THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
November 4, 2013
Guest: E.J. Dionne, Eric Stern, Jared Polis, Stuart Milk, Ida Siegal,
James Cavanaugh; Jason Thigpen
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, "THE LAST WORD": On this night five
years ago, I was in Chicago watching Barack Obama`s presidential campaign
make history. Tonight, he is still campaigning to make the Affordable Care
Act a success.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Just remember this, I have run
my last political campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Policy versus politics versus plans.
OBAMA: But I have got one more campaign in me.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Is ObamaCare on life support -- the president is
hoping that a grassroots effort is the right medicine.
OBAMA: We just got to keep on working.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The thing we keep hearing over and over again.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Time and time again.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We heard it on the Sunday shows, we heard it this
OBAMA: And the other news that people are focused on.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Three-and-a-half million people have gotten
OBAMA: Notices that some Americans have gotten.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Just five percent of Americans.
OBAMA: There has been so much noise and so much misinformation.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We`re missing a big question here.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: A majority of those folks
will get better coverage.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: They will do better.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Better health care coverage than they have ever had
OBAMA: Making the insurance market better for everything.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: They know that the clock is ticking.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: The American people don`t want the
government to shut down and they don`t want ObamaCare.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Policy versus politics versus plans.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ideology matters more than electability.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The thing that has held the Republican Party back
in the Obama era.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The whole country is looking to
New Jersey for leadership.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: At the end of the day, we have to govern something.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: A growing frustration within both political
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Washington is just constipated. I mean, there`s
nothing we can say about it.
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With regards to what
has gone on in Washington lately.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ideology matters more than electability.
ROMNEY: With the shut down, if you will.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The shutdown was so magnificent. Run
beautifully. I`m so proud of these Republicans.
ROMNEY: I thought it would not be effective and it was not effective.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Is there not a time where you wish you would have
voted for Mitt Romney.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I`m sorry, I always like to start with a joke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Five years ago tonight, Barack Obama was elected the 44th
president of the United States. Tonight, he spoke to supporters at the
organizing for action summit to remind them what winning the White House
was all about and tell them he has one more campaign in him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I promise that by the end of my first term, I would have
passed health care reform into law. I would have signed that bill. And
thanks to your help, we did that. We got it done.
Now, let`s face it. A lot of us didn`t realize that passing the law
was the easy part.
Change isn`t easy, period. Change in this area is especially hard
because it touches on everybody. Everybody`s lives are impacted and it`s a
very personal issue. You know? And when you`re undertaking something this
big, this important like health care reform, we knew we were going to get
resistance. Maybe not. Maybe not to the same degree as we have gotten,
but there is a reason why this has not gotten done before. And by the way
there is a reason why the opponents of this law throughout have never been
able to actually offer a better alternative. All right?
Initially they said they would but they didn`t. Because they
understand that it`s hard. But when the unexpected happen, when the un-
anticipated happens, you know, we`re just going work on it, we`re going to
fix things that are not working the way they should be. We`re going to
smooth this thing out and we`re just going to keep on going. We`re going
to keep on going because it is too important to too many people not just in
this generation but in future generations but we have got to make sure that
we stay on track to make this work.
Just remember this. I have run my last political campaign. But I`ll
tell you what, I have got one more campaign in me. The campaign to make
sure that this law works for every single person in America. I`m asking
for your help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now are E.J. Dionne, columnist for the
Washington Post and an MSNBC analyst and Eric Stern the deputy secretary of
state of Montana and a former senior advisor of former Governor Brian
Schweitzer. Eric is also a contributor to salon.com. E.J. Dionne, the
president is making it very clear there that this time passing the bill is
not enough? That this is a law that needs to be campaigned for while it is
already written into law.
E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, because of the
resistance to this has continued at every level. There are many reasons
some of them the administration`s fault for sure that these exchanges have
had so much trouble. But it`s also difficult because states are supposed
to run these exchanges. The states that are running them, a lot of those
are going just fine but the federal government got stuck with this giant
group of 30 states that they have got to run an exchange for. So, that`s
part of the problem. Every single little thing that goes wrong, anyone-
anywhere in the country who gets a policy canceled, this becomes major news
for opponents of the law.
But I don`t think, I think all of that is noise that sort of distracts
from the larger debate which is, do you think that the government has a
role in helping people who can`t afford to buy insurance or not. And the
president said, the opponents have not come up with an alternative because
fundamentally they just don`t believe in this expanded role for government.
Obama does and he`s going to have to keep campaigning for it.
O`DONNELL: Eric Stern, you were one of the first debunkers of these
anecdotal accounts about how ObamaCare has ruined my life. Sean Hannity
had some guest on his program complaining about this. And you got into the
details of it to discover that they really were not well versed in what
ObamaCare actually meant to them. I have been looking at every one of
these, you know, how ObamaCare hurts me stories. And I probably haven`t
seen them all but Eric, I haven`t seen one that doesn`t have a perfectly
reasonable explanation for the story that the people is telling. Have you
found what you would call real, you know, negative outcomes for people
ERIC STERN, SALON CONTRIBUTOR: No, I haven`t. And the six people
that Hannity had on his show that night, it was a total fraud and a total
set up and what Hannity was saying about those folks was not true. And I
have called others since then that I have seen in other places in the media
and no, you never, there is always an explanation that you didn`t hear when
they were on FOX News or whatever right wing outlet they were on. It`s
just the reality of it. It`s really unfortunate. And you know, I think
what E.J. just said, he`s right on the money. You know, Republicans are,
you know, somebody once said lead, follow, or get out of the way.
