updated 11/28/2012 11:25:47 AM ET 2012-11-28T16:25:47

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

Guests: Robert Reich, David Corn, Jonathan Allen, Ari Melber

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: When Callie Khouri won the Oscar for her
first screenplay 20 years ago, she had no idea that the heroes of her film,
Thelma and Louise, were going to become political role models.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: The White House is continuing to warn of
dire consequences for the middle class.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He goes (ph) to the people.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The president plans to
hit the road next week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On Friday, he`ll return to the stumps.

MCCONNELL: He`s back on the campaign trail.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Very campaign-like.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The campaign style tour.

MITCHELL: Trying to drum up public support for his budget priorities.

JANSING: It seems like just another fight in Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are really two issues there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A revenue side, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One is the amount of revenue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is that revenue going to come from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Increasing tax rates is going to harm economic
growth.

WARREN BUFFETT, BILLIONAIRE INVESTOR: I think it would have a great
effect.

JANSING: Warren Buffett was out this morning.

BUFFETT: I think it would have a great effect.

JANSING: Talking about taxing the wealthy.

BUFFETT: It`s time to make the tax rates more progressive.

GROVER NORQUIST, ANTI-TAX LOBBYIST: I`m sorry. That`s just silly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grover Norquist.

NORQUIST: I`m sorry. That`s just silly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wants to drown government in the bathtub. I
hope he slips in there with it.

NORQUIST: Shame on him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s only two options here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Revenue on one side, entitlements on the other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not part of the conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Social Security has not contributed to the debt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not going to raid Social Security.

JANSING: Just another fight in Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s going to be blood and hair and eyeballs
all over the floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we`re going to get this done. I`m more
positive than most.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If not, then we go off the supposed cliff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are we calling it, a mole hill, a curb?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fiscal cliff or the fiscal slope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bump of various heights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we go over the fiscal cliff, it`s going to
solve that fiscal problem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Thelma and Louise might need to make room in the car for
the president of the United States. At the White House today, senior Obama
administration officials met with liberal leaders and union officials.

"The Washington Post`s" Greg Sargent reports that one attended told
him after the meeting, quote, "Would the White House go off the cliff if
it`s between that and compromising their core principles? I was left with
the impression that they would."

Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin spoke today at the liberal
Center for American Progress where he said this about the possibility of
going off the cliff which viewers of this show know is really more of a
curb than a cliff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Some have called let`s go over the
cliff and watch what happens. We know if we`re not careful, it will in
fact stop economic growth and hurt everyone through every income category,
particularly those who are most vulnerable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: What Senator Durbin did not say is, we absolutely must not
go off the cliff, because the cliff is President Obama`s and the
congressional Democrats leverage over Republicans. If we do go off the
cliff or the curb on January 1st, a Republican nightmare will occur. All
income tax rates will go up and defense spending will be cut by $600
billion. Other spending, some of it dear to Republicans, will also be cut
by another $600 billion.

The fiscal cliff is much scarier to Republicans than it is to
Democrats. So, the president and his allies must continue to make
Republicans believe they are willing to go off cliff.

Senator Durbin simply said that if we do go off the cliff or the curb
on January 1st, we have to be able to, quote, "stop economic growth -- to
prevent us from stopping at the economic growth and hurting everyone."

In other words, we have to then quickly craft a legislative deal that
can stop the damage to the economy that would occur if we went off the
cliff and stayed off the cliff. John Boehner recognizes that the fiscal
cliff is the president`s leverage, but Boehner believes he has leverage,
too.

"Politico" reported this morning President Barack Obama made a demand
of how John Boehner near the end of their first White House meeting on the
fiscal cliff: raised the debt limit before year`s end. Boehner responded,
quote, "There is a price for everything."

Boehner told President Obama at the White House that the debt limit
increase is, quote, "my leverage." Although he added that he`s flexible on
when it should be done.

Senator Durbin said today that raising the debt ceiling must be part
of any deal with Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DURBIN: I also think that the president isn`t going to sign off on
any agreement that doesn`t include some certainty as to budgets,
appropriations, dealing with our debt ceiling. We`re not going to find
ourselves with some big party celebrating in February and then turn around
and March and have another doomsday scenario with the debt ceiling. We`ve
got to get this done as a package.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The man who until this week was the most powerful person
in Washington who did not sleep in the White House, Grover Norquist, in a
desperate attempt to stay relevant, wrote an op-ed piece for "The Hill"
tonight, quickly agreeing with John Boehner that the debt ceiling provides
plenty of leverage for the GOP.

