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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Interview with James Carville; Senator Dick Lugar Loses Primary Challenge for GOP Senate Nomination; Interview with Richard Mourdock; Bomber was Undercover Agent; "We Can All Do Better"; Becoming Sister Wives

Aired May 9, 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: And thank you and welcome and good morning, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, the informant, the CIA with eyes in the sky, a mole on the ground. Brand new details this morning on how the U.S. unraveled a plot by al Qaeda to blow a plane out of the sky.

Also developing overnight, bomb threats, detour, two Southwest Airlines flights. We'll give you the details on that.

And voted out after 36 years, Senate veteran, Richard Lugar, loses. What are the implications that that could have across the entire country? We're going to talk to the man who beat him this morning.

Also a man, his four wives, their 17 children. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like it a lot. All right. Are we a special family? Yes, we're special.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. We want to keep the family together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Oh, yes. That's got to be chaos. The cast with the hit reality show, "Sister Wives," will join us live this morning.

It is Wednesday, May 9th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

O'BRIEN: I like it. I like it.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: That is the choice this morning of "Sister Wives" star Janelle Brown. We're going to hear from that family, that big, crazy chaotic family a little bit later this hour.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Barry White, hello.

O'BRIEN: No, I get it. Thank you, Roland Martin for point that out.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Roland is back on our panel this morning. I can see how this morning is going to go. Thank you for pointing out the obvious. Also with us Will Cain. Good morning, Will.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Margaret Hooper is with us, as well, a former campaign staffer for President Bush and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. And she is the great granddaughter of President Herbert Hoover.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Let's get to our starting point this morning. A Senator for 36 years ousted by a Tea Party candidate who says we need less cooperation in Congress and more confrontation in Congress. Richard Lugar lost yesterday's primary in Indiana to the Tea Party backed Richard Mourdock.

James Carville is a Democratic strategist and he joins us this morning. Nice to see you, as always. There are many, many iterations, James, of what happened in this race. Tea party, he was out of touch. He was a victim of his own sort of failures to navigate his own campaign. There's an anti-incumbent vibe. Is the big moral in this particular story moderates have no place in Congress right now?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: First of all, he didn't lose. He got smoked. He --

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Oh, sorry, let me change that, smoked.

CARVILLE: That was -- so let's start with that. What it means is this. It's pretty clear now if you're a Republican senator and you're voting, you better fall in line because if you don't, people going to get in line to run against you. That's very clear this happened to Senator Lugar. And there for the grace of god, I'm lining up --

O'BRIEN: Which means what for Congress now?

CARVILLE: Between what the right wing pollution industry, the anti-science people, the everything else want, you better get in line because if you don't, they're going to run somebody against you. MARTIN: But James, Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas, exact same thing, conceived as a liberal Democrat --

CARVILLE: She got beat in the general.

MARTIN: Right.

CARVILLE: Can't beat in the general. This is an entirely different thing, entirely different thing. She won the primary. This is what happens. So when you fear becomes that you're going to be defeated in a primary that is an entirely different kind of behavior than the fear you're going to get beat in the general. That's an entirely different thing.

O'BRIEN: Extrapolate that for me for what Congress is going to look like. Does it mean if everybody --

CARVILLE: He hasn't won the general yet.

(CROSSTALK)

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Let's be clear. This election may actually not change the balance of power in the Senate anyway. In fact, Indiana was trending red anyway. Republicans likely wouldn't have lost the seat. So hitting their 50 mark and taking back the Senate, this has brought the context of the Senate --

CARVILLE: That's going to change something to begin with. And it's not a given that the Republicans are going to win the state now. They've got a pretty good shot.

HOOVER: OK. But Indiana is still trending red. President Obama's approval ratings are down in Indiana.

MARTIN: Trending rate doesn't mean hard red.

HOOVER: And he barely won Indiana. You never have to ask me to --

CARVILLE: It's always been red. It's not trending red.

CAIN: I've been trying to win this guy over for a year and a half through the camera. I'm going to try in person. I think we are going to draw huge lessons out of Indiana. The bottom line is if you're an incumbent, you've got trouble. 17 governments in Europe, 12 of them overturned from Sarkozy to Greece to Merkel. You've got Lugar in trouble on the right. Bottom line, we're coming of a debt high and everybody's in trouble.

CARVILLE: Don't equate that with Lugar. He's the longest-serving Republican in the United States Senate. Secondly, if this hasn't happened before, if it didn't happen in Utah before, OK, if they wouldn't have scared the you-know-what out of John McCain, I think this is actually one of the instances where it is valid to draw some very big conclusions. What you say is exactly right. One point you make is exactly right.

