updated 3/29/2013 12:13:35 PM ET 2013-03-29T16:13:35

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
March 28, 2013

Guests: Susan Ludwig; Dannel Malloy, Eugene Robinson, Jonathan Capehart


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight, a story you haven`t heard.
What the children who survived the Sandy Hook massacre are coping with now,
6-year-olds who lost their best friends, who were almost murdered
themselves. A mother of two of those children will join me.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want everybody who is
listening to make yourself heard right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: President Obama keeping up the pressure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The White House has tried to use a lot
of political capital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: On changing the country`s gun laws.

OBAMA: We need everybody to remember how we felt 100 days ago. This
time really is different.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: President`s address will coincide with
140 events in 29 states.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: National day of action. Calling on
Congress to pass new gun laws.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To pressure Congress on background checks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s looking harder than anybody thought.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The name of the game is getting 60 votes for
Democrats right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republican senator Chuck Grassley.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The Grassley amendment in the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is crafting his own gun bill. Strips out the
universal background checks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: He is known to be an opponent of
background checks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone knows the politics of this issue are
hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve got to suck it up. Be courageous and do the
right thing.

OBAMA: There are some powerful voices on the other side interested in
running out the clock or changing the subject.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is not a bill on the hill that provides a
universal check.

OBAMA: Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Universal checks is a dishonest premise.
Criminals aren`t going to be checked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: I think they`re out of touch with the
American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: A vast majority of the public support
background checks.

OBAMA: Their assumption is people will just forget about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s now been three months since one of the worst
mass shootings in American history.

OBAMA: Less than 100 days ago that happened. And we`ve moved on to
other things?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can`t forget it`s the families, it`s the
victims and it`s the future victims if we do nothing.

OBAMA: This time really is different. Shame on us if we have
forgotten.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: For years now, we`ve been hearing opponents of President
Obama and some supporters of his say that he just isn`t willing to fight
for what he believes in. That he compromises too easily, that he gives up
too easily. Today, with most of Washington politicians and the political
media firmly convinced that nothing significant can be done on gun and
ammunition control, the president stubbornly stood and fought for it, but
he did not stand alone. He stood with the parents of children from
Connecticut to California whose lives were snuffed out by gun violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: That anguish is still fresh in Newtown. Less than 100 days
ago that happened. And the entire country was shocked. The entire country
pledged we would do something about it and this time would be different. I
haven`t forgotten those kids. Shame on us, if we have forgotten.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The president pushed for approval of all of his
legislative proposals, including an assault weapons ban, a limit on high-
capacity magazines and he especially emphasized his most popular proposal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Ninety percent support background checks that will keep
criminals and people who have been found to be a danger to themselves or
others from buying a gun. More than 80 percent of Republicans agree. More
than 80 percent of gun owners agree. Think about that. How often do 90
percent of Americans agree on anything?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: No president can bend Congress to his will. And so this
president asked for help from the people who can.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Right now members of Congress are back home in their
districts, and many of them are holding events where they can hear from
their constituents. So I want everybody who is listening to make yourself
heard right now. Tears aren`t enough, expressions of sympathy aren`t
enough. Speeches aren`t enough. Now is the time to turn that heartbreak
into something real.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The president spoke hours after a Connecticut official
released new details on the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary, the shooter
murdered, using a Bushmaster .223 caliber assault rifle. He had ten 30-
round capacity magazines for that weapon. He fired 154 bullets.
Authorities estimate his attack took less than five minutes.

According to search warrants unsealed today at Adam Lanza`s home, the
following items were recovered. A National Rifle Association certificate
with Adam Lanza`s name, an NRA certificate with Nancy Lanza`s name, and
this book "the NRA guide to the basics of pistol shooting." the NRA
released this statement. There is no record of a member relationship
between Newtown killer, Adam Lanza, nor between Nancy Lanza with the
National Rifle Association.

Firearms instructors issue NRA certificates to people who complete
certified classes, regardless of NRA membership.

Joining me now, in an exclusive interview, Democratic governor of
Connecticut, Dannel Malloy and MSNBC`s Joy Reid.

