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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Mitt Romney Speaks to NAACP; Report on Penn State Child Abuse Scandal to be Released; Nephew: Israel Poisoned Arafat; Top Syrian Diplomat Defects; "Dry Storms" And Extreme Heat; Alzheimer's Genetic Mutation; Really An Emergency; Candidates Compete For Black Vote; Romney's Reception At NAACP; The Value Of Life; Fort Hood Shooter Court Hearing; Calls For D.C. Mayor To Resign; "The Impeachment Of Abraham Lincoln"

Aired July 12, 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: Also Minority Whip Steny Hoyer will be our guest and Roland Martin will be checking in and the actress Ellen Burstyn is with us. It's Thursday, July 12, and STARTING POINT begins now.

Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, fighting words from Mitt Romney as Joe Biden prepares to address the NAACP convention in Houston after Romney's rocky reception at the convention and he is now telling the detractors go vote for someone else. It was a tough sell. He was trying to convince African-Americans they would be better off with him but when he promised to repeal president Obama's health care law the crowd erupted in boos.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am going to eliminate every non-essential program I can find, that includes Obamacare, and I will work to reform and save --

(BOOS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Romney is getting hammered in the wake of that by the NAACP. Jim Acosta is live for us in Houston this morning. Good morning. How did it go?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, whenever you get booed for 15 seconds it is not exactly going well. The Romney campaign did send out some of their folk who is do outreach for the campaign with the African-American community to talk to reporters. I was there. They said that they were pleased overall with what he got in terms of applause. He did sort of get a standing ovation at the end of the speech. About half the crowd stood up and applauded. It wasn't all boos for the former governor.

Soledad, what is sort of interesting is what Romney has said after that speech. He went to a fundraiser in Montana last night and basically said that he was OK with the reaction that he got. He said in an interview right after the speech on another news channel that he sort of expected some of the booing that he got.

So, Soledad, keep in mind some of this works with the conservative base of the Republican Party. After that speech he gave even though the reaction inside the room was not so great, there were a lot of conservatives online and on twitter saying this was the best speech that Mitt Romney has given so far in the course of this campaign. They like the fact he went into a fairly progressive liberal crowd and threw out some pretty conservative red meat. And, yes, the reaction was not so great inside the halls of this convention center within the NAACP, and here is one sample of what we heard after his speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He literally came to our house and attacked the issues that are important to us on our turf.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: That was one sample of what we heard. I also talked to another woman who said that she absolutely booed but she said she was not booing Mitt Romney, she was booing his agenda. Vice president Joe Biden will be coming in here later on this morning. The president is not coming to the NAACP. The White House says he has a scheduling conflict and that's why Joe Biden is here.

But, Soledad, I have to tell you, if Romney's aim yesterday was exciting the conservative base with that speech he gave to the NAACP, he may have also excited the liberal base of the Democratic Party or at least African-American voters, because I think this crowd will give Joe Biden a warm response when he gets into this hall later on this morning.

As for Mitt Romney, later on today talking about speaking to your base, he is going to be holding a fundraiser in Wyoming with none other than Dick Cheney. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Jim Acosta for us this morning. Thank you. I should mention in a few minutes we'll be speaking with Florida's lieutenant governor Jennifer Carroll, the first African-American elected statewide in the state of Florida.

But other headlines first. Christine Romans has a look at those for us. Good morning, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Joe Paterno's legacy and reputation of a beloved university hanging in the balance today. In less than two hours former FBI chief Louie Freeh will release his report commissioned by Penn State University on the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. It will detail whether the head coach and school administrators could have done more. Yesterday a seven month old letter surfaced from the late Joe Paterno in which he defended the integrity of Penn State saying, quote, "This is not a football scandal." A live report on what to expect inside the Freeh report coming up in less than ten minutes. Florida's state attorney plans to release FBI reports later today that could explain whether race played a role in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. It includes federal interviews with more than 30 people including members of the Sanford police department and friends of shooting suspect George Aimmerman. We're also expecting details of e-mail exchanges between Zimmerman and fired Sanford police chief Bill lee. Florida A&M university looking for a new president.

James Amans is stepping down after five years in the wake of the hazing scandal. He announced it the same day the parents of a student who died after being hazed to a wrongful death lawsuit. Champion was beaten by fellow members of the university's marching band during a hazes ritual on the band's bus last November.

Mississippi's only remaining abortion clinic getting a retrieve. They ruled the clinic can stay open until he reviews how the state department of health will administer a new abortion law that provides providers to be OB-GYNs and have patient admitting privileges at local hospitals.