O'BRIEN: Which is what?

CARVILLE: That Republicans disputed the left, Republican moderates are really at risk when they get primaries. Incumbents are not doing well in the world.

CAIN: That's my point.

CARVILLE: I would buy that point.

MARTIN: To your point, that is the issue. And that is when you have fewer moderate Republicans, when you have folks -- when you have freedom works saying do not work with the other side. All you're simply asking for is more contention, more drama in the Senate and what you actually need is you need people who do know how to reach across the aisle. To his point about Senator John McCain, he was perceived as the guy who can reach across -- who's left? Lindsey Graham?

CARVILLE: Look at Olympia Snowe. And you would have thought Maine would have been much easier place. But the point I wrote a piece. The Obama people are very smug. What incumbent would be very smug right now? Nobody.

O'BRIEN: The title of your piece is "Wake Up, Democrats, You Could Lose." You think that "Democrats around the country are going to win as I hear time and time again from the people on the street. Democratic fundraisers, activists, and supporters alike collectively lapsed into the sentiment that the president is going to be reelected and we have a good shot to take back the house and hold the Senate. I ask, what are you smoking, drinking, snorting, or just what the h you thinking? Look around the world. Do you see any governments or incumbents winning elections out there?" So you agree with the incumbent issue, clearly.

CARVILLE: Of course I do. But in the United States the incumbents got wiped out in '08, they got wiped out in 2010, they got wiped out here. You go to Europe, you go anywhere. Why would a political party that is in power that's tight in the polls that does not raise as much as any other party, Democrats tell me all the time, it'll be all right, aren't we?

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Don't you think that comment was that -- what was that?

CARVILLE: I'm the captain going --

HOOVER: And the question is, was the source of that sound that you just made and that overconfidence potentially that the fact that during the primary season, which, frankly, even Republicans admit became a bit of a circus, ended up hurting the brand of the Republican party, 20 plus debates. For the Democrats paying attention, it was easy to become -- CARVILLE: It was delightful.

HOOVER: But the reality is, the majority of Americans weren't watching during the presidential primary because they tune in August and September when there are nominees of both parties and that's when most of them pay attention.

CARVILLE: One of the reasons, because Mitt Romney is not just a bad presidential candidate. He might be the worst I've ever seen. Just look at yesterday when he said they ought to give him credit for the auto bailout. He actually said that. I mean, I've never seen -- the charge is that his foreign policy has a mentality, so they call a press conference and put the experts on the phone and talk about Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. You can't make this up. A campaign cannot be as bad as he is.

O'BRIEN: That's versus smugness, and sometimes smugness will lose that fight.

MARTIN: And look, Soledad, to James' point from the Democrats getting comfortable, when you look at the numbers in terms of the critical states. Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, those states, the president has a huge lead, in many ways they are tied. You look at voter suppression efforts, voter I.D.s., he's not going to win by 10 million votes. OK? It's going to be a lot tighter. If you're a democrat, the smart thing to say is you're treated like an underdog and work from behind to work your butt off. You get comfortable, you're going to lose come November.

O'BRIEN: Let me talk to you about Joe Biden for a minute. A couple things that had everybody jumping, all right. Let's play them, shall we? This is Joe Biden on Iran first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: When we took office, let me remind you, there was no international pressure on Iran. We were the problem. We were diplomatically isolated in the world, in the region. By going the extra diplomatic mile, presenting Iran with a clear choice, we demonstrated to the region end of the world that Iran is the problem, not the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: OK, so that's the vice president saying America was the problem then. Earlier in the week talked about gay marriage. I want to play that clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men and women marrying women and heterosexual men and women are entitled to the same rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And I don't see much of a distinction beyond that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: Is there a strategy in this? Is this one of those --

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: I don't know. And I ask that every time we -- from the gales of laughter, I'm going to say no.

HOOVER: More politics. It's happens the way it happens. It's less strategic than people think.

CARVILLE: That's always believable when you said the vice president said something. Maybe there's a strategy there. He just said something, it might have been what he thought at the time. Yes. Honestly, I don't know, but it could have been that he just said it.

O'BRIEN: You're at a loss for words.

CARVILLE: I'm willing to concede in his instance, there was not a strategy involved.

CAIN: James, honestly, if you were part of this Obama reelection campaign, what would you say to Biden?

