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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Defiant Akin Staying in the Race; Tropical Storm Isaac Could Threaten Republican Convention; Another Interview With Bob Buckhorn; Pictures Emerge of Prince Harry Nude; First Cameraman

Aired August 22, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Our STARTING POINT this morning, speaking out, Congressman Todd Akin going on TV to explain himself once again.

On the move, Tropical Storm Isaac is turning toward the Caribbean right now threatening to swamp Florida.

And Vegas hangover. This morning, the palace is confirming that, yes, indeed, those naked pictures are of Prince Harry at a wild Las Vegas party. They're genuine.

I got a packed show for you ahead this morning. First, official White House photographer Arun Chaudhary is going to join us. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will be our guest. Martin Frost, the former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will be joining us, as well.

It's Wednesday, August 22nd. And STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Our team this morning: Jay Fielden joins us. He's the editor in chief of "Town and Country."

Margaret Hoover is a former White House appointee in the Bush administration.

Hank Sheinkopf is a Democratic strategist.

Mark McKinnon, former McCain advisor, contributor to "The Daily Beast."

And John Berman, bringing us the news today and the anchor of "EARLY START."

Our STARTING POINT this morning is what is now the defiant Republican, new comments coming from Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin. He's in the race to stay, he says, despite calls by party leaders to quit.

On "Good Morning America" this morning, he said he's staying in, lest though, a little bit ambiguous. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: George, I'm never going to say everything that can possibly happen. I don't know the future. But I do know this -- I knew that the party voters took a look at our hearts, understood who we were, had a chance to meet us in many, many different ways and made a decision.

And it makes me uncomfortable to think that the party bosses are going to dictate who runs as opposed to the election process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Still, Republican leaders are concerned about the national impact that brings us right to CNN's Dana Bash who is in Washington, D.C. Give me the top couple of reasons why he's digging in.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this -- I mean this with no disrespect. This is what Republican sources are emphasizing to me. They are emphasizing that Todd Akin is a devout evangelical Christian who believes God called him to run. That is one main reason.

Another is, throughout his career, Soledad, he's never had the support of the party establishment, and he didn't need it because he had the support of the core Christian conservatives in his district in the state of Missouri.

In fact, listen to the way that the congressman describes the conversation he had with the vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AKIN: He called and he felt that I had to make a decision. He advised me it would be good for me to step down.

MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: And what did you say to him?

AKIN: Well, I told him I was going to be looking at this very seriously, trying to weigh all the different points on this. And that I would make the decision, because it's not about me, it's about trying to do the right thing and standing on principle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: So that was Todd Akin on NBC this morning. The fact that it's not just the establishment, it's also talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Tea Party leaders calling him to get out. It doesn't faze him like it does others because he didn't rely on them to get anywhere in the first place.

Plus, Akin's top advisers, we talked about this a little bit yesterday, but it was emphasized throughout the day yesterday, as well, by Republican leaders to me that his top advisers are his son and his wife, so he's in a very insular environment, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. Well, so far, they're telling him stay, apparently.

Dana Bash for us this morning -- Dana, thank you.

In a couple of minutes, we're going to talk to Steven Law. He's the CEO of the conservative super PAC which was created by Karl Rove. It's called American Crossroad. They are yanking their funding from him.

And in about 20 minutes, we'll talk to Martin Frost, he's the former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, former Texas congressman, he'll be our guest.

For all that, we want to get right back to John Berman with the look at the day's top story -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad.

Politics and weather intersecting. Tropical storm Isaac strengthening this morning in the Atlantic. It could pose a threat to Florida during the Republican National Convention next week.

We want to get the latest from meteorologist Rob Marciano in the CNN hurricane headquarters.

Rob, what's the forecast?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it is within the realm of possibility. Although there's a miniscule chance at this point, but every day, we get closer, this thing gets closer toward Florida will obviously increase those chances. Westerly movement at 20 miles an hour, it's got winds of 40 miles an hour, it's a couple hundred miles east of the Leeward Islands. There's tropical storm warnings out for those islands and also hurricane watches for the northern islands.

These lines, the computer models we follow, some of them, at least, and gives you an idea as we get later in the period how some veer to the right, some veer to the left. This could even get to the Gulf of Mexico. It could veer right and maybe heads towards the Carolinas.

But right now, the center of that path looks to be south Florida as we get toward Sunday and Monday.

Good news is, bad news for folks in Hispaniola in Cuba is that they'll get a lot of rain from this because it will go right over these islands typically. That'll knock down the intensity of the thing. But there's your official forecast path from the National Hurricane Center.

