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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 10/26/15

Guests: Rick Wilson, E.J. Dionne, Jonathan Allen, Jon Ward, April Ryan

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: Rachel, quick question maybe you can help him with. Why is Rand Paul still running for president? MADDOW: I imagine it`s because it`s more fun than trying to hold on to his doomed senate seat in Kentucky. O`DONNELL: Oh, OK, so there`s that. (LAUGHTER) Thanks Rachel -- MADDOW: Thanks Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Well, with Joe Biden out, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have each noticed that there is only one person standing between each of them and the Democratic presidential nomination. And Donald Trump suddenly refuses to believe the polls. The polls showing him running behind Ben Carson. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: The doctor is dominating the Donald in the latest Iowa polls. DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATIONS & FOUNDER, TRUMP ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS: I don`t believe I did fall behind. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Trump campaign is never going to admit that there`s anything wrong. TRUMP: If they don`t give it to you, you`ve got to give it to yourself. Does that make sense? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he also going after Ben Carson on his religion. TRUMP: I mean, Seventh Day Adventist, I don`t know about. I just don`t know about. BEN CARSON, AUTHOR & RETIRED NEUROSURGEON: You know, I really refuse to really get into the mud pit. TRUMP: I think Ben Carson is a very low-energy person. CARSON: There was a time when I was, you know, very volatile, when I was 14 and I tried to stab someone. (CROSSTALK) SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`ve tried to murder no one, ever. How am I losing to these people? TRUMP: Actually, I think Ben Carson is lower energy than Jeb. JEB BUSH, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I`ve got a lot of really cool things that I can do, other than sit around being miserable, listening to people demonize me. TRUMP: His campaign is a disaster, it`s because I came along, I`m proud of it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb Bush is in Houston, Texas, trying to reassure donors he`s still in it to win it. TRUMP: He`s meeting today with mommy and daddy, and they`re working on their campaign. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whisper campaign`s already started that Bush is falling apart and that he may even -- BUSH: Blah-blah, that`s my answer -- (CROSSTALK) Blah-blah. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Donald Trump is in trouble. He is in trouble in Iowa where Ben Carson has opened a big lead over Donald Trump in the latest poll out today. Now, here`s how Donald Trump reacted this morning to two earlier polls that had come out on Thursday and Friday, showing Ben Carson with an eight-point lead in one poll and a nine-point lead in the other. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iowa is a problem all of a sudden. You`ve fallen behind Ben Carson, why? TRUMP: I don`t believe I did fall behind. It was one poll, and a second poll, they were small polls. And I was in Iowa three days ago. We had a town hall that was unbelievable -- it was packed, thousands of people standing outside. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Wait, what was that first thing that he said? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I don`t believe I did fall behind. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: So, now we know how Donald Trump reacts when he falls behind in a poll. He simply denies that he has fallen behind, and then he tries to suggest that there`s something wrong with those polls. The "Des Moines Register" poll and the Quinnipiac University poll are both of course, totally, legitimate polls. So, about four hours after Donald Trump said that on the "Today Show" this morning, the Monmouth University poll comes out showing Ben Carson with a much bigger lead over Donald Trump, a 14-point lead. A Monmouth University poll shows Ben Carson at 32 percent, Donald Trump down at 18 percent, Ted Cruz at 10 percent, Marco Rubio at 10 percent, Jeb Bush at 8 percent, Carly Fiorina at 5 percent. So, now it`s Ben Carson`s turn in the Trump spotlight. Here`s what Donald Trump said about Ben Carson on Saturday when Carson had pulled ahead of him in those first two polls. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Carson is super low! I don`t understand the whole deal, I don`t know what`s going on. Carson is lower energy than Bush! I don`t understand what`s going on. Because we`re going to talk about the fact that for the first time in a 100 days, I had a poll that said I`m in second place in Iowa. Oh, don`t worry, don`t worry, only in Iowa, the rest, we`re killing. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And while he was at it, Donald Trump raised Ben Carson`s religion; Seventh Day Adventist, a religion like most religions that Donald Trump doesn`t know anything about. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Look, I don`t have to say it, I`m Presbyterian -- can you believe it? Nobody believes I`m Presbyterian, I`m Presbyterian! I`m Presbyterian! I`m Presbyterian! Boy, that`s down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh Day Adventist, I don`t know about. I just don`t know about. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Here is Ben Carson`s response on Sunday morning. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARSON: It`s kind of interesting because the conflict that we had a couple of months ago is he thought I was questioning his faith and he went ballistic on that. So, it seems a little interesting that he would now be doing that. You know, I really refuse to really get into the mud pit. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Kasie Hunt, Msnbc political correspondent who joins us from Boulder, Colorado, the site of Wednesday`s Republican debate on "Cnbc". Also with us, E.J. Dionne, opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an Msnbc political analyst, and Jonathan Allen, chief political correspondent for Vox. He is also the co-author of "HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton". And joining us Rick Wilson, Republican strategist and contributor to "The Daily Beast" and POLITICO. Rick, give us the Republican read on the Carson surge in Iowa ahead of Trump. RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & CONTRIBUTOR TO THE DAILY BEAST: Well, it shows you how important the predicate for Donald was of saying I`m ahead in every poll. He is now, you know, behind in those two, he`s behind in the Wisconsin public radio poll behind Carson, and he`s really inside the margin in about five other surveys that are out there in the last ten days or so. So, he`s getting very nervous about keeping that narrative of I`m the winner, I`m the alpha, I`m the big guy. And he`s lashing out at Ben Carson which is kind of a difficult position to be in because the guy is unbelievably likable and people, you know, even if they`re not supporting Carson, they find him to be a nice guy and a pleasant guy and a mindful kind of guy. And so Trump`s freak-out on this and his complete loss of his -- loss of control about it, I think it`s a preview for what`s going to happen in the future. I think it`s going to get louder and uglier which is, you know, much like Trump`s casinos, the sort of way those things go downhill when they start to collapse. O`DONNELL: Well, let`s listen to what Trump said about Ben Carson`s religion appropriately on Sunday morning with George Stephanopoulos. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: And why raise it? TRUMP: Because I just said I don`t know about it. I said nothing about it. I would never say bad -- I`d never say bad about any religion. And as you know, in fact, I think you just had a quote on, I said exactly, I don`t know about it. So, you know -- STEPHANOPOULOS: Ben Carson has asked -- TRUMP: That`s not an insult. STEPHANOPOULOS: Ben Carson has asked for an apology, will you give it to him? TRUMP: Well, I didn`t say anything bad about it, I just don`t know about it. You know, I would certainly give an apology if I said something bad about it, but I didn`t. All I said was, I don`t know about it. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, your reaction to Trump on Ben Carson`s religion. EUGENE JOSEPH DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, I never knew there was prejudice against Seventh Day Adventist. We learn new things of this campaign every day -- by the way, they`ve done some great work, the Adventists, on religious freedom. I mean, I don`t think the result in Iowa is in the least bit surprising. Ben Carson has an enormous base among evangelicals who have been hearing his speeches, reading his books and the evangelical-backed candidate usually wins in Iowa, Huckabee in `08, Rick Santorum in 2012. And I think Trump is making -- it`s sort of nuts to go after Ben Carson, number one, and number two, he is probably going to lose Iowa. And I don`t know why he doesn`t let it go and keep moving on. It`s a crazy thing he`s doing, and, you know, we thought he would get in trouble for talking about McCain, we thought he`d get in trouble for this or that. Could it be that Ben Carson is the guy who is going to bring him down? O`DONNELL: And Kasie Hunt, Trump still is in the lead in the polls of the states, out becoming -- where the votes will come in after Iowa, New Hampshire, he`s in the latest 38 and Carson is at 12 in the latest poll there. South Carolina, Trump is at 40, Carson is at 23 -- Nevada, Trump is at 38, and Carson is at 22. That seems to be what the Trump campaign is focused on now. KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It seems that way, Lawrence, yes. But I think a good reminder for any of these presidential campaigns is all of those polls change after the results in Iowa come in. And sometimes the voters in Iowa -- I`m sorry, in New Hampshire will simply reject a candidate just because they won Iowa. And the Republican side it`s been particularly difficult to win both of those in a row. But you know, on Carson`s religion, I will say Trump has hit on possibly the one thing that he could ultimately undercut Carson with. As E.J. was saying, it is pretty hard for these guys to go after Carson. He`s mild mannered, he`s very well liked especially among older white women. There`s a particular demographic that he seems to appeal to, but if his primary focus is going to be evangelicals, you remember the Romney campaign. There was a lot of private discussion about the fact that his religion ultimately was a problem for him winning there. And you know, for a long time in American politics, being Catholic could be something that you whispered about. And frankly, what Donald Trump had to say, it wasn`t a dog whistle because a dog whistle is something you can`t actually hear -- (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: Yes -- HUNT: And this is something that he said out loud, you know, to evangelicals in Iowa. O`DONNELL: Yes, but I don`t -- E.J., you`re our senior religion correspondent here in this group. I