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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Big Help For Homeowners; Will The Pardons Stand?; Miramonte School In L.A. Reopens Today; CPAC Conference Begins In Washington; Powell 911 Dispatcher Investigation; Slaughter Continues In Syria; Breaking His Silence; Prosecutors Want Sandusky Confined Indoors; Conservatives Gather for CPAC; Book Alleges Kennedy Affair

Aired February 9, 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: We're very happy you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are bringing you the news from A to Z. It's 6 a.m. in the east so let's get started here.

BANFIELD: Let's start with a good one, shall we?

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BANFIELD: A $25 billion good one, if you're under water on your mortgage, have we got a deal for you because there's a big pot of money that you just might get a part of, but there are qualifications, we'll let you know what it is.

SAMBOLIN: And it is a high stakes pardon showdown. Could we learn in a few hours, we could learn if most of those prisoners released in Mississippi by outgoing Governor Haley Barbour will have to go back to prison, among them, four convicted murders.

BANFIELD: And a CNN exclusive, Tyler Clementi's brother is speaking out publicly this morning. You'll remember that Tyler jumped to his death after his roommate allegedly outed him as being gay at Rutgers University. You will hear from him about that suicide.

SAMBOLIN: And Jerry Sandusky's neighbors fearing for their children's safety. They are accusing him of watching their children from his porch. We're going to talk to one of the fathers.

BANFIELD: One minute past 6:00 in the east. Let's start this morning with some real welcome news.

A million homeowners, if you're one of them, where you're under water in the house. Your house is not worth as much as you owe on it, you might actually be in the running for some pretty big relief.

SAMBOLIN: All this comes as two very large states, New York and California, are signing on to this deal. So let's look at the numbers here.

We're talking about a $25 billion pot of money. It's part of a settlement between the government and some of the country's largest mortgage lenders and servicers, what that means to you.

You could be getting up to $20,000 relief on the principal that you owe, and Christine Romans is here to explain all of this to us. You started yesterday. We're very excited about this.

But typically, we're not sharing really happy news and this is great for those folks that owe.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Look, they are comparing this, people who watch this consumer groups comparing this to the big tobacco settlement from 1998, a big settlement between states, the federal government and the industry, the banking and this mortgage servicing industry. So what does it mean?

Well, 11 million of you are under water on your loan, this would target a million under water homeowners, California, New York, as Zoraida mentioned. Also Florida are now on board, which means now, it's a national deal that they are negotiating still.

These are non-Fannie and Freddie loans. So it's not everyone. If your mortgage is held by Fannie or Freddie, this is not you, but many of these programs so far have targeted just Fannie and Freddie back loans. This is for those private mortgages. How do you know if you qualify? You don't yet.

And I promise you when we have the details for who qualifies and how to make sure you are considered, we will let you know. These are the banks that are the mortgage servicers involved, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Allied Financial.

The big papers are also reporting this morning, ladies, that there could be cash payments for people who are going through the foreclosure process from December 2008 -- September 2008 to December 2011, that would be $1,500 or $2,000 cash payment the banks would have to pony up.

As you know, for many people who lost their home, blown out their credit and now are renters have lost the American dream, I don't know if $1,500 or $5,000 is definitely enough to make them whole, but there could be some cash payments for people.

It could also be, according to the big papers, refinancing part of this, too, some more help to try to get more people to refinance their loans. Basically, the hope here is this will be money, money into the housing sector at a time when Congress still has to pass any kind of new housing rescues.

You said sis-boom-bah, one thing I'm concerned about is that the housing rescues to date has helped about a quarter of the people as advertised. Part of that problem is the housing market has been a nightmare. It's been a much bigger crash than we thought. It's been much harder to try to stabilize it.

SAMBOLIN: And to your point, you said a million people, but there are so many more.

ROMANS: It's 11 million under water.

SAMBOLIN: All right, I'll start celebrating.

ROMANS: I want your enthusiasm.

SAMBOLIN: All right, thank you, Christine. I want yours.

All right, 4 minutes past the hour here. Those controversial pardons in Mississippi now could be deemed invalid. In just a few hours from now, the Mississippi Supreme Court will hear arguments a little later this morning.

So that big controversy started when outgoing Governor Haley Barbour pardoned almost 200 criminals.

BANFIELD: And they weren't just any old criminals, four of them were convicted killers, violent, dangerous killers. Our Martin Savidge joins us live now from Jackson, Mississippi.

