updated 1/15/2013 5:34:13 PM ET 2013-01-15T22:34:13

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
January 14, 2013

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Mayor Cory Booker


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: So, the Republicans are still arguing with
each other about what to put in their ransom note about what to say to
President Obama on the debt ceiling. And today, the president tells them
if they ever do agree on what to put in the ransom note, he wouldn`t even
read it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: President Obama used the final press
conference of the first time.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: The last news conference of his first
term.

MITCHELL: To draw the line on the debt ceiling compromises.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Raising the ceiling
doesn`t authorize more spending.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: The president took direct aim at
Republicans.

MITCHELL: The president clearly came out putting it on the
Republicans.

OBAMA: Republicans in Congress have two choices here, they can act
responsibly.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: This is such a recipe for disaster for
the Republican Party.

OBAMA: Or they can act irresponsibly.

MITCHELL: Where is the Republican Party going?

OBAMA: They better choose quickly because time is running short.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s happening as a game of chicken.

JANSING: But are they willing to see the government shutdown?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Frankly all Republicans have to bargain with.

Yes, they are. Yes, they are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re holding us hostage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are we headed to a shutdown?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: That would be a
financial disaster.

OBAMA: Markets could go haywire. Interest rates would spike.

BOEHNER: Not only for our country, but for the worldwide economy.

OBAMA: Social Security checks and veteran`s benefits will be delayed.

BOEHNER: I don`t think it`s a question that`s even on the table.

OBAMA: Ironically would probably increase our deficit. It`s absurd.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC ANCHOR: The president won`t back down on the
debt ceiling or on gun safety.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: The pressing issue of gun reform.

BASHIR: Exactly one month after the tragedy at Sandy Hook.

OBAMA: If there is a step we can take that will save even one child,
we should take that step.

BASHIR: Gun violence continues to wreak its deadly toll each day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a public health crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a moment to act.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congress is incapable of passing an assault
weapon ban.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These cowards in Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone is totally exasperated by it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can`t public safety in front of self preservation.

OBAMA: What makes sense? What works?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a moment to act.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a promise to turn the conversation into
actions.

OBAMA: If there is a step we can take that will save even one child,
we should take that step.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: The lecturer-in-chief returns to the East Room of the
White House today to explain something to congressional Republicans that
previous presidents have not had to explain to Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I want to be clear about this. The debt ceiling is not a
question of authorizing more spending. Raising the debt ceiling does not
authorize more spending. It simply allows the country to pay for spending
that Congress has already committed to.

These are bills that have already been racked up. And we need to pay
them.

So, while I`m willing to compromise and find common ground over how to
reduce our deficits, America cannot afford another debate with this
Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they`ve already
racked up.

But to even entertain the idea of this happening, of the United States
of America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It is absurd. The full
faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip.
And they had better choose quickly because time is running short.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: House Republicans continued to threaten to use the debt
ceiling as a bargaining chip. House Republican conference chairwoman,
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, told "Politico", "I think it is possible that we
would shut down the government to make sure that President Obama
understands that we`re serious."

Well, I guess that would do it.

"We always talk about whether or not we`re going to kick the can down
the road. I think the mood is that we have come to the end of the road."

What road?

And Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said this
to MSNBC`s Chris Jansing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Let me ask you if you`re willing to shut the government
down?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: We`re looking at all these
options. You know, there is the option of government shutdown. There is
an option of raising the debt ceiling in short-term increments. I think
there is a way to avoid default. If it requires shutting down certain
portions of the government, let`s look at that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In his press conference, President Obama quoted Speaker
John Boehner from 2011.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: That would be a financial disaster, not only for our country
but for the worldwide economy. I don`t think it`s a question that`s even
on the table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And the last question of his press conference, the
president was asked if he might be more successful with some of the nuts
you just heard from if he spent more quality time with them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: You and your staff are too insular, that you don`t
socialize enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: This, of course, is one of the great myths of governing,
that intractable problems, political problems, can somehow be solved over a
card game and a couple of drinks. That has never, ever, ever been the case
and it never will be the case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I like Speaker Boehner personally. And, you know, when we
went out and played golf we had a great time. But that didn`t get a deal
done in 2011.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The president actually had to remind the media that
congressional behavior is the result of democracy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Now, if the American people feel strongly about these issues
and they push hard and they reward, or don`t reward members of Congress
with their votes, if -- you know, if -- if they reject sort of
uncompromising positions or sharp partisanship or always looking out for
the next election and they reward folks who are trying to find common
ground, then I think you`ll see behavior in Congress change. And that will
be true whether I`m the life of the party or a stick in the mud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The life of the party, Krystal, nothing drives me crazier
than this mythological, that geez, you know, if you would just sit down
with the guys, they would drop everything they say.

