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Primary in Illinois; Mayor Bloomberg's "Food Police"?; Longoria Campaigns For Obama

Aired March 20, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning: a GOP showdown on the president's home turf. Voting is under way in Illinois right now and it's been a little bit of a Chicago style fight to the finish.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to be successful in replacing an economic lightweight with another economic lightweight.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you really believe this country wants to elect a Wall Street financier as president of the United States?


O'BRIEN: Plus, this is the food police striking again? New York City is banning food donations to homeless shelters, the one that the city owns, because it might too salty in some cases. We'll talk about that.

And actress Eva Longoria will join us this morning to tell me why she's stumping for President Obama. Her focus she says is women and the Hispanic vote.

It's Tuesday, March 20th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: OK. This is my son. My kids are in today because it's spring break. This is my son Jackson's pick "Thriller." So, it's retro and yet he's 7.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Wearing a different jacket actually.


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

MARTIN: He dug into the vault to pull that one.

O'BRIEN: Yes, he's a big M.J. fan.

Our panel this morning, John Fugelsang is with us. He's a political comedian and radio personality. Will Cain is with us as well. He's a CNN contributor and contributor for And Roland Martin is a CNN political analyst.

MARTIN: What up? It's a peace sign.

O'BRIEN: No, it's more like -- this is like "Nightline." You're supposed to go like this. Not peace signs to the camera.

CAIN: What show is this?


MARTIN: I'm channeling Don Cornelius.

O'BRIEN: OK, I buy it. Our STARTING POINT this morning --


JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: I won't even bother now. I do valet parking. I'm from the streets.

O'BRIEN: You're not from the streets.

FUGELSANG: What streets are you from? The streets of Long Island.

O'BRIEN: I'm from Long Island.


O'BRIEN: OK. We got to get to the polling in Illinois. The polls are now open on this first day of spring.

There are 69 total delegates up for grabs, 54 at stake in the primary. Winner is expected to capture the bulk of the delegates.

Biggest haul since the Georgia primary that happened earlier this month. Mitt Romney is looking to pad his commanding lead in the delegate chase. Rick Santorum is hoping to burst Governor Romney's bubble of inevitability, going at each other in their own form of Chicago politics that's getting ugly.

MARTIN: This isn't Chicago-style politics.


ROMNEY: We're not going to be successful in replacing an economic lightweight with another economic lightweight.

SANTORUM: Do you really believe this country wants to elect a Wall Street financer as a president of the United States? You think that's the kind of experience we need?


O'BRIEN: Santorum has been making the case that a win today could be the beginning of the end for Mitt Romney.


SANTORUM: I predict if we were able to do what I know most people think is impossible which is to carry the state of Illinois, that will fundamentally change this election like no or contest to date. It will put us in a position where they'll stop talking about delegates and start talking about how are we going to stop Rick Santorum from being the nominee.


O'BRIEN: Will Cain, how likely is that?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Very, very unlikely. Very unlikely.

We're trying to look for the appropriate sports metaphor during the break of Rick Santorum's chances to become the Republican nominee. Mitt Romney has got it locked up. Governor Edwards of Louisiana one time said --

O'BRIEN: Edwin Edwards.

CAIN: Edwin Edwards -- I got this thing locked up except for one caveat, I'm found in bed with a live boy or a dead girl.

O'BRIEN: That's right.

CAIN: Romney is just about there.

MARTIN: You don't lock it up until you get the required number of delegates, OK?

O'BRIEN: Eleven-forty-four.

MARTIN: You have to get there. So, if you're Santorum, you keep plugging away because Romney can screw up. It can be like in a horse hard race. The jockey could fall off.

But again, the bottom line though is until somebody wins it, you stay in the race. You don't just hand it to someone because folks say you didn't go ahead and step out. I say you keep moving.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's bring in Republican Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois. He joins us. He's a Mitt Romney supporter as well. He has lived in Peoria, Illinois, since he was in fourth grade.

Nice to see you, sir.

How do you think it's going to go today? That's true, right? Since you were 9 years old?

REP. AARON SCHOCK (R), ILLINOIS: That's correct. Boy, you got good research there.

O'BRIEN: Yes. I think we asked your staff actually.

SCHOCK: Yes. Well, so listen, I think Mitt Romney is going to do extraordinarily well in Illinois. Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney were both in Peoria last night and the news coverage here has been phenomenal. Rick Santorum -- just so you know for viewers, Peoria is in the heart of Illinois. It's the more conservative part of the state.