CARVILLE: I would say he's done pretty good. A lot better over the last few times than I had any right to expect. People like Biden in Washington. Everybody knows him, likes him. I think he's done the president a good job. And he's not Joe Biden if he doesn't --

MARTIN: People have to understand when you look at the critical negotiation that are taking place between this administration and congress, Joe Biden has been the one sitting at the table.

O'BRIEN: And suddenly all these issues brought up that maybe they don't want to be discussing at this moment.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: You're not voting for him, though. You're voting for vice president Barack Obama.

CAIN: When James said he enjoyed how much Democrats are viewing the process. We love it when Joe Biden talks. I think Joe Biden -- sometimes it's good, he supports gay marriage, sometimes it's too good. Foreign policy and economics, keep talking, Joe.

CARVILLE: He's done a good job and he hasn't said as many things that have gotten him in trouble that one would assume.

O'BRIEN: As many bad things as we thought he might be saying at this time.

CAIN: Joe's a great guy.

CARVILLE: Let Biden be Biden.

HOOVER: Will the president switch him out?

CARVILLE: No, that would be -- when people say that -- he'd look weak.

MARTIN: If for three months he couldn't say anything about the campaign, Biden is an asset. People like Joe Biden.

CARVILLE: Our view would be why give a guy who is doing a good job, why give him the rub?

O'BRIEN: He says crazy stuff that we get to parse on morning TV.

CARVILLE: There's Democrats saying -- we don't think it's crazy, we think it's --

O'BRIEN: No, there's implications of that that everybody's dealing with at the White House. That's the problem. I appreciate you joining us this morning.

CARVILLE: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: We've got to get to a look at the headlines. Christine Romans has those as we parse through the noises here. Good morning, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. The FBI investigating two different air scares this morning to find out if they're linked. Both were southwest airline flights from John Wayne airport in California to Sky Harbor in Phoenix. One flight was searched by a bomb squad and dogs before takeoff. Air traffic control being very careful as they guided the plane to an isolated area.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On to the runway and just taxi southbound and I will advise. Just take your time, go down to the end of the runway and turn left. And while you're in the area, at least remain this frequency in case I have some problems with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The other southwest flight was searched after it landed in phoenix. Both planes were given the all clear.

The would-be bomber in a thwarted plot to blow up a U.S. airliner was actually an undercover agent working with Saudi Arabia to infiltrate Al Qaeda. The device they were going to use was similar to this one used by the so-called underwear bomber back in 2009 but much more sophisticated.

Over the weekend, a U.S. drone strike in Yemen took out a key Al Qaeda leader believed to be involved in planning this attack. But the expert bomb maker is still out there. Congressman Peter King, chairman of the house homeland security committee told Anderson Cooper that all these leaks could jeopardize the search for al-Quso.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: As far as I know, this has not been declassified by the CIA or by the administration and it's really to me unfortunate that this has gotten out because this could really interfere with operations overseas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That new Al Qaeda bomb is now at the FBI lab for analysis. He's considered armed and dangerous. FBI and police are combing two states to find the kidnapping suspect Adam Mayes and save two young girls. Surveillance video shows Mayes in a Mississippi convenience store just days after the alleged abduction of Joanne Bane and her four daughters from their home in Tennessee. The mother and oldest daughter were found dead in the backyard of Mayes' home in Mississippi. Now Mayes' mother and ex-wife are in custody, accused of helping in the aggravated kidnapping. The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to Mayes and the two girls.

Minding your business this morning, the 99 percent planning to occupy Charlotte, North Carolina, this morning, the corporate home of bank of America where its annual shareholder meeting happens today. Protesters are unhappy with the bank's foreclosure practices and investments in coal mining.

Also worth noting, if you are a bank of America mortgage loan customer, watch your mailbox this week. You could get a notice related to that big mortgage settlement announced earlier this year. The bank is sending out letters to people eligible for principal reduction on their mortgage loans. It could mean up to -- well, could mean some significant savings for some customers.

A check on the markets now -- U.S. stocks open lower. DOW futures down 90 points, markets down yesterday too because of concerns about a slowdown in worldwide economies especially in Europe. Oil prices down too. Oil is down nine percent over the past five days. That means you can expect lower gas prices still over the next few weeks, as a result. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Like to hear that. Thanks, Christine, appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, the shocking sight, a terrible sound. Take a look at this dash cam video of a school bus running over a child. We'll talk about what happened here -- horrible.

Also we're going to speak with Richard Mourdock. He unseats the longest serving GOP senator in the country. He is going to join us live up next.

