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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Rumblings of War; American Tourists Kidnapped in Egypt; Romney: "Misspoke" On The Poor; January Jobs Report Puts Unemployment at 8.3 percent; Susan G. Komen Foundation Stop Funding for Planned Parenthood; California Woman Beats Honda in Court; Go Red Day; Every Mother Counts
Aired February 3, 2012 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. Welcome to STARTING POINT.
We are starting with two Americans kidnapped in Egypt reportedly by that same group that kidnapped two dozen people just last week. We're going to take you live to Cairo with the latest on that story.
Plus, could these be rumblings of war. The ayatollah is promising retaliation after Leon Panetta said Israel could strike Iran maybe this spring.
And a big jobs report is expected just about 30 minutes away. Will it show a boost to the economy or a drag? We're going to crunch those numbers when they come out for you.
STARTING POINT begins right now.
O'BRIEN: You know what? I love this girl so much. I'm telling you. Ledisi -- this is like an old Ledisi day. I didn't even know.
O'BRIEN: It's been a surprise. It's all week.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I can tell you.
O'BRIEN: "Pieces of Me" tour. Amazing. Amazing.
Anyway, let's get right to our panelists this morning. Will Cain joins us.
O'BRIEN: You Texan, you.
Chrystia Freeland is with us as well, from "Reuters." And Baratunde Thurston is from "The Union," has written a book, "How To Be Black." We'll talk about that a little bit later.
BARATUNDE THURSTON, THE UNION: Good morning.
O'BRIEN: Nice to have all of you.
Let's talk first about Iran. Some new developments overnight. Iran's supreme leader warning Israel and also the United States about attacking Iran's nuclear installations. The defense secretary, Leon Panetta, saying that there is, quote, a growing likelihood that Israel will attack Iran this spring.
The chatters growing louder ands more urgent in Jerusalem. Israel believes that Iran is approaching what they called that zone of immunity, meaning that they get to the point where they have built so much of these nuclear weapons, it's impossible to attack effectively. Once that happens, that can sort of change the game.
And there's a new warning from the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, saying this, "Iran must be prevented from becoming nuclear and no option should be taken off the table."
All of this points to just racheting up of this conversation.
Barbara Starr live for us at the Pentagon to start our 8:00 hour.
Hey, Barbara. Good morning.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad.
Well, you know, think of it as the triangle of rising rhetoric. Iran, Israel, the United States in the last 48 hours, leaders in all of these countries now stepping up the rhetoric at a very time when President Obama is still determined that sanctions and economic pressure are the way to go to convince Iran to give up its nuclear effort, that the sanctions are beginning to bite with the Iranian economy and that the people will begin to react to that in Iran. So, why all the war rhetoric?
At this point, no one can really explain why Leon Panetta let it be known that he feels publicly, that he feels this very sensitive piece of intelligence that Israel might strike this spring was something he had to say, something that had to come out. Is he trying to pressure Iran? Is he possibly putting Israel at risk by revealing Israeli intentions? Hard to say.
O'BRIEN: All right. Defense Secretary Gates said this. I want to play a chunk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think that the newest round of sanctions potentially do have the opportunity to get the Iranians to change their minds. But this is -- this is a very, very difficult and dangerous set of choices, frankly, before us, because those who say we shouldn't attack I think underestimate the consequences of Iran having a nuclear weapon. And those who say we should underestimate the consequences of going to war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Barbara, he's basically saying we're in between a rock and a hard place on this one, which is --
STARR: You bet. Bob Gates is one of the most savvy operatives ever to hit Washington, D.C. When he speaks, people listen. And I think essentially what Gates is saying there is be careful before anybody gets backed into a corner that they can't get out of.
This kind of rhetoric can have a way of causing impacts and intentions that perhaps nobody means. Gates is a man of extreme caution and is basically warning: be careful. Don't put any of these three players in a position that you cannot deal with.
O'BRIEN: This is scary stuff when you hear from Bob Gates. I mean, as she points out, like he does not sort of have these conversations lightly.
CHRYSTIA FREEMAN, EDITOR, THOMSON REUTERS DIGITAL: I love Barbara's rising triangle of rhetoric. That was a great line. And I think I'm actually very reassured to hear Gates frame the issue that way.
It's a scary issue, but I'm glad that someone who's very central to where U.S. decisions will be made understands that there are no easy solutions here and both options carry very, very high risks and dangers. I think it's true.
O'BRIEN: Risks as Khamenei has pointed out not just in any kind of response to Israel, if in fact Israel were to attack Iran. But he said this. "Threatening Iran and attacking Iran will harm America," and goes one to say, "Sanctions will not have an impact in response to threats of oil embargo. We have our own threats to impose at any time."
