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Interview with Congressman Jason Chaffetz; Punk Rock Band Found Guilty In Russia; Interview with Sheriff Joe Arpaio; College Sports Fandom Discussed; Rules of College Football Fandom; Tumble, Tumble, Try to Hang On; Brighter Futures for Teens

Aired August 17, 2012 - 08:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, Mitt Romney and President Obama neck and neck. The key swing state of Wisconsin changing from lean Obama to a true toss-up. This fierce battle getting a lot closer.

Fear of lightning. Worried homeowners now watching the weather as those big wildfires are raging across the west.

And it's a constitutional throw down. The Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is banning benefits for young illegal immigrants defying the White House.

A man who's been in that position before, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America, Joe Arpaio will talk to us about that.

Also, we're talking this morning to Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz is our guest. And Bryan Curtis is a writer for ESPN's He'll talk about what it really means to be a fan.

It's Friday, August 17th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody.

Let me introduce you to our team this morning.

Richard Socarides is with us. He's a writer for the

Ryan Lizza is a Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker."

Will Cain is a columnist for

John Berman is with us, he's obviously CNN's new anchor and reporter.

Nice to have you all.

Our STARTING POINT this morning is the Paul Ryan factor. A new CNN poll shows the addition of Congressman Ryan to the ticket has turned his home state of Wisconsin into a battle ground state, while the overall numbers aren't changing very much, 49 percent of registered voters say they back President Obama, 45 percent say they support Mitt Romney. That's within the margin of error.

It's the very positive polling of Ryan in the state, though, that's really making it up for grabs in our CNN analysis. It's a state that hasn't gone to a Republican since Ronald Reagan.

Jason Chaffetz is a Republican congressman from the state of Utah. He's a member of the Budget Committee and the Oversight and Government Committees. He's also a supporter of Mitt Romney for president.

It's nice to see you. Thanks for being back with us. Always a pleasure.

Let's talk about --

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Good morning. Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Let's talk about that polling I was just talking about. When you look at the actual numbers, as I said, it's still pretty close numbers-wise, 49 percent registered voters choice for president for President Obama, 45 percent, if you're looking at Mitt Romney.

But it's the other elements in this poll that I think is what's getting people's attention. Favorability, you have Paul Ryan is at 50 percent. When they ask about the choice of running mate, excellent or good, 54 percent. Is he qualified to serve as president, 56 percent say yes.

John King walked us through a map of how it would not just affect Wisconsin, but affect the whole entire Midwest. All of that has to be good news.

How much effort are you now putting into the Midwest states here?

CHAFFETZ: Well, this morning, and later this morning, I'm headed to Iowa myself. So, a lot of effort going into the Midwest.

Paul Ryan represents a lot of those values. He's a hunter. He's a family man. He grew up there. He is a man of integrity. He adds a youth factor that hasn't been on the ticket that I think is very appealing.

And he knows his stuff. He's a good, energetic, principled person, and I think people like to se that.

O'BRIEN: Peggy Noonan says the selection of Paul Ryan, though, is a long ball. And by that, I think she means, you know, I guess it's a bit risky. She writes this in her op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal": "Mitt Romney just threw a long ball. Fine. The GOP will have to play an audacious long ball game."

It's bold and it's risky. Why are you convinced that the risky can overcome the bold?

CHAFFETZ: I don't think it's risky. I think it's Mitt Romney signaling to the world that he's serious about tackling the problems ahead of us.

Paul Ryan is a serious player. He is the smartest guy on Capitol Hill, in my opinion. He knows the budget, the appropriations process better than anybody else on either side of the aisle. He's earned a name and a reputation for working across the aisle in a bipartisan way. And I think that's what the strength of the ticket adds.

And so, look, there are probably other paths of least resistance, but to select Paul Ryan, I couldn't be more proud of Mitt Romney making that selection and taking the fight on the issues. That's what it's all about.

O'BRIEN: Mitt Romney says he has never paid less than 13 percent in taxes. We know as well that Ann Romney weighed in when she was being interviewed on "Rock Center."

Let's listen first to what the former governor had to say.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did go back and look at my taxes, and over the past 10 years, I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 percent or something like that. So I have paid taxes every single year. Harry Reid's charge is totally false.


O'BRIEN: OK. And here is what Ann Romney said last night.


ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: We have been very transparent to what's legally required of us. But the more we release, the more we get attacked. The more we get questioned. The more we get pushed. And so we have done what's legally required, and there's going to be no more -- there's going to be no more tax releases given.


O'BRIEN: Do you think Americans are going to be satisfied with that? If you look at your median American household dual income families, it's something like $67,000, right? And they are paying -- you know, their bracket is 15 percent, but they are paying an effective tax of 7 percent. And you look at someone who on his taxes that what we know so far $45 million -- $42 million from 2010/2011 who pays, he says, you know, never less than 13 percent. Do you think people are going to say, wow, that's, you know, I think the number he used was 13.6 percent for those years.

Do you think that's going to be problematic in selling that to the American public?

CHAFFETZ: No. I think this is a side bar attempt to distract from the real issues that are out there. Mitt Romney and Ann Romney have done everything that's required by law. Four years as governor, you know, a lot of financial disclosures out there. What's required by law, the Romneys have put out there in this presidential race. He is one of the most well vetted persons out there.

I think that's the end of the story. I think introducing one other year or something like that will not necessarily solve the insatiable desire by the Democrats to try to distract from the president's record and get into something that really isn't an issue. I have never had anybody ask me about this issue.

O'BRIEN: So the Obama campaign is now saying that if you release -- if Mitt Romney will release five years of tax information, they will call off on their additional release of information. So basically they are saying -- I know one of the responses, and I think we talked about this in the past, if we give two years, we'll ask for them. If you give five years, they'll ask for more.

They're saying, give five years, and we'll be done. Just release five years.

CHAFFETZ: They did two years required by law and they did four years that was done as the governor of Massachusetts, so I think it's kind of a side issue that's just crazy. I don't really totally understand what they are trying to get at.

But let's get onto the real issues about jobs and the economy. That's the message from the Romney folks.

O'BRIEN: The Kaiser poll is showing that 73 percent of people now are actually focused on Medicare from all of this -- really ever since Paul Ryan was tapped to be on the ticket. We can show you that poll right there, 73 percent. And the conversation has moved away from the health care law, 59 percent.

You talk about jobs and the economy. People really aren't discussing that, are they? They are talking about Medicare and talking specifically about Governor Ryan's Medicare plans and specifically about Paul Ryan's budget and Paul Ryan's Medicare plans. Isn't that -- isn't that problematic for your party?

CHAFFETZ: No. I think it's great. I think -- I was with Speaker Boehner the day before yesterday and he said, hey, let's go out and have this discussion.

It's President Obama who took $700 billion out of Medicare. We're trying to save the program. And I think this is an issue that we should be discussing. I don't have a problem talking about Medicare or Medicaid or some other very important issue. Of course, we should be talking about that.

But I think we've got the winning side of the issue. And Obamacare is not a popular issue for the president. So that's -- I think it's fair game.

O'BRIEN: Would you encourage people to go check out the AARP's -- you know, what the AARP says about those numbers, what the AARP says about Medicare advantage? Because the AARP, of course, as you know has like 40 million members and they are the advocacy group for older Americans, and they say they are nonprofit and nonpartisan.

And what they say about the law is very different from what you say. Would you encourage, you know, everyone to go check that out?

CHAFFETZ: Hey, I want people to look at the full array of information that is out there. And, yes, let's stick to the facts. But let's also look at the Congressional Budget Office that says Obamacare makes medical expenses more expensive, and let's keep to the facts that President Obama did take $700 billion out of Medicare.

You know, if we stick to the facts, that's great. Of course, look at that side. Look at the other side. Look at the Congressional Budget Office.

O'BRIEN: We have had this conversation 15 times at least, and as you know, it's not taking money out of Medicare. It's a decrease in spending over time, and a decrease that you yourself I'm assuming voted for in Paul Ryan's budget in 2011 and in 2012. He had that same number in his budget. Didn't you vote for that?

CHAFFETZ: It's not exactly the same number. I did vote in favor of the two budgets that we passed. That we passed on the floor of the House. I would also encourage people to look at the fact that Paul Ryan did something with Senator Wyden, a very well-established Democrat, that puts this plan in place to help save Medicare.

O'BRIEN: But now you're criticizing something that you voted for twice, right? I mean, essentially, you voted for it.


O'BRIEN: You did in Ryan's budget.

