updated 11/30/2012 11:40:32 AM ET 2012-11-30T16:40:32

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
November 29, 2012

Guests: Howard Dean, Ana Marie Cox, Eugene Robinson, Sally Fields


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Another day, and the Republicans have made
absolutely no progress in trying to force President Obama to do what they
want him to do. And no, sending Mitt Romney to lunch at the White House
today didn`t help.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Congress has just 10 legislative days
before going off a cliff.

THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC ANCHOR: The political theater over the fiscal
cliff.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: Mr. Obama sends his chief negotiator.

ROBERTS: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

TODD: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

ROBERTS: Who was on Capitol Hill right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reaching out to Capitol Hill.

JANSING: The push is on to get a deal.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No substantive
progress has been made in the talks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No progress, literally no progress.

BOEHNER: Between the White House and the House.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Bad news, bad news, bad news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the moment of posturing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of posturing.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR: They`re just twiddling around the
edges right now.

WAGNER: Until we hear good news.

ROBERTS: The framework of the deal is beginning to emerge.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ll do whatever it
takes to get this done.

BOEHNER: We have a debt crisis.

OBAMA: I`ll go anywhere and I`ll do whatever it takes.

BOEHNER: All eyes on the White House.

STEELE: They`re going to get right up to cliff on New Year`s Eve.
We`re all going to be hugging cliff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s like when a fish show starts. The crowd --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope nobody catches that reference.

BOEHNER: All eyes on the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Together again.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: What`s his name?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Table for two.

COLBERT: Don`t help me, don`t help me.

ROBERTS: Mr. Romney goes to Washington.

TODD: Mitt Romney makes his way to the White House.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: The political power lunch of 2012.

TODD: It`s not exactly the way he wanted to get there.

MITCHELL: President Obama and Mitt Romney meeting for the first time,
privately.

JANSING: When we say private, we mean private.

TODD: No cameras.

JANSING: No cameras allowed.

TODD: No staff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To move forward and have a lunch. It`s weird.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s really no agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s weird!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s really to bury the hatchet.

TODD: Mitt Romney comes to Washington.

ROBERTS: Guess whose coming to lunch?

COLBERT: Rip flamba (ph).

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: We are now 33 days away from the fiscal curb, and
Democrats are telling Republicans that it`s their move.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We are not going to
negotiate with us. We have made a proposal through the president of the
United States. That proposal said we should revert back to the same tax
plan that we had when Clinton was president.

You can`t get from here to there unless you raise the upper rates.
And that`s what the president suggested. It`s up to them to come forward
with something else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The day after Boehner loyalist Tom Cole, Republican
congressman from Oklahoma, said that the House should simply take up the
bill that the Democrats passed in the Senate that would raise income taxes
only on the top income tax brackets, another senior Republican lawmaker who
asked not to be identified this time told "Reuters" that the Democratic
bill could pass in the House of Representatives if John Boehner would allow
such a bill to be brought to the House floor for a vote.

Here is Boehner speaking about the president earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: Members of his own party seem quite comfortable with sending
the economy over the fiscal cliff. No substantive progress has been made
in the talks between the White House and the House over the last two weeks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Speaker Boehner doesn`t want to propose spending cuts, so
now he`s trying to pressure the White House to do it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: There`s been no serious discussion of spending cuts so far.
And unless there is, there`s a real danger of going off the fiscal cliff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A reporter asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about
Speaker Boehner`s comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: He says that Democrats have got to get serious about cuts,
spending cuts. Where is the disconnect then?

REID: I don`t understand his brain, so you should ask him. OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And, of course, another day, more Republicans dumping
Grover Norquist.

Among Nebraska and Iowa Republicans, most of them told the "World
Herald" this week they could support a broad budget agreement, even if the
deal ends up including higher tax revenues. "I won`t have a problem with
letting those tax rates go up," Representative Mike Simpson said to
"Reuters".

But New York Congressman Chris Gibson found the most creative way out
of his relationship with Grover. His spokesman released a statement
reading, "The congressman signed the pledge as a candidate in 2010 for the
20th congressional district. Congressman Gibson doesn`t plan to re-sign it
for the 19th congressional district, which he now represents. The pledge
is to your constituents of a numbered district."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We`re very happy with any rationale
that helps Republicans accept decoupling of the Bush tax cuts. And so
Speaker Boehner this morning said there`s no progress. But all you have to
do is just listen to what`s happening out there. And you know there is
progress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: I think when we listen to what`s happening out there is
the sound of panic. Chris Hayes bursting into applause for Congressman
Gibson --

CHRIS HAYES, "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES" HOST: Brilliantly done. With
Jesuitical precision.

