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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Michelle Obama Gives Speech at Democrat National Convention; Interview with Dannel Malloy; Interview with Rahm Emanuel

Aired September 5, 2012 - 07:00   ET

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


MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are. No, it reveals who you are.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The night was capped off with a very personal speech for Michelle Obama. We've got the highlights and also we'll take a look this morning at what's in store for tonight.

Big show for you this morning. We're going to be talking to Chicago's mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Robert Gibbs, the former White House spokesman turned campaign adviser is with us. San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, who gave the keynote last night that got a rousing round of applause, will joins us along with his twin brother, Texas state representative Joaquin Castro. Also the actor John Leguizamo is with us. It's Wednesday, September 5th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Welcome, everybody, our team with us this morning, Dana Bash, CNN senior congressional correspondent, Democratic governor Dan Malloy is with us, Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz is back from the state of Utah. Ryan Lizza is the Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker." How are you holding up, Ryan? Yes, both of us, holding up.

Our starting point this morning is hail to the mom in chief, as we heard Michelle Obama say. First lady firing up the delegates on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, rousing speech that was political and also very personal. Another headliner was the San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, one of the party's rising stars. He's the first Latino to ever deliver a Democratic keynote address. You see him hugging his twin brother. They look exactly the same.

Tonight the convention spotlight will shine on former president, Bill Clinton. He'll be nominating Barack Obama for a second term. And also it will be important for him to bolster the theme of stay the economic course. Dana, hoping for a strong day yesterday and today?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are. If you look and listen to what happened on first day, it's obvious that the Democrats realize that there are very few undecided voters. This is about getting the base out and riled up and talking about the middle class. Talking about how bad Mitt Romney is and when it came to the first lady, talking about the fact that people should remember why they liked her husband.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Who better to convince voters that the Barack Obama they were so excited about four years ago is still that same guy?

MICHELLE OBAMA: Whether it comes to his character and his convictions and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all of those years ago.

BASH: By now, most Americans are familiar with the president's biography. Her job was to underscore their shared middle class philosophy.

MICHELLE OBAMA: He believes that when you have worked hard and done well and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. No, you reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: She called herself the mom-in-chief but showed she is also a savvy politician who didn't have to say Mitt Romney's name to get her digs in.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Because for Barack, success isn't about how much money you make, it's about the difference you make in people's lives.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: The evening's other headliner, the 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio of Texas, Julian Castro, the first Latino keynote speaker at the Democratic convention. He told the American dream story of his self-taught Mexican born grandmother.

MAYOR JULIAN CASTRO, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: And I can still remember her every morning as Joaquin and I walked out the front door, making the sign of the cross behind us saying "May god bless you."

BASH: Still in true keynote tradition, he threw the eager Democratic crowd plenty of red meat.

CASTRO: When it comes to letting people love who they love and marry who they want to marry, Mitt Romney says no.

CROWD: No.

CASTRO: When it comes to expanding access to good health care, Mitt Romney says No.

CROWD: No!

CASTRO: Actually, Mitt Romney said yes and now he says no.

CROWD: No. BASH: A series of other speakers also lit up the room delivering on some very specific tasks. Former Ohio governor Ted strickland seized on Romney's so-called vulture capitalism.

TED STRICKLAND, (D) FORMER OHIO GOVERNOR: If Mitt was Santa Claus, he would fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel refreshed collective memories about how bad things were four years ago.

RAHM EMANUEL, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF: I said, Mr. President, which crisis do you want to tackle first? He looked me in the eye with that look he usually reserved just for his chief of staff, Rahm, we were sent here to tackle all of them not choose between them.

BASH: Newark New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker stirred the party's base.

MAYOR CORY BOOKER, (D) NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: No matter who you are, no matter what color or creed, how you choose to pray or who you choose to love --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: There was also a bit of a finger wagging from the governor of Massachusetts, saying the Democrats need to get over themselves -- and get out and vote. And that is exactly one of the main reasons why they are having Bill Clinton give the big speech tonight. That is definitely the most anticipated speech. And the Obama campaign is certainly waiting with baited breath for the text of that speech which they don't have yet.

