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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

The Man Behind Temple Massacre; First Female Referee to Officiate NFL; Interview with Woman Who Lost Husband in Tucson Shooting

Aired August 7, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And a good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. Soledad O'Brien is off this week.

Our STARTING POINT, a White power past. New details this morning about the suspected gunman who opened fire on a Sikh temple and hear from the organization who's been keeping an eye on this man for 12 years.

BALDWIN: Also, today, a possible plea deal. Jared Lee Loughner charged with killing six people, trying to assassinate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords may now admit today he is guilty.

BERMAN: And get this. It's called Romney Hood. The obama campaign's new catchphrase?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's like Robin Hood in reverse. It's Romney Hood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Jam-packed hour coming up, including former New Jersey governor, Christine Todd Whitman, Olympic runner, Marla Runyan, the first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympics, and the girl known as "Honey Boo Boo" from the show "Toddlers and Tiaras."

BERMAN: You just said it. Honey Boo Boo.

BALDWIN: Wait for it. Honey Boo Boo. It should be interesting.

BERMAN: It sure will. It's Tuesday, August 7th. STARTING POINT begins right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: It's going to be an interesting hour, folks. So, we just want to welcome the lovely men and women to my left. We have Congresswoman Nan Hayworth. Good morning.

REP. NAN HAYWORTH, (R) NEW YORK: Good morning.

BALDWIN: -- Republican from New York and the only female physician member of Congress. Also, we have Democratic strategist, Hank Sheinkopf, a.k.a. "The Terminator," Google it, "the Daily Show." It's fantastic.

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Also, Mr. Ryan Lizza, my birthday twin, Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker." Lovely to see all of you all.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Great. We're excited to talk to you, but we're going to begin right now with our STARTING POINT. Disturbing new revelations about the man police say is behind the deadly Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, including that an organization which tracks hate groups has been monitoring Wade Page for more than ten years now.

Police are now looking into the 40-year-old Page's ties to White supremacists. This photo you're looking at right now in front of a swastika is from a Facebook page. It's since been taken down. We also note Page was the front man for a White power rock band who's music was promoted on neo-Nazi websites. Neighbors say Page was anti- social.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID BROWN, NEIGHBOR: Like a recluse, almost. He didn't talk to us at all. I'd say hi, and he would go ugh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was nice, and then, when he moved in, she just changed. It's you could tell he was running the show. He -- she wasn't as friendly any more. She wasn't -- it was kind of like she wasn't allowed to like talk to anybody any more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: David Mattingly is on the ground in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. He's covering the story for us right now. David, what's the latest?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Wade Page's beliefs in White supremacy were no secret to the people who were close to him. This, we're finding out now in the last 24 hours, that even back in the 1990s when he was in the U.S. military, part of the U.S. army, an army buddy tells us that Page was frequently talking about the idea of a pending race war that was coming up in this country as something that he believed very strongly in.

And when they pressed him about those beliefs, about where those beliefs were coming from, they said that he would try to duck the question. And then, after he was discharged in 1998, he started showing up on the radar screen of the hate watch organization from the southern Poverty Law Center. They were tracking him with his involvement with what is described as White power rock 'n' roll bands.

So, they were watching him, but at no time, did his behavior or anything that he was doing was something that they felt they needed to alert authorities about, that they saw no violent tendencies with him, nothing to suggest that he would end up carrying out these shootings.

BERMAN: All right. David Mattingly on the ground in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, thanks very much.

BALDWIN: And you know, David just mentioned and Wade Page was a known name to this non-profit group, the Southern Poverty Law Center. They've been tracking him all the way back since 2000. And a little earlier this morning, I spoke to one of its senior fellows who knows all about him. This is Mark Potok. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Mark, do me a favor and just first tell me, you've been tracking Page for 12 years or so. What was it about him that first, I don't know, started sounding the alarm?

MARK POTOK, SENIOR FELLOW, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Well, I wouldn't say that we were particularly alarmed about this man, but in the year 2000, he very clearly entered the White supremacist music scene. He began to play in various bands, hate rock 'n' roll bands, groups with names like Intimidation One, Blue-Eyed Devils, that kind of thing.

