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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, June 4, 2012

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Jan Schakowsky, Ethan Nadelmann

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Tonight, Trump is still talking about the
birth certificate and Romney is still not talking about Massachusetts.


DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: You folks like politics?

CHRIS MATTHEW, MSNBC HOST: They`re giving him nothing.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Republicans would go too far and sound like
they are cheerleading bad news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop rooting for failure.

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA 2012 CAMPAIGN: High fiving each other on days
when there is bad news.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The political advantage in
stymieing this president.

AXELROD: They should stop sitting on their hands.

PATRICK: Putting ideology of ahead of country.

AXELROD: These are the architects of destructions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about their ideas for the country?

DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I don`t really like talking about
the place of birth.

TODD: Hand-wringing over the president.

TRUMP: Somebody said, because I brought up the birth certificate, I`m
a racist.

He himself said he was born in Kenya.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The deficit in leadership.

TRUMP: Perhaps it`s going to say Hawaii. Perhaps it`s going to say

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mentioned the Ryan plan.

TRUMP: A lot of people want me to talk about place of birth.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Republicans have vastly outspent Democrats
in this race.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: The president is making a political push.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It started with Bain. Now they`re moving to
Massachusetts. A two-prong attack.

NARRATOR: It started like this.

business. I know how jobs are created.

BASHIR: Governor Romney left Massachusetts, ranking only 47th in the
nation in job growth.

NARRATOR: One of the worst economic records in the country.

LETTERMAN: Mitt Romney saying I saved the auto industry. Yes. And
for the last 20 years, I`ve been hosting "The Tonight Show." So, there you


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney spent today in two states. He is going to
lose, Oregon and Washington.

While President Obama headed for a state where he will pick up 29
electoral votes in November. The president had three fundraisers scheduled
with Bill Clinton in New York, including one tonight with entertainment by
Jon Bon Jovi.


counting on is fear and frustration. That in and of itself is going to be
good enough because they`re sure not offering any new ideas. All they`re
offering is the same old ideas that didn`t work then, won`t work now.

We will not go backward. We will go forward and we will remind the
entire world just why it is the United States of America is the greatest
nation on earth.

Thank you, New York. I love you.


O`DONNELL: The president`s remarks came hours after the campaign
released its first television ad that exposes what Mitt Romney now
considers the most shameful period of his life. No, not the prep school
bully years. The governor years.


NARRATOR: It started like this.

ROMNEY: I speak the language of business. I know how jobs are

NARRATOR: But it ended like this -- one of the worst economic records
in the country. So now when Mitt Romney talks about what he`d do as
president --

ROMNEY: I know what it takes to create jobs.

NARRATOR: Remember, we`ve heard it all before.

ROMNEY: I know how jobs are created.


O`DONNELL: A new poll shows President Obama with a three-point lead
over Mitt Romney, which is within the margin of error of the poll. The
president leads Mitt Romney on favorability, 56 percent, to Mitt Romney`s
48 percent. Both candidates now have a 42 percent unfavorable rating in
the poll.

President Obama is particularly popular among young voters. More than
2/3 of people under 30 have a favorable view of the president while just 40
percent of people under 30 have a positive opinion of Mitt Romney.

The first national TV ad by the Obama campaign is targeted at the
youth vote, and it appeared last night during the MTV movie awards.


SARAH JESSICA PARKER, ACTRESS: OK. The guy who ended the war in
Iraq, the guy who says you should be able to marry anyone you want, and the
guy who created 4 million new jobs. That guy, President Obama, and
Michelle, are coming to my house for dinner on June 14th, and I want you to
be there too. But you have to go to for your chance to win.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is MSNBC`s Krystal Ball and Steve Kornacki.

Krystal, it was a little concern that broke out among conservatives
today. They`re worried about Mitt Romney`s appointment of Mike Leavitt.,
as his transition chief because Leavitt supports the president`s Affordable
Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, by Republicans. He supports the
exchanges. He advises states on how to implement the law.

This has Rush Limbaugh worried.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Romneycare, Obamacare linkage,
the Obama campaign hadn`t gotten to that yet and they will. I`m just
warning you, they`re going -- it isn`t going to be pretty when they do.


O`DONNELL: Krystal, it just might involve the words Mike Leavitt when
they do.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think that`s absolutely
right. This actually dovetails really well with what you were saying about
Mitt Romney`s record in Massachusetts. He`s not wanted to talk about his
record in Massachusetts in any respect. If you don`t talk about your own
record, then your opponent is going to define it for you, which is exactly
what the Obama campaign is doing now and what they are also likely to do
regarding health reform.

