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Interview with Governor John Sununu; Countries Kick Out Syrian Diplomats; Donald Trump Continues to Push Birther Line; Interview with Christine Pelosi; Romney-Bush in November?; Edwards Trial Deliberations

Aired May 30, 2012 - 08:00   ET



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

Our STARTING POINT this morning is trumping the message. Donald Trump refuses to drop the birther issue on the same day that Mitt Romney has locked up the GOP nomination. You'll see him go at it with Wolf Blitzer.

Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION (via telephone): Many people do not think it was authentic. His mother was not in the hospital. There were many other things that came out.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Donald, you are beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you.

TRUMP: I think you are, Wolf.


O'BRIEN: Execution of dozens of children is getting the world's attention. U.S. expelling the Syrian ambassador after dozens of those children are massacred in the town called Houla. And calls are growing louder to get the regime out of Syria.

And a female alternate, was she flirting with John Edwards? You think that would rap up the trial a little faster, wouldn't it? We'll also tell you why the judge is intervening in the case.

It's Wednesday, May 30th. STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: I was going to stay what a good strategy. That's Joe Cocker, "Feeling All Right."


O'BRIEN: That's off Margaret's playlist. We're talking about the John Edwards and flirting. We're talking a about that being a good legal strategy in a moment of need, in general if you are on trial. Go to that if you think it will work.

All right. Our other panelists this morning: Ron Brownstein is the editorial director of the "National Journal," and CNN senior political analyst.

Margaret Hoover, as I mentioned, she's CNN contributor, also author of the book, "American Individualism."

And Will Cain, CNN contributor and columnist at

Historic day for Mitt Romney overshadowed, though, by supporter Donald Trump after winning the Texas GOP primary last night, he did get to the magic number which was 1,144 delegates and is now first Mormon presidential nominee of a political party -- major political party.

Donald Trump was in Vegas, though, with Mitt Romney for a fund- raiser and spent the day reiterating the view that President Obama was born outside of the United States, culminated in a contentious interview on CNN's "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer.


TRUMP: There are many people that don't agree with that birth certificate. They don't think it's authentic, Wolf.

BLITZER: I don't know when you say many people who don't agree. Like who? Give me a name of somebody in a position of authority in Hawaii who says -- give me a name.

TRUMP: There are many people. I don't give names.


O'BRIEN: Well, joining us this morning, Mitt Romney's surrogate, former governor of New Hampshire, John Sununu.

Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us. Walk me through it. Why --

JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: Thank you very much. It's good to be here.

O'BRIEN: Thank you. Appreciate that.

Why the birther thing? I mean, I'm going to make an assumption that --

SUNUNU: I don't know. Why is CNN -- why is CNN so fixated on this? Why don't we talk about the jobs issue in this country?

O'BRIEN: Sure. We'll get to that in a moment but let's start with this.

SUNUNU: And disastrous -- and it's CNN that wants to bring it up. I don't want to bring it up. Mitt Romney has made it clear -- Mitt Romney has made has clear that he believes that President Obama was born in the U.S. You had Donald Trump on last night. And now you are asking the question this morning. It's CNN's fixation.

O'BRIEN: Sir, you don't think it's a valid question of someone posing as a supporter/surrogate at a high level? Donald Trump isn't your random supporter. He's a high level big funder. He's talking about millions of dollars he's thinking about donating.

You don't think that that's a big deal that person consistently talks about the fact that the president of the United States is not a citizen of the country?

SUNUNU: I think it's as equivalent an issue as Bill Maher who gave a million dollars to President Obama talking with such a foul mouth about women. But that's -- you can't pick your supporters in this country. The fact is that this country has a jobs problem and supporters of the president, like CNN, keep wanting to talk about other issues.

O'BRIEN: What's interesting, every time you ask anyone a hard question they say you must be supporting?

SUNUNU: This isn't a hard question. This is an easy question. Mitt Romney has made it clear he believes the president of the United States was born in the United States. Now we can talk about the big issues in this country.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask a follow-up question. We'll get to jobs in a second.


SUNUNU: Twenty-four million unemployed, and 24 million people underemployed.

O'BRIEN: I agree with you on that front. We'll get to that in one second.

Before we get to that, I want to ask you why does Mitt Romney not go further? For example, as I'm sure you have seen many times, when John McCain was posed a question by a woman who asked him a question, not only did he say here's my position. He said to her, let me correct you. So, I'll play that clip for you.

