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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Stocks Falter After Poor May Jobs Report; Interview with Senator Tom Carper; George Zimmerman's Bond Revoked; WSJ: Facebook Considering U-13 Children's Accounts; Interview With Rep. Ted Deutch
Aired June 4, 2012 - 06:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: And welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, the markets around the world are in full retreat. Europe's debt crisis, China's slowing economy, America's sluggish job market, all triggering (INAUDIBLE) this morning and fears of a fresh recession.
New developments to tell you about in the Trayvon Martin case. The shooter, George Zimmerman, is now back in custody. We'll tell you why a judge decided to revoke his bail.
And the magic is back. Tiger woods capturing Jack Nicklaus' Memorial tournament. It's a shot that the Golden Bear himself called the most unbelievable, gutsy shot he has ever seen. We'll let you see it for yourself.
It's Monday, June 4th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.
O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning is a word of warning. Prepare for a volatile week in the markets as Asian stocks are tumbling overnight after that disappointing jobs report that we showed you on Friday showing unemployment up to 8.2 percent, just 69,000 jobs were created in the month of May.
Adding to the problem, the debt crisis in Europe as well as a slowdown in the Chinese economy. So, the European markets have recovered pretty much across the board on hopes that the central banks are going to step in to boost the EU economies. U.S. stock futures, though, pointing to a mixed open right now.
Dow futures down but have recovered a little bit from earlier. S&P 500, the NASDAQ poised to open pretty flat, up slightly as of right now.
Let's get right to CNN's Alison Kosik. She joins us from the New York Stock Exchange, mounting pressure on the fed to take some action to boost the U.S. recovery. What do you expect to hear on that end, Alison? Good morning.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad. That's part of the reason why you see stock futures recover a little bit. There are high hopes that the Fed chief, Ben Bernanke, who happens to be testifying before a Senate committee on Thursday. The hope is that he's going to say something to support the market.
I was just talking with a few traders before I walked into the New York Stock Exchange here, and they said they'll also be listening for any possible stimulus that the Fed could hint to. It's something that the market points to a lot, when you see the markets tumble as they are doing, you know, the Fed has done this before where it's bought up government bonds in great numbers, basically pouring a lot of money into the market and giving that kind of shot in the arm to the market. There are definitely two sides of the fence as to whether it's really helped the economy. At least it's done so in the short term.
So once again, you are seeing stock futures turn around on hopes that the fed chief will say something positive or supportive on Thursday. But no doubt about it, you're still going to see the same worries hang over the market today. You're going to see these same worries hang over throughout the week, worries about Spain, worries about Greece, worries about China, and then our own problems here in the U.S., that so-called fiscal cliff when those tax rates are going to be going up and spending cuts will go into effect. There is a lot of talk about whether or not Congress could or would step in to keep that from happening before the end of the year. Soledad?
O'BRIEN: Alison, thanks, appreciate that.
Let's get right to Zoraida Sambolin. She's got a look at the day's top stories. Hey, Z, good morning.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Soledad.
The pilot of a Nigerian plane that crashed into a residential neighborhood in Lagos killing all 153 people on board was an American. His identity has not been released yet. At least 10 people on the ground were also killed. Nigeria's president ordering a full investigation and declaring three days of mourning. The wreckage burned more than three hours after the crash. Fire trucks just could not carry enough water to that site.
Investigators still don't know what caused an air tanker to crash while fighting a wildfire along the Nevada-Utah border. Two pilots were killed there. They were dropping fire retardant on the flames had their tanker went down yesterday afternoon. The tanker was on its second run of the day and was loaded with about 1,600 gallons of fuel and 2,000 gallons of water and fire retardant. The 5,000-acre White Rock fire began burning Friday night after a lightning strike in eastern Nevada.
And voters in Wisconsin are gearing up for a critical recall election that could force the Republican governor out of office after just 18 months. Scott Walker, a Tea Party favorite, who cracked down on public unions faces a high-stakes challenge tomorrow from Milwaukee's democratic mayor, Tom Barrett.
And to hear Richard Dawson tell it, he kissed 20,000 women on the lips during the nearly 20 years he hosted "Family Feud." Dawson died yesterday at 79 after a battle with cancer. Dawson was also an actor appearing in films and most notably the TV series "Hogan's Heroes." But it was "The Feud" that made him a household name with the catchphrase "Survey Says!"
The party is just getting started over in the U.K. England celebrating Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee, 60 years on the throne. Tens of thousands of people flocked to watch the royal family lead a flotilla of 1,000 boats down the Thames River Sunday. Festivities continue today with a party and a concert that is planned at Buckingham Palace. Hopefully the rain will stop. And you can follow all of the fun here on CNN. Piers Morgan and Brooke Baldwin will be covering the events live at 5:30 this afternoon.
