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Veep Debate Night; Former Teammates Against Lance Armstrong; Interview with Rep. Reid Ribble; One on One with Paul Ryan; Anger Over Shooting of Young Activist

Aired October 11, 2012 - 08:00   ET



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

Our STARTING POINT this morning: the vice presidential showdown.

That's a live shot of the debate hall which is where Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan will be going head to head. We'll tell you or we don't need to tell you. But we'll talk about why they're only -- they're one and only face off is going to come with very high stake.

Also, President Obama calls his first debate a bad night. He says, though, that he is in it to win it. Listen.


DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: You're going to win?


SAWYER: You want it more than the first time?

OBAMA: Absolutely.


O'BRIEN: Plus, pulled from the rubble. A construction worker freed overnight after being trapped under a collapsed parking garage for 13 hours.

And 200 pages and eyewitness accounts from once loyal teammates all detailing how Lance Armstrong cheated. Stunning new information to share with you this morning.

It's Thursday, October 11th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody.

Our team this morning: Ben Smith is the editor-in-chief of "BuzzFeed". Roland Martin, the host of "Washington Watch with Roland Martin." Will Cain is a columnist with John Berman sticking around with us from "EARLY START" this morning.

Welcome, welcome, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning is the one and only chance for Joe Biden, and Paul Ryan to talk directly to each other and the nation. It's vice presidential debate night. The showdown is going to take place in just about 13 hours. It's where it will go down.

Take a look -- this is a campus of Center College in Danville, Kentucky.

Good news for the Romney/Ryan team in new swing state polls this morning. NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll has Romney ahead in Virginia. And another poll out -- there's a different poll out that shows that the President is ahead and extending his lead there. So, conflicting there.

Also, tight races in Florida and Ohio.

CBS/"New York Times"/Quinnipiac poll has Mitt Romney in front in another critical swing state as well, in the state of Colorado.

Ahead of tonight's debate, President Obama talked about his own debate performance, acknowledging it was a bad night, told Diane Sawyer, though, that he is in it to win it. Listen to what he said.


SAWYER: You're going to win?


SAWYER: You want it more than the first time?

OBAMA: Absolutely.


O'BRIEN: David Axelrod is the Obama campaign senior adviser, joining us this morning. It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for talking with us.


O'BRIEN: You know, some people would say when he said, "a bad night," that was kind of an understatement. What's he doing differently this time around?

AXELROD: Well, I think you'll see on Tuesday night but obviously he got a feel for Governor Romney and how he was going to approach these debates. And he went over the tape himself and he is his own harshest critic. So I'm looking forward to next Tuesday night. And I think part of what took him aback a little was the degree to which Governor Romney tried to fudge his positions, walk away and obscure the positions he's taken. You got a little taste of that in your last half hour on the issue of abortion rights. So, you know, that's a challenge and you have to be up to that challenge. But the President I think is highly motivated and looking forward to the conversation on Tuesday.

O'BRIEN: And the vice presidential debate, there's lots of conversations about exactly what the strategy is going to be for the Vice President. Gail Collins said, "Don't expect a bored Biden." And David Brooks said this: "I'm thinking more along the lines of a feral wolverine. I imagine him leaping across the stage and sinking his disturbingly perfect teeth into Ryan's neck and then just hanging on."

That sounds like a little bit of an exaggeration, but how do you expect it to go? What's the strategy there?

AXELROD: Yes, actually, I think it is a little bit of an exaggeration, but I do think that he is - I think the Vice President's very much looking forward to the debate tonight because there are really clear distinctions between the President and Mitt Romney, even if Governor Romney's trying to fuzzy up those distinctions in the final weeks of the campaign.

You know, one feature of this debate that will be interesting is a few weeks a go, Soledad, Congressman Ryan was on television and when he was asked to explain how they're going to pay for this $5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy, he said, "Well, it's too complicated in this short period of time." Well, now he has 90 minutes to do it so perhaps he'll use his time that way.

O'BRIEN: There's been lots of exception, though, taken to that $5 trillion number, mainly that, which by the way you guys keep repeating over and over again even though many people have said it's just factually not true mostly because there's no details around it. Why do you keep going with that number?

