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Presidential Candidates Prepare for First Debate; Police Investigate Tip on Location of Jimmy Hoffa's Body; Todd Akin Running for U.S. Senate; Bomb Scare At New York's JFK Airport; "Sons Of Anarchy" Actor's Bizarre Final Moments; Florida Election Officials Under Fire; Sledgehammer Robbery; Pizza Topped With Vodka!; Drawing The "Red Line"; Bounty Scandal Rocks Pop Warner Team; Your Health, Your Vote

Aired September 28, 2012 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Morning. Welcome, everybody. Our "starting point" this morning, the return of the refs. The official zebras take the field. And the end of the game was just like that disastrous Monday moment that caused an uproar nationwide. Did the pros make the right call? We'll talk about that this morning.

Demanding a "red line" on Iran. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, urges the international community to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. When President Obama calls him today, what will he say?

And one of America's most enduring mysteries could be closer to being solved? Police follow a new tip and start digging this morning. Will they find the body of Jimmy Hoffa?

It's Friday, September 28th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our "starting point" this morning is a hero's welcome for the real NFL referees. Fans in Baltimore gave them a standing ovation ahead of last night's Ravens/Browns game. The replacements gone just one day after the league and the referees union agreed on a new eight-year contract.

Nischelle Turner is live in Los Angeles. They loved them at least at the very beginning. How did it go?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Four minutes they loved them for, Soledad. You know, it didn't take long for the boos to come out. It wasn't because of bad calls or calls that fans thought were wrong. It was because, you know, when you have the home team and you make a call against the home team, fans don't tend to like that.

The refs, the real regular refs, did get that standing ovation. Here's one of the calls in the third quarter about seven minutes in, a helmet-to-helmet hit call against the Ravens. They really heard the boos then.

I was kind of taking notes while watching the game last night. One of the things I wrote down, it's kind of hard to look at the refs when you're watching on television. But that really is a good thing, because one of the benchmarks to see if they did do a good job was if you don't notice that they're there. And you really didn't notice that was there. There was a better flow of the game last night. So they seem to have done a pretty good job for the first time in four weeks.

O'BRIEN: I completely agree with your assessment. If you're not talking about how the refs did, probably it was all good. Nischelle Turner for us, thank you for the update.

One labor dispute is settled, another one is dragging on. Formal labor talks resume today between NHL owners and players. It's been more than two weeks since the two sides talked, too late to save the preseason. The league has canceled the remainder of its exhibition games. The regular season in jeopardy, too, if they can't figure out how to split $3.3 billion in revenues.

John Berman, it's always about the money.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Always about the money. Hope you're feeling better.

O'BRIEN: Thank you, I am.

BERMAN: Hope you're not contagious.

O'BRIEN: Less than I was when I was here on Tuesday. I appreciate it.

BERMAN: Let's give you some news right now. The Obama administration has concluded that terrorists clearly planned the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Leon Panetta says there are still many unanswered questions.


LEON PANETTA, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: As to who was involved, were specific groups involved, I think the investigation that is ongoing hopefully will determine that.


BERMAN: Meanwhile the State Department says it is removing staff from the embassy in Tripoli due to security concerns.

The man behind "The Innocence of Muslims", that film that sparked outrage in the Muslim world, is in jail this morning in Los Angeles. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is being held on alleged parole violations. Court records show he used at least 17 fake names, including one he used while making the film. In addition, an actress in that movie is suing Nakoula for copyright violation.

President Obama is expected to pick up a phone and place a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today. This will be the first time the two leaders have spoken since the September 11th attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. Netanyahu has been pressuring the President to handle the nuclear threat from Iran by drawing a "red line". Now the President so far has not obliged, so Israeli Prime Minister drew his own red line yesterday with the entire world watching.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Where should a red line be drawn? A red line should be drawn right here, before, before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.


BERMAN: Netanyahu warned it would be too late to stop Iran from making a nuclear bomb if something isn't done before next summer.

Police are trying to figure out why a gunman went on a deadly rampage inside a Minneapolis sign company, the death toll rising this morning. The shooting killing four people before turning the gun on himself. It happened around 4:30 yesterday afternoon at the Accent Signage Systems building on the north side of Minneapolis. The shooter has not been identified.

The band at Texas Southern University has been suspended as the school investigates possible hazing. The university taking action after a student who isn't in the band reported excessive paddling involving members of the trumpet section. TSU police are interviewing the band's director, staff, and members narrowed down just exactly what happened. No word on how many band members may be involved.

