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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Afghans Spying on Police Army Troops; U.N. Humanitarian Chief on Syria; Syrian President's Exit Up for Discussion; Deadly Maryland Train Derailment; Suspect Allegedly Threatened President Obama; Akin: "I'm In this Race For The Long Haul"; Prince Harry Naked In Vegas; Diana Nyad Ends Attempt to from Cuba to Florida; U.S. Postal Service Lost Money on Homer Simpson Stamp

Aired August 22, 2012 - 07:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, he's staying in. Congressman Todd Akin defies calls to resign. He's going to stay in the Missouri Senate race. Will he -- his bid endanger Republican chances to regain the White House?

On the move this morning, tropical storm Isaac churning toward the Caribbean right now, threatening to swamp Florida during the Republican National Convention.

And Vegas hangover. Today, the palace is confirming that naked pictures of Prince Harry at a wild Las Vegas party are actually genuine. We're going to take you to London live this morning.

Have a packed show ahead. Endurance swimmer, Diana Nyad, will join us. NFL superstar, Warren Sapp is our guest. Tampa mayor, Bob Buckhorn, Mark McKinnon, he's a presidential campaign adviser to John McCain has written an article in the "Daily Beast" today, and Martin Frost, the former chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee joining me.

It's Wednesday, August 22nd, and "Starting Point" begins right now.

Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning is concern, moving from the state to the national stage as Republican Todd Akin now vows to stay in his Senate race. The Missouri representative says party leaders were wrong to abandon him after those controversial rape remarks. He's pressing on with his campaign to try to unseat Democrat Claire McCaskill even if he has to go it all alone. A reporter from CNN affiliate KSDK tried to get reaction from Congressman Akin at the St. Louis Airport. Here's how it went.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you upset with how the Republican Party did not back you during all this? Does it bother you that they kind of bailed on you?

REP. TODD AKIN, (R) MISSOURI: It's been exciting days. We're doing the best that we can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And do you still think you can win the race?

AKIN: I believe so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: We're going to talk all about that this morning. CNN's Dana Bash will be joining us in just a few moments. Also Mark McKinnon, he was a presidential campaign adviser to John McCain back in 2008. Now he's a contributor for the daily beast. He'll be joining us to talk about that as well.

First though I want to get right to John Berman. He's got a look at the day's top stories. Good morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Talking about weather, Soledad, because tropical storm Isaac threatening this morning in the Atlantic and it could pose a threat to Florida right smack in the middle of the Republican convention next week. Let's get the latest from meteorologist Rob Marciano in the CNN hurricane headquarters.

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, John. This thing is gaining a little bit of strength. There's another one right behind it but alk eyes on Isaac just a couple hundred miles east of the Leeward Islands. There have been tropical storm warnings posted for the northern islands and hurricane watches posted for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, 45-mile-per-hour winds. Forecast track from our several computer models bring them over the northern Caribbean island and help keep the intensity down a little bit. Not good news for the islands of Hispaniola and Cuba.

The official forecast track of the national hurricane center takes pretty much these computer models, and averages them with a little bit of human guidance, as well, of course, category 1 storm, getting towards Sunday and Monday towards the southern tip of the Florida peninsula. Getting into the gulf of Mexico. That's a potential. Missing everything and going east, that's also a potential. We're watching those scenarios closely. Hitting Tampa, that's a remote possibility as well.

BERMAN: Still a possibility. We are watching it very closely.

Coming up in our next hour with tropical storm Isaac posing a threat to Florida during next week's Republican national convention, we will talk to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn about how his city is preparing for the storm. What are the contingency plans. Meanwhile the West Nile virus scare in Dallas, an 11th victim a woman in her 80s died from the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes. The mayor also said aerial spraying of pesticides seems to be working. Officials are focused on spraying on the ground and removing standing water. There have been about 700 cases of West Nile reported nationwide, about a quarter of them so far in Dallas.

A controlled blast at the site of a New York subway demolition project goes wrong. This jolted nerves, shattered windows, sent smoke and debris up into the street. No injuries were reported from it. City officials are now inspecting surrounding buildings for structural issues. A source told a local station a protective covering which was meant to trap debris wasn't positioned properly.

Get ready for this Prince Harry in the buff. Buckingham Palace official confirming to CNN this morning that photos posted on TMZ of a naked prince Harry are, in fact, really a naked Prince Harry. TMZ says he's playing a game of drunk strip pool with an unidentified woman in a Vegas hotel suite. We will have a live report from Buckingham palace straight ahead.

