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President Obama States He Personally Supports Gay Marriage; Interview with Tony Perkins; Some GOP Senators Threatened by Primary Challenges; Obama Backs Same Sex Marriage; "Yours In Truth"; Deconstructing "Deep Throat"

Aired May 10, 2012 - 06:59   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: And good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, something no U.S. president has ever said before, gay people should be able to marry. Reaction this morning to President Obama's comments from all angles, political, the social, and the religious full out this morning.

Plus, new doubts about Bob Woodward's version of Watergate. Did he exaggerate his mysterious meetings with the deep throat? The man mentored by Woodward calling him out.

Plus, a school bows out of baseball championship game don't want a girl. They don't want to face a girl on the opposing team. It's our "Get Real" this morning.

It's Thursday, May 10th and "Starting Point" begins right now.

Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning is President Obama's historic stand. He is the first sitting American president to ever support same-sex marriage after years of saying that his position on the issue is evolving.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.


O'BRIEN: That announcement comes one day after North Carolina passed an amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Joining us this morning is Mitchell Gold, the founder of Faith in America. He's the author of "Youth in Crisis." Mitchell, good morning to you. It's nice to see you. Can you hear me?


O'BRIEN: Oh, good. Good morning to you. Listen, give me a sense of your reaction this morning after hearing President Obama's announcement.

GOLD: Well, I'm still elated and filled with emotion. What President Obama did yesterday was so courageous because, as you know, other past presidents and vice presidents have come out in favor of marriage equality for gay people, but President Obama did it while he's still in office and while there's still -- some might consider a risk to his future presidency, or re-election.

But it was incredibly fantastic for 14 and 15-year-old kids to hear the president of the United States say to them that they are entitled to be with the person that they love. That there is not going to be a hole in their life, that he supports them regardless of what their parents might say, regardless of what their church might say. And he supports who they are as a full human being.

O'BRIEN: Well, he also said, Mitchell, he believes that the issue should be decided state by state, which really isn't going as far as potentially as he could go. Are you disappointed by that?

GOLD: Well, I'm always disappointed when politicians throw a little bit of nuance to it and try to cover themselves or say something that, frankly, is I think quite idiotic. But, you know, we all know what it means when you throw things back to the states, that that is open opportunity for prejudice and discrimination.

But I really think that the bigger issue is for him to come out as a leader and say that he believes and understands why gay people should be entitled to all the rights and privileges and responsibilities of marriage. That's the bigger issue.

O'BRIEN: He talked about it being an evolution and he talked about even the impact that his wife and his daughters' experiences had on this evolution. Do you believe it was a personal evolution or more of a political evolution, and I know you are often heavily involved in politics, where you look at the poll numbers especially how the poll numbers trend among young voters and think this is a smart political evolution actually.

GOLD: Well, I think that the president has believed for a long time in full equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and I think his actions have shown that. But in our imperfect country and system politics does play a role in it. And I do think that while it was in 199 of the president then running for Senate said that he was in favor of full equality, then he took a little different calculated turn and went in a different direction.

But I think in his heart and the times I've spoken to him, I think that in his heart he has always believed this. And I think now he's made a calculation and, frankly, I believe this is going to be one of the major wedge issues against the Republican Party. I think there's a great deal of people, a great deal of Republicans who really are in favor of marriage equality, are in favor of giving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people equal rights, and they really are much more interested in the economy and national security and individual liberty for people.

And I think the other part of the Republican Party, the anti-gay, Christian part in particular, they're not going to be for him no matter what he says. O'BRIEN: It's interesting to see the polling. As we see the polls break down by Democrat/Republican you don't see that overwhelming support among Republicans as a whole. I'll ask you to stand by.

GOLD: I'm not that -- I'm not that quite sure that I believe that much in the polling because, you know, this is -- we're a long way off and there's a lot of education to be done. I think the president is really going to step up and in the black church community in particular there's going to be a great deal of education and polling between now and six months from now can be entirely different.

O'BRIEN: I agree with you on that. Let's bring in Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council. Tony, good morning. Nice to see you, as always. Thanks for talking to us.


O'BRIEN: What's your reaction to what the president had to said.

PERKINS: Not completely surprised. Finally his words are coming in sync with his actions. He as opposed the marriage amendments at the state level and refused to defend the defense of marriage act which is really the line that defends what the states have decided from the courts. So not really surprising. The timing is. I'm not sure that this is politically advantageous for him. But I'm sure that they looked at that.

