Return to Transcripts main page
STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Sixth Person Confirmed Dead; Interview with Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah; Tom Petty's Guitars Stolen; Bill Cosby Weighs in on Trayvon Martin Killing; Columnist Analyzes "War on Women"; Hillary Lets Loose; Boyz II Men Releases New Album
Aired April 16, 2012 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. STARTING POINT this morning, those deadly storms tearing up tornado alley right now.
We're getting word of a sixth person who's been killed. More than 130 reports of twister touching down. We are live from one Oklahoma town that will never be the same.
Also, a prostitution scandal rocks the Secret Service. It could grow even bigger this morning. And President Obama says he wants answers.
Plus, Boyz II Men live and in the house. They're celebrating 20 years of superstardom, with a brand-new album called appropriately, "Twenty".
It's Monday, April 16th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.
O'BRIEN: Oh, I love Boyz II Men. I'm so excited they're going to be joining us in just a little bit. Wow! Twenty years! That makes me 25!
ABBY HUNTSMAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Middle school dancing, you know?
O'BRIEN: Middle school dance -- yes, me too. Reminds me of my middle school dances. Exactly.
JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: My mom still loves (INAUDIBLE).
O'BRIEN: Sounds like my mother.
John Fugelsang. He's a political comedian. Abby Huntsman is a political commentator and daughter of presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. Will Cain is a columnist for TheBlaze.com.
We begin though with the mess and cleanup today. Now, a sixth person reported killed as a result of those deadly storms in the Midwest and the Plain States. All of those deaths in the small town of Woodward, Oklahoma.
It's where we find CNN's Rob Marciano with the very latest.
Rob, good morning.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Soledad.
Day two now with the sun coming up. Remember, this storm came at night, in the middle of the night, certainly after midnight, and devastated parts of this town. It was 1947 where one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history completely wiped out this town. It was this time around, it was a more narrow swath but an EF-3 tornado of 140- mile-an-hour winds.
The damage you can see plainly behind me. This is one of many streets and neighborhoods that have sustained this sort of damage. And a remarkable scene and pictures like of a truck, bread delivery truck completely flipped over on its side.
This home behind me, brick and mortar. I mean, these are not run-of- the-mill trailer type of homes. These are well built structures with brick and 2x4 and steel joists and the like. And about 80 structures in all completely destroyed and some others you would argue not livable.
Soledad, as you mentioned earlier, we just got reports that sixth fatality. One of the seriously injured that were taken to a Texas hospital has died this morning, one of the 29 injuries with this thing.
It's remarkable talking to some of the survivors that came out of this storm alive and when you see some of the images of these homes that are completely wiped out, just how many survived this thing. This town 12,000 to 13,000 people.
And again, when it comes in the middle of the night after already getting a swath of storms earlier in the day, knocking out some power, disabling some of the warning system, that's the other scary part of this whole deal, Soledad. They had not one, not two, but three separate storm cells that came at three different times during the day that all had tornado warnings. The last of which was the worst one and that one came at night -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: What's the weather like now? They have to spend the day cleaning up obviously. But I know sometimes another storm system moves through, which makes it impossible to gather the stuff that's left behind. Are they going to have a clear day for that today?
MARCIANO: Yes. We are looking good today.
Yesterday was blustery, very windy and actually made cleanup difficult because winds were gusting at times over 30 miles an hour. We had a couple of showers come through with even some hail. But today looks to be much more calm. The sun about to come up over the eastern horizon, and the skies look to be clear, chilly morning and should be a decent day as far as the cleanup effort goes for today.
But as you can imagine, it's going to take several days -- several weeks, months and maybe years before they complete everything.
O'BRIEN: Yes, one would guess. It looks just terrible behind you.
Rob, thank you for that update.
President Obama is calling now for a rigorous investigation into allegations of misconduct by Secret Service agents, some accused of soliciting prostitutes in Colombia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If it turns it out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then, of course, I'll be angry. We are 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 those standards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Eleven agents and officers are accused of bringing prostitutes to their hotel in Cartagena, ahead of the president's arrival there for the sixth Summit of Americas. They're all on administrative leave now. Five military troops were working with the Secret Service are also under investigation today.