The brokenhearted Norquist who seems to be getting dumped along with
his anti-tax pledge by another Republican every hour this week could not
bring himself to issue his usual marching orders to Republicans in his op-
ed piece for fear that that would only provoke more of them to break up
with him in a very public way. Norquist`s rambling, incoherent op-ed piece
for "The Hill" is the work of a shattered man. His confidence is gone, his
legislative strength has been zapped.

With Republicans no longer locked in his passionate and unyielding
embrace, he is -- to put it charitably -- confused.

On the strategic question of the day: will President Obama go off the
cliff rather than compromise his core principles? This is the best that
the once certain Grover Norquist could come up with. "Will Obama force the
nation over the fiscal cliff to prove his mandate? Maybe."

Joining me now are: Joy Reid, managing editor of "The Grio" and an
MSNBC contributor. And Robert Reich, former labor secretary and professor
at the University of California-Berkeley. He`s also the author of "Beyond
Outrage."

Joy, are you feeling sorry for Grover Norquist yet?

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: Immensely. He`s such a lonely man, such a
lonely little man.

Yes, because he lost the Senate. The Senate is gone. Like we all
need to understand that right now. Enough Republican senators have signal
that they`re going to play ball on this deal. So, that`s off the table.
This is about the House of Representatives.

And really for John Boehner, everything changes in a good way for him
if we go off the curb or the cliff, or whatever we do want call it, on
January 1st, he won`t be dealing with that Tea Party Caucus and that`s the
been the thing -- the bee in his hair right now. The bee in his bonnet is
the Tea Party Caucus that doesn`t want to make a deal. And, by the way, a
lot of them are out the door. They`ve already lost.

So, Greg Sargent`s reporting is really interesting because it signals
that the White House has a public posture in which they say, oh, no, no, we
dare not go off the cliff, but they have a private posture that says, you
know what? We`d really do it, because we`re going to get those tax rates
increased.

And the reporting I`ve done tonight is that there`s going to be
additional meetings. This was the private version -- supposedly private
version -- of those public meetings, remember, that they did last week with
labor and liberal groups. Now, they`ve been doing them in private and
these were actually White House economic staff. These were like people
that do the policy piece -- briefing folks on what they plan to do.

So I think if somebody from that meeting who should have talked, but
did, was saying they were feeling a signal that the White House is ready to
play chicken with the Republicans, I would believe it.

O`DONNELL: Robert Reich, as you know, someone from a meeting will
always talk. This notion that there`s ever going to be a successful
private meeting on this is pretty much impossible.

But when you -- how do you evaluate the leverage we`re looking at
here? President Obama has leverage with a fiscal cliff since -- if it
actually -- if they get to that point, then all the tax rates go up and
then what he`s doing is just offering a bill that would reduce the tax
rates on most people. John Boehner thinks he has leverage with the debt
ceiling.

How do you evaluate these two pieces of leverage?

ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Well, Lawrence, you know, the
point that is missing from a lot of these games of chicken and scenarios is
that we had an election and the election was pretty clear. The Democrats
won. Obama is back in.

And one of the clearest issues in that election was that taxes should
be raised and tax rates should be raised on the rich. That gives the
president even more leverage. I think the president has enormous leverage
right now.

If we do go over the fiscal cliff in terms of taxes, what does that
mean? It means that we actually go back to the Clinton tax rates, which as
I remember it, were not so onerous. They certainly were pretty good in
terms of the economy. The economy did not suffer. The economy did much
better under Clinton than did under George W. Bush after we had the Bush
tax cuts.

So, I don`t think -- at least on the tax side, going over the fiscal
cliff is that big a deal. It`s not really a cliff at all as you suggested,
and if we get major cuts in the military and defense spending, I`m not sure
that`s a bad idea at all.

O`DONNELL: Now, Joy Reid, we all deal with being dumped in different
ways. One of them is to just decide that its` happening.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: That is the choice Grover has made tonight on CNN. Let`s
watch Grover Norquist on CNN tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NORQUIST: I don`t see any movement towards Republicans wanting to
raise taxes or people wanting to break their pledge. In fact, to be fair
to everybody, some of these people have had impure thoughts. No one has
pulled the trigger and voted for a tax increase.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So, Joy, there he is pretending that nothing`s changed.
Nothing`s changed. No one is breaking up with me.