O`DONNELL: Yes. That was for the 19th congressional, not the 20th
congressional. But --

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: Isn`t it kind of like breaking up with someone
by changing your phone number?

O`DONNELL: It`s something like that.

But, Joy, they`re running away from Grover. And now Republicans
afraid -- are afraid of doing something they always loved to do. Propose
spending cuts. They`re saying to Democrats, we`re your spending cuts. And
the Democrats are saying, you know, if you want spending cuts, you`re going
to have to tell us what you want.

REID: Yes, I mean, I just smell abject fear almost in the Republican
caucus right now. It`s interesting. Lawrence, today, I decided to look up
-- looking at the recent campaign, OK? The National Republican
Congressional Committee that raises money for House Republicans and the
Democratic House -- the DCCC.

Do you realize that it was something like 40 percent of the Democratic
money was raised from small donors, people over $200, and for Republicans
it was like 8 percent?

HAYES: Right.

REID: So Republicans are far more reliant on big donors, very wealthy
people, even though Democrats have rich donors too. So, they`ve got on the
one hand, these very rich donors saying you need to hold the line on my
taxes. But, on the other hand, when they go home to their districts, the
people, the actual people in their district are saying, why are you holding
up my tax cuts just for the rich?

So they`re being pulled in two different directions and it`s got to be
excruciating. And if they were to then add to that proposing cutting
funding for school lunches and things like that, how do you win in that
situation?

HAYES: I mean, and then on top of that is the fact that we had this
entire campaign in which both major parties attempted to convince voters
that the other major party wanted to take a hatchet to Medicare. That --
that`s what they wanted to do. Now the election is over. And we`re
getting together to do the deal, and it`s like -- so do you want to tell
them we`re going to cut Medicare? No, you tell them we`re going to cut
Medicare.

This is its thing -- nobody wants to cut Medicare and everybody on
Capitol Hill is trying to figure out who is going to break it to the
American people.

O`DONNELL: And as that goes on, we have a poll coming out today just
how much the American people don`t want them to be doing that stuff. The
one thing the American people are certain about is, yes, let those top tax
brackets go up.

REID: Exactly. And Republicans think this, too. You know, maybe
it`s not a majority but something in the 40s. I mean, those rates are
going up. And I think Republicans understand it.

I think a lot of what you`re hearing, including from John Boehner, is
this posturing you have to do to make sure you can still raise money,
obviously, as we were just saying. But at the same time, you`ve got to
believe that he understands deep down, those rates are going up one way or
another. If they can`t come to an agreement, all the rates will go up. I
still think that`s what Boehner would prefer.

HAYES: When we had the lame duck Bush tax cut extension, which
frustrated a lot of people, myself included, a lot of people on this
network, OK?

Afterwards, if you would talk to someone from the White House, they
would say, no, no, no. Don`t -- we`ve got this. We`ve got it all set up
now, because it`s going to all expire at the same time and we`re going to
have all the leverage because they`re going to expire. We`re going to have
the leverage.

I was skeptical of that. But I think it is true from a negotiating
standpoint, they really do have the leverage. You have people saying, oh,
walk away. Don`t even talk to them.

We shouldn`t even -- that`s fine. Go ahead. Don`t talk to them. All
the rates go up.

O`DONNELL: Do you know who says walk away and don`t talk to them?
Rush Limbaugh.

Legislative strategist Rush Limbaugh. Let`s hear from him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: So what is the leverage that the
Republicans have? To my mind, the only leverage they`ve got is to walk
away from this. To stop playing, to stop talking, to stop playing this
game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And you have just heard the stupidest legislative
strategist of all-time. That would be absolutely fine. You walk away.
Democrats get higher tax rates, pretty much everything.

I actually thought, Chris -- when this deal was done two years ago, I
went on that night saying I thought it was an absolutely great deal, under
the circumstances. I thought it was the absolutely best deal the president
could get.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: I think we`re seeing it now. He does, in fact, have all
the leverage here.

REID: Totally. You know what I have to say, I was so surprised that
Republicans voted for that sequester. I`m thinking to myself, there`s got
to be a catch here. They just voted essentially -- if they can`t get
anything done, which this Congress can never get anything done --

O`DONNELL: But they`re bet was -- the reason they voted for it is
they voted for a law that they firmly believed would never occur.

REID: Exactly.

O`DONNELL: That`s how they voted for it.

HAYES: Let me just say this, though. It is still an open question
how the leverage plays out and you can see the contours of a deal in which
if the president`s chief priority is short term stimulus -- because this is
exactly the thing that happened two years ago, the president`s chief
priority is start term stimulus, the Republicans` chief priority is
protecting tax rates in the top, those two things can be done at the same
time. It`s not very good for the long-term deficit.

