The Last Word | February 04, 2013
>> months, the non- tea party guys have for the first time in a long time started to win.
>> it is time for a new republican party that talks like adults, we have got to stop being the stupid party .
>> and the republican establishment striking back against the tea party .
>> the conservative victory project.
>> but it is not being used against democrats .
>> we're talking about extremists, right?
>> with a goal of recruiting. less extreme candidates.
>> who can win.
>> there are a lot of republicans who dislike each other.
>> one possibility is a civil war .
>> i feel like we should say oh, oh, oh.
>> okay, then.
>> karl rove as the reformer.
>> you're talking about karl rove ?
>> he built this thing.
>> karl is trying to unwind what he wound.
>> trying to prevent another meltdown.
>> i think there will be bruising changes.
>> they have a real problem.
>> it is time for a new party to talk like adults, we have to stop being stupid party .
>> we have the obligation to try.
>> when the president heads to minneapolis.
>> progress is possible.
>> to talk about gun violence .
>> universal background checks are universally supported.
>> it is a fraud to call it universal. it will never be universal. law abiding people don't want that.
>> the nra is now revealed as an insane organization. and that matters quite a lot.
>> the senate is poised to take action on gun violence .
>> i didn't vote on the assault weapons last time, it didn't make sense.
>> this is an emergency, let's knock off the washington baloney.
>> if there is anything we can do, we have an obligation to try.
>> i'm ezra klein in for lawrence o'donnell tonight. richard luger was born in indianapolis in 1932 . he was an eagle scout , and not just an eagle scout . he was distinguished scout, a very exciting award. in 1950 he graduated first from his class, very nicely done, and then in '54, graduated again first in his class, and then won a rhodes scholar . richard luger was one of those guys who it was clear from a very early age was marked for greatness. he didn't disappoint. he was mayor of indianapolis by 35, and a u.s. senator at 44. in fact, in the election when he first went to the senate he won by 19 points and never looked back, in 1982 , won re-election by 8 points, in '88, by 36 points, in 1994 , lucky number 36 points, a huge landslide victory . and then in 1996 he decided to run for president, but didn't win that race, perhaps because of ads he put out like this one.
>> i believe in the second amendment and our right as americans to own a gun, for self-protection, to hunt and to collect. but there is no right to sweep a plowi playground with an assault weapon . i parted company with senators graham and dole, i did what i felt was right.
>> dick luger .
>> you know, being a conservative doesn't mean you have to lose your common sense .
>> not such a hot strategy in the republican primary . he was regarded as a worthy exercise like bruce babbits that may have prevailed in a more sober era, but not in ours. he went back to his state, won re-election by 35%. in 2006 , the year of the big democracy takeover in both houses of congress, democrats didn't even bother to field a candidate against dick luger , so he won re-election with really, 87% of the vote, 87%, with the other 13% going to libertarian, through all the time, he was a really reliable republican, not the most conservative guy in the world, he supports assaults weapons ban, but he supports stimulus and dodd frank and science and votes against tax increases and all the rest of it, if you are a major political party , dick luger is a first round draft pick for you. he is the kind of guy you want in the senate seat. you want him in the senate seat because he does a very important thing, he does not lose senate elections. but in 2012 , something really unexpected happened. and dick luger lost the seat. but he didn't lose it to a democrat. he lost in a primary to this guy.
>> i think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that got intended to happen.
>> that is richard mourdock , the tea party anti-establishment candidate. he had endorsements from americans for prosperity , the national right to life association, he is the republican who knocked dick luger out in the primary, and also lost the 2012 senate race in indiana. he is part of why despite the democrats defending the seat, increased their majority by two seats. over the past couple of things this kind of thing happened to republicans an awful lot. the establishment has been getting routed by the tea party . and many have not fought back, they don't want to be the next dick luger or mark castle or bennett. in the war for the republican party establishment, which is still a very conservative establishment at this point in time seems to be getting the upper hand. house budget chairman paul ryan is a great example of this. voting for the fiscal cliff deal, which many hard core republicans opposed. and talked others out of their brinksmansh brinksmanship. he objected on the way the electoral votes are won in wisconsin, in order to make it easier for republicans to win presidential elections there.
>> so the way i look at it, principled prudence. we have to -- exercise our principles in a prudent way, with realistic expectations while being reasonable, and doing what we think is right.
>> we have to exercise our principles in a prudent way with realistic expectations while being reasonable and doing what we think is right is not exactly the insurgency talking. it is not a very extreme comment. and senator rubio is spending time going from conservative talk radio show , to talk radio show, trying to convince them it would be a really good idea to get behind comprehensive immigration reform , bipartisan immigration reform . governor bobby jindal , who has been on the "you're the stupid party " has been on tour.
>> and it is time for a new republican party that talks like adults.
