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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, October 25th, 2012

October 25, 2012

Guests: Ari Melber, Irin Carmon, Ana Marie Cox, David Corn, Mo Rocca

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: President Obama is now the first president
to vote early which has inspired me to be the first cable news anchor to
vote early right here on his show tomorrow night which means. I only have
24 more hours of being undecided.


pushing the theory that they are in the lead down the stretch.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our campaign is gaining.

If I`m elected - no, when I`m elected --we are going to win by the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney knows the electorate.

ROMNEY: Our campaign is gaining.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is not telling the truth about the election.


ROMNEY: Our campaign is gaining.

When I`m elected - we are going to win by the way.

We are going to win on November 6th.

the momentum right now?

ROMNEY: Our campaign is gaining.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Time" magazine has the President Obama up by five
points in the Buckeye State.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They love flicking away these polls.

ROMNEY: We are going to win, by the way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the president approval rating is back up to 53

ROMNEY: Our campaign is gaining.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama has the advantage electorally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very, very heavy lift to Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney would rather be Obama than Romney.

ROMNEY: We are going to win on November 6th.

OBAMA: Here is the thing, trust matters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another political firestorm is growing.

WAGNER: Rich Mourdock`s comment about rape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he said was crazy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wants no abortion, no exceptions.

MOURDOCK: Even when life begins in that horrible situation from rape.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No abortions, no exceptions.

MOURDOCK: That it is something that is God intended to happen.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, "HARDBALL": Yes. We are back in the clown
card. What`s left more guys wearing the crazy hats --

WAGNER: You have Akin and you have Mourdock --

REP. TODD AKIN, (R) MISSOURI: If it is a legitimate rape, the female body
has ways to try shut the whole thing down.

OBAMA: Rape is rape. It is a crime.

TINA FEY, ACTRESS/COMEDIAN: If I have to listen to one more gray face men
with the $2 hair cut, explain to me what rape is, I`m going to lose my



O`DONNELL: With just 12 days until the election, tonight, Team Romney is
saying that they have the momentum, but some people on FOX News tonight are
saying no, he doesn`t.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEW CONTRIBUTOR: I think it is extremely closed and I
might even say that if the election were held today, the president might
have a slight edge. And it may others, they are saying something
different. I don`t think conservatives out there should get a big head of
steam thinking Romney. All he have to do is play it safe and he is going
to win. I think --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that is what Romney thinks.



O`DONNELL: President Obama made history today when he became the first
president to cast an early ballot for president of the United States.


OBAMA: I voted. To all of you who have not yet early voted, I just want
everybody what an incredibly efficient process this was.


O`DONNELL: The president voted in Chicago, a solid blue state, all the
blue city and solid blue state of Illinois whose 20 electoral college-votes
he will surely win, which is why he spent the rest of today campaigning in
the toss up states of Florida, Virginia and Ohio where tonight he said


OBAMA: I don`t know how a guy sits on a stage talking to tens of millions
of fellow Americans and you are saying somehow that you are for the auto
industry when everybody remembers you weren`t. The people in Detroit
remember. The people of Ohio remember. I bet on American workers, I bet
on American manufacturing and I do it in this because that bet always pays


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney also campaigned in Ohio tonight where he continued
to pretend that the polls are breaking his way.


ROMNEY: This campaign is growing. The momentum is building. We are
taking back America and it is coming soon.



O`DONNELL: But he is not taking back Nevada. Just released NBC News
polling shows that in Nevada President Obama leads Mitt Romney by three
points, 50 to 47, and Mitt Romney is not taking back Colorado. President
Obama and Mitt Romney there are tied at 48 percent.

New PPP robo-polling, shows (INAUDIBLE), I don`t know. PPP robo polling
shows that in Wisconsin, President Obama leads Mitt Romney by six points,
51-45. In Virginia, President Obama leads Mitt Romney by five points, 51-
46. In Iowa, President Obama leads Mitt Romney by two points, 49-47. In
North Carolina, President Obama and Mitt Romney are tie at 48 percent.

Tonight, Nate Silver of "The New York Times" Five Thirty Eight forecast
that on November 6th President Obama has now a 72 percent chance of winning
Re-election. And President Obama will win 293 electoral college votes and
Mitt Romney will win 245.