So, you know, these are very well-known bands on the White supremacist scene. So, we noticed him. In 2005, then after playing with various groups, he actually started his own group called End Apathy. And at the time, what he said about that was the name reflected his attitude toward the White supremacist movement in general.

In other words, he felt that the leadership of the movement, the groups and so on were essentially a lot of talk and no action.

BALDWIN: Let me jump in --

POTOK: He didn't speak specifically about what he was going to do. He didn't talk about violence or hating Muslims or Sikhs or anything like that, but he -- and this is a very typical thing on the White supremacist scene, you know, felt the people weren't doing anything and that somebody had to act. And I'm afraid we saw the result of that over the weekend.

BALDWIN: Unfortunately, we did. And I think to your point, perhaps, this is sort of coded language, and I just want to quote something. This was an interview he gave for the band's label website.

This is where he talked the lyrics. I'm going to quote Wade Michael Page's April 2010, "the topics vary from sociological issues, religion, and how the value of human life has been degraded by being sub missive to tyranny and hypocrisy that we are subjugated to." Mark, translate that for me. What's he really saying?

POTOK: Well, the translation is White people are under assault. A genocide is being carried out by, quote/unquote, the Jews against White people, the Aryan race, quote/unquote, "is the most endangered species on the planet." It's that whole idea. We are a shrinking minority.

We're under attack. The multiculturalists, the politically correct leaders are destroying us. And if we don't act now, you know, all will be lost. That's really the translation.

BALDWIN: Mark, when you talk about how alarm bells really didn't go off for you and your group, your group tracks extremists such as Page, I'm just curious, you were quoted this morning saying really he's one of thousands out there which makes me nervous just hearing that.

What is it about someone that goes from, perhaps, an individual you track to someone you actually pick up the phone and call police and say, this is a really bad guy?

POTOK: Well, I mean, we will call authorities if we have the slightest inkling of a criminal plot, having been carried out or being planned. We don't play police. That's not our business at all. But, you know, I don't mean to diminish what this guy was. I mean, what he talked about, the people he hung around were really scary, violent people.

But as you suggested, there are large numbers of these people. What they say is essentially 100 percent protected by the First Amendment. So, you know, you can't be running to the FBI with every person who says, you know, we've got to kill a group of people and so on. Unless, there's some evidence that they really mean it.

So, you know, the sad truth is there are so many of these people, you know, you simply can't put authorities running after each one of them because, you know, in most cases, they haven't done anything illegal. And you really have no right to be following these people around and trying to build cases against them.

BALDWIN: Sadly, as you very well know, there are many of these people. And you mentioned this tool of music almost like this recruitment tool I know for these men and women as well. And I just want to play a little sound, because Anderson Cooper, he was in Wisconsin last night.

He talked to a former skinhead who really talks about the role of music in this particular movement. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE OF TJ LEYDEN, FORMER SKINHEAD: If I give the kid a newspaper to read, he might read it once, maybe twice max. But if I give him a music CD, he can listen to that thing hundreds and hundreds of times. If that song gets stuck in his head, that's propaganda that you cannot get rid of. They were going after kids who were in junior high, high school, I mean, even one guy a few years back said he wouldn't have a problem going after kids as young as eight and nine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POTOK: Well, listen, I agree with what he said 100 percent. We found over the years, there's no question that music or this kind of music is probably the number one recruiting method for these groups at least with regard to young people. And it's true. The lyrics really do seep into your head.

And, of course, most people who get attracted to this world come in at the age of 16, 17, 18, 19 years old, so it coincides very much with the kind of natural rebellion against one's parents anyway. So, you know, I mean, what can be done about this? That's a very difficult question to answer. Again, the music, like so much else on the scene, is utterly protected by the First Amendment.

That, of course, is not true in most European countries. This kind of music is completely legal in places like Germany or Austria or a number of other Western European countries. But, you know, in our case, the First Amendment, you know, I think is a very good thing. I don't mean to suggest it's not, but it creates problems if one's aim is to really crack down on this scene.

So, you know, the best I can say is parents need to keep an eye on their kids and know what they're up to. I mean, most kids discover this music initially on the internet and then comes the fateful day when they walk out of their parents' house and actually go to a skinhead concert, and that's when real recruitment happens and the trouble begins.