And vintage Tiger -- did you see this? Tiger Woods tying Jack Nicklaus for second place on the all-time wins list by winning Jack's tournament in Ohio yesterday. Woods capturing his 73rd PGA tour victory and his fifth memorial title with a shot for the ages, holing out of a 50-foot flop shot from the deep rough on the 16th hole -- amazing. All right, Tiger still trails the golden bear for all-time wins in major tournaments. He'll try to close that gap when the U.S. Open gets under way in 11 days at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Soledad, back to you.
O'BRIEN: Wow, wow, what a comeback. What a great shot.
SAMBOLIN: I could do that.
O'BRIEN: No, sunshine, you cannot do that.
SAMBOLIN: No, I can't.
O'BRIEN: And we move on.
Let's talk about jobs -- 8.2 percent unemployment number, 69,000 jobs. As you heard from Alison Kosik, just told us, those are figures that the markets hate and that are not also good for the Obama campaign. Democratic senator Tom Carper of Delaware joins us, also a member of the finance committee. Nice to have you, sir.
SEN. TOM CARPER, (D) DELAWARE: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: In a nutshell, what's the president going to try to do to fix that jobs number -- 68,000 jobs, it's very weak?
CARPER: Four things. One is not walk ourselves into recession. Our hair is not on fire. Fundamentals for the economy are actually quite good, and we need to keep that in mind.
We're doing a whole series of things to help stimulate the economy. There are three, four, or five of them pending now - a comprehensive transportation Bill, 2 to 3 million jobs, postal reform, 7 million or 8 million jobs flow from that, FDA reform legislation. It's a variety of things. I call it hitting singles, and we need to continue to hit a bunch of singles, create a more nurturing environment for job creation. Set the stage for hitting a homerun. And hit a homerun is what we need to do after the election.
O'BRIEN: Some may argue before the election.
CARPER: Actually what's going on in Europe is hurting us, but also what's hurting us now is the concern that we're not going to do anything after the election. And I think we need to take a whole series of steps. Bowles-Simpson commission, mostly on the spending side, some on the revenue side, that's, I think, the best plan that I've seen. That's the best jobs plan out there.
O'BRIEN: Many people say the referendum on the economy, that's what's going to feed into the election. Whether the people care about the economy, if the economy turns around, conventional wisdom will go, I know conventional wisdom is wrong a lot, Obama can win, Romney can come in if the economy continues to go downward. Right now that trend if you throw up one of the big map of how unemployment or job creation numbers look, it looks bad.
CARPER: Actually, the underlying numbers are pretty encouraging. Corporate profits are strong. Housing numbers are actually coming back. We have seen energy costs continue to drop. That actually drives consumer confidence. There are a number of things going well.
O'BRIEN: People look at jobs.
CARPER: Well, they do, but one of the reasons why the unemployment rate went up because people are starting to look for jobs again. And for the longest period of time, they have stopped looking. We have seen almost 30 straight months of private sector job growth of 30 straight months of manufacturing job growth.
We, again, it's important for us not to talk ourselves into a recession. Is there much we can do about what's going on in Europe? Probably not a lot. What we need to focus on are things that we need to do. And they are, don't talk ourselves into recession. Number two, continue to hit a bunch of singles, small things to help move the economy. We're doing that. We need to do more. Number three, get ready to do something really big after the election, $4 trillion to $5 trillion in reduction. Bowles-Simpson is an excellent road map to do that. Some people question whether or not we'll have the will to do that. I think we will, Democrats and Republicans. There's 50 of us in the Senate who support that particular approach. And we just need to do it.
O'BRIEN: There's a new CNN/ORC poll that says when they ask people about who has a better understanding of how the economy works, President Obama and Mitt Romney are neck and neck. I think they're both at 45 percent with a margin of error of three percent, plus or minus. How do you -- what do you read into that poll?
CARPER: Well, let's just back up. Harry Truman used to say the only thing that's new in the world is the history forgotten or never learned. Go back to the week after Barack Obama and Joe Biden became president and vice president, 638,000 people filed for unemployment insurance. Last week something like 380,000 people filed for unemployment insurance. Compared to where we were, we're doing pretty good.
O'BRIEN: But the complaint is not doing enough, not doing it fast enough, that everybody expected the job growth would be much faster and stronger, especially with all the stimulus money put in.
CARPER: Again, the underlying economics are actually quite good. We can't do a whole lot about Europe. Number two, we can't -- let's focus on the things that we can do something about, hitting singles, putting in place a whole bunch of things that strengthen the economic recovery. I've mentioned those already. Number three, why wait until December to continue to do deficit reduction? We've got a to-do list for GAO every year. Let's continue to work right down that list -- fraud, improper payments, you name it.