And from his play list U2 "Beautiful Day." You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We were talking a few minutes ago about Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock's win over long time senator Dick Lugar. He had some success linking Senator Lugar to President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've worked with Republican senator Dick Lugar to pass a law.

What I did was reach out to Senator Dick Lugar.

I'm interested in figuring out my foreign policy. I associate myself with Joe Biden or with Dick Lugar, the Republican ranking member.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Richard Mourdock is a Republican nominee from Indiana. Congratulations, sir, nice to have you with us. We appreciate your time. Give me a sense of why you think you won. I mentioned a couple of reasons people have been talking about, but why do you think you won?

RICHARD MOURDOCK, (R) INDIANA SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, all politics are local, Soledad, as you know. And the fact is Mr. Lugar had long distanced himself to Indiana Republicans, moved out of the state in 1977 and frankly hadn't been back very often, especially in the last ten years. And people in Indiana want to know who is representing them, want to be able to talk to them. And I think that was the biggest liability that Mr. Lugar carried into this race.

O'BRIEN: Mr. Lugar sent out a message to his supporters and others, I guess, as well, and he said it was about an anti-incumbent head winds. He also said linking him to Senator Obama at the time would be used against him and that he was also a target of Club for Growth and FreedomWorks. And Club for Growth sent out an e- mail saying total independent expenditures by Club for Growth entities combined amounted to 40 percent of all independent expenditures in Indiana's Senate race in the last 30 days before Election Day. Do you think he has a point, which is funding from major sources somewhere between $2 million from them, $4 million total was really what helped push you over?

MOURDOCK: Well, there's no question with the independent expenditure campaigns that were coming in on both sides it got to be a very expensive race for both of us, and for those independent expenditure PACs. But those packs coming in on our behalf represent a special interest group, if you will. They're called conservatives. People from all over the United States who want to see the United States Senate controlled by not just Republicans but by conservatives who are willing to get in this race. They want to be heard. And it's a legitimate part of the process. CAIN: Mr. Mourdock, this is Will Cain. Let's talk about what it is you would represent to conservatives. If you had to pick one senator holding office, who would you model yourself after? Who would you say you want to be like?

MOURDOCK: Well, I would give you a couple. Certainly Jim DeMint is one, Mike Lee from Utah is another. I am a conservative. I believe that what we have to have for economic recovery is more rolled back government, scaled back. We need to get the economy going. This campaign is -- as much as the negative ads were beating up on things of the past. We were talking about the future in front of audiences. We've got to get our economy growing and we've got to scale back government, lowering taxes, and giving stability in the capital market.

HOOVER: Mr. Mourdock, Margaret Hoover here. A follow- up question. Many people have likened Jim DeMint and the tea party to not compromising in the Senate. And what would you say? I want to give you an opportunity to respond. What would you say when people criticize you as saying you don't understand the nature of the institution you're running to represent the Senate which is really premised on the notion of compromising with your colleagues?

MOURDOCK: Well, I'm a huge student of American history, and I recognize that this is one of those times where there's great polarization between the two parties. And, frankly, the ideas for which the parties are working are really at opposite ends of the spectrum. I don't think there's going to be a lot of successful compromise. Hence you have the deadlock we have today.

What I've said about compromise, I hope to build a conservative majority in the U.S. Congress so bipartisanship becomes Democrats joining Republicans to roll back the size of government, reduce the bureaucracy, and get America moving again. The stimulus plan hasn't worked.

O'BRIEN: What I hear you say is you're not going to compromise. In fact the only compromise you'll do is really getting other people on the other side of the aisle to come to your side of the aisle, which is the definition against compromise. You said this in the "New York Times" --

MOURDOCK: Well, it is the definition of political effectiveness.

O'BRIEN: True. So political effectiveness you are saying is not possible with compromise. Some people would say political effectiveness in the Senate actually requires compromise. There are many issues that cannot be done if you do not get bipartisan support. You're not going to work toward bipartisan support?

MOURDOCK: Well, the fact is, you never compromise on principles. If people on the left they have a principle to standby, they should never compromise, and those of us on the right should not either. Compromise may come in the finer details of the plan or the budget. But the real principles I've mentioned about having government rolled back in size, lowering taxes, those are the principles that caused me to get in the race. They're what has motivated many people to get out and work for us. And we are at that point where one side or the other has to win this argument. One side or the other will dominate.

