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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 4/13/2016

Guests: Nancy Giles, Liz Mair, Nina Turner, Howard, Dean Ritchie Torres, Brad Lander, Agnes Rivera, Charlene Nimmons

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: April 13, 2016 Guest: Nancy Giles, Liz Mair, Nina Turner, Howard, Dean Ritchie Torres, Brad Lander, Agnes Rivera, Charlene Nimmons

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: 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 advise you to get out of the building quickly tonight.


O`DONNELL: Because coming up in the show, not in the first segment, but coming up, there`s going to be a mini Hillary versus Bernie debate --


O`DONNELL: With Howard Dean and Nina Turner. And if you`re still here, if you see the first ten seconds of it you won`t be able to leave.


So, I`m just -- right, I mean --

MADDOW: You`re trying to save my evening.

O`DONNELL: I`m trying to save your evening.

MADDOW: Fair enough --

O`DONNELL: Yes, I am --

MADDOW: You`re very kind. I`m going to go put the ear plugs in now.

O`DONNELL: All right --

MADDOW: Thank you --

O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel, so there will be that mini debate coming up. Also, there is a hidden city inside New York City.

A hidden city with a population bigger than the entire state of Vermont and not one presidential candidate has visited the hidden city, even though they have all been invited to.

Tonight, you`ll come with me on a visit to that hidden city that most New Yorkers see every day, but never enter.

But first, in a fight over the rules, never, and I mean never, bet on the guy who doesn`t know the rules.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You may have noticed Donald is very unhappy.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s a rigged system, folks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s clearly not. The true art of the deal, Donald, is knowing what the -- deal is.


CRUZ: Any time the people vote against Donald, he screams the voters are stealing the election.

TRUMP: But you can`t let the bosses take it away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re exchanging tweets with him, you`re tweeting, he`s tweeting.

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I honestly don`t take it all that personally.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Please join us at the adult table with Kasich.



CRUZ: It`s been a bit of a roller coaster.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ugly currents that lurk just below the surface of our politics have burst into the open.

TRUMP: She`s the most dishonest of all.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s not just about electing a president, it is about creating a political revolution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new poll has found that Bernie Sanders is the most likeable of all the presidential candidates, which let`s face it, is kind of like being the best dressed person at Wal-Mart.



O`DONNELL: Twenty eight years ago, in 1988, Oprah Winfrey asked Donald Trump about running for president.


OPRAH WINFREY, MEDIA PROPRIETOR: You`ve said though that if you did run for president you believe you`d win.

TRUMP: Well, I don`t know. I think I`d win. I`ll tell you what, I wouldn`t go in to lose. I`ve never gone in to lose in my life.


O`DONNELL: That very same year, Reince Priebus was a 16-year-old high school student in Wisconsin volunteering to work on his very first political campaigns.

Reince Priebus learned politics the hard way. From the ground up, starting as the lowest level volunteer.

Donald Trump learned politics by watching the shows, watching TV. The trouble is, you can`t really learn politics by watching TV.

You can`t learn government that way either. You have to get in there and work at politics to truly understand it.

You have to be in that room with the door closed when the big important and difficult political decisions are made.

Same thing with government, which is a different thing from politics, remember.

Governing involves politics, but it is far more complex than mere politics. If you`ve never been in the room where the governing decisions are made, you will never fully understand how it works.

Government decisions are not made on TV where Donald Trump can watch them. Reince Priebus is 25 years younger than Donald Trump, but he knows a lot more about politics than Donald Trump ever will.

And Reince Priebus knows a lot more about political in-fighting than Donald Trump ever will.

Reince Priebus seized the top job in the Republican Party by a coup. Michael Steele submitted his name for Republican Party -- re-election as Republican Party chairman.

In 2011, party chairman on both sides are routinely re-elected when they want to be, but Reince Priebus ran against the sitting chairman along with three other candidates and Reince Priebus won on the seventh ballot.

That`s right, the seventh ballot. Republican Party leaders know how to handle a contested vote with the party and go through multiple ballots with constantly shifting alliances and finally end up with a winner on the seventh ballot.

Because Reince Priebus taught the party how to do just that, just five years ago. In 2011, just 23 years after entering politics in high school when he was 16, Reince Priebus became the chairman of the Republican Party at age 38.

When he was age 38, he made it to the top of the mountain that he started climbing in high school, and he has been underestimated by the media and by many in politics every day he`s been on the top of that mountain because he just doesn`t look the part.

He doesn`t look like the tough, old wheeler-dealer, the cigar-smoking party chairman. The clich‚.

