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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN
8.6 Magnitude Quake Off Coast Of Indonesia; Trayvon Martin Shooting; George Zimmerman's Legal Team Quits; It's Now Romney and the Rest; Interview with Tony Perkins; Alleged Rape Victim Held In Detention
Aired April 11, 2012 - 05:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Good morning, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Nice to have you with us.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN HOST: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We're bringing you the news "A" to "Z." It is 6:00 a.m. on the East, so let's get started here.
SAMBOLIN (voice-over): George Zimmerman's attorneys quit. As we hear, there could be new evidence presented in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. In a matter of hours, those lawyers will join us live in moments.
BANFIELD: And it is now Mitt Romney and the rest after Rick Santorum says it's over for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, this presidential race for us is over for me, and we will suspend our campaign effective today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Ah! Now, the main event, Mitt Romney says he's about to charge full force at President Obama.
SAMBOLIN: North Korea defying the world and fueling a long-range rocket. The U.S. saying the north isn't fooling anyone with its supposed space program.
BANFIELD: And we're following breaking news out of Indonesia this morning. An 8.6 magnitude earthquake off of the northern and western end of the Indonesian archipelago and you'll remember that's near Banda Ache. Where back in 2004, there was a devastating tsunami and earthquake.
Well, there's another earthquake not as powerful. It has been revised from 8.7 magnitude to 8.6 magnitude, but nonetheless, the implications and the repercussions for the rest of that region are significant.
Let's get you to Rob Marciano who is following this from our weather center. The significance of the watches for the tsunamis are just remarkable -- Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, widespread. We immediately think back to 2004 when we had the 9.1 magnitude quake that hit just about less than 100 miles from this exact epicenter.
That one a bit little closer to Sumatra itself so the damage inland was much, much worse and the quake itself was 0.5 of a magnitude stronger. So this is a video we showed about 10 or 15 minutes ago that the quake itself happened around 5:30 or so Eastern Time.
So a little over about an hour and a half ago is when this actually hit and that's likely when this video was shot. Now, these residents and other residents across northern Sumatra at that time were told to get to higher ground. If there was a tsunami generated it would have already hit this part of the world, but these things travel -- one generated at 500 miles an hour so.
Other areas that have yet to get hit, may very well do so in the next hour or two would be Bali, North Western Australia, potentially 9:15 Eastern time. But we don't have any reports of a tsunami so just a tsunami watch for this area.
It's such a big quake that they immediately put a watch out, wait to see if any of their buoys move up or down and wait to see if you get a report of a tsunami.
And then once that happens they'll issue a warning and then it's no holds barred, everyone in ocean bay has to head to higher ground. But still waiting on reports for a tsunami, no doubt there was damage inland just from the quake itself.
BANFIELD: Rob, do we know at this point how far the quake was felt? I mean, I know that Kuala Lumpur is over 600 miles away. It came in on one of the reports that it's a long way, it's a long way north. It's a hugely, you know, densely populated center as it Jakarta, which may be somewhat closer, but do we know if the shaking was that far away.
MARCIANO: Well, as you can imagine, the areas right there likely don't have power. Communications sparse at best even when they do have power so we've gotten reports of some shaking being felt as far north as India and Thailand so --
MARCIANO: -- to give you an idea how strong the quake was.
BANFIELD: Incredible. All right, Rob, thanks very much.
MARCIANO: All right, you got it.
SAMBOLIN: It is 3 minutes past the hour here. The clock is ticking on what could be a major announcement in the Trayvon Martin case. Special Prosecutor Angela Corey said last night she'd have something to say within 72 hours.
It could be whether George Zimmerman will be charged in the fatal shooting, and just when it seems Zimmerman will really need an attorney, his legal team has left him.
Attorneys, Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig quit after Zimmerman cut off contact, ignoring their calls, e-mails and their legal advice. In just a moment, we'll talk live with those two lawyers.
But first, let's go to CNN's George Howell. He is live in Sanford, Florida. George, do we have any idea what the Special Prosecutor Angela Corey is going to say today -- within 72 hours, but we hear --
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zoraida, good morning.
SAMBOLIN: We hear it could be sooner.
HOWELL: Good morning. At this point, still unclear exactly what that announcement may be, could it be a decision in the case? Still to be determined, but say it is a decision in this case, there are a lot of questions.