CHAFFETZ: Soledad, it's a totally different approach. It's not -- we didn't just copy what President Obama said. That's not true. That's a misrepresentation.

How to actually do it and execute it is very important. And there are two fundamentally different approaches on how to do this. What -- for instance, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the IPAB, is not something that I support, but it's something that directs -- takes that $700 billion that Obama took out and puts it in control of these bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

So, I think -- no, I don't think it's right.

Here's what's important. We're going to have to come up with a bipartisan solution in order to make that work. I think Paul Ryan has showed an aptitude to do that by introducing something with Senator Wyden. The president has been in office for four years.

O'BRIEN: Something that includes those same exact numbers that Republicans are bashing.

CHAFFETZ: That's an oversimplification.

O'BRIEN: You and I have spent more time I'm sure reading the CBO reports. But at the end of the day, that same number crunching was voted on by virtually every single Republican in 2011 and then again in 2012. That is fair to say.

CHAFFETZ: The original -- but the original criticism was that television commercials and other things, grandma going over the cliff, and that the Republicans are going to destroy Medicare, that's just fundamentally not true. We're supporting this because we want to save Medicare. We have said for those that are 55 years old and older, there are going to be no changes. That is not what the president's plan says.


O'BRIEN: Throwing grandma over the cliff is supposed to get attention. It's one of the many ads that, you know --

CHAFFETZ: It was inaccurate and unfair.

O'BRIEN: But the change, what you call saving is a voucher program, but you give people vouchers for Medicare.

CHAFFETZ: No, it's not.

O'BRIEN: It's not a voucher program?

CHAFFETZ: Soledad, I love being on your program. It is not a voucher program. It is premium support. And that is different than a voucher program.

And everybody somebody says, oh, it's a voucher program -- it's false, it's misleading, it's derogatory, and it's inaccurate. That is not what it does. For those that are 55 years and older, it does not change the program for them.

O'BRIEN: You give people money to go and buy their own insurance, right?


O'BRIEN: But we're arguing over semantics. At the end of the day, isn't it essentially you would give someone money to buy their own insurance?

CHAFFETZ: No. A premium support program is different than a voucher program. They're just fundamentally different. And it's intended to scare people.

O'BRIEN: Walk me through how that's different.

CHAFFETZ: Because some people that have maybe more needs, more medical needs, they have less income, they are going to have more flexibility and more assets to go do what they need to do in order to have some choice and flexibility and create computation in the marketplace.

O'BRIEN: So they'll get more money and be able to go buy something specific. It's choice, right? They get to buy something specific.

CHAFFETZ: It's premium support. That's different.

O'BRIEN: They get a voucher to go buy something. We are arguing over semantics. We have to move on.

CHAFFETZ: I would disagree.

O'BRIEN: There are lots of elements of the budget that we can walk through, and I would appreciate it. So we'll keep this conversation going because I think a lot of people are very confused about this and the ads that are over the top on both sides, I will add. That certainly doesn't help on either side.

Always nice to see you, Jason Chaffetz. Appreciate it.

CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Other stories to get to. John Berman has got those for us.

Good morning, again.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad.

Some news out of Afghanistan this morning where two U.S. service members have been killed. The U.S. military says a uniformed Afghan officer turned his weapon on the troops in the Farah province before being shot and killed himself.

This is just the latest incident in a string of similar attacks on U.S. forces. And it follows a Taliban statement where the group said it has infiltrated Afghanistan's security forces. CNN at this point cannot verify that claim.

It appears WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will risk arrest by leaving Ecuador's embassy in London to make a public statement on Sunday. We'll see. Ecuador just granted political asylum to Assange, a decision that's escalated tensions with Britain. Assange has been holed up in that embassy since June to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces sexual assault charges.

Despite Ecuador's move to protect Assange, British authorities say they will still try to extradite him.

Wildfires burning out of control this morning across the sun- scorched Pacific Northwest. Dozens of fires are now burning in 13 states, most of them in California, Nevada, and Idaho. In western Washington state, there is a new wildfire concern, and that, of course, is lightning. And they are expecting hot dry weather this weekend, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Some of those stories from people who have lost everything there is just so tragic, just so heartbreaking. And, of course, the animals too because they are penned in and they get caught in the fire.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wildfires are something that are hard to project yourself into. A big fire threatening you, I went to Pepperdine in the '90s, in southern California, and we dealt with fires numerous times. It really is scary, a wall of fire moving toward your home.