Governor, what did -- what do you think the release of the new
information that we now have, the details that we now have about what
happened in Connecticut, what do you think about how that information helps
frame where the issue stands now?

GOV. DANNEL MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, listen. We need universal
background checks as the president said 90 percent of the American public
supports it. But we also need to get rid of these kinds of weapons. They
are assault weapons. They are used and designed to kill people. That`s
what that weapon was brought to Sandy Hook school for. And it was brought
with large capacity magazines which until 2004 were not allowed in the
United States.

It is time for us to wake up and smell the coffee. We cannot allow
our children and our citizens to be slaughtered. We cannot allow 40
percent of guns in this country to change hands without a background check.
I can`t get on a plane without somebody doing a background check on me.
And yet we`re going to sell 40 percent of our weapons in the United States
without a background check? It makes no sense. Chuck Grassley should be
embarrassed. And I suspect he will be when there`s another mass shooting,
one of which will surely take place in his state if we don`t draw the line
somewhere.

O`DONNELL: And governor, if the old law had been in place, more
children would be alive tonight in ne Newtown, Connecticut. He could only
have killed that many people with the high-capacity magazine, and with the
assault weapon, and since his mother had obtained guns legally, there`s no
indication, no indication, that that home would have had illegally obtained
guns. He would have had -- he would have been limited to legally available
weaponry if he was to go in and do that under the assault weapons ban.

MALLOY: Lawrence, it`s even clearer than that. At the home were ten-
round magazines and twenty-round magazines. He chose not to take those.
He chose not to take them for a very simple purpose. He went to that
school in my state with the purpose of killing as many people as he
possibly could. That`s why he had that gun, that`s why he had 30-round
capacity magazines. That`s why we need to do something about them, as well
as lots of other things that we need to do. Those guns should have been
under a lock. Quite frankly, they should never have been in the home of a
disturbed individual such as this young man. But we need to do a whole
bunch of things.

But arguing that if we don`t get everything done right as a reason not
to do anything is ridiculous. The NRA`s own position used to be that we
should have background checks. They agreed with 90 percent of the American
public. And, of course, we need to do that, and I`m very proud of this
president and this vice president for taking this cause on. Not backing
away when things are a little dim, they`re coming out swinging. And I`m
with them.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to more of what the president had to say
today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There are some powerful voices on the other side interested in
running out the clock or changing the subject or drowning out the majority
of the American people to prevent any of these reforms from happening at
all. They are doing everything they can to make all our progress collapse
under the weight of fear and frustration or their assumption is that people
will just forget about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, this is the president who is frequently
criticized not just by opponents but by supporters of his for not hanging
in there and fighting for things. And while Washington is off on recess,
he is there today. He is pushing for this with just as much energy as he
has all the way through. And it seems to me that this president hasn`t
gotten the pessimism memo that everybody else in Washington got,
apparently, to just give up on this.

JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, absolutely. A lot
of people are looking at polls and saying, oh, goodness, people`s attitudes
on this are softening. Maybe people aren`t paying attention anymore.
There`s a lot of other things going on.

But what you saw, Lawrence, on that dais was a dad and President Obama
is speaking of issues that impact him as a human being, as a father. And
those women standing behind him, those moms, he really, you know, I felt
the crux of his sort of emotional arc in that speech was when he said these
moms, some just lost their children 35 days ago. These are moms asking us,
begging us to do something. And what he was trying to do is to enlist
ordinary people, moms and dads, people with stuff to do, with jobs, with
other priorities, to focus on the fact that this is essentially a war.

This is a war of ordinary people who just want to be safe in their own
communities, in their schools and movie theatres against the might of an
industry, the gun industry, and its court jesters in the NRA who, by the
way, totally believe the government should be able to regulate you. They
think they should be able to regulate your brain.

They want to criminalize essentially the mentally ill and have the
government keep records of them. But they don`t want to have the basic
safeguards of having a background check system so people who are disturbed
can`t get guns. It is ludicrous and insane.

O`DONNELL: Yes. You could almost feel the president trying to reach
through the television camera today out to the American people to get them
to go down to their Congress members` office or senator`s office in the
local districts.

