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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 1/21/2016

Guests: Charlie Cook, Tom Davis, Jonathan Alter, Thom Hartmann, Christopher Hill, Patrick Kennedy, Joy Reid , Jonathan Alter, Tom Davis

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: January 21, 2016 Guest: Charlie Cook, Tom Davis, Jonathan Alter, Thom Hartmann, Christopher Hill, Patrick Kennedy, Joy Reid , Jonathan Alter, Tom Davis

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Happens five minutes after -- against Trump, this goes live in about a minute.

And they`re hoping this is going to dominate the headlines on the Republican side of the political equation.

I`m sure it will until the exact opposite thing happens five minutes after.


That`s what politics is like this year. 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, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, I think the lesson for the last hour is in both parties, the word establishment has no agreed-upon meaning anymore.

MADDOW: It`s like judicial activism. You know, like --


MADDOW: What`s that? It`s bad, I know, but I have no idea --


MADDOW: What it is --

O`DONNELL: Exactly --

MADDOW: Exactly, thanks --

O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel --

MADDOW: Take it easy.

O`DONNELL: We will have another Hillary versus Bernie debate tonight with representatives from each campaign and we`re told that Donald Trump is about to take questions -- which is rare for him -- questions from reporters in Nevada.

No word on whether he`s going to keep them in one of those little pens where he keeps reporters fenced in.

When he does that, we will go to that as the battle between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz gets more intense by the day.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have been criticized by a lot of people.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not interested in ideas that sound good on paper but will never make it in the real world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re seeing a head versus heart argument playing out.


CLINTON: In theory, there`s a lot to like about some of his ideas. But in theory isn`t enough.

SANDERS: It is just too late for establishment politics and establishment economics.

CLINTON: A president has to deliver in reality.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She`s a mechanical candidate. People like people who have vision. They`re not really into plumbers.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven`t even started on her yet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an election cycle that`s beyond strange.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re seeing the Washington establishment run behind Donald Trump.

TRUMP: Oh, give me a break.


CRUZ: They said, he`s someone we can make a deal with.

TRUMP: Guys like Ted Cruz will never make a deal. No, you cannot have that!

CRUZ: With vigor!

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think Donald Trump`s domestic and foreign policy is gibberish.

TRUMP: No more oreos! No more oreos! It`s going to be tough getting off oreos.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it`s between Trump and Cruz, what does the establishment do?

GRAHAM: It`s like being shot or poisoned, what does it really matter.


O`DONNELL: In Republican campaign for president, it has come to this -- Donald Trump being accused of being part of the establishment and Ted Cruz accused of being Ted Cruz.


TRUMP: You know, his new line of attack is that I`ve become establishment -- oh, give me a break.


Because Bob Dole who is a terrific guy said Trump will do better than Cruz, which is -- you know, believe me, I will do better than Cruz.


TRUMP: Cruz is going down.


He`s going down. Now, he`s having a hard time, he looks like a nervous wreck. He`s going down. He had his moment. He had his moment. He had his moment and he blew it.

Here`s a United States senator, Republican, doesn`t have support of one other Republican senator.

There`s something wrong there.


TRUMP: And I can tell you, they like me, those guys --


TRUMP: And there`s nothing wrong with that, folks. I told you, he`s trying to paint me as part of the establishment. And somebody said establishment?

Well, how come Sarah Palin just backed him? And you know what? There`s a point at which -- let`s get to be a little establishment.

We got to get things done, folks, OK? Believe me, don`t worry, we`re going to make such great deals.

But at a certain point, you can`t be so strident, you cannot get along. We`ve got to get along with people.


O`DONNELL: And here`s Ted Cruz`s updated stump speech in New Hampshire today where he has magically transformed Donald Trump into now the leader, the leader of the Republican establishment.


CRUZ: Donald just a couple of days ago drew the difference between me and him. And he said look, Ted won`t go along to get along.

He won`t cut a deal. So if as a voter you think what we need is more Republicans in Washington to cut a deal with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, then I guess Donald Trump is your guy.

That`s what the Washington establishment is saying. If you want someone to continue the cronyism, to continue the corporate welfare, to continue the corruption of Washington, from Washington picking winners and losers, then we`re seeing the Washington establishment run behind Donald Trump.


