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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Friday, October 12th, 2012

October 12, 2012

Guests: Howard Dean, Simone Campbell, Jane Edith Wilson

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Live from New York. It`s Friday night.
That`s right, a special Friday post-debate edition of THE LAST WORD.

You have not yet heard everything you need to hear about the debate,
including how we should change the rules of presidential debates.


Governor Romney takes some responsibility.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pile up the dynamite and light the fuse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And amped up Biden played a role of attack dog.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: A fierce and loyal attack dog for President

BIDEN: Make no mistake about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vice president is passionate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you`re passionate and you`re right, you`ve
got to talk.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Joe Biden`s performance dominated the
stage last night.

lowered tax rates and increased growth.

BIDEN: Now you`re Jack Kennedy.

MATTHEWS: As he went on offense against Paul Ryan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe was definitely Joe.

BIDEN: It`s about time they take some responsibility here.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: I`m not into man fights.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Mr. Ryan said last night to
Governor Romney was a car guy.

RYAN: Mitt Romney is a car guy.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I love cars. I love American

CLINTON: Well, if they had an elevator stack I guess he was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, the campaigning continues the post debate
campaigning has already kicked into high gear.

BIDEN: We`re going to level the playing field. We`re going to get
you back in the game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Biden came out swinging.

BIDEN: It`s time to acknowledge what got us into this trouble in the
first place.

ROMNEY: The vice president defends the status quo. We`re going to
fix the status quo and make things better.

BIDEN: That`s a bunch of malarkey.

ROMNEY: Paul Ryan and I care about each and every American.

BIDEN: Stop talking about how you care about people. Show me

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: The table is now reset for next week`s
matchup between the president and Governor Romney.

HALL: With the V.P. debate now over, here`s the question --

WAGNER: Who gets to hit the panic button next?


O`DONNELL: With 25 days until the presidential election, the Obama
re-election campaign is seizing on this statement by Paul Ryan in last
night`s debate.


MARTHA RADDATZ, MODERATOR: If the Romney/Ryan ticket is elected,
should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried?

RYAN: We don`t think that unelected judges should make this decision,
that people through their elected representatives, in reaching a consensus
in society through a democratic process should make this determination.


O`DONNELL: Joe Biden used that statement by Paul Ryan to remind
voters about the number one reason for voting for president.


BIDEN: If anyone had a doubt about what`s at stake in this election,
when it comes to women`s rights, and the Supreme Court, I`m sure they were
settled last night. Congressman Ryan made it very clear that he and
Governor Romney are prepared to impose their private views on everyone
else. It was made clear last night that they don`t believe in protecting a
women`s access to health care. It was made very clear that they do not
believe a woman has a right to control her own body.

The next president is likely to have almost surely have one and
probably two Supreme Court appointees. Roe v. Wade is hanging.

The single most consequential decision a president makes other than
going to war is the appointment in Supreme Court, because those
appointments live on long after any president is gone.


O`DONNELL: More than 51 million people watched last night`s vice
presidential debate. A post-debate poll released this afternoon from
"Reuters"/Ipsos found that 42 percent thought Joe Biden won the debate, 35
percent said Paul Ryan and 23 percent were not sure.

Rush Limbaugh is sure. He knows exactly who to blame for those poll
results showing Joe Biden winning.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I told you Raddatz was going to
behave as she did. It was in the cards. It was predictable. Ryan knew

It isn`t an excuse. You can get mad and say it was unfair. But
believe me, everybody else saw that it was unfair. Everybody else saw that
it was rude. Everybody else saw this is a stack deck.

Some of you might wish that Ryan would have been feistier and not let
them run all over him. And my guess is that he doesn`t debate much. It
might have been under orders. Let`s just get through this thing. Let
Biden be who we know he`s going to be, and realize you`re in a two against
one situation.


O`DONNELL: Tonight, Nate Silver of the "New York Times"
"FiveThirtyEight" blog forecast that on November 6th President Obama will
win 283 votes and Mitt Romney will within 255, and President Obama has a 61
percent chance of winning the election.

And joining me now are Ezra Klein and Krystal Ball.

