Return to Transcripts main page


Presidential Polls Tighten; Daredevil Breaks Skydiving Record; Schools Promote Tolerance; Malala Yousufzai Flying To Britain; Pakistanis Outraged By Shooting Of Girl; Debate On Consulate Attack In Libya; Nuclear Sub Collision; Nobel Prize In Economics; Falcons Remain Unbeaten; A "Nose" For the Football!; Arlen Specter Dies At 82; The Rise Of The Super Rich; The Humor Of Politics

Aired October 15, 2012 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Our starting point, ready for round two. Mitt Romney, President Obama prepare for their next debate as the campaigns up the ante.

ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: I think you'll see somebody who's very passionate about the choice that our country faces.

ED GILLESPIE, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: The president can change his style, he can change his tactics, he can't change his record.

O'BRIEN: And new polls show the candidates are neck and neck.

Remembering Arlen Specter, the former Pennsylvania senator dies at age 82. We take a look at his incredible life.

And a death-defying fall. Daredevil Felix Baumgartner breaks the sound barrier as he plunges 24 miles to the ground and lives. The incredible feat coming up.

It's Monday, October 15th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Good morning. Welcome everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We have a packed show for you this morning. We're going to be talking with daredevil, Nik Wallenda, talking about Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking jump. Also, former U.S. Congressman, Adm. Joe Sestak will join us.

Kamau Bell, the host of FX's "Totally Bias" is our guest and former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, will be joining us this morning.

Our STARTING POINT is, of course, the highly anticipated rematch, the second presidential debate just a day away. The race is at tight as it gets. Two brand-new polls to talk about this morning, first from "the Washington Post"/ABC news. President has a slim three-point lead among likely voters, well, within the margin of error. Even closer in a "Politico"/George Washington University poll this morning, the president's lead among likely voters is just one percent which makes it a statistical dead heat. Battleground states now. The poll has Mitt Romney ahead of the president by two points, essentially tied. While the ABC/"Washington Post" poll shows the president with a five- point lead in the battleground states. Both campaigns looking forward to the debate tomorrow night, tackling president Obama's lackluster performance, as well. Listen.


ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN ADVISER: He knew when he walked up that stage, and he also knew as he's watched the tape of that debate that he's got to be more energetic. I think you'll see somebody who's very passionate about the choice that our country faces and putting that choice in front of voters.

ED GILLESPIE, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: This is a big choice election, and the fact is what we saw is, even if he changes his style, and whatever political tactics the president settles on as being in his best interest for this debate, he can't change his record and he can't change his policies.


O'BRIEN: Coming up in just a few minutes we're going to dig into the poll numbers, talk about what's at stake tomorrow night with former McCain 2008 presidential campaign adviser Mark McKinnon will be our guest. First John Berman has the update on other stories making news. Hello.


O'BRIEN: Happy Monday.

BERMAN: Happy Monday.

The 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban is on her way to Britain for treatment. Malala Yousufzai was airlifted out of Pakistan overnight. Her flight is expected to touchdown this morning. She'll be taken to Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham for treatment. The Taliban, you'll remember, tried to murder her last week because Malala is an outspoken promoter of education for Pakistani girls. Something the Taliban does not believe in. We're going to talk to Reza Sayah in Islamabad. He's been following the story from the very beginning. He had an amazing interview with Malala last year.

Former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter is being remembered for long public service and his political independence. Specter died yesterday at the age of 82 after a long battle with cancer. He spent 30 years in the Senate, most as a moderate Republican until switching to the Democratic Party in 2009. In a statement President Obama said, quote, "From his days stamping out corruption as a prosecutor in Philadelphia, to his three decades of service in the Senate, Arlen was fiercely independent, never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chosen to serve."

Pretrial hearings are under way in Italy for the captain of the Costa Concordia. The cruise ship ran aground in January killing 30 people. The canton faces manslaughter charges. He is also accused of abandoning ship. At one point the Italian coast guard ordered him to get back on board. Black box data from the ship's bridge is expected to be revealed for the first time during this week's hearings.

The Detroit Tigers are feeling pretty good about their World Series chances. They are halfway there after beating the Yankees 3-0 in the Bronx to go 2-0 in the American league championship series. Game three is tomorrow night in Detroit. With the tigers ace Justin Verlander on the mound. The St. Louis Cardinals jumped on top with a 6-4 win in game one of tat series against the giants. Game two is tonight in San Francisco. The cardinals are white hot right now.