And thank goodness, another "SNL" election special Thursday last night. It wasn't -- it was President Obama stumping in Ohio, and talking jobs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who here has a job? OK. There we go. There we go. What do you do sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a manager at Burger King.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go, having it your way. And where were you four years ago? Probably working the counter, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was a vice president for Bank of America.



BERMAN: There you go.

O'BRIEN: He does such a good job.

BERMAN: Such a good job. O'BRIEN: It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks. All right, thanks, John. Appreciate it.

President Obama, the real President Obama, is going to be campaigning in D.C. today. And a new memo that's been obtained by CNN shows that the Romney campaign is apparently trying to lower expectations for the presidential debate. The first debate, of course is on Wednesday. And in that memo Romney adviser Beth Myers tells campaign surrogates there are several reasons that she believes the President will be likely to win the first debate, including this reason. Here's a quote: "This will be the eighth one-on-one presidential debate of his political career. For Mitt Romney, it will be his first."

Let's get right to Congressman Tim Murphy, Republican from Pennsylvania. He's a Romney campaign surrogate. Nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us, appreciate it.

REP. TIM MURPHY, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: Good morning. Good to be with you.

O'BRIEN: Thank you. I'm always very concerned on both sides in the campaign when they start saying really nice things about each other. Everybody's been complimenting the other person's ability to do debates and highlighting the experience and the intrinsic ability they have. All of that, to me, goes to what this panel is, this memo is saying, excuse me. Do you think that's true that Mitt Romney comes into this as the underdog?

MURPHY: Well, I think that whether the person -- if it's a personality contest, I hope we can get beyond that and start talking about the policies. The policies are ones where I hope that Governor Romney is able to point out the things that President Obama has said that, if the economy doesn't get better, if jobs don't get better, he doesn't deserve a second term.

And we still have those issues in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where, although Ohio has improved some of its unemployment, we still have concerns about manufacturing, about steel, about health care issues, about energy, which are grave concerns in both of those states. And they have to be addressed by both candidates.

O'BRIEN: Right. And this memo by Beth Myers, senior adviser, highlights some of that which you just said. But she says things like, "he's a universally acclaimed public speaker, he has substantial debate experience, he's a uniquely gifted speaker," all speaking about President Obama.

The memo goes on to say that he's been in eight presidential debates compared to -- which I guess would be five with Hillary Clinton and three with John McCain. But this of course would be the very first debate for -- for Governor Romney. The cynic in me says this memo is really all about lowering expectations, because if you can lower expectations, whoever beats a low expectation will be the -- seemingly the winner. Is that true?

MURPHY: Well, you know, we have televised debates. You have a couple levels of that. You have people who are going to talk about how someone looked, how their makeup looked. Remember with Nixon, it was about how he sweated. With George Bush, it was about looking at his watch. It's about someone's eye contact with the camera.

But what this really still has to come down to is reminding voters what we're facing. And if we continue to import oil, and fund OPEC and send our soldiers to defend OPEC oil fields and lose our blood and treasure there, that's a concern. If we talk about the problems with China and the manipulating their currency and that affecting our manufacturing, that's a concern. It's about the cost of health care rising, about government's role in health care, those are concerns.

And whoever looks nice in these things or talks nice doesn't matter so much as what the substance and the takeaway is, because the next morning people are still going to be concerned around their kitchen table, what affects American families. Are their kids going to have a future? Do they have jobs? Is their economy growing --

O'BRIEN: And I get that. But also, as you know, the whole point of televised debate, there is a measure of how did you look? How did you seem? Did you seem presidential? Did you seem aggressive? Did you seem like the underdog? Did you -- did you flub? Did you stutter? All those things, too, in addition to the specifics of policy and the actual facts that will be discussed, are also important, right?

MURPHY: Well, Soledad, I think it means a lot to people on television. I worked in television for many years, too, and certainly that is the chatter that many times people want to bring up to the public. But it still comes down to this point of what did someone say, not just how did they look. This isn't election for the prom king. This is an election for President of the United States --

O'BRIEN: Right, no, and I would agree with you on that, and that's not what I'm saying so I'll stop you there if I can. I agree with you on that. I'm not saying how you look. I guess you would say how you can command and navigate a debate is -- might be equally as important to the specifics of what you're saying, which is not quite how you look.

MURPHY: Well, but it has to do with look. When President Obama was elected, he got elected on a blank slate, or "see in me what you want to see in me". Then what happened was, what he saw was tax increases and growth of government, joblessness remaining high for 43 months, are big concerns. That is what people want to think about.

