THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
July 9, 2014
Guest: Marielena Hincapie, David Rohde, Evan Alvarez; Fabian Cousteau
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. And thanks for
that report earlier about Republican site selection for their conventions.
I had no idea that they were jinxing whatever they put their events in
RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: Yes, Democrats should feel much better
about Ohio now that Republicans are going to have their convention there.
It`s a jinx.
O`DONNELL: Just an amazing string of facts. Thank you very much,
MADDOW: Thank you. Cheers, man.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Tonight, in Texas, the president said that there are more border
patrol agents and surveillance resources at our southern border than at any
time in our history, but the president and Texas Governor Rick Perry agree
that is not enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A high profile visit to Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama`s in Dallas, Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Texas, the frontline in America`s immigration
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just had a good meeting
with Governor Perry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of his chief antagonists.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s stepping into a political quagmire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republicans are blasting the administration for
their decision to go to Texas, but not to the border.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: He`s not visiting the border. He`s not
visiting the children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is disingenuous nonsense.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The real issue is that Republicans are standing in
the way of meaningful immigration reform.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: And if you look at
the president`s request.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The point that Obama just laid out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: $3.7 billion in emergency funds to deal with the
BOEHNER: We`ve got to do something about sealing the border.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than half goes to border security.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Obama said, we are a nation with
borders that must be enforced.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And tightening that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fastest way to stem the crisis for Congress to
pass that emergency bill.
OBAMA: Congress just needs to pass the supplemental.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need this emergency supplemental.
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: It`s time for them to stop talking and start
OBAMA: Let`s just get that done. Let`s do the work.
O`DONNELL: Air Force One delivered the president to Dallas-Ft. Worth
airport late this his afternoon where he was greeted by Governor Rick
Perry. The president and the governor then boarded the helicopter Marine
One for the short hop to another smaller Dallas airport, Love Field named
for the World War I pilot Moss L. Love.
It was on the presidential helicopter that the president and the
governor had their much anticipated one-on-one meeting, which President
Obama called constructive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: So, the bottom line is, actually, that there`s nothing that
the governor indicated he`d like to see that I have a philosophical
objection to. But what emphasized to the governor was, the problem is not
a major disagreement around the actions that could be helpful in dealing
with the problem. The challenge is, is Congress prepared to act to put the
resources in place to get this done?
Another way of putting it, and I said this directly to the governor
is, are folks more interested in politics or are they more interested in
solving the problem?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: At Love Field, the president and the governor took their
seats at a larger meeting with local government leaders and religious
leaders. After that meeting, the president took a few questions from
reporters and if you bet that the first question was, why haven`t you
visited the border, Mr. President? You win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: There are increasing calls not just from Republicans but
also from some Democrats for you to visit the border during this trip. Can
you explain why you didn`t do that and do you see any legitimate reason for
you to actually do that at some point, or do you think those calls are more
about politics than anything else?
OBAMA: You know, Jeh Johnson has now visited, at my direction, the
border five times. He`s gone for a sixth this week. He then comes back
and reports to me extensively on everything that`s taking place.
So, there`s nothing that is taking place down there that I am not
intimately aware of and briefed on.
This isn`t theater. This is a problem. I`m not interested in photo-
ops, I`m interested in solving a problem.
And those who say I should visit the border, when you ask them what
would we be doing? They`re giving us suggestions that are embodied in
legislation that I`ve already sent to Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president said he told Governor Perry that if the
Texas congressional delegation supports the president`s emergency
legislation to add enforcement resources to the southern border, that bill
would easily pass Congress.
Governor Perry urged the president to consider his executive action
instead of seeking congressional approval.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: As I indicated to Governor Perry, he suggested maybe you
just need to go ahead and act and that might convince Republicans that they
should go ahead and pass the supplemental. And I had to remind him, I`m
getting sued right now by Mr. Boehner apparently for acting instead of
going through Congress.
Well, here`s a good test case. This is something you say is
important, as I do. This is an area that you have prioritized, as I have.
No way for me to take executive actions if when you have the capacity right
now to go ahead and get something done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Marielena Hincapie, the executive
director of the National Immigration Law Center, and MSNBC.com executive
director, Richard Wolf.