O'BRIEN: When I look at how Congress is working, it sounds like it works really smoothly and everyone's coming together and almost kind of Kumbaya. It does not feel that way from my vantage point.
CARPER: In the Senate, we've done a number of major things this year. We just reauthorized the export/import back. About a half million jobs flow from that. We passed major transportation legislation. We're in conference with the House right now.
O'BRIEN: Is it the House?
CARPER: We're waiting for the house to move a postal Bill that's 7 million or 8 million jobs. There's a lot we can do. And under the radar, there's quite a bit we've already done.
O'BRIEN: You keep pointing to sort of November and December, which is after the election.
CARPER: That's when we hit the home run. Between now and then, we need to hit a lot of singles.
O'BRIEN: You may not get a chance to aim for the home run if that 69,000 number -- if the chart keeps going downward, right? Isn't that a fair argument to make? That you might -- Democrats, I mean. In the Obama administration is not able to turn around the job numbers, it may be Governor Romney who may hit a homerun.
CARPER: Nobody's going to accuse us of peaking too soon, but there's a lot of time between now and November. The important thing is for us to do the things that make sense.
O'BRIEN: Do you think if you're able to turn around, if the next jobs report is an increase, it's not 69,000, that you could -- you stand a much better chance for reelection for the Obama campaign, and if it continues to go in a downward slide, that he's not going to get reelected?
CARPER: I think there's a good reason to expect that the numbers are going to get better. New factory orders are up dramatically for the month of June. As I said earlier, corporate profits are quite good. At some point in time -- and the other thing is housing. Unbeknownst by a lot of people, housing's begun to turn around. People are starting to spend their money again, and part of it is the price at the pump keeps coming down. People feel they have more disposable income. We saw more people signing up to come to the beaches in Delaware. Rental properties as properties are up. More people came to our NASCAR race in Dover than have been there in several years. Underneath the surface, things are not that bad. We need to just --
O'BRIEN: But isn't it a matter of how you feel? Really. Sometimes I think if you ask people, I brought in a bunch of random people off the street here in New York, and I said, how does it feel? They wouldn't say, honestly, it feels pretty good. They would say, I'm guessing, but I feel very confident in this answer, actually, it feels bad. I'm worried about my future, the future, I can't afford college for my kids. I'm afraid.
CARPER: We can do stuff other than talking to people on the streets who do the consumer confidence surveys. A couple of them are actually very encouraging as well.
So we can go around like hair on fire, focus on the negatives, or we can focus on the positives. I'm sure our friends in the Republican Party will do their best to focus on the negatives. For us and people in my job, what we have to do is continue to hit those singles, do a lot of things to strengthen the underlying economics, take advantage of the underlying low energy prices, lower health prices, all that stuff, housing industry coming back. Hit a bunch of singles, keep focusing on the spending side and finally, get ready to hit the home run after the election with Bowles-Simpson.
O'BRIEN: Nice to have you with us, Senator Tom Carper joining us this morning.
Still ahead this morning, George Zimmerman back in jail. A judge says he and his wife lied about how much money they have, and the tapes show that they seem to be hiding something. Reaction from Trayvon Martin's family's attorney.
And Facebook may lift the ban on kids under the age of 13. We start with my playlist, Beyonce, "Videophone." You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed 17-year- old Trayvon Martin, is waking up inside a jail cell this morning after he surrendered to police on Sunday a few days after a Florida judge revoked his bond. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: He is in custody now. He's going to remain there until we get back before Judge Lester if and when he grants us a bond hearing. It's unlikely he might consider it, but that's going to be based upon the motion itself and whether or not Judge Lester wants to revisit his bond status.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Mark O'Mara is George Zimmerman's attorney. At the initial hearing, you may remember, back in April, Zimmerman and his wife told the court that they had limited funds to pay for bond. But a Web site set up to take defense donations had actually collected more than $130,000. Now, prosecutors say the Zimmermans were well aware of the money at the time and they may have even secretly tried to shift between the accounts before the hearing.
Joining us this morning, Benjamin Crump, he's an attorney for the Trayvon Martin family. Nice to see you, sir. How's the family doing today, and what's the reaction to this latest news?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY: Well, they are relieved that the killer of their unarmed teenage son is back in jail. They have always wanted him to stay in custody until the trial, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: So it looks like defense will probably ask for another bond hearing, try to get him out again on bond. What's your plan for that and the prosecution's plan for that? Will they ask for no bond or a high bond?
CRUMP: Well, if Attorney O'Mara files the motion, then the stage is set for George Zimmerman and his wife to have to take the witness stand and attempt to explain what the state attorney said was blatant lies to the court, thus exposing him further to credibility issues. Or George Zimmerman can stay in jail until the trial and not risk damaging his credibility any farther.
