ryan`s real positions, and is
prepared to call him out on his actual positions, since there is possibly
some variation between Romney campaign and Ryan now campaign positions and
the old Paul Ryan.

CAPEHART: Right. The key word in the clip that you just showed was
straightforward. He`s been straightforward in the positions he has had.
And so if he stands up there and says that he is unabashedly pro life, well
then Biden can go back and say, I`m sorry, so what you`re saying is, you
and Governor Romney -- there`s daylight between you two on this issue,
because just yesterday he said that he was fine with Roe versus Wade. Like
which is it? Who is the top of the ticket? Who is going to be driving the
bus if you two win in November?

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what President Clinton said about Medicare
yesterday in Las Vegas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All of this
Medicare thing, they are still trying to say what a mean old person
President Obama and the Democrats are. They ripped off Medicare for 716
billion dollars. Really, we`re -- isn`t that exactly the same Medicare
savings that the president does.

It`s the only real difference between Ryan and Romney that I can
figure. And in this case I actually agree with Congressman Ryan. And he
had to scrap it and now attack Obama for doing what he did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Sam Stein, it seems to be so relaxing to be a former
president as opposed to be a president prepping for a debate. The
president did score some points on Medicare in the last debate. And I
would expect that would be an area where Joe Biden wants to go this time?

STEIN: Yeah. It`s an interesting area to choose with Paul Ryan,
because he`s had several different plans now. They`ve gone from sort of a
more conservative base to a much more moderate base. Now of course he`s
with the Mitt Romney plan. So to the extent that Biden can tar him or at
least tie him to those earlier plans, that will be a success. I envision
Paul Ryan will say, you know, that was my past; I`m with the Romney ticket
now.

But this is what is at stake here, is that Biden has to perform well
because the expectations from the first debate have been lowered and
because he needs to make up ground for Obama.

O`DONNELL: Sam Stein and Jonathan Capehart, thank you both for
joining me.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

STEIN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, John Hodgeman, who really does know everything,
will tell us what is really going to happen in tomorrow night`s debate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, another episode of the politics of
religion. No, I`m not going to tell you about another Republican religious
extremist. Tonight, I`m going to talk about another type of religious
extremist, the kind that shoots little girls in the head because those
girls want to go to school. That`s all. They just want an education.

Tomorrow is the United Nations International Day of the Girl, which
the U.N. says is about highlighting, celebrating, discussing and advancing
girl`s lives and opportunities across the globe. And tonight on the eve of
the United Nations International Day of the Girl, this girl, one of the
bravest girls in the world, a 14-year-old, is lying near death after being
shot in the head and the neck on her school bus yesterday for nothing more
than wanting an education for herself and other girls.

Religious extremists planned to assassinate her on her school bus.
The man who got on the bus and shot her and got away is, no doubt, very,
very proud of himself tonight. His spokesman certainly is. Yes, homicidal
religious extremists have spokesmen in Pakistan. Taliban/Pakistan
spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan (ph) sent a letter to the news media today
defending the assassination attempt. And his defense of the assassination
attempt contains specific citations takings from Shariah law and the Koran.

The spokesman said, "whom so ever leads a campaign against Islam and
Shariah is ordered to be killed by Shariah." Malala Yousafzai has, of
course, never lead a campaign against Islam, but religious extremists see
that differently. When she was 11-years-old, she began right writing an
anonymous blog for the BBC called "Diary of a Pakistani School Girl." When
the Taliban/Pakistan was driven out of her town, her identity was revealed
and she won an award for her bravery, Pakistan`s Youth Peace Prize.

She lead a delegation of children`s rights activists sponsored by
UNICEF that made presentations to provincial politicians. She talked about
how the simple act of going to school could be terrifying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MALALA YOUSAFZAI, PAKISTANI CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: The world, the
girls are going to school freely and there is no fear. But in Sawath, when
we go to school we are afraid of Taliban. He will kill us, even throw acid
on our face. And he can do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: When she was 12 years old -- 12 years old, she met with
Richard Holbrooke, President Obama`s special envoy to the region.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY TO THE MIDDLE EAST: How old are
you?

YOUSAFZAI: I am 12.

HOLBROOKE: 12 Years old?

