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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Rick Santorum Wins Alabama and Mississippi Primaries; Newt Gingrich Stays in Presidential Race; Congressman Proposes Cutting Off Pay To Congress for Not Passing a Budget; Jury Deliberations In Rutgers Case; Flight Attendant Subdued On Flight; Representative Bachus Wins Alabama Primary; Big Markets Rally; Cheney Cancels Canadian Trip; "Monday Mornings": Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Debut Novel Hits Bookshelves; Gupta's Novel To Hit Small Screen; "We're Going To Win This Nomination"; Santorum Wins Alabama and Mississippi; Romney's Third Place Showing

Aired March 14, 2012 - 06:59   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: And thank you very much, ladies. Our STARTING POINT this morning is winning Dixie. A Rick Santorum sweep in the south makes things lot more interesting this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We did it again.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Britney Spears said that, oops, we did it again. He's got the momentum on his side, but he doesn't have the money, and he doesn't have the math. Those two things still belong to Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Santorum is at the desperate end of his campaign and is trying, in some way, to boost his prospects.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: We're going to talk about that this morning.

Plus, touching down at a tense time. Defense secretary, Leon Panetta, arrives in Afghanistan as new fury erupts over the massacre of women and children by American soldier.

And how about this? No budget, no pay. There's a proposed bill that would freeze paychecks from Congress if they don't take action. Bipartisan support is there, but does that bill have a chance? We'll talk about that. It's Wednesday, March 14th, and "Starting Point" begins right now.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

O'BRIEN: That's "Mustang Sally," the Commitments off of Catherine Crier's play list. She's joining us. She's the former judge and the author of a new book called "Patriot Acts" and an award winning journalist as well. Nice to have you. Thanks for being with our panel.

Then you have old hands with us this morning. Brett O'Donnell is back. He advised Mitt Romney on the presidential primary debates and Michele Bachmann as well. He's back. We love talking politics. Will Cain is a contributor to CNN and contributor to theblaze.com. Nice to have you as well. The table has gotten bigger.

WILL CAIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I feel far away.

O'BRIEN: But close in my heart, Will.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: We get right to our STARTING POINT this morning, which is the race and what happened. It could have gone any way. Literally, we were saying this would go any way. It was a very tighten race, but in the end it was former senator Rick Santorum who came out with two big wins last night. He claims narrow victories in Alabama and Mississippi. Mitt Romney won Hawaii and the American Samoas. Santorum using those wins to push himself as the true conservative option.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will compete everywhere. The time is now for conservatives to pull together. The time is now to make sure, to make sure that we have the best chance to win this election. And the best chance to win this election is to nominate a conservative to go up against Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Yes, but the math doesn't work out. In the race for delegates, Santorum still trails Mitt Romney by, you know, literally half. Gingrich is in third place with 139 delegates. Despite not taking home a single win last night, he is not taking his sights off of Tampa. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've emphasize going to Tampa because one of the things tonight proved is that the elite media's effort to convince the nation that Mitt Romney is inevitable just collapsed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Vince Haley is the deputy campaign manager for Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign. It's nice to have you. Thank you for joining us. Welcome to our panel this morning. We'll get going with your analysis of the results. You had actually looked like you were doing well in the polls and it didn't go your way. What happened?

VINCE HALEY, DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER, GINGRICH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, we worked very hard to win those states. We would have preferred to come out on top but congratulations to Rick Santorum. It was a close race. It was only a couple of points but doesn't change the underlying dynamic of this race. That is a three- person race.

What comes away with last night's results and last several campaign results is that Mitt Romney cannot force his nomination. Nobody is going to have the math to win this nomination before the convention in Tampa and I think Mitt Romney is facing a prospect that he's going to go to a convention where two out of three delegates want a conservative to lead a conservative party. And a Massachusetts moderate is not going to have, in that situation, a great case to make to lead a conservative party.

O'BRIEN: Brett, is that accurate?

BRETT O'DONNELL, ADVISED MITT ROMNEY ON PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY DEBATES: No, he can reach the 1,144 that he needs before the convention. I guess my question is last night speaker Gingrich said he was happy with second place, but in this race you got to win to justify going on. I wonder how the Gingrich campaign makes hay out of two-second -- or second place finishes last year.

O'BRIEN: What is the strategy there?

HALEY: We have a three-person dynamic. This is not foray again in 1976. We have a three-way race. We have a different dynamic. When people come to realize that Mitt Romney is not going to be able to win this thing were before the convention, people are going to want to have a debate in the conservative room in the party between Gingrich and Santorum.

