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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

American Arrested in Japan for Murder; Presidential Candidates Spar on Campaign Trail; Jerry Sandusky Trial Continues; Slow, Steady Progress On Wildfire; "I'm Exploring All My Options"; Costner Wins BP Oil Cleanup Suit; Little Darth Vader Doing "Very Well"; Solutions For The Economy; Romney: Talk Is Cheap; From Basketball To Fatherhood; Dueling Economics

Aired June 15, 2012 - 07:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And today's "Get Real," your wedding day. It's supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life. But for one bride it might have been the worst day ever. We'll explain. It's Friday, June 15th and starting point begins right now.

Morning, welcome, everybody. Our starting point is this breaking news, two Americans under arrest in Japan. One is 19-year-old and is suspected of murder. Kyung Lah is live for us in Tokyo with some details. Good morning.

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. We are learning more about the case. Tokyo police were holding him on different charges but now holding him on murder charges, looking to advance their case against this unidentified man, unidentified because he's still considered a minor under Japanese law. For the minor, an Irish exchange student found dead in a Tokyo hotel room, strangled to death. The Tokyo police say the only other person in the room was the 19-year-old. They are moving forward on a case against another American, Blackstone, an L.A. native.

We spoke to his attorney and he says the Tokyo prosecutor's office has officially charged him with groping furlong's friend on the night of her murder. The attorney says that these charges are not valid, that he intends to fight on behalf of his client trying to get his client off. He does not feel there's any sort of validity to this. The attorney also says that at this point he could face, if found guilty, anywhere from six months to ten years behind bars. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Kyung Lah is watching that story for us. Kyung, thank you very much.

Let's turn now to Christine Romans. Hey, Christine, good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Soledad. Mitt Romney is kicking off his "Every Town Counts" bus tour, six states beginning in New Hampshire. President Obama is back in Washington after raising $2 million at the fundraiser last night at the home of actress Sara Jessica Parker. The candidates traded jabs yesterday in the key battle ground state of Ohio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That it's all my fault, that I can't fix it because I think government is always the answer or because I didn't make a lot of money in the private sector and don't understand it or because I'm in over my head.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He describes his plans for making the economy better. But don't forget, he's been president for three and a half years, and talk is cheap.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: In a few moments, Soledad will be joined by Nicolle Wallace, who worked as a top adviser for the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008.

A high court ruling leads to government in turmoil in Egypt. Egypt's supreme constitutional court declared the country's parliament dissolved yesterday. The court is considered partial to the old regime led by Hosni Mubarak, and the interim military leaders declared full legislative authority.

Both the prosecution and defense gearing up for a big week in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial. The state plans to rest their case Monday. That's when the defense is set to begin. Eight of the 10 accusers testified this week in graphic detail about the abuse they allegedly suffered at the hands of former Penn State assistant football coach. Joe Paterno's widow and one of his sons are among the potential witnesses defense lawyers may call. You'll remember the legendary coach died of cancer, weeks after being fired in the wake of that Sandusky scandal.

Minding your business this morning, U.S. stock futures trading higher and Dow futures up 40 points and markets rallied yesterday on hopes central banks will take coordinated action to keep money flowing in the system if Europe's problems get worse.

The NBA finals are tied to one game apiece, but advantage Miami. The heat grabbed home court advantage from the thunder with a thrilling 100-96 victory last night. LeBron James was king once again, leading Miami with 32 points. Game three is Sunday night in South Beach.

It's down to the wire literally for Nick Skywalker. Nick Wallenda who plans to walk across Niagara falls. The historic tightrope walk will start on the U.S. side of the falls and hopefully end in Canada, a third of a mile later. He will be wearing a Tejer at the request of his sponsors. These are live pictures of the falls from earthcam.com. We'll keep you updated throughout the day. Another thing on the list of things I'll never do.

O'BRIEN: That makes me anxious.

ROMANS: Nerve-wracking. O'BRIEN: Christine, thank you.

President Obama and Mitt Romney are trying to convince voters to support their economic plans. They were both in the swing state of Ohio. The president hammering home one of his familiar themes which was a Romney win would mean a return to Bush era economic policies. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If you want to give the policies of the last decade another try, then you should vote for Mr. Romney.