That's scary stuff.
CAIN: Really scary.
O'BRIEN: And politically, of course, huge implications. I mean, if you're talking an April time line, which is what Leon Panetta had said.
CAIN: Chrystia said, very, very scary. The secretary said underestimating the effects of war.
I think when we think about going to war with Iran, we're talking about 600,000 troops in country. You're not going to be able to bomb this country's nuclear capabilities away.
I think war is terrifying. I want to hear what a nuclear Iran is. I don't -- he says we also underestimate that effect. I need that explained to me, nuclear Iran. Tell me how we're underestimating that.
THURSTON: Well, the other thing, we're in a different position than we were a decade ago where we know what war looks like in modern times. What it does to our economy, what it does to our morale, what it does to our productivity, what it does to our health of our veterans, and service men and women. And so, to not take that lightly is not a hypothetical question anymore. We've got the past decade and look, at it and say, what does the opportunity cost of that decision?
FREEMAN: Well, and not to mention, America has run out of money. You know, when the war in Iraq started, America felt really rich and felt that it could afford to do this stuff. It's a very, very different world right now.
CAIN: He's saying underestimating the problems of a nuclear Iran as well. We need to understand, that is -- that is a big problem.
O'BRIEN: I feel like we're having a conversation where raising the questions.
CAIN: I know. Right.
THURSTON: The triangle of rhetoric.
O'BRIEN: Yes, the triangle of rhetoric.
We got to some breaking news. Christine has got that for us.
Hey, Christine. Good morning again.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.
Breaking news this morning out of Egypt right now: a group of armed gunmen kidnapped two American female tourists and their Egyptian tour guide. This is in the Sinai Peninsula.
Ivan Watson is live in Cairo with the latest for us.
God morning, Ivan.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
That's right. The Egyptian authorities confirming two American tourists were kidnapped in south Sinai by what they say were unidentified Bedouin kidnappers. The U.S. embassy has confirmed they've gotten that information from Egyptian authorities and are working with them to make sure of the citizenship of these people who have been taken hostage.
We've spoken with some of our trusted Bedouin sources in the say Sinai Peninsula. They say that the Bedouins, they come from the Haramsha (ph) tribe and they want the release of some suspects from their tribe who were arrested by Egyptian authorities last week in connection with the armed robbery of a foreign exchange office in the tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheik. In that robbery, one French tourist was killed.
We've seen the disturbing trend developed in Sinai. Twenty-five Chinese workers from a cement factory were kidnapped for less than 24 hours earlier this week and released. Also demands coming from another Bedouin tribe asking for some of their tribesmen to be released from prison.
This growing crime wave is affecting Cairo as well. I just talked to one man who was a witness of that awful soccer stage rampage that led to the deaths of 79 people on Wednesday night that's shaken up this country terribly. And he said he came back from that and found that two of his child cousins had been kidnapped for ransom, had to pay the ransom, and they were released within hours -- a sign of real instability growing in Egypt.
Back to you.
ROMANS: All right. Ivan Watson -- thank you so much, Ivan.
Other headlines this morning -- the United Nations scrambling to pass a proposed peace resolution for Syria as Russia threatens to veto. Russia opposing a call for regime change in Syria. Drafters of the proposal have made revisions and hope to put it to a vote as soon as possible.
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved an insider trading bill. It bans Congress members and their staff from financially profiting from nonpublic information.
Attorney General Eric Holder says firings and charges are underway for Justice Department officials who ran the program called Fast and Furious. Holder is in the hot seat in front of the House Oversight Committee yesterday.
Congressman Darrell Issa demanding Holder release documents on the gun running operation or face contempt of court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: This committee has lost its patience to wait longer. We will not wait until next Groundhog Day to get answers for the American people.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Department of Justice stands ready to work with you. Not only to correct the mistakes of the past, but also to strengthen our law enforcement capacity in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Fast and Furious, as you know, put guns in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
All right. The FBI's no fly list has more than doubled in the past year. Counter terror officials say there are now about 21,000 people on the rolls with around 500 Americans.
Minding your business this morning: U.S. stock futures trading slightly higher right now. The big jobs report for January comes out in about 20 minutes. So, that could direct trading. We'll get you knows numbers as soon as they are reported.
And a material girl playing hurt this weekend. Madonna says she's excited and nervous about performing during the halftime show of the Super Bowl. And even though she suffered a hamstring injury during rehearsals, she's got her game face on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADONNA, ENTERTAINER: Great attention to detail has been paid to my wardrobe. There will be no wardrobe malfunctions. Promise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Wow. There you go.
O'BRIEN: They could raise ratings. Everybody was talking about the Super Bowl. Say what you want, that's what happened.
All right. Christine, thank you.
