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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Battle for New Hampshire; Excedrin and Bufferin Products Recalled; Ron Paul's Economic Plan; Jon Huntsman's Daughters Discuss New Hampshire Campaign; Interview with Aretha Franklin; Sitting Down with the Queen of Soul

Aired January 9, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, welcome back, everybody.

This is where we are this morning, Chez Bouchon. It is a Canadian diner, Canadian cuisine, and the food is really, really good. But we're inside talking politics this morning.

The specialty here, I should mention, is something poutine. Have you guys had this yet?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Poutine.

O'BRIEN: Not in my script, it's not. How many times have you had this, Mr. Mayor?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's cardiac arrest on a plate.

O'BRIEN: That's because it's French fries and cheese curd and then spicy gravy on top. It smells really, really good, though. We haven't quite finished it up.

Welcome back. We're going to get our panel to dig in and eat everything this morning.

Our STARTING POINT this morning, brand new snapshot of New Hampshire, though, what we're talking about. Suffolk University tracking poll out just about an hour ago shows that Mitt Romney still has a commanding lead, but it is shrinking for the fifth day in a row. That poll factors in people's reactions to the two Republican debates that happened over the weekend where the rest of the field pretty much try to gang up on the front runner.

Jon Huntsman is moving up in the poll. He's got a little bit of help. He's got three secret weapon. The Huntsman girls are going to join us live straight ahead this morning.

And then -- oh my gosh -- Tim Tebow. Wow, wow, wow. In overtime, Broncos quarterback pulls off another mile high miracle. And then gets on his knees and thanks Jesus. We'll talk about that straight ahead.

Also this morning, my exclusive interview with the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin. She recently dropped 85 pounds, talks about finding her king. At the age of 69, she's getting hitched. And, of course, memories of her dad, who was a civil rights pioneer, who was winning a big award over the weekend.

STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Inside Chez Bouchon. This is where we are this morning. People know exactly what they want to order for breakfast. However, people are split when it comes to what they want to have, who they want to have represent them as they head into the primary day.

There is a new poll out, WHDH/Suffolk University poll. And it shows that Ron Paul is gaining on Mitt Romney. You can see that Romney's 33 percent. Ron Paul, 20 percent.

Paul kind of staying consistent. But it's Mitt Romney who's going down a little bit. Although people will consistently remind you that New Hampshire is unpredictable.

Take a look back at 2008. Suffolk University and CNN polls showed President Obama had a five-point lead just two days before the primary day. Forty-eight hours in the actual primary, 48 hours later, it was Hillary Clinton who was the winner by three points. And that started a primary fight that would last into the summer.

Joining us with our panel is Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas. He is endorsing Mitt Romney. And back with us is Ron Brownstein from the 'National Journal." We got speechwriter David Frum joining us as well. And we also our former Hillary Clinton adviser and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona. She's in D.C. And David Paleologos is the director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. He's joining us with more on the poll.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for having us in your fine city. We certainly appreciate it. This food looks -- smells great, looks dangerous to eat.

Why are you supporting Mitt Romney?

TED GATSAS, MAYOR OF MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, I believe he is the candidate that can talk about jobs, create jobs. And people today are worried about the jobs that they have, that they may lose them.

O'BRIEN: Why are you one of the few people -- everyday, right, people come on the show, and I say, who are you supporting, who are you endorsing? And more often than not, it's, I don't know yet. I'm not going to say yet.

Why are you coming out and others can't?

GATSAS: Well, I believe that somebody that signed the front of the check can understand how to bring people back to work and can get people to the table, through the big corporations that are going to start hiring people because they are just really scared right now what the future has to bring because of what's happening in government. We need to get him in there so that people will understand their jobs are secure, that they don't have to worry, and we're going to start creating jobs so that people can go to work.

Manchester is a little different. Our unemployment rate here is less than 5 percent. And I'm enjoying cutting ribbons every day, starting new companies that people can go to work in. And certainly, we are doing that on a regular basis weekly.

We have a new grocery store that's opening up right downtown. Five hundred new jobs that are coming to Manchester. We're talking about a job center that we'll be building very quickly with 300 more jobs there. We have a municipal complex with 350 jobs.

O'BRIEN: So a lot of good news in an environment that many people don't seem to have.

GATSAS: Yes.

O'BRIEN: So, David, let's talk a little bit about this new poll that came out just an hour ago, and what we've been seeing over the last five days is really a chipping away of Mitt Romney's lead. That said, he's got a strong lead.

DAVID PALEOLOGOS, DIR., SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY POLITICAL RESEARCH CENTER: He's poised to win and win big. But he's lost 10 points in the last five days, and that's significant. It speaks to the weakness of the field really.

You have other candidates in this field who aren't complete candidates. I mean, Ron Paul is hitting a ceiling at 22, 23. Can't break above it. You have other candidates in the field who play well in the Republican space, but don't poll well among independents, and vice versa.

