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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, October 15th, 2012

October 15, 2012

Guest: Rob Reiner

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Less than 24 hours until the next
presidential debate and only 22 days until the presidential election, and
the polls are tighter than ever.

Are you nervous yet? Well, your old buddy Rob Reiner is here to calm
you down.


CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: Today marks what could well be the most
important week of this campaign.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Tomorrow night`s high stakes --

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: High stakes test of strength and will.

BASHIR: Second presidential date.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Expectations are high --

BASHIR: That could mark a major turning point in this campaign.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Especially for the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has to deliver a more aggressive performance.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: More aggressive president.

JANSING: He`s more assertive. He`s going to be more aggressive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Firm but respectful.

JANSING: Polls show this race to be neck and neck.

BASHIR: A very close contest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This race is a dead heat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Washington Post" and ABC putting the president
three points up.

BASHIR: Forty-nine percent to 46 percent.


BASHIR: Tighter than the locks on his opponent`s car elevator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has an advantage in Ohio.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The Republicans need to win Ohio.

JANSING: It`s a critical state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s almost impossible for Governor Romney to win
the election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No Republican has won the campaign without winning

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president he`s lead there has been five, six,
seven, eight points.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: You must vote and you must
reelect --

TODD: The Obama campaign is leaving nothing to chance.

CLINTON: -- President Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama will get help in Ohio from Bubba.

TODD: Former President Bill Clinton?

CLINTON: Are we better off? You bet we are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Obama wins, it may be because a former
president saved his presidency.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of cloud that does give him if Obama
wins again?

CARTOON CHARACTER: I am Clinton. As overlord, all will kneel
trembling before me and obey my brutal commands. End communication.


O`DONNELL: With just 22 days until election and 23 hours until the
second presidential debate, a new "Washington Post" poll shows the number
of undecided voters shrinking. Nearly two-thirds say they do not need any
more information before Election Day, and barely one in eight is undecided
or says there is a chance he or she could change the vote.

While President Obama spent today in debate prep in Virginia, First
Lady Michelle Obama campaigned in Ohio, where the latest PPP poll of likely
voters shows the president ahead by five points.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: This morning, let me tell you what I did.
I cast my ballot early for Barack Obama.


It felt so good. Right now, my absentee ballot is on its way to my
hometown, Chicago, Illinois, and that means we are one vote closer to re-
electing my husband and moving this country forward for four more years.


O`DONNELL: FOX News chief Rupert Murdoch tweeted this on Saturday.

At moment, election looks like coming down to Ohio, huge spending by
both sides, but Obama TV buying operation infinitely smarter.

Today, President Obama`s infinitely smarter operation released this
television ad in four swing states.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve gone from pulling into our parking lot,
which was so depressing. It would be two or three cars in this parking lot
to a parking lot being full.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a whole second shift that we bought in
new employees and we have a future at our plant now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look the president`s plan, I don`t think
there could be any question that we`re on the right course for today`s

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama does get what people need and
that`s jobs and the opportunity to help with themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stick with this guy. He will move us forward.

approved this message.


O`DONNELL: Here`s what the star of the highest rated daytime show
among young women had to say about Mitt Romney today.


BARBARA WALTERS, TV VIEW: Governor Romney was supposed to be on with
us this Thursday with Ann Romney, we were looking forward to it. Over the
weekend, his people said that he had scheduling problems and would not be
come on with us, nor at this point did he feel that he could reschedule.


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney actually explained months ago why he`s afraid
of going on "The View."


because five women on it only one is conservative. Four are sharp tongued
and not conservative. Whoopi Goldberg in particular.


O`DONNELL: This weekend, Paul Ryan made a desperate attempt to show
how much he cares for some of 47 percent. But it was a little too
desperate. He dropped by an Ohio soup kitchen for a photo op on Saturday.

The president of the charity then told "The Washington Post" today:
"We are apolitical because the funding is from donations. It is strictly
in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there and they did not have
permission. The photo op they did wasn`t even accurate. He did nothing.
He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall."

"The Post" reports photographers snapped photos and TV camera shot
footage of Ryan and his family washing pots and pans that did not appear to
be dirty.

Three new national polls of likely voters show the race in a
statistical tie. A "Washington Post" poll shows President Obama polling at
49 percent and Mitt Romney at 47 percent. What -- roll that back, 49-46.

And President Obama in a Gallup poll polling at 47-49.
"Politico"/GWU, 49-48.

