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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Interview with Norton Bonaparte, Jr., Wife Of Accused Shooter Speaks Out; Violence Continues in Syria; Rick Santorum Wins Louisiana Primary; Interview with Jackie Cushman; Cheating on Standardized Tests; Bosses Ask for Facebook Passwords
Aired March 26, 2012 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody.
Our STARTING POINT this morning: a call for justice coming from all across the country today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: We simply have become much too violent and much too trigger-happy as a country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: That's Reverend Jesse Jackson. He talked to us earlier, exactly one month after Trayvon Martin was gunned down. Thousands of people are expected to rally today. We're going to chat with Sanford's city manager about whether they're going to be able to keep the peace there.
Also, eyes on nukes. President Obama warning Iran and North Korea that they are running out of options, running out of friends and running out of time as well. Strong words as a nuclear summit begins in Seoul.
Plus, the wife of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales breaks her silence and says she is in total disbelief that her husband could have murdered nine children. We'll talk about what she must be going through as military wives stand by her.
And then another disappointing result for Newt Gingrich, over the weekend in a Southern state that he really needed to win. Is it time for him to get out of the race? We're going to talk to his daughter Jackie Cushman.
It is Monday, March 26. And STARTING POINT begins right now.
O'BRIEN: That's Lenny Curry's playlist.
This is Jay-Z and Rihanna and Kanye West, "Run This Town."
Lenny Curry thinks he is going to run this town! Is that what I'm read nothing your selection?
LENNY CURRY, FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: It's a good beat for a workout.
O'BRIEN: All right. You know, I do. I pick everything up what I like to run too on the treadmill. I don't know. A Florida friend coming into the big city. I used to have you.
Lenny, of course, as the chairman of the Florida Republican Party and he was kind enough to host us when we were in your state. So nice to be able to return the favor.
CURRY: Good to be here.
O'BRIEN: Also joining us -- thank you -- is John Fugelsang. He's a political comedian.
JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: Good morning.
O'BRIEN: Will Cain is a columnist for TheBlaze.com.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.
O'BRIEN: And Dorian Warren is political science assistant professor in Columbia University.
DORIAN WARREN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Good morning.
O'BRIEN: Nice to see you all.
We have been talking about the Trayvon Martin case. And today marks exactly one month since that 17-year-old is killed. This afternoon, thousands of people will be flooding into Sanford, Florida, to honor him. He was shot dead by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain.
The rally will begin this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Eastern outside the First United Methodist Church. And city officials will hold a town hall meeting in a Fort Lemmon Park in Sanford. Trayvon's parents are expected to speak there.
At a candlelight vigil for Martin last night, there were continued calls for justice, and tributes happening all over the country, including in many churches, where people wore hoodies to church. Really, that is completely inappropriate clothing church except, of course, they are trying to send a message about the outfit that Trayvon Martin was wearing on the night that he was killed.
Norton Bonaparte, Jr. is the Sanford, Florida city manager. And he's live with us this morning.
It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for being with us. We certainly appreciate it.
What are you hoping comes out of these various rallies and town hall meetings that I know that there's going to be the city council will be meeting as well? What's the goal out of these meetings?
NORTON BONAPARTE, JR., SANFORD, FLORIDA CITY MANAGER: First, let me say good morning and thank you for being here.
We have a real challenge. The goal for coming out at these rallies, we want to let people have an opportunity to express themselves. We know there's a lot of raw emotions. People are upset and I understand it here and we understand here in Sanford.
So, we're looking for the outcome is to have a peaceful rally, a peaceful meeting and that we'd love the community to move forward as well as the nation in recognizing what's really behind this and the concern that residents have, the concern for people around this country have in terms of how people are treated by the police and how the justice system works.
I've heard a lot of cries about Mr. Zimmerman should have been arrested. What we have been asking for as a city government is exactly that. Let's investigate and let's find out. Did the Sanford Police Department not do something they should have done and how have they handled the case?
What we want is what everybody wants, and that's justice for Trayvon Martin.
O'BRIEN: So, a lot of people will be coming into Sanford for the march and for the rallies, et cetera, et cetera. How is the town going to be able to respond to this huge influx of people that's expected?
BONAPARTE: Well, we have had a lot of preparation. In the past, we've had large rallies. We have an annual Fourth of July, which brings in 40,000 to 50,000 people. So we are used to dealing with large crowds. In this case, however, unlike the Fourth of July where people are coming to have a good time, people are coming here because they are angry.
And so, we are taking precautions. We are, in fact, trying to be as accommodating as we can. And again, we hope it's a peaceful rally.
