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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Six Officers Shot; Oops, We Deported Your Daughter; Santorum Surge; Pentagon Plans For Smaller Army; Friday: Big December Jobs Report; Big Year For Big Three Automakers; Corporal Punishment?; Next Stop: New Hampshire; Nick Cannon Suffers Kidney Failure; New Girl Scout Cookie "Savannah Smiles"

Aired January 5, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: EARLY START, 6:00 a.m. Good morning, everybody. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are bringing you the news from A to Z. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east so let's get started here. Six police officers shot while serving a search warrant in Utah for drugs. One of them has now died.

BANFIELD: Also making news, if you are watching television today, expect to hear news about this and maybe how we won't see as many of these pictures anymore.

The Pentagon is going to cut thousands of troops and cut back on the military budget by a lot. You will find out the details and what it means.

SAMBOLIN: And a missing teenager deported by mistake. It's picture of her there. The family says she was sent to Colombia where she did not speak the language. She didn't anyone either.

BANFIELD: Yikes, big mistake. Also, if you have been watching politics this week, Rick Santorum did real, real well in Iowa and that's translated into real big money.

Like a million dollars worth of money in just the last few days. So can the Santorum surge continue? We are just moving on to the next few states. Has he got the momentum? Has he got the boots on the ground to continue that work that he was about to do?

Seismic changes coming to the military. Today, Defense Secretary Panetta and President Obama are going to address how the Pentagon is going to go about cutting about a half billion dollars from the budget.

It isn't easy, folks. Here's what they are saying they are going to do. Apparently, we are no longer going to be able to fight two ground wars at the same time. Four thousand troops are going to be pulled from Europe.

And about 47,000 marines and troops will be diminished in next five years. All of this, if you are keeping track, comes at a time when, of course, Iran is ramping up a lot of its rhetoric in the Strait of Hormuz becomes a problem.

We are keeping an eye on that. We're keeping an eye on China, too, as it builds up its army. Syria is the thorn in everyone's side as Bashar Al-Assad continues to crack down on protesters there.

What will we do about it, if anything? Chris Lawrence is at the Pentagon, our CNN correspondent. All right, Chris, so no one could imagine for a moment half a million dollars worth of cuts is easy.

Can you walk me through the anatomy of this? Do you have any idea where this comes? Is it base related? Is it high level, low level, what are they going do?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, basically, as one official told me, Ashleigh, it's -- if you think that the greatest danger to the country is right around the corner, you keep the army big right now.

BANFIELD: You would think.

LAWRENCE: You think the greatest danger is really only going to grow in five to 10 years or more, you keep that money in more of the weapons us is testimonies and research and development. That's what you're going to see.

You mentioned 47,000 fewer soldiers and Marines. That's just the start. You can probably add, you know, anywhere 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 more cuts to that.

The issue is they can't afford to keep that size of the military in terms of manpower and fund all the weapons systems that they think are going to be needed in the Pacific to deal with the potential threats there.

BANFIELD: So is this trying to build a better mousetrap and maybe fighting more of a dirty intelligence war than theater war because I would have thought we would have thunk that one out 10 years ago?

LAWRENCE: Yes, but everything that we have heard, you know, from our sources ahead of the president's announcement, you are not going to see cuts to things like special ops, to intel, cyber warfare. Those things are still going to be funded. It is an idea where the military thinks the next war is going to be fought.

BANFIELD: And what about the mood around where you work? The Pentagon is a big, big building. At last statistic, I remember it being I think one of the largest in the world and there are a lot of people that walk those halls. I would think there is a lot of grumbling.

LAWRENCE: Grumbling, yes. I mean, nobody, nobody likes to see their budget cut. You know, it is always OK if it is somebody else's budget but, you know, don't touch mine. So, yes, there's a lot of people who not going to be, you know, necessarily onboard with this. We have already heard, you know, the Army really wants to make sure that they are going to take the brunt of some of these manpower cuts.

They want to space that out because they don't want, you know, to sort of be in a position of trying to actually laying off some of the soldiers you know in a very quick amount of time. They want to space it out and maybe slow down over five, six years.

BANFIELD: Right. Do you like getting up early?

LAWRENCE: I love it. I love it. The only problem is the Starbucks here in the Pentagon is not open this early.

BANFIELD: Dude, we come into work at 1:00 in the morning. Starbucks doesn't even exist on the road on the way here. But thank you for that. I will tap you for more on this if the story develops. Chris Lawrence, thank you.

SAMBOLIN: It's a great attitude to be with us this early morning. He is coming back. Let's bring in Retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. He has 26 years of experience as an intelligence officer in the United States Air Force. Thank you so much, Colonel Leighton, for joining us this morning.

So let's kind of talk where Ashleigh left off there, we were talking about $450 billion that are going to be cut. There is another potential $500 billion in cuts that could be ordered if Congress actually follows through to deeper reductions.

I know that you are concerned about cuts specifically in the Navy and the Air Force. Tell me exactly what your concerns are. What your biggest fear is?

