updated 1/16/2014 1:05:30 PM ET 2014-01-16T18:05:30

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
January 15, 2014

Guests: Loretta Weinberg, Lou Greenwald, Jimmy LaSalvia; Marcus Mabry


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, Chris Christie`s donors are
worried. And the first national poll on Chris Christie since the bridge
scandal broke turns out to be very, very good news for Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the potential 2016 run hanging in the
balance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four in 10 voters say Christie is a bully.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chris Christie is in full crisis management
mode.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: We as a nation remain stuck in the news
traffic jam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Christie`s Jersey jam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Christie`s traffic jam.

STEWART: Come on!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chris Christie and the problems he`s had.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Simultaneously, he`s fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a good politician. He`s great at defending
himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Simultaneously, his political career could be
finished.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s the problem with Christie. It`s out of his
hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A week into this thing, where is Chris Christie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In terms of vetting, in terms of the Department
of Justice investigations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s got a long road ahead.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I have had no contact with David
Wildstein in a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we see that "Wall Street Journal" picture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The photo of Christie appearing to interact with
Wildstein.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very (INAUDIBLE) that the two of them were
together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On September 11th, 2013, the third day of the lane
closures themselves.

STEWART: Come on!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Subpoenas for key players come as early as
tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re going to be asked to testify, what`s going
to be his position then?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally, if you want to talk about salt in the
wound, there`s this.

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christie`s lifelong hero, the Boss, teamed up with
Jimmy Fallon last night in a parody that has to hurt.

(SINGING)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: That happened right here in this building last night.

Tonight, a new NBC News/Marist poll finds that Chris Christie has lost
his big selling point as the only Republican candidate who was ahead of
Hillary Clinton in some polls. In the new NBC News/Marist national poll,
it finds that if Chris Christie ran against Hillary Clinton for president,
she would crush him. Hillary Clinton holds a 13-point lead over Chris
Christie in that poll.

Just one month ago in the same poll, it was a statistical tie. With
Hillary Clinton only three points ahead of Christie, which is within the
margin of error of the poll.

Chris Christie plans to meet in Florida this weekend with potential
donors to his presidential campaign.

One of them, Stan Hubbard, a billionaire from Minnesota, told
"Politico" tonight, "He`s got a big problem, because perception is
everything. Perception is reality. I`m sure he`s an honorable, decent
guy, but I wonder, how the hell did he let this happen? I mean, who did he
hire? What kind of idiot? It`s just ridiculous, how stupid."

Today, Rush Limbaugh chided Republicans who still cling to the hope
that Chris Christie will be the next Republican nominee for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: I`m not convinced yet that Hillary is
going to be the nominee. But the thing that gets me here is that, we`re
going to go back to the same well, we`re going to go back another
Northeastern, moderate Republican who has tried to make his bones on the
basis of working with Democrats, cooperating with Democrats, crossing the
aisle, cooperating, bipartisanship, working together with government to get
things done. It just -- there`s no track record of that being a winning
formula for the Republicans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC.com executive director Richard
Wolffe, and "Washington Post" opinion writer Jonathan Capehart in
Washington.

Richard Wolffe, this poll showing a real shift towards Hillary Clinton
in that one-on-one race that many observers have been betting on as being
what the final nominees will be.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM: Particular erosion for Governor Christie
among independents, which is where, of course, most of these national races
are fought out. And that was his big calling card -- his idea that he
could reach out to these moderates, to people with loose party affiliation.

You know, in some cases, you can cherry pick a poll. Of course, it`s
a long time out. Most people say this hasn`t actually changed their
opinion, even though independents seem to be peeling off.

The challenge for Chris Christie is that many people don`t know about
the story. According to this poll, they haven`t even heard about it. And
if they haven`t heard about it, that means that`s exactly what his
opponents will do it comes election time.

They will remind people. They will break through and say there`s this
thing you don`t know about, this traffic jam for political retribution.
That`s where the damage lies.