Rick Santorum had a couple hundred people show up for his rally. Mitt Romney had several thousand people show up on Bradley University's campus to hear him speak. I see that momentum going into today. And I predict a double digit win for Mitt Romney in this state.

O'BRIEN: How much impact do you think some of these gaffes have had along the way? For example, the latest one has been Rick Santorum talking about unemployment. I'm going to play a little bit of that for you.


SANTORUM: You need a candidate who will be a fighter for freedom, who is going to get up and make that the central theme in this race, because it is the central theme in this race. I don't care what the unemployment rate is going to be. It doesn't matter to me. My campaign doesn't hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates. There's something more foundational that's going on here.


O'BRIEN: He says it's about freedom. It's not about unemployment. How is something like that resonating? Or will it resonate?

SCHOCK: Well, a couple things. First of all, I think it would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge that every candidate who's run for office, especially for president, makes a number of gaffes. Certainly Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did. The president will continue to make a gaffe once in a while. Certainly Mitt Romney and other candidates in this race have.

O'BRIEN: I would expand to anybody that runs for office period has to some degree.

SCHOCK: That's right. Having said that, clearly, I think Mitt's focus in the primary, Governor Romney's focus in the primary has been solely on economic issues. He's driven that issue. It's been the foundation of how he's basically made the case for why he's the most qualified among the Republican contenders.

Mr. Santorum has -- Senator Santorum has taken a different approach. He's gotten more into social issues, things other than economic issues, which is fine. I understand where he's going with the more conservative base of the party. But I think at the end of the day, the economy will continue to be job number one. Americans all across the country are looking for someone who can help get us a quicker recovery, help us bring down that unemployment rate.

And so, I think that the American people, regardless of what candidates think, do care about the unemployment rate. They are worried about the 20-some million people that don't have jobs and continue to look for jobs. And so, I think it was a gaffe on the part of Rick Santorum.

But, look, he's going to move on. He'll probably continue to run despite losing Illinois today. It's his right to do so. But I think it's becoming very, very clear that Mitt Romney is the eventual nominee, will become the nominee of the Republican Party and go toe to toe with President Obama in the fall.

O'BRIEN: He later said he cares about the unemployment rate. He was pointing out there were other things he had an interest in and wanted to focus on.

Earlier, I was talking to Reince Priebus and he was commenting on what Mitt Romney had to say about the economy getting better. Let me play a little clip of what Governor Romney said.


ROMNEY: I believe the economy is coming back. We'll see what happens. It's had ups and downs. I think it's finally coming back.

The economy always comes back after a recession, of course. There's never been one that we didn't recover from. The problem is this one has been deeper than it needed to be and a slower recovery than it should have been by virtue of the policies of this president.


O'BRIEN: Earlier this morning, I was talking to RNC chair, Reince Priebus, and he sort of said, well, I wouldn't exactly frame it that way. I'm not going to contradict the governor. But, you know, some people are still hurting.

Do you think that's a mistake for the governor to say the economy is coming back? Doesn't that hand a great sound bite right into people who I'm sure are watching the governor and saying, let's turn this into an Obama campaign ad?

SCHOCK: I think the fact is that this has been the longest streak of unemployment since the Great Depression. And, you know, America -- Governor Romney, I heard him make this point. I was with him yesterday when he made the point. If you play the clip longer, he makes the point that America has always rebounded eventually. The question is how long does it take for us to rebound.

The point he's making simply is that President Obama's policies have made it take longer to rebound here economically. It's why you see these slow ups and downs within the unemployment figures but no clear trend at least at this point.

And I think Governor Romney is laying out the case that, look, regardless of whether or not there's an uptick or downtick come September and October this fall, the fact remains the same, which is we've been in a downward trend. We've been in a slump economically since President Obama took office and his policies have not made things better.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Aaron Schock, joining us this morning from Illinois, nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us. We appreciate it.

SCHOCK: Good to be with you.

O'BRIEN: We're going to get to other headlines, we come back and talk to the panel about all of that, straight ahead.

Christine, what do you got?


Well, the FBI and the Justice Department launching their own investigation into the death of an unarmed 17-year-old Florida high school student. That student was shot by a neighborhood watchman. George Zimmerman told police he was acting in self-defense when he shot Trayvon Martin. Martin's family and protesters have been pressuring Sanford police, saying race was a factor in Martin's death.

Newly released 911 tapes reveal Zimmerman, who was a white Hispanic, followed Martin who is black, saying he looks, quote, "suspicious".

A Florida stand your ground law might prevent any prosecution though. We'll talk more about this case coming up in a few minutes with criminal defense attorney Midwin Charles.