And that means that Florida's going to be under the gun. They've been under the gun the last couple of days and as far as heavy rain. Heavy rain expected to continue today in Tampa and more rain's expected tomorrow, as well north of that front looks to be pretty nice from the Great Lakes to New York City.

John, back up to you.

BERMAN: All right, Rob. Rob in the hurricane center, watching things for us down there.

And coming up in a few minutes, 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 and what are the contingencies for this storm.

The death toll is rising in the West Nile virus there in Dallas. Authorities say an 11th victim, a woman in her 80s died from the virus, which is spread, of course, from mosquitoes. The mayor also said that the aerial spraying of pesticides seems to be working.

Officials are now focused on spraying the ground near moving and standing water. There have been about 700 cases of West Nile reported nationwide. About a quarter of them in Dallas County.

We are, of course, just days away from the Republican convention, which may be rain-soaked. But nevertheless, a new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows President Obama at 48 percent, Mitt Romney 44 percent. That is within the margin of error.

So the political consultants at this table will tell you that is pretty much a dead heat -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: And we're going to continue to talk to those political consultants starting back to our conversation this morning about Congressman Todd Akin. He's one that used words legitimate rape, not putting the race for the Senate.

I want to follow where the money is going now. Both sides obviously are going to try to fundraise off of this. Senator Claire McCaskill's campaign says they're saying an uptick in funding, but they won't say how much. Groups like Emily's List, which support pro-choice Democratic women, say the same thing.

Congressman Akin is trying to fundraise on his apology. He tweeted out a link last night to a petition that supporters could sign, asked for at least $3 in donations.

Karl Rove the founder of the super PAC American Crossroads, pulling his money, though, from Akin. Here's what he said on FOX News yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, FOUNDER, AMERICAN CROSSROADS: If he remains the nominee, there's no reason to throw good money after bad by trying to win this seat. This is one of those unfortunate things that is so bad, so deplorable, so out of touch that there's no way to recover in my opinion from it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: American Crossroads says it's going to pull attack ads against McCaskill. They've already aired several.

Steven Law is the president and the CEO of American Crossroads. He joins us this morning.

You know, it's interesting, if he's going to stay in the race and he's saying he will, although leaving it open for that September 25th date. And you certainly don't want Claire McCaskill to win. Would you reconsider your funding of him?

STEVEN LAW, AMERICAN CROSSROADS: Well, look, I think we saw this as an evidently winnable Senate race. There were great issues to talk about, we were talking about Obamacare and taxes and debt and the economy. But this firestorm that Todd Akin has created for himself has engulfed not only him, but we think any chance whatsoever to be able to salvage this race as long as he's in the race.

You know, for Claire McCaskill, she's valiantly defending Todd Akin's right to be in the race because her worst nightmare is him dropping out and her ticket to paradise is him staying in, because she can win under those circumstances.

O'BRIEN: He thinks statistics to paradise, too, right? He says so far, he's staying in and, you know, there are no polls -- major polls that are contradicting him at this point. And he's led in the polling up to this comment that he made the other day. So I think there are people who'd say, maybe he's got a reasonable chance of winning this without GOP support.

LAW: Yes, I think it'd be very, very hard for him. Not only did he issue an unbelievable, jaw-dropping and over-the-line comment about rape and connection with abortion, but he said a number of other things about student loans, about child nutrition programs, about civil rights laws. He's just had a large number of things that can be used very, very effectively against him.

And my hope is, he said it's not about me. It's about doing the right thing. That at some point he'll say, am I going to be the tool by which Harry Reid and Claire McCaskill secure the Senate majority and prepare -- prevent Republicans from ever having the chance of undoing Obamacare. And I hope he comes to the conclusion that's not what he wants to have as his political --

O'BRIEN: That's interesting though that now you're talking about child nutrition programs and these sort of other things which are certainly not things he was talking about when he was making that comment which has started all this fire storm. Those are things he had said on the record and you were supporting him before yesterday, I guess, right?

LAW: Some of the things he said over the weekend. It was all just completely occluded by this one particular comment. But I think that's the one though, that makes people take a look at him. And you know, I think everyone understands we have different positions on abortion. But it's important we talk about these issues in a sensitive and careful way and he's unfortunately just undone his own candidacy.

I think he, unfortunately, doesn't recognize yet that he's dealt a mortal blow to his candidacy. Claire McCaskill sees that he has. Harry Reid sees that he has. And that's why they spent $1.5 million to get him nominated and are now eager to make sure he stays in the race.

O'BRIEN: Steven, hang on for one second. I want to ask Mark a question.