So in that light, it doesn't look like anybody's going to catch him.

O'BRIEN: Let me play a little chunk from the debate because it was the weekend of debates this weekend. And this is Newt Gingrich talking to Mitt Romney and really talking a little bit about those super PACs and negative ads. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wish you would calmly and directly state it is your former staff running the PAC. It is your millionaire friends giving to the PAC, and you know some of the ads aren't true. Just say that straightforward.

(APPLAUSE)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, of course, it's former staff of mine. And of course they are people who support me. They wouldn't be putting money into a PAC that supports me if they weren't people who support me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: How much damage did he do, do you think, in that? Because it got a lot of applause, and I feel like that approach and also the Bain approach is sort of what everybody is focused on right now in trying to attack the frontrunner.

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Newt Gingrich is on a suicide destructive mission of revenge. He's not doing himself any good. And it's kind of absurd that a man who just said, hey, I got a $5 million check the other day from the third richest man in America, will be attacking Mitt Romney for having too many rich friends.

But what you see here is this compression of the race. In Iowa, Mitt Romney sawed off Rick Perry and another person who might have been president. Here, we're going to see the end of the Santorum and Gingrich phenomenon because the race is gong to reduce itself very quickly now to Mitt Romney who is running to be president and Ron Paul who is running to enrich his direct mail list.

O'BRIEN: Mr. Mayor, let me ask you a question. Do people care if their candidate is clearly very, very wealthy?

I mean, you know, Mitt Romney has had some gaffes, right? He's talked about, well, I was afraid of getting a pink slip, and people kind of rolled their eyes at that. He has spoken about, if you have a mortgage to pay, you probably don't want to run for office.

And people felt like, really, you don't want regular American citizens to able to think that they could represent this country as well? Do people really care that the person who could be president is really, really, really rich?

GATSAS: Well, I can tell you that right here in Manchester, they don't really care about that because their mayor just won by 72 percent. So, I can tell you that doesn't affect people here in Manchester.

O'BRIEN: Maria Cardona is in D.C. Let's get a word from her -- Maria.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: So, I think a couple of things, Soledad. Mitt Romney loves to talk about how he has been the job creator in all of this when actually if you look at the numbers, it's Jon Huntsman who can really talk about job creation. His state was actually number one when Mitt Romney's state was number 47.

So I guess it's great for the Democrats that Jon Huntsman has not really taken off, because I actually think he would be the most electable in a general election scenario. And Mitt Romney, again, he will run away with this if the "anybody but Romney" vote does not consolidate behind one candidate.

And on Ron Paul, I love the discussion that you just had, because if he does come in second, and we all talked about how this is a race for second in New Hampshire, he's going to have to talk a lot more not just about the Civil Rights Act, which you mentioned to Senator Paul, but also about the newsletters which he has not -- I don't think he has explained that sufficiently. If he comes in number second -- or he comes in number two, then I think that's something that is going to be highlighted much more into the next primaries.

O'BRIEN: All right. We're going to continue these conversations with our panelists.

Mr. Mayor, thank you very much. David, of course, giving us an update on the polls as well.

We've got other -- believe it or not, there's other news than politics. I know you're shocked. But, yes, Christine Romans has a look at those stories for us.

Hey, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi. A lot going on this morning, Soledad.

New, an American on trial in Iran for espionage has been sentenced to death. Amir Hekmati was found guilty of working for an enemy country and spying for the CIA. The State Department claims he has been falsely accused, and has demanded his release.

Music, prayers and tears to remember the Tucson shooting rampage. A candlelight vigil capped an emotional weekend to mark one year since six people were killed and 13 wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She attended last night, along with her husband, Mark Kelly, and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

All right. Tebow time went into overdrive Sunday. Tebow's 80- year touchdown pass and the first play in overtime led the Denver Broncos to a 29-23 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Broncos advance to play the New England Patriots in the NFL's divisional round on Saturday.

And the Hyundai Elantra has just been named North American car of the year at the Detroit auto show. The Range Rover Evoke was named truck of the year.

Now, let's check in on the markets. U.S. stocks futures of the Dow, NASDAQ, S&P 500, all trading higher at the moment. Things are a little choppy today, though, folks.

Today is the first meeting of the New Year between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Angela Merkel. Optimism about the U.S. economy after that strong jobs report on Friday is being overshadowed a bit today by concerns over Europe's debt crisis and the way forward with those political talks -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. Christine, thanks very much.

Medical news to tell you about this morning. Novartis is voluntarily recalling several popular over-the-counter drugs. It includes certain Bufferin and Excedrin products. There were complaints about mislabeled and broken pills.

So, we're going to talk with senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. She's in Atlanta this morning.

So, Elizabeth, what kind of risks are we talking about here? What's happening?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Novartis says nothing bad has happened. Nobody has gotten sick because of this.

