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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Super Giants!; Halftime "Salute"; U.S. Looks To Rally "Friends of Syria"; Syrian Forces Clash With Opposition; Komen Reversal on Planned Parenthood; Detroit Automakers Come Back; Obama: "I Deserve a Second Term"; Testing Viewer Response to Super Bowl Ads

Aired February 6, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are giving you the news from A to Z. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east. So let's get started here.

It is a super celebration for the New York Giants and their fans. The Giants beat the Patriots, 21-17. The nail biter Super Bowl XLVI, their second Super Bowl victory over New England in four years.

BANFIELD: President Obama speaking just before the Super Bowl in a sit-down, the annual sit-down, saying to Matt Lauer of NBC, I deserve four more years in office, as the economy is headed in the right direction. And says, you know what? Let's not stop the progress.

SAMBOLIN: Syrian security forces shelling the city of Homs again. Activists say at least 30 people were killed today.

BANFIELD: Also, the nation's leading breast cancer research organization, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, reversing that decision to end the grant that it gives to Planned Parenthood for the breast exams.

But you know what? That did not end this conversation and it did not end this controversy. We will let you know what's up now.

We begin, however, with what they like to say, deja blue, the New York Giants beating the New England Patriots, 21-17, Super Bowl XLVI.

SAMBOLIN: The Giant's quarterback Eli Manning there named to be MVP. You know, they're going to have a ticker tape parade here in New York City on Tuesday.

Mark McKay is live in Indianapolis. You were there with that nail-biter. How was it?

MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, Zoraida, I tell you what, these two teams, they have a knack for getting together, giving us fantastic games, whether it's in the regular season or in the grand stage of the Super Bowl.

They've done it again. Last night here at Lucas Oil Stadium, seemed that all the momentum was in the favor of the Giants in the first half. Toward the end of the first half toward the second half it went to Tom Brady and the Patriots' way.

But in the end, it was Eli Manning leading his team back to victory, second time in four years. The Giants are Super Bowl champions. Patriot fans feeling blue. Eli Manning on top of the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELI MANNING, SUPER BOWL MVP: This isn't about one person. This is about a whole team coming together, getting this win. So I'm just proud of our guys, proud of the team, the way we fought all year. Never got discouraged. Kept our faith, kept our confidence and fought to the very end.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKAY: What a fight it was for the Giants all season long, just getting into the playoffs. They beat New England back in November, lost four in a row, came back.

What a roller coaster ride it was for the Giants this season, guys. But they're on the top of that roller coaster this morning, aren't they?

SAMBOLIN: Well, here we have Mr. Eli Manning, toast of the town here.

BANFIELD: "New York Post" and "Daily News," big surprise.

SAMBOLIN: You know, I was saying that he was kind of low key. I wanted to see a little bit more excitement coming from him. Folks here in New York, Mark, say, if this wins us Super Bowls, we're good with it.

BANFIELD: You in the cover of the "Times."

SAMBOLIN: How about the halftime show? You were there. What did you think? Did you give her a thumbs up or thumbs down to Madonna? She's getting mixed reviews this morning?

MCKAY: Well, I tell you what. If you were inside, it was an incredible show just because of the lights and dancing and the music. She's touching on old, new. You want be one of the 68,000 inside Lucas Oil Stadium and you really had a good time.

The crowd was really into it. They each had a tiny flashlight that lit up during "Like A Prayer" and everybody was into it. So if you're inside Lucas Oil Stadium, you enjoyed the show, you know, let the reviewers say what they want to say outside. Those are inside had a great time.

SAMBOLIN: You had a good time. Well, thank you so much. We appreciate that report.

BANFIELD: I want to get you to some breaking news now. There's absolutely no end to the bloodshed in Syria this morning. We have live pictures now in Syria. The violent crackdown continuing overnight in that beleaguered city of Homs.

There's been heavy shelling reported, shelling, not just armed fires, not just snipers, now all out shelling. The opposition says at least 30 people have been killed.

The United States calling on, quote, friends of Syria to unite and do what the United Nations didn't or couldn't do that is isolate and remove Syrian President Al-Assad with some kind of a U.N. resolution.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying she's just outraged by all of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: What happened yesterday at the United Nations was a travesty. Those countries that refused to support the Arab league plan bear full responsibility for protecting the brutal regime in Damascus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Travesty she's saying because essentially China and Russia vetoed the whole idea of the resolution from the United Nations. So live from Providence, Rhode Island, this morning is Ambassador Nicholas Burns.