(LAUGHTER)

RYAN LIZZA, "THE NEW YORKER": When Clinton gave his speech, they were literally making changes to the teleprompter right up until the very last minute.

O'BRIEN: That must be relaxing for everyone involved, tweaking the speech.

We're going to talk about that straight ahead. First let's get an update on other stories with Zoraida Sambolin. Hey, Z.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Soledad, thank you. A political victory speech turns deadly. It was interrupted by gunfire. Quebec premier elect was rushed offstage when a gunman opened fire. She was not hurt, but one person was killed and another one was critically injured as the suspect was dragged to a police cruiser, he shouted in French, "The English are waking up!" That's apparently a reference to tensions between the French and English speaking communities there.

And the FBI denying claims that the hackers group that they accessed personal information about millions of Apple users from a government computer, including president Obama's iPad. The group posted online when it claims are the IDs of more than a million iPhones and iPads. They say in all, 12 million Apple IDs were obtained from an FBI agent's laptop.

Florida A&M dealing with another hazing incident. The school has suspended an all-female student dance team after receiving an anonymous tip from a parent about hazing in an off campus event. A spokeswoman would say the alleged hazing included alcohol consumption and running uphill. Last year you'll recall Robert Champion died during a post-game hazing ritual.

State officials have closed 12 miles of beaches along the Louisiana coast, tar balls and oil are washing up on shore from hurricane Isaac. BP insists it is too early to tell if the oil came from the Deep Water Horizon accident. Ten parishes suffered serious flooding with more than 13,000 homes damaged. That number is expected to go up. 38,000 customers are still without power there as well.

And take a look, folks, at this incredible video out of Lake of the Ozarks. This is in Missouri and hits a large wake and look what happens. This was as they were passing another boat. The impact is so intense, they all violently fall in the boat. The driver and six passengers were injured. This was Friday accident. Five of them had to go to the hospital with what is described as minor to moderate injuries. Tough to watch there.

The NFL regular season kicks off tonight. The Super Bowl champion New York Giants host their bitter rivals the Dallas Cowboys. Replacement refs will be on the field since the leagues regular officials are still locked in a contract dispute. Some players say they are worried about the replacement refs, saying it could put their safety at risk. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: All right, Zoraida, thank you, appreciate that.

As you have heard, the tone of the speeches here at the DNC went from brazen attacks on the Romney campaign to inspirational speeches from first lady. One of tonight's speakers is on the starting point team, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy. That the entire strategy for this event, someone will come out like Governor Strickland, he warned us that's what he was going to do and he came out on the attack, sort of moderated by high inspiration.

GOV. DANNEL MALLOY, (D) CONNECTICUT: If you can't stand the heat you should stay out of the kitchen. Mitt Romney has a record and we can talk about it. It's fair game to talk about. Speakers are going to do that. We're going to also talk about what the president has accomplished. And he's accomplished a great deal and actually much more than he gets credit for.

O'BRIEN: Whose fault is that?

MALLOY: I wish you would tell a story about the president a little more. The fact that we've created 4.5 million private sector jobs --

O'BRIEN: That number was thrown out there a lot and you know when the fact checkers look at that, they say, true, but you have to realize you need another 300,000 before you're back up to the number to what we lost, correct?

MALLOY: And then you would immediately repeat when the president was elected we were losing 700,000 jobs a month. That's where we were. That what Bush had done to us. And yes, we had to find a bottom before we could build off that bottom, but we've done that and done a lot of others things.

I was listening earlier. The fact is the federal government is smaller now as a percentage of our total spending than it's been in decades. The fact is that we're spending less on domestic side spending than in any time since as a percentage as any time since Eisenhower was president.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Chaffetz is sitting next to you going -- you disagree?

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, (R) UTAH: With all due respect spending has been north of 24 percent where historically it's been 18 to 20 percent. That's what the Romney/Ryan plan says we have to get that domestic spending as a percentage of GDP to less than 20 percent in order to eventually achieve some sort of balance.

