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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, June 14, 2012

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Nina Turner, Joe Klein, Robert Reich, Sister Simone Campbell, Lisa Ling

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: In Ohio today, if you wanted to hear the
details of the Romney plan, you had to listen to the Obama speech.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Swing state showdown for President Obama and Mitt

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doing speeches on the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The crucial battleground state of Ohio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next president of the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president of the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dueling messages for our nation`s economic future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I won`t call it a back alley brawl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the same state, on the same day.

ROMNEY: President Obama is on the other side of the state.

OBAMA: I think you deserve a real debate.

ROMNEY: Today he`s going to talk about how he`s going to really give
a boost to energy.

OBAMA: Two fundamentally different views.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wants voters to see this election as a choice

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A stark choice.

OBAMA: That debate starts with an understanding of where we are and
how we got here.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Our pro growth economic
policies are working for all Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Repercussions of the bush recession.

OBAMA: So how did this economic theory worked?

BUSH: These tax cuts are doing exactly what we expected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Bush job losses, the Bush deficits.

OBAMA: For the wealthiest Americans, it worked out really well.

ROMNEY: Oh, really?

OBAMA: Prosperity never trickled down to the middle class.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what is the Romney message?

ROMNEY: To balance the budget and we will limit the size of

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You simply can`t say your plan is to lay off
workers and say you`re creating jobs.

ROMNEY: The stimulus didn`t work.

OBAMA: Today, our auto industry is back on top of the world.

ROMNEY: Oh, really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot misstate the impact the auto bailout

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can`t say better. It`s either better or it`s

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president is our best.

OBAMA: Two fundamentally different visions. Thank you.


O`DONNELL: Today in Ohio, before President Obama and Mitt Romney`s
back to back speeches on the economy, the brains at the Romney campaign
decided to make some noise. CBS News` Mark Knoller tweeted, "Romney
campaign bus, emblazoned with Romney campaign logo, is driving around
President Obama`s speech site honking its horn."

Mitt Romney spoke first in Cincinnati before a crowd of no more than
200 people, working without a teleprompter meant Romney did not get into
the specifics of his economic plan. Oh, and the other reason he didn`t get
into the specifics is that he knows he would lose Ohio in a landslide if he

So he tried to put some spin on the president`s speech.


ROMNEY: He`s going to be a person of eloquence as he describes his
plans for making the economy better. But don`t forget, he`s been president
for 3 1/2 years. And talk is cheap, actions speak very loud.


O`DONNELL: And working without a teleprompter, Romney did veer into a
new version of his big hit, "I like being able to fire people."


ROMNEY: In my experience in thinking about people who I want to have
work for me, whether it`s my doctor or the person that`s going to be
painting the house, I want to make sure they did a good job the first time.
And if they didn`t, I want someone who can do a better job.


O`DONNELL: Minutes after Romney`s speech, 250 miles away in
Cleveland, President Obama took the stage before a cheering crowd of 1,500
people at a community college. The president wanted Ohio to be ready for
the bombardment of negative campaign ads that will fill that state.


OBAMA: The other side will spent billions of dollars on ads that will
tell you the economy is bad, that it`s all my fault, that I can`t fix it
because I think government is always the answer or because I didn`t make a
lot of money in the private sector and don`t understand it, or because I`m
in over my head, or because I think everybody and everything is doing just
fine. That`s what the scary voice in the ads will say.

That maybe their plan to win the election but it`s not a plan to
create jobs. It`s not a plan to grow the economy.


O`DONNELL: The president went into much detail, but summarized his
plan for economic growth and economic fairness this way --


OBAMA: That`s my vision for America -- education, energy, innovation,
infrastructure, and a tax code focused on American job creation and
balanced deficit reduction.


O`DONNELL: The president told Ohio voters it is now up to them to
break the stalemate in Washington.


OBAMA: What is holding us back is a stalemate in Washington between
two fundamentally different views of which direction America should take.
And this election is your chance to break that stalemate.

This November you can provide a mandate for the change we need right
now. You can move this nation forward and you can remind the world once
again why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on
earth. Thank you.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Alex Wagner and Ari Melber.