He`s also lying. They have indeed voted for a tax increase. Senator
Tom Coburn introduced last year, a bill in the Senate to close the ethanol
tax credit.

REID: Right.

O`DONNELL: Saxby Chambliss voted for it. Bob Corker voted for it.
And they violated their Grover Norquist pledge in order to do it. It`s
already happened and these are the same guys in the Senate who are saying
today, I don`t care about that pledge anymore.

REID: Right. And also, just by voting for the sequester, right?
Just for voting for a sequestration, they have signaled their willingness
to allow steep cuts in defense and tax increases. So, just doing that,
they`ve already chucked him out the window. I mean, he can pretend their
clothes are still in his closet and that means they`re coming back, but
that doesn`t mean they`re coming back.

O`DONNELL: Oh, Joy.

REID: Maybe they just don`t like those clothes.

REICH: Grover Norquist has said -- Grover Norquist is going to be the
last person in Washington to admit that he is irrelevant. The emperor has
no clothes. It is over, Grover.

O`DONNELL: Yes, people aren`t quick to admit their irrelevance in
Washington. "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board is even pushing
Grover Norquist on this.

They said, "President Obama`s re-election means that taxes for upper
income owners are going to go up one way or the other. The Bush tax rates
expire on December 31st unless Mr. Obama signs an extension, and he shows
no inclination to do, except for anyone earning less than $250,000 a year,
$200,000 if y8ou`re single. This is where Mr. Norquist can give some
ground.`

Robert Reich, did you ever expect that we would be reading an
editorial where "The Wall Street Journal" is telling Grover Norquist that
he`s got to give ground on the tax increase?

REICH: No, I didn`t. Again, Election Day does magical things to "The
Wall Street Journal" and to a lot of the Republican right. They are
sounding different than they sounded before. Some of them actually learned
a lesson.

You know, another aspect of the leverage the president has is the
possibility -- and this is the Republican nightmare -- that on January 2nd,
Democrats come back with legislation that says we are going to have a tax
cut for the middle class, not for the rich, but for the middle class.

And then, what do Republicans do? I mean, Republicans at that
particular point in time, have got to vote for this or else they look like
they are essentially -- which what they are -- shills for the rich and
Grover Norquist is going to have to say, you must vote for this. This is a
tax cut.

This is the Republican nightmare and it is coming. They see it
coming.

And they don`t dare use their old threat to put against a raising the
debt ceiling. I mean, we went through that. They lost huge ground. The
public was furious with them for threatening the faith and credit of the
United States. They`re not going to do that again.

REID: Right.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead.

REID: Not only that, but their option to sort of prevent this is even
worse. Republicans have signaled that they`re willing to sort of throw the
medium rich off the side as Paul Krugman has reported. They`re like, no
tax all their income. Don`t even do it marginally.

So they`ve signaled even worse options than just voting for the big
tax cut they`re going to get to vote for on January 3rd.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid and Robert Reich -- thank you both for joining me
tonight.

REID: Thank you.

REICH: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up: is America ready for Bush 3.0?

And the politics of attacking Susan Rice. Why senators might be
interested in preventing her being nominated as secretary of state. Could
the Massachusetts Senate seat have anything to do with it?

And in the "Rewrite", what Republicans do not understand about
Hispanic voters and why that means Democrats will keep winning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Is America ready for Bush 3.0? Of course not, not
tonight. But will 51 percent of American voters be ready for Bush 3.0 in
2016? What Jeb Bush is doing this week to get them ready, that`s coming
up.

And Republicans can continue the attacks on U.N. Ambassador Susan
Rice. What do they hope to gain? One Senate seat. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: Now, she might be the president`s choice to
succeed Hillary Clinton. If that were the case, would you support her?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I would be very hard pressed.

CAVUTO: If it were John Kerry, would you support him?

MCCAIN: John Kerry came within a whisper of being president of the
United States. I think that works in his favor. But, I would love to hear
him make his case. But I don`t -- I don`t have anything in his background
like this tragedy in Benghazi, that would make me really want to make me
carefully examine the whole situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: If President Obama nominates Democratic Senator John Kerry
instead of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for secretary of state, Massachusetts
would hold a special election to fill Kerry`s seat, which provokes this
question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Would you be running again if the special elections were to
permit that?

SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, first of all, it is
speculation. There`s no vacancy that I`m aware of and we`ll see what
happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: With Elizabeth Warren poised to be sworn into defeated
Senator Scott Brown`s Senate seat in January, today, the Scott Brown for
Senate campaign 2.0 got everything it could hope for from Republican
Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte after their meeting
with Ambassador Rice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

MCCAIN: We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we
got.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Bottom line, I`m more
disturbed now than I was before.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I want to say that I`m more
troubled today.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

O`DONNELL: Senator McCain`s embarrassing past with Libya includes a
meeting in Tripoli in 2009 with dictator Moammar Gadhafi to discuss the
possible delivery of military equipment to that dictator. At his side at
that meeting, as usual of course, was Lindsey Graham. Also joining him was
Senator Joe Lieberman.

Today, after meeting with Ambassador Rice, retiring Senator Joe
Lieberman chose not to join the baseless criticism of Ambassador Rice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: Based on what she has said, as
clearly as possible, backed up by the director of the CIA, I think it
wouldn`t be fair to disqualify her based on what she said on those Sunday
morning shows.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ambassador Rice released this statement after meeting with
the Republican senators. "While we certainly wish we had had perfect
information just days after the terrorist attack, as this often the case,
the intelligence assessment has evolved. We stressed that neither I nor
anyone else in the administration intended to mislead the American people."

Joining me now, MSNBC`s Karen Finney and Howard Fineman.

Howard, the -- what is your understanding of how these meetings
actually went today? We got a very little by way of actual reports on what
went on there. You`ve got Lindsey Graham trying to say something happened
in this meeting to make the situation worse.

What could that have been?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, from talking to a top official
in the White House and top aide to Senator McCain, the sense I got is that
actually behind closed doors, the meeting wasn`t as contentious as those
statements afterwards made it sound. At least as regard to Ambassador
Rice.

I think both sides agree that there are legitimate questions to be
asked about the timeline of what happened in Benghazi -- about the state of
knowledge at the time, about the military actions or lack thereof at the
time, about security protections and so forth. But as far as holding
Ambassador Rice personally accountable for the incomplete and in some cases
wrong story that she gave on five different shows that Sunday, I don`t
think behind closed doors that the Republican senators were going after her
personally. They came out afterwards and made it sound like the grave
matter that it was involving her.

I don`t think that`s where they`re at behind closed doors, at least
that`s what the sense I get from talking to people on both sides.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to President Obama on November 14th, about
the senator`s attacks on Ambassador Rice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When they go after the
U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she`s an easy target, then
they`ve got a problem with me. And should I choose, if I think that she
would be the best person to serve America, in the capacity of the State
Department, then I will nominate her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Then I will nominate her.

Karen Finney, are these Republicans actually painting the president
into a corner where he almost has to nominate her?

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: They might and it may end up
being that Susan Rice should actually send John McCain some flowers and
thank him for this behavior. I mean, look, but the president`s answer
right there -- I`ll make two points -- that`s exactly why this is a good
fight for him. If he takes them on over this, that is a win-win for this
president because he will have a lot of people behind him, both in terms of
public sentiment.

We`ve got new polling today that suggests that where as people aren`t
quite thrilled with how the matter has been handled, they don`t think the
intention was to mislead the American people. And even other members of
the Senate, starting with Joe Lieberman, have started to distance
themselves from what I think is the three newest members of the bat crap
crazy party with this assertion against Susan Rice.

And the second point I`ll make is, let`s be very clear about what
happened. She went out and used talking points that were not designed to
mislead the American people, but were edited so that the enemy, the enemy,
wouldn`t know what we knew.

Now, that`s not something that a person who has sworn to protect this
country isn`t supposed to do, then I`m not quite sure what is.

O`DONNELL: Howard Fineman, let`s get into the Massachusetts piece of
this story. These Republicans would obviously be very welcoming to John
Kerry`s nomination because that would open up a Senate seat. They`d have
to have a special election there and say see their pal, Scott Brown, as
maybe a shoe in for that. We have reports tonight on "The Boston Globe"
saying that Congressman Ed Markey is looking at that seat. He looked at it
I know very seriously when Kerry was nominated for president. If John
Kerry had won the presidency, Ed Markey was going to run for that seat.

