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Romney's About Face on the 47 Percent; Teaching with Technology; September Jobs Report: Economy Added 114,000 Jobs, Unemployment Falls to 7.8 Percent; Fifty Years of 007

Aired October 5, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody.

Our "starting point" this morning: Mitt Romney admits that he was completely wrong about that 47 percent comment. Listen.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what, who are dependent upon the government, who believe that they are victims, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing ,the government should give it to them.


O'BRIEN: He should have been doing a victory lap. Instead, after that solid debate performance, is he headed back to damage control mode? We're going to talk about that.

Plus, that deadly meningitis outbreak is now spreading. Five are dead. Many more could be at risk. Health officials are alerting doctors and hospitals to check their drug supply.

And dozens of flights canceled as millions of American Airlines mechanics fix seats from popping loose mid-flight. That could be uncomfortable.

It's Friday, October 5th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.


Welcome, everybody. Our team this morning: Richard Socarides. He's a writer for Margaret Hoover worked in the Bush White House. Charles Blow is a "New York Times" columnist. John Berman, CNN anchor of "EARLY START," sticks around, helping us with the news.

"Starting point": Mitt Romney kind of changing his message, revisiting that now infamous secretly recorded remark about the 47 percent who don't pay income tax. First, he said the day -- the evening he actually -- those tapes got out, he said that those comments were not elegantly stated. Now, he is not standing behind those comments at all. Here is what he told FOX News.


ROMNEY: Clearly, in a campaign with hundreds, if not thousands of speeches and question and answer sessions, now and then, you're going to say something that doesn't come out right. In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong. And I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about 100 percent.

O'BRIEN: Candy Crowley is going to be the moderator of the next presidential debate, which takes place on October 16th.

Candy, great to see you.

Let's start with this 47 percent thing. Seems odd to me on a day when the governor could have been doing a victory lap, and really talking about his terrific performance on Wednesday night, now the conversation is back to a leaked tape that I would imagine he would really want to forget.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You would think. Except let's remember: (a), he was asked about it. So there's not much he could do. And my sense of this is that perhaps he thought the president was going to bring it up in the debate and that was the answer he had ready. I was wrong to say that, but I think if you look at my life story, I've cared about 100 percent of the people and that's what I intend to do as president.

I think that was the ready answer for if the 47 percent -- and perhaps they wanted it out, but again, they were asked and I think the shift is quite likely how they had decided to deal with it in the debate and they wanted to get it out there.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, NEWYORKER.COM: Can I just say? I think that's really good insight on Candy's part. I think that's exactly right. I think he was ready to give that answer and he really wanted to give it. They really are pivoting around that.

I thought your interview this morning in the earlier hour with Congressman Gingrey was so interesting. Now they are openly admitting that they are changing their thinking on this. I mean, I think there's a lot of nuance in politics but there is a big difference between totally -- between totally wrong and inelegantly stated. I think they're really going to have to face that today.

O'BRIEN: Is that pivot a problem, Candy?

CROWLEY: Well, always. And I think, again, why you want to do it now is you've got 12 days to kind of let it get into the ground water. You have -- on the other hand, you do have 12 days for the White House to begin to think how the president should respond to that.

But you don't actually, at this point, want that -- they thought they would be behind it -- or in front of it or whatever, by the time the first debate was over. So I think they wanted to get it out quickly so by the time the 16th rolled around when they had their next debate, that it had had been chewed over enough.

CHARLES BLOW, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I think it's a problem to characterize it even as a pivot. I think you have to, at some point, step back and say Mitt Romney has a testy relationship with the truth. That is the fact of Mitt Romney.

He is saying something that is completely different from what he said when he was secretly recorded, when he was not -- this is not before a camera. This is not kind of a tested thing. This is not in front of an interviewer. He says one thing.

Then he has a chance to say what he said yesterday, right after it is revealed that he has said this to a private audience and that is not what he says. He didn't say I didn't say it the right way.

O'BRIEN: Ineloquently.

BLOW: But I stand behind this basic principle.

O'BRIEN: Now back to Candy. When I talk to Congressman Gingrey, I think he was saying, listen, this is politics. This is how it works. You go to the right and you come back when you're talking to the general and it seemed to echo, I think, what Eric Fehrnstrom said on our show, the etch-a-sketch thing, which seems like the secret that everybody in politics knows but maybe voters don't know.

Is that going to be problematic or is it just that that's the way it goes, you go this way in the primary, you come back this way, you can change your tune and it's OK?

CROWLEY: Well, it will never be acceptable to the Democrats or the folks who are watching this and they're independents and they're leaning Democrat. Here, I think, is again where you go back to what kind of election is this going to be. I think since we're looking at a close election, this is about a turnout election.