And, quite frankly, I think that if all the media will talk about in these presidential debates is how someone looked and did they have their shoulders high, et cetera, that's a glamour contest. When I talk to families they want to know what does this mean for our kids? What does this mean for us and jobs? And that's going to be the big takeaway. The substance later on, not just how someone appeared presidential, but are their policies what America needs? And that's going to be the key takeaway from this.

O'BRIEN: And, as you well know, after these debates the media goes through and assesses not just how that person was able to navigate the debate, but also the content of their composure and what they said and does a lot of fact checking as well. I think it's a little unfair as to spin it that the media analyzes only the glamour contest and not the substance. I think that's a little unfair.

I want to read to you something --

MURPHY: That's what you asked of me. So I responded.

O'BRIEN: No, I hear you. Peggy Noonan, "Wall Street Journal" op-ed: "People think Mr. Romney's rich doesn't understand regular people's lives. They're not sure he can turn things around. He has to prove he's a pair of safe hands."

So without going into the, the talking points, why is he -- is that going to be a challenge for Mitt Romney to prove he's a pair of safe hands? How does he do that?

MURPHY: Well, Mitt Romney, I think, by talking about his job as a family and where Paul Ryan is, caring about America and also with his family, are important connections between them and the American people. I think with regard to connecting with creating jobs for families, and looking at those things, that that's where it really comes down to, look rat mothers and fathers and grandparents in the eye and say there is a future here for you. That will be a comparison between the policies of President Obama and Governor Romney on this.

O'BRIEN: I think you're right on that strategy. Representative Tim Murphy, Republican from the state of Pennsylvania. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us this morning.

MURPHY: Great to see you, too. Have a great day.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, will a new tip lead to finding Jimmy Hoffa's body today? Police are about to start digging. One man who studied the case for 37 years and has talked to the tipster says he's doubtful. He'll tell us why coming up next.

And armed thieves storm a jewelry store. Take a look at these pictures. All demand that the customers get on the ground. The entire thing caught on tape. We'll tell you what happened coming up.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. For 37 years it's been a question without an answer: "Whatever happened to Jimmy Hoffa?"

In just a few hours, police are going to begin drilling under the driveway of a home in Roseville, Michigan. It's where a tipster claims he saw a body being buried right around the time that Jimmy Hoffa disappeared back in 1975.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is live for us in Roseville, Michigan this morning. What can you tell us about the tipster and the digging, Susan? Good morning. SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. Well, doesn't everyone love a mystery? And certainly police would like to solve it as much as anyone else would. In particular, the chief says, for the Hoffa family, and for the Teamsters.

Here's what we can tell you about the tipster. He's someone who came forward after all this time because he said he believes that he saw what could have been a body buried beneath the driveway that you can see over my shoulder. Is it Jimmy Hoffa? Who knows? Is it really someone buried? They don't know. But they have to try to check this out.

Now, there's a heavy dose of skepticism among a lot of retired FBI agents who directly worked on this case saying why in the world would the mob have buried someone in the middle of this nice neighborhood? Why would they have done that? They believe that whoever got rid of Hoffa incinerated his body, literally, years and years ago.

But there is a quick mob connection here. A bookie for Detroit mobster John Giacalone did used to live in this house years ago, so maybe they'll follow through with this lead. In 2006, I was 40 miles away from here when the FBI followed up another what they called credible lead and dug up a horse farm, ultimately finding nothing. Perhaps things will be different this time, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Perhaps they will, or perhaps not. Susan Candiotti for us this morning.

Let's go right to Dan Moldea, the author of "The Hoffa Wars." He's been following the story since Jimmy Hoffa disappeared. He talked with this new tipster recently. Susan Candiotti just was showing us pictures of a horse farm being dug up, same reason. How legitimate do you think this tipster is? Do you think there is a body under the driveway of this home?

DAN MOLDEA, AUTHOR, "THE HOFFA WARS": Well, I think that horse farm, I continue to believe that was a very legitimate tip and the FBI continues to believe that that information was one of the best leads they've ever gotten. That -- that serge was cut short. With regard to this 2012 informant, he called me on March 30th. He told me a story. I've heard this dozens of times over the past 37 years. He's very specifically told me that it was Jimmy Hoffa who he believed was in -- in this grave.