Meanwhile, while the world awaits tomorrow night's second presidential debate, "Saturday Night Live" got in the last laugh on the Biden-Ryan face-off.


TARAN KILLAM, ACTOR, IMPERSONATING PAUL RYAN: You think you're talking to me because you do the P-90x workout? Let me tell you something, buddy. There's Jim strong and there's old man strong, OK? You want to know my work-out? When the Amtrak breaks down at my morning commute, I strip down to my tighty-whities, I push that all the way to Washington.



BERMAN: Almost as good as the real debate. Almost as funny.

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

Back to our top story this morning, round two of the presidential debates. We showed you two polls indicating the race is very much a topic at this point. This time around even the president's own campaign aides are admitting he needs a much stronger showing against Mitt Romney. Let's get to Mark McKinnon, the former McCain 2008 presidential campaign adviser, contributor for the "Daily Beast" as well. Your intro is getting longer and longer every single time we have you on the show. Nice to see you mark. So we've heard from --


O'BRIEN: We've heard from aides that the president will be more energetic and more passionate. Does that mean to you he's going to come out swinging in this debate?

MCKINNON: Well, you know, the bar is really low for the president now, given the first performance. I think all he has to do is have a couple cups of coffee and show up with a smile and look like he wants to be there and that will be a win. I think the thing he has to be careful about is that he's not over-coached to be over-energetic. You remember in the Gore/Bush debates, he had the one that was really too hot and then to cold. So, the caution that I would recommend for the president that he not be too overheated, and that's where the caution lies.

O'BRIEN: All right, so then what is the right path to take if you were advising the president as you have done for John McCain back in 2008. What would your advice be? What does the middle ground look like?

MCKINNON: Well, it's a format that suits the president. It's a town hall so there are going to be real people involved, asking questions that aren't typical from a moderator, that can be a little offbeat. Which I think is good for the president. He just has to be the happy warrior. He has to look like he wants to be there. He has to engage. He has to be empathetic with the audience which I think is a natural instinct for him. That's a little tougher for Mitt Romney. So the challenge for Romney is going to be he's gotten very good at the formal debates, step up his game in an informal setting where he can engage and be empathetic with the audience.

O'BRIEN: Back on September 19th, my birthday by the way, you wrote "This in the daily beast, you were talking, you wrote this, the debates may be Mitt Romney's last chance to dig out. Further deterioration in attitudes about security in the Middle East and a good first debate could prove critical and shift the lost narrative for Romney to it's still a race."

Back then I'll remind folks it was Mitt Romney who was six points behind in Wisconsin, and four points behind in Virginia, in Colorado it was kind of neck and neck. But, but that's really different than what we're seeing right now. Do you see essentially that what you wrote back then has pretty much come true?

MCKINNON: Well, you know, I said that he dug a pretty deep hole but we could still see his shovel. And the reason I said that is because I remember in 2000 when the Bush campaign was down three to five points before the debates, and yet the debates offered an opportunity for us to scrape our way back up.

And I think what's happening now is the debates are more important than ever, because voters have become so cynical about what they see in advertising, and all the white noise out there, so the debates I think create an authentic opportunity for voters to really see the candidates unscripted, you know, out of the coaching, on their own, which I think is -- has become something that's really important for voters to see and hence that's why we're seeing the large movement in numbers. So tomorrow night is more important than ever.

O'BRIEN: The topic of the tax cuts was a focus in those VP debate. Martha Raddatz pushed very hard on that. When Ed Gillespie was on FOX News on Sunday, Chris Wallace was pushing him as well on that. I want to play a little bit of what he said to Chris Wallace.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Because there are a lot of questions from independent people, how do you pay for it, and he refused to say how you're going to pay for it.

GILLESPIE: What we have said is that we're going to pay for it with these by eliminating deductions. Six different studies have said this is --

WALLACE: Those are very questionable. Some of them are blogs. Some of them are from the AEI, which is an independent group.

GILLESPIE: These are very credible sources.


O'BRIEN: Have a problem do you think that that topic's going to be if there are no specific answers, and if the campaign continues to go with six credible sources, which they said a lot, and you know, if, if, if FOX News is saying listen, I think that's going to be a challenge for them.

