The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 12/15/2015

Stuart Stevens, Maria Teresa Kumar, Steve Schmidt, Jonathan Dienst, Jonathan Alter, Mia Bloom, Casey Dolan

Date: December 15, 2015
Guest: Stuart Stevens, Maria Teresa Kumar, Steve Schmidt, Jonathan Dienst,
Jonathan Alter, Mia Bloom, Casey Dolan

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we will see you again
tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good
evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Well, it`s certainly a surprise
to me, Rachel.

MADDOW: Yes, it couldn`t be –


Here to help.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: There are nine debaters on the stage at the fifth Republican
presidential debate tonight, but most of that first hour isolated Marco
Rubio versus Ted Cruz in what could be the real battle for the Republican
presidential nomination.

And while they were at it, Donald Trump managed to demonstrate that he
doesn`t know what the internet actually is.

Joining us now, Stuart Stevens, a columnist for – joining us now Stuart
Stevens, a columnist for “The Daily Beast” and former chief strategist for
Mitt Romney`s presidential campaign.

Also with us, Steve Schmidt, Republican strategist and Msnbc political
analyst, and Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino and host
of “CHANGING AMERICA” on shift by Msnbc.

Stuart, let`s start with you. Your reactions to that first hour?

STUART STEVENS, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: I thought it was a terrible debate
for Donald Trump, you`re right, he doesn`t understand what the internet is.

He seems to think that you can go around and unplug it from different
places. He`s a ridiculous figure and the more this goes on, I think the
more ridiculous he looks.

I thought that Chris Christie did well, I wish he got in the talk more, I
think that he presents some self – a sort of a sane candidate of strength.

And if this –


STEVENS: Becomes a choice between who is the stronger candidate on
questions of national security, he has the fact that he`s not a member of
Congress, it distinguishes himself.

And in the Cruz versus Rubio, I just think Cruz is tremendously unlikable
person. And Rubio, I think is someone you`re drawn to. You like Rubio.
He seems to know what he`s talking about.

And he has a command of the moment much more so than Cruz.

O`DONNELL: We couldn`t be luckier to have Stuart Stevens who ran the last
Republican presidential campaign and now Steve Schmidt who ran the
Republican presidential campaign before that, John McCain`s campaign.

Steve, you and Stuart have been there, you`ve been in those debate halls,
you`ve been there in debate prep with candidates going into these things.

What`s your scorecard on that first hour?

STATES REPUBLICAN PARTY: Look, I think that one of the things that`s
starting to play out now in the race is the narrowing of the field to three
distinct brackets.

We have Donald Trump, his poll numbers continue to move upwards, now over
40 percent in a number of national polls, Ted Cruz has emerged I think as
the ideological candidate in this race.

No one is two Ted Cruzs right? He has come up over Donald Trump in Iowa, he
can certainly win one of these early states. And then I think right now
there`s the third bracket, and that`s the establishment bracket.

What`s driving the ballot for Republican primary voters in this election is
strength. And so, you saw Jeb Bush tonight. This was Jeb Bush`s best

But if these numbers don`t move for Jeb Bush after this debate, it means
his campaign is effectively over. Chris Christie, very good tonight.

Chris Christie in New Hampshire is moving up in the numbers, and Chris
Christie has to be able to take market share from John Kasich to be able to
collapse those numbers.

Take a point or two out of Carly Fiorina, and Christie and Rubio, there`s
only room for one of them as this race starts to narrow into the Trump
bracket, the Cruz bracket.

It`s either going to be Rubio or Christie, I suspect, hanging out in that
third position as this race starts to go deep.

O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, your reaction to that first hour?

KUMAR: I think Steve is absolutely right. You`re actually seeing the
three different parts of the Republican Party.

What I found interesting though is that Jeb, not only did he come out
fighting but he also made sense and he was clear and it was very clear that
the person that is on the losing end of this tonight right now is Donald

The fact that the applause, every single time someone attacked Donald Trump
and there was applause that broke out into the theater also signals that
perhaps he`s not as the frontrunner any longer.

The fact that Rubio and Cruz went toe-to-toe, and I believe that Rubio came
out on top only makes him more stronger.

And then finally, when you look at – you actually look at Fiorina, she`s
having a bit of a tough time actually catching her footing.

She`s not doing as well as she did in the first two debates and I think
that she is trying to up her way in, but she`s just not being able to
provide that ability and that space that she needs.

And Carson, the one that is flailing right now unfortunately is Carson.
When he was asked a direct question of whether or not he would feel badly
if children were killed when we were doing warfare against ISIS.

He didn`t say no, and I think that really takes a testament to really where
he stands and the lack of depth that he has on when it comes to engaging in

The fact that he could have to have a stance when he was asked how he
should react to the patriot war when that – when you had that little tiff
between Cruz and Rubio, he doesn`t know.

