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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Tornados Hit Parts of Texas; Golf's Masters to Commence; Trayvon Martin Case Continues to Garner National Attention; Romney's Trifecta; Dallas Mayor: "We Dodged A Big Bullet"; Olbermann Talks About Latest Firing; Questions About 911 Call; Obama's "Hope Bubble" Burst
Aired April 4, 2012 - 06:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: And good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, the cleanup begins after those devastating tornadoes that have torn through Dallas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Large tornado on the ground! Large tornado! Large tornado on the ground!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: In fact, there were up to 13 large tornadoes twisting -- touching down over a terrifying three-and-a-half-hour period. People waking up this morning to lots of damage. There's a curfew as well and no power. Amazing, isn't it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a tractor-trailer flying through the air.
O'BRIEN: Incredible. Incredible.
A trifecta for Mitt Romney. He swept three more contests. This morning, we're going to talk to Senator John McCain about how Mitt Romney uses the wins to change his strategy. Focusing on his Republican colleagues, to focusing on the Democratic president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: That's the looping of what was believed to be a curse and then a racial slur. Many conversations about what exactly was said roughly two minutes and 20 second into that 911 call that George Zimmerman made, had a conversation with a dispatcher. We had two people analyze the tape, we'll tell you what they think was said.
Plus Russia with love, new news that a Russian spy got cozy with a member of President Obama's cabinet.
It's Wednesday, April 4. STARTING POINT begins right now. (MUSIC PLAYING)
O'BRIEN: That's a good way to start your morning. Good morning, everybody. That not on my playlist.
O'BRIEN: Our panel this morning, Ron Brownstein's with us, he's a CNN senior political analyst, editorial director at "National Journal." Will Cain is with us. He's a columnist for TheBlaze.com. Van Jones joins us this morning, former Obama White House special adviser, has written a new book called "Rebuild the Dream." How is that for promoting your book?
O'BRIEN: Happy to help. Happy to help.
We're going to talk not only about the book but also your resignation from the Obama cabinet, I want to hear all the inside scoop on that. First, though, we got to talk about the tornadoes. That was an amazing nearly four hours, absolute devastation there.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, my hometown and not far from my hometown. It was pretty scary to see. I had buddies calling me saying they had to evacuate buildings in downtown Dallas and, of course, TV cameras there to capture it all.
O'BRIEN: Of course, the cleanup efforts are under way this morning after the string of violent tornadoes. As we mentioned, some people were saying there were six, others say many as 13 of those tornadoes tore a path of destruction along the area of Dallas-Ft. Worth. It happened yesterday afternoon, destroyed homes and businesses, and in one instance tossed a 30,000-pound tractor-trailer, that's, like, 10,000 pounds for the trailer part, 20,000 pounds, 30,000 pounds, just chucked them around. It was amazing to see.
The images all played out as will mentioned all a live TV because, of course, the TV cameras were right there, were able to catch the tornadoes ripping through the neighborhoods. The National Weather Service doesn't know for sure how many but they'll have to survey the damage and then they'll be able to tell what the number was. Amazingly there were --
CAIN: That's the good news.
O'BRIEN: And very few injuries, having covered them a lot, they are correlated with a high injury toll. That's really good news on that. We'll get right to the Dallas mayor, his name is Mike Rawlings. He's also with Jonathan Cook, who is a resident of Burleson, Texas. Nice to see you, Mr. Mayor, Jonathan as well. Mr. Mayor, I'll begin with you if I may.
MIKE RAWLINGS, MAYOR OF DALLAS, TEXAS: Good morning. O'BRIEN: Good morning to you. Give me the scope of the damage. It is a good morning, because not many injuries, and no debts to report. How bad is it?
RAWLINGS: We're still assessing this situation, but it looks like the Dallas-ft. Worth area really dodged a bullet. I mean, we've got hundreds and hundreds of homes destroyed, but, amazingly, no fatalities, as you mentioned. And I think we've counted three people taken to the hospital. I mean, we're looking at a miracle here. It really is something amazing.
O'BRIEN: I very rarely use the word "miracle," but I think you are right in this case, because the pictures are incredible. How many folks in shelters? Do you know the count of that yet, sir?
RAWLINGS: We're a 100 in a couple of the shelters in the area, in east Texas, so we've got people spending the nights there. Really hundreds of people have been displaced. Those tractor-trailers were picked up. There was more than one. There were several. I saw them. They were put on the back of homes and those homes were just flattened. It was amazing that there was nobody in those homes. Fortunately I think everybody was at work. They were -- had early warnings, so somehow this thing all worked out.
