The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 10/29/15

Tim Pawlenty, Stuart Stevens, Joe Klein, David Corn, David Frum, Joe Klein

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.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Well, if you watched the World
Series last night instead of the Republican presidential debate, you missed
some verbal fireworks, but you missed nothing.

And I mean nothing that would have told you which of those candidates would
make the best future president. Because debates aren`t about governing,
they`re about the sound bites.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Democrats have the ultimate Super PAC, it`s
called the mainstream media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All eyes now are on Marco Rubio?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve gotten calls from a lot of different people, many
expected more of Jeb Bush.

JEB BUSH, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: What is it? Like a French work week
where you get like three days where you have to show up?

RUBIO: Someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This is not a cage match.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The other guy who had a great night, Ted Cruz.

CRUZ: The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate
why the American people don`t trust the media.

started at the same time as “Cnbc`s” Republican debate. So, if you`re a
fan of a famous New York with a giant head, you can watch either.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaker of the house, Congressman and honorable Paul


Thank you, thank you very much. I never thought I`d be speaker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, – the expression of hand, you know, he`s
got more hand with that group.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all want the man, and it`s tough to get!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Boehner gave Paul Ryan a huge gift by taking the
thread of a government shutdown off the table.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: No, I didn`t want him to walk into a dirty
barn full of you know what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, you can pass all the budget deals you want
Boehner, Congress is always going to be full of – you know that –


We all know that.


O`DONNELL: Twenty four hours ago on this network, in this very chair right
here, with a few minutes still left in the debate, I declared Marco Rubio
to be the winner.

With Ted Cruz turning in the second best performance for the Republican
audience and Chris Christie coming in third with that Republican audience.

And Jeb Bush, the biggest loser of the night. That has now become the
conventional wisdom of the political class. But there is bad news for the
winners and good news for the biggest loser.

The good news for Jeb Bush is that the next Republican debate is only 12
days away, which means his bad performance last night only has a shelf life
of 12 days, unless, of course, he turns in another losing performance in
the next debate.

And then his candidacy really would start sliding into the truly hopeless
zone. The bad news for the winners is that the next debate is only 12 days

Which means they get only 12 days of glory before they`re tested again.
And to sustain their momentum, the winners have to be at least as good or
better in the next debate.

For Chris Christie, the bad news is his candidacy is hopeless no matter how
well he performs for a Republican audience in the debate.

Chris Christie has no chance of being on the Republican ticket even in the
vice presidential slot because Republicans aren`t going to go with a
candidate who will be busy testifying at the criminal trials on his staff
when he should be out there campaigning.

The next debate will be moderated by “Fox Business” and the “Wall Street
Journal”, those moderators all now have the advantage of having seen a
debate last night that was supposed to be concentrating on economic policy
and ended up in chaos.




KASICH: Deal in agreeing –

QUICK: Governor –


KASICH: Four years later, it`s a joke.


KASICH: Becky –

QUICK: Dr. Carson –

KASICH: Becky –


O`DONNELL: If the next debate does concentrate on economic policy, the
frontrunner, Ben Carson`s religious-based tax policy and the other
candidates reckless deficit increase in tax policies will suffer scrutiny
that they cannot bear.


QUICK: Dr. Carson, let`s talk about taxes. You have a flat tax plan of 10
percent flat taxes, and I`ve looked at it, and this is something that is
very appealing to a lot of voters.

But I`ve had a really tough time trying to make the math work on this.

say that the rate would be 10 percent. I used the tithing analogy –

QUICK: I understand –


QUICK: That, but if –

CARSON: But the rate –

QUICK: If you look at the numbers –

CARSON: The rate –

QUICK: It`ll probably have to get to 28 –

CARSON: The rate is going to be much closer to 15 percent. It will –

QUICK: Fifteen percent still –


QUICK: Leaves you with –

CARSON: Well –

QUICK: A $1.1 –

CARSON: Let me try –

QUICK: Trillion hole –


O`DONNELL: In all of the analysis of last night`s debate, including my own
analysis, I have yet to hear one word about which candidate was revealed to
be the best possible future president of that group.

That`s not the way we in the media usually analyze the base. We cover them
like sporting events. Winners, losers, homeruns, strikeouts, zingers.

We try to guess which candidates impressed the Republican audience the most
or the Democratic audience the most. We evaluate debating skills and
that`s the problem with debates.

Presidents don`t debate. Presidents don`t have to think on their feet.
Presidents never have to make a decision alone without advice from
advisors who have much more expertise on the subject at hand than they do.

Forcing presidential candidates to debate is just a bit more relevant to
their day-to-day job as president than forcing them to sing.

Although singing would give us a better window into their souls. Joining
us now, Alex Wagner, Msnbc host and political analyst.

