CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

CIA Foils Airline Bomb Plot; Interview with Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana; Secretary Clinton Exclusive; Some Pilots Indicate Air Force's F-22 Too Dangerous to Fly; Romney: "I'll Take a Lot of Credit"; 42 Percent Obese by 2030?; Back in the Saddle

Aired May 8, 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: another foiled al Qaeda plot to blow up an airliner. This new information about the bomb, the drone strike that may have stopped, and just who tipped off homeland security.

Plus, a moderate voice now in trouble. The Senate's longest serving Republican is fighting an intense battle for his political life today. Will six-term Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana eke out a win? He's going to join us live, coming up.

And pilots refusing to fly the most expensive stealth jet in the U.S. arsenal. We'll tell you why they say it's unsafe ands why the Air Force is battling against those pilots.

It's Tuesday, May 8th. STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Oh, Rolando. I love Rolando. I love it when he says, hola, Soledad. Come on, Will Cain, how come you never sing that to me, man? Come on.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a long show to explain that.

O'BRIEN: That's what I love from you today.

Our panel this morning is John Fugelsang, political comedian.

JOHN FUGELSANG, RADIO PERSONALITY: Hola, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Thank you, John.

Abby Huntsman is with us as well, political commentator, the daughter of Jon Huntsman, former presidential candidate.

And Will Cain at the far end of the table.

CAIN: Where they like to seat me, where they like to seat me.

O'BRIEN: I can't reach you. When he's that far, I can't like smack at him. He's a columnist at theblaze.com.

Lots to get to this morning, including some new details about how the CIA stopped an al Qaeda plot to blow a passenger jetliner out of the sky and new fears about whether the bomb may have been undetectable.

We're learning that it was a tip from Saudi Arabia that led the CIA to the bomber. A senior official tells CNN that the intended user of the bomb is, quote, "not a threat anymore". We don't know if it means he's dead or if it means he's custody. Congressman Peter King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, breaking news here short time ago, saying the drone strike over the weekend is in fact connected.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Are these two things linked -- the drone attack over the weekend that was by U.S. accounts successful and foiling this plot?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Yes. I was told by the White House that they are connected. They are part of the same operation and that's why I said this operation is still ongoing.

And, by the way, everything that Fran Townsend said as usual makes a tremendous amount of sense. I'm just not in a position to say things that Fran does because of restrictions that I have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Everything Barbara Starr says at the Pentagon makes a tremendous amount of sense as well.

Barbara, let's begin with what exactly we know about, not only the bomb but also the bomber. Where is he?

BARBARA STAR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know where he is. And why isn't the administration telling us, Soledad? That is because by all accounts as the congressman said, and number of officials are telling us, intelligence operations remain in their words ongoing.

What Congressman King just said to you a little while ago is really critical. If you just parse what he said, what he's telling us, that there is a network of operatives, operations planning, going on with al Qaeda in Yemen known as al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, AQAP. AQAP is the network of al Qaeda that concerns the White House the most.

This potential bomber incident, you know, is now what, the third or so that they have tried to get in action against the United States -- the underwear bomber, the bombs on printer cartridges going on U.S. airliners and now this one. Their ability to reach out and potentially touch the U.S. is one of the most critical threats right now that the CIA is working on.

No surprise, that drone strike over the weekend, this takedown of a potential bomber, all of this really tied together to go after that network in Yemen.

O'BRIEN: And I think it's interesting that it is now being confirmed that tip came out of Saudi Arabia.

STARR: Oh, absolutely. The Saudis have one of the four most counterterrorism intelligence operations in that region of the world, Yemen their next door neighbor. They keep a very close eye on al Qaeda in Yemen because they worry, of course, about them coming across the border and destabilizing their government. We should expect to see more drone strikes, more operations against this al Qaeda organization.

The critical thing right now is to make sure that there are no more devices out there, no more direct operations aimed at the U.S. The administration says they have no direct intelligence about any direct threat to the U.S. but you can bet around the clock, they are looking for any information they can get their hands on.

O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us -- Barbara, thanks.

It is primary day in Indiana and in North Carolina and in West Virginia. And perhaps the most watched race of those three is Indiana, where the longest serving Republican in the U.S. Senate is now fighting for his political life. Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana is being challenged by the state's treasurer. His name is Richard Mourdock, and he's backed by many who are in the Tea Party movement.

