The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 10/14/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we`ll see you again
tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: So, Rachel, Rand Paul has
discovered that the big problem with life is that it`s live.
MADDOW: Is that it`s live –
O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s rough.
MADDOW: It`s –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
MADDOW: Particularly rough if you actually say what you`re thinking.
O`DONNELL: All right, here we go, I`m going to go live.
Thanks, Rachel –
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: It is hard to imagine how Hillary Clinton could have had a
better night last night. It was as if she planned it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I`m feeling really lucky in
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first Democratic debate turned into a big night
for Hillary Clinton.
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATIONS & FOUNDER,
TRUMP ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS: And I tweeted, I tweeted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought she mopped the floor with this group.
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: It was almost like an NBA
player stopping by a pickup game on the local playground.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it was the question everyone knew was coming that
produced the moment of the night.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: The American people are sick and tired
of hearing about your damn e-mails.
CLINTON: Thank you! Me, too! Me too!
SANDERS: You`re welcome –
CLINTON: Thank you!
TRUMP: I personally thought she won the debate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just tied herself to Barack Obama`s hip.
CLINTON: He asked me to become Secretary of State, he valued my judgment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that was, I believe, all about shadow-boxing with
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was proud – I
thought they all did well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In your heart of hearts, you have to be hoping he
doesn`t get into this race at this point.
CLINTON: I`m not hoping anything about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the time has come for a decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The debate went so well for Hillary Clinton, so perfectly, that
at times it was as if she had planned the whole thing.
Everything, I mean everything from who would be standing beside her on that
stage to who the Republican frontrunner would be. Everything.
Just think about it. What was Hillary Clinton`s big problem before this
campaign season got started? Her big problem was a big number.
This number – 73. Polling in 2014 showed Hillary Clinton with 73 percent
support among Democrats.
And the problem with such a big number like that is that it made her
nomination inevitable and inevitable is boring and boring hasn`t worked in
presidential politics since Dwight Eisenhower.
The Democratic presidential nomination looked like it was going to be a
coronation and no one wanted that, including Hillary Clinton.
She knew she needed Democratic primary opponents, she didn`t want it to
look like she was just being handed the nomination, she wanted to look like
she had to win it.
And she knew she needed some batting practice. She didn`t want the general
election debate with the Republican nominee next year to be her first time
on a debate stage in eight years.
If Hillary Clinton could have picked her main challenger for the Democratic
nomination, she would have picked Bernie Sanders in a second.
She wanted someone more liberal than she is in the race, so she could
appear more moderate to general election voters. She didn`t want to face a
cool, hip, young liberal like Barack Obama again.
She wanted to face someone who could be caricatured. Someone who even
Anderson Cooper could write an attack ad against off the top of his head.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: The Republican attack ad against you in a general
election, it writes itself. You supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua,
you honeymooned in the Soviet Union and –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh –
COOPER: And just this weekend, you said you`re not a capitalist. Doesn`t
that ad write itself?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Bernie Sanders is more of a socialist than Hillary Clinton and
the other candidates on that stage last night, but not much more.
They all support our big socialist programs like Social Security and
Medicare as do most Republicans.
Republicans would like to spend less on those programs, but that means
they`re still willing to fund socialist programs.
And most of the media has no idea that our economy is actually a mix of
socialism and capitalism. It`s what Hillary Clinton was referring to when
she said this –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: It`s our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it
doesn`t run amok and doesn`t cause the kind of inequities that we`re seeing
in our economic system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And how do we rein in capitalism? With socialism. The way we
temper capitalism is with small and sometimes large doses of socialism.
For example, since pure free market capitalism would lead to tragic
outcomes in the healthcare market place, we have over decades introduced a
bunch of socialist programs and heavy regulation to temper the cruelty of
free market capitalism in the healthcare sector.
Bernie Sanders might be the only American politician who understood this
“Newsweek” cover story six years ago: “We are all socialists now.”
Meaning we all accept and depend on certain amounts of socialism in our
government. But Bernie Sanders is the only American politician brave
enough or unwise enough, depending on your perspective to actually admit
That word, socialist, which is completely misunderstood by most Americans
is part of what makes Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton`s ideal challenger.
Fifty percent of American voters say they will never vote for a socialist
candidate for president. There`s something else about Bernie Sanders that
is very helpful to Hillary Clinton.
While Hillary Clinton lost her first presidential campaign, many pundits
said back then that she would be too old to run for president eight years
down the road at age 67.
Seventy four-year-old Bernie Sanders makes Hillary Clinton look younger by
the day. When Bernie Sanders got in the race, he took no support away from
Hillary Clinton, absolutely none.
He was the perfect challenger. Bernie`s surge in the polls in New
Hampshire and Iowa has no doubt worried Hillary Clinton, but she has
maintained a solid 20-point lead in national polls.
