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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

November 7, 2013

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: President Obama began this week defending
the biggest legislative achievement of his presidency, the Affordable Care


campaign. But, I will tell you what, I have got one more campaign in me --
the campaign to make sure that this law works for every single person in


O`DONNELL: This evening, the president gave an exclusive interview to NBC
News` Chuck Todd at the White House. The president issued an apology to
those people who were surprised when they got insurance cancellations
notices in the mail.


CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Thank you, Mr. President.

OBAMA: Great to see you, Chuck.

TODD: Nice to see you.

I will start with health care. It`s probably the most quoted thing or re-
quoted thing you have said in your presidency, "If you like your health
care plan, you can keep it." You said it a lot during the run up.

At this point, though, it`s obviously something -- a promise that has not
been able to be kept. Just today, "The Denver Post" reported, 250,000
people in Colorado are seeing health insurance policies canceled. Some of
those people liked those policies. And they can`t keep it.

What happened?

OBAMA: Well -- first of all, I meant what I said. And we worked hard to
try to make sure that we implemented it properly. But obviously, we didn`t
do enough -- a good enough job -- and I regret that. We`re talking about 5
percent of the population -- who are in what`s called the individual
market. They`re out there buying health insurance on their own.

A lot of these plans are subpar plans. And we put in a clause in the law
that said if you had one of those plans, even if it was subpar -- when the
law was passed, you could keep it.

But there`s enough churn in the market that folks since then have bought
subpar plans. And now, that may be all they can afford. So even though it
only affects a small amount of the population, you know, it means a lot to
them, obviously, when they get -- this letter canceled.

And -- you know, I am deeply concerned about it. And I`ve assigned my team
to see what we can do to close some of the holes and gaps in the law --
because, you know, my intention is to lift up and make sure the insurance
that people buy is effective. That it`s actually going to deliver what
they think they`re purchasing.

Because what we know is before the law was passed, a lot of these plans,
people thought they had insurance coverage. And then they`d find out that
they had huge out of pocket expenses. Or women were being charged more
than men.

If you had preexisting conditions, you just couldn`t get it at all. And we
are proud of the consumer protections we put into place. On the other
hand, we also want to make sure that -- nobody is put in a position where
their plan`s been canceled. They can`t afford a better plan, even though
they`d like to have a better plan. And so we`re going to have to work hard
to make sure that those folks are, you know, taken care of.

TODD: Do you feel like you owe these folks an apology for misleading them?

OBAMA: You know --

TODD: Even if you didn`t intentionally do it, but at this point, they feel
misled. And you`ve seen the anger that`s out there.

OBAMA: You know, I regret very much that what we intended to do, which is
to make sure that everybody is moving into better plans because they want
`em, as opposed to because they`re forced into it, that, you know, we
weren`t as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were
taking place.

And I want to do everything we can to make sure that people are finding
themselves in a good position -- a better position -- than they were before
this law happened.

Keep in mind that most of the folks who are going to -- who got these
cancellation letters, they`ll be able to get better care at the same cost
or cheaper in these new marketplaces, because they`ll have more choice.
They`ll have more competition. They`re part of a bigger pool. Insurance
companies are going to be hungry for their business.

So, the majority of folks will end up being better off, of course, because
the website`s not working right. They don`t necessarily know it right.
But, even though it`s a small percentage of folks who may be disadvantaged,
you know, it means a lot to them. And it`s scary to them.

And I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this
situation, based on assurances they got from me. We`ve got to work hard to
make sure that they know we hear `em and that we`re going to do everything
we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a
consequence of this.

TODD: You`ve been getting some tough criticism on this quote. Clarence
Page, your hometown newspaper, "The Chicago Tribune," this is not -- not a
columnist that likes to throw bombs inside this White House. He`s been
pretty supportive of what you said.

He characterized this as a political lie. He called it a sort of -- "The
sort of rosy promise politicians sometimes make with such passion and
confidence that they actually may have convinced even themselves that it is

Is that the position -- did politics play a role and you felt as if as the
Republicans were throwing stuff at the law that you`re trying to pass it,
you`re trying to do this, that you shorthanded this?

OBAMA: No, I -- I think we, in good faith, have been trying to take on a
health care system that has been broken for a very long time. And what
we`ve been trying to do is to change it in the least disruptive way
possible. I mean, keep in mind that there were folks on the left who would
have preferred a single payer plan. That would have been a lot more

There were folks on the right who said, "Let`s just get rid of, you know,
employer deductions for health care. And give people a tax credit and they
can go buy their own health care in their own market." That would have
been more disruptive.