AXELROD: No. What nobody disputes is that Governor Romney's proposed $5 trillion in tax cuts that would be skewed to the wealthy. What he says is, "I'm going to offset it with $5 trillion in tax increases in the form of closed loopholes and deductions." But he won't tell anybody what they are.

So what we know is he's got a tax cut that's going to favor the wealthy and he'll give us the details on how he's going to offset that later. And if I'm the middle class, I'm saying, "Watch out," because we know how this ends. We've seen this story before.

O'BRIEN: There were pretty volatile hearings yesterday in Congress over the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and the three other Americans in Benghazi. It seems to many people that the State Department, certainly, made numerous mistakes, but some have accused the White House of being involved as well. And there certainly are some statements, if you look specifically at what Jay Carney says - he didn't go as far as Ambassador Susan Rice, but close when he was pointing to the role of this videotape, which now seems to be completely disproven from what we heard from State Department employees on a phone call with reporters the other day.

What was the role of the White House in this?

AXELROD: Well, the role of the White House was to convey the information that we were receiving from our intelligence people on the ground and in the area. And that's what we've done throughout. No one has an interest in obscuring facts about this. The President, of all people, wants all the facts so that he can act on them and make sure that in the future, if there were deficiencies, that we address them.

The other thing is, and the primary task right now, is to find those who are responsible and bring them to justice. So we work with the facts that we have, as the facts emerge, the White House and the State Department have shared them. And now the task should be to ask, "What do we need to do in the future to guard against this kind of a situation?"

One thing we shouldn't do, however, Soledad, is what Paul Ryan and the Republicans in Congress have suggested, which is to cut back on funding for the security of these facilities.

O'BRIEN: But there are people who've said you didn't share the facts that you had, unless it's really taken a full month to figure out that there was no actual protest outside of the Benghazi mission. I mean, already a month later, we're just learning that what was supposed to have been a protest that morphed into this terror attack actually never really happened.

AXELROD: Well, I think the intelligence community has spoken to that and, you know, there's no doubt that the videotape created turmoil around the world and I don't think anybody disputes that fact. We now know more about this particular attack and as we've learned those facts, we've shared them. And there's no reason not to share them. The goal has to be to solve whatever deficiencies there were and make sure that our diplomats all over world are secure.

We send people into dangerous places. That's part of the job. And we need to make sure that, to the extent possible, we're protecting those diplomats. And nobody feels more strongly about that, Soledad, than the President of the United States.

O'BRIEN: When President Obama was on Tom Joyner's "Morning Show", he told him that he was - what was the word he used, Roland? He used - he was talking about his debate performance.

He was "too polite". Forgive me. He said he was too polite.

And there were many people who've said the President who has "a natural aloofness", which has been written about many times, that this is catching up to him, that he's connecting with the people, and that the campaign is actually in some disarray. Is that true?

AXELROD: No, I don't think so at all. And if you look even the polling data that you're getting, now there's no doubt that Governor Romney picked up a couple of points -

O'BRIEN: Sorry for that. Someone playing a very loud B-roll of the debate. My apologies.

AXELROD: That's OK. If you look at the polling, there's no doubt that, traditionally, the challenger picks up 1 to 3 points after a debate. Mr. Romney's collected somewhere in the middle of that in these polls. But if you look inside those polls and you ask the question, "Who's going to fight for you? Who understands your problems? Who will stand up for the middle class?" The President has very large margins on those questions.

So the notion that he's not connecting with people, that they don't understand that he's an advocate for them, that he doesn't - that the notion that somehow he doesn't get their lives., that's not true at all. In fact, the reason that he's been ahead in this race throughout is that because people do understand that he comes to the office every single day animated by his own experience in life and those of the thousands of people he comes into contact with over the course of a week through his letters, through contacts, discussions.

He is out there, fighting every day for the middle class. That's really a big issue in this campaign. Are we going to have an economy that's animated by that value and that principle that we're going to grow this economy by building middle class, or are we going to go back to the top-down tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulate Wall Street formula that got us into this mess in the first place?

O'BRIEN: How worried are you though? I get what you're saying. At the same time you saw movement from the debate, right? You can have all the connecting data you want. At the end of the day, it was Mitt Romney who won that debate. How concerned are you about the next debate?