According to one recent poll, he leads Senator Lugar, 48 percent to 38 percent. He's been chipping away at Lugar's lead by insisting that the 80-year-old is out of touch. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: Since 1976, Dick Lugar has voted for the Brady bill, the Bridge to Nowhere, the DREAM Act, the TARP bailout, Sonya Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, raising the debt ceiling.

Dick Lugar, no wonder he's called Obama's favorite Republican.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Senator Lugar joins us this morning. He's the ranking member of the foreign relations committee.

And we want to mention before we get to our interview that we invite -- in fact did invite Richard Mourdock on our program as well. He told us he was voting and wouldn't able to join us. He's going to join us tomorrow.

Senator, you served for 36 years. And now you find yourself in a position of being the underdog. How did you get here?

SEN. DICK LUGAR (R), INDIANA: We've got a vigorous campaign. I believe in fact that we're going to win the campaign. As a matter of fact, we've invited everybody in the state of Indiana who is a registered voter to vote for me today. And we see a very good turnout occurring here in Johnson County, a dynamic, growing county south of Indianapolis, people are streaming in and people that I've had a chance to visit with have indicated they're supporting us.

O'BRIEN: The polls, though, do not show that same support and at that could spell trouble for you. Is it indicative that someone who is a moderate is just going to -- is going to have a very tough fight on their hands this go around? I mean, is that really what we're seeing?

LUGAR: Well, we've had a vigorous campaign, but essentially, the bulk of the money being spent on the campaign has been by so-called outside interests. People have run negative ads for millions of dollars and not only super PACs, but various well known organizations.

Having said all of that, I believe that Hoosiers will, in fact, vote for me today. And we, as I say, invited all Hoosiers, not narrow group of persons who might have been polled and found at least shorthanded with that group.

O'BRIEN: Abby, go ahead.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, POLITICAL COMMENATOR: Senator Lugar, I wanted to bring in Senator Hatch in the conversation. You guys have similar situations. You both have been in the Senate for four decades. He's recently gone through -- he's managed himself, but he's had to separate himself from you know, key issues like health care, and immigration.

And I know that you've had to do the same thing to appeal to the base today. What does that say about our current system and the Republican Party?

LUGAR: All it says that those of us who are Republicans need to make certain that we enlarge our party, that we have people who will be independents in the past who are going to be independent Republicans, and independents generally, if we're going to favor our party. Because our party, at least in Indiana, is only about 35 percent of the electorate. In order for anybody to get majority, they're going to have a lot of other people.

So, I'm appealing to all of the people of Indiana -- and I emphasize all -- to ask for Republican ballot today and to vote for me.

O'BRIEN: So let's say as a hypothetical, your challenger is able to pull off a win. Would you do as some others have done who have a lot of experience in their position to go third party?

LUGAR: No. We cannot have a third party race in Indiana unlike Alaska or various other situations. This is it. Today is the day.

And I've emphasized that and I'm very hopeful that people will respond.

FUGELSANG: Senator, good morning. Are you concerned that the far right of your party is actually marginalizing the Republicans?

LUGAR: I'm not going to characterize any part of the Republican Party as marginalizing the rest. It's very competitive race for the Republican nomination. All I've said is that to be successful in the fall and in generally, we need to be a party that has a large majority of Hoosiers and Americans.

I tried to enlarge the party, been successful in the past. I believe we're going to be successful today in the general election. All of the polling that I've seen indicates that in a general election I would win if not by landslide, by a very large amount. This leads me to believe that a majority of Hoosiers are for me now and it's a question of getting those folks to the polls and turnout today.

CAIN: Senator Lugar, this is Will Cain.

The debate is obviously being set up that it's between a moderate and somebody on the far right wing, between the Tea Party and establishment. But I'm not 100 percent sure that's the debate that Indianans are having right now.

You know, you're 80 years old. You're running for a six-year term. You'll be 86 by the end of your next term. You've been in Congress -- you've been in the Senate for 36 years.

Is it a legitimate issue for voters in Indiana to look at your term and go, when is enough enough?

LUGAR: I don't think it's legitimate issue. I would just say I'm the only person to finish the Capitol challenge race the last 30 years and I intend to compete again this month.