And so, turning out your base, as well as those who lean Republican is very important. What do we see in these stories coming out of the more, quote, "moderate" Mitt Romney that we see in the debate and now we see in this remark, is the base is ecstatic. They think this gives him that chance to then speak to those folks who are more receptive to that message.

So, I think you have to look at where he's coming from. But I also think he has to explain t folks can make up their minds, but you're right. I mean, this is different from inelegantly stating something and he's going to have to square that thing in a round peg.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I would love to ask you what you're hearing from your sources about President Obama and what he's going to do in the next 12 days to really get up to speed.

O'BRIEN: Cram.

HOOVER: To really bring a totally different President Obama to the debate in 12 days. What are you hearing in terms of how he's going to prepare differently? What are your sources telling you? He did so badly, of course.

CROWLEY: I have to say, when you first say that, there's this great tweet. I wish I could credit whoever said it. They said two words, "Red Bull," which just cracked me up completely.


CROWLEY: But I don't really think that's what the White House is telling him or what the re-elect committee is telling him.

Listen, we don't have sources to tell us this, but they do. This is a president -- and they said from the beginning, that day, what's the president going to do? They said he's going to talk to the American people. He's going to speak directly to the American people.

The only problem is Mitt Romney was on the stage. It didn't work. Not engaging him looked like he just didn't know anything. And so, you know, which we know not to be the truth. The man has been steeped in policy, one would hope, for the last almost four years. And so, you know, I think it's as simple as engage or not engage. And I think now they're looking at it saying, OK, it's time to engage. It's time to put that stuff on the table.

He didn't want to engage with Mitt Romney. He didn't want to do that kind of whole politics thing. He wanted to do the presidential thing and talk to the middle class. And they said that before the debate. He followed through. It didn't work. You'll see him engage in the next one.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You saw him engage yesterday in the stump already yesterday.

O'BRIEN: It was much more energetic than the actual debate.

Candy Crowley, thanks as always. We appreciate it.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

O'BRIEN: Several more debates are up. The battle of the number two, Vice President Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan will be facing on October 11th. That's going to happen in Danville, Kentucky. It's going to be their only debate.

October 16th is the second presidential debate, and Candy, as you I mentioned, is going to be moderating that. That's taking place in Hempstead, Long Island -- my old stumping ground. The third and final debate between the president and Governor Romney will take place on October 22nd. That's going to happen in Boca Raton in Florida.

Other stories making news this morning. John has got that for us.

BERMAN: Great to see you, Soledad.

At least five people are dead in a fungal meningitis outbreak and almost half the states in the country are affected. The CDC saying the steroid medication linked to the outbreak was sent to 23 states. More infections are possible. That's steroid typically linked to treat back pain is injected into patient's spines. The company that made the medication has now voluntarily recalled it.

Passengers spilling soda and coffee gunked up the seat locking mechanism over time on certain aircrafts, affecting the track that locked the seat to the aircraft floor. That is the odd reason that American Airlines is now offering to explain why dozens of American flights have been canceled because of seats coming loose in the air.

This happened three times in a week. American has pulled 48 Boeing 757s out of service to fix a device called a sot -- sorry, can't even say it, seat lock plunger, a term we're all now learning for the first time. The airline is blaming poor design and even spilled coffee and soda, causing these seats to become unhinged.

American tourist opens fire at Israeli hotel in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat. At least one person is dead. Initial reports say the gunman grabbed the security guard's weapon, shot a hotel worker and then barricaded himself in the hotel. An anti-terror unit later shot and killed the gunman.

Three weeks later, U.S. Special Operations forces are now in Libya, at last, helping gather intel on militants who are allegedly involved on the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans. Military officials tell CNN this includes intercepting communications, analyzing drone images, and one-on-one interviews with people who may have information. The military is also providing security for an FBI team that is now on the ground.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano heads to Arizona today and meet with the family of slain border patrol agent Nicholas Ivie. She'll also meet with federal, state and local law enforcement officials to talk about the investigation. Mexican authorities are questioning two men. The Mexican attorney general's office say they had drugs and guns when they were detained.

Actress and environmental activist Daryl Hannah arrested again over the Keystone Pipeline. Her rep she stood in front of an excavator in Texas at a construction site for the controversial pipeline. Hannah was arrested outside the White House last year in an earlier protest against the pipeline. More on this celebrity mug shot --

HOOVER: She looks good in her mug shot.

O'BRIEN: I know. But that's the same thing. Everybody usually looks disheveled and a hot mess.

BERMAN: We can all learn some lessons there.

O'BRIEN: She looks good.

SOCARIDES: She looks as if she ready. Usually the mug shots you've been out drinking.