A Connecticut group home employee is put on leave without pay after she was caught on tape physically abusing a disabled and defenseless adult. Warning -- the video we're about to show is hard to watch. The caretaker was caught cooking the woman in the gut, whipping her with a belt, dragging her by her hair. The victim suffers from an intellectual disorder. State staff went to check on other people and found no other signs of abuse. They're trying to find out who shot the video. That person could face charges, too.

The medical mystery surrounding Jesse Jackson junior's absence from Congress may have been solved at least partly. Jackson's office says he is receiving intensive treatment for a, quote, mood disorder. The statement released quotes an unnamed doctor saying Jackson is responding well to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery. The Illinois democrat has been missing from Capitol Hill since May. Last month they announced he was taking a medical leave. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: All right, Christine, thank you for the update.

Let's get back to our top story. Vice president Joe Biden is going to be addressing the NAACP today. It is one day after Mitt Romney was booed there over his health care comments. We to want get down to Florida's Republican lieutenant governor Jennifer Carroll. She is the first African-American elect to state office in the state of Florida. Thanks for being with us this morning. We certainly appreciate it.

LT. GOV. JENNIFER CARROLL, (R) FLORIDA: Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: Our pleasure. Did you attend the NAACP convention?

CARROLL: I did, and it was absolutely wonderful, although governor Romney received some boos, he received a number of applause for the policies that he plans to bringing forward.

O'BRIEN: So we'll play a couple of chunks of that, the booing and the cheering. Let's start with booing, though. He talked about eliminating every non-essential expensive program. Let's play a piece of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(BOOS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That's the booing that followed. How does that play into how his overall speech went? How would you rate it? I know there was some clapping, some booing, but overall how did it go?

CARROLL: I think overall he was well received. And the booing came from when he expressed about getting rid of Obama care, but he also followed on by saying that he will do additional things to reduce the cost of health care. And I think once he explained that afterwards, the audience was a little more receptive, oh, you're not just going to get rid of it, you will do something and put in place that will be affordable to us.

The thing about it is that individuals say why did he say Obama care? If he says that in other speeches, he should not placate and say something differently to this audience. And one thing I appreciated with Governor Romney is his honesty and his candor and that he did not sway from how he would speak to other audience that he spoke to this audience.

O'BRIEN: Some people said that's intentional and calculated. Here is a little bit of Nancy Pelosi talking about Governor Romney's speech. Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I think it was a calculated move on his part to get booed at the NAACP convention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: In fact, the former governor himself said he expected to get booed, meaning he went in knowing he wasn't going to grab the hearts and minds of the audience he was talking to. Is there some kind of strategy in this presentation to the NAACP?

CARROLL: You know, it is amazing. If he didn't go, he will get ostracized for that. And he went and he faced an audience that typically doesn't vote for Republicans and in the last election the Republican candidate received less than 10 percent of the African- American vote.

But one great thing is Mitt Romney was not afraid to go into an audience that does not support him at least knowing that from the on set and also recognizing that he cannot ignore them either because they're a great voting block and they are constituents and she are voters and residents in this country. If he is fortunate to be elected president, he needs to represent all people. So therefore he cannot excuse not going to any audience to address them and particularly their issues. He brought up education. He brought up poverty. He brought up about jobs and the economy and fixing the dilapidated conditions that is exist if urban areas, and I commend him for that.

O'BRIEN: And education as well and I should add to the long list there. He was speaking in Montana to 150 donors and told them he thought the booing was OK. And here is what he said talking about the folks speaking to the folks at the NAACP. "When I mentioned I am going to get rid of Obama care, they weren't happy. That's OK. I want people to know what I stand for and if I don't stand for what they want, go vote for someone else. I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this -- if they want more stuff from the government, tell them to vote for the other guy, more free stuff. Don't forget, nothing is really free. It has to be paid for by people in the private sector." I don't know what he means by free stuff there. Will you elaborate? What does that mean free stuff from the government?

CARROLL: Since I was not there to hear what he said, he would venture to think that he is letting people know that although it is assumed that health care would be free, it is not free. Someone has to pay for it. Whether it is a chunk of the middle class or upper class or however the situation arises, it has to be paid. And that's probably what he is going to.

