'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
Read the transcript to the Tuesday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
August 6, 2013
Guests: Jay Leno, Krystal Ball, Ari Melber, Ryan Grim, Nia-Malika
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Jay Leno is here to tell us about the
interview he just did with President Obama.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So over the last few
weeks, I`ve been visiting towns all across the country.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: President Obama is on the road again.
OBAMA: Talking about what we need to do to secure a better bargain
for the middle class.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama just touched down in phoenix.
OBAMA: Hello, Phoenix!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Greeting the president at the airport will be
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The same Jan Brewer who last year greeted the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can never guess that picture --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With now infamous finger wag.
TODD: Today is part of a summer push by the White House.
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST: Billing it as a major policy speech.
TODD: Trying to tout the recovery of the U.S. housing market.
OBAMA: Our housing market is beginning to heal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The housing plan has something for everyone.
OBAMA: Let`s invest in affordable rental housing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something for renters and something for new
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: He`s going to propose something that
has bipartisan support.
OBAMA: Private lending should be the backbone of the housing market.
MITCHELL: Reducing the government risk in Fannie and Freddie.
OBAMA: I know that sounds confusing to folks who call me a socialist.
TODD: The other thing he`s doing tonight is Leno.
TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: He will travel to Los Angeles to appear
with Jay Leno.
JAY LENO, THE TONIGHT SHOW: The 44th president of the United States,
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the real picture?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reducing the government risk.
BALL: To make it easier to refinance a current mortgage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The idea of reasonable rental rates.
BALL: The president has got his work cut out for him.
OBAMA: As long as I got the privilege to serve as your president,
that`s what I`m going to be fighting for. Thank you very much, everybody.
God bless you.
O`DONNELL: Just a short time ago here on the NBC campus in Burbank,
President Obama sat down with the big man on campus for an interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LENO: You and Hillary had lunch last week. Who invited who to lunch?
OBAMA: I invited her.
OBAMA: And we had a great time. She had that post-administration
OBAMA: You know, when folks leave the White House, two weeks later,
they look great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: President Obama is the first sitting president to appear
on "The Tonight Show," but he is one of many presidential candidates who
appeared on the show before winning the presidency.
Here is Senator Barack Obama`s first appearance on "The Tonight Show"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LENO: You admit to smoking pot in the book.
OBAMA: Not recently.
When I -- this is when I was in high school. Thank you, Jay. I just
want to --
LENO: Senator --
OBAMA: -- to clarify.
LENO: Now, I have to ask, I have to ask this question. Remember,
Senator, you are under oath. Did you inhale?
OBAMA: Well, I was telling -- somebody asked this question. I said
that was the point.
OBAMA: But you know, I don`t -- I don`t mean to make light of it.
But I do think that one of the things that hopefully you try to do when
you`re in public life is to acknowledge, look, I`m not perfect and I`ve
made mistakes. And the question is do you learn from your mistakes, do you
grow from your mistakes? And hopefully, you know, I have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Here`s more of President Obama told Jay tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LENO: You spoke very eloquently about the Trayvon Martin case. And I
could tell that you were speaking from the heart. Tell me about that.
OBAMA: Well, I think all of us were troubled by what happened. And
any of us who are parents can imagine the heartache that those parents went
through. It doesn`t mean that Trayvon was a perfect kid. None of us were.
We were talking off stage, you know, when you`re a teenager, especially
teenage boy, you`re going to mess up.
And you won`t always have the best judgment. But what I think all of
us agree to is we should have a criminal justice system that`s fair, that`s
just, and what I wanted to try to explain was why this was a particularly
sensitive topic for African-American families, because, you know, a lot of
people who have sons know the experience they had of being followed or --
OBAMA: -- being viewed suspiciously. We all know that young African-
American men disproportionately have involvement in criminal activities and
violence, for a lot of reasons -- a lot of it having to do with poverty, a
lot of it having to do with disruptions in their neighborhoods and their
communities, failing schools and all those things. And that`s no excuse.
But what we also believe in is that people, everybody should be
treated fairly and the system should work for everyone. And so what I`m
trying to do is --
OBAMA: -- just make sure that we have a conversation and that we`re
all asking ourselves or there are some things that we can do to foster
better understanding and to make sure that we don`t have laws in place that
encourage the kind of violent encounter that we saw there that resulted in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Jay Leno, NBC`s interviewer in chief.
LENO: Why, thank you. I like it you call it the NBC campus. Campus
implies that learning is going on.
O`DONNELL: But you had to walk across a little campus. Not a lot of
LENO: Walk across an abandoned field with -- that 20 years ago had a
lot of life to it.
