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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Officials Warn of Continued Terrorists Plots against U.S.; Delta Airlines Buys Oil Refinery; Rupert Murdoch Found Unfit to Run his News Company by British Parliament; Report: Murdoch "Deliberately Misled"; Playing Politics With Bin Laden; Romney Backpedals On Bin Laden; Drone Strikes Justified; Edwards Sex Tape Will Play Role; Study: More Newborns Hooked On Painkillers; "Meat Glue" Poses Health Risk; Party Animal Plummets; Krugman: We're In A Depression; Vice President Christie?; Baseball's "Iron Man" Gives Back

Aired May 1, 2012 - 06:59   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: Hey, good morning, ladies. Our "Starting Point" this morning, al Qaeda's attack plans. They were found hidden in pornography. And there are reports of a new threat maybe on the one-year anniversary of Osama Bin Laden's death.

Terrorists wearing body bombs trying to board flights. So, just how safe are we? We're going to talk this morning with New York City Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly.

May Day protests around the world. Occupy Wall Street trying to regroup calling for a day without the 99 percent, and they're hoping for a nationwide disruption.

Plus, hall of famer, Cal Ripken Jr., many credit him with saving baseball after the 1994 strike. Now, he's helping rebuild Joplin after those devastating tornadoes.

It's Tuesday, May 1st, and "Starting Point" begins right now.

Welcome, everybody. Breaking news to get to first, Rupert Murdoch and his media empire deliberately misled the British parliament about the scope of that phone hacking scandal at the now defunct "News of the World" tabloid. That is a finding that has just come in from a committee of lawmakers in London.

Their report was released in the last hour and that concludes, quote, "The behavior of the news international certain witnesses in the affair demonstrated contempt for a system in the most blatant fashion." Lawmakers went on saying Rupert Murdoch is, quote, "not a fit and proper person to run an international company," devastating findings there, and they could prompt British regulators to force Murdoch to sell his controlling stake in British Sky Broadcasting. We'll have more straight ahead. But we begin with that breaking news.

Also today there are fears that Al Qaeda could try to explode U.S. bound planes with explosives hidden inside the bodies of terrorists. The warning comes on the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden. Reports in America and the Middle East have been stepped up as a result. This as we get new intelligence with hints at potential and future Al Qaeda threats. German agents who nabbed an Al Qaeda operative last year found a memory chip in his underwear. First it looked like it was a pornographic movie, but what they found was actual future operations drawn up some of Al Qaeda's, drawn up by some of Al Qaeda's most senior operatives. The plans include hijacking a cruise ship, dressing the passengers in orange jumpsuits to mimic the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

This morning we're joined by New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to talk about this and much more. It's nice to see you. When you hear about threats like this, a consistent drip, drip, drip of what's happening in the world and what could impact us here, how does that change how New York law enforcement does its job, because I know it's not just police protection? You're also very heavily involved in terror protection as well.

RAY KELLY, NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER: It doesn't change it very much at all. We think that certainly core Al Qaeda has been significantly degraded I think to a large extent to the predator attacks, but these types of findings show has they are still very much functioning. We're certainly concerned about Al Qaeda surrogates in Somalia, in Maghreb, in other parts of Africa. And we're concerned of course about the lone wolves. The last three people we've arrested for terrorism here have been lone wolves, in essence, although Al Faisal Shahzad did go to Pakistan for training. We need a 360-degree perimeter, and Al Qaeda and the terrorist threat is still very much alive.

Is there one scenario that concerns you the most. For example, we mentioned the cruise ship scenario, a solo attack in Mumbai they were talking about. ABC was reporting the bombs they would implant inside of people that could detonate, maybe those people would be able to make it through airport screening devices. There's one version that's most concerning.

KELLY: There's lots of threats out there. Obviously we're concerned about nuclear threat, nuclear event the thing that concerns us the most. But the information about planting bombs inside people the intelligence community has been looking at that for a while.

O'BRIEN: It's new to us and not new to you.

KELLY: There's a bomb maker in Yemen has been talked about, even ham al asiri. I'm certainly the U.S. targeted him but all indications are he's still very much alive and very inventive. So it's the type of thing that the intelligence committee has been looking at for a while, and obviously we have to be concerned with it.