But going back to your comment with regards to it being expected to be booed -- if you go into any situation where you don't have the majority of support from the people, that is an expectation. If he expected differently, then he would be fooling himself. But again, going back to his candor and his honesty and his willingness to let this audience know I am not going to ignore you because your issues are too grave, your community is hurting, and the statistics that are continuing to occur in your neighborhoods are not healthy for sustainable prosperity for your families and I want to do something about it. I commend him for that.

O'BRIEN: So there is other free stuff that people often talk about when they talk about the government giving free stuff. They talk about welfare and they talk about food stamps and I know you know that more white people than black people are on food stamps and more white people than black people are getting welfare.

But I am curious about corporate welfare. I mean, free stuff comes from the government for corporations, too. And I assume that that actually is the group that Mitt Romney is appealing to. There are all sorts of free things that corporations get, so when he says if you don't like free stuff from the government, go vote for the other guy, doesn't corporate welfare fall under that, tax breaks for corporations?

CARROLL: I think the governor has also addressed that in other forms where he addressed for the loopholes for some of these corporations that we need to close those loopholes as well. I think the bottom line is for us to turn the economy around so that individuals can have a good quality job to have the income that's necessary to take care of their families, to plan for future, and for their hard-earned monies to go into their pockets and not to go out the door to the government.

O'BRIEN: Lieutenant governor, thank you for joining us this morning. Thank you for being with us. We certainly appreciate your time.

CARROLL: I appreciate you.

O'BRIEN: Thanks.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, what really happened in Happy Valley? A report on the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal is due out. We're expecting to get it in less than two hours. We'll tell you what it could mean for Penn State and the get real this morning, Team USA's uniforms aren't from the USA. Huh?

A shark tired of doing his own hunting does this, snags a fish right off a woman's line. We had to bleep a lot of the reaction. We'll tell you what happened. That's ahead on STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Minding your business this morning, the government settlement over foreclosure fraud is now clearing the way for more foreclosures. Foreclosures jumped nine percent in the second quarter, more than one million homes had foreclosure filings in the first half of the year.

The Federal Reserve may consider a new round of stimulus. Officials say they're worried about risks to the American economy because of the Eurozone debt crisis, a slowdown in China's economy and the possibility of spending cuts and tax increases set to go into effect here in the U.S. at the end of the year. Markets, stock markets down because the fed did not commit to taking any new additional steps to boost growth right now, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Christine, thank you very much. In less than two hours we'll find out more about what Penn State knew about the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. At 9:00 a.m. eastern and the former FBI chief will release an online report that will likely describe just what the university administrators did when they were told about the incident and an incident involving Sandusky and a young boy on Penn State grounds.

Susan Candiotti is live for us in Philadelphia this morning, and also I have Ken Feinberg in the studio joining "starting point" this morning because Penn State of course called him a year ago and asked him how to set up a program and secure funding for the trial and more but I want you to start for us. Talk about this report. How detailed is it expected to be? What will it focus on? What was the scope of the investigation?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it is supposed to be, Soledad, up to about 200 pages long and Louie Freeh said from the beginning there will be no holds barred and no one would be immune from getting a serious look on this. We do expect to find out what top Penn State officials knew and what they did about it. Did they follow their own procedures that they had in place when they found about allegations involving misconduct, or misconduct potentially involving children? Was there a cover-up or was there simply a culture in that side, that community, to simply look the other way? Remember, publicly we heard from top Penn State officials they were only told about inappropriate conduct involving Jerry Sandusky, just horseplay, but remember we also know from coach Joe Paterno's sworn testimony that he said he was told about fondling and something of a sexual nature.

So if it was just inappropriate or horseplay, why is it as CNN has read in purported e-mails that Penn State officials were worried about being vulnerable or possibly not and they didn't report it to any outside authorities, all good questions that we expect to be addressed in some way, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: I have to imagine there will be some focus on what exactly Joe Paterno knew. And his family has a statement that they put out. They say this. "Joe Paterno did not cover up for Jerry Sandusky. Joe Paterno did not know that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile. Joe Paterno did not act in any way to prevent a proper investigation of Jerry Sandusky. To claim otherwise is a distortion of the truth." He wrote an op-ed about seven months ago before he died obviously and said focus on it was really focused on the legacy of the football program and the school. Tell me a little bit about that.

CANDIOTTI: That's right. He wrote this just after the scandal broke and this was meant to be an op-ed piece but according to family spokes people and in the rush of event it is never got published. It was sent to some former football players and then came out just yesterday, and here is an excerpt from it. It says, quote, "This is not a football scandal and should not be treated as one. It is not an academic scandal and does not in any way tarnish the hard-earned and well-deserved academic reputation of Penn State."

