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Huntsman Endorsed by "Boston Globe"; Interview with Peter Canellos, "Boston Globe" Editor; Colombia to Hand Over Deported Teen to U.S.; U.S. Unemployment Rates Falls to 8.5 percent; December Saw Better than Expected Job Creation; Analysts Look at Political Implications of Economy for Presidential Race; Getting to Know the Candidates

Aired January 6, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. We're coming to you live at the airport diner in Manchester, New Hampshire.

I'm Soledad O'Brien. Welcome to our new show which is called STARTING POINT.

And we begin with some breaking news this morning. The big job's report is going to be released in just about 30 minutes. We're going to bring that to you when it happens.

The White House is hoping for promising news. The candidates are waiting to pick it apart if it's not promising news.

Also, a hometown snub to talk about. The largest paper in New England passing on Mitt Romney, backing Jon Huntsman. We've got "The Boston Globe's" editor talking with us.

Also, a runaway teenager who was deported by mistake is now coming home. We're going to talk to her mom this morning and find out exactly what happened at such a complicated and confusing case.

And Mike Tyson resurrects Herman Cain and it is so funny. Candidates get spoofed in a cyber debate. We'll bring you the sneak peek this morning.

And our reveal. We'll tell you the story of a woman who used Twitter to get ahead. STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: That's it. The airport diner in Manchester, New Hampshire. Welcome, everybody. We're on the inside where it's nice and warm, even though it's cold on the outside.

We're talking the economy this morning because a big U.S. job's report for December is to come out in the next half hour. CNN's Christine Romans has got a break down of what we are expecting.

Christine, what is it going to say?


Well, we think it's going to say something like 150,000 jobs were created in the month of December, Soledad. If you look at what the last year looks like, this is it. This is that forecast there. That would be s six months in a row of job gains of 100,000.

This economy has been so weak, quite frankly, that it's been since 2006 that we have been able to put them together like this.

I know you love context, especially political context. I want to show you the perspective here because this is important, especially in a campaign year.

This is when the president took office. These are how many thousands of jobs we were losing during the lead up to that recession and financial crisis and the months following. It has been slow and painful since then and now just some steady improvement.

It's this part of the chart that everyone is interested in. The economists are interested in. It shows some consistency. It shows 15 months in a row of jobs gains. And we'll know for sure at 8:30, though, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, we're waiting for that. Thanks, Christine. Appreciate it.

Well, Mitt Romney has been snubbed. "The Boston Globe" endorsing Jon Huntsman for the GOP nomination. The newspaper says the former Utah governor offers the Republican Party an opportunity to, quote, "renew itself."

Back in 2008, paper also endorsed John McCain in that race.

Joining us live from Boston is Peter Canellos. He's the editorial page editor of "The Boston Globe."

Peter, it's nice to have you with us and thank you for joining us our panel, as well. First of all, I think when we were talking earlier to the folks from the Romney team, they basically did a big giant eye roll and said, so what? They never like our guy anyway.

What do you make of that?

PETER CANELLOS, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, BOSTON GLOBE: I think that we actually said some fairly nice things about Mitt Romney, but he's run a very, very cautious campaign. It's very hard to tell from the Mitt Romney who is out there on the stand and comparing him to the Mitt Romney who was governor here. It's very hard to tell what he's going to be like as president.

Whereas Jon Huntsman has been bold and he's been clear.

O'BRIEN: When you look at some of the polls, and I want to throw up this new poll that comes to us from Suffolk University. They say, likely New Hampshire GOP primary voters, choice for nomination, Romney leads can you put that up on the screen? There you go.

Romney at 40 percent, Ron Paul at 17 percent, Santorum at 11 percent.

Here's the person you picked, 8 percent -- 8 percent. Is that a problem?

CANELLOS: Well, I think it's very difficult to poll for the New Hampshire primary. We've seen some very big swings in the last few days before the primary. There's also a huge number of independents in New Hampshire. All of them will be taking Republican bouts this time around if they choose to participate and Huntsman is very appealing to them.

So, I think that Huntsman numbers will be a lot better than that.

O'BRIEN: One of the things that you said in your endorsement which I thought was very interesting was about breaking the 11th commandment, I guess. That was a Ronald Reagan commandment which is basically, thou shalt not destroy thou colleagues in the primary process because thou shalt pay for it later in the general election.

How big a problem do you think that's going to be?

CANELLOS: I think it's going to be a problem because while people have been very entertained by the Republican debates, there'd been a lot of times that people had been sort of wincing and pulling back from the screen.

And, you know, one of the reasons that we endorse Huntsman is that he had very few of those moments. He wasn't harsh. He wasn't out of line in any way. And a lot of the others have been.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Peter Canellos, this is John king. Let me ask you a question here.

