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Who's Fooling Who?; Interview with Rudy Giuliani; Money Stamping Campaign

Aired September 26, 2012 - 08:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman. Soledad is off today.

Our STARTING POINT is breaking news in Greece. Police in riot gear firing tear gas at thousands of protesters gather for the largest anti-austerity demonstration in months.

ROMANS: Battleground votes. New polls show the president has the lead in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, but Mitt Romney is not backing down.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a question about what course America's going to take. I represent one that will create more jobs and more take-home pay. The president represents more of the same.


ROMANS: So, what's the plan if he can't capture those swing states?

BERMAN: And Cyndi Lauper a revealing new memoir. She says her iconic hit "Girls Just Want to Have Fun", they almost didn't get made. That would be a tragedy.

Imagine life today?

It is Wednesday, September 26th. STARTING POINT begins right now.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: We are going to begin with breaking news from Greece. New images from Athens where about 50,000 protesters filled the streets in the largest anti-austerity demonstration in months. Police in riot gear firing tear gas on demonstrators. They were throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails, the demonstrators were.

ROMANS: And the protesters are angry over the latest rules of austerity imposed so that Greece can get another critical bailout next month. The protest was organized by the country's two biggest unions who say years of sacrifice imposed by budget cuts have not let to any improvements in the economy. So, it's the biggest demonstration we've seen. Sometime there.

BERMAN: We saw them yesterday in Spain. It obviously still a problem in a lot of countries in Europe.

We are joined by an incredible panel of experts, analysts and just plain good people.

Jim Frederick, the international editor for "TIME" magazine.

Elise Labott, CNN foreign affairs reporter.

Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker."

Glad you guys are all here.

ROMANS: So many things to talk about, including what's happening in Greece and what's happening in the politics and the like. So, we're going to hit first to politics and the battle for the Buckeye State. President Obama, Mitt Romney both campaigning there today.

Take a look at this brand new poll from Quinnipiac University and CBS and the "New York Times."

BERMAN: It shows that in Ohio right now, the president has a 10-point lead over Mitt Romney among likely voters, 53 percent to 45 percent. That number's going to jump off the screen for a lot of people in this country right now. Ohio has 18 electoral votes, which is the seventh highest in the nation and again no Republican has ever won the White House without winning that number.

ROMANS: How many times have we said that?

BERMAN: Say it every time.

ROMANS: Jim Acosta has that stitched into his t-shirts.

Hi, Jim. Traveling with Mitt Romney on the bus from western Ohio.


I think Mitt Romney has also heard that once or twice. So thanks to John Berman for bringing that up again. But, yes, we're rolling up on a Mitt Romney event getting started in a few moments in Westerville, Ohio, that is outside of Columbus. Mitt Romney goes then up to the northern part of the state. He's going to hit the Cleveland area and Toledo later on this evening. And we tried to talk to Mitt Romney about the struggles he's having here in Ohio before this poll came out this morning, which shows that 10-point lead, which is rather extraordinary heading into this critical stretch of the campaign, and when I asked Mitt Romney about this, he said that, well, polls go up, polls go down. He didn't show any concern, if he had any at that point.

But during the course of the interview we talk and foreign affairs, we talk about the president's speech at the United Nations. And then, recently Mitt Romney has been going after the president accusing him of trying, to what he called, fool people about his record. And I brought up the fact that fact checkers have also taken issue with some of his own ads and some of the things he's had to say out on the campaign trail.

Here's how he responded to that.


ROMNEY: We've been absolutely spot-on, and any time there's anything that's been amiss, we correct it or remove it. The president, on the other hand --

ACOSTA: Even the welfare ad.

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Look, it has been shown time and again that the president's effort to take work requirement out of welfare is a calculated move. The same thing he did with regards to food stamps.


ACOSTA: Now, I should point out we did contact the Romney campaign and asked them if they could cite an ad that was removed or corrected because of factual accuracy in that spot and they did not get back to us. We tried to contact three different officials with the Romney campaign and just got no response in the last 12 or so hours that we put that request in.

We should also note that the Obama is firing back at the Romney campaign over that claim that Mitt Romney made in our interview, saying that the president took the work requirement also out of food stamps. They say that is, quote, "Another fallacy".