Not affecting apparently Republican politics, just days before the Republican convention a new poll has president Obama and Mitt Romney running neck and neck. The NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll has President Obama and Vice President Biden at 48 percent, Mitt Romney and Congressman Ryan at 44 percent. That is within the margin of error so in polling we pretty much call that a dead heat.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it is. However all of that could change, and we keep talking about it, right back to CNN's Dana Bash from Washington, D.C. Dana, you have been talking with your sources already this morning. What are they telling you, the polling that we just heard John talk about is really what's at stake here clearly.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it definitely is at stake. And the key question is will he or won't he? Will he ultimately get out of the race? I just got off the phone with a senior Republican source who said that frustrated party officials do not expect him to get out of the race in the next few days. They don't know if he will at all. This source said that Republicans are quote, preparing to grind it out for now, at least do that for a while.

Republican leaders, according to this and other sources I'm talking to, say they're waiting to watch a few dynamics to see how they unfold. One is how Akin feels when he's back home. You see pictures of him right there. He's at the airport. He hasn't been in his home state of Missouri. He's been in Ohio, holed up in his political consultant's office for the past two days. The question is now how does he feel that he's back in St. Louis? Does he feel isolated? That's an open question.

The other one is an important one for any campaign, that is money. How much money can he raise? How much will he have? The party has already made clear they're not giving him any. Outside groups like Karl Rove's won't give him any. Can he raise enough from angry activists to stay in his campaign? That's another thing party officials are watching.

The big question is does what's happening in the state of Missouri have bigger implications and repercussions for the national election, right? I mean, more of the reasons this is so interesting because the question is what does this do to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan?

BASH: Exactly. And one of the key, key questions within that, is women. What does it mean for the female vote. You mentioned "The Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll that shows effectively neck and neck between president Obama and Mitt Romney. That is not true among women. It's not even close. I want you to look at this poll. There's a gender gap that is ten points. President Obama, I believe, we have the graphic, is beating Mitt Romney by ten points, 51 to 10 and that certainly has not been helped at all.

O'BRIEN: I think you mean 51 percent --

BASH: To 41 percent. Thank you, 51 percent to 41 percent, 10-point lead. It doesn't help at all with the fact that down in Tampa yesterday, the party adopted a platform that they had several years before, but it does not have an exemption for abortion when a woman is raped. It puts a spotlight on that issue, and it certainly does not help the Romney campaign. And I've talked to several senior officials who say that obviously they want to be talking about the economy. And they don't want to be talking about this. And Democrats are already calling that a plank that was adopted by the party yesterday, the Akin amendment.

O'BRIEN: All right, Dana Bash for us this morning. Thanks.

Our next guest calls Representative Todd Akin's statement on pregnancy and rape the quote, political equivalent of the GOP riding over an IED, improvised explosive device. And the shrapnel that continues is shredding everyone. Mark McKinnon, who was a presidential campaign adviser to John McCain back in 2008, now he's contributor for the daily beast and the global vice chair, it's nice to have you with us. Akin is portraying this as I misspoke, I said one word wrong, I think that's the quote that he's been saying, and yet you're calling it shrapnel. Why do you think it's so much more relevant and important than one word?

MARK MCKINNON, FORMER MCCAIN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN ADVISER: The issue is a, the problem, but, b, the timing of the words. This is a time when Republicans were trying to ramp up for the convention, wanted to have a message of tolerance, diversity, big tent, and wanted to have a focus on economic issues. Suddenly now we're having the focus drawn back in to issues that Republicans really don't want to be talking about, except for somebody like Todd Akin, who has, you know, fairly prehistoric notions about some of these social issues, which are -- which are anathema for women across the board. I mean, Republicans --

O'BRIEN: We just had a poll.

MCKINNON: That gender gap is only going to widen now. This was a time when Republicans hoped to be improving it with messages that are much more women-friendly. So, this is a very bad distraction at a terrible time.

O'BRIEN: So the big, I guess, goal of Democrats right now is take advantage of the timing.

MCKINNON: Sure.

O'BRIEN: Take advantage of the conversation that they're happy is not about the economy, and also, do whatever they can to connect Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to Todd Akin.