Is this more that you just prefer a Huntsman over Romney? You think Huntsman is a better chief executive, would be a better president, or just because those at the "Globe" feel a little snubbed that Romney is out there campaigning more proud of his Massachusetts experience? He's distanced himself somewhat from the health care plan, doesn't talk about as much working with the late Senator Kennedy or how closely he had to work with Democrats in the legislature.

Is this you feel like he's running from his record in Massachusetts or you just don't like him?

CANELLOS: Well, I think that his aspect of running from his record in Massachusetts is something that everybody has noted, not just here in Boston, but everywhere. It becomes a part of his character, a part of his presentation in some way. So, I think that probably was some factor.

But it wasn't like some sense of personal peak. People genuinely feel like Huntsman would be the better president.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST. Hey, Peter, Ron Brownstein from "National Journal."

In the editorial, you kind of suggest that the Mitt Romney you saw as governor in the first couple years there would, in fact, be an effective president. What do you see then that you don't see now? What's changed in him in your mind?

CANELLOS: Well, I think we saw the first three years that he was governor. He was really, you know, hands on kind of pragmatic, no drama, no tension, worked very closely with Democrats and was progressive in many ways. I mean, he had a smart growth program and he, obviously, did the health care bill. These were major accomplishments for Massachusetts and he helped to sort of cleanse the political culture here.

In his last year as governor, he took a lot of right-wing positions that were sort of out of line for Massachusetts, kind of preparing to run for president, and since then has not talked about the progressive things he did in Massachusetts.

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: This is Neera Tanden. And just following up on that, you referenced health care, but you didn't really talk about it in detail. I mean, health care is one of the signature accomplishments of Governor Romney. It was the basis of President Obama's health care plan and, obviously, Mitt Romney has really tried to run away from that. It's been a point of contest.

How much was the health care issue and his departure from that part of your analysis?

CANELLOS: I think it was a significant part of the analysis in that if he had, if he had defended it a little bit more strongly and I think that idea he's put out that he believes that every state should come up with its own solution. But he's also been so vociferous in his criticism of Obamacare and the individual mandate and things like that that it comes close to disavowing what he did in Massachusetts.

And people here are very satisfied with the health care system. They also see it as sort of a signal accomplishment, a sign of Massachusetts' leadership, and it's a shame that he hasn't embraced it more.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question, Peter. So, obviously, you gave a lot of credit to the various ways in which you think economically someone like Huntsman could bring not only the state, but the country back. Would you be supporting Huntsman over, say, Barack Obama?

CANELLOS: Well, that remains to be seen. If Huntsman gets the nomination, I think we'll have a very, very strong, high minded discussion focused on the jobs of the future, focused on high tech, focused on our relations overseas, and building economic alliances overseas that work for both countries. That would be a very interesting debate and we'll have to see how it turns out.

JAMES PINDELL, WMUR: Peter, this is James Pindell of WMUR TV, New Hampshire TV station. How are you doing, Peter? There's a couple newspapers here that really like Jon Huntsman, but they said internally in their discussions they didn't see him as a serious candidate, as a serious alternative to Barack Obama, his inability to raise money, his inability to actually make a stand here in New Hampshire.

What are you seeing in him as a serious candidate that maybe these other editorial boards aren't here in New Hampshire?

CANELLOS: Well, I think that his credentials, obviously, are stellar. His presentation is very strong. His confidence is very visible. He would be an effective president and he would be a strong candidate against Barack Obama.

Obviously, he's not raised a lot of money and he's not positioned himself as prominently as Mitt Romney has. But, you know, it's still a fluid race and we can see how these things happen. As we say at the end of our editorial, if New Hampshire Republicans and independents came out for Huntsman, and let's say Huntsman did not get the nomination, at least it's sending a signal and it will influence what the eventual nominee will pursue as president.

O'BRIEN: John King, let me ask you a question, with no disrespect to Peter. But does it matter? Does an endorsement from paper that is centered to be pretty liberal in a state that is considered to be very liberal going to crush Mitt Romney in any way, shape or form when it's giving the nod to Jon Huntsman?

KING: No offense to the "Boston Globe." I read it growing up. I still read it everybody.

O'BRIEN: Hold on, Peter. I want you to jump in.

KING: No offense at all. We live in an age that is a lot of distrust of institutions, period. People don't like the big banks. They don't like the big government. They don't like us as a matter of fact.

O'BRIEN: Speak for yourself.

KING: Less influence for the news media.

Now, that said -- that said, there are a lot of people who live particularly in southern New Hampshire who formally lived in Massachusetts who have been "Globe" readers and have been all their lives. So, they will take a look at it. No doubt.

