Discussion of Beto vs. Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 2/12/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Heidi Heitkamp, Adam Jentleson, Ron Klain, Mara Gay

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. 

And when is the last time you saw a politician do something, that that politician knew would hurt reelection? 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Knowingly did it? 

O`DONNELL:  Yes. 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

O`DONNELL:  OK, I`m going to remind you.  It was Heidi Heitkamp. 

MADDOW:  Hmm. 

O`DONNELL:  Senator from North Dakota, Democrat, when she voted against Brett Kavanaugh`s confirmation knowing that that would hurt her reelection.  She cast that vote and she lost her reelection.  She`s my first guest tonight --

MADDOW:  Nice. 

O`DONNELL:  -- to talk about what we`re seeing in this shutdown. 

Rachel, I know you were working last night when Donald Trump was speaking in El Paso.  So you probably didn`t listen to every word, or any word, that Donald Trump actually said between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. 

MADDOW:  No.  Zero. 

O`DONNELL:  So here`s what you missed.  Donald Trump said last night, "I`m guilty."  Those words exactly.  Those words exactly.  And Rachel, he said it twice.  He said it twice, OK?

So, here is what I recommend.  That`s going to be at the end of the show tonight, you`re going to see it.  So, go home right now. 

MADDOW:  OK. 

O`DONNELL:  Get that hot chocolate.  Crawl into bed like I know you always do.  Turn on THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, and you will hear Donald Trump say, "I`m guilty" twice before you go to bed tonight. 

MADDOW:  Promise me.  Promise me. 

O`DONNELL:  You got it. 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

Well, as Rachel said, President Trump is not happy.  Not happy that a bipartisan congressional conference committee has decided there will be no money for a Trump wall in their new deal to fund the government. 

And we are lucky, as I said to Rachel, to have tonight as our first guest discussing this deal a former senator from a border state -- a border state in the middle of the longest international border in the world, which is of course the Canadian border, the virtually unprotected, undefended Canadian border.  No Democratic senator had a more difficult political decision to make in the confirmation vote of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year.  Heidi Heitkamp voted no on that nomination and then lost her reelection in North Dakota. 

Heidi Heitkamp has been a member of congressional conference committees, the kind of committee that negotiated this very deal.  She knows what she is seeing in this process and in this deal.  We will also be joined later by former Senate staffer Adam Jentleson who has experience working with Senate and House Conference Committees just like this. 

We`ll also be joined by former conservative commentator Charlie Sykes.  He will join us with the Republican perspective on this deal.  The title of Charlie`s book is "How the Right Lost Its Mind," but it seems tonight the right in Congress, congressional Republicans, have found their way to sanity in reaching an agreement with Democrats to keep the government funded and completely abandon the Trump version of a wall. 

The only truly vocal opponents of this deal are in right wing media where they all agree this is a crushing defeat for President Trump.  Even the relatively vague outlines of the deal last night crushed Sean Hannity. 

Last December, before the shutdown, President Trump was demanding $5.7 billion in initial funding for his wall.  The conference committee agreed to zero funding for a Trump wall, and only $1.4 billion for other forms of border barriers including fencing.  Only the kind of fencing that already exists on the border.  And that can only cover a maximum of 55 miles of the 2,000-mile southern border.  That would cover almost 2.5 percent of the southern border. 

Toward the end of the 35-day Trump shutdown, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell told the White House that Republican senators were on the verge of revolt and there would be over 70 votes in the Senate to pass a government funding bill and override a Trump veto if necessary.  And that is when Donald Trump surrendered, completely surrendered.  Surrendered to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats and ended the Trump shutdown. 

And today, after another round in which the president got nothing for his wall, Mitch McConnell told the president publicly and no doubt privately that the president has no choice. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER:  It`s not everything the president hoped to get.  But I think it`s a good step in the right direction.  I hope he`ll decide to sign it.  We`re all quite interested in that, as you can imagine. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Other Republican senators echoed Mitch McConnell. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE:  My hope is that the president will sign the bill into law. 

SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), GEORGIA:  I hope we get this behind us, we don`t shut down again.  Shutdowns never work for anything and this one reaffirmed my belief that shutdowns are bad, period. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  President Trump said he`s not happy but everything else he said indicates that he knows he has no choice. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUM:  Am I happy at first glance?  I just got to see it.  The answer is no, I`m not.  I`m not happy.  But am I happy with where we`re going?  I`m thrilled, because we`re supplementing things and moving things around and we`re doing things that are fantastic and taking from far less -- really from far less important areas. 