O`DONNELL: And, in fact, funny you should mention that, coming up in
the show, I have actually written and produced an attack ad, a fake attack
ad that it looks very real, about exactly how they will do this. And,
Jonathan Capehart, it is amazingly easy in 30 seconds to take Chris
Christie`s words from that press conference the other day, wrap them into
an attack ad, which is what I have done. I`m going to show it later.

But what I think is really tough for Chris Christie this weekend.
He`s going down to Florida to talk to the big money guys and he`s going to
walk in there right after this poll.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, WASHINGTON POST: Yes. And he`s going to have to
answer their questions. I mean, can you imagine Mr. Hubbard not going up
to Governor Christie and asking him, the tenor and tone of that letter,
going up to the governor and saying what the hell happened? Who the hell
are these people, trying to get answers from them?

Because Christie is there to get money from them. And, you know,
while the governor is, you know, likes to, you know, tell people what to
do, maybe even bully them into doing what he wants them to do -- well,
these are the folks who can bully back to Governor Christie and say, you
know what, I don`t think I want to give to you or the Republican Governors
Association or your impending presidential campaign if you don`t give me
the answers.

O`DONNELL: And remember, Richard Wolffe, every one of these
billionaires down there lost money on the last presidential election. They
all bet on the loser before. So, they`re coming off a big loss, and those
questions that Hubbard was asking, they`re just basic businessman
questions.

WOLFFE: They are.

O`DONNELL: Every one of these billionaires can be brought down by the
people they`ve hired. Their businesses can be destroyed. They know that.
They can`t have any idiots around them like this.

They`re looking at Christie and seeing a complete failure in executive
capacity.

WOLFFE: Right. Remember his calling card, apart from being able to
reach out to Democrats, the ones he, of course, wasn`t trying to punish, is
about management experience, executive leadership and the other part of it
is inevitability. What ironically Hillary Clinton experienced in 2007 and
`08 is that once that is cracked, you cannot put the egg back together
again.

So, whether it`s management reputation or the idea that he`s the best
prospect to win, both of those are fundamentally challenged because of this
story.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, there`s some reporting out there now
indicating that some of the people in Florida wanted to cancel this event,
but Christie worked hard to keep it alive. He`s also been working the
phones to other Republican governors around the country, saying don`t
worry, this is going to be fine. It`s all going to calm down and I`ll be
able to run the Republican Governors Association without any problem.

So, we know what Chris Christie has been doing in his silence between
press conference and state of the state address. He has been trying to
hold on to what is left of his national infrastructure and reputation.

CAPEHART: Yes. He`s trying to hold it all together. I mean, he`s
the president of the -- or the leader of the Republican Governors
Association. This was supposed to be his big moment, coming in off of that
huge landslide victory for re-election going into the leadership of the --
running the Republican Governors Association, which was supposed to lead
neatly into a presumed 2016 presidential run for the Republican nomination,
and this bridgegate story has completely upended that. Not only has it
caused a crisis of confidence in his leadership as governor, but it`s now
caused a crisis of confidence, as we`re seeing from what we`re hearing from
billionaires who will be in Florida, a crisis in competence among the
people, the very people he`s going to need to help finance a Republican for
2016.

O`DONNELL: I want to show once again, I`ve shown it once again on the
program. I want to show what Rick Santorum said on "Meet the Press." A
couple of reasons. One is Rick Santorum is probably going to run against
Christie. Good chance of it.

And he makes this point about just how important personnel is in
governing. Let`s listen to what Santorum says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Personnel is policy. Even
the people that you hire are the policies that are implemented. And what
we`ve seen is two, three, four, I mean, there`s now more e-mails. I don`t
know how many more have come out that`s very clear that the personnel there
was not sensitive to -- what seemed to be a fairly obvious wrong thing to
do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: He`s just beginning to find his voice about how he talks
about this as an opponent to Christie. All of those candidates will get
much sharper at that. But that`s also a businessman`s analysis of the
Christie staff. And it couldn`t be more negative.

WOLFFE: Yes, it is. Remember, Rick Santorum hasn`t managed anything
bigger than a senator`s office, which is not inconsiderable, but it`s
certainly not like --

O`DONNELL: It`s 50 people if it`s a big state.