SUNUNU: Aren't you embarrassed to be speaking directly from the Obama speaking points that they distributed yesterday? Aren't you embarrassed to sound exactly like the Obama spokesman talking about John McCain? This is ridiculous.

O'BRIEN: This is a clip we played before that ran many times.

SUNUNU: You should be embarrassed.

O'BRIEN: It's a conversation that's been had.

SUNUNU: Come on. Let's talk jobs. Let's talk jobs.

O'BRIEN: Is that because you don't want to talk about the fact that a major fund-raiser is a birther?

SUNUNU: It's not an issue. There is nobody in the Romney campaign that believes that the president was not born in the United States.

O'BRIEN: So then how come someone doesn't say, Donald Trump is wrong? We're going to tell Donald Trump he is wrong.

SUNUNU: Donald Trump is wrong. The president is born in the United States.

O'BRIEN: That may be the first time.

SUNUNU: No, it isn't, ma'am. It's just because you don't read enough that you don't understand. Let's go to the issues.

O'BRIEN: There's no need to get into personal attacks. We can move on.

SUNUNU: I'm not getting into personal attacks. I'm talking about the fact that you have a fixation.

O'BRIEN: Of asking questions when someone who is clearly a birther is a representative --

SUNUNU: You did it last night.

O'BRIEN: I was sleeping last night.

SUNUNU: You opened the show today with Donald Trump.

O'BRIEN: That's what I was doing last night. I didn't do anything but sleeping last night because I go to bed early. Let's move on and talk about the economy.

SUNUNU: This country has a jobs problem and president that doesn't understand how to solve the job problem and it has a president that keeps passing laws that kill jobs in America. Let's talk about that.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's talk about that. For example, when I talked to Andrea Saul yesterday she was telling me she believes the governor's record in the state of Massachusetts is a great example for what he'll do in this country. When you look at some of the statistics, the jobs he was able to create didn't really compare with the other job creation from around the country.

Do you think that in fact is going to be something that he's going to want to rely on?

SUNUNU: I think he will. The reason it was so tough to create additional jobs in Massachusetts is that the unemployment rate there was about 4.5 percent -- 4.5 percent compared to President Obama's 8.2 percent is a superb differential.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the distraction happening between these conversations about birthers and getting to the economy. Have you found this conversation has distracted the governor?

SUNUNU: No. I think it's an effort by the Obama administration not to talk about the laws they passed that are strangling specific segments of the American job market. We have in New Hampshire and Massachusetts up here, a great medical device industry. The Obama administration puts a tax on it. About 43,000 jobs can leave the country.

And it just shows how dumb those policies are that you impose a tax, that jobs leave, you don't get revenue and you've lost the jobs. That kind of lack of smarts is typical of what the Obama administration has been doing.

O'BRIEN: Hang on for a second, Governor. I want to talk to Ron Brownstein for a second.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: One question here is that Governor Sununu is involved personally in negotiating an increase in taxes in 1990 as part of a balanced approach of tax increases and budget cuts to reduce the deficit. Bill Clinton then raised taxes again in 1993 gained 23 million jobs through the 1990s. Ten years after the Bush tax cuts were passed in 2001, there were fewer people working than on the day they were passed.

So, why when you look at that record, why are taxes and federal decisions on taxation the key variable in determining economic growth?

SUNUNU: Most important thing about that agreement is that there was five times as much cuts in spending as there was changes in revenue, and most of the changes in revenue were consumption taxes. So the fact is that was an inspiration to the economy to create some jobs.

The second thing --


SUNUNU: You asked me a question. The second thing that did was put together budgeting rules that allowed this country to move into a surplus and the marginal rate that was increased on upper earners was balanced by a reduction in what was a bubble rate, an actually higher rate for middle class taxpayers so we reduced the tax rates for middle class taxpayers even though it extended out to marginal rate for the higher income people.

The fact is that what we need in this country today is to stop abusive legislation like Dodd-Frank that is strangling the community banks, which is source of funds for small businesses to increase jobs. But this president is proud of Dodd-Frank and therefore he doesn't understand he's killing jobs with legislation that he likes to talk about.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Governor, I have a separate question for you entirely changing gears. Margaret Hoover here.

