updated 10/19/2012 11:52:27 AM ET 2012-10-19T15:52:27

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

Guests: Ana Marie Cox, Karen Finney, Joy Reid

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Just a few blocks from here, President
Obama and Mitt Romney have just finished telling jokes about each other
after having had dinner together, while they were separated at the table by
only one very large cardinal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What Governor Romney
said just isn`t true.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It`s absolutely true.

OBAMA: Not true, Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: You`ll get your chance in a moment.

I had a question and the question was, how much you can cut them by?

OBAMA: You want me to answer --

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: The presidential candidates are taking their
debate hostility on the road.

ANDREA MTICHELL, NBC NEWS: Now to the campaign trail -- both
campaigns are stepping up their attempt to win.

JANSING: Focusing squarely on women.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Most voters are women.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He never did
answer the question on equal pay.

OBAMA: When these young women graduate --

MITCHELL: President Obama today in New Hampshire.

OBAMA: -- I want them to receive equal pay for equal work.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: You don`t have to play hide and
seek with the president`s tax returns.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Clinton slammed Romney`s game of hide and
seek today.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Campaigning for President Obama in Ohio.

CLINTON: You don`t have to play hide and seek, we are coming back.

MITCHELL: The Romney campaign is on defense but fighting back hard.

M. ROMNEY: This president has failed America`s women.

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: I`m not running for office and I
don`t have to say what I feel.

MITCHELL: What is going on here?

ANN ROMNEY: I would love it if you get on the couch, Joy, and you can go -
-

(CROSSTALK)

BASHIR: Mr. Romney cancelled on the ladies of "The View".

WAGNER: The Romney/Ryan ticket is still struggling to explain the
details of their plan.

STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The last word matters in these
things.

M. ROMNEY: I think I get the last word.

SCHMIDT: The president is going to have the last word.

M. ROMNEY: I think I get the last word.

CARTOON CHARTOON: You are not getting the last word just yet.

OBAMA: In 19 days, you can stand up and say, we are going to move
forward.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: With 19 days until election, tonight, President Obama
showed one reason voters consider him more likeable presidential candidate
and that, of course, is his sense of humor. President Obama and Mitt
Romney spoke at the 67th Annual Al Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New
York City, a speaking invitation Democrat and Republican nominees have been
accepting since 1960. They are not expected to get too serious and they
never do. Here is the president earlier tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This is the third time that Governor Romney and I have met
recently. As some of you may have noticed, I had a lot more energy in our
second debate.

(LAUGHTER)

I felt really well rested after the nice long nap I had in the first
debate.

(LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE)

Although it turns out millions of Americans focused in on the second
debate, who didn`t focus in on the first debate, and I happen to be one of
them.

I particularly want to apologize to Chris Matthews. Four years ago I
gave him a thrill up his leg. This time around, I gave him a stroke.

(LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE)

Of course, there are a lot of things I learned from that experience.
For example, I learned that there are worse things that can happen to you
on your anniversary than forgetting to buy a gift.

(LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was the president speaking just 30 minutes ago. Mitt
Romney spoke before the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Of course, only 19 days to go until the finish line.
Campaign full of surprises, the debates are very exciting. Just the other
night, we had a very fun debate. Candy Crowley was there and was happy to
welcome us.

But people seemed to be very as to how we prepare for the debates.
Let me tell you what I do.

First, refrain from alcohol for 65 years before the debate.

(LAUGHTER)

Second, find the biggest available strawman and then just mercilessly
attack it. Big Bird didn`t see it coming.

(LAUGHTER)

And then by the way, in the spirit of "Sesame Street", the president`s
remarks are brought to you by the letter O and the number 16 trillion.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Krystal, I noticed that Romney kept going after the
president and I got the count. It was my sense that Romney did more jokes
about the president than the other way around.

President Obama aimed exactly three jokes at his Republican opponent
and Mitt Romney aimed eight at President Obama in the room.

KRYSTAL BALL, "THE CYCLE" CO-HOST: Yes, it was a little uncomfortable
--

O`DONNELL: It was.

BALL: -- to watch, because it was a little bit over the line. And he
even brought Cardinal Dolan into the mix, making political jokes there.
And he -- it was almost like he took things into his zingers out of his
stump speech and just put them all together in a row.