And speaking of the Super Bowl, we're going to take a lack at the hottest ads this year, including, have you guys seen this preview of Buller?
CAIN: -- a little something about it.
O'BRIEN: Matthew Broderick is back. It's so funny. It's cute. We're going to be able to see a sneak peek of that.
Plus, Mitt Romney commenting on the very poor, then he gets an endorsement from the Donald. Donald Trump.
THURSTON: Oh, boy.
O'BRIEN: Why are we -- is that a --
O'BRIEN: Is that a bad day or a good day?
THURSTON: We're all very poor.
O'BRIEN: Does that hurt his rich guy image or does it help him? Will Cain is just laughing. We are -- that's a tease, people.
We leave you with Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas and "Smooth," as we go to break. We're back in the moment.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Mitt Romney is campaigning in Nevada ahead of tomorrow's caucuses there, but he is still being dogged by what he said in the state of Florida on STARTING POINT. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs to repair, I'll fix it. You can focus on the very poor. That's not my focus. My focus is on middle income Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Romney now says that that comment was a mistake and here is what he told Nevada's political reporter, John Rolston.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: John, it was a misstatement. I misspoke. If people are going to go after me when I make a mistake, when I slip up on a word I say, even though I say I got it wrong, sorry, that's not what I meant, you know, that's got to be part of the political process. I understand it, and I accept the consequence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Grover Norquist is the president of Americans for Tax Reform and Robert Kuttner is the co-founder and co-editor of the "America Prospect" magazine. He's also a senior fellow at Demos. It's nice to have you both with us this morning. So, you've heard a little bit of the back and forth, and I know you've sort of read it everywhere.
Grover, I'm going to start with you. Outside of the fact that it's always unwise if you're running for political office to say that you don't care about anything, fill in the blank.
GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: : Yes.
O'BRIEN: What do you make of the greater point that he is trying to make, which is I'm going to focus on the middle class, and I really am not going to worry at this moment about the plight of the poor.
NORQUIST: Well, that doesn't make any sense. What he's been doing in the campaign up until the statement is saying we need to create more jobs.
We need to get the government out of the way of creating more jobs and opportunities, and that's important for middle class people who have a job, who want a better job, who want a better paying job, but it's even more important to someone who has no job yet. So, the solution for poor people and middle income people and upper income people to do better is to have stronger economic growth and more job creation and why would you get away from that message? Job creation is good for everybody. Why play the game that Obama plays with dividing people into different groups and mugging one or making fun of the other?
That's not where the Republican Party's historically been, certainly not where Reagan was. I think he really messed up in the approach, but his policies of lower taxes, less regulation, fewer court abuses, and getting rid of all this tax and spend stuff, that would be good for the poorest person who doesn't have a job at all and for middle income people trying to do better next year than last year.
O'BRIEN: So Robert Cutner, when we talked to Ron Brownstein earlier, he said if this was a misstatement or if he misspoke, or if he slipped up on a word, and that's all quoting the governor, you know, he's really been keeping this message across the entire campaign trail that that sounds like that is just not completely true. Do you think that, in fact, that this is against the policies that he believes in or what?
ROBERT KUTTNER, CO-FOUNDER AND CO-EDITOR OF THE "AMERICA PROSPECT" MAGAZINE: Well, here's Romney's problem. Temperamentally, characterologically, he comes across as kind of a tightly wound, stiff guy. He comes across as somebody, you know, the kind of guy who would eat pizza with a knife and fork. Not one of us. And then, of course, he's a private equity guy.
Because he has to do so many contortions to reconcile his current positions with his past positions, he stays on script. And so, when he goes off script, he tends to mess up. Whereas, somebody like Reagan or Obama or Roosevelt, these were politicians who were comfortable in their own skin. They could trust themselves to ad lib.
They could trust themselves to speak off the cuff. Romney can't trust himself to speak off the cuff, because everything is scripted. He's such a tightly wound guy. And so, when he goes off script, he blurts out things that then you need Romney, himself, or Grover Norquist to kind of explain afterwards what he really meant. This is why the Republicans are going to have a problem with him as the standard bearer.
O'BRIEN: When you look at the statistics of poverty, people in poverty the standard measurement, right, is family of four making under $22,000 a year. 2007, you had 37 million people in poverty. And now, in 2010, that number's gone up just under 25 percent to 46 million. Large number of those people are, actually, children.
One in five children are living in poverty. Forty-two percent of boys born into the bottom fifth of the population are going to stay there. What is the fix? You know, he talked about the safety net and what he was going to do was repair the safety net if there is a problem.
Some people would look at these numbers and say, well, clearly it's a problem. It's going the wrong direction at the very least. What's the repair of the safety net, Grover?
