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Anti-West Protests Erupt in Pakistan; Apple's iPhone-5 Hits Stores; Woman Sues Deutsche Bank for Gender Discrimination ; Hilton Says Most Gay Men "Probably Have AIDS"; Bracing For Violence On Muslim Prayer Day; Clinton: 47 Percent Comment Puts Burden On Romney In Debates; School Bus Overturns; Giant Blowout; SNL Takes On Romney; "Stop It"; Forest Whitaker's Work For Peace

Aired September 21, 2012 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning is tension overseas. The world is bracing for protests after Friday prayers over the publication of cartoons showing the Prophet Muhammad this week. Embassies, schools already closed.

And this morning, buildings have been set on fire in Pakistan. We're going to bring you a live report from Islamabad in just a few moments.

Also, President Obama admits his biggest failure.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My biggest failure so far is we haven't gotten comprehensive immigration reform done. So, we're going to be continuing to work on that.


O'BRIEN: He promised comprehensive reform. He broke his word.

And, it's the day that Apple fans have been anxiously waiting for. The iPhone 5 goes on sale. The lines already have been piling up for days.

It's Friday, September 21, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Our "starting point": anti-Western anger rising again in the Muslim world in response to an American film and a French cartoon that mocks Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Overnight, protesters torched two movie theaters in Peshawar in Pakistan. One person is dead. More than two dozen others have been injured.

The tension is building in other hot spots, as well, following Friday prayer. The U.S. has closed diplomatic facilities in Indonesia, in Sudan, all as a precaution. Let's get right to CNN's Reza Sayah. He's live for us in Islamabad in Pakistan. Good morning to you, Reza.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. We certainly expected protests in Pakistan today but we didn't expect them to start in the morning. But that's exactly what we saw. Demonstrations in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, some of them turned violent, more than two dozen people injured in Peshawar, one person killed, and it's only halfway through on this Friday. More demonstrations are expected.


SAYAH: In Pakistan, deepening concern for an explosive day of protests. For the second Friday in a row, hardline religious groups have called for anti-western demonstrations on a day declared by Islamabad as a national day of love, for Islam's prophet Muhammad. By 9:00 a.m. local time, small groups of protesters had already torched tollbooths, looted stores, and clashed with police in several cities.

Friday's demonstrations come a day after hundreds of protesters, and many young men in their teens and 20s, tried to storm the capital's diplomatic enclave, a secured compound that houses foreign embassies. In Karachi, Pakistan, several teachers led roughly 100 elementary schoolchildren on an anti-American demonstration. The teachers chanted slogans against the west. The students chanted back. The demonstrations have been small but growing in number and intensity.

Both Islamabad and Washington taking extra steps to ease the rising anger. On Friday morning cell phone service in parts of Pakistan was cut off, an apparent effort to hamper the rallies. On Pakistan's radio and television airwaves, in ads paid for by Washington, featured President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for calm.

OBAMA: Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content, and message. America's commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.

SAYAH: Elsewhere, in Iran, a senior cleric reportedly upped the bounty for the killing of author Salman Rushdie, whose book "The Satanic Verses" sparked global protests more than two decades ago after the late imam Khomeini declared it an insult to Islam.

SALMAN RUSHDIE, AUTHOR: Yes, it was a stupid film, you know. And the correct response to a stupid film on YouTube is to say, it's a stupid film on YouTube and you get on with the rest of your life. So, to take that, and to deliberately use it to inflame your troops, you know, is a political act. That's not about religion. That's about power.


SAYAH: We just returned back to the office from the streets of Islamabad, where we saw in several neighborhoods the demonstrations growing. They're heating up. For the most part, they are peaceful. There are some pitched battles, pockets of clashes. And it's critical to point out, Soledad, the protesters who were turning violent are young. They appear to be teenagers, young men in their 20s. You don't get the impression when you see the mischievous smile on their face that they're offended by an anti-Islam movie. It looks like they're getting a rush out of these face-offs with police.

O'BRIEN: Reza Sayah for us this morning. Reza, thank you for that update.

In just a few moments we're going to be talking with Jamie Rubin, a former U.S. assistant sect about the violence overseas. First we want to get you a look at the rest of the day's top stories. John Berman has those for us. Good morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It's here -- iPhone frenzy. The brand-new iPhone-5 goes on sale this morning. There are long lines outside Apple stores all over the world, from Tokyo to Sydney to London. CNN's Maggie Lake is live outside Apple's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York city where fans will be able to get their hands on one of these iPhones in less than an hour. Maggie?

