Return to Transcripts main page


Secret Service Embarrassed by Prostitution Scandal in Columbia; Terror Group Attacks Capital in Afghanistan; Hologram Used to Depict Tupac Performing at Concert; Weekend Storm Pounds Midwest; Five Killed In String Of Tornadoes; The Life Of A Storm Chaser; Pakistan Prison Break; Kim Jong Un's First Televised Address; Four Feared Dead In Yacht Wreck; Honoring Virginia Tech Victims; Cosby On Trayvon Martin Shooting; Brutal Heat At Boston Marathon; Women And Lost Jobs; School Alternative

Aired April 16, 2012 - 07:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, that's off of Abby's playlist, Good Charlotte, "The Anthem." Welcome everybody. Let me introduce you first and foremost to our panelist this morning. John Fugelsang is back. He's a political comedian. Nice to have you. How is the baby?

JOHN FUGELSANG, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The baby is fantastic. I was performing in Madison, Wisconsin, so I got a full night's sleep.

O'BRIEN: It's all great because I wasn't anywhere near the baby. Abby Huntsman is with us, political commentator. Wonderful to see you. Good weekend, I hope.


O'BRIEN: Yes, yes. Will Cain, you were on TV working this weekend. Still hasn't shaved.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I didn't have a chance. Worked all weekend.

O'BRIEN: You lie. We're not going to pretend to feel sorry for you.

This morning, our STARTING POINT, towns in the plains of the Midwest adding up the damage from a swarm of tornados that happened over the weekend. Reports of more than 130 twisters that touched down over four states, many of those tornadoes happening in Kansas, the community that may have been the hardest hit is in Woodward, Oklahoma, where five people were killed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was a train coming down the tracks over there and I looked out and I see the funnel and I started running through the house creaming "Marcia! Marcia!" I mean loud, I was scared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It gives me a whole new respect for tornadoes how they can in an instant just destroy everything that everyone knew.


O'BRIEN: CNN's Rob Marciano is live for news Woodward, Oklahoma, this morning. Rob, good morning to you. You know, you listen to those folks talking and almost sounds like they didn't get any or very much warning.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, this was the third pulse to come through. Its first two did a little bit of damage, knocked out power and that's what we fear in an outbreak, often more than one wave, first wave knocks out power, second wave comes through, you don't have as much communication.

The sirens here actually are powered by electricity with no battery backup. There were parts of town that did not get siren warning, but most folks were in their homes at the time because it happened at night. Still with that lack of communication, when you look at some of the damage here, this is one of many neighborhoods and streets that really just got creamed. A Bread delivery truck flipped over, this home completely destroyed, one of 80 homes destroyed, many more than that almost unlivable b 13 businesses.

Luckily this is a narrow swathe through this town no stranger to tornadoes b a quarter mile wide but winds of at least 140 miles an hour so a devastating tornado here and listening to some of the survival stories and seeing some of the damage it's amazing this is happening in the middle of the night there weren't more fatalities. Sadly five fatalities and at least 29 injuries.

We chased several of the cells that came through the town earlier today into northern parts of the state where it dropped more tornadoes and crossed into Kansas. So again the greatest fear here was having the power knocked out and having another round come through the night.

What's unusual about this situation is once the super-cells come through during the day we typically think once the last wave comes through it's usually a straight line squall line when you don't get the super-cell thunderstorms that create these tornadoes, but this time we did, and that may have cost some folks a little bit, caught them off guard.

Rob, looking at the pictures it's just incredible what people are able to capture as the storms go through. My goodness, that is just absolutely, look at that, that's a shot I haven't seen I have covered a lot of tornadoes in my day. I got to tell you tornado season, why is it so strong? I think in March there were more than 200 tornadoes. If you look back over the last 20 years the average a third of that. What's going on?

MARCIANO: Last year we had an incredibly active record setting year and this year off to a fast start with unfortunately more fatalities than average, as far as what's going on. We've got extreme weather with extreme setup. Think about a warming climate. You can't pin on that just at least on tornadoes because there's much more involved. You need winds and moisture to come in a certain way and you need certain dynamics. But what we have seen that's unusual that I'd like to point out, tornadoes are coming a little bit earlier in the season and farther north, more than unusual.

