The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 10/08/15

Matt Lewis, Eugene Robinson, Norman Ornstein, Chris Van Hollen, Howard Dean; Eugene Robinson; Kaitlin Roig-Debellis; Molly Ball

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: And that does it for us tonight, we will see you
again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD, Ari Melber sitting in for
Lawrence tonight.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC: Conservative house Republicans who made the job of
speaker very hard for John Boehner now making John Boehner look like he
might not have been so bad after all.


KEVIN MCCARTHY, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: I think I shocked some of you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McCarthy got up and announced he was pulling himself
out of the race for speaker of the house.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Absolutely stunned. Did not see that

TRUMP ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS: And they`re giving me a lot of credit for

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: They want the Tea Party people to agree on the next

MCCARTHY: For us to unite, we probably need a fresh face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throws the house GOP conference into total disarray –

TRUMP: It`s bedlam in Washington right now. Bedlam.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: And unfortunately he`s accurate this time,
except he`s really not funny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A substantial part of the Republican Party literally
does not understand the importance of governance.

MATTHEWS: If you have a political resume, it`s a rap sheet.

REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The next speaker should not appease
this group of rejectionist –

KING: And we can`t allow a small minority to be hijacking the party and
blackmailing the Congress.

TRUMP: There`s nothing wrong with the Republicans taking a tough stance
and sticking with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But now, who emerges from this dumpster fire right now?
I don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don`t you have an outsider come in? Bill O`Reilly,
for example.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: I know, I don`t want to be speaker of the house.
I got –


O`REILLY: My own house to take care of and –


O`REILLY: It`s chaos –


There, believe me.

MATTHEWS: This is big trouble for the Republican Party.


MELBER: Good evening to you, I`m Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.
John Boehner has been called the least effective house speaker of all time
by his critics and by members of his own party.

But today, many are asking compared to what? Today, the big news, Boehner`s
number two, Majority leader Kevin McCarthy shocked the House Republican
Conference by dropping out of the race for speaker.

He had reportedly had as many as 200 votes, that`s 80 percent of the 247
Republicans in the house, but that wasn`t enough for house Republicans.

As McCarthy explained in an interview today with the “National Review”.
The House Freedom Caucus whose members he would of course need to get all
up to over the 218 on the house floor said, he says, “they wanted things I
couldn`t deliver.”

And McCarthy realized, “I wouldn`t have enjoyed being speaker this way.”
Asked if the house is governable, he also tells those interviewers, “I
don`t know, sometimes you have to hit rock bottom.”

Well, governing with a super majority is not supposed to be as hard as
kicking addiction. There are only 42 house Republicans in that Freedom
Caucus including Republicans who voted against the debt ceiling agreement
with John Boehner and Eric Cantor; the one they brokered in 2011.

That move of course endangered the full faith and credit of the United
States. That group also includes people who voted against the 2012 fiscal
cliff agreement which actually halted a tax increase on middle class

And you may remember, it includes people who opposed re-opening the
government at all after Ted Cruz`s failed shutdown in 2013.

Now, that is why some Republicans began warning today about who exactly
they`re dealing with.


DENT: Whoever is going to be the next speaker should not appease this
group of rejectionists, you know, who have no interest in governing.

They can simply not get to yes, the perfect will always be the enemy of the
good to them.


MELBER: That governing, specifically, will mean raising the debt ceiling
by a deadline of November 5th and funding the federal government again by
December 10th.

Let`s get right to it. We have Eugene Robinson from “The Washington Post”
and an Msnbc analyst Norm Ornstein, a Congressional expert and resident
over at AEI and the co-author of “It`s Even Worse Than It Looks”, that may
be extra true today.

Also with us, Matt Lewis, a senior contributor for “The Daily Caller” and a
columnist for “The Week”. Matt, as the resident conservative writer here,
what just happened?

shocking, earth shattering actually, unbelievable.

And I was just talking to one source who said Paul Ryan is now like Obi-Wan
Kenobi, you know – help us, Paul Ryan, you`re our last hope. Kind of went
rut –

MELBER: I`m pretty sure the line from “Star Wars” is you`re our only hope,
Obi-Wan –

LEWIS: Yes –

MELBER: Well, Eugene –

LEWIS: That`s right –

MELBER: Gene Robinson, take the “Star Wars” metaphor or just take us
through what went down because as usual, a lot of the conventional wisdom
in Washington was wrong.

The discussion –


MELBER: Of Chaffetz and other challengers was that`s a side show. Well,
now that or someone else is the main show.

ROBINSON: Yes – no, just look, this Freedom Caucus inside the larger
Republican caucus is serious about what it wants to do or not do, and it
has been all along.

And so, you know, in retrospect with the, you know, perspective of four or
five hours, it should not have been a surprise that they would balk at
having another speaker who was essentially John Boehner Junior.