WOLFFE: Right. It`s not executive power, and that`s the argument
that`s going to be deployed against him as it was last time. You`re trying
to be CEO of a country and what you`re trying to run.

He`s already got the argument against something like Chris Christie.

Now, is that going to work against other governors who might run?
Probably not.

But Chris Christie could travel the same journey he could, saying
Pennsylvania is a purple state kind of. And New Jersey, he`s been able to
reach across the aisle. Santorum has the argument already, and we`re a
long, long way out from anyone really sharpening their claws and dig into
this one.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, it`s been a very good week for the
Clinton presidential campaign. She can just sit home and read the
newspapers and her numbers are going up against Chris Christie.

CAPEHART: Right. And in the two since -- the two polls that you
showed earlier, that`s an eight-point drop against Governor Christie. He`s
dropped eight points in a matchup against Secretary Clinton.

But again, as I think Richard said in his first answer, you know,
these polls are just a snapshot in time. These polls are going to go up
and down. And the moment Hillary Clinton makes a definitive answer or even
a clear hint that she`s going to run for president, guaranteed, her
standing will fall.

O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe and Jonathan Capehart, thank you both very
much for joining me tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the special committee to investigate what
roles, if any, these people played in the George Washington Bridge scandal,
will convene tomorrow. One of the members of that committee will join me
next.

And a LAST WORD exclusive, a founder of a gay and lesbian Republican
activist group joins me to say why he quit the Republican Party this week.

And why being the president of France is so much fun. It`s not just
that you get to have affairs. It`s what happens to you in the polls when
you do.

And in a very special "Rewrite" tonight, as I mentioned, I have
written a fake campaign ad against Chris Christie, the kind his Republican
opponents will hit him with on day one if he enters the campaign for
president.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: Listen, I have absolutely have nothing to hide and I have
not given instruction to anyone yet, but my instructions to everyone will
be to cooperate and answer questions.

Without a doubt, we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to
ensure that this breach of trust does not happen again.

ASSEMBLYMAN JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, he didn`t use the
word appropriate when he made his apology the other day. And today he
chose to use the word appropriate. I certainly hope he considers the
assembly committee an appropriate authority because we do consider
ourselves that. That`s our job, and we`re going to be asking questions and
we expect his cooperation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The speaker of the New Jersey assembly named 12 members of
the new special committee that will investigate what happened at the George
Washington Bridge. And who among Chris Christie and his staff knew about
it and when did they know about it.

That special committee, which consists of both Democrats and
Republicans, will officially convene tomorrow. They will be assisted by
Reid Schar, who has been hired as council to that committee. Reid Schar
was the lead investigator and one of the prosecutors in the corruption
trial and conviction of former Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich.

The bridge scandal has already cost four members of Chris Christie`s
team their jobs.

Joining me now is New Jersey Senate Democratic leader Loretta
Weinberg, who will lead the Senate`s investigation and assembly majority
leader, Lou Greenwald, one of the members of the assembly`s special
committee.

Senator Weinberg, I don`t get why you`re running two different
committees at the same time investigating this.

STATE SEN. LORETTA WEINBERG (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, actually, I would
have preferred that we join together into one committee, but we haven`t
been able to work that out at present time. So, since the chairperson of
the assembly committee, John Wisniewski, and I worked together for a number
of months on this issue, I`m very confident we`ll be working together over
the next few months.

O`DONNELL: I want to show a clip of the press conference, which I --
I thought this was one of the most important moments in the press
conference. And not a lot of people paid attention to it.

The governor is asked what he will do if he`s facing a subpoena. This
is after he said he will cooperate fully with all the investigations.
Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: If you were to get a subpoena for whatever reason, what
would you do?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I`m not going to speculate on
that. Matt?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Assemblyman Greenwald, there`s the governor saying if you
give me a subpoena, I might comply, I might not. Obviously, he`s going to
be very legalistic about it, and he doesn`t sound there like someone who`s
going to cooperate.

ASSEMBLYMAN LOU GREENWALD (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, look, I think
talking about sending a subpoena to the governor of the state of New Jersey
at this point, we`re getting way ahead of ourselves. I think what we`ve
done on the assembly side is a very deliberate yet swift approach to this.
We believe there needs to be a systematic and methodical approach to these
proceedings and these investigations.