I want to play this new ad that mare mayor Bloomberg`s group has put
out. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We dropped Jesse off in the morning, December
14th, he gave me a hug and kiss and said "I love you dad, and I love mom
too."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our daughter Grace was 7-years-old. She
couldn`t wait to go to school. She would skip down the driveway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My sister loved teaching at Sandy Hook. Every
student would say "I hope I get Ms. Soto next year."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lauren loved children, and she always wanted to
be a teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a 911 call that there was a shooting at
Sandy Hook elementary school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to remember the 26 victims who lost
their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just wanted to teach little kids. And that
was her goal, and she died doing it. Wonderful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the last day I ever saw Jesse alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to prevent any other family from having to
go through what we`re going through.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t let the memory of Newtown fade without
doing something real.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Demand action now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Governor, what do you think is the potential impact of
this double teaming in effect of the president of the United States and
then mayor Bloomberg`s money going into this kind of advertising?

MALLOY: You know, I know all of those people. I spent time with
Jesse`s dad. In fact, Jesse`s dad was the last guy to leave the firehouse
very late after the shooting, well into the night. I left around 10:00.
He was still there.

If this doesn`t touch people, I don`t know what will. Even in my own
state, there are people who don`t want to outlaw the possession of these
large-capacity magazines. I have put forward a proposal that does just
that. I`m hoping it will be taken up by the legislature. I know that
there are people who are -- who don`t want to -- to do that. We`re going
to pass a -- you`re not going to be able to sell those weapons any longer
in our state.

We should not allow those magazines to remain in our state. We should
do the common sense things necessary to move forward on this issue. I
believe we will when everything is said and done. I think this is a wake-
up call to the nation. Don`t let this go away.

And I want to be very clear. There are going to be more of these in
post offices, in malls, in movie theatres. The people who vote against any
of this, this go-round, if it`s defeated, are going to have to explain to
their constituents why they couldn`t agree with 90 percent of Americans
public. Why they couldn`t agree that universal background checks were
necessary. Why they couldn`t limit the sale of these very dangerous
assault weapons that are designed to kill people. And why they couldn`t go
back to the 2004 limitation with respect to magazines and not allow high-
capacity magazines to be possessed in our country any longer.

These are common sense proposals, and we need to do something about it
in our nation. We need to honor the memory of those 20 babies, and those
six educational professionals. We need to honor the memory of people who
have been slaughtered in our jurisdictions in this country. Quite frankly,
we need to start honoring the people who are going to die because we`re not
doing enough.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, I think what we might have seen today at the
presidential podium was the former community organizer trying to be a 50-
state community organizer. Really talking to people directly about
specifically how they can have an influence on their congressional
representatives during this congressional recess with them back in their
districts. He`s pretty much telling them to get out there and go to those
meetings and make some noise.

REID: Yes, no, absolutely. I mean, he is essentially saying that the
side who are one-issue voters, oh only vote on the gun issue are always
motivated. Now, the side of people who want gun safety, who want common
sense gun measures that 90 percent of people agree on, have got to get just
as active. We have got to take time out of our day. We got to watch
commercials like that which are so painful, I can barely get through them
whenever they`re shown. But you`ve got to remind yourself every day of
what we`re fighting for.

It`s people`s right to just be safe at school. To just not have Adam
Lanza be able to amass an arsenal that the NRA, by the way, thinks is a-OK
to buy all those weapons. The NRA should be ashamed, shame on them and
shame on anyone who stands with them instead of those kids in Newtown.

O`DONNELL: Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy and Joy Reid, thank you
both for joining me tonight.

MALLOY: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a last word exclusive, a mother of two Sandy
Hook students who survived the shooting.

And now everyone can see the defense of marriage act is
unconstitutional. Tonight we will pay tribute to those few in Congress who
knew that, 16 years ago. That`s in the rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl shot in the head by the
Taliban, Pakistan because she advocated for girls` education is going to be
able to tell her story in a book. The guardian reports Malala will get $3
million for the book titled "I am Malala."