Reince Priebus now has the most difficult job in politics, running a party with an inexperienced, unprofessional candidate as the party`s frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.


TRUMP: In Colorado right now, they`re picketing and going wild because the bosses and the establishment and the people that shouldn`t have this power took all of the power away from the voters.

It`s a rigged system, folks. The Republican system is a rigged system. What it does is it allows the bosses to pick whoever they want.

But you can`t let the bosses take it away.


O`DONNELL: As always Reince Priebus responded calmly.


PRIEBUS: Given the year we have, you know, I honestly don`t take it all that personally, but I do have to respond though when a campaign says that the RNC is, you know, rigging the rules.

It`s just not the case. The rules have been set, they`re in place. They`re not going to change.


O`DONNELL: In Maryland today, John Kasich told everyone to get ready for a contested convention.


KASICH: It`s a fact. It`s going to happen. So, it`s going to be very interesting.

And it will probably be very wide open, it will be transparent and when voters -- or when delegates finally take the floor, they will be extremely serious.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Liz Mair, founder of the Anti-Trump Super PAC Make America Awesome, she`s a Republican strategist.

Also with us, Nancy Gibbs, contributor to the "Cbs" -- Nancy Giles, sorry - -


O`DONNELL: "Cbs Sunday Morning", it`s that conscious so far away, Nancy? - -

GILES: It`s OK, I was going to jump in and correct you --


O`DONNELL: My glasses on next time. So, I mean, Reince Priebus, the longer I watch him, the better job I think he`s doing with this --

GILES: Yes, it`s weird --

O`DONNELL: Crazy circus he`s got to amass --

GILES: It is, and he does seem to have this very kind of calm, sort of almost zen master with this little way about him.

And it`s funny, when I was looking at him and hearing you talk about him, I realize he does remind you of the lead guy from revenge of the nerds.


GILES: But --


GILES: It`s really interesting. I have some grudging respect for the fact that he really knows his stuff and he knows the rules.

And that`s what cracks me up about Donald Trump, who the more I listen to him, I just really believe he has a psychological disorder.

There`s a few that I`ve researched, but bigger than everything, he seems to sort of be a dilatant and he`s great at sort of assuming the position of somebody that`s running for office.

You know, right down to all the pictures where he looks really tough --


GILES: Like I`m really thinking about something --


GILES: Because I`m tough and strong, but that doesn`t really translate to doing the research.

And to do diligence, you need to just simply know the rules. And it`s like it`s a spoiled child.

When things aren`t going his way, everyone else is at fault and the rules need to be changed.

It`s somebody who like clears the monopoly pieces when they`re losing. It`s weird.

O`DONNELL: Liz Mair, you`ve got a new ad that you`re going to be running in Upstate, New York in the spirit of stop Trump.

Let`s take a look at this new one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump says a lot of stupid stuff. In 2006, he said on "The View" --

TRUMP: If Ivanka weren`t my daughter, perhaps I`d be dating her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He told "Rolling Stone" that if he weren`t happily married and his daughter`s father, he`d -- well, he didn`t finish the thought, but you can guess what he meant.

Here are some other stupid stuff Trump has said. Trump thinks Americans get paid too much. Trump said in a debate.

TRUMP: The wage is too high, we`re not going to be able to compete against the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump complains about the influx of foreign workers and claims a negative effects from immigration.

But he admitted to "Cnn" that he hires foreigners in his swanky palm beach resort -- not Americans because --

TRUMP: American people, they want full time jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump supports eminent domain using government power to take ordinary people`s property, so people like him can make more money.

Trump said --

TRUMP: I think eminent domain is wonderful --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump, stupid stuff. Make the smart choice and support Ted Cruz.


O`DONNELL: So, Liz, is your group now a pro-Cruz group with that tag line on the ad?


We are still principally an anti-Donald Trump group, but realistically while I take John Kasich`s point about us heading into a contested convention.

The only person who really has capacity of the three remaining or of the two remaining candidates who aren`t Donald Trump to block Donald Trump is in fact Ted Cruz.

So, by virtue of that, we are taking a pro-Cruz position in the majority of what we`re doing.

But we remain staunchly opposed to Donald Trump, and that`s really the issue in this election.

And I agree with much of what you said about Reince Priebus, man, that guy has got probably the toughest, most painful, most --


MAIR: Unappealing job out there that I can think of right now.


And I don`t know, I just -- I wish him luck in navigating those waters because that is no fun whatsoever.

O`DONNELL: But Nancy, the -- and the polls show that John Kasich is running second in New York. So --

MAIR: Right --

O`DONNELL: If you`re advertising in New York, and you`re trying to stop Trump, "Daily News" by the way, they`re endorsing John Kasich.

