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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Krystal Ball, Jonathan Capehart, Karen Finney, Tim Dickinson, Ted Deutch, Maureen Russo, Andy Cohen

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Wow, talk about a coincidence. The biggest
liar of the presidential campaign is raising money tonight in Vegas, with
America`s biggest pathological liar.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney accepts and plays the Trump card.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Doubling down Vegas style.


ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Mitt Romney`s fund-raiser.

BASHIR: A $2 million Las Vegas fund-raiser.

WAGNER: With Donald Trump tonight.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to say thank you to
Donald Trump for his endorsement.



WAGNER: Donald Trump.




CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: It`s a total head scratcher.

MTICHELL: Trump is once against questioning the president`s birth

DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: A lot of people are question his birth

MATTHEWS: The scam of birtherism.

WAGNER: The place of birth movement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are courting disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about raising money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney is not going to have trouble raising

JANSING: How do you let a guy --


JANSING: -- run a $2 million fundraiser.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Choosing to actually stand next to this guy.

JANSING: To think that the president of the United States is

MITCHELL: What is the benefit here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just don`t even --

TRUMP: I thought your introduction was highly inappropriate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is some very nasty undertones.

WAGNER: Is this scary?

TRUMP: He was born in Kenya.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most obnoxious swill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald, you`re beginning to sound a little

GEORGE WILL: This bloviating ignoramus --

JANSING: A kind of feud between Donald Trump and George Will.

MATTHEWS: George Will.

JANSING: Here`s how it started.

WILL: The cost of appearing with this bloviating ignoramus.

MATTHEWS: George Will questioned what Mitt Romney has to gain --

WILL: I don`t understand the benefit.

MATTHEWS: -- by associating himself with Donald Trump?

JANSING: Trump tweeted that.

WAGNER: Donald Trump tweeted today.

JANSING: "George Will may be the dumbest and most overrated political
commentator of all time.

WILL: I don`t understand the benefit, what is Romney seeking?


O`DONNELL: The Romney campaign gets to celebrate their victory in the
Texas primary tonight and they`re clinching of the Republican nomination,
officially. They get to celebrate that tonight in Las Vegas, where the
Romney campaign collided with the bloviating ignoramus, permanently
publicity tour that is the life of Donald Trump.

Here is the bloviating ignoramus on today. Now, you have one second
to guess what he`s going to talk about. Time`s up.


TRUMP: Nothing`s changed my mind.

His mother was never in the hospital. They don`t even know which
hospital it was. His grandmother said he was born in Kenya.

I`ve been known as being a very smart guy for a long time. I don`t
consider myself a birther or not birther. But there are some major
questions here.

A lot of people don`t think it was an authentic certificate. Many
people put this announcement in because they wanted to get the benefit of
being so-called born in this country.


O`DONNELL: Some of the bloviating ignoramus`s previously willing
servants of his self-promotion have grown a bit frustrated with him.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN: You`re beginning to sound a little ridiculous.


O`DONNELL: Beginning to sound a little ridiculous. Well, on CNN,
maybe, but not if you listen a word Donald Trump has said for the last
three years our so. The man has been ridiculous since America first
learned his name.

Wolf Blitzer took Trump`s argument about the president`s birth
certificate on its own terms and wonderfully and relentlessly confronted
him on his assertions that make absolutely no sense. Trump tried to
insist, to Wolf Blitzer that many, many, many people simply don`t believe
President Obama`s birth certificate is authentic and Wolf Blitzer simply
wanted to know who those people are.


BLITZER: Give me a name.

TRUMP: There are many people -- I don`t give names.


O`DONNELL: Of course Trump has no names, as the interview made
absolutely plain. Wolf Blitzer asked a follow-up question that I`ve been
dying to ask, since the day Trump lied and said he sent investigators to
Hawaii to investigate the president`s birth certificate.


BLITZER: Tell us with your people who were investigating in Hawaii,
what they found?

TRUMP: We don`t have to go into old news. That`s old news.


