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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Mitt Romney Explains Comment about Very Poor; Defense Secretary Mentions 2013 Troop Drawdown in Afghanistan; Facebook Going Public; Stop with the Groundhog Overkill; 79 Dead In Egyptian Soccer Riot; Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Taco Bell; How Alzheimer's Spreads; Civic Owner Beats Honda In Court; Texas Teen Deported To Colombia; Decoding Political Campaigns of Romney, Gingrich

Aired February 2, 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: Hey, good morning, ladies. And our "STARTING POINT" this morning is the fallout from yesterday right here on "STARTING POINT." You remember, of course, Mitt Romney's comments about the poor. He said that to me yesterday. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm in this race because I care about Americans. I'm not concerned about the very poor, we have a safety net there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Well -- Will Cain is just smiling today. We got to talk about that a lot this morning.

(CROSSTALK)

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know it was coming.

O'BRIEN: Roland is back.

All right. Also this morning, I'm going to talk about defense secretary, Leon Panetta. He's got a plan to get out of Afghanistan, but is that plan premature? Some people are even saying that the plan is dangerous. We'll talk about that

Plus, it could create 1,000 new millionaires. God, I wish I was in on this deal, but I'm not. I know. Yet again. Wrong thing to get in on.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: TV news was not one of those things to get in on the ground floor, but Facebook was, Google was. Facebook is going public. Will you be able to get in on it? We'll be able to tell you how.

And also, Groundhog's Day. Phil comes out in half an hour or so. Live pictures, of course, of Gobblers knob. I have done this story 10 million times in my career as a journalist. We're going to have something to say this morning about all the imitators in our get real, and there are many. STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: OK. I'm just making sure you know.

O'BRIEN: He knows it's the Jackson 5. Don't give Will Cain a hard time.

MARTIN: I was gone a couple days.

O'BRIEN: That's not why we're playing it. That's a healthy ego.

MARTIN: You got to go with the joke.

O'BRIEN: I know. We're just teasing.

MARTIN: Just want to honor my man.

O'BRIEN: This is in honor of Don Cornelius. We announced his death yesterday. "Soul Train," did you watch "Soul Train" ever?

WILL CAIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: That was Saturday morning. Am I right, Saturday morning?

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Did you pass by the channel or actually stop?

O'BRIEN: We have a lot to get to. Let me introduce our panel to you Will Cain, John Fugelsan, I mangle your name all the time. Soledad O'Brien --

JOHN FUGELSANG, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: That's Cuban-Irish.

O'BRIEN: It is, Cuban. Roland Martin is back, as well. All right, take it down. Here we go. Let's get to our starting point this morning, which is Mitt Romney. Yesterday should have been the victory lap, the victory lap.

CAIN: But then you had to come in.

O'BRIEN: I did nothing but ask a question and a follow up. Here's what he said in my interview yesterday morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm in this race because I care about Americans. I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich. They're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the heart of America, the 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I'll continue to take that message across the nation. O'BRIEN: I know I said last question, but I have to ask you. You just said "I'm not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net," and I think there are lots of poor Americans who are struggling who would say, that sounds odd. Can you explain that?

ROMNEY: Well, you had to finish the sentence, Soledad. I said, I'm not concerned about the very poor that have a safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Mr. Romney tried to clarify onboard his campaign charter plane what he said. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My focus and the area that I think is the greatest challenge that the country faces right now is not to focus our effort on how we help the poor as much as to focus our effort on how to help the middle class in America and get more people in the middle class and get people out of being poor and becoming middle income.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So he doubled down in my interview. Is that tripling down? Let's get to Mark McKinnon who is joining our panel. He's a contributor to "Newsweek," former adviser to George W. Bush and Senator John McCain. Nice to have you joining our panel. How big of a misstep do you think this is? I have never been on FOX, MSNBC and my own channel and all the evening newscasts in my 25 years as a journalist. Yesterday was the day. Big misstep?

MARK MCKINNON, CONTRIBUTOR, NEWSWEEK AND THE DAILY BEAST: That reflects how big a story it is. It is the story everyone is talking about. The big problem for Mitt Romney, this should have been his biggest and best day of the campaign so far where he was going to leverage his big win in Florida instead of a message about why he won and how he will carry that forward, the message became all about your interview and his characterization of the poor. So, it really stepped on his message. It was a huge buzz kill.

O'BRIEN: How do you fix that? You had to do that, right? Part of your gig has been to help people fix missteps. What would you advise for him?

MCKINNON: The real problem for Romney is that this reflects that there has been a real success from the Obama team and President Obama in focusing their message and getting traction on the middle class. They're in his head on the whole issue of the middle class and that's why there was this unforced error, really, is because strategically this game has shifted to the terrain of the middle class.

So, the Romney campaign has got to stop fixating on the Obama strategy and message and get refocused on their message. So, right now the Obama campaign I think is in their head, their message is in their head, and that's why this whole campaign is recalibrated. Six months ago you could say Republicans were running away with this race and win big, and now I think it's absolutely a jump ball.