And without the Bernie surge, Hillary would not have gotten this headline
today – “Clinton Crushes It”.
The Bernie Sanders surge in the polls and the huge crowds he has been
attracting created some real suspense for the first Democratic presidential
debate. At 8:00 p.m. last night, no one knew who was going to win that
So the outcome was that much more exciting for pundits and headline writers
who have almost unanimously and breathlessly given the win to the candidate
who was supposed to be the boring, inevitable nominee just a few months ago
and last night was never boring and never in trouble.
Even when the debate exposed the biggest problem that Hillary Clinton has
ever had with liberal voters – her vote to authorize the Iraq war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Well, I recall very well, being on a debate stage, I think about
25 times with then Senator Obama debating this very issue.
After the election, he asked me to become Secretary of State, he valued my
judgment and I spent a lot of time with him –
Well, in the situation room going over some very difficult issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: What if President Obama never offered her that job? Imagine if
Hillary Clinton was standing on that stage as just another senator who was
wrong about Iraq, standing beside two senators who were right about Iraq;
Bernie Sanders and Lincoln Chafee.
It`s as if she planned it all, including taking the job of Secretary of
State so she could have that line ready at that moment that was sure to
come in her next presidential debate.
But Hillary Clinton couldn`t have planned all of this, and she couldn`t
have arranged for the Republicans to have a complete governing ignoramus as
A man who offends large voting groups in every speech. A man who voters
associate primarily with the word “idiot” when asked for a one-word
description of him.
A man who, by the way, is two years older than Hillary Clinton. We know
that Bill Clinton encouraged Donald Trump to run for president, but we now
know that Donald Trump would have run without that encouragement
So, no, Hillary Clinton didn`t plan the Bernie Sanders candidacy. She
didn`t talk him into running so she could have some batting practice last
She didn`t do that with the other helpful and forgettable supporting cast
on the stage including Jim Webb who so conveniently running to her right.
But it all played so perfectly last night that it looked like she did plan
it all, especially when in what could have become her only difficult
moment, she was saved by her ideal challenger, Bernie Sanders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Let me say something that may not be great politics, but I think
the secretary is right. And that is that the American people are sick and
tired of hearing about your damn e-mails!
CLINTON: Thank you! Me, too! Me, too!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton didn`t plan that moment and she didn`t arrange
the seeding plan on this year`s Republican clown car with Donald Trump and
Ben Carson in the front.
She couldn`t have planned all of that. No one could, it is just too
perfect. It`s better than what any political fiction writer could come up
Hillary Clinton didn`t plan all of that, she just got lucky and that`s the
kind of luck that wins the White House. Joining us now, Josh Barro, a “New
York Times” reporter and an Msnbc contributor.
Also with us, Governor Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic
National Committee and an Msnbc political analyst.
And Maria Teresa Kumar, president of Voto Latino and host of “CHANGING
AMERICA” on shift by Msnbc.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT, VOTO LATINO: Hello –
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, as a former presidential candidate and candidate
for governor in Vermont, you know luck matters, and luck lives in campaigns
and there`s good luck and bad luck.
When you look at the luck that has lined up for Hillary Clinton to put her
where she was standing last night, it is kind of an amazing set of perfect
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: There is no question that luck plays
a big role. On the other hand, she`s an incredibly talented person.
O`DONNELL: Sure, that`s very important –
DEAN: And I think –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
DEAN: That the hill that she climbed last night was the hill that every,
really serious candidate has to climb. And Bernie has already climbed it
because he`s been there for his whole career.
And that is, are you speaking out of conviction? And I think for the most
part, she was. What you saw was something pretty close to the real Hillary
Clinton last night and the politics of authenticity and the politics of
conviction I think almost, always wins.
O`DONNELL: And Maria Teresa, I have to say, I thought it was the best
performance, debate performance I have seen her deliver, including her
Senate debates in New York which were good. This was just better.
KUMAR: But I – it`s exactly what Howard is saying, is that, she – you
actually saw a genuine Hillary Clinton coming out, and you saw the
authenticity that people have been wanting to see.
And she didn`t seem rehearsed, she didn`t seem practiced and it was
interesting. It was almost as if she knew that the only other person that
she was really debating on that stage wasn`t on that stage, that it was
The number of times that she mentioned her closeness to President Obama was
basically trying to signal to people, one, Biden, don`t come in and two,
you don`t need Biden because you have me.
O`DONNELL: And Josh, we know – if you know anything about debates, we
know that the line about President Obama, “trust my judgment” was written,
was rehearsed, was memorized but was delivered as if it had just occurred
JOSH BARRO, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes – no, I mean, this is the issue that did
her – in 2008 and she just wants to be able to walk past it and say that
was asked and answered.