O`DONNELL: You`re in now the old building where you used to do "The
Tonight Show," before they built this palace for you over there.
LENO: Yes. Palace.
O`DONNELL: You made news tonight. President Obama confirming to Jay
Leno that -- which is the normal way of making news in this country --
O`DONNELL: That he is going to attend the G-20 summit.
LENO: And yes, he did say. He made it official. So that was kind of
O`DONNELL: What else for you was the most interesting part of being
in that conversation with him tonight?
LENO: I talked to him about how eloquent I thought he was on the
Trayvon Martin story. You know, to speak off the cuff I think took
tremendous courage because I`m not sure he knew what he was going to say
when he sat but you could tell he was speaking from the heart. And it was
nice to hear him say that when he said it.
I mean, he put I think every American in the shoes of the average
black teenage man or teenage boy and what it was like to be in that
circumstance. And I thought he did it eloquently, and I thought he really
got the point across.
O`DONNELL: I mean, certainly he thought about it and said he`d been
thinking about it before going out there. But there is that thing that you
can tell as an interviewer I think when someone is sitting there and it`s
like oh, they`ve worked this, they`ve figured out this story --
LENO: No, I didn`t get that sense. That`s what I like. Because I
can tell when you see his speeches there`s a cadence to it because you know
what`s coming so consequently you can get in that cadence.
And when he spoke that day you can see oh, yes, the door locks, the
clicking, and, you know, he was recounting in his own mind experiences he
has had without alienating half the population, you know. And I thought he
did a wonderful job of it.
O`DONNELL: OK. So how do you do it? How do you get the first
president ever to sit for an interview on a show like this? And now --
this is the fourth time?
LENO: Sixth time.
O`DONNELL: But as president.
LENO: Fourth time as president. I think it`s because I don`t have an
agenda. I don`t go in there with -- there`s no gotcha questions. It`s not
a-ha, well, let me ask you about that.
I mean, I think the real trick is to let him answer the question, wait
till they finish talking even though people can occasionally get a little
verbose but that`s OK. But at least they finished and then you move on to
the next question and then you try and find I think -- I think a lot of
people are confused about Obamacare and the economy, they don`t quite
understand it. But they do understand Trayvon Martin. They do understand
a story that has just shocked me and I`m surprised it`s not bigger, is
Russia literally rounding up homosexuals.
LENO: I mean, to me this is Germany in 1933. I mean, I think you and
I are of that generation when I was in school, they never told you how did
that happen. Well, how, I mean, OK. Hitler becomes dictator, and he
rounds up all the Jews.
Yes, but how did -- this is how it starts. You go for the
homosexuals. Oh, and then you go for the Jews. And then pretty soon they
come for you.
And I asked him about that. And how he thought that would affect the
Olympics and the upcoming G-20 Summit.
O`DONNELL: And when you get an interview like this, is it -- do you
have like the greatest booker in the world who just calls the White House
every day or does the White House say, hey, we`re coming your way, do you
have any time for us?
LENO: Well, you know, there`s a little bit of both, because you do
benefits. You do things. You nurture candidates as they come along. I
mean, everybody that has run for president has been through, you know, from
-- I forgot his name.
O`DONNELL: That guy.
LENO: The little guy.
O`DONNELL: Oh, Ross Perot.
LENO: Ross Perot. I`m sorry. Ross Perot. I mean, every single
candidate has come through. Even Christine O`Donnell. You give them all -
- I`m not here to judge. You tell us, you know, you can hang by your own
rope if you want to. So consequently you nurture those relationships.
O`DONNELL: When they sit down, when a George W. Bush sits down as a
candidate for the first time with you, do you get a feeling -- have you had
feelings once in a while where you`re sitting there going I think he`s the
one who`s going to make it all the way? Did you have that feeling with --
LENO: I don`t know if I can say who`s going to make it all the way.
There are some I don`t think they`re ever going to make it. I never quite
got the Rick Perry thing. That one --
O`DONNELL: You never fell for that?
LENO: No. It didn`t -- I never got that sense of gravitas, you know.
O`DONNELL: Because all the pros, all the great political analysts
thought oh, when Rick Perry gets in there look out, here he comes.
LENO: No, I never thought that. It was just too narrow-minded for
me. Whether it was on gays or women`s issues or whatever it might be.
You know, people like Bill Clinton, like Hillary Clinton, you realize
these are great minds at work and they go and they think through their
answers. And sometimes they`re very good at evading it. And you get the
sense, OK, they`re trying to evade me, OK, we`ll move on because I`m not
going to get any more out of this. And there are others that just kind of
You know, Fred Thompson I never quite got. One minute you`re
president, next minute it`s reverse mortgages. Wait a minute.
