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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, July 23, 2012

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Bruce Bartlett, William Saletan, Charles M. Blow

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Once again, an American massacred as many
people as possible for, among other reasons, to get attention. And he got
the attention he wanted. But he won`t be getting it from me.


ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: There was a brief suspension of politics,
but no more.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST: Both campaigns are back in full swing.

MITCHELL: Mitt Romney, back on the campaign trail. The president
back on the campaign trail.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: We know that Mitt Romney is going on a big
foreign trip overseas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitt`s going abroad, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Setting off this week on his first foreign trip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How`s that going to go?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney`s focusing on three countries.

MITCHELL: He starts in London, he starts in the Olympics.

WAGNER: But then he`s going on to Israel and Poland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Israel and Poland have very conservative

conservative Republican governor.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He is afraid of offending the
right-wing base of the Republican Party.

ROMNEY: Do I believe Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes.

I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.

Do I believe that Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes.

Since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should
sustain and support it.

I`m not familiar precisely of what exactly what I said, but I stand by
what I said, whatever it was.

WAGNER: Meanwhile, David Axelrod --

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: Obama senior campaign advisor David Axelrod

WAGNER: -- wasted no time getting back on the offensive --

JANSING: We just got a tweet.

WAGNER: -- tweeting, tax returns, bundlers, Bain.

JANSING: Massachusetts records and now key documents from the

WAGNER: When it comes to secrecy, Mitt takes the gold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His campaign knows that they`re going to have to
really fight hard.

BALL: President Obama is pushing his foreign policy record at the VFW
convention in Reno.

shining values, the virtues that make America great.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, I think the lines of attack are definitely
being revived.

Christie, Romney will be the nominee and we`ll lose.



O`DONNELL: Today, the campaigns returned to criticizing the opponents
and Mitt Romney returned to having bad days on the campaign trail.
Tonight, Mitt Romney went after President Obama on CNBC.


ROMNEY: It`s a very strange and in some respects, foreign to the
American experience type of philosophy. If you have a business and you
started it, you did build it. And you deserve credit for that. It was not
built for you by government.


O`DONNELL: Yes, you built it. Just like Jack Gilchrist. Remember
Jack Gilchrist? He`s the owner of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating Company and
starred in a Romney campaign ad.


didn`t build this company? Through hard work and a little bit of luck, we
built this business.


O`DONNELL: Today, we learn that Jack Gilchrist`s business, like so
many other American businesses, was built in part with government help.

In 1999, Gilchrist metal received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds
issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority. Gilchrist also
said his company received a U.S. Small Business Administration loan
totaling somewhere south of $500,000 in the late 1980s. He said his
business has also received matching funds from the New England Trade
Adjustment Assistance Center, which is federally funded.

A new report out today reveals even more secrecy surrounding the
Romney candidacy. Mitt Romney likes to remind voters that he presided over
the 2002 Olympic Games, some time before the 2012 election, the University
of Utah will release records from those games. But, unfortunately, those
records will not be complete.

Some of the documents that may have shed the most light on Romney`s
stewardship of the games were likely destroyed by Salt Lake Olympic
officials. ABC News has learned the archivists involved in preparing the
documents for public review told ABC News that financial documents,
contracts, appointment calendars, e-mails, and correspondence are likely
not included in the 1,100 boxes of Olympic records and will not be part of
the collection that will ultimately be made public.

Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod tweeted in response, "tax
returns, bundlers, Bain, Massachusetts records, and now key docs from
Olympics. When it comes to secrecy, Mitt takes the gold!"

Tonight, Mitt Romney defended his Olympic record that no one will be
able to fully vet.


ROMNEY: I`m afraid what`s primarily come from the president`s
campaign has been a series of attacks on me for my private sector work, by
the way, for which I`m very proud. Recently, the Olympics, which I`m also
very proud of. And of course, my leadership in Massachusetts.

And I think I was able to, by virtue of having a great team, able to
achieve some wonderful things there as well.


O`DONNELL: Today the Obama campaign released a new full minute
television ad that will run in nine swing states.


OBAMA: Over the next four months, you have a choice to make. It`s a
choice between two very different plans for our country. Governor Romney`s
plan would cut taxes for the folks at the very top, roll back regulations
on big banks. But you know what? We tried that top-down approach. It`s
what caused the mess in the first place.