And the bottom line is we`re building a lot of wall.  Right now, we`re building a lot of wall. 

I don`t think you`re going to see a shutdown.  I wouldn`t want to go to it now.  If you did have it, it`s the Democrats` fault.  But I don`t think it`s going to happen.  But this would be totally on the Democrats. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  And so, it is very clear that there is not going to be another shutdown.  It could not be more clear that Donald Trump is afraid of losing another such confrontation with Nancy Pelosi.  And so, with the virtual certainty that there is no chance of another shutdown, Chuck Schumer took the opportunity to in effect publicly humiliate the president by ordering him to sign that deal. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER:  The president should not make the same mistake he made a couple of months ago when there was a bipartisan agreement and he wouldn`t sign it and caused the shutdown.  Please, Mr. President, no one got everything they wanted in this bill, but sign it and don`t cause a shutdown. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  The lead Senate Republican negotiator on the deal, Richard Shelby, spoke on the phone with the president today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA:  He said that he would study it, that he was seeming very reasonable.  The president`s tone and conversation was very -- very good.  Concerned that he didn`t get everything he wanted.  I told him I share that, we all do. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  At the end of the day, the president put his surrender in writing this way: Was just presented the concept and parameters of the border security deal by hard working Senator Richard Shelby.  Looking over all aspects knowing that this will be hooked up with lots of money from other sources, we`ll be getting almost $23 billion for border security regardless of wall money.  It is being built as we speak.

And joining us now, exclamation point, is Heidi Heitkamp, former Democratic senator from North Dakota. 

Senator, thank you very much for joining us.  This is your first appearance since election night.  We really appreciate you being here.

  FORMER SENATOR HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), NORTH DAKOTA:  Thanks so much for having me, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  I want to get your view of this deal.  You know all the players.  You know Richard Shelby.  You know the house players in the conference. 

What do you see happening on this deal? 

HEITKAMP:  Well, I think the first thing that everybody needs to realize is the single most important asset the president had in this negotiation was Mitch McConnell saying, I`m not going to bring anything to the floor, in the past saying, I`m not bringing anything to the floor the president won`t sign.  Now he`s saying, I`m bringing this to the floor and I sure hope the president signs it.

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

HEITKAMP:  And so when -- you know, what this is, is kind of a shift, honestly, that`s going on unrecognized, which is in the past, probably in the midterms, you know, Mitch McConnell needed the president.  The president delivered a couple of key Senate races, went out there and campaigned. 

I think that table has switched.  I think the president needs Mitch McConnell much more than Mitch McConnell needs the president, to maintain their power base.  And so I think that`s kind of one of those back stories that`s not getting talked about. 

But the honest truth is that there is a border strategy.  There is a border security strategy at the Department of Homeland Security.  The president doesn`t show you all of that because it`s not a sea to shining sea wall.  No one in border security believes that`s necessary in order to secure the border. 

And, you know, when appropriators sit down at the table and they decide how they`re going to spend this money, they know what that back story is and they`re basically saying, you`re not going to get a wall that`s going to stretch across the southern border.  We`re going to enhance the border where we need to with barriers and fencing but, you know, let`s get realistic about what border security should look like and what our appropriations should look like. 

And I think once you let appropriators in the room to make this deal, you can get the deal done.  And once the president is told, look, we`re going to do our job in Congress, which is to appropriate, and you decide whether you`re going to sign it.  And that`s a tectonic shift, I think, in how things have gone the last two years. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Senator, what you just described is the way it is supposed to work and the way it has pretty much always worked in the past. 

HEITKAMP:  Oh, I think that`s absolutely right.  There`s been a lot of hand-wringing among long term legislators about whether there`s been too much executive involvement in legislative prerogative.  And what we`re seeing right now is exactly what legislators should do, what appropriators should do, which is sit down, cut a deal.  No one`s going to get everything they want.  And we`re going to move forward. 

And I really applaud all of the conference committee.  And I have to call out Jon Tester and Shelley Capito who had this deal done a long time ago, who have been at the table, and I know talking some sense into the whole dialogue. 

