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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Brewer: Obama Is "Thin-Skinned"; East Haven Mayor's Mea Culpa; Florida Debate Preview; Navy SEALs Rescue Kidnapped Aid Workers; Student Loan Interest 3.4 Percent Now; JCPenney Stores Overhaul; Courting Florida's Hispanic Vote; The Haves Vs. The Have Nots; Arrest In Implant Health Scare; Washington Tops List Of Literature Cities; Reward For Convicted Murderer

Aired January 26, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It is 6:00 in the morning on the east coast. I'm Ashleigh Banfield with an EARLY START.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are bringing you the news from A to Z. It is 6 a.m. in the east.

BANFIELD: If you saw this, it was quite something Jan Brewer behind that limo was wagging her finger at the president getting in his face. You know what? She is talking about what triggered tensions between her and the president on the tarmac.

SAMBOLIN: There is a lot of anger in East Haven, Connecticut, in the Latino community in particular. The mayor is apologizing for this crazy taco remark that he made on the allegations of police brutality in that area.

Is the apology have people calm down because of this crazy controversy? We're going to dig a little bit deeper into the story and get some answers.

BANFIELD: Also, overseas, what a day. A U.S. aid worker freed with a colleague from Denmark. You know what? Jessica on the right could be reuniting with her husband and her father this morning.

It's great news, the Blackhawks, wow, the operation. Wait until you hear the step-by-step.

SAMBOLIN: And the reward is now being offered for a missing murderer in Mississippi. Governor Haley Barbour pardoned four convicted killers right before he left office. All but one has appeared in court. Officials admit they have no idea where that man is, Joseph Osmond.

BANFIELD: Feels weird. I'm not even sure if we're allowed to legally call him a murderer because he's been pardoned, which means everything is wiped out.

SAMBOLIN: He's clean.

BANFIELD: He has got a clean slate, but we do know he is a bad guy whether he has a label or not.

Up first though, let's get you to the stunning faceoff, shall we call it between the president and the governor, Obama versus Brewer. It happened on the tarmac as the governor greeted the president at Phoenix airport yesterday while he's on his tour supporting his four or five pillars, can't remember how many pillars were in the "State of the Union."

But things got tense because the two of them got into it about her book. She said a few things in her book about the meeting that she had with the president in the oval office and the president doesn't quite recall the meeting the way she described it.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, the verbal confrontation was triggered by Brewers' book, "Scorpions for Breakfast." She says the president was upset with her characterization of a White House meeting. Brewer called him "thin skinned" to reporters. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Had a little hand-written note for him. He wanted to know what was in the envelope, I told him exactly what was in there and he changed the subject to my book "Scorpions for Breakfast" and was a little bit disenchanted, if you will, about how he was portrayed in the book.

I believe that the book is a very straight forward, honest recollection of what exactly took place at the White House. The bottom line is, I wanted to be there to welcome him, to come and see firsthand what Arizona has done in regards to our economic recovery.

He wanted to talk about the book and I thought he was very thin skinned. They always say a picture is what it is, but I must say that I was not hostile. I was trying to be very, very gracious and I respect the office of the president and I would never be disrespectful in that manner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he walk away from you at the end?

BREWER: I believe when we were in the conversation that I was in the middle of the sentence and he walked away. I wasn't angry at all. I felt a little bit threatened, if you will, and the attitude he had because I was there to welcome him.

There I was there and glad and pleased to share with us the Arizona comeback. I mean, we worked hard to get Arizona back from being number 47th in job growth to number 7. So, I was there to share with him what we have done and ask for that opportunity to sit down and to talk with him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Ms. Brewer said she felt threatened, but there were a lot of secret service there that could have protected her. I will give her the benefit of the doubt on that one. Maybe she was using that word, politically threatened or whatever it was. The White House, by the way, issuing a statement about all of this saying, quote, "After their last meeting, a cordial discussion in the oval office, the governor inaccurately described the meeting in her book. The president looks forward to continuing to take steps to help Arizona's economy grow."

We should also mention we do not know what the president said to the governor. It could have been as testy as she says.

SAMBOLIN: We have no idea. Just the two of them there talking.

All right so now to a story that we first told about yesterday that sparked quite an outrage in the Connecticut community actually it's gone viral.

East Haven mayor, Joseph Maturo was discussing the arrest of four police officers for alleged mistreatment of Latinos. He said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR JOSEPH MATURO, EAST HAVEN, CONNECTICUT: With such tension in the Latino community with a force of 50 officers, still, no police officer of Latino ancestry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And your point being? What are you doing for the Latino community today?

