updated 3/14/2013 9:04:07 AM ET 2013-03-14T13:04:07

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
March 13, 2013

Guests: Ryan Grim, Sen. Claire McCaskill, Lynne Osterman

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Tonight, thanks to Ed Schultz, we finally
meet the MVP of the 2012 campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT PROUTY, VIDEOGRAPHER: Should I risk everything? Should I put
myself in jeopardy? Should I put myself in legal jeopardy?

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Recall, if you will, campaign 2012.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are 47 percent
of the people will vote for the president no matter what.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: The surreptitious recording of Mitt Romney
--

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS: Secretly recorded comments.

DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: There was a political earthquake.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Republicans are in a panic.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: You just kissed half the electorate good-bye.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: One thing has remained a mystery.

ROMNEY: Whoever has released the snippets --

MATTHEWS: Who shot the video and what was the motivation for
releasing it?

PROUTY: My name is Scout Prouty.

ROMNEY: I really appreciate if they release the whole tape.

PROUTY: I was behind this whole thing.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Mitt Romney is expected to reemerge this
week.

ROMNEY: I`m Mitt Romney. I`m Mitt Romney. Morning y`all.

JANSING: But he`s still being dogged by a comment --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You represent the
entire country.

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

OBAMA: And if you want to be president, you got to work for
everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heading into hostile territory.

JANSING: President Obama heads back to the Hill today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This time to meet with House Republicans.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: He`s lunching with House Republicans.

OBAMA: What I`m trying to do is create an atmosphere --

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: President Obama`s so-called charm offensive
continues.

OBAMA: -- where Democrats and Republicans can go ahead and get
together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are the two sides so far apart?

JANSING: Both sides are miles apart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That they eventually can`t make a deal.

OBAMA: Ultimately, it may be the differences are just too wide.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Was the charm offensive political
calculation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get real.

TODD: As if nothing happened over the last 2 1/2 years.

OBAMA: Ultimately, it maybe that the differences are just too wide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It might be an unbridgeable divide.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Tonight MSNBC`s "ED SHOW" got the big get -- the biggest
get of the year in cable news. Ed interviewed the Florida man who secretly
recorded Mitt Romney`s remarks last May at a Florida fundraiser. That
recording leaked into the presidential campaign in September when Mitt
Romney was polling even with President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the
president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent are with him,
who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who
believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe
they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.
These are people who pay no income tax.

So, my job is not to worry about those people. I`ll never convince
them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their
lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: No turning point in the campaign was more important than
the release of that tape.

President Obama opened up a seven-point lead and Mitt Romney never got
within striking distance, again, according to the most accurate polling
analyst of the year, Nate Silver.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Let`s start with the most valuable player of the 2012
presidential campaign. My choice is, of course, the anonymous videographer
who captured the 47 percent tape.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The videographer`s name we now know is Scott Prouty. He`s
38 years old. He is from Boston, one of Mitt Romney -- Massachusetts, of
course, is being one of Mitt Romney`s home state. He now lives in Florida.
He was serving as a bartender the night of the Romney fund-raiser.
Here is Ed with the MVP of 2012.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PROUTY: I grew up in a blue collar area of Boston. Nobody I know can
pay, can afford to pay $50,000 for dinner. I felt an obligation for all
the people who can`t afford to be there, you shouldn`t have to be able to
afford $50,000 to hear what the candidate actually thinks.

I came to the conclusion, I wanted to go live in full, you know,
probably when most people are paying attention. I thought that was
probably around the conventions, the RNC and the DNC. I wanted his words
to be the absolute center of attention.

And, you know, maybe it would be fun to go on a show or do this show
or that, but I thought that would change the topic of the conversation away
from the primary thing that was most important to me. I thought it was too
important for me to just stand-up and say, hey, I did it and try to get a
little bit of fame.

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC HOST: Mr. Romney, at that point in that tape says
he wants you to put out the full tape. What was your response when you saw
that?

PROUTY: Let`s do it. He asked for it, let`s do it. He called it a
snippet and, you know, kind of insinuating maybe it was taken out of
context. So, at that point, he asked for it, I decided I give it to him.

SCHULTZ: President Obama used your material to close a debate at a
very crucial time after his first debate was heavily criticized. This was
his closing statement. What was going through your mind at that point?