O'BRIEN: Mark, it was interesting, yesterday when we did that interview Will Cain, who was sitting next to me, was like, "That's bad. That's bad." And, you know, I want to play it because it was interesting to see both conservatives and liberals jump on this. Let me play a little chunk first and then I'll talk to you on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me just say something here. I am fed up with politicians in either party dividing Americans against each other.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: I am running to be the president of all the American people, and I am concerned about all of the American people.

Let me shock Governor Romney, the founding fathers meant the very poor, who they called Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So that was Newt Gingrich taking an opportunity. Rush Limbaugh also on his show said, quote, "He comes across as the prototypical rich Republican."

CAIN: The mistake, and I'd love to hear Mark's feedback on this, yesterday was a mistake. It will be abused politically. People like Roland and John will turn Mitt Romney into Ebenezer Scrooge that hates rich people.

MARTIN: Wow, really?

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: The true mistake, Mark hinted at it, was several months ago. It was in the campaign planning when he decided to adopt the mantle of the middle class and adopt this class language. It put him in position where he would inevitably make that mistake. Mark, isn't that when the mistake was made?

MCKINNON: That's exactly right. That just testifies, again, to this notion that the Obama campaign really kind of turned strategically and really started getting traction on the idea of this middle class squeeze and how the pie is divided rather than expanding the pie, and Romney just took that hook. And that's the problem now it's become all about the Obama message rather than the Romney message. Romney has to get back on his message and focus on expanding the pie rather than how the pie is divided.

MARTIN: Mark, Roland Martin here. When George W. Bush ran for president and he had a message of compassionate conservatism, and a lot of that spoke to the poor and minorities. That came on the heels of Newt Gingrich, people, especially white suburban women felt he was demonizing the poor and minorities and, so, is this clearly that Mitt Romney cannot reach out to that wing of the GOP with this kind of comment and understand how you pull those two together?

MCKINNON: That's a great point, Roland, and really emphasizes where the problem is. The reason George W. Bush was successful is he expanded the notion of what the Republican electorate was like and demographics by reaching out with a message of compassionate conservatism. That attracted conservative Democrats like me at the time to join the Republican Party and support then-Governor Bush.

Mitt Romney is narrowing the scope and reinforcing the image of the Republican Party that is elite, out of touch. And that's why he's having such problems with independent voters. Those numbers have flipped. Unless the Republicans are turn that around they cannot win this election.

FUGELSANG: You know, I want to condemn you, Soledad, for getting these gotcha direct quotes out of Mitt Romney, shame on you. I found that refreshing. I also think this is a great chance for people of faith to bring this into the debate because as long as these candidates are throwing Jesus around like a Frisbee, let's talk about what Christ said to the least of my people, because he thought they mattered.

O'BRIEN: I just wanted to say, Mark, he complimented Roland's question, my interview. You are welcome back any time. And we are moving on.

MARTIN: He is a Texan.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: There may be a potential end in sight for the U.S.-led combat mission in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. and NATO plan to shift to a training and advisory role by next year. Some people are saying it's premature, though. Let's get to Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. She's live for us this morning. Barbara, earlier I was listening to you talk about this and this is military and policy kind of colliding.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It is, Soledad. This is not a big surprise inside the Pentagon. The NATO alliance had already agreed it would end all operations in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. They wanted to have several months to beef up training to Afghan forces. It sounds an awful lot like Iraq. What Panetta is saying, combat would end, he hopes, by the end of next year, 2013, and they spend most of the rest of the time training Afghan forces. Not a surprise, but a surprise that he came out and said it so publicly. He really threw NATO for a loop that he came out and said this. They weren't quite ready to announce it.

So now a bit of diplomatic maneuvering to move the alliance and maneuvering with the Afghans and some fundamental military questions at hand here. Can the Afghans really look after their own security, are you just giving the Taliban a deadline?

O'BRIEN: The military leaders, Petraeus, Admiral Mullen, they both have used the words, aggressive and incur more risk, I mean, to some degree, it sounds like military leadership and I think that was back in February. I get the time has passed. They don't sound like they're 100 percent behind this strategy.

STARR: Well, I think what the real issue is, is they need to have, they need to get the Afghans trained and looking after their own security. Theirs has been a decade of war. It is economically unsustainable and militarily unsustainable. They have to get out of Afghanistan. You can't stay there forever.

But these challenges, and Pakistan right next door, the safe haven for Al Qaeda and the Taliban -- the U.S. will pack up and go, but what will be the state of affairs when they do that? Will Afghanistan be able to look after itself? And if it cannot, does that pose a threat to the United States?

Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us. Thank you. We'll talk to General Wesley Clark ahead in our next hour about strategy there in Afghanistan.

Other headlines making news. Christine Romans has those for us. Hey, Christine, good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. A rescue mission off the coast of Papua New Guinea, nearly 240 people were pulled from the water after a ferry boat sank there. Australian authorities say 350 people were onboard that passenger ship.