The polls also surveyed likely voters in the swing states considered
most competitive. "The Washington Post" had Obama polling at 51 percent
and Mitt Romney at 46 percent. "Politico" has President Obama at 48
percent, Romney at 50 percent. Gallup has President Obama at 48 percent,
Romney at 50 percent.

Tonight, Nate Silver of "New York Times" "FiveThirtyEight" blog
forecasts that President Obama will win 289 Electoral College votes and
Mitt Romney will win 249. And President Obama`s chance of re-election
ticked up from 61 percent to 66 percent tonight.

Rob Reiner, you have a -- here`s what I know about you. You are not
afraid of going on "The View".



REINER: And tonight, not only do I feel like I`m on "The Lawrence
O`Donnell Show" but I feel like I`m on "THE CYCLE" also.

O`DONNELL: You are.

REINER: I`ll be the oldest person ever to be on "THE CYCLE".

O`DONNELL: You`re the only non-host here, so good luck trying to get
a word in.

You know, I know you`re the calmest man, the calmest man in the
approach to these elections when it gets tight and the polling is
maddening, I know you stay completely calm.


O`DONNELL: What do you recommend to the nervous viewer out there
watching these tightening polls?

REINER: OK. First of all, these two candidates are not running for
president of the United States. They`re running for president of Ohio.


REINER: So if you could just relax and look at Ohio, we`re doing well
in Ohio. I think we will carry Ohio. They`ve said, you know, no
Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio, and I think we
will prove that again this time.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, he just calmed me down already.

KRYSTAL BALL, "THE CYCLE" CO-HOST: You feel better already?

O`DONNELL: Yes, just keep your eye on Ohio where President Obama is
doing very well.

BALL: Well, that`s absolutely right and that`s been one of the trends
over this entire election, and the president has a couple of points or
structural advantage nationally, which is what the polls are now settling
too after Romney`s debate bounce.

And in the battleground, in particular, Ohio is doing better I think
both because the Ohio local economy is doing better on the strength of the
president`s auto bailout and also because they`ve been so effective at
framing the debate and talking about Mitt Romney and what his career has
entailed and what his positions are, that it really has actually moved the
needle there in a very compelling way.

O`DONNELL: Now, Steve, a lot of photo ops have a certain amount of
phoniness in them, but Paul Ryan going to the soup kitchen thing, they
don`t usually backfired that bad. He -- Rush Limbaugh could have told them
because Rush doesn`t want them to disown that 47 percent comment. Let`s
listen to what Rush said about it today.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: There are a lot of people who agreed with
him when he made the comments about the 47 percent. So he`s got to be very
careful about apologizing -- I think -- it seems like the tendency is to
just apologize thinking that will get it off the table. And it won`t.
That`s just a brand new door opening. Romney admits he was wrong. Romney
admits, Romney admits, Romney admits. What else is Romney wrong about?


O`DONNELL: Why don`t they follow Rush`s advice on this one?

STEVE KORNACKI, "THE CYCLE" CO-HOST: Rush Limbaugh can`t lose in this


KORNACKI: That`s what I take away from watching a clip like that.

REINER: He`s rooting for Obama.

O`DONNELL: I take it you`re probably not a regular Rush listener.

REINER: I have become one because --

O`DONNELL: Oh, OK, it`s a best show.

REINER: -- you guys play it so much.

O`DONNELL: The clips you hear here.

KORNACKI: Oh, but he -- look, he can, if Romney goes on and loses
this election right now, Rush Limbaugh gets to say it`s because he didn`t
listen to me, he didn`t listen to the rest of the conservatives, and he
didn`t run on the 47 percent. But at the same time what we`ve seen for the
last two weeks, Rush Limbaugh`s comments not today notwithstanding, most
conservative leaders have been willing to give Romney some latitude to
rhetorically move to the middle and to run at least from a rhetorical
standpoint not a policy standpoint as a moderate. So they may be able to
get their candidate elected running rhetorically as a moderate.

But if that back fires, they can blame it on him not being
conservative enough. So, either way, they were where they want to be when
this election over.

BALL: And I think there`s a danger before Romney`s debate
performance, you were having Peggy Noonan and George Will and other people
coming out and complaining about Romney and complaining about his campaign.

O`DONNELL: Complaining?

BALL: I think --

O`DONNELL: Panic settling over Republican world.

BALL: Publicly complaining about it, and I think if he has a poor
performance and slips down in the polls, I think you`ll start hearing more
like what Rush Limbaugh is saying here. There will be less latitude
actually than to move to the center.