It brings right to Jason Chaffetz -- he's congressman, Republican, member of the House Oversight Committee, which will be investigating this case.
Good morning. Nice to see you.
What are you the kinds of questions you're interested in knowing and asking in this investigation when it comes to you?
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Well, I concur with the president, this should not be a partisan issue. We need to get to the bottom of this.
The Secret Service has to be the best of the best. Their task was securing the president and others, Republicans and Democrats. I want to do this in a bipartisan way.
But this is totally unacceptable. And what's deeply concerning, Soledad, is the pervasiveness of this. It doesn't sound -- it doesn't appear from the initial reports that this is one, maybe two agents that had kind of gone off and done something crazy and stupid, to have so many people involved in this suggests that maybe this has been happening for some time and maybe on other types of events. That's the real concern.
O'BRIEN: Which means then that your investigation would do -- what? Go back looking at every single trip that the Secret Service has taken?
CHAFFETZ: I'm not saying -- I'm not necessarily suggesting that, but we want to dive in deeper with the Secret Service to find what is the culture. Because, again, these people, they are tasked with the highest duty. You -- they'd have to be beyond reproach.
So, not necessarily every single trip but what is the culture, where are the checks and balances, and how do we make sure that when the president is arriving or any dignitary that's under Secret Service protection has the best people.
You can't leave any sort of compromise open to some sort of, you know, attack or something else where somebody wants to do something, particularly overseas.
O'BRIEN: We should reiterate for everybody that this was not the team of Secret Service agents traveling with the president, and I guess also not at the same hotel where the president was coming in to stay.
House Oversight Committee is going to start also hearing, I think this afternoon, right? The GSA, I guess, testimony into that particular, moving from scandal to scandal.
What's the big question you want answered there? Is it the same thing? How long did this go on for and how big was this problem?
CHAFFETZ: Well, remember, this took place back in 2010. So, what did the agency do about it? What are they doing and what sort of checks and balances are they putting in place that this never happens again?
The GSA has some 13,000 employees and this is a real tarnishment and we have to make sure this never happens again. The person who evidently really involved in this is going to supposedly take the Fifth Amendment today. Why is he still each employed there if we knew about this back in 2010?
I don't understand that. I want to get some answers to those questions.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Congressman, Will Cain. Last week, we talked to a reporter at "Roll Call" who told us since he's reporting on this GSA story, he started getting e-mails from people and government agencies saying check this out, check this out. And now we have the Secret Service story on top of that.
I don't want to draw too many lessons from two incidents. But is there a sense? Are you worried that there's kind of a pervasive problem within government, that this kind of behavior?
CHAFFETZ: Yes. Again, you're going to -- with over 2 million employees, you're going to have rogue people doing some ridiculous stuff. But the Oversight Committee is supposed to be investigating this. We want people to contact us at the oversight committee and let us know about these things.
And that's what you're worried about. Are there checks in place so that these things don't happen, or is this pervasive, just a way to doing business and wasting taxpayer's money? That's what we're trying to do and fight against. So, that is the deep concern, this is not just this case. It's a lot more than that.
O'BRIEN: So, when you look at what happened at the GSA investigation, the agency administrator, Martha Johnson, she resigned, two top deputies were fired, eight GSA employees were placed on administrative leave. You were talking a moment ago by Jeff Neely, he's the regional commissioner. He could face criminal charges possibly, but, ultimately, the question you want to have answered is how far and how deep did this go?
Are you willing to look back to 2004, 2005, 2007?
CHAFFETZ: Sure, oh, yes. No, absolutely. This has to stop. Remember, it wasn't just about -- remember, this is a conference that was supposed to have spent $250,000, which is a question (INAUDIBLE) to itself.
O'BRIEN: Back in 2004, I think, is the last time they spent under $250,000. 2004, they spent $93,000. By 2006, they were all above that at $323,000. By 2008, they were all above that at $655,000. I mean, forget it. By 2010, what we've been talking about lately, is they're up to $841,000.
So that says to me, years and years and years of at least overspending.
CHAFFETZ: Yes. Well, then, why didn't we fix it? Who is responsible for fixing it?
I would really question whether or not we were doing it. It used to be that they had you know, in Oklahoma City. And then it moved to Las Vegas. They had to take eight scouting trips to Las Vegas? Come on! That doesn't pass the basic sniff test.