O'BRIEN: Exactly.


BERMAN: How do you prepare for your protest, Richard?

O'BRIEN: I'll help you here.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT: we're just a few minutes away from the big September jobs report. The campaigns, of course, are bracing for those numbers, voters wondering what it's all going to mean. We're going to have that report as soon as it's released. And Christine Romans will join us with some analysis.

Also, spin machine -- Mitt Romney walking back his comments on the 47 percent; President Obama in post-debate damage control mode. We'll tell you how the campaigns are crafting their messages and then re- crafting their messages and then re-crafting the re-crafting of their messages. That's straight ahead on STARTING POINT.

Back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. This morning, we're taking a look at the presidential candidate's messages and how they change them and then change them and then change them. Mitt Romney is adjusting his message about the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income taxes.

First, he said he hadn't stated it elegantly, and now, he's saying he was completely wrong. On President Obama's camp playing major damage control after some devastating reviews of his debate performance. Some people called it a drubbing, others a route. Obama was said to be uncomfortable and even subdued, and those weren't even the harsh reviews.

Joining us this morning, Howard Kurtz of the Washington bureau chief, "The Daily Beast," and host of CNNs "RELIABLE SOURCES"; Lauren Ashburn, contributor to the "Daily Beast" and editor in chief of the "Daily Download." Nice to see both of you.


O'BRIEN: let's start with President Obama and his performance during the debate. Everybody is trying to figure out sort of what happened. Al Gore, did you see this? You haven't seen this? Margaret, you got to watch this. He has his take on what may have been a factor. Let's play that first.


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I'm going to say something controversial here. Obama arrived in Denver at 2:00 p.m. today, just a few hours before the debate started. Romney did his debate prep in Denver.


GORE: When you go to 5,000 feet -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.

GORE: -- and you only have a few hours to adjust --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's interesting.

GORE: I don't know. Maybe --



O'BRIEN: Let's go to Margaret for that.

HOOVER: So, I'm from Denver, Colorado. You do need more red blood cells to carry more oxygen to your brain.

SOCARIDES: So, he's right? You're saying he's right.

HOOVER: But that is crazy town.

O'BRIEN: What we're really seeing here, though, is sort of the spin and the manipulation in the aftermath of that debate performance.

KURTZ: You know, Soledad, I was in the spin room in Denver, and these things are usually ludicrous and useless. But in this instance, ten Republican spinners came out, Rudy Giuliani briefing reporters, even while Mitt Romney was still delivering his closing statement.

They were pumped up. They were excited about performance (ph), but 10 minutes later, a couple of --

LAUREN ASHBURN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "DAILY DOWNLOAD": -- the spin thing. I mean, come on. Why would you go out there? Why would you even go in? You know what they're going to say. They're going to lie and say my guy did great.

KURTZ: That is usually true, but in this particular instance, when a couple of Democratic spinners came out, one from the White House, one from the campaign, they were dispirited, they were robotic.

O'BRIEN: And their guy did do great. I mean, that wasn't spin. And I was -- I think stating clearly what 67 percent of people who watch the debates thought like Mitt Romney did great.

ASHBURN: I don't know why you need to do that. You know, it's just so reporters can get a quote. That's it.

BLOW: -- Between Barack Obama doing poorly and Mitt Romney doing really well. I don't think that Mitt Romney did particularly well, because a lot of what he was saying was just flat-out lies.

ASHBURN: Oh, come on.

BLOW: I mean, let's just be honest about that.

ASHBURN: Come on.

BLOW: Wait, you believe all of it?

ASHBURN: No, but I believe that the perception was because the debate was so meaty. I think a lot of people looked at the presentation. Barack Obama was standing on one foot. he was sort of --

BLOW: What was the meat that was talking about? Because --

ASHBURN: OK. My head was hurting. $716 billion.


BLOW: Just because there's a lot of math, that doesn't mean it's meaty. If the math doesn't add up, then that's not actual meat.

O'BRIEN: All right. But I would say about that, first of all, there were lots of substantive conversations and topics. So, I think that that is the case. And on some of the errors, isn't that the job of the other person who's on the stage to say that's not true?

KURTZ: It is absolutely. And, the president didn't seem to come to play on this. Never mention the 47 percent. How amazing was that?

ASHBURN: Well, I think the next time he's going to mention it 47 times.

KURTZ: But, it is also told that the job of the press and we're starting to see a little bit of it, and you raised this in an interview earlier in the program, when Mitt Romney can't explain how his math adds up on his tax cut when he suddenly says he wanted to repeal the Dodd-Frank banking law, but now he wants to keep parts of it. He was moving to the center. He was making factually-challenged claims. The president had a couple of numbers didn't add up, too.