O'BRIEN: And it's fast. So much faster than you would think. It goes across a field in seconds.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I lived in East Bend, I remember --

O'BRIEN: That fire, horrible, horrible.

LIZZA: Unbelievable, yes.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, a verdict just in, in the case of the Russian rockers for a song slamming President Putin, a case watched by everybody from Paul McCartney to Madonna. We'll tell you the latest on their fate coming up in a live report.

And our "Tough Call" today. A little boy who's 12 years old, told he's too big to play pee wee football because he is little in age but not in size. He is nearly 300 pounds.

We'll tell you his story on STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Developing story right now that we're covering. In just the past hour, a verdict coming in regarding a Russian female punk rock group that's accused of hooliganism after they were arrested for performing a song that was critical of President Vladimir Putin. The three members found guilty.

The protest inside Moscow's biggest Orthodox Cathedral. Now, each faces up to seven years in prison for that stunt. The case sparked global protests in support of the band. Superstars like Madonna and Paul McCartney have been calling for their release.

Phil Black has been following the story very closely for us. He is outside the courtroom in Moscow. First, what was the reaction? Seven years, that's a tough sentence.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, just to be clear, it's a potential sentence which they can get. (INAUDIBLE). The judge in court right now is sufficient to where I am. Now, it's been reading through her judgment (INAUDIBLE). And it certainly sounds like the judgment is going to be guilty. She has spoken about how (INAUDIBLE) the facts (INAUDIBLE). She repeatedly has spoken about the insult. (INAUDIBLE) in the church at the time. (INAUDIBLE). So, a guilty verdict certainly (INAUDIBLE) very, very likely at this point, but that comes as no surprise. The key issue now is really what will the punishment be. These women have already been in custody for some time.

They could potentially get seven years under the law. The prosecutor in the case has asked for three years. Russians have very much been tuning in (INAUDIBLE) about just how they should be punished, because many (INAUDIBLE)

O'BRIEN: Phil, I'm going to interrupt you there because we're losing your audio. You're cutting in and out, but I hear what you're saying which is essentially that they're facing seven years now. That they have been found guilty. And we will know soon exactly what is their punishment. Seven years would be on the high end of a very severe sentence.

Vladimir Putin, himself, has actually put out calls to lessen -- you know, not so tough because a lot of the backlash, but what was sort of a domestic story in Russia has become an international story with major rockers weighing in on behalf of the women. And it's become very messy certainly from a P.R. perspective for him.

So, that's been very problematic. We're going to continue to watch that story develop and figure out what their sentences are as well.

Still ahead this morning, our "Tough Call" is the story of a 12- year-old boy in Texas. He's been told he's too big to play peewee football. Is it fair? The kid is six-foot tall and he weighs nearly 300 pounds. I'm not sure that qualifies as peewee football. We're going to debate that up next.

Don't forget, you can watch us on your computers or your mobile phones while you're at work. Go to We're back in a moment.


POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Poppy Harlow. Watching your money this morning, your money moving to Asia. A new survey called the Wealth Report says Singapore will be home to the richest people in the world by 2050, and the list is dominated by Asian economies.

Singapore tops it with an estimated annual per capita income of about $138,000. That followed by Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea. The only Western economy projected to remain on that list is the U.S.

Ever had to suffer through a meal next to someone on their cell phone? We all have. We hate it. One Los Angeles restaurant feeling your pain. Eva Restaurant is offering a five percent discount on your bill for leaving your phone with a hostess in that box during the entirety of your meal. They estimate 40 percent to 50 percent of their customers have opted in, ditched their cell phones, and taken them off on the discount. I love that. But are we allowed to do that as reporters? I don't know.


O'BRIEN: Yes. You know, they should do. They should actually up the service, make it a 10 percent discount, and you can pay to have someone monitor your phone for you. So, if it's an important call, then you come --


SOCARIDES: I have a friend who has a rule that when we have dinner, that we all have to put our cell phones in the middle of the table.

BERMAN: I will say we're all here dissing cell phones, and there are about 12 of them on the table --


O'BRIEN: We're working.

I want to get to our "Tough Call" this morning. Twelve-year-old boy is told he's too big to play peewee football. His name is Elijah Erinheart . He's more than six-foot tall. He's more than 6'1" actually. Tips the scale at nearly 300 pounds. The league president says, hey, there's a rule, and the rule is any seventh grader who weighs more than 135 pounds is barred.