I think we have tomorrow`s "Daily News" ready to show. They`re endorsing Kasich on the Republican side --

GILES: Well, he`s the only one --

O`DONNELL: Right, so, if you`re trying to take -- if you`re trying to take some votes in New York, why won`t you go with Kasich?

GILES: What, I --


GILES: I think he is the person to go with. And I have to actually compliment Liz on that ad regardless of the fact that they`re supporting Ted Cruz.

It`s really effective just in putting together just the most absurd, bizarre sentiment of any party that anybody could have.

And it does really make the case for someone like Kasich who at least seems to want to engage with people in other parties.

And even things like his calmer demeanor and he speaks in a lower timbre, you know --


GILES: Than Trump who always seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown.


GILES: As far as I`m concerned --

O`DONNELL: Liz, we have some breaking news tonight on the Trump campaign. Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski who has already been downgraded in his job by Paul Manafort and others being brought in over him.

Apparently tonight, "POLITICO" is reporting that he will not be prosecuted --

MAIR: Right --

O`DONNELL: In the battery case against reporter Michelle Field. Nbc hasn`t confirmed that yet, but the prosecutor`s office is saying that the decision will probably be available tomorrow.

MAIR: That`s the understanding that I have also from my own personal sources.

Look, at the end of the day, I mean, I think that it is somewhat unfortunate that they`re not going to go through with this because I think the videotape footage is extremely clear and shows very well what happened there.

But with that being said, the fact that a criminal case isn`t being pursued, I would say does not preclude the possibility that there will be some sort of civil litigation surrounding that.

And if I were a news network, I would be monitoring that situation closely. Just to jump back very quickly to the point about Kasich and Cruz in New York, I think it`s worth noting where we`re running that ad, is in an area where we do believe that Cruz has some significant appeal.

It`s in an area that Carl Paladino performed quite well --

O`DONNELL: Right --

MAIR: And I think that --


MAIR: Carl Paladino, he obviously -- there`re obviously a lot of similarities between him and Trump.

But I think when you look at the type of voter who`s going to be attracted to that sort of person and remaking that decision, they`re probably a little less receptive to sort of warm, cuddly thing that you get with Kasich.

O`DONNELL: So, Liz, this is Upstate western New York near --

MAIR: Yes --

O`DONNELL: The Buffalo market, yes, and that is --

MAIR: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Paladino country, that makes a good point.

MAIR: Manhattan, if I were doing this in Manhattan, I totally would be going pro-Kasich --

O`DONNELL: All right, all right --


Now, I get it -- now, I get it, Liz Mair --

MAIR: There you go --

O`DONNELL: And Nancy Giles, thank you very much --

GILES: Much pleasure --

O`DONNELL: Joining me tonight, really appreciate it --

MAIR: Thank you so much --

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up, all the presidential candidates have been invited to visit any New York City public housing project, and exactly none of them have accepted that invitation, but I did.

You`ll see what the candidates aren`t seeing. And Nina Turner and Howard Dean will join us for a mini Hillary versus Bernie debate. It will be friendly.


O`DONNELL: Senator Bernie Sanders has just wrapped up a massive rally here in New York City. He spoke to supporters gathered in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.

Msnbc`s Kasie Hunt who`s been covering the Sanders campaign was there, she joins us now. Kasie.

KASIE HUNT, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Lawrence, this was in many ways peak Bernie Sanders.

The campaign claims over 27,000 people here in Washington Square Park and it caps off a day where Sanders showcased kind of how he came to be what he is.

You saw him with those communications workers earlier today going back to his activist roots, and you could see in that video how Sanders became what he is here.

And I think the question now is, is this going to rev this up? Is it going to give him some momentum?

Or is this something of a swan song over the course of the next couple of days here?

Do they realize -- does he realize himself that this is something that might be coming to an end or do they feel like this is going to be a show of force that could propel them forward?

They have two more big rallies like this planned, but of course, he`s going to step out of the New York primary and go to the Vatican.

And he sort of has been explaining that to some religion reporters, essentially saying, hey, this is an opportunity that I never thought I would have and I`m going to take it.

So, I think that tells you a little bit about how Sanders is feeling, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Kasie Hunt, thank you very much. Up next, why have Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders not accepted an invitation to visit a public housing project in New York?

Howard Dean and Nina Turner will join us.





O`DONNELL: Today, Bernie Sanders got a rock star reception in Brooklyn, I mean, a Rolling Stone`s reception since Mick Jagger and Keith Richards both `72, and drummer Charlie Watts` `74, the same age as Bernie Sanders.