Now, in the rewrite tonight, I`m going to get into the very weirdest
thing Romney said in the speech. But my favorite thing he said, my
favorite substantive point he said was something that will be, I`m sure,
ignored by all the political media until now. And that was, of course, the
tax increase that he proposed. Let`s listen to Romney proposing a tax
increase on day one.


ROMNEY: Well, on day one, I`ll label China a currency manipulator and
that will allow me to apply tariffs where they steal our intellectual
property and kill jobs.


O`DONNELL: Now, tariffs, of course, come under the jurisdiction of
the tax committee because they are a sales tax paid by Americans on Chinese

Alex, it`s not every day that you hear a Republican candidate for
president saying on day one, I`ve got a sales tax increase for you.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Yes. It`s not every day that you hear a
Republican candidate trying to gin up enthusiasm at a pivotal point in his
campaign by channeling sort of anger, economic frustration at China.

This Romney day one, Lawrence, based on the ad that we`ve seen so far
is going to be the longest day in history. I`m not quite sure it`s the
kind of day that we measure on the current calendar, because apparently
he`s going to do everything that day. He`s going to balance the deficit.
He`s going to repeal Obamacare with something else, we don`t know what.
He`s going to deal with our relationship with China.

I mean, these are platitudes. I mean, you know, Mitt Romney has
railed against the president`s lack of substance on these issues. He has
offered us nothing in the way of actual policy prescriptions -- aside from
putting his arm around Paul Ryan`s budget plan.

Now, I think the president was masterful today in really wrapping Mitt
Romney and the extreme wing of the Republican Party together and saying, in
effect, these guys are outliers, they are even divorced from traditional
Republicans who have been great through the country through time. He
channeled Nixon, he talked about Abe Lincoln, he talked about Ronald

And he positioned Mitt Romney as somebody who`s distinctly out of
touch and has policies that will be incredibly detrimental to this country.

O`DONNELL: Well, Alex, let`s listen to the president -- I agree the
president was really good and clear at outlying what is the Romney economic
plan. Romney didn`t bother to do that, really.

Let`s listen to how Romney outlined that Romney economic plan.


OBAMA: They`ll start by cutting nearly $1 trillion from the part of
the budget that includes everything from education, and job training, to
medical research and clean energy.

It would also take away coverage from another 19 million Americans who
rely on Medicaid.

And they propose turning Medicare into a voucher program, which will
shift more costs to seniors and eventually end the program as we know it.

Tens of millions of middle class families will end up paying higher
taxes. Many of you would end up paying higher taxes to pay for this other
tax cut.


O`DONNELL: And, Ari, the truth of it is, the president was being way
too fair there because he wasn`t factoring in that the Republicans at the
same time are promising to close the budget deficit, also cut taxes. If
you`re to do that, you`re basically going to be closing down the federal

ARI MELBER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that`s about right. And
that`s the whole problem here. There`s this language about the president
being in over his head, but has Alex Wagner is saying so many of these
plans are not detailed. All we know was that there would be these drastic
cuts to the bone.

There was the big Fed study out last week that showed people in the
bottom fifth saw their saving, their net worth go from about $1,500 down to
zero over the past three years. So, if you have something set aside and
you`re down to zero, you`re in a lot of trouble.

And Medicare, which gives people at the lowest bracket some kind of
basic medical insurance and safety net, you know, cutting that basically
takes people and puts them one medical emergency away from bankruptcy or
homelessness. I don`t mean to so sound very dramatic from this, but this
is very real, as anyone watching those in this economy.

And that`s what they`re talking about doing, is not targeting the
middle or the upper middle. These are not sort of questions about
tradeoffs. This is literally taking programs there for the neediest and
trying to go right at them. And basically a huge risk to people who need
the most help right now.

O`DONNELL: Alex, it was a long speech, 54 minutes, I think. Those of
us who have to watch it to review it and those in the hall are the ones
that saw the whole thing. But I think the president knows that. He was
leaving a bunch of sound bites for Ohio media to use, for us to use. He
doesn`t expect anyone to get through the whole thing.