MALLOY: Well, when the president of the United States offered a $4 trillion cut to spending, Republicans pushed it away. Now the president did sign into law a $2 trillion cut, that's reality. Doesn't get credit for it but the president did offer a grand bargain and Republicans refused to accept it.

O'BRIEN: So then we head into the conversations about jobs, sort of this number that you talk about but I think there's a measurement that is how people feel. You can talk about bottoming out and 4.5 million jobs and the number was much bigger, et cetera, but if people don't feel job secure, that's a huge problem.

MALLOY: You're absolutely right. If you didn't get one of those 4.5 million jobs, you can't be happy. But the reality is the economy is growing and we've added jobs. That's a reality. And there are some amazing things going on in the United States, things that we should be very proud of. One of which is the creation of 4.5 million jobs, but many other things, support for education going up. Now the Republicans want to roll that back. They want to attack Pell grants. So we have to tell both sides of the story and that's what a convention is about.

BASH: Bill Clinton is speaking tonight. You probably remember back in 1992 when he won, the incumbent, George W. Bush -- George H.W. Bush was arguing the economy was getting better and Clinton was saying it's not. And it turned out the economy was getting better. Are you concerned now it is turned on its head that --

MALLOY: The president has created more jobs on the net basis than his predecessor did in eight years, that's the reality. So we have to start telling that. But we also -- there's lots of other things we can do. A president ended one war and in the process of ending another. You want to ask whether things are better than they were, ask Osama bin Laden. We did amazing things -- O'BRIEN: When people go to the polls I just think don't they vote on how they feel about the unemployment number, right? There's no way to argue that that number is better.

MALLOY: It is better than when this president took office. You want to measure this president by the -- by some year prior to his being elected. The reality is we created 4.5 million jobs. The economy is moving again. We can be proud of what we've accomplished internationally and what we've accomplished in this country, particularly when it comes to support for education. We can be proud of many things and I think employment will be one of those.

O'BRIEN: Go ahead, Ryan.

CHAFFETZ: Well, I would just disagree with unemployment when the president took office it was 7.8 percent. They argued they need this 800 plus billion dollar stimulus and unemployment has been north of 8 percent for 42 months. You add to that the 23 million people unemployed or underemployed at this point. You look at the household income which is less than $4,000. I think both sides want the economy to go forward. We want the jobs numbers coming out on Friday to be better. There is a fundamental difference on how you approach that and how you do it. We would just argue that, with all due respect, despite having the house and Senate and presidency and Democrats able to do everything they want, jobs and the economy have not been priority one and they have not achieved what we need to achieve in the country.

O'BRIEN: Priority one is the stimulus. We heard that consistently --

CHAFFETZ: They got that and did it but it didn't work.

O'BRIEN: How do you say that's not a priority?

CHAFFETZ: Because unemployment, unemployment went up.

LIZZA: Every independent assessment says the stimulus shaved 1.5 to 2.5 points off unemployment --

CHAFFETZ: You're talking $500,000 per job. One hearing we were at it was very difficult for this administration -- remember they were going to talk about jobs created and jobs saved and then they could never define what jobs saved meant.

MALLOY: Let's stop for a second. Which president saved the automobile industry? Your candidate wanted the automobile industry to go bankrupt. That's what he said. He wrote an editorial in the paper. That would have cost another million jobs. In fact it would have taken the great recession into the great depression. And by the way, when you talk about your desire to create jobs, where have you been on a jobs Bill?

CHAFFETZ: We have passed -- the house --

MALLOY: The president's job bill --

(CROSSTALK)

CHAFFETZ: Absolutely I did. Yes, I did.

MALLOY: -- more teachers in schools right now if you would passed it?

CHAFFETZ: We have passed out of the House 32 jobs bills sitting in the United States Senate. The reality is we have passed a budget for two years in a row. The president in his plan, which is exemplified in a budget, has never had a single Democrat support it. Think about how stunning it is the president's budget this year had 99-0 defeated and the House had 414-0. The president may say he has a plan but nobody supports it.

BASH: Now difficult is it to prove that things really, really would be worse if we didn't do these -- take these steps?