Senator Sanders joined Verizon employees who went on strike today.


SANDERS: I know how hard it is, what a difficult decision it is to go out on strike --


SANDERS: And I know you`ve heard a whole lot about it. And I know your families are going to pay a price for going out on strike.



SANDERS: But you have chosen to stand up for dignity, for justice and to take on an enormously powerful special interest.




O`DONNELL: During a rally in the Bronx tonight, Hillary Clinton attacked Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.


CLINTON: One of them denigrates New York values. I think New York values are at the core of American values.

That`s why I`m proud to be a New Yorker. One of them, Mr. Trump wants to set Americans against each other.

You know, he wants to build walls, I want us to build bridges. I want us to work together.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Nina Turner; a former Ohio state senator who supports Bernie Sanders for president, and Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, former DNC chairman and an Msnbc political analyst who supports Hillary Clinton for president.

Nina Turner, you were down there in the village for the 27,000 people, Kasie Hunt asks the question, is this the swansong of this campaign?

NINA TURNER, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: Not at all. I mean, all of the people that were there, the energy was palpable.

They are determined. They will be there to vote for Senator Sanders, so we`re just getting started in many ways.

O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, what is it with you Vermont guys. You go out there, run for president, you get the biggest crowds of anybody.



DEAN: That`s what we do.

O`DONNELL: So, these dualing rallies today in New York.

DEAN: Look, I think Hillary is going to win, and I think she`s going to be the next president for a variety of reasons.

One is that she`s the most competent qualified person who`s running, particularly when you compare it to the Republicans.

But you know, I`m going to support whoever wins.

O`DONNELL: There`s an invitation that has gone out to all the presidential candidates. It went out months ago, it was ignored.

It went out again last week to please visit a New York City or anywhere in the state public housing project.

Your candidate Bernie Sanders has not accepted that invitation, your candidate Hillary Clinton has not accepted that invitation.

Can you explain to me why a candidate would ignore in New York City a population of 700,000 in New York City alone?

TURNER: Well, this is the first I`m hearing, Lawrence, of that invitation, but you know, Senator Sanders grew up in a rent-controlled apartment.

He`s been a staunch advocate for affordable housing. So, hopefully, I don`t know what his schedule is, but hopefully, he`ll be able to make the time to do that.

O`DONNELL: I don`t get it --

TURNER: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Why wouldn`t Hillary Clinton do that? And just by the way, for the record, we asked both campaigns today, has your candidate ever visited a public housing project as a senator or as a presidential candidate?

Neither campaign answered the question.

DEAN: Yes, I`d be surprised if Hillary hadn`t visited the public housing project --

O`DONNELL: Me, too. Let me tell you --


DEAN: Is senator --

O`DONNELL: The people involved in public housing here in New York, we`ve been asking them, they don`t have any record or memory of Senator Clinton visiting a public --

DEAN: Right --

O`DONNELL: Housing project. That`s not confirmed, we don`t know. But it`s a pretty amazingly thin public --


O`DONNELL: Record --

DEAN: Just having been in the position of Senator Clinton and Senator Sanders, when you get a call from the news media on the day of and you have a schedule and the primaries is five days away --

O`DONNELL: They got letters on this months ago --

DEAN: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Months ago --

DEAN: Yes, they were months ago, they were in Iowa and they were in Ohio - -

O`DONNELL: And they got another one last week.

DEAN: Right --

O`DONNELL: Right --

DEAN: Now, look, I think it`d be great if they could, but I know what the schedules --

O`DONNELL: I mean, they`re out there --


DEAN: Really tough --

O`DONNELL: And you know, the people, they`re arguing about how you`re supposed to eat pizza in New York, they go to these Delis --

TURNER: Yes --

O`DONNELL: They go to -- they go to schools, they want that photo app, that backdrop.

But the thing is so into me about it, Nina, is it`s a massive population in New York City.

TURNER: Oh, it`s a very important issue and I would hope that, senator, that they both would make the time.

But in terms of public policy and what needs to be done to help lift the people who live in those types of public housing, that is the most important thing.

But you`re absolutely right.

O`DONNELL: And also, Howard Dean, they`re not talking about public housing as an issue.

You hear about affordable housing, but that`s all -- that`s talk that includes a lot of people beyond the reach of public housing.

Rent subsidies, rent control, mortgage help, that sort of thing. There`s been zero talk about public housing.

DEAN: Right, and --

O`DONNELL: Which is a federal program.

DEAN: No, it isn`t a federal program and it needs to be reengineered. I think what -- and I think it is being reengineered city-by-city over the cities that usually once they`re doing, the Fed supplies the money.