O'BRIEN: One of the things you hear on that chip they found according to Nic Robertson who is reporting a story for us is all the complaining that Osama bin Laden does on about the drones, how effective the drones have been, how concerned he is about the drones. And I know there are pilot programs to try to get more drones in not only universities but cities as well. Do we have drones in this city? Using drones more in the city something you want to do? KELLY: No, we are not. Police agencies in other parts of the country, where there's more open areas, they're using them, we're not using them. Certainly the drone attacks have been extremely effective and I think the administration deserves a lot of credit for that.

O'BRIEN: They're not just checks for recording information but gathering intelligence, too.

KELLY: Right, exactly. You know, they're monitoring demonstrations that sort of thing in other parts of the country but we're not using them in New York City.

O'BRIEN: Yesterday we're reporting that one world trade center is taller than the empire state building because they attached the beam, the rest of the structure is not there yet but it's difficult to say now it's a toll. Do you worry what we've done is rebuilt a big giant target in the heart of the financial district?

KELLY: There's no other building in the world I believe that's built like world trade center one. It has cost a lot of money largely because of the security aspects of the construction. So it is a very powerfully built structure.

But sure, we're concerned about a lot of targets. We have a lot of iconic targets in New York City. We know New York is the number one target in the United States for terrorism. The intelligence community tells us we have 14 plots against the city since 9/11. We are vigilant. We have over 1,000 police officers every day devoted to our counterterrorism efforts. We feel we have to, as a time when we're down in head count we still make the major commitment, because New York is still at risk of a terrorist attack.

O'BRIEN: When the new building is built, you see the problem TSA at airports. People want security but don't want to wait to be individually scanned and every time a grandmother is set aside people get annoyed. How could put them all into a building to eliminate it being a target?

KELLY: We hope to use the sort of technology that is emerging. We have a campus security plan for that whole area that will hopefully allow people who are known to the technology so to speak to be able to get in with relative ease. But yes, our world has changed. We're all going to be subjected to a lot more security checks. Unfortunately that's the world in which we live.

O'BRIEN: One last question before you go, are you going to run for mayor?

KELLY: I have no plans to run for elected office.

O'BRIEN: All right, that sounds definitive. Nice to see you, Commissioner Ray Kelly, thank you.

KELLY: Thank you for having me.

O'BRIEN: We've got to get to other headlines this morning. Christine has those. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. The Occupy protest movement gearing up for nationwide protest this morning on May Day. Occupiers are hoping to reenergize by holding a day without the 99 percent, a general strike that means no work, no school, no shopping, and no banking. May Day demonstrations are planned in more than 100 cities across the U.S.

Last night things turned ugly in San Francisco when a few protesters threw paint and broke windows at a police station and vandalized cars. Occupy members say the man who did the damage was not a member of their group.

Police searching for a man who broke into a home and sexually assaulted three young sisters. The girls are reportedly six, eight and 10 years old. They live in Tucson, Arizona. It's not clear if the assaults might be related to the disappearance of six-year-old Isabel Celis. She vanished ten days ago. She lived about 10 miles away from yesterday's sexual assault.

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn finds out today whether a civil suit brought against him by a New York City hotel maid will be heard. The maid accused him of sexual assault last year, but the criminal case was tossed out.

The Department of Homeland Security is launching its own investigation in the Secret Service prostitution scandal. Until now the only investigation being conducted was by the Secret Service itself. Twelve agents and 12 members of the military are accused of bringing prostitutes to their hotel two days before the president's arrival in Columbia for a summit last month. Nine agents have already resigned or been forced out.

O'BRIEN: Christine, thank you.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Delta Airlines taking action to cut down on fuel cost. Does that mean we'll pay less for our airplane tickets? We certainly hope so.

Also, our "Get Real" this morning, what were they thinking? A couple arrested for towing their grandfather behind an SUV in a toy car. We'll talk more about that with our panel, John Fugelsang, Will Cain, and Ryan Lizza join us right now.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Just Will Cain, just me.

O'BRIEN: You're watching STARTING POINT. Where is the rest of the gang? What happened?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: No, I have not had Duran, Duran, but I can sing along with the Duran Duran song because that's "Notorious" taking me right back to high school. Tricia Cottas, you could see our entire playlist on our website CNN.com/startingpoint. Tricia's kids are like 12-year- olds, I'm like oh my god, mom, you're mentioned Duran, Duran. Minding your business this morning, Delta getting into the oil refinery business. Christine went to Traynor, Philadelphia. It makes a lot of sense.

