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Neighborhood Watch Killing of Young African-American Male Continues to Garner National Attention; Supreme Court to Hear Arguments Regarding Health Care Reform; Turkey Shuts Syrian Embassy; Merah's Brother Taken Into Custody; Dick Cheney's Heart Transplant; Tiger Ends Winless Drought; Final Four Is Set; Thousands To March For Trayvon; Santorum Rips Romney; "Justice For Trayvon"; Miami Students Walk Out; Teachable Moment For Students

Aired March 26, 2012 - 06:59   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: Thank you, ladies, and good morning, everybody. Our starting point this morning is a call for justice coming now from all over the country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They made Trayvon a martyr (ph). Martyrs have power --


O'BRIEN: Exactly one month after Trayvon Martin was gunned down, thousands are expected to rally. We're talking to Reverend Jesse Jackson this morning.

And eye on nukes. President Obama warns Iran and North Korea that they're running out of options, and friends, and time. Strong words as a nuclear summit begins in Seoul.

Plus, the wife of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales breaks her silence as she is in total disbelief that her husband may have murdered nine children.

And our "Get Real" this morning, would you please rise for "Borat," (INAUDIBLE) medal ceremony plays the wrong anthem for the winner.


O'BRIEN: Yes. They don't play the anthem from Kazakhstan. They play "Borat's" version of it.

It is Monday, March 26th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: Oh, that's Prince "Little Red Corvette." I love that song. It brings back such fond memories. Our panelists this morning, we have four panelists. Lenny Curry joins us, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party. We joined you when we were in Florida and now we return the favor and host him here in New York City. Great to have you visiting us.


O'BRIEN: John Fugelsang joins us. He's a political comedian. Will Cain is a columnist for And Dorian Warren is a political science professor at Columbia University. Nice to have each and every when of you.


O'BRIEN: Interesting to think it's been a month since Trayvon Martin has been killed.

JOHN FUGELSANG, COMEDIAN: And two weeks since white people heard about it.

O'BRIEN: I think the story was not that well-known in the media.

FUGELSANG: On social media it was making the rounds and finally everyone else picked it up about two weeks ago.

O'BRIEN: Of course it's our starting point this morning because thousands are expected to make their way to Sanford, Florida, honoring Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old black teenager who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman exactly a month ago today. And the rally will begin at 4:00 p.m. outside the first United Methodist church, and the crowds are going to make their way to the civic center which is roughly a half mile away. And that's where the city's going to hold a town hall.

There are reports that Trayvon's parents are expected to speak there. That march comes right after a candlelight vigil held yesterday for Martin. There were songs and prayers and more calls for justice. These tributes taking part in cities across the country as churchgoers traded in their Sunday best for hoodies, which is what Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was shot.

Reverend Jackson addressed a standing room only congregation yesterday in Florida, and today he is live for us from Sanford. Nice to see you, sir, thank you for talking with us. We're going to get to the Revered Jackson in just a moment. He's had a chance to sit down and talk to the family members.

Reverend Jackson, can I ask you what you've had a chance to discuss with Trayvon's parents, now a month since his killing?

You know what, I'm going to stop you there, Reverend, because we're having some audio problems, technical difficulties, as they like to say. We'll see if we can fix the technical difficulties and get right to the Reverend Jackson.

You know, it's been interesting to me to see the number of marches this has spawned across the nation, and I wonder what the strategy is a month in, as they continue to pressure for calls for justice, you know, what the next step is going to be. FUGELSANG: Well, it seems, it seems like there's many different cries for justice. It is my fervent hope that Reverend Jackson is, aside from using this as an occasion to get a community mobilized and pursue voter registration which I think is a very patriotic response to this tragedy. We've heard from this fringe group that calls themselves the Modern Black Panthers who put a bounty out on Zimmerman's head. I think if there's ever been a chance to appeal for nonviolent solutions to problems, this is it, and this would be the truest time to bring back Dr. King's real message of nonviolence.

O'BRIEN: Let's turn to Reverend Jackson, I hope you can hear me.


