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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Weinstein Begs for His Life; Interview with Congressman Steve Israel of New York; Stamford Fire Inspires Kids; President Begins Reelection Campaign; Interview with Romney Press Secretary; Memories of the King

Aired May 7, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning: breaking news. We're seeing an American man for the first time since his kidnapping last August. Al Qaeda claims to have Warren Weinstein and they are making demands.

Also, markets in Europe hitting some new low. Political turmoil in Greece and France are triggering a selloff in Europe overnight. We are keeping an eye on U.S. markets because they are poised to plunge as well.

Straight from Graceland on what would have been Elvis' 77th birthday. Never before seen belongings that were worn by the King right here in our CNN studios.

It's Monday, May 7th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. We begin with breaking news. Chilling video of an American hostage. Warren Weinstein is his name and he is begging for his life in this video. It's just been released by al Qaeda.

On the new tape the 70-year-old man from Maryland is pleading with President Obama to agree to his kidnapper's demands or he says he will be killed. Weinstein was abducted last August in Pakistan. Here's part of the video that militants posted online.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN WEINSTEIN, HOSTAGE: I'd like to talk to President Obama and ask and beg him that he please accept and respond to the demands of the mujahidin. If you accept the demands, I live. If you don't accept the demands, then I die.

It's important you accept the demands and act quickly and don't delay. There will be no benefit in delay. It will just make things more difficult for me. But it is very important that you act quickly and I'm now waiting for your response.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: CNN's Elise Labott is live in Washington.

Elise, good morning to you. Some of the demands include release of prisoners. How likely do you think that it is that that actually would happen?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: I would say it's very unlikely. If you think back to when "Wall Street Journal" journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in 2002, then Secretary of State Colin Powell said we do not meet the demands of kidnappers. We do not negotiate with kidnappers and terrorists. I think it's highly unlikely the U.S. is going to start doing something like that now.

I think, right now, U.S. officials really radio silence. My sources are saying to me senior State Department officials, cooperation with the Pakistanis is very good on this case and have nothing more for you on that.

But you can rest assured the U.S. is working with the Pakistanis who have the lead on this investigation, to try to find any clues as to where Warren Weinstein is being held and perhaps try working in the tribal areas of Pakistan to try to find some more information about his whereabouts.

O'BRIEN: In addition to the demands of release for prisoners, what other demands are there, Elise?

LABOTT: Halt to air strikes in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and also an easing of movement of goods and people between Gaza and Egypt. So, it's really not just in al Qaeda interests but about all Muslims and Arabs, also closing Guantanamo Bay, something that al Qaeda has been calling for, for a really long time. So, it really runs the gamut of releasing prisoners, to improving the quality and life of Arabs and Muslims across the region.

O'BRIEN: Elise Labott, we're watching it this morning. Thank you, Elise, for the updsate.

Time to get to Christine for a look at some of the other stories making news.

Hey, Christine. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

Political upheaval in France and Greece could mean a sell-off in the U.S. markets this morning. France has a new president, socialist Francois Hollande, succeeding Nicolas Sarkozy in a runoff election. His victory is a rejection of tough austerity measures. It could signal a change in the way France deals with the eurozone debt crisis.

Voters in Greece also weary of austerity and steep cuts. They dealt a setback to the ruling new democracy party in yesterday's election with no party coming close to a majority. Right now, it looks like a new coalition government will have to be formed in Greece again.

On this news, U.S. stock futures indicate markets here will open lower. Markets in Asia and Europe also down overnight.

In currencies, the euro is down, the dollar is up and oil also futures down this morning, $97 a barrel right now. Gas prices keep going lower too.

Well, the police are awaiting autopsy results on the body of a man found dead in a barn in Churchill Downs just hours after the Kentucky Derby took place there. Investigators say the 48-year-old horse groomer was the victim of a homicide and had been in some sort of altercation.

The shocking discovery was found near the barn of where Derby winner "I'll Have Another" was kept.

Vice President Joe Biden creating a bit of a stir this weekend. Listen to these comments about same-sex marriage on a Sunday morning talk show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual, men and women marrying, are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil liberties. And, quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The White House is scrambling to point the president does not favor legalizing same sex marriage even though his views on the subjects are, quote, "evolving."

Two of the American hikers arrested and detained in Iran are now married. Sarah Shroud spent months waiting for her fiance Shane Bauer to be released, along with their friend Josh Fattal. All three were accused of being spies and were facing sentence of eight years in prison in Iran. Shourd and Bauer married in San Francisco. Fattal was the best man.

The New Jersey mother with the extreme tan is reacting to being parodied on "Saturday Night Live."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seth, anyone can look like me. It's not just the tanning. It's also the right beauty products.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? Because you look like a baseball glove.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is not an accident, Seth. I follow the Wilson athletic beauty routine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the Wilson athletic beauty routine?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every night I rub my face with Murphy's oil and I put a baseball in my mouth and sleep with my head under the mattress.