Santorum was in leadership in the Senate in 2001-2006. He was part of the reason that the Republican Party had a worst election defeat since Watergate in 2006. He set the stage for Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and ultimately the election of Barack Obama. He took the surpluses that the Gingrich budgets had created, the balanced budgets, and turned them into deficits. It was the big spending in the 2000s and it hurt the Republican party. In fact, some of Santorum's strongest supporters in 2006 saying the Washington Republican, good riddance. So he's coming back to the Republican Party asking for a mulligan.

CAIN: Soledad, you asked what's the strategy. We heard it now from Vince. We heard it from Newt Gingrich last night. In the paper this morning there's their Chairman Bob Walker saying the goal is to deny Romney the election. If that is the goal, that you recognize you can't get to the number of delegates need to win the nomination and your goal is to become just to deny Mitt Romney that number, what do you hope happens at the convention? What is your goal in that hall at the convention? HALEY: The goal, the strategy is to win.

CAIN: Do you think you can win a brokered convention? You go in that hall and you win a brokered to convention?

HALEY: We have a long way to go until the end of June. A big choice now for which the Republican Party stands. The candidate who makes the best change, the person who can change Washington and the person who finishes strong is going to win this election. You have to convince the candidate. You have to be Barack Obama and you are to bring change in Washington. Newt Gingrich is the only candidate in this race who has demonstrated he can change Washington. Rick Santorum Republicans had the worst election defeat since Watergate in 2006. They have big spending records, imbalanced budgets, increased the national deficit 12 percent. That's a big debate in this party.

O'BRIEN: I see it as two fronts. Either the role is to be a spoiler, just like sure that Mitt Romney does not win, or the role is to win the brokered convention. Is that what you're saying? Do you think that Newt Gingrich will?

HALEY: It's a dynamic.

O'BRIEN: It's a yes or no question. Help me.

(LAUGHTER)

HALEY: You can win a debate in the course of this campaign and if you starting to collect that Newt Gingrich is the best candidate to change Washington, you're going to have momentum and you're going go so the convention with a -- with quite a number of delegates and the national majority behind you to win that convention.

O'BRIEN: Catherine Crier.

CATHERINE CRIER, AUTHOR, "PATRIOT ACTS": Catherine Crier here. There was a comment that Gingrich made that I was intrigued by. That is the possibility of pairing between Gingrich and Santorum and maybe we declare this early on and rally those conservatives. But he even suggested, oh, we can argue about who is on top later on. It's hard for me to imagine Gingrich conceding that position. But is that actually a suggestion that Gingrich would consider a second spot if Santorum would bring him onboard to rally the conservatives against Romney?

HALEY: March 24th is Louisiana. That's at the halfway point of this campaign. It is so premature to talk in any way like this. The Republican Party, the voters of the Republican Party are making -- they're looking at delegates -- excuse me, they're looking at candidates and the case for change. We're to the going to have an endless discussion for the delegate math in the next six weeks.

O'BRIEN: No, I think we might, actually.

(LAUGHTER) HALEY: No, the best case for change. And for Republican voters and conservative voters they want to know who has the best chance for change. That's clearly Newt Gingrich in this race.

O'BRIEN: We're crunching the numbers on the dell gaits and at this point it is not in your favor and the math doesn't seem to work out in your favor as well. Thank you.

HALEY: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Let get to other headlines making news. Christine Romans has those for us. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. A developing story in northern Japan. They're under a tsunami watch after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake. It happened in the same region that was hit just over a year ago triggering a nuclear disaster at Fukushima. There are no immediate reports of damage. The epicenter of the quake was located in the Pacific Ocean. A tsunami warning for the region has been issued with the possibility of waves approaching two feet.

New overnight, a roadside bomb exploding in Afghanistan killing eight people as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrives in the same province unannounced to try to diffuse a crisis. The country erupting in fury over a U.S. soldier's massacre of mostly women and children and civilians.

The questions being asked this morning, was that accused soldier drunk when we went on that rampage? Military investigators now awaiting toxicology results to determine whether alcohol might have played a role in the attack that killed 16 Afghan civilians. Officials say alcohol was found in the suspected soldier's living quarters.