PROUTY: It was the last line of the debate. And I think I was
sitting on the edge of my couch at the time just waiting. I was watched
the first debate and, you know, there was no mention of it. You know,
there was certainly a cheer erupted in the room at the time.

You know, I was thrilled that he hit him with it when he did. You
know, it was well done. It worked out exactly the way I hoped it would.
I`m thrilled he mentioned it. I think he used it to great effect, for
sure.

SCHULTZ: Do you think it changed the election?

PROUTY: Yes, I think it did. I think, you know, it defined a point
of when he needed to be defined for the American public. It defined him in
a negative light, but an honest light. I think it showed who he was as a
person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now: former senior adviser to President Obama,
now an MSNBC political analyst, David Axelrod, and "Huffington Post"
reporter, Ryan Grim, who has conducted multiple interviews with Scott
Prouty, who recorded that videotape.

David Axelrod, I named Scott Prouty the MVP of the 2012 campaign, do
you have an argument with that, sir?

DAVID AXELROD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t know. I`m not --
I`ll let you --

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Come on.

AXELROD: Look, there`s no doubt that was an impactful piece of video
because it crystallized a sense that people had of Governor Romney that had
been built up over the course of the campaign. What it did was lengthen
the lead.

We came out of the conventions with a three to four point lead. It
went to six or seven-points. We gave some of those points back and settled
back into the three to four-point range where the race ended.

But in terms of defining the Romney campaign, that was the iconic
moment of the campaign. I don`t think there`s any question about that.

O`DONNELL: David, take us to Obama campaign headquarters when you
discovered this video, which as I understand it, they found out about it
almost as soon as "Mother Jones" put it out there.

AXELROD: Yes. Actually, folks came into my office and were sort of
stunned by it. So, this is going to be really impactful. Of course, you
immediately saw that it would, because as I said, we had been building a
case for some time that Romney was not attune to the experience of large
numbers of Americans who are struggling in this economy, working hard,
trying to get ahead and running into great obstacles and head winds.

And this tape seemed to crystallize everything that we had said. It`s
not often that you get a candidate, in his own words, affirming,
essentially the case you are making against him. And so, we knew right
away this was going to be a big deal.

O`DONNELL: Ryan Grim, a big deal. It couldn`t have been a bigger
deal. I don`t think there was a more perfect way for Scott Prouty to
handle this -- timing and everything about it.

RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST: I met with him before and after, I`ve
spoken to him before. I met with him after the video came out.

O`DONNELL: So, did you speak to him before the video came out?

GRIM: Over e-mail. Never by phone.

O`DONNELL: In that e-mail, was it revealed to you who it was?

GRIM: No, he kept himself anonymous. It wasn`t until down the road
he would tell me his name.

O`DONNELL: Was he reaching out to you?

GRIM: Brad Shannon (ph) actually, who was our D.C. operations manager
is a tech, you know, a tech fanatic. He found the 47 percent video on a
YouTube account that nobody else had noticed and started communicating with
him. He also, Scott himself, posted in "The Huff Post" comment section, so
I was able to find his e-mail address because you have to put in there to
register.

So, I e-mailed him and started communicating with him that way. Jason
Cherkis was e-mailing with him, all of us trying to get the video out of
him.

So, after the video actually came out, I was asking whether he would
come forward. As a journalist, I wanted him to come forward, whatever the
consequences are for the campaign.

O`DONNELL: Right.

GRIM: What he cared about was making sure that the focus stayed on
Mitt Romney`s remarks. He didn`t want any distraction. He didn`t want
people looking into his past. He didn`t people, you know, suggesting he
did this for some motive or anyway discrediting the video. He wanted it to
just live on its own.

So, he was completely comfortable to have everyone else taking the
credit for this, you know, while watching the entire country talking about
what he had done.

O`DONNELL: David Axelrod, as someone who knows how this game is
played, that strikes me. That decision to stay anonymous strikes me as a
brilliant choice on his part because are you certain tonight that if his
name had came out and his identity had came out, that the Romney campaign
would have done nothing other than try to attack him personally?