I lost one election over that, I don`t have to lose two elections over
that. But this also gets to a thing that I think relates to what both
Howard and Maria Teresa said.
Which is that, the fundamentals in this campaign are very good for Hillary
Clinton. The Democratic Party is pretty well aligned on policy, Hillary
Clinton is very much within the mainstream of that party.
She is the best known candidate, the most experienced candidate available
there. She`s the person they should nominate. She is the person who is
most likely to win a general election on that stage.
So she ought to win the debate. She ought to be the person who comes off
the best in the debate, so I think those fundamentals were very good for
I don`t really view this as luck, I view it as her being the best
positioned candidate and the most talented candidate up there. So, it`s
not surprising that she won.
Only it looked surprising because she has had a rough few months in the
campaign, partly because expectations were so high for her.
But I`m not surprised by this. I don`t think this is a lucky outcome.
This is the outcome that should have been expected.
O`DONNELL: Joe Biden, when we were about 45 minutes into this debate, I
kind of said, geez, I don`t – I don`t miss Joe Biden.
DEAN: Yes –
O`DONNELL: And Howard Dean, it seemed that one of the Biden calculations a
couple of weeks ago was – the team Biden would be thinking, let them have
the first debate.
Let it be boring, let it be uneventful, they agree on everything, it won`t
be terribly interesting and let Democrats look at that and say, is that all
we`ve got. That didn`t exactly play out that way last night –
DEAN: It didn`t, it didn`t. But also, there`s a certain amount of fantasy
in the Biden bid. Look, he`s a guy – everybody has enormous sympathy
for, everybody has a lot of respect for, he`s been a terrific vice
He has a 100 percent name recognition among Democratic primary voters and
he`s not in the campaign yet. So, 22 percent is his ceiling, not his
And so this is fanciful inside the beltway thinking to think he`s going to
come in, no matter what Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders do and make that
up because he`s at 22 percent.
That`s his – that`s his ceiling. So, I always thought that he would get
in if his heart told him to do it because (AUDIO GAP 00:04:13-17) they were
being honest would say don`t do it.
O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, Hillary Clinton`s next big moment in the
spotlight is going to be next week at the Benghazi hearing.
And just tonight, we have another Republican Congressman saying something
that is pretty helpful to Secretary Clinton about this.
This is an Upstate New York Congressman and in his district, he may find
that Hillary Clinton might be more popular than he is at this point
But he said on radio today, “sometimes the biggest – I`m sorry, this is –
this is the part down here that`s relevant is, “this may not be politically
correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that
was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton.”
And Maria Teresa, he`s saying that to constituents, many of whom voted for
Hillary Clinton for senator up there.
KUMAR: Well, and this is the thing. Everybody was holding on to see
whether or not the Benghazi hearings were going to be the death of Hillary
Clinton as a presidential candidate.
But the fact that you have McCarthy coming out, you have now representative
Hannah coming out and saying that they were going on a witch-hunt and using
this as a guise, they don`t have any credibility.
It`s going to be very – credibility, it`s going to be very difficult now
to tune in and listen because they`re already saying, you know, what, this
is a witch-hunt. They`re not really trying to get to the truth of the
O`DONNELL: And Josh Barro, he went even further on this, I mean, he really
turned against Kevin McCarthy and the committee and the additional comments
he made on that radio show.
Saying, you know, they spent all this money on this thing and this is
really what they were up to. And again, so this is a – this is another
Republican Congressman and he`s not saying it as a kind of slip of the
tongue as it were from Kevin McCarthy.
BARRO: Yes – no, I mean, I wonder if this is a symptom of the broader
breakdown in the Republican Conference in the house, obviously, there are a
lot of things Republicans –
O`DONNELL: Yes, would you have said that a month ago?
BARRO: Right, yes –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
BARRO: I know –
O`DONNELL: Right –
BARRO: I wonder, but I also – this has always seem to me like the people
you hear talking a lot about Benghazi and Hillary Clinton are people who
were already predisposed to hate Hillary Clinton.
So, I`ve always wondered about this idea that the Benghazi Committee was as
Kevin McCarthy suggested it was; a significant drive of the decline in her
I think this was an issue for Republican base voters who were going to be
against her either way. Now, the e-mail scandal is something that had
broader impact because it created an FBI inquiry and it created questions
about handling of classified materials.
You could complain about, you know, regardless of where you were on the
political spectrum, but again, I think, as Bernie Sanders put it in the
campaign, that reads as a very inside baseball issue.
So even though I do think that this was in many ways a politically-
motivated investigation, it`s not clear to me it`s actually been an
effective political strategy.
DEAN: Well, I think this is a very big danger for the Republicans if they
had brains, which so far they`ve given no indication that they do, they`d
cancel this hearing and get rid of the committee.
This is become – Hillary Clinton was preparing for this as an ordeal, it`s
now an unbelievable opportunity for her.