Again, it shows a lack of his own lack of credentials when it comes to
international affairs.

O`DONNELL: Jeb Bush`s big moments were at the beginning where he called
Donald Trump a chaos candidate, and then he – that he would be a chaos

He then had a big line, a big reaction in the hall anyway, which doesn`t
mean much because the voters are not in the hall.

Got a big cheer when Bush said you`re not going to be able to insult your
way to the presidency. Stuart, can Bush somehow save his campaign tonight?

STEVENS: I don`t think he can save it tonight, but I think that the path
for Jeb Bush is to show strength by attacking the person who is seen as

This is – this is a bar room fight, you walk into the bar, you find the
biggest guy and you hit him. And you don`t expect to take him down with
one punch, but you hit him again.

You don`t do it like Ted Cruz, which is you try to be friends with the
person. People are drawn to the shark, not the pilot fish. And you`ve got
to go in there and show strength.

So, I think this is good for Jeb Bush to do, he ought to keep doing it and
you`ve got to just put Donald Trump under pressure.

Pressure and see how he responds. You know if you`ve ever watched Twitter
or anything, the guy responds to everything –



STEVENS: I mean, if you`re a 14-year-old in a basement in Moscow, you
could start a nuclear war with this guy if he was president.

So, I think that you have to just keep at it. And what I have been baffled
by is why no one has turned to Donald Trump and looked him in the eye and
said Donald, you are a ridiculous candidate for president and see how he

O`DONNELL: Steve, to Stuart`s point about going at Donald Trump, the
energy issue comes up. His favorite term, the energy issue.

We saw Bush go after Trump, but he did it with that half-hearted energy
that Trump talks about. If you look at the energy that Marco Rubio was
throwing at Ted Cruz and the energy that Ted Cruz was throwing back at
Rubio, that was a real fight.

That was – each one of those guys was trying as hard as they could in that
moment to take down the other. We don`t see anybody try to hit Donald
Trump the way Marco Rubio was trying to hit Ted Cruz.

SCHMIDT: No, certainly not. And look, Stuart is exactly right. The way
that you engage Donald Trump is through the aspects of his personality that
have been dominant in this race, and that`s the narcissism.

You hit him in the ego. You go after him through the prism of laughter,
you mock him, you make fun of him. And that`s how you put him under

You don`t directly engage him on substance. Very clearly, as we watch this
play out over the last couple of months, the one thing that should be very
clear is there`s severability between conservatism and issues.

People want strength in this race. And so the way that you have to go at
him is not by having a superior policy position. Or say hey, I have a
white paper on that subject.

And so none of these candidates has engaged Donald Trump in quite the right
way. But for all of these candidates, right, who are, you know, very close
to being eliminated functionally from the race as these – as these
brackets start to narrow, this is a contest of strength.

Are they going to be able to show the strength necessary to fill
essentially the third space in what`s going to become a three bracket race
as we come out of New Hampshire and start heading south.

O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, there are polls indicating in the one-on-one
matchups, Hillary Clinton with the Republicans, and these are, we can all
agree, far-fetched polls because they`re so far off in the future.

Marco Rubio does best against Hillary Clinton in the most recent version of
that one-on-one matchup poll.

Is that what you saw tonight that if you were looking at that from the
Clinton campaign perspective that the person you do not want to see emerge
from this field is Marco Rubio.

KUMAR: He is the one that is the most stayed, he is the one that if you –
when you – even when they were engaging with him on the immigration issue,
he`s the one that`s been best to navigate it.

He is the one again that has the most – I think gravitas at the end of the
day. But let`s go back to a little bit of what this idea that Cruz engaged
too early with Trump, trying to befriend him.

The reason that Cruz did that in my opinion is because he is trying to make
sure that he gets the windfall of the supporters of Trump, what Trump

And he recognizes that the only way to do that is to make sure that there
is no light shining between them, and that`s why he had such trouble behind
closed doors.

He was mocking Trump and he realize – oh, people saw that. Again, it`s
because he needs the Donald Trump supporters in order to have a shot at the
White House.

O`DONNELL: What about that Stuart? I mean, that`s what everyone has been
saying, is that the reason not to take the real hard shot at Trump and say
that you are ridiculous is that you`re saying to 27 percent or 30 percent
of the Republican electorate that you people who support him are

STEVENS: Listen, I think that – I think it`s completely wrong the way to
look at it personally. Picture in your mind every prison movie you`ve ever
seen or prisoner of war movie you`ve ever seen.

This is about who is the tough guy on the yard. And you don`t get to be
the tough guy on the yard by being nice to the tough guy on the yard.

You have to go out there and you have to knock that person out and show
that you`re stronger. Then those people who were loyal to the tough guy
will then be loyal to you.


KUMAR: But Stuart, I think – but Stuart, I think that this is where we
have to actually have a conversation on race.