(BOOS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: OK, and here's what's Mitt Romney was telling voters, if you don't like the guy in charge, you should fire him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: In my experience of thinking about people I want to have work for me, my doctor, a person that will be painting the house, I want to make sure they did a good job the first time. If they didn't, I want someone who can do a better job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Nicolle Wallace is a former campaign senior adviser for John McCain and bestselling author of "It's Classified." thanks for being here.

NICOLLE WALLACE, AUTHOR, "IT'S CLASSIFIED": Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: Let's look at the three-point set that mitt Romney said he will be honed in on. Number one he said the economy, fixing the economy. He says he's going to take advantage when it comes to natural resources of the country's oil, coal, natural gas to lower energy costs so more manufacturing jobs will come into the country. Has he spelled out how he's going to do it?

WALLACE: The first step is the Keystone pipeline. I think for Republicans, it's indicative of the way that Obama places politics ahead of jobs. And I think the contrast Romney is trying to draw there, jobs will be first, jobs, jobs, jobs, and no other consideration will come close to bringing jobs back to America. It's a winning message for him but get an outsized amount of attention on the campaign trail.

O'BRIEN: When you look at what president Obama has done, the U.S. imports 45 percent of its petroleum, down from 57 percent back in 2008. Since the president took office as he likes to say a lot, the domestic oil and gas production has increased every year and manufacturing jobs are on the rise, I think up 21,000 in his administration. Is that a valid pushback against something like Keystone?

WALLACE: You just articulated the defense. The problem with Obama's message is he's contrasting himself to George Bush. And that contrast rallies the liberal Democratic base, I think it's excites them --

O'BRIEN: What does it do for independents?

WALLACE: Independents couldn't care less about the years of George W. Bush. By the end of George W. Bush's presidency, independents had lost faith with the Bush years after Katrina and after the two years. They were some of the most weary part of the voters once in George Bush's camp. But they are not persuaded to back Barack Obama in this Bush bashing he seems obsessed with doing.

O'BRIEN: When you look at polls on that, how much do you blame on the current policy and they say President Bush, at least a moderate amount, 68 percent, not much or none, 31 percent. It seems a large number of people blame President Bush and when you ask the same question about president Obama, at least a moderate amount, 52 percent, not much or none, 48 percent.

WALLACE: What's wrong with those polls is that President Bush isn't on the ballot. So I think the better question might be, do you blame George W. Bush or are you going to take it out on Mitt Romney? I haven't seen anybody ask that question, that's the axis around the decision people will make in the privacy of the voting booth turns. Do you blame George W. Bush and are you going to take out the anger on mitt Romney? I haven't even big numbers in response to that question. The other thing is, we never had an election that hinges on the past and four years is the distant past as you know from covering campaigns --

O'BRIEN: Five months feels like a long time.

WALLACE: It's a dog year. So to take voters back four years.

O'BRIEN: It's not going to work.

WALLACE: It's not going to work.

O'BRIEN: They even laid out specific proposals yesterday -- there was no messaging around plans but no specific messages in plans. Mitt Romney was talking about Obama care. Here's what he said in his speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The president said the other day that he didn't know that Obama care was hard for small business. Oh, really? The chamber of commerce carried out a survey of some 1,500 businesses across America, and 75 percent of those people surveyed said Obama care made it less likely for them to hire people. Think of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: I thought it was a little strange, no one cites a chamber of commerce survey. I know when you were working in administration and campaigns, you lived and died by the surveys, but 1,500 seems very small when there's something like 28 million small businesses in the country.

WALLACE: It does.

O'BRIEN: And chamber of commerce doesn't do official surveys.

WALLACE: This to me -- Mitt Romney is a guy who's always going to give us his citations. He's very deliberate and analytical and wants us to know he's not speaking of political hyperbole.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: A chamber of commerce at the state and local is respected voice for business in America. They have a reputation totally void of politics nationally in Washington everything gets politicized. In terms of speaking for business, I don't know there's any institution more credible.

And I think this is going to be a contest. I think on the right we are going to have to be that voice for the small business owner. They feel they have not been listened to in the last four years. And whether it's real or perceived, there's a sense that Obama, not only does he not respect and want to nourish business but doesn't understand how it works. And that is essential to the Republican message. You'll hear more and more voices from business. I think you'll hear Mitt Romney cite studies and polls and data and anecdotes from small business, because central to his message is the ability to convince voters that he can make this country by getting everybody back to work.