O`DONNELL: The "New York Times" reports that Washington Republicans are ready to get behind Donald Trump if it means stopping Ted Cruz.

Report says, "in the minds of these Republicans, it would be better to effectively rent the party to Mr. Trump for four months this Fall through the general election, than risk turning it over to Mr. Cruz for at least four years as either the president or next in line leader for the 2020 nomination."

But (AUDIO GAP 00:04:58-00:05:04) tonight against Donald Trump. Tomorrow`s issue, as Rachel mentioned will carry this cover with 22 prominent conservatives from Glenn Beck to Bill Kristol coming out against Donald Trump.

In a new "Cnn" poll of Iowa, Republicans out today, Donald Trump is now at 37 and Ted Cruz is 11 points down at 26.

Marco Rubio is at 14, Ben Carson at 6 and Jeb Bush way down at 3. Joining us now, Charlie Cook, Nbc News political analyst and Editor and Publisher of "The Cook Political Report".

Former Republican Congressman Tom Davis from Virginia, also with us Joy Reid, Msnbc national correspondent and Jonathan Alter, Msnbc political analyst and a columnist for "The Daily Beast".

Charlie Cook, you`ve seen a lot, you thought you`ve seen everything maybe, but then comes this week, which I think we can say every week of this campaign.

This is an unprecedented kind of revolution we`re seeing in the Republican Party. "National Review" out to stop Trump.

We`re hearing reports of so-called establishment Republicans out to stop Ted Cruz. Where are we, Charlie?

CHARLIE COOK, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Tom Davis and I were just talking before the show, that you know, you could study politics for 30, 40 years and it`s not a whole lot of value this year.

They`re all -- that`s out the window. I think the key phrase, the key thing that, that "New York Times" piece said, was they would rather not that the establishment would rather nominate Donald Trump and to see him lose in November than potentially nominate Ted Cruz and Cruz wins for four years.

But it`s a matter of -- I mean, they don`t like -- they don`t think that the establishment, I think, generally speaking, they don`t think that Trump has the faintest idea how to govern.

But they also don`t believe he`d win a general election versus Cruz who was there as a personal animosity.

I mean, Bob Dole, for example -- and I love Bob Dole. But Cruz led the charge basically against this disabilities treaty that meant a great deal to Bob Dole.

So this stuff is, this is personal between many people in the establishment and Ted Cruz. It`s not about pragmatic politics.

O`DONNELL: Tom Davis, I have last year`s list of the Republican establishment right here in front of me.

And your name is right here under the Ds. I don`t have the updated version where Donald Trump is now your leader.

Can you guide us through what`s happening here and where you expect this to be after Iowa?

You`ve got the "National Review" here where their only mission, it seems, as of now, only thing they care about is stop Trump.

And then we see everything else that`s going on in this campaign, the very personal back-and-forth now between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Where does this go?

TOM DAVIS, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: Well, first of all, I don`t think the "National Review" folks really get this.

This is really an anti-establishment revolt on the part of grassroots Republicans and "National Review" is the conservative establishment.

When Donald Trump went after Megyn Kelly at Fox News, the conservative establishment over there, it didn`t hurt him at all.

The more they isolated him, sent him out there, it just spikes up his people, and I think his lead -- he`ll get a lead in Iowa over this.

I think it really backfires on them. But the voters right now don`t trust anything big.

They don`t trust big business, they don`t trust big government and Trump has been able to just, I think articulate the vision of the little guy if you will, of the outsider.

As somebody who stands up against political correctness and is riding that. And the Republican establishment doesn`t know what to do, but the conservative establishment doesn`t either.

And I`d say one other thing, the more these guys go after this vote, I think it makes them much more marginal in a general election where Republicans have to win Iowa.

I mean, they have to win Ohio and Florida and probably Virginia. And the way they`re talking right now, they`re not going to be viable.

O`DONNELL: Let`s get that "National Review" cover up in a full screen once again. I need to have it up here while we talk about this.

I got to -- Joy Reid, when you look at that, is it possible, is it possible that Donald Trump simply purchased that as a front-page ad as his answer to Ted Cruz`s accusation that he is the leader of the establishment?

JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, he couldn`t have done better if he had.

You know, I think it`s interesting, you know, it`s interesting listening to Tom Davis and the others talk about it.