You know, it's been reported that you were actively involved in helping to change the primary system for Republicans to proportional voting that we ended up with this time from the system last time that allowed John McCain to really lock up the nomination by February in 2008. Looking back on it having had the prolonged primary, the 20- plus debates, what many in the Republican Party think was a proportional system that led to a bit of a branding problem for the GOP, if you had to do it again, do you think we should go back to how we had it in 2008 or do you think this long system that allowed Mitt Romney to lock up the nomination just last night at the end of may, beginning of June, was a good thing?

SUNUNU: He locked it up about a month ago, Margaret. We know that.

HOOVER: Well, but the 1,144 --

SUNUNU: What happened is more states were able to participate. The base got more energized. More Republicans have been focusing on this election early and the fact is that in the long run this will be a stronger process than one in which you wrap it up in February, and then have to reenergize the base over the summer.

HOOVER: You would do it again, 2016, same thing?

SUNUNU: I think so. I think New Hampshire coming first followed by South Carolina and with Iowa participating at the front end gave everybody a chance to get a good start and the price of having that good start was to have some proportionality that allowed other states to be significant role.

O'BRIEN: Or maybe they'll wait and see how it all turns out. Governor Sununu, nice to see you as always. We love sparring with you first thing in the morning.

SUNUNU: Wakes us both up.

O'BRIEN: Certainly does, doesn't it? I feel like I need to go have a drink now.


O'BRIEN: All right. Let's get to Christine Romans. She's got the day's top stories.

Hey, Christine.


Breaking news this morning: Julian Assange appeals against extradition denied. The British Supreme Court ruled Assange will be sent to Sweden over allegations he sexually abused two women in that country in 2010. Assange says he fears if he's extradited, Sweden will hand him over to the U.S. where he then could be prosecuted for his leaking of American classified documents. Now, judges did leave an opening for an appeal and that's pretty unusual. Rulings in Britain are usually final.

Beryl is picking up steam once again. A tropical storm. It's forecast to head up the coast to North and South Carolina today. The storm has already dumped up to a foot of rain in some areas. It's packing winds of 35 miles per hour and could lead to dangerous rip currents and rough surf.

That's Oklahoma where the problem is heavy rain and hail. Damage from a hail storm knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers in the Oklahoma City area. Most of the lights are back on this morning.

A warning about fake Adderall being sold online. The Drug Enforcement Agency is investigating complaints about counterfeit versions of this popular treatment for ADHD. Bottles containing the fake pills frequently have misspellings on the labels. That's what you watch out for.

And drugs themselves may not contain all of the right ingredients. The DEA warns the phony pills may not be effective and they could also be harmful.

A family of three is recovering this morning after their small plane crash landed in the mountains of southern Idaho. Pilot Brian Brown was flying from Sacramento with his wife and daughter when a sudden cold front swept in and caused his plane's wings to completely ice over. Earlier on CNN, Brian's wife told us it might have turned out a lot worse if someone hadn't called their daughter's cell phone while they were stuck on that mountain.


JAYANN BROWN, SURVIVED PLANE CRASH WITH HUSBAND, DAUGHTER: We couldn't find them. It was getting dark. We couldn't find them.

And so, when the cell phone rang, it, of course, lit up and then she was able to find it. And then make the call.


ROMANS: Wow. That call eventually brought help after the Browns spent 12 hours stranded at the crash site. Terrifying but they are all okay.

O'BRIEN: That young woman was so calm on the phone making that 911 call, just like absolutely -- good for them. Very lucky, too.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT: the growing crisis in Syria.

And could Michelle Obama be the next Hillary Clinton? We'll tell you what she had to say about that proposition.

My playlist this morning is Chaka Khan, "Tell Me Something Good." You're watching STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: In a little less than two hours, 10:00 a.m. eastern, the U.N. Security Council will be getting updated on the deteriorating situation in Syria. It comes on the hills of new symbolic gestures protesting the slaughter of civilians in that country. Eleven nations, including the United States, have expelled Syrian diplomats in response to Friday's massacre of 108 civilians, including 49 children in the village of Houla.

Also, U.N. special envoy, Kofi Annan said that Assad, himself, quote, "condemned the killings, too." He even vowed to organize an investigation, but most are not expecting that President Assad will keep his word.