One of the passages that struck me a lot was he did something that
indicates a kind of confidence in a campaign. He got to a point where he
was saying if you agree with that, vote for the other guy. He got into a
rhythm of go ahead and vote for him if you agree with that and if you agree
with that and if you agree with that.

And then he did a little chuckling challenge to the press saying, I
look forward to the media checking out the facts of how I, President Obama,
have described the Romney plan.

There was real confidence in that.

WAGNER: Yes, I totally agree with you, Lawrence. That stood out.
Also as part of that, this sort of shift in narrative, because the
president has been making a lot of "I" statements, "we" statements.

This is the first speech where he said -- you, American voter, you
have a chance to break this stalemate.

The other thing that does is it gets people to buy into this election.
There`s a lot of talk about disenfranchisement, lack of enthusiasm.

And here was the president clearly laying out two incredibly different
paths of the country and saying you, American voter, this is your country.
This is your America. If you want one thing, go for the Republicans. If
you want the country that I am proposing, vote in November. This is the
future and you are part of it and you have a chance to make a difference.

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner and Ari Melber, thank you both very much for
joining me tonight.

And I`m telling you guys, do not leave your seats because coming up in
the rewrite, the weirdest thing Romney said today in the speech -- you
don`t want to miss the speech. Stay right there.

We`re going to also go into why Ohio is so important this year and
every year. Joe Klein is in Ohio, along with Ohio State Senator Nina

And later, Rush Limbaugh tries to tell nuns what to do. That is not
going to work out so well for Rush. Sister Simone, one of the nuns on the
bus, will join me. And Rush Limbaugh is so lucky, just so lucky he`s not

But Lisa Ling is here and she`s done a close-up look at the work
American nuns are doing. That`s coming up.



DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: Other ways Mitt Romney describes a donut.
Here we go -- number 10, powdered snack cylinders. Number eight, leavened
batter globules. Nubmer six, perforated strudel orbs. Number three,
glazed giddy-ups. Number two, Chris Christie kremes. And number one,
another way Mitt Romney describes doughnuts, the Cadillac of pastries.
There you go.




OBAMA: This November is your chance to render a verdict on the debate
over how to grow the economy, how to create good jobs, how to pay down our
deficit. Your vote will finally determine the path that we take as a
nation. Not just tomorrow, but for years to come.


OBAMA: When you strip everything else away, that`s really what this
election is all about. That`s what is at stake right now.


O`DONNELL: No one has won the presidency without winning Ohio since
1960. And no Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio.
The latest NBC News-Marist poll has president leading Mitt Romney in Ohio

Joining me now from Ohio, Joe Klein, "Time" magazine columnist, and
Nina Turner, Democratic Ohio state senator.

Senator Turner, you were in the hall today with President Obama during
the speech. Was the response in the hall reflective in the way that speech
is going to play in the rest of the state?

NINA TURNER (D), OHIO STATE SENATOR: Oh, very much so, Lawrence.
People were excited. Thousands of people that showed up, they still have
hope. Hope springs terns eternal. Ohioans recognize that Ohio is a
bellwether state and that the entire country`s eyes is on us.

You know, the president has visited Ohio over 21 times. He has over
30 offices in our state. The president has really never left the state of
Ohio over the four years. But, yes, everybody is fired up and ready to go
for the president.

O`DONNELL: Joe, I think Senator Turner and the people in the hall are
the only people in Ohio who will have seen the entire speech. It goes
about 50 minutes long. But they will pick up pieces of it in their local
news coverage.

It seems to be that was the Obama strategy, his layout, a big, long
speech. Let the local media pick out whatever pieces they want, let us use
whatever pieces we want.

What are you picking up in your travels in Ohio, Joe, about how these
two campaigns are playing there?

JOE KLEIN, TIME: Well, it`s going to be very close, Lawrence. I
spent the last five days. The middle part of my 21-day road trip here. I
met with all kinds of different people.

And, you know, the kind of speech the president made today, at least
the sound bites and the clips that I have seen, work well with the base.
And there are a lot of people on the Democratic side of the ledger. I met
with some UAW workers this morning who are ready to go out and work with
the president.

But this election is not going to be decided by them so much as it is
by the 10 percent or 20 percent of the middle of the electorate. I don`t
think this kind of speech does much for them at all because these are
people as I`ve spoken over the last few days who are incredibly skeptical
about the ability of government to do anything.