O`DONNELL:  I want to highlight a few things the president has said, because there`s still talk, there`s still some mumbling in Washington about, well, maybe he`s going to sign this.  This is strictly what they`re hoping for at Fox News, the president will sign this and still go ahead with his emergency declaration and pump billions more dollars in there and send the military in and the army corps of engineers or somebody in there to start building. 

The president has said a bunch of things himself that undermine that.  What I just read in his tweet today, he said, we will be getting almost $23 billion for border security regardless of the wall money.  And then he says, it`s being built as we speak.  And he said more, that we can listen to him, what he said last night, that he`s claiming to have already built part of this wall. 

When he says things like that, he certainly undermines his legal case for an emergency.  Let`s listen to what he said last night about already building the wall. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  They said that progress is being made with this committee.  Just so you know, we`re building the wall anyway.  They say that progress has been made with this committee.  Now, you really mean, finish that wall, because we built a lot of it.  Finish it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Senator, it`s just hard to imagine what the president`s lawyers could say if he ever did go with this emergency route and then he`s in court trying to defend that and you have all of these comments by the president indicating it`s not an emergency at all. 

HEITKAMP:  Well, never even mind the comments.  The fact that you have a congressional action that says this is what we`re going to do for border security, and then to turn around and say there`s an emergency when there`s no changed factual circumstances. 

You`re a lawyer, I`m a lawyer.  We would love to be on the other side of that case, because this is going nowhere.  It`s just face-saving and we all know it.  I think rational people know it. 

He can continue to tell the story that, you know, he is really getting this done and taking this broad executive action.  It`s going to get stopped in the courts. 

And the bottom line is, I would ask everyone, when they hear that, to think about, is he going to take it from the children`s health insurance program?  Is he going to take it from, you know, Medicare?  Where is he going to take this money from? 

And some of the discussion is he`s going to take it from national defense, which we fought very hard for when we reauthorized -- we did the defense authorization and the defense appropriation.  And so, you know, he cannot unilaterally exercise that kind of authority.  That was stopped in the Budget Impoundment Act, you remember that, I remember that.  I think he`s on very, very thin legal ice. 

O`DONNELL:  Senator, thank you for upgrading my status to lawyer at the beginning of your answer.  I`m just a humble college graduate who barely achieved that particular certification. 

HEITKAMP:  The reason that we evaluate your profile, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  I imitate one on TV, Senator. 

So, I want you to give us your unique experience, because I can remember when I was working in the Senate and border issues would come up.  And, of course, the border issues would always come up would be, of course, at the southern border.  I was working for a senator who represented a state on the northern border, the state of New York, Senator Moynihan.  You represent even more of that northern border, which is more than double the size of our southern border. 

How strange is it, as you sit up there on the northern border in North Dakota where most of it is completely unprotected, undefended, to hear all of this tension and stress being put on the southern border legislatively? 

HEITKAMP:  Well, this started for me in 2013 when we did the comprehensive immigration proposal.  I was new in the Senate.  I said, what about the northern border, what about the northern border?  No one would listen. 

And so along with Kelly Ayotte, we passed a bill requiring a northern border strategy which now has grown into an actual plan for securing the northern border.  So, you know, we got very, very frustrated.  But I think one of the great ironies of the shutdown is what it did to the coast guard and everybody forgets our maritime borders, which are absolutely essential in protecting our society, protecting our people, and this idea that every attention, because that`s politically where the attention goes to the southwest border, we`ve got to fund the Coast Guard.  We`ve got to tell those men and women of the coast guard that we appreciate what they do and will never do to them what we did to them in the shutdown. 

And we`ve got to have long discussions with all kinds of law enforcement on the northern border.  One of the big things I think is missing here is the plus multiplier with Stonegarden, which is our relationship with those northern and southern border sheriffs.  We need to do everything we can to create a unilateral border strategy that includes state and local officials as well. 

There is a way to do this.  But doing it through political platitudes and political promises that don`t make a lot of sense when they`re practically implemented, that`s not the way we should legislate, it`s not the way we should govern, and it`s certainly not the way to secure all of our borders. 

O`DONNELL:  Senator, before you go, I have to ask you about something, because you`ve done something that I`ve seen exactly twice in my life of observing politics, it may have happened more than that, but in my view I`ve seen it exactly twice.  I saw Governor Mario Cuomo when he was the governor of the state of New York refuse to change his opposition to the death penalty which was a decision that he knew could have saved him his final reelection campaign.  He lost his final reelection campaign because he wouldn`t change his position to support some form of the death penalty. 