MCKINNON: Sure. And that's the other part of the problem with timing, is that focusing on this issue brings focus to Paul Ryan's record and Mitt Romney's record on the issues, which isn't good. You know, John McCain, when he was running for president tried to get this language out of the platform.

I made the point in my column in the daily beast today, I talked to a reporter recently who said I couldn't remember a convention where platform became an issue, a platform issue became a big issue that had an impact on the election. My mind may be changed by this convention and this issue, because of the timing. It's bringing -- attracting focus to the platform itself, the abortion plank on the platform, which is more conservative than it's ever been in the language, the human life amendment. So for all of the independent and GOP-leaning women watching this convention right now, all they're hearing about are -- is about this issue that Akin has now brought front and center.

O'BRIEN: And reading the draft of the plank.

MCKINNON: Which otherwise we never probably would have heard about.

O'BRIEN: Right, before we even get into the convention. We're going to keep you around with us this morning. We appreciate your time. We're going to take a short break. Still ahead, we're going to talk to Diana Nyad, talk about the jellyfish stings, the storms, and really what it was that finally forced her to give up her dream to swim from Cuba to Florida.

MCKINNON: Then we'll tell you how the postal service has wasted $1 million it doesn't have on Simpson stamps, Homer Simpson stamps, our "Get Real" this morning. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Christine Romans, minding your business this morning. The jury hearing Apple's patent suit against Samsung begins deliberations in California today. This is one of the biggest tech patent lawsuits in history. Apple claims Samsung copied the look and function of its smartphone and tablet products. Apple is seeking $2.5 billion in damages, asking that Samsung be banned from selling products in the U.S.

After reports of deplorable condition, and worker suicides, the Apple products plant in China run by Foxcon is getting higher marks from the fair labor association. This new report from FLA says the plant has reduced long hours and improved safety measures. Other improvements, making sure the people who make Apple products take breaks. And there are some design changes to equipment to help avoid injuries. And Soledad, futures are looking a little slower overall.

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

Well she faced the threat of sharks and storms and horrific jellyfish stings all for a dream that she's had since she was eight years old. So at the age of 62 Diana Nyad made her fourth attempt to swim the 100 plus miles from Cuba to Florida. But after more than 60 hours in the water, and halfway to her goal, she had to give up. I had a chance to speak with Diana just a few moments ago from Key West, Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) O'BRIEN: Tell me how you're feeling this morning.

DIANA NYAD, LONG DISTANCE SWIMMER: You know, there's a physical and there's no doubt this water beats you up, and I feel a little like I've been in a boxing ring for a few rounds. But it's much more the emotional. You know, Soledad, it's sort of like I believe in living life large. Just have all my life. It's what helps me get through to the end of each day and each month and hopefully to the end of my whole experience in life with no regrets, that I just throw everything, all my passion, all my heart, all my brain, at every day.

And I tell you I can look at this, these last three years, I have absolutely no regrets. It was a thrill to be this immersed in this difficult a task. The thing that's hard for me to let go of is the history. I had history in the palm of my hand, and it was epic. No one's ever done this passage, and for good reason. And I truly wanted to be the one. It's been in my imagination, you know, since I've been very young. Not just in my 20s as a marathon swimmer. When I was eight and nine years old, in Fort Lauderdale Florida right as the revolution happened in Cuba and a flood of Cubans came to America, and I had many Cuban friends, like millions of people, I was filled with a mystique of those people, that land over there.

O'BRIEN: So then why --

NYAD: And their music and their athletes.

O'BRIEN: So then why are you saying this is your last attempt? I would have thought maybe number five?

NYAD: You know what, I'm not a quitter. And there's nothing that could keep me from going over there again. It doesn't matter about big summer storms that come through, and gulf streams that are tricky to navigate, none of all that stuff matters.

But, Soledad, the damn jellyfish are frightening. I was stung across the lips. It's not just pain. I can tolerate pain. But these animals take you down. They take your heart and your lungs, and slow your weight. They can be fatal. Many people die from the box jellyfish, and they're now prolific out here.

So, I'm out there swimming. I got the world's expert in box jellyfish, Dr. Angel from Hawaii. I created with a company a suit that they cannot sting through but I can swim in. I made a hood, swam with little booties. I mean it's not easy to swim with all this stuff. But at night just the lips were exposed because my god, I have to breathe. You can't cover the mouth, too. A tiny, I'm telling you, no thinner than the strand of this hair, one hair, that jellyfish came wisping across my lips, took me into searing pain, started to take my heartbeat down, and I couldn't breathe, and I mean chills all over, and I'm debilitated all night by nine of those stings. And I went through three nights, stings each night.

