updated 11/16/2012 11:20:50 AM ET 2012-11-16T16:20:50

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
November 15, 2012

Guests: David Frum, Karen Finney, Krystal Ball, Michael Cusick


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Tonight, there is just one more thing the
Republican Party needs Mitt Romney to do -- just one little thing. They
need him to shut the -- heck up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: So much for putting the election behind it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s talk about Mitt Romney said on that
conference call.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Romney was recorded telling donors --

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: The reason he loss is because --

RICHARD LUI, MSNBC ANCHOR: President Obama handed out big gifts.

HALL: To gain the support of key voting groups.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He showed his true colors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is not a winning strategy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don`t get it.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s not elegantly
stated, let me put it that way. I`m speaking off-the-cuff.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: I think that`s absolutely wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A real flaw in his character I think.

JINDAL: I don`t think that represents where we are as a party.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I don`t agree with the
comments.

ROMNEY: It`s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans got what they deserved, if that`s the
approach.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He needs to stop talking.

AYOTTE: The campaign is over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to move on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look forward --

AYOTTE: The voters have spoken.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The majority of voters
agreed with me.

LUI: President Obama seems ready for a fight.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Benghazi showdown.

LUI: Over what happened in Libya.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president was calling (ph) for a fight.

OBAMA: Let me say specifically about Susan Rice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is right to back his people.

OBAMA: She has done exemplary work.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We will do whatever is necessary to
block the nomination.

OBAMA: If Senator McCain --

MCCAIN: We will do whatever is necessary.

OBAMA: And Senator Graham --

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don`t think she deserves
to be promoted.

OBAMA: Want to go after somebody, they should go after me.

MCCAIN: The president the United States is commander-in-chief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s more 2008 than 2012.

MCCAIN: Does not exercise those responsibilities --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This goes back to a grudge.

LUI: Is there a little bit of that here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since their 2008 presidential election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This seems to be getting very political.

WAGNER: McCain did not attend his classified brief on Benghazi
yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa.

HALL: At the same time, he was holding a news conference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is not a winning strategy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This seems to be getting very political.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: What`s behind all this anger?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is politics.

MATTHEWS: Is it political or personal?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney doesn`t get it. He just doesn`t get it. He
doesn`t get that his job now, the job Republicans want him to do after
losing a presidential election that they believe they absolutely could have
won the job that Republicans need Mitt Romney to do is help them forget the
words Mitt and Romney. He`s failing at this new job just as miserably as
he failed at the job of Republican nominee for president.

He finds himself rebuked today by prominent Republicans who were
cheering on his campaign just days ago all because Mitt Romney has once
again been caught on tape saying what he really thinks about the American
people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

ROMNEY: It`s a proven political strategy which is give a bunch of
money from the government to a group and, guess what? They`ll vote for
you.

JINDAL: Absolutely rejects that notion, that description. I think
that`s absolutely wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

O`DONNELL: OK. Here is the difference between Bobby Jindal and Mitt
Romney, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will be speaking at the next
Republican National Convention in one capacity or another, and Mitt Romney
will never be invited to a Republican convention again for the rest of his
life.

Here is what Jindal added today about what Mitt Romney got caught
saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

JINDAL: This is completely unhelpful. This is not where the
Republican Party needs to go. Look, if you want voters to like you, the
first thing you got to do is to like them first. And it`s certainly not
helpful to tell voters that you think their votes were bought.

You need to congratulate the president on his win. It was an
impressive win. As a party, we need to look forward.

ROMNEY: The giving away free stuff is a hard thing to compete with.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

O`DONNELL: Senator Marco Rubio told "Politico", quote, "I don`t want
to rebut him point by point. I would just say to you, I don`t believe that
we have millions and millions of people in this country that don`t want to
work."

Republican New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte said this about the
super rich loser who now has no reason to ever return to his summer house
in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AYOTTE: I don`t agree with the comments. And my view is the campaign
is over. And the voters have spoken and they want us to work together to
solve our problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, the man, kind of, should have known somebody
was going to press record, somebody on that phone call. He`s done a -- it
turns out he`s on a couple of these fundraising phone calls and some of
these come from different -- the two different calls. But here is a guy
whose campaign was pretty much stopped in his tracks by that 47 percent
tape and he gets on the phone and thinks --

(CROSSTALK)

WAGNER: Keeps saying it.

O`DONNELL: -- every word of it?

WAGNER: Well, there are two things to say. Well, there`s actually 15
or 27 things to say.