Do you think that's true there's a mortal blow to his candidacy? Because Steven sounds very convinced. And a lot of other people seem far less convinced that it's a mortal blow.

MARK MCKINNON, THE DAILY BEAST: I think it's a mortal blow. I mean, he says he wants to see what's going on to happen at the grassroots level. And he's going to see very quickly, he's not raising any money, a lot of concerns from the grassroots level. All the support is going to dry up, and he's going to realize over time that it's not just doable.

And those polls that he's looking at, I mean, they were taken in the middle of this deal. I guarantee you, in a week or so, they'll have collapsed completely.

(CROSSTALK)

MCKINNON: So, the problem for Claire McCaskill is that she may have been far too successful in her strategy, which was brilliant by the way, by spending ads early to help him be the nominee, now it turns out that she may have been too successful too early because now, it looks I think he'll ultimately get out of the race.

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The danger here, though, and the damage is not to just Missouri, to the Republican hopes to capturing that seat. It's the national problem, whether Akin stays in or Akin goes, Akin will be remembered if not by name, then by comment. And watch suburban women throughout this country, and Republicans need to break open those numbers from 48 to 44 say, wait a second, start moving to vote for the president, and that's the danger they face whether Akin comes or Akin goes.

O'BRIEN: Well, it sounds like you're saying then and we'll bring this back to Steven that hence the efforts to connect Akin very strongly to Romney/Ryan, right? Because the only way that works is if there's this connection.

How worried are you about that, Steven?

LAW: I think ultimately Akin's problems are his alone and I think you can see the swift reaction from Mitt Romney, from Paul Ryan, from other leaders to tell him that he crossed the line, and I think we took responsibility. I think that stands an interesting contrast to the reaction to the Obama campaign, to the Obama super PAC ads that made outrageous claims. They said, oh, we don't have any responsibility to that.

But the truth of the matter is, we all have responsibility to the tone of discourse of this country and I think Americans stood up -- I mean, the Republicans stood up and took responsibility and the president didn't.

O'BRIEN: Well, Mitt Romney has been -- anti-abortion or pro-life except in the case of rape or incest. So, he has exception.

I think, isn't there a bigger problem with that argument, Steve, when you're really talking about Paul Ryan who now is supporting it because he's part of the Romney/Ryan ticket, but if you look at his voting record and what he's actually supported in the past, he has supported provisions that don't allow for an exception when it comes to rape? I mean, isn't that problematic? That is the connection, right?

LAW: Well, I mean, certainly, that's the effort the Democrats will want to make.

O'BRIEN: But it's also true, right? I mean, it's not false.

LAW: Well -- no, I think in the end, you know, people understand that we have different views on abortion, but the most important thing is to speak about these things sensitively and carefully, which is really the leading issue that I think most people are very, very concerned about with respect to Congressman Akin's comments.

But again, I think that's another issue where I hope that Todd Akin will wake up and say it's not about me, it's about doing the right thing. And the right thing is to stop this -- the Democrats from being able to take advantage of some very unfortunate comments.

SHEINKOPF: The Republicans are going to spend a lot of time getting past Akin. They may do that, when the discussion ought to be about the economy on a constant basis, they're losing time. And time in politics is just as important as money. That election's coming up, Akin's going to linger there. Those comments will be remindful to suburban women and states they need to win and places they need to do better. That's their long-term problem whether Akin stays or not.

O'BRIEN: And Akin's talking about the right thing, but the right thing in his head is to stay in the race.

All right. Thanks for talking with us, Steven. I'm sorry, we're out of time, Steven, but we'd love to continue to talk to you as we go. We have a lot of time before this race is decided. So, we'd love to chat with you again.

He's the president and CEO of American Crossroads. We got to take a short break.

Still ahead, the GOP is on storm watch. Tropical storm Isaac is getting stronger, threatening the big night at the RNC.

Also, what's missing in these mashed potatoes? Taking a staple off the table, today's tough call.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: As we were just talking about a few moments ago, tropical storm Isaac could turn into a hurricane, could threaten Florida, which is where the RNC, the Republican National Convention, is going to be held and preparations are already underway in Tampa for that convention. Ninety years, though, since a major hurricane made a direct hit on that city.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn is hoping that it stays that way. He joins us this morning. Nice to talk to you, sir. You've got 50,000 people coming to your city. You have said that you think that this could be a turning point for the city. Now, you're on this world stage. How worried are you when you look at those ugly maps that show tropical storm Isaac kind of heading your way?