He's the former U.S. ambassador to NATO and the former undersecretary for Political Affairs. Ambassador, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

First question to you, what now? Is it up to the Arab League? Is it up to, as Mrs. Clinton says, the neighbors to somehow exert some pressure on Assad to stop this and perhaps step down?

AMBASSADOR NICHOLAS BURNS, SERVED AS U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, Secretary of State Clinton is right to call this a travesty. This is the worst violence we've seen in the Arab world since the Arab revolutions, the Arab spring began over a year ago.

The Assad government has literally gone to war against its own people and I think the U.S. now is going to have to work outside the Security Council because of the cynical --

BANFIELD: How, what do you mean by that? What do you mean outside? What does that mean exactly?

BURNS: And to work with Turkey and to work with Arab countries that are opposed to what the Syrian regime is doing to try to isolate that government further, perhaps some new sanctions.

It would have been far preferable to work with the Security Council, but Russia and China have shown that they are not capable of joining anyone else in rejecting this violence and providing any kind of responsible actions themselves.

So I think the cynicism of the Russians and Chinese is really quite striking here.

BANFIELD: Well, although -- I think if you look back, and I know you know your history, you worked it and lived it, this happens all the time in China and Russia. They veto a lot of things.

So I'm not sure that too many people were surprised, even despite the level of violence in Syria. And then to that end, what really would this resolution have done anyway? It was kind of toothless and resolutions seem to have very little effect anyway in this part of the world.

BURNS: Well, Russia and China deserve the criticism because they appear to stand for nothing, but their own self interest in the world. This resolution actually expresses the will of the entire Arab League.

The Arab League represents the Arab world and has the support of Europe. It had the support of Asian countries. It was 13 countries voting against two countries. So it did reflect the will of the international community.

It would have provided for a national unity government. It would have provided for Assad's resignation. So it would have been a step forward a way to respond to this extraordinary and brutal violence of the Syrian government inflicting on its own people.

Now, I think the action will go towards Turkey because Turkey is harboring the incipient rebel army. It will force the Arab countries to go outside the Security Council and I think we're going to see unfortunately more violence, more bloodshed because of this action over the weekend by the Russians and Chinese.

BANFIELD: Ambassador, I'm still curious though when you say forcing us, forcing the other Arab nation, forcing the other Arab league to, go quote, "outside the Security Council," do you mean with further sanctions or do you mean with military force?

BURNS: I think the United States will avoid quite rightly any kind of U.S. military intervention. We will not see that. We will see Turkey and the other Arab countries decide they have to both increase their support to the opposition in Syria and try to find ways to enact further sanctions to isolate the Assad regime. He is a pariah, President Assad, and he is now responsible for the worst human rights violation seen anywhere in the world this year.

BANFIELD: He's a pariah except for in places like Iran and Iraq and Lebanon. We all know why Lebanon. But I suppose the question is really, this and I'll make it quick. I've met Bashar Al-Assad. I sat in a room with him, seems quite nice, but can we really negotiate with this man or does this have to be a heavy-handed response?

BURNS: I don't anyone believes we can negotiate with him any longer after a year of violence by the Syrian government. You have right now, you know, at least, the elements of a civil war forming, unfortunately.

So I think Syria is going to descend into further chaos. The United States has done what it can do. I think as Secretary Clinton is right to say the Arab world now needs to really think about what it can do to weaken the Assad regime further.

But we simply can't sit by and not criticize this government. He deserves all the criticism he's getting.

BANFIELD: Ambassador Burns, thank you. Appreciate your perspective on it this morning.

BURNS: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: It's 9 minutes past the hour. Ahead on EARLY START, two dead, dozens injured in a three-story building collapse in Pakistan. Rescue workers are scrambling to save over 30 people trapped underneath all of that.

BANFIELD: And also, a virus outbreak on a cruise. I know you've heard it before. This time it's 200 passengers sick. How does this happen and why does it keep happening so many times?

SAMBOLIN: And the cancer charity, Susan G. Komen still dealing with a lot of fallout after reversing its decision to defund Planned Parenthood. Who are Komen staffers blaming for the decision now? You're going to find out straight ahead.