FINEMAN: Yes, I honestly don`t think that the Scott Brown 2.0 wins in
a flash seat in Massachusetts is one that the Republicans necessarily
believe in unless they`re more diluted than I think they are. I think it
would be a tough race. I think Scott Brown tarnished himself with a way he
ran against Elizabeth Warren. I think if Ed Markey jumps in it and he`s
thought about it on and off again for years and years, as you know -- you
know him well, Lawrence. I think he`d be a formidable candidate. He`d be
well-funded, well-financed, have a lot of support up there.

I think -- I think that the performance of John McCain and Lindsey
Graham and now Kelly Ayotte is just -- is just mostly political theatre as
it relates to Susan Rice. Yes, again, there are legitimate questions about
Benghazi and security globally for American diplomats, but the Susan Rice
thing has a sort of measure of insanity about it as political theater and
really is a kind of thing, Lawrence, and we`ve seen it a million times --
sometimes Washington goes crazy over what is essentially a non-substantive
high school argument. And I think that`s what the thing with Susan Rice
is.

Acknowledging the legitimate issues, Susan Rice is not the issue.
Susan Rice is definitely not the issue. If I were Susan Rice, I`d be mad
at the president and the intel people and the press people for sending her
out there the way they did.

I don`t totally buy the thing that she was covering the story to keep
the bad guys from whatever they`re doing. They handed her a bad piece of
paper, like a good soldier, she went out there and said it on five
channels. It`s not her fault.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, take the last word on this.

FINNEY: I disagree with that, because again, there`s this whole issue
between what was classified and unclassified.

But more importantly, this is the sad demise of John McCain, who used
to be someone that I think people looked up to and respected. And
increasingly, he looks small and petty and it`s very sad to see it
happening.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney and Howard Fineman -- thank you both for
joining me tonight.

FINEMAN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Mitt Romney did not win the title of president,
but he did win the title of least influential person of the year.

And later, in the "Rewrite" some Republicans who were certain Mitt
Romney was going to win are now coming up with some pretty crazy ideas
about why he lost.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Rick Santorum and other dazed and confused Republicans
don`t think it`s time for Republicans to change their ways in any of their
bat crap crazy Tea Party ideas in order to actually win elections, which,
of course, is very good news for Democrats and that`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, Bush 3.0. Former Florida
Governor Jeb Bush met yesterday with a group of his former staffers at a
hotel just steps away from the White House and he refused to answer
questions about a possible presidential run in 2016. In an interview with
the conservative "National Review" online, Bush did not rule out a
presidential run. He simply said that, quote, "I am here to catch up with
folks and promote education reform." And today, on the day that GQ crowned
Mitt Romney the number one least influential person of the year, Jeb Bush
hosted a national summit on education reform in Washington. Exactly,
exactly the kind of thing presidential candidates do at this stage leading
up to the eventual announcement of their candidacy. Yesterday, Chris
Christie formally announced that he will seek re-election as New Jersey
governor and he deliberately played around with it, reminding people of his
potential presidential candidacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R ), NEW JERSEY: I promised people that when I
made up my mind, I`ll tell you. So I made up my mind, so I`m telling you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: According to a new Quinnipiac poll, less than a month
after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, voters there have given Governor
Christie a 72 percent approval rating. The highest approval rating
recorded by Quinnipiac for a New Jersey governor. Ever. 95 percent of New
Jersey voters gave Christie an excellent or good rating for his response to
Hurricane Sandy. And despite criticism from some national Republican
leaders, 84 percent approved of Christie`s praise of President Obama`s
response to the storm, including 69 percent of Republicans. Newark`s
Democratic Mayor, Cory Booker, told the New Jersey "Star-Ledger" today,
quote, "I`m giving a run for governor thorough consideration. I will make
a decision as quickly as possible. Critical to my decision is not the
difficulties of the politics or positioning in polls, but choosing the
position from which I can make the best contributions to the city and state
I love."