REID: Right.

HAYES: But as I always say, no one actually cares about the deficit.

O`DONNELL: Right.

The -- there`s a report out tonight that Tim Geithner made a
fascinating proposal to Boehner today which is basically get Congress out
of the debt ceiling game. Mr. Geithner proposed permanently ending
congressional purview over the federal borrowing limit. Republican aides
revealed this. He said that Congress could be allowed to pass a resolution
blocking an increase in the debt limit, but that the president would be
able to veto that resolution. And so then only a two-thirds -- two-thirds
of lawmakers would be necessary to override a veto.

Put it -- put basically, the debt ceiling into presidential veto land,
as a spot where they would have influence. They will not go along with
this. It is a brilliant and correct idea.

REID: It`s a brilliant idea. And I think the fact that we`re
actually hearing Democrats talk about the Fourteenth Amendment solution,
saying, you know, the debt limit is unconstitutional in and maybe we`ll go
there, and the fact we`re actually hearing there is it discussion of
putting the debt limit in this deal --

HAYES: Yes.

REID: -- just shows you how much leverage Democrats have, and how
essentially Boehner has none.

O`DONNELL: Well, also, the president has the tremendous leverage also
politically that they know of not -- of not only not facing re-election,
having to deal with this in the re-election campaign environment, but
having just come off a serious Electoral College win.

HAYES: Yes. And I think -- I mean, it`s kind of remarkable the
change in tone. And it`s not -- it`s not the kind of abject capitulation
that one might expect. Or one might think might be warranted by what the
voter said at the polls.

But it is a modulation in tone that has been completely absent during
the entirety of the first four years. There was almost nothing like this,
even from day one when the president was sworn in, the first time around.
We are seeing at least a little bit of an acknowledgment that they are on
the wrong side of the majority of the American public on these key issues.

O`DONNELL: Joy, the -- my sense of what`s going on here is that
you`re really seeing shadow boxing. That Boehner knows, there is nothing I
can do. We`re going to have to go off the curb for my members to
understand where we really are. We`re going to have to have one week of
the United States of America operating under higher tax brackets, higher
withholding, on take home pay. And then I`ll be able to talk some sense to
them.

And from the president`s side of it, going off the cliff, the curb,
just gives him the tax rates he wants at the top and then you just have to
adjust down from that.

REID: I agree. And I think people should generally ignore what
Boehner is saying and the way he`s saying it, because I totally agree with
you. I think that Boehner right now -- he can`t humiliate his caucus,
right? He can`t come out and publicly admit, look, we`re beaten. He`s got
to still talk the Tea Party talk to the extent they have any power left.

O`DONNELL: Right. But he lets Tom Cole go out there and tell the
truth.

REID: Right.

O`DONNELL: That is a Boehner authorized mission, Cole going out
there.

REID: Totally agree.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes and Joy Reid, thank you both for your joining
me tonight. Chris Hayes` show is "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES", the best thing you
can do early weekend mornings, 8:00 a.m. on MSNBC. Thank you for joining
me tonight.

REID: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Howard Dean on how the Democrats should handle
budget negotiations with Republicans. What should be on and what should be
off the table.

And two-time Oscar winner, Sally Field is here. She`s on her way to a
third Oscar with her performance in "Lincoln". But the acceptance speech
you`ll want to see is what she had to say about her son when she received
an award this year from the Human Rights Campaign.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, another unarmed black teenage boy is
shot dead in Florida. And yes, the shooter now claims he was standing his
ground. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the most awkward lunch of the year, President Obama
broke bread with Mitt Romney today. Gene Robinson and Ana Marie Cox join
me to discuss how and why such things happen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: The framework is -- has been agreed to in terms of really a
down payment on the end of this year. That would include spending cuts,
and it would include revenue, setting up a process for entitlement reform
next year, and tax reform next year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: But you know who doesn`t want entitlement reform in?
Voters -- Democratic voters, independent voters, and yes, Republican
voters.

"The Washington Post"/ABC News poll asked voters about raising the
Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, a proposal that has been floated by
Republicans in Congress. Sixty-seven percent of people oppose raising the
Medicare eligibility age, including 71 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of
independents, and 68 percent of Republicans. Sixty-eight percent of
Republican voters oppose a Medicare reform proposal being floated by
congressional Republicans.

Governor Howard Dean, here are the Republicans trying to force the
Democrats to go first with spending cut proposals, specifically because of
that poll. They are now afraid of the politics of spending cuts that
they`ve been pushing for so long.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Well, it`s a ridiculous idea to go
from 65 to 67. First of all, you don`t save that much money.