French authorities offering new details this morning on the deadly school shooting in the Jewish school in Toulouse yesterday. Three students and a teacher were killed. President Nicolas Sarkozy was on hand for a moment of silence at the school today.

A government official says the gunman may have filmed this rampage. Security footage shows there was a video camera strapped to his chest.

Meantime, here in the U.S., police are on alert for possible strikes against Jewish targets. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says they're concerned about copycat attacks.


RAY KELY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: We have a significant Jewish population in this city. We have to take that into account. We know that we're at the top of the terrorist target list. We're concerned about the so-called copycat syndrome.


O'BRIEN: French police believe the Jewish school shooting is linked to two other recent ethnic attacks.

Gas prices still rising. Up again. Average price of unleaded now $3.85 per gallon. That's the national average. The price of gas is now up for 11 days in a row, 17 percent jump overall this year.

President Obama still isn't finished celebrating St. Patrick's Day. This morning he welcomes Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to the White House. Later, there's a St. Paddy's Day lunch at the Capitol and then the president and first lady will hold, you guessed it, a St. Patrick's Day reception in the East Room of the White House. It's not easy being green.

It's the cutest video you're going to see all day. A charming 2-year-old with her take on Adele's "Someone Like You."


O'BRIEN: Seriously.

ROMANS: Isn't she cute?

O'BRIEN: She's adorable. She's so cute. All these guys on this set are groaning. She's cute.

ROMANS: She's adorable.

O'BRIEN: I know. It's like the skating swirl. All right. That's cute. Other stuff to get to.

FUGELSANG: Adorable 2-year-old singing break up torch song. Does it to me every time.


O'BRIEN: That's a little weird.

FUGELSANG: Just saying. Now Billie Holiday. We tried to be courteous.

CAIN: I think she's adorable and cute and I think you guys are mean.

O'BRIEN: They're not being mean.

FUGELSANG: She's a great singer. Nothing against her performance.

O'BRIEN: She's 2 and she's doing a torch song. I thought it was cute.

OK. Moving on.

FUGELSANG: She got dumped by SpongeBob. I don't know.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, this is the story of the Sergeant Bales accused of going door to door killing 16 people including nine children in Afghanistan. Now, the suspect in that Afghanistan massacre says he cannot remember the attacks.

Also, are you better off having unhealthy food or no food at all? New York City banning donations to its homeless shelters. And critics are saying the food police have gone too far. Here's Roland Martin's playlist, R. Kelly, featuring Keith Murray, "Home Alone."

You're watching STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: Oh, that's BB King "When Love Comes To Town."


O'BRIEN: Our playlist can be found at You can find out our entire playlist. Jeff Stier's playlist, joining us. Jeff is the director of the National Center for Public Policy.

Here to talk about a story that's causing a little bit of an uproar here in New York City. Donations to homeless shelters, city shelters, are being turned away because they are not healthy enough. Give us a little explanation about this rule.

JEFF STIER, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH'S RISK ANALYSIS DIVISION: Well, it turns out New York City is turning away all food donations. I mean, if you had a, you know, broccoli salad and you want to donate it or institution wanted to donate a broccoli salad, my synagogue has been donating salads to homeless shelters.

And recently, the city started turning them away. The city's homeless shelters said, no, we want to control. We're the government. We're controlling what these people eat, and they can't have any of it. They turn it away.

O'BRIEN: OK. So, this is only for city shelters, right? There are plenty other places. You could take your broccoli salad and donate it to all the other shelters that are not run by the city.

STIER: Absolutely, but I think it's somewhat troubling when the government controls how many people -- what people are eating. New York City has a lot of homeless shelters, and a lot of people are eating there. The people aren't starving at the homeless shelters, but they enjoy these different types of foods rather than institutional foods that they're always getting served.

And these are, you know, senior citizens who are recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. And people from the community are coming in and donating foods that their own synagogue serves, and their saying, you know what, the city is saying, you know what, we don't want it.

O'BRIEN: Mayor Bloomberg has said this is a safety issue. Here's what he said. He said, "Because of all sorts of safety reasons, we just have a policy, it is my understanding, of not taking donations."

STIER: Well, the city's homeless shelters have accepted these donations for years. I know people who have delivered them. Only after the city came up with new nutritional guidelines which dictate every calorie, every carb, every piece of sugar and salt, trans fat, they even have preferred condiments, which ketchup you ought to be using. Only after the put in those guidelines did they stop accepting the food.

O'BRIEN: So, is that a bad thing at a place where there's enough food, right? No one is arguing that in New York City shelters that people are starving and desperately need the food. Is there some upside to saying, you know what, actually, because a lot of people are giving broccoli salad? We donate it to shelters, right?