Marielena, what did you hear the president said tonight that gives you
encouragement about what the possibilities are now going forward?
MARIELENA HINCAPIE, NATL IMMIGRATION LAW CENTER EXEC. DIR.: Thanks
for the invitation, Lawrence. Great to have you back.
So, I -- what I heard from the president is that there`s a need for a
solution, that it`s time to act now. And one of the things that concerns
us the most is this issue has been so politicized.
And what we`re forgetting as a country is that this -- we`re talking
about children. We`re talking about 3, 5, 7-year-olds that are making a
perilous journey across the desert to come to the United States, because
they`re fleeing persecution and murder, violence, gang violence. And we
really need to make sure that our policymakers, including the president,
are seeking solutions, comprehensive solutions, that deal with the root
causes in Central America, as well as ensuring that we are using our legal
system to come up with a compassionate, fair, and due process solution that
assures these children have their protections, their rights protected.
O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, the Rick Perry issue, a statement with a
list of things that he recommended to the president, most of which the
president has already said he`s in favor of. And in the president`s
statement, he said he`s not philosophically opposed to anything from Rick
Perry, including the possibility of the National Guard on the border. Rick
Perry statement, he says he wants a thousand. That`s for over a 2,000 mile
So, that -- the effectiveness of that I think is highly debatable.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM: Well, of course, it already is militarized
already. Maybe you can increase a little bit here or there. You can move
some of the border patrol closer to the border as the governor wants. But
in the end, you do have a political dance going on here.
The president saying I don`t want people to play politics, but I would
like you, Governor Perry, to play some politics with the Texas Republican
delegation, which could move the House for me. So, could you play that
politics for me? At the same time, I`m not prepared to do the politics oh
of a photo-op because I think that`s stupid, but I`m prepared to do the
politics of the press conference here at Love Field.
There`s a dance going on, and as Marielena points out, the dance is
fine if it weren`t for the fact that you`ve got hundreds if not thousands
of families putting themselves at risk, as we speak.
O`DONNELL: And, Marielena, the Rick Perry statement actually does
refer to this as a humanitarian crisis, and that`s a phrase that a lot of
Republicans steer away from. And Rick Perry himself has a history with
this subject that`s caused him problems in the Republican Party.
Let`s watch this moment that I think we`ll all remember from Rick
Perry as a presidential -- Republican presidential debater.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: If you say that we should not educate
children who have come into our state for no other reason than they`ve been
brought there, by no fault of their own, I don`t think you have a heart.
We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on
our society. I think that`s what Texans wanted to do. Out of 181 members
of the Texas legislature, when this issue came up, only four dissenting
votes. This was a state issue. Texans voted on it, and I still support it
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Santorum --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And, Marielena, the boos eventually one out in the
Republican crowd there. You don`t see Rick Perry or hear Rick Perry now
saying he wants to speak from the heart as he does here. He says, I don`t
think you have a heart if you don`t see it his way.
But he didn`t jump out in some sharp, angry disagreement with the
HINCAPIE: Right. And I think it`s hopefully because Rick Perry, like
even Glenn Beck understands we`re talking about children, that this can`t
be politicized. And, unfortunately, we do see both the president and many
Republicans trying to appease an extreme wing of that party rather than
really trying to find a comprehensive solution to this problem.
So, hopefully, Rick Perry has learned his lessons on immigration.
And, you know, we know he has his own presidential aspirations again.
O`DONNELL: Richard, I thought it was a deft move by the president
tonight to publicly, simply say to Rick Perry, get the Texas legislation to
vote on this. Virtually, all of the spending we`re talking about that the
president wants would be in Texas. And that was the kind of thing that
congressional delegation used to get behind very quickly.
WOLFFE: And, virtually, all Republicans support this measure, and
support comprehensive reform, and they don`t buy the argument that the
president is not going to enforce any of the border patrols that they all
want so much.
So, from a political point of view, whether it`s bringing dollars to
your state or making your own base happy, it would be much more sensible
for Rick Perry to get behind this and for the Texas Republican delegation
to get behind this. You have a very peculiar political dynamic not just
about immigration, but clearly about this president and immigration, which
means all common sense is thrown out of the window, and that means
humanitarian feelings as well.