There have to be check marks in place to do this. They had an awards program that was originally going to hand out, you know, coffee mugs and, you know, mouse pads and things, that attaboy, and then that gravitated to iPods and all these other extravagant and more expensive things. You can't keep doing that and expect taxpayers to not be upset about it.
So, what are the checkpoints in place so that this never happens again?
O'BRIEN: Jason Chaffetz, I should tell you, we have been running video that has surfaced from this crazy story the last couple of weeks. Thanks for talking with us. Always nice to see you. Appreciate it.
CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Got a look at some other headlines this morning. Zoraida has got that for us. Hey, Z.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Soledad.
Well, he is accused of killing 77 people, including children, in a shooting and bombing rampage that devastated the country of Norway. This was last summer. Today, his trial will begin.
Anders Breivik admitted to the rampage, but he is 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 extremists. In a past court appearance, he gave what appeared to be a fascist salute.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's so-called bunga bunga trial back under way this morning and with a shocking new revelation. Berlusconi admitting to paying witnesses in the criminal trial and say it's the prosecutor's fault. Berlusconi says he paid three former show girls more than $200,000 to cover legal fees they have racked up since becoming involved in the case. Berlusconi is charged with having sex with an underage prostitute.
And the first six United Nations monitors are on the ground in Syria this morning as a fragile five-day cease-fire appears to be unraveling. Anti-government forces report Syrian troops are again shelling the city of Homs. At least 10 people reportedly killed across the country. A formal U.N. monitoring team of 250 inspectors is expected to arrive in Syria later this week.
A new development in the case of that disturbing video showing a man being beaten and robbed as onlookers stood by and actually laughing. Baltimore police say 20-year-old suspect Aaron Parsons has turned himself in. That attack happened on St. Patrick's Day and it went viral, and social media posts over the past week actually helped linked Parsons to the case. Police are searching for three other suspects from that video.
Soledad, back to you.
O'BRIEN: Yes, I remember the guy who started that really tweeting and blogging about, you know, that videotape -- was really hopeful this would get a crack in the case and I guess it worked out.
SAMBOLIN: It was so disturbing and so surprising to see everybody just standing by.
O'BRIEN: And laughing and kicking the guy. It's terrible.
All right. Z, thanks.
SAMBOLIN: You're welcome.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, the entire board of education in Birmingham, Alabama, has been taken over by the state. It's highly unusual. We'll tell you why. It's the latest story from Steve Perry who's going to join us with his "Perry Principles" straight ahead. And then, forget the war on women. There's a battle really for women's votes. Democrats fighting with the GOP over who is the better party for women. Latest on attacks from both sides straight ahead.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz joined us a few moments ago. But he likes the Cars. So, we're going to play "Good Times Roll" for him our playlist.
You're watching STARTING POINT. Let's go to break.
O'BRIEN: That's The Roots. "What You Want." It's the choice of Steve Perry. He joins us this morning from Hartford. Talk about a story that's being called the crisis in confidence. The Alabama Department of education taking what is an unprecedented action over a local school board. Birmingham, Alabama.
Steve Perry, good morning to you. Nice to see you. How unusual is this? \
STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, this is rare if not the first time. I've never seen a school district taken over simply because the adults on the board were acting so badly that the state's commissioner decided that they couldn't be trusted to run their own school system.
O'BRIEN: Yes. It sounds like it's completely bizarre. They've also directed the board to secure books, records, documents, minutes from the meetings, e-mails, phone records, correspondence as well. They haven't really framed the takeover, though, as if they're looking for fraud, but it sounds like it --
PERRY: They haven't. They haven't, Soledad. What -- I think what they want to see is that the district is, in fact, can be trusted in the hands of the adults who are supposed to be running it. This is not a small school system nor is it a school system that is without its academic challenges. On the same token, it's within a community that has a longstanding history of civil rights and hard work.
I was down there not long ago speaking with the Birmingham change fund, and it's a group of young professionals who've decided that they're going to take education's bull by the horns and raise money locally to support their own causes. So, it's a community that's prideful, but this is truly a black eye.
O'BRIEN: So, what is it exactly mean that the state school board takes over a local school board?
