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Interview with Former Bain Capital Managing Director; Senate to Question Fired Secret Services Agents Seeking their Jobs Back; Nancy Reagan Recovering; Nevada Wildfire; Vizio Taking On Apple; 3-Year-Old Drives Toy Bike In Traffic; Zebra On Board; Historic Day In Egypt; Transgender Athletes; Spelling For Dummies

Aired May 23, 2012 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, the battle over who would be the better job creation president. Kind of hits a new high this morning. Here's vice president Joe Biden, he was attacking Mitt Romney over his private equity career. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Your job as president is to promote the common good. That doesn't mean the private equity guys are bad guys. They're not. But that no more qualifies you to be president than being a plumber. It doesn't -- and, by the way, there are a lot of awful smart plumbers. All kidding aside, it's not the same job requirement. So, it's totally legitimate for the president to point this out.


O'BRIEN: This comes as a new ad from president Obama highlights the, quote, "real people who were affected by Bain Capital," that private equity company that Mitt Romney ran for 15 years. Take a look at that ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes me angry. Those guys were all rich. They all had more money that they'll ever spend, yet they didn't have the money to take care of the very people that made the money for them.


O'BRIEN: The other side former managing director at Bain Capital, Ed Conard, makes his case for the company's brand of free market capitalism in his new book, which is called "Unintended Consequences -- Why Everything You've Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong." Ed's given at least $1 million to the super PAC that supports Mitt Romney. So nice for you to come and talk to us.

ED CONARD, FORMER MANAGING DIRECTOR AT BAIN CAPITAL: Thank you for having me. O'BRIEN: You were born in Detroit, and you went to Harvard business school, and you left to go to work for Bain Capital, and how much do you think you are worse off today, $100 million, $200 million? Give me a rough number.

CONARD: My middle-class parents told me not to talk about money.

O'BRIEN: Am I close?

CONARD: I'll let you guess.

O'BRIEN: I'll go with $100 million or so, you ran Bain Capital's New York office, you were managing director, that's the focus of the campaign obviously, we were showing clips of ads sort of going back and forth. Part of the argument is people in some way, you know, like you private equity people are out of touch with the regular folks that President Obama likes to put in their ads, regular people that did the work and weren't taken care of, do -- and I guess the thing by extension so is Mitt Romney. Do you think that that -- why is that not a fair argument? You say it's not true in your book.

CONARD: I think business leaders play a critical role in growing the economy and helping to create jobs and making the United States successful as it's been relative to Europe or Japan. So the idea that they wouldn't make great leaders for our country is a little farfetched.

O'BRIEN: But you think they make good job creators, because right now the focus of private equity and I guess has always been making money, not necessarily creating jobs, right?

CONARD: Well, I think that it's half true that companies and Bain Capital work for investors, but more importantly, they work for customers and you can't be successful with investors if you aren't successful with customers. What you are doing is trying to make companies stronger and grow them faster. We know that the U.S. created a lot of employment relative to jam and Europe.

O'BRIEN: You argue in your book that the superrich is very good for the middle-class. How is that so?

CONARD: Well, I make an argument that the economy has changed significantly from the 1950s. That was the era of big business where we were capitalizing on the value of mass produced goods like cars. You need big companies to process them, an oil industry, you got to pave millions of miles of road, you have to put 250 million cars on the road. Today two people can create Instagram and $2 billion of value in a year. It's much more entrepreneurial economy today. The individual plays a much more important than the 1950s where individuals didn't matter. And risk-taking and the payoffs for risk taking matter a lot more than the 1950s where funding large scale investment with risk averse savings, as opposed to equity which is much more needed and in is that right supply. So when you apply economics, you've got to apply economics differently today than you would in the 1950s. O'BRIEN: There are some people who would look at the system today and would say as the rich get more and more rich, the middle- class as we well know is disappearing, so we've seen some of this tremendous increase in what the -- your average very super wealthy person is making and yet the middle-class is being constricted and shrinking.

CONARD: Identify think that's a common misperception, the distribution around the median income is very tight and hasn't changed that much over time. If you really make a comparison to, say, Europe, the risk takers as represented by the payoff for the successful risk takers, which are the people that add to the 1 percent if you will to use the slang, is much higher than it is in Europe and Japan. Our risk takers are producing way more innovation, Google, Facebook, Intel, Microsoft, Apple, I mean, the list goes on and on.

