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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Olympics Continue; Interview with Olympian Paul Hamm; Psychiatrist Issued Warning about James Holmes; Secret Support For Syrian Opposition; Possible Peterson Mistrial; Changing The Way We Treat Cancer; Mayor Stuck In the Air; Romney's VP Bus Tour?; Watching The Veepstakes; Flocking To Chick-Fil-A; Up Close At The Olympics

Aired August 2, 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: Welcome. Our starting point is that frightening close call in the skies. The FAA saying that three commuter jets came within seconds of a mid-air collision, happened at Reagan National Airport after confused air traffic controllers dealing with bad weather launched two flights as another plane that at the same time was trying to land. You can listen to the confusion on the radio at the time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were cleared at the river back there. What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stand by. We're trying to figure this out, too. Stand by.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Approved as requested. You said route three to zone five.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to get on the ground pretty quick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody stand by. We have a couple of opposite direction arrivals. It is going to be a little delay on your departures.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: According to the "Washington Post" the federal official who reviewed the incident blamed a basic communication breakdown, blamed sloppy procedures, and said it was a big screw up for a big airport. Let's get right to Athena Jones live for us in Washington, D.C. this morning. Walk me through exactly what happened. You can hear the chaos in the radio transmission. What was at the root cause of it?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. You saw from that graphic, that's what it looked like. This happened just about after 2:00 p.m. Tuesday. It was during a heavy rain storm, driving rain that cause the air traffic controllers to want to change how planes were coming in and taking off. Planes had been landing and departing on runway 1 going from south to north. They wanted to switch that in the rain. They wanted to switch that to another runway and have the planes land and depart from north to south.

The problem is they failed to communicate the changes to all of the parties that need to be involved here and so you had an instance where the planes ended up -- one of the planes was half as far away as it should normally be from the incoming plane. The other was a little bit further away in terms of nautical miles but still a scary situation.

Here is what the FAA had to say as part of the statement. During the switch over of operations miscommunication between the track on and the DCA tower led to a loss of the required separation between two regional jets departing. The FAA is investigating the incident and will take appropriate action to address the miscommunication. So we're talking about the standard separation being three nautical miles and about 1,000 feet. As I mentioned one of though planes, the first plane was only 500 feet vertical from the oncoming plane and about 1.5 nautical miles, and the second a little further. These huge planes, very, very fast speeds, scary stuff, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: At the same time you had the transmission from the pilot that talks about his concerns about fuel because you can hear in the chaos the general gist is let's keep everybody circling while we try to figure it out, and he said we don't have fuel for that.

JONES: Exactly. It is very interesting when you listen to the recording. Hearing them say we're still trying to figure this out and they had a plane coming in having to divert and that's what they're talking about wanting to know what's going on. And of course so do we, so we'll continue to look into this.

O'BRIEN: Athena Jones is following that for us. Thank you for the update. Appreciate it.

Other stories making news. Christine Romans has a look at those. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Sources tell CNN President Obama has signed a covert order authorizing U.S. support for Syria's opposition forces. The directive allows clandestine action by the CIA and other agencies, but it's not clear what type of support has been authorized or when the order was signed. CNN National Security contributor Fran Townsend telling our Anderson Cooper she believes the U.S. needs to move with more urgency in Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: The longer by wait to act, the more radicalized the Syrian population becomes. They have been tortured. They have been abused by their own leader. They will turn to whoever can provide them weapons, food. And if that's Al Qaeda, that's who they'll turn to if they're on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: In the meantime Syrian President Assad is trying to rally his troops. The state run news agency is calling on the forces to restore stability to the country as fighting with rebel troops in Aleppo intensifies.

Six weeks before the aurora movie theater massacre red flags about suspected shooter James Holmes may have been missed. According to CNN affiliate KMGH a psychiatrist was so concerned about Holmes she contacted the university of Colorado's threat assessment team. Dr. Lynne Fenton apparently believed he could be a danger to others. A few days later he dropped out of school and no further action was taken. KMGH's investigative reporter spoke to Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN FERRUGIA, KMGH INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: They thought they had no jurisdiction, no control over him, so there was nothing they could do vis-a-vis this concern that she had. Again, we don't know what the concern was. What we do know is that no one, through our sources and through our reporting we have been told, no one contacted the aurora police department with any of these concerns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Now there are questions about Dr. Fenton and the university and what they knew and whether they were legally obligated to call police with those concerns. Straight ahead we'll talk with a campus security expert.