He also says that -- they went to -- the kid and his mom went to the meeting saying new about the rule. He doesn't understand why there's an issue. His mom, boy's mom says, well, he was allowed to practice with the team for three weeks. She plans to protest.

This is a good tough call, because on one hand, he's a 12-year- old. He just wants to play football. On the other hand, if I had a kid who weighed 120 pounds, you know, kind of an average sixth grade, seventh grade size, like you getting hit by that kid would be really dangerous.

CAIN: Why is it that kid needs to get out and not your kid? His mom makes a good --


O'BRIEN: My hypothetical kid.


CAIN: No one is telling boys who are too thin or too small, they can't play football. Why is my kid too big?

O'BRIEN: Well, because, I think if you average out the numbers and you average the weight, you'd see most of the kids are actually in that 130.



CAIN: It is because you are a menace to other kids, you are a threat to other kids. If you're too small, you're only a threat to yourself. I didn't mean menace, a threat.


SOCARIDES: He could really hurt someone. What I don't understand is, why doesn't he play with the older --


O'BRIEN: No, it's not the solution, actually, right, because he doesn't know how to play football. He's just been playing for three weeks. So, if he goes and plays with the bigger kids, you know, they're better at football. And he could be injured.

SOCARIDES: I bet he'd be pretty good at it.

LIZZA: I feel bad for Elijah, but this is not a tough call.

CAIN: I agree.

LIZZA: There's a weight limit, and he exceeded the weight limit. End of story.

O'BRIEN: You know what, he's a 12-year-old boy. He describes himself as a gentle giant and says I've been playing for three weeks, and he really likes it.

CAIN: I'm sure he is.

HARLOW: He could be a total superstar and get a college scholarship.


O'BRIEN: All right. We got to take a break. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, the Arizona governor, Jan Brewer, picking a fight with the White House, this time, it's over benefits for young illegal immigrants. We're going to talk this morning to Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He's been in a middle of a bunch of the fights like this.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We got to take a break. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. In just a few moments, we're going to be talking to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America. Going to talk about what he thinks of the Arizona governor's constitutional throw down, that is what it's being called with the White House over benefits for young illegal immigrants. That's just ahead.

First, though, we want to look at the day's top stories. John's got that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Soledad, we're looking at a deadly confrontation between police and striking miners in South Africa. This was captured on tape, but I warn you these are some tough pictures to look at this morning. Riot police opened fire on a group of workers armed with sticks and machetes. At least 18 people were killed, the ground littered with dead bodies. It happened at a platinum mine near Johannesburg. Police say they acted in self- defense after trying to disperse the crowd peacefully.

In a show of solidarity, President Obama and Mitt Romney will not run campaign ads on September 11. Similar steps were taken during the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaign. Priorities USA, the pro Obama super PAC, also agreed not to run ads. But restore our future, pro Obama PAC, hasn't responded yet to tell us what they are doing on that day.

And now a defunct Philadelphia swim club has agreed to settle a racial discrimination case three years after declaring bankruptcy. The Valley Club was accused of denying children from a minority day care center access to the facility. Dozens of kids will share in the proceeds from the sale of the swim club, which went for nearly $1.5 million in 2010.

Sports fans, beware. A Dallas Cowboys fan is suing the team and owner Jerry Jones claiming she suffered third degree burns after sitting on a hot cowboy stadium bench. The suit claims no signs were posted saying that the bench was too hot for people to sit on. The woman says she was forced to undergo skin grafts. So watch out, Cowboy fans.

O'BRIEN: That sounds awful.

Let's talk about the protesters who are marching on the state capitol in Arizona after Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order blocking illegal immigrants from getting driver's licenses under president Obama's new deferred action program. People have been ling up across the country to apply for the new program. It took effect on Wednesday. The program is limited to immigrants under the age of 30 who satisfy certain criteria, lets them avoid deportation for two years. They can obtain temporary documents like driver's licenses and work permit, benefits that Governor Brewer says should not be available to those living in the country illegally.


GOV. JAN BREWER, (R) ARIZONA: We will issue an employment authorization card to those people that apply, but they will not be entitled to a driver's license or any public benefits. In response to the public overwhelmingly voting that no public benefits would be extended to illegal aliens in the state of Arizona.

