THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
September 17, 2013
Guest: Steve LaTourette, Jonathan Chait, Zeke Emanuel, Michael Isikoff,
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The conservative editors of "The Wall Street
Journal" are now just absolutely terrified by John Boehner and Eric Cantor.
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: We can`t blink in the face of adversity.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: We are for freedom.
KING: We demand our freedom back.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: God bless the Tea Party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Tea Party people are tearing this place apart.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC HOST: You guessed it. A manufactured Republican
CRUZ: I`m convinced there is a brand new paradigm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you might call the rise of Ted Cruz.
CRUZ: The rise of the grassroots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re not normal members of Congress. They`re not
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: Oh, my God. They`re not normal members of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just want to disrupt.
LIMBAUGH: What in the hell are they supposed to do, Mr. Brooks?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a cage fight on the Republican side.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Boehner has no idea how he`s going to get
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s really about congressional dysfunction.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has put forward a
compromise budget proposal.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Facing the budget wars of October.
CARNEY: The Republicans aren`t even talking about that anymore.
CRUZ: Obamacare is the number one job killer.
KING: We`ve got to defund it now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The continuing fight against Obamacare.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: How about we defund the whole damn thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you willing to tank the economy in order to win?
CARNEY: That`s a terrible approach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The markets are going to react violently.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be catastrophic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America has to pay it bills.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why is everybody fighting
PAUL: This fight is about backbone.
BACHMANN: This is when we make our stand.
KING: We can`t blink in the face of a little bit of adversity.
BACHMANN: We`re for freedom.
KING: We demand our freedom back.
LIMBAUGH: Oh, my God, they`re trying to actually oppose this.
CARNEY: That`s a terrible approach.
O`DONNELL: This morning, the conservative editors of "The Wall Street
Journal" made public their greatest fear. And it is nothing that President
Obama might do.
Their greatest fear is that Republicans in the House of Representatives
will force a shut down of the government. The editors of "The Wall Street
Journal" know that John Boehner and Eric Cantor don`t actually want to do
that but they`re being pushed by the Tea Party wing to shut down the
government if President Obama does not agree to defund or delay Affordable
"The Wall Street Journal," lead editorial had to admit that they themselves
at the journal have urged on the crazies in the past. "We have often
supported backbenchers who want to push GOP leaders in a better policy
But trying to stop the crazies who "The Wall Street Journal" have supported
is not quite so easy.
How bad an idea is shutting down the government for Republicans according
to "The Journal"? "This is the one event that could reinstall Nancy Pelosi
as speaker. Mr. Obama could spend his final two years going out in a blaze
of liberal glory."
The editorial called the defund Obamacare strategy, quote, "a Kamikaze
mission", end quote. "Republicans must threaten to crash their zeros into
the aircraft carrier of Obamacare. Their demand is that the House pair the
must pass continuing resolution or the debt limit with defunding the health
care bill. Kamikaze missions rarely turned out well, least of all for the
"The New York Times," Republican columnist thinks the problem is Cruz-ism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you might call the rise of Ted Cruz-ism. And Ted
Cruz, the senator from Canada, through Texas, is basically not a legislator
in the normal sense. Does not -- have an idea that he is going to
Congress. Create coalitions. Make alliances. He is going in, more as a
media protest person.
And a lot of the House Republicans are in the same mode. They`re not
normal members of Congress. They`re not legislators. They want to stop
And so, they`re just being -- they just want to obstruct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: But according to Rush Limbaugh, obstructionism is
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: What in the hell are they supposed to do, Mr. Brooks? This is
what every one of you ought to be doing. Why do you call yourself a
Republican if all you want to dupe is lay down and agree with Obama and the
Democrats? Why don`t you switch parties if it is so much better over
What in the world has is he supposed to do? He was sent there to stop
this. He was sent to Washington, specifically, to try to stop some of
And the popular assumption, Mr. Brooks, among most Republican voters that`s
what the Republican Party at large is supposed to be doing right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: NBC News is reporting tonight that as of now -- the kamikaze
mission is likely a go. The latest House Republican leadership plan is to
pass a bill that continues funding the government at a lower level and
Joining me now is former economist for Vice President Biden, Jared
Bernstein, former Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette, and MSNBC`s
Former Congressman LaTourette, I have to begin with you. Don`t you miss
the place? Don`t you wish you were there to work this one out?