O`DONNELL: Well, he did "Law & Order" in between.
LENO: Oh, "Law & Order." Yes. There are some I didn`t quite get.
O`DONNELL: Barack Obama has been sitting in your guest chair over a
span of seven years now. We showed the clip where you went right for the
gold, the pot smoking in high school.
O`DONNELL: And it`s fascinating to watch because you look at that and
you say, OK, I`m not sure exactly how he would have answered that if Bill
Clinton hadn`t gone through the obviously phony, I didn`t inhale thing long
before that --
LENO: The interesting thing y bring it up, as I watch it now, don`t
forget this was way back when. And I think a lot of candidates would have
brushed it off or laughed it off. But he said that`s the point, to inhale.
He owned it, I did it, I`m not perfect.
Oh, thank you. And I think people appreciate that honesty. I think a
lot of other candidates would have said, oh, there`s a lot of talk but not
really. You know, and sidestepped the issue.
So I think that was quite telling, actually.
O`DONNELL: And what you see in a moment like that I think is you see
he has a confidence about the country he`s living in. Or at least about 55
percent of the voters of the country he`s living in, that they`re going to
LENO: Well, the thing I like about him, he thinks the way I think.
People are basically decent. I mean, if people didn`t want to do the right
thing, you couldn`t have a country because there`s not enough police. So
people want to do the right thing.
And if you can convince them and tell them from your heart -- it`s
like a lot of people I find don`t necessarily agree with President Obama`s
Obamacare, whatever, but they like the man and they sense that he`s trying
to do -- he`s not getting anything out of this himself. He seems to be
doing it for the right reasons.
So that`s why I think it goes along and that`s why it passes.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to be back with more with Jay Leno.
O`DONNELL: Rick Perry`s presidential campaign is best remembered for
his failure to remember. His inability to remember the three departments
of the federal government that he wanted to close down. And his memory
problem apparently continues.
Here he is not remembering where he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: There are many other states that embrace
those conservative values, the approach that we`ve taken over the years.
I`m in one today in Florida. You look at South Carolina. You look at
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re in Louisiana.
PERRY: I know. I said that. I`m in one of those states that reflect
those today, in Louisiana.
PERRY: Yes, I got that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s Rick Perry in Louisiana when he forgot he was in
Florida. A mistake that you`ve probably never made. Up next, more with
Jay Leno after his interview tonight with President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LENO: Last week, President Obama told a group of school children that
broccoli was his favorite food, which the kids seemed to believe. They
believed him. Then he told them Obamacare would reduce the deficit. And
the kids all burst out laughing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I want to ask you about political comedy and the way you
do it. And you`ve been at it longer than anybody. When you took over "The
Tonight Show" 20 years ago, 21 --
LENO: Yes, 22.
O`DONNELL: Twenty-two years ago. Johnny Carson before you did some.
You know, but I would be rare if he would do more than three political
jokes in a night. Very, very rare.
You amped it up. You built much more political comedy into the
monologue. And just in terms of political comedy mileage over the years,
probably no one has done more since you`ve been at it --
LENO: I don`t know about that. Certainly, Jon Stewart and all these
guys, they do political shows. My thing is to sort of go down the center.
I remember we had a comedian on the show one time, and his opening
line was "I`m a Democrat" and I said to him just do your act. Believe me,
they will figure out you`re a Democrat.
But why lose half the audience when you walk out there? Just --
you`re a comedian for -- you know, the real trick is to put the joke first
and if you have a little message or something you`re trying to get across,
stick it -- believe me, they will figure out your affiliation.
And that`s the real -- you always put the joke first. But a lot of
comics, you get that sense of importance, well, I want people to know how I
feel on this.
And then no, you`re -- you know, this is what happens. You start a
comedian. Then you`re a humorist. Then you`re a satirist. Then you`re
out of show business. That`s how it works.
Stay a comedian. Forget humorist and satirist. You stay a comedian,
it will always work.
The others, you get that self-important, like I want people to know
how I feel. I don`t care how you feel.
O`DONNELL: Now, you say that we will figure it out. I`ve been
watching you a long time. I cannot figure out --
LENO: What do you figure? Tell me what you think.
O`DONNELL: I don`t know. Listen, I have a pretty good idea how Dave
votes. I heard the way he talked about Romney. There`s no way he -- you
know, I can get it, right?
I watch you and I`m -- my bet is that you get e-mail, tweets, all this
stuff saying you awful Republican --
LENO: Right. And awful Democrat.