And if you look at our middle-class relative to Europe or Japan I think at worse they're the same. And if you really dig into the numbers I think they're substantially better. For example, we created 40 million jobs since the 1980s, mid-1980s on a base of 100 million employees, that's a 40 percent increase in employment. Europe and Japan combined are in the 15 percent to 20 percent range. We brought 20 million immigrants in. We provided them jobs. We educated their children. We put tens of millions of people to work offshore. I think it's hard to make the argument that no other high-wage economy has done more for the working class and poor than the U.S. economy has.

O'BRIEN: And there's certainly people that looked at the income breakdown and talked about how the number of minorities and women how their wages have increased, and if you look at white men, they have not, and they average the numbers out, and they take exception to the numbers in your book.

But my question would be this, you argue in the book, that there is sort of this level playing field, and I think for many Americans they feel it's not level. When you are talking about the superrich, it's not the risk taking. And that deck is stacked against them, for example, in the form of lobbyists. I take Lipitor, I pay much more than if I ran across the border to buy it, and that's because there's a lobby to ensure that it's brought in by the pharmaceutical corporations that want to make sure that prices are kept at a certain level, that they have a connection with congress. It's not to help me or anybody else buying Lipitor or anybody else in the middle-class. They want to make sure that the pharmaceutical companies make a lot of money and keep their money. Isn't that true, it's sort of an unfair, uneven playing field?

CONARD: We would all agree that we have to guard against any sort of rent seeking on the part of political interest groups when it comes to our government. We got to guard against it is every possible way we can and it's always a risk --

O'BRIEN: But that's lobbying in general.

CONARD: When you look at the micro you see a lot of lobbying going on back and forth between all sorts of interests groups. When you step up to the macro, let's look at the two most important issues. Taxes -- in the U.S. the top one percent is paying a much higher percentage of the taxes than Europe and Japan. If you look at government services, Europe is providing more government services and they are doing more by taxing the middle-class and not the top one percent. It's hard to make the argument for the two most important issues we're fighting about in this campaign season, taxes and government services, it's hard to say that we are not doing it better than Europe and Japan.

O'BRIEN: Do you think that people talking about income inequality are wrongheaded? Mitt Romney was asked about it by Matt Lauer of NBC. I'll play it and then talk to you on the other side.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's about envy, I think it's about class warfare. I think when you have a president encouraging dividing America on the one percent and the 99 percent, you have opened a whole new wave of the country which is entirely inconsistent on the one nation under god, I believe in the final analysis will reject it.


O'BRIEN: Do you think that that's true that the conversation about income inequality is really one where it's the 99 percent, the people who are not in the superrich category, are really just envious?

CONARD: Well, I wouldn't use the word "envious." I guess I think the best of people, so I don't want to think -- I don't like to think that. But I would say this, that if you don't see that the economy has changed from the 1950s to where it is today, very much based on risk taking and innovation, you scratch your head and wonder why income inequality has increased.

And if you don't see the reason why then you start to come up with other reasons and you say, well, geez, maybe it's a fortuitous aligning of the stars which has allowed the top 1 percent to get more income today than they would have in the past. You don't see the real underlying economics.

O'BRIEN: Or maybe there's a sort of non-level playing field, that the wealthier are allowed to become wealthier -- I think people feel this way, that there are certain regulations in congress, sometimes it's the tax system, that help the wealthier keep their money and make more middle, whereas the middle class at the same time feel they are being squeezed and they are not helped by the very Congress that they worked to elect?

CONARD: And I gave you a different interpretation, in most cases we find as a whole the top 1 percent here is earning and producing more of the United States than they are in Europe and Japan. We have a very rich set of unrealized investment opportunities. I go back to Google, Facebook, Intel, you name it, and all of that innovation has come from the United States. Europe and Japan stand in stark contrast.

And so when you see this difference between today and the 1950s, I think you're really asking the question, which is do we need these high payoffs to motivate the risk taking that's producing innovation? And when we look at the micro example when state lotteries go up, for example, we know that people start buying a lot of tickets. When internet values rose in 2000 we know a lot of people walked away from their jobs to create internet startups. And we know when the real estate prices rose in 2006, 2007, a lot of entrepreneurs started working on fixing up real estate to try to make money. So we know the payoffs do motivate increased risk taking.

