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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

President and Arizona Governor Have Tense Exchange; GOP Presidential Candidates Debate Immigration Policy; Reunion for Freed American Hostage; Beard Ban Lifted at Disney; Reward Out For Pardoned Murderer; Defense Cuts To Be Announced; Demonstrators Surround Prime Minister; Life Of "Leisure" On Death Row?; FBI Arrests Connecticut Cops Accused Of Racial Profiling; Mitt Romney Hopes for Self- Deportation on Illegal Immigration; NY Giants Targeting Opponents with History of Concussions

Aired January 26, 2012 - 06:59   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, gosh! We can only go up from here is what I say. Thank you, ladies. In terms of pronunciation. Come on! Good morning. Welcome to STARTING POINT.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: We've got some serious stuff to cover. It is Brewer versus Obama. The Arizona governor and the president kind of go toe- to-toe on the tarmac. That's a photograph -- no, that's a video of their conversation blocked, of course, by the limo. It was by eyewitnesses accounts a tense exchange. We'll talk about what happened there.

Then, the fight for Florida. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, dead heat in the polls. There is a big CNN debate tonight that could decide it all. We'll take look what's on the line in that state.

Plus, remember we told you the story yesterday about that East Haven, Connecticut mayor who talked about what he was going to do for Latinos who'll go have tacos for dinner? Not shockingly, he issued an apology. It took a little while. He did the non-apology apology first and then finally came around to the real apology. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I might have tacos when I go home. I'm not quite sure yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: I am going to guess he did not have the tacos. Apparently, he did not have the tacos and then apologized. The question this morning is, is that apology enough? We'll also dig into what has been happening in that city of East Haven, Connecticut.

Plus, concussion controversy in the NFL. We have been talking about concussions and then you heard the New York giants' players saying they target opposing team players if they have a history of concussions to try to take them out. Then there was some backtracking on that. We'll examine what really happens on the field. STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

That would be, thank you for teeing that up for me. That's right. Will Cain likes that. That is not my music.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: "Baby, I'm a star."

O'BRIEN: Thank you, all about this today.

MARTIN: Baby, I'm a star.

O'BRIEN: I'm going to give Roland so much more time today. Come on, Will, you need to do something. Erica Gonzalez editor in chief is saying what have I gotten myself into this morning? Roland Martin is back as well, Will Cain of "The Blaze is back as well. You know what is funny, now they don't put down where you're from.

CAIN: Like Cher or Prince, I'm almost on a one-name basis with the American public.

O'BRIEN: So, here's -- let me explain the music thing for everybody. You know, I have been a little dismissive of the music that I've had on the show.

MARTIN: Just a wee bit.

O'BRIEN: It was terrible. We're working on it. We're building and growing. But when people on twitter start saying, seriously, you need help with your music. We need to do something. Bring in your music. If you are on the show, we will feature and highlight the music of our panelists or our guests. Like Senator John McCain was on yesterday. What is on his iPod? I think that is kind of cool.

MARTIN: I really don't want to know what's on it.

O'BRIEN: I bet he has an iPod and I bet he has interesting music. Next time he's on, we're going to feature his music. Excuse me, peanut M&Ms for breakfast, circling the dream.

You saw this picture of the governor, Jan Brewer, kind of having it out with president Obama. We have the video, but there is a photo, as well. Maybe one of you guys can grab a newspaper for me so we can show that in a little bit, where he has her finger basically in the face of the president. It's kind of an odd picture.

The president arrived in phoenix on Air Force One and then they had this tense encounter. She said it was triggered by her book which was called "Scorpions for Breakfast." She said the president was disturbed by the meeting they had in the White House in the book and she said the president is thin-skinned. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. JAN BREWER, (R) ARIZONA: He changed the subject to my book "Scorpions for Breakfast," and was a little bit dis disenchanted, if you will, about how he was portrayed in the book. I believe when we were in the conversation 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 that he had because I was there to welcome him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: "I was there to welcome him. That's why I put my finger" -- that was an interesting word. But you can tell by this photo kind of how intense this was.

Here's what the White House said. They issued a statement, no shocker there, as well. "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 taking steps to help Arizona's economy grow." I don't know if the reverend got the true story of what happened there from either side there. Let's bring in our friend Ron Brownstein, who is not with us in person today. Where are you, Ron?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: In spirit. In Washington en route to Florida.

MARTIN: South beach.