And what we give is leftover birthday cake and you give potato chips, and after a big school event, you deliver that stuff, which is not so healthy. And when you look at the populations of these shelters, highly minority, Latino and Black, who have big issues with obesity, big issues with diabetes, all correlated to your diet. So, is there really --

STIER: Well, there's no question we want people to eat healthful diets. The part of nutrition is balance and being reasonable. I think the mayors will all side of that. I think we want people to have a healthy diet, but also enjoy an occasional healthy treat as is being donated to these synagogues.

And yes, these people, their hearts are warmed and their stomachs are warmed by some of the great food that they're getting that houses of worship are serving to their own members, to their own congregates.

MARTIN: Well, how about this? If these are city run shelters, there are other shelters out there that provide food for folks, and so, there are options to give the food somewhere else.

STIER: And that is absolutely true, but I think it sends a message that the city shelters don't want people being involved in serving people. And yes, you can donate it somewhere else. And people aren't going hungry. But what kind of message does it send when the government uses its power to dictate how people eat?

CAIN: The offensive thing is that it's an extension of a message that's been in place for a long time. This city is controlling not just city homeless shelters, but what people can eat as far as their salt content, their trans-fat content. There are laws that affect every single one of us. And now, this is a law that seems to effect our charity, as well. You're absolutely right. The government can control what it gives away for free, but it's just an extension of a larger habit this city has made.

O'BRIEN: Yes, but why is it to say got it? And you have a choice. You can choose not to be in a city shelter or you can choose to go drop it off at a different -- no, you can choose to go drop it off at a different shelter. I don't think anybody is going to choose. Well, I want broccoli salad, so I'm going to move out. I mean, that would be an complete insanity, but there are other places where you should go and deliver that food. The problem, the concern would be wasted food, right? The concern that someone has food and you're wasting it.

That's part of it. And the food can be donated to other places sometimes. But I know lots of people who've been donating food to city shelters and being turned away. And the problem with that is it sends a message that the government is in control of how people live, how people donate, and they want to expand government control rather than encourage more private charity.

O'BRIEN: We'll take the broccoli salad here, by the way. Just throwing it out there for the --



O'BRIEN: I'll take the broccoli salad. It's nice to have you, Jeff Stier, joining us.

Coming up next, we're going to talk to Eva Longoria who's stumping for President Obama hitting the campaign trail. We asked her why she thinks the message is important for Latinos and for women.

Plus, Tim Tebow, is it time over in Denver with Peyton Manning on his way in? We're going to talk about where that, you know, could end up. Hey, hey, hey. You're watching STARTING POINT. Back after the commercial break if we choose to bring everyone back.


CAIN: I made a promise to myself never to sing or dance on this program again.


O'BRIEN: And we appreciate that, Will Cain.

CAIN: Thank you. I appreciate that you appreciate that.

O'BRIEN: Let's just leave it at that, Roland. Let's just leave it there. Yes. I support that fully. That's Eve and Gwen Stefani, "Let Me Blow Your Mind."

More star power for President -- (LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: --hello! Back on track -- President Obama's re- election bid. He's lining up a roster of national co-chairs, politicians like Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa and actors like Kal Penn from "Harold and Kumar" movies, and also "Desperate Housewife" actress, Eva Longoria. So far, she alone has been able to raise between $200,000 and $500,000 to help the president. Now, she's hitting the campaign trail. She says she wants to focus specifically on women and Latinos. We had a chance to sit down and talk about it. Here she goes.


O'BRIEN: I know that you have been hitting the campaign trail for President Obama, especially focusing on swing states. What message are you trying to bring and to whom?

EVA LONGORIA, ACTRESS: Well, I was just named one of the national co-chairs of the re-election campaign, so I was very excited. So, my job is going to be to mobilize and engage voters, specifically, with the Latino community and women. Those are two areas that are very near and dear to me. And, I want to make sure that the president's record is voiced and messaged to the right people.

O'BRIEN: What do you think is going to be his biggest challenge? You know, Jorge Ramos who I knew you know of him, he wrote in "Time" magazine recently, he's a Univision anchor. He wrote, "He didn't keep his word. Besides that, the Obama administration is responsible for the separation of thousands of families with children who are U.S. citizens. Obama has deported more immigrants over 1.2 million than any other president in history."

Is immigration going to be a problem for President Obama, you know, as we head into November?

LONGORIA: Well, it's interesting that you mentioned that. Actually, the economy is the number one issue that Latinos are concerned about. Immigration will come into play. I think because of the GOP primary has been so long, we've only heard the attacks on President Obama's record and a lot of misinformation.