O`DONNELL: As to Mitt Romney`s reaction to Trump`s madness and his
definition of old news, he told reporters this last night.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t agree with all the
people that support me and my guess is they don`t all agree with everything
I believe in. But I need to get 50.1 percent or more and I`m appreciative
to have the help of a lot of good people.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Democratic strategist Krystal Ball and
"Washington Post" opinion writer Jonathan Capehart.

Thank you both for joining me.

I think -- I think you both and other close observers of this show
have figured out by now that I like and respect George Will, although I
disagree with him on most things. But, you know, there are actually times,
there are some times when I really, really love George Will, just love him,
like this Sunday when he said this.


WILL: I do not understand the cost-benefit here. The costs are
clear, the benefits -- what voter is going to vote for him because he`s
seen with Donald Trump? The cost of appearing this with bloviating
ignoramus is obvious it seems to me.


O`DONNELL: Now, I rarely get to explain something about Republican
politics to someone as smart as George Will. But, Krystal and Jonathan, my
view is very simple here. The Republicans and Mitt Romney have made the
cold calculation that they may win with 50.1 percent of the vote, but they
want 100 percent of the racist vote in America. They don`t want a single
racist to stay home. And so, they got the pied piper of American racism
and that is now Donald Trump to do his tune about hatred of the president
and the birth certificate.

And, Krystal, I think George Will is too noble a Republican to ever
have had down and strategized how to get the racist vote, which is
something, in fact, Nixon and other Republicans since then have strategized

KRYSTAL BALL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, I think you`re right about
that, and Donald Trump -- I mean, certainly embracing Donald Trump and his
ridiculous continued assertions that the president was not -- he said
clearly he was born in Kenya, like he is not even -- there was no doubt in
his mind that the president was born in the United States. Of course he
doesn`t actually believe that, but it`s a great way for him to promote

And other thing, we talk so much about the Joe Ricketts plan, to
attack the president based on Reverend Wright. And everybody came out
against that and said that`d be a terrible idea and it`s not in a proper
spirit of the campaign. Well, what they decided to do instead, instead of
using the racial Jeremiah Wright attacks, they have decided to finance a
film calling the Obama ideology anti-colonial Luo tribesmen based on a
Dinesh D`Souza book that created such a controversy last year.

So, clearly, this is a strategy that at least some in the Republican
Party believe will be effective.

And to your point, Lawrence, I mean, Mitt Romney at some point can`t
say oh, well I don`t agree with everything my supporters say. Donald Trump
is not some supporter, he is a surrogate. He tapes robocalls for Mitt
Romney in Michigan. He`s doing a very prominent fundraiser. He`s been
asked by the Romney campaign to go and do some of these interviews.

So this is not just some guy. You also think about someone like Ted
Nugent who Mitt Romney actually courted his endorsement and he said about
the President Obama, he`s a piece of et cetera, and I told him to go such
on my machine gun.

These are serious questions and Romney at some point if he is going to
have the character to lead this country, is going to have to say this is
not acceptable and it`s not what I`m about. So far, he has not done that.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, absolutely no surprise in what Donald
Trump said today, the Romney campaign knows that this is the liturgy of
Donald Trump. This is what he loves to talk about. They know that he has
race-based analysis and demands, that he issues about President Obama`s
birth certificate and President Obama`s college transcripts, President
Obama`s law school grades, he doesn`t believe there`s anything legitimate
that President Obama has learned in his lifetime.

And the campaign knows he`s going to say this. They cannot have
entered into this honeymoon with Donald Trump without full knowledge.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Without full knowledge.
But, you know, Lawrence, on a night like tonight, a night when Governor
Romney has clinched the Republican nomination by winning the Texas primary
to get the 1,144 delegates that he needs to become the Republican nominee.
On the night that this happens, we`re now mixed up in the birther nonsense,
which is something that, you know, I have argued for a very long time that
even though Mitt Romney is a presumptive nominee, and by this count,
officially the nominee, was still trying to convince the base of the party,
which is increasingly far right and a lot of -- I won`t say a lot -- many
folks of the far right, on the extremist ring of the Republican Party are
clinging to these birther notions, he`s still trying to convince these
folks, Romney is, that he`s one of them. That he is a conservative, that
he is someone that can be their standard bearer and go after the president
in the way they want him to.