O`DONNELL: Rob, the polls, we always say the polls always tighten.

REINER: Yes, and they do.

O`DONNELL: And then when the polls tighten, people are always


O`DONNELL: There`s something distressingly human about this.

REINER: I know. Well, you know, they said before the conventions and
before the 47 percent and all of that, that this was going to be a turnout
election. And that`s what it`s turning out to be.

And that`s why again, I would say to my fellow Democrats to relax,
because I believe we have the best ground game ever. We had a great one in
2008 and we have an even better one now, particularly in Ohio. So I feel
very comfortable about our turnout.

O`DONNELL: That is the way George W. Bush won Ohio in his last
campaign was the ground game in Ohio, a flip of 60,000 votes there and John
Kerry would have been president.

KORNACKI: Four football stadium can swing the election.

The one thing I will tell you is a week ago, two weeks ago, before the
first debate, there was a possibility that I think Obama was ahead by about
four points nationally and there was a possibility with a really strong
debate performance there by Obama that would have set the conservative
panic to the critical mass. His margin could have grown to six, seven,
eight points.

And I think at that point what would have come into play is the House.
I was actually getting ready to write that "maybe the Democrats can win the
House after all" column around that point. And that would have huge,
obviously, repercussions for second Obama term.

I think now we`re at the point where, yes, Obama is still decently
positioned to win this thing, but I think that idea of having the House and
having one party control gone and be able to get some more stuff done in
the second, I think that`s probably off the table now.

O`DONNELL: But some Senate races are going well for Democrats where
they didn`t expect it.

BALL: Yes, still looking strong for the Senate. Elizabeth Warren
still looking strong, Tim Kaine in Virginia. I think Virginia will be one
that as goes the presidential race, so goes the Senate. But overall, it`s
looking like Democrats have a very good chance to hold the Senate.

O`DONNELL: Do you know why President Obama underperformed according
to some people in the first debate?


O`DONNELL: This guy right here. He should have been in debate prep.
He should have been directing the reaction shot. Remember the reaction

REINER: Yes. I mean --

O`DONNELL: Listening is everything in it.

REINER: Gore was with that and the sighing and all that. And, you
know, President Obama was looking at his notes, didn`t seem to be engaged.
And I agree with Steve, you know, when you have somebody on the ropes,
that`s when you`ve got to deliver the knockout punch and we didn`t do it
and we let him back.

It was an interesting article by Maureen Dowd which basically
described the psychology of what goes on with Obama and it may be true. He
fights better from behind in a kind of weird way, he might have put himself
in a position where now I have to fight, which is where he is now.

And so hopefully we`ll see the better, you know, the better Obama come
out tomorrow night.

O`DONNELL: You know, you`ve been in the audition room a lot in your


O`DONNELL: But it`s been hundreds of years since you were on the
auditioning side of the audition room. I just want to tell you it`s gone
so well.

REINER: Hundreds of years.

O`DONNELL: It`s gone so well that we`re going to bring you back later
in the show for another.

REINER: Really? You mean I passed the audition.


O`DONNELL: They go home. But you`re so good, we need you back.

REINER: OK, thank you.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball and Steve Kornacki, thanks very much for
joining us.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, Bill Clinton`s role in the reelection of
President Obama and what that means for the future of Bill and Clinton.
John Heilemann is going to join us next on that one.

And in tonight`s rewrite, the fortunate son of a Republican governor
turns out to be an American idiot. No, it is not the idiot you think it

And later, yes, the award winning actor, writer, director, public
policy expert and all around political wise man, Rob Reiner, will come back
and he`s going to show us a political ad that he has just directed. That`s
coming up.


REINER: Coming up on THE LAST WORD: the fight over the rules in
today`s presidential date. Joy Reid and Karen Finney will be here.

And Bill Clinton has become President Obama`s biggest champion on the
campaign trail. Will the presidents continue to work together after the
election? John Heilemann is here with that story.

And women for Obama get tonight`s LAST WORD.



CLINTON: President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I
did. Listen to me now. No president, no president, not me, not any of my
predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found
in just four years.


O`DONNELL: That was you know who at the Democratic convention saying
something that only an ex-president could say. Since then, Bill Clinton
has gleefully campaigned for President Obama.