O'BRIEN: In a pretty horrible new development, there's a group called the New Black Panthers and they have put, I'm sure you know this, a bounty on the head of George Zimmerman, the shooter in this case. The police chief who's temporarily stepped down last week has now been receiving death threats in the case.
Are you worried about security? To what degree?
BONAPARTE: We're taking security very seriously. This is a tense moment. But, again, we are looking for a peaceful rally today.
O'BRIEN: When you hear about this New Black Panthers group and this bounty, what's the react to that? I think it's pretty horrific.
BONAPARTE: Well, I think others have spoken before that people shouldn't take justice in their own hands if, in fact, that's what Mr. Zimmerman did, it was wrong. And so, for us to condone it by the same thing I think also would be wrong.
O'BRIEN: Have you been surprised, the degree to which this case has gotten national and international attention, sir?
BONAPARTE: No, because it hit a nerve. It's not just that this one situation is what's causing the uproar. This is in Sanford, a pattern that's, unfortunately, that there have been other instances years ago where the black community felt that the police treated them wrong and certainly as you look around the country.
This is just, I think, a tipping point at this point in time people are saying enough is enough. We've got to stop it. It just happens to be in Sanford, Florida.
FUGELSANG: Mr. Bonaparte, I've seen you give many interviews on TV and I must commend you as being a model of restraint and civility. I have no idea how you feel about this issue, and I guess that means you're very good at your job.
My question, sir, is about the Sanford chief of police. Can you tell us what his current status is? And is he in this temporary resignation still drawing a paycheck?
BONAPARTE: Yes, he is. He is on administrative leave, if you will. He has been -- he has stepped down from his role. So he is no longer operating the day-to-day or managing the day-to-day operations of the city police department, and we have two captains that have stepped in and they are doing a commendable job.
FUGELSANG: And he serves at your pleasure, sir. You have the authorization to fire him if you choose to do so?
BONAPARTE: Yes, I do. And people have questioned me about it and I stated and I continue to say, I've asked for an independent review by a law enforcement entity to come and tell me how did the Sanford Police Department do? Based upon that information and when I have that information, then I'll certainly be in a position to make a determination about the future of Chief Lee, as well as the entire Sanford Police Department.
O'BRIEN: The state's attorney's office now has this case. So, what happens next?
BONAPARTE: Well, that's exactly where we are in terms of the legal process. The Sanford Police Department turned the case to the state's attorney. The governor has gotten in and appointed a special prosecutor. The governor is looking at it, and we know that the president of the United States have weighed in.
So, we have a lot of eyes looking at this -- from the United States Department of Justice, to the FBI. So, I'm confident that the investigation, whether done by the Sanford Police Department was correct or not, is now being re-reviewed by the state's attorney office, by the federal Bureau of Justice and by the FBI.
I'm looking to have a complete, though investigation done by those entities so that we can, in fact, know exactly what happened, and that, again, justice is done.
O'BRIEN: Norton Bonaparte joining us this morning -- thanks for your time, sir. It's always nice to see you. We appreciate it.
BONAPARTE: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: In roughly 30 minutes, we're going to talk to Craig Sonner. He is George Zimmerman's attorney and he's going to joining us live, straight ahead.
Other stories that are making headlines, we've got to get to. And Christine has a look those for us.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.
President Obama and more than 50 other world leaders are meeting in Seoul, South Korea, this morning for the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit. The president is vowing to further reduce nuclear arms in talks with the Russians, and is calling on Iran and North Korea to halt their nuclear programs and have the, quote, "courage" to pursue peace.
The Supreme Court begins hearing arguments in less than two hours with 26 states challenging the legality of President Obama's signature health care overhaul. A ruling is expected in June. At the heart of this debate: whether the individual mandate is constitutional. That mandate requires most Americans to buy health care insurance or face a penalty in 2015.
Gas prices up again. AAA says the national average now $3.90. We're less than a quarter shy of the all-time high for gas set in 2008, $4.11 a gallon. Gas prices, though, it's all about where you live, of course. There are several parts of the country, mostly in the West and Northeast, already seeing $4 gallon gas or even higher.
Check on the markets this morning. Stock futures for the Dow, NASDAQ, S&P 500 all up. It was a mixed week for stocks last week. The S&P 500 is up 11 percent so far this year.
A lot depends on the economic reports due this week. The focus is on the American consumer. Several reports should give us a read on how we are feeling about the economic recovery.
How is the Fed Chief Ben Bernanke feeling about the economic recovery? He says the jobs market is improving but he is uncertain whether growth could be sustained. He actually says the jobs numbers we have been seeing are out of sync with what's happening in the overall recovery. He just started a speech at the National Association for Business Economics in Washington.
