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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Huntsman Endorsed by "Boston Globe"; Interview with Eric Fehrnstrom, Mitt Romney's Top Guy; New Hampshire Voters Speak; For Sushi and Country; What's In Store For Your Money?; Candidates Pin Hopes On South Carolina; Video Message Made by Casey Anthony; Cornell High Basketball Video Shows Officials Not Calling Fouls

Aired January 6, 2012 - 07:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Happy to help out anytime. Welcome to our new show. You're watching "Starting Point," and we're coming to you live inside the Airport Diner in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Now, you all know its four days until the primary day here, and our "Starting Point" this morning is a hometown snub. The largest paper in New England passing on Mitt Romney. Backing Jon Huntsman as Romney heads to the South Carolina.

Everybody is waiting for the big jobs report about to come out in about 90 minutes or so. The White House is hoping for some promising news. The candidates waiting to pick it apart if it's not. We're going to bring that to you as it happens.

Also, Casey Anthony's video diaries popped up on the web, and now, there are questions about how to get there. She talks about her new dog, talks about her new computer, but she does not talk about her daughter, Caylee.

Plus, foul play. A video of a high school basketball player literally leveling the other team. It's gone viral. And now, the student who was involved is considered to be a villain. The guy who shot it is getting a lesson in social media.

And for sushi and for country -- how a giant tuna is becoming a source of national pride in Japan.

We got that, plus a big time panel and also one of Romney's top guys talking to us this morning.

Plus, Tyson. This is hysterical. Mike Tyson as Herman Cain. Take a moment to think about that. Tyson as Herman Cain.

All that and much more right here on STARTING POINT.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning is a critical endorsement in the battle for New Hampshire. "The Boston Globe" is backing Jon Huntsman for the GOP nomination. The paper says that the former Utah governor offers the Republican Party an opportunity to renew itself.

So, this morning, we're talking with Eric Fehrnstrom. He's worked with Mitt Romney nearly 10 years. He is his senior campaign adviser -- and he joins us live from Boston this morning.

It's nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us.

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Let's begin with this endorsement. What do you think the impact will be here in New Hampshire?

FEHRNSTROM: Well, Soledad, Boston is a two newspaper town, and "The Globe" has a liberal editorial page. The other newspaper is "The Boston Herald." They have a more conservative editorial page. We were pleased to get the endorsement of "The Boston Herald."

And also, yesterday, there were two newspapers in New Hampshire that announced endorsement for Mitt Romney. One was the "National Telegraph." We were pleased to get that. The other was "The Eagle Tribune."

I think there's a sense, a growing sense Mitt Romney is, one, the best person to lead in the White House on jobs and the economy, and, two, the best equipped candidate to take on Barack Obama and win in November.

O'BRIEN: So that sounds like a really long way of saying, you don't care at all. It doesn't matter.

But I want to read you some clips of this endorsement which is fairly long. Here's the first part. They said this, "Both his supporters and detractors" -- they're talking about Governor Romney -- "suspect that behind the conservative scaffolding is a data-driven moderate who will make practical compromises. But the way Romney has run its campaign is, it's impossible to tell."

That is really, I think, trying to cut to the core of this flip- flopping tag that has really stuck to Governor Romney. How are you going to deal with that?

FEHRNSTROM: Well, you know, actually, I think New Hampshire is a nice laboratory for this primary process and how people react to Mitt Romney, because New Hampshire, or the people of New Hampshire, were front row spectators to Mitt Romney's governorship. They know what he faced when he came into office in 2003.

It was a state that was in recession, a broken budget that was out of balance by hundreds of millions of dollars. And by the time the governor left office four years later, he had completely turned that situation around. The economy was growing. Jobs, not losing them. And, of course, he had balanced the budget four years in a row without raising taxes.

O'BRIEN: Here's another part of this endorsement. They say this: "Already the religious represented by Rick Santorum and Tea Party activists represented by Ron Paul have pushed Romney in unwanted directions. In New Hampshire, Republican and independent voters have a chance through Huntsman to show him to be a sturdier model. Jon Huntsman would be a better president."

But let's talk about that part where they're talking about Romney being pushed in unwanted directions. Isn't it a fact what's happening in this race, where you're seeing, to appeal to the Tea Party, or might potentially, in a general election, start losing more moderate voters?

FEHRNSTROM: No. I think what this race is oriented around is jobs and the economy. That's the number one issue on the minds of the voters, and I think Mitt Romney, Republican primary voters have a candidate who is perfectly credentialed to lead on jobs and to lead on the economy.

You know, Mitt has led in many different enterprises. He turned around the Olympics. He turned the commonwealth of Massachusetts, as I jut explained. He's been a businessman. In fact, that's where he spent the bulk of his career.

And I think these are the qualities of leadership Republican voters are looking for in their next president.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's talk about some of those economic figures you've raised. Romney put up a figure of 100,000 jobs created while he was at Bain. Is that a number you're sticking with?