There could be some fireworks on Capitol Hill today. That's when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke reports to Congress on the state of the American economy. He'll testify before the House budget committee. Republicans have been critical, very critical of the Fed's efforts to bring the economy back. Bernanke's likely to say the slow improving economy needs more help from the Fed, not less, and cutting the deficit too quickly could backfire.

"Minding your Business" now, the DOW, S&P 500, NASDAQ all slightly lower right now ahead of the opening bell.

Legendary boxing trainer Anglo Dundee has died. His prize pupils included Mohammad Ali, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard. Angelo Dundee was 90 years old.

A windfall for Planned Parenthood, taking in some $400,000 in donations right after the top breast cancer charity pulled its funding. The founder of the Susan G. Komen foundation said they pulled that funding due to a change in policy, not due to political pressure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY G. BRINKER, FOUNDER AND CEO AND SUSAN G. KOMEN: As we move forward, we will implement these new strategies which will allow us to serve even more women. We will never bow to political pressure. We will always stand firm in our goal to end breast cancer forever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: And who would Newt Gingrich cast to play himself in the Hollywood story of his life? Gingrich says, wait for it, everyone, Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt as Newt Gingrich. Can you see it, Soledad?

MARTIN: Seriously?

O'BRIEN: We're trying to figure out if he's kidding.

MARTIN: Dude, Jack Black, would you stop it?

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: OK. You know what I'm going to say about that, Christine. Moving on. Roland martin is already busy, so he can't do it.

So Mitt Romney's comments that he made to me yesterday on the poor was also picked up by "The Daily Show." And as a rule when you're on the show as a reporter, it's a bad, bad, bad thing. But not last night -- often, but not last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Mitt Romney won big in Florida, cementing his frontrunner status, and today was on to the morning shows for a quick little victory lap.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: By the way, I'm in this race because I care about Americans. I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there, if it needs repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Did you suggest that you don't need to suggest about the very rich because they're fine, but also equivalently the very fine because they're OK, too, because the reason the net is there is they are not OK. It's like a doctor going, you know, I'm not very concerned about the very healthy because they're fine or the very sick, because, you know, morphine. You know what I'm saying?

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Maybe I heard it wrong. I could have heard it wrong, obviously. Did that sound weird to anybody else?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: You just said, "I'm not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net," and I think there are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say that sounds odd. Can you explain that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: TV news person just heard what candidate said and then stopped him and made him explain himself, like a flower blooming in the desert.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Quick, someone dig that up and get it away from CNN before one of their monitors falls and crushes it!

ROMNEY: You have to finish the sentence, Soledad. I'm not concerned about the very poor that have a safety net, but if it has holes in it I will repair them.

STEWART: Right, but it's still a net.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

O'BRIEN: Oh, I love it when I can laugh at those as opposed to like, oh. Thank you.

MARTIN: And you have to see this skewer (ph) Mitt Romney for it because of that opening line, you know, in terms of, I'm not concerned about them, but, are they really American? And, also, this whole 90, 95 percent middle class, no, 15.3 percent of the country is in poverty. $22,000 for a family of four.

Mitt might want to go check the math and understand the number of people out there who are having a difficult time. And the last thing, how is the middle class moved? Now all of a sudden you swear people make up the $500,000 middle class in this country.

O'BRIEN: Should have been -

MARTIN: Work your math, Mitt.

O'BRIEN: All I want to say is it should have been, could have been a victory lap and it -

MARTIN: It isn't going to happen.

O'BRIEN: -- and it was not.

MARTIN: Great job, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Well, thank you. MARTIN: (INAUDIBLE) I'm going.

O'BRIEN: Oh, go tell Tom I said, hey.

MARTIN: I will do it.

O'BRIEN: We'll see you back here in a minute.

MARTIN: All right.

O'BRIEN: You know, Roland just gets up and leaves in the middle of our show. It's all just chaos here in the morning on STARTING POINT.

All right, moving ahead - ahead this morning, Facebook IPO, getting an inside look at Facebook's finances and they are stunningly great. But can we benefit from this IPO? That's what I want to know. We'll ask our next guest about that.

Plus, a Texas teenager - remember the story - she was mistakenly deported to South America, 15-year-old. Reunited with her family last time. She's going to join us with her mom as well right here on our set.

And then it's Groundhog Day, but from Jimmy to Freddie to Sammy, we're saying "Get Real" to all these Groundhog want to be.

And we are honoring Don Cornelius this morning. He's the founder of "Soul Train," one of the best shows ever in the history of forever with the music from the acts that he made famous. So we're going to play the music of the people whose careers he gave a big, giant boost to.

CAIN: Solid.

O'BRIEN: And we remember Don Cornelius, our hero. Here's Luther Vandross, the man I love, with "Power of Love."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: I do, I get up early and I work hard for the money. Thank you, Donna Summer, for recognizing that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess that's (INAUDIBLE) for Governor Romney.

