'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
May 2, 2013
Guests: Sam Stein, Howard Dean, Stephanie Schriock, Jonathan Capehart
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: On the eve of the National Rifle
Association annual convention, we`re going to talk about guns tonight,
among other things, like which women might run for president in 2016. And
we`re going to spend some time talking about a particular gun -- one that
is designed and made for children, a gun that was bought as a gift for a 5-
year-old boy who then used it to accidentally kill his 2-year-old sister.
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R-TX), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: The American people
are for background checks.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: We know that America is divided.
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: Divided government is a recipe for gridlock.
WAGNER: But nowhere are we as fractious as we are on guns.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: There are people on my side --
RUSSERT: Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey --
TOOMEY: -- who didn`t want to be perceived --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who didn`t want to be perceived as helping --
TOOMEY: -- helping something that the president wants to accomplish.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because the president wants to accomplish it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many of his Republican colleagues voted no
because they didn`t want to give the president a political victory.
RUSSERT: Picking politics over policy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Background checks is the appropriate public
HUTCHISON: The American people are for background checks.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: That`s why Senator Joe Manchin, who co-
sponsored the original background check bill --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Manchin-Toomey rewrite.
COLBERT: -- has vowed to reintroduce it.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I`m willing to go anywhere in
this country. I`m willing to debate anybody on this issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is wrong with universal background checks?
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte.
COLBERT: One of the heroes who voted to block the gun bill.
MICHELL: Her vote against expanded background checks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s having to answer for her vote.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at this evidence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kelly Ayotte experienced a 15-point slide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Toomey has seen a significant bump.
TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: This expanded background check was
HUTCHISON: The American people are for background checks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened here was not a policy position.
WAGNER: We know that America is divided.
RUSSERT: Divided government is a recipe for gridlock.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re there for certain reasons. If you cannot
come to terms, I`m not sure why you`re in office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, come on.
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: You don`t miss it at all, do you?
HUTCHISON: I don`t.
HUTCHISON: Not one minute.
O`DONNELL: United States senators who voted against the modest
bipartisan legislation to expand background checks are finding out
firsthand from voters that it is not over. New Hampshire Republican
Senator Kelly Ayotte, who had a confrontation at a town hall Tuesday with
the daughter of a victim of the Newtown massacre was pressed about her vote
and another town hall today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I received your four-page letter regarding guns
and background checks. I really don`t understand. It doesn`t make sense
to me. What is wrong with universal background checks?
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: On this issue, my -- I`ve
described it for you. But I will tell you in terms of a universal
background check, as it`s been framed. I have a lot of concerns about that
leading to a registry that will create a privacy situation for lawful
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: But Vice President Joe Biden debunked the gun registry
conspiracy theory in a conversation with Senator John McCain last week by
explaining exactly how these background checks work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You say, I want to
buy that shotgun, or I want to buy that AR-15, or I want to buy whatever it
is. that Glock .9, what happens is, the clerk picks up a phone, there is an
automatic dial number, gets either the FBI. And so, they say, I`ve got Joe
Biden here. He lives at such-and-such -- gives my address. And says I`m a
U.S. citizen. And I assert he`s never -- asserts he`s not disqualified
from owning a gun.
It doesn`t say what kind of gun I want to buy. It doesn`t give the
registration number, serial number. It doesn`t do anything. And within
three minutes, 93 percent of the time, it comes back and says, accept or
It doesn`t say don`t sell him a gun because he has been adjudicated
mentally incompetent. Don`t sell him a gun because he`s a convicted felon.
It just says that`s it.
And that outfit in West Virginia has to tear up the request. They
can`t even keep for 24 hours the fact that somebody called and asked about
a guy, Biden, can he buy a gun?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The annual National Rifle Association convention is in
Houston this weekend.
An NRA public affairs officer speaking about the convention said, "The
NRA doesn`t do pep rallies. We`re engaged in a long battle that will take
years. We know it`s not over."
The NRA convention has a leadership forum scheduled for tomorrow,
featuring such leaders as governor dropout Sarah Palin, freshman Senator
Ted Cruz, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who has a whopping 38 percent
approval rating in his own state, and Republican presidential campaign
losers Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.
But the really big event is, of course, Saturday night in what the NRA
is calling, quote, their words, "the most important gathering of the year."
And that, of course, can only mean a keynote speech by Glenn Beck.
And to close the convention Sunday night, Ted Nugent will speak about,
quote, "repaying our debt to heroes," end quote.
