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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Voice Expert Weighs In on Trayvon Martin 911 Call; Winners Still to Come Forward in Mega Millions Lottery; Scientists Claim Toddlers Stop Being Cute at Four-and-a-half Years Old; Bin Laden Widows Charged; Muslim Brotherhood Reverses Pledge; Swift Wins Big!; Michelle Obama "Slimed"; GOP End Game; AC360 Study: "Kids On Race"; Romney Pranked On April Fool's Day

Aired April 2, 2012 - 06:59   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, who screamed the night that Trayvon Martin was killed? Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he look hurt?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't see him. I don't want to go out there. I don't know what's going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: You could hear the screaming. Two experts now say the voice that was crying for help on a 911 call just before Trayvon Martin was shot to death was not the voice of George Zimmerman. We're going to talk this morning to an expert who explains his analysis.

Also, do children see race? A groundbreaking study on how race impacts children as young as six and why parents should watch what they're talking about. I'm going to talk to Anderson Cooper about it this morning.

Plus they got paid to bring the pain, and now NFL players are facing possible criminal charges for those bounty hits that went on down the field.

And three winners, 100 million losers, and I was one of them -- the mega millions winners come out, supposed to claim their prize maybe today while the rest of us are at work. It is Monday, April 2nd and STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

O'BRIEN: Did that music just change in the middle? That's Celeste Headlee's playlist. She's the host of "The Takeaway." Peter Beinart is the author of "The crisis of Zionism," also a senior political writer for "The Daily Beast," and Will Cain is a columnist for TheBlaze.com. Nice to have you all. Another Trayvon Martin march this morning, this time of course the defense team for the Martin family is hoping to bring some pressure on investigators, not only to arrest George Zimmerman as they've continually maintained, they also want to look into the attorney who apparently sort of dismissed the lead investigator's efforts to have George Zimmerman charged.

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST, "THE TAKEAWAY": That's right. It was on the original police reports as manslaughter and supposedly they're alleging it was interfered with and want the Department of Justice to open a second investigation. They're opening an investigation into the case of Trayvon Martin's death and they want to open a second one to see if the Florida officials interfered.

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see. Hate crimes of course are notoriously difficult to prove anyway, but you've heard from lawyers on all sides saying that early on that they thought in this particular case it's going to be more difficult to prove.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's because we have so much evidence and yet nobody was there except George Zimmerman. In the end it's a he- said/she-said argument, and therefore it's difficult to prove whether Trayvon Martin attacked him or didn't. At that point no one really knows. We just have circumstantial evidence.

O'BRIEN: The latest is the audio, I guess investigation into who exactly was screaming, a big question remaining in the case. Who was it crying for help? You could hear it over 911 when people would call in, could you hear the shrieking on their phone calls. We have a little bit, I want to play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he look hurt?

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: I've heard that now 20 times and every single time it still stuns me. There are different witnesses' accounts to what exactly happened. Here's how one witness described it to Anderson Cooper. We have enhanced the voice, disguised it, because we're trying to hide the identity of this witness so listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard the yell for help, one yell for help and then I heard another as I described excruciating type of yell. It didn't even sound like a help, it just sounded so painful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Zimmerman said he was yelling for help as he was being attacked by Martin. According to the original police report, Zimmerman said this, "I was yelling for someone to help me, but no one would help me." A top forensic audio expert has analyzed the 911 tapes for "The Orlando Sentinel." Tom Owen is with Owen Forensic Services. Give us a sense of how you do this analysis.

TOM OWEN, OWN FORENSIC SERVICES LLC: Soledad, it's done in a manner in which there's a comparison made between a known and unknown voice. In this instance, George Zimmerman is a known voice. He identified himself on the 911 call. So we know who that is, and then we have the voice of the person who is screaming, and we consider that the unknown, because we really don't know who that is at this point.

O'BRIEN: We've played a couple of times the screaming. I want to play that and then compare it to George Zimmerman's voice that we know from the 911 tapes first, and I'll ask you a question on the other side of us listening to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So I know you were able to sort of compile all that different screaming and put it together into one approximately nine- second-long clip and here is a little bit of George Zimmerman from the 911 tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Hi, we've had some break-ins here, and there's a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's walking around and looking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: How is it possible to compare two voices when the context is so different? One is shrieking and the other one is speaking almost quietly into the phone?

OWEN: Well, the difference between the old comparisons where you had to have verbatim speech are the people saying the same thing.