BALDWIN: But then, Mark, beyond the recruitment, I guess, my real question is what's the tipping point? Because apparently, everything that I've read about Page, there were signs he was referring to non-Whites as dirt people. You know, you track these extremists. Many of them are part of this movement.

They listen to this kind of music, but what is it that takes -- what's the tipping point for someone to just be listening and a participant then to take them to the extreme?

POTOK: Well, I think it's different for different people. But for very many of them, it's a sense of desperation. You know, I think back to James Von Brunn, the person who shot up the holocaust museum and murdered a guard there several years ago.

You know, he was nearing the end of his life and felt that nothing was happening to sort of save the Aryan race and so on and decided he would go out in a blaze of glory. I think Page had probably had some trouble in his life recently and decided it was time to act. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that he essentially expected to die.

You know, but the real answer to your question is it is almost impossible to say especially when it is these kind of lone-wolf attackers, right? I mean, these are people very often who don't confide what they're up to, don't tell their friends that they're preparing some major action or massacre.

And simply one day walk out of their house and begin shooting. So, from a law enforcement perspective, it is incredibly difficult to make predictions about this kind of attack. It's quite different, you know, when a large group of people are planning an action.

BALDWIN: But the frightening part, Mark, and we've talked about this before is that you talk about an explosive growth, quoting you in terms of, you know, these sort of extremists, these militant White supremacist groups, and you've told me before, part of that is because we now have an African-American president, and that's just one reason, correct?

POTOK: That's right. And it's really what the Black president, President Obama, represents. What he represents in the minds of these people is the changing racial demography of the country as a whole. You know, the census bureau has predicted Whites will lose their majority in the United States by the year 2050.

Well, for these people, that's the end of the world as they know it. So, there's a kind of desperation and fury setting in that really is worrying. And as you suggested, I think directly as a result of Obama's election and as I say, what that represents, we've just seen an explosive growth not only in White supremacist groups but in anti- government groups, militias, all kinds of groups on the radical right. It's really been quite frightening.

BALDWIN: It is very frightening, Mark Potak. Thank you so much this morning for being with me.

POTOK: Thank you. A pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Sort of a fascinatingly bothersome, you know, conversation I just had with Mark.

BERMAN: That was a great interview.

BALDWIN: Thank you. But listening to all of you all sort of picking out different pieces of it, I want to go back into your point, the fact that, you know, we were making the point that this man is one of thousands and you say free society. It's a good thing, it's a bad thing?

SHEINKOPF: The good news about this is the First Amendment. The bad news is the Second Amendment. People can say whatever they want, but they can also have access to guns. There's too many guns. They may be legal, but there's too many guns. They're traveling across straights. They're doing extraordinary things to an awful lot of people.

They're in the hands of the wrong people, and the only way to do -- stop this is -- guns that are big manufacturing in this country under some more control. Now, the Second Amendment, people won't like that, but here are some facts. We are losing Americans on a regular basis by crazy people of (INAUDIBLE). When does it stop?

BALDWIN: Devil's advocate, one handgun, got it legally. This is not the same case as we saw in Aurora.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The problem with the handgun control is the solutions to something like this are fairly radical, right? We're not --

SHEINKOPF: Not necessarily.

LIZZA: We're not going to get rid of handguns in this country. So, if you really want to prevent this kind of crime, you have to go pretty far in the handgun control direction, which I don't think many Democrats and most Americans aren't willing to go there. You're not going to be able to stop someone like that from getting a firearm.

BERMAN: It's tragedy say we're not getting (ph) handguns. How do you get rid of hate? You know, congresswoman, you're a public official, what do you say to people to get rid of this kind of feelings?

BALDWIN: Right.

HAYWORTH: Well, the kind of discussion that you've just had with Mr. Potak obviously helps enlighten all of us when we're trying to understand. A mad man's actions are beyond understanding, but if we, as a society, can talk about all the issues and all the troubles that lead to these kinds of phenomena in an open way and in a way that's compassionate toward people who are very troubled and hurt by these situations, I think it's very helpful.

And we desperately need to have more useful, full-time work for, especially our young men and women who need gainful employment so that there is less temptation to engage in these sorts of activities.