O'BRIEN: You're not joking. Rob Marciano checking in with us. As the sun rises I'm sure that scene behind will be even more devastating than it looks half dark out there. Thanks, Rob.

Other stories to get to, Zoraida Sambolin has other headlines. Good morning, Z.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you.

Well, he's accused of killing 77 people including children in a shooting and bombing rampage that devastated the country of Norway last summer, and today his trial begins. Anders Breivik has admitted to the rampage but he's not pleading not guilty. Breivik says the terror attack was self-defense to quote, "save Norway from being taken over by multicultural forces." Authorities describe him as a right- wing Christian extremist. In a court appearance he gave what appeared to be a fascist salute.

Police in Baltimore say a suspect in a St. Patrick's day beating was turned in. The attack in downtown Baltimore was captured on tape and the video went viral. Social media posts over the past week linked the suspect, 20-year-old Aaron Parsons, to that brutal attack. Police are still searching for three other suspects from that video which shows a crowd of onlookers laughing as a victim is punched in the face, robbed, and stripped naked.

And this afternoon lawmakers will try to get to the bottom of the spending scandal at the Government Services Administration. The house overnight committee begins a hearing to find out how the agency can justify spending more than $800,000 on a lavish Las Vegas convention in 2010. Video surfaced of GSA employees mocking President Obama at the event and staging a fake red carpet ceremony. GSA administrator Martha Johnson resigned two weeks ago. She is scheduled to testify.

And coming up in our next hour we'll be joined by Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah. He is a member of the House Oversight Committee investigating the GSA.

And federal prosecutors making another pitch to put former baseball great Roger Clemens behind bars. Jury selection begins today in Clemens retrial for allegedly lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs. It comes nine months after a judge declared a mistrial when the prosecution showed jurors a video that contains inadmissible evidence.

And on Wall Street this morning stocks are set for a slightly higher open after last week's sell-off when stocks posted their worst losses of the year. Lingering concerns about Europe's debt crisis could be an issue today as well as retail sales, which are expected to show a slowdown in March because high gas prices are hitting spending in other areas. Wall Street will also be watching out for earnings from Citigroup in about an hour. And it's a four-peat for "The Hunger Games." The young adult hit is still ruling at the box office. It's been number one for four weeks straight now. No film has done that since "Avatar." "The Hunger Games" made another $21.5 million over the weekend. That is followed by "The Three Stooges," which earned $17.1 million, and "The Cabin in the Woods" with $14.8 million.

And Hillary Clinton shaking it with her staff in Colombia. Clinton is in Columbia for the sixth Summit of the Americas, and she seems to be enjoying a bit of a break there, letting her hair down. Clinton partied at Club Havana, a Cuban nightclub in Cartagena. Website trip adviser says it's the number one night life spot in the city. So at least she went to the right place, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Clearly, clearly. She would know where the hot spot is.


O'BRIEN: Zoraida, thanks.

SAMBOLIN: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: This morning, President Obama is demanding a thorough and rigorous investigation into allegations of misconduct by Secret Service agents, some who are accused of soliciting prostitutes in Colombia.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then of course I'll be angry. We're here on behalf of our people, and that means that we conduct ourselves with the utmost dignity and probity, and obviously what's been reported doesn't match up with standards.


O'BRIEN: And 11 agents and officers are accused of bringing prostitutes to their hotel in Cartagena two days before the president landed for a summit there. All of those agents are now on administrative leave. This morning we talked to Dan Emmett, a former Secret Service agent. He also wrote a book called "Within Arm's Reach." Thank you for being with us.


O'BRIEN: Good morning to you. Can you start by assessing the actual risk here? Would these Secret Service agents have valuable information about the trip? Would they be working with the president in any way, shape or form?

EMMETT: The Presidential advance team that goes overseas is literally a cast of hundreds. You have the people who are going to be doing the various sites, the motorcade routes and so on. Most of these people are not in direct access to the president. Those would be the agents surrounding him who are members of the presidential protective division. From what I've read and from what I understand these particular individuals were not or would not be in close proximity to the president.

O'BRIEN: How about in terms of information? I ask because of course there is a question about could they be blackmail-able? Was there information that having a scandal around them could you leverage down the road?

