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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 09/21/15

Guests: Frank Rich, Wendy Davis, Jonathan Alter, John MacArthur, StanCollender

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence. LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Luckily for the aisle hogs, they`re not changing the rules permanently just for the -- just for the big day. MADDOW: Just for the big day -- O`DONNELL: Right -- MADDOW: That`s right, thanks Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Scott Walker`s final words as a presidential candidate today were to attack Donald Trump. Donald Trump hasn`t had time to strike back at Scott Walker because he`s busy tonight having a Twitter war with Bill O`Reilly. And Frank Rich will join us to explain the importance of Donald Trump. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin is dropping out of the race. WALKER: I will suspend my campaign immediately. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s changed? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The debate taking place in the Republican Party today - - DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When the folks of Iowa found out the true facts of the job that you`ve done in Wisconsin, all of a sudden you`ve tubed. He was number one, now he`s number six or seven in the polls. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has drifted into personal attacks. TRUMP: And you went down the tubes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s changed? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump happened. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Ben Carson to a lesser extent. DR. BEN CARSON, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Trump style candidacy, the Ben Carson candidacy. ANDY SAMBERG, COMEDIAN: Sure, Donald Trump seems racist. WALKER: With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wants the Republican Party to coalesce around an alternative to Donald Trump. WALKER: I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And then there were 15. Today, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker redefined leadership. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WALKER: Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately. I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same, so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current frontrunner. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And so, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stopped his campaign in the hope of stopping Donald Trump. Seven months ago, Scott Walker was the frontrunner in the "Des Moines Register" poll of Iowa Republicans. Scott Walker was at 15 percent in that poll and Donald Trump, long before announcing his candidacy was down to 1 percent in that February poll in Iowa. In January on this program, I suggested that Scott Walker was looking like the Tim Pawlenty of this campaign. Four years ago, Tim Pawlenty like Scott Walker, a midwestern Republican governor appeared to have the best political resume in the Republican field, but Tim Pawlenty fizzled on the Republican stage as a spiritless public speaker and debater. Scott Walker turned out to be a much less authoritative or compelling public speaker than even Tim Pawlenty. And so, who knows how low Scott Walker would be polling today if Donald Trump didn`t happen. But of course, Donald Trump did get into the race and in the latest "Cnn" national poll, Donald Trump is the frontrunner with 24 percent and Scott Walker registered at less than half of 1 percent in that "Cnn" poll. And so now, we have the latest Republican strategy for stopping Donald Trump. Have hopeless Republican candidates drop out of the race and leave Trump to fight four or five candidates who have a realistic chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination. Will it work? Joining us now, Frank Rich, author of "New York Magazine`s" cover story this week, "Donald Trump is Saving Our Democracy". This is the most thoughtful and thorough analysis of the Trump candidacy written so far this campaign season. Frank, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And first of all, congratulations on the big wins for "Veep" last night at the Emmys, you`re an executive producer of "Veep", you took away a bunch last night. FRANK RICH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Thank you very much, great to see you, Lawrence, it was a fun night, escape into fake politics, fictional politics from the real circus that`s going on. O`DONNELL: Well, this is -- this is awful close -- I do -- (LAUGHTER) RICH: I know, I don`t know if we can -- (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: You are shockingly close to "Veep" world in this Republican campaign. What do you make -- what -- reading your article before Scott Walker dropped out today, was the perfect ramp into Scott Walker dropping out today, it turns out. The analysis of how Trump has taken over this campaign for the Republicans seem to make today inevitable just as it made the Rick Perry outcome a while ago inevitable? RICH: Yes, I mean, I think one of the things that Trump is doing with all his bull in the China shop antics and, you know, everything we know about him is he`s exposing -- even if inadvertently just how weak the other candidates are. You know, Steve Schmidt said, he emasculated Jeb Bush. And Scott Walker, he was -- as you said, he didn`t even rise to the level of Tim Pawlenty. It`s amazing but he was, as you know well, the great hope. He was the man who tamed liberal Wisconsin, he