But here's the issue, Soledad. What they are saying is there is a possibility that for example Excedrin might have been put in a Gas-X bottle or Bufferin might even put in a NoDoz bottle, and that's a problem. You don't want that to happen.

So, what you have to do is look out for these products. For example, Excedrin and NoDoz, you do not want to purchase those products if they were made -- or if the expiration date, rather, is December 20th, 2014 or earlier. So, that's a huge chunk of product, anything December 20th, 2014 or earlier. And as for Bufferin and Gas- X Prevention, December 20th, 2013 or earlier.

So, again, that is a lot of products. And it's not just plain old Excedrin. It's Excedrin P.M., it's all of these different kinds of things. So it's different variations of these products.

O'BRIEN: All right. Elizabeth Cohen updating us.

And folks, of course, I think can go to our Web site as well if they want to get more information on what exactly they should be returning back to the pharmacy.

Still to come which morning on STARTING POINT, a moment ago, we were talking to Senator Rand Paul. Straight ahead, Christine Romans is going to crunch the numbers to find out what a Ron Paul presidency would mean for the country, because, of course, we just heard from mayor of Manchester, everybody cares about the economy.

Jon Huntsman, he says he can feel the momentum building. Well, he better hope so. It's time to win big or go home at this point. We'll talk to his secret weapons on the campaign trail. That would be his three daughters.

And then later, I'd go one-on-one with the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin. We'll talk about her weight loss, her marriage, her dad's award, civil rights, everything with Aretha Franklin -- straight ahead.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Soledad O'Brien, and you're looking at where our makeshift set is this morning, Chez Vachon, where they've been bringing us coffee and breakfast, and we truly appreciate it, but we're talking about the economy.

A couple of minutes ago, we had Rand Paul, Sen. Rand Paul, whose father, Ron Paul, of course, is a candidate for president. We talked about a lot of things, but we didn't talk much about the economy. I want to do that now. Ron Paul, of course, wants the government out of your life, as Rand Paul told us many times.

He also would like the government out of the economy. He proposed cutting spending drastically, cutting spending immediately. CNN financial expert, Christine Romans, is back to tell us how he'd do it and what his plans and what it would all mean. Hey, Christine.

ROMANS: Hi, there. You know, Mark Zandi from Moody's economy.com when I presented him with this economic plan, I said, you know, what would cutting $1 trillion out of the economy in one year do? He said, the economy would evaporate. It would evaporate. It's just not feasible. So, there you go.

That's from middle of the road economists. I mean, going into the election, it's critical to understand, you know, how this is going to impact your money. We're looking at each candidate what their plan does. I want to start with Ron Paul here. Look, he wants to cut $1 trillion out of a $15 trillion economy in the first year. It would change everything.

He wants to cut 440,000 government jobs immediately. He wants to close a third of the cabinet level departments, Soledad, commerce, education, energy, HUD, the interior department. He wants to shut down the TSA, make that be a private sector, take those responsibilities, slash defense funding.

He wants to end foreign aid, end the foreign wars, cut defense, bring spending back to 2006 levels. Soledad, this is what it looks like. This is what -- this red line is his budget. His total outlay. I mean, look at that cliff. He wants to slam the brakes on spending, compared with what the president proposes, you can see just how dramatic that is.

He wants to end the fed. He says the Federal Reserve is distorting the value of the dollar. He says the fed printing money to response. (INAUDIBLE) crisis is making it worthless. It will cause dangerous inflation.

O'BRIEN: There's a lot here, Christine. Right. There's a lot here that's sort of no, no, no, stop, no, no, no, no, no.

ROMANS: Right.

O'BRIEN: And it's interesting, when you talk to Rand Paul about sort of -- we were talking to him earlier not about the economy but the sort of sense that both people who are Democrats and people who are Republicans, as well, are sometimes incredibly fearful of that -- what's the right word -- I don't think extreme approach to --

RON BROWNSTEIN, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Well, the senator and I got into a little bit of a disagreement about whether the Civil Rights Act opposition was relevant. And why I thought the fact that he has a lot of minority support was not relevant to the question I was asking. And the reason I didn't think it was relevant is because the real issue with his opposition to the civil rights act is really the same one that Christine brings up.

What is the point where ideological consistency becomes an enemy of pragmatic decision making? And you know, when you got -- people are attracted to the purity of a candidate who takes their views to the limit. But when you take them to the limit on a lot of different fronts, you end up in places that a lot of Americans kind of look around and say, huh?

And I think the fact that he would go to the House floor in 2004 and say the Civil Rights Act was a mistake after it was probably the single most important piece of domestic legislation passed in the 21st century, it's kind of an analogous what will you see here. There's a lot of suspicion about government. There are --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: That's what gets people to love him, right, because it makes sense. Cut, cut, cut.

JAMES PINDELL, POLITICAL ANALYST, WMUR: Well, here in New Hampshire, when you go to these rallies and talk to Ron Paul supporters, they're saying, why isn't someone saying what he's saying? They're not saying, why isn't he not the commander in chief right now? It's different --

O'BRIEN: Right. That is true. I think people think it's brilliant and it seems very simple.

DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECH WRITER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: When you compare -- here's -- I draw this and another analogy between the civil rights position and the economic position. When you say Ron Paul's economic plan, Ron Paul doesn't have an economic plan for America.

Ron Paul has an economic plan for himself. This is a fundraising operation. This is a direct mail scheme. That's what it always has been.

PINDELL: But he does believe in it.

FRUM: Well, he tells us actually no when he tells us those things I said back in the 1990s under my byline, I don't believe that.

BROWNSTEIN: you know, we're learning a chunk of the Republican coalition believes it, and it's not clear how the party is going to be able to accommodate and react to --

FRUM: He's direct mail artist. That's what he is. O'BRIEN: We'll continue this conversation in a moment. Actually, I'm going to say no, because I've got to get to the commercial break or I will be fired at the end of the show, but we will bring you in in just a little bit on the other side.

Straight ahead, as we talk about the economy, I want to talk about the folks who own this cafe. They had quite a struggle, and we'll ask them how they're doing and what their success is due to. We're back right after this commercial break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Just as the economy was crashing in 2008, Jessica and Robert Perkins decided that they would make a giant financial commitment. What they did was to buy this place, Chez Vachon, which is a busy, busy restaurant and diner, a breakfast place we've been enjoying this morning. But people probably thought you were insane because, of course, the timing was terrible. How worried were you?

ROBERT PERKINS, OWNER, CHEZ VACHON: We figured food. Everybody always eats food. So, we felt pretty good coming in to buy it. We figured we'd do all right.

O'BRIEN: You've been able to not only maintain this business, which I think it's been around for about 31 years, is that right?

ROBERT PERKINS: Yes.

O'BRIEN: How were you able to also grow it?

ROBERT PERKINS: We came up with a lunch menu when we first opened up that they didn't really have a big lunch menu. It was known basically for breakfast. And it seemed like that helped us pull that different part of the segment in from area to eat, be here both times, breakfast and lunch.

O'BRIEN: So, Jessica, when you look around, and I know, you know, it's a lot of locals coming in to enjoy breakfast or lurch or, you know, everything, one of the big concerns that your customers are talking about, and I know you also have two sons, and this is a time when the economy is struggling.

JESSICA PERKINS, OWNER, CHEZ VACHON: Obviously, education is a big concern for a lot of people. There's a lot of families in our area and just the economy in general. They're having, you know, they're wondering if they're going to be working next week or the ones who are out of work are wondering if they're going to find a job. It's a difficult situation sometimes.

O'BRIEN: Cafes like this are stopping points for every single politician so they can come and glad hand everybody. Have they been coming through?

ROBERT PERKINS: We have had some of them come through. We had Romney come through, and Rick Santorum was here. Ron Paul was here a lot. But that's basically it. This year has been a very weird year for politics in New Hampshire. You don't see as much signage out there. You didn't see the candidates come as much to New Hampshire as they do, I don't think.

O'BRIEN: But how do you read that? What do you think that means?

ROBERT PERKINS: I think in the today of the internet, text messaging, and all that, I think that they're getting their message out in different ways. A lot more debates this year. So, it --

O'BRIEN: Unending almost.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBERT PERKINS: Yes. It's almost like they're not doing the groundwork in New Hampshire like they -- it's almost like we're not as important as we used to be, which seems kind of weird. I was kind of distressed hearing everybody was going down south. You know, New Hampshire, they should have been here for -- they should be here.

O'BRIEN: One word. Who are you supporting?

ROBERT PERKINS: I like Romney. I do. I think he's got the best shot of getting us back working.

O'BRIEN: Clearly, as your wife shakes her head no over your shoulder. Who are you supporting?

(LAUGHTER)

JESSICA PERKINS: Jon Huntsman.

O'BRIEN: All right. Well, we're going to have Jon Huntsman's three daughters joining us here. They're in the back. We'll be talking with them about their dad straight ahead. I want to thank you very much. Poutine is the specialty of the house.

ROBERT PERKINS: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Fries, cheese, gravy. Low-calorie, shockingly.

ROBERT PERKINS: Exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Fat-free, I'm told. It's actually very, very good.

We're going to take a short break. When we come back, as I mentioned, Jon Huntsman's daughters. Now is the time for their father if he wants to rise in the polls and get people in to vote for him on primary day. We'll talk to them about their strategy, straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Good morning and welcome to STARTING POINT. I'm Soledad O'Brien. It's nice to have you. We are live from morning from Chez Vachon in Manchester, New Hampshire. And it of course is primary eve. Ahead in our next half hour, we're going to meet the Huntsman girls. I call you the young women, whose dad is running to be president. Of course, good news this morning with new polls that shows he is on the rise. But is it enough to catch the front-runner? We'll talk about that.