Apparently, the NRA could not get an actual military veteran to speak
about, quote, "the ultimate sacrifices of the U.S. military warriors and
their families." So, they got Ted Nugent.
Joining me now are NRA enemies list member E.J. Dionne, a columnist
for "The Washington Post", and "The Huffington Post`s" Sam Stein, "The
Grio`s" Joy Reid.
E.J., I want to start with you, because you are the only one among us
who is actually on the NRA`s enemies list. You`ve earned it. Others of us
have tried to earn it. And apparently --
E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: You don`t get there, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: But, E.J., this really is not over. When you watch what`s
happening to Kelly Ayotte up there, I found the most striking thing in that
town meeting for me, as someone who is looking at the way this stuff works
on the inside, was that voter saying, "I received your four-page letter
regarding guns and background checks." E.J., I think you know how much
trouble a senator has to be in to send a four-page letter to her
constituents about a vote that she just cast.
DIONNE: And she is in trouble when a constituent reads the entire
four-page letter and still can`t figure out why she voted the way she
voted. By the way, I just want to say, Lawrence, for the first time ever,
you and I can both say, we agree with the NRA on something. It`s not over.
I don`t think the background -- certainly, the long fight for gun
sanity is not over. But I don`t think the background check`s fight is over
either. And I think the trouble that Kelly Ayotte is in up there, the fact
that good citizens in a calm but really firm way are saying, why did you
vote this way? The fact that all the people in that room, all those people
who applauded in that room are sending a message to her, to Rob Portman,
and to a lot of other senators who voted no, thinking that was the
politically safe vote. Jeff Flake is another one.
I think they are discovering that for the first time, really, the
politics of this may be quite different than they were before. And that a
lot of the energy is actually on the side of people who want to pass sane
gun laws. So, I think we are going to see this come back, and I still
think it`s going to pass the Senate. The House then will have to deal
O`DONNELL: And Republican Senator Pat Toomey, co-author of the bill
that should have passed, has made things more difficult for Republicans
politically by what he said in Philadelphia.
Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOOMEY: I thought that we had settled on a really common sense
approach that ought to be able to achieve a consensus. I think in the end
we didn`t, because our politics have become so polarized. And there are
people on my side who didn`t want to be perceived to be helping something
that the president wants to accomplish, simply because it`s the president
who wants to accomplish it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joy, it`s one of those things that was obvious. We got
it. But there`s something about a Republican senator involved in the
effort actually saying it on the record and in this case on video.
JOY REID, THE GRIO: Yes, that it`s obstruction for obstruction sake
because of Obama. And it`s important that it`s Toomey saying that. You
know, he`s part of that class of 2010. These guys that were elected in
2010, Ron Johnson, Wisconsin, people who are elected in basically blue or
purple states, like he was in Pennsylvania, that they have to be up in
2016, which is the presidential year.
Now, that may seem like a long way off and they may have thought it`s
safe, OK to vote against background checks now, because I`m not up until
`16. But A, that`s a presidential year. B, those are blue and purple
states. C, independent voters really care about this idea of working
across the aisle. They really don`t like this idea of obstruction and it`s
not just going to be one vote.
This vote is going to come back. They`re going to be on the record
more than once voting against something pretty much everybody is for which
is background checks.
O`DONNELL: Sam, it`s interesting to me to see what these senators are
doing back in their districts. There is Kelly Ayotte who has got a problem
she is trying to manage these town hall meetings.
There`s Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania saying this thing to Pennsylvania
newspaper and editorial board meeting.
It used to be in the old days, some, I don`t know, 15 years ago, what
the senator was saying in Pennsylvania to his local paper wouldn`t be part
of your problem in New Hampshire. Now, with all this information flowing,
and with this -- New Hampshire voters are going to see Pat Toomey saying
that on video --
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: Yes.
O`DONNELL: -- when they show up at the next Kelly Ayotte event.
STEIN: It`s instantaneous. And you know, part of -- I think it`s
very hard to overstate the significance of the Pat Toomey quote.
Obviously, as you said, everyone knew about it. Everyone knew that was the
reason why. But to have it said like that, and so sincere and somber way
really struck me as an -- like an amazing admission.