BOB BUCKHORN, (D) MAYOR OF TAMPA: Well, Soledad, I'm the mayor, it's my job to worry.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCKHORN: But I'm not really worried about this one yet. You know, the good think about living in Florida is we're accustomed to this. This is our reality every storm season. So, we've trained for this. Inevitably, it will happen at some point. But, you know, we're monitoring it, we're watching it, we're tracking it. I think we're going to be OK, but we'll be prepared in the event that it heads this way.

O'BRIEN: So, for the people who are not from Florida, though, coming in, they're not prepared for it. They're not used to it. So, they've got to be a little bit freaked out. And I also would imagine, you know, in the best-case scenario, you just have terrible weather, which would mean lots of delays and kind of just a big hot mess, right?

BUCKHORN: Well, potentially. I mean, obviously, rain affects traffic and traffic affects timing. But our folks who live here that will be driving the buses and driving the cabs, I mean, literally, we're used to this. We get heavy rains almost every afternoon. If you'll recall the first night of the convention in Minneapolis, St. Paul had been canceled because of a storm.

So, you know, we're going to deal with it. We're prepared for it. We hope it moves further away from us, but if it doesn't, it's still going to be a great convention, and I think the Republican National Committee is going to be happy.

O'BRIEN: Are you talking to them? I mean, are they like freaking out on the phone with you? Have you seen those weather maps? Or is it just one of those things. I mean, you have a little time, right? We're really looking at Monday start. So, there is some time.

BUCKHORN: Yes, we do have some time. And that's the good thing about hurricanes, that there is such a thing is that you have plenty of time to prepare. Listen, Soledad, you've got some professionals down here that have done 10 or 12 of these conventions. They're ice cold. They don't -- nothing bothers them. You know, they know that we're going to deal with our side of it. Obviously, public safety is going to trump politics. If we had to make that decision to cancel or to postpone or to move the convention, we will do that knowing full well that my obligation and the city's obligation is to move people out of harm's way. The politics will take care of itself.

O'BRIEN: Bob Buckhorn joining us. He's the mayor of Tampa. Thanks for talking with us, sir. Certainly appreciate it.

So, you guys, how many -- I mean, if we calculated, how many conventions people around this table had been to? It's a lot, let's just leave it at that. Do those maps worry you? Are you freaked out by that?

MARK MCKINNON, CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY BEAST: One thing I'll say to echo with the mayor, the people running the convention on the Republican side and probably the same on Democratic, they've been doing it forever. I mean, it's just like this convention mafia group that are so good at what they do --

O'BRIEN: Weather doesn't scare them.

MCKINNON: No. No. That's the least of their concerns, really.

(LAUGHTER)

MCKINNON: They're more worried about the speeches than the weather.

O'BRIEN: That's a hurricane, but I'm really focused on the speeches. Yes. Well, that'll be interesting to see. Hopefully, it won't mess things up, obviously. And I certainly don't want to be down there covering the RNC and then covering a hurricane or something. Just want to cover the speeches, much easier to do.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, so long to salt. Why Boston market is taking the salt shakers away from the table? Tough love or today's "Tough Call?" Talk about that straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back. I'm Christine Romans. "Minding Your Business" this morning, attention steak lovers, because of this drought and the spike in corn prices, you're going to see more expensive meat next year. The average price for a pound of sirloin expected to rise to 25 cents to $6.47 a pound. That's according to the USDA.

Farmers are slaughtering their cattle before maturity to cut down on their feed costs. Those feed costs have been pushed up from higher corn prices. To get a prime steak, farmers feed and fatten up the cattle for a few extra months with the high-calorie corn diet. That extra feed time is declining because of the drought.

Let's check in on markets now. U.S. stocks futures are trading lower this morning. The S&P 500, in case, you didn't notice is near a four- year high. S&P 500 stocks are up about seven percent in the past three months. Much of those gains fueled by speculation the world's central banks will act to boost the largest economies.

And a new study shows generation "Y" workers, that's 19 to 30 years olds, they're more likely to be in low-paying jobs even if they have a college degree. And these jobs necessarily don't require a degree that they're working in.

And the most common, merchandise displayer, clothing sales representative, and cell phone sales representative. This is according to a survey by Pay Scale and Millennial Branding -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. Brings us to today's "Tough Call." Should restaurants hold the salt? Boston market chain announcing plans to remove salt shakers from tables at all but 476 locations nationwide reducing sodium levels by 20 percent in three of their signature menu items, rotisserie chicken, which I love, but it's very salty, Mac & cheese, and mashed potatoes.