BANFIELD: First, though, a quick check on our travel weather forecast. The man to do it, Mr. Rob Marciano.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. Mild day yesterday in Atlanta. I know you will celebrate it next year. Take a look at this picture of the parade route down Peachtree for National Weatherman's day. How the crowd was building around 2:00 p.m.

It was an insane scene. One person showed up. Yes, of course it wasn't a parade, but it was 70 degrees in Atlanta. If that wasn't cookie enough, the National Hurricane Center is watching this item, might develop into something, but regardless of that, it doesn't look too impressive this morning.

Some rain across parts of South Florida. Elsewhere, it's pretty quiet today. Mild temperatures continue, but some wind in New York and Boston and some fog in Chicago and Minneapolis and St. Louis if you are traveling to those cities.

Elsewhere, we continue our very mild winter, 40s in Chicago and lower 50s in New York. That's a quick check of weather. EARLY START is coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Yes. This is the story that doesn't seem to want to go away.

We've got some new details this morning about that very public fight between Susan G. Komen's Foundation for the Cure and Planned Parenthood, nation's leading Breast Cancer Research Organization. If you will remember, last week reverse that controversial decision to end its money grants to Planned Parenthood.

SAMBOLIN: So today, the Huffington Post says it saw -- saw e- mails approved Komen's Vice President for Public Policy Karen Handel, there's a picture of her, was behind that decision. Several online petitions are calling for Handel's removal now. And one on the website, CREDO Action, has more than 25,000 signatures.

This is how the petition reads. Quote, "Komen may have apologized but they still need to clean house, starting with the person who drove this atrocious decision. If Komen wishes to rehabilitate its devastated reputation, and gain back trust, Handel needs to be fired."

Laura Bassett, political reporter from the Huffington Post spoke to the source and she is joining us now. Thank you for being with this morning.

LAURA BASSETT, POLITICAL REPORTER, HUFFINGTON POST: Thanks for having me.

SAMBOLIN: There's a lot of speculation about this. A lot of politics are involved here. We want to know who the source is. And how do you know this person does not necessarily have an ax to grind with this particular person?

BASSETT: The reason I know that is because I actually saw some e-mails between the leadership that happened on the day that the Planned Parenthood decision was announced. So I have proof that the person was telling the truth.

There's no ax to grind. Unfortunately this is a case of Komen lying to the public about their intentions and people are furious about it.

SAMBOLIN: And you saw these e-mails. We have not been able to see them. What specifically does it say? What is so damning?

BASSETT: Basically it just shows that Karen Handel, who was recently hired as the Vice President of Public Affairs for Komen, is handling and driving the decision behind defunding Planned Parenthood and also driving the PR effort to sort of clean up what happened and to pretend like it wasn't about politics.

The e-mails show that despite the fact that everyone at Komen is claiming that -- that Karen Handel had nothing to do with it. In fact, she had everything to do with it and she was the sole creator of the strategy.

SAMBOLIN: Now, Susan G. Komen has a board. It seems really unusual that one person could make a decision like this that -- that could affect this organization so much. Was the board in support of the organization -- of the decision?

BASSETT: The board did have to sign off on the decision. And I spoke with one member of the board on Friday who said that he takes full blame for the board signing off on it and Karen, while she -- while she wrote the criteria, she did have to pass it through leadership and then through the board.

So this was, you know, this was a combined effort to get this passed, but she was the one who wrote the rules in the first place.

SAMBOLIN: Do you think Karen Handel is going to lose her job over this?

BASSETT: I do. I think there's a lot of internal pressure as well as external pressure for her to resign. If she doesn't resign I have a feeling that she'll be forcibly ousted. It doesn't seem like anybody is a big fan of her right now.

SAMBOLIN: You know, I saw a piece online, I believe it was an Op-Ed piece, that was saying that now the Susan G. Komen Foundation is going to be looked at with more scrutiny, right? And one of the examples that was given was Komen gave $7.5 million to Penn State's Medical Center and, you know, one of the reasons why Planned Parenthood lost their funding was because no organization that was under federal investigation could actually receive any funds.

So do you think that Susan G. Komen is going to be under more scrutiny now or do you think that if this woman gets fired that this will -- this will make folks happy with that decision?

BASSETT: This is not going to blow over any time soon, even if Karen Handel leaves. I think what people are most upset about, aside from the actual defunding of Planned Parenthood, they're upset about being lied to. And they were lied to multiple times last week by Komen's PR Department unfortunately and by Nancy Brinker, herself, went on "Andrea Mitchell" Friday and bold-faced lie.