You know what, Soledad? That's not, to me, what sport is all about. I'm out there to show my will, and to show that this 62-year-old body is pretty darn strong and fit, to show that I have a team that's expert in all their dimensions. We were like a fine-oiled machine moving across. It was fantastic. The jellyfish, they're too big for me.

O'BRIEN: Those pictures.

NYAD: What do I do?

O'BRIEN: Those pictures of your lips, and they've come down a little bit on your lips now, but your lips were so, I mean, looked really terrible and terribly painful. So when you look back and assess it all, and aren't you 63 today? Isn't today your birthday?

NYAD: You know, it is. You know, I keep forgetting that because I have so many other things washing around in my mind. But, in fact, I am 63 today.

O'BRIEN: Was it all worth it? When you look back, all that and I don't just mean the last four attempts, I mean sort of a dream from the time you were eight-years-old, has it all been worth it?

NYAD: Sure. Because, you know, then really, let's extrapolate and you'd say, has your life been worth it? So I've decided to live life passionately. You know, what's that Mary Oliver quote, sort of to paraphrase it, "So what are you going to do with this one, wild and precious life of yours? Do you really want to get to the end?" Not to criticize people, but do you really want to get to the end and saw, wow, if I really added it up I spent about 45 of my 90 years lying around the couch eating Cheetos. Is that wild and precious? Does that define a wild and precious life?

I go for it. And everybody around me came to me yesterday with tears streaming down their faces and said that these last three years have been the most intense, valuable times of their lives. They felt awake and alert and very much alive. And that's how I feel every day, make it to the other shore or not. So yes, very much worthwhile.

Diana Nyad, always nice to see you, and nice to talk to you. Happy birthday. Congratulations to you. It was fun for us, too, to watch and root for you every step of the way. We appreciate it. We appreciate your team who talked to us along the way, as well. Thanks for being with us.

NYAD: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: I love watching her.

Still ahead this morning, on STARTING POINT, today's get real. A sticky problem for the post office under fire for a special Simpson's stamp. We'll tell you why. The STARTING POINT team is heading in to talk about that Margaret Hoover, Jay Fielden, Hank Sheinkopf, Mark McKinnon is going to stick around with us. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our team this morning, Jay Fielden is joining us. He's the editor in chief of "Town and Country." Margaret Hoover is with us, a former White House appointee in the Bush administration, and Hank Sheinkopf, Democratic strategist. Should I keep you guys together there?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, we like it.

O'BRIEN: Stop, stop. Stop it. Moving on, Mark McKinnon is with us, a former McCain adviser, contributor to the daily best. Of course John Berman has just joined CNN, our news anchor.

We start with the U.S. Postal Service. It's just completely wrong when they thought that Homer Simpson and the Simpsons would outsell Elvis in the commemorative stamp department. They produced a billion Simpson stamps -- really, a billion? Well just a million, which would have been fine, a billion in honor of the show's 20th season. They only sold 318 million, which honestly sounds high to me. Officials say the postal service, which, of course, wasted $1.2 million in printing costs, already expected to lose $15 million in this fiscal year.

You know, I don't get the whole commemorative stamp thing anyway. Because they seem like they're --

HOOVER: I love commemorative stamps.

(LAUGHTER)

MCKINNON: I'm going to buy low. I'm going to go buy --

O'BRIEN: Really?

SHEINKOPF: Why not? When you had a trillion, sell.

O'BRIEN: But the cost is so much higher. If there was no cost to it. If it doesn't cost any more than your regular stamp, right?

SHEINKOPF: This shows a basic lack of understanding and demography. People who are older use postage so they're going to buy Elvis. That's part of their life.

HOOVER: And anyone who is going to buy Bart Simpson is just going to send an e-mail.

(CROSSTALK)

SHEINKOPF: I'm with you, commemorative stamps, Margaret, I love commemorative stamps.

JAY FIELDEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: But the truth I wouldn't put a Simpson stamp on a letter that you wanted somebody to take serious.

O'BRIEN: Yes. It seems odd, seems odd. Anyway they lost a lot of money.

HOOVER: And they're about to come due with $5.5 billion of payments to the treasury.