O'BRIEN: Right.

OWEN: And today the biometric software is able to define three different things, specto-graphic information, pitch information, and what we refer to galsium (ph) variation, and how much between the words people speak. The software today which is in use at NSA, CIA, and FBI is able to do that and do that efficiently with no subjectivity whatsoever being thrown into the mix. That's what this particular software does.

O'BRIEN: OK, so from your software, what was your takeaway?

OWEN: Well, let me just do this for you quickly. We have the tape of Zimmerman, we have the tape of the screams, and then we can start the comparison, and basically it's going to do this comparison, if you can see the screen now. And it's going to give me some false rejection rates, some false acceptance rates, and a likelihood ratio, OK. And this gray dot over here designates the very lower end of the scale, which in essence is translated as it's not him.

O'BRIEN: Meaning what, there must be a percentage, of course that you're determining you don't believe it's George Zimmerman. What's that number?

OWEN: Right. Well, the number that the if it was George Zimmerman, for example, let me just do something else here. Let's go back and compare Zimmerman with Zimmerman, and let's see what that gives us.

O'BRIEN: So you're talking about --

OWEN: It's 99 percent.

O'BRIEN: So speaking voice compared to speaking voice gives you something. So yelling voice to speaking voice, whoever is screaming on the tape, what percentage are you coming up with?

OWEN: Well, it's 48 likelihood ratio for the screaming voice versus Zimmerman. I just wanted to show you even if we take the screaming voice and compare that just so, you know, you have something to compare it with, and you do the comparison here, this is what we come up with -- 99 percent.

O'BRIEN: Screaming to screaming. Let me ask you a question --

OWEN: The software -- the software is able to delineate the difference between the two voices. That's my point.

O'BRIEN: Are you brought into a courtroom to do this exact thing with this exact software?

OWEN: Yes. I've testified at approximately 300 times in 41 different states, and not always on voice identification. But the last voice identification was with this software in Connecticut, state versus Davalieu (ph), which was a murder trial, and a 911 call was the focus of the trial.

O'BRIEN: And you say it's 48 percent likelihood it would be George Zimmerman. What is the bar in a courtroom? Is it 78 percent? Is it 99 percent? Where do you say for you as the analyzer that it clearly is not the individual you're trying to match it to? What's the number?

OWEN: Because what would happen is, you would see a green dot like we saw the green dots when we compared Zimmerman against Zimmerman and the screams against the screams. I don't know if you noticed that, but right here there was a green dot, and it said 99 percent over here. So if we're comparing Zimmerman versus the screams, then we're getting a likelihood ratio of 48 percent, and a false rejection rate of 12.35 percent, and a false acceptance rate of 14.9 percent. Those low numbers get translated as it's very unlikely it is the same person. What the software is telling --

O'BRIEN: Yes -- what would that number be though? For you to be comfortable to go into a courtroom, what would that number have to be, in the 70s, the 80s? At what point do you get the green dot that says yes, we sort of have a match?

OWEN: Well, you'd have to get over 60 percent and the green dot. The green dot just delineates the software and the filters that are used, the three set of filters that are used in the software.

O'BRIEN: Quick final question before I let you go.

OWEN: The green --

O'BRIEN: There's no indication at this point that is the confirmation that that's Trayvon Martin's voice, is there?

OWEN: No. I have nothing to compare it with. If I was, if I had something to compare, then I would be able to tell you whether that's Trayvon's voice or not.

O'BRIEN: Have you reached out or do you intend to reach out to Trayvon's family and get an audio clip of him in some way, shape or form and try to match it?

OWEN: Well, actually the public is doing that. I've received a number of e-mails where people have attempted to reach the family or the police forces as well, or even George Zimmerman. I would be happy to do an exemplar of George Zimmerman.

O'BRIEN: OK, as you know a lot of the conversation that we've had about this 911 call has focused about 2:20 in, where I hear a curse and then a racial slur. You know what I'm talking about on this?

OWEN: On the 911 call?

O'BRIEN: Yes. So if you go about 2:20 in, lots of debate over --

OWEN: Right.

O'BRIEN: So have you investigated that at all? What is your analysis say, can you clarify that so people can hear and decide yes, in fact, that is what I think it is or that it's not what I think it is?

OWEN: I could certainly clarify that, but I've not been asked to do that.

O'BRIEN: So if I asked to you do that, would you do that?