But also, conservative pushback, this is not the first time
conservatives have been upset about a Mitt Romney appointment. You`ll
recall that Richard Grenell was forced down at this post as a foreign
policy adviser because he happened to be gay. So it`ll be interesting to
see if the Romney campaign on this one stands their ground when they`ve
appointed someone who, again, conservatives don`t like.

It also shows the fact that Romney is still, still has not really won
over his base. He still has to watch that right flank. He can`t really
move to the center in the way that we all expected him to. He still has to
appease the base.

Last week he was asked to grade the president. What grade would he
give? He said I`d give him an "F" absolutely across the board, which is
the kind of answer you`d give to appease the Tea Party in the primary, but
it`s not the sort of thing you want to say when you`re trying to appeal to
independents in a general election.

O`DONNELL: Steve, I hadn`t considered until Krystal just said it that
we might have a rerun of the Grenell situation where there`s an uprising
against this appointment. I want to read you what "Red State" editor,
Erick Erickson, writes today about Mike Leavitt being appointed at
transition. He says, `Conservatives should consider it unacceptable. This
should shake every conservative`s confidence in team Romney to really
understand just how badly we want Obamacare fully repealed."

Steve, could there be a revolt on this appointment?

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Yes, there could be, and I think this is
the interesting thing to watch. How much latitude and how much leeway in
the campaign is Romney going to get from sort of the opinion leaders and
thought leaders on the right? You`re seeing "Red State" now. You`re
seeing someone from the "Washington Examiner" earlier today who also
criticize this. You know, if you`re seeing of it, the question is: is
going to sort of metastasize? Is it going to turn into something big where
you end up with the Grenell situation?

I would guess we`re not going to go down that road partly because the
role of Leavitt is ill defined. He`s sort of planning, informally planning
something in the future that may or may not happen.

But the thing to think about here is look at what Romney had to do in
the primary season. Look at the heat he is already taking on this. And
think about what a Romney presidency would actually be like, because that`s
-- you know, whatever leeway and whatever latitude he gets from the right
now, he will get none as president. The entire purpose of Mitt Romney to
the right -- I think Grover Norquist has said this, he has a hand and he
can sign the bills that they passed in Congress.

And the expectation from the right if Romney is president, whatever
the Republican Senate passes, he`s going to put his signature on. If he
balks even once, there`s going to be a revolt.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at what Donald Trump was saying this
weekend. He was in North Carolina, and he now has what he believes is the
perfect answer to anyone who makes any accusations of anything involving
racism with Donald Trump. Let`s listen to how Trump handled that this


TRUMP: When is the last time you saw a bridge being built in this
country? You go to China. You go to the OPEC nations. You go to some of
these nations. It`s unbelievable what you do.

Somebody said, oh, because I brought up the birth certificate, I`m a
racist. I said, how could I be a racist? I just picked Arsenio Hall.


O`DONNELL: Let me explain because the trump game show got record low
ratings this year. Really, nobody watched it. That crazy show he has
where he pretends to fire people and then in the end there`s one person he
doesn`t fire. The one person he didn`t fire was the only black person in
the crazy show, Arsenio Hall, the only black person he could get to be in
his show after his conduct the last year.

So now, Krystal, he has his perfect defense of any charges of racism.
He just holds up those words, Arsenio Hall.

BALL: Right. He has black friends, Lawrence. How could he be
racist, right? That makes sense, doesn`t it?

Didn`t he also have a quote that was like, I`m cool with the blacks,
when he was flirting with his presidential run? So, you know, I don`t see
what the problem is here.

I do have to say, though, I personally hope that Donald Trump spends
every day between now and November in North Carolina. That is my own
personal hope, talking about this birther nonsense and how we don`t build
bridges anymore and whatever else he said in the very rambling, incoherent

I would love for him to spend as much time as possible in every swing
state in the country, in fact.

O`DONNELL: Steve, you think there`s any chance of Trump slipping into
the way he was caught on tape last year talking to that Vegas audience
where every other word was the "F" word when he`s out there on the Romney

KORNACKI: Yes, I mean, look at the setting for this. He`s at
Republican state conventions now. He`s doing official party events.