YOUSAFZAI: Yeah. I would request you all -- and respected
ambassador, I would request if you can help us in our education, so please
help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: According to the "New York Times" latest report from
Pakistan, across the country, Pakistanis reacted with outrage on the attack
on Malala. But the Taliban was ready to rebut Pakistani Muslims who
insisted that Islam forbids attacking women and girls this way. The
Taliban`s letter to the press today stated, "it is clear command of Shariah
that any female who, by any means, plays a role in the war against
Mujahadeen should be killed."

The Taliban justify their every action by claiming that they are holy
warriors defending Islam. Without that status of holy warrior, they would
have no justification for anything that they do. More temperate Muslims
believe and insist that the Taliban are not holy warriors for Islam, that
the Taliban have illegitimately ceased that label for themselves, and hide
behind it defend their actions.

In the Taliban`s letter, they justify trying to kill a female because
the letter says, quote, "we can see the incident in the Koran of the
killing of a wife by a blind companion of the prophet because she spoke
insulting words about the prophet and the prophet praised this act."

The Taliban defended attempting to shoot and kill a child with another
story in the Koran. "Hazrat Khizar, while traveling with the Prophet Musa,
killed a child. Arguing about the reason for his killing, he said that the
parents of this child are pious and in future the child will cause a bad
name for them."

Religious extremists all make the same mistake. They all fail to
understand that all of the foundational holy books of major religions, all
of them, have really, really crazy, dangerous stuff in them, stuff that was
written by men, men who were not just fallible, but men who were wrong.
Some of them claimed at times to be taking dictation from God. Some of
them didn`t.

The craziest stuff in the holy books is always the homicidal stuff.
It`s always the death penalties. The Bible is full of death penalties,
death penalties for not observing the Sabbath, death penalties for
adultery, death penalties for things that not one follower of the Holy
Bible on the Earth today would ever, ever dream of trying to enforce.

There is not one follower of the Holy Bible left on Earth who believes
there should be a death penalty for not observing the Sabbath. Indeed,
followers of the Holy Bible all over the world disagree on how the Sabbath
should be observed, if at all.

But tragically, for Malala tonight, as she struggles for life in her
hospital bed, Islam has not reached the point in its worldwide maturation
curve where all Muslims can agree that there are a lot of things in the
Koran that should just be ignored. The noble religious warriors of Taliban
Pakistan have vowed today through their spokesman to try to kill Malala if
she ever gets out of that hospital bed.

Malala once had ambitions of working in that hospital she`s in
tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YOUSAFZAI: I want to get my education and I want to become a doctor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look. OK. Relax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was her proud father beside her, her brave, proud
father was the head of the school for girls that she was attending. Her
father founded that school. As Malala gained more information with
politics and met with more government officials, her ambition changed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUSAFZAI: I have a new dream. So I thought that I must be a
politician to serve this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you change this dream?

YOUSAFZAI: Because there are so many crisis in our country, so I want
to remove these crisis and to save my country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In one of Pakistan`s newspapers today, the lead editorial
was entitled, "Condition Critical." It began this way: "she would have
known that they were going to come for her one day. Yet she carried on
despite threats to herself and her family, displaying the courage and
stoicism that have marked this young life as so very special. That
knowledge became reality when the gunman who stopped her vehicle on the way
home from school verified her identity before opening fire, according to
another girl who survived the attack."

Here are the last lines of that editorial: "she seeks neither fame nor
fortune, and carried on her life as normally as she could, except that she
was not an ordinary person. She had stood against ruthless murderers who
would see every girls` school blown up. Malala Yousafzai is in critical
condition today and so Pakistan. We are infected with the cancer of
extremism. And unless it is cut out, we will slide ever further into the
bestiality that this latest atrocity exemplifies."

Every father of a daughter, every one of us, should feel Malala`s
father`s pain. Tonight, we know every mother can feel the pain of this
tragedy. Every boy and girl in the world who hears this story should know
that they are hearing a story of a crime not just against Malala, but
against humanity.

If we can have one more victory over the Taliban in Pakistan, let the
next victory be not another so-called successful drone strike. Let it be a
much more important victory over the Taliban than that. Let it be that
Malala lives. And let it be that Malala lives her dream of leading her
country into the 21st century.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": We welcome our own deranged
millionaire, John Hodgeman, to state Mr. Romney`s position more elegantly.