MCKINNON: Actually I think it's an opportunity. I think Ryan missed a huge opportunity because the Romney campaign rolled out about two weeks ago, what I think is a terrific idea on this, which is the notion of capping the basket of deductions so that -- so that you as a -- as I -- as a citizen get to decide which deductions you're going to take. In other words you get like a 17 percent capped number about what deductions you can take. So you decide whether or not it's charitable or home mortgage or some combination of both.

But I think that's a terrific idea. And I don't understand why Paul Ryan didn't mention that, or even Ed mention it on Sunday, because I think that's actually a very specific idea. And you say if that doesn't cover the number, then you -- then you increase the number or lower the number. So I think that's a very specific idea that addresses how we're going to pay for it.

O'BRIEN: Forgive me. You've lost me. When you say that doesn't cover the number, what do you mean? What number?

MCKINNON: So let's say it's 17 percent and that doesn't pay for the tax cuts. Then you lower -- then you lower the deduction number to 14 percent. So you just -- in other words, the number is movable to make sure that you cover the cost.

O'BRIEN: Right. And so --

MCKINNON: Or you raise it.

O'BRIEN: But ultimately then there are some people who are not going to get certain deductions right, because you could lower that number in theory enough that your homeowners deduction or child care credit deduction becomes irrelevant, right? I mean isn't that essentially the problem that's in the details that are missing in this?

MCKINNON: Well, like I said, I think that it's a -- it's -- it's a tough choice that people will have to make. But Romney's laid it out. Said you've got to make a choice about which deduction you're going to take and we're going to cap it at a certain level. And whatever that level is, that's going to pay for whatever the tax cut is that's recommended. And if it doesn't cover it, then you either lower or raise the deduction or you lower or raise the tax cut. I think that makes great sense.

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see if that's laid out in tomorrow's debate. Of course, Mark McKinnon, thank you as always, nice to see you. We appreciate it. And Candy Crowley from CNN is going to be moderating that presidential town hall debate live tomorrow night. Our special coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN and

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a death defying record breaking what more superlatives could I throw into this, a jump, a new video showing incredible feat with angle that is pretty awesome. We'll tell you what Felix Baumgartner felt like during the dive. Fellow daredevil Nik Wallenda is going to walk us through all those sensations coming up next.

And a ball hits -- a ball comes hurtling to an NFL reporter while he's live on the air. Ouch. His reaction, pretty cool. We're going to talk about that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And both of those pictures are pretty much how I feel about the stock market these days. We're watching stocks, they're up, futures up a little bit this morning. We have some new housing information, including when we can see home prices back at peak levels. Details next. You're watching STARTING POINT.


ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. You've heard me say for months now it looks like we're turning a corner in housing. The reason, we've got rebounding home prices in construction declines in foreclosures. A recent report from Barclays Capital forecast home prices, which fell by more than a third after the housing bubble burst in 2007, could be back to peak levels as soon as 2015. Prices could rise five percent or more annually, one of the more bullish of the housing reports. We'll look at more housing data this week.

Stock futures up this morning after a tough week, the Dow coming off the worst week in more than four months. Still up about seven percent this year, helped by monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

And speaking of the Fed, the Fed chief Ben Bernanke, defending the fed against international critics who say Fed policies are hindering economic growth in developing countries. Critics say the fed is trying to stimulate the economy by ingesting money into it which is distorting currency markets and the flow of capital among the harshest critics Brazil and China. The Fed chief himself Soledad saying don't undervalue your currency. That only makes things worse.

O'BRIEN: We're going to talk a little later this morning about all of this and see exactly what, he didn't name China. He didn't name Brazil. And Bernanke was he didn't name Russia but clearly what he was talking about.

ROMANS: Most sharply worded I've heard him on this in some time.

O'BRIEN: It was one of the boldest stunts of a generation. Now the scientist from NASA, the European space agency countless other groups are studying all the data from Felix Baumgartner's death-defying leap from the edge of space. Here's the 43-year-old Austrian daredevil speaking right before he took the plunge.


FELIX BAUMGARTNER, DAREDEVIL: Sometimes you have to get up really high to see how small you are. I'm going home now.


O'BRIEN: Oh. That's awesome. You're seeing the same view that he saw as he was falling, and despite those humble words that kicked off the jump, the jump was anything but small. It shattered a 52-year-old record for the highest free-fall. It makes him the first human being to ever break the sound barrier outside of an aircraft. Amazingly, he ended up landing on his feet in an absolute perfect landing. He says this will be his last jump as a professional risk taker. He hopes to mentor the next generation of daredevils. I don't believe him on that.