I think what clearly has to happen in the `50s when the public`s housing projects were started, what we essentially did is ghettoize poor people.

TURNER: Yes --

DEAN: And what the new way of building public housing is, you have mixed income housing and it is much more successful.

And I think, you know, both are candidates, look, let`s just face it, both are candidates of Democrats and they care about these people --

O`DONNELL: I know --

DEAN: But --

O`DONNELL: That`s why I`m mystified.

DEAN: Well --

O`DONNELL: I know that part --

DEAN: Right --

TURNER: Yes --

DEAN: And so, I`ve got to say, you know, Bernie`s going to the Vatican which I think is probably -- I made that mistake when I was running, I went three days before the Iowa primary, I went to see Jimmy Carter.

Thinking -- so that --


DEAN: You know, but anyway, I`m not going to tell him how to run his schedule. It is a big chance for him to be on the international stage.

But you know, we`ve got five days to go here. And so, it would be great for -- I`m with Nina, it`d be great if they could both go and make a statement.

And I -- but I know what the pressure is. I know it -- and it`s not like either of these two is unwilling to help --

TURNER: Right --

DEAN: That population.

O`DONNELL: Right --

TURNER: Absolutely --

DEAN: And if this is where the Republicans, we`d have a lot more fun --

TURNER: Yes --

DEAN: Out there at their expense --

O`DONNELL: Nina, what`s the -- what`s the single most important point Bernie Sanders has to make in New York before Tuesday?

And please leave some time for Howard to answer the same question --


TURNER: I mean, you know, to continue to talk about income and wealth inequality, I mean, I`ve met several people --


TURNER: In this state, Lawrence, who are being priced out of living here. That is important to make sure that he continues to reaffirm for people that he`s been there all along.

The difference between consistency and convenience. And what I mean by that, he has been a consistent champion for all of these issues and he doesn`t switch just for political convenience.

O`DONNELL: What would you say to your candidate as the single most important closing argument --

DEAN: My argument is, she`s been here for eight years, they know what she`s doing and she gets things done.

I mean, it`s one thing to make statements about what`s important, it`s another thing to actually get stuff done.

TURNER: What if he does get things done?

DEAN: Well, name three things he`s been as senator --


O`DONNELL: You guys can do that during the commercial.



O`DONNELL: Nina Turner and Howard Dean, go ahead and keep talking. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Coming up, you`ll see what none of the presidential candidates have seen, New York City`s public housing, where more people live than the entire population of Vermont.


O`DONNELL: Tonight`s LAST WORD will go to former Black Panther Bobby Rush who has been a Chicago Congressman for over 20 years now.

And told Tamron Hall today about his most painful regret as a member of Congress. But first, here`s the way it looked today on the campaign trail.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What do you make of the campaign so far.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: It is kind of disgusting.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Have you decided who you are going to vote for.




CHUCK TODD, NBC HOST OF "MEET THE PRESS" PROGRAM: If you are Reince Priebus, I think he is between a rock and hard place.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: But, have you decided who you are not going to vote for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: I have. I am not going to vote for Mr. Donald Trump.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKERR: Donald Trump has a right to speak. He has the right to say whatever the hell he wants. He does not have a right to say that my people are worse than him.



DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He says build a wall. You are right, we are going to build a wall. Do not worry about it.



HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When the frontrunner for the republican nomination was asked who disavowed David Duke and other white supremacists supporting his campaign, he played coy.



TRUMP: Oh, Hillary. You are talking about Hillary. She is the most dishonest of all.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Donald Trump is extremely racist.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: There is no holding back when it comes to a New York voter and their opinion.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: We will see Ted Cruz for the first time rallying since Monday when he was out in California.



TRUMP: Lying Ted.



SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is easy to talk about making America great again.



TRUMP: Big liar.







UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Our NBC News cameras were rolling as Verizon workers on strike greeting and chanting Bernie Sanders` name as he joined their picket line.



SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is another major American corporation trying to destroy the lives of working Americans.




GOV. JOHN KASICH, (R-OH) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you know how hard it so to run for president?



O`DONNELL: New York City, America`s biggest city, America`s most important city, has a hidden city within the city. That hidden city is an important city too and it is hiding in plain sight. New Yorkers ride past the hidden city in their cars and buses and trains, but most of them never venture into the hidden city.

Most politicians ignore the hidden city too even though it is bigger than the entire city of Boston. Imagine candidates campaigning for votes in Massachusetts and ignoring the city of Boston. That is what the presidential candidates are doing in New York City right now.

