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North Korea's Attempted Rocket Launch Fails; George Zimmerman Arrested; Whistleblower in New Orleans Saints Scandal Named; Rocket Was A Dud; Cease Fire Holding In Syria?; Obama Heads To Colombia; Drinking Make Men Smarter?; "Convince Me"; Rosen Comments Spark Firestorm; New Voyage For "Titanic"

Aired April 13, 2012 - 06:59   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: And good morning. Welcome, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning, North Korea answers the dare (ph), fires another dud, possibly a long range rocket right into the ocean. The damage, though, is done. The U.N. Security Council today is deciding how to react.

Also, after weeks in hiding, George Zimmerman makes his first court appearance. Prosecutors say he profiled Trayvon Martin before he shot and killed him. We'll take a look this morning at where the case goes from here.

And he is a super mayor. He is, comes to the rescue with Newark, New Jersey mayor there. Cory Booker runs into a burning building, literally, to save his neighbors. He's tweeting, though. So, he must be doing fine.

Plus, President Obama defending Ann Romney today and other stay- at-home moms. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no tougher job than being a mom. That's work.


O'BRIEN: We're going to talk about the political fallout from that comment about Ann Romney never working a day in her life.

It's Friday, April the 13th. That's right. Friday the 13th. Maybe we should roll right back to bed. STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: Rocking out this morning. The Green Day, "When I Come Around." Abby Huntsman's pick. She joins our panel this morning. Nice to have you being with us, Abby. Appreciate it. Also, John Fugelsang is with us, political comedian And Will Cain who writes for Nice to have you. WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Well, lots to get to. Interesting all the focus on this rocket, right, and of course, it turned out to be a dud. The U.N. Security Council this morning is going to consider now how to respond to North Korea's rocket launch that sort of was not a launch. It was fired but broke up moments after the launch, landed right into the ocean. Despite the embarrassment, President Obama is calling that launch provocative.

Tim Schwarz is live for us with the very latest from Pyongyang in North Korea. Hey, Tim, good morning.


O'BRIEN: So give me the assessment of even though it was a dud, exactly what the implications are not only where you are in the region but also what the U.N. Security Council is going to do today.

SCHWARZ: Well, North Korea was trying to prove that it had the capability of the missile technology, the rocket technology to put a satellite into space, which therefore implies that they have the technology that would be able to deliver a police tick missile basically to anywhere on the earth. They have not proved that today, obviously. They haven't proved it in any of their three previous attempts to prove it. Basically, four missile tests, four rocket launches for zero. That's the first thing. They haven't proven they've got the rocket.

The Security Council is going to have to make some kind of response. We'll have to see how strong that response is. In the past previous two tests they made, when the U.N. Security Council said strongly to the North Koreans, who insisted they had every right to do these kinds of tests, then went ahead and did a nuclear test. Whether they did it this time, there are speculations. There are thoughts the underground facility is being prepared for such a test. If that happens, then that will be very serious.

O'BRIEN: Tim Schwarz joining us with what happens next. Tim, thanks.

Getting our first reports about what prosecutors say happened the night George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. The affidavit of probable cause appeared just hours after Zimmerman appeared by video from Seminole County jail. The affidavit is the prosecution's version of what happened that night. But according to the affidavit, Martin was, quote, on his way back to the townhouse where he was living when he was profiled by George Zimmerman. There's also the 911 call. The prosecutors say a "Police dispatcher informed Zimmerman that an officer was on the way and to wait for the officer." It goes on to say, "Zimmerman confronted Martin, and a struggle ensued. Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest."

Zahra Umansky is an attorney who defended George Zimmerman before back in 2005 and 2006. It's nice to see you again. Thanks for joining us. ZAHRA UMANSKY, ATTORNEY WHO PREVIOUSLY DEFENDED ZIMMERMAN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: I just read the affidavit, and they say this is bare bones. We should underscore it's the prosecution's version, but what sticks out to you in this affidavit?

UMANSKY: Well, Soledad, what I think is interesting is the word profiling. I don't think there's evidence of profiling. In the 911 tape George Zimmerman is saying things about Trayvon he thinks he sees him doing, nothing about his race. He sees him acting suspicious, carrying something in his hand, as well as looks like he's on drugs. Those are the words that George uses. There's nothing about his race. So I don't know where the prosecutor is getting the profiling part. That's going to be interesting to see.

O'BRIEN: In the 911 call that we've all listened to many times on this panel, he does point out several times in the description of him that he's black, and he also sort of says he looks and describes as what he would define as suspicious activities. In an affidavit like this to sort of prove what charges you're going to go for, second degree murder, do you have to lay out the specifics, or do you have to really sort of say we're going to try to prove the case around profiling? I agree, that word stuck out to me too.

