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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 1/25/2016

Guests: Mary Brigit McManamon, Robert Costa, Kurt Andersen, Alan Wirzbicki, Lynn Hicks, Kurt Andersen, Ben Wikler, Robert Reich, Tony Dokoupil

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: January 25, 2016 Guest: Mary Brigit McManamon, Robert Costa, Kurt Andersen, Alan Wirzbicki, Lynn Hicks, Kurt Andersen, Ben Wikler, Robert Reich, Tony Dokoupil

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Handcuff it to the snowboard wrangler for the - - Washington manages to dig the board out at Reagan Airport.

I would like to suggest maybe they tie a little leash to it, maybe handcuff it to the snowboard wrangler for the duration of the storm next time?

I`m sorry, D.C. your storm was probably bigger than they say it was. I know you say that to all -- never mind.

All right, that does it for us tonight, we`ll see you again tomorrow, and now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell. Good evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, stop saying snowboard, it`s confusing me.

It`s making me think about going down a hill and --

MADDOW: No, icing board --


MADDOW: Different thing.

O`DONNELL: Hey, I bravely rode out the storm in L.A. this weekend watching it on TV from time to time, but you know, here I am.

MADDOW: I was in New England, where there was not a flake. But in the spirit of sort of solidarity with the Mid-Atlantic, I did go ice fishing on Sunday.

So, I was at least cold.

O`DONNELL: Yes, cold, that`s more than I can say.

MADDOW: All right --

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel --

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Well, tonight, we have some big endorsements in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination and the Republican field has a surprise surge in New Hampshire by a candidate not named Trump or Cruz.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven days left until the Iowa caucuses.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is now insulting me every day.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ted cannot get along with anybody. He`s a nasty person.

CRUZ: I`m happy to have a conversation about how Donald`s and my records are different.

TRUMP: He was born in Canada.

CRUZ: Meaningful differences, substantive differences.

TRUMP: I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn`t lose any voters, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, that`s not what a president does, right? You`re not running for president of "Hunger Games".


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I was joking, of course, I was joking. He brought out Sarah Palin in Iowa, you saw that?

SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I wanted to take a break from my full-time career of writing things on Facebook.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope nobody`s allergic to nuts because we got a big one here. She`s 2 Corinthians short of the Bible.

TRUMP: Two Corinthians, right? Two Corinthians --

CRUZ: Two Corinthians walk into a bar -- yes, Ricardo Montalban(ph), genuine Corinthian leather.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, right now the best?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turns out that Trump`s secret weapon all along has been Ted Cruz.


TRUMP: After his disastrously bad performance as a presidential candidate four years ago, no one had a right to be surprised when Rick Perry was the first to drop out of the Republican presidential race last year when he was polling below 1 percent in Iowa.

And today, no one noticed when Rick Perry endorsed his state`s junior senator for president.


RICK PERRY, FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: I am really enthusiastic about this man, Ted Cruz.


O`DONNELL: He said that on "MORNING JOE" and Donald Trump, who is a "MORNING JOE" fan, didn`t even bother to do a hate tweet against Rick Perry for that.

The Perry endorsement probably means exactly one vote for Ted Cruz if Ted Cruz makes it as far as the Texas primary on March 1st.

Donald Trump was busy on Twitter today attacking Ted Cruz. "Ted Cruz is a nervous wreck. He is making reckless charges, not caring for the truth. His poll numbers are way down.

Cruz going down fast in recent polls, dropping like a rock, lies never work." That was my favorite.

Of course, Donald Trump`s stream of consciousness pathological lying has actually worked quite well for him, pushing him to the top of the Republican polls.

But it also means that most people in the media seem to think everything Donald Trump says is a complete lie and completely ignorable.

But Trump has gotten some support from constitutional scholars for raising doubts about whether Ted Cruz fits the definition of natural-born citizen as it appears once in the constitution as a qualification for president.


TRUMP: He`s got a problem with his Canadian birth, he was born in Canada. It`s a real question.

And you know, as you know, Laurence Tribe from Harvard and many other lawyers are saying he can`t do what he`s doing, he`s not allowed to run.

And you have some lawyers that say definitively, he cannot run, that`s a big problem --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Is that why his numbers have gone down in Iowa?

TRUMP: I don`t know. I think it has an impact, because I think they said 36 percent of the people agree that he can`t run for president.

He was born in Canada and he was born on Canadian soil. Now, he can run for Prime Minister of Canada.

But I don`t think he can -- I honestly don`t know if he can run. And there`s a question mark.


O`DONNELL: Now, whenever Trump speaks, he lies, but it doesn`t mean everything he says is a lie.

Trump tells a couple of lies there. Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe said that the definition of natural-born citizen is not settled law.

He said that here on this program. And that it is therefore a valid question about Ted Cruz`s qualifications to be president.

