Voters reject Trumpism in local elections Transcript 11/8/17 The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Maria Theresa Kumar, Neera Tanden, David Frum

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: November 8, 2017 Guest: Maria Theresa Kumar, Neera Tanden, David Frum

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel, and I just rushed over here from Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side where I was signing some books tonight for my new book.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Oh, good.

O`DONNELL: And you guess who was sitting in the front row.

MADDOW: I don`t know.

O`DONNELL: The famous Judy, who you have made famous --

MADDOW: The lady from the diner.

O`DONNELL: Judy from your diner. There she is. There`s the picture. There`s the full-screen picture of Judy from the diner at Barnes & Noble tonight. She had told you this wild idea she has about maybe I should run for president, and I told it that I would very, very happily accept the vice presidential nomination on the Maddow/O`Donnell ticket.

MADDOW: Oh, I thought you were going to say, in the Judy and O`Donnell ticket.

O`DONNELL: Oh, that Maddow/O`Donnell ticket. I really liked that vice presidential job, I really like that, you know?

MADDOW: Judy has very good taste in diners and she has very good taste in late night hosts, late night hosts. And I know I think she knows who ought to run for president, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And Judy Skillman (ph) now New York`s most famous political strategist.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW: Well-done, my friend. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Well, Republicans woke up this morning clinging to the wreckage of Trumpism. And now, Republicans cannot honestly see any success in their future that involves Donald Trump. But they`re still trying to pretend that there is a future with Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: What happened last night all across the country is tardiness.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: You could smell a wave coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a coalition of the decent in this country that rose up yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rejection of Donald Trump`s fear and divisiveness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The margins of these victories, the turnout, the energy, are astonishing.

REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: I think it`s important for Republicans to self-reflect.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bing, bing, bang, bang.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It doesn`t change my reading of the current moment. I think it simply means we get to deliver.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What last night signaled was if you keep going on this the path, you will be annihilated.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: This was a big deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And really gratifying that our democracy still works.

REPORTER: Are you worried about next year?

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: No, I like a good fight.

SCHUMER: Our Republican friends better look out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Last night, we saw democracy in action. Last year, we saw the Electoral College in action. The Electoral College is not democracy. Last night, the candidates with the most votes won their elections. That is democracy.

And the best way to win elections last night was to have nothing to do with Donald Trump, nothing. And last night, even the word Republican beside your name in many cases meant that voters decided that you were too close to Donald Trump just by being in the same party with him.

And so, Republicans in Washington today are privately panicked while publicly pretending not to be panicked, as they watch control of the Virginia House hang in the balance while they await the final count of votes in four districts that could flip control of the House to Democrats, and that is Paul Ryan`s exact nightmare scenario one year from now, with the United States House Representatives.

The message to Washington Republicans last night is that they are on their way to a restoration of the Nancy Pelosi speakership or desperately clinging to an even thinner majority than they have now, maybe a majority of just one or two seats in the House when the dust clears next year.

Republican strategist Mike Murphy said today: The canary in the coal mine didn`t just pass out. Its head exploded and its head exploded because of the head exploder in chief Donald Trump.

This election was a direct and very personal rebuke of Donald Trump and, of course, Donald Trump tried to pretend the opposite tweeting that Ed Gillespie lost because, quote, he did not embrace me or what I stand for.

Did not embrace me, OK. Well, President Trump sure embraced him.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TRUMP: Like me, Ed is tough on crime and on the border. Ed will protect your family from crime, drugs and violence, something Northam will never do, and Ed loves the vets, loves the military and loves your Second Amendment.

With your help, Ed Gillespie will help make America great again, a phrase that I like a lot. Vote for Ed Gillespie.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Like me, Ed is tough on crime and on the border. "Like me", those are the worst two words Donald Trump could have said about Ed Gillespie, like me.