I believe the only way to create an economy built to last is to
strengthen the middle class, asking the wealthy to pay a little more, so we
can pay down our debt in a balanced way.

Sometimes politics can seem very small, but the choice you face, it
couldn`t be bigger.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, our co-host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE,"
Krystal Ball and Steve Kornacki.

Let`s listen to what President Obama said on Friday with Rush
Limbaugh`s reaction to it today.


OBAMA: I`m sure that many of you who are parents here had the same
reaction that I did when I heard this news. My daughters go to the movies.
What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids do
every day?

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is an egomaniac, who really
thinks that the people of this country think he is more important than any
other human being alive in this country. And then I say, can he only
relate to this through his own flesh and blood? Why does he have to turn
everything of noteworthy consequence in this country around and so that
it`s about him?


O`DONNELL: Of course, the president didn`t only relate to it through
Sasha and Malia, but Krystal, let me explain something to you about Rush.
He`s in what is now about his 40th year of absolutely perfect birth
control. He has practiced perfect birth control.

And he does not have a child. So he does not realize that every
parent in America had, among other reactions, exactly the same reaction
that the president just described.

BALL: Well, and I can speak for myself. I have a young daughter, and
that was the way that I related to it. I mean, how dare the president
personalize this and speak to it as a husband and a father.

But Rush is feeding this group of people in the country a relatively
small group, but a large group within the Republican Party, who have to
find every single thing that the president says or does deeply troubling,
insulting, and generally awful. And he plays that role of finding
everything the president does awful and insulting, very well.

But in terms of the national dialogue, if you look at the country as a
whole, people in general really like this president. So, Limbaugh`s out on
a limb here. I mean, there`s a new Gallup poll that shows by a 2 to 1
margin, people find the president to be more likable than Mitt Romney. So,
when he`s playing to this small group, he`s energizing the base, but
certainly not winning over any new converts.

O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, Mitt Romney was just on Kudlow on CNBC,
and he made a statement about the Second Amendment. In fact, let`s listen
to it and we`ll react to it afterwards.


ROMNEY: I still believe that the Second Amendment is the right course
to preserve and defend, and don`t believe that new laws are going to make a
difference in this type of tragedy.


O`DONNELL: Steve, that sounds to me like the line he`s going to use
to coast through this. And my sense is the media and the political media
will just let this mass murder slide, just like they let all the others
slide, and there won`t be any real political pressure surrounding it in
terms of gun or ammunition control.

STEVE KORNACKI, CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": I think you`re right. I think
Romney probably will be able to slide in that.

But I think if we`re going to be honest about it, we`d have to say
part of the reason is there`s not going to be any pressure from his
opponent in this race on the subject. Barack Obama is not really anymore
interested in having a debate and having a discussion about gun control.
And that`s really consistent I think with the lesson the Democratic Party
has drawn from the last 10 years. I think a strong case can be made,
they`ve drawn the wrong lesson.

But what Democrats decided in the wake of the 2000 election with Al
Gore and President Bush, Democrats said we lost in 2000 because we lost
states like West Virginia, where sort of blue-collar, rural white
populations turned on us because we`re the party of gun control, so we`re
not going to talk about that anymore.

You remember, in 2004, when John Kerry ran literally a week or so
before the election, he went on a goose hunt in Ohio trying to appeal to
those same voters and say, look, I`m not Al Gore. John Kerry didn`t have
anymore luck with those blue-collar voters than Al Gore did, and Barack
Obama hasn`t had anymore luck with them either.

So, I mean, the case can be made that you`re being treated as the gun
control party, maybe you should act like it, but there`s still no
indication that Obama wants to do that. And if he`s not going to do that,
there`s not going to be any pressure on Romney.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and that --

BALL: And, you know, Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Krystal.

BALL: Steve and I were having this conversation earlier. An
interesting thing here is, is if you ask Americans about the individual
components, about an assault weapons ban, about limits on the number of
guns you can purchase, there is some support for those positions. But the
problem is the NRA takes all of those things and bundles them up and send
out these neat little postcards right before Election Day saying, this
candidate is supporting the Second Amendment and this one is not. And it`s
not broken down into the individual components.