O'BRIEN: A lot of this stems --
CRUMP: The real question is this. The real question is this, Soledad. If you lie to the court, are there consequences?
O'BRIEN: Well, let's go review for everybody exactly how this new evidence came about. On April 12th, I guess they record conversations that you have in jail. They were recording a conversation between Zimmerman and his wife, Shelly. I'll read off the transcript. George Zimmerman says, "In my account, do I have at least 100? Shelly says no. How close am I? Shelly says, Eight. George says, Really? So total everything how much are we looking at? Shelly says, Like $155." That's a transcript of a call. I believe it's April 16th. Four days later, though, at the hearing, Shelly, who was just involved in that prior conversation, I just read the transcript, said this. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also in terms of the ability of your husband to make the bond amount that you all have no money, is that correct?
SHELLY ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S WIFE: To my knowledge, that's correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you aware of the website that Mr. Zimmerman or somebody on his behalf created?
SHELLY ZIMMERMAN: I'm aware of that website.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how much money is in that website right now? How much money as a result of that website?
SHELLY ZIMMERMAN: Currently I do not know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: So she says she doesn't know how much money is on the website. She also has just talked about $155 and $100. They're talking thousands of dollars, right? So $155 is $155,000? Is that right?
CRUMP: That's certainly what the state attorney believed when they reviewed the police recordings. And the record is there. It's very clear what the records say. So the judge reviewed it and, based on the law, revoked George Zimmerman's bond.
O'BRIEN: Second point, I guess, is another recording that focuses on a passport George Zimmerman had a passport and then lost it and apparently reapplied, turned over one passport eventually to the court, I guess now has turned over the second one. Here's a little bit of the transcript of the conversation he and his wife were having, though, about the passport before he turned it over to the court. George Zimmerman says, "Do you know what? I think my passport is in that bag. Shelly Zimmerman says, I have one for you in the safety deposit box. George says, OK, you hold on to that. Shelly says, For you." That's a call from April 17th, a couple of days before the hearing. Why is that passport conversation relevant?
CRUMP: It's very relevant because a passport indicates that you are able to leave the country. And there's always a question about flight risk when you're dealing with bonds. There's credibility and flight risk. And the reason Judge Lester's ruling was so important is because he focuses everybody's attention to George Zimmerman's credibility. And remember, his credibility is the main thing here, because it is only his version of the facts that say Trayvon Martin attacked him. All the objective evidence suggests that he pursued and shot Trayvon Martin in the heart. And that is going to be a crucial, crucial issue -- credibility, credibility, credibility.
O'BRIEN: There are legal experts who would say he's 28 years old. He's afraid. He's trying to figure out how to stay out of jail, that it's less of a credibility issue rather than a fear issue for a relatively young man.
CRUMP: Well, certainly the judge is balancing everything. But a lie is a lie. And that's what the court has to determine. And if Trayvon Martin would have lied to the court, we believe he would not be given a bond. He would have to sit in jail until his trial. And all his parents have asked for -- his family have only asked for, Soledad, is equal justice. Whatever that you would give consideration for Trayvon Martin, you've got to give it to George Zimmerman. And Trayvon would have stayed in jail, we believe, had he lied to the court.
O'BRIEN: Benjamin Crump is an attorney for Trayvon Martin's family. Thanks for talking with us. Certainly appreciate it.
CRUMP: Yes, ma'am.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a zombie prank, so crazy, goes dangerously wrong when the prankster picks on the wrong people to scare. We'll share that with you in our "Get Real." Will Cain, Roland Martin's on his way.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He's coming.
O'BRIEN: And Margaret Hoover. Welcome. Good morning, good morning. So guess who's here today? First, my favorite singer ever. Margaret Hoover's playlist has U2, "Beautiful Day." You're watching STARTING POINT.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is a beautiful day.
O'BRIEN: It really is.
O'BRIEN: All I do is win, win, win. Roland's awake.
O'BRIEN: It's 7:26. Most of us are like -- Will Cain's just nodding his head, columnist for TheBlaze.com joining us. Notice how I segue right into the introductions. Margaret Hoover worked in the Bush White House. Also author of "American Individualism." And Roland Martin is here.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Tiger woods winning yesterday. All he does is win.
O'BRIEN: Well, now.
MARTIN: That's what got the red ascot on. A thrilling win, though, too.
O'BRIEN: It was an awesome win. We're not talking golf right now. This is crazy. After all those cases including that horrible one in Miami where people are talking about zombie attacks. The CDC actually said that there was no zombie -- no joke -- there is no officially there is no zombie apocalypse. There are no zombie attacks.
MARTIN: Was there a meeting or something?
CAIN: Glad to hear from you, CDC.