COLONEL CEDRIC LEIGHTON, FORMER MEMBER JOINT STAFF: Well, good morning, Zoraida. The basic fear that I have is if they are going to move to an Asia centric strategy as Chris mentioned in his report.

The problem you are going to run into is, you know, if you don't have the Navy and the Air Force that can handle the long distances, you are going to not be able to be fulfill the needs of that strategy.

So what will happen is right now what we have is the Air Force has already reduced approximately 6,000 of its civilian force. There's also reduced its senior officers considerably. And has offered early retirement to several elements of the senior ranks and it is doing another round of civilian cuts as well.

Same thing is basically happened within the Navy over the last year or so. So what we are looking at is each and every one of these pieces and trying to put it together in a way that makes sense and so with the president's involvement in this.

The hope is that we will have a more modern military that can respond to these forces in a joint and combined fashion. Combined meaning with other countries. So that basically, you know, sums up some of my concerns related to the new strategy.

SAMBOLIN: Well, as lay people, as we see all of these reports about China and Iran building their forces, does it leave us vulnerable? I know a lot of people don't want to fight any more ground wars, but does this make us feel more vulnerable in America?

LEIGHTON: It could. Here's the problem. If you advertise that you are not going to be able to fight two simultaneous ground wars, then people will try to take advantage of that. And the people that I'm talking to about are possibly China, possibly North Korea and possibly an adversary that we don't know about.

Those are the kinds of areas that we need to be very careful with because as we saw with a military that was able to field supposedly able to field two armies to fight two different wars, we have trouble doing Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time.

SAMBOLIN: Let's say -- let's talk a little bit about what Vice President Joe Biden said. It happened in Libya exactly. He said where the U.S. spent just $1 billion, put no boots on the ground, and actually lost no lives. When he says that there's -- that's a new way to deal with the world, do you buy it?

LEIGHTON: Not completely. It depends on the area that we are going into. In the case of Libya, it worked because you have a small population in Libya and you have open desert. It is in many respects from a military standpoint, a bit less complicated than Iraq was.

Obviously, there are lots of tribes in Libya just like they are Iraq, but because of the dynamics of the situation and the fact that you had an indigenous rebellion that was already happening in Libya, you could do it that way.

In Iraq, you didn't have that opportunity assuming that, you know, you go into something like that because of various reasons. You could end up in a scenario where we relive the Iraq war and that would not be something that we would want to do.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Colonel Leighton, thank you so much for getting up nice and early and joining us this morning. We appreciate your perspective.

LEIGHTON: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

SAMBOLIN: Any time. It is 8 minutes past the hour. So the markets rose from earlier losses to close mixed by the end of business day yesterday. The Dow was up 21 points while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 both closed flat.

BANFIELD: But that was yesterday. Today is brand-new day.

Christine Romans is in. If people didn't make money with those up and down arrows you have a story that may get to them. There's a new book about the richest people around. CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is really interesting that that rich story is so interesting that -- the United States would account for more than half of all of the top 1 percent of the world. Isn't that interesting?

SAMBOLIN: Does that mean we will have more "Occupy Wall Streeters" all over the world?

ROMANS: Everyone was tweeting about it with the "Occupy Wall Street." But I'm also here to talk about jobs market. Jobs are going to be big. Jobless claims and also ADP private payroll report later on this morning. Just a couple of hours.

We are expecting this to show the jobs market is healing, folks. So I want you to really be focusing on jobs and how that's going to play out in markets over the next couple of days.

Also, watching a big three turn around. Good news in the auto industry, guys. This is really fascinating.

SAMBOLIN: Wasn't there sort of good news generating at the end of the year?

ROMANS: What we found was the best year for U.S. auto sales since 2008 since the economy collapsed and you know, you have a couple of bailouts to thank for at least holding the line on GM and Chrysler.

But at edmonds.com, car researcher, turns out those investments were good investments for the American taxpayer because now have you U.S. auto sales recovering to 12.8 million and you have U.S. automakers taking over the top spot.

You know, you had Japanese automakers had kind of a rough go of it because of the tsunami and the Fukushima stuff. But, you know, still very good for the U.S. automakers overall and part of the reason is because consumer confidence is slowly coming back. This is a good sign when --

BANFIELD: Very excited. You are almost having -- sounding apologetic. Wonder if the "Occupy Wall Street" folks will want to hear those headlines because they don't like bailouts. Tea Party don't like bailouts and yet, this is news that bailouts may actually be effective in certain circumstance.

ROMANS: In this particular case and people close to the auto industry have always said -- look, they want the auto industry to survive, right? They've also said, look, just make this investment.

We have to like keep these jobs. These automakers hire 25,000. They are hiring. They are rehiring. You know, 25,000 jobs are expected to be added by 2015.

SAMBOLIN: Detroit needs the help apparently because they are shutting down all their police stations.

ROMANS: No. SAMBOLIN: A lot of people there, that's what they survive on. It is good news.

ROMANS: If we are selling cars, we will watch to see if this continues. People are very concerned about Europe and they're very concerned about the next shoe to drop in the economy. Look at auto sales. Things are getting a little bit better.