With us this morning another world renowned stuntman, veteran tightrope Walker Nik Wallenda. Nice to have you back with us. You were watching this at the airport.


O'BRIEN: So describe for me the most terrifying moment for you.

WALLENDA: You know, I was sitting in that seat with him and I know those feelings leading up to an event like this and the amount of emotion and anxiety that goes into it. I felt for him for the last week as it kept becoming postponed longer and longer, because there's so much adrenaline in your body leading up to these events. So much anticipation and excitement leading up to it that it's so physically and emotionally draining, it's more than people would imagine. And the fact that it kept getting postponed mentally is just extremely draining. So I really felt for him.

And then to finally be there had to be extremely exciting. But of course there's a lot of nerves involved. You don't know the outcome. But to see the event was just absolutely amazing. I was glad that I was able to catch it. I was supposed to be on a flight and it got delayed. Who could ask for anything better. I wanted to watch it live. It was absolutely amazing, astonishing. What a great move.

O'BRIEN: There are lots of things that didn't go completely well. The balloon went higher than they thought it was supposed to go. There was a spin. We're showing pictures of when he was spinning in that free-fall. His mask had fogged up as they were going up in the balloon so he was thinking about doing the jump completely blind. As a daredevil yourself, do you sort of plan for these specific problems, or is it just at some point you have to kind of wing it? WALLENDA: You know there is a little bit of winging it. You can only trust science and technology to take you so far. At that point they didn't know what to expect. There are a lot of unknowns obviously. And you kind of just have to wing it. That's where that adrenaline and all that training really, and experience kicks in. He'd done over 250 jumps leading up to that. His military background helped him a lot, I'm sure. And as you saw, as soon as he hit the right altitude he did regain control, and all that comes with experience.

O'BRIEN: He says he's done, that this is his last stunt ever. He's going to focus on the next generation. Do you believe him? I don't believe him. But you know, I'm not a daredevil.

WALLENDA: I was sad to hear that. I read that yesterday, too. It kind of made me sad like you're done? You just did an amazing feat. You got to do something bigger, bolder. But I respect that, as well. That he wants to spend time with his family and I respect that very much. I'm not one to give up, not at my age anyway. But I'm only 33 so I plan on going for at least another 15 to 20 more years.

O'BRIEN: OK, good. We're glad to hear it. I don't believe him. Nik Wallenda, nice to have you with us this morning. Thanks for being with us.

WALLENDA: Thanks so much.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, it's called mix it up day. Mix it up at lunch day. It's intended to promote tolerance. But nearly 200 schools are backing out of mix it up day. We'll tell you why. Our Get Real STARTING POINT team headed in to talk about that. We're back in just a moment. Hi, guys. Good morning.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. A quick look at some top stories we're reporting this morning. Contaminated pain injections have sickened some 203 people. And 15 have died of that fungal meningitis outbreak, 14 states now reporting meningitis cases, Tennessee, Michigan and Virginia the hardest-hit so far.

The shuttle Endeavour has reached its final destination. Endeavour arrived yesterday at the California science center. It took more than two days to tow Endeavour from Los Angeles international airport over to the science center, a 12-mile journey. It was moving at a whopping two miles per hour.

Mitt Romney ruffled feathers when he mentioned big bird by name during the first presidential debate saying he wants to cut federal funding for PBS. Now some sesame street fans are fighting back with plans for a million Muppet march. That's November 3rd at the National Mall in Washington. I don't know if Muppets are likely voters.

O'BRIEN: How does he make that happen?

BERMAN: So many questions. I don't think they're sock puppet Muppets is what they're talking about.

O'BRIEN: I wonder if that's going to come off. Thank you, John.

Our team this morning, Chrystia Freeland is with us, a digital editor at Thompson Reuters and the author of this new book, which is called "Plutocrats, The Rise of the New Global Superrich and the Fall of Everyone Else." They're like, turn it around. You owe her $5. Also joining us this morning, Margaret Hoover whose whisper you heard, former employee of the Bush administration. Richard Socarides is with us, as well. He's a writer at New Yorker dotcom. It's nice to have you all with us.

Our "Get Real," this is a really interesting controversy surrounding school program designed to combat bullying. It's called mix it up at lunch day. October 30th is the date. It encourages kids to sit with classmates that they normally wouldn't talk to. It started 11 years ago by the Southern Poverty Law Center. This year the program is being targeted by the American Family Association, a conservative evangelical group. The group says the project is this, a quote, "nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools."