You know, you got to imagine that the audience there, you know, it`s
been said, you know, why is Romney scared of standing up to Trump? In a
lot of ways, Trump is channeling the Republican Party base. They really
like this stuff. They, kind of, feed on this.

So, Trump is becoming -- you know, the Romney people may have
discomfort with it. They won`t express it publicly, but boy, you look at
the state party level, at the grassroots level, there`s a demand for this
guy. The more the guy is out there, the more he runs his mouth, sure. I
mean, who knows what he`s going to say?

BALL: In fairness, I should say you should hear Steve off camera with
the "F" bomb. Put him to shame. Oh, my goodness.

O`DONNELL: I don`t know what you`re talking about. There`s something
to be said for the understanding the difference between on camera and off
camera --

BALL: Trump has no understanding.


O`DONNELL: The Romney campaign is trying to fight back, Steve,
against the whole idea of the Obama campaign being so unfair as to bring up
his period as governor of Massachusetts. They are struggling with this.
You get the feeling that they weren`t really ready to campaign over issues
involving Massachusetts.

KORNACKI: Well, there`s that, and there`s also the interesting thing
to me about this is the response from the Romney team to the criticisms to
Obama about his role in Massachusetts, where, you know, four-year period,
47th in the country in job growth in that time. You can bring all these
unflattering statistics out about Mitt Romney`s governorship.

The Romney defense to that is, well, I inherited a really bad
situation. I inherited a budget deficit. I inherited an economy that was
in a really bad shape. So you should give me credit for improving on that

Now, there is actually, in Romney`s case, there is some -- not a lot -
- there is some validity. It`s not as universally awful as the Obama
campaign paints it as. But my goodness, the entire Romney message in this
campaign boils down to judge Barack Obama only on January 20th, 2009, to
the present. And do not consider for a second the fact that Wall Street
melted down before he came to office.

They want the voters to ignore that completely, the biggest elephant
imaginable in the world. The minute you say anything about Massachusetts,
it becomes, well, wait a minute, there was a little recession going on

BALL: Also, Romney`s pushback has been, oh, we love to compare
Massachusetts 4.7 percent unemployment rate with the president`s. But what
they fail to mention is that part of why they had a low unemployment rate
is because 220,000 people left the workforce. Essentially left
Massachusetts during that time period, which was the second worst in the
country after only Louisiana, which had just been devastated by hurricane

So even in that, even in their spin, you know, they`re leaving out an
important part of the picture.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball and Steve Kornacki, thank you very much for
joining me tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, you remember Alex Castellanos. He`s the guy
that kept interrupting Rachel the last time she was on "Meet the Press."
Well, he was back on "Meet the Press" this Sunday and said some wicked
nutty stuff, which means Alex Castellanos is in tonight`s rewrite.

And it`s never too early in politics. And so, Hillary supporters are
pushing Hillary for president in 2016. But what about Andrew Cuomo, the
governor of New York, who has achieved marriage equality in New York and is
now pushing for reducing the penalties for possession of marijuana? Andrew
Cuomo doing everything right to position himself for 2016. And let`s not
forget the sitting vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, who has
not ruled out running for president. That`s coming up with Karen Finney
and Jonathan Capehart.


O`DONNELL: Alex Castellanos is back on Sunday morning TV saying nutty
things. The last time he was on "Meet the Press," he couldn`t stop
interrupting Rachel Maddow. Yesterday, he couldn`t stop saying nice things
about Bill Clinton. But he was really just trying to use Bill Clinton
against President Obama. That`s in tonight`s rewrite.

And speaking of Clinton, Bill Clinton says he will support Hillary if
she runs. And Ed Rendell says he`ll manage her campaign. But in 2016, the
Democrats could have their strongest field ever. New York`s Governor
Andrew Cuomo, Maryland`s Governor Martin, O`Malley, and Joe Biden are all
frontrunners possibilities. That`s coming up.

And the Paycheck Fairness Act comes to a vote tomorrow. And Mitt
Romney still doesn`t know if he supports it. That`s coming up, next.


O`DONNELL: Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on the Paycheck Fairness
Act. Here is President Obama pushing for passage of the bill on a
conference call this afternoon.


and do its job. If Congress passes the Paycheck Fairness Act, women are
going to have access to more tools to claim equal pay for equal work. If
they don`t, if Congress doesn`t act, then women are still going to have
difficulty enforcing and pressing for this basic principle.