PERRY: What typically it means is that the state believes that the local community cannot run a school. So, what it can turn into is that schools could be closed, that people can be fired, and that other operators can come in and take over for where those people have fallen short. It can be very, very drastic.
It's not like this is the only school system in the country. Kansas City has lost schools. Bridgeport, Connecticut, just talked about being taken over, St. Louis, Missouri. Other school systems are, in fact, either being taken over or threatened to be taken over. So, that in and of itself is not bad, but the conditions under which those schools are being taken over is because of local performance. This is, it seems like, on the surface, is because the board simply can't get along.
O'BRIEN: Yes, but even if they can't get along, they were elected, right? And they're elected citizens by citizens in Birmingham, Alabama. So, there's a woman who's -- Mary Moore (ph). She's an Alabama state rep. She says this, they feel their vote has been taken away by a group of people who do not live in the city, who do not have one child in the system. This is just wrong. Is this even legal?
PERRY: Well, it appears that it is. But I'm not -- that's not what I do. What I can say is this. The district is not unlike any other district where when the state threatens to take it over, they push back, because, at its corps, Americans believe that our school should be run locally, not regionally, not nationally. And so, there's always a backlash.
But in this particular case, the thought behind the takeover is not because of academic underperformance. Though, Birmingham is a city that has a very high crime index relative to the rest of the state, has very high dropout rate among African-American males, and at least one report says 58 percent of African-American males will drop out.
Those are not the reasons being given. Those seem to be acceptable, at least, to the extent that they will still allow Birmingham City Schools to run the school system. This seems to be something very, very different.
JOHN FUGELSANG, RADIO PERSONALITY: Dr. Perry, good morning. We're looking at 30 years of public schools being defunded in this country, and all around the country, teachers are constantly being told they have to do more with less. Would you agree that this is not necessarily a problem in Birmingham but a symptom of a problem?
PERRY: Well, I don't know that the two are connected, defunding and being asked to do more with less, and this particular case. I think that what we're looking at is a big problem. When you have locally elected board that the state feels cannot be trusted to operate a school system, it represents a reprehensible set of circumstances, because ultimately, those who are losing are the ones who seem to always lose.
It's not the teachers, it's not the adults, it's the children. The children are losing any time the adults are not able to communicate.
O'BRIEN: Quick final question for you, Steve. So, what does it look like? If your kid going to school this morning, any big change?
PERRY: No. There shouldn't be any change at all. In fact, that's what Dr. Vice (ph) said, the state commissioner said I don't want you to change anything. Don't touch the books. Don't touch anything. Do not make any decisions at all. So, from the children's perspective, it will look like it did on Friday.
O'BRIEN: Steve Perry for us this morning. Nice to see you, Steve. Thank you.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, you've all heard about the love for Tim Tebow, but now, the football star is getting booed. What? What? Can't believe this.
Also, secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, leaves a pantsuit at the hotel and puts on a cute dress and puts on her dancing shoes and cuts loose on the dance floor. There she is, chugging a beer.
O'BRIEN: (INAUDIBLE). You're watching STARTING POINT.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. A couple of quick headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Rocker, Tom Petty, offering a $7,500 reward for the return of five guitars stolen from a sound stage in California. Petty and his band, The Heartbreakers, were rehearsing for their U.S. tour when it happened. Three of the guitars were vintage models from the 1960s.
And it looks like it will take some time for Tim Tebow to feel the love in New York. The new (INAUDIBLE) quarterback heard some boos in the crowd at the Yankees game last night when they showed him on the big screen, but, here's the deal. Tebow was seen talking to Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat. So, that actually may explain some of the booing. The Heat beat the Knicks earlier that day.
Back to you, Soledad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: We're digging in. We're making sure we understand what's behind that story. All right. Zoraida, thanks.
SAMBOLIN: You're welcome.
O'BRIEN: A pretty staggering statistic. More than a hundred thousand foster children are waiting to be adopted in the United States. This week's hero, CNN Hero, is fighting to find each and every one a family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was adopted, and I felt that I wanted to adopt a kid that need a home. My son was in foster care for four years. That was his felt (ph) home. But from the minute Michael and I met, I knew right away that we were going to be family. I thought everything was going great, but after a month, Michael was removed from my house. I was instantly cut off from him.