We tried to find a proven model. We`ve seen it work in Massachusetts.
That would be as undisruptive as possible, and in good faith, tried to
write the law in such a way that people could keep their care. Although we
really believe that ultimately, they`re going to be better off when they`re
buying health care through the marketplaces. They can access tax credits.
And they`re benefiting from more choice and competition.

But, obviously, we didn`t do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted
the law. And, you know, that`s something that I regret. That`s something
that we`re going to do everything we can to get fixed. In the meantime --

TODD: By the way, that sounds like you`re supportive of this legislation.

OBAMA: Well, you know --

TODD: Various things that are out there.

OBAMA: We`re looking at a range of options. But the one thing I want to
emphasize, though, Chuck, is everybody is acting as if the existing market
was working. And the fact of the matter is that a whole lot of people who
were in this individual market, who were buying health care on their own,
because they`re not getting it through their employer, they might be happy
with it this year. And then suddenly next year, the cost got jacked up by
15 percent, 20 percent.

The average increase on premiums in this individual market for somebody who
kept their health care for awhile, the average increase was double digits.
If they actually got sick and used the insurance, they might find the next
year their premiums had gone up, or the insurer might have dropped them
altogether, because now they had a preexisting condition.

Women were being charged as much as double compared to men. So, this is a
market that wasn`t working. And a whole lot of people were dissatisfied.
And what we`ve done is to increase the consumer protections that are in
place for those families and those folks. We`ve said, "You can`t drop
people when they get sick and need it most."

We`ve said that you can`t -- you know, have lifetime limits so that
suddenly people think they`ve got insurance, the next thing they know
they`ve got $30,000, $40,000 out-of-pocket expenses.

And over the long term, that is the right thing to do. But in this
transition, you know, there are going to be folks who get a cancellation
letter, especially when a Web site`s not working. They`re looking and
saying, "What am I going to do now?"

And, you know, we have to make sure that they are not feeling as if they`ve
been betrayed by an effort that is designed to help them.

TODD: Do you feel like, considering how much this quote has been, it`s
late night, it`s all sorts of things, that do you understand that people
are going to be skeptical of the next promise you make, of the next? Or
are you concerned that people are going to be wondering, "Jeez, what is the
fine print that he`s not telling me?"

Do you get that people might be a little more skeptical? Forget the
partisans here in Washington, just average Americans.

OBAMA: You know, I`ll tell you, Chuck. I think that -- I`ve now been in
national public life for seven, eight years. I`ve been president for
almost five. And I think for the most part, people know that I speak my
mind and I tell folks what I think and I`ve been very clear about what I`m
trying to do.

And I think most people know that -- even if they disagree with me on
certain issues -- that I`m every day working hard to try to make life a
little bit better for middle class families who are -- and folks who are
trying to get in the middle class who are doing the right thing and being

I think what most people I hope also recognize is that when you try to do
something big like make our health care system better that there`re going
to be problems along the way, even if ultimately what you`re doing is going
to make a whole lot of people better off.

I hope that people will -- look at the end product. And they`re going to
be able to look back and say, "You know what? We now have protections that
we didn`t have before. We`ve gotten more choice and competition. I didn`t
have health insurance. I now have it. I had bad health insurance. I now
have good health insurance. The Web site`s actually working.

TODD: Well, I want to get to the Web site --

OBAMA: I`m getting -- you know, I`m getting -- you know, my kid on my
insurance plan, even though he`s got asthma or some other preexisting

So, ultimately, I think I`ll be judged on whether this thing is better for
people overall. And, in the meantime, even if it`s a small percentage of
people -- I mean, we`re talking about 5 percent of the population.

TODD: Millions.

OBAMA: But that`s a significant number of people.

TODD: Yes.

OBAMA: Even though a whole lot of them are going to be better off.
There`s going to be a segment who, you know, I`ve ultimately got to make
sure that, you know, I`m speaking to their needs and their concerns. And,
you know, I take that very seriously, because I want everybody out there to
know that, you know, my entire intention here is to make sure that --
people have the security of affordable health care.

TODD: You have 21 days until November 30th. Is this Web site going to be
running smoothly enough? If it`s not, at that point, do you sit there and
say, "OK, let`s extend the enrollment period. Let`s delay the mandate."