The SPLC says the lunch is not about sexual orientation. It's about breaking up cliques and having kids talk to somebody they normally wouldn't talk to. See, mix it up. And 200 schools have withdrawn this year so far from the project after the American Family Association sent out an e-mail. But it's not exactly clear why they've withdrawn.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We were talking about it. There must be a reason, right? There must be a reason. You have a great idea. Mix it up day, you're in the cafeteria. You want to sit by people -- you don't want to encourage bullying. We sit by people we don't agree with necessarily. So why would they try to say it's promoting homosexuality? As it turns out that the SLPC has decided that the American family group is a hate group and they put it on a list, so they clearly can't stand each other, these two groups.

O'BRIEN: They should mix it up.


RICHARD SOCARIDES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: So now the important thing here, right, is that bullying in school is a big problem. Most kids who are bullied in school are not gay. They are just targeted because they're different. And they're often targeted with anti-gay remarks but that's just because it's the nastiest thing kids can say about other kids, or so they think. So this program is really important and it has nothing to do with whether you're gay or straight or you know it is just promoting tolerance.

O'BRIEN: It's basics.

SOCARIDES: What we do here every day. Promote tolerance and understanding, although I don't understand you most of the time. MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And you know, bullying for kids, as a mother, that's the most scary thing if your kid comes home and says other kids were mean to them. And it does happen because you really do have to hold yourself back from going in and finding that child.


O'BRIEN: I agree. They are wrong. American Family Association and obviously the Southern Poverty Law Center should get together, clear the air, mix it up together and then go ahead and mix it up in the schools.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, new developments for the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban could help keep her safe. CNN's Reza Sayah has been following the story from the beginning. He's going to join us with his report from Islamabad next. Plus a rookie reporter find out how dangerous a NFL sideline job can be. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome back. You're watching STARTING POINT. We begin with John Berman who's got an update on the day's top stories. Good morning.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. You know, this story has shocked people around the world. A 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban.

As we speak Malala Yousafzai is being flown to a hospital in England for treatment. The Taliban tried to kill her because she publicly defied them. Malala is an outspoken promoter of education for girls in Pakistan.

And Pakistanis, many of them, outraged by the attack and are calling for a crackdown on the Taliban. Reza Sayah is in Islamabad with more on the story. Reza, you've been right on the front of the story all along. What's the latest?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. This move came suddenly this morning. I don't think too many people expected it, but indeed Malala Yousafzai being airlifted to England at this hour. We're not quite sure exactly what facility she's going to.

But we do know it's in Birmingham, and we do know that she left around 9:00 a.m. this morning, about 7-1/2 hours ago. She did make a stop in Abu Dhabi. There Pakistan's ambassador to the UAE said he briefly saw her.

He described her as unconscious. This is about a nine, eleven-hour trip with a stopover in Abu Dhabi. My guess is she'll be touching down in the U.K. in the next two to four hours. The military here had been overseeing her medical care.

And they said this was a window of opportunity to get her to a specialized facility. Mom, dad, little brother, they're with her, according to family members. In fact, here in Pakistan, a lot of people are still praying for her -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Reza Sayah in Pakistan this morning. We do hope this is a positive development in her treatment. Thank you very much.

The deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya has both campaigns on the attack, big disagreements on the level of security, and who is responsible on Sunday's "STATE OF THE UNION with Candy Crowley.


ED GILLESPIE, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Vice President Biden directly contradicted the sworn testimony of the State Department, in the debate the other night.

ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN ADVISER: The administration is responsible. Countries that provide us consulates and missions are responsible, also, for keeping us -- keeping those people safe and secure.

And an investigation is what the president and the secretary of state have asked for so that we can understand directly all the things that happened.


BERMAN: The House has already held a hearing on the attack. The Senate is also planning an investigation.

The Pentagon has launched an investigation into a collision at sea between a nuclear submarine and another Navy vessel. The submarine "Montpelier" and the cruiser "San Jacinto" came into contact Saturday morning during a training exercise off the east coast. No one was hurt, but no word yet on what caused this crash.

All right, this just in this morning the Nobel Prize in Economics has been rewarded -- awarded to Alvin E. Roth of Harvard University and Lloyd Schaply of UCLA.

Margaret knows who these people are. Maybe she can tell us a little bit.


BERMAN: Well, we'll look into that and find out what they did because they just won a big prize.