EMMETT: In the world of espionage and foreign intel services, anything is possible. However, I just don't see it in this case. These particular individuals, I don't believe they would be targeted by foreign intel. They just simply don't have the information that would be valuable to one of those services to go to this extent.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is Abby Huntsman here. Lot of people have their question on their mind, how common is this? You start wondering how many times has this happened on advanced trips like this? How far do you think they'll go in the investigation on prior trips like this?

O'BRIEN: That's a good question. But you have to keep in mind that the president since the beginning of the presidential protective division in 1902 has been on hundreds and hundreds of overseas trip. This is the first time anything like this has come up. So I think one would have to draw from that the conclusion this is a very isolated type of incident if indeed it did occur.

And let's remember, these are allegations up until this point. These individuals were sent home, and rightly so, so that a full investigation could be conducted. But at this point all you have really are some claims made by a Colombian national from what I've read, that's how this al started.

So let's see how it shakes out. If indeed it comes to pass these people did what they're accused of doing, what you're going to see is they're certainly guilty of horrible judgment, and bad personal conduct, behaving badly, if you will. Prostitution as we all know is legal in Colombia, although not acceptable by Secret Service standards. But in that, no laws have been broken. This is a conduct issue at this point.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Darrell Issa is probably going to be looking into this. He starts with the blackmail question I asked you but goes on to talk about he doesn't think this is an isolated incident. Listen.


REP. DARRELL ISSA, (R), CALIFORNIA: So when you look at this, you realize if you can have this kind of breakdown, one that could lead to blackmail and so on, then we've got to ask where are the systems in place to prevent this in the future? The reason that the investigation will not be about the 11 to 20 or more involved, it will be about how did this happen and how often has this happened before. Things like this don't happen once, if they didn't happen before. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: Mr. Emmett, this is Will Cain. To follow up on Abby's point, it sounds like Congressman Issa is not as confident as you are this is an isolated experience. We hear about the term "wheels up, rings off," that was tossed around the agency, is there any culture of this activity being the norm?

EMMETT: Well, with due respect to the congressman, I would say this is not the norm. The Secret Service is comprised of thousands and thousands of dedicated people committed to keeping the financial infrastructure of this country safe as well as our President Obama leaders. And if what's alleged to have happen or alleged to have happened did happen, you're talking 10 or 11 people out of an agency of thousands. And I believe it would be an isolated incident. In my 20-year career this was certainly not the norm and I think this is certainly out of the ordinary.

O'BRIEN: Dan Emmett, nice to see you sir, thanks for your insight. Appreciate it.

EMMETT: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, he was killed 16 years ago, but this weekend Snoop Dogg performed with Tupac. It's our "Get Real" this morning. They used holograms to make Tupac come back to life. It was amazing.

Also attacks in Afghanistan, the worst since the U.S. was targeted last year. Is this proof the U.S. should stay put in the country after all?

And we leave with you with Gary's playlist, Level 42, "Something about You." We'll be back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: It's the most widespread attack in Afghanistan's capital since the assault on the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters last September. This morning the Haqqani Network is believed to be behind it. Government buildings in Kabul and three other cities in the east were hit. Some people say the whole thing was a failure, though.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Taliban declared this act as a start of their spring offensive. If this is it we were underwhelmed. And other than this being a high profile showing of show arms and RPGs, I would declare it a failure for them.


O'BRIEN: Gary Berntsen is a former CIA field commander who headed the CIA's bin Laden unit in Afghanistan. It's nice to see you, Gary. Thanks for talking with us again. Give us a sense of the rank of this attack in terms of the danger and also in terms about what it revealed about the insurgents who tried to pull it off.

GARY BERNTSEN, FORMER CIA FIELD COMMANDER: The insurgents continue to try to do high profile attacks to get in the media. They are not threatening U.S. facilities in the sense that they're going to overwhelm any of these facilities. These are one-way missions. These guys go and do at tacks on the front gates or attack facades of their facilities and they wind up losing their lives. In this case it was the Afghan security forces stepping up and are meeting the challenge in the capital.

O'BRIEN: I'll talk about that in a moment. Who is taking credit? The Taliban at first said they were taking credit, then analysts said it was the Haqqani Network. Explain the connection or lack of connection between the Taliban and Haqqani Network.