I found it to be a little bit off tone. There were funny lines in
there, some funny lines, but I found it to be a bit off tone.

O`DONNELL: I agree. Jonathan, I thought that Mitt Romney started
just fine. He had a good joke about being rich are, which is a good place
to go.

BALL: Right.

O`DONNELL: That`s the way to make fun of Mitt Romney. And George W.
Bush did a joke like that when he spoke there.

But then as he kept aiming them at the president, he -- it was
becoming increasingly political, and it was a little -- it was just off.
It was discomforting to watch.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. It was a notch below a
campaign speech, one. Two, I got the sense that I was watching a roast of
President Obama, rather than a speech where the person speaking is supposed
to make jokes about himself. And it`s exactly what we saw the president do
in his speech, even in the clip you showed, which isn`t the entirety of the
president`s speech.

But there, you got a sense of what the president was doing. He was
the main focus of his jokes. He was also the main focus of Mitt Romney`s
jokes and as Krystal tweeted during Romney`s speech, this is starting to
make me feel uncomfortable. And I retweeted it saying, I thought it was
just me.

And my Twitter feed blew with people saying, me too.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: And I was ready to go with him because I`ve seen
Republicans do great in that room.

BALL: Sure.

O`DONNELL: Especially George W. Bush, who really surprised me.

BALL: McCain was funny.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And let`s take a look at this joke about you didn`t
build that, that Mitt Romney throws at the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

ROMNEY: Special admiration for the apostle Saint Peter to whom it is
said, "Upon this rock, I will build my church." The story is all the more
inspiring when you consider that he had skeptics and scoffers at that time
who were heard to say, if you got a church, you didn`t build that.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: As some of you know I went to school here in New York. I had
a wonderful experience here.

(APPLAUSE)

I used to love walking through Central Park, loved to go to old Yankee
Stadium, the house that Ruth build -- although he really did not build
that. I hope everybody is aware of that.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

O`DONNELL: OK, text book example, Jonathan. A sense of humor is when
you can make jokes about yourself. You really need a sense of humor for
that.

CAPEHART: Right. And you didn`t see -- I mean, Mitt -- that zinger,
that line is out of his campaign speech. Heck, that`s what the Republican
convention was all about, you didn`t build that.

Meanwhile, the president takes that criticism of himself and a line
that people have taken out of context, and he turns it on himself to great
effect I thought.

O`DONNELL: And, you know, Chris Matthews was not the only huge TV
star who was mentioned by President Obama in his comments. He was very
proud to announce and endorsement he got from another TV star. Let`s hear
that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: And we are getting to that time when folks are making up their
minds. Just the other day, Honey Boo Boo endorsed me. So that was a big
relief.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Ultimately, though, tonight is not about the disagreements
Governor Romney and I may have. It is what we have in common, beginning
with our unusual names. Actually Mitt is his middle name. I wish I could
use my middle name.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALL: I thought that was one of his great lines.

O`DONNELL: Could Romney ever make a joke about his first name being
Willard? Could he ever do that? I don`t think so.

BALL: He seems to have a hard time making any jokes about himself.

And the thing that the president does that even funnier than the way
that he delivers the joke is he pauses for a moment and he does that little
laugh to himself. He just really sells it.

O`DONNELL: He enjoys it.

Let`s watch more of the good joke teller up there. Let`s listen to
President Obama talking about Vice President Biden and Congressman Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It`s been four years since I was last at the Al Smith Dinner.
And I have to admit that things have changed since them. I have heard some
people say, Barack, you are not as young as you used to be. Where is that
golden smile? Where is that pep in your step?

And I say, settle down, Joe, I`m trying to run a cabinet meeting here.

Sometimes it feels that this race has dragged on forever. But Paul
Ryan assured that we have only been running for two hours and 50-something
minutes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was only one of his three jokes aimed at the
Republican ticket.

BALL: Well, it`s funny that Joe Biden joke, he did a version of that
last time around, which shows you as much as things change, they stay the
same. He was joking about how you know, it`s tough out there. I`m
hearing, Obama on the trail, you are not qualified to be the president. I
really wish that Joe Biden wouldn`t have said that.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to the president on the next debate that they
have on the schedule.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: In Monday`s debate is different because the topic is foreign
policy. Spoiler alert: We got bin Laden.

(LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: It is all there, Jonathan. He is making fun of himself
and about how often he mentions that, and of course, he`s going to mention
in the debate.

CAPEHART: Right. He`s -- that is the second time he did something
where a campaign message gets out there. Osama bin Laden is dead.
Applause.

Before that, he talked about -- he just said, you know, the
unemployment rate is 7.8 percent that`s all I got to say. I just want to
put that out there.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: His line was I don`t have a joke for that, which turned
out to be a great joke. That was a beautifully written joke.

CAPEHART: Right.

I mean, so -- I mean, who ever helped the president come up with his
material deserves an A plus.

I think the Romney need to understand the difference between a roast
and the Al Smith Dinner.

O`DONNELL: Normally, the candidates for president, they go outside to
get professional comedy writing up on these things. But I got to say, the
Obama speech writers are the most talented comic speech writers that have
ever had desks in the White House. So, I`m not sure how much they had to
get from the outside.

Krystal Ball and Jonathan Capehart, thank you both for joining me
tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the war over the women`s vote continues. Ana
Marie Cox and Karen Finney will join me on that.

And despite losing in the Supreme Court, Ohio is still trying last
minute voter suppression tricks.

And in the rewrite tonight: Mitt Romney`s oldest son says he wants to
take a swing at President Obama for calling his father a liar. Well,
President Obama has never actually called Mitt Romney a liar. But I have.
Mitt Romney`s son and me in tonight`s rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We have new swing state polls to report tonight.

And in the rewrite tonight, Mitt Romney has set a perfect example that
all of his sons have followed, refusing to join the military, even though
they`ve never found a war that they didn`t support. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: With 19 days to go in the election, President Obama is
holding to a lead in two key battleground states, with the presidential
debates having had apparently no effect on those leads.

A new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll in Iowa just out this
evening shows President Obama with an 8-point lead, 51 percent to 43
percent. That is virtually unchanged from last month when President Obama
led by eight points, 50 percent to 42 percent.

And in Wisconsin, the president leads by six points, 51 percent to 45
percent in Paul Ryan`s home state.

Last month, before the presidential debates began, the president led
by five points in Wisconsin, 50 to 45.

Bill Clinton had something to say about the debates in another
battleground state today, where the president leads, Ohio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Listen very carefully to the
vice presidential debate and to the second debate. And Mr. Romney says I`m
going to do all this. I`m going to just cut taxes for the middle class.
I`m not interested in rich people. They will pay the same percentage they
pay now.

He thinks we are dumb. If you cut everyone else`s taxes and people in
my income group pay the same percentage, it means we got a tax cut, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Bruce Springsteen took the stage after Bill Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, MUSICIAN: The future is rarely a tide rushing in.
It`s often a slow march inch by inch, day after long day, and I believe we
are in the midst of those long days right now. And I`m here because I
believe President Obama feels those days in his bones for all 100 percent
of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Vice President Biden took the campaign to Nevada today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As the president said
the day after the debate, Romney`s plans were awful sketchy. Well, I --
folks, I don`t think they were just sketchy. I think they were etch-a-
sketchy, etch-a-sketchy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan was in Florida today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If the president
can`t fix Washington from the inside, if the middle class has been buried
for the last four years and the economy is not fixed, then it`s time we
change presidents and elect Mitt Romney the next president of the United
States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, Nate Silver of "The New York Times"
"FiveThirtyEight" blog forecast that on November 6th, President Obama will
win 287 Electoral College votes, and Mitt Romney will 250 Electoral College
votes.

Joining me now is MSNBC`s Ari Melber and Eugene Robinson of "The
Washington Post" and MSNBC.

Ari, the national polls are different on who has what lead by how
much. But it`s the battleground states that matter. That lead in Iowa is
particularly impressive, I think.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. There`s a big lead in Iowa, and
there`s a sizable lead in Ohio and I`m reminded a little bit of what you
nailed in your rewrite the other night, which is why should these --

O`DONNELL: Tell me. I don`t remember. I really don`t.

MELBER: What should these uninformed, swing voters and undecided
voters, why should they have so much power? And there is a funny thing
happening. In states like Iowa, it`s actually moving from a persuasion
model to a mobilization model. Those are the only two ways you win.

O`DONNELL: Ah, OK.

