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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Vice Presidential Debate Assessed; Housing Market Improves; Woman Sues NECC Over Injections; Titans Beat Steelers; Shuttle Endeavour On Parade; Search For Missing Colorado Girl; Another Hearing To Shave Hasan's Beard; Michael Vick's A Dog Owner

Aired October 12, 2012 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Morning. Welcome, everybody. Our starting point this morning, a high stakes debate with both sides on the attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With all due respect that's a bunch of malarkey.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think the Vice President very well knows that sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way. Mr. Vice President I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground.

(LAUGHTER)

RYAN: Lower tax rates increase growth.

BIDEN: Now you're Jack Kennedy?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: The interruptions, the facial expressions, and the facts. We're going to have the high lights, the low lights, the arguments and a fact check as well on the candidates' claims. It's Friday October 12th. STARTING POINT comes to you live from Danville, Kentucky.

Good morning, welcome everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're coming to you live this morning from center college here in Danville, Kentucky. Things last night right here were pretty heated between the vice presidential candidates, no one had a bad night. Nobody was too polite. Instead Joe Biden, Paul Ryan, simply let it fly and when it was over the American people scored it a draw. CNN/ORC poll of debate watchers showed that 48 percent felt that Paul Ryan won, 44 percent said that the Vice President Joe Biden won. Of course that would be a statistical tie when you calculate in the margin of error. We begin with CNN's Dana Bash with some of the highlights of the night. Good morning.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. We were here. We watched it all. You really could feel the intensity of it from the beginning. All 90 minutes. It was very intense. There were some smiles and smirks on both sides. But all in all it was very substantive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: These were two men who both came ready to tangle.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: On taxes.

RYAN: You can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important preferences for middle class taxpayers.

BASH: Not mathematically possible.

RYAN: It is mathematically possible.

BASH: On Medicare.

BIDEN: They just allow Medicare to bargain for the cost of drugs like Medicaid can, that would save $156 billion right off the bat.

RYAN: And it would deny seniors choices.

BASH: On the President's foreign policy.

RYAN: When we look weak our adversaries are much more willing to test us, they're more brazen in their attacks and our allies are less willing --

BIDEN: With all due respect that's a bunch of malarkey.

BASH: The Vice President appeared determined to make up for President Obama's mistakes last week. Almost immediately launching the attack lines Obama never used in his debate.

BIDEN: It shouldn't be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives. My neighbors, they pay more effective tax than Governor Romney pays in his federal income tax.

BASH: Before the debate, CNN was told Paul Ryan's team anticipated Biden being aggressive where the President was not, especially on Mitt Romney's infamous 47 percent remark.

BIDEN: Mr. Romney's a good man.

BASH: Ryan was ready with a well-practiced retort.

RYAN: With respect to that quote, I think the Vice President very well knows that sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way.

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: I always say what I mean.

BASH: Biden's recovery plan for a demoralized democratic base was not just in what he said but what he did.

RYAN: In spate of their opposition --

BIDEN: Oh, gosh.

BASH: The President was criticized for not interrupting. Biden jumped in constantly.

RYAN: As a result of this --

BIDEN: It's not --

RYAN: What we're saying.

BIDEN: But --

RYAN: Mr. Vice President.

BASH: The President was slammed for nodding as Romney spoke.

Biden used the split screen to give a running commentary of disapproval with his facial expressions. Ryan had a zinger ready for all that, too.

RYAN: I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground.

(LAUGHTER)

RYAN: But I think it will be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other.

BASH: For 90 minutes voters saw two dramatically different visions on the economy.

BIDEN: The last people who need help are 120,000 families for another for another $500 billion tax cut over the next ten years.

RYAN: Our entire premise of these tax reform plans is to grow the economy and create jobs.

BASH: To national security threats like a nuclear Iran.

RYAN: And if they get nuclear weapons, other people in the neighborhood will pursue their nuclear weapons, as well.

BIDEN: War should always be the absolute last resort.

BASH: For the most part it was a substantive debate between two longtime lawmakers who tried to disagree without being too disagreeable.

BIDEN: When my friend talks about --

BASH: Biden avoided any trademark gaffes but did provide a little levity.

BIDEN: This is a bunch of stuff. Look, here's the deal --

MARTHA RADDATZ, MODERATOR: What does that mean a bunch of stuff?

BIDEN: Well, it means it's simply inaccurate.

RYAN: It's Irish.

BIDEN: We Irish call it malarkey.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: So much to talk about out of this debate. Martha Raddatz, I thought she was terrific.

BASH: Absolutely. If there was a winner because it was a draw between the two candidates, Martha Raddatz. She was commanding. She followed up when she need to. She pressed them on specifics.