And, even though that is true, there's been a lot of deportations. The president has refocused the resources of Department of Homeland Security to prioritize criminal deportations over DREAMers or families that need to stay united. And he's proposed a lot of changes to keep families together.

O'BRIEN: Is your concern that there just will not be a big turnout? I mean, obviously, people are not as engaged as they were in 2008. We can see it certainly on the Republican side and one is going to guess the same thing just by taking sort of the temperature of the water in 2012.

Also, when you look at what Mitt Romney has been saying about Latinos since he won in Puerto Rico, he basically says in a nutshell, you know, Latinos are Republicans. Listen to this.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Those people who don't think that Latinos will vote for Republican need to take a look in Puerto Rico and see there the conservative principles and Latino voters go together, and that Hispanic voters are going to vote for Republicans if we stand for something conservative principles that bring growth and good jobs and rising home values. That's how we're going to win. We'll get Latino voters to help us out.


O'BRIEN: That sounds like a message that could win. Why do you think it's not going to work?

LONGORIA: Well, specifically with Mitt Romney, I think he's probably on the wrong side of every issue that is important to Latinos. To say some dangerous rhetoric of I would veto the Dream Act the minute I was in office, he's calling Arizona's anti-immigration laws a model for the country and campaigning with the author of that bill.

These are polarizing viewpoints from what Hispanics find important. Every Hispanic family is pro-God, is small business, is pro-family, is pro-child going to college. And, the policies that Mitt Romney or any other GOP Republican, for that matter, are proposing goes against that.

And, if the Republicans are smart, they would capitalize on this audience, but they have done so well at polarizing themselves from what is important to the Latino community whether it's healthcare or job growth, education, that Obama has done.

Obama has provided 150,000 Pell grants for Hispanic students to be able to go to college and have access to a higher education. Those are true numbers and true facts over nine million Hispanics who were previously uninsured will be able to have access to quality healthcare. Those are real statistics.

O'BRIEN: A couple quick questions before I let you go. Seventeen-minute film now, and I wonder if it hurts the president or helps the president to have high powered folks in Hollywood backing him, because, sometimes, he gets picked on, and you know, this new film that's come out that cost just under, you know, I think $400,000 is getting some criticism.

On the other hand, one has to imagine it could help him as well. Where do you fall in that?

LONGORIA: Oh, I think -- are you talking about "The Road We Traveled"?


LONGORIA: Yes. Oh, it's a fantastic film. And I think it can only help him. I think, you know, us, celebrities, in Hollywood get a bad rap for wanting to get politically involved, but the truth is, I'm an American citizen before I'm anything else. I have a voice. I have a platform. I want to use it. I've always been involved politically. I find that a lot of celebrities and actors and entertainers who want to get behind a certain candidate can do so because that's their right as an American citizen.


O'BRIEN: I asked her a second question. I started that with two questions and only got to one. The other one is online. We talk about the final episodes of "Desperate Housewives." She says she's not sure what's happening. She's still alive. They killed off 50 people on that show, 50 people.

MARTIN: You better save your money if you go on that show. No job security.

O'BRIEN: You can see that on our Web site which is

Still ahead this morning, Karen Santorum standing by her husband, the senator. Why she says critics who say her husband is anti-woman have it all wrong.

Then the TSA pats down that little boy in a cast in a wheelchair on his way to Disneyworld. That video going viral. His father who shot the video will join us to explain why it has taken two years almost to put that video online. That's straight ahead on STARTING POINT. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: I like this LCD Soundsystem.


MARTIN: It sounds like something I get at best buy.

FUGELSANG: They broke up last year. There's a documentary about them. We had REM, LCD Soundsystem, and White Stripes all broke up last year. And Train is going to tour with Maroon 5. It's very sad.


CAIN: It's been a rough year.


O'BRIEN: You guys are all dressed alike today.

MARTIN: Dressed alike? Seriously?

O'BRIEN: Kind of.

FUGELSANG: Looks like a chocolate sandwich with two pieces of white bread.

O'BRIEN: Whatever, headlines. Let's get right to Christine Romans. Help me out here, Christine. Good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning, Soledad. Accused army staff sergeant Robert Bales has no memory of murdering 16 Afghan civilians, that according to his attorney. After meeting with sergeant bales for the first time yesterday, lawyer John Henry Browne said his client was not drinking that day.


JOHN HENRY BROWNE, ATTORNEY FOR SERGEANT ROBERT BALES: He has an early memory of that evening and he has a later memory of that evening. But he doesn't have memory of in between.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bales told you he was not drinking that night?