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney`s position on the Paycheck Fairness Act is
pure Romney. It is nonexistent. The Romney campaign is refusing to say
whether Mitt Romney supports the bill. When asked today, the Romney
campaign refused to say yes or no, but simply endorsed the general concept
of pay equity for women and then spun that into an anti-Obama gibberish
thing about the economy.

"Of course, Governor Romney supports pay equity for women. In order
to have pay equity, women need to have jobs. And they have been getting
crushed in this anemic Obama economy, losing far more jobs than men. As
president, Mitt Romney will create a pro-jobs business climate that will
put all Americans back to work."

Today, the women`s rights group Ultraviolet put out this video about
Romney`s record on issues of concern to women.


NARRATOR: It`s 3:00 a.m., and your family is safe and asleep. But
there`s a phone in the White House and it`s ringing. Something is

It`s 150 million American women, and they want some answers from Mitt
Romney. They called about Rush Limbaugh`s attack on a young woman, and
there was no response. They called about the Violence Against Women Act,
and there was no response. And now they`re calling about the Paycheck
Fairness Act, and still, there is no response.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now are Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of
Illinois and Joy-Ann Reid of "The Grio" and an MSNBC contributor.
Congresswoman, how long did it take you to decide your position on the
Paycheck Fairness Act?

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Well, it`s obvious to most women
that there`s still discrimination in the workplace when it comes to our
paychecks -- 77 cents is the average for all women. But for African-
American women, it`s about 68 cents. For Latinas, it`s about 59 cents for
every dollar a man earns.

But Mitt Romney, it seems that he never misses an opportunity to miss
an opportunity when it comes to women and what`s good for us. He likes to
talk about jobs and the economy.

Here`s what he could do. He could call up his colleagues, Republican
colleagues in the Senate, tonight, tomorrow morning. The vote`s going to
be at 2:15 in Washington. Tell them stand up for women and vote for the
Paycheck Fairness Act.

It`s still in his court right now. He could do it.

O`DONNELL: Joy-Ann Reid, this vote tomorrow puts Senator Scott Brown
of Massachusetts in a tough spot. He`s in a close race to hold on to his
seat in Massachusetts. He decided today he`s going to vote against it.

His statement from his office says, "Senator Brown believes strongly
in fair pay and that employers who discriminate against women should be
prosecuted aggressively. However, on the bill before the Senate, Senator
Brown believes the bill will put more burdens on small business and could
lead to job losses."

So, Joy-Ann, Senator Brown thinks that not allowing businesses to
discriminate against women would just put more burdens on businesses.

JOY-ANN REID, THEGRIO.COM: Yes, Lawrence. And this is where the
Republican Party, their loyalty to big business comes in conflict with
their need to increase their demographic sort of appeal, right? They need
to appeal to women. They`re only doing well with Republican women.
They`re not really expanding that circle.

But businesses putting tremendous pressure on Republicans to stay the
course and to toe the line when it comes to not doing anything business
doesn`t like. Business doesn`t like regulation. They see this as a

Despite the fact that -- you know, this is 49 years after the passage
of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, and women are still earning, as
Representative Schakowsky said 77 cents on the dollar. This bill would
talk about the remedies that women could employ to try to seek their
rights. That`s why business doesn`t like it.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Schakowsky, this looks like an opening for
Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. I mean, you would have expected that
Scott Brown in a campaign like this would just take the campaign convenient
position of eliminating the difference between him and Elizabeth Warren on
this issue.

But in a state like Massachusetts, this looks like a real opening for

SCHAKOWSKY: I think that this could be a winning issue for Elizabeth
Warren now that Scott Brown really has an opportunity -- you know, it`s one
thing for people to say, I`m for pay equity. I think equal pay is a good

Now there`s a piece of legislation before them. Actually, it`s a
pretty modest piece of legislation. It just says that businesses would
have to prove that they were not discriminating against women. It would
give women an opportunity to ask other employees what their pay is.

Scott Brown, that`s a real phony thing to say, that you`re for equal
pay but you`re not going to vote for this legislation.

I think this is definitely going to help Elizabeth Warren, and it`s
going to help Democrats who support this legislation against Republicans
because it`s another chapter in the war on women, and it`s one that really
gets at the heart of the economic issues for women.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what President Obama had to say about this
at a DNC women`s leadership forum.


OBAMA: As long as I`m president, we`re going to keep moving forward.
You can count on that. You don`t have to take my word for it. You`ve got
my signature on it. Because something like standing up for equal pay for
equal work isn`t something I got to get back to you on. It`s the first law
that I sign.