O'BRIEN: What do you mean by that? You have said you think this hands a victory in a way to Governor Mitt Romney. How do you mean?

PERKINS: Well, I wouldn't say it necessarily hands a victory. I would say there was probably two groups celebrating yesterday. I think those who are advocating to redefine marriage and some in the Romney campaign were certainly celebrating because I think the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle when it comes to the enthusiasm issue when it comes to the Romney campaign, that piece may have been handed to him by the president because clear it's very clear now there is a contrast on this key issue. Now, I thought this election was going to be all about the economy and jobs, I think we're going to see another presidential election in which the issue of marriage is going to be front and center in the debate.

O'BRIEN: You think this could push the economy off the front and focus on gay marriage?

PERKINS: Well, it's not going to go away completely but I do think the president interjected it into the debate because he has staked out a clear position that is in contradiction to the position that Mitt Romney has had. Mitt Romney has testified before the Congress for a federal marriage amendment, and signed a pledge saying as president he would work for and support a marriage amendment so it is, of course, obviously it's a very important issue in terms of social policy.

O'BRIEN: Well, technically -- PERKINS: I can't imagine it wouldn't be an issue.

O'BRIEN: Technically he's kind of been all over the map on it, Mitt Romney, hasn't he? You go back to 1994. I know you know this in a letter to the log cabin club of Massachusetts which is a group of gay Republicans, he said, "I am more convinced than ever that as we seek to establish full equality for Americans, America's gay and lesbian citizens I will provide for effective leadership by 2002," right? He said he would support equal rights for all Americans. In office he said civil unions were good enough to satisfy a court decision that said denying marriage rights to gays was illegal. By 2005 he actually said he opposed civil unions, wanted a constitutional amendment. So he's kind of been all over the map on this. Are you sure he's --

PERKINS: Kind of like the president. The president has been all over the map on it too. He supported same-sex marriage back in the '90s then opposed to it when he ran for the Senate, and as president now coming out, again, his actions I think have said all along he's been for it.

Look, there's no question that Mitt Romney's record on a number of the key social issues but he has staked out very clear ground and made very public pledges on this and I think more so than what Mitt Romney says, although I think it's going to be important that he not run from this contrast which I don't think he will, but the president has made this an issue, not Mitt Romney.

And so I think it is going to play out in this election. And it's going to, you know, what many were counting on, the angst over a second term of the president driving and fueling and energizing the conservative base, I think this is a part of that and I see it as this unfolds, I think that's exactly what's going to happen.

O'BRIEN: Explain to me --

PERKINS: Look at the battleground states. What doesn't make political sense, if you count about 16 of the swing or battleground states, ten have marriage amendments already. One will have it on the ballot this fall and I think it's like 137 electoral votes coming from those states. You know, I don't think that's going to play well in those states for the president to say I don't care what you voted for. You may have decided for -- against same-sex marriage, for traditional marriage. I'm not going to defend what you have done in this state and your state amendments can be overturned for all I care because I think they should. I think that will be in your face.

O'BRIEN: I think he made it clear -- I thought his comments were clear he wouldn't overturn them. It could be decided state by state but I want to ask you a question --

PERKINS: He can't overturn them other than by his inaction.

O'BRIEN: What is your big argument against gay marriage?

PERKINS: It's an argument for marriage. It's an argument for marriage. When we look at what the impact that policy, public policy has had on marriage, you know, we don't have to guess about that. We go back to the late '60s with the beginning of no fault divorce. When a government takes a policy position on marriage, it has an effect.

O'BRIEN: Yes, like --

PERKINS: We've seen the consequences of that. We have over 40 percent of children being born out of wedlock. We have a decline in marriage. Rise in cohabitation. The social costs of that are tremendous.

PERKINS: When government took a position -- but when government took a position, let's say, against the ban on interracial marriage it had an effect too, right? It brought legal marriage to blacks and whites --

PERKINS: You're talking about redefinition. There is no rational reason to keep people of different races that were of opposite sex to marry. They met the qualifications of the definition of marriage. What we're talking about here is a further redefinition of marriage.

O'BRIEN: But hasn't marriage been redefined and redefined?

PERKINS: It's going to intentionally create environments where you have children growing up without a mom and a dad.