BALDWIN: yes.

BERMAN: Tough questions. Tough, tough questions. It's very tough topic.

BALDWIN: We'll keep the conversation flowing for sure.

BERMAN: It's 16 minutes after the hour. Ahead on SATURDAY POINT, this Thursday for the first time, a woman will be officiating an NFL game. But --

BALDWIN: Did you hear about this?

BERMAN: Some people say she doesn't belong on the field. They actually fear for her safety. That's our "Tough Call" coming up.

BALDWIN: I hear the grumbles already.

Also, more name calling in this already nasty, negative campaign. The latest, President Obama zinger here calling Mitt Romney the reverse Robin Hood. Hear the president and, of course, the Republican response next. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: And welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. President Obama with a new jab at Mitt Romney. Here he is last night addressing supporters in Stanford, Connecticut.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We need to ask the middle class to pay more in taxes so that he could give another $250,000 tax cut to people making more than $3 million a year. It's like Robin Hood in reverse. It's Romney Hood.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The Romney camp has fired back, quote, saying "President Obama recently said the biggest regret of his first term was not telling better stories. He's trying to make up for it now, but his stories just aren't true. There's only one candidate in this race who's going to raise taxes on the American people, and that is Barack Obama."

That, of course, coming from the Romney campaign. Christine Todd Whitman is the former Republican governor of New Jersey. She also worked in the Bush administrations heading up the EPA. She is now co- chair of the Case Energy Coalition.

And governor, I have to ask you this. In the Republican primaries, you actually went out on a limb and supported Jon Huntsman and were part of this movement for a third-party organization.

CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: Third way to get on the ballot.

BERMAN: A third way at least to get on the ballot. When you see this kind of rhetoric going back and forth, Romney Hood and the response from the Romney --

WHITMAN: Dirty liar and other things we call each other, yes.

BERMAN: What do you make of the political --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: What do you make of the discourse right now?

WHITMAN: I think it's just shameful, frankly, on both sides. When you combine that with the amount of money that's being spent, we can do better than that in this country, and we deserve better because our issues are enormous. We've got a deficit that is spiraling out of control. We don't have policy on energy.

We don't have policy on what we're really going to do about reforming the healthcare system. I mean, we have so many issues that we need to hear being discussed by our candidates. And, all we're getting is name calling right now.

BERMAN: It is easy -- you know, we all criticize negativity in campaigns, but is there one thing one of the candidates would say, one thing you would hear and say, I support that candidate?

WHITMAN: Oh, I'd love to hear someone actually stand up and say, you know what? We're all going to have to pay a bit of a price if we're going to solve our economic problems. There is no easy way to do it. We can't just tax our way out of this problem, and we can't just cut spending to get us out of the problem. It's got to be a combination of both, and we've got to put everything on the table.

BALDWIN: Compare the partisanship now versus when you were, you know, at the helm in New Jersey or working with the EPA under President Bush. Is it much more divisive?

WHITMAN: Yes. And it's getting more divisive all the time. I mean, actually --

BALDWIN: Why?

WHITMAN: -- in answer to your question, I would actually say that the short sound bite answer that would get me to vote for someone is the first person that stands up and says when I take over in office, we are going to start with Bowles-Simpson. And that's how we're going to start to address the fiscal issues.

Why has it gotten worse? Because we are -- it's a self- fulfilling prophecy. You look at the average voter turnout in primary elections today in this country is 10 percent. When Congress is atop of the ticket, it's about 32 percent, and we think we've done a bang- up job at presidentials when we get over 50 percent.

What happens is that means you don't need many people to come to the polls in order to get elected particularly in primaries. So, what do you do? Who do you worry about? You worry about your base. And your base tends to be those people who do vote in primaries and are now voting more and more tend to be the people who are the most partisan.

And so, they respond to the red meat, as we call them, issues that aren't necessarily the ones that determine our everyday life. I mean, how many people wake up and they sit down at the breakfast table and say oh, my God, a gay couple moved in next door.

That's not what they talk about. What they talk about is, am I going to be able to afford the rent? What's going to happen to my children's education? How do I afford healthcare? Those are the issues that we need to have discussed.