Second of all, the Obama health care bill is very weak on taking care
of seniors, because they can charge three times as much for seniors as they
can for younger people. So that just gives seniors two more years to pay
three times as much as younger people if they have to go to private
insurance.

Third, Medicare is the only universal program we have, and it`s got
the lowest administrative costs of any program we have in health care. So
this is a really foolish idea. And I hope it disappears.

I am not against doing some cost control on Medicare. But you don`t
have to cut entitlements. What you do have to do is pay by the patient,
not by the procedure.

O`DONNELL: As we know, there are so many people when they get to 59,
61, 62, who are just desperately waiting for that Medicare eligibility
moment, because costs have gotten completely out of control, and I have
known plenty of people who go insurance-less for a couple of years, hoping
nothing happens.

DEAN: I know a guy personally who had to put a hip replacement off
and was -- eventually ended up on crutches and in a wheelchair until he
turned 65. And if he had to wait until 67, it would be two more years in
that condition.

This is a terrible idea. There may be ways to save money on Medicare.
I think there are. This is a really bad one.

O`DONNELL: My sense of what`s going on here is that nothing is going
on here, is that John Boehner knows we`re going to go off the curb on
January 1st, the Democrats and the president know, it`s inevitable we go
off the curb. But as responsible men of government, they can`t look like
they want to. So --

DEAN: Here`s the deal -- I make the argument that going off -- as you
call it, the curb, I call it the slope, the press calls it the cliff -- is
actually the best deal progressive Democrats are going to get.

O`DONNELL: Absolutely.

DEAN: And here`s why. One, we get the Clinton tax rates on
everybody. Will it cause a problem? Yes. There will be a short recession
and it will be painful.

But two, we get defense cuts. Republicans are never going to agree to
that. And three, there are some human services cuts which we`re not going
to like, but it`s the least possible damage.

Now what do we get in exchange? A serious down payment of the
deficit.

The Wall Street people who are wringing their hands about this are
really full of it, because what they`re going to see is a big drop on Wall
Street while the hype comes, and then it`s going to come roaring back
because finally somebody has done something serious about the deficit.

So I think the fiscal curb as you call it is actually the best deal
that progressive Democrats are going to get and I think it`s the best deal
in the long run, not the short run. But the long run to the American
people.

O`DONNELL: I think if we did go off, as I kind of expect we will,
that Congress, though, will not accept your view of look at the long-term
benefits of most of this package. Yes, there`s some things we don`t like
in it, but most of the package is beneficial. And they will take some kind
of action. They would immediately go into action and try to do something
about the top -- about the other tax brackets below the top, and then
that`s when the discussion on spending cuts would really get engaged.

DEAN: I agree with that. And it gives the president a little more
leverage, because first of all, he`s got his top rate that he wants.

Second of all, he doesn`t have to engage in some hocus pocus about,
quote/unquote, "entitlement reform," a phrase I hate. These are things
people have paid for up front. What we`re trying to do is control the
costs and we should do that.

But cutting the benefits is a bad idea. We don`t have to do that in
order to save money on Medicare. We can do that by changing the way we pay
for it.

O`DONNELL: And what the Republicans are trying to do is join the
spending discussion to the tax discussion. And if you go off the curb, you
don`t have to do that.

DEAN: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: The rates are taken care. Now you guys want to talk about
defense cuts, OK, let`s talk about what these other issues over here that
we care about.

DEAN: And that`s the key, Lawrence, as you know from your long years
of doing this kind of stuff in Washington. The key is, once you get the on
-- once you get the so-called cliff or the curb off to the side, then the
Republicans have to pay for their tax cuts. That`s why we`re in this mess
in the first place.

Sixty percent, according to the CBO, by 2019 -- 60 percent of the
deficit is caused by the Bush tax cuts that were never paid for. Now we
have an opportunity to go back and do that right. I want -- if there are
going to be tax cuts for the middle class, they have to be paid for.

O`DONNELL: But what I sort of want the audience to understand, so
much of what they`re looking at now is fear. The president or Boehner,
none of those people can say, you know what, it`s OK with me if we don`t
make a deal. It`s OK if we go off the cliff.

And so they have to look like we`re working at this every day.

DEAN: Think about it this way. We`ve already made a deal.

O`DONNELL: Yes, we have, that`s right.

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: The Democrats -- not only does it do a great job reducing the
deficit, this is the only serious deficit reduction package that`s ever
come out of Congress. Not only does it do a great job, but frankly, from a
progressive Democratic point of view, we`ve got two out of the three things
we wanted. That`s a pretty good deal.