FEHRNSTROM: Well, when Mitt Romney was at Bain Capital, the company invested in about 100 companies. The three that Mitt Romney talks about most frequently on the campaign trail are some well-known names, like Staples, Sports Authority, Domino's.

O'BRIEN: Right. But he adds them up and says that that adds up to 100,000?

FEHRNSTROM: That's correct. If you ad up the jobs, just those three enterprises alone, the amount exceeds 100,000. But, look, we're happy to have this --

O'BRIEN: Let me stop you there. Hang on one second, then I'll let you finish. And you know, we will have this discussion with Barack Obama. I can guarantee you that, but not this moment.

FEHRNSTROM: Sure.

O'BRIEN: So, you say, you add up those three, that comes to around 100,000 jobs. The dilemma, of course, you add up the other ones, and it doesn't come up to 100,000 jobs.

So, I want to run you a little bit of what the "Washington Post" said. Listen to this: "The 100,000 figure stems from the growth in jobs from those three companies, you mentioned them, Staples, 89,000 jobs, Sports Authority, 15,000 jobs, Domino's, 7,900 jobs. The tally does not include losses from other companies with which Bain Capital was involved, and -- maybe most importantly -- are based on current employment figures, not the period when Romney worked at Bain."

FEHRNSTROM: Well, let's take some of those --

O'BRIEN: So, basically, they're saying, that's a --

FEHRNSTROM: You know, Soledad --

O'BRIEN: Go ahead, I'm sorry.

FEHRNSTROM: -- the Bain record has been examined over a period of many years. It's about four or five companies that critics focus on, which experienced job loss. That's not unusual in the private sector. Those numbers add up to maybe 4,000 or 5,000 in toto. If you want to subtract from 100,000, be my guest.

But let's look at the record of this president. He has a net job loss of nearly 2 million. There are 25 million Americans who are unemployed, who can't -- who had stopped looking for work or maybe stuck in part-time work when they want a full-time job.

This is going to be a central -- a central message of Mitt Romney's campaign, and we -- we invite the comparison of the two records.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Eric, it's Ron Brownstein, "The National Journal." Good morning.

FEHRNSTROM: Good morning, Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: I want to ask you about a different set of numbers the Tax Policy Center which as you know -- good morning -- Tax Policy Center, which does comprehensive analysis of candidates going back several years put out their assessment of Mitt Romney's tax plan yesterday.

They said that 99 percent of millionaires would receive a tax cut averaging about $150,000. People who are lower middle class, only about a third of them would receive any tax cut at all. They said, maybe as many as 1/6 to 1/5 in some cases would actually see their taxes increase.

Do you dispute their conclusions about the impact of your plan? And if so, will you release your own analysis with specifics how you think your plan will affect people at the different income ladder?

FEHRNSTROM: Right. Thank you, Ron.

Mitt Romney's plan does not raise taxes. Let's be clear about that point. He has proposed not only --

BROWNSTEIN: On anybody?

FEHRNSTROM: Not on anybody.

He's proposed dramatic spending cuts that will reduce the deficit, of course, and he's put on the table some very pro-growth tax policies, permanently extend the Bush tax cuts. Dramatically cut the corporate tax. He will target relief to the middle class.

I think what the Tax Policy Center is focused on is temporary tax provisions of the stimulus that are due to expire anyway under the terms of the legislation that was signed by President Obama. To somehow attribute that to Mitt Romney is unfair, in my view.

BROWNSTEIN: And in terms of kind of the magnitude of the tax savings, when you look at the tax savings, simply by extending the Bush tax cuts and other provisions you have, they argue that most of the benefits are in fact going to the upper brackets. Do you dispute that?

FEHRNSTROM: Well, what we tried to do with Governor Romney's tax plan is to target relief to the middle class. We had said specifically to those people who make less than $200,000 a year, we will eliminate the tax on capital gain, interest income and dividends. This is meant to help out a class of people who have been most damaged by the Obama economy.

JAMES PINDELL, WMUR: Eric, it's James Pindell from WMUR, local affiliate TV station here in New Hampshire.

BROWNSTEIN: He may have heard of it.

PINDELL: I think he's been to the station a few times.

You know, Eric, a pure political question for you today. As you look at the path of the nomination, what made you happier this week -- the win in Iowa or the fact that Rick Perry is still in this race?

FEHRNSTROM: Well, six weeks ago in Iowa, nobody gave Mitt Romney a chance of winning the caucuses. In fact, I don't think Mitt Romney has been a front runner that state for the entire 2011 year. So, we were thrilled with the outcome. We're hoping for a more comfortable victory in New Hampshire, but we're not taking anything for granted.

I know the polls are very favorable to Mitt Romney, but we're running as if Mitt Romney is three points behind. He understands that in New Hampshire, you have to work hard to earn every vote, and that's exactly what he intends to do.

PINDELL: You know -- the debate stage Saturday night and Sunday, you have a situation where Ron Paul is in second place in New Hampshire polls. But everyone is talking about Rick Santorum. Who's your biggest opponent on that debate stage?