Meanwhile, a record setting night for Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. He threw a career high six touchdown passes last night as Green Bay handed the Houston Texans their first loss of the season 42- 24.

Only one unbeaten team left in the league, the Atlanta Falcons they defeated (inaudible) the Oakland Raiders 23-20 on the last second 55 yard field goal by Matt Bryant. The Falcons are now a perfect 6-0, again, the only undefeated team. All right, talk about having a nose for the football. Check out NFL network reporter, Ian Rapport, a new reporter doing a live sideline report this weekend. You can say he took one for the team.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden there really have been questions about this defense which is ranked 21st. I had an interesting talk with offensive coordinator -- with -- did you guys just see that football?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyway, anyway.


BERMAN: That's live TV, folks. He keeps right on going. Hit by a football in the face and delivers the rest of the report. We're on your side, sir. Well done.

O'BRIEN: That was well done. All right, John, thank you.

Former Senator Arlen Specter is going to be laid to rest tomorrow. He died yesterday from Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which is cancer of the white blood cells. He was 82 years old.

Specter was known as a true political wild card. He rose to prominence in the mid 1960s when he got involved in the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy.

In 2009, he famously switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. Admiral Joe Sestak was the highest ranking military official ever elected to the U.S. Congress.

He served as a member of the U.S. House Of Representatives for two terms then defeated Arlen Specter in Specter's last primary race for Senate. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us.

ADMIRAL JOE SESTAK, U.S. NAVY (RETIRED): Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: You bet. You and Arlen Specter were rivals, and sometimes very, very tough rivals. What was he like as a competitor, and as a friend that he eventually became?

SESTAK: He was great. I -- I thought I was a hard worker, but nobody outworks Arlen Specter. You know, somebody came into the office one day, and we're getting in at 6:00 a.m. and going home after midnight, he says are you really enjoying this?

I remember telling him that, boy, if you define enjoyment like John F. Kennedy once did, applying all your faculties towards excellence, yes, I do. Because that's what Arlen Specter makes me do. Reach beyond my grasp. I love being against the very best Pennsylvania's ever produced. I really did. SOCARIDES: You know, Admiral, it's so interesting, because he had a lot of tough challenges all during his life. But he really did not let them deter him from the things that he thought were important.

SESTAK: You know, you're absolutely right. He was a fighter in his own personal life, and out here on the campaign, but he was never deterred from doing what his legacy really is. And in my mind, it's the fierce advocacy for the national institute of health that affected so many families across America including mine.

When my 4-year-old daughter, when I was in the military, was struck with malignant brain cancer, it was an NIH study of chemotherapy with some stem cell effort in it that hadn't even been approved for the entire population yet that she underwent.

She's now 11 years old going on 22 because of Arlen Specter. And if any public servant can have the legacy that he had about fighting, but then doing something with your seat in the Senate, boy he has it.

There aren't going to be many like him. But I sure hope they look towards him as a pragmatist, a centrist, somebody who was willing to do a compromise, but a principled compromise, stand up to his own party, to do what was needed --

O'BRIEN: You know, he had a very -- he was a funny guy. And he had -- and he loved comedy, and he loved stand-up. And I want to play a little chunk of what he said about Ted Kennedy. Let's play that.


ARLEN SPECTER: The situation with Ted Kennedy, I was in the whirlpool, the hot tub, and in comes Kennedy, 2 5 pounds, in his birthday suit, and he plops into the -- he plops into the hot tub, and you know the old theory about a rising tide lifts all -- my head -- my head hit the ceiling.


SESTAK: You know, every year Philadelphia there's a comedy routine done by all the politicians. And you know, it goes for a couple hours. But once they knew the time Arlen Specter would show up, everybody came and packed the house. But I'll tell you something else, just before I --

You know, but they knew him as a fighter. And they knew him as an independent. I just, for example, was in the makeup here at CNN before I came on and the makeup artist who I was talking with, he said let me tell you about Arlen.

He would never put on makeup. He was who he was. And that, in my mind, is why Pennsylvania's going to remember this standard that he has set. Stood up to his party when he felt he needed to, in the economic stimulus bill.

Whether he agreed or disagreed with it because he felt it was needed for Americans, a fierce independent. O'BRIEN: Admiral Joe Sestak joining us this morning. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for joining us.

SESTAK: Great to be with you. Thanks.