SHEINKOPF: It's all credit cards. We have no sense --

O'BRIEN: Which brings a topic to we don't have time for. We want to know what you think about this story. Send us a video, 20 seconds in total would be good, about a point you want to make about the show today. We're calling it "My Endpoint," meaning your endpoint, not my endpoint. We're going to pick one, include it at the end of the show. Go to our blog at CNN.com/startingpoint if you want us to pick your video.

We've got to take a short break. Still ahead this morning, a new challenger stepping up in the late night wars. Jimmy Kimmel is now going to pose a direct challenge to Leno and Letterman, swapping time slots. Also a piece of history lost is found in someone's attic. Martin Luther king Jr. in his own words, straight ahead.

And our top story, standing his ground, the man who used the words "legitimate rape" now refusing to quit the Senate race. How much damage could this do to Mitt Romney? Former congressman Tom Davis is going to join us. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. In just a few moments we're going to be talking to former NFL defensive tackle Warren Sapp. He's big, he's outspoken, now he's written a book, he's an author. He's the author of "Sapp Attack."

This book is so funny, it is so entertaining, read it yesterday. He's going to join us live in the studio straight ahead.

First though, I want to get right to John Berman. He's got an update on the day's top stories. Good morning again.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": Good morning, Soledad. We're going to start overseas right now. Afghan officials stepping up efforts to spy on their own police and army recruits.

This comes after a series of so-called insider attacks that have left nine U.S. troops dead over the last two weeks. The U.S. military is in critical of Afghan forces for not doing enough to weed out insurgents within their own ranks.

The U.N.'s humanitarian chief will give us an update on Syria today. Last week, she provided a dire account. More than 1 million people uprooted. A million more in urgent need of aid.

Syria's deputy minister says any discussion of President Bashar Al- Assad's resignation will only happen after a dialogue with Syrian rebels.

That's what he told Russian state TV yesterday during a visit to Moscow. An activist says 230 people were killed across the country just yesterday. Federal investigators trying to determine the cause of a freight train derailment in Maryland that killed two young women who were tragically in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And they sent tweets right before they died. The 19-year-old Elizabeth Nass and Rose Mayer, they were sitting on the edge of the railroad bridge in Ellicott City when a passing CSX train jumped the tracks.

Moments before the women had tweeted these photos of themselves. One showed feet dangling over the bridge with a caption, levitating. The other said drinking on top of the Ellicott sign with Rose.

A Washington State man arrested for allegedly making threats against President Obama will appear in court today. Investigators say 31- year-old Anton Caluori sent alarming e-mails to the FBI.

According to the Secret Service, Caluori came to the door with a shotgun when investigators arrived at his suburban Seattle apartment. Agents found two weapons.

Investigators say he also made comments about explosives so they did a sweep. No explosives were found. Investigators would not specify what was said in those e-mails.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his own words. An audiotape containing an unheard 1960 interview with Dr. King turned up in someone's attic in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

This was about three years before his "I Have A dream" speech. In it, King talks about the progress of the civil rights movement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What effect are the citizens having on the progress of the southern Negro in his struggle for equality?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a tremendous effect. I am convinced that when the history books are written in future years, historians will have to record this movement as one of the greatest epics of our heritage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That audio just crystal clear. The man who uncovered the interview said his father had interviewed Dr. King for a book on racism, but it was a book he never finished.

So beginning in January Jimmy Kimmel will go head-to-head with Jay Leno and David Letterman in late night. ABC announced plans to move "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to 11:35, bumping nightline later.

Kimmel says he's been quietly hoping for this. His show celebrates its 10th anniversary next year. Kimmel will host the Emmy Awards next month. More TV news, Regis Philbins replacement has reportedly been decided. Tray Journal Broadcasting Cable reporting Michael Strahan will take over as co-host of live with Kelly Ripa.

The former NFL star is expected to keep his other job with Fox NFL on Sundays, this long-running morning show will make it official, we're told, in early September -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: I think he is such an interesting choice. MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Thinking outside the box.

O'BRIEN: Which is great. He's been great on the show. Women love him. Their audience is women. He'll do anything. He's really fun. I support that. He does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'll do anything.

O'BRIEN: Like it should have been me. I was robbed!

Let's talk politics, shall we? This morning Congressman Ted Akin is speaking out about defying requests from his party to step aside. He told ABC News this morning that the people of Missouri should have the final say.