Queen Elizabeth, wedding crasher -- sort of a wedding crasher. She unexpectedly dropped in a wedding while in Manchester on official business. Bride and the groom were ready, though. They bowed, they curtsied, perfect protocol even though she was sort of a surprise.
She did get an invite almost as a goof. The couple said they didn't think she'd show up, but the queen said she wanted to meet this couple since she was going to be in Manchester anyway.
All right. He looks like head banger's ball sounds like Carnegie Hall. Seventeen-year-old Jonathan Antoine stopping the show -- wow -- on "Britain's Got Talent". Listen.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
ROMANS: He is being called Susan Boyle 2.0. "Britain's Got Talent" is the same show that produces Boyle, of course. This video has already been viewed millions of times on YouTube.
O'BRIEN: Good. He's good. I guess Simon was not so crazy about his partner, the female singer. He's like, ditch your partner and he refused to do it, because he says she's been so supportive and --
ROMANS: Which makes him even that much more heart-warming.
CAIN: About those viral moments like this when "Kony 2012" video got that massive viewership in week's time, it was compared against Susan Boyle's video.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
O'BRIEN: I love it. He's good. He's going to be a star. I call it now!
O'BRIEN: After he just won "Britain's Got Talent."
Christine, thank you.
Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, a support in solidarity for the wife of Robert Bales. He is the Army staff sergeant who's accused of killing Afghan civilians, including children in cold blood. Karilyn Bales is speaking out publicly for the first time.
We're also going to talk with two military spouses who are standing by her.
Say it ain't so, but really it's not a surprise. An Eastern egg hunt canceled because of overly aggressive parents.
John, you're a new parent. That's what you're going to be like in just about three years so.
This is John's playlist. Sting, "If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free."
You're watching STARTING POINT.
O'BRIEN: The wife of the soldier accused of a brutal massacre in Afghanistan is speaking out as we learn new information about that rampage. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has been charged with 17 counts of murder, and there are new reports that suggest he may have committed these acts in two separate outings.
So, he went out and then returned to the base in between and then went out again to a second village, and that could help the case that the attacks were premeditated. His wife, Karilyn Bales, has been speaking exclusively to NBC News. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARILYN BALES, ROBERT BALES' WIFE: He loves children. He's like a big kid himself.
MATT LAUER, HOST, "TODAY" SHOW: And he is accused of killing nine children.
LAUER: Innocent children.
BALES: It's unbelievable to me. I have no idea what happened, but he would not -- he loves children and he would not do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Military spouses have been speaking out in support and solidarity with Karilyn Bales, and two of those women join us this morning. Jacey Eckhart is the editor-in-chief of SpouseBuzz.com and Vicki Johnson is the author of "Dear Ms. Vicki" and military advice column. Both have been married to active duty soldiers for more than 20 years apiece.
Ladies, thank you for talking with us. I certainly appreciate it. Let me begin with you, Jacey. This crime is so horrific what is alleged to have happened. Have you ever had to give counsel to a military spouse that comes even, you know, anywhere close to what's been, you know, this so seriously involved here?
JACEY ECKHART, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SPOUSEBUZZ.COM: I have not. My job is to deal with military spouses on a day-to-day basis. At Spouse Buzz, we help spouses with the challenges of deployment, and then, everything you have to go through with reintegration at the end. I've never seen this before.
O'BRIEN: Yes? And, Vicki, tell me a little bit about your experiences. Obviously, something like this is really sort of, you know, on the far edge of what happens to soldiers, but what kind of advice and what kind of counsel are you called upon to help in?
VICKI JOHNSON, COLUMNIST, "DEAR MS. VICKI": Well, I work currently as a licensed clinical social workers. So, Soledad, I do work with service members and their families really on a daily basis. In addition, I get, you know, hundreds of letters each week expressing their concerns about depression, deployment, affects of multiple deployment, their relationships, et cetera.
O'BRIEN: Well, let's talk about some of that. Jacey, your husband has been deployed seven times, is that right? I think a lot of times, people look at the number of deployments and think maybe there's a correlation to what is alleged have happened in this case.
ECKHART: One of the things that is really important to remember is that the research says that depression -- I'm sorry, deployment is not related to marital dissatisfaction, and that's certainly what I've experienced. The important distinction here is the difference between deployment and combat.
Combat is related to higher levels of posttraumatic stress, and that's related to lower marital satisfaction, lower confidence in the relationship, and lower belief that the relationship is going to go on.
O'BRIEN: Here's Mrs. Bales talking to Matt Lauer on the "Today" show about exactly that. I want to play a little shot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAUER: Is it possible in your mind that this is just the stress of war?