STEVE LATOURETTE (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: The good news is I left in
January. After watching it, I decided I really wasn`t the problem.
O`DONNELL: Yes, I think you have proven that, that your leaving was not
what we needed to do in order to make the place work better.
I mean, you understand the bind that John Boehner is in. Obviously, he
doesn`t want to go this route. And it seems like he is being forced to go
Is it going to be one of the plays where he gives the Tea Party what they
want and takes it to a vote? And they see that that gets nowhere. And
then, goes back. How do you see it playing out?
LATOURETTE: Well, I was here for the government shut down in 1995. It was
my first year in the Congress. That didn`t play so well for the Republican
Party, as I recall.
O`DONNELL: Congressman, can I just stop you right there?
O`DONNELL: Did you think it would -- I mean, when you were in the middle.
Newt Gingrich was leading your party into the shutdown, was your feeling, I
know you were a freshman and new. Did you think, yes, this will work for
LATOURETTE: No, but I had some questions. And, you know, at the end of
the day, it wasn`t a government-wide shut down. It was just one bill. The
Labor HHS bill. And there really was this chest bumping going on between
President Clinton and Newt Gingrich.
And if you look at George Stephanopoulos` book, everybody was sort of
weighing public opinion as who were they going to take this out on when we
reached the conclusion that it was us, we reopened the government.
O`DONNELL: So, again, what do you see of the flow here. Given the
deadline -- October 1st. Getting something done.
LATOURETTE: Well, listen, the smart play is what they`re going to do last
week, and to satisfy them to send over a vote -- make the Senate vote on
repealing Obama care, which is their cause celebre, and have a clean CR,
clean continuing resolution that would keep the government open at
sequestration levels. That was rejected by these 20, 30 folks who have
really called the tune since the 2010 election.
So, the title of "The Wall Street Journal" editorial is the "Power of 218".
When you deny John Boehner or Eric Cantor 218, they have no leverage, they
have no ability to govern. It goes into chaos.
Now, anybody that thinks that they`re going to send this over to the
Senate, and Harry Reid and Democrats are going to say you, know what we
were wrong all this time, and, President Obama is going to say, you know,
what was I thinking, this is a dumb law the Affordable Care Act, is smoking
So, that is not going to happen. And we are going to have the same sort of
-- theatrics that we had with plan B at the end of the fiscal cliff, end of
the last Congress. And it is not going to have a happy ending.
O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, we saw this is tearing the Republican Party
apart. I was really struck by how far David Brooks went in talking about
Ted Cruz. The little swipe at him about, Canada through Texas.
KRYSTAL BALL, HLN HOST: Right.
O`DONNELL: Unnecessary if you are talking about the policy. It seems like
David Brooks, who is a very calm and modest Republican, has been driven
crazy by this.
BALL: And as he should be. And I think the way he called him a media
personality. Not really even a senator. Some one who just is there for
his own glory has the no interest in governance at all is exactly right.
And he is leading this wing of the party that really only wants what is
best for them, in their own narrow short term interests. You know, the
country be dammed. Even their own party be damned.
They don`t care that they`re putting John Boehner in an awkward spot. They
don`t care that they could be setting President Obama up for what the "Wall
Street Journal" called his liberal blaze of glory reinstalling Nancy Pelosi
in 2014. All they care about winning their battle with their base where
they can look like the true conservatives with the spine of steel and the
ones who are not blinking in the face of the GOP establishment.
So, even if you put aside the Obamacare piece of this, even if you put that
aside, I think John Boehner was going to have very hard time passing a C.R.
that would satisfy them in terms of draconian cuts to have any shot getting
through the Senate.
O`DONNELL: Jared Bernstein, Republicans in the House have scared their
cheerleaders at "The Wall Street Journal." I have never read an editorial
where they were, more afraid. I mean the language they`re using, kamikaze
language. It`s kind of extreme even for them.
JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I watch you frequently, Lawrence.
Can`t remember the last time you approvingly cited a "Wall Street Journal"
O`DONNELL: Well, I would have changed the wording, but their concept is in
the right place.