Republicans are in the way. That`s all they have done is get in the way
and they need to get out of the way right now.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen more to what the president said tonight about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: As long as the website is not working the way it should, it
makes it harder for you to help them get coverage. And that`s unacceptable
and I`m taking responsibility to make sure that it gets fixed and it will
be fixed. We`re working overtime to get it fixed.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
I just want to remind everybody that they can still apply for coverage
by phone, by mail, in person and remember, we`re only one month into a six
month open enrollment period. Everybody who wants to get insurance through
the marketplace, they will be able to get it. It`s not as if there is --
this is a one day sale or something.
Right? So we have just got to keep on working.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, clearly there is a choice to be made in the
White House in a situation like this. Either send the president out there
to talk about other things or send him out there to talk about the biggest
problem they have. Do not duck it, go straight at how is the exchange
working and how can we make it better and what do we do while we`re fixing
DIONNE: Well, I think they`re going to do a little bit of both.
Because they want other issues on the table. They are going to talk about
immigration reform. This talk is going to start talking about the minimum
wage which I`d actually like to see him do. But he can`t duck this one
because it`s going to be in the news anyway. And he is the guy who is the
best guy to carry the message that this thing can work and he can`t taught
this because it`s going to be the most important achievement of his
And the shame of having messed up the exchanges is some of these
stories would probably go away if people had easy access to figure out what
can I get a policy for? How much is it going to cost me and how much is
the subsidy going be. And a lot of these stories when people thought they
were going to pay a lot more if they were of lower income, they discovered
that once subsidy kicked in, they actually paid less so you need that
exchange running but you need the president out there. He has got to be
aggressive. There is no alternative.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to the president tonight talking about the
cancellation of some people`s insurance policies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: One of the reasons that we took up health care reform was not
just to help the uninsured but also the underinsured, or the badly insured.
Sometimes by the way, they don`t know how vulnerable they are. Because
when you look at the fine print, it turns out that a whole bunch of things
that people think are covered are not covered. We did this to put to an
end to the days when the individual market had almost no standards. When
every year, thousands of Americans would be dropped from their coverage.
People are acting like this is some new phenomenon. Every year there was
churn in this individual market.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Eric stern, how is it working so far in Montana?
STERN: We`re on the federal exchange so it`s working here as it is in
the rest of America that`s on the federal exchange. Let`s realize that the
Tea Party controls our legislature and there was a movement to try to allow
Montana to have our own exchange and to put it together on our own. And we
have a very efficient government and I have no doubt that it would have
work well on our own exchange. But we basically, Tea Party said no, so the
legislature voted it down and we`re on the federal exchange now, so we`re
having the same struggles as everybody else.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the president said tonight about the
so called noise around this story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There has been so much noise and so much miss information and
this incredible organized effort to block the notion that everybody should
have affordable health care in this country that I think it`s important for
us to step back and look at take a look at what has already been
accomplished. Because a lot of times it doesn`t make news. Controversies
make news. But what`s happened quietly across the country over the last
three years has not gotten a lot of attention. In fact, a lot of people
who are benefiting don`t even know it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: E.J., that`s one of the challenges of this kind of law is
when it works well, it doesn`t even feel necessarily like the hand of
government helping you, say, keep your children on your insurance policy
until they are 26-years-old for example.
DIONNE: Right. Although I might say that`s one benefit that I think
people who are in that category are aware of. But the notion that you`re
safe now from being kicked off of your policy for some reason or lifetime
limits or that you can be discriminated against because of a pre-existing
conditions, I don`t think those things have penetrated yet to the public.
And in truth, Democrats and the administration did not do a great job
selling this law because it never polled very well. And so, it wasn`t --
to engage in, and it may be making lemons out of lemons. But with all this
attention, they might actually have to sell the plan in order to keep it
going and people might finally then realize what`s actually in it.
O`DONNELL: Eric Stern, what cautions would you have for reporters who
are doing these stories, the individual anecdote stores about how the
Affordable Care Act affects me?
STERN: You have got to ask questions and ask them carefully and you
have to be comprehensive in the way you ask the questions. And obviously,
if you`re going to do it on the air, you should call beforehand to make
sure that you have asked all the questions ahead of time. Kind of like a
deposition before trial because what I have noticed is that reporters have
people on the air and they`re letting the people tell the story but they
are not really digging down. They are not drilling down. And the fact of
the matter is, there are going to be people that are negatively affected by
ObamaCare. It`s not possible that every single American is going to have
exactly what they had before and better. There will be some folks
sacrifice small things but that doesn`t mean that we shouldn`t have the
program. But you have to ask the questions and a lot of times I don`t see
reporters asking the questions sufficiently and, you know, they get rolled
O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne and Eric Stern, thank you both for joining me
DIONNE: Good to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a key step forward in ending discrimination
against gays and lesbians. Stuart Milk will join me. And what happens
after tomorrow`s elections for the Republican Party`s identity crisis.