O`DONNELL: Absolutely. Governor Howard Dean, thank you very much for
joining me tonight.

DEAN: Thanks for having me on.

O`DONNELL: Next, the Romney tattoo guy is going to get the tattoo
removed. But make no mistake about it. He`s still crazy.

And later, two-time Oscar winner Sally Field will join me to talk
about another important award she received from the Human Rights Campaign,
and her role in Steven Spielberg`s latest masterpiece, "Lincoln."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HARTSBURG, MICHIGAN CITY, INDIANA: I worked the Republican
Party. I worked the election poll since I was about 22 years old. I knew
some guy -- I knew a guy, here we are now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long will you keep the tattoo?

HARTSBURG: For the rest of my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?

HARTSBURG: About, I don`t know, 60, 70 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Well, that was then and this is now. And now, of course,
the Romney tattoo guy has come to his senses, sort. He now intends to have
the tattoo lasered off, because as he told "Politico", "It stands not only
for a losing campaign, but for a sore loser. He`s pretty shameful, as far
as I`m concerned, man. There`s no dignity in blaming somebody else for
buying votes and paying off people. I can`t get behind that or stay behind
that."

The guy was actually paid $15,000 to put the Romney tattoo on his face
after he auctioned off the space on his face on eBay. The removal process
will take about a year, whereupon, he intends to offer what`s left of his
face to the highest bidder on eBay once again.

The guy`s shrink remains in hiding and could not be reached for
comment.

Coming up, Mitt Romney took one of those Barack Obama gifts today,
free food provided by the government, but he didn`t need food stamps to get
it. Mitt`s big and final moment at the White House.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president of the United
States is having lunch as we speak with Governor Romney. It`s a private
lunch. And we`re going to leave it at that. I haven`t looked at the menu.
But I bet it was and is quite tasty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, President Obama bestows one
final election gift. And this time, Mitt Romney is the recipient. At half
past Noon today, the winner and loser of this year`s presidential election
caught the holiday spirit, let bygones be bygones and ate white turkey
chili and southwestern grilled chicken salad during a, quote, "friendly
lunch together."

According to the official White House report, "Governor Romney
congratulated the president for the success of his campaign and wished him
well over the coming four years. They pledged to stay in touch,
particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in
the future."

Before his lunch date, Mitt Romney met with the most recent losing
vice presidential candidate who will never be president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How was your meeting with Mr. Ryan today? Was
it nice to see him?

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Great friend. Good
to be with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good to be with him?

ROMNEY: Always great to see Paul Ryan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today`s hatchet burying ceremony between the president and
Mitt Romney is not unprecedented. In 2008, then President Elect Obama met
with John McCain at the Obama campaign Chicago`s headquarters. Vice
President Al Gore and George W. Bush had a private meeting after Gore
officially conceded the election. And President Clinton gave the defeated
Bob Dole a Presidential Medal of Freedom just days before the second
Clinton inauguration.

Other rivals weren`t as conciliatory. Herbert Hoover and Franklin D.
Roosevelt reportedly sat in silence for most of the car ride to FDR`s
inauguration. Walter Mondale told "Politico" that he and Ronald Reagan
never sat down for this kind of conversation. And a former aide to John
Kerry told "Politico" that Kerry and George W. Bush never spoke to one
another after John Kerry conceded the election.

Joining me now, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for "the Washington
Post" and MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson, and Ana Marie Cox, a
political correspondent for "The Guardian."

Ana Marie, we have all -- well, I won`t speak for you. I have -- I
have more than once, I think, said we will keep in touch, let`s keep in
touch, to someone I did not then keep in touch with. I don`t think I`ve
ever been as phony about it, though, as these two guys today promising to
stay in touch with each other after lunch.

ANA MARIE COX, "THE GUARDIAN": Yeah. It was probably -- I`ve heard
some people say the most awkward conversation Mitt Romney has had since his
last conversation. You know, for what it`s worth, like, I don`t think that
either of them really want to stay in touch. I mean, the whole thing was a
symbolic gesture. And I think we can say it is a classy move to do this.
It is something that is -- it`s -- even if it`s purely symbolic, sometimes
we need the symbolism. Sometimes we need to say, especially after
Thanksgiving, when we might have all had our own versions of this awkward
conversation, that this can happen. You know?

I mean, as long as Obama doesn`t use any of Mitt Romney`s ideas, I`m
OK with them visiting with each other.

O`DONNELL: Gene Robinson, Mitt Romney hasn`t returned my call about
what happened. Has President Obama returned your call about what happened?

