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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Housing Voting to Repeal Health Care Reforms; Interview with Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina; Interview with James Carville and Stan Greenberg; American Middle Class Discussed; Mom Abandons Disabled Daughter at Bar; Tragedy in Shenandoah

Aired July 11, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Our STARTING POINT this morning -- some breaking news -- fire and fear after a freight train carrying chemicals crashes and derails in Columbus, Ohio.

Refighting the battle over health care. Congress is set to vote again on repealing President Obama's health care law, even though really it's not going to make a difference at all.

And race and the race. Mitt Romney addressing the NAACP convention today, with a steep uphill battle to try to win the black vote.

And the man who coined "It's the economy, stupid," is updating that phrase for (AUDIO GAP) join us to talk about his new book. It's called "It's the Middle Class, Stupid."

We've got a packed show this morning.

Senator Jim DeMint is going to be our guest. Reporter Dan Lothian, Roland Martin as CNN contributor, and James Carville and pollster Stan Greenberg all joining us this morning.

It's Wednesday, July 11th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: OK. That's Ryan Lizza's playlist this morning, the Pavement, "Cut Your Hair."

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I learn a lot of his contemporary music from Ryan.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: I realized that nothing I listen to is being played this morning. We're going to have to work on that a little.

Our team this morning, with me: Danny Glover. He's an Oscar- nominated actor. He's the executive producer of a documentary we're going to be discussing this morning. It's called "Shenandoah", about a killing that took place in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. That's straight ahead this morning.

Ryan Lizza, if you're listening to his music. He's also the Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker".

And Will Cain is a columnist for TheBlaze.com joining us. I have to separate you two after the fighting last segment.

CAIN: It's all good.

O'BRIEN: Kumbaya, I know.

Our STARTING POINT this morning, another -- a little bit of a dog and pony show, I think it's fair to call it, about to unfold on Capitol Hill. The Republican-controlled House is preparing to vote this afternoon to repeal President Obama's health care overhaul. It's mostly symbolic, virtually meaningless.

But it's an election year, and because of that, it's all about the talking points. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time for Washington to see its job as encouraging small business, not crushing it. And so I look at Obamacare, for instance, I'd get rid of it. Turn back to a setting where the states were able to care for their own people in the way they think best.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That brings us to Dan Lothian, who's live at the White House for us.

So, Dan, everyone would admit that this is going nowhere. So what are Republicans hoping to accomplish with this vote today, the 33rd?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, they are essentially making a point here, essentially rallying some of the support against this health care law. And against President Obama, which will be crucial in the upcoming election.

But I should point out, you know, this is -- while they've had more than 30 votes, House Republicans have, either had to repeal health care reform or undermine parts of it. This is the first one since the Supreme Court upheld the law. It was something that Democrats had hoped would have put an end to this entire debate, but, of course, as you can see it has not.

And there was a very spirited debate yesterday up on Capitol Hill finger pointing from both sides, Republicans saying that this health care law is an intrusion in the lives of Americans. That it does very little long-term to lower the growing costs of health care.

And, again, also I see this as a way to push support against this health care law, of course crucial in the upcoming elections.

Democrats, though, say this is just more political posturing by Republicans, and this of course is going absolutely nowhere because the Senate obviously controlled by Democrats, and even got beyond that, the White House has made it clear that President Obama would veto the measure.

O'BRIEN: Dan Lothian for us this morning with an update. Thank you, Dan. Appreciate it. He's at the White House.

Let's bring in Senator Jim DeMint. He's a Republican from South Carolina. He is the co-founder of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, one of 12 senators and 61 representatives who sent a letter to the National Governors' Association asking them to oppose implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for talking with us.

You heard Dan a moment ago saying that Democrats are positioning this as basically political posturing. Do you think that's true?

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Not at all. It's an important vote, Soledad, because as we've had a better chance over the last couple of years to look at this bill, we know that millions of Americans are going to lose their health insurance if it's implemented next year. We know many states are going to be bankrupted by this whole process. We know it's going to cost a whole lot more than they said it would cost.

So what is important now to see what Republicans and Democrats are willing to do. We want to know if the Democrats who came in in the last term in the house are still going to support a bill despite the facts that are now on the table. So it's an important part of the process. We have to repeal this bill. And begin to replace it with common sense ideas that are going to help more Americans get health insurance instead of lose it, which apparently they are.

O'BRIEN: So, as you well know, those facts that you talk about, I say like "facts" because there are people that would dispute those very facts, but what would you replace it with. Republicans talked about repeal and replace. That message is now kind of just repeal. What's the replace?

DEMINT: Soledad, we need to go back to what you just said. The facts are there. We have seen survey after survey of employers who are going to drop the insurance they have now. A number of states have come to Washington saying this will bankrupt their states. This is not political posturing. These are real facts.