OWEN: I very well may do that.

O'BRIEN: How long does it take, like hours or weeks?

OWEN: It would take me at least a day or two.

O'BRIEN: OK, you know, I'd be hugely interested in that. And if you can clarify that and tell me that it is what I think it is or it's not what I think it is, I'd be very interested in knowing what forensic analysis says those words are. Mr. Tom Owen is a forensic consultant for Owen Forensic Services. Yes, sir, was there a final word you wanted to say before I let you go?

OWEN: Yes, I'll be happy to do that and maybe I'll see you again.

O'BRIEN: I think Wednesday is what you've promised me. Thank you, sir. Appreciate your time.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: I'm doing my own forensic analysis on what you just said, he's confirmed for Tuesday or Wednesday morning with us. Thank you, Mr. Owen. Appreciate your time this morning.

All right, we got a lot to get to on headlines. Christine has a look at those. Hey, Christine, good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. A passenger plane crashes during takeoff, killing 31 people on board, including all four crew members. This plane was traveling from an oil-producing town in Siberia. Officials say air traffic control lost contact with the pilot just after takeoff. The plane burst into flames, broke into pieces. All 12 survivors are in intensive care right now. Crews recovered the plane's data recorders. Experts from Russia, France, Canada and Britain are investigating now.

A dramatic rescue at sea -- two injured sailors were plucked from a racing yacht by the U.S. Coast Guard some 270 miles off the California coast. The yacht was disabled after being hit by a monster wave. The four-person crew was competing in an around the world race on the high seas. The sailors were air lifted to San Francisco for medical treatment.

Pro-democracy leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi claimed a landslide victory for her party in elections for Myanmar's parliament. Kyi has led the struggle against military rule in that country for two decades. The election marks the country's first steps towards reform. She says she hopes the historic vote will prompt the west to ease sanctions.

NFL players could soon face criminal charges in the case of those bounty hits where they made money to take out opposing teams' players during games. That's according to reports this morning that also say the players association has hired lawyers to represent them. Commissioner Roger Goodell is still weighing punishment for players connected to those bounties. He's already suspended Saints' head coach Sean Payton for the season and team's former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely. G.M. Mickey Loomis and assistant coach Joe Vitt were also suspended. The champion in the NCAA tourney will be crowned tonight. Kansas and Kentucky will go head-to-head for the national title in New Orleans. Kansas pulled off a stunning comeback over Ohio State Saturday to get there, and Kentucky held off rival Louisville to advance. This will be Coach John Calipari's second championship game. His first was Memphis four years ago when Kansas defeated them.

Meanwhile, Kentucky fans acting like they've never been to a championship before, starting fires and rioting after their win. Some even carried out a sofa and set it on fire. There are reports police arrested more than two dozen people, and thankfully no one was seriously hurt. Police are taking some extra steps tonight to prevent a repeat.

It might just be the worst movie ever. Adam Sandler's cross- dressing comedy called "Jack & Jill" made history becoming the first film to sweep every category at the annual Razzie Awards. The Razzie's honoring the worst in cinematic achievement. In addition to worst picture, Adam Sandler was named worst actor and worst actress for playing both Jack and Jill. Did you see it, Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Of course I didn't see it. Honestly, I have too little time to see movies, really. It has to be like an academy award nominee before I spend my time.

ROMANS: It looked so good, the concept. I saw him this weekend.

O'BRIEN: Really?

ROMANS: I was down in Miami. He was there. No, I just ran into him.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What's going on in Kentucky? Why do you riot for a semifinal win? You haven't even won the whole thing.

O'BRIEN: Excited I guess.

CAIN: They're practicing. They want to make sure they get it right if they win.

O'BRIEN: The bar is lowered.

ROMANS: They were very happy, it was ebullience spilling over.

CAIN: I can't even spell ebullience.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Christine, thank you.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Mitt Romney punked, sort of.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here comes Mitt Romney, the next president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Yes, this is an April fool's joke, but of course they were recording it, so I wonder how much this is, you know, doesn't he seem like a common man? I've become so suspicious of politics.

And checks waiting for the three mega millionaires winners to claim their prize may not get the big photo op, though. Lottery officials are talking about their rights to privacy. What would you do if you win, take the photo with the big check?

HEADLEE: No.

CAIN: No.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely not.

CAIN: I don't know if I could do the cooling off period. I'm hitting the stores.