Michael Wahid Hanna is a fellow with the Century Foundation. It's a think-tank based here in New York. He's also a member of the council on foreign relations. It's nice to have you with us. What do you think of the strategy is right at this moment?

MICHAEL WAHID HANNA, FELLOW, THE CENTURY FOUNDATION: Well, it's a suboptimal strategy, but it's the only one that exists at the moment. There is no plan B, and that's really a function of how difficult the situation is in Syria. It is a complex environment on sectarian and ethic grounds.

There is a divided opposition, and more importantly, there is a divided international community which limits the range of options which can be brought to bear.

O'BRIEN: So, what's plan A? If there's no plan B, walk me through plan A.

HANNA: Well, I think, at this point, people are starting to think about a managed transition, that this might be the way that you thread the needle with the Russians. We heard Foreign Minister Lavrov suggests that, perhaps, they're not wedded to Assad (ph) and the regime, per se.

They're obviously opposed to foreign military intervention, so perhaps, this is the path whereby you can satisfy the concerns of Russia regarding its own strategic interests, it's place in the world, and its objection to any type of military intervention on the ground of state sovereignty. So, perhaps, this is the path that we can push as an international community.

And I do think it is quite important to manage this type of solidarity because this isn't a situation that can be managed if the international community is divided.

CAIN: That presupposed that whatever comes after Assad will be a palatable to the Russians, something they see as proxies into what Assad is for them, an ally, a friend. And I'm not sure anybody that qualifies and checks the box on those things would be palatable to the resistance, to the rebels.

HANNA: Perhaps. I mean, I think when you looked at a managed transition, what that implies is you're trying to get a bargain that satisfies all sides. One that is not going to be deeply satisfying or completely satisfying.

And so, perhaps, the way you go about that and I've spoken to some members of the Syrian National Council about this is that you focus on Alawites-controlled security sector. That, perhaps, you are focused more on decapitation of Assad and the circle of advisers, his close confidants, and that this might be a signal, not only to the Russians, but also to those within Syria who are hesitant about change.

CAIN: That just sounds like an extremely clean process when you use words like managed transition in an environment where 49 people, including women and children are being shot, executed, where we have talk of Alawites being a wipe out if there's a transition. So, I just don't understand how this kind of clean concept really works in the real world.

HANNA: It's not a clean concept. I would only say that all the alternatives are very bad. If this fails, we're looking at protracted, bloody, sectarian civilian war that could have regional impact in terms of Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and other countries. And so, this isn't something that we should be discarding very lightly.

BROWNSTEIN: Can I go back a step. What do you think would be the key to convincing Assad it is time to go? If Russia pulls the plug with that by itself, given everything else that's going on, be enough to convince him the game is up?

HANNA: I think not in and of itself. I think they have to feel international isolation. I think what would be key is to see fissures and fractures within the regime. This conflict has pushed the regime closer together, and we haven't seen the type of defections we saw with, say, the conflict in Libya when we saw all sorts of diplomatic defections from within the regime.

And so, obviously, Russia abandoning Assad would be an important prerequisite, but I don't think in and of itself it can solve the situation in that regard.

HOOVER: Is it reasonable to expect fissures and everything if you have a tight sectarian Alawite community that is very unlikely, frankly, to (INAUDIBLE) with one another. They are minority in that run the country, a majority Sunni country. How realistic is that?

HANNA: Well, I think it depends on what the nature of this transition looks like. And so, if there are guarantees that there are not going to be -- there's not going to degasification in the way that it was carried out in Iraq, if we're talking about continued Alawite control of the security sector, that's an important hedge for that community.

It's an important hedge for those other minorities in Syria who are quite worried about what regime change would look like. And so, I don't know if it will work. I'm saying that this is still the best option around because military intervention, frankly, is off the table. There's not going to be a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing this.

And it's not going to happen without a legal mandate. So, I think we have to exhaust diplomatic possibilities. I think to the extent that the Russians can be brought along, it will require going through all the motions, making sure that there is no other alternative, and frankly, Russian credibility is on the line.

And so, at some point in time in the near future, it's going to be a question. Does Russia actually care about outcomes in Syria or they more interested in exercising influence on the international stage, simply exercising a veto.

O'BRIEN: Michael Wahid Hanna, nice to have you with us. We appreciate you joining us.

HANNA: Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: We got to take a break. But still ahead this morning, is Michelle Obama headed for higher office? We'll tell you about her plans after she leaves the White House.