BROWNSTEIN: Heading south. I might hit south beach somewhere along the way.

MARTIN: He's going.

O'BRIEN: He's like, but don't tell my boss it's South Beach. Who wants to start with the president and the Arizona governor because what's really going on here? I mean --

MARTIN: Publicity.

O'BRIEN: No, that's not good publicity for anyone, is it?

BROWNSTEIN: No, Soledad, the backstory is the federal government is suing the state of Arizona over its very tough immigration law and the state of Arizona, virtually like every state is suing the federal government to block President Obama's health care law. There is a lot of systemic conflict between the two sides that is kind of baked into this confrontation.

In fact, if you look across the board, I recall writing about this a couple months ago, compared to the 1990s there is much more conflict between this administration and Republican governors between Bill Clinton and the Republican governors in the 1990s. The governors are being brought in to the very intense conflicts we see in Washington and I think that's the real backstories. These two leaders are really at odds over big issues and I think that is somewhat behind this kind of personal confrontation. MARTIN: But it wouldn't surprise me at all that the president did try to check her when it came to his book. This is not like the first time we heard him described as being thin-skinned.

O'BRIEN: Bobby Jindal has also said the same thing.

MARTIN: When I ran in Chicago and defend her a few months before I took over, we were the last paper. Here's the most historic black newspaper in the country, the last paper to endorse him and the previous publisher. I would say a little issue between him and the then senator. And from that point on through the election, we didn't get a single ad that ran in the newspaper, because he said make them pay for that. So, it's not like he's not thin-skinned. So, yes, he probably did check her.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about Florida, if we can. Will Cain -- I love it when you call me, ma'am, even though it makes me feel old. Let's throw it up on the graphic.

MARTIN: That's a way of saying, don't do that again, man.

O'BRIEN: Look at this graphic, which is the likely GOP voters primary choice for nominee. You can see Mitt Romney now at 36 percent. He has dropped from 43 percent and Newt Gingrich has 34 percent and Santorum, if you look at him, he's sort of dropped a little bit, if you look over the last couple of days has kind of stayed flat. How worried should Mitt Romney be about these numbers?

CAIN: I think he should definitely be worried. Florida is going to be much tougher than he anticipated but the real story is we have seen Newt Gingrich crawl back a little bit. Some polls showed that Newt Gingrich was in first place for a little while.

Roland and I had had a throw down on your channel because people should not underestimate Newt Gingrich. When all of your traditional analysis and all your logical inputs go in and you come up with there is no way Newt Gingrich can be president of the United States -- - and, by the way, there is no way that current conservatives by any rational analysis should be adopting Newt Gingrich.

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: He's not the most conservative, he's not anti- establishment, despite your biggest wishes and he's not the most electable. When you keep coming up with the most despite logic, you might tell yourself to stop predicting. So quit saying Newt Gingrich doesn't have a shot. He might just have a shot.

MARTIN: We disagree, Soledad, primarily because Will tried to use a Tim Tebow comparison. And he say Newt keeps on winning, he only won one state.

CAIN: Roland heard this for six months analysts went on ESPN said Tim Tebow was no good and he would not win this week, but he kept winning. Newt Gingrich's tangibles don't add up, but he's a player. ERICA GONZALEZ, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "EL DIARIO": I thought it was interesting that Newt Gingrich wasn't farther ahead with Latino voters because he has a supposed plan, which is more of a delay approach where the other guy, Romney, has a deny approach.

O'BRIEN: Let's play a little bit of that. You're talking specifically about immigration and the Dream, well, kind of the Dream act, right, everyone has their version of the Dream act, the "no dream act." OK, play.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not in favor of going around the country trying to round people up and put them in buses and take them across the border.

NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you go around this country and say, hi, would you like to legalize 11 million people who cross the border illegally, you're never going to get that done.

ROMNEY: People can choose a college. And so the idea that we have to provide an in-state tuition break to people, I reject that.

GINGRICH: I'm for half of the Dream act. I'm not for the whole Dream act. But I'm for the part that says if you're in the United States, even if your parents brought you illegally, if you're here, the same right to sign up in the military.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So, Newt Gingrich's position is not so far off from Mitt Romney's position on immigration. So, is the takeaway Latinos don't care that much about election in Florida or they support Mitt Romney because they support his immigration vision better?