So someone like my dad, who is a huge Second Amendment supporter and
really takes what the NRA has to say seriously, even he would be supportive
of some of these gun control measures that are reasonable, but when it
comes down to it, there`s this, you`re either with us or against us
mentality that doesn`t look at the nuance.

And that`s what Democrats are fighting against. That and the fact
that, I think on the left, there are people who care about gun control, but
it`s not as much of an animating issue as it is for people on the right.

O`DONNELL: I want to get to these Olympic records, because I, for
one, had my heart set on getting a big pile of Olympic records and e-mails,
so that I could look through there and see what e-mails were in there about
maybe, you know, having some Bain meetings or Bain phone calls that
conference calls that Romney had to participate in.

I`d love to see who got contracts there with the Olympics, that
profited from it through Romney`s good offices.

Steve Kornacki, I`m not going to get those records. It`s going to be
just like the state, the governors` records in Massachusetts.

BALL: You`re shocked.

KORNACKI: I think there`s some box somewhere that`s got all the
Massachusetts stuff, that`s got all the Olympic stuff.

BALL: Those tax records.

KORNACKI: You know, my conspiracy theory has been, you know, what you
might get during the Olympics is a little bit more in the way of tax
information, tax records from Mitt Romney. They might wait until the
Olympics to put something more out.

I was thinking that a week ago, but I think the case has sort of been
made, that Romney`s sort of strategy on this is to run out the clock as
much as you can, wait until the media gets distracted by something else,
waits until the political world gets distracted by something else. And
everybody kind of forgets the tax thing.

And I`m feeling a little more now than I was a week ago that he might
be able to pull that off.

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

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Mitt versus Mitt. Now, I know that you know
that Mitt Romney has changed his position on abortion, but you might not
know how much he`s changed it and how often he`s changed it and what he
looks like when he`s changing it.

We will show you a short video of Mitt Romney in every turn in his
abortion road over the years. That`s coming up.

And tonight, we welcome "The New York Times" to our "Off the Cliff"
campaign. "The Times" has editorialized in favor of going "Off the Cliff".

And Charles Blow will join me later to discuss the latest chapter in
the seemingly never-ending story of mass murder in America.


O`DONNELL: A few of your ideas for our "Off the Cliff" campaign

This is from Marco Roka (ph) of Philadelphia.

Nick Levy (ph) from Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, sent this one via e-

And this one was submitted by Cody White (ph) from Denver.

And Antoine Key (ph) of Birmingham, Alabama, submitted this one via

Keep them coming. Our "Off the Cliff" segment is next.

And later, Mitt Romney`s long and very twisted road on abortion.



O`DONNELL: In tonight`s episode of "Off the Cliff," we welcome "The
New York Times" to the LAST WORD`s "Off the Cliff" campaign. On Friday,
"The Times`" lead editorial cheered on Senator Patty Murray, known here as
Senator Thelma, for her idea of letting all of the Bush tax cuts expire on
schedule, on new year`s eve, and letting automatic spending cuts go into
effect on New Year`s Day, thereby forcing Republicans into a reasonable
negotiation over tax and spending policy.

Here`s that "Times" editorial right here. We put a little "Off the
Cliff" campaign button on it, right there. "The Times" editorial
recognized that this would make Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge
irrelevant to the process. By letting all of the tax cuts expire on
schedule, "The Times" said Republicans can then join Democrats in restoring
the cuts, only for income up to $250,000. No vote need be taken on raising
taxes for the rich. And thus, Republicans won`t have to remove their no-
tax increase straight jacket, so says "The New York Times."

Then on Sunday, Bill Keller, the former editor of "The New York
Times," stepped up with an op-ed entitled, "Head For the Cliff," pointing
out that the New Year`s Eve fiscal cliff gives President Obama leverage
with Republicans that he has never had before.

Here`s Bill Keller`s op-ed piece, "Head for the Cliff," right there.
Can we see that? And in it, Bill Keller said, "If no deal emerges, all the
Democrats have to do is take a page from the Republican playbook, dig in
their heels, and do nothing."

Joining me now is someone else who`s ready to go "Off the Cliff",
Bruce Bartlett, who served as executive director of the Joint Economic
Committee, as senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House, and as
deputy assistant secretary of the treasury during George H.W. Bush`s
administration, now a columnist for "The Fiscal Times" and author of the
book, "The Benefit and the Burden."