He said this, I don't think it's right for party bosses to override those voters so I think really we should allow things to stand and let the election process unfold.

His party bosses had hoped that it would unfold without him. Akin is now using those comments about legitimate rape to try to raise money for his campaign for Senate writing on a new web page I made a mistake, I'm sorry.

Liberals and pundits want to write me off and hand the Senate seat back to Claire. About 4,000 people have currently signed on his petition. He's also asking for $3 donations on that page.

He ignores Mitt Romney and many others who said this, Mitt Romney, today, fellow Missourians urged him to step aside and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race.

Brings us all right to Tom Davis. He is a former Republican congressman from the state of Virginia, chairman of the -- former chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee. He is the president and CEO of Republican Main Street Partnership.

Nice to see you, Tom. Great to see you. Usually we get to have you in person, but not today. You say you think his decision makes a lot of sense. That puts you kind of over here whenever the other Republicans I talked to, or many of them at least, are over here. Why do you think it makes sense?

TOM DAVIS (R), FORMER VIRGINIA CONGRESSMAN: It make sense, the only card he's got to play on this is his candidacy and I have dealt with getting candidacies out after they've done stupid things, been exposed on scandals and the like. And the first question is, you know, what happens to me afterwards if I bow out of the race, am I employable anywhere? My reputation is intact? So these discussions, I think, will continue.

You missed one deadline. You have another deadline coming up in September. It's going to cost him a little money to get out at this point. I think he wants to play it out. You know, ordinarily this race could still be a winnable race for him.

But because it's got a national context now, I think it becomes less likely and the voters of Missouri probably weigh against him. But he's got to play this out.

That's why it makes sense, if you know Todd and how candidates react to this kind of thing. So look, there's still a month to see if he gets out or not. But his comments are now in a national context.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about that national context with our panelists for a moment. I mean really, that's the reason why we're talking about this. If it was a race in Missouri, it would have no context actually.

MARK MCKINNON, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": I think it is a national context now and it's overtaking, what are we talking about ramping up to the Republican convention?

We're talking about abortion, an issue the Republicans want to put in the back seat, want to be talking about the economy. So we're talking about social issues when we should be talking about economic issues.

O'BRIEN: Because the polling, of course, when you're talking about abortion, especially if you're talking about exceptions to the law, Republicans support those exceptions, right?

HOOVER: The 67 percent of Republicans actually agree with Mitt Romney that rape should be allowed in the cases of -- I'm sorry -- my gosh, abortions should be allowed in cases of rape and incest.

And 67 percent of Republicans agree with that. In fact, serious convention fights, platform convention fights in 1996, 2000 and in 2004 to have broad language that states language in the convention platform. The convention platform doesn't represent the majority of Republicans.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the convention platform and we'll throw it up there on the screen. Faithful to the self-evident truths enshrined in the declaration of independence we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life, which cannot be infringed.

We support a human life amendment to the constitution, and endorse legislation to make clear that the fourteenth amendment's protections apply to unborn children. There are no exceptions in that platform. And this, I should say, is a draft, obviously -- go ahead, Tom.

DAVIS: This is consistent with what they've said before. Usually you have fewer people read the platform than read the affordable health care act. I mean, generally these are put out there for the activists.

The average person doesn't read it. It's still referred to many times candidates have differing views in the platform. But because the convention is made of up of activists, you get both sides try to get these views that are sometimes out of the mainstream across.

O'BRIEN: Does it matter the platform? I heard you earlier Margaret saying the platform, isn't that the philosophy of a party? Is their platform?

HOOVER: I mean, one would hope, right? But the problem, you know, their approach is Republicans in the Republican Party who don't feel their views are adequately reflected in the platform.

I liken this to the budgeting process. It's a road map for how we want to spend our government funds. Do the appropriators stick to it? No. Frankly, most of the time we don't, that's why we have a $16 trillion debt.

O'BRIEN: Go ahead, Tom. I'd give you the final word.

DAVIS: Let me argue, the Democrats have a platform on abortion, too. They wouldn't let Governor Casey speak, who was pro-life. There are pro-life Democrats. Platforms don't represent everybody.

But as I said, this is kind of the activists write these at the convention and candidates generally ignore them. Just remember this. After the Republican convention, you've got the Democratic convention.

And then September 8th we get the new job statistics. I think that will bring this back to the economy.

O'BRIEN: And every single Republican is certainly hoping that. We're going to keep talking about this issue. I've got to take a commercial break.