went up against the unions and what? Less than 1 percent in the -- I mean, it was just incredible. O`DONNELL: You also say in the piece that one of the things about -- that Trump is doing is that he is -- he is wreaking this havoc on the status quo while actually having no chance of ascending to the presidency. He is really messing things up within that party and isn`t going to end up with the presidency. RICH: Right. You can`t -- no matter how you slice it, you cannot be president of the United States. You cannot win a national election when you`ve antagonized women, African- Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Muslims. I mean, the list is endless. But along the way to the Republican convention, he is creating this havoc that we`re seeing now. And I would argue also, he`s creating havoc in the Democratic Party because his sort of blunder bust decisiveness is showing up the caution of Hillary Clinton. O`DONNELL: And you also mentioned that he`s causing problems for both parties on the whole campaign financing picture where he keeps talking about being self funding, he keeps making fun of Republicans who are dependent on big money and Democrats who are dependent on big money contributions. RICH: Exactly. You know, in the first debate when he said essentially I bought the Clintons, got them to come to my last wedding by contributing to them, that sort of crystallized, I think, for a lot of the American public the Clintons problems with the Clinton foundation. And also his -- you know, his continued rant about I have -- I don`t answer to lobbyist, I don`t have big donors. Weirdly, he as a Republican is calling attention to citizens united and the strangle hold it has in terms of these, you know, big donors better than any Democrat could. And it must be making people like Karl Rove -- I`m sure it is making them insane. O`DONNELL: Well, we are now at another one of those thresholds where people are wondering whether the Trump campaign has peaked. Because in this latest CNN poll, Trump is down about eight points in that poll. He was up at 32, now down eight points from that. And it brought on this exchange we`re about to see on "Fox News" with Bill O`Reilly tonight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Why is Trump losing steam? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think what I`d be more comfortable thinking out of this poll is that he is maybe leveling off. Again, same margin of error, four or five, plus or minus five points. So, you know, to think that he`s down eight, I suspect he`s probably not down eight but he`s down some. You know, sort of what you`d think after watching him in the debate. He didn`t have a great night. He may indeed be leveling off now and that could be the, you know, the prelude to a -- to a general slow decline. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And no surprise, Frank, Donald Trump home watching that started tweeting very angrily at the "O`Reilly Report" saying, "why don`t you have some knowledgeable talking heads on your show for a change instead of the same old Trump haters. Boring!" So that`s -- RICH: He`s a great television critic on top of everything else. O`DONNELL: That`s right. That`s how the Republican frontrunner is spending his evening. So, here we are with that question again, we`re seeing the first significant drop in a poll for Donald Trump. And the question becomes, has he hit that ceiling? RICH: We don`t know. He`s been, you know, pronounced dead ever since he insulted John McCain`s POW record and one of the points in my piece is it`s always a turning point for Trump. Every single -- the first -- you thought to lose the first debate by many, the second debate by many. I don`t know, I wouldn`t predict it. I would say you can`t fight something with nothing. And where is this dragon slayer in the Republican Party who is going to vanquish him? What you now have is this splintered field as you know, no one is getting traction. You know, we`re hearing about Marco Rubio constantly what we heard months ago about Scott Walker. He`s serious, he`s got policy chops, he`s a great story waiting to happen, great young leader. Why is he in single digits in the polls after, you know, much acclaimed appearances at the debates? Jeb Bush, it`s not there. So, you know, and there was a, you know, a Carson bump, now there`s a Fiorina bump. I don`t think anyone seriously believes that they`re going to be the nominee. So they`ve got a problem. O`DONNELL: Could the problem extend to Donald Trump actually getting the nomination? RICH: There is -- I don`t think we can say it can`t happen. If they don`t have anyone to fight him with, it could happen. We just don`t know. There`s so much time between now and the convention. But what I do know is this, he is not somebody who goes quietly into the night. If he feels he`s being robbed or people are ganging up against him, he`s going to scream bloody murder, and so are his followers who are basically another version of the base that followed Sarah Palin. And so Republican Party needs that -- those voters, whatever one may think about them. So he`s got a lot of leverage, and, you know, if he -- if he doesn`t lose fair and square in his eyes, it`s a mess. And also that pledge he signed, you know, to Reince Priebus, saying that he wouldn`t start a third-party run as a third party candidate is worth about as much as a certificate from the defunct Trump university. O`DONNELL: Frank Rich, that will be the last word on it tonight. Thank you very much for joining us tonight -- RICH: Thank you -- O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it, Frank. Coming up, it`s day two of the Republican debate; a serious Republican debate about a Muslim being president of the United States. And later, Joe Biden moves a step closer to running for president, this time with his wife`s support. And former Texas Senator Wendy Davis is here to discuss the potential government shutdown next week, as early as next week over, of course, the funding for Planned Parenthood. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Jeb Bush has admitted to smoking a lot of pot in high school. I mean, a lot. Which is all Donald Trump needed for this Instagram video. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS host: Would you have authorized the invasion? JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would have. It`s an act of love. And frankly, it`s more related to Asian people. So 40 years ago I smoked marijuana. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Up next, now Ben Carson has Republicans debating whether a Muslim is fit to be president of the United States. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS host: If properly vetted that you wouldn`t have a problem voting with someone who is Muslim provided the person agree with you politically? TRUMP: Well, they`d have to go through the long hard process, it`s a long tough road, Greta, I can tell you and it really is very revealing. And I would have no problem with it, no. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was Donald Trump tonight on "Fox News" at the end of day two of the debate within the Republican Party about whether a Muslim could be president of the United States. It began yesterday on "Meet the Press". (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Can you imagine supporting or being comfortable if a Muslim ever became president of the United States? TRUMP: I can say that, you know, it`s something that at some point could happen, we`ll see. I mean, you know, it`s something that could happen. Would I be comfortable? I don`t know if we have to address it right now but I think it is certainly something that could happen. TODD: You said you had no problem putting a Muslim -- TRUMP: I mean, some people have said -- TODD: In your cabinet -- TRUMP: It already happened, frankly. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Donald Trump couldn`t get through the subject without once again suggesting that President Obama might be a secret Muslim. Then came Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TODD: Should a president`s faith matter? Should your faith matter to voters? CARSON: Well, I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it`s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the constitution, no problem. TODD: So, do you believe that Islam is consistent with the constitution? CARSON: No, I don`t. I do not. TODD: So, you would -- CARSON: I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Jonathan Alter, MSNBC political analyst and columnist for "The Daily Beast", also with us, Wendy Davis, former Texas State senator and Hillary Clinton supporter. And John R. MacArthur, president and publisher of "Harper`s Magazine". Wendy Davis, Hillary Clinton obviously went straight at this as she has whenever the Republicans go into these strange territories. It`s one of those things where it`s a completely unnecessary controversy that the Republicans have drummed up for themselves. WENDY DAVIS, FORMER TEXAS STATE SENATOR: It`s true. And what`s fascinating is that they`ve seem not to have learned from the last presidential election cycle, where they`re exclusionary conversations created a real problem for them. And clearly, Hillary Clinton is seizing on the understanding that most Americans do not support the xenophobic nationalist arguments that are being presented by many of the Republican -- most of the Republican candidates right now. O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at this poll indicating the American public`s view on this, who they could vote for based on various categories. Catholics, 93 percent say they could vote for a Catholic, a woman, 92 percent, black, 92 percent, Hispanic, 91 percent, Jewish, 91 percent. And then there`s a big drop, down to the next category in this poll below the 90s, that`s Mormon at 81 percent. So, that became relevant four years ago during Mitt Romney`s campaign. Gay or lesbian, 74 percent would be willing to vote for gay or lesbian candidate, evangelical Christian, 73 percent and there`s Muslim down at 60 percent which is right above atheist at 58 percent and the very worst thing you could be Jonathan Alter, is of course an atheist socialist. Socialist, exact -- JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: That goes for Bernie Sanders - - O`DONNELL: Is at 47 percent. But I mean -- so, again, this is one of those things that only the Republican campaign could have walked into. ALTER: Yes, you know, it`s really perplexing because the American public has moved past this. I mean, those -- O`DONNELL: Sixty percent -- ALTER: All results were very striking. And you know, we talked about Mitt Romney being a Mormon, it was a non issue in 2012. We are past this as a country, not because everybody knows that article six of the U.S. constitution prohibits a religious test for a higher office, but because we`ve grown as a people. So, it`s another reminder that today`s Republican Party in some respects is mired not just in the 20th century, but in the 19th century when you know, we had some very anti-Catholic campaigns. And we saw much more direct religious bigotry. But the idea that somehow a person`s faith as Ben