BERNTSEN: There are over 20 militant groups that operate out of Pakistan. There's, Lakshar-e-Taiba, the Haqqani Network. The Haqqani Network is probably the most dangerous of the organizations and has been the group doing most of the attacks in the capital. So I would say it's probably a Haqqani attack. It's in RC East, that means regional command east, as you showed the map before there are attacks in Nangahar, Logar. So this looks like the Haqqani Network. They come across the border from the federal administered tribal areas right across the coast. So I say the Haqqani Network. And the military spokesman said he was underwhelmed. I'm underwhelmed also. What's dangerous is that they've killed over 1,200 Afghan officials over the last year, and that puts the Afghans under a bit of pressure.

O'BRIEN: You talked about how the Afghan troops were able to counter the attacks without assistance from the U.S. forces or NATO forces. I want to play what General John Allen had to say -- actually I'll read it to you. "I'm enormously proud of how quickly Afghan security forces responded to today's attacks in Kabul. They were on the scene immediately, well-led, well-coordinated. I consider it a testament to their skill and professionalism of how far they've come that they haven't yet asked for that support."

So this then would be read as great news, I guess, if you're trying to figure out a way to wean the Afghan forces off of needing NATO and U.S. force's help in any skirmish like this.

BERNTSEN: It's a positive sign. The Afghan forces across the board are not ready for all of this, but there are Afghan commandos that have come out of the various Afghan corps. There's five battalions who have been highly trained by U.S. special operation forces that are sort of up to the standard and maybe not the standard of U.S. rangers but getting close. And they're meeting the challenge in the places where we need them to do this, and this is a particular case. So some improvement. But this is a heavy lift. We have a long way to go to get 350,000 in the army to defend themselves.

FUGELSANG: What is Haqqani's agenda here? Are they trying to overthrow their Karzai government or desperate plea for a place at the table within the Karzai regime?

BERNTSEN: I think Haqqani was one of the six groups that fought the Soviets years ago. He would then a minister of tribal affairs off of the coast. He would see himself as a major player. He wants his son who is running that organization, and they're using sheer violence against the Afghan government because they want to bring Karzai down. They don't have the strength to do that, but that's what they want.

O'BRIEN: John McCain said this over the weekend, listen.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: Every time the president announced another withdrawal his military commander said it increases the risk. That's what we're seeing here.


O'BRIEN: Do you agree with him on that, that this attack is indicative of increased risk?

BERNTSEN: I think every time there's discussion of withdrawal this gives additional confidence to the Taliban and those groups. What we need to recognize is it's not just the number of Americans on the ground that will determine the future of Afghanistan. It's the authority in which they operate. We could have a much smaller footprint in Afghanistan, but so long as they have the correct rules of engagement that allow them to fight a smaller force in the United States can do well there.

But part of the problem is in America we like to have a public discussion of all of this and this provides a little bit of nurture and encouragement to the Taliban, which is not helpful.

O'BRIEN: Gary Berntsen, thank you for being with us.

BERNTSEN: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Bill Cosby speaking out about the Trayvon Martin shooting. He says it doesn't matter if George Zimmerman was profiling.

Also, Snoop Dogg performs on stage with rap legend Tupac, who has been dead for 16 years. It's a hologram. It's in today's "Get Real." Here's Will Cain's playlist. You're watching STARTING POINT. We'll take a short break and be back in a moment.



O'BRIEN: You don't need to hear a word to know that's Bob Dylan.

FUGELSANG: He turns 71 next month.

O'BRIEN: I'm worried for him.

FUGELSANG: That's what he does, tours. O'BRIEN: Have you seen this, some of the big e names in music performed at Cocella Music Festival in California, Radiohead, the Black Keys, many others. One person would you never expect would be there would be Tupac Shakur. The hip-hop legend literally appeared on stage performing his greatest hits thanks to hologram technology. Look at this.




O'BRIEN: That's Tupac. Over the weekend, this image reportedly cost $10 million. Last night's concertgoers went crazy when it hit the stage. He was killed, shot and killed back in 1996. The technology has been used before. CNN we used it during the 2008 election. Mariah Carey used it to perform five simultaneous concerts across Europe last year. I'm just dying to know how they did it, because when we did it in the studio the person needed to be alive and you'd put sensors on them and do the interview.

HUNTSMAN: A lot of people think it was a fake death so maybe this was a coming back.

FUGELSANG: Are you breaking news, Abby?


O'BRIEN: Here first on STARTING POINT, Tupac is alive.