Over the next six months, the company will have -- plans to have 15 percent less salt in all of the dishes in the future. Tough call or not?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: A lot of them have been testing how much salt and fat they can take out before their customers start screaming about it, because they like the salt and fat. They like --

(CROSSTALK)

JAY FIELDEN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, TOWN & COUNTRY: No, thank God, I don't know when the last time you ate chicken at Boston market, that's salty chicken.

(LAUGHTER)

FIELDEN: And then, the next morning you wake up --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

FIELDEN: -- think this is a good idea.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: To be fair, you can still get salt. You can go to the side table and get packets of salt.

MCKINNON: But I've read recent reports the question about how bad salt really is for you. You know, we're going to see headlines ten years from now say gram (oh), the silent killer.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK) O'BRIEN: -- if salt's not bad for you, salt's fine, but if you're someone with high blood pressure or diabetes, then salt's terrible, right? So, it's sort of with you're susceptible -- or if you're not susceptible, go ahead and pour more salt on.

But I do think it's an interesting idea that people naturally salt their food, right? You sit down. And before you do anything, you salt your food. You've been at a place --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Right. I do, too. So, maybe the answer is, listen, if they're going to salt anyway, let it be a little less salty and make it --

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: How about (INAUDIBLE) patriotism, healthcare cost, rising Americans paying for each other's healthcare costs, high blood pressure, diabetes, national epidemics, how about this company can be said, well, we're trying to do the right thing and help Americans. That'd be a good thing, too.

HOOVER: Our patriotic duty to --

O'BRIEN: They say nanny state.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

FIELDEN: But they're doing it on their own, that's fine.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

FIELDEN: Our kids want to eat there and we have to eat it, too. It's too salty.

O'BRIEN: I agree. Too salty. I think they should do it across the board.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Now are (ph) doing the merits of the food. Yes, it also is very delicious.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, from touchdown to talk show, Kelly Ripa's got a new man. Report swirling about her new co- host this morning.

Plus, found in the attic. A man discovered never before heard audiotapes from Martin Luther King Jr. We're going to bring those to you.

And our top story, Congressman Todd Akin making the rounds on the morning talk shows confirming that he's been urged by a GOP vice presidential contender, Paul Ryan, to stand aside. So, what happens now? He says he's not going. Former Democratic congressman, Martin Frost, will weigh in with us. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, unless you're royal, then it absolutely, positively will not. Here's nude photos of the prince in Vegas. We have a live report from the Palace to share with you in just a few moments. I want to get right to John Berman.

BERMAN: Yes, I don't know how I follow that, a nude picture of the prince. Thank you very much, Soledad.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. We have serious news overseas. Afghan officials stepping up efforts to spy on their own army recruits. This happens are so called insider attacks have left nine U.S. troops dead over the last two weeks. U.S. military has been critical of afghan security forces for not doing enough to weed out insurgents within their own ranks.

A controlled blast to the site of a New York City demolition project went wrong sending smoke and debris into the streets. City officials are now inspecting surrounding buildings for structural issues. And a source of a local station that there was a protective covering meant to trap debris that was not positioned properly.

A 70-year-old line umpire arrested and charged with killing her 80- year-old husband back in April. This is the victim Alan Goodman. Prosecutors say his wife Lois beat him with a coffee mug back in L.A. in April and then stabbed him with the broken shard. She is now awaiting extradition to Los Angeles. Strange story.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his own words, an audiotape containing an unheard 1960 interview with Dr. King. This turned up in someone's attic in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was three years before his "I Have a Dream" speech, and in it he talks about the progress of the civil rights movement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, doctor, what effects are the sit-ins having on the progress of the southern negro and his struggle for equality?

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: 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: The man who uncovered the interview said his father had interviewed Dr. King for a book on racism. It was a book he never finished.

And Regis Philbin's replacement has been decided. "Trade Journal" Reporting that Michael Strahan will take over as co-host of "Live with Kelly Ripa." The former NFL star is expected to keep his other job on FOX NFL Sunday. He'll be the morning anchor who leads the league in sacks, shall we say.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Like what Warren Sapp said, tackling the stars. It'd be a good strategy. I think it's a great choice. Out of the box, interesting, good guy, fun guy.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You like it.

O'BRIEN: I do. I like him, I like her, I like the idea. Yes.

Let's talk politics. New this morning, Missouri Congressman Todd Akin saying he's in the Senate race. On NBC, he explained he's not going to quit because the voters chose him in the primary. Republican leaders are pressuring him to step aside over that "legitimate rape" comment fire storm, including the vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TODD AKIN, (R) MISSOURI: Paul Ryan did give me a call and he felt that I had to make a decision that he advised me that it would be good for me to step down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did you say to him?