Meanwhile, a new Rutgers Eagleton poll finds Governor Christie leading
Mayor Booker in a hypothetical race, 53 to 34 percent. Joining me now,
David Corn, Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones` and MSNBC political
analyst and Jonathan Allen, senior Washington correspondent for Politico.
David Corn, let`s talk about Cory Booker for a moment, who I think was
poised to run for governor probably prior to Chris Christie`s poll numbers
going where they are now, but shouldn`t he be looking much more seriously
at Frank Lautenberg`s Senate seat? He`s currently the oldest senator, he
is 88 years old. His seat`s up in 2014. He will be 90 years old. I, for
one, cannot imagine Frank Lautenberg running for re-election at age 90.
That`s going to be an open seat, isn`t it?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: It looks like it`s going to be an open
seat. You know, if he ran against Christie, I guess they could have a
contest over who helped Obama the most in 2012 and Christie might win that
contest. If you remember what Cory Booker did earlier in the campaign. I
mean, Lawrence, you know politicians better than anybody. I mean until
they make a decision, until they actually, they are willing to tell us
their decision, everything`s an open door. They may run, they may not run.
But I think, you know, Chris Christie right now has higher approval numbers
than maybe even Bruce Springsteen would get in the state. You know, it`s
better to being a hurricane victim and to lose an election. Just ask Mitt
Romney. And it remains to be seen if the numbers will stay that high.
These numbers weren`t that high earlier in the year. New Jersey`s
unemployment was higher than the national average. So, what goes up, comes
down. Cory Booker has a few months here to decide what`s the better bet
for him. Governor`s race or an open Senate seat.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Allen, in the timing of this, given how much it`s
going to cost to run in New Jersey, you have to buy New York television
time to run ads in New Jersey, the most expensive television time in the
country. You also have to buy Philadelphia TV advertising to run TV ads in
the southern end of the state. It`s a very expensive proposition. You`ve
got to start raising that money right now. You got to make a fast decision
if you`re running for this office. Isn`t the - isn`t what is likely to be
the open Senate seat the better play for Cory Booker where I think if he
made it into the Senate, he would be a star instantaneously there.

JONATHAN ALLEN, POLITICO: I think you`re right that if he made into
the Senate, he would be a star, and in fact, the possible Christie-Booker
match-up would be sort of the battle of the network stars. I think the
nation knows these two guys from television probably as well as any two
state politicians in the country, but as far as the Senate race goes, you
know, they`re not mutually exclusive, Lawrence. This is a 2013
gubernatorial race. And a 2014 Senate race. I don`t know what Cory
Booker`s thinking is. I don`t know if it`s possible to run two statewide
campaigns that fast back-to-back, but the advantage Cory Booker would have
is that, of course, New Jersey is one of only a couple of races on the map
in 2013, which means that if he`s trying to raise money quickly, there are
a lot of Democratic donors out there who aren`t going to be giving to a lot
of other races.

CORN: You know, Lawrence, there`s a nonpolitical factor to consider
here. I hate even to say that, but if you look at the two different jobs,
governor and senator, Cory Booker, I think is probably more attuned to
being a governor. This is a guy who likes to do things. Get out there.
You know, break a sweat. Be in charge and, you know, I think you`re right.
He`d be a star in the Senate, but what we`ve seen him up to date, the
governor`s job is probably more to his just personal liking.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, let`s get to this, what the maneuvers we`re
seeing already on the Republican 2016 presidential race. Here you have Jeb
Bush not making any attempt to deny in any way that he might run for
president in 2016 and then you see him doing this week exactly what you
would do if you were thinking about it. We see Marco Rubio going out to
Iowa already. It seems like these people are getting themselves into place
already.

ALLEN: And I`m sure Marco Rubio visited Iowa many, many times before
he was a United States senator.

O`DONNELL: Yeah.

(laughter)

ALLEN: These people would tell you this isn`t about a presidential
race, but, of course, it is about taking the temperature there. There are
a lot of Republicans thinking about running in 2016. I think some of those
decisions will be contingent upon who else may be running. And, of course,
Jeb Bush is about as big a fish as you could possibly find in the
Republican pond. Obviously, there probably isn`t enough room for both him
and Marco Rubio to run. Paul Ryan, the vice presidential candidate this
time, I think is a potential candidate in 2016 and any number of other
Republicans, perhaps, Bob McDonnell, the governor of Virginia. If he finds
something that`s helpful to him over the next couple of years to raise his
profile, he could potentially be a candidate. So I think all these guys
are starting to plan that, trying to get an idea of what the contributions
would be like. What the political field looks like. What kind of platform
they could put together to try to appeal to the voters that Mitt Romney did
not appeal to. Obviously, Mitt Romney had a huge deficit with African-
American voters, with Hispanic voters, with women voters, and so I think
all these candidates, potential candidates are just trying to map it out
right now.