She can actually stuff 11 Congressmen or however many show up, because I
don`t know that the Democrats are going to show up to this thing.
And who are now portrayed as bullies, wasters of taxpayers` money and
unbelievable. And –
KUMAR: Right –
DEAN: This is – this can be her moment. This can – this could clinch
the presidency for her.
O`DONNELL: Yes, they won`t cancel it, but they could for once run a
Republican house committee hearing that is decent and sensible and calm and
not crazy and wild.
And everyone of them turns crazy at some point. We got to take a break
here. Coming up, Republican reaction to last night`s debate, and the 40
members of the Republican Freedom Caucus are preventing house Republicans
from agreeing on their next speaker.
One of the members of the Republican Freedom Caucus will join me.
O`DONNELL: Up next, Republican reaction to the first Democratic debate and
coming up, one of the Republicans who`s holding up the choice of speaker in
the house of Representatives will join us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think she did her job. I think she got through the debate. I
personally thought she won the debate. I thought Bernie was off, he was
not doing so well.
I thought that the other people shouldn`t even be up there, to be honest
with you. I thought a couple of them were ridiculous.
But – and the – you know, it`s always tough when you have people that
shouldn`t be there and they`re taking up a lot of time, a lot of effort, a
lot of everything else.
And you`d like to hear more from the people that really have a chance to
win. I mean, in all fairness, the Republicans have the same situation
going, so it`s one of those things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I wonder who shouldn`t be on that debate stage with the
Republicans. That was Donald Trump`s reaction to last night`s debate.
Marco Rubio may have found his new line of attack on the Republican
frontrunner without even mentioning Donald Trump`s name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: In the modern history of this country,
never has there been a time when the political class is more out of touch
than it is today.
And I wish I could just say it`s a one political party, but it is in both.
Leaders in both parties that are both out of touch and outdated; who do not
remember what it was like to live paycheck to paycheck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Marco Rubio today in New Hampshire. Rubio struck
another note of economic populism today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: I have full confidence that the American private sector made up of
the most innovative and productive people on this planet won`t just create
millions of jobs.
They will create millions of jobs that pay more. Because even the jobs –
Because even the jobs that are being created now don`t pay enough. You
can`t live on $10 an hour. You can`t live on $11 an hour.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar, talking about living paycheck to paycheck,
all of that stuff certainly was drowned out in the first wave of Trumpism
for the first couple of months of the Trump candidacy.
Do you think there`s a chance for that kind of talk to resonate again with
Republican voters while Trump is sitting at the top of this poll?
KUMAR: Well, I think what Rubio is doing, he`s pivoting back to his
original stances. For the last two years, he`s been going around the
country talking about – making sure that we are discussing poverty.
He`s been a spokesperson for the one campaign, talking about the importance
of decreasing it and going into really small socio-economic sectors in this
The problem though, is that, you can`t expect corporate America to feel the
burden and actually feel sorry enough for the little guy to ensure that
they`re paying them a fair wage when that is actually against their –
against their core.
Which is, how do you maximize profit? So, he`s trying to have it both ways,
and I think the American people are actually smarter than that.
O`DONNELL: Yes, here`s Marco Rubio, his position on the minimum wage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: I`m not in favor of repealing what we have now. I just don`t think
the minimum wage increase is the best way to increase wages for Americans.
My problem with increasing minimum wage is what you`ve seen in cities and
states that have gone to $15 an hour, and that is higher prices and less
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, Howard Dean, you can`t live on $10 an hour is one line of
Marco Rubio, but he doesn`t want to increase the minimum wage to anything
like $10 an hour.
DEAN: Here`s the problem he`s going to have should he get through, and I`m
not convinced he will, but he may.
The problem he`s going to have in the debate, he`s going to get tangled up
in this in the presidential debates.
Because he doesn`t – he`s trying to have it both ways, and inevitably when
you`re trying to have it both ways, you have to pick a side.
And he hasn`t done that and this is going to be a big problem for him.
Eventually, when there are not 10 people on the stage to distract everybody
and there`s only two, if he`s one of them, he`s got a problem if he can`t
work this out.
O`DONNELL: Josh, it sounds old-fashioned, doesn`t it? For a candidate who
is running against Trump in Trump world to be talking about the struggles
of living paycheck to paycheck.
BARRO: Well, the strange thing about this is that, there`s – Republican
field, the one who has been most successful at appealing to middle class
economic concerns has been Donald Trump.
Trump has had a relentless message about how the rich are buying off
Washington and leaving the rest of you behind.
Trump is separated from the rest of the Republican field on trade issues,
saying that the U.S. needs a much more protectionist trade policy to
protect American jobs and raise wages and create jobs for workers.