Don't forget, you can watch us on on your computer or on your mobile phone, You're watching STARTING POINT. We got to take a break. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Margaret is killing it with the playlist this morning. "First Time," that's Lifehouse off of Margaret's playlist. You can see the playlist on our website, or follow me on Twitter @Soledad_O'Brien.

Here's a question for you. Is Michelle Obama ready for her own political campaign? Here's what she had to say when she's asked if she would follow in the footsteps of the last Democratic first lady, Hillary Clinton.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: There are so many ways to serve, and being president is one of the hardest ways, and that's one of the reasons why I tell Barack, I'm a little smarter than him. I picked the easier job.


OBAMA: No, I'm just kidding. But, no, I have no interest in politics, never have, never will.


O'BRIEN: She says that she wants to be a voice for America's military families. As long as she has a platform, that's what she's going to do.

CAIN: Strikes me as odd that it almost becomes assumed or pretty supposed that if you have the same last name as a previous president, whether it's Kennedy or Bush or Clinton or now Obama, that you might have a political future. Ron, you're our political historian. Was Eleanor Roosevelt asked this question?

BROWNSTEIN: That was a different time. But, you know, look, I mean, the name, the value of the name I.D. is so enormous. It's worth so many millions of dollars in politics and having a brand is people talk about it now.

O'BRIEN: And everybody likes her.


BROWNSTEIN: I don't see her going down this route, but it's worth keeping in mind that one function of the gender gap we've had in our politics is the 1970s is something like north of 55 percent of the total voters in the Democratic primary are women. So, you know, there is that reality. I don't think it will be her.

O'BRIEN: And do numbers show that women vote for women?


HOOVER: There's -- I mean, there is a gender gap in politics. I mean, for sure more women vote for Democrats than vote for Republicans. That's true.


HOOVER: Eleanor Roosevelt was going to run for senate in New York. She was actually courted (ph) and thought long and hard about it and decided at the end of the day not to.


BROWNSTEIN: The brand is a real asset, especially within the party.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask the owner of the Hoover brand. Would you run for political office?

HOOVER: Certainly not for a very long time. I think you have to do something worthwhile first before you can offer your services.


HOOVER: But a lot of people ask, actually, because people do that simple math. I think, you're right. Name I.D. does a lot. You know who else also was going to run, a run for a Senate was Mitt Romney's mother.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. And she was defeated in 1970. Mitt Romney, son of a failed presidential candidate, who is the nominee, Robert Taft -- how many -- it's an interesting question. American history, you know, has become more common. It has become more of kind of a dynastic sport. Robert Taft ran for presidency. (CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: It does take having a certain frame of reference and growing up in a political atmosphere to think that way and successfully that way or learn from mistakes.

BROWNSTEIN: Multi-generation political families are becoming much more common.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead, you just heard a moment ago and I'm sure you didn't miss it as Governor Johnson -- he's so sweet and cuddly and kind. I love talking to him every morning. He did say Donald Trump is wrong when it comes to the birther controversy. We'll talk about what mitt Romney is going to do with Donald Trump's help trying to get into the White House. You're watching STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Let's get right to the headlines. Christine Romans has a look at those. Good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning. The last victim was found in the deadly earthquake in Italy. That's 17 people reported dead. That's the second earthquake to hit the region this month. Officials say 14,000 people now have nowhere to live.

Is she the fall gal? The communications director for Newark Mayor Corey Booker has resigned. There are reports she was forced out because of controversial statements made by booker on NBC's "Meet the Press" earlier this month. Booker is an Obama surrogate but said on that show that he was nauseated by the president's attack ads against Mitt Romney.

Chinese human rights activists Chen Guangcheng says his country lacks the rule of law. In an op-ed in the "New York Times" Chen says China's abuse of treatment of dissidents threatens its political stability. He writes of his escape from house arrest "After the local police discovered my escape from a village in April, a furious pack of thugs, not on in uniform, bearing no search or arrest warrants, and refusing to identify themselves, scaled the wall of my brother's farmhouse in the dead of night, smashed through the doors, and brutally assaulted my brother. After detaining him, the gang returned twice more, severely beating my sister-in-law and my nephew with pickaxe handles.

U.S. stock futures down ahead of the opening bell. Dow futures down 100 points. Instability in Europe pushing markets worldwide down this morning. Spain's economy is experiencing big debt problems, high unemployment, and a slowdown like much of the rest of Europe.