SAMBOLIN: That's good news. Good news. Thank you, Christine.

BANFIELD: Thank you very much, my friend.

Every morning we also like to give you an early start to your day by getting you up to speed on the news that's happening and actually developing. There will be big stories tonight. We got big stories last night.

So here's what's going on. President Obama expected to announce a new summer jobs program for young Americans who can't find work. White House is hoping to create a quarter million of them between the government, private companies and nonprofits, volunteers take part in the program.

SAMBOLIN: And the government is still working to get back a Texas teen. There she is. She was deported by mistake in 2010. Officials apparently shipped the 15-year-old girl to Colombia after she was arrested and she gave a fake name to police. So even though she is an American citizen she does not speak Spanish. According to the family doesn't know anyone there.

BANFIELD: O.J. getting more expensive today. Not to keep him in a Nevada prison, but to pour into your breakfast glass. The price of orange juice is jumping 9 percent -- apparently dipping into the 20s, those temperatures really having an effect on the crisis of orange juice, 9 percent.

SAMBOLIN: That's awful.

BANFIELD: That's a lot of money.

SAMBOLIN: We start our day with --

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: There is a solution to that. If you drink less orange juice and mix a little bit more vodka, champagne --

BANFIELD: At this hour of the morning?

SAMBOLIN: Checking your coffee cup.

MARCIANO: Come on. Some of us have been up quite a while, 5:00 somewhere. Temperatures across parts of Florida from yesterday, yes, they were cold enough to freeze some of those orange groves. But most of the reports out of the main citrus growers not reporting substantial damage. That's the good news.

It's 18 degrees yesterday in Tallahassee, Gainesville reporting 20 degrees. Those were the record high, low temperatures. In general this morning, temperatures are about 10 degrees warmer than they were yesterday.

Like around Tampa, around freezing mark. Miami, South Beach yesterday, they saw temperatures that were very close to 40 degrees as far as the wind chill is concerned. Talk about the storm across the northeast. Well, not many.

We do have lake peck snows across parts of the northeast, but the other side of the country, we have some temperatures that are blowing out records on the high side. Walla Walla, Washington, 69 degrees. High temperature yesterday for Pendleton, Oregon, seeing 69 as well and 65 in the high country of (inaudible).

Temperatures today look at the midsection, 62 degrees expected in Denver, 61 degrees in Kansas City, 40 degrees in New York City so rebounding there after the chill. One other thing, we had a 5.3 magnitude quake just west of Santa Domingo earlier this morning.

No reports of any sort of structure damage in the city, still getting reports in from some of the outskirts. But initial reports no damage and no injuries but nonetheless, strong shaking reported and it is always a scary thing when it is dark out this early in the morning. Back over to you.

BANFIELD: OK, Rob, thank you for that. Appreciate it.

It is 15 minutes past hour. Time to check the stories making news this morning. The U.S. Armed Forces getting downsized. President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and president Obama will unveil the Pentagon's new military strategy today.

This includes cutting tens of thousands of additional troops. It means the U.S. will no longer be able to fight two ground wars simultaneously.

BANFIELD: And this just in to CNN from Ogden, Utah, one of the six police officers shot and wounded overnight has apparently died from the injuries. All of this happened as those six officers tried to serve a search warrant, drug related warrant. The neighbors could hear the shots.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just sitting in front room watching TV. Heard three pops. Fiancee asked if they were fireworks. And I said, no, those are gunshots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: The rest of the officers are being treated at a local hospital as is the suspect.

SAMBOLIN: And Rick Santorum's strong showing in Iowa paying immediate dividends. The campaign says it raised more than a million dollars in one day after Santorum lost to Mitt Romney by just eight votes in the Iowa caucuses.

BANFIELD: Still ahead, there's a story out there that's going to make a lot of people angry. It was kind of a fun thing. A soldier in full fatigues taking the mike at a Ron Paul excitement rally on the night of the election in Iowa. Well, he got in some trouble and there may be more trouble brewing, we'll tell you why.

SAMBOLIN: And this could be something headed your way. Police station is no longer open 24/7. This is already happening in one of the nation's most dangerous cities. Who's next?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Nineteen minutes past 6:00 in the East. And we're getting an early read on your local news. The local news is actually making headlines right across the country.

SAMBOLIN: So this morning, we have papers from Detroit and Washington. We're going to start in Detroit. "The Detroit Free Press," to be exact. They are in the middle of a budget crisis like every city is across nation, right? So what are they doing?

The Detroit Police Precincts will no longer be open to the public 24 hours day. They're actually going to be closed between the hours of 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 A.M., only open eight hours. And the plan here is to save money, get more cops on the street, but, you know, who's going to be answering the phone when there's a crisis?

The resident community leaders are in an uproar. They're scared to death about what this could mean.

BANFIELD: That's a long time.

SAMBOLIN: High crime --

BANFIELD: 4:00 P.M. to 8:00?

SAMBOLIN: -- in that area. Yes, yes.

BANFIELD: 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 A.M. is when all the crime happens.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BANFIELD: Oh, well.