That`s not healthy for anyone, and most of all, it`s not healthy for
the people who put their kids at risk.
O`DONNELL: Now, to stick with the Republican talking points, Rick
Perry`s list of what the president should do tonight begins with this. The
president should go to the border. That`s issue number one. The president
should go to the border and take a look at what`s really -- witness the
Texas-Mexico border to witness firsthand the impact of the border crisis.
Marielena, when you see Washington, the politics of Washington fixated
and the Washington media fixated on the question of, should the president
visit the border and Republicans insisting that he absolutely must visit
the border, and even some Democrats in the Texas delegation saying he
should visit the border, what is your reaction to all that talk about the
president going to the border?
HINCAPIE: Look, Lawrence, one thing I do agree with the president on,
this isn`t about a photo-op. He is being briefed by Secretary Johnson and
his team about what is happening on the border every single day.
But on the one hand, you can`t simply get briefed. I mean, for the
president to go to the border, it would transform him. I have no doubt
that if he sat there and talked to a 5 or 7-year-old child and looked them
in their eyes he would think twice about trying to deport them quickly back
to their persecutors or back to violence. So, that is one piece of it.
On the other hand, this isn`t again about a photo-op. This isn`t
about politics. It`s -- we have to be acting efficiently and quickly and
swiftly to make sure that these children get the protections they need
under our current legal system and that funding is provided to agencies
like the Health and Human Services to provide the basic necessities these
O`DONNELL: Richard, quickly, you`ve studied inside the Obama White
House and how they make decisions. What about this decision resisting
going to the border, is it because it feels forced on him politically at
the moment and maybe it`s something he`ll do later when it doesn`t seem
forced on him?
WOLFFE: Yes. There`s a clue you can see right there on his lapel,
which is a rehashing of this entire debate, you know, seven, eight years
ago. That flag pin right there, he stubbornly said, I`m not going to do
this, I don`t need to do this, this is a stupid move, what does it mean?
I`m a patriot. I don`t need to prove this. I don`t need to do what
Right now, it`s really hard to see this president in any situation
without lapel pin. I suspect he has it on his pajamas.
Now, inside the White House, they`ll be saying, you should do it, we
understand why you don`t need to do it, but yesterday, I`m not talking
about the pool, I think every man should play pool, as much as they like,
but he has a pizza with a bunch of people. He could have invited to the
White House, he chose not to do that, because some photo-ops are good, and
some photo ops are bad. If you make him do it, it`s bad.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s the awkward (INAUDIBLE), this president, just
like all presidents and politicians, does an awful lot of photo-ops, and a
lot of empty photo-ops, and so it`s hard to say, you know, I`m too busy to
do some particular photo-op.
But I agree with Marielena, I think if we were really to go there and
look on the other side of the border, the southern side of that border, to
what these people are working through, I mean, just look at the 10 miles
south of that border, what they have to cross before they get to that
fence, I think that`s a perspective that would be invaluable to the
Richard Wolffe and Marielena Hincapie, thank you very much, both of
you, for joining me tonight.
WOLFFE: Thank you.
HINCAPIE: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Congress held another hearing about poverty
today, and the strangest possible thing happened at that hearing, the
strangest thing that could happen at a congressional hearing about poverty.
An actual poor person testified. That`s in tonight`s "Rewrite."
And what would it take for you to switch political parties? If you`re
a Democrat, what would it take to turn you into a Republican? If you were
a Republican, what would it take to turn you into a Democrat? Well, the
head of a college Republican group will tell us why he was a Republican
last week and why he`s a Democrat now.
O`DONNELL: A new poll by "The Huffington Post" and YouGov asks, would
Jesus support universal health care? Eighty percent of Democrats say yes,
52 percent of independents say yes, and 23 percent of Republicans say yes.
Then the question, would Jesus support high taxes on the wealthy? Sixty-
three percent of Democrats say yes, 43 percent of independents say yes, and
18 percent of Republicans say yes.
Jesus actually had something to say about taxation according to his
Apostle Paul, who gave us this version of Jesus` thoughts about taxes.
This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of
God devoting themselves to this very thing. Pay to all their due. Taxes
to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is
due. Honor to whom honor is due.