AXELROD: I'm not concerned about the next debate. I know the President very well and know how determined he is, going into that debate. And primarily, Soledad, I'm not worried because the President has the right message. He has the right values and he has the right prescriptions for this country.

And ultimately, that's why Mitt Romney is trying to fudge his own positions right now because he understands he is on the losing side of this debate. He wants to take us back to the very policies that got us into this mess, the President wants to take us forward, pursue policies that are going to build the middle class, and continue this recovery and strengthen it.

O'BRIEN: David Axelrod is an Obama campaign senior adviser, joining us this morning. Nice to see you. Thank you for talking with us.

AXELROD: Nice to see you. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: You can watch the V.P. debate right here on CNN and as well.

Coverage begins at 7:00 pm. I'll be heading there right after the program this morning.

John Berman has got a look at some of the other stories making news. What you got?


A body found in the search for a missing 10-year-old Colorado girl. Police in Westminster will hold a news conference after finding a body at a park in Arvada, not far from where Jessica Ridgeway was last seen. But for now, investigators say they cannot make a connection to the Ridgeway case.

Yesterday, police announced that they had cleared Jessica's parents and were treating her disappearance as an abduction.

A man who was trapped under a huge slab of concrete for 13 hours was pulled from the rubble alive. Early this morning at the site of a parking garage collapse in Doral, Florida, that collapse left three workers dead. The five-story garage was under construction when the structure gave way late yesterday morning with dozens of workers inside.

A senior security official at the U.S. embassy in Sana'a, Yemen, has been shot to death in a drive-by killing on his way to work. Officials say the victim was a Yemeni national, employed by the U.S. embassy. The same embassy in Sana'a was targeted by protesters last month over an anti-Muslim film produced here in America.

And, man, if you were asleep, you missed out. Two fantastic finishes last night in the American League divisional series.

The Yankees' Raul Ibanez with a walk-off homer in the 12th inning to beat the Baltimore Orioles. The amazing thing, this was his second blast of the night. He hit one to tie the game in the ninth inning.

And get this, pinch-hitting for the highest paid player of the game, Alex Rodriguez. Pinch-hitting for A-Rod.

Game four is tonight at Yankee Stadium. The Yanks now lead two games to one.

Meantime, not to be outdone, the Oakland A's, down two and facing elimination, turn (INAUDIBLE) gets walk-off single by Coco Crisp to deliver victory, sending their series with Detroit to a fifth and deciding game tonight in Oakland. There was one out in the night there. And the A's came back to send this to a fifth game.

Some sports news not nearly as exhilarating. A youth football game in northern California ends with the coaches throwing punches at each other. Brawl right in front of players, parents and, yes, even cheerleaders. Not the cheerleaders. It was captured on video and posted on YouTube by a player's stepmom who commented they weren't being good role models.

O'BRIEN: You think? That might be the understatement of the year.

BERMAN: It was not clear if these not so good role models will be punished. O'BRIEN: I hope so. That's ridiculous. I mean, how do you tell kids not to do that? It's like their coach is beating up some other coach.

BEN SMITH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BUZZFEED: I like the cheerleaders jumping in, though.

MARTIN: They got the swing, Ibanez, $1.1 million, that's how much he makes.

BERMAN: Like one at-bat for A-Rod.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT. It's being called the most sophisticated and successful doping program that cycling has ever seen. We'll tell you what in 1,000 pages of evidence against Lance Armstrong. A live report is up next.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT.

Lance Armstrong's former teammates are singing and loudly in a new report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Armstrong's former teammates reveal the ways they and the seven-time Tour de France winner beat the sports drug testing program, using saline injections, blood transfusions and backdated prescriptions. Report said that the team engaged in the most sophisticated professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen. Lance Armstrong's attorney says this is a witch hunt.


TIM HERMAN, LANCE ARMSTRONG'S ATTORNEY: I'm not suggesting that they are all lying, but I am suggesting that each witness needs to have a confrontation and cross examination to test the accuracy of their recollection.


O'BRIEN: Pedro Pinto is live from London this morning with more. You know you heard the attorney there saying I'm not saying they're lying but they should grill all those guys to prove they're not lying. Tell me what else is in this report?