O'BRIEN: She also let them go a little bit and had some arguing.

BASH: Perfect.

O'BRIEN: You know, if you went on twitter, as I did, after and said that I thought it was a draw, people on both sides completely hammered me because there was a sense Joe Biden's people thought Joe Biden won. Paul Ryan's people thought Paul Ryan definitively won. When end of the day they're appealing to the middle.

BASH: There's so few undecideds at this point that that is a big reason, we're told, why Joe Biden did what he did, because the democratic base was really deflated, demoralized, after the President didn't deliver from their perspective. That's why he was frankly in many ways over the top. In some ways that's who he is, but it's why he did what he did. If you talk about what happened in the spin room afterwards, that was the big debate -- was he disrespectful for Joe being Joe?

O'BRIEN: You won't be surprised to hear that both sides went into full spin mode in that spin room, that conversation happened. You can listen to both people immediately afterwards talk about how their candidate won the debate. Everything was under the microscope, including Ryan's level of experience and Joe Biden's interruptions and his facial expressions, as Dana just said. Here's a little listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM MESSINA, OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I think Congressman Ryan was out of his depth, and showed clearly that the ticket is not ready for primetime on foreign policy. I think that was a decisive difference between the two sides.

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIR: I thought it was a great nice for us. I was excited for Paul. He was solid. He had a command of the issues. Quite frankly I was embarrassed for the Vice President. I mean the laughs. We counted 82 times that Joe Biden interrupted Paul Ryan.

BEAU BIDEN, SON OF JOE BIDEN: If the only criticism comes from the right and from some folks out there is that he smiled too much, I'll take that any day. My father was enjoying the opportunity to debate Congressman Ryan on a very important issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Not exactly a surprise that there was spin from the spin room. We want to get right to Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. He played Paul Ryan in the Vice President's debate prep. You were the guy who was responsible to push the Vice President. When you watched it actually unfold in real life, how do you think it went?

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D) MARYLAND: I thought the Vice President did a great job. Look, Joe Biden is a fighter for the middle class. He's passionate about these issues. That came through. And he also marshaled the facts to show that the Romney/Ryan plan would be really bad for the middle class. So I think all in all he was a great debate for the American people, and the choice is clear today.

O'BRIEN: I think they did a good job in sort of delineating their two very different positions and both campaigns have said this is going to be about two very different pathways. Lots of criticism, though, from the -- for people who watch Joe Biden, said that they thought his facial expressions, the eye rolling, the laughing, some thought it was disrespectful.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I would disagree. I think Joe Biden is passionate about the middle class issues. And you can feel his emotion. He speaks from the heart. And there were times that Paul Ryan said things that, as the Vice President said, were just malarkey. Normal people react to those kinds of things. So, look, I know some Republicans want to focus on style but what was important was the substance. What the Vice President did was show that the Romney/Ryan tax plan at the end of the day will not help the middle class. It will help the very wealthy. He made it clear that their voucher plan for Medicare will pass additional costs on to seniors, and again hurt seniors who have a median income of $23,000. I thought he did a really good job clarifying the choice.

O'BRIEN: You know, Kristol of "The Washington Post" said, it felt to us like he, talking about Joe Biden, went a little bit overboard and at times bordered on bullying Ryan. Smiles and laughs while Ryan was tried to answer questions weren't great optics for the Vice President and his repeated interruptions won't make those who think politics should be more civil." If it's not just about energizing your base, certainly people were like my guy won on both sides but it's about this sort of undecided middle isn't there a risk in being what I think some people thought was you know disrespectful. Or at least --

VAN HOLLEN: I think that the Vice President, his passion came through. He cares about these issues. As for undecided voters, the CNN poll was of all viewers, but CBS did a poll specifically of undecided voters who were watching the debate, and Joe Biden won overwhelmingly, 53 percent to 35 percent, something in that range. Those are the voters that people are looking for right now. They clearly said Joe Biden was the winner.

O'BRIEN: One of our polls CNN/ORC poll, they said who was more likable. And it was Paul Ryan who won by a decent margin. Almost 10 percent margin there. Also, who performed better at the debate? That looked like a tie from our perspective.

VAN HOLLEN: That was a poll of all the viewers. It was, as you indicated earlier, slighted weighted towards Republicans.

O'BRIEN: This was debate watchers.

VAN HOLLEN: Right. But the CBS poll was debate watchers who were undecided going in. And they gave the clear victory to Joe Biden.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about Paul Ryan on tax cuts. I want to play a little bit from the debate.

