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Presidential Debate Assessed; Interview with John Sununu; Interview with Ken Rogoff; Candidates Tangle In Second Debate; Obama's Debate Focus; Romney Slams Obama On Libya; U.S. Embassy In Stockholm Evacuated; Feds Raid Massachusetts Lab; "Drunk For 50 Days"; Unsportsmanlike Conduct; Presidential Debate Body Language

Aired October 17, 2012 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. Our starting point this morning the fiery rematch. President Obama, Mitt Romney facing off in their second debate. And the sparks flew.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Governor Romney says he has a five-point plan. He doesn't have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. That plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The president's policies have been exercised over the last four years and they haven't put Americans back to work.


O'BRIEN: And this heated moment could change the momentum of both campaigns. Listen.


ROMNEY: It took the President 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CANDY CROWLEY, DEBATE MODERATOR: He did, in fact, sir. So let me call it an act of terror.

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?


O'BRIEN: We're fact checking the candidate's statements this morning. Former New Hampshire governor John Sununu is back. Ken Rogoff as well, professor of economics and public policy at Harvard. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley will join us, Robert Gibbs, senior adviser to the Obama campaign will join us as well. And Candy Crowley, who moderated that debate last night is going to sit down and talk to us about that, as well. It's Wednesday, October 17th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.

Morning, welcome everybody. Our starting point this morning, President Obama's round two rebound. Last night's showdown on long island felt nothing like the first time around. This time the President stood toe-to-toe with Mitt Romney. The two candidates kind of slugging it out in what was sometimes a very tense town hall-style debate. Very tense considering it was a town hall-style debate. Here's how the nation scored it when it was over. A CNN/ORC poll of registered voters who watched the debate gave the decision to the President, 46 percent to 39 percent who said it was Mitt Romney who won.

Senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is with us this morning. Who's literally gotten no sleep. Three out of four voters felt that the President exceeded their expectations way different from the last time around.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Way different. And you and I have witnessed it, watched it together, in the room. And there's no question that the President came to play. Mitt Romney came to play, also, and that resulted in a crackling clash. You may think the debate in front of undeclared, persuadable voters, would produce polite performances.

ROMNEY: On government land --

OBAMA: No it isn't.

BASH: Think again. In at times this town hall looked like a schoolyard brawl.

OBAMA: Not true, Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: So how much did you cut?

OBAMA: Not true.

ROMNEY: I had a question and the question was, how much did you cut them by.

OBAMA: You want me to answer a question.

BASH: If debates are about moments, one here was on Libya.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?

BASH: It was the question conservatives were waiting for. A chance to slam the President for lack security and changing stories on what prompted last month's deadly Benghazi attack.

ROMNEY: And there was no demonstration involved. It was a terrorist attack. But I think you have to ask yourself why didn't we know five days later, when the ambassador to the United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration. How could we have not known?

BASH: The president threw down the commander in chief card. OBAMA: The suggestion that anybody in my team would play politics or mislead, when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That's not what we do. That's not what I do as commander in chief.

BASH: Romney's offensive on national security did not go as planned.

OBAMA: The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror.

ROMNEY: On the day after the attack he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror? You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror?

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: He did, in fact, sir. So let me -- let me call it an act of terror.

OBAMA: Could you say that a little louder, Candy?

BASH: Throughout this debate the President tried to make up for the first one. This time he used that 47 percent attack line.

OBAMA: When he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims, who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.

BASH: And Romney, who dominated the stage in the first debate, was going for a repeat performance.

ROMNEY: You'll get your chance in a moment. I'm still speaking. And the answer is I don't believe people think that's the case -- that wasn't a question. That was a statement.

BASH: But an attempt to reach the critical female vote may have fallen flat. He answered a question about equal pay with a story about searching for women in his Massachusetts cabinet.

ROMNEY: I went to a number of women's groups and said, can you help us find folks? And they brought us whole binders full of women.

