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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

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June 11, 2014

Guest: Jamie Radtke, Ted Strickland, Ken Strasma, Cliff Schecter



REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: While I will not be on the ballot in
November, I will be a champion for conservatives across the nation.

I am going to leave the political analysis to y`all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A seismic shift is being felt on Capitol Hill this

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shocking, stunning, seismic defeat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last night`s political earthquake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of what many are calling one of the most stunning
upsets in modern political history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eric Cantor is out.

CANTOR: Effective July 31st, I will be stepping down as majority leader.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans are facing a leadership vacuum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it a huge shock? Any one who saw it coming is
completely lying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The shock waves extend far beyond Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does Eric Cantor go from heir apparent to the
speakership to this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Power resides where men believe it resides.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is more drama to come here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was the demise of the Tea Party overstated?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I always get asked, if you lose, are you going to run
as a third party?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republican Party is the Tea Party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only people running as third party is the
Republican establishment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel we are seeing the beginning of Republican spin

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s called closing ranks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The party is as strong as it ever has been and things
are going to be just fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Power resides where men believe it resides.

CANTOR: The differences that we may have are slight. Conservatives have

House Republicans do get things done. We get a lot done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well played, my Lord Hand.


MELBER: Good evening. I`m Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.

It is out with the old for Republicans in Washington today, and maybe in
with the old. Eric Cantor`s surprising lost left a vacancy for the GOP`s
number two slot. We know that. And a dramatic private meeting of House
Republicans today, Speaker Boehner reportedly cried and paid tribute to his

But there are signs we are seeing tonight that Republicans are sticking to
the leadership team that was so roundly rejected by their base voters just
last night. And we are going to have more in a minute with Steve Schmidt
and Richard Wolffe, who are with us tonight.

But, first, we have a special in the view from the heart of the action in
Virginia. That is where radio host, Laura Ingraham, had been campaigning
for Dave Brat. And she took a victory lap today.


LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO HOST: This was a seismic shift that took all of the
establishment figures by surprise -- the establishment media, the
establishment punditry, the establishment political class. All of them
were broadsided by this victory of Dave Brat`s.


MELBER: We begin tonight with the Tea Party activist who says she wasn`t
broadsided by the victory.

Jaime Radtke campaigned for Dave Brat. She chairs the Tea Party Patriots
in Virginia and ran her own primary challenge against Virginia`s former GOP
Senator George Allen in 2012.

You are in Richmond. We are in New York. Welcome.

JAMIE RADTKE, DAVE BRAT VOLUNTEER: Thank you. I appreciate it.

MELBER: Absolutely. Exciting to have you here, especially given, as I
say, right in the center of this.

Let me ask you your view -- was this primary about conservative activists
winning or the GOP establishment losing?

RADTKE: Well, I think it was equally both. Honestly. I mean, there was a
lot of concerns the grassroots here in the seventh district that had a
problem with Eric Cantor, really going on five years. This has been
building if you were not here you wouldn`t have tapped into it. But it was
a movement of the grassroots that has been going on, frankly, for four or
five years, we have been laying the ground work. And then, it was a big
blow for party leadership and for the establishment and the consultant
class that want to keep a stranglehold on a party that frankly doesn`t
belong to them.

MELBER: Yes, and you were out working your precinct. Put up a tweet
saying this was yesterday, worked my precinct for five hours so far. An
overwhelming majority are Brat supporters. And also on social media and
online, where a lot of conservatives have been communicating and
organizing, you put up a list of some of the reasons you say Cantor lost
here, that he first of all lost touch. That radio and social media are
connecting conservatives in new ways. That he supported what you called
corporate handouts to fat cats, and TARP, the Patriot Act, while there`s a
strong candidate in opposition.

Walk us through how you measure that against the role of immigration which
some of your Republican friends in Washington say was the issue.

RADTKE: Yes, I mean, everyone wants to make the race about immigration,
because frankly the only time national media decided to pick up on the race
when they wanted to talk immigration issue. It certainly was a factor.
But it was not the determining factor by any stretch of the imagination.

People were very frustrated with how Cantor had been legislating. They
were frustrated by how he was not communicating to his district. He hadn`t
held a town hall in five years. And the spending, the debt, stock act.
All these things were sort of culminating into one perfect storm. And
then, of course, we had Cantor, spend $5 million to raise, raise the name
idea of our candidate, which also helped tremendously.