VAN HOLLEN: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: There aren't enough rich people in small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending. So the next time you hear them say don't worry about it, we'll get a few wealthy people to pay their fair share, watch out middle class. The tax bill is coming to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: What I thought was interesting and more interesting about this particular debate was that the candidates were able to kind of go at open other and some of that was a different format in the debate. Didn't Paul Ryan have a point, both of them are calling each other on sort of the facts of what they have been claiming when it comes to numbers and math.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, except for one thing. The Vice President has never claimed that you can reduce our deficit through tax increases alone. He's never said that. The President and Vice President have said we need to take the ballad propose, using the kind of framework that bipartisan groups have suggested, whereas Republicans have been very clear not one more penny, even from people like Mitt Romney to reduce the deficit. So our point isn't that you can increase taxes on wealthier people, and do the whole thing on the deficit. Our point of review is that they should be asked to contribute a little more. Go back to paying what they were in the Clinton administration, when the economy was roaring. That's what we're saying.

We support a combination of additional targeted cuts but also revenue for folks who are doing very well to help reduce the deficit, because if you don't have one penny more from very wealthy people it means you sock it to everybody else. It means seniors on Medicare pay more. It means less investment in our kids' education. And that's exactly the Romney/Ryan budget does. It socks it to the middle class and seniors, in order to give these tax breaks to very wealthy people.

O'BRIEN: What do you think of the job Martha Raddatz did? VAN HOLLEN: I think she did a very good job. She never made herself the center of the debate.

O'BRIEN: She started off very strong with Benghazi. Want to play a little bit about what the Vice President said about security in Benghazi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Well, we weren't told we want more security. We did not know they wanted more security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Explain that to me. A lot of the testimony was, in fact, the, the, the government did know, that the State Department was well aware that there were requests for security. Doesn't that completely contradict exactly what we just saw in I think it was Wednesday's testimony?

VAN HOLLEN: What the Vice President is saying is that he and the President didn't know. This information had been communicated, at least according to the hearings, to the diplomatic security folks at the state department, and some others. But it wasn't communicated to the President. What the Vice President said here was number one we're going to get all the facts. Let's not jump to conclusions. Let's not shoot from the lip as Mitt Romney did by making a statement right after some of the chaos broke out. It was sort of universally agreed was that the wrong thing to do. And we're going to make sure we hunt down and find the killers just like they did Osama bin Laden. So I think the Vice President was very strong and clear on that.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Democrat from Maryland, thank you for talking with us.

During the debate we got a snapshot of what people were Googling. The top searches were "Biden," "conflating," "malarkey," a lot trying to figure out what malarkey meant, and who is winning the debate. Breaking down the top Google searches related to Biden, "Ryan debate" came in number one, then "how old is," then "laughing," and then "Jill." Breaking down the top searches related to Ryan, "Biden debate" was number one, then "how old is," then "shirtless," then "workout."

Coming up we're going to talk with Republican senator Ron Johnson. That's straight ahead. First we want to get right back to New York and top stories making news today outside of last night's debate. Good morning to you, John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad.

First up, rallying for Malala. More demonstrations this morning in support of 14-year-old anti-Taliban activist Malala Yuseh Zayeh. The Taliban targeted her because she's been a fierce critic of theirs. She's a staunch advocate for education and girls and women's rights. About 100 people were detained, accused of colluding with attackers who tried to assassinate her. Most of them have been released. Malala this morning, we're told, is in critical condition.

A veteran diplomat coming out of retirement to serve as the senior U.S. envoy in Libya. Laurence Pope is tapped for the diplomatic post a month after the death of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens in the Benghazi consulate attack. Pope retired from the Foreign Service twelve years ago.

The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize awarded just a couple of hours ago. It didn't go to a person, but the European Union takes the prize. The EU was formed out of the rubble of World War II and for more than six decades it has promoted democracy and reconciliation across Europe. The Nobel committee noted that the EU is now battling one of the worst economic crises ever.

Mission 26 is the shortest and slowest mission ever for the space shuttle Endeavour. The retired spacecraft began the journey overnight from LAX to its retirement home at the California science center. Big crowds are expected as Endeavour snakes its way through the straights of Los Angeles at a whopping two miles per hour. The 12-mile trip will make 46 hours, and it ends tomorrow night.

The Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants are a step closer to the world series. The Tigers shut out the Oakland A's to advance to the championship series. The giants posed out the reds to reach the NLCS after losing their first two games at home. They had to win three on the road which is pretty darn impressive. Their opponents will be decided tonight. The Baltimore Orioles beat the Yankees two to one in 13 innings in the Bronx to force a game five in their series. Everyone is rooting for the Orioles. The Washington nationals scored a walk-off win against the St. Louis Cardinals. That sets the stage for a game five in that series. I was in Washington when Jason worth hit that home run. Washington went bonkers. I swear you could hear the screams on the streets anywhere. Very exciting. Game five there as well. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: And how did your Red Sox do last night? Oh, wait a minute.

