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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Dick Clark Dies; Secret Service Prostitution Scandal Continues to Unfold; Kim Kardashian Reportedly Considering Political Career; Retaliation Fears For Grisly Photos; India Launches Missile; Obama Tops Romney On Favorability; Keystone Pipeline Plan Revised; Gulf Oil Spill Deal Reached; JetBlue Pilot To Use Insanity Defense; No Smoking Indoors?; Poor Sleep Linked To Diabetes; Car Crashes Through Florida Publix; Racial Profiling Hearing; People's Choice For Romney's VP; The Issue Is Black And White; Interview with Senator Dick Durbin

Aired April 19, 2012 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, ladies. Thank you very much. Our STARTING POINT this morning, the stars come out to remember America's oldest teenager, Dick Clark.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, would you agree, the Jackson Five.

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O'BRIEN: He launched the careers of countless stars and millions of kisses on New Year's Eve. We're going to talk about his life and his legacy this morning with Gloria Gaynor and the editor of "Billboard" magazine.

But first, secret service agents forced out over a prostitution scandal in Colombia. One of the escorts is now talking, says it was a fight that erupted over her price. We're going to talk to a former secret service agent whose brother was working in Colombia.

And he says, yes, he was nude but, no, he was not lewd. The man who stripped town to absolutely nothing at the airport is going to join us. Fully clothed, I'm hoping, and tell us why this morning he has no regrets about his protest.

It's Thursday, April 19th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

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(MUSIC PLAYING)

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O'BRIEN: That's right. That's off my playlist this morning, Chuck Berry, "Johnny B. Goode." Chuck Berry made his national debut on "Bandstand" with Dick Clark.

Our panelists this morning, Will Cain joins us. He's a columnist for the Blaze.com. Good morning, Will. You still have beard. OK, OK.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.

O'BRIEN: He's keeping it, I guess.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Love the beard. Yes. Yes. Sort of.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Abby Huntsman is with us, political commentator and daughter of Jon Huntsman, of course. And Ryan Lizza is with us. He's a Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker." It's nice to have all of you.

One of the things that I think was now so much of a surprise when you hear about Dick Clark passing was his age and obviously he'd been struggling with health issues when he was diagnosed with diabetes. At the same time you realize the impact his life had on music.

RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORKER": Reading the obituaries what strikes me is that this guy was important not just in the music business, but in the culture. He desegregated that show. He was the first show to have black teenagers appear on it. He said the only time he got sweaty palms in an interview was when he interviewed a black American youth.

O'BRIEN: When he talks about that integration, you don't get the sense that this was a big planned out, plotted out strategy.

LIZZA: No.

O'BRIEN: It was just one of those thing that is --

LIZZA: No.

O'BRIEN: Joe Levy is with us this morning. It's nice to have you. We've had lots of conversations and opportunities to talk, of course, the editor of "Billboard" magazine. Let's start with the desegregation, when Dick Clark tells the story of sweating through his first interview because he had invited black teenagers to dance on "American Bandstand," the show was obviously about young people dancing. How big of an impact was that?

JOE LEVY, EDITOR, "BILLBOARD": It was a big deal. Rock 'n roll was ready to cross boundaries that the rest of America wasn't ready to cross. Popular music was ready to integrate America, get listeners talking to each other in a way that the rest of America wasn't. What Dick Clark did so often was to present the music in a way that all of America could understand. This was a moment when that was exactly what he was doing.

O'BRIEN: They have a camera now focused on the -- his star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Obviously, people are assuming that in addition to these flowers by the time the sun comes up out there you'll see a will the of people coming out to mourn his passing. He died from a massive heart attack. He was 82-years-old. Why do you think he was so successful, do you think? He was successful financially and he was also successful, as you say, in the culture.

CAIN: I said to Joe backstage -- Joe kind of laughed at me. I said I can't talk about Dick Clark without thinking of Ryan Seacrest.

O'BRIEN: He brought it up again.

LEVY: You did.

O'BRIEN: Sitting in your office thinking of Ryan Seacrest.

CAIN: He crosses my mind often, Ryan Seacrest. He has built this massive media empire, highly successful. The story is that he modeled it off of Dick Clark, this highly successful businessman.

LEVY: There's no doubt that Dick Clark blazed the trail that Ryan Seacrest is following right now. One of the reasons that Dick Clark diversified so much is during the scandal of the 1950s, it appears that he didn't do anything wrong but he had investments in record companies, in music publishing companies. ABC, which was presenting "Bandstand" gave him a choice. Either keep those investments and keep making that money or stay with "American Bandstand." he divested himself of those companies. When it came to time to go into business again, he actually got excited sitting in a room with accountants and lawyers and talking business. He loved it.