Plus, my exclusive interview with Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul. We'll talk about her weight loss, health scare, and her upcoming wedding. And of course her dad as well, a civil rights pioneers, who won a big award that she accepted on his behalf over the weekend.

But first let's get right to CNN's Christine Romans with a look at the other stories making news this morning. It is not all politics, believe it or not. Christine?

ROMANS: Good morning. You're right, Soledad. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in Venezuela today to meet with President Hugo Chavez. It is his first stop on a tour of Latin America. The trip will also take Ahmadinejad to Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Cuba.

New details emerging in the search for a missing toddler in Maine this morning. Ayla Reynolds vanished from her father's home last month. His grandmother claims that family members at the home that night had nothing to do with Ayla's disappearance. Police suspect foul play but have no suspects.

And for the first time since the middle of October we are paying more for gasoline. According to Lundberg Survey, gas prices jumped 12 cents over the last three weeks to a national average now of $3.36 a gallon.

Now let's check in on the markets. U.S. stack futures for the DOW, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 all trading higher at the moment. Today is the first meeting of the Newt year between the French and German presidents. Optimism about the U.S. economy after the strong jobs report on Friday overshadowed a bit today by concerns over that meeting and Europe's debt crisis.

(WEATHER BREAK)

O'BRIEN: The former governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman, is saying that he is starting to see momentum build for his campaign in the state where he has really staked his campaign, which is this state, the state of New Hampshire. Newly released polls back him up a little bit on that. There's a new Suffolk poll that came out about 90 minutes ago that shows him gaining some ground. Mitt Romney's lead has shrunk a little bit, but he is up to 13 points. He was down two points, so Jon Huntsman is up. That's good news for him.

But of course, it is late in the game, and Mitt Romney still has a pretty commanding lead. This is all of course over the backdrop of those two debates over the weekend. An American Research Group poll, which has been discounted by some folks, has Romney ahead by 23 points with Huntsman surging into second place.

Romney and Huntsman kind of went at it over the weekend in the debates. Listen to what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He criticized me while he was out raising money for serving my country in China. Yes, under a democrat. Like my two sons are doing in the United States Navy. They are not asking who, what political affiliation the president is.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we serve our country first by standing for people who believe in conservative principles and doing everything in our power to promote an agenda that does not include president Obama's agenda.

HUNTSMAN: This nation is divided, David, because of attitudes like that.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: He got a big round of applause for that. Jon Huntsman has really bet absolutely everything on New Hampshire. He has to do well here. He has, though, three secret weapons, and those are his daughters, who join us this morning. Mary Anne Huntsman is joining us, Abby Huntsman, and Liddy Huntsman with us this morning. Nice to see you, ladies. The good news for your dad, he is climbing in the polls. The bad news, there is only 36 hours to go. How worried are you about how this is going to turn out?

MARY ANNE HUNTSMAN, DAUGHTER OF JON HUNTSMAN: I'm not worried at all. What we're seeing right now is my dad is going in the right direction. The other candidates are going in the wrong direction. And I really think that we're going to see him as a surprise here in New Hampshire, where you have Romney, who has been working for easily 15 years around this state, Massachusetts, and my dad has only been on the ground for a couple of months. So, you know, I think with 36 hours to go, I still think we can see a big surprise.

ABBY HUNTSMAN: And no one knew my dad six months ago in this state. He has worked the ground, and we have seen the reaction from voters here and they connect with him. And the ones who have come to see him are excited about his message, the believe in him and they love his honesty.

O'BRIEN: But the stakes are high. It's all the eggs in this basket.

ABBY HUNTSMAN: I think the story will be, you know, Romney has been here for so long. Who can actually show those numbers to compete here? And I think my dad coming from nowhere six months ago now to that poll at 17, I think that's big.

O'BRIEN: I want to talk to you a little bit about your strategy on YouTube. Let's show a little clip of the Huntsman girls on YouTube.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARY ANNE HUNTSMAN: We need you to get involved to make sure our next president is based on substance --

ABBY HUNTSMAN: Not sound bites.

LIDDY HUNTSMAN: Check out our dad at Jon2012.com and follow us on Twitter @Jon2012Girls.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: This got a lot of play when you first did it. What was the strategy on doing it? And the mustache is very natural. You wouldn't know they were you.

(LAUGHTER)

MARY ANNE HUNTSMAN: You can't recognize us now, right?

O'BRIEN: What was the strategy to approach it this way?

ABBY HUNTSMAN: With the YouTube?

LIDDY HUNTSMAN: Very spur of the moment. I think a lot of the things we have done has all been spur of the moment. I think we woke up and kind of said --

ABBY HUNTSMAN: It was all done in a day.

O'BRIEN: And the media were talking about it when that first came out a lot. Do you guys give your dad advice when it comes to appealing to the young demographic?

ABBY HUNTSMAN: I think just raising seven kids. He is definitely in the loop of what's going on, and we are very close in our family. We help pick out his ties. Keep him in the loop with Facebook and Twitter. You just have to in the 21st century. You have to be aware of what's going on.

