tv The Last Word MSNBC December 15, 2010 10:00pm-11:00pm EST
moral crackdowns to turn americans against other americans. to make us see a degenerate enemy within. this is what they are bragging they will bring to the new congress. a new culture war like we haven't seen since the late '80s and early '90s. what remains to be seen is what democrats will bring to washington themselves. to either fight that war or stop that war. that does it for us tonight. now it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. we interrupt this life or death battle over the tax compromise to bring you two stories of real bravery. the first, meghan mccain is here as she continues her push for the repeal of don't ask don't tell in spite of her father's relentless opposition because she thinks it's the right thing to do. and the other, a woman who demonstrated unquestionable bravery as an ordinary school
board meeting was taken hostage by a man with a gun. real bravery. but first, what's that thing going on in washington? >> president obama's tax cut deal appears headed for the final approvapproval. >> i'm absolutely convinced this tax cut plan will help grow our economy. >> the tax bill that had democrats outrage predicting doomsday scenarios for the middle class. >> the more i look at this, the more it's a hoodwink. >> the same deal the republicans insisted would riouuin america extending unemployment benefits. easily sails through the senate. >> the yays are 81 the nays are 19. >> it was an overwhelming vote. >> the big question mark, what's going to happen when it gets to the house. >> support is eroding by the
minute. >> why is this bill likely to pass both houses? >> 59% of voters support the tax cut compromise. 61% believe it is fair politically for both parties. >> now that the senate has taken care of taxes. republicans will finally let other work begin, right? >> it doesn't matter who you love, only the flag that you serve. >> wrong. >> just learned that two gop senators want to block a trillion dollar budget billion that's necessary to keep the government running. >> senators in front of reporters and vow to block the stark treaty with russia. threaten to shut down the government because of earmarks and then they get this question. >> there are millions of dollars in earmarks from the two of you -- how do you have credibility. >> are we tone deaf? are we stricken with amnesia? what is going on here?
>> the republicans had an opportunity not to look so hypocritical. >> they decide to work with us. we can all have a happy holiday. if they don't we will continue to finish the people's business. >> good evening from new york, i'm lawrence o'donnell. the senate approved president obama's tax cut deal by a vote of 81-19. sending the bill to the house where progressive members will make a last-ditch effort to lower the level at which estates are exempt from taxation, from $5 million to $3.5 million. meanwhile, tea party republicans could try to kill the deal all together. >> since last summer i've urged this congress to take action to prevent a tax increase that would affect every american next year in january. the deal is a bad deal for taxpayers, will do little to create jobs and i cannot
support. >> before meeting with a group of ceo's today in an effort to encourage them to create new jobs and investment, president obama again pitched the compromise tax deal as key to economic recovery. >> i know there are different aspects of this plan to which members of congress on both sides of the aisle object. that's the nature of compromise. but we worked hard to negotiate an agreement, that's a win for middle class families and a win for our economy. and we can't afford to let it fall victim to either delay or defeat. i urge members of congress to pass these tax cuts as swiftly as possible. >> joining me now is congressman anthony weiner. congressman, you passed the repeal of don't ask, don't tell as a stand alone bill today in the house of representatives. let's listen to what speaker pelosi had to say about that. >> i thank everyone who made this possible. the outside mobilization, the inside maneuvering, mr. hoyer's leadership, and that of others,
and it's a very proud day for this congress, when we are fighting discrimination. and have the power to do so. >> congressman, what do you believe? and i know this is a weary question for you, after you've done your duty in the house. what do you believe are the prospects for that stand why lone bill in the senate? >> well, first we heard that people were opposed to it, because it was part of the defense bill, so we separated it out. we heard people wanted to see the study of the troops, that came back and we passed it again. the senate every time the senate republicans set another threshold for something, they go ahead and change their mind. we're hopeful that they're true to their word, now that they've gotten the tax bill out of the way, that the hostage has been released and now the rest of the work of the senate can go ahead. we're optimistic they'll take up the 911 bill, don't ask, don't tell and the dream act. the things they said they wouldn't touch until after the tax bill was passed. now that moment has come.