Water overload, parts of Connecticut battered and soaked after five inches of rain came down in just a few hours yesterday. This storm triggered flash floods and evacuated apartment buildings, buckled roads, and left a truck dangling over the edge.

The tropics have reawakened and rob is watching a depression that could become the hurricane season's fifth named tropical storm. Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Christine. About a month since we had the early start, the quick start to hurricane season, tropical depression 35 miles per hour winds and 500 miles east of Barbados. St. Lucia under a tropical storm watch as it makes its way in that direction. It is poorly organized at this point and pretty strong headwinds it is up against. We don't expect it to blow up in intensity. The forecast track is concerning for everybody who is in the Caribbean, Central America, and the Gulf of Mexico and potentially that general direction by the beginning of next week. Right now national hurricane center keeping it at a tropical storm, but we're not there yet. The name will be Ernesto if it is.

ROMANS: Rob Marciano. Thanks, Rob.

Time for round two. Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte set for the final Olympic showdown tonight. They compete for the last time in the 200 meter individual medley tonight in London. The first showdown went to Lochte in the 400 IM. Both of them were cheering for teammate Nathan Adrian who took home gold in a dramatic 100 meter free tile final squeaking by with 1/100th of a second. That was the victory.

Here is the up to date medal count. China taking a one medal lead over the U.S. 30-29 overall, and China has five more gold medals than team USA. Japan is third, Soledad, with 17 medals overall.

O'BRIEN: I love it, so much fun to watch. Christine, thank you.

Two American gymnasts go for another medal tonight. Ali Raisman and Gabby Douglas will compete in the individual all-around after a taste of victory and redemption as well in the men's contest last night. He had a disastrous start. That's Danell, placing 19 after the first two events and rallied in the last two and was able to ultimately claim the bronze medal and move past his collapse. The gold medallist was Japan's Kohei Uchimura followed by Germany and Roscoe was able to save a terrible start and ended up eighth overall. The last time an American man medaled in individual all-around was 2004 when Paul Hamm won gold for the United States. He joins us this morning. Nice to see you. Great to talk to you again. Let's talk about Danell.

PAUL HAMM, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: He is so amazing to watch and has struggled a little bit and was able to redeem himself. Walk me through how that redemption happened.

HAMM: He is a great competitor. He had a mistake on the horse and had the ability to make a comeback and he did that with two great performances on parallel bars and high bar.

O'BRIEN: He talked about what motivated him to turn it around. It is right. You should take a victory lap yourself because you did predict that 48 hours ago and you said -- he said after "I was like, grrr, and I tried to use it and channel it into positive energy," And you told us you had a similar thing in 2004 when you fell on your vault. How do you do that? You see other athletes are unable to turn it around and you have the mental part of it and not able to recover from just being so knocked off their game.

HAMM: It depends on the person. Some people will fall and then they will take that and use it as a positive for the rest of the events. I remember for me back in 2004 after falling I didn't really have anything to lose at that point. I basically went for broke and put everything on the line and did ended up paying off and Danell did a similar thing last night.

O'BRIEN: I was watching closely and I like his story and it has been fun to follow him and he talked about to the "wall street journal," like everything was physically tightening up on him and he said everything was getting bad, worse, and I was praying I would get off and get credit for the dismount and that didn't happen. What's going on with the Pommel horse and American athletes? Is it a ridiculously difficult thing to mast error just bad luck?

HAMM: Pommel horse is an event if you start to let the nerves affect you and tighten up, it can throw you off, and it seemed like John Orozco was allowing the nerves to get to him too much and started to show in his performance.

O'BRIEN: Tonight women is what everybody will be watching, Ali and Gabby, as my daughters like to call them, first name basis with them. The Russians, if you look at the actual listings, is in the lead in terms of where they're placed. What do you think are their chances tonight?