O'BRIEN: We'll talk to Ben Labolt who will give us the other side later this morning. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, after all of that graphic testimony from eight alleged victims in the Jerry Sandusky trial, how does the defense counter? We'll talk to Jose Bbaez, the guy who got Casey Anthony acquitted. He'll weigh in next.

Also, our "Get Real" for the groom who never made to his reception before he cheated on the bride. Come on. We're shaking our heads. We start our STARTING POINT playlist this morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. The Jerry Sandusky trial is in recess today. It will pick up on Monday morning when the prosecution is expected to wrap up its case and the defense is expected to begin that case. Some of the most shocking and graphic testimony came from three alleged victims yesterday. The accuser, the victim rather, known as victim number nine, testified that he screamed for help while Sandusky abused him in the basement. But he says help never came. Jose Baez is the author of "Presumed Guilty -- Casey Anthony, the Inside Story" and also a criminal defense attorney who successfully helped acquit Anthony in her murder trial.

JOSE BAEZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Good morning, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Imagine for me, you are sitting next to Jerry Sandusky and you're his defense attorney. How do you assess the case so far?

BAEZ: If things are being reported accurately, it's in a really bad situation right now. And you've got to be seriously considering having Mr. Sandusky testify, especially if that wasn't the case prior to this position, meaning, you never know at any given point whether your client is going to testify. Normally you kind of put that decision off to the very end. If things are being reported accurately and that's a big if, it's looking pretty bad for Mr. Sap dusky right now.

O'BRIEN: What would be the thing to put him on the stand or decide not to put him on the stand?

BAEZ: If he's going to testify any like he gave in the Bob Costas interview, that's a definite no. But if we can get the educated man who is used to going into living rooms and having top athletes and their parents, selling himself too top athletes and their parents to come to Penn State, then you might have someone who can handle themselves well and sell themselves well on the stand. All of these things are taken into consideration plus the fact that Mr. Sandusky doesn't have a criminal history, he can't be impeached in that regard. It makes him a decent candidate to testify. But if he's going to be anything like he was during the Bob Costas interview, I would seriously advise against it.

O'BRIEN: He fumbled and didn't give straight answers a lot. For the defense, who do you think you would put on the stand first?

BAEZ: In this situation you have to -- I've heard about this histrionic disorder. If that's something --

O'BRIEN: What is that?

BAEZ: You know, it's some type -- I've never heard of it prior to this case. But my understanding and what I've seen so far is it's a type of grandiose type of personality disorder which someone likes to be the center of attention. And what it might do is put a little distance between some of the alleged victims and slow the case down to the point which you put forensic testimony and psychological testimony that might kind of get away from the emotion that the prosecution -- if the prosecution has been successful in putting forth so far.

I'll tell you one thing -- if there's no court today and the prosecution ended on a high note, the jurors have the whole weekend to be soaking in a lot of what the prosecution's case is. So I would probably tell you that that was done on purpose to end their goal on the weekend on a very high note, and that's going to be pretty bad for the defense as well. So your strategy would be to fill with forensic to block and bring down the level in the room, if you will. What has been the most damning testimony so far? Is it just the detail that seems so consistent across these accusers?

BAEZ: No, as much as -- I think the eyewitness testimony of Mr. McQueary is probably the most damning right now. If the defense has been able to poke holes at the motives of these alleged victims -- the problem with that is there's 10 of them. That's a lot. You can usually discount one or maybe two alleged victims in a sexual abuse trial, but to have ten of them, that's pretty -- that's a mountain to overcome. But then to have an eyewitness testimony who actually saw the sexual abuse occur, you don't get that in sexual abuse trials. It's very, very rare. It's almost as good as a video.

O'BRIEN: Going to be interesting to see what the defense does starting Monday. Jose Baez, thanks for your insight.

BAEZ: Thanks for having me, Soledad. Have a great one.

O'BRIEN: Likewise.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, when you get married you promise to be faithful, the whole death do us part thing. But for one couple it meant I'll be faithful till the reception. Sadly, that is our "Get Real" this morning. And our starting point team is heading in. We'll talk about that and much more. We have Margaret Hoover and Will Cain. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: "One Day," that's Celeste's playlist, nice to have you back. Margaret Hoover is the author of "American Individualism," and Will Cain is a columnist at TheBlaze.com.