Rush`s job you see is to counsel the depressed after last night`s
debate. What do you make of his -- Raddatz the unfair referee argument?
I`m having trouble thinking of exactly where she jumped in there to help
Joe Biden?

KRYSTAL BALL, "THE CYCLE" CO-HOST: Well, here`s the other thing. The
winning team doesn`t complain about the refs, right? He actually seemed to
me a little bit dispirited in that clip that you just played and I think
not only do conservatives feel like Ryan wasn`t aggressive enough that he
didn`t push the point enough. But they really expected him to wipe the
floor with Joe Biden. They have elevated him so far in their mind that
they thought it was just going to be a gimme. There was no way Biden could

So I think they are feeling a little dispirited today not only because
of the implications of the Romney/Ryan ticket but for Ryan himself who many
hope that he would be the future in 2016 or 2020 for the Republican Party.

O`DONNELL: Ezra, you know Paul Ryan and you know that Paul Ryan`s
experience in the House does not include free form debating. Unlike, in
the United States Senate, they actually have real debates on the floor, and
things go back and forth without moderators. And it`s real. But in the
House, it`s this Soviet institution where one side never really has to talk
to the other side, or take any real challenges from the other side.

EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC POLICY ANALYST: Also, I`ll go a little bit against
here, think Ryan did for Ryan a fairly good job. I thought he got his
points in. I thought he stood up and if you agreed with him, you probably
thought he won the debate.

The problem was Joe Biden is a really good debater. I mean, he`s been
a six-term senator ever elected to the body. He was named vice president
in 2008 largely on the strength of his debating performances. It isn`t
like he had won a bunch of primaries.

And yet there`s a funny thing that happens with Joe Biden in between
where people got this kind of "Onion" inflicted impression of him as the
guy Washington (INAUDIBLE) parking of the White House, and he comes out and
what Biden is particularly good at and what Ryan is unable to counter is
Biden wields authority well. I`ve known B.B. for 35 years.

BALL: I was there.

KLEIN: I was in the room. And that for a guy who looks even younger
than he is like Ryan was devastating.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Joe Biden talking about Romney`s 47


BIDEN: These are the folks who talk about 47 percent of the American
people being unwilling to take responsibility.

Eighty-two percent of them pay their payroll taxes and other taxes,
and at an effective rate higher than Romney pays his taxes. Over 10
percent of them are senior citizens on Social Security. The rest are
disabled vets and veterans and military personnel fighting now. That`s the
47 percent. The 47 percent this nation depends on to build this country.


Folks, it`s about time Governor Romney takes some responsibility --
takes some responsibility to help the American people in the middle class,
instead of lining up to sign a pledge to a guy named Grover Norquist.


O`DONNELL: Ezra, I got to say, for me, one of my favorite moments in
the debate was him pointing out the effective rate Romney pays compared to
what other people in the real world pay. I`m not sure how many people
jumped on that as their favorite little moment.

KLEIN: You and me, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: But Biden and is finding more effective ways of isolating
that Romney tax return 14 percent number.

KLEIN: And it wasn`t just that. Biden I thought actually figured out
what Obama didn`t figure out a week before, which is how to deal with the
Romney/Ryan ticket on taxes and on Medicare and on Social Security, which
is the strategy thus far has been to kind of trap you in thickets of

Well, you can`t say it`s $5 trillion because we haven`t told you how
we`ll pay for it. You can`t say what we`ll do on Medicare because we
haven`t told you how quickly the voucher will grow.

What Biden said over and over again is these guys have a voucher plan,
Ryan has supported privatization plans, this is the Republican, and who do
you trust.

And he did a very good job, even as he did get into details like on
the tax rate, of when it began to get to weedy, stepping back out and
saying just before you kind of tune out America, just think about the
choice you`re being offered here. These are not equal parties with equal

And the fact that Paul Ryan says that his plan, his Medicare plan from
2012 is a lot more modern than his plan from 2011, he`s still the guy with
the plan in 2011 that dissolved traditional fee for service public Medicare
and replaced it with entirely private plans.

O`DONNELL: My favorite 20th century reply by Ryan about the voucher,
a voucher is a piece of paper you get in your mailbox.

BALL: Right.

