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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Alex Wagner, John Heilemann, Mark McKinnon, Ron Carey, Jonathan Capehart, Dennis Kucinich

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The Republicans get physical.



newspaper -- the newspaper --

ROMNEY: I`m speaking. I`m speaking. I`m speaking.


CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: They were aggressive. They were nasty.
They got personal.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Not a good night for anybody.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: This smack down was really Rick Perry
against Mitt Romney.

scrappy and Perry was a lot scrappy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looked to me at times like he had too many
Red Bulls.

PERRY: Thank you for being here as well.

TODD: Rick Perry realized, look, it`s now or never.

ROMNEY: I`m speaking.

TODD: Petty exchange with Mitt Romney.

PERRY: The foxhole. They will fight the fight. They will put the
bayonets on and go to the top of the hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bickering with each other.

High school cafeteria food fight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought Mitt Romney was fabulous.

MITCHELL: Mitt Romney`s behavior last night, that he`s worried about
Rick Perry and he`s $15 million bank account.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone on the stage was basically dismantling

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could actually see a Romney/Cain ticket.

STEELE: A Romney/Cain ticket.

JANSING: Let`s talk about 9-9-9.


MITCHELL: Not doing very well in debates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His Republican rivals took turns slamming him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The conversation turns to foreign policy and has
no clue what he`s talking about.

CAIN: I have no idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Herman Cain really doesn`t know honestly what
he`s talking about.

DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: It`s simple, it`s concise, it`s
easy to understand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just have a stupidity tax, just tax the stupid

CAIN: I don`t have facts to back this up.

MITCHELL: So what`s the takeaway for voters?

ANN COULTER: If you don`t run Chris Christie, nominee will be the
nominee and we`ll lose.


O`DONNELL: From 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. last night, President Obama was
comfortably ensconced at the Spring Hill Suites Hotel in Hampton, Virginia,
where he was effortlessly winning the Republican presidential debate.

The Republican presidential candidates were a couple of thousand
miles away in a casino behaving as if they`ve been served too many free
drinks at the roulette wheel. Casino security had to keep a sharp eye on a
couple of them who almost came to blows.

But the most shameful conduct belonged, as usual, to the Republican
debate audience. We have seen Republican debate audiences cheer Rick Perry
for executing more people than any Republican presidential candidate in
history. We`ve seen them cheer the idea of letting a person without health
insurance die. We have seen Republican debate audiences boo a soldier
asking a question from Iraq.

And last night, we saw the Republican debate audience offer cheering
support to the most vile pronouncement any presidential candidate has ever
made on a televised debate stage. That is Herman Cain`s repeated belief
that if you are not rich, you should blame yourself. That if you`re not
employed at the moment with 9 percent unemployment, you should blame


ANDERSON COOPER, MODERATOR: Herman Cain, I`ve got to ask you, you
said, -- two weeks ago, you said, "Don`t blame Wall Street, don`t blame the
big banks. If you don`t have a job, and you`re not rich, blame yourself."

That was two weeks ago. The movement has grown. Do you still say


CAIN: Yes, I do still say that. And here`s why.



O`DONNELL: The Republican audience and the Republican candidates
have very strong feelings about illegal immigration. The new front-runner
has suggested that the proper penalty for the men, women, children and
babies who try to enter the country illegally is that they be put to death
without trial when they come in contact with a lethally electrified fence
on our southern border.

Willard M. Romney has deflected comments about his religion with
grace, but being accused of hypocrisy on illegal immigration was more than
even he could bear.


PERRY: And, Mitt, you lose all of your standing, from my
perspective, because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it
for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that
you`re strong on immigration is on its face the height of hypocrisy.


COOPER: Governor Romney?

ever hired an illegal in my life. And so, I`m afraid -- I`m looking
forward to finding your facts on that, because that just doesn`t --

PERRY: Well, I`ll tell you what the facts are.

ROMNEY: Rick, again -- Rick, I`m speaking.

PERRY: You had the -- your newspaper -- the newspaper --

ROMNEY: I`m speaking. I`m speaking. I`m speaking.


ROMNEY: You get 30 seconds. This is the way the rules work here, is
that I get 60 seconds and then you get 30 second to respond, right?


PERRY: And they want to hear you say that you knew you had illegals
working at your --

ROMNEY: Would you please wait? Are you just going to keep talking?

PERRY: Yes, sir.

ROMNEY: Would you let me finish with what I have to say?


ROMNEY: Look, Rick --

COOPER: I thought Republicans follow the rules.

ROMNEY: This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I
understand that. And so you`re going to get testy.