A bombshell last night from Apple's CEO Tim Cook. He told the conference he wants Apple to make products in the U.S. someday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will there be an apple product ever made again in the United States?

TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: I want there to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will it say on the back of an apple product designed in California, assembled in the United States?

COOK: It may. Even though it doesn't say that today, you could put down there several parts of from the United States.


O'BRIEN: He said that the U.S. does not have the capability for large scale manufacturing at this point. He hinted also at incredible new products but said the company is doubling down on secrecy for its products.

Moms making a mad dash to libraries this morning as the county lifts the ban on "50 Shades of Gray." A petition from thousands of eager readers and stand against censorship pushed the library to return 19 copies to the steamy, semi-pornographic novels to the shelves after pulling the books earlier this month.

O'BRIEN: My god, has nobody heard of ordering it online?

HOOVER: Or sharing your neighbor's copy.

O'BRIEN: Exactly. Exactly. All right, Christine, thank you.

Mitt Romney is now the unofficial nominee. The governor finally hit the magic number of delegates, 1,144 to lock in the presidential nomination with a win in Texas last night. While the spotlight should have been on the former governor, his supporter Donald Trump was making the news again questioning the president's birth certificate. Listen to the contentious interview he had with Wolf Blitzer.


DONALD TRUMP, CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: A lot of people do not think it was an authentic certificate.


TRUMP: You won't report it, Wolf, but many people do not think it was authentic. His mother was not in the hospital. There are many other things that came out. And frankly if you would report it accurately you would probably get better ratings which you get, which are pretty small.

BLITZER: Donald, have you seen the actual newspaper announcements within days of his birth in Honolulu? For example the Honolulu star bulletin you see the birth announcement back in 1961. Listen to me, Donald. Honolulu -- can I ask the question? Donald, you are beginning to sound a little ridiculous. I have to tell you.

TRUMP: No, I think you are, Wolf. (END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: They kind of kept going at it for a bit. Earlier this morning I spoke to a Romney surrogate John Sununu, who is such a warm and cuddly man first thing in the morning, like a teddy bear. He said "How come someone doesn't say Donald Trump is wrong?" We're going to tell Donald Trump --


JOHN SUNUNU: Donald Trump is wrong. The president was born in the United States.


O'BRIEN: There it is. That may be the first time that we have heard a surrogate say that Donald Trump is wrong. Christine Pelosi is the former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's daughter. She's also a Democratic strategy and the author of "Campaign Boot Camp 2.0." Thanks for talking with us. Do you think this birther issue is really off the Obama campaign talking points and this really helps that campaign.

CHRISTINE PELOSI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good morning, Soledad, from San Francisco. We here in California think that the road to the White House is going to come through the west. We know Romney is here in California today. It's very important as we look at president Obama's double digit lead out here that we focus on the real issues here which are jobs and the economy and the empowerment of working families.

As far as this birtherism is concerned, Donald Trump is only saying loudly what a lot of Republicans have been dog whistling for months. And we think about the super PAC looking into funding a birther movie this summer. It's ridiculous. Frankly, it has to stop. I'm glad the Governor Sununu said that, but I would like to hear that from Governor Romney this afternoon.

CAIN: This is the problem that I hear from Christine is that we have all at this table including myself have mentioned that Donald Trump's involvement problem in this campaign is a problem and Donald Trump is a problem himself. But this is extremely opportunistic. And it makes me feel like when Christine says I want to talk about jobs that that's a hollow statement. When you take that and blow that up into something more, you suggest this narrative about Joe Ricketts looking at a birther movie and Mitt Romney not appropriately disavowing Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a problem. You do not have to do more with that.


PELOSI: The jobs we need to talk about. They bring up Donald Trump saying he knows how to create jobs and he'll be Romney's economic surrogate.

The fact of the matter is Barack Obama has been a job creator since day one. We need jobs in health care and clean energy and housing and that's where Barack Obama's policies are far superior to Mitt Romney's, who by the way when he was governor of Massachusetts scored only 47 out of 50 states in job creation. We need to do better than that. and I think that's why Barack Obama has such a commanding lead here in California, because we see clearly the difference between the two candidates.