O'BRIEN: I want to ask you about the campaign trail for the families. There was an ugly ad that ran from people who support Ron Paul. And even the Paul campaign itself called it a disgraceful ad. And the question was, it was an ad that talked about your adopted sisters, one who is adopted from China, the other from India, and it said "American values or Chinese values?" And it was, you know, ugly. And I wonder, do you ever feel like this is just a game and it's going to get nasty. Or you feel like, shouldn't we be off limits to have a little baby as a target of an ad?

MARY ANNE HUNTSMAN: Right. I think it was a very unfortunate thing. And we hope that our little sisters never come across this. Obviously, getting into a campaign, you set yourself up for videos like this. I mean, you just have to move beyond it. But personally, I think the video showed my dad's capability on China, because China is such a huge relationship that we have with the United States.

ABBY HUNTSMAN: To make fun of that is a strange thing. Who wouldn't want a president in today's age that understands China and understands the relationship? I think that's an important thing moving forward.

O'BRIEN: We opened the segment talking about Mitt Romney taking a lot at your dad that he was working if are a Democratic president. You say his comeback in the debate that actually won him some applause, and I thought it was a good comeback.

LIDDY HUNTSMAN: My dad said it perfectly -- attitudes like that is what it is dividing our country. And I think everybody -- I think everybody agrees with that statement. And I think that's what my dad is trying to bring. He's trying to bring trust and country first, and not politics first. And I think that's why people see him as a unique candidate.

ABBY HUNTSMAN: When you look at it, we are all Americans. We are all struggling. We all want a better tomorrow. We need to come together, especially at this time. And that's the message he is providing the people of New Hampshire, and I think they're resonating to that.

O'BRIEN: What's your plan for the rest of the day? An out and out sprint in. Let's see, high heels? Oh, no, no.

(LAUGHTER)

MARY ANNE HUNTSMAN: We hide them under the table.

O'BRIEN: It's not high heels. You guys can cover some ground today.

MARY ANNE HUNTSMAN: Yes. After being in New Hampshire for so long, you can't do the high heels.

ABBY HUNTSMAN: We are doing a diner tour today.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: I have been doing the diner tour too. And then you have to go straight to the treadmill tour later. Where will you be tomorrow night?

MARY ANNE HUNTSMAN: I don't know.

ABBY HUNTSMAN: We'll be in Manchester tomorrow night. I think the campaign.

O'BRIEN: The whole family together?

ABBY HUNTSMAN: Yes, the whole family.

MARY ANNE HUNTSMAN: And then off to South Carolina.

O'BRIEN: It does not end. Thank you for being with us. Check them out online as well. The YouTube videos are very funny. I like them.

Still ahead this morning, the queen of soul -- an exclusive interview with Aretha Franklin. She talks a little bit about her dad, her music, talks about how she lost 85 pounds and how she's running Wal-Marts to do it. And she also talks about her upcoming wedding.

Then ahead in our reveal, Rick Santorum says President Obama is an elitist for suggesting that everybody should go to college. What do the numbers show? What does a college education actually get you? We'll take a look at that when we come back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Over the weekend, Aretha Franklin picked up a prestigious Trumpet award on behalf of her late father, the reverend C.L. Franklin, who was highly regarded for his civil rights work. But also it was in his church where the queen of soul learned to sang. I had a chance to sit down with her before she got that award on his behalf for an exclusive interview. We talked about her upcoming marriage, music, and also a little bit about the memories of her late father.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARETHA FRANKLIN, SINGER: He organized and led the great march in Detroit in June of 1963 to the tune of about a million and a half, two million people, down Woodward, which was the main street in Detroit.

O'BRIEN: A civil rights legend, of course.

FRANKLIN: Yes. That set the pace for the great march in Washington that Dr. King did thereafter.

O'BRIEN: Tell me a little bit about your dad's impact on your music. You obviously performed in his church.

FRANKLIN: Yes. Very early on, he taught me a number of things having to do with timing and phrasing and different things like that and coaching me in different ways.

O'BRIEN: Do you think he knew just how famous and successful you would be?

FRANKLIN: I don't know. He did say at one point that one day I would sing for kings and queens. He did say that. And I have subsequently. I have.

O'BRIEN: So what's your favorite song that you've ever done?

FRANKLIN: My favorite song, oh, my God.

O'BRIEN: Yes. FRANKLIN: I have had a lot of favorite songs. I don't have one favorite song. I've had many.

O'BRIEN: "Respect", a lot of people thought.

FRANKLIN: "Respect" of course is one of the favorites.

O'BRIEN: Did you look at that as a civil rights anthem?

FRANKLIN: "Respect"?

O'BRIEN: Yes.

FRANKLIN: It was a civil rights mantra.

O'BRIEN: Did it feel like for you it was too?

