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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 3/23/2016

Guests: Malcolm Nance, Nasser Weddady, Randy Evans, Curly Haugland, Sam Stein

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: March 23, 2016 Guest: Malcolm Nance, Nasser Weddady, Randy Evans, Curly Haugland, Sam Stein

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: But if the Supreme Court and Antonin Scalia and the vacancy on the court and the President being able to appoint a new justice, that ever seems like an esoteric concept?

Arizona`s blessed Maricopa County made it all very concrete last night. Miles and miles and miles and hours and hours and hours of concrete.

It`s disgusting. 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: Good evening Rachel. And you got to stop breaking these sex scandal stories.

MADDOW: I know --

O`DONNELL: When I`m trying to do my homework for this hour, this -- you got to -- come on.

MADDOW: There`s something disturbing too about just the constant pictures of the governor of Alabama with the corresponding information.

It`s the --


MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Let`s just say you broke my concentration on my homework here.

MADDOW: I`m sorry, I won`t do it again until the next time.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Well, this is not the first time the wife of a presidential candidate has been caught in a campaign crossfire.

Wait until you hear what John Quincy Adams said about Andrew Jackson`s wife. And Paul Ryan did something today that politicians never do, he admitted he was wrong, wrong about something very important.

But first, the biggest campaign story of the day has Republican candidates for president behaving once again as if they are candidates for king.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You talk about patrolling Muslims neighborhoods.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Locations where there`s a higher incidents of radical Islamic terrorism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He doesn`t know what the hell he`s talking about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the United States, we may have radicalized individuals, we do not have radicalized communities.

CRUZ: When you are patrolling and securing a neighborhood, it benefits the neighborhood.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance, which by the way the father of Senator Cruz escaped for America.



TRUMP: I`m OK, we have to be vigilant.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s wrong, it`s counterproductive, it`s dangerous.

OBAMA: And it`s not going to help us defeat ISIL.

TRUMP: Here, who says ISIL --


TRUMP: ISIL. Everyone else says ISIS, and it`s almost like he does it to bother people.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Politics can be a battle of ideas, not a battle of insults.

CRUZ: Donald Trump`s foreign policy is bizarre.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would rule in the possibility of using, right, nuclear weapons against ISIS?

TRUMP: Well, I`m never going to rule anything out. I want them to think maybe we would use it. You know, we need unpredictability.

RYAN: It does not have to be this way.


O`DONNELL: There are over 17,000 state and local police departments in the United States of America and not one of them answers to the President of the United States. Not one.

The President cannot order any police officer in any one of those police departments to do anything at any time.

You don`t have to go to law school to know that, but Ted Cruz did go to law school, Harvard Law School, and he does know that.

And that`s the big difference between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

It`s not a difference that matters very much, but Ted Cruz knows when he`s inventing presidential powers that do not exist in the constitution and Donald Trump of course doesn`t.

Donald Trump has no idea that the President can`t just suddenly slap tariffs on automobiles or air conditioners from Mexico.

Only Congress can do that. And Donald Trump has no idea that the President cannot order police officers all over the country to "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods."

So, when Donald Trump immediately agreed with Ted Cruz`s impossible idea to patrol Muslim neighborhoods, Donald Trump didn`t know that it`s an impossible idea.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Cruz came out today and said that he thought we should have police patrols in Muslim neighborhoods in the United States.

TRUMP: I`m OK with it.


TRUMP: I`m OK. We have to be vigilant, we have to be careful.


O`DONNELL: The leader of the single biggest police department in America was outraged by Ted Cruz`s idea.


BILL BRATTON, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: I would remind the Senator he lives in the United States of America.

In the statements he made today is why he`s not going to become president of this country because we don`t need a president that doesn`t respect the values that form the foundation of this country.


O`DONNELL: The NYPD did tell Ted Cruz exactly where he could find over 900 Muslims gathering every day, most of them with guns.

Right there, inside the NYPD, which employs 900 Muslims in a city that has more Muslim residents than any other city in America.

Now, some Ted Cruz supporters probably think that if the NYPD and other police departments around the country refuse to patrol Muslim neighborhoods, then President Cruz can just order the FBI to do it.

Never mind that presidents do not try to meddle in the specific deployment of FBI resources.

All you really need to know is that the entire FBI, the whole thing, you counting every agent and every field office everywhere in the country in Washington D.C.

The whole thing is about exactly the same size as one police department in America, the NYPD.