Our "Get Real" this morning may be a new low for the institution of marriage. Marriage is about taking a vow to be faithful to another person for the rest of your life. You see that in front of your family and friends. For one happy couple in Austria, the happiness did not last. The groom had too much to drink and clouded his judgment I suppose and according to "The Austrian Times," literally hours after he said I do, his brand-new father-in-law went looking for him in the reception hall kitchen and walked in on the groom and a waitress in a compromising position, shall we say.

(LAUGHTER)

MARGARET HOOVER, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN INDIVIDUALISM": Most compromising.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Was that actual wedding footage?

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: You don't need to rub it in to that extent. The father of the bride stops the party and kicks out all of the guests and the bride herself is like, that's it, I want a divorce. Can't get a divorce.

HOOVER: For six months, Austrian law.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: We could be doing a homicide investigation today.

HOOVER: Or severe beating.

O'BRIEN: In my family it would have been like --

CAIN: Guess he's figuring out it's his party. I'm kidding. He's a horrible human being. All of these things --

O'BRIEN: Why get married? He may not be a horrible human being, but say no to the wedding.

HOOVER: There were probably problems before the wedding.

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: I'm sure he wanted to be married and wanted it all.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Clearly, yes, he did. And in six months, he's going to lose a big chunk of that.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, the Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter wants to create more jobs. How he and hundreds of other U.S. mayors are going to do it.

Remember the mini Darth Vader from the Super Bowl commercial, Max Page. And he's now using the force to recover from heart surgery. Such a cute ad. We'll update you on how he's doing and what his story is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Let's get right to Christine Romans. She's got a look at the day's headlines. Hi, good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning. Slow, steady progress with the massive wildfire in South Eastern Colorado. Favorable weather conditions could help firefighters make some head way today against that high park fire.

It's still giving them headaches. So it jumped a highway yesterday forcing more evacuations. The fire has burned 52,000 acres and it's now 15 percent contained.

An update to the latest round of doping allegations against Lance Armstrong. His attorneys are demanding access to evidence anti-doping investigators gathered, including the names of witnesses who say they saw Armstrong take performance enhancing drugs.

In a letter to Armstrong, the Anti-Doping Agency said it conducted, quote, "face to face meetings" with more than ten cyclists as well as cycling team employees.

A federal jury in New Orleans siding with actor, Kevin Costner, in his legal battle with fellow actor, Steven Baldwin. A lawsuit brought by Baldwin accused Costner of cheating him out of a multimillion dollar deal to sell oil cleanup devoices to BP after the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Baldwin and a business partner had sold their stake in the company before the deal with BP was sealed.

Tiger is lurking round one of the U.S. open is in the books. Tiger Woods is nicely positioned in a five-way tie for second place after shooting a one under par 69 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Everyone is chasing unlikely leader Michael Thompson, a former Eagle Scout and second year pro from the University of Alabama. He posted a four under par 66 and enters round two today with a three- stroke lead.

Mini Darnth Vader definitely has the force with him this morning. He's recovering well after his open heart surgery. The 7- year-old Max Page from the popular Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial, he was born with a congenital heart defect.

Doctors at the Los Angeles Children Hospital have replaced his pulmonary valve. His grandfather says Max came through it just like a champion. Love that kid -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: What a great ad, we were all laughing at it. What a great, great ad. All right, Christine, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: So nearly 200 of America's mayors are actually in Orlando for their annual conference. They are trying to come up with ways to help the nation move forward, topping the agenda, of course, job creation and infrastructure.

So joining us this morning is Philadelphia's mayor, Democrat Michael Nutter. He is going to be inaugurated as the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Saturday.

It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for talking with us. You know, job creation was a focus for both Mitt Romney and President Obama as they were doing their speeches in the state of Ohio.

I'm going to play little chunks from each of their speeches and then ask you a question on the other side if I can.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Our businesses have gone back to basics and created over 4 million jobs in the last 27 months --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: OK, so what do you think is -- did we play the Romney one? Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's going to be a person of eloquence as he describes his plans for making the economy better. But don't forget, he's been president for three and a half years and talk is cheap. Action speaks very loud.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The debate in this election is not about whether we need to grow faster or whether we need to create more jobs or whether we need to pay down our debt. Of course, the economy isn't where it needs to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: OK. I think we finally got the two sorts of chunks from each of them that sort of sums up a little bit of their strategy in their speeches.