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. This is the technology world's version of tailgating. That's really the only way to describe it. You could order this phone online, and, in fact, over 2 million people did, making it the fastest-selling smartphone ever. But take a look behind me. These people wanted to just be part of the event, a lot of them hardcore Apple fans. Some of them have been here for eight days. And we talked to them about why they come out and what the wait has been like. Have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came with a friend of mine, he's number two. He's actually sleeping at the moment. So that helped, kind of the buddy system to cover for each other when one of us wanted to shower or change. Last three days were more pretty much sleeping here almost around the clock. There was one night where there was just torrential rain. That was kind of a problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm probably a seven. Yes, yes. I don't have to have everything right away, but I ultimately end up buying everything.


LAKE: And that has been the power of Apple, John. We end up buying them. The store does open in about a little less than an hour's time. As we talked about earlier, the new iPhone 5 is small. It's lighter, it's the screen is larger but it feels lighter and it's most importantly faster. It's going to be able to let users connect to that faster 4G network so let you use the smartphone a lot faster. Mostly glowing reviews for it. A couple people don't like the map app as much. They ditched Google Maps and some people are upset that there's a new connector. But for the most part people can't wait to get their hands on it.

BERMAN: Maggie Lake outside the Apple store here on Fifth Avenue. This phone is going to make Apple a lot of money. Take a look at this. It costs about $649 without a contract, but it costs Apple $206 to make. Here's just a portion of where that money goes -- the display and touchscreen, $44; the memory, about $20; the battery, $4.50; and the assembly, just $8.

President Obama tackling some tough questions an immigration reform during a forum hosted by the Spanish television network Univision. One of the hosts even insisted the President acknowledge he's failed to keep a campaign promise to push reforms through during his first term.


OBAMA: My biggest failure so far is we haven't gotten comprehensive immigration reform done. So, we're going to be continuing to work on that.


OBAMA: But it's not for lack of trying or desire. And I'm confident we're going to accomplish that.


BERMAN: The President says he takes full responsibility for the slow pace of immigration reform, admitting he's been sidetracked by the economy during his first term.

Now, the Romney campaign is jumping right in on what it saw as a gaffe by President Obama during that Univision forum. In response to a question, the President said he's learned you can't change Washington from the inside. Well, Mitt Romney tried to capitalize on that right away.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The President today threw in the white flag of surrender again. He said he can't change Washington from the inside, he can only change it from outside. Well we're going to give him that chance in November! He's going outside!



BERMAN: Some tough news for the Romney campaign, though, this morning. New polls showing President Obama pulling ahead of Romney in three key critical swing states. In Wisconsin, which is Paul Ryan's home state, the latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll has the President with a five-point lead, 50-45 percent. It's the same story in Colorado, 50-45. And the lead in Iowa even greater, seven points, the President leads -- actually eight points by my not good math, 50 percent to 42 percent.

The U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan is officially over. This started three years ago when President Obama sent in 30,000 additional troops to help neutralize the Taliban resurgence. The last several hundred of those surge troops have now been shipped out. That leaves about 68,000 U.S. personnel still stationed in Afghanistan.

The suspect in the movie theater massacre in Colorado debuted a new look at a court appearance. James Holmes no longer sporting that shaggy dyed-orange hair from the night he was arrested for allegedly going on a shooting rampage, killing 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora. At the same hearing yesterday, prosecutors abandoned their effort to obtain a notebook that Holmes sent to a university psychiatrist before the shooting.

And then this picture we just can't get enough of. The shuttle Endeavour ends its mission to Los Angeles today. On its route, it did a loop over Tucson, Arizona to honor Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her astronaut husband Mark Kelley. Today the shuttle plays to LAX in Los Angeles with a flyover of downtown L.A. and Hollywood of it lands. I wonder if Hollywood will even think that's strange.

O'BRIEN: Must be a movie they're shooting. Apparently, the astronauts said that's my spacecraft. Isn't that great? Nice thing to say. Thanks, John, appreciate it.

Let's get back to some of those tensions that are bubbling now in the Mideast and questions over whether the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was planned or not planned. Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters yesterday this, "It is self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack." That's the first time the White House has characterized this as a terrorist attack. Carney, though, also appears to stand by this comment from Wednesday. Listen.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Based on the information that we had at the time and have to this day, we do not have evidence that it was premeditated.