DAVID WING-KOVARIK, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: Finding that family for that child. It's nothing short of a miracle.
Let's go. We need to get ready for the horses.
Sometimes, families are faced with barriers because of a myth or a misunderstanding, causing the kids to stay in the foster care system longer. Being that gay or lesbian, individual, or couple, makes it much harder. My name is David Wing-Kovarik. I adopted from the foster system, but now, I help other gay and lesbian individuals realize their dream of becoming parents.
We're working together with you on that. I want to make sure that you've got that family-to-family kind of support. I've worked hundreds of cases, side-by-side social workers. We covered a lot of information last week.
I've trained thousands of foster parents. It doesn't matter if you're gay or straight,t and we do it for free.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He figured out how to get us over that finish line. Our family wouldn't have adopted each other if it haven't been for David.
WING-KOVARIK: I'm fighting for the right of that child to have that family.
UNIDENTIFIED KID: Daddy? Is tonight movie night?
WING-KOVARIK: It's why I keep doing it every single day.
O'BRIEN: I love that.
Still ahead on STARTING POINT, this one goes out to all the ladies out there. Democrats and Republicans working to woo female voters as they wage an all-out war, but is there really a war on women? We're going to examine that up next.
And speaking of ladies, the legendary R&B group, Boyz II Men, is in the building. Billboard voted them the most successful music group of the 1990s, but that's not the end of the road for them. I'm going to let them serenade me for five minutes. I know. Me, too. I love them. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: That is Bruise Springsteen "Into the Fire." How many times have we played that? This is Lisa's choice.
ABBY HUNTSMAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He is touring the country right now. He's all over the place.
(CROSSTALK) O'BRIEN: Lisa is a columnist for the "Huffington Post" and will join us in a few minutes to talk about women and is there a war on women?
First, though, we want to get to the headlines. Zoraida has a look at those for us. Hey, Z.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much. Afghan leaders say they have turned back the insurgents responsible for the deadly terror attacks in Kabul and three other provinces this weekend. It was an 18-hour coordinated assaulted across seven locations. It's the worst attack on the capitol since U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters targeted last fall. Four civilians and eight members of the Afghan security forces were killed, 65 people were wounded.
Pakistan authorities this morning searching for nearly 400 inmates who escaped from a prison early yesterday. They were freed by hundreds of Taliban militants who stormed the facility. Pakistan's local information minister says 21 high profile militants were among those who got away.
Bill Cosby says the national debate over the killing of Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman should be focused on guns and not on race. Talking to CNN "State of the Union" Cosby says the key issue isn't whether Zimmerman profiled Martin but that he was carrying a gun.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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 is racist or not racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Cosby also says we need to get guns off of the street.
And four people now feared dead in a yacht race accident, the Coast Guard suspending its search last night. Seven men and one woman on board ranged from 20s to their 40s. They were hurled into the water. It's off the coast of Fairlawn islands 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.
And we have a recall alert. Dole is recalling more than 750 cases of bad salad because they could be contaminated with salmonella. No other Dole salads are included in the recall and no reports that anyone has gotten sick. The bags distributed in the 15 states you see on your screen and stamped with a use by date April 11th, 2012.
And live from New York, it's Mitt Romney? The GOP candidate reportedly has an offer to appear on "Saturday Night Live." He is said to be mulling it over. In the meantime, this weekend "SNL" offered their take on a bonding moment between Romney and formal rival Rick Santorum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that you're out of the race, I want to tell you in person you ran a great campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Mitt. Congratulations on the nomination. It was hard-fought.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What can I get you two?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we are celebrating for my friend so I'll have a chocolate-milk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'll have a napkin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Soledad, we are taking bets. Will he or won't he?
O'BRIEN: He will because he is a presidential candidate. Of course he will.
SAMBOLIN: It would be nice to see him.
O'BRIEN: The question will it be good or lame?
SAMBOLIN: It will be great.
O'BRIEN: You think so?
SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes. I think he'll be prepared.
O'BRIEN: I bet he will be prepared. Yes, I bet you're right.
SAMBOLIN: You have -- thanks. Appreciate it.
