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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Chardon High School Students Return to Class; "Birther" Book Released; Tough Cleanup Begins in Harrisburg; Soldier Charged $51 for Four-Second Call; Aid Getting Into Syria; "Danny" Escapes Syria; Holding Syria Accountable; Iranian Elections Underway; Obama Heckled Over Iran at Fundraiser; Study: Sleep Gets Better With Age; Apple More Valuable Than Poland; Civil Rights Anniversary; Controversial Voter ID Laws; Netanyahu's North American Visit; Prince Harry Arrives In Belize; American Boy Kidnapped in Syria; New Movie Chronicles McCain, Palin During Campaign

Aired March 2, 2012 - 07:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: Good morning to you. Good morning, everybody, as well.

STARTING POINT this morning, it's back to school in Chardon, Ohio. Students right now are going to be returning to class this morning, same time the shooting suspect has been charged as a juvenile with three counts of murder.

And the coach who is a hero says I'm not a hero but he is a hero. Talking about how he was able to help students during the rampage. We're going to hear from him as well.

Also, it might be the calm between the storms this morning. There's a threat of more severe weather today after those deadly Midwestern storms. We'll update you on what's going to happen weather-wise.

And then, there's major security scare happened at Philadelphia's airport. A guy just running right through the fence, right on to the runway, as a plane is literally within seconds of landing. We'll tell you what the aftermath of that story is as well.

STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: We're going at it this morning, this morning. Rick Lazio's playlist.

Look at you. Is that Hot Chelle Rae?

RICK LAZIO (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: I don't have that song. My iPad expands.

Let's bring in our guests in. Let's continue to intro our panel.

Of course, Rick Lazio is joining us on the panel.

Terry McAuliffe is with us as well. He is a former DNC chairman, and now the chairman of Green Tech Automotive. We're going to talk about energy this morning.

And Amy Chozick joins us. She's a corporate media reporter for "The New York Times."

Nice to have you all.

We start with this morning with a sad story out of Chardon, Ohio, we're expecting probably about an hour and a half or so because of course, they're an hour behind us. Students are going to start returning to classes there. Clearly, they'll be, you know, tons of grief that they have to deal with and I would imagine, too, some post traumatic stress. It's the first time since Monday's fatal shooting where three of their classmates were killed, that all those students will all be coming together.

The alleged shooter is a young man named T.J. Lane. He is now been charged with three counts of aggravated murder. He's charged as a juvenile but they're expecting, in fact, that he will be prosecuted as an adult.

The football coach, Frank Hall -- he is the guy who chased the gunman out of the school. We heard from him for the first time isn't the shooting yesterday. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANK HALL, CHARDON HIGH SCHOOL COACH: The families of Danny, Demetrius, and Russell, I want you to know that I was with them. I prayed with them, I wiped their tears, I know God was with them.

I don't know why this happened. I only wish I could have done more. I'm not a hero. I'm just a football coach and study hall teacher.

The law enforcement, first responders, that came to our aid that day, they are the heroes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: I love that man. He is remarkable, right? I'm not a hero.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is live in Chardon, Ohio.

Ted, Did I misspeak? I thought classes were going to start in an hour and a half. Is it really in 30 minutes?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thirty minutes, yes. Students are just starting to arrive at school in 30 minutes. And it will be a difficult day, obviously, a regular day of classes, they're saying, but counselors will be there, grief counselors. It will be anything but a regular day.

They were there yesterday for a short period of time with their parents. They've changed the school cafeteria around, Soledad, where, of course, this shooting took place. They have painted it and they've changed the way that the cafeteria tables were arranged. They completely redid that.

Of course, four students were shot while sitting at a table in the cafeteria. They said they want a fresh start as this students come back. It was a very emotional scene in the school yesterday. I suspect it will be same there today as well.

O'BRIEN: It's got to be hard to imagine to get a fresh start when the funerals also start today, right?

ROWLANDS: Yes. We have a wake this afternoon for Danny Parmertor. He's the 16-year-old. And he will be laid to rest a funeral service tomorrow.

And then on Tuesday, Demetrius Hewlin, another 16-year-old, will be laid to rest.

O'BRIEN: Oh my gosh! Hearing from Demetrius' mother was so, so sad.

They went on with the sporting event, though. They had one last night, right?

ROWLANDS: Yes. And, boy, I tell you what, this was a great example of a community coming together. This was a playoff game, a sectional playoff game. Chardon was playing another team at a different gym hosting this tournament. Everybody in the stands was wearing the Chardon red colors. Even the other team wore Chardon uniforms.