AXELROD: Yes. I mean, the whole story is pretty remarkable, when you
think about it. The fact that he held the tape until after Labor Day,
after the conventions, that he understood that that would be the time to
surface this tape.

The fact that he understood that he had to keep himself out of it so
that the story would be the focus of the tape, you know, I gather this guy
from Boston. I also felt cities like Boston, Chicago, politics are like in
the water. You just learn all about it there.

He had this innate sense that, you know, that it`s sort of uncanny.
You have to hand it to him. He handled it in a shrewd way.

O`DONNELL: Ryan, what do you make of the timing now? He could have
come out the day after the election. There`s plenty of time between then
and now. What do you make of the decision now?

GRIM: You know, what he told Ed tonight is that he`s going to do work
with the steel workers and with another organization that works on behalf
of the oppress. And that is -- that`s what his passion is. So, I think
that had something to do with it. He -- I think he finally felt safe like
okay, I am now among a community of people who will have my back, because
for the last several months, what he`s been most nervous about is -- you
know, he ticked off some extremely powerful and extremely wealthy people.

So, he was nervous they would come after him and personally destroy
him. It`s not paranoia. There`s no reason to think some people wouldn`t
try to do that. Now that he`s working with the steel workers and other
organizations, he has their backing. So, I think he feels protected.

What I kept telling him is look, you have not just 47 percent of the
country, but slightly more than that that would have your back if people
came after you. But, you know, where he lives in Florida is a conservative
area. It only takes a couple rich people to come after you to change your
life.

So, you know, he has reasonable concerns, but I think those are being
addressed by now having this solidarity community behind him. And he
apparently was talking to other people, Jonathan Alter tweeted tonight, and
that he has been talking to him for a couple months and he`s actually going
to use some of the material from him in an upcoming book.

So, did you have a sense of how many people in the media knew about
him and had direct contact with him the way you did?

GRIM: I think he was fairly accessible if you wanted to reach out to
him. He had a Twitter account that has 1,800 followers or so. And he
tweets on a regular basis. And his twitter account was anonymous, but he
was very open this was the Twitter account behind the person who released
the video.

He was commenting on public events. He gave me some blind quotes --
not blind, 47 percent about -- the third debate. He was communicating with
reporters. Anybody who wanted to talk to him could have.

O`DONNELL: David Axelrod, I`ll give you the last word on this
segment. And might your last words be thank you to Scott Prouty?

AXELROD: Well, all I would say is that I think it`s fair to say that
this guy probably doesn`t have much of a future in bar tending, but he
might have a great future in politics. Those skills will come in handy.

O`DONNELL: David Axelrod and Ryan Grim, thank you for joining me
tonight.

And in a programming note, Scott Prouty will be my guest tomorrow
night here on THE LAST WORD. If you have questions, you would like to ask
him, jus tell us on Facebook.

President Obama was greeted by a standing ovation, believe it or not,
by the House Republicans today. It was reportedly downhill from there.

Krystal Ball and Richard Wolffe are here to talk about that.

In the rewrite, a Republican who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act
says her vote was wrong. Now, she`s pleading with the GOP to finally do
the right thing on marriage equality and the shocking testimony today in
the Senate about the sexual assaults happening in our military. Senator
Claire McCaskill was there. She`ll join me in a LAST WORD exclusive.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The Massachusetts Senate race to fill what was John
Kerry`s seat is going as predicted on this program. Congressman Ed Markey
now has a 30-point lead over his challenger in the Democratic primary. The
Markey campaign released its first ad going straight at the NRA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLTON HESTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF NRA: From my cold dead hands --

NARRATOR: Long before tragedy swept our nation, it was Markey who
forced the Chinese to stop exporting assault weapons to our country. Now,
Ed Markey has joined President Obama fighting for tougher gun laws to make
our community safe.

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I want these guns off our street.
That`s why I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The president met with all the House Republicans today and
he actually got a standing ovation. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Was there any hint of white smoke here?

OBAMA: You are straining the analogy.

REPORTER: You know what I mean.

REPORTER: How did it go?

OBAMA: That was good. I enjoyed it. It was useful.