BERMAN: They didn't lose. They were undefeated yesterday, unlike the Yankees who were 0-1 yesterday. Take that malarkey.

O'BRIEN: The spin. Yes, you're right, malarkey. I call malarkey on you. All right, John, thank you.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, both Vice Presidential candidates asked if they can get unemployment under six percent. They both said they could do it. Is it a promise or is it just hot air? We're going to dig into the jobs issue and some of those numbers up next.

And then of course remember he went to prison for illegal dog fights. Michael Vick is up to something you may not believe. We're back in just a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: This is great. Today "Time" magazine published a punch of pictures of Paul Ryan working out. Have you guys seen these? Take a look at this one here. Yes!

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: Tin can Romney right there. Look at this one. This is one that really got me. I like this one. The next Vice President of the United States. Looks like Screech from "Saved by the Bell."

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. This just in to CNN, CEO JP Morgan Chase reporting record third quarter profits this morning. CEO Jamie Dimon says the housing market, housing has turned the corner. So clearly the economy is still the central issue of the 2012 campaign as well. Both Paul Ryan and Vice President Biden attacking each other's records on job creation last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: Look at where we are. The economy is barely limping along. It's growing at 1.3 percent. That's slower than it grew last year and last year was slower than the year before.

BIDEN: They talk about this great recession as if it fell out of the sky like oh, my goodness. Where did it come from? It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-dollar tax cut for very wealthy. I was there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The two men pitched plans to speed up job growth over the next four years, but as they say the devil is in the details.

Mark Zandi joins us now, chief economist with Moody's analytics. His new book is called "Paying the Price, Ending the Great Recession and Beginning a New American Century." Mark, let's start with JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon saying that the housing has turned a corner. We have seen housing prices start to move up. We've seen foreclosures at a five-year low. The unemployment rate at 7.8 percent. We have jobless claims at a four-year low. Is Joe Biden's recovery finally here 28 months later?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, "MOODY'S": Yes, it's happening. The economic recovery is in place. It's been in place for 3 1/2 years, and I think we're making progress. Obviously we're not going anywhere fast. The economy is not improving fast enough to bring down that unemployment rate. But we are improving, and the best news, most recently is the housing market. The housing market has turned the corner and of course housing was ground zero for our problems. The fact that it's turning up is very positive news.

ROMANS: Let's talk about from what he heard last night. Who has the plan to get the unemployment rate back to six percent or below?

ZANDI: The thing is I think regardless of who wins the election we're going to get there. The unemployment rate peaked at 10 percent just about three years ago. We're now at 7.8. I think it's very doable to get to six percent by the end of next president's term.

Whoever wins, though, has to address a number of fiscal issues earlier in their term. That's the fiscal cliff. The tax increases and spending cuts that are coming at the start of next year. The treasury debt ceiling has to be increased again. Summer before last, that was very painful. And either president has to lay out a credible path to deficit reduction to stabilize their debt load. If they can do that, and I think either president can, then our economy is going to, I think, get its groove back and I think we should be below six percent by the end of --

ROMANS: That's nice to hear. You say either president can. That's going to require leadership with a Congress that so far has not been amenable to, you know, making tough decisions at any time past the last minute or even punting on them. Yesterday Alan Simpson on CNBC had these choice words, shall we say, about the Congress that this president and the next president will have to deal with. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN SIMPSON: They really believe honestly that no Congress could be this stupid. And by god they can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: He's talking about people who think that they're going to be able to fix the fiscal cliff at the last minute because Congress will go along. That's kind of a very expressive thought.

ZANDI: Well, yes, and that's why businesses are so anxious, and not out hiring and investing right now because they have the same sentiment about congress.

The thing is, the interesting thing is both sides, Democrats, Republicans, have leverage. They both have a lot of lose. Tax rates are going up on everyone unless there's a piece of legislation that gives leverage to the Democrats. We have sequestration. Defending cuts, half defense, half nondefense. Republicans don't like the defense cuts. Democrats don't like the nondefense cuts. And we have the treasury debt ceiling. Whichever party doesn't win the election is going to use that to help support their side.

You know what, it's odd, but I think the political stars are actually aligned that we are going to get a deal. At least a reasonably good deal, solve these issues. And if we do, the good things that are happening in our underlying economy, what JP Morgan is talking about in the banking system, American businesses, all those things will start to shine through.