So, that was the first and only time I saw a politician do something and do it during their reelection campaign that they knew would damage the reelection campaign.  And then I saw you, I saw you as the second person I`ve seen do it, taking that vote against Brett Kavanaugh`s nomination for the United States Supreme Court, knowing that that would hurt your reelection campaign in North Dakota.  It did hurt your campaign.  And like Mario Cuomo, you lost your campaign. 

As you look back on your Senate career and what was in effect your final important decision as a senator, how does that vote feel now and how does it feel in the context of your full Senate career? 

HEITKAMP:  Well, I don`t regret that vote for a second.  I never doubted the wisdom of that vote.  I never doubted in 30 years, people will look back and say it`s the right vote. 

You know, we aren`t elected to get reelected.  We`re elected to govern and use our best judgment.  And people say that was courageous, against interest.  There`s votes that you take in the Senate and things that you do as an elected official where there isn`t, after you make a judgment, which my judgment was he was unfit for the court.  There`s no choice other than to take that vote. 

And I know the governor probably felt much the same way.  He felt passionate about what he believed in and he wasn`t willing to compromise that principle.  And that`s what drives and propelled me to public service.  I haven`t regretted it. 

Incidentally, I haven`t regretted voting against the tax bill either.  And I`m proven right.  I think every day as we`re implementing this monstrosity that`s driving up our debt and not really solving our income inequality problems in America.  So, there`s votes I`ve taken that weren`t popular in North Dakota but I think people elected me to exercise my judgment and that`s what I did. 

O`DONNELL:  Former Democratic senator of North Dakota, the Honorable Heidi Heitkamp, thank you very much for joining us tonight, we really appreciate it. 

HEITKAMP:  Thanks, Lawrence, and I promise never to call you a lawyer again. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Senator, I really appreciate it.  Thank you. 

And when we come back, the same right wing media people who led Donald Trump into the shutdown are now trying to get him to go for another shutdown.  Charlie Sykes, who knows what it`s like inside the conservative media, who wrote the book about it, will join us. 

And later, Beto O`Rourke proved last night why Donald Trump has a lot to worry about if Beto O`Rourke runs for president. 

And in tonight`s very special last word, Donald Trump finally says what millions of people in the United States and around the world have been waiting to hear. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I`m guilty.  I`m guilty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  President Trump is not happy with the bipartisan conference committee deal to keep the government funded without any money for a Trump wall, and only about $1.5 billion for continued expansion of existing style barriers on less than 2.5 percent of the southern border. 

But the Fox News border patrol is even more unhappy than the president. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST:  By the way, on this new so-called compromise, I`m getting details, $1.3 billion?  That`s not even a wall, a barrier?  I`m going to tell this tonight and we`ll get back into this tomorrow.  Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  That was Sean Hannity last night.  And tonight he was just as unhappy and said the president should not sign the deal. 

But it seems one of the Republicans who is going to have to explain himself to Sean Hannity is Donald Trump, who has so far been very supportive of this compromise, which surely comes as a surprise to Fox`s Lou Dobbs, who tweeted that the deal is, quote, an insult to the president and the American people.  Ann Coulter tweeted, Trump talks a good game on the border wall but it`s increasingly clear it`s afraid to fight for it. 

And Rush Limbaugh, who is a very, very difficult man to embarrass, was actually embarrassed today for Donald Trump. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I think it`s embarrassing, $1.375 billion, $1.6 billion, I think it`s embarrassing.  It`s not even -- it`s so low, I keep calling it a rounding error.  It`s that insignificant an amount of money for anything, but particularly when the president`s original ask, I think, for border wall was something like $20 billion. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, two people with special insights into the reaction to this congressional deal.  Charlie Sykes used to be in the same business as Rush Limbaugh, as a conservative radio host, with some of the same audience Rush Limbaugh has.

And Adam Jentleson, is a former Senate staffer for former Democratic leader of the Senate, Harry Reid.  Adam has seen conference committees deliver bills that presidents eagerly sign, that he had seen congressmen delivered bills that presidents didn`t want to sign but signed anyway which is exactly what we seem to be dealing with tonight. 