I don't think newspaper endorsements, I don't think politician endorsements, with candidates stand next to, whether it's John McCain or Nikki Haley in South Carolina, for example, I don't think it matters the way it used to.

O'BRIEN: Peter --

KING: Still, it can't hurt Huntsman. When you're 8 percent, you --

O'BRIEN: Peter had a rebuttal he wanted to get to. Go ahead. CANELLOS: No. I just was going to say, look, our goal is not to dictate to our readers. Our goal is to sort of put some ideas out there. And if people read that endorsement and look at it and it might jog something in their mind, I think it could influence things positively for Huntsman. As you know also, John, there are a lot of independents up there in New Hampshire and, certainly, it's a complicated dynamic between Massachusetts and New Hampshire and there are different people who read the "Union Leader," different people who read "The Globe." But I think there are enough that are going to be voting on Tuesday that it could have an impact.

O'BRIEN: All right. Peter Canellos, I thank you.

To our panelists, also, I thank you. They're going to stick around with me.

Mitt Romney is going to be in New Hampshire for a function this evening. He's coming back to the state. Right now, he is getting ready, though, to take the stage in a rally at a peanut factory, which is in Conway, South Carolina. You can see the folks there waiting. But he has not take on the stage yet and he has not spoken.

The governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, is going to be at his side. Also, Senator John McCain who just gave Governor Romney his endorsement will be at his side, as well.

We're expecting to hear from them in just a few minutes.

You know that every Republican who won South Carolina's primary went on to win the party nomination. So, it's going to be a very big deal.

Then today at noon, a brand-new CNN/ORC/"TIME" poll of the race in the state comes out. It's the first poll of that state since early December when Newt Gingrich had a very big lead. Mitt Romney is holding, as I said, that rally. We'll bring those and turn around that sound.

You can see him, there he is. He has now come out in the crowd. We're expecting him to make some remarks in just a few minutes.

And with the "Globe" endorsement in his pocket, what's Jon Huntsman doing? He's going to be Wolf Blitzer's guest in "THE SITUATION ROOM" today. All that starts at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

And then, of course, John King, not only is he here with me. He will be going one-on-one with Ron Paul at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Don't miss that.

Time to check in with CNN's Christine Romans. Other stories making news this morning and she has a look at it -- Christine.

ROMANS: Good morning, Soledad.

The proposed rule change by the Obama administration could keep immigrant families together while the undocumented apply for legal status. As it stands now, people who are undocumented -- they must leave the country to apply for a green card. They face years of separation from their citizen family members who are here.

Joran van der Sloot murder trial beginning today in Peru. Van der Sloot's attorney says his client will plead guilty to all of these charges. Van der Sloot admits killing 20-year-old Stephany Flores but says it wasn't premeditated. Van der Sloot, you'll recall, was the prime suspect in the disappearance of American Natalee Holloway, but has never been charged in that case. He will plead guilty to her murder.

And Penn State may have found that the man to succeed Joe Paterno as the Nittany Lions head football coach. Reports say New England Patriots defensive coordinator Bill O'Brien was interviewed by school officials yesterday in State College, Pennsylvania.

All right. U.S. stock futures pointing to a higher open right now ahead of that big December jobs report comes out in about 15 minutes. We're going to bring you those details when it happens at 8:30 Eastern. Dow, NASDAQ, S&P 500 futures are all up right now -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, we're looking forward to that report. Thanks, Christine.

Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, a teenage runaway from Texas. We're following this story. This is such a bizarre story. This young girl, 15 years old, mistakenly deported to Colombia. She is an American citizen. She's supposed to be coming home soon, though.

We're going to talk about all that has transpired with the girl's mom who joins us here in just a few moments.

Then, this is the funniest thing I have seen in such a long time. Not your typical debate. Usually candidates don't like to be mocked and laughed at, but this is really, really funny. And with Larry King hosting and all, just makes it completely over the top.

And then, a really cute story about this kid. He's nine years old. He runs around and interviews the candidates and asked them an easy question. What is your super hero? If you could be a super hero, who would you be? Watch their answers. It's pretty remarkable. That's all ahead on STARTING POINT, when we're back.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT.

This morning, we're here to tell you a story of a reunion that a Texas family feared might never happened. Jakadrien Turner had been missing for a year and a half after she run away from home. What happened to the teenager raises more questions, really, than an answer. She was deported to Colombia by mistake after she got arrested and gave authorities a fake name.

She told the authorities she was Colombian. So, this morning, the (INAUDIBLE) government is turning the girl over to the U.S. embassy, and they're expecting her very soon to be back on American soil and maybe in the arms of her loved ones.