HAMM: I think the favorite is probably Gabby. She has been showing she is hitting all of her teams and her start values are higher than most of the gymnasts in the competition. Right now I think gabby has the best shot. Ali actually edged out Jordyn Wieber the first day which was a surprise as Jordan is the world champion in the all-around. I think at this point we're going to see Gabby have a strong performance and hopefully win gold. We'll cross our fingers on that one.

O'BRIEN: It will be great to watch. You're describing what will be a great competition. Nice to see you assist always. We appreciate your insight. Thank you.

HAMM: You bet.

O'BRIEN: In a little bit we'll talk about extreme Olympic close ups and the CEO of Geddy Images will join us live. We talked about it before the Olympics and now he will come back with the amazing shots and the thrilling moments and share them with us and ahead on starting point help here, yes, that was London's mayor hanging and hanging and hanging. It was a publicity stunt that failed. We'll talk about that.

Plus our get real this morning, you're out of here. It was an amazing ejection in baseball, but it wasn't a player. It wasn't a coach. It was the intern.

Also this morning, were the warning signs ignored? A psychiatrist says she warned the school before James Holmes allegedly walked into a theater and started shooting. We'll talk about that. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back. I'm Christine Romans. "Minding your Business" this morning, a new report says you should have a bigger paycheck coming your way next year. And 98 percent of employers surveyed told mercer they plan to increase salaries by 2.9 percent on average next year. Top performers will say pay increase 4.5 percent. Everyone else with a job will see about a 2.4 percent increase.

U.S. stock futures trading higher ahead of the meeting of European central bank members in Frankfurt today. More pressure on the ECB to do something to take action to burst the Euro area economy. The ECB president Mario Draghi last week said he would do whatever it takes to help the Euro.

Investor confidence in this country taking another hit after an automated stock trade flooded the market with millions of errant trades. Trading volumes surged from the glitch that started with Knight Capital Group. Stocks affected includes back of America, Best Buy, and American Airlines. O'BRIEN: Christine, thank you.

As we mentioned just a few moments ago there is disturbing new information about the events leading up to the shooting massacre at a Colorado movie theater. Denver affiliate KMGH is reporting that the psychiatrist who was treating the suspected gunman James Holmes was concerned that he could be a danger to others or himself, so she contacted her school's behavioral evaluation and threat assessment team. The team apparently never acted on Dr. Fenton's concerns because Holmes was in the process of dropping out of school.

Brett Sokolow is executive director of the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association. Nice to see you. Thank you for talking with us, appreciate it. To trigger the team being notified by the psychiatrist, James Holmes would have to have done something, right? He would have to do something specific, take some specific threats. If that is the case, why was that never translated and transmitted to the police as far as we know?

BRETT SOKOLOW, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION TEAM ASSOCIATION: Good morning, Soledad. I think at this point we know that information may have gotten to this team on CU's campus called the beta. And so the question is whether that information came from Dr. Fenton who was the psychiatrist treating him to the team or originated from some other source and Dr. Fenton, who is a member of the team, was consulted about it.

And so if the information did come from Dr. Fenton to the team, it would have been under a duty to warrant situation or what is referred to a as terror-solve situation where there is an imminent threat to specific individuals by a patient to a mental health provider at which point the provider would notify authorities.

So I am not so sure we were there because there is no evidence we know of at this point that Dr. Fenton notified law enforcement authorities or any specific individuals at risk. She took the information to the team which suggests a possible lower threshold if in fact the information did come from her about Holmes to the beta on the campus.

O'BRIEN: So I guess for me the question is sort of a sense of red flagging, this beta team is interested in protecting obviously everything in and around the university. The bigger question becomes if in fact that process was stopped because Holmes was dropping out of school, what happens to the red flagging to the rest of the greater community? Is there any necessity to involve the police?

SOKOLOW: I think that's the important point here is that if a student is under the attention of a team, has come to their attention, and then decides to withdraw, stops attending classes, drops off the radar screen in some way, that may be a safety factor for the campus and may mean there is a separation and the individual may not impact the campus. But it could also mean it is the separation that is the precipitating factor that puts the campus at risk.