And Chardon ended up winning the game by about 20 points. But it really wasn't about the game. They said it was about getting these kids back to some sense of normalcy or just being a kid and the activity -- they had to get extra buses for the students. The whole student body showed up. It was an emotional evening.

O'BRIEN: One has to imagine they're going to need that pulling together to really get on the path to healing. I know that they interviewed some folks at that game. I want to play a little bit, Ted, of what some of the people were saying. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) feeling and it helps us get through these times and trying to get things back to normal as quick as we can.

DIANE MOLNAR, PARENT: Everybody all wearing red or red and black to support us has been able to help us get through some of it. We take it one day at a time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: It's got to be a tough day ahead. I know you're going to be covering it for us, ted. Thank you for that update. We'll continue to check in with you all morning.

Other stories making headlines this morning. Christine Romans has those for us.

Hey, Christine. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad.

New developments for you this morning in that security scare at Philadelphia International Airport. A sharp eye at traffic controller is being credited with helping prevent a disaster when an unauthorized vehicle smashed through a fence and drove on to the runway. The controller spotted something on the radar but couldn't see the ground because of the fog. A plane that was just 100 feet above the runway was diverted seconds, seconds before landing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a rogue vehicle driving around on the airport. We're not talking to him. We can catch him.

Hold short on the runway niner. We're not moving anybody until we find this guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: This guy -- police arrested a suspect 24-year-old Kenneth Mazik, charged with driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, and criminal mischief.

Shots fired at the end of a bank hostage drama in California. A SWAT team moved in yesterday after the gunman refused to release the last of nearly a dozen hostages he was holding at a bank in Buena Park. While it's still not clear exactly what happened, the situation ended with a bank manager coming out and the suspect taken out on the stretcher with a gunshot wound.

Two more bodies now have been recovered from that coast guard helicopter crash earlier this week in Alabama's Mobile Bay. The chopper was on a training mission when it went down and one crew member remained unaccounted for. The Coast Guard still doesn't know why it went down but it was quite foggy at the time of that crash.

All right. Mitt Romney gaining momentum in the race for the Republican nomination. The former Massachusetts governor letting up on rival Rick Santorum to bash President Obama during a campaign stop in Idaho. And here's why -- Romney opening up a commanding 11-point lead over Santorum over Santorum among Republican voters in the latest Gallup poll. That's an 18-point swing in Romney's favor in just the past week.

Santorum determined to stick around.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is an episode of survival. We need to stay on the island, not get voted off, stay on message, and have hopefully the grassroots of conservative movements support us. And I think you're seeing that now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Washington state holds caucuses tomorrow with 10 states up for grabs on Super Tuesday. The candidates are battling for more than 400 delegates in the next four days.

Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich campaigning in his home state of Georgia yesterday. He says one thing has to happen on Super Tuesday in order for him to stay in the race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to win Georgia, I think, to be credible in the race. Bu if I win Georgia, the following week, we go to Alabama and Mississippi. I think I'll win most of those. And we have a good opportunity to win in Kansas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The latest poll shows Gingrich with a double digit lead in Georgia.

More dangerous weather on the way in many of the same areas hit earlier this week in the bull's eye again. High winds, hail, and more large and powerful tornadoes are possible, from New Orleans all of the way through the Ohio Valley today -- maybe only a tiny window to recover some valuable or memorable things for tornado victims who have already been hit once here.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano has more on the potential threat of severe weather today.

Good morning, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine.

Quite a storm is taking shape and in some aspects it's stronger than the storm that rolled through two days ago. We've got -- we've got a wind threat with this, we've got a snow threat and we've got, yes, recharging the atmosphere with moisture and humidity and heat and that's going to be focal point for storms this afternoon.

We actually have two rounds of convection we anticipate what's happening right now in Nashville, you're getting rough weather. St. Louis as well. This cell right here has been producing in some cases baseball-size hails. So, just north of St. Louis, they're getting some damaging hail there. In this watch box, the threat for damaging winds and hail for the next several hours.

But then around 2:00 this afternoon, when the cold front starts to sweep through, the potential for 70- 80-mile-an-hour gusts and strong tornadoes like we had two days ago in the red zone especially, but the threat for severe weather from the Canadian border, all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Cincinnati back through Evansville, Nashville, as far south as northern Alabama, a moderate risk for severe weather, including the potential for strong tornadoes and this thing rockets up toward the north and east.

We'll be tracking this throughout the day -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Rob.

Let's get a quick check of business, minding your business this morning.