Who had been part of the – of the – of the leadership before, who had led
them to these agreements that were necessary for the governance of the
United States, but that they reject.

This is a problem the Republican Party created for itself and is going to
have to figure it out.

MELBER: Yes, Norm Ornstein, take a listen to what Congressman Peter King;
a Republican, but one from New York, so he`s not considered obviously part
of the more extreme Tea Party groups.

But take a listen to what he said about the serious constitutional nature
of the vacancy now at the helm of the party.


KING: The speaker is second in line to be president of the United States.
And we have to get this resolved as quickly as possible.

And we can`t allow a small minority in our party to be hijack in the party
and blackmailing the Congress.

If John have to step – if John Boehner have to step down and then Kevin
McCarthy currently not being able to run because 30 people said they`re
going to withhold their votes.

This goes against basic rules of a representative democracy.



ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: You know, I would use another “Star Wars” analogy,
actually, Ari. It`s the bar scene, which is what the conference reminds me


But you know, one of the problems here, Charlie Dent, Peter King have been
talking about maybe we`ve got to move in a different direction and develop
a broader strategy, alliance with Democrats.

The problem is that today`s house Republicans, if you took the moderate
caucus, they could meet together in Charlie Dent`s hot tub.

There are not enough of them. If you go back to the late 1990s, we had a
similar situation. The shocking departure of Bob Livingston –

MELBER: Sure –

ORNSTEIN: On the verge of taking over the speakership, and what happened?
They immediately settled on somebody in the hierarchy, Denny Hastert and
everybody rallied behind him.

It tells you the trajectory of the party that today you just don`t see
something like that happening. And if we may see John Boehner stay for a
while and maybe do some grand bargain that takes a lot of these issues off
the table.

In the absence of that, I think we`re headed for a substantial period of
drift or maybe anarchy.

And more than likely, if we get to a speaker, it`s going to be somebody
very significantly more intransigent on a lot of these issues than John
Boehner or than even Kevin McCarthy would have been.

MELBER: Well, and Gene Robinson, that goes to – I think Norm is also
putting his finger on a political point here.

Which is in the old days, I really think throughout most of the American
history, if you were a young, broadly popular Congressman and your party
said hey, we want you to be our consensus candidate for speaker, that`s a
big promotion.

And yet people like Paul Ryan don`t see that as –


MELBER: A political path according to his public statements today.

ROBINSON: Right, yes, and why would Paul Ryan want that job? That`s the
worst job in Washington. That`s one of the worst jobs in the United States
right now.

It`s – because, you know, as John Boehner is fond of saying, the leader
without followers is just a man taking a walk. And that`s a position he
found himself in.

And that`s where Paul Ryan would be, too. Paul Ryan is interested in
governing the United States of America and passing legislation and doing
things that Congressmen and women do.

And this caucus is not interested in it. So he either breaks the Hastert
rule and forms coalitions with Democrats, which will eventually cost him
the speakership or he does nothing.

I mean, it`s a – it`s a terrible situation to be in.

MELBER: Yes, I mean, and Matt Lewis, again, looking to you from the
conservative perspective, there is a view in modern conservatism that the
federal government should be reformed and deregulated in a way that
involves activity, right?

I mean, when Rick Perry gets somebody to – agencies, we need to eliminate
departments, that takes Congress holding hearings, passing those laws. And
so, we`ve heard this in the terms of do more or do less, right?

But really it`s about status quo versus action, and you`ve got more
Republicans now saying, hey, if we can`t run our own shop, then we`re stuck
with status quo and we`re going to come into 2016 with a super majority
that`s stuck by the status quo.

Which is both a failure of what they ran on last time and may hurt them in
the presidential. Take a listen, that`s my summation of it, it`s not only
my opinion.

Take a listen to Congressman David Jolly, a Republican who wasn`t even for
McCarthy but who raises that concern.


REP. DAVID JOLLY (R), FLORIDA: We`ve gone from the do-nothing Congress to
the try-nothing Congress.

I would like to be part of a Congress that actually legislates and tackles
hard issues at the risks of losing re-election as opposed to choosing the
do nothing, simply to save our own political careers.

I have no interest in being part of a Congress that does nothing. We`re
not even trying on these hard issues right now. Think about it. The issue
of border security, transportation, taxes, budget, we`re not doing them and
we`re not doing it because it`s a calculated, deliberate decision by
leaders who want to get through the next election as opposed to legislating



LEWIS: Yes, well, I think there`s a populist moment happening right now,
and there`s a lot of anger and frustration on both sides of the aisle.

And it`s manifesting in things like Donald Trump and in – and I think the
– some of what`s happening in the house right now. You know, there`s a
coincidence tonight, actually.