O'BRIEN: The trailer of the tractor-trailer weighs 14,000 pounds. The tractor part of the tractor-trailer weighs 20,000 pounds.
CAIN: Oh, look at that.
RAWLINGS: You can see how wide of a swath that tornado cut through that trailer, that trailer factory, and into the forest and then into the homes. It was amazing.
O'BRIEN: Just stunning to watch. While you're talking, sir, we're seeing pictures of that thing literally flying through the air. So, how much damage was done, before I hop over to talk to jonathan, Mr. Mayor, how many damage overall was done, will you know an exact number figure any time in the next 24 hours?
RAWLINGS: Yes, it will be a couple of days before we get the exact dollar amount. In Dallas we're talking about not 100 homes but in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, it will probably be about 300 homes as I kind of look at the early reports.
O'BRIEN: All right. All right, Mr. Mayor, I thank you very much.
RAWLINGS: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: Let's turn to Jonathan Cook right now. Jonathan, you were in a bank if I'm not mistaken and the storm struck. What did you see?
JONATHAN COOK, WITNESSED TORNADO IN BURLESON TEXAS: Yes. Yesterday I was in a meeting in the office that I was in had two windows in the room, and I had no warning that bad weather was even on its way. But we saw lightning strike which we thought was just about 50 yards away. And immediately following lightning was a loud clap of thunder, and about 10 seconds later, same thing, lightning followed by thunder super-close. And so about that time, I looked out the window and I saw hail coming down and I saw rain pouring, so I said I got to go. I ran out the bank --
O'BRIEN: Why did you say you go to go? You went into your truck which I think would be a really unwise thing to do in a terrible, terrible storm, but I guess it was the right decision for you. Why did you get in your truck and what did you see around your truck?
COOK: Well, there was hail coming down. Our vehicles were unprotected and we had no idea the weather was going to get worse. So I was trying to protect my vehicle from the hail damage. So I drove just across the street to a gas station where many people were taking shelter. And just about two minutes after I pulled in, a National Weather Service truck pulled in with his two-way radio going, and he said there's about two tornadoes in the area, and they're only about a quarter mile from us.
Well, right when he said that, a girl that was taking shelter with us pointed up with two fingers and said look up there, and when we looked up there we saw two tornadoes at the same time touch down about an eighth of a mile up from us. And a guy behind her said turn around and there was another funnel cloud that we never saw touch down forming behind us as well. So it was a pretty scary situation for a second there.
And whenever those tornadoes touched down, they weren't down very long, but we found out those were -- we found out later that those were two of the first tornadoes that touched down that went into Cannondale and south Arlington.
O'BRIEN: Oh, my goodness. It's good news, good thing that you're OK, and I'm told that your family and friends are OK, too. Jonathan cook is a member of a band called "Forever the Sickest Kid." Thanks, Jonathan, glad to see you're doing well. We appreciate your time this morning.
COOK: Thanks for having us. Glad everyone is safe.
O'BRIEN: Yes, us, too.
Let's go to Christine who has a look at some of the other headlines. Good morning, Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Mitt Romney now more than halfway to the GOP nomination after racking up the delegates with a sweep of three big primaries last night. Wisconsin was biggest prize for Romney with 42 critical winner-take- all delegates. Romney won the badger state over Rick Santorum, 42 percent to 38 percent.
And 37 delegates at stake in Maryland, and Romney won there by an even larger margin, 49 percent to 29 percent over Santorum. And in Washington, D.C., with 16 delegates at stake, Romney got 70 percent of the vote and Santorum wasn't even on the ballot in D.C. Romney continuing his look ahead strategy, ignoring Republican rivals and focusing exclusively now on President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president has pledged to transform America. And he spent the last four years laying the foundation for a new government-centered society. I will spend the next four years rebuilding the foundation of an opportunity society led by free people and free enterprises.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Take a look at CNN's latest delegate estimate, Romney well past the halfway point with 648 delegates. Of course, 1,144 delegates are needed to clinch the nomination. Coming up at the half hour, Senator John McCain, a Romney supporter, will join Soledad live.
The gunman accused in the worst deadly school shooting in California in decades facing a judge today. And 43-year-old One Goh is being held in jail in Santa Rita where -- he's been there since ten people were shot at Oikos University, a small Christian school in Oakland. Seven people died. Police have in the yet found the murder weapon, but they say they recovered plenty of ballistic evidence.
And New York police this morning are investigating the mysterious death of a leading French scholar and government adviser. And 54- year-old Richard Descoings was found dead in his Manhattan hotel room, he was naked in his bed with blood coming out of his mouth. Police found his cell phone on the third floor landing as if it had been tossed out the window. No signs of foul play so far but they haven't been ruled out yet.