But will there be fallout from Penn State? That's the question. In the audience today we expect to see attorneys for the victims, some of them said they would be here, these attorneys, and they're looking for of course ammunition for their expected lawsuits against Penn State.

O'BRIEN: Fallout, I guess, is fair to say what Ken Feinberg focuses on. How do you? You were called in a year ago to try to figure out how to set up a fund around the trial, part of your job, and has been for many years is navigating the financial compensation in a disaster. I think this would qualify as a kind of disaster.

KEN FEINBERG, AUTHOR, "WHO GETS WHAT": I just had one conversation with Penn State. They called and just asked 9/11 and BP and Virginia tech.

O'BRIEN: All of those other stories. FEINBERG: All of those other stories, how do you set up a program? What are the parameters? Who is eligible? Who is funding the program? What are the rights and obligations of a claimant? What are the proof requirements? Sexual abuse, I mean, assuming Penn State wants to do the right thing, you announce a compensation program and you will get scores, hundreds, thousands of people who will see there is a compensation program available, file a claim. And BP, in 18 months, we received over 1 million claims from 50 states and 35 foreign countries. You build these programs, they will come.

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see what they do. Susan Candiotti, we thank you for your reporting and we'll continue to check in with you throughout the morning on this. Ken Feinberg has written a new book. We'll talk with him later this morning about how you do navigate the ground between compensating people for something horrible that's happened in their life. It is a fascinating book.

We have to take a short break. Still ahead on STARTING POINT, the video of San Diego's epic fireworks fail has now been viewed millions of times on YouTube and even better, a video of the incredible display. Plus team USA is heading to the Olympics in Ralph Lauren stylish outfits. The only problem, they weren't made by team USA. That's our get real. The rest of the team is heading in. Abby Huntsman joining me. Look at you rocking those shorts. My playlist, Marvin Sapp. We need you right now. We're going to take a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. This morning's team and Ken Feinberg, the author of a new book who gets what which really at the end of the day is what you do as a job. You are the guy who is responsible for giving out the money after a disaster and a tragedy. He will talk about the BP oil spill, obviously 9/11, Virginia tech as well. And I didn't realize that it all started with Agent Orange in the late 1980s and we'll talk about his book in a few minutes. Abby Huntsman is rocking cute shorts. Twitter is afire on that.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Will wasn't wearing shorts today. I am shocked.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'll wear anything you want.

O'BRIEN: Not at all. Not even for a minute. And Will Cain is a columnist for TheBlaze.com. Get real. Team USA is going to the summer Olympics in London. They have these uniforms from Ralph Lauren blazers, berets, red, white and blue and they're not made in America. Every single clothing label says made in China. This comes from ABC News report that got a look and apparently they're tough hard hitting investigation was to look at the label and it is made in China. The U.S. Olympic committee says this, "U.S. Olympic team is privately funded and we're grateful for the support of our sponsors and proud of our partnership with Ralph Lauren, an iconic American company," a quote that sort of says absolutely nothing if you think about it. How do you feel about this? CAIN: I am not too offended the fact that the uniforms weren't made in America. The bottom line is we don't make clothes that much anymore. I know you can find companies made in the United States that manufacture clothing but we don't do it anymore.

O'BRIEN: You could find a clothing manufacturer and like it is going to be a blazer and beret.

CAIN: And others are pointing out they really have them pick the American style icon of a beret.

O'BRIEN: What? Also that. That might be tomorrow's get real. Today we're talking about made in America. I know.

HUNTSMAN: Have you ever seen made in America when you buy your clothes? I can't remember I saw a tag on my clothes that said made in America.

O'BRIEN: The designer said that she really was -- she said why not just have pride in American athletes? Why in American manufacturers, too, and laborers who are the backbone of the country. I thought she had a good point.

FEINBERG: I think it is all tied up to the sponsorship. Sounds like they have an ongoing deal with Ralph Lauren. Ralph Lauren is funding this and other things so I think it is part of a subsidization of the whole Olympic program.

HUNTSMAN: What will be made in America is speed-o and Nike and American made suits.

O'BRIEN: Fine, fine, but I am a little outraged. Still ahead on STARTING POINT, the woman that got away, a close encounter with a shark. Have you seen that? That is right off the pier. She is fishing and the shark decides to steal the fish.

