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Biden and Ryan Battle in Kentucky; First Meningitis Outbreak Lawsuit; Watching Malala's Recovery; CNN Heroes Honored; Vice Presidential Debate Assessed

Aired October 12, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, a fireworks-filled vice presidential debate, complete with lots of zingers. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This shouldn't be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their lives.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I know you're under a lot of duress to make -- but I think it would be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other.


O'BRIEN: Got highlights, some low lights and controversy over what some people says was Joe Biden's facial expressions. Also don't forget the facts. Did the numbers ad up when it comes to jobs, when it comes to taxes, when it comes unemployment?

It's Friday, October 12th. And STARTING POINT comes to you live from Danville, Kentucky.


O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. You're watching us live from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.

Less than 12 hours ago, it was Paul Ryan versus Joe Biden, squaring off in what was a pretty bruising debate. The Vice President was quick to go on the attack. It was truly something his boss, the President, failed to do last week. Paul Ryan willing to fire back as well.

Voters scored it a draw. CNN/ORC poll of debate watchers had 48 percent giving the nod to Paul Ryan as the winner, 44 percent saying it was Joe Biden that won. Because of the margin of error that works out to a statistical tie.

CNN's Dana Bash joins us with the highlights of last night. I would agree with those pollers. I thought it was a statistical tie as well.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I think maybe you'll agree with me that you can still feel the heat rising from the stage because it was so intense, so many sparks between the two of them when it came to Joe Biden, maybe a laugh or too many grins. When it came to Paul Ryan a smirk, but there was a lot of substance.


BASH (voice-over): These were two men who both came ready to tangle.

BIDEN: I don't know what world these guys are in.

BASH: On taxes --

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

BASH: Not mathematically possible.

RYAN: It is mathematically possible.

BASH: On Medicare --

BIDEN: If 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 are more brazen in their attacks and our allies are less willing to trust us.

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

BASH: The Vice President seemed determine to make up for the President's mistakes last week, almost immediately launching the attack lines Obama never used in his debate.

BIDEN: But 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.

RYAN: Mitt Romney is 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.


BIDEN: But I always say what I mean, and so does Romney.

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

RYAN: In spite of their opposition.

BIDEN: Oh, God.

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

RYAN: As a result of this --

BIDEN: That didn't happen.


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 red for all that, too.

RYAN: I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground -- but I think people would be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other.

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

BIDEN: The last people who need help are 120,000 families for another -- another $500 billion tax cut over the next 10 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: It is. We Irish call us malarkey.

RADDATZ: Thanks for the translation.


BASH: This morning there is a lot of stuff being said about Joe Biden, Democrats really coming to his defense saying, he did exactly what he needed to do, energize the base, Republicans saying he was rude, interrupted too much and he was over the top. Four days until this is history and the next presidential debate.

O'BRIEN: Exactly, which this is all building up to.

And we should, there's a lot of stuff going on behind us, too, as they break down -- that is literally the podium or desk from last night and they're starting to rip out the lights and all the stuff that sort of made that set for last night.

Thanks, Dana. Appreciate it.

It's getting loud and it's going to get louder as we go.

Let's get right to Bill Burton. He is live in D.C. for us this morning. He is the cofounder and senior strategist with Priorities USA Action. It's a super PAC that supports President Obama. He's also a former White House press secretary for the Obama administration.

It's nice to see you.


O'BRIEN: I may just first by apologizing for the hammering behind me, in case it drowns me out a little bit as we're talking.

So, last night. Twitter was on fire, where people would think absolutely, positively it was Paul Ryan who won or absolutely, positively it was Joe Biden who won. Ultimately, though, this was about playing to the middle. When it comes to that realistically, who do you think had the advantage there?

BURTON: I think if you look at the polls, your poll said that that debate was tied. CBS said that Vice President Biden did remarkably better than Congressman Ryan did.