Then I have the look of every one woman dreams of, Wily E. Coyote right after something blows up in his face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Patricia Krintzile (ph) says actress Kristen Wiig did a great job of impersonating her.

O'BRIEN: Yes, that's not what we want to know. We want to how she feels about it really.

All right. Christine, thank you.

We have some new polls to talk about this morning. We are six months away, six months long months away from the November elections.

President Obama officially launched his campaign over the weekend. He traveled to two key battleground states, Ohio and Virginia. And he singled out the former Governor Mitt Romney by name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Governor Romney is a patriotic American who has raised a wonderful family and he has much to be proud of. He has run a large financial firm and he has run a state. But I think he has drawn the wrong lessons from those experiences. He sincerely believes that if CEOs and wealthy investors like him make money, the rest of us will automatically prosper as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: I think we are getting a glimpse how it's going to go the next six months.

New battleground polls, they are calling it from "Politico" and George Washington University and it's showing a dead heat between Romney and Obama: 48 percent for Romney to Obama's 47 percent. All well within the margin of error.

Then when it comes to independents, a little more interesting, Governor Romney has a 10-point lead, 48 percent to 38 percent.

Brings us right to New York Democratic Steve Israel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Nice to see you, sir. Great to have you in person with us.

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Always good to be with you.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

In an election that is going to rely clearly in a big way on independents, that ten-point problem has to be a big problem.

ISRAEL: Well, look. You said it. Six months to go. Six long months. And this is going to be a very close presidential election and a close congressional election and I think you're going to see polls that have the president up with independents and down with independents. This thing is going to go to the wire.

I think at the end of the day, independents are going to make the decision to vote for the president and vote for House Democrats because they want someone who's going to stand up for them. They want somebody who's not going to be protecting their own perks and privileges as House Republicans have done. They want someone talking about strengthening the middle class. They don't want somebody who's going to vote for budgets to end Medicare in order to fund tax cuts to big oil companies.

So, at the end of the day, every election is about who you're for, independents know that Democrats are for them.

O'BRIEN: We don't see in the polls that you could see that all of those things haven't moved dramatically the last two months even. It's not being shown in the polls.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What is going on, Steve? I really like having Steve on because he'll tell us the way it is, and not the way you hope it is, Steve. Why? Why are independents favoring Romney by 10 points right now?

ISRAEL: Again, we are six months out. Look. I just saw a poll last week a battleground elections independents favor House Democrats. Now, that doesn't mean we have won the election and I'm not ready to pronounce that we've got the 25 seats we need based on one poll of independence voters.

CAIN: But what's not resonating?

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: -- isn't getting there?

O'BRIEN: Right. All those things that you listen, I don't see them sort of dramatically necessarily changing over the next six months.

ISRAEL: The president has been under attack by Mitt Romney and others. He just started his campaign with literally the past several days. He's just started to go to those events and speak to the American people and independents.

And, again, I would never -- you're right. I'd never -- optimism doesn't win an election and pronouncing victory or loss six months before an election doesn't win an election. The president is going to talk to the American people about what he's done specifically to strengthen this recovery. We were losing jobs on the day he was inaugurated. We now gain jobs, not enough, more to be done.

And as he gets that case out, I believe those independent voters will support the president and House Democrats as they have shown they want to do.

JAY THOMAS, SIRIUS RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Do you think Romney has got to pick Nikki Haley as a vice president? I mean, the woman thing is big. But also, Nikki Haley is a very interesting governor in South Carolina.

ISRAEL: You know, I'm never been convinced that who you pick for vice president is going to win or lose an election. People vote based on what you're going to do for them and who you're for.

And this is going to be a choice between a candidate who wants to embrace the same policies that put us into this recession and lost jobs, or a president who inherited this mess who built our way out of this recovery, notwithstanding whoever the vice presidential candidate is on a Republican side.

O'BRIEN: A couple of interesting things. Let's talk about it since you brought her up. In the same polls, 35 percent say they believe that Romney's choice of V.P. running mate will affect their vote but 62 percent say they do not care.

And I thought this was interesting on the women's vote. When you look at women in the polls, throw this number up. Supporting women, women support rather. President Obama is leading with 51 percent and Mitt Romney at 44 percent. When you break that down and look at women over the age of 45, it's Mitt Romney who is ahead by five points. I mean, that lead sort of flips.

So, again, I guess I'd ask what's the strategy? Because clearly the implications for what's going to happen in Congress are huge.

ISRAEL: I think the strategy is talk to those women and say, who is a better deal for you? A party has spent al of their time trying to shut down Planned Parenthood offices or a party that has spent their time trying to figure out how to open up new businesses?