First of all, how would the prosecutor reach George Zimmerman with a decision? Clearly, it would not be through his attorneys as they are unable to reach him themselves. Also, where is he? Is he in Florida? Is he still in the United States?
And also they will be looking into the possibility, is he a flight risk at this point? Some of the questions that the prosecutor must be looking into as you can imagine after that bombshell announcement yesterday that the attorneys will no longer be representing George Zimmerman.
But again, we've heard from Angela Corey's office that she has taken time in this case to be thorough and methodical as she looks at the facts. Take a listen to what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA COREY, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, TRAYVON MARTIN CASE: If you make an arrest on probable cause and you can't prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt then that's a short window of time that the perpetrator will serve in jail. We always try to work with the police to build stronger cases before we make the arrest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Now, what we know per the attorneys that they lost contact with Zimmerman on Sunday. We also know, though, that he did reach out to Sean Hannity with Fox News and also reached out to the state attorney, but the attorneys there did not speak with him given that he has no legal representation. The prosecutor just decided not to speak with him. We also know that George Zimmerman set up a web site that his former defense team did not know about initially, a web site called the real George Zimmerman.
They thought initially that it might have been a fraud, later determined that it was legitimate, but a lot of things came to light that they were unaware of that he was doing at the time and they say that they are concerned about his mental stability. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAL UHRIG, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FORMER ATTORNEY: George Zimmerman in our opinion and from information made available to us is not doing well emotionally, probably suffering from posttraumatic stress syndrome. For those engaged in a late Easter Egg Hunt looking for him, stop looking in Florida. Look much further away than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: The attorneys expressed their concern about his mental stability and everyone asking the question, where is George Zimmerman?
SAMBOLIN: All right, George Howell live in Sanford, Florida for us. Thank you very much.
BANFIELD: So George Howell asks a very good question, where is George Zimmerman? Perhaps the only people who have had latest contact George Zimmerman's former attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig who join me now live.
Gentlemen, thanks so much for taking the time to get up and speak with me this morning.
You have both been taking serious heat from a lot of your colleagues and legal analysts for the news conference that was held yesterday where you announced that you're stepping down from the case.
Do you have any regrets about announcing publicly that you've dropped -- I don't want to say drop the case because there is no case but dropped out of the representation of George Zimmerman?
HAL UHRIG, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FORMER ATTORNEY: Let me say this, first of all as it relates to the heat we've caught, you know, it's easy for the Monday morning quarterbacks to say, why you should have run a running play than a passing play because it's been intercepted.
We don't think we've done anything improper or illegal and we certainly don't think we've done anything to hurt George Zimmerman. To characterize what we did as quitting perhaps is not entirely accurate.
We simply wanted to acknowledge the fact under the circumstances we could not ethically continue to tell the press or anybody else that we're still representing him. BANFIELD: So that's I think where a lot of criticism has come based on the ethics. I think there's some question about Florida law and where retention and privilege kicks in but maybe you guys can clear this up and, Craig, jump in if you'd like here.
Did you -- did you -- were you in any way retained even though there wasn't a document signed were you any way verbally retained by George Zimmerman and, therefore, did privilege kick in?
CRAIG SONNER, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FORMER ATTORNEY: George Zimmerman asked me to be his attorney. At first said as a legal adviser, but then later he said I want you to be my attorney and that was our agreement.
I don't think we've done anything to violate attorney/client privilege. We've discussed nothing that I've discussed with -- in confidence with George Zimmerman. Everything that we've discussed are all things were disclosed to the media through other sources.
BANFIELD: And just --
UHRIG: You know, Ashleigh --
BANFIELD: Go ahead, Hal.
UHRIG: Ashleigh, something that you and I discussed before, we're all ignorant just on different topics. The subject of attorney/client privilege is a little bit more complicated than you pick up off the TV shows.
Listen to some of the complaints, frankly, even on this network from Mr. Geragos and Mr. Baez. They're factually incorrect. I checked the list of people who's opinions are really treasured, they're not on the list.
Attorney/client privilege means something your client told you in confidence with the expectation that you will not repeat it. It doesn't mean repeating things that are already out in the public that are already known. Known to other people even just one other person.
BANFIELD: Did George Zimmerman reach out to you at all after the news conference?
BANFIELD: Are you expecting that he still may be -- because I took it from your comments that you are still available for representation should he so desire?