MELBER: You seemed to having that -- you have that winner`s smile about
that. It was remarkable for students of politics to be outspent 25 to one
and win, is remarkable whatever you think of either candidate.

But then you look at what`s happening today. Reports that in response to
this primary, John Boehner is actually going to seek another term as
speaker. How do you feel about that?

RADTKE: Well, you know it is interesting to me that Washington, D.C. has a
hard time getting the message. The one thing that I heard over and over
again at the polls, it sound really cliche. But people would come to the
polls, and they say, I`ve always voted for Eric Cantor, but we`ve got to
send Washington, D.C. a message. We`ve got to send a shot across the bow.

People are really frustrated. They want to have control of their
government again. And they don`t wanted to be about, you know, the
consultants, and the politicians, and the special interests.

MELBER: Sure. So, Jamie, what do you think? Should Boehner and McCarthy
here, who are part of the old guard, should they be in leadership again?

RADTKE: No! I think that Boehner needs to go. I think he needs to step
down. I think that the conservatives in the House caucus need to find the
courage to run somebody and nominate a strong conservative.

In the past what we heard from them is we don`t think we can do it. We
can`t take on the majority leader. We can`t take on the House speaker.
That`s too big of a Goliath to take on. But I think, we here, that the
normal grassroots in the seventh district showed it is possible to take
down Goliath. They need to do the same thing up in Washington, D.C.

MELBER: Well, Jamie Radtke, I know you have been on the ground working
there. I think some people, maybe not GOP leadership, but some people are
paying more attention to what some of these organizers are doing. Thanks
for joining us tonight.

RADTKE: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

MELBER: Absolutely. Now, we have Eric Cantor, talking about his loss,
what it meant. Let`s take a listen to that.


CANTOR: What divide us as conservatives from the left and their Democratic
Party. I hope that all Republicans will put minor differences aside and
help elect a Republican House and Senate. I would say about the Tea Party
-- remember what the acronym means, Taxed Enough Already. All of us
Republicans believe in that.

I believe what we have in common as Republicans is a tremendous amount of
commitment to a better and smaller government and greater opportunity and
growth for everybody. And the differences that we may have are slight and
pale in comparison to the differences that we have with the left.


MELBER: Now, right there, you can hear Eric Cantor`s delusion today. The
notion that it was slight and pale set of differences that animated the
first primary loss of a sitting majority leader in American history is not
only factually absurd, it makes him sound silly when he`s addressing a
roomful of politicos who know better.

Sometimes losing provides clarity, freedom even. For Mr. Cantor, a man who
outspent his opponent, as we`ve been reporting 25-1, and while at Tuesday
morning at the D.C. Starbuck with lobbyists, because his victory was so
assured. If he achieved any clarity thus far, he is keeping it to himself.

So, we turn to others to break it down.

Steve Schmidt and Richard Wolffe, good evening.

Richard, Eric Cantor didn`t make a cogent case for anything today. Now, he
did just lose. We don`t want to pile on. But talk to us about his message
and what we just heard from the ground in Virginia from Jaime Radtke?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM: Well, I think his message was maybe geared
toward those lobbyists that he had been contacting before.

Look, his value, continuing, moving forward really rests on the idea that
the future leadership will be close to him and his future leadership is
going to be close to him if he can somehow bind two parts of the party

That speech could have been given by someone who`s trying to bind the party
together for his own sake, if he was running for re-election. Clearly, he
was not doing that. But the extent that he can influence, as an outsider
maybe, as an informed outsider, the new leadership, that will emerge out of
this from the House Republican side. That`s going to rely on him getting
support from conservatives, for people like Kevin McCarthy.

MELBER: Right, and imagining a unity, Steve, where one does not exist.
And we just heard from Jamie there in Virginia. She doesn`t think Speaker
Boehner should not take heart from this, which is what we`re hearing in
reports. That he wants more time in charge after last night.

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, this is a shocking outcome.
Not one person who expected to see this happen.

But I think it is part of the phenomenon you are seeing happen frankly all
over the world. You see in United Kingdom and France, where you have
conservative populist movements that are rising, where people fed up with
the elites are beginning to assert themselves at the ballot box.

So, the result here what happens when you get a 13 percent turnout in the
primary. That made the defeat possible.