O`DONNELL: Joy-Ann, when professional Republicans take a look at that
video, do they have any doubt about why there is a gender gap in favor --
with women voters in favor of President Obama?

REID: Yes, I mean, I think that`s what Republicans are trying to
convince women in the electorate that the problem is, is that they don`t
have enough jobs. Well, it turns out the unemployment rate among women
across ethnicities is actually lower than the unemployment rate among men.
This recession was a very male-centric recession. It was male professions
that were hit the hardest.

So, women actually have lower unemployment, but they have lower pay.
They`re in a lot of jobs that tend to have lower pay -- teachers and other
jobs. So, I mean, the problem for Republicans is they haven`t gotten a
message that gets them beyond being in the service of business.

I mean, Lawrence, the important thing about these bills, the Lilly
Ledbetter Act, which is what the President was referring, and this one, is
that the reason women still have pay inequity is when they attempt to
assert their right to fair pay, they can be retaliated against if you say
how much money you`re making talking to a co-worker -- if you attempt to
redress grievances.

Look at the Wal-Mart lawsuit. You still have really systemic lower
pay and retaliation. That`s what these laws are getting at. Republicans
haven`t really explained how they would deal with that.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Joy-Ann of "The Grio" --
thank you both very much for joining me tonight.

REID: Thank you.

SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Democrats are already positioning themselves to
run for president in 2016. We have New York Governor Andrew Cuomo making
all the right moves. So is Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley. And Joe
Biden hasn`t ruled out a run. And Hillary supporters are just begging
Hillary Clinton to run.

And as he positions himself to run for president, New York Governor
Andrew Cuomo now wants to reduce the penalty for possession of marijuana.
That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: Well, last time Rachel Maddow was on "Meet the Press,"
Alex Castellanos just could not stop interrupting her. He was back on
"Meet the Press" again this weekend, and he said some really nutty stuff
about President Obama and Bill Clinton. And that puts Alex Castellanos in
tonight`s rewrite.

And Hillary Clinton is in our next segment. Virtually all of her
supporters want her to run in 2016, but New York governor Andrew Cuomo is
positioning himself for a run and so is Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley.
And vice president Joe Biden hasn`t ruled out anything yet.

Hillary fever in 2016, that`s coming up.

And later, the extremely popular governor of New York might be become
a lot more popular with his plan to decriminalize marijuana. That`s coming



secretary Clinton become the nominee for president in 2016. I do think,
though, that the secretary should entertain the thought of running in 2016.
Hasn`t she been a magnificent secretary?


O`DONNELL: That was Nancy Pelosi in April hoping for a Hillary
Clinton run for the presidency in 2016. Pelosi echoed those sentiments
during a recent interview with the San Francisco chronicle saying, why
wouldn`t she run? She`s a magnificent secretary of state. She`s our shot.

Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell is also pushing for Hillary
Clinton to run for president again, revealing in his new book that he has
even offered to manage her campaign for free.

Rendell wrote, she is bone tired. Still, I believe that when she gets
some rest and has a chance to reflect on what she wants, the challenges
facing the country will be too great for her to resist, and she will change
her mind.

For her part, Secretary Clinton maintains as recently as last month
that she has no plans to run again.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I`m very flattered, but I feel
it`s time for me to kind of step off the high wire. I`ve been involved at
the highest levels of American politics for 20 years now.


Joining me now, Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post opinion writer and
MSNBC political analyst and Karen Finney, former DNC communications
director. And Karen is MSNBC political analyst.

Karen, I listened very carefully to what Secretary Clinton just said,
and I did not hear her say, I will not run for president.

day that she ran her first senate campaign, she got asked, are you going to
run for president? And she kept saying, why are people asking me this
question? Maybe I should tell her she has to be more definitive.

You know, I`m of the mind she genuinely doesn`t have that answer at
this point. I mean, I genuinely believe she`s exhausted and wants to, you
know, Lord knows she has earned a rest. To take a rest. And I think from
there, figure out what she wants to do which is what many of those of us,
you know, most of us really want for her is for her to get to pick, what
does he want to do for once?

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Bill Clinton help build Hillary fever.


absolutely honest with you when she says she doesn`t think she`ll go back
into politics. Whether she does or not, who knows what will happen.