Cruz can`t do that to Trump because the majority of his supporters are not
necessarily embracing Cruz as a Hispanic, but as a tea partier.

So, if he were to do that, then all of a sudden, folks would actually see
him as being defensive to the very core of what a lot of the Trump
supporters are.

And if we don`t actually discuss that dynamic between Cruz and Trump, they
were actually missing, I think, a lot of the bigger picture.

STEVENS: Listen, I think that you have to acknowledge that Donald Trump is
toxic for the Republican Party. He`s losing to Hillary Clinton by double

And I hope that when Republicans vote they`re going to acknowledge that.
He`s losing now by double digits in Iowa. I don`t think he`s going to win
New Hampshire.

I don`t think he`s going to win a primary, but I could be wrong about that.
But I think that the way to beat Donald Trump is not by being nice to him,
it`s to beat him.

To prove that he`s wrong, to prove that he`s not a serious candidate. Now,
Jeb, as you say has the right words, but he needs to be more
confrontational about it.

He needs to get in his face more. And I think Ted Cruz`s whole – I`m just
going to – you know, feed the alligator in hopes that he`ll eat me last.


To me, it`s just – it`s the wrong approach and it won`t work.

KUMAR: That`s right –

O`DONNELL: All right –

KUMAR: That`s the picture –

O`DONNELL: No one is going to top that line, so we`re going to just leave
it right there and go to a break. Steve Schmidt, Maria Teresa Kumar, thank
you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

Now a talk about the idea of a brokered convention, Stuart Stevens is going
to come back, Mitch McConnell says he doesn`t think it will happen.

That`s one of the things we`re going to be discussing coming up. Also,
Hillary Clinton laid out her plan to fight ISIS today, we`ll take a look at
the details to see if she has come up with anything different from what
we`re already doing.

And it was the threat of terror that forced the shutdown of all schools –
all public schools in Los Angeles today. Investigation of that coming up.


O`DONNELL: Lindsey Graham was not impressed with Mike Huckabee`s responses
on fighting ISIS in the earlier debate.


MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: If they`re going to come in here
to kill us, they`re not going to say yes, and I`m coming to kill you.

They`re going to lie about it. Anybody that will kill you for God`s sake
will lie to you. So, that`s why I say it`s impractical.

I still believe that if you take away their ability to fund their weaponry
and to fund their terrorism, they don`t have terrorism.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, once again you`re shaking your head, Senator
Graham –


O`DONNELL: A little head-shaking there. Coming up, Hillary Clinton
explains her plan to fight ISIS.



FBI has determined this is not a credible threat, something we couldn`t
have announced earlier in the day.

And I want to be very careful because that does not mean that it`s
conclusively one thing or another yet. Some have used words that I think
are probably inappropriate like hoax and other things.

Whether it`s criminal mischief, whether it`s somebody testing
vulnerabilities of multiple cities, we still do not know enough to say

What we do know is that it will be safe for our children to return to
school tomorrow.


O`DONNELL: The good news they`ll be going back to school. Students in the
Los Angeles Unified School District will return to class tomorrow after an
e-mail threat shut down every public school in Los Angeles today.

The district`s superintendent made the decision in light of the nearby San
Bernardino massacre less than two weeks ago.

A similar e-mail threatened attacks against New York City public schools,
but classes there weren`t canceled.

This morning, New York City police say they worked with the FBI and
determined that the threat wasn`t credible and they`re investigating the e-
mail as a hoax.

Joining us now, Andrew Blankstein; Nbc News investigative reporter and
former “Los Angeles Times” reporter.

Here with us in New York, Jonathan Dienst; an Nbc News contributing
correspondent and WNBC chief investigative reporter.

Jonathan, is there a time difference in terms of how much time New York had
to deal with this threat? Did they have more time to analyze it or less
time to analyze it than L.A. had?

more time.

NYPD became aware of this around 6:00 this morning, but because of what`s
in the letter, they quickly determined that it was not credible.

The writer says there are 138 fellow high school Jihadists who are armed
with rifles, bombs, hand grenades, gas, and we`re going to attack every
school in this city.

A similar threat was made in the Los Angeles letter, not as many high
school Jihadists, they said just 32 in that letter. So the NYPD quickly in
consultation with the FBI decided this is most likely a –

O`DONNELL: Do we know actually what time they made this decision in New
York? Because they didn`t go public with it until after L.A. went public,

Were they – was it possible that maybe New York wasn`t going to say
anything about it until L.A. went public?

DIENST: Look, the New York City Police Department gets three to five of
these kinds of letters and threats to schools a week.

That`s 115-plus a year. And 75 to 80 percent are deemed not credible right
off the bat, given what`s in the letter, where it comes from, what their
best assessment is.

So they put the letter that was received today in that 75 to 85 percent of
instant, not credible based on what was in the letter and the extraordinary
claims that were being made.