O'BRIEN: You told the "New York Times," "The time for being collegial has passed. It's time for confrontation." When I talk to people frustrated about a lack of what's getting done in Washington, D.C., I mean there's genuine frustration and the anger can be seen on some of the poll numbers -- I think approval is probably 17 percent approval for congress -- doesn't going in with an attitude potentially, of course, if you're able to be victorious at the very end that collegial has passed and we're going to be confrontational, doesn't that just undermine any sense of trying to get Americans united and together and raise some of those numbers for approval, frankly?

MOURDOCK: Well, we are at that point right now. Where you want to see where we have collegiality? OK, we have collegiality and we have Congress with collegiality.

O'BRIEN: I don't know that you have collegiality, sir. I'm going to argue against that.

MOURDOCK: Well, I -- my point was in that interview and it is still today, those who are saying we need more collegiality, Mr. Lugar was seen as a collegial person, and yet there was that very frustration. I'm certain part of the reason we won was the fact we mentioned that Congress is seen as so unpopular because it's so ineffective. I want to confront the issues. I'm bipartisan in the sense I want to confront the big spenders who are both Republicans and Democrats. I want to confront those who would protect the bureaucracy rather than the Republicans or Democrats. That's the kind of confrontation we need to address the real issues that will get this country going again.

We have a difficult time ahead, we have to make tough decisions, I'm willing to make them. And if people see that as confrontational, so be it. I like to see it as effective leadership.

O'BRIEN: Congratulations on your win yesterday. Thanks for talking with us about it. We appreciate it.

MOURDOCK: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: We'll take a short break. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, our "Get Real," President Obama challenged by a man in prison who is doing very well, actually.

CAIN: Sounds like a bad story to start.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it does, doesn't it? We're going to tell you what that's all about right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: It's time for my favorite part of the show, which is our "Get Real." Just how unpopular is President Obama in some parts of the United States? Well, let's take a look at West Virginia. The president lost roughly 40 percent of the vote in last night's Democratic primary. He won overall, but lost to an inmate. The guy's name is Keith Judd. He's serving time at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institute in Texas. He didn't campaign much of course. Got the whole incarcerated thing. Kept him tied up, if you will.

Here's the results, 71,000 for Judd, President Obama, 103,000 votes, according to the West Virginia record. Judd received more votes than the president in 10 out of 55 counties. He's in prison for making threats at the University of New Mexico more than a decade ago. Got on the ballot, filled out a form, paid $2500 for it.

I'm curious to know about that. Get back to that. Some people who are voting for the inmate simply voting against somebody who's running against the president was enough for them.

CAIN: Oh, my gosh.

O'BRIEN: I'm back to James Carville.

CAIN: This is --

HOOVER: Now we're at James Carville.

CAIN: Not only did he lose to a guy in prison, he lost a guy in federal prison, out of state, in Texas, no campaign -- hey, I don't know what it says really, but it says something.

O'BRIEN: It certainly does.

MARTIN: No, I know what it says. It says, folks in West Virginia, y'all have lost y'all minds.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: That's exactly what it says.

HOOVER: Remember he won.

MARTIN: Forty percent of y'all have lost y'all minds.

O'BRIEN: All right. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to talk to a former FBI special agent, who's name is Ali Soufan. He says his interrogation of the man who was killed in last weekend's drone strikes brought him close to uncovering the 9/11 plot over a decade ago. That's ahead.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

O'BRIEN: And welcome back, everybody. We start with some breaking news. A passenger plane has gone missing in Indonesia. It had 46 people onboard. It's a Russian jet, took off from an airport in Jakarta. The flight was only supposed to last about 30 minutes, but officials lost contact with the plane around 2:00 in the afternoon there. They are searching on the ground.

It was a demonstration flight by the Russian Sukhoi Superjet, 100-passenger plane with only 46 onboard. And it's the first commercial -- aviation plane from that company which actually makes military planes. Demonstration flight, again, only supposed to last about 30 minutes, but they were not able to reconnect and get contact with the pilots of that plane and now that plane is missing.

We're going to continue to update you on what's happening there as we continue through the morning.

And a dramatic twist to talk about in that foiled al Qaeda plot to bomb a U.S.-bound passenger plane. A law enforcement source says the would-be bomber was actually an undercover agent for Saudi Arabia. The agent passed the explosive device to other intelligence, to the CIA, Saudi intelligence, and allied foreign intelligence agencies.