Everyone else in the Republican field is pretty much pro-free trade. And
so, yes, you have Marco Rubio talking about his upbringing and how he was
not born rich like a lot of the other candidates, including Donald Trump.
But then when you look at his platform, is not just minimum wage issue, he
also has a tax plan that is an enormous tax cut for people at the top,
cuts tax rates on capital gains and dividend income all the way to zero.
So, yes, he can say, you know, the party has gotten out of touch, but his
economic plan is out of touch as well. And I think, you know, I disagree a
little bit on the minimum wage issue.
I think the Democrats think this is a great issue for them, certainly, it`s
true the minimum wage increases are popular.
Democrats have not been winning elections on this, probably because it`s
not really an issue for middle income people.
It`s an issue for the working poor. Neither party really has a coherent
message about what they`re going to do –
KUMAR: But actually –
BARRO: For people who are already making $20 or $30 an hour, who can`t get
a wage –
KUMAR: Josh –
BARRO: Increase through regulation –
KUMAR: But Josh, if you remember the midterm elections where you found –
you found four state –
BARRO: Right –
KUMAR: Senators that were running, they were running on a platform of
being Republican. But the ones that at the same time down ballot the
initiatives that won were minimum wage.
So, this is actually issue that resonates across party lines and –
BARRO: But I think that –
KUMAR: That`s why I think it`s one of the reasons why you actually see
Marco Rubio talking about it.
Because he knows that even in Arkansas where a red senator basically won,
all of a sudden, the minimum wage was passed.
BARRO: Right, I know, but that`s exactly my point. You could pass a
minimum wage increase in Arkansas, but it did not do Republicans – it did
not do Democrats any good in elections in Arkansas.
It`s an issue where people agree with Democrats but they`re not necessarily
walking into the voting booth, and saying I`m going to pick an elected
official who agrees with me on the minimum wage.
They`re looking for somebody who speaks to their personal economic
concerns; the minimum wage is a personal concern for many voters but not
for a lot of voters in the middle of the economic spectrum.
So, I think, yes, Republicans don`t have a message there, but Democrats
don`t have one either. And that`s why those wins on minimum wage did not
translate into wins in elections for Democrats.
KUMAR: But I do think that`s one of the reasons why Rubio is actually is
hitting something. They realize that – he realizes that the majority of
the Republican base unfortunately is struggling daily, paycheck to
So, this is a way for him to resonate and actually move himself away from
O`DONNELL: And Howard Dean, when Republicans like Rubio go for this kind
of economic populism, as you say, they end up being boxed in by the wrong
policies in these areas, but as Josh referred to the tax plan.
Analysis of Rubio`s tax plan indicates that the top 1 percent would have
after-tax income increase by 27 percent. Trump`s tax plan, the same.
Bush`s tax plan, top 1 percent would have their incomes increased by 16.4
percent under these tax plans.
And somehow Republican voters who are nowhere near that 1 percent somehow
disassociate that from having anything to do with their lives. That
doesn`t in anyway take anything away from their lives.
DEAN: Well, I think Americans in general, not just Republicans think
there`s nothing wrong with being rich and would like to be rich themselves
And that is why I think the soak – the rich stuff from the Democratic side
is not all that wise. I think fairness is an important issue and you can
pillory billionaires especially since the Koch Brothers have caricaturized
But you got to be careful talking about taxes, especially if you`re a
Democrat. The point I would make with – going back to the minimum wage is
what Rubio is trying to do is actually very smart even though I don`t think
he`s going to get away with it.
The minimum wage – I saw it with Josh in this argument. People don`t vote
because you`re going to raise the minimum wage. What they do though –
what the minimum wage is a standing for hard-hearted, mean, people.
And that is what the Republican brand is. So, the problem with this tax
analysis – most people aren`t going to do this tax analysis and when you
do it for them, they`re not going to pay that much attention.
It`s not so easy to understand. But they already believe that the
Republicans aren`t with them.
And so, everything we say about the minimum wage, about taxing – giving
huge tax breaks to billionaires – people are inclined to believe that
about the Republican Party in the same way that they`re inclined to believe
the Democrats spend too much money.
And if you fit the key into the key hole, it works a lot better in an
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, Josh Barro and Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you all
for joining me tonight.
Coming up, Republicans have not been able to agree on a new speaker of the
house in part because of the Freedom Caucus. A member of the Republican
Freedom Caucus will join me to explain their position.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST OF “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”
PROGRAM: It is 10:33 P.M. Do you know where your speaker is? The house
of representatives still does not know who its next speaker will be, even
though John Boehner announced his immediate intention to retire over two
Republicans in the house cannot unify around a choice for speaker,
including the popular Paul Ryan, because the 40 republican members who call
themselves the freedom caucus refuse to support any candidate for speaker,
who does not agree with their demands.