THE LAST WORD exclusive tonight, a North Carolina Republican who is
switching parties. And Rand Paul is in the Rewrite for trying and failing
to rewrite the definition of plagiarism. And later, amazing video that you
can only see here, and NBC News exclusive of two planes in a midair
collision that everyone on board both planes survived. You have never seen
anything like this.
O`DONNELL: New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer endorsed Hillary
Clinton for president in the 2016 presidential contest on Saturday night.
Schumer told an Iowa Democratic Party audience it`s time for a woman to be
president and so tonight here in Iowa and I won`t get this opportunity
again, I am urging Hillary Clinton to run for president. And when she does
she will have my full unwavering support.
A Clinton spokesman told reporters what he said about her is very
flattering. Ultimately though, this is a very personal decision that she
hasn`t made. Of course as viewers of this program already know, Hillary
Clinton has made that decision and is, of course, totally running for
Up next, the politics of passing a bill that bans discrimination based
on sexual orientation.
O`DONNELL: The last time the Senate voted on the employment non-
discrimination act in 1996, the vote was 49 in favor, 50 against. Tonight,
seven Republican senators crossed party lines and voted for cloture on the
employment non-discrimination act. The final vote count was 61 favor, 30
against, leading the charge this time around where Republican Senator Susan
Collins and Mike Kirk who spoke on the Senate floor for the first time
today since his debilitating stroke nearly two years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MIKE KIRK (R), ILLINOIS: Thank you Madam President. I ask
unanimous consent to deliver my remarks while seated.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Without objection.
KIRK: Madam President, I would say that I have been silent for the
last two years due to a stroke two years ago. I have risen to speak
because I believe so passionately in an acting end of statue. I think it`s
particularly appropriate for Illinois Republican to speak on behalf of this
measure in the true tradition of Everett McKinley Dirksen and Abraham
Lincoln. Men who gave us the 1964 civil rights act and the 13th amendment
to the constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: President Obama wrote this in an op-ed in the Huffington
Post. Does it make a difference if the firefighter who rescues you is gay
or the accountant who does your taxes or the mechanic who fixes your car?
The majority of fortune 500 companies and small business is already have
non-discrimination policies that protect the LGBT employees, these
companies know that it`s both the right thing to do and makes good economic
sense. They want to attract and retain the best workers and discrimination
makes it harder to do that. Following tonight`s Senate vote, the first
openly gay senator said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (R), WISCONSIN: Rights are sometimes intangible
but boy, if you have ever been discriminated against seeking employment or
seeking an advancement, it`s bitter. And it`s been a long, long fight but
I think its day has come. And that`s just very exciting to witness and be
a part of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is democratic congressman from Colorado
Jared Polis who is one of seven openly gay members of the House of
Representatives. And Stuart Milk, LGBT rights activist and co-founder and
president of the Milk Foundation.
Congresswoman, what are the prospects for this bill coming over to the
House of Representatives?
REP. JARED POLIS (D), COLORADO: Well, you know, I think it`s good and
getting better and better. Frankly, it`s a mainstream American value that
people shouldn`t judged by who they love or who they date. At work, and
with your relationship with your boss and your co-workers, it`s about how
well you do at work, how effective you are and your efficiency. And
frankly Americans are wanting to make sure that we have a fair country and
that people are not discriminated on the basis of something that they can`t
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Senator Tom Harkin speaking before the
vote, he was there for that last vote in 1996.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM HARKIN (R), IOWA: The Senate is about to take another
historic step. Think about this, 1964 civil right acts, 1990, 23 years ago
I stood here and we passed the Americans with disabilities act extending
civil rights to people with disabilities. Here we are today now taking one
more step. No one should be discriminated against because of race, sex,
religion, national origin and they shouldn`t be discriminated against
because of who they love, or who they are, or whether they`re gay, or
whether they`re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. This is an
historic step for the United States Senate to do today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Stuart Milk, it`s quite a vote swing when you look at
where the same body was in 1996 versus the way they came out tonight.
STUART MILK, HARVEY MILK FOUNDATION: Absolutely. And those moving
words from Senator Harkin and Senator Kirk and Senator Baldwin, I think
they really do echo where the country has gone. You know, I spent the last
month in many places in the Middle America from Southern and Central
Arizona to the I-4 corridor in Orlando. And you know, there`s an important
message wherever you go in Middle America, you see businesses with us, you
see businesses supporting us. And one of the central factors is it`s good
for business. The quality and celebration of diversity is good for
Now, interestingly enough, I was just came back from LGBT diversity
Congress in Germany. And there was a career fear, there are 500 major
employers there. One of the things they were pointing to is the fact that
they don`t allow discrimination for LGBT people in Germany and in U.S.,
they did. So, there was some talent there that these companies we`re
recruiting, we`re going to miss the competitive edge and if John Boehner,
Speaker Boehner wants to move the country forward and get jobs and grow the
country he needs to call a vote on the employment non-discrimination act
And you know, to be honest with you, the conservatives in this
country, they`re going to see the camel collapse. This is going to be the
last straw if they don`t move forward with what we need today which is full
equality and protection from discrimination.