But if she comes home and we do this foundation stuff the rest of our
lives, I`ll be happy. If she changes her mind and decides to run, I`ll be


O`DONNELL: Jonathan, if he decides to run, he`ll be happy. Big

supportive husband. What else do you want him to say? I mean, it`s the
right thing for him to say.

But, you know, I agree with my darling wife Karen Finney when she says
that, you know, Secretary Clinton, she is tired. She -- folks want her to
be able to, as she says, secretary said, get off the high wire that she`s
been on for the last 20 years and to rest and do what she wants to do.

In an interview she did I think last year, maybe a year and a half
ago, she talked about how she looked forward to being a grandmother and,
you know, seeing -- attending to her family and, you know, just taking some
time off.

And also, if she were to run in 2016, she`s not going to have that
much time off. The way the modern political cycle is, she`ll be back into
the game by 2014, at the latest.

FINNEY: You mean March of 2013.


CAPEHART: A year. So I mean, this is one of those stories of a few
that drive me absolutely nuts. Secretary Clinton says she doesn`t want --
she wants out. She wants to rest. Can`t we just let her have that and let
all the people who say they want her to run, fine. You say that, that`s
great. But take the secretary at her word that she wants out. And I
believe she wants out.

O`DONNELL: She has never said she wants out of presidential campaign
politics. She`s been very careful not to.

FINNEY: She said off the high wire.

O`DONNELL: And let me tell you, to her insiders and to her
fundraisers who are close to her, at least one of them have told me he`s
absolutely convinced that she`s going to run. That she`s absolutely
locking it in now. But it`s going to be an amazing field if Hillary`s in
it. She`s going to be going against her governor in New York, Andrew
Cuomo, who`s absolutely moving toward it. Martin O`Malley, strong governor
in Maryland. And we have Joe Biden, who would be 74, still not saying I`m
not going to run.

And you know, I previously had ruled out both Hillary, who would be
69, and Biden as being too old. Now I no longer think they`ve hit an age
barrier for running for president.

FINNEY: John McCain showed that there`s no age barrier, right, for
running for president. I mean.

CAPEHART: And Reagan.

FINNEY: Exactly. I have to say, though, for my own conversations
with Hillary, and Chelsea`s going to kill me for saying this, she really
does want to be a grandmother. No pressure.

O`DONNELL: It`s legal to be a grandmother and run for president.
That`s possible.

FINNEY: That`s true, but if you want to be the kind of grandmother
who gets to spend a lot of time with her grandchild, that`s a little tough
when you`re running the country. Because let`s be honest, even if it we
get four more years of President Obama, and he has able to do more of the
things he wants to do, we`re still going to have a lot of work to keep this
country on the right track.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, what about the age issue, first for Joe Biden
and then secondly for Hillary Clinton? Not factoring in whether they`re
going to run or not. But with that, have we moved into a zone where we
have a higher age limitation than we used to have on this?

CAPEHART: I think so. One, because folks are living longer. And the
people who are going to vote for them are going to look at them and say,
they`re young or they`re right around my age or they`re slightly older than
I want.

But also, I think as we get further down in presidential election
years, and if we don`t dig out of the problems that we have by 2016, the
American people aren`t going to be looking at age. And they`re not going
to be looking at any other factors expect for competence and what ideas
will those candidates bring to the table to change things, to make things
better in this country, assuming things aren`t where folks want them to be
by `16 or `20.

FINNEY: You know, I also think, Lawrence, part of the fascination
with this is -- I mean, it`s wonderful having President Obama. It`s, you
know, inspiring having an African-American. But a lot of us really still
want to see a woman president. And I think that`s part of why Hillary
comes up so much in the conversation. There are other women in Democratic
politics who, I think -- you know, Senator Gillibrand I think would make a
fantastic president one day.

O`DONNELL: She already said she`s going to urge Hillary to run.

FINNEY: I know she will. There are a lot of really wonderful,
talented women coming up. But my point is that I think there really is
still a desire to have a strong woman candidate. We really didn`t get that
fix from Sarah Palin as the vice presidential nominee. So, you know, I
think that`s part of why Hillary still comes up.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, Andrew Cuomo in New York has pushed through kind
of bravely, politically pushed through marriage equality in New York. He
achieved that. He`s now looking at marijuana laws and saying we got to
reduce the penalties on that and decriminalize this population of kids that
have been getting dragged into the criminal system because of possession of
small amounts of marijuana.