But I think if you just look at the two -- if you look at the Vice President, the vice presidential nominee on the Republican side, the facts don't stack up for the Republican side. And I think that Joe Biden did an excellent job of pointing out where the math didn't add up, where his inexperience on foreign policy showed Ryan to be unprepared and a little off kilter.

And I think that Joe Biden, overall, did a much better job making the case for President Obama than Paul Ryan did for Mitt Romney.

O'BRIEN: But when you look at the CNN/ORC poll that asks the question, who is in touch with the problems of people like you -- this is an area in which Joe Biden is considered to be very, very strong, right? He is the guy who talks to the middle class, did that a lot last night in the debate. It was actually Paul Ryan who was ahead. The polling there was 51 percent for Paul Ryan, 44 percent for Joe Biden.

Doesn't that make it impossible to read that as a victory for the Democrats in an area that Joe Biden is supposed to be really strong in?

BURTON: I think these snap polls right after the debate aren't necessarily the best snapshot of how voters really feel about these debates. And they take a look at it over the course of time and see whose facts added up and whose facts didn't add up.

And I think when you saw Paul Ryan really pressed on the math of their tax plan, it opened that argument all the over again, because he really just couldn't make the math work. And he couldn't explain it in a way that the American people could be comfortable with.

Now, he says that there's a way that -- they've got a secret plan to fix the tax rate so that everybody gets a tax cut and everybody gets to keep all the stuff they like. But if the plan was so good, they wouldn't keep it a secret. It's not a secret because it's too good for the middle class.

It's -- they're not telling you the details because the impact on the middle class is it would increase anxiety, it would increase pressure, it would make it even harder for middle class families and Joe Biden did an excellent job of pointing that out.

O'BRIEN: I thought he did what people were expecting he would do when it came to the 47 percent. He mentioned it which was a big miss. I think many people felt from the President, who left out a big talking point in the weeks leading up to the first presidential debate.

Here's a little bit about what Joe Biden said about that 47 percent. Listen.


BIDEN: You probably detected my, uh, frustration with their attitude about the American people. My friend says that 30 percent of the American people are takers. Romney points out 47 percent of the people won't take responsibility.

He's talking about my mother and father. He's talking about the places I grew up, my neighbors in Scranton and Claymont.


O'BRIEN: Do you think that was leveraged enough to stop the momentum that we have seen, certainly, through the polling of the last week, for the Romney campaign?

BURTON: I think that that debate gave Democrats a lot to be very excited about, very enthusiastic about. I think it showed undecided voters a very clear contrast between how the President wants to keep growing this economy, keep unemployment going down and how Mitt Romney's policies would favor the wealthy over the middle class.

And so, yes, I do think that this debate was very helpful. Overall, will it be as meaningful as one of the presidential debates? It's hard to say right now. But for last night and for this moment, I think that there's a lot for us on the Democratic side to be very happy about.

O'BRIEN: A lot of aggressiveness out of Joe Biden and there are many people like Ben Smith and Chris Cillizza from "The Washington Post", and Jennifer Rubin, who also from "The Washington Post," who are sort of saying that they thought that the smiling was unsettling, laughing wag losing the debate from Joe Biden's side.

You know, there are some people have said -- I've heard this a couple of times, that some of this aggressiveness was a way to sort of navigate what the President should do in the next presidential debate. Kind of push the envelope a little bit to see, you know, how far the President can go.

Do you think there's merit to that theory? What is the President doing right now in preparation? What does he leverage out of this vice presidential debate?

BURTON: Well, when I think that the top talking point coming out of the debate is Joe Biden smiling too much, I think that gives you the sense they didn't feel like they won on substance.

All the talk about how Joe Biden was reacting, when Paul Ryan made the comment that he would rather send more American troops into Afghanistan rather than let the Afghan troops fight that war themselves, I think a lot of Americans were throwing things at their TV and not just throwing up their hands. I think people were pretty disturbed about a lot of things that Paul Ryan had to say.