Do all of those Plan B`s start coming into focus if November 30th isn`t

OBAMA: Well, let me just say, generally -- and I don`t think I`m saying
anything that people don`t know and I haven`t said before -- I am deeply
frustrated about how this Web site has not worked over the first couple of

And, you know, I take responsibility of that. My team takes responsibility
of that. And we are working every single day, 24/7, to improve it. And
it`s better now than it was last week. And it`s certainly a lot better
than it was on October 1st.

I`m confident that it will be even better by November 30th and that the
majority of people are going to be able to get on there. They`re going to
be able to enroll. They`re going to be able to apply. And they`re going
to get a good deal -- a better deal than they`ve got right now when it
comes to buying health insurance.

Now, that -- you know, having said that -- given that I`ve been burned
already with a Web site -- well, more importantly, the American people have
been burned by a Web site that`s been dysfunctional. What we`ve also been
doing is creating a whole other set of tracks: making sure that people can
apply by phone effectively, making sure that people can apply in person

So, what I`m confident about is that anybody who wants to buy health
insurance through the marketplace, they are going to be able to buy it.
And --

TODD: So, no delays? You have no plans or you might -- you might --


OBAMA: Keep in mind -- keep in mind that the open enrolment period, the
period during which you can buy health insurance is available all the way
until March 31st. And we`re only five weeks into it.

So, we`ve got a whole bunch of time not only to get the Web site fixed, to
work out all the kinks, to make sure that everybody has the information
that they need. And what we`ll do is continue to assess if there are
roadblocks for people, we`re going to clear out those roadblocks. We are
going to make sure that they can access --

TODD: You are open to whatever it takes?

OBAMA: Whatever it takes for people to be able to get what is good quality
health insurance at cheaper prices or better insurance for the same price
as bad insurance that they`ve got right now. We`re going to make sure that
they have access to that market.

TODD: You still have full confidence in Kathleen Sebelius?

OBAMA: You know, I think Kathleen Sebelius, under tremendously difficult
circumstances over the last four and a half years, has done a great job in
setting up the insurance markets so that there is a good product out there
for people to get.

You know, Kathleen Sebelius doesn`t write code. You know, she wasn`t our
I.T. person. I think she`d be the first to admit that -- if we had to do
it all over again, that there would have been a whole lot more questions
that were asked, in terms of how this thing is working.

But my priority right now is to get it fixed. And, you know, ultimately,
the buck --

TODD: Is she still the right person to do it?

OBAMA: Ultimately, the buck stops with me. You know, I`m the president.
This is my team. If it`s not working, it`s my job to get it fixed.


O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, Joy Reid, and Steve Kornacki are here to analyze
what the president had to say about health care.

And, later, for the first time we hear President Obama talk about whether
or not he wanted to drop Joe Biden as his running mate, in favor of Hillary



OBAMA: You know, I regret very much that what we intended to do, which is
to make sure that everybody is moving into better plans because they want
`em, as opposed to because they`re forced into it, that, you know, we
weren`t as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were
taking place.

And I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this
situation based on assurances they got from me. We`ve got to work hard to
make sure that they know we hear `em and that we`re going to do everything
we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough situation as a
consequence of this.


O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, regret, I`m sorry -- it`s very clear the president
went out there to talk to Chuck with the intention of saying those word.
He wanted that message out there tonight.

ALEX WAGNER, "NOW" HOST: He was very deliberate. I made notes. He said
he is deeply concerned. He talked about the American public being misled.
He regretted very much. I guess, I guess, I guess that works. I mean, I
guess, part of me is, wondering, I`m reminded of the BP oil spill. When
everyone kept saying, when is the president going to get mad?

This is one of those moments again, where we are like when is the president
going to get mad and really indignant. He is not going to. I mean, he
could have gotten much madder at the BP oil spill than members of his
administration who I think he feels did the best job that they could.

He is not constitutionally some one who gets really mad, which is why it
was preposterous when Robert Gibbs said back then, we have our boot on the
throat of BP, because you can never imagine President Obama with his boot
on the throat of anyone, let alone a major corporation.

So, I don`t know actually, Lawrence, as far as how conclusive those words
of regret and apology are in terms of placating the right which seems
intent on taking this is a far as it can go in the court of public opinion.

O`DONNELL: Joy, there are certainly some lines in there that the right is
going to be thrilled about. The president actually said at a certain
point, he made a reference to policy not just message. He said, "We didn`t
do good enough job how in we crafted the law." And it left me wondering,
which part of it? What did he mean?