This thing, you know, is so fast-tracked and it just sort of speaks to the politization of this story, Martin. Last week, you and I were talking about a hearing at trial level and now we're talking Supreme Court. We might actually have action by later today?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly right, yes. This was always anticipated. It was probably going to end up in the state Supreme Court, anyway and because there are people that are being detained or being held in prison that have already been pardoned.

There is the essence of speed that at least the defense attorneys are trying to argue here. Here are the arguments that we're going to hear inside of the courtroom today.

Primarily from the defense point of view, this is the attorneys or these are the attorneys that are representing those that have been convicted and now pardoned, they are going to say look, the power of the governor of Mississippi to grant clemency, in this case pardon these people, is absolute.

And no court and no judge can change that ruling. The state attorney general is arguing something a little bit different. He's saying it's not really so much the question of the pardon, it is part of the pardon process requires the criminal to do something.

And that something is to advertise in the newspaper, take out a classified ad that must run for 30 days consecutively in order to be granted the pardon. In most of the cases the state attorney general says that did not happen.

The 203 pardons, about 180 did not meet the 30 day requirement, thereby their pardons are invalid. That is basically how the argument will go.

BANFIELD: Does it mean we'll have action right away, Marty? Because you know what happens when a Supreme Court rule, sometimes they just kick it back down to trial level, and this could drag on and on for even longer. If the Supreme Court says the pardons are invalid, what is next?

SAVIDGE: Yes, well, two questions, really you have there. One is the time frame. We don't really know. We anticipate the court wants to rule in a fairly speedy fashion because as we point out, there were people that were scheduled to be released that were held back at the last minute because of the question of whether the pardon is valid or not.

So they are being jeopardized as a result of any wait. Then the other question is what if they are turned invalid, what happens to those that have already been released? That is a very good question.

Because we're now in sort of unchartered territory, what would really happen? Could it be kicked down to a lower court? We don't know we'll have to wait and see what the high court's ruling is first.

BANFIELD: And we know that one of those killers never even bothered to show up and file a brief on all of this. He's still out there, Joseph Osment. So keep an eye on it for us, Marty, thank you.

SAMBOLIN: And every morning we give you an early start to your day alerting you to stories that will make news.

The Los Angeles elementary school that's the focus of an alleged child abuse scandal, it reopens today. Miramonte Elementary has an entirely new staff as well.

Two former teachers arrested on child abuse charges, their pictures there. Investigators also found more than 200 photos of students allegedly taken by one of those teachers.

BANFIELD: Paul McCartney's ex-wife, Heather Mills, is going to be testifying today as part of a U.K. hacking probe. She is going to be asked some questions about the former "News of the World" editor and our own CNN's Piers Morgan.

Morgan has refused to disclose the name of a source who played him a voicemail. It was a message from Paul McCartney to Heather Mills.

SAMBOLIN: And CPAC 2012 gets underway this morning. That is in Washington, D.C. It's America's largest gathering of conservative leaders and activists. It ends Saturday with a straw poll to endorse a Republican candidate.

Our very own Soledad O'Brien anchors STARTING POINT from that conference that is kicking off at 7 a.m. Eastern Time.

BANFIELD: And still ahead on EARLY START. It is a CNN exclusive, for the first time the older brother of Tyler Clementi is speaking out. You might remember, Tyler is the Rutgers University freshman who jumped from the George Washington Bridge after his roommate allegedly used a web cam to spy on him while he was secretly kissing another man.

SAMBOLIN: Prosecutors want Jerry Sandusky kept indoors over complaints that he is watching children from his porch. We're going to talk to one of the neighbors live from State College.

BANFIELD: And as Rick Santorum's political star rises, his web site falls, crashes in fact. We'll let you know why that might not have been a terrible thing as the money poured in. You're watching EARLY START.

SAMBOLIN: And Rob Marciano is live in Atlanta for us. Good morning to you, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. Stop the presses, it actually snowed across parts of the east yesterday. Maybe an inch, maybe two, tops most I found in Western Maryland that little pulse of snow heading off the east coast, Philadelphia, D.C., Baltimore, you all got about a trace out of this thing.

Not terribly cold behind it, but certainly some wind, and no big storms behind it. We're watching something in the Pacific Northwest and watching the cold air in Canada, but for now, Boston, Detroit, some wind that will slow you down. Miami and Seattle some showers as well.