I should point out we are on the press bus right now getting ready to go into this event I should throw back to you. But this is going to be a busy few days for Mitt Romney. He's going to be in Ohio today, Virginia tomorrow and then he's heading into debate prep, as you know. The first presidential debate next Wednesday, one week from today.

ROMANS: A busy few days for Jim Acosta, too. Jim Acosta in Ohio -- thanks, Jim.

BERMAN: Literally, rolling through Ohio this morning, that was so cool.

We are now joined by Rudy Giuliani, of course, the former mayor of New York City, a former presidential candidate himself and important to note this morning, he is also a supporter of Mitt Romney.

Mr. Mayor, as a supporter of Mitt Romney, I would like to greet you with those polls from the key swing states, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NYC MAYOR: So, this is someone who in 2004 sat, I think, in the CNN studio, about 6:00 in the evening, and the exit polls had John Kerry winning 66 percent, that was the day of the election. And it wasn't just CNN. It was FOX, NBC, ABC, NBC.

I was on NBC with Senator Kennedy discussing with Tom Brokaw the cabinet John Kerry was going to pick. So --


BERMAN: So, Mr. Mayor, the polls are all wrong? Ohio has a 10-point lead?

GIULIANI: The poll's not wrong. But a poll could be a sample of the 2008 election instead of a sample of the 2010 election, and I don't know what the 2012 election's going to be. The pollster doesn't. He's guessing at it.

Is Obama ahead in the key states right now? Yes. Is he ahead by enough so that Romney can't overtake him? You'd have to be a fool to say that he is. There's too much to go. Debates. We got a Mideast that -- who knows what's going on in the Mideast.

It looks to me like the Obama approach to the Mideast is falling apart in front of our eyes. You see it on television every night. I don't know what's that going to do.

BERMAN: Besides the fact you say you don't believe the polls, you do think that President Obama is ahead right in the key state?

GUILIANI: I do. I believe Obama is ahead. If I were the Obama campaign I'd feel a little better than Romney campaign. I feel like things are ahead, we're working but nervous we've got four debates ahead, and we've got a Mideast, that who knows what's going to happen next?

The simple fact is, the Obama approach to the Mideast is not working. Iran now has three times more enriched uranium since the day that President Obama came into office. His whole Iran approach is not working.

Egypt is trying to put Sharia law into the constitution. Three guys walked out of parliament yesterday because they're worried that Egypt's going to become a Sharia state. An American ambassador killed for the first time since Jimmy Carter. We had 30, 40, demonstrations against America.

ROMANS: And pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan?

GIULIANI: That might be the problem.

BERMAN: The problem is bin Laden dead?

GIULIANI: No, no. Here's the problem -- the president killed bin Laden, great, wonderful. We all applauded for him. Nobody applauded for him more than he did, when he tried to do a Hollywood movie. I think he's administration gave out classified material. I give him credit for getting bin Laden.

Here's the problem -- I think he believed, now I got al Qaeda, now we're going to look to Asia. I think he underestimated the Islamic extremist terrorist danger in the Middle East. And I think that's they're being so careful about these ridiculous things like the demonstration in Libya was spontaneous. That's the U.N. ambassador saying that. That's idiotic. That's an idiotic remark.

That was not a spontaneous demonstrations. I know terrorism. I know demonstrations. They don't show up with propelled hand grenades and they don't show up with mortars at spontaneous demonstrations.

ROMANS: Libya has people and militias who are armed to the teeth.

GIULIANI: But it's not a spontaneous demonstration. Those guys don't show up in spontaneous demonstration. They show up when they have a purpose in mind.

Oh, by the way, it just happened to be September 11th. You think maybe something would go off in Susan Rice's head that it was September 11th that this happened?

Why did they put it out? Because he didn't want his narrative in the Middle East contradicted. Which is things are moving in the right direction. Things aren't moving in the right direction. They're moving back in the other direction and he made a lot of the wrong bets.

Get rid of Mubarak, get rid Gadhafi.

BERMAN: You think getting rid of Mubarak was a --

GIULIANI: I probably agree with Hillary Clinton. That Mubarak should have moved out much more carefully with more emphasis on what comes after Mubarak, as opposed to -- as opposed to, we move out an ally of the United States, and we replace it with a guy who would like to have the blind sheikh return to Egypt, the man who wanted to bomb my city, was responsible for the attack in 1993 on the World Trade Center.