MELBER: And what we are seeing now is, and Bruce Springsteen and the
new Jay-Z video that the campaign put out, we are seeing mobilization
messages to the base. What they say on the ground is yard signs "don`t
vote," you got to get people excited. We are seeing a really bullish
attitude I think from the Obama campaign, that they have a better field
program. And in some of these states, they don`t need to focus as much on
persuading, which isn`t to say they are giving up. Obviously, he did well
at the debate. But they are kicking into a GOTV mode now.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at something put out today by the Jewish
Council for Education and Research, and American Bridge 21st Century, a new
video with Sarah Silverman, which is about getting out the vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SILVERMAN, COMEDIAN: In college, Mitt Romney was so poor at
Harvard he had to sell stocks to get by. I mean, did you have to sell
stocks to get by in college, Lizz?

LIZZ WINSTEAD, AUTHOR, "LIZZ FREE OR DIE": No, I sold plasma in
college.

SILVERMAN: Liz, you should have borrowed from your parents or from
the bank. Mitt says banks are nice people.

WINSTEAD: Sarah, this whole thing is about Mitt says corporations are
people.

SILVERMAN: No, no, and banks. Watch.

ROMNEY: Now, the banks aren`t bad people. They`re just overwhelmed
right now. They are overwhelmed with a lot of things. One is a lot of
homes coming in that are in foreclosure.

SILVERMAN: See, people forget that banks don`t just toss families out
of their homes. They also have to haul those cribs and swing sets to the
dump, it`s a lot.

WINSTEAD: Yes, I mean, that can be overwhelming.

SILVERMAN: Yes, (EXPLETIVE DELETED) with their weekend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Sarah Silverman and the "Daily Show" creator Lizz
Winstead.

Gene Robinson, how much stock did you have to cash in when you were in
college to -- I can`t even finish the joke.

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: I know, I would have to say either
all of it or none of it.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

ROBINSON: Right.

O`DONNELL: All you know is you have no stock left when you finish
college, right?

ROBINSON: Exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: They are obviously -- that`s targeted obviously for
college turnout and getting that student vote out there. And as Ari says,
we are getting down to the point now where this is going to be all about
turnout.

ROBINSON: Right. You know, you see -- you look at all these polls
and, of course, different pollsters do the likely voter screens. I mean,
this is about creating likely voters. If you can make your voters likely
to go to the polls, in fact, if you can actually get them there in greater
numbers than the other guy and you win.

And the Obama campaign has worked assiduously on this for years now.
They have been working on this get out the vote effort. And it`s time for
them to gear it up.

O`DONNELL: At the same time, Ari, there will be discouragement that
emerged for both sides, in terms of turnout, a bad performance in a debate
or a bad poll numbers for one side or the other. How does a campaign
counter some of these externalities that they cannot control that may
depress some of that turnout? That`s before we even get to voter
suppression, which we`re going to talk about later in the show.

MELBER: Right. One thing the Obama campaign has that we don`t talk
about that much because we don`t see it day to day other than for
fundraising is they have amazing ratings. If the Obama campaign e-mail
list was a television channel, it would have more viewers than all three
cable network channels combined, over 13 million from the last campaign.
And from the aides I talk to, they say it`s gotten larger and the numbers
we have on small dollar donation show that.

Everyone thinks about Michelle saying, "Hey, Lawrence, can you give
five more dollars," and we`ve been hearing a lot of that. And again, what
we are going to see in the closing two weeks is a lot more direct messaging
through those e-mails and keeping people motivated.

O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, what is the campaign have to do in terms
of bucking up not only their supporters but their financial supporters and
everybody when they start to see some of these national polls not going
their way?

ROBINSON: Well, you know, the surrogates hit the air waves and they
get out the counter message and they hit you with the e-mails an text
messages, especially for -- which is the way to communicate with younger
voters, that are designed essentially to buck people up and to create the
sort of excitement and they are also working the neighborhoods. I mean,
there are Obama people who come around neighborhoods in northern Virginia,
in the Norfolk are, you know, Virginia being a big swing state every
weekend. So, there are a lot of different ways to do this and you got to
use all those methods.

O`DONNELL: And in the immortal words of Rob Reiner who said this here
the other night, they`re not running for president of the United States.
They`re running for president of Ohio. So, you just have to keep your eye
on Ohio.