And the president has failed profoundly in his ability to explain to
them what he`s done. Nobody knows what`s in the Dodd/Frank bill. Nothing
clear is breaking up the big banks. Nobody knows what`s in Obamacare.
Nobody knows -- well, people know about the stimulus because it`s harder to
get to work because of all the road construction crews.

The one thing that has worked tremendously in the president`s
advantage here is the auto bailout where, you know, you go to a place like
Lordstown where they`re building the Chevy Cruze, and they`re running
triple shifts, and that factory was practically dead three years ago. A
lot of auto parts manufacturers are doing extremely well because the auto
industry is revived. And Mitt Romney was against that.

So the president still, though, has major lift. He has to start
explaining what he`s done.

O`DONNELL: Senator, if the voters of Ohio don`t quite know what the
president has done, as Joe was pointing out -- and voters everywhere I
think have similar levels of information that they`re dealing with. The
president was clear today about what he has tried to do that Republicans
have prevented him from doing. Is that as important a message for Ohio

TURNER: It`s very important, Lawrence. I think Ohio voters do know.
They know that Republicans wholesale tried to take away collective
bargaining rights from firefighters, police officers, teacher, highway
patrolmen and women, and they voted overwhelmingly, over 61 percent to
stand with workers in the state along with the president.

The residents of the Lordstown understand that the president saved the
auto industry ands thereby saved their jobs and their livelihood. And
their families understand that. The businesses understand that. The folks
in the state of Ohio understand that the president is about saving the
middle class and that they do have a choice.

And the president made that very clear today that the choice is about
a president that stands up for the middle class. The president that
believes that everybody should put in their fair share or elect in someone
who only cares about the people at the very tough.

So, people do know the message will continue to get out. And we
should stand with the president.

In Ohio, we`re going to make history again by putting President Obama
back in the White House, or keeping him in the White House.

O`DONNELL: Joe, our polling shows President Obama with a larger lead
overall just on the question of who would you vote for.

But on this other question, which I think you are suggesting is the
most important question in Ohio, which candidate would do a better job
handling the economy? That is a statistical tie -- 45 percent say
President Obama, 42 percent say Mitt Romney. There isn`t a big gap there.

KLEIN: Well, there isn`t. But, you know, if Mitt Romney is going to
win this election, there has to be a big gap there in his favor, I would

But I do think that there isn`t much enthusiasm for Romney. But there
are an awful lot of people who wonder what the president has done. And
there are people who will vote for Romney over the incumbent because the
economy hasn`t come back to the extent it should have.

I mean, you go down to southeastern Ohio which is Appalachia and
people are really suffering there. You know, in places like Lordstown and
around Cleveland, the jobs have come back, but in a large part of the
state, they haven`t. And the amazing thing is in the places where the jobs
haven`t come back -- maybe it`s not so amazing -- those people are tending
to look more favorably on Romney.

O`DONNELL: "Time" magazine`s Joe Klein and Ohio State Senator Nina
Turner -- thank you both very much for joining me tonight.

TURNER: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the weirdest thing -- the very, very weirdest
thing that Mitt Romney said in his speech today. That`s all I`m going to
say about it. Stick around for "the rewrite," it`s all going to be in the
rewrite tonight.

And Rush Limbaugh is now in the business of attacking nuns. We`ll
find out how scared the nuns are of Rush Limbaugh when Sister Simone joins
me later. She`s one of the nuns on a bus tour protesting the Paul Ryan
budget plan.

And Lisa Ling will join us. She`s done her own up-close report on
American nuns. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: Republicans keep insisting their tax cutting mania is the
best way to grow the economy and increase jobs even though it has never
worked that way. Democratic presidents have a much better economic record
than Republican presidents and the numbers prove it. Robert Reich joins me

And in tonight`s rewrite -- what do you think was the weirdest thing
Mitt Romney said in that speech today? OK, here`s a hint: it was in the
spot where he talked about what he did on Memorial Day. I`ll explain what
was so weird about that in the rewrite.