O'BRIEN: We have environments where children grow up. Forgive me for interrupting but have them already where they grow up without a mom or dad. You're certainly not arguing gay marriage is fine as long as the couples don't want to have kids because you will avoid that problem of a couple having a child, or an older couple who aren't going to have kids.

PERKINS: There's no argument those things have occurred and that the state of marriage in this country is problematic. There's no argument there. What I'm saying, you look at the consequence, the cost do government as a result of that, the increased social cost. Why would we want to intentionally do more of that? The point here is public policy -- what we set doesn't mean that everybody is going to reach that standard but we should debt a standard that is best for society. We don't make public policy based on --

O'BRIEN: Doesn't it follow culture? But it sounds to me like you're saying public policy sets culture. I would say culture maybe actually goes first and public policy follows when you're -- certainly if you're going to talk about equality and rights to sort of say, well, you know, I'm concerned about this issue, so we'll overlook the equal rights part of it seems a little unfair at the least.

PERKINS: Well, it's not an issue of equal rights. Everybody has the same rights, what we're --

O'BRIEN: How is it not --

PERKINS: And it goes -- O'BRIEN: Forgive, let me stop you there. I want -- let me stop you. How is it not an issue of equal rights if a group can get married and another cannot?

PERKINS: There are restrictions on marriage now. You can't marry a close relative. You can't marry someone who is already married. Everybody has restrictions on who they can marry in our society. This goes beyond the issue of marriage. This goes beyond as we've seen curriculum that is introduced into schools. I mean parents want to have a right over what their children are taught and parents lose their right to determine what values their children are instructed with that are in contradiction to their religious convictions.

So this goes way beyond just marriage. It goes to the employees and employer relationship. It goes to public facilities. So it's a much bigger issue than just two people who love each other and want to commit their lives to each other. They're free to do that. They just can't redefine marriage and try to bring with that all of the --

O'BRIEN: But I think marriage has -- but hasn't marriage been redefined over and over and over. In the 1800s, right, women were property of their husband. Marriage has been redefined over time on that issue. In slave era, black people could not marry each other. Marriage has been redefined to say that actually black people can -- people are no longer slaves and blacks can marry. Interracial marriage is now legal. That happened as recently as 1967. It was illegal when my parents got married. My dad is white, my mom is black. So marriage is always being redefined what is legal and under the law in marriage, right?

PERKINS: Now marriage has always been the union of a man and a woman. That has -- that definition has never changed over 5,000 years of human history. What we're talking about here is changing the very core definition of marriage.

O'BRIEN: Marriage has always been as someone has decided to define it, and sometimes they change that definition. That definition has changed. Marriage between a man and woman as long as they're white in some laws, right? So I would disagree with you.

PERKINS: Never changed from a man and a woman.

O'BRIEN: But the idea of marriage and the institution changes all the time. So the idea that somehow this is the first change to marriage, I think, you might be mistaken on it.

PERKINS: No, I admitted it. We have changed the policy regarding the marriage. The example I used was in the issue of no fault divorce and the weakening of the marriage laws and what it has resulted in significant social cost and ramifications. So these things should be evaluated very carefully before we make such a -- this would go beyond anything that's ever been done before, as I said, going back to the core definition of marriage always been between a man and a woman.

O'BRIEN: We'll agree to disagree on this one. Tony Perkins, nice to have you on the show. Appreciate it.

Coming up at 7:30 this morning we're going to talk to Richard Socarides, a former senior adviser to President Clinton. He is one of the highest ranking openly gay people to work in the federal government, helped draft "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He'll join us this morning.

Also ahead on STARTING POINT, the Tea Party makes another starting play. First it was Richard Lugar, and now another veteran senator is on notice. Is there any room in the middle in the Republican Party? Will anything get done in Congress in all the moderates are booted?

And our get real this morning, a high school team gives up a shot at a title because they don't want to play with a girl.

The panel is heading into talk about that. We've got Will Cain, Roland Martin, and rocker Dee Snider joins our panel this morning. Pleased to have you.

DEE SNIDER, SINGER: How are you doing?

O'BRIEN: Welcome. Have a seat. Play this for Dee, Twisted Sister.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We're talking lots about partisan politics. The problems in Congress yesterday could be a good example of gridlock to come. We were speaking with Richard Mourdock after his win in the Republican primary in Indiana. He was very vocal that Republicans shouldn't cooperate but rather they should confront.