Secondly, you`re right about how instantaneous this all is. Not only
are groups sending people out to these town halls to make sure the senators
are confronted on their vote, but they can adjust basically between town
And so, one of the things I`m expecting to happen is that Senator
Ayotte is going to be called out on this thing about a national registry,
not just because of what you pled with Joe Biden, but because the bill
explicitly punishes government for up to 15 years in jail if they create a
That`s the natural follow-up question that follows Kelly Ayotte
around. And I think you`re right. It will happen because we have a fast-
moving dialogue going on with guns right now.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Kay Bailey Hutchinson, former
Republican senator from Texas said about this and Pat Toomey with Jon
Stewart last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLI)
HUTCHISON: Let me say, Pat Toomey, the senator from Pennsylvania, did
a yeoman`s job working -
STEWART: He and Joe Manchin came together, got a compromised bill.
HUTCHISON: And really, the American people are for background checks.
STEWART: Like 90 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And, E.J., this is a former Texas Republican. This is no
New Jersey Republican talking there.
DIONNE: Well, she is the sort of person that Ted Cruz would call a
DIONNE: Because she`s in favor of this very modest measure.
No, and I think what`s depressing is, how few Republicans crossed over
on this. There was a time not so long ago, 10, 15 years ago, when you
could get quite a lot of Republicans voting for sane gun legislation.
Heck, not just background checks, but also an assault weapons ban.
And it shows how ideological that party has become. I mean, when Pat
Toomey, who is a very loyally conservative guy, showing the clips of him at
CPAC. When he becomes a moderate, that tells you something about what`s
happened to that party.
But I think a lot of the people who vote for Republican senators,
particularly in purple or blue states, expect them to be more moderate than
many of those senators who voted against background checks.
STEIN: Let me jump on that. It`s not that well-known that in 2004
and 2000, George W. Bush ran on an assault weapons ban, on triggers on
guns, on background checks. It`s not well-known. Obviously, he didn`t
publicize that much during the campaigns. But those were his positions.
And I think it`s remarkable, as E.J. said, how far we have moved. You
said 10, 15 years ago, you can imagine moderate Republicans coming to
background checks -- 10, 15 years ago, the NRA was for background checks.
So, yes, the conversation has moved dramatically. And the only
explanation is really what Pat Toomey offered, which is that because the
president supported it, therefore Republicans had to oppose it.
O`DONNELL: Sam, that thing you said about George W. Bush is so not
well-known that this side of the table did not know that.
STEIN: You know everything.
O`DONNELL: I didn`t know that.
O`DONNELL: Now I know everything.
STEIN: I`ll get you the clips.
O`DONNELL: Joy, the -- we`re watching the polling on these senators,
it`s not just Kelly Ayotte who has had a problem. Toomey`s polling goes
In the Toomey polling going up, which I think is the most important
thing for other Republicans to watch, what that -- there seems to be
something in that, that says, hey, there`s something to be said for what
looks like statesmanship.
REID: Right. Well, not just Toomey, but look at Mary Landrieu in
Louisiana, always considered vulnerable. She`s up in a state that has
almost no gun laws, that`s how conservative they are. Her numbers went up
too. So did Kay Hagan`s in North Carolina, not a liberal state.
So, when you`re starting to see even red state Democrats` numbers go
up -- and, by the way, bill was crafted pretty smartly. The part about
assault weapons was an amendment. The main actual bill was called the
Public Safety and Second Amendment Protection Act, like the bill was
written specifically to be all about background checks and prohibiting
anything like a registry.
So the way it was written, protected people like Toomey, even with gun
owners. So, to vote against something that moderate, that compromised-
laden, makes people look extreme.
O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, the NRA`s enemy`s list, and the LAST WORD`s
friends list, Joy Reid, thank you for being here.
REID: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And the in-studio version of Sam Stein, teaching me
something I did not know -- thank you very much for being here, Sam.
STEIN: Of course.
DIONNE: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming, what wouldn`t you do for money? Seriously. What legal thing
would you not do to make money? It is an important question. And I`ll
give you my answer to that question in tonight`s rewrite.
Plus, Howard Dean will join me to talk about how the Republicans are
now blaming the president for not getting more legislation through
Congress. You know, the legislation that the Republicans are blocking.
And we know Hillary Clinton is running for president. The woman is
running, OK? That`s not to be debated on this program. But what other
women might run for president next time? That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: So it turns out all you have to do to break legislative
gridlock is get outside of the Beltway. Thirty-two miles outside, in fact,
32 miles from the United States Capitol, the Maryland statehouse in a
three-month legislative session. Only three months, sent the following
bills to Governor Martin O`Malley, most of which he signed today.