And if the U.S. -- if Europe and Japan had produced a similar level of innovation with much lower payoffs, we could certainly be having this debate about whether the payoffs are necessary. But we stand in stark contrast to Europe and Japan.

O'BRIEN: You're arguing for the one percent in a world that's having kind of I think -- a country in an election is having a fight over the 1 percent versus the 99 percent versus the one percent. A lot of people at Occupy Wall Street, three don't want to see the protesters on occupy Wall Street. They don't think it's a good thing to be part of the 1 percent. Do you think his book could hurt him politically?

CONARD: I think there's always a risk. Coming on TV, it's a risk for Bain, it's a risk for Mitt, it's a risk for me. But I can tell you this when serious economists have read my book, on the left and the right, and Nouriel Roubini, he agrees it's very seriously and thought provoking and well considered explanation of the economy even though he disagrees with it.

O'BRIEN: And the political question, I get your point. Thank you for joining us.

CONARD: Thank you for having me, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Let's get to the top stories this morning. Christine Romans has that. Hey, Christine, good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Soledad. A woman undergoing a mental evaluation this morning after causing a body bomb scare on an international flight. The woman was on board a U.S. Airways' flight from Paris to North Carolina yesterday when she claimed to have a device surgically implanted in her body. Claimed this in a note she gave to a flight attendant. Fighter jets got scrambled and the flight was diverted to Bangor, Maine, where the woman was taken off that plane.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They called for a doctor and the doctor took her back to the back of the plane. She came up again and went back to the back of the plane and the pilot came back with her and the next thing we knew they were saying we were making a stop and we were down within minutes. I've been flying my whole life, and I've never been from that altitude to landing that quickly.


CONARD: Federal officials say doctors on board checked her out, found no recent scars. They say they did not pose a threat and, again, a psych evaluation under way.

Morgan Stanley subpoenaed over the Facebook IPO. The state of Massachusetts issuing that subpoena after Reuters reported that Morgan Stanley shared a negative revenue outlook with its clients right before the social networking company went public. Morgan Stanley was the chief underwriter for the IPO and insists it followed all the required procedures.

ROMANS: Are we about to fall of a fiscal cliff? The congressional budget office says that's exactly what will happen if trillions of dollars in tax hikes and spending cutting take effect as scheduled next year. They say if Congress doesn't act the U.S. economy will be pushed back into recession. That includes letting the Bush tax cuts expire, the alternative minimum tax exemption for the middle-class, and also $1 trillion of spending cuts and pay cuts for Medicare doctors.

Egypt's future being watched closely by the U.S. and Israel this morning. Egyptians are heading to the polls right now to elect their first president since the fall of Hosni Mubarak and 30 years of dictatorship. It's really the first free elections in the country's 5,000 years of existence.

We're about to tell you the winner of "Dancing with the Stars."




ROMANS: I didn't give you much time to turn away, did I? Football star Donald Driver takes home the crystal ball trophy, he and partner Peta wowed the judges with their country-themed freestyle, scoring a 10. The Green Bay Packers wide receiver was a bit of an underdog heading into the final. The judge favorite welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins came in second. I'm not a breathless follower of "Dancing with the Stars."

O'BRIEN: Would you do that show?

ROMANS: Absolutely not.

O'BRIEN: Really? I thought you would say absolutely. I would do it.

ROMANS: Seriously? You have to be away from your family for weeks. You might get shin splints.

O'BRIEN: You wouldn't do "Dancing with the Stars" because you might get shin splints?

ROMANS: I don't like pain, Soledad. I don't like pain.

O'BRIEN: Just for the record, I'd do it in a hot second. Yes, I can dance, come on.


O'BRIEN: Thanks, Christine.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, a man and a zebra a walk into a bar, actually there's no punch line. That really happened. It's one of the strangest dui stops ever to tell you about. That's coming up.

And what exactly happened in the prostitution scandal in South America? More details being revealed as some of the Secret Service agents are fighting to get their jobs back. Senator Ron Johnson is investigating. He'll join us list.