O`DONNELL: David Corn, when George W. Bush ran, he got such a quick
surge in the polls on name recognition that no one ever was able to stop
him, to slow him down. Is Jeb Bush that guy this time? Is he the one that
if he makes it very clear that he`s running, others will decide not to?

CORN: You know, I still wonder if two words come to mind. Too soon.
I mean, the George W. Bush presidency is still not held in high esteem
amongst many voters who still blame Bush for the economic downturn that we
had at the end of his administration that has carried us to this day. So,
I just don`t - I mean Jeb Bush has the ability to talk to Hispanics, and,
you know, he is more moderate, and maybe he can reach to those independent
suburban voters, but I also wonder if, you know, people will be a little
tired of the Bush dynasty come to 2016.

O`DONNELL: Well, they`re too tired of it now, but 2016 is a few years
away. David Corn and Jonathan Allen, thank you both for joining me
tonight.

ALLEN: Sure thing.

CORN: Of course.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, good news for Democrats trying to keep control
of the Senate in 2014 and one Republican whose strategy for dealing with
Latino voters is to completely give up on them. That`s next in the
"Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Rick Santorum has an announcement. I know what you`re
thinking, who cares. But it`s an announcement that every Democrat is hoping
that every Republican follows exactly the way Rick Santorum wants them to.
That`s coming up. And in the "Rewrite," the newest Republican strategy for
Hispanic voters, how about completely give up on ever winning their votes?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Republicans who firmly believed that Mitt Romney was going
to be swept into the presidency on a wave of voter hatred of President
Obama, are now busily rewriting their understanding of the American
electorate. Consider this bit of punditry from Tim Wildman. You don`t
know who Tim Wildman is? He is the president of American Family Radio. A
presidency that he earned the old fashioned way. He inherited it from his
father.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM WILDMAN,PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FAMILY RADIO: I think that the
Hispanics who are here illegally getting amnesty for their fellow Mexicans
or Hispanics is a high priority for them and the Democratic Party offers
them the best hope to do that. Yes, they`re catholic, so most of them are
pro-life. But that doesn`t trump social justice is what they call it.
That`s the reason they vote Democrat and also, they are used to a socialist
form of government in Mexico, which is big government, welfare programs,
and so that`s what they`re going to vote for over the Republicans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: With Republican punditry like that, Democrats have nothing
to fear. Tim says quote, "Getting amnesty for their fellow Mexicans or
Hispanics is a high priority for Hispanic voters." If Tim had bothered to
check the exit polls, he would have discovered that the number one issue
for Hispanic voters was the economy. 60 percent of Hispanic voters
identified the economy as the most important issue in a presidential
election, in which 71 percent of them voted for President Obama. The
economy was actually a tiny-tiny-tiny bit more important to Hispanic voters
than it was to voters like Tim Wildman. Exactly one more percent important.
59 percent of all voters identified the economy as the most important
issue. A strong majority of Latinos favors a path to citizenship for
undocumented residents of the United States, but so does a strong majority
of all voters. 77 percent of Latino voters favor a path to citizenship and
65 percent of all voters favor that same path to citizenship. Tim Wildman
says Latinos are, quote, catholic, so most of them are pro-life. What Tim
Wildman obviously doesn`t know about Catholics is that they generally
support Roe v. Wade and women`s reproductive freedom slightly more than all
voters do. And Catholics overwhelmingly believe that Catholics should feel
free to make up their own minds about abortion. The recent CNN poll asked,
"Do you think Catholics should always obey official church teachings on
such moral issues as birth control and abortion or do you think it is
possible for Catholics to make up their own minds on these issues? 88
percent of Catholics said they should be free to make up their own minds.