ROMANS: Maybe Congress won't be as stupid as Alan Simpson thinks it will be. I want to switch to taxes and this claim by the Romney/Ryan team campaign that they would cut tax rates by 20 percent, across the board, still maintaining tax, you know, tax breaks that are there for the middle class. They wouldn't get rid of middle-class deductions. But also they wouldn't be rolling back any kind of investment taxes either. I want you to listen to what Paul Ryan said last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: We want to work with the Congress and help us to achieve this. That means successful.

BIDEN: With no specifics.

RYAN: What we're saying is lower tax rates 20 percent, start with the wealthy, work with Congress --

RADDATZ: Can you guarantee this math will add up?

RYAN: Absolutely. Six studies have guaranteed. Six studies have verified that this math adds up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So to you does this math add up? Can you preserve the deductions for the middle class, cut tax rates, not add to the deficit, and cut tax rates across the board by 20 percent? I mean the Tax Policy Center says knowing what we know about their plan, it's not possible.

ZANDI: Yes, I think the Tax Policy Center study is the definitive study. They're nonpartisan, they're very good. They say given the numbers that they've been provided by the Romney campaign, no, it will not add up. Now, Romney campaign could adjust their plan. They could say OK I'm not going to lower tax rates as much as I'm saying right now and they could make the arithmetic work. But under the current plan with the current numbers, no it doesn't.

Also one other thing, though. I think it is important that we do focus on the so-called tax expenditures in the tax code, deductions and loopholes in the code. We need to reduce those, because if we do we're going to make the tax system fairer, easier to understand and ultimately lead to stronger growth. That's the right place to focus. But no, the arithmetic doesn't work as it is right now.

ROMANS: Mark Zandi, thanks so much.

ZANDI: Thank you.

ROMANS: STARTING POINT is back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. A few stories to tell you about. U.S. officials say agents along the U.S.-Mexican border were assaulted with rocks after they observed suspects dropping drugs into Arizona. An agent opened fire and apparently struck one of the suspects. Mexico claims that teenager was killed.

A Minnesota woman who says she was infected with a potentially tainted steroid injections is now suing NECC, the company at the center of the fungal meningitis outbreak. The nationwide death toll has claimed to 14 in this outbreak, 170 people who received the steroid injection are now infected. The CDC also says 14,000 people may have received tainted injections.

Now, the debate and the baseball playoffs maybe you forgot there was football last night. I sure missed it. The Tennessee Titans kicked a field goal late as time expired to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here it is, through the uprights. They win, 26-23 -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good shot. All right, John, thank you.

Well, after flying 25 missions in space, the shuttle Endeavour is taking a go-slow approach for mission number 26. It's a trip to its retirement home at the California Science Center.

You're looking at live pictures there. Endeavour is going to enjoy one long victory lap through the streets of L.A. for the rest of the day and then also into tomorrow.

CNN's John Zarrella is watching it for us. He is live for us in Los Angeles this morning. God that is such a great shot, I think it's a nice thing that they're going to take it slow. Good morning.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, they don't have a choice, but to take it slow through the streets. And you're absolutely right. Can you imagine, 25 flights, flying 17,500 miles an hour, repairing satellites, fixing the Hubble Space telescope, flying to the space station, and this may be the most memorable journey that any space shuttle has ever made.

It left Los Angeles International Airport a couple of hours ago, passed right by our location there. Being towed on a transporter and making the narrow turns through the streets of Los Angeles.

We expect it to be here momentarily, Soledad, in the area behind me here is another staging area where the space shuttle Endeavour is going to sit for about seven, eight, nine hours where they reconfigure it onto another platform.

You know, tonight, later tonight, they're actually going to hook it up to a Toyota truck to tow it across the 405 Expressway. We talked to the Toyota people and they said that's because they have a 20-year history with the science museum.

And we asked them if they were going to make a commercial out of this? They said well maybe. You think, Soledad, they're going to make a commercial out of these? You bet they will.

O'BRIEN: Let me think about that for a minute. John Zarrella for us this morning, thank you, John. Appreciate it.

ZARRELLA: Sure. O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, we gave you some Democratic reaction to last night's debate. Up next we're going to hear the Republican side. Senator Ron Johnson will be my guest.

Also Michael Vick's dog days may not be over. We'll tell you what he's saying now. Back in just a moment. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're coming to you from Center College in Danville, Kentucky. That, of course, the site of last night's vice presidential debate.

The debate had all the fireworks that frankly were missing from the presidential debate. Vice President Joe Biden, Republican challenger Paul Ryan literally duking it out.