So, Krystal Ball, the Romney momentum thing, simply doesn`t apply to the
swing states where he needs it to apply in order to actually with the

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, "THE CYCLE": Right. Well, it didn`t apply to
the swing states. And now, it just doesn`t apply at all. It doesn`t apply
in the national polls either, if anything the president is now the one with
the momentum. And I think out of those polls the one that has to be the
most disturbing for the Romney campaign, actually the two, are the one that
is n Wisconsin and Ohio. Romney essentially has to win one of those states
to really have a credible path to 270. And I just don`t see in the next
two weeks how that is going to happen. There is really no big event
planned. The debates are all done. They don`t seem to have anything in
the bag in terms of tricks they are going to pull up to shake things up.
And I don`t know if they actually believe their own bluster.

O`DONNELL: Well, let`s take a look at the new Obama ad that is going to
try to stop any Romney momentum.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is said that character is what we do when we think
no one is looking. Mitt Romney thought no one is looking when he attacked
47 percent of Americans. His company ship jobs overseas. His plans cuts
millionaires` taxes, but, raise yours. He will voucherize Medicare and
make catastrophic cuts to education. So remember what Romney said, what
his plan would do.


O`DONNELL: Ari, it is a pretty good summer.

ARI MELBER, "THE NATION": It is strong add and it basically makes the
point that we, the voters have to keep track of what Romney says because he
won`t because he is always changing his position. You know, you had lower
anger mock there talking about if the election were held today, I mean, she
is so yesterday and Bill O`Reilly, so yesterday. I don`t think they even
realize that the entire voting structure is changing this country. That
last cycle, 31 percent of people voted before election day, this cycle is
going to be close to 40 percent because of Obama`s turn out machine. The
election is being held today. Somebody call Laura Ingraham. Revoke her
funding credentials for a week. And that goes to the question you posed,
Lawrence, which is the heart of this. Is there momentum?

Well, in Ohio Obama has a 30 point lead among early voters. In Iowa, a 25
points lead among early voters. That is real. That is not a poll. OK,
that is the lead of the ballots from these Democratic leading districts.
Republicans do get higher turnout on election day, historically. So, they
may be able to make up some of that. But are they going to make up 25
points in Iowa? I mean, call Laura Ingraham. Let her know how elections
work and then, we can get her analysis on momentum.

O`DONNELL: The election will be held here tomorrow. I`m going to do my
early vote right here at this table and it is a California ballots. So, it
is so complex.


O`DONNELL: I have flown in. I have flown a former governor of California
to help me fill out my ballot.

MELBER: So, you are like any undecided voter.

O`DONNELL: It`s tough. But, let`s talk a look at an endorsement that
President Obama got today. Four years ago, I predicted he would get this
endorsement, the Colin Powell endorsement because it just started to make a
certain sense in about a week ahead of time. I could see kind of -- this
time I think the entire country could see it coming in for a very good
reasons that Colin Powell states. Let`s listen to that.


him in 2008 and I planned to stick with him in 2012 and I will be voting
for he and for Vice President Joe Biden next month. I thinks, generally,
we have come out of the dive and we are starting to gain altitude. With
respect to Governor Romney, I essentially -- let`s cut taxes and compensate
for that with other things, but the compensation does not cover all of the
cuts intended or the new expenses associated with defense.


O`DONNELL: That is a Republican centrist talking and I have the sense that
he speaks for a lot more people than just himself there.

BALL: I think you are exactly right. And depending on how this election
goes down, I think we may be hearing more concern from parts of the party
that agree with Colin Powell. But, you know, in terms of gettable
endorsements, even though it is not that surprise and it is not as a big a
deal as it was in 2008.

I still think the Colin Powell endorsement is very important. When you
think of people in America who are broadly trusted, who are broadly
respected, seen as truly sort of a bug the fray of nonpartisan. Colin
Powell has to be near the top amongst them. So when he speaks with
authority and when he is willing to delved into the partisan issues and not
only support Barack Obama, but explain and critique of Mitt Romney that
makes a lot of sense, I think that has not merit.

MELBER: Yes. And I think, I mean on that, just - it is worth repeating
when he says is with respect to Governor Romney, his entire plan is let`s
cut taxes and compensate for that with other things. But that compensation
doesn`t cover the cuts or the new expenses associated with defense.

O`DONNELL: The arithmetic.

MELBER: The arithmetic.

BALL: Right.