The prime minister of Belgium is calling a deadly bus accident in Switzerland a tragic day for his country as 28 people, most of them children, were killed when a bus they were riding in slammed into a tunnel wall in Switzerland. The 46 children and six adults were returning from a school ski trip. Belgium used two military planes to take parents to see their injured kids. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama are holding high level talks today. They're expected to discuss the upcoming NATO and Iran and the global economy on the agenda. Tonight they will attend a state dinner honor of the British leader. Prime Minister Cameron got a chance to experience something uniquely American last night, a NCAA basketball game, complete with hot dogs. President Obama bringing the British leader to Ohio for a review. Mr. Cameron promising to return the favor someday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Minister Cameron, this is your first time.

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Very first time at a basketball game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you make of the experience so far?

CAMERON: I'm enjoying it. It's pretty fast and furious. It's hard to follow exactly who has done what wrong.

O'BRIEN: Was our president helping?

CAMERON: He's giving me tips. He's helping me fill out my bracket.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And he's going to teach me cricket, because I don't understand what's going on with that game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: The president's pick for the final four. Kentucky, Ohio State, Missouri, and North Carolina.

O'BRIEN: I don't really get basketball, you don't really get cricket. We can come together. Oh, my goodness. All right, Christine, thank you.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, no budget, no pay. That's a bill that could force members of Congress to give up their paychecks if they don't do their jobs. We're going to talk to the bipartisan team that's behind it.

Also our "Get Real" this morning. Who exactly invited these guys? A band shocks a school assembly on bullying with an anti- gay message, freaking out the principal and everybody else. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: That's Alison Krauss, "When You Say Nothing At All." That's Congressman's Jim Cooper's playlist, joining us this morning. You can see our entire play list on our Web site at CNN.com/startingpoint. Nothing has been played of mine yet.

If you talk about Congress people, $174,000 a year is what you get as a paycheck. It's minimum that you make if you work in Congress. That's a time when congress' approval rating among American is at an all-time low. I believe it's at nine percent. It was 10 percent, down to nine percent now. This morning though we are hearing there are hearings in Congress to change that, no budget no, pay bill. It cuts off paychecks for members of Congress if they can't pass a budget by the fiscal end of the year. They haven't passed a budget since 2009. Latest idea from the group called No Labels and has bipartisan par bipartisan support.

The Democratic representative from Tennessee Jim Cooper proposed the House version bill. He and Tom Davis, who is a former Republican Congressman from Virginia, are co-founders of No Labels. They're going or testifying at a hearing today.

Good morning. Congressman Davis, nice to see you. You had a chance to come visit with us. I know what is behind the bill is a frustration. And I'll get to that in a moment. First, I want you to walk me through the specifics of the bill that's proposed.

REP. JIM COOPER, (D) TENNESSEE: All we do is to say that Congress has to pass its budgets and appropriation bills on time. And on time means by the beginning at fiscal year which is October 1st every year. Congress has largely failed to do this in the past. We think it's high time that Congress did its job this year.

O'BRIEN: Or what?

COOPER: Or Congress would not be paid. And the signs are that Congress could, you know, be a few days late or even a week late but I think eventually Congress would do the job on time and Congress would want to get paid.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Davis, you have cosponsors, 34 in the house, 36 in the Senate. Several hundred people have a vested interest in the Bill who may not be so inclined to sign on. What's the likelihood a Bill leak this would pass?

TOM DAVIS, (R) FORMER VIRGINIA CONGRESSMAN: It's got a hearing in the Senate. I suspect there will be hearings in the house at this point. Look, the key here -- Congress has not passed the appropriation bills on time since 1996. That means the government agencies can't start doing their work because they didn't know what budget they're going to have for the year. It means contracts aren't let, people aren't hired, innovations don't take place. So this is borne out of frustration.

The Senate passed a resolution last year that said if there was a shutdown senators wouldn't get paid. I think there's a frustration among the members that they want to get this stuff done. They just want been able to do it. A year ago it was May before you got the appropriation bills done for a fiscal year that started October 1.

O'BRIEN: Catherine, is this legal?

CRIER: Sure. Governors have done this and it's occurred in state houses. Absolutely, the legislature should do it and they should do other things this organization is talking about. The notion that we're not getting a five-day workweek, the notion these guys can show up on a Tuesday afternoon and go home on the Thursday afternoon and get the kind of recesses they get --

O'BRIEN: You're talking about insider trading? CRIER: Insider trading and we won't bet into the manipulation of rules and the processes but I think this is a great step. If you can get a bipartisan passage of this, that would be absolutely extraordinary. But we've got to do something because they're stalemating the entire process.