Joining us now is a member of the Freedom Caucus, Alabama Representative Mo
Brooks. Congressman Brooks, thank you very much for joining us tonight, I
really appreciate it.
REP. MO BROOKS, (R) ALABAMA: My pleasure. I look forward to it.
O`DONNELL: I am sure you have heard the freedom caucus demands described
in the media and probably at times felt that they have been
mischaracterized. What do you need to hear from a candidate for speaker of
the house in order to vote for that speaker – that candidate?
BROOKS: Well, let me back up. You are right, the media has
mischaracterized the demands of the house freedom caucus because in fact
there have not been any. We have not had a vote of the house freedom
caucus in which we say these are the terms and conditions that we would
like to see as speaker agreed to before we will agree to vote for them.
So, I cannot help but chuckle when I see time after time the media at
multitude of different levels saying, well the house of freedom caucus is
unreasonable because of these ultimatums and demands that they have issued
when we have not issued any at this point. Now, we have had discussions
about things we would like to see, but those are negotiations and those are
different from ultimatums and demands.
O`DONNELL: Well, OK.
BROOKS: I would like to see – go ahead.
O`DONNELL: Well, I was going to say, let us just then limit this to you.
You are one vote. You control your vote. What do you need to see – what
do you need to hear from a candidate for speaker in order for that person
to get your vote?
BROOKS: Well, there are two things that I would like to see. One on a
policy level, another one on a process level. On a policy level, I want a
speaker who has the intellect and has the backbone, is courageous enough,
to do the things that America needs to do in order to solve the very
serious challenges we as a country face.
We are on a path to debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy. We need a
speaker of the house, who understands the urgency as expressed to us by
America`s comptroller general, as expressed to us by the congressional
budget office and who will address these deficits before we suffer that
debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy.
At the same time, we need a speaker of the house who understands the
difference between socialism that does not work in every nation that has
ever tried it and free enterprise and capitalism that does work. That is
what grows the economy.
John F. Kennedy believed in it, and it worked. Ronald Reagan believed in
free enterprising capitalism and it grew the economy that produced revenues
that helped decrease the deficits. So, I want a speaker who understands
the distinction and will fight for the economic model that works for
Americans rather than fails for America and all of the countries that ever
tried it. I also want –
O`DONNELL: Can I just ask you on the policy issues –
O`DONNELL: On the policy issues, you have identified there, does Paul Ryan
meet that description? Is he a person who understands that deficit policy
that you want understood and do you think Paul Ryan is anti-socialist
enough for you?
BROOKS: Paul Ryan has made headway on the budget deficits. If I recall
correctly the first budget that he proposed when I was elected after the
2010 elections, sworn in, in 2011, would have balanced in 26 years if my
memory serves me correctly.
That is not fast enough. America will suffer insolvency and bankruptcy if
we continue on our current path within that 26-year window. So, I want
something more aggressive. Paul Ryan to his credit in later budgets
proposed by him, he reduced that window to something in the neighborhood of
We might be able to avoid an insolvency and bankruptcy if we were able to
solve this deficit issue within ten years. Only time will tell. Another
major issue is do we have a speaker`s candidate, who understands the
suppression of wages and the cost in terms of lost jobs to struggling
American families by the surge in illegal aliens, who have taken at least
eight million job opportunities from American workers on the one hand and
on the other hand suppressed the wages of everybody.
Like for example before I came on, you were talking about minimum wage.
Well, if you really want to solve the minimum wage, you eliminate this
artificial surge in the labor supply and wages will naturally go up for
Americans. And, that is who I represent, Americans.
O`DONNELL: Congressman –
BROOKS: So that I some of the policy issues. I do not know if you want to
join the process or not.
O`DONNELL: One more note on police and I do want to get to process because
I actually have a lot of sympathies with you on process. Paul Ryan has
said that he is in favor and said very recently, he is in favor of
So, he is in favor of having many of the people who are undocumented in
this country now become legal workers. So, is that – that sounds like it
is a deal breaker for you on any possibility of voting for Paul Ryan?
BROOKS: Legalizing illegal aliens is wrong and it is bad for American
families in a number of different respects. One, it encourages more
illegal aliens to cross our border because we have shown forgiveness.
We should have learned from the 1986 amnesty, which was a small problem at
that time. The fact that we gave amnesty is what encouraged a small
problem that become a problem in excess of 10 million people, because
illegal aliens know that they can break our laws and they can come here and
they can stay here.
But, second, on the labor supply issue, if we suddenly legalize all these
workers, you still have the surge in the labor supply that has an adverse
effect on the ability of American families to earn living, to support their
families, to seize the American dream that I was able to seize back in the
1960s and 1970s, when I was young and trying to make my way.
O`DONNELL: So, Congressman Brooks, it sounds like you could not vote for
Paul Ryan on the basic of immigration policy alone.