We're not only 80 years of age but we're still running, not only for office but physically. I'm very grateful that God has given me the strength and vigor but we have it. We want to continue to exemplify it in the service of our country, and the very best interest of all Hoosiers.

O'BRIEN: That will be our final word this morning. Senator Dick Lugar joining us.

Good luck today. We'll check in with you tomorrow to see how the results were. Thanks for being with us.

LUGAR: Thank you. Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Time to get to other stories. Christine has a look at those.

Hey, Christine.

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

New fears this morning about the safety of two missing young Tennessee girls after the FBI identified the bodies of their mother and older sister. They were found buried in shallow graves, a mother in the older sister at a home in Mississippi where the man suspected of abducting the family had been staying.

There's a manhunt for the suspect, Adam Mayes. Police consider him armed and dangerous.

New research about Congress and your money. The Center for Responsive Politics reports Democrats on Capitol Hill are worth median $878,500. Republicans even more, $957,500. Of course, the median net worth for average Joe is about $96,000.

So, who are richest lawmakers in Washington? Senator John Kerry is worth $231 million. Much of that money comes from his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry's future. Car alarm tycoon, Congressman Darrell Issa, is worth the most, $448 million.

You can check out more of these numbers at CNNMoney.com.

U.S. stock futures down this morning indicating markets may open lower at 9:30 eastern. Concerns about future of Greece's government pushing markets down worldwide overnight.

Facebook fever comes to Boston today. CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicking off a cross-country road show yesterday in New York, meeting with potential investors wearing his hoodie, drumming up excitement for the company's IPO one week from Friday. Facebook executives will be in Boston today and then to Baltimore and Chicago. Not sure if Zuckerberg surrounded by police will make it to every stop.

Put a mortar board on a mop top. Legions of Twitter tweens congratulating Justin Bieber this morning after he announced he has officially earned his high school diploma. He says he stuck to it for his mom. Even though it was, you know, doing school work and work every day. You know, coming up with deep lyrics, like baby, baby, baby, oh, baby, on top of all that reading and writing and rhythmetic (ph), get it?

But congrats to Biebs. He's now a high school graduate, Soledad. We're so proud.

O'BRIEN: We add our congratulations as well. Proud of him. Good for him.

All right. Moving on.

FUGELSANG: The Beliebers are not going to like Christine's joke.

O'BRIEN: Yes, they will not -- his name was mentioned on TV. The Beliebers, which I have two at home, will love Christine's joke.

FUGELSANG: The Beliebers own Twitter.

O'BRIEN: That's correct. They do and they're all little.

STARTING POINT ahead this morning, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is going to join us live. You might remember him as the driving force behind the so-called Ground Zero mosque. This morning, we're going to talk about where that mosque is and get his latest on the terror threat that we've been discussing all morning and continue our discussion about the image of Islam.

Plus, Marilyn Monroe's lost nudes, 50 years after her death. We're going to show you some of the rare photos that are for sale.

Here's Marilyn, "I Want to Be Loved by You."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

You may remember him as the imam behind the mosque at Ground Zero. Today, Imam Feisal has a new book. It's called "Moving the Mountain: Beyond Ground Zero to a New Vision of Islam in America." And he joins us this morning.

It's nice to see you.

We spent a lot of time when the mosque at Ground Zero as it was being called -- we did a long interview --

(CROSSTALK)

IMAM FEISAL ABDUL RAUF, AUTHOR, MOVING THE MOUNTAIN: Indeed.

O'BRIEN: And there are lots of conversations came out of that.

You talk about this new vision of Islam in America. I wonder how hard it is to come up with a new vision and push it forward on a day like today when the top story is about a bomber, maybe in Yemen trying to get explosives onto a plane headed to America.

Do you feel like you are constantly pushing against what is a stereotypical take on Muslims outside of America?

RAUF: Absolutely, Soledad. And what people need to remember is that we are the primary victims of this kind of suicide bombing and terrorism.

O'BRIEN: How do you mean?

RAUF: The majority of those who have died as a result of suicide bombing with us in Yemen, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan have been Muslims. The statistics have shown that in tens of thousands. So we are the ones who are suffering the most. We are the ones who really, really plague (ph) from this. We absolutely abhor it. All --

O'BRIEN: Not to mention reputationally.