UMANSKY: You do have to talk about the elements of the crime. You have to show a depraved mind. And the prosecutor is going to try to show, Soledad, that just to say somebody has a hoodie or something in their hand is not a depraved mind.

On the other hand, George is going to say, hey, he was acting suspicious, acting like he was on drugs. We haven't heard why George thought this person acted like they were doing something criminal, acting like he was on drugs. That's going to be interesting once we hear George's version. So, yes, we've got to see that. Good morning.

JOHN FUGELSANG, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Is it not fair to say, however, that, even if he wasn't using a racial slur, and many of us do hear that word and not the word punks, the very fact that he was calling this man the words he was using and the profanities and calling him a punk, if that's what he chose, shows that he was profiling, that Mr. Zimmerman had passed judgment on this man without breaking any laws?

UMANSKY: But he passed judgment seeing someone he thought was engaged in a criminal act.


UMANSKY: He says he looks like he's on drugs. We haven't heard why does George think that? All of us have observed people under the influence of alcohol and drugs. We haven't heard what was he doing that made George think that. That's what made George suspicious, and the prosecutor is going to say, well, that's not enough. Everything you saw was innocent details --

O'BRIEN: Forgive me for interrupting, but I'm just curious. Is this something that's the centerpiece of the case as we move forward? And a prosecutor would have to prove that. Or are you saying the fact that we don't see it in the affidavit -- which I think everybody kind of agrees it's very bare boned -- is an indication of a big problem for the prosecution?

UMANSKY: The prosecutor, Soledad, is going to absolutely have to show that. How else are they going to prove the element depraved mind? They're going to have to show that George's belief was completely unreasonable, and that shows in and of itself a depraved mind. And that's going to be a tough thing, a very tough thing.

O'BRIEN: Are you surprised it's not in this affidavit, or is this affidavit -- to me, the affidavit seems so bare bones it gave me the sense -- and you guys can jump in and tell me if I'm wrong -- that he's essentially trying to leave it vague. There's nothing in the affidavit. Let me tell you what Alan Dershowitz, the noted defense attorney, said, and I think a lot of other attorneys have jumped in to agree with him. Listen.


ALAN DERSHOWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: An affidavit is supposed to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This affidavit is perfectly consistent with self-defense. It doesn't even state the elements of a crime. Of course, you don't have to say very much in an affidavit showing probable cause, but this doesn't even satisfy that minimal standard.


O'BRIEN: Does it satisfy the minimal standard in your mind?

UMANSKY: All they need to do is show probable cause. Soledad, probable cause is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That's the prosecutor's burden at trial. She just needs probable cause for an arrest. So it might be the bare bones minimum. It's not going to get the case dismissed at this point. I'm sure the prosecutor is waiting to bring forth all of their evidence at a much later time.

O'BRIEN: At some point there will be a stand-your-ground hearing. Some have suggested that, in fact, that actually could be another moment in which all this ends. You could have the case tossed after the stand-your-ground hearing, do you think?

UMANSKY: That's absolutely correct. The defendant will file a motion, and they just have to show it by preponderance of the evidence that they are entitled to that defense. And then the state can try to rebut that at that hearing and say, judge, do not grant this motion. Let this go to a hearing, a trial. There's just not enough there for the defendant has not met their burden.

O'BRIEN: Forgive me. I feel like you're walking me through law 101, so bear with me. The stand-your-ground defense, you don't actually have to prove that you were fearing for your life. You just have to -- you don't necessarily have to be at risk for your life. You have to prove that you were afraid for your life. Is that correct?

UMANSKY: Right. He may have been wrong, but he has to believe that he was facing serious bodily injury or death. His version is he wasn't wrong. His version is Trayvon struck at him and tried to hurt him. So he's going to stick with his version. In the beginning, we weren't sure what his version was and whether or not Trayvon attempted to hit him. He now has said, no, Trayvon was attempting to punch him, struggle. So there is definitely evidence to decide that he is entitled to a defense.

O'BRIEN: But his burden of proof under this stand your ground law is he just has to be fearing for his life. He doesn't have to prove that realistically he should be fearing for his life, he just has to prove that he was fearing for his life.

UMANSKY: Right, exactly. And the prosecutor is going to say that under the circumstances he's the one who instigated the whole thing. The prosecutor is going to say he's the one who confronted Trayvon, came up to Trayvon, not the other way around. Remember, Soledad, George's version is Trayvon approached him and came up to him and said, do you have a problem with me? So we have two versions completely factually different.

O'BRIEN: So quick final question for you. No bond at this point. Are you surprised that he's going to continue to stay in jail, or would you expect that for a little while?

UMANSKY: I do expect that for a little while. That's very common. It's very unusual to get a bond for a crime punishable by life at an initial appearance. Now it's up to the defense attorney to file a bond motion and get that heard before the judge as soon as possible. So it's very possible we will have a bond hearing as early as next week.