As Krystal was saying, if he`s not going to criticize Ted Nugent and
he`s not going to criticize Rush Limbaugh, and he`s not going to criticize
Donald Trump, at what point does Governor Romney show himself to be not
just the Republican nominee for the president of the United States, but a
leader in this country?

At some point, someone is going to have to convince him and tell him
to stand up in the way that Senator McCain did in 2008, when as we have
seen many times in the video, the woman at that town hall forum, saying
that Barack Obama, she didn`t like him, she didn`t trust him because she
was an Arab, and he grabbed the microphone from her and said, "No, ma`am,
no, ma`am." That was leadership. That was statesmanship.

And so far, time and time again, during this campaign, we have not
seen it from Mitt Romney.

O`DONNELL: Well, it`s now time to ask Mitt Romney -- do you think
that -- do you agree with Donald Trump, do you think that George Will is
really dumb, the dumbest? This George Will, this man with a Princeton PhD
is really dumb. Oh, by the way, while we`re at it, do you agree with
George Will that Trump is a bloviating ignoramus?

I mean, this fight with George Will is serious business. He is a
revered figure within a Republican thinking and within the Republican
Party. He is not a man that Trump should be fooling with in this way.

Krystal, I think there`s a spot here where Romney, just in terms of
the George Will factor, is going to have to do something.

BALL: Yes. I think you`re right about that, you know, Lawrence, I`m
sure George Will is doing a lot of soul searching tonight in response to
Donald Trump`s criticisms, I`m sure he`s going to be up late trying to
figure out where he went astray.

But, no, you`re absolutely right, at some point, Romney is going to
have to respond to these things. He can`t keep saying as he did with Rush
Limbaugh, it`s not the language or the words I would have chosen. He can`t
keep saying that I don`t agree with everything my supporters say.

At some point, if the American people are going to see him as
president of the United States, he is going to have to take an actual,
courageous real stand.

O`DONNELL: Well, the Romney campaign is determined not to leave a
single racist vote behind.

Jonathan Capehart and Krystal Ball, thank you both very much for
joining me tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Birtherism is now way out of control in Florida. A 91-
year-old decorated World War II veteran who was born in Brooklyn now has to
go find his birth certificate to prove that he should continue to be able
to be allowed to vote in Florida. Florida Democrats say that that is the
Republican birther movement and that is all about winning the state for
Romney. That`s coming up.

Also ahead, the real money men of the Romney campaign are real
billionaires. We have the author of the "Rolling Stone" page showing who
Romney`s billionaires are and what exactly do they want from Mitt Romney?

And political TV today includes Michelle Obama`s appearance on "The
View." TV wizard Andy Cohen is here to analyze the first lady`s interview
and to make her an offer she cannot refuse.

And in tonight`s rewrite, 65-year-old Mitt Romney is now lecturing us
on civil rights. That`s right, the same Mitt Romney, who sat out the civil
rights movement. The man who does not know that the civil rights issue of
his era was civil rights.


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney spent an hour today talking to real
billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the man who has already donated $25 million
dollars to the 2012 Republican presidential race and not one penny to Mitt
Romney. How much has Donald Trump contributed to Mitt Romney? Two
thousand five hundred dollars.

Up next, "Rolling Stone" tells us which billionaires are donating to
Romney and what they want in return.

And later, Andy Cohen reviews Michelle Obama`s appearance on "The
View" today and he tells us why he is one tweet away from being fired. I`m
putting down the Twitter machine right now.

Mitt Romney will learn tonight in the rewrite for the very first time
that the civil rights issue of his era was civil rights.



SHELDON ADELSON, DONOR: The problem is -- and I have talked to Romney
many, many, many times -- he`s not the bold decision maker like Newt
Gingrich is. He doesn`t want to -- every time I talk to him, he says,
well, let me think about it. Everything I have said to Mitt, let me look
into it. He`s like Obama.


O`DONNELL: That was billionaire Newt Gingrich supporter Sheldon
Adelson back in March. Mitt Romney`s Donald Trump may have grabbed the
headlines today, but Romney`s one hour meeting today with the much richer
casino mogul Sheldon Adelson will be much more important to the Romney
campaign if Adelson starts contributing campaign money.