So, for Joe Biden to get in there and aggressively make his case with his a very natural thing to do. You know, I think if you listen to what President Obama has said about that first debate, you know, he says that he didn't have a great night.

And, you know, I'm sympathetic. I followed an interview that Mitt Romney did on this network. And, you know, when you listen to Mitt Romney completely remake all of his plans and what he said about the economy, what he said on things like choice, they can be pretty flummoxing. But I think the President is a pretty competitive guy. I'm pretty confident that he's going to do what he needs to do next Tuesday.

O'BRIEN: Bill Burton, senior strategist for Priorities USA Action PAC -- thank you for being with us. We appreciate it. Again, my apologies for the noise behind me.

BURTON: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Again, they're breaking down the stage and so it's getting kind of noisy in here.

At the bottom of the hour we'll get reaction from the GOP. We'll talk with Erick Erickson. He, of course, is the editor-in-chief of We have him on the program a lot.

And if you missed it, you can catch a replay of the debate. We're going to air it noon Eastern on CNN.

CNN's Candy Crowley is going to be moderating the next presidential debate, a town hall. It's going to be live right here on CNN. That's going to be on Tuesday, October 16th. That's a reminder.

So, let's get through John Berman. He's going to look at some of the other stories that are making news today. Hey, John. Good morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Soledad. Don't let them take your chair or anything as they're breaking down there.

First up, rallying for Malala. More demonstrations this morning in support of 14-year-old anti-Taliban activist Malala Yousufzai. The Taliban targeted her because she's been a fierce of theirs. She also wants to -- she's also a staunch advocate for education and girls and women's rights.

About 100 people were detained accused of concluding with attackers who tried to assassinate this young girl. Most of them have since been released. Malala is in critical condition this morning.

A veteran diplomat coming out of retirement has served as the senior U.S. envoy in Libya. The Obama administration has tapped Laurence Pope for the diplomatic post. This comes a month after the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens in the Benghazi consulate attack. Pope retired from the foreign service 12 years ago.

The European Union is the new recipient of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee made the announcement in Oslo this morning. It honored the European Union for advancing peace, democracy and reconciliation across Europe since the end of World War II. The committee also noted working to solve the European economic crisis and said the prize is a message of support.

And slowly it goes. You are looking live at the space shuttle Endeavour snaking its ways through the streets of Los Angeles on its final mission, mission 26. Endeavour is on its way to becoming a massive museum piece at the California Science Center. Big crowds expected to get an up close to look at the shuttle as it moves along at a whopping two miles per hour.

The 12-mile trip will take 46 hours ending tomorrow night. Slow but majestic.

Now, the baseball playoff. The Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants are one step closer to the World Series this morning. The Tigers shut out the Oakland A's to advance the American league championship series. They did that behind Justin Verlander (INAUDIBLE). In the meantime, the Giants closed out the Cincinnati Reds in five games to reach the NLCS. Pretty amazing comeback.

They were down two games to nothing after losing two at home. They won three on the road to beat the Reds. They now go to the NLCS. Their opponents will be decided tonight after the Baltimore Orioles beat the Yankees 2-1 in 13 innings, the fourth of the game, five in their series, and the Washington Nationals with a really stunning walk-off win against defending champ St. Louis cardinals.

Jayson Werth with the game-winning homerun right there. That set the stage for a game five in that series. Winner there faces the Giants -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Getting very interesting. All right. John, thank you.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, lots of facts and figures were thrown out in the debate, last night, talking about taxes and conversation about health care. We're going to get back to John in just a moment as he checks to see if those facts and figures add up. That's coming up next.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. I want to walk you through some of the claims that were thrown out in last night's debate. John Berman is doing the fact checking for us this morning. John, good morning, again.