Also with us, Tim Pawlenty, former Republican governor of Minnesota who ran
for president in 2012.

Stuart Stevens, columnist for “The Daily Beast” and the former chief
strategist for Mitt Romney`s presidential campaign. Alex, which one do you
think is the best singer?

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC: I`m going to go – I`m going to go with maybe Cruz
because he has that sort of –

O`DONNELL: Could be –

WAGNER: Performance –

O`DONNELL: Could be – you know, I mean, we make light of this. But in
Ireland, the politicians still sing. And I didn`t think that added
anything to it until I heard John Hume sing at a political – that one time

WAGNER: And changed everything –

O`DONNELL: And John Hume, already in my mind was the greatest politician
of his era. And it just made me think, wow, all the – all the feeling,
all the power, really genuinely, the soul that comes out in those things.

But I guess –

WAGNER: Well, Lawrence, Barack Obama has sang at pivotal moments –

O`DONNELL: That`s right –

WAGNER: Of his presidency –

O`DONNELL: That`s right –

WAGNER: I mean, serious –


WAGNER: Moments, Al Green moments –


WAGNER: And it`s –


WAGNER: Made a difference –

O`DONNELL: All right –

WAGNER: So, maybe, there`s a –

O`DONNELL: To my –

WAGNER: To be –

O`DONNELL: To my high brow question –


O`DONNELL: Which is –

WAGNER: As all your questions are –

O`DONNELL: What did – what did we learn about the way these candidates
would be president if they ever got the job?

WAGNER: I mean, I think you learn more in the pauses and the interstitials
than you do in the answers. We know that John Kasich would be frustrated.

We know that Jeb Bush would be, I think, impatient. We know that Ted Cruz
would be out for Ted Cruz and Ted Cruz`s re-election in the fifth, sixth,
seventh and eighth years of his presidency.

I mean, I think – I think it`d either useful if we find a place – if
we`re trying to find the place, a meaningful point for them. I think it`s
important to hear how they would try and present their ideas.

I mean, at the end of the day, part of being president is communicating.
And I think in some way, we learn something about how they can convince the
American public of their grand ideas to lead the nation in the debate

Because there`s certainly no other area where they can do that in this
presidential campaign cycle.

O`DONNELL: Tim Pawlenty, you know, I spoke to one of the presidential
debate commissioners four years ago, and I said to him, you know, I think
they should get the questions ahead of time because I actually want to hear
their best answer.

I don`t want this off the top of the head stuff. Let them think about it.
Let them consult. What would be wrong with that?

Actually letting them have – let`s say, ten major serious questions ahead
of time and let the moderators come up with, you know, four or five or
whatever on the spot that they think add to this.

jumping back to your concept of singing.


PAWLENTY: When John –

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, governor, go ahead if you want to –


O`DONNELL: Enter these singing sweep stakes.

PAWLENTY: Well, I want to – I want to give you an insight that I think
might be valuable. And that is, when John Malon-Campos(ph) in Minneapolis
of the (INAUDIBLE) earlier this year, one of the local critics of his
performance which was very favorable said this:

He said, you can tell he didn`t just write those lyrics, he lived them.
And there`s a correlation between people who can talk about policy issues
in a way that`s personal because they`ve lived it or somebody close to them
has lived it.

And that`s not the only thing, but there`s an authenticity and a rawness
and a realness that comes with that.

And that`s, I think, part of the reason that people like Rubio and Cruz and
some others have a little more grit and realness to them.

As to your point, I think if you gave them canned questions ahead of time,
you`d get canned answers and you`d lose the spontaneity.

And regardless of the content or the substance of the spontaneity, it shows
wittiness, it shows ability to think quickly on your feet.

O`DONNELL: Who cares?! I don`t care –


O`DONNELL: How funny the President is, I don`t care.

PAWLENTY: Well, you want to have people who can inspire. And so you can -
- you`ve got to have people who cannot just be smart, but also who can

That`s part of leadership and some of those people on the stage last night
couldn`t do both.

O`DONNELL: Stuart Stevens, two things. One, do you agree with the
conventional wisdom scorecard of Rubio as the winner, Jeb Bush as the big

And then, well, I want you to – beyond that, tell me what happens to Rubio
or the good performers in the debate last night when you look at these

Like, let`s take a look at the latest “Cbs”-“New York Times” poll, latest
“Abc” poll. You know, Donald Trump in “Cbs”, the latest poll is at 22, Ben
Carson at 26, Marco Rubio 8, Jeb Bush 7.

As you go down the list, there`s actually not a lot of undecided there.
So, it seems to me, Marco Rubio, if he`s going to make a big gain – let`s
say, he takes away from Bush, he`s only going to take two points from Bush.