O'BRIEN: Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, is my guest this morning. Thank you for talking with us. So the governor in her executive order says the licenses are required to be denied. Federal law, the Real I.D. act of 2005, specifically says that immigrants who are granted deferred action can get driver's licenses. As someone who represents law enforcement, what are you going to follow, the state or the feds?

JOE ARPAIO, SHERIFF, MARICOPA COUNTY: Well, you know, I like to follow the state. They are suing me in federal court, the department of justice accusing me of racial profiling and other things. So I'm the elected sheriff. I'm going to enforce the state laws. I took an oath of office. And the federal laws that we have been doing in the past.

O'BRIEN: So an editorial in the "Arizona Republic" says this. I'm going to read it to you. It says, "This does not nothing for her party, which diminishes its future with every hard line stance on immigration issues when compassion is called for. They are talking about the gop. There are legitimate differences of opinion on how to treat adults who came to this country without documents. It should not extend to young people who had no choice in coming here, who have been educated in our schools, and have something to give back." They also say in this editorial it doesn't do anything to make the state of Arizona better. Do you think in fact it does have negative implications for the GOP in a state that's heavily Latino in an election year?

ARPAIO: First of all, I don't read the editorial page of "The Republic." That's not a good source for me. Number two, this is a political season. Why did the president sign an executive order at this time when there's an election coming up? So this is definitely politics, this whole situation on illegal immigration. And the White House and Congress one of these days should look at it, forget the executive orders, but get some laws passed. That's what should be happening.

O'BRIEN: I think there are a lot of people who would agree with you on that front. I guess going back to the Arizona republic editorial which I know you don't read, the point they are making is it could be challenging for the GOP at a time when you have a heavily Latino population, the demographics that show it's only going more that direction, and a group of young people that for even people who feel very divided on this issue would say, there might be an exception for those people whose parents brought them into the country as children. They're saying it's a risk for the party.

ARPAIO: Well, you know, it's sad bringing politics into this. But it is politics. You think I'm concerned? I'm up for re-election for the sixth time. I know that some of the Latinos don't like what I am doing. But you have to do what you took an oath of office to do, and I'm going to do it. I'm a good example of that. So I'm not concerned about the re-election or politics. We have to do what's right for the people of this state and this country. And forget the politics, if that can ever be accomplished.

O'BRIEN: I was going to say, can you take apart this conversation? I mean, really can you talk about immigration honestly on both sides without having politics heavily embedded in it?

ARPAIO: Of course it can be done if somebody will sit down and talk in a civil manner. That's not occurring with me. All they do is demonstrate against me and threaten me. But, no, it can be accomplished. We're the greatest country in the world. You think we can't solve any problems? We can solve this problem if there's the will to do it. And forget the politics and other reasons for not doing it. The bottom line is they want amnesty. This administration wants amnesty. That's another big issue.

O'BRIEN: And your bottom line is that a young person who is given this deferment should not get a driver's license?

ARPAIO: If they are here illegally, then that's correct. Get the job done. Get the -- be here legally, and then that will solve a problem. But that's going to be very difficult to accomplish in the environment that we're in right now.

O'BRIEN: Sheriff Joe Arpaio, our guest this morning. Thank you for talking with us. Appreciate it.

ARPAIO: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, are you a real college football fan? Are you a real college football fan? Not just a kind of college football fan, but a real one? We'll see if you can pass the test when one of our favorite sportswriters joins us straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Statue of Liberty, beautiful day. It's always interesting to look when the sun comes up. Oh, that's what the day looks like. We've been inside the studio all day.

Just a little over two weeks before college football kicks off for another season. And today we are talking about the rules of college fandom, when you can be a fan and when you cannot. It's a new article. It is acceptable to be a fan if you graduated from the school, you flunked out from the school, you're a professor, you married into the school, you have a kid at the school or you wanted to go there and something kept you from going. But you cannot be a fan if you grew up down the street from the school or you moved to a college town or your family went to the school but not you or if you went to an Ivy.

We'll talk more about that. Bryan Curtis wrote the article. Nice to have you.


O'BRIEN: Why did you feel the need to parse through what -- what you're clearly saying is authentic fans and fake fans.