Remember bombshell Russian spy Anna Chapman? There she is. Well, a new British documentary claims Anna Chapman was close to seducing a member of President Obama's cabinet. The documentary quotes a top FBI official that says Chapman was so closed to seducing this unnamed sitting cabinet member that the bureau had to step in and warn him that Chapman was a so-called honey trap. U.S. officials deny this report.
Federal health officials are investigating whether sushi could be behind a new salmonella break in the U.S. So far more than 90 people have fallen ill in 19 states and Washington D.C. Seven people were hospitalized because of this. Investigators say spicy tuna rolls are highly suspect but they are not certain yet. They are focusing on six clusters of restaurants in Texas, Wisconsin, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
And a flight attendant goes above and beyond the call of duty. Susan Carnes, I love this woman. She's been delivering food and drinks in the air for 29 years. On a flight from Africa to Atlanta in late march, she delivered a baby boy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN CARNES, FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Everyone's, like, looking at me obviously. And I just held him up, and I said, "It's a boy!" And everybody clapped and there was, you know, laughter and it was really fun and exciting, and she was so happy and weepy. And it was great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Whoa. Luckily one of the passengers was not only just a doctor but an obstetrician. That comes in handy. Susan Carnes said having been there before, I knew what to do. Soledad, having been there before, I didn't know what to do.
O'BRIEN: She sterilized the scissors.
ROMANS: In a glass of vodka.
O'BRIEN: Yes, which the mother then drank.
O'BRIEN: Good for her.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Grace under pressure.
O'BRIEN: Good for her. That's great. Babies come out, all you have to do is assist, right?
O'BRIEN: It's not as easy as that. You're men. You're men. You have delivered no children, people!
CAIN: At 30,000 feet.
O'BRIEN: That's a little -- again, a glass of vodka I'm sure came in handy not just for sterilization.
VAN JONES, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CZAR: What do you put on the birth certificate? Where was the baby born?
O'BRIEN: A child of the world.
All right, let's talk about the Masters, golf's most prestigious tournament. It will start tomorrow at the Augusta national golf club in Georgia. Today we'll find out if the long-standing policy will get a boot. Any time there's an issue around Augusta, we says is that long-standing policy against of admitting female members, will it get the boot. IBM is one of the sponsors of the tournament, and Virginia Rometty, Ginny, is the new CEO of IBM, and Augusta typically offers the CEO of IBM membership. But, of course, she's a woman. They don't give membership to women. CAIN: Conundrum.
O'BRIEN: Hmm, hmm, what will happen? What do you think?
BROWNSTEIN: There are very few trends in American live than inclusion. It's absolute in our DNA. Over time we widen the circle --
O'BRIEN: And that does not mean by next week --
BROWNSTEIN: It doesn't mean by next week. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe someday, but the rest of your life as Bogart said. We see in any of our lifetimes how many walls it seemed un-breachable have fallen and that's what --
O'BRIEN: A female CEO of IBM at one point.
BROWNSTEIN: Exactly right. Exactly right. So the trend line of history is pretty unmistakable. I don't know about tomorrow or next week. But it will happen.
O'BRIEN: But the question we're asking does Ginny, I say it like I know her, does she get membership, you know, when it happens?
VAN JONES: Well, I mean, I think that you're right, that at the end of the day I can't imagine a company saying we're going to support a tournament that will not even let our CEO show up. That doesn't -- I think at the end of the day, also I do agree, look at the people who are next in line behind so many American CEOs, the people who are COOs right now, the people that are CTOs, so many women. Look at the college campuses, you got to try to find a guy.
O'BRIEN: It's not tomorrow. It's not tomorrow.
CAIN: And 50 percent of college graduates are now women.
O'BRIEN: Yes. I golf, badly. Badly.
O'BRIEN: All right, we got to get to a commercial break, but still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, this question that we've been talking about really for weeks now, did George Zimmerman use a racial slur the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin? We asked for an analysis of the 911 call with dispatch, and you'll see it up next on STARTING POINT.
In our "Get Real" news that will leave, if you are a James Bond fan, it will leave you shaken and stirred. His drink of choice, Martini, is changing, 50 years, it's changing, because I can't talk about tomorrow or the next day. If you need to get to work you can catch the rest of our show by going to our live blog which is on our Web site at CNN.com/startingpoint.