Sheldon Adelson is the single biggest donor in the 2012 campaign so
far. He has spent more than $25 million on conservative candidates, most
of which went to a Newt Gingrich super PAC.

Donald Trump meanwhile has donated a grand total, total, of $2,500 to
Mitt Romney.

Not one penny of Sheldon Adelson`s millions had gone to Mitt Romney.
But Romney was hoping that would change today.


that they were going to actively support Governor Romney and they`re deeply
committed on defeating Obama.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Tim Dickenson, contributing editor of "The
Rolling Stone," who most recently wrote, "Who`s Behind Mitt? A look at the
candidate`s top 16 billionaire donors."

And, Karen Finney, former DNC communications director and an MSNBC
political analyst.

Karen, according to Newt, it sounds like Adelson is on board with
Romney, and so, the Adelson millions should be flowing from those casino
tables straight into the Romney campaign.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And, you know, it
kind of makes you wonder why it is that the Romney campaign was so worried
about getting another $2 million by showing up with Donald Trump tonight
when he had Shelly in the pocket already and so many other guys as Tim
points out.

O`DONNELL: It ain`t about the money. Karen, it ain`t about the

FINNEY: I`m just playing along.

O`DONNELL: But, you know, look, Donald Trump is the dog whistle for
racist voters. It ain`t about the money.


O`DONNELL: Trump has contributed next to nothing to Romney. He means
nothing to Romney financially. This is about leaving no racist voter

FINNEY: That`s right. Love all, serve all, right? That`s the Romney
campaign. Anybody who`s willing to write a check, we have got an issue for
you, we`re going to take care of you.

O`DONNELL: Yes. So, Tim Dickinson, there`s a bunch of millionaires
and Sheldon Adelson is the most active. But who else does he have lined up
with the money to support him?

TIM DICKINSON, ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE: The biggest guy behind Adelson
is Harold Simmons. He`s a Texas billionaire buyout king of great renown
from the `80s and is now making a big weight in nuclear waste that he wants
to import from 36 states into his dump in west Texas. But to do that, he
needs a very compliant EPA.

And so, I think he`s hoping that Romney will help him out with that.

O`DONNELL: You got a truck of nuclear waste on interstate highways,
Karen. You know, there`s some red tape involved that you might need to
deal with.

FINNEY: Yes, absolutely. I mean, you know, it`s interesting is that,
guess what? The rhetoric that each of these guys that are writing these
big checks want to hear seems to find their way into the stump speeches.

Every time Romney talks about how, you know, regulations are crushing
businesses, I want everybody to think about the millionaires and
billionaires, right, the pesky EPA that`s there to stop all that waste from
getting into our water supply and our air, and those pesky regulations that
you don`t can`t build a home substandard and that you don`t want to be sued
if something happens. I mean, each of these guys, as Tim points out, has
their issue that Romney is there to stand up for.

O`DONNELL: Tim Dickinson, in your exhaustive "Rolling Stone" study of
these billionaires and Romney, sure, there is money. But what I`m
wondering about is, if they didn`t give any money at all, isn`t Romney
already in agreement with what they want to do?

DICKINSON: You know, I think so -- certainly, about half of these
guys are private equity and hedge fund folks. Guys like John Paulson who
were involved in Goldman`s profanity deals and, you know, picking bad

These are folks that sort of won on the Wall Street casino and want to
go back to the way things were. So, Romney is obviously standing with
them, with carried interest loopholes as opposed to Buffett Rule that would
effectively double the taxes on their profits. And, you know, as
billionaires, they have a lot of money to pass on their kids and Romney
does himself and wants to eliminate the inheritance tax. And so, they have
just very natural affinities with Romney.

But they also have specific things that they want. They want help
suing Argentina to collect on defaulted debt. They, like, you know -- just
any number of things that these guys all have sort of pet interests. But
they`re pretty well in sync with Romney to begin with.

FINNEY: And other thing is, in each of these instances, these are
things that will hurt middle class Americans. I mean, if you are someone
who lives in a home that was built substandard and you try to go sue, and
Mitt Romney is president and those regulations are rolled back, you`re
screwed basically.