BERMAN: Hey, Soledad. They fought a lot about the Romney tax plan. Paul Ryan claims you could have 20 percent income tax rate cuts across the board, remain deficit neutral, and all this, without eliminating deductions that benefit the middle class. Listen.


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

BIDEN: Not mathematically possible.

RYAN: It is mathematically possible.


BERMAN: So, what are the facts here? The non-partisan tax policy center tells us and they told us again last night that given what we know about Romney's plans, it is not possible to cut rates as much as he'd like without eliminating deductions that would affect the middle class.

They say, you just can't do this without changing certain rules on capital gains, taxes, investment taxes, and dividend taxes, which the Romney campaign says it will not do. So, our verdict here is false. According to the Tax Policy Center, they say, again, it can't be done.

Next, the situation in Libya. This is getting a lot of attention. The vice president made the claim that the administration did not know there were requests for more security in Benghazi.


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


BERMAN: This, of course, dealing with the attacks on the embassy there. So, what are the facts? Just this week, two former officials stationed there said they had, in fact, asked for more security. This happened at the House hearing on Wednesday.

Our verdict here is this. It's unclear how high the request for more security got in the administration, but officials did testify the state department was asked. So, either Joe Biden didn't know this or he was wrong.

All right. I'll move on to healthcare right now. Paul Ryan said Obamacare will cause 20 million people to lose their insurance.


RYAN: Look at all the string of broken promises. If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it. Try telling that to the 20 million people who are projected to lose their health insurance if Obamacare goes through.


BERMAN: So, what are the facts here? An analysis in March from the Congressional Budget Office mentioned an outside possibility of 20 people losing coverage due to the law. This was part of a range of possibilities they explored that also included the possibility that three million people would actually gain coverage.

The actual conclusion of the study was a sharp decline in employment- based health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act. They say that conclusion is unlikely. So, our verdict here is false. Paul Ryan, it does seem, Soledad, was out on a limb there.

O'BRIEN: And I think you can see, certainly, by some of the interviews we've done this morning, John, that people will also be talking about Afghanistan and whether or not Paul Ryan was talking about increasing American troops there. And then, something that we heard a lot as well is the -- you know, was Joe Biden a bully in the debate? Did that have an impact or was that, you know, as some of the Democrats were saying this morning, if anybody is going to complain about smiling, then that's an indication they lost the debate, if you will.

BERMAN: Yes. I don't know how you fact check smiling. But I will say it is true that Joe Biden certainly smiled a lot.

O'BRIEN: Yes, that's true.

BERMAN: And it's true that he has very white teeth. Well, I have Christine here. I should say one of the things that Romney team and Republicans have been pointing out all night and all morning is they say the Tax Policy Center study doesn't take into account the possibly growth.

That growth in revenue would help make their tax plan deficit neutral. You heard that from Senator Johnson, Soledad, a little while ago.

O'BRIEN: Right. Senator Johnson said that.

BERMAN: You know, the Tax Policy Center, one of the author says this, you know, they just don't have a lot of details. They don't have enough details to make the assessment. That's a big problem here and Paul Ryan certainly wasn't giving details to Martha Raddatz last night.

That's part of the problem. They also say, one author with a certain amount of growth, it still doesn't pay for themselves.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, what you need to know is exactly what kind of deductions they're talking about, what income level that needs to be -- and what the campaign has said is we want to work with Congress to work out those details which makes it so difficult to close that $4.8 trillion gap over 10 years.

One thing that (INAUDIBLE) told us earlier in the program is that, look, if they lowered, if they downgraded the size of the tax cut and you had some really good growth, maybe you could get there, but you know, you'd have to make some changes to the plan, he said.

O'BRIEN: Yes. And I think they're getting -- republicans getting as we -- when we talked to Senator Johnson, you know, pushback on that. You can't just bring it all to Congress and say, well, we don't actually -- we haven't flushed out a plan. We'll let Congress figure it out. I think that that's going to be a challenge for Republicans on that front. Thank you, guys. I appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, you can hear they're breaking down the set behind us, might notice my lights keep going away. That's because they've been taking out the lights, too. We've got lots to talk about this morning, though.