CAIN: See, we just saw that statistic the women over 45 favor Romney and I just hear from you that double down on the war on women stuff.

ISRAEL: Well, again, whether you're a man or a woman, who is a better deal? Is the better deal a Republican Congress, a Tea Party Congress that has spent all of their time and energy trying to shut down Planned Parenthood offices or is a better deal a House Democrats and the president that's relentlessly trying to figure out and exploring how to create new small businesses? At the end of the day, this is a choice between extremism and ideology. It's to every single debate, or problem solving. We are, we've got problem solvers running for Congress all over this country.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Steve Israel, nice to have you with us. Appreciate it this morning.

Still ahead in about 15 minutes, we're going to talk to presidential candidate Mitt Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul. She'll be joining us live as well.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT: Deadly fire inspires a group of kids to create an idea to stop another tragedy from happening. That idea is getting the attention of billionaire Warren Buffett. We're going to talk to the kids. They are 11, 9 and 8 straight ahead.

And the Colombian escort at the center of the Secret Service scandal -- I knew we would have this bikini picture. Thank goodness

Well, guess what? She is speaking out and we will cover her important news making remarks in her bikini straight ahead!

This is Congressman Israel's playlist. The Cars, with "Good Times Roll".

You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: It was a stunning tragedy. Two grandparents and their three granddaughters died in a Christmas Day fire happened in Stamford, Connecticut. The home was under construction at the time, and the smoke detectors in the home were there, but they weren't connected.

That event inspired four school aged children from another Connecticut town not very far away to create a business proposal that they call the Safety Guardin, a home section at online fire safety network which they entered into a contest for young entrepreneurs. That contest sponsored by Warren Buffett.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANDA CARTER, FINALIST, GROW YOUR OWN BUSINESS CHALLENGE: We came up with the idea when my dad told us about how the Stamford fire. There was this responsible family, and they all died because their alarms were never hooked up. How can we change this for the future so this can't ever happen again?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Well, that's Amanda who was articulating the basic idea behind why they decided to do this. The kid creators are now finalists in Warren Buffett's "Grow Your Own Business" challenge, and they are set to pitch their idea directly to the Oracle of Omaha. It's going to happen two weeks from today.

So, joining us this morning, 11-year-old Amanda Carter and Michael Wipf. Also, Michael's eight-year-old sister Diana is with us, as well. Amanda's seven-year-old sister, Lily, is bus and watching them all is Amanda and Lily's lily's dad, Kevin.

Nice to have you all with us. Amanda, we're going to start with you because we just saw you on that videotape. The idea is called Safety Guardin. Is that right?

AMANDA CARTER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: OK. And give me just a quick sense of how exactly it works.

AMANDA CARTER: Well, Safety Guardin is a company that has inspectors come into your home and check for fire hazards. If your home is approved of, then you're on a safe homes list on the Safety Guardin website. But if your home isn't approved of, then the customer has two options. Either they can have the inspector fix it right there or the customer can fix it themselves.

But if the customer has to fix it themselves, then they have to be re-inspected in a few weeks for re-approval.

O'BRIEN: To be certified.

AMANDA CARTER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: So, Michael, what I liked about this idea is that it sort of makes more than one person responsible for the safety, because I think part of the problem in this fire that we saw in Stamford was that, you know, just sort of one person realized that the fire alarms weren't connected. How did you guys come up with this idea?

MICHAEL WIPF, FINALIST, GROW YOUR OWN BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Well, the Stamford and fire -- fire in Stamford --

O'BRIEN: That motivated you to tackle this?

MICHAEL WIPF: Yes. We wanted -- because only the grandparents and three daughters died and the parents got out. And the reason was because their alarms weren't hooked up. So, we don't want this to happen to other families, so we thought of Safety Guardin. So, this --

O'BRIEN: Kind of take the responsibility out of the hands of just one individual and kind of expands it into the whole entire family, I guess, and the inspectors as well. So, Diana, there's a GPS bracelet.

DIANA WIPF, FINALIST, GROW YOUR OWN BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Yes.

O'BRIEN: What is that for? Explain that to me, can you?

DIANA WIPF: Yes. Somebody has a bracelet, and, if you don't know where they are, the parent has a litt;e controller that can track down where they are.

O'BRIEN: In a fire, you'd be able to track your kid. Oh, that would be really, really wonderful. Now, let me ask you a question, Lily. Do you know who Warren Buffett is?

LILY CARTER, FINALIST, GROW YOUR OWN BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Yes.

O'BRIEN: You do? You're seven? Did you know who he was before you entered this contest?

LILY CARTER: No.

O'BRIEN: So, you know he's an investor, and if he picks your idea, you guys could win big. Are you nervous about this contest?