O'BRIEN: You just heard John say a moment ago he was hopeful would come out of the marches and the message that the marches give you an opportunity to deliver. What is your point as you continue to address the crowds assembled, in Florida or elsewhere?

JACKSON: I think one point is the man that killed Trayvon looked over him, with the gun in his hand and was able to walk away free, so much like the man who killed Emmitt Till three weeks later. So this kind of justice delayed, justice denied is humiliating. That's one dimension of it. Second, not only should he face a process which he has not faced, but the stand your ground law is a kind of incentive for vigilantism. I'm also convinced that given the growing violence in the country there must be revived commitment to revive the ban on assault weapons. We've simply become much too violent and trigger happy in this country.

O'BRIEN: There's a group called the new black panthers that actually are not really related to the original black panthers from civil rights days. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls them a hate group. They've offered a bounty for the capture of George Zimmerman, that's a horrible development in the case. Are you calling for peace and calm and for no retribution or retaliation?

JACKSON: Well, I think finding him is unlikely. He's probably very much in the protection of police. It's the re-commission, the civil rights commission, has been giving a real sense of where race relations are in the country and may dust off the report. I thought the president's statement was helpful and sensitive. I thought the department of justice is very sensitive.

In the meantime, the killer is still on the loose, and his very absence from a process sends a message of pain that will not go away, won't make these demonstrations get bigger here and around the world.

O'BRIEN: Dorian, you had a question.

WARREN: Good morning, Reverend Jackson. Yesterday you mentioned Trayvon Martin was a martyr. What larger systemic issues his case raises for due process of law, for racial profiling, for a range of issues that I think people, that resonate with people as they turn out to marches and vigils across the country. JACKSON: You know that for too long under the rug has put the impact of racial profiling and the criminal justice system. I have three sons. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., I bought a car for him on graduation, stand spread eagle, embarrassed, his friends wondering what did he do? A University of Virginia law, grew up in Charlottesville, same experience, Jonathan, MBA, at Northwestern School of Business, same experience.

The death of Trayvon is painful, but more common than felt to be, and I think that now may be a chance to pull the cover off of just these gaps. We take the biggest hit in the home. The number one in infant mortality, nun one in short life expectancy, number one in unemployment. Some focused on the African-American president who is a signal and high profile athletes. But beneath the very near of progress is a hole that is being ignored for too long.

O'BRIEN: You had an opportunity to talk to Trayvon's parents? What have they told you? You spoke to them last night. How are they doing, and what have they updated you on?

JACKSON: You know, they have lots of pain. It's their baby, but they have amazing strength. Every time they hear that tape and finally hear the shot, that shot is on their baby, and so they feel that intensity.

And yet they have a greater sense of social consciousness in terms of this could be a transformative moment to address the Trayvon Martins of the country who have been shot and falsely imprisoned in the same way. You think about it, the kid was drug tested and alcohol tested, but the killer was not. How humiliating can that be? But that is so typical.

That's why in this state, 16 percent black population, 49 percent jail population African-American. Alabama, 30 percent black, prison 75 percent black. And prison labor, this whole dynamic of using blacks as fodder in the prison industrial complex, all of this stuff is coming out, it would not have come out had this not illuminated the darkness.

O'BRIEN: Reverend Jesse Jackson, thank you for your time, sir. Nice to see you. John, I don't think he answered your question the call for retribution and retaliation for George Zimmerman.

FUGELSANG: I'm hoping we hear it. I've really been disappointed how many friends of mine that describe themselves as liberal are using violent language.

O'BRIEN: It's disturbing the bounty on a human being's head. It's sick.

FUGELSANG: It's the opposite of everything Dr. King stood for. I hope that cooler heads prevail.

O'BRIEN: We're going to get to talk to Natalie Jackson, the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family. She's going to joins us live in just about 20 minutes or so. And then we're going to talk to Craig Sonner, criminal justice attorney. Also Sanford's city manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. is going to join us as well. We talked to him last week. Other stories to get to, but first, Christine Romans has for us the headlines. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. President Obama and more than 50 world leaders are in Seoul, South Korea for the 2012 nuclear security summit. Even before the official welcoming ceremony, the president sent a clear warning to North Korea.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There will be no rewards for provocations. Those days are over.