O`DONNELL: I get vouchers for discounts for stores every day in my e-
mail and there is take no piece of paper involved.

BALL: Finally, he explained the difference between voucher and
premium support.

KLEIN: Keep the postal service alive.

BALL: There you go.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, the 47 percent seems to be Biden`s business. He
seems to be the one that goes after that very effectively. It seems to me
there`s a special opportunity in the Romney 14 percent of income tax for
the president in his debates, to simply say on this deduction side of the
Romney tax idea, which they refuse to specify.

BALL: Right.

O`DONNELL: Governor Romney, tell me the biggest tax deduction on your
tax return that you are willing to eliminate in order to fund your tax cut.

BALL: That would be --

O`DONNELL: I mean, this guy is using the biggest deductions that
exist in the code.

BALL: That`s right. I mean, that would be devastating because
obviously he can`t answer the carried interest deduction or changing the
capital gains rate which is the other one. That would be a devastating

And the thing that I think the president and Biden have done very well
with 47 percent is when those comments first came out, a lot of people said
you know what? I don`t think it`s going to be that big a deal because a
lot of folks don`t think they`re in that 47 percent. They do look down and
think they`re a bunch of moochers.

The president and the vice president have made it very real who
they`re talking about in those 47 percent. That that is your mother, your
grandmother, your neighbors, people who serve in the military. So, I think
they`ve done an excellent job of humanizing that.

O`DONNELL: The last time I saw you was at 2:00 p.m. at LaGuardia
Airport when we landed from Kentucky, as I understand you do a live show at
3:00 p.m. here on this building?

BALL: That happened.

O`DONNELL: Did you show you at 3:00 p.m.?

BALL: I was here. I was here. I was prepared, had make up on.

O`DONNELL: You have make up in the car?

BALL: Maybe.


Krystal Ball and Ezra Klein, thank you both for joining me tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

KLEIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Howard Dean and Sister Simone Campbell will
join me on Mitt Romney`s latest statements about just how easy it is to
stay healthy without health insurance.

And in the rewrite tonight, what "The West Wing" taught the
presidential debate commission about how we need to rewrite the rules of
presidential debates.

And later, the Borat of the Iowa caucuses and actress who tricked the
Republican presidential candidates into sharing some very real moments with
her. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: Coming up, what does Borat have to do with the
presidential campaign? He may have inspired a brilliant performance by an
actress who lured the Republican presidential candidates this year into
sharing sol real moments with her.

And next, Mitt Romney continues to say that sick people won`t die just
because they don`t have health insurance. Howard Dean and Sister Simone
Campbell will join me next.



ROMNEY: Well, we do provide care for people who don`t have insurance,
people -- if someone has a heart attack, they don`t sit in their apartment
and die. We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to a hospital and
give them care.


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney, the governor who did everything he could to
provide health insurance to the uninsured in Massachusetts, now talks about
being uninsured, as if it`s not a problem for anyone.

Wednesday, Romney told the editorial board of the "Columbus Dispatch,"
"We don`t have a setting across this country where if you don`t have
insurance, we just say to you, tough luck, you`re going to die when you
have your heart attack. No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you
get care and it`s paid for either by charity, the government or by the
hospital. We don`t have people that become ill that die in their apartment
because they don`t have insurance."

Joining me now, Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the
National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, and former chairman of the
Democratic National Committee, and Vermont governor and medical doctor,
Howard Dean.

Sister Simone, I could see you out of the corner of my eye that you
were shaking your head when I was reading Mitt Romney`s statement there
about just what you don`t have to worry about if you don`t have health

Absolutely. He is totally out of touch with the reality that it means for
real people in our country.

On Wednesday, we heard the story of Margaret Ketchler (ph) who died
because she didn`t have health insurance. She couldn`t afford doctors and
she knew she was sick and she stayed in her apartment literally until she
couldn`t get to the front door and finally somebody picked her up and took
her to emergency. She had stage 4 cancer. She died within six months from
the cancer that was untreatable at that point.

It could have been prevented. It was wrong. People die if you don`t
have access to care.