GONZALEZ: Latinos in Florida are concerned about the economy, as Latinos across the country are, 11 percent unemployment rate, higher than the national rate. But the thing is that it's conditioned on the response to the Dream act. So, Latino voters are not going to support someone who says I have this great job growth plan but I will basically block students --

O'BRIEN: But Mitt Romney has said that.

GONZALEZ: Which makes no sense with big capitalists who support immigration reform and legalization. You have guys like Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch who are pushing for legalization and they think it will reinvigorate the economy, and then you have Mitt Romney talking about opening doors and boosting the economy.

O'BRIEN: Ron Brownstein wanted to hop in on this conversation. Go ahead, Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: Two things. First, there is a difference in their policy on the 1 million who are here illegally. Romney has embraced -- you talked about self-deportation. That's a clunky phrase to really elevate what has been an idea promoted by a handful of conservative think tanks called attrition through enforcement. The idea is you would make it so onerous for people to work they would leave. Gingrich is talking about something different with community boards that would allow people to stay.

If you look inside your poll about Florida, the internal trend is encouraging for Romney because what you see is a reversion to the pattern that was working for him earlier in this race, which is essentially three words -- divide and conquer. Romney is doing better among the centrist groups, again, than Gingrich is doing among the conservative groups. In Iowa Romney consolidated the center of the party behind him more than anyone consolidated the right of the party behind him. And that change in South Carolina, where Gingrich got among 40 percent among groups like Tea Party supporters, non-college Republicans. If you look inside your poll, Newt Gingrich is still ahead among tea party supporters. He's still ahead among evangelical Christians in Florida, but only by relatively small amounts.

Romney's advantage is among the smaller groups. It's much bigger. That's the formula that worked for him before. That's what is giving him the slight advantage in Florida. The groups that favor Romney are much more favorable. South Carolina was two-third evangelical. In '08 the Florida electoral was 60 percent non- evangelical.

O'BRIEN: You are teeing up what we have to tee up, which is tonight's debate that is hosted by CNN at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. That will happen at 8:00 p.m. We have the polling, and then the debates come and they could change everything around.

We have other stories making news before we get back to the self- deportation thing that I want to keep talking about. Christine Romans has that first. Good morning, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Soledad. An Ohio-born student has been released by Syrian authorities after being detained for three weeks. According to his family 21-year-old Obada Mzaik was handed over to his father in Damascus last night.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaling that a full economic recovery for the U.S. is still years away. The Fed moving yesterday to keep short-term interest rates near zero until late 2014 to try to spur growth.

President Obama's post-state of the union tour of key battleground states continue today. He'll have stops in Nevada and Denver. His first stop a UPS facility in Las Vegas where he'll talk about energy.

Lawyers for passenger and crew could slap the company behind that Italian cruise ship disaster with a multi-billion dollar lawsuit. That lawsuit could come as early as this morning. Documents obtained by CNN show attorneys want at least $160,000 per passenger from Miami- based Carnival Cruises, the parent company of the ship that ran aground off the Italian coast. A report out this morning blames the seizure that put Demi Moore in the hospital earlier this week on nitrous oxide. TMZ says the actress inhaled it trying to get a quick high from the gas. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: All right, thank you very much.

We're sitting here chatting about immigration reform, paying attention here. Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Connecticut cops arrested over racial profiling charges. We told you a little bit about this story yesterday. We'll hear this morning from a priest who said he was a victim, as well.

Also the family of freed U.S. hostage is going to be united with Jessica Buchanan. We'll hear from a family friend who has spoken to that family, see how they're doing today.

And a big change at Disney, and it's a little bit hairy. We'll explain in today's "Get Real." Here's our song as we head into commercial break. This is Erica Gonzalez's iPod. It is Beyonce.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everybody.

The American woman who was freed during that daring U.S. raid in Somalia could be reunited with her father and her husband today. Plus, we're learning more about those elite commandos who carried out Tuesday night's mission. It included members of the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama Bin Laden, and they apparently parachuted into the compound, killed at least nine suspected pirates and then escaped unharmed with the hostages.

Joining us by phone is Don Meyer. He's the president of Valley Forge Christian College. He's also a family friend of Jessica Buchanan's. Nice to talk to you. Thanks for being with us. I know -- I think you had an opportunity to talk to the family. What have they been able to tell you?

DON MEYER, PRESIDENT OF VALLEY FORGE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE (via telephone): Yes. They -- of course, they are extremely excited just beyond words that she is safe and they'll be rejoining her soon, and to go from not knowing and for her to be in captivity for so long and then instantly a message comes that she has been freed. It's just overwhelming and so exciting.