O`DONNELL: And the next night you awful liberal, I hate you, you
conservative, you liberal. You`re constantly getting it back and forth.
LENO: See, I like Romney. I think Romney is a decent guy. I never
thought he was a crook. I never thought he was an evil person.
I think he`s a very nice, decent man who chose to pay as little tax as
possible and the Republicans beat him up for it.
I don`t understand it. That`s your whole platform. What are you
doing? Why are you going after this guy for not paying any taxes?
But I brought him on and I treated him as I would anybody else. And
he was fine. He was a terrific guest.
I mean, I think that`s the key. You have to have an open mind. You
can`t go in thinking, oh, this person`s in this party, that person`s in
O`DONNELL: But like in that example you gave about the comic, who
comes out and says, I`m a Democrat -- and you told him bad idea. Is it
your mission to keep your politics --
LENO: No, it is my mission to make people laugh.
O`DONNELL: But keep your politics hidden in the process, your
personal politics and voting preferences.
LENO: Well, I think if you ask me about gay rights or anything like
this, I think it`s fairly obvious what my politics are. I like equality
for everybody. I mean, that`s -- whatever that makes you.
But I`m one of those people, I`m conservative fiscally and I`m
probably liberal socially. Which I think the way most Americans are. You
know, it`s like with the gay issue most people go -- like Eddie. You know,
LENO: Most people are like that. They`re against it until they know
someone who`s that way. Oh, well, he`s OK. Then it`s all fine.
It seems like to me racial things, anti-gay things, it seems like the
most ridiculous issue. My attitude is there are 1,400 seats in there. I
want to sell a ticket to everybody. If a third is black and a third is gay
and white, male, female -- fine. I`ve sold out the room, thank you.
That`s my job, to bring it all together.
There`s nothing worse as a comedian than to play to one group. I
don`t like playing all-male shows because then you wind up just doing
filthy material. I don`t like all-female shows. I like something that`s a
cross-section that represents what America is.
And that`s the best audience that there is. Plus, it keeps you
honest. Because when you only work to one type of crowd, you wind up
pandering, and then you wonder why you`re not popular enough.
O`DONNELL: On the politicians who`ve come through the show, in terms
of White House correspondents performance anyway, my personal judgment,
Barack Obama best stand-up of all of them so far.
LENO: Oh, yes. The White House correspondents dinners have become --
O`DONNELL: Which you`ve done maybe more than anybody. Four or five
LENO: Actually, it`s become more of a roast.
O`DONNELL: Yes, yes, yes.
LENO: I remember doing it with Reagan and doing it through the `80s
and `90s and it was fun. And now I see comedians who I thought were quite
funny being vilified because they didn`t slam the president, they didn`t
nail George Bush, they didn`t nail -- whatever it might be. I go, well,
that`s not your job. It`s supposed to be --
O`DONNELL: It also, by the way, tends not to work in that room, as
you know having been in the room.
LENO: But I`ve seen people die in the room and get rave reviews from
the left or the right --
LENO: -- which doesn`t make any sense.
O`DONNELL: No, I`ve had friends of mine, comedians do it, and I`ve
tried to say to them, well, you know, there`s a line. I can`t describe it
to you over the phone. You`re going to have to show me joke by joke. And
I`ll tell you. But it`s an invisible line. I can identify it for you.
O`DONNELL: But, Jay, thank you very much.
LENO: Thanks for having me on.
O`DONNELL: Congratulations on the endless string of big scoops of
getting the president of the United States on the show.
LENO: Thank you for having me. I enjoy your show very much. And I
love your promos. It`s an added value.
O`DONNELL: That`s right.
LENO: But I love that. And I believe that as well. I am the son of
immigrants. And to me, you know, there`s nothing more fun than when I go
jaywalking. Knock on people`s doors. We did this the other day.
Kid opens the door, totally American. OK? He`s got a Simpson t-shirt
and he`s got some kind of crazy hat on. And his father`s Spanish and
American, speaks both. And then the grandparents speak no English at all.
And you see the fight that goes on in this house, this little culture
barrier. And that`s what I love about America. Everybody eventually
becomes American when you stay here long enough. And that`s the fun thing
You know, I did -- my grandfather never spoke English, spoke Italian.
My dad spoke both. I -- and yet it`s fun to watch each generation grow
like that. So that`s why I like your promo.
O`DONNELL: Jay Leno, you`re going to hang around and do my next promo
of the show. There you go, Jay Leno.
LENO: Big giant cup of coffee.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, sir.