He -- I was skeptical because of the fact that the cast of characters didn't match up. For many of the reasons that Susan described in her piece I agree with, that this is a very open area. This is a corner house with no fence. I mean, whatever happened was in full view of the neighbors, and any cars passing by. So I suggested that he go to the FBI. The FBI was skeptical. He called me back and complained about this. I suggested he go to the Rosemont Police Department, which he did. Chief James Berlin has been doing a very professional job of investigating this.

O'BRIEN: And now they're digging up the driveway. So I guess in some ways someone believed that he was credible. There are some things about this tipster, I know, even though I know you've expressed your doubt about whether the body is actually under that driveway, but there are some things about this tipster that you say at least make him a credible figure. What are they?

MOLDEA: Well, he was a gambler who had a connection with a bookmaker who, as Susan said in her report, was connected to Tony Giacalone. Tony Giacalone was a major mafia figure in Detroit who died in 2001. But in 1975, he was one of the two people that Jimmy Hoffa was supposed to meet at the time he disappeared, so that's what intrigued us about all of this. And the police viewed him as credible enough to do what they're doing now.

O'BRIEN: Why is he coming forward now? I mean it seems all this time has gone by. You seem very doubtful that it's actually Jimmy Hoffa's body under that driveway. Explain why you think he's coming now.

MOLDEA: We're wondering -- they have the ground radar equipment and they have detected something there. It could be a dead body, if not Hoffa then somebody else. Or it could be the root of a tree. Who knows? They're drilling holes into the concrete. They're drilling holes into the concrete. They're going to try to find trace evidence. They're giving to the archaeologists and forensics people at Michigan State University. And if they find that tissue, they're going to dig up the entire concrete and dig the hole to try to find everything they can find.

O'BRIEN: Before I let you go, what do you think happened to Jimmy Hoffa?

MOLDEA: Three-act drama. Different characters in each act. Act One, Hoffa goes to the Red Fox. He's picked up. He's taken in act two to a private residence. Act Two, he's dropped into a 55-gallon drum. He's murdered at his private residence. Act Three, he's dropped into a 55 gallon drum, he's shipped to an unknown destination where he's incinerated, where he's crushed.

O'BRIEN: Wow, so you think we will never find the body.

MOLDEA: And we know who did it. It's just we need the body. Please, let's get the body. Get people like me and the FBI off the hook after 37 years.

O'BRIEN: You just described that I don't know that's ever going to happen. Dan Moldea, investigative reporter and the author of "The Hoffa Wars." Thanks for talking with us this morning. We're going to watch very closely to see what happens under that driveway.

There's a family, John, living in that house. Can you imagine?

BERMAN: I can't imagine if I drove over that driveway for 30 years?

O'BRIEN: All right. Still ahead --

MOLDEA: Was that OK?

O'BRIEN: Perfect. Thank you, sir. Still ahead this morning, Congressman Todd Akin, infamous for his "legitimate rape" comment, may have done it again. We'll tell you what he's saying about his opponent, Senator Claire McCaskill, and her debate tactics. It's our get real up next.

Our STARTING POINT team heading into this morning. Abby Huntsman is back and Richard Socarides. We're back in just a moment.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans, "minding your business" this morning. U.S. stock futures are down, still have some concerns over Europe's debt crisis this morning. Today marks the end of the third quarter, and guess what? You don't have to be afraid of your 401(k) statement, at least this time. The S&P 500 is up about 6 percent over the past three months.

President Obama is now technically a net job creator. After government economists revised the data for 2011 it appears 125,000 net new jobs have been created since President Obama took office. About 4.3 million jobs, of course, were lost in the first year of the President's term. The new data show about 4.4 million jobs have been added back since then.

Mortgage rates hit record lows again -- 30-year fixed rate mortgages fell to 3.4 percent, 15-year fixed, that's a popular refinancing tool, 2.73 percent according to Freddie Mac. Refinance if you're not underwater. Refinance.

O'BRIEN: Friends are going to refinance. They're doing fine, they're going to refinance.

ROMANS: Even over the past year. Last year I was saying record low mortgage rates, 4 percent for a 30-year fixed.

O'BRIEN: Christine, thank you.

Our team this morning, Jose Baez is with us, attorney, author of "Presumed Guilty: Casey Anthony, The Inside Story." He was the attorney on that case. Abby Huntsman, host of "HuffPost Live", the daughter of Governor Jon Huntsman, and Richard Socarides, former special adviser in the Clinton White House. Nice to have you all with us. I feel like long time no see. Thank you.