CAIN: He was, what, responsible for shows as far as award shows like the golden globes.

LEVY: American Music Awards. The $10,000 pyramid, which he stayed with so long it became the $100,000 pyramid.

CAIN: Right.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: How was he able to break those barriers in 1950s and 1960s here where culturally it was not common to interview blacks? How was he able to successfully do that back then?

LEVY: Look at Dick Clark. So clean cut, so presentable. He was able to present the music to parents that way. At a time when his audience understood it, they dressed and looked like him, very respectable, presentable clean-cut teenagers, dancing and having a good time, coming together in a social context with respect. So much of what he did wasn't just to present music but to present teenage culture to other teenagers and their parents.

O'BRIEN: I want to play a bunch of interviews. Obviously, celebrities have been talking about really the difference that Dick Clark made in their lives and their careers as well. One word that kept coming up was "kindness," that he seemed to treat the people coming out on stage very, very kindly. Let's listen to Marie Osmond and Neil Sedaka as well.

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NEIL SEDAKA, SINGER/SONGWRITER: I did the first "Rockin' Eve" new year's eve show. And he wrote the liner notes. I remember he said I like your style. I'm going to write the first line of notes on your LP. So, I have some wonderful, wonderful memories. And I'll be eternally grateful for him -- to him for starting my career.

MARIE OSMOND, SINGER: Dick Clark is truly going to be missed, because Dick had an eye. He had a vision. He could -- he could smell a star. I swear, he could. He could just -- he could hear it and he knew it in their personality. Not a celebrity, but a star.

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O'BRIEN: How many people would you guess, roughly, where he made their career or took them --

LEVY: You can't even begin to calculate. Think about this. The first time the show went national in 1957, one of his guests, Jerry Lee Lewis. Flash forward 26 years, a famous clip of him presenting a young woman on her first single. Her name is Madonna. He says where do you see yourself in 20 years? She says I will be ruling the world. She turned out to be correct. But think about that across three decades, somebody who stood toe to toe with figures that important.

O'BRIEN: Consistently getting it right.

LEVY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: "Bandstand" existed as a show before they -- he came in to host the show. He said the difference was that he genuinely liked the kids where the two hosts before, sounds like, were a little bit crotchety. He actually enjoyed watching young people dance and also was interested in the performers as well.

LEVY: He understood that the kids were crucial to the music and to the show. He cared about teenagers. He respected them. He was interested in them. Not everyone in TV or music business was. They were interested in making TV.

CAIN: I saw someone describe him as America's older brother, the conduit between parents and teenagers. He looked like the older brother who was hip enough to know the music but made it OK for your parents as well.

LEVY: That's exactly right.

O'BRIEN: Joe Levy, thank you very much.

A little bit later in our next hour, we'll talk to Larry Klein, a long-time producer of Dick Clark's "New Year's Rockin' Eve." And then we'll chat with Gloria Gaynor, who got her big break on "American Bandstand."

First, though, a look at the headlines. Christine has that for us. Good morning, Christine. CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Soledad. Police divers will continue to a North Carolina pond to continue searching for a Ft. Bragg soldier, who has been missing since the weekend. Private first class Kelly Bordeaux was last seen at a Fayetteville bar early Saturday morning. Investigators would not elaborate about a lead they got yesterday that led them to search for her in that pond.

A Toronto man has been arrested for allegedly convincing a 12- year-old New Jersey girl to perform sex acts online by pretending to be Justin Bieber. And 34-year-old Lee Moyer faces charges of luring, manufacturing child pornography and extortion. Police thing he may have been in contact with other young girls he met on Facebook in Canada, United States and the Philippines.

The Secret Service will interview rocker Ted Nugent today. He got their attention with that anti-President Obama rant at an NRA event when he said he'd be dead or in jail if President Obama gets reelected. Nugent says he's looking forward to meeting with the Secret Service.

A new judge taking the reins of the Trayvon Martin shooting, Florida judge Kenneth L\lester will preside over the George Zimmerman bail hearing tomorrow. Zimmerman is charged with second degree murder. Later this morning, Florida's governor will announce a task force to examine that state's stand-your-ground law, which is at the heart of Zimmerman's defense.

Minding your business this morning, U.S. stock futures are up. Dow futures about 70 points higher, pointing to a market bounce at the open. Quarterly income fell after an account adjustment of nearly $5 billion for Bank of America. Overall corporate profits have been stronger than expected this earning season helping to push markets up this morning.