REPORTER: Mr. Chairman, can we ask you how is the meeting went?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: He did himself some good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: President Obama continued his Republican outreach efforts
today, meeting with all of the Republicans in the House of Representatives
in the capital. Before the meeting, the president was realistic about the
chances of a grand bargain with Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: But, ultimately, it may be the differences are just too wide.
If their position is we can`t do any revenue or we can only do revenue if
we gut Medicare or gut Social Security or gut Medicaid. If that`s the
position, we are probably not going to get a deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: After the meeting with the president, John Boehner and
Eric Cantor offered their assessments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have a spending
problem. We have to attack the spending. The president understands we
have some long term spending we need to deal with, but he`s going to hold
hostage the fact he wants to raise taxes on the American people, again.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: You know, again, if the
president wants to let our unwillingness to raise taxes get in the way,
then we`re not going to be able to set differences aside and focus on what
we agree on. And my takeaway was that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, President Obama spoke at an Organizing for
America event where he explained his motivations for reaching out to
Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Over the last several weeks, the press here in Washington has
been reporting about Obama`s charm offensive. Well, you know, the truth of
the matter is all I have been calling up folks and trying to see if we can
breakthrough some of the -- some of the gobbledygook of our politics here.
I actually just want to govern, at least for a couple years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, imagine that, he just wants to govern.

So, it is reported the Republicans gave the president a standing
ovation at the beginning and the end of the meeting, which indicates they
at least have manners, because that`s just respect, not agreement. It`s
not like we`re going to find any agreement on there today.

KRYSAL BALL, MSNBC`S "THE CYCLE": No, I don`t think they found much
agreement. The president needs to reach out to the Hill, if he just had
better relationships. That`s really not the problem.

I mean, the problem is more fundamental. The problem is more
structural. The problem is things like these Republican House members are
more concerned about the right flank than running to the center for an
election. The problem is, as the president said, the fact that maybe the
ideologies are just too far apart.

And I think right now, a lot of Democrats are going, you know, do we
really want a grand bargain? Deficits are coming down. Do we need a grand
bargain? We don`t want to raise taxes for the heck of it.

There are two reasons Democrats want to raise taxes. One is to have
more fairness in the tax code. The other is to cut the deficit. Well, the
deficit is coming down and they don`t want to exchange it for a bad deal on
entitlements.

So, the appetite is waning on the Democratic side as well.

O`DONNELL: And, Richard, the Republicans, some of them are saying the
same things in certain places, look, we got all these spending cuts and
sequester. We said we`ve always wanted spending cuts. Why should we also
throw in entitlement cuts at a time like this when politics of that aren`t
so great for us?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, the politics, the short
term politics can be played by both sides. The Republicans went after the
president for the very cuts that they expect him to put in place for
entitlements.

So, both sides prepare to flip on their head. They are in this world
of mixed emotions. They love this and they hate this. They love the fact
that he came to them, standing ovation. They had to hate the fact that he
came to them because they`re not going to do anything he wants.

He loves the fact that he goes to them and looks reasonable, but he
hates the fact that the press bounced him into it, because it`s not really
a charm offensive, even though it was.

So, they are playing around each other. Let`s face it -- there will
be tax hikes come, they are going to call it tax reform. There will be
entitlement cuts coming, they are going to say it`s smarter or fairer or
prolonging the life of these programs.

This is the game that`s going on. Will there be a grand bargain or a
little bargain? I suspect it`s going to be smaller, not grand. But
there`s a deal out there that`s working through its course.

O`DONNELL: We have gone from there has to be a deal, this is a
disaster, you can`t allow the sequester to happen, to the sequester has
happened and there`s the president saying, well, ultimately, if we can`t
get a deal -- they are starting to say things that include the possibility
there won`t be some kind of a deal and the sequester will actually be what
we live with here.

BALL: He`s saying basically it`s not the end of the world if we don`t
reach some sort of a grand bargain, because I mean, I had some hope that
the sequester was something that shifted the fundamental calculus, even
though it came and went.

You know, on the Democratic side, they feel the cuts are too severe,
which they are, especially at this time in our economy. And on the
Republican side, there`s a lot of discomfort, even though there are those
who are comfortable cutting the Defense Department, there is a lot of
discomfort with those, especially for Republicans who have districts where
defense industry is very important. So I thought maybe it shifted the
calculus enough.