ROMANS: It's either outlandish or brilliant. You have an airline that wants to buy an oil refinery. It runs on jet fuel and needs to secure the supplies. By buying a refinery it secured 80 percent of its jet fuel needs, cutting out the middlemen. We've been hearing rumbles about this, sounded outlandish but analysts say it's starting to make more sense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we first heard about it two months ago I said no way in the world.

ROMANS: Tell me about the refinery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're saying we're tired of paying $10 or more over the price of crude which is very expensive for jet fuel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So Delta secured the delivery network for jet fuel reaching throughout the northeast including New York's JFK and LaGuardia. Price tag $150 to Conoco Phillips, the owner.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about that number, because that's very steep. When do they start taking back that $150 million. Does it happen quickly?

ROMANS: Let say this -- 1777 is about $20 million. By buying the airplane they secure the fuel for the airplanes. This is a strategic move and they get $30 million from Pennsylvania for job creation and will put another $100 million into it because they're trying to maximize the jet fuel. Diesel and gasoline will come out of the refinery, they don't need it. They will trade it in for jet fuel.

CAIN: What does Delta know about running an oil refinery?

ROMANS: They have to hire the people to do it. It's called innovative. For years companies got out of anything that wasn't their core business.

O'BRIEN: This is kind of the Warren Buffett philosophy. You don't just own the product, you own the transportation that brings the product, you can own the entire chain and cut out the middleman and in the long run actually you make and save money.

ROMANS: They're hoping to make money, but it might be more about just the access because there's a bigger issue here, the northeast. In the northeast there's some funky stuff going on with refineries. They're geared to take the European and North African crude. Since Libya last year the crude has risen $20, $30 a barrel. Some of the refineries are using $1 million a day. They need to make sure no more refineries are shut down. Half of the refineries are could be shut down in the northeast. Delta needs to make sure there is more jet fuel to LaGuardia.

O'BRIEN: At the end of the day, does it save us money? Do I as a frequent Delta flyer, my Atlanta-New York jaunts, will I see a discount, money saved?

ROMANS: It will prevent you from having to pit an awful lot more when there's a shortage or spike in jet fuel courts. It's not about you getting a break, it's about you not getting -- you know, I'm not going to use the word. It's about you getting on the plane, right.

O'BRIEN: Right.

ROMANS: It's wondering whether other airlines follow suit.

JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: Are other business, U.S. military getting into the refining game and how much are they going to charge us for head cones?

ROMANS: And how many of my baggage fees to do this deal. It's almost the Chinese model. They still have to buy the oil but --

O'BRIEN: Which is not a small thing at all.

ROMANS: No but this is refining it where they need it. It's like the pizza delivery driver buys the gasoline station for delivering a pizza because he needs to get it delivered. It really is an interesting gambit

O'BRIEN: Thank you, Christine.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, Rupert Murdoch has been found unfit to run a major international company. Big question now, is he going to be forced to step down from his media empire since he does run a major international company? And a big "Get Real" to a couple who decided to tow their seven-year-old granddaughter behind an SUV. Didn't work so well pretty much for anyone at all. Here's Will Cain playlist, John Cruz.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: OK, that's Tom Wait's "Jockey Full of Bourbon."

FUGELSANG: You missed the soothing vocals.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Too slow. Can I get some gospel and get people moving. Yes, a little slow.

FUGELSANG: I have some gospel.

O'BRIEN: OK, let's play that.

Our "Get Real" this morning. Every day I have my favorite story, not always a "Get Real," but usually it is, and it is no different today we talk about two Florida grandparents from Sarasota, Florida, now under arrest because they took their granddaughter on kind of a wild ride, Paul and Gelinde Berloni accused of strapping their seven- year-old granddaughter to the SUV using a dog leash and dragged her up and down the road giving her joy rides. She was wearing a swimsuit, nothing protective.

FUGELSANG: Well, it is Florida.