O'BRIEN: Proving a negative.

BASH: To convince people something they can't necessarily imagine?

MALLOY: I have to go back to this -- 4.5 million jobs. You folks -- you want --

O'BRIEN: I think I found the theme of the DNC tonight.

MALLOY: You want to refuse or deny --

O'BRIEN: I'm not denying anything. I'm saying 300,000 more and you'll break even.

MALLOY: Break even to what?

O'BRIEN: To what the president came into office.

MALLOY: The prior administration was losing 700,000 jobs a month. That's reality. Now we've had job growth going on 30 months in a row. That's reality. And people are getting back to work. If you're not back to work, or if you're underemployed, you're absolutely hurting. We understand that and that's why we want to do a whole bunch of other things to get the economy going, including the Americans Jobs Bill, which has not gotten a vote in the Congress.

O'BRIEN: We're going to talk about all of that as I go to commercial break. Still ahead this morning, CNN's prime time coverage kicks off this evening at 7:00 p.m. eastern with Wolf Blitzer and the entire team. Former President Bill Clinton will address delegates with midnight and that's all tonight here on CNN.

Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, he's worked in both the Clinton and Obama administration. Rahm Emanuel with insight into what President Clinton will say tonight.

Apple's new product one week away from what could be the iPhone 5. I definitely need one of those. Details up next as STARTING POINT continues from Charlotte, North Carolina.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: You're watching STARTING POINT. We're coming to you live from the Democratic National Convention. Former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel will be our guest in a few seconds. First, a couple of other headlines to tell you about. The iPhone 5, I just got an iPhone 4. One week away. Apple sent out invitations to a special event on September 12th, expected to be the unveiling of the new iPhone. You can see the number five in the shadow of the 12 date. It's so secretive. So subtle, that big massive dark 5 right there.

The anticipation of course has helped push Apple stock price up to $675 a share. Shares are up more than 60 percent just this year alone. Let's talk about Facebook. Not so hopeful for them on that front. Facebook early investors sold off the stock first chance they got but Mark Zuckerberg says he will hang on to his shares for the next year. He owns 444 million shares plus an option for another 60 million. Facebook shares are down nearly 54 percent. Let's go back to Apple. The stock hit a new record low during trading yesterday but since he announced he's going to hang on to his stock, Facebook shares rebounded 2 percent in after hours trading.

The commander of the U.S. Navy SEALs says he is disappointed, embarrassed, and he is concerned about loose lips. The book "No Easy Day," released yesterday, was written by an retired Navy SEAL. It gives a firsthand account of the killing of Osama bin Laden. The head of naval special war fare says it could give enemies dangerous insight into how SEALs are trained and how they operate.

President Clinton could become the key weapon in the speech tonight. We'll talk to the one man who knows him well and also knows the current president very well. We're talking to which can Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're coming to you live from Charlotte, North Carolina, tonight former President Clinton is headlining the Democratic national convention. His highly anticipated speech could show he is the Democratic Party's best weapon in November. Last night we heard from a man who worked in the Clinton administration and served as President Obama's White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMANUEL: On that first day, I said, Mr. President, which crisis do you want to tackle first? He looked me in the eye, with that look he usually reserved just for his chief of staff, Rahm, we were sent here to tackle all of them, not choose between them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Mayor Rahm Emanuel is with us and co-chair of the Obama re- election campaign. We appreciate it. A lot of your job I notice from your speech last night was to sort reinsert hope and change. For those who said where's the hope and change. I'm going to play a part of your speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMANUEL: I saw the president make the tough calls in the situation room. And today our troops in Iraq have finally come home so America can do some nation building here at home. That was a change we believed in. That was a change we fought for. That was a change president Obama delivered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: You did that three or four more times in that speech where you talked about the jobs are back and banks are lending again and taxpayers aren't footing the ball, Wall Street has been bailed out.

EMANUEL: Thanks for that beautiful rendition and summary -- I don't know why I used all six minutes I could have done that.

O'BRIEN: See, 35 seconds.

EMANUEL: I could have talked about my childhood for the last five minutes.