O'BRIEN: Right. Zahra Umansky walking us through this case. We appreciate it. Nice to see you, as always.

UMANSKY: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Let's get right to Kate Bolduan. She's filling in for Christine with the headlines.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Soledad. Good morning, everyone.

An all-night armed standoff comes to an end this morning with two suspects found dead. The man and woman faced off with police at a home in Greenland, New Hampshire. Police had come to the home earlier in the night as part of a drug investigation. A shootout broke out, and the police chief was actually killed. Four other officers were injured. The suspects were killed in either a murder/suicide or a double suicide. Gunned down Police Chief Michael Maloney was only days away from retirement. There are only 10 officers in that town.

And Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen apologizes for saying Ann Romney never worked a day in her life. The remark about a stay at home mom of five and grandmother of 16 angered Republicans and Democrats. President Obama weighed in, saying that doesn't reflect what he believes at all, using his wife and mother as examples.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no tougher job than being a mom. And when I think about what Michelle's had to do, when I think about my own mom, a single mother raising me and my sister, that's work.


BOLDUAN: And get this one, the hero mayor deserves a key to his own city this morning. Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker saves the life of a woman trapped in her burning home. Booker says he came home to find his neighbor's house in flames. He raced in, snatched her out of bed, and carried her outside. He tweeted about it later saying, "Thanks to all who are concerned. Just suffering some smoke inhalation. We got the woman out of the house. We are both off to the hospital. I will be OK." Quite a story, though.

And using your money to reward a quote, unquote, "jackass" and score free meals. The scandal at the general services administration seems to only be growing. It all started with the news that the agency in charge of saving taxpayer dollars was partying it up in Vegas at a lavish conference that cost more than $800,000. Well, now new transcripts from an inspector general's report shows or suggests, at least, that officials created a "jackass award" as an excuse to hold ceremonies that included taxpayer funded dinners.

CNN received documents from the House Oversight Committee that also show there was a five-day conference for interns at a resort in Palm Springs reportedly included sweets and a catered awards dinner yet again. Next hour we talk to Roll Call reporter Jonathan Strong who's been investigating this scandal and reveals even more on this spending spree.

And we're not at Hogwarts anymore apparently. J.K. Rowling's new book has been revealed. It will be called "The Casual Vacancy." It's reportedly described as a black comedy for adults. It's Rowling's first book since the Harry Potter series. It will be released September 27th. We'll have to see if there's as much excitement about this series or this book at least.

O'BRIEN: That's a lot of pressure, isn't it?

BOLDUAN: Sure is.

O'BRIEN: You go from being the zillion dollar best seller to, eh. Hopefully, she'll do well. I'd read it.

BOLDUAN: I'm definitely going to read t I'm sure she's got a lot of pressure on her.

O'BRIEN: Kate, thanks. Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, the NFL bounty snitch, as some are calling him, revealed. There's a man who's been outed as the whistleblower on that bounty story, taking lots of heat this morning. We're going to talk to the writer who has outed the guy.

Also, the dollar bill, don't have to pay for coke anymore. Just open your arms and give a hug. I actually love this idea. Hug your vending machine and get a coke. That's our "Get Real."

And if you're about to head to work and don't want to miss the rest of the show, follow our live blog at Here's John's playlist, Joy Division, "Love Will Tear Us Apart." You're watching STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: New developments in that pay for play bounty scandal that rocked the NFL last month. New Orleans coach Joe Vitt is now the new interim head coach. But this former coach is the one that everyone is talking about. He's a former quality control coach. His name is Mike Cerullo. He's being called the snitch who outed the bounty scandal.

Alan Donnes is the author of "Patron Saint -- How the Saints gave New Orleans a Reason to Believe." Nice to see you, thanks for talking with me. We certainly appreciate it.

ALAN DONNES, AUTHOR, "PATRON SAINTS": Thanks for having me. Let's see how this one goes.

O'BRIEN: Are you getting a lot of flak? Do you feel like people are piling on?

DONNES: Actually, there's not. Most of it has been OK. The reception down in New Orleans really, I know a lot of people think that they'd appreciate this. They really don't. I'll go to my grave believing the bounty scandal is not quite what it is and these are really nice guys. I can tell you, after I got off the radio the other day, there was no warm and fuzzy with the people at the Saints practice facility. They don't want this.

O'BRIEN: When you say the bounty scandal is not what it is, what do you mean?

DONNES: I don't want to go into great detail because I think it's something that should be put to rest pretty soon, but I know these guys. I know the guys that are being put out of football for a while by the league. If they don't want Mike Cerullo's name run around and damaged, they don't want anybody to get hurt. It shows that nobody got hurt and no bags of money were exchanged.