O'BRIEN: Believe it or not, that's not my "Get Real." So a guy in Miami, a prankster, decides to dress up as a zombie covered in blood. And he starts running around chasing people. Look what he does to this guy. You can see the front of his shirt. He's covered in blood. He chases this poor guy here, and numerous people. They're rolling on it. It's a prank. He chases people, scaring the absolute heck of them. They're terrified. They run off.
O'BRIEN: It's funny, but the YouTube video goes on for a while, right? Then he picks the wrong person.
MARTIN: Right, right.
O'BRIEN: So here are people climbing. Let's drop the banner so everyone can see. He starts growling. He goes in. He has a gun. He starts chasing him. Yes.
CAIN: Oh, no.
HOOVER: Technically, does a gun kill a zombie?
O'BRIEN: I think that man's not' real zombie, Margaret. I think he's just a guy who thought he was being funny running around Miami trying to scare people.
MARTIN: He went to the wrong neighborhood at the wrong moment. Some brothers are playing basketball. You mess up the basketball game. And he walks up to him, like, seriously? You just messed the basketball game up.
HOOVER: Zombies can run fast.
O'BRIEN: Running for his life. So I guess my "Get Real" is to Mr. Zombie man. Somebody is going to shoot you. That guy was gaining on him.
MARTIN: They had gone to stand your ground.
O'BRIEN: Everybody ran. It was actually quite funny. There was a warning on there, which is, like, do not attempt this prank. You are going to get killed.
CAIN: The tables got turned fast.
O'BRIEN: Yes, they did.
MARTIN: That is not winning.
O'BRIEN: That is not winning, that's correct.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, is Florida stripping some voters of their right to vote this November? We'll tell you why some critics say a new tactic is aimed at deterring minorities and the poor from casting ballots.
And did you see this video? Stroller -- look at this -- breaks free. That's a stroller with a baby inside. The mother is, like, 50 yards behind.
MARTIN: Uh, hello.
O'BRIEN: This is a garbage truck driver, hops out, saves the day. We'll show you the rest of the video. It's amazing. You're watching STARTING POINT.
O'BRIEN: Let's get right to the headlines. Zoraida's got that. Good morning, Z.
SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. It is being called the biggest fire in New Mexico history.
SAMBOLIN (voice-over): The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire wiping out more than 240,000 acres in the Gila wilderness. That's an area more than 1.5 miles bigger than Chicago. At least 15 families living in the nearby mining town of Mogoyon (ph) were forced to leave their homes. Two separate lightning strikes started two wildfires that merged, creating that giant fire.
Defense secretary, Leon Panetta, is in Vietnam this morning. It is the latest stop on his Asia-Pacific tour touting America's new military strategy for that region. Panetta visited a naval base that was a key U.S. installation during the Vietnam War. He's the first defense secretary to go there since the war ended.
And minding your business now, fresh from its Wall Street debut, Facebook is expected to offer up millions of new shares. In just a few months, early investors and select insiders will be free to sell off stocks. Some experts fear a new flood of new shares could water down the stock price. Facebook stock is already down 26 percent from its initial public offering price of $38.
Meantime, Facebook is also considering offering accounts to children under the age of 13. That is according to a report in "The Wall Street Journal" this morning. "The Journal" reports that the social network would connect children's accounts to their parents' account that would be able to control the privacy settings.
SAMBOLIN (on-camera): I like that joint effort there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
One man's garbage truck driver is another man's hero. A Seattle sanitation worker spotted a runaway stroller with a baby on board headed toward a four-way intersection. The quick-thinking driver started honking his horn. He blocked the intersection and jumped out to save the baby. It turns out the mother was jogging with the baby stroller when it just got away from her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Wow! All right. Lucky mom. Let's get a quick check of your travel forecast. Meteorologist, Rob Marciano, joins us. Good morning to you.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. She ran of in a hurry there. Hopefully, she said thank you.
SAMBOLIN: I'm sure she did.
MARCIANO: Cool stuff -- yes, cool stuff across the northeast if you're doing some jogging, maybe leave the baby stroller at home because it's going to be slick and rainy at times, especially in the bigger cities. Some travel problems there through the airports. We'll probably see some delays.
Down south, some rough storms moved through Memphis, now through Tupelo, getting into Birmingham right now. And a severe thunderstorm watch about to expire across east in Oklahoma, but those storms are still pretty rough. We'll look for more to develop along this front later on today.
Also, a very strong system out west that will create wind and some rain, but the winds for the firefighting situation out there is not going to be good. And the heat down across the southwest will continue to be in the 90s and low 100s. Ninety in Memphis, not bad in Chicago, but we'll keep it 50s and 60s with some on and off rain showers across the northeast. Zoraida, back up to you.
SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Rob.