Then around 9:00 Eastern, that`s when the NYPD and L.A. got together about
the two letters, but certainly by 6:00 a.m. or so before New York City
schools open.

The NYPD and the FBI were in the process of making the determination of we
don`t think there`s much here.

O`DONNELL: Andrew, it`s fascinating to watch the way things unfolded in
L.A. today, having had a child in the L.A. public school system.

She was able to actually walk to school from my house, but – so in my
case, that would have been a relatively easy thing to deal with today, but
for most parents in that system, this was chaotic.

They had to change their work days to figure out how to handle the
situation with their children. And watching the reaction in L.A., there
seems to be some kind of reaction saying that, you know, at a certain point
it became unclear to me what people were hoping for.

Like they were hoping to discover that it was a real threat so that there
was a real reason to do all this today.

And if we discover that there wasn`t a real threat, we should somehow be
unhappy about discovering that it wasn`t a real threat.

this mad scramble because everything is choreographed, you have traffic and
getting to work and then to find out that all those plans go out the

Obviously, traffic gets worse and worse every year, you have to find a
place for your kids to be, a safe place. And so that`s the first thought
that goes through everybody`s head.

I mean, one of the things that happened is, as we referenced earlier, this
threat was discovered out here in L.A. at about 10:00 last night.

So it was being worked by local, state and federal law enforcement
authorities. At some point early in the morning, the superintendent of
schools for the L.A. Unified School District has to make the call.

They have to decide whether those buses start rolling, and they`ve been
given a certain set of information.

And they want – in Superintendent Cortinez`s(ph) case, he wants a certain
measure of certainty that those students are going to be safe.

Now, while law enforcement people that I talked to said that they thought
that it wasn`t a credible threat for the superintendent of schools – he
wanted more certainty, and that was why the decision was made ultimately to
close all the schools.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, do you have any indication of whether New York – I
mean, I`m getting the impression New York deals with more of these threats
than L.A.

Do we know how many L.A. deals with?

DIENST: I don`t have the L.A. number, I told you it`s about 115-plus, just
school threats in New York City.


O`DONNELL: Andrew, do we have an L.A. number comparable to that?

BLANKSTEIN: No, you know, one of the things that they did, you know, I
don`t know if you recall that there was a spate of celebrity swatting cases
where people would call up and say that there was someone being held
hostage at a celebrity`s house or a shooting –

O`DONNELL: Right –

DEINST: Then SWAT teams would show up. Well, one of the things that the
LAPD did and the other law enforcement agencies have followed suit was to
not publicize those cases.

So when cases of bomb threats – unless it`s a lot of people showing up,
and then the news kind of follows that, they tend not to publicize those

You know, there is several – in fact, one of the schools in Manhattan
beach, Mira Costa High School this week had three bomb threats and the last
one, then they closed schools.

O`DONNELL: Andrew Blankstein and Jonathan Dienst, thank you both for
joining me today, really appreciate it. Coming up, Hillary Clinton has an
answer to Ted Cruz`s carpet bombing plan.



enemies just as we have defeated those who`ve threatened us in the past.

Because it is not enough to contain ISIS. We must defeat ISIS, break its
momentum and then its back.


O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton gave a speech today on her ideas about how to
fight ISIS. Not surprisingly, it did not include anything that President
Obama isn`t already doing.


CLINTON: We need a comprehensive strategy to counter each step in the
process that can lead to an attack like the one in San Bernardino.

First, we have to shut down ISIS recruitment in the United States,
especially online. Second, stop would-be Jihadists from getting training
overseas and stop foreign terrorists from coming here.

Third, discover and disrupt plots before they can be carried out. Fourth,
support law enforcement officers who risk their lives to prevent and
respond to attacks.

And fifth, empower our Muslim-American communities who are on the
frontlines of the fight against radicalization.



O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Mia Bloom, Professor of communication at
Georgia State University and the author of the book “Dying to Kill: The
Allure of Suicide Terror”.

Also back with us, Jonathan Altar, Msnbc political analyst. Jonathan, I
did not hear anything there that we know how to do that we`ve ever been
successful at doing or that we aren`t trying to do already.

JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: That`s true. And I think that`s
why Democrats are a little bit on the defensive right now.

O`DONNELL: Yes, but I haven`t heard any such thing from a Republican –


O`DONNELL: Either –


O`DONNELL: Other than –


Carpet bombing which –

ALTER: The Republicans have no alternative.


ALTER: And they don`t want ground troops. If they were all for ground
troops, then we would have a real debate.

O`DONNELL: Lindsey Graham would be calling –

ALTER: Lindsey, yes –

O`DONNELL: Above one percent –

ALTER: Lindsey Graham, but that`s not the position of all these squabbling

O`DONNELL: Right –

ALTER: So, the advantage that the Democrats have is that Hillary and the
President sound like adults – they sound like children.