BASH: Within moments, Romney's binders had its own twitter handle.

The president went after Romney as a flip-flopper.

OBAMA: When you were governor of Massachusetts you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, "this plant kills" and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly you're a big champion of coal.

ROMNEY: Romney appeared determined to use his rehearsed lines, even when they were off topic. The question was on immigration but Romney launched into a defense of his offshore investments, with a practiced pivot against the President. ROMNEY: Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. And I understand they do include investments outside the United States, including in Chinese companies. Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: I've got to say --

ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: You know, I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours.



BASH: Now that -- that was clearly a moment that Mitt Romney thought he had the President, and the President came right back at him. And that was maybe indicative of so many moments, Soledad, that we saw last night. Very, very interesting that the whole format of the town hall, going into it you thought maybe that they were going to be a little bit more cautious because the whole idea is to play to the undecided voters, they want to be careful not to come across as too aggressive, obnoxious, frankly. They didn't care.

O'BRIEN: You knew it was going to be a very different kind of town hall than the sort of sometimes a little bit sleepy town halls that we see. Mrs. Jones, what do you think?

BASH: There was nothing sleepy about it.

O'BRIEN: Very interesting to watch. Dana, thank you very much. Another man who has been up for a little bit as well, John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign, joining us this morning. Good morning, sir. So nice to see you. Thank you for talking with us.


O'BRIEN: I'm really well, thank you.

SUNUNU: Pretty one-sided package you put forth. You left out the fact that Candy Crowley admitted later on that Mitt Romney was right on the Libya terrorism issue. So it would be nice to include that the next time --

O'BRIEN: Well, let's include it right now. You love to jump right into it. Let's go for that. Talking about Benghazi, let's play a chunk first of the original exchange. I know Dana just had that a moment ago in her piece but we'll play it again and where Candy jumps in and talks about act of terror, and then we'll play what she said after that. Go ahead.

SUNUNU: Well, you played it already. O'BRIEN: No, no, no, let's do it again.


OBAMA: The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror, and I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record. Because it took the President 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: He did, in fact, sir. So let me -- let me call it an act of terror.

OBAMA: Could you say that a little louder, Candy?

CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror.


O'BRIEN: And there were cheers. And then Candy went on to say that, in fact, there was -- it took about two weeks for the whole idea to come -- to come out where there was a lot of back and forth on exactly what happened, was it a tape, was it not. Let's play that.

CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror. It did, as well, take -- it did, as well, take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You're right about that.


ROMNEY: The administration -- the administration indicated that this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.

CROWLEY: They did.


O'BRIEN: So that's really how it went. There were two sets of applause.

SUNUNU: No it isn't. You left out -- you left out Candy going on television later on, and admitting that Mitt Romney was right. And the fact is --

O'BRIEN: Sir --

SUNUNU: The fact is in that Rose Garden speech the President first suggested it was -- not suggested, said it was the video, and then two weeks later, at the U.N., the President goes out and tells the world six times it's the video. The president got caught lying last night. And I think the world should know that.

O'BRIEN: So then let's walk through that, because, in fact if you guys would do me a favor in the back, send out all the source material so anybody who follows us on twitter can look up what the President said at the U.N. They can also see what the President said the day after the attack on September 12th. Let's play the Rose Garden statement first. Please.


OBAMA: Last night we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi. As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.


O'BRIEN: So if you look at that entire transcript from --

SUNUNU: But you left out the first part. And it's the first part where he's trying to tell the American public that it's because somebody in the U.S. used their freedom of First Amendment right and made a video that was negative that caused the problem.

O'BRIEN: Are you --

SUNUNU: This is ridiculous that you're trying -- that you're trying to defend the President, who two weeks later, five days later he sends out his ambassador to the U.N. to five talk shows to say it's the video.

O'BRIEN: Governor --

SUNUNU: Two weeks later the President goes to the international stage, and says video six times. That's ridiculous.