Temperatures as I mentioned still mild today, but look for the cold air beginning to drop in from Canada, temps in the 30s on Friday in Chicago, in the 20s, lake effect snows there. Maybe some snow across New York on Saturday with a high temperature of 37 degrees. That is a quick check on weather. EARLY START is coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: I don't care who you are. It's a good way to wake up to the Rolling Stones "Start Me Up" and if it's not just a good song to wake up to, it's also a good song that applies to our next story.

A lot of people feeling real stagnant in their mortgages, and guess what? We have something to start these mortgages again.

SAMBOLIN: It's 13 minutes past the hour now. As many as one million homeowners with mortgages under water could see up to $20,000 in relief this should happen really soon here. That is thanks to a $25 billion deal between the government and some of the country's largest mortgage companies.

Mississippi's attorney general hard at work asking the State Supreme Court to throw out former Governor Haley Barbour's 200 pardons that should happen this morning. They claim there was not enough public notice to communities where the pardoned convicts committed their crimes. The 911 Call Center in Pierce County, Washington is launching an investigation because it took dispatchers eight minutes to send a police car to Josh Powell's home. Moments after those calls, Powell blew up the house, killing himself and his two young sons. He set it on fire.

BANFIELD: And also, 60 different civilians apparently killed overnight as government forces in Syria continued the bombardment of the town of Homs. Neighboring Turkey is now saying it's going to get involved to try somehow to end the violence in that country.

The Pentagon set to announce an expanded combat role for women. They're appealing to Congress with 14,000 new jobs that they would like to become available to women including radio operators, medics and tank mechanics. Women will still, however, be barred from that front-line fighting.

And Rick Santorum, wow, what a night? A three-peat and now, all of a sudden, the money just started coming in. He raised a million dollars in just 24 hours after winning those three GOP contests on Tuesday, but most of that money was donated online. And the downside of that, the website crashes. Hopefully they'll get that back up and running soon, because I know that that's something very important to them -

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely.

BANFIELD: -- that he got momentum and he got money.

SAMBOLIN: They're working on it feverishly.

BANFIELD: As we speak.

SAMBOLIN: So we are on to a CNN exclusive here, an interview with the brother of Tyler Clementi. Tyler was a Rutgers College student who committed suicide in September of 2010.

BANFIELD: His roommate, Dharun Ravi, is facing hate crime charges and accused of spying on Clementi with another male student as well.

Our Jason Carroll spoke to Tyler's older brother James. It was originally believed that Tyler outed - or rather Ravi outed Tyler, but that's not necessarily the case. It's gets a bit confusing.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, basically what happened was Tyler came out to his brother when he was 18 years old, and that's what Tyler told me during this interview.

BANFIELD: Or James told you about Tyler, right.

CARROLL: Oh, that's what - that's what James said during his interview. And James basically said that he himself is gay, and so he understood where his brother was coming from, in fact he thought his brother was gay even before he came out. And what's interesting is James also talked about Tyler. He talked about what Tyler had said about Ravi. And to me that is one of the most interesting parts of this interview. I want you to take a listen to what he had to say about Ravi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMES CLEMENTI, BROTHER OF RUTGERS STUDENT WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE: Reading the accounts of what happened is very hard for me in realizing the environment that my brother found himself in and that he probably had so much hope and optimism for a great experience at college and found himself living through a nightmare.

CARROLL: Is forgiveness something that you think about?

CLEMENTI: Yes, and I think there's a time for that. I don't know if I'm there right now. You know, the trial is going to be incredibly emotional and every day is going to be harder than the last I think, and I don't know - I want to - I just want to get through this and make sure that my family gets through that period.

What I think we're hoping for some kind of justice in the court system and putting our faith in the prosecution to - to do what they need to do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: You know what's interesting about that? James had said of the two of them, he felt as though Tyler was the stronger of the two of them. And that's why it's so disheartening for what happened to him, yes.

BANFIELD: It would had to be such an incredible surprise and shock to this family. Why is he talking now? This has been going on for quite some time, right?