O'BRIEN: Hope and change --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: On my track, this is a dictatorship here at this table. The hope and change has been a lot of the theme. How vulnerable do you think the president is?

EMANUEL: Let me roll back a little and I'll answer that. My goal last night was to give people I thought I had a unique perk as chief of staff worked for two presidents and give a front row seat in the Oval Office. When the country faced three years ago the worst economic recession since the great depression, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month and contracting at nine percent, the economy was collapsing, an auto industry that had a two-week runway before its collapse, and two wars. That was literally in the inbox.

We're not out of it. How he went after those issues with doggedness, the auto industry, never gave it a better than 1 in 4 shot. Today the auto industry is adding jobs. We just had a report out yesterday about in fact August sales are dramatically up. Had we followed Mitt Romney's strategy, it would have gone bankrupt. The president said no, I'm not going to do that, not on my watch. And that is a big consequence. And today we have 1.2 million manufacturing jobs in America because of that choice. And this election is about choices, and they have different perspectives on housing, on auto industry --

O'BRIEN: The polls don't reflect people feel good about it. You look at CNN-ORC poll from August 7 and 8, How are things going in the country today, look at August, well, 36 percent, poorly 63 percent. That poorly number has gone up.

EMANUEL: You may have not looked at the polls I saw in January of 2009. They were -- we would have begged for those numbers for one simple reason. People thought this country was heading towards a depression. And the industry that -- the car that was invented here entire industry, the three companies were about to collapse. That said, the president's point is we are not where we were, but we have a long way to go on this journey. And his responsibility tomorrow night is to lay down that vision of where we're going and how we get there as one country, together, in doing that.



EMANUEL: -- tomorrow night is to lay down that vision of where we're going and how we get there as one country together.

O'BRIEN: But aren't these polls a measure of how people are feeling about the rebound, right?

EMANUEL: There's one piece of that. Yes it is a measure and there's something deeper about that. I'm not saying that -- I don't think the president would argue about this.

Until the middle class feel comfortable that they can own a home and save for retirement and send kids to college and pay for health care, the basic pillars of middle class, our work is not done.

Now there are different choices that both President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney would make --

O'BRIEN: Almost sounded like you forgot his name.

EMANUEL: I was trying to decide put governor first since he's forgotten he's governor. That said, they made different choices on homeownership, in Vegas, Mitt Romney said let it hit rock bottom. President Obama said nope.

We're going to try to figure out how you can stay in your home, different choices, auto industry, different choices, on going after Osama Bin Laden, different choices.

They have consequences in our life and they have consequences we as a nation and they'll have consequence as to what the future will be like.

O'BRIEN: When you look at the polling, we had a conversation with Joe Klein on Monday --

EMANUEL: I like politics. I do politics. I'm going to say this, I love politics. I don't mind looking at polling, but that's not all I look at.

O'BRIEN: I realize that I like framing questions on what I think the direction a poll was going. Joe Klein was here on Monday, what he said was that the electorate is 70 percent white.

And a problem he said for Democrats maybe this sort of big tent that is very diverse. If you look in the convention hall yesterday, very, very diverse --

EMANUEL: And if you look at the one in Tampa --

O'BRIEN: Not so diverse, everybody would agree with you on that. So if you look at white voters who are leaning Obama, 39 percent, white voters leaning Romney, 57 percent. How do you get those white voters back?

EMANUEL: Well, first of all, as somebody who again spent time with polling and also the goal doesn't say how to get the white voters back. I think the president has very clear responsibility, to layout a vision for the future and make clear the choices.

There are choices in this election. Elections have consequences. You will have in my view after this election an agreement between the parties about the shape and role of government.

Mitt Romney in my view has made a choice and Paul Ryan. I don't think and I will tell you this, you can get there by slashing investments in education, slashing investments in research and slashing investments in health care and research and slashing in investments infrastructure.

The economy cannot grow at the pace it needs to grow. You can't have a 21st Century economy making those types of cuts. You have to make major cuts to government, but not on key investments with long-term immediate job impact in wealth creation for this country.