O'BRIEN: Ultimately I'm sure this is about frustration and trying to stave off the public frustration with this system. Is internally frustration in Congress as well? You must be I'm embarrassed and horrified by those low approval numbers, right?

COOPER: What this bill is about is about aligning interests. Today there are some members of Congress who benefit from these delays. We want to make sure that no one benefits.

O'BRIEN: But do they benefit?

COOPER: Some of them get publicity and publicity in politics is like gold. Some are able to favor certain special interests without having a cut taking place as soon as it would have. There are other ways to manipulate our system. Everyone back home understands if you don't do the work, you can't get people.

O'BRIEN: The medium net worth of a Congressperson is just under a million dollars. Do you think really ultimately withholding a salary at the end of the day is going to be a huge disincentive to sit around and basically run to open mikes and run to press conferences?

DAVIS: I've been out for three years. Retired, undefeated, unindicted. Just happy to get --

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: We love when you say that, by the way.

DAVIS: But there's tremendous frustration among rank- and-file members who come to Washington to get things done only to find out they don't get the choices they want on this. I think the theory behind this is, if the members are saying let's get on time, they will prevail on the leaders to get the votes up in a timely manner.

O'DONNELL: Why not add the word "balanced" to the board budget, too. And then you get your pay.

CAIN: Baby steps. Baby steps.

O'BRIEN: Brett, don't go crazy. All right, nice to see you. We're going to follow up and see how this goes when you do your testifying today.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Dick Cheney is not going to be visiting Canada any time soon. He says it's too dangerous. We'll tell you why he says that. But our "Get Real," a band blindsides a school where they've been invited by an assembly that went a little bit off the rails. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: OK. Our "Get Real" this morning could also be called welcome to crazy town. It's about a high school assembly that kind of went off the rails. Here's a little bit of how it went.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disney movies, OK? They used him in a lot of sound tracks. How many of you have seen "The Lion King." So you know Elton John. This is moral standard of little kids. Influence our kids. There's nothing wrong with going to bed with somebody of your own sex. I think people should be free with sex. They should draw the line with goats. That is where they stop. Is that a good moral standard? Would you allow your son or daughter to spend the night at Elton's house?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Well, it goes on from there. This is an assembly that was supposed to be about bullying and making good choices at an Iowa high school. Kind of spiraled into -- they talk about goats he was talking about there, and gay bashing. The school invited a band Junkyard Prophet, part of a Minnesota nonprofit group called You Can Run but You Cannot Hide. It promotes itself as Christian ministry. It's actually also listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Anyway, the frontman you heard there, he was telling the kids that gay men die by the age of 42. Divided the students up into girls and boys, told the girls that, quote, they'll have on their wedding dresses if they're not virgins before marriage, and your kid has been sent to the school assembly had pictures of aborted fetuses, the band was showing the kids, the students who walked out were basically shouted at. And the superintendent apologized saying that this was not the plan, that the group was supposed to be talking about bullying and respecting people.

And now he has a second -- a second assembly where they basically said they had to talk to the kids and, you know, making counseling available actually and try to get back the money from the band which you heard very little playing and lots of just weirdness. If I were a parent an a bandied anything other than like get up and give --

CRIER: Sing a song.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Right, you're right. I believe the limit should go, here's a song, here's another, time for gym class, time to go. I -- I -- CRIER: I'm very uncomfortable with this. I don't care what side of the fence you're on. It's not an appropriate place. That's not what you do. And it's much more that sense that we are so divided, that a group would even think about coming in and a large portion accept this as an appropriate conversation in a classroom.

O'BRIEN: You know what's very strange, too, is there are obviously administrators that in the end they thought it was strange. No one jumped up and said, whoa, whoa, stop, hello. Assembly dismissed. That is what I thought it was a little bit strange, like it kind of just went on. Yes. Less worrisome about the message per se, if you're a parent and that's the message you want to deliver to your kid, absolutely.

CRIER: But an anti-bullying message, wouldn't it be nice to vet the group and have an idea of what they're going to say.

O'BRIEN: The superintendent said he was very surprised. He said, the other schools did not mention this.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, earlier this week we told about that flight attendant screaming about a plane crash, apparently having a mental breakdown on the job. Now the 911 tapes are out. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like they're physically restraining a flight attendant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, they're physically restraining a flight attendant?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, she's lost it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Yes, no truer words were ever spoken. We're going to have more about those tapes coming up this morning.