FEHRNSTROM: Well, we take all of our opponents seriously. Ron Paul has a very passionate and committed base of supporters, but his foreign policy views are way outside the mainstream.

Rick Santorum is also a fine person, but his experience is different than Mitt Romney's. His experience is in Washington's world. Mitt Romney's experience is in the real world. And I think that when voters make their choice, they're going to be looking for somebody who comes from outside Washington, whose experience has been mainly in the private sector creating jobs. That's why we think at the end of the day, they're going to choose Mitt Romney as their nominee.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: This is Neera Tanden from the American Center for Progress in D.C.

One question I had, the "Boston Globe" this morning talked about the need to kind of kowtow to the Tea Party. And one thing I wanted to ask you, at the beginning of this process, Governor Romney seemed to try not to embrace the Ryan budget and then a few weeks ago, he attacked Newt Gingrich on the Ryan budget, saying he wasn't embracing it then fully embraced the Ryan budget. And just, I just want to make clear that you fully endorse the House Republican budget proposed by Ryan that had dramatic cuts and entitlements in reshaping of spending, right?

FEHRNSTROM: No. I think the aversion of events is incorrect. When the Ryan budget came out, and most of the question in focus was on the Medicare reforms in that plan, Governor Romney applauded those changes. He said he would have a plan of his own, but he thought that Paul Ryan was going in the right direction.

Subsequently, Mitt Romney did come out with his Medicare reforms -- by the way, the only candidate who have addressed that entitlement. And what he has said is, to take that Ryan plan one step further. He likes the idea of giving premium support to our seniors, but he would also keep in place the existing traditional Medicare system as a choice.

And then subsequent to that, Paul Ryan adopted the Mitt Romney template, blueprint for Medicare, and that seems to be the discussion that's taking place now in Washington.

So we're happy to have contributed to that debate and we look forward to implementing the governor's reforms when he's elected president.

O'BRIEN: Eric Fehrnstrom, thanks for talking with us this morning. Appreciate your time.

FEHRNSTROM: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: We're going to turn now to CNN's Christine Romans. She is live for us at CNN headquarters with a look at the day's other stories.

Hey, Christine. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad.

The Air Force Academy this morning charging three of its cadets with sexual assault. Charges may be filed here. Officials say the cadets were involved in three unrelated cases at the academy in Colorado Springs over a period of 15 months. Just last week, the Defense Department report cited a sharp increase in sex-related attacks at the nation's military academies.

Syrian state television this morning reports a suicide bomber set off an explosion that killed and wounded dozens of people near a school in a densely populated area of Damascus.

The Obama administration reportedly set to announce new regulations that would allow certain undocumented immigrants -- another story -- to remain in the country while applying for citizenship. Now, this si designed to keep families intact, specifically families who have legal residence, may have the added benefit, of course, of shoring of the president's support among Latino voters.

And has Penn State found the man to succeed Joe Paterno as the school's head football coach? Reports say New England Patriots offensive coordinator, Bill O'Brien, interviewed with school officials yesterday in State College, Pennsylvania, and said to be a significant step in the search for the Nittany Lions new head coach.

And watching your money this morning. The government's big jobs report for December comes out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Now, economists surveyed by CNN Money expect 150,000 jobs were added to the economy in December, and the unemployment rate ticked up a bit to 8.7 percent.

I want to show you, Soledad, how that fits into the overall pictures. These are jobs now added in 2011. You can see, this would be six months of job creation over 100,000 a month. Six months in a row.

Soledad, the first time that has happened since 2006 -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: I know later this morning, Christine will take a close are look at exactly what kinds of jobs are being added, and the political implications of that as well.

I want to hear from other voters this morning. Going to talk to folks at the diner how they're feeling about where the country is going. And the people they want to lead it.

And some calling South Carolina's Tea Party kingmaker. He hasn't endorsed anybody yet. But we're going to see if he's ready to do so.

Casey Anthony resurfacing on a new video on YouTube. And today, there are questions about how it got online and what she's saying in it. This morning, her family speaking out. That's when STARTING POINT continues.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: One of the best things about spending a morning inside a diner is you have an opportunity to talk to people who come to have breakfast and pick their brains about what they're thinking about in New Hampshire's upcoming primary.

So I've got Josh Lunderville (ph) joining me this morning. Josh, you're 21 years old.

JOSH LUNDERVILLE (ph), NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: That's correct.

O'BRIEN: Where do you stand politically?

LUNDERVILLE (ph): Right now, I'm pretty much undecided. I think I might know who I'm voting for. Thinking probably Ron Paul. He seems to be consistent through his 30-year run through Congress.

O'BRIEN: What's that thing that's appealing to you about Ron Paul?

LUNDERVILLE (ph): He cares about my generation. I know that the young voters are uninspired. We don't know what to do. A lot of us are lost.

O'BRIEN: How much is education playing a role or the cost of education, is it better (INAUDIBLE)?