But one of things we can say is Mitt Romney always believed what he
said about the 47 percent. And guess what? A lot of Republicans do too.

I mean, they really believe in this sort of dichotomy of the makers
and the takers. And I actually have a contrary theory to float out there,
which is that Mitt Romney is doing a great service to the Republican Party
right now. He is, in the words of Rush Limbaugh, acting the part of as a
rich column --

O`DONNELL: I don`t follow this. Go ahead.

WAGNER: -- he is part of a rich column for Bobby Jindal and Marco
Rubio and the rest of the Republican Party that is trying to emerge from
the ash pit post November 6th, and pretend that they are a party that is
progressive in their views and that welcomes people of color, or that has
better ideas about how to move the country forward without actually having
to do anything substantive.

So, now, they can run all over Mitt Romney putting tire treads on his
legacy and instead of actually coming forth and saying, OK, this is what we
were going to change the party. This is what we are going to do to make
our party better and to substantively our policy positions on any real.

O`DONNELL: So all you have to do now, Chris, this week anyway, is
say, I don`t agree with Mitt Romney and you are suddenly a reasonable
Republican.

CHRIS HAYES, "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES" HOST: Right. No, I think there`s
something --

O`DONNELL: That`s great.

(CROSSTALK)

WAGNER: I don`t think it`s intentional.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

HAYES: But he is doing them that favor, right? Because Bobby Jindal
had a great day today. Bobby Jindal had a great new cycle.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

HAYES: And what did Bobby Jindal do? Nothing. Squat. Bobby Jindal
did nothing for the, you know, 12 million people in this country who are
here without legal status. You know, he did nothing for all the poor
people who are going to be added to Medicaid expansion for the Affordable
Care Act. But he had a great news cycle for all the reason you specified.

But we should also be clear -- this is a very widely held view on the
right, among the Republican Party. I think the people on the upper
echelons of the Romney campaign, a lot of Republicans, have told themselves
this story about their defeat. I don`t think it`s some fringe view. I
think this is incredibly common and you saw this view starting way back
among the Tea Party folks and the "RedState" posting I am, whatever, the 53
percent, right? That I`m the people that are in the makers and not the
takers.

This is -- this has really become a central part of the rhetoric that
the right has about America.

WAGNER: And it`s worth mentioning, nobody said, hey, you know what?
Mitt Romney actually, 44 percent of people who are uninsured are white.
It`s not about brown people getting handouts from the government.

O`DONNELL: And the notion that Romney can explain away the lost this
way, is also saying, at the same time he`s saying -- we can`t ever win I
guess. Because, I mean, wouldn`t you have to take away --

WAGNER: He has -- Lawrence, he has blamed, he has blamed the number
of debates that were had. He has blamed the media. He has blamed the
Commission on Presentational Debates. He has blamed Hispanics, he has
blamed women, he has blamed young voters.

He has not blamed the guy that sells rotisserie chicken on the corner
of Sixth Avenue and 50th Street, but it is only a matter of time.

O`DONNELL: He had no hopes for New York. He really wasn`t hoping to
win New York.

HAYES: That`s a really good point, right? If this were the case, if
the equilibrium in democratic elections and that means small D democratic
elections in America were that the party that handed out the most favors or
gave away the most free stuff were the winner, and the Democrats were that
party, then the Democrats would just always win all elections. And that
clearly is not the case, right?

The American electorate -- and in fact, there is a version or left
class analysis that wishes there is something like the case, right? That
people just voted their class interest and clearly we would get -- we`d run
up the table with 80 percent of the voters because those are getting
screwed and the top 20 percent are screwing them, right?

But that`s not the way American politics works. And anyone -- I
thought that the most interesting thing about the 47 percent tape and this,
is that it shows a basic misunderstanding of the most rudimentary elements
of American politics, which are remarkably Byzantine and complicated in the
various ways that people identify themselves in the political sphere.

And that is a maddening fact about American voters and a beautiful
fact about American voters. And if you don`t understand, then you cannot
successfully run for office.

O`DONNELL: So caught in the crossfire, of course, of this Republican
war -- Mr. Rush Limbaugh. I know you were working during his show today.
I, of course, wasn`t. So, I`ve got him for you.

WAGNER: I love --

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Rush says about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: So Romney is out saying that
Obama was Santa Claus. Where have we heard that before?

And then Bobby Jindal said, no, that`s not the way to go. No. No.

So, Bobby Jindal is cutting my Santa Claus bit out from under me.