(CROSSTALK)

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST: It`s the tone and that the lack of civility
that`s the real problem, Lawrence, you know that, right?

O`DONNELL: Yes, listen, I -- working in the Senate, I saw guys who
were great friends, real friends vote against each other in a second. It
doesn`t solve the problem.

BALL: Sure. Sure, I mean, the real dynamic here is the political
calculus that is underlying all of this. I mean, the central problem is
that for House Republicans, it makes all the political electoral sense in
the world for them to be totally unreasonable and go as far right as they
possibly can, because they`re not worried about a general election, they`re
not worried about the center of the country. They are worried about their
right flank, thanks to Newt Gingrich who started it all off, the Club the
Growth and Tea Party, and all these groups that have this infrastructure to
make sure that the Republican Party is totally pure and that primaries
occur frequently.

O`DONNELL: One thing that`s really fun to watch with this president,
Steve, is just how cool he is in handling the questions like this. And
Jackie counts a great reporter, I`m not knocking her for this.

But there is so much naivete in these press conferences that he treats
as absolutely kind of legitimately present. The president knows this as
"Politico" reported after this press conference today.

White House events declined by John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and
Lamar Alexander. They declined to come to a screening of "Lincoln." Tom
Coburn, Olympia Snowe declined White House invitations. Boehner declined
Obama`s invitation to six state dinners that people in Washington dying to
go to one state dinner. Really, senior House and Senate members have never
been to a state dinner, and this list goes on and on.

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON: Yes, let`s -- I think if we could stipulate a
couple of things. One is this basically -- this entire debate that we`re
having, that we`re going to have for the next few months, is basically
based in lunacy. The idea of using --

O`DONNELL: Yes, we can stipulate.

KORNACKI: Start with that, and second, it also represents a dangerous
and a dramatic change in sort of the behavioral norms for congressional
parties. The use of the debt ceiling by the opposition party to demand
specific --

O`DONNELL: Remember, no one knew what it was?

KORNACKI: The good old days.

O`DONNELL: That used to get raised routinely, you know, and it tended
to be a partisan vote, meaning the party that was not in power would vote
against it. Barack Obama voted against it when he had the chance.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: You made a point (INAUDIBLE) now they threaten default.

And, of course, the -- while we`re having all of this, unemployment is
still -- still an intractable problem that is not being addressed. So if
you can stipulate all of that, I see for all of this lunacy, maybe there is
slight progress, you saw it in Cathy McMorris Rodgers and you saw it in
Marsha Blackburn today --

O`DONNELL: What? I just heard them, they sounded nutty. What did I
miss?

KORNACKI: Again, stipulating this is all lunacy --

O`DONNELL: All right.

KORNACKI: -- what I`m about to say is not all that dramatic or
hopeful, but it is something? They`re talking about now a government
shutdown in the continuing resolution. I`m hearing them talk a little bit
more about making their stand along the continuing resolution, which will
expire at the end of March, rather than the debt ceiling default.

So if they make their stand on the debt ceiling default and they mean
it, and we default, that`s catastrophe, that`s overnight, that affects
overnight. If they can move away from that, if they can be moved away from
making that their stand and is continuing resolution, instead, then the
result is a government shutdown, not a good outcome, but not a catastrophic
outcome, and an outcome I think again where polls would suggest the public
would side with Obama and you think of Clinton and Gingrich in the 1990s
and all of that.

So, I think there is this weird pressure campaign from Boehner and all
the business community allies he can get to try to get sort of the crazies
in the Republican Party to think of the continuing resolution as their
Waterloo right now, not so much the debt ceiling.

O`DONNELL: And the continuing resolution is the way we currently fund
government through the budget process. And we`ve had government shutdowns
over that kind of thing before, which is just this re-authorization thing
that tends to take a few days and then they do it. So, we`ve seen that
before. It`s totally different from debt ceiling.

BALL: Right. And I agree with Steve on that point, one area where
Steve has the audacity to disagree with me somewhat, is I actually think
that Republicans looked at the fiscal cliff, I mean, the Senate Democrats
passed the bill, and basically left and said, it`s up to you all now. And
they basically blinked and said we don`t want to go over the cliff.