Johnisa Turner is Jakadrien's mom. Ray Jackson is the family attorney, and they're both in Dallas this morning. Johnisa, let me start with you. I know that she has in been in Colombia, apparently, since May. Have you had a chance to talk to Jakadrien? You must be so relieved.

JOHNISA TURNER, MOTHER OF JAKEDRIAN TURNER: Oh, yes. I am relieved, but, no, I haven't had an opportunity to speak with her. No.

O'BRIEN: Do you think some of the fact that you haven't talked to her is that she ran away a year ago and maybe she doesn't want to talk to you, guys? That she doesn't want to come home. Could that be the hold up, do you think?

TURNER: Well, I mean, I want her to come home. She belongs home.

O'BRIEN: Ray, tell me a little bit about the next steps. As we mentioned in the introduction, she's now in the hands of the U.S. embassy in U.S. custody. What happens next?

RAY JACKSON, FAMILY'S ATTORNEY: Well, the next step is that we try to get her home, whether that's by us going there to pick her up or having transportation for her to come back here. After she gets back home, obviously, we understand that there's going to be a lot of care that's going to be necessary for Jakadrien.

And then, at that point, we'll start seeking re-dress as far as the civil rights violations for the governmental agencies that allow her to be wrongfully deported.

O'BRIEN: So, that, to me, sounds like lawyers speak for we're planning to sue the various agencies that were involved and that would be the -- am I right about that? I mean, you're talking about the, the PD locally and then you have the ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and then, you have the Colombian officials who interviewed Jakadrien and determined that she would get a passport out of the United States and into Colombia.

Here's what the ICE official said. Listen to this, "ICE takes these allegations very seriously. At the direction of DHS," the Department of Homeland Security, "ICE is fully and immediately investigating this matter in order to expeditiously determine the facts of this case. At no time during these criminal proceedings was her identity determined to be false."

So, let me ask you a question, because you probably know your daughter really well, Johnisa. How did, a 14-year-old or 15-year-old girl fool all these authorities? What do you think happened?

TURNER: I think she basically did what she was told to do.

O'BRIEN: So, who do you think was telling her what to do?

TURNER: I don't know. I don't know. I don't know who these people are. JACKSON: Ms. O'Brien --

O'BRIEN: So, you think that there was someone in -- yes, go ahead, Ray.

JACKSON: These agencies have methodologies and safe guards in place to prevent anyone from being able to misidentify themselves as a citizen of another country just to be deported.

Somewhere the ball was dropped and whether it's ICE, immigration, local authorities, whomever, at some point, this 14-year-old girl should not have been able to doop or bamboozle these agencies in order for her to say that she's anywhere from another countr,y and then, for that country to then provide her with documentation saying that's who she is and allow her into the country.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it's bizarre, isn't it? It's stunning. It's stunning and when you add to that, we're talking about a 15-year-old girl. We're not even talking about an adult. When you think it should be hard enough for a grown up to do that. But a child, it is a really bizarre story. Well, listen, I am very interested in hearing what happens at your reunion, Johnisa, because I know it's been a real struggle with your daughter.

It's been a really tough thing. So, we hope that it goes well when she comes home, and you get a chance to talk to her. And, of course, Ray, it sounds like you say lawsuit. So, I guess, we'll follow up with you, too, to hear exactly how that's going to go down the road. Thanks for talking with us this morning.

JACKSON: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: Both of you, best of luck to you, appreciate it.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, isn't that a bizarre story? So weird. We turn from that to a story that is really hilarious. That's Larry King there.


O'BRIEN: It's so funny. And that is Mike Tyson as Herman Cain. Oh, straight ahead, we'll tell you about a different kind of debate. It's actually much more entertaining than the ones we've been watching. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. This is a shot inside the Airport Diner this morning, where folks are having breakfast and we're having a good time. Have you guys seen these clips from "Funny Or Die"? Oh my goodness! Its is so funny. Let me just tick through who's in it.

Horatio Sanz plays Newt Gingrich. John McGinley is Rick Santorum. Greg Germann is Jon Huntsman, Patrick Warburton Rick Perry, Leslie Jordan Ron Paul, Erin Gibson is Michele Bachmann, (INAUDIBLE) and the list goes on, but the best one is Mike Tyson as Herman Cain. Take a look.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: We have reached a very important part of the debate. The Reagan speed round. Now, you know how this works. We give the candidates seven seconds and whoever can mention Ronald Reagan's name the most wins the round. Go!

(CHANTING) Reagan, Reagan, Reagan, Reagan --


LARRY KING: And the winner of the Reagan speed round is Jon Huntsman.


LARRY KING: Herman Cain, get out of here.