O'BRIEN: Walk me through this. As much as you know I love New Orleans, and I root for the Saints all the time. Football is not necessarily my greatest strength. So you name Mike Cerullo as the whistleblower. What was your proof for that? You did it on a show. DONNES: The name had been bounced around a lot. There was a perfect storm of information for me. Until I moved to Los Angeles a few months ago, I lived in Connecticut, which is where he was working a couple of years after leaving the Saints. I also work in many fields, as you know. I'm becoming the president of National Lampoon this week and a lot of other business ventures that I'm in. And someone from completely outside of football, they called me a while back and asked me about him. I didn't even know who he was. I had to look him up and see who he was. For a reason I don't feel like going into anymore, I was given his name and some information about him and that he was the informant.

And I'd like to apologize for my radio interview, for calling Mike Cerullo a snitch. I should know better. He was an informant or a whistleblower.

O'BRIEN: Your apology is you named him wrong versus naming him at all.

DONNES: No, he's the right guy. He is the guy. I believe he's the guy, and I'm here taking my heat. He's going to take some heat as well. But I should have been a little more professional than to call him a snitch. You know, football and sports are supposed to be community building and positives. And unfortunately, this is negative, and what I feel really bad about is that I got carried away. My personal animosity towards this guy made it my opinions and my voice on it a little stronger than it should have been.

O'BRIEN: Why did you have personal animosity on it?

DONNES: I'm a Saints fan, and these are my friends, and I got a little riled up. I wanted to find out who he was. I researched. I made sure that it was him. It is him. Nobody's denying that it's him. And I was a little more aggravated in that interview that I did the other day than I've ever been.

All the interviews I've done about my book "Patron Saints" have been positive. I like being positive. I like making people laugh. Frankly, being this negative and seeing the negative things I said inflamed in the community and online has been rather sickening to me. You guys are the hard news -- yes.

O'BRIEN: I'm sorry for interrupting. I wanted to read the comment from university of Connecticut, which is Cerullo left the Saints in 2010, and he works at U-Conn. It looks like he's up for a job, I think it's at Princeton. They said this. They had no comment really. "Neither Mike Cerullo nor the university will comment on the subject. The matter is based on speculation by the media which does not warrant comment." Do you worry that you've hurt his opportunities, again, your apology is because you called him a snitch versus saying he's not the guy?

DONNES: He is one of the guys, if not the only guy, yes.

O'BRIEN: Why are you mad? I mean, you know it, when I heard the story -- again, I am not the greatest football fan even though I love the idea that everybody in New Orleans dresses up and wears Saints gear on game day. I think it's fantastic. But to me, the whole idea of the bounty system just seems so horrific and so antithetical to what you talk about, community building and the game itself. Why are you not enraged that that bounty system was happening?

DONNES: Because I don't really believe it did as being described.

O'BRIEN: Really?

DONNES: I think -- there's no court of law with the national football league, and that's the way that functions. Roger Goodell made his decisions. The Saints presented their case. And because it's the NFL, you don't get to see what it was. But I'm telling you, I know the guys that are accused, Gregg Williams, Sean Payton -- I work with Sean's foundation. I've been down there. The good they've done in that community can't be quantified. And that this happened is unfortunate. Whatever is being said is being taken this way.

But, look, they're taking phenomenal penalties. For an NFL coach to sit out for a year, for Mickey Loomis, the general manager, one of the greatest men I've known in the field at any time, to be out for eight games, to be humiliated like that, they're suffering. Everyone should move on. It won't happen again. The good, long-term benefits is now there will be clear rules on what bounty systems can be done. If it's going on anywhere else in the NFL, it won't ever again.

FUGELSANG: Alan, you said in the past you actually came out and revealed Mr. Cerullo's name because of rumors former tight end Jeremy Shockey was the whistleblower. Now that you've revealed this, are rumors that Shockey completely gone or are they still out there?

DONNES: I hope their gone. To the best of anyone that I knows knowledge, Jeremy Shockey was not one of the informants. I'm not a friend of Jeremy Shockey's --

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You've said several times this morning that we're not getting the general picture. You know Gregg Williams. I am a football fan. I've heard the tapes. If we're missing something in the story, can you help me understand, when I hear Gregg Williams say 15 times in that audio, hit Frank Gore's head, let's test Kyle Williams' concussion out.

O'BRIEN: Let's play it first and then answer the question on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Number 42, he has no idea what he's in for. When he's on the sidelines, we've got to turn that over, turn their coaches over, turn the spectators over, go get that on the sidelines.


CAIN: So as we hear that tape, you're telling us we're not fully understanding. You know these guys. What about that tape is not communicating the full story?

DONNES: The tape is a perfect example. Everybody's heard that tape, right? You just played it. What's missing there is, if you hit frank gore in the head, you get $5,000 if you hit so and so. Where's the money? Where's the bounty in that speech? Is where's him saying, here's cash motivation. Put the guy out. Where is it?