RICHARD MOURDOCK, (R) INDIANA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: The ideas for which the parties are working are really at opposite ends of the spectrum. I don't think there will be a lot of successful compromise. Hence you have the deadlock you have today. I hope to build a conservative majority in the United States Senate so that bipartisanship becomes Democrats joining Republicans to roll back the size of government, reduce the bureaucracy, lower taxes and get America moving again.


O'BRIEN: Those comments may not bode well when you look at the fact that only 17 percent of the country is approving of the job that Congress is doing and they cite as a large part of the problem partisanship.

Joining us this morning is Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee. He's a moderate blue dog Democrat founding member of No Labels, a group of Democrats and Republicans who say they have one goal, which is to make government work again. I think lots of us could support that goal. Nice to see you. You heard Mr. Mourdock saying he thinks he doesn't support successful compromise, that it's not really possible. What do you think of that?

REP. JIM COOPER, (D) TENNESSEE: Soledad, what Mourdock is saying is popular but it's very dangerous. You have to compromise in order to build a great nation. Our nation was essentially founded on compromise and without that today we're going to lose our credit rating again, we're going to have more gridlock and really hurt our nation's status as the world's only superpower.

O'BRIEN: He's saying if I don't compromise what I can do is build my team bigger. I don't have to compromise. Those will have to compromise to me by brings them to my side of the aisle is his argument. What areas do you think we'll need compromise on some of the biggest issues that the Congress is dealing with right now?

COOPER: Well, we've got to have a compromise on the budget issues which are crushing our economy right now. We have to have compromise on defense issues. We've got to figure out how to right size the defense budget. In virtually every area of government we have to have good people getting along and solving problems, not fighting each other. It's not a question of combat in Washington. It's a question of getting things done for voters back home working hard trying to put food on the table so fighting is very selfish.

And what Mourdock is talking about is one-party rule. We've always had a two-party system in America. How we've gotten things done, a competition between the two parties.

O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at some folks vulnerable. Senator Orrin Hatch obviously in the state of Utah who is vulnerable. His challenger is Dan Liljenquist and Ted Cruz and he is being challenged with support from Club for Growth which is spending about roughly I think a million dollars in support for David Dewhurst supporting there. If they're successful, if in fact you can be brought into Congress on the philosophy, my way or the highway, what do you think is the risk? What happens at the end of it all?

COOPER: Fortunately for the voters of Indiana, they have a good centrist choice in Joe Donnelly, the Democrat who is running. But in all these other states we've seen some of the finest states in America go down to defeat because they were not partisan extremists. I hope voters realize if they want to keep America strong we have to have enough folks in the middle to get things done. That's the way America has functioned throughout our 200-year history. We wouldn't even have Washington, D.C. where it is today if we hadn't had a compromise between the states. Virtually every major one was a result of compromise and we have to continue if we remain strong.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Congressman, this is Will Cain. It seems to me this is missing the point. What are you --

O'BRIEN: Why, thank you, Will.

CAIN: What are you compromising towards? Compromise isn't just a fetish we laud. You have to ask yourself what are you compromising towards? We didn't want to compromise towards King George. We went to war because we thought our principles were greater. You have to identify what you're fighting for, what principles you stand for and compromise from there as little as possible. Compromise in and of itself isn't a virtue.

O'BRIEN: So you're going to tell me focusing on the debt, deficit, education, et cetera, all those things are equal to the colonies? I'm asking, the colonies fighting against King George?

CAIN: You defined some of the things we should be compromising for but for example when I assume senator-elect or primary candidate Richard Mourdock says I do not want to compromise, there is a general to go but when he says that he means things like health care. He means things that Barack Obama finds as part of his core principles and compromise can't be a virtue.

O'BRIEN: Which is not what he said. We'll give the final word to Congressman Jim Cooper. What he said was he actually thinks he doesn't have though compromise. That what he needs is more people in his side of the aisle --

CAIN: I don't think you asked him what he would compromise on. I think you haven't asked him --

O'BRIEN: Congressman Cooper, give us a sense of how this ends. Do you think, in fact, Donnelly has a shot or that actually what's going to happen is we're going to end up with a 50-50 split roughly which is going to potentially slow things down in Congress?

COOPER: Joe Donnelly has a great shot in Indiana. I hope voters come to their senses there and if they want statesmanship they can find it in Joe Donnelly. But we've got to solve these problems, whether it's entitlement reform or tax reform. Both need to be done and both parties are wrong when they deny the other part needs to be done.