You can see Jay Leno`s interview with President Obama tonight on your
NBC stations. And in the "Rewrite" tonight, Liz Cheney is in more trouble
for something Wyoming voters take far more seriously than I do -- a fishing
license. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: Forty-eight years ago today, LBJ signed the Voting Rights
Act. After June`s Supreme Court ruling that struck down, a key part of the
Voting Rights Act, it also nullified a lawsuit that was stopping Florida`s
search for non-citizens who were illegally registered to vote. And so,
Florida will once again try to solve a problem that they can`t even prove
exists. Within the next 60 days, Florida Governor Rick Scott`s
administration will draw up a list of people it considers suspicious and
ask local election officials to confirm if those people are really eligible
The 2012 list was originally 182,000 voters. It eventually shrank to
fewer than 200 possible maybe cases of non-citizens before the purge was
then completely abandoned. Last year voter protection groups sued over
Florida`s purge, contending it disproportionately affected minority voters.
Coming up, President Obama met Arizona Governor Brewer at the airport
once again today. Ari Melber and Krystal Ball will join me.
O`DONNELL: Before President Obama arrived here in Burbank tonight to
appear on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, his whirlwind West Coast day
started this morning at what was called, quote, "Ground Zero for the
housing bubble bursting."
The President got a smile and a handshake this time from republican
Governor Jan Brewer when he arrived at the airport in Phoenix. A little
different from her last greeting at that same airport. We all remember
that. The President`s first stop in Phoenix was a home construction site.
He then made his way to give a speech at a local high school where he
outlined his plan to help the housing market.
Joining me now, are MSNBC`s Krystal Ball and Ari Melber. Krystal
Ball, who can ever forget the last time the President was greeted by that
governor at that -- at that airport? A lot has changed since then.
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Absolutely. And this visit
for Jan Brewer is sort of a mixed bag because on the one hand, the
President is really touting the housing recovery that`s happened in
Arizona. So I`m sure Jan Brewer wants to take some credit for that. On
the other hand, obviously, she has been a very vocal and outspoken critic
of the President, particularly aggressive anti-immigrant policies in
Arizona, but she also has been surprising in the past year deciding to
accept the Medicare dollars as part of Obamacare. So, things are a lot
different from that last memorable greeting that we saw.
O`DONNELL: Ari, they are just stunning. You put those pictures
beside each other, which I hope we could do right now, actually. The
control room can put the old picture of Jan and Barack together with the
new picture of Jan and Barack, and there she is having, as Krystal says,
you know, worked really hard to push through that Medicaid expansion that
the republican governors who want to position themselves for running for
president have kind of lined up against.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Yes. I think there`s a lot
of political benefit to some of these folks locally being really aggressive
against President Obama including sometimes with style over substance. As
Krystal was pointing out, the substance doesn`t always work out for them.
And it`s a contrast. In the speech today, you know, you had the President
in a magnanimous moment singling out the fact that senators Flake and
McCain have worked with him on immigration, that it`s up to the House, that
the Republicans are now a minority of a minority on immigration, which of
course he linked to housing. And that`s a big contrast I think to Brewer`s
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the President was saying today about
the housing market.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Lay a rock solid foundation
and make sure the kind of crisis we went through never happens again.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
We`ve got to make sure it doesn`t happen again. And one of the key
things to make sure it doesn`t happen again is to wind down these companies
that are not really government but not really private sector, they`re known
as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. You know, for too long these companies were
allowed to make huge profits buying mortgages, knowing that if their bets
went bad taxpayers would be left holding the bag. It was heads we win,
tails you lose. And it was wrong. Private capital should take a bigger
role in the mortgage market. I know that sounds confusing to folks who
call me a socialist.
I think I saw some posters there on the way in. But I actually
believe in the free market. And just like the health care law that we put
in place, Obamacare, which --
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Which by the way -- which by the way, if you don`t have health
insurance or you`re buying it at exorbitant rates on individual markets,
starting on October 1st, you can join a marketplace and be part of a pool
that gives you much lower premiums, saves you a lot of money.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
But in the same way that what we did with health care was to set up
clear rules for insurance companies, to protect consumers, make it more
affordable, but still built on the private marketplace, I believe that our
housing system should operate where there`s a limited government role and
private lending should be the backbone of the housing market.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, there he is now, using the Obamacare model,
simply to serve as an example, to try to help explain something that was a
little bit complicated I think for any political audience what his thoughts
were on the housing market.