From his play list, that's George Harrison "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. This morning four Secret Service agents dismissed during that prostitution scandal in Colombia are fighting back. They say they're being used as scapegoats and they don't deserve to lose their jobs. The four agents are among 12 accused of having paid for sex while prepping for President Obama's trip to Colombia, and they say they're take the fall for things that were long tolerated in what people would call the "secret circus."

The Secret Service director will be testifying before the Homeland Security committee. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson is on that committee and he joins us from Capitol Hill this morning, good morning, sir, thank you for join us. What do you want to ask the Secret Service director?

SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R) WISCONSIN: I want to find out how pervasive this kind of culture and attitude is in the Secret Service. The Secret Service is one of the most respected agencies in our government. They've done phenomenal work. I think director Mark Sullivan is highly respected here in Washington. I've had a meeting with him. He seems very sincere, wants to get to bottom of this thing. But the revelations this morning, again, would indicate it may be a little bit larger cultural problem than what was first indicated.

O'BRIEN: Do you see it, then, as a failure of his leadership specifically?

JOHNSON: We'll have to investigate this. I think we're getting our arms around this particular incident that occurred in Cartagena, Colombia, over the course of five days, three separate incidents. So he's getting to the bottom of that. But with the new revelations it's too early to tell. We just might need a totally separate investigation from a totally independent body. O'BRIEN: His remarks we know because he sent us a preview of his remarks. And he's going to say this, "At the time the misconduct occurred none of the individuals involved in the misconduct had received any sort of protected information, sensitive security documents, firearms, radios, or other security related equipment in their hotel rooms." In other words, really, ultimately there was nothing at risk. Is that a good enough answer for you?

JOHNSON: No, it isn't, because, I mean, the problem really is when agents expose themselves and become vulnerable to coercion, blackmail, they just become vulnerable. And that's what's so incredibly important. There are plenty of rules already in place that should have prevented this. Anytime a Secret Service agent comes into contact with a foreign national outside of his duties, he should be reporting that immediately when he returns to his, you know, home base. And that didn't occur in this case either. So, we really need to get to the bottom. And is this a cultural problem, is it more pervasive? This is a very serious issue.

O'BRIEN: As I was mentioning in the introduction to you, some are saying it is cultural, and before any sort of big deployment what you could do is go out and act a little bit crazy, it's cultural, and they are fighting back for their jobs. Do you think they deserve their jobs back if, in fact, it was culturally OK within the Secret Service?

JOHNSON: I would say no, but we need to find out whether it is part of the culture. You know, I heard a little bit, it's a little bit more of an attitude, you know, what goes on in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. That's just totally unacceptable and, you know, what I want to do is we need to get to the bottom of this thing, not to go on a witch hunt but really find out is the Secret Service secure so that we certainly know, you know, the people they are protecting are secure.

Again, it's a very serious situation here. We need to get to the bottom of this thing. And what I want to make sure is that we don't have a drip, drip, drip, you know, of incident after incident coming over in the next number of months. We need to get to the bottom of this now, find out what the problem is, fix it and move on.

O'BRIEN: Or maybe what goes on in Cartagena, stays in Cartagena, was the philosophy. Thank you for joining us, Senator Ron Johnson.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead at STARTING POINT, a groom jilted at the altar decides to sue the bride-to-be. Our panel is joining us. There they are, headed in to talk about that and much more. And, by the way, Roland's play list, parliament, wow! 22 minutes in we're playing parliament. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: This is off of Margaret's playlist, and if it gets too complicated to announce, I hand it over. ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's very wise on your part.

O'BRIEN: Let's get to right in the paper. Who wants to start? Go ahead.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR. Unbelievable photos. This is an unbelievable couple, they got married on the 19th of May, south central Kansas, Harper County, and he's a bull rider. She's a barrel racer.

MARTIN: Beautiful.

HOOVER: And in the photos, I don't know if you can see in the upper left-hand corner, there are tornadoes raging in the background. They actually had the ceremony outside and watched the tornadoes during the ceremony. They chased tornadoes and this is something that they do so they thought it was appropriate that the tornadoes are in the background of their wedding photos. Striking photos.

MARTIN: Just curious, were there any guests at the wedding?

HOOVER: There were 80 guests.

MARTIN: And a photographer that was cool about this.

HOOVER: The photographer is brand-new in the photography bils of weddings. It's the fifth one. It's all downhill from here.

O'BRIEN: Roland, what you got?