Here's Van's playlist, a little Bob Marley, "So Much Trouble." I hope that doesn't portend how our show's going to go. (MUSIC PLAYING)
O'BRIEN: One month after Trayvon Martin was killed an answer to one of the big questions is sort of as hazy as ever. Why was he killed? We spoke with a friend of George Zimmerman's yesterday. His name is Frank Taaffe, I think his name is, and he said that Trayvon may have stood out to George for a reason. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK TAAFFE, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S NEIGHBOR: We had eight burglaries in our neighborhood all perpetrated by young black males in the 15 months prior to Trayvon being shot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Well, that's not exactly accurate. Eight burglaries in the past 15 months is not correct. In fact, according to the police department there have been eight burglary reports in the past 14 months, and four of them involved complaints against black males. The rest of the reports had no witnesses and no race identity attached to them.
The Trayvon Martin case made Sanford ground zero in a way for race relations. The entire city's been dissected as everyone's trying to make sense of the shooting. So we bring in Jeff Triplett now. He's the mayor of Sanford, Florida. Nice to see you, sir, thank you for joining us. You had three protests in Sanford and across the country there are eight protests, it's a city of 50,000 or so plus people. Do you worry about the image of your city?
JEFF TRIPLETT, MAYOR OF SANFORD, FLORIDA: Absolutely. That's one of our big issues right now, that this doesn't -- as I've said before, that this doesn't define who we are. This isn't -- this isn't the type of place we are. It's a friendly neighborhood. You know, we're 53,000 people. You know, we've got a lot of diversity in our city, and we just have to work down the path to make sure that what some of the media's portraying of our city is just not true.
O'BRIEN: What kinds of things do you think are not true?
TRIPLETT: I mean, there's no -- you know, we've got a great police department. We've got some great men and women in the police department. You know, our community relations are good. If you walk down our historic downtown riverfront or our downtown neighborhoods or go shopping in any of our stores, you'll see -- you'll see the wide range of diversity in our neighborhoods. You know, we're 30 percent African-American, you know, about 60 percent Caucasian, it's very diverse. And for the most part, as everyone is very friendly.
O'BRIEN: Does your community have a problem with crime? And if it does, who's committing those crimes?
TRIPLETT: You know, I really don't have the answer to that. You know, we just, like any other city, have our fair share of crimes that are committed. You know, we have robberies and burglaries in our neighborhoods, just pretty much typical of every other city.
BROWNSTEIN: Mr. Mayor, Ron Brownstein from "National Journal," good morning. In many communities where different races come together is most often in the schools. I'm interested in what kind of the atmosphere has been like do you think in your school system sings the shoo since the shooting?
TRIPLETT: From what I've heard, I've had several conversations with our superintendent of Seminole County schools and the chairman of the board, you know, Dr. Calderon, and, you know, they got together real quick with the city when this hit the national spotlight. We had a lot of discussions. We got in front of all the principals that if there is questions or concern or talk that they know exactly what's going on and there's been some great dialogue thus far.
You know, when this happened, the students were on spring break for a week, so we actually had a little bit of extra time before they came back to get out in front of it and make sure that we had the discussions with the principals, you know, that trickle down from the principals to the students. From what I've heard so far, you know, our school system's done a great job of getting out in front of it.
BROWNSTEIN: Real quick, what kind of programs have they undertaken in the schools? What are they doing?
TRIPLETT: I don't know of any specific programs. It's just been an open dialogue that if the questions have been asked, you know, that the faculty has had the answers that have been, you know, open for the dialogue in the classrooms. And from what I've heard so far, there's been no -- there's been no problems with it thus far.
O'BRIEN: Final question, Van?
JONES: Hi, my name is Van, and I appreciate you being on, Mr. Mayor. First of all, this hits close to home to me, I'm an African- American parent and I'm thinking to myself, Jesus, am I going to have to dress my kids in tuxedos for them to walk down the street to get a candy bar, the whole thing. Can you understand the way this is landing with people?
I just wonder, I think to myself, African-American kid, if they were reversed, an African-American kid wandering around the neighborhood with a gun, I am protecting my neighborhood, I saw a white kid and I shot him, it's hard to imagine why that black kid wouldn't be in jail. Do you understand why the country is worried and bewildered about why there hasn't been an arrest?
TRIPLETT: Absolutely. I've stated before that I don't even truly understand why there wasn't an arrest, you know, that goes to the state of Florida and the stand-your-ground laws and such that are going to come out with the special prosecutor. You know, I think, you know, it goes beyond the city of Sanford as to, you know, the other part of that question is, you know, it goes to, you know, beyond the city of Sanford as to -- as to relations and profiling and al that's going to come out. You know, I totally understand it.