Paul Ryan was supposed to be at a book party, Mort Kondracke and Fred
Barnes have a book out about Jack Kemp; who was Paul Ryan`s mentor –

MELBER: Sure –

LEWIS: Or one of his mentors. And obviously, Paul Ryan did not make it to


LEWIS: To that book party. But I think that`s really telling, you know,
Jack Kemp was a hardcore conservative, but somebody who had big ideas,
things like opportunity zones, things like the Laffer curve that he
introduced Ronald Reagan to; supply side of economics.

I mean, like it or not, those were bold ideas and he believed in governing
in Congress and when was a very effective Congressman.

I think that, you know, some of the members – Republican members today
might want to look at Jack Kemp as a model and Paul Ryan if he is to be
speaker will have Jack Kemp on his shoulder, I think.

MELBER: Well, and Norm, doesn`t that go to the question of it, what point
does the backlash merit its own backlash for Republicans?

ORNSTEIN: Oh, of course it does. But you know, keep in mind, Ari, that on
the presidential campaign side, you have John Kasich who (AUDIO GAP
00:01:54-56) –

MELBER: Think Norm – did we lose Norm? Do we have anyone else? Anyone
want to pick up where Norm left off, Eugene?

ROBINSON: Well, I wouldn`t presume to try to pick up for Norm, I would
point out, however, one thing, which is that you don`t have to be an
elected member of Congress to be speaker of the house.

The speaker of the house could be anybody. So maybe – and this is really
getting into sort of, you know, bad Washington novel terrain –

MELBER: Bing it –

ROBINSON: But maybe –

MELBER: Bring it Gene –

ROBINSON: No, maybe you look way outside to some Republican elder
statesman or some figure held in higher – high esteem to sort of preside
over the house for a little while until they can get their act together.

That`s a possibility, it probably won`t happen, but it`s a possibility.

MELBER: Right, Speaker Ben Carson who would satisfy the base? –

ROBINSON: Yes, that`s not quite –

MELBER: Is that what you`re looking for?

ROBINSON: That`s not going to happen, no, I can confidently predict that`s
not going to happen.

MELBER: I want to thank Norm Ornstein who we lost – I promise, it wasn`t
that he was about to say something that we had to cut off, it was – it was
not censorship, we lost the satellite.

And I want to thank of course, Matt Lewis and Eugene Robinson who is going
to stick with us.

Coming up, Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen will be here to talk
about this Republican chaos in the House of Representatives.

Also Donald Trump as we mentioned, he started to take credit for McCarthy
dropping out of the race, what does that mean?

Also, later, U.S. ruling out any serious partnership with Russia in Syria
as Russia builds up those ground forces, stay with us.



TRUMP: Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m from Colombia –

TRUMP: Colombia!



TRUMP: And this a setup? Did I ever meet you before?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am Hispanic and I vote for Mr. Trump! We vote for
Mr. Trump! Yes! Mr. Trump! We love you! We love you! All the way to the
White House!

TRUMP: I swear to you, I think she`s totally beautiful and great. I never
met her before, I swear.


MELBER: That happened and it wasn`t the only interesting thing that was
said at Donald Trump`s campaign rally in Vegas today, Donald, I`m not a

Trump also telling the crowd what he thinks of McCarthy dropping out of the
race to be speaker of the house, that`s coming up.


MELBER: Republicans failed to pick their speaker based on Republican votes
today, and one of them now saying maybe they should try again with help
from Democrats.


DENT: The challenge for our conference is quite simple, and that we need
to assemble bipartisan coalitions to pass any important legislation around

We may have to assemble a bipartisan coalition to elect the next speaker of
the House of Representatives.


MELBER: That was Republican Congressman Charlie Dent reflecting optimism
or maybe desperation.

Joining us now to explain, Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of
Maryland, a ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

Congressman, I put the question to you, which is it for Republicans here,
talking about working with your party to get this done. Is it optimistic
or is it desperate?

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Well, Ari, I`m afraid it`s desperate.
It`s a bit of a hail Mary pass – look, if someone wants to give us a call
we`re obviously willing to listen.

But – and the problem we`ve got here for the country is that this
dysfunction in the Republican caucus poses serious risks to our governance
going forward.

It`s taking a bad situation, making it worse. We`ve got a lot of big
issues, threats of government shutdowns in a few months, dealing with the
debt ceiling.

And so, this chaos is creating even more instability and uncertainty that
will hurt the economy.

MELBER: Well, Congressman, you`re saying you`re willing to listen. As you
well know, you`ve been through these fights, you`ve talked about a more
responsible approach to budgeting.

But I want to read from something in the hill back in March where we have
“Democrats from across an ideological spectrum say they`d rather see
Boehner remain at atop of the house than replace him with a more
conservative speaker.”

You may remember this, who they said would almost certainly be less willing
to reach across the aisle. That was a working plan or theory at one point.

Are you saying here tonight that you would work with the Republicans here
on a – on a bipartisan speaker vote?

VAN HOLLEN: What I`m saying is we stand ready to work with Republicans on
a bipartisan basis to address the budget issues and the other issues that
we had hoped to work with Speaker Boehner on.