And, Adam, everything the president is saying indicates that he is going to sign this. 

ADAM JENTLESON, FORMER SENIOR AIDE TO SEN. HARRY REID:  Yes, and I mean, that`s the smart move for the president.  I mean, the irony of this is that this is basically the same deal he could have had back in December.  He could have signed this, he could have avoided the 35-day shutdown, he could have avoided getting humiliated by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. 

So, you know, better late than never, take the deal, move on, is the right play for him.  The more he prolongs this, the worse it`s going to be for him. 

O`DONNELL:  Charlie, the wall on the southern border was Donald Trump`s idea.  It was not Sean Hannity`s idea.  It was not Rush Limbaugh`s idea.  It was not Ann Coulter`s idea. 

But they seem more married to it than the author of the idea, Donald Trump. 

CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE BULWARK:  Yes, what a surprise that Donald Trump didn`t have firm principles.  But they didn`t push him into this cul-de-sac, they basically, you know, trapped him on this particular wall.  So we have a really fascinating moment, because so far, Donald Trump has been very, very reluctant to disappoint the right wing media.  But as you pointed out earlier, he doesn`t have an option.  He`s out of cards. 

Mitch McConnell is going to have a vote on it.  And Republicans have basically decided, you know, we have gone to the mat for you over and over again but we`re not doing it for your fake wall.  We`re not going to shut the government down.  And so, you do have the conservative media which by the way is right that this is a humiliating surrender, I mean, it is humiliating for the president.  They`re going to get back in line.

And now we`re going to have to enter the emperor`s new clothes phase of all of this where Donald Trump, who does not get a wall, will simply say there is a wall, I`m building the wall, we`re finishing the wall, and we`ll see whether they accept that. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  And, Adam, this is very likely to pass the Senate with more than a veto-proof majority and pass the House with more than a veto- proof majority. 

JENTLESON:  That`s right.  I mean, those numbers are important.  Demonstrating the numbers are important to Trump.  You know, I think between now and when this bill is signed into law, hopefully, it`s going to be kind of like that movie "The Quiet Plate" where senators and members of Congress will be trying to not to make a noise for fear of the monsters coming out.  They want to get it passed, they want to get it on his desk, they want to demonstrate there are veto-proof majorities in both houses to show Trump that there is really no other option here because we are likely to have some twisters and turns, some changes of heart that we`ve seen from the president at other times. 

So, the best the Congress can do to avoid I think dramatic changes and outcome here is to show that even if he were to veto the bill, they would then pass it over his veto and the outcome would be the same. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Charlie, even though the right wing media is up in arms, Republican resistance in the Congress is virtually nonexistent.  I mean, Mark Meadows, the best he could come up with is just a written tweet that says it kicks the can down the road again, says Congress is not doing its job.  But it`s not an adamant, the president must not sign this, this is a travesty.  He`s not sounding like Hannity. 

So, that tells you there`s not going to be any real opposition in the Congress.  I`ve just been handed the latest surrender tweet by the president.  Charlie, he says: I want to thank all Republicans for the work you have done in dealing with the radical left on border security, not an easy task, but the wall is being built and will be a great achievement and contribute toward life and safety within our country. 

And, Charlie, you said the president was going to say this and he said it while you were saying it.  The wall is being built, and in here he seems to concede, look, the radical left is really tough, they`re tougher than us, and that`s the best we could do against them. 

SYKES:  Yes.  I mean, as long as he can always say I`m working on it, it`s aspirational, and he has someone to blame for his failures, because in Trump world, the buck never stops with Donald Trump. 

So, you`ll probably see a pivot within the next 24 hours from, you know -- not necessarily Ann Coulter but a lot of the conservative media, you know, we`ll stick with the president because he`s still fighting, he still wants to have this happen.  And I would not rule out some sort of a cash grab, you know, maybe short of an emergency order, but, you know, Lindsey Graham has already signaled that he`s on board if the president wants to do that, and Republican reaction to that will be fascinating to watch. 

O`DONNELL:  Adam Jentleson, Charlie Sykes, thank you both for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

And when we come back, you have heard more than enough from Donald Trump about the southern border.  But you`re going to hear more later in this hour.  And you`re going to hear Donald Trump say those magic words, I`m guilty.  He actually said that last night. 