And I think anyone who wants to test our resolve to get to the bottom
of this only needs to look at the attorney that we hired today in Reid
Schar. I think it says all it needs to about our determination to find
what was the root of this abuse of power and how deep it went.

O`DONNELL: Senator Weinberg, it`s inconceivable to me that these
investigations can proceed without some kind of subpoena requests being
delivered to the governor himself for phone records, for all sorts of
records that he would have, and ultimately, for his personal testimony.

How can these committees possibly do their work without asking the
governor what did you know?

WEINBERG: Well, I would assume that as information is ferreted out,
as subpoenas are answered, as we get documents, we could very well get to
that point.

But I don`t think, Lawrence, that we`re actually there yet. You know,
let me just talk about what I know, because I`ve been involved with this
since September. Since September 19th, when I wrote to the Port Authority
with a copy to Governor Christie and to, in fact, copy to David Sampson,
the chairperson of the Port Authority, asking questions four months ago.

I have yet to hear one answer, and what I find really surprising about
the governor is kind of this lack of curiosity about all of this. And
you`ve played some excerpts from various press conferences that he`s had.
But the one on December 2nd where he still talked about dedicated lanes,
that sauced (ph) him, something like that, everybody knows there are no
dedicated lanes to Fort Lee. That was a cover-up. I can`t think of a
nicer word to describe what took place.

So this is already four months old, of question, of committee
hearings, of subpoenas. No answers. And I just find it very peculiar that
not one Port Authority commissioner has ever said in the last four months,
boy, I would like to get to the bottom of this? You have what you outlined
in your chart, you have four very, very close Chris Christie allies who
either resigned under pressure or were fired.

This is one of the most bizarre incidents I have ever been involved
with or seen in all the years I`ve been in public service and in politics.

O`DONNELL: Should David Sampson, who hasn`t responded to you, resign?

WEINBERG: Well, I think David Sampson owes us an explanation. And
based upon his explanation, then I would make the next decision, but
certainly I appeared before three full Port Authority commission meetings.
They sat back, all of these men, sat -- they happened to be all male
commissioners, pardon me for a moment of chauvinism -- sat back, looked at
me like they were interested. I actually never heard their voices, except
to say the meeting is open and the meeting is now closed.

O`DONNELL: They never thought you could penetrate the Christie wall.

WEINBERG: Well, they didn`t know me very well.

O`DONNELL: Assemblyman Greenwald, will you be issuing subpoenas to
Bridget Anne Kelly and any others this week?

GREENWALD: We will be issues further subpoenas. The timing and the
dates of those and the order by which they will go out will be directed by
our counsel Reid Schar. Bridget Kelly is clearly, as is Mr. Stepien people
of interest that we will pursue and be very interested to have them come
before the committee and share their insight --

O`DONNELL: Assemblyman Greenwald, do you expect that strategically,
the subpoenas will work their way up the pyramid, starting kind with the
lower ranking people, moving towards the center of power?

GREENWALD: Lawrence, I think that`s exactly right. Again, I think
we`re going to take our advice from our counsel, but I think where we want
to go is based on the documents we`ve received already, the people that
have been identified and use that kind of as a jigsaw puzzle to start to
identify and clarify this picture.

With the redactions, that picture right now is unclear. We`ve asked
for complete clean copies of those documents which may obviously give us a
crystal clear picture.

I think as that starts to come in, it will identify really a road map
again to where this abuse of power began, how deep it goes and whether or
not it goes all the way up directly to the governor itself. Our position
is, we will follow the evidence wherever it goes, and however high that
goes.

But I think making sure that you do not overreach too soon is very
important in making sure that the investigation is done well, does not
infringe upon anybody`s constitutional rights, and ultimately results in
the outcome, which is to find again where that abuse began and whose idea
that was, who knew about it, and when they knew about it.