And one of the things I really hope, Ari, in these coming weeks as the
Republicans work through this chaos in their caucus.

I do believe that Speaker Boehner has a responsibility to the country to
make sure that whoever is the next speaker is not left with a huge mess.

And so there`s a big pile of stuff that we could do over the coming weeks
if Speaker Boehner was willing to step up and do it.

Because the problem as you know is, it`s the tea party extremists who have
been empowered through his departure.

And the problem they`re having is they`ve got a group of tea party members
who don`t have the votes to elect the speaker they want.

But constantly threaten to overturn any speaker that they don`t like if
they don`t get their way a 100 percent.

MELBER: So let`s dig in – and let`s dig in on that. I want to play
McCarthy here speaking very recently to Jake Tapper about whether he had
the votes. Take a listen.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Speaking of votes, do you have the votes? Will you be
the next speaker, have you locked it up?

MCCARTHY: I feel very good about where I`m at.

TAPPER: That sounds like a yes that you have the votes.

MCCARTHY: I feel very good where I`m at.


MELBER: He was feeling a lot better then than he is today. But unpack
this 218 number here, right? Because he had a majority of his caucus and he
could have worked with Democrats if he wanted.

The point we`re driving at here to get this done, it`s almost as if he
would rather not get the job than do it on a bipartisan basis.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, that does seem to be the conclusion. Look, I don`t know
all the reasons Kevin McCarthy decided to withdraw. One of them clearly
was a fear that he couldn`t get majority of the votes on the – on the
floor of the house.

But as you just pointed out, no Republicans have reached out to Democrats,
whether it relates to this election for speaker or on these big issues that
we`re confronting right now.

So, the best way to perceive would be for them to get their act together,
get a speaker who is willing to work with Democrats.

But the problem in the caucus right now in that Republican caucus is that
those people who don`t want to talk to Democrats and address these
important issues are the ones who are more emboldened than ever.

So that`s why I say, Ari, it`s really important that Speaker Boehner use
his remaining time to at least address the huge issues that are before us -

MELBER: Sure –

VAN HOLLEN: Right now.

MELBER: But I mean, on the news of the day here, is this what victory
looks like to the freedom caucus?

VAN HOLLEN: And well, this is – this is the dilemma. Never in my
experience in recent history have you seen a faction of one party – in
this case, the extreme tea party faction.

Saying that if they don`t get their way, you know, within their caucus,
they`re going to shut down the entire Congress and threaten to shut down
the entire country if they don`t get a 100 percent of what they want.

And so that`s why it`s such a dangerous situation for the country and with
respect to governance right now. And that`s why I want to emphasize that
it`s important for the speaker to step up.

I just introduced today the Preventing Government Shutdown Act so that come
December we`re not left in the lurch once again.

But as you know, this is a chaotic situation. You know, we just got word
that a budget committee that – session that we had scheduled for tomorrow
has been postponed to later of the day because they`re going to have a
caucus meeting to try and figure out what the next step is.

MELBER: Right, and – I can see the draft legislation you put out which
had sort of a plan B, so, in the event of emergency, there wouldn`t be a
shutdown and there would be a dicing of some of this sequester cuts which
is interesting.

Congressman Chris Van Hollen, thanks for talking to us tonight.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you, good to be with you.

MELBER: And coming up, why Donald Trump thinks he is actually responsible
for McCarthy dropping out of the race for speaker of the house.



TRUMP: Kevin McCarthy is out, you know that, right?


And they`re giving me a lot of credit for that because I said you really
need somebody very tough and very smart. We need smart, we need tough, we
need the whole package.

And it`s a positive. It`s bedlam in Washington right now. Bedlam. It`s a
mess. I`ve never seen anything like it.


MELBER: They`re giving him a lot of credit, who are they? That is Donald
Trump there trying to take credit for Kevin McCarthy`s decision to drop out
of that race for speaker.

Some questioning whether Trump actually took a stance early enough to
matter or whether he was just trying to ride the new cycle today minutes
after the news broke.

In fact, Donald Trump tweeted: “Great, Kevin McCarthy drops out of the
speaker race, we need a really smart and really tough person to take over
this very important job.”

Other Republican presidential candidates also welcoming the change and
calling for an outsider to take over.

Jeb Bush praised Florida representative Daniel Webster who does have the
backing of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.


JEB BUSH, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I think Kevin McCarthy was a – was a -
- was a good person and a good man. I`m surprised he dropped out.

I don`t follow that carefully, I`m not going to interject myself into a
political vote inside the house caucus. Dan Webster is one of the – one
of my closest friends in the political process.

He is a principled-centered guy, you will never meet his – someone with
the integrity of Dan Webster.

There will be others that might emerge as well, I just hope that they stay
focused on making sure that people know they`re trying to solve problems
for people.