O'BRIEN: Jamie Rubin is former Assistant Secretary of State. He's currently counselor to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Let's talk about what seems to be contradictory. You hear from Jay Carney, you hear from the White House, you hear from the State Department, it was a terror attack, but not pre-planned. You hear from the Prime Minister of Libya that, in fact, it was pre-planned. Why disconnect on those two fronts?

JAMIE RUBIN, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: I think a lot of the wording is getting a little confused. I think what the administration is trying to communicate is that they don't believe that, say, six months in advance, a group sat down and said on September 11th we're going to attack the American embassy using this method at this place.

But it does appear that the individuals in the group involved had some training, they knew what they were doing, they made some decisions to try to attack the embassy using weaponry, RPGs, rocket-propelled grenades. In that sense, they planned their attack. But it doesn't appear that there was an advanced warning of a particular, you know, threat that on this day this group intended to blow up the embassy.

O'BRIEN: Advanced warning, maybe no, but early on we know that we heard from the administration the sense of demonstration over movie, organic, it just sort of spiraled into. It seems now that that is not the case. And I think it was Senator John McCain who every day comes out and says almost literally the same exact thing which is heavy weaponry is an indication that this thing had more planning than was first given credit for. Let's play what he said yesterday.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I'm stunned that they thought that it was some kind of spontaneous demonstration. It shows the level of their -- abysmal level of their knowledge about fundamental aspects of terrorist attacks and militant operations to say that they didn't believe that it was a terrorist attack to start with and go on every nationwide media outlet and say that.


O'BRIEN: So the reason it matters, of course, is that there's an effort to say that red flags were missed, that they were not prepared for a terror attack against the office in Benghazi which ultimately caused the death of four Americans.

RUBIN: Well, that's right. And I think this is serious questions have been raised were preparations, were they adequate? Were all the intelligence warnings about the region in general, about this part of Libya, adequately addressed? And I think there are going to be -- there is going to be an investigation by the State Department. I suspect others are going to take up the investigative duties and really look into what they knew, and what they did about it.

I think the one thing that we do know, and having worked in the State Department, I think this is a fair comment, when you have an ambassador like Chris Stevens who had been a young man who had worked with the rebels during the time that Benghazi was under siege by Libya, he developed a lot of friendships with the Libyan rebels, who are now the government. And he became, in a sense, Mr. Libya around the State Department. And I think his word about his safety, and the comfort level he had, because of his relationship with the Libyan leaders probably carried a lot of weight in the system and, in retrospect, I think probably carried too much weight. But that's one of the things they'll have to look at. It's a tragedy for a man who did so much for Libya, and did so much for the revolution of -- democratic revolution to be killed in the very country he was so proud to be posted at.

O'BRIEN: There's a new ad that's running in Pakistan apparently at a cost of $70,000. I want to play a little piece of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.

H. CLINTON: Let me state very clearly, and I hope it is obvious, that the United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message.


O'BRIEN: So these are obviously just strung together press conferences that they're trying to give a message. Those who think that the President's been on an apology tour in the Middle East have said the apology tour continues. My question for you, though, is what's the strategy behind that? I mean, does that kind of thing work?

RUBIN: Well, I think for some it doesn't work. Look, there are groups in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, in the Middle East, all over, who are looking for reasons to get a group together to protest and to build up their public support. It's a power game for many people. They will find something else if they don't find this particular video. They'll find something else on the internet or some cartoon now in a French paper.

And I think what the administration is doing is having clear evidence that while we respect people's right to free speech, we have the right to condemn hateful speech. And clearly these kinds of videos, and these kinds of statements are hateful speech that -- that the administration has thought wise to make that clear.

O'BRIEN: Jamie Rubin with us this morning. Nice to have you. Thanks for talking with us. Appreciate it.

We've got to take a break. Still ahead this morning she was on the fast track at a top bank. Says it all slipped away when she became pregnant and went on maternity leave. Now this former VP is suing. She's going to join us next to talk about her case.

And Lindsay Lohan accused of hitting a man outside a hotel driving away. But there's new surveillance video shedding some light on what happened, and it's not what you might think it is. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans minding your business this morning.