And what we're going to replace it with is what you've heard Mitt Romney talking about. We need to give the states more flexibility to help individuals own their own health insurance, policies that they can keep from job to job, and hopefully into retirement. And a lot of states have begun that process.

So, there are ways to get people insured without a huge federal program that's too big to succeed.

O'BRIEN: You are asking states to not implement those exchanges. First of all, now that it's law under the Supreme Court and they have approved it, why would do you that?

DEMINT: Well, it's terribly expensive. It starts a process that we believe has to be repealed because we can't afford it. I don't think states are going to move ahead with it for the fact that they can't move all these people onto Medicaid.

This promise of everyone having health insurance, Soledad, Americans are going to soon figure out that all they're going to do is push them into a Medicaid program where it's hard to find a doctor.

So I think the more Americans find out about this, the more they don't like it. And they haven't seen the worst of it yet because the 20 or so taxes that are part of this program cut in next year and the year after. So, Americans have seen some of the benefits but none of the real costs.

But the bottom line is, our country is broke. This is going to cost trillions of dollars. It's going to diminish the quality and access to health care.

So all of the promises that have been made, Soledad, about this program are not true. They are not going to happen.

O'BRIEN: The competing argument would be -- forgive for interrupting there -- competing argument would be, our country is broke, and by having a number of people who are not insured, a huge -- millions and millions of people who are not insured who are going to get health care anyway, right? They are going to show up, but probably late stage when they need it, meaning emergency room care which is already more expensive, as opposed to preventative care.

You are already bearing those costs that in fact, I'm bearing those costs every time I pay for my health insurance, another $1,000 of that cost is added onto what I'm already paying, which is a lot of money for my health insurance.

DEMINT: The best way to solve that is closer to the patient, closer to the doctor, the local and state level. And we need to have states competing for the best health care plans in the country.

We have just seen these federal programs that were supposed to help create jobs and lower costs, they're not doing it. And so again we know the facts at this point. The program is not going to work.

We appreciate some of the goals of the president. We need every American to have access to affordable health insurance. The best way to do that is at the federal level -- excuse me, at the state level that respects the relationship between the patient and the doctor.

O'BRIEN: Senator Jim DeMint joining us this morning. Thank you, sir. Nice to see you as always.

DEMINT: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: So he says the best way to do it is at the federal -- sorry, I made the same twist that he made -- do it state level, not the federal level.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the exchanges are state-run exchanges. And one of the things watching this debate, you're seeing a gap between the Romney campaign and Republicans in the House of Representatives. Let's be honest. Mitt Romney and not want to continue debating Obama's health care law, because --

O'BRIEN: Why not?

LIZZA: It immediately brings up the fact that the health care law was based on the Massachusetts law. If you watched the debate last night by the House members, some of the Republican House members actually pointed to Massachusetts and talked about how the law in Massachusetts and the exchange set up in Massachusetts is not working.

That's not -- Mitt Romney doesn't want to get into a discussion about that anymore. He wants to move back to the economy. So I think you're seeing a gap between Republicans on the Hill and the Romney campaign.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's get to Christine Romans. She's got an update for us on the day's top stories.

Hey, Christine. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: An update for you, Soledad, on the breaking news we have been following this morning. Hazmat crews on the scene of a chemical fire in Ohio where a train pulling several tankers derailed just before 2:00 a.m. The accident happened in the north end of Columbus. The explosion and fire could be felt and seen for miles.

It's burning near the Ohio State University and the Ohio state fair grounds. Police say the burning tankers were hauling denatured alcohol and styrene. Everyone within a mile of the scene has been ordered to leave their homes.

New this hour, a major air scare on an American airlines flight from Aruba to Miami. The plane hitting a freak pocket of major turbulence 30 minutes before landing -- turbulence that injured 12 people, and sent five of them to the hospital last night. Passengers say people were flying out of their seats, and they were sure they weren't making it back alive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plane just felt like a huge drop. I was watching the movie, and heads just popped up, the entire plane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought we were going to die. It was scary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course. I was sure that I was going to die.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A hundred and eighty-five passengers onboard, six crew members, safe on the ground now in Miami. The airline says there was simply no indication they were headed for such a bumpy ride.

Also developing this morning, investigators trying to find out what caused a mystery odor that made a flight crew sick and forced an emergency landing last night. The U.S. Airways flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Rome was diverted to Philadelphia. Attendants told the captain they were feeling sick and they smelled something strange. An airline spokesperson says that five crew members were taken to the hospital and released. Passengers were evacuated and put on another flight, but none of them got sick.

What's wrong with Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.? He's been on a medical leave of absence now for a month, but he not disclosed what the condition is. And now, several lawmakers, including Senator Dick Durbin, are calling on Jackson to go public with his condition.