MARTIN: The story, you have it there. The guy who is suing the woman who has left him at the altar twice. I'm with him. Take her to the bank. Anytime we see the stories --

O'BRIEN: The breakdown is hilarious on this story.

MARTIN: I say take her to the cleaners!

O'BRIEN: His name is Steven Silverstein and his fiance is Kendra Lee.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They broke up once, she left him at the altar once. And 15 months later he decided to take her bank, and she did it again. I want a deposit on the ring --

MARTIN: Go after everything.


O'BRIEN: He wants half of the deposit for the wedding band. He wants half of the money for the deejay. He wants $3,000 for the wedding videographer and the furniture -- oh, my goodness. We have time to get to Will's, what you got?

CAIN: Yesterday we did a story about iPads and my wife and I have been so proud because my oldest son, 4 years old, you give him a construction paper and a pair of scissors, he'll make a coffeemaker. This kid can tinker -- he's like MacGyver. "Tinkers Unite" in "The Wall Street Journal," it turns out kids are into bristle blocks and tinker toys and despite we are in the technological age, those kind of toys, get your hands on them, bristle blocks, Legos, up 23 percent.

O'BRIEN: Wait a minute, you are saying your son is not a genius?

CAIN: He's a genius.


HOOVER: One of many.

CAIN: One of many, Margaret, that's right.

O'BRIEN: Later on STARTING POINT, history is being made in Egypt. Take a look live. Millions are heading to the polls today to choose their next president. Will their voice be heard? We'll take you live to Cairo straight ahead.

Plus, did you see these pictures? A three-year-old boy rides his toy motorcycle, there he is circled, he's on his toy motorcycle in rush hour traffic as a bus comes his way.

CAIN: Where are his folks?

O'BRIEN: Not in the picture unfortunately.

And what does drinking, driving, and a zebra have in common? Kind of a bizarre DWI bust that will have you scratching your head, no joke. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: And welcome back to STARTING POINT. Let's begin with Christine Romans, a look at the day's headlines. Hi, good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning, Soledad. Former first lady Nancy Reagan is slowly recovering from broken ribs this morning.

The announcement was made yesterday at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley where she was expected to attend a speech. Mrs. Reagan suffered the injury in a fall at her home six weeks ago. The former first lady is 90 years old.

Strong winds are fueling a wildfire in Northern Nevada. It's already destroyed several homes. Officials say the TRE fire has grown to nearly 3,500 acres and continues to spread. Hundreds of homes and structures along with utility lines are being threatened.

Another rough day ahead in the markets, U.S. stock futures pointing to a lower open. Dow futures down about 80 points. Concerns that Greece may exit the eurozone pushing down markets overseas.

Apple with some competition. California TV maker Vizio plans to introduce a new line of stylish computers next month including two ultrathin notebook designs. Vizio says their computers will be simple to set up and will rival Apple's Mac computers while operating on a Microsoft Windows system.

A scary scene in China, that's a 3-year-old boy driving his toy motorcycle right smack in the middle of rush-hour traffic. When the bus goes by, your heart stops, he was not hurt believe it or not with buses and cars whizzing by.

A police officer spotted the little guy and was able to rescue him. According to police, the grandfather was watching the 3-year- old. The little boy wandered into the busy intersection when his grandfather stopped to go to the bathroom.

A parrot on his shoulder and a pet zebra in the back seat and we're not telling a joke. That's what police in Dubuque, Iowa, were met with when they arrested John Rider for a suspected DUI. Rider's girlfriend said, the parrot and the zebra were part of the family.


VICKY TETER, KEEPS ZEBRA AT HOME: They love going for a ride. We treat them like our kids. They come in the house. We take them outside, or take them for walks. We take them for car rides. They go when we get the mail with me.


ROMANS: The couple says they brought their pets to the Doghouse Bar, not kidding, because animals are usually allowed in. The DUI part, yes, that's where it gets a little more --

O'BRIEN: There are so many crazy things about that story, the zebra, the halter on the zebra like it's a horse, the Doghouse Bar.

MARTIN: I'm just saying right there --

O'BRIEN: That's not even the shocking part of that story, all right.

MARTIN: They're a little special.

O'BRIEN: Christine, thank you.

MARTIN: A little special.