Stock futures lower. Dow futures down about 20 points. Weak economic data out of Europe and concerns about the debt crisis there push the markets lower here in the U.S. this morning.

Of course, stocks would close, Soledad, to the highest since 2000. So, hitting a wall and not really a surprise here, Soledad.

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

So, there's been a rebirth of the birther movement. The controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- he's kind of known for stirring things up. I haven't talked about Joe Arpaio since we started this show. What is like, 10 weeks, 11 weeks, or something?

So, he's due -- he's due to be on TV. He is now set his sights on the White House. He did his own investigation into the president's birth certificate.

We had all moved on but not Joe Arpaio. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: My investigators believe that the long form birth certificate was manufactured electronically, and that it did not originate in a paper format as claimed by the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: They're back. The birthers are back. Why? Por que? Why are we talking about this?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Keep them going. It's great for us, the more they talk about it.

You know, people are talking about gas prices and things that matter. And for them to be doing this, is -- keep going.

AMY CHOZICK, CORPORATE MEDIA REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Are voters really concerned about this? I mean, there are so many problems impacting the country right now and real issues. I just wonder, does it have an impact on voters?

MCAULIFFE: Rick, it's your party.

O'BRIEN: It's really Joe Arpaio.

(CROSSTALK)

LAZIO: Let's be clear about that. So this is -- yes, this is going to be about jobs and economy. This is what people want the discussion to be about. This is what the candidates are going to be talking about.

O'BRIEN: You don't think this is going to get any traction?

LAZIO: I don't think it's going to get -- no, I don't think it's going to rise to become a big issue in the primaries, which is, you know, what's most newsworthy right now. I think people are very focused on the state of the economy, growth, jobs, housing, bread and butter issues, standard of living, stagnant wages. That's where Republicans will make their case against Obama, against President Obama.

O'BRIEN: Do you think it's sort of a mistake for Rick Santorum to have conversations -- many of his speeches are really focused on social issues, which then the media will then pick up, so sort of this vicious cycle, but he doesn't deliver like a fully 100 percent economy speeches.

LAZIO: Well, social issues are not unimportant, not unrelated to the economic issues to some extent. You just have to be able to put them together and people have got to be able to relate with them and understand.

I mean, when you talk about education, parenting, you know, mental health, whatever the case is, those are important national issues. But primarily, voters are concerned about, can I get a job? If I have a job, are my wages rising? Can I keep my home? Can I pay my bills? Am I better off now? Do I think I will be better off two or three years from now where I am now?

I think that's where the battleground will be, over those issues.

CHOZICK: Can those social issues alienate him in the general election? It may help him in the primary and then alienate him in the general.

LAZIO: Well, clearly will be -- I would imagine President Obama and his Democratic allies are going to try to wedge that. So I think if you -- I'm a Romney supporter -- so I think that you need to talk about social issues, I think you need to be aware of them, I think you need to provide leadership and have a philosophy on some of these issues.

But, primarily, this campaign has got to be waged on growth, opportunity, jobs -- those issues.

O'BRIEN: Before we go to commercial break, I was sort of surprised that we didn't see your guy, Mitt Romney, stand up and say why are we talking about JFK speech? Why are we talking about separation of church and state? Almost like this is a conversation that is taking us way off the main path, and even off the focus for voters who are going to head to the primaries.

I was surprised. He has sort of leadership opportunities and I was sort of surprised that he didn't take them, talking about college degrees. No one stood up and said, why are we bashing and calling snobby, people are getting college degrees. That's a bipartisan good for everybody kind of thing, right?

LAZIO: I think, Soledad, I think his campaign, I think he's made very clear that he is going to stay very focused on the economy, on jobs and the economy, 25 years in the private sector. He's got a great record with the Olympics, Bain, job creation, he knows a private economy, he's been very effective, very successful.

You know, if anything he's gotten criticized for not defending his success enough and defending sort of capitalism and growth and making the case for it. And I think he has -- one thing he had found during the course of this primary season is that he is getting strong and stronger, more resilient and more focused on these issues.

So, I think all the way through the campaign, you're going to see Mitt Romney talking about his plans, differentiating himself from President Obama, and his philosophy in terms of jobs and the economy.

O'BRIEN: We got to take a short break.

Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, we're going to talk about the tornado that blew through this one small block, the block only about 1,000 feet long. I was there yesterday. And at the end, five people were killed. The overwhelming number of deaths happened right on this one block. Pretty amazing stories are emerging from Brady Street in Harrisburg, Illinois. I'm going to take you there live this morning.