Malala is attending school in Birmingham, England, where she is still
undergoing treatment after undergoing skull reconstruction and getting
implants to hear again. In a statement, Malala says she hopes the book
will reach people around the world so they realize how difficult it is for
some children to get access to education. I want to tell my story, but it
will also be the story of 61 million children who can`t get education.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: As I said, when I visited Newtown, just over three months ago,
if there is a step we can take that will save just one child, just one
parent, just another town from experiencing the same grief that some of the
moms and dads who are here have endured, then we should be doing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was the president at the White House today with
families victimized by gun violence around the country, including parents
of some of the children massacred at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut.

In Newtown today, residents protested outside of the national shooting
sports foundation, which is one of the largest gun lobbies in the country.
It happens to be headquartered in Newtown, just three miles away from Sandy
Hook elementary school.

Joining me now for an exclusive interview, one of today`s protesters,
Susan Ludwig, the mother two of children who were at Sandy Hook elementary
school the day of the shooting.

Susan, thank you for joining us tonight.

I just want to make clear to the audience, your children survived that
day. Tell us what it was like when you arrived at the school and saw
children being carried out with bullet wounds.

SUSAN LUDWIG, MOTHER OF SANDY HOOK STUDENTS: Yes, that`s correct. I
have four children, and two of my kids were at Sandy Hook that day. One is
six, and she in first grade, and one is seven and is in second grade. And
day on December 14th, he was headed into school to -- I was supposed to be
making gingerbread houses in my daughter`s first grade class. But on the
way to school, about a half mile from the school, I saw another parent from
the class in the middle of the road, and she was with four of those boys
that escaped, and she said to me, something is really wrong. These boys
are saying someone is trying to kill them. So, I rushed to the school and
I parked my car there and I started to go inside and there were a couple
police cars there at the time. And they wouldn`t let me in the school so I
stayed in that parking lot and I waited for things to happen.

As I waited, more and more police cars came and with rifles and what
not. And as I waited, finally one of the police officers came out, and he
was carrying one of my daughter`s Daisy, friends in his arms. And she had
long brown hair just like my daughter`s. And I had to look very hard to
make sure it wasn`t my daughter, and it wasn`t. But, she had a gunshot
wound to her head and blood all over her mid drift and he held her there
until he could get her to an ambulance.

And I waited and at that point I thought, you know, maybe this is
just, you know a crazy parent. And then the second child came out. And
she was the sole survivor from the other class. And she was absolutely
head to toe covered in blood and flesh, just hanging on her whole body.
And her mother was in that parking lot that day, luckily. But when I saw
her, I knew that it wasn`t just a shooting. It had been a massacre.

And so, then I started to wait, and I waited, and I watched until -- I
just sat there begging god that my kids, please be safe. And finally, my
kids did come out and they walked down to the firehouse where we met with
other parents, but there were many parents that day that couldn`t find
their children and my heart breaks for them. They live every parent`s
worst nightmare.

O`DONNELL: Susan, what did the children who walked out that day
experience as they were walking out of their school -- their school
building?

LUDWIG: They were terrified. Some of those children had to walk past
their principal, Dawn Hochsprung, dead on the floor in her own blood. Some
of -- my children, I`m happy to say, luckily enough, came out the back
door. And so, they didn`t -- they could hear the gunshots and the
screaming over the intercoms, but my children did not have to see any of
the gore. They just knew -- they just knew that it had happened.

O`DONNELL: Susan, I wanted you to bring us back to that day as a
preamble, actually, to what we`re going to listen to the president say
right now, something else that he had to say at the White House today.

LUDWIG: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The notion that two months or three months after something as
horrific as what happened in Newtown happens, and we have moved on to other
things? That`s not who we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Susan, it seems that the NRA and others are counting on
that being who we are. That we have just moved on, that a couple of months
is enough.

LUDWIG: The NRA likes to call us the Connecticut effect. And I can
tell you that as a mother who has had her children almost murdered, who has
had to sit back and watch while 20 of their friends and six of their
teachers were murdered, who has had -- I`ve had to watch as my children`s
sense of safety and innocence has been stripped from them, let alone their
mental -- what`s going to happen to them mentally. I can tell you my
feelings and the feelings of this country have not changed, and will not
change.

O`DONNELL: Susan, you made a point in something that you wrote about
this, that if the old assault weapons ban had been in place, Adam Lanza
would not have had that gun. Expand on that, please.