BERNSTEIN: Well, you know, I mean, listening to the discussion that we are
having here and thinking about Rush Limbaugh and his comments, there`s
something that he was saying that actually strikes me as probably correct.
I am not sure how we deal with, which is that, in fact, people like Ted
Cruz and the other members of his caucus, we can call them the crazies if
you want. But the fact is that they really do seem to have been sent here
Now, I`m with the congressman who remembers a day when you`re actually sent
here to get things done, particularly in an economic climate and a health
insurance, where getting things done is critically important. Not to
mention things like Syria or gun control. So, the idea of accomplishing
things through compromise must strike most people who can hear my voice
right now as precisely the way to go.
But Limbaugh probably is correct when he says that`s what they`re sent here
for. And David Brooks, you know, you are being really old school there in
talking about actually get things done.
O`DONNELL: Steve LaTourette, it sounds like an important point, the
Limbaugh point, actually, that he kind of agrees with David Brooks in terms
of Ted Cruz`s mission, that no, he is not here to put more new laws on the
books. The Cruz side of the party, don`t they believe that we have enough
laws and enough programs in America. And their legislative mission to the
extent that there is one is to dismantle some of what we have?
LATOURETTE: Well, the amazing thing to me in that argument is why people
who want to shut down the government want to be elected to serve in the
government. That is an oxymoron.
But you are right, in some ruby red districts, you get big points and slaps
on the back for being, just saying no. You know I made the comment when I
retired that we could send monkeys to the Congress to push the red button
on a continuing basis if you rewarded them. That`s not really legislating.
The art of legislating is recognizing the constitutional framework that we
And as the Republicans, like it or not, Republicans control the House,
Democrats, the Senate and the White House, and the Constitution sort of
sets up this scheme if you want to get something done you have to find
And these guys are equating consensus, surrender, being spineless, and
being a RINO. That`s not right. Consensus is you give something you get
something. So does the other guy.
BALL: Well, and also, they`re undermining their own goal of, quote-
unquote, "limited government" and budget cuts. What they`re essentially
doing is handing power over to Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Caucus,
because ultimately the way things are going to go down, if we are going to
avoid a shutdown, John Boehner would have to go to Nancy Pelosi and ask her
to muster votes from the Democratic Caucus, to get things through because
they are so unwilling to work with him on this at all.
O`DONNELL: Jared Bernstein -- go ahead, Jared.
BERNSTEIN: If I might extend on that a bill. It is not just the
strategery part of this they`re getting wrong. It`s in fact if-up you
repealed Obamacare, what would be 25 million fewer people would have health
coverage. And you do have the polls where, Tea Partiers say -- oh, yes, we
really like Medicare. But we want to shut down the government.
So, we have record, we have poverty and income equality stuck at record
levels. So, not only may they be acting against their political interests.
I can`t speak to that. But they`re certainly acting against their economic
and health interests.
O`DONNELL: Steve LaTourette, I just want, before we go -- what your advice
would be to someone elected, a Republican, elected to the House or to the
Senate who says to you, Ted Cruz, says, look, Steve, I am against how much
big government we have piled up here. I don`t want to add to it, want to
reduce it. I want to do everything I can to bring everything I can to
bring it down. Make it smaller. If possible get rid of Obama care. I
would look to d like to do all those things.
And that`s -- the legislator`s genuine philosophy. I want to do everything
I can to reduce the size of government.
How would you advise them to handle themselves in the current Congress?
LATOURETTE: Well, first of all, I tell them to get to the nearest
psychiatrist, because they sought this office. Second of all, the deal was
the deal that John Boehner and the president tried to make in August 2011.
And, you have to have a recognition on the Republican side that revenues
have to be a part of that equation -- tax reform moving throughways and
means can get you some of the revenues. And on, on the other side, my
friends, Democrats have to say, you know, plans that were developed,
Medicare, Social Security, 1935, 1965, maybe they need a little updating.
And you work it out.
But, but, and you can get there. But you not if you look at -- I think the
sum total after we had all of the fiscal cliff and everything else, the
amount of money that was saved between fiscal years, something like $8
billion, for all of that nonsense, you could save 10, 20 times that if you
sat done and said here`s what I want. Now, what do you want? Let`s get it
O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, and Jared Bernstein, and Steve LaTourette --
thank you all very much for joining me tonight.
BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, breaking news from "The New York Times" on the Navy
Yard shooter and how he was stopped from buying an AR-15 assault rifle just
days before he killed 12 people.
And what you didn`t know about the Obama re-election campaign. Richard
Wolffe knows it all. He will join me to reveal secrets from behind the
scenes of the campaign.
O`DONNELL: First Lady Michelle Obama is expanding her lets move health
initiative with one little addition, easy to do -- drink more water.
Which, of course, like all healthy things Michelle Obama proposes is an
absolute outrage to Rush Limbaugh.
The first lady`s Drink Up Program, its what they`re calling it, Drink Up
Program encourages people to drink just one more glass of water a day.
Very, very good advice for Rush Limbaugh. But he doesn`t seem to realize
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: This is really absurd! Drink more water. None of their
business. Why do they care? You drink when you are thirsty. I don`t
think there is a water shortage, is there?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Up next, the other Obama program Republicans hate, Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Affordable Care Act takes effect next month. The
latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows Americans oppose it, believing
it will produce damaging results, 52 percent believe the law will raise
their health care costs. Is everybody wrong?
OBAMA: Yes, they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That interview was broadcast on Telemundo tonight. The
president explained what he is up against in trying to sell the merits of
the Affordable Care Act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The problem we have is that over the last four years billions have
been spent misinforming people about what this law is about. All of the --
horror stories that were talked about have not come true. It`s going to be
a good deal and we expect that -- once it`s fully implemented, a year from
now, two years from now, five years from now, people look back and, they`ll
be asking -- what was the argument about? Why is everybody fighting this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Comedy Central`s health care analyst Stephen Colbert has
highlighted the most ridiculous tactic yet employed in opposition to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDY CENTRAL: The godfather of the Tea Party movement,
FreedomWorks, recently announced a burn your Obamacare card campaign. Only
one small problem with this burn your Obamacare card plan. There are no
such things as Obamacare card. But FreedomWorks isn`t letting a little
thing like not existing get in its way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FreedomWorks is going to design the Obamacare card
ourselves. We`re going to put that online. We`re going to share it with
people in the hopes that they will burn it, tear it up. Mark on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Chait is a columnist for "New York Magazine" and the
author of the new piece, "The plot to kill Obamacare: why it continues to
drive many Republicans to madness." And Dr. Zeke Emanuel, the vice provost
for global initiatives and chair of medical ethics and health policy at the
University of Pennsylvania also joining us.
Jonathan Chait, when you see that guy, with the completely straight face
saying we are going to create the Obamacare card as if this is a way,
reminiscent of the old burning of the draft card.
JONATHAN CHAIT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Right.
O`DONNELL: Madness - with the word in your title, is obviously what
CHAIT: That`s right. I mean -- the interesting thing is that, all of the
wings of the Republican Party, the right-wing and the far right-wing, and
farthest right-wing are in agreement of the merits of the law. Where they
are splintering now, is just what level of extremism they should use
tactically to try to destroy it. But they have spent the last three years,
whipping themselves into a real frenzy about the law to the point where --
I think it is really difficult for them to think straight about it.
And a lot of members of the party are unfortunately taking very seriously,
the rhetoric some of the party leaders have used in somewhat manipulative
way to frighten them about the law and taking it literally. They think
this law is going to destroy the country. So, we have to save the country
O`DONNELL: You know, Zeke Emanuel, when you were working in the Obama
administration, getting this law passed, did you guys anticipate that this
fight over the implementation and over just the very preservation of it
would continue unabated after you passed the law?
DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Well, we thought that there
would be opposition, but we didn`t thing it would be this intense. And I
think more importantly, we didn`t thing it would be this sort of free of
You cite the Obamacare card which is actually reminiscent of President
Clinton`s health security card, where he did produce a card. But I, you
know, Paul Ryan announced the best thing we could do for the budget deficit
was not implement Obamacare. But the fact is, of course, the CBO, the
Congressional Budget Office, repeatedly said that Obamacare actually
reduces the deficit because it`s got a mixture of taxes and savings. That
are actually going to save the country money.
But he doesn`t care about the facts. He just goes on, saying what he says,
regardless of what the reality is. And that -- the fact that they have
been doing this for four years, I do think is shocking for, you know,
certainly people who proudly consider themselves Republican, you know
seeing this kind of buffoonery I think is really awful.
