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Mitt Romney Defends Controversial Comments at Fundraiser Caught on Tape; Book Published about Amanda Knox Trial; Mexico Prison Break; Cancer Number One Killer Of Hispanics; CDC: Kids Eat Too Much Salt; Monday Night Football; Gay Slur On Player's Eye Black; Fact Checking Romney's Fundraiser Comments; Royals Take Round One In Court

Aired September 18, 2012 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Morning. Welcome, everybody. Our "starting point" this morning is those people. Yep, I'm quoting GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He's defending now those comments that President Obama supporters are dependent on the government, they think they're entitled.

Also some new comments that have just been released where the former governor trashes a two-state solution for Israel, calls Mideast peace almost unthinkable. This morning we're going to talk to a Romney campaign senior adviser about that controversy.

A French magazine is going to have to pay up for publishing topless photos of Kate Middleton. The brand-new ruling has been handed down by a judge. We'll have a look at the fallout.

Plus, it was a murder trial that shocked the world. A young American, her Italian boyfriend convicted of killing her roommate. Then they were acquitted. Now that ex-boyfriend has a new book talking about what happened that night. It's Tuesday, September 18th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Morning, welcome everybody, our "starting point" this morning is Mitt Romney's hidden camera controversy. New tapes have just come out. We're going through them. In one of them, a donor asks Mitt Romney about the Palestinian problem and here's how he responded.

"I'm torn by two perspectives in this regard. One is the one which I've had for some time is that the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish."

He went on to say he's kicked the ball down the field to the President. The Republican candidate was also secretly recorded at a private fund-raiser back in May going on and on about Obama supporters. Forty seven percent of Americans, he pretty much called them losers, said they were victims, said they relied on the government for support. Here's what he said.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.


O'BRIEN: The former governor's been trying to clarify his remarks. He said they were off the cuff. He said they were not elegantly stated. But he said he can and will state it more clearly down the road. But certainly is not what team Romney would like to be discussing this morning. CNN's Andrew Spencer has more for us. Take a look.


ANDREW SPENCER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In one clip Mitt Romney jokes about wishing his father's parents had been Latino.

ROMNEY: Had he been born of Mexican parents, I'd have a better shot of winning this.


ROMNEY: Americans living in Mexico. He lived there for a number of years, and I mean I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.

SPENCER: And he goes off on Obama supporters.

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent who are with him who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.

SPENCER: The Obama campaign issued a response, saying of a Romney presidency, quote, "It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation." In a news conference late Monday night Romney said he could have spoken more clearly, but said he was trying to point out the differences between the two campaigns.

ROMNEY: We have a very different approach, the President and I, between a government-dominated society and a society driven by free people pursuing their dreams. This is really a discussion about the political process of winning the election. And, of course, I want to help all Americans, all Americans, have a bright and prosperous future. And I'm convinced that the President's approach has not done that and will not do that.

SPENCER: I'm Andrew Spencer reporting.


O'BRIEN: Coming up in just a few moments we're going to be talking with Bay Buchanan. She's a Romney campaign senior adviser. She will be our guest. First, though, we want to get right to John Berman with a look at the rest of the day's top stories. Good morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Great to see you this morning. At least nine people have been killed in a predawn car bombing in Afghanistan, the deadly attack taking place near the Kabul airport. A spokesman for an afghan insurgent group with ties to the Taliban is taking responsibility and says this is in response to that anti-Islam film that's angered Muslims around the world. The car bomber reportedly rammed a small sedan into a mini bus carrying foreign aviation workers to the airport.

New developments in the case of those topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton -- score round one for the royals. The French court has just fined the French publication "Closer" ordering it not to distribute its magazine or the photos of the duchess in print or online. Earlier this morning French prosecutors announced they're opening a preliminary criminal investigation to determine whether "Closer" magazine breached the privacy of the royal couple by publishing those topless photos.

In Chicago, 350,000 kids will get yet another day off from school, as striking teachers continue to look at a deal that's on the table to end their walkout. Meanwhile, parents still scrambling to juggle work and keep their kids out of trouble for the seventh day in a row now. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has gone to court to try to force the teachers to go back to work, but a judge won't look at that until tomorrow.

A security scare at New York's JFK airport. Authorities stopped two arriving planes yesterday afternoon after receiving a telephone threat concerning the flights. An anonymous caller said explosives and a hijacker were on board the two planes, a Finn air flight from Helsinki and an American airlines flight from San Francisco. The American pilot demanded to know what was going on outside his aircraft.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're surrounded by emergency vehicles. There's a reason for this. Somebody's got to give us a reason or we're going to evacuate the aircraft.