O'BRIEN: Reince Priebus said to me the other day he thinks --

EMANUEL: Who's that?

O'BRIEN: Reince Priebus said I think Bill Clinton is actually going to help us, meaning the GOP, because he's going to illustrate to the American people that Barack Obama is not Bill Clinton.

EMANUEL: You know, it was interesting. I was in the Clinton White House. Republican Congress voted against his entire budget in '93, to start the lay the groundwork for a balanced budget. They voted against the health care plan that President Obama finished.

When he was sending troops to Kosovo and Europe to actually bring peace the first time in American history the Congress did not support a war even while the troops were in the air. They were not exactly partners in bringing back the 22 million jobs that were created in the private sector and a balanced budget in the efforts of what happened there. People may remember a period of time of bipartisanship. I was in the Clinton White House, that's not how we lived it. That's not how it happened. It was the same type of battles we have today against a party that put ideology over progress.

O'BRIEN: That's the message that Bill Clinton is going to bring tonight?

EMANUEL: I think he is going to talk about the parallel investments and strategies they have for the economy, investing in people, investing in education and investing in health care and investing in American people that allows you to have a productive economy where everybody has a shot at the middle class dream.

O'BRIEN: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, nice to have you with us. We certainly appreciate it. We have to take a short break. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, gender politics hits primetime. Nancy Pelosi reminds the crowd where she stands. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: The Democratic women of the House are ready to join President Barack Obama to move America forward!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Coming up next, a law student who testified in Congress in favor of birth control being covered by health care plans. We'll tell you what Sandra Fluke will say tonight at the DNC. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment. Good morning. Nice to have you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. We're coming to you live from the CNN Grill in Charlotte, North Carolina, preparing for the second night of the Democratic National Convention.

Tonight, the former President Bill Clinton will formally put President Barack Obama's name into nomination. And this week Democrats are trying to win over women voters with several female leaders addressing the crowd.

Later tonight, we're going to hear from women's rights activist Sandra Fluke. Fluke entered the national spotlight earlier this when she addressed a congressional panel about contraception insurance issues.

Her speech drew outrage and some serious insults most notably from Rush Limbaugh. She is with us this morning. It's nice to see you. You're going to talk -- what do you plan to say?

SANDRA FLUKE, WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, I want to try to draw the distinction and show the clear choice that we have this November. Talk about, you know, what kinds of policies for women Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have stood for and what the president has stood for on issues like fair pay, access to reproductive health care and violence against women.

O'BRIEN: Do you think that there is a war on women. I mean, it's been framed that way and certainly you've been under a lot of attacks. So sometimes I think there's a war on you for sure from some people.

FLUKE: That's probably fair.

O'BRIEN: But is there a war on women or is it just a disagreement in how government should underwrite contraceptives?

FLUKE: No, I don't think it's just a disagreement. To me the frame is less important than what policies we're seeing. So I do think a lot of women feel like they are under attack.

When we look at the facts, the last two years, quantitatively have seen records numbers of bills in the House especially and legislatures across the country, you know, trying to limit access to reproductive health care and attacking fair pay the way it was in Wisconsin.

And you know, the violence against women act being controversial for the first time and that women feel that. I've talked to a lot of them across the country and they really do feel like this is the shift and not in their favor.

O'BRIEN: In the wake of the Republican National Convention, they did a poll and asked women their choice for president, leaning Obama, 54 percent, leaning Romney, 42 percent.

That was a little bit of erosion for President Obama and little bit of a gain for Mitt Romney. That would sort of contradict the issue, the message that you're trying to get out.

FLUKE: That's what, a 12-point gap, a really significant gap. I think it's natural that we would see after one party's convention they would move up in the polls, that's pretty typical.

But there's still a sizable gap. President Obama has always been ahead with women throughout this campaign and I'm sure that he's going to be ahead with them on Election Day.

O'BRIEN: You sent an e-mail back on August 23rd and you said Republicans are dangerous for women. The Congressman Akin controversy is not an accident or a mistake or an isolated incident.