O'BRIEN: Has her dad had a chance to actually have a conversation with Jessica and how is she holding up? I know there were some medical concerns.

MEYER: I know the family has been in touch with her. I'm not sure specifically of each one who has. And the word that has been shared with me is that her health is good.

O'BRIEN: Oh, thank goodness. That's good news. Now, Jessica was working in Somalia, I believe, back in May of 2010. Did she ever express to you or anybody, you know, her concerns about doing aid work?

MEYER: No. Our familiarity with Jessica essentially took place, of course, while she was a student here. She graduated from Valley Forge Christian College in 2007, as you mentioned, and then that spring semester she was a student teacher at Rosslyn Academy, a school in Nairobi, Kenya and there her love for Africa really deepened.

After she had been there for a couple of years, then she met her husband and they then were involved with this agency that was involved in relief efforts and so forth and that it took them into Kenya.

And the last I had talked with her was about two years ago when she was here on campus. She's been back to the U.S. for the passing -- her mother's passing and came through here with family and we visited together briefly. But our conversation didn't include details regarding what she was involved with her in Somalia.

O'BRIEN: She sounds like a young woman who is very passionate about her work in Africa. Don Meyer is the president of Valley Forge Christian College joining us by phone. Thanks, appreciate your time.

Straight ahead this morning, Disney makes a big change at all of its theme parks. We'll tell you why we are saying "Get Real," up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: I do like Willie Nelson. That's beautiful. This is putting our viewers to sleep, though. Don't you have anything fast on your iPod?

CAIN: Just want to relax in your morning news.

O'BRIEN: No, no, no. Not for the news. No, they don't. That would be wrong.

Welcome back, everybody. That is Will Cain's iPod. We've decided to just do music of our panelists. Roland Martin has stepped out for a minute, because, you know, he does come and join our morning show. Erica Gonzalez is editor in chief of El Diario, nice to have you. Thanks for being with us.

Will Cain, that was his choice. I do love Willie Nelson. Doesn't really have a faster song, kind of kept people --

CAIN: "Whiskey River." I almost did "Whiskey River."

O'BRIEN: OK. Well, let's do that one. Cue that one up, a little faster.

It is time to "Get Real" this morning and if it is good enough for Aladdin's genie and six of Snow White's seven dwarves, it is now good enough for all the male employees at Disneyland and at Disney World, a ban that lasted nearly six decades of Disney is going to be lifted tomorrow. Male workers will be permitted to grow beards.

The ruling comes 12 years, yes, 12 years after a ban on mustaches was lifted. Twelve years. But the lifting of the ban comes with a little asterisk. All beards must be, quote, "fresh, clean, neat and approachable."

CAIN: Well, that's not subjective.

O'BRIEN: Well, I can help you with that. I can help you with that. So, here's what -- here's what works and here's what doesn't. George Clooney, that is an acceptable beard and that is a handsome man. Zach Galifianakis, that is not an acceptable beard. Jake Gyllenhaal, that is an acceptable beard and that is a handsome man. Joaquin Phoenix, that's just a crazy beard. Ryan Gosling, that's an acceptable beard.

CAIN: Something tells me it has more to do with than the beard.

O'BRIEN: And Brad Pitt -- no, the handsome man part does have much more to do with than the beard.

CAIN: Oh, OK.

O'BRIEN: And Brad Pitt, that is not -- that is a handsome man, but not an acceptable beard according to the new Disney rules. So we say, good job, Disney, getting real. I think it's pretty cute.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, the East Haven mayor, we told you the story yesterday, is now apologizing profusely after his non-apology apology for those taco comments he made when he was asked what he was doing for the Latinos in his community. Some community leaders say, oh, yes, that's not far enough. We're going to talk about that straight ahead.

Plus, the son of Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood has been detained in Egypt. We'll tell you what's happening there.

You're listening to music from Erica Gonzalez's iPod. So what is it? This is "Calle 13."

ERICA GONZALEZ, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "EL DIARIO": This is "Calle Trece Atrevete," which means, you know?

CAIN: (INAUDIBLE) what you've just said.

GONZALEZ: Atrevete, dared.

O'BRIEN: Atrevete.

MARTIN: Awesome. Nice beard.

O'BRIEN: Roland Martin runs in, runs in. Oh, he wants me to say, handsome man --

MARTIN: Oh, yes.