And on Sunday, just two days before the Trump Republican white wipeout at the polls, Steve Bannon was telling anyone who still listens to him just how much Ed Gillespie really embraced Donald Trump and how smart Ed Gillespie was to embrace Donald Trump.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: He`s really embraced the confident and here in the last four weeks and "The Washington Post" is reporting tonight, he may be up one or two points. If you look in Virginia, you see the grassroots have fired up. They`re coming out now to embrace the Trump agenda and, you know, as Gillespie has now articulated it, because if the grassroots show up, we win.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Yes, the grassroots showed up, you lost. Donald Trump lost and Steve Bannon lost and Steve Bannon proved to anyone in Republican politics who still wasn`t sure what a complete and total loser Steve Bannon really is, that that`s all he knows how to do.

Exit polls show that Virginia voters rejected the Trump/Bannon poison. Fifty-seven percent of Virginia voters said they disapprove of the way the president is handling his job with 40 percent disapproving strongly. Only 17 percent of voters said the reason they cast a ballot was to support Trump twice as many percent, 34 percent. They turned out specifically to oppose Donald Trump.

President Trump`s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act also played a role in Ed Gillespie`s defeat, nearly 40 percent of voters said that health care was the most important issue for them. And those voters broke for Democrat candidate Ralph Northam by a three-to-one margin over Ed Gillespie. Today, Virginia Republican Congressman Scott Taylor from Virginia Beach blamed Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYLOR: I think it was a referendum on the division and the divisive rhetoric that`s in the country right now. I think it`s important for Republicans to self-reflect all the way, start from the top, all the way down. I do think it was a referendum on that national politics.

REPORTER: Was it a referendum on Donald Trump?

TAYLOR: I do believe so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A CNN poll shows how bad things look for Republicans in next year`s congressional elections. Fifty-one percent of Americans say it`s bad for the country that Republicans currently control Congress. Thirty- eight percent say it`s good.

When asked which party they would choose in a generic congressional race, Democrats are preferred 50 percent to 38 percent over Republicans.

Now, I`m about to show you what Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had to say today. But remember, before you watch it, he is a politician and remember that Paul Ryan had exactly one job in his public comments today -- to try to prevent the outbreak of public panic among professional Republicans.

Paul Ryan knows that there`s a wave out there. Paul Ryan knows that the wave is headed for him, and that the wave can wipe out not just his speakership but it can actually knock him out of his congressional seat. He would not be the first speaker of the House who lost his own re-election in his home district, in a wave election.

The last time that happened, no one even saw that wave coming that last time.

In 1994, when the Democratic Speaker of the House Tom Foley was defeated in his own reelection campaign in his home district and the Democrats lost the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years, it was the most shocking wave election of my lifetime, or Paul Ryan`s lifetime, and no one saw it coming, not one person, not one pundit predicted that the Republicans were going to win the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years and that they were going to win back the Senate at the very same time. No one predicted any of that.

But here we are a year out and Paul Ryan is looking over his shoulder and he can see the wave coming very clearly because the polls are telling him it`s coming, and the voters last night told him the wave is coming.

And now, listen to Paul Ryan trying to convince Fox News Radio and the Republican members of the House of Representatives that there`s nothing to worry about, because we`re with Trump.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RADIO HOST: Do you have to make a choice as Republicans, either you`re going to side with President Bush in his policies, 43, of more free trade and maybe some type of immigration compromise, or do you have to go with Donald Trump? Is it going to be a choice for Republicans, Bush or Trump?

RYAN: We already made that choice. We`re with Trump. We already made that choice. That`s the choice we made at the beginning of the year. That`s a choice we made during the campaign, which is we merged our agendas.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We`re with Trump. That used to get you into some sleazy nightclubs in New York if it was at least half true, but we`re with Trump. If you were with Trump last night, you don`t have a job, you don`t have an elective office job anymore.

Paul Ryan`s Republican House members know better. None of them are going to risk their careers for Donald Trump. It`s every man and woman for themselves in the Republican House of Representatives now and they know it, and some well some will be best served in their reelection campaigns by sticking close to Donald Trump, but the others -- the others who can only get reelected by rejecting Trump will reject Trump. And the ones who aren`t sure which way to go, watch them. Republican House Members who have some doubt about whether to stick with Trump or strike out on their own and convince their constituents they`re not Trump puppets, watch them because if there`s any doubt at all with those members, after last night, which way do you think they`re going to go?