MIKE TYSON, FORMER BOXER: Riding in primetime.

KING: Herman, go!

TYSON: Go long (ph), suckers!


O'BRIEN: Do you think it would be possible to do something like this, and these guys, "Funny or Die" are always so funny, but this, particularly, because this race, to a large degree, has kind of had elements of that.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: You know, it has been described as a reality show. So, why not, you know? Or kind of an "American Idol," you know, or who gets voted off the debate stage this week. So, why not a comedy series? I mean, it really is incredible the way that this has become sort of a form of pop culture as well as kind of a political exercise.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: People ask you all the time, is it too late for somebody to get in? Mike Tyson --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Herman Cain is actually going to get the face tattoo.

O'BRIEN: Does this kind of thing --

BROWNSTEIN: I know Hangovr is shooting --


O'BRIEN: How funny Is Larry King? I mean, you know, he was, I think, he's having such a good time. The whole thing is so hysterical.

BROWNSTEIN: With a nice little serious edge there about how often you can say Ronald Reagan.


O'BRIEN: Seven seconds. I think they're mocking a little bit of cable, as well. Seven seconds.


BROWNSTEIN: Mocking cable?

O'BRIEN: Yes. Shocking. Shocking. Let's put an end to that right away.

JOHN KING: Is that illegal?

O'BRIEN: Yes, I think, it should be. If it's not, it should be. Maybe I should run for president. All right, guys, appreciate it.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, the December jobs reports going to be released in just a few minutes. Christine Romans is going to update us on the numbers, what it means to the economy, and our bank account as well.

And then, our reveal. How Twitter helped a homeless woman emerge from the darkness and find hope. We got that straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Inside the Airport Diner. I'm Soledad O'Brien. Welcome back to STARTING POINT. We've got some breaking news to get to this morning. The big jobs report for the month of December will be out in a few moments. We're watching your money and have that for you straight ahead.

Also, when you're nine years old, this is the one question you would like to hear answered by every candidate. Which super hero would you like to be? Did anybody flip-flop on this? We'll talk to the kid who was able to pin down the candidates.

First, let's get right to CNN's Christine Romans. She is live fur us here with a list of the day's stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi. First of all I have that jobs number for you -- 200,000 jobs created. I'll break them down for you in just a moment, but better than expected. Second, a serial killer may be stalking the homeless on the streets of southern California. Authorities say the killer has murdered three homeless men so far, each stabbed multiple times.

The Air Force Academy charging three of its cadets with sexual assault. Officials say the cadets were involved in three unrelated cases at the academy in Colorado Springs. That's over a period of 15 months.

And Casey Anthony like you've never seen her or heard her before. She resurfaced with a video message that is all about herself and no message of her daughter, Caylee. Earlier on STARTING POINT Soledad got psychologist Jeff Gardere's take.


JEFFREY GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: This is someone who I truly believe is stuck in her own childhood. And the fact that she keeps saying mine, mine, mine, I finally have something to call mine. Well, what about your daughter, Caylee. Your dead daughter, wasn't she yours? Why, again, aren't you mentioning that?

This whole idea of this is a video diary. I want to share my thoughts with the world and 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.


O'BRIEN: More coming out, can't wait.

OK, we have breaking news we have to get to right away. Christine mentioned 200,000 jobs and why don't you pop in and explain to us where these jobs are. We say that this is a big change in turning point. It is, around the expectations that you guys were talking about earlier.

ROMANS: Right, 200,000 jobs created and an unemployment rate that fell to 8.5 percent. That was better than expected. For the year, Soledad, 1.6 million jobs created. So 1.6 million for the year. This is what the picture looked like. This is the forecast and now we know it is more like this for jobs created and ending on a strong note. We expected a lot of those to be retail jobs and to be service sector jobs. We have known other data that it was small businesses that are hiring. So, that's what that looks like there for the year.

And I want to give you kind of a good picture of how this looks compared to when the president took office, right. We know that things are a little bit better than we thought, more like this here for the month of December. This is what it looked like when the president took office. This is important, Soledad, because you're talking about a trend here.

On the campaign trail, all you hear about is how this is the Obama economy and how the president destroyed the jobs market. This is when the president took office and this is the slow and steady improvement through the end of the year. Now you have six months in a row of at least 100,000 jobs created. As I keep telling you, that hasn't happened since way back in 2006. Now, I want to pull it out even further for you.

O'BRIEN: Christine, hold on a second. Hey, John? So, Christine is talking about these jobs added. I know we'll see that graph and in a political campaign, not very long from now.