But the message that I think is very interesting in this, is that he`s one
of the first candidates to take on the big banks, to take on Wall Street.
It is a Republicans frequently go criticize big media, big labor, big
government. But they leave out the other big institutions that a lot of
the American people have a lot of problems with.

I think that that is a -- important dynamic to understand for 2016, because
there is certainly, seems to me, room for a populist candidate in this race
who is going to be very much messaged like, we saw the candidate who`d be
center left.

MELBER: Yes. You`re hitting on something, where a lot of people in
Washington thought Eric Cantor was the Tea Party whipping boy. But a lot
of these grassroots activists thought he was the Chamber of Commerce`s
whipping boy, which is discussed today between, Brat, the victor and, Laura

Let`s take a listen to that.


INGRAHAM: I just got the sense that people are look fed up with the --
with the Republican Party, especially Cantor, that spend so much of his
political capital in the last really in the year and a half, pushing this
immigration reform issue. He was pushing it and pushing it and pushing it,
and the people were like, what are you going to do for me?

so, Eric Cantor, epitomized the leadership up in D.C. ran against, I said
in my stance (ph), Eric Cantor does whatever the Chamber of Commerce wants,
right? So, what do they want? They want Obamacare, so the people pick up
the tab. And big business is exempted.

They want amnesty that gives them cheap labor. But everyone in our (AUDIO
GAP) what goes along with cheap labor, low wages and unemployment. We have
vets coming back. They can`t get jobs. We got -- just, disaster, every
federal program, insolvent. Medicare, Social Security, and the leadership
won`t talk about those things that affect everyday people on a daily basis.


MELBER: Richard, there`s a lot of ideas being mushed together there. But
it certainly reflects what Steve is talking about, which is a type of
right-wing populism that`s dubious of the leadership of the banks who had a
stranglehold on the party.

WOLFFE: Yes, the (INAUDIBLE) all institutions, and that will let share
(ph) between the right and the left. When you have a Congress that
consistently has single digit approval ratings, this is the result. But
it`s also a result of a Republican Party that believes in extremism, and
believes that extremism can win.

In the small, you know, gerrymandered districts, you can actually gain
election this way. You cannot replicate that on the statewide level and
it`s even harder on the national level.

So, normally, a party that loses at the biggest state, national level,
would go through a period of introspection and reconfiguration in a way
Cantor was trying to do that.


WOLFFE: But if extremism wins. And we just saw it win last night.
Extremists will believe they have the answer to all the problems, that is
being more ideologically pure.

MELBER: Right. And here, the redistricting, Cantor approved an addition
of rural areas in the 2010 redistricting that actually contributed to this
loss, as best we can tell, which is just an interesting political side

But, Steve, also to Richard`s point, what does it mean itch the reaction
here to this is to put up new faces of the Republican Party in the House
that are just like the old faces. We know that they are unpopular and we
know that the base, as we just heard tonight here in the LAST WORD, the
base says, oh, you`re still not listening.

SCHMIDT: Look, the House majority, such as it is, there is no policies,
there`s no agenda, there`s no articulation of conservative principles,
about helping, 100 percent of the American people. They`re just totally --
an oppositional blocking force.

So, in the absence of an actual agenda, becomes very easy for you to be
defined. But what I think is so remarkable about this, is the notion that
the Chamber of Commerce has now become an epithet in Republican primaries.
It`s just extraordinary. The disconnect between the foundational
institutions of the party, that have always been -- you know from the --
from the beginning of the modern political era, just been deeply attached
to the Republican Party, now become liabilities in the eyes of these
grassroots voters.

And, certainly, if you`ve remember Congress tonight. You understand if
Eric Cantor could go down, any member of Congress in the Republican Party
could go down in any primary on any given night.

MELBER: Absolutely.

WOLFFE: A hundred percent.

MELBER: We are out of time. Steve Schmidt and Richard Wolffe, thank you
both for being here on a big night for politics. Another major driver of
the story was data.

Why was Cantor`s data so bad? And why haven`t Republicans, caught up to
the Obama campaign`s legendary targeting technology. We have a LAST WORD
exclusive tonight. The man who helped build that famous e-mail list that
elected Obama, the president`s national targeting director is here to
explain why Virginia`s loss may be the Democrat`s gain in November. And
President Obama took questions about student loans.

But it was a question about school shootings and gun control that shook up
the room this week. And tonight, we`ll also return to the continued debate
over the Taliban prison swap. Why the secretary of defense had to speak
out today about attempts to shame Bowe Bergdahl`s parents, and anti-Muslim
smears and hint -- it has to do with Bill O`Reilly. Iraq vet and former
congressman, Patrick Murphy, will be here.