So, it would take that entire FBI every agent in every field office everywhere in the country and every agent in Washington to move to New York City to conduct Ted Cruz`s Muslim patrols just in New York City alone.

So, once again, the Republican campaign for the presidency spends the day spinning around an impossible idea.

One day, it`s the Trump plan to deport 11 million people, another day it`s the Cruz plan to abolish the IRS.

Then it`s the Trump unconstitutional dream to ban Muslims from entering the country or the Trump wall that Mexico will pay for.

And today, it`s Ted Cruz`s patrols that will never happen and can never happen. Isn`t it time for everyone to just admit, especially interviewers of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

But Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are not running for president, they are running for an office that doesn`t exist in a government that doesn`t exist.

John Kasich is the only Republican candidate who is actually running for president of the United States.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Brussels happened yesterday, I knew how to talk about it in a way that a leader should talk about it.

It`s not about patrolling neighborhoods.


KASICH: It`s not about shutting our borders down. It is about having the intelligence worldwide.

It is about bringing a coalition together of our Muslim-Arab friends who are -- and who find the actions of these extremists as abhorrent and as horrible as we do.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Nasser Weddady; an expert on ISIS and youth radicalization. Also with us here in New York, Malcolm Nance; a former counterterrorism intelligence officer and an Msnbc contributor.

He actually ran a waterboarding program for the U.S. Navy and has been waterboarded himself as part of that training.

We`re going to get to the torture discussion, Malcolm, which Donald Trump also threw into the reaction to what`s happened in Brussels.

But your reaction to this notion of patrolling and securing as Ted Cruz said Muslim neighborhoods.

MALCOLM NANCE, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Well, it`s absolutely ludicrous. I mean, there is a shameful legacy in the United States of having done this before.

I mean we used to have the slave patrols, which would go around and try to round up slaves and keep people in line on plantations.

We had the -- my great grandfather was a buffalo soldier who served out of Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

He would go on Indian patrols in order to keep Indians that were put on to reservations on reservations.

And we rounded up the Japanese during World War II. These are things which should never be mentioned again in American history as a viable plan.

It`s never going to happen. He must have watched that old movie "The Siege", you know, where he thought that he could hole up an entire Muslim community.

But what`s he going to do? There are 6,000 U.S. service members fighting, you know, in the Armed Forces now.

Is he going to -- you know, is he going to consider them part of the enemy force? We do not have a Gestapo, we do not have a Stasi.

No one is going to carry out this operation and it`s shameful that it was even said.

O`DONNELL: Nasser Weddady, so let`s just imagine for a moment the Muslim patrol car driving down the street in some American city or town.

What would Ted Cruz tell the officers to look for?

NASSER WEDDADY, EXPERT, ISIS & YOUTH RADICALIZATION: Thank you for having me, Lawrence. That is an excellent question that highlights how ludicrous this idea is to begin with.

Because Muslims happen to come in all shapes and colors. They are white, they are brown, they are black, they come from all different backgrounds.

For example in my hometown in Boston, if you want to go and patrol the Muslim neighborhood, you will be patrolling a Boston neighborhood where people are white and have blue eyes and then many times are blond.

It`s -- this idea just like for me what I find outrageous is that for him to say these things, knowing or knowing that he`s saying them to cater to a certain -- like the most vial elements in American society.

And it would be even scarier if he actually believes these things. So, with Ted Cruz, I`m not quite sure whether he believes these things or he`s just using them to whip up hate.

O`DONNELL: And you know, now, Hillary Clinton said something today in her foreign policy speech and her reaction speech to what happened in Brussels that was strangely close to the language that Ted Cruz used.

We don`t have it here right now. But she said something about we need to target the hot spots.

And included in that sentence was neighborhoods and it begs the follow-up question of what neighborhood -- you know, Muslim neighborhoods.

What exactly did you mean by that? And it may be one of those speeches that was kind of written by committee and these awkward words got into that sentence.

But it`s -- it was very unclear what she meant by that.

NANCE: Well, the question is, what was she talking about? Was she --


NANCE: Talking about the United States? Was she talking about in Europe? Was she talking about in Raqqah, Syria? The -- you know, the ISIS headquarters.

You know, we have to be very careful about this. And we don`t have to be very careful about this as a matter of political correctness.

We have to be careful about this as a matter of defending and keeping safe our brothers and sisters who are fighting in the Armed Forces right now.