JOY REID, THE GRIO: Yes, you know, it is interesting. I thought maybe I
was over-thinking this. I noted he also said, "We are going to have to go
back and look at where we can close the gaps in the law and that, we want
people to be moving into better plans because they want it, not because
they feel forced to." Which made me think, wait a minute, are you saying
they want to go back and do fixes, which would allow you to get junk

O`DONNELL: The most narrow interpretation is that he thinks they didn`t
craft the grandfather clause tightly enough so that the insurance companies
not be doing what they`re doing right now?

REID: That`s right. You can somehow find a way to grandfather in more
junk insurance.


REID: It does Sound frighteningly going become to Congress to get more
junk policies grandfathered in, just to placate the 3 percent to 5 percent
of people having insurance they have, so they like having it, left lawful,
when that insurance is junk.

O`DONNELL: But, Steve, if you believe in the way the law is going to work
as I think the president does, you would actually have the confidence in
doing that, because you, what you are going to believe is, right beside
those junk policies, they`re going to see for $70 more or for some amount
of money more, I can get this much better policy and eventually that
rational consumer choice will be made.

STEVE KORNACKI, "UP" HOST: The whole premise of the law, the whole premise
of the Web site working having the online exchanges people can shop for
competitively priced insurance plans and people being people, they will go
for the best deal.

So, ultimately, I mean, I feel like I don`t know his words are going how to
mean much to anybody tonight. I don`t think the right is going to say
apology accepted. We know that, even people operating --

WAGNER: Or even indignant Americans.

KORNACKI: He`s operating in good faith. I don`t think this is going to
mean much to the -- the real test for this, though, and how this could end
up being nothing more than a historical blip if six months from now, if
nine months from now, if a year from now, we are talking about, hey, they
got the Web site working by Thanksgiving. People signed up. People saw
they could get a good deal. They built a real, sizable risk pool.

The insurance companies looked at the risk pool. More of them said they
wanted to get in. And this thing worked as it is working now in
Massachusetts and is designed to work nationally.

If that happens, nobody will remember what we said today and nobody
remember this whole eruption of the Web site.

WAGNER: I feel like the right is still sort of furthering the narrative of
Solyndra. They will keep something live after it is comatose for the rest
of the American public. They will bring zombies back out of the closet
because there`s no compunction about fact.

I mean, because there are two different divergent narratives in American
politics and one is against I mean, they`re very -- the partisan divide is
that deep. I guess to some degree for the next 21, what day is it? I
don`t know.

Before this thing actually starts working, he is going to continue to have
to do this, because there is going to be battling narrative. Even if the
thing works, they will sell this as Ishtar, lawrence and say this was a
disaster if it works.

O`DONNELL: I got to say, really, I loved Ishtar.

WAGNER: I knew it would resonate.

O`DONNELL: If Warren Beatty is not watching, I loved "Ishtar."

REID: I think the bigger danger for the president is that you saw Chuck
Todd asked about, well, the next time you make a promise to the American
people. They`re going to try to flaw not the narrative of the president
lied about this discreet thing in their mind, but that the president is a
liar. And that`s something the right has been trying to sell about the
president from the very beginning, mainly, related to health care, but
related to anything you want to name. Fast and Furious, whatever it is.

But if that narrative seeps into the coverage of the president, because
during the campaign, worst thing to be seen as a loser. And once loser
narrative attaches to you, Mitt Romney, you are a loser and a goner. The
problem for the president is whether the right`s narrative that, well, now,
this guy is dishonest you. Need to cover him as fundamentally dishonest if
that seeps into the Beltway bigger narrative, that would be a time he got a
problem, because he`d be covered from that context.

O`DONNELL: At the Senate Finance Committee hearing yesterday, Secretary
Sebelius had functionality improvements to describe. She said they`re now
processing 17,000 registrants per hour with as she put it, almost no
errors. More than 2 million people have called it to the call center, with
an average wait time of less than 30 seconds.

And if you watch that hearing all the way through, the Republican some did
their regular stunts, but they didn`t really land any blows. There wasn`t
anything factually that the Secretary Sebelius couldn`t handle in that
hearing, Steve, and it seems like the facts are developing at least on
paper in her favor. And it`s the question of if they continue to do that,
how long will it take for the narrative to match what`s going on?

KORNACKI: Well, I think, when you get into next year. You start looking
at, the experience that they had in Massachusetts was, you know, you
started enrollment in almost nobody enrolled. You got near the deadline.
Like OK, I have to pay a penalty if I don`t enroll. Everybody started

Hear Obama saying this tonight, you are not talking about the penalty
setting in until three months into next year. That`s a long time for now.