MELBER: Now, that is the soldier talking. That is man who cares deeply
about our men and women in uniform as of the president. But, it is a
soldier who also cares about being straight with the American people. So,
there is no one really better than former secretary of state Powell, former
General Powell to get up there and say Mitt Romney is not being truthful
with you about the numbers and you can`t be trusted to fund the Pentagon if
he won`t tell you the truth about his plans.

O`DONNELL: President picked up endorsement from "Washington Post" today.
I`m not sure how much newspaper endorsements mean.

I want to talk about Nate Silver`s analysis of this momentum issue. He
said Mr. Romney clearly gained ground in the polls in a week or two after
the Denver debate. However, it seems that he is no longer doing so.

BALL: Yes.

O`DONNELL: It`s pretty much the story.

BALL: And I think that is right. I mean, that`s just Nate Silver looking
at the polls and telling it as it is. And I totally agree with that. I
would say that Romney peaked a bit too early and it wasn`t enough and it
wasn`t enough of a peak. I mean, even at his height before the momentum
slow down and started to come back together, he still wasn`t winning in the
battleground states that he would need to win to get to 270.

O`DONNELL: These are "Rolling Stone" interview that was released today.
President Obama says this about Bill Clinton in that interview: "Because of
the actions we took, we averted the great depression. But in the process,
we also muddied up the political narrative because it allowed somebody like
Romney to somehow blame my policies for the mess that the previous
administration created."

Bill Clinton can point that out in ways that are really helpful and really
powerful. Let`s look at how Bill Clinton did that at the Democratic


president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully
repaired all of the damage that found in just four years.



O`DONNELL: He is the only person out there in either party, Ari, who can
make a statement like that from presidential experience.

MELBER: Yes. I mean, it is credible and you are on the floor there, and
so was I. I was standing next to John Podesta, President Clinton`s former
deputy chief of staff. And one of the things that he said at the speech.
He loved the speech, no surprise. But then he said, you know, President
Obama can`t say it.

O`DONNELL: Exactly. It`s true.

MELBER: When President Obama says it, it sounds too self-serving even for
this crowd which is a crowd full of excited Democrats and a lot of people
watching at home. And that is what President Clinton does. He does it so

We talk about this before on your show, Lawrence. I mean, Paul Ryan, just
on the debt, Paul Ryan voted 91 percent of the time to hike the debt when
he was in office. Mitt Romney is a one percenter from way back, who
doesn`t have a growth plan, right? And then you compare it to President
Obama which is consecutive job growth numbers and the lowest unemployment
since he took office. And President Clinton who was the master of cutting
deficits, you know, there is the reason why people trust Democrats more on
these issues.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber and Krystal Ball. Thank you both for joining us

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

MELBER: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up. Mitt Romney`s idea of leadership is running away
from reporters who ask about his support for the Republican Senate
candidate who thinks rape pregnancies are something that God intended to

And on the spotlight tonight, President Obama tells the honest truth about
Mitt Romney`s lies and he used the word that I can`t use unless on courting
president. We are actually trying to get a ruling right now from the MSNBC
judges as to whether I can use this word that the president used. We are
not exactly sure where the profanity line is the rule will comes this one.
It`s a presidential quote. I`m going to try to use it when the time comes.
I`m kind of eager too.

And in the rewrite, the most powerful CEOs of the biggest companies in
America have a message for Mitt Romney and Congressional Republicans. And
that message is, raise our taxes. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney is afraid of angering right-wing Republicans. If
he criticizes the Republican candidate who says, that rape pregnancies are
something that God intend to happen and Mitt Romney is also afraid of
answering reporters` questions about exactly that. Joy Reid will join on
that next on that one.

And later, does the constitution guarantee you the right to vote? Don`t be
so sure. Mo Rocca and the Harvard professor both say no. Mo Rocca joins
me, coming up.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Governor, do you wish Murdock would pull that

ROMNEY: Which way we are going?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Governor, do you disavow Mourdock`s comment on

ROMNEY: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Governor, do you disavow Mourdock`s comment on


O`DONNELL: That was Mitt Romney today literally walking away from
questions about his continued support of the Republican senate candidate in
Indiana who said this.


MOURDOCK: I think even with life begins in that horrible situation of
rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Joy Reid and Irin Carmon, a writer for

Joy, this one is not going to walk away.


O`DONNELL: It is chasing Mitt Romney around on a campaign trail.

REID: And he is running.

O`DONNELL: Well, he, at this point, he gets to just, walk. He doesn`t
have to run away from it yet.