And Rick Santorum riding high after sweeping the deep south. We're going to ask his campaign why they think it's time from Newt Gingrich to get out of the way.

We leave you with Brett's play list, Chicago. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: That's "Island in the Sun" by Weezer, Dr. Sanjay Gupta's play list. He's going to be joining in just a couple of moments.

First, we want to get some headlines. Christine has those for us. Hi, Christine. CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. The hate crime and spying case against a former Rutgers student, it could be wrapped by the end of this week.

Jury deliberations begin today in the trial of Dharun Ravi accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi's intimate encounter with another man. If convicted, Ravi could face up to 10 years in prison.

Just released 911 calls reveal the chaos on board an American Airlines flight last week when a flight attendant snapped.

She apparently suffered some sort of mental breakdown, screaming about 9/11 and plane crashing. It happened as American Flight 2332 was taxiing for takeoff in Dallas. Several passengers made emergency calls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: It looks like they're physically restraining a flight attendant.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: OK, they're physically restraining a flight attendant?

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Yes. She's lost it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: None of the passengers were hurt. No charges have been filed against the flight attendant. One of her colleagues told police, the woman is bipolar and had not taken her medication.

Well, most of the attention was focused on the Republican presidential primary contest in Alabama there were a bunch of low level offices up for grabs.

Powerful congressional chairman, 10-term incumbent, Spencer Bacchus beat his three challengers and won the Republican nomination by a comfortable margin despite being slammed with a slew of negative ads exploiting an ethics investigation that he's under for insider trading.

"Minding Your Business," U.S. stock futures are higher this morning after a big stock market rally yesterday. The Dow closed well above 13,000, the highest since 2007. The fed says the economy is recovering and it also released the results of key stress tests on the banks. All but four banks passed those tests.

Don't expect to see former Vice President Dick Cheney in Canada any time soon. His security people think Canada is too dangerous. When he was vice president, of course, Cheney had no problem visiting troops in war zones like Iraq.

But Cheney and his daughter canceled an appearance in Toronto next month. Security advisers say their personal safety is at risk from protesters who called Dick Cheney a war criminal. Riot police were called when Cheney visited Vancouver in September and the protesters there, Soledad, turned violent.

O'BRIEN: You wouldn't want to go. All right, Christine, thank you very much.

So there are five doctors who meet every Monday morning at Chelsea General Hospital to talk about their mistakes. Mistakes like operating on the wrong side of a brain or mistakes like not checking labs.

It all sounds like the making of a good medical drama and it actually is. Chelsea General is a fictional hospital. CNN Dr. Sanjay Gupta has written his first novel. It's called "Monday Mornings." It's on shelves now.

It's nice to have you, big party last night celebrating your book release.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Even got my parents to come. It's a party.

O'BRIEN: I know and they're hugely proud of you. So it's called "Monday Morning" because this is when the five doctors meet. Is this completely fictional or is this sort of something that you experience as a doctor?

GUPTA: No, that type of meeting where it's a doctors' only sort of meeting. No lawyers. No administrators invited, it does happen in most hospitals around the country certainly just about every teaching hospital and most private hospitals as well.

It's sort of a quality assurance conference. This idea that look, this isn't about punitive things, but if you made a mistake, I want to be able to talk to you about that so that you don't make that mistake again, but also nobody else listening in the room is a mistake as well.

O'BRIEN: Is that why you did a fictionalized account because you really couldn't do it as true lives, true stories?

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, I think the point for me was, you know, we talk about mistakes a lot. What happens after a mistake? What is the machinery that sort of goes into place?

I thought it to be as honest as I possibly could. I thought, you know, fiction would be better. It wasn't about implicating particular doctors or hospitals. It's about showing people the side of medicine that I think very few people get to see.

O'BRIEN: So some people don't realize that you do surgery. You're a brain surgeon. It's not brain surgery. It is, actually, literally, technically.

GUPTA: I've never heard of that joke. O'BRIEN: Only ten zillion times. And then of course, you are a correspondent and of course, you run around the world covering disasters.

GUPTA: With you.

O'BRIEN: So what was your -- how did you do this? Like physically, literally, do you write for an hour every morning? Do you --

GUPTA: No, I didn't for this. A lot of it was on plane rides. You know, when you saw me typing on the keyboard --

O'BRIEN: No, I thought it was work. Your other gig.