And so one of the things we do is advise teams all over the country that when an individual is separated from the community, either by the school or separates themselves, that still may be an area of monitoring and it still may be an opportunity for continued communication with local resources, including law enforcement entities. So if in fact it happened here, we don't know that it did, but if it did happen here, the team said, well, we just lost jurisdiction over him once he left campus, that probably is a seriously missed opportunity and most teams around the country know that's an opportunity where they really want to be keeping an eye on someone better.

O'BRIEN: One would think would raise a lot of questions about liability ultimately. Brett Sokolow joining us this morning. I have a feeling we'll talk more about this as more information comes out. There is a lot we do not know about this beta team at this point.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, you're done. A guy is tossed from a baseball game over a nursery rhyme. Does that ump need to get real? It is the get real this morning. Heading in to talk about that. Abby Huntsman is with us and Richard Socarides is with us. Here is Abby's playlist. She has the best music.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome everybody. Our team this morning at the far end is a Richard Socarides, a former senior advisor to the Clinton White House. Abby Huntsman is back. Ryan Lizza has been with us all week, the Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker." Nice to have you back. Right near me.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He thinks he is being punished.

O'BRIEN: No, it is an honor to sit next to me.

SOCARIDES: What about me?

O'BRIEN: You're being punished today. I'm kidding, of course

Our get real this morning, this is so funny. Baseball umpires can throw players out and coaches out of the game for all kinds of un- sportsman like behavior if you argue with the ump or say something unprofessional or if you question the call and in a hostile manner. This ump has ejected the D.J. for playing three blind mice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're gone!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just got tossed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn the sound off the rest of the night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. Never mind. (END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: He said you're gone, that's it, turn the sound off the rest of the night. You could see everybody thought they weren't sure who he was referring to. They didn't realize it was the DJ intern whose name is Derek Diaz, as you pointed out. He said the ump will ref tomorrow.

SOCARIDES: And played three blind mice after a questionable car.

RYAN LIZZA, "THE NEW YORKER": It was the instrumental version.

SOCARIDES: Everybody knows that song.

LIZZA: I am just saying.

O'BRIEN: What do you mean in their defense?

SOCARIDES: It is kind of fun. Part of the game is arguing with the ump, arguing about calls.

O'BRIEN: Does the ump have jurisdiction over the staff?

LIZZA: That was the question. They didn't know.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think he has a little insecurity it sounds like, the umpire. If he can't handle an organ playing "Three Blind Mice"? I don't know.

SOCARIDES: It is minor league baseball, right? It is supposed to be fun for the fans and the way to make it fun for the fans is beat up on the ump when he doesn't do what your team likes.

HUNTSMAN: Clearly he wasn't having any part of it.

SOCARIDES: I was going to pick that song today for this morning.

O'BRIEN: "Three Blind Mice"?

SOCARIDES: I was afraid you would kick me out.

O'BRIEN: The get real goes to the umpire. I agree with you.

Still ahead we're awaiting word of Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick. It is any day now. Who is on the short list? Marsha Blackburn, her name has been batted about a bit. She'll join us to talk about that.

And president Obama's secret order to help the Syrian rebels get rid of Bashar al Assad. How far does it go? We'll tell what you the sources are telling us up next. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. We're hearing that the Mitt Romney campaign has told at least two VP shortlisters to stand by for an announcement any day now. We're going to go over the veeps in waiting when Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is our guest in just a few minutes.

Meanwhile, CNN has learned President Obama has secretly authorized American covert support for Syrian rebels in an effort to oust the dictator Bashar Al-Assad.

This as fighting killed nearly 200 people nationwide yesterday and foreign policy experts testified before the Senate urging the Obama administration to increase support of the armed opposition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW TABLER, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: At this point given the direction of the conflict I think that what we need to do is assess, OK, which groups could we arm it and should we arm at what point and make that decision. I think we're at that decision given where the conflict is going.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: And foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labott is live from Washington, D.C. So, Elise, let's start with what that means, the covert support. What specific support is that?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, I think it is exactly what Andre Tabler was talking about, Soledad, and we're not sure really when President Obama signed this intelligence finding, but we assume it is in the last few months.