Our children, our relatives who are deployed overseas. We have had a state(ph) of what we call blue-on-green attacks where members of the Afghan army turned on their U.S. allies and just killed them.

We don`t know what caused those. I can`t say whether they were members of the Taliban.

But certainly, if you create an atmosphere where hateful rhetoric is now imbued and transmitted throughout the Muslim world, you are going to get individual incidents like this.

And you may get less cooperation in operations where we really need their support to kill terrorists who deserve to be killed.

O`DONNELL: Just to be clear. Hillary Clinton condemned what Ted Cruz had to say about these patrols and stood firmly with her local police department, which is the NYPD.

I was just referring to one small line in her speech today. Things did get a little bit worse.

Donald Trump has introduced the concept of maybe nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Let`s listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would rule in the possibility of using, right, nuclear weapons against ISIS?

TRUMP: Well, I`m never going to rule anything out --


TRUMP: And I wouldn`t want to say, even if I felt it wasn`t going to, I wouldn`t want to tell you that.


TRUMP: Because at a minimum, I want them to think maybe we would use it, OK? --


TRUMP: It`s the worst thing when we do these interviews -- everybody, not me.


TRUMP: And you asked a question like that, and everybody comes clean and they`re so honest. You know, we need unpredictability.


O`DONNELL: All right, Nasser Weddady, how would the region greet a President Trump? Here you have Iran entering a deal not to develop nuclear weapons.

You have Pakistan that does possess nuclear weapons. What would the reaction be to an American president who says, yes, I just might use nuclear weapons in the region.

WEDDADY: Well, the reactions already in the region are quite interesting. Donald Trump is being greeted with a lot of division and laughter.

No one takes him seriously because a lot of people that are friends that I`ve been hearing is that, oh, gee, Donald trump is saying all of these things.

He after all doesn`t sound very different from a Gaddafi or a Saddam Hussein. He sounds like the ten-pound dictators we have over here.

We cannot believe that the American people can choose someone like Donald Trump to be their president.

And I get often times besieged by this question and it`s mind boggling to me that -- like people like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump with their ridiculous propositions can be -- can be even anywhere near the presidency.

And now let me share with you something going back to Cruz`s insane comments about patrolling Muslim neighborhoods.

Look, I came to this country in the year of 2000, very much like Ted Cruz`s father fleeing for my life.

And I did not come to the United States because I was looking for the newest 18-inch TV screen.

I came to the United States because I read the constitution of the United States and I came for the promise of liberty, equality, rule of law.

All the things that are not available in the Arab world. All of the things that are -- make America stand different from these places.

So, for me to hear this, yes, I`m a proud American Muslim, and my -- I cannot reason or even begin to take any of this seriously.

And frankly, many things crossed my mind when I first heard the comments, some of them I cannot say on live TV.

But what I can say is that the gut reaction is like get lost you idiot.

O`DONNELL: Malcolm, quickly, before we go --

NANCE: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump wants torture, he wants to get it legalized, of course, Congress will never be able to pass any kind of legalization of waterboarding or anything like that.

But in Donald Trump`s world, he would like to be able to waterboard and torture at will.

NANCE: Waterboarding does not work, torture does not work. We have an entire system of schools --

O`DONNELL: Wait a minute --

NANCE: Which --

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump is an expert on this and he says it does.

NANCE: Well --

O`DONNELL: He says it works.

NANCE: Yes, well, you know, if you`d like me to waterboard them, you know, I may be convinced of that just to show him that it absolutely doesn`t work.

We have a system of schools which trained this. Which the first slide in the resistance training course is torture does not work.

We are going to -- it is a form of sadism and we`re going to teach you what to do to defeat the enemy when they try to do this.

You know, the honor of the United States is at stake here. We are again obviously in a crisis of honor.

General George Washington himself set the standard for the United States Armed Forces in the treatment of prisoners and I don`t think he should be overridden in anytime.

O`DONNELL: Nasser Weddady, Malcolm Nance, thank you both for joining us tonight, I really appreciate it.

NANCE: My pleasure.

WEDDADY: Thank you for having me, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the problem that Belgium has in monitoring terrorists. You will hear one mother`s tearful story about her own son being radicalized and how the Belgium authorities could not help her.

Also, it`s all about delegates. Can Donald Trump get the magic number? If he doesn`t get the magic number, what happens?

Two people who are going to decide how the Republican convention works, two members of that rules committee will join us.