O'BRIEN: Not exactly a shocker when I tell you that alcohol was involved, in fact when asked by the reporter from the FOX 13 news she said yes, if they had some drinks, yes, we did, this is what Mrs. Berloni, "It's a Sunday afternoon h a few beers no, big deal, I didn't think." You'd be wrong. Grandfather not even supposed to be driving. He had a revoked license because of a dui they had ten years ago.

Anyway, now in jail, trying to get the $850 to get out of jail. They've been charged with felony child cruelty. The kid is back with her father. Apparently he's really mad, the grandmother Ms. Berloni shing "She was all woot, woot, woot, the whole time anyway." Now she has no supervised conduct with her granddaughter, not allowed to drink.

CAIN: The child's OK? Now we can joke about it?

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Yes. Sorry, did I leave that out?

(CROSSTALK)

FUGELSANG: Have they been offered a reality show yet?

O'BRIEN: That would be a really good idea.

FUGELSANG: Can you imagine him setting the beer down going "I've got a great idea."

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Still ahead we've not done enough to save the economy, that's what Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman says. He's got one piece of advice for the government to turn it around. He's going to join us and tell us what it is.

Plus some breaking news, Rupert Murdoch found unfit to run his companies. We'll bring you live to London with developing details.

And if "pink slime: was a phrase that disturbed you, wait until you hear about meat glue. Anybody know what that is?

CAIN: It's great.

O'BRIEN: And you might be paying even more of it because of meat glue. We'll tell what you it is straight ahead on STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Breaking news for you this morning, Rupert Murdoch "not fit and proper person to run a major international company," that's a quote, and that's what British lawmakers investigating the phone hacking scandal at his British tabloid "News of the World" are now reporting. Dan Rivers listened to that report in parliament as it was released and joins us this morning. Dan, good morning.

DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning. Yes, that is certainly the paragraph that is going to capture a lot of the headlines here in the U.K. Here is the report as you say, concluding on page 70 that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit and proper person to have the stewardship of an international company. It was drawn up by a group of politicians. They didn't agree on that paragraph. It was a narrow majority but they agreed on the other main points the editor of "News of the World" Colin Myer, Tom Crohn, and Les Hinton all misled them when they gave evidence earlier on that they misled parliament, that's a serious charge.

The report will be put before the house of commons, probably vote it through unanimously and no one knows what will happen then. It's possible they'd be called to apologize in person which hasn't happened since the 1950s. It's a big, big deal, but also this criticism of Rupert and James Murdoch, withering criticism about their grip on this situation or lack of grip on the phone hacking situation that will have big knock-on news reports in the U.S.

O'BRIEN: Dan, part of this report said that Rupert Murdoch "exhibited willful blindness" to what was going on in his public's publications. In addition to an apology, which takes you some steps, the bigger question is what happens to this media empire if he's deemed to be unfit to run it?

RIVERS: Well, absolutely. Shareholders are not going to be too impressed with this, to put it mildly. It's particularly damning for their attempt to take over the B-Sky-B here. They withdrew from that bid and the regulator, they still hold 39 percent of company. The regulators here will decide whether the Murdochs are really fit and proper people to have a license to broadcast in this country. And this is going to be another piece of damning evidence that will be taken into account. So it is very bad news for New Corp. globally and particularly for Rupert and James Murdoch's reputation, an absolutely blistering broadside attack from a group of politicians here in London.

O'BRIEN: Dan Rivers for us this morning. Dan, thanks. Let's get right to Christine. She's got headlines this morning. Hi, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again, Soledad.

On the one year anniversary of Navy SEALs killing Osama Bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader's name being heard loud and clear in election politics.

The White House is marking the anniversary by pumping the president's role in that raid that killed him and questioning whether Mitt Romney would have even ordered the mission in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You would have given the order, Governor?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, of course, even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I said that I'd go after Bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him, and I did. If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they'd do something else, then I'd go ahead and let them explain it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Romney will be in New York today visiting a firehouse with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani to mark the anniversary of Bin Laden's demise.

For the first time, the Obama administration is publicly justifying the use of drone strikes on suspected terrorists. The president's top terrorism adviser, John Brennan said, the strikes are carefully vented.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: As President Obama said here five years ago, if another nation cannot or will not take action, we will. And it is an unfortunate fact that to save many innocent lives, we are sometimes obliged to take lives. The lives of terrorists who seek to murder our fellow citizens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Brennan also voiced concern that as more countries obtain drone technology, they might use it against the U.S.