Because there really is this sense that as Bruce Bartlett(ph) told me -- the former Republican-turned independent.

That for 30 or 40 years, you`ve had the elite of the Republican Party amass a large enough coalition to pass the things that the elites wanted.

Namely very low taxes for themselves and deregulation for their businesses.

And they assembled a large enough coalition by essentially feeding blue collar white voters everything from evangelicalism and supporting them in terms of their religious faith.

And promising them that they would legislate around that. Promising them that they would legislate around social issues that were important to them.

Promising that they would beat back the liberal -- creeping liberalizing of the culture by feeding them even with their deep-down gut feeling that there was something really inherently wrong with Barack Obama.

And they`ve been able to hold that together with the help of the entertainment complex as a part of the conservative movement, with the help of movement conservatives.

Immigration is where the bargain just broke down. And that base, the base of the party is no longer willing to go along with any part of the elite.

Not the movement conservatives, not the money -- part of the party. They`re just not willing to go along with it.

Immigration was the deal breaker and they are gone. They cannot be brought back into the pen, not even by the mighty "National Review".

None of the people who are voting for Trump are going to read that, they`re not going to listen to those people, they are not listening.

O`DONNELL: All right, let`s listen to Lindsey Graham today who is apparently now the leader of the stop Trump and stop Cruz campaign.


GRAHAM: If you nominate Trump and Cruz, I think you get the same outcome. You know, whether it`s death by being shot or poisoning, does it really matter?

I don`t think the outcome will be substantially different. Here`s my take. Dishonest, which is Hillary Clinton in the eyes of the American people, beats crazy.


O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, you remember everything, so please remind me the last time a senator in a party criticized the two frontrunners in his party.

Two frontrunners for the presidency as one being death by being shot and the other one being poisoning.

I`m having trouble remembering the last time that happened.

JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: Well, you know, I really do think you have to go back to 1968 when the Democratic Party was just rend asunder.

And in some ways, you know, Bernie Sanders reminds me of Gene McCarthy, the kind of pied-piper quality of his campaign against the establishment in the Democratic Party.

But it`s much fiercer on the Republican side. And you have a real crack- up. It did not happen overnight.

Remember Pat Buchanan`s campaign in 1996. We`ve had 20 years now of very frustrated, blue collar Republicans who do not find, as Joy indicated, that you know, they`re being represented in today`s Republican Party.

But I also think we shouldn`t get ahead of ourselves. It looks like we`re headed for three lanes in these Republican primaries.

You`ve got, you know, the Cruz lane, the hard core traditional conservative lane, you`ve got Trump and the -- you know, populist/fascist Republican lane.

And then I think you do have a country club Republican, classic establishment lane which hasn`t been filled yet.

So, for instance, if John Kasich finishes a strong second in the New Hampshire primary, you know, he could get a tremendous amount of new support very quickly.

It could be Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, whoever in that particular lane, because there are still a lot of traditional Republicans who are not, you know, as quite as angry as the Trump supporters.

And they may yet still be heard from as we move beyond Iowa and New Hampshire.

O`DONNELL: Yes, Charlie Cook has long been insisting this is going to break into a three-way race at some point.

We`re going to take a quick break here, we are waiting for Donald Trump to speak to reporters.

We`ll take that live when it happens. Also coming up, another Hillary versus Bernie debate without Hillary or Bernie, but representatives of their campaign will be here.


O`DONNELL: We`re standing by for a live Donald Trump press conference where of course anything can happen.

Also coming up, we will have a live Hillary versus Bernie debate with representatives of that campaign, which I expect to be polite and civil. All that coming up.


O`DONNELL: It`s just ten days now before the Iowa caucuses. And the imagery of the Democratic campaign has solidified, idealism versus pragmatism.

Today, the idealism campaign released the best political TV ad produced so far this season.

The words in the ad were written 47 years ago, the last time we had a presidential campaign as wild as this one.



SANDERS: I`m Bernie Sanders and I approve this message.


O`DONNELL: Simon and Garfunkel have picked sides. The pragmatism campaign conquered today with a two and a half-minute video in which the candidate did not appear.


JAKE SULLIVAN, FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER TO HILLARY CLINTON: Hi, my name is Jake Sullivan, I`m Secretary Clinton`s foreign policy adviser.