But Professor Tribe has not said definitively that Ted Cruz does not meet that definition.

And Trump also lied about 36 percent of people agreeing that Ted Cruz can`t run for president.

A Monmouth poll showed that 65 percent of Republicans say they believe Ted Cruz is a natural-born citizen.

Only 12 percent say that he isn`t. And 24 percent support what has now become most legal scholars position by saying that they just don`t know.

Tonight, at a rally in New Hampshire, Donald Trump said this.


TRUMP: My new battle is with a gentleman named Ted Cruz. Because you`ve got to speak the truth.

You`ve got to speak the truth. The Canadian, the man from Canada.


Thank you, that was very helpful. I don`t know, that`s so succinct. That was very good, actually.

He screams out "the Canadian", yes, that`s right, the Canadian, he could run right now for Prime Minister of Canada, he`d have no problem.


But he does have a problem. I mean, does anyone agree with me on this? Because it seems that --




How do you -- OK, so you have a constitution, you have very strong -- you know, all your life, you hear you have to be born in this country, born in this country.

He`s born in Canada, on Canadian soil, and I mean, come on.


O`DONNELL: It appears there`s enough doubt in the Republican electorate about Ted Cruz`s eligibility to affect the polls.

In a new Fox News Iowa poll, Trump is now at 34 percent, up from 26 percent in December.

Cruz is now at 23 percent, down from 28 percent in December. Here is how Cruz supporter, Iowa Congressman Steve King is handling the eligibility question on the campaign trail in Iowa.


REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: I think there`s zero legal question about this, and Congress addressed this in 1790.

And the people that did so were the ones that wrote the language into the constitution itself.

And so, they knew what natural-born citizen was. They defined it then, and Ted`s birth is very consistent with what was put in place then.

So, I think it`s disingenuous of some people to make that an issue.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Mary Brigit McManamon, she`s a constitutional law professor at Widener University`s Delaware Law School.

Professor McManamon, you`ve written about this for the "Washington Post". What`s your reaction to what Steve King just said there in defense of Ted Cruz`s eligibility?

MARY BRIGIT MCMANAMON, LAW PROFESSOR, WIDENER UNIVERSITY`S DELAWARE LAW SCHOOL: Well, he makes a fundamental mistake that a lot of people talking about this make.

And that is, there`s this notion of separation of powers. And the power to naturalize, which is to change someone who`s an alien into an American citizen is given to Congress.

Natural-born citizenship is constitutionalized in the second amendment. So, whatever the Congress did in 1790 doesn`t affect article 2.

O`DONNELL: So your position on -- your reading of the constitution leads you to what conclusion about Ted Cruz`s eligibility?

MCMANAMON: Ted Cruz is not eligible. I would go further than Laurence Tribe and say that the meaning was clear and knowable and the framers of the constitution intended it to be static.

Just as the 35-year-old requirement and the 14-year residency requirement was meant to be static.

O`DONNELL: And when you say static, the people who say Ted Cruz is eligible all point to things that Congress did after the constitution was written.

And you`re saying because the constitution has to be held static on this point, nothing the Congress wrote after that would affect those words in the constitution.

MCMANAMON: That`s correct. Unlike, say, a concept like due process which has evolved over time, the requirements for the presidency have not.

O`DONNELL: Professor Mary Brigit McManamon, thank you for joining us once again on this, really appreciate it.

MCMANAMON: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Joining us now from Des Moines, Iowa, Robert Costa, national political reporter for the "Washington Post" and an Msnbc political analyst.

Also with us here in New York, Kurt Andersen; host of "Studio 360".

Robert Costa, this movement in the polls, it`s hard to say whether that`s attributable to what Donald Trump is saying about citizenship.

There`s a lot of other things in the wind out there in Iowa, aren`t there?

ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: It`s a full barrage, Lawrence, against Senator Cruz. It`s not just Trump.

It`s the Republican establishment. The sitting governor is calling on Cruz to be defeated.

You have Senator Rubio going after Cruz, you have Trump being relentless in his chatter about the Canadian birth.

And this is -- I think, when you look at Cruz`s campaign, a few weeks ago, he was the favorite.

But he may have peaked too early, he`s trying to come back now, and he`s playing down expectations.

O`DONNELL: Kurt, the Cruz versus Trump thing is going to be the first big battle here. If Cruz does not win Iowa, might this be the end of Cruz?

KURT ANDERSEN, RADIO HOST: Well, since as Robert just said, I mean, Cruz has been the favorite all along and it is the perfect Republican state for him.


ANDERSEN: This highly evangelical state. I don`t know if it`s the end, it`s not quite so much the -- it`s not the definitive end, but it`s really trouble for him.

Because I have a hard time in any event seeing Ted Cruz doing well in New Hampshire.