Jesus issued no warning about higher taxes hurting our precious job
Coming up, in our summer -- in summertime, our gaze often turns to the
ocean and many of you worry about what lies beneath, especially since
Steven Spielberg sent you into a shark panic 39 years ago. Jacque
Cousteau`s grandson will join us to help us understand what`s down there
after he spent 31 days under water.
O`DONNELL: The Palestinian health ministry tells NBC News that 60
Palestinians have been killed since fighting between Israel and Hamas began
Monday night. "Reuters" reports that of those killed in Gaza, 45 were
civilians, including 12 children. No Israelis have been reported killed.
An Israeli defense spokesman confirmed that over 600 targets in Gaza
have been hit since the beginning of the operations, while approximately
230 rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized the Israeli army
to activate up to 40,000 reservist for a possible ground attack and said on
Twitter today, "the operation will be expanded and will continue until the
firing at our communities stops and quiet is restored."
It`s the heaviest fighting between Israel and Hamas since 2012.
Israel credits its defense system known as the Iron Dome for its success in
defending these attacks.
Earlier today, Andrea Mitchell questioned the Israeli ambassador about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: What is the endgame? Because this is
asymmetric. You have Iron Dome provided in part by the United States. You
have air defenses against these rockets. So far they`ve worked. In Gaza,
How do you take out Hamas` long-range rockets, rather, and take out
the Hamas leaders or the suspects without killing women and children?
RON DERMER, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, it is asymmetric,
Andrea. But it`s not asymmetric for a different reason. It`s not
asymmetric because we have the capability to defend ourselves. What makes
it asymmetric is that we are facing an enemy, a terrorist organization,
Hamas, committed to Israel`s destruction, that`s fired thousands of rockets
at Israel, they deliberately target our civilians.
(END VIDEO CLI)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Steve Clemons, an MSNBC contributor and
the Washington editor at large for "The Atlantic Magazine" and David Rohde,
a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for "Reuters".
David, two "Reuters" reports today indicate this disproportionate
casualty count on the Palestinian side as opposed to the Israeli side here.
There`s Andrea Mitchell trying to point out the asymmetry of that to the
Israeli ambassador, which he will not accept at all and tries to then
suggest that the asymmetry is the other way.
What -- is there any form of balance that can be achieved here going
forward from where they are now?
DAVID ROHDE, REUTERS: It`s very hard to say there will be. It`s --
all politics is local, and for Israelis, they`re saying they want to see
more of these attacks in the Gaza, and they don`t see an equivalency to
problem for Israel --
O`DONNELL: I mean, Israeli voters when you say Israelis.
O`DONNELL: That the Israeli public is actually, according to the
polls, pushing the leadership on this one.
ROHDE: Yes, they want more attacks. They want decisively battle that
will wipe out Hamas from Gaza, whether that`s possible is debatable. And
then, you know, Hamas is frankly happy to have these high casualty numbers.
They`re really appealing not to the U.S., but to the European public,
saying, look, there`s 45 civilians dead they`re claiming and no Israelis.
This is what happened in 2008. There were 1,400 Palestinians killed
in Gaza, and roughly 15 Israelis. That was the last ground incursion.
So, it`s a very difficult situation, but both sides have lots of
political pressure to keep at it.
O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, the -- how long can Hamas keep at it under
STEVE CLEMONS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they can go at it for a long
time. I`ve talked to Hamas officials before who, during times of great
stress, have said, look, Israel can`t destroy a nation. And they, as David
just said, thrive off of this in a sense that they appear more legitimate
in the eyes of Palestinian citizens than their partners, Fatah and others
for taking these actions.
And so, you`ve got both sides, the Israelis engaged in something that
looks like massive retaliation, and Hamas, in a very asymmetric way, using
what they have to basically escalate and neither side can really back down.
But I think this could go on for a very long time.
O`DONNELL: David, does the Israeli leadership recognize the problem
with the way they run these attacks? Yes, they are effective and score
many more kills than the other side does. But they serve the external
information interest of Hamas.
ROHDE: I think again, the domestic dynamic overrides this broader
problem, how it`s perceived internationally. And it`s a coalition
government, there`s pressure on Netanyahu from sort of right wing parties
to punish Hamas. Israelis have a right to live without fear of these
So, I think they see it. But, again, you know, it`s more important
for Netanyahu to tell his voters, I will crush Hamas. I will not allow
these rocket attacks to continue. And what`s very dangerous here, what to
watch is the West Bank. Will there be wide scale protests in the West
In the past, Fatah has kept the West Bank calm when there`s clashes in
Gaza, but there`s talk again, and it`s been said before, but it could
happen this time of a third intifada in both the West Bank and Gaza.
O`DONNELL: And, Steve, what should, what can Secretary Kerry and
President Obama be doing at this point?
CLEMONS: Well, I think, on one hand, they should be trying to get the
Israeli government to ratchet down the rhetoric. It`s very unfortunate,
the horrible situation of three young Israeli boys that were kidnapped and
killed. Then, a Palestinian boy was kidnapped and murdered and burned to
And in that, when Prime Minister Netanyahu talked, he said the blood
of these boys will be avenged. So, when you`re in a culture like this,
where it`s so easy to trip forward into an escalatory spiral, I think it`s
very important for John Kerry, Barack Obama, European leaders and others to
caution them to show restraint. This is the time when people need to
muster up some magnanimity, to reach across the aisle, to talk to each
other, it`s time for religious leaders and civil society leaders, to show
that this is not the future they want. And you`ve got radical minorities
on both sides of this equation that are ruining the lives and aspirations
of people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.
O`DONNELL: David, if the president was able to convince Israeli
leaders to ratchet it down, and at this point, just say enough is enough,
and kind of declare victory and stop it here, would Hamas consider that a
ROHDE: They might. I mean, they`re getting lots of support here.
They have longer range missiles. They`re now, you know, able to fire 100
miles into Israel itself. But they would consider that a victory.
But even if Obama did get some peace process to start again, it`s very
clear from this last effort by John Kerry that Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas
do not trust each other. They`re not two leaders either side that are
willing to make historic compromises for their own reasons, legitimate or
not. This is just again very dangerous dynamic that seems to be getting
O`DONNELL: David Rohde and Steve Clemons, thank you both for joining
CLEMONS: Thank you.
ROHDE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a political activist who was a Republican
activist last week and is a Democrat now. He`s going to join me next.
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, a stolen election that was the
last straw. That`s what tea party challenger Chris McDaniel calls his
recent loss to Mississippi Republican senator Thad Cochran. McDaniel
continues to dream of somehow reversing the results of that Republican
primary election. The McDaniel campaign claims they have found what they
call thousands of voting irregularities.
And today, a real irregularity was revealed by gotnews.com which broke
the story that Senator Cochran`s FEC report shows $53,000 in cash going to
one staffer on the Cochran campaign. The Cochran campaign tried to shrug
off the revelation today with campaign advisers, Austin Barbers, saying our
treasurer screwed up. We are fixing it right now. People screw up FEC
reports all the time.
That`s true. People do screw up FEC reports all the time. And it`s
also true that people illegally use campaign funds all the time. And the
FEC has never been, and will never be given the resources by Congress to
adequately investigate the possible illegal use of money in congressional
This is just the latest turn in a campaign that turned off some
Republican voters. For Evan Alvarez, the chairman of the Mississippi
federation of college Republicans, it was the last straw.
Last week, Chairman Alvarez submitted his resignation. He did not
just resign from his chairmanship of Mississippi federation of college
Republicans, he changed parties. Evan Alvarez is now a Democrat.
Joining me now for an exclusive interview is Evan Alvarez. He`ll be a
senior at Mississippi State this fall.
Evan, I imagine -- I`ve watched people change parties, including when
I worked in the Senate. I watched a democratic senator Richard Shelby in
Alabama go from Democrat to Republican. I know it wasn`t overnight. I
know it wasn`t one thing. It takes at least months and months and in some
cases it takes years and years. When did your road out of the Republican
Party begin, do you think?
EVAN ALVAREZ, FORMER CHAIRMAN, MISSISSIPPI FEDERATION FOR COLLEGE
REPUBLICANS: Thanks for having me on.
It began when about last fall, I was taking some courses at
Mississippi State University in public policy and civil liberty. And I
really got to do research on the issues that matter to the nation and
issues that matter to the people. And I got to look at it from my own
perspective. And instead of just say, OK, here`s a platform by a party
that, you know, I have allegiance to, I will actually make my own choice.
And when I decided to make my own opinions on those issues, they really
didn`t line up with the GOP and they more so lined up with the Democratic
Party. It was more or less about me saying -- doing research on the
subjects and drawing my own opinion instead of just blatantly coming out
and saying I have an opinion just because somebody else does.
O`DONNELL: It seems that the tea party helps drive you out of the
I want to read from your resignation letter, in which you said, I ran
to be chairman of the Mississippi chairman of college Republicans, not the
Mississippi federation f college tea partiers. Also, I believe that the
Republican Party has allowed these groups of extremists to have too much of
a voice and because of that, a platform of the Republican Party has shifted
too far to the right in my opinion. I simply cannot be a part of an
organization that has members who support these far right extremist views.
And that`s something a lot of other observers have made, especially
observers from the democratic side of the aisle that the Republicans keep
moving farther and farther in the rightward direction.
ALVAREZ: Correct. And I think the biggest issue that drove that
pointing me to the brink of changing parties was -- because it was an
ongoing thing. It took a couple of months. I knew my stances were
different, but I just kept quiet, didn`t want to come and say I was a
Democrat in Mississippi, in the most red state in the nation. But, you
know, it was the Republican stance on immigration was one that got to me
big-time. My father was an immigrant from Cuba. And the tea party has
influenced the GOP stance to where it`s, you know, put up a wall and on our
borders and don`t let anybody in. And I don`t understand how anybody could
say that when we are a nation of immigrants. We are a diverse nation.
That is what makes us special. If it weren`t for immigration, our nation
wouldn`t have been founded after all our founders came from England to
escape a government they didn`t agree with.
O`DONNELL: And Evan, how has your resignation and your public change
like this. How has it been received down there in Mississippi and among
your former colleagues in the Republican organization?
ALVAREZ: Great. I mean, by the tea party, of course, they`re not
going to take it well and they`ll say what they want to say, but I don`t
mind. I knew what I did was right for me and what they say doesn`t matter
to me that much. But with my colleagues of the Republican party, the ones
that were understanding, the ones that see where the tea party is going and
taking the platform, they have reached out and told me that they support my
decision and wish I wouldn`t have made such a drastic change but always
know that they`ll always be there as a friend and be by my side.
O`DONNELL: Evan, quickly before we go, you could have gone from
Republican to independent. And I think that might be what some of your
friends are saying. You didn`t have to go all the way over to the other
side. What pushed you the rest of the way?
ALVAREZ: What pushed me the rest of the way is the stance on
immigration. It is so far to the right that I can`t even, you know, say --
I have to move to the democratic side because they want to have immigrants
come into the country and make our nation what it is, which is a land of
O`DONNELL: Evan Alvarez, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
Really appreciate it.
ALVAREZ: Thank you. Have a good night.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, next in the rewrite, Paul Ryan`s congressional
hearings on poverty finally heard some testimony today from someone who has
actually lived in poverty. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: And now for the good news. I mean, the really good news.
I learned a few months ago how difficult sit to try to walk with a
Walker. It takes tremendous arm strength to hold yourself up on those
things. And I didn`t have that arm strength after surgery to repair my
broken hip. And so, what I`m about to show you is a true marvel to me
especially when you consider that most people who have to use a Walker
previously at least knew how to walk.
2-year-old Caden (INAUDIBLE) had to have his right foot and left leg
amputated shortly after he was born. He`s now been fitted with
prosthetics. And on Friday, July fourth, he walked for the first time
using a little Walker. Behold this little miracle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good job. You got it.
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O`DONNELL: He got it. The rewrite is next.
O`DONNELL: In its history, Congress has held what may be an
uncountable number of hearings about poverty or some aspects of poverty.
The most recent series of such hearings has been chaired by congressional
Paul Ryan. The Ryan hearings purport to be quote "a progress report on the
war on poverty." It is traditional for the chairman to choose most of the
witnesses who testified before committees, and on committees not run by
Darrell Issa, it is traditional for the minority party on the committees to
be allowed to suggests at least some witnesses who the chairman might
otherwise not want to hear from.
And so, the Republicans and Paul Ryan`s war on poverty hearings have
actually have had to listen to a few experts saying things that do not
appear in any of the Republican`s talking points about poverty.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Over the last 50 years, we`ve really made good,
strong progress in preventing and eliminating poverty, but we must stay the
course and resist those who say the war in poverty has not worked. All
right, of our charity is not a substitute for justice and prepare
allocation of public resources.
SISTER SIMONE CAMPBELL, NUNS ON THE BUS: Fed for the World which is a
Christian organization that it need some issues of hunger in our country
figured out that on the House Republican budget, the cuts in food stamps
alone, that was last year`s budget, would every church, synagogue, mosque,
house of worship in the United States, just on that issue alone, to each
raise $50,000 every year for 10 years to replace the amount of service that
was being cut.
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O`DONNELL: And today, Chairman Ryan allowed something extraordinary
in a congressional hearing about poverty, testimony from a poor person. At
the urging of Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the committee came face
to face with the struggles of poverty when they listened to the experience
of Tianna Gaines Turner.
TIANNA GAINES TURNER, PHILADELPHIA: This photograph right here is a
photo of my children. My children are everything to me. I would like to
say that we need to break the cycle. We need to make sure that we all
remember what the American dream is. Values, family values.
I`m not a number, I`m not a statistic, I`m not a food stamp recipient.
I`m an individual who live in inner city who just so happens to be right
now struggling, just as so many Americans are struggling. We need to get
back to the core values and remembering that we are people. We don`t want
to be looked at as someone who is on welfare and who is lazy who wants to
sit back and just collect benefits.
I never wake up every day when my day starts at 7:00 a.m. in the
morning and say that I want to be in public assistance. But the food stamp
program is very important to me and to my family. But no one wakes up and
says we want to be on poverty. We want stand in two-hour line in a food
pantry to get to the front and just to be told that there is no food.
I would like to say, and I know for a fact that food stamp is a very
important part of my life. It helps me and my husband make sure that we
can feed our children, (INAUDIBLE), nutritious and adequate food. My
husband gets paid every week, and he makes $8.25 an hour. After taxes he
clears about maybe $170 a week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: $170?
TURNER: $170 a week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
TURNER: I get paid $10.80 an hour. Just recently in June, my hours
were cut down to 12 hours a week. And due to the budget my paycheck was
$222 for two weeks. So, you know, I`m always trying to climb up. There`s
a constant climb. And that is the one thing I think is important for me
being here today for people to understand, you just broke down my whole
everything. Could anyone live off of that amount of money like I do
(INAUDIBLE) every day? Every month? Every week?
It`s difficult. It`s not something we choose to do. Of course, we
want to get a full-time job. Of course, my husband wants to go back to
school. And you know, he has a masonry degree. Of course, I want to go
back to college. I`m a very smart, intellectual, independent person. But
unfortunately, my circumstances don`t allow me to go to school and to also
work and to juggle our family.
Once you start working and once you get your foot in the door and once
you continue to work, there`s something else that comes up. Just because
you contain a job and you have two people in your household like me that me
that are working, that doesn`t mean that everything is solve. That doesn`t
mean that you don`t still need assistance. I consider myself to be very
independent. I work just as hard as anybody in this room.
O`DONNELL: NBC`s Peter Alexander just interviewed Texas Governor Rick
Perry moments ago about his meeting with President Obama today. Rick Perry
stuck to the Republican talking point that the president should visit the
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GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Two weeks ago, I was there. I saw what`s
happening to these children. That`s one of the reasons the President needs
to come and to see this himself. It is a powerful, powerful display of a
human crisis that`s occurring and it`s a symptom. And it`s a symptom of
this administration not dealing with the securitization of the border. And
until the border is secure, until the message is sent to Central America,
they`re going to continue to send child after child, individual after
individual, putting them in harm`s way because they think they can come
into the United States and stay here.
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O`DONNELL: You can see that entire interview tomorrow morning on the
Up next, if you stay on the beach afraid to go in the water, you might
want to hear what Fabian Cousteau has to tell you about what`s out there --
or you might not.
O`DONNELL: In 1963, academy award winning film maker and ocean
explorer, Jacque Cousteau did something extraordinary. Cousteau
coordinated a mission in which six men lived below the ocean`s surface for
one month. He filmed the expedition with underwater cameras and his
documentary "World Without Sun" earned him his third academy award. Yes,
Fifty one years later, Jacque Cousteau`s legacy lives on through his
grandson Fabian, who just spent 31 days living underwater. Fabian Cousteau
and his team photographed and studied marine life, large and small, 65 feet
below the surface to raise awareness of marine conservation and reintroduce
the world without sun to a new generation.
Joining me now is film maker and oceanographic explorer Fabian
Cousteau. This is exciting stuff. Where were you when you were, this 31
FABIAN COUSTEAU, FILM MAKER, OCEANOGRAPHIC EXPLORER: Well, we were
based in the world`s only undersea marine laboratory called Aquarius, nine
miles off store and 63 feet down.
O`DONNELL: Is that a permanent laboratory underwater?
COUSTEAU: The facility is permanent and actually it`s been the best-
kept secrets in the ocean. It`s been there for 20 years and no one even
knew about it.
O`DONNELL: And so, how much room is it? Is this one of those tight
submarine like spaces?
COUSTEAU: It depends if you are claustrophobic or not. It is about
the size of a school bus, 43-feet by 9-feet.
O`DONNELL: And how many people were in it?
COUSTEAU: I had about five of my new best friends with me. So
there`s six total.
O`DONNELL: I can imagine.
And so, there`s so much happening in our oceans now, including just
things that have been, you know, untouched by time, that we haven`t even
know but we can continue to discover. But then there`s all the modern
damages that are happening to especially in sea lanes and to coral reeves
that are anywhere near human beings who just have a very bad way of
destroying these things.
COUSTEAU: Well, unfortunately, human impact is a major factor in what
we see today in our oceans. The oceans have changed dramatically over the
last 50, 60 years. Between climate change related issues as well as
pollution and all those things.
But Mission 31 is a story of outreach and hope. And in order to be
able to get people to understand the dire consequences that we`re facing in
the ocean world that`s an unexplored place, we need to be able to educate
the public in a fun and interesting way.
O`DONNELL: OK, there`s nothing the public wants to be educated on
more about the oceans than the shark threat. OK?
COUSTEAU: Of course.
O`DONNELL: This is -- Steven Spielberg set this up for us. I guess
it is over 30 years ago. And we`ve had a recent shark attack on Manhattan
Beach, in California not far from where I live. And something like that
happens and people just -- some people stay away from the water for years.
O`DONNELL: What`s the rational reaction?
COUSTEAU: You know, it`s an emotional reaction. Obviously, it`s a
dramatic thing that happens. By and large, sharks stay away from us. I
mean, think about it. We have millions of sharks in the same waters that
hundreds of millions of people bathe in every single day of the summer, and
yet there are fewer than 80 shark incidents worldwide every year. You`re
much more likely to get hurt or killed crossing the street in New York
O`DONNELL: What is your next big project?
COUSTEAU: Well, now that we`ve finished with the actual mission, we
have three things on the agenda, that`s chapter two of it. Number one, the
documentary, which hopefully will come out at the beginning of next year.
Number two is the traveling museum, which will be based on Mission 31 to
outreach and connect people with what`s happening. And third, and most
importantly, the Florida-based ocean learning center, which will continue
that outreach to children around the world.
O`DONNELL: What was your biggest surprise in 31 days underwater?
COUSTEAU: How comfortable it was.
O`DONNELL: OK, that`s a huge surprise. That would be on my list of
COUSTEAU: Well, you know, it gives us the luxury of time. And
although there were constraints, the idea of being able to dive as long as
you need to on the final frontier on this planet really gave us the luxury
of insight of what`s happening in our oceans while we`re not there.
O`DONNELL: That is -- I never would have thought -- I just would have
thought it would have been a constant kind of struggle being down there and
staying down there.
COUSTEAU: It is a challenge. There are definitely issues with being
down there fizz logically and psychologically, but in the long run, the
payoff is much greater than the small inconveniences.
O`DONNELL: Fabian Cousteau, thank you very much. Thank you to your
family, your grandfather. The Cousteau family has taught us so much.
Thank you very much.
COUSTEAU: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.
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