So first tell me, when you look to Washington, D.C., what do you want to be hearing from both of them? What do you need to hear in order to get your unemployment figures down in your city?

MICHAEL NUTTER, MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA: Well, good morning, Soledad. I think the issue for all of us, all of mayors at the U.S. Conference of Mayors really is about jobs.

And we are a nonpartisan organization, but we're all committed to and focused on how do we get the economy of America moving in the right direction? How do we get Americans in our various citizen states back to work?

How do we improve the economic climate and get unemployment down, people working engaged in job training and going to college or university or some post secondary educational opportunity? So I think the critical issues are really revolve around education and innovation, jobs, economic opportunity and certainly tax reform as components of how you move America in the right direction.

And whether it's President Obama, who has a record and is in office, or Mr. Romney, who has -- talking about what he did in Massachusetts or at Bain Capital, the real issue is how do you move America in the right direction?

That's about getting a transportation bill passed that is long term in nature, improving infrastructure, bridges, roads, schools, putting people back to work. As well as supporting workforce development and job training programs.

That's what moves this country and that's what the U.S. Conference of Mayors is all about. That is what we need to hear from the two candidates.

And what Americans really care about is people getting back to work, investing in the economy, private sector job creation, which we have seen over the past few months, but we're in a campaign environment and you're going to hear a lot of things from both the president and Mr. Romney.

O'BRIEN: And we heard a lot of things yesterday, but let's look at your city specifically, unemployment at 9.6 percent. Last year, you had to layoff 3,000 teachers.

In 2009, you have something like 700 police officers or more were laid off. You've had to raise parking tax, hotel tax, sales tax, property tax.

Who has a point? I mean, given that framework in your particularly city and two competing messages on the economy, who's doing better? Who's speaking to and why?

NUTTER: The one thing that you mentioned, we did not in Philadelphia, we did not layoff any police officers, although, unfortunately, we did not hire as many as we wanted to. But I did not layoff any police officers, no firefighters, sanitation workers, social workers health care workers.

We didn't take that particular approach. But unfortunately, we were not able to hire as many folks as we wanted. What I want to hear is who has a plan to put Americans back to work?

We've seen massive decline in employment on state in state and local government. People still need to provide services to the citizens they want. They want their trash picked up. They want their potholes filled. They want recreation centers --

O'BRIEN: And who is that person?

NUTTER: -- somebody is going to show up.

O'BRIEN: Romney supporters would say President Obama had several years to take a shot and the numbers aren't where they should be?

NUTTER: As a vice president of U.S. Conference of Mayors, we're a nonpartisan organization. But as the mayor of Philadelphia, what I have seen is, we received a number of grants from the government to actually put police officers back on the payroll through the cops program.

This is really about who has a long term vision for making America work. We've seen 27 months of private sector job growth, 4 million jobs created under the Obama administration and different kind of record by Mr. Romney, whether as governor of Massachusetts or his time at Bain Capital, which was not a particularly great record.

But we're going to hear a lot of things during the course of the campaign. I think we need to separate fact from fiction and make sure people are paying attention to what's going on and we're fully engaged in the campaign season.

On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, we want to stay focused on who can create real jobs in cities where people live, where 90 percent of the gross domestic product of the country is created in cities and stop the job loss that we're experiencing in many cities across the United States of America.

O'BRIEN: Michael Nutter is the mayor of Philadelphia and will be inaugurated on Saturday. So congratulations for that. Thanks for being with us.

NUTTER: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Coming up next, a former NBA star Allan Houston knows a thing or two about fatherhood. He is a father of seven.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Seven.

O'BRIEN: Just had a new baby several weeks ago.

He's been doing a lot of work focusing on strengthening the ties between fathers and their kids. We'll tell you what he's doing on that front, pretty amazing. We'll take a short break. STARTING POINT is back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Father's Day is on Sunday and one man is working overtime to promote fatherhood and strengthen the ties between fathers and their kids.

Former New York Knicks superstar Allan Houston is not only one of the all time leading scorers in Knick's history and two-time NBA all-star, he's also the father of seven, seven kids.

He's named Father of the Year by the National Fatherhood Initiative back in 2007. He also founded the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation to help fathers and sons. It's nice to have you. Good morning.