Probably not even coming in -- certainly not second, maybe not even third. If he loses Iowa as well, he`s -- it`s a different ball game for him.

O`DONNELL: Trump tweeted today, "it`s time for Ted Cruz to either settle his problem with the fact that he was born in Canada and was a citizen of Canada or get out of the race."

Robert Costa, is there anything that Cruz campaign intends to do or say differently about this citizenship issue between now and Monday?

COSTA: Between now and Monday, not really. I`ve been connecting with the Cruz campaign today, and you get the sense there`s -- they`re in a ground game mode.

They`re trying to get evangelicals out to vote. They`re not trying to get into a constitutional argument.

And they believe Cruz`s status, his reputation as an attorney gives him the credibility to move forward without having to counter Trump day after day.

O`DONNELL: Let`s look at this new Ted Cruz ad in Iowa.


TRUMP: I lived in New York City, in Manhattan all my life, OK? So, you know, my views are a little bit different than if I lived in Iowa.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are different, like on abortion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would President Trump ban partial birth abortion?

TRUMP: Well, look, I am pro choice in every respect.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what does Trump think about Iowa?

TRUMP: How stupid are the people of Iowa?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump, New York values, not ours.

TRUMP: You know, my views are a little bit different than if I lived in Iowa.

CRUZ: I`m Ted Cruz, and I approve this message.


O`DONNELL: Kurt Andersen, in old-fashioned campaigning, by which I mean, you know, two years ago.


O`DONNELL: As we understood the universe, that would be very effective. But there`s no new information in there for Iowa voters.

They know that Trump has changed his mind about this stuff.

ANDERSEN: Absolutely. And that`s just absolutely discounted in and baked into the cake.

Whereas I don`t know if the citizenship thing, how that has or will affect the poll, but it`s new information.

And it`s new for -- it`s not just a charge. It`s the constitution after all. And this originalist, this constitutional originalist Ted Cruz is having a problem with it.

That if it were not he having this problem, you know that Ted Cruz would be making the same --


ANDERSON: Case, so, and it`s -- so, I think as yet another thing that can be thrown at him along with the poll momentum, that might stick, it`s not helping him.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Glenn Beck going against Trump in Iowa.


TRUMP: Glenn beck, I mean, every time I see him he`s crying, he`s a wack job. He`s doing -- no, he`s crying, tears -- no!


No, Glenn Beck -- and every time I see this guy, he`s like talking, crying. He`s a -- what a mess, man.

You know who he`s endorsing today? Cruz. Can you believe it? I`ve got Sarah Palin, I`ll take Sarah Palin every single day.


O`DONNELL: OK, that was the exact opposite of Glenn Beck going against Trump. But Robert Costa, who`s winning this one?

Sarah Palin versus Glenn Beck?

COSTA: Beck-Palin divide is really indicative of the Cruz-Trump race. Cruz at the beginning, months ago, had the movement right with him.

He was getting the true blue conservatives to sign on and say we`re with him. But now Trump is muddying the waters with the Palin endorsement.

He`s been going hard after pastors nationally and in Iowa. He`s been introduced by different key figures, events over the weekend.

Senator Grassley came to a Trump event on Saturday, he had another pastor from Dallas mega church introduce Trump at one of those events.

So, it`s not clear to many Iowans who are watching who exactly is the evangelical favorite.

Cruz is the frontrunner for that block, but not the wholesale champion.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to have to leave it there for tonight. Robert Costa, thank you very much for joining us from Iowa tonight.

Really appreciate it.

COSTA: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, which sounds more scary, President Cruz or President Trump? Robert Reich gives his answer.

And a new round of endorsements in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination.


O`DONNELL: Missouri Senator and active tweeter Claire McCaskill live- tweeted her experience today on jury duty.

"Yep, just reported for jury duty on my bucket list is to serve. Betting lawyers, boot me. Use peremptory challenge.

By rough calculation, I count two knitters with the rest of about 150 potential jurors divided (AUDIO GAP 00:01:17-22) kind of safe choice.

But noticed one woman grimacing over off-color jokes. Jury room drama. And finally, being passed up twice, she made it to a panel of number 3 -- I don`t know what means.

"Oh, my God, I got called on my way to the courtroom, yes, and six hours later, "holy expletive, I am on the jury.

Now must go, social media silent retrial. Don`t worry, I`ll share after the verdict."

Can`t wait. Coming up, big endorsements in the Democratic race.


O`DONNELL: The latest New Hampshire poll of Republican voters shows John Kasich now tied for second place within the margin of error with Ted Cruz.

In the "Boston Herald" poll, Trump is at 33 percent, up from 26 in December, Cruz is at 14 percent and John Kasich is at 12 percent, that`s up four points.

And tomorrow, the biggest newspaper in New England will print its endorsement of John Kasich for the Republican nomination.