O'BRIEN: You have seen the headlines. Here are some of them. In the war on women who is fighting or for what? A war on words, not a war on women. Or this one -- the war on women is over. But does the war on women really exist? Lisa Belkin joins us from the "Huffington Post." Do you think there is a war on women?
LISA BELKIN, COLUMNIST, "HUFFINGTON POST": I think women feel like there's a war. I think that the whole birth control was a wake-up call for an awful lot of women who it didn't occur to them that somebody might want to take that away. And I was -- right before I came on, I tweeted. I said "Is there a war on women and what are we fighting over?" I was stunned at how many women came back and said health care, reproductive rights, my body. And we haven't heard it in this force in a long, long time.
O'BRIEN: Is all of that because it's an election year and some of those issues have been raised by candidates who are trying to appeal to a certain kind of voter? BELKIN: Yes. And some of it got out of control. I don't think that the Republicans went into this thinking that the -- their issue this year was going to be birth control. I think some of just sort of evolved and got out of control.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The birth control issue, is this the battleground you've seen that defines this war on women?
BELKIN: I don't know that in the voting booth people are going to end up voting on it.
CAIN: That is how you defined it.
BELKIN: But I do know that there are an awful lot of surprised women who thought this battle was over.
CAIN: But, see, Lisa, here is where I have to meekly disagree and offer a voice of opposition here.
CAIN: Is that you described it as someone taking away birth control, and that just simply isn't true. This has been a debate about whether or not birth control will be provided for free from your employer through their health care plan. And I don't see how anyone can describe that as a battle in a war on women.
BELKIN: Women take their bodies very, very personally. And when the conversation starts being -- and the specifics get lost when the conversation starts being about what someone else feels you can do with your body.
CAIN: But that isn't the truth. No one is saying what you can do with your body.
BELKIN: It may not be the truth, but that is the way it feels to an awful lot of women right now.
JOHN FUGELSANG, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: In fairness, will, you had Senator Santorum saying that states should have the right to deny contraceptive care if they want and I think that sent a lot of fear into women and I think it goes beyond reproductive freedoms. We mentioned earlier governor Scott Walker on Good Friday repealing the equal pay for women act in Wisconsin. Women now in that state can't sue if they are paid less money for the same work. They can't find out if they are being paid less for the same work. I think if the Democratic Party was smart they would expand this beyond the issue of reproductive freedom for the women in the workplace as well.
O'BRIEN: One of the interesting things I found was the quote they say and Romney said at a fund-raiser in palm beach, Florida, according to NBC news and she said this about this whole flap with Hilary Rosen said this, "It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother and that was really a defining moment and I loved it." What does that mean? BELKIN: It means you get to fight over -- there is this button that if you push it, women respond and it's the choices they have made over motherhood. And it's irrational to a degree, but I think it's all based on guilt. I think we all feel guilty to some extent on what we have or have not done. And so somebody standing up and doing otherwise is sort of seen as a critique of us. But --
O'BRIEN: The reason I was disappointed in this because I felt like it was the political take on a conversation that seemed to be a very genuine conversation about women's choices. Suddenly it's like, oh, this was all a game about politics. I get it. All of this, you know, people yakking on both sides.
BELKIN: Oh, good, I got them to react. I got the response I wanted and now all of these people will yell about this subject that they -- yell at reflexively and have that fight and distract it from other subjects.
O'BRIEN: Who wins in that fight?
BELKIN: I do think that women very much think that they do not have issues that are just theirs until someone goes after them. And then I think there is a response to that. And I think those are our bodies and our choices as parents.
HUNTSMAN: Lisa, as a woman, I have to say going to the voting booth I don't think contraception is on my mind when I make my vote. What do you think is the defining issue for women as this conversation will continue to go on through the general election? What is it that women want? That's the $100 question here.
BELKIN: I think global reply women want what everyone wants. I think something vaguely compartmentalizing what women want. I think someone trying to take away something that had not really been on your radar screen until recently.
CAIN: You just described this as a political skirmish created by both sides. I think everyone nodded along. You certainly agreed with that. Are women being manipulated?
BELKIN: No. They are not that stupid.
CAIN: Successful isn't part of the choice. Are they being manipulated by politicians?