MATURO: I might have tacos when I go home, I'm not quite sure yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: You always know that you got to be careful. You might step in it when you use that, your point being? I even know that in the office politics. The mayor has since apologized for this, but people are asking, is that enough just an apology?

A lot of people are saying, no. CNN's Jason Carroll is busy following this one. It's funny. We were talking to the reporter from the New Haven newspaper earlier who said a lot of the frustration is coming from outside the community. People who are angry are coming from outside community.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've seen it everywhere. I mean, you look at it on the Internet and you see people writing in on Facebook pages, et cetera talking about what happened here. The question is, will that apology be enough?

I'm not so sure. I'm not so sure after speaking to some of the people in the community. You know, Mayor Maturo told me yesterday that the stress of the situation basically got the best of it.

He had planned to read a statement apologizing for what he had said and he did, but when pressed, he explained what he meant by that comment that got him into so much trouble. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: Do you think the apology will be enough? I think that will help.

MATURO: I certainly hope so. I created something that went viral. It was something that the media says, gotcha and ran with it. I accept full responsibility. I have apologized profusely.

CARROLL: It will be helpful at this point if you will at least explain -- it will be helpful if you at least try to explain what you were trying to say about the Latino community. That's what I'm saying.

MATURO: I'm going to get myself in trouble.

CARROLL: In hindsight, what were you trying to say?

MATURO: I don't feel bad going into any community. I didn't feel persecuted by what happened in our town prior to that. So, by going into another section, that's all it meant.

That I could go into a different section of a community and have a bite to eat. I didn't feel -- I didn't feel as though I was being, or our town was being discriminatory or that I was -- that I wasn't afraid to talk to or be in the company of anybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: OK, well, the question now is, will that further explanation be enough for the mayor's critics. Those we spoke to in East Haven's Latino community said it's going to take more than just talk to mend hurt feelings there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How people look like or what they do because it's not fair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You felt offended. Yes, offended.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are tired of the harassment and people following us and it's not right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: Well, Connecticut's governor called the mayor's comments insensitive and showing a lack of judgment. When I asked Mayor Maturo about that he said, look, whatever the governor said, it's correct and is right.

At this point, the mayor says what he wants to do is he wants to promote some healing and he says he wants to focus on the larger issues facing the community. And that, obviously, would be that investigation into the officers with the allegations of, you know, stopping Latinos there and shaking them down.

BANFIELD: This is not the end.

CARROLL: This investigation has been going on since 2009.

BANFIELD: That reporter earlier this morning from the New Haven newspaper said he expects a couple more waves of arrests.

CARROLL: It could be. I mean, remember what investigators are saying about these officers. They call them bullies with badges. Basically saying it was not just targeting Latinos in the area, it was covering up evidence.

It was allegations of assault. So these are some very serious allegations. They said that there is basically a culture that exists within the department. When you have a culture, if the allegations are true, the it would stand a reason that there might be more.

SAMBOLIN: If this is your leader, you know, it causes all sorts of questions about what is really happening.

BANFIELD: That doesn't even get into the civil rights issues at this point.

CARROLL: But, once again, the mayor basically saying I stepped in something, I made a mistake and it wasn't what I meant.

SAMBOLIN: He blamed the media. So how do you really accept that apology? He says he takes responsibility, but then he says it's the media.

CARROLL: Like others say, it will take more than words at this point.

BANFIELD: Good work. Thank you, Jason. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: And tonight, the Republicans who would be president get one last chance to address Florida voters in mass during a CNN debate in Jacksonville.

Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are running neck and neck in the sunshine state. Let's look at the latest polls here. CNN/"Time"/ORC poll says Romney 36 percent of the vote, Gingrich 34.

CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser is live in Jacksonville with a preview. I hope you are as excited as you were earlier because we have a lot of folks that say they can still change their minds.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: No doubt about it, 25 percent of the people we question in that poll said they could change their minds. That's a high number still, which is five days to go until the primary.

One other number, take a look at this Zoraida. We broke down the overall poll number you just gave. Look at this, Sunday's numbers. We were in the field Sunday through Tuesday. OK, Sunday was the day after Gingrich's big win in the South Carolina primaries double-digit victory.

Look at that, he is ahead of Romney here in Florida among people likely to vote in the primary. But look at the Monday and Tuesday numbers and maybe Gingrich's momentum has started to slow down so, so much on the line tonight.

Remember, 50 delegates here in Florida and winner take all. Three things I'm looking for tonight. We saw Monday's debate in Tampa. Mitt Romney was very much playing offense. Will he continue to do that tonight, but still look presidential?

A second thing, Newt Gingrich seemed to be asleep almost on Monday night's debate. Will he be more forceful in defending himself and also going on the attack against Mitt Romney?