RAUF: It is. It's true. However, what is important for us is, in America, as Muslims in America, we are going through in many ways what you Catholics went through and Jews went through before when they first came here.

The Catholics were looked up with suspicion. John Kennedy was accused of being an agent of the Pope and Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was feared. There's a sense that Catholics is going to take over America. They talk about Catholic steam roller.

And we feel that it's now our turn to go through this baptism by fire. But I believe, just like American Catholics, they develop an American Catholicism, an American Catholic identity, the American Catholic bishops and writings of people John O'Malley (ph) played a very important role in bringing about Vatican II.

We also -- the need to develop a robust American Muslim identity in terms of theology and how we deal with gender equality, in terms of how we deal with our local society to develop a Muslim culture that is American just like -- this is happening right now. It's happening in the stories of girls dancing proms in Detroit or high school football teams doing their practices, you know, at night. So --

O'BRIEN: Are American Muslims looking for leadership? Do they feel disenfranchised caught between the Muslims that people think of overseas, maybe even coming to the United States to do harm and fighting that image problem?

RAUF: Well, there is -- there is a tension between the immigrant community which wants to hold onto its old world culture and second generation and third generation which is far more American rooted. There's always that tension between generations. It happens in all immigrant communities. It typically takes three generations for a new identity to evolve and new generation to emerge.

This is the important message of the book. It's a message of hope, and that we need this American-Muslim community and need to encourage it because they will be the ones who also will be the best bridges and the best interlocutors between America whom we are 99 percent loyal to and to our faith community.

And it's very important because America has enormous interest in the Muslim world, military, geopolitical. We have a basis in all of Muslim world. We have economic interest. We have our interest --

O'BRIEN: What does that mean 99 percent loyal to? What's the 1 percent?

RAUF: I mean, you know, there's never 100 percent on anything and there's always a percentage of people, a small percentage of people who, you know, who are extremists, who are radical and this is a battle that we all have to wage between our faith communities, because I believe -- again I make this point very strongly that the real battle front is not being Islam and West and Muslims and Christians, et cetera, but between the moderates of all faith traditions against extremists of all faith traditions.

And we need to develop this coalition across the faith communities to combat extremists in our midst.

O'BRIEN: What's happening with the mosque? Ground Zero mosque as everyone used to call it?

RAUF: Well, the dream is still alive. I always had this dream for the last 20 years to establish a place where Muslims and people of all faith religions can come and learn together and worship together and play together and have recreation and eat together, to learn about each other in an atmosphere of peace, because this will help not only what I speak about as an American Islamic identity, but also build that coalition across the faith communities that will enable us to combat common issues, which we all have, which is extremism.

O'BRIEN: Imam Feisal -- nice to see you. Thanks for being with us this morning. We appreciate it.

RAUF: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: The new book is called "Moving the Mountain: Beyond Ground Zero to a New Vision of Islam in America."

Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning: three countries in three days. Hillary Clinton says forget the makeup. She opens up exclusively to CNN about the focus on her looks.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Hillary Clinton easy for me to say. I'd do it again.

Hillary Clinton is wrapping up her visit to India this morning. CNN is the only network traveling with her. And our Jill Dougherty had a chance to sit down with the secretary. She joins us this morning.

Hey, good morning.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: So tell me a little bit about what Secretary Clinton was filling you in on. A lot of your conversation was about her travels in Delhi, but you also got into personal conversations with her as well.

DOUGHERTY: Yes. Well, I started -- you know, we sat down for this interview, and really, you have to look at her trip as starting and ending with this issue of Mr. Chen, Chen Guangcheng, the activist in China.

It really blew up as the secretary was there in Beijing at the beginning of the trip. It really kind of dogged her throughout.

So when we sat down, I wanted to find out, and the question I asked was: will the government of China follow through on its promise to let Mr. Chen come to the United States to study. So, here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think that we're looking forward to welcoming him to the United States. He is still in the hospital receiving medical treatment, some of which was recommended by the embassy doctors who examined him. We remain in close contact with him.

We know that Chinese officials have visited him in the hospital in order to begin processing necessary papers. We're doing the same in order to prepare the way so that he can come here and pursue his studies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOUGHERTY: And, you know, Soledad, also, on this trip, no matter where you go and especially at a town hall in Calcutta, there was an issue of Hillary Clinton herself personally what she's like, what she's like as a woman. She talked about the glass ceiling and double standards.