GUPTA: I think fiction can be cathartic sometimes, a little bit fun to do, but there were weekends, plane rides, and evenings. One time I wrote for over a bench straight.

You know I got them involved, you know, sort of in the process, but I one time wrote for over a day straight because it was all sort of there and I just sort of tried to put it down as quickly as possible.

O'BRIEN: So we have some pictures from your book party last night but, you know, got great reviews on the book so far. Look, there's us.

GUPTA: Hope my wife is not watching.

O'BRIEN: I'm in a lot of those pictures with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

GUPTA: What is that?

O'BRIEN: I wrote a book. But you are actually turning this book is in the early stages of possibly turning into a TV series.

GUPTA: You know, David Kelly, terrific guy, terrific writer. You know, he's writing a pilot that's actually being filmed now, which is very exciting.

O'BRIEN: Name some of the stars who will be in it?

GUPTA: Jaime Bamber, Jennifer Finnegan, Alfred Molina, it's a really amazing --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sanjay Gupta?

GUPTA: No. No. So it's fun. You know, I think he really sort of gets the concept of what we're trying to do with the book. So, you know, we'll see. As you know, you're a television person, there are about 1,000 steps between now and everything on the air, but it's a fun process.

O'BRIEN: So you have written some books that are nonfiction as well. What do you like better? GUPTA: You know, in the beginning, when you're sort crafting the whole outline and thinking about everything, I think fiction can be more challenging because you have to create the characters and the arks and all of that.

But once you start writing, you don't have to source everything. It's made up. With nonfiction, you know, I think the organization is easier because you have an idea. But then the sourcing and everything, reading all the current papers, updating the book as things comes out, it's harder.

O'BRIEN: I can totally see Sanjay going completely Hollywood.

CATHERINE CRIER, AUTHOR, "PATRIOT ACTS": Can I ask a substantive question about the book? Sort of meaty stuff. A lot of times we see studies that report about 100,000 deaths a year from avoidable medical errors in hospitals. When I was doing research on the issue 18 months ago, I was finding studies upwards of half a million.

GUPTA: Yes.

CRIER: Where is the -- we don't -- you can find the studies though.

GUPTA: The 100,000 number came from an IOM, Institute of Medicine.

CRIER: It's been around a long time.

GUPTA: Right. At that time, it was thought this was just not full reporting and there will be more reporting as people started talking about this more openly. It's a really hard number to come by, Catherine.

Some of the stuff is, first of all, what exactly is a mistake. If somebody makes a judgment mistake, is that a mistake of not checking the labs? Is that a mistake? There are obvious ones.

If you operate on the wrong side of the brain like Soledad mentioned. There are all sorts of different qualitative mistakes as well. But I think the number is pretty high for, you know, 200,000, 300,000 and then there are mistakes of, for example, medication errors.

I got a decimal point off, that's an obvious error. So it becomes hard and they start to really parse it down and define what a mistake is.

O'BRIEN: I think Dr. Catherine Crier in the TV version of this can lurk. Have your people call me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Want to know if the stories are true and names have been changed to protect the innocent?

GUPTA: That's a good question.

O'BRIEN: The lawyer -- refer back to the lawyer on that one.

All right, Sanjay, nice to see you. The book is called "Monday Mornings." Go out and buy it right now or download it on Amazon.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Rick Santorum sweeps Alabama and Mississippi and says the numbers do add up for him to win nomination. We are going to crunch some of those numbers and see if that's right. Santorum's senior strategist will joins us live next.

And also, remember, we were talking about that homeless hot spot stunt at South by Southwest using homeless people literally as internet hub. Now, the man behind the idea is responding to the critics. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

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O'BRIEN: I love this song. It's "How to Save a Life" by the Fray. That is John Brabender's play list. He's a senior strategist for the Rick Santorum campaign.

And of course, Rick Santorum picking up some serious political momentum after he won a pair of important primaries last night. He beat both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in Alabama and in Mississippi.

Mitt Romney, however, claimed Hawaii and the American Samoa's. Santorum's victories now setting up important showdowns in Missouri and Puerto Rico this weekend and then Illinois next week. Santorum says he is going to win it all. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We want to make sure that everybody knows we're campaigning everywhere there are delegates because we are going to win this nomination before that convention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: John Brabender joins us now. He's in Washington, D.C. Congratulations to you. The polls really were not in your favor and in fact, I got a sense everybody was tamping down expectations leading up to these two races and then you won. What happened?