CAIN: You're right. Except the story is we're told -- and I don't have the video of this -- that supposedly Gregg Williams is rubbing his fingers together as to sign money.

DONNES: Why would he not do it there? There's also other portions of that tape that goes on. It says at the end usually, don't do anything to hurt the team. I wasn't in the room. You weren't in the room. If he was rubbing his fingers together, then that happened. He's out for maybe the rest of his life. Again, he's taking his punishment. Gregg Williams won't do it in the NFL again. I don't think any other coach will either.

O'BRIEN: You've written a great book, "Patron Saints -- How the Saints gave the people of New Orleans a reason to believe."

Still ahead on "starting point," our "Get Real." It doesn't take dollars or coins. It's a vending machine that accepts hugs.

And James Cameron back from the deepest part of the ocean talks about titanic in 3-D. The changes he's had to make to the movie and why people remain fascinated about that ship after all these years.


O'BRIEN: That's how I describe myself, a good hearted woman. That's Waylon Jennings. You can see our entire playlist on line at

Our "Get Real" this morning, I think this is a great idea. Put your dollar Bill away when you go to this vending machine. It's a coke machine that does not take coins. It does not take dollar bills. It is newly launched, and it's a hug me machine. You see that machine? You have to go and hug the machine. It's in Singapore. Look, she's hugging the machine, and here is her coke.

FUGELSANG: The metaphor for our age is astonishing. If you get the high five, do you get the high fructose corn syrup out?


O'BRIEN: That's right. Just give it a squeeze. There's no telling when the hug me coke machine comes to the United States.

CAIN: Is it a strength test? You have to squeeze it to a certain pressure.

O'BRIEN: It's not a strength test, Will Cain. I actually thought it was going to be more furry. I thought, if you're going to hug it, it should be shaped better and furry. FUGELSANG: No money. Coke is giving it away for affection? That's tragic.

O'BRIEN: You just lean in and hug.

FUGELSANG: Wow, whoa.

O'BRIEN: It's weird. Apparently, a big hit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She looks like she's trying very hard. I don't know.

O'BRIEN: She looks like she's breaking into it, not hugging, but trying to crack the front off the machine. Group hug. I like that.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, take a look at this guy. He's a Santorum supporter showed up holding this sign that said convince me at a Mitt Romney event. We're going to talk to him about what it will take to convince him.

And a study that proves us all right. Scientists say that alcohol makes you smarter. I knew it. We're going to explain. Here's my playlist, Hezekiah Walker, "Sold Out." You're watching STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Let's start with headlines. Kate Bolduan is in this morning. It's nice to see you. Good morning.


This morning, the U.N. Security Council will consider how to respond to North Korea's rocket launch that turned into a dud. The rocket fired last night, but broke up moments after launch and landed in the ocean. Despite the embarrassment for North Korea, President Obama still calls it provocative.

And new developments out of Syria this morning. AFP news agency reporting Syrian forces shot and killed a demonstrator as tens of thousands of people marched across the country. Opposition forces calling for peaceful protests today to put a ceasefire to the test. There are reports of scattered skirmishes near the border with Turkey.

And President Obama is making a historic trip to Colombia. His weekend visit will be the longest time a U.S. president has spent in the country. The president is attending the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of leaders of north, central, and south America. He's expected to address the economy, trade, energy, and regional security.

Here's one for you on a Friday. Can alcohol make you smarter or at least get your creative juices flowing? Researchers at the University of Illinois said they'll drink to that.

Their study found men who drank either two pints of beer or two glasses of wine before solving brain teasers were quicker in delivering answers than the guys who answered the question sober.

Important to note here, their level of alcohol consumption was below the legal limit. Obviously, I did a lot of research on this, Soledad, on a Friday.

O'BRIEN: You were knocking back vodka cranberries. What did you find?

BOLDUAN: It's Friday, the 13th, what am I supposed to do? Here's one of the brain teasers real quick. Everyone can join, the fourth word in common here. We have cottage, Swiss, and cake. What's the fourth word they have in common?

O'BRIEN: Cheese.

BOLDUAN: There you go.

O'BRIEN: What do we win?

BOLDUAN: You win a drink.

O'BRIEN: Drinks all around. It's 7:30 in the morning. Already Kate's talking a about cocktails. That's my kind of girl. All right, thanks, Kate. Appreciate it.

Mitt Romney is picking up two -- the back end of two leading social conservative groups, the National Right to Life Group, and the Susan B. Anthony List. Their support could be the first indication that social conservatives are beginning to rally around the former governor.

After Rick Santorum, the first choice for many in that category, dropped out. Not everybody is convinced, though. Chris O'Brien was a Santorum supporter, still is a Santorum supporter, showed up at a Romney campaign rally on Wednesday, carrying this sign, which he's brought in to share with us.