And lo and behold, now in the blogosphere, there's talking about Hillary without makeup. Hillary with glasses. So I asked her about that from sublime to the ridiculous, and here's what she talked -- she said about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I feel so relieved to be at the stage I'm at in my life right now, Jill, because if I want to wear my glasses, I'm wearing my glasses. If I -- you know, want to pull my hair back, I'm pulling my hair back.

And, you know, at some point, it's just not -- it's just not something that deserves a whole lot of time and attention. If others want to worry about it, I'll let them do the worrying for a change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: God, I completely I agree with her. Jill Dougherty, this morning for us --

DOUGHERTY: I think that was -- yes, let Hillary be Hillary.

O'BRIEN: You know what? Everybody be everybody. I feel like standing up saying, we hear you, sister. Wouldn't it be great to do the show hair in a pony tail, no makeup, sweats on?

Jill, thank you.

FUGELSANG: I was telling Abby this morning how great Hillary Clinton looks with her hair long again. So, I feel so ashamed.

O'BRIEN: You just say that -- shallow, shallow, shallow.

FUGELSANG: We never look about men's appearance.

O'BRIEN: She's secretary of state. Talk about her hair. Talk about what she's doing in Delhi.

FUGELSANG: I like that too.

CAIN: People are likable when they are not running for something. I disagree with her on so much, but when she's not running trying to please other people, she's very likable. Most people are. Quit running.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Wisdom from Will today as we go to commercial break.

FUGELSANG: If you are not running for something, you are likable.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, coughing, dizziness, headaches. We're going to talk this morning about pilots who are refusing to fly a fighter plane because they say it's making them sick, and the congressman that helped those pilots come forward will be up next.

Coaches orders to play dumb -- an ex New Orleans Saints is making that claim, opening up about the bounty scandal and how he was told to keep it under wraps. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: The Air Force is fighting back against pilots who say the F-22 next generation jet is making them sick and putting them at risk for serious accidents. The Air Force says they'll keep using those jets so they're the Air Force's most sophisticated and expensive aircraft. But two captains say they and others have become too disorientated to fly them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. JOSH WILSON, AIR FORCE: Several times during the flight I had to really concentrate on just doing simple, simple tasks. And our training tells you if you suspect, something is probably going on, go ahead pull your emergency oxygen and come back home. When I did make that decision to pull the emergency oxygen ring, I couldn't find it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: It turns out that oxygen ring hadn't moved. He was so confused he couldn't find it. The commander of the air combat command, General Mike Hoskins, says this, "Right now we believe that risk, although it's not as low as we would like it, is low enough to safely operate the airplane at the current tempo." Congressman Adam Kinzinger is giving those pilots whistle-blower protection under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, and he joins us this morning. Thanks for being with us. When you first heard their story, what did you think?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R) ILLINOIS: You know, I was pretty much overwhelmed and what was amazing to me is 18 percent of Raptor pilots have experienced this condition at some point or another. This is a real issue. You know, I think the F-22 is an important piece of our arsenal. I think it's a devastating aircraft that can do great harm to our enemy and we need it. We need to figure out what the issue is and solve it so these pilots can safely fly the aircraft and defend our country.

O'BRIEN: Here's what the Air Force said, "The 14 unexplained physiological incidents before the May 2011 stand down and the 11 incidents after September 2011 return to flight, represent an incident rate below 0.1 percent whether considered in terms of sortie numbers or flight hours," meaning it sounds like a little issue and they're comfortable with that. How do you respond to that?

KINZINGER: Here's a couple issues. Number one, what is actually being reported? Pilots know if they go in and complain of headaches or a cough or any severe symptoms, in many cases it is could mean the flight doc grounds them and they may not be able to fly again. So you have a lot of pilots that won't necessarily report this. I can tell you as a military pilot myself, if you have a physical ailment, the first thing do you is not run into the flight doc. You don't want that known.