Meantime, Jackson's father, Reverend Jesse Jackson sr., is slamming rumors his son attempted suicide but would not give any details on his condition.

New developments in the race for the White House. It's a virtual dead heat according to the latest CNN poll of polls. The president getting 46 percent of the vote if the election were held today. Mitt Romney just one point back at 45 percent.

The CNN poll of polls averages the results of three major national polls conducted in the last 10 days.

And another one for the Joe Biden gag reel. He was addressing the national council of La Raza conference in Las Vegas when he cracked up this joke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My mother said -- by the way, it was wonderful for children, by the way, having your grand pop live with you, having your great aunt, your uncle, for real. Those walls were awful thin, I wonder how the hell my parents did it. But that's a different story. I know you don't know anything about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

CAIN: You're on TV.

O'BRIEN: Really? The sex joke? Really? Really?

ROMANS: I don't know.

O'BRIEN: What event was he at, La Raza?

ROMANS: La Raza.

LIZZA: You've got to love the guy. Come on.

ROMANS: Maybe he was just talking about they couldn't talk about their family finances, grandpa on the other side.

O'BRIEN: Clearly. Christine going for the financial.

ROMANS: Maybe.

O'BRIEN: Those unpleasant financial conversations that happen at night in the bedroom.

CAIN: There is real value to men with a faulty filter.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely, absolutely. All right. Christine, thank you for that update -- most of it at least.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT -- going to get to Roland Martin. He is not with us today, because he is live at the NAACP. He's waiting for Mitt Romney who's going to be making his pitch to black voters. Some people say it's mission impossible for the candidate. We'll talk to Roland about that.

Plus, tough call today. A city is banning giving food to the homeless in parks. The mayor says that ban is not only good for the homeless people, it's good for the city. What do you think? We'll talk about that.

Here's "Grazing the Grass" with Friends of Distinction, from Christine Romans' play list. Oh, for God's sakes, can we get some gospel this morning? Do I have to beg?

ROMANS: I like this song.

O'BRIEN: I like it too. I'm just saying. You want to check out our playlist every morning at CNN.com/StartingPoint. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: The blue skies are right there on the Capitol Hill. We were showing those pictures just a second ago. That's Kirk Franklin, "I Smile," off of Roland Martin's playlist. I love that song.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: See. Kirk Franklin. Can't go wrong with that ever. He doesn't only sing, he kind of talks. And his background singers do the singing.

Roland is at the NAACP's 103rd Annual Convention in Houston. Thank you for the music, by the way, Roland. Today, Mitt Romney is going to be speaking before the group. One person who's not going to be there is the president. Vice President Biden has been sent in his place. That will happen tomorrow.

So, let's talk about the reception potentially for Mitt Romney. What's the tone of what people are expecting?

MARTIN: Well, obviously, he'll get a colder reception. Remember, Senator John McCain spoke here in 2008 when then Governor George W. Bush was running. He also spoke to the NAACP during the campaign. I think what people are asking for is what is he going to say in terms of specifics.

And that is, he likely is going to talk about the economy. When you look at Black unemployment rate, over 14 percent, among Black youth, some 48 percent. When you talked about the housing crisis, 53 percent of Black wealth has been wiped out, as a result.

And so, what is he going to say in terms of what will he do to change that, to fix that. Not broad issues, specifics. I mean, that's what folks are looking for.

O'BRIEN: Well, Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the "Miami Herald," and he wrote -- he basically wrote a draft speech. He's sort of like, here, if I were you, Mr. Romney, here's what I would say, and he goes like this.

He says he should say, "Today, I serve notice that we intend to do something we've not done for more than 50 years, compete for your votes. For far too long, the Democratic Party has been allowed to depend on your support while offering you little in return. For far too long, it's gotten away with taking you for granted." Do you think that that is true?

MARTIN: I think he should -- I think those are things that he should say. The Republican Party bottom line is, even our former colleague, Ed Rollins, will say it, they are largely a party of White older voters. And so, as this nation is becoming more of a minority country, they're going to have to figure out how do you pull in African-Americans, how do you pull in Hispanics.

First and foremost, you can't be afraid of them. You have to be willing to go there and talk to Black folks, talk to Hispanics, and then begin to say, where do we have common ground? There will be disagreement, but where do we agree? And I think too often, Republicans haven't done that.

And so, I say for Mitt Romney, go beyond just today, then what's the next step? There's evidence. Mike Huckabee, when he ran for governor in Arkansas, got about 48 percent of the Black vote. George Voinovich when ran for senator in Ohio got about a 40 percent, (INAUDIBLE) he actually worked with African-Americans on the issues where they had common ground.

CAIN: Hey, Roland, my friend, this is Will. So, what is that issue Republicans can push on that they largely agree with African- Americans? (CROSSTALK)

CAIN: SET aside the broad issues like the economy. Give me one like education.