LILY CARTER: Only a tiny bit.

O'BRIEN: What are you going to tell Mr. Buffett when you see him in a couple of weeks?

LILY CARTER: I probably would tell him that it was really fun working on this contest.

O'BRIEN: I bet he'd love that because he is an entrepreneur who's a big believer in enjoying what you're doing. Let me put a final question to dad. I know that this tragedy happened not very far from where you live. What sort of the bigger message that you wanted your kids to take not just from the tragedy but sort of the opportunity as entrepreneurs and presenting their idea to Warren Buffett?

KEVIN CARTER, DAUGHTERS ARE FINALISTS IN WARREN BUFFETT COMPETITION: Just what a remarkable experience this is for the kids. I think it's really taught them some lessons already, and we still have several weeks to go. They're really empowered to use their creativity.

So, just very grateful to by Kids for Kids and CreditReport.com and Mr. Buffett for having this opportunity. We really think it's great, and I think the kids are going to learn a lot and something they're going to take with them for the rest of their lives.

O'BRIEN: We're very excited for you. We're rooting for you. So, I hope you win the big prize. I think it's $5,000. So, we're going to keep our fingers crossed. Let us know how it goes in two weeks. Thank you for being with us. We certainly appreciate it.

AMANDA CARTER: But --

O'BRIEN: Yes?

AMANDA CARTER: -- there's one important thing --

O'BRIEN: Yes?

AMANDA CARTER: -- about Safety Guardin. Let's say your child is having a sleepover and you're worrying about their safety.

O'BRIEN: You can check it out on Safety Guardin and see if they're registered as well. So, it's not just for your house, it's the other houses, as well.

AMANDA CARTER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: I love that thing about Safety Guardin. I mean, let me know when you're looking for other investors.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Dad, Lily, Diana, Michael, Amanda, congratulations to you. Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

KEVIN CARTER: Thank you.

AMANDA CARTER: Vote for us!

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Still ahead -- she's just 11 and she's a politician. STARTING POINT continues with a look at the Colombian escort behind that secret service scandal speaking out this morning. We're going to talk about that.

Also, don't forget you can watch us live while you're at work, CNN.com/live. Here's Pete Townshend, "Let My Love Open The Door" off the Carter and family playlist. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: You might be replacing Will Cain with slow morning songs. That's Jay Thomas' playlist, Doc Watson.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: You can see our entire playlist every morning on our website, CNN.com/STARTINGPOINT. And by the way, Jay just talks through whatever I'm doing, right? He's just getting fine. You just carried that one.

THOMAS: He is silent now.

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: I'm embarrassed on national television.

O'BRIEN: No. I wasn't trying to embarrass you.

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: You know what? You've done nothing but make fun of me.

O'BRIEN: No.

THOMAS: Two appearances. I'm shocked that I'm even back.

O'BRIEN: I'm shocked -- well, we will talk about that a little bit later this morning.

FUGELSANG: Can we get to some real news now, please?

THOMAS: Yes. (LAUGHTER)

THOMAS: Go ahead, Soledad. Can we show a picture someone almost naked?

O'BRIEN: Yes. Let's get right to that. that would be the Colombian escort --

THOMAS: What a boring show until we have some nakedness.

O'BRIEN: Oh, Lord, yes, yes. I think she's in a bikini, actually. Yes, there she is. The escort at the center of the secret service scandal speaking out this morning. She is 24 years old. Her name is Dania Londono Suarez. She's now in Madrid. She spoke to NBC's "Today" show about her experience with the U.S. secret services agents.

She says the agents that she saw were quote, and I'm quoting now, "stupid brutes."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIA LONDONO SUAREZ, COLOMBIAN ESCORT (through translator): They like to show off their bodies, great bodies, well-defined abs. They like attention, and we, Colombian women, are not used to that. It seems obvious that they were used to doing it, because people that do this for the first time are very shy.

They seemed like completely stupid. Idiots. I don't know how Obama had them in his security force. What dumb men.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Wow! That's a lot of ground she covered right there. Suarez claims that the agents that she saw were drinking vodka like it was water. The secret service says that the agent that Suarez claims to have been with has now resigned.

THOMAS: Wow.

FUGELSANG: Where do we begin?

THOMAS: That was financed by a right-wing group that's called six-pack.

O'BRIEN: You're serious?

FUGELSANG: No, he's not.

(LAUGHTER)

FUGELSANG: Let me inform you, he is not serious.

(CROSSTALK)

FUGELSANG: In fairness, if she's 24, I'm six. (LAUGHTER)

FUGELSANG: And, also, she says that her career was ruined by this. It's really sad when one can (ph) work as an escort for hire at a Colombian strip club anymore our secret service is short changed. So, I'm glad we're covering this. And it's -- I can tell the (INAUDIBLE) prize is awaiting.