O'BRIEN: A job is not a job is not a job. They are not all equal. KING: You have to be sober here because there are still millions of Americans who for months and months and months have been trying to find work and they can't. Yet, politically this is a handstand moment at the Obama White House because it's not just, just the statistics. Obviously, 200,000 jobs is great. If it's temporary, could come back and haunt the president.

O'BRIEN: Christine, what kind of jobs are we looking at.

KING: They need the psychology to improve, and that helps.

ROMANS: The trend has been health care jobs, education jobs. And, for example, government jobs, those tend to pay better, and 280,000 of those have gone over the last year. They're being replaced by jobs in the private sector, but many are lower wage jobs and retail jobs.

And you've heard me say this before, Soledad. The concern that I always have is the jobs we're replacing in the economy are jobs you couldn't send a kid to college on. What are we doing for the middle class overall? These are still big questions that we have, even when you're talking about steady and slow improvement in the labor market, you're not talking about jobs that you want to send a kid to college to train for.

When you also look at underemployment, this is where people who work in part time or longer term or people working in jobs that are below their abilities and education levels, now you're into the double digits, again, high into the double digits for underemployment rate or people who have been sidelined by the economy.

So I want to be clear, and John is right. The White House has to be careful on doing too much of a victory lap. Europe could set us back, again. If Europe goes back into the tank, American factories are going to close. That means more job losses. So both sides will paint this how they want to on the campaign trail, basically.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I would just say, I think this is very good news. And I totally understand that we have to be focused on the kinds of jobs we're replacing and there's still a need for the American jobs act, but we should recognize the 200,000 jobs is a big number. It's one of the biggest numbers in years. We're seeing signs of recovery in the housing market. This is an optimistic sign for our economy. Thinking outside of the political context is good news for all Americans that our economy is doing better and we're able to produce in the hundreds of thousands of jobs. Now, we still have work to do and I think the president should be cautious, but it's good news for all of us.

O'BRIEN: You can't spin a job being created 200,000 jobs. There is no way to spin that in a bad way. Let me a question to Christine. Are you talking about big multi-nationals are hiring or is it small businesses? Where are the jobs being created?

ROMANS: It's small businesses, mid-size businesses. In some cases, I think there's a little bit of hiring at the big multi-nationals, but for the most part they're trying to stretch their workers as much as they can. And they have an eye on Europe. They are very concerned about what is happening in Europe. It's the small businesses and mid- size businesses, quite frankly and the service sector industry that they have to add when the economy gets a little better.

Sometimes they'll add temporary workers or contract workers, which is also tough because you don't always get benefits with that or certainty with that, but I'll tell you something. I was talking to a commercial real estate CEO recently who told me that he doesn't think he can go, if he gets one more big teal deal, he will have to hire a bunch of people because he stretched everybody to the max. He will wait until the last second to do that. I think that's consistent through mid-size businesses through the economy. If they get a little bit of improvement in their order, Soledad, you'll see some hiring.

O'BRIEN: OK, so, someone like Mitt Romney looks at these numbers and he created a campaign and many of the Republican contenders who created their campaign around the economy, the guy to fix the economy is me. This is problematic.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, politically, the issue is going to be what matters more, level or trajectory? The odds are high that president Obama will be seeking reelection with an unemployment rate higher than any president who won reelections than Franklin Roosevelt during the depression. The question is, is that how voters make their judgment or do they look at the direction? There were more net jobs created in 2011 than the entire eight years of the Bush presidency. So can he argue we're not where we should be, but we're going in the right direction.

O'BRIEN: Listen to what Mitt Romney is saying about employment right now. He's at a peanut factory. Let's listen.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- the government and the scale of government. He has been racking up deficits over $1 trillion dollars a year. He was critical of President Bush for putting in place deficits over $400 billion. He's been doing three times that. He's on track by the end of his first term, his only term --


O'BRIEN: That's a pretty good indication of where Mitt Romney is going to be hammering President Obama.

JAMES PINDELL, POLITICAL ANALYST, WMUR-TV: During this campaign we talk about jobs, jobs, jobs. Unemployment rate lower in New Hampshire, 5.2 percent. But what these candidates and President Obama have not addressed is the anxiety and how you feel about the economy. I have a job maybe today. Am I going to have one next year? How am I going to pay for the health care? How am I going to pay for the kids' education? The president talks about raising taxes on the rich, these candidates are not --

O'BRIEN: Funny you should mention that because this, of course, tell us about this, what we've learned.

BROWNSTEIN: We have been polling all-state national journal for the last three years every quarter looking at how Americans feel about the economy and the short answer. I think the one sentence summary of the three years of polling the Americans are navigating much more turbulent financial waters than earlier generations, and they are paddling along. They have no one in there really looking out for their interests. It explains a lot of the political volatility we've seen. They're not sure if either side has the answer, but they know they are facing much greater risks than earlier generations did.