And house Speaker Paul Ryan did something today that politicians just about never do, very few ever do.

He admitted he was wrong, but was anyone who should be listening really listening to Paul Ryan today?


BARTIROMO: This afternoon, Donald Trump tweeted, "while I believe I will clinch before Cleveland and get more than 1,237 delegates, it is unfair in that there had been so many in the race."

Msnbc political correspondent Steve Kornacki has mapped out the route to the Republican presidential nomination.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: All right, so, Donald Trump`s magic number is 1,237. Where is he right now? When everything that`s going so far is counted up, he`ll be at about -- this is a rough number, about 755.

So, what`s the pathway? It starts in the next contest on the board that`s Wisconsin, that`s April 5th.

Let`s say Donald Trump gets a narrow win there. A narrow win would probably be about 30 of those 42 delegates.

That moves him. If he gets that to 785, where else can he look? He can look to the Northeast, he has been killing it in this part of the country in states like this.

He could legitimately take 280 more delegates from here. If he does that, that bumps him up to 1,070. Starting to get close.

He could also look to Indiana in early May. Let`s say he gets a narrow win there, 30 more, 1,100.

How about this? The last one on the board, the biggest prize on the board, California.

Let`s say he gets a narrow win in California, a 100 delegates, bumps him up to 1,200.

You`re getting real close to 1,237, look where that would leave all of this real estate in here, if he could squeeze 37 delegates out of there, he`d hit the number.

He`d be the nominee, no questions asked. There is definitely a pathway. There are multiple pathways for Trump.

And if you want to stop him if you`re Ted Cruz or anyone else, the first thing you got to do, you got to beat him in Wisconsin in two weeks. Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Steve. Coming up, how the rules might just determine who ends up with that nomination.

Two people who are going to decide what those rules are for the Republican convention will join us next.


O`DONNELL: First, Lindsey Graham, now, Jeb Bush. Republicans who never dreamed it would come to this are endorsing Ted Cruz to prevent their worst nightmare from getting the Republican presidential nomination.

But John Kasich isn`t giving up.


KASICH: Nobody`s going to go to the convention with enough delegates. The delegates take it very seriously.

They take it very seriously. And what they do is they think about two things. One, they think about who can win and they also think about this is a really crazy idea, who actually could be president, OK?

They think about that as well. And I think that when you get down to that, particularly with the fact that I`m the only one that can beat Hillary, you know, that I think that`s pretty compelling.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Randy Evans; chairman of the Republicans National Lawyers Association and a member of the rules committee and debate committee of the RNC.

Also with us once again Curly Haugland; a member of the RNC Rules Committee and an unbound delegate to that Republican convention from North Dakota.

Randy Evans, what do you make of that case that John Kasich just made that they`re going to think about all these factors and in the end they`re going to start staring at him in those one-on-one match-up polls in which he always does the best against the Democrats?

RANDY EVANS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICANS NATIONAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION: Well, I think it`s unlikely we actually ever get there. I think the pathway is there for Donald Trump to win.

He`s not that far away in the total numbers. He`s only about 498 delegates. And I personally think he`s going to end up about 75 delegates short.

And the real question will be, are there enough unbound delegates to put him over the top?

We`ll find all of that out on April, 5th, really. I think that`s the make or break moment for the Republican nominating process.

If Wisconsin which is neck-and-neck between Senator Cruz and Donald Trump breaks for Senator Cruz, then we`ll know that the coalition of the establishment is starting to put together enough push back to deprive Donald Trump of the 1,237 needed.

On the other hand, I think if Donald Trump wins Wisconsin, you can pretty much expect that you`re going to have a Donald Trump presumptive nominee going into the convention.

O`DONNELL: Curly Haugland, you mentioned some things that people have been taking for granted during the primary season that could be real problems at the convention.

Including that according to the rules, open primaries, the results of open primaries are not allowed.

That the Republican convention doesn`t accept the outcome of primaries like Massachusetts for example.

Where Democrats, independents were allowed to reach over, get a Republican ballot, vote in the Republican primary for Donald Trump who won Massachusetts.

So -- and what might happen because of that variation from the rules that some of these states have used?

CURLY HAUGLAND, MEMBER, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE RULES COMMITTEE: Well, he had a -- in my wildest dreams I never thought I`d be forced to defend the Republicans rights to choose the Republican nominee for president.

But it`s come down to this I guess. And I`m surprised too, to hear that the convention`s been moved up to April.