That's where the media focus should be and not just about Big Bird and who looked down and who looked up. I think the press has not focused sufficiently on the --

ASHBURN: It's equally as important.

KURTZ: Equally?

ASHBURN: Equally as important to see how they present themselves. Is Mitt Romney looking in the eye of President Obama?

KURTZ: Which he did.

ASHBURN: Is Obama sort of smirking as he was alleged to?

SOCARIDES: I think you're absolutely right, and I think that's the mismatch here was what made it so newsworthy, that it was -- they were so mismatched. You know, Romney was really good. Obama was really off. I wonder also -- you guys cover the media is it -- do you think that the fact that the media environment that they were in, this overheated media environment really intensifies the impact of these big events?

KURTZ: Absolutely, because look, there's no question about it. Mitt Romney had a stronger night. The president didn't bring his A game. But for all of the perpetual punditry now about how it was a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad night for President Obama, now everybody looks back and says, wow, this was a debacle. He got creamed. I mean, he wasn't that bad, but the media echo chamber exaggerates that.

O'BRIEN: So, I want to play a little bit of what Congressman Gingrey said to me a little bit earlier, because he basically was saying -- here's a quote. "Primary is always going to lean right and then you come back to the center for the general." Here's a little bit of our conversation.


O'BRIEN: My question is what you said is during the campaign, you know, you lean to the right and then you come back to the center when you're actually in the general election. So, to me, that is you say one thing for a certain audience to get them to support you, and then you say something different, maybe completely contradictory to another audience, which some could define as lying. So, is that --


O'BRIEN: -- what we're seeing?

REP. PHIL GINGREY, M.D., (R) GEORGIA: And some could refer to that as campaign tactics. Good campaign tactics without violating one's principle.


O'BRIEN: So, I mean, ultimately, right, I guess, the media is supposed to call people on this, but it doesn't seem that there's anything they're hiding. He's saying, hi, this is politics 101. Go ahead.

KURTZ: That was one instance in which President Obama tried to call Mitt Romney out on the tax plan when he seemed to be saying, well, I'm not really going to reduce the share of what people pay, but I'm going to eliminate these deductions and loopholes. I'm not going to tell you what they are, but that has utterly gotten lost in all the talk about Big Bird and the demeanor and the sign.

ASHBURN: I also think that social media plays a role here, on that day in that hour and a half, there were 10.3 million tweets that were going on.

KURTZ: Most ever for a political event.

ASHBURN: That were really talking about that kind of stuff. Twitter is the place where you say, Jim Lehrer said, let's not. And he wants to -- and then, you know, Mitt Romney wants to kill Big Bird. And that whole social media wave, I think, influences journalists and influences all of the other people who are on Twitter. HOOVER: We're talking about the substance of the debate, though. Sorry, Richard. And it was a substantive debate. There's a lot of information there, a lot of details, a lot of studies cited. Isn't it the role of the moderator, too, to sort of ding, ding, ding, when something goes off the rails, when he knows that something isn't true to step in and kind of take control?

O'BRIEN: -- actual dishonesty or is he thought to keep him on track in terms of time and format?

KURTZ: On a talk show, you certainly would jump in and say you said this, but last night you said this. In a presidential debate such a high stakes arena and Lehrer's philosophy is let the candidates go at it, let them fact check each other. And, he did ask good questions, but he basically decided to make it about them and not about him. A lot of anchors don't do that.


BLOW: If you know, if you've done your homework and you know that somebody comes on that stage and they say something that is in opposition to something that they've said in the past and if you've done your homework, you can say I understand what you just said. However on so-and-so date --


BLOW: -- that is part of the moderator's role.



O'BRIEN: -- as opposed to me going to commercial break.


O'BRIEN: Howard and Lauren, thanks, guys, always. Nice to see you. We appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, want to know what Bill Gates' kids are watching online? It's this. It's free virtual school lesson now getting millions of views. We're going to be talking to Sal Khan. He's the guy who created Khan Academy. I actually watch it, too, with my kids. There he is. He's got a new book out all about education. We're going to chat with him up next.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Failures in education, of course, are major part of the national conversation, unfortunately. We're even talking about it during the presidential debate, but one success, Khan Academy. Just a few years ago, Salman Khan was using online education tutorials to teach his cousin. Now, his video lectures are drawing more than five million unique viewers every month and they're used by teachers in more than 15,000 classrooms around the world. Listen to a little bit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to divide these four quarters between the two of us. So, notice, we have four quarters.


O'BRIEN: So effective because of your voice. So notice we have four quarters. He receives funding from Bill Gates and many others in his new book which is called "The One World Schoolhouse." He lays out a vision for the future of education, and he's with us this morning. It's nice to see you. Thanks for being with us.