So, unfortunately, that`s the other part of the story that`s going to
be hard for Democrats to communicate is it`s not just that Romney is
protecting the two sets of rules and the 1 percenters, but the impact of
rolling back many of these things that these guys are opposed to will
actually end hurting middle class Americans.

O`DONNELL: And the impact of the money from the 16 billionaires that
Tim has profiled in "Rolling Stone" is now scaring the Obama re-election
campaign. A friend of the show, John Heilemann, in his "New York" piece
says that senior advisor David Plouffe at the White House told Heilemann,
that the president is likely to be overmatched financially by Romney.
Romney will probably overtake the president will take on the financing of
the campaign.

And Plouffe says, from a political standpoint, I`m almost as worried
about that -- almost as worried about that as I am about the question of
what is the economy going to do in the coming months.

Karen, that money definitely has them scared.

FINNEY: Oh, absolutely. I mean, that they know that they are going
to be outmanned. And remember, that money is going to unregulated -- that
money is going into these super-PACs that can issue ads are kind of a thing
of the past. They will attack this president directly and Mitt Romney has
shown they don`t care about lying to the American people about what`s true
and what`s not. So you know what? Team Obama should be worried about that

O`DONNELL: Tim Dickinson of "Rolling Stone" thank you very much for
your reporting. And, Karen Finney, thank you for joining us tonight.

DICKINSON: Good to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Mitt Romney says education is the civil rights
issue of our era. Too bad he didn`t know that the civil rights issue of
Mitt Romney`s era was civil rights. That`s in tonight`s rewrite.

And Andy Cohen is here to review how Michelle Obama is doing as a
political player on television and why he lives in fear of Twitter. That`s
coming up.


O`DONNELL: Michelle Obama has been doing nonpolitical TV like "The
View" today, but is it really nonpolitical? Andy Cohen analyzes the first
lady`s performance and will make her an offer that Andy thinks she can`t
refuse. That`s coming up.

And in the rewrite tonight, Mitt Romney is now lecturing us on civil
rights. It`s too bad that Mitt Romney did not know that the civil rights
issue of his era was civil rights.



I have voted here for the last almost 15 years around here. And I have
voted in Brooklyn, when I lived in Brooklyn. And I really don`t understand
it. It`s -- to me, it`s like an insult.


O`DONNELL: I know you sound like you voted in Brooklyn, but that`s
what you get for being a registered Democrat in Florida these days, where
Birtherism is running out of control. Republican Governor Rick Scott has
ordered all non-citizens removed from voter rolls. Now, of course, it is
illegal for non-citizens to vote anywhere in the country.

And Florida officials have come up with a list of 180,000 suspects,
people who they think are not citizens and are on the voting rolls. It is
a list that Florida`s former secretary of state did not believe was
credible. The first 2,600 people on the list have now received letters
saying that Florida believes they are not citizens of this country.

But they will be allowed to prove their citizenship within 30 days in
order to stay on the voter rolls. The man you just heard saying he`s been
voting in Florida for 15 years is 91 years old. That`s 91-year-old Bill
Internicola, who was born in Brooklyn. He was awarded a bronze star for
service as a medic at the Battle of the Bulge. And he is a registered

The new NBC News Marist Poll in Florida shows President Obama at 45
percent and Mitt Romney at 40 percent. The new Quinnipiac Florida poll
shows Mitt Romney at 47 percent and President Obama at 41 percent. How
important are the millions of votes cast in Florida? And how important are
the votes that will be blocked by Governor Rick Scott`s sudden interest in
birth certificates?

In 2000, in the final official vote count, only 537 votes separated
George W. Bush and Al Gore.

Joining me now, Congressman Ted Deutch who represents Florida`s 9th
district and Broward County, Florida, resident, U.S. Citizen, Maureen
Russo, who received that same letter from the election supervisor informing
her she had to prove her citizenship.