Latinos generally poll a bit more conservative than all Catholics on
abortion questions. The other big explainer Tim Wildman has for the reason
the Latino vote went Democratic is, quote, "They are used to a socialist
form of government in Mexico, which is big government, welfare programs,
so that`s who they`re going to vote for over the Republicans." Tim doesn`t
seem to realize a couple of things here. First, the United States has a
much bigger big government welfare program than Mexico could ever dream of
and second, those people left Mexico looking for a different kind of life
than they could have in Mexico. People who come to the United States after
being unable to make a living in their home countries have never tried to
turn the United States into their home countries where they couldn`t make a
living. So what is Tim Wildman`s strategy for improving Republican results
with Latino voters?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILDMAN: So, obviously, I hate to be pessimistic for people who would
be a Republican, but I just don`t see the Republicans being able to get
anymore percentage votes from Hispanics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: His strategy for dealing with the fastest growing segments
of the electorate is to completely give up on them. For a guy who hates to
be pessimistic, Tim sure is pessimistic.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Good news today for the Democratic Party from defeated
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum who is pledging to fight to
keep Republicans focused on those crazy Tea Party positions that are
helping them lose elections. I think there`s a fight right now as to what
the soul of the Republican Party`s going to be and the conservative
movement and we have something to say about that. I think from our battle,
we`re not going to leave the field. Republicans would probably have
control of the Senate today if they had nominated anyone but these losing
Republican Senate nominees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD MOURDOCK: I think even when life begins in that horrible
situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

REP. TODD AKIN (R-MISSOURI): If it`s a legitimate rape, the female
body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

CHRISTINE O`DONNELL: I am not a witch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: I remember we could go on and on with these candidates,
the Republicans are added again. There`s the West Virginia race today, in
which Congresswoman Shelley Capito, she announced Monday her intentions to
run for Jay Rockefeller`s seat. Now, Jay Rockefeller may not run for
reelection.

ARI MELBER: Right.

O`DONNELL: He`s about 75 years old, I think, but she in a poll in
West Virginia, very troubling poll for Senator Rockefeller in August was
leading him 48 to 44. A very bad poll for an incumbent to be in that
situation against the congressman. And the Republicans are saying she`s
not conservative enough.

MELBER: Right.

O`DONNELL: Give us some on more conservative who will be very easy
for Jay Rockefeller to beat.

MELBER: Yes.

(laughter)

MELBER: Yeah. I mean this is - this is fascinating, it hasn`t been
national news yet, but I think you`re actually right to spotlight it.

O`DONNELL: But just at this moment. Because it became national news.

MELBER: Are we on national television?

O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes.

MELBER: And it so fascinating, because number one, the culture war is
over. It`s over because we won. Tolerant people won. Liberal people won.
Women won. The culture war is over. And what you see is a challenge to
people like Capito, who basically on a lot of other non-culture war issues,
outside of the area of choice, abortion and some of these issues, pretty
normal conservatives and the Tea Party, which claimed to be so obsessed
with deficits now, is starting to flirt with these other litmus tests. It
is true, the Club for Growth also doesn`t like her because of the bailouts
and some of those things, but look, if they want to keep doing this to
themselves, they are going to continue to undermine people who, as you
point out, are politically strong. Rockefeller`s a big name in West
Virginia. When you are up four points against Rockefeller without having
started the campaign ...

O`DONNELL: Yes.

MELBER: You`d be in a good place.

O`DONNELL: And so, Jim DeMint comes out and says, you know, we can`t
support her. Do they know that West Virginia hasn`t elected a Republican
to the Senate in about 4,000 years? Robert Byrd has the other Democratic
seat there for my entire life time. It`s - what do they think they are
going to elect in West Virginia?

MELBER: Yeah. No, that`s the question, right. And then it`s very
frustrating for them because they feel West Virginia is naturally
conservative. And yet has had this legacy Democrats in there. What they
have is a Washington establishment that thinks fundamentally, it knows
better than the conservative grassroots.

O`DONNELL: Saxby Chambliss who is saying he doesn`t care about the
Grover Norquist pledge, is now provoking this kind of talk about him, we
have people saying he needs to be challenged, absolutely. It`s -- who do
they think they can run and win more conservative than Saxby Chambliss?

MELBER: I don`t know, but I mean that sort of reminds me of like a
magical realist novel framework, what happens to people when they have no
memory? What happens to a society that has no memory? The Republican
society today, the establishment society ...

O`DONNELL: What kind of memory doesn`t work from like a week ago?

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Can`t remember ...

MELBER: Well, they came over a week ago and they can`t remember the
Bush era, because, of course, they grew the deficits. And now you have the
other thing in the Politico article about this topic, was saying well,
Capito was for the Patriot Act and that really upsets some of the hard core
conservatives. Well, every Republican senator voted for the Patriot Act.
So, I`m fine with criticizing the Patriot Act. I`m fine with the ones who
are really, truly libertarian, but you can`t be truly libertarian and then
also ignore everything that`s come before you.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber, the closer gets tonight`s last word. "The Ed
Show" is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.


END

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