O'BRIEN: The president is urging Iran and North Korea to have the courage to suspend their nuclear weapons programs instead of following, quote, "a road to isolation and economic distress."

Afghan officials say the U.S. paid $50,000 to the families of each villager killed in a shooting rampage and $11,000 to those who were wounded. Army staff sergeant Robert Bales is charged with murdering 17 Afghan villagers, including nine children. But his wife says her husband is a brave, courageous man, and not a cold-blooded killer. Caroline Bales speaking publicly for the very first time in an interview with NBC.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He loves children. He's like a big kid himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is accused of killing nine children.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Innocent children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's unbelievable to me. I have no idea what happened, but he would not -- he loves children and we would not do that.


ROMANS: Bales is charged with 17 counts of murder. He could get the death penalty. U.S. military investigators say Bales left his base in rural Afghanistan twice to carry out the massacres.

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba today on his first trip to Spanish speaking Latin America. The country was officially an atheist state until the 1990s. Yesterday the Pope led 400,000 Catholics in an open air mass in Mexico, which is 80 percent Catholic. He asked Mexican Catholics to "boldly promote peace across the country." Later in the Pope-mobile he even put on a sombrero. The crowd went wild. Happy "Hunger Games," and may the odds be ever in their favor. The film hit a box office, taking in a record $155 million in its opening weekend. It's the third biggest opening ever and the best by a movie that's not a sequel. If you add in the nearly 60 million "the hunger games" made outside of this country, they film had a global haul of nearly $215 million. And I'm told 39 percent of movie-goers were under the age of 18.

O'BRIEN: And may the odds be always in your favor. I saw it last night. It's a little violent for kids, I wouldn't bring a youngish teenish.

ROMANS: Would you make them read the book first? For a pre-teen make them read the book first.

FUGELSANG: The books are much more violent.

O'BRIEN: Yes, but reading versus watching really gives thaw distance. Thanks, Christine, appreciate it.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, a health care showdown happening in the high court with the decision coming in the thick of an election year. This morning we talk to Mike DeWine, the attorney general of Ohio, one of the 26 states that is suing the federal government.

And a national anthem, hash-tag fail, plays a song from the movie Borat, which the lyrics, not so great, in their big moment. We'll leave you with Dorian's play list, Curtis Mayfield. You're watching STARTING POINT.



O'BRIEN: Got to love a little Johnny Cash in the morning. That's off of Mike DeWine's playlist. It's called "Jackson" obviously. You can see our entire list on

In less than three hours the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on Affordable Care Act, the controversial health care bill that was signed into law two years ago by President Obama two years ago. And 26 states are challenging the law, and arguments are scheduled over the next three days. First up today, should the case be heard at all or wait until 2015 after the individual mandate portion takes effect. The Obama administration feels good about their chances on this case.


DAVID PLOUFFE, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: We're confident it will be upheld. You had Democratic and Republican jurists upheld it lower court decisions, including two very prominent conservative jurists.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: Republicans of course are hoping for a different outcome.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: The process was bad, the substance has gone over like a lead balloon. The vice president whispered to the president when he signed the bill two years this is a big f-ing deal. Well, now it's become a big f-ing mess for the country a whole.


O'BRIEN: Wow. Kind of too early for that talk.

FUGELSANG: Just par for the course.

O'BRIEN: On cable, apparently.

FUGELSANG: I hate when Lindsey Graham gets ghetto.

O'BRIEN: Glad he didn't use the whole word. Let's get to Mike DeWine, attorney general of Ohio, one of the states suing in this case.


O'BRIEN: Thanks for your musical choice. Two thumbs up for you. So obviously today is in the big picture about whether or not the court should take up this case. What do you think will happen here?

DEWINE: Here we are. We've been waiting for a couple years and the lower courts have made their decisions and they've kind have been all over the place. Now it's where we knew it would get, the United States Supreme Court.

O'BRIEN: You could wait, though. You could have skipped and let it go into effect and then suing after that. Why not wait until I think it's 2015?

