In the latest Rewrite, Mitt Romney said he wishes he could claim he is Hispanic. What made him say that? MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell explains in the Rewrite.
As Willard M. Romney's campaign plows ahead toward the Republican nomination for president, little-known details on his personal background are popping up.
On the campaign trail, for instance, he'll gladly chat about his huge family. But what about his Mexican cousins? It's a branch he ignores in public.
NBC News correspondent Mike Taibbi filed a fascinating report on Rock Center with Brian Williams, profiling Romney's relatives who are Mexican citizens. In 1885, Romney's Mormon great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, fled from the United States to Mexico in order to escape prosecution for practicing polygamy. His own father was born there and went on to become the governor of Michigan — the quintessential poster boy for the Dream Act. About 40 cousins still live south of the border, and directly oppose cousin Willard on his own anti-Dream Act stance.
Earlier today, Romney's campaign released a new TV ad, en español, reaching out to Spanish-speaking voters in Florida.
No one is more aware of Newt Gingrich's solid surge in the polls than Mitt Romney. The new CNN/Time/ORC International Polls released today show the former speaker of the House pulling ahead of Romney by double-digit numbers in three out of the four early primary states.
Romney's fighting back with a new ad that hits Newt where it hurts — his serial marital record. In the video, old family footage casts Romney as a loving husband and doting father.
"I think people understand I am a man of steadiness and constancy," Romney asserts. "I don't think you are going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than I do." He goes on to mention he's been married to the same woman for 42 years, has been in the same church his entire life, and worked in the same company for 25 years.
This starkly contrasts Gingrich's less conservative and more tumultuous family history as a man whose been married three times and had an extramarital affair. However, it's unclear whether pushing the family card will resonate with voters when it comes to generating a negative image of Newt.
In a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll, 16 percent of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers said that Gingrich's marital history was not a major reason to oppose him. While a New York Times-CBS Poll found 16 percent of likely Iowa voters identify Romney as the candidate which most represents the values they try to live by, and 11 percent cited Gingrich.
This has left some analysts wondering whether Romney should use a more strident approach when it comes to connecting with caucus-goers who now seem to be flocking to Gingrich.
— By Skivjana Neza
As most of you know by now, Lawrence has been taking some time off after the death of his mother, Frances. She passed away in her home surrounded by her children and grandchildren nearly two weeks ago. She was 93.
The Boston Globe wrote up a nice piece about her role as the matriarch of the O'Donnell family and interviewed our very own Last Word host. Here's an excerpt:
"In our family, my mother was the sophisticate," said her son Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. of Santa Monica, Calif., who hosts "The Last Word" on MSNBC. "She was the one who always went to the Boston Ballet and took us to the theater. She liked the opera and all sorts of things I could never bring myself around to liking."
As matriarch of a family in which work often was conducted in the public spotlight, she emphasized that education was necessary to achieve goals. Limited financial means in her childhood, along with the Great Depression, had kept college beyond her reach, something she determined would not be the case in her own household.
"She was a very strong academic achiever when she went to school, so she was able to help us with homework and academic chores in a way that was very special," her son said. "She was very attentive. I know I could never have achieved anything academically without my mother's attention and help."
Indeed, when her former husband, Lawrence Sr., made the journey from Boston police officer through law school to becoming one of the city's most colorful defense attorneys, it was with his wife's assistance.
"No one should mistake law school for an education," their son said. "It is a training school. My mother was, in fact, the most highly educated person in our family in a real way, and had much better academic skills than my father did. And that was open and acknowledged, there was no mystery about it. I mean, she helped my father with his college and law school academic studies. She pushed everyone farther academically than her own position allowed her to go at that time."
The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell airs at 10pm ET, Monday through Thursday on MSNBC. The show channels O'Donnell's extensive background in politics and entertainment.
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