We can have a debate about the merits of various things, but this isn`t a
debate about merits.
O`DONNELL: Now, we actually do have more facts about the Affordable Act as
time goes on, because as you know, Zeke, when you were writing it, you
couldn`t say for sure exactly what premium levels would be, exactly what
costs were going to be for individuals.
But let`s listen to what Jay Carney said about it today at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARNEY: Today, the Department of Health and Human Services has released a
new report showing that six of 10 Americans who don`t have coverage could
get coverage for less than $100 a month per person under the health care
law when the health insurance market place is open for business, with help
of tax credits and Medicaid. Overall, that`s 23.2 million people.
This news comes after the Census Bureau reported the percent of uninsured
Americans fell in 2012, in part thanks to gains in coverage of young adults
on their parents` policies, thanks again to the Affordable Care Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Chait, that`s the thing the Republican opposition
doesn`t even attempt to take on, it seems to me. The notion that it, what
he was just saying, most of the uninsured would be able to got their health
insurance for less than $100 a month.
Now, there is a real number. There is a real thing you can get in. And,
challenge, or, or not. It seems like the Republicans don`t want to
challenge it because it actually sounds like a pretty good deal.
CHAIT: There`s a real cocoon effect within the conservative media. And I
watch it. I see what they`re saying to each other.
There is really no attempt to engage with any unpleasant facts. They`re
really just wished away, imagined away. The truth is, look, there have
been a lot of bad news coming out about Obamacare -- parts that are
delayed, not quite ready. This isn`t exactly what they thought -- like any
major undertaking in government or even business, it doesn`t always go
exactly like you want.
But I think they have created such a narrowly constricted way of looking at
the news where they just keep hyping all kind of bad news, inventing bad
news, and locking out completely some pretty major good news that`s
happening. So, they can`t get a remotely balanced picture within their own
minds of how this is working. I think a lot of Republicans are actually
self deluded about how the law is going to go.
EMANUEL: I think this is going to be another case where they`re going to
be very surprised, as the president did say on the clip you had, that in
two or three years, people are going to say, you know this is going pretty
well. It`s actually cheaper than we thought. We`re getting good care,
allowing us to do things.
And the Republican Party is going to be dumbfounded because they won`t know
what to do. I actually think 2014 is going to be the last election we`re
going to fight on this bill. By the time 2016 rolls around, most Americans
are going to kid it part of the woodwork of the country. And we`re not
going to be fighting.
If anything, Democrats are campaigning on how good it is. I think the
Republicans won`t know what to respond because the hype won`t have any
basis because most Americans will experience something better through the
exchanges or through the fact that they`re costs have come down in various
O`DONNELL: Now, Jonathan, you wrote that, you cannot just assert that it
is, that the -- that the law is going to work perfectly. And you can`t
just assert that it is a disaster. There is going to be, some parts of it
that, obviously don`t work as intended. We have actually seen that with
some elements of the bill.
O`DONNELL: Did not end up working as the authors intended, which is
understandable, something that big and complex.
But it seems to me, the Republicans have almost lost the ability to do fair
criticism of it. Because they have said so many crazy things up until now
that if, if, in the implementation there is something that develops in a
problematic way, they won`t be credible as critics.
CHAIT: Right. And part of it is a cynical calculation, like you say. And
some of it I think is real genuine self dilution. I think you got
conservatives who believe it`s just logically true that Obamacare is a big
government initiative, and big government initiatives must fail. This is
just a fact of the universe. And nothing that actually happens can change
that essential fact.
And many actually seem to believe that the law is failing in collapsing
them. What I think -- honest analyst would say, that some glitches and
things going wrong is actually just like utter, total disaster that`s
happening before our eyes. I think they actually believe that.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Chait and Dr. Zeke Emanuel, thank you both for joining
EMANUEL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Up next. We have breaking news from "The New York Times" about
how the Navy Yard shooter was actually prevented from buying an assault
O`DONNELL: Breaking news from "The New York Times."
"The Times" reports that the gunman who killed 12 people yesterday at the
Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. quote "test fired an AR-15 assault rifle at a
Virginia gun store last week but was stopped from buying one because state
law there prohibits the sale of such weapons to out of state buyers
according to two senior law enforcement officials."