In endorsing John Kasich, the "Boston Globe" editorial board writes, "by voting for Kasich, New Hampshire can reward a candidate whose politics have been largely positive and rebuke those candidates who have spent their campaign appealing to voters` fears and biases of those.

Donald Trump has been easily the worst. Once known primarily for his reality TV show, Trump has exploited anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment to build a populist campaign that poll show attracts a hardcore segment of Republican voters.

His bigotry is toxic, and it requires a resounding electoral defeat."

Joining us now, Alan Wirzbicki, he`s an editorial writer for the "Boston Globe" which endorsed John Kasich for the Republican nomination.

Alan, how did you come to that endorsement and was it -- was it difficult? Or how many rounds of voting in the editorial board to arrive at this one?

ALAN WIRZBICKI, EDITORIAL WRITER, BOSTON GLOBE: Well, thank you for having me on. We did spend a lot of time with this. We interviewed a number of the candidates.

And we went through a long and healthy discussion, I would say. But in the end, we really did feel like Kasich was the best bet.

For the reasons that we laid out in the editorial. But especially in this contest with the way that Donald Trump is talking on the trail.

We really felt it was important to put our weight behind someone like John Kasich who seems to be really trying to appeal to both voters better instincts.

And so, it was a -- it was a -- it was a long discussion, but I think we`re all happy with where we came down.

O`DONNELL: Robert Costa, Charlie Cook has been insisting that this is ultimately going to be a three-lane race, that it is not just Trump and Cruz, that the third lane would emerge and Kasich could be the guy, someone else could be the guy.

If John Kasich -- let`s just entertain the possibility here, that this poll we`ve just seen from the "Boston Herald" raises the possibility John Kasich comes in second in New Hampshire.

If John Kasich rushes up there and he comes in second in New Hampshire, the next day, is there tremendous pressure within Republican world to solidify around Kasich?

COSTA: Especially if you have Trump coming out of Iowa with a big win, and Trump coming out of New Hampshire with the same.

I think you see establishment donors and party officials now warming to the idea of a Trump nomination.

But they`re still hoping privately in conversations I`ve had with them, to see someone like Kasich emerge, and New Hampshire is the place to do it.

There`s a lot of trust in Kasich, too, Laurence, there was a sense that, he`s a two-term Ohio governor, knows how to speak to swing voters, has a blue-collar background.

He`s the kind of candidate the party elites wanted a year ago and think could still get there, they just have to unite around him if he comes out of New Hampshire.

O`DONNELL: Kurt, the very first TV ads I saw on Boston TV, which is targeted into New Hampshire, months and months ago were Kasich ads.

And it was a serious buy, and when he did that TV buy, he went up in the polls. But then, all sorts of other noise entered the campaign and he couldn`t -- he just couldn`t keep going up.

Now, we see him coming up again, it doesn`t surprise me based on the way I`ve seen that campaign develop in New Hampshire.

But if he gets ahead of Cruz, if he gets that second place in New Hampshire, that`s the biggest possible event in this race --

ANDERSEN: Absolutely, and then there`s -- as your question to Robert posited, he then -- it becomes the heir apparent for the establishment lane.

However, look at the combined polling totals of all four of those establishment candidates.

Around 25 percent total, which is to say less than just Donald Trump has alone.

So, being the establishment guy gives you a certain better than not being the establishment down to one guy.

But it`s not dispositive because the establishment lane of the Republican Party is still one narrow lane.

O`DONNELL: But Alan, if Kasich were to come in second and were to get this kind of attention, the other thing that is always possible with a frontrunner like Trump is that he can do something crazy, something weird, something we`ve never seen before that actually does hurt him.

I mean, everyone`s assuming that he can`t be hurt by anything. But you never know. There`s no way of knowing what`s going to happen in the Trump campaign down the line.

WIRZBICKI: True, and I think what we`ve heard is that Kasich runs good campaigns. He`s --


WIRZBICKI: Won two gubernatorial campaigns in a large swing state with a very diverse -- that is very diverse.

And so he knows -- he knows what he`s doing. So, if it does come down to a race between him and either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, our thought was that he would stand a pretty good chance.

O`DONNELL: And Robert Costa, Kasich is -- I`ve heard different noises at different times about Kasich being on everybody`s possible list for the VP nomination since he`s the Ohio favorite son.

That`s also helped by this.

COSTA: It is. I mean, if Kasich comes out of New Hampshire strong, he`s going to have a lot of challenges ahead.

He would have to deal with Trump as the frontrunner perhaps, and all that comes with it.

He`d have to build an organization nationally and if the establishment -- if a Bush and Christie does pretty well behind Kasich second place, New Hampshire, should that happen, there`s no reason for some of them to get out.

They may try to endure the race, that would complicate Kasich`s path. And so he`s looking for -- Kasich would be a top-tier VP candidate regardless, though, it all comes down to that New Hampshire showing.

