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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Deadly Attacks in Afghanistan; Wisconsin Sikh Temple Reopens; Interview with Bill Bolling, Virginia's Lieutenant Governor; What's In A Name?; New Polls Show President Obama with Lead Over Romney; Interview with Olympic Swimmer Nathan Adrian; U.S. Swim Team Dominates; Reaching out to Mothers Behind Bars

Aired August 10, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm John Berman.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

It is Friday. Soledad is off this week.

And our STARTING POINT here, the breaking news, three American soldiers shot dead by a man in an Afghan security uniform, reportedly after inviting them to dinner. We are live at the Pentagon with all of those breaking details.

BERMAN: First prayers -- CNN exclusively going inside the Sikh temple open this morning for the first time since a gunman's deadly rampage.

BALDWIN: And battling buses. Mitt Romney is touring swing states by bus starting tomorrow, and, of course, the DNC this time will trail him in a ride all of their very own. But it's been reversed in the past.

We have all of that, plus, team USA's gold medal swimmers, Nathan Adrian and Ricky Berens, they're going to join us live a little later this hour.

Berman is so excited about this.

BERMAN: Yes, me. It's all me. I'm the one who's excited. You're staring at the pictures on the wall here.

It is Friday, August 10th. STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

BALDWIN: And on this Friday, we want to introduce our panel with us this morning. Ana Navarro, Republican strategist.

Welcome and good morning.

Ron Brownstein, he's back, CNN senior political analyst and editorial director at "The National Journal."

And Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of "Marie Claire." Welcome. Good morning.

RON BROWNSTEIN, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Good morning.

BALDWIN: Good to have you with us on this Friday, TGIF.

We do have a top story though. We have to start with Afghanistan.

BERMAN: Yes. It's our STARTING POINT this morning. It's breaking news out of Afghanistan. A man wearing Afghan military uniform who opened fire on U.S. troops this morning, killing three soldiers in the country's southern Helmand Province.

BALDWIN: CNN's Chris Lawrence is live for us again there at the Pentagon.

And, Chris, you're getting new information. Tell us what your sources are telling you about this attack.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, right now, Brooke, they are trying to figure out if this was a Taliban infiltrator or if this was simply an Afghan policeman who just turned on his American allies.

The Taliban is claiming that it was an Afghan policeman who lured these soldiers to a dinner to break the Ramadan fast, and then had the plan all along to shoot and kill them.

This issue of so-called "green on blue" attacks has been a rising concern in Afghanistan. In fact, earlier this year, at one point, one out of every four NATO troops that were killed were being killed by their Afghan allies. In fact, there have been a number of changes as a result of this. The Afghan intelligence forces have started putting undercover officers into some of their recruit training to try to sniff out who may be radical.

And some U.S. commanders are even assigning guardian angels to watch over troops while they sleep.

BALDWIN: Wow.

BERMAN: Chris, this was not the first attack in Afghanistan this week. And you've got new details about some American loss of life on Wednesday.

LAWRENCE: Yes. That's right.

This was a separate incident in eastern Afghanistan, John, where, basically, it has been a devastating blow to the command there. Two majors, an army major and air force major, as well as the senior enlisted man, a command sergeant major, all taken out when two suicide bombers blew themselves up as this small team of Americans, military and civilians, were going to meet with the district council there to talk about security. A State -- Department of State worker, a foreign officer, was also killed. An American was also killed in that attack.

So overall, just an incredibly deadly week there in Afghanistan for U.S. forces.

BERMAN: All right. Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon, following what's going on for us in Afghanistan. Thank you very much.

BERMAN: Now to an exclusive here -- inside the Wisconsin temple where those six people died and three others were wounded. We have video. Take a look at this with me.

This was shot exclusively showing a stark reminder, of course, of the attack. You see this right here. This is the bullet hole, one of many, that punctured (AUDIO GAP)

It remains because members say it will not be repaired but it will remain as a reminder of what happened.

BERMAN: Ted Rowlands from CNN is live outside the temple right now.

And, Ted, you toured this temple and talked to members. You know, what are they saying?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, as you can imagine, they were very emotional, and it was very emotional to go into the temple yesterday. We were invited in and spent about an hour inside. We saw where each one of the victims died in two separate rooms. We also saw the pantry, a very, very small room where 16 women and children were crammed for two hours, some of them bleeding from injuries.

They weren't sure if there were multiple gunmen. They didn't know if they were sitting ducks and if somebody was going to come back in and shoot them. It was horrifying for that group of people.