SAMBOLIN: Very disconcerting.

BANFIELD: I hope that turns around soon.

All right. Here's something completely different. And now for something completely different from "The Washington Times," if you think you're seeing more double strollers out there and more twins, you are right. Because the birth rate apparently in the U.S. is up 76 percent in the last 30 years. And we couldn't resist showing you these adorable pictures, oh.

Apparently, 1 in 30 is now a twin, 1 in 30 children more. And women over 40 apparently are the reason we're having more babies.

SAMBOLIN: I thought it was fertility drugs and --

BANFIELD: It is. And that's -- that's a smart thing. Because a lot of people know that when you have fertility treatments you tend to have more embryos that can be implanted. So, yes, you're going to have twins that way. Or you produce more eggs and you can have twins that way. But also, if you are older, period, you have a higher chance of having twins.

SAMBOLIN: I did not know that. I thought it ran in your familiar.

BANFIELD: Well, that's also just a genetic thing as well. But I had my babies at almost 40. And thank God I didn't have twins. I can barely handle what I've got.

To all you moms -- to al you moms of twins out there, you should be canonized. It's incredible what you do.

Let me switch gears for a minute, because there's a story that we couldn't resist not bringing you. Corporal Jesse Thorsen, did you see him? Ron Paul.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BANFIELD: This all looked like it was in good fun, didn't it? But he could be in some serious trouble for taking to the mike at Ron Paul's post-caucus rally in Iowa. The Army says it's now investigating whether this corporal violated military policy by speaking at the rally.

According to the Department of Defense, and I will quote, "Service members cannot attend political rallies while in uniform. And they can't speak before a political gathering to promote a candidate."

So what's going to happen to Corporal Thorsen now? Here to discuss is National Guardsman Dan Choi, who you may remember was discharged from the military for violating Don't Ask, Don't Tell, a policy that ban gays for serving. That has since been repealed.

But Lieutenant Choi, you make news for so many other reasons as well. You yourself were arrested for handcuffing yourself to -- was it the fence at the White House in protest of Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

LT. DAN CHOI, DISCHARGED FOR BEING GAY: That's right.

BANFIELD: So tell me the story there. What was the charge you faced? I think I remember you were in full uniform. And, by the way, you look very nice coming to our live show location in full dress uniform this morning. But what happened to you?

CHOI: Thank you, again, Zoraida and Ashleigh for having me on the show. It's an honor to be with you in a full uniform of my country. Back then, I was a civilian. I was already discharged from the military as I am now. So we have the full right to wear the entire uniform. So they're not charging for wearing the uniform. They just didn't like the fact that I was protesting and practicing my free speech.

BANFIELD: But they talk about the uniform part of it. Is that just sort of politics thing? Or did they try to work it in to a charge in some way?

CHOI: Not for me.

BANFIELD: Not for you.

CHOI: But I think for the Corporal Thorsen, what really the difference is, he's in the reserves, and I have never endorsed a candidate, particularly in uniform, and I think it's important that we talk about this.

We got a couple thousand. We've got a lot of soldiers coming back from Iraq, veterans. And as we move on with our country, growth and healing, you better believe they're going to have some opinions.

So we had talked about when you think about this, first of all, for all of your viewers, whether they understand the military codes or not, you have to realize that these soldiers, these veterans, fought to protect their constitution. And when they come back home, they are civilians with military, their constitution still protects them.

I can wear this uniform because I'm a civilian. I'm proud of my service, my entire service, so my entire uniform is what you see and I'm -- I'm very proud of that. So when we talk about moral issues, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, or -- drones or endless war, Bradley Manning or any sort of issues that really do affect our national dialogue, I think veterans should stand up and be very proud of their service and talk about it.

BANFIELD: OK. Do they know their rights? And I'm not going suggest for a minute you know everyone's training. But for Corporal Thorsen, he looked like he was having a good time and may have done this somewhat innocently. I'm not going to suggest mens rea here.

But do service members typically get briefed on what they're allowed to do and what they're not allowed to do when in uniform or when on active duty?

CHOI: Yes, they do. And that's the major distinction. When you do something like this and you believe that it's a moral cause you're speaking for, then you should be ready for the consequences. I spoke up and I said that I'm gay. I said the truth. I learned that in the code that I will never compromise my integrity.

BANFIELD: And you're talking about the uniform code of military justice, right? We're talking the same thing --

CHOI: Well, that's --

BANFIELD: -- that applies to him or not? CHOI: Certainly. There's regulations, you put them up there and they do apply to him. But when you talk about when we do anything, when we serve in the military, when we raise our right hand to serve, we are prepared for all the consequences. We are responsible for all of our actions.

And the distinction here that I think people should realize is our military is very different from the militaries around the world in Syria or Egypt. There's a certain political candidate that, you know, the military officers and people will get behind and that's wrong. That's not what we do. I've never endorsed a political candidate and I'm not even in a political party. I don't believe --

BANFIELD: But something tells me you may one day run yourself, my friend. I've been following your progression. I know you re-enlisted as well. And I'm flat-out of time. I really do have a lot more questions for you. But will you come back and join us?