ALLAN HOUSTON, FORMER NEW YORK KNICKS PLAYER: Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: So seven kids, the oldest is 13. I know you just had a new baby --

HOUSTON: Right.

O'BRIEN: I think we have a little picture of this new baby. How have you learned from the first to the seventh about how to be a good father? What's changed over all that time?

HOUSTON: First of all, I've learned to just listen to my wife.

O'BRIEN: You're a smart man.

HOUSTON: I mean, seriously. She puts so much energy and she keeps a very tight foundation. There's a lot of order, organized chaos, but I think first we just leave it to God to kind of give us direction.

Because there are a lot of things that are going to happen and no parent is perfect. So you kind have to just keep some type of standard. The biggest thing is you have to keep a standard that they can adhere to, but also know they are going to make mistakes. And we're going to mistakes, we have to keep talking and keep living it.

O'BRIEN: When it came to your charity, why did you want to focus on fatherhood?

HOUSTON: Well, my father is just a great man, a great leader. I had a very unique experience in that I actually played for him in college. That experience not only was I learning fundamentals of basketball and learning how to become a better basketball player and be equipped for the NBA.

But I was watching him, watching how he dealt with my mother and scrutiny and work ethic. By the time, I got to the NBA, not only did I listen to those words, but actually I saw his example.

And halfway through my career, we just said, this is something we have to share because we would hear often a lot about our relationship and how an African-American community being -- having a strong male figure is rare.

And I just didn't want to buy into that. I wanted other people to understand that it shouldn't be an anomaly, it should be a standard.

O'BRIEN: You have a father's knows best basketball retreat, which sort of gives an opportunity not just to the kids, but also for the fathers and their kids to have an opportunity to learn together. Tell me a little about that.

HOUSTON: Well, aside from learning fundamentals of basketball, we wanted to bring fathers and mentors for those kids who didn't have fathers to come to an environment where they could bond and connect.

We want to encourage men in general to understand that, you know, this fatherhood issue is huge. It's like the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. They -- and deal with.

So we have to give them tools and equipment and strategy. And for the young men, we have to prepare them because a lot -- our kids are growing into relationships and becoming young fathers so we have to prepare them for that role.

O'BRIEN: So how does it work? The kid and the dad will go to one your basketball retreats.

HOUSTON: Yes, right now, it's a tour and set up to where we're going all throughout New York City and we're launching in all five boroughs. So the fathers and men will come into an environment for a day. They'll come with their kids and go through some high powered basketball training and instruction. And we have workshops and we help them understand the role, we talk about communication. We talk about their identity.

I talk to basketball players, pros, men in general, and one of the questions that men usually have, especially if they didn't have a relationship with their father, who am I. So it leaves a huge void, even in men who have had fathers.

So we talk about a lot of those issues. So after that experience for a day, we move into a full seven-week program, which we have a curriculum we've established. And the goal is for this program to be left all throughout New York City and then continues to grow more families can come in.

O'BRIEN: If you could fix sort of the issue with fatherhood, what could you change, not only in the black community certainly, but in the community, the human community as a whole?

HOUSTON: Well, I think first of all, you have children who kind of come into school -- come into social environments whether they are a team or churches, they come in with an identity, know their purpose and have a vision.

At the end of the day, they know what type of legacy they want to leave. I think that's one of the issues. We talk a lot about societal issues and I just think a lot of them would be helped, not cured, but obviously helped if we had the men who have that example at home.

It's just one of many tools. There are a lot of great men doing great things in the area of fatherhood and around the city and country. One of the issues we've been blessed with is the engagement. A lot of these programs aren't -- the men aren't being engaged with their kids.

O'BRIEN: Basketball is a way in.

HOUSTON: Basketball is a great tool.

O'BRIEN: And you know basketball. It's nice to have you. Thanks for talking. Happy Father's Day to you as well. Seven kids, you should have a great present.

HOUSTON: You know what? Just being with them honestly, you're on the road so much. Being with them is my Father's Day.

O'BRIEN: I love that man. All right, you heard both President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney's speeches on the economy.

Coming up next, CNN anchor, Candy Crowley is going to join us with a little analysis and perspective. What it means for the next long, long months of campaigning. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today gave a major speech where he defended his handling of the economy. There were tons of people in the audience since nobody had to be at work. So they were all there.