We talked to some of the victims' family members, including one man who lost his father. He talked not only about the victims but he did address the shooter as well. (AUDIO GAP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMARDEEP KALEKA, TEMPLE MEMBER: Simply put, our families, his mother, who left behind two beautiful boys, and was the only mother -- imagine losing your mother. Our father, the four other victims, the people who were shot and are in the hospital, the police officer that did his job, they are heroes. They are living the American dream.

The other person was a coward. And at the end of the day, he should always be remembered as a coward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: And today, John, the victims will be remembered here at Oak Creek High School. All six victims' bodies will be out in the gymnasium. The public is being invited to pay their respects at a ceremony starting in about two hours here in Wisconsin.

BERMAN: All right, John. It will be another emotional day in Wisconsin. Thank you very much, Ted Rowlands.

BALDWIN: Eighty-eight -- 88 days until the election. Mitt Romney hits the road tomorrow visiting four swing states in as many days. The Republican candidate, he will begin in Virginia, then he'll go through North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio, and he will have some unwanted company as well because the Democrats -- they are launching their own bus tour this morning that will trail Romney's trip.

BERMAN: And these tours come as the new CNN/ORC poll shows President Obama is leading Governor Romney by a full seven points. And earlier this week, a new Quinnipiac/CBS News/"New York Times" poll showed that in Virginia, a key swing state, Mitt Romney is behind by four points.

Bill Bolling is Virginia's lieutenant governor and the Republican candidate for governor for that state in a few years. He's also a Romney campaign surrogate.

Mr. Lieutenant Governor, here, you know, I have been talking to Romney campaign insiders and aides for weeks now. If there's one state that seems to frustrate the Romney campaign, it is Virginia. They are genuinely frustrated they haven't been able to pick up ground there. What makes Virginia tough right now for Mitt Romney?

BILL BOLLING (R), VIRGINIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Well, Virginia is a very competitive two-party state. But I actually think Governor Romney is doing very well in Virginia.

You mentioned the Quinnipiac poll last week. If you dig down into that poll a little bit, there's some very encouraging news for Governor Romney. He's leading among independent voters in Virginia. And independent voters are the key to winning. President Obama has never been able to get in any of these polls above the mid to upper 40s. He's never been able to get over 50 percent of the vote.

I think most of those undecided voters are going to break Governor Romney's way in the final couple of months of the campaign.

And I'll tell you, all of the energy in Virginia is on Governor Romney's side. Virginians understand --

BERMAN: The polls aren't, though.

BOLLING: -- that the country just can't withstand four more years of Barack Obama. I think they'll come to Governor Romney in big numbers here in the next couple of months.

BALDWIN: And part of maybe, he hopes, I'm sure, because of who he chooses as his number two, right? So, we've all been pontificating over who it might be. But we actually got some new language, maybe a teeny tiny -- shall we call it a hint, perhaps, when Mitt Romney talked to NBC's Chuck Todd. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: What do you want your running mate to say about you? What do you want your selection to say about what kind of president you're going to be?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think I have anything for you on the V.P. running mate, other than I certainly expect to have a person that has strength of character, vision for the country, that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country. I mean, I happen to believe this is a defining election for America. That we're going to be voting for what kind of America we're going to have.

(END VIDEO LCLIP)

BALDWIN: Vision for the country, lieutenant governor. I'm just curious because I know certain politicos are connecting the dots and saying, huh, vision, might it be a budget plan vision? Might it be Congressman Paul Ryan?

What do you make of those two dots that are being connected? Why do you think that's happening?

BOLLING: Oh, look, I think all this guessing about who the vice president is going to be is more profitable to play the craps tables in Las Vegas. I don't think anybody really knows. The one thing --

BALDWIN: Would you make that connection?

BOLLING: Pardon?

BALDWIN: Would you make that connection? Hearing what Mitt Romney said, talking about a vision for the country, would you see that as, could be Paul Ryan?

BOLLING: Oh, no.

BALDWIN: No?

BALDWIN: I think that could mean almost anything. I think Governor Romney is going to look at two things, which individual can he work with best to lead the country, and who has the ability to serve as president of the United States should the need arise. And there are a lot of good candidates for that job. I have absolute confidence that Governor Romney is going to pick the best person to work with him and lead the country should the need and arise and work with him to try to get the nation out of this malaise that we've really been in for the last four years under Barack Obama's failed leadership.