MELBER: Senator Ted Cruz has announced he believes he is no longer a
Canadian citizen. He told "The Dallas Morning News" yesterday that he`s
received the final paperwork that will separate him from his home country`s
universal health care.

Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta to an American mother and Cuban father.
And apparently, he was, he says, surprised to learn just last year that he
was actually a dual citizen. This would mean that according to his
understand of everything, he is a lawyer, he is eligible now to be
president. Let`s all digest that.

Now, up next, we`re going to talk about the numbers that could add up to a
Democratic win in the midterms.


MELBER: You may have heard Eric Cantor was overconfident about winning
yesterday. But how overconfident?

Well, instead of campaigning in his district on election day like -- well,
like almost all candidates everywhere, he spent the morning at a fund-
raising meeting with lobbyists in a Capitol Hill Starbucks. Now, "The
Washington Post" reports, quote, "Over coffee, Cantor assured the group of
20 or so that he would win. He had spent heavily, he told them with the
intention of getting a big margin so he would show no seen of weakness."

Cantor`s confidence was not only bad instinct to be fair. It was also a
product of bad data. His campaign employed a pollster that had him up by
34 points shortly before the election, 34 points.

Now, for plotting campaign strategy, you are better off with no numbers,
literally none than those kind of bad numbers. And this isn`t the first
time some of the top candidates in the GOP have had a numeracy problem.


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: You are standing by your prediction of a Romney

DICK MORRIS: Absolutely. Romney will win this election by five to ten
points in the popular vote, and will carry more than 300 electoral votes.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: All right. What they`re saying is, that if
substantially more Republicans turn out to vote in Ohio on Election Day
which they traditionally do. They`re going to win Ohio and you`re going to

Chris, we`ll know in two days, who is bluffing and who is not bluffing.
They can spin it any way they want. What I`m looking at is cold, hard,


MELBER: Cold, hard, data.

And here`s why this matters more now. Before this election, that happened
yesterday, many Republicans based their strategy on an incorrect reading of
the numbers. Now, after this upset election it`s not automatic that they
will be any better at reading the numbers they didn`t see coming.
Meanwhile, some of President Obama`s data gurus say there is peril in some
Virginia results, whether they can see it or not.

Joining me now for an exclusive interview tonight is the 2008, Obama
campaign national targeting director, Ken Strasma, and co-chair of the
Obama re-elect campaign, former governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland.

Good evening, gentlemen.



MELBER: Ken, let me start with that point. Why did Republicans misread
this and many other experts as well? And more importantly, with your
experience here on the Obama campaign, what numbers do you think reflect
positive signs for the Democrats and the midterms?

STRASMA: Well, the odd thing, the Republican polling both the polling in
Virginia, and polling showing Romney going to win in 2012, were correct
reflections of what they thought the electorate was going to be. They were
grossly just wrong about who was going to turn out.

So, in a low turnout election with 65,000 votes cast, the increased
enthusiasm among the Tea Party base, what was enough to -- enough to do in
Cantor. If you asked people how likely they are to vote this November,
about 80 percent of the population, they`re going to vote. Obviously,
that`s an exaggerated number.

But for comparison purposes, people who strongly approve of the Tea Party,
92 percent say they`re going to vote. If you ask people how enthusiastic
are they, more than in previous elections, you will see, about 54 percent
of the electorate at large say they`re more enthusiastic, compared to 77
percent of Tea Party supporters. So, that enthusiasm gap in a low turnout
primary can really help.

Now, that`s not enough off to win in the general election. Where, swing
voters are turned off by Tea Party extremism. There is about 11 percent of
swing voters say they`re more likely to vote for a candidate who aligns
closely with the Tea Party, that`s compared to 54 percent, an actual
majority, who say they`re less likely to vote for a candidate who allies
themselves with the Tea Party.

MELBER: Right. So, Governor Strickland, when you think about that as the
numerical bottom line, of some of the costs of the Tea Party. And that`s
before they get into this period they`re in now where it looks look they
really are taking over, which for folks who are predisposed to dislike,
that may be even scarier.