O'BRIEN: How has the Khan Academy because now you've moved into a real-world setting, using online tools before you were doing these online tutorials? How has that -- how is that different than your, let's say, average classroom?

KHAN: Yes. You know, now that students can get access to the information delivery part of learning, the lectures at their own time and their own pace and we also have an interaction portion where we can do problems. A lot of teachers are saying, well, why should I use this class time for this kind of passive I lecture, people listen, take notes.

Instead, we could use that for actual interactivity. It's different for every teacher. It's different for every classroom. But, when you've seen classrooms now, when they come to class, they're doing problem solving and they have teacher there to help them out, to tutor them, and they have their peers.

You know, the classes a lot of us grew up in, if you wanted to help your peer, you would get in trouble, shhh, you know, be quite. Listen. But now, it's like, no, no, this is what it's all about, getting help from your peers, doing problem solving, doing -- interacting with your teacher.

O'BRIEN: What do you think your average -- maybe not this -- how do you think a lot of classes are failing? I mean, what's wrong with the American education system in a typical classroom where it really isn't serving a student today?

KHAN: Yes. And this is something I go into a lot of detail on in the book, you know, all of the paranoia about our school system. We come look at the national rankings and we're like, oh, we're behind Estonia in factoring polynomials. It's the end of the world. America is going to lose everything.

O'BRIEN: We're kind of low on science and math.


KHAN: And we shouldn't get complacent about that. But one thing I point out is, if you look at the last 50 years, you look at the innovation in the world, it's only been getting more and more concentrated in the U.S. If you look at the most innovative companies, you know, the Facebooks, the Googles, the Twitters, they're all coming from America.

And my point is it's because we're the most creative country. It's innovative. There's -- failure isn't stigmatized. And so, instead of, you know, this model of education that we have where all the students are batched together and their passive lectures and they're pushed forward, this is a model inherited from Prussia, a country that does not exist anymore 200 years ago.

And so, what I point out, instead of trying to compare our Prussian model to the Prussian model in Singapore and the Prussian model in Finland, all of which are passive models. We should make our model more American, make it interactive when people come to the classroom, give room for creativity. If you get a C or a D, it's not about failure. It's about, well, make it better then.

BLOW: I find it fascinating in the context of something else, which is like the idea, stereotype -- and this is the idea that in some types of classrooms, some kids feel like there's a threat response that they will be stereotyped if they ask questions when they don't find -- you know, they don't understand something.

So, the idea that you could go back -- and you don't understand it, you could listen to it again on your own and then seek help at another time or in your own pace. So, you know, for girls, sometimes feel this threat when they're in math classes.

They found that African-Americans feel this threat a lot of times in classes in general that they feel like they're asking a question that will not -- that they shouldn't be asking, and therefore, they don't do it. And this seems like it gets around that whole concept. Am I right about that?

KHAN: You're hitting, I think, the core problem. When people say, oh but you know, in a lecture I can ask questions. I was like, no, three people have the guts to ask a question. And if you're in algebra class and you forgot to multiply decimals, there's no way you're going to raise your hand. Wait, I forgot my fourth grade math.

O'BRIEN: You have taught more classes than Harvard has offered since its founding. What is your vision for future education globally?

KHAN: We want to continue growing, we translated our content into 12 languages. It's being used around the world. We want to become more interactive. And we hope that the conversation isn't just about a lot of the -- within this Prussian model how do we tweak the system. But it's about time, it's been 200 years, we can fundamentally rethink this model soi it's not this passive system. It's much more personalized.

The book is called "The One World School House, Education Reimagined." I really appreciate the Khan Academy. It has helped me so much in fifth grade and sixth grade. O'BRIEN: I appreciate the Khan Academy.


O'BRIEN: You can ask all those questions in the commercial break. We can work that out.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, we're waiting for that critical jobs report, the second to last one before the presidential election. We'll bring you those numbers as soon as they come out. Also, of course, analysis on what it would mean on Election Day. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Breaking news, the September jobs report is out. Christine has got the numbers and the analysis for us. What have you got?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: All right, 114,000 created in the month, a little bit better than expected, 114,000. The surprise is the jobless rate, which fell to 7.8 percent. It fell to 7.8 percent. And we have a couple of months that have been revised. We have final numbers now for August and July and those numbers are better than previously reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In August, 142,000 jobs were created. In July, 181,000 jobs were created. That's another 80,000 jobs created than we first thought because we thought before that, you know, the month before, August, was more like 96,000. Instead you've got 142,000. So this is a little better than expected.

Where were the jobs created? Health care again, 44,000 a consistent gainer, health care jobs. Transportation was a big winner. Everything else was basically flat overall.