Spain may be working behind the scenes for a bailout from the European Union according to a new report in the "Financial Times." that news pushing U.S. stock futures and world markets higher overnight.

They're lining up around the world right now for the iPhone. The company's stock is up more than $700 per share. That's how much trading in free market trading and the company stock is up nearly 70 percent just this year, a large part of that, of course, because of revenue and demand for iPhones.

And good news if you're in the market for a home -- new record lows for mortgage rates, 30-year fixed rate 3.49 percent. The 15-year fixed, a popular refinancing tool, 2.77 percent according to Freddie Mac. And just yesterday we were talking about how credit scores are getting a little bit better and fewer people are underwater on their loans so maybe more people will be able to take advantage of those rates.

O'BRIEN: Would you wait in line for an iPhone?

ROMANS: I once did for a Billy Joel concert. Other than that, nothing.

O'BRIEN: So this morning we're talking about a gender discrimination lawsuit against a global financial giant accused of what some people call mommy tracking. Kelley Volcker, Vice President with Deutsche Bank Securities, and she was fired this month after 14 years with Deutsche Bank. The mother of two says it started after her second maternally leave when she said the big accounts were taken away from her and the company tried to demote her.

Kelley joins us along with her attorney. Nice to have you. Walk us through what happened. This was back in 2010. You already had one child. You were pregnant with your second and you're going to go on maternity leave.

KELLEY VOLCKER, SUING DEUTSCHE BANK FOR GENDER DISCRIMINATION: Right. I went on maternity leave and immediately when I went back I was marginalized. I was there was a campaign to get me to -- walk me into a flexible schedule.

O'BRIEN: Explain to me specifics of marginalized. Did someone say listen, we're going to keep you out of --

VOLCKER: No. They took me off the larger accounts of the firm and wanted to put me into a marketing role.

O'BRIEN: Which is a demotion?

VOLCKER: Which is basically a demotion.

O'BRIEN: Did anybody say anything to you before you went on maternity leave?

VOLCKER: No, nothing at all. Everything was fine. I was successful with all of my accounts. My accounts liked me. I got back from maternity leave and they were taken away. How about a flexible work schedule? What about a four-day work schedule?

O'BRIEN: So, the question for you would be, was there a sense that you weren't pulling your weight? Now you had two kids, you came back into the office, were you leaving at 3:00 in the afternoon or something? VOLCKER: No, not at all. I was a dedicated employee for 14 years. And despite great performance reviews, every single one of them, they never promoted me. And eventually they took my accounts away.

DOUGLAS WIGDOR, ATTORNEY FOR KELLEY VOLCKER: Those are the unfortunate stereotypes that we keep seeing in the workplace. And Deutsche Bank just doesn't get it. I mean, 63 percent of new moms are actually working mothers. This is a real issue, especially in this economy where families need dual incomes. But when you have a company like Deutsche Bank where all of the board of directors and executive committee are all men, this sort of stereotype, that a woman when they come back from maternity leave is not going to work hard and is just going to abandon their job is really what's going on. And you see this with Kelley. And ultimately, she was fired for complaining about it.

O'BRIEN: So let me read the Deutsche Bank statement. "While we take all allegations of discrimination and retaliation very seriously, we will continue to vigorously defend ourselves against these allegations."

That's the statement that they gave ABC News on Wednesday. Is this an issue, Christine, only in investment banking where we know the numbers are way heavily more male and certainly in leadership more male? Or is this an issue across all industries?

ROMANS: In banking you have very few women at the very, very top. And what you hear most from women in banking is that you have to work so hard to prove that you can work as hard as a guy. And you have to really take some of the guy, I would say, stereotypes or guy mannerisms with you as you manage and as you move up the -- up the chain.

But for a lot of women, they don't have, especially in the big corporate suites and in Wall Street, you know, you get to a certain point and they decide, wait, I don't want to play by these rules. And so they tend to separate themselves. Banks don't get rid of them. They get rid of the banks.

O'BRIEN: Because they want more flexibility? You are not saying listen, now that I have my second child I'm less interested in working and being promoted.

VOLCKER: Absolutely not.

O'BRIEN: So you're suing because you say it's discrimination against a woman and you're also suing now because you're claiming you were tire fired in retaliation when you brought your complaint.

VOLCKER: Right. I was not promoted in 14 years. I came back, the same job wasn't there, and I filed a complaint and ultimately I was terminated.