So I think that they're going to have to operate with more transparency going forward and they're going to have to apologize to the public for not being straightforward.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Laura Bassett, Political Reporter for the Huffington Post. Thank you for joining us.

And I just wanted to mention that we did call the Komen Foundation for a response. They have not returned our phone calls.

It is 16 minutes past the hour. It's time to check the stories that are making news this morning.

The New York Giants came from behind in the last minute in a nail biter to beat the New England patriots, 21 to 17. That was the Super Bowl XLVI. The Ticker Tape Parade is scheduled for tomorrow for the Giants here in New York City's Canyon of Heroes.

Explosion levels a factory building in Lahore, Pakistan. At least two people were killed, 13 others rescued. While you're looking at those pictures there, dozens of people may still be trapped inside.

BANFIELD: The State Department says it is deeply concerned about Egypt's plan to put 19 Americans on trial, including the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Military leadership in that country is cracking down on non-profit organizations and actually accusing those NGOs of helping stir up the political unrest in Egypt.

And also, former Panamanian Dictator Manual Noriega, remember that name? He's been hospitalized apparently after suffering a stroke. Seventy-seven years old. He's been transferred from his prison cell in Panama City where he's serving time for crimes committed during his rule. That man has been in a prison cell for decades in a couple of countries now because of his crimes.

SAMBOLIN: And ahead on EARLY START, President Obama says the economy is recovering and that he actually deserves a second term. We're going to let our panelists weigh in on that.

BANFIELD: And General Motors' remarkable turn around. Bailout to billions and it only took three years. So now GM is setting its sites even higher. How high and why?

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: The Eagles. Oh, Don Henley. I don't know why I've always had such a crush on him, but --

SAMBOLIN: News, news, news.

BANFIELD: Yes, I know, but -- the news -- sorry.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: We're dating ourselves when we love The Eagles.

BANFIELD: Yes. That's really embarrassing. "Hotel California" is also one of the best albums ever.

SAMBOLIN: Ashleigh, news.

BANFIELD: OK. The big three automakers, life in the fast lane, in Detroit making a big comeback, from car sales, earnings, to last night's Super Bowl ads.

Christine Romans is here with us to sort of bring the business angle. SAMBOLIN: Oh, we're talking about Wall Street and bailouts, right? They're reporting that General Motors wants to make $10 billion a year but what about the $50 billion in the bailout?

BANFIELD: I know.

SAMBOLIN: That was a good question this morning. How much do they get?

ROMANS: I know. They got $49.9 billion. I mean, look, GM was going to go down the tubes, right? The government made a decision to step in and funnel tens of billions of dollars to this company, so that it wouldn't go out of business. So that the auto workers who work there, all the companies that supply Detroit, wouldn't go out of business.

And now, you've got front page of the "Wall Street Journal," a story about how GM is targeting $10 billion in profit. That was almost unthinkable three years ago when this was a company on its heels (INAUDIBLE) ushered through bankruptcy. Took a bunch of our money and now has come out the other side.

I'm going to tell you something, some people are outraged by this. Others are saying this shows this shows that the bailout worked. Now, one of the things that's interesting, too.

SAMBOLIN: So many didn't, right? So then this --

ROMANS: Right.

SAMBOLIN: Actually we see --

ROMANS: Well, I mean, we caught -- bailouts being bailout. I mean, it will cost us a lot of money.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

ROMANS: I mean, in the end, the American taxpayer, we gave them money so they could turn around and make $10 billion a year. But this company is hiring -- hiring 13,000 workers. It's re-opening a plant in Tennessee. And all of the automakers quite frankly are pretty resurgent.

Ford -- one thing about GM is it doesn't have to pay taxes for years as part of its bailout, which is something that I mean, I think if you were Ford which didn't take a bailout, you would be like, hmmm.

And another thing about --

BANFIELD: Gee, you know what? The head of Ford should not run for president because that's going to come back to bite him.

Hey, why should the average guy out there if he's feeling really angry about that, why should he maybe not feel so angry about that?

ROMANS: Well, I mean, this was -- whether you believe in bailouts or not, they happened. And would you be more angry if you bailed them out and they failed and then there was all the money down the tube?

BANFIELD: Yes.

ROMANS: Or would you be less angry if you bail them out and they were actually turning a profit and looking at the good old days of the '60s and '95 when they're making $10 billion.