He`s going to have to take points from Ben Carson or from Donald Trump or
both. Do you see that happening?

wish that Governor Pawlenty was running this year and I wish he had been in
the debate last night.

I think he would have hit it out of the park. Look, I think that these
polls are fairly meaningless. I think when you call up somebody and ask
them who you`re supporting now, you don`t think about it a lot.

This is all about who`s going to win these first four states. The first
four states in my view function as basically playoffs.

And if you`re in second or third or fourth place in a state, say, like
Florida now, I don`t see why losing the first four states is going to
elevate you into serious contention.

So, I think it`s either – questions to be asking is, who`s going to win
Iowa? Who`s going to win New Hampshire? Who`s going to win South Carolina?
Who`s going to win Nevada?

O`DONNELL: All right, answer those – Stuart, answer those real quickly.
Who is going to win Iowa?


Go ahead.

STEVENS: I think probably – if I had to bet, Carson or Cruz will probably
win Iowa. New Hampshire, I think it`s a very cluttered landscape, I don`t
have a feel for it.

I think one of the realities here that we hadn`t focused on enough is the
difference in the calendar this year than the last two cycles.

We had the Iowa caucuses right after the first of the year in the last two
cycles. Nobody wants to focus on this on Christmas, it`s terrible.

Now, we have all of January. Iowa caucuses are February 1st. I think a
lot of people are really going to not start thinking about this seriously
until they wake up with hangovers after the first of the year.

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner does her best thinking –


O`DONNELL: With hangovers, it`s always worked for you –

STEVENS: Most of us do.

WAGNER: Clarity –

O`DONNELL: Tim Pawlenty, what do you – what do you see happening in New
Hampshire? I mean, I think we have – Iowa will go to whoever is that most
extreme conservative they can find.

But Stuart is confused about what happens – want to forget New Hampshire.
I think we all are.

PAWLENTY: Stuart is never confused, he`s a genius. But I think – again,
I agree with this analysis about Iowa, it probably trends towards Cruz or

But let me just suggest to you this again, I don`t think Trump or Carson
are necessarily going to be the nominees, and as those votes redistribute,
Carson is essentially a placeholder in large part for the faith-based vote.

Trump is in large part a placeholder for the Tea Party vote plus some other
enhancements. And as it gets redistributed, they`re likely to go to Cruz.

But I would also say there`s other candidates in the race who can stitch
together the two main constituencies within the Republican Party; the
grassroots conservative activists and the establishment.

And somebody – for example, just some example, Rubio may not be the grass-
root activists first choice, but he`s acceptable to them.

He`s a good second choice and he doesn`t scare the establishments, so he
can knit together that coalition and a few others could, too.

O`DONNELL: But Alex, today, everyone is forgetting that Marco Rubio has a
big problem on the immigration –


O`DONNELL: Issue with this base.

WAGNER: Right, and then the minute Marco Rubio was truly in contention –
I mean, Jeb Bush went after Marco Rubio on his attendance record, right?

Jeb Bush could have gone –


WAGNER: After Marco Rubio and said more – much more substantive point,
which is your priorities, your principles. Are you the man that you
propose to be?

You`ve done a 180 on something that`s so close to you and part of your
American story, which is immigration. And I think it`s just a matter of

If Rubio becomes a real threat, I mean, that`s his Achilles –


WAGNER: Heel and you will hear more of that.

O`DONNELL: And we`re going to have to take a break here. Tim Pawlenty,
thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Coming up, the Republican candidates all think that Hillary Clinton has
already won the Democratic presidential nomination.

And Rush Limbaugh thinks that Hillary Clinton has already won the



TRUMP: It has not been easy for me. And you know, I started off in
Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.


O`DONNELL: And since a million dollars is just a small loan to Alex Wagner
and Donald Trump, Stephen Colbert wants Donald Trump to make a small
donation to his favorite charity.


writing a million dollar check from Donald Trump to the charity of my
choice; the Harlem Children`s Zone.


It`s all filled out. It`s all filled out, even the memo line – no big


Now, Mr. Trump, all you have to do is come here and sign it, proving that a
million dollars really is a small amount of money. Who knows, the kids you
help might one day be so rich they can blow their cash on a presidential


O`DONNELL: Oh, and Donald, my favorite charity could use another million,
too, kids in need of desks, look it up, you`ll like it. Up next, who is
the Republican who has the best chance against Hillary Clinton?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A few tag, presumably by a lone Libyan pilot has
resulted in a massive movement of U.S. military might –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of alliteration from anxious Andrews, please,
give powerful pose –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both the attack on –


O`DONNELL: From his sofa last night, midway through the debate, comedian,
actor, writer, director Albert Brooks tweeted: “At the halfway point, I
think Hillary is winning.”