The advantage that the Republicans have is that Democrats are not
responding robustly enough to the fears of the American people.

And the American people sense correctly that what we`ve been doing has not
been working, and have been looking for some kind of a change in strategy,
and they`re not finding it.

So somehow there`s a little bit of tone-deafness that`s going on here. You
know, everything she says sounds good. It`s adult, it`s necessary, but

O`DONNELL: And, you know, it just sounds to me like you got to say
something, so we`ll just say the same old stuff that we –

ALTER: Right –

O`DONNELL: Always say. Professor Bloom, did you hear anything in there
that you think will work or am I short-changing this thing?

mean, part of the problem is on the one hand, Hillary Clinton is saying
carpet bombing and bombing until the desert glows is ridiculous. But on
the other hand, she is advocating some of the same policies just, it is a
matter of degree. The only person I have heard say what I believe to be
true is John Kasich, who says we need to get rid of Assad.

I think we need to extinguish what is ultimately the main motivator for
ISIS and these groups, because this is the flame that has fuelled the fire.
It is not radicalization as we understand it. So, my concern is that we
are looking at the wrong issue.

O`DONNELL: Let us listen to what Bernie Sanders said about fighting ISIS


believe is that we have got to lead the world in forming an international
coalition, a coalition consisting of countries that have different
geopolitical points of view. That means we work with Russia, we work with
France, we work with Germany, we work with the UK, we work with the major
powers in the world.

But, we also work with the Muslim nations. King Abdullah of Jordan, and I
should tell you that Jordan has played an incredibly heroic role over the
last many years. What he said, and I believe to be true, is that the
troops on the ground have got to be Muslim troops.


O`DONNELL: Professor Bloom, that is just a variation on what we have
already been hearing from President Obama, from Hillary Clinton.

BLOOM: Yes, except for the fact that the Saudi coalition excludes Iran and
Iraq. So, to me, it does not make a lot of sense. I think part of the
problem is that the geopolitical conflicts of interest that exist really
stymie any kind of coalition. So, that Turkey spends more time bombing the

Russia has not been bombing ISIS. They have been helping Assad. And, in
fact, Assad invited Russia in to counterbalance Iranian influence, which I
do not think anyone in the debate sort of realizes. They conflate Iran
with Syria and Assad. So, it is much more complicated than many of the
candidates understand. But, also, at the same time, it is very messy.

There is not an easy solution. But, I personally do not think that the
United States should be the policemen of the world. I think that has
gotten ourselves in trouble in the past. And, I think that it is a really
dangerous precedent to go forward and get involved in any more foreign

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, you got to be an optimist to get into this field, as
John Kerry shows every day as secretary of the state, just a real charging
optimist, but you do not want to be Pollyanna. And, this stuff about, “Oh,
we are going to get a coalition together. We are going to need Muslim
troops. We will not need our troops. They are going to get in there.
They are going to do this,” you know, I just hear that and I just – I have
a zero confidence that they will be able to put that together.

JONATHAN ALTER, “DAILY BEAST” COLUMNIST: Well, certainly, so far it has
been pathetic. But, you know, you do have to try to do this.


ALTER: And, this is what John Kerry is job is. And, I am not sure we are
using all the tools that we have at our disposal. We provide some
significant amounts of aid to a lot of these Arab countries. Why cannot we
link that aid to then taking action that is in our national security
interest, going after ISIS. And, I sometimes think that we are a little
too passive right now. This looks publicly in pushing them to move in and
take care of this.

O`DONNELL: We are going to break it here. Professor Mia Bloom , thank you
very much for joining us tonight.

Coming up, it is looking tonight like there might not be a republican
nominee who emerges when the dust clears from the primaries. It might have
to get settled at the convention, the brokered convention scenario when we




REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: By the end of March, mid April, I believe
that we are going to have the presumptive nominee, just like I always have.
I am not backing off of that.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: Presumptive nominee does not mean they have all the

PRIEBUS: Well, it is just like Mitt Romney was in April of four years ago.

CAVUTO: Fair enough. Fair enough.

PRIEBUS: So, I believe that we will have a nominee at the convention. If,
for example, though, we do not –

CAVUTO: And, if that is Donald Trump you are perfectly OK with that?

PRIEBUS: We are going to support whoever the nominee is.

CAVUTO: OK. Very good.

PRIEBUS: And, we are going to have a party that is better than it has ever
been before.


O`DONNELL: This morning, Mitch McConnell was asked about all of this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE INTERVIEWER: Is a deadlocked convention something the
party should prepare for?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: It has not happened in a
very long time. And, I think it is highly unlikely to happen. Well, it is
an interesting thing to discuss but highly unlikely I think.


O`DONNELL: Back with us, Stuart Stevens and Jonathan Alter. Stuart, you
wrote a great piece about this in which you stake out the brave territory
that – and you think you might be alone in this as a public analyst of
this campaign.