But the other part of that is 18 percent of pilots of Raptor pilots have had some kind of an incident. I don't think there's an attempt to cover up a problem here. I don't think there's any scandal going on. What I think is important is we get to the bottom of what this problem is and I want to make sure that pilots that have come forward are not being judged or potentially in disciplinary action where they have wings taken away because we are taught from the very beginning if you suspect an unsafe condition, it is not just your right but your responsibility to come forward and make that condition known.

O'BRIEN: How are you going to do that? The thing you learn is don't run into the doc the minute you have some kind of a flight where there may be an issue and everyone is trained that way. Don't run into the doc because otherwise you may be grounded. How do you move from getting accurate statistics that could ground the F-22?

KINZINGER: We've requested information from a survey done of an F-22 pilot. The Air Force claimed executive privilege on that where they can come forward and talk about their concerns and culture built around safety. Josh and Jeremy were very brave, frankly, in coming forward. These are heroes that love to defend their country and love flying the F-22. They made known this issue to say let's fix it to go back to flying F-22 and not worrying about whether our judgment isn't all there. Let's get focused on training to shoot bad guys out of the sky. That's what they can do well and what we need to be focused on doing.

O'BRIEN: Lockheed Martin and other defense contractors are facing a lawsuit from the wife of another pilot who died when he was flying his F-22 on a training mission back in 2010. Here's what Lockheed Martin said about that. "We do not agree with the agencies and we will respond to them through the appropriate legal process." When they were on "60 Minutes," though, two of the pilots said they don't feel safe enough to fly, so they stopped. Let me play a clip of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was asked to make a decision that day whether I wanted to fly or find another line of work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fly or you're out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So what do you think of that decision? You have flown in the Air Force yourself. You are now with the air National Guard. Are they being put in these impossible positions to make that kind of a decision not only about careers but also career versus potential safety?

KINZINGER: Yes, I think so. And again in pilot training we're taught that if there's an unsafe condition, it doesn't matter the rank of the person, you have a responsibility to come out and say that. Again, the concern is if there's another accident, god forbid, or if there's a problem, they have a clear conscience they have come forward and talked about it.

Again, I don't believe there's a big cover up on the Air Force's side. If you have pilots that are uncomfortable flying this plane but they are heroes, the ones every day stay up I want to fly and protect my country, they shouldn't be threatened with having wings taken away, with disciplinary actions, and one pilot is being threatened with disciplinary actions because he came forward with a problem and because he's not flying this aircraft.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Adam Kinzinger joining us, a Republican from the state of Illinois. Thank you for being here. Appreciate it.

KINZINGER: It was great being here.

O'BRIEN: It's time to get to Christine Romans for an update on the day's top stories. Hey, Christine.

ROMANS: Good morning, Soledad.

A former speech writer for John Edwards is expected to testify later today in the former senator's corruption trial. Wendy Button is expected to tell the court Edwards admitted knowing about nearly $1 million in donations from wealthy supporters that was being used to cover up his extramarital affair. Yesterday the attorney for a 101- year-old billionaire donor at the center of the trial told jurors his client knew the two $725,000 she gave the former presidential candidate was not being used as a campaign contribution.

A former player for the New Orleans saints says coaches told him to deny the team's bounty program. Ex-defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove submitted a signed statement accusing coaches of telling him to, quote, "play dumb." Hargrove says he did as he was instructed denying knowledge of the program to an NFL security officer back in 2010.

Bidding on Marilyn Monroe's last sitting. A set of rare prints from Monroe's last photo shoot, they'll be up for auction today in New York City. Monroe posed topless for these pictures. They were originally taken for "Vogue" in 1962 just six weeks before Marilyn Monroe's death.

Police in Springfield, Massachusetts, releasing surveillance video showing a woman being confronted at knife point while with her four-year-old daughter. But check this out. After refusing to give up her purse, the woman runs away, leaving her daughter. Luckily the girl was able to get away too. The mother was stabbed in the collarbone as she tried desperately to get into a store and away from the attacker. She is OK but police are still looking for that attacker, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Wow.

ROMANS: You can't hear audio so you don't know if mother is telling the daughter to run. It also looks as though he kind of grabbed the daughter's collar or shirt too. So a very chaotic moment there as the mother and she was stabbed trying to get away.

O'BRIEN: It goes so fast on that tape, my goodness. Christine, thank you.