The votes that needs to be taken is the 1,237, that has to be taken at the convention and we can`t take it ahead of time.

And these estimates that are being bandied around by Steve Kornacki and of course everybody else are all estimates based on the primary rules of each state that may or may not stand up and they also include winner-take-all.

But it`s very possible that one or another of the candidates in each of these states could be challenging as many as 15 or 20 states that had some form of a process where non-Republicans can participate in a nomination process.

And so this can`t be worked out and the number will not be known until the convention in July of this year.

O`DONNELL: And Randy Evans, Donald Trump`s principle challenger is a very sharp lawyer himself, Ted Cruz, who no doubt is going to stare at those rules that Curly is talking about, about these so-called open primary states.

And what would -- what would prevent him from bringing a challenge to the results of those primaries?

EVANS: That is well established precedent that`s been established over many years.

That as long as you cannot vote in both primaries, in other words, you can`t select both the Democratic and a Republican ballot, then you need the requirements for the rule to have your delegates bound.

So, it`s not something -- this is -- Curly is a great committee man, he`s brought this up at many rules committee meetings, it`s been thoroughly addressed and vetted.

That`s not -- that`s not the process by which we would end up with an open convention.

That`s not to say that if Donald Trump shows up without 1,237, that a majority of the delegates decide to open the rules up which they`re imperfectly entitled to do.

And we would then have an open convention, not just as to the nominee, but as to the rules for picking that nominee.

O`DONNELL: But Curly, isn`t just this has become a so-called established precedent just because these things haven`t been close.

We -- you guys haven`t gone into a convention since 1976 where it was even close.

And I read your rule today, it says very clearly in your written rule that you must be a registered Republican to vote in a Republican primary.

And you would definitely be according to the results of some of these states in absolute flagrant violation of that rule.

HAUGLAND: Well, it was certainly seen that way. I don`t know how many ways you can read the same words.


Why would they say -- why would we have a rule that says you have to be a Republican to vote if we meant -- if we intended it to mean the opposite.

That doesn`t make sense.

O`DONNELL: All right, well, we`ll be continuing this discussion probably right up until the eve of the convention.

Randy Evans, really appreciate your perspectives tonight, Curly Haugland, thank you very much for joining us again, really appreciate it.

HAUGLAND: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

EVANS: You`re welcome. Coming up, Msnbc`s Olivia Sterns talks with a mother in the Belgium neighborhood where the attackers lived, whose son actually joined the Islamic State.

This is a heart-breaking description of how she lost her son to the Islamic State. You really want to see this.


O`DONNELL: The government document obtained by NBC News shows that just four months ago Belgian officials believed they were making progress in diffusing terror threats from ISIS inside Belgium. The confidential U.S. cable described how Belgian official outlined their program to stop Belgians who had traveled to the Middle East to join the Islamic state from returning them to threat Europe.

Tonight, the Associated Press reports that there could be hundreds of people trained by the Islamic state in Europe right now. MSNBC`s Olivia Sterns met a mother in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels who alerted authorities when she realized that her 19-year-old son was growing increasingly sympathic with the Islamic state.


OLIVIA STERNS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: So you went to the police to tell them?

GERALDINE HENNEGHIEN, SON JOINED ISIS, WAS KILLED IN SYRIA: Yes. We give them the date that he will go to Syria. They knew that he was perhaps a membership of a terrorist group because the police -- the police sergeant, the police official said to us if I write this sentence, he`s membership of a terrorist group, he will be blocked immediately in the computer.

STERN: Why didn`t they block him?

HENNEGHIEN: Because he was major -- he was 18 years old six months.

STERN: So, he was an adult.

HENNEGHIEN: Until for them he wasn`t adult.

STERN: Yeah.

HENNEGHIEN: So he can travel where he want to and so they don`t block him. If I knew that they don`t block him, I will block him. Also I don`t consider that the problem that he was an immigrant. This was a very big problem for him and also I blame the police because they don`t stop him.


O`DONNELL: Geraldine son left Belgium in January 2014. He was killed by American forces a year later. Geraldine says the terrorists who recruited her son is still alive and well in that neighborhood of Molenbeek.

Up next, an extraordinary statement by Paul Ryan today.


O`DONNELL: Tortilla Coast is my favorite restaurant in Washington, the restaurant I`ve been to more than any other in Washington because it is the cheapest good food restaurant closest to the Senate office buildings that I used to work in.