LUDWIG: If that weapon had been in place, he wouldn`t have had that
gun. But what happened instead -- what happened, you know, 22 decades can
ago was that the assault weapons ban was left to expire. And they had
started at that time -- the CDC had started researching on ways to prevent
gun violence. And what happened instead was that the NRA and the NSSF got
a-hold of some of our elected officials, and they were able to get them to
stop trying to find out ways to get information to prevent gun violence
while we weren`t looking. They -- while we weren`t paying attention, they
changed the laws. They let these things expire.

O`DONNELL: Susan, the president made the point today that if we could
save one life, if we could spare one family, if we can spare one town from
going through this, then it`s worth it. The NRA and the organization up
there in Connecticut where you live that opposes any kind of restrictions
on guns, they always make the argument, well, hey, this won`t solve the
problem. This won`t end the possibility of people going into a school and
shooting children. But if we did limit the magazines and the capacity and
if that limit had still been in place, more children would be alive at
Sandy Hook elementary today.

LUDWIG: I mean, I absolutely agree. If there weren`t assault weapons
-- the NRA likes to use the excuse that people will hurt people, whether
they have a gun or not. And even at the hearing that I went to in
Hartford, they said if they don`t have a gun they will use something like a
hammer. And my reply to them is I`ve never seen 26 people die by hammer
before.

O`DONNELL: Susan Ludwig, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
And thank you for sharing with us what you`ve had to go through there.

LUDWIG: OK. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the evolution of the president of the United
States, and America on marriage equality.

And in the rewrite, a tribute to who was right about the defense of
marriage act in 1996.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY: But I have to admit, being able to go back to our own
life and, you know, going to the grocery store and shopping on my own is
kind of nice to do by myself without a bunch of people hanging around with
me. So, you know, I like the life of being an American citizen. It`s good
to live a normal life again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And if you believe that --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our journey is not
complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else
under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we
commit to one another must be equal, as well.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, how a president evolved on
marriage equality and brought the country with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What I believe is that marriage is between a man and a woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So marriage is not a civil right, as far as you`re
concerned?

OBAMA: I don`t think marriage is a civil right.

My feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this.
I have friends -- I have people who work for me who are in powerful,
strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions. At this point, what I`ve said
is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the
protections and the legal rights that married couples have.

I`ve been going through an evolution on this issue. And I`ve just
concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and
affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The same week President Obama affirmed his support for
marriage equality, North Carolina, a battleground state the president was
fighting to win in November, became the 30th state in the nation to pass a
ban on same-sex marriage. In late 2009, only 41 percent supported same-sex
marriage. Before President Obama`s endorsement 49% supported it. By
December 2012, after President Obama won re-election with marriage equality
on his party`s platform, marriage equality hit majority support. 51
percent for the first time.

That was bolstered by a surge of support from African-Americans. In
2009, 32 percent of African-Americans approved of same-sex marriage. By
December 12th, 51 percent supported it, a stunning 19-point increase. And
to see where the country is today, just look at the new "Time Magazine"
covers. Gay marriage already won.

Joining me now are the "Washington Post`s" Eugene Robinson and
Jonathan Capehart, both MSNBC contributors. Eugene, I don`t know if, in
our experience, we have seen such a quick rise in polling for a social
issue like this. Is there anything that you can think of where we see that
kind of curve?

EUGENE ROBINSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": No, nothing I can think. I
mean, it`s as if it just -- the nation turned on a dime on the question of
gay marriage. I think you have to -- have to say that President Obama`s
switch, after his long evolution, seems to have had a real impact on the
speed of this change. It was extraordinary.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to something that Tony Perkins said just
after the president endorsed same-sex marriage during the presidential
campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: I don`t think the president
did a political calculus to do this. Because if he did, he needs to go
back to the calculator, because it`s a bad formula. Because when you look
at the state`s -- North Carolina, a key swing state, Ohio, they have an
amendment. You know, 16 -- the key swing states, 10 of them have marriage
amendments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, it looks like not such a tough call
from where we sit today. But a lot of people thought that Tony Perkins had
that political math right back then.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": A lot of people it. But a
lot of people also thought he was wrong. I have to say that, you know,
Gene said that it seems like the president`s words had an impact. I can
speak from my own experience that with my own mother, a born-again
Christian, the president`s words had a direct impact. I`ve been out to my
mother for years now since I came home from college. And slowly but
surely, she came around to being fine with having a gay son.