Also, the family of Yasser Arafat is officially accusing Israel of poisoning him. The new evidence they're pointing to is just ahead. We'll take a short break. We're back in a moment. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Coming up in just a few minutes, we're going to get to Roland Martin. He is live at the NAACP Convention in Houston and talk a little bit about the fallout of Mitt Romney's speech about health care there.

First though, I want to get right to Christine Romans for a look at the day's top stories. Hi, Christine. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. The family of Yasser Arafat now officially accusing Israel of killing him. His nephew telling the AFP that Israel poisoned the late Palestinian leader with Polonium. The lethal radioactive substance was found on his clothing. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has given final approval to dig up Arafat's remains to investigate. Israeli officials have denied the charges.

Syria's ambassador to Iraq has defected. Noah Feres appealing to his country's military stop killing its fathers, sons and sisters. He says he is joining the Syrian opposition.

Feres became the highest ranking member of the Assad regime to leave. Just last week, a brigadier general and a close ally of President Assad also defected.

And extreme weather alert now, dry storms and intense heat plaguing the west coast and it could ignite new wildfires. Let's get the latest from meteorologist, Rob Marciano. Good morning, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine. Yes, the little front moving across the west coast and will probably throw up some thunderstorms. Not a ton of moisture with this so some of this could be dry, especially across Nevada and parts of Western Idaho and in the Eastern Oregon.

Thunderstorms and wind gusts on top of that, 40 to 50 miles an hour. This is on top of the heat that this area has been enduring. Temperatures a little bit cooler across the desert southwest today, but the further north you go in places like Reno and Boise could see temperatures above 15 degrees above average and all the way to the Canadian border.

Down to the south, the other big story is the rainfall that is going to fire up along this frontal boundary, especially south where there is the most amount of moisture and seeing it right now in Houston. Heavy thunderstorms across Houston metroplex, very slow movers and ground stop at Houston Intercontinental.

So if you're traveling through that airport and probably having to, it's going to be a slow go. Rainfall is 2 plus inches per hour. Flash flood warning for the Houston metro area especially north and west of town.

Temperatures in Chicago 90 and 88 degrees in New York City, not a bad day actually from D.C. up to Boston. Christine, back up to you.

ROMANS: Thanks, Rob. In your "A.M House Call," a gene that causes early onset Alzheimer's could carry a mutation that produces the opposite effect preventing Alzheimer's.

Mutations are rare, but researchers say it could help doctors develop future treatments. Five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease. The findings are published in the journal, "Nature."

It really is an emergency. A new report says most Medicaid patients visit the emergency room for urgent or serious issues despite the perception that they're driving up costs by going to the ER for routine care. The report is from the Center for Studying Health System Change.

They had great seats for a 20-second show. New, close up, high-def, deafening video posted on YouTube of the July 4th San Diego fireworks fail. A computer glitch caused all of the city's fireworks to go off all at once, 20 minutes worth in just over 20 seconds.

A woman fishing off a dock in South Carolina reeling in a fish when another comes along, another very big fish.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is all mine. It is all mine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Just about to land it in the net when a huge bull shark swooped in and stole it. You would be cursing or cheering, too. I am not sure. I don't know what's more entertaining, the audio or the video of that.

O'BRIEN: It was shrieking. Wow. That's pretty amazing. Let's watch it again. Come on, you're killing me. That was amazing.

ROMANS: Very good stuff.

O'BRIEN: Loved it. All right, thanks, Christine. Appreciate. There it is. Watch again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is all mine, it is all mine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a shark.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Let's move on. As we have been telling you this morning, Vice President Joe Biden is going to be addressing members of the NAACP today at the group's yearly conference, which is taking place in Houston, Texas.

He is appearing one day after Mitt Romney's speech was booed in parts there and booed specifically when he promised he would be repealing the health care law. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am going to eliminate every non-special expensive program I can find that includes Obamacare and I am going to work to reform and save --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That's a long 15 seconds when you get booed. I'll tell you that. He gaining favor at the annual event is obviously a challenge for any Republican nominee. It could be a problem for President Obama as well. His decision not to appear at the conference could come with its own backlash this November.

Let's get right to CNN's contributor, Roland Martin. He's been covering the event all week. Before we talk about President Obama and his not showing up at the convention, let's talk a little about Mitt Romney yesterday.

We heard some booing obviously when he talked about Obamacare. I know that at the end there was half the crowd roughly apparently stood to cheer. How overall would you say was the reception for him?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I won't say they stood and cheer. In fact, when he came out half the room stood up, applauded him, being polite, half didn't and the same thing happened when it was all over.