BERMAN: The FBI searched both planes and gave it the all clear, a tense moment that ended well, Soledad.

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

Let's get back to our starting point this morning, Mitt Romney calling President Obama supporters "those people," talking about voters who rely on government assistance, released tapes say he says he's not sure Mideast peace is possible. So what was supposed to be a re- launch of his campaign today is now being reframed by new snippets from a fundraiser and a hastily put together press conference that was held late last night.

Let's get to Bay Buchanan. She's a Romney campaign senior adviser. It's nice to see you, bay. Thanks for talking with us, as always. Let's begin with some of the clips that are being sent out, sort of little pieces at a time, from this fundraiser. I want to talk about what Mitt Romney said about roughly half of the country. Let's play that.


ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they're entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it, that that's an entitlement, and the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. These are the people who pay no income tax.

My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.


O'BRIEN: He says he's not going to worry about 47 percent of the country. He says they're victims, they feel entitled, they don't have personal responsibility, they don't care for their lives. That's roughly what he said in that clip there. How do you justify that if you want to be president of the entire country?

BAY BUCHANAN, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Soledad, it's unfortunate we don't have the question. But it's clear, even from that clip, that what he's talking about when he says he's not worried is that, listen, he's talking politics. He's analyzing the voter base. How do I reach my 50 point plus one vote?

And when you do that, and I tell you I haven't met a candidate who doesn't, I always recommend they don't, but they always seem to like to be that political analyst -- what he's saying is there are people out there who don't pay taxes, unfortunately. They're in a position where they're dependent on government, and those individuals are -- those Americans are voting for Barack Obama. They're in his backyard. And so those are people that I'm not going to be able to reach with my 20 percent tax cut or my cuts in spending because they would be concerned. It's not going to impact them getting a 20 percent tax cut. They don't pay taxes.

So that's what he was talking about here. Not that -- clearly as president he is extremely concerned. His whole policy is designed to help those people get moved back into the middle class or get into the middle class if they haven't been there before --

O'BRIEN: What plan --

BUCHANAN: -- so they can start paying taxes as well.

O'BRIEN: What question, Bay, would make that -- what you said you don't hear the question in the context. Let me finish my question. Because, I'm going to just repeat what he said. It's not about policy and strategy in an election in a campaign. He said they believe "They are victims, they believe the government has a responsibility to care for them. I'm not going to worry about 47 percent of the country. My job is not to worry about those people, I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

BUCHANAN: As a candidate, he can't worry about those he can't get. You know, that's the first thing you do as a --

O'BRIEN: "I'm not going to convince them to take personal responsibility and care for their lives." He didn't say, listen, those are hard-core Democrats and they're never going to be Republicans?

BUCHANAN: You know what, what the real issue before us, Soledad, as a country, and in this campaign, is that one-third of Americans are in poverty -- no, one out of every six Americans are in poverty today. And that 47 million are taking food stamps in order to take care of themselves and their families. That's a national disgrace, 23 million Americans trying to find work.

O'BRIEN: Listen, I fully understand the strategy is to -- the real problem and talk about this.

BUCHANAN: That's right. The real problem.

O'BRIEN: I'm going to focus on this for a moment. And we can take about the real problem maybe a little bit later on. I want to talk a little bit about the 47 percent of the people who are not paying taxes. Let's play a little bit -- another clip that -- from this dinner.


ROMNEY: Among those that pay no tax, approximately 47 percent of Americans, I'm not likely to be highly successful with a message of lowering taxes. That's not as attractive to those who don't pay income taxes as it is to those who do. And likewise, those who are reliant on government are not as attracted to my message of slimming down the size of government.


O'BRIEN: Was Governor Romney on Monday night sort of talking about these tapes as they were released, and, of course, he says 47 percent of Americans pay no tax. That's not correct.

BUCHANAN: It's no income tax, Soledad. That -- you are correct. It's no income tax. They certainly pay payroll taxes.

O'BRIEN: And even those 47 percent, I think I have a chart of these, 47 percent of those people who pay no income tax, look at that chart there, 61 percent of those folks, they're paying payroll tax. Money is coming out of their paycheck.

BUCHANAN: Yes, they are.

O'BRIEN: It's being described as a sort of myth the deadbeat nation.

BUCHANAN: No, no, no.