ROMNEY: We hired a lawn company to mow our lawn and they had illegal
immigrants who are working there. And when that was pointed out to us, we
let them go. And we went to them -- you have a problem with allowing
someone to finish speaking and I suggest that if you want to become
president of the United States, you have to let both people speak. So,
first, let me speak.


ROMNEY: So we went to the company and said, look, you can`t have any
illegals working on our property, I`m running for office for Pete`s sake, I
can`t have illegals. It turns out they hired someone who falsified their
documents, had documents and therefore we fired them.


O`DONNELL: A new NBC/Marist poll of the crucial states of South
Carolina and Florida show that Herman Cain is now the front-runner in both
of those states. In South Carolina, he actually leads the field with 30
percent support among likely Republican primary voters. Romney pulls up
second with 26 percent, with Perry now running a distant third at 9

In Florida, where most Republican voters don`t yet know that Herman
Cain`s 9-9-9 plan includes abolishing Social Security and Medicare, Cain is
in a virtual tie with Romney for the lead. Cain at 32 percent and Romney
at 31 percent. While Perry is once again far behind in third place at 8

Joining me now, national affairs editor for "New York" magazine, John
Heilemann who was at the debate; MSNBC contributor Alex Wagner; former
adviser to the George W. Bush and McCain campaigns, Mark McKinnon also
joins us; and former chief of staff to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Ron
Carey, returns to the show.

Thank you all very much for joining me tonight.

Alex, could President Obama have had a better debate night?

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You have to think that President
Obama was sitting just rubbing his hands together saying, keep it going. I
mean, it devolved, literally was there a mud pit stage left where they
could take out the tax disputes hand-to-hand combat style? It was, I think
-- I mean, look, you`ve seen these candidates graded on a number of
different scales in the post hoc analysis and I think some people are
saying, look, Perry showed his true colors, he woke up. Romney showed some
steel. At the end of the day the feeling was ick.

O`DONNELL: John, did you get any honest assessments from any
professional Republicans about how they think this really went last night?


O`DONNELL: I don`t care about Stewart Stevens` spin for Romney or
the different spinners. I mean --

HEILEMAN: What happened last night, for the first time of the
Republican debates, Mitt Romney got scuffed up. He has been like Hillary
Clinton back in 2008. In the 2007 debate, she was a juggernaut throughout
2007, until they got to the debate in October and all of a sudden, in one
two-minute segment, the end of the debate she suddenly looked vulnerable.

Now, this was not as bad for Mitt Romney as that was. That was the
beginning of the end for Hillary Clinton. But this was the first time when
the other Republican candidates treated Mitt Romney like the front-runner.
Most reporters at the other debates sat in amazement at previous debates of
the fact nobody else was seeming to care about the fact that Mitt Romney
was floating above the fray. That did not happen in this debate. People
tried to take Mitt Romney on, on health care, as you saw Rick Perry did
there on immigration.

He`s in the crosshairs of everybody else. That`s a big moment. And
he flinched. He got rattled.

And there`s no question in that exchange with Perry, Perry didn`t
look great, but Mitt Romney looked like his big sore toes had been stepped
on and that`s going to open the door to a lot more attacks in the coming
days, negative advertising, and certainly in these debates, everyone is
going to be on Mitt Romney the way they hadn`t been before.

O`DONNELL: Mark McKinnon, did you see a winner in the debate other
than President Obama?

debate just proves this thing is not settled yet. As John said, Romney
last night, some blood was drawn and it showed the man who would be king
may be vulnerable and that Cain lost some altitude and that Perry woke up
and he`s got his batteries strapped on now.

So, you know, I think we have to just stand back and realize and
focus on Iowa and focus on New Hampshire, don`t look too far. Don`t look
too far to South Carolina or Florida, it`s meaningless, we`ll just have to
see what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire. So, it`s time to really start
thinking about what the impact of these debates right now is going to be on
the first election, which is going to be in Iowa.

So that`s where I think we need to start focusing our attention.

O`DONNELL: Ron Carey, before I get to you, I want us all to listen
to a spot where your former boss, Michele Bachmann, was actually one of the
voices of reason in last night`s debate. Let`s listen to this.


women right now all across this country, and moms across this country,
whose husbands through no fault of their own are losing their job and they
can`t keep that house and there are women who are losing that house.
President Obama has failed you on this issue of housing and foreclosures.

I will not fail you on this issue. I will turn this country around.