FUGELSANG: Dr. Dre was performing, I thought he was only performing by hologram now. But you're going to see Elvis again, a Beatles reunion. I think Slash should have gotten Axl at the Hall of Fame doing this last week. This technology is out of the box.

O'BRIEN: The quality is amazing. Even four years ago when we had it here it was very shaky.

FUGELSANG: It was help me Kenobi, right?


CAIN: I think there's a star in Japan, she'd make all of us feel very insecure.

O'BRIEN: Fabulous, you could do a week vacation, hologram you in.

HUNTSMAN: They can make a, you know.

O'BRIEN: Exactly.

FUGELSANG: You'll see Tupac do a duet with Biggie Smalls. It's going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think -- getting a lot of money off that I think.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Who's making the money off TUPAC? Who is getting the rights money on that?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: I hope his family. We'll look into that, Will Cain, because Will Cain wants to know.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT war of words between Mitt Romney and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner as it gets kind of vicious over this question, is there a war on women?

Plus they risked their lives trying to get as close to tornadoes as possible. This morning, we're going to talk to a storm chaser who's been tracking these storms in the Midwest, he's going to join us next.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: The Midwest is getting slammed again with extreme weather, reports of more than 130 tornadoes across the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.

Among the hardest hit was a small town of Woodward, Oklahoma, where five people were killed. You're looking at pictures there. That number, five, includes three children.

And this stunning videotape was taken by Tony Laubach who spent the weekend following these violent twisters through the Midwest. He joins us from Denver this morning.

Tony, thanks for being with us. We certainly appreciate it. How long have you been tracking this particular set of storms?

TONY LAUBACH, STORM CHASER: I actually left Denver last Sunday on Easter and was chasing pretty much for the last six days leading up to the outbreak because I've been out most of the week up until then.

O'BRIEN: So give me a sense of how you do it. You just get in your car. You fill your car up with gear and then you start just chasing bad weather? What do you bring?

LAUBACH: I bring all sorts of stuff with me. I've got the latest in satellites and mobile cell phone radar and internet so I've got constant data streaming into the car. I also load myself with food and drinks for the week.

Stopping sometimes is a little hard to do. Camera equipment, the latest video and ability to get video back to people real quick from the field no matter where I'm at.

O'BRIEN: I'm looking at this amazing shot. It looks like a building is just being destroyed as you shoot it. It says it's near Ingersoll, Oklahoma. Can you tell me about that?

LAUBACH: That was a tornado down in Oklahoma. Fortunately, it moved into some areas where there were some outbuildings. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in that tornado, but most of these tornadoes were over rural country. So fortunately most of them didn't do as much damage until later that day.

O'BRIEN: Not in Woodward, Oklahoma, of course, though. Tell me a little bit about Woodward. You were there earlier in the week. Five people were killed in that town. What can you tell me about Woodward?

LAUBACH: Woodward unfortunately was hit twice this week. Back on Monday, it got hit with some huge hail and couple of small tornados south of town and unfortunately, they weren't spared the wrath of this outbreak even more so significantly this time with almost 90 structures being destroyed in the town.

It's very unfortunate when something like this happens, particularly at night and losing five people in town is certainly a tragic thing for the people that live there.

O'BRIEN: Some of these pictures that we're seeing that all come from you are multiple funnel clouds, seem to all be hitting at the same time. How long have you been a storm chaser? How unusual has this season been?

LAUBACH: This season actually started off pretty slow compared to what we saw last year and then in March it ramped up incredibly. Unfortunately, if we are trying to compare seasons from last year you would think we're in for another very, very busy spring.

And we can only hope that we don't see the numbers that we did last year, but so far, it's been very active going through March and start of April.

O'BRIEN: What do you do for a day job?

LAUBACH: Believe it or not I drive pizzas, and I produce for local news station in Denver, but yes, I drive pizzas for a little pizza place up here in Denver. And they allow me the spring and summer off to come up here and chase tornadoes.

O'BRIEN: All right, so that gives you a little flexibility so you can take some time and go take some pretty amazing pictures. We've been looking at your pictures while you've been talking and they're just incredible.

I'm always so happy when I get to talk to the storm chasers because it means it ended well for them that they are fine. Tony Laubach, thanks for sharing your pictures with us and some of your stories too. We appreciate it. And it's good to see you're healthy and fine.