Maybe, that`s because in last night`s Republican debate, Hillary Clinton
had already won the Democratic nomination.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I know who the pessimist is, it`s
Hillary Clinton. And you put me on that stage against her next September,
she won`t get within ten miles of the White House. Take it to the bank.

RUBIO: I`m not running against anyone on the stage, I`m running for
president because there is no way we can elect Hillary Clinton to continue
the policies of Barack Obama –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, thank you senator –


BUSH: The middle class has $2,300 less in their pockets than the day that
Barack Obama got elected president. And now they say Hillary Clinton
proposing a third term of economic policy for our country.

We need to reverse that. And mine record was one of cutting taxes each and
every year.

Clinton`s worst nightmare. And in your heart of hearts, you cannot wait to
see a debate between Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina.


I will tell you this, I will beat Hillary Clinton.


O`DONNELL: This afternoon in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton said this
about last night`s debate.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I heard a lot of insults and a
lot of, you know, back and forth between the various candidates.

You would have been better off watching the World Series because the debate
in my view was a swing and a miss. And didn`t really further the national
conversation that we need to be having with each other.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Joe Klein, columnist for “Time Magazine” and
the author of the new book, “Charlie Mike: A True Story of Heroes Who
Brought Their Mission Home”.

Joe Klein, they are running as if Hillary already has this nomination. Who
looks like her most difficult challenge in the general election if she
does get the nomination?

be a combination of candidates from Florida and Ohio. If it were Rubio or
Bush and Kasich, I think that that`s a pretty formidable ticket.

But right now, Bush is where John Kerry was, you might remember at this
point in 2003, and Donald Trump and Ben Carson are playing the role of
Howard Dean.

So, I don`t know. I mean, I don`t know whether, you know, the planet wing
nut wing of the Republican Party is going to be dominant in the end.

If they are, then Hillary Clinton is your next president. But if they put
together a ticket of serious conservative governors like Bush and Kasich or
Rubio and Kasich, then I think they have a shot.

O`DONNELL: And Alex Wagner, the problem with serious Governor Bush is he`s
just not performing on the public stage of this campaign.

WAGNER: He is just not performing, period. I mean, Lawrence, I like that
we keep giving Bush this sort of open door. I`m not quite sure why?

O`DONNELL: I think it`s process of elimination because there`s too many
nuts up on the stage. And –

WAGNER: Well –


KLEIN: Right –

O`DONNELL: You get the nuts off the stage, there`s very few people left –

WAGNER: And he has the actual operation –


WAGNER: To execute, right? I mean –


WAGNER: Rubio is everyone`s favorite flavor this week because he had a
great debate performance. But when it comes to actual ground-gaming, Bush
is the actual person that could be in contention.

But he has been abysmal in his candidacy. I mean, he still can`t answer
the question of the Bush legacy. This is not a person who`s gotten better
with time, he`s gotten worse.

And yesterday was the coder to all of that. I mean, I agree with Joe. I
think if Kasich can get past the – you know, to the point where he`s
actually considered, sure.

But at this point, I think you`re going to see a primary process that is
radically different from the beginning to the end.

And the candidates who win the early primaries are not going to be the ones
who win the later primaries by a long stretch.

O`DONNELL: Stuart Stevens, insiders have been saying that on paper, John
Kasich would actually be the most difficult challenge for Hillary Clinton.

John Kasich is still saying that, although the polls aren`t supporting his
route to the nomination. How do you see it?

STEVENS: Listen, I think John Kasich is a very serious person who`s won in
a big state in a big way. So, is Chris Christie, who I think that you –

O`DONNELL: To do it all –

STEVENS: OK, who I think –

O`DONNELL: Come on, come on –

STEVENS: I think you`re wrong, the discount.


There`s only one candidate in this race who`s being investigated by the FBI
and that happens to be Hillary Clinton.

And we seem to think that`s not a problem. Look, I think one important
thing to remember is, two weeks ago or two and a half weeks ago, everybody
was sort of writing off Hillary Clinton.

She was in a trough, now, they`re saying she`s won the nomination and
nobody`s voted. That`s how politics works, you know?

You have a good night, you`re able to change the narrative and all of a
sudden everything starts working for you.

You have to give this process a chance. It`s going to be who can step up
in the big moments when people are really focused and making up their

And right now, I don`t think people are making up their minds. I think
that they`re shopping. Billions of dollars have been spent trying to get
people to do Christmas shopping early to a little effect.

I think this is going to change in January.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Marco Rubio said on “Good Morning America”
today. Hillary Clinton has a little video out there about her Benghazi
hearing where she`s shown humorously to be brushing off her shoulder.

Rubio doesn`t like that. Let`s listen to that.


RUBIO: I found it outrageous that she`s using video from a Benghazi
hearing. A hearing about the loss of four American lives – to put up
something trivial like her brushing something off her shoulder.