DEWINE: I don't think this is in anyone's interest to have the matter continue on. The Obama administration I think finally figured that out as well. So everybody's on board. The Supreme Court needs to decide this and we need to figure out where we're going as a country.

O'BRIEN: So let's walk everybody through, through sort of what will be the biggest argument, which I think will be tomorrow which we'll get to the individual mandate, which is really the most controversial part of the bill. The argument is whether or not Congress can make laws and for those who support, they think that is the individual mandate constitutional is the big question there. People who want to uphold it would say Congress is regulating commerce, and people who want to strike the law in case of insurance if there's no purchase, there's no actual commerce happening. And then people's answer to that who would like to uphold the law say if you're not buying, that still counts as an action to the cost of some $60 billion or so. I know that's a very rough outline of how that would go. Why do you think in your mind it's so clear this does not fall under the jurisdiction of Congress, sir?

DEWINE: Well, if this is upheld, if Congress can do this, there's really no limit to what Congress can do. This would be the furthest stretching of the commerce clause we've ever seen in over our 200-year history of this country. So if Congress can compel you and me and everyone who is watching to buy a particular product, in this case, health insurance, there's no limit to what they can compel you to do under the guise that this is regulating interstate commerce.

What we have is a situation where people are doing nothing. They're not engaging in interstate commerce, they're not buying anything. They're sitting back and doing nothing and Congress is coming along and the president's coming along and saying well, but that really is engaging in interstate commerce.

And so what's troubling I think is that the Obama administration in their arguments so far have really not delineated any limit to this power. There's just no limit to what they could do in the future, what a future Congress, a future president can do. It's about liberty. It's about state's rights. It's about fundamental relationship between the federal government and the state government, and the federal government and the people, and their liberties.

O'BRIEN: Lenny Curry is with us, of course the chairman of the Florida Republican Party, and your state, of course, has weighed in on this lawsuit as well. And I'm curious to know what the strategy is when you look at all the other things that Congress actually does mandate. If the theory is, as we heard from Mr. DeWine, where does it end you have to buy. Jeff Toobin was saying cars have to be made with seatbelts. You have to get Medicare, Medicaid, you have to pay your taxes, those are mandated federally. Will Cain is shaking his head no. Why am I wrong?

CURRY: Philosophically a bigger request he, requiring someone to purchase a service or product by virtue of the fact they're alive and breathing, in my view is the federal government beginning to control what is produced and consumed. And Republicans believe free enterprise is the best way forward. Free enterprise is what lifted more people out of poverty in the history of the world than any other economic program in the way that folks operate. So this philosophically it's about the constitution, but it's also about do we believe government should control goods, services and production or free enterprise and individuals and businesses.

O'BRIEN: Let's go back to our last question to Mike DeWine before I lose him. What is the biggest challenge, today, tomorrow, Wednesday?

DEWINE: I think the big day probably is tomorrow with the individual mandate, that is where the focus has been. But the court, you know, could make a decision not to really hear the case at all. I don't think they're going to. The Obama administration wants this heard and the states want it heard. I think tomorrow the individual mandate where most of the discussion has been, that's where the action is and that's where game will be.

O'BRIEN: The world will be watching closely, the Supreme Court negotiating over health care. Thank you, we appreciate your time. That's Mike DeWine the Ohio attorney general.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, an attorney for Trayvon Martin's family is going to be joining us. She says that his parents want an arrest in this case.

And then our "get real," a gold medal winner, not playing the real version, Borat's version. How do you like her face?


O'BRIEN: Funny but sad. We leave with you John's playlist the Psychedelic Furs. You're watching STARTING POINT. Back in a moment.



O'BRIEN: The national anthem of Kazakhstan. That's our "Get Real" this morning, except it wasn't the really the national anthem. A member of Kazakhstan's shooting team received a gold medal at the Arab championships in Kuwait. And she had her hand on her heart standing listening to the national anthem and realizes it's not the real national anthem. Someone had actually played the wrong anthem. They played Borat's version. In Borat's version he boasts about the, it's a parody, boasts about cleanliness, I'm being careful of the nation process -- I can't get into the lyrics because they're crazy.