It gets harder and harder here every day, I have to tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: It`s hard for Rush because he`s a Bobby Jindal fan, but
Bobby Jindal is now actually disagreeing with Rush. We`ll see how long
that lasts.

WAGNER: Also, who looks more like Santa Claus -- President Obama or
Rush Limbaugh?

But that`s neither here nor there, Lawrence. Again, this is part of
the Republican Party wanting to sort of be the Phoenix, have the second
act, figure it out but not actually really figure it out.

I mean, Rush has been, I think, one of the main sort of -- if there
is schism that continues, it is because of people like Rush Limbaugh who
refuse to again say, look, we`ve done this wrong. This isn`t the party of
the future. We are an old America. This is a new America this party is
living in and we have got to move forward in a real fashion.

O`DONNELL: Crossing Rush Limbaugh would be the clearest way any
Republican could possibly say today, I`m trying to do something different.

HAYES: Right. And I think that there are people on the right who
have spoken up to say your fealty to people like Rush Limbaugh and to FOX
News and to the entire market of white Christian grievance that is
essential the conservative media world, that your -- that is killing you,
electorally. And at a certain point, people are going to have to make a
practical cost-benefit analysis.

The problem is that there is nothing but benefit and no cost for the
practitioners inside the market of white Christian grievance. It`s the
politicians who are going to end up paying the price, like Mitt Romney did.
Either: (a), because they believe their theories, or, (b), because they
suck up to them.

And the question is: who is going to break with them and suffer those
consequences and just deal with them because they understand that in the
long run, that`s a necessary thing for the party to do?

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner of "NOW", weekdays at 12:00 noon on MSNBC.

WAGNER: Nine a.m. Pacific.

O`DONNELL: Some of us have to tear ourselves away from the Rush
Limbaugh show.

And Chris Hayes up at 8:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Thank you both for joining me.

WAGNER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up: The Republican lying attack against Ambassador
Susan Rice continues. And it turns out it`s so important for John McCain
to be out there lying about Susan Rice that he is missing important Senate
meetings about the very thing he is lying about -- the attack in Benghazi.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight -- we`ll see what the gang at FOX News
doesn`t know about the city they work in, including just how much was
destroyed here by hurricane Sandy. I thought I knew just how stupid it
could get over there.

This is something you are going to have to see. It`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: John McCain is taking every chance he can to go on
television and bash the president on Benghazi and U.N. Ambassador Susan
Rice, even though it means missing important Senate briefings on -- that`s
right -- what happened in Benghazi. Karen Finney and Krystal Ball will
join me on that one.

And next, Republican went to Vegas today to try to figure out why they
lost the election. And yes, it gets kind of funny. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HALEY BARBOUR (R), FORMER MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR: We`ve got to give our
political organizational activity a very serious -- proctology exam. I
think that`s the only -- we need to look everywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Republicans are getting surprisingly anal in their
analysis of their big election loss but they are in Vegas -- so, you know,
anything goes.

At the Republican Governors Association meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada,
a state that President Obama won handily, the most boring-looking and
sounding governor in the world wouldn`t touch Haley Barbour`s proctology
line with a 10-foot sentence Governor McDonnell is the governor who thought
transvaginal ultrasound was so cool it should be mandatory.

Boring Bob McDonnell stuck to this the boring party talking points,
saying this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: We honestly did not do a good job
saying those principles of limited government and lower taxes and
individual responsibility and energy independence, et cetera, why is that
better for every American family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Of course, it hasn`t occurred to Boring Bob or any other
Republican at the governors conference that they actually did a very good
job of explaining principles of limited government and lower taxes and most
American families did a pretty good job of figuring out that that isn`t
better for them -- than the Democratic Party position of trying to actually
pay for the kind of government most people want and need.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who is busy making a name for himself
these days as the Republicans` principal attacker of Mitt Romney, said
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JINDAL: Governor Romney`s campaign I don`t think laid out a specific
vision and connected with the American voters. His campaign was largely
about his biography and experience. Biography and experience is not enough
to win an election. You have to have a vision. You have to connect your
policies to the aspirations to the American people.

I don`t think the campaign did that and as a result, I think this
became a contest of personalities and you know what? Chicago won that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Boring Bob McDonald apparently refused to share his Kool-
Aid with Republican pollster Glen Bolger who blamed the Republican loss on
something no one else in the room seemed to know.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLEN BOLGER, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: It`s because there`s too many damn
Democrats out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The pollster suggestion for what Republicans have to do
now is actually to follow in Willard M. Romney`s foot steps and all of them
need to become missionaries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOLGER: What do we need to do? One is we need to convert and get
more Republicans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, that should be no problem. Converting you for
example to becoming a Republican. What would it take?