A sex tape John Edwards recorded with his mistress, Rielle Hunter will play a role in Edwards' trial. The jurors will not be able to see that tape, just hear testimony about it.

Edwards' lawyer say former aide, Andrew Young stole this tape from Hunted and tried to sell it or use it to threaten Edwards as an attempt to cover up as the affair unravelled.

Meanwhile, Young's wife, Cheri, is due back on the stand after a gun trenching day on the witness stand. She broke down in tears as she testified how the former senator asked her family to hide the affair with Hunter for the good of the country.

Your "A.M. House Call" this morning the numbers of babies born addicted to pain killers has tripled in 10 years to about one born every hour in the U.S.

That's according to a new study in the "Journal of the American Medical Association." It finds that more pregnant women are now using prescription pain killers while pregnant, which results in low birth weight and seizures among other issues. Experts speculate many women don't realize the effects of prescription drugs since they are legal.

Goodbye pink slime. Hello meat glue, the latest food product causing health concerns. Meat glue is the chemical powder that glues scraps and meat together. For example, hunks of stew meat can be shaped to look like fillet minion.

The USDA list meat glue as safe to eat, but experts say the problem is that the outside of meat is exposed to a lot of bacteria. That bacteria traditionally is killed by cooking. But when the outside meat is shaped into the inside of a stake it doesn't get fully cooked and that puts diners at risk of E. Coli.

A man falls 60 feet off of a scaffolding, amazingly survived. It happened at the Kreenfield Music Festival in Sydney, Australia. Police say the man snuck passed security and climbed up the scaffolding.

Witnesses say he gave them a thumbs up from the top. The guy was taken to the hospital. Apparently, he discharged himself, Soledad and then went right back to the party.

O'BRIEN: Wow.

ROMANS: And he's got the tape for the world to see.

O'BRIEN: Glad to hear he's fine. He's doing just fine.

This year's big debate a question is have we done the right thing by our economy or did we not when we should have. Should we be spending more money to get people back to work or should we be cutting back?

Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman, uses his columns in "The New York Times" to push his assertion that we did not do enough and the government should be doing more in putting more money into the economy.

He has a new book now. It's called the "End This Depression Now!" He is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. It's nice to see you. It's nice to have you with us this morning. Appreciate you here.

This book looks forward and not backward. If that's driving you crazy you can take it out. So what should we do now? I mean, we have a little analysis in the past. What should we be doing now to fix the economy?

PAUL KRUGMAN, NOBEL PRIZE WINNING ECONOMIST: OK, if you ask what is the biggest drag on the economy right now? The private sector is actually coming back though not as fast we'd like.

But we're back to about the same number of private sector jobs that we had when Barack Obama was sworn in as president, but the public sector has been cutting back. O'BRIEN: Government jobs.

KRUGMAN: We've been laying off lots and lots of works at the state and local level because they're not getting the aid from the government they should.

If we were to go back to this kind of normal growth, just get back to the number of people on normal bases we'd be employing at the state and local level, a lot of them school teachers, we have well over a million additional jobs right in the public sector.

If we went back to doing all of the road repair stuff that's been postponed because of budget cuts, we'd be adding several hundred billion dollars of purchasing power to the economy.

And that would almost certainly be enough to get unemployment below 7 percent, to get this economy going. So it's just reverse this misguided, budget cutting is fine, but not when you're in a depression which I say we are.

Reverts this misguided budget cutting we've done the last few years, get the spending back up there, get the economy back on track then we can talk about deficits after that.

O'BRIEN: Why do you say depression when many people say no, it's a recession.

KRUGMAN: No, a recession is when things are heading down. Depression is when things are down and you have ups and downs, but it stays depressed. So the great depression is a long period, which included some periods that were called economic recoveries and some periods that were recessions.

But it was lousy the whole way. That's the case right now. It's not as bad as the '30s, that's not much of a standard, but it's pretty terrible. So I've been calling it -- sometimes I call this the lesser depression.

That was the great depression. This is the lesser one. But it's an awful situation and it's importantly it's a time when usual rules don't apply to the economy.