REID: No, it is interesting because, you know, if Mitt Romney was so
confident, as he has been projecting on the trail that, you know, he is
winning this thing. This thing is over. I think that he might have a bit
more courage to push away Mr. Mourdock. But obviously, he is afraid to do
so. And it think the reason why might be that a, he understands that a
significant portion of the Republican base agrees with Mr. Mourdock.
Indiana right to life has come out in favor of him. He has got tons of

But I think the other reason might be sitting right next to him. Right
next to Mr. Romney is a young man who says the following about pregnancies
that result in rape. He said, "I have always adapted the idea that the
method of conception doesn`t impact the meaning of life or the beginning of

So he refers to rape as a method of conception. That`s Paul Ryan. That is
not Mr. Mourdock. That`s Paul Ryan Paul Ryan has the exact same views.
So Mr. Romney would have to repudiate his own running mate if he would
really truly push away Mr. Mourdock. And he writhes alienating in
upsetting those far right-wingers who Romney clearly realized that he needs
in the margin because he really doesn`t.

O`DONNELL: Well, that is it, Irin. I mean, if Romney would say no, you
know, he should apologize for saying that, the anti-abortion right that
believes in no exceptions which is a very large fraction of - in the
Republican Party, would say, what do you mean? What`s wrong with what he

IRIN CARMON, WRITER, SALON.COM: Mitt Romney, for his entire career, has
been trying to have abortion every which way, right? I mean, we know he
change his opinions so many times. At this point, at the same time that he
chosen Paul Ryan, which is absolute as anti-abortion position, his running
at claiming that he is --


O`DONNELL: -- between Paul Ryan and this guy in Indiana is Paul Ryan is
not on video tape saying exactly those words. However, they both
completely agree on the policy that those words drive.

CARMON: Absolutely. I mean, unfortunately so that Mourdock`s opponent who
is a Democrat. He also - he believe in rape exception. At this point, if
is as if Mourdock is the progressive within the Republican Party because he
thinks that you can get pregnant from rape which is more than Todd Akin

O`DONNELL: That`s a step up. Let`s look at this DNC that`s come up today.


MOURDOCK: Even with life begins from that horrible situation of rape; that
is something that God intended to happen.

it should be legal for a woman to be able to get abortion because Ed, we
are so - I`m very proud of my pro-life record, and I have always adapted
the idea, the position that the method of conception doesn`t change the
definition of life.


O`DONNELL: And President Obama is backing that up on the campaign trail.
I want to - let`s listen to what he just said moments ago, actually.


OBAMA: We saw again this week, you don`t want a bunch of politicians in
Washington, most of whom are male, making health care decisions for women.
Women can make their own decision that sells. That is what I stand for.
That`s what I continue to stand for as President of the United States of


O`DONNELL: Joy, tactically, how does this work? Because I have to bet
that the president has all the voters who rank this as a very high and
important issue for them. But you can have the voter`s report; you don`t
have their turn out. You don`t have them actually at the polls. Is this
being used more as a turnout tactic on the Obama campaign, in addition to
it actually being emphatically what he believes?

REID: Yes, because if you look at the poll, and really the only gap that
Barack Obama needs to make up is the enthusiasm gap. So, in a lot of ways,
what this is about is turning out younger women and getting them to say,
listen. Don`t think that this is just an empty threat, that these guys
wouldn`t do this. That they need to also be reminding voters that Paul
Ryan, the same guy that was just in that ad, he is the representative spend
a lot of time trying to legislate on this issue.

They try to actually put his into law just from the House of
Representative. You put a Mitt Romney in the White House, he is going to
sign all that stuffs. Mitt Romney wins and they get the Senate, they are
going to pass that stuff. Don`t think it is been an empty threat. And I
think that the Obama campaign is trying to convince particularly young
women and their supporters, this is not as empty threat and you need to
move this up on you priority list. The Supreme Court is in the balance,
Roe v. Wade is in the balance. This is real threat.

O`DONNELL: According to my watch, the 48 hours is up and the president
should be landing in any moment at Andrews from this 48-hour trip.

I thought, it would be interesting, -- OK, there it is on the ground. How
would I know? I promised you, no one whisper to my ear.

Irin, one of the striking things for me about "The Tonight Show" here is
when this came up, you can hear in that studio audience that - they`re in
Burbank -- that they were surprised. The typical cross section of voters
there, and probably a fair amount of low information voters. And you are
going to hear them later, getting it for the first time and knows, it is
almost a gasp in the audience.