They are ignoring the 700,000 people who live in federally funded public housing projects, the largest public housing population in America. And, so a tenant`s organization with the help of a couple of city council members have invited the presidential candidates to visit a public housing project while they are campaigning for president in New York.

And, so far none of the candidates have accepted that invitation, but I did. Here is some of what the candidates would see if they would put down those pizza slices and sandwiches they keep eating for the cameras and for once set foot in a public housing project.


RITCHIE TORRES, (D) NYC COUNCIL MEMBER, BRONX: We are here at Twin Parks West, which is one of 326 developments throughout New York City. A few months ago, we had a trespasser, unfortunately, rape someone in the elevator. So, we were able to secure funding from the city`s budget to invest in new intercoms.

It happened in the elevator and much of the crime that happens here in Twin Parks West and elsewhere in public housing is committed by trespassers, because the doors are broken or the intercom systems are unreliable.

So, we have no means of controlling who is entering or exiting the building. So, if you have a trespasser, who come into the building, go in the elevator and he raped the vice president of the tenant association. But we were -- the police were able to find him.

And, so, as a result I was able to secure some fundings from the city council to invest in new cameras, new doors, so this building will have a brand new door with a brand new intercom system by tomorrow morning.

O`DONNELL: Could you have gotten that funding if you did not have a horror story like a rape to present to the city council.

TORRES: Unfortunately, it is much easier to get funding when there is a tragedy.

O`DONNELL: If you had a presidential candidate here, what would you be showing the candidate?

TORRES: Just to see what federal abandonment looks like.

O`DONNELL: Uh-huh. So, that is the heating system for this room?


O`DONNELL: And it does not work?


TORRES: The New York City housing authority will come and plast over it and then tenant has to put in a ticket for a paint job and wait a few months. In fact, tenants almost always never get paint jobs because the New York City housing authority with the limited resources can only focus on the most essential needs.

And, so, you know, by law every landlord, including the New York City housing authority is supposed to paint an apartment every 3-1/2 years, but there are apartments that have gone decades without paint jobs.

O`DONNELL: Uh-huh.

TORRES: I think one of the greatest concerns that public housing residents have is the lack of lighting. I think more than anything else improving lighting can improve the sense of safety. We do not have the resources to install new lighting infrastructure. So, something we have done is to have temporary lighting over there.

O`DONNELL: Uh-huh. Those doors are where the community center is.


O`DONNELL: And, it is just closed.

TORRES: It is closed. Obviously, you see --

O`DONNELL: No funding for operating it?

TORRES: No, because of the capital need of the community center.

O`DONNELL: Is the playground locked also? You cannot get in there.


O`DONNELL: They do not let the kids in there at all.


O`DONNELL: So, their kids are sitting up in there in their apartments looking down at this and they are not allowed to use it at all.

TORRES: Yes. There is a lack of access to amenities because of the deterioration of the community center itself.

O`DONNELL: Why would not they at least just let the kids use this little playground if they cannot get into the rooms of the community center.

TORRES: It is due to safety concerns relating to the playground, itself. You know, if the child gets injured, they are just obviously liable. They do not have enough funding to meet the basic needs of public housing much less we have amenities like community centers or playgrounds.



O`DONNELL (voice-over): At another housing project in the Bronx, Ritchie Torres showed me another elevator that was the scene of the tragedy.



TORRES: So, here is elevator A. In, around Christmas day of 2015, you had a number of residents complained about the condition of the elevator. It was bouncing up and down. The elevated was raised above the landing here.

And, you had a senior citizen enter the elevator. It began bouncing up and down. He became startled and he wound up falling out of the elevator sustaining a head injury and three days later he died. And, there was a report by the department of investigations concluding that the defect, the malfunction of the elevator was directly tied to his death.

O`DONNELL (on camera): So, Ritchie, if you could get a presidential candidate in one of these apartments, what difference do you think it would make to that candidate after that candidate is back in the car leaving this housing project behind?

TORRES: The hope is that it will leave an impression, a lasting impression on the candidate, but also the larger world. I think wherever the presidential candidate goes, the world is watching and the world has an opportunity to see how the urban poor lives in public housing.

You know, it speaks to the message of inequality that is uniting many of the presidential candidates. And, public housing is ground zero for inequality. You know, the theme of the year is Black Lives Matter. We have hundreds of thousands of people. The majority of the people living in public housing are people of color.

And, those lives have been savagely abandoned and neglected at the hands of the federal government. And, so, if we are serious about valuing the lives of people of color, then we should be equally serious about investing in their homes and showing that the people who live in public housing do matter.