MARTIN: African-American women, one of the fastest-growing groups when it comes to small business owners. If you're a Republican, you should be touting what will you do when it comes to helping small business owners. Those women are there. When you talk about education, how will you improve it?

But not just the issue of, I believe in vouchers, which I do, but also, I believe in public private home schooling online, every form of education, but what else is there? The other PC is, what are you going to do on the issue of social justice. Will you have Republican candidate be willing to speak out when it comes to police misconduct? Police brutality?

Those are crucial issues among African-Americans. Also, will Mitt Romney speak to voter suppression? This issue, the voter I.D. law. He's speaking in Houston --

O'BRIEN: Yes. I was going to ask Danny Glover that, Roland. You know, he's speaking in Houston, as Roland points out. Voter suppression, certainly among the folks who are in attendance as this convention, is a huge topic of conversation. Does he have to address it and what does he have to say?

GLOVER: Certainly, he has to address it. We all have to address the whole issue around what is happening with voter suppression and the laws and regulations that are being passed in terms of voter I.D. And when we look at the statistics, we saw in 2008, we saw an increase of like 15 percent of African-Americans going to the poll.

Almost 30 percent of Hispanic-Americans going to the poll and voting. Those are real numbers right now. But that's the basic question around the whole apparatus of voting itself. But the idea of how do we reinvigorate the idea of participating in Democracy in this country is such a critical point.

You have a country that has less than and barely 50 percent of its people voting as registered voters or eligible voters, you're in trouble then. So, the question becomes that, because if you have participatory Democracy, then you can talk about the issues of education in a different way.

You're talking about the issues around incarceration, the incarceration in the African-American community, police brutality in the African-American community. When you have those kind of dynamics happening within the constituency, then those are real questions.

O'BRIEN: It changes the conversation.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you this last question, which is I mentioned Joe Biden is coming tomorrow. Is there a discussion about the lack of President Obama showing up?

MARTIN: I have heard from a number of people who were disappointed that President Obama is not speaking to the NAACP. He did speak in 2008 when he was running as senator. He spoke in 2009, but he did not speak here in 2010 or 2011. And so, I've also heard from NAACP board members who are not happy that he's not speaking.

Real quick, Soledad, to Danny's point about incarceration, there have been efforts, different parts of the country, where Republicans have aligned themselves with different African-American groups when it comes to addressing the issue of the high school dropout rate but also the incarceration of African-Americans in some of these different cities.

Will, to your point, that is one of those issues that Republicans should be dealing with, mandatory minimums, incarceration rate that impacts the economy. And so, that's another area if Republicans want to step up, have the discussion, make it substantive, not simply a broad general discussion.

O'BRIEN: I would have to stop you there because we're going to hit our commercial break. Roland Martin is a CNN contributor. He is the host of "Washington Watch with Roland Martin" and was nice enough to play a little Kirk Franklin for me this morning, as well --

MARTIN: Always. I got your back.

O'BRIEN: I know you do. I know you do. I appreciate that.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a city is banning feeding the homeless in public parks as part of an effort to get the homeless indoors. Critics say, though, it's more about the image of the city than it is about any kind of public service. Who's right? It's our "Tough Call," and it's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans, "Minding your Business."

An elder statesman of futures trading is in a coma this morning after a suicide attempt. And the firm he founded is now in bankruptcy. Regulators accuse Peregrine Financial Group's founder of fraud and are looking for more than $200 million in missing customer funds. The broker's accounts have farmers and investors doing business with the Iowa-based Peregrine have been frozen.

The firm's collapse comes nine months after the implosion of MS Global. New scrutiny by regulators after that scandal uncovered this new problem.

Millions of DirecTV customers won't be getting their daily fix of Jon Stewart or "Spongebob Square Pants," for that matter. That's because DirecTV and Viacom failed to resolve a contract dispute. As a result, more than a dozen channels, including Comedy Central and MTV, they went dark at midnight on DirecTV. U.S. stock futures are higher. Companies reporting their corporate earnings this week, and investors will be looking for any signs that the slowing global growth is holding back profits. And, Soledad, when profits are held back, you have less chance of hiring. So, all piece (ph) together.

O'BRIEN: Yes, yes. All right, Christine. Thank you.

Our "Tough Call" this morning is about a new law that takes place in Philly. It's banning feeding homeless people on city parkland. Its constitutionality is now being challenged in the courts. Critics say it really is at the end of an effort to clear homeless people from land near tourist attractions, especially this one particular new museum.

They'd like to remove the homeless people to make it sort of nicer for the tourists among the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. But the mayor who testified for roughly 90 minutes on the stand before a federal judge says that is not the case. He says it's actually part of a plan to take care of the poor and the homeless.

He said that he's concerned about food-borne illnesses for people who are feeding the homeless, handling their food improperly. And he says those homeless people need more than food. They need special services to help with substance abuse problems and mental health problems, as well.