Still ahead this morning, on STARTING POINT, if America doesn't shape up, we're going to soon be shelling out billions of dollars in medical costs. Some disturbing new numbers about obesity this morning and how much we're all going to be paying for it. Plus Mitt Romney famously opposed the auto bailout. So why is he now taking credit for the auto industry's success? You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Mitt Romney says he deserves a lot of credit for rescuing America's auto industry. The Former Governor has been blasted by Democrats and Republicans alike for his views back in 2008 that we should let Detroit go through a managed bankruptcy.

But listen to what he told a reporter in Cleveland yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The auto companies needed to go through bankruptcy before government help and frankly that's finally what the President did. He finally took them through bankruptcy. That was the right course I argued for from the very beginning. And finally when that was done and help was given, the companies got back on their feet.

So I'll -- I'll take a lot credit for the fact that this industry has come back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Ok.

JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: He'll take a lot of credit for it.

O'BRIEN: For the industry coming back versus I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that I had an idea that eventually parts that I did were used in how they managed the bankruptcy of what was happening in the auto industry.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right and we are -- we're saying you know he -- during this -- when it took place, he wasn't in a government position to speak out about this or to really be listened to by people that made the decision so to now want to get credit for it --

O'BRIEN: That's why you do an op-ed right? Everyone reads the op-ed and actually have the ability to make this happen so I'm going to write about it in the op-ed. Yes interesting.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know when history looks through its rearview mirror and looks at the auto bailouts, I'm not sure -- we all don't know yet whether or not Mitt Romney wants to take credit for the auto bailouts. Will it work in the long run, it will work the short term for politics that's pretty clear and that's why he wants to take credit now.

FUGELSANG: Well, that good thing is if it doesn't work out, he can say he was never for it.

HUNTSMAN: He's in the best position of all time.

O'BRIEN: I could have made that joke.

FUGELSANG: It's like Bill Buckner taking credit for winning game six against the Mets in the World Series. I mean this is like Gargamel taking credit for saving the Smurfs. He was against it, this is another flip-flop. And this is why so Republicans are so angry at the Governor. CAIN: I'll be -- I mean, he's arguing that he influenced the process of pushing the car companies into some managed bankruptcy process where they got renegotiate pensions and union contracts. Did they effect it -- is the difference today --

O'BRIEN: No but he has said, he said, I'll take credit for saving --

(CROSSTALK)

FUGELSANG: I'll take a lot of credit for it.

O'BRIEN: Yes that -- well there go the problem I think.

FUGELSANG: Thanks, Mitt.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT --

FUGELSANG: He did say Cadillac. Ann has a couple of those.

O'BRIEN: Our fat future and new obesity numbers are spelling a lot of trouble for waistlines and wallets too. We'll explain why straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Staggering new warning this morning. A new report says that 42 percent -- 42 percent of the U.S. population could be obese by 2030. And it is predicted that that would lead to an additional $550 billion in medical bills over that same time frame.

Let's go right to CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's in Atlanta. Sanjay before we get to numbers, explain to me why we are getting that fat so quickly?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well you know, if there's any good news in this -- and I'm not sure there's a lot Soledad -- is that the numbers are actually originally expected to be worse. They said 51 percent at one time they predicted the nation would be obese. This is adults by the year 2030.

So that 42 percent is still nothing -- nothing great obviously; 11 percent they think will be severely obese.

Look, Soledad you'll hear a lot of the same sort of things that you've heard for some time. And you've been covering this for -- for a long time as have I, too many fast food restaurants. It's too inexpensive to get unhealthy calories, there's not enough perks, too many roads, all those things -- those keep coming up. And despite the fact that those messages have been heard and understood, the problem just keeps getting worse.

I think you know there's -- there's a lot to it at the individual level I think simple things can help. You know simply eating more food in the morning they find. Getting up and walking around. But I think there's a larger problem. And that is that it's not just how much we eat but what we're eating as well.

You know sugar, for example -- I'll just give you a quick example -- probably behaves differently in the body than just about any other calorie. It makes you gain weight but it also creates these -- these lipids that are really bad for the heart and raises insulin levels and makes you store even more fat.

So for a long time we thought health foods for example were low fat, high sugar foods. And -- and as we -- as we became that country that ate that kind of diet, the problem just became even worse -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: And more expensive. Sanjay you have a story this morning --

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: Yes.