BALES: That's what I thought of. Yes. It seems like this mission was different than the Iraq tours. So, more intense.
LAUER: Do you believe that your husband ever showed signs of PTSD prior to this deployment or during this deployment?
BALES: I don't know a lot about the symptoms of PTSD, so I wouldn't know. He doesn't have nightmares, you know, things like that. No dreams.
LAUER: Trouble concentrating?
LAUER: Erratic behavior shifts, anything like that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: So, Vicki.
O'BRIEN: What was your first reaction when you first heard about this and how do you feel towards what Mrs. Bales is going through right now? JOHNSON: You know, my heart really goes out to her, Soledad. It's really not her fault. She's a spouse. She really does deserve support. But I think when we look at every aspect of Sgt. Bales' life, I mean, we can't say definitively why it happened or that it would happen, but he had TBI, he had momentum multiple deployments, financial problems --
O'BRIEN: That's traumatic brain injury?
JOHNSON: Yes. My apology. Traumatic brain injury. I mean, so you do have a lot of risk factors and then put in a combat environment. All of those are risk factors. We can't say, you know, why it happened, but he definitely had all the risk factors.
O'BRIEN: So, Jacey, let me give the final question to you. The people who followed both of because I know you have very active blogs and you reach out and get letters, et cetera, et cetera. Are you getting a sense that people are angry? Are they angry at Sgt. Bales for maybe putting the military mission in Afghanistan in jeopardy? Are they sympathetic towards Mrs. Bales? What's the sense?
ECKHART: My sense is that people's first concern is for the Afghan families. You can't hear about nine children being killed and not see your own children there. Tragic for them, first. A huge amount of support for Kerry Bales. We can see ourselves in her.
And then, there is a concern for ourselves as military family that something like this could have happened to one of our own, that we missed something, that we let this happen. It's very, very serious for us.
O'BRIEN: Jacey Eckhart and Vicki Johnson are military wives. Thank you for joining us this morning.
JOHNSON: Thank you, Soledad.
ECKHART: Thank you for having us.
O'BRIEN: You bet.
Still ahead on STARTING POINT, Pope Benedict is touring Latin America. He's heading to Cuba today as a historic agglutination that was once officially Atheist. We're going to come to you live from Havana straight ahead this morning.
Plus, an Easter egg hunt so out of control that they had to call it off, not because of badly behaved children, but because of badly behaved parents. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: Old school. This is my high school experience.
FUGELSANG: I miss her.
O'BRIEN: I know. I know. Do you know how great she looks? I saw her not that long ago. She doesn't look a minute older.
FUGELSANG: -- loves her is Ringo Starr, and she's been touring with Ringo Starr's last couple of all-star bands, playing this every night with her, and Ringo playing drums side-by-side.
O'BRIEN: Yes. She's amazing. She's amazing.
You can check out our entire playlist at CNN.com/STARTINGPOINT.
OK. So, no one is getting an egg now in this Easter hunt. I love this story. A very popular Easter egg hunt that was held every year in Colorado Springs and attended by hundreds of children has been called of this year, because the parents couldn't behave. Literally, the parents could not behave. That was the old Colorado City Association that put on the egg hunt last year.
Apparently, it was so popular, there weren't enough eggs to go around. Parents went completely crazy. They also didn't have enough space to hide the eggs, you know, so they just put them out in the field because the little kids need to just go pick them up of the ground. Anyway, needless to say, the parents started running over the barricades trying to grab up the eggs off the ground that their kid could get an egg, too.
FUGELSANG: But how are kids going to learn about Jesus if they don't do this?
CAIN: I don't see a problem.
O'BRIEN: What are you talking about?
CAIN: You got to get yours.
O'BRIEN: I will say this, and I haven't had this experience with Easter egg hunts but with the pinatas, like you do have -- as a parent, you have to get involved to protect your kid.
CAIN: So, are you saying you are an Easter egg hunting parent, actually?
O'BRIEN: I've never actually --
FUGELSANG: What better way to celebrate the anti-violence message of Christ than trampling over someone else's children, the colored Easter egg hunt --
O'BRIEN: Oh, it's just a fun thing to do with kids.
LENNY CURRY, CHAIRMAN OF FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PARTY: We do the Easter egg thing at our church, but they separate the fields older kids and smaller kids.
O'BRIEN: So smart. So smart. Because in the pinata thing, that's the problem, the older kids will trample. Like, you have a three-year-old. Your three-year-old will be trampled by a seven-year- old who's twice the size.
FUGELSANG: -- he's going to be really confused with us people.