You don't think things like that destabilize the Middle East and make people wonder in the Middle East about President Obama's judgment?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, but -- I mean, Governor Romney said that he would pick winners in these so-called Arab revolutions in these elections, on one hand saying that he would support democratic values. On the other hand saying he would basically fund candidates to win that are friendly to the United States.

How is that espousing democratic values? Isn't it a little inconsistence there?

GIULIANI: No, it's not inconsistent at all. First of all, you should have taken a look what was going on in Egypt and realize these were not necessarily democratic values that were being espoused. If I see the Islamic brotherhood, I don't care what kind of face they're putting on themselves right now, I've studied Islamic terrorism and investigated and prosecuted for 35 years. You tell me the Islamic brotherhood have changed their stripes? I'll tell you, you're too naive to the protecting the United States of America.

ROMANS: The Muslim Brotherhood.

GIULIANI: The Muslim Brotherhood, yes. I mean, the reality is, we didn't look behind this enough. We didn't look behind what we were creating.

It doesn't mean it wasn't going to happen, but it should have happened much more gradually. Exactly what Jimmy Carter did in Iran.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Doesn't that estimate how much influence we actually had? I mean, this thing -- this bus was leaving the station in Egypt, right? Mubarak was on his way out.

Like you said, Hillary Clinton and others were trying to stabilize the situation, get a transition. But from my reporting and my understanding is, we didn't have as much influence as you're arguing we do with Hosni Mubarak. We didn't have the ability.

GIULIANI: Because we didn't try, because we cave in.

JIM FREDERICK, MANAGING EDITOR, TIME MAGAZINE: And this is democratically elected government.

GIULIANI: Maybe, maybe. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. I don't know how legitimate --


GIULIANI: I don't know how legitimate the election is.

BERMAN: Let's shift to Iran because President Obama did speak before the United Nations yesterday. He spoke a lot about his policy in the Arab nations, in the Middle East and he also spoke a little bit about Iran.

I want to know, and we talked to Michele Flournoy earlier, an adviser earlier to President Obama, and she laid down what she thinks is the red line for nuclear weapons in Iran. Let's listen to what she said.


MICHELE FLOURNOY, CO-CHAIR, OBAMA CAMPAIGN NATL SEC. ADVISORY CMTE: I think we have laid out a red line. That is, Iran cannot actually get a weapon.

And we've had extensive, intensive talks with the Israelis. There's no light between us on the intelligence picture. No light between us on the policy objective and we've worked very closely in a number of areas on diplomacy.


BERMAN: She said the red line is the weapon.

GUILIANI: Well, that's the gray line. That's not -- what weapon? What kind of weapon? How enriched? At what point?

Is the red line, you know, three months before they get the weapon, but when they have the capability to put the weapon together in two days? I mean, these are enormously technical questions.

I don't expect her to lay out the red line. I'm not criticizing her.

What I expect from my president, whether it's Republican or Democratic president, is sit down with the leader of the country that's most affected by this, probably our greatest ally over the last 30 or 40 years. I don't care if you like Netanyahu or you don't. I don't care if you're a president who can talk to people or can't, as Bob Woodward points out in the book about Obama he has trouble doing.

I would sit down with Netanyahu, have an eye-to-eye conversation with him. This man has to make a critical decision and I would let him know the red line. I would let him know the red line if there is a red line. I'm not sure there is.

BERMAN: So you don't think the president has to make a public statement about a red line, putting you at odds with Mitt Romney?

GIULIANI: Make a statement to Netanyahu. He and Netanyahu have to agree on what the red line is. Shake hands on it. Let me finish.

LABOTT: Do they have to agree? The main thing here is that the United States and Israel disagree over what that red line is. President Obama has told Netanyahu pretty clearly what the red line is.

GIULIANI: No, he -- that's not a red line. That's a -- that's a concept that when they have a weapon. Here. Here's one of the great fears of Iran having nuclear materiel. If Iran that nuclear materiel, Iran gives that nuclear material to terrorist groups they are presently supporting.

You all acknowledge that the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world right now, put that into language. What does that mean? Sponsor of terrorism. It means they're handing armaments to terrorists right now as we speak, at least 25 different groups.