MELBER: And Senator Rand Paul sees Kevin McCarthy`s decision as a win for
conservatives in a sign of where the Republican Party is headed.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The grassroots and conservatives across the
country are unhappy with Congress because they don`t think that a
Republican-controlled house and a Republican-controlled Senate are doing
enough to exert the power of the purse or push back against the president.

And I think that`s what this represents. Is that people in the house are
saying enough is enough, we want something new.


MELBER: Joining us now is Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and
former chairman of the DNC, also an Msnbc political analyst.

Plus, Molly Ball from “The Atlantic”. And back with us, Gene Robinson from
“The Washington Post”, hello, everybody. Howard dean –


MELBER: This is ultimately a contest to be the nominee and be the most
important Republican. So, you – what do you make of these different
reactions to this on the – on the campaign trail?

DEAN: Why am I not surprised that Donald Trump trying to take credit for
all of this. The next thing I thought he was going to say, we need
somebody really tough and really smart, so I`ll do it.

I was waiting for that, but evidently –

MELBER: Constitutionally he can as we –

DEAN: Right –

MELBER: Discuss that –

DEAN: That`s right, that`s right. You know, this is spectacular political
year for those of us who are used to the process. I don`t think I`ve ever
seen anything like this before –


DEAN: I mean, you really do have complete chaos in both the nominating
process for the Republicans and in the house, which is really surprising.

MELBER: I mean, let me bring in Molly and play a little of Ben Carson
because it is interesting watching within the disruption an attempt by
people who all want to say they`re not Washington dance around this story.
Here`s Carson.


BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I say kudos to Representative
McCarthy for putting others before himself. This is not something that we
see very often in Washington. And I hope it is a trait that will be
emulated by others as time goes on, because, you know, we have a lot of
problems that have to be solved and none of us should put ourselves ahead
of those problems.


MELBER: That`s fine, Molly, but at a certain point, do you feel like all
of this talk and nobody is using the power and influence they have on the
Republican side to put forward an alternative name?

MOLLY BALL, THE ATLANTIC: Well, the question is, who is there who could do
it, who wants to do it, right? I mean, the question about John Boehner was
always whether he was just bad at his job or whether his job was actually
impossible. And there`s always this theory that maybe hypothetically,
somebody could do a better job. But if there`s nobody who could actually
get the votes and there is nobody who actually wants to do it, then that`s
tough to do.

You know, there`s rumors flying. I just spoke to a house Republican member
who said there`s actually a group of members trying to draft Newt Gingrich
to do it. Paul Ryan is –

MELBER: You are not serious.

BALL: This is actually happening, apparently. This could be a rumor.
It`s just something one member told me.

MELBER: You`re saying – I want to be clear, you`re saying you spoke to a
current member of the house Republican caucus who said this?

BALL: Who said that this is something that somebody else is doing, not
that this particular member is doing. You know, there is word that Paul
Ryan is reconsidering. There`s a lot of other people considering it.
Maybe putting their hats in the ring. But it`s a chaotic situation. It`s
an unexpected situation. And, you know, as Howard said, we don`t know how
this is going to play out. It`s very unusual. And it`s the same chaos in
the presidential race. It is the chaos in the presidential race. The same
divisions as the division we are seeing in the house.

MELBER: But Gene, it may be very early in the sense that a lot of voters
obviously aren`t quite following the presidential race yet. But I do think
of in the general election when you had the financial crisis and you had
this live action test of the reaction of candidates, and many folks felt
that John McCain had a very political stunt reaction saying I`m going to
suspend my campaign, but I don`t actually have something to do. You know,
suspend and no action. And people – some people felt that then senator
Obama was more measured and detailed about what he wanted to do. Is this a
test point for people who want the lead the Republican party but have no
specifics about this most important test facing it?

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: Well, if it is, it looks like they`re
all going to fail, right, because they`re not coming up with a solution for
this. This is all part of the same intraparty food fight that the
Republicans are having. So in a sense, you know, Donald Trump did not
cause this, but Donald Trump`s ascension is part of the same schism inside
of the party that is – and I don`t know how this gets worked out, I really

You know, the Republicans created this big and unruly tent. They invited
in the tea party members, they cultivated them. They said we`re going to
do all this stuff. And, of course, the stuff they said they were going to
do was impossible. Like repeal Obamacare over a presidential veto, et
cetera, et cetera.

And so people get angry and disillusioned and dig in. And it doesn`t seem
to be a clear end to this.

scenarios. You`re not going to get a Paul Ryan to take this job because
it`s a career ender. As Molly said, this is – the reason that Boehner
failed is not just because Boehner is not that strong of a leader, it`s
because it is an impossible job given the intransience in the tea party.
So there are two possibilities. One, you do bring in an outsider who is a
care taker. If I knew that is actually not a crazy idea.

One, he did work with Clinton to get stuff done. So he gets that. Two,
he`s got nothing to lose. I mean, he is not in politics. I don`t think he
has further ambitions. And three, he actually knows the job. So that`s
not a crazy idea.