There were certainly moments during his speech where he did get some applause. When he talked about the importance of family and how he was going to make that a priority of his administration and then when he says he was going to defend traditional marriage.

Also when he talked about education, allocating federal dollars to each student, allowing parents to send their kids to any school they want to saying that kids should not be stuck in low performing schools.

So that's where he got a lot of the applause lines on, but certainly when he began to criticize the president, when he talked about health care and also what was interesting, Soledad.

When he made this comment about, you know, who -- frankly, who would do more for African-Americans as president and I am your guy, pretty much folks started laughing when he made that comment.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little about after the speech. He was in Montana talking to donors, and he said this. When I mentioned I am going to get rid of Obamacare, they weren't happy. That's OK. I want people to know what I stand for. If I don't stand for what they want, go vote for somebody else.

But I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this. If they want more stuff from the government, tell them to go vote for the other guy, more free stuff.

But don't forget, nothing is really free. It has to be paid for by people in the private sector. When I spoke to the lieutenant governor of Florida a little bit earlier this morning, she said, listen, he is being consistent in his message across the board. What do you think he is saying there?

MARTIN: I think he is using coded language when he uses they and free. We've seen that happened before with Republicans. Here is the point, I would also raise. A lot of people in the room yesterday, Soledad, they also work in the private sector. They also are small business owners. In fact, African-American women have the fastest rate of small business owners in this country.

So who is he talking about when it comes to they? Also, look at corporate welfare. I remember when General Collin Powell spoke at the Republican Convention in Philadelphia in 2000 and he said don't criticize free stuff or welfare, but he said nothing about corporate welfare.

So I would love to hear Mitt Romney talk about the freebies we give his corporate buddies in the private sector and say let's get rid of those as well. I doubt he will be saying that.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm sorry, Roland. It is Will, just so I am clear, you're saying he is using the term they and free as code for what?

MARTIN: No, what I am saying is when he is they, when talking about and free, I am saying that has been coded language that we have heard before.

CAIN: Coded for what?

MARTIN: Excuse me, I am going to make the point, from Republican candidates speaking of either poor people, speaking of African- Americans. We can talk about I remember the image of the welfare queen going back to the '80s, what that looked like.

And this morning on the morning show I interviewed Sophia Nelson who was a GOP general counsel, long time Republican and she also said this is one of the problems Republicans do, using certain language speaking of certain groups. That's what I'm saying.

O'BRIEN: Well, I will say, Will, you and I have had this conversation about the dog whistle. You like to say that there are these conversations that you think I can hear that you can't hear and they go by you and we have had that. I call that actually an out and out fight at times.

CAIN: You and me fighting?

O'BRIEN: Never, never, disagreement. Anyway, I want to ask you a question, Roland, before I let you go about President Obama. He is not going to be talking to the audience at the NAACP today. Joe Biden will be giving a speech today. Do you think there is going to be backlash for the president on that?

MARTIN: There will not be backlash in terms of I think at the polls, but I can tell you now I talked to a number of people, board members as well as just regular attendees and delegates who definitely are not happy the president is not there.

This is the third consecutive year the president has not spoken to the NAACP. He did speak in 2009 for the 100th anniversary. He is going to be speaking to the National Urban League, but they certainly believe that with voter suppression being a critical issue out there.

With the NAACP focusing on social justice, the president should be there. Of course, AG -- Attorney General Eric Holder was there on Tuesday, but, look, I've heard it. I have heard it talked about on social media.

Some people say, he is busy, he really doesn't have to go and others say, you know what, if you are going to the human rights campaign, you're going to the Latino elected officials, you've gone to other groups. This is an important constituency in a tough, close election he should be there.

O'BRIEN: And Mitt Romney said, if I am elected I will be here next year talking to you again.

MARTIN: Yes, but I am sure if he comes next year maybe he will talk about free stuff if he comes next year.

O'BRIEN: All right, Roland, thank you for the update. Appreciate it.

Going to take a short break. Still ahead this morning, putting a price on tragedy from 9/11 to the Gulf oil disaster, it is something that Ken Feinberg knows all too well.

We are going to talk about his book, which is called, "Who Gets What." Because that literally is his job in these types of disasters (inaudible) who gets what.

Plus if President Lincoln had survived, would honest Abe have been impeached? A Yale professor imagines that history in a new book. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Ken Feinberg was trained as a lawyer and a policymaker, but he spent his career compensating people for some of the biggest tragedies of our time.