If they have nuclear materiel, how easy for them to give material to terrorist groups, let them explode dirty bombs in New York in Florida, in Texas -- got to finish, and then lie about it?

Ahmadinejad lies about everything else. They're lying about whether they're going to become nuclear. Why wouldn't that become the red line when they become capable of handing nuclear materiel off to terrorist groups? Because the idea of dirty bombs in American and European cities is a very realistic possibility that Iran could do.

LIZZA: Back to John's question. You disagree with Romney on the public -- on Obama saying publicly what the red line is. Why is Romney pushing for that then?

GIULIANI: Well, I'm not sure he's pushing for --


GIULIANI: I think he's pushing for him to have one.


GIULIANI: As far as I'm concerned -- disagree about this. As far as I'm concerned, you can or cannot announce it publicly. What I'm more concerned about is whether do you have it privately? He doesn't have it. And the other thing that president does -- that's not a red line. It's a gray line.

If I were Netanyahu, I wouldn't know what the hell that meant, and second, he hasn't said that he would use military force. The president keeps out two words from his vocabulary, two phrases. I will use military force like Ronald Reagan would have said, direct, clear.

ROMANSIsn't the same as all options are on the table?


LABOTT: All options are on the table. Come on, mayor, it is military force, and yesterday, he said I'll do what I must.

GIULIANI: Here's the difference. When you say all options on the table, you sound like Jimmy Carter and you keep the hostages. When you say, I'm going to bomb you --

ROMANS: The second and third person who's brought up Jimmy Carter 50 days before the election.


GIULIANI: Let me finish the thought.

BERMAN: Go ahead.

GIULIANI: And if you say I'm going to bomb you, you look like Ronald Reagan and you release the hostages.

LIZZA: I think you'll find a lot of quotes with Ronald Reagan saying all options are on the table.


GIULIANI: You can also find a lot of quotes from Ronald Reagan, I will use military power and you will never hear one from Barack Obama nor will you hear the words, Islamic extremist terrorist who happen to be the ones that carried out the attack on our ambassador and killed him.

BERMAN: Mayor, we're going to have --

GIULIANI: Instead, it was a bump in the road. A bump in the road?

ROMANS: Mayor Giuliani, thank you so much, sir.


BERMAN: Thanks for joining us this morning.

ROMANS: All right. Now, the rest of the other top stories. Two American soldiers killed this morning in an attack by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. A third American soldier was injured there. The attack happened in Logar province in Baraki Barak district. That's located just south of Afghanistan's capital of Kabul.

A spokesman for the governor of the province said that the suicide bomber detonated himself during a military operation.

BERMAN: A fraternity at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville is suspended over alcohol enemas. Twelve students cited for underage drinking, another for disorderly conduct. One student was rushed to the ER over the weekend with alcohol poisoning. The hospital saying his blood alcohol level was five times the legal limit. He is now out of the hospital, reportedly back in class.

ROMANS: Amazing pictures coming out of rural Southwestern Illinois of a tornado touchdown. The roof of a farmhouse east of St. Louis has ripped to shreds. The tractor was also overturned by the high winds. A number of funnel clouds were also spotted in the area, but they never reached the ground. There were, thankfully, no reports of any injuries.

BERMAN: So, it turns out the NFL replacement ref who mistakenly calls an interception a touchdown at the end of Monday night's Packers/Seahawks game has only four years of officiating experience and none above the division III college level. That is way different, by the way, than pro football.

There's one thing that blowing this call. A Wisconsin eye doctor is offering a backup officials free Lasik surgery.


DR. CHRISTOPHER SMITH, OFFERING FREE LASIK SURGERY TO REPLACEMENT REFS: The referees, obviously, they had some vision issues. We decided that we could help them with that.


BERMAN: Dr. Smith is also offering to review the rules of football with any replacement ref who takes him up on his offer. That is genius marketing.

ROMANS: Absolutely very clever. His name is Christopher Smith.

All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, Ben from Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream trying to put the freeze on big time campaign cash. Ben Cohen joins us next what he wants you to do with your money to make a point.

BERMAN: Plus, today, we asked you to make an extremely tough call. Parents, take your favorite kid. One father says, it's easy.


BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. This presidential election is expected to be the most expensive in history. One estimate puts the final tab at close to $6 billion with a B. That's when you include spending by Super PACs and other outside groups.

ROMANS: And co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream says money in politics is destroying our democracy. He's launching a grassroots campaign called the "Stamp Stampede," asking people to stamp campaign finance reform slogans on dollar bills, and he's with us this morning.

He's brought all of his stampers and some dollar bills to show us. And first, you know, I'm a money reporter. So, my big concern is we're not supposed to deface the American dollar. How is this legal for you to be putting things on a dollar? Is it? Are you sure?

BEN COHEN, CO-FOUNDER, BEN & JERRY'S ICE CREAM: It's actually legal. We've consulted with a lawyer. And when you read the actual law, it's clear that they've anticipated people writing on or marking dollar bills, because it says that you cannot obliterate the bill. You cannot change the denomination.

ROMANS: Your point is you want people, other people to get a dollar bill back from the grocery store or whatever and be reminded, you think, that money is destroying politics?

COHEN: Well, it's not just that I think money is destroying politics. I mean, 80 percent of the population, Republicans and Democrats alike, think that money is destroying politics.

BERMAN: We have some pictures, some of the stamps up here on the screen. They say corporations are not people. Money is not free speech. Stamp money out of politics. You know --


BERMAN: Exactly.

ROMANS: Is it driving politicians if it's legal to justify this endlessly?


COHEN: Yes. Yes. Here's how they work. It's pretty easy. You know, it's TV. We don't want to just tell them what it says. We want them to see what it says, right?


LIZZA: You're not going to jail for this?


COHEN: Absolutely not going to jail.



LABOTT: Are people really using dollar bills to bribe politicians?


COHEN: Well, sometimes -- sometimes, we get to stamp hundreds.

BERMAN: Are you concerned, though, that it's sending the wrong message to the kids out there eating Cherry Garcia (ph), you know, to go deface their dollar bills?


COHEN: Well, you know, I mean, this is interesting. I mean, this is monetary jujitsu, where using money to get money out of politics. I mean, the reality today is that the only people whose voice can be heard are people who have gobs of money. And by stamping dollar bills, anybody, it's a level playing field. Anybody can make their voice heard just as much as anybody else.

ROMANS: You know, so in the primaries, I was following Super PAC money. It was the first time we've had this sort of humongous amount of money going in -- big ad buys, and I was following the money, the Rick Perry Super PAC money. I mean, huge, gobs amounts of money spent on his behalf but not, you know, in coordination with the campaign, technically.

And, if you looked how much money was spent, we should be having a President Rick Perry.

BERMAN: Yes. He lost pretty badly.

ROMANS: But it didn't work. So, how do we know that all this money is actually buying anything if there's so much money working in cross- purposes? You call it the law of diminishing returns at some point?

FREDERICK: Yes. I'm wondering at long last we are finally reaching the point of diminishing returns when it comes to especially television advertising?

And I mean, I think this is a great use of grassroots communication, but is it possible that there is finally a limit to the public's tolerance and their ability to be impacted and affected and have their opinions swayed by something as simple as a television ad? COHEN: Well, I think that what's more to the point is that the only people whose voice can be heard are those that have gobs of money.

BERMAN: Did you --

COHEN: They are drowning out the voice of everybody else in the country.

BERMAN: Did you give to any campaigns this year?

COHEN: You know, I might have given to some local or state level, but nothing on the federal level.

LABOTT: I just want to follow-up on Jim's point, because it seems as if while these big money is going into Super PACS, kind of these things that you're doing with the Ben & Jerry Foundation and True Majority and some of the things that you're working on, your advocacy programs, are using a different type of currency that's also making an important message.

So, I'm just a little curious as to how you see this working and how you feel that this will get people to use their voice? Because it seems a little gimmicky to me. I don't know.

COHEN: Gimmicking? Well, I mean, how else can the average person make their voice heard? I mean, when you stamp a bill --


COHEN: This is stamped money out of politics.

LIZZA: Your real problem is nobody uses money anymore.


LIZZA: That is a major problem.


BERMAN: Ben Cohen, it's great having you here. Thank you for this.



BERMAN: All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, everyone, as we stamp the money here, this might be an easy question for you to answer, but not one you want to admit. Do you have a favorite child?