And I feel for -- I feel for the parents of Trayvon and any other parent that has -- that has these concerns, you know. I, too, you know, have two boys, two young boys, and, you know, I think about it, you know, if it truly was because of the hoodie or what have you. And as I said, I can't walk a mile in your shoes, but I can walk a mile next to you and hopefully we can work with the Department of Justice and work with programs within our city, you know, with best practices from some other cities that have been through this to, you know, try to work on those issues and make sure it doesn't happen again.
O'BRIEN: Jeff Triplett is the mayor of Sanford. Nice to see you, thank you for talking with us. I appreciate it.
TRIPLETT: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: In my conversation with Frank Taaffe I asked him about a quote that had been attributed to him in "The New York Times." Here is how that conversation went.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: I'm sorry, Frank, let me ask you one other question. You said this, you are quoted in "The New York Times" talking about these burglaries. You said this - "They were Trayvon-like dudes with their pants down." I think part of that means with baggy pants.
TAAFFE: I never said that.
O'BRIEN: That's a misquote from "The New York Times"?
TAAFFE: I never said that. Yes, it is.
TAAFFE: I never used that term and I'd like to go on record, I never said that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: He said several times he never said that, he said he was misquoted by "The New York Times." So we reached out to "The New York Times" and asked him if, in fact, they could confirm that quote and they said, yes, they stand by their reporter on that story and they stand by that quote and that story.
Still ahead this morning, Senator John McCain's going to join us live, as you well know, he's backing Mitt Romney after a trifecta primary win last night. Does he think it's time for the other candidates to bow out? Why, yes, he does. We'll ask if he thinks they'll bow out.
And then get real this morning, James Bond, tell me no on this, no more shaken not stirred. How is that accent?
O'BRIEN: Oh, go ahead, Mr. Texan.
CAIN: I'm not going to pretend to do an English accent. I know my limits. You might, too.
O'BRIEN: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers off of Will Cain's playlist this morning. You're watching STARTING POINT.
BROWNSTEIN: Back after nine years away, somewhere in the valley, getting herself together, she was back, saw her last week and she was terrific and waiting for a new album this summer.
O'BRIEN: Go ahead and sing it. I like when you sing along.
O'BRIEN: Our "Get Real" this morning, a lot has changed in the James Bond movies, like James Bond himself, many times. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bond, James Bond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name's Bond, James Bond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bond, James Bond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bond, James Bond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The name's Bond, James Bond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Bond, James Bond.
BROWNSTEIN: The best Bond since the original. You got to give him that.
O'BRIEN: Connery and Daniel Craig. But the thing that has been consistent has been the martini. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vodka martini, shaken, not stirred.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: Shaken, not stirred. Now it's going to be a cold brewski. Product placement, which of course, translates into dollars, Advertising Age, and really?
Advertising Age is reporting that, in fact, Daniel Craig who plays James Bond, sipping a Heineken in at least one of the scene in the new movie, which is called "Sky Fall" which is coming out as the first part of November. You're outraged, Van?
JONES: I am.
O'BRIEN: Outraged, really?
JONES: Trayvon's here, but this is right there, man! Really, wow. I grew up reading Ian Fleming novels. The idea that you'll go from being this incredible, you know, iconic, this is a 50-year anniversary of the creation of this character and now he becomes a corporate shill.
O'BRIEN: Apparently, a vodka maker did not want to step in and underwrite it.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You are looking at this the wrong way.
O'BRIEN: Yes, thank you, Will. We see eye to eye.
CAIN: Maybe perhaps the corporate sponsorship allows the Bond franchise to live on because he's had ten more movies where he doesn't drink a martini, but he's still with you.
O'BRIEN: Also maybe a sell out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are looking at it the wrong way. You should be looking at the product placement -- I don't know what the product placement opportunities are here, but you know, there might be something --
CAIN: The morning shows.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, exactly. Exactly right.
O'BRIEN: The Blackberry one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, exactly.
O'BRIEN: I love it. I love it. I think it's a good idea. I'll disagree with you.
All right, still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Keith Olbermann compares himself to a $10 million chandelier.
CAIN: The thing about him is his humility. It's his humility.
O'BRIEN: He explains why he was fired again and Senator John McCain talks about his man Mitt Romney's big night last night. What's the plan for Mitt Romney now?
Will he just ignore the other GOP candidates? Can he afford to? You are watching STARTING POINT. Got to take a short break. We're back in just a moment.
O'BRIEN: So, we've had Senator John McCain on the show numerous times and every single time, I always say what music does he like so we can put it on our play list? And I never really get a straight answer, well, that was it.
That was it, "Dancing Queen" that is off Senator McCain's playlist. It's nice to have him join us this morning. We're going to talk about Mitt Romney who has more than half the number of the delegates that he needs to clinch the GOP nomination.