O`DONNELL: And Kurt, you never know, I mean, when you start pulling people out. You know --


O`DONNELL: Not the Jindals and the Rick Perrys. You know, when you start pulling out Christies, people like that.

There`s a much bigger rethinking of candidacies among the electorate than just what do the people who yesterday said they were for Christie doing?

ANDERSEN: Absolutely. What we don`t know yet and won`t know for a couple of weeks, but we`ll start knowing then is, do any of the establishment (INAUDIBLE) voters go for Cruz or Trump?

Personally, I can imagine more than going for Donald Trump than Ted Cruz.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to leave it there. Quick break, Alan Wirzbicki and Robert Costa, thanks for joining us on this.

Coming up --


O`DONNELL: A big newspaper endorsements in the Democratic race and a possible third-party run by a real billionaire.


O`DONNELL: Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton picked up three important newspaper endorsements.

The biggest newspaper in Iowa, the "Des Moines Register" endorsed Secretary Clinton.

The biggest newspaper in New England, the "Boston Globe" which has significant readership in New Hampshire endorsed Secretary Clinton.

And in New Hampshire, the "Concord Monitor" endorsed Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

The "Des Moines Register" editorial endorsing Hillary Clinton said, "the presidency is not an entry-level position.

No other candidate can match the depth or breadth of her knowledge and experience."

Bernie Sanders` counter to the "Des Moines Register" endorsement is a television ad that will begin airing in Iowa tomorrow.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are those who say we cannot defeat a corrupt political system and fix a rigged economy.

But I believe we need to lift our vision above the obstacles in place and look to the American horizon.

To a nation where every child cannot only dream of going to college, but attend one. Where quality healthcare will be a birthright of every citizen.

Where a good job is not a wish, but a reality. Where women receive equal pay and a living wage is paid to all. An America where after a lifetime of labor there is time for rest and grandchildren. A nation that defends our people and our values, but no longer carries so much of that burden alone. I know we can create that America if we listen to our hearts, and that journey begins here in Iowa. I am Bernie Sanders. I approve this message, and I ask you to join with us at the caucuses on Monday night. Thank you.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Lynn Hicks, an Opinion Editor and member of the "Des Moines Register" Editorial Board. Also joining us Ben Wikler, the Washington Director of MoveOn.Org, which has endorsed Bernie Sanders. Lynn Hicks, how did you come to this decision on this endorsement?

LYNN HICKS, DES MOINES REGUSTER OPINION EDITOR: Well, we spent a lot of time researching it, debating it. We met with Secretary Clinton over two meetings, more than three hours with her. We also met with Senator Sanders. And, Governor O`Malley twice. We spent a lot of time, but we ultimately could not escape the conclusion that we did that she was clearly the most qualified candidate running in this race.

O`DONNELL: Ben Wikler, what is your reaction to the editorial?

BEN WIKLER, WASHINGTON DIRECTOR, MOVEON.ORG: Well, it is a reasoned and thoughtful endorsement. I think for grassroots progressives for MoveOn.Org members, we just have a different take. The theory that we go into this with is that it is not enough to elect a president, you also need a movement of millions of people that are engaged after election day to fight for fundamental change.

And, that is what the Sanders campaign is building. That is the premise of the campaign, that millions of people need to get involved to bring back control of our democracy to the people.

O`DONNELL: And, Lynn Hicks, how much did electability play a part in your endorsement?

HICKS: It was part of it certainly. But, I think it went beyond that, if you read the editorial. And you know, we have a lot of good things to say about Bernie and are very impressed with the way he ran his campaign.

But, it has to do more with how effective we think he could be. And, he can only be effective if he has this revolution that he talks about, and we cannot see that happening. And, so, that was one of the reasons that we ultimately went with Clinton.

O`DONNELL: Lynn, what do you expect Hillary Clinton to be able to do with Paul Ryan in control of all legislation in the congress?

HICKS: Well, you know, let us give her a chance. And, I think that she has -- she argues that she has worked with republicans across the aisle. And, I know that she is a divisive figure, but it is not going to be easy. We were not making that argument. But, let us give her -- let us see what she can do.

O`DONNELL: Ben, I do not think it is a matter of democrats being divisive figures or not when it comes to Paul Ryan`s republican congress. Paul Ryan`s republican congress is simply opposed to virtually everything Bernie Sanders says and everything Hillary Clinton says about domestic policy, and no one has shown the way around that.

WIKLER: Well, there is actually one person who is shown a remarkable ability to pass amendments, to move forward legislation with republicans or with democrats in control of either chamber, and that is Bernie Sanders. He was the amendment king when he was in the house. He consistently over and over, more than any other representative, would pass amendments into law by working across two different partisan aisles, actually.