That was a serious hearing about a serious issue. As far as taking her on,
I can tell you this, if I`m our nominee, we`re going to be the party of the
future and the Democrats will be exposed as the party of big government
ideas from the past.


O`DONNELL: And Joe Klein, last night, Marco Rubio took the big Benghazi
shot at Hillary in the debate – sorry, Joe, so –

KLEIN: Yes, he – well, listen –


O`DONNELL: He chose Benghazi –

KLEIN: But you know, he has –


O`DONNELL: Most effective angle against her.

KLEIN: Lawrence, he`d have a – he`d have a point if the Benghazi hearing
were about the deaths of four Americans in that consulate and CIA station,
which is actually what it was, it was a CIA station.

But the hearing was about Sidney Blumenthal and about whether Hillary
Clinton slept alone that night at home. You know, it was a ridiculous

And you know, Marco Rubio – I`ve been out on the road with him and he`s
very effective when he talks about the economy.

He`s one of the few people out there who is talking about the economy as it
exists now and as it`s going to exist in the future and how we train people
for that economy.

But I got to say that when it comes to foreign policy, he is walking in the
steps of neo-conservatives you have been wrong about absolutely everything
to the last 15 years.

O`DONNELL: Joe, who isn`t on the Republican side?

KLEIN: Well, Rand Paul –


KLEIN: By the way, Ted Cruz is another one who is taking a much less
aggressive standpoint. And while I`m at it, let me just say this, Stuart
Stevens is exactly right.

If you ask the Ben Carson voters in Iowa, how firmly they are in their
voting? Seventy percent of them say they may change their minds. But then,
that`s the way things are in Iowa.

I have seen – this is my 11th Iowa – God help me – and I`ve seen the
thing, you know, change over the in-take of a single breath.

O`DONNELL: So Alex, who do the Democrats want to win the Republican

WAGNER: Donald Trump –

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump –

WAGNER: I mean, without question. Like absolutely –


WAGNER: A thousand – they`ll sell – they`ll sell the make America great
hats –


WAGNER: Again make America great hats to just further the Donald Trump
campaign as long as possible. Like he would be an incredible opponent for
Hillary Clinton.

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, Stuart Stevens, thank you both for joining us

STEVENS: Thank you –

O`DONNELL: Coming up, why Rush Limbaugh thinks John Boehner has handed the
presidency to Hillary Clinton.


O`DONNELL: Rush Limbaugh is not happy. I know that`s not news. But now
he says that John Boehner`s bi-partisan budget deal pretty much hands the
presidency to Hillary Clinton.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: So, how does the budget deal pave the
way for Hillary Clinton? Folks, it is real simple. Over half of any
Republican candidate`s campaign arsenal has just been neutered.

The Republican Party cannot campaign by running around blaming the
Democrats for destroying the budget, for overspending, for threatening the
very fabric economically of the country. They cannot do it. This is the
republican budget deal that Barack Obama cannot wait to sign.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, the Davids. David Frum, Senior Editor for “The
Atlantic” and David Corn, The Washington Bureau Chief for “Mother Jones”
and an MSNBC Political Analyst. David Corn, does Rush Limbaugh have a

POLITICAL ANALYST: No. His assumption here is that republicans running in
November 2016 will be honor bound by facts. I do not think so. They are
calling Hillary Clinton a big government, big taxing liberal spending
socialist, radical, maybe even a secret Muslim as well.

I mean you saw that last night at the debate, what happens in reality is
not going to change what they say. I mean, last night – I mean, you know,
we could document literally dozens of statements that were completely

They were repeating even things that have been fact checked years ago. So,
I do not think he has to worry about Republicans sticking to the facts when
they are trying to attack Hillary Clinton, the Democrats, in 2016.

O`DONNELL: All right. Let us let Rush Limbaugh continue to make his
point. He had a little bit more to say about what republicans thought they
were getting out of this deal. Let us listen to this.


LIMBAUGH: Republicans are looking at it as though they are taking
themselves totally out of any political risk circumstance.

And, that may be, but the way they did it was to essentially act like
democrats in putting together this budget.

When you cannot go after the democratic presidential nominee for who she is
and what she will do and why you do not want that to happen because you
have already made sure it will happen, what in the world are you going to
campaign against her on?


O`DONNELL: David Frum, Bernie Sanders has said, he is in favor of this.
Hillary Clinton, presumably in favor of this budget deal. She gets to say,
“Yes, I am in favor of the deal that Paul Ryan agreed to and voted on.”

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR FOR “THE ATLANTIC”: The election is now almost
exactly a year away. The budget crises and the threats of default in 2013,
those are ancient memories. But, if the government were to close, now, if
there were to be a crisis for American credit, if checks were to stop
issuing, that would be a comparatively fresh memory a year from now, and
that would be disastrous.