CARMON: Yes, I think is actually really a challenge to convince people
that the Republican Party is as extreme among women issues as it is. They
are holding up the Violence Against Women Act. They are trying to curtail
access to birth control. They want to ban abortion and basically in every
circumstance. I mean, the fact the government tells women that only the
worst cases, their lives have autonomy over their body. That`s the
moderate position now.

So again, I think, when we had a Mitt Romney that showed up and seems like
a moderate and talks about the U.N. in all these debate, after a whole
summer of Obama representing him as an extremist. This moment - moments
like Richard Mourdock, moments like Todd Akin are important because we see
that this is Mitt Romney`s party. This is the position that they are
coming from.

And we have to remind voters, you know, it is important to remind voters
who care about women`s health and women` rights that this is where they are
coming from. This is not just talk. You mentioned the Supreme Court. We
got a fragile five-four right now perpetuate (INAUDIBLE).

So again, these are not hollow threats. This is absolutely a judicial
priority and you have people like Todd Akin who can sort with domestic
terrorist taking over the party. They are not just the base, they are
inside now.

And the next Supreme Court justice will be confirmed by the United States
sentence where, you know, Mourdock may have a vote. And Scott Brown is
worried about this the other candidates and other Senate races around the
country and try to emphasize what the United States Senate is about.

And I think that is why John McCain did this very weird contortion where,
at first, in his gut, he was brought it by what he heard then he came
around to get in line because he needs his guy in the Senate to vote for
him to be chairman of a committee instead of the Democrat being the
chairman of that committee.

REID: Exactly. Remember the line from the Romney ad he cut from Mourdock?
He will be the 51st to vote.

O`DONNELL: For control of the Senate.

REID: Exactly.


REID: And that is this about. It`s giving him that 51st vote. And women
need to take that very gravely seriously.

O`DONNELL: And John McCain decided he wants him to have that 51st vote.

Joy Reid and Irin Carmon. Thank you both for joining me tonight.

REID: Thank you.

CARMON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the president`s interview with "Rolling Stone" where
he says that word that I`m just dying to say on this show. It`s -- well,
you won`t say it. You won`t say it but there are people here in the
network who believed you must never hear it from us here on the network
because it involves crazy offending rules.

Ana Marie Cox and David Corn will be encouraging me to say it and we will
see. The judges are going to tell us very soon whether we can use it.

And later, "Electoral Dysfunction". Mo Rocca is here to preview his
amazing documentary about voting.



OBAMA: If you`re starting to get a temperature, your ears are ringing,
your eyes are blurry. You are showing symptoms. You can`t remember what
you just said last week.


OBAMA: If you start thinking that maybe Governor Romney wanted to save the
auto industry, even though he wrote an op-ed saying "Let Detroit go
Bankrupt," if there`s a sudden fuzziness when it comes to the policies on
your website, don`t worry because this is a curable condition.

There is a cure. You just have to vote.



O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, Romnesia and other colorful words.
That was President Obama on the campaign trail in Tampa today. But he
recently used a much more blunt word to describe the other guy. In the new
issue of "Rolling Stone," historian Douglas Brinkley describes the truth
bomb the president dropped during an interview at the White House.

"As we left the Oval Office, executive editor Eric Bates told Obama that he
had asked his six-year-old if there was anything that she wanted him to say
to the president. After a thoughtful pause, she said, `Tell him you can do
it.` Obama grinned. `That`s the only advice I need,` he said. `I do very
well, by the way, in that demographic, ages six to 12. I`m a killer.`

`Thought about lowering the voting age,` Bates joked. `You know, kids have
good instincts,` Obama offered. `They look at the other guy and say, well,
that is a bull -- ` "

Wow, wait, wait this just in from the MSNBC family values patrol, I cannot
finish that word. Let`s go back to the full screen, see if the audience
can imagine what that word is if they see it in print. Can we get that
screen back that shows the quote? Asking the control room to do things.
OK, there it is. That is a bull something. I can tell. That is basically
one of the reasons that "The Washington Post" gave today for why it is
endorsing President Obama over Mitt Romney.

"There is no way to know what Mr. Romney really believes. His unguarded
expression of contempt for 47 percent of the population seems as sincere as
anything else we`ve heard. Rarely has a politician gotten so far with only
one evident, immutable belief, his conviction in his own fitness for higher

Joining me now are David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones"
and an MSNBC contributor, and Ana Marie Cox, political correspondent for
"The Guardian." You are both hereby forbidden from using that awful,
terrible, unspeakable word that the president is quoted as having said.