I mean, Andrew Cuomo in addition to many other things, Andrew Cuomo
has been making every right move to position himself for that nomination.

CAPEHART: Well, sure. He`s been taking leadership positions. And
this -- the marriage equality position he took is really extraordinary.
Keep in mind, he did that, personally separated that bill through to
passage six months into his first term as governor of New York. Something
that lots of people thought was politically risky. That he showed he
provided the way for Governor O`Malley of Maryland and also dare say
President Obama in terms of getting to yes on marriage equality.

And so, now, what you`re going to see, assuming that Maryland`s
marriage equality law does go through in January, we very well might see
two leading contenders for the democratic nomination, one of whom could
become the nominee, and either one who gets it is someone for same-sex
marriage. I think the days of a major political candidate, particularly in
the Democratic Party running, who`s not in favor of marriage equality is

FINNEY: You`re right.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney and Jonathan Capehart. I`m placing my bet.
Hillary is going to run.

O`DONNELL: Thank you both, very much, for joining me tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Alex Castellanos is in the rewrite tonight.
Not for interrupting Rachel on "Meet the Press." Rachel already did a fine
job of handling herself on that.

Alex Castellanos was back on "Meet the Press" this weekend. And he
said some really nutty things about President Obama and President Bill
Clinton. And that`s what has him in the rewrite tonight.

And later, New York state is making a big move, big move toward
decriminalizing marijuana. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: Republican Alex Castellanos wants you to believe that
President Obama is unlike any president we have ever had, especially
President Bill Clinton. That`s next in the rewrite.

And later, why the governor of New York, a possible future
presidential candidate, is pushing toward decriminalization of marijuana.
That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: In tonight`s rewrite, Sunday`s with Alex. Republican Alex
Castellanos said another nutty thing on Sunday morning.


the American people that the biggest problem we have is other Americans
that are holding the economy back.


O`DONNELL: That`s Alex Castellanos trying to make President Obama
sound downright un-American. That`s Alex Castellanos trying to say
President Obama is unlike any other president we`ve ever had, especially
Bill Clinton.


CASTELLANOS: Bill Clinton was a new business democrat, a new
democrat. He wanted to grow the economy. The president`s job, Bill
Clinton thought, was to grow it for everybody, not just to redistribute
what some Americans have.


O`DONNELL: That`s funny. I don`t remember Republican operative Alex
Castellanos saying stuff like that when he was trying to prevent Bill
Clinton from becoming president in 1992 and when he was trying to prevent
Bill Clinton from being re-elected in 1996.

Now, don`t ever bother trying to figure out what someone like Alex
Castellanos actually thinks. Castellanos is a pure political spinner.
There is no such thing as truth to him. There is simply the next
rhetorical device that he will use to make whatever political point he
might be trying to make.

And on Sunday morning, Bill Clinton was Alex Castellanos` rhetorical
device to use against President Obama. Quote, "Bill Clinton was a new
business democrat. A new democrat. He wanted to grow the economy. The
president`s job, Bill Clinton thought, was to grow it for everybody, not
just to redistribute what some Americans have."

Yes, Alex Castellanos actually does know that the very first order of
business for president Clinton when he took office was to redistribute
income, to take what some Americans have and give it to other Americans.
Something every president, Democrat and Republican, has done since the
invention of the federal income tax in 1913.

Bill Clinton didn`t just raise taxes in his first six months in
office. He enacted the single biggest tax increase in history. It`s not
that the Republican presidents elected before Bill Clinton, Reagan and
Bush, were not already redistributing income through income taxation. It`s
just that Bill Clinton thought it would be fairer to ask the richest
Americans to redistribute more of their income, a little more of their
income through the income tax.

Alex Castellanos was right about Bill Clinton being a new business
democrat, a new democrat of sorts, and he was right about Bill Clinton
wanting to grow the economy for everybody. And Bill Clinton`s idea to do
that was to get control of the budget deficit by cutting spending and by
raising taxes, and everyone knows what happened after he did that.

The economy grew and grew and grew and kept growing, and even Alex
Castellanos knows that. And now, while praising Bill Clinton for doing
that, Alex Castellanos condemns President Obama for trying to do the exact
same thing. For trying to restore the top income tax rate to exactly what
it was under Bill Clinton. For that, Alex Castellanos condemns President

Now, what do you call that? It`s not just spin. It`s something way
nuttier than spin. It`s self-contradictory. It`s crazy. It assumes that
the audience of "Meet the Press" is utterly ignorant. That they don`t know
that President Obama wants to restore the Clinton tax rates.