O'BRIEN: But they're paying money, right? Payroll tax, of course.

BUCHANAN: Absolutely. What he is saying that 40 percent that are not paying income tax, what his proposal is, part of his, in order to turn this middle class around, part of his proposal is 20 percent across the board income tax cut. So what he's saying is, that's not going to appeal to those -- that message is not going to appeal in this campaign to those who don't pay income tax. That's what he's saying. If this is a campaign analysis, as he's saying, if I talk about cutting spending, which drastically has to be done, because the spending under Obama has been so reckless, we have to cut, well people who are dependent on government are going to be less likely to be -- to respond to that positively because they're concerned, you know, for their own selves, how they're going to take care of their families.

O'BRIEN: Let me read a little bit of what David brooks wrote in his e op-ed. He said "The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big government lovers. They're Republicans. They're Republicans. They're senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings institution has noted, the people who have benefited from the entitlement explosion are middle class workers more so than the dependent poor."

So essentially, didn't Mitt Romney in these leaked tapes really bash his own voters? Those are the people who are voting for Mitt Romney.

BUCHANAN: Honey, I -- it's like I'm talking to my husband. Soledad --

O'BRIEN: That's OK. I like it.

BUCHANAN: I think what he's saying -- I'm trying to charm you here. You know, it's -- you know there's no question that Mitt Romney's plan is that he recognize more and more people are becoming dependent on government. And that is Barack Obama, his answer is more government, more government. Where as --

O'BRIEN: I hear you, but my question to you is, aren't the people that he's bashing to these wealthy donors, these are Republicans. These are white men with high school diplomas, these very people are the people who were going to vote for him, and now you have a major problem.

BUCHANAN: We're not -- first of all, we're not bashing them. He was analyzing saying certain people are with Barack. Certain people we have. Certain people are in the middle. And that's who we're going to appeal to.

But the key here is that we recognize that America today deserves better than we have. You can't have 23 million unemployed or underemployed Americans, and say that we're doing well. And Barack Obama wants you to spend more. And we say, Mitt Romney said that's not the right way. The right way is to give these people who are out there, who are finding they need food stamps, an opportunity to, again, be able to work and produce and take care of themselves and family and have that -- O'BRIEN: But 47 percent of the nation is not on food stamps.

BUCHANAN: But 47 percent --

O'BRIEN: That 47 percent number is not people who are on food stamps as you see --

BUCHANAN: But 47 million Americans are on food stamps. And that is a national disgrace. You have to agree.

O'BRIEN: But the number he's talking about in these leaked tapes is half of the country. Half of the country is not on food stamps. He's talking about half of the country are people who are going to vote, potentially, the people he's talking about who are getting some kind of entitlement including Social Security, including Medicare, they are white people. They are people who are going -- men, high school degrees. You are essentially the campaign, meaning you, are essentially undermining the very people that you're trying to get. Let me ask you another question about this --

BUCHANAN: You know, Soledad, let me make a point. I do believe that the majority of Americans, without question, way more than 47 percent, whether they're dependent now on different aspects of government, they want to again see the kind of enormous opportunity out there for their children and for themselves, that they can really pick and choose the kind of jobs that they can take.

O'BRIEN: But he didn't say that.


BUCHANAN: That is what he offers.

O'BRIEN: I wish he said that. But he didn't offer it. I bet today he wishes what bay just said, I wish I had said that at that dinner, because today the clips that we're talking about, he didn't say that. He said 47 percent of the nation are basically losers, they consider themselves to be --

BUCHANAN: No, he did not say they're losers. Don't put -- not pay income tax. That's a fact.

O'BRIEN: He did not. He said they are victims, they believe the government has a responsibility for them. My job is not to worry about them. I'll never convince them to have personal responsibility, implied, they don't. I'll never convince them to care for their lives. Implied they don't. That's what he said.


O'BRIEN: Let me ask you another question. I've got to move on. I want to play a clip about a joke that he made about being Latino. If he were Latino he would have an easier path I guess.


ROMNEY: Had he been born of Mexican parents I'd have a better shot of winning this. But he was not.


ROMNEY: -- Americans living in Mexico, lived there for a number of years. I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.


O'BRIEN: The irony is that earlier in the day he'd been talking to the Hispanic chamber of commerce and he highlighted in his speech to the Hispanic chamber of commerce the direly high unemployment figures for Latinos and makes a joke if only I were Latino I'd be doing better than I'm doing. At the very least, bad idea?