And, in the senate, he won bipartisan acclaim for his work on the veteran affairs committees. And, I think that that speaks to his style of politics, which is to be absolutely principled and have a tremendous degree of integrit, but also after staking out his claim for what he believes in, then figuring out how to work together and move practical steps forward.

That is why I think it is actually realistic to think he can advance his agenda. Not necessarily reach the goals he is ultimately aiming for right away, certainly not under a Ryan speakership. But, he can move things forward as he has shown over and over as a legislator.

O`DONNELL: And, Lynn Hicks, what do you expect to see in the general election in Iowa? Does the republican -- does the democrat, either of these democrats, have a solid shot at Iowa in the general election?

HICKS: Oh, definitely. I think Iowa is a very divided state. The campaign will continue to be hard-fought here. You know, I give Senator Sanders a lot of credit. Our latest poll says that of the democrats, 48 percent I believe identify themselves as socialist. So, I know that there is a belief out there that Iowa is full of evangelicals, but there is also a lot of very strong liberals here too.

O`DONNELL: I suppose there are some evangelical socialists out there. Lynn Hicks and Ben Wikler, thank you both for joining us tonight.

WIKLER: Thanks so much.

O`DONNELL: I appreciate it. Still ahead, Robert Reich answers the question, "Which would he prefer, a President Cruz or a President Trump?" Robert Reich takes on that one.

But, first, a possible third-party run by a candidate who has maybe a hundred times more wealth than Donald Trump.



O`DONNELL: Michael Bloomberg is more than three times richer than Donald Trump, if -- big if, if you take Donald Trump`s word that his net worth is $10 billion. If you use more realistic estimates of Donald Trump`s wealth, Michael Bloomberg may be a hundred times richer than Donald Trump.

Presidential campaigning has never, ever, ever seen the kind of money that Bloomberg can pump into a presidential campaign. And, so, this weekend when coordinated leaks from team Bloomberg indicated that he is considering a third-party run for president, democrats and republicans were given cause to worry.

Reports indicated Mike Bloomberg would be most inclined to get into the race if Donald Trump wins the republican nomination and Bernie Sanders is the democratic nominee. One hasty and not terribly reliable poll today shows a three-way split of support in that situation with Sanders at 35 percent, Trump at 34 percent, and Bloomberg at 12 percent.

Worth remembering that the first poll taken when Michael Bloomberg became a candidate for mayor of New York City in 2001 showed him at the bottom of that field, with 10 percent. He ran as a republican and won the election in heavily Democratic New York. Bloomberg won that election against democrat Mark Green with 50.3 percent of the vote. Kurt Andersen is back with us. Kurt, he spent $60 million on the mayor`s campaign. Hillary --

KURT ANDERSEN, HOST OF "STUDIO 360": Then twice again to be re-elected.

O`DONNELL: Right. And, statewide, senator`s campaigns were spending at $30 million. You know, trying to campaign in the whole state. The money here is something that nobody -- Bloomberg money, no one can compete with it, including Trump.

ANDERSEN: And, he has mentioned the figure of a billion dollars, which --

O`DONNELL: For starters.

ANDERSEN: 3 percent of his income.


ANDERSEN: Which is nothing. No, it is an extraordinary drama. And, now, the question is, he has to decide much sooner than the nominating conventions if he is going to get on the ballot.


ANDERSEN: So, he has to decide that within a couple of months. But within a couple of months, we will have a much better idea of Donald Trump`s and Bernie Sanders` chances, who -- and those are his ideal candidates.


ANDERSEN: And, then of course you have a New York billionaire versus a New York billionaire versus a socialist born in New York, which if you wrote that in fiction it is completely unbelievable.


O`DONNELL: Yes. You know, there is a lot of -- the instant analysis, which I think is all flawed is saying, "Oh, he would absolutely end up electing the republican. He would pull all the support away from the democrat." He ran here as a republican. There is a lot of republican in Mike Bloomberg. A lot of traditional republican in Mike Bloomberg on things like taxes and other issues.

ANDERSEN: He is very much a republican of my father`s era. Even my youth he was -- there were plenty of republicans like Mike Bloomberg. And, the other thing to think, as we imagine this wonderful, delicious scenario is that if Trump were the republican nominee, if Sanders by some stretch were the democratic nominee suddenly the conventional physics of politics and oh, he will draw more from Trump than -- it is a new game.

O`DONNELL: Right. And, the possibility exists in that race that no one gets the necessary votes in the electoral college, which throws it into the house of representatives.

ANDERSEN: It does.

O`DONNELL: And, there is no dramatist, who does not want to see that happen.

ANDERSEN: Well, and there is a particular -- I mean the constitution on this is absolutely clear what happens. It goes into the house. Each state congressional delegation in the house has one vote, and you need 26. So, the wheeling and dealing going on between democrats and republicans in the House of Representatives.