Next hour we're going to find out how many people filed unemployment claims for the first time last week. Investors still waiting on those numbers for a fresh read on the health of the jobs market.

The infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction could wind end up in a Supreme Court. The Obama administration is asking justices to weigh in on FCC fines from that case. CBS was slapped with $550,000 fines for the 2004 super bowl slip. But last year a federal appeals court said the fine was improper. Judges said the FCC acted arbitrarily because they didn't give media prior warning about its enforcement policies. The Supreme Court will decide whether to take this case later this year. I can't believe it was 2004.

O'BRIEN: I know.

ROMANS: Time flies and we're still talking about it.

O'BRIEN: Yes, we are.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, the first Secret Service agents being forced out over that prostitution scandal in Columbia. Now one of the sex workers is talking. We'll talk to a former Secret Service agent who knows those agents involved.

And trying to turn her 15 minutes into four more years, Kim Kardashian is thinking about running for office.

LIZZA: You said 15 minutes?

O'BRIEN: All right, all right, her 35 minutes -- four more years. I'd campaign for her.

And if you're about to head into work, check out our live blog at CNN.com/start in CNN.com/startingpoint. Here is Abby's playlist, One Direction "What Makes you Beautiful."

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O'BRIEN: That's Radiohead, "Creep," off Ryan's playlist.

LIZZA: Setting up the next story.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Yes, it is. Stunning new revelations involving the scandal of the Secret Service agents and personnel in Columbia. Three members have left or are being pushed out of the agency. As many as 10 military personnel are also under investigation, including five with the army special forces.

The alleged misconduct unfolded last week in the hours before President Obama arrived in Columbia for an international summit. Dan Bongino is a former Secret Service agent who served under three presidential administrations. He's also Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland joins us. Nice to talk to you. Good to have you back.

DAN BONGINO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Your brother-in-law is a Secret Service agent, I should mention. So what do we know of these three? One has been retired, one has quit and one is being pushed out. What do we know about the three that the focus seems to be on right now?

BONGINO: It seems that they were the targets in the investigation. Again, I don't have any inside information not being a Secret Service agent anymore. But it appears they were the central focus of the investigation. The service acted quickly. I think the investigation is vigorously proceeding. I think they're looking to really move past this as to not further tarnish what was a stellar reputation up until this point.

O'BRIEN: So eight others, I should mention, are on administrative leave. What happens to them? In your assessment, are their careers over even if they continue to work in the Secret Service? Are they just done because they're part of this massive scandal? BONGINO: Sure, fair question. I think the personal embarrassment alone is enough for them to just evaluate their own careers and say, yes. I think at this point they would be happy to just keep their jobs and move on. But, yes, this isn't the kind of thing you put on a resume. There's no question about it. It's unfortunate, but true.

O'BRIEN: That may be the understatement, Dan, of the week here.

LIZZA: Depends what your next job is, I guess.

O'BRIEN: Exactly.

CAIN: Dan, Will Cain. We kind of dive into the salacious details of the story. We've talked to, I guess, the main prostitute in the scandal. How could this have compromised the president's security? How would this really and specifically -- I don't know if you can give a hypothetical. Could theoretically these ladies have gotten access to the president's personal room? How was this a threat to his security?

BONGINO: It doesn't appear that this was the case. Of course, I'm not privy to details. When you're dealing with foreign nationals in a foreign country, you don't know who these people are. They haven't been vetted. What a perfect conduit to get action toes sensitive information, but to use, you know, prostitutes. And you're assuming that most -- that's why the Secret Service is very strict, very strict rules regarding their -- your contact with foreign nationals, especially in a foreign country and even on U.S. soil. They're very strict about it.

O'BRIEN: "The New York Times," the writer's name, I think, is Ryan Neuman, interviewed one of these sex workers. One of the things that I thought was interesting was that she said that the guy in particular who she was dealing with didn't identify himself as a Secret Service agent, which I think was seen in a lot of ways as a very positive thing. He also said this. Let's play a little clip.

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WILLIAM NEUMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": One of them was essentially hitting on her, saying he wanted to be with her. And she says that she told him, well, that's great but you have to give me a gift. And he said, well, how much is the gift? And she says she told him $800. And then a lot of drinking happened and at some point she and him went back to the hotel.

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O'BRIEN: So, he sort of lays out what happened. And $800 seems to be that big figure that later, the next morning when she said, OK, I want my $800, then he's like, there's no way. He offered $30 and the thing kind of became a thing and he kicked her out of the room. That's when she got her friends and it became an issue and police were eventually called in. So, what happens next? There are some Secret Service agents who are saying they didn't know that these were prostitutes. I will confess to you, Dan, I laughed out loud when I read that. I literally was like, really?