LUNDERVILLE (ph): Oh, my gosh, yes. Education, the cost of education is a huge thing. I know I left school. I'm a junior. I was forced to leave school because I can't afford it anymore. I had to come home, help up my parents. My father's a veteran, 20 years in the Navy. And he's now almost four years unemployed.

And i feel like we've lost everything. We've lost the real drive of what America means.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask Carla. Do you - are you feeling the same way? Do you feel that sort of lack of inspiration?

CARLA (ph), NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: At this point I'm undecided. I'm feeling very unsure exactly who I'm going to vote for. There's really not a candidate that's resonating with me. This time around it's very unusual.

O'BRIEN: You're a mom?

CARLA (ph): I am a mom.

O'BRIEN: What's your big issue?

CARLA (ph): My big issue is the economy, as well as I'm - I would say more generally I'm looking for candidates that can get along, that are able to go and enact laws (ph) without polarizing on extremes.

O'BRIEN: So this campaign must be challenging, because everybody's really fighting pretty much every day. I want to bring you down to Bill (ph) - so, thank you, by the way. I appreciate it.

Let me interrupt your breakfast. Over here is Bill Smith. I think it's this gentleman right here. Hey, good morning.

BILL SMITH (ph), NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: Hi. Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Nice to see you. So tell me a little about yourself. Where do you stand politically?

SMITH (ph): Politically I'm conservative for the most part. I'm voting in the primary more as a strategic maneuver because I'm not energized by anybody that's running. Recently I decided to vote for Governor Romney mainly because I think he gives us the best chance of beating President Obama in the fall.

O'BRIEN: Who would be the most inspirational? I mean, what would a candidate have to say to make you think, yes, I'm going to throw myself behind this person, because I love them so?

SMITH (ph): That's a - that's a great question, because I've been waiting to hear that and I've been unsure that anybody's going to say it. I think that things are so depressed out there for people economically, that right now they're just looking for anything. And I think that I probably am waiting for more because I've been such a political geek since I was about 10 years old. I think I want more than the average person.

O'BRIEN: All right. Bill Smith (ph), thank you very much.

So a lot of the things you're hearing - or the things that you're hearing here this morning are the things that we have been hearing over the last couple of days here in New Hampshire. People are feeling disaffected. They're feeling uninspired. And it would be interesting to see how it plays out in New Hampshire primary coming up in about four days.

Ahead this morning, more from STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back. It's time for this morning's "Get Real."

We're talking about the power and the price of sushi. By now you probably heard about that blue-fin tuna has set a record at auction in Japan. It's a massive fish, 593 pounds. It sold for almost 57 million yen, which is roughly $736,000.

Now, the guy who bought this, a guy named Kiyoshi Kimura, he is the owner of a big sushi chain but he's going to end up losing a lot of money in the deal. And this is why. Typically, a piece of blue-fin tuna sushi sells fro about $75 a piece apiece. But Kimura says he's going to sell his sushi for $5 a piece. So that will be a loss of roughly $600,000.

Here's why. Kimura wants to make 10,000 pieces of high-grain sushi available to the people of Japan. He calls it a goodwill gesture in the wake of the devastating tsunami that happened back in March and we think that is very real.

Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, Casey Anthony, yes, she's back in the news. We're talking about her future and she's talking about her future which appeared on YouTube. Of course, the question is, how did it get there? We're going to hear from her family's attorney as well.

And Congressman Tim Scott, he is known as a Tea Party kingmaker in the State of South Carolina. He's going to join us to talk about which Republican candidate he'd like to support and who could win with a big win for South Carolina voters. That's straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome back to our show, STARTING POINT. I'm Soledad O'Brien and you are looking at us live inside the Airport Diner in Manchester, New Hampshire.

That's a very, very good menu, by the way, if you're here, find yourself in Manchester, that's what you want to see.

We're talking this morning to the man who many called the Tea Party's new kingmaker, Congressman Tim Scott. The road to the GOP nomination could very well run through his district on his home turf in South Carolina. We'll hear what he has to say.

And Casey Anthony, yes. Casey Anthony again has got a new life, got a new dog, but there's no mention of her daughter Caylee. We're going to talk about her new video diary that popped up on the web. Notice that it is in black and white. That's interesting.

But, before we get to any of that, let's get right to CNN's Christine Romans. She's live at CNN Headquarters. Got a look at the day's other top stories for us. Hey, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Soledad.

Deported by mistake and now coming home, the Columbian government handing over 15-year-old Jakadrien Turner to U.S. Embassy officials today. She was deported after running away from home about a year and a half ago.

In the next hour, we'll talk with Jakadrien's mother and her attorney.

Police in Southern California believe a serial killer is stalking the homeless. They say three men living on the streets have been killed over a 10-day period last month.

And Sunday marks one year since the deadly shootings in Tucson, Arizona. Six people were killed and Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford suffered a near fatal head injury.