they're an organization, the senate republicans seem to have more excuses than there are days of the week, so we'll see what happens when it gets there. >> now today, going in the other direction, the senate sent their tax bill over to you in the house. what changes do you have to see made in that bill in order for you to vote for it? >> well, they've got to be fairly substantial. i mean, the big question is, are we going to basically borrow a lot of money to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires? it seems now that the focus is being driven down to a very narrow question of the most offensive part of this, which is a giant tax giveaway, literally, not even to the billionaires, but the richest billionaire heirs in the country. they're trying to make the estate tax more fair. it's increasingly likely this thing is going to get passed. we're going to do everything we can to improve it in the house and push it back to the senate. >> will you vote for it if they get an adjustment on the estate tax? >> i'm not drawing lines in the
sand. ty don't think this is going to be enough for me. this is a very flawed product that's very expensive and at the end of the day doesn't do the things we like. the more you look at, the more the deal seems to be not very good for working people. the tax cut for the payroll tax, the unemployment insurance. they're only one year extensions. and the tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires in two years will be difficult for me. i'm not drawing a line in the sand. but the bill has to get better in this process. >> are you surprised you could end up voting the same way as tea party members of the house of representatives on a bill like this? >> yes. you have me rethinking it. the answer is yes. but, you know, in -- it does call out a very important distinction here, though. a lot of the tea party guys of mitch mcconnell and others, their singular objective is to undermine president obama. i'm not trying to do that, i'm trying to bolster his best instincts to get the right thing done here. i want him to be stronger.
here's an important tell. the president has to realize that with the senate republicans, if you give them a hand of gesture, they're going to want an arm and more flesh in debates to come. one of the reasons it's important we stand up for the things we believe in is to set the table for the next fight. the lesson the senate and republicans have learned is that frankly this is a pretty easy process for them. >> i think you're teaching the white house the lesson right here. i'm trying to get you to lay out for me exactly where your line is on this bill. and you're not doing it. now, that does not, in fact irritate me, because i think what you're showing is the model of how you've been saying all along you negotiate these things. you don't say, here's my deadline it must be done by this day. you don't say, it has to be exactly this or it has to be exactly that. you stay with the flow of negotiation, and you see what your outcome is and when you can make your final decision, turn over your card and say, i'm ready to vote for it. isn't that what you're modelling
in the discussion we're having here tonight? >> i guess the point,this was true during health care as well. i never said, i'm going to hold my breath and take my ball and go home. that's what's different about what the republicans have said here. you know, the phoniness of the republican position is they kind of imply throughout this to anyone who was paying attention, if you freed up this tax debate, we would go ahead and move to these other things and at least let there be an up or down vote on the 911 bill. they're refusing to allow it to come to a vote. i do want to see if we can make this better in the house. and i do want the president to be a success. this is not just a competition of slogans for me. i want to see if we can make this bill better. i'm realistic, i see the calendar, i saw the vote in the senate today, and i know there's a limit to what we're going to be able to do. >> anthony weiner, thanks for joining us tonight. >> thank you, sir. joining me now is congresswoman shelly berkeley. congresswoman berkeley, you are
one who has greeted -- the only democrat in the house that greeted the obama compromise as good news. you were accepting of it in its initial form. as it comes now from the senate, are there changes you will still try to make in it, although you already seem willing to vote for it as is? >> as soon as i saw the bill, i thought it was a good deal for the people i represent. and believe me, lawrence, there's far more than me that are going to be supporting this legislation. i was just more vocal about it. but there are a number of my colleagues that are right along with me all the way down the line. >> do you think that much of what we were hearing in the first week of this discussion, from the democrats and house of representatives was as much as anything else a negotiating tactic? basically trying to make the sounds that would actually help empower harry reid and the democrats in the senate to get a slightly better deal as the bill was moving toward passage in the senate?