It says "convince me." Chris O'Brien is with us. No relation. Maybe we are related, actually.

We were just discussing that before the break. All O'Briens are related somehow. All O'Briens are related somehow. So my cousin, Chris joins us. In all seriousness, you were standing outside a Mitt Romney rally with a sign that says "convince me."

What exactly did you need to hear to be convinced that your support for Rick Santorum now that he's dropped out needs to go to Mitt Romney?

CHRIS O'BRIEN, SANTORUM SUPPORTER: This was really a reaction to all the negative advertising that's been going on. A lot of Americans, they watch the debate, but they really get influenced by a lot of the ads that for me, all the other show they've watched throughout the time and that formulates your impression of the candidate.

O'BRIEN: So what's your impression of the candidate?

CHRIS O'BRIEN: So rather than giving the negative ads that he's bashed every single candidate that's come along so far.

O'BRIEN: Mitt Romney?

CHRIS O'BRIEN: Mitt Romney has. Even Herman Cain at the worst, and then two weeks later, he'd come on CNN or another show and treat it with good respect.

But we'd like to hear substance on foreign policy and on domestic issues and foreign issues dealing with the housing crisis, economic crisis of the day. Promote a positive image for our president.

For one year from now, it's certainly important for the Republican Party to defeat Barack Obama, but after we defeat Barack Obama, we need to have a very good president for four years.

O'BRIEN: So let me ask you a couple of years. How would you describe yourself, a social conservative, Evangelical conservative?

CHRIS O'BRIEN: No, I wouldn't consider myself that, a social conservative. Rick started there, I think.

CAIN: He isn't even Evangelical. He's Catholic.

CHRIS O'BRIEN: Yes, I'm Catholic as well.

O'BRIEN: Me too. A lot of Catholics. We are related actually.

CHRIS O'BRIEN: We're coming together already. Social conservatives, when they get branded that way, you don't go very far.

When you have a Mike Huckabee or a Rick Santorum that broadens out their base into other issues dealing with education and how churches and nonprofits and charities and schools affect your community all intertwined.

Then you develop a broad basis of support. As the other candidates dropped out, we started to follow Rick Santorum.

CAIN: Chris, I've totally appreciate the necessity for you to be convinced on a substantive level, on an ideas based level, but let me tell you how it is. It's Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama. How are you going to vote?

CHRIS O'BRIEN: Absolutely, I'll go with the Republican nominee. Romney has not won the delegates yet and there's still a very slim chance anybody else can get it. Newt Gingrich is still trucking hard.

CAIN: Are you going with Newt Gingrich in the meantime?

CHRIS O'BRIEN: It's just a few days. I'm ready to take a look at anybody right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Humbly asks for the votes of Santorum supporters.

FUGELSANG: Can I ask a question? Here's the problem a lot of folks have, when I look at Mr. Santorum and Mr. Romney --

O'BRIEN: I was going to say progressive folks, by the way.

FUGELSANG: -- progressive folks and many people in the same community. When you look at these guys, they both want to cut taxes on millionaires more, they both want to deregulate Wall Street more.

They both want to bring back pre-existing conditions for sick people day one of their administrations. But I say to you -- what's the difference? What is the great substantive difference between these two gentlemen?

CHRIS O'BRIEN: I think that's what it is, to try to reach out to folks on a more substantive level. The differences between most of the candidates during this election --

FUGELSANG: What does Romney need to convince you of, Chris?

CHRIS O'BRIEN: I think that he -- I think overall there are small margins between each of the candidates, and they hyper-inflate each one in order to tear down their character.

I think that, Romney early on spoke about a big broad 59- point economic plan. When it comes down to something a person can grasp, I like that particular idea that will affect my child, or tripling the tax credit was one thing that Santorum had. He doesn't have to adopt that, but you know, one of the other ideas perhaps.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Is this more like a protest for his negativity or is this waiting for a point in time where he starts talking more seriously about these issues? Are you going to wait for a certain amount of time?

CHRIS O'BRIEN: Every candidate across the country walks -- deals with negative advertising, and it brings down the voter voice -- the voter count because I think a lot of politicians believe that we're not very well-informed, and we're not very well-informed.

They use their commercials as a way to inform their message and their platform. Newt Gingrich wanted to do that at one point, but got beaten back.

O'BRIEN: Any chance at all that you would just say, or people that you know would just say, listen, I'm not going to vote. I'm not convinced yet so my response will be forget it. I'm not fully in or do you think no matter what, people that are social conservatives will go with the guy representing social conservatives.

CHRIS O'BRIEN: I think we all will come around and coalesce. I think Romney knows he has to reach out to that. I talked to my counterpart on his campaign late last night. She said there is a plan working, and I'm sure they're going to reach out. They're still five months out on the convention. There's still plenty of time.