Plus, President Obama's $5 million fund-raiser in New York interrupted by a heckler. We'll hear what he said in response.

And our "Get Real" this morning, a U.S. soldier makes a two- minute call to his wife and he's charged $51. And believe it or not, it's happening to troops all the time.

We're going to leave you with Terry McAuliffe's playlist, Dave Matthew's band, "Funny the Way It Is."

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- and I started to feel the trailer shaking, and that's all I can remember. Next thing I knew, he was hollering, I was hollering. And I crawled -- some way or the other, I crawled out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Today it's all about the clean-up happening really across the Heartland as you just heard from Rob Marciano. There is a high threat for more tornadoes, which means there might be a very narrow window for people to get their stuff together, gather it and then store it some way with more dangerous weather that's on the way.

The skies already are very threatening in the rubble over Harrisburg, Illinois. And we're also hearing some pretty amazing survival stories.

Ashleigh Banfield is live for us in Harrisburg this morning. Hey, Ashleigh. Good morning.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Soledad.

It's amazing that nobody died where I'm standing. This is the strip mall. But let's not forget, thank God the time was so early in the morning when people weren't working or visiting this strip mall.

But, you know, as people try to deal with the aftermath, they are coping with the oncoming weather, as you mentioned, and so far so good. We thought we were going to be in a deluge by now, but we're not and the lightning ended some time ago. So we're crossing our fingers.

But let's not forget about the scale of this damage. I mean, this is huge. This is just an absolute disaster. It takes some pretty heavy machinery to get this stuff out of here.

So they are facing a massive, massive clean-up effort in this community. All of this as President Obama has reached out to, you know, the governors of six states to lend his thoughts to what they've all suffered through.

National Guard is out in some places protecting. There's still a curfew in place in Harrisburg. 6:00 A.M. it ends, 6:00 P.M. it begins.

I just want to tell you, as you consider what it's going to take for these folks to try to recover things, I mean, in this mall there was a sports store about a -- about another 100 yards from here, I think. There's a lot of very expensive gear that they may want to recover. But if they're going to do that, some really dangerous things they've got to look out for.

Just behind Kevin here, I'm sort of back up a little bit. I want to show you what they're up against. Everywhere you look, there are boards like this that just have spiked nails. So we are very careful where we walk and if you're going to try and come through here and do any recovery, you have to be so incredibly careful. And then there are things like this, Soledad. That is basically a spear that embedded itself in the wall of this store, and this is everywhere. Just extraordinarily sharp giant shards. So recovery of goods and clean-up are both a very dangerous prospect. So that's what they're facing.

And then of course, there's the healing of this community. They lost six people here out of the -- 13 now that died across the Midwest and the Southern States in those series of storms. They lost the bulk of them in this town. So they're dealing with the loss because in a town of 9,000 everybody knows somebody who died and then they're dealing with moving on and coming together as a community.

And I always stress this every time I can get it out on the air. I suggest our viewers, go to CNN.com/Impact, because that's where you can make a difference. You can help. You can donate blood, money, and time. We call it blood, money and time, because that's what the Red Cross calls it. And it's certainly a good effort -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Absolutely. It's so sad, especially with those, you know, storms coming in, you really have a limited window to kind of grab your stuff. I know people have been donating storage facilities space so that people are able to at least get their things together

BANFIELD: Yes, yes. And in fact --

O'BRIEN: -- and stash them because the minute another storm runs through, you know, everything that was salvageable will be ruined.

All right, Ashleigh, thank you very much. Appreciate the update.

Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, U.S. soldier gets a bill for a two-minute phone call to his wife, costs him $51. $51 for two minutes! We're going to tell you what he's doing about it.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Very nice, very nice. That's off of Amy's play list. That's The Killers, "Read My Mind." Clearly with this crowd I'm not going to get any gospel or any (INAUDIBLE) this morning. I'm going to have to bring it myself.

MCAULIFFE: I've got a little country.

O'BRIEN: You've got a little country. Oh, my goodness.

All right. It's time to "Get Real" this morning. You know, really, almost everyone has a cell phone nowadays. But there's, you know, active duty soldiers usually do not get to carry their cell phone if they're deployed in a war zone or deployed overseas. And so they often have to rely on cell phone -- oh, sorry -- regular, you know, pay phones -- that's the word I was looking for. So this is a story of one soldier. He was in a stopover in Liptitz (ph), Germany. His name is Army Sergeant Richard Quarter. And he used the pay phone in a designated troop lounge, so only place for troops, called his wife. Left a four-second voice mail saying he'd arrived safely, that he missed her and the kids. The bill for the four-second call was, I believe, $51. That's according to the "New York Times," $51.