O'BRIEN: Oh, no. I'm actually playing this for Don Cornelius. You know, Donna Summer performed on "Soul Train." She was a huge, huge hit.

And welcome back, everybody.

We're getting a first look into the inner workings of Facebook because, of course, they're going public. And here's what we know. Facebook reported earning a billion dollars on sales of $3.7 billion in 2011. Eight hundred and forty-five active - million - 845 million active users each month and the company says that they turned a profit in 2009, five years after they were founded. Company will use the symbol FB on the ticker.

And Founder and Editor In Chief of "Business Insider" Henry Blodget joins us and Christine Romans I think is standing by for us as well.

Let's start with you, Henry. I thought it was so interesting that actual number of users because I think we had all been guesstimating around 500 million and it's much higher.

HENRY BLODGET, FOUNDER/EDITOR IN CHIEF, "BUSINESS INSIDER": Extraordinary. And when you step back and realized, this company was started in a dorm room about seven years ago, now has almost a billion people using it, half of which use it every day. It's just shocking.

O'BRIEN: How do you buy Facebook stock? If I want to go out and get Facebook stock, is it at all possible?

BLODGET: It's possible, it's probably too late. It's been trading -

O'BRIEN: It's late already.

BLODGET: Yes. But, well, people have been talking about Facebook stock for years, so you had your chance a couple of years ago. But it does trade on the private market. It's possible there would be some trades prior to the IPO.

But we now have a pretty good sense of where it should trade when it goes public and probably a lot of the opportunity is gone, unfortunately.

O'BRIEN: How does it -

FUGELSANG: You are allowed to click like on it, yes.

O'BRIEN: That gets me no actual cash at the end of the day.

How does this compare - I mean, obviously, the big ones, Groupon most recently, then there was Google which was I think back in 2004, right? LinkedIn also went public. How does this compare to those?

BLODGET: Facebook is going public in a much more mature state. Again, seven years old, as you said about $4 billion of revenue last year, a billion of earnings. It's much bigger than Google was.

And so it's really going public as a mature company. And unfortunately for everyone who wants to jump in the IPO, that actually takes away some of the upside. The time to get in really was a few years ago which is when Facebook fiercely resisted going public for a lot of reason. But if things go well and it's priced reasonably and we'll see what that is, there should be some upside.

O'BRIEN: Hey, Christine, we just showed a moment ago Google and Groupon and LinkedIn and sort of their IPO price and then their price now. And with the exception of Groupon, which was pretty recent, you've done well if you got in and got stock early on. What are the expectations for Facebook?

ROMANS: Well, that's why everyone's so excited about this one, but you know this company has a lot to prove, I'm going to be really honest with you. Because 85 percent of its revenue comes from advertising and there are a lot of consumer groups and people like you and me, we don't want to see changes to our Facebook and to privacy.

But hedge fund managers and people who own Facebook, they might have different ideas on how this company should make money. So, you know, the thing here is that Facebook has so much to prove, I mean, the way I see it right now is that it's priced for perfection, everyone is assuming this is going to be a new Google, but it is kind of a sign of a new tech bubble.

What can this company do to really grow? I mean right now it's got a billion dollars in profit last year. That compares with like $25 billion for a very mature, no question, a very mature Microsoft, right, so this company has got a lot of growing to do to be in the big leagues.

O'BRIEN: So let me ask Henry that, because there's some people who say, you know, is it (INAUDIBLE) - whatever, does it look like there could be a tech bubble? I wouldn't use big words in the morning. It's way too early. The other side said, well, they really haven't leveraged a lot of the opportunity yet. Even, you know, 85 percent of their revenue coming from advertising. They haven't really pushed that to make a profit yet.

BLODGET: That's right. And there's going to be a wide difference of reasonable opinion about what the stocks were. And everyone are going to look -

O'BRIEN: What do you think it's worth?

BLODGET: I think it's worth probably about $50 to $75 billion, which is well below what people were expecting a couple weeks ago before the numbers came out.

Now, there are going to be a lot of people will say exactly what you say, which is, oh, no, you have yet to see what they're going to invent. It's going to be this magical move business. It's going to be worth vastly more. And those folks will probably the ones that drive it to insane levels on the first day, but markets tend to settle in and I think it will probably settle in around 75.

O'BRIEN: Henry Blodget, appreciate that. Christine, also, always - appreciates when she -

ROMANS: Sure.

O'BRIEN: -- she jumps in and helps us out, understand this stuff.

Still to come this morning on STARTING POINT, Phil the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil making his prediction -

CAIN: Can anybody hear that without thinking of Bill Murray?

FUGELSANG: I can't.

O'BRIEN: And you cannot. You cannot. And it's actually what made Punxsutawney Phil the most famous of the many -

CAIN: Right.

O'BRIEN: -- dozens of groundhogs around the nation and the world. I'll bring you up to speed on those stories straight ahead.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: You know what -

CAIN: Look, it's Don Cornelius.

MARTIN: That didn't come from this side of the table.