CAIN: -- joystick parenting only applies to all the good things in life. We won't discipline. This coincides with the lack of discipline our children at the same time. We joystick into the benefits but, no, no, you're not going to be in trouble?
O'BRIEN: What are you talking about? That's not true! We do both. You can help them through some things.
CAIN: No, no, read tiger mom and French babies, we don't discipline our kids.
O'BRIEN: Oh, please. Please, please, I'm a Cuban mom. We discipline our children very hard. Thank you. Right before we pray over them.
FUGELSANG: Yes, you're Cuban Irish, right?
O'BRIEN: I don't know what you're talking about.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, this morning, there are growing calls for George Zimmerman to be arrested, but he says through his attorney that it was self-defense. Zimmerman's attorney, Craig Sonner, is going to join us this morning straight ahead.
Plus, GOP pressure mounts for Newt Gingrich to get out of the presidential race, but he doesn't seem to be budging. We're going to talk to his daughter, Jackie Cushman, live, straight ahead, as well. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: That is Dorian Warren's playlist. That's Sam Cooke, "A Change Is Going to Come." Every tries to sing along, but let Sam sing it by himself.
WARREN: He was inspired by Bob Dylan, who wrote that song. He sounded like Krusty the Klown, but I thought it was beautiful when Bob Dylan sang it.
O'BRIEN: Let's get to the headlines with Christine. Good morning, Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Turkey says it can no longer ignore atrocities on its doorstep. It's closing embassy in Syria. Estimates say about 17,000 Syrian refugees who have fled the violence are now in Turkey. A human rights group says 14 more people were killed in Syria the past few hours.
Two priests set to go on trial this morning on a case that has rocked the Philadelphia archdiocese. Monsignor William Lynn is the first Catholic church official criminal charged with knowing about priest sex abuse but conspiring to cover it up. Lynn's co-defendant, Father James Brennan, is accused of molesting a young boy. Last week a third codefendant, a defrocked priest, pleaded guilty of raping another boy and was sentenced up to five years in prison.
Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba today. CNN's Patrick Oppmann is live in Havana with more on the Pope's agenda. Good morning.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you. That's right. The eastern city of Santiago is gearing up the Pope' arrival this afternoon and there he'll deliver a large scale public mass and take a pilgrimage to Cuba's patron saint. Tomorrow, he heads here to Havana and meeting with not only Raul Castro and Fidel Castro, a Pope meeting with not one but two communist heads of state.
ROMANS: Patrick Oppmann in Havana.
He was tasered, handcuffed, and dragged face down across the floor. Authorities in Oklahoma City are now investigating this video showing an incident at Will Rogers World Airport which happened back on February 20. Police say they stopped James Heidebrecht, after he tried to get past security to speak with presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. Wow. Local station KOCO reports Gingrich was in Oklahoma but not at the airport at the time. The police told ABC News the man was suffering mental issues.
In this week's "Smart Is the New Rich," a gut check on housing for you. The value of your largest asset still down. Prices the lowest in 10 years, and interest rates are still incredibly low. Is that going to finally going to spark some action in real estate? Rents are rising and it's now cheaper now to buy a home than rent one in 98 of the 100 top metro areas in the U.S. The only place that makes more sense to rent is Honolulu and San Francisco. Home sales are picking up but a third of those purchases are people paying with cash. Investors from China and Latin America like American real estate right now, but what about the rest of us?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that people need to discipline themselves. They need to take advantage of the low house prices that are probably going to stay low for the next couple years. Use this time to build up some savings so you can actually get in while the price points are low.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: It's a once in a lifetime combination, he says. If you have the money, home prices could keep falling. They could keep falling but mortgage rates are getting higher. The timing could be right for you. The rate on a 30-year fixed jumped four percent last week for the first time since October. The 15-year, the popular for refinancing is about 3.25 percent here right now.
All right, he has done it. Director James Cameron has returned after plunging to the deepest spot on earth, the Pacific Ocean's Mariana trench. "National Geographic," his partner in this journey, says Cameron reached a depth of 35,756 feet below sea level early this morning, seven miles down. Listen to Cameron describe his descent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CAMERON, DIRECTOR: When you go past where the Mirs can go and you're still only, you know, halfway there, two-thirds of the way there, it's crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Cameron planned to spend up to six hours on the Pacific Ocean sea floor collecting samples for scientific research and filming for a documentary. He's the first man to do to that on a solo mission. The last team to do it was in 1960.
O'BRIEN: Amazing, amazing pictures. Christine, thank you.