JOHN BRABENDER, SENIOR STRATEGIST, SANTORUM PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Yes, I mean, everybody thought I think Romney was going to win Mississippi and everybody thought Gingrich was going to win Alabama and Rick Santorum won both of them coming off the heels of winning Kansas on Saturday.

So it's an exciting time for the campaign and I think Rick Santorum said it best that a lot of average Americans are showing people the pollsters don't know as well as they do. And so it was a pretty big upset last night and certainly gives the campaign a tremendous amount of momentum.

O'BRIEN: But we just played a clip of what he said. Let's cue that up again because what he said about the math was that he can win the delegates before it gets to Tampa. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: We want to make sure that everybody knows we're campaigning everywhere there are delegates because we are going to win this nomination before that convention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Brett, does the math work on that?

O'DONNELL: Well, I think it's tough but I'd be interested to hear John's case. Earlier in the week there are delegate strategists that said that they would get to the convention and win on a second ballot.

O'BRIEN: : Right.

O'DONNELL: But, John, I'd be interested to hear your take now after last night's victory, it's a good night, but what's the -- what's the path forward for the delegate math?

O'BRIEN: What's the math? Yes.

JOHN BRABENDER, SENIOR STRATEGIST, SANTORUM PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, yes, well, frankly, there's two paths. One is, if we can get Tea Party supporters and conservatives to rally and unite behind one candidate, which we believe Rick Santorum has earned to be that candidate, then you can have states coming down the road where you can have massive delegate wins. For example, Texas is a good example. It's winner-take-all by congressional districts. So if you have a big night in Texas you can get a whole mess of delegates.

(CROSSTALK)

O'DONNELL: But doesn't that depend on getting Gingrich out of the race?

O'BRIEN: Yes, I was going to say. But let him get to his second point because that's one strategy, right? You said you had two.

BRABENDER: The second is that Mitt Romney has the problem that he's having trouble figuring out how to get to the 1144 number. He even said in his own memorandum that he has to win approximately 50 percent of all the delegates that are out there to get there. The problem is he's not -- like last night was another example where he did not win 50 percent. On Saturday he did not win 50 percent. Santorum won more.

So by his math, he has trouble as well getting to the 1144. And so many of these delegates are not bound at this moment. Many of them can switch who they go for. Generally speaking the ones that switch will go from a conservative candidate that they might have backed earlier and go towards another conservative so --

O'BRIEN: And all of that depends on Newt Gingrich getting out of the race which sounds incredibly unlikely. Every single time he's asked he sounds more enthusiastic about staying into Tampa.

BRABENDER: You know, look, I think he's had a real tough go of it of recent. People know that. Rick Santorum came right into Newt Gingrich's backyard for all practical purposes and wins by about five points in Alabama. And you are seeing a lot of people, saying, look, even if Newt doesn't get out, that's a -- that's a personal decision for Newt. But Romney as the moderate, who's only getting about 30 percent of the vote in each date, we can't let that be the guy who then becomes our nominee because we're splitting our vote.

And there are a lot of calls today to say to conservatives and the Tea Party supporters, let's unite behind Rick Santorum, let's make sure that our voice is louder than the minority of the party who wants Romney.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know he laid out two strategies. I think it's fascinating and candid. He laid out two strategists. One is basically get something like 70 percent of the delegates. The numbers are really high. You know for Rick Santorum to win the nomination, but the second path is more interesting to me because it's more likely, and that is to simply deny the path for Mitt Romney.

So I have to ask you, if that's the more likely path, and you may not grant me that premise, but I think it's true. If that's the more likely path do you see Rick Santorum winning a brokered convention or honestly is the goal just to keep it from Mitt Romney? I just wonder, will you be happy with an outcome that Mitt Romney just simply doesn't win the nomination?

BRABENDER: Look, Rick Santorum made it very loud and clear that he's not running to be the conservative alternative for Mitt Romney, he's running to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama. And there is a strong belief that with Mitt Romney, we take things like health care off the table. I mean Mitt Romney is seen as a partner of building Obamacare.

Bailouts which are so important to the Tea Party people, we take off the table because Mitt Romney supported the Wall Street bailouts. I can go on and on on the list. The belief among conservatives is we're not going to ever beat Barack Obama by just putting up Barack Obama light, and so there is a real path that says if conservatives and Tea Party supporters decide that we are now going to unite behind one candidate, not only will he be the nominee but I strongly believe will beat Barack Obama.