Christina Taylor Green was the youngest victim. Last night, her parents talked to CNN's Piers Morgan about how they have managed to cope.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROXANNA GREEN, MOTHER OF CHRISTINE TAYLOR GREEN: I was thinking that it was a nightmare and I was going to wake up. So I kept on pinching myself and hoping that it wasn't real, but it was horrendous. It is horrible.

Days after that, I would go to her room and hope to find her in her room. But you know, obviously, you know that it is real, and you just day by day, you know, you just try to cope.

U.S. stock futures this morning pointing to a higher open. Right now ahead of the opening, the big December jobs report that comes out next hour at 8:30 Eastern Time. Dow, the Nasdaq, the S&P 500 futures, all up right now.

And Soledad, if forecasts hold true, it will be six months in a row of 100,000 jobs created or more in this economy, and this economy is so beaten down, that has happened since 2006.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: When are we expecting to hear those numbers at 8:30, right?

ROMANS: At 8:30 Eastern, yes.

O'BRIEN: All right, Christine, thanks.

So after New Hampshire's primary comes South Carolina. It's the first southern primary and it's really important when it comes to electability because if you go back to 1980, every Republican who's won there went on to become the party's nominee.

Mitt Romney will again spend the day in South Carolina where he got the big endorsement of Governor Nikki Haley. So joining our panel is Tea Party champion and Republican Congressman Tim Scott of South Caroline.

Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us this morning. We certainly appreciate it. Let's talk numbers, first and foremost. You look at Tea Party support in Iowa. For Governor Romney, it was 14 percent, low, low, low. Senator Santorum that was pretty high at 29 percent.

Then if you move to New Hampshire, he's polling high among Tea Partiers roughly I think 47 percent. So in South Carolina, give me a sense how people are leaning.

REPRESENTATIVE TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I tell you what, today over half of the Republican voters are undecided. So that means that Governor Romney has a very strong opportunity to make headway in this state.

But it also means that Santorum as he's surging, he has an opportunity to make headway as well. With Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich staying in the race and being in the race --

O'BRIEN: But that's the non-answer -- that's a non-answer answer, right?

SCOTT: I think that was a great answer for you.

O'BRIEN: As the guy -- it was very good, but I'm going to ask it again. For the guy --

SCOTT: Yes, ma'am.

O'BRIEN: For the guy who's running the Tea Party and a kingmaker as I love to call you and the rising star as they love to call you, give me the vibe on the Tea Partiers in South Carolina. Who are they going to go with?

SCOTT: Soledad, I'm a country boy trying to find a way to make this country stronger and what the Tea Party really wants is a president who understands how to make things happen because he has a vision for this nation.

Not one that's reading a textbook on how to govern. I would tell you this. At the end of the day, conservatives want a person who matches our values and who beats Barack Obama. So that combination, we are still looking for the answer.

O'BRIEN: That combination is?

SCOTT: That person -- may be you, but I'm not quite sure. Here what I will tell you.

O'BRIEN: You clearly do not know me well at all.

SCOTT: The next 10 days what you'll see happen, as we get closer to the 21st, South Carolina and South Carolinians will solidify our position behind a candidate and we will rush towards the finish line and after we finish this primary process, we will come together and with whomever our candidate is, go out and get a new president and have Christmas in November of 2012.

O'BRIEN: Who are you supporting? I know that when you throw your support behind a candidate, it can make a big difference. So, Mr. Kingmaker, Mr. Rising Star, who are you supporting?

SCOTT: I will tell you that the rising stars of our state are the everyday constituents who give me an opportunity to be here with you today actually.

O'BRIEN: You are so smooth.

SCOTT: -- the next two weeks obviously. I'll make that decision. What they're going to do -- here's what's going to happen. We have done a very good job since 1980 and my hope that the voters in South Carolina will consistently do so.

And to give you a preview what's going to happen. Next Saturday on the 14th, hopefully we'll have all the candidates on one stage and we'll have an opportunity to have another town hall with these guys being able to take their message to the people.

I believe that after the 14th going into the last week of the primary process, we'll be in a position to say whom we're going to support and perhaps even come out with an endorsement.

O'BRIEN: OK, so I know you've been having get-togethers with some of the candidates. I think I'm right in saying you spoke to Michele Bachmann and she's out of the race. I believe you sat down with Governor Huntsman.

SCOTT: Yes, ma'am. O'BRIEN: I believe Mitt Romney is scheduled set to sit down and talk to you. What do you want to hear that would make you support Governor Romney? He'd have to say, what?

SCOTT: Well, certainly, well, Mitt, holding the town hall series, they've all done a town hall series except for Ron Paul. I will tell you that what I'm looking for in a president is A, someone's whose value system is consistent with mine, someone who understands a vision for America is far more important than the divisive nature of the current presidency.

I will tell that what you I need in a president who someone who simply understands how to create jobs and how to reduce government regulation so that we free the individual, not so that we coddle and protect the individual.