Rick Santorum is 10 delegates richer this morning after he won the Louisiana primary over the weekend. But it doesn't change the overall dynamics of the race, unfortunately for him. Mitt Romney is dominating in the hunt for delegates, and Newt Gingrich remains a distant third. You see the numbers there on the screen, approaching dangerous territory and losing some of his key supporters. Many people don't think he could mount a comeback at this point. Listen to what Crystal Wright, who is a Washington, D.C. delegate for Newt Gingrich, told CNN over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRYSTAL WRIGHT, GINGRICH DELEGATE: I think at a certain point, and it's probably going to be in the near term rather than the long term, that Newt Gingrich is going to have to step aside because he has only won two contests. The delegates aren't there for him and the math isn't adding up and he is going to go down looking like a spoiler.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: She went on to say, listen, I'm a realist. Joining us from Atlanta is Jackie Cushman, a syndicated columnist and also Newt Gingrich's daughter. Thank you for talking to us. Certainly appreciate it. JACKIE CUSHMAN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Thank you for having me on.
O'BRIEN: Let's throw up the results from Louisiana. Rick Santorum was the big winner there winning 49 percent of the vote, and Mitt Romney 27 percent, your dad at 16 percent of the vote, and Ron Paul at six percent. When you look at these numbers, what do these results tell you about how your dad is doing, not only in the state of Louisiana but doing overall? He has only won two states.
CUSHMAN: I think it's very important, Soledad, for us to look not at just the results of the one state but where we are in the race and I think a couple of things. As you know and as most of your audience knows, you have to have 1,144 delegates before the convention to lock up the nomination. The reality is if you look at the math for all of the candidates, not just for Newt Gingrich or not just for Rick Santorum but even Mitt Romney who is currently in the lead right now, it is not a definite fact they will get that 1,144 delegates.
So what that means is there's a very high likelihood we will end up having an open convention or a contested convention, or use whatever word you want to have before convention, but the fact of the matter remains it's very likely the Republicans will not have a nominee before they go to the convention this fall.
O'BRIEN: We have some words from some high ranking Republicans who said this about the chances for Mitt Romney. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I think the primary is over. Romney will be the nominee.
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) WISCONSIN: I don't know he would say it he has it wrapped up. He's clearly on his way and the prohibitive front- runner. I think the sooner we coalesce Romney the better off we are going to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: That was Lindsey Graham and Paul Ryan. Do you think that they are wrong?
CUSHMAN: I think we have a different perspective. I agree with Governor Palin who said several times part of this primary and part of the reason she is interested in continuing it allows us to talk about ideas and platforms.
And one of the reasons that my dad is very intent on staying in, let's look at the last few weeks. He has been very focused, Newt Gingrich has been very focused on an American energy policy, talking about using our own resources to get gas down to become independent of the Middle East and also pay down our own debt. That conversation, those ideas have driven the White House to respond. That is huge. We have a Republican candidate who is driving the national narrative with the White House. That's very important. And it's very important that we have these ideas come up and be talked through and American people to listen to them as part of the primary process.
O'BRIEN: So it sounds like you're saying staying in the race might make you a spoiler but it basically gives you an open mike for the media to chase you around and give you an opportunity to talk about things, issues that you want to bring up, even if it does mean you're undermining potentially the front-runner?
CUSHMAN: I disagree that we are undermining the front-runner. You know? Clearly that is what Mitt Romney team thinks and continues to talk about. What we believe it's very important for the American people, for the American voters to talk about, to think about ideas. Does the media help with that? Absolutely. That is how you get to the American people is through the media, so it's very important to use that.
But what is most important, the reason my father is running is he believes in the power of the American people. He believes in the power of ideas. He believes that as a nation working together we can be more and do more and that is what he is focusing on.
O'BRIEN: Let's talk money for a moment. There is a report in Reuters that says your father's money in the bank is essentially the equivalent to the money that he owes in debts as well, and there reports of people who work on the campaign saying they have been submitting voices that they haven't been paid sometimes just a little bit of money and sometimes a lot of money. Is he going to -- can they just not afford to pay those folks?
CUSHMAN: With all campaigns, you know, we are constantly raising more money and spending money and a lot of that is the timing issue. I would encourage everyone that either likes the ideas, that likes the idea of $2.50 a gas to go to Newt.org and donate. Does the campaign need more money for advertising, et cetera? Absolutely. You'll hear the same thing from Rick Santorum's campaign and the same thing from Mitt Romney's campaign and hear the same thing from president Obama's campaign. All campaigns are driven by money. We absolutely would love for people that like the idea of big ideas and like the idea $2.50 to go to Newt.org and donate because the donations are incredibly important.