HUNTSMAN: They're actually escorts not prostitutes.

O'BRIEN: No, no, they weren't drawing the line. The sex worker said I'm not a prostitute. I'm an escort. There's a difference. But some of the Secret Service agents were like, I had no idea that these women were hookers.

BONGINO: Well, actions have consequences. I put out a statement yesterday to my e-mail list and on my Facebook basically saying that, that everyone has to be held responsible for their actions here.

And, like you said, there has to be a degree of common sense. I don't know if ignorance or stupidity is a defense. I'm not sure it is. But everyone should be held accountable who is involved. I know them personally. It's unfortunate, again. But actions have consequences. I think that's the whole -- with the GSA scandal and this going on, people are just looking for some change in government right now and some responsibility taken by their government officials using their tax dollars. This is an unfortunate time.

The Service I think is doing the right thing and handling this well. They're saying the right things. They're embarrassed. There's vigorous investigation. They've taken full, complete responsibility. There's no one running from this, including myself who has been in front of the cameras for three days talking about this.

O'BRIEN: We appreciate that. You've spent a lot of time with us. Dan Bongino is a former Secret Service agent. Thanks for being with us.

BONGINO: Yes, ma'am.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, a heart-stopping video. A car launches right through -- look at that.

CAIN: Man.

BONGINO: Going fast, too. The first thing in its path is a stroller. We'll tell you what happened.

Also, political story that plays to almost all parties -- Kim Kardashian is thinking about getting into politics. You go, girl. Will Cain's playlist is Waylon Jennings.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back, that's off Abby's playlist. Of course it is, because she's so cool.

HUNTSMAN: It's not Will Cain's.

O'BRIEN: I don't typecast people on this show, Abby.

HUNTSMAN: I apologize.

O'BRIEN: Could be. Could be.

Reality star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian is now setting her sights on public office, the town of Glendale, California, in her crosshairs. Buzzing this morning that news wants to run for mayor of that L.A. suburb. Here's a clip from her sister's reality show, "Khloe and Lamar."

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KIM KARDASHIAN, CELEBTRITY: I decided I'm going to run for the mayor of Glendale. I have to buy a house there. You have to are have residency there. I'm going to -- yes, park right here. So Noelle and I are looking into like all the requirements and I'm literally going to have a huge -- she's going to help me with my campaign.

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O'BRIEN: I love it. Noelle apparently is going to help her with her campaign.

HUNTSMAN: This is not too far off from what politics --

O'BRIEN: You scare us, Abby. You scare us. Kim Kardashian is Armenian, and they have a huge population. There is one big problem. Glendale doesn't have an elected mayoral position.

LIZZA: That's a technicality.

(LAUGHTER)

LIZZA: Look at the long range planning. This would take five years.

(CROSSTALK)

HUNTSMAN: You have to take a while to plan these things.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Why this is going to be a great idea. These five city council members hold the job of mayor. They step in and it rotates every single year. Here is why she's brilliant, right? So I think Glendale would be happy to have her. She made $18 million in profit off her 72-day marriage. Hello? Brilliant. She has a net worth of $35 million. She makes $40,000 from keeping up with the Kardashians and various spin-offs. She shows up at an event they pay her up to a quarter of a million dollars. Think how you could fill the Glendale coffers in no time at all.

HUNTSMAN: I think she gets paid for her tweets as well.

O'BRIEN: I bet she does.

CAIN: I like a good reality TV show, a good reality star. But at some point you have to realize we're all being played for the fool. If we acknowledge it, that's one thing. But between getting married, running for mayor, everything is a publicity stunt. Her entire life is a publicity stunt. Lamar's life is a publicity stunt playing for the Mavericks. He didn't really play for the mavericks.

O'BRIEN: You sound outraged. I'm saying she'd bring a lot of money to Glendale. That's my point.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, with gas prices rising and election day coming, a new route is being proposed for that very political Keystone pipeline, we'll talk about that. And President Obama is attacking Governor Mitt Romney's silver spoon and Romney is going after the president's golf clubs. It sounds like a battle over some privileged people. Who's got the right Midas touch for the economy? We'll take a look.

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O'BRIEN: That would be the Everly Brothers.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, DAUGHTER OF JON HUNTSMAN: I love this song.

O'BRIEN: They also made their debut on national television on "American Bandstand." Shout outs throughout the morning about that. First, though, headlines. Christine has a look at that. Good morning again.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Thank you.