PEDRO PINTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, it's incredible. It's a thousand-page report, released by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. And, of course, I didn't read every single word of it, but I have been studying it. There are sordid details of the amount of sophistication and amount of technology that went into what Lance Armstrong was doing during the Tour de France. And there's 26 testimonies, 11 of which from his former teammates. They talk about hotel rooms being transformed into blood transfusion centers, They talk about Armstrong freezing his own blood to use it again later, they talk about his ex- wife being involved in handing out pills to his teammates. It's unbelievable.

I've always respected Lance Armstrong a lot. I had an opportunity to interview him a few years ago. It was one of the highlights of my career as far as interviews go. And then you see something like this happen , and it's really a case where you can use that phrase going from "hero to zero" so quickly. And I think everybody is shocked and this report has shed some light on what was going on behind the scenes.

O'BRIEN: The report is absolutely devastating. Thank you for the update on this story. We appreciate it.

We've got to take a short break, but still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, you heard the President say he was just too polite and that's why he did not do well in the debate. Is that just another excuse for a lackluster performance? We'll talk about that. We're back in just a moment.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans. Minding your business now. U.S. stock futures are up. Ahead in a report on jobless claims that comes out in just a few minutes. A lot of uncertainty though in the markets, guys. A big reason is Europe's debt crisis; Standard & Poor's downgraded Spain's credit rating overnight, citing risks to economic growth and budget problems.

More evidence though the housing market in the U.S. is healing, foreclosures are at a five-year low. That's according to real estate tracking firm Realty Track.

A hacker named Pinkie Pie is $60,000 richer this morning. Google awarded the bug bounty to a teenage boy that goes by that handle, Pinkie Pie, for finding holes in Google's Chrome software during a hacker competition. It's the second time this team has won, 60 grand for breaking into chrome. And by the way it's 10/11/12 today, everybody. I'm not sure what it means for our luck or anything, but it is 10/11/12.

O'BRIEN: I think it's good luck.

ROMANS: I vote for that.

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



O'BRIEN: We are just hours away from tonight's Vice Presidential Debate. For the first time since the matchup against Mitt Romney, President Obama is admitting his performance may have left something to be desired, on account of people were saying that the last week. Listen.


OBAMA: Well, Governor Romney had a good night. I had a bad night. SAWYER: How bad?

OBAMA: Well, it's not the first time I've had a bad night but I think what's important is that the fundamentals of what this race is about haven't changed.


O'BRIEN: Those remarks come after a flurry of early defenses from the Obama campaign. There was blaming the dishonesty. Who were you talking to the other day? Dick Durbin, right? Wasn't he the one who was saying he was so stunned by the President -- by Mitt Romney lying that he just couldn't get an answer out?


O'BRIEN: And then, of course, the whole pressure from the high altitude comments. I'm just throwing them -- I don't make them up. I just repeat them. "Times" columnist Joel Stein, is burning his book (ph). His book called "Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity." We talked about it not too long ago. Let's talk a little bit about the V.P. Debate. You're going to be watching it, obviously.

JOEL STEIN, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I am. I'm going to be at a book thing, which will have wine from this winery, Stark Raving. So it'll be kind of a drinking game. Hopefully there will be a TV there where I can watch it.

O'BRIEN: Yeah, so you are an expert in drinking games. I'm not sure there is an expert in the field of drinking games.


STEIN: No. I have very little expertise and that's one of them.

O'BRIEN: Well so walk me through some of the drinking games that people plant o have around the presidential -- vice presidential debates.

STEIN: Yeah well, that the way to keep these debates interesting. I will be drinking this Stark Raving wine. Because I'm Jewish. I have Jew stomach, so I can't drink that much. So I won't be doing shots, I'm just going to -


STEIN: -- with wine. So that's what I recommend to people. You don't want ot go crazy because the things I'm going to recommend require a lot of sips.

O'BRIEN: Okay, so drinking game.

STEIN: Every time Joe Biden mentions Amtrak, you have to take a sip. Every time he refers himself in third person. Every --

BERMAN: That's a good one. STEIN: Yeah, that's a good one. He calls himself Joe more that his wife. And every time he mentions Medicare I think we should drink. Any time Paul Ryan's hair moves, I think we should drink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That means you'll be sober.


BERMAN: Do you think we should drink every time we hear terms like 47 percent or war on women. Will tonight be a night --

O'BRIEN: Or Big Bird.