JOHN HODGEMAN, "THE DAILY SHOW": Truly you wouldst not disagree that
just under one half of our blessed nation`s populous are spoiled grown
children, still sucking milk from our nation`s bosom, feeble in spirit as a
dying swan. But there`s nothing to be done. There is too much savagery in
their blood line, constantly thrusting their filthy hands into your
vicinity as you are leaving the opera, pawing at the window during your
amouse bouche (ph), begging for the balloons they shall likely spend on
gambling sport and Chee-Tos.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And joining me now is John Hodgeman of "The Daily Show"
and resident expert and the author of "That Is All," which is now out in
paperback. This is all of the world`s knowledge.

HODGEMAN: That is my book of final world knowledge.

O`DONNELL: So everything that one would want to know or need to know
in the world is in here?

HODGEMAN: Absolutely.

O`DONNELL: That leads me to believe that a close reading of this book
would allow me to predict what would happen in tomorrow night`s vice
presidential debate.

HODGEMAN: A close, almost cavalistic analysis, yes. You could read
between the lines.

O`DONNELL: And so save me that reading time. I`m a very lazy reader.
What do you --

HODGEMAN: I`m glad I could come by here to brief you personally.

O`DONNELL: You know everything.

HODGEMAN: We are so far behind truth and fiction in this campaign.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

HODGEMAN: Mitt Romney`s only being rewarded for speaking, shall we
say, half truths about his positions.

O`DONNELL: And inelegantly. He said he was inelegant.

HODGEMAN: I think in the next presidential election you`re going to
see him wearing a big powdered wig and look like a pre-revolutionary French
aristocrat. So I think now the handcuffs are off. We know that Paul Ryan
likes to elaborate on his -- hyperbolize his running and climbing
experience.

O`DONNELL: Yes, he does.

HODGEMAN: I think now he can just come in and say, I just did an Iron
Man Triathlon, 1,000 push ups. I climbed every peak in the world. I
captured Big Foot yesterday. And I have a big blue ox. And I think he
would do fine. There is nothing we can say. And if you ever say it`s not
true, Jack Welch will call you a liar.

O`DONNELL: Here`s the thing, if you watch the -- that`s correct. If
you watch the media coverage of the debate --

HODGEMAN: Yes.

O`DONNELL: -- which some people did, apparently millions. They
noticed that it was more theater criticism than substance criticism. So
the media cares much more about style. So if Ryan can lie about anything,
if he says it stylistically, then he`s safe.

HODGEMAN: But you are describing my career, sir.

O`DONNELL: Yes. There you go.

HODGEMAN: Absolutely. You say something forcefully and with
authority and absolutely.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

HODGEMAN: Now Joe Biden has a different problem, you see, because
every time he talks, it sounds as though he`s standing in the kitchen at
midnight making a sandwich screaming at the television. He`s going to be
at least a little more animated than the president for sure, but he has
that sort of earthy midnight kitchen charm.

O`DONNELL: What style tune ups would you suggest to Joe Biden at this
last minute?

HODGEMAN: I think he will only be punished for calling Ryan out on
his lies. So I think he should actually bring a sandwich. I think he
should actually stop sounding like he`s drinking a beer on a summertime
porch and actually do it. I think he should bring out a patio chair and
make a ham sandwich and just sort of talk off the cuff and be the sort of
Earthy, weepy dude that we like.

O`DONNELL: Now, is "The Daily Show" going to go into just complete
sort of collapse after the election? It will kind of -- will it fall off a
cliff of comedy opportunities?

HODGEMAN: No, I think they are going to enjoy the Romney presidency
tremendously.

O`DONNELL: Is that an official prediction based on all of the world`s
knowledge?

HODGEMAN: Based on where things are going right now, perhaps. But
the nice thing about -- whatever you think about Romney, it will be an
historic presidency. He will be the first Mormon president, obviously.
And after his seven terms, or however many he chooses to serve, he will be
the first president who could portray himself in his own audio animatronic
double at the Walt Disney World`s Hall of Presidents.

O`DONNELL: I`m supposed to say that is all to end this segment. But
I have to say, that is too much. That is -- I cannot contemplate what you
just said.

HODGEMAN: When he performs as his own robot double at Disney World,
it will be the first time he feels comfortable in his own rubbery skin.

O`DONNELL: John Hodgeman, the author of "That Is All." I think we`ve
said the title almost enough -- gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

HODGEMAN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And we`re going to do a special Friday night live edition
of THE LAST WORD with full vice presidential debate analysis.

END

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