BROWNE: He said he had a couple sips of something but he didn't even have a full drink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was not drunk?



ROMANS: Sergeant Bales worked as a financial adviser before he enlisted in the army and was accused of stealing money from clients. Arbitrators ordered him to repay more than $600,000, but he never did.

House Republicans set to release their 2013 budget plan today. It cuts taxes, creates only two individual tax brackets of 10 percent and 25 percent. It would also end the alternative minimum tax, a measure designed to target the wealthy but of course squeezes millions of middle class American families. Earlier on STARTING POINT, two members of the budget committee weighed in.


REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, (R) UTAH: Our nation is approaching $16 trillion in debt. We're paying more than $600 million a day in interest on that debt. We deficit spend roughly $4 billion a day. We can't keep doing that.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D) MARYLAND: This is not good for the country. If you're Mitt Romney you'll love this budget. It provides another round of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and does it at the expense of middle class taxpayers and seniors.


ROMANS: The Republican budget plan is considered by many observers to be dead in the water. Karen Santorum going to bat for her husband, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. She says critics who call her husband anti-woman for his stance on contraception are just wrong. Here she is on CNN's Piers Morgan last night.


KAREN SANTORUM, RICK SANTORUM'S WIFE: I think women have nothing to fear. When it comes to contraceptives he will do nothing on that issue.


ROMANS: Karen Santorum insisting her husband would, quote, "absolutely not interfere with women's access to birth control should he become president."

And the first lady of late night, Michelle Obama sitting down with David Letterman last night talking about her undercover shopping trip to Target last year.


MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: That's my Target run. I went to Target. I thought I was undercover.


MICHELLE OBAMA: I have to tell you something about this trip though. No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right, I was in the detergent aisle. She said -- I kid you not, she said, excuse me, I just have to ask you something. I thought cover is blown. She said, can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent. I kid you not.



ROMANS: Michelle Obama says she's also gone undercover to petco with the first dog alone. Soledad?


O'BRIEN: I like it. Christine, thank you.

So let's talk about this video that's gone viral. I think there's something like 200,000 people that have taken a look at it. It's a three-year-old little boy in a wheelchair being patted down by the TSA on his way to Disneyland. Take a look.

So you can hear in the background his father sort of voicing what's happening as you watch this tape. It was taken apparently and just posted on Sunday but it was shot back in 2010. His father is a Chicago radio personality, and he posted it over the weekend. Matt DuBeil joins us by phone. Hey, Matt, thank you for talking to us. I know you're on your cell phone and we appreciate you chatting with us. Give me background of what happened in this videotape that we're looking at.

MATT DUBEIL, CHICAGO RADIO PERSONALITY: It was our vacation. And we were on our way to Disney. My son couldn't go through the metal detector, they had to do a special pat-down. And I asked for a supervisor because I didn't want anything hanky going on. This was the process we had to go through to get him through with his body cast and with his wheelchair. I felt that it was a bit excessive.

O'BRIEN: Tell me why it took so long to post this? This was shot back in 2010, right, and now we're in 2012 obviously.

DUBEIL: So we got back from vacation and downloaded all the stuff off each of our phones and three cameras we brought. And then it was kind of lost and forgotten. And I was looking at home movies with my oldest son Saturday night because we have a new baby in the house and we were looking at how everyone looked when they were little and all that. My son and I watched it Saturday night. I became incensed as though I was in the moment again. I shared other videos online with my family with me and my kids doing things. I thought, if I'm sharing those videos, some of them are silly, I need to share this and let people see what happened.

O'BRIEN: Have you been surprised at how many people have downloaded this video. It looks like he's being treated nicely though by the TSA.

DUBEIL: The individual that actually investigates and touched him, handled it very well for what he's doing. My problem is with the whole process in general. There's a three-year-old that doesn't have dexterity to put a bomb together and deal with explosives and they were swabbing him for explosives and things that physically and mentally he would never be in a position to accomplish. And so they should have been testing me perhaps and not him. And it was that that really got me incensed. I would never let anyone do this to my kid but I have to accept it at the airport sadly.

O'BRIEN: Of course I think TSA changed rules in 2011 about kids. I wonder how much of this is TSA individuals which get a lot of blame or how much is just rules. The rules seem very specific about you have to swab. Then you are there swabbing a three-year-old who clearly -- I don't think anybody thinks a three-year-old is putting together an explosive device.