And the last thing, Lawrence, I would say is, I hear the governor`s
clip again that he`s encouraging his people to answer questions and
cooperate. It would be a big help if when they came before the committee,
they did not feel compelled to take the Fifth Amendment if they there`s a
sense of cooperation and help us find where the root of this abuse began.

O`DONNELL: I`ve got to tell you -- I admire both of you and your
restraint about this, as you should be, since you`re part of the
investigation. It`s very clear to me that Chris Christie wanted Wildstein
to take the Fifth Amendment the other day. That Chris Christie would be in
a worse place today if he didn`t. And I don`t believe him for one second
when he says he wants all his people to cooperate.

But I can say that and you shouldn`t. Thank you both very much for
joining me tonight. New Jersey Senate Democratic leader, Loretta Weinberg,
and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald -- again, thank you both for joining me
tonight.

WEINBERG: Thank you, Lawrence.

GREENWALD: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, in his press conference the other day, Chris
Christie didn`t know it, but he was writing the attack ads that his
opponents will use against him when he runs for president. You and maybe
Chris Christie will be amazed to see how easy it is to campaign against him
using his own words.

And next, THE LAST WORD exclusive: the founder of after gay and
lesbian Republican group says he`s not a Republican anymore. He will join
me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: The Supreme Court said this was a
matter for the states to decide, and I know our court a few years ago, the
Supreme Court had said they didn`t impart -- basically, they didn`t see any
biological evidence to support marriage being between a man and a woman
and, you know, they need some basic plumbing lessons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jimmy LaSalvia doesn`t want to be in the same political
party as guys who say things like that. Jimmy LaSalvia is the founder of
Go Proud, the conservative activist group of gay and lesbian Republicans.
On Monday, Jimmy LaSalvia posted this on his blog.

I just can`t bring myself to carry the Republican label any longer.
You see, I just don`t agree with the big government conservatives who run
the party now. The other reason I am leaving is the tolerance of bigotry
in the GOP. The current leadership lacks the courage to stand up to it.
I`m not sure they ever will. I have worked hard to help create an
atmosphere on the right where conservatives can openly support gay
Americans, and even support same-sex marriage. In that effort, we have
won. But there is more work to do to root out the anti-gay and other forms
of bigotry in the party. So I changed my voter registration today, no
party.

Joining me now in a "Last Word" exclusive is co-founder and former
executive director of Go Proud, Jimmy LaSalvia.

Jimmy, thank you very, very much for joining us tonight. And you
know, we out here on the other side watching gay Republicans over the last
few years. I have just wondered how you can bear what you`ve born within
that party. And I just want to show one clip of a moment during the
Republican presidential primaries, during those debates. And I want to get
your reaction to what you were feeling when you saw this. Let`s watch
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 2010, when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie
about who I was because I`m a gay soldier. I didn`t want to lose my job.
My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent
the progress that`s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?

(BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jimmy, what were you feeling when your party was booing?

JIMMY LASALVIA, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GO PROUD: Well, Lawrence,
I was there that night in Florida when that question was asked. And I
certainly reacted strongly. And like most Americans thought about my gay
friends and family who were serving in the military at that time. At that
time, having to be in the closet or excuse me, no, that was after don`t ask
don`t tell was repealed.

But at that time, it was something that hit home for me. But I have
to tell you, you know, you asked me how could I do it? The reason I did it
for so long is because the grassroots of the conservative movement, the
activists in the grassroots aren`t that way. And my friends in the
conservative movement have always been accepting and supportive of me and
other gay Americans.

It`s frankly the leadership that`s out of touch. The leadership of
the Republican Party is so out of touch they don`t even know how their own
base feels. And they`re so beholden and paralyzed by the fear of backlash
from the forces of intolerance on the right that they tolerate moments such
as that or others.

I mean, more recently, you had Republican national committee man in
Michigan, he has had many anti-gay rants, and just recently an anti-Muslim
rant on Facebook that`s gone uncommented on and not denounced by the
chairman.