O'BRIEN: But you're talking about a political year. You're also talking about a time when people are looking at the debt crisis saying have you lost your mind? All that spending really is going to go back and affect our debt crisis?

KRUGMAN: The question you ask is what debt crisis? Right, that debt crisis -- yes, there is an issue about long-term U.S. government debt, but the markets don't think we have a problem with borrowing right now.

The markets will need to lend U.S. government money at record low interest rates actually adjusted for inflation. They're willing to pay the U.S. government to keep their money.

So it's also very important to understand that slashing spending under these conditions doesn't even help your debt problems.

Because it shrinks the economy, it shrinks the revenue base and hurts the long run of the economy and it's pretty strong evidence that slashing spending at a time like this actually makes your long run debt problem worse not better.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: If not now, when? When is the appropriate time to address our budget deficits? When is the appropriate time to put spending cuts in place? When is the appropriate time to develop a plan to get responsible?

KRUGMAN: Develop a plan you should always do if you can.

CAIN: Well, we don't.

KRUGMAN: But implementing it now is counterproductive. The time is actually pretty straightforward. Once the private sector has come back enough so that you don't need this government support, once, which pretty much technically once we get to the point where the Federal Reserve would probably start raising interest rates.

Because we're worried about the economy overheating then you can cut back on government spending and offset that by having the fed not raise interest rates. But that's -- realistically that's probably what happens when unemployment get below 7 percent.

CAIN: If I accepted your premise, Professor Krugman, and I will for the sake of this conversation that's when we should begin our cutting measures, is there anything in our history suggests we have, that we ever tackled these problems?

KRUGMAN: Yes, look, think about Social Security, we actually had a major pretty costly -- cost saving revenue increase in measure back in the early '80s. We actually did preserve the system for a long period. Technical reasons why it's fallen short, but we actually took a lot of action.

And this whole notion once you increase spending you never bring it back, the experience of the last three years is a perfect reputation. We have a short inadequate stimulus that went away and in fact, right now, government spending in many areas is below what it was relative to the economy.

What it was before the crisis so you've just seen a perfect demonstration that this is not a ratchet that increase in government spending can be a temporary thing and yet people talk knowingly, but we just did.

O'BRIEN: Paul Krugman, the book is called "End This Depression Now." Thanks for talking with us. We certainly appreciate it.

KRUGMAN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie singing a new tune about a vice presidential run? We'll talk about that. Plus the softer side of baseball's ironman, Cal Ripken, Jr. is going to join us. We'll tell you how he's helping to rebuild Joplin, Missouri after the devastating tornadoes there.>

From cows to Barry White, theme from Together Brothers. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: That song cracks me up, "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink" off of Will Cain's playlist, Merle Haggard. We have grown accustomed to New Jersey Governor Christ Christie shutting down any thoughts that he should run for president or even vice president this year. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Can you imagine? I mean, the person who picks me as vice president would have to be sedated, if I said I should go to a funeral?

As to the vice presidency, we say again, I want to be governor of New Jersey. I ran to be governor of New Jersey. I absolutely believe that come November 2012 I'm going to be governor of New Jersey and not in any other office.

But if you're a betting guy, you should bet on Chris Christie being the governor of New Jersey, November, 2012.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So I take that as a no. I think that's a fairly entertaining and strong no. This morning, though, sounds like he's backing away from that very strong no. Yesterday while visiting a high school in New Jersey he was asked if he might be open to becoming Mitt Romney's running mate. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: What I said before, I have no interest in being vice president, but if Governor Romney called and asked me to sit down and talk to him about it I'd listen because you owe the nominee of your party that level of respect and who knows what he's going to say. He might be able to convince me. He's a convincing guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So not only is that not a no, it's such a different tone and not because he's talking to high schoolers. It's because it sounds like he's much more interested in the gig.

CAIN: So the lesson for politicians I think here -- and Ryan will confront this more than us. Don't get irritated when we ask you over and over. Don't get irritated when we don't accept your answer because chances are you're going to change it. JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: If you hang out with Mitt Romney, you're going to catch flip-flop that's the lesson of this. Chris Christie will not be the VP nominee for the party.

He believes in climate change. He believes in medical cannabis. He supported Obama's education program. He doesn't hate illegal immigrants. He's not the guy Romney needs to unite the party right now.

RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: No, I disagree because, look, Christie is loved by conservatives, whatever reason they don't hold those views against him. They love the guy and he is running for vice president. That's how you run for vice president.

O'BRIEN: He's a breath of fresh air! I mean, please!

FUGELSANG: It's more about getting the job than clinging to your ideology.

LIZZA: I don't think, despite the Santorum campaign and despite the fact that some conservatives don't support Romney he doesn't have a base problem right now. If you look at the polls, Republicans are supporting him in the 90s. He does not have a base problem.

O'BRIEN: He's the guy.

LIZZA: They hate Obama more than they dislike Romney, but this is how you run for vice president. You talk about it. It doesn't matter what you say. You talk about it so we talk about it.

O'BRIEN: I'm surprised because originally not only was he not talking about it. He was shutting it down, he was mocking the people who dared to mention that maybe he'd be a vice presidential candidate.

CAIN: That's why people love Chris Christie, certainty, right? Certainty.

FUGELSANG: I love to see the GOP run two moderates from the northeast on a ticket.

O'BRIEN: That's a problem.

LIZZA: The reason he probably doesn't go with Christie is Romney is a pretty cautious, safe guy and he wants this campaign to be about Obama. He doesn't want this campaign to be about him or his vice presidential running mate.

And if you pick someone who has more charisma than you do and it's got a somewhat controversial, interesting record in New Jersey we'll pick apart.

O'BRIEN: Interesting, I like that.

LIZZA: You want a boring white guy from the Midwest who nobody is going to pay attention.

O'BRIEN: Who is going to help you, right? Ultimately you should make a pick that will help you with some portion of the population.

LIZZA: It's less ambitious than that. First thing is do no harm. The vice presidential candidates don't win states. There's a lot of political science on this.

CAIN: You just named Rob Portman, boring guy from the Midwest.

O'BRIEN: That's who I heard.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, who could forget when all of those exotic animals, remember this when the guy released before he killed himself.

Not political news. There was that massive hunt. This morning some of those animals are going to be sent home, some people say it is a dangerous thing to do and the home may not be ready for them.

Also he is baseball's all-time ironman, the hall of famer Cal Ripken Jr. is in the house showing us softer side as well and this is his playlist as well, Jackson Five, "I want you back." I like you already just with that musical choice. We're back in just a moment.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. I want to point out that Cal Ripken, Jr., and I share the exact same playlist. That's Stevie Wonder.

Don't say that. I'm 23. He's been called baseball's ironman because for 16 seasons he never missed a game. Now hall of famer Cal Ripken, Jr., is using that to give back. He's just back from Joplin, Missouri.

The town, of course, that was devastated by a tornado a year ago. He worked with volunteers and "Habitat for Humanity" to rebuild destroyed homes. It's nice to have you with us.

Why Joplin? I mean, in a way it feels like there are so many places devastated where you could spend your time. Why was Joplin so important to you?

CAL RIPKEN JR., PLAYED FOR BALTIMORE ORIOLES FOR 21 SEASONS: I've been with Energizer for the last six years. Energizer partnered in their initiative this year with "Habitat for Humanity" in a 13-city tour.

The first one was in our backyard at Joplin. When you see the destruction from the tornado, you can't get a feel for it when watching it on TV. It looks horrible. When you're standing there, you seen the scale of it all.

O'BRIEN: Yes, 13 miles of destruction. It took out the city.

RIPKEN: They have cleaned it up now. So we were there building two homes as part of this project. I found out that I had skill with hammer and nail. The spirit there is really great to be a part of that.

O'BRIEN: Do you miss baseball?

RIPKEN: There are certain aspects of the game you miss. I had a chance to play it almost consecutively to a point where I know what it feels like to be good and bad and fail and succeed and all that kind of stuff.

You do miss being on the inside and being part of something and you're in the know. Now you watch it like everybody else and you feel like I'm not on the inside anymore. It is true. You miss being part of a team.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. I'm not a giant baseball watcher, but I love professional sports because I love the lessons that people learn from professional sports.

So if you could say one thing that you walked away from at the end of 16-year career where you had incredible highs, what was the life lesson you got out of it?

RIPKEN: I think you learn about your individual responsibility because even part of a team, everybody relies on everybody else to do their job in concert with everyone else.