We need to free the individual and unleash that person for the health of our future.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Congressman, good morning. Ron Brownstein from "National Journal." I want to ask you about this from a differ angle. South Carolina is very conservative Republican state, a strong Tea Party state.

But ever see Lee Atwater engineered the moving up of the South Carolina primary in the 1980s, it's more often than a firewall for the establishment candidate, George H.W. Bush in '88, Bob Dole in '96, John McCain in 2008.

Is there any reason to think it will not fall the same way this time and ultimately favor the establishment candidate, in this case, Mitt Romney?

SCOTT: I think the reason to believe that this year is going to be a very important year and a very different year is because the stakes are higher than they've ever been before.

The fact of the matter is, we are at that crossroads in the country, as country. We need to pick a president who moves us back towards capitalism, pick a president who leads us towards the future where the American dream is whole and it is healthy.

That candidate will emerge out of the field that we currently have in the Republican Party and will go on to become our nominee and the president of the United States in November of 2012, this year.

O'BRIEN: But if the stakes are higher, how come we're not seeing more enthusiasm? You know, I was talking to a bunch of people, I'm in a diner this morning as you can tell, the people are like, I mean, they just really literally would say they're not feeling inspired by the frontrunner and everybody else to some degree. Isn't this going to be a huge problem? Isn't an inspiration about bringing people out to vote?

SCOTT: I think these men are still painting the picture of the America that could be under their leadership. We need to finish the picture. I think once the picture is finished, what you'll see happen is you'll see the team, the Republican team, the conservative base, along with the independents, lining up to support the candidate who best articulates how we're moving this economy forward.

How we're freeing the individual and how we're going to limit the role of government in our lives so that we have the best shot at remaining the superpower that we have been and we continue to see folks coming to this country because they understand opportunity is alive and well.

JAMES PINDELL, WMUR-TV: Congressman, this is James Pindell from WMUR, the New Hampshire television station. You know, one thing that struck me, no matter how topsy-turvy this election may be, we're still ending up possibly with the establishment candidate in a conservative upstart.

But when I talk to Tea Party members in New Hampshire, they're confused who that person is. Ron Paul is in second place. Rick Santorum is obviously has a lot of momentum. In your state, there's Rick Perry.

After New Hampshire, will there be one candidate against Mitt Romney or the Tea Party continues to have a splintered decision?

SCOTT: Well, there's no question that we have variety is the slice of life. I think you'll see heading into the South Carolina, you'll see all three of the current candidates still in the race having some hope and some optimism about why they're going to be the one that takes on Mitt Romney.

But I wouldn't make it that simple. I believe that each candidate has an opportunity to show why they should be the conservative choice. We believe that all four candidates we've talk about to include Ron Paul, all five candidates, are simply more conservative than Barack Obama, our current president.

So we'll be behind someone. There will not be any kind of division once we get through the primary process. We will be united to see our vision of a better, stronger, and more free America coming to fruition.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Hi. This is Neera Tanden from the Center for American Progress here in D.C. One question I have is I hear you that these candidates are more conservative than President Obama.

But who speaks more for conservatives, just between Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich? Between those two alternatives to Governor Romney, who, you know, many people feel is too moderate to represent Tea Party voters, who amongst those two really represents, you know, the people you talk to every day, the activist wing of the Republican Party?

SCOTT: It's a difficult question to ask. There's no question that Newt led the revolution that brought the majority back to the Republican Party. When you look at Santorum's record, he has been a social conservative without question. We've seen both candidates have taken shots at what the definition of a conservative should be. I will tell you that it's very difficult to see a line of delineation between the two candidates that say this one's more conservative.

I would say that you're looking for a social conservative. More voters would probably suggest that Rick Santorum is more conservative on social issues than Newt Gingrich, but I

would tell you this. At the end of the day, what we're looking for is a well rounded candidate who represents the future of America and who takes this 8.6 unemployment rate and moves it back down to 5s.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Tim Scott with us this morning. It's nice to chat with you. Appreciate it very much.

I want to remind everybody, if you're really interested in what's happening in South Carolina, CNN is going to be releasing a new, the first post-Iowa poll comes out at noon Eastern Time today from CNN.

We're going to be looking forward to seeing what that says, very revealing. Back in early December, it looked like Newt Gingrich had a big lead.

We also want to mention, Jon Huntsman, who's got this endorsement in his pocket. Now, he's going to be Wolf Blitzer's guest on "THE SITUATION ROOM" and, of course, that's at 4:00 Eastern here on CNN then "JOHN KING USA" at 6:00 Eastern. Ron Paul will be joining him to go one on one with that.

Still ahead here on STARTING POINT, yes, Casey Anthony, we're still talking about her. It's kind of bizarre. Have you seen this new video? A YouTube video that's resurfaced. We're going to talk to psychologist, Jeff Gardere about the odd things that Casey Anthony says in this video.

And then, who are the new bad boys of basketball? Not in the NBA. Not in the college ranks. Take a look at some of this. Watch this shot. My God, the viral video, has put the spotlight on high school basketballers, we talk about that story straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Casey Anthony is in the news today. We're talking about her in the diner, for the first time seeing her since acquitted of murdering her daughter, Caylee.