Sergeant Quarter says there are no rates posted on the phones. You can't use a calling card. You have to use your debit card or a credit card. And the United States Military estimates that tens of thousands of troops pass through Liptitz (ph) each year during those refueling stops.

So he has filed a lawsuit. He's trying to get the fees down. And the company that does it in Germany has been sued before but it's always been tossed for jurisdictional reasons. But that's business --

MCAULIFFE: If I have (ph) a cell phone company or any type of company, I would right now volunteer to offer free for our men and women serving overseas in our Armed Services, free calls. It doesn't cost them anything. They already own the pipe. So it doesn't really cost them.

I understand why you can't have your cell phones because they can implant things on these. They become microphones. I understand that. But if you can't have your cell phones you ought to give them an opportunity to call home.

All these big companies out today, the CEO today ought to offer free service for Armed Services.

O'BRIEN: And then they can shoot it, right, and make their ad showing the woman at home getting the call and then brought to you by phone company --

MCAULIFFE: You would like them to call their wives. You'd like them to call home and talk to their children. It's certainly possible.

LAZIO: It's a central place, as Amy was saying off camera before, that's an advertising for Skype, you know?

CHOZICK: Yes. You go online for free and you can see each other, you know? It really is.

O'BRIEN: Maybe Skype should have --

CHOZICK: Exactly.

MCAULIFFE: Yes.

O'BRIEN: We've solved this problem. Call us.

All right. We've got to take a short break. Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to talk to Carrie Kennedy, she's going to join us live. Looking back 47 years as they head to Alabama to relive Bloody Sunday. She's going to tell us why the new Alabama immigration law -- anti-immigration law is a violation of civil rights.

Plus, if you're having trouble sleeping, not me, I'm dying to sleep, apparently the problem can solve itself just by getting older. That's ridiculous. What do you mean, get older? Just wait until you're 80.

We're going to leave you with Amy's play list because clearly someone in the booth loves Amy. All we're doing is playing Amy today.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Jessie J, "Domino."

We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: This is off of Rick's play list. Bruno mars. You are so much cooler --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Than you thought.

O'BRIEN: Yes, yes, I like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, Republicans can be cool.

O'BRIEN: That was not a political statement at all. But I like the way you take it there immediately. People say it all the time, you like that song? I actually like you now.

Let's get to the headlines this morning. Christine has those. Hi, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Let's go to Syria first where food and medical supplies are getting in and the wounded are now getting out.

The Syrian government giving the Red Cross the green light to enter the besieged city of Homs. Trucks getting closer as we speak.

Meantime, the voice of the Syrian uprising, an activist known as Danny, was able to escape to Lebanon. He told CNN's Anderson Cooper about the regime's brutality in the city of Homs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

"DANNY", SYRIAN ACTIVIST: I actually went back not to become a camera. I went back to join the Free Syrian Army. They did not allow me to join. They say I have no army training. So they told me you've got good English, try and get the news out to the outside world. We want them to know the truth about what's going on. So I just -- I picked up the camera and started shooting me doing reports. Most of the images I remember the first week because -- I wasn't used to seeing pieces of bodies in the street, seeing bodies that I can't say -- I can't even move because the sniper would shoot me if I tried to move the body.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "AC 360": What do you think is going to happen now in Baba Amir?

"DANNY": Well, I what I know what's going to happen now in Baba Amier. The army went into Baba Amir. They will have revenge on the families that live there. They will take out revenge on the families. They will torture women. They will torture kids. They will every single thing they find in the houses.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: At an E.U. summit in Brussels, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Syria must be held accountable for crimes against its people and warn for a day of reckoning for the Assad regime.

Parliamentary elections are going under way in Iran right now. Forty eight million Iranians are eligible to vote and there's a power struggle emerging between Iran's most powerful figure, Supreme Leader Ayatolla Ali Kameni and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran also facing global mounting pressure and sanctions over its nuclear program, 290 parliament seats are up for grabs today in those elections.

And on the subject of Iran, President Obama forced to deal with a heckler over his handling of Iran's nuclear program during a fundraising speech in New York last night. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: None of this changed -- none of this -- nobody has announced a war, young lady, but we appreciate your sentiment. You're jumping the gun a little bit there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: About 900 people paid up to $35,000 each to attend that event meaning about $5 million for the president's re-election campaign. The event was hosted by Russell Simmons and Deepak Chopra.