O'BRIEN: Our "Get Real," over the hill at four-and-a-half years old, that is apparently the age when babies aren't cute anymore. We'll tell you about that. Don't miss a thing this morning You can check out our live blog at our website CNN.com/startingpoint.

This is from Christine Romans playlist, the Foo Fighters "Ever Long." You're watching STARTING POINT. Short break and we're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: And $656 million dollars divided three ways. Three lucky mega millions tickets are out there somewhere. They sold in the state of Illinois, Maryland, and in Kansas. The three winners have yet to step forward and claim their fortune. They get more than $200 million apiece before taxes basically wipe out half of that. Stephen Martino is a commissioner for the Maryland state lottery, Michael Jones is the Illinois lottery superintendent. Mr. Martino I'll start with you. No winners have stepped forward. Is that unusual, a surprise?

STEPHEN MARTINO, DIRECTOR, MARYLAND LOTTERY COMMISSION: No, first of all our office frankly hasn't been open since the drawing on Friday night. So there would be a claim -- sorry, I'm getting a lot of background.

O'BRIEN: We'll fix that for you.

MARTINO: -- in my earpiece.

O'BRIEN: Is that any better? Keep talking.

MARTINO: There we go -- a lot better. The office hasn't been open since the drawing on Friday night and it will open at 8:30 this morning so I think that if we had a winner come forward this morning would be the first opportunity. But we've obviously advised the winner, wherever they are out there, to seek legal and financial advice and we've had a couple jackpot winners last year and it took several days and over a week in one case before the winner came forward.

O'BRIEN: So $656 million on the line and you don't have like a Saturday number? Is that the same thing, Mr. Jones, in the state of Illinois?

MICHAEL JONES, SUPERINTENDENT, ILLINOIS LOTTERY: Well our state is gripped by ebullience, the fact that we have one of the three winners. And we reached out and asked whoever the person might be to call a couple of numbers in case they wanted to contact us so that we could begin the winner claim process and especially give them advice that Steve gave them as far as seeking counsel, signing the back of their ticket, keeping the ticket in a safe place.

O'BRIEN: What other advice do you give them? Do they have to come forward? Do they have to be publicly available and take their photo with the big giant check? I've walked through this many times personally in my head when I win. I would just never ever, ever in a million years go public ever.

JONES: Well, there's a reason for that.

MARTINO: In the state of Maryland it's not required --

O'BRIEN: We'll start with you Mr. Martino.

JONES: Sorry.

MARTINO: I was just going to say in the state of Maryland it is not required that a winner do publicity. So that is a choice that the winner would have to make. I think that the law and Michael can talk about this in Illinois is different. Here they would have the choice and last year the two power ball jackpot winners decided not to do publicity. They have to come into the office. We know who they are. They have to claim through us, but there was no media release identifying who the winner was.

O'BRIEN: That's different in Illinois, isn't it?

JONES: Well again, it's interesting. There's an historic reason for it. In the 19th century, private lotteries that collected the money but never awarded the prizes. So in a lot of states in the modern day lotteries in the '60s on there is a requirement. We try to work with a winner to protect them but a reporter like yourself, Soledad, could ultimately find out who won and it's not a bad thing. We want the equation to work. You bet $1 against long odds and someone won it and here is the person and we proved it.

O'BRIEN: In the state of Maryland how is the money divvied up? Some of it goes into paying off the winners, but where does the rest of the money go?

MARTINO: Well the revenue that the lottery generates, which is about 30 percent of our sales, Soledad, goes to the state general fund and that is then used by the governor and the legislature to support all the good causes in the state, be it K through 12 public education, higher education, protecting the environment and social services. So the lottery generated $519 million last fiscal year for the state of Maryland. We're the fourth largest source of income for the state of Maryland after sales, corporate and income taxes. And so we're obviously pleased about the contribution we make to the state.

O'BRIEN: Mr. Jones final question this morning, the winning ticket in Illinois I'm told was bought at the Moto-Mart, I guess in a town that's just south of St. Louis, about 30, 35 miles south. At the end of the day, is that do you think someone in that small town, 4,000 people or someone driving through?

JONES: It's a conjunction of several roads but rumor is rife in redbud, and everyone is trying to guess who the winner is.

O'BRIEN: Me too. I wish it were me. Not this time around. Gentlemen, thank you, appreciate it, good luck and we look forward to the official announcement.

Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, our "Get Real," we'll tell you why your kid is not cute anymore. Apparently it's scientific. Here's Peter's playlist, Paul Simon, "Call me Al." We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: I like that "barefoot and crazy" off of Will Cain's playlist. Our "Get Real" this morning is for people who relentlessly post pictures of children on Facebook. This may be a very good guide. It might be time to stop. According to science your baby stops being cute at four-and-a-half years old. Not my children.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Not my children. They continue to be cute, but a new study that was conducted by researchers in China and Canada tried to pinpoint the age at which babies stopped being so irresistibly adorable, just before kindergarten. Maybe that's kindergarten starts roughly at five, because you push them out of the house. Researchers say at the age of five certain crucial infantile facial cues start going away, like the big round face, big eyes, small noses and mouths. And that's why when they do animated films they always make the characters with the big giant eyes, basically the face of E.T. was sort of the same things they took off of babies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. We got an extendible neck, not cute.

O'BRIEN: The analogy only goes so far. Some people's babies do look like aliens but that's another topic.

CAIN: I got a four-year-old and two months so sorry, Charlie, it's only downhill from here.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My daughter is almost four-and-a-half, so she's got to appreciate it while she can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ours are teenagers, stopped being cute a long time ago.

O'BRIEN: But you knew because the eye rolling sullen state when they say things like "mother."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do they stop being cute to everybody or does that include their parents or just --

O'BRIEN: Especially stopping cute to their parents who then send them off to kindergarten.

CAIN: -- commercial casting and things like that.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I'm telling you and all those animated films, there's a reason --

CAIN: If you haven't cashed in by four and a half --

O'BRIEN: Right, still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, they dished about his five safehouses and four kids while on the run. Well, this morning Bin Laden's widows have been charged.

Also GOP power players past and present are now getting behind Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum feeling any more pressure this morning? We're going to talk to his chief spokesman.

And collateral damage at the "Kids Choice Awards," the first lady gets slimed. You're watching "STARTING POINT." We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: It's a good way to start the morning, Stevie Wonder "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" Hogan Gidley's playlist. He, of course, is a Santorum communication director and he's going to be joining us in just a few minutes.

CAIN: What does that mean? Something signed, sealed and delivered, Hogan?

O'BRIEN: Or maybe it's just a song he likes. You know, we can ask him about that in a bit. First, headlines, Christine has those. Good morning, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Soledad. Three of Osama Bin Laden's widows have been sentenced to a month and a half in prison for living illegally in Pakistan.

The offense carried a maximum 10-year prison sentence. Two other unidentified Bin Laden family members also receiving the same punishment, a month and a half in prison. The judge ordering all five could be deported after they serve those sentences.

Some call it an unprecedented crisis. The Muslim Brotherhood reversing its pledge not to enter Egypt's presidential elections. The Brotherhood already won the first round of parliamentary elections and now they've picked a presidential candidate even though they said they wouldn't.

The candidate is 62-year-old multimillionaire businessman Parat Al Shadr. Many members are quitting over the decision. Coming up at 8:30 a.m., Soledad is going to talk with two current members of the Muslim Brotherhood about this controversy.

Let's get a quick check of the weather now. Reynolds Wolf is in for Rob this morning. Good morning, Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine. It looks like it might be very active day weather wise. We've already been talking about the extreme heat that we find disturbing this weekend.

It looks like it's going to warm up again today and it looks like the chances of severe weather is going to pop up especially across parts of the central and southern plains. We have this area of low pressure that's going to pull its way from west to east.

Interact with all that moisture from the Gulf of Mexico will give us a chance of some large hail, some damaging winds and perhaps even some isolated tornadoes, best chance that weather is going to occur into the afternoon.

You know, we mentioned the damaging winds. We're going to see strong winds along places like Southern California, up here into the (inaudible) even into the four corners and also into portions -- the four corners and back into the central plains.

Easy for me to say, even along the front range of the Rockies and Denver, you can expect gusts to be anywhere from 40 to 55 miles per hour. And those windy conditions might keep grounded a couple of the airports including over in New York where you may see major delays around an hour or so.

Also expect delays in Philadelphia, in Charlotte and Denver, as we wrap things up if you're going to be waiting in places like the northeast, at least conditions are going to be comfortable, highs in the 50s and 60s, 87 degrees in Memphis, very warm in Dallas at 87, 76 in Los Angeles and San Francisco with 65. That's your forecast. Christine, sending it back to you.

ROMANS: All right, thanks, Reynolds.