So the individual responsibility and the responsibility you have to the team is first and foremost and you have to mesh it together.

We're all different trying to have a common goal. We call it chemistry in sports. Maybe it's culture in other workplaces. But certainly, it's understanding your role on the team and then bringing it all together.

CAIN: How old were you when you retired?

RIPKEN: I was 41.

CAIN: You started playing baseball when you were how old?

RIPKEN: I started when I was eight so I had a career from 8 to 41.

CAIN: So when you are done with baseball at 41. You have been a baseball player at your entire life at that point. That's what you've done every day. How hard is it to wake up on that next day and define yourself? This is what I am now. I'm no longer a baseball player.

RIPKEN: I think a lot of us have problems with that. I mean, I saw a lot of players retire in the early part of my career and they were lost a bit. I started preparing for it, doing things in the off- season. Doing things in the business sense almost to make a transition so I wouldn't be sort of left out.

I'm not to say that I figured it all out. But certainly from the day I left baseball, we own three minor league teams, I have two kids' complexes and put a suit on and went to work as a sense of purpose. So you didn't sit around and try to figure out what you want to do. I stayed active. I still stay active.

LIZZA: Is that a problem for a lot of colleagues that get out and don't know what to do with themselves and don't how to make money and have a different career?

RIPKEN: If you're good at anything, you immerse yourself into it. That's all you do. That's what baseball players do and you're out and now you have to figure out now what? I think there are some people who struggle with that. Once you find something, immerse yourself into something again.

FUGELSANG: I think celebrity is one of the goofiest things that people have created, but to use yours and help these people. Were you aware of "Habitat for Humanity's" work before hand? Did you have any opinion on them?

RIPKEN: I had some exposure to it, but Energizer certainly brought me in. We've done some great things in community. We started the Energizer keep going hall of fame to bring highlights to everyday people that do great things. This effort is to really go in and have a significant impact in 13 cities.

O'BRIEN: Was it weird for them to be like hammering next to Cal Ripken, Jr.?

RIPKEN: I guess, kind of.

O'BRIEN: They want to talk baseball.

RIPKEN: To a point you shine a light you get attention for being a baseball player. Now you shine a light on good things. I really enjoyed that aspect.

FUGELSANG: You can lift heavier boards than Jimmy Carter can.

RIPKEN: I'll tell you what. These houses are the most nailed houses around. Everyone has a hammer and everyone has nails. They will never fall down.

FUGELSANG: How can people help? If they want to emulate what you're doing, if they want to help these folks, how can they get involved?

RIPKEN: Look, habitat.org is a way you can go. It's on the web site with Energizer. It's on Habitat's web site. I mean, the cool thing is we all can act individually and make an impact, but if we act collectively we can make a bigger impact, which is what this is.

O'BRIEN: Would you go back to baseball tomorrow saying we would love to have you back. We'll start you?

RIPKEN: As a player? No. I couldn't go back as a player.

FUGELSANG: What about as DH? CAIN: No. That was an interesting pause. How about as a manager? How about inside a front office?

RIPKEN: I think there's some interest I have to come back to use baseball expertise. I wanted to be there for my kids to get them through college. My last kid is a senior in high school. I could look at the camera saying I'm available so somebody offer me a job.

CAIN: I doubt this is your application. Have you talked to anybody? Talked to the Orioles?

RIPKEN: I've been flattered to be asked whether I want to manage a couple different teams. I thought if you're not interested don't go through the interview process. Just be honest with them.

O'BRIEN: So you are telling us fall 2012 you'll be managing a team. Goes off to school in the fall, he's a senior. I've done the math. It's nice to have you. It's great to see you. Thanks for being with us.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, some breaking news that we're following about this British phone hacking scandal. Lawmakers in parliament declaring Rupert Murdoch unfit to run a major international company, which, of course, is exactly what he does. The latest developments from London coming to you live.

And al Qaeda's attack plans hidden in pornography. Investigators say it's a gold mine of information and a threat about bombs on U.S. bound planes. We'll update you on that.

Plus Rescue 411. A 4'11" firefighter was exactly the right size to save a toddler who fell 20 feet down a drain pipe. She was the only one who could fit. We'll talk to her about the rescue. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

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