Our "Get Real" this morning is all about Congressman Todd Akin. Sometimes he's our favorite person to talk about. Open mouth, insert foot for him, I think, again. Akin was telling the "Kansas City Star" that the incumbent Claire McCaskill, his Democratic opponent, was much more ladylike back in 2006, in the debates back then. This time around he said she's much more aggressive, not as ladylike. In their first debate last week McCaskill was like a "wildcat," that's his word. He believes it's because she feels threatened. Missouri congressman, of course, is infamous for those legitimate rape comments last month. Sometimes you feel like, just stay away from certain topics. ABBY HUNTSMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Women?


O'BRIEN: Right. The whole girl and women thing.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He's got a 50 percent problem of his own.

O'BRIEN: Which doesn't hurt him in the debate.

SOCARIDES: He can't talk about half the population.

O'BRIEN: He's polling well.

BERMAN: There's something very interesting happening in that race which is a lot of the Republicans who sort of abandoned him are coming back into the fold. He's being endorsed by sitting senators. The Republican Senate Committee isn't endorsing him but saying if we had to choose, we'd choose Todd Akin.

HUNTSMAN: The problem with that is where the party is now. They're going for ideology over character. As a moderate Republican, it's frustrating to see that happen.

O'BRIEN: You know, it's interesting --

ROMANS: This is an old-fashioned thing to say, but I think it might also really appeal to people who are old-fashioned Republicans in Missouri who are saying we think this guy is being unfairly attacked by the MSM, main-stream media, and so what if he calls somebody ladylike? Gentlemen should act like gentlemen, ladies should act like ladies.

O'BRIEN: I think there's no horrible negative in saying someone is ladylike. The issue for me is anyone who comes out swinging in a debate is clearly not ladylike.

SOCARIDES: I think in that context, and given what he said before, that it really is very damaging. And I think you're right, John is right, that people were starting to come back to him, but I think this is going to really hurt him. And I think that you will -- I think the three of you have handled this in a very ladylike manner.


O'BRIEN: That's so nice. No one ever says that about me. I have literally never had anyone say --

SOCARIDES: You're very ladylike. How does that feel?

O'BRIEN: That bothers me. I don't want to be ladylike.

BERMAN: I think you're a wildcat.

O'BRIEN: The wildcat thing I kind of like. HUNTSMAN: Very ladylike.

ROMANS: Well-behaved women rarely make history.

O'BRIEN: I completely agree with you, Christine. It's not offensive. It's just like --

SOCARIDES: In the context of, he's running against a sitting U.S. Senator who is a very dynamic, very powerful, very policy-oriented, incredibly smart woman, and to reduce her --

O'BRIEN: It's not about her. It's about the voters, and the voters, if they like ladylike or not, that's kind of the $ $64,000 question.

SOCARIDES: I'm betting no.

O'BRIEN: I'm not betting with you anymore. You always win.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding a red line on Iran before they get a nuclear weapon. But to some degree he seems like he's walking back the timeline of that line. We'll talk about that this morning.

And then some video of armed robbers who storm a jewelry store right before it closes. They smash the cases with sledge hammers, all caught on camera. We're going to tell you what happened straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We begin with John Berman who has a look at the day's top stories. Hi.

BERMAN: Hi, thanks, Soledad. Things are back to normal this morning at the busy JFK Airport here in New York City after a bomb scare, normal as they ever get at JFK.

Terminal 4 was briefly evacuated yesterday afternoon. Customs agents found what appeared to be a grenade-like item inside an incoming passenger's luggage. He apparently told the police the item was inert. It turned out to be a paperweight.

A real life Hollywood murder mystery, police are trying to piece together the bizarre final moments of actor Johnny Lewis' life. Investigators say the "Sons of Anarchy" star beat and strangled his 81-year-old landlady before falling from the three-story home to his death. Investigators say drugs may have been involved but as of now they don't have any proof.


COMMANDER ANDREW SMITH, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: There are several new drugs that are coming out after bath salts started to get outlawed. New drugs come out all the time and young people try new drugs all the time. That's of course one of the things our detectives are going to look into, whether he was using that or anything else. We really don't know at this time. We won't know until the coroner is able to come through.


BERMAN: The "Sons of Anarchy" creator, Kirk Sutter, called Lewis' death a tragic end for an extremely talented guy who unfortunately had lost his way.

Voter protection groups are accusing Florida election officials of reneging on an agreement to ease up on the purge of noncitizens from state voter rolls. Florida's Department of State sending a new list of 198 names to election supervisors yesterday, asking for them to be removed from the rolls. Right now, five voter protection groups are suing Florida's Secretary of State seeking an injunction against the purge program.