CURTIS: I think college football starts in two weeks, like you said. And there's some confusion out there. Anybody can be a fan of the game, of college football itself. There's some confusion about when you can have a legitimate claim to a particular team. So I wanted, you know, it's an election season. There's a lot of misinformation out there and spirit of bipartisan, nonpartisanship --

O'BRIEN: Which we appreciate.

CURTIS: It's a fairly contentious show here. I wanted to just lay out the rules, so there would be no confusion at all.

CAIN: When you can say "we," right, in referring to a team. "We won." That's what you're laying out.

CURTIS: "We," right.

O'BRIEN: But how come it's acceptable if you wanted to go to the school but you didn't get to go, and it's not acceptable if your entire family went to the school and you just didn't happen to go?

CURTIS: Well, this is the thing. Let's say in a hardship case, I wanted to go to the university of Texas but I didn't have the grades, the money, my mom was sick. That's ok for me to be a Texas fan. If I look Texas in the face and said absolutely not, these academics are not good enough for me, this isn't the kind of place I want to go, then that is --


O'BRIEN: It's attitude.

CURTIS: -- that is, that's -- you were absolutely -- I am throwing the school under the bus and absolutely I'm not going to be a fan of the school. I'm not allowed, barred forever, absolutely.

CAIN: You can come back later and upgrade from your Ivy league school?

CURTIS: I think that's fair.

O'BRIEN: So -- so it's not just picking it. You can't shift allegiances in the middle?

CURTIS: Well we have some chases where you can shift, I mean, I think one of our contributors over here, Mister -- Mr. Cain went to --

O'BRIEN: You were a shifter?

CAIN: I have a legitimate case to make.

CURTIS: Pepperdine undergrad.

SOCARIDES: Pepperdine undergrad which explains a lot, I think.

CURTIS: With no football team.

O'BRIEN: Right. CURTIS: So he's essentially an NCAA free agent. Then he goes to grad school at the University of Texas, so his fandom is very legitimate.

O'BRIEN: How come you can't be a fan if you went to an Ivy? John Berman and I who went to Harvard are a little offended.

HARLOW: I thought football is pretty good, I went to Columbia and I sat through some miserable seasons.

O'BRIEN: Yes, that's true. You did.


CURTIS: First of all to be clear, you can be a fan of the Harvard football team, right? Ryan -- Ryan Fitzpatrick went undefeated I'm pretty sure in 2004. Now plays for the Buffalo Bills. That's pretty you know, that's Ivy League football, that's pretty good.

But number two just think of this way, what if I said look, I went to the University of Texas, but I'll always claim Harvard's research library and celebrity professors like Alan Dershowitz as my own.

HARLOW: You got to take the thing.

CURTIS: Of course I've loved Alan Dershowitz since I was a kid. He's my professor -- you wouldn't be -- you went to Harvard and you get to claim Alan Dershowitz as your hero? That sounds absolutely ridiculous. And the same thing at Harvard, well, I loved LSU my whole life of course I can -- come on. That's just absurd.

O'BRIEN: Bryan Curtis, the article is on ESPN's and it is hilariously funny. Thanks for coming in and to talk to us about it. We appreciate it.

CURTIS: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: We have to talk John about who we're going to pick to go to sports.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, a massive shipment of those gorgeous, luxurious red soled shoes, knocked off stores, stopped in their tracks. We'll tell you what -- what they would have gone for if they'd hit the market. That's coming up next.

You're watching STARTING POINT. A short break we're back in a moment.


BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone.

A quick check of some of the stories we're following this morning. U.S. Customs turns into a giant shoe closet after agents seize thousands of fake Christian Louboutin shoes in Los Angeles. I say it right, yes, yes.

O'BRIEN: You got it, good.

BERMAN: Thank you. The nearly 20,500 pairs of counterfeit red soled shoes -- they're famous red soles on these shoes it could have brought in $18 million. That's a lot of money, if they had reached the underground market.

There was a wild ride through the streets of midtown Manhattan yesterday as a spooked carriage horse broke loose and bolted up Broadway yesterday afternoon right outside CNN here. A couple in the back of the carriage were thrown to the ground. Thankfully the passengers and the drivers they suffered only very minor injuries.

Now this terrifying crash caught on camera, look at that car go down that hill. This car obliterated as it flips down a mountain during the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The drivers, they miraculously survive.

But even better, they were on Piers Morgan last night talking about this accident. Listen to them.