don`t see -- people have said there`s like -- there`s something of a conflict between Seventh Day Adventist and Evangelicals. It strikes me as rather minor. DIONNE: Yes, I agree. I mean, you know, the Adventist celebrate the Sabbath differently which is why they`ve done good work on the first amendment rights, and one of the reasons. But I don`t see that -- but I mean, Kasie put her finger on, you know, trying to understand what Trump was doing, which -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- DIONNE: Isn`t always easy. It is absolutely the case that Carson is very strong right now in Iowa among evangelicals. So, he`s got to undercut that vote. But I just don`t see a prejudice against Adventists among evangelicals bringing him down -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- DIONNE: Like that. O`DONNELL: Well, you have, someone clearly whispered in Trump`s ear that Seventh Day Adventists have in some of their doctrines, some kind of unkind thoughts about other Christian sects. But it`s not something that they make a lot of noise about and it`s pretty hard to get traction on that, I think -- anyway. Jonathan Allen, the Trump strategy will probably soon become a post-Iowa strategy. It`s unclear to me how he goes into Iowa and makes up what he`s lost there. JONATHAN ALLEN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, VOX: I mean it`s very horrible, it`s the only thing I would point to, on that, is that, only 20 percent in that Monmouth poll of Republican caucus goers, likely caucus goers have said that they`re affirming who they`re going the vote for. O`DONNELL: Yes -- ALLEN: And I think that`s got to be encouraging to some of the other candidates -- some of the -- some of the non-Trump, non-Carson candidates. But this strategy in Iowa is pretty unusual. Ben Carson`s favorability rating in that poll was 84 percent, I would take 84 percent in my own household. O`DONNELL: Yes -- ALLEN: You know -- (LAUGHTER) So, going after him may not be the best strategy for Trump to build his own numbers. But after that -- so what he`s got to do is build a firewall. I think maybe giving up on Iowa soon is a good idea for him because it seems, as you suggest, unlikely he`s going to make up that distance. O`DONNELL: All right, let`s listen to what the new Republican frontrunner in Iowa said on "Meet the Press" yesterday about his energy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARSON: I have plenty of energy, but, you know, I am soft-spoken, I do have a tendency to be relaxed. I wasn`t always like that. (LAUGHTER) There was a time when I was, you know, very volatile. But, you know, I changed. CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: When was that? CARSON: As a teenager. I would go after people with rocks and bricks and baseball bats and hammers. And, of course, many people know the story when I was 14 and I tried to stab someone. And you know, fortunately, you know, my life has been changed, and I`m a very different person now. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson, the new Republican frontrunner in Iowa is a very different person than he was as a teenager, which I think we can say about every candidate who is running. (LAUGHTER) WILSON: Well, I think that -- HUNT: Not every person, Lawrence -- WILSON: I think that Carson`s -- his affect is so zen and so -- and so mindful and so peaceful that it makes a lot of these attacks on him very hard to see how they work in terms of the audience in Iowa particularly. And I think in some ways with the broader Republican audience as well. It is very difficult -- the guy -- the guy is like a -- like a stone in the rain. You just -- it`s very hard to see how that kind of attack is going to have the traction it might on another person. And he doesn`t -- there are two candidates that feel that Trump doesn`t seem to get in their head and that`s Carson and Rubio. Neither of whom seem bothered in the way that say Jeb gets bothered by Trump`s little needling. O`DONNELL: Yes, wow -- is Jeb bothered? We`re going to see more of that coming up. We`re going to take a break here. Which Republican presidential candidate said this? Iowa is a Democrat, a fairly radical Democrat. Tweet us your guesses, the answer is coming up. And Jeb Bush has got to come up with a better answer when he`s asked if his presidential campaign is struggling. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Last week, Mitt Romney was asked about an old friend Thomas Stemberg who had urged him to do healthcare reform in Massachusetts when Romney was governor. Mitt Romney said to the "Boston Globe", "without Romneycare, I don`t think we would have Obamacare". So without Tom, a lot of people wouldn`t have health insurance. Remember when Mitt Romney was opposed to Obamacare, which he is now saying has provided a lot of people with health insurance and making it very clear that, that`s a really good thing? Up next, the Republican candidate who used to be a Democrat and who said two years ago, if he ran for president he would be a very bad candidate. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Which Republican candidate told Glenn Beck two years ago that he wouldn`t run for president because he would, "be a terrible candidate." It is the same Republican candidate who told Yahoo political correspondent Jon Ward, "I was a Democrat, a fairly radical Democrat." The candidate said that when he was explaining why he was once in favor of abortion rights. Here is what that candidate said about abortion yesterday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TODD: Definitively, do you want to see Roe V. Wade overturned? CARSON: Ultimately, I would love to see it overturned. TODD: And that means all abortions illegal or is there still an exception that you would have? CARSON: I`m a reasonable person. And if people can come up with a reasonable explanation of why they would like to kill a baby, I`ll listen. TODD: Life and health of the mother? CARSON: Again, that`s extraordinarily rare situation. But if -- and that very rare situation had occurred, I believe there`s room to discuss that. TODD: Rape and incest? CARSON: Rape and incest, I would not be in favor of killing a baby because the baby came about in that way. And all you have to do is go and look up the many stories of people who have led very useful lives who were the result of rape or incest. TODD: What if somebody has an unwanted pregnancy, should they have the right to terminate it? CARSON: No, think about this. During slavery -- and I know that`s one of those words you`re not supposed to say, but I`m saying it. During slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave. Anything that they chose to do. And, you know, what if the abolitionists had said, you know, I don`t believe in slavery. I think it`s wrong. But you guys do whatever you want to do, where would we be? (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Jon Ward, a senior political correspondent for Yahoo whose piece, "The Political Education of Ben Carson" is on Jon, I was really struck by his answer to Chuck Todd yesterday and his answers to you and your piece about the very same question, which is what is his position on Roe versus Wade? You couldn`t get an answer out of him, you tried repeatedly, and it left me wondering in reading the piece, did he know what Roe versus Wade is when you were asking him about it? JON WARD, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO.COM: Yes, I think he did. I think I made it pretty clear what it was. We went back and forth four or five times on this matter. So, I think he knew what it was, but I was left pretty puzzled by that because it seemed pretty clear that, you know, he`s against abortion in that -- in that interview. He does have statements in the past about 20 years ago or so where he`s on the record saying he would not want abortion to be illegal. But it seemed like in that moment he was saying, I want abortion not to happen but he wouldn`t come out and say that he wanted the law to be overturned. It hadn`t crossed my mind that he didn`t know what Roe V. Wade was. That`s possible, I guess. O`DONNELL: Well, you know, when I watch him, and let`s just grant right off the bat. This is a guy whose head is filled with the most important information in the world, which is to save lives. Everything he knows as a physician, as a surgeon, as a brain surgeon. His brain is filled with much more important information than mine ever will be. But he seems to know next to nothing about government. And he seems like someone facing an oral exam where he knows he`s unprepared. WARD: Yes, and I think one of the clearest examples of this was actually on his answer on guns over the Summer, because not too long ago he had said that he didn`t want high automatic rifles in cities. And so, he then came back and said a little bit later, I didn`t know that you`re supposed to say that you`re in favor of the second amendment. I`m paraphrasing, but that`s essentially what he said. And that`s the clearest answer I`ve ever heard from anybody in politics who basically said I didn`t realize what the political answer was. And for him to say that shows such a lack of political sophistication that`s kind of jaw-dropping. O`DONNELL: Yes, your piece shows him wandering his way through the gun issue and -- WARD: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Adjusting here and there and thinking that, well, you know, we shouldn`t have certain kinds of weapons in urban centers. But, you know, you can have them somewhere else. You know, not understanding that federal law is for all 50 states and you can`t do a federal law that`s just about Baltimore or somewhere else. WARD: Yes, and it just -- I think again, I think it just shows that he hasn`t even worked through what his thoughts mean in the context of law and politics. He really is discovering it. I think your phrase "wandering his way through", I think he really is discovering it as he goes. So far, it hasn`t made much of an impact on his -- on his standing in the polls however. O`DONNELL: And Jon, as far as his quiet manner is concerned, in your interview, you said he actually spoke so quietly that you were worried your tape recorder wasn`t going to pick it up. WARD: That`s right. I mean, we were sitting in an SUV, there was a bag between us, and I don`t think I`ve ever had to do this where I am in a car and I have to hold my phone, my recorder like three inches from his face because otherwise the noise from the -- you know, from -- coming from outside the car was going to drown out his voice. He was very soft-spoken, not a lot of eye contact, not a lot of smiles -- yes, so, pretty small personality in that -- in that situation. O`DONNELL: The mandatory reading tonight about the new Republican frontrunner in Iowa, the political education of Ben Carson, Jon Ward, thank you very much for joining us tonight. WARD: Thanks Lawrence, thanks for having me. O`DONNELL: Coming up next, what is the worst thing, I mean, the worst thing Jeb Bush could have said when asked about his campaign struggling? Well, he actually said it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: When a politician speaks, you can usually summarize what they`ve said with blah-blah. I mean, they never literally say blah-blah. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: Blah-blah, that`s my answer -- (CROSSTALK) Blah-blah. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Wow, what question could possibly have gotten Jeb Bush to tell the truth like that? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whisperer campaign has already started that Bush is falling apart, he may not even -- BUSH: Blah-blah -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s -- you know what they`re saying out there -- BUSH: That`s my answer, blah-blah. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Oh, man, Jeb is going to need a better answer. Team Bush, including both presidents, Bush have spent the last couple of days in Houston in closed door meetings for what some are calling the rescue operation for Jeb Bush`s presidential campaign. And after his campaign announced major budget cuts including slashing salaries for staff, Jeb Bush said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: Made an adjustment in our campaign, that`s what leaders do. There`s been a new phenomenon in our party, the rise of candidates that have had no practical experience in politics. They are the frontrunners right now, they`ll be held to account just like all of us will. I`ve made an adjustment to harness the resources of our campaign, which are probably more than other campaigns. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The Bush campaign has spent more money in New Hampshire than anywhere else. And a new CBS News poll finds they`ve gotten nothing for that money. Donald Trump is leading in New Hampshire with 38 percent, Ben Carson is second with 12 percent, Jeb Bush is in third with 8 percent. And, that is up two points in that poll since last month. At a town hall on Saturday in South Carolina, Jeb Bush was so frustrated he said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not want to be elected president. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: OK. He actually said a little more than that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: If this election is about how we are going to fight to get nothing done, then I do not want anything -- I do not want any part of it. I do not want to be elected president to sit around and see gridlock just become so dominant that people literally are in decline in their lives. That is not my motivation. I got a lot of really cool things that I could do other than sit around being miserable listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a Joke. Elect Trump if you want that. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) If you want somebody -- if you want somebody who has a heart for people, who can fight for people, and can fix these things, then there are a couple of other people, and I believe I am the best one. And, that is what we should be focused on. (AUDIENCE APLAUDING) O`DONNELL: Back with us Kasie Hunt, E.J. Dionne and Rick Wilson. Rick Wilson, one thing that seems to me you never want to do as a political candidate is challenge the voters to elect the front-runner. RICK WILSON, CONTRIBUTOR, POLITICO: You know, I think the stumble Jeb made in those statements that I think was the most meaningful was saying he could go do other cool things. If you do not think being the president is the coolest thing out there then you got to think about -- you know, your messaging overall, you got to think about how you are approaching this with the voters. You should be coming to them with a vision and with a prospective sort of optimistic forward-looking vision. But, the other part of this is that Jeb is misreading a lot of this audience out there right now and they are responding to anger. They are responding to anxiety. They are responding to aggression. And you know, I have seen Jeb in tougher campaign -- in tough campaigns in Florida punching a lot harder than he is punching right now. And, I think that he is going to have to do that. He is going to have to adjust on that front and he is going to have to realize that Donald Trump is the guy eating his lunch. Nobody else in this field and start stepping it up. Voters are not going to respond to anything else except, you know, a match-up where these guys bump chests at some point. O`DONNELL: And, Kasie Hunt, the problem is that is his version of a punch at Trump, elect Donald Trump if you want the kind of noise that Trump makes. KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That deep frustration. Part of this, Lawrence, is Jeb Bush, if you talk to people who know him pretty well, they will say -- and you talk to people who have been around a lot of politicians, as you know there are competitive bunch. Jeb Bush is one of the most competitive of a very competitive group of people. And, I think what you are seeing there on that stage is a reflection of just how frustrating it is to try and compete against Donald Trump because nobody can figure out how to do it. Not just Jeb Bush but the entire network of people who surround him. You saw that "New York Times" story about his father in the paper this morning not understanding this Republican Party that he feels like he was a standard bearer for, for a long time. John Sinunu in New Hampshire saying, listen, if I told you that I understood where this electorate is, I would be making it up. I mean that is what you are seeing, I think, reflected in those comments he made in South Carolina. O`DONNELL: We watch Donald Trump come out of the gate as a candidate. Go after Jeb Bush nonstop at the beginning. It was as if no other republican candidate existed. He just wanted to take him down. Let us listen to what Trump said about Jeb Bush today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His campaign is a disaster. That is because I came along. I am proud of it. But, Bush is now cutting salaries by 40 percent and 50 percent. And, I say if you can cut 40 percent to 50 percent and they are all taking it. Everybody is saying, "We will take it." Why did not you do that seven months ago? If they take it now, they are going to take it then. So, why did not you do it seven months ago? So, he is meeting now with mom and dad. No, it is true. He needs counsel. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, Trump takes credit. He says, you know, when I came along, that is when the Bush campaign went south. And, he is right. That is what the polls show. E.J. DIONNE, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, he is entirely right about that. This is another new thing in the campaign. I do not think I have ever heard a candidate criticize another candidate for the salary structure of his campaign. But -- (LAUGHING) WILSON: Or their parents. O`DONNELL: Yes. DIONNE: The fascinating thing about Bush is he has said and I think he meant that he really wants to run a positive campaign. And, yet he has now been put in a position where he got to run a negative campaign in two different directions. On the one hand, Trump made him started to bring him down. Bush thought he could get back into the race by attacking Trump. That was not very effective. Now, his campaign is going after Rubio. There is a power point that his campaign puts out that has the real killer pointing and that says Marco is a GOP Obama. And, so what you got is Jeb in this really difficult position, because he and Rubio are in competition for the normal or old-fashioned position. And, in the meantime he is still got to fight off Trump. No wonder he says he is miserable. O`DONNELL: All right, we are going to take a break here. Kasie Hunt and Rick Wilson, thanks for joining us tonight. E.J. is going to stick around. Coming up, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are finally talking about each other. Not attacking, just talking. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Listen to Bernie Sanders 20 years ago in the House of Representatives responding to Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham, who attacked democrats who supported allowing gay people to serve in the military. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The same ones that would put homos in the military, the same ones that would not fund Brach, the same ones that would not clear up -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Mr. Chairman. SANDERS: No. I will not sit down, you socialist. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: Now, my ears may have been playing a trick on me, but I thought I heard the gentleman a moment ago say something, quote, unquote, about "Homos" in the military. Was I right in hearing that expression? DUKE CUNNINGHAM, FORMER (R) CALIFORNIA REPRESENTATIVE: Absolutely, putting homosexuals in the military. SANDERS: You said something about homos in the military. Was the gentleman referring to the many thousands and thousands of gay people who have put their lives on the line in countless wars defending this country? Is that the group of people that the gentleman was referring to? CUNNINGHAM: I am talking about the military people in the military do not support -- SANDERS: That is not what we are talking about. You used the word, "Homos" in the military. You have insulted thousands of men and women who have put their lives -- CUNNINGHAM: I am talking about you and liberals like you that keep defending -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Gentlemen. Gentlemen -- SANDERS: Reclaiming my time, Mr. Chairman. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Duke Cunningham was later convicted of accepting bribes and was sent to prison. Up next, Bernie Sanders believes the political past really matters. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: In the Rose Garden last week, Joe Biden made it very clear that he decided not to run for president because he could not win, but for anyone who did not understand that, last night on "60 Minutes" he said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NORAH O`DONNELL, CBS CO-ANCHOR: Is it that you think you could not win or that you did not want to run? JOE BIDEN, CURRENT U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I could not win. I will be very blunt. If I thought we could have put together the campaign that our supporters deserved and our contributors deserved, I would have gone ahead and done it. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: With Joe Biden out of the race, Bernie Sanders is finally focusing on what stands between him and the democraticnomination for president, Hillary Clinton. In Iowa on Saturday, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders each addressed the Jefferson Jackson dinner. They each made veiled references to each other. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know -- I know and you know, it is not enough just to rail against the republicans or the billionaires. We actually have to win this election in order to rebuild the middle class and make a positive difference in people`s lives. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: Today, some are trying to rewrite history by saying they voted for one anti-gay law to stop something worse. That is not the case. There was a small minority in the house opposed to discriminating against our gay brothers and sisters, and I am proud that I was one of those members. (AUDIENCE CHEERING) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: In the last hour with Rachel Maddow, Bernie Sanders said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: And, then we get to this issue of Doma. Here is my point. It was a simple point. I have had in many years in politics, had to make tough votes. As you just indicated, the times then were very, very different. We had a lot of homophobia. And, it bothered me to hear Secretary Clinton saying, "Well, you know, Doma, what really was about something even worse. Well, that just was not true. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, April Ryan, White House Correspondent and Washington Bureau Chief for American Urban Radio Networks and back with us Jonathan Allen. April, there is Bernie Sanders trying to bring the political past into this campaign. Something that we have not seen much of before. APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Bernie Sanders is someone who has been unbought and unbossed and unboughed. But, now he is having to succumb to the pressure that he made a little faux pas at the debate, where he gave Hillary Clinton that entrance to stardom, I guess, another piece of her stardom in the last two weeks. And, then she went on for the Benghazi hearing and she is now at this incredible level. People are looking at her as possibly the democratic nominee, more so than they did a couple weeks, couple months ago. So, now, he got to really fight against her, something that he did not want to do, but he got to do it. He, you know, talked to me on his birthday and he said, you know, he likes the fact that people are feeling the burn to a certain extent. He likes the fact that people are moving in his direction but in order for those people to move in his direction now he is really going to have to point out Hillary Clinton`s fault, her negatives, and put the truth out there that he sees. O`DONNELL: But, Jonathan Allen, on the defense of marriage act vote, I am not sure that Bernie Sanders has all the political ammunition that he wishes he had in that vote, because we have not been able to find any record of -- anything in the congressional record of him speaking on it. And, his chief -- his campaign chief of staff said in a report in "Slate" today, they found an old quote -- where the campaign chief of staff said, "This vote was exclusively about states` rights. It was not about trying to defend the right of gay people to marry or any way fight for the right of gay people to marry." And, indeed, Bernie Sanders was not in favor of gay people marrying. He simply did not believe that marriage law should be legislated at the federal level, which was something that other believed at that time, too, who had no intention of supporting gay marriage. JONATHAN ALLEN, CO-AUTHOR, HRC: Lawrence, as you know, people will give all sorts of reasons for votes. The votes speak for themselves. I think this is an issue that is a little bit muddied by time. It is hard to -- you know, we are thinking back 20 years here. Obviously, that was a vote that at the time the house took, that the senate took, President Clinton was in favor of the defensive marriage act signed it. That looked perhaps a little different today than it might have at the time. The Clinton argument is that it would have been worse if there had been a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, that obviously, was an attempt to do that not only at the time but subsequently. But, I think the larger issue here is Bernie Sanders is for the first time really going after Hillary Clinton in an attempt to make her toxic to democrats. And, that has been a big question, whether he would do that or not. He has been doing it a little bit on the campaign trail. I was in Iowa with him in September as he went to a bunch of events. He was talking about their differences a lot, but he was not really going for the kill. And, I think in order for him to really get his campaign going and to have a chance against her, and again, this is a slim chance, but what he has to do is convince democrats that she would be a worse nominee, that she does not hold their values and that she would be a worse president. And, right now, he has not made that sell. And, if he does not go negative against her, he never will. O`DONNELL: Well, he has been very reluctant to mention her name on the campaign trail. He certainly mentioned her name a lot tonight with Rachel -- Rachel was asking about Hillary Clinton, so he did not have much voice. Let us listen to Hillary talking about Bernie in Iowa without mentioning his name. The key words here were railing against billionaires. That is how we know she is talking about Bernie. Let us listen to this. All right, what she said -- the control room does not have it. But, she said, "I know, when you know that it is not enough to just rail against the republicans or the billionaires. We actually have to win this election in order to rebuild the middle class." And, so, April Ryan, in there she gets the notion of railing against billionaires as being kind of hollow and she gets electability in there. We have to win this election. RYAN: Right now, she looks like she is electable. I mean, she -- I mean, she -- for 11 hours she sat there -- I mean I hate to go back over the Benghazi hearings again. But 11 hours, she sat there. She was cool as a cucumber in many instances. She had a victory last week. And, not only that, she had a victory at the debates. So, she really at this time looks very presidential. She looks electable. Bernie Sanders has gained a lot of ground. He is, you know, the man who gives the -- he is so passionate. You can sit there right no front of him and you are tired just by listening to him be as passionate as he is. So, he has to find a way in and she has to knock him down to take his numbers away from him, so she can indeed be the nominee. So, the fight is definitely on. O`DONNELL: April Ryan and Jonathan Allen, thank you both for joining us tonight. Up next, some truly horrible video captured today in a South Carolina classroom where a police officer attacks a high schoolgirl. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: A sheriff`s deputy assigned to be the school resource officer at a high school in South Carolina is under investigation tonight after a classroom incident today with a female student but was caught on video. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BEN FIELDS, SOUTH CAROLINA SHERIFF: Come on. I am going to get you up. Put your hands behind your back. Give me your hands. Give me your hands. Give me your hands. Give me your hands. Give me your hands. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Richland`s County Sheriff Leon Lott has seen the video and is, quote, "Very disturbed by it." The sheriff told a reporter from a local NBC station, quote, "The student was told she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions, which she again refused. The video then shows the incident resisting and being arrested by the SRO. She was asked to leave the classroom twice." Aaron Johnson, a student in the room, who apparently saw the incident gave this account to NBC news. "The girl was asked by the teacher Mr. Long to leave the classroom and go to the discipline office. She ignored him. Then the administrator came in and asked her if he needed to get the resource officer. She ignored him. And, then the officer came in, he asked if she was going to go or if she had to make her go. Then he grabbed her and pulled her out of her desk and she fell on the ground with the desk still on her. He then threw her across the room and then got on top of her. Another student tried to stand up for her, which also led to her arrest." The school district released this statement. "We are working closely and in full cooperation with the Richland County Sheriff`s department to conduct a thorough and complete investigation. The officer has been identified as Deputy Ben Fields and he has been placed on administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation. There were no injuries reported." Coming up, is president Obama close to a big deal with congressional republicans? (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: While Republican House members were desperately searching for a new speaker, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were quietly trying to govern. The bipartisan congressional leadership has been working with the White House for weeks on an agreement that would raise the debt ceiling and fund the government through March 2017. Although, there is no compromise bill yet with any detail, the republican members of the house and senate met tonight with leadership to discuss the outlines of the agreement. Here is Republican Congressman Tom Cole`s reaction tonight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM COLE, (R) OKLAHOMA, CONGRESSMAN: Given where everybody is at and where they were at on Thursday and Friday of last week, that is a bigger deal than I expected, and it certainly beats a clean debt ceiling vote. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne is back with us. E.J., we just have the broad outlines of this at this point. It would increase sequestration spending levels by $25 billion for military, another $25 billion for domestic spending. And, there are a bunch of things in here but it looks like it may be very difficult for the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party to accept this. DIONNE: Right. Well, I mean, this achieves a couple of major objectives that president Obama had. He wanted to lift sequestration. The crazy artificial caps, and he wanted the defense spending and domestic spending to go up in tandem. He did not just want it all to go to defense. I think that the Tea Party folks could have problems with it because the cuts in the bill do not cover all of the increases, about 30 percent that is not offset. So, they are going to complain about that. And, I suspect you might lose some democrats on this bill because there are cuts in Medicare payments to doctors and some changes to the social security disability insurance fund. I assume if Pelosi is involved, they will have enough democratic votes, but the republicans may need to cough up more votes than usual to get the thing passed. O`DONNELL: We have John McCain saying tonight, "I think we could move forward with this. I think it is the best deal we can get. But, who on that conservative wing in the Republican House is going to think that raising the debt ceiling out to 2017 is going to be something that they can vote for? DIONNE: Well, clearly the 40 or so freedom caucus members are going to be against it. And, I suspect a lot of other republicans are going to vote against it, because I am sure the communications -- right wing communications complex is going to raise a ruckus about this. But, I think there will be a lot of republicans who will say, "Look, we just look bad when the government shuts down, when we threaten the debt ceiling. This gets us through the election. We do not have to worry about any of this stuff." I think they are -- could be quite a few republicans who would be very happy to put these fights off until the next presidency. O`DONNELL: This is going to be the big news of tomorrow. We will be learning a lot more detail about it. E.J. Dionne, thanks very much for joining us tonight. DIONNE: It is great to be with you, thanks. O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next. END