BUCHANAN: It's a joke. He's used it before. He did on Univision where they were laughing and talking about, hey, you were born in, you know, your folks were born in Mexico. So couldn't you claim this? And so it's kind of a joke that's been going back and forth.

But the key is, you look at Barack Obama, black Americans are extremely proud to have him as President of the United States, one of their own, if you like. And they vote overwhelmingly, 90-some percent. And so the idea is, hey, maybe I could get a higher percentage of Hispanics if I could claim that. And it's a joke. That's it. We all should be laughing and not be too concerned about this.

O'BRIEN: You know, there was a while back in the beginning of the campaign in the primary process when I did an interview with Mitt Romney, and we went back and forth in the interview, he had just won the Florida primary, so it was about hey, you won, congratulations. Let's talk a little bit about the strategy ahead. And then he says this. I'm going to run the chunk of the interview that I did with him, because it now seems to be coming back around. Let's play that.


ROMNEY: I'm not concerned about the very poor, we have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans right now who are struggling, and I'll continue to take that message across the nation.


O'BRIEN: All right, I know I said last question, you just said "I'm not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net. And I think there are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling," who would say, that sounds odd. Can you explain that?

ROMNEY: Well, you had to finish the sentence, Soledad. I said I'm not concerned about the very poor that have a safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them.

O'BRIEN: Got it, OK. ROMNEY: The challenge right now, we will hear from the democrat party, the plight of the poor, and there's no question, it's not good being poor. And we have a safety net to help those that are very poor. But my campaign is focused on middle-income Americans. My campaign, you can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich. That's not my focus. You can focus on the very poor. That's not my focus.


O'BRIEN: I think there are people who would say, yes, and I guess that's true. You know, he kind of went later and backed away from those comments. But I think people hearing these clips from inside this private dinner, with very wealthy donors, $50,000 a plate to attend this, they actually, what he said there was the truth was what he was thinking, that he doesn't care about the very poor.

BUCHANAN: Again, he didn't say he didn't care, Soledad. Let's --

O'BRIEN: No, he said he didn't care.

BUCHANAN: There's a safety net out there for the poor. And he said if there's any holes in it, let's make certain that we fill those holes because we have to have a safety net, a government does. And he supports that.

But right now what's happening in America is we're losing our middle class. And so his campaign is to give a plan, to show Americans what he will do as president to provide those opportunities, to make certain the private sector becomes invigorated, that that energy is started again, and that's where the American spirit lies.

O'BRIEN: What he said was half the country sees themselves as victims and there's nothing I can do about those.

BUCHANAN: No, what he -- it wasn't -- he said 47 percent. That's a fact. That comes out of a report, 47 percent of Americans do not pay income taxes.

O'BRIEN: No, no, no, no. What he said -- he said that, too. But he said this, "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what, who believe they are victims." Another section he was sort of conflating the idea that 47 percent of people do not pay taxes, and you could argue he's speaking specifically about income tax, even though they're paying payroll tax, so it's really 18 percent.

But 47 percent of people, he says, they're victims and they think they're entitled. And obviously, today, everybody in the campaign is thinking that's a big mistake. Listen, there's a sense, you saw the "Politico" article I'm sure, that the campaign is in big trouble. Bloomberg writes, here's a headline from Bloomberg, "Today Mitt Romney lost the election." "Politico" says the thing is kind of the wheels are falling off. Is that correct? Is it just a hot mess in there?

BUCHANAN: I find it very humorous. Everybody said Romney has had a rough week. And certainly this is a bump in the road. But we, but is anybody looking at the campaign of Barack Obama? He has spent the last week with America watching as his foreign policy is of appeasement and apologies has disintegrated. We have problems around this world in all the Muslim countries where people's anti-American sentiment is unbelievable. And that's a good week?

O'BRIEN: But aren't you kind of answering your own question when you say looking at the campaign of Barack Obama. No, because look at the headlines. You're right. You're drawing focus to your own campaign.

BUCHANAN: That's an indictment on the media, Soledad, that they would think that some little comment by the candidate is more important than a policy, an entire foreign policy of the President of the United States. Also, is this not a story that one out of every six Americans is in poverty? Is that not a much bigger story that 47 million Americans have to take food stamps to take care of themselves and their families, and that's because of four years of Barack Obama and that he has no new, fresh ideas on how to put America back to work? That's what Mitt Romney is all about. That's what our campaign is about. That seems to be a whole lot more important than some comment that he made inarticulately stated about which voters are Barack Obama's --

O'BRIEN: I appreciate your spin on that. But I think inarticulately stated is the least of the problems they're facing.