That information is what aided the CIA in its drone strike back on Sunday. And that strike killed Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al- Quso, a senior operative in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and a suspect in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

Joining us this morning to talk about that is former FBI special agent, Ali Soufan. He interrogated al-Quso after the Cole attack. He's also the author of "Black Banners."

It's nice to have you with us. Thanks for being with us. So I think a lot of what we're hearing and was a little bit confusing yesterday has been cleared up overnight. The would-be bomber, an intelligence agent which makes some sense about why there was so little being told about this plot. He was working with the Saudis. He volunteered to be the bomber, took the bomb and then was able to turn it over.

So read for me how important this piece of intelligence, this information that he's now delivered not just to the Saudis but to these allied forces with the Saudis. How important is this find?

ALI SOUFAN, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: It's extremely important. This is probably one of the best successes we had in a long time against al Qaeda. And we have to give the credit to the CIA and to the ally intelligence agencies. This is as good as it gets in intelligence operations.

You know, you have a place like Yemen, you have al Qaeda, you have CIA, you have other friendly intelligence agencies. You have a source -- in the inside. It doesn't get any better than that. It's literally a brilliant operation. And now we know what al Qaeda is planning to do. We know that they are planning to build another undetected bomb.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about this bomb. Because the bomber, the would-be bomber who is an intelligence agent --

SOUFAN: Right.

O'BRIEN: -- brought the would-be bomb to intelligence agency and now they're trying to figure out exactly how it was constructed. What do we know about it now?

SOUFAN: Well, it's still being analyzed by the FBI. But we know that al Qaeda have been trying for a long time to build bombs like this. For example, if you remember Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. You know, they had some kind of a covert undetected bomb. Then al-Asiri himself, the bomb maker in Yemen, who's probably one of the most dangerous people outside today.

O'BRIEN: He's linked to those cartridge printer bombs --

SOUFAN: And he is also linked to the underwear bomber, Abdulmutallab.

O'BRIEN: Right.

SOUFAN: And he is -- he recruited his own brother to assassinate Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the deputy minister of Interior of Saudi Arabia. But every time he built any of these bombs, he had a problem with the design or with the detonation.

O'BRIEN: That's changed this time around in this new bomb?

SOUFAN: Well, we don't know. I mean this bomb is being analyzed now with the FBI. They are, I'm sure, studying the design, studying the detonation. Every time so far with the dirty -- with the underwear bomb, with the shoe bomb, with the assassination of Mohammed bin Nayef, they had a problem with detonation and design.

O'BRIEN: And part of the problem in the design, I guess, was only one way to detonate. So if it fails, it fails.

SOUFAN: It fails.

O'BRIEN: And now it looks like by some description that this particular underwear bomb has a couple of different facets. Number one, it's sort of made in a way that if you were patted down, you probably wouldn't be able to detect it. Number two, it's not metallic, so you could walk through a screener and it wouldn't set the screener off. And number three, it sounds to me as if there are two ways to detonate it. So if the first way fails, there's the backup way.

SOUFAN: And this gives you an idea about the innovation of al-Asiri and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. These people are so dangerous. Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula is as close as you can get to bin Laden's version of al Qaeda. All these individuals are people who did not join al Qaeda on the Internet. Those people who actually went to Afghanistan, know bin Laden, fought with bin Laden.

The head of al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, Nasir al Wuhayshi, he was the chief of staff of Osama bin Laden in Kandahar. Fahd al-Quso I interrogated many times in Yemen for his connection to the USS Cole. He also was a loyal servant for Osama bin Laden. And many of these individuals leading who are leading al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula were people that we arrested before, we prosecuted in Yemen, we put in jail, and they were able to dig a tunnel, 22 of them escape, and join some other al Qaeda members from Saudi Arabia and establish al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula in Yemen.

O'BRIEN: Multi-headed, like they just keep coming back.

All right. Thank you, Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent. Thank you for being with us. We appreciate it this morning.

SOUFAN: Thank you. Thank you, Soledad, for having me.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, a polygamist life under the lens. The cast of the hit reality show "Sister Wives" will join us.

Also, senator, NBA champion, Olympic golf medalist, Bill Bradley is with us. We'll tell you why he's blaming both parties for what he calls paralysis in Washington.

Here's his playlist, Louis Armstrong. "What a Wonderful World."

You're watching STARTING POINT.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT.

Our next guest spent 10 years playing basketball for the New York Knicks, then 18 years serving in the U.S. Senate representing the state of New Jersey. He's a Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States in 2000, and now he's the author of a new book. It's his sixth book. It's called "We Can All Do Better."

Bill Bradley joins us this morning.