Thank you both very much for joining me tonight. Maureen, I want to
read to you part of -- for our audience, because you`ve read it, but the
part of the letter that you received from the Board of Supervises. It says
"the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office has received information
from the state of Florida that you are not a United States citizen.
However, you are registered to vote. If you agree with this information,
please complete the enclosed voter acceptance or denial of eligibility
form. If you believe this information is false, you may request a hearing
with the supervisor of elections for the purpose of providing proof that
you are a United States citizen."

Maureen, where does your case stand today after receiving that letter?

MAUREEN RUSSO, 40-YEAR OLD FLORIDA VOTER: Well, I sent a copy of my
passport because I didn`t want to go to a hearing. And I haven`t heard
back in the mail. It`s been about two weeks now. But I did get a call
today from Dr. Brenda Snipes stating that I was eligible to vote. And I
asked her if I could maybe get a new voter`s registration card or
something. She said oh, no, you don`t need that. You can go to the polls
and you`ll be fine to vote. Don`t worry.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Deutch, are you confident that after that
episode, if Maureen goes to the polls with or without her passport, she
actually will be able to vote, given all the hysteria that surrounds this?

REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: No, Lawrence. It`s good to be with
you, by the way. I`m not confident at all. I`m sitting with one U.S.
citizen who was told that she doesn`t have the right to vote. I spent the
morning with Bill Internicola. You just played back some of his thoughts
on this process, a 91-year-old war hero who was told that he`s not a
citizen and he doesn`t have the right to vote.

We have a history in this country, a tragic history of voter
suppression, through violence, through intimidation, through poll taxes.
This is the most insidious form of all, Lawrence. This is a purely
political ploy to strike 180,000 people from the rolls. I don`t have any
confidence at all in this governor. That`s why I think the governor should
stop this process immediately.

O`DONNELL: Maureen, you know, this is the time of year when the worst
news that can arrive in an American mailbox is a high school senior getting
a rejection letter from one of the colleges that he or she has applied to.
But I just can`t imagine, what was it like for you to open your mail box
and pull out this letter from the state of Florida saying to you, you`re
not a citizen. How did that feel?

RUSSO: I was very surprised. I -- it took me right off guard. I
didn`t really know what to do at first. But I have taken action and I`m
hoping it all comes out. I really would like something in writing, though,
of some sort. I don`t want to stand in line to vote -- it`s a very long
line -- and then get up there and them tell me I can`t vote.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Deutch, is there a counter-action to this
intimidation through the mail that is going on in Florida, some counter-
action that you think people should be taking?

DEUTCH: Sure, absolutely. We have to respond to this plan which, as
you point out, Lawrence, these individuals who are receiving this notice
risk losing the right to vote if they don`t respond. In Dade County,
Florida, in Miami-Dade County, with the largest number of voters who have
received this notice, there are already people who by failing to respond
have had their voting status wiped from the voter registry.

That`s what we have to combat. We have called upon my colleagues in
the Congress and the Democratic side of the aisle in Florida have called
upon the governor to stop this purge. There are efforts under way by civil
rights groups and voting rights groups that may ultimately lead to a
lawsuit, which I think is appropriate as well.

There`s so much we have to do to make this stop, to ensure that people
have the right to vote.

O`DONNELL: It`s absolutely outrageous. This is not the American way
of voting. Florida Congressman Ted Deutch and Maureen Russo, thank you
very much for joining us tonight. And Maureen, I hope you do get that
chance to vote.

RUSSO: Thank you. I do too.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up, Bravo`s Andy Cohen will join me to
discuss Michelle Obama`s TV appearances and where Andy thinks Michelle
Obama should appear next on TV? Can you guess? Anywhere? Maybe.

In the Rewrite tonight, Mitt Romney tries to lecture us about civil
rights. Yes, that`s the very same Mitt Romney who sat out the Civil Rights


O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, Mitt Romney tries to Rewrite the
meaning of civil rights.


ROMNEY: Here we are in the most prosperous nation on Earth but
millions of our kids are getting a third world education. And America`s
minority children suffer the most. This is the civil rights issue of our
era. And it`s the greatest challenge of our time.


