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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Corey Booker Fires Back; Interview with Senators Moran and Warner; Creating New Jobs; 43 Catholic Institutions Sue Government

Aired May 22, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


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

Our STARTING POINT this morning: is Bain fair game? President Obama says attacks on Mitt Romney the businessman is going to be what the campaign is all about. Who's campaign is going to take the biggest hit? We'll take a look.

Also, early detection of prostate cancer. Could that be a bad thing? Advice this morning is going against medical wisdom. We'll tell you what you need to know.

And a potential threat to America's security. How did knockoff parts from China get into the hands of the troop? Senator Carl Levin has launched the investigation. He's saying that Americans should be shocked.

And I'm Soledad O'Brien.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: I am Soledad O'Brien. We have a look at the new "Anchorman" movie.

It's Tuesday, May 22nd and STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Are you all right? You feel good?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's the Sylvers.

O'BRIEN: "Boogie Fever." It's sort of like a club here this morning at 8:01 in the morning.

Margaret Hoover joins us this morning. She's the author of "American Individualism."

Roland Martin is with us host of "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

Will Cain, can you do that with your neck?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm doing it now. Is this it?

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Columnist for TheBlaze.com.

Nice to have you all with us this morning.

We go right to headlines. Let's right to Christine Romans.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Give the man dancing lessons --

O'BRIEN: I'm worn out. I'm worn out. I'm worn out with this team.

ROMANS: A government health panel -- let's get to the headlines this morning.

A government health panel touching of a major medical controversy with this recommendation against PSA screening, a testing to screen against prostate cancer that can lead to treatments that do more harm for men than good.

Earlier, we talked to a urologist who created the PSA test. He says it catches early and it saves lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. WILLIAM CATALONA, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, UROLOGICAL RESEARCH FOUNDATION: For the second leading cancer killer among men, if we were to stop PSA testing over the next decade or two, prostate cancer death rate in this country would double or triple. There's really nothing out there other than the PSA test to detect prostate cancer in its earliest stages when it is curable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Dr. Catalona says the recommendation by the task force is unjustified and misguided.

It's not clear why Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan is stepping down. The surprise announcement coming on the heels of the NATO summit in Chicago where Crocker helped President Obama negotiate the agreement for NATO's withdrawal from Afghanistan. Ambassador Crocker is expected to leave that post sometime this summer.

A historic launch to the International Space Station this morning. The first from America without a NASA logo slapped on the side of the rocket.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Three, two, one, zero. And launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as NASA turns to the private sector to resupply the International Space Station.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A rocket built by the commercial space flight company SpaceX blasting of overnight from Cape Canaveral. It's the world's first commercial space station supply flight. NASA administrator Charles Bolden says this is a giant leap toward not having to rely on the Russian space program after retiring our own fleet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES BOLDEN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: The United States will once again be in the lead and providing our own vehicles to take our own astronauts and cargo to the international space station.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A beloved San Diego anchorman is getting back on the air. It's the return of Ron Burgundy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get ready to ride the palomino stallion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to be broadcasting from a hot tub full of scotch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The official trailer for "Anchorman: The Legend Continues" is viral but not appropriate for us to play. We can't play it for you except for that clip. Will Ferrell plays charismatic anchorman Ron Burgundy. He's joined by Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and Luke Wilson, and original "Anchorman" director Judd Apatow.

It's just a tease. They don't start shooting until early next year.

O'BRIEN: Wasn't Christine Applegate in that?

ROMANS: She was. She must be a network correspondent and she's left him in the dust, I'm sure. We'll see.

CAIN: Christine, it doesn't come out until 2014.

MARTIN: It has lots of time to cast a woman.

O'BRIEN: It's a deep tease. Clear the calendar so you can see it.

ROMANS: They don't start filming until early next year.

O'BRIEN: Excited about that.

All right. Christine, thank you.

Is it a potential threat to the nation's security? It seems to be happening right under our noses. Counterfeit components discovered in military equipment in hardware. The revelation is part of a year long Senate investigation which was released yesterday. But was first made public late last year. And since November, Congress has been pointing the finger at China especially since these counterfeits are not only hard to detect with the naked eye but they have a high failure rate.

That brings us to the Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. He is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has been working with Senator John McCain to try to stop these counterfeit parts from showing up in military equipment.

It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for joining us.