But it wasn`t until the president said that he supported same-sex
marriage that, one, we ever talked about the issue. But two, that my
mother understood -- understood why this was important -- why it was
important. And because she loves the president, she supports the
president, because he said it, it made it OK for her, one, to hear what he
had to say and to understand the issue, and two, to come on out and support
it.

O`DONNELL: Eugene, this is fascinating, because Jonathan`s mother
loves Jonathan and supports him, but she also -- she also loves this
president and supports him. Gene, talk about the unique aspects of this
kind of presidential communication in this kind of situation, and how it
can change people`s minds.

ROBINSON: Well, I think the interesting thing here is that, as you
noted in the intro, President Obama said just a few years ago, marriage is
between a man and a woman. So he started at a point where a lot of
Americans were. And then he essentially said, you know, I hadn`t thought
deeply enough about this issue. I`ve gotten to know -- there are people
who work for me, people I know who are in these long-term unions. And I
think -- a huge factor, aside from President Obama himself having vocalized
it, is that more people are out.

And so those of us who are heterosexual know gay people and know
lesbians and know couples who live in our neighborhoods, who have been
together for a long time. And we ask ourselves, why shouldn`t they get
married? What`s the problem?

O`DONNELL: You know, I was talking to a senator about this last night
confidentially. And Jonathan, he says that the heroes are people like you,
people who made their own decision to come out within their family, and
then suddenly someone discovers, oh, my uncle is gay, and I love my uncle.
He`s my favorite uncle. And now someone over here just said something bad
about gay people. I don`t like that. And this network of connection built
and built and built over time. And that is what we have seen.

And that is what this senator was saying he believes Justice Roberts
was mistaking in the Supreme Court as political power, some sort of
leveraged political power, when, in fact, it was coming -- the power was
coming from real voters.

CAPEHART: Right, from real voters, from real people. Look, in the
1970s, I believe it was 1978, Harvey Milk, in a speech, said I want every
gay person in America to come out oh. I know it will be difficult, but
when heterosexuals see us as their friends, their co-workers, their
relatives, their neighbors, we will -- we will be seen as not an other. We
will be seen as something that`s not pernicious, that`s not dangerous. We
will be seen as, you know, fellow Americans, basically.

And so it`s that quiet revolution that`s been happening around dinner
tables and living rooms across the country ever since Harvey Milk said that
that`s led us to this point today. Those numbers that are shifting so
rapidly is because there are lots of brave people who sit down at those
dinner tables and say to their relatives, say to their friends, say to
their neighbors and co-workers who they are and finding out that those
folks, by and large, accept them, support them.

Now, that`s not to say that, you know, every story is as wonderful as,
say, Will Portman`s story who came out to his father, Senator Rob Portman,
and his father had an open heart and was willing to listen to him and was
willing to also change his position on same-sex marriage. There are lots
of people who come out to their families who are kicked out of their homes,
lose their jobs. But these numbers that are shifting so rapidly in favor
of same-sex marriage and viewing, you know, gay and lesbians` fight for
civil rights as something that`s about fairness and about equal protection
under the law, that`s something, you know, this country can celebrate.

And whatever the Supreme Court does, whatever it decides, you know, no
later than June, the country will get there, and is going to get there a
whole lot faster than we think.

O`DONNELL: Gene, I -- you know, the one thing comes to mind to me
here is Bobby Kennedy on civil rights. I think he had a unique ability to
communicate to certain classes of white voters, especially the American
Irish. And I lived through the period where his communication on that
subject was changing minds in a way that we`ve seen, but not at the rate
and not at the scale that we have seen President Obama achieve in the way
he has led the country on this. Are there any other examples of this that,
as we sit here, come to mind?