That was about six months ago. Now in this video, she's sporting a new look. It's a video message that surface on YouTube. She never mentions her daughter, Caylee, but she talks about her future, listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASEY ANTHONY, ACQUITTED OF DAUGHTER'S DEATH: It's just a little surreal how much things have changed since July and how many things haven't changed. The good thing is that things are starting to look up and things are starting to change -- and go away, which is what they say, the things stay good and that they only get better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Jeff Gardere is a clinical psychologist. He's in New York this morning.

What do you make of this? It's so weird. It's weird, because black and white. It's weird the way she's talking. It's just weird, is my take. What do you think?

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: A lot of people, Soledad, use video diaries in order to try to work out their own issues just as people back in the day used diaries to express a lot of their thoughts. But we're talking about someone who's around 25 years old. By that age, you're talking about someone who includes the world, includes other people in the universe as part of her environment. Casey, in this particular case, only speaks about herself. Totally narcissistic. Totally self-centered. And really the most amazing thing, as you pointed out earlier, she never mentions her daughter, her daughter who's dead. Any parent who loses as child, that is at the forefront of their mind, and she does not mention it, not even once.

O'BRIEN: Let's play, Jeff, for folks, the clip where she sort of talks about mine, me, mine, mine, this is mine, it becomes to me. Here's a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY: It's been a long time since I've been able to call something mine. And now that I have something even as silly as saying I have a computer, and a camera and a phone rented. And I wouldn't have the phone without (INAUDIBLE). And I've actually now paid for my own computer. The camera was a gift, but these are things that are mine. And I don't have to -- I don't know. That I don't have to give back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So.

GARDERE: Hmm.

O'BRIEN: A big question -- I know. I might be making up this number, but I think I read it was 40 times she said mine in this four-minute video, which would be a lot. Video diaries, you mentioned, someone could be processing, or when it's someone who's notorious and famous, it could be something that you're creating to sell. What do you think about the potential of that? And on the other side, I'll tell you what her parents have -- parents' lawyer said this morning.

GARDERE: I certainly do think, in her own immature way, and certainly, she sounds like a little girl, even though she seems like she's more grown up. She's trying to get more of a mature look. But this is someone who I truly believe is stuck in her own childhood. And the fact that she keeps saying, mine, mine, mine, mine, I finally have something that I can call mine. Well, what about your daughter, Caylee? Your dead daughter? Wasn't she yours? And why, again, are you not mentioning that?

And this whole idea of, OK, this is a video diary. I want to share my thoughts with the world. I want to work out my issues. That's what most people do, Soledad, but here, she even announces by the end of this video diary that there are going to be more of these things coming out. So is this really therapy or is this more a coming attraction?

O'BRIEN: Yes!

GARDERE: There will be more for you guys out there. That is so self- centered, so narcissistic to think we really want more. I think people are looking at it, more because they're fascinated and disgusted at the same time. She's not doing herself any favors.

O'BRIEN: Well, but -- or getting paid for it? The guy who actually ended up uploading this said he had to hit a bunch of pay walls first and then eventually worked around it. And he was talking to "Nancy Grace" basically said, eventually you could find it for free online. That's how he uploaded it.

I want to play you a little chunk from Mark Glickman, the attorney for Casey Anthony's parents. Here's what he said this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK GLICKMAN, ATTORNEY: They're really -- I guess the best word is ambivalent. They don't know the context of what this video was for. It doesn't seem to be apparent. A lot of people were speculating that it was put out there for some sort of financial gain. It doesn't seem to be targeting any specific audience, especially -- it's not a tease in any way. So they really don't understand what the context of it was or who the audience, if it was just for Casey herself and somehow it was leaked.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So they use the word ambivalent. That's kind of an odd word for someone's parents whose daughter has just been acquitted and is -- I mean, ambivalent?

(LAUGHTER)

GARDERE: Her parents, who know her better than anyone in the world, are ambivalent about this. In psychology speak, when we say ambivalent, we don't really know what the heck is going on and we're not really feeling this video. We are not endorsing this in any way and we don't know why she's doing this. and maybe what she's doing is not an honest and a genuine thing. I think that's what the parents are saying. And I find it amazing she didn't mention her parents as part of the healing process, even though she's estranged.

So, even if there is not a money motive at this particular time, when we're looking at Casey Anthony, someone who many experts, including myself, have said that this is someone with a personality disorder, perhaps borderline, perhaps narcissistic, I think it just gives much more credence to that. And money may not be the motive now, but she's placed herself in the public eye because she knows, at some point, she is going to make money and she just doesn't want to go away. This is a woman who was found not guilty of murdering her daughter.

(CROSSTALK)

GARDERE: Well, I was going to say, this is a woman found not guilty of murdering her daughter, but a lot of people think she just got away with it. So just go away.