>> lawrence, i'm not sure what the motivations were that were -- that was the motivation. people on my side of the aisle in the house are frustrated. they didn't like the process, they didn't like the final outcome, they didn't like the compromise. i did -- and i think for the people i represent and the people of the state of nevada, this is the way you balance it, it's a far better deal than we would have if we don't have anything at all. i'm all for it, and i'm all in, and i'm going to do everything i can to see that the house votes the senate version an we get this thing done. i can't imagine starting next year if we don't do this, what's going to happen to the people that i represent. >> when you speak to the people you represent over the holidays, and some of them, obama voters are discouraged by what they think is an obama defeat in giving up on this top tax bracket in this negotiation. what is it that you'll say to them? >> well, i don't think i have to sell this much at home, and let me tell you why, and you know my
district very well. one out of five people that i represent is unemployed. the state of nevada has been slammed with the highest unemployment rate in the country. if we don't extend these unemployment benefits, i can't imagine what nevada families, particularly the people in my congressional district are going to do. forget over the holidays, what are they going to do next year zm also, even though vegas as you know, is is the most glitry, glitzy town on the planet. it's also a working class town. i represent dealers, waiters, waitresses, keno runners, cocktail waitresses, valets, showgirls. they're middle income wage earners, they need to get this tax cut extended. it is it good for them. you know a lot of the women that work in las vegas, they're single women with children. they have to have that child care tax credit. that's in there. if they don't get good child care at an affordable rate, they may as well quit working, because they're going to have a dickens of a time figuring out what to do with their kids.
alternative minimum tax extension. 33,000 people in my congressional district are going too get slammed with increased taxes if we don't pass the alternative minimum tax. and the marriage penalty tax credit, the earned income tax credit and almost more important than all of those things, part of this bill has the tax extenders, nevada is one of eight state that is doesn't have a state income tax. what's the significance of that? if you live in a state that has a state income tax, can you deduct it from your federal income tax because nevada is a nonincome tax state we are able due to some legislation that i passed with some of the other members a few years ago, to deduct your sales tax from your federal income tax. if we don't get this thing passed, that goes away january 1st also. when you weigh all of these things, there's not even a contest where i'm going on this. >> independent thinking
democratic congresswoman shelly berkeley from nevada, thank you for your time tonight. >> i'm sorry, lawrence, i lost you. >> i'm just thanking you for your time, i appreciate it. >> thank you so much, have a happy holidays. >> you too. coming up, 19 members of the senate voted no on the tax bill, one of them senator tom harkin joins me next. one other thing the senate will soon try to pass. the house repeal of don't ask, don't tell. senator john mccain continues to insist it should be delayed. meghan mccain disagrees, she joins me in the spotlight. and later, the woman who made a shocking decision during a standoff at a school board meeting. [ female announcer ] does your hair color feel as healthy as it looks?
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despite painlessly passing the bipartisan tax cut compromise today, senate republicans threatened to bring all other legislation to a halt, potentially leading to a government shutdown. republicans who requested multimillion dollar earmarks now say they might reject spending legislation because it contains too many earmarks. >> earmarks are a symptom of wasteful washington spending that the american people have said they want reformed. we agree with them, and that's why we will vote against this
bill. >> we're here today to say this is the old way and the wrong way to do business in washington. and we think the right way and the new way is to fund the government into next year, get us into next year when we can write a budget and go about doing this in the right way, and the fiscally responsible way. >> after republicans deployed all sorts of delaying tactics, republicans are now accusing majority leader harry reid of being anti-christian for suggesting they stay in washington to work the week after christmas before the new congress is sworn in. joining me now is senator tom harkin. senator harkin, you're one of the vote switchers today. you went from voting yes on proceeding on the tax bill to voting against passage of the tax bill. why did you change your vote? >> well, lawrence, i didn't change my vote. you see,i have led the battle for nearly 20 years now to get
rid of the filibuster, which is ruining america, ruining the senate, ruining our country. i always vote for cloture, i vote to end debate and go to the bill. i always vote for cloture, to end debate. because i don't believe in the filibust filibuster. that was the vote then. it was not a vote in favor of the bill, it was a vote to end debate on it. >> can i ask -- >> i voted against the bill last week on one motion, and i voted against it today. >> i get it. i know your record on it. a lot of people think those procedural votes are votes for or against. and there are many instances where it's not about the substance of the bill. how do you explain the substance of the bill when you go home for whatever christmas vacation you're going to get, to voters who will say to you, why did you vote to increase my taxes? why did you vote to not extend unemployment benefits? >> well, i voted the way i did because i felt we could have