NORQUIST: Well, I think, one of the advantages that the Republicans have is that their solution on questions of safety net means tested, welfare programs, food stamps, Medicaid, housing programs, the 77 programs that are means tested, larger ones, are to do exactly what Bill Clinton and the Democrats did back in the 1990s, which is to block grant them to the states, eliminate a lot of the strings that were attached to them, and that ended up with a lot more flexibility, a lot of good ideas, a lot fewer people stuck in welfare, more people with opportunities.
So, the Republican solution to fixing the welfare programs, and they're 77, not one, aid to families with dependent children was one of them is to do what Clinton did. It's going to be a little difficult for the Democrats to get up and explain how awful that is since it's kind of the one success that Clinton had in eight years.
O'BRIEN: Well, you know what, I'm going to give you a moment, Robert, to counter that, because I know you want to. And then, I got to take a commercial break. Go ahead.
KUTTNER: Sure. Well, you know, welfare reform worked fine when there was full employment, but when you block grant programs to the states at a time when the states are constrained to cut hundreds of billions of dollars, that money comes out of the mouths of the poor, and the Republicans have been for more and more cuts.
They haven't been the party that's been in favor of repairing the safety net. So, I don't think Romney has much credibility when he talks about if there's a problem with the safety net, I'm the guy who fix it.
O'BRIEN: Robert Kuttner and Grover Norquist joining us this morning. Gentleman, thanks. Appreciate it.
Still ahead on STARTING POINT, the Susan G. Komen Foundation cuts off funding for Planned Parenthood. That has a lot of people angry. Some saying, this is really all about politics.
Then, $3.5 million for 30 seconds. Really think about that. You better dazzle me. Super Bowl ads already getting a lot of buzz. I'm going to show you our early favorites coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Movies bring so much joy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just get some rest. Diva.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: OK. Bringing back my whole high school experience growing up on Long Island.
BARATUNDE THURSTON, AUTHOR: Robust weekend.
O'BRIEN: Yes, it is. Yes, it is. It's all request playlist this morning on STARTING POINT. Advertisers, of course, are bringing their A game to Super Bowl, and we are hoping Madonna will, as well, but some of the sneak peek of these commercials are really getting some buzz. We've got Abbey Klaasen. She's the editor-in-chief of Advertising Age. Nice to have you. $3.5 million for 30 seconds?
ABBEY KLAASEN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "ADVERTISING AGE": It's expensive. $100,000 per second.
KLAASEN: I know.
O'BRIEN: Do they get that money back? The math has to have been done that it's all --
THURSTON: It must work.
O'BRIEN: It has to, but that's a lot of money.
O'BRIEN: Let's go to the expert for that.
KLAASEN: You know, it works for certain strategies. So, I think really smart strategy is if you're launching a product, the Super Bowl is a great place to be, especially that has mass appeal. We're talking about the highest rated event on television. Last year, --
O'BRIEN: Outside of the show. Sorry.
KLAASEN: But, you know, the thing about the Super Bowl, not only is it the highest rated event, but people also tune in to watch the ads.
O'BRIEN: God! Sometimes, that's all you tune in for.
KLAASEN: It's the only thing on television that can boast that.
O'BRIEN: So, let's go to the ads. A lot of people doing the like harkening back to nostalgia.
O'BRIEN: So, first this is the Honda ad and the Ferris Bueller ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm not sure what it is. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess, I'll be OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm calling the studio, Matthew. You're not shooting today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are depending on me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Movies bring so much -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: I love this ad.
KLAASEN: Speaking of throwbacks, right?
O'BRIEN: Speaking of throwbacks. It's so funny to se Ferris Bueller as like a middle-aged man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that say about us, though?
O'BRIEN: We, too, are middle-aged is what it says.
KLAASEN: Well, I'm quite disappointed that he's not playing Ferris Bueller in this ad. He's actually playing Matthew Broderick. And to me, you know, I would have loved to see more scenes -- more of the characters from the movie, you know, instead, it's just him. And he's playing himself in real life.
O'BRIEN: It's very cute, but do you think it's going to work?
KLAASEN: You know, I don't know. I mean, I think it's so far --
O'BRIEN: It's selling a car. It's selling the CRV.
THURSTON: What is he selling? Thank you.
O'BRIEN: When you have to ask that though, that's kind of problem.
KLAASEN: They do mention the car. There's a lot of shots of the car. I think one of the things that worked for them here was releasing it early, because they were the first Super Bowl advertiser to really release this. They had a brilliant ten-second teaser, you know? And here we are, talking --
O'BRIEN: Yes. We're all talking about it, right?
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, REUTERS: They get paid $3.5 million.
O'BRIEN: Not yet. Not yet.