And what it means is the U.S. is going to use more intelligence assets to find out more about these groups. Now the U.S. isn't arming them, but Saudi Arabia, Qatar, other U.S. allies are.

So U.S. intelligence agencies are vetting these groups and finding out exactly who is in the opposition and giving that type of information to these allies.

They're also looking at troop movements of Assad's troops and trying to pass that along to the opposition. One of the biggest complaints is that the U.S. really doesn't know who is in these groups and whether Jihadists, members of al Qaeda could be involved.

So it involves more kind of on the ground assessment of what's going on using U.S. intelligence assets.

O'BRIEN: The rationale for a lack of support was that the opposition groups were disorganized, chaotic. It wasn't, you know, unclear if they really should arm them or as you point out who was in them. Is this an indication now that the opposition has solidified that maybe they're working together better in concert?

LABOTT: Well, I think that's what the U.S. is hoping to do and they are hoping that this intelligence finding will help them do that. It is providing communications equipment, which we have been reporting on before, commanding control, helping to get these groups under one umbrella so that the U.S. can deal with a set of people who are in charge.

They really don't know right now it is very desperate. There are a lot of groups. What I think the U.S. is trying to do with its allies is to try and get them all under one umbrella.

If you look at the conflict in Libya, the rebels were more organized. They had commanding control. They had leaders and that's one of the biggest problems is the U.S. really doesn't have a very good intelligence assessment of what's going on the ground.

You know, a year ago, President Obama was calling for President Bashar Al-Assad to leave and the U.S. still doesn't really have a big picture of what's going on. It has been dealing with a lot of groups outside the country and now it wants to deal inside.

O'BRIEN: All right, Elise Labott for us this morning. Elise, thanks for the update. Appreciate it.

Let's get right to Christine Romans. She's got a look at the other top stories making news today. Hi, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning again, Soledad.

A trial eight years in the making is now in jeopardy. An angry judge scolding the prosecution in the Drew Peterson murder trial. He is set to rule on a mistrial today after testimony from a prosecution witness who said Peterson, an ex cop, put a bullet in his drive way to intimidate him.

The judge called that a low blow. Peterson was charged with murdering his third wife after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished. Stacy Peterson has never been found.

In today's "A.M. House Call," an exciting discovery by researchers in Texas could change the way doctors fight cancer. After studying mice, scientists of University of Texas South Western Medical Center in Dallas, they have concluded treated tumors return because they're fuelled by stem cells that drugs don't kill.

The discovery of these so-called cancer stem cells would allow researchers to devise new strategies for destroying them. The study confirms what is been long suspected. There are specific stem cells within tumors responsible for their continued growth.

Take a look at this. That is London's Mayor Boris Johnson dangling in the air after taking the inaugural ride down a zip line in Victoria Park to promote the Olympic Games.

He came to a halt 65 feet from the end of the line. He was stuck for 5 minutes waving the British flags before park officials had to come and fetch him.

O'BRIEN: It had a very Monty python feel to it, that whole thing. ROMANS: It did.

O'BRIEN: Is this intentional?

ABBY HUNTSMAN, HOST, "HUFFPOST LIVE": He is the coolest politician to date. That is awesome.

RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: Do you know who is really laughing? Mitt Romney. This is the guy --

O'BRIEN: Yes, yes, turnabout is fair play.

LIZZA: This is disconcerting.

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

Speaking of Mitt Romney, we are expected to soon find out who he is going to be picking as his running mate. ABC News is reporting that at least two potential vice presidential picks are on stand by for a possible announcement any day now.

They report that it could be Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman or Paul Ryan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's great. That's not two. That's three.

O'BRIEN: Two have been notified.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which two?

O'BRIEN: It could be any of the three.

HUNTSMAN: They're playing it safe.

O'BRIEN: Patience. We have been talking about the VP pick for a while. Obviously, he is not ready to say. You know, we have a little bet, a little money on this.