EUGENE ROBINSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": You know, neither guy is
picking up the phone. I don`t quite know why. You know, you imagine at
the end of that lunch, Romney giving Obama business card that he somehow
misplaces. You know? That phone number, I just -- I had it here
somewhere.

But as Ana Marie said, it is nice. This is totally fake. This is
nothing but a veneer, a sheen, but it`s kind of nice that they did it.

O`DONNELL: It is nice. And I just will -- one note of seriousness
here, it is a great photograph to be seen around the world, that this is
the way we conduct elections in this country.

ROBINSON: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And no shots are fired. It`s all about that orderly and
sensible and peaceable transition we have. It`s a very good entry in that.
The -- the real meeting that Romney did have in Washington today was with
Paul Ryan, who doesn`t seem to quite yet realize his place in history. We
have a big board here that shows all of the recent losing vice presidential
candidates going all the way back to Henry Cabot Lodge, which is to say
during the television age, not one of them has ever made it to the
presidency.

And we don`t yet have the new one with Paul Ryan on it, but he will
very shortly take his position right up there beside Sarah Palin on the big
board. And Ana Marie Cox, he has quite a battle with history to fight if
he thinks he has a national political future after losing on the vice
presidential slot, doesn`t he?

COX: Facts didn`t really matter in the campaign, so I`m not sure why
you think they`re going to matter to him now. I mean, his understanding of
why they lost is so ludicrous, you know, he probably doesn`t understand
that he can`t win either.

But I would like to see Paul Ryan go into, as he said, the urban areas
and try to convert some voters there. I think that maybe with his backward
baseball cap, he could really, you know, work that angle. What do you
think, Gene?

ROBINSON: You know, I think Paul Ryan is a really ambitious guy. I
totally agree with Lawrence. He`s not going to be president. But I think
he`s going to give it a shot. And it will be interesting to see how far he
moves away from the Paul Ryan that voters came to know and not particularly
love of this campaign, versus the Paul Ryan, whoever that is, that he tries
to become in the next four years. But I think he`s going to be in there.

O`DONNELL: Now Stuart Stevens, who ran the campaign for Romney, was
on television this morning saying he thinks -- you know, now that he thinks
of it, they should have done a better job trying to reach out to minorities
and to women. He thinks maybe reaching out to women in a better way is
good.

Let`s take a look at the Republican convention and how they reached
out to women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: I love you women!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So Ana Marie, what? What did they leave out? What is
Stewart Stevens talking about?

COX: Well, you know, I do feel loved. So that`s something. But I
don`t feel respected or that my needs are met or that my rights are really
paid attention to. I think the republican party is having to learn the
hard way that you -- that saying -- much as boyfriends have to learn
sometimes, saying you love somebody doesn`t mean a lot unless you follow it
up with some action.

And their policies are what women paid attention to. What they said
and the kind of people they put up there maybe helped a little bit on some
level. I mean, there are some really great success stories in the
Republican party for women. I`m not going to take away from that. But
when you have a party that is so dedicated, you know, to sort of not -- to
repealing some of the progress that we`ve made as women, you know, women
see that. And they vote for the other guy.

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

ROBINSON: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, two-time Oscar winner Sally Fields joins me to
talk about her new film, "Lincoln," and her commitment to the continued
advance of gay rights.

And in the Rewrite, once again, Florida`s Stand Your Ground Law is
being invoked this week in defense of a white man who killed an unarmed
black teenager.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Another angry white man in Florida has stood his ground in
the face of an imagined threat. And another black 17-year-old high school
junior who did nothing wrong is dead. I first heard this story on Monday
morning on my flight back to New York after the Thanksgiving holiday. The
flight attendant who told me about it, a faithful viewer of this program,
will be attending Jordan Davis` funeral and burial on Saturday.

Last Friday, the day after Jordan Davis led his family`s Thanksgiving
prayer for the first time in his young life, he was sitting in the back
seat of his friend`s car, parked outside a convenience store in
Jacksonville, Florida, while another friend was in the store buying gum and
soda. The kids had the music in their parked car jacked up pretty loud.
And that is why Jordan Davis is being buried this weekend.

Parked beside them was 45-year-old Michael Dunn, who had just come
from his son`s wedding, where he admits to having had only a couple of
drinks. It`s safe to say this guy and Jordan Davis had different tastes in
music.

Michael Dunn decided he had the authority to tell the kids to turn
down the volume. The kids did what most kids would do, and what I
certainly would have done, under the circumstances, nothing. They didn`t
turn down the volume for the suddenly self-appointed volume cop of
Jacksonville, Florida.