LIZZA: So, governor, you know, you're a veteran of some of these internal battles within the Republican Party. As you watch Romney campaign, as you watched him through the primaries, do you think he's done a good job standing up to the base of the party? Do you think he's been tough and willing to, you know, not cave into the base of the party?

WHITMAN: I have seen some moments where I thought he had a freebie to do that.

LIZZA: Which one?

WHITMAN: And he didn't. Well, the one that comes to mind the first and is really etched in my memory is the debate that was sponsored by the Tea Party when a young soldier serving our country overseas -- I can't remember whether it was in Afghanistan or Iraq -- was on the video asking a question. He was gay. And the audience booed.

And I waited for one of those candidates to stand up and say, look. You may not agree with his lifestyle, but this fellow is over there in uniform fighting to protect your life. So, give him some respect.

SHEINKOPF: That's why governor, we call them profiles in courage. You know why? Because there aren't that many. And when they occur, we say wow, that's great. That's a profile in courage.

WHITMAN: Well, it's a sister soldier moment you're looking for. President Obama had that with sister soldier. Mitt Romney needs that -- I mean, Clinton, I'm sorry, did that with sister soldier. I think that that's what Mitt Romney needs to really send the message that he is going to be the kind of president he sort of says he's going to be/

LIZZA: Sister Soldier was a controversial rap star in 1992 that Clinton criticized.

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: And you haven't seen that with Romney yet?

WHITMAN: I haven't seen --

BERMAN: All right. Governor Whitman, thank you so much for coming in today. It was great having you here.

WHITMAN: My pleasure. Good to be with you all.

BALDWIN: For the first time in history, a woman will be refereeing an NFL game. And not everyone thinks she is quite ready for the job. This is our "Tough Call." We're going to marinate over this one. Tweet us @BrookeBCNN, @JohnSBerman. STARTING POINT back in a flash.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: All right. So, time for today's "Tough Call." Here's back story. For the very first time, this Thursday, a woman will officiate an NFL game. Her name is Shannon Eastin (ph). She will serve as line judge this Thursday. This is a game between San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers.

She has 16 years experience. She spent multiple seasons as a ref in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, but --

BERMAN: There is a criticism, it is not mine, which (INAUDIBLE) what I think here. The deal is, she's a replacement ref, and some people say, she's not ready for competition at this level. She's never officiated this level of size and speed. So guys, my question to you, is this, in fact, a tough call? Should this woman, Shannon Eastin, be taking the field Thursday night?

LIZZA: Of course, she should. You know, lots of people are told that they're not ready for something, and they step into it, and she'll be fine. Come on. Who's going to take the opposite of this?

BALDWIN: Not me. Not me, as I raise my hand. You're looking at me. Really, Brooke? This is from Yahoo! This female NFL contributor. Here's what she said. The female official, she thinks there should be someone else. She's been working forever and forever. She says this is a colossal mistake. That this first goes to this particular woman instead of someone else who's refed D1 games, that this is not history paving the way it should be.

SHEINKOPF: Once the door is opened, it's not going to be closed. She may not be the best at this particular moment, but who cares? Get the door open and worry about it later.

LIZZA: To play devil's advocate, people are saying she's not prepared, she could get hurt, you're standing on the wrong place on the field, you get run over by a 300-pound linebacker, that's the other side. But the male refs, they're outnumbered by the players by 200 pounds as it is.

SHEINKOPF: What are you going to do, put a scale on the field? You weigh this much, that much?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's very fleet afoot if she's been doing that kind of game.

BALDWIN: We all agree, this is all in agreement.

BERMAN: My question is why do you want to be a ref? You take so much abuse.

SHEINKOPF: Hopefully she's a good one because there aren't enough good refs in the NFL.

BALDWIN: She'll be beat around by reporters and her own constituents. Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I admire her.

BALDWIN: We admire her. Go, girl.

SHEINKOPF: It's another, you know, career for you. If Congress is not tough enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they said she knows nothing about the game, I'd say, you're absolutely right. That's true. BALDWIN: Coming up here on "starting point," Tucson massacre suspect Jared Lee Loughner is expected today to change his plea to guilty at this court hearing, and one of his alleged victims, she's going to join us live to tell us why she is thrilled with this reversal.