O`DONNELL (voice-over): Out of community center in the Bronx, City Councillor Brad Lander told me he has endorsed Hillary Clinton, but she still has not accepted his invitation to visit the housing project.



BRAD LANDER, (D) NYC COUNCIL MEMBER, BROOKLYN: During the mayor race in 2013, all of the democratic mayoral candidates came and actually spent the night. We did not ask the --

O`DONNELL: They had to do sleepovers.

LANDER: They had to do a sleepover. We did not ask the candidates to spend the night, just come visit, walk around, talk to residents. See the conditions. Meet with people and address the issues of public and affordable housing that people right here in this development, all over this city, all over the country are feeling.

Issues of public housing, issues of affordable housing are on people`s minds. There is really a crisis and yet we have not heard almost anything about it from any of the candidates.

O`DONNELL: What do you think the reluctance is to go a public housing project? Why would not the candidates and the campaign schedule that before anybody ask for it?

LANDER: Yes, that is a great question. It is the question we are asking is why we reached out?

O`DONNELL: Ritchie Torres, you are the youngest member of the city council.

TORRES: For now, yes.

O`DONNELL: For now. Yes. It is not going to last forever, you know. You grew up in public housing in the Bronx.

TORRES: I did.

O`DONNELL: Tell us about that.

TORRES: So, I grew up in a public housing development in the East Bronx, which is part of its own tale of two cities. It is very across the street from golf course. And, I grew up facing many of the same conditions that are facts of life in public housing. You know, never ending molds, leakage, which was a difficult thing as an asthmatic growing up in public housing.

Without the New York City housing authority, my mother, who raised two children on a low-wage job would have been in a homeless shelter. She would have been among the 60,000 individuals in our shelter system. And, so, I am indebted to public housing for giving me a fighting chance at a decent life and becoming the youngest member of the city council.

O`DONNELL: So, even with the struggles of growing up in public housing and the problems with the conditions of the housing and the maintenance, danger, safety issues, even with all that, you still felt grateful to be in a public housing unit.

TORRES: I would rather have a stable affordable home than be in homeless shelter in the streets. And, I would not be where I am today but for public housing.


O`DONNELL: When we come back, public housing tenants will tell us how they feel about being ignored by the presidential candidates.


O`DONNELL: Agnes Rivera is a resident of the Robert F. Wagner houses, public housing project in Harlem. And, she told me the story of another deadly elevator. It happened the night her friend in another apartment who had health problems suddenly started breathing heavily. An ambulance arrived and she was rolled on the elevator on the stretcher.


AGNES RIVERA, RESIDENT OF ROBERT F. WAGNER HOUSES: She went on the elevator and the dumb elevator broke with them in it. And, my kids came down and said, "Where are they?" And they started screaming through the hole. They said, "We are stuck on the second floor."

So, I do not know how they opened the door to get them out, and latch them out, but by the time we got to the hospital, it was too late. Those 10 minutes that they were in the elevator that broke down killed her.

O`DONNELL: How would it feel for you if the presidential candidates passed through this New York campaign and ignore your invitation to come and visit a housing project?

RIVERA: Well, I think that I would start looking at the individual that was asked to come in a different way, in a different prospect, because they want my vote, right? Well, I have seven votes in my house alone.


O`DONNELL: Charlene Nimmons told me that she thinks most people in politicians only hear the horror stories about public housing, but if they visited some of the housing projects they would learn something else.


CHARLENE NIMMONS, FMR. TENANT ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT, WYCKOFF HOUSES: How great the people are that live in public housing. We are just like everybody else. You are going to find people who care about their family. They care about their children`s education. They are concerned about, you know, just everything that everybody else is concerned about, meeting their every day needs.


O`DONNELL: Charlene Nimmons has this question for the presidential candidates.


NIMMONS: Do you feel that we are not important enough? We make just as much as a contribution to our every day life as anyone else. Why are we not important enough is my question to them.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, the honorable Ritchie Torres, New York City Council member for district 15 representing the Central Bronx. Ritchie, thank you very much for doing this.

TORRES: It is an honor to be here.

O`DONNELL: And, thank you for taking us on that tour of the situation in your district. I could sit here all night and talk about your life story growing up in the housing project as you did, now making it your central focus in city government now.

And, luckily they now have a real expert on the council about this. But, we need to talk about this situation with the candidates. You have been able to talk to Bernie Sanders about this at least. Tell us about that.

TORRES: I did. So, he held a rally in the South Bronx and I had an opportunity to meet with him. And, I told him the New York City housing authority -- is larger than the state of Vermont and it has been so savagely starved of federal funding that it has $17 billion worth of capital needs, that in order to replace all the systems and all the structures, all the roofs and all the bricks that desperately need repair you would need to invest $17 billion. And, when he heard that number he was taken aback. He said, "Is that billion with a B." And, I said, $17 Billion.