O'BRIEN: I appreciate it. So what separates the super rich from the -- the 1 percent of the 1 percent? Right that's the super rich from everybody else who is not so super rich.

Chrystia's written a new book about exactly that topic the rise of the wealthiest class in the world. We're going to talk about that straight ahead on STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Election is about three weeks away. If Mitt Romney wins, he will easily be the wealthiest president ever elected. His estimated personal wealth is more than $190 million.

He falls squarely into the top 0.1 percent of the world's top earners. It's a small, but hugely influential group that Chrystia Freeland has been writing about in her new book -- who stole my book!

FREELAND: Over here!

O'BRIEN: I went to grab my book. It's called "The Rise Of The New Global Super Rich and The Fall Of Everyone Else." She writes in the book, the rise of the 1 percent is a global phenomenon and in a globalized world economy, the "Plutocrats" are the most international law both on how they live their lives and how they earn their fortunes.

You're obviously not writing specifically about Mitt Romney, but it is this class of folks who have risen to the very tippy top. I thought it's interesting that you say that those super rich have more in common with each other than they have with whoever their compatriots are in the -- scared me.

HOOVER: -- their compatriots and they also have in common with the middle class in some ways because what you say is they've built them? They actually -- they are not inherited wealth and many of them had become super rich through their own labor and their own efforts.

FREELAND: Yes, both of these things are true. I mean, on sort of the internationalization of this group and how they do increasingly have more in common with each other than with the middle class back home, you know, I think that this is a function of global capital.

You know increasingly these guys do business around the world. They are on planes, all the time and they tend to meet each other. You can be in the four seasons restaurant in Manhattan, and you know, be having lunch with an English guy.

And he'll shout across the room to an American, Steve, the last time I saw you was six weeks ago in the four seasons in Shanghai. That's how they live their lives. And it's a big difference.

I speak in the book. I spoke to Paul Volcker about this. And he said to me, you know, it's such a different world from the one that I grew up in and the one that existed when I was the head of the fed. He said these guys speaking about American CEOs. They don't think of themselves as American anymore.

O'BRIEN: What's the philosophy? Walk us through some of the philosophies of the superrich?

FREELAND: I don't want to make clear. This is a really important political and social phenomenon, but I don't think these people are bad. If you are learning an international --

O'BRIEN: -- actually.

FREELAND: Right. If you're running an international corporation it's not unpatriotic of you to think in global terms. You have to do it. But it does mean you clash, I think, with the American middle class.

And we see this in the election campaign, where you have sort of the paradigm of, are they the job creators, versus the Democrats saying, actually, you know, Bain Capital did fantastically for Bain, but sometimes that was at the cost of laying off American workers.

You had David Rubenstein recently saying, you know, I'm a great private equity guy. None of my investors have ever said to me, are you going to create jobs for workers. And that, to me, is sort of the central narrative, and one of the big fights that's happening in America today.

O'BRIEN: Interesting, all right, thank you. Everyone it's called "Plutocrats" if I had my book anywhere near me, "The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everybody Else." Thank you, we appreciate that.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, who are the big winners in the debates leading up to Election Day? "SNL" of course. Listen.




MCKINNON: What does that mean?


SUDEIKIS: No, no, no, Irish is I come over there and smack that dumb look off your face.


O'BRIEN: We're going to talk about that. Also comedian host of FX is totally biased talks political satire with us. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Let's get a quick check of the weather with meteorologist, Rob Marciano. Good morning, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Soledad. We start you off with the tropics. If you're traveling to say the Bahamas or the Northern Caribbean, we've been watching Tropical Storm Rafael, winds of 70 miles an hour.

It's 300 miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico, but some of the training storms to the east of there still affecting some of the islands.

It will probably become a hurricane here today or tomorrow. And then skirt past Bermuda, probably miss Bermuda, but may be a little bit stormy there.

Also if you're traveling to the beaches late season, maybe some rip currents and some big waves along the east coast. This front will push into some pretty tropical air across the eastern seaboard right now.

Temperatures lower 60s. Maybe some showers and thunderstorms, some could be severe across the Carolinas. In the middle of the country looking good, So Cal still looking toasty with Santa Ana winds and still more rain after a very dry summer across the Pacific Northwest, 62 Seattle, 60 Chicago and 68 degrees expected in New York -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Rob, thank you for the update. Appreciate you watching that storm for us.

The second presidential debate is just a day away. It's a chance for the American people to hear their candidates discuss the issues. Of course, more material for "SNL, Saturday Night Live," to skewer the candidates. In case you missed it, here's how they open the show this weekend.