O`DONNELL: Well, there would be at least some Republican support for
vote in the House of Representative, this is what Pennsylvania Republican
Congressman Charlie Dent said today. He said, "It is my hope that this
legislation will be brought to the House floor allowing the members to vote
as they see fit and showing the American people that congress can work in a
bipartisan manner on an important issue of fairness." Congressman Polis,
how many Charlie Dents are there do you think in the Republican?
POLIS: Well, you know, we have 194 co-sponsors of the bill and five
of them were Republican. And frankly, I think we need to make to case to
Speaker Boehner and the Republican leaders that this addresses a real need
in America. In 29 states, it`s perfectly legal for your boss to fire you
just because of who you date in your spare time. That is simply un-
American. The American people are past that. More than 70 percent of the
American people support this and we can`t let them off the hook here. We
need to demand a simple up or down vote after it passes the Senate in the
House of Representatives.
O`DONNELL: Stewart Milk, I want to get your reaction to a tweet that
Harry Reid sent out today. He said, "passing EDA is the right thing to do.
As the great gay rights activist Harvey Milk once said, it takes no survey
to remove repression."
MILK: Absolutely. And I was very proud that leader Reid quoted my
uncle. You know, the court issued that he worked on 35 years ago, it will
be 35 years on November 27th that he was assassinated, the court issue was
non-discrimination and employment and housing. And you know, I really do
think that it takes no courage to number one, to come out and celebrate
diversity, celebrate diversity in your family, in your community, in your
And number two it`s important that we allow the American people in
Congress in the House to have a vote on this. And so, you know, my final
message to Speaker Boehner is you know, either ether allow the process to
move forward or get out of the way. Make it the Pelosi balcony and let`s
get some leadership in there. But we have got move forward here.
O`DONNELL: Stuart Milk and Congressman Jared Polis. Thank you both
for joining me tonight.
POLIS: A pleasure.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news now. Police are searching for a
gunman inside the Garden State Mall in Paramus, New Jersey. Officials are
calling the situation an active shooter situation. According to the Bergen
County, New Jersey chief of staff there are reports that there are multiple
shots fired at the mall. Police and emergency personnel are on the scene.
NBC reporter Ida Siegal is at the Garden State Mall in Paramus, New
Jersey. She joins us on the phone.
IDA SIEGAL, NBC REPORTER: Now, Lawrence, we got here maybe half an
hour ago to find that the Garden State Plaza Mall, which is heavily used
and very popular in Northern New Jersey, was flooded with police officers
wearing bullet proof vests, heavily armed, and you could tell their sense
of urgency. They were actively searching for the gunman who has not been
found as we speak. We have heard from multiple witnesses who were either
shopping inside the mall or working inside the mall who saw a soul gunman
dressed in all black wearing a vest, carrying a large rifle and wearing a
black helmet making his way through the mall.
One witness reported to me that she heard shots fired. Another said
that the gunman was firing shots straight up in the air. Three other
witnesses said that the gunman then headed to the Nordstrom Department
Store where they heard shots fire. It is unclear at this point, if anyone
was actually injured. If so, was anyone ever hit by a bullet, all of those
details are still unfolding at this hour. What we do know is that they
can`t seem to find the gunman at this point. There are dozens upon dozens
of police officers and law enforcement officials who are on scene here from
all over the Bergen County searching for this man.
They have not had any luck doing that at this point. We are also in
the parking lot here where the perimeter has not yet been created and you
have lots of people waiting for loved ones to come out of the mall. That
hasn`t happened yet either. So, lots of people on edge here, especially
law enforcement who are searching for this gunman, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Do we have a time when the first shot is reported?
SIEGAL: We don`t have an exact time. I believe we heard reports of
it around 9:00, but that`s a rough estimate. The time line of events has
not been laid out for us just yet. In fact, it has been very difficult to
get official information some law enforcement because they are still
involved in this active search and they are quite busy at the moment.
O`DONNELL: And Ida Siegal, clearly the mall was open at the time that
the shooting started. Is that about the time that they would be closing
there around 9:00?
SIEGAL: I don`t know the exact time that the mall is scheduled to
close. I would imagine that it is soon, perhaps 9:00 or 10:00. But yes,
the mall was not as heavily populated as it would be say, in the early
evening or in the afternoon perhaps. That might be a good saying. But I
do know that a number of employees were still working inside their stores
when this happened. Their doors were opened and they very quickly after
hearing gunshots, locked the doors. We heard from multiple employees who
locked the front door and then ran into the back of the stores and crouched
there until they were told it was safe to come out. Certainly very
frightening moments for all of them tonight.
O`DONNELL: Ida Siegal, I`m seeing police vehicles in the shots that
we have here at the moment. What I`m not seeing are ambulances. And I`m
wondering if you`re aware of ambulance calls or any number of ambulance
calls to the scene?