CARROLL: Well, first of all, the grieving process is a long one and in the beginning I think the family couldn't speak at all about what happened. It was just too painful for them. They're still grieving. They're still in a lot of pain, but I think at this point they want to get the message out in terms of trying to help some other people. So listen to what he had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLEMENTI: Words are devastating and until you've been the target of that kind of hatred, you don't understand the pain that you're inflicting on other people and I just think about, you know, the epidemic that suicide has become amongst gay youth and it breaks my heart and every child that I've seen on the news since and before my brother's death, I mean, he is one of many, unfortunately, and this needs to stop.

It's not the answer. There's always somewhere that you can go and there's - you know, at any point no matter what, as long as you're still here, there's something just worth fighting for. I mean, life is the most valuable thing, and I think about my brother, I think if he had gotten through that night, you know, and that dark hour, I think a day, week or a year later he would have looked back and been grateful that he didn't do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: So very painful for him to talk about what had happened there.

Another point we should bring up and that's about justice and what the family is looking for at this point. I think in the very beginning if they had received an apology in some way, shape or form, maybe it would not have even gotten to this stage. They still haven't received an apology -

BANFIELD: Really?

CARROLL: -- not from Ravi. And I think at this point, since it's gone through the legal process, they want to see it through the entire legal process, and see what sort of justice they can get out of this.

BANFIELD: Yes. And, I mean, legally an apology sometimes is a very difficult thing to do. It could seal your fate and oftentimes lawyers will say you may be sorry for this, don't say a word.

CARROLL: And one more quick point, if I may. They don't want Tyler's life to be defined just by what happened in the end. He lived for 18 years and they're hoping that that can be put out there as well.

BANFIELD: Yes, Jason Carroll -

SAMBOLIN: This is very courageous of them to do. Thank you for bringing that to us.

CARROLL: You bet.

SAMBOLIN: All right, still ahead on EARLY START, Jerry Sandusky's neighbors accuse him of watching children from his porch. Neighbors are now fearing for their children's safety. We're going to talk to one of those neighbors coming up next.

BANFIELD: And, also, the founder of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure is speaking out for the first time since they've reversed their decision on funding to Planned Parenthood. Hear what Nancy Brinker has to say about her role in all this and how she feels about it now.

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Twenty-four minutes past 6:00 on the East Coast.

And neighbors of Jerry Sandusky are speaking out. They're very worried about the safety of kids in their neighborhood. SAMBOLIN: The former Penn State coach lives near a school and the playground, and the neighbors say that they've seen him watching their children. They say he should not be allowed outside while he is under house arrest. This decision will be decided tomorrow in court. Of course, Jerry Sandusky's attorneys disagree.

Jody Harrington is one of those neighbors and he is joining us live now. Thanks for being with us this morning. We really appreciate it. You were saying -

JODY HARRINGTON, JERRY SANDUSKY'S NEIGHBOR: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: -- that having Sandusky, living next door makes you feel violated. Could you explain what's going on?

HARRINGTON: Yes. I think that given the severity of the crimes that Mr. Sandusky is accused of, to have him still in such proximity of my children and other children that are in the neighborhood, it's a - it's a bit unsettling.

SAMBOLIN: So do you see him, is he sitting on his porch watching the children from his back porch?

HARRINGTON: I've seen - yes, I've seen Jerry Sandusky on his back porch on several occasions watch children, my own children, other children of the Lamont Elementary School, have been outside, yes, several occasions.

SAMBOLIN: And do you see him outside all the time or just specifically when the children are out of school or headed in to school?

HARRINGTON: I think during the time of Jerry Sandusky's house arrest, which it's hard to put that in a - into a time frame right now, but I think it's safe to say I've almost seen him daily, yes.

SAMBOLIN: And what is it - what is it that you're concerned about?

HARRINGTON: Well, it's not just the safety of my children, our children, it's also just the quality of life. I think that given the crimes that Jerry Sandusky is accused of, it's - it's very difficult to sort of not have a very guarded state of mind when you think about what I've heard about his crimes that he is accused of.

SAMBOLIN: And, Jody, have you ever talked to Jerry Sanduksy? Have you told him about your concerns as a parent?

HARRINGTON: No, I have not. No, I have not. Unfortunately, I have not mustered the courage for that, and so that is why I'm happy to have this opportunity to speak with you today, to know that other parents and apparently members of the Lamont Elementary School have taken a stance on this and said that we're very uncomfortable with this in our community. I felt very motivated to express my opinions about it as well.

SAMBOLIN: So, Jody, what is it that you want? For him to - to have to stay indoors the entire time that he's on house arrest?