But again, I think a lot of Democrats are looking at this and saying,
I don`t see how we get to a good deal right now that really think is worth
signing off on.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the president said about why he`s
trying to talk to members other than just the leadership.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: At this juncture, one of the things I believe is that we`ve
got to get members of Congress involved in these discussions, not just
leadership. Because I think a lot of them feel as if they don`t have the
opportunity to break out of some of this partisan gridlock. And,
ironically, I think the leadership want their membership to create a
permission structure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: He thinks the members can say to the leadership after
meeting with the president and others, hey, maybe we should go this way.

WOLFFE: Yes, look, this is a dynamic in way that`s played out between
the House and the Senate, right?

The House leadership cannot bring its own people on board but they can
go to the House caucus and say, well, the Senate is making us do this.
They have done all these deals already.

There`s some of that dynamic there. I mean, he`s also trying to drive
a wedge through these real divisions between the Republicans who want to
get elected on a national platform and those who are just concerned about
going ever more to the right in terms of the primary.

So, you know, he`s playing politics with it and they are with him.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, I think he has in his head at all times the
number of days left in his presidency, in an important way. This is -- he
feels it ticking. This is how much time I have left to get things done.
And so, he doesn`t want to waste a day.

BALL: That`s right. And there are two paths, right? There`s -- can
I actually work with this group that I`ve got toward some sort of decent
result? I think maybe on something like immigration reform, we will see
that.

I would say that the Paul Ryan budget coming out and being so stark
and similar to what he`s offered before, I think that was a step backwards.

And, of course, the other route to him accomplishing in his agenda
would be to win back the House in 2014.

O`DONNELL: He needs to govern now. So, we`ll see what happens.

Krystal Ball and Richard Wolffe, thank you both for joining us
tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: The evolution of President Obama on marriage equality
continues today. He went further than ever before. He`s now saying that
he doesn`t think it`s constitutional for states to ban same-sex marriage.

Also ahead, my exclusive interview with Senator Claire McCaskill after
a shocking hearing about the problem of sexual assault in our military.
Would we be having this kind of hearing if there weren`t female senators
finally on the Senate Armed Services Committee? It`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH MEYERS, SNL: A man in Italy who is dressed as a bishop was able
Monday to sneak into the meeting of cardinals in the Vatican as they tried
to choose a new pope. Dude, just mind your own business for awhile. You
don`t have to be everywhere. We`re good. We`re good without your help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And this is what happens today in Vatican City.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBC BASKETBALL PLAYER: If I was a betting man,
I think I`ll probably meet the Pope in a couple months.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah? You put in a request?

RODMAN: I`m just going to come back here, honey, and walk through
here. I have been doing this all day. I`m just tired, man. So it`s all
good, man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the first things I was told when I tucked
in was don`t wear any makeup because the Marines will all think that you
want to sleep with them. I thought that`s just ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The atmosphere off the bat at Marine Barracks
Washington was horrible. People asked me what sexual favors I had
performed to get my orders there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a senior officer in my command who,
the first time he spoke to me, he said female Marines here nothing but
objects for the Marines to (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was from the Oscar nominated documentary "The
Invisible War," which takes a look at the rape epidemic in our military, an
epidemic that even hits the United States Marine Barracks One, the elite
unit in Washington, D.C.

Today, the Senate held its first hearing on sexual assault in the
military in nearly 10 years. And that movie was a factor in it.

In the Spotlight tonight, the war on women and men in our military.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGETTE MCCOY, FMR. SPC, U.S. ARMY: I was raped during military
service and during my first assignment. That was 1988. I was 18 years
old. It was two weeks before my 19th birthday.

REBEKAH HAVRILLA, FMR. U.S. ARMY SERGEANT: I ran into my rapist in a
post store. He recognized me and told me that he was stationed on the same
installation. I was so retraumatized from the unexpectedness of seeing him
that I removed myself from training and immediately sought out the
assistance from an Army chaplain who told me, among other things, that the
rape was God`s will and that God was trying to get my attention so that I
would go back to church.