Instead, 34-year-old former naval reservist purchased a Remington 870 shot
gun which he used in the massacre. Federal law enforcement officials tell
NBC News that yesterday morning the shooter got into his rental car and
drove from the residents` inn in Washington to the Navy Yard. He used his
own security I.D. to drive onto the Navy Yard base. His credentials did
not allow him entry into building 197, the building where he actually
opened fire. Once on the base, the gunman went into a bathroom, and
assembled the Remington 870 shotgun he carried in with him in a bag. He
walked out of the bathroom with the gun. Shot a police officer and a
security guard to gain access to building 197 and took at least one o their
handguns before continuing on a shooting rampage throughout building 197.
The headquarters for the naval sea systems command. The gunman went to the
fourth floor of the building and sprayed bullets into a crowd in the atrium
below at the others on the third floor balcony, at least one man on the
fourth floor corridor.
For more on what we are learning about the alleged shooter`s life leading
up to yesterday`s tragedy, here is NBC News national investigative
correspondent Michael Isikoff.
Michael, what is the, first of all "the New York Times" report tonight
about, it sounds like we could have had a much worse body count if he had
gotten his hands on that automatic, that assault weapon.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well it
was pretty bad as it was, of course, Lawrence. Actually, I think it was
less than -- it was not just on the last week. It was on Saturday. Just
less than two days before the rampage. Alexis goes to the gun store in, in
Lorton, Virginia, Northern Virginia. Tests, as practice tests, firing the
It is not clear whether he actually tried to buy it or not. The owner of
the gun store who I communicated with last night, says he has no
information to back that up. But clearly, he rented the rifle as I was
told and then purchased that shut gun which of course he used in the
But, I think, what is really the most disturbing aspect of all of this from
what we are learning is how he got access to the base and continued to have
that secret security clearance? Given everything that we have learned
about him, he enlisted in the Navy reserves in 2007. He was granted the
security clearance in March of 2008. That is less than four years after
that Seattle police arrest in which he blows out the tires with gunshots of
the neighbor, then says, he suffered a blackout because he was fueled with
anger. And according to the public police report, his father tells police
he has anger management problems. Because of his rescue efforts during
O`DONNELL: And Michael, is that a record that would normally pop up in
this kind of background check?
ISIKOFF: Well, it depends on how thorough the background check is, and
that`s one of the big questions that lawmakers on Capitol Hill are asking
now. He would have had to have filled out, there is a very extremely
detailed questionnaire that you need to get for any kind of security
clearance. And he certainly would have been asked about his arrest record.
Now, whether he lied to federal investigators on the background check,
whether they checked beyond that, certainly, if he lived in the community,
checking with local police and something that in any standard practice
background check one would do.
But then, go beyond that, Lawrence. He gets the back, he gets the security
clearance in March 2008. Then in 2010, he gets arrested again in the
incident in Fort Worth, another gun incident. And then in January of 2011,
he was discharged from the Navy and Navy officials said because of a
pattern of misconduct.
What leaps out here is, he kept the security clearance. That security
clearance was good for ten years. It is not clear, the Navy, if they had
all the information that caused the discharge here. Ever went and took
steps to revoke the security clearance. So when he goes to work for the
contractor, the experts, that`s the Florida IT firm, he maintains the
security clearance. The Experts they say, that`s the name of the company,
went to DOD twice in June of this, as recently as in June of this year
saying does he still have the security clearance and was told in the
affirmative he does.
O`DONNELL: Michael Isikoff, thanks for joining us with the latest tonight.
ISIKOFF: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the things you did not know were happening inside
the Obama re-election campaign. Richard Wolffe knows it all and has got
all the secrets. He will join us.
O`DONNELL: Some New York politicians know how to bow out with grace and
dignity and some do not. That was one mayoral candidate`s final wave good-
bye after losing to Bill de Blasio.