AKIN: Well, I told him that I was going to be looking at this very seriously, trying to weigh all of the different points on this, and that I would make the decision, because it's not about me, it's about trying to do the right thing and standing on principle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Earlier this morning, he used the controversy to raise money for his campaign. He sent out a tweet that read like this, "I apologize, but the liberal media is trying to make me drop out. Please stand with me tonight by signing my petition at akin.org/standingstill." He's also asking for a $3 donation.

Martin Frost is the former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, former Texas Congressman. I've got to imagine the Democrats are like stay in, please. Doesn't it help the Democrats to have him stay in this race as long as possible on two fronts? The conversation is all about abortion and abortion rights and rape and pregnancy and all those issues that target, I think, specifically women. And number two, for Claire McCaskill, I would think this is the guy she wants to run against. She wants him in the race still, correct?

MARTIN FROST, (D) FORMER TEXAS CONGRESSMAN: Absolutely. If he stays in the race, she wins. When I was chair of the DCCC we tried to encourage people to run and also to try and support one candidate over the other in a primary. But once they won the primary, that was it, we never tried to force anybody off. Mitch McConnell tried to endorse and support a candidate for the Senate in his home state and that candidate lost over Rand Paul. This is a very tricky business. Even parties don't get their way, but this is kind of unprecedented. It'd be very hard to get him off the ballot.

O'BRIEN: A key issue is the woman's vote which is what we've been talking about. How much is at risk there for both Mitt Romney and what's at stake to win for Obama?

FROST: Well, it's clear the Obama campaign already was running ads in suburban Virginia where I now live and other swing areas talking about Romney's records against Planned Parenthood, talking about the Republican record on abortion, and this just gives them more material to run on. This is very harmful to Romney and to the Republican Party generally because women, suburban women are the key swing voters in this race. And I'm not sure what the Republican Party does about this, quite frankly.

Let's show the suburban woman vote first. The suburban woman vote shows president Obama leading. This is the "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll, president at 50 percent, Mitt Romney at 45 percent. If you look at females overall, Obama/Biden, 51 percent, Romney/Ryan at 41 percent. He posed the question who wants to tackle it, which is so what do you do at this point?

HOOVER: Well, Republicans, I think, would be very smart to use Linda Lingle, she's running for Senate, they need her to win the Senate seat. She'll likely win, she's universally loved in Hawaii, but 70 percent approval rating as Republican and she's pro-choice. There is a possibility here, at least the Republicans being able to telegraph the electorate there's a diversity of views on the abortion issue. If Republicans are smart, I think they'll use Linda Lingle.

O'BRIEN: The problem is the platform. If we're going to do that, if you put it up on the screen, the platform is clear, there are no exceptions laid out for abortion on the platform.

FROST: Yes, and normally it's ignored and not a big factor in the election. And often the nominee has a different position which in this case Romney does. The problem is that akin is drawing attention to that platform.

The good news I would say is there has been an absolute circling of the wagon among the Republican establishment saying they want akin to get out. There's no in between on this. So I think it is a clear message from the Republican Party and establishment they want him out and they don't get out.

Soledad, let me interject one thing. Sometimes and I'm not saying these conversations are going on. Sometimes people in a party will promise a person a job if they do certain actions.

O'BRIEN: What? In politics? What? I'm stunned. FROST: The problem with that. The problem with that is that assumes that there's a Republican administration. That assumes Romney is elected. If Romney isn't elected and they promise akin a job if he gets off the ballot, I'm not sure he gets anything out of it.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, and he's also not, you know, a 30-year-old candidate, right? He's a 60-something-year-old candidate.

FROST: He's 65 years old, but still wants to be involved in public policy. I'm sure he'd like a job in the new administration. I have a feeling those conversations may be taking place and if romney isn't elected, they won't be able to deliver.

O'BRIEN: Martin Frost, nice to see you, sir, thanks for talking with us this morning, certainly appreciate it.

We have to take a short break. Still ahead, talking about prince Harry in Vegas, in the buff. An embarrassing situation for the royal family. We're going to take you to a live report right outside of Buckingham Palace this morning. And take a look at this.

Who's the man standing near President Obama? He's the first ever official White House cameraman. What was it like documenting the president's first steps on the job? You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Prince Harry was caught with his pants down, no, with his pants off, actually.