Ari Melber and Eugene Robinson, thank you both for joining me tonight.

ROBINSON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up: Ohio`s secretary of state, after getting shot
down in the United States Supreme Court, is now trying to get around that
court`s ruling and still has some shenanigans scheduled for the early
voting turnout in Ohio.

And in the rewrite tonight, it turns out that the Romney family
considers national service and the only national service worth doing to be
president of the United States, nothing less -- nothing less will do for
members of the Romney family. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The man who is afraid to do "The View" sent his wife Ann
Romney to do "The View" alone today where Whoopi Goldberg -- thank you,
Whoopi -- forced Mrs. Romney to defend her son`s, all of her sons, refusal
to participate in the wars that they support.

The Romney men are in tonight`s rewrite with a very special word for
Taggart Romney and his desire to punch the president of the United States.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m here today because I`m concerned about women`s
rights

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t have to tell you the dangers to Roe versus
Wade under our opponents` policies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Yes, men take women`s issues sir seriously too. In the
Spotlight tonight the war over women and the women`s votes. Sharp tongued
is how Mitt Romney described the women of "The View" on the secret 47
percent fund raising tape. This weekend, Romney canceled his appearance on
"The View" and left it to his wife Ann to defend his flip flopping record
on abortion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: Mitt Romney has always been a pro-
life person. He governed when he ran as pro-choice. But when a decision
came across --

BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW": Explain that to me.

A. ROMNEY: When a decision came across his desk to use embryos for
experimentation --

WALTERS: That`s stem cell research.

A. ROMNEY: He could not have that on his conscience creating human
life for experimentation. That`s when he came out with an editorial saying
he was pro-life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Both the Romney and Obama campaigns are airing new ads now
on abortion rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, those adds saying Mitt Romney would
ban all abortions and contraception seemed a bit extreme. So I looked into
it. It turns out Romney doesn`t oppose contraception at all. In fact, he
thinks abortion should be an option in cases of rape, incest or to save a
mother`s life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seeing this from Mitt Romney, then take a look
at this.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: If Roe v Wade was overturned, Congress
passed a federal ban on all abortions and it came to your desk, would you
sign it, yes or no?

ROMNEY: Let me say it. I would be delighted to sign that bill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Banning all abortions?

ROMNEY: I`d be delighted to sign that bill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trying to mislead us, that is wrong. But ban
all abortions, only if you vote for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Ana Marie Cox and Karen Finney. Ana
Marie, this thing that Ann Romney said, when I heard it, I didn`t quite get
it. I`ve heard it again. I don`t get it. Mitt has always been a pro-life
person. He governed when he ran as a pro-choice -- he governed when he ran
as pro-choice. But when a decision came across -- what did she say?

ANA MARIE COX, "THE GUARDIAN": I think she said you can`t trust him.

O`DONNELL: OK, she could have made that so much shorter. She could
have made it so much shorter. I could have understood that.

COX: What he said was he has always believed one thing, but he
campaigned another way until it became convenient for him to become -- to
campaign yet a different way. Which actually, as we can sort of see in
this one clip, he has changed his mind a few times on abortion, on about
where life begins, about what he is for and what he`s against.

I have to say of those two ads, I am biased, but the Obama one seems
more effective to me because it uses the actual tape of Mitt Romney
actually saying something. And it is something that is incredibly
important. We can joke about the binder full of women and that has gone
viral and that`s hilarious. But the most important piece of news today in
the war on women was the Gallup Poll that came out and swing state poll
showing that women believe that reproductive rights is the most important
issue facing women in this election.

(CROSS TALK)

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at it right now. This is female
registered voters taken before Tuesday night`s debate, where this issue
became even clearer. And the most important issue in this election, 39
percent said abortion. The next one down is jobs, whatever everyone else
thinks is the most important issue, jobs, 19 percent, 20 percent lower; 18
percent health care is right behind it. And that is obviously associated
with jobs. Sixteen percent the economy, that`s also associated with jobs.

So, Karen Finney, I have heard a lot of talk about no, the number one
issue for women is the economy, which I could believe if I never looked at
that poll.