THURSTON: Will is not talking about it. (LAUGHTER)
O'BRIEN: Not at all. OK. So, this is my favorite ad. This is called the Chevrolet, the happy grad. Let this play for a long time, guys. This is hysterical.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A blindfold, mom, really? Is this necessary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy graduation, sweetie?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahhhh! Whew!
I can't believe you got me this car! Amazing! Status update, best day of my life! I'm calling grandma.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: This commercial goes on and on. Obviously not his car. Some guy at some point gets in and drives the car away. He brings his friends in it. This is really funny. And I thought they did a good job, because it's always about the car.
KLAASEN: About the car, and, by the way, the punch line here is that his parents got him a mini-fridge instead of a car. Can you imagine?
O'BRIEN: That's so cute.
KLAASEN: The cool part about this ad is this is actually an amateur ad. So, it wasn't created by the professional ad agency. It was an independent, you know, amateur film maker from, I think, the New York area, so from Long Island.
O'BRIEN: Wow. I think that's going to be very, very successful. The third one, this is so odd. This is the Volkswagen dog ad. I can't even set it up. Here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The way through we have the dropped ball.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: OK. So, it goes on and on. I'll keep the ad playing, because it goes on. The dog gets in great shape. Now, the dog is going to jump through. And then, there's a really odd turn. KLAASEN: A very odd ending to this ad.
THURSTON: I hope it's not --
O'BRIEN: Watch. Weird. Here we go. Weird. Suddenly, it's about Darth Vader.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Really?
O'BRIEN: Explain. No. And I know the Darth Vader ad was very successful for in the past year.
KLAASEN: Yes. I think this is a little farce, frankly. So, last year, they --
O'BRIEN: A turn from a dog to Darth Vader? Yes.
KLAASEN: They had that really successful ad starring a little kid, trying to play Darth Vader and use the force to get things to happen, and his dad tricks him with the remote control and the car, and the car turns on, he thinks that his own force, you know? It's an awkward turn. It sort of like forcing that theme in there. I think they want to remind people of the adorable ad that was, you know, last year's ad.
O'BRIEN: I didn't think it really worked.
KLAASEN: It doesn't work.
O'BRIEN: Thank you for being with us. We certainly appreciate it.
Still ahead on STARTING POINT, we're just minutes away from that release of jobs report. We'll bring you those numbers after this short break.
Plus a cancer charity really now trying to diffuse a crisis after they cut off cash to Planned Parenthood. That story is ahead as well. We're back in just a moment.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back. As we've been promising all morning we've got some breaking news. We're talking about of course the January jobs report that is now out. It gives us a look at the recovery of the economy, how the labor market is doing. Christine Romans has been watching that for us. Good news, the number was 8.5, down to 8.3 percent and lots of jobs have been created, right?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, 243,000 jobs created in January. That's a surprise. People had expected it to be more like 130. You come in more like up here, Soledad. So it was 243,000 jobs created. We had positive revisions to December and November. More jobs created in December, November than we thought.
Also, widespread jobs growth except for the information sector. So along a lot of categories. Professional business services up 70,000, leisure and hospitality were higher. Health care, no surprise, we've been growing jobs in health care for a couple of years. Trade, retail, manufacturing -- manufacturing up 50,000 jobs, which is interesting. You've been hearing a lot of people talking about how manufacturing is slowly trickling back.
So 8.3 percent is the unemployment rate, 243,000 jobs created overall. I want to show you how that factors out because these numbers for this year are going to be so political. Now you've got this. You've even got a couple of months back here that are better than we thought, too. So some strong jobs growth here. There are also new population assumptions in here.
Later on today, Soledad, I'm sure you're going to be hearing a lot of people trying to tear these numbers apart and look at how they're different. There are a bunch of revision this time of year always. But headline figure here is very strong. It shows the economy was growing and creating jobs in January, Soledad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a big number.
O'BRIEN: Yes, that's a really big number, Christine. That's a lot higher than everyone was expecting. Do we know yet how many jobs -- how many government jobs were lost? How much private sector growth there was?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Versus government?
ROMANS: Versus jobs that are lost by government?
Yes. I can't see yet how the government jobs faired from last year, but we do see the White House is going to spin this. This is like the 22nd or 23rd month of private sector jobs growth. There will be government jobs closed for months and months. The government will continue losing jobs, but the private sector seems to be holding in here.
O'BRIEN: But in a way when you look at it that way, the private sector growth is probably stronger even than those numbers show. Christine, we'll thank you and continue to crunch those numbers. Christine also doing double duty because she has the rest of the headlines. She won't crunch those numbers until she's done updating you on the headlines. What do you have?