And the third thing, remember, this is still a four-person race. The people on the sides, we've got Rick Santorum and we've got Ron Paul, will they be more active in this debate?

You know, stay tuned. I have the bus behind me there. We've got the debate hall here. We are ready for action.

SAMBOLIN: Paul Steinhauser, you never disappoint. Thank you very much.

BANFIELD: The bus which doubles as a dorm. OK, this is one that Mitt Romney might really like. Are you ready?

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BANFIELD: It might be that Newt Gingrich actually did not have his facts right after all. Are you ready for this?

The former speaker you'll probably remember totally took down our John King here at CNN for starting the debate last week with the question about his ex-wife and what his ex-wife was alleging about the whole open marriage thing.

Newt Gingrich also criticized ABC News for airing that interview with Marianne Gingrich right before the South Carolina primary, remember? You know, he denied anything about every saying to Marianne Gingrich that he had an open marriage.

But here's where he went further, he says this whole interview, ABC News did this interview but refused, refused to interview several witnesses who could back up his side of things. Witnesses he said the campaign even offered ABC News.

It turns out, my friends, that's not so true. I use to work for ABC News. I will tell you this. They once said no. I had a three-source story they said, no, we need more on that.

So I was really suspect about that. Turns out John King had a little conversation with the speaker and here's what the speaker admitted to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, HOST, CNN'S "JOHN KING USA": Well, tonight after persistent questioning by our staff, the Gingrich campaign concedes now, Speaker Gingrich was wrong both in his debate answer and in our interview yesterday.

Gingrich spokesman, Arci Hammon says the only people the campaign offered to ABC were the speakers' two daughters from his first marriage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: I knew something was up, Zoraida. I'm telling you. I knew something was up. I work for that organization. A spokesperson for ABC News said that they even asked Gingrich and his staff for other witnesses.

Anybody that could refute the story and ABC News said none was offered. I sounded odd when Speaker Gingrich said what he said because like I said I had a great story with three sources and I was told, no, not yet, not good enough.

SAMBOLIN: I'm glad he uncovered that. It's now 13 minutes past the hour.

Coming up, the American aid workers saved from her captors by Navy SEALs. Jessica Buchanan, a possible reunion in the works right now. We're very excited about this. We have a live report from Kenya heading your way.

BANFIELD: And also want to get you a quick check of today's travel forecast. That's why Rob Marciano is hard at work. Hello.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Ashley, Zoraida. A tornado watch now in effect. Check it out. This is the same storm that brought that tremendous amount of rainfall and severe weather to Eastern Texas yesterday.

This watch is in effect until noon this afternoon Central Time, New Orleans to Biloxi Mobile and including (inaudible) Pensacola. A little bit of Light snow across parts of the northeast.

This is not a big deal, but the storm bringing the severe weather to the south will be riding up the Appalachians later in the day, as well as warm air. We'll see all rain, but Northern New England and upstate New York will see a little bit of snow with this system.

Temperatures in New York City, 43 degrees. Quick check on weather. EARLY START is coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: We like to have good news in our newscast. This is great. Kidnapping victim Jessica Buchanan, how about that family?

SAMBOLIN: Oh, how exciting for them.

BANFIELD: Three months they've been waiting for her. She's freed in Africa, freed in a daring raid by Navy SEALs and other military members.

And we've got our correspondent on the ground, in Nairobi this morning. Nkepile Mabuse is joining us live. All right. I cannot believe how remarkable, Nkepile, this operation was. It reminded me of the Osama raid and it looked somewhat the same, especially if you look at it graphically speaking. Walk me through it. How did this go down where you are?

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, well, what professionalism, what precision. I mean, this is the kind of stuff that we see in action movies.

U.S. Special Forces parachuting into Somalia in the dead of night. Somalia, one of the most dangerous places on the planet, and then advancing on foot towards these compounds where these hostages were being kept. Yes, they were kept hostage for three months and we understand that Jessica Buchanan's ill health is what expedited this mission.

And then they were flown out of Somalia to Djibouti, this is where the U.S. has its biggest military base here in Africa. Really amazing stuff. And Buchanan and her co-worker, Danish co-worker are to be reunited with their families, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: That's just remarkable stuff.

SAMBOLIN: Good news story (ph).

BANFIELD: It is a great story. And I'm just thrilled to hear it. I do question a little bit the timing of it because I know you just mentioned, Nkepile, that the -- the government has suggested the window was closing because of her ill health, and yet, one of the organizers, lead organizers of the group that she was with said that she wasn't ill at all.

So, I don't know if this is just, you know, details getting lost in the shuffle or there's something else to the timing of this. What are they saying on the ground about just how sick she really was?