CAIN: You know, I think --

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What do you think, Cain?

CAIN: What do I think?

O'BRIEN: I know what I think, but I'll let you all start.

CAIN: I don't like taking charity out of the private sphere. I don't think that the fact that government or a city government, whatever government might be, essentially makes it burdensome for the private citizen --

O'BRIEN: He hasn't banned it all together. He's banned in the parks and moved it.

CAIN: And just made it therefore more burdensome.

O'BRIEN: Right.

CAIN: So, I don't like it. It makes it essentially you try to co-opt for the public charity and taking care of those among us to where the poor is. I think that should be something that private citizens should be encouraged to do.

O'BRIEN: I think it's a little bit tough to believe when someone says I'm worried about food-borne -- for people who are homeless. Many of them struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse issues where this might be their only meal of the day. To say, yes, but I would hate for you to get some kind of stomach bug because this food has not been warmed up properly.

CAIN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: I find that --

LIZZA: That sounds like an excuse.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

LIZZA: But in a larger point, if it's true that Philadelphia has homeless -- centers for the homeless where they can get a full range of mental health and other services, I don't think there's anything wrong with the city regulating where those services are going to be provided and not having them in the park.

CAIN: What do you think, Danny?

GLOVER: Well, the difficult issue is the question of homelessness, anyway. I mean, we know one of the reasons for homelessness. Let's talk about the real issues, you know, and how do we begin to solve those issues. Basically, talk to us and say to us, what is it -- who are we? How we address those issues of who are we as a country?

And we're not addressing those issues in terms of homelessness. And we certainly, when we talk about the middle class, we often talk about the middle class --

O'BRIEN: They don't vote.

GLOVER: But the homeless don't vote. That's one thing. Also, we have to design systems in which we include those people, poor, the homeless, those people who are disenfranchise (ph), those people who are marginalized, if we're not doing that and talking about that, and I know we may disagree on how we do this, we have to begin to put that and allow that to be our focus in terms of reenergizing this whole process of Democracy in this country.

We're not doing that, then certainly we could -- this right here, this is -- the mayor, obviously, this is an important part -- tourism is a part, a very important --

CAIN: A symptom, you're saying.

GLOVER: It is. It is.

O'BRIEN: That's what makes our "Tough Call" (inaudible) this morning.

All right. We got to take a break. Still ahead this morning, a Tennessee woman allowed to walk free by police after she abandoned her special needs daughter in the bathroom of a bar. We're going to talk to the reporter who spoke to that mom.

And then, it worked for Bill Clinton, but can a catchy phrase put Barack Obama over the top in November? James Carville and Steven Greenberg, pollster, are going to talk about their new book. It's called, "It's The Middle Class, Stupid."

Here's Will's playlist, Paolo Nutini, "Jenny Don't Be Hasty." Hey, good morning. Nice to see you. Welcome, welcome. How are you, James?

We're going to take a short break. We're back in just a moment. Still ahead this morning, a Tennessee woman allowed to walk free by police after she abandoned her special needs daughter in the bathroom of a bar. We're going to talk to the reporter who spoke to that mom.

And then it worked for Bill Clinton, but can a catchy phrase put Barack Obama over the top in November? James Carville and Stan Greenberg, pollster, will talk about their new book called "It's the Middle Class, Stupid." We're going to take a short break. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Let's get right to headlines. Christine Romans has that for us. Hey, Christine.

ROMANS: Good morning. The World Health Organization says it now knows what caused the mysterious illness that killed over 60 children in Cambodia. Their conclusion, it's a combination of pathogens, including enterovius 71 as well as steroids that to treat the victims that worsened the illness in many cases.

The son of the one of the world's wealthiest men has been arrested after police found his wife dead in their home. Hans Christian Rausing was picked up Monday on suspicion of drug possession and now is being held in connection with his wife's death. No word on how she died. Police are not saying Rausing had anything to do with her death but they are investigating.

Seasonal firefighters who risk their lives battling wildfires across the country will now be able to get federal health insurance coverage. The White House says President Obama made the decision after visiting fire crews on the frontlines in Colorado Springs. Meantime, the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history, the Waldo Canyon fire, is now fully contained. The fire burned 29,000 square miles, destroyed 350 homes. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The ring leader of a teacher test taking scheme has been busted. The feds say Clarence Mumford was charging teachers money and in return finding other people to pose as them to take their teacher certification exams. The teachers paid $1,500 to $3,000 per test. Investigators say more than 50 people in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas were involved in this scheme from 1995 to 2010.

And this will be in your head all day long. Cookie Monster getting in on the latest viral craze offering his own version of "Call me Maybe."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: There you go. Another one for Will Cain to put on his play list.

O'BRIEN: I like that version. I might like it better than the real version. He's got the voice for it. Christine, thank you.