BERMAN: Lieutenant Governor, you know, on our panel today is Ron Brownstein, who has been writing about a really interesting trend in some of the polling here, what's really opening up to be an epic racial divide among the voting populace here. According to our latest CNN/ORC poll, Mitt Romney is winning among white voters. He's up 55 percent to 57 percent in white voters. But among non-white, among minority voters, Barack Obama leads 81 percent to 16 percent, a huge chasm there.

You know, minority voters are very key in your state, down to Virginia Beach, Norfolk area of course. You now, what does Governor Romney have to do? Why can't he chip away at this really huge lead for Barack Obama among nonwhite voters?

BOLLING: Well, I think we just have to keep getting our message out. President Obama has failed the country. We have 42 months of unemployment in excess of 8 percent. The president's policies are jeopardizing the financial foundation of America. Mortgaging our children's future with a $16 trillion national debt and still growing.

On the on the other hand, Governor Romney has a positive plan to get the economy moving again and to create jobs to lift up the middle class by empowering the private sector, not just growing the size of the government, and he has a plan to get the budget balanced and start bringing down the debt.

BALDWIN: OK.

BOLLING: So we just have to keep getting that message out. And if we get that message out and we reach out to these diverse voters all across our state, I think they're going to respond.

Do we have work to do there? Absolutely. But we are doing the work and I think governor Romney's message will resonate with these groups. We just have to keep trying to get that message out and we're going to do that.

BALDWIN: Lieutenant governor of Virginia, Bill Bolling -- thank you, sir, so much for being with us.

And I just want to open it up to the panel. Please weigh in.

BROWNSTEIN: With the most daunting number in the Quinnipiac Virginia poll for Mitt Romney is that Barack Obama is down to 38 percent among whites in Virginia, and is still ahead at 49 percent. And that is really embodies the national problem that Romney faces.

Romney is actually on track to run as well among white voters as any Republican challenger ever in the history of polling, comparable to Dwight Eisenhower in '52, Reagan in 1980, George H.W. Bush in '88. Romney could match that performance and still lose, which shows how much the demography of the country has changed and how dangerous it is for Republicans to allow Democrats to win 80 percent of non-white voters, which is exactly what Obama did in '08.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Ana, you deal a lot with minority outreach in Florida and other states. You know, what's missing here for Mitt Romney?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, right now, I think what's missing is the message. I just heard the lieutenant governor talk about we've got to get the message out.

You know, Mitt Romney has had his hands tied for the last few months because he spent every dime of his primary money. He doesn't get to spend his general money until he is the nominee, August 30th. We have not done enough.

I have seen folks like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio speak to mostly Democrat crowds of Hispanics and turn those hearts and minds around. We can compete for the vote. But we need the right messenger, the right message, and we need to put in the effort.

And up to date, we haven't done enough of a good job of it. Mitt Romney has to work on it.

BALDWIN: But do you think the message is clear?

JOANNA COLES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, MARIE CLAIRE: First of all, I think that minorities have heard the message, and they don't believe him.

I think the other point is that Mitt Romney has lost women voters. So, not only has he lost minorities, but women are very concerned about what's happening with health care. They are very concerned about what's happening with contraception, and the sense that the government somehow, the party claiming to be a small government, wants to be involved in their personal business. And they don't want that.

So I think the message has been heard loud and clear. But they don't like it.

BROWNSTEIN: Look at that itinerary. Look at the itinerary of Mitt Romney's bus tour. Virginia had not voted Democratic since 1964 until 2008. North Carolina had not voted Democratic since 1964 except 1967 and 2008. Florida had been leading Republican.

All of them are now swing states. Those three are swing states for two reasons: a growing minority population, and an improved Democratic performance among white collar socially liberal whites, especially women -- exactly what we're talking about. Those are not swing states before 2008. The fact that Romney has to contest them now is another example of how the demography is changing the landscape of politics.

And ultimately, I think both Ana and Joanna are right -- Republicans have to reach out both improving their performance among socially upscale women, who are the most Democrat part of the white electorate and this growing minority electorate that gave 80 percent of its vote to Obama in '08 and on track to do so again.

NAVARRO: The problem he's got, though, is that, you know, he's on track to have the best performance with White voters, but he's also on track to have the worst performance match the worst performance with non-White voters. And right now, there's an increasing number of that. This is no longer, you know, your grandpa's America. This is our new America.

BERMAN: We're going to stay on politics, but next up, we're going to, you know, drift into the absurd a little bit. The name game on the campaign trail.

BALDWIN: Looking forward to this.

BERMAN: The candidates' long history of bashing each other using the worst word imaginable, each others' names.

BALDWIN: You have that story coming up.