But more importantly tonight, you`ll hear the other voice that was raise in El Paso last night.  Beto O`Rourke.  Beto O`Rourke showed Republicans and showed Donald Trump what they will have to worry about if Beto O`Rourke gets into this presidential campaign.  It is a voice unlike any other that we have heard so far in this campaign. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  In El Paso last night, President Trump gave his standard 75- minute rally speech that you`ve heard countless times before.  But he went off the rails in some new ways that you will hear about later in this hour.

At the same time that the president was speaking last night, Beto O`Rourke was speaking less than a mile away in his hometown of El Paso.  And it was a very different speech, aimed at a very different America than the one Donald Trump thinks he`s talking to.  Beto O`Rourke has a good chance of being on the Democratic presidential ticket.

If he doesn`t run for president in the primaries, he has a good chance of being selected as the vice presidential nominee.  And if he does run in the primaries, he could end up in either spot on the Democratic ticket.  He has said that he will decide soon about running for president.

If he does run for president, we are going to hear a voice that we have not heard on the campaign trail, telling the story of life on the southern border as no other presidential candidate will be able to tell it.  The stories Beto O`Rourke told last night, I have never heard before.

And I`m sure most Americans have never heard before, and surely most Trump voters have never heard anything like these stories before.  And we can be absolutely sure that Donald Trump has never heard these stories before.  They are stories of heroism.

In three-and-a-half minutes, Beto O`Rourke told America the way he sees life at the southern border.  While Donald Trump was talking building a wall, Beto O`Rourke was talking about building bridges, specifically a new bridge built between Torneo, Texas and Guadalupe, Mexico.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE BETO O`ROURKE:  Between Torneo and Guadalupe, they named a bridge after our heroic Veteran Marcelino Serna.  More than a hundred years ago, he came to this country from Chihuahua, an undocumented immigrant.

And at the time this country entered the first world war, Marcelino Serna entered this country`s army.  His drill instructor said, "Serna, you do not have to go.  Every single man in this unit will be going to France but not every single one of them will be coming back home, at least not alive."

And Serna said "This is my fight because this is my country."  And Marcelino Serna came back the most highly decorated Veteran from the State of Texas in all of World War I.

The park next to this one is named for the men of company "E."  In World War II, these young men formed an all-Mexican/American unit.  Many of them volunteered directly from the senior high classrooms at Bowie High School, Los Osos Orgullosos.  And those men served this country with honor and distinction.  In North Africa, in Italy, in France, those men made a stand for this country.

They brought back honor and distinction not just to Bowie High School, not just to El Paso, but to the United States of America.  And today, we honor their sacrifice, their service, and their commitment to this country.  Many of them paying the full price, the ultimate sacrifice for the United States of America.

And their little brothers, some of you know this story, in 1949, the State of Texas decided that it would hold the first statewide high school boys` baseball championship.  And under the guidance of Nemo Erera, the Bowie Bears decided to enter that competition although not a single member of that team had two pennies to rub together.  Their mothers made their uniforms, the gloves with which they played but they won the city championship.

And on the road to Austin, Texas, where the state championship would be played, though their brothers served in that second World War, though some of their brothers did not come back. At the hotels and motels and restaurants along the way, they were met by signs that said, "No Mexicans or dogs allowed."  But they did not allow that to deter them or to dampen their pride or their commitment to excellence in bringing back glory and honor to this community and this country.

Sleeping under the bleachers next to the field on which they would compete the next day, those Bowie Bears woke up, won the game, came back to this community, making us a little more proud, a little more grateful for who we are, deepening our understanding as Americans of what this country means to all of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  The Bowie Bears.  After this break, we`ll discuss Beto O`Rourke`s America versus Donald Trump`s America and how Beto O`Rourke might fit into the field of Democrats running for president with Ron Klain, who has experience working inside many presidential campaigns, and "The New York Times`"` Mara Gay who was covered presidential campaigns.

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O`DONNELL:  Last night in El Paso, we saw what could be a preview of the presidential campaign with Donald Trump running once again on building a wall while at the same time, Beto O`Rourke, a lifetime resident of El Paso, talked about cooperation and community.

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O`ROURKE:  Here in the largest binational community in the western hemisphere, two-and-a-half million people, two countries speaking two languages with two cultures and two histories, who come together, are joined, not separated, by the Rio Grande River, farming something far greater and more powerful than the sum of people or the sum of our parts.