BRIAN LEWIS, FMR. PETTY OFFICER, U.S. NAVY: Hearing my commander --
hearing one of my senior members of my chain of command coming to me,
saying you are not going to report this, that is devastating to any
survivor, male, female, whatever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That last witness, Brian Lewis, is the first male victim
to testify before the Senate on sexual assault in the military.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWIS: To translate this into percentages, about 56 percent of
estimated victims in our military are men. This is the part of the crisis
that the Department of Defense does not acknowledge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: All of the victim witnesses asked Congress to take action
and change the way the military handles rape cases. Yesterday, Senator
Claire McCaskill introduced new legislation that could do just that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Unfortunately, I believe that
this is not a crime that we are going to train our way out of, because the
crime of rape has nothing to do with sexual gratification. It`s a crime of
assault, power, domination. And I believe, based on my years of
experience, that the only way that victims of sexual assault are going to
feel empowered in the military is when they finally believe that the focus
of the military is to get these guys and put them in prison.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now in a LAST WORD exclusive, Senator Claire
McCaskill. Senator, what was the most striking part of the hearing for you
today?

MCCASKILL: Well, obviously, the testimony of the victims is
compelling and heart breaking. I spent a lot of time in the courtroom as a
prosecutor of sexual assault cases. So I understand the challenge of these
cases. And frankly, we need to make some changes in this military justice
system, because it`s not working the way it should right now.

O`DONNELL: And one of the big chances is the idea that a commander
can simply overturn the ruling and findings of a jury in a court-martial.

MCCASKILL: Yeah. This is -- by the way, before the appeal process.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

MCCASKILL: So, it is a -- it is a backwards system, because typically
you would have the legal determinations on guilt first, and then an
opportunity for clemency. But they do it right after the trial. That
doesn`t make sense to me.

And certainly, the notion that one person who hasn`t heard the
testimony, is only reading transcripts, can, with the stroke of a pen and
for no reason whatsoever, say I`m going to make it all go away, that`s
wrong.

O`DONNELL: Well, if he reads the transcripts. The case we are
talking about that`s gotten all the attention was Colonel James Wilkerson,
who was convicted. And then his commander, Lieutenant General Craig
Franklin, simply overturned it with the stroke of a pen, as you say. That
happened very recently. And that`s the case that you said last week was
probably a tipping point in the history of this subject.

MCCASKILL: I think it is a tipping point. And I do think the general
read the transcripts. I do think he spent some time on this decision. But
having said that, these cases are so important. And you have to hear the
witnesses. They are always he said/she said. Whenever you have a consent
defense in a sexual assault case, or it didn`t happen defense, which was
the case in this one, you have to hear the witnesses and determine who is
telling the truth.

This judge in this case is not really a judge. He doesn`t have legal
training. He didn`t hear the witnesses. But yet he decided to make it all
go away. I think it sends the wrong message at a point in time that our
biggest struggle, Lawrence, is getting women to come forward in very
difficult situations to report these crimes and make sure that we can
ferret out these cowards that are committing the crime of rape and sexual
assault.

O`DONNELL: Senator, where I learned most of what I know about this is
actually in this new documentary that was actually nominated for an Academy
Award, "Invisible Award." I know that Leon Panetta saw that documentary,
and Chuck Hagel saw that documentary.

Is it your sense that any and most of the men testifying on behalf of
the military today in the command structure at that hearing were aware of
what`s in that documentary or have seen it?

MCCASKILL: In fact, I asked them that specific question. They have
all seen it. And I asked the Marine, the military lawyer for the Marine,
if he would get back to me and let me know what action was taken around the
command for this scandal, even setting aside the sexual assault that was
laid out in that movie, just the notion there was that kind of environment
around the Washington barracks of the Marines in D.C.

I`m worried that they have not taken some of this as seriously as they
should. Having said that, though, Lawrence, in fairness, I have spent
hours with some of these prosecutors in the military. And many of them are
doing their very best and working very hard at this.

So I do think there is a sense in the military that it`s time that we
have got to do a much better job. And I think they are not going to fight
some of these changes, but rather hopefully cooperate with us.

O`DONNELL: Senator, I have to say, I was struck by a couple of images
today. One was this big bank of men, I think maybe one woman in uniform,
representing the military commanders on this. But it`s that standard shot
we have seen forever of an Armed Services Committee hearing, with all the
brass and all that -- all those medals on their chest.