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: For them to stop insulting me as an African-
American, stop insulting me as a woman, stop insulting my friends who are
Latino, stop insulting guys. You know, just stop being insulting. I think
that would be good start.

Tone is a big problem for the Republican Party. I think David has
made a lot of these points. Long ago, the Republican Party outsourced
their brain to what David Frum calls the conservative entertainment
complex, I think, is the term. And because they outsourced it away from
the thinkers, away from the William F. Buckley Jr. types and gave it to the
entertainment guys, the Rush Limbaugh, the Sean Hannity, they said you go
ahead and define conservatism.

And they did that. They`ve done that for something like 30 years.
This has been a party that has -- that`s base has been said is angry,
victimology, that these people are taking your stuff, these immigrants,
these black people, they are bad people. They are what`s wrong with
America.

How do you unlearn in a four-year election cycle just because the
political hacks want to win an election? I don`t know how you do that.

O`DONNELL: David Frum, if any Republican governor said anything about
changing any policies, it didn`t come through today in the coverage of what
was going on out there, you have been at this for a week now, telling your
party how much trouble they are in, what`s happening in this first week and
what is going to happen?

DAVID FRUM, NEWSWEEK/DAILY BEAST: The conversation we just saw a
snippet of is a more open conversation that ever happened after 2008.

O`DONNELL: That`s true.

FRUM: And what you hear everywhere is the sound of ice cracking. And
there are going to be -- look, a lot of the reasons the Republicans lost
were technical. The get out the vote operation wasn`t good. So, that`s
something you need to address. But that something that the party, that`s
not why the Republicans failed to win as many seats in their congressional
races, as the Democrats won in their congressional races.

There are a lot of criticisms of the defeated candidate. That always
happens. Just ask Michael Dukakis about that.

But that doesn`t answer the question, what about the previous five
presidential elections? The Republicans have gotten the majority of the
vote only one time, out of the past six.

But we -- I`m hearing everywhere the sounds of people thinking. It`s
slow, it`s painful, and it becomes sometimes argumentative, but that`s what
the progress looks and sounds like.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Bill Bennett, radio host, said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BENNETT, RADIO HOST: I had a lot of people calling my radio show
saying we have to explain and Mitt Romney has to tell people that Barack
Obama is taking us towards socialism. And if people understand we`re going
toward socialism, then they`ll react. The Pew poll came out about six
months ago. More people, 18 to 29, have a favorable opinion of socialism
than of capitalism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: My socialism education program is working. Yes.

Well, I mean this is an interesting challenge because, of course,
Medicare is socialism and a lot of the people that the government does,
most popular, are socialist programs. We also have a mixed economy that is
largely capitalistic, much more capitalistic than socialistic.

But it seems to me that the more the Republicans try to drive home
this notion of socialism as scary and then the idea is, OK, now, look --
look at President Obama, look at that stuff that he`s done, people don`t
see socialism when they look at that.

REID: No. And indeed, a lot of the Republican base -- no offense to
Republicans -- don`t even know what socialism is. They couldn`t define it
for you.

O`DONNELL: Both sides. Liberal Democrats will deny that there`s any
socialism at all.

REID: Exactly.

O`DONNELL: And, of course, there`s a tremendous amount, probably we
have a 35 percent socialism system here, which is pretty good for mixed
economy.

REID: We is a whole program that is called Social Security.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

REID: The first word in it is social because it is essentially a
socialistic program. But most people don`t know what that means. So, the
problem is that you can`t do buzz words that means one thing on talk radio.
If you are on talk radio, you hear Marxism and socialism thrown around all
the time. It`s never defined but the people who listen to that, it`s got
to be something bad.

But when you then try to take that message and export it to the
general population, they don`t know what you are talking about. The whole
"we built that" meme I think was an example of that, where this inside joke
on right wing talk radio, they attempted to export it as a general campaign
theme. That doesn`t work because most people aren`t in on the joke.

A very small universe of the United States listen to right wing talk
radio. They may think it`s big, but it is actually quite small.

O`DONNELL: David, in every other country in the world, when your
objection to what I want to do is socialist, when your first line is that
socialism, everybody waits for your second line, everybody waits for your
second line because they don`t care that it`s socialism. They want to know
what your objection is because they recognize that every country has a
certain amount of socialism.