The first bill O`Malley signed today made Maryland the 18th state to
abolish the death penalty, the first below the Mason-Dixon Line. Governor
O`Malley also signed a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to get state
driver`s licenses and a bill to expand early voting.
He also signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana and will soon sign
a gun safety bill that mandates background checks, bans certain kinds of
assault weapons, and limits magazines to holding ten bullets. What a
difference 32 miles makes.
Coming up in the spotlight, Hillary Clinton drops another hint, if you
think these are hints, about what you already know about her future. But
what other women are angling to run for president next time? I think I
know a woman senator who has presidential dreams for 2016, and I`ll tell
you who that is, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They`re worried about
their politics. It`s tough. Their base thinks that compromise with me is
somehow a betrayal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Tuesday`s presidential press conference did not produce
any actual news, but it did produce a moment that the Republican Party has
decided to use in a new web ad attacking the president. It was, of course,
the ridiculous juice moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLI)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One hundred days into his second term, the
president was reminded he hasn`t had a whole lot of legislative success.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president questioned about his language and
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s 100-day mark, faced a string of defeats.
It`s Only 100 days into his second term, already faced a string of defeats
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you still have the juice to get the rest of
your agenda through this Congress?
OBAMA: When you put it that way, Jon -- maybe I should just pack up
and go home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gun bill failed, the sequester appears to stay
and immigration reform still a glimmer of hope, wisely because the
president has stayed out of it.
OBAMA: Maybe I should just pack up and go home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, there you have a Republican ad, attacking the
president, apparently a co-production of the Republican Party and ABC News.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: You know, it`s very interesting.
These guys are probably around 23 percent in the polls. I am shocked that
the vaunted Republican Party message machine is as incompetent as this. If
you`re 23 percent of the polls, you do not get advanced by running negative
ads about someone else. It`s just basic politics.
All they`re doing is driving their own negatives down, no credibility.
They got clobbered in the last election. I think they`re doing everything
they can to make sure Congress goes Democratic in 2014. It`s great.
O`DONNELL: I have got to get your reaction to the presidential press
conference. As someone who has been up there, as a candidate, as a
governor, and you`re facing the president, getting these questions. When I
watch it, what I`m -- what I see too much of, not all, but what I see too
much of is, the reporters caring more about the questions and phrasings of
their questions and little catch words like juice and all that stuff, so
that they can have the colorful moment that gets used in everybody`s video.
DEAN: That`s been used for -- been done for a long time.
O`DONNELL: What does it feel like when you`re watching that happen
and know this guy is trying to do this so he gets his --
DEAN: Lawrence, my problem, I`m very direct about what I feel. I`m
likely to call the guy an ignoramus which is true, but presidential
candidates should want say that. But that`s true. I mean, that`s one of
the reasons people don`t respect the press very much. It`s because it`s
such an inside the Beltway game.
It really is true. I think you put your finger on it. They care more
about their little two seconds in the national television, and so they ask
these silly questions. And then, of course, if -- you know, if you ask a
question as a reporter and the Republicans use it in their ad, you probably
haven`t acquitted yourself very well.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s kind of prove.
DEAN: But the problem is in the old days the editor would have
stamped on someone like that, and today they do it because it cranks up the
O`DONNELL: Talk about your neighboring state of New Hampshire and
what`s happening to Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte there after this gun
DEAN: Well, New Hampshire is very interesting. They had the craziest
legislature in the entire country in the last session. And the people of
New Hampshire rebelled and threw them out of office and gave the Democrats
back a majority this time around.
And Kelly Ayotte, I think, totally misread the electorate and thought
it was these right wing nut jobs who were in the House who got there sort
of by accident in a lot of ways. And so, she has misread her electorate
badly. She could lose her seat on this. There are not many Republicans
will, she could because New Hampshire is a moderate centrist state.
And she did not appear to be a moderate centrist. She`s got some time
to make that up. But I would say of all of the Republicans hurt badly, she
is in the worst shape as a result of that vote.
O`DONNELL: And when you see -- when you cast these votes, we rarely
get to see a polling effect. The way we`re seeing them with Pat Toomey in
DEAN: I was very surprised.
The thing that shocked me the most was Jeff Flake`s collapse in
O`DONNELL: Yes, which he`s now acknowledging saying this is real.
DEAN: That means ordinary people who happen to be Republicans are in
favor of background checks.
O`DONNELL: Well, the other Republican senator in the state voted for
it, John McCain voted --
DEAN: Well, McCain has been able to stand up for what he believes. I
may not agree but you`ve got to give him credit for standing up what he
thinks is right, which a lot of people on both parties, but particularly in
the Republican Party, didn`t do.