The crowd at Tortilla Coast is 99 percent congressional staff and interns buying about 10 bucks worth of Quesadillas and Tacos and then loading up on the free chips. So, when Paul Ryan told an audience of house interns today that one of his first jobs in Washington was waiter at Tortilla Coast, he could not possibly have given a more vivid demonstration that just about anyone and certainly any one of them, could grow up to be speaker of the house.


REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) HOUSE SPEAKER: I first met Jack exactly where you`d expect at Tortilla Coast. It`s true. I was waiting tables. You know, to you I had student loans, come out of school. I have a few jobs and I was a waiter and I waited on Jack Kemp. I didn`t bother him that day, but I told a friend, one day I would love to have a chance to work for that man. And, as luck would have it, such an opening came up.


O`DONNELL: And as they say, the rest is history. Paul Ryan like Jack Kemp became a member of the House of Representatives. And like Jack Kemp he became a Republican nominee for vice president. But now Paul Ryan has reach the peak higher than Jack Kemp ever did speaker of the house.

Paul Ryan gathered his audience of interns today in the hearing room of the most powerful committee in the house, the ways and means committee and the only partisan paragraph in his speech was about an 1981 tax cut that Jack Kemp pushed through Congress beginning right there in that room at the interns were sitting in.

The interns Paul Ryan was speaking to today are new to politics. Many of them are likely watching a presidential campaign closely for the very first time in their lives and so the most important thing that Paul Ryan wanted them to know today was this.


RYAN: Our political discourse, both the kind that we see on T.V. and the kind that we experience among each other, it did not use to be this bad and it does not have to be this way.


O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan didn`t mention any candidates` names, but everything he said about what is wrong with our current political climate applies to the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.


RYAN: If someone has a bad idea. Well, why don`t we tell them why our idea is better? We don`t insult them into agreeing with us. We try to persuade them. Politics can be a battle of ideas, not a battle of insults.


O`DONNELL: There was one truly extraordinary thing that Paul Ryan said today, something that shouldn`t be extraordinary, something that should be common place, a politician admitting that he was wrong. Now, we`re all wrong about something at some time, but most politicians never admit that.


RYAN: There was a time that I would talk about a difference between makers and takers in our country referring to people who accepted government benefits, but as I spent more time listening, really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized something, I realized that I was wrong. Takers weren`t how to refer to a single mom stuck in a poverty trap trying to take care of her own family. Most people don`t want to be dependent. And the label a whole group of Americans that way was wrong.

I shouldn`t castigate a large group of Americans just to make a point. So I stopped talking about it that way. And I stopped thinking about it that way. But I didn`t come out and say this to be politically correct. I say this because I was just wrong.


O`DONNELL: You know, I said at the time that I thought that`s what I was seeing happen to Paul Ryan two years ago in a hearing about anti-poverty programs. He as chairman granted the request of Democratic committee member Barbara Lee to hear from an actual poor person, something I had never seen before in a congressional hearing.

Tianna Gaines-Turner told Paul Ryan and the committee about her struggles living in Washington, D.C. with her husband being paid $8.25 an hour and she being paid $10.88 an hour. As Paul Ryan listened attentively and respectfully, Tianna Gaines-Turner testified at length about how her family could not make it without food stamps.


TIANNA GAINES-TURNER, HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE WHITNESS: I am not a number. I am not a statistic. I am not a food stamp recipient. I am an individual who lives in the inner city who just so happens to be right now struggling just as so many Americans are struggling. The food stamp program is very important to me and my family. No one wakes up in the morning and say have says we want to be in poverty. We want to stay in a two hour line had food pantry to get to the front and just to be told that there isn`t any food.


O`DONNELL: Tianna Gaines-Turner changed Paul Ryan`s mind about people who need government assistance.


RYAN: I was just wrong.


O`DONNELL: Take those words, I was just wrong and Google them with any other politician`s name and for almost all of them you will come up with nothing.

Paul Ryan`s bipartisan audience have interns loved his inspiring speech today and many of them were probably talking about it tonight over chips at Tortilla Coast, but was anyone else in politics who should have been listening to that speech really listening?

Joining us now, former RNC chairman and MSNBC Political Analyst Michael Steele, also Sam Stein Senior Political Editor for the Huffington Post.