ROMNEY: I want to make it once again -- America once again the most
attractive place in the world for job creators. And it`s not just because
I love job creators. It`s because I love jobs.

I want more good jobs for the American people and I want such
competition for good -- good workers that salaries and wages go up, so
people make more money. I want to help the middle class of America. And
I`m going to do it.

We`re poised to see a resurgence of American economic vitality.


O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, Mitt Romney and the Republicans`
plan to help the country experience what Romney calls, quote, "a resurgence
of American economic vitality." President Obama today described the Romney
plan with more specificity than Romney did.


allies in Congress believe deeply in the theory that we tried during the
last decade, the theory that the best way to grow the economy is from the
top down.

Governor Romney and the Republicans who run Congress believes that if
you simply take away regulations and cut taxes by trillions of dollars, the
market will solve all of our problems on its own. If you agree with that,
you should vote for them. And I promise you, they will take us in that


O`DONNELL: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed that when
talking about tax reform.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (D), MAJORITY LEADER: But without presidential
leadership, it simply can`t happen. Controlling only one chamber,
Republicans in Congress can only do so much.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Robert Reich, former labor secretary
under President Clinton, now a professor of economics at the University of
California Berkeley. Professor, today, I heard Mitt Romney announce how he
was going to bring this country back. And the plan -- the specifics that I
heard were two things. One, a tax increase. He didn`t use that phrase,
but he said he`s going to raise tariffs on Chinese products. So that is a
tax increase, as we know, paid by American consumers.

And then, secondly, repeal Obamacare. And that is, as far as I can
tell, the complete Romney plan on getting the economy running again. How
does it sound to you?

complete plan, it`s not nearly as bad as the plan that I`ve heard from
Romney in past months. It`s bad enough. I mean, raising tariffs on
Chinese goods is going to be a tax on average American consumer. Getting
rid of Obamacare, including all of the things that people like about
Obamacare -- that is the requirement that insurers provide coverage to pre-
existing conditions and allow parents to have coverage for their children,
even their children up to age 21, and so own and so forth -- I mean, Romney
wants to get rid of all of that, take us backwards to a time when 50
million Americans did not have any health care and they had to end up in
emergency rooms, and we all ended up paying anyway, because we support
those emergency rooms.

But Lawrence, there`s something else. Romney has said -- and he has
said repeatedly he wants to cut taxes on the very wealthy. The nonpartisan
Tax Policy Center here in Washington has done a computation of what
Romney`s taxes would do. And they`ve concluded that the typical
millionaire or someone earning over a million dollars gets 950,000 dollars
-- over a 10-year period, over 100,000 dollars simply in year one from
Romney`s plan.

I mean, this is absurd at a time when we have a budget deficit and so
many people in need in America. This is reverse Robin Hood.

O`DONNELL: The president gave a bit of a lecture about how we have
found ourselves in the economic predicament we`re in now and why the
American people are experiencing, in the middle class, a sense of economic
shrinkage, certainly of their buying power and their economic potential.
Let`s listen to that.


OBAMA: We`re recovering from the crisis of 2008 has always been the
first and most urgent order of business, but it is not enough. Our economy
won`t be truly healthy until we reverse that much longer and profound
erosion of middle class jobs and middle class incomes.

What makes our economy weak is when fewer and fewer people can afford
to buy the goods and services our businesses sell. Businesses don`t have
customers if folks are having such a hard time. What drags us all down is
an economy in which there`s an ever widening gap between a few folks who
are doing extraordinarily well and a growing number of people who, no
matter how hard they work, can barely make ends meet.


O`DONNELL: Last night on the show, we had Timothy Noah. He`s the
author of the new book, "The Great Divergence." He points out this
complementary fact to what the president was talking about. He says during
Democratic presidencies, pre-tax income increased much faster than during
Republican presidencies, not just for the 20th percentile, but also for the
40th, the 60th and the 80th. Americans were richer and more equal.

And you saw that as the labor secretary under President Clinton.

REICH: Absolutely. Those year, we had the best economy that we have
seen in this country over the past 60 years. And we did it because
everybody did better. The rising tide really does literally lift all
boats. The president is exactly correct, President Obama, when he says
that what we have seen, particularly over the last 30 year, except for the
Clinton administration, when we had this little interregnum of something
very different, is the wealthy, the top one percent getting more and more
of the total national pie, income and wealth.