SONNER: That's correct. I mean, everything that I've represented in the media about George Zimmerman I believe. I believe that he's gotten a raw deal from the media that the media has tried to convict him wrongfully. When the facts come out it'll show he acted in self- defense, that the police department made the proper decision in not arresting him as there was not probable cause to make the arrest and, you know, he needs legal help.
And I'm still here to provide that for him, but at this point it wouldn't be ethical for me to stay on the case for now it's going on three days that he's not communicating with me in any shape or form and he's communicating with other people.
I can't hold myself out as representing him although he did agree that he wanted me to represent him in days past. Something changed around Sunday, and he cut off all contact and has started doing things without telling me he's doing them.
BANFIELD: I want you to expand on that for me, Craig. Speaking to people who you had advised him not to speak to specifically calling the prosecutor and this information as I understand it did not come from George Zimmerman to you.
This came from the prosecutors who reached out to you to tell you that Zimmerman had contacted them and wants to talk. Do you have any idea what else he said to them?
SONNER: I don't know because it's my understanding that the prosecutor wouldn't talk to him and they called me, which is the right thing to do. They knew that he had representation.
So they wouldn't speak with him. That was the right thing for the prosecutor to do and they called and said, you know, he's called me here and we confirmed that, you know, we compared phone numbers and confirmed that it was George Zimmerman who called him. So, you know, they acted correctly.
BANFIELD: What was it he was looking to do? Do you have any idea why he reached out to the prosecutors? What did he want from them?
SONNER: Well, I think he wanted to give his side of the story to the prosecutors and we were going to arrange for that to happen and we were in the process for arranging for a meeting place so that could take place safely for George. And I don't know why he didn't -- if he would have worked through me, I would have allowed him to make his statement.
BANFIELD: Did you have a date on the books for a meeting with the prosecutors and George Zimmerman?
SONNER: We wanted to, but George wasn't returning my phone calls so that we could make arrangements for him. We were going to make arrangements for somebody to meet him so that he could go to a place that wouldn't be known by the media or anyone else so that he could give a statement to the prosecutor.
And Hal and I or Hal or I would have been with him when he made that statements so there wouldn't be any confusion about whether he was, you know -- so no one would accuse the prosecutor of taking him aside and interrogating him.
BANFIELD: Without a lawyer present, understandable. Among the many bombshells yesterday was this one when you mentioned if -- I think it was you, Hal, who mentioned if you're looking for George Zimmerman in Florida, keep looking, he's not here.
I think that came as a surprise to many people. It came as a surprise to Trayvon Martin's family. How do you know he's not in Florida and the second part of that question, where is he? Is he close by? Is he in the country, at least?
UHRIG: Well, let me deal with that. First of all, we got some heat for saying that as though we have disclosed some terrible attorney/client privilege. An attorney/client privilege is when only you and the client are sharing that confidential information.
We were certainly not the only ones who knew that he was not in Florida. That list of people includes the prosecutor's office, law enforcement and his family. The idea that he is a flight risk, I think, should be dispelled by the fact he was trying to come in and see the prosecutor.
They've got his phone number. He's got their phone number. We've got no reason to believe he is going to try to flee. He is simply distanced himself for safety purposes and by making that statement.
We were hopeful also that media or new Black Panthers or others might not be staking out family members or homes or other places and endangering other people in search for him here in Florida.
BANFIELD: So another one of the criticisms that came after the press conference yesterday, gentlemen, was that in making the announcement, it wasn't but a few hours before Angela Corey came out with an announcement herself that within 72 hours, she's going to have some news to make.
Some of the critics said by dropping representation of George Zimmerman, you perhaps might have exposed him to some fears on behalf of the prosecutor that she needs to make a move and arrest him because who else can they call to track down your client? Are you concerned about that?
UHRIG: I think that's nonsense. They know who they can call. They have already talked to George Zimmerman. They have his phone number. He's got their phone number.
If he was going to flee, he wouldn't be trying to come in. The idea that suddenly because we announced that we can't communicate with our client that he's going to flee the country, frankly, is just silliness.
BANFIELD: Is there any other piece of evidence, piece of information that could be a game change in this case right now that you could speak about that wouldn't violate privilege or wouldn't violate ethics? UHRIG: We have told you before that we believe there's information and evidence in the possession of the prosecutor, the investigators, the police department, the Department of Law Enforcement that if publicly known might change some of the course of public opinion.