O'BRIEN: Governor --

SUNUNU: It's ridiculous you're trying to defend him on this.

O'BRIEN: I'm trying to get a question to you. If I may, if you look at the Rose Garden statement, you say earlier. It is not there. There is no videotape that he's talking about. He's talking about people have argued that maybe he's talking about 9/11, it was the day after the anniversary of 9/11, certainly. But if you look at the actual statement from the Rose Garden, in this particular one, he does say act of terror. What Candy corrected him, the Governor, on last night was that issue.

Now, my question for you is, wasn't that a lost opportunity? By picking on that particular thing, act of terror, which he did say, he ended up losing, I thought, the bigger point, which was there's been a lot of back and forth, a lot of contradiction, you heard from Secretary Rice -- Ambassador Rice, rather one thing. You heard from Jay Carney something else. They took a couple weeks before they were able to get their story to the. But in that moment you see Governor Romney looking very confused about this act of terror line. Wasn't that a big loss? That's my question.

SUNUNU: No. No, because what he did is put this into the conversation again. And now people understand that the President had -- and his ambassador to the U.N., and Jay Carney, and all the apologists for this White House, and all the groupies on television that are trying to cover his butt have been lying about the President trying to deceive America that that tragedy was the result of a video, rather than acknowledging right from the beginning that this was a well-planned, well-executed, terrorist attack --

O'BRIEN: But I thought the President --

SUNUNU: -- which undermines the President's claim that we no longer have terrorism rampant in that area.

O'BRIEN: The President, so you realize that what he said in the debate last night was the day after the attack, here was the statement from the Rose Garden, and said no acts of terror will ever shake --

SUNUNU: He got caught lying. Because he was referring, "A," to the original 9/11. And "B," to the previous paragraph in which he inferred that it was a video --

O'BRIEN: -- what you're saying.

SUNUNU: This is ridiculous. And if you're dwelling -- if you're going to dwell on this you're out of your mind.

O'BRIEN: Well, I guess I'm just asking the questions. You can call that dwelling on something. You're the one who wanted to jump in and start with Benghazi, so I went with what you wanted to start with, sir.

SUNUNU: Let's go with it. Let's go with it.

O'BRIEN: What I would say is people can go ahead and take a look at the first source material, we'll send that out. You can read the president's speech, and you can see if, in fact, what you believe he's referring to when he uses the phrase "act of terror." So why don't we move on.

SUNUNU: And don't forget to send out the five shows that the ambassador to the U.N. went on, and don't forget to send out the clips of the president two weeks later saying it was the video six times and put out four days after that the Candy Crowley clip in which Candy Crowley acknowledges that the president was lying.

O'BRIEN: Let's move on, shall we? You know, I'm curious to know if you believe that it is -- there was some weakness in Governor Romney when the president was able to use the Governor's own words and own positions against him in that debate last night. I'm going to run two clips that I think are good examples of where the president was able to do that effectively. Let's play those.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Romney said he's a big coal guy. And keep in mind governor when you were governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant, and pointed at it and said, this plant kills, and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly you're a big champion of coal.

So, what I've tried to do is be consistent. First of all, I think Governor Romney was for an assault weapons ban before he was against it. And he said that the reason he changed his mind was, in part, because he was seeking the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. So, that's On the Record.


O'BRIEN: Is that a problem with your candidate? The shifting using his own --


O'BRIEN: Why not?

SUNUNU: Look, that plant that the Governor was referring to was violating standards. But what we have is an Obama administration that has passed standards that is closing hundreds, hundreds of coal plants in the United States. That's why the coal miners in Ohio rallied against Obama. That's why Obama is not getting what is traditionally an automatic endorsement from the coal union, because the coal union is livid.

O'BRIEN: We're talking specifically --

SUNUNU: -- turning his back on coal. And secondly let me go --


SUNUNU: You put two points out. Let me deal with them.