SIEGAL: You`re right. I have walked around much of the mall parking
lot this evening and I have not seen any ambulances on scene either. It
leads one to wonder how many injuries remain. I don`t know how many
ambulance calls might have been made tonight but within the immediate
perimeter of the scene, I have not seen any ambulances nor have I seen any
stretchers or anyone even reporting seeing anyone get injured. Perhaps
that is one bit of good news but of course, not of that has confirmed at
this point, we`re still waiting to hear if in fact anyone was shot.
O`DONNELL: How many police agencies are we aware of that have
reported to the scene?
SIEGAL: From where I`m standing and what I can see, I`m going to
guess maybe a dozen. I can see that four police, the Paramus Police
Department, the Bergen County Police Department has in fact police. It
looks like anyone who was within a few miles of this area was called into
the scene and they are gearing up in the parking lot, you know, putting on
their bullet proof vests and arming themselves and approaching the scene as
if it is a very dangerous and active scene. And they are certainly taking
precaution, simply flooding the parking lot here and then heading into the
mall near the Nordstrom storm.
O`DONNELL: Ida, we`re getting reports of eyewitnesses clocking the
beginning of the shooting at around 9:20 p.m. If that`s accurate, the mall
is listed as closing at 9:30. So, if that is an accurate report, then this
probably began at a time when the mall was about as empty as it could be
while still being open.
SIEGAL: And that would be quite fortunate if in fact those reports
are accurate. It makes one wonder what the strategy was for this gunman.
Of course, it`s anyone`s guess what the motive could be this shooting or in
any shooting of this nature. Generally speaking with this sort of thing we
find that they look to have the most casualties as possible and not clear
why this particular person would choose that time of night to open fire
randomly in a shopping mall if they aren`t going to be as many people. But
why they do what they do is something for others to study long after
O`DONNELL: And Ida, do you have any reports about him, the shooter
concentrating in a particular area and perhaps at a particular store?
SIEGAL: We have heard that he made an appearance at the Apple store
and Nordstrom. It`s unclear what order he went to either of those stores
but we`re also told that employees from Talbot store saw him walking by.
Employees from Cache store saw him walking by. We talked to an employee
who said he waved at her and she had chills at that moment. And thank God
that he did not target her and kept moving.
O`DONNELL: What else did she describe about that kind of moment? I
mean, here is -- was she completely aware of what she was looking at was a
possible mass shooter in the mall?
SIEGAL: I think she did not really understand what was happening
until after the fact. He walked by and it wasn`t until after he kept
walking that she heard the gunshots that her manager ushered her into the
back of the store, lock the doors and they sat there crouched quietly,
hoping they would not become victims.
She said she was in a state of shock and quite frankly, couldn`t
believe this was happening at her mall. Certainly we all hear about the
shootings happening elsewhere and it was happening right before her. So,
she felt very grateful. She thought that God was watching over her in that
O`DONNELL: And no one you talked to reported seeing any -- anyone
injured in anyway?
SIEGAL: No. I have not spoken to anyone who has seen any injuries at
all. That said, there is still, of course, could be quite a few injuries
inside. We just don`t know at this point. I have not seen anyone come out
on a stretcher. I have spoken to maybe over a dozen witnesses and no one
has heard reports or scene anyone who was actually injured. We`re still
waiting to figure that part of the story out.
O`DONNELL: Also joining us now is former special agent at the bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and explosives, James Cavanaugh.
James Cavanaugh, how do you assess what we know so far about this
incident at the mall?
JAMES CAVANAUGH, FORMER SPECIAL AGENT, BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO AND
FIREARMS: Well, Lawrence, lie you talked about it, there are really still
breaking. I just watched the feed where the uniformed officers were
loading up into the car, probably could be trying to respond to a location,
maybe on the other side of the mall where there might think the gunman is.
Those witnesses all said there was one gunman that they saw all in
black moving through the mall. So, that`s all they have at the moment.
But it looks like they`re in the early stages of the operation, trying to
isolate and locate the shooters. That`s the main thing they have got to
do. They locate him. That they isolate him. They move the people away.
I also noticed SWAT teams, tactical teams gearing up outside. So,
they are getting ready to follow in on the patrol movement for the active
O`DONNELL: And what is the -- when you hear the report, the official
police report saying active shooter in the mall, what does that mean to you
about what`s going on inside that mall now?
CAVANAUGH: Well, post columbine, Lawrence, we all trained in law
enforcement to deal with active shooters as a paradigm in shift, paradigm
shift, and the way we treated these violent developing situations.
And so, what happens is, the first, two or three uniformed patrol
officers that arrive, they quickly gear up with their long guns and move in
as a unit and they try to locate that shooter because usually they are in
there slaughtering innocent people so they get to them real fast and try to
take them down just like what happened at LAX the other day and the Navy
yard as well.
So, that`s what is going on. Patrol is moving in fast and trying to
locate him and take him in and isolate him. The tactical teams which you
see gearing up, they are coming in on the heels of patrol.