O'BRIEN: Let's turn to Egypt now. History is being made if you take a look, you'll see Cairo where for the first time it's a live shot, first time in roughly 5,000 years Egyptians have started picking their president and it was obviously a very long road to this point.

You might remember a year and a half ago back in January of 2011, there were these rare anti-government protests that were inspired by an uprising in Tunisia, a month after that protesters were able to achieve one of their goals, President Hosni Mubarak stepped down after being in office 30 years.

And then in late March, Egyptian voters overwhelmingly approved constitutional amendments that would pave the way for parliamentary and presidential elections. One of the worst weeks for the protesters came in November of 2011 when Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Thirty-five people were killed. More than 3,000 people were wounded. Didn't stop the movement, though, and by January of 2012, parliamentary election results were announced and two Islamist parties won the 70 percent of seats in the lower House.

So, today a dozen candidates are vying to lead Egypt into its next chapter and joining us this morning from Cairo is Republican Congressman David Dreier of California.

He is there because he's an official election monitor. It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us. The voting started roughly five hours ago. I know, it's going to continue through tomorrow. How would you describe how it's going?

REPRESENTATIVE DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: Let me first say that the title of your show, Soledad, is the best description of what's going on in Egypt. It really is a starting point here.

I had a surreal experience. I came in and looked at the river that's right behind me, the famous River Nile, and I saw a huge placard of a campaign sign lit up in the dark, and I thought to myself, this is the first time that a campaign sign would have gone right up the Nile here in Cairo, Egypt, and no one knows who is going to win this election.

I've been here for a few days, and I've been traveling around, and I've been to numerous voting stations today. And there are a wide range of views, but it's an exciting time.

And I will tell you, it's inspiring for me as an American as I know it would be for any American or any freedom-loving person around the world to be able to see the fact that 80-year-old people -- I just talked, Soledad, to an 80-year-old man a few minutes ago who looked to me with tears coming down his face, and he said, finally, Egypt is born.

And so this is really the vision. I heard you mention Mrs. Reagan. This is the vision that Ronald Reagan put forward to encourage self- determination and I will say it's happening in this country and it's very uplifting.

O'BRIEN: You talked about it's unclear who's going to win, but of the 12 candidates, it's looks like there are sort of four that most people are talking about as being, one of them being the potential winners.

There's candidate Moussa, candidate Morsi, and there is a candidate named Fatullah and Shafique are the four main candidates that people are talking about. Is there one candidate that the United States would love to see running Egypt right now? DREIER: Well, I can tell you that I know as freedom-loving people we want the people of Egypt to make the decision who is going to be their leader. It's obviously we've had a roller-coaster ride certainly since January 25th when the revolution started last year.

We've had challenges. I was here for the parliamentary elections, the first round, November 28th and 29th. And, you know, we -- no one knows how it's going to come out, but the people of Egypt will make that decision.

And I know that this administration and those of us in the United States Congress look forward to working with whoever is chosen by the people of Egypt. Because this is a very important, strategic relationship we've had for a long of period of time and again, it's not been an easy one.

But, I think that having democracy and having the people make this choice will facilitate what I hope will be an even better relationship between Egypt and the United States. Commercial ties are very important, Soledad.

I've introduced in the Congress legislation calling for the establishment of an Egypt/U.S. free trade agreement so that we can break down barriers for the free flow of goods and services. But two million jobs have been lost since February 11th of last year when Hosni Mubarak left office.

And they need to get this economy growing. And the APEC is important, but I would like to see it done through commercialization rather than --

O'BRIEN: I know it's something that you're going to be watching, as it continues through tomorrow. Congressman David Dreier joining us this morning. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

DREIER: It's a starting point.

O'BRIEN: You know what? I'm going to allow you to use my title, sir, for that, I'm willing to share today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy to lend it to you.

O'BRIEN: Exactly. Happy to do that. Thank you for your time. Appreciate that. You know, it's interesting when I asked him about who does the U.S. want to see of the four main candidates that most people are talking about.

You know, he sort of did I think a fairly political answer of anyone they elect. But obviously there are obviously huge U.S. interests behind all this. And I'm curious, and, you know, he talked about strategic relationships, what do we think?

CAIN: I'm thinking that we probably would like to see Amre Moussa who would be considered at least relatively the liberal secularist. And there's also another late entry to that title as well the liberal secularist versus the Islamist party representatives, which is two of those as well.