CLINTON: I couldn`t believe the other day when the president`s
opponent said that the 47 percent of the American people who don`t pay
income tax just want to hang around and be dependent on the government and,
you know, we just had to wean them off of that because they didn`t want to
pay income tax. Now, a guy with a tax account in the Cayman Islands is
attacking other people for not wanting to -- I mean, you`ve got to give him


O`DONNELL: A well-placed Democratic operative tells "New York
Magazine`s" John Heilemann this about the former and current president:
"The relationship today is totally transactional and highly functional."

John Heilemann, I`m so glad you`re here so we can talk about this.

JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Yes, there`s no where I`d rather
be Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Yes, in your "New York Magazine" piece, you say, "Clinton
is reveling in seeing his legacy restored to what he regards as its
rightful status, a restoration that will mightily benefit his wife if she
hurls herself at the White House again in 2016." Aha, so 2016 starts now?

HEILEMANN: It does, look, the Democratic Party is already looking for
it and a lot of people around Hillary Clinton are wondering what she`s
going to do. She`s been adamant about telling everyone, even the closest
people, that she`s not thinking about it for a while. But every other
candidate has to kind of hang fire. They`re all frozen in place until she
decides what she`s going to do because that has a huge impact on
fundraisers and all donors and all the rest of the stuff.

So, she`ll be on a lot of pressure relatively quick to make a decision
and her husband really wants her to run, and he`s telling her he wants her
to run and he`s not putting pressure on her but he`s going to be her
biggest booster.

O`DONNEL: You also write, "The opening premise among most Democrats,
I think the most to not include Andrew Cuomo, among most Democrats is that
if Hillary does choose to dive in, the nomination will be more than herself
for the taking. It will be handed to her on a silver salver, accorded her
almost by acclamation."

My understanding from people in the world of both of these people,
Hillary Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, they are both laying the groundwork that
they need to lay right now in talking to the people they expect to be
pulling in their money from.

HEILEMANN: Well, there are people around Hillary Clinton who have
been talking --

O`DONNELL: By the way, they used some of the same people. So, that`s
awkward --

HEILEMANN: Well, this is the ultimate truth, is that Cuomo knows that
he`s frozen. I talk to New York donors all the time. There are a lot of
them that love both of them, but no one if they have to choose is going to
choose Andrew Cuomo over Clinton, because it`s her last chance.

And the truth is in the Democratic race in 2008, Democrats were torn
between two historic possibilities, first plausible African-American
president, first plausible Democratic woman president. By a hair, they
went with the African-American.

Many Democrats believe it`s time for a woman. She`s the most popular
woman politician in the country and I think most of the party wants her to
have it. They want her to be the nominee and they want her to be

She`s had an incredible run of secretary state and she, again, she
missed it by that much, you know, in 2008. And nobody felt good about her
missing. Even people who voted for Obama thought she was great but that he
was just better.

O`DONNELL: I think you`ll find a lot of people felt good about her
missing it. They were voting for Barack Obama from the start.


O`DONNELL: You make interesting speculation here about what will Bill
Clinton`s role be in the Obama world after the election.

HEILEMANN: Well, I think that`s a huge question, right? I mean, you
play the clip of the beginning of the convention speech. The people around
Barack Obama all say the most important event in the campaign so far was
that speech and the most important single sentence was the one you showed,
before he talked about help President Obama. He worked on that line for an
hour, just wordsmithing it to get it just perfect, right?

So there`s a lot of sense of gratitude towards him. He wants to have
a big role. He`s felt bad about being locked out for the last few years
and not having this relationship with Obama. He wants it more than Obama
wants the relationship, Bill Clinton wants the relationship. He doesn`t
want it to end on Election Day.

He has friends around him saying, hey, you know, as soon as President
Obama wins, and you help him win, it`s going to be over. He`s like, I
don`t want that. I want to get going.

So, you got a lot of people around Clinton who say, you know,
President Obama is going to go back and try to get the grand bargain done
on tax reform and entitlement reform. Who`s a better validator for that?
In the same way, who`s the validator for President Obama`s economic

There`s no one who can sell to a skeptical Democratic Party the
virtues of deficit reduction, of what a balanced budget or heading towards
fiscal sanity would mean for allowing there to be investment in cherished
Democratic programs, who has -- he`s the guy. He`s the guy who made public
investments while balancing the budget, while bringing a surplus on. A lot
of skittish Democrats would look to Bill Clinton as a validator, make him
feel comfortable, making some really hard choices that Democrats might have
to make.

O`DONNELL: The very first thing Bill Clinton did with Medicare was
cut it for deficit reduction in his first year in office.

HEILEMANN: As you remember well.