HOOVER: I love your spin. It's really good, but to argue that Barack Obama has been a job creator since day one when unemployment remained above eight percent for 39 months, we all know this president isn't actually going to be reelected on his job creating record.


HOOVER: You and I both know that jobs are being created, an enormous number of people have left the workforce. On whole jobs aren't becoming more and President Obama isn't actually running on his job creation record.


O'BRIEN: Forgive me for one second. Got your point, Margaret. Christine, answer that, can you? I don't want you talking over each other because I can't hear.

PELOSI: Barack Obama inherited an economy where we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. There have been two years of private sector job creation. We also have austerity budgets from Republican governors who have fired public employees. That is losing jobs. No doubt we need to do better.

But to say that the change from losing 750,000 jobs a month to creating over 100,000 jobs a month, that's a huge swing. I think anybody would be proud of that turnaround record. But of course you have to do more. Anyone looking for a job or anyone looking to keep their job wants to see politicians working as hard as we are. That's why I would say Barack Obama is a job creator. We know what the employment number was when he came out and we know what it is now, and it is better.

BROWNSTEIN: The overriding question may be whether either side has a convincing answer for accelerating job growth. Mitt Romney's answer is to replicate the George W. Bush tax cuts. On the other hand, I don't think anyone inside the administration would feel the job growth that we're seeing now is what they hoped or expected three years ago. Do you want to hear a more specific agenda from Barack Obama about what he would do in a second term to cause the economy to accelerate at a faster rate than it is doing now?

PELOSI: First he has to pass the American Jobs Act. He proposed that September 7th and the Republicans have stopped him. The only parts that have been passed have been hiring heroes credits for our returning veterans, which is a good start, but we need to do a lot more.

I think that to say that -- what I want to hear from Barack Obama is how he's going to work with Congress in order to try to get this done and what I would like to hear from Congress, particularly Republican leaders is how to bring the American Jobs Act to the floor and make adjustments. That's what we need. The American Jobs Act will provide the jobs that we need.

You know what we could do right now? We could pass a long-term transportation bill to put the iron workers who built the bridge you see behind me back on the job. That's something business and labor have come together on wanting to get past. So there are a couple things we could do right now if we want to create jobs.

O'BRIEN: Christine Pelosi is a Democratic strategist, nice to have you. Thank you for talking with us.

PELOSI: Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, is another Bush throwing his hat in for the White House? Some very interesting words for Jeb Bush this morning. We'll parse those, straight ahead.

Here's Will's playlist, James Brown, "This is a Man's World."


O'BRIEN: "Keep the Car Running", that's off of Ron's playlist.

BROWNSTEIN: Why didn't Mick Jagger sing that with them on "Saturday Night Live"?

That would have been memorable.

O'BRIEN: I don't know yes.

All right, another Bush might be vying for the White House again. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush tells an Italian news agency that he feels a duty to help the former Governor Mitt Romney defeat Barack Obama and said this. "If Romney were to offer me the job of Vice President, I would consider the proposal very carefully but I don't think he'll pick me."

I think he should. That would be -- don't you think that would be an amazing ticket on the GOP side?

BROWNSTEIN: Well look, Bush would be -- first of all let's see if that quote is fully accurate because it's different from all the vibrations he sent out before. But if it was, I think Bush is very --

O'BRIEN: I think the translation from Italian.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes something -- you know Bush and that's very different for example what Marco Rubio has been saying, you know don't call me I'm not going to say yes. Jeb Bush would be a very attractive choice in a lot of ways. Not only helping him in a big state.

O'BRIEN: Let us count the weight?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes big state, Florida.

O'BRIEN: Latinos.

BROWSTEIN: Latino -- fluent in Spanish. I saw him do a half hour press conference in Spanish at a Hispanic event in January in Florida and extraordinary. And someone who has a reputation for being able to work across party lines. You know his biggest problems in some ways is his name and the hangover from George W. Bush. He -- in every other way would be a very strong candidate.

CAIN: What's surprising to me about that is Jeb Bush has got to be one of the top names for 2016 run should Mitt Romney lose. If you put yourself on the vice presidential ticket now and Mitt Romney wins, where are you for 2016?


O'BRIEN: Right.

CAIN: He's got to be at the top of the list Republican candidate going forward.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, if Romney wins, there's no list for 2016 --


CAIN: Right, right.