O'BRIEN: Carry on.

SUNUNU: And Governor Romney did sign legislation that included in there the ban on those kinds of weapons in the state of Massachusetts. It is a different thing to have a position within a state, especially if you believe in the 10th Amendment, that the states are the places where you can have differences in policies like that, and as a governor he exercised it. But we are now talking about a national policy. And on a national policy the Governor has made it clear that he is firm on the second amendment.

O'BRIEN: So when you're talking about the first part, that was Salem harbor and that was back in 2006, and that is what he said. I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people, and that plant, that plant kills people, you're saying that that was accurate.

SUNUNU: I'm saying that what he did as a governor in Massachusetts was appropriate, and what the president has done to the country in this drawing the national coal industry -- O'BRIEN: But that wasn't my question. My question was, is that --

SUNUNU: I answered your question.

O'BRIEN: No, sir, you did not or I missed it. So try again. Did he --

SUNUNU: You miss a lot of things, Soledad. What he said about the Salem plant was that the Salem plant had a violation problem and he was talking about the specific violations. What we're talking about is the destruction of a coal industry in fulfillment of an Obama commitment in 2008 that if anybody wanted to build a coal plant, he would make sure they went bankrupt.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about taxes, shall we? Because that's always a good topic.


O'BRIEN: Here is what Governor Romney said last night talking about dividends. Let's play that.


ROMNEY: Every middle income taxpayer no longer will pay any tax on interest, dividends, or capital gains. No tax on your savings. That makes life a lot easier. If you're getting interest from a bank, if you're getting a statement from a mutual fund, or any kind of investments you have, you don't have to worry about filing taxes on that, because there will be no taxes for anybody making $200,000 a year and less on your interest, dividends, and capital gains.


O'BRIEN: Again, there was not a lot of specifics last night about exact deductions that could potentially be compromised. But in the particular thing that he said, you no longer have to pay any tax on interest, dividends, or capital gains, no tax on your savings, do you think that that really helps the middle class? Do you think middle class people are raking in a lot of money and paying a lot of money in tax on capital gains and tax on their savings?

SUNUNU: A lot of elderly who are retired fall in that middle class, and that helps them tremendously. They are part of the middle class. Yes, it does help the middle class, particularly those that are putting money away in savings accounts for kids going to college. They don't have to pay taxes on the savings interest that they get there.

Look, Mitt Romney's plan is a huge benefit to the middle class, and as he said last night, the top five percent will continue to pay 60 percent of the total income taxes in America. That's his commitment, that's the plan. And frankly, I think President Obama is running around just explaining to the public that he can't do the arithmetic to understand that package. There are six major studies that confirm exactly what Mitt Romney has put forward. O'BRIEN: And as you know, I believe it was Chris Wallace who said those six major studies, they're certainly not bipartisan. They don't necessarily don't have a stake in it, and some of them are blog posts. So I think that's unfair to say. But we are actually out of time, governor. Governor we're always happy to have you. Thank you for joining us this morning.

SUNUNU: It's always good to come on the groupie channel. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Nice to have you, sir. I hope you have a good day.

I always need a cocktail after I speak to him. I really need like a vodka and tonic after I talk to him.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I wonder why he was one of our hosts for that program cross fire. You really wonder?

O'BRIEN: He takes such exception when you like read quotes and comments, and we sort of have a similar issue I thought Mayor Giuliani when you try to get to let's look at what specifically was said. Let's give everybody the opportunity to read through what was said and they can also obviously just search for themselves online, and you get attacked for it.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Candy did not say that Romney was right, that the president didn't say it was an act of terror. What Candy said, she can speak for herself, Romney was right overall --

O'BRIEN: You are correct about that, the whole idea about it taking two weeks for this to come out. Yes. You are correct about that.

BERMAN: And after later in the analysis, did not go back --

O'BRIEN: Well you know. He has a point of view, I think it's fair to say, and he loves to shout about it on TV often.