If there`s any doubt at all, the only safe direction for Republican House members is as far away from Donald Trump as they can get, which puts the Trump/Ryan/McConnell tax cuts bill in even more danger than it was before last night -- we`re with Trump. Yes, sure you`re with Trump, until you`re not.

Joining us now, John Heilemann, national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. Also with us, David Frum, senior editor for "The Atlantic". And Stuart Stevens, columnist for "The Daily Beast", Republican strategist and senior strategist for Mitt Romney`s 2012 presidential run.

And, Stuart, I`m going to go to you as the senior Republican strategist here you`re a Republican strategist looking to 2018, you wake up this morning and you think what?

STUART STEVENS, FORMER STRATEGIST, ROMNEY FOR PRESIDENT: Well, listen, I think some interesting stuff happened last night that kind of enough. I`m a little conflicted here because I love Ed Gillespie like a brother, and I just think the campaign didn`t really give him a chance to show who he really is, which happens more often than not in campaigns.

But remarkably, the lieutenant governor and the attorney general who didn`t embrace this sort of cultural war on the Republican side, the top of the ticket did, over-performed. He had a very unusual situation where the female lieutenant governor actually led the ticket and got more votes than the top of the ticket.

I think there`s probably a message in that. They still lost and -- but it still -- they did a lot better where there was a drop-off on the Democratic side between the governor and lieutenant governor, there`s an increase on the Republican side, and in the attorney general`s race.

So, I think just if you just look at it in a poli-sci sense, there`s a little test and a less divisive, less cultural war message did better last night.

O`DONNELL: And, John Heilemann you have it. It`s right there. But, of course, Republicans are going to try to deny it as much as they can publicly.

JOHN HEILEMANN, NBC NEWS & MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It`s overwhelming.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

HEILEMANN: And -- I mean, you know, you`ve -- we`ve been talking about it all day on every, every show. You know, you think it`s not just Virginia, it`s every place, it`s just across --

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: New Jersey, the ballot measures in Maine.

HEILEMANN: In Mane, and all the way, stretching all the way to the West Coast.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

HEILEMANN: In Washington state.

You know, it`s a wave and, you know, Stuart is close to Haley Barbour, who`s one of my favorite aphorism spinners in the Republican Party. Haley likes to say, in politics, good gets better and bad gets worst.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

HEILEMANN: Last night was pretty bad and the momentum now coming out of this, you got a couple of very concrete things that are going to happen. A lot of Republicans in the House of Representatives right now, there`s at least a couple dozen that I know of who are thinking about retiring before last night. A lot of those people are -- two of them announced last night that they`re retiring.

There will be more. Those retirements will open up vulnerable, will open up seats the Democrats will very much be in play. You`re also going to have -- the Democratic Party now, Tom Perez was on the on the hook here. You know, this was the first big test for the new DNC, for the new organizing model, for investing in these down ticket races.

Big huge win for him, that`s going to reinforce money that`s going to flow into the Democratic Party. Candidate recruitment that`s going to get better for the Democrats who were to find better people because they think it`s possible to win these races.

Good gets better, bad gets worse, and I think, you know, Paul Ryan -- that was one of most unconvincing things I`ve ever heard a politician say in my recent memory. I think that any Republican right now who doesn`t recognize that they are on the wrong side of momentum, and that to the extent that Donald Trump is anything, he`s a giant albatross around the party`s neck right now.

It`s not, anything is -- nothing`s guaranteed in politics, but, man, you -- there`s no doubt which party`s hands you would rather play heading into the elections in 2018.

O`DONNELL: David Frum, your reading of the election results last night.

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I think, Lawrence, your reading of the intensity is prophetic. It`s true. It`s right. But there`s more to the story.

One risks under estimating how intense the struggle for power is going to be, and I think that there are people who woke up in the Trump White House this morning and said, we have to get more serious about voter suppression. Probably, we can`t win this thing in a fair fight but that doesn`t mean we`re going to be content to lose.