O`DONNELL: Governor Dean, I want to listen to a piece of Mitt
Romney`s speaking back in 2006, a couple of weeks after signing the
Massachusetts health care law, where he clearly knew better and was willing
to say so. Let`s listen to this.


ROMNEY: There ought to be enough money to help people get insurance.
Because an insured individual has a better chance of having an excellent
medical experience than one who is not. An insured individual is more
likely to go to a primary care physician or a clinic to get evaluated for
their conditions or to get early treatment, to get pharmaceutical
treatment, as opposed to showing up at the emergency room where the
treatment is more expensive and less effective than if they got
preventative and primary care.


O`DONNELL: Governor Dean, what changed for Governor Romney in six

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: He`s running for president with a
really conservative base.

O`DONNELL: I guess so.

DEAN: This is a guy who doesn`t appear to have too many inner
principles. These guys really are totally out of touch with what goes on.

Let`s just suppose he`s right and you get to the hospital and you have
a heart attack and you have no insurance. The government does not pick
that up and neither does the charity. Do you know who picks that up? The
bill collection agency gets the call and they harass you for three or four
years until you go into bankruptcy or you settle with them for a great
portion of what you`re worth.

This is -- it`s just another example of how the Republicans have no
idea what it`s like to be somebody who doesn`t have an elevator for their
car in their garage.

O`DONNELL: Let`s watch this web video that the Obama campaign has
released that tells the kind of story that Mitt Romney is now ignoring.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was 17, my dad got sick. He got the flu.
It`s not a huge deal when you get the flu, but it didn`t go away.

I told him you should go to the doctor. He`s like I can`t. I can`t
afford it. I don`t have insurance.

He didn`t have health insurance because he was laid off. His kidneys
failed and he had a heart attack. I feel like if he had health insurance,
he would still be here.


O`DONNELL: Sister Simone, we all know people who don`t go to the
doctor because they don`t have health insurance, have issues they are
worried about, that they are thinking about and they simply do not go.
This is a reality.


CAMPBELL: It is an absolute reality. What we know during testimony
for the passage of the Affordable Care Act is people get sicker when they
do go to the hospital finally because they are so dramatically sick. It
takes a lot if they ever do recover. It`s a lot more invasive, often
surgery, or long hospitalization is required, and then they are bankrupt as
the governor says.

So, it is the wrong way forward. That`s why the Affordable Care Act
is so critical for full implementation so that people in our nation,
especially those who live on the economic margins who don`t get health care
through their employers, that they can have coverage. It is essential for
us as a nation.

O`DONNELL: Governor Dean, as a politician analyzing another
politician, what do you think is going on here with Mitt Romney? When I
look at him in 2006, when I look at all the work he did to pass the law in
Massachusetts. That clearly had to be someone who understood why he was
doing that, there was an actual societal and individual need for that kind
of program to fill in the gaps in the system.

What he is saying now is the part that feels hollow to me that this is
just what he needs to do at this moment in this candidacy.

DEAN: Lawrence, look at the presidential debate. I did not think
that Obama lost that debate. I thought it was a tie. I thought Romney
presented him very well. But he had three positions on immigration that
week alone. He had two positions on his tax cut is that week alone.

This is a guy who will say anything he has to say to become the
president of the United States and he did a good job of saying these
things, but the trouble is there`s four weeks to go and you can`t go on
like this for four weeks. There`s not a journalist from irresponsible
publication that I know of in the country who has said that Mitt Romney`s
tax plan adds up, for example.

So, they`re totally out of touch with middle class Americans and they
don`t appear to have any plans that aren`t completely dependent on however
they think they have to -- whatever they have to say to get votes.

O`DONNELL: I completely on the so-called scoring of the presidential
debate. I can`t possibly see how you score a debate a victory by if
someone who is just lying their way through it.

Sister, quickly before we go. It was for me an odd question in the
debate last night considering it a historic event that we have two Catholic
candidates. In a country where Catholicism is the single largest religious
denomination exists in the country, I don`t know where the surprise should
come from that they`re there, but that was used as an entry to a question
about abortion. I personally would have preferred to just see the question
asked without any preparatory stuff about people`s religious affiliation.