BERMAN: Or Big Bird. Will we hear these terms tonight?

O'BRIEN: I'm going to day yes.

BERMAN: Can you get drunk on those?

STEIN: You think you'll hear war on women? That much?

BERMAN: I'm asking you, Joe. You're the guest here.

STEIN: I don't know I -

O'BRIEN: You're the drinking game expert apparently.

STEIN: Yes. I'm going to say yes, you could drink on war on women. I wouldn't count on that, I wouldn't count on 47 percent. They seem like they've been holding back a little bit.


O'BRIEN: You don't think so, Ben?

SMITH: No I think that holding back did not work so well last time. I think you'll see Biden doing -- for all that - I think that Joe Biden comes in with this incredible expectation that he's like Indian Joe Biden, that he might take his shirt off on stage and wash down the podium. And he's also not -- he's not very popular. And so I think he has this great opportunity to come in and seem like less crazy than Americans in some kind of cultural sense think he is.


ROLAND MARTIN, HOST, "WASHINGTON WATCH WITH ROLAND MARTIN": Here is what people don't realize about Vice President Joe Biden. First of all, four decades, extremely experienced, was over the House Judiciary Committee, Supreme Court justices. More importantly, he was the lead negotiator for the President during the deficit conversations. And so Congressman Ryan is not going to be able to say I'm the budget guy. Biden will be able to say I was once sitting across the table from speaker John Boehner, having those discussions.

O'BRIEN: Maybe that bodes well for some kind of heft and substance to the debate. (CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Absolutely. And we'll see the Foreign Relations Committee and then I was going to add this other piece. Biden will relish having to save the President's butt at the debate.


BERMAN: Well they're all a little nervous. If you see --

O'BRIEN: You think?

BERMAN: You see Joe Biden's put me in coach, put me in coach (ph). There's some -


BERMAN: There's a little nervousness there.

STEIN: I can't get the image of a shirtless Joe Biden washing down the podium out of my head.


O'BRIEN: My eyes are burned, I believe.

MARTIN: I'll tell you what, if he has a good night he will walk off and tell the President, yes, you owe me for that one.

BERMAN: Teeth just sparkling.

O'BRIEN: Of course.

MARTIN: But you should drink every time they mention Scranton. Trust me, you will be drunk.

ROMANS: What about middle class? I think you would not even make it through the debate if you drink every time they say middle class.

O'BRIEN: I'll be working so I won't be drinking, but I'll check in on everybody else -

MARTIN: You want to be sober? They won't say poor. You will not hear poverty.

BERMAN: How about every time they mention their parents?

O'BRIEN:: Yeah, you're drinking. No question.

ROMANS: Middle class and parents. Those are the two big ones.

O'BRIEN: The debate of course is tonight. A live look at tonight's debate hall right now in Danville, Kentucky. Earlier, we talked a little bit about the Democratic take, on how it's going to go. Next we're going to get a Republican reaction to the debate. We're going to talk to Congressman Reid Ribble about that. And he's tall, yellow, and has ruffled feathers.

MARTIN: Leave him alone.

O'BRIEN: In the election season, I'm talking about Big Bird, Roland. There's an impact -- can I finish? May I finish? There's an impact on what's happening, all the conversation with Big Bird in the election and debate conversations to what we're going to see at Halloween. You can guess. That's straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Just in, the latest jobless numbers. Christine Romans has a look for us. What have you got?

ROMANS: A big drop in the number of people ling up for the very first time for unemployment benefits last week. And 339,000 unemployment claims were filed for the very first time. That's a big drop from the week before. 30,000 fewer claims filed.

I want to put this in perspective for you. I tell you this every week. This is the trend. If you look at this chart from the St. Louis fed, this is the trend of jobless claims back to '07. Right now at the very end, it's continuing to trend lower, a lot better than that huge Spike beginning in the recession of 2009.

MARTIN: I'm watching to see what Jack Welch tweets.


ROMANS: Dow futures are up 55 points right now.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. Thanks, Christine, appreciate it.

Other stories making news. John has that for us.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. Demands for more FDA oversight as the death toll in the fungal meningitis outbreak goes up. Two lawmakers are introducing two bills to strengthen the FDA's ability to oversee, compounding facilities, including NECC. And a total of 12 people have died, at least 137 infected in 11 states. The hardest hit states, Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, and Maryland.