Well, maybe not literally, but verbally duking it out and getting testy between them early and pretty often, too.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN: Our allies are less willing --

BIDEN: With all due respect that's a bunch of malarkey.

RADDATZ: Why is that so?

BIDEN: Because not a single thing he said is accurate. This is a bunch of stuff. Look, here's the deal --

RADDATZ: What does that mean a bunch of stuff?

BIDEN: It means it's simply inaccurate --

RYAN: It's Irish.

BIDEN: We Irish call it malarkey.

RYAN: I think the Vice President very well knows that sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way.

BIDEN: I always say what I mean. More people signed up for Medicare advantage after the change.

RYAN: What they're saying --

BIDEN: Nobody is --

RYAN: Mr. Vice President I -- I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground. But I think people will be better served if we don't kept interrupting each other.

BIDEN: Well, don't take all the 4 minutes then.

RYAN: It has never been done before.

BIDEN: It has never been done a couple of times.

RYAN: It's been done a couple of times. Now you're Jack Kennedy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Let's bring in Republican Senator Ron Johnson who is from Wisconsin, just like Paul Ryan. It's nice to see you. You were watching in the surrogate room.

SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R) WISCONSIN: Right.

O'BRIEN: What was it like back there? Were you yelling at the TV? Were you enthusiastic? Describe it for me.

JOHNSON: People were a little frustrated with Joe Biden's rudeness, quite honestly. Come on, let Paul answer the question.

O'BRIEN: Republican people --

JOHNSON: Exactly. Well, I think Vice President Biden was under an awful lot of pressure to make up for really President Obama's very poor performance, so -- his failed performance.

My guess is he was appealing to the base. You know, the "Occupy Wall Street" crowd, and maybe that resonated with them. I don't think that really resonated particularly well with women.

O'BRIEN: When you look at the CNN polls, it shows that it was pretty much a draw, Paul Ryan 48 percent. Joe Biden 44 percent, but of course, the sampling error is plus or minus 5 percent, which would make it right down the middle there.

And then if you look at favorability, same CNN poll shows that you really didn't move the -- the needle on that when it came to people who are watching the debate. So is your analysis that it was a victory for Paul Ryan without I guess totally partisan? Do you think it really was a draw?

JOHNSON: I think Paul did very well. He was measured. He was dignified. He was calm. He was cool, collected. You know, basically coming under assault by Vice President Biden.

O'BRIEN: You say it was an assault?

JOHNSON: It was. I mean, because he does not have a record that's defendable he just raised his voice, kept continuing to interrupt. It's very difficult to get your points out when you're being interrupted all the time.

What was the count, 80 to 100 times, you know, the unofficial count. That's very difficult to actually make debate points when you are -- when your opponent is being so rude.

O'BRIEN: So Martha Raddatz at one point, I thought she started off very strong, getting right into Benghazi, in the middle, she started pressing Paul Ryan about specifics for that 20 percent across-the- board tax cut. I want to play a little bit about how that went.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: So what we're saying is, deny those loopholes and deductions to higher income taxpayers, so that more of their income is taxed, which has a broader base of taxation --

BIDEN: May I translate?

RYAN: So we can lower tax rates across the board. Here's why I'm saying this.

BIDEN: Hopefully I'm going to get time to respond.

RADDATZ: You'll get time.

RYAN: We want to work with the Congress to help us to achieve this. That means successful.

RADDATZ: With no specifics.

RYAN: What we're saying is lower tax rates 20 percent. Start with the wealthy, work with congress to do it.

RADDATZ: You guarantee this math will add up?

RYAN: Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So, they keep guaranteeing this math is going to add up, but never actually giving specifics and sort of saying well, we're going to open it up to Congress, but not actually giving specifics. I actually thought this was one of the weaker points for Congressman Ryan.

JOHNSON: No, I understand the tax plan and what they're guaranteeing is the principles of the type of tax reform they're doing. It's pro- growth tax reform. So you lower the marginal rates for everybody.

But the way you make sure that the people in the higher income brackets don't have a tax benefit is you broaden their base. You take away or limit their deductions so that you make sure it's revenue neutral.

And you do that as a principle so as Congress is crafting that, you have to negotiate things to do that.

O'BRIEN: Jane Doe taxpayer. I'm like what deductions will you kill? I want to know. Just name three or what deductions are not off the table? What do I not have to worry about?

JOHNSON: For individuals what Governor Romney and Paul Ryan are saying is none of them are off the table. You start limiting those deductions proportion to the rate you lower their marginal tax rate. That is a very pro-growth process because marginal tax rates create the incentive --

O'BRIEN: Child care credit could be cut. So my mortgage deduction could be cut because that actually is a problem, no details.