The numbers are climbing in that meningitis outbreak. First, lawsuit has been filed. No big surprise there, I think. We're going to have details of that lawsuit coming up next. And then, home heating costs are expected to go up this winter. We'll tell you what you need to know before that happens.

STARTING POINT is back in just a moment.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. A couple of stories to tell you about this morning.

A Minnesota woman who says she was injected with a potentially tainted steroid injection is now suing NECC. That's the company at the center of the fungal meningitis outbreak. The nationwide death toll now stands at 14. 170 people who received epidural steroid injections are infected, and the CDC now is saying 14,000 people may have received tainted injections.

Critics of Lance Armstrong are crossing out the "V" on his live strong bracelets saying the phrase should be "lie strong." On Wednesday, the U.S. anti-doping agents (ph) are released more documents that it says prove Armstrong cheated by doping.

Tonight, Armstrong's former teammate, Tyler Hamilton, will be a guest on "Anderson 360." Hamilton just wrote a book accusing Armstrong of doping. That should be an interesting interview.

Meanwhile, Christine Romans is here watching your money this morning. Christine, what's going on?

ROMANS: Well, we're watching stock futures turn higher. Shares of JPMorgan Chase are up ahead of the opening bell after the bank reported record third quarter profit. And JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, said this in the earnings report, quote, "We believe the housing market has turned the corner. Wow!"

Also seeing some strong earnings from Wells Fargo. So, the banks are higher this morning. Mortgage rates, by the way, ticked up slightly from record lows last week, but they're still very low. One of the reasons why the housing market is turning around, a 30-year fixed rate, 3.39%, 15-year, John, 2.7 percent.

And again, Wells Fargo disappointing record quarterly (inaudible) getting the deal. Details on that for you as well. Now, your home heating bill is going to go up this year, according to energy -- the Energy Information Administration, mostly because of the cold winter that's expected. Not because of rising fuel prices, because it's going to be cold.

Homes using home heating oil most in the northeast will see their home heating costs rise by an average of $2,500, up 20 percent from last year. If you use natural gas to heat your home, your heating costs are going to go up by 15 percent, this winter, 13 percent for propane and six percent for electricity. Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: That's a bummer of a graph right there --

ROMANS: Sorry.


O'BRIEN: Christine, thank you. That's OK.

You guys can hear behind me and we can show you, actually, a picture of the set being collapsed. You know, this morning they've got in early, and they started ripping out the chairs and all the equipment behind that far wall and they're taking down, of course, the set from last night.

So, that's what's accounting for all the noise over my shoulder and the fact that we've lost the lights behind us. Going to keep talking, though, about what happened last night. You heard some of the Democratic reaction to the vice presidential debate. We'll get the Republican response as well. editor-in-chief, rather, Erick Erickson will join us.

And, of course, this story we're following up on, 14-year-old girl has become a lightning rod for women's rights. The protesters who support and those even who oppose a Pakistani girl who's been shot by the Taliban. They're taking to the streets today. We'll bring you some of those developing details. That's coming up next as well. Stay with us. You're watching STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're coming to you live from Danville, Kentucky. We're inside the very hall where Joe Biden and Paul Ryan got into it last night, several serious and sometimes heated exchanges. They clashed repeatedly. Here is a little taste of it.


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 is the deal --

RADDATZ: What does that mean "a bunch of stuff"?

RYAN: It's Irish.

BIDEN: It means it's simply inaccurate. It is. We Irish call it malarkey.

RADDATZ: Thanks for the translation.

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

BIDEN: But I always say what I mean. RYAN: Mr. Vice President, I know -- Mr. Vice President, I know you're under a lot of duress to make up lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other.

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

RYAN: It's been done before. It's precisely what we're proposing.