The brave territory that Donald Trump will not win anything, will not win
Iowa, will not win New Hampshire, will not win South Carolina, Nevada.
States where he is way ahead now. Tell us how you come to that conclusion
at this point?




STEVENS: Listen.

O`DONNELL: Not a bad guide.

STEVENS: I – I think you have to take these states in sequence and think
about how one state impacts the other. In Iowa, he is not going to win
Iowa. I mean he is a terrible candidate for Iowa. Someone who has been
married three times, bankrupt four times in the gambling business and
stumbles over a question about whether or not he has asked God for
forgiveness. It is not a great candidate for Iowa.

So, he leaves Iowa a loser. He is someone whose definition as being a
winner, he will not be a winner. So, then he goes into New Hampshire.
Now, it has been a long time in New Hampshire since someone won New
Hampshire who did not campaign there more than someone who came in second.

He has not been someone who has campaigned a lot in New Hampshire. And, if
Donald Trump were to win new Hampshire, he would break the whole New
Hampshire compact with voters, which is you really have to go up there and
meet people. I think that New Hampshire is going to do what it is always
done in the past, which is reward someone, who has spent a lot of time
talking to voters.

That would not be Donald Trump. So, then he is going to lose New
Hampshire, then he is going to lose Iowa then New Hampshire. So, then you
have got South Carolina. Now, in theory, Donald Trump is a very good
candidate for South Carolina. But, strange things happen to candidates
that do not win.

And, I think he does not respond well to pressure. He would be under a lot
of pressure. I think that there would be other candidate, who could do
well in South Carolina. And, someone is going to win those first two
states. And, I think that those people will be better positioned to win
South Carolina than someone who lost the first two states.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, Stuart makes the point in his piece that no candidate
picked by a so-called brokered convention has won since FDR in 1932. Now,
you are suggesting here the other night that a brokered convention could
give a tremendous excitement to the republican ticket because we would be
doing saturation coverage of this.


O`DONNELL: This would be breaking news 24 hours a day for four days and
then suddenly this triumphant character would appear and that could be a
super charged candidate through a process like that.

ALTER: Yes. I think that could happen because, you know, if nobody goes
in with enough delegates, and right now the republican field is very split.
It is not at all like 2012 where, you know, you had a presumptive front-
runner the whole time even if he stumbled along the way on Mitt Romney.

So, this really could – and Karl Rove agrees with this, you know, go into
Cleveland, where the convention is being held in a position where nobody
has enough delegates. If at that point, you get the world`s greatest
reality T.V. show that might offset the idea that people do not want
somebody that has not entered the primaries.

So, that would be the wrap on, you know, a Paul Ryan or somebody from
outside the process, getting the nomination that, you know, if you have not
faced the voters, they are not going to nominate you. But, all of the
delegates by that time will be liberated from, who they had to support on
the first ballot.

So, on the second, third, fourth ballots, they can vote for whoever they
think would be their best candidate going into the fall. I think Ryan is
the only republican right now, who unites moderates and conservatives. He
might, you know, discredit himself with conservatives between now and then
because he has to make tough budget decisions like one that he made

But, you know, there is a possibility for some real chaos. However, I
think Stuart is really on to something that you could see the emergence of
somebody from back in the pack, just because they are not doing well now,
does not mean that they cannot catch fire in the next seven weeks. There
is still a long time to go in political terms between now and the beginning
of these contests.

O`DONNELL: Stuart, what about Jonathan`s notion that a brokered
convention, you know, a suspenseful convention, where we do not know the
outcome, and the outcome turns out to be somebody, who was not necessarily
in this field, or whatever that outcome turns out to be, actually
energizing, giving the republican ticket a huge super charge coming out of
the convention?

STEVENS: Well, look, I love Jonathan`s scenario, but I think it is
exciting to watch a baby crawl across the interstate. But, I am not sure
it is necessarily the most pleasant of experiences. You know, the way I
look at it, is that you are going to have four or five candidates if you go
into the brokered convention, who are going to have worked their heart out
for the last year and a half.

Everybody hates to lose, but normally you are going to have a situation –
when you do not have a brokered convention, you have a number of votes that
say you did lose. So, you are going to have four or five people, who think
that they equally deserve a chance to lose.

So, for them to then say, “OK, someone who has not campaigned is going to
come in, we are going to give this crown jewel, potential presidency to
that person,” man, I love the best man. I love all this in theory –


STEVENS: But, in Cleveland are hearts going to be that big? I think it is
going to be a very, very bitter, angry situation that just – I just cannot
see that happening.

ALTER: But, will the delegates – Stuart, I mean you are much more of an
expert on the mechanics of republican politics than I am. Will the
delegates, let us say the Trump delegates, the Cruz delegates, whatever, if
their guy does not have enough votes to win a first ballot victory, will
the delegates actually listen to those candidates? Or will they vote for
whoever they want, whoever they think will be the best candidate on the
second, third and fourth ballots?