We're not at liberty to disclose it. We don't have possession of it. What little we know might disclose a confidence as to where we learned about it and we're simply not going to go there.
BANFIELD: Perhaps on another day. I do appreciate both of you joining us so early this morning. Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig joining us live from Florida. Thank you, gentlemen.
SAMBOLIN: It is 14 minutes past the hour.
Still ahead, game on. The ball now fully in Mitt Romney's court after Rick Santorum calls it quits. The battle with President Obama already hitting a new level.
And Hawaii admitting to a $75,000 mistake. A pricey problem could have been avoided with one phone call. We'll tell you all about that.
You are watching EARLY START.
SAMBOLIN: It is 18 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START.
There's a much clearer picture of the 2012 race this morning. Mitt Romney now expected to go full force at President Obama after Rick Santorum ended his bid for the GOP nomination yesterday.
It was, you know, a bitter fight. The Republican against Republican and in the end, Rick Santorum didn't even mention Romney in his concession speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we will suspend our campaign effective today. We are not done fighting.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This has been a good day for me.
ROMNEY: I had the chance to speak with him this morning. We exchanged our thoughts about going forward, and we both have a great deal of interest in seeing the country taken in a very different path.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Boy, wouldn't we have loved to have listened in on that conversation.
So, now, the healing and already one of Rick Santorum's big money donors has reportedly swung to team Romney. That would be Foster Friess.
CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser is live in Washington.
He has suspended as opposed to dropping out of the race. He's amassed 275 delegates. Does Romney get those?
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: No, he doesn't. By suspending his campaign, he gets -- keeps most of those candidates. Now, he can give them away or hold them all the way to the convention in Tampa. He also, by suspending, Zoraida, he is able to continue to raise money.
Those are two distinct things. All of the candidates do that nowadays. Instead of ending their campaign, they suspend it.
As for Romney, you heard about the -- you could see the delegate count. Romney still far, far ahead, but still short of that 1,144 but let's be honest he's all but certain to be the nominee now that Santorum is out of the race, and he could probably grab those nominees sometime in May when all the primaries are coming up.
For Romney, Zoraida, you just heard that sound you just played. They spoke yesterday, both of the candidates. Now, for Romney, job number one is meeting with Santorum and getting Santorum to endorse him because that endorsement could help Romney with social conservative voters, Tea Party activists, people who backed Santorum that Romney has a problem with.
SAMBOLIN: But how likely is that to happen, Paul?
STEINHAUSER: Listen, Santorum said over and over that he will eventually endorse the nominee. He has said that.
Sure, there was bad blood between the two campaigns, some tough talk, but I think the meeting will happen. You'll see Santorum join the cause.
SAMBOLIN: Within his campaign, differing opinions on whether or not he will. So earlier when I talked to him at the 5:00 I said let's talk about vice presidential picks perhaps. But I'm now putting the cart before the horse, but did you work on that for us?
STEINHAUSER: Oh, yes. Listen, everybody is talking about this now. This is what we'll talk about until August when Mitt Romney eventually comes out with his running mate and we could be surprised. Remember, four years ago, Sarah Palin wasn't on many people's lists.
But I've got like 16 people on my working list. But among them, Marco Rubio of Florida, listen, he's a rock star, he's a Latino obviously. Florida, a crucial battleground state. The downside for him, I guess, he's pretty young.
Rob Portman, Ohio, safer pick but Ohio is such, such an important battleground state.
Paul Ryan, congressman from Wisconsin, him and Romney had a bromance basically over the last couple of weeks in Wisconsin.
And what about Governor McDonnell of Virginia? He's safer pick, probably not as star power as the others. But, again, Virginia, another battleground.
These are four people who may -- may be near the top of Romney's list. Who knows?
SAMBOLIN: I'm still on the bromance, and the fact that there are no women on that list, either.
STEINHAUSER: On the bigger list -- on the bigger list, there are women.
SAMBOLIN: All right. Paul Steinhauser live in Washington, D.C. -- thank you very much.
STEINHAUSER: Thank you.
SAMBOLIN: Twenty-one minutes past the hour.
Still ahead, somebody has got to do it. Why is or what is the worst job to have in 2012?
BANFIELD: It's not morning anchor. No way. We love these hours.
SAMBOLIN: Are you looking at it?
BANFIELD: It looks like architect -- no. It looks like barista -- no.
SAMBOLIN: We'll tell you when we come back.
SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Raging flames, rooms full of smoke. These are the working conditions of firefighters.
CAPT. STEVEN FLOYD, SAVANNAH FIRE DEPT.: You can't see anything. You can only hear things, but it's still very confusing, complete blackout.
SAMBOLIN: It's hazardous situations like this that they train for. But thanks to some new technology, firefighters are going to be able to see the world in an entirely new way. This new high-tech mask gives first responders data about their surroundings. It's a vision of the future inventor Joseph Juhnke is trying to finally bring to life.
JOSEPH JUHNKE, TANAGRAM PARTNERS: I didn't see it, a whole bunch of great authors saw it, science fiction authors are fabulous in that they get to make it up and we get to make it happen.
SAMBOLIN: Giving firefighters information everywhere they look.
JUHNKE: Our job was really to come and give them their senses. All they have to do is put it on and display.
SAMBOLIN: Firefighters will be able to see oxygen level, temperatures and exit paths. It will even allow them to see what's happening with the rest of their team.
FLOYD: To be able to see and then be able to also not only see around that but to communicate with my team members, that's a big relief.
SAMBOLIN: Twenty-six minutes past the hour. We are minding your business this morning.
Fresh survey from CareerCast is out this morning, ranking the best and worst jobs of the year.
And news reporter turns out to be one of them.
BANFIELD: I'm not surprised.
SAMBOLIN: How is that possible?
ROMANS: Because there are so many layoffs, especially the newspaper industry and also in broadcasting, very low pay. There are a lot of people get in because they really want this job and they don't really advance very well.
BANFIELD: I remember someone telling me when I first got into the business, you know, bright lights, big city but don't get in it because of job security, for one.
ROMANS: It's true. And I heard the same thing. That's why I got into business reporting, because I was told there would be no jobs in newspaper back in the recession in '93.
Anyway, enough about that. But this is all about what you want to be when you grow up and what you're going to get paid to do and you're going to love and has job security and good pay, and it's safe.
So, let me tell you about the worst things. The worst things on the list, lumberjack, almost every year, why? Huge unemployment for lumberjacks. It's a dangerous job. It's a very physical job.
Dairy farmer is also on there, $33,000 a year is the median pay. And it is a 24/7 kind of job. Also enlisted military -- this makes me sad actually. This is on this list, also because it's a very dangerous and unpredictable job, as well. Those folks are coming back to an uncertain labor market.
Now, let's talk about the best jobs because you're not going to be surprised how many times do you hear me talking about STEM -- science, technology, education and math. They got the brains, they got the smarts, they got the money, and they got the opportunity.
The best job is software engineer, 88 grand a year, the midlevel income, 88 grand. Actuary, anything that has to do with numbers, finding out what numbers mean and how companies can make money off of them is good pay.
BANFIELD: H.R.? Whoa!
ROMANS: They sure send a lot of e-mails.
SAMBOLIN: They sure make a lot of money.
ROMANS: Ninety-nine grand, midlevel.
Dental hygienist, financial planner, audiologist, also very good jobs, occupational therapist, online advertising manager, new for this list, $87,000. Computer systems analyst, a lot of people in universities tell me this is a very good way to go if you're good with math and numbers, mathematician, $99,000 -- I could not be a mathematician.
SAMBOLIN: Can you please send it out?
ROMANS: I will tweet it out and make your children read it.
SAMBOLIN: Parents read it. Great information.
BANFIELD: Thanks, Christine. Appreciate it.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
BANFIELD: Twenty-eight minutes past 6:00.
And coming up: an update on this morning's 8.6 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Indonesia and what kind of a scare it's causing on the streets there.
You're watching EARLY START.
SAMBOLIN: -- past the hour. And welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.
BANFIELD: Good morning. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
It is time now to check what's making news this morning and we top our news with this -- an 8.6 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Indonesia. Residents of Banda Aceh have been told to evacuate to higher ground and we've got video just in to CNN. It shows the quake being felt in Banda Aceh, that city and also the entire province of Aceh.
You'll remember, it was devastated by a tsunami watch has been issued for much of the Indian Ocean.
George Zimmerman's former legal team in the position of defending themselves. They joined me just moments ago and said that George Zimmerman is now going solo. They have quit. They've lost contact with him. Although they say they are still open to continuing representation if he reaches out. We'll hear more from that interview in just a few moments.