But apparently they downloaded it from the web and Kazakhstan has called it a scandal. I should point out it was across the board the Arab championships also got wrong the Serbian national anthem. Eventually they redid the entire ceremony with the correct anthems, but that is as you said sad, funny but not funny.

FUGELSANG: Still upset over Borat.

CAIN: They got the Serbian national anthem wrong as well?

O'BRIEN: Yes, so it was just poorly done on all fronts apparently.

Moving on, still ahead on STARTING POINT, the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family will join us life. We'll talk to her about what the family is looking for one month since Trayvon was killed.

Rick Santorum, he might need a miracle to win the nomination but stepping up his attacks on Mitt Romney, saying he's the worst Republican to pick ever. You're watching STARTING POINT. We'll talk about that, straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: I love this song. Lenny Curry I love that song, Will Smith "Just The Two Of Us." We got other stories making news to get to first this morning, Christine has that for us. Hi, Christine. Good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning, Soledad. Turkey says it can no longer ignore atrocities on its doorstep. It's recalling its ambassador and closing its embassy in Syria.

The two countries share a 566-mile long border. Estimate say about Syrian 17,000 refugees who have fled the violence are now in Turkey. A human rights group says 14 more people were killed in Syria in the past few hours.

French authorities have filed criminal charges against the brother of gunman, Mohammed Merah, killed after a 32-hour standoff with police. Abdul Qatar Merah is accused of complicity in the seven murders and two attempted murders committed by his brother. He's also being charged with conspiracy to prepare acts of terrorism.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney recovering this morning after receiving a heart transplant. Cheney spent nearly two years on the waiting list before undergoing the operation this weekend at a Virginia hospital.

Cheney is 71 years old. He's had five heart attacks. Before getting the transplant, Cheney was being kept alive by a heart pump that was implanted in 2010.

He's back for the first time in more than two years. Tiger Woods is a winner on the PGA Tour. Woods ended the drought at the Arnold Palmer Invitational yesterday with a five-stroke victory. Nine twenty three days, 923 since his last tour win. The Master tees off in two weeks now.

And are your brackets still alive? The final four is set and no Cinderella teams will be heading to the big dance in the big easy this year.

It will be Kentucky and Louisville in a battle of the Bluegrass State and Kansas versus Ohio State Saturday in New Orleans. The winners play in the national championship game on Monday. Monday, Soledad, that's the day.

O'BRIEN: All right, thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: Welcome.

O'BRIEN: Later today we are expecting to see what could be the biggest march yet in honor of Trayvon Martin, exactly a month after he was killed. The unarmed black teenager was shot by a neighborhood watch captain by the name of George Zimmerman.

So this afternoon at 4:00 eastern people are going to gather not far from where the young man was killed for a rally and for there we head to the civic center for a town hall meeting where Trayvon Martin's family is scheduled to speak.

Today's march comes a day after church goers across the country wore hoodies to honor the 17-year-old. Natalie Jackson is the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family and she joins from Orland this morning.

Nice to see you. Thanks for your time this morning. Let me talk a little bit about this march and this town hall. What are you hoping to get out of sort of this next step in raising awareness?

NATALIE JACKSON, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN'S FAMILY: I think this next step is about unity, Soledad. I think that America is ready for everyone to unite under justice.

This is not the divisiveness and different agendas people have. This is about unity and it's about justice for Trayvon. As Sabrina Fulton said Trayvon is America's child now.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question about George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch guy who shot and killed Trayvon Martin. There is a group called the new Black Panther Party that has offered a bounty really on his head. I know that Trayvon's parents are aware of this. What's their reaction to that been?

JACKSON: Their reaction to this is that they did not endorse or condone this. They want a lawful arrest in this case. They want the justice system and they want the legal system to work.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about your strategy as an attorney, hate crimes, as you well know, are very, very hard to prove. What is the strategy for state court, which is where I'm told it could be an easier effort for your side, what's the plan?

JACKSON: In state court, our plan is just to present the evidence that we have gathered as attorneys. The problem with this case is as attorneys we should not have had to gather any of the evidence and do any of the investigation.