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O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now, Ron Klain.  He has worked on seven Democratic presidential campaigns from 1992 to 2016.  I knew him when he had worked on only one.  He`s also a former senior adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama.  And Mara Gay is with us.  She`s a member of "The New York Times" editorial board and has been with the "Wall Street Journal" covering presidential campaigns.

And Mara, we saw something extraordinary last night.  There`s the old Tip O`Neill phrase that all politics is local.  And we saw this local politician in El Paso making a case about what`s happening on that southern border, in his town, where the president was last night, and speaking both locally and nationally in every sentence.

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Beto O`Rourke is very inconvenient for President Trump who, of course, managed to elevate Beto last night in a way that Beto may not have been able to do himself just by talking about, you know, how he`s not that important.  All of a sudden people -- he got eyes, Beto did.

But really, what we`re seeing with Beto O`Rourke and other candidates in the Democratic Party is that this is really a vision of what the Democratic Party is.  And we haven`t heard that from Donald Trump.  It`s really the clashing of two Americas.

We didn`t really see that as much in 2016 because the Democrats weren`t as far to the left.  And now they`re kind of feeling like, well, if Donald Trump can say all the things that are on his mind, we`re going to bring our full vision for America.  And it really is kind of remarkable how different it is from what we`ve been hearing from President Trump for the past three years.

O`DONNELL:  And Ron Klain, a guy who grew up in Queens, in New York City, and then left his penthouse on Fifth Avenue to suddenly become an expert on southern border issues, goes to El Paso, and meets -- doesn`t meet, but is basically confronted by the local politician there who drew a much bigger crowd than Donald Trump and was able to speak from actual experience.

RON KLAIN, FORMER SENIOR AIDE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Yes.  You know, because the president sometimes watches your show, Lawrence, we should emphasize that Beto drew a much larger crowd last night, in case the president is tuning in.  But look, I think what you saw was really, as Mara said, an amazing contrast.

You know, it is true that sometimes in our politics, 1968,2016, the candidate of vision, the candidate of fear, the candidate of hatred does win.  But most often, the American people choose the optimistic presidential candidate, the candidate of hope, the candidate of change, the candidate in the tradition of John Kennedy, a Barack Obama.

And last night, Beto O`Rourke solemnly put himself in that lane.  Solemnly lead a vision, an optimistic vision of America coming together, building bridges, not walls.  And whether the Democrats run O`Rourke or someone else in that vein, I think that`s a powerful and striking contrast of optimism and positivity against Trump`s divisiveness and hatred.

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  And Mara, by all estimates, Beto O`Rourke`s crowd was double the president`s crowd.  And the president last night -- I`m going to read what he says.

He said, "Beto O`Rourke had a wonderful rally, about 15 people."  That`s the only thing that matters to him, of course, is the crowd size.  How do you see, especially based on what we saw last night, Beto O`Rourke fitting into this potential field of Democratic Candidates?

GAY:  Well, I do think that Beto, coming from the State of Texas, is in a unique position.  And I think actually that candidates from Southern states and Midwestern states are going to have an advantage and maybe help give Democrats an advantage in general.

But I also think it`s very healthy to have a large group of competitors.  And there`s nothing wrong with that.  We can, you know, see the best rise to the top.

And I just think that it`s really satisfying to see not so much that the Democrats are doing well or anything like that, but more that you have kind of America striking back.  Just a happier, more joyous, more unified, more positive vision for the country.

O`DONNELL:  And Ron, we saw in Beto O`Rourke`s Senate campaign that he managed to pull back from any kind of personal attacks against Ted Cruz, which is a very difficult thing for anyone to resist.  He managed to resist that.

So you know he wouldn`t be a contributor to any kind of negative attacks against Democrats.  And so far, I don`t see anyone in this Democratic field inclined to do that.

KLAIN:  Thus so far.  Look, it`s very early on, but so far it`s been a very amiable and collegial race among the Democrats.  I`m sure there will be sparks.   It`s a campaign.  Elbows will fly, fur will fly, people will make their attacks.

But I think overall, you`re going to find the Democrats focused on putting forward a winning candidate.  As Mara says, letting the best rise to the top, whoever that winds up being, coming together and trying to defeat Donald Trump.  That`s the kind of primary race you`re going to see in 2020.