This is a bankrupt strategy, Lawrence. They`re using the same
playbook they used last time and they got clobbered. That is, let`s not
give the president any victories.
DEAN: The problem is -- I don`t understand how they can misread this
so badly. They got absolutely clobber in the election when the biggest
vote against them and they`re going to go right back the same old strategy.
This doesn`t help people like Cantor trying to rebrand the Republican
Party. It just makes them look like the same old horrible gas bags they
were in the first two years.
O`DONNELL: But a lot of them, anyway, now do seem to be trying to
find a way to get there on immigration. And get to a bill-signing with the
DEAN: I`m skeptical. Look at all of the backwash they`re getting
from the Tea Party and the crack pots on the talk radio and all that stuff.
I don`t know that this is going to pass. I think those -- those four
Republicans in the "gang of eight" could get run over. Look at Rubio tap-
dancing his way out of what he said.
I mean, I -- I think this party really is in a civil war. The
leadership doesn`t know how to manage it. And the people who are on the
right who are being left out of the winning combination that is trying to
be built are basically willing to take down the party with them. And they
O`DONNELL: Governor Howard Dean, thank you very much.
DEAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Hillary Clinton may not be the only woman
running for president in 2016.
And later, how America takes more care to protect little children from
baseballs than from bullets. That`s in the rewrite.
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, Hillary Clinton 2016.
In Washington last night, and in an otherwise uneventful speech before
a foreign policy group, Hillary Clinton took the opportunity to remind
everyone that she is running for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: When I became secretary
of state, I spent a lot of time thinking about my illustrious predecessors
and not primarily the ones who went on to become president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Emily`s List launched what they call the Madam President
Campaign today, pushing for a woman in the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A long time ago, women didn`t even get to vote.
Which is crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mom told me that when she grew up --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- no one even thought there would be a woman
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you imagine? No woman president? They were
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now for an exclusive interview, Emily`s List
president Stephanie Schriock and "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC
political analyst Jonathan Capehart.
Stephanie, Jonathan and I were kind of chuckling at the end of that
little ad of yours. We were wondering, you know, how you decided on the
casting of that woman presidential character. You know, the hair color,
the -- just the general look.
STEPHANIE SCHRIOCK, PRESIDENT, EMILY`S LIST: Well, we had -- we had
two choices. One between blonde and one brunette. So we just went with
one of then. How does that sound?
O`DONNELL: I guess -- I think we can accept that at the moment.
Jonathan Capehart, Hillary I think is being wonderfully open about this.
She didn`t need that reference in her speech about secretaries of state
last night to refer to not just the ones who became president. She is just
kind of putting it out there. She`s not trying to hide it.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Is she putting it out there
or is she having fun?
O`DONNELL: Having fun running for president. This is the fun stage
of running for president.
CAPEHART: Yeah, when you`re still popular, when people are clamoring
for you to get in, when people are obliquely referencing you being sworn in
as president of the United States, even though it`s the back of your head.
That was uncanny. Anyone watching the Emily`s List ad will think, oh, my
God, it`s -- that`s Hillary Clinton. And you know, I can understand -- I
can understand the clamor. I`m sure former secretary of state, former
senator, former First Lady Hillary Clinton hears the clamor, is
appreciative of the clamor.
And I think by saying something like she did last night is having fun
with the folks who are clamoring for her to get in.
O`DONNELL: It`s the official position of this show, Stephanie, that
Hillary is running. So you`re going to get your wish for a Democratic
nominee, anyway. But for Emily`s List, would you be willing -- would you
back a Republican woman running for president?
SCHRIOCK: No, we would not. Emily`s List is a 28-year-old
organization that has focused on electing Democratic women that entire
time. And one of the reasons is that we believe that the Democratic party
is actually a party that is based on values to provide opportunities for
women to excel. And that`s why you see so many more women from the
Democratic party in Congress, and I believe in line to run for president.
O`DONNELL: And by the way, here`s my theory, Jonathan, of the other
woman who has presidential ambitions for 2016. And that would be Senator
Kelley Ayotte. She believes she has a great head start, you know, coming
from New Jersey -- from New Hampshire in the New Hampshire primary. And
that to me is the only thing I can find that explains her vote on the gun
legislation, because she can take that vote out into right wing Republican
presidential primaries in Iowa and elsewhere, and she`ll be happy to stand
on that vote.