Give me a sense of how pervasive this problem is.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: We looked at one slice of the defense industry, we found 11,000 different cases involving millions of parts. It's pervasive. It's an open market for counterfeit parts in China at a place called Xianxin out in the open.

They wash. They take all the used computers, pulled out parts, and they washed them and then they restamp them and put phony numbers on them and sell them back to the defense industry here.

And it's pervasive. It's just something which must be stopped for the security and safety of our troops. You also lose a lot of jobs.

O'BRIEN: When you read details, it's stunning really. I don't use that word lightly.

They were found in night vision targeting system on a U.S. Navy anti- sub helicopter. Suspected counterfeit memory chips on a C-27J military aircraft. Fake ice detection module fell out of its socket on a P-8A Poseidon airplane.

I mean, these are major projects and major dollars involved.

So to what degree do you think military personnel's safety is being jeopardized? How much risk are they literally in and by extrapolation how much risk is our nation in?

LEVIN: The risk is significant. We had a lot of testimony from our military people.

Here we have total cooperation with our defense industry. They don't want these counterfeit parts either. They get these through supply chains and we're going to put an end to it. We adopted a law which we think will put an end to it and we're doing it on a bipartisan basis.

O'BRIEN: Tell me about the law first. Go ahead.

LEVIN: We adopted a law which requires a number of things. Number one, you can only buy parts now from either your authorized distributor if you're a contractor or you have to have a certified supplier.

We also are going to require much better reporting. The system of reporting that we have has not worked.

We also are going to make the suppliers responsible to pay for the fixes. Believe it or not, some of the fixes that have been made that have come at the expense of taxpayers. We're putting an end to that and making the contractors pay for their own repairs.

O'BRIEN: Wouldn't it make sense to just buy the parts in the United States where people have a vested interest in making our military strong? I'm sort of surprised.

One of the reasons I want you to list all of that when to see, listen, we should certainly when it comes to the American military say, those parts need to be built and supplied out of this country, wouldn't that make sense?

LEVIN: Well, it does to me, of course. We're al for buy America. We buy the major systems that have to be built in America. But the parts particularly if they are filling the need for parts that are no longer manufactured and in other words where you have to buy parts that have been refurbished, we want those to be the actual real parts and not counterfeit parts, which is the case.

This is a problem almost exclusively that originates in China. With very to have a better inspection system at our borders and instead we're reducing the number of inspections. That's got to end. We've got to fight to protection intellectual property in this country. That's one of the things the G8 summit focused on yesterday.

CAIN: Senator Levin, this is Will Cain. Can we consider this or should we be considering this as a national security threat? I know we're talking about potential dangers to our soldiers and ones using the equipment but what if counterfeit parts are finding their way into the supply chain that's originating as you said in China, isn't this a potential national security threat from a espionage standpoint or a sabotage standpoint?

LEVIN: It could be from an espionage standpoint but more likely it will be from trying to make a big profit in China using phony parts to do it and it's usually just doing it for the money rather than for espionage.

But potential is there for espionage for both reasons, for safety of our troops and safety of our country, as well as jobs by the way. The industry here estimates that we lose about 11,000 jobs a year to just these counterfeit electronic parts. So, there's a jobs issue here as well.

O'BRIEN: The other issue comes from a guy who is a private investigator who looks into counterfeit goods and his name is Ted Kavowras. He says, you know what? China actually is not the problem. The problem is Congress.

Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED KAVOWRAS, INVESTIGATOR: The counterfeit entering the military supply chain and pipeline is a fault of procurement system and that's been weakened by budget cuts. So, shame on politicians for blaming China. It's not China. China is not the problem. It's reduced budgets and carelessness in the U.S.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: He says politicians are to blame for blaming China but in fact the issue is budget cuts. Do you think that's true?

LEVIN: I think budget cuts mean we're not able to catch China. But the problem originates in China. We shouldn't have to have folks at the border to stop something which is done openly in China, by the way.

This is an open sale. You can go to Xianxin and you can film the sale of a counterfeit parts market in China. So, of course, we have the responsibility to try to catch them and put more people at the border. We fight to do that by the way. And against some of these budget cuts.

But nonetheless, the original problem here comes from China and emanates there and we shouldn't have to deal with that.

O'BRIEN: Senator Levin, I thank you for your time this morning. Certainly, appreciate it.

LEVIN: Good to be with you.