O'BRIEN: -- and a nice beard.

MARTIN: Got it.

O'BRIEN: And on that, we go to commercial break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Hello. How come that music is not Beyonce right now? We're working on this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a work in progress.

O'BRIEN: It's a work in progress. That's what I was going to try to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a half-baked cake.

O'BRIEN: All right, we have other stories making headlines this morning. We're going to right to Christine Romans who has a look at stories making news. Good morning again.

ROMANS: Good morning to you, Soledad. There's now a reward being offered to help track down a convicted murderer in Mississippi.

Joseph Osmond one of four killers granted a full pardon by former Governor Haley Barbour. Osmond didn't show at a court hearing challenging his pardon earlier this week. Officials admit they don't know where he is.

Big changes expected to be unveiled at the Pentagon today. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is proposing a 30 percent expansion of its global network of drones and special operations basis.

Meantime, the Army and the Marines expected to say they're cutting troops. It's all part of President Obama's plans to trim the defense budget by half a trillion dollars in the coming decade.

Australia's prime minister caught on camera in a close encounter with some demonstrators. Watch as her security detail pushes her into the back seat of her car as she's surrounded by protesters. She was at an event speaking at a restaurant and the prime minister was not hurt.

A public memorial at Penn State for former football coach Joe Paterno today. Paterno who died of cancer on Sunday was buried in a private service yesterday.

Outrage in North Carolina after a convicted murderer wrote to his hometown newspaper describing a life of what he calls leisure behind bars. He was on death row for killing a 17-year-old girl also took shots at judicial officials calling them "self righteous clowns."

Minding your business this morning, U.S stock futures, the Dow, Nasdaq, S&P 500 all pointing to a higher open right now. Markets closed higher yesterday after comments from the Fed Chief Ben Bernanke.

The fed will keep interest rates very low through 2014 and the fed is open to more economic stimulus to help the economy recover more fully. But he did stop short of making any promises or announcing anything concrete.

Let's get a quick check of the weather, meteorologist Rob Marciano joins us. Good morning, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine. All the rain and storminess across Eastern Texas yesterday is moving now into Eastern Louisiana and the Florida panhandle.

Tornado watch is in effect until noon Central Time, but for the most part right now across the mouth of the Mississippi, including New Orleans.

We've got heavy rain and a flash flood warning in effect until 9:00 a.m. and the rain begin to stream up into Birmingham parts of Atlanta, as well. This will make its way up the east coast.

But look at the rainfall across Austin and record setter five inches and Dallas flooding issues there all day long. They do need the rain. So, you kind of take the bad with the good in the case of drought situation.

All right, here comes the rain up towards the northeast starting out a little bit of snow in spots, especially upstate and Northern Vermont, but for the most part, this brings warm air with it. All rain across the I-95 corridor.

Temperatures will be well above the freezing mark in D.C. and New York City with a high temperature of 44 degrees and 38 degrees in Chicago, little bit cooler there. New Orleans, Birmingham and Cleveland, those are your problem spots. Dallas and Cincinnati to a less extent if you're traveling -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, thanks, Rob. Good information on the way to the airport this morning -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Christine, thank you.

The Connecticut mayor is now apologizing for those taco comments that he made. We were telling you the story yesterday. Stop giggling, Roland Martin.

This came after the FBI arrested some local police officers, allegedly, mistreating Latinos and others, as well. Quote, "They behaved like bullies with badges." That's from an FBI official. They allegedly threatened and assaulted their detainees.

So joining us this morning from New Haven is Father James Manship. He was arrested by two of the indicting officers. Dermot Lynch is with him. He's a Yale Law School student. He's an intern with the Worker and Immigrants Rights Advocacy Clinic, which is basically a law clinic that was working with the church.

And Mark Zaretsky joins our panel here. He's a reporter with the "New Haven Register." It's nice to have. Father, I'm going to begin with you, if I can.

So take us back to 2009 because I want to show a little clip of this videotape that you shot. I'll show it first and on the other side, explain to me what was happening. Everybody watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing? You have a camera? Why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm taking a video of what is going on here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So, you can see at this point, Father, you see the police officer not too pleased that you were rolling video. Why were you rolling video in the first place, what was going on?

FATHER JAMES MANSHIP, ST. ROSE OF LIMA EAST HAVEN, CONNECTICUT: Since June of 2008, we have come to my attention to parishioners that they were having very harsh experiences with East Haven Police Department. And we -- we wanted to begin to document these encounters of racial harassment.