O'BRIEN: Romney says Rick Santorum is desperate. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Santorum is at the desperate end of his campaign and is trying in some way to boost his prospects and frankly misrepresenting the truth is not a good way of doing that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: He was talking very specifically about an ad which said that the governor left Massachusetts $1 billion in debt. That he basically says all of this is indicative of desperation.

BRABENDER: Yes, first of all, that ad was not done by the campaign so I can't even speak to it. And second of all, you're talking about the guy whose super PAC has already spent $40 million brutally attacking the other candidates. And quite frankly, I'm not sure I'm going to listen to the value judgment of a guy who strapped his dog on the top of the roof of his car and went hurling down the highway.

For Mitt Romney to be out there saying that, you know, this is desperate is an insult also to the voters in places like Mississippi and Alabama who evidently didn't get the Romney desperate memo.

O'BRIEN: John Brabender joining us this morning, senior strategist with the Santorum presidential campaign. Nice to have you. Thanks. Thanks for you music as well.

BRABENDER: Great.

O'BRIEN: Appreciate it.

BRABENDER: Very thankful you have me here. Appreciate it.

O'BRIEN: It was our pleasure.

Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a top Goldman Sachs banker up and quits after more than a decade at the firm. And he's talking about why. We'll hear about what he has to say about has to say about toxic greed that he worries could kill the company from within.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Let me think. I personally love Siri, but apparently this guy does not. Siri, find me a lawyer. A man says Siri is not as smart as advertised. We'll tell you what he's doing about that. You're watching STARTING POINT We're back right after this break.

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O'BRIEN: That's off of Will Cain's playlist. That's Don Henley, "Boys of Summer."

Let's take a look at some of these exit polls. One of the things I like best about primary season is really the next day after the primary, the exit polls are fascinating. If you look in Mississippi, this exit poll question was your support for your candidate. Strongly favor, 53 percent. Have reservations, almost 40 percent have reservations. I mean, what does that say?

O'DONNELL: Yes, low confidence in the candidates right now. And I think this is because one candidate has not been able to get out in front and establish momentum through a bunch of races, like happened last time. And I think proportionality has done that. And I also think the order of the states has changed this time.

Last time around Super Tuesday truly was a bigger event and McCain established pure momentum. Mitt Romney dropped out and the race was essentially over in the middle of March when McCain won Texas and Ohio.

O'BRIEN: So when Michael Steele said he did that intentionally, that he thought that, you know, sort of leading up to a brokered convention made it high drama, and I'm sort of, you know, quoting him.

CATHERINE CRIER, BEST SELLING AUTHOR: Look, he was wanting to build turnout.

O'BRIEN: Right.

CRIER: And build excitement but look what's happened.

O'BRIEN: Right.

CRIER: It cost their primary candidates to turn --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: It's not everywhere but in some cases. Also a look at the conservative. Romney's positions on the issues. Two conservatives say 10 percent, that's not a surprise. Fifty percent. A full 50 percent, say he's not conservative enough. That's certainly sticking.

CAIN: You know we always look for historical parallels in these elections and I would just make -- I'd offer one more. In 1980 Ronald Reagan was running against George H.W. Bush. And it lasted a really long time. It almost went to the convention and people were asking former President Gerald Ford to consider stepping back in the race.

The point is not this, that Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum or Ronald Reagan. The only point is this, Ronald Reagan wasn't Ronald Reagan at that point. So we continue to look at these guys struggling to win over voters. You know put that in context. It doesn't mean each one of these guys is absolutely awful and will lose to Obama.

CRIER: And history is always interesting. Historically my kneejerk reaction is the disaffected will fall in line once there is a candidate at the convention.

O'BRIEN: And I don't think you can tell that until --

CRIER: This is what's -- this is what's interesting. Because the Tea Party influence, because the social conservatives have gotten so powerful and we haven't had -- this is post 2008. We haven't seen whether they are going to give up principles --

O'BRIEN: We just do not know. That is very true.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: All right. We got to take -- we got to take a short break.

Still ahead, though, it's a good morning when you can start with George Clooney. Hello. George Clooney. He's going to be joining us live. We're going to be talking about the violence right on the border of South Sudan, in Sudan. He's going to be testifying today in Capitol Hill.

And then we're going to talk about that homeless hot spot debacle using homeless as a high speed Internet hub. The man behind the idea is responding to his critics. We're going to talk about that and we'll hear from the Romney campaign coming up in our next hour as well as we continue here on STARTING POINT. Stay with us.

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