Carson said is, "inconsistent with the constitution". Somebody`s faith by definition, regardless of what they`re like as an individual and a human being, that is inconsistent. That is about the least American idea in our politics today. People talk about, you know, the Republicans -- oh, we`re pro America, go America. That`s not what America is now. America today is that we do not allow or tolerate this kind of bigotry in our politics. O`DONNELL: But John MacArthur, one thing that has happened in the last generation of politicians is that they`ve all, certainly, at presidential level become religious exhibitionist. They are all eager to tell you about their relationship to God and their religion. Donald Trump very eager to tell you about his Presbyterian credentials and all that stuff. None of them say that that`s a private matter, that`s something I`m not going to discuss. JOHN MACARTHUR, PRESIDENT, HARPER`S MAGAZINE: Yes, I would bring up Barack Obama, I mean, not as a Muslim but as a kind of a not very serious Christian. He had to work very hard to present himself as a Christian candidate, precisely because of his heritage and his African father. And the dance that he performed with his former pastor was a strange thing to watch. I don`t take his Christianism that seriously. I think he was doing it largely for show. I don`t think he`s a deeply religious president or deeply religious man. He`s certainly not a Muslim, but you have to present yourself as a religious person. And I disagree with John. I think that the Mormonism was a real problem for Mitt Romney. There are southern Baptists as I think -- O`DONNELL: You care about -- you care about -- MACARTHUR: Wendy -- as Wendy knows there, southern Baptists who would sooner -- (CROSSTALK) Their wrist and vote -- ALTER: It just -- MACARTHUR: For a Mormon -- ALTER: It just didn`t play out that way -- O`DONNELL: But he wants everyone -- MACARTHUR: Yes, so -- ALTER: He won -- MACARTHUR: Yes -- ALTER: Overwhelmingly in all those southern -- MACARTHUR: Yes -- ALTER: Baptist areas that you said he lost -- MACARTHUR: Well, a lot of people -- ALTER: They analyzed it -- MACARTHUR: A lot of people didn`t vote. People simply didn`t vote. They weren`t going to vote for a Mormon. But -- O`DONNELL: But he won, who is -- MACARTHUR: Yes -- (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: Southern Baptist states -- MACARTHUR: Who is not now -- O`DONNELL: So -- MACARTHUR: Yes -- ALTER: Everyone -- MACARTHUR: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Let me -- MACARTHUR: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney -- MACARTHUR: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Is -- ALTER: Yes -- O`DONNELL: In this story tonight, by the way, tweeting just an hour ago saying, of course, "no religious test for the presidency", every faith adds to our national character. And Wendy, that`s exactly what you would expect to hear from someone whose religion, John is right, was brought up anyway by certain people during the primary on the Republican side. DAVIS: No question, and I think that Mitt Romney understands that long- term, this is damaging for the Republican Party. And I think there are a number of people who feel that way and are horrified to see the direction that the dialogue is taking in the Republican primary debates. O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, on the -- on the issue of Barack Obama`s religiosity being fake, well, if his is fake, which you are suggesting -- MACARTHUR: Exaggerated -- O`DONNELL: Exaggerated -- MACARTHUR: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Then they all are. I mean, Barack Obama has presented as convincing and full a Christian faith as any president we`ve ever had. ALTER: Yes, I mean, I think he actually has -- there are some things to suggest that he actually, you know, has become more of a Christian and not just after he went into politics but after he arrived in Chicago and started dealing with the churches when he was a community organizer. Look, there`s really only a couple of presidents in recent history who had what you could describe as a deep faith -- George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter. The rest of them, including, you know, Ronald Reagan were cafeteria Christians. You know, they pick and choose -- O`DONNELL: But I don`t -- see, here is what -- I do not understand the basis on which we invade the minds of these guys and say, I think this one is truly religious and that one isn`t. I mean, I know priests who have doubted -- ALTER: Yes -- O`DONNELL: The existence of God while they are priests. ALTER: All I -- O`DONNELL: So -- ALTER: Can say is, two weeks ago, I was in -- I`m writing a book about Jimmy Carter and I went to his church in Plains, Georgia, and I heard for the second time this Summer, him teach Sunday -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ALTER: School. And there is no doubt about the depth of -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ALTER: His faith -- O`DONNELL: A hard place to fake it, you`re right. All right -- ALTER: And you are -- let`s -- O`DONNELL: We`re going to take -- we`re going to take a quick -- ALTER: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Break, we`re going to be back, our next guest coming up says that there is now -- he`s going to figure it out mathematically, a 75 percent chance that the United States government would shut down next week over Planned Parenthood funding. And Carly Fiorina paid a visit to "The Tonight Show" right here in this building tonight and, yes, she said a word or two about Donald Trump. We`ll get a