The candidate who came in second place was Bill Thompson. In his first
campaign for mayor, Bill Thompson came within five percentage points of
beating Mike Bloomberg. This time, Bill Thompson came in far behind Bill
de Blasio. But he could have possibly force aid run off between de Blasio
and himself if he had challenged the vote count that had de Blasio just a
hair above 40 percent. Instead, Bill Thompson said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL THOMPSON, NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Bill de Blasio, and I want
to move our city forward in the same direction. We share the fundamental
same views and values. This is bigger than either one of us. And the best
way to guarantee that we improve our schools, save our hospitals, create
good jobs, protect our people, and their rights is to come together. The
path to getting there begins with Bill de Blasio walking through these
doors as the next mayor of the city of New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: A classy last hooray. The rewrite is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: The vast majority of Americans think this
is common sense. We can protect the right of law-abiding citizens to use
guns in a responsible, legal ways for sporting and hunting and self
defense. But we have got to keep hands, do everything we can to keep guns
out of the hand of those who would misuse them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Senator Dick Durbin speaking on the Senate floor. It
could have been any time in last few years, any time in Senator Durbin`s
senate career, it could have been after Gabby Giffords was shot and six
people murder around her, it could have been after 12 people were murdered
and 58 were wounded in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, it could have
been after 20 first graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy
Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
But it was today, the day after 12 people were wounded and eight wounded at
the Navy Yard, within walking distance from where senator Durbin spoke.
Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy lost her husband in a gun massacre on the
long island railroad. Her son was gravely wounded in that massacre. That
is why she ran for congress in 1996 after the massacre at Sandy Hook
Elementary school, she asked this question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (R), NEW YORK: How many people have to be killed
before we do something?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The answer is we don`t know. But we do know that the 20
children murdered at Sandy Hook were not enough to make us do something.
The 12 people murdered in Washington yesterday are probably not enough to
make us do something. We know that the 32 murdered at Virginia tech were
not enough, 32. That`s the record for mass murder by firearm in America.
And we know that every one of the shooters since then has been trying how
to break that record. Trying to kill as many people as they possibly can.
And we know that the next time someone mows down children in school, or
students in a college campus, or people who mistakenly think they`re safe
in their work place, the people who work hard to allow this to happen, will
be silent as they were today.
Wayne Lapierre and the lobbyists took the National Rifle Association who
make sure that America`s mass murderers are the very best equipped mass
murderers in the world will be silent the day after the next mass murder.
And the people who know we have to do something will speak out once again
and sadly their speeches are already written.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The American people support what we`re trying to do.
But we`re not hearing their voices.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guns kill. And it is a shame that we allow the ghost
of the NRA to ride in to this place and just smack down common sense.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best way to prove our sadness, the best way to
prove that we really care, is to take action to protect the young innocent
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is our first task as a
society. Keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can`t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must
end, and to end them, we must change.
OBAMA: That most fundamental set of rights to life and liberty and pursuit
of happiness. Fundamental rights that were denied to college students at
Virginia tech and high school students at Columbine, and elementary school
students in Newtown and kids on street corners in Chicago on too frequent a
basis to tolerate. And all the families who never imagined that they would
lose ape loved one a loved one to a bullet. Those right are at stake. We
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our weak gun laws allow these mass killings to be
carried out again and again and again in our country.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one can know for
certain if this senseless act could have been prevented. But we all know
we have a moral obligation, a moral obligation to everything in our power
to diminish the prospect that this could happen again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The status quo is not acceptable to the mounting
legions of families who have lost loved ones due to gun violence that could
have been prevented if we had have the courage to stand up and do something
in this chain. If we have had the courage to take on the gun lobby and
make some common sense change as the majority of Americans, the vast
majority of Americans support.
OBAMA: For the men and women in big cities and small towns who fall
victims to senseless violence each and every day, for all the Americans who
are counting on us to keep them safe from harm. Let`s do the right thing.
Let`s do the right thing for them and for this country that we love so
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have watched the slaughter of so many people and I
have met with so many victims over the years. And in Congress, nobody
wanted to touch the issue. And for last several years, the massacres were
going on more and more. And going through it, I kept saying what is wrong
with all of us? How many people have to be killed before we do something?
O`DONNELL: How many? I do just misstated number and what I was saying
before and I said that eight were wounded yesterday in Washington. I wrote
the number three, the number three was on the prompter. I said the number
eight. That happens from time to time. But to Carolyn McCarthy`s
question, how many? We are not there yet.