He has worked with thousands of people, Vietnam vets, who were sickened by Agent Orange, victims affected by September 11th, witnesses of the Virginia Tech massacre, executives from companies who received TARP money and Americans who lost their savings in the Gulf BP oil spill.

He has had to determine how to value a livelihood and a life and his new book is called "Who Gets what," talks about the ups and downs of the job. It's nice to have you talking about your book.

Last time you were on we talked about this am coming out. I am glad you're able to come back. What is your job like? I mean, you run in after a tragedy and you are the guy with the calculator, right?

You basically have to figure out how much a life was worth, how much a career was worth, how much a livelihood is worth around people who are upset and crying and emotional. How do you navigate that? KEN FEINBERG, AUTHOR, "WHO GETS WHAT": First of all, the other people, policymakers, Congress, President Obama, President Bush, they decide there ought to be such a program.

Then when I come in to try and set up a program, the number one problem you confront as you just point out is emotion. People are angry. They feel wronged. They're innocent victims.

The challenge is to design a program that vulnerable people believe will compensate them in a manner that will at least some way replace the loss they have suffered.

O'BRIEN: What's the equation? Is there a math equation, a human life is worth X?

FEINBERG: Every day as you know, Soledad, in every court in our country, city, village, hamlet, judges and juries do that every day. What would the victim have earned, but for the death of the injury? How much pain? How much suffering?

Judges and juries do it all the time. My challenge is everybody knows about the program, so it is not just one off, one person in a rural courtroom. It is everybody gathered together and everybody counts other people's money.

That is a human trait. Not just what am I getting, what is my next door neighbor getting? How much am I getting compensated? Why is my next door neighbor getting more? That is always going to be an emotional challenge to try and overcome.

O'BRIEN: Agent Orange was the first one. You described going back between the two groups, the sort of negotiating and kind of lying is a strong word, maybe being a little bit what's the word, deceitful about sort of what -- you said to the companies, you cannot win and basically vilify veterans.

You said to the vets, you cannot win. There's no proof. You're not going to win. You told both sides you are not going to win so that you can navigate sort of settlement. Is that sort of the role, the model of how it usually goes?

FEINBERG: Well, that's in one case, the uncertainty of litigation, the cost of litigation, how long it will take. You don't know how it will end. Here is an opportunity. Step back. Self help.

Voluntarily resolve it yourself. In 9/11 or in the BP oil spill, you can go the other route. You can hire a lawyer. You can file a lawsuit.

In 18 months in BP as you know, we distributed over $6.5 billion to 220,000 people, before the first trial was even set up, and that very success is what poses problems because expectations increases. And everybody feels they ought to have a program like this as well.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, HOST, HUFFPOST LIVE: Is it difficult to not get emotionally involved in some of these cases? What was the hardest one for you and why?

FEINBERG: Well, in the book, I talk about all these emotional cases. You can't help but be affected by victims. One lady came to see me and said, I want the money from 9/11 right away.

I lost my husband at the World Trade Center. He was a fireman. I have two children that he left me with, and now he's going and I need the money within a couple of weeks.

And I said, well, why do you need it so quickly? We'll get it to you. I have terminal cancer. My husband was going to survive me and take care of our two children.

Now they are going to are orphans and I have only eight to 10 weeks to live. Get me the money, please, Mr. Feinberg. We got her the compensation and 10 weeks later, she was gone.

O'BRIEN: My goodness, the book is called "Who Gets What," and it's a fascinating read for some of your biggest challenges. The BP oil spill you say was one of the toughest ones just emotionally and really having to overpromise things to people.

FEINBERG: The volume of claims in BP. We received in 18 months over 1 million claims from 50 states and 35 foreign countries.

O'BRIEN: Ken Feinberg, thank you. The book is great.

FEINBERG: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: I would recommend it.

Still ahead, imagine this. Abraham Lincoln survives his assassination attempt. He is impeached. It's a plot of a new novel that asked what if. We're going to talk to that author up next.

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ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. A couple of quick headlines, a military court hearing scheduled today in the case of accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nadal Hasan to clear up questions about the jury screening process.

Hasan, an American-born Muslim faces the death penalty. He is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in November 2009.