O'BRIEN: See what ends up happening if this changes down the road.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT: battle over Bain, blistering attacks on Mitt Romney's business record. The president says it's all fair game. Now a big name Obama surrogate Cory Booker is stuck in the middle of the fight. We'll tell you what's happened there.

And dangling over the falls -- the rescue of a 13-year-old boy who had to hang on for eight hours with a major drop right below him. We'll tell you how he was able to survive.

And our get real this morning, a Twitter feed bursting with these crazy racial rants from a school psychologist. He says I'm not a racist. I'm a realist. We'll tell what you he said.

That's straight ahead on STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: One of President Obama's most loyal supporters and a rising star in the Democratic Party is firing back today after Mitt Romney's campaign used Newark, New Jersey mayor, Cory Booker's, words to try to make their point in an ad for the GOP.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR CORY BOOKER, (D) NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Look at the totality of Bain Capital's record. They've done a lot to support businesses who grow businesses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even Obama's own supporters have had enough.

BOOKER: It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Well, the mayor is a little angry, especially after the GOP also created an online petition that says "I stand with Cory." Booker went on MSNBC last night on "Rachel Maddow show" trying to set the record straight about what he really said over the weekend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOOKER: I am upset. I've been taken out of context. I've been used to support a cynicism. If there's any honor in what they were saying, Mitt Romney would have come out and said, you know, like Obama did, Citizens United decision is going to hurt our democracy. He would have come out and said the negativity on our side, I'm going to talk about us, has got to stop.

If he wanted to come out and stand with me, he would say, you know what, I stand with Cory Booker. Stop the Super PAC money. Let's stop negative campaigning. Let's talk about the issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Barbara Comstock is a Mitt Romney campaign adviser. Nice to see you, Barbara. Thanks for being with us. Certainly appreciate it. Cory Booker says he's furious and he was taken out of context. Is he right?

BARBARA COMSTOCK, ADVISER, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Well, I think Cory Booker was taken to the wood shed. I think what was more interesting last night, you saw Anderson Cooper asking David Axelrod about the hypocrisy of Barack Obama starting this whole attack on private enterprise and free enterprise on a day when he was having a fundraiser with private equity.

O'BRIEN: And that may be the case, but my question was, was Cory Booker right? He was creatively edited and was he taken out of context?

COMSTOCK: He was creatively edited by the White House that took that tape hostage after he spoke the truth on "Meet The Press." And then, when they didn't like what he said in the four minutes, it, they edited it down to a shorter version, but Cory Booker is right. The attacks on Bain are nauseating.

The attacks on free enterprise for the past three and a half years that have been killing jobs and has left us with 23 million people unemployed, that's what's nauseating. And I think the fact that Cory Booker spoke the truth and then the White House, you know, took him to the wood shed and then tried to take him out of context from their own tape they did, that's really the game playing going on here.

But we need to talk about getting back to focusing on jobs, and the White House doesn't want to do that because when you look at the credibility of Mitt Romney as a leader, a leader in his state, a leader of the Olympics, and a leader in free enterprise and private equity, they can't compare to that record. You look at --

O'BRIEN: So, does that mean that a conversation about Bain and a focusing of a campaign around Bain, which is what President Obama said, you know, was really -- he said, it's not a distraction. This is going to be the focus of campaign. Do you think that Governor Romney is fine with that or thinks that's not a good thing?

COMSTOCK: If Barack Obama wants to do that, let's look at his investment at the Department of Energy where there are 64 companies that the inspector general is investigating for what he calls the friends and family plan, companies like Solyndra where the president wasted half a billion dollars of taxpayer money.

O'BRIEN: So then, the governor is saying record about Bain is absolutely fair game in this campaign. Let's go do it. Is that what you're saying?

COMSTOCK: I think what is fair game and what the American people want to focus on is jobs. This president doesn't have a record because he's been wasting money on companies like Solyndra where he gave corporate -- you know, his corporate friends got money and that kind of thing, and there were no jobs created. There were --

O'BRIEN: So, let's talk a little bit about jobs, because Bain Capital had a statement that they put out. They wrote this. "Our control of Ampad ended in 1996 fully four years before it encountered financial difficulties due to overwhelming pressure from big box retailers, declines in paper demand, and intense foreign price pressures."

But really, Bain owned the company until 1999. I think they were the majority stakeholder, right. So, 36 percent, I think, was the number that they gave of what they owned in the company. And the big box they're talking about was Staples, which was a company that's been touted as a huge success by Governor Romney, not just some sort of random big box company, but actually, Staples was the company.