O`DONNELL: "This is the civil rights issue of our era." Well, it
could be. You could try to make that case, if you were born in, say, 1990
or after that and you`re neighbor 21 years old now, or if you were born
yesterday, like Mitt Romney thinks you were. But Mitt Romney was born in

The civil rights issue of Mitt Romney`s era was civil rights.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to town when Mitt Romney
was 16 years old; 125,000 people marched with Dr. King that day in Detroit.
Mitt Romney wasn`t one of them. There were hundreds and hundreds of 16-
year-olds marching with Dr. King in that crowd of 125,000.

Mitt Romney had a chance to march with Dr. King when he was 16 years
old. He had a chance to march with history. And he didn`t do it. The
last time he was running for president, he lied and said that his father
did do it, did march with Martin Luther King, but his father didn`t do it

The civil rights issue of Mitt Romney`s era was civil rights.

Just after Romney finished his junior year of high school, the civil
rights martyrs James Cheney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were
murdered trying to help people get the right to vote in Mississippi. That
was when hundreds of college students just a few years older than Mitt
Romney were pouring into the south during the Civil Rights Movement.

A month after James Cheney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner gave
their lives for it, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law because the
civil rights issue of Mitt Romney`s era was civil rights. The Voting
Rights Act was signed into law two months after Mitt Romney graduated from
high school. Did Mitt Romney attend any of the civil rights demonstrations
in Detroit during his high school years? No, not one.

Did other American high school kids, both rich and poor, white and
black throughout this country attend civil rights demonstrations in the
1960s in Detroit and elsewhere? Yes, by the thousands. That`s because
they knew that the civil rights issue of Mitt Romney`s era was civil

High school is not an excuse for not taking a position, for not
participating in the great issues of your time. In my one and only run for
elective office, president of my high school, my number one issue was the
Vietnam War. I wanted our school to follow the example of colleges around
the country and go on strike against the war, a one day strike, a little
demonstration. I came in a close second to Joe Duffy, a legendary athlete
at my high school, who was and is an all around great guy, and needless to
say ran a much more disciplined campaign.

There were hundreds of high school students at every anti-war
demonstration that I attended in Boston and Washington when I was in high
school. Mitt Romney participated in exactly one demonstration in college.
It was one of the earlier campus demonstrations of the Vietnam War. Some
Stanford students organized a protest against the draft. Romney joined a
counter protest in favor of the draft.

That`s right, Mitt Romney is one of the very, very few Americans who
can claim to have been in a demonstration in favor of the draft during the
Vietnam War, not that Romney was willing to be drafted himself. Oh, no,
no, no. Nor was Romney was willing to enlist in the military, whose draft
he supported and whose war he supported.

Romney publicly urged his government to draft unwilling participants
into the war, to draft college classmates of his into the war, to send them
to their deaths, as long as Romney didn`t have to go to war himself.
Romney went to France instead, as a Mormon missionary, which he used to
preserve his deferment from the draft.

While he was trying and mostly failing to convert Parisians to
Mormonism, while Romney was safe in France and tens of thousands of young
Americans his age were being killed in Vietnam, Martin Luther King was
assassinated in 1968, when Romney was in France.

Perhaps Mitt Romney can tell us what the civil rights issue was in
Paris in 1968. But in Mitt Romney`s country, in the then not so united
United States of America, the civil rights of Mitt Romney`s era was civil

Mitt Romney was 21 years old when Martin Luther King was assassinated.
And for another 10 years after Martin Luther King was assassinated, until
Mitt Romney was 31 years old -- 31 years old, throughout his 20s, he would
sit back silently and watch as his church would continue to refuse to allow
black men to be priests.

Mitt Romney`s father, at the same time, took a much more enlightened
view of civil rights than his church did. According to the book "The Real
Romney," a Mormon official wrote to then Governor George Romney calling a
civil rights bill, quote, "vicious legislation," and saying that it was not
government`s job to remove God`s, quote, "curse upon the Negro," end quote.

Mitt Romney`s father knew the civil rights issue of Mitt Romney`s era
was civil rights. Mitt Romney did not protest his church`s racial
discrimination. He did not have the courage of the Reverend Helmut
Schueller, the Austrian priest who I`ve reported on here, who has been
publicly protesting his church`s ban on female priests and his church`s ban
on priest`s marrying.