O'BRIEN: Final question for you. President Obama was talking about Trayvon Martin last week, and he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Your father later responded with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Is the president suggesting if it had been a white who had been shot that would be OK because it wouldn't look like him? That's just nonsense. Dividing this country up, it is a tragedy that this young man was shot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Do you think the president was suggesting there, if it would be OK for a white person, young man, to be shot? That seemed to be your dad's interpretation of what the president was saying.
CUSHMAN: I never would guess what is in anyone's head when they say something. The fact of the matter is it's a tragedy. I'm the mother of two children. It's a tragedy when any child in America is shot and a tragedy in America when any child in America, something like that happens to them. It doesn't matter what color, what background, where they live, it is a tragedy. And all American children should feel safe and be safe and as Americans, we should focus on that.
O'BRIEN: Jackie Cushman, thank you for joining us.
CUSHMAN: Thank you so much.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, a new report shows that kids across the entire country had been cheating.
Plus, two senators trying to make a federal case out of the practice of employers asking job applicants for their Facebook passwords. Yes, yes, yes. That's interesting, right? Before you get the job, we need to check out -- you need to friend us and we need your password. We have details on that straight ahead. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: Cheating on standardized tests, apparently it happens all over the country. There is a new report that has come out in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" and it uncovered just how widespread the problem is. The newspaper looked at 1.6 million records from nearly 70,000 public schools nationwide and found suspicious score increases, higher numbers of erasures and other irregularities in about 200 school districts.
Steve Perry is the founder of Capital Prep Magnate School in Hartford, Connecticut. He's also -- God I'm having a hard time, CNN -- CNN education contributor. Nice to see you. They are talking about roughly 70,000 schools and it was really all an analysis of patterns in this report. How widespread, Steve, is this problem?
STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's in many of the largest districts in America and in some of the smaller ones as well. And this to me, is one of the biggest stories in public education because it serves to undermine the very purpose of education, that somehow a group of the most senior educators in a building, that being the principal, the vice principal and some of the department chairs, would sit down and literally go in and change the answers of children so that it would present themselves as if they had done their job which they have not.
O'BRIEN: Yes that's what I thought was really compelling in this report that it wasn't sort of one teacher trying to make her students look good or his students look good, that there was a whole system that often involved maybe the superintendent, people at the very top and then actual like parties at an event. I think it was a party literally in one case where they all went over to somebody's house to actually make changes to the exams.
PERRY: What's stunning about this is that in one case, one principal is alleged to have worn gloves to erase the answers. In order for this to occur --
O'BRIEN: So he wouldn't get his fingerprints on the paper.
PERRY: -- it has to be premeditated. That means that these individuals have to sit down, someone has to create an answer key and then call out the answers to the other clowns in the room who are going to sit there and erase the answers of the children and then set these children, the families and then the teachers who will get them next year up to fail.
O'BRIEN: So let me ask you a question Steve. And before you get to the other part, you know this is the "Atlanta Journal Constitution". The newspaper sort of looking at this formula of changes because they could analyze that in third grade, the students were doing this well. By fourth grade, often their improvements had crashed, of course, because it wasn't the same group of students. It was -- you know they weren't focusing on the tests.
So this is a newspaper monitoring it. And is there anybody in the state who runs similar numbers and also says oh wow, we're seeing the same things, you know, we're going to do something about it?
PERRY: In some cases, there was some states that did find something. But there's nothing that the "Atlanta Journal- Constitution" did that the states couldn't do themselves.
But because some of them became drunk on the relative success, they let it fall. They let these children be failed by these educators and sadly, sadly, most of the educators had nothing happen to them. Many of them have kept their jobs. Some of them lost their jobs for a little while and then their organizations fought to get them their jobs back and not only did they get their jobs back they get jobs back with back pay. Meanwhile, those children have lost a year or two of education and no one is saying anything.
O'BRIEN: It's a real victimization of poor students too. Because the students that they -- were struggling could have gotten actual help but if they are not going to be identified as struggling, no one is ever going to step in and help them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
O'BRIEN: Steve Perry thanks for the update. He gets so mad. I'm mad too.
FUGELSANG: Wearing gloves? Like "CSI" board of ed.
O'BRIEN: Isn't that crazy? That's just crazy.
All right, still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT. If you want a job, you've got to hand over your Facebook password. That's right. I had to get passwords for everybody on this panel. Lenny, thank you for your password. It's very interesting what's on your Facebook page. Oh I was kidding.
O'BRIEN: Some senators are fighting back and they want the feds to step in on this. We're going to talk about that up next on STARTING POINT.
O'BRIEN: It was always the love songs. That's Will's playlist. The Eli Young Band, I like that Will.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: Some up to news today. All right, so when we had our panelist join, here is what we did, we will ask for resume, we asked for two years of back taxes for everybody and we also wanted their Facebook passwords so I can get on to you accounts log in and really just check out what you're really like. The stuff you don't show us here.