KING: Political history tells you the psychology matters more than the statistics. Bill Clinton ran for reelection and the economy was booming and it was never a question. So you can't look at the last Democrat to be reelected.

If you look at Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, the economy after very high unemployment Ronald Reagan had five consecutive quarters of pretty good growth and people felt better. He had a weak opponent in Walter Mondale, but he also made the case, you feel better, don't you, when he ran for reelection. George H. W. Bush, and we saw it, people felt tired. They felt like they were treading water. President Bush could make the case back then things are getting better. Not good enough, slowly getting better. It's how people feel.

BROWNSTEIN: That's the core of the argument that the Obama team has wanted to make from the beginning. Not that we're out of the ditch, but heading in the right direction and you want to turn the keys back to the people whose policies --

O'BRIEN: The question is, do people buy it because how they feel? You cannot give a speech and change how people feel.

BROWNSTEIN: We have 10 months to find out.

O'BRIEN: We really do. We'll keep our conversations going. Still to come on STARTING POINT, the candidates come clean about their dreams of being superheroes all because of a persistent nine-year-old kid in New Hampshire. We'll tell you what he did.

A woman who used Twitter to get laptops, money, and more. That story is straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back.

This morning we have the story of a 9-year-old boy from New Hampshire who thought it would be pretty cool to ask each of the Republican candidates about who's -- you know running for president obviously, who would be their favorite super hero. Who is their favorite super hero?

He thought it might provide some insight into their personalities. There he is meeting Mitt Romney. Ari and his dad join us. Darren Garnick (ph) is a contributor at the "Atlantic" and Ari Garnick is 9 years old.

So tell me why you thought this would be a good idea? What did you want to know Ari from the candidates?

ARI GARNICK, 9-YEAR-OLD: Well, my dad and I really like super heroes and my dad wanted to find a fun way to teach me about politics so we came up with this.

O'BRIEN: Ok and so as you were talking to the candidates. I'm going to show you some of the clips and I want you to weigh in for me on who you like. The first one that we have is Mitt Romney, he's the frontrunner. So I guess he gets to go first. Run this clip of Mitt Romney for me.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I kind of grew up with Superman. So I probably have to be superman. That's right. No, I think it's the leap tall buildings in a single bound, faster than a locomotive.


O'BRIEN: Did you enjoy Ari, asking questions of the politicians and when you heard from Mitt Romney, what did you think of his answer? A lot of the politicians said Superman, like a lot.

A. GARNICK: I think yes, I was kind of annoyed that everybody liked Superman but I kind of understand why. He's kind of a powerhouse and he can do a lot of things to help the country. And I think Romney, he didn't ignore the question and he seemed to like listen to me, at least.

O'BRIEN: Which is what every voter would like from their representative, isn't it true. So Dad, I feel like your son has already learned a lesson when he said well, he didn't ignore the question exactly. This was not necessarily about the question about superhero was it?

DARREN GARNICK, CONTRIBUTOR, "ATLANTIC": Absolutely, it's about how, it's not what they say, it's how they say it and how they interact with a 9-year-old because this question -- Ari was initially reluctant to do this experiment with me because he said, hey, dad, they're going to think I'm crazy, I'm ridiculous. And I said, no a superhero question from a 9-year-old they're going to welcome it because --


O'BRIEN: Compared to all the journalist questions.


O'BRIEN: They love that kind question. It's much easier. Who did you think was the nicest?

A. GARNICK: I well -- Herman Cain he seemed to like the question and he kind of broken to a grin when I ask him --

O'BRIEN: Let's play a little bit of Herman Cain. And here's what he said to you.



A. GARNICK: Why would you be superman?

CAIN: Because we have a super mess in this country. And we need Superman to bail us out. Superman, that would be mine, ok. Is that ok?


CAIN: All right.

D. GARNICK: Thank you very much.

CAIN: Now, now Ari, who is your favorite?


O'BRIEN: In watching that clip, because right there is Herman Cain then turns to you and starts interviewing you. And I realize watching that like -- this man's -- this man's greatest strength was his charm.

D. GARNICK: Absolutely. And we -- we met Herman Cain a couple weeks before the scandal and a couple weeks before he started freaking out over video and he regardless of what you think of him and what your politics are, he's just dripping with charm. He -- his enthusiasm just -- just jumps off the screen.

O'BRIEN: That's a very cute project. So your take away. If you could vote, you're 9, but let's say you could vote, because you can't, who would you pick?