Senator Sanders is offering some ideas for how to deal with ISIS and Iran. One idea that Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton agree on is that we shouldn`t send U.S. combat forces back to Iraq.

I have the greatest respect for Senator Sanders, but when you look at the rest of his ideas, they just don`t make a lot of sense.


O`DONNELL: A new "Cnn" poll released today shows Bernie Sanders is ahead in Iowa with 51 percent and Hillary Clinton at 43 percent.

And a Monmouth-KBUR Iowa poll shows a similar gap, but with Hillary Clinton on the top in this one at 48 percent, Bernie Sanders at 39 percent.

Back with us, Charlie Cook, Tom Davis, Joy Reid and Jonathan Alter. Joy Reid, inspiration and idealism versus pragmatism. Which one of those campaigns do you want to run?

REID: I mean, you know what, the thing is that when your party has the White House, you`re not necessarily looking for a changed candidate.

That`s the challenge that Bernie Sanders really faces in this cycle. Obama Democrats are not looking to rip up his Affordable Care Act.

They don`t necessarily believe that Bernie Sanders version of healthcare, the sort of complete, you know, socialized healthcare that he`s proposing is practical.

So, Bernie Sanders definitely represents those liberal Democrats who see great unfinished work in the Obama era.

They feel disappointed that there wasn`t enough retribution against Wall Street. They`d love to see the banks broken up in those kinds of things.

But I think the bulk of Democratic primary voters, particularly voters of color are really more Obama Democrats than they are changed Democrats.

So, that is a real uphill challenge. I think Hillary holds the stronger hand going into these caucuses and early primaries, except for New Hampshire, of course.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, it seems to me that the Hillary campaign or the Bernie campaign could have made that ad with almost identical visuals.

You just had to get Simon and Garfunkel`s permission for the music. And Bernie got the music and so far he`s got the best ad of the year.

ALTER: Yes, you know, Simon and Garfunkel Democrats are still a force in the party. And that ad went right at the marrow of liberal Democrats.

You know, this conjured a nostalgia, a feeling of lost promise, of lost youth, that for anybody who ever, you know, experienced the 1960s for instance, you know, it`s a powerful ad.

But I also think it works for younger people, too. And right now, obviously, Sanders is very hot and even cool among younger Americans.

But I do think that, you know, the basic point is that these elections really aren`t about the past.

So for all of the nostalgia that this invokes and these warm, very warm feelings for Sanders, people do recognize that the kind of liberalism that he represents is part of America`s past more than its future.

And that the future, it`s really about making very hard pragmatic decisions. Even if they`re hard to sell and make romantic and sexy in the middle of a campaign.

Overtime, I think Hillary will be able to convince people in the Democratic party, their heads more than their hearts.

O`DONNELL: Charlie Cook, I`ve heard that song since the day it came out more times than I can possibly count.

It never sounded like a campaign song to me before (INAUDIBLE) brilliantly, put it in that ad.

And it seems to me it addresses all sorts of issues that Bernie Sanders has to be able to counter, including his age.

I mean, that just doesn`t feel like an ad for a candidate who`s old and out of it.

COOK: Well, I kept waiting for Sanders to break out an acoustic guitar and (INAUDIBLE).


COOK: I`m not -- I mean, different people can read different things into that. But let`s get down to reality here.

Outside of number one caucus states, number two New England, and number three college towns, Bernie Sanders has nothing going his way -- nothing.

You can`t win a Democratic nomination with that narrower base. Until he breaks into African-Americans, Latinos, until he breaks into some, you know, down-scale whites, this isn`t going to happen.

And it`s just way too narrow. His -- you know, you look at the front part of the calendar, and there are places that Sanders will do really well.

But you get deeper into the calendar, this is not a very Sanders-friendly calendar.

O`DONNELL: Tom Davis, I know Republicans are obsessed as they should be with the Republican side of this race.

But how does the Democratic race look from the Republican side of the fence?

DAVIS: Well, I mean, the good news from a Republican perspective is this thing is going to go on for a while.

It doesn`t look like it`s going to be settled early. The irony is that Bernie Sanders is polling higher against the Republicans than Hillary Clinton.

It`s very clear Hillary Clinton has some problems with the electorate that she is vulnerable.