Republicans will have ample opportunity to make a very sharp distinction
against Hillary Clinton. They are going to be talking about the whole
future direction of government spending as more and more of the baby
boomers retire. The 1958 is the peak year of the baby boom.

And, those workers are going to be coming in the next while to retirement,
to social security and Medicare. And, the defense of their interest is
going to be a crucial dividing line between the two parties.

But, I think the ultimate answer to Rush Limbaugh is to say, republicans
will be making a terrible mistake if they run on the abstract issue of the
size of government. Most people do not know how big government is and they
do not really care. What they care about is what government does and who
it does it for. And, the parties are going to have ample contrast on that

O`DONNELL: Rand Paul last night in the debate said he promised he is going
to filibuster this budget deal today in Washington. He did exactly that
for a grand total of 18 minutes. Let us listen to some of that.


RAN PAUL, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It disappoints me greater than I can
possibly express that the party that I belong to, that should be the
conservative party does not appear to be conservative. In the house they
voted on this yesterday.

You know what the vote was? 2-1 among republicans to say this is a God
awful deal and we should not touch it with a 10-foot pole. It is a
terrible deal. It is irresponsible. It shows a lack of concern for our
country and for the debt. And, it should go down in defeat.


O`DONNELL: David Corn, we had a right to expect Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco
Rubio out there on the senate floor today fighting this thing, dragging it
out for hours, or whatever they can possibly do. That did not happen.

CORN: It is like he is running a movie called, “Honey, I shrunk my
campaign.” I mean he is on the national stage thing, “I will filibuster
this,” and it is 18 minutes.

O`DONNELL: Uh-huh.

CORN: I think that they understand at some level the point that the other
David was just making, that if you have a government shutdown, if you have
a – you know, a financial crisis because of a debt ceiling is not raised,
it really is bad for whoever the republican nominee is, let alone
republicans running for re-election next year from the house and the

There has to be some degree of sanity amongst the Republican Party, they
saw that. John Boehner certainly knew that. And, he had to give up his
job to save the republicans from themselves in this point.

But, he nobly did that and, you know – and basically took that tough task
away from Paul Ryan. So, you know, I think democrats out there, you know,
while they like the deal, probably do not like the fact that this saved
republicans from themselves.

O`DONNELL: OK, up next, Paul Ryan has spent half a day as speaker of the
house and the Tea Party has not yet tried to overthrow him.




PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) HOUSE SPEAKER: Please join me in saying one last time,
thank you, Speaker Boehner.



O`DONNELL: And, if my count is correct, that is actually the first time
the house of representatives has thanked Speaker Boehner. Paul Ryan won
the speakership today with the support of all but nine republicans. John
Boehner`s final act as speaker was cleaning out the barn for Paul Ryan.


JOHN BOEHNER, (R) FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I did not want him to walk into a
dirty barn full of you know what.


O`DONNELL: And, so yesterday, John Boehner pushed an agreement through the
house to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling through March 2017.
Every democrat in the house, 187 of them voted for that deal. Only 79
house republicans voted for it, including Paul Ryan. 167 republicans
opposed it, as did all of the Republican presidential candidates.


JEB BUSH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Did you see the recent deal
announced today or yesterday. More spending, more tax increasing, more



RAND PAUL, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the unholy alliance that
people need to know about between right and left. Right and left are
spending us into oblivion. We should use the debt ceiling as precisely
designed to force upon them budgetary reform.



TED CRUZ, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, this deal in Washington is an
example of why Washington is broken. Republican leadership joined with
every single democrat to add $80 trillion to our debt to do nothing to fix
the problems.


O`DONNELL: He could not possibly have meant $80 trillion to the debt.
But, even if Ted Cruz meant $80 billion, he is still wrong. The
independent congressional budget office officially estimates that the
budget deal will add exactly zero to the deficit.

Back with us, David Frum and David Corn. David Corn, this new speakership
has had one half day of peace, at least. How many more?

CORN: Well, the day is not quite over yet.


O`DONNELL: That is right.

CORN: But, let us assume that Paul Ryan made it to bed safely tonight. I
mean, as I said earlier, Speaker Boehner did a – you know, ex-Speaker
Boehner did a tremendous job in cleaning out the “You know what” for Paul
Ryan, because he was about to walk into a thrasher on this.

So, the issue is, what is going to be the next, you fight in which the tea
party, freedom caucus is going to dig their heels in and say, “Our way or
the highway?” “Is it going to be Planned Parenthood funding?” I do not
know. But, you know, they cannot shut down the government or threaten the
debt crisis – a debt crisis for a year, a year and a half, you know, maybe
two years even in some way.