One of the things that was a background fact in the result in Virginia was that felons had regained the right to vote in Virginia. That was the top item on Rush Limbaugh`s monologue today, that because people who had been pardoned from their crimes were voting, that the result was somehow illegitimate. You`re going to hear a lot about that.

And what -- it is very hard, I know this world well. One of the things that is deeply -- a deep conviction of the conservative world is they speak for the people. When they get evidence of -- that they don`t, they don`t respond to that by saying -- by confessing it. They respond to it by redefining who the people are.

And one of the big themes of the year ahead is going to be a redefinition of who does and who doesn`t belong to the American people.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at the NBC exit poll of Virginia by party ID, and you had a Democrat on the turnout was 41 percent Democrat, it was 30 percent Republican, independent, 28 percent.

And, Stuart, does that tell us something about the energy and the parties?

STEVENS: Sure. There`s more energy on the Democratic side and Republican side.

There`s one other thing that happened last night that I think we ought to take a look at and that is that women did very well. Like in Pennsylvania, there are bunch of judicial races and in every race, a woman won the race, even the Republican district attorney candidate who lost in Philadelphia did better I think like two and a half times, and the last time a male ran.

I think there`s something to this, that there`s an energy with women. I`m not sure if it`s just a result of -- a reaction to Donald Trump presidency, or if it`s part of maybe this sort of awakening of the me-to movement. But I think it bodes very well for women in 2018.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to talk more about that actually in the next segment. But listen to what "The Washington Post" said today about the 2018 outlook for Republicans.

All told, Republicans can only afford to lose 23 seats in the House next year and retain the majority. But Democrats already have their eyes on dozens of suburban GOP seats that are competitive in presidential or other statewide races. It just so happens that 23 Republicans like Comstock sits in seats that Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in last year, as well as another 13 that previously backed Barack Obama in his presidential races.

And, John Heilemann, those are exactly the districts you target if you`re the Democrats and you`re trying to take control.

HEILEMANN: Right, and you look at again, you look at -- Virginia is a very good example of this. What we saw was Ed Gillespie trying to give you basically repeat Trump level numbers in the south and the west and the rural parts of Virginia. He basically did that.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

HEILEMANN: But he just got swamped in the northern Virginia suburbs and the best we example of that has been discussed by some is Loudoun County, which is a collar county, an exurban county in northern Virginia, that he won three years ago.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

HEILEMANN: Ed Gillespie won when he ran for the Senate three years ago and he got beat by double digits yesterday. You look at the overall raw vote up -- I believe 13 percent in New Jersey -- in Virginia over the last midterm election, their last off-year election in 2013, you were looking right at northern Virginia.

And there -- that is a -- there`s other districts just like that in Pennsylvania, in Ohio, and across the industrial Midwest, in the Mountain West, all over the place, more even than the number that "The Washington Post" is pointing to there. There`s got to be like or of those districts around that are going to be prime battlegrounds that again Democrats not yet, but remotely guaranteed to win, but they are now in the absolutely in the strike zone for Democrats, again with this Trump drag on the Republican ticket.

O`DONNELL: I was watching Steve Kornacki yesterday before the steak was called, before Virginia was called. And when he pointed to what was happening in Loudoun County --

HEILEMANN: Right.

O`DONNELL: -- he was almost jumping up and down, because as you mentioned, it was -- it was stunning to him and I think Steve knew. He told me later that he knew as soon as he saw that, that this was over. He didn`t have to wait for the official call.

We`re going to have to break it there. Stuart Stevens and John Heilemann, thank you for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

David, please stick around.

Coming up: women were a big part, as the Stuart said, a big part of the wins last night for Democrats. You will meet one of them, Ashley Bennett. She challenged a local Republican for his seat after he mocked the women`s march.

Ashley Bennett went after that seat and took it away from him to punish him for mocking the biggest inauguration protest in history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Last night, we saw was enough, enough, right? And decent people -- and this was a mix of Democrats and independents and Republicans, it was a coalition of the decent in this country that rose up yesterday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Women have been leading that coalition of the decent since the day after the inauguration when the women`s march became the largest inauguration protest in history, and it was the first worldwide inauguration protest in history.