Next week, Mitt Romney is going to head out on a bus tour visiting Virginia and Florida. Sources are telling CNN that venues in Ohio are being scouted as well.

Republican National Convention is all just about three weeks away. It brings us to Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, she is a Republican from Tennessee, serves as House Deputy Whip and also Romney campaign surrogate.

It's nice to see. Thanks for talking to us. Your name has been brought up a bunch of times as well and the whole VP conversation. So were you one of the people who got the stand by warning?

REPRESENTATIVE MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: No, I am not. You know what? I think that we're going to have a wonderful VP choice and everybody is looking forward to know it.

O'BRIEN: Do you know who it is?

BLACKBURN: No, I do not. I don't think anybody, but Mitt Romney knows who that nominee is going to be. We know that Mitt Romney does his homework. He looks at all the details. He does his due diligence, and it is going to be a choice that is perfect for this campaign.

O'BRIEN: Portman or Pawlenty is what we have money on here at the table. What do you think?

BLACKBURN: You know, I don't know. I don't know. There are strengths -- the good thing, Soledad, is we have a very deep bench of Republicans who are qualified, who can step forward, who would be ready to fill that role of president should they need to.

The good thing is the American people are watching this campaign more closely than ever. One of my constituents says people are tired of being broke. People are tired of being out of work. Jobs and the economy are issue number one.

Replacing Obamacare seems to be issue number two on the list, dealing with the federal debt, working on our national security. Those are the issues the American people are talking about and they're bringing forward. Not only to those of us in Congress, but also to our presidential candidate.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the bus tour, which is going to start on August 11th, battleground states Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, all swing states. What specifically is the plan? Because as much as they've talking about it, details are actually few and far between.

BLACKBURN: Yes, and I don't know the details. I don't know exactly what the plan is. I do know this. That the American people are anxious and ready to see Governor Romney out on the campaign trail and talking with them, without a teleprompter.

Talking with them and giving details of what he is going to do to get rid of this 8.2 percent unemployment, to drop this unemployment, to get people back to work, to work with our job creators to make certain that we return to an environment where jobs growth can take place.

Right now, regulation, taxation, litigation, those are the items that are really stifling jobs growth, and it is why we got 19 Democrat votes yesterday to extend the Bush era tax cuts.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: Marsha, hi. It is Richard Socarides. How are you?

BLACKBURN: How are you? I am well.

SOCARIDES: Nice to see you.

BLACKBURN: You, too.

SOCARIDES: I wish you would tell your friend Governor Romney to pick somebody exciting, you know, someone like Marco Rubio who really brings some energy to this and sort of mix it up.

I actually think you also would be a great candidate because for vice president because I know you and I like you. We were on here together. You at least stick to your talking points.

BLACKBURN: Richard, I stick to my principles and my philosophy.

SOCARIDES: I think you would be no problem. If you were the pick, he would have nothing to worry about. You are a likeable person.

O'BRIEN: I imagine you want boring, boring, boring ultimately?

HUNTSMAN: I was going to ask you actually, is there going to be a difference between the three heads we just put up, Pawlenty, Portman, Paul Ryan, I mean, is there really a difference between who he picks out of those three? They all seem to be kind of boring, kind of the same.

O'BRIEN: Ryan I don't think would count as boring.

BLACKBURN: I wouldn't say boring. I think what you're looking at is individuals who are very strong on economic issues. They're individuals who understand the federal budget.

What do people fuss about in Washington? Are people across the country complaining about out of control Washington spending, wasteful Washington spending? A great example is they don't understand why we can't do across the board cuts.

Governor Romney has said one of the first things he is going to do is make across the board spending cuts. Tell these agencies. Put some mandates on these agencies. Say get rid of these.

LIZZA: One choice that's been highlighted I think by the Romney campaign at least in leaks anonymously is Condoleezza Rice. Would you support Condoleezza Rice as vice president if Romney picked her?

BLACKBURN: I think Condoleezza Rice is an exceptional individual and would bring some excitement to any campaign whether she is the candidate or a surrogate. She is somebody who the American people love to listen to.

They respect her. They trust her. The American people want someone who is going to be able to say, look, you know what? I tried this or that or this was a mistake, but you know what, this is what we do.