MABUSE: And, you know, I haven't spoken to anybody who has seen Jessica Buchanan. We're all waiting to get that first look at her to see if she is well.

I really think this is a matter of two governments, really, and the company that they work for trying to manage the situation the best way possible, Ashleigh. If they say she's gravely ill, how many people do they worry out there? She's been -- they haven't seen her, her family hasn't seen her for three months.

We understand from people here on the ground who have been trying to get hold of her husband, that he just cut off all communications. I mean, this must have been very, very devastating, not knowing if your loved one is going to come out of the most dangerous place on earth alive or not.

So, we'll just have to wait and see for ourselves, really, whether Jessica is sick and if she is sick, how sick she is -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Thank you for that. And imagine what it would have been, Nkepile, for her father, John, to get a phone call from, "Hi, this is Barack Obama calling to say that your daughter's OK." So great news.

Nkepile, thanks for that. Excellent work from our bureau in Nairobi.

SAMBOLIN: It is 6:21 on the East.

Ahead on EARLY START, the last debate on CNN tonight before the primary in Florida. A CNN/"Time" Poll is showing Gingrich and Romney there in a dead heat right now.

And, Ashleigh, JCPenney is no longer going to have sales.

BANFIELD: Pardon?

SAMBOLIN: Apparently they don't like sales any more. But it's a good thing for your wallet, right?

BANFIELD: How is that possible?

SAMBOLIN: You know, here's Christine Romans, has the store's new sales strategy.

You're watching EARLY START.

BANFIELD: I hope it just means lower prices.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: We are "Minding Your Business" this morning. I hate to tell you this. Interest rates for student loans doubling? Christine Romans --

BANFIELD: Yes. Talk about how to take a tranche on student's financial plan.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I know. If Congress does nothing, that is the key here. If Congress does nothing, student loan rates will double this number by July 1st.

The president mentioned at the State of the Union Address, and now you have several different Congress people who are trying to introduce bills. But a 2007 bill that lowered the interest rate to 3.4 percent on federal Stafford loans, right? If they do nothing, it expires in July, right? If they do nothing, that means student loan rates would go back to where they were before in 2007, which is 6.8 percent.

This is real money. How much real money? Say your kid taking out the maximum $23,000 in a Stafford loan, that's $11,000 extra in interest.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my gosh.

ROMANS: $11,000 extra in interest. Everyone says they want to fix it, but I want to be clear here, fixing it will cost more than $5 billion. And we live in an age where everything you want to give to your country, you have to find a way to pay for it because we're in an age of, you know, paying for what you're giving away and that's where it gets complicated.

SAMBOLIN: We've got to do a whole other segment on how to pay for college, right? How to strategically come up with other ways --

ROMANS: Save a third --

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

ROMANS: -- borrow a third and get scholarships in and loans from family for the rest of the third.

BANFIELD: Oh, gosh, loans from family, like they're not taxed.

ROMANS: Grandma --

BANFIELD: Grandma, get on it.

ROMANS: -- you heard me.

SAMBOLIN: Real legacy. Real legacy. And I want to know if I lied when I said JCPenney is not going to have sales any more.

ROMANS: Here's something so interesting. They're going to focus on lower prices -- everyday lower prices. They're going to move away from the big, you know, sales, sales, sales, sales, sales.

This is under the offices of the guys running the company. The new -- the new guys running the company, it came from Apple. The Apple -- he built the Apple Retail Chain and they're trying to remake JCPenney. When was the last time you bought something from JCPenney?

BANFIELD: Oh, I shop there all the time.

ROMANS: Do you, really?

SAMBOLIN: I do.

ROMANS: Midwesterners I have found really shop a lot. And a lot of people use catalog orders for JCPenney. But they're trying to overhaul JCPenney stores. They're overhauling the way the stores look, what they offer and the prices, there will be fewer deep discounts and there will lower everyday prices. They've got 1,000 stores. They're going to bring in brands like Martha Stewart and the fashion designer Nanette Lapor.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, like her.

ROMANS: That's been successful for Target. So, we'll see how the Apple retail branding strategy works for clothes. We'll see how it works.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes. I don't know. I buy appliances there a lot, right? I just bought one of the big blow-up mattress beds. So, I do. I shop there all the time.

ROMANS: There you go.

BANFIELD: Well, we're three Midwesterners.

ROMANS: I know.

BANFIELD: You're looking us like I cackle. Oh, I love JCPenney.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: I just got a down comforter for $19.99. OK.