It's nice to see you.

BILL BRADLEY, AUTHOR, "WE CAN ALL DO BETTER": Nice to see you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Who's the "we" in "We Can All Do Better"?

BRADLEY: Well, it's all of us. Actually it comes from a quote in Lincoln's second State of the Union address where he says we can only succeed by concert, which means working together. It's not -- can all of us imagine better. But can all of us do better? And that's the real question. Can we all do better?

If you look at the fragility and inequality of our economy, the direction of our foreign policy, the paralysis of our national dialogue. You ask yourself, can we all do better? And the answer's certainly. It also applies to each of us personally. Can each of us do better? Do we take care of our bodies? Do we educate ourselves? Do we save money? Are we able to do better?

And I think that our circumstances today challenge each of us to be at our best. At the same time, you know, the fate of us of individuals will depend on the national community.

O'BRIEN: So what you're saying, though, about all working together so we can all be better completely contradicts what we just heard from Richard Mourdock who is -- we joined him by satellite just a few moments ago. You know, he just was a victor in the race against Dick Lugar.

What do you think -- how do you think he will fair if indeed he is able to go on to the Senate? You've got lots of experience here.

BRADLEY: Well, I'm an old friend of Dick Lugar's, and I think that he was -- he was a great U.S. senator and he'll be missed.

I think what I heard Mr. Mourdock say kind of misses what's the essence of America. I mean, you know, we wouldn't have a county without compromise. We wouldn't have a constitution. And there was a time, you know, when the question was, would the United States survive? And George Washington told Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson to settle their dispute so the federal government could pick up the debts of Virginia and the debts of other states.

And Virginia, of course, had less debt than other states, but Washington said you've got to convince Jefferson to do this, Hamilton. So they negotiated. And the compromise was achieved. Hamilton said, we'll move the capital of the United States to the banks of the Potomac, could you get the Virginia delegate --

(VIDEO OUT)

CAIN: Don't you think compromise to some degree has been elevated to such a high perch, it's just not realistic. The point of this democracy is to fight, to debate, to move slowly. If it was just about getting things done, why don't we have an autocracy. This is the point of democracy.

BRADLEY: No. What's interesting -- yes, I think strong debate is very important. But let's just take Ronald Reagan for example. He wasn't a bad conservative, but at the end of the day he compromised because he wanted to move things forward a little bit.

CAIN: Is that the issue? What do we compromise on? Our principles?

BRADLEY: Well, let's compromise, for example, on the debt. Let's compromise on how we get the deficit reduced in this country. I mean, you're not going to get it reduced unless you hit the big items, which are Social Security, Medicare, taxes, and defense. You've got to get them all in there.

And one of the reasons I wrote this book was to give people some hope that we've had difficult circumstances in our past. And we've overcome them, depressions, wars, and you know -- and also to remind people that there's a basic goodness in the American people. And our institutions give us the flexibility to solve our problems if we have politicians that put country ahead of party and tell people the truth.

MARTIN: But if you want to say speaking the truth, Soledad talked about we. Part of my problem when we -- when we have this debate is we always say it's a politician's problem, but who are the people sending them there? The people who voted for Mourdock, they clearly want something. And so we also, I think, got to challenge the American people to say, stop being hypocrites and complaining about what's happening in D.C. You are part of the problem because you're sending people there who choose to be strident on either side.

BRADLEY: I don't disagree that citizens are the ultimate judges in our society. In 2008, for example, in an election night in Chicago, we all made a mistake to believe that a leader could solve all our problems by himself. Even somebody who touched our hearts as much as -- as deeply as Barack Obama can't do it alone. He needs -- he can say this is the direction, but he needs sergeants, lieutenants, he needs citizens.

MARTIN: And he said -- said it that night. He said it.

HOOVER: I will say there, Roland, and what you're suggesting is that the citizens of the country are making an uninformed decision because they don't like --

MARTIN: That's not what I'm saying.

HOOVER: This notion of compromise -- hold on. It's the people who -- as I understand the Tea Party, they don't want representatives to compromise on their principles. Obviously at the end of the day, some of this negotiation tweaking a bit in the legislation is going to have to happen. That's what Senator Bradley did in the Tax Reform Act in 1986, which was a major legislative achievement. And at the end of the day, you had your principles, other people come to the table with their principles, and then you work out the details sort of at the end of the day. But you come with your principles. And I think that's what Richard Mourdock -- O'BRIEN: I think there's a question there somewhere. And I'll let you have the final world, sir. I mean I wonder at -- is it principles versus getting stuff done? Does getting stuff done mean eventually you just have to give up on your principles?