O'BRIEN: Thanks for being with us. Congressman Jim Cooper, appreciate it.

COOPER: Thanks.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, get real. All she wanted to do was play baseball. So why is a high school girl being denied the chance in the championship game? We'll tell you.

Also watch us on your computer, mobile phone while heading to work. Go to Here's the Rolling Stones, "She's so Cold." You're watching STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Our "Get Real" this morning, our focus on a second baseman. Her name is Paige Sultzbach and just wants to play baseball. Many freshmen at Mesa Preparatory Academy and that team in Arizona had been scheduled to play another team called our lady of sorrows academy in the Arizona Charter Athletic Association state championship in phoenix college but our lady of sorrow, fundamentalist catholic school in phoenix decided to forfeit. They decided to forfeit. See, I think they also lost twice to mesa so maybe not the worries that Paige was a girl, which is what they said. They didn't want to play against girls. They also lost twice.

So Paige's mom, whose name is Pamela said, it wasn't that they were afraid that they were going to injure her or hurt her. They believe that it is not a girl's place to play on the field. Paige played softball and volley ball in junior high school, but Mesa Prep tried out for the boys' team and made it. Previous in the two games that Mesa won against our Lady of Sorrows she sat out because she did it out of respect for the team's belief. This but this is a championship game and said I'm going to play. Our Lady of Sorrows, said, well, then we're going to forget and everybody feels badly because the winning team wins by forfeit.

CAIN: So Lady of Sorrow got beat by a girl?

O'BRIEN: Basically.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: If you are a member of our lady of sorrow, last thing you want to do is forfeit a game. I would have asked if this was administrators or the church deciding we're forfeiting.

O'BRIEN: It sounded like it was a high-level decision, not a bunch of ninth graders deciding whether they would forfeit or not, but basically a lose-lose for all the kids.

MARTIN: You got your butt kicked twice. You probably didn't want to get it kicked a third time. I think the real issue exactly, they didn't want to get their butt kicked for a third.

O'BRIEN: I would agree with your fine analysis on that this morning.


O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, we continue the conversation about President Obama's historic support for same-sex marriage.

One of the highest ranking openly gay people to work in the federal government is going to join us to talk about the political impact ahead.

A concussion crisis in one sport and we're not talking about football. Not even talking about guys. Roland Martin's play list "Mary Mary." You're watching STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: That would be "Chapel of Love" by the Dixie Cups. Been 50 years since -- we're talking this morning about President Obama coming out in support of same-sex marriage, what many people consider to be one of the last civil rights battles in America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: At a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.


O'BRIEN: That was the president talking to Robin Roberts. The president also revealing that his evolution was not just political. He said he had been talking about the issue with his wife and daughters and they helped sway his stance.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney quick to make sure his supporters knew where he stands. Listen.


ROMNEY: I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender and I don't favor civil unions if they're identical to marriage other than by name.


O'BRIEN: Richard Socarides is a former senior adviser to former President Bill Clinton. He is also a writer for It's nice to have you with us this morning.

Let's talk political implications. You were working with President Clinton when "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was drafted and also the Defense of Marriage Act so when you hear about this evolution of President Obama, maybe I should do evolution of President Obama, what do you make of it?

RICHARD SOCARIDES, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO BILL CLINTON: Well, I think it's striking evidence of how far we've come as a country and how far we've come in the debate on these social issues, and how dramatically that shift has occurred.

I mean, you're right. In 1996, President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. We all knew he didn't want to sign it, but was in the middle of a tough re-election and his political advisers convinced him it was too risky not to sign it.

You know, after the Republicans rushed it through Congress. Today, though, I think -- yesterday, I think President Obama rejected a lot of the political advice he was getting from his advisers.

That was the same advice people were giving President Clinton 16 years ago saying, no, I'm going to do the right thing and luckily, the mood in the country, the public opinion of the country had shifted enough so that he could do that. It was a real profile in courage I think on the president's part.

O'BRIEN: It's a profile in courage if you will up to a certain point, right, because in a sentence later he says these are my personal feelings and, in fact, I believe states should decide. SOCARIDES: Well, you know, I thought he was pretty clear yesterday. I don't think there was any equivocation. He talked about his family. We knew where he stood.

States have traditionally decided their own marriage laws. I think it's clear his Justice Department is out in front in the federal court cases making clear.