Also, a woman takes the field for an NFL game for the very first time in history. But how was she calling the shots for the very first time last night? You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I know so much attention this week has been focusing on the negativity of both campaigns, the attack ads. We've been talking about them this whole week and the pointing of fingers.

BERMAN: You know, but lately the candidates seemed to have discovered the cherished political art of name calling, because, you know, apparently in campaigns, there is nothing more threatening than actually using a candidate's name.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (voice-over): It's practically the worst thing you can utter about a politician. His actual name.

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

BERMAN: Combine that name with anything, anything at all, including lunch meat, you have a vicious attack.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And if I were to coin a term, it would be Obamaloney.

BERMAN: Because apparently, campaigns are like Harry Potter. There is some sort of mystical cosmic brutal threat with using someone's name. Who can forget --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillarycare.

BERMAN: Or how about --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obamacare.

BERMAN: And --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romneycare.

BERMAN: Or their illicit love child courtesy of Tim Pawlenty --

TIM PAWLENTY, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Obamneycare.

BERMAN: Which is second cousin's once removed from Michele Bachman's creation of --

REP. MICHELE BACHMAN, (R) MINNESOTA: Newt-Romney.

BERMAN: Names aren't always such a dicey situation or I guess mituation (ph). No one complains about Jeffersonian Democracy or Lincoln-Douglas style debate. But by the time that shocks and shanty (ph) towns started showing up in the 1930s, let's just say Hooverville was not meant as a compliment.

Imagine if it was located in Taxachusettes. Reaganommics, not friendly. And Clintonian, a language parsing (INAUDIBLE). The only thing you can do in politics worse than using someone's name is slap a gate on the end of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watergate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trailgate. Filegate.

BERMAN: Imagine if Mitt Romney could find a scandal associated with the president's policies. Would we actually have Obamaloneygate? Or how about (INAUDIBLE) in the individual mandate, Obamneycaregate. Truthfully, with the number of degree these candidates have, the name calling seems lazy, almost off the wall.

You could say it's the definition of Linsanity, or Barack-tually, a load of Mitt.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: The illicit love child.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That was good.

BALDWIN: That was fantastic.

BERMAN: Question, though --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

BERMAN: And not about my writing is, you know, is this effective? Do these names sticker? Is this just juvenile? I'm leaning for juvenile.

BROWNSTEIN: It's mostly juvenile, but you know, probably the greatest one ever was Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 with Martin, most famous one ever was in 1940 with Martin, Barton, and Fish, when he kind of -- encapsulated the Republican opposition in Congress into a rhyme that kind of resonated through the campaign.

Look, catch phrases can resonate. Hillarycare kind of personalized that in a way that did do damage to the Clintons.

BALDWIN: -- because they make it on TV.

(CROSSTALK)

JOANNA COLES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, MARIE CLAIRE: But there are also rare moments of humor, I think. And what we're really seeing is a sort of campaign to be the most charismatic celebrity between the two men.

BALDWIN: But do you really think they're leaning to the humorous when we see -- when we hear Obomneycare?

COLES: Of course, they are. I mean, when you're out there campaigning you on the stump, what you really want is a crowd laughing with you because then you know --

(LAUGHTER)

NAVARRO: I think if they don't catch permanently, at least they catch for one news cycle, and that's good enough in today's 24/7 news.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: How about Obama, though now, embracing Obamacare? And the Democrats talking about --

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: They've turned it into Obamacares.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: All I can tell you is that -- this Republican is going to beg Mitt Romney not to break into the Oscar Mayer baloney song.

(LAUGHTER)

BROWNSTEIN: (INAUDIBLE) can find Martin, Barton, and Fish, Franklin Roosevelt.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: That is the best ever.

BERMAN: Who can forget Martin, Barton, and Fish.

BALDWIN: Looking in the archives. Still to come this morning on STARTING POINT -- that was a great piece, by the way. A woman makes history in the NFL calling the shots. But still, not everyone is convinced she should be there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. A history making night on the gridiron. Shannon Eastin became the first female to ever officiate an NFL game.

BALDWIN: She was a line judge in last night's preseason game between the San Diego Chargers, Green Bay Packers. League has locked out its referee. And Eastin is one of the replacement official. Some players, they've been showing their support for her.

Chargers linebacker, Antoine Barnes, shaking Eastin's hand on the sideline, but some think she shouldn't be there at all. Anna, what do you think?