I guess this means that five or six years from now Alex Castellanos
will be using President Obama as a rhetorical device against president
Hillary Clinton or whoever is our next Democratic president.


O`DONNELL: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing new
legislation that would reduce the penalties for public possession of small
amounts of marijuana.


ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Young person has a small amount
of marijuana in their pocket, and that`s a violation. That`s a fine.
Police officer says turn out your pockets, and now it`s a crime. I mean,
who could defend against that?


O`DONNELL: Under Governor Cuomo`s plan, all possession of small
amounts of marijuana, public or private, would only be subject to a fine.
New York City`s police commissioner, who has been cracking down on private
possession of marijuana, especially among young African-American men who
are stopped and frisked by the NYPD, now says he and the mayor support New
York`s governor.


RAY KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: Mayor Bloomberg totally supports this
legislation. He hopes that it passes in this session as do I.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Ethan Nadelmann, the founder and
executive director of the drug policy alliance, an organization promoting
an alternative to the war on drugs.

Ethan, this is a major breakthrough to see the governor of New York
now and to see Ray Kelly, it`s kind of really surprising, to see New York
City police commissioner, who`s been really, really tough, really crack
down on this with the support of Mayor Bloomberg. To see them coming
around like this is, for New York, it`s a historic event.

it really is. I mean, my organization, drug policy alliance, and other
ally groups have been, you know, making this a major issue the last few
years with grassroots mobilization.

But the police chief, the mayor, the district attorneys in New York
just kept resisting. And so Cuomo coming on board now and saying I`m
introducing my own bill on this. We`re going to move this thing forward.
Then whatever he had to do to get the police chief and the mayor and the
D.A.s on board, them coming on board, this is a major change.

This is going to result in thousands or tens of thousands of young
African-American, you know, guys` men being arrested needlessly. Half of
them with no prior criminal record. So, it`s an important and courageous -
I should say, an important and bold step forward by the governor.

O`DONNELL: Over 50,000 people arrested in New York state last year
for this kind of possession. It seems we`re in a moment, Ethan, where this
stuff -- there`s a wave that`s moving here. I mean, this rant was on line
recently that if this kind of arrest had happened to President Obama when
he was that age and trying marijuana now and again, he surely would not
have ended up as president. There are a lot of lives being ruined under
the age of 25 with these mass arrests.

NADELMANN: That`s exactly right. I mean, you know, there`s a new
book out about Barack Obama`s youthful marijuana use. He wasn`t just a
casual user. He was a bit of a head in his younger days.

And the fact of the matter is the number of people smoking marijuana
today is probably the same or maybe a little less than it was 30 years ago
when Barack Obama was doing it. But twice as many people are being
arrested today. And the consequences of arrest in terms of what it can do
to your access to government benefits, scholarship, travel, all of these
things is more severe now.

So, I think what we are seeing is roughly 70 percent of Americans
don`t believe anybody should be going to jail for possession of small
amounts of marijuana. And strikingly, according to the annual polls, the
percentage of Americans who say marijuana should be regulated like alcohol,
for the first time, has hit 50 percent. There are more people now in favor
than there are against. And that`s a huge increase in support in just the
last five or six years. So, we are seeing a major change in public opinion
in this area.

O`DONNELL: I think the most important thing about the example of
President Obama and many others in our government, senators, congressmen,
governors, others, who in their youth used marijuana, is that these laws
would block the advance of the people we want to see advanced in this
society. No one would have wanted to see Barack Obama`s life blocked by
this kind of arrest or many of the other people we have serving in the

NADELMANN: Lawrence, that`s exactly right. I mean, the fact of the
matter is when you see -- part of what`s happened, in fact, is among the
African-American, Latino political leadership, they`re beginning to
understand how important this issue is. They understand that locking up
millions of young black and Latino guys often times for petty drug offenses
arresting million discourage and also to his, it is not a constructive
thing. You know, it is kind of unproductive in all sorts of ways and it`s
not just New York. I don`t know if you saw, in Oregon a couple of weeks
ago, there was a district attorney`s race, so there`s a lot of change at
the congressional level, you know, ballot initiatives coming up. Stuff is

O`DONNELL: Ethan, we`ve got to go. Ethan Nadelmann, executive
director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Thank you very much for joining me

NADELMANN: Thank you for having me on.

O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.


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