I want to quickly, though, show you -- and I know they're telling me to wrap but I want to show you if we can the Silverado ad just this -- this whole Ford, GM spat from last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They didn't drive the longest lasting, most defendable truck on the road. They drove a Ford.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Ford didn't want

SAMBOLIN: Chevy post apocalypse, we should say.

ROMANS: Yes. Ford didn't want Chevy to do that, but they did anyway. And that just show you kind of a resurgence, a funky, a feisty -- a feisty Detroit.

You know, of course, I mean, I don't think we have time to run it but that Clint Eastwood --

BANFIELD: I loved it.

ROMANS: Chrysler, they say, no, we don't.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't have time to run it.

ROMANS: That -- that was -- to me, that shows a resurgence in Detroit. I mean, that shows, you know, the auto industry, American halftime, you know, don't count us out. That was pretty cool.

BANFIELD: Let me tell you when that commercial was airing, I literally was standing in front of my television like this, holding my heart.

ROMANS: I know.

BANFIELD: It was --

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: -- that you want to hear, right?

ROMANS: I mean, you want to be -- yes, thank you. SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

BANFIELD: Thanks, Christine. Thanks.

Still ahead on EARLY START, does Obama deserve another term? He says he does. What do you think and what does our political panel think?

SAMBOLIN: And we have best and worst Super Bowl ads. Listen to this, folks. There is a scientific way to measure facial coding. We have the geeky person here to tell us all about it.

You are watching EARLY START.

BANFIELD: And geek a good.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, this is a very good geek, yes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: It is 30 minutes past the hour. Time to check the stories making news this morning.

Syrian forces continuing their shelling of the city of Homs. The violence coming on the heels of Russia and China rejecting a U.N. resolution to isolate and oust President Bashar al-Assad.

An appeal hearing in Florence, Italy, this morning will determine whether the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship will remain under house arrest, be jailed, or go free. The decision is expected later this week.

Two Ft. Lauderdale-based Princess Cruise ships are now cleaned and they are returning to sea after nearly 500 cases of norovirus were reported. The CDC is still trying to determine the source.

BANFIELD: President Obama sounding pretty darn confident pre-Super Bowl and it had nothing to do with football.

SAMBOLIN: He deserves a second term.

BANFIELD: Saying he deserves. Yes. I mean, those are the words he used. This is that annual interview he does before the big game. He gave it to Matt Lauer of the "Today" show and basically said the economy is doing well, the jobs report just out on Friday, so says he wants to finish what he started.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I deserve a second term but we're not done. We created 3.7 million jobs over the last 23 months. We've created the most jobs since 2005, the most manufacturing jobs since 1990. But we're not finished.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: But we're not finished, he says.

And live from Washington, our Democratic strategist Jamie Harrison joins us, as well as CNN's political editor Paul Steinhauser. And then, from Chicago, conservative commentator Lenny McAllister.

Let me start with what you knew there was going to be response fast and furious right away to that "I deserve" comment. So, let's start with Mitt Romney and how he responded to that. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MTIT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not so fast, Mr. President. This is the 36th straight month with unemployment above the red line your own administration drew. And if you take into account all the people who are struggling for work or just stopped looking, the real unemployment rate is over 15 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: You know what's amazing is that Mitt Romney actually said that before the president's comments actually came out on Super Bowl Sunday.

But you can bet your bottom dollar that this is kind of where the stump is going to go.

Lenny, you know, everybody thought the numbers sounded so good on Friday, and then came the reality check. So where will the reality checks be in terms of how the Republicans see it?

LENNY MCALLISTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Well, the reality checks start with this, 63.7 percent. That's the lowest percentage of participation the American job market in 30 years. That includes the height of the recession.

So how can we celebrate the unemployment rate going down when participation has gone down as well? To me, that means people are falling out of the job market once again. Same thing with the African-American unemployment rate going down from 15 percent to 13 percent in one month.

When you have participation going down, that doesn't mean that people are getting back to work. That means a people are giving up hope. And when you put those numbers together and the CBO coming out and saying that unemployment is going to rise over the next 12 months, possibly going back over 9 percent, this doesn't look good at all for the president regardless of how we try to spin it to Matt Lauer yesterday.

BANFIELD: Although I just assumed there would be talk of lagging indicators as well. But who knows? I'm not the one strategizing these campaigns.