New fallout this morning from photos published in the "Los Angeles Times." Photos which appear to show U.S. soldiers dangling the remains of suicide bombers in front of the camera like trophies.

CNN has not independently authenticated these photos. The Taliban now reportedly vowing revenge. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saying this is not who we are. An investigation is already under way.

India is taking its claim as a regional and world power with the successful launch of its longest range nuclear-capable missile. The country's military says it's the most advanced missile so far with a range equivalent to 3,100 miles. That could potentially reach targets in China. Indian officials say the missile, though, is purely for deterrence.

The general election battle is in full swing. Mitt Romney and President Obama trading jabs on the campaign trail. President Obama seemingly is taking aim at Romney in a speech on Wednesday in Ohio.

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Somebody gave me an education. I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Michelle wasn't, but somebody gave us a chance.

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ROMANS: Romney returning the favor from Charlotte, North Carolina.

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MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Even if you like Barack Obama, we can't afford Barack Obama. It's time to get someone that will get this economy going and put the American people back to work.

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ROMANS: That issue of who voters like better, perhaps, weighing on Romney. His popularity is still lagging well behind President Obama in a new CNN/ORC poll, 56 percent have a favorable view of the president compared with 44 percent for Romney.

Still a bright spot for Romney, his numbers have rebounded since the nomination fight has all but ended. Now up from 37 percent back in March.

A new plan has been submitted for the Keystone pipeline expansion project. Pipeline builder Trans Canada is proposing a new route that would avoid Nebraska's aquifer moved to the east of its earlier proposal.

That aquifer is, of course, a major source of drinking water for the state. It's very important for the agricultural industry there. Many Nebraskans feared under the old route, a pipeline burst could contaminate that aquifer.

President Obama had approved a different portion of the old route, but he denied a full permit for the original project. Some ranchers this morning are saying this new route still, they think, is too close to those fragile sand hills.

BP says it has reached a class action settlement in the 2010 Gulf oil spill. The total payout is estimated at $7.8 billion, but BP says the final tally could be even higher.

BP says the deal will cover economic property and medical damage claims. A federal judge now has to grant preliminary approval of the settlement. More claims still pending against Transocean and Haliburton.

An attorney for the JetBlue pilot who suffered a midair meltdown on a flight last month says the pilot is planning an insanity defense.

Captain Clayton Osbon is charged with disrupting a New York to Las Vegas flight last month forcing it to make an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas.

Osbon allegedly left the cockpit, screaming about religion and terrorists, you'll recall, became enraged when the first officer locked him out of the cockpit.

Today's "A.M. House Call," New York City considering a new policy for smoking inside apartments. Proposed legislation would require residential buildings to develop written rules on smoking both inside and outside.

That would include lobbies, courtyards, even individual apartments. New York City Mayor Bloomberg says he has no intention of an outright ban on smoking. He says, quote, "if you want to smoke, I think you have a right to do so, but it kills you."

New evidence that a bad night's sleep is bad for your health. A new study reveals people who sleep fewer than five hours a night up their risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers studied 21 healthy volunteers for almost six weeks. Their diet, physical and their sleep was strictly controlled. For three of those weeks they were allowed only about 5-1/2 hours of sleep.

Researchers say what happened was starting. Blood sugar levels increased after meals and at the same time, their metabolic rate slowed by 8 percent. Researchers say that could mean gaining 10 to 12 pounds over a year.

All right, check out this terrifying surveillance video of a woman in a Toyota Camry, barrelling right through the front doors of a packed public supermarket in Palm Coast, Florida. The video is disturbing to watch.

Four people were sitting on a bench just inside the exit doors Saturday morning when 76-year-old Thelma Wagenhoffer came crashing through. First thing she hit was a baby stroller.

The infant was thrown about 50 feet in the air and miraculously only suffered minor injuries. Ten people were hurt, one in critical condition this morning.

An 83-year-old man who wound up pinned beneath Thelma's car. Look at the highlight. You can see quick-thinking customers lifting the car off the elderly man.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was probably about 10 or 12 guys that actually had the -- you know, had the smarts it to actually go over and they lifted up the car. I mean acres crane couldn't have lifted it up any quicker.

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ROMANS: Police say the driver may have hit the gas accidentally while trying the break. She's been charged, Soledad, with reckless driving. O'BRIEN: Wow, wow! It's incredible. One person, critical condition. You see that almost direct hit from that stroller -- look at that and all those folks sitting on that bench. That's just stunning that she didn't take out five or six people and didn't kill a baby. All right, Christine. Thank you.