(APPLAUSE)

O'BRIEN: Buckingham palace officials are confirming, in fact, these photos posted on TMZ are photos of nude prince Harry partying it up with some nude other people. There's a woman in that shot. Matthew Chance is live at Buckingham Palace with the latest. These photos that can be found pretty easily online are not in all the papers in England. Why not?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think we're dealing with a tabloid media here in Britain which is notoriously aggressive when it comes to these kinds of pictures with the royal family, of the royal family. But it also comes after a very big scandalous national inquiry in this country into the activities of the press, the phone- tapping scandal you may remember, the invasions of privacy the press has had in the lives of the royals and other public figures.

And I think these photographs of this 27-year-old prince naked as they are, salacious as they are and having been judged, it seems, by the British media as being a step too far over the line into an invasion of privacy, particularly in that environment that which has been brewing against the tabloid media in this country. And so you're right, we haven't seen those images printed in the tabloid press in this country and that's something very notable by its absence, Soledad. O'BRIEN: Yes, that is a little bit of shock. Thanks for the update. Live at Buckingham Palace. One has to imagine the conversations with the queen and her grandson will be very, very tough. Although, I do find that privacy as Matthew likes to say, that's odd. Those are the papers that are often --

BERMAN: Unusual restraint.

O'BRIEN: Paradoxical restraint.

HOOVER: Yes. It's a backlash, major backlash. But it is interesting. Somebody in his entourage has a lot of trust issues around the prince, as well.

O'BRIEN: There was drinking.

HOOVER: Right.

O'BRIEN: There was nudity, there was a bunch of people, apparently in the aftermath of a party. Are you surprised that one of them --

BERMAN: It's a party what if -- what if there is a guest, you know? How well is the guest screened?

HOOVER: I mean, a lot of high-profile people have a lot of parties and try to manage the output that comes from that.

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: This was not going on in a nursing home, these are 27-year-old people having a good time doing what they do. Come on, now.

O'BRIEN: Come on, now.

All right, I've got to move on.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, behind the scenes in the West Wing. Arun Chaudhary is the first official White House videographer dashing around the Oval Office trying to blend in while recording everything with his camera. The ultimate fly on the wall, (inaudible). We'll ask him what it's like to be a film maker to the President, up next.

You're watching STARTING POINT. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT everyone. I'm John Berman, looking at your "Top Stories" this morning.

Boats in barges still backed up on a low-water section of the Mississippi River. The 11-mile stretch near Greenville, Mississippi, has been reopened on a limited basis. It was closed Monday because of low water levels to prevent vessels from running aground.

One small step for the NASA rover "Curiosity." It's about to take its first test drive on Mars, NASA sends up command to the rover overnight to drive forward, turn, and then back up. In these pictures you can actually see this a little bit of a test wiggle in a series of still photos. In all, it should go about 10 feet; the entire two-year mission hinges on the success of this short trip. No pressure.

All right the Jetsons meet the Flintstones. A dinosaur tracker say he believe he found a natosaurus (ph) footprint at NASA's garden space the flight center. The plant eater roamed suburban Washington, D.C. about 110 million years ago. Inside the beltway dinosaur -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: He had no idea what was to come.

This is the man who had unprecedented access to the most powerful man in the world. The ultimate fly on the wall, Arun Chaudhary is the first ever official videographer for the White House. He pioneered President Obama's new media team, helped change the way we saw and heard our lawmakers. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No matter what happens tonight.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our children still love us.

OBAMA: That's the key. It is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know.

OBAMA: Just don't trip. That'll be really embarrassing. Don't trip whatever you do.

Don't talk trash around me, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, come on, man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Chaudhary has got a new book out it's called "First Camera Man: Documenting the Obama presidency in real time". Nice to see you.

ARUN CHAUDHARY, FIRST OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE VIDEOGRAPHER: It's great to be here.

O'BRIEN: What a great gig. I mean, just to be able to follow what's happening in real time when the rest of the nation is sort of watching it from a distance or watching through our -- our television screen. How did you get the job?

CHAUDHARY: Well, one of those situations being in the right place at the right time. I was actually a fiction film maker I didn't have a background specifically in documentary. But a good friend of mine Kate Albright-Hanna who worked at CNN as a long format producer, had been brought on the campaign as a video director and she sort of thought, you know, I think Arun might be good at this and gave me a call. O'BRIEN: Did they sit down and say ok, here's a list of things you cannot shoot, here's the thing you cannot do and make sure you don't capture this, this, and this.

CHAUDHARY: At the White House, I mean on the campaign it developed very organically. We just started shooting more and more things. At the White House, there was no real rule of something you couldn't shoot. Obviously when you release it, you could talk to people except, you know, I did leave the family alone when they were in their private situations.