BIDEN: It's never been done before.

RYAN: It's been done a couple of times. Jack Kennedy increased --

BIDEN: Now you're Jack Kennedy?


O'BRIEN: Some of those punches landed on both sides last night. This is what's happening over my shoulder. Construction workers are taking apart what was Martha Raddatz's desk. They're taking down the lights, et cetera, as they break down and start cleaning up what was done here last night. CNN snap poll of debate watchers taken right after the dough bait shows that Paul Ryan won, ahead of four points. If you look at the margin of error, which is plus or minus five points, that poll is right within the margin of error. So, basically, it was a tie. Want to get right to CNN contributor Erick Erickson, editor in chief of Nice to see you, Erick.


O'BRIEN: You heard some of the back and forth last night, some of the highlights, I would guess. Both sides have proclaimed that their guy won. You heard it in the spin room. I've seen it on twitter. People coming to talk to me this morning, their person had the decisive victory. Ultimately you're going after people who are undecided, that tiny number of undecided in the middle. Who do you think was appealed to the most by last night's debate?

ERICKSON: I don't think vice presidential races have ever really had an impact. I don't think this one did last night. I don't know that undecided voters stuck around for the entire debate. Frank l frankly, the Joe Biden shtick got tiring halfway through the grinning and interrupting and undecided voters would be a little frustrated by that. Look, I think Paul Ryan won. If you put a Democrat on, I think they would say Joe Biden won. So, there you have it. It was a draw.

I do think, though, if we go back to the presidential debate of 2000, Al Gore was perceived initially to have had a draw in that debate but it was his behaviors, sighing and interrupting that over the next couple of days was parodied so effectively on "Saturday Night Live" and elsewhere that it became viewed of him losing the debate. Joe Biden may run into that problem this week. Frankly, his behavior, Mary could have ridden him to Bethlehem.

O'BRIEN: I have to say, people who said they thought it was disrespectful. I didn't see disrespect in that. I do think, though, that you might be right about the parodying. One thing that his son, Beau Biden, said to me, clearly it's a Democratic talking point and Republicans on the other side as well, said listen if everybody who is a Republican is talking about the smiling, that is an indication he had a very strong debate, right, because if the big take away is that he smiled a lot, that's not so bad.

ERICKSON: No. No, you know what, they're going to say that. I realize it. But Joe Biden's mannerisms are -- if you listen to the panels, our panels on other networks last night, there were a lot of deep frustration, particularly among female undecided voters about Joe Biden's behavior last night. And I think Republicans want to reiterate that not because they want to distract from Paul Ryan's performance but because they want to highlight what Joe Biden did last night. A lot of people did view it as disrespectful.

I think it was Joe Biden being Joe Biden. He didn't swallow his foot but the line people are going to take away from this is that he really contradicted what we've learned so far on Libya, saying it was the intelligence community, but then said we could trust those same people on Iran. Seemed to be a big disconnect to me.

O'BRIEN: A big disconnect for others, on the other side of the aisle from you would be about Paul Ryan and taxes and trying to get some specifics about that. This is a conversation that's been going on for a long time, trying to pin him down to exactly what the tax plan would be. I'm going to run a little chunk for you on that.


RYAN: What we're saying is deny those loopholes and deductions to higher income tax payers 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 is why I'm saying that.

BIDEN: I hope I'm getting time to respond to this.

RADDATZ: You'll get time.

RYAN: We want to work with Congress on how best to achieve this. That means successful.

BIDEN: No specifics again.

RYAN: 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.


O'BRIEN: I absolutely guarantee the math will add up. I don't have any specifics that I can give you. That's because it's going to be about growth. I think that's going to be a challenge for them. Don't you think?