And there`s just so many examples of times when leadership of the
Republican Party has tolerated bigotry that it`s just unacceptable in 2014.
And I came to realize that the Republican Party just doesn`t represent my
principles and values. And I`m not alone, you know, 42 percent of the
Americans identify as independents and now I`m one of them. I`m in the new
majority of people who don`t feel represented by either party. And, you
know, I still care about our country and I want to work with that 42
percent to make our country better. And I just happened to do it as a
Republican.

O`DONNELL: Jimmy, you`ve been in real political strategy discussions.
What do you think is Reince Priebus` calculation in allowing, if not
steering his party in this anti-gay bigoted direction.

LASALVIA: Well, honestly, I think chairman Priebus intellectually
knows that bigotry in the party is detrimental to winning elections. He
knows that it`s causing people to turn away from the Republicans. But you
know, he just doesn`t have a backbone to stand up to them.

I mean, there are forces on the right who make their living demonizing
gay people, and chairman Priebus doesn`t have the backbone to stand up to
them.

You know, here`s the thing, too many in leadership in the Republican
Party have counted on a small sliver of voters as their count-on voters
every election. And they`re so afraid of giving up those people that they
don`t realize how many multitudes of others they`re turning off by
kowtowing to them.

O`DONNELL: Jimmy LaSalvia, founder of Go Proud. Thank you very much
for joining us tonight, Jimmy. And enjoy your new political independence.

LASALVIA: I love the freedom, thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, what happens when the president gets caught leading a
rendezvous with a much younger woman not his wife? Well, in the United
States, we would go into full scale scandal coverage, and someone would be
mentioning impeachment within the first five minutes. In France, the
French president would just ask the French people to respect his privacy
and that is exactly what the French people are doing this week while the
president calmly considers promoting his second lady to first lady. That`s
coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Chris Christie has already written the attack ads that his
opponents will use against him when he runs for president. I actually took
some of Chris Christie`s own words from his press conference last week and
produced a perfectly respectable fake attack ad against Chris Christie
which I will show you in tonight`s rewrite. You are not going to believe
how easy it is to do this. And yes, you can try it at home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do wonder if this had happened in Nevada would
it have gotten much attention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Tom Brokaw this morning on Chuck Todd`s show
making the point that if some obscure governor has caused a traffic jam or
his staff had caused a traffic jam by redirecting traffic at a bridge we
never heard of, the national media wouldn`t be spending quite as much time
on that scandal as we have devoted to what Chris Christie`s team was up to
at the George Washington bridge. In fact, we probably wouldn`t be spending
any time on that version of the scandal.

But the Christie version involves not just any bridge. It involves
arguably the most important bridge in the world and definitely the busiest
bridge in the world. And that bridge touches on one end, the capital city
of the American news media. Indeed, a significant chunk of the national
news media uses that bridge to get to work every day. So you are tampering
with their bridge when you tamper with the George Washington Bridge. And
Chris Christie is not Butch Otter.

Who`s Butch Otter? Butch Otter is the governor of Idaho who I`m sure
you`ve all heard of, but I had never heard of until today when I went
searching for the name of a governor I had never heard of just to help make
this point. And the point is that Chris Christie is politically and only
politically the most important in America. Which I guess from the American
perspective, of course, makes him the most politically important governor
in the world.

I actually think Jerry Brown and Andrew Cuomo are way more important
governors because they govern bigger, more important states than New Jersey
with, of course, bigger budgets than New Jersey. But politically, Chris
Christie is our most important governor because he has been regarded by
most of the news media as a clear front-runner, if not the front-runner for
the next Republican presidential nomination.

When you combine the most important bridge in the world with the
politically most important governor in the world, you get the most
important traffic jam in the world. And so yes, the national news media is
on this case. Big time. And we`re going to stay on the case. And no one
is enjoying watching Chris Christie squirm more than Republicans.
Specifically, these Republicans who hope to be the next Republican nominee
for president. If Chris Christie enters the race for president against
these guys, they are going to hit him with attack ads on day one. They
will use Chris Christie`s own words against him.

Now, I`m going to show you an example of how easy it is to do that. I
wrote this commercial while Chris Christie was actually still doing his
press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of president would Chris Christie be?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I delegate enormous authority to
my staff and enormous authority to my cabinet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could we trust President Christie`s staff and
cabinet?