O'BRIEN: It sounds like more installations. And we can't wait to hear what else she has to say.

GARDERE: We'll see.

O'BRIEN: Jeff Gardere, thanks, as always.

GARDERE: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a high school basketball game in the Pacific Northwest gets very, very ugly. We're going to show you why the man who put it on the Internet for everyone to see now says he's sorry he did it.

Big job's report for December comes out in just about 30 minutes. We're expecting it at 8:30 a.m. eastern time. CNN's financial expert, Christine Romans, will tell us what it means for the economy, for the 401Ks and politically.

And a teenage girl from Texas is mistakenly deported to Columbia despite the fact that she is an American and she is 15 years old. They are expecting her home very soon. We will talk to her mom, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We're inside the Airport Diner in Manchester, New Hampshire. That is breakfast. And I have to tell you from personal experience, it not only looks good, it is good.

Welcome back. OK, guys, have you seen this videotape? Take a look. Seriously, roll the tape so they can look inside this camera. This is a game at Cornell High School. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Did you see that? He literally clothes-lined the guy. He literally clothes-lined the guy. He runs. The Cornell team is in white. Look at that shot.

L.Z. GRANDERSON, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: Yes.

O'BRIEN: So high school basketball team, and a guy, whose nephew plays on the team, posted this video to YouTube because his goal was to show parents that he felt that the officials weren't really calling the fouls. The officials were saying -- look, after that, they called holding.

(LAUGHTER)

I know, like, this much about basketball. Even I know that wasn't holding. Well, talk about this and also bring L.Z. Granderson. He's a senior writer and columnist for "ESPN" magazine. Ron Brownstein is back for us and as well.

L.Z., why don't you start?

What the heck was that?

L.Z. GRANDERSON, SENIOR WRITER & COLUMNIST, ESPN MAGAZINE: That's a flagrant foul, that's what it is. The kid should have been kicked out.

(LAUGHTER)

Here's why. You know, basketball is a physical sport. It's a contact sport, but it's not an impact sport. And what we're watching are impact fouls. The guy is physically trying to intimidate and bully and not just be physical with the player. And, you know, he's 6'3", 280 pounds. The guy should have been kicked out because one of those kids could have gotten seriously hurt by one of those fouls.

O'BRIEN: Every single time I see this -- I mean, he literally -- that one clocks him in the face, practically. Another one, where he clothes-lined. The kid's feet are probably four feet off the ground. It's absolutely shocking.

But what is more shocking is what the coach had to say, L.Z., which was that he feels that the kid is a good kid. He says a teddy bear. This is the player, the 6'3", 200-whatever player, is a teddy bear. And he basically says he's the victim in this.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the victim or not, the answer is, we don't know, right? This is kind of like, this is kind of like the --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: What do you mean you don't know?

BROWNSTEIN: We don't know anything about this kid. We know five seconds of what we've seen. and the way the modern world works, with YouTube, and things going viral, is your worst moment as an individual, as a private citizen, is going to be -- is going to be what ultimately expands around the world. O'BRIEN: I've got to say I disagree.

OK, roll the tape while Ron is talking.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Go ahead, L.Z.

BROWNSTEIN: Who knows?

GRANDERSON: It's not five seconds, though. The video is actually five minutes long.

(CROSSTALK)

GRANDERSON: I mean, he accumulates about five fouls in a 10-minute time.

(CROSSTALK)

GRANDERSON: So, you don't know him personally. You don't know his personality.

BROWNSTEIN: The kid -- look, it's obvious, ridiculous. Flagrant foul, as you say. When you look at something like this, you know, it's hard enough to deal with growing up without it becoming viral or discussed on a cable morning show. That's kind of the world that we're in, I think, Soledad. Where individuals that are picked out of the mass and kind of brought out, you know, and kind of the whole thing explodes. And it's always going to be your worst moment that explodes. Almost always.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, we don't give away the blame to the kid, but the referees are the ones to blame. Obviously --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Well, that's why the guy -- his name is Michael Christenson. He actually posted this because he thought that the referees were so flagrant themselves and ignoring the flagrant fouls.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: He's a teddy bear that hits like a truck, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Hits like a truck. Yes, I would say that's a very good description of it.

GRANDERSON: He calls him a teddy bear. He's really a grizzly bear.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: You know, when the coach said --

BROWNSTEIN: We don't know.

O'BRIEN: We're going to take a break because I can go on about this forever. But when the coach said that this kid --

(LAUGHTER)

-- it's not fair, is how he ends the statement. It's not fair, talking about, not the poor kid who was whacked but the kid who was the kid that did it. I just think that is a sign that that coach doesn't know what he's doing.

All right, guys, I thank you for that. We could watch that all day because that's just a shocker.

L.Z., nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us.

And Ron and James (ph), as well.

Still to come on STARTING POINT, snubbed, once again. Mitt Romney can't get any love in the state that he used to govern. And a debate where every single candidate is hoping you're going to laugh at them. We'll show you that, straight ahead.

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