CAPEHART: And, you know what, that`s a great theory. Only problem
is, her poll numbers are sinking in her home state.
O`DONNELL: OK, there`s that. OK.
SCHRIOCK: Exactly. I`m glad you brought it up.
O`DONNELL: There`s a plan, but yeah --
CAPEHART: Yeah, if she can`t carry her home state -- if she is
catching hell in the same way that other senators are catching hell on both
sides of the aisle for that vote she has taken, then if Kelly Ayotte wants
to throw her hat in the ring and embarrass herself by running for
president, have at it.
SCHRIOCK: I couldn`t agree with you more. If you look at the poll
numbers that came out for Senator Kay Hagan on that very tough vote that
she took on the right side, and it looks better for her in North Carolina,
you`re exactly right.
O`DONNELL: But, Stephanie, here`s what it also does for Senator
Ayotte. If -- it leaves her available as a viable vice presidential
nominee for someone to pick, because it is a Republican orthodox vote that
she cast. She wouldn`t have that problem there.
SCHRIOCK: Sure, that`s -- that is possible. And you know, at Emily`s
List, we think about, you know, the need to have more women running for
office and in positions like this. But we really do feel strongly. I
think you`re seeing this. I understand you believe Hillary Clinton is
going to run. I certainly hope you`re right. But what we really want to
see is a woman at the top of the ticket.
And I think if, by chance, Secretary Clinton doesn`t decide to run for
whatever reason, we`ve got a great group of women on the Democratic side
who could take this on. I think this is a pretty wide open primary in
O`DONNELL: Stephanie, who? If Hillary doesn`t run, what other women
could be viable up there on a primary stage against Andrew Cuomo, Joe
Biden, Martin O`Malley, people like that?
SCHRIOCK: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is one of the most
popular senators in the country in her home state. You`ve got two
secretaries, Janet Napolitano and Kathleen Sebelius, former governors of
very red states, who have done very well in their service. And of course,
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand right there in New York, as well, who is already
working on expanding her national network.
Now all of these folks, I don`t care if you`re a woman or a man in the
Democratic party right now, until Secretary Clinton makes a decision, it`s
hard to gain any ground. And I think we`re all waiting to see what she
says. And if, by chance -- and like I said, I hope she goes. If by chance
she doesn`t, I really do think that this is wide open.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan, the let down -- Hillary Clinton, the people she
would disappoint by not running, it`s inconceivable to me that she would
disappoint them. And it`s also inconceivable to me that for her own
ambition she wouldn`t choose to run.
CAPEHART: I love the set-up of that question.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, I didn`t know where to go there.
CAPEHART: But yes, people, Democrats would be devastated. Women
Democrats would be devastated.
O`DONNELL: Stephanie would be devastated.
CAPEHART: Stephanie would be devastated.
O`DONNELL: Hillary can`t do that to Stephanie.
SCHRIOCK: A lot of other women who can go. I`ll be OK.
CAPEHART: But here`s the thing, I really -- I really hope that if
Secretary Clinton decides, you know what, I hear the clamor, I understand
it, but I just don`t have it in me, I just can`t do it -- I want to run my
own foundation, and I want to be a granny. That -- my hope would be that
the American people would let her be.
O`DONNELL: Yes, they would. But that isn`t going to happen.
Stephanie, one more woman running for office, I`m wondering about. And
that`s in the state of Montana. And that is you. What about you running
for Max Baucus` open Senate seat in Montana? Come on, we need women
SCHRIOCK: Well, I appreciate that. I have been overwhelmed with the
folks that have talked to me about this opportunity. And the truth is,
like you, I want to see how this plays out a little bit. There is a lot of
folks in Montana looking at it. I`ve got a great job here, working to --
well, elect the first woman president. So I want to see how this plays out
for a while.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to draft Stephanie for Montana.
Emily`s List President Stephanie Schriock and Jonathan Capehart, thank you
both for joining me tonight.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.
SCHRIOCK: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, we`re going to show you the most loathsome
commercial ever made. It is actually kind of hard to watch. It is about
selling guns for children, for four-year-olds, five-year-olds. And it`s in
the Rewrite tonight.
O`DONNELL: Crane operators in New York City hoisted the final piece
of the spire that will stand on top of 1 World Trade Center today. When
the spire is completed, the three billion dollar building will reach 1,776
feet, making it the tallest building in the western hemisphere. The
building is one of four being built in lower Manhattan to replace the World
Trade Center`s Twin Towers that were destroyed in 2001. The new 1 World
Trade Center is scheduled to open next year.