So, I really think this is going to be a contested thing in the media and
politics, into next year, next January, February, March. If you get to
February, March talking sizable enrollees and young, healthy people who
make this, who will make the competitive pricing behind this is a reality,
if you get to the point, then yes, Republicans need to move on to something
else. There will be a consensus at media level, that yes, this phase

O`DONNELL: Alex and Joy are going to hang in for more stuff. You got
stuff to do. You, you --

WAGNER: Yes, I think Steve and Joy are hanging in here. I turn to a
pumpkin. Precisely 10:00 whatever minute of the hour.

O`DONNELL: OK. President Obama will address the reports he didn`t want to
keep Joe Biden as his running mate for a second term.

And the backlash against Chris Christie begins in his own party, of course.


O`DONNELL: The United States Senate passed the Employee Non-Discrimination
Act by a vote of 64-32 today, 10 Republicans joined 52 Democrats to support
the bill, which bans workplace discrimination again gays, and lesbians and
transgendered people.

A spokesperson for the House majority leader, Republican Eric Cantor, says
the bill is not scheduled for a vote in the House. Speaker John Boehner
says he opposes that bill.

Up next, what President Obama told Chuck Todd about reports that he
considered dropping Joe Biden as his running mate in favor of Hillary
Clinton in his re-election campaign.


O`DONNELL: President Obama responded to the reports that his re-election
campaign considered dropping Vice President Joe Biden in favor of Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton -- responding to the reports for the first time
today since details were released in the new book "Double Down."

Here`s what President Obama had to say.


TODD: Did you really not know your campaign was researching this idea of
swapping Joe Biden for Hillary Clinton?

OBAMA: You know, again, Chuck, the problem that we got -- and this goes
back to the earlier question you asked. You know, I am in charge of 2
million people in the federal government. And that was true, by the way,
even when I was running for president. So, people do all kinds of stuff.
Some that they clear with me. Sometimes they`re trying to figure something
out, particularly on the political side. And I am not somebody who delves
into polling and all that data.

Here is one thing I can say for certain. That if they would have asked me
I would have said there is no way that I am not running again with Joe
Biden because I genuinely believe that he has been one of the best vice
presidents in our history. He also happens to be a friend. He also
happens to be one of my most important advisers on domestic and foreign
policy. I like him. When my back is up against the wall, he has my back.

TODD: You must be upset when this leaked out?

OBAMA: You know, I have now been in this town long enough to know that
folks like to seem important by getting their version of events in the
press or in books or what have you. And, that`s just kind of part of the
atmosphere that you live in.

TODD: Did you and the vice president talk?

OBAMA: Absolutely. And what I told him, and he knows and he believes me,
is that I would not -- I would not be here if it weren`t for the support
that I have had from Joe Biden. He is a personal friend and adviser. It
is one of the best decisions I ever made was selecting him as vice
president. I couldn`t be prouder of the job that he has done.


O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, President Obama is not a risk taker. I can`t think
of a bigger risk than changing your running mate as an incumbent president
like that.

you think about it, what signal would it have sent about the strength of
the administration?

O`DONNELL: Well, first of all, desperation as a campaign. That would be
signal one.

REID: Exactly. And it would have been a losing proposition.

Look. Anybody who has worked on campaigns and I worked on campaigns, there
are people in the polling unit who test things. There are strategies that
are tested and trotted out by advisers that never get to the principal.
The person who is the head of a campaign is not looking at every poll and
every strategy and going over all of that. They have a lot to do. They
have a lot on their plate. Especially when you are a sitting president,
who is also being the leader of the free world while running for re-
election. So, I don`t believe for a second that President Obama considered
it. Because it wouldn`t have been smart politics, first of all. And
because decisions don`t filter up to the principal.

O`DONNELL: All right, let`s take a look at the president`s running mate at
the last Democratic convention.


to do, but today I say to my fellow citizens. In the face of the deepest
economic crisis in our lifetime, this generation of Americans has proven
itself as worthy as any generation before us.


O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, game it out for us. Let`s say that they
actually did want to do this, how would they have done it?

other part of this that hasn`t gotten much attention I think is the
replaced Biden with Hillary thing. What was in this for Hillary Clinton?

The normal incentive of being VP has puts you next in line for the next
time around. Hillary Clinton by virtue being the former first lady,
secretary of state, 18 million votes in 2008, she already occupied that
position. So, there was nothing for her to gain by being the VP.