O'BRIEN: So, once you were taking that videotape, what happened to you after the police officer, we kind of see him coming around the front towards you. What happened next?

MANSHIP: He arrested me. I was handcuffed and led out of the store and charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer.

O'BRIEN: I know a lot of the reason that you were recording in the first place is that you were hoping to get a case that you could bring to the feds and that's really where we bring in Dermot because he was working with this clinic through the Yale Law School.

Dermot, what did you find interesting about this case where you were working as an intern?

DERMOT LYNCH, YALE LAW SCHOOL STUDENT: We were hearing about these reports from Father Manship and we compiled them into a complaint that we sent to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in March of 2009.

And then that investigation has produced a preliminary findings letter last year and a scathing report in December of 2011 about what, what's been happening in East Haven, this pattern and practice of ethnic profiling of Latinos.

O'BRIEN: Mark, you are a reporter who has been covering this area. Is that true that there have been just many, many reports some of them confirmed and on videotape? MARK ZARETSKY, REPORTER, NEW HAVEN REGISTER: Well, I mean, it's definitely something that we've heard about a lot and there's a lot of allegations and, you know, some, they definitely stop a lot of people.

I mean, there was a Department of Justice letter that got sent a month or so ago that basically laid out, you know, the fact that Latinos are stopped at a much higher percentage than their percentage of the population.

O'BRIEN: We actually have a graphic of that. We can throw that up. It's roughly 10 percent.

ZARETSKY: It's about 10.3 percent of the population.

O'BRIEN: And almost 90 percent of the population.

ZARETSKY: It's grown very fast. I mean, 20 years ago, it was less than 1 percent.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a perfect example of when people talk about, you know, a lot of folks want to focus on racial profiling. This is real.

This is real. It happens to Latinos and happens to African-Americans and look, I absolutely endorse what Father did when it came to videotaping.

I remember in cases of the '80s and '90s videotaping police officers, they don't like it. But the reality is when you can document what is happening. They don't want to have to fight that video camera.

O'BRIEN: So Father, you were released after your arrest because you had the videotape that was pretty clear about what had happened, correct?

MANSHIP: Yes. The end, the charges were dismissed by the judge.

O'BRIEN: Now, we started this conversation talking about the mayor. So let's kind of back track to that because the mayor made his comments about him having tacos for dinner when he was asked by a reporter.

What are you doing for Latinos because he was sort of saying there was an issue with Latinos in the community and the police, what are you going to do. The mayor, just because I love running the sound bite, said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing for the Latino community today?

MATURO: I might have tacos when I go home, I'm not quite sure yet. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has been a segment of this community that has been impacted by the FBI arresting four officers over alleged discrimination and you tell me --

MATURO: Alleged discrimination --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you tell me today that your priority is, I might go have tacos.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That is a mad reporter. OK, now there was an apology. I want to play for you the mayor's apology.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATURO: My sincerest apologies go out to the East Haven community in a particular, the Latino community for the insensitive and off-color comment that I made. Unfortunately, I let the stress of the situation get the best of me and inflamed what is already serious and an unfortunate situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That's the non-apology apology from an elected official. So what happens, Mark, to him, do you think?

ZARETSKY: Well, there's a lot of people are not at all happy.

O'BRIEN: Calling for his head, let's be real.

ZARETSKY: People calling for his head and a lot of them not live in town or vote in town and some of them people who do live in town and vote in town want them, I mean, the Democratic chairman has called for him to resign. But this is a Republican mayor so, while I'm sure he's upset, he also has, you know, another view point in all this.

O'BRIEN: Well, we are watching this story to see how it all ends up because, of course, you have these four officers who have now been arrested and we'll see what happens to their case.

And we'll see if the mayor is able to survive his taco comments and his growing Latino population town. All right, I want to say, thank you, Mark, we appreciate you joining us.

ZARETSKY: I should say that, you know, he seems to, there's some things that are coming out of his mouth that are a little bit more forward looking and he is talking about doing things to sort of heal and I think that would probably be a good thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's got a big job in front of him because at this point Hispanics are not confident in his leadership and they can trust a cop. That undercuts the jobs of cops who want to --

O'BRIEN: We are out of time. We got to go. Yes, he has not helped. It will be interesting to watch. Father, thank you and Dermot as well. Mark, we appreciate you joining us.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT. Concussion controversy in the NFL. New York Giants' players had the shocking admission. They say they're targeting opponents with histories of concussion. You're watching STARTING POINT as we dig into that straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. It's a work in progress, as we said. Welcome back, everybody. We were talking earlier about self-deportation, which, honestly, just sounds, it's a strange way of putting it.