(LAUGHTER)

THOMAS: That's what dirty gets you. They didn't have $47.

(LAUGHTER)

THOMAS: If you elect, you know, the Republicans, we're not going to have money for the hookers.

O'BRIEN: OK! OK! I feel like --

THOMAS: -- hooker cash.

O'BRIEN: -- we fully covered this story. We can move on.

Still ahead -- still ahead --

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Danica Patrick kind of loses her cool during a NASCAR race. She slammed in a pole and hit the wall after (INAUDIBLE) flags. We'll tell you why she was thinking about revenge.

And, we'll show you some of these new battleground polls that show President Obama and Mitt Romney are in a virtual tie. Coming up, we're going to talk to the former governor's campaign spokesperson. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everybody. Let's begin with Christine Romans who has a look at some of the day's top stories. Good morning, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Investigators remain tight-lipped this morning about the discovery of two bodies in Mississippi. They were found at the home of the man suspected of kidnapping a Tennessee woman and her three daughters. An Amber alert has been issued for Jo Ann Bain and the three girls aged eight, 12, and 14. The FBI says 35-year-old Adam Mayes is armed and dangerous and investigators believe he cut his hair and changed the appearance of the mother and the daughters. The mother and her three daughters were last seen at their home in western Tennessee on April 27th. Call police if you have any information.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turning up the pressure on Iran during her visit to India this morning. She is urging India to reduce the amount of oil it imports from Iran in order to pressure Tehran to come clean about its nuclear programs. Mrs. Clinton also telling reporters she has no desire to make another run for the White House but hopes to see a female president in her lifetime.

It will be at least five weeks before self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four defendants return to court. It took 13 hours to arraign the men during a military hearing on Saturday. The defendants repeatedly interrupted the proceedings by kneeling in prayer. One of them even removed his shirt while his attorney described injuries she claimed she sustained while in custody at Guantanamo Bay. Lawyers for the defendants are promising a long, hard court fight.

"The Sun" newspaper says it smuggled a fake bomb into the Olympic complex being built. A construction worker alerted the paper saying he was searched when he entered each morning but not the rest of the day. So the paper gave him a fake device and he drove with it past security guards into the site.

In today's "Smart is the New Rich," Should you buy Facebook shares, or the better question can you even buy Facebook shares? Facebook starts its roadshow today meeting with potential big buyers and mainly Wall Street banks and plans to share 330 million shares of the company at $28 to $35 per share. A final price set the night before it begins trading the night before on Nay 18.

Here's how it works -- institutional investors who are underwriting the IPO, mainly big banks and brokerages, they get the first crack at those shares. Most of the time their shares then go to their top clients, hedge funds, big money managers, and insiders. They get the IPO price. Then we get our chance. Usually brokerages set aside only about 15 percent of their initial offering to retail investors, that is you and me, to get in at the IPO price. Facebook has added e-trade as an underwriter and hopefully, more regular Joes get the IPO price. Bottom line, that $28 to $35 range not likely to be around when the average investor gets in. And the most famous investor in the world, by the way, Warren Buffett, says he does not like to buy public offerings and he won't buy this one.

The steamy new novel "50 Shades of Grey" is too hot for some libraries. It's being culled in Brevard County, Florida. The naughty novel details a sexual affair between a young woman and a billionaire businessman. The "50 Shades" book has sold more than three million copies. Good enough for a book store but not good enough for the library.

O'BRIEN: All downloadable and nobody has to know the trash you're reading.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about politics, if we can, the turning point in the 2012 race. President Obama officially kicking off his reelection campaign this week, launching a new ad in a number of key battleground states. Here's is a portion of that ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He believed in us, fought for us. And, today, our auto industry is back, firing on all cylinders. Our greatest enemy brought to justice by our greatest heroes. Our troops are home from Iraq. Instead of losing jobs, we are creating, them over 4.2 million so far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Over the weekend the president was fired up taking on his likely Republican challenger by name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The challenge we face right now, the challenge we faced for over a decade is that harder work hasn't led to higher incomes. It's that bigger profits haven't led to better jobs. Governor Romney doesn't seem to get that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Andrea Saul is Mitt Romney's campaign press secretary joining us this morning. Thank you for being with us. When you see that ad, and if I could summarize the ad for everybody who haven't seen the entire thing, he basically says the financial mess wasn't my fault but I've been fixing it. That's kind of the short version in a nutshell. Do you think that is going to work for him?

ANDREA SAUL, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: Governor Romney always said that president Obama didn't create the recession. But the fact of the matter is he hasn't made things better for people. When you look at his speech this past weekend as well, he kept saying the same things he said in 2008. Will you be better off four years from now? He seems to forget and I think wants to pretend that he hasn't been this charge the past three and a half years and that people's current economic situations have happened on his watch. And so governor Romney is going to be talking about his vision for the future, but president Obama has a record and we will be looking at that and so will voters.