BROOKS: He needs to change his policy to protect Americans from the
adverse effect of job seizures and wage suppression by this huge surge in
the illegal alien labor supply.
O`DONNELL: To process, Congressman Brooks, you know – And I have to say,
you know, when I was working in the senate we used to come over to
conference with the house and sometimes it felt like I was dealing with a
The way members of the house are denied real participation in the way
legislation is done there, it is done almost exclusively in the hands of
the powerful Chairman and the leadership. And, your process issues, some
of them, I am very sympathetic to. Could you outline what are the new
processes you want to get out of the new speaker?
BROOKS: Well, the way things work right now, it is top-bottom. You pretty
much get a dictation from the top as to what amendments will be permitted,
what bills will be brought to the floor, with strong encouragement on how
to vote. That means 20 or 30 Congressmen out of 435 are pretty much
controlling what passes and does not pass the United States house of
That is wrong. If that is the way it is going to operate, well the other
400 of us can just stay home if 20 to 30 couple – two or three dozen are
going to have that kind of power. I believe that we ought to have a bottom
up process where each member with his idea, his idea of merits can be
presented in committee.
And, if they are good and accepted by both republicans and democrats or
majority thereof, then it can go to the house floor and we can have that
kind of debate there. I believe a bottom up process works much better than
O`DONNELL: Could you – I agree with you on your process changes that you
want. If a speaker candidate said to you “Look, I will give you everything
you want in process on issues, we will just have to agree to disagree.”
Is that the kind of compromise you could live with that at least you have
the process that you want so that your view on immigration or taxation, or
whatever the issue is, could come to a vote in the committee with the new
BROOKS: Well, it is a weighing process but the short answer is, “Yes.” If
we can make enough headway on process issues, that helps to offset the
public policy issues. For example, with Kevin McCarthy, I had this kind of
discussion. Kevin McCarthy was in large part in agreement with what I was
suggesting on the process side, and I probably would have voted for him on
the house floor despite some serious disagreements on the policy side.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Brooks, as you know, all your complaints about
process were complaints that democrats had about process when their
leadership was running the ship the same way with them. Congressman Mo
Brooks, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
BROOKS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it.
BROOKS: I appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Up next, Hillary Clinton got a follow-up question about marijuana
legalization after that subject came up in last night`s debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN`S HOST: You did not smoke pot when you were young
and you are not going to start now. When asked about legalizing
recreational marijuana, you told her, “Let us wait and see how it plays out
in Colorado and Washington.” It has been more than a year since you said
that. Are you ready to take a position tonight?
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. I think that we have the
opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to
find out a lot more than we know today. I do support the use of medical
marijuana. And, I think even there, we need to do a lot more research.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, Hillary Clinton got a follow-up question about that from
NBC – the NBC station in Denver, Colorado.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE INTERVIEWER: You said at the debate that you are not
ready to take a position on legalization of marijuana, but Colorado voters
need to know how a Hillary Clinton administration would treat us.
Would you promise not to as Chris Christie says he would use federal
authority to shut down or interfere with the legal marijuana system, we
have in Colorado and other states?
CLINTON: I really believe it is important that states like Colorado lead
the way, so that we can learn what works and what does not work. And, I
would certainly not want the federal government to interfere with the legal
decision made by the people of Colorado and enforced by your elected
officials as to how you should be conducting this business that you have
approved. So, no, I want to give you the space and I want other states to
learn from you what works and what does not work.
O`DONNELL: Up next, a violent scene ending in death in Jerusalem today,
all caught on camera by an NBC News crew.
O`DONNELL: Today, Ayman Mohyeldin, an NBC News crew was there when Israeli
police shot and killed a Palestinian man holding a knife, who ran passed a
security checkpoint near Jerusalem`s Damascus gate. For more on what
happened, we turned that to NBCs Ayman Mohyeldin in Jerusalem.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Lawrence.
Israeli security had stepped up its presence all across east Jerusalem and
in other parts of the country.
Their aim was to thwart any possible attack that could happen not just on
Israeli checkpoints, but even against Israeli civilians. But, today, such
an attack took place and we were there as it all unfolded.
MOHYELDIN: It happened in an instant in front of our camera. A man with a
knife runs past a security checkpoint and is shot dead by Israeli police.
The knife clearly visible in his hand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: He pulled out a knife and police officers
managed to neutralize the terrorist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: He was identified as 19-year-old Basil Sidr, a Palestinian from
the west bank. Just hours later, at Jerusalem`s central bus terminal,
another Palestinian man stabs and injures a 72-year-old Israeli woman. He,
too, is shot dead by police. The latest in weeks of attacks leaving eight
Today, another funeral. Israel is on high alert. Hundreds of additional
security forces called up. Police checkpoints increased. Palestinian
neighborhoods sealed off restricting movement. Israel is warning that
bodies of attackers will not be returned to families and their homes will
But Palestinians are also mourning. Thirty dead in recent weeks, some of
them attackers, but many of the killed were protesters. The funeral of one
today in Bethlehem was followed by more clashes with Israeli police.