The primaries yesterday, of course, were a clean sweep. He added Wisconsin. He added Maryland. He added the District of Columbia to his win column. So the number is now 648 delegates for Governor Romney. Rick Santorum, Senator Santorum has 264. Newt Gingrich at 137 and Ron Paul at the very end of that list with 71.
Senator McCain joins us now. It's nice to see you, sir. The sweep was predicted. We like your musical choices, by the way, as well, but also predicted that Senator Santorum is absolutely positively not going anywhere.
So what's the strategy now? Governor Romney leads in delegates, but what do you think the plan is moving forward?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, first, could I say, I'm not embarrassed to say I like Abba.
O'BRIEN: We're with you. We feel it.
JONES: Courage under fire. Courage under fire.
MCCAIN: But I think, Soledad, that Mitt Romney has already pivoted to the general election campaign, that whether Rick Santorum stays in or not, it's now basically irrelevant, and Mitt has a lot of ground to make up.
It's been a very nasty primary. His unfavorables are high. I'm confident that he will do very well. But the fact is that every day that goes by without being in the general election campaign mode is a day lost. He realizes that and I think you're going to see -- already you're seeing the opening shots in a very spirited campaign.
O'BRIEN: You know, it's interesting the way you're framing that, you know, it's been a nasty primary as if it's now done. I think if you're Senator Santorum's camp watching this, no, no, we're not leaving the race yet.
If you look at something like the state of Pennsylvania, you certainly can't tell me that you're just sort of going to ignore that state and move on to just focusing on President Obama, correct?
MCCAIN: Well, I think, Soledad, that people usually win their own state and that's a given. But there's no way you can do the math and see any other result than Mitt Romney winning the nomination.
And every establishment figure just about, but more importantly, the exit polls even if they voted for Santorum yesterday, most of the Republicans are convinced that Mitt Romney will be the nominee.
It's been a very tough campaign that they've been in, far worse than any I've observed, so we've got a lot of ground to make up because it raised up Mitt's unfavorables, but I thought he's pivoted well and I thought he did a good job last night and Tuesday night when -- after his victory.
O'BRIEN: Let me ask a question, sir, if you will of Ron Brownstein for just a moment. The strategy seems to be let's pivot and talk about President Obama, what are the risks in that strategy? Listen, Santorum is done, look at the numbers and we're heading towards clinching the nomination.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he is heading toward clinching the nomination, but the results in Wisconsin was not a blowout, the bottom did not completely fall out for Rick Santorum, and the risk for Romney really is more embarrassment than anything else.
If Santorum does win in Pennsylvania and can sustain his viability and can marshal the coalition that he had in most of the primary he can win an awful lot of states in May when all of us are sitting around saying Mitt Romney is the inevitable nominee.
And that will be kind of a difficult month I think for Romney. So I think he needs to be careful not to entire look past the primary and make sure he can put Santorum away potentially in Pennsylvania.
O'BRIEN: Senator McCain, let's do a what-if, let's say the nomination is wrapped up, what advice would you give Governor Romney by picking a vice presidential candidate? What lessons were learned, and what would you tell him?
MCCAIN: I think that I would obviously tell him that not to rush to judgment, for one thing, but also we have some very highly qualified candidates ranging from Marco Rubio to Chris Christie to Mitch Daniels to Bobby Jindal.
We have a very good stable out there of really fine candidates and I think it's going to be a pretty tough decision. I think obviously Marco Rubio would be one of the prime contenders for a whole variety of reasons including by the way, he's been a very impressive senator during the time he's been in the Senate.
But back on the -- back on the -- Ron, I respect your judgment, and I understand the point you're making, but there's no way you can do the math that there's any way that Santorum is going to derail this candidacy at this point in time.
And I worry a great deal about not pivoting because of the fact that this continuous fighting drives up unfavorables of Mitt Romney, which means ground he has to make up.
I'm confident he can make it up, but every day that goes by that he's not in the general campaign is a day lost. You see my point?
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, as always I see your point.
O'BRIEN: Senator John McCain joining us this morning. Senator and Abba lover, we now know. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it. Glad to have you.
MCCAIN: Thanks for having me on.
O'BRIEN: You bet. Still ahead on STARTING POINT, George Zimmerman and the racial slur that some people say they heard in that 911 call that happened before he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. We sent it off for some forensic testing. The results are back. We'll talk about that straight ahead.
Also Van Jones has a new book. It's called "Rebuild the Dream." He's going to tell us how he felt the Obama hope bubble burst. We'll discuss that straight ahead as well. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.