A 17-year-old girl too terrified to confront the man who allegedly raped her and now she is being detained because she didn't show up to testify. It is odd. We will talk with her attorney about this case, just ahead.
NASA ending the crazy speculation about a fireball spotted over Texas. On tape and on your TV screen right now. But are you going to buy what NASA is selling as an explanation for this?
SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Ashleigh.
Well, this morning, the only candidate to emerge as the most serious threat to Mitt Romney is out of the race. Rick Santorum called it quits yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: We made the decision to get into this race at our kitchen table, against all the odds. And we made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race for us is over for me and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: And his exit also leaves many conservative evangelicals with little choice but to support Romney who is all but certain to win the GOP nomination in August.
But not every conservative is ready to fall in line. In fact, my next guest, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told our Dana Bash when it comes to Romney, quote, "It is difficult for us to back a candidate our constituents don't believe in and are not excited about."
Tony Perkins joins me now live.
Thank you for being with us this morning.
I want to take you back to Thursday. You had a conference call with Rick Santorum at that time and you told "The Washington Post" that you were really discussing more of the threat that Gingrich is to Santorum, not about dropping out.
So were you surprised by this announcement?
TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: I was a little surprised. I know that over the weekend, Rick wrestled with this issue because -- it was more than just the political issue. The toll that this was taking on his family, but it was the way forward, was there a successful way forward?
And I think what happened is that as the spin was there that Romney had a lock on the nomination, the money flow began to dry up. And, you know, Pennsylvania, Mitt Romney was pouring money into there and Rick just didn't see that there was going to be a successful way through that.
So, yes, I think some people were surprised and clearly a lot of people were disappointed with yesterday's announcement.
SAMBOLIN: I just want to clarify. It was "The Washington Post" that reported there. We understand you had a conference call yesterday with Rick Santorum. What did he say to you then?
PERKINS: Well, I talked to Rick a few times yesterday and essentially expounding upon the same themes that he made in his announcement speech yesterday, the bid for president may have ceased, but the campaign continues. He is going to continue to articulate the same message that intertwines the need for a strong economy, based upon strong families. And so I think that message will continue and I think he's going to help shape the message for the Republican Party going forward.
And, Zoraida, let me just say that, you know, as you introed me about not falling in line, we're not part of the Republican Party here. We advocate for issues and ideas. And so, if the party is moving in a different direction, we are not going there.
We only -- the only reason there was an alignment with Rick Santorum from our constituency is because Rick embraced the ideas, the policies and principles that our organization and our constituency believes in. And so, to the degree that one candidate or another aligns with that, they're going to find support. If they don't they're not going to get the unbridled enthusiastic support that Rick Santorum enjoys.
SAMBOLIN: Well, maybe not unbridled and enthusiastic but Mitt Romney is -- looks like he is the eventual nominee here. Are you saying that you will not support him?
PERKINS: No, I mean, people are not going to go over and vote for Barack Obama who is the antithesis of the ideas that we embrace. But there's not going to be the type of enthusiasm and, unfortunately, I think this election will come down to that intensity factor -- who can most energize, enthuse their base. It comes down to this, I think our folks are going to go vote for whoever is the most conservative candidate. And obviously if it's a contest between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama it's going to be Mitt Romney.
But the question is, who are they going to influence in the process? Those people in the middle, those who are not necessarily connected with the political process, are they going to be driving a Suburban to the polls to vote, loaded with people who are energized or are they going to be driving a Volkswagen or a smart car that has no room for anybody else?
SAMBOLIN: Well, maybe you're in the best position to answer this. What can Mitt Romney do in order to get those social conservatives on his side?
PERKINS: Well, you know, Zoraida, I think Rick would admit this himself. This was not about Rick Santorum. I mean, Rick would say he's probably was not the best messenger to articulate the message that he had. But that emphasizes the power of the message that he had. That's what it energized and enthused people.
So I think, first off, if Mitt Romney wants to capture some of that support that Rick Santorum gained with very little money, based solely upon his message then Mitt Romney needs to pick up that message. Not just when he's asked in debates or cornered by a reporter to say, yes, I'm pro-life or, yes, I support marriage -- but intertwine that in his message of, yes, if we want smaller government and a stronger economy, we've got to have strong and healthy families.
SAMBOLIN: All right, Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council -- thanks for joining us this morning. Appreciate your time.
PERKINS: All right. Have a great day.