So they know they don`t really have it in them to actually default on
the debt ceiling. And I think the president sees that, too.

The landscape is very different from 2011. Yes, they`re still nutty.
Yes, they`re still responding to that calculus. But I don`t think that
they`re quite as credible in terms of actually causing a default. In order
to what, to extract Social Security and Medicare benefit cuts, that is
tremendously unpopular? It would be an utter, utter disaster, of course,
economically. But it also would be catastrophe for the Republican Party.

O`DONNELL: And this comes at a moment where they`re being criticized
from kind of all sides. I want to listen to something Colin Powell said
today -- said yesterday about their identity problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I think the Republican Party
right now is having an identity problem. And I`m still a Republican. I
think what the Republican Party needs to do now is take a very hard look at
itself and understand that the country has changed, the country is changing
demographically. And if the Republican does not change along with the
demographics, they`re going to be in trouble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Steve with this atmosphere, and Joe Scarborough, "MORNING
JOE", he is offering kind of relentlessness criticism in the Republican
Party now -- this is not the time to show hey, we know the right way to go
on the debt ceiling and America is with us.

America is not with them.

KORNACKI: America is not with them, but the America that elected the
House Republicans is with them. Because that America is different than the
evolving, demographically changing America that reelected Obama by 5
million votes, that allowed Democrats to get a 55-seat majority in the
Senate.

The -- more than ever, the sort of "coalition of the ascendant" that
reelected Obama is packed in tightly in the metropolitan areas across the
country. And what it`s opened these huge swaths outside these metropolitan
areas that basically have locked in, barring in a huge wave that have
locked in a Republican House probably for the next decade.

And the demographic changes that are driving politics nationally,
they`re not happening. You`re not seeing them in these districts.

So, sure, what will work in the districts for the average Republican
congressman is totally destructive to the Republican Party at the national
level and is one of the reasons Obama was able to win by 5 million votes,
but it`s also the reason why congressman X gets reelected and doesn`t have
to worry about a Republican primary challenge in those districts.

O`DONNELL: And, Krystal, that gerrymandering that produced these
Republican districts has also produced a situation where Democratic members
of Congress as a total get more votes --

BALL: Right.

O`DONNELL: -- than the Republicans who end up getting majority
control of the building.

BALL: That`s exactly right. I think the Democrats would actually
have to win that popular vote by something like seven points to get control
of the House. I disagree a little bit, though, because I think at some
point what the congressional Republicans are doing does have a spill-over
effect. They are not so immune. Eventually, people will get tired of the
debt ceiling hostage crisis and it is becoming more and more clear who it
is that holds these extreme positions and is totally willing to not work
with the other side, and actually govern.

O`DONNELL: Steve, guess who I have tonight?

Cory Booker.

KORNACKI: I think I`ve heard.

O`DONNELL: I`ve got Corey Booker, you`re our senior New Jersey --

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Our senior new jersey political analyst. What is the one
question I should ask Cory Booker tonight?

KORNACKI: Why should you be senator and not Frank Lautenberg?

O`DONNELL: I`m going to ask him that question, that`s coming up. And
you guys do a show called "THE CYCLE."

BALL: We do.

O`DONNELL: And people should watch that.

BALL: Thank you. I agree.

O`DONNELL: A whole gang of you do that show.

OK, so that`s a thank you to Krystal Ball and Steve Kornacki.

And coming up, if House Republicans really do something crazy with the
debt ceiling, will they do that? Ezra Klein will answer that question,
next.

And on the one-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, the NRA
has actually released a violent videogame. The same NRA that blamed the
violent video games for the massacre in Newtown.

And in the rewrite tonight, Scott Brown`s political future, more
observers are saying he might not run for Senate.

And as I said, the big get tonight, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who has
announced his intention to run for Senate in New Jersey. The trouble is he
might just have to run against fellow Democrat and current Senator Frank
Lautenberg, as far as we can tell, they agree on just about everything.
Cory Booker will answer Steve Kornacki`s questions and will get tonight`s
LAST WORD.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: So Newark Mayor Cory Booker has a problem. He wants to
move up. He wants to run for Senate. The trouble is there is currently an
incumbent Democratic senator in the seat he wants to run for.

He wants to be respectful of that senator. He`s hoping that that
senator, who happens to be 88 years old, will announce his retirement. But
that hasn`t happened yet.