YURI KOUZNETSOV, RACE CAR CRASH SURVIVOR: The moment I knew it was all over for us is kind of when we started to get towards the gravel and flying off the edge. So I had a slight delayed reaction. But pretty much after that, it was just tumble, tumble, try to hang on and just hope for it to stop as soon as possible.


BERMAN: Tumble, tumble. Just a little tumble down the hill. Look at that car. It's crazy.

SOCARIDES: And they say they are going to do it again.

BERMAN: Well, Piers asked them. And they said, they're going to do it again. They are like well, not tomorrow. But maybe, maybe someday we'll go back and do it again.

O'BRIEN: Oh my goodness, I think one of the guys just had his arm in a sling. But they were really not badly injured at all. Wow.

BERMAN: Just lucky.

O'BRIEN: So this week's "CNN Hero" is bringing hope and some opportunity to the young mothers, some as young as 11 years old. Take a look.


CATALINA ESCOBAR, CNN HERO: Teen pregnancy in Cartagena is a very big issue. When you go to the slums, it is unbelievable what you see.

Many of my girls live here.

This is so wrong.

You see these girls, they are babies holding babies.

About 10 years ago, I was volunteering at this maternity hospital. And I was holding this baby. And he passed away with me. His teen mother failed to raise the money to cover the treatment. Four days later, my own son passed away in an accident. I realized I didn't want any mother to feel the same grief that I went through.

My name is Catalina Escobar. And I'm helping teen moms get a healthy and productive life for them and for their babies. When we first started at the maternity hospital, we reduced dramatically the infant mortality rate. But the real problem was much bigger than that.

My girls end up being pregnant because they don't have sexual education and many of my girls are sexually abused. When my girls come, they drop their babies in the day care center. We have different workshops so they can develop their skills.

We are changing the lives of these girls. If you give them the right tools, they are capable of moving forward.


O'BRIEN: "End Point" is up next. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: For our "End Point," we start with a viewer whose name is Frank Wida from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. And he -- we were talking yesterday about Vice President Biden's "chains" remark and also the hostile tone of the debate overall. Here's what he said about that.


FRANK WIDA: These words should not be used at all -- Republicans or Democrats. President Obama should denounce them. And even some of the words that Republicans are using, we should step in and say this is not where we want to be as a country.

We're a great country. Our political system is great also. It's just we get bogged down in words sometimes. We need to talk about jobs and what's really going on with this country and how we move forward to be the great country that we are.


O'BRIEN: Frank tweets us every single day here on STARTING POINT.


So if you want to follow his tweet, you can send your comments as well. Keep it to about 20 seconds and we'll pick one, put it at the end of our show. Go to our blog at

And "End Point" for Poppy, you start us off.

HARLOW: Sure. You know, you just talked to Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, and he said he thinks that we can have a debate about immigration and not make it political.

I disagree. It has to be political because it's about money. The state budget, the federal budget is strapped. It's about who and what you're going to give money to. And that is political.

SOCARIDES: I thought the most interesting thing about the Arizona interview was that I mean we litigated this -- this federal government litigated this with Arizona, all the way to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court ruled that Arizona could not set immigration policy. Just a couple of months ago. And they are back at it now.

O'BRIEN: She would say we're not setting immigration policy. What we're doing is saying we're not going to give driver's licenses.

SOCARIDES: That's what they would say.

O'BRIEN: And I bet that's the nuance -- that will be the nuance that they will say.

Will Cain what have you got?

CAIN: I want to return to a poll you talked about earlier that showed Paul Ryan's high favorability ratings in Wisconsin. This is the most encouraging thing I've seen for the Ryan/Romney ticket. Here's why. He is still unknown nationally. Polls show people don't know who Paul Ryan is. But when you combine it with this poll it suggests when they do get to know him, they like him.

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting obviously. A lot of this week has been all about introducing Paul Ryan. We'll see where next --

SOCARIDES: I think the Democrats had a good week this week. If the best news out of this is that he -- they are within four points in Wisconsin, if the best news six days into this is that they are within four points in the home state of the guy they picked, I'm feeling pretty good.

O'BRIEN: Coming up Monday on "STARTING POINT," we're going to be talking to Miss America 2012, Laura Kaeppeler. I wonder if she's going to let me wear her crown. And also the gospel diva and actress Tamala Mann will join us as well.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Alina Cho begins right now. Hey Alina good morning.