But we have, and we're willing to turn that over to the prosecutors in this case, and we believe once they see all of the evidence in this case, and we believe that once it is presented to a jury, then the jury will convict George Zimmerman.

O'BRIEN: So sounds like you don't think the police did their job beyond what the conversations have already been not arresting George Zimmerman at the scene. Is that correct?

JACKSON: That's correct. Clearly, the investigation in this case was either bungled or ignored completely. Our legal team has had to put together investigators and take interview witness statements, pretty much trace the whole scene again.

And we're willing to turn that information over to the prosecutors, and I'm sure the new prosecutor will also conduct her own investigation, as she said. O'BRIEN: George Zimmerman's attorney was talking over the weekend, talked about the stand your ground law and also talked about the attacks he said happened on his client, said his nose his broken, there was a cut on George's back. He said he was attacked by Trayvon. Listen to what he said.


CRAIG SONNER, LEGAL COUNSEL FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: He sustained an injury to his nose and the back of his head, I believe it broke his nose and he had a pretty good cut on the back of his head. That probably could have used stitches, but in the time it took for him to get to the hospital I think they opted not to put stitches in.


O'BRIEN: This seems like an indication of what their strategy will be, which is this was self-defense. He was actually attacked by Trayvon Martin.

JACKSON: Well, I'll tell you, Soledad. There can be no strategy if there is no arrest. That's what the family wants in this case. They want an arrest so that they can get justice in court. George Zimmerman has a right to present his evidence to the jury and let them decide.

We know as the public and as the attorneys in this case from George Zimmerman's own words that Trayvon Martin was not a threat to him. He had Skittles and an ice tea. And in George Zimmerman's own words, he was running away from Zimmerman. That doesn't sound like an attacker.

O'BRIEN: Geraldo Rivera made a little news over the weekend when he said this about what Trayvon was wearing. Listen.


GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I am urging parents of black and Latino youngster particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman was.

Parents, don't let your kids go out wearing these damned hoodies because they could attract the attention not only of cops, but of nut jobs apparently like this George Zimmerman.


O'BRIEN: What was your reaction to that?

JACKSON: Our reaction to that is that is a sort of ridiculous statement. Hoodies don't carry guns. George Zimmerman carried a gun. Hoodies are clothing. Our children, black and Hispanic, they should be able to wear clothing just like white children or any other child.

O'BRIEN: Natalie Jackson is the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family. She'll be attending I assume with those rallies this afternoon. Thanks for your time this morning. We appreciate it.

JACKSON: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: We're going to continue to follow this story from all angles. High school students walked out in protest in the Trayvon Martin shooting, some forming his initials on a football field. Teachers have been talking about the case around the country as well. We'll discuss all that straight ahead.

Plus Rick Santorum is lashing out at Mitt Romney and had harsh words for reporters too. No surprise on both fronts there and a Little Tears for Fears this morning, "Everybody Wants To Rule The World." A short break. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're listening to Will Cain's playlist, Chris Knight "Oil Patch Town."

Rick Santorum is fresh off a win in the Louisiana primary, I think it was 20 delegates in Louisiana, talking about Republicans, though, he says are not yet ready to hand the nomination off to Governor Mitt Romney.

Even though the governor has a big delegate lead, former governor, nearly half way toward the 1,144, magic number needed to win the nomination. Senator Santorum slammed the frontrunner yesterday during a campaign stop in Wisconsin. Here's what he said.


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why would we put someone up who is uniquely, pick any other Republican in the country. He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama. Why would Wisconsin want to vote for someone like that?


O'BRIEN: Senator Santorum would say I was talking about health care. I was talking about Romneycare. Will Cain is shaking his head.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Larry Craig is the worst choice.

O'BRIEN: He has since said he wanted to clarify his remarks. Are you surprised?

LENNY CURRY, CHAIRMAN, FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PARTY: I am surprised and look, each of the guys that are in the race had their shot to get this nomination. They rose and they fell. Mitt Romney has won Florida, Illinois, Ohio, battleground states that we're going to need to win in the general election in November.