KILLAM: He said by the end of his first term he would cut the deficit in half. Yet, he still has not put a single credible plan on the table on how to deal with the debt crisis.

SUDEIKIS: I'm sorry, Martha, with all due respect this is a bunch of malarkey.

MCKINNON: A bunch of malarkey? What does that mean?

KILLAM: It's Irish.

SUDEIKIS: No, no, no. Irish is I come over there and smack that dumb look off your face.


O'BRIEN: Comedian is the host of FX's "Totally Biased," a weekly program about news related topics. It's nice to have you with us.

W. KAMAU BELL, HOST OF FX'S "TOTALLY BIASED": Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: What makes great political comedy and satires? Is it just the big, giant characters? Is it the facial ticks Joe Biden had during the debate? What is it?

BELL: The same thing that makes every great story. You need big personalities in awkward situations. I think that's what you get when you get a political race. You get big personalities in awkward situations trying to connect to people or debates, which are totally awkward. If you mix that together, you get gold like Joe Biden last week.

FREELAND: So your show is called "Totally Biased." Is it possible to have bipartisan political humor or do we laugh at the jokes that make fun of the guys we don't agree with?

BELL: I'm a lefty. I thought that Joe Biden thing was awesome. It's great to make fun of Joe Biden. Joe Biden is perfect. He has two speeds, zero and 1,000. I think that's what great for political comedy when you get to see Joe Biden mix it up.

SOCARIDES: What's funny now about Mitt Romney and Barack Obama? What are the funniest things about them?

BELL: I mean, the funny thing about Mitt Romney is he's in this position where basically they're telling him to act like a human. I think it's great to see him be in this position where he's trying to connect with the everyday person. You guys were talking about the super rich.

He really doesn't see everyday people probably that often. It's great to see him out there mixing it up with everyday people trying to act human. It's great to see Barack have to choose, which Barack he wants to be.

FREELAND: Meaning what?

BELL: Barack's like a Swiss army knife. There's rock star Barack. There's Professor Barack. There's singing Barack. There's sexy Barack. There's a lot of different Baracks you can choose from. At the debate last week he picked annoyed Barack.

SOCARIDES: Didn't work out so well for him, did it?

HOOVER: It seemed as he --

BELL: He brought the wrong tool.

SOCARIDES: He's funny.

BELL: I have my moments, hopefully Thursdays on FX at 11:30. SOCARIDES: What's funny about John Berman?

BERMAN: You're asking too much.

HOOVER: I have a serious question. Not so serious. When a president came on to the national scene before he was president and then when he was elected president, it seems like there was difficulty for the community to really nail it and get a great impersonation of it.

O'BRIEN: Was it because he was the first black guy? Nobody wanted to make fun of the black person.

BELL: I think it was easy for me. Maybe that's because I'm a black guy. I felt a lot of people hadn't seen that guy on the seat. Wait a minute. When you say it like that. A lot of guy hadn't seen that guy on the scene before. I was like, that's my guy.

HOOVER: How did you make fun of him? What's the most sort of humor point about the president?

BELL: The thing I said. The fact I think he's one of the -- automatically when he was a black senator from Illinois he was already in the top 100 black guys of all time. Then he becomes the president.

He's in this weird position of having to be perfect while at the same time having to run against Romney. It's just this funny disconnect. I could see him in the debates last week, like, who invited this dude?

HOOVER: Something a lot of people say about the president is that part of the reason that he comes across as so cool and aloof is because he's black and he's very conscious of not coming across as angry black man. Do you think that's true? If it is true, is he right to be worried about that?

BELL: Yes. Black people are especially cool. I agree with that part of your point. Yes. I think that's true. If he gets angry, he's so angry, the angry black guy. Like I said, he has the Swiss army knife in the back pocket. He doesn't know which one to go with.

O'BRIEN: We're going to see which one he comes with when there is the debate tomorrow night. Thank you. It's nice to see you come out. Appreciate it. What do you say, 11:30 Thursdays on FX.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, doing the countdown really to Obama/Romney take two. We'll be joined by a man who knows what it's like to debate Mitt Romney. The former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will join us live.

Can the New York Yankees recover without their captain? I had two 8- year-old boys crying in the back of the car. It was a mess. We'll tell you why things are looking pretty bleak for the Bronx Bombers, but they can come back. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.