The question for the Republicans is, you know, can they nominate what I call a mammal? Or somebody that can be -- sit up there and be acceptable to a wide variety of voters and independent voters.

As opposed to somebody who just strikes a responsive chord with the Republican base. If they do that, I think they have a good chance to win.

Sanders great strength, I think would be -- large is, he`s not been as vetted at this point.

He appears to be something new, he`s a likable person. You know, if you look down and the campaign progresses in some of his earlier statements and ideas become more public, that may change.

But I think it shows Hillary Clinton`s vulnerability at this point, and the Republicans may be blowing a great opportunity to take the presidency.

O`DONNELL: All right, quick break here, when we come back, we`re going to get to our Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders debate.

Tonight`s issue is foreign policy, we`ll have representatives of the campaign join us.


O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s Hillary versus Bernie debate without Hillary or Bernie.

A new "Cnn" Iowa poll released today shows that in Iowa Hillary Clinton leads on ability to handle foreign policy at 65 percent to Bernie Sanders` 25 percent.

For tonight`s foreign policy debate, we asked each campaign to provide someone to join us.

Representing the Clinton campaign, Christopher Hill, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and a former Assistant Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration.

The Sanders campaign could not provide a representative, but we are joined by a Bernie Sanders supporter and a very able one, Thom Hartmann, host of the nationally syndicated radio show "The Tom Hartman Program".

Thank you both very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.



O`DONNELL: Ambassador Hill, what is the most important foreign policy difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders?

HILL: You know, I think Secretary Clinton has made it very clear that this opening to Iran, this nuclear deal is a positive development.

She worked on it very hard herself. But then the issue is all the other stuff. I mean, Iran is a country, a work in progress.

And I think we need to be pretty cautious with a country that really, it continues to be run by people whose values, to put it mildly, we don`t share.

So, a lot of work to do, and yet on the Bernie Sanders side -- and I have great respect for him -- you have the impression that he thinks now that the nuclear deal is done, we can move ahead very quickly with Iran. And, so, I think there is a real concern there that we could be causing even bigger problems in the Middle East than we have been solving.

O`DONNELL: Thom Hartman, your response?

HARTMANN: Well, that was lacking any specifics. I remember back in 2007 - - or 2008 when Barack Obama suggested that he would talk to Iran and Hillary Clinton spoke poorly of that. I think she called him naive, as I recall. And, to the best of my knowledge, Bernie is not calling for like a U.S. Embassy or something in Iran.

He said, "We need to move into the direction of normalizing relations." But for me, I think the biggest difference between the two is one of judgment. Senator Sanders opposed the Iraq war. He got that, he got that early on. Secretary Clinton, then Senator Clinton listened to the exact same evidence from the Bush Administration. She voted for the war in Iraq. He voted against it.

I think that some of the other foreign policy issues that have been problematic for Secretary Clinton have been, for example, Libya and Syria. I am more confident in Bernie Sanders` judgment than I am in Hillary Clinton`s frankly. Although, I think that both of them are excellent candidates and I would in a heartbeat vote for either one of them for President.

O`DONNELL: Ambassador Hill, what about that? I think we can agree in this discussion that the single most important foreign policy decision of the 21st century was whether to go to war in Iraq.

Bernie Sanders says he got that right. He says Hillary Clinton got it wrong. And, that that is of lasting importance and also explains much of the chaos that we see in the region today. What is response to that?

HILL: Well, first of all, I agree with you. There is a lot of chaos in the region. I would not just make it about what the United States did. I mean there are huge problems in the region of historical proportions, but of incredible complexity.

If you look at that chess board in Syria where you have 60 percent Sunnis. You have Bashar al-Assad ally of 15 percent of the population. You got Christians. You got Jews. It is a very complex thing. And, so, it is hard to sort of talk about these issues in very broad strokes, should we or should not we?

Clearly, we need to be engaged in this part of the world. And, we need to be engaged with pretty complex diplomacy. I think we have done a good job on this nuclear deal with Iran. But, I respectfully disagree with what I heard Senator Sanders say the other day, which is we ought to invite more, or support more Iranians in Syria.

I think that kind of thing -- I mean, we need to really focus on the complexity of the diplomacy and be very careful about suggesting that proxy troops from another country are somehow going to solve this problem.