In his 65 years, Mitt Romney has never protested the actions or
decisions of any figure in authority other than the people he has met on
campaign debate stages. Mitt Romney came of age in an era of protest. If
you are a 65-year-old American, the civil rights issue of your era was
civil rights.

Martin Luther King Jr. knew that. James Cheney knew that. Andrew
Goodman knew that. Michael Schwerner knew that. And Republican Governor
George Romney knew that.

But Mitt Romney, the man who now has the soulless audacity to read the
teleprompter words of a lecture to us written by his speech writers about
civil rights, that same Mitt Romney does not know that the civil rights
issue of Mitt Romney`s era was civil rights.



ANDY COHEN, "WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE": By the way, a word to the wise
about Twitter, I feel that I`m always one Tweet away from getting fired and
ruining my career and my life. So think before you Tweet.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Andy Cohen, executive vice president of
development and talent at Bravo and the host of "Watch What Happens Live."
And he`s the author of the new book, "Most Talkative, Stories From The
Front Lines of Pop Culture."

Andy, you said that this morning on "MORNING JOE," How close have you
come today to being fired for something you`ve Tweeted today.

COHEN: I`m trying to think. No, today was cool. I was under the
radar today. I was playing it cool today.

O`DONNELL: I share your feelings about that. I think with these kind
of shows, we`re one sentence away from getting fired. It can happen all
the time now. Have we gone too far with our sensibility about what`s in a

COHEN: With a 24-hour-plus news cycle, where every -- everywhere you
turn someone can pick up on something that you say and either misconstrue
it or just make a big deal out of it, it`s just really difficult. And
humor takes on -- you know, it`s really hard to read humor or irony or any
sort of layering in a Tweet, or in an email for that matter. So it`s
become a very volatile, dangerous situation.

O`DONNELL: Andy, politics is invading your jurisdiction, which is to
say non-political TV, kind of audience friendly, especially women friendly
audiences like "The View." Michelle Obama was there today. Let`s take a
look at Michelle Obama on "The View" today.


BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW": In an interview just recently you said,
and I quote, that you are "sometimes unsure if you are a classic First Lady
and if the things you do are OK." Why do you feel this way and who is your
idea of a classic First Lady?

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I have never seen a First Lady hula hoop
on the south lawn, jump double Dutch. So there`s a lot of --

JOY BEHAR, "THE VIEW": Martha Washington didn`t do that?


WALTERS: Do you ever have doubts? do you say to yourself maybe I`ve
gone too far?

OBAMA: It`s not doubts. It`s just really wondering, not too many
people have done what I`ve done.


O`DONNELL: Andy, I think we know what Michelle Obama is up to and
what politics is up to in general when people like the First Lady go on
those kind of shows. They want to appeal to the voter who`s not going to
pay that much attention to this kind of political TV, but is checking in
with your TV, with Barbara`s TV there at "The View," with that kind of

That`s where to find that voter now, who`s not going to concentrate
until you get down to October, right?

COHEN: Yes. Look, I think Bill Clinton kind of rewrote the playbook
there when he played the saxophone on "Arsenio Hall" all those years ago.
Now it has become just part of the whistle stop tour, that people going,
you know, red, white and "the View." I like that backdrop there.

But I want Michelle Obama in my Bravo clubhouse. She`s the realist
housewife of them all. She`s the first housewife.

O`DONNELL: Andy, hold it. I don`t think that`s the way to get
Michelle Obama, to compare her to any real housewives of, pardon me, yours.

COHEN: I mean it as a complement.

O`DONNELL: I`m sure you do.

COHEN: I think that what -- I think what`s great about my show, not
to toot the horn, if Mrs. Obama is watching or her people, is that it`s
unscripted and it`s fun and it`s putting somebody you know in a different
environment that you have never seen them in. And I think that`s why she
goes on "The View" and Letterman and all these other shows. It`s just
another way to look in at something that you think you know or you have an
idea of.

O`DONNELL: The new book is "Most Talkative, Stories From the Front
Lines of Pop Culture." Andy, thank you very much for joining us tonight.


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