BERMAN: A pretrial hearing in Colorado in the case of Aurora shooting suspect James Holmes, accused of killing 12 poem and wounded 58 others during a packed midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in July. The defense requests to sanction the state for leaks to the news media.

The fate of the University of Texas affirmative action program rests with the Supreme Court. Justices heard oral arguments that could impact public and private colleges. Abigail Fisher sued the University of Texas, saying she was denied admission to her dream school because she was white.

After being mentioned by Mitt Romney, Big Bird -- of course, Romney said he would cut funding for PBS. The feathery character is more popular than ever, now. The eight-foot tall yellow bird is going to be one of this year's hottest Halloween costumes. Workers at costume shop companies say big bird outfits have been flying off the shelves.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Everybody knows Big Bird doesn't fly, everyone.


BERMAN: Except for Mitt Romney.

O'BRIEN: Metaphorically speaking, of course.

MARTIN: Thanks, Will. You wrecked it.

CAIN: I'm sorry, kids. Big bird does not take flight.

O'BRIEN: My daughter was Big Bird last year. She kind of missed the whole thing.

MARTIN: She was ahead of her time.

O'BRIEN: Leading edge, which was a mistake.


O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at Danville -- debate hall in Danville, Kentucky, Vice President Joe Biden versus Paul Ryan. We'll, of course, be carrying that live for you here on CNN. Much has been made about Biden's experience on the debate stage. Even his opponents have been talking about it. What degree will it matter?

I want to bring in Republican Congressman Reid Ribble. He's like Paul Ryan. He's from the state of Wisconsin. He serves on the House Budget Committee.

It's nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us. I want to walk you through some of the op-eds that have been written about how they expect it's going to go. And as you can imagine, people have gone, like, I think, completely over the edge on it.

Here is what the South Carolina Democratic chairman, Dick Harpootlian, said, "Joe's go going to take out the old meat-ax and to work. We're going to have to call the Humane Society." That was from "Politico."

David Brooks said this: "I'm thinking more on the lines of a feral wolverine. I'm thinking of him leaping across the stage and sinking his disturbingly perfect teeth into Ryan's next."

The violence in these descriptions is disturbing. How do you expect the debate to go?

REP. REID RIBBLE, (R-WI) HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE MEMBER: It's not going to go like that. There's going to be a pretty robust debate, for sure. I think the Vice President will be pretty direct in his comments about what the Obama administration's plans are. He's going to have a tough time debating the record. We saw that last week with Governor Romney and President Obama. When it actually got to the record they struggled a little bit. The Vice President is a confident debater. If you look at debates historically, the older, more senior person often has the upper hand. Not always but often.

O'BRIEN: You're looking at a decent age gap between the two men. Do you think age plays a role in this?

RIBBLE: I think so. Now it's a situation, is it going to be more Reagan-esque or more John Kennedy? If the younger guy is able to carry his own. And I know Paul Ryan really well. He's a good friend of mine. This guy is smart and is experienced and he understands the numbers.

CAIN: Congressman?

RIBBLE: He will do OK but will have his hands full.

CAIN: One of the things Paul Ryan is known for is specifics and figures and data. One of the things that Mitt Romney hasn't been doing lately is filling in the data and giving specifics on his tax plan and budget plan. What kind of challenge does that pose to Paul Ryan tonight if he's faced with questions like that?

RIBBLE: I don't think it poses a big challenge. I think they'll try to present it in a way that the American people can understand. Let's face the facts. If you get too much in the weeds on numbers, people's eyes glaze over and they don't understand it if you start talking about the difference of the CBO baseline and OMB baseline. You start going down that path it's hard to maintain any attention level. I think they'll get into the weeds enough that they can explain it but keep it simple enough at the 30,000 foot view so that the American people will understand it.

O'BRIEN: But don't you think that there is -- I agree, you can go into the weeds deep on this stuff. Everyone around this table have been reading CBO reports for way too long, you, included, I'm sure. But there's middle ground like what are you going to cut? Won't that have to be spelled out by Paul Ryan tonight?