For more than a year, CNN has been investigating the impact of tough new voter laws in the 2012 election. You can see Joe John's documentary, "Voters in America, Who Counts," Sunday, October 14th, at 8:00 p.m. Watch it. It is a good one.

Sledge hammer smash and grab: the FBI has released dramatic video of the suspects who robbed a Saks Fifth Avenue store last week in Boca Raton, Florida. They used sledge hammers, sledge hammers to pull it off. The men ran inside the store about an hour before closing time, smashed into the display case and made off with the jewelry. One customer hid inside a locked closet and called 911. There is now a $5,000 reward for information about the suspects.

This sounds like quite a pizza place. A pizza for adults only -- why? Because the toppings are infused with booze. Salvatore's, a chain of pizza shops in Boston, is serving up the Vignolla Cherry Pizza. It's topped with cherries soaked in raspberry vodka.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We jazz the pizzas up. Somebody said, "Let's put booze on them." I'm like, that would be kind of cool.


BERMAN: Feel like I've heard that before. Let's put booze on them.

O'BRIEN: In college.

BERMAN: The restaurant will card anyone who orders it -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: But -- OK, I'm not going to say I know a lot about booze, but the minute you put that pizza in the oven don't you burn off all the alcohol?

BERMAN: We'll have to try.

O'BRIEN: I know, clearly, John.

BERMAN: It's for late night shows only. Anderson and Piers will get it.

O'BRIEN: Thanks, John, for the update.

So today, President Obama is going to be making a very important phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It follows a week of heavy criticism against the President for not meeting with the Prime Minister in person although he made several TV appearances and campaign stops, the President that is.

On Thursday, the Israeli prime minister met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for more than an hour, which concluded an in-depth discussion -- included, I should say, in-depth discussion on Iran.

That's a quote from their meeting. That meeting followed Netanyahu's blistering speech at the United Nations General Assembly, made it very clear Israel would demand a "red line" to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, literally drawing that line in front of the audience. Here's how it went.


NETANYAHU: Where should a red line be drawn? A red line should be drawn right here. Before, before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.


O'BRIEN: Mark Regev is the spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. It's nice to have you with us this morning. We appreciate your time.


O'BRIEN: Earlier this week, we were talking about the hostility that seemed to be there between the Prime Minister and the President. Now we end the week with a speech from Benjamin Netanyahu which uses the words "appreciation" and "common goal".

I'm going to play a little chunk of that speech and then I'll ask you a question on the other side.


NETANYAHU: I very much appreciate the President's position, as does everyone in my country. We share the goal of stopping Iran's nuclear weapons program. This goal unites the people of Israel; it unites Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike, and it is shared by important leaders throughout the world.


O'BRIEN: Why are we seeing a change in tone from Monday to Friday?

REGEV: I think the media's responsible for the tone. We would never have used a word like "hostile". I mean, it's just not true. We've got an ongoing dialogue and ultimately the American position has been consistent: the United States says it will act to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon. And that means if we're going to prevent them, you're going to do something beforehand.

And so our position and the United States' position are almost identical. And we have to continue talking to see what we can do to prevent the Iranians from achieving a nuclear bomb.

O'BRIEN: The term "hostile", as some media reports have put it, really comes from some of these unnamed Israeli officials. So I'm not sure it's a media creation so much as interpreting what they're being told by top-level Israeli officials, from "The Times of Israel". I'm going to read you a little bit.

"President Clinton," they write, "made us feel like --" This is a quote, rather, from the top Israeli official. "Made us feel -- President Clinton made us feel like he had our back when we made concessions that were greater than anything an Israeli government had ever offered. We felt that he'd be there if things went bad. Would he have been there? I don't know, but it felt that way. It put us in a different frame of mind. President Obama doesn't give us the same sense that he'd be there."

That may not be hostile, but it certainly is doubting and not very happy about the relationship between the Prime Minister and the President.

REGEV: I don't believe that's an official view of what's going on between Jerusalem and Washington today. I think there's a common understanding that the Iranian regime simply cannot be allowed to achieve a nuclear weapon.

Let's look at the facts. This is a regime that brutally oppresses its own people. We saw that with student demonstrations not long ago. This is a regime that today is on the ground in Syria helping the Syrian government massacre the Syrian people in a very tangible, concrete manner.