BANFIELD: All right. We have been also talking about some -- some funky talk between the Governor of Arizona and the President of our fine union. Tense moments on the tarmac. You can see Barack Obama. You can't see Jan Brewer, but for the little top, the blonde hair. But there was some fire, some light, some heat, and it wasn't the Arizona warmth.

SAMBOLIN: And four murderers pardoned by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour right before he left office, three of them actually showed up for a hearing to discuss whether or not they should have been on parole. Where's the fourth one?

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Home stretch half hour. It is 6:31 on the East, everybody. Nice to see you. Welcome to the show.

Making news this morning, some big top stories, but this is the top topper --

SAMBOLIN: And it involves that, Ashleigh, right? The finger pointing.

BANFIELD: Oh, but for the limo, Jan Brewer with the blonde hair, just a little tiny peek of her behind Obama's limo, shaking her finger at the president. The tense exchange some actually said was awkward. The governor shaking the finger because she says the president sparked this exchange when he took exception to how she wrote about him in her book, "Scorpions for Breakfast."

SAMBOLIN: What a title.

BANFIELD: I know.

SAMBOLIN: The Pentagon wants more drones. Their wish list will be presented later today by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Panetta is proposing a 30 percent expansion of its global network of drones and Special Operations bases, while cutting back on conventional forces.

BANFIELD: And an Ohio-born student is back, being released by Syrian authorities after being detained for three weeks, according to his family. Twenty-one-year-old Obada Mzaik was handed over to his father in Damascus last night. Great news for that American family.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, we want to bring in our political panel because we're going to talk about the faceoff between the president and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. And that's exactly what happened. GOP candidates putting on their best face also for voters in Florida.

So, here we go. CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser is live in Jacksonville. Lenny McAllister, conservative commentator and radio host is with us in Chicago. And Jamie Harrison, Democratic strategist and former executive director of the House Democratic Caucus is in Washington. That's a mouthful.

All right. So, before, before we get started here on all things politics, let's talk about the Brewer moment.

Was that much ado about nothing? Paul, let's start with you.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Listen, we know what she said about it. She talked to reporters extensively after the meeting. What we don't know is what the president says about this.

So, I would love to hear his version of the story. We know there has been some I guess you can say bad blood between Brewer and the White House dating back to the passage in 2010 of that controversial immigration law out there. It's something to talk about this morning, but I guess we have to stay tuned until we hear the whole story.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. So, Jamie, she said that she actually handed him that note, saying I want to have a meeting with you, and he said -- you know, he was a little concerned because of what she said in her book about the meeting before.

Do we know anything more about that? Anymore details?

JAIME HARRISON, FMR. EXEC. DIR., HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS: Not much. I think the president is just a little hesitant. If he grants her another meeting, will she write another derogatory remark about him?

So, you know, he's just tired of being the punching bag of the Republican Party and he's just pushing back a little bit.

SAMBOLIN: Lenny, what do you think?

LENNY MCALLISTER, RADIO HOST, "GET RIGHT WITH LENNY MCALLISTER": He's sick of being the punching bag for the Republican Party. Just wait until we get later on in 2012.

It's basically a combination of a media savvy president that's used to having the good image in the media going up against a governor that really has the ear of the Tea Party audience. And they just clashed over something that's been playing out for the last couple years. It's not a surprise. It will blow over and it will probably come back, again, as we move through the campaign season.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, let's change topics here, gentlemen.

Paul, I'm going to begin with you. We just talked a half hour ago about the new CNN/"TIME'/ORC poll numbers. You're saying Gingrich is in a tie, statistically, with Romney. But Romney leads with Latino voters in Florida.

And listen to this poll here. A new ABC/Univision poll shows Latino Republicans strongly favor Romney, 49 percent, over Gingrich, 23 percent. It's a small percentage overall of Republican voters because it's only 11 percent.

But how important is this as we head into that primary?

STEINHAUSER: Oh, it could be very important.

Listen, if this contest is going to be as close as our CNN poll and others indicate, every vote is going to count, especially the Latino community. We are talking about Cuban Americans down in the Miami-Dade area. We're talking about a lot of Puerto Rican voters in the I-40 central corridor. They could be extremely crucial.

You saw both Romney and Gingrich yesterday down there in the Miami area, talking to Univision. That's what you do in the state. They could be a big factor on Tuesday night.

SAMBOLIN: All right.

And, Jamie, of course, they're both stumping for that Latino vote. As Paul just mentioned, they took part in a Spanish-language television, Meet the Candidates Forum. Romney was talking about his family in Mexico -- his family history in Mexico. Romney's dad was actually born in Mexico. He left at the age of 6, never learned Spanish.