BELKIN: I think these are real issues to women that politicians sometimes play with to their own end.
O'BRIEN: Do you think the language has been too extreme. Do you worry about that?
BELKIN: On every subject in politics, the language has been to the extreme.
O'BRIEN: Lisa Belkin, nice to have you.
BELKIN: Thank you for having me.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, is Hillary Clinton America's hippest secretary of state? I believe the answer is yes. Now these are photos of having a beer and hanging out in South America. The party pictures to talk about coming up.
Plus Boyz II Men bringing the party right here to STARTING POINT this morning. Here what we have next on my playlist. "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday." You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: Who is this? What are we listening to? Just random songs?
JOHN FUGELSANG, RADIO PERSONALITY: Just random play list I've got.
O'BRIEN: Oh. And this maybe was -- it looks like the Secretary of State was listening to?
FUGELSANG: And here is the Colombian top ten.
O'BRIEN: Fashioning a new image maybe, no longer the tough, reserved going in a pant suit, she's gone from tweeting on Tumbler to cutting loose in Colombia. She shook off the signature scrunchy and letting her hair down on Saturday and hit the dance floor. And the hottest we are told because we haven't there in a night club in Cartagena. She even knocked back a beer they took pictures of it. She's in Colombia for the sixth summit of the America -- you're shaking your head.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm just saying it's quite clear at 8:47 this morning that Colombia is the place to be.
ABBY HUNTSMAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She truly deserve it. I'm sorry she deserves all that fun. She works harder than --
FUGELSANG: But if this -- if this is Clinton would like a job that involves a lot of overseas party and drinking allow me to recommend the job of vice president. It might be open if you want it.
O'BRIEN: Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, they were the sound track to the '90s. And this morning, Boyz II Men are joining us live. Up next, here they are. Shawn and Wanya and Nathan --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning.
O'BRIEN: Hi guys nice to have you. It's great to see you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you? It's good to see you.
O'BRIEN: Short break. We're back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: Well, I love it. Well, we have -- we have the play list and then the band is here to sing along with the play list.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.
O'BRIEN: It's very nice. Feel free. Boyz II Men in the house this morning. The legendary R&B group celebrating 20 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
O'BRIEN: How is that possible? Because I was around for that; I'm not that old. The new album. It's called "20."
Joining us this morning from the end is Nathan Morris, and Shawn Stockman and Wanya Morris.
WANYA MORRIS, BOYZ II MEN: Yes absolutely. Yes.
O'BRIEN: It's nice to have you guys. Ok so your new album is called "20." Because of that 20-year span. Why did you want to put together this new album?
NATHAN MORRIS, BOYZ II MEN: We felt that we wanted to bridge the gap between our audiences. A lot of times when our -- when people come to the show we have people anywhere from 65 and up and seven or eight and we couldn't kind of like bring them altogether to a degree so we decided to make an album.
One is our 20th anniversary and we wanted to do a double CD of all the original stuff and then kind of bringing the older stuff and put it all together so the younger generation could see who the group was that their parents are passing the music down so it's kind of like a connection thing for us.
O'BRIEN: Between '91 and '96, you had 12 top ten hits.
WANYA MORRIS, BOYZ II MEN: Yes.
O'BRIEN: You've met in high school. And 18 years old you were signing with Motown.
W. MORRIS: Yes I was actually -- I was actually younger than that. I was 17.
STOCKMAN: Yes, yes.
O'BRIEN: But then in '96, it ended and you've left. I mean and you intentionally left. Why?
W. MORRIS: Well, we didn't actually leave. We were --
O'BRIEN: You took a break.
W. MORRIS: We took a break? Yes and that break was still work filled. You know we were all over the place we were in you know overseas and things like that. So because we weren't in the mainstream of the American, I guess, you say public, it seemed like we took, you know, we left but we never did.
O'BRIEN: Do you regret that? I mean, because it must have been exhausting because you were it. I mean, you were -- you couldn't walk down the street without people mobbing you kind of thing.
W. MORRIS: And you know -- you know what, the industry changed you know what I mean and it changed so abruptly that when we recognized that the situation was what it was, it was kind of like too late, do you know what I mean? And we had to kind of try to fit in somehow, fit in some way.