HARRINGTON: Well, I mean that sounds very reasonable to me. I mean, I have a very shallow understanding of what the legal system enables someone to do in his situation, but, again, given the severity of the crimes he's accused of, I really feel that erring on the side of caution is really not that much to ask for.

SAMBOLIN: Something struck me and you said that you had to have a conversation with your children about this. What did you tell them?

HARRINGTON: Well, you know, given their age, that has to be buffered a great deal, but I guess it's mainly revolved around that one of our neighbors has been accused of hurting children, so, you know, you can't talk about sort of the sexual nature of the crimes he is accused of with such young children I feel so.

SAMBOLIN: Jody -

HARRINGTON: It's just mainly - just - yes.

SAMBOLIN: I'm sorry to interrupt you, but has he ever approached any of the children to your knowledge?

HARRINGTON: No. No, I've never seen - I've never seen him on the other side of the fence of his property.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Jody Harrington, good luck with that. I know that's a tough conversation to have with children. We appreciate your time this morning.

HARRINGTON: Absolutely.

BANFIELD: And still ahead on EARLY START, the GOP presidential race comes to CPAC. CPAC is the biggest grouping of conservative politicians and activists. And our panel is going to weigh in on why one of the big candidates is not going this year.

SAMBOLIN: And a woman says she was JFK's teen mistress. We're talking to a Kennedy biographer live about that and so much more.

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

BANFIELD: And a big one that you're probably going to appreciate. Even if you're not under water in your home, so many people are, and there may be relief on the way. In fact, as many as a million people who are suffering with properties that are worth less than their actual debt, they could be -- they could get part of a $25 billion settlement with the nation's largest banks. It's all expected to be announced later today, and it could mean big money for you -- $20,000 per homeowner.

SAMBOLIN: Boy, that would be great.

The Mississippi Supreme Court holds a hearing to decide whether former Governor Haley Barbour's controversial last minute pardons were legal. Up to 200 convicted criminals prisoners could be headed back to prison.

BANFIELD: Also, students at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles are heading back to that school today. But they are going to be greeted by an entirely new staff. This after two former teachers were arrested on child abuse charges, and entire staff was actually redirected.

SAMBOLIN: The founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is speaking out since reversing a decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood. Nancy Brinker admits to "The Washington Post" that she mishandled the situation, and that she made some mistakes. The first time she is saying that.

So, it is the hottest ticket in town for the Republicans, CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. It begins in Washington, D.C., today. The who's who of the GOP will be there.

BANFIELD: I know, I love this time of year because it's like such a huge convention and like a really big party, too.

But big headline names, folks. It doesn't get any bigger than this. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, conservative bestselling author Ann Coulter.

Also, three of the four presidential candidates. Only three of the four? Me thinks there is something going on.

So, joining me now is Goldie Taylor, who's an independent political analyst ands managing editor of the Goldie Taylor Project. Also, Ed Espinoza, Democratic political consultant. And Matt Mackowiak, who's a Republican strategist and founder of the Potomac Strategic Group.

OK you three. Thanks so much for being here.

Let's start with you, Matt, because some people say this is just like a whole super silliest process to do king-making with the straw poll. But now I hear that Ron Paul, the guy who won the big straw poll at the end of CPAC for the last two years isn't even going to show up? Matt, what's this about?

MATT MACKOWIAK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, there's a caucus that ends on Saturday in Maine and Ron Paul has a strategy about accumulating delegates. It's extraordinarily unlikely he'll be the nominee, but he does want to have an impact, you know, at the convention, in terms of the platform and sort of starting anew, but going forward.

So, I don't understand why he's not going, the convention CPAC starts today -- today through Saturday. There's a straw poll Saturday afternoon. He certainly could have come for a little bit.

But this is a big thing for Governor Romney, for Senator Santorum, and for Speaker Gingrich, because you got 10,000 activists, you got 1,500 credential media. It's the largest conference anywhere in the country that's held by an outside group.

So it comes at an important time when you look at what happened the other night in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri.

BANFIELD: Sure. Sure.

Ed, jump in here with this, because I oftentimes wonder at this point whether CPAC is going to be sort of having an internal dialogue, what's our mission here? Is the mission to come up with a big endorsement and make a front-runner and give the front-runner momentum or conversely, is our mission to kind of kick-start the general election and just bash the administration? Because we've got some serious power here.