We would not like to see Egypt to head the way of Iran and we're going to look to those guys to ensure that.

MARTIN: One thing to stress it's their country and they have the right to choose who they want to choose. Oftentimes in American history, we spend a lot of time discussing what our interests are. That's Egypt.

O'BRIEN: But to ignore that we have interests in the region and specifically in Egypt is I think incredibly --

MARTIN: No, we have interests, but they have a greater interest with their country. I simply recognize how this country has gotten into the affairs of many other countries. Their country, they get to choose.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, they get to choose, but there are strategic interests and we do have an interest of hoping and facilitating and helping a secular society develops civil institutions.

There's a question if it goes the Islamist route and picks a leader more embedded with Islamist factions and radicalize factions it's not good for the stability of the entire region let alone the world.

Americans have an interest for sure. I agree with you, though, I think Amre Moussa is probably our best bet on the ticket.

O'BRIEN: They won't be talking about it for another full day as they continue to watch these elections unfold.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a transgendered athlete fighting for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Identifies as a man, but competes with women. Is that cheating? We'll take a look.

And is spell check making us stupid? Why relying on technology and not our brains is dumbing down society according to some?

CAIN: I'm going to take a contrarian position on this.

O'BRIEN: As per usual.

MARTIN: Shocker. Shocker.

O'BRIEN: That's straight ahead on the STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Killen Godsey is a two-time NCAA national champion in the hammer throw, 16-time all-American in track and field and right now he's working to make it to the London Olympics this summer.

But what makes Killen story stand out is that Killen wasn't always Killen, he was born Kelly, born a female and now Killen identifies as male. His story and the challenges that he and other transgendered athletes face is detailed in the May 2012 issue of "Sports Illustrated."

And joining me this morning are the two men who reported the story, senior writer, David Epstein and writer and reporter, Pablo Torre. Nice to have you both with us.

Born a woman, Killen identifies as a man, but is competing as a woman. Is that because of the hormonal issues that come as transgender person makes the transition, which Killen is not doing?

DAVID EPSTEIN, SENIOR WRITER, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: That's why Keelin is able to continue competing as a woman. So biologically nothing has changed about Killen since birth.

There are rules in place that allow athletes to switch the gender they compete against if they undergo medical procedures. But Killen hasn't done that to the expressed purpose of continuing to do compete as a woman and hopefully to make it in Olympics. So nothing biologically has changed about Killen. And it's how he identifies.

O'BRIEN: And I think the key thing there is biologically because in other ways everything has changed about how Killen sees himself.

PABLO TORRE, WRITER/REPORTER, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: That's right. And Killen is actually waiting. As soon as the Olympic competition is done, as soon as the trials are done or fingers crossed, the games, Killen is going to be transitioning medically, taking testosterone for the first time and her athletic career as a woman will end officially. So it's a big couple of months.

CAIN: The athletic governing bodies draw the line and judge this the level of hormones, your testosterone levels, how do they draw the line on who is male and female competitor?

O'BRIEN: And what are the rules for that now in the Olympics for other athletes who are transgendered.

EPSTEIN: There are. It's actually not uniform. There's really little known not very much scientific documentation on these kinds of athletes. So the International Olympic Committee, which first made rules in '04 requires surgical transition as well as hormone therapy for two years.

The NCAA, the college governing body last year decided you don't need surgery, that your genitals don't affect your sports performance, but your hormone levels do.

So you need one year of hormone therapy. So there's no uniformity across the world. Some bodies have drawn it at hormone levels and others at surgery and hormones.

MARTIN: You saw it with the South African runner and that generated a huge amount of controversy because all of a sudden it was, well, does she have an unfair advantage --

O'BRIEN: Is it cheating is the question.

MARTIN: -- all of that going back and forth.

O'BRIEN: And does it change in Killen's case, well, certainly because she's biologically a she, but identifies as a he and first took himself as a he. But I think for these athletes in general, there's always that question of cheating. If you are a biological man that transitions to be a woman, do you have an advantage physically and in other ways?

TORRE: That's the big question, obviously. The problem is going from male to female because you bring that breadth of physical male advantages over female athletes, that's why we sort of divide the sports between men and women.