O`DONNELL: And Ida Siegal reports not having seen any ambulances in
her movement around the exterior of the mall and we don`t see any
ambulances on the limited video that we have of what`s going on over there.
If, in fact, there are no ambulances there, that seems to me to be as
positive an indicator as we could hope for at this point.
CAVANAUGH: Well, you know, let`s hope it`s a positive indicator. I
agree with you, Lawrence. Of course, they will sometimes emergency
personnel like that will be kept back if there is an active shooting
situation going on so that the paramedics or firemen are not injured as
well. They go into hot scenes, too. But sometimes, it is just so hot that
they keep him back a little bit. But yes, I think it is a good sign, maybe
the people were able to move away from this guy quickly.
O`DONNELL: And did you hear that the report of that behavior where
the shooter was walking through the mall before shooting and waving to
someone working at one of the stores? What does that indicate to you?
CAVANAUGH: You know, these guys get on a mission. Look how prepared
this fellow is going to be? He is all dressed in black. He has got his
long gun. He probably has a lot of ammunition, similar to the guy in LAX.
These people planned this carefully. This is not just something they
just decided to do yesterday. They acquire the ammunition, the firearms,
the gear, the apparel. And they decide what they`re going to do. And so,
you know, they`re trying to be selective, maybe to be liked. It is
distorted and it is crazy as we see it. But in their minds it might work.
Look at the Kenya mall shooting. The killers are going through asking
people their religion and trying to decide whether they will kill them or
not based on their religious beliefs.
At the LAX, the shooter was asking if you are a federal agent and then
he shooting you, and if you are not, that he is letting you go.
O`DONNELL: The report that we now have is of multiple gunshots. The
chief of staff of the Bergen County said that -- Jean Baratta said multiple
gunshots were heard. We believe it is one shooter. I know there is an
active shooter near the Nordstrom area. The mall is being evacuated. And
she added that a SWAT team, law enforcement is on the site. So, this is
pretty strong confirmation of multiple gun shots and the belief by the
authorities that there is exactly one shooter in there.
CAVANAUGH: Right. I agree with you.
O`DONNELL: James, so that, for them to arrive at that conclusion
where they are willing to say we believe it`s one shooter, how solid does
their information have to be before they go public with that?
CAVANAUGH: You know, I think they have got to be careful. I mean,
they had eyewitness reports of one shooter all dressed in black but you
just never know. You could have multiple people dressed black. So, it is
so preliminary. That`s almost hard to say.
I think basically what they are telling us is we don`t have any
reports of multiple shooters. And so, that`s where they are right now.
O`DONNELL: WNBC interviewed a witness that worked at a Talbots store
in the mall. Here is what she told WNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: He started shooting up in the air.
CLARICE FORBES, HEARD SHOTS IN MALL: Yes. Straight up in the air.
And when he walked pass our store, he looked directly in the store and
strolled past. It was very terrifying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: So, he looked you in the eye?
FORBES: Yes, basically, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: And what were you thinking?
FORBES: I don`t know if I`m going to survive. That was the first
thing. I thought about my mom. So many thoughts going through my head.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Then where did he go?
FORBES: He continued to walk down towards Nordstrom and you could
still hear the gunshots going off in the air.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: James Cavanaugh, what`s your reaction to him firing
gunshots into the air?
CAVANAUGH: Well, he`s sort of, you know, like on his mission, he
wants people to see him. He wants to complete his killing spree or his
actions. He is looking to see reactions from other people. Who knows who
he is trying to target, if it`s employee related, if he`s after certain
people at a certain store and just wants other people to flee or could it
be a complete terrorist act. We don`t know yet, so.
And sometimes when people don`t handle firearms a lot, Lawrence, they
are not experienced with them and constantly shooting them off. So
sometimes you know, you will see soldiers on these foreign feed where they
are all shooting guns in the air. You know, it`s an undisciplined handling
of the weapon, really.
O`DONNELL: Now, we are saying he, but we don`t have confirmation in
our fact base right now that this is necessarily a man.
But Jim Cavanaugh, that is the statistical probability in our
experience with these kinds of events. And again, let`s get your reaction
to, this mall closes at 9:30 p.m. We have one report indicating that the
shooting might have begun just ten minutes before closing.
What`s your reaction to that information? What would be so late for
this shooter and the opportunity to invade that mall.
CAVANAUGH: Yes. It`s a great question, Lawrence. And I think of
that one myself. Because a lot of times you see the shootings start early
in the morning. The Navy yard, you know, Lax is like 9:00 a.m. and the
person is kind of worked up to the act all weekend or overnight, and then
they, you know, get up in their other mission. Who knows what is going on
in a guy`s life, you know. It is hard to say. You know, how he was
preparing what the transportation he had. You know, what employment he may
have had, you know, what he was going to say.
So, that is really hard to say. But it is a little unusual that at
that hour of night, like you say, 10 minutes before the mall would close,
but these guys sometimes have a fantastic old plan, I like to say, that
really doesn`t make any sense. So, he might want to get in there and
barricade with a bunch of hostages. He might want to shoot a bunch of
people and then, you know, get on the stage and be laboring all night or
something like that. So, it`s really hard to say what`s in his mind.