This is a regime that has been responsible for terrorist attacks in Asia, in Africa, in Europe, and even here in the United States. Now, if Iran gets a nuclear weapon that changes the world. That means the world's most dangerous regime links up with the world's most dangerous weapons. We all have an interest in that not happening.

O'BRIEN: That's the common goal part of it. So are you saying the Prime Minister never felt like he'd been snubbed?

REGEV: Correct. That's not true. We understood, we came here to New York -- because of the Jewish holidays we only arrived yesterday. The President was here only at the beginning of the week. He'll be speaking, as you said, on the phone today. We've got a good dialogue. We will continue to discuss this issue and the most important thing is to stop Iranian nuclear enrichment.

O'BRIEN: So let's talk about that red line, then, right. He sees it, as we saw when he did the demonstration, he sees it before the end of the second phase, when the purity enrichment at 20 percent purity. He says at that point there would be a few months to build a bomb and that would be the red line. The White House has said their red line is when the decision is made to build a nuclear weapon. How do those red lines match up?

REGEV: Look, we see it this way. Enriched uranium is the dynamite of the explosive, and the minute they have the dynamite, and the fuse, we don't want to wait for them just to put them together and have a bomb. We want them to prevent them from getting there. That means you've got to stop the enrichment.

Now, Iran needs no enriched uranium. They don't have a single functioning reactor for electric power or something like that. It's only for a bomb and so what we're saying is stop the enrichment. That will give us time, breathing space for diplomacy to kick in and then we can hopefully deescalate this crisis.

But the most important thing is to stop enrichment. What's the problem? The Iranians want to keep talking. They're happy to keep talking - why? Because while they're talking, the centrifuges keep spinning.

O'BRIEN: The timeline has changed though. We hear a different timeline that's being proposed if you read into the speech. The timeline the words are, you know, by next spring, at most by next summer. At the current enrichment rates is what he talks about which pushes it past the presidential election, which many people thought was sort of a looming deadline.

REGEV: Look, we've been talking about this for more than 15 years. Prime Minister Netanyahu's been talking about the Iranian nuclear problem when he was in office, when he was out of office, when it was popular to talk about it, when it wasn't popular to talk about it.

O'BRIEN: So you're saying the deadline has never changed?

REGEV: No. We think there's a good chance that by this time next year, they'll have enough enriched uranium for a bomb. The important thing is to act now so they don't get there.

O'BRIEN: All right, thank you for talking with us this morning.

REGEV: My pleasure.

O'BRIEN: Mark Regev is spokesperson for Prime Minister Netanyahu. It's always great to have you with us.

All right, we got to take a short break. Still ahead, coaches paying players to hurt their opponents. That's the whole bounty system. We're not talking about the NFL and a bounty scandal; we're talking about Pop Warner football. We're talking about 10-year-olds and 11- year-olds. Really, this is ridiculous.

That's back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Another football bounty scandal. It's not the NFL though; it's among 10-year-olds and 11-year-olds who are playing Pop Warner Football.

Two coaches with the Tustin Red Cobras of Tustin, California are now suspended, suspected of offering the kids 20 bucks apiece for each crushing hit.

Here's a reporter from the "Orange County Register", who broke this story and also the head coach who stands accused. Listen.


FRANK MICKADEIT, "ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER": All in all, we now have six parents, and players saying that this happened six out of the team of about 22 confirming that this happened. So, there's little doubt -- there's no doubt in my mind that this happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever suggest or pay for a player to hurt a player on another team?

DARREN CRAWFORD, TUSTIN RED COBRAS COACH: Absolutely not. I think that they're trumped up charges. Nothing like that ever happened on my team.


O'BRIEN: Well, if you read-through the article, one father is quoted saying that, you know, his son said he won the prize. And then showed his dad a 20 dollar bill like -- like prize? What do you mean the prize? You had a good, clean hit you won the play of the game. What prize? Legally speaking --

JOSE BAEZ, ATTORNEY: It's child abuse and also contributing to the delinquency of a minor because it falls outside of the actual game. It's an intentional tort from one -- and to have an adult do it, and to head it up, it's a sign of being disgusting. It's criminal.

HUNTSMAN: Isn't this why it's so important to have good examples at the top of a game in football? We see that these kids look up to these NFL players. They see it's OK, this is kind of cool.

O'BRIEN: Is it the kids or is it the coaches, right? Really, is it really the coaches stole the idea and not the kids. The kids feel like, 20 bucks, that's awesome. I wonder if it's really the --

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: This is exactly what a bunch of NFL -- what an NFL team did what just recently, right?