Your "A.M. House Call" you're not getting older, you're getting more sleep that's what researchers found. They say contrary to popular opinions, older people do not suffer as many sleep problems as younger people.

A telephone survey found that people in their 80s had the fewest complaints about their sleeping problems and the middle age, especially women, reported the most complaints. All right, Apple, it's now one of the most valuable companies at any point in history. Apple cracked the rare $500 billion mark in market value this week. That's half a trillion dollars.

Only Microsoft, ExxonMobil, Cisco, and GE have ever done it before. It's higher, look at it this way, it's higher than the GDP of Poland, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan. What else is Apple worth more than?

Well, there's a blog for that. Things Apple is worth more than on tumbler, how about the entire U.S. aircraft carrier fleet, annual U.S. beef consumption, two entire Apollo space programs, all the gold at the New York Federal Reserve, or maybe all the electricity consumed in the U.S. in a year.

Things that Apple is worth, $544 a share for Apple stock. Wish I bought it at $2.

O'BRIEN: I know, really. There's no would have, could have, should have window at the racetrack as they say, Christine.

ROMANS: Nope.

O'BRIEN: Too bad now.

All right, let's talk this morning about the anniversary of the day that's known as bloody Sunday. Kind of a new fight they're looking at. Forty seven years ago, a civil rights march happened across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

It was a demand for fairness in voter registration and it ended, as you recall, in violence. Police in riot gear attacked the 600 or so marchers. Dozens of people were injured.

Now the man who led the march, Congressman John Lewis, and 20 members of the Kennedy family are going to do it again not just to mark the anniversary, but to fight for voters' rights again. They are challenging that state's controversial immigration law, as well.

Joining me this morning is Kerry Kennedy. She's the daughter, of course, of Robert F. Kennedy, and the president of Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

And also joining me is Congressman John Lewis. He's a Democrat from the state of Georgia. Nice to see you both. Congressman Lewis, I'm going to start with you if I can.

Let's talk a little politics first before we get into the anniversary of bloody Sunday. Newt Gingrich has talked about the stakes coming up in Super Tuesday. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to win Georgia, I think, to be credible in the race.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: All right. That's a short version of a southern strategy. What do you make of this strategy? Is he right?

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: Well, I think it's important that he be able to win his home state, but I'm not going to get involved in the Republican primary. It's their primary. As a Democrat, I wished them well.

O'BRIEN: I wish them well and that's all I'm saying about it. All right, Congressman Lewis, we can move on. We could talk a little bit about the anniversary of the bloody Sunday march.

In a way, you've said that the march is going to change this year because of the changing landscape. What exactly has changed, Congressman?

LEWIS: Well, Selma, the state of Alabama, the south, and the nation, so different than 47 years ago. We got the Voting Rights Act passed and hundreds and thousands and millions of people in the south can register and vote.

But in many parts of America today people are passing voter ID laws, making it difficult for many people to participate in a democratic process. The Vernon Center based in New York has reported that maybe more than 5 million people would be denied the right to participate in a democratic process.

Because of these voter IDs, early voting, making it hard and difficult for young people, minority, seniors and others to vote on Election Day.

O'BRIEN: So Kerry, why don't you explain that to me? I know there are sort of two prongs in this. One is voter ID and also the immigration.

Let's start with voter ID, which would require in the state of Alabama, voter identification. You say it's disproportionally affecting poor people and people of color. Why is that?

KERRY KENNEDY, PRESIDENT, ROBERT F. KENNEDY CENTER FOR JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Well, you know, this was legislation passed in order to get people to self deport. And it's really to harass and terrify people into leaving the state of Alabama and it's had terrible, terrible consequences.

They are not only going to lose up to six percent of their GDP because of job loss. They're going to lose up to 140,000 jobs in Alabama. This is legislation that's opposed by the Homebuilders Association, by the Chamber of Commerce, and by human rights groups.

And it's had awful consequences to the people who live there. The Southern Poverty Law Center has set up a hotline to hear complaints about this legislation. Already in the last five months, they've already gotten 5,000 complaints and questions about it. The consequences are terrible.

One family, for instance, was denied water into their house for 40 days because their papers weren't in order. At a local pep rally at a high school, a bunch of students were heckled and yelled at, Mexicans to the back, Mexicans to the back.

And sadly, a group of young children got up and left the front of the room and went to the back. You know, Rosa Parks would not get to the back of the bus and this is going --

O'BRIEN: Let me ask the last question of Congressman Lewis.

KENNEDY: Go ahead.