For the first time in 10 years, Congress is holding a congressional hearing on the issue of racial profiling in this country. Those hearings will be led by Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin.

The panel heard fascinating testimony about the problems that still exist including from an African-American police chief from California on some of the lessons that he has had to teach his son. Listen.

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RONALD DAVIS, CHIEF OF POLICE, CITY OF EAST PALO ALTO: As I mentioned earlier, I'm a father of three. I have a 14-year-old boy, named Glenn.

And even though I'm a police chief with over 27 years experience, I know that when I teach my son, Glenn, how to drive. must also to teach him what to do when stopped by the police, a mandatory course, by the way, for young men of color in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Joining us this morning is Illinois Democrat and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin with us. It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us. We certainly appreciate it.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), ASSISTANT MAJORITY LEADER: Good to be with you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: You begin your remarks, talking about sort of the first time the hearings were held 10 years ago. Why do you think now is the right time to hold these hearings?

DURBIN: Well, there are several things have happened in the past 10 years. We are still struggling with the issue of race. The Trayvon Martin case was a clear illustration of that. It is something that has haunted America since its creation.

But we're also struggling with issues of ethnic identity. The Arizona law, which I think frankly went too far, suggested profiling those who appeared to be Hispanic or sounded Hispanic.

Now we have issues involving Muslim-Americans since 9/11. There were many in the hearing room at the Senate Judiciary Committee. The last point, Soledad, is that 49 states now have concealed carry laws like Florida.

Unfortunately, many people armed do not have the right judgment to decide who is a threat and who isn't. It brings up the whole issue of profiling from a different perspective.

O'BRIEN: So the bill is called the "End Racial Profiling Act" and it would do a couple of things. I'll lay out some of them. Prohibit racial profiling by law enforcement, law enforcement training and also data collections so that they could track profiling. Will Cain, do you want to jump in?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Senator Durbin. I just heard you talk about the Arizona law and how it potentially profiles along Latino lines and how airports profile along Muslim lines.

You said they go too far, too far suggesting that maybe sometimes it is appropriate to racially profile. You can just go too far so where is the line? What is too far? Is it ever appropriate to racially profile?

DURBIN: If you are dealing with a suspect, a description that includes some racial characteristics or other things, of course, law enforcement needs to use that information to keep us safe.

When you decide to pull overall blacks or all Hispanics in the highways or many of them, you really are engaged in good law enforcement.

In Illinois, the state police over a six-year period of time, we found that they were two to four times more likely to pulled over if you were Hispanic or black and yet when it came to actual criminal contraband in the cars, whites were more like likely to have that than blacks or Hispanics. It isn't good law enforcement to use racial profiling.

O'BRIEN: Abby?

HUNTSMAN: Senator Durbin, this is Abby Huntsman here. We've seen that the racial profiling has been -- brought up so much lately because of the Trayvon Martin case.

I'm wondering why has it taken this long to bring something to the table like this and do you think if it is passed, will it really make a difference? How much will it change?

DURBIN: If you go back to the earliest days of America, the founding fathers were wrestling with basic issues, race, religion, gender. What are the issues we're wrestling with today, race, religion and gender?

This is something that haunts a democracy and republic, to try to strike the right balance of giving us our freedom, but still keeping us safe. Of course, in this society when more and more people are carrying firearms and there's more and more reporting of things that are happening, we are more sensitized to racial profiling in a modern America.

O'BRIEN: There are proponents, sir, as you well know. Frank Gale testified as well. He's the national second vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, which is the nation's biggest law enforcement association. Here is what he had to say about this bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANK GALE, NATIONAL SECOND VICE PRESIDENT, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: This bill provides a solution to a problem that does not exist unless one believes that the problem to be solved that our nation's law enforcement officers are badly racist and their training is based in practicing racism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: He says, listen, you're talking about a problem that doesn't exist. I think if we even look specifically at the Trayvon Martin case. At the end of the day, a lot of the question there is, was it racial profiling?

I mean, there's no dispute over whether Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. It's did he racially profile that young man? That's the $64 million question. How are you going to be able to get into that kind of issue with a bill?

DURBIN: Well, when you ask the American people whether racial profiling exists and whether it's wrong, the vast majority say, yes. Even white Americans acknowledge that reality.

Secondly, let me say to Officer Gale what I said at the hearing. I have the highest respect for men and women who put a badge on every morning and risk their lives to keep me safe, my neighborhood safe and my family safe.

But I do not believe they're racist. But I do believe as Chief Davis said that even African-American policemen and chiefs of police are inclined toward prejudice that they have to fight back and say that's not good law enforcement.