CAMPBELL: There was a large windup to the question. I would have
liked to see the question much more about the broader pro-life question
which includes health care, how do we feed our people, how are folks taken
care of way beyond birth to natural death. How are we a society, how are
we the people caring for all of our citizens.

O`DONNELL: Sister Simone Campbell, and Governor Howard Dean -- thank
you both for joining me tonight.

CAMPBELL: Thank you.

DEAN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, why the rules of presidential debates need to
be changed. They`ve changed a lot already but there`s more to do.

And, did Borat inspire an actress who went out during the Iowa caucus
us and managed to have some real encounters with the real Republican
presidential candidates? That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: There is outrage tonight in Pakistan, outrage we should
all welcome over the attempted assassination by the Taliban of a 14-year-
old girl simply because she wanted an education. Because she wanted an
education for herself and other girls like her. We will update you on her
medical condition and bring you the latest from Pakistan.

Rula Jebreal will join me next.


O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, Malala lives. 14-year-old Malala
Yousufzai is clinging to life in intensive care in a Pakistan hospital
tonight after saying this.


MALALA YOUSUFZAI, 14-YEAR-OLD: I will get my education, if it is in
home, school or any place. This is our request to all worlds that save our
schools, save our world, save our Pakistan, save our swat.


O`DONNELL: Our NBC producer in the region told us just a few minutes
ago Malala remains in satisfactory condition after being shot on her school
bus by the Taliban Pakistan, Tuesday. A team of specialists moved her to a
better hospital with better intensive care facilities where she continues
to breathe with a ventilator. Government officials have estimated Malala`s
chance of survival at 50 to 70 percent. Doctors say the next 48 hours will
be critical.

People across Pakistan observed Friday as a day of prayer for Malala
and her two friends who were also injured in the gun fire in Tuesday`s
attack. And last night, a consul of 50 religious clerics issued a fatwa
against the attackers. Police say they have arrested four key suspects
including a woman in connection with the attack. Authorities reportedly
have identified two gun men behind the shooting but they are still at

The Taliban, Pakistan, still vows to kill Malala or her father, both
of whom simply want girls in Pakistan to have the right to an education.

When asked what her name meant, Malala once said, probably a hero,
like the Afghan heroine Malalai of Maiwand or Malalai Joya. I want to be a
social activist and an honest politician like her.

Tonight, hero is exactly what Malala has become in Pakistan and around
the world.

Joining me now is Rula Jebreal, an MSNBC contributor, author and
Middle East expert.

I`m so struck by the reaction in Pakistan over this, especially the
reaction among some in the religious community.

RULA JEBREAL, MIDDLE EAST EXPERT: This is the first time, actually.
This is the first time that the religious community, the civil society come
out and denounce an act of violence like this. Remember, a year ago
exactly, the Taliban in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, in the swat valley
where Malala live, put women outside and shot her in front of hundreds of
men simply because she was accused of betraying her husband and being free

This is a major issue with the women in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Education is not granted the way it`s granted here. How can we ever think
there would be durable peace in these areas without people who have access
to education? You know, Victor Hugo, a century ago used to say you open a
school, you close a jail. And with that idea, one little girl is more
threatening to the Taliban today than the Pakistani army.

The Pakistani army actually very often they, you know, flirt with
these groups and they close an eye on them and they let them govern certain
areas and here (INAUDIBLE) in Swat valley and all of these areas. Even the
Americans were protesting more than once say, you know, they give them
actual information, they give them funds and very often they don`t take
care of the protection of the civil society in these areas.

We have to understand that in the last ten years, that Americans spent
$20 billion only in Pakistan. Eighty percent of that budget went directly
to the army, 170 million went to education. What we are doing in these
countries, we have to think that our policy is about building armies, not
about building societies.

What Malala wanted was to build a civil society, civil society that
leads to democratization of the society, of the place. And lead to the
army actually to be one of the institution, not the only that flirts
continuously with the Taliban.

O`DONNELL: We saw her the other night when I first talked about this
in a video with Richard Holbrooke, in a meeting in Pakistan a couple of
years ago, where she was asking for more help with education. And it
couldn`t be clearer that the long-term need there is going to be addressed
more through education money than it is going to be addressed through
military spending there through drone strikes or any of those things that
are aimed at some kind of temporary fix of a problem.