FUGELSANG: You're pre-convinced?

CHRIS O'BRIEN: I'm hopeful. I'm very hopeful, but the negativity throughout the campaign is --

FUGELSANG: That will go away, right?

CHRIS O'BRIEN: We hope. We hope.

O'BRIEN: Hope springs eternal.

CHRIS O'BRIEN: It's pretty painful with the Rick Santorum campaign right now, but it's still a week and a half. We know how the news cycle changes.

O'BRIEN: Yes, we do. My cousin, Chris O'Brien joining us. Thanks for your time.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, President Obama is defending Mitt Romney's wife and other mothers after a Democratic strategist says Ann Romney never worked a day in her life. We'll have that conversation here this morning and chat about it.

Also, my talk with James Cameron. He talks about how he's gone through each frame of his film "Titanic" to do the new 3D version. Bring you that story. You're watching STARTING POINT. Short break. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: It all started with a controversial comment about Ann Romney from Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen. She's a CNN contributor, been on the show a lot. Here's what she said originally. Listen.


HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids? How do we send them to school? And why do we worry about their future?


O'BRIEN: Let the backlash begin after she said that. Everyone spent a day talking about it including President Obama weighing in. Here's what he said.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: When I think about what Michelle's had to do, when I think about my own mom, a single mother raising me and my sister, that's work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did Hilary Rosen go a little too far last night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

JOSH ROMNEY, SON OF MITT ROMNEY: Really, I mean, she held every job imaginable raising five boys. We were a lot of work for her, I assure you.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think we can all agree. Democrats and Republicans, that raising children is an incredibly difficult job. That is true for all mothers as well as fathers.


O'BRIEN: That sound you hear is the sound of the DNC backpedalling away from Hilary Rosen, really distancing themselves --

HUNTSMAN: I think the RNC has made mugs now saying stay at home moms are working too.

O'BRIEN: Which kind of misses the whole point of what she was saying, she was connecting an economic message to working moms and as she said in her apology, which we should play. Let's play her apology from "SITUATION ROOM" last night.


ROSEN: I apologize. Working moms, stay at home moms, they're both extremely hard jobs. I know. I've shared them both and I'm sorry if that offended you.


FUGELSANG: I flipped on Hilary Rosen. Yesterday --

O'BRIEN: Yes, you were mad.

FUGELSANG: I was very mad at her because what she said was completely stupid. But you know what, like most Americans, I only heard the one sound bite.

Once I heard the entire context of what she said, I completely defend the substance of her statements because she was not in any way attacking Ann Romney for being a stay at home mom or, in this case, a stay at five homes mom.

She was going after Governor Mitt Romney because he was the one who said he went to his wife as an economic consultant on women's economic issues. In that sense, Hilary Rosen, was spot on saying that's not realistic.

And it's disrespectful to the millions of non-millionaire stay at home moms who are struggling financially whereas Ann Romney hasn't. It was not an attack on Ann Romney. It was a disgusting, stupid choice of words, but the substance of what she said is completely valid.

CAIN: So, it's interesting now that John is defending a point of view that basically narrows down the qualified people to speak on economic issues to a very small group --

If you play this game and you want to vulcanize United States and you were dividing pander on age, class, and race. Let's not the war on seniors, if you want to create these false wars, you will never going to have internal firing because you just can't divide us that much.

FUGELSANG: I came out yesterday and said the Democratic name of the war on women is completely stupid because it is. It's going to backfire on them big time. I'm not a Democrat, but I will say if they change the language to a war on women's reproductive independence, they'd be a lot more honest. Please, Abby.

HUNTSMAN: I actually think this isn't going to be that big of an issue come election day. I don't think you will even remember coming Election Day. I think we have real wars going on.

We have $15 trillion in debt. We have a broken tax code. I think we need to get back to these issues. I think I agree with you, Will. This is when it really divides our country at a time we don't need to be divided.

CAIN: Absolutely.

HUNTSMAN: That being said, Soledad, we were talking about women at home, whether they choose to be or not. I think it was a wrong choice of words, but there are a lot of women --

O'BRIEN: Which she apologized for. Everyone should move on at this point, and I would agree with you. Get to the real substance, which is what she and Bay Buchanan said last night on Anderson's show. Like got it, it was ill put now let's move on and talk about --

FUGELSANG: And the Catholic League's attacks on Ms. Rosen today for being a lesbian mom who adopted her kids are deliberately disgusting.

O'BRIEN: Thank you for bringing up a really complicated issue that requires about 15 more minutes of conversation before I go to commercial break. We're going to talk about that too.

Still ahead, wait until you hear Jack and Rose now. We're going to talk about James Cameron and how he took "Titanic" to another level. It's in stunning 3D. You're watching STARTING POINT. Short break. We're back.