STEVENS: I do think what you are – and we have all played risk and what
happens in risk is you make alliances. And, I do think that what you would
more likely see are two of the stronger candidates coming together and
forming a ticket. And, that, that would then propel that ticket to
victory. I think that is the most likely scenario, rather than someone
else coming in from the outside.

O`DONNELL: Stuart Stevens gets tonight`s wise last word on the republican
brokered convention. Jonathan Alter, thanks for joining us. Stuart, thank
you for joining us.

Coming up, there are no reviews yet of the new “Star Wars” movie, but there
are tweets from some of the big stars, who actually went to the premier.
We will have some of those.

And, of course, I will answer that question that I asked earlier on Twitter
about the weirdest and best dessert that I have ever had.



O`DONNELL: Reviews of “Stars Wars: The Force Awakens” will not be released
until tomorrow, but we have tweets from people who attended the premier.
Rainn Wilson tweeted, “First Star Wars review. It was epic, awesome and
perfect. The cast was stellar. J.J. killed it.”

Variety reported today there were plenty of cheers from the audience at the
end including actress, Geena Davis, who said I loved everything about it.
For more, here is NBC`s Joe Fryer.


JOE FRYER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Star power was the force on
display at this premier.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (1): That John Williams crescendo at the
beginning. It is the greatest thing ever.


FRYER (voice-over): The franchise`s newest faces shared the massive red
carpet with legends from a long time ago like Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
and Mark Hamill.


MARK HAMILL, ACTOR: I mean it is pinch me time. Everything seems to be
louder and bigger and busier.


FRYER (voice-over): On opening weekend, analyst predict “The Force
Awakens” could generate at least $150 million to $200 million domestically
shattering “The Hobbits`” December Box Office record. When it is all said
and done, the seventh installment of “Star Wars” could earn between $1.5
billion and $2 billion worldwide, maybe more. The highest grossing film of
all time is “Avatar” at $2.8 billion.


$3 billion worldwide. “The Force Awakens,” there is a lot of pressure on
this movie. Could it achieve that monumental landmark in terms of Box
Office? We will have to wait and see.


FRYER (voice-over): This is the first Star Wars film made without creator
George Lucas, who sold his company to Disney for $4 billion. A big
investment, putting a lot of pressure on Director J.J. Abrams speaking with
“60 Minutes.”


moments of just abject terror as to what we are all taking on.



FRYER (voice-over): Still, the buzz is louder than a lightsaber. On top
of movie tickets, merchandisers expected to bring in billions with
everything from high heels to humidifiers hitting the shelves. At the
brand-new Alamo Draft House Cinema in Omaha, the decor is totally inspired
by Star Wars.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (2): I literally was just like, “Whoa, I need to
get tickets here.”


FRYER (voice-over): And, at that line outside the Chinese theatre,
Caroline Ritter and Andrew Porters, actually planned to wed right before
they see the movie.


ANDREW PORTERS, “STAR WARS” ULTIMATE FAN: It got three important things
here. It got Star Wars, Caroline and good friends.

FRYER (voice-over): Wait. Do not you mean Caroline then Star Wars?

PORTERS: Ah – I mean, of course.

CAROLINE RITTER, ANDREW PORTERS` FIANCEE: I am more excited for the movie.




O`DONNELL: NBC`s Joe Fryer reporting from Los Angeles. Coming up, the
weirdest dessert I have ever had and the best. Here is a hint. Bacon was



O`DONNELL: Got some great answers on Twitter to what was your weirdest
dessert and your best dessert. Some of those tweets next.



O`DONNELL: The weirdest, and I think the best dessert that I have ever had
was in Birmingham, Alabama, two years ago. Now, before I get into my big
reveal, I want to get to some of your answers on Twitter tonight to my
question, what was your weirdest dessert and what was your best dessert.

Nordzilla76 tweeted, “Beaver tails, not the animal. #Canada.” I am not
sure exactly what is going on there. And, Only4RN tweeted, “Weirdest was
garlic ice cream, surprisingly coconut-like. Best, my bread pudding with
vanilla sauce.” I bet that is.

Well, my weirdest dessert and my best dessert were the same dessert. And,
we are now joined by my dining mate that night Casey Dolan, who will do a
much better job than I can of describing that most amazing dessert. Casey,
producer on this show – first of all, why were we in Birmingham?


O`DONNELL: I am going to ask questions I know some of these answers, but
the audience, you know –

DOLAN: Yes. We will tell them.


DOLAN: It was December 2013 and a cub scout troop – troop 3415 in
Birmingham, Alabama, the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church raised a lot of money
for the K.I.N.D. Fund.

O`DONNELL: You know what they raised?

DOLAN: $18,000.