All right, Taylor Swift winning big at last night's Academy of Country Music Awards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, and the Academy Country Music Entertainer of the Year goes to -- Taylor Swift, everybody!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Swift took home Entertainer of the Year for the second year in a row. On stage, she gave a shout out to New Jersey teen Kevin McGuire who was supposed to be her date.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYLOR SWIFT, SINGER: My date tonight was supposed to be a high school football player named Kevin McGuire, and he's not here, but I promised him I'd give him a shout out. So Kevin and all your family and friends thank you for wanting to take me to the ACM.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Wow. McGuire is battling leukemia. He was admitted to a hospital just before the event, so a sweet shout out from Taylor Swift.

She was also honored by first lady, Michelle Obama at the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards on Saturday. Swift says she was, quote, "freaking out" when the first lady presented her with an award for her philanthropy.

Mrs. Obama got a surprise as well. She was flattered with a few drops of green slime when singer Justin Beiber and actor Will Smith got doused with the stuff on stage -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: That's the best part. I loved that show. Blah, blah, blah, the awards, who gets slimed. That's what they want to know. All right, Christine, thank you.

Republican Party stalwarts are rallying around Governor Mitt Romney, looking past tomorrow's primaries including the winner- take all contest in Wisconsin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think it's a big delegate count, which I think he'll get. We believe as conservatives that we should coalesce around our nominee and focus on the task at hand, which is the fall election and not drag this thing out.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The chances are overwhelming that he will be our nominee. It seems to me we're in the final phases of wrapping up this nomination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Final phases, coalescing. Yesterday, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson added his name to the list of people who, in fact, supporting Mitt Romney and his endorsement that means he joins the former President George H.W. Bush and his son the former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and as you saw there, Congressman Ryan, Senator Rubio among many others.

Let's get right to Hogan Gidley. He is the communications director for Rick Santorum's presidential campaign. It's nice to see you. You heard those words "final phase, wrapping up, coalescing," none of that can be done as long as Senator Santorum is in the race. Why doesn't he get out? Remind me.

HOGAN GIDLEY, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, SANTORUM CAMPAIGN: We still have a long way to go, Soledad. This is only half way through the process. Wisconsin starts the second half. There's still a lot more votes out there to be counted.

And look, why would we want to not allow the rest of the country to have their say and voice their vote? It's a little premature, a little bit ridiculous to be talking about getting out of the race.

Mitt Romney doesn't even half way where he needs to be to 1,144. So there's a long way to go and there are a lot of states still out there, a lot of votes to be had.

Rick Santorum's done extremely well. We've won 11 states so far, just a couple shy of Mitt Romney's and we're going to keep pushing this thing out until someone gets to that number because, you know, I think the people deserve it. I think everyone wants to have their voice heard and their vote cast.

O'BRIEN: You just said that Governor Romney hasn't gotten half way and you said Senator Santorum is running well, which he's so far behind the governor that I would just sort of beg to disagree with you on that.

If you look at Wisconsin, we've got Wisconsin. We've got Maryland and we've got Washington, D.C. Look at the polls. Let's throw those up there. Mitt Romney polling at 40 percent, Rick Santorum is polling at 33 percent, sorry, behind him, and then you have Ron Paul at 11 percent and Newt Gingrich at 8 percent.

If you look at the delegate count, Mitt Romney at 571, Rick Santorum at 264, Gingrich and Paul sort of rounding out that list. How do you consistently maintain that you have the strongest candidate when there's so much evidence to the contrary?

GIDLEY: Well, I mean look, after all these states and all this money that Mitt Romney spent, you got to remember, he did this just a few years ago. And two-thirds of the conservative votes don't want Mitt Romney to be the nominee.

I mean, how can you say that he's the best person to take on Barack Obama, when consistently he's proven to be on the same side of the issues of Barack Obama?

O'BRIEN: Goodness, you know I've never said that. I know you're speaking metaphorically, but I haven't said anybody is the best person to take on anybody. I'm actually just asking the questions. Go ahead, you can jump in.

CAIN: This is Will Cain. I want to ask some quick questions. The list is getting long. It's from the former President Bush to Jeb Bush, but not just who we call the party establishment.

But Tea Party stalwarts as well like Senator Ron Johnson and Senator Marco Rubio. How do you explain all these guys now starting to endorse Mitt Romney? Are you saying these guys are also very, very premature in the process?