JEBREAL: Look. She`s right and she`s so young and so innocent. I
mean, it breaks my heart to think that a little girl like this is more
threatening to the Taliban that they have to issue a fatwa to send somebody
to kill her and threaten her. Obviously, they are not only losing the
battle, they are losing the argument. And there`s fracture today in the
Muslim war between the extremists and the moderates and who is the one that
actually set up for woman. And the women become, you know, a major issue.
How to control your body and how to control your brain? It`s about
controlling the society.

Once you dominate that, you have the voters coming to you. What are
the options for a girl in that area of that education, to marry at the age
of 13 or 14? To becomes a prostitute so she can provide for herself? Or
to be manipulated by fanatic religious and used in their own ways? What we
can do is actually simple, is finance schools. This is the only way we can
be safe here and they can be safe here.

O`DONNELL: Rula Jebreal, thank you very much for joining me.

JEBREAL: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a voter who appeared in news reports from Iowa
during the Iowa caucuses turned out to be an actress playing a part which
she will tell us what she was up to when she joins us later.

And next in the rewrite, why the rules of presidential debates need to
be rewritten to emphasize the very important fact that we are not electing
a debater in chief. We are electing a president.


O`DONNELL: Is it important to you that a presidential candidate be
witty? Is it important that he be quick on his feet? Is it important to
you that a presidential candidate be a really, really good memorizer?
Well, all of those things are tested in presidential debates. And not one
of them, not one of them matters in the job of being president of the
United States. That`s next on the rewrite.


O`DONNELL: In the rewrite tonight, rewriting the rules of
presidential debates. I always hated the rules of presidential debates and
took my first public swing at them when I wrote the live debate episode of
the NBC series "the west wing" in 2005.

Now, I`m going to show you the clip of the first couple of minutes of
the episodes. And you`ll have just to bear with seeing some of the opening
credits floating through the scene.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t worry about getting everything in every
answer. We can fill in the blanks with the press. Remember two-minute
answers followed by one-minute rebuttals. Moderator`s option to allow a 30
second rebuttals or you can move on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stupid rules took two minutes, one minute, 30
seconds. What can you say in 30 seconds?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why the hell do we agree to them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they protect you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No they don`t. They screw me up. They make me
feel stiff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just be yourself. Don`t forget to smile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m telling you. Santos is terrified (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have no idea what this feels like. Terrified -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s got no answer to how he`s going to pay for
his tax cuts. He`s going to run the clock out on that one. If you get
into a jam use a paragraph from your stump speech to get you to the red
light. The world is your friend. Used them so this doesn`t become --


O`DONNELL: That was the great Ron Silver and Janine Garofalo saying
what every presidential debater is told when they are going into these
debates when they have the strict rules back when they had 60 seconds clock
and the 30 seconds for rebuttal and another 30 seconds for another
rebuttal. The yellow lights you have ten seconds left, the red lights
means you have no time left. Those rules were there because the campaigns
negotiated those rules so that the candidates could hide behind them.

As some of you may recall, Alan Alda`s character in the middle of his
opening statements stopped and proposed junking those rules so they could
have a real debate. Jimmy Smith`s character agreed and so they did have a
real, debate with no time clock on their answers and with minimal
interference from the moderator.

A real debate, one of the members of the presidential debate
commission quoted that phrase to me privately last night after the debate
in Kentucky. A real debate, he said proudly, and with a wink about what we
had just seen. That was his way of acknowledging me "the west wing`s
contribution to this year`s debates.

In 2006, friends of the presidential debate commission made sure that
they got DVDs of the west-wing debate so they could consider changing the
rules or dropping most of them so that they could have real debates. Some
on the commission tried to do this in 2008, but the campaigns resisted this
year. The commission insisted and so we`ve seen something much closer to
real debates with no red lights and much less moderator control of what you
get to hear.

But in the seven years since I wrote that "west wing" script, my
thinking has moved far beyond just getting rid of the red lights. There is
much more that we need to rewrite in the debate rules.