Up next, the legal business of marketing guns for children, perfectly
legal. And it`s next in the Rewrite.
O`DONNELL: What wouldn`t you do to make money? I`m not talking about
criminal stuff here. I want you to think about what legal thing you would
not do to make money. Everyone has something they wouldn`t do to make
money. You can`t think of anything? I bet you can.
How about porn? See? Everyone has some legal thing they won`t do to
make money. When I was a kid, my father told me he had a chance to be part
owner of a liquor store in my neighborhood. And let me tell you, a liquor
store in my neighborhood was guaranteed to make you rich on day one. But
my old man wasn`t even tempted. He said he had seen booze destroy too many
lives and kill too many people. He never second-guessed himself, as the
liquor store owners got richer and richer.
And he would have liked to be rich, but not that way. I remember
exactly where we were in his car when he told me that. We were driving by
the liquor store. That was a formative conversation for me, because the
list of legal things I won`t do for money includes selling alcohol and
selling tobacco, and selling guns and ammunition. I would like to be rich
too, but not that way.
I`m guessing that Bill McNeil never had that conversation with his
son, Steve McNeil. I`m guessing they never talked about what they would
not do to make money, because what they decided to do as a father and son
team in a small town in Pennsylvania was start a company to make guns and
sell guns for children. Now, you`ve got to wonder how that conversation
went. Hey, dad, I`ve got an idea. Or was it, son, I`ve been thinking, not
enough five-year-olds have guns.
Now, what at least one of the McNeils should have said in that
formative conversation is, "hell, no, I would do porn for money before I
would make guns for children." You would think one of the McNeils would
have had the good sense to say, if we make guns for little kids, someone is
going to get killed.
Well, if one of them said that, the other one must have said "yeah,
but we can get rich." And getting rich mattered more to the McNeils than
someone getting killed. So they started working on names for their guns
for children. The big-sellers are the Crickett and the Chipmunk.
Here`s a Crickett, in pink. That one is obviously aimed at the Barbie
crowd. Little boys tend to prefer the brown one. "My First Rifle" is the
slogan that Bill and Steve McNeil came up with to market guns for kids.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, where are you going?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoot my new Crickett rifle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish I had one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My first rifle, a moment you would never forget.
The Crickett is the perfect way to get young or small-framed shooters
started right, with a safety-promoting design. It`s soft-shooting,
affordable and accurate. Girls and even mom will love the way they can
pick one to their own taste. Start your own tradition. Crickett, find
yours online or ask for a Crickett rifle at your local dealer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The McNeils hit their marketing target when a family
living in a mobile home on Lawsons Bottom Road in Cumberland County,
Kentucky bought a Crickett for their five-year-old boy. On Tuesday, the
little boy picked up his Crickett in the kitchen and killed his two-year-
old sister. He accidentally shot her in the chest.
We know their names, the little boy, his little sister, their mother,
their father. But I don`t want to mention them in deference to the
family`s loss and their grief. The names I want you to know are the
merchants of death, the merchants of this death, the guys who made and sold
the rifle that killed this two-year-old girl.
Yes, the parents made the choice to buy that gun. But I don`t feel
like talking about the parents tonight, not with their daughter lying dead.
I`m going to leave the discussion of the parents` responsibility in this
case to others. I`m feeling too much compassion and sorrow for that family
to criticize them right now.
I want us to think about the merchants of this death. They make guns
20 miles away from where the Little League World Series is played, and they
market their guns to kids who aren`t old enough to play Little League
Baseball. Bill McNeil and Steve McNeil market their guns to five-year-
olds. They have pictures of younger kids than that on their website,
toting Cricketts and Chipmunks.
They have a picture on their website that is pure child abuse. I
can`t show it to you. It shows a toddler who is two years old, at most,
maybe younger, holding a rifle on his lap, over his arms like that.
Because the toddler obviously isn`t strong enough to lift it up.
That picture is legal child pornography.
So this is the country you live in now. You live in the country where
five-year-olds are not allowed to play Little League Baseball, because we
are afraid of them getting hit by fastballs, thrown by 10-year-olds,
because we think fastball pitching is too dangerous for five-year-olds.
Little League allows them to play only T-Ball. You know, for safety.
You live in the country where Bill and Steve McNeil legally sell guns
for five-year-olds without even worrying about safety. If you`re concerned
with child safety, you don`t give children guns. You don`t give five-year-
olds the keys to the car. There`s a whole lot of stuff you don`t let five-
year-olds do if you are concerned about child safety. But America`s
merchants of gun death are not concerned about child safety or adult safety
or anything other than getting rich.