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O'BRIEN: President Obama and Mitt Romney trying to sway voters on the number one issue of the campaign, which is the economy, of course. They are both in the battleground state of Ohio.

And not a big surprise, each one was criticizing the other's economic vision. Put it all in perspective for us this morning is CNN's chief political correspondent and host of "STATE OF THE UNION," Candy Crowley. It's nice to see you, Candy. Good morning.

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, CNN'S "STATE OF THE UNION": Good morning.

O'BRIEN: So a new poll shows that actually when they ask people who get more blame for the state of the economy, more of the blame goes to President Bush.

You can see it there, at least some, 68 percent, not much or none 31 percent. President Obama not so far behind, 52 percent. He's got 48 percent for not much or none. So what do you think of that strategy?

Nicole Wallace, when I spoke to her earlier today, she said if you're going to focus on President Bush that is going to be a losing strategy. What do you think?

CROWLEY: Well, I think it's why you're seeing President Obama talk about Mitt Romney in terms of George Bush. I think Nicole is absolutely right. It's not going to sell to say this is George Bush's fault. I'm just trying to clean it up.

So what the president is trying to do, actually, if you like those policies that brought us to this mess, then you're going to love Mitt Romney. Go vote for him.

So I think it's the tying together of the two men, rather than -- I think they understand at this point in his term just getting out there and going, this was George Bush's fault. I had this great big mess.

He does say that on occasion. But I think the way they're going at Mitt Romney is just to try to tie him to Bush precisely because of polls like that and say you want to go back? There you go.

CAIN: Candy, this is Will. So President Obama seems to have tried several different economic messages I'd say over the past nine months. I feel like back in the fall, we started with somewhat of an inequality message. There was some time where he invested in the Bain argument.

Then there was a short period here where we talked about the economy as recovering and he received criticism from people like James Carville on that. This Bush focus seems to be the newest. Do you get a sense this is going to be one that they stick with? They seem to be trying out messages. Do you have any sense of which one will they stick with?

CROWLEY: All campaigns I think press reset along the way, and certainly this one is no exception. I think the sort of focus on what's the message. And I get that we want to know what the bumper sticker is and the overall.

But it's sort of not just one thing. I think the president's message is -- and Mitt Romney's message is the same, I can deal with this economy better, right? They both know it has to be about the future.

But in order to make that case, you kind of have all of those messages at the same time. I don't think they believe -- and I don't think sort of personally that going after Bush helps at this point.

Again, it's just the tie-in with Romney, but what the president has to say is I've made it better. At some level, he has to say that because he is going to be responsible for his term. That's not a small number of people who believe that the president has some responsibility for the current state of the economy.

So he has to acknowledge that, and he has to say, but, wait, I have created jobs, which he does all the time. Seventy seven months of job growth in the private sector, more than 4 million jobs, et cetera.

So I don't think that they have settled on one punchy little message. But I think if you see them framing the economy, they're still kind of working on what the central -- what the core of that is. But you have to kind of include all those things.

What you've done, what was done in the past, and what you'll do in the future. What Carville has said, what's your plan here, guy? You know, people need to know what you're going to do next. I do think both these candidates have fallen down on that.

I mean, you know, tax reform, we know a little about that. We know in general that Mitt Romney is all about -- wants to cut taxes, corporate and personal. The president thinks the rich ought to pay a little more. He is about fairness.

Mitt Romney talks a lot about economic freedom. So we kind of know generalities, but neither of these men have come to the table with here's my plan.

O'BRIEN: Guess what? We have like five months to go to have someone come up with here's my plan, and my guess is we'll hear a lot from them over the next five months. Maybe someone will include that.

All right, Candy Crowley, thank you. We always appreciate it and of course "State Of The Union" this weekend. Don't miss it.

Coming up at the top of the hour, we're going to talk to Ben Labolt, he's an Obama campaign national press secretary.

Still ahead in the next hour, a law that would help track down guns, but does it unfairly focus illegal gun openers? We're going to hear from both sides in this debate straight ahead.

And the former rap star Luther Campbell from "Two Live Crew." Remember that?

It's very interesting debate that finally went to the Supreme Court on freedom of speech on his album. Now he is fighting to keep his job as a high school football coach. We'll tell you why this is happening. And his past is really the problem. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

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