In all seriousness two senators are now asking the Justice Department to investigate reports that people are being asked for their Facebook passwords as they are being interviewed for jobs. It's Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. They say the practice should not be happening even Facebook is warning employers don't do it. And telling jobseekers to refuse to hand over passwords which is odd, right?
Well Facebook said, I don't have to handover my password. I don't know that that's going to help you in your job interview. But that's kind of creepy.
FUGELSANG: I'm very willing to give them my MySpace password. They can have that and but if you want my Friendster, go ahead.
O'BRIEN: Although you know really should be people just shouldn't put stuff on Facebook, right?
FUGELSANG: No that's not true at all. They shouldn't be asking for this password. And you know the obvious solution is you can have two Facebook profiles. One for your friends and one professionally. I think employers have a right to look at someone's Facebook page and see if they're hiring a complete muppet. But the password is just unreasonable and it seems like something that liberals and conservatives could really agree on. CAIN: And you and I completely agree on this. I think an employer going to a Facebook page and seeing what's publicly posted is totally legit.
FUGELSANG: Right on.
CAIN: But asking for the password is like asking to go through your underwear drawers. It's just a little bit offensive, is it legal? Should it be legal, I don't know about Schumer and Blumenthal but it's definitely inappropriate.
O'BRIEN: Where do you stand on this Lenny?
CURRY: I'm happy to turnover my Facebook password, because all you'll find is the great things that Governor -- Governor Scott is doing in Florida it's creating jobs. The unemployment is at a three- year low -- that's my Facebook page.
O'BRIEN: Yes, so you don't have a personal Facebook. You're all about, you know, that your profile is going to be what everybody is looking at.
CURRY: All politics and family.
O'BRIEN: Yes. I get it, I get it. He is going to be running for president one day, Lenny. There will be no Facebook pictures in his Facebook page.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I give my Facebook password to all of my students.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the time and they just post whatever they want.
O'BRIEN: You lie.
All right, "End Point" is up next with the panel. We're back in a moment. Like really?
COSTELLO: Oh Kool and the Gang. Get down on, I love it, I love it, that's a good way to end today.
We were scheduled to talk to George Zimmerman -- Craig Sonner rather. He is the attorney for George Zimmerman and we were scheduled to talk to him today and we had some logistical problems with that interview. We're going to try to get him for tomorrow morning. I just want to remind everybody.
Here is a little bit of what he said earlier this morning on the NBC's "Today" show. Listen.
Well, I'm going to tell you what he said, rather. He said this. "When the evidence comes out it will show that George Zimmerman was acting in self-defense in the case. The one fact that we do know is that George Zimmerman suffered a broken nose and injuries to the back of his head and there were signs of a scuffle, a green grass stain on the back of his shirt."
So he is claiming self-defense in this. We're going to get a chance to ask him about that tomorrow.
We move to right "End Point" this morning. Who wants to go first? Will Cain, I'm going to pick you.
CAIN: Yes, because I've been in the middle of the debate about this Trayvon Martin case because I've been unwilling to join the outrage up to this point. I think I want my message to be this. The racial profiling -- potential racial profiling aspects of this case. George Zimmerman's ultimate guilt, the personal tragedy for Trayvon and his parents and the legitimacy of the Florida "Stand Your Ground" law in my mind should all be analyzed separately and, unfortunately, that's hard to do in short television.
What we do really well in television is outrage. And I wish we could have a full conversation on all these issues.
O'BRIEN: Well, that brings us to a special that we're going to be doing on this very topic. Maybe we will get a chance to talk to you about that a little bit later in the week.
What do you think, Lenny? What have you got?
CURRY: I want to say happy birthday to Bridget Caroline Curry my little girl turned three today.
O'BRIEN: Oh, she's three and you're missing her birthday.
CURRY: We had a birthday party yesterday.
O'BRIEN: All right. Lenny, you get --
CURRY: And quickly also, I want to say that to our candidates that Florida is the model for job creation under Governor Scott and I'd like to see our candidates talking about that in the presidential and I think Governor Mitt Romney has made the case, it's time to coalesce.
O'BRIEN: John, you've got ten seconds.
FUGELSANG: In honor of Obamacare's second birthday I'd like to call Medicare LBJ Care; Social Security, FDR Care; and tax cuts for rich guys who don't need it W Care. And I want to thank Rod Blagojevich for giving me his hair today.
O'BRIEN: He kind of did that on the hair today.
That's it. Let's get to "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello. That begins right now.
See everybody back here tomorrow morning. Hey Carol.