WIGDOR: Under the pretext of the recession. And we keep seeing this, as well, something we call recessionary discrimination. It's companies using the recession as a pretext for discrimination. Saying, "Oh, the economy." And now we get rid of Kelley who is a great performer, rather than her male peers who started after her, who weren't working as hard as her and again because of the stereotype, that Kelley is expendable because her husband might be working, the breadwinner in the house. And there have been comments made to Kelley about that -- why doesn't your husband work harder?

VOLCKER: Oh, when is your husband going to get it together so you can stay home with the kids? Comments like that all the time.

ROMANS: Are there other women, do you see other role models of other women in banking, you think, who do -- are working really hard, are, you know, bringing in the deals, are doing a great job, and are also parents to more than one kid?

VOLCKER: Yes, I do. And it's funny because a lot of them after the story broke, came to me, whether you know, in Deutsche Bank and outside my group, sympathizing with me, the same thing is happening to me. It's really tough. You work really hard, and you're put to the side.

O'BRIEN: Well, it's going to be interesting to watch this case. Obviously you think you have a very good case on these two fronts and we'll see what Deutsche Bank responds to and watch this case. Thank you for talking with us.

VOLCKER: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: We're going to take a short break. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Paris Hilton -- from Deutsche Bank to Paris Hilton, she's taken a lot of heat this morning for some comments she made about gays. Now damage control is under way. It's our "Get Real" this morning. Team heading in. Welcome, guys.

STARTING POINT is back in a moment.


BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT everyone. A quick check of the headlines. August fundraising numbers are out. Everyone's laughing at me for that. Thanks very much.


O'BRIEN: I'm offended as a woman.

BERMAN: I know. I just offended everyone at the table around me. Let's talk about fundraising, shall we? The Obama campaign raised $84.8 million. Team Romney nearly matched that with $83.7 million. But that does not take into account a $20 million loan for the Romney campaign made to itself. As of August 31st the President had $88.8 million in hit war chest, Romney had over $50 million but also has about $15 million in debt because of that loan.

Moving on now, surveillance video released of Lindsay Lohan's alleged hit and run in New York Wednesday. It shows Lohan's Porsche clipping chef Jose Rodriguez. Rodriguez claims he fell to the side and was in a lot of pain, but you can't see it in the video. It doesn't really show him falling at all. So there you go. Those are the headlines.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: You can't see anything in that video.

O'BRIEN: When I discovered it was Lindsay Lohan behind the wheel, suddenly my leg was killing me. No --

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: She does have a lot of trouble controlling her vehicle have to say.

O'BRIEN: Why not get a driver?

CAIN: This isn't the first, is it?

O'BRIEN: No, why don't get a driver.

SOCARIDES: She was driving a Porsche.

JOANNE COLES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE: I think she was driving herself. She has some responsibility.

O'BRIEN: No, no, get a driver.

BERMAN: Be careful when you're driving around hot spots and discos and things.

COLES: She reached that kind of celebrity where anybody is going to just see if they can make anything out of it, right?

O'BRIEN: Right. So she should get a driver. First let's introduce everybody who's joining us. Joanna Coles is with us, just named the new editor in chief of "Cosmo" magazine, one of my very favorites.

Richard Socarides is with us, writer at the, former senior adviser to President Clinton and Will Cain is a columnist at John Berman is with us as well. You've heard him say chick to all the women at the table.

COLES: Action at this point.

O'BRIEN: Exactly. To more than one person, class action. Our "Get Real" this morning in all seriousness. Reality star Paris Hilton and her PR machine trying to do some big damage control.

Caught on tape, Paris that is, saying that gay men are disgusting, saying most of them, quote, "probably have AIDS," according to Radar Online. A New York City cabbie secretly recorded Hilton talking about a cell phone app to find hookups, I forget what it's called.

COLES: Grinder.

O'BRIEN: Listen.



HILTON: Dude, most of them have AIDS. I would be so scared if I was a gay guy.


O'BRIEN: Paris' people say she's only expressing the dangers of unprotected sex. Recorded by a cab driver, really? That's terrible.

COLES: But also it's clear that she is auditioning for a part in the Romney campaign. First of all, she's been caught on tape before, the sex tape.


COLES: Now I think she's watched the Mother Jones tape of Romney. How can I get --

O'BRIEN: But seriously.