O'BRIEN: The president said this about Governor Romney a continuation of that speech I was showing a moment ago. Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Governor Romney is a patriotic American and raised a wonderful family and has much to be proud of. He has run a large financial firm and he's run a state. But I think he's learned the wrong lessons from these experiences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: I always worry when a politician start off by complimenting somebody, because you know there is a "but" and sharp turn in there. Basically what he is saying Governor Romney's experience will not translate and doesn't get regular people. To me gives me insight into how the next six months are going to go. What is the governor's response to that?

SAUL: I think when you look at governor Romney's record it's one of leadership. He worked in the real world economy and understands what it takes to create jobs and he turned around the Olympic Games in salt lake city. And he ran a state. What we see with president Obama that his own vice president said back in the '08 campaign was that he wasn't ready. He didn't have any experience.

Again, President Obama is a nice guy as well, but he's just in over his head. He doesn't understand what it takes to get this economy going again. And right now, he has no real plans to jumpstart any parts of the economy. He's only offering gimmicks and political poise to try to talk about, you know, small things when there are big problems out there.

O'BRIEN: If you actually look at the way the economy is trending, it favors President Obama at this moment. Isn't that sort of the $64,000 question is where it's going to go and how that goes will determine what kind of leverage governor Romney has with voters, right?

SAUL: Well, of course, we all want the economy to get better and it's going to recover. Economies recover. But when you look at the past three months, the number of jobs created each month has decreased, so that's a downward trend and not the direction we need to be going.

Governor Romney, when he was in office in Massachusetts, he got the unemployment rate down to 4.7 percent. He was creating jobs. Right now, President Obama hasn't created a net single new job. And so we need someone that actually has the experience, has actually done these things, balanced budgets, instead of someone who is just offering up political gimmicks and trying to tear down his opponent instead of looking at the full part of his record.

O'BRIEN: When you say hasn't created net jobs, of course, you're talking about so much jobless that even started to happen before the president came in, they are rebuilding from that, so I'm going to correct you on that if I can.

SAUL: Well, no. From the start when he started his presidency. I'm not counting from before he started. Since he started his presidency, he has not created any jobs, not when you look at the full picture of the economy.

O'BRIEN: Right, we are talking about the economic collapse so you're going down, right? And talking about rebuilding so I think people could argue those have been jobs created as an economic collapse want to rebound.

I really want to talk about women voters. Throw up the poll on the screen. This is coming to us from the "Politico"-George Washington polling we got this morning. When you look at the number of women who support president Obama, 51 percent, for Governor Romney, 44 percent. If you break that down, by younger women and older women, older women, women 45 plus supporting Governor Romney a five-point lead there. But it's the younger women who are overwhelmingly supporting President Obama. What is the strategy to get those younger women? What can be done about that? Obviously, you must be thinking about that in the campaign.

SAUL: Well, I think what you see is, you know, 50 percent of recent college graduates can't get a job. Women have been hurt most under president Obama's term. And so Governor Romney is going to talk about the things that are important to them. You know -- you know, college students want to get a job. Mothers want their children out of their house. And, you know, as these kids go to the gas station to fill up their tanks they see the devastation each day, and they want to make a life for themselves as well.

So the same thing he is talking about to all Americans is the message that will resonate with young voters as well in what we have seen with President Obama is the luster is starting to wear off. I think he has seen a lot of those numbers have moved from where they were, and, you know, we have a lot of ground that we will continue to make up from here until November.

O'BRIEN: Andrea Saul is our Romney campaign spokesperson. Thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

SAUL: Thank you. You bet.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick goes for payback on the cool down lap at Talladega. We'll tell you why she was seeking revenge.

And Elvis fans, if you think you've seen it all, the folks at Graceland are unveiling never before seen Elvis artifacts. We're going to give you a little preview right here. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Nascar nationwide series driver Danica Patrick did anything but cool down during the cool down lap of Saturday's race at Talladega after she was squeezed out during the final lap of the race by Sam Hornish Jr. Patrick who was in number 7 car and got behind Hornish and watch this -- he is the number 12 car by the way the yellow car and she pushed him into a wall intentionally.

She could have been reprimanded for but it looks like she got away with it. Nascar says they're not going to punish either driver. Hornish says he had a flat right front tire and that's what started the whole thing.

Danica Patrick sent out a tweet saying that she spoke with Hornish and they are quote, "all good and she accepts his explanation".

FUGELSANG: Way to dispel negative stereotypes about female drivers.

THOMAS: Everything I have to say is politically incorrect. I am not going to say one word about it --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: You can't help yourself. What are you going to say?