O'BRIEN: Wow. Can we get back to Don Cornelius?

CAIN: Oh, that's my favorite night on "Soul Train."

MARTIN: Yes.

CAIN: That's (INAUDIBLE) in the history of "Soul Train."

MARTIN: They didn't cut it. They didn't cut it.

O'BRIEN: But it is - the reason we're playing that music is because for our "Get Real," we're talking about Groundhog Day and the myth that stretches back centuries, literally centuries but it's kept alive by Punxsutawney Phil, who just moments ago made his forecast and we have six more weeks of winter.

CAIN: Really?

O'BRIEN: Fifty degrees -

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Precisely.

CAIN: Hasn't started yet.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More mildness.

O'BRIEN: Wow, that's not a cute little -

MARTIN: That only applies to Chicago. O'BRIEN: But, Phil, apparently, not alone. Of course, people around America now come dressed in like these crazy costumes and they break out their own little Phil-like groundhogs because they want to cash in on the tradition. Look at those people you say in that picture? It's incredible.

You have general Bo Regard Lee, that is the name of one of the groundhogs. You have - there's a groundhog he lives in a Yellow River Game Ranch which is outside of Atlanta. There's Staten Island Chuck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, Staten Island Chuck.

O'BRIEN: Past years -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The kids love Staten Island.

O'BRIEN: Past years have been - hey, hey. Past years, there have been groundhogs named Sutton Sammy, French Quick Freddy, Holdsphil Hal (ph) which is from -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, Lord.

O'BRIEN: - Long Island. There's been Jimmy, the Groundhog. There's been more concisely named groundhogs named Chuckles, Tumbleweed, Gus and this year what may be a metaphor for gridlock, you know, in Washington, there's Potomac Phil.

So Potomac Phil is going to be on hand for the Inaugural Celebration of Groundhog Day, but they did not have their act together. I'm not kidding. Did not have their act together enough for the celebration in the Pump Circle (ph), so they had to use a stuffed animal - a stuffed animal groundhog.

CAIN: Oh, no.

FUGELSANG: OK. That's going to ruin the credibility of the entire ceremony, Soledad -

MARTIN: Seriously? Seriously?

O'BRIEN: Do I lie to you?

CAIN: I don't want to be the human who has to explain this to the aliens when they come. That's the last thing I want to -

O'BRIEN: Potomac Phil will be a stuffed animal, which we say not very real.

MARTIN: (INAUDIBLE).

FUGELSANG: Wow. We don't believe in climate change science, but we - can we get back to credible issues?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The celebration of the big -

FUGELSANG: Octopus that predicts soccer - Europe is way ahead of us on the super predicting animals.

O'BRIEN: And we are moving on.

Straight ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, the truth about sugar. Apparently, sugar so toxic, some people are saying it's as bad for you as tobacco and alcohol. We'll look at a new study coming out of "Nature" I think.

Plus, deadly riots to tell you about in Egypt, and some people believe they started over a soccer rivalry. We'll take you live to Cairo this morning.

And this young lady, she was deported to South America. Remember we did this story a month ago.

MARTIN: Right, right. Out of Dallas.

O'BRIEN: A 15-year-old girl, Jakadrien Turner, she's now back home, but there is so much more to her story than meets the eye. We're going to sit down and talk to her and her mom and her lawyer, no surprise, when we come in just a little bit right here on STARTING POINT. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Headlines to get to, Christine Romans has those for us. Hi. Good morning again.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. You know, we begin this morning, Soledad, in Egypt, a nation in mourning. A three-day observance in honor of the 79 people who died in a riot following a soccer match yesterday in Egypt.

Fans stormed the field hitting each other with rocks and chairs. Investigators are trying to figure out if it stemmed from a sports rivalry or a political tensions or just what caused this bloodshed.

CNN's Ben Wedeman following the story live in Cairo for us. What is the latest, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine. Well, the Egyptian government has launched an urgent investigation into this incident yesterday that, as you said, left more than 70 dead. Nearly 1,000 wounded.

Right now, there's a very stormy session going on in the Egyptian parliament where the deputies are demanding the resignation of the interior ministry, demanding that the military authorities, the so-called supreme council of the armed forces do more to impose law and order in this country.

Now we understand that the head of security, his deputy and the head of investigations have been arrested and they have been charged with dereliction of duty. The governor has of Port Said has resigned over this incident.

But it does seem that many people are pointing to the violence in Port Said as an example of the inability of the military to rule this country -- Christine.

ROMANS: Certainly a tragedy. Ben Wedemen, thank you so much for that.

Other stories making headlines this morning, President Obama urging Congress to pass mortgage relief legislation for millions of struggling homeowners. He wants to make it easier for Americans to refinance at these record low mortgage interest rates.

Under his plans borrowers could save, he says, about $3,000 a year. The president also wants the mortgage process streamlined without the hidden fees.

According to a survey conducted by United Technologies about two-thirds of Americans believe that banks should pitch in by absorbing the refinancing fees.