SOCARIDES: But seriously this is not very smart, right. Because there's a lot of stereotyping in here that's not true. A, that HIV does not primarily affect the gay community. It affects communities of color and globally it affects homosexuals much more than gay men.

O'BRIEN: Not only is she being idiotic, she's being wrong.

SOCARIDES: Right. And also we can have a debate about whether gay people are more sexual or whether men are more sexual. The stereotype is that men are more sexual and men are only half the gay population.

CAIN: Richard and I have been debating this all morning.

O'BRIEN: Do tell.

SOCARIDES: All morning.

CAIN: Can I tell you, I don't know if it's the contrarian in me but I do think people are so willing to pile on Paris Hilton because we're used to that, because it's easy. She's an easy target. And I think that many of the things she said, Richard is right, are lazy, inaccurate stereotypes, but the discussion we're going to be able to have here.

Richard and I this morning talked about the perception of whether AIDS is more prevalent in the gay community or the straight community. We talked about promiscuity. Are men more promiscuous than women and all of that is worthy of a valid discussion.

If it's based on Paris Hilton's comments, I don't know. She's talking to a gay friend of hers. I don't know how derogatory she is intending to be.

O'BRIEN: Unprotected sex is a bad thing, right? That clearly comes out in some of her comments. COLES: She's talking about a website or mobile app where people connect specifically to have sex and that's it. I don't think there's any foreplay.

CAIN: That's what grinder is.

O'BRIEN: But back to my original point, which is really? Being recorded by your cab driver, honestly?

SOCARIDES: Did you not hear what we were discussing in there?

CAIN: Obviously that's the most inflammatory part, they're disgusting, but she's also talking about these random hookups. I don't know. Maybe I'm looking for excuses for Paris Hilton. I don't know why I would, but I think it's real easy to pile on Paris Hilton.

SOCARIDES: She's a Hollywood socialite. It's, you know, 4:00 in the morning, I think, when this is recorded.

COLES: She sounds --

SOCARIDES: She sounds horrible.

COLES: She sounds like she's --

SOCARIDES: She sounds like she's had a couple.

O'BRIEN: And we're moving on. I just want to say, recorded by your cab driver, really? Why is that sticking with me?

SOCARIDES: This is the best "Get Real" we've had in a long time.

O'BRIEN: It is. You did nothing -- still ahead on STARTING POINT, Ann Romney sticking up for her husband. We're going to tell you two words that she has for the GOP.

Plus wait until you see what "Saturday Night Live" has done skewering Mitt Romney in their new skit that aired last night. Mounting criticism over the NFL's replacement refs, how did they do last night during the Giants/Panthers game?

You're watching STARTING POINT. We'll update you on all of those straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Protests over an American film and a French cartoon mocking Islam's Prophet Muhammad have turned deadly.

Overnight, protesters torched two movie theaters in Peshawar, Pakistan. One man was shot dead this morning, another 25 people were hurt. Tension is building in other hot spots, as well, following Friday prayers.

The U.S. closed diplomatic facilities in Indonesia and in Sudan as a precaution. We're following developments with our team overseas. We're going to bring you the very latest developments as they happen.

Want to first get right to John Berman. He's got an update on the day's top stories. Good morning.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. You know, Bill Clinton now weighing in on the impact of Mitt Romney's 47 percent comments. He sat down with CNN's Fareed Zakaria.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Do you think this is a game-changer for Romney?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it puts a heavier burden on him in the debates to talk about what he meant.


BERMAN: You can see the entire interview with Bill Clinton on "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

A dozen children spent the night in the hospital after their school bus overturned in Tennessee. Twenty seven students and one adult were hurt. Police say the bus flipped over when the driver overcorrected after two tires went off the road. Counselors will be available at the school today.

It was no contest in Charlotte as the Super Bowl champs the New York Giants soundly beat the Carolina Panthers in Thursday night football, 36-7. The outcome never really in doubt at all. Quarterback Eli Manning completed 27 of 35 passes for 288 yards, most of them coming in the first half.

Running back Andre Brown ran for a career high 113 yards and two touchdowns in his very first NFL start. The replacement refs didn't seem to pose any major problems, although many fans still say they need to go.

Also last night, "Saturday Night Live" kicked off his prime-time election specials, weekend update Thursday and of course, they had a few jabs at Mitt Romney. First up, the 47 percent controversy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you have this 47 percent that don't pay taxes and these people are never going to vote for me. And when I talk about these people, who don't pay taxes, I don't mean senior citizens, all right.