O`DONNELL: Ron, she didn`t get anything like the response that
Herman Cain got for saying if you`re not rich, blame yourself. Michele
Bachmann in there says, actually refers to people losing their jobs, quote,
"through no fault of their own." That apparently is not the Republican
view of how people lose their jobs in this country.

think was playing the gender card. Her numbers have fallen dramatically.
And she`s trying to reach out to the women voters in the Republican Party
and saying, I`m one of you. I understand some of the concerns you have
there. That`s fine because she is trying to reinvigorate her campaign
that`s fallen dramatically.

But, you know, if you look at the debate performance last night, you
don`t hear anybody talking about Michele Bachmann. I don`t think there was
anything memorable she did say.

The show was Rick Perry and Mitt Romney going after it and I thought
Rick Santorum did a fantastic job going after Mitt Romney on health care
and really injecting himself as a leader in the campaign and debates, going
after and trying to press the attack on Mitt Romney.

So, that plus the Herman Cain 9-9-9. That`s what people remember,
not Michele Bachmann`s efforts to try to bring gender into the debate.

O`DONNELL: Ron, how long can Michele Bachmann stay in the race?

CAREY: Well, she can stay in quite some time. She does have an
amazing small donor base of almost a quarter million people that gave money
to her in the past. Only if only 30 percent write her a check for $25, it
adds up to some real money and you can run a low-budget campaign in Iowa
where it`s really getting out there into the coffee shops and having your
bus go from town to town.

So, she can stay through Iowa I think. I`d be surprised if he
doesn`t stay through Iowa. But if she doesn`t succeed in Iowa, then I
don`t see any path for her to go further because New Hampshire is going to
be ugly and South Carolina is not going to be viable for her if she can`t
win in Iowa.

O`DONNELL: And, Mark McKinnon, can Rick Perry climb back into this
thing? He sunk down into a distant third in single digits.

MCKINNON: Absolutely. You know, it was interesting "Wall Street
Journal" poll in the last week that showed that among the most conservative
voters polled, they`re those who are most likely to show up and vote, Rick
Perry was actually leading Romney. He`s got $15 million packed away and
he`s got a smart team. And they`re going to be targeted in Iowa where they
have upside opportunity.

So, I don`t count him out at all. I think there will be a second act
to the Perry campaign.

O`DONNELL: John, with the polling mark just cited, Romney has to do
everything he can to keep Herman Cain in the race.

Buy books. He`s buying Herman Cain books.

HEILEMANN: Cain`s buying his own book and Romney who famously bought
his own book back in the day doing the same thing. Look, they are propping
Herman Cain up. You go to the spin room at the debate as I did last night
and you hear the Romney people. You were disparaging my friend, Stewart.

I`m joking, I`m joking.

O`DONNELL: He`s a friend of mine. I got to ignore what he says
about his guy.

HEILEMANN: All of those guys sat back there last night and said, you
know, Rick Perry desperate -- there`s a reason why Herman Cain is in the
lead with us, he`s the other businessman in the group. These are the guys
with the private sector experience, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain. They talk
about Herman Cain as if they want to have him on the ticket.

WAGNER: Herman Cain is his brother. Rick Perry`s brother.

HEILEMANN: Exactly right. Look, they want as many of those guys to
stay in and stay viable. They want Michele Bachmann. You saw him throw a
softball question to Bachmann at the previous debate. They want Bachmann
to be viable. They want Cain to be viable.

And there is -- the question for them is do they -- if they can keep
all these people propped up, is there an opening for Mitt Romney to go to
Iowa, and sneak in and win the caucuses because the conservative vote is so
divided? Can he sneak in and win the vote and then win New Hampshire and
shut this whole thing down?

That will be the fundamental strategic decision they have to make in
the coming weeks. Are we going to play in Iowa or not? If you have enough
in these conservatives keep dividing the pie up there, it`s going to be
very tempting for them to do that.

O`DONNELL: Alex, you get the feeling Romney wouldn`t mind saying
good-bye to Rick Santorum? He`s guy who from the sidelines, he gets in
really hard hitting shots and does not make a fool of himself like some of
the other ones do.

WAGNER: I think, you know, beyond the fisticuffs quite literally and
verbally with Rick Perry, it was Rick Santorum that gave Mitt Romney the
hardest time last night. You know, Rick Santorum has been ideologically
very consistent throughout all this and I think in certain circles can make
a relatively good case. He`s just got no platform.

In that sense, the fact that he sort of continues to be the gnat in
everyone`s ear is the nuisance and they would like to see him out of this

O`DONNELL: All right, panel, stay with us. We`re going to go to a
break. We`re going to come back to this.

Coming up, more on last night`s debate including the multiple attacks
on Romney for his health care bill.

Also ahead, the promises you heard in that debate cannot be kept.
That`s in the "Rewrite."