RIBBLE: Sure, he's going to have to spell it out. Vice President Biden is going to need to spell it out. We hear a lot about how partisan this Congress is. Let me tell you, as a freshman member, the most bipartisan vote I experienced was when the President's own budget was defeated 414-0. You talk about bipartisan voting there, not a single member of Congress on either side voted for it. And Vice President Biden will have to answer to that as well. Both sides will have a healthy debate on the budget. They'll get into the weeds a bit. But I don't think they're going to go really deep into it. I really don't.

MARTIN: Last debate President Obama brought up the fact that in one of the Republican debates Mitt Romney was asked that if he could get 10 cuts for one revenue increase, even he wouldn't support that. How can Congressman Ryan make the case about deficit control when even mitt Romney could not even take that suggestion, 10 to one? RIBBLE: I think Congressman Ryan is likely to say if you implement the correct economic policies going forward, if you have the right regulatory framework for job creators in this country, right tax framework that you're going to grow the economy and increase revenue and that's how you build revenue into this system and into the budget. And I think Congressman Ryan will be able to defend that and make that case tonight.

O'BRIEN: Want to get a quick question in?

SMITH: Yes, Congressman. Republicans have been hammering Joe Biden as this gaffe-prone figure, somebody who isn't quite ready to be Vice President. You talked to Ryan about Biden. What does he think of Biden? Does he respect Biden, does he think he's capable of leading, of being President, essentially?

RIBBLE: Yes, he has a lot of respect for both Joe Biden and Barack Obama. Listen, Paul Ryan is a real, genuine American who appreciates the work done by any member of the official government, whether it's the President or whether it's a member of Congress, U.S. Senate. There's a great amount of respect there.

And I don't think that's going to be the case. Obviously the Vice President has had his gaffes that he's had in speeches along the way; he's known for that. But he is also known to be a very competent debater. He's a deep thinker, I believe. I think he's going to prepare really well for tonight's debate.

It's going to be an interesting evening to watch. If either of these candidates make it about them, I think they're making a mistake. This is about Governor Romney and about President Obama and I think they're both going to be focused on that.

O'BRIEN: That's an interesting point, I think. A lot people think that the VP debate is sort of not all that important in these discussions. Reid Ribble is a Congressman from Wisconsin. Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for talking with us. Certainly appreciate it.

RIBBLE: Thanks, Soledad, thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: You bet. We're got to take a break. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Tonight's debate in this hall -- let's take a shot of it, Danville, Kentucky, expected to be a lot different than four years ago when Sarah Palin was on the stage.

Dana Bash sat down exclusively with Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, to talk about that.


DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The only other person to debate Joe Biden in a presidential debate is Sarah Palin. Have you called her for advice?

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You know I haven't. I don't really know her, I only met her once, and that was about two years ago.

BASH: Would you call her?

RYAN: Sure, sure.



BASH: She famously or maybe infamously said that she wanted to call him Joe because she kept calling him Joe O'Biden in debate prepping --

RYAN: Well you I -- I've known Joe a long time and so I did call him Joe.

BASH: So you're not going to --


RYAN: Well, he knows me as Paul and I know him as Joe, I don't know. I haven't given much thought to that to be honest with you. Probably not unless he want to make it casual. But we know each other. I actually we've gotten along quite well over the years. You know I like Joe personally quite a bit. I just disagree with his policies.


O'BRIEN: You can catch the rest of that exclusive interview tonight during our live coverage of the vice presidential debate. That coverage will begin at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN and

Coming up this morning, a 14-year-old Taliban -- anti-Taliban activist is fighting to stay alive. This is a horrific story. She was shot by Taliban thugs. Reza Sayah spoke to her and he's going to join us with his report up next.

Stay with us.


COSTELLO: Welcome back everybody.

There are now plans to transfer a critically wounded anti-Taliban activist, who is 14 years old. This is a picture of her on the surgery. She's going to be moved to a different hospital in Pakistan. Three military officials say they need to move Malala Yousufzai from the military hospital in Peshawar to a hospital in Rawalpindi.

Taliban gunmen have targeted her, they hit her on Tuesday for her social media activism. She supports education for girls and women and there's been widespread condemnation of the attack and -- and lots of support as well for the young woman from the United Nations and from Washington, D.C. Listen.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: She was attacked and shot by extremists, who don't want girls to have an education and don't want girls to speak for themselves and don't want girls to become leaders who are, for a variety of reasons, threatened by that kind of empowerment.