Let me turn to the Super Bowl because 'tis the season. Christine Romans brought up this great ad with Clint Eastwood that just sounded so American and so patriotic that talked about the economy. For a minute there I thought it was a political ad until I learned it wasn't.

Let's have a look at it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: It's halftime in America, too. People are out of work and they're hurting. They're all wondering what they're going to do to make a comeback. And we're all scared because this isn't a game.

The people of Detroit know a little something about this. They almost lost everything. But we all pulled together. Now, Motor City is fighting again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: You know, I love Clint Eastwood for so many reasons. And now, I just love him all over again for that ad. Then I was left scratching my head.

Jamie, I want you to weigh in on this one. At first, I thought it sounded like an ad for the Democrats. And then I started to think, oh, no, no, no, this is something the Republicans can seize on.

And then I started to wonder, what affiliation is Clint Eastwood? And I had to look it up. And there's a reason I had to look it up because he's been all over the map. He supported John McCain. He supported Gray Davis in California.

Do you think there was a deeper message here or am I just reading in to things?

JAMIE HARRISON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, I think the message is that America's back, that manufacturing in the country is improving and, you know, the heartbeat of America is back. And so I think that's the under-riding message in all of it. And I think that's the message that President Obama and the Democrats will be echoing all this fall.

BANFIELD: I love how you say America is back, glass half full if you're answering a question like that. But I'm sure if I asked Lenny, he would say the glass is half empty.

By the way, Paul Steinhauser, I want you to jump in on this. I saw some stats out in the "Washington Post" and ABC have a new poll out on a national head-to-head matching between Romney and Obama, and Newt and Obama. And it's kind of surprising. The numbers show that Obama would win over Mitt Romney 52-45. Over Gingrich, he'd win 54- 43.

But you have other numbers that are more telling. Why?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, take a look at that poll and you break it down just among independent voters, not Democrats, not Republicans. You know, the indies who are the ones who usually, you know, sway elections.

Look at this. And what a change. The president and Mitt Romney right now basically all dead even among independents. But look three weeks ago, Romney's lead among independent voters has disappeared.

I guess two things here. One maybe the negative campaign on the Republican side. It has gotten a little uglier and that maybe turning off independents. The other thing, the economy as well. This poll is conducted half before and half after those unemployment numbers came out on Friday.

But, you know, the unemployment rate coming down a little bit and a little bit each month seems to be helping President Obama.

One other number from that poll that you play that sound of the president saying he deserves another term -- well, the poll asks that: does President Barack Obama deserve to be reelected and have another term in the White House? And it was dead even, 49 yes, 49 no -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Whoa. So, it's going to be a nail biter.

All right. Jamie, Paul, Lenny, thanks so much, guys.

MCALLISTER: Thanks.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-seven minutes past the hour.

Still ahead on EARLY START: A different look at Super Bowl ads. How do people respond emotionally to them? We're going to find out.

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START.

The Super Bowl is not only the year's biggest sporting event, or it is also the biggest advertising event. Three-point-five million dollars spent for 30 seconds. Advertisers went all out to connect with viewers.

How did they do?

Our next guest tested emotional response of dozen of students, using a technique called facial coding.

Dan Hill is the president of Sensory Logic and he is joining us from Indianapolis.

We've been excited about this interview all morning long because we want to know how this works. So, we know that you had college students that you tested. They watched six Super Bowl commercials on Sunday night, three car ads, three dotcom ads.

This facial coding technique, could you explain how it works?

DAN HILL, PRESIDENT, SENSORY LOGIC: Sure.

Facial coding originated with Charles Darwin, the first scientist to take emotions seriously. Darwin realized that in your face, you best reflect and communicate your emotions. That's universal, that's hard wired into the brain. And because the face is the only place in the body with a muscles attached right to the skin.

So, in this test, we programmed the computers so that we're remotely capturing the students' facial expressions as they see the commercials and then the miracles of technology, the video file stream automatically back to our server so we can capture and quantify the emotional response of the students to these $3.5 million ads.

SAMBOLIN: How cool and geeky is that? Why college students and maybe somebody like me, a mom who spends a lot of money?

HILL: We thought this was the target audience they're trying to get the brand loyalty to going forward over the years. It's very common for advertisers to focus on this demographic. So, we took students both at Emerson College in Boston and the University of Northern Kentucky.

So we had some geographical diversity as well.