ROMANS: Following this breaking news out of Egypt, group of armed gunmen kidnapped two American female tourists and their Egyptian tour guide in the Sinai Peninsula. And protests this morning across Cairo following that deadly soccer riot that killed 79 people, thousands gathering in Tahrir Square. They're blaming inadequate security and calling for an end of military rule.
Meantime U.S. officials fear Iran is helping Al Qaeda. Officials say Iran has freed a group of high level Al Qaeda terrorists who have been under house arrest since 2003. Officials also fear Iran is giving material aid to Al Qaeda.
President Obama unveils a new jobs plan for veterans today. He says the veterans' job corps initiative will put vets to work. The plan will cost at least $5 billion. The administration will award $166 million in grant money to communities who hire post 9/11 vets. They'll give another $320 million grants to fire departments who hire grants. The president plans to ask for more, an additional $4 billion to expand the program.
And talking about the other big contest happening this weekend. GOP candidates getting ready for Saturday's kickoff of the Nevada caucuses. Will it be a blowout? Right now Mitt Romney enjoys a double digit lead in the polls. Rick Santorum has already left that state for Missouri. But recent gaffs could cut Romney's edge. And both Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are campaigning across Nevada today.
And to recap that jobs report, 243,000 jobs created, 8.3 percent the unemployment rate, stronger jobs creation in January than expected. Soledad?
O'BRIEN: I'm going to go out on a limb and say we're going to be hearing about that on the campaign trail this morning.
ROMANS: I think you're right.
O'BRIEN: I think I'm right, too. Christine, thank you.
The controversy is intensifying over the Susan G. Komen foundation pulling its funding for Planned Parenthood. There is an explanation. They say they have a new policy that doesn't allow financing for a company that is under investigation, and Congress is investigating whether Planned Parenthood used federal money to fund abortions. The critics say Komen is playing politics. The founder disagrees. This is Nancy Brinker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY BRINKER, FOUNDER AND CEO, SUSAN G. KOMEN FOR THE CURE: We will never bow to political pressure. We will always stand firm in our goal to end breast cancer forever. We will never turn our backs on the women who need us the most.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Cecile Richards is the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Nice to see you. Thanks for talking to us. Nancy Brinker has said several times in a couple of different interviews that this is not political. Do you think she's lying?
CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA: Well, I know that the Komen foundation, unfortunately, has been under a lot of political pressure from the far right to distance themselves and end the relationship with Planned Parenthood. Look, the important thing is the Komen foundation and Planned Parenthood, we share the same goal. We want women to have access to breast cancer screening and care. It's my sincere hope that we can put this behind us and that we can work with them and they'll reconsider their decision to end grants to Planned Parenthood clinics.
O'BRIEN: I see that you made that really sharp turn to say I hope we can work this out. Let's go back to the political part. Do you think this is political? If so, is there any way to bring both sides together if in fact you think there's political motivation going on in the blocking of the grants?
RICHARDS: I think that's up to the Komen foundation. I feel like what's important to me and what we're focused on at Planned Parenthood is the women we serve. We see more than 700,000 women each year for breast exams. That's what we're focused on is making sure that regardless of the decisions of the Komen foundation that there's not a woman in America who misses her breast cancer screening. And I really feel like we've had an outpouring of support from folks all across the country.
O'BRIEN: Like Mayor Bloomberg. He sent out a tweet and it said, we must continue to help women access lifesaving breast cancer screenings. Have you been able to recoup some of that money that you've lost?
RICHARDS: Yes. We were very thankful for his support. He hit it on the head. He said we can't put politics ahead of women's health care access. We've had -- we see one in five women in America have been to Planned Parenthood. I feel like in the last 28, 48 hours I've seen many of them.
O'BRIEN: Nothing like a crisis to feel like everyone's reaching out to you.
Part of the rationale is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation by lawmakers, and the policy they say, this is Komen foundation, says, listen we don't give money if someone is under investigation. Doesn't she have a point there?
RICHARDS: Well, I mean, there is a political investigation on the hill that's really has been politically motivated. And I don't think that's what this is about. I think others have reported there are many, many things under investigation that Komen funds.
I think the important thing, again, is we've had a great long standing relationship with the Komen Foundation. As of very recently they praised our work. I think unfortunately what you've seen happen to the Komen Foundation is the same far right groups that have been attacking Komen have been attacking Planned Parenthood, have been attacking now birth control access in America. And I think it's time we can't let bullies prevent women from getting health care access in America, whether it's breast cancer screening, family planning services, and the like. O'BRIEN: It's kind of sad that you have two women's groups that are the best known and very powerful and they're fighting. It's like cat fighting.
RICHARDS: We're not fighting. Soledad, I think your point is exactly right.
O'BRIEN: You're not fighting?