Let's talk about what Mitt Romney -- I think we have a clip of what Mitt Romney said about his hopes for self-deportation as an immigration strategy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You severely sanction employers that hire people who have not legal documentation and legal authorization to work here. On that basis, overtime, people will find it less attractive to be here if they can't find work here. Some refer to that as self-deportation.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Do you think this is a fantasy, Erica Gonzalez?

ERICA GONZALEZ, OPINION PAGE EDITOR, EL DIARIO/LA PRENSA: Yes, I do. It doesn't address the issue. You have families, undocumented parents with citizen children.

O'BRIEN: The blended families.

GONZALEZ: The mixed-status family. People are not going to extract themselves after investing so many years being part of communities, supporting the meat industry, meat packing industry in places like Alabama where now the businessman have to search for workers after an ordinance was passed. So, the direction of Republican Party has taken to be punitive, punitive, punitive, and that doesn't resonate --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Will Cain --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Will Cain is shaking his head in disagreement. (LAUGHTER)

GONZALEZ: It doesn't resonate with anything visionary.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think Erica's argument is an example of what we always hear, don't allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. Mitt Romney's self-deportation statement has been mocked on Twitter and on television and largely through the prism of a lack of understanding. His policy action makes quite a bit of sense. Shore up the border, shore up the inflow, make a secure border and then, within the country, make rules to make it very hard for employers to hire illegal immigrants. What you'll create is a situation where illegal immigrants have a hard time getting employed and they won't have the economic benefits of living in this country. So they'll go home.

O'BRIEN: What was the worst year --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: So economically, pick a year for me, what is the worst year?

CAIN: We're in the midst of it? We have a huge down turn --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: You don't think 2008 --

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: Well, in the last three or four years --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: OK, so when you actually examine the numbers though, you didn't see an outflow. You saw some. But if you're talking about it -- and I think the estimates are 20 million people potentially who are in this country without documents or in the country illegally. You'll never get that from self-deportation.

CAIN: We have seen an outflow. The question is whether or not --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: A small out flow.

CAIN: -- it's been great or not. The question is going to be whether it's been great or not. Again, the argument -- I don't need perfection for my argument to be good.

(LAUGHTER)

The question is --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: He says, of his own argument. What?

CAIN: The question is -- look, in an environment of a total lack of immigration policy from both the Democrats and the Republicans -- by the way, be very clear, this is not a partisan issue. This is an idea that makes some sense.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: At the end of the day, you have to confront the larger problem. We can say, oh, nibble at the edges, and so a few will leave, but that's not the fundamental problem. It's so much larger.

(CROSSTALK)

GONZALEZ: -- approach though, let's clamp down on the border, let's be punitive, let's crack down, and there's never anything in the other direction. Even Reagan, even both Bushes pushed a more comprehensive policy, had a more human approach, and more reasonable answers for dealing with immigration issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why the poll numbers show what they show.

O'BRIEN: We have to take a break.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, 49ers' Kyle Williams is getting death threats for fumbling the team's ticket to the Super Bowl. Isn't that sad? And now two Giants' players say they planned to take him out because of his history of concussions. We'll take a closer look at that this morning.

(SINGING)

O'BRIEN: And now you're listening to "Beautiful Day." This is U2. And this was Erica's choice.

Thank you, Erica. This is must faster than what Will --

MARTIN: Yes, Will!

(LAUGHTER)

Yes, Will!

GONZALEZ: It is uplifting.

O'BRIEN: It is. What a great way to start your morning.

MARTIN: Crank it up!

(LAUGHTER)

(SINGING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT this morning.

There is outrage over two New York Giants players who say they went after the 49ers' Kyle Williams on Sunday because of his history of concussions. Giants Linebacker Jacquian Williams, yes -- Roland?

MARTIN: That'll work.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: -- said he knew --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: He said this. He said we knew he had four concussions -- watching the game? -- that was our biggest thing, to take him out of the game. And then the receiver, Devin Thomas, said, quote, "He had a lot of concussions. We were just, like, we've got to put a hit on that guy." Now, other Giants players say there was no strategy to take Williams out. Linebacker Michael Bolle (ph) said, "We didn't talk about it. Concussions are a big deal. Obviously, we didn't want to hurt anybody. We are a fraternity of brothers all across the league."