LAUBACH: My pleasure, thanks.

O'BRIEN: You bet. Let's get right to Zoraida. She's has a look at some of the headlines this morning. Hi, Z.


Authorities in Pakistan are searching for nearly 400 inmates who escaped from a prison early yesterday morning. They were freed by hundreds of Taliban militants who stormed that facility. Pakistan's local information minister says 21 high-profile militants were among those who got away.

A rare sight of North Korea, leader Kim Jong-Un making his first televised speech since taking over the country. He spoke to troops in Pyongyang to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, North Korea's founder. He touched on a wide range of issues. Touting his nation's military might and vowing to never let his people starve.

Four people now feared dead in a yacht race accident. The Coast Guard suspending its search last night. The seven men and one woman range in age from their 20s to 40s. They were hurled into the waters off the Fairland Islands that's near San Francisco on Saturday when their boat hit 12-foot waves. Apart from the four that are missing, one person was found dead, three others survived.

The victims of the Virginia Tech massacre will be honored today on the fifth year anniversary of that gruesome shooting spree. A gunman took the lives of 32 students and faculty at the school on April 16th, 2007. Virginia Tech has not held classes on this date since the massacre, but that is changing this morning. All classes are in session in an attempt to reflect on the victim's lives.

Bill Cosby weighing in on the Trayvon Martin shooting, in an interview on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," Cosby says the anger over the Florida teenager's death is misplaced. He says the real issue isn't whether George Zimmerman profiled Martin, but that Zimmerman had a gun.


BILL COSBY, COMEDIAN: What is solved by saying he's a racist? That's why he shot the boy. What solves that? This, and what is he doing with it? And who taught him and told him how to behave with this because it doesn't make any difference if he's racist or not racist?


SAMBOLIN: You probably remember gun violence is a very personal issue for Cosby. His son was shot and killed in 1997. George Zimmerman is facing charges of second-degree murder.

Organizers of this morning's Boston marathon are a little concerned about abnormally high temperatures. These are live pictures now as racers get ready from affiliate WHDH. Forecasters say it could be close to 90 degrees during that event. The average temperature in Boston this time of year is in the high 40s. Race organizers are offering runners a chance to bow out and compete next year instead. Those who decide to brave the heat are being told to take it slow and take frequent breaks there.

O'BRIEN: Which, of course, is completely contradictory if you're trying to win a marathon.

SAMBOLIN: I know, but you know, I guess the times will be a little bit off, but folks will be safe, right?

O'BRIEN: That's hot. That's terrible running weather. I mean, beautiful day but that's terrible running weather. I used to cover that a lot as I worked in a producer in Boston. We brought in the trucks in front of the runners.

SAMBOLIN: I've never run one, have you?

O'BRIEN: No, gosh, I was in the back of a truck. Did I not make that clear? Eating, usually snacking, watching some dedicated runners give of themselves to run 26 miles. All right, Zoraida, thanks.

SAMBOLIN: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, ridiculous, misleading, those are the very words that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is using to slam Governor Mitt Romney.

Coming up, we'll tell you why Geithner is blasting the GOP candidate for his claims about female unemployment. We'll crunch those numbers for you.

And there's a new school for gay teenagers who have been driven out of public school by bullying and harassment. We're going to talk to one of the founders straight ahead. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. A new front is opening up in the war on women, if in fact there is one. Mitt Romney has been making this claim, listen.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The 800,000 plus jobs that have been lost during the Obama administration, do you know what percentage lost by women, 92 percent, 92 percent of the jobs lost in the president's term have been lost by women.


O'BRIEN: Wow, 92 percent. That would be a shocking number if it were true, which it really isn't exactly overall, 740,000 men and women lost jobs during January of 2009 and March of this year, women accounted for 683,000 of those jobs. That's how they get to that 92.3 figure, but the math includes hundreds of thousands of jobs that were lost in the three weeks before President Obama took office, which tilts the picture quite a little bit.

Also overall men lost more jobs in the recession than women did. Most of those losses happened before President Obama took office. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was battling back on Governor Romney's numbers. Listen.


TIMOTHY GEITHNER, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: The early job losses were felt mostly by men because they happen in construction and manufacturing across the economy and as the crisis intensified over the course of '08 and signal the government started to feel the pressure. They had to cut back on teachers. A lot of women are teachers. So you saw that later effects as the crisis spread to women, too.