ERICKSON: You know, honestly, at this point I don't know that it is. I did think it was interesting in how much Martha Raddatz pressured Paul Ryan on specific policies and specifics of his proposals, and she didn't do that so much with Joe Biden. It's striking that for all the lack of specifics she may be getting from the Romney campaign, you're not getting them any more from the Obama campaign for what they're going to do for the next four years.

O'BRIEN: You know, you tweeted that about Martha. You tweeted this. I'm sorry, but I think Martha did an atrocious job as a moderator, lost control of both sides repeatedly.

ERICKSON: I absolutely think she did.

O'BRIEN: I think you've lost your mind.

ERICKSON: I think you're a journalists and journalists are going to give her cover. I thought she was horrible.

O'BRIEN: I've never met her before today. She walked by. I said hi. In terms of information --

ERICKSON: Look, you've got to --

O'BRIEN: Let me just finish and I'll let you respond. Hang on a second.

ERICKSON: -- with Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.

O'BRIEN: Right. For me a moderator who let's them go at it each other a little bit so you can get the argument but then jumps in and moves it to the right direction that's very helpful as someone who was just watching. I got to watch it in the hall. Why do you disagree?

ERICKSON: Because I think she only interrupted to move the debate forward when Paul Ryan was speaking. She rarely did it with Joe Biden. She let Joe Biden do the interruption. Her wheel-house was foreign policy. Two-thirds of the debate was on foreign policy. And, you know, when you're debating foreign policy in a vice presidential debate, I guess that's all well and good but we have this unemployment number, jobs decline and I just think moderators shouldn't make the focus of the debate their wheel-house.

O'BRIEN: I'm going to disagree with you on that. I thought she did a terrific job, thought she was super strong. Did you think Jim Lehrer did a good job? We can disagree.

ERICKSON: At least -- I think with Jim Lehrer, at least he got out of the way and let them talk. I think when Joe Biden was so aggressive last night you need the moderator to intervene a little more. With Jim Lehrer, I thought he was asleep for most of the debate but wound up being substantive. I haven't been impressed with the moderators so far this year. But Candy Crowley will hit it out of the park, I guarantee.

O'BRIEN: Thank you, Erick.

ERICKSON: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Good news is that if you missed any of the debate last night you can watch it again today. We'll rerun it today at noon eastern time on CNN.

Other stories making news, John has that for us.

BERMAN: Thank you, Soledad. By the way, I'm plus one with you on Martha Raddatz.

News overseas, Lebanon's Hezbollah leader claiming responsibility for launching a drone into Israel last week. It was shot down by the Israeli air force. Hezbollah claims the Iranian-made drone flew over sensitive sites in Israel. One Mideast expert says the unmanned craft was equipped with, quote, "rinky-dink technology."

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sounding a warning that America is becoming increasingly vulnerable to a crippling cyber-attack. He says foreign hackers have the ability to dismantle the nation's power grid, financial system, transportation system, and even the federal government.


LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: These kinds of attacks could be a cyber Pearl Harbor, an attack that would cause physical disruption and the loss of life, an attack that would paralyze and shock the nation.


BERMAN: Alarming words. Panetta is pushing for new legislation that would require tougher cyber protection standards for power plants and gas pipelines.

In Colorado this morning, the search goes on for 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway who vanished exactly one week ago on her way to school near Denver. Jessica's backpack was found last week and not far from her home. And a body was found in the area on Wednesday. But police have not yet made an identification.

And up close and personal, you are looking live at the shuttle Endeavour on the ground in Los Angeles. It's making its way through the streets of L.A. on its way to the California Science Center. A lot of people getting a look at the massive ship moving along at a massive two miles per hour, 46 hours ending tomorrow night. People in L.A. are used to strange things so maybe a space shuttle driving down the street isn't so weird after all, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: That's amazing. That's just a great, great shot. Thank you for the update.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, she is gaining international support, also gaining some enemies, too, over her fight for women's rights. We'll bring you the very latest on this young lady, a Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban. We have a report from Islamabad coming up next.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. I'm reporting to you live this morning from the site of the vice presidential debate last night. You can hear all the noise behind me as they break down the stage. They've pulled up the table and are starting to rip everything out to get this center back to normal.