KAREN FINNEY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. And the over thing on
that poll is that of those women, they favor President Obama over Mitt
Romney. Shock, right? The other issue in that poll -- that poll also
showed that access to contraception, another huge issue for women. And for
those women for whom that is a top issue, they favor Obama.

That is why clearly the Romney campaign saw data like this in their
internal polls a couple weeks ago, which is why they have been trying to
walk back from all of his extremist positions. Literally, as you guys were
saying, Ann Romney basically told you straight out, he is this, but he
campaigned that way.

That`s really all you need to know, right, that he will campaign and
say whatever he needs to say.

On the binders, here is why I think it hit such a nerve with women.
It is outrageous that he would believe that that was a legitimate answer to
that woman`s question, which he didn`t actually answer, to then sort of
slide and say, you know, it is about binders of women, without actually
having the courage to say, I don`t support Lilly Ledbetter; I wouldn`t have
signed it.

He didn`t have the guts to say that. Instead, they are using all
kinds of obfuscating language to try to trick women into believing that he
is not the extremist that he is. And they are economic issues for women
and for their families.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to the man who would be one of the many who
would keep a President Romney in line on the issue of abortion. Let`s
listen to what Rush Limbaugh said today about what he says Democrats really
think about women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: All they think you do is have
sex, want birth control pills and want an abortion afterwards. And they`re
going to make sure that whatever you want in that regard, you get. And
then somebody comes along and asks for resumes of qualified women for
meaningful jobs and they will make fun of that.

And they`ll try to make you women think that they know what`s really
important to you: birth control pills and abortion; that is all you care
about. You are not even people to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ana Marie, a President Romney concerned with reelection
would never dare cross that man.

COX: I know. I guess he has -- he cares more about what Rush
Limbaugh thinks than what women think, actually. I guess that`s what I`ve
gotten from this so far.

O`DONNELL: Ana Marie Cox and Karen Finney, thank you both for joining
me tonight.

Coming up, early voting is upheld in Ohio. And the result, the
Republican secretary of state is trying to put new limits on early voting.
They haven`t given up on voter suppression in Ohio. Joy Reid will join me
on that one.

And in the Rewrite, the Romney men are all combat cowards and have all
refused to serve in the military, every one of them. But one of them --
one of them wants to throw a punch at the commander in chief. The Romney
men are all in the Rewrite tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The Romney men have never met an American war that they
didn`t support. But they do not support Romney men going to war. None of
them have ever considered joining the military.

But one of them got very combative today with the president of the
United States. I have a few words for the Romney man who jokes about
throwing a punch at the president. And that is next in the Rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, another episode of Romney men, that
lovable clan of Republican war mongers who never met a war they didn`t
like, but never dreamed of serving in the military themselves.

Willard Romney`s fear of participating in war is so extreme, and his
definition of war so broad that he is even afraid of going on "The View".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: "The View" is fine. Although "The View" is high risk because
of the five women on it, only one is conservative and four are sharp
tongued and not conservative, Whoopi Goldberg particularly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney chicken hawked out of going on "The View"
today and sent his wife in his place. And thanks to Whoopi Goldberg, the
legend of Romney men came up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, "THE VIEW": As First Lady, if you get the job, it is
going to entail a lot of those things. And one of those things is going to
be talking to the mothers whose children are coming home in bags from wars.
I believe your religion doesn`t allow you to go fight?

A. ROMNEY: No, that is not collect.

GOLDBERG: OK, so --

A. ROMNEY: We have many, many members of our faith that are serving
in the armed services?

GOLDBERG: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And the funny part of that is what exactly? What does Ann
Romney find funny about serving in the armed services? Nothing. That is
what she and her husband do when they are very, very nervous in public,
when they really don`t like where the conversation is going. You get that
nervous Romney laugh.

Well let`s see where the conversation went.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOLDBERG: Well, I say that because when I read about your husband,
what I had read -- and maybe you can correct us -- is that the reason that
he didn`t serve in Vietnam was because it was against the religion. That`s
what I read. I`m sorry.

A. ROMNEY: No, that is not correct. He was on -- he was serving his
mission. And my five sons have also served missions. They`ve -- none
served in the military. But I do have one son that feels that he is giving
back to his country in a significant way, where he is now a doctor and he
is taking care of veterans. We find different ways observing.