SAMBOLIN: Thanks, you too.
Rick Santorum's chief spokesperson Alice Stewart is talking to Soledad O'Brien at 7:15 Eastern this morning. That is on "STARTING POINT." More details on Santorum's exit and does he plan to support Mitt Romney?
The burning question, Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: Ah, his spokesman saying it's not an inevitability. How about that? Such a surprise after that announcement yesterday. Thanks, Zoraida.
It's 39 minutes now past 6:00.
We could learn before the week is out whether George Zimmerman is going to be charged in the Trayvon Martin shooting. A special prosecutor last night said she had planning to have an announcement all within 72 hours. That takes us to Friday.
In the meantime, Zimmerman's legal team has bowed out. They say Zimmerman cut off contact with them and just left them no choice. We talked to them earlier on this show and they defended their decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAL UHRIG, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FORMER ATTY.: We don't think we've done anything improper or illegal. And we certainly don't think we've done anything to hurt George Zimmerman. To characterize what we did as quitting perhaps is not entirely accurate. We simply wanted to acknowledge the fact that under the circumstances we could not ethically continue to tell the press or anybody else that we're still representing him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: George Zimmerman remains in hiding this morning. Those attorneys say they believe that he is not in the state of Florida but that he doesn't pose a flight risk because they say Zimmerman himself has reached out to speak with prosecutors. They also say they are concerned about their former client's mental stability.
It is now 40 minutes past 6:00.
Let's get you to Rob Marciano checking weather and keeping an eye on an earthquake for us near Indonesia -- Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No updates there.
Let's get you updated on weather right now. We're looking at the potential for a fire weather danger across the Southeast and also cold temperatures across the western great lakes, diving into the mid- Atlantic, frost or freeze watches and warnings posted for not only this morning but tomorrow morning, as well. So be aware of that.
And red flag warnings are posted for parts of the South and East with bone-dry conditions and gusty winds. Severe threats across west Texas and storm coming into parts of the West Coast, including California.
We'll keep you posted on weather, and, of course, what's going on over in the Indian Ocean when EARLY START continues.
BANFIELD: It is 44 minutes now past 6:00 on the East Coast.
SAMBOLIN: Soledad O'Brien joins us with a look at what is ahead on "STARTING POINT."
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, HOST, "STARTING POINT": Hey, ladies. Good morning to you.
Coming up this morning on "STARTING POINT" -- what happened really when 17 Afghan civilians were killed back in March? A U.S. soldier has now been charged with the murders. We're going to speak to the first Western journalist to visit the crime scene and interview the survivors, including young children.
Also, Rick Santorum suspended his campaign. The former Minnesota governor and former Republican presidential candidate, Tim Pawlenty, is going to join me. He's a Romney supporter and with Santorum out of the race, question now, is can Romney connect with conservative voters? Alice Stewart from Santorum's campaign will be talking to us, as well. We'll see you right at the top of the hour for "STARTING POINT."
BANFIELD: A judge in California has taken the extraordinary step of holding a 17-year-old alleged rape victim in juvenile detention. A victim. Why? Because she failed to show up for court twice as a key witness against her alleged rapist, Frank William Brackly Jr. (ph). Prosecutors say he is a career criminal and a serial rapist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALBERT LOCHER, SACRAMENTO COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: It becomes a question of balancing the inconvenience to the witness, and we're talking about a relatively short period of time here against the protection of the community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Girl's attorney says her client is terrified to testify because she's afraid for her safety. That attorney, Lisa Franco, the alleged victim's attorney joining me live now from Sacramento. Lisa, thanks for being with us. This is just an incredible story.
Why is it that your client continues to run away which prompted the judge to agree to this detention of her. Does she not want to see this rapist put away or this alleged rapist put away?
LISA FRANCO, ATTORNEY FOR DETAINED ALLEGED RAPE VICTIM: She does, however, she has been -- she hasn't been advised of her rights prior to being detained in this matter. She had other pressing matters when she was living in a group home that caused her to want to rung to her mother's home in the bay area.
She was never advised properly. Marcie's Law says that dictates that a person who has been sexually assaulted does not have to -- cannot be imprisoned for not wanting to testify against her rapist. She was never advised regarding her rights to testify or not testify.
First and foremost, a convict of a rape has the right to feel safe, and she was never advised of her rights regarding her requirements or to appear in court, to not have to testify, and she was never given the benefit of feeling safe throughout this process.