That they don't believe that any state should be allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation so letting individual states decide was a qualifier, but in context it was very small.

CAIN: Richard, I have to say, I disagree with you a little bit and he deserves a ton of credit for the symbolism of what he did yesterday. He's the first president ever to endorse gay marriage.

But I do think we have (inaudible) what Soledad said that it was a personal endorsement, essentially he said it's something I support, but I'm not going to fight for and the president's record on federalism, the issue of giving states' rights to determine issues isn't stellar.

It's not one of his core virtues or it's one of his core principles. So I do think he left himself an out. I do think he attempted to leave himself an out and I'm not sure -- well, I am sure why. Because I'm not sure he's ready to take all that political risk yet.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the political risk too. What is the political risk here?

SOCARIDES: Well, this is, you know, marriage equality is pretty -- we're pretty evenly divided as a country on marriage equality. The polls now show that majority of Americans support it, but it's a bare majority.

So it's going to probably help him in some places, but it may hurt him in other places. That's what leadership is about. I think, though, it positions him very nicely in the campaign as someone who is thoughtful, deliberate, willing to take risks and lead on principle.

So I think it's very consistent with what his election strategy is going to be and I think to do otherwise to kind of have this muddled position during the campaign -- would have really hurt him.

MARTIN: Richard, voting is the ultimate poll. That's the ultimate poll. When there have been same-sex amendments where people voted. Supporters are 0 for 32. So you have a national poll that says one thing but you have 32 different elections that say something totally different and so --

O'BRIEN: Many of them in swing states.

MARTIN: So what is going on there where people are saying one thing in polls nationally, but when it's put to a vote something else and so I presidential election is state-by-state election. SOCARIDES: Yes. Well, I think that's right and I think, you know, we're not -- means that in places like the south we still have a lot of progress to make, but --

MARTIN: Those 32 states are not just in southern states.

SOCARIDES: It's very close in California. The polling now in California shows that if the vote were held today it would be overwhelmingly the other way.

Look, I think that the forces against this have been extremely clever. Sometimes even clever, sometimes very lucky in the state-by-state ballot initiatives. We're going to start to win some. We're probably going to win this next one in Maine, but --

MARTIN: Maine, Minnesota.

SOCARIDES: Maine and Minnesota coming up in November. You know, there's one in North Carolina. They were, you know, strategic perhaps, some would say clever in putting it on during a primary in May when the traditionally didn't get a representative sample even in North Carolina of people coming to the polls because the election was in May, a primary.

But you're right. I mean, we're not going to win everywhere and will probably hurt him in some places. But I think with young voters will be enthused. I think progressive Democratic base voters will be enthused. I think what the president did was totally consistent with everything we know about him.

SNIDER: It's a calculated decision on his part the way --

O'BRIEN: Not an evolution.

SNIDER: -- the way McCain shows Palin. Thought it had to be a game changer. Obama thinks it will change the whole face of the election. A change people talk about. He thinks it's going to make him win.

O'BRIEN: That's because social issues --

SNIDER: It may be wrong but I think he thinks --

O'BRIEN: Do you think that's because social issues are what sort of make people emotional and drive them to the polls. If you look at how young people poll on gay marriage. Overwhelming support or if you look at some of the older white blue collar voters, again --

SNIDER: Look who we're talking about. Everything was the economy up until yesterday. Now all I hear about is gay marriage.

CAIN: That's today.

O'BRIEN: Long six months.

SOCARIDES: It's going to be the economy again. This election is going to be won or lost over who -- who voters think will be best to lead the economy.

But I would say that, you know, this issue when Mitt Romney comes up now and says, well, you know, I'll support civil unions so long as you don't get any rights with them.

I mean, he looks like, you know, grandpa in this. This is just what Mitt Romney was trying to avoid. You know, he starts to look in this --

O'BRIEN: Tony Perkins says now evangelicals say that's our guy. We were not motivated before and now we're really motivated.

SOCARIDES: I don't think there's anybody out there who -- I think there are very few people who vote on just this issue and I think those people will vote for Mitt Romney anyway and were going to come out to defeat Barack Obama because they hate Barack Obama.

MARTIN: Just pushing further with the Supreme Court will have to ultimately decide. Because you can't have states voting and state courts judging.

SOCARIDES: You are absolutely right. The Supreme Court is going to decide this issue, not this year, but probably next year or the year after.