HARTMANN: But there are Iranian troop in Syria right now fighting ISIS, fighting ISIS successfully --

HILL: There are --

HARTMANN: -- both in Syria and Iraq. And, Hillary Clinton has suggested that we do the same thing we did in Libya, put in a no-fly zone. The no- fly-zone in Libya, obviously, led to the end of Gaddafi, but that is a direct pass from that to ISIS now controlling large chunks of Libya.

Putting a no-fly zone into Syria, where you got no -- where Russia has one of their largest military -- in fact, the largest naval base, maybe the only naval base in the Mediterranean. I am sure the ambassador would know better than me. It seems more aggressive, frankly, than would be -- just speaking for myself, not speaking for Senator Sanders.

HILL: I understand, but these are pretty complex issues. And, there are a lot of Kurds today, who are alive today because of the no-fly zone the U.S. had in Iraq for many years. There are also Bosnians, who are alive today because of the no-fly zone we put in the Bosnia.

So, and the same goes for Libyans. I do not suggest that these are easy calls, but they are tough calls and they are also complex calls. We need to be thoroughly engaged on these issues and we need to understand the nuances of them.

HARTMANN: I totally agree.

HILL: You know, this is not something where we can just talk broadly.

HARTMANN: Ambassador, would you not acknowledge that the no-fly zone in Iraq, which you were just praising during the Clinton Administration led to the death of 500,000 Iraqi children and the -- what do you call -- the sanctions. And, you know, preventing them from bringing chlorine and what not into the country.

HILL: You know, that was certainly what Saddam Hussein said. I respectfully disagree with people, who think that is what happened. I mean, if you go to Kurdistan today or the northern three Kurdish zones in northern Iraq. You will see an amazing development there.

And, the amazing development was created by the U.S. no-fly zone. So, I do not buy the line that somehow U.S. planes were used to kill children or whatever. That certainly was not what was going on.

HARTMANN: No. That is not what I was saying.

HILL: It is to give innocent people the right to exist. So, I think there is a lot of good use of no-fly zones, but at no time would I suggest this is an easy call and we ought to just do it. But, we need to be prepared to take measures of that kind in these kinds of nasty issues that we have in this very tough part of the world.

HARTMANN: But, Secretary Clinton argued for a no-fly zone in Syria. President Obama argued against it and we are not doing it. She argued for a no-fly zone in Libya, and there was a debate within the administration, but I think that in retrospect, that was a mistake as well our intervention in Libya.

O`DONNELL: We are going to have to break it there.

HILL: You know, I think if you look at Libya --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Ambassador. Quick last word. Go ahead.

HILL: Yes, if you look at Libya, I think it is an issue where time will tell. But I am not sure the problem there was a no-fly zone. I think the problem was the capacity of the U.S. government broadly to sustain the engagement. And, I think you have to bring in the congress when we started talking about what we needed to do to sustain this thing.

O`DONNELL: Ambassador Chris Hill and Thom Hartman, thank you both very much for this tonight.

HARTMANN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: We are going to have much more of this as we go forward. Thank you both for joining us.

Coming up, President Kennedy`s grandson does not think Ted Cruz knows very much about what President Kennedy actually did or what his legacy means.



O`DONNELL: Note to candidates, "Do not ever, ever, ever try to do an accent that is not your own accent." Here is Canadian-American Texan Ted Cruz in New Hampshire trying to sound like a New Englander, a very famous New Englander, describing what he would do as President.


TED CRUZ, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every one of those days is going to be spent defending the constitution as JFK would say, "With vigor!"


O`DONNELL: Oh. What Ted Cruz does not know is that not one person in his audience has the accent that he is trying to imitate. The Kennedy brothers did not have a New England accent or Boston accent. They had Kennedy accents.

They were a big enough clan to have their own accent. No one else in Boston sounded like them and we could not if we tried. Ted Cruz was not finished with his imitation of President Kennedy.


CRUZ: JFK campaigned on tax cuts, limiting government and standing up and defeating the soviet communists. JFK would be a republican today. He stood for religious liberty, and he would be tarred and feathered by the modern Democratic Party. You know, look, as JFK said, "Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not." These are the principles that work --


O`DONNELL: Why? Why does not anyone in Washington like Ted Cruz? Of course, it was Robert Kennedy, who was fond of using that quote that he just used. As his youngest brother Ted Kennedy reminded us at Bobby`s funeral when he was assassinated in 1968.