Here is what women were rising up against yesterday -- a first year president with the worst disapproval rating in the history of polling, the disapproval he began earning with women before he was president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When you`re a star, they let you do it. You could do anything.

BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Fifty-five percent of women in New Jersey voted for a Democrat Phil Murphy who was running against Chris Christie`s lieutenant governor, a woman, Kim Guadagno.

In Virginia, governor -- the Virginia governor`s race, Democrat Ralph Northam won the women`s vote 61-39. That`s a 22-point spread, better than Hillary Clinton`s win with women voters in Virginia in 2016, better than Senator Mark Warner`s win in 2014. Terry McAuliffe`s gubernatorial win in 2013, and even better than President Obama`s win in 2012.

Joining us now, Maria Teresa Kumar, the president and CEO of Voto Latino and MSNBC contributor, and Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress.

And, Neera, you look at these numbers tonight and you see this, that women simply decided this was their night they were going to take over these races as voters.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You know they their women really turned out. There are a lot of women candidates who ran and there are a lot of women candidates who won. And -- but it was really fueled by a diverse coalition of white college-educated women, women of color -- you know, women of all stripes really decided enough was enough. They started -- they believed enough was enough at the beginning of this administration with the women`s march, and if you thought it`s enough is enough throughout this.

I would also say that health care turned out to be the decisive issue in Virginia. Women have led the resistance to the health care bill and have been the ones making calls to Congress, fighting members of Congress on it. Ralph Northam was a pediatrician but also ran on a Medicaid expansion.

So, I think it`s both the issues and the fact that, you know, women we`re basically saying, Donald Trump is as a threat to our children into our future and we`re going to do everything we can to stop him.

O`DONNELL: I`m just going to quickly recite a small sample of women of election winners last night.

Jenny Durkan won the race for mayor in Seattle. She will become the city`s first woman mayor in 89 years. She`ll also be the city`s first openly lesbian mayor.

Vi Lyles is the first African-American woman mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Elizabeth Guzman, first elected and Hala Ayala, the first Latinas to become Virginia delegates. They both beat out incumbent Republican white men, replacing them.

Kathy Tran, Asian-American woman delegate in Virginia beating a Republican woman for an open seat.

Democrat Joyce Craig became the first woman mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire. That`s a New Hampshire`s largest city.

And, Maria Teresa, as you know, that`s the tip of the iceberg.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. We also have for the very first time, we had a Sudanese refugee elected to a local city council. The list goes on.

But I thought what was most telling yesterday of the results was that, one, we finally have a diversified demographic of America really representing the map of what America is -- that looks like. And people came out bold and they came out and they voted others put themselves out there.

But I also think that what this is interesting and this is where the Republicans should really, you know, be concerned, is that we saw a surge of women from the suburbs come in under the fold of the Democratic Party. That`s been rare. The soccer-mom has usually historically been more independent, more Republican. That wasn`t the case last night.

This is not just a wave. This is a tsunami heading their way, and they have to change course,

O`DONNELL: Neera, what can the Republicans do in the face of this? This seems like a very personal, very energetic rejection of Donald Trump.

TANDEN: Well, I think the first thing they could do is stop you know basically joining him at the hip. I mean, remember, Chris Gillespie ran very divisive, very racialized campaign. You know what I was really heartened by and Maria`s raises this is that there was a surge of Latino votes in response to the -- you know MS-13 ads, the sort of anti-immigrant ads that we saw from him and Gillespie who just a few years ago said he was for immigration reform.

And so, I think he made himself -- I mean basically Trumpian politics was on the ballot and it lost. And the first thing Republicans can do is to distance themselves from Donald Trump`s agenda, and Donald Trump himself. And the fact that Paul Ryan today is joining himself even more closely, if I were a Republican from the suburbs who is facing the wrath of women voters in 2018, I would say that speaker is not representing me.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, go ahead.