There was a huge thing for her to lose. Because, fair or not, if they
switched in Hillary Clinton for Joe Biden and the ticket had been lost, it
might have had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton but she would have been
the variable that will be blamed for the defeat. So, that position of
being next in line would have been jeopardized. Who gained nothing, even
if they`ve won, and she could lose everything by losing. So, I don`t think
she under any circumstance would have been interested in doing that.

O`DONNELL: And Joy, you heard the president talk about his personal
relationship with Joe Biden which by all accounts and all observations is
absolutely true. And Joe Biden is a very, very likable guy in the back
room with the door closed. I can`t imagine that that bond would have been
broken at that point?

REID: No. I mean, and the thing is that Joe Biden has also been
incredibly valuable. I mean, this is the White House that does not like to
wine and dine senators and members of Congress. And so, the pivot point in
terms of getting things done on the hill has often been Biden. Biden has a
good relationship with Mitch McConnell. He has able to go to the Senate
because he was a senator so long. He has amazing relationships there.

He has been able to get a lot done substantively for the president on the
hill. He has been the point guy in a lot of ways for getting done things
on the hill. He has been a valuable vice president. Besides the fact that
look, the guy was a noun, a verb in 9/11 and ended Giuliani`s political
career. How do you get rid of a guy like that? He is a good vice
president. He does what a vice presidents needs to do representing the
president on Capitol Hill doing it well.

KORNACKI: The one thing though is I think there was an expectation with
Biden. That he would be more lick a Dick Cheney figure in that. When they
put him on the ticket in 2008, he was 65-years-old. And I don`t think they
thought this is a guy who will spend eight years doing what like Al Gore
did, you know, trying to position himself for 2016. I think he is probably
been a surprised -- .

O`DONNELL: Presumed he wouldn`t beep.

KORNACKI: Right. He would be the elder statesman in the administration.
I think it has been a surprise to people in the White House. And this guy
really does wants to try to put his name out there in position for 2016.
It has, I think, caused tension.

O`DONNELL: Don`t ever try off to tell Joe Biden he is too old for
something. That`s a mistake.

Joy Reid and Steve Kornacki, thank you both for joining us tonight.

Coming up, Rand Paul back in the "rewrite" with more plagiarism.

And later, it is Republicans versus Chris Christie.


O`DONNELL: "The Toronto Star" has obtained what they are proudly calling
exclusive video of Toronto mayor Rob Ford who, of course, this week has
admit that he has smoked crack cocaine.


MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: No hold barred, brother. He dies or I die,
brother. Brother, you`ve never seen me (bleep) go. You think so, brother.


O`DONNELL: Upon seeing that, the mayor came out of his office today and
admitted he was a bit inebriated in the video and also said this.


FORD: This is extremely embarrassing. The whole world is going to see it
you know what I didn`t have a problem with that. It is extremely
embarrassing. I don`t know what to say.



O`DONNELL: Speaking of extremely embarrassing, Rand Paul is back in the
rewrite tonight.



SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: One of the things that disappointed me most
about original 9/11 was no one was fired. I think that ultimately with you
are leaving, you accept the culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11.
And I really mean that. Had I been president at the time and I found out
you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from
Ambassador Stephens, I would have relieved you of your post.


O`DONNELL: Rand Paul has a habit of says he would fire people he is not
empowered to fire. And sometimes he just wants to fire people without
actually knowing who he wants to fire.


PAUL: In order for government off to gain its trust back, someone needs to
be fired. Someone need to be held responsible. If it was criminal,
someone need to go to jail.


O`DONNELL: Someone was fired this week, Rand Paul was in effect fired this
week as a columnist for conservative "the Washington Times." He then
accepted an offer from the Bright partners Web site to run his column
there, the column that had been found to be right-foot plagiarism, the
column Rand Paul doesn`t actually plagiarism.

Rand Paul has publicly admitted he doesn`t write anything attributed to
him. He told the New York Times" that he simply approves what his Senate
staff writes for him. He just approves the stuff that his book writers
write for him.

Rand Paul doesn`t have to worry about being dropped by Breitbart news even
after more examples of his use of plagiarism were revealed today by
(INAUDIBLE) at Buzzfeed who has been diligently prosecuting the Rand Paul
plagiarism cases for over a week now. Breitbart News is a fringe right-
wing Web site that obviously has no problem welcoming the work of
plagiarists while "the Washington Times" is still trying to play by a more
established set of journalistic rules including the old-fashioned one about
plagiarism being intolerable.