A. GARNICK: Well, I don't really know all the things that all the candidates want to do, so I'm not really sure. But --

O'BRIEN: You're undecided. Well then you fit perfectly well into everyone else I have spoken to today. Ari it is nice to have you; dad as well thanks for talking with us.

D. GARNICK: Thanks, welcome to New Hampshire.

O'BRIEN: You're very, very cute. I feel like you're a growing journalist. I see it coming.

D. GARNICK: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, the reveal. We'll tell you the story of how a woman turned her life around using 140 characters. STARTING POINT is back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Airport Diner on the outside and on the inside. That's where we are this morning. They've been kind enough to give us a little space in the diner. And it's kind of a lot of space.

All right, time for the reveal. We're looking at a story of Annmarie Walsh and how she used Twitter to get ahead. She's 21 years old, her handle is @padChicago, @padChicago. She has 4,800 followers and those followers have sent her lots of things like laptops, even cash. She's got a filmmaker who is following her around documenting her story.

Annmarie's had so much success on the social network that back in 2009 she was invited to speak at Twitter's 140 Characters Conference. So what is it about Annmarie that makes her so special? Annmarie until very recently was homeless. She credits Twitter with turning her life around.

She said, when she first started tweeting it helped her express her struggle with the mental health issues and restarted documenting homelessness on her Twitter account and bit by bit more people started to listen and she's crediting all her followers with helping her get through tough times.

She has a place to stay now, thanks to a counselor that she met at a tweet up event and hoping that through Twitter she's hoping that she's going to be able to get a job soon.

So good luck to Annmarie. I hope so.

Still ahead this morning, what our panelists learned on this morning in New Hampshire in our "End Point" segment, straight ahead.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight we gather to honor the best that humanity has to offer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you join us we'll be unstoppable.

COOPER: CNN Heroes is looking for everyday people who are changing the world. How do we find this extraordinary people, well with your help? You can nominate someone right now at Maybe your hero is defending the planet by protecting the environment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are people who need a chance and I'm one of them.

COOPER: Or helping people overcome obstacle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be no man left behind as long as we are this nation.

COOPER: For finding a unique approach to solving a problem.

Whatever their cause nominating a CNN Hero is easy. First go to then click nominate. We ask for some basic information about you and your nominee and then tell us what makes your hero extraordinary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who likes a pasta? COOPER: How are they changing the lives for the better?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You did a great job.

COOPER: It's really important to write from your heart because it's your words that will make your hero's story stand out. A couple of tips, please don't nominate yourself. It's against the rules. It's not necessary to nominate someone over and over. We read each and every nomination -- really, we do. And be selective. Those honored at CNN Heroes are truly dedicating their lives to serving others.

After you told us about your hero, click "Submit". It's that simple and that worthwhile. So nominate someone deserving for that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much for this incredible honor. This has been the greatest night of my life.



O'BRIEN: Time for our "End Point" where we take a look at what we've learned today. Neera, why don't you start for us?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRAMS: I think the biggest news of the day is the jobs report, obviously. I think the interaction with the Republican primary is really interesting. Mitt Romney central case is his business case and I think given more optimism in the economy maybe that will shift social moderates to vote more for their conscious than on social issues.

O'BRIEN: Optimism in the economy, that is sort of the key phrase, isn't it, John?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": I think it is the key phrase. Because the Republicans want to run a campaign no matter who wins the nomination. Sure, he's a nice guy, but he has failed. What he has tried to do for the last 3 1/2, 4 years has failed.

That gets harder if people start to say, finally, I feel a little better. Finally my neighbor got a job. Finally, you know, my home values are going up a little bit. We have a long way to go. These numbers matter and the psychology of these numbers matter more in September and October than they do today. But if you're waking up this morning and the President's having a cup of coffee, he's happy today.

O'BRIEN: It's a challenge for us. It's a challenge, isn't it?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. I agree. I mean I think while we're focusing on the Republicans, if this is sustainable, the ground is starting to firm a little bit under President Obama.

And for the record, I would be the Silver Surfer. I just want to get that out there. JAMES PINDELL, POLITICAL ANALYST, WMUR-TV: And by the way, bad news for Mitt Romney in the general election but the good news I think we learned earlier today really is the conservatives, particularly the Tea Party base, they don't know where to go. If they continue to splinter, Mitt Romney will most likely be the nominee even if he has a tougher time in a general election.


BROWNSTEIN: -- was a very good answer for Romney when he couldn't differentiate between Gingrich and Santorum.

O'BRIEN: Tim Scott was excellent this morning. He will have to keep talking to him as this race goes along. Gentlemen, I thank you. Neera, as well, in D.C. for us. Thanks very much.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Kyra Phillips begins right now. I'll see everybody back here Monday morning on STARTING POINT.