STRICKLAND: Well, the Republican Party has created its own monster. And
now, they`re suffering the consequences. They are reaping what they have
sown. They have encouraged this extreme ideology over a period of years.
They have caved in to the demands of the most conservative radical people
within their element, you know in their ranks, and now, they are fearful of
the force, balls it is overtaking them.

And if it can overtake Eric Cantor, it can overtake any Republican. If I
was a Republican moderate conservative, if there is such a thing these
days. I would be apprehensive about what may happen come November.

MELBER: Ken, you also said that some of your, your firms` numbers that you
have right now that you have been surveying show that -- not as many people
actually want to make the midterms an anti-President Obama priority as we
would have seen in some of the primaries.

STRASMA: That`s correct. The majority of voters say that midterm
elections are about the candidates running in their specific district.
That`s very different from people who are strong Tea Party supporters who
by wide margin do want to be a referendum on President Obama.

MELBER: And how does that compare to other times when we have had someone
in running, basically end of the second term, we know is usually a harder

STRASMA: Well, I think the best parallel is -- is, with the President
Clinton, the midterm of the second term. People make a referendum on
President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, and that backfired disastrously for
the right wing of the Republican Party.

MELBER: And, Governor Strickland, as someone who`s been involved in the
Obama campaign, and also just out-campaigning for yourself, when you look
at this kind of data and this problem on the right, which I think is
reinforced by some of the media, we just some played clips of that, that is
against the interest of those candidates, right?

I mean, it would have behooved Eric Cantor to know he might have wanted to
make a campaign stop for the campaign he was about to lose as opposed to
what is now futile fundraising at D.C. Starbucks.

STRICKLAND: Sure. Well, the leadership of the party I think has caved in
to the extreme elements. And as I said before, those elements are now
dissatisfied with him.

The Tea Party and leadership of the Republican party have bad mouthed
government for so long, everybody associated with government is bad. And -
- some, some feel are concluding that that includes them, if you beat up on
government. If you say everything the government does is wrong and
negative and government is corrupt, and so on. Eventually, some of that
mud gets splattered upon yourself.

And I think that`s what happened to Eric Cantor. He has been a soldier for
the Tea Party crowd. Not realizing that it was going to come back and bite

And so, I think there`s a real danger. If the Republican Party doesn`t get
ahold of this and doesn`t bring this, internal -- conflict to some kind of
resolution, I think the Republican Party will end up a regional party at
best. Will never win another national election until they deal with this -
- this, this toxic element within it that turns off the majority of the
American people, but has this incredibly loyal intense following that gets
involved in the primaries.

MELBER: Yes. Let me go to ken. Is there a data answer to this debate
that is going on in Washington whether this was abut immigration incumbency
or something else?

STRASMA: I have to admit, immigration wasn`t one of the questions we were

MELBER: So, what does that tell us?

STRASMA: To the extent it was an issue. It was very much under the radar.
My gut on this is it resonated because it fit with all of the doubts that
people had about Cantor. People, you know, in political campaigns, like to
use the phrase, Dukakis in the tank moment.

MELBER: Right.

STRASMA: The famous picture of Mike Dukakis riding a tank. There`s
nothing really wrong with that picture. But fit with the perception that
Republicans were trying off to paint of Mike Dukakis.

MELBER: That is interesting. It was not only a red hot issue, which it
was for some. But it also fit this idea of him as a sellout. Said he was
the Tea Party`s puppet. But if they could have a true believer or teammate
they would take that over a puppet and they`re willing to swap him out. I
mean an interesting take on it.

Ken Strasma, former Governor Ted Strickland, thank you both for joining me

And coming up, the president`s off the cuff rinse to a question about those
terrible school shootings. An exceptional speech, we are going to play it,
because you should hear it.



GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: You know what I think would make it prettier,
is if it had a made in Texas bumper sticker on it.


MELBER: Texas Governor Rick Perry wants Tesla to come to Texas, the man
from oil country is competing against a handful of states for a new Tesla
battery plant. That would bring in $5 billion potentially and 6,500 jobs
to the state. But there is a bit of a wrinkle here for Perry. Currently,
it is actually illegal for Tesla to have a dealership and sell its cars in
Texas. Buyers must visit a gallery, but they can`t discuss pricing or
purchasing options can`t get a test drive of one of the nice cars. But
that didn`t deter Perry who is in California today meeting with Republican
lawmakers. He drove to the state`s capital city in a metallic silver four-
door Tesla model. That`s how you know it is macho. And tweeted he also
out this. Quote "the only way to make this car faster is to make it in
Texas, cc, Teslamotor.