A salmonella outbreak that has made 68 people sick has been linked to Taco Bell. Taco Bell that operates nearly 6,000 restaurants in this country says the source of the food-born illness still has not been identified by the Center for Disease Control.

Two new studies have found Alzheimer's disease seems to spread from brain cell to brain cell like an infection, but unlike bacteria or viruses. It's a protein known as (inaudible) that is spreading.

Scientists say that the discovery has immediate implications for finding new Alzheimer's treatments. They believe other degenerative brain disorders maybe like Parkinsons probably spread in the same way.

A California woman has defeated Honda in a small claims court. You remember Heather Peters of Los Angeles, she spoke to us after she filed a claim against Honda because she said her Honda Civic Hybrid didn't come close to getting the promised 50 miles per gallon.

So her reward nearly 10 grand, Soledad, $10,000, which makes me wonder, how many other people are going to go check to see?

O'BRIEN: You wonder if you want to do small claims court or class action lawsuit? All right, Christine, thank you for that update.

It is a confusing and contradictory story of a 15-year-old girl from Texas who ran away from home and then ended up being deported to Colombia.

The story begins back in November of 2010, when Jakadrien Turner ran away from her mom's home. Houston police said the girl was arrested in April of 2011 for shoplifting and that she claimed to be a Colombian citizen named Tika Cortez. That's what the police say.

She was handed over to Immigration and Custom Enforcement and less than two months later was deported to Colombia. Jakadrien's mother was finally able to locate her daughter on Facebook, tracked her down to Bogota, Colombia. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials told our Ed Lavandera that they found no evidence that Jakadrien Turner tried to provide officers with her real name or claimed to be a U.S. citizen.

Her mom says her daughter must have been told by an adult to deceive authorities. That's what she told me in an interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNISA TURNER, MOTHER OF DEPORTED TEEN: Here you have a 15- year-old girl in a system that she's not familiar with. And she's afraid and, as I said before, she did what she was told to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Jakadrien is now home with her family and Jakadrien joins us here in the studio along with her mom, Johnisa, and her attorney. It's nice to have you. Thanks for being with us. I appreciate it.

All right, let me start with mom first. She has been home for a month now, how has that been? That must have been amazing to not only find her after so long but to now have her back.

JOHNISA TURNER: It's a relief. I'm overjoyed and I'm really glad to have her home.

O'BRIEN: So, there are so many confusing things in the story. So I'm just going to walk through it slowly and I want you to help me understand it.

According to the authorities, I think you were arrested for shoplifting, right. They bring you in and they say to CNN that you didn't tell them that you were a teenager and you didn't tell them that you weren't Colombian. That you gave a fake name. Is that true or not true?

JAKADRIEN TURNER, AMERICAN TEEN DEPORTED TO COLOMBIA: I told them that I was 15-year-old and my name was Jakadrien Turner.

O'BRIEN: So what did they do after that when you told them that?

JAKADRIEN TURNER: They said that I looked older.

O'BRIEN: Any 15-year-old girl would love that I'm sure. And so they didn't believe you? They thought you were lying about your age?

JAKADRIEN TURNER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Where did the name Tika Cortez come from?

JAKADRIEN TURNER: I made it that name up earlier before when I first ran away and did a lot of things. And a lot of things happened to me and I made that name up to hide my identity.

O'BRIEN: So, at some point you're using the name Tika Cortez and did they believe that was your name or did they have any idea that you're really Jakadrien Turner?

JAKADRIEN TURNER: They believed that was name.

O'BRIEN: So then, at some point, in order to deport someone, you actually need the Colombian authorities to come and do an interview with the person and arrange for, you know, papers out of the country.

RAY JACKSON, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF DEPORTED GIRL: That's where the system starts breaking down. You do need Colombian authorities to come in and say, OK, she's a Colombian citizen.

Obviously, there's no record of her in Colombia. She was given citizenship papers expedited, citizenship papers and the people who are responsible for doing that have already been fired by the Colombian government.

O'BRIEN: Did they come and interview you? Did representatives from the Colombian government who are working on your deportation papers sit down with you?

JAKADRIEN TURNER: Yes, and gave me another name.

O'BRIEN: And what was that name?

JAKADRIEN TURNER: (Inaudible). They gave me more information about Tika.

O'BRIEN: So, they told you who you were?

JAKADRIEN TURNER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And at that point did you say, listen, that's not me, I'm 15 years old and by the way, I want to call my mom.

JAKADRIEN TURNER: The fact that being in Colombia and there is so, I know that a lot of people, a lot of people in Colombia did not like Americans. So I was scared to tell them that I was Jakadrien Turner when I got into Colombia.

O'BRIEN: But before you got to Colombia and they were interviewing you to see if they were going to deport you. You've had some opportunities to tell them like, listen, stop, I'm not Colombian.

JAKADRIEN TURNER: Yes and I've told three immigration officers that I was Jakadrien Turner. But after that, I gave up. I didn't feel like I had more chances.