And you've been hearing a lot about the private sector pushing things forward. Private sector job creation, 104,000. That means jobs were actually created in the government sector. There have been so many layoffs over the past couple of years. Hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in the government. We saw a little bit of job creation in the government for the month.

So you need to have 150,000 jobs created, 125 to 150 just to absorb new entrants into the labor market, people graduate from college, immigrants, new population growth. This doesn't keep up with population growth but it's a little better than Wall Street had thought.

O'BRIEN: I have to imagine that the Obama campaign will be trumpeting that 7.8 percent unemployment figure certainly. Let's get right to Ken Rogoff a professor of economics and public policy at Harvard. He is in Boston. Nice to see you, sir.


O'BRIEN: So give me your analysis of what you just heard from Christine, 114,000, 7.8 percent unemployment rate.

ROGOFF: There's no question that the 7.8 percent unemployment rate is very encouraging. The fact is that part of that is less people are looking for work and so they fall out of the workforce. But the numbers in July and August were revised up. So this isn't a game changer at all but it certainly is a small step forward.

O'BRIEN: Tell me a little bit about what Christine was just talking about, private sector versus government jobs creator. How big of a deal and how relevant is it that we have 104,000 jobs created in the private sector and a number being created in the government?

ROGOFF: Well, on the whole, we're more excited by the private sector job creation because that's more organic and there's more where that came from when that gets going, whereas the government eventually runs out of money. But state and local governments have been shouting jobs like crazy, so it's encouraging that that stops a little bit. We still need to look to the private sector for the main change here.

ROMANS: Ken, Christine here. These don't change either campaign's world view, do they?

ROGOFF: No, they don't. I think the Romney economic brain trust really thinks that they can turn growth around. I think if you look back to what's missing, where is he going to get revenue from that he's not saying, I think the big ideas that growth would go way up, they would get a lot of tax revenues and it would all be great. I don't know how realistic that is after a financial crisis. And the Obama administration thinks, look, we're going to stay the course. Things are getting gradually better. So let's not panic.

SOCARIDES: Well, I think that, you know, what's clear about the 7.8 percent, to state the obvious, it's a big number in the context, just 30 some days out of the general election.

O'BRIEN: And the lowest number since President Obama took office in 2009.

BLOW: They were praying for a number lower -- that didn't begin with an eight, and they got it. This is a huge, huge --

ROMANS: To be fair, the Romney folks are also going to come back and say still this recovery is more lethargic than they should have been.

BLOW: It's all true. It's all true. Can I tell you however you spin it --


BLOW: You have to start that statement with still, then you've lost. What he needed coming out of that debate performance was momentum. You need this number to be consistent with the message that you were delivering.

ROMANS: He did get momentum out of the debate performance. BLOW: You are not going to get it from this number. This number -- part of Mitt Romney's selling point has been for so many months we have had unemployment rate above eight percent. You can no longer say that. And you can --

O'BRIEN: Some of the fact checking, when they talk about the phrase, President Obama promised the under eight percent, which, of course, he did not promise. People on his team did promise. That is going to be a sound bite, I think, that comes out and people are going to say here you have a number that's under eight percent. It's going to be a powerful number. Go ahead.

ROGOFF: A lot of economists thought it would go up to 8.3 percent. This is a world of difference that it's gone down and especially below that eight percent mark.

ROMANS: Ken, how does 7.8 percent feel for Americans looking for work compared with 8.1 percent? Because, you know, 7.8 percent still feels tough, especially for people who have been out of work six months or longer. Of the unemployed, 40 percent have been out for at least six months.

ROGOFF: Oh, no, absolutely. This is a small step. This isn't a widely different number. It's exactly what people were expecting, though upward revision. A lot of the gain came from people being discouraged and they're not looking for work anymore. It doesn't feel that different. Nevertheless --

SOCARIDES: Psychologically, it's hugely different. To be at 7.8 -- I know it's not a big difference.

BERMAN: Political psychology.

SOCARIDES: Political psychology.

BERMAN: Fate has an incredible sense of irony here. Democratic convention that seemed to be so good fell flat because of a bad jobs report. Mitt Romney's debate performance was so good, and maybe his momentum will be stalled by a good jobs report.

BLOW: It is just not political psychology. What is not factored in is seasonal adjustment. So you're going into a holiday season. If you take it out, if you're actually on the ground you're seeing people get more jobs. Those jobs will disappear by the time the election is over. The holidays will be over. On the ground it will feel better and in addition the political psychology will be better.

O'BRIEN: There's other things happening in the economy. Europe is stabilizing. There's a rebound that Christine has been talking about in the housing market. Consumer confidence was up in September. So all of this, Ken, does that point to sort of an optimism that is sort of based on something tangible?