ED ESPINOZA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, as a Democrat, I've never been to CPAC. I don't know it would be a good idea for me to go here.

BANFIELD: I'd like to see you go. I'd like to see that. Take a webcam.

ESPINOZA: The closest I got was being surrounded by CPAC attendees on the metro last year. We all had very different buttons on.

BANFIELD: I bet.

ESPINOZA: But I'll tell you what? My impression of these events, it's not necessarily to define who your nominee is going to be or to give anyone a boost, as much as it is to define what the issues are that you care about, to really implore those upon who your candidates are and what issues are going to come up.

So, here, they're going to talk about, Matt would know more than I, but I'll tell you -- a lot of it is going to talk about what they are for as opposed what they are against.

One of the problems Romney has, in particular, is he's running as the not Obama. And that's just not good enough. One of the reasons that Santorum is doing well is because he's actually espousing things that he stands for. CPAC is one of the places that could help him.

BANFIELD: Those conservatives --

(CROSSTALK)

ESPINOZA: Correct.

BANFIELD: The core issues that so many people say is critical at CPAC, but Rush Limbaugh has been one of those people who's actually been avoiding CPAC, saying it's not just conservative enough.

So, here's that question for you, Goldie Taylor, there was a time when everybody hung on every word of Rush Limbaugh, especially when he was the keynote address speaker, I think, it was a couple years ago. And now I come to hear that Sarah Palin, who is the keynote speaker this year, and has said no to the invitations in the past several years, I'm curious how much influence she's going to have and if she's going to reverse course and actually decide to endorse somebody.

GOLDIE TAYLOR, INDEPENDENT POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think it behooves her really not to endorse anyone. I think it's her interest to keep the Sarah Palin train running for whatever, you her outcome is -- whatever her outcomes she wants to be.

You know, I think CPAC is an important convention. I think Mitt Romney has an opportunity if he misses it. This campaign process is going to drag on that much more longer.

People like Senator DeMint, you know, are saying he really has to step it up. He's really got to get in touch with tried and true conservatives in a meaningful way. They just don't trust him and he's got to figure out, you know, where the keys are to the kingdom when he gets to CPAC.

BANFIELD: OK, guys, this is that round table game, one word answer only. And it's the name. It's the winner of the straw poll.

Let's start with you, Matt. Who's it's going to be?

MACKOWIAK: Santorum. I think 10,000 activists. He's got the momentum.

BANFIELD: That's not one word, Matt. Come on, play by the rules.

Ed Espinoza, who's going to win?

ESPINOZA: Santorum.

BANFIELD: All right. Goldie?

TAYLOR: Santorum.

BANFIELD: OK. How about that?

Thanks, guys. We'll see what happens, a couple days from now, but it should be interesting.

And we've also, by the way, got some big names coming up on "STARTING POINT" this morning. First with Arizona Senator John McCain who's going to talk to our Soledad.

And then, Congressman Paul Ryan will be interviewing. So, you may be watching EARLY START, but make sure that you stay tuned for "STARTING POINT" as well.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: You're walking in the dialogue here. Forty-one minutes past the hour.

If you're young and out of work, you are not alone. In a new survey out just an hour ago by Pew Research Center, only 54 percent of people ages 18 to 24 are working. That, friends, is the lowest level since the government started keeping track of this number after World War II.

So, Christine Romans is here to tell us what we're going to do about this. We feel like this is a big problem for the young people.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Whenever you're talking how the great recession has hurt different demographics, young people have been hit the hardest. And, look, when you're at this age, 18 to 24, and this is when all of this life decisions are happening, right, where you're going to live, whether you're going to go to school, whether you're going to drive a car, whether you're going to buy a house, whether you're going to get married, whether you're going to have a baby.

So, all of these -- all of these things have been kind of put on hold. And we know from other surveys and this one that people are young people are postponing their life decisions. Someone called it a lost generation because just -- the recession has hit them so hard.

And when Pew surveyed people about who's been hit hardest or who is going to suffer the most -- I mean, adults and young people alike all said young adults will bear the brunt of this, that they have really suffered. It's interesting because they don't have the assets, they don't have --

BANFIELD: They don't have a mortgage.

ROMANS: They're not underwater on their own.

BANFIELD: Yes.

ROMANS: But they're making all of these life decisions right now that have been affected about it. I think it's so interesting.