SAMBOLIN: OK. So you said Chevy's happy grad did the best. We're going to watch it and then you'll explain it to me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm blindfold, mom, really? Is this necessary?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy graduation, sweetie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah! Ah! Whoa! I can't believe you got me this car!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: I watched it this morning. I bet if I was one with the facial recognition, you would have really liked the results. Why did this one do so well?

HILL: First of all, it engaged the students. If your emotions turn on, it's fabulous for advertisers because emotion and motivation have the same root word in Latin, to move, to make something happen. You want to drive purchase behavior so you've got to get them emotionally engaged. It did that fabulously.

The other thing it did was deliver top-level happiness. When you're really happy, the muscle around the eye relaxes, that's why you get the twinkle in the eye, the lower eyebrow kind of lowers a little bit. It delivered a lot of top-level happiness. So, it's a fabulous ad. And that's important because most advertising is not so effective.

The old joke half my advertising dollars wasted but I don't know which half, we have found in the same careful study, found like 10 percent of advertising really effective.

SAMBOLIN: Listen, you got me twinkling.

HILL: My average grade in this is C plus.

SAMBOLIN: You got me twinkling. I want to get through this. I want to get through a lot of them.

HILL: Sure.

SAMBOLIN: So the next one that we have is an Audi run, or an ad, it's called vampire party. Let's take a look.

HILL: Exactly. OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There he is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Party's arrived.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: You said attention grabbing but that it wasn't necessarily positive. Can you explain that?

HILL: Yes, it did not bring it home. It was engaging, absolutely. But about two-thirds of emotions for this commercial were negative.

The students were often puzzled. Their eyebrows knit together and there was a fair amount of contempt as well, like these are my friends and you're blowing them up? It just didn't make sense to the students. They didn't come home with it.

SAMBOLIN: OK. So dotcom ads. Godaddy.com did not fare well at all. Why is that?

HILL: Well, TV is a visual media. What do they do in the first Go Daddy ad? They're writing on the woman's body. So, that turned some people off certainly, but it just wasn't compelling TV viewing.

And so, people hardly emotive at all for this commercial.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I wasn't crazy about that.

OK. Cars.com did much better. We're going to listen a bit and you can tell me why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Hey baby I want that car, hey baby I really want that car --

That's my confidence. It's been coming out on me ever since I won on cars.com.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: I thought it was creepy. How about the students? How did they feel about it?

HILL: It was a bit creepy. I can't say that it won them over emotionally like the Camaro ad did but it did engage them. I think the reason for that is now you have two heads and you have two faces. The part of the brain that reads faces is eight times more sensitive than the part of the brain that reads objects. We're always looking at faces to understand how other people feel. So, to that extent, it worked.

But overall, no, it also didn't bring it home successfully.

SAMBOLIN: Now, I would have had puzzled expression on my face. As you see, you know, that other head coming from behind, the back shot was really, really kind of weird.

I got to ask you this because I put this out on Facebook. My first reaction was, this is your job?

Somebody on Facebook also wants to know, this is your job? This is what you do for a living?

HILL: It is absolutely. We do it for blue chip clients week in, week out. And the truth is that focus groups and traditional ad copy doesn't really cut it.

As I was saying earlier, most advertising is not as effective as it could be. The key here is not just to be on-message, it's to be on-emotion, to create the right emotion at the right time.

We need to move from talking points to feeling points. As Mick Jagger said, I don't need more useless information, I want satisfaction. And satisfaction is emotional.

SAMBOLIN: Well said here. Dan Hill, president of Sensory Logic, thank you for joining us.

HILL: Absolutely.

BANFIELD: I love the vampire ad.

SAMBOLIN: I thought it was so creepy.

BANFIELD: Did you really?

SAMBOLIN: Totally, yes.

BANFIELD: The last part when we walked in front of his own headlights and goes poof.

SAMBOLIN: The blowing up.

BANFIELD: Maybe I'm crazy. I loved it.

Soledad O'Brien is now here with a -- first of all, I know this is a tease but look ahead. But were you watching all these ads?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, HOST, "STARTING POINT": I was. And you know what? I don't like the vampire one at all, but I like the one with the guy's head saying hey --

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: I thought that was creepy.

SAMBOLIN: Did you see it from behind though? It's kind of weird coming out of his body.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it's cool. I like it. I like it.

And you know what? Cars.com, it stuck. I like that.

BANFIELD: That was what was most important.