And I don't mean members of our armed services and I don't mean southern whites. What I mean is, and real quick, no one is recording this, correct? No? Okay, very important that no one records this.

Okay, good, because I'm about to say who these people are, and I would prefer to not have that on tape. Sorry, sir, is that a camera on the table pointing right at me? Okay, great, all right. Now when I say these people, I mean, black people.


BERMAN: After that, they played up his reputation for being out of touch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, people think I'm fancy, but I like nothing more than to end the day with one of these fine hamburger sandwiches from the good people at McDonald's. Boy, that's disgusting! How do you people eat this garbage?

My goodness, I complain to the chef, but let me guess, no hablas inglais. How do I get this taste out of my mouth? Do you mind? My gosh, that was soda pop. Here comes the sugar blindness.


O'BRIEN: It's going to be a long 47 days or whatever it is until the actual election.

COLES: It's good to get "SNL." Thank goodness they're doing that. We need some humor in this election.

O'BRIEN: We're going to take a short break. Still ahead this morning, Ann Romney says she's not having it when Republicans criticize her husband. We'll tell you what she said in a radio interview with her message to the GOP. That's coming up next.

Plus, he is a megastar standing up for world peace. Forest Whitaker, the star of the upcoming movie "The Butler" is going to join us live to talk about his project and what else he's working on in the world peace front.

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


O'BRIEN: Ann Romney has two words for her husband's conservative critics. "Stop it." It's what she said in a radio interview. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you say to your fellow Republicans who are --

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring. This is hard. And, you know, it's -- it's an important thing that we're doing right now. And it's an important election. And it is time for all Americans to realize how significant this election is.


O'BRIEN: Clearly annoyed and frustrated with some of those critics on the Republican side. They've been blasting, some of them, Mitt Romney this week after those 47 percent comments including Peggy Noonan of "The Wall Street Journal."

Today, she actually has even harsher criticism than the criticism she had yesterday that we were talking about. She writes this: "The Romney campaign has to get turned around. This week I called it incompetent, but only because I was being polite. I really meant 'rolling calamity.'"

Ouch. She just will not let up, and she's really been talking about Jim Baker coming in, sort of the point of her entire article, if he came in to reframe and run the campaign, that that would --

SOCARIDES: Jim Baker to the rescue again.

O'BRIEN: That was her theory, very clearly. Not even theory. Go get him, find him, bring him in and have him save you.

SOCARIDES: What I really liked about what Ann Romney said is there's authenticity there. You know, finally there's some authenticity from the Romney campaign. I mean, this is -- this is a woman speaking, you know, what she's really thinking. I think she deserves a lot of credit. These campaigns are hard. They are frustrating and I think it will serve her well.

COLES: What's interesting about the campaign is someone who comes from a country where the campaigning process is a month, and it's over and done, is actually it's an incredible testing ground. And what you're seeing unfortunately for those of who would like to see two really strong candidates is a candidate who's wrestling with this.

And when she says, "Stop it. This is hard." -- what does she think it's going to be like when he gets to be president? Because that's when it gets hard.

CAIN: These conservative critics, I'm conflicted on what she said. Because, for one, I wish he'd stop making it so easy to criticize. I am constantly confronted with some level of disappointment. But on the flip side, you would think that President Romney leaving candidate Barack Obama a really tough mess if you listen to the media. I mean, he's leaving Barack Obama a mess in the Middle East, an economy not doing so well.

The point is that's kind of a running joke among conservative circles is Romney's every miscue is analyzed and blown up while what's happening in the real world, the world that President Barack Obama is governing over, isn't so great.

BERMAN: But the real world is running for office and the problem is people like you, Will, even though you're very important, is Tommy Thompson running for Senate in Wisconsin, Dee Helen running for senate in Nevada, Scott Brown -- candidates, Republican candidates turning their back to a sense on Mitt Romney and they live in the real world. They're the ones with their feet on the ground getting a sense of public opinion and if more Republican candidates turn their back on Romney, he's got a real problem.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I don't think it's a media creation, everyone is picking on. You have a tape like that, which the candidates themselves then say I have to distance myself --

CAIN: It's odd that it's not a media attention. I think we ought to analyze how much attention we give to every criticism of the campaign versus what's going on in the real world. What they're campaigning to be in charge of.