CHOI: I sure will. I'm not running for anything. I'm not running from anything, so --

BANFIELD: Not yet. Dan Choi, thank you very much. And, by the way, you look lovely in that uniform there.

CHOI: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: Well said. Thanks for being with us. He's not running from anything either.

BANFIELD: He's not running from anything. I like that.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-five minutes after the hour. Still ahead, Ron Paul's Twitter slam on John Huntsman. Did you see that? Basically it said, "We found your one Iowa voter."

BANFIELD: Oh, snap.

SAMBOLIN: Paul is now passing the puck. Huntsman responding, talking to CNN. We have it all for you. You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Hi, everybody. Wake up with us. It's 6:29 and you're almost late for work. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. I hope not. Welcome back to EARLY START.

On the agenda in the next half hour, five days to New Hampshire. Romney picking up a huge endorsement. Santorum picking up the fund- raising big time. Not bad.

And we're waking up Joey Pants. And you would only know who that is if you watch us. Well, now you know because we're putting a picture up there. But we try calling him -- I think on day two of our show, was it? Or was it the other one? BANFIELD: Oh, yes. Total bust.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BANFIELD: Yes. It didn't work. That phone call --

SAMBOLIN: He's going to answer the phone today.

BANFIELD: How do you know that?

SAMBOLIN: Because I feel it. I feel good about this, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: I think he would have answered. I think it was our problem. We were dialing and getting, you know, these numbers not in service anymore and I thought maybe he's just given me a bogus number to be nice to get rid of me.

SAMBOLIN: Fair enough (ph).

BANFIELD: But it really is -- it's still a good number. So we'll give it another try and see what's Pants has to say about -- he's huge into politics. He may be a former "Soprano" cast member, but this guy loves his politics. So we're going to find out what he thinks about what happened in Iowa.

Thirty minutes past the hour now. It's to get you up on the big stories of the day.

U.S. military may not longer be able to fight two ground wars at the very same time. The president and the defense secretary are going to unveil a new Pentagon strategy today. It includes cutting a whole bunch of troops to cut defense costs.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: The accused Hollywood arsonist, Harry Burkhart, a German citizen is now charged with 37 counts of arson. Police alleged he set more than 50 fires in an arson spree triggered by his anger over an immigration hearing last week for his mother.

BANFIELD: And I don't know if you missed it, but it's fun. Ron Paul slamming Jon Huntsman with this tweet. "We found your one Iowa voter and he's in Linn precinct five. You might want to call him and say thanks."

Last night, Ron Paul tried to explain this to CNN's Piers Morgan. And Mr. Huntsman responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, that was done, you know, through staff. It was supposed to be good humor. And, I mean, I -- I just didn't think that was a big deal.

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You think he would have learned the perils of ghost written subject matter by now. But I have to tell you at the end of the day, I actually found it to be pretty humorous. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: I love that they are being nice about it. I was expecting at least one of them, maybe the governor, to go like -- oh, snap, no, you didn't. But we didn't get that much out of him.

SAMBOLIN: I don't know that I was expecting that one.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, next stop here is New Hampshire. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are ramping up for round two now. Romney is already in the Granite State and picked up a big endorsement for John McCain. Did you see that?

BANFIELD: Yes. It was kind of found to watch, although I have to admit, John McCain didn't seem like he was on his game. He is such a great campaigner. I just used to love watching the campaign rallies.

But I almost fell like he was a bit, I don't know, just a little different.

SAMBOLIN: Tired.

BANFIELD: It could have been. He had a lot of travel to do.

So, here you go. We got more news about the politics story, too. If you were watching, Michele Bachmann -- some people called this emotional, I didn't think it was emotional. I thought she was very straight to the message. She was very thankful to her God and to her supporters, but said, I'm stepping aside. So I'm out.

Goodbye, Ms. Bachmann. And hello, New Hampshire.

We still got more to go, folks. Let's hear what's ahead with our politics panel.

In New York, Will Cain, columnist of "The Blaze," getting up early for us. And in San Diego, Ruben Navarrette, syndicated columnist with "The Washington Post" writers group. And in Chicago, conservative commentator, Lenny McAllister.

Gentlemen, I got to talk about Rick Santorum for a moment because, well, everything has been all about the money that he's been raising. I want to talk about pork politics because it's very rare that you get to hear someone defending pork, earmarks -- and he does. He's been under a lot of attacks and probably going to get sharper, those attacks, for his defense of pork.

Let's listen and talk on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All I said is what the constitution provides is that Congress appropriates funds. And that's what we do. We appropriate funds -- and as Ron Paul did, as Jim DeMint did, it is about every member of Congress did when you go to Congress, you make sure that when taxes go from your state to Washington, D.C., you fight to make sure you get your fair share back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: OK. Will Cain, I don't know. Is that going to pass mustard with Tea Partiers and people who just hate pork no matter how you explain it?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Depends on if they want to think or not. If they're going to continue voting on emotion and style, and how they perceive somebody to be, then no. But if we are going to continue to look into these candidates and see what they think, yes, it should matter.