O'BRIEN: So, not exactly a shocker because I think that the overriding picture is what will women do in this election and that's why we've seen this war on women if you will.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, DAUGHTER OF JON HUNTSMAN: Obviously as a woman, I guess, you know, well, there only two of us here, but what I find unfortunate is that the language is so divisive on both sides. Last night, Ann Romney had a fundraiser in Florida said it was a birthday present to me that Hilary Rosen said, you know, the comments about me being a state-at-home mom.

I just loved it. It seems like a game like it's a back and forth game. I thought her response would have been more like, you know what? It was hurtful that was said, I'm going to continue standing up for stay-at-home moms.

O'BRIEN: It made it sound as if it was all about strategy and not about what a great opportunity you've talk about my family. It was more like, wow, I was able to score political points on an issue that could help my husband win.


CAIN: And that's what it is. I want to say this. That statistic, Soledad, is true.

O'BRIEN: Depending how you the crunch the numbers.

CAIN: Hold on. That statement is true. Now you said a couple hundred thousand the first three weeks of January of 2009. Though it's only tens of thousands and it does change numbers a little bit, but 92 percent of job losses since Obama took office are women --

O'BRIEN: No, I'm going to stop you there and then you can finish, the bulk of them were lost when George Bush was president, right? So if --

CAIN: It is a true statement, but largely useless statement. So what it has done has divided numbers at an arbitrary starting point.

O'BRIEN: Makes it not true. Arbitrary makes math not true.

CAIN: Abby's right. It's turned into a gaeme. It is tit for tat. You create a false war on women. I'll give you a statistic as largely you put true and we'll have this little fake game. We just don't indulge in these fake games. It will be fun.

O'BRIEN: That seems like the political strategy is these games, right?

HUNTSMAN: The American people are going to coalesce around the candidate that can really unite this country and form a narrative that brings people together and right now, neither side is doing a good job of bringing the country together.

JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: Well, again, even Chris Wallace said that the numbers were bunk. The job losses we were having under George W. Bush. I know we hate to say the "B" word, Will, but we were losing 750,000 jobs a month.

And these job losses are based on Bush's 2009 budget before the all hated stimulus went into effect. Now I don't like seeing Timothy Geithner and Mitt Romney fight about anything.

These guys have so much in common with their love of defending, protecting Wall Street criminals, but the fact is, you're right. It is rhetorical. It is going to escalate.

I think again, the Democratic Party makes mistake with the war on the women mean because I think it will backfire on them. We've seen that happen in the past week.

O'BRIEN: Now you know if the war on women means exist. It's just a PR fix.

FUGELSANG: I mean, transvaginal ultrasounds --

O'BRIEN: Wow, did you just throw out the word on my morning show?

FUGELSANG: Well, I'm sorry but they're doing it to women. It's relevant. It's political and it's moral to bring it up. When you got Governor Scott Walker repealing the equal pay for women act on Good Friday with minimum media coverage women in Wisconsin can't find out if they're being paid less than men for the same jobs. The Democrats have a point, but as long as they keep using a violent expression like war on women. They can't complain --

O'BRIEN: I think war on women is kind of overstating it. I don't think --

FUGELSANG: It's a skirmish on women.

HUNTSMAN: I think they're throwing a lot of people off and it's really, you know, unfortunate.

CAIN: Yes, it's going to turn off a lot of conservative women to Democrats on a relative plain.

O'BRIEN: We'll see. We'll see. I think that's what the gamble is, right? We will see what it does to women voters.

All right, we got to take a break. I'm being yelled at by Morale saying move on people.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, a new high school opens for gay teenagers who dropped out of public school because of bullying. Up next, we're going to talk to the man who helped found the school and why he says it's crucial for teenagers.

Also, "Boyz To Men" going to join us in our hour.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I first came out, I couldn't even walk down the hallway without kids making remarks at me. I ended up having -- and school pretty much went down the toilet at that point.


O'BRIEN: That is 16-year-old Tyler talking about a problem he has in school, a special problem for students who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Now in Phoenix, Arizona, they are trying to create a school environment where those kids can be safe. A school that's specifically geared toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students. It's one of a kind in Arizona and really one of just a handful across the entire country.

Michael Weakley is the deputy director at "One In Ten," the non-profit that has started the school. It's nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us.