And the third idea is that you put somebody from the tea party from the
chair and let them see if they can govern the house. And guess what,
they`re going to fall on their face. I personally wouldn`t – this is a
terrible idea for the country, but then the Republican Party would clearly
blow themselves up, because they would find that either they were passing
stuff that was completely insane, or they couldn`t pass anything at all.

MELBER: Well, yes. I mean, to that point, Molly, I mean, the reason why
some people would say Gingrich is a wild idea is that he ultimately was
part of impeachment driving Republicans –

DEAN: That`s true, but –

BALL: Well, in fact, the last time we saw this kind of chaos was when
Gingrich stepped down and there were scandals and confusion and all of

MELBER: But Molly, to point also to Howard`s second point. OK, fine,
after all this, let the tea party run it. I guess Chaffetz from Utah would
be positioning himself as that kind of figure, right?

BALL: Sort of. I mean, he hasn`t positioned himself explicitly - is it,
you know, you notice the freedom caucus didn`t endorse Chaffetz. They
endorsed Webster. So it is not necessarily the case that Chaffetz would
have the support of the tea party. He has sort of a mixed record on some
of their stuff. And you know, I think the problem with the Republican
caucus has always been that these freedom caucus guys, tea party guys,
whatever you want to call them, are a minority. The majority of the caucus
doesn`t want that. So I have trouble seeing a majority of the caucus
elevating someone who they see as fringe and they see as bad for the
Republican brand.

MELBER: And the point of Ryan and less than a Boehner is you could
literally be technically the most powerful Republican and you still lose
out to these guys. So everyone else who`s rank and file doesn`t want to be
the point edge of that spear. We have some new sound from Paul Ryan.
Let`s listen to that.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: My statement stands. I haven`t change
anything. And I`m just –


RYAN: I have nothing to add right now.


MELBER: Gene Robinson, you`re an expert. Do you want to decode that?

ROBINSON: Well, there`s going to be enormous pressure on Paul Ryan. He
was a vice presidential candidate. He`s sort of a figure of stature in the
house. People immediately mentioned his name when this happened today. So
apparently John Boehner approached him. McCarthy wants him to be the new
speaker. This is going to be a lot of pressure.

However, as Howard said, it is a career ender, this job. Because even if
you get the tea party caucus endorsement, guess what? You can`t keep it
because you can`t do what they want.

MELBER: And that`s a question for folks who talk a lot about public
service. How does Paul Ryan respond in the coming days to the idea that
this would be service, not just ambition? It is an interesting pick he may

And Molly Ball, thank you for joining us. The rest of the panel, stays.

We`re going to move to some other subjects. Coming up, Ben Carson
defending Rupert Murdoch in his controversial tweet over, quote, “a real
black president,” end quote.

And first, another important story we`re watching tonight. The escalating
crisis in Syria. What can the U.S. do?


MELBER: Russian warships launch cruise missiles during a major ground
offensive. Twenty-six missiles fired from almost a thousand miles way.
They are targeting ISIS strongholds and rebel forces who oppose Syrian
president Bashar al-Assad. However, senior U.S. defense officials saying
four of those missiles, well, they fell short of their targets and landed
in Iran. The Russian ministry of defense reportedly denying that claim and
another big concern for U.S. officials is that Russia did not notify the
U.S. or coalition forces of this plan ahead of time.

And here is the problem. You can see those missiles launched from the
Caspian Sea so they have to fly through Iraqi and Syrian air space where
the U.S.-led coalition is conducting air strikes. Yesterday, the Pentagon
announced U.S. aircraft flying over Syria were rerouted at least one time
in order to keep a safe distance from this Russian aircraft. And here`s
how Senator John McCain thinks we should respond to Russia. He was on MTP
Daily (ph).


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We need to first of all tell the Russians
we`re going to fly wherever we want to and however we want to. Then we
have to take the offense in this respect rather than keep reacting to
Russian and Syrian behavior. We have to establish the no-fly zones, a
sanctuary for the refugees, stop the barrel bombing. We are trained and
have trained thousands of young Syrians, sent them into Syria. And now
we`re watching them being attacked by Russian aircraft and killed and
maimed. This is immoral. It`s not only wrong, but it`s immoral.


MELBER: Howard Dean and Gene Robinson back with us.

Gene, as you know, a lot of this is complicated, but one aspect is pretty
clear. Russia has been a quiet friend to Assad for a long time. They are
militarily becoming a louder fiend because at this point Assad controls a
minority of territory in this country. There is a concern on Russia`s part
that this government could fall.

ROBINSON: Yes. And Russia is not going to let that happen. I mean, does
not want the regime to fall. I don`t think Putin is, you know, bosom
buddies with Bashar, right? I don`t think – but Bashar al-Assad
represents the Syrian state has it`s existed since Assad`s father was in
offense. The Russians have a naval base in Syria. It`s in that sense a
close relationship. It`s one that Russia wants to keep and therefore
they`re going to prop up the Syrian state. And they can do it. I mean,
Assad still has a military force and with Russian backing, he can fight off
the rebels, I think.