THOMAS: Well --

O'BRIEN: You can't help yourself, you can't do it.

THOMAS: They were going 160 --

FUGELSANG: There's no sexism in the Nascar.

THOMAS: -- they were going 160 miles an hour.

CAIN: That's right.

THOMAS: I mean this guy could have been killed.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Right.

THOMAS: There is absolutely no doubt he could have been killed.

O'BRIEN: Although it looks as if the people who had the ability to reprimand both of them decided that they wouldn't. So I think that they --

THOMAS: Why? That's --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: I think they thought that the response that I've read is that they feel like neither one of them has a reputation for doing sort of crazy things in the race.

FUGELSANG: Yes but if I do that in a Nascar parking lot I'm going to get a ticket.

THOMAS: You are.

O'BRIEN: Yes you are.

FUGELSANG: I'm going to go to jail if I clip somebody like that.

O'BRIEN: Yes you are, yes you are. Yes you are well maybe they both learn their lessons, a kumbaya.

FUGELSANG: It's a cool down lap.

O'BRIEN: They've tweeted love and affection for each other.

FUGELSANG: And Danica is good for the game.

CAIN: Danica should have watched "Days of Thunder". (inaudible) is racing.

THOMAS: Yes.

FUGELSANG: Nobody should watch "Days of Thunder.

THOMAS: She got a break I'm sorry --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: They both got a break.

THOMAS: She got a break because she was a girl.

O'BRIEN: Oh.

FUGELSANG: Oh, oh.

THOMAS: She got a girl break. She got a girl break.

O'BRIEN: Please. Still ahead on STARTING POINT -- please.

FUGELSANG: Because it's so easy in Nascar --

THOMAS: All right. I mean, really a girl break.

O'BRIEN: We're going to talk Elvis in the morning. Some never before seen items going on display at Graceland but before you see them at Graceland you're going to see them here. That's coming up next.

And we'll leave you with a little Elvis. Why not, yes drop our music and let's play a little Elvis.

FUGELSANG: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Soon. All right. We're not.

THOMAS: Hey which Elvis is this one?

CAIN: This is the late, this is late Elvis.

O'BRIEN: You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment. There we go, there we go. I knew that was coming.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(ELVIS PRESLEY)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: I love that movie. It's kind of a dream movie. This morning we're getting a new look at rare artifacts from the life of Elvis Presley as we approach the 35th anniversary of his passing. It's all part of the three exhibits that are taking place at Graceland. New for this year that showed the different sides of the king from his tours to his legacy and even his relationship with his daughter Lisa Marie.

Kevin Kern is with us to show us some of these artifacts. he is the director of communications for Graceland. It's so great to have you and thanks for being here.

KEVIN KERN, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR GRACELAND: Thanks for having us. I'm glad to be here.

O'BRIEN: You bet. So one of the things that I thought was so interesting was to get Lisa Marie Presley's sort of take on her father. She was just a young girl when he died.

KERN: Nine years old.

O'BRIEN: But she really owned the entire thing, she inherited it and it was a financial crisis that had her mom kind of take over --

(CROSSTALK)

KERN: Exactly.

O'BRIEN: -- and figure out how, in fact, they would make Graceland profitable. It was a brilliant decision.

KERN: Exactly either sell Graceland or open it up for tours and of course they opened it up for tours. They wondered how many people would come and would they keep coming. And here next month we're expecting our 18 millionth visitor at Graceland in Memphis.

FUGELSANG: And it is pronounced Graceland? Correct, not Graceland.

(CROSSTALK)

KERN: Graceland.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Graceland.

KERN: We kind of slow it down. Slow it down.

THOMAS: I've had two people on that had one -- one guy had Elvis tooth, he's a dentist. Do you know this guy?

KERN: Oh, goodness.

THOMAS: And then I have one guy who had -- he had a cup that Elvis spitted in or something -- Not kidding. Do you ever buy stuff like that?

KERN: You know there is all sorts of things on eBay so -- so don't believe everything you see.

O'BRIEN: Well, let's start with what we know.

KERN: Exactly these things are authentic.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Actually it used to belong to -- the first thing is this little while jacket that, obviously, belonged to Lisa Marie. Tell me a little bit --

KERN: That's her jacket when she was around two or three years old and there was a big roar about this back in the '70s.

O'BRIEN: Why?

KERN: Because people thought -- because she was a princess of rock 'n' roll that it was real fur.

Today, the roar would be because it was fur but it was faux fur and a lot of folks thought it was real fur. But this is part of the exhibit. Elvis through his daughter's eyes. We also have her baby footprints.

O'BRIEN: Oh this is so lovely. She said she gasped when she went in to see the exhibit.

KERN: She did it was like seeing her life on display. And she was very involved in the production of this exhibit at Graceland.