ROBINSON: I think Bobby Kennedy is a good example. I`m not sure -- I
mean, frankly, Gene McCarthy had a similar effect with some people on the
Vietnam War. But, you know, I don`t know that there`s really a precedent.
It`s interesting, because African-American ministers have long been -- or a
number of them have long been very anti gay marriage. And some ministers
have told me they predicted before the election that the president`s stance
was going to cost him votes among African-Americans in the election. And
you know, the number of votes it cost him is precisely zero.

CAPEHART: Right.

ROBINSON: It cost him no support at all. And it`s just remarkable.

CAPEHART: As my mother will attest.

O`DONNELL: We all heard those warnings. Eugene Robinson, Jonathan
Capehart, thank you both for joining me tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

ROBINSON: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a tribute to who was right about the Defense of
Marriage Act when it became law in 1996. That`s in the Rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In a new poll, Elizabeth Colbert Bush is beating Stephen
Colbert. The poll shows South Carolina`s first congressional district
giving Elizabeth Colbert Busch a favorable rating of 45 percent and 36
percent feel favorably toward her little brother.

Next, some very important video you will want to see of people who
were right about the Defense of Marriage Act back when most people were
wrong.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the Rewrite tonight, another episode of they were
right; 16.5 years ago, the vote on the Defense of Marriage Act in the House
of Representatives was 342 in favor, 67 opposed. In the Senate, the vote
was 85 in favor, only 14 opposed. And now at the Supreme Court on the
verge of rewriting the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, it is
worth remembering who was right when America needed them to be right.

Here are some of the voices that were raised in Congress when saying
no to the Defense of Marriage Act took real political courage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: I rise in strong opposition to
this ill-named Defense of Marriage Act. And I do so on the basis of
conscience, Constitution and constituency.

REP. NEIL ABERCROMBIE (D), HAWAII: I understand some of the people
who are sponsoring this bill are on their second or third marriages. I
wonder which one they`re defending.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: This bill seeks to divide our nation,
turning Americans against Americans, sowing the seeds of fear, hatred and
intolerance.

SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Whether senators are for or
against same-sex marriage, there are ample reasons to vote against this
bill because it represents an unconstitutional exercise of Congressional
power.

SEN. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I recognize that my views are
likely to be in the minority, as well as unpopular. But this isn`t the
first time I`ve come to the well to stand up for what I believe in. And it
won`t be the last.

REP. LYNN WOLLSEY (D), CALIFORNIA: Let`s not take part in this
assault on lesbian and gay Americans and their families.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: Discrimination is discrimination
and it is wrong.

LEWIS: This bill is a slap in the face of the Declaration of
Independence.

REP. LYNN RIVERS (D), MICHIGAN: I rise in opposition to this bill,
and I oppose it with both my head and my heart.

REP. CHARLES ROBB (D), VIRGINIA: I feel very strongly that this
legislation is fundamentally wrong. And feeling as I do, I would not be
true to my conscience or my oath of office if I failed to speak out against
it.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: To me, this is ugly politics. To
me, it is about dividing us instead of bringing us together. To me it is
about scape goating. To me, it is a diversion from what we should be
doing.

REP. SAM FARR (D), CALIFORNIA: This bill is about meanness.

LEWIS: You cannot tell people they cannot fall in love.

SEN. BOB KERREY (D), NEBRASKA: These couples are not hurting us with
their actions. In fact, they may be helping us by showing us that love can
indeed conquer prejudice and hatred.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: The arguments against gay and
lesbian marriage are essentially the same arguments that we used to hear
against black/white marriages.

REP. GERRY STUDDS (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I also thought for a moment I
was in some kind of revival meeting. I was about to be preached at by
Leviticus. The particular chapter which was implicitly cited in Leviticus
is not very popular in my district, because the next verse forbids the
eating of shellfish. And I would caution people in citing that.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: This bill isn`t conservative. It`s big
brother to the core. My judgement is this is a subject the federal
government ought not to stick it`s nose in.

REP. STEVE GUNDERSON (R), WISCONSIN: Why are we so mean? Why are we
so motivated by prejudice, intolerance and unfortunately, in some cases,
bigotry?

LEWIS: Why do you want to destroy the love they hold in their hearts?
Why do you want to crush their hopes, their dreams, their longings, their
aspirations? We are talking about human beings, people like you.