BUCHANAN: Let's get to the serious problems about America.

O'BRIEN: Bay, it's nice to have you. Thank you for talking with us this morning.

We've got to take a short break. Still ahead this morning, the two were convicted of a murder and a sensational trial before an Italian court eventually released them. Now Amanda Knox's ex-boyfriend making some interesting admissions. We've got a live report on that up next.

And then Todd Akin, the congressman who said a woman can avoid getting pregnant after a legitimate rape because, you know, that secret special magic biology that kicks in. Now his wife is making some controversial comments of her own. We'll share with you what they are. That's our "Get Real" this morning. STARTING POINT is back in a moment.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans. Stocks losing some steam after the Federal Reserve stimulus announcement last week, an announcement that took stocks to almost five-year highs. U.S. stock futures are down this morning.

We're watching Apple stock today. It's up above $700 a share in free market trade. It closed just shy of the milestone yesterday at $699.78 a share. All fueled by the big iPhone-5 announcement. The new phone will be in stores September 21st, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Are you going to get one? ROMANS: I don't know. We'll see. Can we get them at work?

O'BRIEN: Who gets those to test drive them? How do you get to be one of those people?

ROMANS: Now the smartphones over at Yahoo!

O'BRIEN: The blackberry, I have to have both. I need the buttons. You can't do it on a treadmill without the buttons. You ever tried to do that on a treadmill?

ROMANS: I haven't been on a treadmill in years, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: That brings us to a whole other topic.

Some new revelations to share with you from the ex-boyfriend of Amanda Knox about the death of her roommate Meredith Kercher. You'll remember that knock and Raffaele Sollecito were convicted and cleared of murder after they spent four years in prison. Now Sollecito, the ex-boyfriend, has written a book called "Honor Bound, My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox," and in it he maintains their innocence. But he admits that they gave Italian police good reason to suspect them. CNN's Matthew Chance is live for us in London this morning with some details. What does he say, Matthew, about that night?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, as you mentioned, he goes out again and says, you know, that they weren't -- they weren't guilty of this crime. They had nothing to do with it. He talked about how they smoked marijuana on the night that Meredith Kercher, the 21-year-old student from Britain was killed in the Italian town of Perugia, but obviously says that they had nothing to do with it. And he also says in the book what he said at the trial, which is that he could not believe that Amanda Knox was capable of murder.

There are some things that come out of it, though. He is very critical of the Italian judicial system, and internationally there was a lot of criticism about whether the investigation was handled. But he writes in the book that "Neither Amanda Knox nor I had anything to do with the crime but we came very close to spending the rest of our lives in prison because the authorities found it easier and more convenient to take advantage of our youth and inexperience than to mount a proper investigation."

So very critical of the Italian authorities. He also accuses the Italian prosecutor of trying to get him to do a plea bargain and to implicate Amanda Knox which he said he refused to do.

O'BRIEN: So, then, he has written this book, and he's restating his innocence. But of course Amanda Knox has a book coming out, as well. Word is she got a $4 million advance for her book. Is there any sense that what he's telling and what she's going to tell are going to be different?

CHANCE: Well, we'll have to wait and see. I've heard that figure, too, $4 million for that book. It's due out in the spring. Certainly this book by Raffaele Sollecito, her former boyfriend, is not going to be the last word on this very, very high profile case. You've got the Amanda Knox book. Plus you've got movies coming out, as well. One of them starring Colin Firth, we happen to know, about the very high profile trial.

It was remarkable for a number of reasons. The media attention on that trial, especially on the appeal last year, was quite, quite phenomenal. And so there's a lot of interest in it. Obviously both parties here are capitalizing on it. And that's, of course, in contradiction to the sort of pleas of the Kercher family, who have asked all the parties involved to keep a very low profile for the sake of out of respect for their dead daughter.

O'BRIEN: It's just got to be brutal for that family, this whole entire process. Matthew Chance updating us this morning. Thank you, Matthew, appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, it was bad enough I think when Congressman Todd Akin said a woman getting pregnant by legitimate rape is rare because of the biological magic that happens, apparently. But his wife is now comparing the push to get her and her husband out of the GOP to rape, again, maybe not the best choice of words for them. It's our "Get Real" this morning. Plus, our STARTING POINT team is heading in to talk about that and much more, Richard Socarides, Maggie Haberman joins us, and Jesse Ventura is with us.