BALL: And I`m not sure he totally succeeded in making it less
complicated because I think a lot of people still feel Obamacare is fairly
complicated and hard for them to understand. But I do think he did an
effective job selling Obamacare and addressing housing, which is really
long overdue. It`s one of the things that even people who are supportive
of the President have said he hasn`t done enough to alleviate the mortgage
crisis. So this is a long overdue speech, and I think he strikes the
appropriate balance of saying, we can`t have the government taking all the
risk, we need a role for the private sector, and really asking them to be
O`DONNELL: But Ari, one of the things it strikes me politically about
going out there and saying here`s what I want to do about the mortgage
market is it`s hard to make that interesting to anyone who isn`t in the
mortgage market at this particular moment, meaning you know, people who
have a mortgage that is working for them, they don`t want to think about
their mortgage. It`s just one of those subjects that`s just so narrow cast
to go out on the road like this in that kind of speech is a little
MELBER: Yes, I mean, totally. I think, it`s like, if you`re shopping
for a car you notice all the car commercials.
O`DONNELL: Exactly. Exactly.
MELBER: If not, you have to be like a car buff, which is very few
people. I think what he`s speaking to, though, to the point about health
care, is the fact that he`s always been a humanitarian capitalist, that he
thinks capitalism is the solution to many of our problems. That`s what
makes the dishonest attacks on him as a socialist so especially frustrating
to people who follow the facts. The health care reform was ultimately a
market reform that injected money and new rules to make sure that people
got covered. It did not add a whole lot of government programs.
It was not a public option even as some people wanted. And the
mortgage approach is actually similar. He`s saying look, real simple,
government take a step back because we have a moral hazard when we insure
everything, and let`s create rules so that the folks who are funding this
aren`t over-securitizing it or anonymizing some of what`s going on when you
look at sort of the assets that go into, you know, pack of securities.
O`DONNELL: Well there, you go. Ari succeed in making it not boring
BALL: That`s sarcastic?
O`DONNELL: Krystal, I was a little surprised that, you know, sure,
Arizona, you know, Ground Zero for, you know, the collapse of the mortgage
market and all that. It was also Ground Zero for the republican intraparty
fight over Obamacare and the expansion of Medicaid. And I was a little
surprised that he didn`t make more of that today.
BALL: Well, and that may have been a strategic decision to sort of
stay out of those local politics and keep it at a higher level. And back
to your point about home ownership and mortgages being sort of a boring
topic, it is. But there is a great American love of home ownership. It`s
part of the American dream. It`s part of what we think of once we`ve made
it into the middle class, you`ve worked your way up and you own your own
home. Now, there are some economics saying that maybe that ultimately high
rates of home ownership are not actually that great a thing, but it is
something that we feel a very sentimental attachment to.
O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball and Ari Melber, thank you both for joining me
MELBER: Thank you.
BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Corey Booker participated in his first New
Jersey Senate candidate debate last night, and he is way ahead in the polls
in an election that seems almost inevitable for him at this point. It`s
O`DONNELL: The military judge in the Bradley Manning sentencing
hearing today cut 46 years off a potential maximum sentence, which left
Bradley Manning with a possible sentence now of only, if you can call it
that, 90 years, down from the original potential maximum of 136 years. The
judge agreed with defense attorneys who said that the government had taken
the single acts and split them into several separate violations, thereby
multiplying the sentence.
Manning was found guilty of 20 of the 22 counts he faced for leaking
700,000 documents to Wikileaks. The sentencing hearing actually continues
and will probably continue for about two more weeks. And so the financial
sentence remains unsettled. Both sides will continue to call witnesses in
this very peculiar and very long sentencing hearing.
Liz Cheney is in the rewrite next. She is under investigation in
Wyoming. It`s about her fishing license.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ CHENEY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi. I`m Liz Cheney. Over the
last several years citizens across our great state have urged me to
consider running for the Senate in 2014. Today, I am launching my
candidacy for the United States Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so "The New York Times" sent a reporter and a camera
crew to Wyoming to find those people who were urging Liz Cheney to run for
Senate. Starting with friends of her father. That seemed like the easy
way to go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It creates some acrimony in the politics here. And
Senator Enzi has done a marvelous job for a long time. And I`d like to see
her there, but I`d like to see him stay there. If she asks me, I`d say I
wish you`d waited.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And then they made the mistake of interviewing relatives
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT O`DONNELL, INDEPENDENT HOUSE PAINTER: I couldn`t name one thing
that she`s done besides, she was born a Cheney.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Actually, I don`t know that particular O`Donnell, but I`m
sure we are probably related if we dug out the genealogical records and
looked back far enough. It would be hard for Liz Cheney to be doing much
worse in the polls than she is now, but she might have found a way. She is
trailing republican Senator Mike Enzi by 28 points. And less than a third
of the state`s registered voters actually think that she is one of them.