gotten a better deal. this was not the end all and be all. i think we could have gotten something better. we did not have to spend nearly $900 billion. almost a trillion over the next five years, just so that millionaires and billionaires can get more tax breaks? this bill means if you make over a million dollars a year, you get an extra $100,000 a year. the wealthy in this country don't need, and we can't afford it. and that's why i voted against it. >> senator, as someone who is currently studying ways to change the delaying tactics of republicans and democrats in the senate. and you are suggesting that you may have some real changes to make in that in january, what do you make today's delaying tactics by republicans? today's accusations that suddenly harry reid is anti-christian because he's thinking they could get some
workdays in after christmas on things that may not get done before christmas? >> look, the republicans have blocked everything this year. it's almost like a scoreped earth policy that the republicans have. i mean, they've blocked things that they even voted for later on, just to slow things down and stop things. and stop us from getting things done in the senate. and so now they're crying because we've reached the end of the year and our leaders say we have things to do and get done. most americans, lawrence, in this country -- yes, they do take off christmas. they'll probably take off maybe a half a day on friday, they'll take off christmas, they'll take off sunday. most americans will come back to work that week between christmas and new years. and so why are we so special that we shouldn't be working that week also to get the business done that will make our country better. >> the house has passed don't ask, don't tell as a standalone bill, what are its chances
moving into the senate? >> i hope good. we have to pass this bill, before we go home. and again, if the republicans continue to filibuster and slow things down and stop things, we'll have to come back here after christmas and get the job done. this is something that the vast majority of the american people are for, the joint chiefs of staff are for. there may be one or two generals that are opposed to it, but the vast majority of the young people 234 our military today think that this policy is not good. they think it's just nuts. these are the young people that are in uniform right now, because they've grown up. they've lived with people who are gay and lesbians, it's not that big a deal to them any more. maybe the older folks around the country think it's some big deal. younger people in the military don't think it's a big deal. >> and there's another bill possibly pending, the dream act which would possibly affect people in uniform. young people who joined our military who are not legally here as citizens you can this would provide them a path toward
legalization in this country after military service. what are the prospects of that? harry reid made a campaign promise he would try to bring it to a vote in the senate. >> we are going to try to bring the dream act up one more time. that may be filibustered by the republicans. 23 it is, well, then, we'll have to be in here after christmas. but i think it's important. i mean, look, these are people who are here because they were brought here when they were kids. some as young as months old or five years old. this is the only country they know. they grew up here, they went to school here, they pledge allegiance to our flag. they serve in our military. and yet what we say is, look, and the dream act, if you serve in the military and if you go to college, then we can put you on a path to citizenship. we need these people. these are some of our hardest working, and some of our best educated young people.
we're going to tell them they have to leave the country they've known since they were children and go to some country they've never lived in? really? this is not fair. to me, the dream act is all about justice and fairness. and i think america ought to reclaim that, that we're a just and fair country. >> quickly, before you go, have you suggested the possibility when the senate reconvenes in the new session in january. that you may make a move to change the rules of the senate involving the filibuster so it can no longer be used to absolutely stop everything in its tracks. do you want to make a news announcement tonight about what you plan to do when that new senate session opens up? >> well, lawrence, no, because you don't know how this is going to shift and move between now and then. i am committed to doing whatever i can to make the senate function better, to stop the gridlock. that's what people are upset about in this country. we can't get the job done. and we can't get the job done
because we're operating with 19th century rules in a 21st century economy. 21st century world. so we have to get rid of these old filibuster rules that we have that are strangling the united states senate. i'm working with other senators right now, senator schumer from new york. a whole bunch of other people i'm working with right now, to see if we can come up with something that will get the senate to function more effectively in the future. we'll have something to do on that on the first day we come back on january 5th. >> you've suggested it can be done with 51 votes on the first day. we're going to be watching on the first day to see what the harkin secret move might turn out to be. thank you very much. >> we can do it, lawrence. thank you very much. >> thank you. still ahead, meghan mccain is on the record supporting the repeal of don't ask don't tell. she's also been pretty claire about what she thinks of sarah palin.