So, when you're talk jobs, then is it fine to point to Bain Capital as something that can be the focus of a campaign looking at where jobs have been destroyed to some degree had a company like Ampad?

COMSTOCK: When you have Bain Capital, 80 percent of their companies were very successful which is far better than the president's record in investing taxpayer money in failed companies for his friends and contributors. But president -- President Romney -- a little slip there, but Governor Romney wasn't even at Bain when the whole Ampad thing happened.

He was over saving the Olympics and turning around the Olympics and very busy with that. So, he wasn't involved in the issues that were going on in 1999 and 2000, because he was already out to save the Olympics. His record in Bain --

O'BRIEN: Margaret wants to ask a question of Will, so hang one for one second.

MARGARET HOOVER, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN INDIVIDUALISM": So, what strikes me about this conversation, though, is that, actually, the Romney campaign does want to talk about this. This is not no holds bar for them anywhere. They're having to have a conversation about free enterprise.

When this conversation, when this debate first started, this was equivocating Bain and capitalism with vulture capitalism, and it was a negative thing for them. Now, because the surrogates of the Obama campaign have gone out, it's really softened the argument. It's not just Cory Booker and Harold Ford and Steve Rattner.

They've lost the momentum in terms of using this against Romney. Now, people are talking about the role of private equity in the larger free enterprise system. So, (Inaudible) like the Romney campaign --

O'BRIEN: Let me stop you there. And hold on, Barbara. I'll get back to you one second. But voters are not talking about the role of private equity in the free market system.

MARTIN: "Washington Watch": No, they're not.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Go ahead, Roland.

MARTIN: No, they're not. And that's really what this is all about. And so, what the voters are going to examine, they're going to say, did you come in in an effort to enrich yourself, to enrich your partners, to enrich your investors, did you wet jobs? Did you clean folks out? Because again, you can replay this Corey Booker all day, but when you have the emotional testimony, if you will, of actual people, that's going to far carry more weight than any of this conversation right now.

O'BRIEN: Let me get a final question to Barbara before I let her go. At the end of the day, we've been debating this all morning, so we've been going back and forth on this, isn't the question going to be about Bain is a company, private equity is about making money for your shareholders.

And sometimes, though, shareholders are foundations, as you know, you were discussing the Anderson's interview yesterday, and he was talking about that. Sometimes, those shareholders are pension funds, you know, and sometimes, those shareholders are people who don't mind if companies are blown up in order to make money. And at the end of the day, isn't this going to -- could this potentially provide a big problem for Governor Romney? This is really what Ted Kennedy brought into the debate and that was devastating for Governor Romney when he was --

COMSTOCK: What's devastating is for the past three and a half years, this president has been killing jobs. We have 23 million people unemployed. Sustained unemployment over eight percent. The unemployment rate and underemployed and stop looking for work is 14.5 percent, and the president has nothing to say to the American people about his failed job agenda and all of the taxpayer money he's wasted.

And are you better off than you were four years ago is going to be the question the American people are answering. And if the president wants to go talk about the 1990s and things and Governor Romney's success in creating jobs, that's fine, but he has a failed record that he can't talk about.

O'BRIEN: I don't think he's saying he wants to talk about the 1990s and Governor Romney's success in creating jobs, but I doubt we're going that. Barbara Comstock, always nice to see you. Thanks, Barbara.

COMSTOCK: Good to see you.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a school psychologist goes on a rant talks about young Black thugs says they should be put down. Anyway, he's now fighting charges of civil rights violations and the Southern Poverty Law Center has taken up the case. We'll tell you exactly what's happening there.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Going to the concert when I was in high school. Classic.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: That's The Police, "Roxanne," on Will Cain's playlist.

Our "Get Real" this morning is kind of crazy. The Jefferson Parish School Board in the state of Louisiana has been under fire a bit lately. The civil rights organization, Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a complaint accusing the school system of sending a disproportional number of -- disproportionate number of Black and disabled students to alternative schools where they languish for months.

Now, the group is targeting Jefferson Parish again for employing a school psychologist who's named is Mark Traina. And if you read Mark Traina's -- I encourage you everyone to follow him on Twitter, I guess, is how I would put that, because his tweets are kind of crazy. Here's one. He writes -- he tweets this. "Young Black thugs who won't follow the law need to be put down." Way of saying, I guess, shot and killed. "Not incarcerated. Put down like the dogs they are."