TED KENNEDY, ROBERT KENNEDY`S YOUNGEST BROTHER: As he said many times in many parts of this nation to those he touched and who sought to touch him, "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not."


O`DONNELL: For President Kennedy`s grandson, Jack Kennedy Schlossberg, the unbearable part of this was Ted Cruz`s attempt to steal JFK`s legacy. He wrote, "I find this notion and the suggestion that Ted Cruz is somehow taking up his mantle absurd.

Were my grandfather alive today, he would be excited about how far we have come as a nation since 1963. He would feel a sense of urgency about the challenges that lie ahead and he most certainly would not be a republican."

Joining us now, President Kennedy`s nephew, Ted Kennedy`s son, Patrick Kennedy. Patrick, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate this.


O`DONNELL: I cannot imagine what it feels like to hear Ted Cruz say that your uncle Jack would be a republican.

PATRICK KENNEDY: Well, I think anybody who was there back in those days, certainly people that I have met over my public career remember President Kennedy with such hope. And, they felt a sense of belonging and meaning in his leadership. I think it is the furthest thing from what Ted Cruz represents.

It is hard to imagine that Ted Cruz asking people to give of themselves to this country. It is hard to imagine Ted Cruz launching a peace corps, an alliance for progress. You know, it is hard for me to imagine him writing a profile in courage book about how people crossed the aisle and actually worked for the national interests, not the parochial or partisan interest.

I mean, you could not almost make up someone who was further apart from the true legacy of John F. Kennedy than Ted Cruz. So -- and the list could go on. And, of course, my cousin Jack really did a terrific job with that editorial.

O`DONNELL: Let us listen in your uncle`s own words about how he talked about these things in a way that Ted Cruz would not understand, including dealing with then the Soviet Union.


JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: There may be those who wish to hear more, more promises to this group or that. More harsh rhetoric about the men in the Kremlin as a substitute for policy. More assurances of a golden future where taxes are always low and the subsidies are always high.

But, my promises are in the platform that you have adopted. Our ends will not be won by rhetoric and we can have faith in the future, only if we have faith in ourselves.


O`DONNELL: That was, of course, his acceptance speech at the nominating convention where he got the nomination. And, as you said, that speech goes on. And, there is just not a word in it that is an echo of Ted Cruz or any republican today.

PATRICK KENNEDY: Well, you know, he talked about the new frontier, which, of course, his administration was known for. And, it was about the hope and it was about the future and, of course, politics right now on that side is really about fear and about distrust. And, it is really about taking our country back at a time when we need to look and imagine a new future. And, that is what real leadership is about and Ted Cruz does not have it.

O`DONNELL: You mentioned the new frontier. Let us listen to your uncle talking about that.


JOHN F. KENNEDY: The new frontier is here, whether we seek it or not. Beyond that frontier are unchartered areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and more, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus.

It would be easier to shrink from that new frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions, and high rhetoric, and those who prefer that cause should not vote for me for the democratic party.


O`DONNELL: Patrick, that passage is there for any presidential candidate to quote today, word for word. It would still be full of meaning if a candidate really wanted to back what President Kennedy is saying there.

PATRICK KENNEDY: Well, you bet, Lawrence. And, of course, not to miss this opportunity, but John F. Kennedy talked about the whole cause of people with mental illness. And, that cause is as relevant today as we know. And, he said the mentally-ill need no longer be alien to our affections or beyond the help of our communities.

And, that is really should be the message of any Kennedy who wants to address the enormous scourge of overdoses and the rise of suicide that is now twice the rate of homicide in this country. These are the real issues. And, John F. Kennedy was even talking about them back in the early `60s.

O`DONNELL: Patrick Kennedy, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate this.

PATRICK KENNEDY: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Michigan`s governor is saying something new and very strange about the Flint water crisis.



O`DONNELL: Today, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder actually said that he would let his grand children bathe in the poison water supply that he helped deliver to Flint, Michigan.


CHARLIE LEDUFF, FOX 2 NEWS HOST: Would you have your grandchildren bathe daily in that water coming out of those pipes now?


LEDUFF: You would?