sneak preview of that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All of the Republican candidates want to defund Planned Parenthood. Many are willing to shut down our government to do it no matter the consequences for our country. I`d like them along with the Republican candidates to meet the mom who caught her cancer early, thanks to a screening. Or the teenager who avoided an unintended pregnancy because she had access to birth control or the survivor of sexual assault who got emergency contraception. (CHEERS) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was Hillary Clinton this weekend at the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention. Congress now has exactly nine days to pass a budget and avoid a government shutdown. The most contentious issue that could lead to a government shutdown is funding for Planned Parenthood. Despite the looming deadline, the House will not be back in session in Thursday when the Pope speaks before joint session. Before the House left on Friday, the House once again voted to defund Planned Parenthood. That bill is not expected to pass the senate. And, even if it did, it would not have enough votes to be veto proof. Tomorrow, the senate will vote on a bill banning abortions at 20 weeks. Here is what Harry Reid had to say about that legislation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HARRY REID, (D) NEVADA, SENIOR SENATOR: 20-week bill is just a way for Senator McConnell to pander the extremists in his party, who is once again holding government hostage, so they can attack the health of women. This legislation is going nowhere. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: On the campaign trail, Marco Rubio spoke to KCCI, a CBS affiliate in Iowa about why he wants to defund Planned Parenthood. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARCO RUBIO, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, what you have done is you have created an industry. Now, what you have done is you created an incentive for people to be pushed into abortions, so that those tissues can be harvested and sold for profit. I just think you have created an industry now where you create the situation where very much you created an incentive for people, not just to look forward to having more abortions but being able to sell that fetal tissue for purposes of making a profit off of it as you have seen in some of my Parenthood affiliates. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Stan Collender, a contributor to "Forbes" Magazine. Back with us Wendy Davis. Wendy Davis, your reaction to what Marco Rubio was just saying there about what he perceives as women`s incentive as you describes it to have an abortion. WENDY DAVIS, (D) FMR. TEXAS STATE SENATOR AND WOMAN`S EQUALITY ADVOCATE: It is absolutely preposterous. And, I hope that women all over this country are listening to that kind of dialogue. I think that what the republicans are doing on this issue, once again, is endangering the Republican Party and damaging it long term. They are talking about cutting off funding not for abortion care. They are talking about cutting off funding to women seeking breast cancer screens, contraceptive care, HIV and STD -- other STD screens. And, they are willing to shut down the government to do it. We know in Texas what the consequence of that action is. We saw this exact chapter written in our history book there. And, as a consequence of it, over 150,000 real women lost the only health care that they had. Our Medicaid birth rate shot up. It cost taxpayers over $130 million in one year alone in extra Medicaid birth costs. So, not only does it harm real women, it costs taxpayers more. It makes absolutely no sense. And, it truly is political demagoguery of the very worst and most dangerous kind. O`DONNELL: Stan Collender, you have made a mathematical calculation here that there is now a 75 percent chance of a government shutdown next week. Describe the dynamics that get us there. STAN COLLENDER, QORVIS MSLGROUP`S VICE PRESIDENT AND NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF FINANCIAL COMMUNICATIONS: Well, I actually started back in July saying there was about a 1 in 3 chance or 30 percent chance. But, every time there was another issue we added to it, it just started to make it worse. At this point, you got to say there is a three out of four chance that the government will shut down. And, it is only because we have added this politically toxic take no prisoners, highly emotional issue like Planned Parenthood. You cannot compromise on this one. This is a blind area. It is either yes or no. If it was a budget issue, you could compromise somewhere in between, but you cannot do that with Planned Parenthood. And, shutting down the government over it really makes very little sense. O`DONNELL: Let us listen to what Jeb Bush said about this in Iowa today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I defunded Planned Parenthood when I was governor. I -- I -- (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) We actually redirected funding away from sex education, kind of traditional sex education to abstinence education. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We have come a long way from his father being a supporter of Planned Parenthood. DAVIS: Indeed we have, and his mother as well. And, I think, again, it shows the direction that the party is headed. And, it is not in touch with American people and American values. The polling shows that Americans very much support the non-abortion care services of Planned Parenthood. Americans very much support the whole services, including abortion care that Planned Parenthood provides. They understand that they are appealing to a small base of voters in the Republican Primary. The question is, how do they come back from this? How in the world that candidates who have expressed the anti-immigrant, anti-women sentiments that they have expressed in their conversation thus far possibly come back and attract middle American voters, who want instead to be hearing about what we are going to do to keep college costs low? What we are going to do to close the wage gap? What we are going to do to increase the minimum wage and to create more family supportive environments in the workplace? These are the conversations that are taking place on the democratic side of the aisle. These are the things that Hillary Clinton has been talking about from day one. And, they are reflective, I believe, of American is value, not what we are hearing on the republican side. COLLENDER: You know, Wendy may be right, Lawrence, but you got to remember that after the last shutdown two years ago the republicans won more seats in the house and took over the senate. They won nine seats in the senate and took over the majority. So, there are a lot of republicans in the house in particular who are saying, "What is the downside? We shut down government last time and we ended up picking up seats, winning over the senate. What is to make anyone think that we will not do the same or at least as well as we are doing now?" So, what is the political downside we show our constituents, our base, the base that Wendy talked about that we are all for them, that we are going to the mat, and even though it ultimately cannot be successful given the dynamics of the process these days, that does not mean that they will not give it a shot and shut down the government to try to show that they were willing. O`DONNELL: And, Wendy, Stan has a point that you can energize certain supporters and certain congressional districts by doing this. But on the national level, in a presidential campaign, it seems to me one of the -- the big downsides is you get people like Marco Rubio talking about what he believes the incentives are, the workings of the minds of women who have abortions. DAVIS: Yes. O`DONNELL: He is actually trying to portray this as some kind of profit- making scheme for women going in to Planned Parenthood to have abortions as if they are somehow participating in this. And, there is not a woman you can talk to who has had an abortion who does not consider it a very grim thing to have to end up choosing in their lives. DAVIS: A very serious decision that I do not believe any woman confronts without giving incredibly serious thought and reflection to. And, for him to assert that women are somehow having an inducement to become pregnant and have an abortion for the profit is so absurd. It is almost unmanageable that someone would even say such a thing. O`DONNELL: Stan Collender, we are going to break it there. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it. COLLENDER: My pleasure. O`DONNELL: Coming up. In tonight`s rewrite, Donald Trump and Fox News. And next, what do Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have in common? Carly Fiorina answered that question for Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show" tonight. We will have a preview of that next. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: At 10:00 P.M. tonight Donald Trump tweeted, "I am having a really hard time watching Fox News." Well, welcome to "The Last Word," Donald. Donald Trump is still angry that Bill O`Reilly tonight showed the same CNN poll that we have all been showing that has Donald Trump losing support but still the frontrunner. Donald Trump might also have a hard time watching the "Tonight Show" starring Jimmy Fallon tonight. Here is a sneak peek. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIMMY FALLON, HOST OF "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Donald Trump has recently said that he wants -- Vladimir Putin saying he wants to meet with Trump when he comes here. And, that he wants to sit down and have a conversation with him. You have met Putin. CARLY FIORINA, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have. Well, the two of them have a lot in common, actually. But, we will just leave it at that. Do you do an imitation of Putin? I could tell you if it was good or not. FALLON: Just basically talk like this. And, that is all. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) FIORINA: Yes. FALLON: Yes. FIORINA: Well, he was kind of like bursting out of the buttons of his shirt. You know, he is kind of a barrel chested guy and proud of it. FALLON: Yes. If he is wearing a shirt, it is a good day. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: It says here that the full interview airs on NBC tonight after your late local news and if you needed me to tell you that, boy. Up next, in the rewrite, Donald Trump proven wrong by a Major General in the United States army. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: If you are a Fox News watcher and a Donald Trump supporter you already know everything you need to know about Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We get a traitor named Bergdahl, a dirty, rotten traitor, who, by the way when he deserted six young beautiful people were killed trying to find him. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (1): It is absolutely true what Donald said. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (2): The guy is a traitor. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And, then, of course, there is Bowe Bergdahl`s father who some people seem to think is as much of a traitor as his son. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL O`REILLY, FOX HOST OF "THE O`REILLY FACTOR" PROGRAM: The reason I said that Robert Bergdahl looked like a Muslim is that he looks like a Muslim. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That is it. Case closed. The guy is a traitor who got six soldiers killed when they were searching for him. That is after Bergdahl walked away from the base in Afghanistan and into the arms of the enemy. All of the people who reached that conclusion without actually investigating the case now have a big problem. That big problem is Major General Kenneth R. Dahl, who actually did investigate the case. General Dahl interviewed 57 witnesses in building what could be the prosecution case in a court-martial of Bowe Bergdahl. On Friday, General Dahl testified at a preliminary hearing in the case. He said that after interviewing Bowe Bergdahl and 56 other witnesses, he believes that Sergeant Bergdahl has been truthful. General Dahl said, "He absolutely believed that the things he was perceiving were true." The general said that Sergeant Bergdahl`s beliefs were, quote, "Unwarranted but genuinely held." The story General Dahl told is that Sergeant Bergdahl left his base with a plan to walk 18 miles to another base forward operating base Sharana. Bowe Bergdahl wanted to complain to the commanding general at the other base about problems back at his base, problems that Bowe Bergdahl thought could endanger his platoon. Sergeant Bergdahl believed he would be able to get a meeting with the commanding general if he arrived at the base in such a shocking way. General Dahl says that Bowe Bergdahl probably would have been allowed to speak to a general if he had made it to the forward operating base. Instead, Sergeant Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban and held in captivity for five years. Also testifying at that hearing on Friday was Terrence Russell, one of the military`s top debriefers of prisoners. Terrence Russell said that Sergeant Bergdahl`s treatment by the Taliban was the worst that he had heard of any American prisoner of war since Vietnam. Mr. Russell said, "The level of wildly inaccurate speculation about Sergeant Bergdahl is outrageous. He did the best job he could do and I respect him for it." General Dahl said, "The six soldiers killed searching for Bowe Bergdahl is the stuff of mythology." General Dahl said, "No soldiers were killed in the search for Bergdahl." General Dahl said, "Sergeant Bergdahl did not desert to join the Taliban." General Dahl did not say whether Bowe Bergdahl should be court-martialed, but he did say, quote, "I do not believe there is a jail sentence at the end of this procedure. I think it would be inappropriate." Now, we know that Donald Trump is not going to rewrite his stories about Bowe Bergdahl to include everything that Major General Kenneth Dahl has now said about the case. Donald Trump will probably choose one of two options. One, simply to stop talking about Bowe Bergdahl or two, just keep saying the same things about Bowe Bergdahl, just keep making stuff up. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: When we get a traitor named Bergdahl, a dirty, rotten traitor, who, by the way, when he deserted, six young beautiful people were killed trying to find him. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: That is absolutely true. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The general investigator in the case says, "Not a traitor and no one was killed trying to find him." What will Donald Trump say next? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Joe Biden has lined up a very important supporter for his possible presidential campaign. His wife. That is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Yesterday, on "Meet The Press," Chuck Todd broke this news about a possible Biden presidential run. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHUCK TODD, NBC HOST OF "MEET THE PRESS" PROGRAM: In a little news this morning about Joe Biden and the potential candidacy. I want to tell you about one myth that sources of mine want debunked and that is this idea that Jill Biden, his wife is not onboard. In fact, that is not true. Vice President wife is very much onboard for 2016 run should the Vice President decide to do it. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Chuck Todd wrote for on Sunday that Jill Biden is 100 percent onboard with a presidential run. And, later, Sunday, James Gleason, the communications director for Dr. Jill Biden confirmed in a statement that, "Of course, Dr. Biden would be onboard if her husband decides to run for president, but they have not made that decision yet." In a new interview with "America," the national catholic review released today, "Vice President Biden says a decision on presidential run may not come in time for him to run and still win. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We are just not, you know, not quite there yet and it may not get there in time to make it feasible to be able to run and succeed because there are certain windows that will close. But if that is it, that is it. But I -- it is not like I can rush it. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We are back with Jonathan Alter, Wendy Davis, and John MacArthur. Wendy Davis, he is going to have to make this decision within the next few weeks, it seems for various deadlines. The polling indicates that your candidate suffers mightily with Joe Biden in the race. We have CNN polls showing Hillary Clinton at 42 percent, Bernie Sanders, 24 percent, Joe Biden 22 percent. When you take Joe Biden out of there, she pops up to 57 percent. So, it seems like they are going after the same voter. DAVIS: She certainly does better at the outset if he is not in the race. And, I think that the things to really pay attention to in those numbers is that even with the talk, the increasing likelihood That Vice President Biden might join the race, she still is significantly ahead of both him and Bernie Sanders. And, I think that, that speaks great volumes to the trust and faith that the democratic primary voters have placed in Mrs. Clinton is candidacy. O`DONNELL: John MacArthur, what do you make of the dynamics of the field now? JOHN MACARTHUR, PRESIDENT AND PUBLISHER OF HARPER`S MAGAZINE: Well, I think Hillary Clinton is out of gas. I wrote this in a newspaper column recently after watching her on MSNBC interviewed by Andrea Mitchell. And, I see her fading and I see her even if she is forced on us in the primary process, losing in the general election to Jeb Bush. And, I think the democrats, the party managers should be thinking about an alternative. And, the alternative I propose was Al Gore and Elizabeth Warren. I think Biden is going to be viewed as a retread. It allows Bush to run against Obama as opposed to another candidate. And, Gore has already beaten the Bushes. He is acceptable to the party regulars. And, Warren would rally all the diseffected Sanders voters who are going to be very angry when he gets pushed out of the race. So, I think the party, if you are as horrified by the idea of a Bush restoration as I am, a Bush dynasty, you got to come up with another solution. Hillary Clinton is not the one. Not going to win. O`DONNELL: But Jonathan Alter, you look at the republican field now and Bush dynasty does not look like a terribly scary prospect right now. JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I do not really see Jeb Bush being the republican nominee. I do think a democrat would have trouble with a Marco Rubio or John Kasich, who is kind of a Bush without the baggage. So, it is not going to be a cake walk for the democrats. It is just too early to know whether Hillary Clinton is out of gas. She might be. She might not be. We have seen so many cases in recent cycles that you and I have covered where things look so different in January than they did the previous September. And, then they look different again in March and April from the way they looked in January. The problem are the deadlines, as Joe Biden indicated that. O`DONNELL: What are the real deadlines? ALTER: The real deed deadlines are December. So, he does not actually have to decide, or Al Gore, if he would want to get in, have to decide by October/November. But, by December, you have these filing deadlines for the big primary states that come up in the winter and spring of 2016. And, so they do have to make some kind of a decision by then or they will not be on the ballot in those big states and cannot get the delegates to get the nomination. But, you know, there is nothing that is making Joe Biden have to decide before Hillary Clinton testifies on -- you know on these e-mails in October. And, where Al Gore or somebody else to get interested, they have a couple of months to make a decision. O`DONNELL: And, Wendy Davis, in this CNN poll, which showed Donald Trump with his first decline in -- still frontrunner but going down, Hillary Clinton still frontrunner and going up. DAVIS: Exactly. O`DONNELL: It is the first time we have seen her go up in one of these polls. DAVIS: That is exactly right. And, I think it is because she is speaking to the issues that American people care about. She is talking about income inequality. She is talking about racial injustices and the criminal justice arena. She is talking about creating a workplace where families have an opportunity to take leave if needed for childbearing or to take care of a loved one. She is talking about making sure that we protect women`s access to reproductive rights. She is talking about closing -- increasing -- excuse me, the minimum wage. These are the issues that are on the minds of everyday Americans and the more they hear her speak out on those, I think the greater their confidence becomes in her candidacy for president. O`DONNELL: John, what about that? Here is this CNN poll where she is going up. MACARTHUR: Well, I think she is so tied up in knots with the Democratic Party establishment and Wall Street that when somebody -- Sanders has been very polite up to this point. But, if he decides to go after her more directly about her relationship with, you know, I am more concerned about her relationship with people like Roger Altman and the Wall Street crowd that they raised money from. The Clinton Global Initiatives that we talk about so -- we do not really talk about it seriously, are all about shaking down campaign donors. It is not about doing non-profit work. (CROSSTALK) ALTER: I mean, I -- I got to take issue with that. Raising money for good causes. (CROSSTALK) MACARTHUR: No. No. O`DONNELL: It is 11:00. If you will stay here at the table we are going to finish this conversation online, another few minutes. But right now it is got to be the end of this show. Jonathan Alter, Wendy Davis, John MacArthur, thanks for being on the show. We are going to continue the conversation. Before we go, programming note. Pope Frances arrives in Washington tomorrow. MSNBC special coverage of Pope Frances in America will be led tomorrow by Brian Williams beginning tomorrow at 3:00 P.M. Eastern. Chris Hayes is up next. END