So how does Cory Booker run and not run at the same time? I`ll ask
him. He will get tonight`s LAST WORD.

And speaking of the Senate, the Massachusetts Senate race, the special
election that will be held to replace John Kerry when he is confirmed for
secretary of state, Scott Brown might not run for that seat. You heard it
first last week. Now, more people are saying it. Scott Brown`s rewriting,
possible rewriting of his political future is in tonight`s "Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: On Thursday, House Republicans will convene in
Williamsburg, Virginia, for their annual retreat, where there will be no
talk of retreat, but where John Boehner will attempt to explain the debt
ceiling and get his caucus to understand, that as "Politico" put it, quote,
"It would be economic and political suicide to go all in and default."

At his news conference today, President Obama explained the debt limit
to the American public and the political media this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Congress authorizes spending. They order me to spend. They
tell me you need to fund our Defense Department, at such and such a level.
You need to send out Social Security checks. You need to make sure that
you are paying to care for our veterans.

They lay all of this out for me, and -- because they have the spending
power. And so I am required by law to go ahead and pay these bills.
Separately, they also have to authorize the raising of the debt ceiling in
order to make sure that those bills are paid. And so, what Congress can`t
do is tell me to spend x, and then say but we`re not going to give you the
authority to go ahead and pay the bills.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: "The Economist" made a laundry list of what would happen
if congressional Republicans refused to raise the debt limit.

Failure to raise the debt ceiling would force immediate spending cuts
equal for 6 percent of GDP. Not only would that threaten to send the
economy back into recession, it would also deprive doctors, pensioners,
contractors and millions of others of money needed to meet their own
obligations, setting off a chain reaction of defaults that could incite
investors to dump their holdings, driving up interest rates.

Joining me now is Ezra Klein, a columnist for "The Washington Post"
and MSNBC analyst, who I`m sure can add more alarming possibilities to what
could happen.

EZRA KLEIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: I would be happy to.

O`DONNELL: So, Ezra, for the 99th episode of what happens if we don`t
raise the debt ceiling, give us an idea of what the latest talk in
Washington is about what might or might not happen under the circumstance.

KLEIN: We`ve got a call at Wonkblog today from Mike Feroli, who is
the head economist for JPMorgan, and we asked what happens if we don`t
raise the debt ceiling and there is some question in the financial markets
at to whether or not treasury debt, what we borrow with, what if it`s as
safe as we thought.

And he say, it would be like the Hieronymus Bosch painting of hell.
That was his response from JPMorgan.

And I think people need to think about that, because when you try to
understand what is going to happen, if the White House is able to follow
through on not negotiating on the debt ceiling, which I think they actually
will be able to do. I think they -- the president is forcefully, very
publicly backing himself into a corner, where he said so many times he
wouldn`t be held hostage over it, if he did, it would undermine his
credibility going forward forever. So, he is showing by doing that that he
can`t negotiate, because he`s made it impossible for him to negotiate
because it would essentially destroy his presidency.

Now, when it becomes clear to Republicans, that they`re going to be on
their own in order to -- in order to trigger a kind of default, in order to
trigger a kind of default, whether on our bonds, or in our obligations to
Social Security, pensioners, to folks who need the Defense Department
payments, they`re going to see the financial sector, the economic sector,
every defense contractor, the AARP, every interest group and not just
interest groups but pretty much every business in America coming on their
doorstep and saying, you cannot possibly do this.

These folks just a couple of weeks ago, they couldn`t bear to go over
the fiscal cliff, which you like to call it the curb, which wouldn`t have
been nearly as bad and would have actually shared the blame because many
thought he did want to go over in order to raise taxes.

To do the same thing over the debt ceiling and get full blame for it,
it could genuinely destroy the Republican Party, of course, while
destroying the American economy.

O`DONNELL: The president pointed out that the Republicans themselves
have not even agreed to a package of cuts that would be equal to what would
be necessary for raising the debt ceiling, which is what they say their
demand is, theoretically. So, there is that little problem, for
Republicans.

But, what about this point, Ezra, that the president, the federal
government could easily meet its obligations on actual debt payments
through bonds and that sort of thing. But it would be the spending, the
discretionary spending that they would have to cut under these
circumstances.

And so there wouldn`t ever be, many Republicans insist they wouldn`t
ever be a realistic prospect of default in this. And that`s why the
president uses the word "obligations," instead of the word debt, because
they may just agree with them that there wouldn`t actually be a debt
default.