And Ohio might want to rethink its position on regulations,
especially regulations on letting private citizens keep lions and tigers.
After a man released dozens of very dangerous animals in Ohio.


O`DONNELL: Coming up, nobody won in last night`s debate except
perhaps President Obama. But you could argue that Mitt Romney lost. Alex
Wagner, John Heilemann, Ron Carey and Mark McKinnon return to talk about
the hits Mitt Romney took on health care.

And guess who thinks Herman Cain`s 9-9-9 plan is a good idea? Good
idea for him, anyway. Donald Trump.


O`DONNELL: The Republican presidential candidates have all
consistently agreed on one thing: the health care reform bill that
President Obama signed into law is bad, very bad.

All but one of the Republican presidential candidates agree that the
health care reform bill that Governor Mitt Romney signed into law is bad --
very, very bad.


ROMNEY: Balancing the federal budget and that starts with repealing
Obama care.

credible, Mitt, when it comes to repealing Obamacare. Your plan was the
basis for Obama care.

ROMNEY: I was asked, is this something you`d have the whole nation
do? And I said no. This was something that was crafted for Massachusetts.

SANTORUM: What you did is exactly what Barack Obama did.

government behind Romney care, not as much as Obamacare, but a heck of a
lot more than your campaign is admitting.

ROMNEY: Actually, Newt, we got the idea of individual mandate from

GINGRICH: That`s not true.

ROMNEY: You did support an individual mandate?

GINGRICH: Yes, sir.

ROMNEY: OK. That`s what I`m saying. We got the idea from you and
the Heritage Foundation.


O`DONNELL: We`re back with our panel, national affairs editor for
"New York Magazine," John Heilemann, who was at the debate last night.
MSNBC political analyst, Alex Wagner; former adviser to the George W. Bush
and McCain campaigns Mark McKinnon; and former chief of staff to Michele
Bachmann, Ron Carey.

Thank you all for staying with me.

I just want to show to you, just to add to the video library on Mitt
Romney and health care, here is Mitt Romney on "Meet the Press" in 2007.


ROMNEY: Now, I happen to like what we did. I think it`s a good
model for other states, maybe not every state, but most.


O`DONNELL: So much for the "it was only for Massachusetts." We`re
going to see an awful lot of that "Meet the Press" clip in campaigns ads,
aren`t we, John?

HEILEMANN: We sure are. And, you know, it`s been a while. Look,
Mitt Romney has done a good job so far at defusing this issue up until now.
There was always a time when you knew it was going to come, when the
ideological critique at Mitt Romney as not being sufficiently conservative
for today`s Republican Party was going to come at him from every angle.

This has got to be exhibit A. The individual mandate is something
many, many Republicans thing in principle is wrong not just for the federal
government but any state to adopt. And Romney is going to start to be
hammered on this.

I think, again, last night, what we`ll remember the debate for is the
moment when his artful dodging on this issue, the rest of the Republican
candidates said, that`s enough, we`re going to take you on in this head-on
and he`s going to have to defend it in a much more forthright way than he
has so far.

O`DONNELL: It`s really that the other candidates found their voices
and found the way to swing the bat on this thing.

WAGNER: Yes. I mean, absolutely. We saw turning of the tide. It
was like Mitt Romney, you are the effigy, you are the straw man. We`re
going after you.

And it`s your time. I mean, and really it`s Mitt Romney backing away
from his own shadow. I mean, I think it`s a question as to whether the
American public is going to say -- well, we believe what you`re saying, or
really I think it`s an either/or proposition for them on this because you
look at Massachusetts and look at Obamacare and know the president is going
to be saying over and over and over again as he has, as senior advisers did
today, Romneycare was the model for Obamacare, for the Affordable Care Act.

O`DONNELL: Mark McKinnon, my proven inability to read Republican
primary politics, I had always thought Mitt Romney simply could not survive
as a Republican presidential primary candidate because of his health care
connection. He is a front-runner. He has survived so far.

Can he make it all the way? Is this thing -- is this the thing that
can stop him, the most potent thing that can stop him?

MCKINNON: I think it is. And the surprise has been that so far he`s
been able to handle that issue. We all thought it would wrap around his
axel much earlier. But he showed great candidate skills and learned a lot
from the last election.

But last night I think was just reaffirmed for everybody, reminded
everybody this issue was kryptonite for him and they pushed out the
kryptonite and you could see him start to wilt and you could see him start
to fade and you can see the others gaining strength as he was losing his.