JOHNSON: A child care credit in upper income individuals generally don't qualify. You're talking about limiting deductions for those in the upper income level so that their tax burden remains neutral, so that they don't benefit. That's the principle. You don't renegotiate going into --

O'BRIEN: But as you know -- but people go all the time, this is my plan. Here's what I want. I believe it you go with a principle, but you also go with very specific strategy.

JOHNSON: They have pretty specific parts of their plan where --

O'BRIEN: Pretty kind of but not really?

JOHNSON: Listen, when you're specifically saying you want to -- your goal is to lower marginal tax rates 20 percent across the board, and for lower income and middle income individuals you're going to eliminate all taxes on income on investment income.

You're going to make sure that you, you know, eliminate the death tax, the AMT, those are very specifics and then you give congress the broad principle for people making $200,000 or above, those households, make sure that as you craft the compromise, that, that part of the tax reform remains neutral.

O'BRIEN: Analysis, as you know, says it does not, the math does not add up.

JOHNSON: No, that is one, honestly, very partisan analysis. Six other analysis have said that it is entirely possible and the point that Paul's trying to make is in the past when you've actually lowered marginal tax rates.

It's produced more revenue. Ronald Reagan, six years during his tax reform we went from $600 billion to $1 trillion worth of revenue. That's a 67 percent increase.

Even George Bush's tax cuts, in 2003, federal revenue was a little under $1.8 trillion before the housing vote, $2.5 trillion. That's a 42 percent increase in revenue to the federal government. Lowering marginal tax rates is incentivizing.

O'BRIEN: I hear you on that. But what people are taking exception to is without details, as a taxpayer, and what's on the table and what's off the table, it's a very easy way to throw out numbers without necessarily being having to be responsible for the math working out.

I mean, I thought Martha Raddatz did a very good job on this. She's sort of like you're not again going to give specifics and Chris Wallace -- JOHNSON: You are giving specifics as you're giving directions to Congress. This is what CEOs do. Listen, as you design this, make sure that people making $200,000 will not have their tax burden lowered.

But we're going to lower their marginal tax rate because that produces incentives for them to invest in business, to grow our economy and create jobs.

For people making less than $200,000, lower their tax rates that will be so pro-growth it will be made up in terms of economic growth. That's how you increase revenue to the federal government, the old- fashioned way by growing your economy.

That is what this president does not understand. He doesn't understand how the private sector works. So his -- his choice, and this is why this is such a stark contrast in this election, President Obama had a choice to make when he came into this -- into the presidency.

By the way, the recession had bottomed out. We weren't in free-fall. In the second quarter, we only gave up 0.7 GDP growth by the third quarter of his presidency. We were already in recovery. It's his policies that have made that recovery so anemic because his choice was, I'm going to grow government, which has increased the debt burden on our grandchildren by $5.4 trillion.

Scared consumers, scared investors, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, conservatives understand what we need is pro-growth tax reform, incentivise small businesses, medium size businesses to invest, expand their business, create jobs. That's the balanced approach. Grow revenue the old-fashioned way by growing the economy.

O'BRIEN: I know Democrats would disagree with every single thing you said.

JOHNSON: They're wrong. And President Obama has been proven wrong. Look at the anemic results of his recovery.

O'BRIEN: And we are out of time. As you know, they would say consistent slow and anemic, but consistent recovery. Sir, we've got to stop.

JOHNSON: Give me more time next time.

O'BRIEN: It's a deal. Any time you would love to come back on. I would love to have you. We've got to get to some of the other stories that are making news. Senator Ron Johnson with us this morning. John, what do you have for us?

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. Great discussion there. In Colorado, there is still no sign of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway. She vanished one week ago today while walking to school near Denver.

Police are searching nearby fields, lakes and open spaces for clues. Jessica's backpack was found last weekend not far from her home and a body was found in the area on Wednesday, but police have not identified it yet. That could happen today.

This is a disturbing story. A teenager who pulled out a handgun and shot himself in the head in front of his class is in the hospital recovering this morning.

Officials in the rural community of Fairmont, North Dakota, say they have no idea why the freshman did this. He apologized before pulling the trigger and said he had no intention of hurting anyone else. His name has not been released.

Another hearing to try to force accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nadal Hasan to shave his beard and once again no decision. His court- martial remains on hold indefinitely.

Seven appellate judges listened to oral arguments for more than an hour yesterday. Army regulations prevent soldiers from wearing facial hair while in uniform. Hasan, who is a practicing Muslim says his religion requires him to have a beard.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick comes clean. He says he is now a dog owner. Vick, you will recall, served 18 months in prison on dogfighting charges.