Buzzfeed revelations today include four more cases of what is called
(INAUDIBLE) called cut and paste jobs. In the senator`s 2012 book
"Government Bullies," Senator Rand Paul employs about 17 people in his
Washington office and about another 18 people at his various Senate offices
scattered throughout the state of Kentucky.

The Senate gives Rand Paul $3 million of your taxpayer dollars a year to
cover the payroll for his staff in Washington and Kentucky. And to pay
office expenses as well as travel expenses. Rand Paul has complete hiring
and firing authority over every person on his Senate staff. He is not the
secretary of state we are talking about. Rand Paul actually controls the

Senate staff are not protected in any way by civil service rules. They can
be fired in an instant for any reason. The senator considers worthy of
firing. I have known in the past and worked with hundreds of Senate
staffers. I do not know one who would not expect to be fired instantly if
caught putting plagiarized material in a senator`s speech or in a senator`s
op-ed piece or senator`s book. I don`t know a send store who would not
immediately fire a plagiarist discovered on his or her staff, but I don`t
know Rand Paul.

We are in day 10 of the Rand Paul plagiarism scandal. And Rand Paul is
continuing to pay the plagiarists on his staff with your tax dollars. And
he has promised, he has promised "The New York Times" that he will continue
to pay the plagiarist that he`s has put on the Senate payroll with your tax
dollars. He told "the Times" that no one will be fired for the plagiarism
that he has now very clearly blamed on his staff.

Like his father before him, Rand Paul wants to be and will never be
president of the United States. The president of the United States has
executive administrative control of a $3.45 trillion budget. Rand Paul
cannot faithfully manage a $3 million budget funded with your tax dollars.
He cannot manage a work force of 17 people in Washington, D.C. He cannot
get an honest day`s work out of all 35 people on his Senate staff in
Washington and Kentucky.

Rand Paul knows who the plagiarists are on his staff. And Rand Paul has
decided he is going to continue to funnel your tax dollars to them for
their dishonest day`s work. Rand Paul has decided to continue to embarrass
the members of his staff who do deliver an honest day`s work in return for
government salary, by harboring among them, the plagiarists, who have
shamed everyone working in Rand Paul`s offices.

The most disgracefully incompetent government workers known to be working
in the United States Senate are the plagiarists on Rand Paul`s staff and
Rand Paul`s choice is to protect them and preserve their government
salaries and to never, ever, say this about them.


PAUL: Do your judgment errors, and the people who make judgment errors
need to be replaced, fired and no longer in the position of making these
judgment calls.



O`DONNELL: Those impatient Republicans are already starting to attack
Chris Christie. That`s next!



SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Well, it is important to remember every race
is particular to the state it`s run in. So, there are factors in New
Jersey that I think are individual to that race. And clearly, he was able
to speak to that and to, to the hopes and aspirations of people within New


O`DONNELL: That was Chris Christie`s Republican presidential rival, Marco
Rubio downgrading national importance of Chris Christie`s reelection

Here is how Ted Cruz responded to Chris Christie`s Tuesday night run. Cruz
said I think it is terrific he is brash, that he is outspoken and that he
won his race. But, I think we need more leaders in Washington with the
courage to stand for principle and in particular, Obamacare is not working.

That last line about Obamacare, of course, was a reference to Chris
Christie accepting the Medicaid expansion for New Jersey under the
affordable care act. Rand Paul who earlier this year had a public feud
with Chris Christie described the New Jersey governor`s reelection this

Quote," we need moderates like Chris Christie who can win in New Jersey in
our party." That is of course Rand Paul`s way of signaling to the right-
wing that Chris Christie, the moderate, is not one of us.

At a Senate committee hearing on the federal response to hurricane Sandy
yesterday, Rand Paul made a very strong point and correct point by
attacking Chris Christie for using federal disaster relief money to produce
television ad about New Jersey`s recovery that really functioned as part of
Chris Christie`s re-election campaign.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The jersey shore is open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are stronger than the storm.


PAUL: Some of these ads, people running for office put their, their mug
all over these ad while they`re in the middle of a political campaign. In
New Jersey, 25 million was spent on ad that included somebody running for
political office. You think there might be a conflict of interest there?


O`DONNELL: Rand Paul of course did not quite have the courage to actually
mention Chris Christie`s name while attacking him in the hearing. In the
new "Time" magazine cover story, Michael Scherer writes with four, five
others, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum and others battling to become
the purest on the right. Chris Christie`s goal is simply to be electable

Joining me now "Time" magazine, Washington bureau chief, Michael Scherer.