ROMANS: A couple quick headlines to tell you about.
Cleanup efforts now under way in North Texas after violent tornadoes flattened homes and sent giant 30,000-pound big rigs flying through the air.
As many as 13 tornadoes ripped through the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Hundreds of flights were canceled at DFW airport, a major hub. Amazingly, no reports of deaths or serious injuries there. The mayor of Dallas summed it up saying, we dodged a big bullet.
And in his first interview since getting fired from Current TV, Keith Olbermann admits he screwed up. But on "Letterman" last night, he also blamed his former bosses who include former Vice President Al Gore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH OLBERMANN, FORMER TV HOST: I didn't think the whole thing through. I didn't say, you know, if you buy a $10 million chandelier, you should have a house to put it in. Just walking around with a $10 million chandelier isn't going to do anybody a lot of good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
OLBERMANN: And it's not going to do any good to the chandelier. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Dave Letterman says and you're the chandelier? And he said, yes, I'm the chandelier. It's like one of those questions from a job interview, if you were a light fixture.
O'BRIEN: It's never good when you have to really explain your analogy. Let me draw you a picture of what I mean. All right, Christine, thank you for that.
Some new developments to get to this morning in the Trayvon Martin shooting. We have the results of an analysis that we asked for, for this controversial portion of that 911 conversation between dispatch and George Zimmerman.
It happened, of course, the night that Trayvon Martin was killed and it could reveal what was really said. This is something we literally have been talking about for weeks. Alina Cho has got more on this.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and for people who are following this case, this is the latest and greatest point of debate, right? We're really dissecting this 911 call.
At issue is that controversial portion of the 911 call where some believed that Zimmerman used a racial slur. Listen carefully to the original recording first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED OPERATOR: He's running? Which way is he running?
ZIMMERMAN: Down towards the other entrance to the neighborhood.
UNIDENTIFIED OPERATOR: OK. Which entrance is that he's heading towards?
ZIMMERMAN: The back entrance. (Inaudible).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: All right, as you heard there, you hear wind, really, more than anything else in that last portion of the 911 call. Very difficult to understand what Zimmerman is saying, but, again, at the moment you start having trouble hearing, that's where some believe he's using a racial slur.
Here at CNN, we did our own analysis and came to no conclusion. So we asked forensic expert Tom Owen to analyze the recording to see if he can make out what Zimmerman is saying.
Now Owen says he was able to clean up the audio a bit and to him it sounds like Zimmerman is saying f'ing clothes. Listen again. We're going to play just that portion and we're going to play it three times.
O'BRIEN: I didn't hear that.
CHO: So you can judge for yourself. Watch. I mean, if you know that --
O'BRIEN: Clothes? I don't hear clothes. I don't hear clothes at all. But, I know, and I've now listened to it 200 times.
CAIN: If somebody tells you what to listen to before you ever hear it, you hear what they told you to listen for.
O'BRIEN: Because there are some words that I think when they mention it, I don't hear that word --
CAIN: I think it reinforces what I've been saying over and over the conclusions are elusive in this case. We should listen to the facts as they play out.
CHO: That's why, Will Cain, we asked for another forensics. Yes, see? We're not going to -- we're not happy with just one. We're very thorough here. That's right. That's right.
All right, so we reached out to a man named Ed Primeau, another forensic expert, he analyzed the same portion of the 911 call and he tells us that he performed what he calls listen to this, light noise reduction and light equalization and compression, whatever that means.
But anyway, he analyzed the video very closely and in his opinion Zimmerman is using a racial slur. Again, listen. Here's his version. We'll play it for you again three times.
O'BRIEN: You know, and actually after I heard it now for the 500th time I thought maybe it's curse word, cones, and I was curious to know are they driving --
CHO: I never even thought about that.
O'BRIEN: I don't know. Maybe we'll never know the answer. I'll be curious to know --
JONES: We don't have to decide. A court or a jury will decide.
CHO: It's interesting as we analyzed the last portion of the audio where again, you hear really winds more than anything else or breathing, the last forensic expert said there's only a 48 percent chance that this was Zimmerman's voice. So there's a lot of debate as to whether it was even George Zimmerman making that call.
O'BRIEN: In the screening portion. But they also have not yet as far as we know matched the Trayvon voice to the screening portion, so that's inconclusive on who that really was.
I hear you, Will Cain. Will has been a long advocate of slow down, get all the evidence. But I actually find all the details emerging incredibly fascinating.
And with social media everyone has access now to this evidence and this is evidence and you get to sit down and sort of say, well, I'd like to hear what the experts are hearing.