FRUM: Well, in other countries, actually, there`s a lot more anti --
where socialism is a real thing. I don`t know if I were you, I would
actually accept this diagnosis. The United States, like every advanced
capitalist economy, a system of social insurance, and it`s a system of
pooled risk.

And if that`s socialism, automobile insurance is socialism, fire
insurance is socialism. And there`s no good reason --

O`DONNELL: Well --

FRUM: -- that these insurance programs couldn`t be administered
better through private markets. In fact, that` what Romneycare was, was an
attempt to provide healthcare insurance through competitive markets, using
private companies.

REID: But Americans that deal with insurance companies every day
soundly rejected the idea that you would take something as safe as Medicare
and hand it to private market. God forbid if we`d done with Social
Security during the Bush era. You`d have a lot more Americans --

(CROSSTALK)

FRUM: Doctors aren`t government employees. The hospitals aren`t
owned by the state. Medicare is itself a system of social insurance.

And just trying to make it, so what is trying about that conversation
is it`s way too abstract. It is way too abstract.

I always think one of the great lines about American politics was from
"Ferris Bueller`s Day Off". And he says -- he is played hooky -- "Why
today? Because today I have an exam on European political ideology. I`m
not European. I don`t care if they`re not socialist anarchist, it wouldn`t
change the fact that I don`t have a car."

And that`s the key message. I don`t have a car. I`m out of work.
And I don`t care what you call this program.

Put me to work. Let me say that American`s aspirations for themselves
are highly capitalistic. They would like to have more money. That`s a
very capitalistic aspirations.

And they want a government framework that enables them to have more
money.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, do you hear anything coming out of this
Republican Governors Conference that looks like they might be headed in the
right direction basically?

REID: No, I hear a lot of confusion. I hear a lot of people that are
arguing over the technicalities of how they lost the election. We need to
get more widgets. More people to get in the voting booth for us.

But not a lot of ideas, underpinning, how do you set up an idea of
conservatism that`s attractive to more than just your base?

O`DONNELL: Well, it`s only been a week. And as David says, the ice
is cracking.

Joy Reid and David Frum of "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast", author of
the new e-book, "How Romney Lost", it`s on sale now. Thank you both for
joining me.

REID: Thank you.

FRUM: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up: John McCain`s campaign of lies against Susan
Rice and the stars at "FOX and Friends" didn`t lose their homes or their
jobs when hurricane Sandy hit New York City, so they actually don`t think
anyone else in the city did. That`s in the "Rewrite".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: President Obama visited a place in New York City today
where most New Yorkers have never been, Staten Island. The president saw
the most deadly damage that hurricane Sandy did. That`s coming up.

And John McCain took time out from his busy schedule to go on
television and attack the president and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for what
happened in Benghazi. Among the things he had to miss by going on
television, a Senate briefing on what happened in Benghazi. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We will do what is necessary to block the nomination that is
within our power as far as Susan Rice is concerned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: It turns out -- and this is just too perfect. It turns
out that while Senator John McCain was making that statement yesterday at a
press conference, Senator McCain was actually missing a closed door senate
briefing related to the Benghazi attack before the Homeland Security and
Government Oversight Committee, which was being held at the same time that
McCain was grandstanding in from of the microphones.

John McCain`s current interpretation of his oath as a senator is that
it is more important for him to grandstand and lie in the Senate press
briefing room than it is for him to actually tend to his sworn duties as a
senator.

When asked today why he missed that briefing, John McCain had no
answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why can`t you comment on that?

MCCAIN: Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment.
Who the hell are you to tell me I can or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: McCain`s office tried to cover from him by claiming that
some unnamed person in the office made a, quote, "scheduling error"
regarding yesterday`s missed briefing. That is, of course, yet another
McCain lie. McCain was able to schedule more television time on "The Today
Show" this morning, where he adopted the Graham rule in explaining
Condoleezza Rice`s astonishing failures as George W. Bush`s national
security adviser, failures that she was guilty of prior to John McCain
voting for her confirmation for secretary of state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, "THE TODAY SHOW": Back in 2005 when you supported the
nomination of Condoleezza Rice for secretary of state, she had made that
comment that when it came to Iraq`s weapons of mass destruction, the
smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud. As we now know, Iraq didn`t have
stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

But she was commenting based on the information she had at the time.
You said opponents of Condoleezza Rice were expressing sour grapes after an
election loss. Why is this different?