Almost all the gains of productivity over the last five year, six
years have gone to the very top. What that means, in effect, is that the
middle class -- the vast middle class doesn`t have the purchasing power to
keep the economy going. The president has proposed, over and over again, a
variety of ways of dealing with this widening gap, this increasing
inequality. And Republicans on the Hill have simply said no. We don`t
want it. We want the rich to be even better.

Trickle down economics, which is their reigning principally philosophy
in terms of economics -- they`ve said it over and over again. Trickle down
economics does not work. It is bunk.

O`DONNELL: Robert Reich, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

REICH: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, is Rush Limbaugh working with the Vatican? Now
Rush Limbaugh is attacking American nuns. I know who`s going to win that
fight. Sister Simone will join me, as will Lisa Ling, who`s done a close
up report on American nuns.

And the weirdest draft dodger ever to run for president is always at
his weirdest when he`s talking about soldiers, talking about war veterans,
like he did today. Mitt Romney gets tonight`s Rewrite.


O`DONNELL: In the Rewrite tonight, another episode of when Republican
draft dodgers run for president. Republican draft dodgers are different
than Democratic draft dodgers. Bill Clinton dodged the draft and of course
was opposed to the war that he was afraid of getting drafted into. That`s
the way it is supposed to work.

Mitt Romney was afraid of getting drafted into the same war, the
Vietnam War, but he joined a demonstration in favor of that war and in
favor of the draft. That particular perversion is unique to conservative
draft dodgers. In fact, it may be unique to Mitt Romney, who is the
weirdest draft dodger who has ever won a major party nomination for

Now, don`t get me wrong. I completely support draft dodging. It was
a good and smart and indeed noble choice under the circumstances during
Vietnam. And it helped speed the end of an unjust and illegal war. But
honorable draft dodging required a certain consistency.

No honorable draft dodger I know urged other young men to submit to
the draft in his place, to go to Vietnam in his place, to die in his place.
I know of no one other than Mitt Romney whose conscious was so twisted.
Today in Ohio, this was by far the weirdest portion of the draft dodger`s


ROMNEY: On Memorial Day, I was in San Diego and had the privilege of
being with a number of veterans. I introduced three of them. One, a
Second World War vet, was a lookout on the USS Tennessee. He happened to
be there on the day of Pearl Harbor. He said his eyes locked on the eyes
of the pilot bringing armament -- bringing bombardment in to attack their

And he was injured in the attack, but he went on to serve for 33 years
in the United States Navy. I had him stand and be recognized. But I
noticed there weren`t as many Second World War vets as there used to be at
Memorial Days when I was younger.


O`DONNELL: The World War II vets that Romney saw at Memorial Days
when he was younger might be the only World War II vets Romney ever saw
when he was younger. Because as we reported here before, Romney men do not
go to war. Romney men do not join the American military. None of Mitt
Romney`s sons have joined. Mitt Romney refused to join when he was an
able-bodied man during the Vietnam War. He used four draft deferments over
five years to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War.

And his father did not serve in the military either. So in Romney
world, World War II vets are an exotic species. But most guys I know who
are Romney`s age woke up every day when they were kids with a World War II
vet in the house. My father was a World War II vet. My uncles were World
War II vets. All of the fathers in my neighborhood were World War II vets.

Seventy five percent of all eligible men served in World War II.
Barack Obama grew up in a home with a World War II vet, his grandfather.

But Romney world is a world apart from that chapter of the American
experience. Romney had more to say today about World War II vets.


ROMNEY: I noticed there aren`t as many Second Word War vets as there
used to be at Memorial Days when I was younger. They`re a little older.
They can`t hold the torch quite as high as they -- as they used to. That
torch is now going to have to be seized by us, by our generations.

It`s a torch of freedom and hope and opportunity. It`s not America`s
torch. But it`s America`s duty and honor to hold that torch high, so it
can be seen by the world. This is our time.


O`DONNELL: This is our time to seize that torch of freedom and hope
and opportunity. But wait a minute, what else did he say about that torch?