And my five boys and my husband did serve missions, did not serve in
the military.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: OK, so they didn`t serve in the military, but they did
serve missions. What kind of missions? CIA missions? Ann Romney just
used the phrase served missions three times without ever saying what the
missions were. Why didn`t she just say religious missions or Mormon
missions, which is what they were?

When Romney men reach military age, they bravely go out into the world
and try to convert people to Mormonism. That is what Mitt Romney was doing
when this picture was taken on a beach in France, while hundreds of
thousands of young American men his age were being shot at in Vietnam.

Mitt and Ann`s five sons did not grow up in peacetime. Each of them
reached military age during wartime. And each of them, like their father
before them, refused to even consider serving in the wars of their era that
they support.

They have supported those wars, not serving in wars. You don`t
support serving in wars if you`re a Romney man. Not serving in a war that
you don`t support, that is a perfectly honorable choice. Millions of
Americans have made that choice. During Vietnam, Mitt Romney`s war, men
were forced to serve through the draft whether they supported the war or
not. A draft that Mitt Romney did, in fact, evade by using a special draft
deferment allowed only to Mormon men.

Whoopi Goldberg was closer to the truth than Ann Romney acknowledged.
Ann Romney is right that serving in the military is not against the Romney
family religion. But the complete truth includes the fact that young
Mormon men were allowed to use a special deferment that no one else was
allowed to use, to avoid being killed in Vietnam and to avoid becoming one
of the 58,000 Americans killed in Vietnam.

But this is important. Not all Mormon men made Mitt Romney`s choice.
Not all of them hid behind the special deferment that they were offered.
Some Mormon men did their missionary service for their church and served in
Vietnam. Brave Mormon men were killed in Vietnam, men Mitt Romney`s age,
while Mitt Romney was sitting out the war in France.

Serving in war is not against the Romney family religion, but it is
against the Romney family tradition of safely and always pursuing self
interest. Mitt Romney`s father, George Romney, did not serve in the war of
his era, World War II. You might have heard of that one. And George
Romney`s father never considered joining the American military because he
spent much of his early life in Mexico, where the Romney family was hiding
out from the enforcement of American laws against polygamy.

Mitt Romney`s great grandfather brought the family to Mexico, where he
was able to keep his five wives. Needless to say, Mile Park Romney, who
hated the laws of the United States so much that he fled the country, never
considered joining the military of a country whose laws he found so
personally oppressive.

Since Romney men have no idea what the weight of military service
actually feels like, Mitt Romney was able to actually say this the first
time he ran for president when he was asked how many of your five sons are
currently serving in the military?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is
helping is get me elected, because they think I would be a great president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The Romney men`s refusal to serve in the military while
championing every war that comes along and urging us into another one in
Iran right now, that continues to intrigue inquiring reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of you served your church going on missions.
Did you ever consider serving your country by putting on a uniform, by
serving in the military?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we can look at the guys who serve the
military, men and women, and just say that is the biggest sacrifice you can
make for your country. It is nothing any of us did, but we look at those
guys with a tremendous amount of respect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret you never served?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I look at my family right now, and I -- I`m in
residency and I spend a lot of my time at the VA hospital. I get to work
with vets who have made great sacrifices for this country. And I look at
their lives. And hopefully I get to serve them a little bit too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Notice that Romney men did not care answer the question
that was asked. Did you ever consider serving your country by putting on a
uniform? Do you regret not serving. They didn`t answer that question.
But I can answer it for them.

And the Romney men answer is, are you kidding me? We are Romney men.
We are afraid of serving in the military, everyone of us. We always have
been. And that is even before we found out how much it pays. The
flawlessly consistent inter-generational combat cowardice of Romney men
makes today`s threat of physical violence from a Romney man all the more
surprising.

Mitt Romney`s oldest son, Taggart Romney, was the guest of honor on a
North Carolina radio show yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m going to ask something I know a lot of people
want to know, or at least I do. What is it like for you to hear the
president of the United States call your dad a liar? How do you react to
that?

TAGGERT ROMNEY, SON OF MITT ROMNEY: Jump out of your sheet and you
want to rush down the debate stage and take a swing at him. But you know
you can`t do that because -- well first, because there is a lot of Secret
Service between you and him, but also because this is the nature of the
process, that they`re going to try to do everything they can do to try to
make my dad into someone he`s not.