So, I think everybody smells that now and I think he`s going to get a
lot more of it in the next debates. And, you know, the next debates I
think are going to get really interesting now. I think everybody is going
to have to come with their body armor loaded up.

O`DONNELL: Ron Carey, the new NBC poll of South Carolina and Florida
Republican voters goes to another problem that appears to be, it doesn`t
exactly say how it plays in the campaign, but the question, the Mormon
question, that we all don`t even quite know how to talk about.

For example, in South Carolina, the NBC poll found that of Republican
primary voters, 53 percent say, no, a Mormon is not a Christian. In
Florida, 42 percent of Republican primary voters say a Mormon is not a

And then there`s another question. A recent poll, it asked to
describe Mitt Romney in one word -- 60 percent used the word Mormon. The
next thing down was health care at 17 percent.

How -- did -- is there a way to factor in what the Mormon factor is
in Republican primary voting and how it`s going to affect Romney going

CAREY: It`s an issue, but it`s a pretty small issue. I mean, it
pales in comparison to what we`ve been talking about with health care,
because health care is the Achilles` heel for Mitt Romney. And that`s what
he`s going to have to fend off.

There may be a handful of people there this is a concern, but those
same people are going to have just as much, if not a bigger concern, with
his flip-flopping issues on the issues that are important to them as

So I don`t think it`s going to be deciding issue, but it`s something,
it is the gnat that is going to continue to haunt him a bit, but it`s not
going to be the issue that`s going to take him out. It will be health
care. I mean, Mark was exactly right. If he is going to go down, it`s
going to be health care.

But what we have to keep in mind in the Republican primary circles,
it goes back to our last discussion about keeping everybody viable. You
don`t need to win a majority of the vote to become the nominee. If you
look back to 2008, John McCain was getting 25 percent or 30 percent in
South Carolina and that was enough to win and thread the needle, become our
nominee. He didn`t start getting a majority of the vote until much later
in the process.

So Romney seems to have that stable 20 percent, 25 percent of the
Republican establishment there. He just needs to be able to get
incrementally 5 percent or 10 percent more to be able to vanquish his
opponents. Unless, the conservatives, the more conservatives within the
party is able to consolidate behind one champion, he`ll probably become the
John McCain of 2008 and be able to thread the needle and become the
establishment candidate that`s able to prevail over the majority of the
party that`s more conservative but are fragmented among many candidates.

O`DONNELL: John, quickly before we go, they`re talking about it even
when they`re not talking about it. There`s a Newt Gingrich who talks about
religion at length up there on the debate stage saying the only important
thick thing is you have faith, have a religion, must not be an atheist,
that`s the religion test, you must not be an atheist but can be anything

When Gingrich is talking about that, he`s talking about the Mormon
question without going directly to it.

HEILEMANN: Any time they talk about religion in this Republican
primary, they`re in effect talking about Mormonism. And, look, Mitt Romney
did a tremendous job last night. He gave -- that was the strongest moment
in the debate when he talked about how he shouldn`t be subject to a
religious test.

But this party is a Southern party. And what we`re going to see
especially if Rick Perry, because of his financial resources if he is
resurgent and we start to see this becomes a Romney/Perry race as it plays
out, we`re going to see a difference between the northern part of the
Republican primaries and the southern part. In the southern states where
Rick Perry will be strongest, there is a strong feeling among a lot of
evangelical voters that Mormonism is not Christianity, that it`s a cult and
Perry will exploit that and we will see this throughout, especially if
those end up mano-a-mano as we go forward.

O`DONNELL: And, of course, the funny thing is that Democrats and
liberals would have no problem as they showed in Massachusetts when they
elected Romney, the Mormon, governor. They have no problem at all.

HEILEMANN: Yes, and rightly so.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, Alex Wagner, Mark McKinnon, and, Ron
Carey, thank you for joining me tonight.

Even though Herman Cain`s 9-9-9 plan was attacked from all sides last
night, he does not have -- he does now have one big defender. Donald



CAIN: The state tax is an apple. We are replacing the current tax
code with oranges. So it`s not correct to mix apples and oranges.

ROMNEY: Herman, are you saying that the state sales tax will also go

CAIN: No. That`s an apple.


CAIN: We are replacing a bunch of oranges.


O`DONNELL: Herman Cain is having some trouble defending his 9-9-9
plan, especially now that people are catching on to the fact that it will
result in some Americans paying more in taxes, a fact Cain was forced to
concede for the very first time on Sunday`s "Meet the Press."


DAVID GREGORY, "MEET THE PRESS" MODERATOR: You`re acknowledging this
morning, which I haven`t heard you do before, that there are individuals
who are going to pay more in taxes.