O'BRIEN: Right. We'll talk about this more so I won't throw in my two cents before we get to commercial break. Thank you, Richard Socarides. It's nice to have you.

SOCARIDES: Thank you for having me.

O'BRIEN: Coming up in our next hour, we're going to talk about how religion plays into the announcement. Mega Church Pastor, Dr. Tony Evans will join us at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, new doubts about Bob Woodward's version of Watergate. Did he exaggerate his mysterious meetings with Deep Throat. Papers from his former editor resurfacing in a new book. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, are you a bad mom? Yes, I am. I'll just admit it.

MARTIN: No, you're not.

O'BRIEN: I wanted you to say that. If you don't spend every second catering to your baby are you a bad mom? Anticipating their every need and desire, are you a bad mom?

"Time" magazine is exploring the controversial idea of attachment parenting in this week's cover. Talk about that story this morning. Plus, a new book doubting the details of Watergate. The former editor of "The Washington Post" asking whether the legend of Deep Throat lives up to reality. His former mentor, Bob Woodward. You're watching STARTING POINT." We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Sixty massive boxes of memos and personal letters and transcribed interviews from "Washington Post" famed editor Ben Bradley were dumped on my next guest about five years ago. It was a dumped amount of information, but when he opened up those boxes, he was absolutely riveted. He stumbled across memos to colleagues, often cursing them out, invites from the Kennedy, advice to fans who wanted to get into journalism.

Jeff Himmelman chronicles the findings that a new autobiography, it's authorized. It's called "Yours in Truth: A Personal Portrait of Ben Bradley."

It's nice to see you. Thanks for being with us this morning. You came to this really as a researcher for Bob Woodward and that got you into Ben Bradley.

JEFF HIMMELMAN, AUTHOR, "YOURS IN TRUTH": He made the introduction.

O'BRIEN: What was that sort of task like to kind of do journalism around the man most famous for journalism?

HIMMELMAN: When I first met Ben like a lot of people who meet him I was overawed by the man. I mean, he's a legend as in editor and rightly so.

And so when I first dug into the boxes, it was an amazing experience. It's unlike anything I've ever done. It was like a tutorial in journalism and the history of journalism and how the process of journalism worked. That was what into those boxes and that was also fascinating.

O'BRIEN: He oversaw so many. I mean,. he was obviously there for such a long time and oversaw so many important moments including, of course, Watergate, scandal, as well.

But let's start with Watergate. After the book was previewed, Bob Woodward had a statement that said the piece didn't go far enough in the explanation.

He said that it sounded as if he was saying that the Watergate scandal, maybe he didn't give enough specifics. Tell me what happened that Ben Bradley felt -- did he feel like Woodward was not giving him all the facts in Watergate.

HIMMELMAN: Look, I think, you know, what Ben said in 1990 in an interview, there was a residual fear in my soul that isn't quite straight. And what he was referring to was the sort of Hollywood portrayal of the story. Ben was responsible for what went into the newspaper. And I think Ben feels very confident about what went into that newspaper.

I think what Ben meant was as you go from newspaper to book to movie. You start to take little liberties with how the narrative of the story unfolded. I think all he was saying is you can't hold me to the Hollywood version of the Watergate story.

Some of those details are not details I witnessed or edited. So you take some of those things on faith. I think that's basically what he was saying.

O'BRIEN: He was also saying in the book that he felt if you asked me do I think Woodward embellished, I would say no. He said that in an interview. But he went on in fact to say that Woodward did nothing to play down the drama. The question, of course, becomes is that in of itself bad journalism?

HIMMELMAN: I mean, you know, people can argue about that. I mean, it caused a little bit of a stir in Washington.

O'BRIEN: He was your mentor. That must be messy for you.

HIMMELMAN: People have talked about all of those things. I think, you know, I think it's caused a little more controversy in Washington than I had anticipated.

I think Watergate is such a founding story of modern American print journalism that anytime you touch the narrative of it in any way, people tend to get excited about it.

MARTIN: I think this is a, frankly, stupid controversy, OK. He stated his position. Woodward stated his. It seems like Bob Woodward is offended that potentially Ben Bradley had some reservations.

I'm going OK, but you are reporting him out. It's not like you were fabricating something. So why keep making this that big of a deal? I don't get it.

HIMMELMAN: I think that's a very good point.

O'BRIEN: Says the man at the center of the very big deal.

MARTIN: I mean, you made a ton of money from movies and books and keep writing it.