GUNDERSON: Why shouldn`t my partner of 13 years be entitled to the
same health insurance and survivors benefits that individuals around here,
my colleagues with second and third wives, are able to give to them?

LEWIS: I`ve fought too hard and too long against discrimination based
on race and color to stand up against discrimination based on sexual
orientation.

REP. PATSY MINK (D), HAWAII: It seems to me quite apparent that our
court system is going to yield a decisions which will validate same sex
marriages.

STUDDS: We are going to prevail, Mr. Chairman. And we`re going to
prevail just as every other component of the civil rights movement in this
country has prevailed.

SEN. CAROL MOSELEY-BRAUN (D), ILLINOIS: I hope that every person on
this floor and every person who is going to look at and vote on this bill
consider for a moment what the judgement of history might be if 50 years
from now their grand children look at their debates and look at their words
in support of this mean spirited legislation, and consider the judgement
that will be cast upon them then.

GUNDERSON: I stand here today with respect and with love for each of
you as fellow members of the human race. All I ask in return is that you
don`t intentionally make me any less worthy than you.

LEWIS: We`re moving towards the 21st century. Let us come together
and create one nation, one people, one family, one house, the American
house, the American family, the American nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: As the Republican party tries to work through its identity
crisis, Sarah Palin is trying to get Republicans to part with their money
for her nonexistent political future one more time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I would not be in the U.S. Senate today if
it were not for Governor Sarah Palin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Krystal Ball co-host of MSNBC`s "THE
CYCLE." Krystal, I just spared the audience, as I think you know, another
two minutes of this Palin self-worship video that she`s put out there,
trolling for money to try to keep that PAC of hers, that big slush fund
that she and Todd use to travel around the country, keep that full.

And there`s Ted Cruz saying, hey, without Sarah Palin, you know, I
wouldn`t be in the Senate. And of course, without Sarah Palin, it is
entirely possible that Harry Reid would not be in the Senate and that
Republicans would actually control the Senate.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Yes, that`s exactly right. She also
backed great candidates like Christine O`Donnell, Sharron Angle and Richard
Mourdock. The part of the video that you didn`t show that your viewers
will be spared from is basically a bunch of media clips seeking to validate
that she is still relevant. And the thing that I really like about that is
she has basically made her career blasting the, quote, lamestream media.
And then this whole thing is using clips from the lamestream media to claim
-- desperately claim that she is still somehow relevant.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And unfortunately, there is no clip of me in there
asserting -- asserting her irrelevance. But this is exactly the kind of
thing that Republicans worry about. Because, you know, there she is.
She`s out there. She`s draining -- she will drain money, surely. She`ll
have some success raising money. And that`s money that, you know, the Karl
Roves of the world, her new rival, are also out there trying to drum up so
that people -- and Karl Rove would say that they could direct it toward
more candidates with a better chance of winning.

BALL: Well, that`s exactly right. And not only that, she is the
image of the Republican party that they want to move beyond. It`s no
surprise that she is against the Republican rebranding, because she
basically is the problem with the Republican party. Jingoistic,
simplistic, not trusting science, you know, that is what the Republican
party has been, out on the fringe, extreme. But they`re hoping -- some of
them, at least, to try to move beyond. And she is just insistently
thrusting herself back into the public sphere.

O`DONNELL: In the last report that she filed on her PAC, the end of
2012, she only had 1.1 million dollars. So you can see how just for her
travel fund alone, she`s going to need a lot more than that to get around
the country.

BALL: Absolutely. And I think it`s going to be a little bit of tough
sledding. I do think she has gone from having a real platform to -- this
video is really just about her pleading with the public that she still has
some sort of role and some sort of influence that she can play in the
Republican party.

O`DONNELL: You know, one of my favorite things about the video is, if
someone was sitting down to cut a video to ridicule Sarah Palin, they would
use a lot of the same elements. It`s really funny thing that way. The
things that she thinks -- that she uses for self-praise others would use to
attack her with at the same time.

BALL: She thinks she is this woman of the people. Or at least she
pretends to be that or portrays herself as that, while creating this whole,
I mean, incredibly egotistical video that`s just all about her.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thanks, Krystal.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner is up next.

END

Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>

Watch The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET