'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: February 18, 2015
Guest: Asra Nomani, Dianna Hunt, Michael Snipes, Casey Hunt, Howard Dean,
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, where did you build your snow
mountain with all this snow in your driveway?
RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: In my heart. I keep it in my cold, cold
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
Well, today, President Obama said, we are at war with people who have
perverted Islam. Jeb Bush said he loves his father and brother but he is
his own man.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are here today because of
a specific challenge, countering violent extremism.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a summit on countering
OBAMA: Now, leading up to this summit, there`s been a fair amount of
debate about the words we use to describe and frame this challenge.
EARNEST: This is not a religious. This is not a war on Islam.
OBAMA: Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy.
They are not religious leaders. They`re terrorists.
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Under this administration, they are
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s dealing with a Republican Party today that`s very
different than the Republican Party that nominated his brother.
BUSH: I love my brother, I love my dad, but I`m own man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason it`s different is because of his brother.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: University of Massachusetts Amherst officials will
now accept Iranian students into its science and engineering programs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not the only school with this kind of policy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Defense attorneys for Eddie Ray Routh continued
calling witnesses Wednesday, trying to bolster their case that he was
psychotic when he killed Chris Kyle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Closing arguments are expected to begin as early as
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, investigators on the scene of a massive
explosion at a oil refinery in California.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ExxonMobil says we will conduct a thorough
investigation of the cause of this event.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary of State Kate Brown is slated to become
Oregon`s next governor.
KATE BROWN, OREGON SECRETARY OF STATE: Oregon has been in the national
news for all the wrong reasons. That changes starting today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Turning now to the relentless winter weather.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Baltimore, a water main break froze a car to the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minus 9 in Minneapolis, minus 7 in Chicago. Kansas,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On top of the frigid weather forecast, they`re
inspecting more snow to move into, yes, New England.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enough, no more. Surrender to the snow.
O`DONNELL: President Obama delivered remarks today at the White House
summit on countering violent extremism. He said he called the summit
meeting because of, quote, "the urgent threat from groups like al Qaeda and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: They propagate the notion that America and the West generally is at
war with Islam. That`s how they recruit. That`s how they try to
radicalize young people.
We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a
lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that
they seek. They are not religious leaders, they`re terrorists.
And we are not at war with Islam.
We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.
No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for
violence and terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president also spoke to what he called the reality that
many Muslims who do not support the Islamic State support the idea that
Islam is incompatible with modernity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The reality, which again many Muslim leaders have spoken to is, is
that there is a strain of thought that doesn`t embrace ISIL`s tactics,
doesn`t embrace violence, but does buy into the notion that the Muslim
world has suffered historic grievances. Sometimes that`s accurate. Does
buy into the belief that so many of the ills in the Middle East flow from a
history of colonialism or conspiracy. Does buy into the idea that Islam is
incompatible with modernity or tolerance, or that it`s been polluted by
So, those beliefs exist. En in some communities around the world, they are
widespread. And so, it makes individuals, especially young people who
already may be disaffected or alienated, more ripe for radicalization.
Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are
determined to suppress Islam. That there is an inherent clash in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now: Asra Nomani, a journalist and author of
"Standing Alone: An American Woman`s Struggle for the Soul of Islam." Also
joining us, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, and NBC News foreign
correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin.
Asra, you were at the president`s speech. What was your reaction?
ASRA NOMANI, JOURNALIST: Well, I went to the speech because I wanted to
see whether this conference on violent extremism was going to address the
issue of Islam. I walked into the session and it was almost like an open
house at our local mosque. There were folks there with names like
Abdullah, Muhammad, Ahmed, Farha -- you know, this was very much an issue
about Islam today, and I was happy to see that we discussed issues related
to the religion.
But at the end of the day, I still see a tap dance that we`re still doing
as a nation about the issue of Islamic extremism.
You know, I felt really sad when I was there, because it was on this week,
12 years ago in 2002, 13 years ago, that we got the video that documented
the murder of my colleague, Daniel Pearl at "The Wall Street Journal."
When the murderers killed Danny, they literally put a knife to his throat.
And then they washed the blood from the floor and they laid their rugs down
What they did was believe, as many people do, that they were acting in the
name of Islam.
The fact that 13 years later, we`re still having this erudite conversation
about whether we`re at war with Islam or whether we`re not, whether, you
know, Muslims are under attack or whether they`re not, reveals to me we`re
still not dealing honestly with the very real issue of an ideology that was
born over the last decades. Ayman (ph) was born in 1979, and that was the
year the Saudis put out into the world this ideology that is wreaking so
much havoc in the world. And that`s what we really need to talk about.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Bill O`Reilly said about the president`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: President Obama is flat out wrong in not
describing the terrorist threat accurately. Muslim fanatics want to kill
us, and there are millions of them, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ayman? Take your time. Millions of them.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: I`m not even going to
respond to that. I don`t want to get dragged into a conversation where
he`s citing numbers that he may have. This is not --
O`DONNELL: He`s saying that there are millions of terrorists out there.
There`s absolutely no evidence of millions of terrorists.
MOHYELDIN: I think you should address that question to Bill O`Reilly to
have him explain that number.
What I can say to you is we can`t conflate the issues that exist out there
in the public. There are grievances against a lot of issues that come from
the West. There are a lot of grievances against governments in the West.
There are a lot of societal problems.
It`s important that when we address these issues, not to conflate all of
these issues across the spectrum. I think this is what the president is
trying to do. He`s trying to be delicate on a few issues. It`s a fine
line he has to walk. He cannot alienate some of the allies he wants to
keep in this coalition. That is a political and diplomatic issue.
Certainly, the United States is going to rely on its allies in this fight,
ideologically, militarily, politically. But at the same time, I understand
why people are trying to say the president needs to be more aggressive in
identifying these issues.
What struck out at me in this speech by the president, is that we talked
about so many of the issues, poverty, education, the ideology. But what
thing that was omitted very blatantly is the consequences of so many of the
West`s policies in the Middle East.
MOHYELDIN: So many of the governments that they support.
It`s hard for ordinary people in the Middle East who have grievances, who
will look at the United States as a country -- as a beacon of values and
ideas, but see it so closely aligned with countries like Saudi Arabia, with
countries like Egypt. That has nothing to do with religion. That has to
do with politics. That has to do with interests.
And this is the big disconnect that the United States is having right now.
It`s trying to convince people in the world we are trying to do good, we
want to do good, we can do good. But in the reality of the equation and
the balance of foreign policy in the Middle East, drones speak very loudly.
The support of some of these regimes speak very loudly. The U.S.
involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan speak very loudly.
And that you cannot just erase with a conference in D.C. that doesn`t even
include all of the participants.
Right before I came on your show, I was with the ambassador to the United
Nations, who was saying his country was not invited to attend this summit
in D.C. or this conference in D.C. How can a country like Russia, or how
can you completely go around the international system? How do you ignore
things like the United Nations, not invite them to be the leader on this
O`DONNELL: And Russian intelligence was crucial to the case of the Boston
Howard Dean, the president had the chore today of explaining to the Bill
O`Reillies of the world why he doesn`t have the word "Islamic" in the title
of the summit on violent extremism. I thought he did a very reasonable job
of that. I thought it made perfect sense, and he made it very clear that
this summit is about al Qaeda and the Islamic state.
But then he went on, I think, to make it very clear why he`s not using
these words the way Bill O`Reilly wants him to.
HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: Yes, I think it`s simple-minded
to say there`s millions of Muslim terrorists. It`s not true.
I looked at the history of the crusades. And, you know, we didn`t behave
so well, us Christians didn`t behave so well either in those days. That
was 1,000 years ago.
What you have to do is having a single standard for all of humanity.
What`s unacceptable in one part of the world is unacceptable in another
part of the world.
Obviously, what ISIS is doing is incredibly unacceptable. They are thugs.
They are criminals. They are murderers.
And I totally agree with the president. I wouldn`t give them the dignity
of having this associated with any kind of religion, and it isn`t. There`s
fundamentalism, there`s harsh versions of all this. When people think of
Jim Jones or David Koresh, they don`t say they`re Christian terrorists.
They were horrible people.
We`ve got to do better than this, and I think the president was 100 percent
right. We`ve got to separate the deeds, leave the religious arguments to
religious people. It is true, and there was a very interesting article in
"The Atlantic Monthly" in the last week or so, that some of the stuff ISIS
is preaching you can find justification in the Koran for it. But you can
also find justification for all kinds of savagery in the bible. Gouging an
eye for somebody who`s taken an eye, and all these kinds of things.
There may be a battle between Islam and modernity -- I`m on modernity`s
side. We have a new way of looking at human beings, which actually I think
goes back to the United States Constitution. And I think we ought to
adhere to that, and I don`t think it`s about religion, I think it`s about
expecting people to behave differently than they have for centuries, and I
think we need to do what we can to hold up that expectation. That includes
-- to Ayman`s point, we do have to behave well in other countries, not just
O`DONNELL: Asra, you want to respond to that?
NOMANI: Well, there are a series of countries that I wish had come to the
summit. I wish we had called them out on the extremist Islamic views they
put out forward in the world. And those are the countries that make up the
organization of Islamic cooperation. They are second to the U.N. as a
governmental agency out in the world.
And ten years ago, they put a campaign into the world that said that they
wanted to promote the true image of Islam. One of the reasons why we`re
having such a hard time dancing around this issue is because there is an
entire lobby of these Muslim countries that don`t want us to talk about
these very real issues that are in mosques, in sermons, that are in
interpretations of the Koran and the Hadith throughout the Muslim world.
And so, those countries are very much part of the problem, because they
want to make it seem as if we are --
O`DONNELL: Asra, which countries are you talking about?
NOMANI: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation was started in the `60s by
the countries with large Muslim populations. So, those are countries,
including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan. And I can tell you that just today
in Pakistan, they are pushing for the U.N. to again try to mandate
blasphemy laws, so that it becomes a crime to talk about issues of
extremism or to defame Islam.
And so, this is really what we`re inheriting today. The debate on Islam
has been hijacked by this effort to try to promote a public relations
campaign that, you know, puts forward Islam in the best way possible, and
then not deal with these very real issues. And to me, that`s the real
crisis that we`re facing today that, you know, here it is, 2015, and we`re
still figuring out how to have this conversation.
O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to take a break, come back to discuss
what the president talked about as the military component of this.
O`DONNELL: In his speech today, the president made only passing reference
to what he called the military component of fighting violent extremism.
Here`s NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel with the latest
on how that`s going.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ISIS is
spreading like a virus. And months of U.S.-led air strikes don`t seem to
be containing it. In Libya, is has been showing its strength. The group
beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians.
One of the executioners speaking in English with an American accent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Recently, you have seen us on the hills.
ENGEL: Egypt hit back with its own air strikes.
ISIS says Italy will be next. Security has already been beefed up at St.
But the biggest advances and reportedly the worst atrocities have come
where Washington claims to be making the most progress, in Iraq, which is
starting to look like a failed state.
In the north, we saw firsthand last week how Kurdish forces have been under
attack. Today, near the city of Irbil, they turned back a major ISIS
In central Iraq, where ISIS captured the town of al Baghdadi, Iraqi
officials claim as many as 48 of their fighters were burned alive by
militants. It`s unconfirmed by U.S. officials, but it reportedly happened
just five miles from a base where hundreds of U.S. marines are deployed as
But why the spread? ISIS is moving into all the cracks in the Middle East.
The unresolved conflicts in Iraq, Libya, the Sinai, Syria, and Gaza.
This is not a problem that can be droned away. The ISIS virus is consuming
the Middle East, infecting Europe, and showing no sign of stopping there.
Richard Engel, NBC News.
O`DONNELL: Ayman, I just don`t see what the plan is.
MOHYELDIN: Well, I think --
O`DONNELL: A military plan, I just don`t see it.
MOHYELDIN: We know from American military officers who are publicly stated
there is no military end to this operation. This is not going to be won on
a battlefield. The U.S. militarily can contain ISIS. It can degrade its
leadership, it can destroy weapons depots.
But when you`re fighting an ideology, bombs don`t destroy ideologies.
America won the Cold War, defeated communism without firing a single bullet
at the Russians.
There has to be a new approach to combat the ideology. You have to do that
by reforming these societies, trying to put pressure on them to create more
political plurality, improve the education system, try to create
opportunity for individuals, only to drain that swamp of that ideology,
that reservoir that exists to ripe for ISIS.
But dropping bombs on pickup trucks, destroying weapons depots, it`s going
to be refilled within days. You kill the leader of ISIS, you`ll have
somebody more hard core that the one that`s in place.
And just to put it on perspective, if you take a look at the span of the
last 13 years, we went to war in Afghanistan in 2001, al Qaeda was pretty
much localized in Afghanistan. Concentrated in Afghanistan. Thirteen, 14
years later, we have not only al Qaeda in Libya and in the western part of
Africa and the Maghreb, and in Yemen, we also have ISIS in Iraq, we have
ISIS in Libya and in northern Sinai.
The military solution or the option of this dealing with every problem
militarily is not going to work in the long run.
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, our military tactics have been a failure, they`ve
been a mistake, as the Iraq war was mistake in its entirety. And yet,
Washington keeps going back to military tactics.
DEAN: I think the Iraq war, had it not been for the Iraq war, we wouldn`t
be looking at this right now. Ayman is exactly right. This is about
failed states and filling in the cracks.
I think I have some disagreement, though, the military option is important
and here`s why. One of the reasons that ISIS is attracting young,
disaffected people is because they appear to be winning.
As soon as they appear to be losing, and I think what happened when the
Jordanian pilot was burned was critical, for the first time, imams in the
Middle East began to condemn ISIS as un-Islamic. That is very important.
As soon as these guys -- this is why what the president said is right.
They need to be called out as losers and criminals, not as some sort of
Islamic jihadist heroes. And as soon as they start losing, and I think the
military option is part of that, then their recruiting ability is going to
go down dramatically. This is a group of people that are attracted by
winners, and they`re not going to be attracted to losers.
O`DONNELL: Asra, what is your view of the military component of the fight
against the Islamic State?
NOMANI: Well, just one point, I don`t think we have this dichotomy of
calling them heroes or zeros. There`s a nuanced place we can have this
conversation, and that is acknowledging the ideology that is fueling this
In that way, I have to say, it sounds scary, but our military strategists
need to be studying the apocalyptic eschatology or end times strategy of
the Islamic State.
What they`re going to do now is they`re going to try to sweep into
Damascus. That`s what the end times for Muslims declares is going to
happen. I as a liberal Muslim do not believe it, but at the Grand Mosque
in Damascus, they believe Jesus will pray behind the messiah of the Muslims
and the army will march down to Jerusalem and claim Dome of the Rock.
This is a grand plan that they believe will be executed and all of these
grievances simply feed their idea of what the apocalyptic scenario will
look like. And so, the solution must be a very strategic one that,
unfortunately, may have to include military options.
O`DONNELL: Asra Nomani, and Ayman Mohyeldin, thank you both for joining me
tonight. Howard Dean is going to stick around.
Coming up, Eddie Ray Routh`s sister and his former girlfriend both
testified in Texas today. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: In the murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh, the former marine
accused of murdering real American sniper Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield,
the defense called four people to the stand, including Eddie Ray Routh`s
sister and former girlfriend. Both testified about Eddie Ray Routh`s
behavior the day of the killings.
The sister said, "He started talking and things he was saying I knew he
wasn`t himself. He was talking about pigs sucking his soul. That was one
thing that stood out to me, because that was bizarre. I knew he wasn`t
quite right. He said he killed two guys. I said, what do you mean you
killed two people? I really didn`t believe him, because he said crazy
stuff before. I mean, he never said that, but I just didn`t believe him
because he wasn`t talking the way he normally would."
Eddie Ray Routh`s former girlfriend told jurors "Eddie definitely had
paranoia about the government out to get him. I asked him if he was seeing
Joining me now is Dianna Hunt, who was inside the courtroom today covering
the trial for the "Dallas Morning News," and Michael Snipes, a former
Dallas County judge and current criminal defense lawyer.
Dianna, the testimony -- these were defense witnesses called by the defense
today, clearly trying to demonstrate by what they say that Eddie Ray Routh
was saying on the day of the killing, that he was not in his right mind or
any form of a right mind that day.
DIANNA HUNT, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Yes. They were very strong witnesses
for the defense. He clearly had -- his condition had been deteriorating.
He went from getting down on his knees and asking his gift to marrying him
the night before to ordering her out of the house the next morning. He was
feeling paranoid and disturbed and upset, and that`s the way he headed off
to Glenn Rose with Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield.
O`DONNELL: At another point in her testimony, his sister said, "I looked
in his eyes and I told him I love you but I hate your demons. And for a
moment he was my little baby brother and he looked at me in his eyes and I
could tell he needed me. But it was like it switched back so fast, that he
became this person that I didn`t know anymore."
Michael Snipes, I -- it`s obviously a very tough case for the defense.
This may be the best they have.
MICHAEL SNIPES, FORMER JUDGE DALLAS COUNTY: Well, it`s compelling
testimony, but you have to understand the jury is going to know we`re
talking about the sister of the defendant, and also the ex-girlfriend and
they`re going to understand they`re going to have to take this testimony
with a grain of salt, because they`re trying to convince the jury that the
defendant was insane. So, they`ll have to evaluate that part of the
O`DONNELL: And, Judge Snipes, just to make it clear, what is at stake
here? You mentioned the other night that if he`s found not guilty by
reason of insanity, the judge will obviously sentence him in effect to a
mental institution. What kind of institution is that? Is that, in effect,
SNIPES: Well, it`s not a prison in the sense of having barbed wire fences
and things of that sort, but it`s certainly a locked down facility. But
the difference between a disposition in which a defendant is found not
guilty by reason of insanity and in which they have life without parole is
there`s a possibility that they can get out one day.
O`DONNELL: And, Dianna Hunt, it seems the jury isn`t going to really know
that distinction. In fact, the prosecutor in his opening statement kept
using the phrase, for him to get away with this. He kept saying, the
standard of proof that the defense is going to have to meet in order for
him to get away with this, kept using that phrase, get away with it, as if
he would just walk out the door.
HUNT: Right. The jury has been instructed that they`re not allowed to
consider what the punishment might be or what might happen to him if he`s
found not guilty by reason of insanity, or if he`s found guilty. They`ve
been told not to consider what the punishment might be, that they`re only
to determine whether he knowingly killed these two men, if he knew it was
wrong when he did it.
So, they`re going to be prevented from thinking about that. I think it`s
going to be very difficult for them to do that. It`s not something -- I
think it`s something they don`t want to see somebody get away with
something, but they may not know he would get treatment.
O`DONNELL: And, Judge Snipes, what about that language, get away with it.
I was a little surprised there wasn`t a defense objection to the use of
that language in the opening statement.
SNIPES: And there could have been, and were I the judge in this case, I
would have sustained that, although it`s not a terribly troubling comment.
But the point is this, as I mentioned just a moment ago, you potentially,
eventually the psychiatric experts and judicial authorities determined that
your sanity has been regained, you could potentially get out. It`s
happened in other cases where defendants were found not guilty by reason of
O`DONNELL: Dianna Hunt and Judge Michael Snipes, thank you both for
joining me tonight.
Coming up, driving on icy roads can kill you. Jeff Rossen will show you
driving tactics that you need to know to save your life.
O`DONNELL: On icy roads can kill you.
Jeff Rossen will show you driving tactics that you need to know to save
O`DONNELL: A man in Tennessee was almost hit by this pickup truck, which
went out of control on an icy road. This is police dash cam video that
shows the truck sliding just past the worker as it careened down the
Temperatures are going to be in the single digits in many parts of the
country for the next few days.
NBC`s Jeff Rossen has a report on how to save your life if you are behind
the wheel on icy roads.
JEFF ROSSEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Frightening moments behind the wheel.
Fishtailing, no control. Just as scary when the wreck is coming right
From sedans to semis. This truck skidding out. Missing other cars by just
feet and that`s the danger, too. Swerving into traffic.
Look at this car, spinning all over the road. Seconds later, an oncoming
car smashes into it. This week, icy roads are wreaking havoc again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were driving, this car started spinning out of
ROSSEN: So what do you do if you`re caught in a skid?
We`re in Maryland at the especially designed ice driving course.
TOM PECORARO, FORMER POLICE OFFICER, CERTIFIED DRIVING INSTRUCTOR: There
ROSSEN: Our instructor, Tom Pecoraro, a former police officer and
certified driving instructor.
Oh, boy. We`re spinning right now.
PECORARO: Right. Yes. So that was 16 miles per hour.
ROSSEN: When we start driving again, I hit another patch of ice and make a
PECORARO: Two worst things you can do, you jammed on the brake and you
jerked the wheel.
ROSSEN: What am I supposed to do?
PECORARO: You`re supposed to get off the brake, and get off the
accelerator, straighten the wheel, and then ride the skid out.
ROSSEN: It goes against conventional wisdom. I want to stop the car.
PECORARO: That`s what everybody wants to do but that`s the worst thing you
ROSSEN: Flat roadways are dangerous enough covered in ice, but how about
when you`re on a hill?
What happens if my car starts sliding down backwards?
PECORARO: Stay off the brake.
ROSSEN: Stay off the brake?
PECORARO: Stay off the brake. Roll back. Look over your shoulder and
steer to a safe location.
ROSSEN: Important tips, especially this winter when the ice and snow just
Jeff Rossen, NBC News, Germantown, Maryland.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Jeb Bush hired 21 advisers from his father`s and
bother`s administrations and then gave a speech, no doubt written by some
of them, saying that he is his own man.
O`DONNELL: Bush foreign policy is back and it sounds like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Under this administration, we are
inconsistent and indecisive. We have lost the trust and confidence of our
friends. We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies.
The problem is perhaps best demonstrated by this administration`s approach
to Iraq. We have had 35 years of experience with Iran -- excuse me, Iran,
35 years experience with Iran`s rulers. They have attacked the United
States and American troops directly and through their surrogates. They
have used terror as a tool of intimidation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC political reporter Casey Hunt, former
Vermont governor, Howard Dean, is back with us, and "Washington Post"
national political reporter Robert Costa.
Casey, you were at the speech today, and there were some echoes of old Bush
stuff there, including that little flub, the little verbal flub. I don`t
want to make too much of it. But his brother was noted for mangling a word
here and there.
CASEY HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL REPORTER: Lawrence, that particular flub I
think just showed that he clearly had Iraq on the brain, and that was what
a lot of people in the room were thinking about. And he went on in the Q&A
to talk about the fact that he thought that there were mistakes made in the
Iraq war, but he didn`t go so far as to really criticize his brother for
invading the country or for what happened afterward.
Instead, he says that the current vacuum that we`re seeing there with ISIS
is actually because President Obama didn`t continue the surge policy that
was implemented near the end of George W. Bush`s second administration. So
he`s very clearly trying to walk a line that allows him to move past his
brother`s record in Iraq, without actually criticizing him in an aggressive
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Jeb Bush`s view of America`s power in the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The United States has an undiminished ability to shape events and
build alliances of free people. We can project power and enforce peaceful
stability in far-off areas of the globe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, I can`t think of a more shocking couple of
sentences, the notion that the United States has an undiminished ability to
shape events and build alliances around the world and has the power to
enforce peaceful stability. That`s exactly what his brother proved we
HOWARD DEAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. This is a very interesting
speech. And I don`t think I would have given this speech if I had been Jeb
Bush. The problem he has here is that he is reminding everybody of the
Bush legacy in Iraq. And I think they`re going to be -- I mean, the notion
that if Obama had only done the surge more and sent more troops to Iraq,
somehow this all would have gone away.
That may play well in the right wing corners of the Heritage Foundation,
but it is not going to play on main street, especially the main streets
which have given up an awful lot of soldiers to do that with second, third,
fourth, fifth tours, a lot of PTSD, families broken up. I -- I think this
was not a good start.
O`DONNELL: Well, let`s listen to the "I am my own man" passage of this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: As you might know, I`ve also been fortunate to have a father and a
brother who helped shape America`s foreign policy from the Oval Office. I
recognize that as a result, my views will often be held up in comparison to
I love my brother. I love my dad. I actually love my mother, as well. I
hope that`s OK.
And I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions that
they had to make. But I`m my own man and my views are shaped by my own
thinking and my own experiences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Robert Costa, how is that playing with Republican primary
voters and Republican campaign contributors who are trying to -- who need
to see now how Jeb Bush will be able to distinguish himself from his
ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST" NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I spoke today
with several top Republican donors and some close Bush allies. And I said
what was the purpose of this speech? What was the message? And he said,
though Bush was saying he is his own man, Governor Bush was also trying to
signal that when it comes to foreign policy, he`s not so much George W.
Bush, but more George H. W. Bush.
He`s an internationalist, he believes in coalition building. And it was
really a pitch on temperament, that when it comes to how he would manage
foreign policy, he`d be more like his father. He thinks that could play in
a primary and in a general election.
O`DONNELL: He also said he`s very much in favor of Benjamin Netanyahu
coming to address Congress. Let`s listen to that part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I for one am really eager to hear what he has to say. Israel is not
at the negotiation table with Iran but it has a lot at stake. I don`t
blame him for wanting to share his views and in fact I think it will be
important for the American people to get the perspective of our closest
ally in the region.
I`m surprised that the administration is upset to hear from a close and
valuable ally on such a sensitive topic. If we want to build confidence
and trust of the American position, we have to listen. Foreign policy
should be a place where our long-term security interests are front and
center. And the political hacks should be doing the campaigns and staying
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, I have to believe his father, who was a diplomat,
would be -- before he was president, would be very much opposed to the way
Benjamin Netanyahu has been invited to the White House.
DEAN: Yes. What I`m thinking of as I listened to that, it`s so
ridiculous. President Jeb Bush is in the White House, Nancy Pelosi is the
speaker, and invites the leader of the Labor Party in Great Party to come
over and talk -- and lecture President Bush on his lack of proper social
programs or something like that.
I mean, this is an enormous gaffe, and it`s -- Netanyahu is really clumsy.
He`s just been -- I think he`s done Israel a lot of harm and he`s done
American-Israeli relations a lot of harm. And the best ways the Israelis
can fix that is in March, after he -- he`s done here he`s got to stand for
re-election. And I hope the Israelis get a new prime minister because it`s
going to make things a lot better for both countries.
O`DONNELL: I want to take a break here, but I want to come back -- when we
come back, I want to go to Robert Costa on the question of how much of this
was really aimed at Rand Paul, because foreign policy for Republican
primary voters is one of Rand Paul`s real weak points.
And we`re going to pick that up when we come back.
O`DONNELL: We`re back with Robert Costa, Casey Hunt and Howard Dean.
Robert, I was saying that when Jeb Bush is talking about foreign policy,
that team knows this is a weak spot for Rand Paul among Republican primary
voters. It is also a weak spot for Mike Huckabee among Republican primary
And so how much of this stepping into foreign policy was about exposing or
going toward the weaknesses of the other candidates.
COSTA: Bush is trying to signal to donors and to activists that, though he
doesn`t have too much international experience, he comes to this race as an
unapologetic hawk. So it comes from the Bush lineage on foreign policy.
And he`s sending a message that, though there is some pockets of the GOP
that are war weary, he`s not going to be bowed or cowed by them and he`s
going to stand by his traditional position.
O`DONNELL: We`ve got the latest poll out, a national poll of the
Republican candidates with Mike Huckabee at the top at 16 percent., Jeb
Bush at 14 percent, Scott Walker 11 percent, Rand Paul 10 percent, Ben
Carson 8 percent, Chris Christie at 7 percent, and everyone else far below
Casey Hunt, there`s Jeb Bush looking at a national poll where he`s not on
top. And again, it seems to me that he`s got a much stronger hand to play
on foreign policy with Republican primary voters than Mike Huckabee does
who is on top of that poll.
HUNT: Lawrence, I think that one of the things, and you touched on this
earlier with Robert, is this speech sort of hit every single note of the
sort of general Republican platform on foreign policy, without being
particularly inflammatory on any of them. So he sort of laid out his
resume that was one point at a time, you know, Iran, ISIS, Israel with the
Netanyahu point, where he talked about it in a sort of very reasoned,
measured way but in a way that spoke directly to those primary voters.
And, you know, I think that your point is a good one that in many ways
Huckabee will struggle on this front in a way that Bush, while he does
potentially have issues in a general election with his brother`s legacy on
Iraq, is probably going to be a little bit safer in a nominating contest.
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, "The New York Times" is reporting tonight that we
may have our very first announced candidate on April 7th. Rand Paul is
looking at that date to announce his presidential candidacy. That`s the
beginning of a -- of a fundraising cycle in terms of the FEC reporting that
would have to be done. And they look at that as an advantage. And so we
could be under way in April.
DEAN: I think we probably will be under way in April. We`ve really been
under way since Jeb made it known that he was definitely going to run and
the dominos have been falling every since. So away we go.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And Casey Hunt, what are you hearing in Bush world about
when they might formalize an announcement?
HUNT: Well, I think you have to look at April in sort of this broad
context of being the beginning of a new fundraising quarter. That`s in
large part why the Paul camp decided to step it out now and I think you`re
starting to hear a lot of that from some of the other Republican --
potential Republican candidates that, you know, if it doesn`t come in
April, then you get into the May-June timeframe, then you`re looking at the
end of that second fundraising quarter.
But so much of this is driven by how they can make money and at what point
it makes the most sense for them to start doing that.
O`DONNELL: Casey Hunt, Howard Dean and Robert Costa, thank you all for
joining me tonight.
COSTA: Thank you.
HUNT: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, if you buy or sell anything on Craigslist, you need
to know how to do that safely. A man who tried to buy an iPhone on
Craigslist was murdered.
That story is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Both countries have to get past their old
mindsets and realize that this is a new day. Both sides are going to have
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: A new round of negotiations to restore full diplomatic ties
with Cuba is now scheduled for next Friday in Washington.
Senators Mark Warner, Claire McCaskill and Amy Klobuchar went to Cuba over
the weekend in support of a bill Senator Klobuchar is sponsoring to remove
the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.
Senator Klobuchar told the "Washington Post" today, "We walked freely
around the streets and talked with anyone we wanted. I did not know what
to expect. The people were really positive about Americans. I didn`t
expect them to be that positive and excited."
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is leading a House delegation to Cuba
this week. But members of Congress are not the only ones visiting Cuba.
Conan O`Brien tweeted, "I just spent the last four days shooting my show
all around the city of Havana. I met countless friends and had one of the
most experiences of my life. Many laughs but that could also be the rum.
Watch Conan in Cuba."
Conan then linked to this photo. Conan is the first late-night host to do
a show in Cuba since Jack Pars` "Tonight Show" which recorded a full
interview with Fidel Castro there in February of 1959.
We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: In Atlanta today, two men were sentenced to life without
parole, convicted of felony murder and several other charges. They used
Craigslist to create a fake ad saying they had an iPhone to sell. Instead
when the would-be buyer arrived, the two men tried to rob him and ended up
If you use Web sites like Craigslist to buy and sell things, there are --
there`s a new effort by some local police departments to stop this kind of
crime and keep you safe.
NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez explains how.
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It can be quick and easy. But
police say doing business on Web sites like Craigslist can also be
Just last week in Georgia, 21-year-old college student James Jones, Jr. was
robbed and killed. Investigators say he`d responded to a Craigslist ad for
an iPhone 6.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s sad to know that people would do something like
that over an iPhone.
GUTIERREZ: In January, police say a Georgia couple was murdered after
driving to a secluded location to buy a classic car listed on Craigslist.
Crimes like these have police in Woodstock, Georgia, taking action.
They`re now asking buyers and sellers on Craigslist and other sites like it
to do business right here at their local police station.
CHIEF CALVIN MOSS, WOODSTOCK POLICE DEPARTMENT: The Transaction Safe Place
initiative really is about moving those transactions away from that
secluded areas where they often occur and bringing it here to a very public
GUTIERREZ: You need to call ahead to make sure an officer will be there,
but Chief Moss says he doesn`t expect the service to cost his department
any extra manpower.
If somebody is trying to rip you off, it`s a lot harder to do here in the
lobby of a police station.
MOSS: Well, sure. You know, typically a bad guy doesn`t want to transact
bad business in a police department.
GUTIERREZ: It`s a growing trend in policing. More and more departments
across the nation are doing it, too. In south Florida, the Broward County
Sheriff`s Office launched its safe spot last summer.
SHERIFF SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: If you`re committed to
Craigslist or any place where you`re dealing with a person for the first
time and you`re trying to do a transaction, I don`t know of any better way
to do this.
GUTIERREZ: Craigslist did not respond to our request for a comment, but on
its Web site the company says users should decide on a public meeting place
and tell a friend or family member where they`re going or bring the friend
ISRAEL: Because no matter what your profit is or no matter what the -- you
know, that product is that you may want to have, it`s not worth getting
GUTIERREZ: With police watching, it`s an idea they hope will be easy for
the public to buy.
Gabe Gutierrez, NBC News, Woodstock, Georgia.
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