ROGOFF: The housing is definitely a big thing because everybody is so sensitive to that. They've been in a state of shock about what's happening to the price of their homes, the major asset for most consumers. On the other hand, a lot of the other data is pretty mixed. I think it's still a very, very weak economy coming back from this deep financial crisis. It takes a long time. It always takes a long time. I don't think things feel great. But definitely the housing number is better and unemployment is better.

ROMANS: Ken, can you give us some texture on the folks that have dropped out of the workforce? Is it seniors who are retiring? Is it people who have just gotten sick of -- or can't find work so they've removed themselves from consideration?

ROGOFF: You know, some of it has nothing to do with cyclical things, exactly what you're saying, that people are retiring. We have an aging workforce, after all. More people are retiring. More people are pulling out. Certainly there are people whose unemployment benefits run out and so they no longer need to say that they're looking for work. There's a mixture of these things going on, also seasonal factors like the summer.

ROMANS: Two things in here John and I are going through the report right now. Civilian labor force rose by 418,000. That means people entering the workforce and discouraged workers actually declined, 235,000 people no longer consider themselves discouraged workers. What does that mean?

ROGOFF: I mean, I am surprised with the thing going down to 7.8 percent that the workforce actually increased. You gave the higher numbers for July and August, so I'm actually not sure of the answer to that off the top of my head.

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see what the political ramifications are. It's what everybody will be talking about now that these numbers are out. Ken Rogoff, we appreciate your time this morning.

ROGOFF: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: STARTING POINT is back right after this.


BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT everyone. A couple of stories we want to tell you about quickly this morning.

A number of gas stations forced to shut down as gas prices soared to really a shocking level in California. AAA says the average price for a gallon of gas has hit $4.48; that's over $5 in some parts of the state. The price spikes are being driven by a fuel shortage that's blamed on supply problems due to refinery and pipeline outages.

A member of the infamous Manson family may soon be out of prison. A California parole board has recommended release for 69-year-old Bruce Davis. He's serving a life sentence for the 1969 murders of music teacher Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shay. The decision is now subject to 120-day review period. Two years ago a California panel also granted parole to Davis but that was overturned by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. And 50 years ago today was the first time we heard this -- silence. We've heard that -- we've heard that for centuries, ladies and gentlemen.





BERMAN: Right, the Bond -- the "Bond, James Bond" thing is the thing what we heard 50 years ago for the first time. The British super spy made his big screen debut in "Dr. No". That is Sean Connery, Soledad's favorite "Bond". And now a half century and six Bond actors later, the 23rd 007 film "Skyfall" is about to hit theaters U.S. and the theme song for the new movie?

O'BRIEN: Adele.


ADELE, SINGER: Let the sky fall when it crumbles


BERMAN: Daniel Craig -- Daniel Craig is the new Bond and I'm just glad we heard something this time. In case you didn't recognize that voice, that is Adele. Downloads of the "Skyfall" title tracks are expected to break a record on iTunes.

O'BRIEN: If you think about it, over time the James Bond movies have been consistently great.


O'BRIEN: I mean really if you can think of a franchise where for 50 years --

BLOW: Well there was a period in there.

O'BRIEN: That was a bad -- yes.


BERMAN: Except for "Moonraker".

O'BRIEN: I liked "Moonraker", actually, on TBS when they ran it years later.

SOCARIDES: I remember going to see Dr. No when it came out with my dad. He took me to see that.



BERMAN: That's impossible.

SOCARIDES: No, it's true.

O'BRIEN: You're 27. How is that possible?

SOCARIDES: You know it's an amazing fact, but it's true.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I can't wait to see that. I'm excited.

HOOVER: Fact checkers.

O'BRIEN: Yes fact checkers.

SOCARIDES: Really it's true, I'm older than I look.

O'BRIEN: Oh no, no.


O'BRIEN: Get out. No.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, he is a teenager, a rapper and he's got a severe stutter as well. We're going to introduce you to this little kid. He's 13 years old, Lil Jaxe. He's coming up next.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT.

Teenage rapper Lil Jaxe, has only been actually rapping for about three years but his star is rising very fast. He's a 13-year-old, he suffers from a severe stutter.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta checks it out in today's "Human Factor".


JAKE ZELDIN, SUFFERS FROM SEVERE SPEECH DISABILITY: Hey you could watch your throne are you Jay-Z or Kanye you can go into my circle --

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Listening to Jake Zeldin rap, you would have no idea that he suffers from a speech disorder that it's so debilitating that this 13-year-old used to keep to himself.

ROBYN ZELDIN, JAKE'S MOTHER: He started speaking at the age of 2 and pretty much I mean, with single words it wasn't so bad. But then when he would get into sentences with a couple of words, two or three words and that's when it started to come out.