He also writes, "Young Black thugs have created an atmosphere of fear throughout America. The real terrorists live among us, not overseas, right here and now." It goes on and on. Quick someone call David Duke (ph) of the Ku Klux Klan, I believe, he's talking about before the NAACP gets here.

He says this. "I don't have a prejudice bone in my body. I'm not a racist. I am a realist." He had some more posts in various education stories which are on the (INAUDIBLE) website. Traina has responded to the complaints against him.

He says the allegations against the school system are unfair. He says everything he says is backed up by facts, backed up by data. He doesn't have a prejudice bone in his body.

MARTIN: Well, the big problem here is that according -- yes, but also, he is one of the folks responsible in determining who goes to alternative schools.

O'BRIEN: Right. Yes.

MARTIN: And so, he's in a position of authority. And so, when you make these kinds of statements, you can't act as if somehow those thoughts are not having some kind of impact on your decision, which is one of the reasons why the Southern Poverty Law Center is going after him, because they say that they're sending a disproportionate number of Black kids to these alternative schools, and he's a decision maker.

CAIN: In the end, he's a buffoon, right? You don't criticize people's --

O'BRIEN: But a buffoon with power.

CAIN: You don't criticize people's Twitter spelling, right? But I think this sums it up. He said something about if somebody says that things I do, everybody cries foul, and he spells fowl, F-O-W-L.

O'BRIEN: Like a chicken.

(LAUGHTER)

CAIN: That explains everything. OK? This dude is a buffoon, and he's done.

O'BRIEN: -- except that he's the guy who's going to decide where your kid goes to school. And, he clearly has -- you know, I really hate to use the word racist. It's not a word that rolls off my tongue very easily.

But you have a guy who's going to make a decision, who clearly has issues with young Black men who re in trouble, let's say, if you're talking about -- I'm not sure what he means by thugs, where he feels that those are people who should be killed, put down, and not dealt with.

MARTIN: And, he also commented on the Trayvon Martin case where he said George Zimmerman stood his ground, this whole --

CAIN: Don't mix those up.

MARTIN: No, no, no. Follow me here. I'm simply stating that this is the greater issue. We have the benefit of seeing his tweets. The problem is when you have people who are sitting in decision making positions who hold personal views and get to make this kind of decisions. I think that really is the broader issue. He can impact a child's life based upon what school they go to.

O'BRIEN: He's got the power. So, he's not just a bad speller. And it is F-O-U-L, not F-O-W-L. That would be a chicken.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Spelling is very important to me. He also has power and that really is ultimately what makes him crazy on his Twitter feeds. Follow him and see for yourself.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a new bill is supposed to help create jobs, but it will help all of us. Two senators on opposite sides of the bill created it -- opposite sides of the aisle together to create the bill. We will break it down straight ahead.

And a 13 year old boy escapes death. We'll talk about the daring waterfall rescue caught on tape. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. It's time to get right to Christine Romans for a look at the day's headlines. Good morning, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad.

We're following a story of four mountain climbers who died while coming down the southern slope of Mt. Everest after reaching the 29,000-foot summit. It's believed they died from exhaustion and altitude sickness. The victims include a doctor from Germany, a Canadian woman, and climbers from China and South Korea.

A break in the case of a missing high school cheerleader in California. Police in Santa Clara believe 15-year-old Sierra Lamar may have been murdered and they made an arrest. And 21-year-old Angel Garcia Torres is locked up on suspicion of murder and kidnapping. He lives in the same area where Lamar disappeared, and police the owner of the car connected to her disappearance. Lamar vanished in March on her way to the bus stop. One year ago today a deadly tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri, killing 161 people, destroying 8,000 homes and businesses. President Obama gave the commencement at Joplin high school yesterday. He says the students are an inspiration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're from Joplin and you're from America, and no matter how tough times get, you'll always be tougher. No matter what life throws at you, you will be ready.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: He hung on for eight hours above a 250-foot drop and this morning a 13-year-old Washington state boy is safe and sound thanks to some daring rescuers. William Hickman was hiking with his family and he fell at Wallace Falls. He describes what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM HICKMAN, RESCUED FROM WASHINGTON WATERFALL: I was thinking this cannot be real. I was like, help me. She went and she tried to grab me but there was that much space between her hands. I was in standing position with my hand up. I'm not going to die. I am one of the luckiest people ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Rescuing William wasn't easy. One of the men sent in to save him also then had to be rescued, Doledad.