MCCAIN: Because every intelligence agency in the world, including the
British, believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. That was an
entirely different situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, let`s just get something straight right off
the bat here. He is lying about the scheduling confusion thing. I mean,
having worked in the Senate, I`m just going to use my experience here.
When something as important as that is scheduled, it`s not known just at
the staff level.

All the senators are talking about it. They are talking to each other
about it beforehand, what they are going to say, what they should ask, what
they should find out in that thing. McCain completely shirked what he
would otherwise claim to be his duty to be in that Benghazi briefing.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s exactly right. And
Lawrence, as you know, scheduling error is political speak, right? Either
somebody really screwed up, which is not -- as you point out, for something
like this, not likely the case or he just doesn`t want to have to get into
it.

So yes, he clearly has something in his craw when it comes to this
line of argument against Susan Rice. And again, when confronted with the
reality that a similar situation occurred not that many years ago. He
stood by Condoleezza Rice. And again, the other thing that has come out
about this that I think is important -- and again, I now tend to think he
might be lying. It is my understanding, as have been reported and in
talking to folks in the administration, everybody had that same bit of
information from the intelligence community.

Meaning he had those talking points. Members of Congress had those
points. Those were the talking points that had been declassified at that
time Somebody had to go out and talk about it, to try to start to explain
what was going on. And Susan happened to be the person who went and did
it.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, as the fiscal cliff is looming, John McCain
has decided to hold hands with his buddy Lindsay Graham and go off the
truth cliff on Ambassador Rice. And he is out there more alone than --
than is normal in these situations. It is just the two of them who are out
there in this extreme position. A couple of other senators saying, yes,
she has to answer questions. But really these guys are being treated like
the plague by other Republicans in the Senate.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: And even Mitt Romney, who you
know is very quick to jump on any sort of Republican talking point, even
backed away from this argument in the closing days of the campaign. And I
don`t think John McCain has totally thought through the optics of this, you
know, coming off an election where Republicans lost young women, lost
minorities by massive margins.

How is it going to look to the American people to have these men,
these senators baselessly attacking a relatively young African-American
woman who is quite accomplished and who deserves -- you know, who deserves
credibility, who deserves respect. And they are attacking her based on
absolutely nothing.

Going back to what Karen was saying, not only was she the person put
forward on the Sunday shows to talk about what the intelligence was at that
time. She was also very careful to add caveats. This is what we know, but
we have to wait for further information.

It is not like she was just making these statements and letting them
hang out there.

O`DONNELL: Yes, every characterization they have of what she said is
actually a lie. Let`s take a look at how it went today. There was a House
hearing on Benghazi. Let`s take a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DANA ROHRBACKER (R), CALIFORNIA: Now the President Obama has the
gall to float the name as possible secretary of state -- the name of the
person who was the actual vehicle used to misinform the American people
during this crisis.

We have four of our diplomatic personal dead. And it is not a
McCarthy era tactic to demand accountability and demand that the American
people are not misinformed about it, to the point that they don`t know what
the threat is.

REP. GERALD CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: Smear, character assassination,
judgement before all the facts are in is McCarthyism. If you want an
honest investigation of this tragedy, we will join you. But if you want to
persist in trying somehow to put this -- lay this at the doorstep of the
president or the secretary of state or the United Nations ambassador, you
will find us ready and willing to resist to the teeth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, Lindsey Graham is the new Joe McCarthy of
the Senate. What he`s been saying is even a step crazier than what John
McCain`s been saying.

FINNEY: You may remember back when John McCain was running for
president, his good friend Lindsey Graham was there to kind of carry his
water, time and time again. So this -- this symbiotic relationship has
been like this for quite some time.

But part of what makes this so incredibly shameful is both of these
men absolutely know better. They know how an investigation works. They
actually also should remember that it took about a year for the
intelligence community to come back to us and say, guess what, no weapons
of mass destruction. We`re talking about a several day period and an
ongoing investigation here. They know that what they are doing is wrong.

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

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

FINNEY: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, on the day -- the very day that the president
of the United States came to New York City to see more of the damage done
by Hurricane Sandy, today the stars of "Fox and Friends," who actually work
in New York City, showed they have no idea how bad Hurricane Sandy really
was here. "Fox and Friends" are in tonight`s Rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: On the day that President Obama went to Staten Island to
check no the progress of the recovery efforts there and to witness first
hand the scenes of death and destruction that Hurricane Sandy left in that
part of New York City, in another part of New York City this happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome back, everyone. Fox Business alert for
you now. The Labor Department just releasing brand new weekly jobless
numbers; 439,000 first time unemployment claims were filed last week.
That`s up from the week before and more than expected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you kidding is it up? My goodness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eric Bolling, a lot of people are going to have
a lot of things to say about this.

ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: We literally had to call and say, is
that number right? And sure enough, it looks like it is right.

Are you kidding?

There is going to be something. There`s going to be adjustment. They
are saying this has something to do with Sandy. I`m sure, because the
number is so much higher than expected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have been suspicious of the numbers from the
Bureau of Labor Statistics before.

BOLLING: This is the first week after the election. Does anyone find
it odd that the weeks leading into the election the number went down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone finds it odd. Now Sandy, how could you
possibly say that has anything to do with first time jobless claims? When
a storm hits, you get fired?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Department of Labor is getting sketchier and
sketchier with each one of these numbers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: As I`ve told you before, most people who live and work in
New York City have never been to Staten Island. The conspiracy theorists
at Fox News who can`t figure out why the jobless claims suddenly went up
have obviously never been to Staten Island. Certainly none of them could
have been there since Hurricane Sandy. None of them could have walked
those streets of death and destruction out there, the way I did a few days
after the hurricane and the way President Obama did today, and then wonder
why did jobless claims go up after the election, which also happens to be
after the hurricane?

These same people who have never had an occasion to doubt the Bureau
of Labor Statistics work under a Republican president -- these same people
who have no idea how the Bureau of Labor Statistics arrives at any of its
statistics about anything, including jobless claims -- these same people
suddenly believe that they are better calculators of jobless claims than
the career professionals that work the numbers under both Democrat and
Republican presidents.

Never mind that twice in its own report, the Labor Department cited an
increase in jobless claims due to Hurricane Sandy. In the neighborhoods
that were crushed by the hurricane jobs were crushed too. There are stores
and other places of unemployment in those neighbors that no longer exist.
I saw stores and businesses burned to the ground on Staten Island and
others destroyed by flooding.

And no, no one got fired from those jobs. But the jobs no longer
exist. But the hurricane didn`t break a single window in the Fox News
studio in midtown Manhattan. There was no real damage at all in this area
of New York City. I actually walked around Times Square at the height of
the hurricane on that Monday night, and walked past the Fox News studio on
the way to this studio. And the most I was exposed to was a light mist and
minor gusts of wind.

That is how big New York City is and that`s how peculiar hurricanes
can be. Nothing here and death and destruction a few mile away, in the
same city. The Associated Press issued its first summary of the Labor
Department`s report immediately after the information became available,
saying quote, "Superstorm Sandy drives U.S. weekly unemployment aid
applications up."

The AP reported "the Labor Department said Thursday that weekly
applications increased by 78,000, mostly because a large number of
applications were filed in states damaged by the storm. People can claim
unemployment benefits if their work places close and they don`t get paid.
The storm has affected the claims data for the past two weeks and may
distort reports for another two weeks, the Department has said."

Hurricane Sandy killed at least 109 people. Almost half of them were
killed in New York City. It left people without electricity for weeks.
Thousands of businesses were closed for more than a week without any power
at all. In fact, more than 2,300 customers still don`t have power in New
York City.

Nothing in the devastation brought by Hurricane Sandy could explain an
increase in jobless claims in the Fox News world, where they were so quick
to try to Rewrite the Bureau of Labor Statistics with their own wild
imaginations.

How sealed off from reality can you be? How sealed off from New York
City can you be in the Fox News studio in the middle of Manhattan. How
sealed off from human suffering can you be?

Here is how sealed they are. Here is how far the Fox News studio is
from Staten Island and Lower Manhattan and Queens and everywhere else in
New York City and the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, Sandy, how could you possibly say that has
anything to do with first time jobless claims? When a storm hits, you get
fired?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I tell you, this is all grass roots. The NYPD
is here. The FDNY is here. The commissioners, OEM and even FEMA. But
these are people -- Staten Islanders helping Staten Islanders. It`s
amazing. Everybody wants to help. There are more volunteers than there
are people in need. And we`re doing a lot of good. And everybody`s
getting out.

From peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to everything that`s donated
here, it is grass roots and it`s amazing.

O`DONNELL: I am so not surprised.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was four days after Hurricane Sandy hit Staten
Island. The first people to rush to help Staten Islanders were other
Staten Islanders. Disaster relief efforts were focused elsewhere in the
days immediately after the hurricane. All eyes were on New Jersey when
President Obama arrived there to survey the damage.