NAVARRO: I think it's terrific. Women, girls these days, we can do anything we want to do. I think it's just a wonderful breaking of the glass ceiling. I also think, you know, they booed her, so they treated her just like they treated any other referee.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: We talked about this yesterday. The American women have won more goals than the American men. And that really is a story of Title IX after --

COLES: Well, it's the 40th anniversary of Title IX.

BROWNSTEIN: And you know, which requires equality in athletic programs for men and women in schools. So, you know, it is -- the society is changing. We're talking about the changing demography. I mean, all of these changes are kind of inevitable. I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: But you've got to think that --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: I mean look at the -- just look at the magnificence of those performances at the Olympics.

NAVARRO: Women boxing yesterday.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

COLES: Do we think this means we're finally going to have a woman actually host one of the presidential debates? Because --

(CROSSTALK) COLES: And I think, Brooke, you should go for the job.

NAVARRO: That's a terrific point. You know what? It's long overdue.

COLES: It is. It really is.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Let me just tell you, you guys are in the minority here around this table, so agree.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

BROWNSTEIN: And in the electorate. And in the electorate, right?

BALDWIN: More insight -- speaking of politics -- more insight in the political race. And CNN "State of the Union" anchor should be moderation. Candy Crowley joins us next.

BERMAN: Plus, the moment that Brooke has been waiting for her entire life really this morning, U.S. gold medal swimmers, Nathan Adrian and Ricky Berens, they're going to join us live from London.

BALDWIN: They're clearly very talented.

BERMAN: They're very talented and very smart. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm John Berman.

BALDWIN: Good morning, happy Friday. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Soledad is off this week.

And a lot of brand-new polls out this morning with some pretty interesting insight into the presidential race.

BERMAN: And Candy Crowley is the anchor of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION." No one better to talk about polling than Candy. The CNN poll, Candy, has the president with a seven-point lead. There's a Fox poll out showing the president with a nine-point lead. Are things different today than they were yesterday?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Probably not than yesterday, but you have seen over the past four or five weeks a definite change in those polls, which we always saw as extremely close. What's happened in that big battle that we talked about at the beginning of the summer, now the battle goes on now that Mitt Romney has won the Republican primary, it's all about who gets to define Mitt Romney. So in the battle of who's defining who, right now it does seem to me that President Obama and his team have the upper hand. They have pushed up Mitt Romney's unlikability marks and pushed down his likability. So to the extent that, you know, it is really getting in the wait of voters even looking at Mitt Romney and what you also see at the same time is that now voters look at the two of them sort of evenly when it comes to who can best handle the economy.

So if you have got a voter who's saying, you know, I really don't see that either one of them is going to make a marked difference in the economy, then what do you do? You vote your gut. And that likability factor, that ex-factor that people use when they go into the voting booth, right now President Obama still has a sizeable lead when you match up their likability ratings.

BALDWIN: Candy Crowley, how much of these -- we have talked so much this week, and one of the new super PAC ads that haven't even hit the airwaves. How much do you think these battling ads have affected Mitt Romney when we look at the numbers, and what are some of the key moments you're looking for that could perhaps break through that for him?

CROWLEY: I think you have to look at the slide that has been definitive. And so I think you have to credit some of that. Certainly to what the Obama campaign has done as well as Mitt Romney has had some slip-ups himself. So there is that.

But there is also just $350 million worth of ads from both sides, including ads from everywhere, in nine states. So that's not only a lot of money, it's a lot of money intensely out on the airwaves in just nine states. So that does seem to have done some damage here.

So, listen, there are the three obvious pivot points that Mitt Romney can take advantage of. One of them is the selection of his vice president. People look at it. They'll dice up the resume of the vice president. We'll talk about what he brings to the ticket and what he doesn't bring to the ticket. But it also talks about the candidates' management style. And it gives Mitt Romney some shine. People will be looking at this. So the spotlight will be on him.

Next up, that convention speech -- hugely important. And then the debate. So there are three big breakthrough chances that w we see. And, you know, when we look at the other poll that CNN has put out about confidence about the economy, it's dropping. So there's a huge hole here for Mitt Romney. But he has not been able to walk through it.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Candy, it's Ron Brownstein. Can I ask you about one thing we've been talking about here this morning? One of the findings in the poll that I think is particularly daunting for Romney is that he is trailing by seven even while doing very well with white voters. President Obama is down to 41 percent among white in your poll down from his 43 percent showing in 08, and yet Romney still trails by seven-point because Obama is winning a combined 81 percent of minority voters, almost exactly what he did in '08. My question to you, do you see any avenues for Mitt Romney to chisel away at that overwhelming advantage for the president among minority voters who your poll has as 27 percent of the entire electorate? CROWLEY: He has those three major opportunities. Listen, Ron, you know as well as I do that this shift that we have seen in the census first of all, where now we are a majority-minority nation did not bode well for Republicans. And they know and have been trying for some time to reach out in particular to the Latino community, which makes up such a huge part of it. So there's two ways, you know, to address it, and that is, you know, Ron, you drive up your own vote or you try to suppress the other guy's vote or you make inroads.