CAIN: There are some, yes.

GREGORY: You think those people are going to rally around tax reform
where the wealthy pay less and middle class and lower income folks pay

CAIN: Yes.


O`DONNELL: How many will pay more? According to the Tax Policy
Center, at least 84 percent of households in the United States will pay
more in taxes under the 9-9-9 plan. A family of four making 50,000 dollars
a year, married, filing jointly, with two dependent children, would see a
dramatic increase.

That family making 50,000 a year currently pays about 8,400 dollars in
payroll taxes and federal income tax. That`s their federal tax burden,
8,400 dollars. Under Cain`s 9-9-9, their tax burden would increase,
federal tax burden, to 13,500 dollars.

That same family making one million a year -- that same shaped family
making a million a year is currently paying 289,000 in federal income tax
after a 50,000 dollar mortgage deduction and a 25,000 dollar charitable
deduction, which is reasonable to assume at that income level.

Under Herman Cain`s 9-9-9 plan, that million-dollar family would pay
nine percent, 90,000 dollars in federal income tax. Assuming they put
300,000 dollars or so in the bank and spend the rest, the remainder of that
spending, they would pay 55,000 dollars in federal sales taxes, the new
Cain federal sales tax.

That would bring their total federal tax burden to only 145,000
dollars. So Herman Cain`s 9-9-9 plan would result in the family making
50,000 dollars a year paying 5,000 more in federal taxes. The family
making a million dollars a year would be paying 144,000 dollars less in
federal taxes.

No surprise, Donald Trump really likes that.


DONALD TRUMP, "THE APPRENTICE"" 9-9-9, whether you like it or don`t -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people don`t, a lot of conservative
economic experts say it`s a disaster.

TRUMP: But it`s something. OK? It`s something. He`s putting
something out there. Other people are putting out 97-page reports --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Do you agree with 9-9-9?

TRUMP: No, I don`t agree with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he puts out there and it`s wrong, just because
it`s something, does that make a difference?

TRUMP: He`s not just catering to me. He`s catering to a lot of
people. They understand the simplicity of it. It`s simple. It`s concise.
It`s easier to understand.

Now, I will say this: I think the sales tax part of it is very tough.
Do I like being brought down to nine percent? I love it.


TRUMP: Will sales tax effect me? Not to much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you agree with a lot of conservative experts
who say that this takes the burden completely off the wealthy and puts it
squarely on the shoulders of the poor and middle class?

TRUMP: I think he`s going to amend it. I think he`s going to -- I
don`t think he`s completed it.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is LAST WORD senior Trump correspondent,
Jonathan Capehart, "Washington Post" editorial writer and MSNBC
contributor. Thanks for joining me tonight.

be here.

O`DONNELL: Have you got to speak to the great man? You have Donald`s
number. You chat with him. Have you spoken to the great man about 9-9-9?

CAPEHART: No, I have not talked to him about 9-9-9. I have not
spoken to him today. I did talk to him before his tele-town hall with
Michele Bachmann.

O`DONNELL: I -- there`s just wonderful Trump inconsistency within one
answer. He`s up here at the top of his page in the transcript of what he
just said -- he`s saying the simplicity of it, it`s simple, it`s concise.
That`s what he loves about 9-9-9. Then he says, well, you have to amend
it. In other words, you have to complicate it.

CAPEHART: He said it`s not done. That`s the very last thing he said.
I think what Donald Trump likes about it is that it`s catchy. It`s
something that trips off of everyone`s lips when you ask, who`s Herman
Cain? Oh, 9-9-9 guy.

But once you get into the details, it`s horrifying. Even Donald
Trump, in that sound bite that you just showed, he says, I don`t agree with
it. But he does like the fact that his tax rate will be brought down to
nine percent. He loves that. Of course he would. Anybody would.

The nine percent sales tax, of course he says, it`s not going to
affect me much. Because what does he care?

O`DONNELL: Right. Right. And so every -- every single analysis you
can do of this shows that it is a massive tax increase on 84 percent of the
people, or more. And it actually is not as good -- I was checking upper
incomes. You have to get to a pretty serious high income before it starts
to work for you -- to work for you consistently, because he eliminates the
mortgage deduction. He eliminates a bunch of deductions that you can`t

So -- but Herman Cain cares nothing about any fact that gets presented
to him on this. And he just -- he will just continue to boldly assert, oh,
no, no, it does this and it does that and its revenue neutral. There`s
nothing that`s ever going to shake him.