LIZZA: And the views on abortion wouldn't bother you?

BLACKBURN: I think Condoleezza Rice is somebody who would -- she is a big tent person as I like to say.

O'BRIEN: When I talked to her she said she didn't want the job.

BLACKBURN: That's what I heard also.

O'BRIEN: She said she loves reading the newspaper and saying how interesting, nothing to do with what I am doing today.

BLACKBURN: She is a delightful person. You know, this is just look at the conversation that we're having right here. The individuals, the caliber of individuals that our nominee Mitt Romney has had before him to select as a running mate and each of them pique the American people's interest on different ways.

People love to see what Paul Ryan has done for the budget. They're interested in how Tim Pawlenty took his state, Minnesota, and there a Republican governor is a very Democrat leaning state.

They love what Rob Portman did in dealing with the budget at OMB, the work he has done in the Senate. He has been an excellent surrogate. You talk about Marco Rubio.

LIZZA: You're amazing.

O'BRIEN: The same list for months now.

BLACKBURN: That's what I am saying.

SOCARIDES: Marsha Blackburn is amazing and can just keep going no matter what, talking about it.

BLACKBURN: Richard, we know how to have a conversation.

SOCARIDES: We sure do.

BLACKBURN: And agreeably disagree.

SOCARIDES: We sure do.

BLACKBURN: And be respectful of one --

SOCARIDES: See, she is still going.

O'BRIEN: Musical choices and all bets are off. Congresswoman, nice to see you. Thank you for being with us.

BLACKBURN: Good to see you, Soledad. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: We got to take a break. Still ahead on STARTING POINT, capturing the emotion and that moment when all the hard work pays off, the cutting edge technology behind some of the most memorable photos coming out of London.

And a battle over free speech, equality, free enterprise and chickens. Thousands of people coming out to back Chick-Fil-A. Cities are fighting to keep Chick-Fil-A out.

People in between have to make a decision about what they want to do. Here is Richard's playlist. Michael Jackson's "I Just Can't Stop Loving You."

LIZZA: Dedicated to Marsha Blackburn, I think.

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

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Lots of people flocking to Chick- Fil-A. Fans coming out for a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day that was started by former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, said he wanted to show support for the chain.

And the chain's president who made a very public stance against same sex marriage. Some of the folks bringing their kids and waiting in line for an hour and at the same time there were counter protests to the Appreciation Day chicken sandwich getting.

SOCARIDES: There's going to be a kiss-in on Friday.

O'BRIEN: Taking place tomorrow as well. Here is my question. Who wins and who loses in this both short-term and long-term? Clearly you look at these long lines and I think people would say Chick-Fil-A has been able to rally people around their first amendment right.

LIZZA: In the long run how is it good for this fast food chain? No company wants to polarize the customer base.

O'BRIEN: You want to sell to everybody, right?

LIZZA: They were trying to do their support for what they call traditional marriage, sort of on the sly. It was done through a foundation, weren't being public about it.

And it wasn't like you go to Chick-Fil-A and there were like anti-gay marriage pamphlets there. They don't want this to define the company. You know, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee have turned it into a message.

O'BRIEN: So is it problematic for the Republican Party to take this as a plank and a platform metaphor?

SOCARIDES: I think it is extremely important. I mean, you know, n Chick-Fil-A have had a good day, but long-term this position is much too stride. You know, no company that markets to consumers wants to offend a whole block of people.

But the interesting thing is that eight years ago the Republican Party made gay marriage an issue and helped it win the election. But this year just eight years later, this is really going to cut against them.

I think if you look at the new Pew poll, I mean, most Americans support same sex marriage and they support equality. You know, basically when it comes down to equality.

Americans support equality. I think it is going to cut against the Republicans. It may work against Mitt Romney. That's one of the reasons he has been so quiet about it, don't you think?

HUNTSMAN: Short-term, I was watching every screen on the flight and they were all playing Chick-Fil-A and everything looked so good. I mean, everyone is eating burgers. The kids were eating fries and burgers and I think sales will go up. I think it is free PR and that's good short-term. I think long-term it is bad.