So I would hope that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich would step back and think about how this is affecting us in our ability to compete in November in the general election. O'BRIEN: How do you think it's affecting? What do you think it is doing?

CURRY: Some have suggested this isn't hurting us because Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama drag their election out in June. The different was there was no incumbent then.

We have an incumbent president right now. It's raising money and sitting on money, which puts him in very a powerful position. Mitt Romney has made the case in multiple battleground states. I'm not endorsing, officially neutral.

O'BRIEN: You would never do that because officially you have to be neutral.

CURRY: And I am. But he's made the case and he's won in key battleground states, Florida being a very important one. It's time that Republicans step back and think about what's best for the party. We either really believed one of our nominees is better than President Obama or we don't.

DORIAN WARREN, POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSTIY: Isn't there a small "D" Democratic case to make for states that have not yet voted, for voters on those states to make a decision still in the process as opposed to party leadership.

Florida's voted already so that's kind of easy for to you say, but lots of voters in lots of states haven't voted. Shouldn't they have a chance to express their voice towards the ultimate nominee?

CURRY: They should. I would just hope that the folks in the race right now would step back, take a deep breath and assessed and analyze how what we're doing could affect the outcome in November.

CAIN: You can shake your head, Lenny, but I'm surprised that you're shocked. You and I just talked during the break about your own state that these two guys, Santorum and Gingrich want to rewrite the rules of your own state of Florida months after it took place. The whole thing smacks of desperation. Shake your head, but don't be surprised.

O'BRIEN: What is it, spoiler rule, why do the two of them don't get out, Gingrich and Santorum.

JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: Because there's a large group of social conservatives want them to keep on running and comedians, too, I'm rooting for a Santorum/Gingrich ticket.

O'BRIEN: But if you look at the exit polling maybe not out of the state of Louisiana, but Illinois, conservatives actually went for Mitt Romney, Tea Partiers went for Mitt Romney.

FUGELSANG: They did there, but there's discontent among the social conservative base regarding Governor Romney. There's distrust. It's not going to go away easily. I'm sure they'll rally behind him as an eventual nominee, but those folks who want to have their voices heard that's the only reason why Santorum at Pennsylvania Catholic is still in the race.

O'BRIEN: What kind of damage does this do? Do you think ultimately? Are independents like I'm done, I'm out, sick of this?

CURRY: Every day that this carries on we lose the opportunity to argue, make a compelling argument against what President Obama and his administration believes America should look like.

O'BRIEN: There's an argument that says, has been said 10 different times on the show, which is long time until November. There's plenty of time to make that argument. Can't you make up that lost ground before November?

CURRY: We'll deal with whatever hand we're dealt, but it would be better if we could wrap this thing up rapidly and begin to make the argument for I go back to. We want to argue for free enterprise. I believe the president's not about free enterprise. We're -- you cannot get time back. Time is precious and we're losing time every day.

O'BRIEN: I love having Lenny Curry right here. So I can pick his brain about the Florida Republican Party and the bigger Republican Party as well.

All right, we got to get to our tease ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, hundreds of students and dozens of schools walk out in protest of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Students across the country are saying it could have been them. We'll tell you what Steve Perry is telling his students at his school this morning.

Plus wedding crasher, the queen of England pops in on a couple of commoners getting hitched. She was actually invited so technically she wasn't a crasher. You're very cute. You're watching STARTING POINT. We'll share that story with you straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Students in Miami are going to return to school this morning after hundreds of them at more than 30 schools took parts in a walk-out for justice for Trayvon Martin on Friday.

The 17-year-old was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman a month ago today. One school they spelled out his initials on a field. It was so big you can see it right there.

You can see it from the air. School administrators and local police departments worked together to keep the huge crowds in order. You can listen to what some of the students said about why they walked out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It could have been us, you know? It could us lying on the ground face down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They should be put him in jail the man who killed him.


O'BRIEN: The topic is a huge topic of discussion at Steve Perry's school, which is Capital Preparatory School. It's nice to have Steve Perry joining us this morning.