FRANKLIN: Yes. Well, I perfectly thought it applied well. Everybody wants respect. Who doesn't want respect? From the smallest child maybe three years old to a 90 and 100, everybody wants respect.

O'BRIEN: When you fast forward to 2008 and the inauguration of the nation's first black president, what was going through your mind while you're sitting there in the hat?

FRANKLIN: Oh the hat. The hat was notorious, wasn't it?

O'BRIEN: Yes, it was. The famous hat.

FRANKLIN: The infamous hat. I love it. The hat had a -- had a whole thing of its own. But anyway what a great moment in history, what a wonderful moment. Just to have been asked to be a part of something that great that will never, ever happen again only one time in history.

O'BRIEN: Did the hat go to the Smithsonian?

FRANKLIN: The hat was on its way to the Smithsonian and that's when I found out I had to have surgery.

O'BRIEN: What happened back when you had your health scare? What did it feel like? Because we were getting, reporters were getting emails.

FRANKLIN: Yes, yes.

O'BRIEN: That you had pancreatic cancer and you literally were about to die.

FRANKLIN: Well, I had a tumor. And that was taken care of. It's behind me. And thank God it's behind me.

O'BRIEN: Can you give me more details of it?

FRANKLIN: There are just -- there are no more details. That was it. O'BRIEN: Where was it?

FRANKLIN: That was it. There are no more details.

O'BRIEN: So tell me a little bit about the weight because you look great.

FRANKLIN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Last I heard, you lost 85 pounds.

FRANKLIN: I did from where I was. But I put 15 or 20 of those pounds back on. And I'm working to get them back off now.

O'BRIEN: What do you do to get them off?

FRANKLIN: Now, it's an up and down thing.

O'BRIEN: Your boyfriend --

(CROSSTALK)

FRANKLIN: My man.

O'BRIEN: You're man.

FRANKLIN: I don't have a boyfriend. Yes.

O'BRIEN: Your man is somebody who's been in your life a long time.

Why get married now?

FRANKLIN: Well, why not get married now? I need someone to take care of me, help take care of me.

O'BRIEN: You don't feel taken care of?

FRANKLIN: Well, not as good as I could be. I take fabulous care of myself. Let's just put that on record. But it wouldn't hurt, you know, for someone to be there to -- to remind you of certain things, you know. It wouldn't hurt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Oh, it was such a fun interview with her.

Are you getting a phone call? David Frum is taking calls while the rest of us are working on the panel.

DAVID FRUM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's -- that looked like fun.

O'BRIEN: Yes, she's amazing. You know one thing that I asked her, was does she really understand like the cultural impact? I mean, again, she is the "Queen of Soul", of songs like "Holy Holy." You know songs that I think a lot of artists look to as important to them.

And she kind of brushed it off like, well, you know, you never know what's going to resonate. You just never know what's going to be a success and what's not.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The other thing is we -- we spend so much time interviewing politicians and talking to elected officials and people who run companies. And in 50 years, we won't remember any of their names, and people will be singing her songs.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: I mean, think about it. I mean, it's just culture --

O'BRIEN: And she knows it. That's what makes her the "Queen of Soul."

BROWNSTEIN: Culture -- culture outlives politics in every society.

O'BRIEN: She talked a little bit about Detroit, because she was a Detroit native, and Detroit, of course, struggling very hard and she sort of made a big plea for all the companies that there are to stay. She told me she has a secret passion. What do you think she likes to do as we we're talking? That put you on the spot.

FRUM: Well, clearly knitting.

O'BRIEN: Crocheting. We have a winner.

FRUM: Did you ask her about George Romney? Newly relevant that the son of the governor, who was the governor of Michigan when she led and her father --

JAMES PINDELL, POLITICAL ANALYST, WMUR-TV: I think she had a lot cooler things to ask her about.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes right, right.

O'BRIEN: We actually didn't talk a lot about politics because she is such a strong Democrat. She really, I think like a lot of people watching the Republican race, that they don't care about the people. She didn't seem to really care at all. She did talk about her wedding dress.

I know you three all morning have been bothering me for the details.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: She said Donna Karan is who she love but you know, you guys don't care. There's a big (INAUDIBLE) that she wants to wear Donna Karan. Although she listed a couple of other people, Vera Wang and others that she really likes. But she is really fun. She has been business a minute as she like to say, yes, yes -- she's incredible. It was a lot of fun for me.

Still ahead this morning, back to politics with Rick Santorum, who says every kid doesn't have to go to college. But what we reveal, what a college degree could get you, might be very interesting.

That's back right after this commercial break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We are still at the diner this morning. It is time now for "Our Reveal."

We are looking at Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who has been playing up his blue collar credentials, really started when we were in Iowa.

But over the weekend in New Hampshire, Santorum suggested that President Obama is a snob for suggesting that all Americans go to college. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was so outraged that the President of the United States stood up and said that every child in America should go to college. Well, who are you -- who are you to say that every child in America -- I mean, the hubris of this President to think that he knows what's best for every child.