But I want to go straight to Rush Limbaugh, because I`m sure he was able to
use it, because he does not do a family show. And he did comment on this
today. So let`s listen to what Rush said.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: He called Romney a bull -- I can`t
say the word. He actually called Romney -- he doesn`t like Romney. He
called him a bullcrapper. That`s as close as I can get to it. But he used
the real word.

If there is anybody who is bull crapping us, it is Barack Obama. We`ve got
a guy running for reelection on what? Trust me, trust what I say. The
other guy is a bull. The other guy is a wire.


O`DONNELL: So Ana Marie, it turns out that Tush has now finally found a
word that is too ugly for him to say on television -- on the radio, on his
show there. That is a first for him, especially when you consider
everything he threw around at Sandra Fluke and others over the years on his

ANA MARIE COX, "THE GUARDIAN": I was going to say, maybe if you told him
it was about a woman, he would say it. You know, because that tends to
lower his inhibitions when it comes to that. But I`m sorry, Lawrence, you
were asking.

O`DONNELL: The prudish curtain has come down on Washington language around
this thing. It`s just inconceivable that the president would use such a
word. We`re all very, very shocked by this.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES": I have been on the phone all day long with top
level officials and the campaign and the White House. They told me what he
actually said. He was creating a new word. He meant to say bull shifter.
That`s a shape shifter who really tells a lot of lies. You know, it just
didn`t get past the copy editors at "Rolling Stone."

O`DONNELL: One of the examples of this which shocked the president, I
think visibly in the first debate, was Mitt Romney suddenly claiming that
he did not have a five trillion tax cut plan. Let`s take a look at that.


ROMNEY: I`m not looking for a five trillion dollar tax cut. There is no
economist that can say Mitt Romney`s tax plan adds five trillion if I say I
will not add to the deficit with my tax plan.

OBAMA: For 18 months, he`s been running on this tax plan. And now five
weeks before the election, he is saying that his big, bold idea is never


O`DONNELL: Ana Marie, the president clearly believes that any six year old
could tell what they were hearing when they heard Mitt Romney run away from
the five trillion dollar tax cut plan.

COX: Yes, I think so. And to the extend we saw any emotion on Obama`s
face during that first debate, it was probably a little bit of shock that
he was on the stage with this guy. I mean, the entire Obama campaign, in
some ways, be summarized as, this guy, really, this guy? I mean, this is
a person they wanted to run against, I mean if they couldn`t run against
Sarah Palin. I know there were some people the White House that was really
hoping that would happen.

But this is the guy they wanted to run against. He is clearly someone they
feel should be -- whose flaws should be obvious. I think it`s frustrating
to them that this new Mitt has emerged. The Moderate Mitt has made a come
back in these last few days of the campaign. Because the guy that was
running before was so clearly not someone that a moderate voter would want
to put in office. I think that`s who the president and his team thought
they would be able to run against at this point.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, David.

CORN: I think it is frustrating for the president and his team because
they`re running a record. You can agree or disagree with what -- at least
judge him on what`s happened in the last four years. Mitt Romney they
thought could be judged based on his ideas and his policies and what he
said and also a bit of his own past at Bain and in Massachusetts.

But now they find that this guy will say literally anything. He`s like --
I keep calling it the Monte Python defense. It is like, I`m not dead yet.
This parrot is not dead. He just keeps denying reality over and over
again. And it`s really hard to have a debate or an argument or campaign
with someone who just turns around says, oh, the Iraq War, not so good,
when he spent 10 years defending it.

O`DONNELL: "TheCleveland Plain Dealer" remains a family newspaper, and so
they couldn`t use any form of the word bull in their editorial today
endorsing President Obama. They said, "But which Romney would they elect?
The rather liberal one who ran for Senate in 1994, the pragmatic governor,
the sharply conservative candidate of this GOP`s primaries, the reborn
moderate of recent weeks? All politicians change positions over time, but
Romney`s frequent changes raise questions about his core principles and
make his lack of policy details all the more troubling."

Ana Marie, you can just feel them desperately wanting to use some form of
the bull word in that editorial, can`t you? It`s like right there.