Jorge Ramos from Univision actually asked Romney if he would be the first Hispanic president. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think people would think I was being honest with them if I said I was Mexican- American. But I would appreciate it if you get that word out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: It was really interesting moment. How do you think that's going to play, Jamie?

HARRISON: Well, you know, I was very surprised to hear the governor actually acknowledging the fact that people would be somewhat skeptical if he did claim he was Mexican American.

Right now, I want to see how the governor actually tackles the issue of immigration in Florida, but also the issue in Arizona. I mean, you have two different constituencies there. You have the Tea Party folks there in Arizona, who haven't a take on the immigration issue and you have such a large population of Hispanics in Florida.

So, I really want to see, will he be the old Mitt Romney on both sides of the fence?

SAMBOLIN: You know, it's interesting. We're going to talk about that, Lenny, because even though we are talking about immigration, it's not the top priority for Latinos, jobs are. Actually, a Pew Hispanic Research poll says that really for Latinos, that's number six on the agenda of what they would like to deal with. But the Latino vote is very important and maybe the candidates believe that the immigration issue is a way to capture the vote.

So, we hear Gingrich attacking Romney on it. Listen to what Gingrich said about Romney's self-deportation statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatic, you know, $20 million a year income with no work to have some fantasy this far from reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: You know, there's a popular guy in Florida, his name is Marco Rubio. And he told Gingrich to knock it off.

How do you think that's going to play come primary voting?

MCALLISTER: It will have an impact on the primary voting, not just with the Latino community, but you have to remember, Marco Rubio was the face of the Tea Party movement. He took over and overcame Governor Crist down there to go from an unknown person running for the U.S. Senate to being the face of the Tea Party movement and basically sliding into that Senate seat late 2010. So, it will have an impact.

But if people read the tea leaves, this is nothing more than another person from now the Republican establishment of 2011, 2012, now basically trying to at the very least protect Governor Romney as we move into tonight's debate as we move into Tuesday.

I think the Tea Party, although they'll understand what Senator Rubio is saying, they'll also see this as establishment versus grassroots. Gingrich is now becoming that grassroots guy. It's going to be one heck of a fight this evening at the debate.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Paul, Lenny, Jamie -- thank you for joining us.

HARRISON: Thank you.

BANFIELD: All gets under way at 8:00 tonight here on CNN.

And after the break, we're going to take you on a little vacation to Switzerland, Davos to be exact.

SAMBOLIN: Beautiful, though.

BANFIELD: Beautiful, but, you know what? Don't let the beautiful snow belie the fact that Europe is being accused of killing us globally and economically. But at the same time, we're being told that Europe is getting their act together. What exactly are they getting at in that snowy land?

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BANFIELD: Welcome back. Six-forty here on EARLY START.

You've been hearing the president talk over and over about income equality and inequality, and they're talking about it in Europe, as well. What does that matter to us?

SAMBOLIN: A big issue that's resonating half a world away where world leaders have come together to try to stave off a worldwide recession.

BANFIELD: CNN Money's Poppy Harlow is live in Davos, Switzerland.

Girl, you go on the road and you work really hard because you're breaking news left and right from there.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: We're trying. We're trying.

You know, it's so interesting, this 99 percent versus one percent conversation is getting a lot of attention among some of the richest people in the world here at the World Economic Forum.

Billionaire investor George Soros sat down with us for an in- depth interview here, and he had some really interesting points on income inequality and what it means for social unrest, movements like Occupy, what it means this year for that.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Will we see more social unrest this year? Will the situation get worse? Should politicians pay more attention to what's brewing?

GEORGE SOROS, BILLIONAIRE INVESTOR: Yes. I'm afraid that it is brewing because there is a great deal of frustration and anger. I think something ought to be done. So, that's why I'm personally very happy to pay more taxes. A lot of people like me who feel -- in the 1 percent who feel that this is -- this is appropriate.

HARLOW: Is it class warfare?

SOROS: Pardon?

HARLOW: Is it class warfare?

SOROS: Well, that's what my fellow hedge fund managers are saying, but I think it's because they don't like to pay taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Tough words there coming from one of the richest people in the world, guys. Of course, it's coming off of President Obama saying in the State of the Union, he thinks anyone in this country who makes over $1 million a year should pay at least 30 percent in taxes, guys.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, this is what Ashleigh was alluding to earlier, a little breaking news. You just heard about a big CEO endorsement. Tell us about that.

HARLOW: We did. We just wrapped up an interview with Cisco's CEO John Chambers, one of the biggest tech companies in the entire world. He said publicly for the first time he's endorsing Mitt Romney for president. He told me he told Romney that privately on Tuesday evening. He is a Republican, that's well-known. He was an adviser to McCain in 2008.