SNYDER: Yes, because, again, that is the advice I have gotten.


O`DONNELL: A U.S. House Oversight Committee is going to hold a hearing in two weeks and Governor Snyder is expected to be called to testify to that hearing. We will be right back.


O`DONNELL: About an hour ago, the networks got a five-minute warning from the Trump campaign that Donald Trump would hold a news conference, actually to answer questions from reporters right there in that hotel in Las Vegas.

But, they are living on Trump time out there. So, absolutely, nothing has happened since. We are going to be right back with Joy Reid, Jonathan Altar to talk more about the democratic race for the President.


O`DONNELL: We are back with Joy Reid and Jonathan Altar. Jonathan, the debate we just had here between Sanders camp and Clinton camp on foreign policy, there is a big gap in the polls on showing much more confidence in Hillary Clinton`s about to handle that. But those polls, as big as that gap is, used to be bigger. Bernie Sanders is narrowing that gap somewhat. How do you see that issue going forward with the democratic campaign?

JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST AT "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, what that poll does not indicate is how much people care about foreign policy. And, traditionally -- particularly, the democratic primaries, foreign policy has not been a huge issue. It is true it helped Obama and Hillary had been for the war in Iraq. And, it could help Sanders by the same token this time.

But, I think what is more interesting is what their attitude is not just the establishment, but the foreign policy establishment inside the Democratic Party. And, what is so interesting this year is that a lot of these Sanders voters are fighting the man, even though she is a woman. You know, there is a real anti-establishment sentiment among some democrats who do not like perceived wisdom, either on economic policy or foreign policy.

O`DONNELL: Joy, what is your reading of it?

JOY REID , MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think that for the Democratic Party, issues of foreign policy to Jonathan`s point are not at the forefront. Democrats have one prime directive in this upcoming election. How do they retain the White House? I think that is the question for most on the minds of the majority of democrats.

Now, the Sanders wing of the party, which is a very active, ardent heart of the party is thinking about bigger more existential questions about who the Democratic Party -- who the liberal wing of the country ought to be? Because Sanders is not actually even a democrat.

So, I think those bigger existential questions are important. They are going to help to frame the direction of the Democratic Party, but I just think the majority of democrats really only are on that prime objective, how to keep the White House. And, that is what is going to be most important to people`s decision making in these upcoming caucuses and primaries.

O`DONNELL: Joy, I do not know if you have been checking your Twitter feed during the breaks here --

REID: I am.

O`DONNELL: But it turns out Ann Coulter has been watching the show tonight. And, she tweeted enthusiastically about just how right you were about saying that the republicans have brought this on basically by ignoring the coulter wing, which is way more than a wing of the republican party on immigration.

REID: Well, I mean, the cheap sort of temptation would be to say that I am not sure I am happy that Ann Coulter agrees with me. But, to be honest with you, Lawrence, I am not a conservative, nor am I republican.

If I am getting right what is happening in the conservative movement in the Republican Party, I guess that is a good thing, because I feel like maybe I have been paying appropriate amounts of attention to what is happening, and it is an important part of our politics.

O`DONNELL: But, Jonathan --

REID: So, I am going to say, "OK, Ann. Thank you."


O`DONNELL: Let me go to Tom Davis on this. Tom, what is undeniable is that when Trump came down the escalator, the only thing he was talking about was immigration. The only thing he was talking about then was the southern border. That is where he got his initial ignition, his initial surge in the polls.

TOM DAVIS, RMSP PRESIDENT AND CEO ON MSNBC: There is no question that he has doubled down on that as we have moved ahead. And, it is not a particularly conservative platform. It is a populist platform that appeals to a lot of republican and independent voters who really feel victimized by not just foreign policy issues but by the whole immigration issue in this placement.

O`DONNELL: And, Jonathan, what do you see as the primary issues in the democratic race now? What are the top two that it will come down to?

ALTER: I think it is really going to be about Wall Street mostly, with electability as kind of the second issue. On Wall Street, Hillary is a little bit exposed because she has taken all of these speaking fees from big Wall Street firms. And, I think you will see Sanders return to that over and over again. But, you know, electability --

O`DONNELL: All right, Jonathan, we are going to go to Trump`s press conference that started an hour late. He is taking a couple of questions.