Calls for D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray to resign after revelations in federal court that his election was aided by a shadow campaign. A campaign aide admitted she helped a local businessman spend $650,000 to support Gray and none of the money was reported -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: To many, Abraham Lincoln is one of the greatest presidents who ever lived regardless of party affiliation. But what if he had not been assassinated and after the civil war his fellow Republicans didn't like how he was handling the nation? Could he have been the first sitting U.S. president to be impeached? That's the idea explored in a new novel. It's called "The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln." The author is Stephen Carter who's also a professor at Yale's School of Law.

It's nice to have you. This is such a page turner. I mean, it really is sort of a mystery, whodunit that ends with like crazy sleuthing.

Why would you want to start with the question of if Lincoln had survived, what would have happened next? Why was that intriguing to you?

STEPHEN CARTER, AUTHOR, "THE IMPEACHMENT OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN": Well, I should make clear, first of all that I'm a great Lincoln fan. I'm not anti-Lincoln. I don't think he should have been impeached. I'm not even saying he would have been impeached.

But as a fictional premise, the notion that he might have been fascinated me. In part because there were so many things that Lincoln did that we don't think about that had they come up, had people wanted to argue about them.

Suspending habeas corpus, arresting reporters who wrote unfavorable stories, things like that, it's fascinating to think what kind of arguments we could have had if people had debated those things at the time.

O'BRIEN: I was surprised, I mean, you know, in the lore of what you read about President Lincoln, you don't realize that he declared Marshall Law and suspended habeas corpus as you point out.

That he locked up people who were critical of the war. That he shut down opposition newspapers. That he often just ignored court orders altogether. That was pretty stunning, you know, as a person who obviously is not an expert in Lincoln.

CARTER: Lincoln did all of those things, but his argument for doing them is it was necessary to win the war. In Lincoln's view, the United States was threatened.

If the war was lost, the south was lost, slavery would continue, and the United States would be broken in two. And he argued they shouldn't be forced to comply with some particular law in order -- if that was going to retard the greater cause of defeating the south.

O'BRIEN: Doesn't everybody always argue that, there's a greater cause they are fighting for? Why do you think people turn a blind eye to what he has done there or did then?

Is it just because ultimately it was successful, or was it because ultimately it's overshadowed by ending slavery? Or is it because ultimately, you know, he just was able -- he was assassinated, and we know that's sort of the narrative that we follow?

CARTER: Today, we look back at Lincoln with the eyes of history and history has a way of softening the edges of these moments. So we look at him as the great emancipator. He won the war. He did many wonderful things.

But at the same time, it's important to recognize there are some hard edges. There was a side of Lincoln, this determination to win, for which he was willing to sweep everything else away.

Now it is you know very commonly, we yell this president or that president should be impeached. He did this or that. We forget that the things that Lincoln did.

And again, I'd say this is Lincoln supporter, but the things that Lincoln did were far more serious than a lot of what we see today.

O'BRIEN: Do you think he would have been impeached?

CARTER: I certainly hope not. I think he was our greatest president. I think he deserves that, but designing a thriller, a courtroom drama around that, that was a lot of fun.

O'BRIEN: OK, and what a thriller it is. I'm going to read a little bit. You're going to kill us anyway, said Jonathan. I'm going to kill you a lot more slowly if you don't give me the list.

Without warning, he stabbed Abigail in the hand. Abigail is the black female attorney protagonist. Why pick and shape that character who really doesn't exist in real life at that time, a black woman who's an attorney who is going to be representing Lincoln?

CARTER: Abigail, the protagonist, as you say, most of the stories told from her point of view. She's 21 years old. She is just out of college. She wants to be a lawyer. She has this crazy idea.

At that time, there were no female lawyers in the United States. There were probably only six or eight black lawyers in the United States. I wanted someone who was an outsider, who was ambitious, who people could identify with.

And I'm thinking, you know, I'm an outsider. I'm upwardly mobile. I face some of the same barriers. So at the same time, she is trying to solve a mystery and protect a president from impeachment, she is also trying to break down various barriers both on the base of race and sex that are holding her back.

O'BRIEN: It's a page turner, violence, crime, intrigue. It's called "The Impeachment Of Abraham Lincoln," a novel by Stephen Carter. It's so nice to have you. Thank you very much.

CARTER: It's a pleasure. Thank you so much.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, a feisty confrontation between Robert Blake and our own Piers Morgan. Did you see this last night? Completely out of control. We're going to share some of it with you. Also, sexual exploits, obsessions, and a financial wizard who studied economics talking about a new book that digs into the life of Mick Jagger. The author is going to join us up next. You're watching STARTING POINT.

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