He just issued a statement saying the dog is quote, "well cared for," and that he wants his children to develop a healthy relationship with animals. Soledad, I think that did surprise a lot of people this morning.

O'BRIEN: Yes. I think it does certainly. All right, John, thank you.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, he says his father was in command last night. We're going to talk to Beau Biden about the troops, and what he thought surprised him coming from Paul Ryan last night. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're coming to you live from Danville, Kentucky. We've been listening to the highlights from the debate all morning, the jabs, the accusations, the policy.

There was a moment when Vice President Biden talked about a family tragedy and what that meant for helping other people in his situation. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I understand what it's like. When I was a little younger than the congressman, my wife was in an accident, killed my daughter and my wife. And my two sons survived.

I have sat in the homes of many people that have gone through what I've been through. One thing you can give people s solace is to know if they know you've been through it, that they can make it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Beau Biden is the attorney general of Delaware. He is the Vice President's eldest son. It's nice to have you with us. Assess for me what you thought of your father's performance. I know that you helped him prep for this.

BEAU BIDEN: I thought he had a command of that stage. It's important to talk to the American people about the facts. He went into great depth about the facts and painting the very stark contrast we had between the two tickets here.

O'BRIEN: That may be the only area in which Republicans and Democrats agree on how the debate went last night. They will say, well, it was a very, you know, big difference between the two tickets was sort of underscored. Senator Johnson who just joined me a few moments ago, he said he thought your father was disrespectful, that he interrupted many, many times.

BEAU BIDEN: Yes. Now look, my dad enjoyed being up there. He was respectful to the congressman. People are criticizing him for smiling too much. You know, look, any time that the right is going after you on style points, you know you've won the argument.

It's like the reality for me, when I watch that debate, it was hard not to laugh when, you know, Congressman Ryan attacked my father and the President for the recovery act.

But here, Congressman Ryan sent two letters to my father and to the administration asking for recovery act dollars for the state of Wisconsin. It was just done a moment ago. It's not a credible argument.

So my dad was up there and he was respectful. He was in command of the stage. Any time you are being attacked for style points you know you've landed punch after punch after punch after punch.

I think that's why in the spin room last night the only thing Republicans talked about was my dad smiling too much. I'll take that criticism any day.

O'BRIEN: You know, when we look at the CNN poll, it was pretty much a wash. It was equal, I think, Ryan 48 percent and Biden, 44 percent. Margin of error it made it roughly a draw. Did you feel like the big picture is it was a draw for you?

BEAU BIDEN: I think the consensus out there in terms of the pundit class and American people is that, my father laid out a very clear vision about how they're going to continue to grow the middle class and move them forward.

O'BRIEN: So you know that was not the consensus?

BEAU BIDEN: Well, there was -- from pundits all across the board. Stuff I've heard this early hour is that Biden was in command of that stage. There's a CBS poll of, I think, voters where he has won 50-30. I don't put a lot of stock in the polls but there's an audience out there that we were talking to, the democratic base, number one, and independent voters and there's a great -- polls aren't worth much in the last 25 days.

You know, they having Biden winning 50-30. This isn't about polls. My dad took the opportunity to speak directly to the American people about Paul Ryan's plan to voucherize Medicare.

hat I was struck by, Soledad, as a veteran is Paul Ryan last night suggested, left the door wide open for, if not suggested putting additional troops in Afghanistan. And, you know, this is after he spent the first half of his answer saying he didn't have any difference with the time line that my father and the President set for getting out of Afghanistan.

Then he went on about how we should have additional troops in Afghanistan, the most dangerous part of the most dangerous country in the world. I thought that was the most remarkable moment and I thought it highlighted --Paul Ryan's a nice guy, about my age, a little younger.

He said his only foreign policy experience is voting to send soldiers to war. You saw on the stage last night someone who didn't have that kind of command of the facts, like my father.

Foreign policy adviser, a good guy, literally spinning in the room last night, trying to come back from that statement that governor -- Congressman Ryan suggesting we put additional troops in Afghanistan.

O'BRIEN: Beau Biden, it's nice to have you with us this morning. We certainly appreciate your time and position on that.

BEAU BIDEN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: All right, we've got to take a break. We'll be back in a moment.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Coming up in our next hour of STARTING POINT, we'll be chatting with Bill Burton. He is the senior strategist at "Priorities USA Action" and the former White House deputy press secretary. We'll give you his take on the V.P. debate as President Obama is preparing for his next debate. That will happen on Tuesday.

It's moving at a snail's pace. The space shuttle Endeavour is slowly headed to its final home. We'll bring you live to Los Angeles to see what's happening there. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

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