O'BRIEN: It's an amazing story. That poor little boy, he looks great now. He seems so fine about how it all went down. Good for him. Thanks. Appreciate it.

It's all about jobs today. Today a bipartisan group of senators will introduce legislation and show this is their own words that Congress can get something done during an election year. It's called up the Startup Act 2.0, and it would establish new visas to try to encourage immigrants to establish startups in their country. It would also provide incentives to promote investment in startup companies and give those new businesses tax credits. Plus it would use existing federal funding to bring university research to the market more quickly.

The two co-sponsors of the new startup act are Democratic Senator Mark Warner of the state of Virginia and Republican senator Jerry Moran of the state of Kansas. Nice to see you. Thanks for being with us, appreciate it. We'll start with you, Senator Warner, there's a jobs act as you well know. And they have said about that jobs act that it could create 100,000 jobs by 20. Why is this legislation needed and how many jobs are you estimating that this legislation could create in fact?

SEN. MARK WARNER, (D) VIRGINIA: Soledad, Jerry and I worked on the jobs bill as well. That is getting startup companies where 80 percent of the new jobs in America that's been created in the last 20 years have come from startup companies. The jobs act focused on getting them access to capital and go public and raise money over the Internet. This bill that we're also cosponsoring together is working on how we can get access to talent and make sure that those graduate degrees, PhDs and engineering where there may be a foreign student doesn't go back home but actually can fill a job in America. Jobs we don't have enough American born talent to fill and if there's that foreign born entrepreneur that wants to raise money and hire Americans here can do that here in America as well.

So the jobs act was step one, access to capital. This is step two of the same effort, how do we make sure we get access to talent because we have to compete on both if we're going to win in the global economy.

O'BRIEN: And in fact I think the immigration portion of this bill is the most controversial part of it. Senator Moran, you said it's also the most important part of it. What do you mean?

SEN. JERRY MORAN, (R) KANSAS: It is. This battle for global talent is so important. I've only been in the Senate for a little more than a year. In the time I've been in the Senate, six countries around the globe have passed legislation like this. This is a global fight to get the right people in the right place and we're talking about people with PhDs in engineering, computer science, mathematics.

And it's not just about the jobs that those individuals would accept or be able to take in the United States. If we lose those people who come to the United States and get a PhD in computer engineering for example and they can't get a visa to stay in the United States, they are sent home, not only do we lose those people working here, but we lose the opportunity that they will have. They are the most likely entrepreneurs, people who will have a new idea. And innovation and entrepreneurship is the opportunity and best opportunity we have to grow the economy.

Big companies are often in the process of laying off workers. Small startup companies are the ones that are hiring. The statistics prove that's where job growth is going to occur. And so we don't want to lose those individuals for jobs they create today, but perhaps more importantly we want to make sure when they are having that idea about how to start a business and be an entrepreneur and how to grow an opportunity that it is done in the United States where more jobs are created for more Americans in the process.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask a question of Christine romans that joined our panel, because I want to dig into this immigration part of it. It's a little bit onerous what you would require under the legislation. Immigrants would have to complete graduate level work in technology, engineering or math within a year visa launch a business that employees at least two nonfamily employees and invest capital of at least $100,000. How many people -- all of these are not small requirements. How many people do you think, Christine, this could affect? ROMANS: I think there are a lot of people getting these extended degrees in this country that want to stay and start a business and they need access to capital, which the first part of the jobs act tries to deal with.

But the big issue here is the big companies are spending billions on R&D facilities around the world. Could you have a hundred engineers for the cost of three or five here in China, India, Brazil or someplace else. There's a big move by companies who want to be in these other places and it's not clear how much legislation is going to keep people here when there's a lot of action happening everywhere else.

O'BRIEN: And at the same time we haven't seen a lot of bipartisan legislation passed. Let me go back to Senator Warner and Senator Moran. This question is for both of you. How likely do you think in fact you'll be able to pass a bipartisan piece of legislation in an election year?

WARNER: I don't -- Jerry and I are both new. We didn't get the memo that you are supposed to take presidential election years off. China isn't taking the year off. Brazil isn't. We worked together on this jobs Bill that created access to capital. And we hear from tech companies -- I was in the tech startup business for 20 years. We have to also compete for talent. And we think that this legislation moves forward.