KLEIN: It`s unclear. We literally don`t know what would happen
because it never happened before. So a legal authority is not all obvious.

So there is a question, is it legal for the Treasury Department to
decide if we pay off the bond holders, but we`re not going to pay off our
Medicare bills? We`re going to pay back the banks, or we`re going to pay
back China but we`re not going to give Social Security checks. In
addition, of course, that being an uncertain legal question. The political
optics of Republicans forcing the country into a situation where paying
Chin and Japan before paying Social Security is a little dubious.

The second question is whether our computer systems can actually do
that. Obviously, we computerize the checks going out, we`re sending.
About 100 million of them -- certainly in the month of February and April,
we`re sending about 100 million. I`m sorry, March, 100 million. So we
don`t know if we can re-program the computer systems quickly enough in
order to begin choosing between some payments and not others.

O`DONNELL: Ezra, you know, the answer of it`s not clear -- people
frequently take as some sort of evasion, there`s no perfect phrase for what
is going on here, especially in a situation where it`s never happened
before.

KLEIN: And the financial markets don`t like "it is not clear".

O`DONNELL: That`s right, and we`re all kind of guessing what that
really means.

Ezra Klein, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

KLEIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the latest news in the Massachusetts Senate
race that will occur after John Kerry is confirmed as secretary of state.
Will Scott Brown actually run for that Senate seat? I for one have my
doubts. And I will tell you why.

But another Senate seat looks like it really does have a candidate --
Cory Booker has made it very cheer he intends to run for Senate in New
Jersey. And Cory Booker will get tonight`s LAST WORD.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICOLE HOCKLEY, MOTHER OF SANDY HOOK SHOOTING VICTIM: It has been one
month since I lost my son, Dylan, and 25 other families lost their loved
ones. At times it feels like only yesterday. And at other times, it feels
as if many years have passed. I still find myself reaching for Dylan`s
hand to walk through a car parking lot or expecting him to crawl into bed
beside me for early morning cuddles before we get ready for school.

NELBA MARQUEZ-GREENE, MOTHER OF SANDY HOOK SHOOTING VICTIM: I`m Ana`s
mom. On Friday, December 14th, I put two children on the bus and only one
came home. I pray that no mother, father, or grandparent or care giver of
children ever have to go through this pain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Those were two of the mothers who lost their children one
month ago today at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The mothers, along with a
number of other victims` families, unveiled Sandy Hook Promise, a group
that hopes to turn their tragedy into a national dialogue on gun violence,
school safety, and mental health issues.

In the Spotlight tonight, gun and ammunition control, 30 days after
the massacre in Newtown. Today, Vice President Joe Biden gave President
Obama the recommendations from his gun violence task force one day early.
In a meeting with a group of House Democrats, Joe Biden said that he has
identified 19 executive actions the president can take on gun control.

President Obama said he will release the details of those
recommendations later this week. Here is what the president had to say
about gun control today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What you can count on
is that the things that I have said in the past, the belief that we have to
have stronger background checks, that we can do a much better job in terms
of keeping these magazine clips with high capacity out of the hands of
folks who should not have them, an assault weapons ban that is meaningful,
that those are things I continue to believe make sense.

If there is a step we can take that will save even one child from what
happened in Newtown, we should take that step.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, the NRA is a very strange operation. They
have said that video games are a big problem in promoting violence in this
country. And yesterday, the NRA released a free app, which we`re going to
put up on the screen, that allows people to practice shooting coffin-shaped
targets in the head and in the heart. And they have rated it for ages four
and up.

So much for violent video games?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, well, of course they
were going after the video game makers and movie makers because they`re an
easy target. But they don`t realize -- they`ve never been self aware. They
don`t realize that they`re an easy target themselves. I do think -- this
is quite seriously -- that outrage has not proved that effective against
the NRA. But satire and humor actually can be.

And they`re a joke. They`re a sick joke, but they are a joke, because
they don`t recognize how they fall by their own pathetically low standards.

O`DONNELL: They`re losing the opinion battle with the American
public. There is a new poll out today, Pew Research Center poll, 67
percent support creating a federal database to track gun sales. That seems
to be something that the president might be able to do with executive
orders. Fifty five 55 percent support a ban on assault weapons.

"Washington Post" poll -- there`s some fascinating numbers in this --
65 percent in favor of banning -- let`s see, I`m reading something
different from what`s up on our screen -- 65 percent favor banning high-
capacity ammunition magazines, which is something I think is really
important.