DUBEIL: It comes down to that "I'm just doing my job" mentality which I understand. But if we keep having that mentality in this country, we're going to cease to be the great country that we are. You can't just do your job. You have to use your brain and think on your feet. Anyone with brain can realize that that little boy was scared and that situation wasn't necessary at all and it was completely uncalled for.

O'BRIEN: Thanks for joining us. We appreciate you giving us insight into this videotape. We had lots of questions after we had a chance to screen it earlier. I know you're busy. We appreciate it. DUBEIL: Thanks so much.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT. Melanie Bloom, the wife of David Bloom who died from a blood clot when reporting in Iraq. She now is part of the team helping to try to detect and fight a silent killer. We'll talk to her about deep vein thrombosis straight ahead. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back right after this.


O'BRIEN: That's Melanie Bloom's playlist, that's U2. Melanie's with us this morning because she's talking about deep vein thrombosis. It was her husband NBC correspondent David Bloom, who was my co-anchor at "Weekend Today" many, many years ago who was killed in the Iraq war in 2003.

He died from a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that moved from his leg into his lung. Melanie is now a spokesperson for the Coalition to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis. It's so great to see you and catch up after all these years.


O'BRIEN: David and I obviously for you guys may not know we anchored on the "Today" show back in 2003. And I remember getting that terrible call the night that -- that he died. It was so stunning. You later found out that he had died of deep vein thrombosis. Tell a little bit about what you learned about the disease.

BLOOM: Right and no one wants to get that call. And it made it all the more startling that he died from something inside of his own body in the midst of a war.

And what I learned after he passed away is that two million Americans will develop a clot in their leg each year. And out of that, 300,000 will die. So David was just one of those 300,000 that year but I've never heard of it. But it's blood clot forms in a leg it can break free and hit the lungs and can be fatal.

O'BRIEN: You joined the coalition to really get people aware of deep vein thrombosis. But in the year after David died, I was so surprised because three little kids -- we have a picture of you and your girls. And they were small and I was so just stunned that with all the rest that you were dealing with and the grief and just managing a family that you decided to become a spokesperson. Why did you want to do that?

BLOOM: Well, I feel so passionately about it because I don't want any family to learn about this the way that we did. I felt like I was sitting on some information that -- that needed to get out there and actually helping others is the greatest healer of all. It was very therapeutic to get out there and -- and talk about and sort of champion a legacy for David.

O'BRIEN: You know you saved the life of one of the cameraman at NBC.


O'BRIEN: Yes you did -- two years, about two years after David died one of the guys started complaining about like cramping in his leg. And he went to sort of the other guys on the crew said to him, you know this sounds a lot like what David had and what Melanie was talking about. And they sent him to the doctor. He was hospitalized immediately. And it turned out he had deep vein thrombosis, one of the guys on the "Today" show crew.

I want to put up some of the risk factors that people need to be aware of. Let's show it up on the screen and then Melanie can talk about it, if you're overweight, if you're a smoker, if you're hospitalized, of course, a great risk there and if you have cancer or heart disease. If you know this risks what do you do? What's the prevention?

BLOOM: Well, of course always talk to your doctor, your health care provider. There are simple ways to prevent. You've heard at the economy class and whenever you are on a long flight you're seated for a long period of time, your blood can't flow. The circulation is restricted. So it's important to keep moving. Pump your foot up and down even if you can't get up and walk around. Drink a lot of fluid.

Doctors can also prescribe compression stockings which squeeze the calf muscles and keep that blood moving.

FUGELSANG: They can also be purchased over the counter.

BLOOM: And they can be purchased. Yes and then also you know blood thinners for people who are at higher risk but also your doctor should be the one who makes those decisions of prevention for you.

O'BRIEN: Just really be aware but I think it's the main thing. I want to remind everybody that March is Deep Vein Thrombosis month, which I did not know DVT month and everybody can go to if they want more information. I know that you had gotten remarried. You only went from three kids to six kids.

BLOOM: Only five, five though.

O'BRIEN: Oops, I gave you one. It's not quite the Brady Bunch. We're missing one. Oh it's so great to see you. Thanks for coming in and talking to us about such an important thing.

BLOOM: Yes thanks for having me Soledad.

O'BRIEN: We've got a short break. We're back in just a moment.

BLOOM: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: It's fabulous to see you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: One of the most coveted free agents in NFL history Peyton Manning looks to be headed to the Denver Broncos. Does that mean that Tim Tebow is about to get the boot? Yes it does I believe.

Jamal Anderson, he's a former running back for the Atlanta Falcons. I'm right about that, right? Tim Tebow is gone?