And the new 2012 Miss USA is --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Miss USA 2012, Rhode Island!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Rhode island. Twenty-year-old Olivia Culpo, Miss Rhode Island, will now go on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant later this year. I hear she's quite a scholar, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Good for her. That's what it's all about, the scholarship money.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
SAMBOLIN: It is.
O'BRIEN: It is. Well, for me.
O'BRIEN: Not for you. But for me.
MARTIN: Right, that's it.
O'BRIEN: It's all about seeing talented young women have success and get ready for college. I like that.
MARTIN: That's what the bathing suit segment's all about, the scholarships.
MARTIN: That's what it's all about.
O'BRIEN: All right. Can we move on?
O'BRIEN: There's a Wednesday deadline that's looming in the Sunshine State, the state of Florida, that's the date by which Florida officials need to respond to a justice department letter about the state's controversial voter purge. The federal officials wrote that it appears the state might be in violation of federal voter protection laws.
The purge was put in place after Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, asked the state to identify non-U.S. citizens who had registered to vote illegally. Officials, so far, have identified about 2,600 voters as suspicious using information from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Still unclear, though, how many of those identified are, in fact, unable to vote, are not allowed to vote. Joining me now, one of the key opponents of the purge is Democratic congressman, Ted Deutch, of the state of Florida. Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for talking with us. Certainly appreciate it. So, let's go back --
REP. TED DEUTCH, (D) FLORIDA: Great to be with you.
O'BRIEN: Appreciate that. The D.O.J. and the homeland security back in October of 2011 -- of 2011, forgive me, could have answered the question and actually given forth information to the state of Florida in their request to figure out who is on the rolls that's not eligible to be on the rolls. Ultimately, that is a perfectly valid question. Who's on the rolls that should not be on the rolls to vote, correct?
DEUTCH: Sure, absolutely. It's a valid question, and it's an issue that supervisors of elections throughout Florida take very seriously. And they take it seriously all year long.
The question, Soledad, is why did Governor Scott come up with a list of 180,000 names that tend to skew more Hispanic, more Democratic, and put that list out less than three months before a primary election, less than six months before general election when we've seen already that there's an enormous number of eligible voters who will be kicked off the rolls as a result.
That's the problem. That's why the Justice Department stepped in.
O'BRIEN: But he made that request originally to try to figure out that 180,000, how many of them actually were correlated to people who should not be on the rolls back in October of 2011, so well in advance of the three months. It looks like the homeland security just did not answer his request, isn't that what happened?
DEUTCH: I think that it's important for the governor to sit down with the supervisors of elections, have his administration do so, and figure out the best way to go through the list to make sure that there's not voter fraud. What we're at risk of doing here, what we're at risk of seeing, Soledad, is election fraud.
You have to take a step back for a minute and look at the fact that in the 2008 election, there were 16 cases of voter fraud out of eight million votes cast. We now have a list of 180,000 names.
O'BRIEN: Well, it's been whittled down to 2,600. I agree with you, that's still a ton. That 180,000 now looks like it's 2,600 people who they've identified as suspicious, which is still a huge number of people who might be having their voting rights impinged upon.
If you look at what they're doing in Miami-Dade, when they went through and looked at 505 people who were contacted, it turned out that 492 of them who they were able to reach were citizens, 13 were not citizens, and they were purged which gives you something like 98 percent were wrongly on that list. Is that what your big concern is?
DEUTCH: My concern -- first of all, Soledad, just to correct you, the 2,600 names that everyone's talking about is really just the first step. The governor hasn't retreated from his list of 180,000 names. And when you look at the results, thus far, in the first 2,600, we're at risk because of this brazen political ploy.
We're at risk of disenfranchising tens of thousands of Florida voters. And in a state which has a history not of voter fraud but of not making votes count with very close elections, that's a horrible decision which really is meant to suppress voter turnout and to suppress the vote. That's why we have to be so vigilant in making sure it doesn't go forward.
MARTIN: And I think what was also interesting here, the governor was warned before this took place that, look, take the precautions before you go down this route. Also remember in 2000, Governor Jeb Bush, they also purged the voting rolls then, and number of people who are eligible voters --
O'BRIEN: A 1,000 people were wrongly purged.
MARTIN: Well, and how many votes was it decided by?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: 537. Here's an issue. I mean, this is an issue that's been going a long time. A writer for "The Miami Herald," Carol Heisen (ph) has been writing about dead people on voter rolls for over a decade. I mean, this is something clearly -- the rest of American look back and say, what is wrong with Florida? Can they get their voter rolls together? Because it just seems like they're unable to --
O'BRIEN: Let's put that question to the congressman. What's wrong with the state of Florida or do you think that the state of Florida is not an aberration?