Then six women on that Armed Services Committee, it`s not long ago
that there were no women on the Armed Services Committee. I have to
believe that women like you on the Armed Services Committee have made a
real difference in the way this subject is heard there.

MCCASKILL: I think that`s true. And I think it`s a good thing. I`ll
tell you another thing that struck me today, Lawrence, is that the panel of
victims, it wasn`t all women. There was a man who had been victimized,
raped when he was in the Navy. And he came forward and, in very compelling
and brave testimony, publicly talked about what happened to him.

That`s also progress. Because this isn`t a crime that`s just about
women victims. There are also men victims of this crime. And in this
setting, the military setting, it`s important that we provide them
assistance and services, because talk about difficult to stay in a unit
with your accused, to have to sometimes report to a command structure that
may be friends with the accuser or sometimes even the accused.

It`s really important that we look at this as not just women, but also
men.

O`DONNELL: Senator Claire McCaskill, thanks for your work on this and
thanks for joining us tonight.

MCCASKILL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Obama makes an important new
statement on marriage equality.

And we`ll be joined by a legislature who voted the wrong way an DOMA
and regrets it. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: President Obama Rewrote his position on marriage equality
once again today. He is now moving not just from expressing his personal
support for marriage equality to saying today that he no longer believes
that it`s a matter that should be left up to the states, that banning same-
sex marriage at any level, federal or state, is not constitutional.

Speaking with ABC News, President Obama said "what I believe is that
if the states don`t have a good justification for it, then it probably
doesn`t stand-up to Constitutional muster."

George Stephanopoulos asked, "can you imagine one." The president
replied, "I can`t. Personally, I cannot."

President Clinton has also changed his position on marriage equality.
In 1996, he signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law. And a week ago,
he came out in a "Washington Post" op-ed piece in opposition to the law he
signed. "I have come to believe that DOMA is incompatible with our
Constitution."

Of course, not a word of the Constitution has changed since Bill
Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Bill Clinton signed DOMA in
the middle of his reelection campaign, when he was 18 points ahead of
Republican challenger Bob Dole. Bill Clinton`s re-election was never
seriously threatened that year.

But President Clinton, then still under the influence of campaign
consultant Dick Morris, wasn`t willing to lose a single point in the polls
over something like the Defense of Marriage Act.

Senators who represented more people than anyone else in the Senate
voted against the Defense of Marriage Act then. California`s Barbara Boxer
and Diane Feinstein and New York`s Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- the
Massachusetts senators voted against it. Ron Wyden cast a brave vote
against it, coming from the state of Oregon, where his re-election was not
assured.

The bravest vote of all, perhaps, came from Bob Kerrey, the
representing the state of Nebraska. In his op-ed piece, in which President
Clinton apologized for nothing, he wrote that DOMA was, quote, "opposed by
only 81 of the 535 members of Congress." The line reads as if Clinton is
trying to say, hey, almost everyone thought DOMA was a good thing.

But 14 senators knew better; 67 House members including Nancy Pelosi,
Ed Markey, Henry Waxman, knew better. They have never had to apologize for
that vote. Many who voted the wrong way on the Defense of Marriage Act
knew better or should have known better.

What is it like to cast a vote like that, to know you are wrong and to
know that you have chosen to vote in the politically expedient way? Bill
Clinton`s op-ed piece doesn`t tell us that. But we did get a feeling for
what it`s like yesterday in Minnesota in a hearing on a bill to legalize
same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

Lynne Osterman, who served one term in the Minnesota House, told us
what it was like to cast a politically expedient vote that she knew was
wrong when she voted in favor of Minnesota`s Defense of Marriage Act in
2004.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYNNE OSTERMAN, FORMER MINNESOTA STATE HOUSE MEMBER: When I was a
sophomore in college, I set the goal to serve in the Minnesota House of
Representatives. And when I got here, thinking I was going to be a
thoughtful citizen legislature, I was ill prepared for the partisanship
that greeted my class, the chair`s class of 2002.

I served as a Republican because of my interest in smaller government.
And it was incredibly counterintuitive to me to then, upon my arrival, tell
citizens how the government wanted them to live their lives. I didn`t come
to St. Paul to single out same sex couples and their families.