JAMAL ANDERSON, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Well it looks like Soledad. All of the reports are saying right now since Peyton Manning is going to be finalizing his deal, we're expecting a press conference sometime today, that Tim Tebow may be on the trading blocks.

There's also a theory out there, Soledad, where Tim Tebow stays part of his team and learns and really the tutelage from John Elway as well as Peyton Manning. But I don't know if that's going to happen right now especially with Peyton being -- being the guy right now in Denver.

CAIN: Hi Jamal, Will Cain. So to a lot of fans last year Tebow proved he at least deserves a chance to be an NFL quarter back. I guess he didn't prove it to John Elway in Denver.


CAIN: Did he prove it, do you think, to many other teams; is he going to get another shot in the NFL to be a quarterback?

ANDERSON: You know the tough thing was that he won in such unconventional fashions. Of course, he had a fabulous games against Pittsburgh Steelers where he passed for 316 yards. You just didn't see that productivity from Tim Tebow in the passing game. And when you talk to them about the Denver Broncos run by John Elway, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, you know that had to be a little bit unnerving.

Tim Tebow was winning games. Yes, he was exciting in the way he was pulling out the victories but unconventional. It was an understatement the things that Broncos were doing to change their system to try to make it work for him.

So it was very strange. I know people got behind him and it was exciting and he was a great story. But you just don't anticipate that type of success happening again without him becoming a better passer.

MARTIN: Right.

Jamal Roland Martin here. Folks talk about this being the greatest free agent of all time it. I'm sorry. Reggie White was number one in terms of --

ANDERSON: Reggie White, right, right.

MARTIN: -- and that was madness when he was a free agent.

ANDERSON: Right. It was crazy, Roland. And the thing about it, Roland as you understand, Reggie White was being one of the greatest players of all-time. Unfortunately he's not with us anymore. But Peyton Manning, the type of player he is, when you talk about one of the greatest quarterbacks, certainly one of the greatest quarterbacks of this era right now and arguably one of the top five quarterbacks to ever play this game. When you get a guy like that who's a free agent, you saw what happened Roland with the San Francisco 49ers, the Miami Dolphins, every organization, the Tennessee Titans, everywhere where he was even considering and now of course the Denver Broncos, you kind of had a musical chairs with a quarterback position because that's how big and that's how important and that's how talented Peyton Manning has been for a number of years and how successful he's been in this league.

O'BRIEN: People are -- people are --

ANDERSON: He shut down several teams.

O'BRIEN: -- people are expecting some big serious money brought into Denver and that we --


O'BRIEN: I've got to run, I want to thank you, Jamal Anderson joining us this morning.

ANDERSON: Always a pleasure.

O'BRIEN: We appreciate it. We're going to get to END POINT up next.



SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: If the name sounds familiar, it's no coincidence. This is Jon Huntsman, Sr., father of former Republican presidential candidate, Jon Huntsman, Jr. While the elder Huntsman may not be quite as familiar as his son, the billionaire, businessman, philanthropist and multiple cancer survivor has made his mark.

Huntsman says he was born with nothing and describes his upbringing as tough. But 42 years ago he started a small plastics company in southern California.

HUNTSMAN, SR.: In 1973, a small team that worked with me, we invented the Big Mac hamburger container.

GUPTA: Over the years that little company has grown into the Huntsman Corporation, one of the largest petrochemical plastics and industrial firms in the world. Huntsman describes himself as a deal junky, who has also developed an addiction for giving.

HUNTSMAN, SR.: I'm pleased to say that right from the beginning we started giving money away to charity over 40 years ago. Even when I had to borrow money from the bank. GUPTA: He's donated more than $1.2 billion so far to thousands of charities and individuals in the United States and abroad. Huntsman's main charitable focus for nearly two decades, building the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

HUNTSMAN, SR.: I just wanted to have the best in the world and I believe that that is where we are today.

GUPTA: That's because cancer has hit his family hard. His mother who taught him about the importance of giving died from cancer, as did his father and stepmother. And Huntsman wasn't spared. He's survived prostate cancer, mouth cancer, and two types of skin cancer.

So he built a state of the art cancer center that uses cutting edge technology to treat patients and has top scientists searching for cures. And he uses his own experience as a patient to create an environment that eases patient's fears and gives them hope.

HUNTSMAN, SR.: I've learned a great deal about hospital, about service, about food, about cleanliness, about how patients need hope and inspiration in their lives.

GUPTA: Which is why many parts of the hospital look more like a hotel than a cancer treatment center.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know if it's Disneyland or cancer because everyone is so happy and so kind.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


O'BRIEN: That's it for STARTING POINT. I'll see everybody back here tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. Hey, Carol.