O'BRIEN: It is the most famous ship in film and now after 15 years from its original release, "Titanic" is back for a second voyage in 3D this time.

James Cameron won the Academy Award for best director for the film and pioneered the new 3D version as well and made some changes too. He joins us this morning to talk about that. It's nice to see you. Why did you want to have the "Titanic" in 3D?

JAMES CAMERON, DIRECTOR, "TITANIC": Well, you know, as a director you never get that sort of second bite at the apple to bring a movie back to theatres. It sort of plays in theatres initially and then it goes to video and it exists in that video purgatory for the rest of its life.

But the 3D was a way to bring it back to a new generation that had never seen it in a movie theatre. I just love that experience. I love sitting in a big dark room with a giant silver screen and a whole bunch of people I don't know reacting to something. Laughing or crying or whatever it is.

O'BRIEN: It would seem like these big wide ranging landscape type shots would be perfect for 3D.

CAMERON: Yes, and they are of course. And then I think that's what everybody would expect. What's counterintuitive is the smaller more intimate moments benefit more from the 3D.

O'BRIEN: How come? I'm surprised.

CAMERON: Well, it's strange. This is the reaction that we're getting from people coming out of the movie. I felt like I was right there. I felt like I was right there on the ship in the corridors as it's flooding or with Jack and Rose.

I felt more emotionally connected to them, which is interesting. I think what's happening is the brain is being tricked at an unconscious level to think that something is really happening.

O'BRIEN: You're pulled in and also literally pulled into the story more as well. It was shot in 2D originally. So how do you move from 2D to 3D? I thought you'd have to shoot it in 3D to have a film in 3D.

CAMERON: Look, if you're making a movie today, the best thing to do is shoot it in 3D and not try to shoot it in 2D and then convert it. But a film like "Titanic" obviously shot in 2D, we have zero depth information from that moment of photography so we have to create it all.

So it's all done by eye. You know, you think that there's maybe some kind of magic wand computer program you just put 2D on one side and it's not possible.

We actually had 300 computer artists sitting at screens for over a year outlining every object, every hair on Kate's head, you know, to create separate plains of depth.

O'BRIEN: I want to play a little clip so people can see it for themselves.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't see what all of the fuss is about. It doesn't look any bigger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's over 100 feet longer. It's far more luxurious.


O'BRIEN: Does it make the story telling better? I mean, you and I have talked about 3D before. A lot of it you said to me was at the end of the day 3D can't make a movie that's not a great story a better story.

CAMERON: You know, the substance has to be there. To me 3D just adds to all of the other tricks of the trade. Music, color, production, design, it's really just another color to paint with.

It can be abused and we've seen abuses of it. I think when it is used subtly in a way to just sort of draw you unconsciously into the movie, it actually is quite powerful.

O'BRIEN: You have said that you're not a perfectionist, you're a rightist. You'll do it until you get it right. Was it a tough project? Was it like cracking the whip with 300 artists working on this?

CAMERON: The conversion is all subjective. How much depth is too much depth?

O'BRIEN: To get it to match.

CAMERON: Match from shot to shot and all of the different artists. Sometimes it was like herding cats. Everyone had their own ideas of what this should be. But it turned out to be a great collaboration with the company. It was called stereo D that did the conversion. We wound up having a good partnership on it.

O'BRIEN: Why do you think people are obsessed with the "Titanic"? We're at a time when people are now on ships heading out to the site.

Clearly, you've been involved in going way down to take a closer look. People dress up in period costume. Over 100 years literally people have been talking about the "Titanic." It hasn't really dissipated.

CAMERON: I don't think it will. It's such a great moral parable. You know, the arrogance of these guys that sailed the biggest ship in history into a known ice field feeling they were too big to fail, too big to sink.

And the disaster that ensued and it's the human stories and fathers that said good-bye to their children and said I'll see you later in New York. You get on this boat. I'll get on the next one.

There was no next boat and there have been so many horrific disasters. Many, many more deaths on "Titanic," but somehow that story still touches us after all these years.

O'BRIEN: Talk to me about your dive, which honestly sounds both fabulous and insane because you were by yourself.

CAMERON: To the challenger deep, yes, just recently, a couple weeks ago. That was the end of a seven-year project. The culmination of designing and building the vehicle to really kind of demonstrate to the science community that the technology now exists to go and open up this frontier.

If you think there's only one last unexplored frontier on planet earth and it's those extreme depths in the ocean way down there. I went right down to 36,000 feet. If we can go here, we can go to those places that haven't been explored.

O'BRIEN: Explorations amazing. James Cameron, it's nice to have you. I'm looking forward to seeing the film. My kids will love it. They were too little the first time around.

CAMERON: Yes, right. They are the right age now.

O'BRIEN: Yes, they are. Thank you, nice to see you. Appreciate it.

CAMERON: Nice to see you too.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.