First and foremost, I was surprised to hear you have two students named Trayvon. I don't know that was a particularly popular name, but is that right?

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: I didn't neither until we had them.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. So your students did not walk out. I would assume that is something you would never allow at Capital Prep. Were there discussions about it, though?

PERRY: I don't know that we wouldn't allow it. Our school theme is social justice and we want our children to be agents of change. The question is when you walk out where do you go and when you get there, what do you do?

See the thing is it's otherwise just walking out, a parade if you don't go somewhere and do something. For us, we want our children to understand that if you're going to participate in social disobedience, make sure that it's what it's for a purpose.

O'BRIEN: So then what kinds of conversations have your students having inside the classroom and outside the classroom amongst themselves and with the teachers and administrators? Was there a movement to get together a walk-out?

PERRY: Well, they've been -- I don't know they have necessarily been talking about walking out. But I think one of the things that have been interesting is similar to when I was in college and the Rodney King beating took place.

Among the students, they are not surprised by this. They are not surprised that African-American child would be profiled and murdered by someone who felt them to be a threat. I think what they are surprised is that nothing has happened as a result.

And that, I think, is disconcerting to them because even among the children who expect these types of things to occur, there's an expectation that the adults will let justice prevail.

And it's been a month since this child was, in fact, killed and nothing has been done in terms of arresting the gentleman who has, in fact, admitted to doing it. It does set them off and make them uncomfortable. O'BRIEN: John, I'm interested. You know, often, we think of students as very apathetic, but they are not all that interested in being a part of any kind of political process.

Maybe this is a bad definition and maybe not 100 percent political and more social action and political. Do you see encouragement in students walking out or do you see something wrong in that?

FUGELSANG: Well, I'm not a huge fan of a walk-out as Steve says it's just for the sake of walking out, but I do think we live in a society where kids know more about commercial jingle lyrics than civics.

I'd like to ask Steve, do you think that this can be a teachable moment where this tragedy can be used to educate young people and what advice would you give to other administrators and educators as to how to let kids know more about their own justice system from this tragedy?

PERRY: It is absolutely a teachable moment. In fact, we are at a time in which America is almost aplectic about the issue of race because on the one hand, we do have an African-American president and on the other hand, we have a child who is dead in Sanford, Florida, because I believe of his race.

And so we have to encourage our faculty to be honest about their own questions and concerns about race and racism as well as the children themselves. We have to understand here we are at a time in American history where people have come together to elect an African- American president from all races and walks of life.

And now we have a child who as the president said could have looked like his own child where he had a male child, dead.

O'BRIEN: So then what are you advising your students to do? As you mentioned your social justice school, does that mean there's some kind of a project, a program? What do you do?

PERRY: There are. Every single child is responsible to put forward a social justice project, but those things are already in place. What I'm expecting children to do is to learn from this in the ways that they can.

You know, we prepare our children as much as we can for the oftentimes when children will be pulled over by a police officer and some way made to submit to some authority. This is an outlier.

This is like lightning striking because no way to prepare the children for this in particular. We want them to do is put in place systems to punish those individuals who do, in some way, do the types of things that George Zimmerman has done.

O'BRIEN: So then what have your students been saying and doing? Are they upset? Are students crying?


O'BRIEN: Are they handling it emotionally how?

PERRY: They are upset. I don't know that they necessarily cry, but they are upset. But, again, peculiarly, our children, as I mentioned by comparison with the Rodney King, for those of us who were around the same age were not surprised, but that it was caught on tape.

I think that they are not surprised. They are surprised that nothing has happened. Again, I say I think they are blown away that the people in positions of power have simply not arrested a person who has admitted to shooting and killing another person.

O'BRIEN: Steve Perry joining us this morning. It's nice to see you, Steve. Thanks. We always appreciate your insights from Capital Prep.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, world leaders in South Korea this morning for the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit and President Obama with strong warning for both Iran and North Korea when it comes to nukes.

Plus an Easter Egg Hunt that had to be canceled because of pushy parents. I know. I'm stunned.

Also, if you're about to head to work, you don't have to miss the rest of the show. Go to our live blog on our web site, which is We're back in just a moment.