Palestinians claim a double standard. That Israel cracks down on
Palestinian attackers but goes easy on Israeli extremists.
Their anger fuelled by social media and viral videos like this one
allegedly showing an injured 13-year-old Palestinian left to bleed. Israel
released its own video showing knife-wielding Palestinians. Both sides
feel under siege, Israel by attacks like the ones today and Palestinians by
what they consider an occupying power.
MOHYELDIN: Now, Secretary of State John Kerry says he plans to travel to
the region soon to try and restore calm, but he has not given any specific
dates or plans. So, for now, any attempt to try to end the violence like
what we witnessed here today may be wishful thinking as both sides. The
Israelis and the Palestinians, continue to blame each other for this latest
outbreak of violence. Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: NBC`s Ayman Mohyeldin, thank you.
Up next, time for the good news.
O`DONNELL: Ready for some good news? I got some great news, next.
O`DONNELL: And, now for the good news. The Peace Corps announced today
that this year they have received the highest number of volunteer
applications that the agency has received in 40 years. The Peace Corps was
formed by executive order and a burst of idealism by president John F.
Kennedy in 1961.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: It will not be easy. None of the
men and women will be paid a salary. They will live at the same level as
the citizens of the country, which they are sent to. Doing the same work,
eating the same food, speaking the same language.
We are going to put particular emphasis on those men and women, who have
skills in teaching, agriculture, and in health. I am hopeful that it will
be a source of satisfaction to Americans and a contribution to world peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, the Peace Corps announced, it received 23,000
applications in 2015. A 32 percent increase from 2014 and the most it has
received since 1975. Joining us now, former Peace Corps volunteer Kimberly
Conner. Kimberly, when did you serve in the Peace Corps?
KIMBERLY CONNER, PEACE CORPS, 2011-2013: Between 2011 and 2013.
O`DONNELL: And, where did you go?
O`DONNELL: That is the giant island off the southeast coast of Africa. It
is like about the size of California. Is that where you wanted to go?
CONNER: When I applied to the Peace Corps, you could not select what
country you served in and that actually excited me. I was very much about
the spirit of the Peace Corps, going wherever they sent me. I trusted the
program to send me wherever my skills were needed.
O`DONNELL: And, one of the things that is changed is that when you applied
now, you are allowed to say “I want to go to this place. I want to go to
Africa.” And, they say that has helped in recruitment. Is that your
sense of it?
CONNER: Absolutely. And, I can completely understand that sentiment. I
personally liked the surprise –
O`DONNELL: You wanted the suspense?
CONNER: I wanted the suspense. I wanted to get that invitation envelope
and not know where it was going to send me in the world.
O`DONNELL: Where did you get this volunteer spirit? What made you want to
CONNER: Well, I actually grew up in a tiny rural town in Western Kentucky,
and it was very isolated culturally. And, so when I went off to college,
that was really my first taste of the wider world and I wanted more of it.
But, I wanted to do it in a way that was not self-serving, that was helping
people learn and learning about new cultures, new languages, but again –
O`DONNELL: What skills did you bring to the Peace Corps?
CONNER: I was actually – my undergrad was premedical, so I had skills in
O`DONNELL: You know, one of my big disappointments, I could not get into
the Peace Corps. I got the application and it was very clear they wanted
very specific skills. And, I do not think I ever completely filled it out.
You know, I had some conversations, and they discovered I was just a
liberal arts college graduate, who majored in economics and they were
looking for somebody who actually knew something, you know, about
agriculture, how to actually really help. And, that is who we have in the
Peace Corps, right?
CONNER: That is true. They are looking for particular skill sets. You
know, like I was a community health educator and they do have agriculture
volunteers, but they also have volunteers who do have come from a liberal
arts degree background.
O`DONNELL: There is hope for me?
CONNER: There is hope for you yet. You can still apply.
O`DONNELL: All right. And, they take older applicants? Retirees?
O`DONNELL: All right. So, what are you doing now?
CONNER: I am a student at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and I have
the best – I am an intern here at “The Last Word.”
O`DONNELL: You are. That is you over in the corner with the headphones on
CONNER: That is me.
O`DONNELL: It must be so boring for you to be here after two years in
Madagascar doing real thing.
CONNER: So, you know, this is just learning new skills.
O`DONNELL: Yes. I am sure. Kimberly Conner, thank you very much for
everything you do and here at “The Last Word,” thank you much more for
being part of this great spirit that has given us the Peace Corps. I
really appreciate it.
CONNER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Chris Hayes is up next.
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