SOCARIDES: Right, I mean, and, you know, it makes sense, right, that if you know, these are the heroes. The heroes are doing it.

BERMAN: If this really happened it's bad coaching, it's bad parenting. It's just bad human being. Any way you cut it, it's not good.

BAEZ: It's been going on for years. There was a scandal in the University of Miami many years ago, accusations of prizes for big hits.

HUNTSMAN: We already see the problem with mental health and concussions, and I feel like parents are going to be less likely to want to put their kids in football.

BAEZ: Football is going to change in the next ten years you're going to see a huge different -- basically a completely different game than you do today and you have in the past. I think a lot of attention is being drawn to that.

O'BRIEN: Because of those hits, all right, terrible story.

All right, still ahead 'tis morning on STARTING POINT, Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal the health care law if he becomes president. So what does that mean for seniors on Medicaid? Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to take an in-depth look at both candidates' health care plans. That's coming up next.


O'BRIEN: Election Day just 39 days away and, before Americans head to the polls, CNN is going in-depth on the topics that matter most to you. This morning, where each candidate stands on health care. CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has that.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since President Obama's health care law was enacted, 3.1 million people under the age of 26 are now covered by their parents' plans and preventive care is covered 100 percent by insurance companies. Seniors, in particular, have benefitted on prescription drugs.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Seniors who fall in the coverage gap known as the donut hole will start getting some help. They'll receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions and that will, over time, fill in the donut hole.

GUPTA: And 5.5 million seniors have saved a total of nearly $4.5 billion on prescription drugs since the law was enacted according to the Health and Human Services Department. He also plans to add spending on Medicare.

OBAMA: I have strengthened Medicare. We've added years to the life of Medicare. We did it by getting rid of taxpayer subsidies to insurance companies that weren't making people healthier.

GUPTA: By 2014, the law requires everyone to have health insurance whether they purchase it through themselves or through their employers. Insurers can't deny you if you have a pre-existing condition or increase your rates. The law has become a cornerstone of the Obama campaign. OBAMA: I refuse to eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor and elderly or disabled and also those with the most can pay less.

GUPTA: But Romney says the Affordable Care Act is unaffordable.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We know that health care is too expensive. Obamacare doesn't make it less expensive.

GUPTA: He wants Obamacare gone including the prescription drug benefit for seniors, but he does want to keep one of the most popular pieces of Obamacare although he doesn't say exactly how his plan would work.

ROMNEY: We have to make sure that people who have pre-existing conditions are able to get insured and that folks that get sick don't get dropped by their insurance company.

GUPTA: Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, proposed to cap malpractice insurance, cut Medicaid by $810 billion over the next 10 years, give states more control over their Medicaid funds and overhaul Medicare.

The overhaul, people now younger than 55, when they reach retirement would have the option of getting a voucher to purchase private insurance or they can stick with traditional Medicare.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This financial support system is designed to guarantee seniors can always afford Medicare coverage, no exceptions.


GUPTA: I tell you, Soledad, we don't talk about Medicaid as much as you know. A big part of Obamacare is to expand Medicaid, give the states the option to expand the federal poverty level people can qualify for it. It costs money for the federal government and state government.

The Romney plan, we've been dissecting it for a bit of time now, really turns Medicaid into a block grant program for the states and let the states decide. But ultimately, there's less dollars going into the program -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, so then since seniors are a large portion of the recipients of Medicaid, what happens to them? How are they affected?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting because I think as a physician I've been looking into this. People, they think of Medicare for seniors and Medicaid for people who either impoverished or have disabilities. But there are about 6 million seniors who actually get Medicaid as well; they are called "dually eligible". The area that impacts them the most is probably long term and nursing home care.

Medicare covers a lot of things. One of the things it falls shorter is in that nursing home care. If you're a senior that falls within that poverty guideline and you need nursing home care, Medicaid is often where that source of money comes from. I think those people will be affected the most.

O'BRIEN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Always nice to see you, Sanjay. Thanks for talking with us.

GUPTA: You too.

O'BRIEN: This weekend, even more in-depth look at the candidates' plans, which is on "SANJAY GUPTA M.D."

Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, NFL refs back, getting rock star treatment at least within the first four minutes. The commissioner finally weighing in on that blown call by the replacement refs that triggered a national uproar.

And the search for Jimmy Hoffa. Is the former Teamster's boss really buried under a driveway of a suburban Michigan home? They'll find out today. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.