O'BRIEN: Because a lot of what Kerry is describing it sounds like to some degree with a different population, obviously 47 years ago, you're focused on African-Americans and now you're moving to a focus on Latinos and people in poverty. Do you feel sometimes like you're marching for the same thing all these many years ago?

LEWIS: I feel like we're still marching and it's necessary to march again. It is not right. It's not fair. It's unjust to treat the Latino population or any population the way people are being treated.

In the state of Alabama and in so many other states in America, Hispanics, Latinos live in constant fear. These laws are bad. They are bad for our fellow human beings.

I don't think there's any such thing as an illegal human being. We all are legal. People must be treated with a sense of dignity. We must respect the dignity and the worth of every human being.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Anniversary of bloody Sunday. Thank you both for joining me this morning. I appreciate your time.

LEWIS: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, an American family that's living in Syria says their 16-year-old son has been kidnapped. The young man's brother is going to join us live to talk about what they're hoping to do to try to rescue this young man.

And "Game Change," the movie comes out next week. It's about McCain and Palin during the election of 2008. Well, now Sarah Palin is speaking out about what she thinks about the movie. We leave you with Terry's play list, the Beatles, "Can't Buy Me Love."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: A couple of quick headlines for you. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Canada ahead of Monday's much anticipated meeting with President Obama in Washington. There may not be many smiles. A showdown looming with the president over how to handle Iran, at the top of the two leaders' agenda is Iran's nuclear ambitions and whether Israel would seek U.S. help in the event of a surprise attack on Iran.

Britain's Prince Harry has arrived in the Caribbean Island of Belize. It's the first stop of his visit on behalf of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee. Harry also will visit the Bahamas, Jamaica and Brazil -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much.

As unrest rages in Syria, the American family of a teenager who is living there says that the 16-year-old boy has been kidnapped. They say he was taken by Syrian military intelligence four days ago. His name is Haddi El Shama and he's an American citizen. He's been living with his mother in Damascus since he was three years old and attending a private school there. The State Department says they are aware of the situation and are working to confirm the report.

Joining me this morning from Toledo, Ohio, are Haddi's brothers, Hamza and Adnan el Shama.

Nice to see you gentlemen. Thank you for talking with us.

I want to begin with you, Hamza, first.

Tell me about the details you know out of Syria regarding your brother.

HAMZA EL SHAMA, BROTHER OF HADDI EL SHAMA: OK. Currently, it's been really sketchy, the information. What we do know is on Monday, the 27th, when he was walking with a couple of his friends to a cell phone store, he was basically abducted by -- by, you know, people in an unmarked vehicle, plain-clothed individuals. And apparently, they put him in the vehicle and just, you know, sped away. And that's all we know currently. It's just been --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Adnan, why do you think it's been Syrian military intelligence that has grabbed your brother?

ADNAN EL SHAMA, BROTHER OF HADDI EL SHAMA: Based on the sources that we have in Syria. That's where -- that's where we're getting all of our information at the time. Because it's very difficult to actually contact Syrian military, it's -- the sources we have there are the only things that are helping us at the time.

O'BRIEN: You created a Facebook page, which has a petition on the page. I know that you've had a chance to talk to your Congress person. What are you trying to get done? What do you want right now?

ADNAN EL SHAMA: Awareness. I mean, that's our number one priority. Before the awareness, his safety. We'd like for him to be unharmed and return home safely. That's our number one priority. But through this petition and Facebook page we're trying to create awareness so we can send it to the State Department so that we can get this resolved as quickly as possible.

O'BRIEN: He's 16 years old. He's a boy. Have you had any word from him over the last four days, anything at all?

HAMZA EL SHAMA: No, not at all. That's what worries us. We're getting little information at this point. The uncertainty is just what is eating at us. We're just -- we're not sure how he's doing, where he is. And like I said, it's almost impossible to get any information on it. What we do want at this point is the State Department to take a more active role in this situation to ensure that he, you know, he comes home safely. We need to find out exactly where he is, make sure that he is unharmed, and that they are going to get him released from custody on an unconditional basis.

O'BRIEN: How about in Syria? What's his mom doing to try to reach out and help? Obviously, the violence is a story we report on every single day out of Syria.

HAMZA EL SHAMA: Yes, at this point, it's difficult. She's doing her best. She's trying to talk to people out there. But they can't give any details presently. She was able to talk to security personnel that did admit that they do have him in custody. But they would not notify her of exactly where he was, whether he's been harmed or when they will actually release him.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: So you know that he is in custody, which I guess is a first confirmation.