O'BRIEN: So I want to run some of the clips, some of the things that you worked on. We saw a little bit, the Osama bin Laden raid sort of behind the scenes. We've all seen the photo, but it's interesting to hear the conversation behind it. Let's play that first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Hi you all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, how are you doing?

OBAMA: Was this your home, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: This is -- tell me a little bit about the circumstances behind the shoot.

CHAUDHARY: Well, I think what's so great about being able to show all different context of someone in the week. So in this case you have the bin Laden raid but also so many things -- other things happened that week.

You know teacher of the year. He went and saw the space shuttle launch, and then there was also in Tuscaloosa, this hurricane -- tornado that caused a disaster. And so I think being able to put things in perspective of the whole week is something that I was free to do as the White House videographer that the press can't do because they're there to cover news.

O'BRIEN: There was also the 3:00 a.m. ad that you worked on. Let's play a little bit of that too.

CHAUDHARY: That was a very effective ad that came out in the Pennsylvania primaries. And the response from the Obama campaign was, I think a very good example of new media and old media working together.

O'BRIEN: Talk about the response.

CHAUDHARY: The old media team put together basically the same ad, except they substituted Obama for Hillary Clinton which was a very, very clever thing to do. And then it turns out the young lady who starred in this ad was an Obama supporter. In fact, so much so that she had volunteered as a precinct captain in Seattle. And so we went to her and made a response from her, which we're able to do so quickly because, you know, using little cameras and little computers, had an entire ad cut before we even got back on the plane.

O'BRIEN: We were talking about negative ads a little while ago. They work, though. Everyone will tell you they hate a negative ad, but they're so effective. How do you explain that?

SHEINKOPF: They're entertaining.

O'BRIEN: Is that the key for you? You try to make it entertaining?

CHAUDHARY: I don't think it's just about things being entertaining. I think at the heart of them, there has to be something authentic for people to latch on to. If there's not, then I think no matter how negative, or how crazy it is, it just won't stick.

So I think if you take an example of two ads that came out recently, the one that features Mitt Romney singing in all the different locations and the one -- they made one that features President Obama singing, but the kind of subtext of the two things are different. And at one of them lies the kind of unease people have with one candidate; the other one is sort of the likability, highlighting what people like about a candidate.

MARK MCKINNON, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": You know, authenticity really is key in what's credible for voters anymore because I don't believe anything. So documentary moments are really powerful. And I'd like to see your bloopers reel.

HOOVER: And another question, you worked on the Obama campaign in 2008 and then you were able to be with him behind the scenes for these last two years, three years, now you're working, helping Democratic efforts in this election cycle. You actually have a very personal view of the President whereas many of the millennials and the kids in our generation really bought into the hope and change and feel a bit disappointed by the President.

Do you feel from what you've seen behind the scenes that there's a disparity in who he is versus for how he's understood by youth four years later?

CHAUDHARY: Definitely. I think there's a disparity with young people understanding their government in general, not just this particular presidency. And I think that's why it's important not just things (inaudible) -- all branches of government I think should be more open, transparent; make more video for people to see. I think, you know, explaining and releasing data is one thing, but actually letting people in to see the machinery of government is another.

And I think on western week, we highlight the clunkiness of government. The difficulties of government, not just the glamour and the glitz of the state dinner.

O'BRIEN: People want to see who people really are, I think. Arun Chaudhary, nice to have you with us this morning. Good luck on the book. It's great to have you talk about it book.

CHAUDHARY: Thank you so much.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Going to give Mark our "End Point" this morning. In 30 seconds or less, what happens next with Todd Akin, do you think? Wins, loses, gets out before September 25th?

MCKINNON: I think he'll get out of the race eventually, but it's created a tremendous distraction for the Republican Party. The party has circled the wagons, told him to get out. It's putting an issue at the forefront when Republicans had hoped to be talking about economic issues, talk about broadening the tent. And the sound you hear right now is the result of Todd Akin, GOP women running for the exits and the sound of the tent collapsing.

O'BRIEN: Name still on the ballot as of now, meaning that September 25th.

MCKINNON: As of now, but before the 25th, I think he'll get out of it. He'll be forced out of the race.

O'BRIEN: Great to have you with us this morning. Certainly appreciate it.

Coming up tomorrow, we're going to talk to Republican Senator, Kay Bailey-Hutchinson of Texas. She's got some advice for Todd Akin.

Plus, he's gone from football to Nascar, Redskins legend Joe Gibbs will join and Disney actress and singer Bridgit Mendler.

That's all ahead. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. I'll see you tomorrow, everybody.

Hey Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Soledad, thank you.