KUMAR: One of the things that I touched upon I think is very true is that we saw 113 percent increase by the Latino vote from the 2013 election this past midterm, and all that tells me is that, Lawrence, this for them is personal. They are basically putting a stake in the sand, saying, stop going after our families, you`re being unfair, you`re being racist, and you`re actually jeopardizing our safety in our communities. So, we`re going to go out and vote.

And I can share with you that I`ve been crisscrossing the country, I`ve clocked in a hundred and forty seven thousand miles this year. It`s been bananas, but I can tell you that in those conversations, whether it`s Omaha, Nebraska, whether it`s Midland in California, every single Latino communities having the same conversation, how do we stop this?

O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar and Neera Tanden, thank you both for joining us tonight.

KUMAR: Thank you.

TANDEN: Thanks for having us.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, we`ll be joined by Ashley Bennett. She is a new jersey now politician who was not a politician who was offended by a New Jersey Republican who insulted the women`s march. Ashley Bennett took that personally and decided to run against that politician. And now that politician`s out of a job and Ashley Bennett has his job. she will join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DONNELL: Last night there were some amazing movies written in the election results. Movies that would be hard to believe until last night. Ashley Bennett wrote one of those movies for herself. And she will join us later to tell that story.

In Virginia, voters chose Danica Roem,they first Transgender State Legislator over a Republican who had been calling himself the State`s Chief Homophobe. Now that was a movie pitch that would be hard to believe that`s it`s just too perfect before last night. Danica Roem then joined us on this program last night and she refused to say a negative word about her opponent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANICA ROEM, POLITICIAN: Starting next year, Delegate Marshal will be a constituent and I`m not going to attack my constituents. if there`s a lesson coming out of the race this year It`s that attacking your constituents singling them out, stigmatizing them and trying to make people feel bad about themselves, that`s not our Virginia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DONNELL: And another only in the movies outcome, Virginia voters chose Chris Hearst, a former local TV Anchor who quit his job and became a gun safety advocate after his girlfriend Alison Parker was shot and killed on live television as she was doing a report. Last Night, he won a seat in the House of Delegates over an opponent who had an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association. Here`s what he said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HEARST, POLITICIAN: I wish that I was still with Alison, was still a journalist working at the television station that we worked at together. But that wasn`t the plan that God had intended for me and for her. And so, I sought about trying to forge a new path and create a new plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DONNELL: In Helena, Montana, voters elected a refugee from Liberia, Democrat Wilmot Collinsas a first African-American Mayor. In New Jersey, voters replaced Republican Freeholder John Carman who got national attention in January when he posted this on Facebook. Will the woman`s protest be over in time for them to cook dinner? John Carman then said this when asked to apologize.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN CARMAN, POLITICIAN: Women who are sure of themselves, they didn`t get offended by this. If it hurts your feelings, it wasn`t posted with any malice. It`s not an issue.

ASHLEY BENNETT, POLITICIAN: OK. WE`RE LEAVING.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DONNELL: Ashley Bennett was one of the women who walked out of the meeting in protest. She decided to run against John Carman for Atlantic County Freeholder and last night she beat him. Ashley Bennett drove Republican John Carman out of office because he insulted her and the millions of Americans who joined the Women`s March all over the country. And Joining us now for exclusive interview is Ashley Bennett. Ashley, tell us about that moment when you decided to do this.

BENNETT: Hi, Lawrence. Thank you so much for having me. Well, that moment was just a moment of pure shock. I just couldn`t believe that in 2017 we were actually seeing this. And I went to the freeholder meeting after writing him a letter. I didn`t get a response and I waited to see what kind of response he was going to give and as you just showed in the clip that was the response.

And I took off of work. I used vacation time to go to that meeting and i felt like it was a waste. And so I walked out. And for all the people who felt like their voice wasn`t heard, I said I`ll run and be your voice.

DONNELL: Did it you say it that day walking out of the meeting, I will run?

BENNETT: I went home and I said to my family how upset I was and they said, why don`t you run? And I said, well, I will run.

DONNELL: And how did you find the time to do that, to mount a campaign? Not an easy thing to do, holding down your own job and other responsibilities. How did you change your life to do that?