Still ahead this morning, unfortunately for Prince Harry, we're talking about this. Naked pictures of the prince online, because what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas obviously especially if you're a member of the royals.

The palace now confirming they are the real thing, genuine pictures. We're going to talk about that straight ahead.

And NFL superstar Warren Sapp will join us. Never afraid on the football field with my son. His new book is called "Sapp Attack." He's coming out and joining us next.

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O'BRIEN: To be a fly on the royal wall in the royal palace this morning. I just love doing those British accents. Confirming this morning, the royal palace that is, that the photos that are posted on TMZ are actually, yes, the real, nude Prince Harry, partying up with some real, nude woman in Vegas.

Matthew Chance is live from Buckingham Palace with the very latest on the scandal. I think it's fair to say, Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a scandal, isn't it? Another one to affect Prince Harry, pretty salacious photographs.

These you can see, Prince Harry, obviously naked in what appears to be a private suite in a hotel in Las Vegas where he's been pictured, of course, over the course of the past week or so vacationing, as you said, from his duties at the Olympic Games here in London.

I think what's interesting, though, about these pictures, they raise two very important issues. The one is the issue of privacy. I mean, Prince Harry is a 27-year-old man. He's single. He's not doing anything illegal.

And obviously somebody in his entourage, inside this private suite, chose to photograph this act, and to make those photographs available to the media and so there's concerns about the security of his entourage, or so.

And also, the appropriateness, as well, of showing photographs like this, something we've agonized with at CNN, obviously. But it also raises the issue of his judgment. Prince Harry has been involved in all sorts of controversies similar to this in the past. This is just another example of that.

O'BRIEN: Well, you could focus less on security around the entourage, and just do a don't pick up women and then get naked with them with people with cameras around theory of how to stay off of TMZ might be a good strategy.

What does the palace say? They've had to deal with these scandals, Matthew, in all seriousness, in the past. Do they -- is there an expectation that they're going to come down hard on Prince Harry? Is there an expectation that they'll just ignore it? What's supposed to happen next?

CHANCE: I can imagine that nothing is really going to happen publicly. I mean, officially Clarence House, which is the official home of Prince Harry and his father, Prince Charles, here in London, have confirmed to us here at CNN that these photos are genuine.

Privately, they're saying that, you know, the prince messed up on this occasion. I expect he'll get a dressing-down by his press advisers and no doubt by his father, Prince Charles, as well. But, I think it's unlikely we're going to see any kind of tightening of security around him beyond those sort of words.

I think it's really interesting to note that none of the British media, none of the tabloid newspapers in this country, that have a reputation for being, you know, notorious in grabbing images like this, none of them have picked this up. They've all decided that this would be an invasion of the prince's privacy, it seems. O'BRIEN: That's so interesting. That's so interesting. Although I think dressing down is kind of an interesting word to use, Matthew.

Here in the United States we have a little different take on it. Matthew chance for us this morning. Thanks, Matthew, for the update. Don't get naked and have a party. I mean, really and people with cameras.

MCKINNON: Goodness. The strict rule --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- what he knows how to do best, which is do nothing and have other people pay for it. That's how he got in trouble in Vegas.

O'BRIEN: Having your friends with cameras -- when you're naked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he does have a job. The tradition of being a prince in England, blood thirstiness, accruing gambling debts, promiscuity, this is something you have to live up to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a way of life, yes.

HOOVER: He's taking a break from the Olympics just finished, but the paralympics are about to start next week and so he's here on a break. He'll be back.

Hopefully his first time in front of the cameras will be for the paralympics. They sold 2 million tickets to the paralympics which is extraordinary for Olympic history. He could appear, generate publicity for the paralympics in London.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're talking to NFL great Warren Sapp. He dominated the gridiron for 13 years and dominated the dance floor, "Dancing with the Stars."

Does he still have the moves? We're going to find out. Get ready for a Sapp attack as NFL superstar Warren Sapp joins us live in the studio. You're watching STARTING POINT.

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O'BRIEN: Warren Sapp is a former tough defensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Bucks known for his rough plays on the football field, his slick moves on the dance floor. Stop acting like I'm not saying things that aren't true.

He's now an author. He's got a new book called "Sapp Attack," 13 seasons as NFL star, yes, even his performance on "Dancing with the Stars." He joins us this morning.