GIDLEY: I mean, look, if this were all about D.C. endorsements, we should have gotten out of this thing a long time ago. This isn't about Washington, D.C. It's about the rest of the country and that's why we've been able to do so well in all of the states and that's why Rick Santorum has a lot of votes and has won a lot of states at this point.

But Rick I think made a pretty good joke the other day on the campaign trail talking about Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio. He said they're great people, they have a lot of respect, but they're young and entitled to make mistakes.

We still have a long way to go in this process, 1,144 is the number and of course, everybody will coalesce behind the Republican nominee because what's important here is beating Barack Obama, but there's a long way to go and there are a lot of votes out there and we're going to keep pushing forward and see what we can do.

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST, "THE TAKEAWAY": But Rick Santorum, I think, has to take more than 70 percent of the delegates from now on --

O'BRIEN: I think it's 80 now.

HEADLEE: Yes, in order to win the nomination. Is that realistic?

GIDLEY: It's not necessarily realistic to get to 1,144 at this point for anybody. So I mean, the bottom line is we've got to keep pushing forward to see where these votes shake out. We've got to pull off some surprises, which we've done many times already along the way.

And we've got to weigh out the process, move back into May, where all the states shift back to Rick Santorum, the southern states. As we all know Mitt Romney has a horrible problem in the south, he can't win those states at all.

So if we start to move that process and play it all the way out, it's set up this way for a reason. So we have the best nominee and the best person that our voters have gotten behind to go against Barack Obama, and it's a long process.

We have a long way to go, and right now, if Mitt Romney won every single state moving forward, it would still be June before he could lock up this nomination.

So to talk about this thing being over now is almost ridiculous. We have a long way to go. Rick Santorum can and has pulled off some surprises and some shockers so far, and we expect to do that moving forward.

O'BRIEN: Hogan Gidley joining us this morning, nice to see you. Thanks for being with us.

GIDLEY: Thanks, God bless.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, a groundbreaking new study that was commissioned by Anderson Cooper and his "360" staff, it's about children and race.

Anderson joins me to break that study down coming up next. You're watching STARTING POINT. Short break. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Tonight, "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is debuting a very important special. It's called "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture." Race relations, of course, is one of the most explosive issues in America and for many adults one of the most taboo subjects to talk about with their kids.

So "360" teamed up with a renowned child psychologist to scientifically measure kids' attitudes about race. Take a look at this, 6-year-old children were shown this picture and the testers asked them questions like, what's happening in this picture?

Are these two children friends? Would their parents like it if they were friends? The picture is designed to be ambiguous. It's all about what's happening in the eye of the beholder. Then they showed them this picture and asked them the same questions.

The only difference between those pictures the race of the kids are flipped in those pictures. So at CNN's request, the testers also asked kids open-ended questions about race. The responses were raw. Some of the experiences they described were pretty shocking.

I had a chance to observe some of the testing and had a chance to interview some of the kids and their parents for the project as well. This is the reality of what kids see, hear and think about race. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would a parent want you to get in trouble if you wanted someone to come over to your house who was a different skin color?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Probably because they don't allow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why not? Why would some parents not allow other skin colored kids to come over?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Probably because they might not like that skin color.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: People have the same skin, you can play together, but if you don't have the same skin, you can't play together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why can't you play together if you have different colored skin?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because your mom might not want to you play with that friend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: I spoke to Anderson Cooper, asked him what he thought the study discovered. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: So overall what were the findings of the study?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "AC 360": There were a lot of different findings. I mean, one of the things that surprised me, I guess, is that the difference in pessimism and optimism about the potential for interracial friendships.

Amongst 6-year-old white kids, they were, the majority were very pessimistic about the possibility of having interracial friendships, whereas the majority of African-American kids who were 6 years old were actually much more optimistic about that.

I found that interesting. I also thought it was really interesting when you show kids of different races ambiguous pictures, two different pictures in which the races of the people in the pictures have changed just to see people's interpretations of what was going on in the pictures.

I found really eye-opening to realize that, you know, I think a lot of people, a lot of parents in particular don't think that their children think about race or have formed opinions of race or have biases.

Everyone likes to think their kids are color blind. The study clearly shows that kids, 6-year-old kids have very clear ideas about race and already have, in some cases biases.

O'BRIEN: Why do you think that is and why do you think there's this divide at least up to age 13 between white kids and black kids?