BENNETT: Sure. It was not an easy balance by any stretch but I had a lot of support. I had support from friends and family members and my co-workers and my supervisors. Everyone was excited.

And they really just pitched in to try to help me where they could, whether it was switching shifts, whether it was I`ll stay late so you can come in late or I`ll stay later for you to leave early to be somewhere. It was just -- it`s not just me. It was a movement of people. And I`m just really thankful.

DONNELL: And have you spoken to John Carman since the election last night?

BENNETT: I have not. And I understand. That`s fine. I did see a post on Facebook and at this point the voters have spoken and I haven`t spoken to him but I understand. So I`m just happy to have the support of all the voters who came out in this election. It means so much to me and so humbled and grateful to be able run in the community where I`m born and raised and went to high school. It means everything to me.

DONNELL: Ashley Bennett, you are what American democracy is supposed to be all about. Thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

BENNETT: Thank you so much. And thank you to everyone who came out.

DONNELL: Thanks, Ashley. Coming up, guess who has the perfect advice for Republicans if they want to keep losing elections.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DONNELL: Here is what Lindsey Graham, Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham, had to say about last night`s election results. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINDSEY GRAHAM, REPUBLICAN SENATOR: Our problem is our base is pretty unenthusiastic. We`ve done some things, enforce in regulatory reform. But legislatively we haven`t cut taxes and we hadn`t reformed health care And I think that showed up last night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DONNELL: So that is Lindsey Graham saying legislatively we haven`t yet done the things that the public does not want us to do and if we just do those things that voters don`t want us to do then we`ll be in better shape. Lindsay Graham doesn`t mean a word he`s saying. That`s just the gibberish that Republicans like Lindsey Graham say publicly after a night when they know they got wiped out.

But if you want -- if you want to get the feeling that Lindsey Graham was making sense all you have to do is listen to Steve Bannon because that is a brain out of control, a brain that makes absolutely no sense. You`re going to hear Steve Bannon say something about how Nancy Pelosi would like to impeach President Trump and use the idea of Nancy Pelosi and Democrats impeaching President Trump as a reason to vote for and preserve the Republican Majority in the House of Representatives. But in the middle of it he goes on this insane rant about Paul Ryan.

It`s Bannon talking. You have to listen to him say it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FMR. WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Impeach the President of the United States. That`s all Nancy Pelosi lives for. She knows Ryan`s going to play right into her hands. That he`s going to try to force amnesty down the throats of the Republican Party and the voters of the Republican Party.

And break the back of the grassroots and enthusiasm for `18 and we lose those seats. And after they swear themselves in January `19, what will they do? What`s the first action to take against Donald J. Trump? It`s going to payback for all of this, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DONNELL: The incoherent madman says that Paul Ryan is going to force amnesty down the throats of Republicans in the House of Representatives. that Is, of course, not going to happen. A new NBC News, Wall Street Journal poll shows Donald Trump has a negative approval rating in some very, very important counties. The county that is basically gave him the presidency.

These are counties that went for Barack Obama in 2012. On average, 50 percent of the voters in those counties now disapprove of the President while 48 percent still approve. And so tonight, with numbers like that on an election held tonight Donald Trump probably would not win those counties, probably would not win the Electoral College. When we come back, what the Republicans are really telling themselves privately about this because everything you`re hearing them say publicly is just a lie about what happened yesterday.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re trying to say last night was a referendum on Donald Trump. True or false?

BANNON: Well, it`s definitely false. I think what we had was an establishment candidate, Ed Gillespie won a very hard fought primary versus Corey Stewart and then didn`t really try to embrace President Trump or the Trump Program until very late we just kind of basically talked about some of the issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DONNELL: OK, Steve Bannon says that Ed Gillespie really didn`t try to embrace President Trump or really the Trump Program. He says that tonight, Wednesday night. Listen to what Steve Bannon said about Ed Gillespie on Sunday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BANNON: he`s really embraced the Trump Agenda here in the last four weeks and the Washington Post reporting night he may be up one or two points.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DONNELL: And David Frum is back with us. David, these people who listen to Steve Bannon, they must have extremely limited attention spans to listen to him tonight saying Gillespie didn`t really embrace the trump agenda, Sunday night saying Gillespie embraced the Trump agenda.