Some other interesting news. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, told our Richard Quest a little bit earlier, he didn't endorse anyone, but he said he does not think that Romney will be the candidate, calling Romney a, quote, "experienced, knowledgeable and successful guy." He's also saying he thinks it's going to be a very tight race.

BANFIELD: Some of the richest people that we ever talk about in the papers these days, and Bill Gates among them as well, is also with you.

HARLOW: Yes.

BANFIELD: You're talking to him in a little bit. But you already have some news about him?

HARLOW: I do. Sitting down with Bill Gates in a little under an hour. The Gates Foundation run by Bill and Melinda just committed $750 million to the global fund that fights HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis around the globe. This comes after a $650 million pledge that they gave the foundation a few years back.

Two years ago in Davos, when I sat down with them, they made an $8 billion pledge for vaccines. So, these are folks who give a lot of money away, and their real focus is vaccines and fighting disease in the emerging and developing countries. We're going to sit down and talk to them about that. Also interested to get Bill Gates' take on the 99 percent and one percent conversation since it's really dominating here.

BANFIELD: Yes. He sounds like the one percent of the one percent.

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HARLOW: You are right.

BANFIELD: Poppy, I hope you got a good night's rest, my friend, because you are going to have one heck of a day in front of you.

HARLOW: Yes, three hours.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: Thank you, Poppy Harlow.

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: Thanks, guys.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: So, she got three hours sleep, because you know what, everybody who's anybody is there, right?

BANFIELD: I know.

ROMANS: And it's a reporter's dream, because you're chasing after the people who are making the decisions. And it's interesting because they're making the decisions now about how the U.S. is going to make it this year, because it's what happens in Europe, right?

BANFIELD: What happens in Europe doesn't stay in Europe.

SAMBOLIN: No, it affects us.

ROMANS: Absolutely. I mean, you've got some squabbling going on between the private lenders and people, the politicians about how to fix Greece. That squabbling is playing out in those halls there's. You've got people talking about state capitalism versus, you know, the western-style capitalism that, you know, lead the middle classes in the Europe and the United States to dominance in the 20th century.

Is China going to be a new model? What does it mean for the U.S. model and Germany? How is Germany going to fit in if it has a problem that is still trying to resolve with Greece? I mean, these are, I would say, real existential issues going on there right now.

And all of them matter to what happens in our recovery. Our economy is slowly recovering, finally. We've got all these other problems around the world.

BANFIELD: We'll look at a dinner table seating who's the most important and who gets to sit next to the host, and I start wondering if the emerging economies start getting the better seats at these tables.

ROMANS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. And they're definitely, they have -- oh, yes. I mean, you hear BRIC, Brazil, Russia, India, China.

BANFIELD: No, I haven't, but thank you for that.

ROMANS: BRIC, it's an acronym for all of you to remember.

BANFIELD: You know, you're smarter than --

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: BRIC, Brazil, Russia, India, China. That is the conversation there. That is the emerging economies who don't play by the rules that we invented, right, that the U.S. middle class and the European middle class benefited from. They play by their own set of rules, state capitalist. And that's what the real story is.

You got China growing at eight percent plus. You've got the UK shrinking in the last quarter, and the U.S. maybe we'll know for sure on Friday, maybe three percent growth. I mean, the story, the emerging markets are where the story is really fascinating.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Christine Romans. It's always nice to have you weigh in, right?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: I have never been colder than standing at that location in Davos. That is the coldest I've ever been in my life.

BANFIELD: Starting your career in Winnipeg.

ROMANS: You've been colder. You're right. You're right.

BANFIELD: Minus 40 when it's warm in the winter.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: All right. Thanks, Christine Romans. Good job.

Soledad O'Brien is busy, hard at work, with all of her materials on "STARTING POINT."

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST, "STARINT POINT": Yes. Yes. Keep telling people that. Hey, good morning, everybody. This morning, we'll be talking about several Americans who've been stopped from boarding flights out of Egypt, including the son of transportation secretary, Ray Lahood. He's among them. We'll talk this morning about how they got caught up in this power struggle between the two countries.

Also, Disneyland, there are some new rules to tell you about. You know, this company has very strict rules for its employees. Well, now, they're allowing anything. No, I'm kidding, they're not, but they actually have changed, lifted a ban for their male employees. We'll tell you what they are doing differently at Disneyland now. That's straight ahead when "Starting Point" begins in just about 10 minutes. We'll see you then.

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SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 51 minutes past the hour. Time to check the stories that are making news this morning.

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SAMBOLIN (voice-over): We are hearing from both sides of yesterday's testy tarmac exchange between Arizona governor, Jan Brewer, and President Obama that happened in Phoenix. Brewer says it is because she wrote in her book that the president wasn't cordial to her when she visited the White House.