You add this to the fact that Rick Santorum voted against NAFTA. He's basically anti-free trade. He advocated for varying corporate tax rates on different industries, picking winners and losers. And you come up with the conclusion I don't see how Rick Santorum checks the boxes at these conservative purists at least on economic issues.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Lenny, let's switch to you and talk about Rick Perry. He's out. He's in. Romney apparently is happy.

This is what he tweeted yesterday. He said, "In the next leg of the marathon is a Palmetto State. Here we come, South Carolina."

What do you make of this?

LENNY MCALLISTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: You know what, if I were Mitt Romney, I wouldn't necessarily want Rick Perry getting back into this race. I think it was very good move for Rick Perry because, again, we have seen every other anti-Romney candidate make a flub that makes the Tea Party/far right wing of the conservative movement move away from that candidate. And you've already seen it with Rick Santorum and the earmarks statement. We'll see how he does with these debates as a front-runner now.

But if he starts sliding down the polls, who has the money and organization, the volunteers, to get back into this race? Rick Perry. If his floor was Iowa, if his floor was the early debate performances and can move up from here, he has the structure to get back in this race, I think it is a very good move not to quit now.

BANFIELD: Money, money. I'm glad you said that because, Ruben Navarrette, jump in on this with me, some people thought that was not a reassessment of Rick Perry's campaign. That whole nanosecond he was back in Texas, but that it might have been actually met with some additional bucks, that that was, you know, propelled him to jump right back in. And to know he really could make it through South Carolina and Florida.

Do you think that was really the key to the reason he decided to jump back in after the reassessment? Was it a reassessment or was it sort of a re-juicing? RUBEN NAVARRETTE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, rebooting. Another trip to that ATM in Texas. It's possible that this was really a trip to Texas to see how long will you be with me, going back to his donors and saying I intended to go to South Carolina, to go on, to make it to Florida and Nevada. Will you be with me all the way? That may have been what is at work here.

What Mitt Romney -- it's double-edged sword because I almost think Romney needs the field to start thinning out because to some degree, yes, you want to keep them fighting among themselves while you stay up on top. But at some point, he's got to unify the party and why not to begin the process earlier as opposed to later.

So, the sooner the Republicans can center in on Romney as their candidate, if, in fact, that's going to happen, the better it is for Romney.

BANFIELD: That old 25 percent thorn in the side of this candidate. He just can't push that glass ceiling.

Will, I'm going to ask you about this in a little bit but I got to move ahead because we got Soledad's show coming up as well. And we want everybody to keep it here because we have the best political coverage on television. If you didn't see it there -- Senator John McCain is going to join us live on "STARTING POINT" with Soledad. That's coming in the 7:00 hour.

SAMBOLIN: And Soledad has a big show for you this morning. She'll also be talking to Christine O'Donnell. That is scheduled for the 7:00 hour.

The Tea Party darling has endorsed Mitt Romney. But will the rest of the Tea Partiers go along with her is the question.

BANFIELD: So, you know that song -- actually, that's not the one I was thinking. That's our music.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: That's our music, right.

BANFIELD: I thought we were bogey to hear the song of "The Soprano," the theme song, woke up this morning. Joey Pants, this dude loves his politics. And he has no idea his phone is about to ring.

So, we're going to hear how he is first thing in the morning. Does he sleep and think politics? Is he good when he first wakes up? Can he react to what happened in this week in Iowa? You're going to find out in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Not that you like to wake up and get myself a gun but did you watch "Sopranos"?

SAMBOLIN: I did not. We talked about this and this was your reaction.

BANFIELD: You mean, I have already is already forgotten this?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, yes.

BANFIELD: I got a lot of other things on my mind. I am such a "Sopranos" fan.

SAMBOLIN: I know. So, that's why you're choosing to wake somebody up.

BANFIELD: Yes, when I met Joey Pants, I was so excited. I was a bit of a stalker actually because I love those characters. And I said, you know, sometime down the road, would it be OK if I woke you up just to talk on my show. He's like yes, all right. He doesn't know it is this morning.

We tried the other day and it was complete disaster. Yes. Let's give it another go and see if it works. I know the number is good. I did check.

JOEY PANTOLIANO, ACTOR & FILMMAKER (via telephone): Hello.

BANFIELD: Is Joey there?

PANTOLIANO: Yes.

BANFIELD: Joey?

PANTOLIANO: Yes.

BANFIELD: It's Ashleigh and Zoraida.

PANTOLIANO: Oh, my gosh.

BANFIELD: Hi.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning.

PANTOLIANO: Good morning.

BANFIELD: Did somebody else just answer? I feel like we woke someone else up in your house.

PANTOLIANO: That's all right. I had to answer anyway.

BANFIELD: Oh, no. How are you, my friend?

PANTOLIANO: I'm great.

BANFIELD: Tired? Are you on the West Coast or East Coast?

PANTOLIANO: East Coast.