And you know rather than try to fit in, we just decided to ride in our own lanes and keep doing what we are doing, which is go on tour and make money and you know support our families and you know, maintain.
O'BRIEN: Michael McCrary was the fourth in the group and he was ill. How is he doing? I've gotten a lot of tweets from folks asking.
N. MORRIS: He is doing ok. We actually tried to invite him back for this 20th anniversary album but it wasn't something that he really wanted to do. He wasn't in the right mindset to really come back and do this. I mean, he's been gone nearly for nine years now.
So I mean, you know growing up that young and then becoming an adult, he was kind of gone for most of our, I guess you'll say adulthood when we started to really form our bond as men so it didn't quite fit and it just didn't really work out. I mean, love to have him back but it just didn't work.
O'BRIEN: What's the difference in addition to the 20 years older? Or how are you different. I know how I'm different.
STOCKMAN: Despite the gray hairs?
O'BRIEN: There is color for that. We can change that.
STOCKMAN: I think we're a little wiser; a little smarter. We understand life a little bit better. We're all fathers. We -- we just -- our priorities have changed. In the beginning, it was just us guys just singing and just, you know, globetrotting and things of that nature, but now we have people to actually take care of and that changes your perspective. That's pretty much how that changes our music because we see things from a different angle.
O'BRIEN: What is your favorite to sing? I mean, it's got to be the ballads, right? Because I sing along with that with my hairbrush and I pretend I'm Mariah doing that song with you, by the way.
W. MORRIS: It's the ballads -- it's the ballads but I think our favorite thing is really the a cappella, you know what I mean. You know I realize something yesterday we did the Knicks game and we kind of conduct each other you know what I mean, like a conductor would conduct a choir because there's three of us, we actually you know give each other the hands and you know come on bring it up some, do you know what I'm saying?
So it's fun. Do you know what I mean? To try to make sure you stay on key and give everybody what they want to hear at the same time. So I think my favorite thing to do is to try to put that -- that three- part harmony together and make it sound like a hundred.
O'BRIEN: Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake and many other guys point to you guys as sort of their inspiration. Who do you like?
W. MORRIS: I think collectively as a group in high school, I was just telling somebody the other day that we are just the R&B image of a group called "Take Six" -- they're gospel --
O'BRIEN: Right, right, right.
W. MORRIS: They are the group that we looked up to in high school. Like I said we all have different musical influences but as far as creating the Boyz II Men sound that is the original and that's the root of who we are.
O'BRIEN: Are you excited to be touring again?
W. MORRIS: Absolutely. It's nice.
STOCKMAN: It's been great. I mean, like what you said, we have always been touring to some capacity, but this year and this past couple of years, it's gotten to be a lot larger and just more people and, for some reason, it's coming back around.
O'BRIEN: We all understand. I've had people e-mailing me, do you mind if I come by the studio around 8:55? Boyz II Men really in the studio?
All right. I am so glad to see you. Thank you so much.
N. MORRIS: Good to see you as well.
O'BRIEN: If you want on the commercial break, you can serenade me. I'm totally up for it. I'd appreciate that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
O'BRIEN: "End Point" with our panel is coming up next.
O'BRIEN: Everything. . I'll pretend to be Mariah. Thanks, guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: All right. We end with "End Point" -- John.
FUGELSANG: Everyone is outraged that while in Colombia the Secret Service may have been secretly serviced. I know that whatever happens if they are found guilty these people deserve to lose their jobs and they don't get to have a happy ending.
O'BRIEN: Will Cain?
CAIN: I grew up in north Texas right in the middle of what they call Tornado Alley. And you know, it's funny. I never once in my life saw a tornado. So I'd sit here looking for tornado stats -- are they really, really on the rise?
O'BRIEN: Yes, they really, really are the month of March. 200 spawned tornadoes as opposed to 80 over average.
Abby you get the final word.
HUNTSMAN: I'm a silly girl. So meeting Boyz II Men was a girl's dream. And I'm so glad they are back.
HUNTSMAN: I'm very excited.
O'BRIEN: They're wonderful guys.
All right. I appreciate it, guys. Let's throw it right to Carol Costello for "CNN NEWSROOM". I'll see everybody else back here Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m. Hey Carol, good morning.