And so tonight you live in a country where Bill McNeil and Steve
McNeil make and sell guns for little kids, because they can, and because
obviously there is nothing -- nothing Bill McNeil and Steve McNeil won`t do
O`DONNELL: It is 120 hours to go before we will know if Elizabeth
Colbert Busch will be elected as the next member of Congress from the First
District of South Carolina. And this being South Carolina, voters in the
district are now reporting receiving phone calls asking questions like
"what would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you a judge held
her in contempt of court during her divorce proceedings?"
Steve Kornacki, this is what they call a push poll in the trade.
They`re not really writing down the results. They don`t care. They don`t
care how many people say, I`m cool with that. I`ve got no problem with
that. I was held in contempt -- you know, they don`t care. They just want
to put these ugly ideas into voters` heads.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Yeah, no. It`s a misunderstood term.
Push poll gets used a lot I think incorrectly. But the correct context is,
you`re calling people and you`re just saying the most horrible, vile,
inflammatory things about them as a way of getting the message out there,
often doing it through sort of a -- it`s a way of kind of separating it
from the campaign. It can sound like it`s an independent pollster.
Also, maybe it has the added benefit, if you`re the recipient of the
message, that it sounds like it`s from an independent pollster. So this is
an objective person.
O`DONNELL: We have determined -- it`s been determined today that it`s
from a firm in Connecticut that`s doing this. But they`re not saying who
has paid them to do it. But this is -- South Carolina is where George W.
Bush did this with John McCain.
O`DONNELL: Sending out these calls that McCain went ballistic over.
KORNACKI: The 2000 campaign was probably sort of the low moment,
maybe until the 2012 campaign, in modern Republican presidential politics.
O`DONNELL: Wait, wait, wait. You don`t know the rest of the
questions they`re asking about Elizabeth Colbert Busch.
KORNACKI: There`s more?
O`DONNELL: Yeah. So when you go low moment, OK, I just want you to
have the rest of these. These are some of the questions that are going out
there on the phone in South Carolina today: "what would you think of
Elizabeth Colbert Busch if she had done jail time? What would you think of
Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you she was caught running up a charge
account bill? What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if she
supported the failed stimulus plan?"
Well, gee, that would do it right there.
KORNACKI: What about the push poll on the other side where they could
say, what would you think of Mark Sanford if I said he left the state in
the middle of his job governor to be with his mistress and claimed he was
on the -- oh, wait, that`s not made up.
O`DONNELL: You know what? I`ve already made up my mind what I think
of that. That`s not news to me. But yes, so this is, you know, typical.
It`s South Carolina mud-slinging as we have seen it before.
KORNACKI: Yes, no, this is. I mean, South Carolina really does have
this reputation. Usually it`s sort of in Republican presidential politics,
because that`s really the time we pay attention to South Carolina. This
will be kind of amazing if Colbert Busch wins this. It looks like she is
probably ahead right now. The wild card, obviously, is this is such a
Republican district overall.
But she will be -- the story of southern politics of the last two
generations, really, has been that white voters in the south, particularly
the deep south, were once all Democrats and they`ve basically become all
Republicans, to the point that the only Democrats representing the south in
Congress are basically, you know, minority Democrats from voting rights
districts in the south. There is one white Democrat left representing the
entire deep south in Congress, John Barrow from Georgia.
If Colbert Busch wins, she will only be the second. And of course,
then that would make her probably one of the most vulnerable Democrats in
the country in 2014, when she would stand for re-election, because, again,
this is a district that typically votes Republican.
O`DONNELL: But she is in that position that incumbency gives you of
giving people a reason to like you.
O`DONNELL: She can build up real goodwill in that job.
KORNACKI: Absolutely. That`s -- it can take a fluke, almost, to get
a Democrat in one of those races. But when you`re the incumbent, right,
that`s -- no. Not only roads lead back to Chris Christie with me, but it
is the Chris Christie story of New Jersey. It took a really unpopular
Democratic governor to get Christie in with less than 50 percent of the
vote. If it hadn`t been for that, he would not be what he is right now.
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, host of "UP," which is Saturdays and
Sundays at 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.
KORNACKI: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: See, I know these things. Steve gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
Thank you, Steve. Chris Hayes, who used to do "UP," which Steve now does,
is actually up next.
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