Bruce, we heard today in some terms, anyway, from both President Obama
and Mitt Romney about the coming fiscal cliff and sequester, a bunch of
different terms being used for this. Let`s listen to what the president
said about it.


OBAMA: Those big across-the-board cuts, including defense that
Congress said would occur next year if they couldn`t reach a deal to reduce
the deficit. There are a number of Republicans in Congress who don`t want
you to know that most of them voted for these cuts. Now they`re trying to
wriggle out of what they agreed to do.


O`DONNELL: Bruce, the Republicans are getting very nervous about some
of this and especially, according to your reporting, the defense cuts.

BRUCE BARTLETT, THE FISCAL TIMES: That`s right. As you know, a big
part of the sequester or the fiscal cliff, rather, is a $1.2 trillion
spending cut, $600 billion on the defense side, $600 billion on the
domestic side. And the Republicans are very panic about the $600 billion
on the defense side.

Dick Cheney has been telling them, oh, you can`t do this. Our
defenses will be gutted, and other things of that sort.

And one of the interesting things is that they`re trumpeting a study
from the Aerospace Industries Association, protecting 2 million jobs will
be lost from this defense sequester. But that suggests that we`re also
going to lose 2 million from the nondefense sequester, and that also
suggests that if spending cuts reduce jobs, then maybe spending increases
might increase them.

O`DONNELL: And, Bruce, so that`s Republicans saying, look, we have a
study that says, if we cut defense spending, we will lose jobs. And they
have been arguing in the past, including Paul Ryan and all these people,
that the government has no affect on jobs whatsoever.

BARTLETT: Well, on the contrary, they say that cutting spending
increases jobs. That is what Paul Ryan has said. And so, now they`re kind
of caught in this conflict, now that their sacred cow is being cut, and I
think it`s important that the people understand the illogic of their

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Mitt Romney had to say about this.


ROMNEY: What the president should do is say, look, we`re going to
extend for at least a year the -- well, I would like to see it permanent,
but at least a year, the current tax environment. This sequestration
related to defense spending, in particular, has to be put off.


O`DONNELL: Bruce, that`s Mitt Romney tonight on CNBC, clearly afraid
of what`s coming here.

BARTLETT: That`s right. And one of the things that I noted in my
column is that there`s a law that requires companies that are going to have
to have mass layoffs to give 60 days` notice. Now, if you compact 60 days
from December 31st, you come to about five days before the election. And I
think that`s one of the things Republicans are concerned about.

But I do agree completely with what you`re saying about the tax side
and Peter Orszag and other people such as myself have been endorsing this
idea for months. My fear, though, is that Obama will not sufficiently
exploit this situation and will simply ask Congress to continue the Bush
tax cuts, except for the top 2 percent or above $250,000, and that`s all.
And that`s not enough. We need to do a lot more than that.

O`DONNELL: Bruce, my guess is, tonight, if the president asked for
that, he wouldn`t get it from Democrat s. There would be Democrats like
Patty Murray and others that would say, nope, we`re going to go "Off the

Bruce Bartlett, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

BARTLETT: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Send us your designs for the "Off the Cliff!" campaign
button. You can tweet us, post it on our Facebook us, or e-mail us, where
you`ve gotten, and showed you things from every one of those sources

Coming up, Mitt Romney versus Mitt Romney on abortion. A video that
you really have to see, watch Mitt Romney changing his contradictory
positions on abortion through the years. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, has
died. Sally Ride rode into space in 1983 when she was 32 years old and
once again, the next year. Later she served as the first director of
NASA`s Office of Exploration and founded Sally Ride Science to help
teachers and students of science technology and math. She died today of
pancreatic cancer at her home in La Jolla, California. Sally Ride was 61
years old.

Also leaving us today here in Los Angeles, Academy Award-winning
screenwriter Frank Pierson. He graduated from Harvard College in 1946,
began writing for 1950s television series and wrote some of the most
memorable scenes in film industry.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we`ve got here is failure to communicate.
Some men, you just can`t reach.



like to get kissed a lot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re a city cop, right? Robbing a bank is a
federal offense. They`ve got me on kidnapping and robbery. They`re going
to bury me, man. I don`t want to talk to somebody who`s trying to calm.
Get somebody in charge here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am in charge here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t want to talk to some flunky pick trying to
calm me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you get back there! Get the (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) back there! Go back there, man! Get over there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wants to kill me, so be it. He can taste it.