Up next, America`s gun problem and what the president had to say about it.


MELBER: In the spotlight tonight, America`s gun problem. Yesterday
morning, a 15-year-old student opened fire at Reynolds high school in
Troutdale, Oregon injuring a teacher and killing a fellow student before
turning the gun on himself. The victim was a 14-year-old freshman, Emilio
Huffman. Police praised the heroic action of the teacher who was able to
initiate lockdown procedure after being shot, allowing police to engage
with the shooter who was heavily armed.


rifle in the attack and carried but did not use a semiautomatic handgun.
Investigators have also recovered nine loaded magazines with a capability
of holding several hundred rounds. The shooter obtained the weapons from
his family home. The weapons had been secured but he defeated the security


MELBER: This tragedy in Oregon, the 74th incident of some kind of shots
being fired on school ground since the Sandy Hook massacre on December
14th, 2012.

And you can see here on this map, these shootings occur all over the
country, in elementary schools, high schools, and in college campuses.
There have been 37 gun related incidents on school ground this year. And
this year of course is just about half over as we enter the summer.

Now an event at the White House yesterday which was not about guns,
President Obama said America`s inability to take any action to curb gun
violence, specifically the mass shootings that we have been seeing is the
greatest frustration of his presidency.


far is the fact that this society has not been willing to take some basic
steps to -- to keep guns out of the hands of -- of people who can, you
know, can do just unbelievable damage. We are the only society -- we are
the only developed country on earth where this happens. And it happens now
once a week.

A couple of decades ago, Australia had a mass shooting similar to columbine
or Newtown. And Australia just said, well that`s it. We`re not doing,
we`re not seeing that again. And basically, imposed very severe, tough,
gun laws and they haven`t had a mass shooting since.

I mean our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There is no advanced
developed country on earth that would put with this. We have a second
amendment. We have historically respected gun rights. I respect gun
rights. But the idea that for example we couldn`t even get a background
check bill in to make sure that if you are going to buy a weapon you have
to actually go through a fairly rigorous process so we know who you are so
you can`t just walk up to a store and buy a semiautomatic weapon. It makes
no sense.

And I will tell you that I have been in Washington for a while now. And
most things don`t surprise me. The fact that, that 20, 6-year-olds were
gunned down in the most violent fashion possible and this town couldn`t do
anything about it was stunning to me.

The bottom line is that we don`t have enough tools right now to really make
as big of a dent as we need to. And most members of Congress, and I have
to say to some degree this is bipartisan, are terrified of the NRA. The
combination of, you know the NRA and gun manufacturers are very well
financed. And have the capacity to move votes in local elections and
congressional elections.

A lot of people will say that, you know, well this is a mental health
problem, not a gun problem. The United States -- does not have a monopoly
on crazy people. It is not the only country that has psychosis. And yet
we kill each other in these in these mass shootings at rates that are
exponentially higher than any place else.

This is becoming the norm. And we take it for granted in ways that -- as a
parent are terrifying to me. And I, I am prepared to work with anybody
including responsible sportsmen and gun owners to craft some, some
solutions. But right now it is not even possible to get the mildest
restrictions through congress. And we should be ashamed of that.


MELBER: We will talk with gun control advocate and daily beast columnist
Cliff Schecter about all of this next. He is the author of the recent
column detailing how quote "the NRA has created a monster."



OBAMA: The fact that 20, 6-year-olds were gunned down in the most violent
fashion possible and this town couldn`t do anything about it was stunning
to me.


MELBER: Joining me "Daily Beast" columnist and gun control advocate Cliff

Good evening, Cliff.


MELBER: I`m good. It`s good to see you. You and I know that a lot of
times there are prepared speeches and prepared remarks in politics. This
wasn`t that. This was one of the online chats with Tumblr, the president
asked about youth, student issues, student loans. This came up and you
saw. We just played a lot of his heartfelt thoughts there. What did you
make of them?

SCHECTER: You know, I made of them a few things. First of all as a father
myself of young boys. He has young girls. And I believe totally it is
heartfelt. I mean, you know when you start watching this, you brought up
some of the figures before, 74 shootings just at schools. We are not
talking about the other shootings since Newtown. So now talking one a

If you have got kids, you know and you are hearing this stuff. And some of
these, there was a big shooting, where a man shot his family in Florida
this weekend. It wasn`t covered. Because he couldn`t make it within Las
Vegas, and Oregon, and, you know, this is an epidemic. He smart low
brought up Australia. A country that, you know, a lot of people on the
right try to use excuses. Australia like us was a frontier country with a
lot of guns. They decided after their massacre in 1996, things were going
to be different. They had 11 massacres in ten years. They have had none
since. We know how to do this. We can do it. We have let the NRA and
those on the far right, and yes, a couple blue dog Democrats block us from
doing what we know we can do.

MELBER: No. The president says it. You have written about it. The
international comparison is so relevant because it goes to us understanding
what kind of crisis is this, and is this another unavoidable or entirely
avoidable ? And if it is the latter, if we can do something about it. You
talk about our children being gunned down and we should. It is not a joke,
but there was a joke in the onion that captured this perfectly. It had an
article with a simple headline. No way to prevent this -- says only nation
where this regularly happens. Cliff?

SCHECTER: Right. You are right it is not a joke, and yet, you sometimes
need the (INAUDIBLE) onion. Because it is so ridiculous to say, we can`t
do anything about it here.

Again, every country had this problem. They had this happen in (INAUDIBLE)
in Scotland, Australia, Canada, and other countries have passed common
sense laws. The president brought up background checks. You know, would
seem after a number of mass shootings, in Aurora, you know, in the variety
of other place, the Sikh temple, and others that you know, it just common
sense to say we are not going to allow someone to have 100 bullet drum
magazine. That makes no sense. Assault rifles.

There is many things we can do, if you look at it as a public health
problem, the way we did second-hand smoke, the way we did drunk driving,
you can get it that way.

MELBER: No. I mean, drunk driving is an important example. Because again
you had mothers against drunk driving, you had this parental piece to go up
against some of the groups in the powerful entities, NRA obviously being
the one here. This is what a father of a slain boy recently, Richard
Martinez said. Take a listen.


Chris died because of craven irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They
talk about gun rights, what about Chris` right to live? When will this
insanity stop? When will enough people say stop this madness, we don`t
have to live like this! Too many have died. We should say to ourselves,
not one more!


MELBER: A lot of people have been repeating that. Not one more.

SCHECTER: Yes, it`s become, you know, a very popular thing to say because,
there should not be one more. And again, what he is saying is so
important. You know, the constitution talks about, you know, our
government being responsible for domestic tranquility. It talks about it
being responsible for the general welfare.

If I can`t bring my kids to malls and worry about them at schools, you
know, somebody`s gun rights, rights by the way, even in, by far the most
conservative interpretation by the Scalia court and Heller decision. Even
he didn`t grant that we can`t regulate guns, and have background checks,
ban exotic weapons as he put it, such as assault rifles, you know, and stop
concealed carry, you know, and regulate that. So, it is important to know
there is a lot we can do. We just need to make sure we will not give into
the organization anymore.

MELBER: Cliff Schecter, thanks for your work on this and thanks for
joining us tonight.

SCHECTER: Thank you for having me on, Ari.

MELBER: And coming up, when defense secretary Chuck Hagel criticized those
who have unfairly gone after Bowe Bergdahl`s parents, who do you think he
was talking about?



CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: In the decision to rescue Sergeant
Bergdahl, we complied with the law and we did what we believed was in the
best interest of our country, our military and Sergeant Bergdahl. The
president has constitutional responsibilities and constitutional
authorities to protect American citizens and members of our armed forces.
That`s what he did.


MELBER: That was secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, at a house hearing
today defending the president against criticism of the Taliban prisoner

Now up next, what the secretary of defense had to say about conservatives
smearing the Bergdahl family.


MELBER: Former POW Bowe Bergdahl and his family have been attacked before.
Even made it from a hospital where he is recuperating back here to U.S.
soil. Now, some of the attacks have been against any Americans who believe
in religious freedom.

And today, Secretary Hagel spoke out against that.


HAGEL: Like most Americans I have been offended and disappointed in how
the Bergdahl family has been treated by some in this country. No family
deserves this. I hope there will be some sober reflection on people`s
conduct regarding this issue and how it relates to the Bergdahl family.


MELBER: Secretary Hagel did not name the most famous person peddling this
line of attack, but he didn`t need to. FOX News` Bill O`Reilly has
famously and repeatedly singled out Bergdahl`s father who grew out his
beard in solidarity with his son during his capture. But O`Reilly insists
that Mr. Bergdahl appears Muslim, whatever that means or suppose to mean
and that he is sympathetic to the Muslim religion.


