The Last Word | March 12, 2012
>>> is what i inherited. and i am doing my level best to help win this election.
>> all you're doing is screwing me up. that's all you've done this entire time is get in my why.
>> that's woody harrelson as mccain campaign senior adviser steve schmidt and julianne moore as sarah palin . it premiered saturday night on hbo. rejoining me is steve schmidt . steve , a lot of shocking things in the movie. not just your confrontations with sarah palin , but i've got to ask you, the thing that jumped out to me, did you really have to convince john mccain to stop watching msnbc during the campaign?
>> you know, one of the things, lawrence, when you work with, you know, these men or women who are in these situations is, you know, they're interested in seeing and hearing what people are saying about them. and it becomes debilitating. you know, overwhelming amount of information that came in. so i suggested throughout the campaign, not just with msnbc, that maybe the best thing to watch at night was espn. he's a huge sports fan. i thought relax a little bit. focus on people who are actually going to vote, watch, focus on, you know, outside of all the political talk. and absolutely, i suggested that to him.
>> well, i'm impressed that he didn't lock himself in the tv bubble of fox news, but he was on fox news yesterday with chris wallace . he was asked about "game change." he was asked about you. let's listen to that.
>> what do you say to one of your top advisers, steve schmidt , who said this is all true?
>> i regret that he would make such a statement.
>> we'll leave it there.
>> boy, i love that answer. he does not say steve schmidt is not telling the truth.
>> no, look. i look at -- you know, i watched the movie, and the movie is the truth of what happened in the campaign. and i think there's some important lessons that come out of this movie about how we run campaigns today. senator mccain is someone i admire greatly. he's a great man. and one of the things i think for people who watch the movie, you get a sense of senator mccain 's decency, his nobility. a lot of things that those of us who have been around him, we love him.
>> let's leak atook at a scene here with you, woody harrelson , john mccain and julianne moore .
>> sir, i can't control her anymore. i don't know if she's getting on a campaign plane early in the morning . we need to finish this campaign with as much dignity as possible, and the only way that can happen is if you get her in line.
>> it's not going to do it, steve . she might start turning on me.
>> steve , there's a lot i love about this movie including the truth of a moment like that which these elected officials hate personal confrontation, especially at the high level with other officials like that. i felt like i got an explanation about why i've never heard a negative word of any kind from john mccain about sarah palin ?
>> well, you know, you look at that scene. you know, obviously in the campaign, i was asking for help. i had lost control of the situation. she wasn't listening to me anymore. i didn't know on any given day if we were going to get the airplane up in the air and where it was going to land, if it was going to land where it was supposed to. whether she was going to give the speech we had talked about. whether she was going to allow the people who were supposed to be on the stage to be on the stage with her. we were trying as hard as we could, a group of us, and i was, trying to get some order back into the campaign.
>> steve , i want to take a look at your final moment with sarah palin , and when she wanted to go out and give a concession speech in addition to john mccain 's speech. let's look at this.
>> governor, this country has just elected the first african- american president in the history of its existence. and it is the concessions speech that will legitimize his concession as commander in chief. it is a serious and solemn occasion and john mccain and only john mccain will be giving the sacred speech. this is how it has been done in every presidential election since the dawn of the republican, you, sarah palin , will not change the importance of this proud american tradition.
>> steve , you got a standing ovation on that climactic scene for your character in the movie. but nicole wallace had another climactic scene where she comes to you and says she couldn't bring herself to vote for this ticket because palin was on it. did you vote for this ticket?
>> i did. a
>> and did you have any struggle with that knowing at the time you voted -- what state did you vote in, steve ? what was your electoral votes going?
>> i voted in california.
>> oh, no harm done. there was no chance.
>> i had a sense of what the outcome was going to be. listen, i think john mccain would have been a fine commander in chief. i think he would have been a good president. i didn't hesitate to vote for john. but i certainly respect nicole's position on this and her integrity. you know, as you look at the race, i think there's an important story. as i've said, this is about the collision of idealism and cynicism. this isidealism and cynacism, wishful thinking and i think we put someone on the ticket manifestly not prepared to be president of the united states and i have a great deal of regret about that.
>> i want to say to people there is nothing in the movie that absolves steve of any of the mistakes made in the palin selection. steve , it's on a loop on hbo, showing it all the time i have seen it twice now, i can't turn away when it comes back on. steve schmidt gets the last word tonight.