O'BRIEN: Did you ask them if you could call home?

JAKADRIEN TURNER: I couldn't call my mother, it was a collect call. O'BRIEN: So what happens legally now? You end up deported to Colombia. Your mom ends up being able to track -- this story is so complicated. I mean, it's almost like no one would believe me if you weren't all sitting in front of me. Your mom tracks her down on Facebook. How did that happen?

JOHNISA TURNER: She followed friends of friends and located her and told me she was in Colombia. When she said Colombia, off the top, I really didn't believe it.

O'BRIEN: You're like, Colombia, Maryland? It was Bogota, Colombia.

JOHNISA TURNER: Right.

O'BRIEN: So when you landed in Colombia, the country, who did you meet? I mean, how did you -- who picked you up at the airport? Who took you?

JAKADRIEN TURNER: It was a program. No, I didn't know anything about Colombia and didn't know nothing. It was a very big learning experience. As with the program, it was a program called welcome home and I was with people that were deported.

O'BRIEN: So, they had you all deport under to a program.

JACKSON: Sure. You know Colombia is one of those countries that have third party deportation.

O'BRIEN: What does that mean?

JACKSON: It means that other countries can deport people who don't want to go to their country to Colombia and Colombia will accept them and get like $10,000 for each person that they allow to be deported into Colombia.

O'BRIEN: Were they paid for her deportation then?

JACKSON: I don't know if they were paid for her deportation, but where she was in the welcome home program. There were people from Africa and people all different countries that were housed in this program.

O'BRIEN: So, you have a pretty strong Texas accent, which does mean you couldn't be Colombian, but that might be a thing if you're saying this is not me, an additional piece of evidence. I don't speak Spanish and I don't sound like I'm from Colombia. Did they ask you if you spoke Spanish? They thought you've been living in Colombia and then come to the United States? Did you speak any Spanish when you went to Colombia?

JAKADRIEN TURNER: No.

O'BRIEN: So, the INS has said that they have you on tape talking about, that you kept saying your name, the Tika. They have you consistently on tape not using your real name, but using the name Tika.

JAKADRIEN TURNER: But at that point, I feel like I gave up. I told multiple officers who I was. I told multiple immigration officers that I was Jakadrien Turner and I felt that I just need to deal with this and be deported to Colombia because I don't really have no more chances.

O'BRIEN: What happens next? I know you're three months pregnant. I'm sure we talked the last time. Lawsuit seems to be something that you're probably thinking about.

JACKSON: A lawsuit is forthcoming.

O'BRIEN: Against who?

JACKSON: We're still considering every party. You know, particularly ICE, Homeland Security, possibly Houston Police Department and possibly the Colombian government.

The real issue here, I think, Ms. O'Brien is we protect children from themselves. We don't allow children to get married. We don't allow children to enter contracts, not without having an adult make those decisions for them.

Here's a 15-year-old girl who is going through a process and she is hearing the words ICE, deportation and she doesn't understand what any of this means.

O'BRIEN: Well, we'll continue to follow the story, of course, because we want to know how you're doing and obviously, if you're happy at home and all of that. We want to keep in touch with you. And of course, how any lawsuit if it happens goes. Thanks for talking to us, appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Donald Trump ready to announce a GOP endorsement, apparently. We're curious to know who he is going to support.

Also, we are honoring Don Cornelius today, the founder of "Soul Train," music that you never heard, Jakadrien. Don Cornelius, she sees like I don't know who that is. But your mom and your lawyer know who that is.

Acts that he made famous is what we're playing this morning. Listen to Smokey Robinson, "Tears of a Clown."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Donald Trump is ready to announce his Republican presidential endorsement. Who is he going to support? Do we even care? All that is up next.

A terror gang admits to bombing a London landmark. We've got details on this developing story coming up.

Stay with us. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Politically, we are decoding 2012. This morning, there are three stories that are making headlines in the GOP race so let's start with those.

We have Ron Brownstein joining us by the way. But he's not with us, sadly.

Good morning to you.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Yesterday, when you were sitting next me, we threw up some numbers that showed about spending. We looked at the Romney campaign and the super PAC campaign spending for Romney and they aired 13,000 ads versus the 200 ads for Newt Gingrich. That was through January 25th. There are some new numbers going through January 30th. Big change in the numbers. Romney campaign and Super PAC, combined, 19,000 ads versus Newt Gingrich. Big increase for him, 4,000 ads. I believe that's through January 30th.

So first and foremost, let's decode that. It's not only negative, there's also a lot of low turnout.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. I'm glad we've gotten that straightened out. Instead of it being an aircraft carrier versus a row boat, it was only a battleship versus a row boat. I'm glad we got that sorted out.

(LAUGHTER)

Look, that is reality. That's the reality Newt Gingrich faces that every state that does matter, Mitt Romney is going to have an overwhelming financial advantage.