And they really don`t like the idea that she may be claimed to be one of
them for ten years when she applied for a fishing license last year.
Now, let me just say, everything I am about to talk about I do not
take seriously. But then I`m not a Wyoming voter. And the "New York
Times" report on this assures us that Wyoming voters do take this
seriously. On Liz Cheney`s application for a fishing license it says that
she was a resident of the state for ten years when she had actually been a
resident of the state for exactly 72 days. She applied for a resident
fishing license, which requires that you have lived in Wyoming for at least
a year. A resident fishing license costs $24. A non-resident fishing
license, which Liz Cheney would have certainly qualified for, costs $92.
There is a possible defrauding of the state of Wyoming for the amount
of $68 right there. Which let me repeat, I do not take seriously at all.
But I`m not a Wyoming voter with a fishing license. Wyoming takes this
seriously enough that Liz Cheney is currently under investigation by the
Wyoming game and Fish Department for exactly how she obtained a resident
fishing license. One Wyoming republican strategist told the "Times,"
"it`s a serious misstep, allegedly poaching in a state where being a
resident sportsman is by law an earned privilege. Wyoming people will take
this very seriously."
Now, imagine you`re Liz Cheney and your Senate campaign damage control
unit come to you with a multiple choice set of responses for this. Which
one do you pick? A, I lied about how long I`ve lived here in order to get
a resident fishing license. B, I`ve lived in Wyoming in my heart forever,
so I didn`t think of this as a legal residence question. And C, the clerk
must have made a mistake. I never claimed to be a ten-year resident.
Now, A, is out of the question because admitting to lying is just not
how the Cheneys roll. B, is a real problem for a lawyer like Liz Cheney
who`s running for a job where legal details matter. And C, is exactly word
for word what Liz Cheney chose to say to the "Star Tribune" of Casper,
Wyoming. She blamed the clerk who accepted her application. The kid born
to privilege, who has enjoyed a life of entitlement at the highest levels
of American society, is blaming the clerk. After discovering the one thing
she is not entitled to is a Wyoming resident fishing license.
Who do you think Wyoming believes, the rich lawyer from out of town or
the clerk, who`s handled an awful lot of fishing licenses without any
controversy? You know what? Maybe there is something there to take
O`DONNELL: A week from tonight at this hour, we will probably have a
winner in the democratic primary for the nomination for Senate in New
Jersey in the special election to replace the late Senator Frank
Lautenberg. A recent poll shows New York Mayor Cory Booker with a
commanding lead over the other Democrats in the race with 49 percent of the
vote. Congressman Frank Pallone is next in the poll at 12 percent.
New Jersey has not elected a republican to the United States Senate in
41 years. So the winner of the democratic primary is likely to be the next
senator from New Jersey. Last night was the first time all four democratic
Senate candidates met for a debate. Cory Booker missed the first two
debates. During the last debate Mayor Booker was at a fund-raiser for his
campaign hosted by Oprah Winfrey. Last night`s debate was all about Cory
Booker. Even when he wasn`t speaking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: I should level at the beginning by
saying I`ve never run into a burning building. I`m not friends with Mark
Zuckerberg. I have fewer than a million twitter followers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Congressman Frank Pallone went after Cory Booker on
substance for his support for school vouchers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: Mayor Booker has been very
supportive of Governor Christie`s plans with education, which means
vouchers, which means privatization of schools. Which you have to be
extremely wary of. I`m very concerned about the fact that vouchers, which
he supports, will take away funding from public schools. I believe in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: New Jersey General Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver played
it local and went after Cory Booker for his friends outside of the state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEILA OLIVER, NEW JERSEY GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPEAKER: I worked in New
York`s municipal government probably when its mayor was still in high
school. I have sat at every desk at every level of government. It doesn`t
matter that you have fraternization with people from California or New York
or some other oblivious state. This campaign is about New Jersey, no place
else on the planet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now are "The Huffington Post" Ryan Grim and
MSNBC contributor Nia-Malika Henderson, national political reporter for
"The Washington Post." Nia, did you see any movement in the race last
night as a result of that debate?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Absolutely not. I mean,
I`m still stunned at those numbers. Forty nine percent. I think it`s 12
percent and eight percent. No movement. I mean, this guy is going to win.