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Robert Bergdahl, the father, who is also
engendering some controversy. He has learned to speak Pashto, the language
of the Taliban, and looks like a Muslim. He is also somewhat sympathetic
to Muslim actually thanking Allah right in front of the president.

Now, the reason I said Robert Bergdahl looked like a Muslim is that he
looks like a Muslim. I said that Robert Bergdahl looked like a Muslim when
he appeared at the oval -- at the White House with President Obama. A, he
absolutely looked like a Muslim.


MELBER: That is the definition of profiling. Mr. O`Reilly, I said the
definition of profiling because it is the definition of profiling. Bill
O`Reilly here is taking something that doesn`t require defending holding a
religious belief whatever it may be and making it sound incriminating.
This is the same line of innuendo that dogged Barack Obama`s first
campaign, if he was a Muslim or secret Muslim or a secret Muslim canyon.
And these kind of attacks rest on a very un-American premise. That people
who are different are very likely disloyal.

Also tonight, we can report there was a new press conference about threats
to the Bergdahl family.


attacked a good intention of our community members, as they supported the
Bergdahl family in their attempt to get their son back from captivity.
Very sadly it has come done to the Bergdahl family receiving personal
threats and several other members of our community receiving personal

It is simply unfair to terrorize good-hearted Americans who have supported
a family who has only proven to their son what many of us parents often say
to our children -- our love. A parent`s love is unconditional. Bob and
Jani Bergdahl have proven this with their word and deeds for five long
years and our community supports them.

What the Bergdahl family has always wanted and what our community has
supported them with was to see a native son return unharmed from a conflict
zone on the other side of the world. We ask them not to direct misguided
rage on the Bergdahl family and good citizens of this community.


MELBER: Misguided rage. Joining me now is the first Iraq War veteran
elected to Congress, former congressman, Patrick Murphy.

Good evening. What is going on here?

PATRICK MURPHY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Bill O`Reilly Muslim hunter, Ari. I
mean, this guy has no problem attacking military family. He is going after
the Duck Dynasty guys. But he says, Bob Bergdahl, who is devout
Presbyterian, by the way, he is a Muslim because he is growing out a beard.

Let`s be very clear. The third largest religion in America, it is
Christianity, Judaism, and then Islam. There are 2.6 million Muslims in
America. Bill O`Reilly doesn`t understand the whole foundation of our
country. We are a nation of immigrants. We are a melting pot.

MELBER: And Congressman, he is not, for the sake of being factual here in
the news program. But if they were a Muslim, who cares. And when you
serve in your view as a soldier and a veteran, would it matter if a father
or a soldier or a veteran or veteran`s family member was Muslim in the
first place?

MURPHY: No, not at all. I mean, this, we had paratroopers, 82nd airborne
division in Baghdad 10 years ago that were Muslim. We actually had ones
that were, had their green card they weren`t American citizens yet. They
were earning their citizenship. And let me tell you, they were just as
much of an American citizen as Bill O`Reilly, in fact, better. Because
they are putting it all on the line, foreign nation. And to see these
attacks against the military family, Ari, it is just wrong. He knows it.
He is just playing for the crowd.

MELBER: And let me ask you also while I have you here, because I know you
were a JAG lawyer, what do you think about the other more serious part of
the criticism here which is that the administration aired not provide
knowing notice. On the other hand, under the commander in-chief power in
the constitution, there is a clear legal argument they can do this and
notify after?

MURPHY: That`s right. You are right there. Congress declares war,
article 1, section 8, congressional powers. Article 2, the president
executes the powers given to him by Congress including being commander-in-
chief. And, Congress gave him the authority to execute obviously in
Afghanistan. The president consulted with Congress twice in 2011 and 2012.
He doesn`t have to go back and ask permission.

He consulted with them. Time was of the essence. And the president acted
appropriately to bring one of our soldiers home. We leave no one behind in
the military. It was the right call. Now, whether or not Bowe deserted or
not, let`s have investigation that justifies its course. But we do not
ouster American justice to the Taliban. We bring our men and women home.

MELBER: Strong words from a Iraq war veteran Congressman Patrick Murphy.
And he gets -- you the "Last word" tonight. Thank you very much.


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