Today the president took another look at what the storm did, this time
in the neighborhood where it killed more people than anywhere else.
President Obama made his first visit to Staten Island 15 days after seeing
what Hurricane Sandy did in New Jersey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I promised to everybody that I was speaking on behalf of the
country when I said we were going to be here until the rebuilding is
complete. And I meant it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The president met with the parents of two of the youngest
victims, Connor and Brandon Moore, toddler brothers who were swept away
from their mother when their car stalled during the storm. He heard their
stories and the story of NYPD Lieutenant Kevin Gallagher who stayed with
the family until the boys` bodies until were recovered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: That`s not in the job description of Lieutenant Gallagher. He
did that because that is what so many of our first responders do. They go
above and beyond the call of duty to respond to people in need. And so I
want to give a shout out to Lieutenant Gallagher.

But I want to point out the Moores, even in their grief, asked me to
mention Lieutenant Gallagher. And that says something about them as well.
And that is spirit and sense of togetherness and looking out for one
another, that is what is going to carry us through this tragedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Staten Island, New York, Assemblyman
Michael Cusick. Michael, you joined us by phone during the height of this
problem in Staten Island. You couldn`t leave and you shouldn`t have. But
you are out there today with the president. How does this help?

MICHAEL CUSICK, STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK, ASSEMBLYMAN: It helps
tremendously. Having the president come to Staten Island is a big event in
itself. But to come out after this disaster, the worst disaster Staten
Island has seen in history, it is a boost I think to the people of Staten
Island, no matter what political party you belong to. It really was a
boost for people. And I think it energized people and it gave them hope.

O`DONNELL: When you walk those streets, especially in Midland Beach,
where it is so fascinating to see how the water did it`s job there. In a
normal day, you wouldn`t get a sense that it was below a level where it`s
dangerous. It looks flat. But water finds any little valley to get into.
And once you see what happened there, you understand, well, sure, if the
water could get across that road, then the houses were going to get wiped
out.

CUSICK: That is true. A lot of people didn`t realize that it was
below sea level.

O`DONNELL: You could live there and not know it. And it is a quite a
distance from the actual -- where the waves hit on a normal day, across a
very big beach, a big road, all that.

CUSICK: Absolutely, Lawrence. And I think a lot of people who do
live there didn`t realize also. Because a lot of people lived there all
their lives, or it is family that have lived there for 80 or so years, and
have handed the houses down. And you`ve seen them. A lot of them are
bungalows or beach houses back in the day.

And people have lived there not thinking there would be any danger.
Unfortunately, this proved that it is a dangerous place.

O`DONNELL: Where are the homeless of Staten Island now?

CUSICK: Right now, we had -- the city had some disaster relief
centers, some areas where they put the folks who are homeless. We have now
temporary housing in areas that are fit for families and fit for people who
have lost their houses. And we are now trying to work with FEMA and work
with the other agencies to get these folks permanent housing for now, as
they rebuild and they try to get their lives back.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I mean, there`s nothing temporary about it for some
of them. Some of them, the houses are just gone. One of the things I --
when I was out there shortly after the hurricane, first guy I was talking
to me was telling me how this was all Staten Islanders. I knew that. As
soon as I saw what was happening there, all these cars from -- the island
is so big, people don`t realize there are some parts of it where there is
no damage at all. And those people were all getting in their cars, driving
down toward the beach, to help out down there, unloading all sorts of stuff
of their own. All the first supplies came from people on the island.

CUSICK: Lawrence, you were lucky. You saw the best of Staten Island.
And that`s what I see everyday, is Staten Island is the biggest small city
in the country. And we all know each other. We are 500,000 people. But
in some way, we know each other. Either if we went to the same high school
or our parents went to the same high school. And everybody knows each
other.

And particularly in times like this -- 9/11 -- when 9/11 happened,
Staten Island was hit very hard, a lot of victims. And this is similar to
that, because people are gathering together. I`m proud to be an elected
official on Staten Island, but I`m so proud in instances like this, because
you see humanity. You see people wanting to help.

We actually -- we are trying to get people to pace themselves, to help
for the holidays, because now a lot of the clothes, a lot of the food is
coming. But we want to be able -- that there is more to come down the
road.

O`DONNELL: Assemblyman Michael Cusick of Staten Island gets tonight`s
LAST WORD. Thanks, Michael.

CUSICK: Thank you.

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

END

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