LIZZA: They have bases in the south and just now expanding outside of red states where it is much more controversial.

O'BRIEN: Although the pushback, too, to some degree, some of the people as we have talked about. They have a right, first amendment right to take the stance. Some of the people supporting Chick-Fil-A are supporting their right to take the position.

SOCARIDES: Versus the mayors who said that was not the right thing to do.

LIZZA: She took it back. She clarified.

O'BRIEN: So we have no answer on winners and losers. Thank you, panel, I appreciate that. A complete lack of clarity here.

SOCARIDES: Chick-Fil-A loser.

O'BRIEN: We'll see. We'll see. I don't know about that.

All right, still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a man lives off Craigslist and makes a movie out off it. It's a new movie. It executive produced by Zach Galifianakis.

He says he doesn't have to buy any stuff to live on. He has no money, no nothing, just barters and lives off the kindness of strangers. It's a new movie called "Craigslist Joe." It's coming up. We'll have a look at that.

Plus, underwater photography, robotic cameras, believe it or not, we're talking about the Olympics. We'll take you inside how it was done in 3D. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

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O'BRIEN: Gosh, I love that graphic every time I see it. I know I say that every time, but I really do love it. The Olympics underway, and Getty Images capturing every eye-popping moment.

Take a look, for example, these shots from the women's gymnastics competition. Amazing, Getty is documenting this year's games with some amazing cutting edge technology, including robotic and 3D camera setups.

Giving people around the world virtually a front row seat to the event or any event they want to see. And of course, Getty is the official photographic agency for the London games.

Jonathan Klein is the company's co-founder and CEO. It's nice to talk to you again. We chatted before you went off to cover the Olympics, and we talked about some of the strategies. And now you're back. So how's it been going?

JONATHAN KLEIN, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, GETTY IMAGES: It's going wonderfully. It's lovely to talk to you from London with the Olympic stadium behind me. It's going extremely well. And all of the new technologies are producing some wonderful, stunning, breathtaking images. So it couldn't be going better so far.

O'BRIEN: You know, and while we are showing some of these images, we'll continue to have our conversation. You got 110 people who are covering the Olympics for you.

And it's been fascinating especially to see for example not just the pictures of the gymnasts, but also the swimmers. And there's a great shot of people who I guess are in between they have to go and reset the cameras in the pools because that's how you're getting some of these amazing shots. Talk to me about the logistics of this kind of work.

KLEIN: Well, the logistics are extraordinary and last night I was fortunate enough to be at the swimming. And at the end of the swimming, I stayed around and spent some time with the photographers.

And the place minutes out and then people put on scuba diving gear, both our photographers as well as some professional scuba divers, and they jump into the pool, and they have to reset all the cameras.

They have to tidy up all of the cabling because the last thing the television folks want to see is the cables. And they are there until about 2:00 in the morning making sure that everything is in the right spot.

So there's an enormous amount of logistics that goes into it and it's quite stunning to see the pictures on the back of that. And those are for the images underneath the water.

In addition, we have robotics camera and a rig on top of the arena. So you can also see a top down view. That also has to be adjusted quite frequently.

And literally, last night, they were moving cameras one inch to the left or one inch to the right and that would make all the difference.

O'BRIEN: Well, the pictures --

KLEIN: Having said all of that, the photographer still has to capture the moment. And that gets very tricky because they operate the robotic camera with a joy stick as if they are playing a video game. And they hope, and based on their experience, they succeed in getting folks to be in the right place at the right time.

O'BRIEN: Well, the pictures prove that. Jonathan Klein, congratulations. It will be great when it's all over to talk a little bit more about how it was all done. He is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Getty Images. And the pictures have been just stunning. We appreciate your time this morning.

We got to take a short break. Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, the gymnastics all-around queen will be crowned tonight. The 2008 silver medallist Chelsea Mel is going to be live with us to talk about, which athletes to watch today.

And three commuter jets were seconds from colliding in midair. We're going to break down what exactly went wrong at Reagan National Airport. You're watching STARTING POINT. We are back in just a moment.

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