And Sam Stein let`s just stipulate that Democrats dearly wish that Paul Ryan would translate his news understanding of the working poor into his budget proposals which he does not do. He`s not there yet. And so, that`s the big gap that`s going on here, but that was an extraordinary moment, but let`s talk about what he said about campaigning in America today and what`s happened to the tone of the campaign. Every single criticism he offered seemed to be aimed straight at Donald Trump.

SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: First of all, you are just wrong. Tortilla Coast not that good, not that good, OK?

O`DONNELL: You with your fancy tastes.

STEIN: All right, fine fair enough. Now for the substance of the Ryan speech, yeah, I think he -- well, first of all, he`s clearly trying to differentiate himself and by extension the House Republicans from Donald Trump who at a very basic level does actually threaten many of the people in that conference and possibly, although unlikely Paul Ryan`s position as speaker.

So I think that`s the important context here. But also it`s just a reflection of an incredible angst that`s happening right now among elected GOPers over what could happen if this man is at the top of the ticket. I do think there`s validity to that fact that some of the rhetoric that we`re seeing now is abnormal.

Now, campaigns have always been vicious and personal. There`s been physical attacks and non-physical attacks, but what Trump is doing is personalizing in a way that is uncomfortable for a lot of people and different for a lot of political observers and I think Paul Ryan is trying to steer it back a little bit.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to one more thing Paul Ryan said about the ugliness of our politics now.


RYAN: Governing ourselves was never meant to be easy. This is always been a tough business and when passions flare ugliness is sometimes inevitable, but we shouldn`t accept ugliness as the norm. We should demand better for ourselves. We should demand better from one another.


O`DONNELL: Michael Steele this -- he does not sound like a Republican who is bending to the wind of Donald Trump.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he`s not bending to the wind of Donald Trump. But the question is will the caucus that stands behind him bend towards him and the words that he said. I took the speeches not just being about Donald Trump, I know a lot of people want to focus on that, but there was a whole lot that could apply to Ted Cruz and the comments that he made recently just as much as yesterday about Muslims and sort of policing them in their communities.

How we talk about people, how we describe their problems, how we even pay attention to their problems is what Ryan is trying to get the party to focus on. The test launch is I think is the question that you asked coming into this segment, was anybody listening. Were the people who will convenience in the Congress this fall to deal with the way the issues that this country must face do so in a way that Paul Ryan described. That jury remains out and in the heat of a presidential campaign it will be very, very difficult for them to do that given the passions that the grassroots level that will bubble up into that caucus room in the capital.

O`DONNELL: And Sam we`re seeing in that speech some of why Paul Ryan did not want to be speaker of the house.

STEIN: Yeah.

O`DONNELL: Because in that speech what he saying is look, this is the way I want this to work and clearly it`s not working the way Paul Ryan wants it to work.

STEIN: And recall that as condition of him accepting that speakership, he was supposed to have a little bit of a leash from his more conservative the Freedom Caucus members. And I think what we`re seeing now is that leash wasn`t as long as he anticipated as my colleague Matt Fuller has been reporting extensively. He`s had a lot of trouble with those members when it comes to passing a budget.

There is obviously going to be heighten concerns over legislator items, not to mention to mention the trade deals that Paul Ryan does want to pursue fundamentally if Donald Trump is at the head of the ticket and I think this is as much a concern about rhetoric in politics as it is about policy because if you step back and you look at what Donald Trump is advocating, some of the big policy items. They are vastly different than Paul Ryan.

O`DONNELL: Oh yeah.

STEIN: You could look at social security reform, trade policy, immigration in some respects. Those are a different type of republicanism than Paul Ryan`s advocating.

O`DONNELL: Michael, quickly before we go, I can`t think of a member or a Republican member of the House who agrees with Donald Trump on every thing.

STEELE: Right.

O`DONNELL: You know, for example the increased spending on social security, the Iraq war was a disaster. I mean, is there a single Republican in there who does agree with him on everything?

STEELE: Not that I know off, to be honest, no. But here`s the rub. I think at the end of the day Donald Trump is going to have to realize this. He maybe beginning to that`s he`s going to need a Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

O`DONNELL: Oh yeah.

STEELE: For his legislative agenda to see any light of day. But here`s the other rub. They`re going to need Donald Trump as well because they can afford to have this expanding base now stay home.

O`DONNELL: Michael Steele, Sam Stein. Thank you both for joining us. As we appreciate it.

Coming up, the real Republican housewives of the presidential campaign. Today Ted Cruz`s wife responded to Donald Trump`s veiled threat against her.