It's a reflection of a Republican party whose policies are dangerous for women and you went on to say that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are in lock step with Akin. And critics have said not in lock step. Governor Romney supports to have a provision to have allow women to have abortions for rape and incest and if the health of the mother was at risk.

FLUKE: What I find disturbing about Mr. Romney's position is that he's taken so many different ones on the issue of access to abortion. This is the kind of fundamental issue that is a moral question and I don't expect to see a leader moving and quivering with the political times. So while that's what he's saying right now and I'm glad to hear that. He's also said that he would be delighted to sign a bill that would ban all abortions and he welcomed as a surrogate for him and called an important spokesperson for his pro-life agenda, Dr. Wilky.

The man who put forward these very controversial and very absolutely scientifically untrue theories about women's bodies being able to prevent pregnancy in a case of a rape and that's what Mr. Akin was referencing.

So there are really a lot of ties and connections between those beliefs and as for Mr. Ryan, he and Mr. Akin have co-sponsored several bills that had --

O'BRIEN: I think they are much more ideologically the same as Mitt Romney's position now is certainly. Well, good luck tonight on your speech. We'll look forward to hearing what you have to say.

FLUKE: Not looking forward to going after Michelle Obama last night.

O'BRIEN: It will be a few hours.

FLUKE: Everyone forgets.

O'BRIEN: Thanks for talking with us this morning.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, he vowed to go to every single caucus here at the DNC. Remember that, those 14 caucuses. We're going to talk to Joel Stein up next. See how he did? Did he pull it off? He worked so hard that man. We'll talk to him in a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we need to farm the oceans like we farm the land. On land we don't farm our crops in the cities in these dense areas. Coastal waters are the dense areas where there's a lot of competing uses for that environment.

The farm crops on the land in vast open fields, which is really the open ocean. Not only are we getting a cleaner fish, free of contaminants and harmful contaminants you see in the news on seafood, mercury, pesticides. It doesn't exist and we can prove it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama, he is working very hard to recapture the youth vote in this election. The youth vote was so key to his victory four years ago that's going to be a big focus of this week.

Now young voters haven't been quite as enthusiastic this time around. So yesterday, Obama gave an interview where I think he was trying a little too hard to connect with kids.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people describe you as cool. That cuts both ways, fair description?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: People who know me well and people on the campaign trail, I don't think they describe me that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everybody. We're live this week in Charlotte, North Carolina. Joel Stein from "Time" magazine is back with us this morning.

Yesterday, we sent Joel on an assignment to go and be part and take part and experience every single caucus that makes up the DNC. There are 14.

JOEL STEIN, AUTHOR OF "MAN MADE: A STUPID QUEST FOR MASCULINITY": It's a big tent. There are 14 official ones, but lots of other ones. I tried to meet with every group in the Democratic Party and it was exhausting.

O'BRIEN: How did it go? Who did you meet with? You checked of some.

STEIN: Ones weren't even on your list. I got the African-Americans because they were meeting with the Jews about black Jewish relation --

O'BRIEN: A two-for.

STEIN: It was great. Yes, that's the only way to do it.

O'BRIEN: Who else did you go see and what do they do at these meetings? I mean, is it food party meeting?

STEIN: It depends. Some of them have like -- you know, I started with the Asians and Pacific Islander communities and they had a breakfast with muffins and coffee and no tea. It didn't feel very Asian. I was disappointed, but then I went to a Latino event and first speech was half in English and half in Spanish.

O'BRIEN: That's very Latino.

STEIN: They over pronounced a word.

O'BRIEN: Very Latino. By the way, my name is Soledad.

STEIN: You should have been there.

O'BRIEN: I go to those all the time.

LIZZA: What caucus would you join?

STEIN: That's an excellent question.

O'BRIEN: The youth? STEIN: The youth -- I'm too old for youth. I felt to be honest. The hardest group to find was the white males. I went searching for those guys and got to the rural caucus, where there were -- it was sparsely attended.

O'BRIEN: Labor, faith?

STEIN: There was a new group that met for the first time, which was the LDS for Obama, the Democratic Mormons so I went there. And that was kind of amazing.

O'BRIEN: Yes, why?