SAMBOLIN: That's a little good news. BANFIELD: It is not terrible. Did you -- I know you love politics. And I know that you have been wrapped up in a number of different campaigns in the past. I'm wondering if had you time to follow hit the time around. Did you watch the caucus necessary Iowa?

PANTOLIANO: No.

BANFIELD: Really?

PANTOLIANO: Yes.

BANFIELD: Do you know who won?

PANTOLIANO: It was to days ago, right?

BANFIELD: It was. Yes. It was a screamer. It was so close. They were eight votes apart, Romney and Santorum.

SAMBOLIN: Do you know who won?

PANTOLIANO: No. I thought Ron Paul was going to win.

BANFIELD: You know what, that's -- then you were following it because he was really one of the favorites and a lot of people -- analysts said he was going to potentially win. Do you like him?

PANTOLIANO: Yes. Remind me Santorum -- what does he --

BANFIELD: You are so asleep.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: I had this conversation with you at dinner and we were talking politics and you knew every player, you knew everything that was going on. Either you are just getting home and are drunk or you are really not a morning person.

PANTOLIANO: You know what, I was -- very restless last night.

BANFIELD: Were you?

PANTOLIANO: I mean, the night before.

BANFIELD: I can't believe you agreed to do this way back when. Well, but I am thankful you did. You are a registered independent I heard, right?

PANTOLIANO: Yes. My wife is kicking me. She is still trying to sleep.

SAMBOLIN: You are lying next to your wife answering your phone? Waking her. We are waking two people up this morning.

BANFIELD: I'm not sure this was a good idea. Hey, did you see the Chris Christie moment? I got to play it quickly when he was backing Romney. He went all "Sopranos" in the supporters in Iowa. Look at this and listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: So, listen, I want to tell you something, I want to tell you something really clearly. I'm in the good mood this morning. I'm feeling happy and upbeat. I love being with Mitt now.

But let me tell you, you people does appoint me on Tuesday -- you don't do what you are supposed to do on Tuesday for Mitt Romney, I will be back, Jersey-style, people. I will be back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Ralphie, this is your governor. Did you like that? Was that all "Sopranos" enough for you?

PANTOLIANO: Did he come back?

BANFIELD: He did not. No. You know. Well, look, they did what he wanted him to do. He didn't have to go back and exercise some muscle.

Do you think you wouldn't do this again sometime? Talk to us real early in the morning?

PANTOLIANO: Yes. The sun is starting to come up.

BANFIELD: We did you a favor. We got you up early.

PANTOLIANO: I feel fantastic. Governor Christie is -- he's threatening the people in Iowa --

BANFIELD: You know what? You got to go back to sleep. Pants, you got to go to sleep. We woke you up way too early.

SAMBOLIN: Pull those covers over your head. We will talk to you next time.

PANTOLIANO: You got to get a better time slot.

BANFIELD: Yes, you are telling us.

SAMBOLIN: I'm love thing time slot. Are you kidding me? So, we'll wake you up again.

BANFIELD: Thanks, Joey. Hey, congratulations on the grandchild.

PANTOLIANO: Oh, Braden, my grandson Braden. Thank you very much.

SAMBOLIN: You take care. We will talk soon.

BANFIELD: I know. That's what we should talk the whole time.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Joey P.

BANFIELD: Still ahead, we are going to talk the Iowa caucus. If you think we are punch drunk now, you should have seen Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, John King and the rest of the lunatics after dark. It was awesome. That's all I can say.

SAMBOLIN: It's great TV, great TV. We will be back with that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Welcome back. So, how long do you think that "Wake Me Up" segment is going to last?

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my gosh. You know, you just never know, right, when you wake somebody up. You just don't know what they're going to say or how they're going to say it.

BANFIELD: It's live TV and it ain't perfect.

Hey, Soledad O'Brien is joining us for more live TV. She's got "STARTING POINT" coming up at the top of the hour. Hello, girlfriend.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, "STARTING POINT": Good morning. What are you going to do when someone is so mad because you woke them up? Did you think about that?

BANFIELD: I do have to do a full disclaimer here, Soledad. We do check with these people long before we call them. Like, this was about a month ago. Just to make sure they're in the club. And if they're in the club, we don't tell them when we're going to call them. I didn't want anyone to think we just call people out of the blue. Extraordinary rudely to do that.

O'BRIEN: One day, someone woke -- you know, some day -- someone is going to be so mad that you woke them up.

SAMBOLIN: We have a button. We have a button just in case. Just in case.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Yes. What you got coming up?

O'BRIEN: I am glad to hear -- all right. Let's me show you what's coming up. "STARTING POINT" for the day, which is about ten minutes away, we're coming to you live from Manchester, New Hampshire this morning, and we're talking to Senator John McCain coming up in our next hour, the two-time winner right here in New Hampshire.

He was hoping he can help Mitt Romney pull it off. We're going to talk about that.