O`DONNELL: They raised $18,000, somewhere – there is a camera. And, they
gave us physically the biggest check.


O`DONNELL: And, the actual biggest amount.

DOLAN: You flew with this. You flew with this.

O`DONNELL: I flew – this was carried on baggage. The biggest amount in
one contribution we have ever gotten for the K.I.N.D. Fund. They did a
great job for us.


O`DONNELL: So, we then went to a restaurant in Birmingham.

DOLAN: Yes. The “Hot and Hot Fish Club.”

O`DONNELL: “Hot and Hot Fish Club.”

DOLAN: Yes. And, we had some sort of –

O`DONNELL: We were told to get this dessert.

DOLAN: Yes. It was some sort of – made of a doughnut center. But, the
important thing was, there was a candy baking sort of layer that was really
what you loved.

O`DONNELL: And, I took a picture of it. Right?


O`DONNELL: We took a picture of it. We have to show it America.

DOLAN: There you go.

O`DONNELL: And, on the menu it was called candied bacon, something like

DOLAN: And, I actually called “Hot and Hot Fish” to see if they had –


DOLAN: They did not have it on the menu anymore because they change their
dessert menu every week. So it was –

O`DONNELL: It was absolutely fantastic.


O`DONNELL: And, you have been working on the K.I.N.D. Fund for years,
getting us to where we are with it. The girl`s scholarship program. We
have some new totals. Do you have them?

DOLAN: Yes. I have them.

O`DONNELL: I would like you to do the honor of reporting that to America,
where we are.

DOLAN: Oh, man. This is amazing.

O`DONNELL: We picked up some money overnight. Where are we now?

DOLAN: Right now, we are at – we picked up almost $53,000 overnight.

O`DONNELL: Uh-huh.

DOLAN: So, right now, we are at $9,373,188, which is really – so far we
have provided almost $500,000 students with desks, 155,000 desks. So, we
are at a little – almost 9.4 million, which is really unbelievable.

O`DONNELL: And, you have been with this program since from before we went
on the air.

DOLAN: I know.

O`DONNELL: I remember when you came in for a job interview down the hall
there. And, now, you have had enough?



O`DONNELL: You cannot –

DOLAN: Never. Never enough.

O`DONNELL: You got a promotion to Andrea Mitchell`s show. You know, you
are going to have get up earlier.

DOLAN: I know. I know.

O`DONNELL: And, she is the hardest working person in T.V. News.

DOLAN: She is the hardest working – absolutely.

O`DONNELL: You are going to have a harder job.

DOLAN: Second to you.

O`DONNELL: So, we are going to miss you. We are somehow going to have to
carry on with the K.I.N.D. Fund. Could you tell people how to contribute
to the K.I.N.D. Fund?

DOLAN: Yes. or you can call 1-800-4-UNICEF, and
either way works. We appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: You have been fantastic in everything you have done with the
K.I.N.D. Fund. And, you know, I got a little whisper to me today that the
traditional going away present for lifers like you here at the show.

And, I got you what you wanted. I got you a classroom of desks from the
K.I.N.D. Fund. And, I think we have the – and you got the e-mail. I got
the desks in to your name, which we are always telling people you can do
during the Christmas season.


O`DONNELL: You can get a gift, give it to someone in that person`s name
and UNICEF will send the e-mail confirmation that you have received that.
And, I think we can put that up on the screen or maybe we do not have it.

DOLAN: Well, it said, “Dear Casey, and, you know, this is your gift.” It
was really amazing. I cannot believe that.

O`DONNELL: Yes. It is just a great way. There it is. That is your going
away present.

DOLAN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: It was exactly the right thing.

DOLAN: Yes. All I want.

O`DONNELL: I do not know how we are going to continue to do this T.V. show
without Casey Dolan. This is the absolute truth. I do not know how to do
this show without Casey Dolan. I have never done it without Casey Dolan.

DOLAN: I went on vacation a couple of times and you survived.


O`DONNELL: In January, they are going to see “The Last Word” without Casey
Dolan and they are going to see a huge difference. It is just not going to
be the same. I could not do it without you.

Thank you for everything you did on the Birmingham trip, finding that
restaurant, knowing what dessert to order. Everything you have done for
K.I.N.D. Everything you have done for the show. We are going to miss you.

DOLAN: I am going to miss you so much.

O`DONNELL: Will you still drop by once in a while?

DOLAN: All the time. And, I would not be anywhere that I am without you
and the show.

O`DONNELL: Oh, cut it out.

DOLAN: Yes. No, you cut it out.


O`DONNELL: You had all sorts of offers. It was a bidding war to get you
to work here. That is it for “The Last Word” tonight. The Casey Dolan
appropriately gets the “Last Word” tonight. Chris Matthews is next. He is
going to have highlights and analyst of tonight`s republican Presidential
debate live from Las Vegas. Casey Dolan`s last seat.




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