So many of you probably remember this famous phrase from Bill Clinton's winning 1992 presidential campaign. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the economy, stupid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Well, the two men who coined that expression, James Carville and Clinton's top pollster, Stan Greenberg, now have an update to that phrase -- it's the middle class, stupid. It's also the title of their new book. CNN contributor James Carville and pollster Stan Greenberg with me this morning. Back in 1992, you said it was the economy, stupid. 20 years later, I think there are people who would argue it is the economy. You say it's the middle class.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, they are kind related to each other. We were just talking about homeless people. You can't pick up a paper without reading a story about former middle class people living in parking lots. And the best way to get out of poverty is to get to the middle class. That's the next place up the ladder. In a sense as the middle class is being destroyed across this country as we are losing people to the middle class, it's having a real effect throughout the country, not just on people in the middle class.

So, yes, we think this is a -- and people understand what's happening in their lives. They want long-term solutions to how the country is going to fix that and get back on track. And we think this is a very, very important thing to talk about.

O'BRIEN: You say social mobility, and looking at other nation social mobility is really key here.

STAN GREENBERG, POLLSTER: It's a wake-up call. What we did in 1992, it's the economy, stupid, we didn't realize, and President Clinton didn't realize, that this was going to be a three-decade phenomenon, that America really had changed. We thought we would come back, you know, from that, and we did, you know, and the 1990s were good. But we have three decades of income decline, struggle, struggle, struggle, jobs being exported, the country in debt, people in debt, and people are in pain. But they know it's a long-term problem. So they want to see long-term solutions.

O'BRIEN: Here is something from the book. "Virtually every developed country except Great Britain and Italy has greater social mobility than the United States. In Denmark, there's a 15 percent correlation between parents' income and that of a child. In the United States, it's nearly 50 percent. Income is now destiny in this new period." What do you mean?

CARVILLE: Well, like Dan and I. You know, in America, if you work hard, and you do what you are supposed to do and play by the rules, you're going to have a good life. You'll be able to buy a car, educate your children, but you have to work hard. You still can do it, but it's a lot harder than it used to be. We don't have the mobility that we used to have.

And when you don't have that, when you don't have that, in the middle class that is shrinking, and incomes are going up only at one level and not another level, then there's something else in the country that you want to be. You're losing something that is central to what it is to be the United States. And that's what we think.

GREENBERG: And people know it. Three-quarters -- 10 years ago, three-quarters of the country said I'm satisfied with my chance to get ahead. It's now half. That's a dramatic drop. People know the country has changed. That's why we wrote the book because that's what happened to us. That's what happened to a lot of other people here.

GLOVER: Take the example of young kids coming out of college now saddled with un-payable loans, student loans and everything else. What chance do they have to achieve this whole idea of the middle class?

CARVILLE: We talk about this a lot. Last night, this is actually true. Yesterday. It used to be that the federal government gave money to the banks who then loaned the money to the students. And they guaranteed the loan if the student didn't pay and the bank got the interest rate. The president very intelligently said we're just going to cut the middle man out, $60 billion. Well, the banks hated this, so Romney said, no, no, we're going to make the bank the middle man again. Little things like this are the kinds of things that drive you crazy. You look at these for-profit colleges that are strapping these kids, these veterans coming out with debt, after debt after debt.

And in the state of Louisiana, I talk about it at length, how LSU has lost like 40 percent of its funding from the state. And the answer to that is that they have to take in more out of state students, raise fees more and more, and you get less and less access to higher education that you need.

O'BRIEN: You have been frustrated that the president doesn't seem to wrap his arms around this message.

CARVILLE: I am much less frustrated now than I have been. He's done pretty good here.

GREENBERG: The time for the book, you know, with the middle class family yesterday talking about dealing with their taxes, he's embraced the middle class message and embraced the middle class future. LIZZA: He never seems to embrace it with any kind of consistency. There say one-off speech here and a week where they drive the message. It doesn't seem like he has fully taken your advice.

CARVILLE: But we have hope. We're on the right course now. We have kind of been critical of the president and his campaign in the past. I think the last three or four weeks have been very encouraging.

O'BRIEN: Romney is neck and neck with President Obama in a lot of polling.

GREENBERG: Well, across all of them, I think he -- Obama has about a three-point lead. It's a very, very close race.

O'BRIEN: Do you think this can make a difference in this race, whatever embraces this message?

GREENBERG: Well, on the economy, he was falling behind. Now he has moved the talk to the middle class and the future, he has moved ahead. And the more this moves to the future, the more it's the president.

CAIN: It's the economy, stupid. It's not working for president Obama. You can't make that argument. So you have to divide it up into sections.