Don't just assume because of a color or ethnic background that a person should be suspect. Let's be more specific and let's use good law enforcement technique.

O'BRIEN: Senator Dick Durbin joining us this morning. It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

DURBIN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a CNN exclusive in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case. Got to take a serious look at race and the law. Blacks and whites both saying it is not a level playing field.

Who is Mitt Romney's number one choice for VP? We don't really know, but we know -- Kim Kardashian. No, I don't believe so. We know who the people would like to see him pick as a number one choice for VP. We leave you with Abby's playlist, Kenny Chesney "Summertime."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Simple Song off Ryan's playlist. You like that? What?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a huge endorsement.

O'BRIEN: It was. I had a late night last night. I'm a little tired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talk to us some more last night.

O'BRIEN: I went to see jazz at Lincoln Center. Paul Simon. It was awesome. I was up a little late. That was two thumbs up. Ryan, great choice.

CAIN: Very insecure about our picks.

O'BRIEN: Clearly, clearly. Let's talk about Mitt Romney and it looks like he's grabbing the GOP nomination. So everybody is talking about who could potentially be his running mate. He won't say.

But there is a new CNN poll that reveals Republican voters would prefer and if you take a look at that list right there. The number one pick is the former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, at 26 percent of the vote.

That surprises me only because it's not a name that has come up in some of the conversations we've been having over and over again. Obviously, Rick Santorum is second. His name has come up.

Chris Christie, his name has come up since the get go at 14 percent, tied with Marco Rubio at 14 percent. Democrats, believe it or not, are wrestling with their own VP rumors. Also there's a wrestle that's gone on for a while.

Some people are wondering if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would replace the current vice president, Joe Biden, on the 2012 ticket if President Obama starts running behind former Governor Romney. Mrs. Clinton responded to the notion on CNN's "SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": If the president of the United States says, Madam Secretary, I need you on the ticket this year in order to beat Romney. Are you ready to run as his vice presidential running mate?

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: That is not going to happen. That's like saying if the Olympic Committee called you up and said are you ready to run the marathon, would you accept? Well, it's not going to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: But you might say yes, though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not going to happen. Come on. It's fun to talk about. It's really, really not going to happen.

O'BRIEN: OK. But let's say it's not April. Let's say we're going into October or maybe September, August. It looks as if it's getting so close, Democrats are very, very worried and they need to do something that will engage the voters, bring people out in November.

RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: Why is Hillary Clinton the answer to that problem?

O'BRIEN: You don't think that that would solve a lot of problems?

HUNTSMAN: I think she would add a lot of excitement.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

HUNTSMAN: She's a woman that we've seen talked about a lot this election cycle. I think she would bring that excitement. She's shown she's done a fabulous job as secretary of state. She's smart. She's a hard worker.

O'BRIEN: I agree, reengage the conversation, at very least. I'm taking back my support for your song.

LIZZA: Independent women are key. Look, does the Obama campaign want to spend a month, two months on Hillary Clinton and the country talking about her and her long record?

Hillary Clinton right now is incredibly popular, looks wonderful, is up on a pedestal because she's not in the limelight as soon as these guys jump into the limelight a lot of that change.

O'BRIEN: Will Cain is being scarily silent.

CAIN: I think that we over estimate the excitement factor on vice presidential picks despite our experience to Sarah Palin four years ago. So when we take the conversation back to Mitt Romney as well that's what some of the polls that we show that the voters might want to see Condoleezza Rice that's not going to happen either. You pick vice presidential candidates for specific --

O'BRIEN: Who do you pick then?

CAIN: Rob Portman is boring just like Mitt Romney. You want Ohio. You need to win Ohio.

O'BRIEN: OK, so your pick is Rob Portman?

HUNTSMAN: It's going to be the most calculated pick we've ever seen.

O'BRIEN: Who would your pick going to be?

HUNTSMAN: I was going to say Rob Portman as well.

CAIN: What about Jon Huntsman? HUNTSMAN: I think he's wonderful, but I don't think the Romney team is going to go there if I have to quote the record saying that. I think Rob Portman would be a safe choice. He's in a swing state, has a great record. The only problem is that he was head of Bush's budget. That might cause some problems.

LIZZA: I think the first rule is do no harm. Romney has a chance to win this race. It will be a close race to the end. He's goings do something safe. It's not going to like Palin in 2008. He's going to learn from that experience.

CAIN: Who is that?

O'BRIEN: Condoleezza Rice. The voters have spoken, Condoleezza Rice.