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


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Our team this morning is Richard Socarides. He is a former special adviser in the Clinton White House. It's nice to have you with us.

Maggie Haberman is back. Long time no see, Maggie. It's nice to have you, senior political reporter for "Politico." Jesse Ventura, author of "Democrips and Rebloodlicans." He is also the former governor of Minnesota.


O'BRIEN: It is.


O'BRIEN: I think you actually that's just run through it fast. That's been my strategy on things that I have a hard time pronouncing and 50 percent --

VENTURA: The key is the subtitle of the book, no more gangs in government. I'm calling for the abolishment of political parties, and I have pretty good backing on it, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. O'BRIEN: Then there's that whole chunk in the middle between then and now where you've had a lot of political parties. We'll talk a little bit about that later this morning.

VENTURA: That's why we've been progressively heading down the hill, isn't it?

O'BRIEN: Well, I think we look forward to that on all fronts. I was just saying that -- don't make me crawl across the table, Governor.

SOCARIDES: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: That's right. This is going to be a long morning.

SOCARIDES: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Let's go to our guests this morning. Probably you weren't expecting any more rape metaphors from the Todd Akin campaign. Another kind of odd moment, I thought. This time from the Missouri senate candidate's wife, Lily Akin, raising some eyebrows by comparing the Republican Party's treatment of her husband to rape in an interview that they did with the "National Journal."

The party pulls funding for Akin's senate campaign. They want him to drop out after those comments last month about a woman's ability to shutdown like a spy logically to prevent pregnancy during "legitimate rape", not my word.

Akin's wife comparing the GOP's conduct to the tyrannical party bosses, she says that when colonists rose up and said, "Not in my home, you don't come and rape my daughters and my wife, but that's where we are again." That's her quote. It seems an unfortunate choice of words. We say to her, don't use those phrases.

SOCARIDES: She's obviously a little upset still about what's happened to her husband.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, I think it is that anger against the base perceived to be on the Republican side and Democratic side of pressure to drop out when they felt like they weren't particularly supported anyway.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": They won a primary fair and square. He clearly, you know, said something that was a mistake. He's been trying to deal with it.

He has said he is sorry. His supporters say isn't there still something in politics where if you mess up you get forgiveness, but I do think that was probably not the greatest --

BERMAN: He's going to try to stay in, right? He's going to stay in. The next big deadline --

VENTURA: Does he have a mechanism in his body to repel this rape? As a male, you know. O'BRIEN: See, it's the right of the "National Journal." We've got to talk to Ron Brownstein about that. Isn't there some biological magic that happens when the GOP party bosses --

VENTURA: Yes, that he can repel this and not have to deal with it.

O'BRIEN: It's going to be an interesting morning, I can tell. All right, so that is our "Get Real" this morning. We've got to take a short break already, I know.

Still ahead this morning, Mitt Romney is going to talk about all these comments that have now been leaked from this fundraiser, $50,000 a plate talks about voters as those people.

The 47 percent who rely on the government, who exactly are those 47 percent? They say don't pay taxes. Christine Romans is going to join us to break it down.

And baseball players use eye black to block out the sun, but one player may be in trouble for a message he decided to write on his eye black, really? You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. We start with John Berman with an update on the stories making news. Good morning.

BERMAN: Good morning, Soledad. As many as 132 inmates have escaped from a prison through a tunnel in Northern Mexico setting off a massive search along the border near Eagle Pass, Texas. Mexican authorities are blocking all roads leading to the U.S at this hour.

The Coast Guard is searching off the coast of Florida this morning after a 21-year-old woman went overboard during a cruise headed for the Bahamas. The captain immediately stopped the ship and turned around to search for her. Two other nearby ships joined the search before Coast Guard crews took over.

Classes will resume this morning at Louisiana State University a day after a bomb threat forced an evacuation of the entire Baton Rouge campus. Thousands of students, professors and university employees were told to leave since no specific part of the campus was mentioned. Police and bomb sniffing dogs swept each of the school's 250 buildings.

Cancer is now the number one cause of death for Hispanics in the U.S. That's according to a new study from the American Cancer Society. Heart disease remains the number one cause of death for African- Americans and non-Hispanic whites.

The study says the reason cancer is already the biggest cause of death for Hispanics is probably because the Hispanic population as a whole in the U.S. is younger.

A new health warning for parents, a report from the Centers of Disease Control says too many American kids are eating too much salt. In fact, kids consume as much as adults, an average of 3300 milligrams every day. The CDC says that puts kids at a risk of high blood pressure very early on.