ROMANS: My mom told me I was the favorite child.

BERMAN: Of course, you were.


BERMAN: One father says, yes. It's not a hard choice at all, but it is today's "Tough Call" coming up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. This is a tough call. A father starting a heated debate on the web after admitting he has a favorite Child.

ROMANS: Buzz Bishop put up a blog post about how the birth of his son Zachary changed his life. He's the favorite of the two sons, because he can do more things and is more fun. After a lot of uproar, he put up a second post titled "Admit it. You have a favorite kid. I do." Bishop also wrote he doesn't love either of his sons more than the other, he just likes them differently. There's liking them differently and the word "favorite" is pretty much a neutron bomb in parenting.

BERMAN: Ryan Lizza is a father.

LIZZA: I would never pick one out of the other. Get the money from Ben & Jerry for the psychotherapy these kids are going to need, give it to him.

BERMAN: You have different feelings, but it isn't necessarily I like one more than the other.

LIZZA: I like, he wrote this. The weird thing about what he said. They younger one can't do as much, will grow up and do cool things, a weird dad thing. I like the older, he can throw a ball.

ROMANS: He's a radio talk show host. He's paid to talk for long time. Sometimes you say stuff --


LABOTT: For the parents, they certainly like different kids at different times more. When we were younger, I used to say to my brother, my brother is my favorite. But now I am definitely the favorite. My mom tells me this all the time, but I make an effort to be the favorite. I call her a lot more, but I think when they're younger, you can't say that to the kid because not only does it create this dynamic with the parent but between the siblings.

BERMAN: A table of favorite children here, that goes without saying right now. Thanks, guys.

ROMANS: Ahead on STARTING POINT, millions of patients with health insurance, overworked doctors and nurses, a new film trying to capture the current state of our health care system with a portrait of one public ER. The director will join us live. You're watching STARTING POINT.


ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. A look at your top stories. Tens of thousands of demonstrators take to the streets of Athens, Greece, demanding an end to severe budget cuts. Police in riot gear confronts protesters. The demonstrators say they are sick of these three years of austerity measures that allowed the country to stay in the Eurozone and received continued bailouts, but it means a lower standard of living for the average Greek citizen.

BERMAN: The next president of the United States is campaigning in Ohio today. We can say that with confidence. Why? Well, because both President Obama and Mitt Romney are campaigning in Ohio. They're both holding rallies there today. You're looking live at a Romney rally in Westerville, stops in Cleveland and Toledo also and there is good reason for that. Ohio offers 18 electoral votes. Get ready for it. No Republican has ever been elected president without also winning Ohio. Not good news for mitt Romney. A new poll out showing President Obama up by ten points in Ohio. That is a big round number.

ROMANS: The FBI is joined in the search for a missing Northwestern University student. A straight-A pre-med student disappeared over the weekend after attending a party off-campus. Police say they don't have any leads yet.

The Pentagon issued rules how to handle "No Easy Day." That's the unauthorized account of bin Laden's takedown written by one of the Navy SEALs who shot him. According to the "Washington Times," the five guidelines essentially allow Pentagon workers to buy the book, and they do not have to store it away as classified information. But also they are not allowed to speculate or discuss potentially classified and sensitive unclassified information with people who don't have an official need to know. That cleared that up for me.

ROMANS: Ever wish you could make sure there won't be any crying babies on nor next flight? Always my children. Air Asia started advertising a quiet zone starting this February. The first seven rows will be reserved exclusively for passengers ages 12 and up. Does that mean -- does that mean I can leave my kids in the back of the plane?

BERMAN: You've been talking about it for days. Now the replacement referee scandal in the NFL is being tackled in a new song parody.




ROMANS: The latest on the summer hit "Call me Maybe" it's called "Call it Maybe."

BERMAN: I must see Christine and I have a new sympathy for replacement refs. We're here filling in for Soledad.


ROMANS: Take it to management.

BERMAN: We haven't botched the game yet today as badly as they did.

(LAUGHTER) ROMANS: Next up, the future of health care reform could hang in the balance of this year's election. Now a new documentary takes an insider's look what it's like in a public hospital when a patient shows up without insurance. STARTING POINT is back in a moment.


ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. President Obama passed a health care plan, but Mitt Romney vows to appeal it in elected. A new documentary providing insight how public hospitals and insurance companies interact and how that affects patient care.

BOLLING: You have to look at the frustrations of one family member in a waiting room in a hospital in Oakland, California, where most patients don't have insurance.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have so many on the same, that means the same level of --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about growing up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't know the --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. I don't know. I don't.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got them all in triage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He got a bullet from two days ago. And he don't feel good and he's numb.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pass it on to one of the -- make him take a look see what he can do. There's just no way to please everybody.


BERMAN: The movie is called "The Waiting Room." It's director, cinematographer, everything else, Peter Nicks. He is joining us this morning. Peter, a gunshot wound wasn't enough to get the patient to the top of the list. How can that be?

PETER NICKS, DIRECTOR, "THE WAITING ROOM": Ironically, one of the things that presses up against the weight in a waiting room are very serious emergencies. Like gunshot wounds, heart attacks, strokes, things of that nature. This particular guy was shot a couple days earlier and was coming back because his wound is bothering him. But he comes in, against other emergencies that creates the tension in the emergency room, not just life threatening emergency rooms but people flooding the emergency room seeking care, basically.

ROMANS: And public hospitals is where ambulances take people with no insurance. This is how it works in the country. It comes at a time where there's a debate about ongoing health care in this country. Mitt Romney in a "60 Minutes" interview was asked, he basically going to an emergency room is an option for the uninsured. I want to listen to that clip quickly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million American whose don't have it today?

ROMNEY: Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance. People -- if someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to the hospital and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.


SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS: Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million Americans who don't have it today?

ROMNEY: Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance. People -- if someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We -- we pick them up in an ambulance and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.


ROMANS: For those people that you were profiling there in your film, was that their only option, that particular waiting room in that particular hospital and that level of care?

NICKS: For -- for the vast majority of the community, it's -- it's the only place they know where to go. It is -- the safety net system is the last resort for -- for communities, not just in Oakland but all over the country. There are a patchwork of community clinics that you can go to but for the most part, Highland has the infrastructure to the deal with a variety of factors from language issues. There's lots of immigrants who go to the hospitals, they need interpreters.

There communities have relationships that go back generations with the hospital. And so -- so yes it's basically, the only place they can go to get that kind of level of care.

BERMAN: Where does your film fit do you think right now in the greater debate about health care in this country?

NICKS: Well, I think right now we're really questioning what is the role of the safety net moving forward? And you know what we wanted to try to do was shine a light on what is happening on the ground level at safety net hospitals around the country, because as the debate around the health care issue is heated up, the people whose voices have kind of been left out of it are the people on the ground level at our public hospitals not just the patients but the caregivers as well.

ROMANS: When there's a state exchange for health insurance and people are fined for not having health insurance, is the care going to be any different in a public hospital in two years than it is today?

NICKS: Well, we don't know the answer to a lot of those questions and with health reform not being fully implemented until 2014, the role of the public hospitals is in question. So one of the things we want to try to do is get a baseline of what is happening at our public hospitals? What needs to change? This question of, this is care that you can get, if you don't have insurance. This is the de facto care that people will get as sponsored by the government or the states. Is this acceptable?

LIZZA: How did Obamacare affect this? How did they address the problem? Did you document it at all?

NICKS: Well -- well, it hasn't really gotten into effect yet. I think there's speculation at these hospitals how is Obamacare going to affect for instance Highland Hospital? Are they going to get more patients, are they going to get less patients? You know there is a big focus now in customer service, because in theory people will have options under the new law not to have to go to a place like Highland.

So they are actually very focused on customer service. For instance that -- that nurse, that is sort of featured in the -- in the movie is the quintessential sort of, you know, customer service representative.

UF1: That's what I thought was so interesting, reading about the film. Because you -- you kind of think of these public hospitals oh, they're not going to get the same level of care, but these people are very dedicated. Some of them are some of the best trained in the country and they choose to work in these type of, you know, grill environments.

NICKS: And it's a self-selecting group and it actually has one of the highest rates in the country. So that means you get the best medical students in the country are going to places like Highland. Because you have high -- that the types of disease and illness you see there are, are you know, almost like third world country-type disease, because people don't go to the hospital, because they don't want to get a bill. They wait very long. They don't have primary care doctors and so they wait a long time.