STEIN: Well, the food is great. It was the whitest they served in. There was macaroni and cheese and prime rib on white rolls and prayer and then sang like a Mormon song.

O'BRIEN: How do you get this job? All you do, every single time we've had a conversation, you go to parties and scam your ways into parties and then come back and tell us about it.

STEIN: I'm pretty sure that's all that's going on at the conventions, no? Is there other stuff going on?

LIZZA: Were the Mormons for Obama feeling conflicted.

STEIN: There was crying and they felt they were coming out as Democrats. It was like the first time they organized. It was like Harry Reid spoke. Mormons spoke very quietly so it's hard to tell when --

O'BRIEN: I've been yelled at by Congressman Chaffetz. So I'm not sure I agree with you on that.

STEIN: I don't know. There were just three of them there.

O'BRIEN: Joel Stein, so what's your plan for the rest of the week?

STEIN: I need an assignment, anything I should be doing? I'm happy to go.

LIZZA: Go cover the parties and tell us where we should be drinking.

O'BRIEN: Find for me the oldest delegate and the youngest delegate --

STEIN: That's so CNN. Everyone is doing that, right?

LIZZA: So CNN?

STEIN: It's so CNN.

O'BRIEN: Every time you're on my show, you insult me, almost every single time. And by the way, this is CNN.

LIZZA: I probably should say this, Soledad. Off camera, Joel was confessing -- STEIN: Should we go to commercial now?

O'BRIEN: What? What?

LIZZA: He's got a crush. He's been confessing to a long time Soledad O'Brien crush.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know what? I've been like the boy in fourth grade who used to pull my hair and had a crush on me, same problem. Don't be mean, if you have a crush on me.

Still ahead this morning, lots to talk about.

STEIN: That did not go well for me.

O'BRIEN: No, no, no. Oldest, youngest.

STEIN: I'll pull your hair right now.

O'BRIEN: We're back in a moment. Stay with us.

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O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT. You're not seeing double. These are rising stars and twins Julian and Joaquin Castro. They are live with us coming up in our next hour.

Also tonight at the DNC, Bill Clinton will take the center stage. We're bringing in the big guns this morning. We're going to talk to Robert Gibbs, the former White House press secretary turned Obama campaign adviser. He'll stop by to talk to us.

And much more, you're watching STARTING POINT live from Charlotte, North Carolina. Back in a moment.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two California Democratic delegates have been kicked out of the convention for getting completely drunk. One passed out and the other was accused of impersonating a member of Congress. They knew he wasn't a real member of Congress because he was buying his own drinks with his money. So they knew right there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, sharp attacks. Democrats kicking off their convention with a parade of political stars all attacking the GOP. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Mitt was Santa Claus, he would fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes to respecting women's rights, Mitt Romney says no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so this November, with the re-election of President Barack Obama, this generation of Americans will expand upon the hope, the dream, the truth and the promise of America.

MICHELLE OBAMA: I have seen first-hand that being president doesn't change who you are. No. It reveals who you are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: And tonight, there are more big names on the docket, including President Bill Clinton. A packed show ahead this morning on STARTING POINT. We're going to be talking to Robert Gibbs, the former White House spokesperson turned Obama campaign adviser.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and his twin brother Joaquin Castro will be joining us. And actor, John Legzamo is our guest. This Wednesday, September 5th and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our team this morning, Dana Bash is back with us, CNN senior congressional correspondent. Nice to have you with us.

BASH: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: We had a chance to catch up. We never get to talk in person.

BASH: I know. It's terrific.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Chason Chaffetz is with us. He is a Republican from the state of Utah. Bill Burton is a senior strategist at "Priorities USA Action, a Democratic "Super PAC," which is backing President Obama.

He is also the former Obama White House deputy press secretary. Ron Brownstein at the very end there, he is the editorial director of "National Journal." Nice to have you all with us.

Our STARTING POINT this morning is hail to the mom in chief that would be Michelle Obama leading the charge in the first night of Democratic convention. Rousing speech, people love that speech. It was pretty amazing to watch her deliver that speech as well very --