RICHARDS: No. I think, look --
O'BRIEN: Really? Come on.
RICHARDS: The Komen Foundation has been attacked by the right wing for working with Planned Parenthood. I think what we're seeing and what we've seen across the country is Komen employees, Planned Parenthood supporters standing up and saying, you know, we can't let politics get in the way of women's cancer screening. And I really do hope, seeing what's happening, that the Komen foundation will rethink its position and work again with us to do what we've got to do. We know early detection saves lives. That's what we should be focused on.
O'BRIEN: Richards is the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Thanks for talking with us this morning.
RICHARDS: Nice to see you, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Thank you. We'll be following how this goes because I think they actually are fighting with each other.
We've got to take a short break. Ahead on STARTING POINT, have you heard this story, a woman sues Honda. She takes them to small claims court.
WILL CAIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No.
O'BRIEN: No class action lawsuit for this lady. She goes to small claims court and she wins $10,000 because she says they are lying about the gas mileage for the Honda. We're going to tell you what happened straight ahead on STARTING POINT.
O'BRIEN: "Won't Get Fooled Again." This song is a request for our tape 18, Leslie Tucker. The Who. "Won't Get Fooled Again."
CAIN: It's good.
O'BRIEN: No I love it, are you kidding? "The Who" in the morning is actually a really good idea. I told you but we should just only play "The Who" on Monday.
CAIN: You essentially like audio coffee.
O'BRIEN: I do. Yes, I do. CAIN: Soledad.
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, EDITOR, THOMSON REUTERS DIGITAL: And a good lyric for journalists.
"Won't Get Fooled Again."
O'BRIEN: Well, I'm just concerned like Leslie, we should talk. What? What? What does that mean? Leslie, it's only been five weeks that we've been on the air.
All right, moving on.
A rare victory: this case is so strange. A California woman took the auto giant Honda to small claims court and then she won. It's because her hybrid Honda wasn't getting the 50 miles per gallon that she had been promised she had seen advertisement. Her name is Heather Peters. She's the Honda owner. And she is with us this morning.
Hey Heather, nice to see you. Good morning, so you've been seeing advertisements.
HEATHER PETERS, HONDA OWNER: Thanks for having me.
O'BRIEN: It's our pleasure -- you're seeing advertisements that said your Honda was supposed to be getting 50 miles for the gallon. What were you actually getting?
PETERS: Well, you know, average mileage may vary. I never got more than 41, 42 on my best day. But I wasn't going to sue over that.
O'BRIEN: So what did you sue over?
PETERS: The real problem -- the real problem was their batteries were dying. They were getting big warranty claims at $3,000 a pop and so they reprogrammed the software so that the car used the battery less, and that was like siphoning gas out of my tank.
And I got, you know, 28, 29 according to their own dashboard display. And that was -- you know, even that I was waiting for the class action to figure it out. And then I got a thing saying, oh, we'll give you $200 and a coupon towards your next Honda.
O'BRIEN: Oh you see this always happens, right. People don't make a good enough offer. And that makes people mad. So then Heather got mad and you decided to go to small claims court. Why not try to get in on or create a class action lawsuit?
PETERS: You know, life is too short. I just wanted to get them to treat me fairly. It was not a big deal to me. I thought they were just going to settle and move on, but they didn't. And it's not just me.
Don'tSettleWithHonda.org is my Web site. Hundreds and hundreds of Honda people have contacted me and said, they're doing the same thing to me. They're trying to make me think I'm crazy. We're not crazy. And the judge agreed. I mean, $10,000 is not insignificant.
O'BRIEN: So you won. And now does that pave the path for other people to say, well, I can take them to court too? What happens next?
PETERS: Absolutely. Don'tSettleWithHonda.org, there's a click there; you can go to all 50 states Web sites. You can do it yourself. You don't need a lawyer. And I'm going to have my evidence available to everyone. So they don't have to do all the leg work I did.
O'BRIEN: Are you a lawyer?
PETERS: Yes, I was ten years ago and never thought I would be in the courtroom again, but I just re-activated my law license because so many people have contacted me and --
O'BRIEN: What did you do with the $10,000?
PETERS: Oh I'm not going to get the $10,000 any time soon. They're appealing. And immediately they said they were appealing and I'm sure they're going to try and squash me like a bug but I have even better evidence now that the Internet has brought me a whistle-blower.
O'BRIEN: Oh, oh this is a lawyer again. A lawyer again. All right, Heather, thanks very much. I appreciate it.
Short break. We'll come on the other side. I'm going to tell you why I'm wearing red today. It's for a good cause.
Will Cain I know you're wondering, they're wondering all morning.