First, candidates should be allowed to bring notes. They should be
allowed, like senators in the senate debates, to bring giant briefcases
full of notes and files and memos, anything they want to consult during the
debate. These debates are about finding the best president, not the best
memorizer. If it`s a memorizer you want, then Kevin Klein or any other
American-born actor who has learned all 1,495 lines of "Hamlet," the
biggest part Shakespeare ever wrote, deserves your vote.

The debates now put candidates through ridiculous memorization tests
that have nothing to do with the job of doing president. There will always
be staff present to remind the president or brief the president on whatever
he or she needs to remember or know, which is why, to return to the
protocol of senators debating in the chamber, each candidate should be
allowed at least one staff member to sit beside the candidate throughout
the debate. It is not even slightly destructing to Senate debates to have
a staff member sitting beside the senator as you see every day on c-span
handing the senator what is about to say.

I used to be one of those people in the staff chair on the senate
floor or in hearing and some friends of mine who were watching on c-span
didn`t even notice me. That`s how invisible staff can be in government.
But they are absolutely essential in government. The president is never
alone with a decision, and you would never want him to be. Candidates
alone on the debate stage, foster a fiction where the presidency is a form
of tennis in a business suit where you stand out there and do it all alone.

Another debate commissioner who I`ve known for decades told me last
night that he thinks the candidates should get the questions in advance. I
hadn`t thought of that one myself, but as soon as I heard it, I agreed with

In most presidencies there will not be one instance, not one in four
years in office, where a president has to think on his feet in the instant
about a policy decision. Nor would you want him to.

You want a president to carefully consider every governing decision,
to take as much time as it takes to make the best decision. To give more
thought to and seek more advice on things he or she is not sure about.

What we should want to hear from presidential candidates is a careful,
considered position, a response they`ve had time to think about. The
candidates` best possible reply to the question. If audiences know that
the candidates have the questions ahead of time, the standards we use to
judge a good answer will be higher, much, much higher. We will have a
right to expect much more.

Today, a presidential candidate would be howled off the stage by the
news media if the candidate said I`d like to think about that a little
more, study it and get back to you on that. But that is in fact what
presidents tell senators and others they meet with in the oval office all
the time, and it is always received as a perfectly reasonable and prudent
presidential response.

But we don`t televise oval office meetings or any other real business
of governing and so the public and the news media for the most part have no
real idea of how governing is done and who does it well.

Then, that same news media presents presidential debates and instantly
tells us who woven and who lost in the contest that is always judged more
on style than on substance. Post-debate pundit analysis always rewards wit
as if it is a presidential job requirement. But wit has no value in the
situation room.

Who do you want in the situation room? The funniest guy? The best
memorizer? Or the most thoughtful and careful and deliberative decision

In the clamorous news coverage that immediately follows our
presidential debates, the analysis which some of you may have noticed I for
one am a bit shy about offering since I preparedly think about preparing
think about what I`ve just seen before speaking, about what I have seen,
that post-debate analysis, all too often loses sight of the most important
fact. That debate audiences should remember.

We are not electing debater in chief. We are electing a commander in



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have no jobs. We have no health care.
Probably going is to get divorced --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do believe in you, but we need answers. We
need jobs and we need health care. I`m sorry, I really at the end of my

ROMNEY: I understand I certainly hope and pray for you. That`s why
I`m running. I want to help people like yourself. I really want to get
good jobs for coming back. God be with you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It feels like my whole world is falling apart.
Please, if you win and go on to Washington, D.C., just saved these all
families of America.


O`DONNELL: That was a scene captured by ABC news on the trail at the
beginning of this year on the night of the Iowa caucuses which Mitt Romney
was falsely reported to have won that night when only eight votes separated
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

As it happen a couple of weeks later we could, for the first time,
report Rick Santorum actually won that night. The Romney victory was not
the only falsehood we, in the news media unwittingly delivered that night
of the Iowa caucuses.