So, it gives Ryan some running room here. And, the house is not really
spending a lot of time in session in the next few months. So, maybe they
can all rest up and figure out how to have good fights come January.

O`DONNELL: David Frum, a pretty messy way for republicans to get something
done in the house. First, the speaker announces his resignation, then on
the way out the door, he slips something through with democratic votes.

FRUM: Well, it is not as messy, but always looks messy. But, at this
time, it is a little less messy. Because the deal that brought Ryan to
power also cuts away a lot of the power of the caucus to give trouble to
the speaker.

Paul Ryan will be a much more powerful speaker than Speaker Boehner was.
There is going to be no challenges to his rule. There cannot be vote
against him. And, that this area of crisis, as David Corn said, as you
have said, has been removed.

I think we are also going to move – and I hesitate to make predictions
because they so often turned out to be wrong and then you look foolish, and
they are on videotape. But let me try one, which is I think we are going
to –

O`DONNELL: All right, we are going to save this videotape, go ahead.


FRUM: We are going to move into an era in which the political issues are
going to change. And, Tea Party and freedom caucus divide is going to
become less relevant. We are going to moving into an era as the American
economy expands. There is going to be less budget pressure. The deficits
will be shrinking.

And, the kind of uncertainty when the government will be able to pay its
Medicare and Social Security bills, that is going to retreat a little bit.
The divide that is going to open under Speaker Ryan will be a divide. The
next big internal battle is going to be the battle over immigration, either
in this administration or the next.

And, that is going to cleave the Republican Party in new ways. The Tea
Party and the freedom caucus are split. There are very ideological
libertarian members of the freedom caucus, who are for the – basically,
the Obama approach to immigration.

And, there are some people who are less libertarian and economic issues are
going to be more concerned. And, as Donald Trump has demonstrated, this
question which is so connected to middle class and just living is an
explosive one within the Republican Party and maybe not just within the
Republican Party.

O`DONNELL: But, David Corn, Paul Ryan has promised his republicans, “Do
not worry, I will not put you through any votes on immigration until we
have the next president at the earliest.

CORN: Yes. I mean that creates some breathing room, and even then I do
not know what they are going to be able to get votes on other than building
Donald Trump`s wall, whether he is president or not. I mean – I think
there maybe some National Security issues that will come up in the next
couple of months that could actually divide republicans and democrat as we
have seen in the past.

And, there will be appropriation fights starting early next year. But for
now, Ryan, you know, has some ability here to sort of sit down with other
leaders of congress including the Democrats and try to find of some areas
of agreement. But, you know, will the Tea Party people just insist that he
puts up Obamacare repeal again and again for votes or not.

I mean it remains to be seen what type of political player he can be. We
know where he is on policy and he is put forward budgets in the past that
have really been hard on social programs, have been very good for wealthy
taxpayers. But, how he acts as a political player at the top of Capitol
Hill, there is no way of knowing.

O`DONNELL: The Davids, Corn and Frum. Thank you both very much for
joining me tonight.

FRUM: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it.

CORN: Sure thing.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Bernie Sanders versus Hillary Clinton on the death
penalty. Guess which one of them is in favor of it and which one opposes
the death penalty.




HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a lot of evidence now
that the death penalty has been too frequently applied and very
unfortunately often times in a discriminatory way. So, I think we have to
take a hard look at it.

I do no favor abolishing it, however, because I think there are certain
egregious cases that still deserve the consideration of the death penalty.
But, I would like to see those be very limited and rare as oppose to what
we have seen in some states.


O`DONNELL: That was Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire yesterday. Today,
Bernie Sanders went to the senate floor and said this –


BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe the time is now for
the United States to end capital punishment. Now, I know this is not
necessarily a popular point of view, but it is in my view the right point
of view.

Right now, virtually every western industrialized country has chosen to end
capital punishment. I would rather have our country stand side by side
with European democracies, rather than with countries like China, Iran,
Saudi Arabia and others, who maintain the death penalty.


O`DONNELL: Coming up, Joe Klein and his inspiring book “Charlie Mike.”



TED CRUZ (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 10 percent flat rate –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: We are going to go to Governor Kasich now.

CRUZ: – is the lowest personal rate any candidate up here has and what it
would also enable us to do is for every citizen to fill out their taxes on
a postcard, so we can eliminate the IRS.


O`DONNELL: Tax historian, Joe Thorndike, tweeted “Fun fact: Nation`s first
income tax deadline was June 30, 1862. Nobody paid because no federal
agency existed to collect.”

One month later, Republican President Abraham Lincoln signed the second
revenue act of 1862, which created the office of commissioner of the
internal revenue.

Within six months, what was then called the bureau of internal revenue had
nearly 4,000 employees. And, that year collected more than $39 million in
taxes. Joe Klein joins us next.