Lots of other stories to tell you about this morning, including one we told you about yesterday. New developments in that story that is gripping Pakistan and the rest of the world, frankly, as well. The targeted shooting of a fearless 14-year-old girl. Her name is Malala Yousafzai. Police say three men are now in custody. They've identified a man linked to the attack. More rallies held now for that young anti-Taliban activist.

Reza Sayah is following the story for us and has the very latest from Islamabad this morning.

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Friday, Malala Yousefzai's condition still. Much of Pakistan and now much of the world anxiously waiting to see if she recovers. Of course, two days ago, doctors successfully removed a bullet that first hit her in the had head and then ended up in her lower neck.

On Thursday, Malala was transferred from a hospital in northwest Pakistan to a leading military hospital in the garrison city of Rawalpindi right next to Islamabad. Doctors say they are keeping a close eye on the swelling of her brain. Swelling is always a big concern after brain surgery. Of course, the brain is housed in a bone. Unlike other parts of the body, the swelling has simply nowhere else to go. That's why doctors say it's crucial to keep the swelling under control. They say the next one or two days will be critical in her recovery.

In the meantime, the government of Pakistan, under pressure to find the shooters who attacked Malala. We're getting a lot of conflicting accounts from top government officials, the Interior Minister said Thursday that they have identified the two gunmen and they will be arrested soon. The Foreign Minister telling CNN that 100 people have been detained for questioning, but on Friday a police chief in the region saying that most of those detainees have been released. 35 are still in custody. But there's no hard evidence who attacked Malala. Also on Friday, the outpouring of support and emotion continued for Malala. A number of political parties and mosques planning on rallies for 14-year-old human rights activist, who has captured a lot of hearts and now is fighting for her life.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Islamabad.

O'BRIEN: STARTING POINT is back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Coming to you live this morning from Danville, Kentucky, where they are now breaking down the stage from last night. This morning, and actually every week, we shine a spotlight on the top ten CNN heroes of 2012, Because you'll be voting for the one who inspires you the most. You can go to to do that.

Five years ago, Leo McCarthy's daughter was killed by drunk driver and now he's challenging teenagers to help him end the culture of underage drinking. Take a look.


LEO MCCARTHY, ACTIVIST: October 27th, 2007 was a beautiful autumn day. Mariah was with her two friends. I didn't know the last time I kissed her would be the last time. Later that night they were walking down this path when an underage drunk driver swerved off the road and hit them. Mariah landed here. She died that night. They were only a block away from my house. Mariah was only 14. And I'm thinking, how did this happen? It is so preventable. My name is Leo McCarthy. I give kids tools to stay away from drinking. Our state has been notoriously top five in drinking and driving fatalities in the country. The drinking culture, it's a cyclical disease we allow to continue.

Mariah's challenge is, be the first generation of you kids to not drink.

In the eulogy I said that if you stick with me for four years, don't use alcohol, don't use elicit drugs, I'll be there and a bunch of other people to give you money to go to a secondary school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I promise not to drink until I'm 21.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I promise not to get into a car with someone who has been drinking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I promise to give back to my community.

MCCARTHY: I think Mariah's challenge is something that makes people think a little bit more to say we can be better. Mariah is forever 14. I can't get her back. But I can help other parents keep their kids safe. If we save one child, we save a generation.



O'BRIEN: You can hear from the din behind me joining us live here in Danville, Kentucky. Coming up next week on STARTING POINT, we'll have a conversation with tennis legend Billie Jean King. The big presidential debate of course is going to be moderated by our own Candy Crowley and of course we'll follow all the political news for you throughout the week.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Don Lemon begins right now. Have a good weekend everybody, we'll see you back here on Monday morning.

Hey, Don. Good morning.