Here`s how ABC news presented that woman`s plea to Mitt Romney.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: I wanted to show you a moment here
earlier today, a supporter approaching Romney and saying if you are
elected, if you`re sent to Washington, you`ve got to do something about the
jobs. She doesn`t have one, her husband does not have one and neither of
them have health care. Here`s what she said to the former governor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, if you win, if you go on to Washington,



O`DONNELL: Yes, so moving, so moving and so real. And I mean real in
the sense of the work of a great actress being real because a great actress
does not fake emotion on screen. A great actress feels the emotion that
she conveys on screen. The emotion is real. A great actress feels that
emotion on demand take after take if necessary, feels that emotion on
demand in front of not just the other players in the scene, but a
dispassionate film crew trying to technically capture that emotion.

It turns out a film crew making a movie entitles "Janine from De
Moines" was capturing the same scene that ABC news captured, but the film
crew knew that the woman in the scene was not Janine Wilson, a housewife
from Des Moines, Iowa. She was an actress and writer who were improvising
her way across Iowa.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have no jobs. And we have no hope here. I`m
probably going to get divorced because of this.

ROMNEY: I`m sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything is falling apart in our lives.

ROMNEY: I really want to help. I really want to help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do believe in you, but we need answers. We
need jobs and we need health care. Sorry. I really I`m at the end of my


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is the star of Janine from Des Moines which
opens today in New York, Jane Edith Wilson.

Jane, I love that ABC film crew big footed your crew out of the way
and got a better shot of you than your own crew did. And by the way, ABC,
every network, anybody would have fallen for what you were doing. I don`t,
in any way want to isolate that. That could easily just have been NBC
news. In fact, you fooled a lot of reporters out there on the trail.

JANE EDITH WILSON, ACTOR, WRITER: "Talking Points Memo," "Politico,"
Washington Post," "Des Moines Register," yes.

O`DONNELL: Including, you talked to a reporter who you went to high
school with and she didn`t recognize you?


O`DONNELL: You`re from Iowa.

WILSON: Yes, I`m originally from Iowa. I`m originally in Ames, Iowa.
But yes, she was in high school with me and she came up to me at a Ron Paul
rally, and before I could duck away and she started asking me questions.
And I thought, oh boy, she doesn`t recognized me, so. And my name is so
similar I thought the second I told her my name, she might -- something
might jog. But, you know, it`s been a long time since I was in high

O`DONNELL: All right. We`ve got to take a look at you with Michele
Bachmann. Let`s look at that.


WILSON: I called our doctor, the primary care and he will not see us
without insurance. I honestly don`t know where we`re supposed to go. What
are we supposed to do?

the fact that we`ve got to have a pro-growth economy. We have to. Because
to have health care you have to have a job, you have to have a job to be
able to pay for it. And your husband with trucking it`s very difficult now
for truckers to make a go of it.

WILSON: There`s no goods.

BACHMANN: Well, and the other thing is the transportation cost. I
mean, the day that President Obama came into office, gasoline was a $1.79 a
gallon, you know. And now, look at the price.

WILSON: He made that go up?



O`DONNELL: I love this movie and I don`t know what this movie is. It
is not a documentary. It is not a comedy. It is more of a drama than
that. The only artistic precursor that comes to mind is Borat. Is an
actor playing something he isn`t and finding real people out there in the

WILSON: I think it is dissimilar in Borat in that it`s a lot more

O`DONNELL: Absolutely.

WILSON: And Grace Lee, who directive the film loves to call it a work
of political fiction or she says it`s part fiction and part reality, just
like politics.

O`DONNELL: And how long were you shooting?

WILSON: We started in the spring of 2011 and we shot for the nine
months all the way up to the caucuses. And we had an idea of the story arc
we wanted for Janine. We wanted, you know, her to be a person of sort of
faces, the realities of her own life, you know, and how they fit in with
her political view point. You know, over the course, she loses her job,
she loses her health care. She just goes through a lot of trials and
tribulations. So, you know, we had that story in mind and then we just
kept going to different things that were happening politically in Iowa
because it`s obviously it`s a very political active states leading up to
the caucuses and just captured the candidates as we could capture them.

O`DONNELL: And it opens tonight. The film is called "Janine from Des


O`DONNELL: Yes, playing in New York City. Jane Edith
Wilson gets tonight`s last word. Thanks, Jane. Thanks for joining us.

WILSON: Thank you for having me.

O`DONNELL: "The Ed Show" is up next.


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