BANFIELD: And I got that piece of Marcie's Law that you just referred to. Let me read it for our viewers who aren't familiar with it. In California, it is a law suggesting that victims are to be treated with fairness and respect for his or her privacy and dignity and to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process.
But then, you heard the D.A. just saying that this is weighing the inconvenience which is an interesting word to choose, the inconvenience that your client is going through for the greater good of the community. When you say your client wasn't advised of her rights, she was in a courtroom, and she faced a judge who said I'm sorry I have to do this. How do you say she wasn't advised of her rights?
FRANCO: I'm referring to prior to being placed in the custody. She didn't know that she was going to have to go to juvenile hall had she not appeared for her -- the trial of defendant, (ph) Brackly. She didn't know that this was going to occur -- happen to her. But, also, it shouldn't have to be happening to her.
She should not have to be imprisoned for making it known to the D.A. that she was not going to do what he wanted and testify at her rapist's trial.
BANFIELD: Alleged rapist's trial. Just want to make sure that we --
FRANCO: I'm sorry.
BANFIELD: -- continue to protect his rights, you know --
FRANCO: Absolutely. I'm sorry.
BANFIELD: Let me add to that just so that our viewers understand what's at stake here. As I understand it, when she didn't show up for an original trial date, those charges had to be dismissed and the D.A. could re-file them but only one time under California code.
So, they have one last crack at this apple or one last bite at this apple. Does your client understand how significant this is, that if she doesn't show again, they can't go after him again?
FRANCO: Right, but she does understand, and she is going to cross that bridge about testifying when and if she can be released from her detention facility, because right now, she can't even -- she's being re-victimized in the fact that what she's going through in there, she's been pepper sprayed.
Yesterday, she was given food that she's allergic to, rushed to the clinic, her throat closed up, and right now, she can't even overcome what's happened to her and think about testifying and I'm sure that once she is -- she's made it clear to me that once she is able to get out of there and start healing from the process of what she's been through, she would be more than willing to participate in this criminal justice process.
BANFIELD: Wow! It is astounding. I mean, it's just astounding, Lisa. I'm short on time and I apologize, because I would like to speak with you more about this. We should note to our viewers that California law does not compel your witness to testify, but just this mere appearance, it turns out to be such a linchpin in this case.
Hopefully, we can get you back to talk to us as this case develops. Lisa. Thank you. Thank you for getting up early with us.
FRANCO: You're welcome. Thank you very much for having me.
BANFIELD: Lisa Franco joining us live from Sacramento.
SAMBOLIN: -- her some psychological help while they have her behind bars. Good gracious!
BANFIELD: Pepper sprayed. She sprained her ankle in forced exercises. It is a remarkable --
BANFIELD: Remarkable development in (INAUDIBLE).
SAMBOLIN: Fifty-three minutes past the hour. Still ahead, what was that fire in the sky? Look at it. What do you think it is? NASA has an answer for you, but will you buy it? You're watching EARLY START.
BANFIELD: State of Hawaii is now admitting it made a bit of a mistake that cost U.S. taxpayers $75,000. Hawaii apparently received some funds from the federal government to secure this, Honolu Harbor. It used 75,000 bucks to buy an unmanned drone to fly over the harbor, but the state never checked with the FAA to find out if it could legally fly a drone and the FAA says, no, you can't.
Apparently, the harbor is just a little too close to Honolulu Airport, so Hawaiian officials now say they may sell the drone to another agency.
SAMBOLIN: All right. The NASA is trying to explain the mysterious fireball in the sky over Texas that was caught on tape a week ago. It was posted on YouTube. Take a look at it. NASA says, chill, it was just a jet contrail.
BANFIELD: A jet contrail?
SAMBOLIN: Some speculated that it was a meteor burning up as it entered the earth's atmosphere or an alien ship that shot down. All agreed, it was pretty cool.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like a fireball falling right out of the sky. It was so bright it was like this little piece of the sun falling with a big torch behind it. Chock that up in the list (ph), meteorite during the day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: I think I know what it is.
BANFIELD: Rick Santorum's campaign. Oh! Ba-dum-dum. SAMBOLIN: Will have (INAUDIBLE)
BANFIELD: This is a good time to give it to Soledad, isn't it?
BANFIELD: That's EARLY START, the news from "A" to "Z." I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.