Peyton Manning continuing his comeback on Monday night football, but it was not his night. Manning threw three interceptions on his first four attempts, putting the Broncos in a 20-0 hole early on. A late rally came up short. The Falcons beat Denver 27-21.

And this, a baseball player may be in trouble for an offensive message written in eye black. Major League Baseball is investigating reports that Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Escobar played Saturday's game against Boston wearing eye black with a gay slur written in Spanish.

We blurred the image you're looking at for obvious reasons. The Blue Jays released a statement saying the team does not support discrimination of any kind or condone the message displayed there.

O'BRIEN: I don't get it. Why? Like why? Why would you -- why?

SOCARIDES: It's interesting that there's all this stuff in pro football now about the Baltimore Ravens guy who came out and had that message -- it's hard to understand.

O'BRIEN: All the teammates got around him. They supported him. So, I mean --

BERMAN: We said get real. What could he possibly have been thinking?

HABERMAN: It's not like this is going to be sanctioned by anyone. This is purely attention getting. It is not positive attention getting. It is going to earn you criticism. I'm not really sure.

SOCARIDES: Very well might be sanctioned. You know, Governor Ventura and his wife did an amazing video in Minnesota for the people trying to beat the constitutional amendment in Minnesota, which would ban gay marriage. I really want to thank you for doing that. It was really, very, very nicely done.

VENTURA: I'll tell you why I'm so passionate over allowing gays to marry. When I was in pro wrestling, I had a friend in there who was gay. He had a partner for over 25 years. When his partner ended up in intensive care, he was not allowed to sit bedside because hospital rules stated spouse or next of kin, which he couldn't qualify as either.

And I thought that is cruel and inhumane. And you know, who's government to tell you who to fall in love with? That's not the role of government to do that.

O'BRIEN: Why would -- I just don't get, why do that? Why overtly state whatever your ideals -- it seems insane. Maybe he will be sanctioned.

VENTURA: Assault with the children, does that mean children is going to ban salt in nut rolls, because kids -- O'BRIEN: Maybe, Michael, let's write that down. No salted nut rolls. Up next.

HABERMAN: When I say sanctioned, I don't mean he will be sanctioned, I mean this won't be condoned.

VENTURA: Back to gay marriage. I've been married 37 years. How does it affect me in two gay people get married? It doesn't affect me a bit. What you have here again is not the separation of church and state.

You're bringing church thoughts into state policy, or of government policy. Keep them separate. Government should only acknowledge civil unions. Let the churches recognize marriage, they're the private sector. If they don't want to do it, and they want to discriminate, that's up to them.

SOCARIDES: This is important now in the context of the election, because there are four states this year that will vote on marriage equality, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington State. And three of those places, if the vote goes with pro-equality advocates we'll have three more states where you'll have same-sex marriage might be allowed.

And recently as coming next week the Supreme Court may rule on the California case so we may have four new same-sex marriage states.

O'BRIEN: All right, we've got to take a short break. Still ahead this morning, Mitt Romney says the 47 percent who rely on government assistance probably won't like his plans for the country. Who are those 47 percent? Christine Romans has the break down. That's up next on STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. A hidden camera recording -- recording is shaking the Romney campaign this morning at a private fundraiser back in May.

The former governor is heard saying this about millions of Americans who rely on government assistance in terms of funding or other kinds of assistance. Listen.


ROMNEY: There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing.


O'BRIEN: Christine Romans is going to break that number down so 47 percent number.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Right. O'BRIEN: -- who are on government assistance.

ROMANS: And he says that 47 percent do not pay federal income taxes. Taxes, that's right. Well, what he thinks he means for the tax policies, 46.4 percent of people do not pay federal income taxes, 53.6 percent do.

Of those who don't pay federal income tax, most of them pay, or a majority of them pay a payroll tax. They probably pay state and government taxes. Virtually no family in America is not taxed some way, 22 percent are elderly, and 15 percent are very poor under $20,000 a year in income but not elderly.

I want to look at some of the other assistance that he may be talking about. You heard him talk about food stamps. Medicaid is the biggest sort of federal aid that people get, 26 percent of Americans get that, food stamps 15 percent, women, infants and children, wic, 8 percent.

O'BRIEN: These are basically -- all these are government assistance for people who are very poor.

ROMANS: Right.