CHO: Again, I said this is the latest, greatest point of debate and that really plays into that central question of was it a racial motivated crime, a hate crime. If it can be determined if he used a racial slur, of course, that's fuel for the fire, but difficult.
O'BRIEN: And fuel for the lawyers from the Department of Justice. All right, Alina, thanks. Appreciate it.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to talk about Van's new book. It's called "Rebuild the Dream." He's a former White House adviser, resigned in a cloud of craziness and some scandal as well.
Speaking of social media, we're going to talk about exactly what happened. He'll walk us through and talk about also how the American dream in his opinion can be recaptured. You're watching STARTING POINT. Got to take a short break. Back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: That's a part where it's really good to jump in and sing along. That's off of Van's playlist, Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror." That's my son Jackson's favorite song. Partly 85 percent because of Michael Jackson, but he's 7. You could totally understand that.
We want to talk about Van's book because not only is he a panelist this morning. He's also written a new book. It's called "Rebuild the Dream." It's all about being inside the Obama White House.
You write about the hope bubble being burst. You say this, "Where did the forces that elected Obama go wrong? The movement didn't crash primarily because of the losers of 2008 created a fear machine. It crashed because the winners mishandled and inadvertently dismantled the hope machine."
That's an interesting perspective. You say this is three books in one. What do you mean?
JONES: Well, I mean, the first part of the book really is a history of the social movement that's elected Obama. The middle of the book analyzes Obama's rhetoric, rhetorical strategy, the chief party, Occupy Wall Street even.
The last part of the book is a bunch of proposals to try to get America working. You know, I'm one of the few people, I was a grassroots outsider. I became a White House insider and then I became a grassroots outsider again.
So I have a 360 view of how the White House really misunderstood the grassroots movement. The grassroots movement totally misunderstood what the White House could do and couldn't do. I thought I had a responsibility to write a book to try to give both sides a little bit of insight into each other. That's what the book is about.
O'BRIEN: Page 78 you say this --
JONES: Hold up, hold up.
O'BRIEN: I'll hold it like this. Now available on Amazon. You say this, "We overestimated our achievement in 2008, we underestimated our opponents. We did not lose because the backlashers got so loud. We lost because the rest of us got so quiet."
"Too many of us treated Obama's inauguration as some kind of finish line and we should have seen it as the starting line. Too many of us sat down when we should have stood up." So what was the implication of that do you think?
JONES: Well, the problem was I think the progressives, Democrats and independents elected Obama, we thought, look, you got Obama in the White House. You got 60 votes in the Senate --
O'BRIEN: Done and done.
JONES: So we thought that was enough to govern. It turns out that was only one third. You also have to have a disciplined media strategy, Fox was able to demonstrate that and you have to have a grassroots movement, people.
The Tea Party demonstrated that. LBJ did not lead the Civil Rights Movement. Obama is the head of state. He's not supposed to also be a social movement leader, but the grassroots didn't understand that. We expected him to do for us what we have to do for ourselves.
CAIN: Interesting that your disappointment in the accomplishments of this administration is largely focused on those outside who opposed it. Your ideology as oppose to your activism has been very open.
You said you flirted with socialism, communism, and various aspects. What I'm curious about is when you were inside. You were part of this administration. How much does your ideology reflect the ideology reflect the administration's?
JONES: Well, first of all, the reason I wrote the book is because, you know, people like this had such a great job of smearing me and lying about what my ideas are.
CAIN: If I'm wrong --
JONES: Let me finish. I figured you'd try to make some point for yourself. But here's the deal, the reality is this. I like a lot of people when I was younger -- some people experiment with drugs and alcohol. I experimented with ideas, world views and philosophies. When I was younger, I decided that I was going to do everything I could to change the system to make sure poor people didn't mistreated. I grew up, I learned, I changed.
Just like Shirley Sherrod will tell her story about how she used to be, you know, suspicious of white people then she learned, I was going around telling my story that the way you're going to deal with poverty is with business solutions.
The way you're going to deal with poverty is with free enterprise and the way you're going to deal with poverty is putting people to work.
O'BRIEN: But you didn't answer Will's question, which is how much of what your philosophy is reflects what was going on in the administration.
JONES: My philosophy of using business-based solutions to fight both poverty and pollution, creating green jobs, putting people to work in green industries is exactly what the president ran on.
My mature views are the views of the administration. And so the reason I wrote the book, we are now living in a situation where the information system is very sophisticated, but the wisdom system is not.
O'BRIEN: We're going to keep talking about this through our commercial break as well and into the 8:00 hour. Got to take a break. We're back in just a moment. Stay with us.