Yes, I think the turnout is kind of interesting. Unlike 2008, when you had antipathy towards George W. Bush fueling this enormous increase in Democratic turnout, despite the very strong feelings against President Obama in the Republican base, we've seen the big turnout increase in South Carolina, the only state with a major increase. That probably does speak to some lack of enthusiasm or at least kind of a burning enthusiasm about any of these candidates.

O'BRIEN: A lack of a burning enthusiasm.

(LAUGHTER)

Let me ask, you were sitting next to me when I did this interview with Mitt Romney yesterday.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Of course, he was talking about, you know, I don't care about the poor because they have the safety net.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

O'BRIEN: Then we asked him again and he doubled down on it. Again, when he was asked on the plane, he tripled down on it.

(LAUGHTER)

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: What do you think is -- now, today, Gail Collins -- "National Journal" gave a little shout out to us. The "Wall Street Journal" has what he really meant.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Everybody.

O'BRIEN: It was the big story. What is the big impact of all this?

BROWNSTEIN: There are two points about this. The first one everybody's focusing on is the political point. This is one of several comments Romney has made, which he argues are misconstrued, about corporations are people, or I like firing people, or I'm unemployed too, that seem to suggest a lack of connection to the economic problems of average Americans.

I think the more important point, Soledad, that hasn't been discussed over the past 24 hours, and that's the substantive one. He said, as part of that interview, if there are problems with the safety net, I want to strengthen it or fix it. In fact, at the core of his campaign has been an argument about retrenching it. The base of his argument is that he is, quote, "converting us into a social welfare state like Europe." He's already talking about converting Medicaid, which is an entitlement, into a block grant and significantly reducing the federal contribution to it over time.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: At the "Meet the Press" debate in New Hampshire, he talked about block granting food stamps and federal housing aid as well.

And one last point. He's talking about, at the center of his economic plan, is a 20 percent limit of federal spending as a share of GDP, which would be 16 percent of domestic spending as a share of GDP, which would require, necessitate significant reductions over time in the very safety net programs that he's talking about.

O'BRIEN: It shows this conflict, Ron, between really true conservative principles, right, which is sort of the second half of what Ron said, and also a guy who's trying to get elected.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. We were debating this right off stage. We went through this, Roland Martin and I.

O'BRIEN: You can't debate anything off stage, people.

(CROSSTALK) O'BRIEN: It doesn't count if it's off stage.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, we'll repeat it.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: He's trivializing deporting teenagers.

CAIN: You just nailed it, Soledad. You just nailed it. This is not only a bad political move but it is somewhat against conservative ideology that you don't divide and pander. You don't divide us into classes and pander to us. This is a problem now in the primary and will be a problem in the general election.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: -- safety net.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the most despairing thing about it, is that -- and they all divide and pander, but he did it to the middle class in such a way of assuming that middle class Americans don't care about poor people. I do think middle class Americans have compassion in their hearts for the poor. That was the most cynical thing about it was that by appealing to the middle class --

O'BRIEN: And some of them are becoming poor.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, first of all, they're writing off the poor. So many millions of Americans are one crisis away from joining the poor.

ROLAND: Our stats are real clear. More than 50 percent of Americans may very well fall below the poverty line at least one year in their lifetime. People get it. They have family members as well in this category. When a candidate says, look, that's not my focus, you're going to have some issues. You want to be the president for all America, you better have a policy.

O'BRIEN: Ron Brownstein, I have to ask you another question because I really want to get this in about Donald Trump.

MARTIN: Oh.

O'BRIEN: I know. He said he's going to endorse somebody. Maybe -- do we care?

MARTIN: No.

CAIN: No.

O'BRIEN: We, being America?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: By the way, there are 15 million more people in poverty today than when Bill Clinton left office in 2008, eight million more under Bush, seven million more in the two years under Obama.

As for Donald Trump, Donald Trump has an audience in the populous wing of the Republican Party. There's no question about it. That has been kind of a constituency for Newt Gingrich. I can't imagine this is a big deal in terms of the overall trajectory of the race. But Gingrich -- we have seen a kind of interesting phenomenon over the past week, kind of overshadowed by the size of Romney's win in Florida. As more establishment figures, like Bob Dole and John McCain, have rallied around Romney, you have seen a countervailing movement from people like Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Herman Cain, Mark Levine, prominent talk radio how, around Gingrich, which could give him more of a foundation than he would have --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Let's reference that to this thing is not ending for a really long time.

MARTIN: Of course not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's huge. Huge.

O'BRIEN: I have to take a commercial break.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: You act like you're in the audience somewhere.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: He's heckling. He's heckling.

O'BRIEN: On my show. You're --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Comedian Trump and the Republican Party, what do you want me to do?

O'BRIEN: There's a heckler at the desk. It's so odd.

(LAUGHER)

All right, time to take a break.

Ahead this mourning on STARTING POINT, President Obama about to speak to the National Prayer Breakfast. We'll bring that to you live when it happens in the next hour.

And then, the toxic truth about sugar. A new study out says it could be as bad for you as alcohol and tobacco. That's straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)