LIZZA: That's who is the person whose name you reckon this list.

O'BRIEN: I'm really taking back support of your song now.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, a CNN exclusive, some surprising results in a poll that asks blacks and whites whether police treat them equally.

And if you're about to head to work, you don't have to miss the rest of the show. Check us out on our live blog cnn.com/startingpoint. Will's playlist, Rolling Stones.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. The Trayvon Martin shooting case will be the topic of discussion at two community meetings tonight. One is being held in Sanford, Florida, the other in Tampa, Florida. The issue of racial profiling will be on the minds of those that believe that the teenager was targeted because of his race.

If a new "National Journal" poll is any indication, equal treatment by the police isn't a black versus white issue. Both races agree. Blacks and whites are not treated the same by the police in the poll.

The poll found that 84 percent of blacks and 51 percent of whites share that view. Joining us this morning to talk about this and the survey's other findings is "National Journal" editorial director, CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein.

It's nice to see you, Ron. Any big surprise? What was your biggest shocker out of this poll because I thought some of the research in this was really fascinating?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, we're releasing this poll a little later this morning. It's part of the kickoff of a multi-year project we're doing in partnership with the University of Phoenix exploring how changing demography is really changing everything, the economy, culture, politics. I think what was surprising to me about this poll was the sense of Americans coming together and pulling apart. On the one hand the poll documents as the country because more diverse, daily contact among people of different races is clearly increasing.

A majority of African-Americans, Hispanic, and whites all say that they have at least some friends of other races. You get up to two-thirds of people under 29.

On the other hand as you point out, there's still a lot of divergence on issues relating to the role of government and persistence of prejudice in particular.

O'BRIEN: I think there was underlying tone about whether we're optimistic where it is heading or whether we're pessimistic and a lot of that depends on your race. Let's look at these stats.

For example, when the question was, have we made the changes needed to give equal rights? When you ask whites that, 46 percent say yes. Blacks only 15 percent say yes that those changes have been made.

Hispanics and a lot of polling Hispanics are in the middle at 21 percent. When they say, have we made the changes needed to give equal rights and the answer is no, no changes, whites 44 percent, blacks 76 percent exact flip from the previous question and Hispanics at 74 percent. How do you interpret those stats?

BROWNSTEIN: That really flows from I think what I mentioning a moment ago. We ask people what explains the continuing education and economical gaps between African-Americans and why it's on one hand or Hispanics and whites on the other.

There was a lot of convergence on a lot of explanations with one big difference. A majority of African-Americans and Hispanics still say racial prejudice and discrimination is a reason for income an educational gaps. Only a quarter of whites agree.

From that flows a very different assessment about whether the country in effect has done enough to provide equal opportunity. That's a big divide. If you look at it even more broadly, we asked people what do they think is impact on the country of this rapid demographic change?

As you know, we're up to over a third of the country now non- white will be majority non-white in the under 18 population in this decade. African-Americans and Hispanics are much more positive on the impact of that than white who are much more ambivalent and divided.

O'BRIEN: Yes, in fact, when the question is does it help America or hurt America, take a look at those numbers. Growth in the minority population and I think -- what year are we looking at now, 2019 or something that it will be majority minority?

O'BRIEN: It will be majority minority in under 18 population in this decade in all likelihood for overall population not until 2040. The under 18 population, the future is now. We're talking about majority/minority nation probably around 2020.

O'BRIEN: Let me pop up that graph. The question is does this help America or hurt America. Look at the hurt America statistics, 29 percent of whites say it hurts America, 11 percent of blacks say it hurts America, Hispanics 20 percent.

Does it benefit America? Massive change in what our country is going to look at 22 percent say it benefits America, 47 percent of Hispanics. So the populations that are booming higher, whites at 22 percent. I don't read that optimistically. What do you think?

BROWNSTEIN: That's right. This is consistent with other polling that we and others have done. There is enormous ambivalence in the white community about the level of change we're living through. This is the most profound demographic change we've begun gone through since the melting pot generation.

We are up past 36 percent. The under 18 population is changing even faster. If you look there are segments of the white community, older whites, blue collar whites, who are uneasy about this.

One point to note is we see a sharp political divide along that line. Whites comfortable with the change are more positive toward Obama than whites uncomfortable with the change. They lead more toward the Republicans.

O'BRIEN: That's why we're going to talk about this massive survey from the "National Journal" as we head to the general election. Ron Brownstein, always nice to see you. Thanks.

Still ahead on "STARTING POINT," massive catch, a gigantic great white wider than their boat. And we'll talk about Dick Clark's incredible legacy. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

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