Roland Martin is shaking his head.

Former NFL player, Jamal Anderson, and CNN's chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, join me this morning.

Nice to see you guys.

I hope I didn't pronounce the players' names wrong.

Let's start with you, if we can, Jamal.

So which is it? We hear the players saying, yes, we were going to target somebody because we knew he had concussions, we could take him out. Oh, no, no, no, we're a fraternity of brothers. It's a game.

(LAUGHTER)

Which is true?

JAMAL ANDERSON, FORMER NFL PLAYER: The truth is, when you're talking about football, it's the physicality of the sport, number one. Number two, you want to win. What's at stakes of the game? You're playing in an NFC championship for the chance to play in a Super Bowl, you're not trying to take somebody out. But if you hurt or injure a player who's a significant part of the other team, bravo, I'm on my way to the Super Bowl to win.

O'BRIEN: It sounds like you're saying yes.

MARTIN: He's dancing. The answer is yes. (LAUGHTER)

ANDERSON: No, I mean, I've never been -- I've never had a coach in my career who said, we're going to target this guy because of this, this, that or the other. Now you're trying to hit somebody as hard as possible. You're trying to be as physical as possible. If you do remove a star player, playing that way, so be it. You have a better opportunity to win the football game. That's what it's all about.

O'BRIEN: Let me show you something, Sanjay. This is from an NFL spokesman. "There were no illegal head to the head or neck against Kyle Williams on Sunday. There was no conduct by the Giants of any kind that would suggest an effort to injure Kyle Williams in any way."

I think the key word here is illegal hits, right?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think everything in terms of the statements, in terms of the comments by the players, probably it's all true, and it's still reflective of this culture that I think you're getting at, Soledad. Maybe there wasn't a coordinated sort of approach by the Giants. Maybe there wasn't a specific illegal hit which could result in penalties and actually harm the team that's performing the illegal hit, but clearly they had knowledge of this player's four concussions. They realized it was a weak spot and it was something at least maybe one or two of the players thought about and said, in order for us to better win this game, that's an area we can target.

So however you want to sort of describe it, how coordinated it was by the team -- probably wasn't. Whether there was an illegal hit, probably not. But it's still to the point that we've been talking about all week. Concussions aren't treated the same way as, for example, a knee injury. Guy walks off with a knee injury and people literally pray for the person. The guy walks off with his head -- he looks confused, they think he'll be out for a couple of plays. He'll be right back.

MARTIN: Because of concussions, people are always saying these comments are crazy.

But, Jamal, you know for a fact, the reason players will hide an ankle injury, shoulder injury, arm injury, because they're in that pile, guys are pulling and tugging and punching on it to get him out of the game. So I get the focus on concussion, but when they know you have an injury, they are targeting that to get you out of the game. Correct or not?

O'BRIEN: Yes, and did you hide your injuries, Jamal?

ANDERSON: The bottom line, there's a saying that goes around with players. We say, you can't make the club in the tub, which means, if you're a player who has a history of being injured, what are your chances of sustaining an NFL career? Not likely. So it depends on the injury, the type of injury. You have to remember, before the emphasis on concussions turned to what it is now, it was all about, oh, you just got your bell rung. This is football. You hit somebody, oh, you're woozy, take a couple of plays, here's some smelling salt. You go back in the game.

Again, when you have the statements of guys saying, if you're one of those people who have re-occurring injuries, you're not going to be here. I blew out my knee twice. Bye-bye NFL career.

O'BRIEN: Jamal Anderson for us this morning.

Thanks, Sanjay Gupta. Nice to see you.

GUPTA: Thank you. You, too.

O'BRIEN: We've been discussing concussions all week. Sanjay's new documentary is called "Big Hits, Broken Dreams." It airs this Sunday, 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, Brewer versus Obama. There was a tense exchange on the tarmac and both sides are giving their sides of the story. Was the governor disrespectful of the president? Is the president a little bit thin skinned? We'll take a look at that.

MARTIN: Let's get ready to rumble!

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: The CNN debate tonight. The Florida primary is on Tuesday. Gingrich, Romney, neck and neck. The state's up for grabs. Alan Grayson is former Florida Democratic congressman. He is going to join us in our next hour to talk about the stakes in that race.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We have to take a short break. We're back in a moment.

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