Walk me to the beginning of how this all started because this is a youth center that also includes a school. Can you explain that to me?

MICHAEL WEAKLEY, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ONE N TEN: Yes. And we interview our youth every six months to really get an access of what their needs are and to see where we are missing any holes.

On our last interview, we asked what level of education, you know, had you completed and we found that a lot of them had dropped out around ninth grade, tenth grade.

Actually over 50 percent of the youth that we interviewed didn't graduate high school or decided to do home schooling. So we found that there was a need there. And they explained why on the survey that they felt bullied, not safe in school and it wasn't an environment that they felt comfortable with. So they chose to give up their education because school environments were so hostile.

O'BRIEN: OK, so you have 14 students so far. The maximum capacity I understand is 25 students, but it's a virtual classroom, which means they are only taking classes online? Are any teachers coming into the youth center?

WEAKLEY: Well, we go through Arizona Virtual Academy so the Virtual Academy classroom has teachers that are available during the school hours so they can interact. It's an interactive chat, an e-mail system.

And One N Ten also has a full-time staff member there to help with the mentoring process and any questions about what is happening and serves as a tutor for the young people.

CAIN: Hi, Michael. This is Will Cain. This is a school for lesbian, gay, and bisexual teenagers, is that right?

WEAKLEY: And transgender as well, yes.

CAIN: How do you qualify for this school? Are you exclusive to those groups? How do you make sure someone fits the category?

WEAKLEY: Well, absolutely not. The basis of the school is to provide a safe environment for any youth that doesn't feel comfortable going to their high school. You know, One N Ten, our focus is gay lesbian and bisexual youth and transgender youth.

But we have two straight students that are enrolled. It's about youth that are feeling bullied that they're not feeling accepted. Sexual orientations played less of a role as far as who gets to come into the school versus who needs to be in that environment, who needs to be in a safe environment.

The majority of our youth are LGBTQ, but their sexual orientation doesn't play into whether or not we accept them into the school.

O'BRIEN: Michael, let me asked you a question. There was a guy named Rick Garcia who was talking about doing a similar thing in Chicago and it ended up not happening and he said this. The reality is we have to live as neighbors. We have to learn to tolerate one another if not accept one another.

All our kids should be safe in all our schools. Segregation is not the answer. And this is a guy who is a political director for the LGBT advocacy group, which is called "Equality Illinois."

I would have thought maybe he would be supporting the school and he actually was against this kind of a school. Do you think he has a point that sort of, you know, schools really need to reflect reality, which means that the kids should, you know, there shouldn't be -- there should be a sense that in high schools, kids should not be bullied because of their sexual orientation?

WEAKLEY: Well, I agree that the school environment should be different. You know, I'm not aware of what the environment is in Illinois. But the environment in the schools in Arizona, a lot of them have created situations where these kids don't feel comfortable.

So you can say, you know, we're not taking these kids out of the school. We don't go in and say, come to our school. These are for those youth that have already dropped out and not pursuing their education. This is their opportunity.

So we are giving them an opportunity. We are not saying don't go to public high school. We encourage our youth if they are feeling comfortable and they are part of the high school process, and it's working, great. Go for it.

But these youth that are coming to our school, this is their last resort, this is their only resort. Tyler who you had on there earlier had been picked on and bullied so much that his mother was concerned about his safety and his life.

And the way that he has socialized and coming into our school and become a part of our environment has changed his whole perception of himself. I feel we are exposing these youth to more opportunity. We are giving them more abilities.

We are not segregating them. We're integrating them into a school saying I accept you regardless. An environment should be full of acceptance and non-bullying.

And as much as I would like to take responsibility for changing all of Arizona schools, that -- we don't have that ability now. So this is the best option that we can do.

O'BRIEN: Start with that. All right, Michael Weakley, the deputy director of "One N Ten," nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us. Good luck with your school. We appreciate it.

WEAKLEY: I appreciate it. Thanks for having us on.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, he is accused of killing 77 people in that shooting rampage that happened in Norway. The trial is now under way. We will tell you why prosecutors fear it's going to turn into a circus.

Remember this video we talked about of man beaten and robbed as onlookers watched and laughed. There is a new development in this case in Baltimore this morning.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We got to take a short break. We'll see you right at the top of the hour.