COOPER: Yes, just in the study, it seemed more -- more frequent that African-American parents would have conversations about race with their children, whereas, white parents often assumed their children were color blind and hadn't really had those conversations at all. The other thing that is really important is the environment that the child is growing up in, whether it's a diverse neighborhood, whether the school is majority white, whether it's diverse school majority African-American.

Who saw distinct differences in attitudes about the potential of having racial friendships among kids and majority of white kids as we did in diverse or majority black school.

O'BRIEN: We've done this sort of look at kids and race before a year ago. Why do you think it's so interesting and do you see any connections to the Trayvon Martin case, which everybody is talking about?

COOPER: I think the study comes at really, you know, at a time when questions of race are being asked and debated and, you know, over the killing of Trayvon Martin. So much of that case hinges on what was George Zimmerman thinking and what was Trayvon Martin thinking in the time that they terribly met?

O'BRIEN: The perceptions of each other?

COOPER: The perceptions of each other. Why did George Zimmerman view Trayvon Martin as suspicious as he said in the 911 tape? Why did he get out of the vehicle in order to follow Trayvon Martin?

O'BRIEN: We are talking about pessimism of kids and interracial relationships in 2012. I find that sad.

COOPER: I agree. I also think it's interesting that how -- when it's an interracial friendship, that is one thing. When the kids are 13 and --

O'BRIEN: Sort of dating?

COOPER: The idea it could be a dating, intimate relationship, a lot of attitudes begin to change even more among by parents or at least kids feel their parents would have a different impression if they actually were intimately involved with somebody from another race.

I found that kind of really interesting, surprising to me, frankly. But I think -- I know you agree because you talk with your kids about race.

O'BRIEN: Probably too much.

COOPER: But I do think it can be depressing, but I also think not talking about it doesn't seem to be an option either. Because it's not as if these kids, all of our kids are not forming opinions about race. They are. Just whether we talk about it, acknowledge it and figure out a way to kind of make the best of it.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I thought that was the big take-away conversations and then also genuine relationships. Not just with the kids, which I think, we, as parents, tend to do. Go play with jimmy and bring you here. Relationships the parents have and who the parents have in their circle will determine their kids' perception of race.

COOPER: Because I do think so much and the parent acknowledges that so much of the kids' perceptions come from the parents especially early on and what, you know, kids as you know hear everything. Even if you think they are not hearing, they are listening and they're absorbing it.

O'BRIEN: All right, thank you, Anderson. Appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: There were signs of hope and signs of progress as well. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: My grandparents are racist against African- Americans and like other races, but it's 2012 so they have to like push that aside. They just keep fighting back and they will be like, no, that's wrong. You want to stick with your own race. I'm like, no, I'm friends with everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Cute little girl. One of the most fun parts about doing she's interviews is sit down and talk to the 6-year-olds and talk to the 12-year-olds about sort of their just friendships in general.

Not even about race, just their conversations are really fascinating. But for parents who think 6-year-olds aren't having conversation about race, they absolutely are. We got a chance to talk to the parents who had watched their kids on tape.

HEADLEE: And they were surprised.

O'BRIEN: Who were so brave because I never would do that! Let people take my kid and watch. No, no. But they were great and what they said is fascinating and all that is going to be on Anderson's show as he goes through the special tonight on "AC 360."

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, jokes on Mitt Romney at a pancake breakfast in Milwaukee. We will show you how a staff got him, kind of, on April Fool's.

Also is this the best it's ever been? A new study says airlines are treating us better and performing at an all-time high. That's interesting news! You're watching STARTING POINT. We are back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Mitt Romney was print on an April Fool's Day -- at a pancake breakfast. The Milwaukee Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Ron Johnson masterminded. They tricked him, basically! Master mind! Walking into a room to an audiotaped crowd of people cheering, right so they intro him with the official intro. The crowd is cheering! And then, of course, he walks own it's kind of empty. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ron Johnson is with Mitt Romney, the next president of the United States!

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You got me!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: He's such a great candidate. Notice, like his smile does not move. It's like this.

CAIN: They got him up on a Sunday where this is precious few days off.

O'BRIEN: No, the trick -- no, no. They brought him into just a different room.

HEADLEE: I would be suspicious as you are, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: The only thing I think is not suspicious is the hysterical laughter from the staffers who are like dying! The governor himself is like smiling, smiling. The staffers are in hysterics.

He said he would forgive, but remember -- all right, STARTING POINT is back in just a minute. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)