O`DONNELL:  Ron Klain, a veteran of seven presidential campaigns.  He`s older than he looks, ladies and gentlemen.  Ron Klain, Mara gay, thank you both for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

And when we come back, have you ever heard a politician say he doesn`t like dogs?  Well, Donald Trump did that last night.  And he also said that he`s guilty, a couple of times.  We have the video.  And that`s next.

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O`DONNELL:  At his rally last night, President Trump did what he always did when he departs from the teleprompter script and adds an impromptu thought of his own.  Every time he did that, he went off the rails.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  We`re embarking on bold initiatives to defeat aids.  Who knew that?  We have medicines now that work wonders on aids.

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O`DONNELL:  Who knew that?  Everyone not named Donald Trump.  And just about anyone who`s never attended a Trump rally knows that we have for decades now had medicines that work wonders with aids.  In one of his biggest swerves off the rails last night, Donald Trump became the first president ever to come out in opposition to dogs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  By the way, there is nothing better than a good old-fashioned German Shepherd.  It`s hard to believe.

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O`DONNELL:  No, it`s not hard to believe.  For the 60 million American households who have a dog.  Almost half of America has a dog and a big majority of America, 68 percent have some kind of household pet.  But Donald Trump doesn`t understand why anyone would ever share a home with a dog.

Judging by his tweets, dogs are the worst things in the world.  He compares people to dogs in the worst way.  In tweets, he has said, people have choked like a dog, then dumped like a dog, and been fired like a dog.

And so I guess we shouldn`t have been surprised when the president went off the rails about dogs last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  German Shepherd.  Certain types of dogs, pretty good.  You do love your dogs, don`t you?  I wouldn`t mind having one, honestly, but I don`t have any time.  I don`t have -- how would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn?  Would that be -- right?  Sort of not -- I don`t know.  It doesn`t -- I don`t feel good.  Feels a little phony, phony to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Yes, he`s right about that.  It would feel a little phony because people walking dogs really care about their dogs.  They really love their dogs.

And Donald Trump is absolutely right to think that it is inconceivable to most of us that he could feel anything for a dog.  It`s inconceivable to millions of people that Donald Trump could feel anything for another human being.

And so maybe we should be grateful tonight that Donald Trump has finally found something he refuses to lie about, unlike any president before him, President Trump has boldly staked out the position he does not like dogs.

After this break, we`ll show you the most important thing President Trump went off the rails about last night.  It was the moment when he said this - -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  I`m guilty.  I`m guilty.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Here was President Trump`s most important off-the-rails moment last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  The biggest proponents of open borders are rich liberals and wealthy donors.  These are hypocrites, who oppose security for you while living their entire lives -- I do too, to be honest with you.

I`m guilty.  I`m guilty.  I also live behind walls, OK?  They live behind walls and gates and they have guards all over the place.  Me, too, because I want to be safe and I want to make America safe if you don`t mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  He is very, very guilty because what Donald Trump has never minded having behind those gates with him is undocumented workers who he has employed consistently throughout his career.  Here is the wall that President Trump lives behind when he stays at the golf course when he stays in New Jersey.

Last week, "The Washington Post" reported on a pipeline that provided dozens of workers without legal status for Trump`s prized golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey stretching back to its construction in 2002.  Throughout the Trump presidency, workers without legal status have been working for Donald Trump at his golf clubs.

When "The New York Times" did an expose about women working at the New Jersey Golf Club, Donald Trump had the undocumented workers fired last year.  One worker, who was fired last month, told "The Washington Post," I started to cry.  I told them they needed to consider us.  I had worked almost 15 years for them in this club and I`d given the best of myself to this job.

There is no room for reasonable doubt that Donald Trump knew that his company was illegally employing these workers.  He knew.  Listen to this worker`s story of an encounter with Donald Trump himself in which Donald Trump correctly assumes the worker does not speak English.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIANO QUESADA:  I was cutting the bluegrass with the tractor and I turned the machine off so he could tee up.  He called me over.  He went like this, he didn`t talk to me, just signaled at me and he gave me a $20 tip.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump continued to mix with those employees while he was President of the United States.  The President who has complained more than any other in history about companies illegally hiring undocumented workers and that is but one of the many reasons why the most important thing Donald Trump said last night was --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I`m guilty.  I`m guilty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump gets tonight`s LAST WORD and that word is "guilty."  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END