O'BRIEN: She is 14 years old. Reza Sayah interviewed Malala last year and he joins us this morning from Islamabad. Tell me a little bit about the hospital transfer and what's going to happen to her?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, the transfer has taken place. It took place about an hour ago, Malala being transferred from a hospital in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan where she had been treated over the past 24 to 36 hours to a hospital in the garrison city of Rawalpindi which is right next to where we are in Islamabad.

We have a CNN producer at that hospital. He described quite a scene when Malala arrived with a helicopter. Once the helicopter landed, he says the convoy of about 20 vehicles, many of them military vehicles with armed security personnel escorted Malala to this hospital. That's where she is right now.

We have to be careful when describing her medical condition because we don't know a lot of details. But it looks like over the -- the overnight hours her condition deteriorated. She has a condition that, according to doctors, is called cerebral edema, the swelling of the brain. So still touch and go for this girl that's captured a lot of hearts in this region.


SAYAH (on camera): So why do you risk your life to raise your voice?

MALALA YOUSUFZAI, EDUCATION ACTIVIST: Because I thought that my people need me and I shall raise my voice because -- because if I didn't raise my voice now so when will I raise my voice?

SAYAH: Some people might say you're 14. You don't have any rights. You just have to listen to mom and dad.

YOUSUFZAI: No. I have rights. I have the right of education. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up.

SAYAH: But what if you give that advice to a girl who may not be as courageous as you and she says "Malala, I'm afraid. I just want to stay in my room."

YOUSUFZAI: So I tell her that don't stay in your room because God will ask you on the day of judgment, where were you when your people were asking you, when your school fellows were asking you? And when your school was asking you that I am being blown up. When your people need you, you should come up. You should come and you should stand up for their rights.

SAYAH: If you were the president of this country, how would you handle the Taliban?

YOUSUFZAI: First of all, I would like to build so many schools in this country because education is a must thing. If you have -- if you don't have educated people so the Taliban will come to your area. But if you have educated people, they will not come.


SAYAH: That was an interview we did with Malala late last year. Just a remarkable girl. She didn't back down to any of the questions we put to her. And just listening to her, you get an idea why so many people are pulling for her to survive.

O'BRIEN: Oh my goodness. Us too. Reza Sayah for us this morning thank you for talking to us and sharing a little bit of her interview.

SAYAH: I love her. I love her.

O'BRIEN: Wow, wow and now she's fighting for her life.

All right, we've got to take a break. "End Point" is up next.


O'BRIEN: All right. Time for "End Point". Who wants to start?

BERMAN: Let's talk about Malala Yousufzai. If you don't think -- if you don't think elections are important, if you don't think debates are important, you don't think freedom are important, look at this girl in Pakistan and what she's paid to stand up for what she believes in.

O'BRIEN: Hard to believe she's 14.

CAIN: Will that shift public opinion; the Taliban does still has some public support in Pakistan. The details of this can't be overlooked. They walked up to a school bus, pulled a 14-year-old girl out, shot her in the head. Will that shift opinion away from the Taliban and Pakistan?

MARTIN: I hope in Afghanistan she becomes their Emmett Till that took place 1954 galvanized the country. That's what changed it. Young folks lived the civil rights movement. I hope it happens there. That's a brave young girl.

SMITH : And I think you also saw the beginning of what Hillary Clinton is going to spend the next four years doing after she leaves the State Department which is campaigning at exactly this kind of issue, young women's rights globally. O'BRIEN: Yes the U.N. is dealing a lot of that, the "girl up" right? Really trying to raise the awareness about the power -- the potential power of girls all over world.

MARTIN: And I love her challenge to other young people.

O'BRIEN: Yes, she's hard core.

MARTIN: Yes love it.

O'BRIEN: That young lady. We're certainly praying for her.

MARTIN: Pray for her. Pray for her.

O'BRIEN: That was a great, great interview Reza did.

All right, tomorrow on STARTING POINT, complete post debate -- easy for me to say -- post debate coverage, live from Danville, Kentucky. I'm heading there right after the show.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Don Lemon begins right now. I'll see everybody tomorrow morning.

Hey, Don. Good morning.