has that video of palin killing a caribou changed her mind? meghan mccain is in the spotlight. why do some republicans think doing their job is an attack on christmas? slap! slap! slap! ] [ male announcer ] your favorite foods fighting you? fight back fast with tums. calcium rich tums goes to work in seconds. nothing works faster. ♪ tum ta tum tum tums
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divert, hoping the calvary would come soon. my guys had three ringed binders and pencils to protect themselv themselves. >> that woman was caught in a moment that no one could anticipate. standing next to a man with a loaded gun in the middle of the school board meeting. what caused her to act? she and another man in that room get the last word. also, coming up, republican senators have a new excuse as to why they should not be expected to do the work of the united states senate. christmas, it's tonight's rewrite. and next, the house passed a repeal of don't ask, don't tell. most democrats argued for it, most republicans called it a waste of time. after the break, a republican who doesn't think it's a waste of time. ♪
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in the spotlight tonight, she's a voice of young conservatism. has spoken out against sarah palin and posed for the no hate campaign which supports marriage equality. she's also the author of dirty sexy politics. which recounts her experience during the 2008 campaign as the daughter of presidential candidate senator john mccain. joining me now, columnist for "the daily beast" meghan mccain. you're here on an historic day for don't ask don't tell. the house representatives passed it as a stand alone bill 250 to 75 with 15 republican votes in favor of it. you've been thinking about the senate, you've been thinking about one particular vote in the senate, john mccains. >> i haven't been thinking about it. i think you have. >> what do you think he will do
with this bill coming to the senate in its current form? would he be part of a group that would try to prevents it from coming to a vote? >> yeah, i think my father will filibuster probably, and this will probably pass, and i think america will pass it. >> you've done everything you can to lobby john mccain. >> i have to keep making this clear my public and personal life are different. if i couldn't separate these things i wouldn't have a relationship with my parents. >> kids disagree with their parents on all issues. possible republican votes in the senate to pull them over to get this up to 60 so it can go forward. what case would you make to them? >> i would make to them that
they would want to be on the right side of history. that's where i'm standing out of this. i think gay marriage and everything having to do with the gay rights movement right now is a civil rights issue. i think it's my generation's civil rights issue. do you want to look back at this time the way i look back at a time when women couldn't vote? >> what would you make of someone who's saying, i need more time to study the report? >> it's great spinning. >> the report's been out there long enough. yes, they can't take a defense department report and read it the minute they get it. they have stuff stacked up on their desks already. but on something you know is important it moves to your inbox top very quickly. >> i think if you can die for this country, it doesn't matter what you do in your private
life. >> is there something to open up in this area or do you feel the republican party is actually closing down? i mean, to go back to the mccain example, there's a guy who you would think at certain times in the past could be open on areas like this. but he's a republican who seems to have narrowed into a more conservative republican view, of not just this, but other subjects, immigration, and so forth. >> well, it depends what angle you're looking at. >> he's not the only one. i'm struggling for examples, so i don't have to use your father for everything. the voting party has it seems in many ways, gone backwards in its thinking on many things. >> i agree there's this very visceral conservative movement going on in this country. i think people like me that have this sort of different, rogue, whatever adjective you want to put on it, i think there's a lot of young blood, there's a lot of republicans that are socially
conser liberal. they don't get as much time i don't think. >> your father has drifted more into the conservative zone than where he's been in the past on the dream act. the dream act seems to be -- >> and i was just home in phoenix recently, and i drove by my father's office and there was huge protests going on. this is definitely an issue that's hitting a lot of buttons for a lot of people. >> amazing switch for that office, because he used to be one of the heroes people were protesting out there, in terms of his advocacy for comprehensive reform. >> i think things have changed in arizona lately. i grew up in this border state. for me this is about securing the borders. we have to secure the borders. it's a national security issue. arizonans are stereotyped as these red neck racists, when everyone is just scared what