O'BRIEN: I would like this all to go away. Let me read something at the start of the book. He gives a lot of advice, which I thought is really interesting, Ben Bradley.

And he says this, "It's almost impossible to keep personal values out of a story. Don't think of objectivity. Think of fairness." You can be fair while expressing values. The fire is big or small, it's tall or it's puny, you're still fair. How much did you learn from him about --

HIMMELMAN: That's Ben Bradley right there. There is stuff like that throughout the book. When he came to "The Washington Post" in 1965, it was a sleepy paper, partisan paper. And the thing that he came to do was to try to pull the tilt out of the news coverage.

And that was his main thing to do and (inaudible) that's a big piece for him because he wanted hard hitting journalism as exciting and fun to read. He wanted writers with flare. But that didn't mean that you couldn't still be objective about the truth and be fair.

O'BRIEN: The Jenny Cook scandal --

HIMMELMAN: The Jenny Cook scandal I think in a moment --

O'BRIEN: Tell everybody what that was about.

HIMMELMAN: In 1980, a young reporter in the paper fabricated a story about an 8-year-old heroin addict and it made through the editorial process.

O'BRIEN: He loved the story.

HIMMELMAN: He loved the story. He pushed it. It ran in late September of 1980 and April of the following year of '81 she won the Pulitzer Prize.

And in the wake of the Pulitzer Price, people started to check her resume and resume she submitted was different than the one she submitted to "The Post."

So in short order it was revealed as a hoax. What's interesting from Ben's perspective, this is biggest scandal to occur at "The Washington Post" under his watch.

And unlike Richard Nixon, he made the decision that no fact about the hoax was going to come out in any other paper before it came out on pages of "The Washington Post."

CAIN: Tell us about his relationship with John F. Kennedy, more importantly, his then wife's relationship with JFK?

HIMMELMAN: Well, I talk about some of that in the book. I mean, I think given recent books that have come out and other things, we know how Kennedy operated. I think Ben was a little surprised by the fact that Ben had been sleeping with Ben's wife's -- Kennedy had been sleeping with Ben's wife sister.

And he knew that after Kennedy passed, but I think that Kennedy made a pass at his own wife and didn't tell him that until much later. It's a real window into how that guy operated. I don't know how he found time to be president with the tail he's chasing.

O'BRIEN: That's not yours in book. Bradley signed his correspondence. HIMMELMAN: Yes, funny letters, serious letters, it was standard --

O'BRIEN: The book is great. I mean, certainly as a journalist, it's an amazing read. Just in general, sort of about a philosophy of truth telling. I think it's a really interesting book.

HIMMELMAN: He lived it.

O'BRIEN: Thanks for coming in to talk to us about it.

Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, women across the country devouring the book "50 Shades of Gray," very different from Jeff's book. We'll tell you why some libraries -- in most areas different.

We'll tell you why some libraries are banning that book and does this look dangerous to you? Parents are wondering why this little girl was kicked off a flight.

Dee Snider is on our panel this morning. We're going to talk to him about his new album, which he injects new energy into old standards. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, something no U.S. president has said before. Gay people should be able to marry. Reaction to President Obama's comments from all angles, political, social and religious fallout this morning.

Plus does letting your child out of your sight for a second make you a bad mommy? "Time" magazine is exploring the controversial idea of attachment parenting. We're going to debate that this morning.

Plus Olympic gold medallist, Shawn Johnson will join us. She's a hero back in 2008. Not giving up on 2012 trying to get ready for London even though, she, at the age of 20 is one of the older athletes competing in a sport, if you can believe that.

It's Thursday, May 10th and STARTING POINT begins right now.

MARTIN: One of the greatest groups ever in the history of forever.

O'BRIEN: That would be true and also twisted sister.

SNIDER: I wouldn't put them in the same level as the temps although we both start with the letter t.

O'BRIEN: That, by the way, comes off Dr. Tony Evans playlist. He's a prominent pastor. He's going to talk to us a little bit about President Obama's support of same-sex marriage. He says he's disappointed. We'll chat with him in just a minute. Dee Snider, of course, with Twisted Sister is here with us this morning as part of our panel. It's so great to have you. We were doing our Long Island act.

CAIN: Please don't do that again.

MARTIN: I'll be dog gone.

O'BRIEN: The Long Islanders versus the Texans this morning.

MARTIN: That's not an easy fight.