COX: Well, you can kind of feel it when it comes to that frustrating way -
- that frustrating feeling you have when you try to describe Mitt Romney to
anyone, because there is no one word that describes him, because he keeps

So I think that that can drive anyone to vulgarity. But "The Cleveland
Plain Dealer" seems to have done a pretty good job in expressing
themselves, using family friendly language, which is expressing the thing
that anyone who has been paying attention for the past few months would
know, which is that this guy is completely unpredictable -- sorry, not
unpredictable. He will say what he seed to say in front of the audience
that he has. That you can predict about him.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, David.

CORN: There is a great anecdote in the book "The Real Romney" that the
"Boston Globe" reporters put out. It talks about in 1994, when he was
running for Senate, he sent a letter to a gay rights group saying we must
make sure there are complete equal rights for all our gay and lesbian
citizens in this country. And then when he was asked about that in 2007 by
the "Boston Globe" during one of his series of interviews, he said you have
to take into account who I was sending the letter to. I don`t think in a
nutshell you can say more about Mitt Romney or less about Mitt Romney than
that one story.

And that`s his own words explaining his own take on politics, and I think
on life in general. You got to look at the audience.

O`DONNELL: Ana Marie Cox and David Corn, thank you both for not using that
word, and thank you both for joining me tonight.

CORN: My pleasure.

COX: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the most shocking headline of the year. That`s in
tonight`s Rewrite.

And Mo Rocca is here with an amazing look at a dysfunctional electoral


O`DONNELL: In the Rewrite tonight, the most surprising sub-headline of the
year in the "Wall Street Journal." Here it is right here, page one, the
big story, CEO`s call for deficit action. And then the sub-headline --
right here, the sub-headline, "Executives to Press Congress to Embrace
Spending Cuts and Higher Tax Revenue." In a story that must have broken
the hearts of "Wall Street Journal" editorial writers, David Wessel reports
right here on page one that chief executives from more than 80 U.S.
corporations have come together to pressure Congress and the White House to
reduce the federal deficit using spending cuts and higher taxes, the way
we`ve always done it.

The CEOs signed a statement saying tax increases are necessary. The CEOs
who signed the manifesto deemed tax increases inevitable no matter which
party succeeds at the polls in November.

Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, said "there is no possible way to avoid
raising taxes." He said, "you can`t tax your way to fix this problem. And
you can`t cut entitlements enough to fix this problem."

The CEO`s statement was organized by the Fix the Debt Campaign, a
bipartisan effort inspired by the Simpson/Bowles Commission. Randall
Stephenson, the CEO for AT&T, said, "when you talk about a 16 trillion
dollar debt, I don`t see how you can avoid addressing both sides," meaning
spending and tax revenue increases.

Mr. Stephenson is a supporter of Mitt Romney for president. Yes, the very
same Mitt Romney who said he would not accept one dollar in tax increases
for every 10 dollars in spending cuts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m going to ask a question to everyone here on the
stage. Say you had a deal, a real spending cuts deal, 10 to one, as Byron
says, spending cuts to tax increases. Speaker, you`re already shaking
your head. But who on this stage would walk away that deal?

Will you raise your hand is you feel so strongly about not raising taxes,
you`d walk away on the 10 to one deal?


O`DONNELL: The most powerful CEOs in the country think that is crazy. The
CEOs believe that the Simpson-Bowles framework of three dollars in spending
cuts for every one dollar in tax increases is, quote, an effective
framework for a deficit reduction plan.

When Mr. Stephenson was asked about the seemingly unbridgeable gap between
his position on deficit reduction and Romney`s anti-tax position on deficit
reduction, Mr. Stephenson simply told the "Wall Street Journal," this is
bigger than any one political candidate. Mr. Stephenson obviously knew
Mitt Romney the business man before candidate Romney became the captive of
the Tea Party.

Mr. Stephenson obviously believes that Mitt Romney can still do the same
kind of arithmetic that any decent CEO can do, and look at the federal
budget and realize quickly that it is impossible to reduce the deficit
without spending cuts and tax increases, the same way Bill Clinton did it.


the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row. What new ideas did we
bring to Washington. I always give a one word answer, arithmetic.


CLINTON: It`s arithmetic.


O`DONNELL: The more than 80 CEOs in the Fix the Debt Campaign agree with
Bill Clinton that the reason we need higher taxes is simple arithmetic.
And so tonight America is left to guess who Mitt Romney will take orders
from if he ever makes it to the White House, his old friends, the most
powerful CEOs in America, some of whom actually know a little something
about economics, or his new friends Grover Norquist and the anti-tax
fanatics of the Tea Party.