But the South African runner is actually intersects so a bit different, but obviously kind of the biggest base of sort of that nexus of gender in sports.

But, you're right. Hormone therapy is really what scientifically has been isolated as the creator of most of the advantages competitively athletic, in athletics for men.

HOOVER: In terms of standardizing practices, my understanding is that Killen actually when he got to Bates College decided and was able to pursue self-identifying as a man.

And Bates College actually helped him and worked through the setting up some standards and practices for other LGBT and transgendered individuals. Where does it stand now? Are there standard practices in colleges?

EPSTEIN: Yes, so the NCAA after had issued kind of a think tank and issued guidelines for colleges. This is a big topic. I mean, I was just in a meeting of athletic trainers. It's going to be one of the prime topics on college campuses this summer once they have the time and put the school year behind them, review the rules.

The schools in the big east, Syracuse, Cal Berkeley, they're starting to implement transgendered rules and it's not without difficulties. Killen ended up in his own locker room that sort of was OK, but took the captain away from the team, which wasn't ideal, so there are tricky issues as well.

O'BRIEN: And Killen can be a big role model if he is able to make it to the Olympics, competing as a woman, but identifying as a man. I mean, I think just in general, to sort of put a face on an issue that people are very confused about. I mean, I would think and have a lot of questions about as well.

EPSTEIN: The culture is shifting behind Killen and hopefully it moves a little bit further.

O'BRIEN: All right, David Epstein and Pablo Torre, nice to have you. Thanks for joining us. We certainly appreciate it.

Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, would you be able to survive in a world without spell-check? No, I would not. Some say we hope not according to a new study. We'll give you a little spelling test straight ahead.

When you call 911, you certainly expect a dispatcher to answer and you expect them to be alert and helpful. In one case, an operator fell asleep in the middle of the emergency call and started snoring in the middle of the emergency call.

The sense of urgency was not there. We're going to tell you what happened there. You're watching STARTING POINT. Short break. We're back in a moment.


CAIN: You don't know the Black Crowes?

MARTIN: No, I'm no black.

O'BRIEN: Hold on. You don't know the Black Crowes?

MARTIN: Look, I've heard the Black Crowes.

O'BRIEN: Jealous again.

MARTIN: Not making my iPod list.

O'BRIEN: Will Cain stretching out a little bit. Picking some new stuff, Will.

OK, this new report I want to get to says that spelling has become a lost art. I think we all know that. The reason is because we all have smartphones and spell-check is making us more stupid.

The "New York Daily News" -- moving on. I'm an English major. Twenty five random people got a simple -- you laugh now. Just wait people. Simple spelling test.

Told them they couldn't use spell-check. Only nine people were able to get the right answers spelling. We'll put you guys to the test. Ready? Now who is not laughing? Margaret, spell definitely for me.

HOOVER: I always get this one wrong. Can I write it?

O'BRIEN: Any way you want. You missed the whole middle section of that word. You would get it wrong.

Roland Martin, I'm going to give separate. Spell it. Spell separate. He got that right. Are you ready? For Will Cain we're going to give you raywendsun.

CAIN: I'm going to go with b on multiple choice here.

O'BRIEN: Where is laughter because I accidentally said something grammatically wrong.

CAIN: Let me make my contrarian argument.

O'BRIEN: She got definitely wrong.

HOOVER: I didn't know it was multiple choice.

O'BRIEN: I love Margaret's strategy, blame the test.

CAIN: If you look at the amount of time people now spend typing versus writing I would suggest spell-check is useful and spelling may become obsolete and if spell as a tool are memorization. People today are remembering passwords to every single thing that they sign into.

O'BRIEN: That was blame the test and blame the society.

HOOVER: In all seriousness, isn't technology intended to improve our lives and our efficiency?

MARTIN: It's not to make us dumb.

HOOVER: It's not making us dumb, but it is --

O'BRIEN: Listen, we don't need to be able to spell well. My husband hasn't been able to spell for years. He Googles things.

Moving on, still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, no one is laughing at me now. Investors misled about Facebook. We're going to tell you why the federal government is investigating social media giant now.

A flight diverted, did you hear this story? A woman claiming she has a device sewn inside her body. The passengers described what was a pretty frantic scene some 35,000 feet up in the sky. We'll tell you what happened. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.