MELBER: And you know, as you`re speaking, on the screen, we are showing
some of the footage that is from the Russian ministry, that is to say,
Howard, this is also part of their messaging or propaganda, whatever word
you want to use.

I want to play defense secretary Ash Carter talking about the fact that if
this gets real and stays real, then Russia is going to pay its price. Take
a listen.


ASHTON CARTER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: They have initiated a joint ground
offensive with the Syrian regime, shattering the facade that they`re there
to fight ISIL. This will have consequences for Russia itself which is
rightfully fearful of attack upon Russia. And I also expect that in the
coming days the Russians will begin to suffer casualties in Syria.


MELBER: Governor?

DEAN: This is the first time in a very long time, having anything to do
with the Middle East that I agreed with John McCain. In order to solve the
refugee problem in Europe, we have to have a safe haven and it has to be in
Syria. And we need a no-fly zone. Hillary Clinton is right and the
president is wrong about this. I`m not for blustering with the Russians.
I think we just have to tell the Russians this is what we`re doing. It
worked in Iraq for a long time George H. W. Bush had a no-fly zone over the
Kurds. It allowed them to develop a society which has turned out to be the
best fighting force in that region, other than the Turkish army which
hasn`t got us engaged.

MELBER: As you know, the counterargument to that, Governor, is that
creates a box we`re trying to put Russia in as they will view as escalation
and that we may have to patrol.

DEAN: Yes. But you know what. Ari? The Russians – this comes from Harry
Truman`s years. The Russians only understand one thing, how many divisions
do you have? I`m not advocating getting into a war with Russia, but we`re
going to get beat in the Ukraine, we`re going to get beat in Georgia and
we`re going to get beat in Syria unless we`re willing to confront the

I don`t believe unless we`re really hostile to the Russians that they`re
going to attack the United States, any country with a significant number of
United States troops in it. And I think that`s what we`re going to have to
do. I` not interested in fighting the Russians. I am interested in
deterring their very aggressive behavior, because we always end up paying
for that in the long run if we don`t deter. If we deter early, it`s a lot
cheaper in terms of lives and money than it is if you wait.

MELBER: And Gene, as you know, though, if you talk to folks in this Obama
administration, they say it`s a lot harder than it looks. And they have to
be slow and incremental on every aspect of this terrible crisis in Syria.

ROBINSON: Yes. They`ve been very solid, very incremental. And there are
reasons for that. I mean, you know, Syria is a problem from hell. It is a
multisided civil war. It has been very, very difficult to find allies who
we believe share our values and our goals who to train and to arm and to
send into this battle. It has not been easy. It`s not going to be easy
now. I understand Howard Dean`s sentiment that we need to do something.
I`m not sure what, however.

MELBER: Right. Well, it is not something we`re solving right here, but a
lot of folks keeping an eye on this as it does escalate with the Russian
air involvement.

Gene Robinson and Howard Dean, thank you both.

DEAN: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Next up, something a little different, news executive Rupert
Murdoch trying to boost Ben Carson by lashing out at President Obama and he
ends up with a lot of explaining to do.


MELBER: Now to something completely different, news executive Rupert
Murdoch attempting to talk about blackness. Murdoch, an Australian-born
American citizen with plenty of experience in American politics shows he is
still struggling to figure out how to address race in America even when
he`s trying to praise Ben Carson. This all began Wednesday night when
Murdoch went online to plug a FOX News interview with Dr. Carson, the
presidential candidate, as well as his wife. Here`s what Murdoch wrote on

Quote, “Ben and Candy Carson, terrific. What about a real black president
who can properly address the racial divide and much else?” end quote.

Five minutes later, he retweeted read “New York magazine for minority
disappointment with POTUS”, end quote.

Now, there is certainly a legitimate public debate over how President Obama
governs on civil rights or urban policy. It`s what you can see within in
and beyond minority communities in the U.S., but you can be sure you will
not get that kind of debate if it begins by questioning who, in Murdoch`s
words is, quote, “a real black president,” end quote.

Now faced with this huge backlash, you can imagine Murdoch weighed in today
and he said quote “apologies. No offense meant. Personally fine both men
charming,” end quote. And in a twitter gift that Ben Carson probably
didn`t really want, now he is being asked about all this and he replied


BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know Rupert Murdoch. He`s not a
racist by any stretch of the imagination. He`s just expressing his
opinion. I think it`s much ado about nothing. I believe what he was
making reference to was the fact that here was a man who, as a black
president, that the black community was very excited about, who came in and
whose policies have not really elevated the black community.

black president?

CARSON: Well, he`s the president and he`s black.