DAVID FRUM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Look Steve Bannon doesn`t use words the way you do, Lawrence. You use words to describe an external reality from minute to minute. Steve Bannon uses words to conjure feelings, to elicit reactions.

So there is stability there. It`s not an intellectual stability. It`s an emotional stability. And the emotional stability is to rev people up. He`s sort of right that there is an uneasy coalition between the Gillespie`s and the Ryan`s of the world on the one hand and the Donald Trumps of the other. It`s never happy.

They don`t trust or like each other. He`s right about that. And he`s also right that sometimes they work together and sometimes they don`t.

DONNELL: But I still with that don`t understand how anyone can take Steve Bannon seriously. I mean this is just a hustler out there trying to raise money for his ventures, a hustler who will say you know Ed Gillespie and embraced Donald Trump say that on Sunday night. And on Wednesday say Ed Gillespie did not embrace Donald Trump. what kind of fools listen to a liar like this?

FRUM: But he`s not exactly a liar because a liar - to be liar you have to - - even for a liar the words have meaning. Think of it as music. He`s a musician.

These are tones of grievance and anger. And it`s important to understand because we`re going to hear more of this in the year ahead. But the cold eyed people, the realist, the Paul Ryan`s and the Ed Gillespie too will say the smart play for the Republicans in the next 12 months is to pass the tax cut, make it as top loaded as you can, and even if you lose the House the President`s Veto can defend the tax cuts against the Democrats.

And as 2021 and anything can happen. But that`s not the way Steve Bannon thinks. He doesn`t care about tax rates one way or the other. But he cares about is mobilizing rage. He`s a nihilistic spirit of destruction. And he`s not left or right. He`s just - he comes from a dark place.

DONNELL: Nihilistic Spirit Of Destruction. I am writing that one down. David Frum thanks for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

FRUM: Thank you.

DONNELL: Tonight`s Last Word is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DONNELL: Monday night Stephen Colbert invited be back to his show to talk the news of the day and my new book, Playing with Fire, which you should think of as a mini series of the most dramatic and chaotic Presidential Race in our history. It had shocking upsets at the polls during the primaries.

The incumbent President suddenly quitting his re-election campaign when he was favored to win, two tragic assassination, first Martin Luther King, Jr. and then Bobby Kennedy, and in the end collusion with a foreign government while we were at war to win the presidency, collusion that President Johnson secretly called treason when he discovered it.

I tried to give the book all of the dramatic pacing and suspense of a good movie. And there`s nothing an author appreciates more than a close and attentive reading of the book. And so imagine my joy when Stephen Colbert began our discussion of the book with the book`s very first sentence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT: Now, you say in the first sentence, you talk about Roger Ailes meeting Richard Nixon back in `68. Why start there?

DONNELL: Because roger Ailes met Richard Nixon at a show like this, the Mike Douglas Show that Ailes was a producer of. He met Nixon in the make-up chair when Richard Nixon was beginning his Presidential Campaign. Nixon loves this guy, Ailes who seems to know all about TV, pulls him into his campaign, takes him out of show business into politics.

Roger Ailes then changes completely the way TV Campaigns are run, gets Nixon elected, goes onto help Reagan elected and George H.W. Bush elected and then creates Fox News. If Richard Nixon had not met Roger Ailes in that Mike Douglas make-up chair we don`t know who the President of the United States would be today, because Roger Ailes created this amazingly effective Republican Television Network called Fox News, which supported Trump all the way. And without that, I don`t believe Donald Trump would have made the Electoral College outcome go his way.

COLBERT: And then there`s other sentences after that.

DONNELL: there are. There`s a lot. There`s a lot.

COLBERT: Playing with Fire is out now. The Lawrence O`Donnell everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DONNELL: And then there`s other sentences after that. Stephen Colbert gets tonight`s Last Word. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams is next.

END

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