And as you go through it, they actually in that poll looked at
households with a gun. And in households with a gun, it is 55 percent
support banning the high-capacity clips. And 86 percent of households with
a gun support background checks; 76 percent of them background checks on
ammunition purchases.

WOLFFE: Lawrence, for starters, there are a couple of things here.
You and I both know that there are not that many Democrats out there to get
you above 50 percent, that far above 50 percent. So obviously a lot of
Republicans in there.

But the real reason those numbers are so high is because most of those
people believe that those background checks are already in place. They do
not believe that in taking those positions they`re supporting a change in
the law. And that is where the NRA is on incredibly weak ground. They
have lulled people into the sense that actually background checks exist,
and that everything else will be some kind of intrusion.

But actually they have been much more effective than that. The limits
are so low, in terms of what is reasonable, that people are delusional.
They just don`t know what the reality is. Either they`ve suspended
disbelief or they`re just plain incorrect. So the NRA is actually in a
very weak position here, because if you just inform people about how weak
the gun laws are, they go, well, that is not my position. I thought it was
already in place.

O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, thank you very much for joining me
tonight.

WOLFFE: You bet.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Scott Brown`s political future. Will he be
smart enough to avoid losing another Senate race in Massachusetts by not
running for Senate in Massachusetts again? That is in the Rewrite.

And later, super hero Mayor Cory Booker is here to talk about his
intention to run for Senate in New Jersey.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, more Rewriting of loser Scott
Brown`s political future. Massachusetts Republicans were shocked when the
sane people of Massachusetts voted for a public policy expert and Harvard
professor for senator, instead of this guy. In the election, voters made
two Massachusetts Republicans the two biggest losers of the year. And no
one was more shocked at being a loser than poor Scott Brown, who ran a
Senate campaign that was worthy of the thugs in my Boston neighborhood a
generation ago.

Hey, you`re not from around here. That was Brown`s basic campaign
message, which he thought was going to terrify Oklahoma-born Elizabeth
Warren the way it rightfully terrified people who wandered into Southie or
Charlestown, or other, shall we say, insular Boston neighborhoods when I
was a kid.

Scott Brown also called Elizabeth Warren names.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT BROWN, FORMER SENATOR: I don`t need Professor Warren talking or
speaking or commenting on my vote.

Professor Warren.

Can you imagine 100 Professor Warrens down there?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Oh, my God, did you hear that? Scott Brown called her
professor. You could see he wanted to call her "four eyes," but he can`t,
not on TV. So he called her professor. Now it turned out the guys on the
bar stools who loved that were like wicked outnumbered by the thoughtful
people of Massachusetts, who don`t think that the word "professor" is an
insult.

So Scott Brown is not a senator anymore, and everyone assumes he is
going to run for Senate again when John Kerry`s seat opens up after he`s
confirmed as secretary of state, everyone except me.

You should remember you heard it here first, because last week I told
you, you heard it here first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And you heard it here first, which is to say you`re
hearing it right now. Scott Brown probably won`t even run against Ed
Markey. Scott Brown would be much happier running for governor when Deval
Patrick leaves office next year, a race Scott Brown would have a much
better chance of winning, and a job he would love, I mean love compared to
the Senate, which according to my sources he doesn`t really like it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: "Politico" readers who missed last Tuesday`s edition of
this program are only five days behind on this story, because yesterday
afternoon, "Politico" ran this story, "Why Scott Brown Might Run for
Governor, Not Senate."

"Politico" reported why it could be easier for Brown to win the
governorship. He won`t be as closely tied to Mitch McConnell and crazy
congressional Republicans. Deval Patrick isn`t running for reelection, so
it would be an open seat this time. And winning the Senate seat means you
win it for a year, and then have to immediately run for re-election to a
full six-year term.

"Politico" did not mention what I told you last week, that Scott Brown
doesn`t exactly love the Senate. Being a senator, if well done, is
actually a lot more like being a professor than Scott Brown realized before
he went to Washington. There is like a crapload of homework and stuff and
like tons of reading. And no, you don`t absolutely have to do it. But if
you don`t do it, if you don`t do enough of the studying and stuff, the
other senators are going to talk rings around you in those closed door
meetings, where they do the actual, you know, governing.