O'BRIEN: -- about a young woman. A really inspiring girl who uses horseback riding to try to get over an injury. Tell us about her.

GUPTA: Yes, she's an amazing person. Krystal Greco, you know, imagine this. You're 14 years old. And you know you've got your whole life in front of you. And then literally you wake up one morning and suddenly things are different, catastrophically different. What -- what would you do? Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRYSTAL GRECO, 16-YEAR-OLD PARAPLEGIC: At X circle left 20 meters.

GUPTA (voice-over): Riding horses has been her passion since she was four years old. First came lessons and then shows, she even worked at a barn. But two years ago all of that came to a screeching halt for 16-year-old Krystal Greco.

GRECO: I was getting a shower. I felt some muscle cramps in my mid back.

GUPTA: She got out and got dressed.

GRECO: I felt a sharp explosion of pain.

GUPTA: By the time she arrived at the hospital, she couldn't walk. The cause, a ruptured disk in her spine.

GRECO: They told me that I had a bruised spinal cord and that I was a paraplegic from the waist down.

GUPTA: Krystal had congenital stenosis; it's the narrowing of the spinal canal that encases the spinal cord. After surgery she was transferred to the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. GRECO: It is very, very, very intensive therapy for at least two hours twice a day every day.

GUPTA: She pushed herself hard, determined to walk again and get back on a horse.

GRECO: I wanted to get back to my normal life. I didn't want to sit and mope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're ok.

GRECO: Yes.

GUPTA: Seven months after leaving Kennedy Krieger the hospital, she was competing in horse shoes again. Doctors call her recovery remarkable. She's regained movement in her hips and her knees and sensation has returned to her legs.

GRECO: Eventually I do want to walk again. And I can see that mentally as a -- a realistic goal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Now I tell you Soledad, I know you ride horses as well. The whole idea of riding a horse for someone who has weakness in their legs or even paraplegia like Krystal did, it actually is pretty good at mimicking some of the movements that you need in your upper legs as well to try and regain walking.

And so she's doing this, she's encouraging other kids as well who have similar problems to do the same.

O'BRIEN: Yes and what a great experience that you really cannot walk to be able on a horse and jump and ride and do those things is pretty amazing for a young woman.

All right Sanjay, that's a great story. I appreciate it.

GUPTA: You got it.

O'BRIEN: "End point" with our panel is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: And John Fugelsang is going it off for our "End Point".

FUGELSANG: Thank you Soledad. I'll be appearing at the Barrymore Theater in Madison on Friday and the State Theater in Minneapolis on Saturday. And to our friends in North Carolina voting today. Please remember being gay is natural and hating gay is a lifestyle choice.

HUNTSMAN: I don't know how to follow that.

O'BRIEN: I know. Really. Where are you appearing?

(CROSSTALK)

HUNTSMAN: I'm not appearing anywhere, you know.

O'BRIEN: You're here with us. You're appearing --

HUNTSMAN: I did get to meet Marcus (inaudible) that was -- he's been a hero of mine so that was an honor. People like him that make us so grateful especially with all the uncertainties going on in the world today. That was my --

O'BRIEN: He was truly inspiring. (inaudible)

CAIN: That was actually going to be my "End Point" as well. Meeting guys like Marcus Latrell (ph) another guy Brandon Web, he's former Navy SEALs they're really honestly what superheroes are. I mean it's kind hard to meet them and not kind of be in awe.

HUNTSMAN: Maybe he should run for president, I don't know.

O'BRIEN: And I love when he says, you know, he's afraid. I love the honesty that goes with that.

CAIN: It shows superheroes are human beings as well.

O'BRIEN: We agree together, will, on something today. It's going to be a good -- what, are we on Tuesday? It's going to be a good Tuesday. Still ahead on starting point tomorrow, he's a senator and former Olympic gold medalist and NBA star. Senator Bill Bradley is going to join us.

Also the Brown family from the TLC reality show "Sister Wives" -- we have the senator and then just crazy.

(CROSSTALK)

HUNTSMAN: That's going to be on air tomorrow. Yes you are. Yes you are.

O'BRIEN: You'll be in Madison.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins tomorrow. I'll see everybody else back here tomorrow morning starting at 7:00 a.m. Hey Carol -- good morning.