O'BRIEN: But that's not what we're talking about this morning. First, we're going to talk about Syria, the U.N. Security Council resolution has failed and that's because Russia and China have vetoed it. We're going to talk this morning to the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, about what the next steps could be.

Also this morning, President Obama says he deserves four more years. We will chat with the Republican legislator who represents the great state of Texas, of course, about whether he thinks that's true.

And we'll talk to Steve Perry. He'll join us to talk about education in the wake of Claremont McKenna College pretty much making up their SAT scores. We'll discuss exactly how wide spread that is and what it all means.

That's ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, which begins in just 12 minutes.

EARLY START is back right after this short break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Oh that beautiful New York skyline. And if you look at the Empire State Building, you can see visions of blue. Ah, for propinquity the Giants that this city has and this Empire State Building has. Congratulations, Giants.

My kids are dying over this because at 4 and 6 years old when they barely know how to speak, they're Patriots fans.

SAMBOLIN: How is that?

BANFIELD: You know, we lived in Connecticut. I think they're only Patriot fans because they have friends in first grade and preschool classes who are fans. I don't think they know anything else about football, though.

SAMBOLIN: All right. I like to se that all lit up in blue. That was very nice.

BANFIELD: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: Fifty-two minutes past the hour. Time to check the stories making news this morning.

Authorities in Washington state say Josh Powell, a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife two years ago, blew up his home yesterday, killing himself and his beautiful two young sons. Memorial vigils are scheduled today at elementary schools for those two boys.

U.S. officials are deeply concerned that 19 Americans could face criminal trial in Egypt as part of the crackdown on the foreign financing of non-profit groups.

And insiders at Susan G. Komen blame the cancer charity's vice president, Karen Handel, for the decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood. Komen has since reversed that decision after facing a backlash.

BANFIELD: Animal rights group PETA is challenging Sea World in federal court today. PETA is claiming five whales are being held in slavery. And wait until you hear how they're challenging. They say this is a violation of the 13th Amendment regarding slavery -- very unusual challenge.

Also in the news, a 69-year-old grandmother in New York is releasing a tell-all book claiming she had a lengthy sexual affair with President John F. Kennedy. All of this back when she was just a 19-year-old White House intern. And the details are disgusting.

Virginia legislature is considering a so-called Tim Tebow bill that would permit home-schooled students to play sports at local high schools, like Tim Tebow was allowed to do in Florida.

And still ahead, did you se it? Madonna's half -- were you awake for that?

SAMBOLIN: I was not awake for that but I did watch it this morning.

BANFIELD: She watches everything on TiVo in the morning.

SAMBOLIN: I do.

BANFIELD: But look at --

SAMBOLIN: Or YouTube.

BANFIELD: I mean, say what you want about Madonna, but this production, it was incredible. Just incredible.

However, there was one little thing that you might not have scene because the cameras didn't catch it, that is the video cameras. But we have the still shot of what might be the malfunction of, say, an appendage.

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Welcome back to EARLY START.

The good news, it was not a wardrobe malfunction. But the bad news, rapper M.I.A. on stage last night with Madonna off video cam but on still cam happened to just flip someone the bird, or as she likes to call it, flip them the G-6, that went out to the worldwide audience.

Hello. Who is that directed to?

SAMBOLIN: I don't know. But NBC and the NFL apologized, calling the gesture inappropriate and disappointing.

This is a family affair, friends. Madonna's halftime show generated 8,000 tweets a second.

BANFIELD: You know -- well, you don't know but you assume that M.I.A. was trying to get some buzz about who M.I.A. is, because when it's Madonna on stage, it's a little hard to get some attention.

SAMBOLIN: Well, she got a lot of attention.

BANFIELD: She's getting it now. I wonder how many of those tweets were about her.

SAMBOLIN: I don't know, 8,000.

BANFIELD: Should we take that upon ourselves after the show just to do some counting?

SAMBOLIN: Sure.

BANFIELD: Forget about it.

That is EARLY START.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: -- for us this morning.

BANFIELD: She's hating me right now for this.

I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

"STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien is right here.

O'BRIEN: Right here. Right now. Good morning.

BANFIELD: We will report those numbers back to you in a moment.

O'BRIEN: You let me know when we're ready for them. We'll stop down the show and go back to EARLY START and then we'll come back to "STARTING POINT". It's totally cool. We're flexible that way.

SAMBOLIN: OK. Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Good morning, ladies. Thank you.