Yes, some of these companies as mentioned are trying to build R&D facilities around the world because there isn't enough American born talent to staff those facilities here. I think many of these companies would rather do that here in America and we're trying to provide that opportunity. We also want to make sure that those entrepreneurs -- I think about in my state a third of the entrepreneurs in the high tech field are foreign born, first generation Americans. If we had the same immigration policies in the 1990s that we do now a lot of those folks wouldn't have started those jobs here in America. We want to stop that. So we think we have a pretty good shot.

MORAN: And it's absolutely possible for Republicans and Democrats to come together with issues that are broadly supported. I would guess the components of the startup act two have 80 percent support in the United States Congress. And we can't let the common phrase it's an election year, we won't do anything, overcome the value of this legislation. There's nothing more important at the moment than finding the opportunity for Americans to have jobs and to feel secure in the jobs that they have. And the added benefit is if we can grow the economy, we can get our deficit better under control as well.

O'BRIEN: Senator Moran and Senator Warner, thank you, gentlemen. Appreciate your time this morning.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, Catholics and contraception, we're discussing that again. And 43 catholic institutions are now suing over the president's health care law.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We'll discuss that coming up next.

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O'BRIEN: Let's keep our conversation going because Christine was talking about -- listening to the two Senators --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Oh yes.

O'BRIEN: -- Senator Warner and Senator Moran and talk that you really wish that the education component --

ROMANS: Look, I love lowering barriers to start ups and I love lowering barriers to talent and getting companies started in this country. I mean that's -- that the bottom line here before Will --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: But --

ROMANS: -- but I wish they had as much energy and bipartisanship on finding 150,000 qualified math and science teachers so that we could actually be training tomorrow's engineers and mathematicians and scientists in this country too.

Both of these things have to happen. We -- have we decided you're going to use a Yankees analogy. You decided that we're the Yankees and you guys are going to --

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: Are you serious?

ROMANS: Yes I am. I'm undermining --

O'BRIEN: Wait, wait I don't understand the analogy, what is this?

CAIN: I said this. Look and I think we both agree to start with this. It's not either, or. Let's go for both -- attract talent and cultivate talent. But in the meantime, let's be the New York Yankees. You've got good engineers in India. You've got good engineers in Canada, we'll take them. We'll pay them, come on in we'll develop our foreign system but we sign them.

MARTIN: Well, they don't develop the farm system. Texas Rangers showed them that.

O'BRIEN: I love analogies, thanks.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: But the bottom line, Christine you are right. We understand the short-term in terms of what we need in the short-term. The long-term we are having a problem when it comes to that and I think part of the problem in America is we say, look, that's too costly. Don't worry about it. It's the same thing forget solar energy and forget panel. Let China just have it, when it's an American invention. You have to -- you have to grow home-grown folks. That's jobs.

O'BRIEN: Isn't it a multi -- isn't it sort of multi-front war. On one hand you do have to be able to figure out how to get people who could be creating businesses in this country and Mayor Bloomberg has talked about this a zillion times.

I think it's like listen, immigrants we know come to this country and create opportunities.

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: Right.

ROMANS: There's no question.

O'BRIEN: At the same time if you can create a business, you can hire students but those students have to be able to do the jobs.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: If you come here with $500,000, I think you can go, you can get a visa right away with $500,000 to start a company.

O'BRIEN: But $3 or $4 bucks are like, I don't know, I have no idea.

I got to take a break. You guys continue to duke this out on the commercial break.

MARTIN: Because Christine is a little hot about this.

O'BRIEN: Yes she is. I like hot. It's good. Hot is hot.

ROMANS: I just think anything with the word jobs on it, they're all going to sign.

O'BRIEN: Hot is hot.

MARTIN: There you go. Every dollars you nailed it.

O'BRIEN: Stop, already, people.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, 43 Catholic institutions are now suing the President. Come to this, they say contraception should not be mandated, they want nothing to do with the new law. We're going to bring you both sides of the debate straight ahead. Stay with us.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody.

This morning the famed Catholic University of Notre Dame is taking on President Obama's health care law; they are suing. It joins 42 other catholic institutions who filed the lawsuit. They say their religious rights are being compromised by having to provide birth control to students and employees.