O'BRIEN: And that's what, when you talk about people who are not paying federal income tax that is a group of people who are largely elderly and very, very poor. There are some lower middle-class families that fall into that category.

Because remember Congress passes all kinds of tax deductions and tax breaks. We get tax breaks for all kinds of things. So there are middle-class and lower middle-class families who have a negative or zero tax burden at the end of the year.

O'BRIEN: So government assistance is also Medicare and Social Security if you're a veteran and you're getting some kind of benefit. That's a government assistance. A Pell Grant is some kind of government assistance. That 47 percent is a very large --

ROMANS: There are some people who talk about government assistance and others say government benefits. You know, for example you pay into Social Security. You pay into Medicare. Social Security there are 61 million families who are getting either Social Security, people getting Social Security, or Social Security supplemental income.

That would be like somebody who's lost a parent. A minor who's lost a parent and then gets Social Security benefits that their parent was paying into, for example.

O'BRIEN: OK, but this 47 percent number, half of the nation is not in poverty.

ROMANS: No, you're right.

O'BRIEN: That's right. So we're not talking about 50 percent of the nation is poverty and these are the people who are the deadbeats, the losers, who don't have jobs, who are not providing anything. So this number has to include more people. They can't just be the poor. It has to include the middle class or the lower and middle class.

ROMANS: And there's a very real debate being had had by how big can the government safety net get, right? We've seen it swell from the early 1980s, no question. That was not the debate that was being had, at least at that venue. A lot of conservatives are talking about this.

SOCARIDES: Is it 47 percent -- 47 percent of people who don't pay income taxes.

ROMANS: Federal income taxes.

SOCARIDES: Or 47 percent of people who are receiving government benefits or is it both 47 percent?

ROMANS: Both. Those are two separate --

VENTURA: I wrote in my book, "Democrips and Rebloodlicans," I'd like to know why -- let's focus on major corporations. There are major corporations that make 14 billion a year and pay -- wait. And corporations, it's documented. They actually pay more to lobbyists than what they pay in taxes.

O'BRIEN: General Electric is the sixth largest corporation in the United States and in 2010 they disclosed they paid zero in federal income tax.

ROMANS: Companies have a financial duty to make sure they get all the tax breaks that are legal to them. Maybe the American people have a federal duty to make sure they get all their tax breaks.

HABERMAN: It's the word victim that I think is the biggest problem for him here politically. We are talking about numbers and trying to figure out exactly what he was referring to.

I don't think we'll have clarity on that right now. We didn't get clarity last night at the press conference that was being called hastily called. It was the word victim. These are people who consider themselves victims. That is the part that will haunt him through today.

BERMAN: It's not the math. It's the English.

HABERMAN: Well put. That's right.

O'BRIEN: It's 47 percent of the country. Regardless of what that 47 percent is, at some point he said, half the country are victims.

ROMANS: And for lack of personal responsibility care for themselves.

SOCARIDES: You never want to go after the American people when you're asking them for their votes.

HABERMAN: It's one thing to have a debate about government and its role and it's another thing to be insulting to voters.

O'BRIEN: Right. And the latter is what happened yesterday. All right, the royal family heads to court. Did they win the battle against the magazine that published the topless photos of Kate Middleton? We'll have a live report on that up next. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. New development in the case of those topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton and you can score round one for the royals.

In the last hour, a Paris court fined the French publication "Closer." They're also banned from distributing the photos in print or online. Max Foster is traveling with the duke and duchess as they celebrate the queen's diamond jubilee.

He is in the Solomon Islands. Good morning, Max. Tell us about those rulings this morning.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think they're certainly celebrating right now. They've effectively closed this one down. What they've done is said to the magazine that they cannot reproduce these. They cannot resell these pictures around the world.

So they've closed it down. Also a criminal prosecution looks like it's under way, a preliminary investigation is taking place, which could ultimately mean sanctions against the editor, potentially jail time.

And also the photographer, even though they haven't identified the photographer yet, could face sanctions as well. So, certainly first round to the Duchess of Cambridge and they will be celebrating.

Soledad, they have been some incredible scenes coming to us where the couple have just landed and they've been dancing in grass skirts, we're told.

Maybe they got the news sooner than we thought, because they're having a great time on this tour right now. It had some great success on the legal challenge. Certainly for them will be some repress since the publication of this magazine.

O'BRIEN: Max Foster for us updating us on the latest in that court case. Thank you, Max. Appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Mitt Romney off message on the defensive this morning after a hidden video of him is released, just what did he mean by calling half the country "those people"? You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.