We signed up for it. We got to kind of sit there and take our punches
and then send them right back the other way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: OK, Taggart, let`s have a little talk, just you and me,
you. When I hear you talk about taking a swing and taking punches, why do
I get the feeling that you have never actually taken a punch or thrown a
punch? I didn`t have that luxury in the part of Boston that I grew up in.
But in your rich suburban Boston life, with your father filling 100 million
dollar trust fund for you, I don`t know. I just get the feeling that
things were kind of different for you.

Now, I know you`ve got a lot -- a lot to be pissed off at these days,
starting with the name Taggart, which you have every right to be wicked
pissed off at for every day of the 42 years of your life. So let me try to
help you deal with all this aggression you are feeling right now. You are
mad at President Obama for calling your father a liar?

Let`s get something straight. He didn`t call your father a liar. I
did. The president just said that what your father said isn`t true. I
have been saying all year that your father is a liar. I`ve repeatedly said
that your father lies, and is trying to lie his way into the White House.

So you want to take a swing at someone for calling your old man a
liar? Take a swing at me. Come on. Come on. And don`t worry, there
won`t be any Secret Service involved. Just us. And I`ll make it easy for
you. I`ll come to you anytime, anywhere.

Go ahead, Taggart, take your best shot.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The Obama re-election campaign won a huge victory this
week when the United States Supreme Court ruled against Republican efforts
to end early voting in Ohio for the three days prior to the election. In
2008, more than 100,000 voters in Ohio cast their ballots during those
three days. Almost immediately after the Supreme Court ruled that early
voting must continue, Ohio`s Republican secretary of state, John Husted,
issued a directive ordering polling places to open but with much more
limited hours.

On Saturday, November 3rd, the polls will open at 8:00 am and be
forced to close at 2:00 pm. On Sunday November 4th, the polls will be open
from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. On Monday, November 5th, the day before election
day, the polls will open at 8:00 am and be forced to close at 2:00 pm.

Joy Reid, just when you think you`ve got them, the Supreme Court`s got
them, this.

JOY REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, John Husted, this is
basically an in your face to the Supreme Court, saying OK, you can make me
keep them open, but I`m going to cut those hours by eight hours versus
2008. Let me tell you what`s so insidious about this. Early voting
appeals to younger voters, African-American voters, people who have less
time in the workplace so they can`t get the day off. 8:00 to 2:00 pm? Who
can vote from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm on a weekday?

Why is this so important. Because Lawrence, in states like Florida
and Ohio, where do you vote when you vote early? Not in your precinct.
You go to the elections office. It`s easier for people. They don`t have
to know the their precinct. So they know that appeals to Democrats,
younger, minorities.

It is sort of an end around the Supreme Court. And it`s pretty nasty.
And I think it has to be classed as voter suppression.

O`DONNELL: And it`s clearly targeted. These are all Republicans
trying to stop a Democratic vote. What should the Democratic turnout
machine do in reaction to this in Ohio?

REID: I can tell you what they`re going to do.

(CROSS TALK)

REID: I`ve spoken to Democrats about this. I`ve spoken to Obama
campaign people. They plan to flood those polls in the line and dare John
Husted to shut down those polls with people standing in line. In 2008, the
hours -- there were two and a half hour long lines of people waiting to
vote, and they had eight more hours. And they understand that 145,000 some
odd votes were cast in those last three days.

They are worried because Ohio is a must win for Mitt Romney. They
want to shut that down as much as possible. But I can tell you, Democrats
are ready for it. They plan to get people into those lines and give them
their opportunity to vote.

O`DONNELL: It was Ohio that gave us a second George W. Bush term, a
flip of 60,000 votes, as we keep saying, would have changed it all.

REID: Absolutely. And Ken Blackwell, the previous secretary of
state, had the same reputation for just naked partisanship. On top of
that, you`ve had 10 state senators write to Husted, because there are these
groups called True the Vote. They are these Tea Party affiliated, barely
separated from the Republican party groups that also want to send poll
watchers. They want to send a million poll watchers out, take pictures of
you while you vote, to harass people while they vote.

This is straight voter suppression and it has to be stopped. The
Democrats are ready for it.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, THE LAST WORD`s voter suppression senior
correspondent, gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thanks, Joy.

"THE ED SHOW" is up next.

END

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