CAPEHART: Not up until last night. I think we hit a watershed moment
with Herman Cain and this 9-9-9 plan because up until that moment, he
wasn`t really taken seriously. 9-9-9 was about getting his name out there,
making a splash and he did. He`s now at the top of every poll. He`s at
the top of South Carolina`s poll.

But when you have people from the right on that stage attacking every
single sentence of your plan, you have people from the left automatically
attacking your plan, and then you have places like the Tax Policy Center,
you know, nonpartisan, just looking at the numbers, hammering you, you have
no choice but to, if you want to be considered a credible candidate, be
able to answer all those questions specifically, and not just say you
haven`t read the plan.

And the idea that Donald Trump just said, well, he`s going to have to
amend it, it`s not finished, that`s unacceptable. You cannot become
elected president of the United States and present a plan that sweeping and
that radical and only have it be a rough draft.

O`DONNELL: Quickly before we go, his supporters and he seem to --
Cain -- seem to think that all he needs to do is not back down, that that`s
-- he doesn`t need to command facts. He just needs to hold his ground and
assert that he`s right.

CAPEHART: At a certain point, though, it`s all going to crumble,
because it might work well in a debate, but when the folks in Iowa go to
caucus and the folks in New Hampshire go to vote in their primaries,
they`re going to be looking at hard and fast evidence to see whether this
person should be in the Oval Office.

Quite frankly, they`re going to look at him by then and say, no, he`s

O`DONNELL: MSNBC analyst and our Donald Trump translator, Jonathan
Capehart, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, presidential candidates always make promises
they cannot get through Congress. And voters always fall for it. That`s
in the Rewrite.


O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s Rewrite. At last night`s Republican
presidential debate, the candidates did what presidential candidates always
do. They lied.


ROMNEY: I said time and again, Obama-care is bad news. It`s
unconstitutional. It costs way too much money, a trillion dollars. And if
I`m president of the United States, I we`ll repeal it for the American

going to win this thing. We`re going to repeal it. I will.

manufacturing to zero, repeal all regulations effecting manufacturers that
cost over 100 million dollars and replace them with something that`s
friendly, they can work with.

BACHMANN: I last Saturday, I was the very first candidate that signed
a pledge that said by a date certain, I will build a double-walled fence
with an area of security and neutrality in between. I will build that. I
will build the fence. I will enforce English as the official language of
the United States government.

And every -- every person who comes into this country will have to
agree that they will not receive taxpayer subsidized benefits of any
American citizen --


BACHMANN: Thank you.


O`DONNELL: "I will repeal it." "I will build it." Presidents can`t
repeal anything. Presidents can`t build anything. To be fair, Democratic
candidates for president tell the same kind of lies. The lies that, in
effect, imagine a fictional world in which there is no House of
Representatives and no United States Senate, a world in which presidents
get elected and just do things, instead of the real world where presidents
get elected and beg Congress to do things.

Presidents must frequently beg the chairman or chairwoman of the House
Ways & Means Committee, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, as
well as the chairman of the Appropriations Committees in both the House and
the Senate, because that`s where the money is. That`s where all the money

All of the federal government`s money, everything that it spends is
under the control of the chairmen of those four committees. They control
it all. If, like George W. Bush, you are a Republican who is asking those
chairmen for a tax cut, the politically easiest thing for any politician,
Democrat or Republican, to do, it is very likely that they will happily
give you some version of your tax cut, and your tax cut will pass both
houses with way more than enough votes.

If you`re Bill Clinton in 1993 and asking those chairmen to give you a
tax increase after having campaigned on a tax cut, those chairmen, if they
happen to be Democrats, which they were, will get that tax cut increase for
you. But it will be very hard work. And it will pass, as it did then, by
one vote.

If you`re President Barack Obama and you`re asking Congress to
increase the top income tax rate and the House Ways & Means Committee
chairman is a Republican, there is precisely a zero percent chance that you
are going to get your wish.

We know that Michele Bachmann will never be president. But if some
other Republican is elected president someday and wants to build a double-
walled fence that Bachmann dreams of along our southern border, that
president will have to go to the House of Representatives and the Senate
and beg them to introduce a bill that will do that, that will authorize the
building of such a fence.

That authorization bill will have to then pass both the House and the
Senate. And then no fence will be built, unless and until the president
can convince the House and the Senate to pass another bill, the bill that
appropriates the money to build the fence that Congress has already legally

So the right way to say what Michele Bachmann lies about on that
debate stage is, if I am elected president, I will ask Congress to
authorize the building of a fence. And then I will ask Congress to
appropriate the money to build the fence that Congress has authorized.

OK. She doesn`t have to say it exactly that we, with all the
legislative process involved, but she does have to acknowledge that it is
up to the Congress to authorize the building of the fence and to
appropriate the money for building of the fence.