O`DONNELL: People who are not experienced in New York City government are stunned by the number --


O`DONNELL: -- the New York City Government.

TORRES: I mean, the New York City is the largest provider of affordable housing in the country, the largest provider of public housing in North America.


TORRES: If you were to take the 10 largest public housing authorities, New York City housing authority is larger than the rest of the nine combined. So, it is providing affordable housing to the poorest New Yorkers on a scale that is without equivalent anywhere in the country.

O`DONNELL: And, this is not temporary housing. Your mother is still in public housing because the market in New York is not be anyway a workable real estate market for anybody, who does not have a serious income.

Everyone else needs help through rent control, rent stabilization, and public housing. And, the idea that we will just -- someone will just do a year or two here and be able to afford something else. That is not true.

TORRES: I mean, the essence of public housing is that you are living in an apartment, that you can permanently afford.


TORRES: There is a certain peace of mind, a certain kind of stability that comes with living in public housing. It provides a constant in a world, in a city that has been larger shaped by justification and displacement.

O`DONNELL: You have never gotten to talk to Hillary Clinton about this.

TORRES: Never, no. If I did, I would be just as confrontational.

O`DONNELL: I mean, she is the senator from New York.


O`DONNELL: This is something she should care about. We could not find any public record today of her as a senator from New York visiting public housing. We are going to find out. Her campaign could not give us anything. Maybe tomorrow they will. I do not want to pre-judge the facts on that. But, it did not leap out and go searching for it. "Oh, yes, here are the times she visited." And, you are not a aware of her visiting, right?

TORRES: I have no knowledge of any of the candidates visiting public housing. But, you know, both Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton have been running on the platform of confronting inequality and public housing is ground zero for inequality. It is a powerful symbol of how deeply the federal government has abandoned the urban poor, not only New York City but throughout this country.

O`DONNELL: Well, not just the candidates have not been asked a single question about public housing. The phrase public housing has not come up in a single debate or in a single interview that any one of them have done.

TORRES: Right. And, so, you are giving public housing residents a level of visibility that frankly I have never seen from a national television show. And, you know, for me I take my inspiration from Jacob Riis, right? In the late 19th century, Jacob Riis published a visual documentary known as, "How The Other Half Lives?"

He took photos of the slum conditions in the tenements of New York City. And, those photos led to the housing reform movement of the 20th century. The presidential candidates have the opportunity to do the same now. And to really shine a harsh spotlight on how the urban poor lives in the wealthiest city in America.

O`DONNELL: Ritchie Torres, thank you --

TORRES: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: -- for enlightening me about what is going on out there in the projects. I really appreciate it.

TORRES: Thanks so much for having me.

O`DONNELL: I appreciate it. Coming up a congressman gets emotional and does something politicians just about never do, he apologized.


O`DONNELL: And, now for tonight`s "Last Word." Bobby Seale and Huey Newton founded the Black Panthers in Oakland, California in1966. Bobby Rush and Fred Hampton were founding members of the Chicago Black Ranch to the Black Panthers in 1968.

Bobby Rush is still alive today, probably because he decided to leave Fred Hampton`s apartment one day in 1969, shortly before Chicago police raided the apartment by shooting their way through the front door firing nearly 100 bullets through the door without knowing exactly who was on the other side.

Fred Hampton was shot to death. Fourteen years later, Bobby Rush was elected Alderman in Chicago. Nine years after that, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives where he still serves. This morning, he told Tamron Hall that his biggest regret as a member of congress was voting for the 1994 crime bill that President Clinton push through congress and signed into law.


REP. BOBBY RUSH, (D) ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN: Let me sign out with this. I am ashamed of my vote. I sincerely apologize to my God, apologize to my community, to my family. That was the worst vote as I look back over the years that I have taken since I have been in congress.

There was too much of a focus, too many resources on locking them up, but no resources on love and compassion. And, as a result, we have devastated our communities, devastated our families, devastated our futures.


O`DONNELL: Bobby Rush spoke with Tamron for several minutes about what he hopes can be done in terms of job creation and economic development in his community and he ended his comments with another reference to the crime bill of 1994.


RUSH: Again, I must repeat, not only am I apologizing for it, but I am ashamed of it. I am absolutely ashamed of it.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Bobby Rush gets tonight`s "Last Word." A programming note for tomorrow, please join us for a special edition of "The Last Word," inside the anti-Trump movement. Chris Hayes is up next.