SAMBOLIN: And is it because, we were talking about this earlier, because the baby boomers are staying on their jobs longer.

ROMANS: Yes, that's exactly right. So, boomers aren't leaving if they can hold on for dear life, they are. So, there are fewer opportunities to get in because you've got these experienced workers in the workforce who don't want to leave, right, because their house is under water, their 401 (k) got hit maybe. So, there's that.

This all feeds in the Occupy Wall Street thread, too, doesn't it, when you talk about these young people who are saying, is this the land of opportunity or is this the land of food stamps and unemployment benefits? I mean, what happened here? Why isn't there a place for me to get in? And why isn't -- you know, why am I not rising with the economy that is improving here?

So, another survey from Pew just out is showing how these young people have really been affected by this. But when I talk to human resources managers, people who, you know, advise companies how to work with different generations at work, they tell me that they're actually pretty excited about young people because they are intuitive about technology in a way that generation X and above aren't. They use -- they are willing to work whenever, not 9:00 to 5:00, you know? And they are a little more flexible as a workforce.

So, there are some bright spots.

SAMBOLIN: That is a positive to this.

ROMANS: And in this survey from Pew, it also said young people are maintaining their optimism, even though the rest of us are looking and going, wow, really sucks to be you -- the young people themselves are like, oh, no, we'll get through this. So, that's also a bright spot.

BANFIELD: Yes, I got news for them. When the debt and deficit starts to really to hit them, that will be a different story altogether.

ROMANS: And don't tell their kids, either.

BANFIELD: Don't tell their kids.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my gosh.

BANFIELD: Christine Romans, thanks for the awful news. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: Hey, wait!

SAMBOLIN: There were bright spots in there.

BANFIELD: You're a great person with lousy stuff.

ROMANS: Important information to, I think, educate and illustrate the political discussion happening in America.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely.

ROMANS: We have another fabulous teammate called Soledad O'Brien who's joining us now with a look ahead of what's coming up on "STARTING POINT."

Hello there.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, ANCHOR, "STARTING POINT": Wow, I encourage that, fabulous. You should always call me fabulous.

Good morning, ladies.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: We're live this morning at conservative -- exactly, $5.

Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. We have some of the biggest names in politics joining us this morning.

Coming up, we're going to talk to Senator John McCain. We're going to talk to Congressman Paul Ryan. We're going to talk to Senator Mike Lee, Senator Jim DeMint is going to join us as well, and Congressman Jason Chaffetz is going to be with us as well this morning.

Plus, the actor Kirk Cameron, remember him from "Growing Pains"? Well, he's actually moved on to doing films. We're going to talk to him as well about what his next project is.

That's all straight ahead this morning, starting in roughly 15 minutes on "STARTING POINT."

EARLY START is back right after this short break. So, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you, Dallas. It is 35 degrees, little partly cloudy there, but it will be 56 degrees later.

BANFIELD: "No Secrets This Year," good song. You know what, that's a great song for this segment coming up. Silversun Pickups singing for us, because the sexual exploits of President JFK may be well-known, but there is a new book called "Once Upon A Secret" that's revealing some details of a relationship that he allegedly had with a White House intern.

SAMBOLIN: That's right. Mimi Alford is her name, and she broke her silence on NBC last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIMI ALFORD, AUTHOR, "ONCE UPON A SECRET": I felt the president getting closer and closer to me, looked me right in the eyes, and I actually -- he then put his hands on my shoulders and sort of guiding me down to the edge of the bed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: And joining us now to talk about this new book is Kennedy biographer, Laurence Leamer. Thank you for joining us this morning.

LAURENCE LEAMER, KENNEDY BIOGRAPHER: Thanks for having me.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, it is hard to corroborate a lot of Mimi Alford's account there. Many people that she mentions are dead. Do you believe her story?

LEAMER: I certainly do.

SAMBOLIN: Why?

LEAMER: Well, I mean, the detail of it. I mean, it's kind of excruciatingly painful even to hear it. The American upper class isn't what it used to be that a woman from his background would tell in such almost pornographic detail her relationships with the late president, but I think the detail is such that -- it is not that unusual. That probably half a dozen other women could have written some other books.

SAMBOLIN: And why haven't they? Why are we just hearing about this now in these kind of descriptive details, pornographic as you call them?