CHRISTIE: I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of
the people on my team.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chris Christie embarrassed and humiliated New
Jersey. Don`t let Chris Christie embarrass and humiliate America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And Christie`s Republican opponents for the presidential
nomination will keep that kind of ad coming every day. They`re very easy
to write, because Christie has written those ads for them with that press
conference.

I mean, I wrote that ad in a few minutes. So, just sitting there
listening to him, just grabbed those quotes and wrote it. You can do this
at home. It`s easy. Just take lines from Christie`s press conference and
wrap them in voiceovers about Christie`s inability to manage his staff and
what that would mean if he was in the White House, if he was picking the
attorney general, if he was picking the director of the IRS.

Here are just some of the lines that you can use in writing these
kinds of commercials. These work perfectly well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: The fact is that mistakes were made and I`m responsible for
those mistakes. I am heartbroken that someone who I permitted to be in
that circle of trust for the last five years betrayed my trust. I believed
that if I look someone in the eye who I worked with and trusted and asked
them, that I would get an honest answer. Maybe that was naive, but that`s
what I believed.

I`m sad. I`m sad. That`s the predominant emotion I feel right now.
Is sadness. Sadness that I was betrayed by a member of my staff, sadness
that I had people who I entrusted with important jobs, who acted completely
and inappropriately. A person who I counted on and trusted for five years
betrayed me. A person who I gave a high government office to betrayed me.

Listen, all I can do is apologizes for the conduct of people who
worked for me. I have absolutely nothing to hide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Absolutely nothing to hide. Yes. Butch Otter has a
better chance of becoming president of the United States than Chris
Christie does.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you ready to invite you to (INAUDIBLE)
school as soon as possible in order the uplift a very serious miss
reputation made the French foreign ministry about the neighborhood of
(INAUDIBLE) and that attained where was I in (INAUDIBLE).

Specifically, they are asking (INAUDIBLE) that French foreign ministry
of (INAUDIBLE) of our communities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Erika Hudson, a senior at Dorchester`s academy
asking the French general council in Boston in November of last year to
visit her school to explain why the French government was warning French
citizens to stay away from my old neighborhood in Boston. Foot traffic at
night should be avoided in the neighborhood of Dorchester. That was the
French government`s warning.

Today, the French council did visit (INAUDIBLE) academy and listen to
students` stories about their neighborhood and why French tourists should
come and visit.

Up next, more from France in tonight`s episode of all the president`s
women.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, have you been having an affair with
Helen Baldwin while here at the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s asking because --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I should hit you in the face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s asking because --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know why he`s asking. I know why he`s asking.
I understand why you`re here. I`ve spoken with C.J. Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Such is the agony of life in the bubble of American
politics when a man is just a man. But French politics is a much less
agonizing bubble when it comes to affairs anyway, unless you are the
current French first lady who was reportedly admitted to the hospital to be
treated for shock upon learning, along with the rest of France, that the
president is seeing another woman.

The president himself is in no trouble at all as a result of this.
The first lady is not actually the president`s wife. She is just his first
lady. They have never married, as all of France knows, long before
Francois Holland ran for president, his relationship with his current first
lady began when he was in a 23-year relationship with the mother of his
four children whom, of course, he never married.

Six hundred journalists showed up for the president`s news conference
on the economy yesterday, 600, Jay Carney, count them. And most of them
were actually interested in the economy.

But the recent revelation that the president was seeing another woman
did come up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANCOIS HOLLAND, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: For those of you who are living below the Canadian border
who didn`t get all of that, what he said was everyone in his personal life
can go through difficult periods. This is the case for us. These are
painful moments. But I have one principle, private matters should be dealt
with privately.

Joining me now, MSNBC`s Krystal Ball and Marcus Mabry, editor-at-large
for "the New York Times" who was based in Paris for several years.

Krystal, that`s my motto. Private matters should be dealt with
privately. What a country? Talk about an advanced civilization. We are,
I think, 300 years behind them on this.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Yes. Well, I disagree with
part of that.

O`DONNELL: I thought you might.