Michael, first of all, the cover, the reference to the elephant in the
room. Now, I know you don`t write the copy on the cover. But was there a
debate within "Time" magazine about can we say that about this particular
guy because of his size? Is there something wrong with using that phrase
with him?

Well there is debates over everything that goes on the cover. So yes,
there was. The reference there, sort of a triple, elephant, Republican,
the guy no one is talking about on the right, who may come in and, and, mop
up the nomination for 2016, as a moderate, being the elephant in the room.

part of it is not reference to him, just being a large guy, it`s his whole
act, which is really the subject of the story that, that I wrote for the
cover. You know, he has been campaigning in New Jersey for re-election as
if he were campaigning for president. And his message is, that I am, you
know, a -- a larger-than-life guy who is going to take it straight to
Washington. And change the way things are done. Just like I did in New

You know he talks, jokes about his size, quite often. And, and heap has
create ford himself a real character. I think and the article says could,
could take him all the way to the nomination.

O`DONNELL: Michael, there is a long list of possible 30-second attack ads
on Chris Christie`s integrity as reported in the new book "Double Down"
vetting issue that came up with Mitt Romney. But, there is also the
Medicaid expansion in New Jersey which is a policy issue where he differs
with probably all of his Republican rivals for president.

Do you expect in a flashing forward to Republican presidential primary that
his opponents would lean more on things like the Medicaid expansion than
they would on some of these vetting issues?

SCHERER: Well they, they will use both. And the vetting issues are issues
now. They`re not, not clear how, how deep they will go. The book reports
on a number of things. That weren`t resolved in t vet. They don`t say
that anything was discovered that would be disqualifying. Would Christie
run. I think the Medicaid expansion will be an issue especially for people
like Ted Cruz, but also true that a lot of Republican governors in good
standing, in Ohio, Kasich for example, who found ways to accept Medicaid
Money. So, don`t think it is disqualifying them.

I mean, the Christy bet here is that this nomination effort, should he
decide to run, will go like past nomination effort and that you will have,
basically a year and a half of griping over who is the purist conservative.
And when the voting happens especially after the first three states, the
Republican party will end up nominating the center right guy who is
probably most electable. It happened with John McCain. It happened with
Mitt Romney. It happened with George W. Bush. I mean, they all had
attacks from the right. They all had record that were imperfect. And they
were able to come out on top in the end that. And it think that`s what
Christie is looking about.

O`DONNELL: And what about the physical health issue. That is the one
thing that is very different about Chris Christie, and very visually
obvious that this is someone who is not in good health. You can`t carry
the weight that way and be in good health. That wasn`t an inhibitor on the
McCain campaign or the, or the, the Romney campaign, those campaign that
you have just described that ended up being kind of the most reasonable
seeming candidate.

SCHERER: Yes. I`m not sure that will be an issue either. He has lost a
considerable amount of weight just this year. He had lap band surgery. I
think we will continue to lose --

O`DONNELL: I got to tell you, people say that. I dent see it. I look at
him on the stage. I see the picture. I don`t see where he lost a pound.

SCHERER: No. I think you can see. If you I think you can see if you look
at pictures from a year ago and today. You will see a difference.

He says he has lost about 50 pound. But it is also worth saying though,
that in the reporting that we have and the excerpt from Halprin and Heilman
in the magazine, you know, there wasn`t, the win was at the health issued
were raised. But you know there was nothing found there that was

And so, I am not sure there will be. Health comes up. Came up with John
McCain. It will be dealt with in the campaign, at some point, Christie
will have to release medical record showing exactly what kind of health he
is in. You know if he is in -- itch f he is in dire straits, I doubt he
will have endurance to make it through the campaign. I don`t see, use now.

O`DONNELL: Michael Sherer of "time" magazine, thank you very much for
joining us

SCHERER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.

York. I`m Chris Hayes.

An NBC News exclusive tonight. President Obama sat down with our own Chuck
Todd for a lengthy interview to discuss the maelstrom of criticism over the
rollout of the health care Web site. In particular, the president
addressed his repeated promise throughout the health care reform battle
that people would be able to keep their existing plans.


TODD: And some of those people like those policies and they can`t keep it.
What happen?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I meant what I said and we worked hard to try
to make sure that we implemented it properly. But obviously, we didn`t do
a good enough job. And I regret that.

We are talking about five percent of the populations.



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