And you are going to sit there feeling like a freaking centerfold,
listening to a bunch of professors. And I think we know how much Scott
Brown doesn`t like that feeling?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Can you imagine 100 Professor Warrens down there?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Conventional wisdom is wicked hard to break in politics
and apparently in "Politico." Six hours and 36 minutes after "Politico"
ran the almost breaking news piece that Scott Brown might not run for
Senate, "Politico" ran this piece, "Bay State Candidates For John Kerry`s
Seat See Big Money."

And that piece calls it a Brown versus Markey race. "Congressman Ed
Markey has announced his intention to run. And it is widely believed
former GOP Senator Scott Brown, who lost in November to Senator Elizabeth
Warren, will make another run for the seat."

Not a word in this "Politico" piece about "Politico`s" earlier story
about Brown maybe not running for the Senate. But in the first article,
the one about Brown maybe not running for the Senate, there are a few words
from Brown about how he would campaign against Ed Markey. And yes, it
would be another "hey, you are not from around here" campaign.

On a Boston radio show recently, Scott Brown thought he blew away Ed
Markey with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Now you got Ed Markey, does he still live here?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Oh, my, God. Please, please, please, Scott Brown --
please run for Senate again. And try that attack on Ed Markey. Please.
Ed Markey, born in Maulden, son of a milkman, and he did a pretty good job
on his homework at Maulden Catholic High School, good enough to get him
into Boston College, and then Boston College Law School.

That is how far from Maulden Eddy was willing to go for college and
law school. And Eddy has done so good a job representing his hometown and
his district that Republicans sometimes can`t even find candidates to run
against him.

So Scott Brown, I got some news for you. Yes, Ed Markey still lives
here. And he is like so from around here that you would have to debate him
on policy, if you screw up the, you know, courage to run against him. And
debating Ed Markey on policy would be like debating a freaking professor.
And you know how that goes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: My intention is to run for United
States Senate. but I`m going to let -- it is still at the preliminary
stages. I`m going to let things happen that should happen. The focus
right now, frankly for all of New Jersey, should be our two senators,
supporting them in the fiscal cliff negotiation, Sandy relief, debt
ceiling. We should be supporting Frank Lautenberg, supporting Bob
Menendez, and me. I have a big job to do here in Newark.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And in the latest Farleigh Dickinson University poll, 42
percent of New Jersey Democratic voters say they would vote for Mayor Cory
Booker for Senate. Just 20 percent say they would vote for current Senator
Frank Lautenberg. And 66 percent of all New Jersey voters polled have a
favorable view of Mayor Booker, compared to 45 percent who have a favorable
view of Senator Lautenberg.

And he is here, Newark Mayor Cory Booker. First of all, Mr. Mayor, I
have to thank you for getting me here tonight. I was scheduled on a flight
to JFK today. The plane ran into mechanical difficulty. They took us off
the plane. I ran across the airport. I grabbed a flight to a place called
Newark, New Jersey, which it turns out has an airport with lights and
everything. And you can land at night in New Jersey.

Who knew? Thank you -- is that -- did you do that?

BOOKER: I had nothing to do with that. But I appreciate you lauding
praise on one of America`s greatest cities.

O`DONNELL: And it was much faster getting there --

(CROSS TALK)

O`DONNELL: What am I doing flying to JFK?

BOOKER: Look, one of the reasons why suddenly businesses and jobs and
opportunities are discovering Newark, New Jersey -- we`re in our biggest
economic development periods since the 1950s -- is because suddenly people
are waking up to the discovery, hey, it is 12 miles from Manhattan. It is
better place to have distribution points there, warehouses, businesses. So
we`re really benefiting from that right now and creating jobs.

O`DONNELL: So you`ve announced your intention to run for Senate in
New Jersey. But -- and the big but is Frank Lautenberg, incumbent
Democrat, who is now 88 years old, who has served well, who I don`t think
you have any real policy differences with over the years that I`m aware of.
His staff are taking anonymous shots at you, saying you`re not being
respectful to the incumbent senator. What are you doing making any kind of
announcements involving the word Senate?

BOOKER: Yeah, and I apologize. We talked about it off the camera. I
thought I was going to get a chance to talk about guns.

O`DONNELL: We are going to do that.

BOOKER: Good. And -- because this is really not an issue right now.
In order to stay in compliance with Federal Election Commission, I can`t
even do the due diligence of research, of travel. I can`t go down to D.C.
to meet with people from my mayoral account. I have to file something.