But in my only term as a member, I cast a politically expedient vote
in favor of DOMA. And I have regretted that every -- ever since. It was
not in my conscience of my own compass. Nothing in my life says it`s OK to
treat people differently that I -- how I would want to be treated, fairly,
respectfully, equally.

And that`s really what this conversation is about. Whether you
believe big government or small, do you believe in fair, respectful, equal?
Is it ever OK to say, well, except for those people?

Lawmakers before us, you, all over this nation have had conversations
about equality, respectability and fairness. We`ve all taken our history
classes and could come up with our own list of instances.

What were the polls like for those issues? Was everyone ready when
our elected officials took the reins and led our communities, state and
nation, so those laws were changed? Voting no today in this session might
seem politically expedient. But I can tell you from experience that you
will have to live knowing that a no vote is not fair. It`s not respectful.
And it`s not equal.

I blew my vote. And I`m imploring you, please get this right.
Minnesota citizens just want you to lead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Lynne Osterman joins me live and will get
tonight`s LAST WORD.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Lynne Osterman, former Minnesota
Republican state representative. Thank you very much for joining us
tonight, Lynne.

OSTERMAN: Thanks for having me, Lawrence. I have looked forward to
it.

O`DONNELL: You know, your situation fascinates me. I worked in the
Senate. I have seen people in these kinds of situations. And I know it`s
difficult. But when you made that choice to cast that vote in 2004, and
you say now that you knew it was the wrong vote then, what did it feel
like? What was the story you told yourself about why you were casting the
vote that way?

OSTERMAN: It took me three tries to be elected to the Minnesota
legislature, `98, 2000 and 2002. And my philosophy was that I can`t swing
at any pitches if I`m not in the game. I really believed that there were
probably other votes, prior to that one and afterwards, that I would want
to be able to contribute by being there. And I guess I told myself that if
my endorsement were truly in jeopardy, which, by the way, I didn`t believe
it was, but other people around me felt very strongly about that. I`m not
blaming anyone, but I guess I just -- I caved and just really believed that
I could justify it from that standpoint, that Plenty of people before
me have taken politically expedient votes. This probably won`t be the
last. I`ll just swallow hard and move on.

O`DONNELL: Let`s talk about another thing that always comes up in
these situations. And President Clinton, in effect, pointed to it in his
op-ed piece in which he talks about the Defense of Marriage Act that he
signed, that in the Senate, for example, on that vote, there were only 14
senators who voted against it in the United States Senate. Everybody knew
that at the time.

Everyone knew it was going to pass, which is to say everyone knew that
no individual vote mattered. That was the case in your situation, where 88
votes for it when you voted for it. You knew it was going to pass. You
knew that your individual vote in this was not going to affect the outcome.
And that is one of the things that senators and congressmen and
legislatures lean on all the time when they are voting against their
consciences or against what they know to be the better vote.

OSTERMAN: Well, I agree with you. They do it all the time. It
doesn`t make it right. I -- my friendships suffered because of my vote.
My -- my own conscience suffered dramatically. I mean, I was sick for two
days before that vote. I was hoping that we didn`t even have to take that
vote. It was the Constitutional question, should we put it on the ballot
and try to write it into Minnesota law, which 10 years later, just about,
we voted that down. I`m proud of that, that Minnesota citizens looked at
that again this fall, because legislatures did vote to put it on the
ballot. It was wrong I think nine years ago. And I think it was still
wrong.

Voting in that circumstance, not just for me, but I think for our
state -- and I`m really hopeful now for our nation, that people will
recognize that we shouldn`t be discriminating and we shouldn`t have laws on
the book that discriminate against our friends, our neighbors, our fellow
citizens.

O`DONNELL: And what you did yesterday in Minnesota is something I
have never seen. It wasn`t just a public apology for a vote. But you did
it in that body that you used to work in. What was it like to go back in
there in that role and tell them what you had to tell them?

OSTERMAN: It was very freeing. The emotion came because it literally
occurred to me, as I sat down, this is a public apology. I was there to
say, trust me when I tell you that you can vote your conscience and your
own compass and you`ll be OK. I should have done it. I regretted that I
didn`t do it.

It was -- it was very liberating, quite honestly.

O`DONNELL: Lynne Osterman, cannot thank you enough for joining us
tonight. Thank you very much.

OSTERMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: "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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