ROMNEY: It`s not America`s torch.


O`DONNELL: What? Well, if it`s not America`s torch and we seize it,
are we stealing it? And what did he say that the World War II vets were
doing with that torch?


ROMNEY: They can`t hold the torch quite as high as they used to.
That torch is now going to have to be seized by us, by our generations.


O`DONNELL: OK, OK, I get it, I get it. Since Romney men don`t go to
war and apparently don`t go to movies, he thinks that soldiers in war carry
torches. And Romney men are apparently happy to carry torches, especially
imaginary torches. Of course, no World War II vet carried a torch in war.
They carried guns, weapons of personal destruction.

They carried bayonets. They carried hand grenades. They carried
things no Romney man has ever carried. And with those things they were
carrying, those things they were carrying into battle, they did things that
they grew up never wanting to do, never dreaming that they would have to

They killed things with those things they carried into battle. And
most of them couldn`t bring themselves to talk about what they did in
combat for the rest of their lives. And now the World War II veterans who
are still with us have the pleasure of listening to a draft dodger talk
pure and utter gibberish about some magic torch he thinks they used to


ROMNEY: It`s a torch of freedom and hope and opportunity. It`s not
America`s torch, but it`s America`s duty and honor to hold that torch high,
so it can be seen by the world. This is our time.


O`DONNELL: You can rewind that and listen to it as much as you want.
It`s not going to make any sense. It is utter nonsensical gibberish. And
that`s what it sounds like when a Republican draft dodger runs for



ROMNEY: I`m in this race because I care about Americans. I`m not
concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs
repair, I`ll fix it.


O`DONNELL: That`s Mitt Romney showing that he knows how to stay out
of trouble with the Vatican. The Vatican chastised the Leadership
Conference of Women Religious, America`s largest group of Catholic nuns,
for caring too much about the very poor and not spending enough time
crusading against abortion and same-sex marriage.

Vatican spokesman Rush Limbaugh put it this way --


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Do you know what the nuns are
doing? The nuns have gone Feminazi on everybody. This small group of nuns
in the Catholic church is going feminist. And the Vatican is obviously,
figure of speech, slapping them down.

The Vatican is trying to tamp it down and say no, no, that doesn`t
happen. There`s no such thing as a feminist nun.


O`DONNELL: OK, Rush, let me tell you something. I had eight years of
the Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Brendan`s School in Boston, and that is
not the way to talk to or about nuns. What do you think a nun is going to
do when you call her a Feminazi? You think she`s going to run and hide
because Rush is mad at her?

OK, Rush, I know, I know. You`re not going to take my advice, so
maybe you`ll listen to Sister Simone. Joining me now, Sister Simone
Campbell, executive director of the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby,
and Lisa Ling, host of "Our America" on Own. Next week`s episode is "The
Brides of Christ," a close look at American nuns.

Sister Simone, Rush Limbaugh just called you a Feminazi. I cannot --
I really truly cannot imagine a nun`s reaction to that, but please, please
let`s hear it.

I was actually kind of amused by it because it`s so far from the truth.
It`s obviously a caricature that doesn`t apply. We`re so much about living
a deep spiritual life and serving the needs of people who are at the
margins of society, caring for the poor, as Jesus did.

And to think that that`s some sort of whatever he called, Feminazi
thing, it`s just amusing. It`s also says that we`ve kind of riled him up
and the fact that we`re maybe being effective as he`s getting offended.

O`DONNELL: We he certainly got -- then he got laughs all around,
because he was getting laughs in the studio, with Lisa and me, with my own
personal experience with nuns. Lisa, you`ve done a very close up study of
nuns like Sister Simone and others in the country who are working on things
that would surprise a lot of people.

LISA LING, OWN NETWORK: That`s right. We spent time with a number of
different nuns. And there are thousands of different orders. But I`m not
a particularly religious person, but an Irish nun here in Los Angeles had a
huge impact on me. And she was the first person in whom I actually saw
God. She`s someone who has become a mother figure to transgender youth,
people who have been kicked out of their home.