CAIN: Yes, exactly.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. And it is now time for today's "Reveal." I'm going to tell you the reason I am wearing red. In case you're wondering, in fact, the reason why most of the women who are on TV today are wearing red.
It was -- we were asked to, to raise awareness for something that kills one woman every minute in this country. Something that actually claims more female victims than all cancer combined, and that is heart disease. It is the number one killer of women.
So today is national wear red day. It's an effort to educate women about heart disease. Women are also more likely than men to have other signs of heart attacks, like shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, back and jaw pain. So the classic pain, the pain in the arm that men have, that's not what women have. So often it is missed in women.
So today is go red day. Join the cause. You can kick off the National Heart Month and take care of your heart.
BARATUNDE THURSTON, CO-FOUNDER, JACK AND JILL POLITICS: I will wear the CNN mug for the rest of the day in solidarity.
O'BRIEN: The sisterhood appreciates you.
THURSTON: Healthier hearts for women. I support that.
O'BRIEN: Yes, yes and we support your support, Baratunde.
THURSTON: Good. Good.
O'BRIEN: "End Point" with the panelists up next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC 360": Congratulations, how do you feel?
ROBIN LIM, CNN HERO OF THE YEAR 2012: Full of gratitude.
COOPER: Did you think you might had a chance for winning?
LIM: Of course not. We've helped so many people since 2005. Almost 113,000 people got free medical care and medicine.
COOPER: What does that feel like to start with one person and then slowly start to build the organization?
LIM: I found that if you have a good idea and you do it with love, a lot of people want to help you.
COOPER: It was a very personal loss that got you involved in this?
LIM: My sister died. She was pregnant. This was 21 years ago.
COOPER: What was your sister's name?
LIM: Her name is Christine. I feel like she really helps me.
COOPER: You carry her with you still?
LIM: Yes. And I think I carry her baby too.
COOPER: What kind of an impact do you think this will have?
LIM: The clinic we have in the tsunami zone, that one is really safe. But the clinic in Bali is falling apart. It's too small for our patient care.
COOPER: You're hoping to maybe rebuild the clinic? LIM: We've been saving money for years. We did get a piece of land right in our village so we're ready to build. Now we have money to begin.
COOPER: You have $250,000 plus $50,000, so you have $300,000.
LIM: Yes. That goes a long way in Indonesia.
COOPER: What keeps you going? I mean in those dark days when, you know, when you don't have money and when you don't support?
LIM: Some days I don't have money but I always have support. Just when you think, well, how are we going to pay the electric bill? There's always an e-mail that says, we're sending money. It's just a miracle every day, just like birth.
COOPER: Congratulations. I'm so happy for you and for the work you're going to do and the lives you're going to save. Thank you. Thank you.
LIM: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: In our last moments let's get right to our "End Point" from the panel. Baratunde, what have you got for me.
THURSTON: I want to talk about this Planned Parenthood situation with Komen. I think they have made a terrible mistake. I think they crafted a policy --
THURSTON: Komen has -- crafted a policy which specifically singled out only Planned Parenthood, a company, an organization that's been on the ropes for trying to provide health care access to women who don't have it geographically or financially.
Komen's the one in the wrong here. They made a gun that was pink but all of a sudden they have an issue with an organization that screens 700,000 women for breast care exams? That's inconsistent and it's wrong.
O'BRIEN: You're for Planned Parenthood, this one?
What do you have for "End Point"?
THURSTON: I'm very much for Planned Parenthood. I'm for women's health.
FREELAND: Ok. I'm with Baratunde there. Well done. The poor. The thing that your great Romney interview reminded me about is the Democrats aren't talking about the poor very much either.
O'BRIEN: Nobody likes talking about the poor.
FREELAND: And what I would really like to see is Barack Obama should respond to this by giving a big speech about why we need as a society to care about the poor and he as President is going to do something for them.
O'BRIEN: That's never going to happen would be my guess, truly. I just think it's a political morass. Will Cain.
CAIN: I disagree with you two on Planned Parenthood but that's not going to be my "End Point." My "End Point" is I keep asking why doesn't Romney have trouble with money?
CAIN: I think the answer can go back to 1968. A foundational moment in his life, his dad was running for president and he said I've been to Vietnam and I feel like I've been brainwashed by this war. It ended his run. One line -- he's so scared of his one line.
O'BRIEN: That's an interesting point. I want to thank our panel. Baratunde, I'm reading your book, "How to Be Black"; very helpful.
THURSTON: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: As a biracial woman I really feel like I'm getting good knowledge from this.
THURSTON: Really appreciate.
O'BRIEN: "CNN NEWSROOM" with Fredricka Whitfield begins right now.
I'll see you back here on Monday morning. Everybody have a great weekend. Hey Fred, good morning.