You do not want Trump. Well, we do not want Sanders. Well, how do we get to Bloomberg? It would be an extraordinary couple of weeks. I mean, when for instance, Thomas Jefferson election -- first election in 1800 went to the house, it was a week of 36 separate votes. That would be a great week for us all.

O`DONNELL: Well, imagine the fights inside delegations --

ANDERSEN: Exactly.

O`DONNELL: The size of California --


O`DONNELL: -- or in New York to get them to deliver just one vote. It is just an amazing thing to contemplate. Kurt Andersen, thanks for joining us tonight.

ANDERSEN: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the latest from Flint, Michigan as the Attorney General of the state launches an investigation to see if anyone in the government might face charges for violating laws in that water crisis there.




BILL SCHUETTE, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: This investigation will be thorough. This investigation will be exhaustive. And, this investigation will be independent. And, this investigation is about beginning the road back. The road back to rebuild and to regain and to restore trust in government.


O`DONNELL: Today, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced an independent investigation into Flint`s lead-tainted water. But that investigation will be led by two people, a retired head of the Detroit FBI Office and a former county prosecutor.

Former County Prosecutor, Todd Flood, has donated more than $10,000 to Bill Schuette`s campaigns for Attorney Generals since 2010. Todd Flood has also donated $3,000 to Governor Rick Snyder`s campaigns.

Todd Flood today vowed to provide Michigan residents with, quote, "An impartial answer to the question of whether any state laws were broken." Joining us now is Tony Dekoupil, MSNBC National Reporter, who is in Flint, Michigan tonight. Tony, what is the reaction there to the announcement of this investigation?

TONY DOKOUPIL, MSNBC HOST, "GREENHOUSE ON SHIFT" PROGRAM: Well, I would like to tell you that the reaction is reassurance and positive thinking but that is not the case. I was unable to find anybody in the neighborhood I was in on the north side of Flint, who feels reassured that this is truly going to be an impartial investigation.

You know, the residents here have been burned once in their view. They thought that the water was going to be clean for drinking. They were told that as recently as July of last year. And, the government again is now saying, "Trust us, we are going to be accountable for one branch by looking after another," and they are not going to be fooled twice is their overall perspective.

But, Lawrence, I want to take people through some new reporting we got just moments ago. It answers a key question here in Flint. And, that is why have some neighborhoods been hit much harder than others when it comes to the lead crisis? And, a big piece of that answer came to us just a few moments ago. It is a map that I would like to put up here. And, it shows the freshness or lack thereof of the water that is actually in the pipes in the city of Flint.

You will see there is a green area to the right there. The water in those pipes is less than a day old. That is very fresh water. That is the kind of water you want to be drinking. You see the red area and the purple area. That is very old water. It is six days old on average. And, you will not be surprised to learn that the steepest and most severe cases of lead poisoning, the greatest samples of lead in the water, it is in that red area.

And, researchers from Virginia tech, who gave me this map, they got it from the city and the city confirmed its veracity with us. The Virginia tech researchers tell me that old water like that is dirtier water. It sits there. It gets stagnant. It corrodes the pipes, and that is when you get lead in the pipes and of course that is how you got lead in the blood of the people of Flint.

So, dramatic picture there and very stark difference between one side of town, which happens to be a richer side of town where the emergency manager lives, where professors live, where the Mott Mansion is. And, the other side of town, where very starkly different socioeconomic situations are taking place, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Wow, Tony, that is a fascinating map to look at. And, that really does tell the story of what you have -- and what you are experiencing in talking to people on the basis of where they live there.

DOKOUPIL: Absolutely. And, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, she was the pioneering doctor here who first found elevated levels of lead in the children. And, she pointed to knows neighborhoods, where you are seeing those red pipes and she said, "That is where the problem is." Triple the level right in those neighborhoods, and now we can see why, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Tony Dokoupil in Flint tonight. Thank you very much, Tony, appreciate it.

We have this programming note. Rachel Maddow will lead a town hall in Flint on the water crisis on Wednesday night. You can see it here on MSNBC at 9:00 eastern. No one has done more important reporting nationally about this crisis than Rachel. It has to be worth -- it is going to be definitely worth watching Wednesday night.

Coming up, Robert Reich says Ted Cruz just might be scarier than Donald Trump. He joins us to explain why.



SARAH PALIN, (R) FMR. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: I wanted to take a break from my full-time career of writing things on Facebook to fly down here and lend my support to the next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Da, da, da, da, da, da! is what the lame street media is spinning. Heads are spinning. He can kick ISIS ass because he commands fire.


TRUMP: I hope nobody is allergic to nuts because we got a big one here.


O`DONNELL: Up next, Robert Reich makes what for him is the painful choice between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: I think you were joking but you said, it is getting a lot of buzz. You said you could stand in the middle of 5th avenue and shoot somebody that would not affect the support you are getting from your supporters.