BERMAN: And get ready for it, here comes Honey Boo-Boo.

BALDWIN: I can't wait.

BERMAN: The six-year-old pageant queen has her own new reality show, and she's going to be here to talk about it. You'll want to see it. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT on this Tuesday morning. You know, America still trying to recover from two horrific mass shootings that happened just 16 days apart. Police are investigating the shootings in that Colorado movie theater and a Wisconsin Sikh temple as another tragic case heads to court today.

Here he is, the suspected gunman here, allegedly killed six people, wounding 13 others during the shooting spree in Tucson, Arizona. Jared Lee Loughner goes before a federal judge today. His attorneys are expected to change his plea from not guilty to guilty.

His mental state really has been central to this whole case here. Before he accepted -- before I should say his plea is accepted, the judge will rule on whether he is, in fact, competent to stand trial. That shooting happened last January during that meet and greet with then-U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was among those injured in that shooting.

Also, among those killed was 76-year-old Dorwin Stoddard. He took a bullet to protect his wife, Mavy. She was also shot. She survived that attack. I want to bring in Mavy who joins me live from her home. Good morning to you. I would imagine this is perhaps a day where you're full of emotions, though I've read you said you just want it to be over. When you hear that he'll be entering this guilty plea, how does that make you feel?

MAVY STODDARD, SURVIVOR OF TUCSON ARIZONA SHOOTING: I would be very glad if that's what he says, but I'll believe it when he says it.

BALDWIN: Why don't you believe it just yet in fact?

STODDARD: Because it's impossible to believe it until you hear it from his own lips.

BALDWIN: You have said this man, being Jared Lee Loughner, "This man took my life because Dory," your husband, "was my life." If he enters this guilty plea today, that means the death penalty in the state of Arizona is off the table. Why don't you want the man who took your husband to be put to death? STODDARD: Because I think life in prison would be a lot worse, and also because I think he might have a chance if his mind is kept under sedation to the point that he's whole, he might learn about the lord. And that's important to me.

BALDWIN: I just want to open this up also talking about -- of course, I'm sure you've been following these horrendous two mass shootings as we just mentioned happening within something like 16 days of one another. You have Aurora, Colorado, and of course what happened in Wisconsin at the Sikh temple. And there's this new ad campaign demanding this end to gun violence. And I just want to play this for you. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a veteran.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A mother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are survivors of the Tucson shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our leaders gave us a moment of silence then.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they haven't given us a plan. President Obama --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Romney --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We demand a plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: We demand a plan. Do you feel like you have heard enough, Mavy, had it comes to our guns in this country and preventing another one of these massacres? What do you want to hear from either a Mitt Romney or a president Obama?

STODDARD: That we demand a plan. We demand a plan to fix our gun laws. I've been fighting for this for months and months. With Chris Coshner out of Mayor Bloomberg's office in New York, he's been backing us. And he's got 700 mayors with guns against violence, fixing the gun laws. They have got -- it's got to be done. If not, people are going to continue to do this. We need no assault rifles, and we don't need the clips that are 33 and 34 amounts to each clip on the market. These were bought at Wal-Mart. That never, never should be.

BALDWIN: Ammunition and in the aurora shootings, something like 6,000 -- 6,000 bullets there. Final question for you, Mavy. If Jared Loughner was sitting across from you right now, what's the one thing you would say to him?

STODDARD: I don't hate you and I do forgive you. BALDWIN: Powerful words from Mavy Stoddard who lost her husband in that January shooting. Mavy, thank you so much.

STODDARD: Yes.

BALDWIN: Still to come on STARTING POINT, she was the first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympics. Now Marla Runyan is helping to inspire others. Hear her story coming up.

Also this, the breakout star of "Toddlers and Tiaras" gets her own show. She is Honey Boo-Boo. She is live in studio with her mom in studio next. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. The popular reality show "Toddlers & Tiaras," one of the breakout star is pageant contestant Alana or Honey Boo-Boo as she's called. She is known for her hyperactive outbursts after drinking something called go-go juice and for outrageous sayings like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They must be crazy if they think they're going to beat the Honey Boo-Boo child.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I sit with the judges and walk her through her routine. She knows she needs to show the tummy to the judges. Show the judges.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is what I show the judges.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Honey Boo-Boo is now the star of her very own reality show called "Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo." It premiers tomorrow at 10:00 eastern on TLC.