Attica! Attica! Attica! Attica!


O`DONNELL: Frank P once described his method to younger writers this
way: Sit down at 10:00 in the morning and write anything that comes into my
head until 12:00. One of the few things I`ve discovered about writing is
to form a habit that becomes an addiction so that if you don`t put
something down on paper every day, you get really mean and awful, with
withdrawal symptoms and your wife and your dog and your kids are going to
kick your ass until you get back to it, because they can`t bear you in that
state of mind."

Frank Pierson left his wife, his two children, and five grandchildren.
Frank Pierson was 87 years old.



ROMNEY: And my view is that we should -- we should protect the
sanctity of life, unborn and living. And -- or unborn and born.


O`DONNELL: That was Mitt Romney just 13 days ago, telling a
Republican audience his current position on abortion. That`s a long way
from the Mitt Romney who ran for governor of Massachusetts saying he would
never, never waiver on keeping abortion safe and legal, because he
personally lost someone close to his family after an illegal abortion.

Mitt Romney publicly announced that position only after commissioning
a poll that found that a pro-life candidate couldn`t win statewide in
Massachusetts. In the Spotlight tonight, William Saletan of has
chronicled Mitt Romney`s political and moral evolution on abortion.


ROMNEY: Preserve and protect a woman`s right to choose, a woman`s
right to choose, for a woman to make that choice herself. The woman should
have the right to make her own choices as to whether or not to have an
abortion. But a woman should have her own right to choose.

I will preserve and protect a woman`s right to choose. When I`m
governor, and I`m convinced I will be, I will preserve and protect a
woman`s right to choose. I do not take the position of a pro-life
candidate. I`m in favor of preserving and protecting a woman`s right to

WILLIAM SALETAN, SLATE.COM (voice-over): Five years later, when
Romney was running for president as a pro-lifer, he developed an amazing
case of anesthesia.

ROMNEY: I never called myself pro-choice. I never allowed myself to
use the word pro-choice because I didn`t feel I was pro-choice.

SALETAN: When Romney ran for the Senate in 1994, he didn`t just
support abortion rights, he said pro-choice voters could count on him
because he had personal experience with abortion.

ROMNEY: Many, many years ago, I had a dear close family relative that
was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since
that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief
that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others
on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that.

SALETAN: But years later when he was running for president, Romney
didn`t just waver, he insisted that until he become governor, abortion had
been just a theoretical issue.

ROMNEY: It was quite theoretical and philosophical to consider what
the role of government should be in this regard. And I felt that the
Supreme Court had spoken and that government shouldn`t be involved and let
people make their own decisions.

And then I became governor. And the theoretical became reality, if
you will.

SALETAN: The reality of Romney`s beloved relative dying from an
illegal abortion had apparently been forgotten. When Romney started to run
for president, he started to tell this story about a conversation in 2004
that changed his life.

ROMNEY: A couple of years ago, as we were dealing with actually stem
cell research, I sat down with a researcher. And he said, look, you don`t
have to think about this stem cell research as a moral issue, because we
kill the embryos after 14 days. And I -- that struck me, as he said that.
And I thought, is that the extent to which we`ve cheapened life?

Has the Roe v. Wade process and approach so cheapened life that we
think about killing embryos without batting an eye? And I recognized that
I can no longer stand in the posture of saying, look, I`m personally
opposed, but I`m not going to change the law.

I needed to make it very clear that, in my view, we are wrong to
accept abortion, other than in cases of rape and incest.

SALETAN (on camera): But that conversion story doesn`t hold up.
Because after that conversation in 2004, Romney kept saying the same thing
he had always said, that he was personally opposed to abortion, but he
wouldn`t change the law. Here`s what Romney told "Washington Post"
reporters in February 2005.

ROMNEY: So I`m personally pro-life. As governor of Massachusetts,
which is an overwhelming pro-choice state, I committed that I would not
change the laws relating to abortion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, do you support making abortion illegal?
I`m not talking about what you would do as governor of Massachusetts.