CARVILLE: No. I think that the more that Romney focuses on the last four years and the more that the president focuses on the next four, he'll do better. If the president focuses on the last four and Romney focuses on the next four, then Romney will do better. People know where they are. They know what happened. They cut the president the slack. They know what he had. But they don't want him to talk about that. They want to know how are you going to get me out of this? How is my life going to be better over a long period of time?

O'BRIEN: "It's the Middle Class, Stupid." James Carville and Stan Greenberg, nice to have you guys. We certainly appreciate it.

We have to take a short break. Still ahead, we'll tell you the story of a woman in Tennessee who's been allowed to walk free by police after she abandoned her special needs daughter in the bathroom of a bar. We'll talk to a reporter who had a chance to interview the mom. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

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O'BRIEN: Now the story of a woman who left her mentally-disabled daughter outside of a bar and then just took off. That woman will not be charged. Police say Eva Cameron left her daughter, Lynn, outside the bar in Tennessee and then drove home to Illinois. Lynn Cameron has cerebral palsy, vision impairment, is non verbal, police said she did not know her known name.

Our affiliate WVLT spoke to the mom Eva, who said she had the best intentions. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

EVA CAMERON, LEFT DISABLED DAUGHTER AT BAR: When I didn't get the help I needed from Illinois, somebody at the church said why don't you go down to Tennessee. They have a good healthcare system. Then her ID card got lost, and then she became a Jane Doe. It wasn't supposed to happen that way.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Well, not exactly that way. Prosecutors say though, because Lynn is over 18 years old, and is legally an adult even though she has the mental capacity of a 2-year-old, her mother did not commit a crime and will not be charged even though she left her in this bathroom at a bar.

John Treanor is a reporter who interviewed the mom, Eva Cameron and he joins us now. Nice to see you.

So what exactly I mean, she didn't sound particularly sorrowful in that interview, at least the little piece that we played. What was her reaction when you were interviewing her?

JOHN TREANOR, REPORTER: Yes well, the most shocking part about that was how calm she was. She even laughed a little when remembering the day that she left Lynn at the bar. She said her plan was to drop her off in Tennessee. Originally she told police that she was going to drop her off and actually someone was going to pick her up at a Waffle House down the street. The police called that center in Johnson City, Tennessee. They never heard of her. That's when they started getting very curious and then she admitted that she let her out to go to the bathroom and then just took off.

O'BRIEN: So the plan all along was to abandon her. Maybe abandon her with ID so she could get some kind of health care, but thus to really abandon her daughter who -- who I believe has the mental capacity of a 2-year-old. Is that right?

TREANOR: Yes. The plan was to leave her in Tennessee where hopefully she can get health care. But when she talked to the police, and again, very calm and didn't really sound too broken up about it, she said she just couldn't handle her anymore. She couldn't take care of her anymore.

So she just kind of left her in Caryville, Tennessee, which is far from Illinois and really not a city center in Tennessee at all either.

O'BRIEN: Oh in so many ways, it's such a terrible tragedy. I mean it sounds like the mom in some ways is completely overwhelmed by caring for her adult daughter. At the same time, you can't just leave people behind somewhere in a bar. But I guess legally she is not in any jeopardy, is she, the mom?

TREANOR: Well, and that's the question we had. Was why isn't she facing any legal consequences at least in Tennessee? We heard there's an investigation in Illinois. But if they have the same statutes as Tennessee, she's really just not going to be in legal trouble.

Again, Lynn is over 18. And beyond that, there was no physical harm. And when we talk about statutes, at least in the state of Tennessee, even if you leave a 6-year-old at a bar, as long as she's not physically harmed and the police can intervene where she gets home, there's nothing criminally that the parents can -- can be faulted for.

O'BRIEN: That seems a little crazy to me. That you could leave somebody.

TREANOR: Yes, that's the reaction --

O'BRIEN: No I hear you.

TREANOR: That's the reaction we had.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

TREANOR: That's the reaction we had when we talked to the district attorney. And really is just there's no legal ground. And that might be where the problem lies. And I know when we talked to police in Caryville, their original plan was to tell the mom to come pick her up at the police station at 10:00 in the morning and when she got there they fully intended to arrest her. They say there's something wrong with that law and maybe they should relook at that.

O'BRIEN: She stayed for 10 minutes and then went back home to Illinois. It's crazy, John Treanor, thank you for the update. We appreciate your reporting on that.

Still ahead, this morning on STARTING POINT I'm going to talk about Danny Glover's new film, it's a documentary called "Shenandoah". Fascinating story about an immigrant who was killed by some teenagers, white teenagers, and the tragic events that follow in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. We'll discuss that right after the short break.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They tried to cover it up. The police tried to save us. And that's how we felt. We felt like they were going to save us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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O'BRIEN: And welcome back to STARTING POINT.

It has been four years since the small -- I mean the very small, community of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, was rocked by a horrible act of violence that caught the nation's attention. A group of white high school football players beat an illegal Mexican immigrant to death, and the police helped cover it up.