A lot of folks I talk to say this is a years-long effort that Republicans have to make. You know, I remember going back as far as when Gilmore was head of the RNC saying we've got to start making inroads in this community, and they just haven't been able to do it. Can Mitt Romney still make some inroads? Yes. Can he make huge inroads? No. But can he make enough to make a different in a close election? Sure. There's still that opportunity left.

BERMAN: It's almost to the end here, and I can't believe we have gone the whole show without gossiping with VP picks.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: OK, go.

BERMAN: Let's all jump in. Who's going it to be and when?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it's going to be very, very soon. I think the sooner the better, because I for one am really just worn out on this VP frenzy. I don't know how much longer I can sustain my attention span.

But, you know, I really am going to make the case for Marco Rubio. I think this notion that because he is a Cuban American from Florida he cannot turn other Latino votes is wrong. I'm a Nicaraguan American from Florida, and he can turn my vote. And I have seen him in rooms where he has changed the minds and the hearts of democrat Latinos when he speaks. I think Marco is somebody that could make those inroads that we just talked about needing to make. He is very articulate in English and Spanish, and he's got a vision.

JOANNA COLES, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "MARIE CLAIRE": It also answers your point about him not having any strength at all in the minority area. And do you feel that if he picks another white man, the two of them together are only going to compound Mitt Romney's problems with the electorate, which are essentially he's not terribly likeable. And I'm very worry that this bus tour will make him look even less authentic because I don't think he's ever been on a bus.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: I've ridden a bus with him, to be fair.

COLES: I don't think he's been on a public bus. It's very different to be on a rock star bus.

(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: Candy, what do you think? What do you think about all this?

CROWLEY: I think announcement next week. I was, you know, sort of bought into the Portman idea because I think that it's very -- that one of the most important things is do they get along, do they have the same kind of worldview. And if you're going to say I'm the business guy, I know how to fix this economy, then you double down with another kind of, you know, I'm all about the numbers. And now I'm kind of looking at it and saying, or maybe Jindal.

(LAUGHTER)

BROWNSTEIN: Everything about Mitt Romney's history says Portman or Pawlenty. He likes caution. He is a cautious guy. But it seems like he's lost control of the process, and either of those might be a letdown now. And that might force you to a Jindal or a Ryan.

COLES: He is now nine points behind in a new poll. The riskiest thing to do is play it safe.

BERMAN: We'll know soon.

COLES: You say that, but John McCain didn't play it safe and it didn't do him any good at all.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Candy, thank you so much, by the way.

CROWLEY: Goodbye.

BERMAN: Leave while you can!

BALDWIN: We'll watch you Sunday morning on CNN.

COLES: I thought we could make it through one morning without a Sarah Palin reference, but afraid not.

BALDWIN: You're a little excited along with me, our Olympic crushes, Team USA gold medal swimmers. Ron, you're just rolling your eyes. Nathan Adrian and Ricky Berens will stop by, very talented swimmers, et cetera. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Aiming for gold this morning, and the U.S. is leading the pack. Team USA is way out in front of the medal count with 90, a full 10 medals ahead of China, with the most gold as well. It sounds like gloating, doesn't it?

BALDWIN: Gloat away, Berman. If you want utter dominance, look no further than the U.S. swim team. The men and the women swimmers have 31 medals.

And joining us live now is gold medal swimmer Nathan Adrian. Ricky Berens was supposed to be with us, but he's stuck in traffic right now. It's not as easy to get through the traffic as it is to get through the pool, Nathan.

BALDWIN: Nathan, how heavy are those medals? Look at those, wearing them proud.

NATHAN ADRIAN, U.S. OLYMPIC SWIMMER: They're heavier than you expect, absolutely.

BALDWIN: So it's been an incredible week, two weeks I know for you guys. What's the one thing you did once all of your events were over?

ADRIAN: You know, we checked out of the Village, and I enjoyed some of the food that London has to offer.

BALDWIN: You like the London food. I was just in London, and fish and chips, some pints perhaps?

ADRIAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. A little bit of everything. It's so diverse here. I think it's really fun. And culturally we are fairly similar. So I kind of understand and appreciate the excitement of the games in general, that all of the people around here feel.

BERMAN: Nathan, one of the things we've all been talking about overnight and this morning is Usain Bolt, who won the 200 yesterday. You know, obviously, he's pretty good at what he does. But he had some pretty startling comments about just how good. I want you to listen to something he said right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is your legendary status confirmed now?

USAIN BOLT, OLYMPIC RUNNER: Yes, without a doubt. This is what I came here for, and I got it. I'm so happy. So happy. I can't explain. I came out here, a lot of people were doubting me. And I showed the world they am the bev, no matter what.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: He also said that "I'm a living legend and the greatest athlete ever."

BALDWIN: Wow.

BERMAN: My question to you, is he the greatest athlete ever? Should athletes talk like this, first of all, and is he right?

(LAUGHTER)

ADRIAN: You know, I think true legends really let their performances do the talking for them and don't necessarily label it for themselves. I think, you know, our very own, and my good friend Michael Phelps, you know, he does that. So it's hard to argue against having as many medals as Michael has. BALDWIN: Hey Nathan I hear your friend Ricky is there. Do we see Ricky traffic over he's there? Bring him on in.

ADRIAN: Yes, yes, he's right here.

RICKY BERENS, 2-TIME GOLD MEDALIST SWIMMER: Hi.

BALDWIN: Bring him on in. Ricky Berens, how are you friend?

BERENS: How are you doing?

BALDWIN: Good morning. How are you doing? How does that medal feel?

BERENS: It's heavy. It's good, though.

BALDWIN: It's heavy. It's good, though. Hey, look, you know, you guys are obviously very talented, incredible swimmers in the pool. You know, there's some pictures that have been floating around. You're obviously fairly well -- I mean -- where am I going with this? Help me.

BERMAN: Listen -- look, you guys, you guys -- it's easy for you to hold those medals up, because it seems you're in pretty good shape.

BALDWIN: You're in decent shape. I mean, you know I think Berman -- Berman obviously looks just like you, I'm sure. Can you just tell me like, are you just totally turning heads as you're walking through the Olympic village? Are you really big men on campus there?

ADRIAN: You know, not really. I think there's a matter of respect amongst all the athletes. Once you get one or two pictures going, it kind of becomes a little hectic and a lot -- a lot of cameras coming out. But you know on a regular basis, not too bad.

BERENS: Walking in the middle --

(CROSSTALK)

BERENS: You have the gymnasts walking around all small.

BALDWIN: Well that's just so humble.

BERMAN: Ana is just dying to ask you a question here.

BALDWIN: Jump in Ana.

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I have no question to ask you. I just want to tell you, you may not be turning heads in the Olympic village, but you are turning heads in the CNN Studio in New York.

BERMAN: I have a question. So Ricky, I know you said you're going to hang it up now. You're going to stop swimming. And -- and -- you know when we check in on you in five years, you're going to have not been working out at all? Is it going to be like a big beer gut, no more this you know swimmers body?

BALDWIN: Twinkie time.

BERMAN: Twinkie time.

BERENS: Well, the retirement thing was a little -- a little too quick to come out and say that. I definitely -- I just need a little break right now. You know we've been doing this for so long. And I -- I don't think I have taken more than two weeks off of swimming since I started in high school. And right now I am really kind of just looking forward to a break and having fun.

But I'll probably gain some pounds in the next couple of weeks or so. But we're so used to working out and staying in shape that that would just be weird. I know I'd have to get back into doing something.

BALDWIN: You guys?

JOANNA COLES: Well, what's so wonderful about the Olympics is just how, is watching what hard work gets you. And in an -- in an age where you think of the guy who sold Instagram for $1 billion, I think everybody under the age of 30 thinks that the way to make a $1 billion is to fiddle around on the Internet.

And what I love about the Olympics is the sheer extraordinary effort exerted as these people hurtle across the track. Well, I know Ron was very excited about the ladies volleyball.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Volleyball, yes, a great match. A great match.

BALDWIN: Ladies volleyball. A great match.

COLES: Now it's all you know if you really work out and don't take a two-week break from high school until your first Olympics you end up with a gold medal.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: It's just a minority of them that are actually going to get rich. You know a lot of them just do it for the love of sport, the love of athleticism. And I think they are wonderful role models.

BROWNSTEIN: Just to see -- just to see what people are capable of when they -- when they sustain their focus.