DEUTCH: No, no, I think it's a good question. The question is what's wrong with the Scott administration? Why is it that they're creating this image of voter fraud run wild when, in fact, it's the Scott administration's position that will disenfranchise tens of thousands of legitimate voters.
You know, there's a World War II vet that I met with last week who received a letter from the state of Florida saying we have evidence to believe that you are not a United States citizen, a Bronze Star Battle of the Bulge veteran. That's what's wrong with this purge. The issue of voter fraud is one that we have to take seriously.
But what Governor Scott has engaged in and what's happening around the country, frankly, is an election fraud meant to suppress the vote. That's why we have to be vigilant and that's why we can't let this go forward and why I'm battling it.
O'BRIEN: Congressman Ted Deutch joining us this morning, a Democrat out of the state of Florida, thanks for being with us. Appreciate that.
DEUTCH: My pleasure. Thanks so much.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead, we're going to take a break. Mariela Castro (ph) is the daughter of the Cuban president. She's going to sit down with Christiane Amanpour. Christian will join us up next. Take a look at their interview and tell us why Mariela thinks Obama should have another term.
And also, you know how much I love Ledisi.
O'BRIEN: No, a lot.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Number one super fan --
O'BRIEN: And there she is!
MARTIN: All of y'all dress alike. O'BRIEN: I wore yellow. She's my soul sister. I love her. This is "Pieces of Me." Let's just listen, shall we? Let's. Everyone just enjoy.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. CNN's Christiane Amanpour scored a rare exclusive interview with the Cuban leader Raul Castro's daughter, whose name is Mariela. Castro was granted a visa to the United States to deliver a speech on gay rights and participated in an academic conference last week. That visit sparked outrige - outrage, rather -- by those who oppose her father's regime.
Part one of Christiane's interview will air today at 3:00 p.m. on CNNi. Christiane is also ABC News' global affairs anchor. Nice to have you with us.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Nice to see you.
O'BRIEN: Where does Mariela fit into the entire Castro regime? I think a lot of people are looking there to see if there's a transition, a change, coming out of there.
AMANPOUR: Well, I think -- exactly right. And you can imagine doing civil rights in the form of gay and lesbian rights is an obvious transition. I asked her particularly about opening up the political space there. And she said, look. We've been demanding that. Her own father, Raul, has made a big change in terms of economic and property rights.
And she says yes, we do want to have not just one party, for instance. But of course, they put everything on the embargo. And underneath this embargo, which they call, imperialism and as you know, it hasn't worked, they feel on the defensive. So, we had a very interesting conversation about all those issues of human rights, civil rights, political rights. It was a very interesting interview.
O'BRIEN: You also talked to her about the Obamas.
AMANPOUR: I certainly did. And of course, she's very admiring of President Obama because he said that he supports same-sex marriage and on many other issues. Listen to what she told me about him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Did you expect more from President Obama, or has he gone as far as you expected him to go on the Cuban issue? Do you think that he wants to lift the embargo and that there could be proper relations between Cuba and the United States under a second Obama term?
MARIELA CASTRO, DAUGHTER OF CUBAN PRESIDENT RAUL CASTRO (via translator): I believe that Obama is a fair man. And Obama needs greater support to be able to take this decision. If Obama counted on the full support of the American people, then we could normalize our relationships. We could have better relations than what we had under President Carter.
AMANPOUR: Do you want Obama to win the next election?
CASTRO (via translator): As a citizen of the world, I would like him to win. Seeing the candidates, I prefer Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: So interesting. Do you think it has any impact at all?
AMANPOUR: I do, actually, because things are moving in Cuba. Look, we've seen that the 50 years of the embargo simply has failed. If the objective was to get rid of the Castros, it's failed. So there has to be another dynamic.
And we can all see that things are opening up. I asked her quite a lot about dissidents, again, more about political opening up. And we had a very good conversation. So, hopefully everybody will watch on CNNi!
O'BRIEN: I was going to say, 3:00 p.m., CNNi today. Thanks, Christiane. Always nice to have you. Appreciate it.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Ledesi is in the house! She's my absolute favorite. I have all her albums and I love her dearly and have gone cross country to see her perform.
O'BRIEN: And she's with us this morning. Oh, my gosh! Ah!
LEDICI, MUSICIAN: Hey!
O'BRIEN: We're going to talk to her. She's got a new book out as well. Don't go hugging him. Come hug me!
O'BRIEN: Oh, joy, oh, joy. Ledesi is in the house. Multi-Grammy nominated singer LEDESI is not just loved by her fans -- mainly me - but also, her music is amazing. And she is incredibly honest and incredible inspiration. In her music video, "Bravo," she applauds people who rejects negative stereotypes and celebrate positive self- images. Listen. Here is "Bravo." My theme song today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: We could just listen to this all morning, couldn't we! But now she's taking this message, and she's got a new book out. It's called "Better Than All Right: Finding Peace, Love and Power." It's a really interesting book because it's not like a memoir. It's more like your scrapbook.