So Michael Dunn, who was waiting, I think we can say impatiently, for
his girlfriend to return to the car with some more wine, took out his
handgun and started shooting. He fired eight bullets at the four kids in
the car. Like most amateur cops, he completely missed his target with six
of those bullets. The other two hit Jordan, who was sitting in the middle
of the back seat.

Michael Dunn didn`t behave in a very cop-like way after that. He
immediately fled the scene. The kids quickly piled out of their car,
realizing they weren`t injured, and looked back to see Jordan slumped alone
in the back seat.

A witness got Michael Dunn`s plate number and gave it to police, who
tracked him down 173 miles away from the shooting the next day and arrested
him. Yesterday, he was formally charged with murder in the second degree
of Jordan Davis, and the attempted murder of the other kids in the car.

His lawyer told reporters yesterday that she is considering using
Florida`s Stand Your Ground Law as a defense. And of course, his lawyer
knows that the law doesn`t say you can stand your ground against loud music
and shoot and kill kids who refuse to turn down the volume. So now that
Michael Dunn has a lawyer, he now has a story.

And his story is, as told through his lawyer, that he thought he saw a
shotgun in the car, and felt his life was threatened. But he didn`t feel
his life was threatened enough to call the police after being in a shootout
with dangerous kids who had a shotgun and were still on the loose,
according to his story, a story that he and his lawyer surely will be
rewriting as they approach trial.

The police say the kids did not have a gun. The killer`s lawyer has
offered this clever counter to the police. "How hard did they look?"

The lawyer says the kids could have thrown away their shotgun, even
though they did not leave the scene, and they and their car were searched
by the police. After Michael Dunn killed Jordan Davis, he behaved exactly
the way a hitman would behave. He fled the scene like a guilty murderer, a
guilty murderer who may have had a few too many drinks.

Last week, Jordan Davis was very excited about landing a job at
McDonald`s. On Friday night, his parents got the call that no parent can
bear to even imagine. Jordan`s father was notified about the shooting
first. And then he had to call his ex-wife, Jordan`s mother, and tell her
what happened to their son, the boy they`ve loved for 17 years, the boy
they were eagerly watching become a man.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUCIA MCBATH, JORDAN DAVIS` MOTHER: And he said -- he said Jordan`s
dead. And I`m just -- I just lost it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: When two time Oscar winner Sally Field accepted an award
from the Human Rights Campaign a few weeks ago, she was lovingly introduced
to the crowd by her son, Sam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SALLY FIELD, OSCAR WINNING ACTRESS: Nature made Sam. It wasn`t a
choice. He was always, always Sam, glorious, smart, funny, sweet Sam. And
finally at 20, long after he beat the crap out of his brothers at tennis
and he knew more than anyone about basketball -- at 20, he was finally able
to stand up proudly and say "I am a gay man."

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: This weekend at your neighborhood theater, you can see
Sally Fields playing a very protective mother.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIELDS: You think I`m ignorant of what you`re up to because you
haven`t discussed this even with this (inaudible). When I have ever been
so easily bamboozled. I believe you when you insist that amending the
Constitution and abolishing slavery will end this war.

And since you are sending my son into the war, woe on to you if you
fail to pass the amendment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stuart doesn`t want me leaving big muddy
footprints all over town.

FIELDS: No one has ever lived who knows better than you the proper
placement of footballs on (inaudible). Stewart can`t do it. You must.
Because if you fail to acquire the necessary votes, woe unto you, sir. You
will answer to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Sally, in your parenting discussions --

FIELDS: Yes.

O`DONNELL: -- with Abraham Lincoln in this movie, I found myself in
complete sympathy with both sides of that scene. I mean, here you were.
You had lost a child already. You couldn`t bear --

FIELDS: She had actually lost two.

O`DONNELL: Lost two?

FIELDS: One was in the White House, one was long before the White
House.

O`DONNELL: And she says very plainly, you just couldn`t survive and
wouldn`t be able to bear the loss of another child.

FIELDS: Yes, yes, yes. She knew very well. And he knew. He was
frightened of her emotionality and how hard it was for her to recover when
Willy, her 11 year old son, died in the White House. She almost didn`t
make it herself. She went to bed and wailed and moaned and carried on and
wouldn`t get out of bed for weeks and weeks.

And finally brought her to the window of that very room and said, look
out there. That`s the insane asylum. If you don`t get up, I`m going to
put you in it. And it kind of got her up, because she would get angry and
that drove her.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

FIELDS: But then, in reality, she did get up and she went to help the
soldiers. She went and started visiting the soldiers more, and the young,
wounded and, you know, mutilated boys. She helped them and they helped
her. But she was really never able to mother Tad, the youngest child, ever
really again. She tried harder after he was gone.