ROMNEY: Yeah, but that`s all -- that`s the furthest I`m going to take
you right now.

SALETAN: Romney doesn`t just claim to have had a personal conversion
experience. He claims he tried to make his state pro-life.

ROMNEY: The conclusion I reached was that we had gone too far, that
cloning and that creating new embryos was wrong, and that we should,
therefore, allow our state to become a pro-life state.

SALETAN: Pro-life state?

ROMNEY: Pro-life state.

SALETAN: That`s not what the record shows. Here`s what Romney
actually said in 2005, well after his so-called conversion experience.

ROMNEY: I am absolutely committed to my promise to maintain the
status quo with regards to laws relating to abortion and choice. And so
far have been able to successfully do that. And my personal philosophical
views, my -- about, you know, this issue, are not something that I think
would do anything other than distract --

SALETAN: Contrast that with what Romney said three years later when
he ran for president.

ROMNEY: On every decision I could make as governor, I came down on
the side of life. On the issue of abortion, for instance, I came down on
the side of life consistently as governor, in every way I knew how I could
do that.

SALETAN: "In every way I could." What Romney is saying is that after
his conversion, he decided he would support the pro-life position on any
bill that came to his desk. But that isn`t true. We know it isn`t true
because "the Washington Post" reporters who interviewed Romney in February
of 2005 saved their recording.

Here`s what Romney said in that interview about a conversation with a
member of his staff.


ROMNEY: Sean came to me the other day and said, oh, there`s a new
bill coming up with regards to a particular matter. And I said, don`t tell
me what it does, I will veto it. It relates to choice and abortion. I
said, I don`t know whether it`s pro-life or pro-choice. I said I would not
support any change to the law while I was governor.

SALETAN: So what does Romney really think about abortion? Here`s
what he said in October 2011 on Fox News.

ROMNEY: Yeah, I am pro-life and would prefer to have the courts
decide that individuals -- rather, that states have the ability to make
their own decisions with regards to abortion.

Individuals -- states.

Individuals -- states have their the ability to make their own
decisions with regards to abortion.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is William Saletan who covers science,
technology and politics for Will, I want to go to a point in
your story about this where you talk about a trip to Salt Lake that Mitt
had to make when he was going to become a pro-choice candidate.

You say he went to speak to the leaders of the LDS Church there. You
said, he told them he would say that he opposed abortion personally, but
that such private beliefs shouldn`t be imposed on others. Romney argued
that this view was acceptable under the Doctrine of Free Agency. And he
used the poll data to close the sale. If he didn`t frame his position as
pro-choice, he`d lose.

Many of the church leaders were unhappy with Romney`s formulation, but
if they wanted him in the Senate, this was the best they were going to get.
Will, that is as strange a political/religious meeting as I`ve ever read

SALETAN: And that`s classic Romney. You know, Romney -- it was the
beginning of a pattern that has characterized his whole career. Here`s a
guy who comes from a background that is pro-life. He`s a Mormon. He`s a
believing Mormon about abortion.

And he`s got a mom who`s pro-choice. And he`s got this personal
experience of a woman in his family who died from an illegal abortion. And
he essentially can play the issue either way depending on which side of his
heart he emphasizes. He`s kind of like a running back, who just sees the
defender coming and sort of steps this way, then the other way. And it`s
back and forth and back and forth, navigating his way through the political

And that situation with the Mormon Church is fascinating, because he`s
going to a religious organization, and he`s trying to tell them how he can
square the position he`s going to take with them. And he essentially hands
them this poll, and says, my pollster says I have to say this. And you`re
just going to have to eat it. Otherwise you won`t have a member of church
as a senator in Massachusetts.

O`DONNELL: You also got this -- you have this other quote from
someone, a Mormon feminist, actually, who was quite pleased with Mitt
Romney`s choice to be a pro-choice candidate. And she said -- this is her
story. She said, "I went to his office and I congratulated him on taking a
pro-choice position. And his response was, well, they told me in Salt Lake
City I could take this position. And in fact, I probably had to in order
to win in a liberal state like Massachusetts."

And Will, she then went on the to say that she was disappointed that
he didn`t seem genuinely a pro-choice. But then he insisted that he was
genuinely pro-choice.