But I agree with you. It`s kind of odd, the timing.
O`DONNELL: NBC 4, New York, does have witnesses saying that it is
indeed a man. They are describing the shooter as a man dressed in all
black including a black helmet carrying a rifle and started firing shots
inside the mall. But we still do not have any reports from any of the
witnesses of anyone being hit, of anyone actually being injured in this
And Jim Cavanaugh, as we just hear from that witness on video, the
only shooting she saw was the man shooting straight up into the ceiling.
CAVANAUGH: Well, and that`s a great observation by the witness and as
you pointed out, Lawrence. You know, it could be something as odd as a
suicide by cop. In other words, I have dealt with those kind of guys
before. You know, they want us to shoot them. And he could be going in
there all dressed up like a mass killer not shipping anyone, shooting in
the air, knowing at 10 minutes to ten, he is going to draw the large police
response and then he is going to be killed by the police.
You know, we don`t know. That`s speculation clearly on our part. But
we, like you say, we don`t have wounded we know of. He is shooting in the
air, so you know, there is possibilities to go a lot of ways there. But
let`s hope that nobody is buried there.
O`DONNELL: If that`s the case, Jim Cavanaugh, no one is injured, what
would be the next positive report you would expect us to be able to get.
CAVANAUGH: Yes. The best thing we could hear would be that he is
located, and then that he is isolated, and then he is isolated alone. So,
those are the things that the commander on the ground wants to hear. He is
located, he is isolated, and he is isolated alone.
Now, law enforcement is going to handle the situation and law
enforcement is going to succeed because the only person that should get --
that could get hurt and should get hurt would be him, not that he should
get hurt, but he would be the only one who would get hurt. So, they are
going to some people. The police can protect themselves. And so, that
would be the best scenario that could come out.
O`DONNELL: Well, let`s hope for that.
We`re going to take a break for now. We will be back with more live
coverage of this shooting situation at the New Jersey mall. An active
shooter reported in the mall at this hour.
We`ll be back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A black helmet. And he had the rifle straight
up. And he was just shooting. He was just shooting straight ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We are rejoining our live coverage of the active shooter
situation at the Garden State Plaza mall in New Jersey. An active shooter
has been reported by police to be in the mall. And a shooting that started
sometime after 9:00 p.m. local time. The chief of staff at Bergen county,
Jean Baratta said quote "multiple gunshots were heard. We believe it is
one shooter. I know there is an active shooter near the Nordstrom area."
The mall is being evacuated. That is as much as we know as there are
no reported injuries at this time at the mall. We now have reports from
several witnesses who were working in the mall, mostly worker in the mall
because it was very close to closing time of the mall. And so, perhaps
there were not as many shoppers as there might otherwise would have been.
And from those workers in the mall, more than one has said they saw the
shooter dressed all in black including a black helmet and shooting, firing
straight up into the ceiling.
We don`t have any reports yet of the shooter firing at anyone and most
importantly, we do not yet have any reports of injuries, but this is
reported by police as an active shooter situation inside the mall.
I`m rejoined by James Cavanaugh, former ATF officer.
Jim Cavanaugh, as time goes by and we continue to not pick up any
reports of injuries, is that -- does our hope for no injury increase as
time goes by or might there be some reason for a delay in that information?
CAVANAUGH: Yes. I think it`s a reason for delay. I would say it`s
static at the moment. The commanders are trying to get the information,
Lawrence, also. You know, being in those situations, it is a big walls
like that are tough to deal with, big facilities because, you know, you
try. You have officers spread out inside and you`re trying to get all of
that information, you know, where did he go, who was wounded, what
The video that you just showed with the three offers and the long guns
look like maybe premise of PD, jumping into their cruiser, you know, that`s
an active shooter team right. That`s where patrol officers come together
to get their long guns and they`re going to engage the active shooter.
They were changing locations so they may have been going around the other
side of the mall or he might go in to a place where he was spotted and to
try to cut him off or engage him over there.
O`DONNELL: We`re also getting reports that the helmet makes
identifying the shooter very difficult. Some indicating that it was
perhaps a motorcycle style helmet with full coverage, Jim Cavanaugh, that
would make witness identification virtually impossible.
CAVANAUGH: Right. And he may -- if it`s a motorcycle helmet it`s not
going to be bullet proof but he may see some identity -- hiding his
identity benefit from it or hiding his identity from surveillance cameras.
He also may think it gives him some protection from firearms. But clearly,
what you see with the helmet in the description of the clothing and the
vest is preparation. There is a lot of preparation. And so, that means he
has his mission and he`s on it now. And it is critical that he be located.
O`DONNELL: And Jim Cavanaugh, I assume I`m trying to get into the --
this mind set to the extent that we possibly can, that a certain amount of
that appearance is intended to look fearsome as well as possibly be
somewhat protective for him?