Did you ever have conversations with his mom about having -- I know had been had been living in Damascus for -- since a baby, basically. Any conversation with the violence spiraling out of control in Syria about getting him out and sending him to his relatives in the United States since he's an American citizen?

HAMZA EL SHAMA: Yes, we talked about it. It just -- you know, she's very near and dear to him. And, you know, she wanted to keep him close by. I do live and work in Kuwait currently, and I wanted to bring him there to visit for a few weeks, just until I thought things would settle down there. You know, we didn't anticipate it spiraling out of control so quickly. And so systematically, it's just -- I think it's reached a threshold of, you know, past the point of no return.

O'BRIEN: Well, we wish you the very best of luck with finding your brother and tracking down more information and getting him out.

Hamzah and Adnan el Shama, thank you for being with us and being with us. We will follow it as well. Appreciate it.

HAMZA EL SHAMA: Thank you.

ADNAN EL SHAMA: Thank you for having us. O'BRIEN: Family members.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to talk about a new movie. It's called "Game Change." Getting lots of buzz. It chronicles really the arguments between McCain and Palin during the election of 2008. Sarah Palin is speaking out about what she thinks of this movie. We'll get to that straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: The movie "Game Change" is going to debut on our sister network, HLN, on Sunday, March 10th. It's based the on the book that chronicles the tension, some of it rumored, some of it very overt between John McCain and Sarah Palin in the 2008 election.

Now, Sarah Palin is responding. Her super PAC released this video. It's called "Fact Change." Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Introducing you to the next vice president of the United States, Governor Sarah Palin in the great state of Alaska.

(APPLAUSE)

SARAH PALIN, (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR & FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is Sarah.

Well, I'm not a member of the permanent political establishment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A feisty, strong, tough, straight-talking governor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That is their response to it. She obviously is not particularly happy about this movie. It's been very interesting to see though.

Have you seen the movie yet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I did.

O'BRIEN: I have not seen it yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Julianne Moore is amazing, I have to say.

O'BRIEN: I think that's one of the biggest issues in combating the movie is that Julianne Moore is so dead on in the role, because sometimes they do these made-for-TV movies and they actually -- you have to really imagine hard the character, but not in this case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I wonder if Sarah Palin has seen it. It's pretty damning just seeing the trailer. I wonder if she's seen the movie. O'BRIEN: I don't know. The people who did the movie said that they were able to really work off of her own book. And every time that they had a conflict in terms of what the book said and then what ads were saying and then sort of what the record showed in terms of reporters who were following both McCain and Palin around, they had to figure out how are they going to handle those discrepancies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. In terms of reporters, the movie shows her not talking to them or them protecting her not wanting her to talk to them. Yes, there are some pretty explosive things in the movie. In the movie, she doesn't know what the Fed is. There's things like that that I'm sure she would disagree with. She thinks the queen is running England.

O'BRIEN: It's not a flattering -- to say it's not flattering is kind of a tremendously huge understatement. I wonder if she's used to it. You guys, were at the point of barb. Do you get used to it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think I ever totally got used to it. Your skin gets thick and you deal with it. I don't think you love it when someone is mischaracterizing you if you think that's what the case is. It's very difficult when somebody in the media is trying to create an image of you or has created an image of you to change it which is what she's doing with this other video combating one hot medium video with another hot medium video.

O'BRIEN: Seems like people are doing that now more. They can really create their own movies and respond in a way that 10 years ago, even five years ago you weren't able to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't have the channels before. Right now, with digital media, you do have the ability in a relatively low cost way to get out and answer.

LENNY MCALLISTER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I tell young people, go into politics, great profession, you can change things. You have to have a thick skin and you can't worry about what people say about you. Now with the advent of so many bloggers out there and so much information, you can't react to it all. You go out and do what you think is best. People may say things about you that may not be true. If it's going to bother you, this is not the business for you.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: That's like being a reporter at CNN. Got to have thick skin.

(LAUGHTER)

MCALLISTER: Keep moving forward. Here's my goal, here's what I'm going to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to have Rhinoceros skin, as --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eleanor Roosevelt saying --

(CROSSTALK)

MCALLISTER: A lot of bows and arrows.

O'BRIEN: It hasn't changed much at all in some ways.

All right, next week, next Wednesday, the director of "Game Change" will join us. His name Jay Roach and he'll be here to talk about that movie.

Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, we're going to remember conservative blogger, Andrew Breitbart, how he spent the final hours of his life. His good friend, Ann Coulter, will talk to us about his work, life

Also, students are back in class at Chardon High School. It's the first time since Monday's shooting. We'll take you there, live.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We have a short break and we're back in a moment.

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