The White House claims the president was cordial to her when they met back in June of 2010. There was a lot of fingerpointing on her behalf going there.

BANFIELD (voice-over): I'd love to hear what the president was actually saying. They're both talking about it, but, maybe, we'll find out later.

Here's something else on the radar. Founder of a French company at the center of an international scare involving breast implants is under arrest this morning. Jean-Claude Mas runs something called the Poly implant prosthesis company. Those products, apparently, that are used with that company are not approved for use in the USA.

Don't worry about that. Worry about this. Mas was picked up by police who were investigating the cancer death of a French woman who had those implants, and the police are saying her death is a homicide.

SAMBOLIN: And Washington, D.C., the capital of our country, also the reading, reading capital of the country. Number two on the list of most literate city, can you guess? Seattle. Minneapolis came in at number three, and the survey from Central Connecticut State University considered things like newspaper circulation and number of bookstores. A lot of book stores are closing -- right, exactly.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD (on-camera): I mean, people might buy the books, but not necessarily be buying the ones that are tough to read. I don't know. What do I know about conducting polls? There is a reward, you ready for this? A reward being offered this morning to help track down a convicted murderer who apparently isn't being considered a murderer any more in Mississippi, because four convicted murderers serving life sentences were granted full pardons by the governor of that state, Haley Barbour, earlier this month.

And all but one of them appeared in court on Monday for a hearing that was challenging those pardons.

SAMBOLIN: So, Joseph Ozment was a no show there. Now, officials admit that they have no idea where he is. Ozment last seen in Northwest Mississippi. The state's attorney general tells CNN that he is a danger to the community.

CNN's Ed Lavandera joins us now on the phone from Jackson, Mississippi. This is a tough story, I got to tell you, because we're trying to figure out how they're going after someone who actually has a full pardon.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): Yes, exactly. That's the challenge that the attorney general here in Mississippi says he has. This is why this is unprecedented. So, they're trying to figure out if they could, at least, serve him with the paperwork. They have not been able to give him the paperwork needed to show that he needs to show up at these court hearings.

Without having that, the AG says that he's under no obligation to show up. So, they're hoping and they figured out a way to offer up some reward money. The AG wouldn't specify exactly how much, but they suspect he might be in Northwest Mississippi where his family lives and where he was from originally.

And they're hoping that, in some way, that might rattle and convince some relative who might know something or a friend that might know something and convince, you know, someone to make a call and kind of tip him off as to where he might be. If they can just deliver the paperwork, that would give him the incentive or give Ozment the incentive to show up at these hearings.

SAMBOLIN: What are they serving him with? Is it for a court appearance?

LAVANDERA: Exactly. Remember, earlier this week, they have the court hearing. There is a temporary injunction on these pardons and that's still kind of making its way through the courts here in Jackson, Mississippi. But since he's a full pardon, he's not like they can issue an arrest warrant to demand him to show up, because he's no longer considered a criminal.

So -- but if they give him the paperwork, they could then argue for a judge, look, he's been served. He's been told to show up here, and then, a judge could issue and hold him in contempt and issue an arrest warrant without giving him that paperwork. They really have nothing to -- BANFIELD: It's like saber rattling. I've got to say, Ed, this story has bothered me from the get go on both sides of this because it sounds more and more political between the AG who's a Democrat and the outgoing governor who is a Republican. Look, when you get a pardon, here's how it works. You clean. You have a clean slate.

So, how they can order people into court to check in with parole officers and how they can suggest that there some legal notion that this bad, bad man killed somebody but who's clean as a whistle now, according to the law, has to go and check in with anybody in the government is beyond me. I don't get it.

LAVANDERA: Well, the AG is arguing if it's a simple matter that Governor Haley Barbour not following the constitution. You know, we've talked a lot about the AG arguing before this judge that, according to the constitution, the inmate that is being pardoned has to post for 30 days leading the pardon announced into local newspapers, wherever the crime happened.

That this person is up for a pardon, and he's arguing that didn't happen. That was done for (ph) for 28 days instead of 30 days in these cases, and because of that, the pardon should never have been allowed to happen, and it violated the state's constitution and that's what the AG is arguing.

SAMBOLIN: Ed Lavandera, thank you so much for joining us. I'm sure you're going to continue following this story for us. There are so much more.

BANFIELD: Three minutes to the top of the hour, and we are back right after this.

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BANFIELD: And that was the EARLY START, news from A to Z. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien --

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O'BRIEN: Wow. Wow. "STARTING POINT."

(LAUGHTER)

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