TRUMP: Well, you do not think I was joking. You know I was joking. Of course, I was joking, and the whole room was laughing. And, I was laughing when I said it.

BLITZER: Because you got some criticism.

TRUMP: Well, no -- from dishonest press. They said, "Oh, he said something." When they showed me, I am laughing, they are laughing, everybody is laughing, everybody is having a good time. Of course, I am joking. I mean you know that.


O`DONNELL: In the race between the joker and the fanatic, who would you choose? That question has ripped the Republican Party apart, but it is also now a question liberals are facing. Robert Reich has asked that question. Who is more dangerous, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, in a Facebook post last week.

President Clinton`s Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, gives five reasons why Ted Cruz is even more dangerous than Donald Trump. One, he is more fanatical. Two, Cruz is a true believer. Three, he is smarter. Four, he is more disciplined and strategic. Five, Cruz is a loner who is willing to destroy institutions. Professor Reich says both men would be disastrous for America but Cruz would be the larger disaster.

Joining us now is Robert Reich, Labor Secretary under President Clinton and the author of "Saving Capitalism for the Many, not the Few." Professor Reich, I have been asking myself this question for weeks now, this very difficult choice. And, you have come down -- let us go through your items. First of all, you have come down on the side of Trump saying that Cruz is more fanatical. What do you mean by that?

ROBERT REICH, PRESIDENT CLINTON`S SECRETARY OF LABOR: Well, first of all, Larry, let me just say that this is a very close call.


REICH: And, I do not want to say anything that is going to be interpreted as supportive of Donald Trump.

O`DONNELL: Right. Right.

REICH: But, yes, I think he is more fanatical in the sense that the right- wing kind of deep kind of commitment to right-wing, far right issues, not only rejecting even the possibility of human cause of global warming but also a woman`s right to choose and also equal marriage rights.

I mean, Donald Trump is not great on any of this, but Cruz has really gone out of his way for a very, very long time to stake out the most extreme right-wing positions.

O`DONNELL: And, your number two argument point is that Cruz is a true believer. And, it is, certainly, my impression that Donald Trump does not believe anything.

REICH: Well, Trump believes absolutely nothing. Now, some people say Cruz does not believe anything either and he is an opportunist. He is but if you look at his record, what you will find is the very consistent set of extreme right-wing principles. He hates the federal government. And, he is always hated the federal government. And, his positions had been consistent on that central conservative issue for many, many years.

O`DONNELL: Number three, he is smarter. So, why is that a strike against Ted Cruz in your decision-making?

REICH: Well, I mean I consider somebody who is that far right, who is very smart to be much more dangerous than somebody who is just bigoted and a bully but not necessarily all that smart. Because somebody who is very smart can actually -- has a chance of possibly being elected president and implementing a lot of very goofy ideas.

So -- and what the record shows, it is not just his Ivy League credentials. Princeton and Harvard Law School and the fact he aced a lot of Harvard Law courses. It is that he has consistently shown himself to be very, very strategic.

O`DONNELL: You also say he is more -- yes. The next point. Number four, he is more disciplined and strategic. And, therefore, a mess like Trump would be actually easier to deal with than the disciplined and strategic Trump -- than Cruz, especially if you are on the democratic side in the congress and you are trying to stop President Trump.

REICH: Do not even say President Trump. Even the word --


O`DONNELL: I get. Mr. Trump.

REICH: -- that combination, Lawrence, worries me. But, the point is what we see with Cruz is a pattern over the years of playing the long game. I mean, he has been using the courts when he was Attorney General in Texas very, very strategically to develop his own originalist constitutional provisions and views. He has been doing that in this campaign too. Trump is all over the place. But, what Cruz does is he hews very closely to a script and a set of talking points.

O`DONNELL: And, he has put things in jeopardy, your number five point that he is a loner willing to destroy institutions. He has been willing to risk the possibility of not raising the debt ceiling. If there is ever a president who does not raise the debt ceiling it would be President Cruz.

REICH: Well, absolutely. I mean what Ted Cruz did in the senate was very often go over to confer with the house to actually urge the house members to go over the fiscal cliff. He was the one who was more responsible than anybody for the government shutdown.

He really not only does he dislike institutions and he is willing to destroy institutions, but he is probably the most disliked politician among his peers, among anybody who has worked with him that I had ever heard of. You know, to get to Washington, as an elected official, you got to be somewhat likable. This is a guy who almost everybody detests.

O`DONNELL: Robert Reich, thank you very much for sharing your very painful thought experiment with us tonight.

REICH: It is not -- I am not endorsing Trump. This is not a defense of Donald Trump, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: I am glad you clarified that. Chris Hayes is up next. Thank you Robert Reich.