O`DONNELL: And we just got word today from the Treasury that it looks
like the debt ceiling will ripen right in the middle of January. They`re
going to need to raise the debt ceiling which means there`s going to have
to be some kind of deal.

John Heilemann, thank you very for that.

HEILEMANN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up in the "Rewrite" tonight, we have a new American
idiot and he turns out to be of all things, the son of a Republican former

And like Mitt Romney, who is also the son of a Republican governor,
this one likes to make jokes about where President Obama was born.
America`s new biggest idiot is in tonight`s "Rewrite".


O`DONNELL: In England tonight, doctors are caring for 14-year-old
Malala Yousufzai who was shot in the head by Taliban Pakistan because she
wanted an education for herself and for all girls in Pakistan. Malala is
at Birmingham`s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The hospital has a special unit
that threats soldiers wounded in Afghanistan. It has one of the world`s
largest critical care units for patients with gunshot wounds.

Pakistani police have arrested three suspects who are between the ages
of 17 and 22. Sources say they gave police the name of a man they say
planned the attack.


O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, the debate, at this hour, at
this very minute tomorrow night, you will be being told who won the second
presidential debate of 2012. I probably will not be telling you who won,
since I usually don`t have the confidence that I can read the minds of
undecided voters` interpretations of what candidates say in these semi-
ridiculous forums we call presidential debates.

You will also be being told at this hour just how good or bad the
presidential debate moderator was, mostly by people who have never
moderated a presidential debate, and despite the fact that the Presidential
Debate Commission designed the debates so that the moderator would be
virtually invisible and have no effect on the debate.

Jim Lehrer, moderator of the first debate, was roundly criticized for
having established the rules that the Presidential Debate Commission
established for the moderators, to stay out of the way and let the
candidates have a real debate. And Martha Raddatz, moderator of the vice
presidential debate, was widely praised for violating those rules by
interrupting the candidates and asking follow-up questions.

Candy Crowley, the moderator of tomorrow night`s debate, said this
before the vice presidential debate.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: It`s also very hard to evade a question
that comes from a town hall person. And the nice thing will be if the town
hall person asks apples and they answer oranges, I go wait a second, the
question was about apples, let`s talk about that. So there`s opportunity
for follow up, to kind of get them to drill down on the subjects that these
folks want to learn about in the town hall.


O`DONNELL: Candy Crowley`s comments appeared to violate the
Presidential Debate Commission`s secret memorandum up of understanding, a
set of debate rules agreed to and signed by both presidential campaigns.
"Time Magazine`s" Mark Halperin got a copy of that secret memorandum and
published it online today. It states of the town halls debate, "the
moderator will not ask follow-up question questions or comment on either
the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during
the debate or otherwise intervene in the debate, except to acknowledge the
questioners from the audience or enforce the time limits and invite
candidate comments during the two-minute response period."

Halperin reported today that in the wake of Candy Crowley`s comments,
quote, "Bob Bauer for President Obama and Ben Ginsberg of the Romney
campaign jointly reached out to the commission to express concern that the
moderator`s comments seemed to be in direct conflict with the terms of
their agreement. The commission sent back word that it would discuss the
matter with Crowley and reconfirm her function. It is not known if such
conversation has taken place."

Meanwhile, David Axelrod says tomorrow`s debate will be one worth


you to watch and show up. I think it will be an interesting debate.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Will he be more aggressive in taking
on the Romney record?

AXELROD: I think he`s going to be aggressive in making the case for -
- for his view of where we should go as a country. But the other thing
he`s certainly going to do is, we saw Governor Romney sort of serially walk
away from his own proposals. And certainly the president is going to be
willing to challenge him on it, as we saw the vice president challenge Paul

So we`re going to give Governor Romney another chance on Tuesday to
try and square this impossible circle.


O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, the Obama campaign responded to the rules
controversy today. They said the president is looking forward to the
debate tomorrow night, looking forward to answering questions from the
American people who will be in the audience. But he is prepared for and is
ready to take questions from wherever they come.

Now this is something that I have predicted in the past would have to
happen, that if one of the candidate tried to hide behind the rules
publicly, they would look weak. So the Obama campaign rushed out to say
no, no, we`re not going to fight this whole issue of Candy Crowley
following up. The Romney campaign thinks maybe they still want to hold her
to those rules, so that they can hide behind them.

REID: Right. And I think working the ref has really been a
Republican strategy, even if you go back to the primaries, of dragging sort
of the moderator in, and sort of saying you`re biased, and I`m going to set
it up that you`re biased, therefore anything you ask me that`s tough is a
result of your bias.