could happen if a terrorist is smart enough to bring a dirty bomb across the border. >> one of our soldiers entered the country illegally and it was discovered after he was dead. that's what the dream act is aimed at, kids who have come to the country illegally, not of their own initiative. they've gone to high school here, they joined the military. they're fighting in our wars in iraq and afghanistan. >> and the dream act provides education -- >> a no cost path to legalization in this country. if they would chose it. i mean, is that something you think republicans should be able to get behind? the wall street journal thinks it's a good idea. >> i do. i understand, and i think the greatest part about being an american is that you can have any education you want you can be anything you want to be. we're all immigrants. there was a point in time where you weren't allowed to hire irish people. i worry about the cost, the legalities of it, but as a
general, if you've been living in this country for five years as a student, you should have access to education. i think this is a lame duck session going on, that harry reid is trying to jam through without everyone not being able to analyze the bill. but yes you should have access to education especially if you're going to serve your country. >> there are different editions of it, some people might argue this version will involve a cost. they're trying to eliminate all costs. >> i don't know, two week as way from christmas, with all the things going on in the economy, this is is the most appropriate time to be doing this. >> what better time? than christmas, the spirit of giving, to say to those soldiers in iraq and afghanistan, if you continue to do your duty, when you come back here, we will welcome you into the legalized flow of immigration into this country? what better time than christmas for that? >> i guess we can agree to
disagree on that one. >> all right. we'll have to leave it there. quickly, though, sarah palin killing caribou? good for america? bad for america? is that -- is drawing that kind of blood what she should be doing to position herself to maybe be the next president of the united states? >> i'm not a hunter, i don't know. i don't think i could kill an animal. she's not as good a shot as i thought she was. it took her four shots to hit the caribou. she's running for president, i'm sure this show is the greatest ad for running for president of all times. >> see, i don't think she's running. >> i do. i will make you the biggest bet ever she is. >> i think she's running for billionaire, i think she's running for all the money -- >> well, she could do both. >> meghan mccain, thank you very much for joining us tonight. coming up, not even the holiday spirit could survive the
stella: hmmm. we're getting new medicare benefits from the new healthcare law. jane: yea. most people will get free cancer screenings. and 50 percent off of brand name prescription drugs if you're in the donut hole. stella: you read my paper. jane: i went to medicare.gov. it's open enrollment, you know.
so i checked out all the options and found a better plan to fit my budget. stella: well, you know what they say...knowledge... jane: knowledge is power. christmastime, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, time with the family and fighting in congress. wineny senators earn tonight's rewrite. and later, we learn firsthand why one woman decided to go after a gunman with her pocketbook. ready sensei. hey tough guy, that cold needs alka seltzer plus! it has the cold-fighting power of an effervescent packed in a liquid-gel for all over relief! hiyah!
time for tonight's rewrite. on january 4th, the 112th congress begins and it will have 5 more republican senators and a lot more republican congressmen. that means before that congress takes off, harry reid would like to push through as much of his agenda as possible. the stark treaty, the dream act, repeal of don't ask, don't tell and so on. republicans will be better positioned after the new year, so they would like to stall those bills until next year when killing them will be even easier. harry reid doesn't like that. >> i hate to report all this to you, but there's still congress after christmas, so if the republicans think that because they can stall and stall and stall, that we take a break,
we're through, we're not through. congress ends on january 4th. >> of course, no one likes working around christmas, especially if you're a republican and you've been given little time to consider the massive omnibus spending bill that keeps the federal government funded through september. >> it's completely and totally inappropriate to wrap all of this up into a 2000 page bill and try to pass it the week before christmas. >> okay. he's got a point. it is a $1.1 trillion spending bill. it would be a lot easier to pass a temporary bill that funds the government at current levels until the senate has time to consider all of these earmarks, even the republican earmarks. fair enough. let's see what jon kyl had to say. >> it is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out without doing -- frankly, without disrespecting the institution.