ZVI ZELDIN, JAKE'S FATHER: Those who love Jake knew he needs to get the words out. Let him finish what he's speaking or saying. GUPTA: But many others tormented him. He was bullied not only by his classmates but by his teachers as well.

J. ZELDIN: The one teacher was like -- I was just doing this voice in drama class and I was like, "Hi". And then the teacher is like -- and I had done -- I don't know what's more annoying, that voice or your stutter.

GUPTA: Jake's parents Robyn and Zvi invested a ton of time and money into therapy for their son but nothing worked. Then when he was 10 years old, a profound breakthrough at a summer camp.

J. ZELDIN: I was doing this rap battle and I was like, hey, I'm kind -- kind of good.

GUPTA: Now, Jake is performing as "Lil Jaxe" smooth as can be. The rhythm or cadence of rapping makes it easier for him to get the words out without stuttering --

J. ZELDIN: -- come you guys you clap your hands come on --

GUPTA: One night last December Jake got his big break.

J. ZELDIN: I got backstage at a concert and rapped.

GUPTA: Jake's brother, Cole, recorded the encounter and uploaded the video to YouTube. So far, 200,000 views and counting.

COLE ZELDIN, JAKE'S BROTHER: It's awesome. I get to go wherever he goes, meet cool people.

J. ZELDIN: You can't make them go away

GUPTA: And for all those who used to torment him, the haters, they now serve as motivation for Jake, to perform for crowds of up to 20,000 people.

J. ZELDIN: I'm just like you. I'm just a kid with a dream

My big dream is to have fun and to make music. And it's coming true right now.

GUPTA: From Jake to Lil Jaxe, stutterer turned rapper and a role model.

J. ZELDIN: Jakes on CNN let me introduce --

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


O'BRIEN: You got to love when you can work in CNN in your rap. We appreciate that, Lil Jaxe.

That's amazing.

UF1: That's incredible.

BLOW: It's amazing.

O'BRIEN: I wonder if they'll be able to sort of study that to see if you could make that somehow right, lessen his stutter, by figuring out what he's doing in the rapping that could possibly help. That's fascinating. Wow, now that's really a great little kid.

SOCARIDES: Amazing kid.

BLOW: Great story.

O'BRIEN: "End Point" is up next. We're back in just a moment. Stay with us.


COSTELLO: Final segment this morning.

We want to, once again, update you on that new unemployment numbers they released just a little bit ago. 114,000 jobs created in the month of September. Unemployment rate has now fallen from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent. And that would be the lowest number since January 2009, when President Obama was taking office.

So our "End Point," Christine, we'll let you start.

ROMANS: Well, you know, more people entered the workforce last month, too, which is a little bit of a surprise. You had 114,000 jobs created but you had more people coming in, trying to get jobs. So it shows companies are starting to hire again and people are a little more confident about trying to find work.

SOCARIDES: Last month was even better than we thought it was, right? They revised two months of numbers, correct?

ROMANS: 86,000 extra jobs we didn't know about.

SOCARIDES: I think this is a huge break for President Obama right now.

O'BRIEN: Politically.

SOCARIDES: Politically because, you know, they didn't want to have to for now 16 days between now and the next debate, they didn't want to have to talk about his poor performance. Now they can talk about the unemployment numbers.

HOOVER: Two questions I have for Cristina. One first, what about the wages. The wages have stayed basically the same. Does that mean anything?

ROMANS: 60 percent of the wages, of jobs created -- 60 percent of jobs created in the recovery have been $13 or less. So the jobs we are replacing are not necessarily the high-wage jobs. You're right.

HOOVER: OK. And then government jobs are up?

ROMANS: Government jobs three months in a row now have risen, which surprises me. But yes.

SOCARDIES: That's a good thing.

HOOVER: Of course you think that.

O'BRIEN: Charles, you have the last word on our "End Point" this morning?

BLOW: I just this is fantastic for the Obama administration -- I mean for the Obama campaign. It breaks the back of the Mitt Romney that forever we've had an unemployment rate over 8 percent.


O'BRIEN: Changes the conversation as well.

BLOW: And it changes that conversation and momentum that Mitt Romney had coming out of that debate. It's now gone with this report.


O'BRIEN: We'll keep talking about it this morning. Of course, Christine, I know you've been all over that this morning. I want to remind everybody to tune in this weekend. My new documentary "LATINO IN AMERICA: COURTING THEIR VOTE". And you can watch it right here on CNN. That's Sunday 8:00 p.m. Eastern and it airs again at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. Have a great weekend. We'll see you back here Monday morning.

Hey Carol.