You know, there are -- I have seven kids. Maybe they'll all go to college. But if one like his wants to go and be an auto mechanic, good for him. That's a good paying job, using your hands and using your mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: He's outraged. It's hubris. And James is sitting right next to him.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: No, no it's fine.

BROWNSTEIN: You've got the whole panel here.

PINDELL: No, I'm excited and so upset.

O'BRIEN: Let's crunch those numbers. Because back in the day, as they say a high school grad was almost guaranteed a pretty good job with a decent salary, which would have benefits, vacation and a pension too. But take a look at how the economy have changed over the years.

First take a look at the unemployment rate. According to the Labor Department, the unemployment rate for someone with just a high school diploma is 8.7 percent. This is for all Americans. If you have a bachelor's degree or higher, that rate is cut in half to 4.1 percent. And of course those numbers change dramatically if you break it down by Latinos, if you break it down by African-Americans.

Now, if you look at what you can make high school diploma, $798 -- is that a week?

FRUM: Weekly earnings.

O'BRIEN: Weekly earnings, yes. But a college degree, that number jumps to $1,047 a week. So that's a pretty dramatic difference.

FRUM: And it's widening.

O'BRIEN: And -- and it's widening and according to the Department of Labor, when you look at the fastest-growing industries, three out of the top five require at least a college degree. That's what they call STEM jobs, that's the science, technology, engineering and math -- that what STEM stands for.

But to Santorum's point the other two, home health aides, personal care aides don't -- those are the second fastest-growing.

As for auto technicians, which is what Santorum was referring to, they actually are predicting that that industry is going to grow more slowly than the average. So hubris, outrage --

FRUM: No it is not clear -- if those -- if we took those numbers up to 100 percent of the population, and if everybody in America had a college degree, those numbers would not remain true.

PINDELL: Right.

FRUM: They are describing a deeper reality. And the drive over the past 20 years to send more and more people to college for part of the time, we have not seen an increase in college completion. We've seen an increase in college beginning and enormous levels of student debt. And college tuition increasing at twice the rate of inflation.

This is a serious point. After health care inflation, education cost inflation is really an important issue for the American.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He is right and wrong both. He's right because not everybody should have to go to college, and President Obama isn't talking about everybody going to college. He's talking about moving up our share of people going to some college, I think 40 percent.

But where's he's wrong is the question is who you are talking about, you're tracking away from college. If your parents graduated from college today, you are five times more likely to graduate yourself than someone whose parents didn't. That actually goes to the core of what he says he's concerned about, the decline of upward mobility in the country.

O'BRIEN: We are going to talk about this as the understand point approaches.

Straight ahead, we'll take a look at what we learned in "The End Point." Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: "End Point" this morning. Let's begin with Maria Cardona, who's in Washington, D.C. What did you get out of today?

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, from the last segment, Soledad, that Santorum like every other candidate is misguided and continues to not be correct in what this President is trying to do. How dare this president want every kid to go to college? Look, his programs have allowed thousands and thousands of students to go to college, as well as vocational schools.

Secondly, I have also learned I need to go get some poutine, Soledad. That was delicious.

O'BRIEN: It actually is very, very good. David Frum, what do you think?

FRUM: Well, first, I would say, we need to lay down right now. It is poutine. That is a bit of Canadian culture that I am here to affirm.

CARDONA: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: I'm correcting the Canadian. Sorry. My bad.

FRUM: My take away is the general election campaign starts after this New Hampshire vote. After New Hampshire votes, it will be clear that Ron Paul is an also-ran. Mitt Romney on his way to the nomination. And we now start talking about the fundamental choices of the country, not the internal Republican debate.

O'BRIEN: James, you have 10 seconds or less.

JAMES PINDELL, POLITICAL ANALYST, WMUR-TV: If Jon Huntsman wants to be serious, he needs to start eating more here.

BROWNSTEIN: There it is. Real quick, New Hampshire, Suffolk University is right, reaffirms Iowa. Muddle is my friend for Mitt Romney. But still ask the question why are two-thirds of the party so skeptical about him even as he seems to be inexorably marching towards the nomination?

O'BRIEN: And my "End Point" for this morning is we keep hearing the candidates all of them at some point say, well, what I said then, we are not talking about back then, we are talking about today. But I do think it does matters in a day and age where people have access to information more than ever. They have to talk about what they are doing today, because the voting electorate seems very ambivalent.

We'll of course, keep watching what happens in this race.

PINDELL: A fresh order.

O'BRIEN: Good and good for you is what I like to say. We're going to toss it now to "CNN NEWSROOM" with Kyra Phillips as we dig into the French Fries, the Canadian Chief herd and the spicy gravy -- the breakfast of champions.

(CROSSTALK)

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Stay away from the poutine. Yes, I am married to a Canadian. That stuff will catch up quickly. Be careful.

Thanks so much guys.