O`DONNELL: NBC`s Tom Brokaw, the author of “The Greatest Generation” says
this about “Charlie Mike,” Joe Klein`s new book. “Joe Klein has done us a
national service, telling the inspirational stories of vets from the Iraq
and Afghanistan wars, who returned home.

And, as civilians continued their dedication to country and people in need.
This is the can-do generation and this book honors their nonstop
citizenship.” Joe Klein is back with us. Joe, explain the title “Charlie

JOE KLEIN, AUTHOR OF “CHARLIE MIKE” BOOK: Well, “Charlie Mike” in military
radio code means “Continue the mission.” And, this is a book about two
veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, who continued their mission when they
came home and started brilliant public service organizations that have
saved lives and really are in a way an example for the rest of us.

O`DONNELL: And, one of the things about the spirit of real military
commitment, real commitment to that service is in my experience and the
people I have known in it, it is never a commitment to yourself. It is
always a commitment to others. The team, the people you are serving. In
this case, possibly people in Afghanistan you are serving, but it is always
a commitment to others.

KLEIN: Well, yes, I would not have written this book if I had not gone
over there and embedded with our troops and watched them try to govern
these towns under hellish circumstances and to provide public works in
these towns under hellish circumstances.

And, I had this idea that if they can do that over there, maybe they are
going to come back here and do it as well – And it is interesting. When
you say about commitment to others and being a part of something larger
than yourself is something I learned about during the course of this book.

You hear an awful lot about posttraumatic stress and the other problems
that veterans are having. And, what I have discovered is that
posttraumatic stress is not only about the things that you saw and did over
there. It is about coming home and losing the community that you had over

The sense of purpose that you had over there. The brothers and sisters
that you had over there. You come back to this country where nothing is
asked of you. You know? Politicians talk an awful lot about our rights
and our opportunities. But they do not talk so much about our
responsibilities as citizens.

And, these kids, every last one of whom volunteered for service, every last
one of them come back with a sense of responsibility. Over 90 percent of
them according to the surveys, want to continue serving in their
communities. And, I think we got a lot to learn from them.

O`DONNELL: And, Joe, you focus on the personal stories of two individuals,
Eric Greitens, who is a Navy S.E.A.L., Jake Wood, who is a Marine Sergeant,
and they talk about – you reveal how they missed – once they were back
here, they missed these feelings, these Russians you could get from the
positive things that they were doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

KLEIN: Well, Eric Greitens, who is a Navy S.E.A.L. is a stone
humanitarian. Probably, the only Navy S.E.A.L, who ever worked for Mother
Teresa. And , when he visited wounded troops at Bethesda Naval Hospital, I
have had similar experiences, he asked them what they wanted to do next.

And, they said, “I want to go back to my unit. And, if you cannot do that?
I want to become a little league coach or go to work in my community in
some way.” And, Eric came up with four words that are really important to
tell veterans in addition to thank you for your service. He said, “We
still need you.”

Jake is sitting on his couch in Los Angeles and he sees the Haiti
earthquake and he calls up a bunch of his marine buddies and they get on a
plane, add some doctors to their team and within four days, they are
running the largest emergency room in the largest hospital in Port-Au-
Prince. And, I asked Jake, how on earth did you manage to do that? He
said, “I am a marine. I do chaos.”

O`DONNELK l: Yes, it is what Tom Brokaw was talking about when he talks
about this book, that can-do, that ability to just keep getting things
done. And, you know what? One of my uncles was a general World War II,
Korean War, Vietnam. And, at the end of his career, he ended up in one of
those civilian jobs, with executive jobs.

And, I went and visited him. He took me around the factory of the company
he was working with. He was not in service anymore. And, it was very
conscious of that. Yes, he was working with his company. He had an
income, but he really did not have the feeling that he wanted to have.

KLEIN: Well, I have been out on service project, where the mission
continues and on deployments with Team Rubicon, which does disaster relief.
And, I got to say that it is incredibly exhilarating to do.

And, you know, the more the rest of us take a lesson from this and the more
the rest of us figure out ways to seriously serve our country, I think the
stronger our democracy is going to be. Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Joe, I am actually off to get some of that exhilaration next
week in Africa. I am going to tell the audience about it.

KLEIN: Good for you.

O`DONNELL: Joe Klein, thank you very much for joining us tonight. As I
said, I am going to be off to Africa next week to work on our project of
providing desks for school in Malawi. You can help us by going to

And, while I am over there, I will try to tweet some pictures of the kids
at their new desks. The desks that you have paid for. I will be able to
do that whenever I am in range of a cell signal, which is not very often.
And, I will be back in time for the next republican presidential debate.
Chris Hayes is up next.


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