Eventually the truth came out, two of the teenagers involved were convicted eventually of hate crimes. they were acquitted though of murder.

Now there's a new document called "Shenandoah" that revisits the case. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The phone rang, ten after 9:00. And that's when our lives changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They tried to cover it up. The police tried to save us. And that's how we felt, we felt like they were going to save us. But this was just too big to save. And I was scared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Danny Glover is one of the executive producers of the film. And also joining us this morning, executive producer Billy Peterson and Pulitzer prize-winning photographer David Turnley who spent more than two years in Shenandoah working on this documentary.

Tell us a little bit David, you'll start for us. Tell us about the town of Shenandoah. When I said small, it's literally like a mile square. I mean, it's really, really small. It has been hit by some hard times.

DAVID TURNLEY, DIRECTOR, "SHENANDOAH": Yes this -- for me came about until 2008, after Barack Obama said that the working class in Pennsylvania cling to guns in related in crisis. And I had always been really proud of working people in this country and the diverse heritages of the people of this country. And I thought, gosh, it's time to go and have a look at a coal mining town in Pennsylvania. And I drove over and landed in this town literally just after this incident had occurred.

You drive into town, it's an interesting place. You drive from the mountains and you land in this hamlet. You see church steeples. You feel sort of like you're in a European village. And it literally is a town going back to the 1820s, 1830s. That have just been every imaginable wave of -- of immigration until today.

O'BRIEN: When it came to Mexican immigrants, though, this is where they had a real culture clash. And this is what happened with Maurice Ramirez, the undocumented worker who ended up being beaten literally to death by -- by white football stars in so many cases. What was the tone -- what did you want to explore in this documentary, Bill?

BILL PETERSON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "SHENANDOAH": I think we wanted to explore the community. We wanted to explore the motivation of why this occurred. And also we wanted to explore the conflict, you know. I mean it's not unusual that this is -- this story is not unusual. I mean the country is made up of immigrants. We came to a small town to really help understand why there is such conflict.

O'BRIEN: I want to play a little chunk of -- of a rally that happened in support -- I mean, the town literally got divided. People who supported the young men, people who supported the Mexican immigrant and his white girlfriend who was a local as well, who had his child. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These kids did not intend to kill Mr. Ramirez. I'm sure of that. And I just don't believe that these teens intended to kill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are saying, ok, it's not a racist issue, but look at what they're saying and look at the things, the signs that they are holding. So tell me it's not a racist issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Ultimately, is this what you wanted to explore, sort of the -- a small community and how race and class and loss in some ways of economic security played a role in how this all went down?

DANNY GLOVER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "SHENANDOAH": Well, one thing, we thought it was a great story and one of the major stories in the 21st century here at this point in this country. And not only in this country, but the world itself, dealing with the issue of immigration, dealing with the issue of border; dealing with the issues of security. All of these are important.

Here we have a town which had been de-industrialized. A town that had been in hard times. A town where people were angry and frustrated themselves, you know. And I want to -- I want to believe that there -- there is some outcome that beyond that go that takes us beyond the particulars of the sensitive right here.

O'BRIEN: Well, let's talk about that.

GLOVER: There's a level of tolerance that --

O'BRIEN: Do you see that?

GLOVER: And it comes from those young people.

O'BRIEN: Do you see that at the end of the day? We know that two of the young men who were most involved ended up being charged with a federal hate crime and they are spending fairly long sentences in prison. But what about the community. I mean Danny sounded very hopeful when we were talking earlier. Do you feel that?

TURNLEY: I do. And first of all, I'd like to say that the people of Shenandoah were incredibly generous to let me into their lives and I think we can all learn from them.

Three years after I arrived in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, in the spring, I was -- I arrived in town, and came upon on Martin Luther King Day a march that had been organized by some of the football players that were friends of these guys that marched through town. And it was a small group, and then it sort of accumulated. And before long there were several hundred people from town matching through the streets of Shenandoah against racism.

O'BRIEN: Different Shenandoah than --

PETERSON: The tone of optimism, you know.

O'BRIEN: Right. That's nice to see.

PETERSON: And seeing that come full circle was really amazing.

O'BRIEN: Where can people see this documentary?

TURNLEY: Well, the film is just completed. And we are looking forward to premiering it hopefully this fall at a major festival. And you can go on Facebook to Shenandoah film or to www.shenandoah-film which is the Web site for the film and we'll keep them hosted.

O'BRIEN: Ok. Great. All right. Thank you.

It looks amazing. It is amazing. Appreciate it.

Back in just a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: And a big thank you to Danny Glover for joining our team today. We certainly appreciate it.

GLOVER: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: It's time to send it over to "CNN Newsroom" and Carol Costello. Hey Carol, good morning.