The way I met her was she actually helped me find this young girl who
was working as a prostitute a safe place to stay. And I realized that this
is the kind of person -- I mean, the parallels that I saw between Sister
Margaret and that guy Jesus to me were pretty startling. So it`s
interesting that the Vatican has chosen to reprimand.

O`DONNELL: Let`s hear from Sister Margaret. We have a piece of tape
of your show. Let`s listen to that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many of them have come from homes that are
Christian homes and they are told that they are sinful, they`re going to go
to hell, they`re going to die. So many of them have a lot of these like
deep questions.

Hi. How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t come to church with you this Sunday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But next Sunday, I promise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of them have this idea like wow, we didn`t
think a nun like you would want to be here with us. They definitely don`t
expect me to be around in a pair of jeans and a shirt around the place.


O`DONNELL: Sister Simone, it seems like some of the more old
fashioned Catholics would like you to spend more of your day telling people
how they can go to hell.

CAMPBELL: Well, that`s quite a provocative way to put it. I know
that I find our life much more enriching if I engage with ways to live more
deeply the spiritual values of the gospel, the way to be faithful to Jesus`
call to respond to the needs of the poor and those who are left out. I
would leave to God the judging. I just try to live in love.

And as we say in our community, live in love for the Lord Jesus
Christ. That`s all we try to do.

O`DONNELL: Now, sister, I know in your advocacy for the poor, it
includes an objection that you have to the Paul Ryan budget. I want you to
listen to what Paul Ryan has had to say about the role of Catholicism has
played in his budget.


option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenants of Catholic social
teaching, means don`t keep people poor. Don`t make people dependent on
government, so that they stay stuck in their station in life. Help people
get out of poverty, onto life of independence.


O`DONNELL: Sister Simone, your response?

CAMPBELL: Well, actually that little piece is fine. The problem is
that`s the only piece that Congressman Ryan has. Because his answer is
that everybody needs to do that individually. And the fact is the other
piece of Catholic social teaching that is at the core of this is that we
also are all about solidarity and community, and that no one can do this

Only together, as community, having each other`s backs can anyone move
-- develop, grow, have a life that`s fulfilling and full of dignity. Paul
Ryan leaves out the solidarity of community and thinks everyone should just
be individualistic.

O`DONNELL: Lisa, what are some of the surprising things that you
learned about nuns. You didn`t know a lot about nuns going into this.

LING: As I said earlier, there are a number of different orders. We
spent some time with some young women who are going into the convent for
the first time. And there are fewer young women entering religious life
than ever before. But what some of the sisters told me is that those young
women who are going into it are actually choosing the more conservative
life and wanting to wear the habit.

It`s kind of interesting when you think about culture today. You
know, women will live in this culture. We are told we can never be pretty
enough or skinny enough. And these women are making, in some ways, the
most extreme decision a woman can make, and in some ways liberating
themselves from those pressures.

O`DONNELL: You visited one convent that`s really removed from the
world as we know it. Are they even aware of the tensions between the
Vatican and other American nuns who are out there doing activist work?

LING: I think they are aware of it. And some of those nuns are very
much in line with what the Vatican is suggesting. So there are different
perspectives, I think, within religious life, amongst different women in
religious life.

O`DONNELL: Sister Simone, you`re not going to do what Rush Limbaugh
wants you to do and just quiet down and disappear. But you are leading --
one of the leaders of the Nuns on a Bus Tour. Tell us about that.

CAMPBELL: Well, it`s our attempt to raise up the fallacy in
Congressman Ryan`s budget that`s been passed by the House. This budget
will devastate people who are poor in our country. It completely under --
eviscerates the social special net. And you know what? It shifts that
money to further tax cuts for the wealthy and more money for the Pentagon,
just at a time where our economy is so fragile and people in poverty really
need it.

So the challenge that is here is going to be on the bus, speaking out
in nine states over two weeks, to show what the problems are.

O`DONNELL: Sister Simone, I want you to know that I feel myself in
perpetual debt to the nuns. They taught me how to read and write, which
was no small task in my case. Sister Simone Campbell and Lisa Ling, thank
you very much for joining us tonight.

Lisa ling`s show "Our America," airs Tuesdays on Own. And again, than
you both for joining me.

LING: Thank you.

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


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