I'm so happy to have you!
LEDESI: Thank you for having me.
O'BRIEN: Love you.
O'BRIEN: I'm sorry. I didn't know. Really? I'm just going to sit here and hold the book. No, seriously. I seriously love Ledesi. Your songs are so great. And they're also - I mean, When I followed you around the country, going on your tour -
O'BRIEN: But a lot of your conversation, you're saying -- your voice is amazing, obviously, but it's like uplifting and positive. It's such a great experience. But this is a scrapbook and feels more like a scrapbook about your life story than a book/book. Why did you do it this way?
LEDESI: Well, "Essence" collaborating with them, they wanted to celebrate - "Essence" magazine celebrates women of color. So they asked me to just tell my story and tell about my journey. And they found out I take photos and they wanted those in there. My poetry. My words. Other people's words. Things that inspired me.
O'BRIEN: You write that you were going to quit. I didn't know that.
O'BRIEN: Tell me about that.
LEDESI: Yes, I wanted to quit the industry because they kept saying you're not good enough, you're not pretty enough, you're not a star.
O'BRIEN: What do you do when someone says you don't look like our typical with the dreads that are red.
LEDESI: Yes. What I did was tell me -- there is a statement that I say. Tell me I can't so I can show you that I can. And every day I have to tell myself I'm beautiful because the world says something different. So I love the challenge. I'm always up for the challenge to be Ledesi no matter what.
O'BRIEN: You've been nominated seven times for a Grammy.
LEDESI: Yes, seven times.
O'BRIEN: You perform at the White House. She performs for Chaka Khan singing Chaka Khan's own song to Chaka Khan, which has to be a terrifying experience!
LEDESI: She is a wonderful lady, though. I love her. She was the first person to give me an opportunity in the mainstream lift me. Reach back and lift me. And it takes others to lift each other. And that's what I talk about in the book.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Tell me about your name.
LEDESI: Ledesi. Well, in the book, I describe where it comes from. It's originally from Nigeria.
CAIN: Thank you, thank you.
O'BRIEN: Don't put fingerprints on my book!
LEDESI: I'm asked that all the time. I tell people where the name comes from. My parents named me. It's my real name. I had no choice. But it means to bring to, to bring forth. It's a Nigerian word.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANAYLST: You're also a news geek?
LEDESI: Yes! I love you!
LEDESI: Yes, I love watching STARTING POINT. And of course, you, Roland. I love - I'm just a groupie.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And you like French fries?
LEDESI: Yes, I do. Can't you tell, the big picture that's in there -
HOOVER: Yes, I love the big picture of the French fries. But this is a positive book for young women too.
O'BRIEN: Sometimes it seems like young women today are really struggling. What is that about? I mean, is it different than when we grew up or do you think it's the same?
LEDESI: It's pretty much the self-esteem issues. It's -- everything starts at home. Home is different now. We have younger mothers, younger parenting, so things are a little different.
O'BRIEN: Some of these girls seem like the weight of the world their shoulders at 13 and 14. MARTIN: You are also what I call a throwback artist. How hard is it for you to have your place in this music industry where it is so single-driven, so hip-hop driven, so one hit wonder driven to be in the style of a Nancy Wilson or a Chaka Khan where you really want longevity in terms of how you sing?
HOOVER: And different genres too, right?
LEDESI: Well, yes, I switch around, but predominantly R&B. I've always mixed the old and the new always. I think we need both. You need both to entertain both audiences, and that is what I do. I stay relevant. I listen more. I think the older generation needs to listen to the younger generation more. And so I combine those audiences. My audiences are very mixed now especially with songs like "Bravo" to go to old school R&B.
MARTIN: I just (INAUDIBLE) sampling of new artists and old music.
LEDESI: I know, of course.
O'BRIEN: That means something's done right. The book is called "Better Than All Right: Finding Peace, Love and Power." It's mine now. I'll take my book back.
CAIN: You have met your number one super fan.
MARTIN: Please sign her book!
HOOVER: Please sign it for her.
MARTIN: Or we won't be able to finish the show!
O'BRIEN: Okay. I think I can turn now. Ledesi, always great to have you. Thank you so much. We will have you back on next week! Please!
O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT -- we are laughing here, but I got to tell you if you look at the markets, not good news. Stocks are slipping. The market is slowing, and your 401(k) is shrinking. Can the economy make a comeback or are we on the brink of another recession? We're going to take a look at that, straight ahead.
Plus, George Zimmerman. He's back behind bars. Was he lying about money and lying about his passport? We will take a look at that as well. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back right after this short break.