BRADLEY: No, I mean you have to be who you are. You have to have strong principles. At the same time, the way you get things done is you have to compromise. Let's take a look at the Tea Party versus "Occupy." Tea Party had a very specific objective, which is roll back government and decide to go into electoral politics. They elected 43 people to the Congress and those people during the debt limit almost bankrupted this country.

On the other hand you have "Occupy", they had a lot of passion, had a good slogan. We're the 99 percent. Chose not to have a specific objective or to get into electoral politics. Unless you have your hands on levers of power which is the Congress and the presidency, your passion is not going to work.

Look at what happened last point in the 1960s. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had a dream, had a moral force, and drove the civil rights revolution. His partner in that being realized, that dream being realized, was a crafty politician named Lyndon Johnson who knew how to compromise.

O'BRIEN: Actual legislation. "We Can All Do Better" by Bill Bradley. Senator, nice to have you. Thank you for being with us this morning.

BRADLEY: Thanks.

O'BRIEN: We appreciate it.

BRADLEY: Great to be with you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: And still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, they face lots of criticism over their lifestyles. Has anything changed for "Sister Wives" after two seasons that documents their life on reality TV? The family, the whole family is going to join us up next.

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

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who likes being a family?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like it a lot. All right. Are we a special family? Do you guys feel special in this family? All right. We want to keep the family together. Nothing can break it. So because of the circumstances, we are moving to Las Vegas. (END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That's a clip from the second season of TLC's "Sister Wives." It's a reality show that follows the chaotic lives of the Brown family. There's husband, Cody, first wife Mary, second wife Janelle, third wife Christine, fourth wife Robyn, and the 17 kids. They're trying to strengthen their family ties as they try to break stereotypes as well.

Take a look. Well, it looks like these are some of the family photographs. I don't know where that's from. We should mention, of course, that the show is on TLC. They've also written a book which is called "Becoming Sister Wives," it's the story of an unconventional marriage. Kody and Mary and Janelle, Christine and Robyn all join me this morning.

And Janelle, almost left you out -- join me now. So Kody, I've got to ask you first, four wives just seems like a lot of work.

KODY BROWN, "SISTER WIVES": Sure.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Tell why. What makes a polygamist relationship really worth it at the end of the day?

K. BROWN: Well, you know, a polygamist relationship is about developing a family, the family that you choose. The family that you want. We have a lot of opportunity to grow together and to -- you know, it's a process of personal development. And we're becoming better people in the relationships that we have with one another.

This is really a story of love. For me. This is the story of the opportunity for me to be able to love the women or marry the women that I love.

O'BRIEN: And I should mention that technically, legally, you're married to one.

K. BROWN: Just to Mary.

O'BRIEN: But then you have sort of spiritual marriage with the other wives.

K. BROWN: Sort of. It's a spiritual relationship.

O'BRIEN: Go ahead.

JANELLE BROWN, "SISTER WIVES", SECOND WIFE: I want to bring up, this is a faith based decision for us. And yes, we are in love with our family. And I have a rich life and I'm so grateful for them. But ultimately to begin with, at least, it was a faith based decision. For me now I would go back and choose it again because I've had such a wonderful life. O'BRIEN: What's in the book that's coming out that's not what we see as cameras trail you everywhere?

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: What are biggest upsides and the biggest downsides?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To the show?

O'BRIEN: No, not to the show.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: To the family in general. I could take off with my family upsides of being married with four kids and downside of being married with four kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Downside would be it's loud.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Yes, 17 kids would give you that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

K. BROWN: That's not a downside. That's a happy family.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there is a downside, that would be it.

ROBYN BROWN, "SISTER WIVES", FOURTH WIFE: Yes well, you know, I guess you could ask the kids. And the kids would say, you know, they do a lot of sharing. Then that also teaches them a lot of character as well. So it's hard to say that's a downside. Every single thing that you could probably consider to be a downside has a blessing on the other end. It's just -- it's just how you look at it.

O'BRIEN: It depends when you're a kid, you don't really know it until the end. If your kids didn't want to be in a sister/wife situation for your daughters, would you be fine with that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They need to choose what's going to make them happy.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was going to say that.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: I love it. Our "Sister Wives," I thank you very. Kind of nice to have you. Thanks for being with us.

We've got to take a short break. We're back in a moment with the second hour of STARTING POINT. Stay with us.

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