>> not to make anything of this juxtaposition on this argument, but sarah palin has lost her contract at "fox news." jim demint resigned to head up the heritage foundation . and "the new york times" reports that the biggest donor in the republican party are funding new groups, and tea party enthusiastics who worry that it could compromise the party to win control of the senate . not really a worry, happening for multiple elections. but even with that group emerging, and they are a big deal . there is a lot of money behind the group. it is a big deal that karl rove 's group is turning its fire essentially on the tea party . it is very clear about what is and is not happening in the republican party . the republican party , which is again a conservative establishment is rejecting or trying to reject the tactics and rhetorical approach of the tea party in the last couple of years. they're not actually changing their minds about important policy topics or announcing big positions, the tea party in the last couple of years were playing a somewhat convenient role for the republican party right now. because they're there, and they're something that can get thrown overboard first. it is easy, you get a lot of press, you can be seen to be changing without actually changing your mind in a big way. you see this regarding eric cantor , who is giving a much-hyped speech regarding the deficit and towards a broader and more inclusive role they can play. he says mr. cantor can apply the existing gop policies. so that, i think at this point in time is a great question for the republican party at least right now. can their response to the 2012 election be to just change the tenor and temperature of their approach to politics rather than the actually policies. can they just stop primarying guys like dick luger without changing the approach to say, inequality. that is the message, changing your hope is different than changing your policies. it is great to have you both here, thank you for joining us.
>> great to be here.
>> molly, so can they? do they need to do more, need to sort of go back and look at policies or can you actually get pretty far just by changing the way your party acts in public?
>> i think the answer is yes. they have to do both. and first of all the republicans find themselves in a situation that the democrats found themselves in maybe a decade ago, where they are on the wrong side of every issue that people vote on, we saw with mitt romney they were on the wrong side of the tax issues. they are on the right side of spending in the abstract, but whenever they talk about things like the ryan budget or getting rid of social security people don't want to hear that. they're on the wrong side of a lot of the sort of generational social issues now. so as the majority dawns in favor of things like gay marriage , republicans are being pushed to answer questions about women's issues in ways that make them very uncomfortable. and not to put too fine a point on it. so they have to find issues they can win on. but as bobby jindal says they also have to talk about the things they believe in, not in a dumb way. and they have to find the right communicators. as you said it is really easy to be against a todd akin or a richard mourdock or a sharon eng engel, but they need to have more confidence in a person representing the party .
>> in the late '90s and '80s, they lost the popular vote in a number of elections. it was five or six before bill clinton won in 1992 . and the organization that came out of that is the democratic leader organization. that was a policy organization. it had a big messaging component. but the main work of that group was to try to wrench the democratic party to what they felt was the center on a variety of fairly significant policies, ranging from health care to welfare to how to deal with budgets and taxes. there doesn't seem to be at this point a deal on the right. there is a belief that you need to talk to the center better and reach out to more people. but there is not a belief that sort of mirrors reforming welfare, changing it as we know it or reforming it as we know it.
>> quite the opposite. you mentioned jim demint take over the heritage foundation , he is convinced that republicans on policy are completely right. he said in an interview today with scott rasmussen in the pollsters, which is democrats give money. that is not true, he is repeating what worked in the 2010 elections, the problem is democrats at that point in time, too, did have governors like bill clinton in the states. a lot of moderate democrats who were still coming up that way and building laboratories of democracy that were not -- as far left as the natural leadership was. in the republican party , one party they have just for washington reporters, we're near virginia, which is run by republicans , since the start of the year they're pushing or reintroducing social conservative legislation that the ultrasound may come back, in reality, the states run by republican are passing very conservative bills, coming back up to the national party . you can't just change that with a couple of campaign ads .
>> so that is the point, it did come from the government in the '80s. so are there either states or policy areas where it seems sort of ripe to play this kind of role? is there a place for the republican party to maybe start if this doesn't work in a couple of years.
>> yes, absolutely, right now republicans hold 30 governorships, where they're doing extremely well in the states. many are popular, people like chris christie , very popular, bobby jindal , popular in his state. susana martinez, republican in her state. these are ones who made themselves popular because they have to govern, be executives, propose policies, they can't just sit on the sidelines and throw bombs at democrats , it is hard to do anything else, that has been the republican's tactic, but at the state level they prove that they can be constructive. and probably it is the case if the future of the republican party doesn't come from super pacs, doesn't come from think tanks , doesn't come from the feuds they're talking about. it comes from leadership bubbling out of the states and compelling candidates running at the national level and proving by their example that they have a message.
>> dave, is anybody playing this from the other side? you have a kind of clustering of chris christie and jindal and ryan and rubio. they're doing something similar, not moving the policy, but a way of talking about the politics. is anybody running side by side to the tea party .
>> in the states where they have the control they're doing so. arkansas is a state where republicans took back -- i shouldn't say take back. they didn't control the legislature for any time since the civil war ended. it is not -- they're not as loud about it. you're not going to hear the same tea party voices, even the voices they do have are people like ted cruz who i think has not voted affirmatively for anything. he voted against the bill. so they don't have those voices yet. you will see more, i think of the legislation coming from him, whether they like it or not. you're not going to see the same kind of pr from jindal, you will just hear the stories.
>> thank you.
>>> new gun legislation is beginning to take shape. who is for it? what is in it. and why even chris wallace has concluded that wayne lapierre is a little bit crazy.
>>> and a bigger story behind the super bowl , the power outage , six words, if we only had a brain. all