So we welcome Honey Boo-Boo who also is Alanna. But I ask her what she wants me to call her and she said either one. So we'll go with that and her mom, June. Welcome to both of you and good morning.

JUNE THOMPSON, STAR OF TLC'S "HERE COMES HONEY BOO BOO": Good morning.

BALDWIN: June question I guess number one for you is why -- why enter your daughter in pageants in the first place and how old was she when you first started?

THOMPSON: She was four when we first actually started. We started off at a local mall pageants. People said she looks kind of like a porcelain doll. She's very pretty. So we decided to start like at the local mall pageants. And then we -- it kind of snowballed from there. We started national pageants and then we went to the glitz side.

And we prefer the glitz side more because she loves to be all glammed up. As you can see, she likes to be all glammed up this morning. And --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: She changes around -- you like the cameras, don't you, Alanna?

ALANNA THOMPSON: Yes.

BALDWIN: You like the cameras?

A. THOMPSON: Yes.

BALDWIN: What do you love about the cameras?

J. THOMPSON: What do you love about the cameras?

A. THOMPSON: Do I look like I know?

BALDWIN: Do I look like I know? She says -- do I look like -- go ahead.

BERMAN: She know obviously, you know, you know there is a lot of criticism at times about these child beauty pageants right now.

J. THOMPSON: Yes.

BERMAN: You know I saw some clips yesterday, some of the outfits. You were in a Daisy Duke outfit wasn't it? Or --

J. THOMPSON: Yes. That's one of our popular outfits, yes.

BERMAN: You know there's a sexualization involved in some of these child's pageants there is, you know, these strange outfits. How do you respond to this criticisms?

J. THOMPSON: Well, like I've said before on Anderson a few months back is that if you're looking at my child or any child in a sexual manner, it's not something wrong with us parents, it's wrong with the person that's looking at it because that's just nasty that people would look at a child in that kind of manner.

You know, there's people who wear far less, no clothing, you know, bathing suits, bikinis on the beach, and it's just a costume when we get off the stage, the hair and makeup comes off and the outfits come off and she becomes a normal child.

BERMAN: We're mesmerized by the smile right now.

BALDWIN: I'm just, yes. Let me just ask you. I mean, you're sitting here. You're hearing your mom talk about how I'm sure some of the criticism, and you know a little bit. People are wondering why are you doing this at such a young age? You're looking at me with eyeliner and mascara and blush and lipstick on. Do you -- do you enjoy what you're doing?

A. THOMPSON: Yes.

BALDWIN: Why?

A. THOMPSON: Because it's fun. And I like it.

BALDWIN: What does being beautiful mean to you?

J. THOMPSON: What do you tell everybody when you're beautiful? What I always tell you --

A. THOMPSON: I feel like a pageant queen. I feel like I just won ultimate grand spring.

BALDWIN: What if you're not in the pageants and you don't have the makeup on? How do you feel then?

A. THOMPSON: I feel like a normal person.

BALDWIN: What do you like better?

J. THOMPSON: You like the normal person or you like the hair and makeup?

J. THOMPSON: A hair and makeup. I feel like a beauty queen.

BALDWIN: Feeling like a beauty queen. Lizza, you have little ones.

LIZZA: They don't do pageants. I have two boys, though. You know the thing that I always hear about this show is when I told people, you guys were going to be on this morning, people say, oh, I feel like that show is exploiting that family. I feel like TLC is almost mocking this family, intruding on their life in this sort of almost people feel sorry for you guys.

Have you heard that? Do you get that criticism?

J. THOMPSON: I mean there's negative and those positive criticism that we've had over the thing. The thing when we did this, "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" is because America did fall in love with her, you know. You know "Toddlers and Tiaras" and they want to see what we do in a normal life. Well in the ten episodes, you all will see we're a very close family. We love to get muddy. We also love to dress like other person.

BALDWIN: We have a clip. Let me stop you right there. Roll it, roll it John.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

J. THOMPSON: We've got a lot of work to do before the pageant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is somebody going to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) help me? (EXPLETIVE DELETED) It is summertime so we've got to make some time for some fun.