BALL: Well, here is the piece of a guy --

O`DONNELL: You old fashioned married ladies. I thought you might.

BALL: So, 77 percent of French voters say it should be a private
affair. So they very much agree with the president here.

O`DONNELL: I am so French.

BALL: Deeply interested in this story, buying the magazines and
chewing over all the details, But in terms of their already bad opinion of
the president, it`s not really changing that.

I actually think we`re a bit further along in America than you give us
credit for. If you think about the fact that Mark Sanford had an affair,
it was more of a problem because he lied about where he was. He was
governor at the time, no one could find him. There was an abuse of state
resources, his wife was someone who was known and beloved in the state.
And people forgave him in this deeply conservative southern state and
reelected him. So, I actually think that we are a bit further along than
maybe you think.

O`DONNELL: So South Carolina is Frencher than we think.

BALL: Frencher than we think. Frencher than they think as well.

O`DONNELL: Marcus, the French media broke the rules here. They
chased the guy around, kind of Gary (INAUDIBLE) as was done in 1988 against
(INAUDIBLE). And they took pictures of him coming out of the rendezvous
spot with the younger woman, who happens to be an actress.

MARCUS MABRY, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Who was young
enough to be his daughter. There is nothing surprising about this story as
all, except for there`s interest in this story in France. It is an old
story in France. This is normal. This is to be expected. This is what
married people are even in this case cohabitating people do.

It`s very dramatic, very, you know, Valerie Trierweiler, the partner
of the president who literally seen in to the hospital from a broken heart.
(INAUDIBLE) I must be in the hospital, I can`t believe this happened to me.
She`s a total drama queen. She wasn`t like in France at all before this
happened. She`s a journalist. Journalists can`t stand her because it
feels like when she became first lady of France, she said there`s no
problem with me keeping my job as a journalist. There is no conflict of
interest.

In France, all these things are terribly normal. The French thinking
is it`s very puritan cal puritanical like Americans, as they always say,
actually care about a marital affair. They say, in fact, it`s immature to
not have a marital affair because one person can`t give you everything in
the world. So, if you have a long term relationship, you may lose
something aside to give you (INAUDIBLE).

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, I have no question. I`m still just
delighting in all of that.

BALL: So. I remember when Bill Clinton had his issue, right? The
message that came very much from Europe and from France in particular was,
what`s the big deal? We don`t understand what all the fuss is all about.

Now, I`m interested, Marcus, from your perspective because it seems to
me, like I was saying, it`s not changing their opinion of the president.
They don`t think that this is an important matter. They don`t think it`s a
matter that should really bear on whether or not he`s doing a good job as a
president. But they are still very interested in the details because
they`re human and it`s sex and it`s famous people and it is funny details
about the helmet he warns the apartment. All of that, they`re still
interested in. But they separate that from the job that we had.

O`DONNELL: The helmet meaning motorcycle helmet? I just want to get
all the terms clarified.

Marcus, the first lady had a very un-French reaction to this. French
women don`t go into shock over these discoveries normally.

MABRY: No. Normally, you expect a reaction for reason that the
couple might be for the wife to have her own affair. That might be more
normal. This is very abnormal what Valerie is doing. And, in fact, I
think, you know, the only political effect it has so far for Holland is
that his score, his popularity amongst French women has actually increased
because he was seen as such a horrible dweeb. He was one of the most
unpopular French presidents in history.

BALL: And seen as indecisive.

O`DONNELL: Absolutely. This makes him look virile. So, actually
people, especially French women are reacting positively to this.

BALL: So, that was a long time ago.

MABRY: He might have higher numbers if he wasn`t such a dweeb with
that motorcycle helmet on that he used his bodyguard for a little
motorcycle (INAUDIBLE) to her house which is very close to the palace. And
he was recognized by the reporters by the shoes he was wearing which are
kind of old shoes.

O`DONNELL: Shoes. Marcus Mabry gets tonight`s last word. I want you
to get every night`s last word. I want to talk about this every night,
this is fantastic. Krystal Ball and Marcus Mabry, thank you both very much
for joining me tonight, and Chris Hayes is up next.

END

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