That`s always been a Republican game plan. I think the president`s
team does not want to be seen playing that game. You know what? I hope
Candy Crowley violates those rules tomorrow night. First of all, what are
they going to do her, right? I mean, she`s got a job.

O`DONNELL: Nothing. There`s nothing they can do.

REID: Exactly.

O`DONNELL: It`s live TV. Like right now, you can do anything. And
there`s nothing I can do. It`s live TV.

REID: It`s live TV. She should violate the rules. Look, she is not
a potted plant, OK. The woman is supposed to be there to do a job. And if
the idea is that we`re just going to let -- what is it -- 70 completely
undecided voters, who can`t negotiate the difference between Barack Obama
and Mitt Romney, after two full years of a campaign -- but we`re going to
just let them do their thing and be the authority, and Candy Crowley is
supposed to stand there and say, well, you didn`t answer that person`s
question, but I think we`re just going to have on. I hope she doesn`t do

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, I have a lot of problems with these rules.
First of all, I don`t think it should just be these undecided voters. I
think it should be representative of the public. There should be some
Democrats there, some Republicans there, some people with their minds made
up. Let them ask whatever they want to ask, too.

And then further, as I said here Friday night, I think the candidates
should absolutely be allowed to bring as many rules or notes, briefcases,
whatever they want, as much as they need to read from, because that`s the
way the real life is. You get to do that. They should have at least one
staff member there, if not their entire kitchen cabinet, since no president
ever makes a decision alone and without advice.

And they should get all of the questions in advance, because I want to
hear their most thought-out, careful answer to every one of these
questions. I don`t want to reward them for how quick they are, how fast
they are. This is not the SATs. I could go on and on. But Karen, what
are you looking for tomorrow night?

FINNEY: But it`s like an oral dissertation, right. The expectation
is that people -- here`s what I think is going to be the most important.
People are going to ask their questions and frankly, I have to tell you, I
think sometimes the questions that ordinary Americans ask are better than
some of the journalists ask. I know I`m --

O`DONNELL: Frequently. Frequently they are better.

FINNEY: But they generally, you know, ask the things that really
matter to them in their lives, which is always interesting to hear. But I
think one of the most important things is, you know, despite the role of
the moderator in the next debate, it`s really the role of how each
candidate treats the questioner that I think is so critical.

Because there again, you will have a person who looks like your
neighbor or someone you know asking a question, and if that person looks
like they didn`t get an answer or if Candy says, wait a second, as she
pointed out in that clip you said, the question was apples and you answered
oranges, and tries to bring it back to that question, that`s going to
resonate with voters, because again, it goes to, can I trust this person?

Is this person respectful of the individual asking the question? Are
they really giving a straight answer or is it a canned talking point? So I
think that dynamic is going to be one of the most interesting things to
watch tomorrow night, in addition to actually what the answers are.

O`DONNELL: So I guess I`m alone, Joy, in agreeing with the
presidential commission about this one thing, which is get the moderators
out of the way. We don`t need them. You don`t need them in court rooms
when the lawyers -- you just need a judge to say that that`s out of order
or sustained or -- you know, but you don`t have moderators in Senate

In real debates, each side just says what it wants to say, reacts off
what the other one has said. And no one remembers that there`s any
moderator involved.

REID: No, I think that you do need moderators in the sense that if
you don`t have somebody who is there who is essentially a time keeper --

O`DONNELL: Time keeping fine.

REID: Right, you could just have two guys go on and on, ad infinitum,
and they`ll really just say their talking points. We know that`s what they
would do if they were left unmoderated. But I think one of the other
things that`s interesting --

O`DONNELL: When has a moderator ever gotten a candidate not to use a
talking point in the history of televised debates?

REID: I would argue that Martha Raddatz did it. But in these kinds
of debates, town halls, it`s not so much the answers. I think Karen is
right. Remember the history of these debates. It`s those other moments
that people remember. They don`t remember what was said.

They remember George Herbert Walker Bush not seeming to know the price
of a loaf of bread. They know Bill Clinton walking up to that woman and
feeling her pain. It`s those intangible moments in those debates, not
necessarily the moderator.

FINNEY: The other thing, too, I would just say is that when the
person asks a question, again, that interaction is so important, but also
the moderator`s role -- I know you don`t like the moderator, but the
moderator -- I mean, yes, the candidate may give those canned talking
points, but the moderator kind of helps underscore that point. And again,
that`s an important point that voters want to see. Does this person really
answer the question that they`re asked?