HOOVER: And we didn't even mention his transformative educational reform efforts in Florida. In addition he's considered a fiscal conservative. The Tea Party really likes him. He's really beloved by the Republicans.


O'BRIEN: A lot of boxes that are checked by that choice.

HOOVER: The other thing -- but -- but he does not fit the mold entirely. On immigration he has said that the Republicans are not having honest conversations about immigration reform and that would be --


O'BRIEN: But he has a lot of credibility in that area. He could move those conversations.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, I covered them both in 1994 when they both ran and the thought of those around the Bush family was that Jeb was the more likely presidential candidate in the long run.


BROWNSTEIN: He got behind his brother in line.

O'BRIEN: How happy are we we're not talking about birthers right now? It's really good.


CAIN: Really happy. Really happy.

O'BRIEN: Moving on after this commercial break, as little brother say reports of a jury alternate flirting with John Edwards in court.

Plus, jurors coordinating clothes. We're going to be live at the courthouse minutes before the deliberations begin for the eighth day.

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


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

Jurors in the John Edwards corruption trial are just moments away from beginning their eighth day of deliberations and things getting kind of weird in the courthouse I think is fair to say. It looks as if some of the jurors -- or really it's the alternate jurors have been coordinating what they wear to court. So I guess it looks like color scheme for Tuesday was gray and black. Last Thursday was yellow. Red was Friday. Weird.

There also is a question of whether or not there is some flirting going on between an alternate juror and John Edwards. The judge has been warning the jury not to discuss the case outside of the deliberation room.

All of this brings us right to Joe Johns. He's outside the courthouse in Greensboro, North Carolina. Hey Joe good morning.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Soledad. How are you?

O'BRIEN: All right, I'm great.

But it sounds like where you are a lot is happening. Let's talk first about the case and then talk to me about the drama around the case.

JOHNS: Yes. All right. Eighth day like you said. That's the first thing. It's a long time but not a particularly long time. The question of course is whether this jury is stuck on one issue or another. It could be certainly. Secret deliberations.

What I can tell you about is the body language of the jurors as they file in and file out. We only get to see them 10 or 20 minutes a day but I mean, we've seen big sighs from one juror. She walks in and sits down in her seat. We've seen people with their heads down staring at the ground, heads in hands, we've seen arms crossed. You know all of that body language suggests there might be something going on.

And the thing you have to remember about this case is the root of it is -- it's about politics. And politics can be very polarizing especially in a state like North Carolina. So, I wouldn't be surprised if it continues for a while.

O'BRIEN: Update me on drama around the case. We were talking about the color coordination and the flirting.

JOHNS: Yes. Well, first of all, on the flirting what I can tell you is, you know; you have been involved and covered trials. A defendant has an incentive to make eye contact with jurors and even alternate jurors.

This guy, John Edwards, could potentially get 30 years. So sure, he's going to try to look in the eyes of the people who are judging the facts. That said, yes, there has been this one juror who simply has been, you know, the kind of person who likes to look in the eyes of people out in the audience. She's done that a couple times.

Edwards has looked back at her a couple times and he smiles. That's been construed by some as flirting. You know, take away from it what you will.

O'BRIEN: All right. And you know everyone will. All right. Joe Johns, thanks. Appreciate the update.

We've got "End Point" with the panel up next. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: I feel like we're doing lightning round. We have 45 seconds. 15 seconds to you Mr. Brownstein for "End Point".

BROWNSTEIN: It's good to know that Johnson still keeps his bed against the wall so he can be assured of always waking up on the wrong sound.

O'BRIEN: He was a little grumpy this morning.

BROWNSTEIN: 20 years after Washington still nothing has changed. As mellow as ever as when we covered him back in the Bush White House.

HOOVER: As we think about jurors looking at John Edwards or John Edwards making contact and seeing into the soul of a juror. For the guy who took four minutes on a YouTube video fixing his hair, it doesn't seem that far-fetched.

CAIN: There comes a point where you become so despicable you become likable. Like Alice (inaudible) and Deadwood. And I would suggest John Edwards flirting with the jury is just about there. I almost like you now, you're so terrible.

O'BRIEN: I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

HOOVER: Your wife is dying from cancer and -- (CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: I don't know.

And we're out of time. Let's get right to CNN NEWSROOM with Carol Costello. I'll see everybody else back here tomorrow morning, first thing at 7:00 a.m.

Hey Carol, good morning.