SALETAN: Right, this is as genuine as Mitt`s going to get about
abortion. And she shouldn`t be disappointed. But the -- what he says
there about it`s a pro-choice state, a state like Massachusetts, I have to
take this position, that`s the pattern with Romney. Romney`s whole career
on abortion, and then we see this later on with some other issues, like
whether the individual mandate is a tax or a penalty, or whether he was CEO
of Bain Capital -- what we see is he`s got a series of changes over the
course of history. And then afterwards, he tries to go back and whitewash
it, that it was all one thing.

But if you look back, I count, Lawrence, actually about seven
different positions that Romney took on abortion, where he stepped back the
other way. So he starts out with this sort of mixed background. He takes
this poll, I`ve got to be pro-choice because I`m running in Massachusetts,
right? He goes out to the Mormon Church and he`s going to tell them how it
squares with their pro-life belief.

Then he goes and he runs for the Senate. He tells this very moving
story about the woman in his family, that he`s passionately pro-choice. He
goes back out to Utah, thinking about running for governor there. He
starts talking about his pro-life position. Back to Massachusetts running
for governor, and then he`s running for president in the Republican
presidential primaries, running as a pro-lifer again.

O`DONNELL: Yes, Will, it`s a much -- the way you laid it out in the
piece, it`s a much more twisted and strange road than I thought. I want
everyone to go to to read your piece and watch the full video.
We showed just a little bit more than half of it there, but it`s a great

Will Saletan of "Slate," thank you very much for joining us tonight.

SALETAN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Next in the Rewrite, did the Founding Fathers really want
criminals to be able to buy unlimited amounts of ammunition? Were they
really trying to protect your right to buy 6,000 bullets whenever you feel
like it?


O`DONNELL: In the Rewrite tonight, another huge win for the Grover
Norquist of gun control, Wayne LaPierre. Wayne is the blood-drenched
lobbyist who makes sure anyone in America, anyone can get 6,000 bullets,
even people who want to use those bullets to shoot babies in movie

Wayne LaPierre is not a credit hog like Grover Norquist. Grover loves
flexing his anti-tax lobbying muscles publicly. He loves calling senators
idiots. He loves taking credit for preventing any consideration of
sensible tax policy in this country.

Wayne is old school. Wayne LaPierre follows the old lobbyist playbook
of never publicly taking credit for anything. Every time an American mass
murderer uses the right that Wayne has preserved for any one in this
country, including al Qaeda and homicidal maniacs, to buy insane amounts of
ammunition, and then that mass murderer gets huge headlines, wall-to-wall
cable news coverage, and comments from the president, Wayne LaPierre never
takes credit for any of that. Never.

Wayne always does a kind of, aw shucks modesty thing and says, if I
hadn`t made sure that that mass murderer could get thousands of bullets, he
would have used something else to kill all those people. Talk about
modesty, huh. Maybe some of our mass murderers would have found another
way to kill a lot of people, but we`ll never know, will we? Because Wayne
has just made it so easy, so very easy to kill babies with bullets, to kill
fathers and mothers with bullets, to kill sons and daughters with bullets,
to kill sisters and brothers with bullets.

Bullets are the American mass murderer`s first choice. And what we`ll
never know is how many of them would be successful mass murderers today if
Wayne LaPierre didn`t make sure they could easily get bullets, unlimited
supplies of bullets. How many of our mass murderers would switch to making
bombs if they couldn`t get bullets?

And how many of them would blow themselves up by mistake while making
bombs and never hurt anyone else? Surely a few of them. Just how
determined are American mass murderers? We`ll never know, because Wayne
LaPierre makes it so, so easy for mass murderers.

Wayne has not said a word about our most recent mass murder. On
Friday, he had his press secretary put out this statement: "our thoughts
and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the community. NRA
will not have any further comment until all the facts are known."

See how modest Wayne is? He`s the head of the National Rifle
Association, and he wouldn`t even put his name on yet another high-profile
NRA press release about a mass murder. Wayne presumably spent the weekend
enjoying the summer with family and friends, none of whom were shot by a
mass murderer this weekend.

Wayne`s unlimited ammo-for-all policy has never negatively affected
Wayne`s life in any way. I invited Wayne to come on this program tonight,
but you know Wayne. Even when he deserves 24-hour media attention, Wayne
LaPierre is the perfect picture of modesty, blood-drenched modesty.


GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: I`m going to read 12 names.
And I would like -- after I read each name, I would like -- I would like
you each to say together, we will remember.

John Blunk (ph)

CROWD: We will remember.

HICKENLOOPER: A.J. Boik (ph) --

CROWD: We will remember.

HICKENLOOPER: Jesse Childress.

CROWD: We will remember.

HICKENLOOPER: Gordon Cowden.

CROWD: We will remember.

HICKENLOOPER: Jessica Ghawi.

CROWD: We will remember.


CROWD: We will remember.


CROWD: We will remember.

HICKENLOOPER: Micayla Medek (ph).

CROWD: We will remember.

HICKENLOOPER: Veronica Moser Sullivan.

CROWD: We will remember.

HICKENLOOPER: Alex Sullivan.

CROWD: We will remember.

HICKENLOOPER: Alex Teves (ph).

CROWD: We will remember.

HICKENLOOPER: And Rebecca Wingo (ph).

CROWD: We will remember.


O`DONNELL: I was asked to anchor a special edition of THE LAST WORD
on Friday night and I was available to do it, but I declined. Not only did
I not want to participate in that first-day coverage of America`s latest
mass murder. I didn`t know what I wanted to say about it. I only knew
that I didn`t want to say the suspect`s name and I didn`t want to show
pictures of him, because attention is so obviously one of the things he
desperately wanted.

I actually then sealed myself off from the coverage on Friday. I
didn`t want to hear a word about it. I read "the New York Times" account
Saturday morning, and actually have avoided collecting much more
information about it since then. I considered actually doing a show
tonight that would not mention our latest mass murder in any way, a show
that would deny the murderer the attention he wants, a show that would be a
subtle and probably too-subtle predictor of where the news media is headed
with this story, which is, of course, to, in effect, drop it, eventually,
as the American media always does with American mass murder stories,
without ever showing the way out of this trap of gun violence in America.

Joining me now with his reaction to our latest American mass murder,
Charles M. Blow, opinion writer for "the New York Times." Charles, I saw
your Saturday piece about gun control polling statistics and things. But I
would really just like to hand you the rest of this show, to get your
reaction about what you`ve observed and what you`ve been thinking since

CHARLES M. BLOW, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right. I think that,
obviously, in this case, and in every case where a life is lost, where
someone is murdered, your heart goes out to the victims of that murder.
And definitely, in this case, because of the scale of it, the tragedy of
it. And I think that it`s important for us to start to look, and do like a
self-examination and say, what does this say about us as a society?

Whether or not this happens in other places around the world, we, you
know, construct laws for our country. We have a society in which we live
and we can determine how that society operates. And in that construct, we
must look at how we interact with guns in this society. We must look at
how we deal with people who are obviously psychologically disturbed and how
those people may come to interact with guns.

Guns are incredibly efficient and unforgiving killing weapons. And
guns will, in most cases, outlive the person who purchases that gun. We
owe it to ourselves as a civil society to say, how do we track all of the
guns that flow into our society? We owe it to ourselves to say, how do we
manage ammunition? And should assault weapons or -- be allowed into the
hands of people in the general population?

Because invariably, they also go into the hands of the people who may
be mentally disturbed. And we can`t necessarily always run interference.
This is not to say that we will, tomorrow, end all mass killings in
America. But we must start to make steps in that direction, because as --
you know, what we have now just doesn`t work.

And if the NRA is basically going to hold the position that the way we
prevent these things from happening is to arm more people, that is just a
sad statement that does not wash. I am not one of the people who say,
let`s get rid of all guns in America. I grew up in a very rural part of
America where people use guns for hunting and that sort of thing. However,
just as you have a right to bear arms, people have a right to not bear arms
and also feel safe.

And that is the question we must ask ourselves, how do we balance
those two rights?

O`DONNELL: Charles, I got someone on my Twitter feed today who says
he`s never agreed with me on anything, and he came to an agreement with me
after a few exchanges about more regulation and control of ammunition
sales, which is where I`d like to see some focus of the future conversation
on this. Charles, thank you very much for joining me tonight. That`s
going to have to be the last word.

THE ED SHOW is up next.


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