And by the time they get to the hospital they are very, very sick. It's a self-selecting group. It's a bit like a MASH unit. Where -- you know they -- they are -- a lot of those nurses are from the community like C.J., who's the queen of the waiting room. She knows a lot of these people. They're her friends, her neighbors.

BERMAN: The film -- the film is "The Waiting Room" it opens in New York City today and nationwide in the coming weeks. Peter Nicks, thanks so much for joining us.

ROMANS: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, Cyndi Lauper. Her iconic anthem "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" almost didn't get made. Why she didn't even want to sing it. She didn't want to even sing it.

BERMAN: It was almost no fun.

ROMANS: History would have been changed forever, next.



You really can't beat that. You could say a Grammy winning icon and pop music legend Cyndi Lauper has really lived the title of her '80s hit song "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" more than 30 million records and she is still at it today.

ROMANS: And Soledad got to sit down with her this week to talk about her new autobiography.


CYNDI LAUPER, SINGER/SONGWRITER: The first show I did as Cyndi Lauper, a solo artist was up in Poughkeepsie. There were 14 people in the club.



O'BRIEN: Really?

LAUPER: But I did the encore and I killed them. And the owner -- the owner came back and he said, listen, you know I was even worried there for a while when you took the ukulele out but you did great, kid. You did great.

O'BRIEN: Talk to me about "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." Because you didn't want to do it at first. You thought the lyrics were actually not great.

LAUPER: Well, honestly it was written by a man for a man. So for a woman to sing it, it's got to change a little.


LAUPER: After everything I'd been through, I kind of didn't want to sing it and Rick said to me, well, listen, just take a minute and think about what it could mean. I saw my mother's face. I saw my grandmother's face. I saw my aunt's face. These are women firsthand that I knew had been disenfranchised. They didn't have a shot at having any sort of a dream.

O'BRIEN: The song became an anthem.


O'BRIEN: You know --


LAUPER: It was fun. When we did the video, all my friends came to the studio. All the hairdressers that I knew from Vidal Sassoon came. Some were even in the video. Everybody helped everybody and it was all of my friends and friends of friends. I was so fortunate and it's a little snapshot of them.

O'BRIEN: You seem very conflicted in this book about your success and sometimes very conflicted about, I think, the sexism. You write a lot about sort of the -- the unfairness, I think.

LAUPER: Well, I don't know. Well, I didn't just write about unfairness. I wrote about the way it was. I didn't write it that I thought it was unfair. I just wrote that that's what it was.

O'BRIEN: You have become and early on in your career, became a big gay icon and very vocal about rights for people with AIDS, with HIV. Why was that?

LAUPER: Well, the HIV thing happened as HIV happened and it robbed us of a lot of talented people. I still have friends living with AIDS and it's not easy. And yes. I want to talk about prevention, because AIDS now, you have to understand, is 100 percent preventable, but really, 100 percent non-curable. It's good to discuss prevention. You could preach abstinence. Or is that the drink? Wait.

O'BRIEN: Abstinence. What would you like people to take from this memoir?

LAUPER: That if you're open, life will teach you stuff. That sometimes if you don't get it right the first time, it comes back again until you get it right, if you notice. And -- that you should share your story.


BERMAN: It's so cool. The "End Point" is next.


BERMAN: It is time for our "End Point" now. Jim?

FREDERICK: Well, I think for the rest of the week the big news is going to be the U.N. General Assembly which for foreign policy people, this is the, you know, nerds Super Bowl of foreign policy. But there's a lot of things that are happening. All eyes are going to be on Syria; you have leaders from Iran, Israel, Libya, Tunisia. It's going to be a big week, and, you know, it sets the tone for foreign policy worldwide for the rest of the year.

BERMAN: We will be watching, no doubt.

ROMANS: All right, Elise Labott and Ryan Lizza, thank you two for joining us today.

LIZZA: Thanks for having us.

ROMANS: We'll see you guys again very soon.

Tomorrow on STARTING POINT, race driver Danica Patrick -- BERMAN: Very cool.

ROMANS: That will be awesome.

BERMAN: CNN NEWSROOM with Carol Costello begins right now. Hey Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hi John, thanks Christine.