MELBER: Yes. And maybe that last part of the answer is something everyone
can agree on. End of story.

Now coming up, the Sandy Hook massacre survivor responding to a different
issue today. Ben Carson`s new comments about guns and mass shootings in


MELBER: Up next, the teacher whose classroom who was next door of the
massacre in the Sandy Hook shooting, she was able to save the lives of all
her students. I will ask her about ben Carson`s latest comments on last
week`s shooting in Oregon.



SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: I left my 7-year-old this morning as
he headed to first grade. As he headed to first grade, 7-year-olds
populating a classroom not unlike those who walked into a quiet school in
Newtown, Connecticut. The kids in Oregon aren`t safe, and kids in a small
town in Connecticut aren`t safe, then my son isn`t safe either.

This is personal for all of us. And it`s why we are all committed to make
sure that even during this moment of political absence on Capitol Hill we
don`t lie down.


MELBER: That was Connecticut senator Chris Murphy at a press conference
today where he and other Senate Democrats outlined another plan to reduce
gun violence. Those reforms would include strengthening the background
checks system, banning straw purchases as well as tougher gun restrictions
on domestic abusers. Two years ago a similar plan introduced after a
massacre in Newtown, Connecticut failed to pass the Senate.

Tomorrow also, the president will visit Roseburg, Oregon where he will meet
with victims and families of those murdered in Umpqua Community College and
that horrific shooting last week.

Now, Kaitlin Roig-Debellis knows all too well the pain of survivors of last
week`s shooting what they might be feeling right now. On December 14th,
2012, she hid herself and her class of 15 first graders in a tiny bathroom
as six of her co-workers and 20 first graders were gunned down that day.
We all remember that day at Sandy Hook elementary. She has a new book
“Choosing Hope” where she writes about her darkest hour.

Quote “we`ll squeezed together like fingers a tight fist. My kids want out
of this sweltering sealed-up box we were in. I can`t bear to think that
their last moments will be spent this way. In fear, I must reassure them
even though I don`t believe my own words. It`s going to be OK. We`re
going to be OK, I say.”

Joining us now is Kaitlin Roig-Debellis. Thank you for joining us.


MELBER: First of all, as we see this play out again and again and many
have spoken including of course the president about how these things that
are horrific, that are each individual mass murder for the country for
people far away from them, can become routine. I wonder if we could start
by just you sharing your thoughts of what you took from the most recent
shooting there.

ROIG-DEBELLIS: Well, first my prayers and my thoughts go out to their
entire community, to the victims, to those who knew and loved them.
Unfortunately, it`s a pain that I know all too well. I am so grateful that
in our country we are having the conversations about gun sense, about gun
safety, about trying to make our community safer because it is crucial and
it needs to be discussed.

MELBER: You look at that and you look at the discussion and some of it
doesn`t feel that enlightening. Dr. Ben Carson talking about this. I`m
going to play what he said to get your response here on CNN today.


CARSON: So whether it`s a kindergarten teacher who was well trained or a
retired policeman or someone who can stop the carnage. I think that makes
a lot of sense.

BLITZER: So you`re recommending, and you correct me if I`m wrong,
elementary schools have guards, armed guards, or at least the teachers be

CARSON: I am saying that they should have some mechanism whereby they can
defend themselves.


MELBER: Your view of that argument when you`ve lived through this as you
were with so many students in a bathroom?

ROIG-DEBELLIS: I`m a teacher. My training is in elementary education. I
have my masters and two honorary doctorates in that. That is my expertise.
That is what I know how to do. That is my responsibility. As a teacher, I
would not want my responsibility to be to carry a gun or know how to use

MELBER: And so you don`t think that`s – from your experience in the
classroom, you don`t think that`s necessarily the way we should go or a
viable response?

ROIG-DEBELLIS: Well, it`s my opinion, I wouldn`t want that responsibility,
you know. My best interest is my students, the children in my care.

MELBER: Tell us about where you`ve gone from here. Because one of the
criticisms of the way the political process works and the media to some
degree is a lot of attention on these things and then everyone just moves
on. From what you did that day and what you lived through to the
organization you founded to, I believe, meeting the president. What are
you doing to continue to, who on the issue?

ROIG-DEBELLIS: There is no moving on. December 14th, 2012 is a part of me
every single day and it always will be. There is always moving forward,
though. And moving forward with purpose and doing what we can to make sure
that kids are safe and successful. And the way that I feel my expertise, I
can do that, is making sure that kids know how to care about one another,
how to be kind, how to empathize with the needs of one another, to
understand that our lives are all absolutely connected, to make sure that
we are feeling a whole part of a class, a community.

MELBER: What would you like to see people do who care about this?

ROIG-DEBELLIS: I think it`s awareness. It`s having the conversation.
There are people who have the tools to make our schools safer, to have gun

MELBER: Kaitlin Roig-Debellis, thanks for talking to us tonight.

Chris Hayes is up next.


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