This book, I know about this much about football, but this book is so entertaining and hilarious. It could be called why I love Tony Dungy. You saved some of your nicest inspirational words for Tony Dungy.

I'm going to read a little bit from page 109, Tony liked to say he didn't want the 53 best players. Talent alone will not get it done. He wanted 53 players who worked together to give us the best chance to win. He taught the game in the simplest form. Why did you love him so much?

WARREN SAPP, FORMER NFL PLAYER: For that reason right there, but more than that, he was a rock. Every day he walked into a place that 12 years before he got there, 11 of them were double-digit loss seasons.

We had a whole turn around to do. He did it every day. He walked in there with a stern and steadfast attitude about how we were going to get it done. And what he was asking, that's your job.

In each position we had on the football field. And whenever you have a coach like that, it's easy for you to go to work. Go through a 1-7 start. Our first game, we were 1-7.

And I was quoted as saying it's the happiest 1-7 team I'd ever been on. We enjoyed going to work because he taught us what it was going to be to be a champion. He played with the '70 Steelers.

So we looking at him, whatever you got for us, we'll run through that wall if you point that way. I love the man because he came to work every day and he instilled in us the work ethic and the things that we needed to do to be great professionals about our job.

O'BRIEN: You described the moment that was a turning point for the team. I think it was Chris Fermin, right, on ESPN said the Tampa Bay Yucks.

SAPP: I mean, Brooks is sitting there watching and we're laying in the bed, we in California at the time. We get to watch "Game Day," countdown, so we watching "Countdown" and he preceded to cut us -- the Yucks.

Bounce the next three off your head, hit him in the face and still have a higher quarterback rate than -- and I went are you kidding me? So at that point, we went down to breakfast. I said, they called us the Yucks, fellas. We walk on the field and we're down 14-0 before we break a sweat but end up winning the game 25-14, and had a 30 for 40 day. And the rest is history.

O'BRIEN: You read a lot about the high school career, the University of Miami, and you clearly love the game of football. But all the people that brought you along too.

SAPP: I had to because it was almost like Obama said you have some people that help you along the way. And I just wanted to acknowledge them because when you take off and you leave a little small town like Plymouth and go down to the University of Miami.

And you're on the world stage doing this, you have to look back and say there were some beautiful people that helped me get out of that little town and get me on this stage and I wanted to say thank you.

O'BRIEN: This is what you write about "Dancing with the Stars." I didn't know you were a good dancer. I never would've guessed it.

SAPP: You've got to be able to move your feet and I had a beautiful partner.

O'BRIEN: It never looked like this.

SAPP: I never had a beautiful woman dancing with me.

O'BRIEN: People were surprised.

SAPP: There were 250-pound men wanting to take my head off. I loved that.

O'BRIEN: This is why I think the book is so funny. Here's what you write about it. "Dancing with the Stars" didn't seem like a good fit for me. Maybe if they wanted me for tackling the stars I would have said yes instantly. Was it fun to do that?

SAPP: Listen --

O'BRIEN: You've been retired five years now, right?

SAPP: Yes, I never had a choice. When I got the call that asked me to do "Dancing with the Stars" and I walked into my living room and asked my wife at the time I said "Dancing with the Stars."

I didn't look over and see my little girl on the couch. She jumped up and said, you doing it and called both grandmas. So I had no choice to give it all I got.

O'BRIEN: Any regrets about your career?

SAPP: No.

O'BRIEN: Not one thing? You hit some people very hard, sometimes, and even in clean tackles.

SAPP: I know the checklist. And I look at it back now 10 years after the fact and, might have been a little unnecessary, but it was fun at the time. I've got to be honest with you. It was between the lines and it was going down.

O'BRIEN: My goodness. You want to stand around and talk about Congressman Todd Akin this morning?

SAPP: I want to give him one thing, a rocket booster to get up out of here.

O'BRIEN: Warren Sapp, his book is called "Sapp Attack, My Story." It's nice to have you with us this morning.

SAPP: Thank you for having me.

O'BRIEN: We appreciate having you.

Still ahead this morning, we are talking about Congressman Todd Akin facing big challenges in forgiveness and fundraising. It looks like both are drying up a bit. We'll talk about that. Plus we're talking about Tropical Storm Isaac could become a hurricane in Florida, around Tampa, around the Republican National Convention. We'll discuss the chances of that straight ahead. You're watching STARTING POINT. Back in a moment.

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