ROMNEY: The wrong course in this country is to raise taxes. I`m not going
to raise taxes on the American people.


O`DONNELL: If you don`t want to break children`s hearts, do not try to
explain the electoral college to them.


MO ROCCA, COMEDIAN: Who is voting for colored pencils?

OK, 10 votes for colored pencils.

Who is voting for markers?

Fourteen for markers.

Markers have won the popular vote.


ROCCA: And now we are going to have the real election.

In the end the whole election came down to one state.

Table five`s electoral, Angel, come on down. This is it, guys. This will
decide the whole thing. Elector, how do you cast your vote?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Colored pencils.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re cheating.

ROCCA: What is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are so cheating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone is thinking it is unfair because it`s not just
about the electors` votes. It`s about everybody`s vote.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is the very mean man who is the host of that
documentary, "Electoral Dysfunction," Mo Rocca, a correspondent for CBS
"Sunday Morning."

Mo, so cruel, so cruel. Why don`t you wait until they get to be 18 to have
their hearts broken by the electoral college?

ROCCA: Because it will happen. It will be happen.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it will.

ROCCA: Unless they`re in a swing state, and then they will be flattered or
terrorized by ads.

O`DONNELL: They will realize how important they are.

ROCCA: Third graders have an uncorrupted sense of fairness.

O`DONNELL: Not anymore. Not those third graders, thanks to you.

O`DONNELL: There is a fascinating piece here where you get in the
constitutional right to vote. I want to show that part of the documentary.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s nothing there, nothing about voting. I
haven`t seen it. I haven`t seen anything.

ROCCA: Yes, I couldn`t find anything.

But even using a high-tech magnifying device, we were coming up empty. I
decided I needed help from an expert.

I have been looking all over the Constitution for right to vote and I can`t
find it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not surprised. There is no right to vote in the

ROCCA: You`re not kidding me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I`m not kidding you. The Constitution, at the
nation`s birth, made no mention of voting rights whatsoever.

ROCCA: Did they just forget to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they didn`t forget to. They -- they were unsure,
in fact, whether voting was a right or a privilege.


O`DONNELL: And those same guys came up with this electoral college.

ROCCA: Exactly, our Founding Fathers, who sometimes are more like deadbeat
dads, I mean, not the best parents. You know, a lot of your viewers right
now are probably saying, of course there is a right to vote. There`s a
15th Amendment, 19th Amendment.

O`DONNELL: All of them are.

ROCCA: All of them are saying that, yes. It`s implicit. But there is not
an explicit affirmative right to vote in the Constitution. And that`s why
we have a lot of the problems that we have today, why it`s so
decentralized, why there are 13,000 different voting districts in this
country. And local control is -- is romantic and nice when you think of
Mayberry, but not when you think of Palm Beach County in 2000.

O`DONNELL: That means, for example, thousands of different contracts for
voting machines, including voting machines provided by Mitt Romney`s kid.

ROCCA: And ballot designs. And polling hours. You have 11 states that
have computer voting without paper trails. I mean, that`s pretty insecure.

O`DONNELL: I learned from you this weekend in your report on that other
network I mentioned about this popular vote move that some of the big
states are engaged in, which I am completely in favor of, instantaneously
upon hearing it.

ROCCA: Including California. It is an end run around the Constitution,
because three quarters of the states are probably not going to sign up for
abolishing the electoral college. Simply put, it`s a way for states to
say, look, we will cast our electoral votes for the winner of the popular
vote nationally, regardless of how our states votes, but it will only go
into effect when enough states have agreed to it that they equal the
winning number of 270. And we are about half way there. It started with
Maryland and it includes California. And it will render the electoral
college moot, and may happen before 2016.

O`DONNELL: I have never missed voting in an election in my lifetime. I
have never once cast a meaningful vote in a presidential election because I
have never lived in a swing state.

ROCCA: And the safe states like New York, California are safe because
they`re uncontested, have turn out about 10 percent lower than the swing

O`DONNELL: Big surprise. We know we don`t matter. The documentary is
"Electoral Dysfunction," and it is airing on PBS through election day. And
Mo Rocca, the mean man in the third grade, gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

And tomorrow, we will have a special live Friday edition of THE LAST WORD
with all the latest news from the campaign trail. "THE ED SHOW" is up


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