and without disrespecting e of the two holiest of holidays for christians and the families of all of the senate not just the senators themselves, but all of the staff. >> okay, hold it right there. that's not about having time to review a 2000-page spending bill. senator kyl's objection was about congress being in session around christmas, because it disrespects christmas. senator demint had a similar complaint telling politico, you can't jam a major arms control treaty right before christmas. what's going on here is just wrong. this is the most sacred holiday for christians. well, both senators are right. for christians christmas is a holy day. what's not a holy day for christians is monday december 27th, tuesday december 28th,
wednesday december 29th and all those other days between christmas and easter. what senators kyl and demint should have said was actually said by harry reid on the senate floor earlier today which gives me the lazy pleasure of having harry reid do the rewrite for me. >> most people don't get two weeks off on any time, let alone christmas week. these people who are lucky enough to have a job in these trying times need to work extra hours just to make ends meet. so it's offensive to me and millions of working americans across this country for any senator suggesting working through the christmas holidays is somehow sacrilegous or disrespectful. the path to finishing this year lies in the hands senators like senator kyl and demint and any other senate republican who's trying to run out the clock or
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it started out like any other school board meeting. just as the floor opened for comment, 56-year-old clay duke decided to make his statement with a gun. we want to warn you, the video is intense. [ bleep ]. >> hit the road. leave. you may leave, you may leave. and you can leave. six men stay. everyone else leaves. >> duke said he was upset over his wife being fired from a job with the schools. as he threatened the men who stayed behind, board member ginger middleton came back into the room and tried to knock the
gun out of his hand with her purse. it didn't work. despite pleas from the superintendent and the board, the situation quickly escalated. >> this isn't worth it. this is a problem. please don't. please don't. please. [ gunfire ] >> a security guard eventually ran into the room and exchanged fire with duke. duke then shot and killed himself. amazingly none of the board members in that room were hurt. what happened in that boardroom was being streamed live. joining me now are two people who were in that room. bay district florida school board's member ginger littleton and bay district florida schools superintendent bill hussfelt. clay duke had ordered the women out of the room. you followed that order but then you came back. let's take a look. >> john, go ahead.
>> ginger, no, ginger. >> get out of here. >> ginger. >> ginger, you were out of there, you were safe. what were you thinking that made you creep back in there around that corner and try that? >> very briefly he had ordered us out, and i was thinking as i was leaving, i'm reacting to his order, and i'm not sure that's the smartest thing for me to do. let me turn around and see what's up. he was up on the desk right next to the board on the same level with them. had his gun down and i knew that if i left them that they were sitting ducks and they would be dead very shortly. >> did you see ginger coming back in? >> no, i couldn't see her, because she's a very tiny person, and the assailant was very big. and i didn't even see her until she had swung the purse.
she kind of snuck in there on all of us. and she loves us to death, we've been working together for years. and she was trying to do something to help us out, because she knew we couldn't do a thing. the way the whole thing was set out, and the way we had it planned, we were -- and she said this many times today, we were sitting ducks and she -- god bless her, she tried to do something to help us. >> ginger, you took that whack at him, it didn't stop him, and suddenly you were at a complete disadvantage to him, he still had the gun in his hand. did you think that would be the end for you right there? >> yes, i guess i really did. i didn't have another plan. at that point i'm thinking, this was not the smartest thing i ever did. i should have thought it through, if he didn't drop the gun, what was i going to do next. the answer at that point was, i've made my move, didn't work, the ball's in his court. >> when you made the decision to go in, were you conscious of
making a decision that could lose your life? >> no, i probably didn't think through it that much. i knew that i had six guys sitting in front of this fellow that would be dead in a short period of time. i had no doubt about that, and it was a matter of, could i leave them there and live with myself when whatever i thought was happening happened. or should i try to do something and delay, defuse, somehow or other buy some time that would do that. i knew that help was on the way, but there was nobody in the room to help at that points. >> bill, some people say when they're in these intense situations, the brain processing of time actually slows down and these things that happen in seconds feel like they're happening in a slower motion. when you saw beginninger do thatha ginger do that, when you saw that happen to her. did can you think it was the end for her, and it was only going
to provoke him to take his final action against you? >> it happened so fast, like you were talking about. this wasn't in slow motion, it happened so fast, and ginger was on the ground and he acted like he just -- he just turned around and just -- he's got the gun way up in the air. we're just so thankful he didn't shoot her. i mean, i know that her family feels that way, and it's just a -- there are so many things that could have happened that don't happen in there yesterday. we're just thankful to be able to stand here and talk with you. >> and your security guard really came in there and put an end to it all. >> i have to correct you. there was not a security guard. this was a retired police detective. he had had over 20 years in law enforcement, mike jones. and ginger bought us a little bit of time. by the time mike was able to get to his gun and get down there, he saved our