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid and Karen Finney, thank you both for joining me

REID: Thank you.

FINNEY: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up in the Rewrite, the fortunate son of a
Republican governor shows us what a true American idiot sounds like. And
actor, writer, director Rob Reiner will join me to show us a new campaign
ad he`s just directed.


O`DONNELL: Don`t want to be an American idiot? Of course you don`t.
No one wants to be an American idiot. But it`s too late for Jason Thompson
who officially became an American idiot yesterday. He was probably just a
local idiot in Wisconsin until yesterday when he said this in Kenosha.


JASON THOMPSON, SON OF TOMMY THOMPSON: We have the opportunity to
send President Obama back to Chicago or Kenya. We have an opportunity --


THOMPSON: We have an opportunity --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re taking donations for that Kenya trip.


O`DONNELL: And that is the latest video we have from a Republican
fund raiser. And like most video we have from Republican fund raisers, it
shows the guy with the microphone being an idiot and speaking to an
audience that includes at least one or more idiots. When Jason Thompson
says, "we have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago or
Kenya," the audience is not uncomfortably silent, as smart audiences are at
the sound of a very, very bad joke. The audience applauds the idea.

And one of the idiots in the audience actually says, "we`re taking
donations for that Kenya trip." Jason Thompson is the idiot son of a
Republican governor. Idiot sons of Republican governors tell very, very
bad jokes like that all the time.


ROMNEY: Now, I love being home in this place where Ann and I were
raised, where both of us were born. No one has ever asked to see my birth
certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and


O`DONNELL: We know Republicans hate affirmative action and have high
hopes that affirmative action in college admissions will be found
unconstitutional in a case pending before the Supreme Court right now.
Republicans hate affirmative action, except of course when it comes to the
idiot sons of Republican governors, who enjoy having their way paved for
them in politics and enjoy their ability to affirmatively exploit their
famous last name`s.

Jason Thompson`s father Tommy Thompson was governor of Wisconsin when
Jason was in high school. When it came time to apply to college, Jason
applied to, and very surprisingly, was accepted at the University of
Wisconsin. Wow. Getting accepted at a university where your father
controls the budget of that university. Not a whiff of favoritism there.

Then, little Jason managed to somehow get himself into the University
of Wisconsin Law School. Again -- again, without a hint of affirmative
action for governor`s idiot sons being a factor in his admission to law
school. I know what some of you are thinking, and only some of you. He
can`t be an idiot if he went to law school. The only way you can think
that is if you`ve somehow managed to avoid jury duty your whole life.

Jason is now a lawyer in the same politically connected law firm in
Milwaukee that employs the current chairman of the National Republican
Party, Reince Priebus, who was actually in the room of idiot applauders
when little Jason said, "we have the opportunity to send President Obama
back to Chicago or Kenya."

We don`t know if Chairman Priebus was one of the idiots who clapped
and we never will. He did issue a statement saying Jason`s comment was,
quote, "out of line." Of course, he issued that statement only after he
was outed as being in the audience of idiots who applauded the out-of-line

Out of line? Not wrong? Not malicious? Just out of line? Not
fanning a demented racial animus toward President Obama? Just out of line?
In political speak what Priebus is saying to the people he cares about in
his party is, what Jason Thompson said is true, but you should not get
caught publicly saying it. And if you do, I will have to say it`s out of
line. But don`t worry, I won`t say it`s not true. Just out of line.

Jason`s father is now running for Senate in Wisconsin, where he is
trailing Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. Jason`s father began the
race as a heavy favorite to win. But Tammy Baldwin has rewritten Tommy
Thompson`s resume to include some things Wisconsin voters might not have
known about their former governor.


REP. TAMMY BALDWIN (D), WISCONSIN: I`m Tammy Baldwin and I approve
this message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This pill helps prevent heart attacks. For the
V.A., it cost 1.37 dollars. But under Medicare, it cost taxpayers three
times more. Why? Tommy Thompson.

That`s right. It`s Tommy who cut a sweetheart deals with drug
companies while working with George Bush, making it illegal for Medicare to
negotiate lower prices. Then Tommy made millions at a D.C. lobbying firm
working for drug companies.

Tommy Thompson, he`s not for you anymore.


O`DONNELL: Tammy Baldwin is doing her part to Rewrite the image of
the Thompson name in Wisconsin from political winner to political loser.
Everyone in politics in Wisconsin thinks Jason Thompson will some day make
his move and finally get his name on a ballot. And then it will be up to
Wisconsin voters to save us all from this American idiot.