Our family is crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is it?

You like us, you don't like us. We just don't care. We love our little life and we have fun doing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Close to family. Like to get muddy. You like the mud?

A. THOMPSON: Yes.

J. THOMPSON: We do a lot of mud bogging, a lot of four-wheeler riding.

A. THOMPSON: And lots and lots and lots.

J. THOMPSON: So she can be dress up and be beautiful, but she likes to get down and dirty. We've got --

A. THOMPSON: We are a redneck.

BALDWIN: You are a redneck?

J. THOMPSON: Tell her your new saying.

A. THOMPSON: You better redneckognize.

BERMAN: I don't know what to think for that I think that is the perfect place to wrap up.

I thank you so much June and Alanna, "Honey Boo Boo" the show on TLC.

BALDWIN: On TLC good luck.

A. THOMPSON: And you'd better redneckognize.

BALDWIN: STARTING POINT back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone.

She was the first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympics at the 2000 games in Sydney. Today Marla Runyan is helping inspire other young children with visual impairments.

Here s Dr. Sanjay Gupta with this week's "Human Factor."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, Camp Abilities. DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Every day at Camp Abilities starts the same way, with care to share.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have seven more shots on the basketball court last night including three in a row.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ran three miles on the (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did my first back flip on the rings at gymnastics.

GUPTA: All these children are visually impaired. And they've come to Camp Abilities for a one-week developmental sports camp. Their inspiration this year is Marla Runyan who was diagnosed with Stargardt Disease, it's a form of juvenile onset macular degeneration. She was diagnosed when she was just nine years old.

MARLA RUNYAN, 2-TIME U.S. OLYMPIAN, 2000 & 2004: Running became my choice of sport after I kind of abandoned soccer and I had such trouble seeing the ball, obviously, so I went out for my high school track team.

GUPTA: And boy could Runyan run. After running track and field in high school and college, she turned pro, eventually becoming the first legally-blind athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. Runyan says she was able to reach her full potential by competing against the best athletes in the world.

And now she's giving these campers their first taste of competitive sports. And there's a lot to choose from. Sports like beat baseball, goal ball. They learn to ride bikes. Practice judo. And of course, run track.

RUNYAN: Our motto for Camp Abilities is believe you can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That is so nice to see. Our "End Point" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: So now for the "End Point" of the show, Congresswoman, why don't you begin?

REP. NAN HAYWORTH (R), NEW YORK: Well, in the past hour we've talked about some very dreadful events, but we've ended on a really high note with Marla Runyan's overcoming a tremendous challenge in her life, to be a champion, and now to be a champion for others.

And that's -- when we look at the strength of America, that's really what it is, that -- that we can use our initiative and our talents for good. And that's the thought I'm going to take with me. BALDWIN: It makes us proud, doesn't it?

HAYWORTH: It does, very proud.

LIZZA: I just want to go back to what former Governor Christie Todd Whitman from New Jersey, one of the last remaining moderates in Congressman -- Congresswoman in your party.

But made some news there. Criticizing Mitt Romney for not having a sister soldier moment, criticizing Romney for not standing up to the Republican base -- something we haven't heard that much in this campaign. We haven't heard moderates going after Romney that way. I don't think there are many moderates left in the Republican party. But it will be interesting to see what the Romney campaign's response is.

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: There's no more moderates left any place. We're all on either side of the coin here.

You know, I want to go back to the human condition. We've seen the worst, that's the human condition sometimes, but then we look at Miss Runyan here and we see the very best. We look at the police officer who risked his life to save those people in Wisconsin. That is the best of us and we ought to be spending more time in this country and the world looking at the best of us and not the worst.

BALDWIN: Suffering nine shots and giving his boss a thumbs up. We appreciate that.

Thank you all so much and thanks for hanging out with us.

BERMAN: Thanks guys.

BALDWIN: Shall we do it again tomorrow?

BERMAN: Let's do it tomorrow.

BALDWIN: Let's do it again tomorrow.

For now let's go to Atlanta to Carol Costello. "CNN NEWSROOM" begins right now. Carol, good morning.