O'BRIEN: She's the curator? Right?

KERN: Exactly, you know. It's her life. And it also, it only chronicles the nine years she spent with her father but also how she carries on the Presley legacy today.

O'BRIEN: It's interesting to look at the wallet.

KERN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Because I mean, it's -- it literally -- yes, you get the sense of someone who really just you know sort of this --

KERN: Yes, all four guys at this table have a wallet in their back pocket and includes a family photo, I'm sure. Elvis was just like everybody else. Even though they call him the king of rock 'n' roll he too had a picture of Lisa Marie in the wallet always kissing her on the head.

We also see his Bank Ameri-card which is the precursor of Visa with his signature on it, no magnetic strip on the back. And don't we wish there was cash in that wallet. Also interestingly there's an insurance card in there. Even the king of rock 'n' roll had insurance.

Can we show everybody the -- the belts, tell me a little bit about the belt, that big gold belt that's -- to the right of that wallet. KERN: Yes, we have -- this is our second of three new exhibits. It's from Elvis on Tour. Elvis would have worn this in this movie 1972 Golden Globe Award winning film. And you would see this. Elvis wore this in the movie rubies, emeralds and diamonds.

O'BRIEN: Beautiful.

KERN: A gold belt there. Elvis also famously wore this in the photograph with President Nixon at the Oval Office.

O'BRIEN: You know, it's been interesting to see the impact that Elvis has. Do you see -- are you struggling to have young people connect with Elvis?

KERN: Absolutely not. Elvis has over 6 million Facebook fans.

O'BRIEN: Wow.

KEWRN: It's a testament to his legacy. Elvis is you know, a part of pop culture history. You know, without Elvis, there would be no Paul Simon and "Going to Graceland". You know, Elvis has influenced so many artists and that actually leads to another exhibit we've just done.

O'BRIEN: When you look -- I was going to say when you look at what you have brought in -- the shoes, the white shoes, it looks like they would be Elvis' shoes, but they are not.

KERN: Yes. We actually do have two shoes there. One is Elvis Presley's from the 1950s. Elvis would have worn that around '56. To the left of that is Justin Timberlake's white shoes. Justin, a native Memphian as well, wore those white shoes to the red carpet premiere because Elvis Presley wore the same white type white shoes.

We also have gold sunglasses there. We actually have them right here in front of us. These are Elvis' custom made gold sunglasses -- solid gold.

LEMON: Am I allowed to touch them?

KERN: I'll share a glove with you.

FUGELSANG: I was going to say -- can I just considering Lisa Marie was married to Michael Jackson, why are you wearing one glove?

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Wow.

KERN: I've got a few -- you know, these are Elvis' custom sunglasses and as you turn them on the side you actually see TCB and it stands for Taking Care of Business in a flash.

O'BRIEN: Beautiful. And whose are these?

KERN: And these are Katy Perry's sunglasses. A big Elvis fan. O'BRIEN: Can I touch those?

KERN: You can. You can touch these. These are bedazzled.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Plastic. Bedazzled.

KERN: She wore these on an "American Idol" appearance. But these are part of our Icon, the Influence of Elvis Presley; artists influenced by Elvis. We also have Bruce Springsteen' jacket. Bruce the most famous wall jumper at Graceland -- a lot of folks jumped the wall but Bruce was the most famous. He's a big Elvis fan.

O'BRIEN: Fantastic.

Kevin Kern, nice to have you. Thanks for being with us.

KERN: Thanks for having us. You all come see us in Memphis.

O'BRIEN: We're looking forward to -- we would love. Anybody says you all come see us -- you know. Appreciate that.

"End Point" is up next with our panel. Thank you. Thank you. And thanks for letting me touch it with the glove.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: "End Point".

THOMAS: I wouldn't do the "End Point" now.

O'BRIEN: Yes, you will. You've been nothing but --

THOMAS: If you begged me to do it.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: I'm going to beg you. Please, please, I'm begging. "End Point" in the 30 seconds I have left on the air. Jay?

THOMAS: No. I won't do it. I refuse.

O'BRIEN: I have never had someone refuse. Jay, last time. I'm begging.

THOMAS: The "End Point" is I'll come back because I need the publicity. Other than that I feel put upon when I come in here. Look at my arms.

O'BRIEN: Broke through all this violin (ph).

FUGELSANG: Jay never got a word in today -- So.

THOMAS: That's what I mean. I need you to pile on.

O'BRIEN: John? "End point" from you this morning.

FUGELSANG: Really quickly, the Facebook IPO road show comes out today and keeping with traditions Zuckerberg will change the format of the road show as soon as you get used to it.

O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you guys. Appreciate it. Let's get right to CNN Newsroom. I'll see everybody else back here tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m.

Carol, good morning.