O`DONNELL: The Obama team won in the last presidential election as
everybody knows. I always thought they were going to win. I didn`t think
the Republicans had a candidate that could beat the Obama team. But
Richard Wolffe knows that the Obama team had many more problems than we
realized. He has a book out now about that. He is going to join me next.
O`DONNELL: The Obama re-election campaign had a problem. They didn`t have
as much as the Romney campaign for television advertising so they have to
be very careful in their purchase of television times to make sure they
were getting the most impact for TV advertising dollars. And they had to
run better ads than the Romney campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some said our best days were behind us. But not him.
He believed in us. Fought for us. And today, our auto industry is back
firing all cylinders. Our greatest enemy brought to justice by our
greatest heroes. Our troops are home from Iraq. Instead of losing jobs we
are creating them, over 4.2 million so far. We are not there yet. It`s
still too hard for too many. But we are coming back because you don`t quit
and neither does he.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is MSNBC.com executive editor and MSNBC
political analyst Richard Wolffe, his new book "the message, the reselling
of President Obama" is out today and in my hands. This is so exciting.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Wonderful.
O`DONNELL: So Richard, this book tells the story of just how difficult it
was in every way in the Obama campaign in all sorts of things that had no
idea were difficult for them. But even that ad, they had the problem of
having to talk about things getting better as opposed to actually being
better than they were when President Obama got elected.
WOLFFE: Right. So, you go into this saying, we want to say it is morning
in America. You want to have --.
O`DONNELL: Everything is better for everyone, but what if it isn`t?
WOLFFE: But, what if it isn`t? So, unbelievable amounts of debate about,
is it, we`re not there yet. Is it getting better? Is it already better?
Could the president take a credit for it? What they call accomplishments,
how much of the accomplishments could they have?
You know, we see these ad, we think II get that. Yes, nice pictures.
There is a huge effort that goes into those 30 second, 60 seconds. And
that leads to an incredible amount of conflict and tension among very smart
people, very experienced people. About how you package this up. Because
the re-election isn`t about who this guy is, it`s not about what he has
done. It is how you talk about it. And vast amounts of money, a billion
dollars go into it. So, I was fascinated with that story. How did that
come about? And you know, overcoming the economy is one thing, overcoming
that internal debate is its own challenge in itself.
O`DONNELL: That`s where I picked that up. They ran other ads, I think we
better, more impact. But what`s interesting about that as is the average
person looks at that and it goes makes sense. That`s not that hard to do.
But there is so much in putting that together.
The way they bought the TV time was absolute genius. They didn`t have as
much money as the Romney campaign. And the Romney campaign, we ended up
learning at the end, ended up wasting it. By throwing it out to audiences
that were in effect, way too, the audience was too large for the ad. It
wasn`t targeted. Explain thou that works.
WOLFFE: So, we were focus, you know, when people write about campaigns,
they focus on things that were really impressive like the ground game and
you know, some of the technology. But some of the core technology that
really made a difference was looking at the best value for money in obscure
corners of the cable universe -- TV land, local sports at 3:00 a.m.
Whether they would try to find this tiny sliver of the audience, you know.
They ranked every single voter in the country on a scale of one to 100.
They were looking at in the likelihood of who would vote.
The 45-65, not the 1`s, not the 100s. MSNBC represented the 100s, right?
People would definitely vote for them. No interested in them, 45 to 65,
they were looking at TV land, the reruns, these obscure places and they
calculated this algorithm, how cheap would it be to reach the biggest
number of these people they would rank from 45-65. No one has ever done
that before. They made this distinction between smart TV and dumb TV.
Dumb TV with a Neilson numbers. The things you and I live for everyday,
that was dumb TV. Smart TV was layering over all of these things that
quantify who, what channel, how much did it cost, no one has ever done that
before. That`s changed elections for the future.
O`DONNELL: You know, I can`t remember ever seriously criticizing the Obama
campaign first time or second time because I never once felt I have a
better idea than what I see them doing.
But Richard Wolffe, thanks for joining us on publication day. And I have
two lords for you before you go.
WOLFFE: What`s that?
O`DONNELL: Happy birthday.
WOLFFE: My goodness. Thank you so much.
O`DONNELL: The cake apparently didn`t get on time. But I`m going to hold
up the book one more time because it is (INAUDIBLE).
Chris Hayes is up next. You better be holding this book.
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