And all she can really do is to beg or to cheerlead Congress to do
that. Here is the correct way for a president to describe his legislative
hopes and dreams.


needs to address the challenges facing Social Security. I traveled the
country to talk with the American people. They understand that Social
Security is headed for serious financial trouble. And they expect their
leaders in Washington to address the problem.

Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It`s called the American
Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this piece of

Everything in here is the kind of proposal that`s been supported by
both Democrats and Republicans, including many who sit here tonight.


O`DONNELL: President Obama`s jobs plan got much farther than
President Bush`s Social Security plan. President Obama`s jobs plan was
actually debated and came to a vote in the United States Senate, where it
was then blocked by the Republicans. President Bush`s Social Security
reform plan never came to a vote in the Senate or the House, not on the
floor or even in a committee.

President Bush`s plan never even received a hearing in the House or
the Senate. The Republican-controlled House and Senate completely ignored
the Republican president`s proposal on Social Security.

As you watch the rest of the Republican debates and the rest of the
presidential campaign, watch like a professional and remember what the
candidates and the media always forget, and what fans of President Obama
have had to learn the hard way: the power to govern resides almost entirely
in the Congress.



going to say we`ve got about 35 calls since `04, `05 area that we ran on
our computer, that we`ve been to Mr. Thompson`s house for some sort of
problem with the animals.


O`DONNELL: That was Sheriff Matt Lutz asking not to be quoted in his
first national television press conference. The sheriff was explaining why
his deputies in Ohio had to shoot and kill 48 of 56 wild animals, including
wolves, bears, lions, tigers and monkeys that were let loose by their owner
just before the owner apparently then killed himself.

Tonight, a monkey with Herpes B is still on the loose in Ohio.
Currently Ohio has no rules regulating the sale and ownership of exotic
animals like this. Former Democratic Governor Ted Strickland issued an
executive order during his last days in office, but current Republican
Governor John Kasich allowed that order to expire in April.

Joining me now, Democratic Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a member
of Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Thank you very joining me
tonight, congressman.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Thank you very much.

O`DONNELL: How could this happen? What do we need to do to prevent
this kind of thing?

KUCINICH: Well, what we know is that the owner opened up the gates
and let all the animals out. Ted Strickland was right when he put up a
temporary ban in January of 2011 on the sale and purchase of exotic
animals. It was up to the Department of Natural Resources to implement
rules. They didn`t do that.

Governor Kasich apparently, at this point, has no intention of
following up on the action of Governor Strickland. And he basically is
sending it to the Department of Natural Resources for them to do something
about it.

I don`t think anything is going to be done. Ohio is one of the
easiest states in the Union to be able to deal in these exotic pets. They
have auctions across the state. They -- every type of animal you could
imagine is auctioned off. And as a result, you see the kind of tragedies
that we have today, where there`s really no way of stopping these

Today was, of course, the worst, but Humane Society of the United
States points out that since 2003, there`s been at least 22 incidents that
have involved these exotic animals, where people have been injured and --
or in this case, the animals, unfortunately, have -- 48 of them have been

O`DONNELL: Congressman, it seems that there`s a public safety issue
here. These animals, it`s not like having a dog or cat, obviously. It
requires real training and expertise to be able to care for animals like
this and keep both the animals safe and any people living near these kinds
of animals safe.

It seems there`s a clear governing interest here.

KUCINICH: There is. I mean, certainly at least you need regulation.
But there`s another issue here, Too, Lawrence. That is that we should be
focusing on protecting the natural habitats of these animals in their
native countries, where they`re from.

Because, you know, philosophically, what in the world are we doing,
taking animals from the wild and people trying to raise them like they`re a
dog and a -- or a cat? It is fundamentally wrong. And it can only lead to
tragedy, where someone gets mauled or killed. And the public needs to be
protected. But the animals need to be protected as well.

This is really heartbreaking, when, you know, we see not only are
animals removed from their habitat, but they can be penned up, as they were
with this particular individual, and then he decides, for whatever reason,
to let them out, takes his own life.

This is a nightmare, but we need to get back to the regulation.
Governor Kasich should take head from this horrible event and take up what
Governor Strickland did, enact a temporary ban, let the ODNR, Ohio
Department of Natural Resources come forward with some rules to regulate

The federal government, of course, is going to have to take a careful
look at this. There`s at least ten states where efforts to try to regulate
the sale or purchase of exotic animals are basically futile.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, thanks for joining us
tonight and explaining this situation in your state.

KUCINICH: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" is up next. Good evening,
Rachel. >


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