But in reality, I didn`t do much research after the film ends and
after we see the last of my darling, Mr. Lincoln, because I couldn`t afford
to know what happened to her, because it was really tragic.

O`DONNELL: And she`s very -- there`s of course the one son who wants
to go off to war, as young men in that situation and that era would. And
his mother, you, were saying, absolutely not; he cannot go off to war. Abe
Lincoln reluctantly comes around to the view that we`re going to have to
let him go, after a very sharp confrontation with his son about it.

(CROSS TALK)

O`DONNELL: Yes, you can see the traps that both of these parents are
in.

FIELDS: Yeah. Yeah. And the two-parenting people -- the two sides
of this coin that came together that became Abraham Lincoln, I mean, she
carried all the emotionality and he carried -- he didn`t show any of it,
but in some ways he handed it over to her a lot. And she felt everything
that he wouldn`t allow himself to feel.

You do see that in relationships, where one person is the one that
feels everything. And then the other person doesn`t really feel
responsible for having to feel all the pains and angers. And that was
Mary`s role.

O`DONNELL: So Martin Ritt directs you in "Norma Ray" to an Oscar.
Robert Benton writes and directs you to your next Oscar. Steven Spielberg
has directed you certainly to a nomination here. You`re going to have a
very busy award season.

FIELDS: Well, I don`t know that. And I -- you know, I don`t -- thank
you. But I can`t -- hardly --

O`DONNELL: Are you embarrassed at the moment? A little?

FIELDS: Well, because I can`t really respond to that. In reality,
the gift is, you know, having the opportunity to do this work, to tell this
story, to stand across from Daniel, and to work with the brilliant amazing
master, Steven, with Tony Kushner`s exquisite words. So it`s like I had
died and gone to heaven. For me, that`s enough.

O`DONNELL: Let`s talk about your big night, a big acceptance speech
night this year with your son, Human Rights Campaign. What was that like
to be introduced on to the stage in a loving way by your son to an audience
that loves you?

FIELDS: I have two-fold feeling here. First of all, it was very hard
for me to do that. And I was reluctant to do it for a very long time,
because I feel it`s Sam`s business and not mine and not mine to talk about
writing in on anything that`s mine. It`s not. It`s his.

And he wanted me to do it. And then when they asked him to present
me, I thought, oh, no, no. This can`t be right. No, no, no. And he
wanted to do that. But after I -- after I have this conversation with you,
I`m going to try not to talk about it much of anymore.

O`DONNELL: OK.

FIELDS: Because, you know, then I`m doing exactly what I didn`t want
to do. You know, I`m -- I don`t want to talk about -- I have three sons.
Their sexuality has got to be their business. And if any of the other two
are listening, they`re going, oh, Jesus, God in heaven, mother, please
don`t talk anymore.

And Sam, he deserves that respect as well. But he wanted to do this.
He feels very a part of this campaign, of this movement for equal rights.
It`s a human rights campaign. And it is that. And I really wanted to
speak out because I have a very specific story, I think, that hadn`t been
told.

And I am outraged for the families that cannot learn from their
children something that perhaps they`re rigidly holding on to from the
past, that their children might be able to help them learn, that nature has
given these young people, you know -- this was not Sam`s choice. This is
what nature did.

And he is gloriously Sam. I wouldn`t change one ounce of him. And
the families that can`t embrace this and help their children embrace
themselves, who shut themselves not only their hearts but homes, is
unforgivable to me. It`s absolutely unforgivable. Because here it`s a
crisis time in these young lives when they`re trying to sort out who they
are. It`s hard under the best of circumstances.

But you add this extra ingredient of society`s approval or
disapproval, and then they have no place to go. I`m sorry. That`s not
right. That`s -- and so I spoke out.

O`DONNELL: You spoke out. And the campaign recognized that, and
awarded you the award as a result. You know, we`re wrapping up now. Can
we get a two-shot? We have a two-shot. We share a fan.

FIELDS: We do.

O`DONNELL: -- in Missouri, who is pretty faithful to this show.

FIELDS: And someone we both adore.

O`DONNELL: And she`s one of the greatest moms and grand moms that we
know.

FIELDS: She is.

O`DONNELL: And I think we should say good night to her tonight.

FIELDS: Yes.

O`DONNELL: We should just look right over there and say good night,
Patty Brock.

FIELDS: Patty Brock, have a good night`s sleep, OK?

O`DONNELL: And Patty, you know what`s up, next, right? "THE ED SHOW"
is next. You could have said it. You didn`t need me to say it.

FIELDS: She did. She did say it. I heard her.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Sally.

FIELDS: Thank you.

END

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