LEAMER: Well, actually, one woman that was in my book, "The Kennedy Man," was she had been a student at Wellesley, and she got involved with Kennedy, and Kennedy had her common -- had a job in the White House. And after a year, she realized how she was being used, how pathetic this was, and she left.

Ms. Alford, even now, says she doesn't regret this, and she thinks it was a romance. It wasn't a romance. A womanizer at the level of Kennedy really didn't like women. Women were his prey. The measure of his attitude toward women was there was not a single woman of power in the Kennedy White House.

In the Eisenhower years, which we think is this kind of doubty (ph) period, there were any number of women in power. Kennedy thought that women were either for sex or to bring you coffee.

SAMBOLIN: OK. Lawrence, we're going listen to her words, and then, we're going to talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALFORD: I think overpowered in the sense that he was the president. He was this unbelievably handsome man, 45 years old, not overpowered physically that someone had grabbed me and made me do something that I wasn't really willing to do, because I really think I was willing to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: She says "I really think I was willing to do it," yet, you contend that he thought women had a different place.

LEAMER: Well, was Monica Lewinsky willing to do it? I mean, that's the nature of power. You have an older person, generally, an older man, and you have this power over younger people. They admire you. They see your charisma. I mean, is it a right to take advantage of that? Is it right to have this young woman do a sexual act on one of your friends as you watch? I don't think so. SAMBOLIN: All right. She mentioned that she felt that this was not a romantic relationship. Let's listen to that, and then, I want to you weigh in on it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you feel sad now when you talk about it?

ALFORD: It wasn't a romantic affair. I don't really remember the president ever kissing me, and it makes me sad. I don't remember really kissing him, either.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You never even referred to him as Jack, always Mr. President.

ALFORD: Always Mr. President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: That's really tough to listen to. Do you think that he had any feelings for her or any of the other women that you say he had affairs with?

LEAMER: Look, what's important about this is the other women generally tried to put a veneer of romance. Judith Exner who was his mistress and also was a mistress of a Mafia man. They try to pretend it's more important than it is. Troubling (ph) about this woman's story is she kind of gets it.

She gets it that she was just his object, and as she admits was willing to be this object, but as you say, it's just a very sad business.

SAMBOLIN: Can I take it that you're not surprised by anything that you read in this book?

LEAMER: No. When I started doing my research, I thought all these stories about Kennedy's sex life were exaggerated, that she's tabloid (ph) exaggerations, but it was amazing the extent of this. Even during the Cuban missile crisis, I've said publicly that it was inconceivable that Kennedy had these relationships during the crisis that could have been the end of our society, but according to this woman, he did.

I mean, he was a sex addict. The great story of his life is not sex but his health. He may not have lived during the second term. Sex was a way to assert his healthiness. He was in pain for about half of his life. That's what sex was to him.

SAMBOLIN: You have to wonder why he never got caught. And I want to ask you one last question. You know, we hear about all of these powerful men, political men. We have Clinton, Kennedy, Gingrich, and all of these alleged affairs. Is there a reason that folks say or a lot of them say, this is really none of your business? The American public it's something that happens in their private lives, do you agree with that?

LEAMER: Well, it spills over. If you're going to cheat on your wife, you're probably going -- maybe you'll cheat other people. With Kennedy, he had a problem with women overall. He couldn't see women in position of power. Let's remember that President Nixon did not cheat on his wife, and it was not a memorable presidency.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Laurnce Leamer, Kennedy biographer, thank you for joining us this morning.

BANFIELD: And they say the president's legacy takes years to actually foment, well, how about 50 years and things could certainly make an effect there.

All right. Coming up, still ahead, Paul McCartney, did you think he already had a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BANFIELD: You would be wrong. Isn't that amazing?

SAMBOLIN: I did. I was surprised by this one.

BANFIELD: He's just getting it. You'll see why. You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: "Lady Madonna," The Beatles. What a beautiful picture of the street in Vegas. It is 48 degrees, later 72.

SAMBOLIN: All right. In today's the day, Paul McCartney finally gets his star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. We're shocked about this. He is the last Beatle to get one. It will be on Vine Street alongside three other Beatles, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr. Walk of Fame officials selected McCartney for star back in 1993, but our understanding is, that he never committed until now.

BANFIELD: And there's a reason for that, apparently, they just couldn't schedule it. Imagine. Not being able to schedule.

All right. That's it for EARLY START, everyone. Thanks for joining us. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now. Good morning.