O`DONNELL: Tonight in Argentina this happened.

Come on. You can`t force the president of the United States to dance, right?

It`s official. Best tango by a president in history.


O`DONNELL: In America whenever we say it`s never been this bad, it usually means we`re forgetting something about just how bad it used to be. Last night a Twitter war broke out between presidential candidates about their wives and a lot of people once again said presidential campaigning has never been this bad and those of us who said that were forgetting about Rachel Jackson, President Andrew Jackson`s wife who was attacked viciously during two presidential campaigns.

John Quincy Adams attacked Andrew Jackson in the campaign of 1824 for Andrew Jackson`s "Passion and lack of self-control," because Jackson`s wife, Rachel, was a married woman when he met her and the timing of her divorce indicated that she might have still been married to her first husband when she married Jackson. So John Quincy Adams then beat Andrew Jackson, but four years later Jackson won the presidency after another campaign that was even more vicious for Rachel Jackson.

One newspaper said "There is pollution in the touch, there is perdition in the example of a profligate woman." The campaign seemed to crush her spirit and her health and in December of 1828, just before they were scheduled to leave Tennessee for Washington, Rachel Jackson died. Andrew Jackson buried his wife on Christmas Eve wearing the white satin gown that she had chosen for his inaugural ball.

Joining us now, NBC News Katy Tur who has been covering the Trump campaign and the latest dust up (ph) which turns out to be a very old American tradition.

KATY TUR, GOVERNING TRUMP CAMPAIGN FOR NBC NEWS: Well, it`s not asked the question for anything at this point.

O`DONNELL: No, no. I don`t think we`re going to get that ending here. These are healthy strong woman. I watch this when were doing our election coverage last night and I was watching on Twitter. This Twitter war break out. You saw it happen in real time.

TUR: Yeah, so basically what happened last night is Donald Trump tweeted something saying lying Ted Cruz, it shouldn`t have anything to do with this ad, it was a tweet, this thing (ph) you have about Melania and he better be careful or I`m going to spill the beans on you`re wives it referring to Heidi Cruz.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. And the the ad he was complaining about was an online thing that one of those stop Trump pacs had done.

TUR: It was make American awesome super PAC.

O`DONNELL: Which is not affiliated with Ted Cruz. The ad showing this kind of naked picture Trumps wife.

TUR: A GQ cover shot of 2000 of Melania you can see at here.

O`DONNELL: Can I say that -- we`re doing to that picture right there is making it seen like it`s a lot stronger than it is.

TUR: It`s not as strong as we were .


TUR: . making it see nothing is .

O`DONNELL: A child could see this picture and survive it.

TUR: Nothing is exposed in this photo. It`s a GQ fashion shot, but it says meet Melania Trump your next first lady next or you could support Ted Cruz on Tuesday. This is in Utah it where was started.


TUR: It was intended to make Utah more men women not like Donald Trump. Not vote for Donald Trump. We saw of course Ted Cruz winning Utah. He was expected to win in Utah. But he won by a pretty wide margin, so Donald Trump tweeted this out, suddenly a story that nobody really knew about last night. Everybody had been talking about Brussels, they`ve have been talking about the election, nobody had seen that ad for the most part.

Suddenly the entire country had seen it if not the world because his Twitter followers are span the globe apparently. And so, it blows into this much larger story. Ted Cruz comes out and says what are you talking about, I have nothing to do with this ad on Twitter and what are you talking about with me wife here.

O`DONNELL: And then his wife today made a very effective appearance where she`s saying, you know, Donald Trump is terrible and will say anything and you really don`t when you have the trump campaign you don`t want to see Mrs. Cruz standing up there doing what she did today.

TUR: No, and she was very forceful, she`s very strong.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, very effective.

TUR: She came on and she said, listen, Donald Trump has said all sorts of things in this campaign and none of that have turned -- a lot of them haven`t turned out to be true. She held her ground and this whole drama became much larger than ever would`ve been.

But let`s take a -- one quick thing. Donald Trump, whenever the news cycle has gone away from him, has tried to make it come back to him. This is another example of that happening.

O`DONNELL: And he loves claiming victimization, which is part of the way - -

TUR: He does.

O`DONNELL: -- that he reacted to this. But I -- I don`t think we`re going to get the ending that we got in 1828. I think things are going to be OK.

Katy Tur gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Great to see you here in the studio.

TUR: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Not on the trail. Thank you.

Chris Hayes is up next.