CAVANAUGH: No, that`s exactly right. I mean, I think a lot of these
guys want to be fearsome. I mean, that`s who they think they are. They
see themselves that way. You know, the LAX shooter is talking about how
he`s going to kill traitors and how, you know, a patriot is going to kill
traitors. And so, he sees himself as this persona of someone who is big
and important. And so, he is going to dress, you know, like he sees the
police or the military dress and he`s going to try to act that way and
(INAUDIBLE), so he gets the dress, you know, the black clothing and so
And of course, he believes that`s going to enhance his mission. You
know, he is going to be stealthy and he is going to be all these kind of
ninja-like things, which is really not true unless he`s some harden
terrorist from Al-Qaeda who is, you know, practiced in the war zone or
something, it`s probably not going be real. But, that is the way he is
going to see himself.
O`DONNELL: James Cavanaugh, thank you very much for joining us.
MSNBC will continue to monitor the situation throughout the night and
will bring updates as need.
We are going to resume our programming here on the "Last Word." A
development in Florida today that has national ramifications for the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE CRIST, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: No matter what they say it is
not a sin to reach across the aisle. It is your obligation to work
together. So yes, I`m running as a Democrat and I am proud to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s former Florida Republican governor Charlie Crist
who has traveled the full distance from Republican to independent and now
finally, Democrat. Also, abandoning the Republican party is Iraq war
Veteran and north Carolina congressional candidate Jason Thigpen who said,
I refuse to be a part of an extremist movement in the GOP that only appears
to only thrive on fear and hatemongering of anyone and everyone who doesn`t
walk their line.
Joining me now for an exclusive interview, Jason Thigpen, running to
unseat Republican congressman Walter Jones.
Jason, thank you very much for joining us tonight. How long did you
ponder this big decision about switching parties?
JASON THIGPEN, LEFT GOP FOR DEMOCRATIC PARTY: To be honest with you
Lawrence it has been going on for a few months now. It have been a little
troubled with some of the extreme changes in the Republican party for quite
some time now. You know, the government shutdown was really, like I said
before, the straw that broke the camel`s back.
It`s a little bit disconcerting to see the radical changes in the --
so many of the extremists in the Republican Party has so much control to
steer in that direction. What I have found is that principally and
fundamentally, my beliefs are much more aligned with the Democratic Party.
Really, it`s the Republican party that let me.
O`DONNELL: And North Carolina has taken an extreme swing to the right
just this year.
THIGPEN: Absolutely. With such drastic changes in the voter
restriction law, the voter I.D. law, they call it, that clearly has so much
more to do with restricting and oppressing the right to vote for any North
Carolinian not to mention especially minorities Democrats, college students
or anyone else that they feel will vote against them and against the right
side of the Republican party.
It`s actually very sad because, you know, it doesn`t -- North
Carolina, if I`m not mistaken was ranked number 11 in the country for voter
turnout, you know. And that`s an extraordinary feat for the state of North
Carolina given it says free fin the past with voter suppression.
So, you know, what we want to do is we want to attract more voters but
we can`t do that by restricting their right to actually be able to vote.
What we want to do we want to get people educated and we want to get them
engaged. But we can`t do that by regulating them and telling them we don`t
want them to come out and we don`t want to give them a say so in who is
O`DONNELL: Now Jason, you`re running against a Republican who voted
against reopening the government, voted against increasing the debt ceiling
which had been a routine thing for this government to do whenever it was
necessary. And so, this is as kind of a dramatic contrast as I think you
could ask for t isn`t it?
THIGPEN: You know, I think you`re exactly right. And to be honest
with you, to go in there and expect the constituency to support any
representative that is going to go up to Washington and vote to shut the
government down is just deplorable, you know. I just can`t imagine what
the $24 billion lost in the economy that Americans will never see how many
Americans lost their jobs. And it`s really easy for U.S. congressman or
senator to make a vote like that to just shut the government down with the,
if you will, a burn it all down philosophy when they`re protected by the
27th amendment to the constitution. They`re going to get their paycheck,
either way, but what about my neighbors and what about their kids, what
about other families?
O`DONNELL: Jason, as a war veteran, you have faced much more
difficult things than a political campaign. So, I imagine this decision
was not the hardest thing you have ever had to do in your life I`m sure?
THIGPEN: It`s not been the hardest thing I have had to do. But to be
honest with you, I opened up my home here tonight to your show, to you and
to your crew. It has been absolutely wonderful. Because I have to tell
you, the Democratic Party has opened its arms and welcoming me and it`s
been so overwhelming and joyful and honorable for me and just heartening
for myself and my family and our neighbors to see such opportunity to
really be able to lead the constituents in our district and try to invoke
more change and opportunity for our community, our state and our country.
You know, when serving in the military, serving over in Iraq, we are
all standing there wearing the same uniform fighting in combat together.
So regardless of race, sex, religion, gay, lesbian, rich, poor, you know,
it doesn`t matter. We`re there to support one another and make sure etch
one gets home. So, we are there for one another. Why can we not continue
to have those same ideals when we get home.
O`DONNELL: Jason Thigpen, thank you very much for joining us tonight
in this exclusive interview.
Thank you, Jason.
THIGPEN: Thanks for having me.
O`DONNELL: MSNBC will continue to monitor the shooting situation in
Chris Hayes is up next.
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