THOMPSON: We have the opportunity to send President Obama back to
Chicago or Kenya. We have an opportunity --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re taking donations for that Kenya trip.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to talk to you about women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And about Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitt Romney is for ending funding to Planned

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Including cancer screenings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said he would overturn Roe v. Wade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have Republicans trying to redefine rape.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trying to force women to undergo invasive

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you think that this election won`t affect you
and your life, think again.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vote for Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: MoveOn Dot Org Political Action is responsible
for the content of this advertisement.


O`DONNELL: You know what I wonder when I look at that ad?


O`DONNELL: Who directed that? That`s what I wonder when I look at
that ad.

REINER: Well, it`s a good thing that there`s a chance that you might
find that out.

O`DONNELL: I think it`s probably, you know, somebody, like a real
heavyweight, big time director, A-list guy, like Oscar nominated kind of
guy, like Rob Reiner.


O`DONNELL: It has that -- you know what? The Reiner touch, I could
see it.

REINER: But I also want to give a shot out to my wife, Michelle, who
produced the ad.

O`DONNELL: Great. You teamed up on this?

REINER: We did team up, yes.

O`DONNELL: How did it come about? Was it your idea?

REINER: You know, we were talking about the fact that, you know,
Obama had such strength amongst women, and then we saw that strength
starting to erode in a lot of --

O`DONNELL: -- tightened on the gender gap.

REINER: We felt that this was an issue that needed to be talked
about. I`ll tell you why in a second, why -- how critical it is in terms
of the election.

O`DONNELL: It -- these polls are tightening. They are getting -- and
Martha Raddatz, in the last five minutes of the debate, brought up women`s
health issues. And it had not been brought up in the first debate and all
through the second debate.

And for the first time, we saw an area that the Republicans could not
dance around. This was a clear definite -- a clear distinction between
what the Republican party stands for and what the Democrats stand for. And
you know because you`ve been on the hill -- you`ve spent a lot of time on
the Hill. You know how difficult it is to get legislation passed,
especially with, you know, the filibuster-happy Senate.

You know they will filibuster anything. The one area, whether is tax
policy, whether it`s energy policy, whatever, it`s going to be difficult.
And they`re going to have to negotiate. The one area that a president has
real power is in nominations to the Supreme Court, an area that never gets
talked about in presidential debates, how critical that is.

O`DONNELL: It is on this show officially the number one reason to
vote for a president, the selection of Supreme Court justices.

REINER: It is, and particularly for this issue. Because Romney is on
record, he wants to overturn Roe v.Wade. Paul Ryan wants to overturn Roe
v. Wade. It`s in the Republican platform. It just takes one justice, one
Supreme Court justice to change the balance of that court and Roe v. Wade
will be gone.

So if you`re concerned about protecting your reproductive health
rights, then that`s the reason. And you can debate about the tax policies
and all of those things, and they`re going to be, you know, compromised and
so on --

O`DONNELL: It`s harder now. The abortion discussion I think was the
easiest part of both of the debates to follow.


O`DONNELL: I don`t think there`s anyone out there whose mind wandered
during any of that.

REINER: Yes, because Romney can obfuscate all he wants. He can dance
around and say I didn`t say five trillion and I`m going to close loopholes
and I`m going to chance deductions. And nobody can really it. Or nobody
is going to really check him, even though no -- you know, no study has
shown that that math works out. We know it doesn`t.

But people do really understand it there. But they do understand, oh,
you mean, you`re going to tell me what I`m going to do with my body or not?
That`s a very clear thing and people can understand that. And we`re very
close. And we`ve taken out some -- Move On has taken out some spots in
Virginia and in Colorado. And these are areas where if we can -- it`s very
tight in those states.

O`DONNELL: You can target this kind of advertising very specifically.

REINER: Yes. And this is targeted for women. We bought on women`s
shows. And if women do care -- I mean, if you`re a woman and you care
about your choices, reproductive choices, there`s no way you can vote --

O`DONNELL: If you`re the father of a daughter, if you`re a grand


O`DONNELL: Who doesn`t care about women`s reproductive choices.

REINER: Exactly, exactly. And it`s clear and it`s understandable.
So --

O`DONNELL: Rob Reiner, that -- understandable, that is a perfect LAST
WORD for this particular episode of THE LAST WORD. Thanks for joining me
tonight Rob, my new co-host.

"THE ED SHOW" is up next.


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