COLES: We're looking at someone who is saying, "Guess what? I can do this better." Well, unfortunately, he's not running a good campaign. I don't have confidence when you hear him say, "Forty-seven percent of people don't pay taxes."

Am I the only person left in America at this point who does pay taxes? Can we just -- I pay taxes, a lot, actually. I'm tired of feeling like --

SOCARIDES: We didn't see your hand go up.

O'BRIEN: I've got to take a commercial break.

CAIN: No matter how many times you ask I will not release my taxes.

O'BRIEN: All right, we got to take a break. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, he's an Oscar winning actor who famously played a Ugandan dictator. Now Forest Whitaker is taking on the little topic of world peace. We're going to talk about that. He's with us next. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You are watching STARTING POINT. He is an actor best known for his Oscar-winning performances, but Forest Whitaker is also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation.

He's got a big announcement to make about that role today. It's nice to have you. Before we talk about peace, a little issue of world peace, which I know you're tackling, I want to talk about your new movie "The Butler," which looks like it's going to be amazing. Tell us the story of "The Butler."

FOREST WHITAKER, ACTOR: "The Butler," who was in the White House for eight presidencies, based on an article written in the "Washington Post" on Gene Allen, who is a butler that served there. It takes and fictionalizes his life. We watch the civil rights movement and the movement of the country as it goes alongside with the growth in the White House.

O'BRIEN: His own story was so amazing when the "Washington Post" wrote that article about Eugene Allen. It was literally breathtaking. He died though in 2010. WHITAKER: He did get to meet the current president and the President invited him to his inauguration. That was a big deal for him because for him to be invited to an inauguration was an honor.

O'BRIEN: As actor, though, you don't get to sit down with him and say, "Okay, I'm playing you in this movie so walk me through all these things."

WHITAKER: He died recently. His wife died the night before the election and he died a few years after.

O'BRIEN: Right. Let's talk about being the Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO. It's the 10th anniversary of the U.N. International Day of Peace. They're going to ring the peace bell.

As I was reading about all your work on this front, I thought, "Could you tackle anything more challenging than world peace?"

WHITAKER: I'm just trying to be a part of that conversation work with so many people are working in peace building and community building all over the world. To be part of it is important. I think, you know, especially at this time -- you guys were talking about earlier to take a second and think about what's going on, what sort of politics are occurring all over the planet, all over the world. Not just this last incident, but what's been going on for years and years. I think it's important for us to take a step back.

O'BRIEN: The announcement is all about the Peace Earth Foundation, which is really going to focus on these conflicts that are happening around the world. You focus, I know, a lot on young people, which is I guess I assume because that's where you can make change.

WHITAKER: Well, I mean, in these areas of conflict like 60 percent of the people are under 25 years old. It's really important to look at that. I think what we're trying to do is to be a support system, a space where people can go to add resources to a lot of people to be able to connect with each other and work in that sphere of peace building.

SOCARIDES: The truth is, right, that these conflicts that seem so impossible to solve really can be solved when people are in the right mindset and are in goodwill, yes?

WHITAKER: With careful mediation, with people trying to really look at the problems from each other's points of view, you can find solutions.

SOCARIDES: How do you get them to do that?

WHITAKER: They do it all the time. There are intractable situations, so-called intractable situations. You bring in mediators, you start to educate, talk. You try to get those conversations going. I'm not saying that's occurring in all the places that are having conflict right now.

CAIN: I feel like I'm sitting with Charles Jefferson from fast times. I can't decide which one. If you had one part, Forest, that sticks with you your entire career, your entire life, the one you most identify with, which part is it?

WHITAKER: Identify with?

CAIN: Yes, I don't mean is the most similar to me but that you grew closest to.

WHITAKER: This character I played was written for me and I like the character, spiritual balance about life and stuff. I think Bird was really exciting.

O'BRIEN: He's picking them all. It's like children.

COLES: It's so unusual for me to hear a Hollywood actor of your status sort of talking just across the table. I feel like anyone you sat down -- most extraordinary to your voice that makes me feel like you could just talk to people and it would be peaceful. Come to my house and work with my children.

O'BRIEN: Congratulations on all your work on this front. It really is quite remarkable. Happy International Peace Day and thank you for talking with us this morning.

WHITAKER: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: We've got to take a break. STARTING POINT is back in a moment.