NAVARRO: In the middle of all of this division, this political division, it's something that gets us all excited, all united.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

BALDWIN: We're all Americans.

COLES: That anthem is -- BALDWIN: Nathan and Ricky, thank you all both so much. Truly, we are obviously all flummoxed and impressed. Really we're ready to have you back home.

NAVARRO: And live in the studio.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, yes.

BERMAN: All right, guys. Thank you for embarrassing us all.

BROWNSTEIN: We have an insurrection going here.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, take a look at this photo. What everyone is looking at here is something -- something big has this crowd pumped up in Atlantic City. We'll show you what's up when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right, before the break, we showed you this picture. Crowds at the beach in Atlantic City looking up at something, completely transfixed. Now, here's what they're looking at. Tight rope walker Nik Wallenda pulling another death-defying stunt. He's 125 feet over the beach here. And unlike that walk over Niagara Falls in June, he did this one with no wow --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Oh, my goodness.

BERMAN: -- no safety net, no harness. That picture is awesome. The tight rope, by the way, it's only about a nickel wide, as wide as a nickel.

BALDWIN: So is he over the beach or over the water?

BERMAN: He's just really high. It doesn't matter where he is, he's way high.

NAVARRO: I can tell you, I can feel myself hyperventilating.

BALDWIN: Hyperventilating yes.

COLES: Does it remind you of Mitt Romney?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, the spectators might move back just a little.

BALDWIN: Let's talk CNN Hero shall we?

She is from New York where more than 10,000 children are growing up with their mothers behind bars. And now Sister Theresa Fitzgerald may have found the key to helping them start new lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SISTER THERESA FITZGERALD, CNN HERO OF THE WEEK: Across our nation, there are thousands of mothers behind bars. I've never met a woman inside who said, gee, I'm going to go out and I'm going to really mess up again.

What's your lesson you learned here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not to ever come back.

FITZGERALD: The depth of her guilt, what she has done to this child, is unbelievable. And they want to do everything to make it right. But they're always unsure whether it's really going to work.

I'm Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, and I happily work with incarcerated mothers to keep their families together, and to rebuild their lives.

When women come out of prison, they are so vulnerable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the hardest part?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no money. I need a job. It feels like there's no way out.

FITZGERALD: A home is the heart of what's going to make their life possible.

So good to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.

FITZGERALD: How are you? You're back home. Yes.

We give them a lot of love, a lot of support. Around her is a community who has seen growth and change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once you forgive yourself, they just want -- trust me, it's going to be all right.

FITZGERALD: Over time, broken bonds have been mended. And there can now be a wholeness to their life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, it's Kelly from the mentoring program.

I was a crack head. I gave birth while I was still incarcerated. I just didn't know how I was going to change my life.

Sister Tesa didn't just save me. She saved my entire family. She made me proud of who I am today.

FITZGERALD: It's everyone's right to live the best life that they can. And when I start seeing that take place in the women that I have worked with and I love --

I'm very proud of you.

That's makes it all worthwhile.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: You can always nominate a Hero at CNN.com/hero.

And the "End Point" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: This is the "End Point" when we have the final thoughts. Ana, why don't you kick us off?

NAVARRO: I think it's a wonderful week for women. We've got the first football referee. We've got the first boxing champion, female boxing champion. I think we need the first moderator, female moderator of a presidential debate, and I really am hoping for the first female presidential candidate soon.

BROWNSTEIN: We've been turning a lot of numbers, there are going to be you know a ton of numbers thrown out of the presidential race from now until November. There's one equation that for me cuts through it all, it's the 80/40 solution. If Barack Obama wins 80 percent of minorities and 40 percent of whites that's enough for majority. In your poll yesterday, John 81 percent and 41 percent.

COLES: And I like Ana's point, I mean, are we going to see potentially a veep pick from Mitt Romney or his candidate, number two, who would be a woman? I noticed that he was very careful in the snippet we saw earlier where he was on NBC talking about his choice, this person. He specifically didn't say this man.

NAVARRO: Do you think he'll take us out of our misery and pick Beth Myers who is doing the vetting?

BROWNSTEIN: There you go.

(CROSSTALK)

COLES: Take us out of our misery and unveil the mystery. Pick the picker.

BALDWIN: Thank you all for being with us. John Berman, thanks for sharing a desk with me.

BERMAN: Yes, it was fun. Nice meeting you.

BALDWIN: You're not too bad. I kind of like you.

So anyway, that's it for us.

BERMAN: And Deb Feyerick is up next. "CNN NEWSROOM" begins now.