I think the question is, what kind of senator he`s going to be. It looks
like his opponents there are trying to say that he`s not quite progressive
enough. But I think on some issues he will be in terms of coming to the
He really wants to focus, for instance, on poverty. I interviewed him
a couple of months ago. He said that would be his focus, he wants to use
that platform to shine a light on poverty, something Democrats haven`t done
for many years now, and also that he`d want to move to Southeast, D.C.,
Anacostia, which is a neighborhood here that has a long struggled with
joblessness and high crimes. So, I think we`re going to see him shake up
the Senate a little bit.
O`DONNELL: Ryan, he certainly run the classic way ahead front-runner
campaign in this thing so far, which is you can ignore these debates. But
I think it seemed like a smart move for him to jump into that last debate
so he could claim that he did engage with the other candidates.
RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Right. Well, that might be the only,
you know, knock they could have had against him, you know, that he`s aloof
and if he`s aloof now what`s he going to be like as a senator. But you`re
right. You know, this thing is pretty much wrapped up unless something
cataclysmic happens before the primary. And like you said, he`s going to
cruise into the Senate, and then I`m sure he`ll probably cruise into re-
election pretty quickly. You know, he`s good at building a following.
But, you know, the question is what kind of following is he going to bring
to the Senate? Because his experience in Newark has been interesting.
You know, he has experienced real poverty, like you know, as an adult
he has been living in public housing and his pledge, you know, to live east
of the river in Washington is admirable. You know, at the same time, you
know, a lot of his friends and the people he associates with are the moguls
from private equity, from Hollywood, from hedge funds. You know, Mark
Zuckerberg, those kind of folks. And they have a particular ideology that
he can`t help but to have absorbed. So, you know, there`s going to be a
lot of tension between his, you know, his talk about poverty and the
friends that he`s going to, you know, still be talking to while he`s a
O`DONNELL: Nia, there`s been some speculation about what kind of
senator will he be, even some speculations suggesting that he would be the
Democrats` version of Ted Cruz, say, this kind of bomb tosser from the Left
and troublemaker from the Left in the Senate. Do you think there`s a
possibility of him handling the Senate that way?
HENDERSON: I think on some issues maybe so. Maybe in terms of
poverty. Maybe in terms of drone warfare and things like that. But again,
I think he does in some ways look like a new democrat. Remember, Cory
Booker was the one who was defending Mitt Romney in his private equity
past. And you`ve got, you know, sort of some backlash from the Obama
campaign because of that. But you can imagine that maybe he would partner
with somebody like Rand Paul, who is -- who put forward a bill around
So, I think he is going to really carve out his own way. He`s got
this huge social media following. So, I think he`s really going to take
the Senate by storm. The question is whether or not he`s going to be
making many friends or he`s going to just be trying to carve a path to 2016
O`DONNELL: We just had a little piece of video there showing Bill
Bradley on the stage with Cory Booker. My sense is he`s going to follow
something like the Bradley model in the Senate. Bill Bradley arrived in
the Senate the way Cory Booker will, as a very big star, very famous before
he entered the Senate, which is rare for senators. But he was both serious
and deliberate about the causes he believed in and was willing to push as
hard as he could on certain causes.
But he`s also very careful because it was always in the back of his
mind that he was running for president. He eventually did. And the people
who go into the Senate, serious about running for president ultimately play
within fairly careful boundaries, Ryan. That`s what I expect to see him
GRIM: I think he`ll be very tactical about it. And I think that
you`ll see him behave differently than senators in the way that he uses
social media. But he`ll do it in a very tactful kind of way that doesn`t
offend his -- you know, the rest of his colleagues. You know, he`s a very
smart actor, you know, very smart actor, and I think that will continue.
And I think you`re more likely to see him probably anger folks on the
left by working with Republicans on issues like, you know, pharmaceutical,
you know, issues or -- and sticking with the White House rather than
annoying the White House and sticking with, say, the Elizabeth Warren, Jeff
Merkley camp. So I think that`s where you`re going to see him operating a
little bit differently than a traditional democratic senator from a deep
O`DONNELL: And Nia, that`s where the Bradley model becomes difficult
today, because Bill Bradley was engaged in an awful lot of bipartisan
negotiations in his time in the Senate, which included the `80s and the
`90s, where that was much more common. Nowadays those kinds of moves do
sometimes provoke real criticisms from your side. If you`re seeing, you
know, fraternizing with the other side too much.
HENDERSON: Yes. But I think Booker in many ways has essentially
predicted that`s what he`s going to do. His latest ad is about reaching
across the aisle and sitting down with the other side. So, we`ll have to
see what he does.
O`DONNELL: Ryan Grim and Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you very much
for joining me tonight.
HENDERSON: Thank you.
GRIM: Thank you,
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.
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