This is 18 months away. It is a long time. All of New Jersey, we
should not be talking about Senate races. We have two good senators doing
a great job for us, fighting the good fight on critical issues from guns,
to Sandy aid, things that New Jersey really need. We don`t need a
distraction for a Senate race that is not even in an election year.

I`m focused on doing my job. I`m going to do some due diligence on my
future. But right now, I got to serve the residents. And that is really
why I came on, because of some of these pressing issues.

O`DONNELL: So quickly, to get rid of this Senate thing, you are going
to wait for Frank Lautenberg to make a decision before you make your final
decision about running?

BOOKER: I imagine that Frank Lautenberg, me and a number of great
Democrats in state that probably are going to step up to run for senator,
all of us are going to do what we should be doing as good Democrats,
supporting Senator Lautenberg, supporting Senator Menendez, and fighting
real hard to preserve a Democratic legislature and elect a new governor.
All of that takes place between now and the end of November. So this is a
conversation I would be happy to come back on in January.

O`DONNELL: So this chair is available to you as soon as you can say
my intention has now become absolutely definite, and I`m running for
senator.

BOOKER: No, I appreciate that. But really, Senator Lautenberg has
been my senator for a very long time, and a guy that has fought really good
fights. He`s had a lot of victories, not just for New Jersey. But this is
a guy that has fought and scored victories for the country.

In fact, the airplane that you flew on, he is the one that passed
legislation saying you can`t light up and smoke on that airplane. This is
a guy that has scored points. You want to give him strength right now,
because there are tough battles for Democratic senators.

He is a lion. People say he is 89 years old, but anybody who knows
Frank Lautenberg, there is a lot of fight.

O`DONNELL: There certainly is a lot of fight.

(CROSS TALK)

O`DONNELL: So one of the things he has been great on is a subject we
need to talk about now. And that is gun control, ammunition control. He
has been great throughout his career on this subject. What do you think
the Senate needs to do? What do you think the president has to get behind
now?

BOOKER: So again, I see this from a perspective -- tragic, grievous
incidents that happened in Connecticut. But you know this, in places all
over America, over 30 people are dying. It doesn`t seem to make the
headlines. We had people shot in Newark this past week. It`s not making
the headlines.

O`DONNELL: Something like it`s over 800 killed have been killed by
gun violence in America since Newtown.

BOOKER: Right. So what we see in Newark is that law abiding citizens
buying guns are not causing the crime. It is that criminals can so easily
get their hands on guns. You showed the data. You have an overwhelming
majority of gun owners agree with instant background checks, agree that we
should end the gun show loophole and end these secondary markets.

If we just did what all Americans, the majority of Americans agree on,
we can actually make cities safer. The best data point I have on this is
that when you close down these so-called secondary markets, gun shows and
the like, murders against women -- there`s incredible data that one out of
two women who are murdered are murdered by somebody they know. When you
shut down these secondary markets, that goes down by 40 percent.

So I have to deal every single night. Tomorrow, I`m going to have a
tough day talking to people who have been victims of gun violence, families
who have seen gun violence. Every single night I go to bed, every single
morning I wake up with having to face the reality of run away access to
guns by criminals in America.

Let`s do what we all agree on, shut that down, make it more difficult
for people to get their hands on guns, and begin to make our cities safer
in America.

O`DONNELL: Sandy relief, where are we now on it? And what do you
need?

BOOKER: I have been having people text me all night from Congress.
I`ve been talking to and lobbying a lot of people down there. I`m just --
it is very, very frustrating what I`m seeing, what is happening in the
House. Why is it that when other places who had natural disasters, this
country has united and sent resources down here.

But now New Jersey, which, by the way, sends much more money to the
federal government than it gets back --

O`DONNELL: You just want your money back.

BOOKER: We just want there to be a sense of urgency and concern.
There are families that lost their houses. There are blocks of my city
that were destroyed. It is ridiculous that we`re still debating this,
especially looking at some of the Congress people that are doing this, that
have -- in my opinion, it is shameless, because when their states were in
the same set of crisis, they were the first in line to ask for that
resources.

These are times when America should pull together, stand up and do the
right thing. And to me right now, especially at the end of a very long
day, I`m frustrated. I`m angry. We should all as Americans be standing up
for each other in times of crisis. This is so un-American, in my opinion,
the behavior of some of these Congress people.

O`DONNELL: Newark`s mayor, Cory Booker, gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

BOOKER: Thank you for having me on. I look forward to coming back.

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

END

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