Joining us this morning to talk about that is Professor Carter Snead. He teaches law at Notre Dame, he also supports the lawsuit; and Samantha Groark is a student at Xavier University, a Catholic school, she is against the lawsuit.

Nice to see you both, Professor Snead, I'm going to begin with you if I may. Notre Dame is a Catholic university so I don't think anybody is really completely stunned by the lawsuit per se. I think some people though, are surprised that some employees would be getting behind it.

Why do you support the lawsuit?

CARTER SNEAD, PROFESSOR OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME: Well, I think it's important that the university of Notre Dame is allowed to pursue its mission as a pre-eminent Catholic research university with integrity which is to say in a way that comports with the core principles that we affirm and to compel us to provide coverage that includes access to abortifacients contraceptives and sterilization is obviously intention with that and more worrisome it seems unnecessary.

If the government wanted to as it does to provide maximum access to these kinds of drugs, there are ways to do it without conscripting us into the process.

O'BRIEN: So ultimately it's about who is paying for it. If the government were paying for it, you would be fine with it.

SNEAD: If the government were -- if the government were on its own initiative and entirely disconnected from us and didn't -- didn't -- sort of loop us into its project, I think that would be an entirely different matter. The government already pays billions of dollars every year in subsidies for contraception through Medicaid, through Title 10 clinics and to the new exchanges that are going to be created by the new Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed in 2010.

There are plenty of channels through which people can get access to these drugs again without conscripting us into the process and requiring us to compromise our -- our integrity as a Catholic institution.

O'BRIEN: Samantha, you're Catholic. I know you disagree with what you've heard president -- president, I'm sorry, Professor Snead just say. I just promoted you sir.

SNEAD: Not yet. Thank you I'd appreciate it.

O'BRIEN: You bet, you bet, that maybe true but I did. Why do you think that Catholic universities -- what he's saying basically if it's not a moral match, the school shouldn't have to pay for it. Why do you think he's wrong? SAMANTHA GROARK, MEMBER, CATHOLICS UNITED: You know my biggest concern with this lawsuit is the message that its sending to the American public about the role of the American Catholic Church and the public as being trained in Catholic teachings my life -- during my lifetime, I'm really frustrated that so much energy has been taken off of issues addressing the marginalized groups in our country.

Those that are suffering sincere persecution and intolerance and discrimination. And instead so much time and resources and energy are being funneled into these partisan political issues and I think that it is -- it's distancing a lot of Catholics and it's wedging divisions amongst the faithful.

O'BRIEN: So your issue is not about sort of the morality of a Catholic institution paying for contraception which the church does not support. You basically think it's a distraction and you think it's basically at the end of the day going to drive away more Catholics at a time when American Catholics seem to be leaving the church and not joining the church.

GROARK: Yes I think it does a great disservice to the religious identity of the church when -- when less emphasis is being placed on the issue that I think are the core of the gospel and that's helping the poor and welcoming the immigrant other and ending U.S. sponsored torture in prison camps.

I think that the comparative silence of elements of the Catholic Church on these issues are -- are really frustrating for -- for many Catholics.

O'BRIEN: What do you think -- how do you think it ends? Professor Snead, I'll give you final word on this. I mean, ultimately do you think you're going to be successful?

SNEAD: Yes one thing I was going to say and I agree very much with -- with what Miss Groark said in terms of the -- the core mission of the Catholic Church. And I think unfortunately that's deeply connected.

Right now Catholic charities, those institutions that are Catholic, whether educational, health care, for poverty, those other kinds of very important ministries, that Miss Groark just approved which I also approve of their being -- their identity is being threatened. In fact that the President could exempt and the secretary of Health and Human Services could easily exempt them from this mandate and free them to do exactly what -- what's being described.

There are already some exemptions in place. And what we're asking for is an exemption to pursue those ministries, to help poor people, to care for the sick, to clothe the naked in a way that comports with our core values.

So I think that these are deeply connected and I think that the church and these institutions are fundamentally committed to those goods. O'BRIEN: Professor Carter Snead and Samantha Groark -- I'm sorry Samantha, I'm going have to cut you off there because we're out of time. I appreciate you both joining us this morning. And I'm sure obviously it's going to be something that we're going to continue to discuss.

We're back in just a moment. Stay with us.

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O'BRIEN: We're out of time. Let's get right to CNN NEWSROOM with Carol Costello. It begins right now. Hey Carol.