And then, this story, it is crazy. Deported by mistake. The government accidentally sends a runaway teenager, 15-year-old girl, to Colombia. She's an American citizen. She does not speak any Spanish. And, she's not coming back immediately. We will dig into that story and much more coming up in just about ten minutes right here on "Starting Point." We hope you start your morning with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Hi there. It's 6:51. And your wake-up calm didn't come in and your alarm clock didn't go off, so you're late. So, we'll wake you up with some culture shock this morning, shall we? We'll get you caught up on what's trending.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD (voice-over): If you are checking out Google, Nick Cannon is in the hospital. Mild kidney failure. This was tweeted out. Him and his wife, Mariah, in his hospital bed. She says he's got some serious pain. So, we're wishing him well as they suffer through that.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): And do you like girl scout cookies? There is a new Girl Scout cookie out. It's called Savannah Smiles. They're doing this because they're celebrating 100 years of girl scouts. It is cool and crisp. It's a lemon wedge cookie.

So, I went on the Girl Scout's Web site and the most popular Girl Scout cookies, thin mints, followed by samoas, peanut butter patties, Dosey Doe, my favorite, and shortbread. Nine percent of folks like those.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD (on-camera): Shortbread. I didn't even know they do shortbread.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): They do do them. I keep them out of my house. I support them, but I buy the ones that my kids like which are the thin mint.

BANFIELD: You know what, I have bought them a lot in the past, but always at the office, because some colleague of mine says their kid, you know, the girls -- and then, I just leave them at the office and I open them up.

SAMBOLIN: And you don't taste them?

BANFIELD: I'm not a huge cookie fan. I like chocolate chip cookies, but I'm not a huge cookie fan.

SAMBOLIN: I'll remember that.

BANFIELD: French fries, burgers, chicken wings. All that.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: Still ahead, switch gears completely.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BANFIELD: Senator John McCain making some big news yesterday. Look at that love. Giving some serious love to Mitt Romney. Big endorsement. SAMBOLIN: Can Romney win over the Tea Party? Big question. Christine O'Donnell also up in the next hour. You are watching EARLY START. Come back with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(INAUDIBLE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We don't usually cover our own coverage this extensively, but you know it was a special night when the anchors giggling, the pundits are laughing. Wolf Blitzer is resorting to Internet shorthand.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I can only say three letters, OMG.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have lost control.

MOOS: That's the director chiming in. It was a night when the magic wall wasn't always magical.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That would be the key to his success.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wolf?

MOOS: When did it this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will do a little reverse flick.

BLITZER: OK. I see that.

MOOS: When it was supposed to be doing this.

BLITZER: Yes.

MOOS: By the wee hours of the morning, geography started to look like anatomy of the nether regions.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Governor Romney may still eke this out tonight.

MOOS (on-camera): Once an anchor starts getting a little slaphappy, with live with a start slapping even his own network.

(EXPLETIVE DELETED)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We all just given up like --

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: This is like 1:30 and like --

MOOS (voice-over): Election night is when networks trot out their latest gizmos.

KING: If only we had some new high-tech thing had never been seen before.

BLITZER: Do you think we should try something like that?

KING: Oh, look at this, the weeble.

MOOS: Weeble? What's a weeble?

(SINGING) weebles but they don't fall down.

BLITZER: Imagine they're Iowa Republicans that --

MOOS: CNN used its weebles to demonstrate how a caucus works.

KING: If you missed any of this, you can see it on "The Daily Show" later with --

(LAUGHTER)

MOOS: Actually, the weebles reminded us of the cucumber candidates and a psychic snail Stephen Colbert used to predict.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, THE COLBERT REPORT: Who the winner is?

MOOS: CNN actually scooped everyone on caucus night when a couple of Iowa Republican officials named Carolyn and Edith saved the day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I added them a couple of times. Oh, man.

MOOS: They explained a glitch that cleared up the mystery of some missing returns that put Mitt Romney over the top.

KING: If that's are the final numbers --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you mean the numbers don't match?

BLITZER: Well -- I'll explain it --

MOOS: By 3:30 in the morning, caucus coverage was temporarily renamed "CNN After Dark." News music was replaced by Barry White. Anderson wasn't loving this gizmo.

COOPER: Again, with the social media screen. My Lord, this is the third hit. I still don't understand what the hell this thing shows.

MOOS: Anderson had his weebles in a knot.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

(SINGING) weebles but they don't fall down.

MOOS: New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BANFIELD: That was some of my favorite stuff, except when Anderson started like singing porn music. Oh, no! I guess Jeanne left that one out.

SAMBOLIN: I was coming in from my apartment, and I thought, oh, by the time I get in here, everybody will be heading out. I walked in. There was uproarious laughter. It was coming from the control room. It was quite a night. A lot of fun around here.

BANFIELD: And listen, election nights are fun anyway in a wonky kind of way, but this was everybody right off the rails. And so, I wish you could have had like behind-the-scenes camera because it was even trip what you just saw, and she needs package.

SAMBOLIN: But that was fun, right?

BANFIELD: It was, indeed.

SAMBOLIN: So, I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BANFIELD: I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Soledad O'Brien is our "STARTING POINT." She's coming up next. Hey, Sol.

O'BRIEN: Hey. Good morning, ladies. I'm Soledad O'Brien.