ROMANS: Exactly. And there is a reason why the Romney campaign loves to have him out on TV as their spokesman or surrogate. We all speak to other people who are very much aligned with the Romney campaign. Who might be a little bit more candid and have been more candid certainly with me I'm sure with you guys as well about the way things went the specific issues.

O'BRIEN: Anyway we put all that --

ROMANS: Certainly charming when he says you're out of your mind.


O'BRIEN: I got to the point where I no longer take offense at all at anything he says, clearly. Obviously he's hitting on me.


O'BRIEN: We're going to get reaction from democratic Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. He'll be talking with us. Coming up next more debate analysis when President Obama suggested Mitt Romney's tax plan would cost $8 trillion, kind of added another trillion in there last night. Was he accurate? We're going to break down the economic claims from last night. Harvard professor Ken Rogoff is going to join us.

And then a football coach gets out of hand, decked -- really? We could do one of these stories every single day. It's getting out of hand. We're going to talk about the fallout from that straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. At issue critical to voters came up in last night's debate. I thought they actually spent a lot of time talking about this issue, jobs and the economy. Listen.


OBAMA: Governor Romney was a very successful investor. If somebody came to you, governor, with a plan that said, here, I want to spend $7 trillion or $8 trillion and we're going to pay for it, but we can't tell you until maybe after the election how we're going to do it, you wouldn't have taken such a sketchy deal. And neither should you.

ROMNEY: The president's spending, the President's bar rowing, will cost this nation to have to raise taxes on the American people, not just at the high end. A recent study has shown the people in the middle class will see $4,000 a year higher taxes, as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration. I will not let that happen.


O'BRIEN: Ken Rogoff here to break down those economic claims. He's a professor of economics and policy at Harvard University. Who do you think last night was stronger and had more facts and details in their position on the economy?

KEN ROGOFF, ECONOMIST, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, I think we really saw a reprieve of highlights of the first debate, where President Obama was very insistent that you aren't giving enough specifics, your plan isn't going to work, it's going to have a bigger deficit. And by the way, it favors the rich. And Governor Romney, I think, was very strong on, look, the economy hasn't grown well for four years. I think I can do better. And, you know, I think around the details, by the way I might mention there was all this discussion of the gasoline price, which was a bit of a non sequitur.

O'BRIEN: Why do you consider that to be a non sequitur? Because a lot was made, they probably spent four minutes or something on where gas prices were, where gas prices are, and what would happen if the other guy got into office or stayed into office. What would happen with those gas prices?

ROGOFF: I think the world demand depends a lot. We're not the only country in the world buying oil. And so when China grows really fast prices go up. When the world's in recession prices go down. President Obama made that point. Governor Romney rightly said there are al these new technologies. We should exploit them. That might help. This just isn't something that the President of the United States controls no more than the price of soup -- cans of soup or something. So I -- I can understand energy policy is really important for the price of gas. That's just not something where the buck stops at the President.

ROMANS: Ken, Christine here. I think it was interesting that both very wisely did not put some sort of promise on a here to-term price of gas. Because that's a promise they would not be able to keep no question.

ROGOFF: Not for a month.

ROMANS: Let us know a little bit about I guess the GOP, the advisers to Mitt Romney and what -- what I guess -- what their assumptions are about the recovery that we have seen. You wrote the book about what recoveries look like after financial crises. They have been claiming over and over again that the President has made it worse. Give us -- have they made it worse or are the President -- or are Mitt Romney's advisers wrong?

ROGOFF: There are two sides to this. Going forward, Mitt Romney's advisers believe they can grow the economy a lot faster. And if you want to know the difference between President Obama saying you're going to cost $7 trillion or $8 trillion, and Governor Romney saying, no, it's going to work, I think they have very different views on how much growth they're going to get. I think that's sort of the secret weapon that Governor Romney believes he has. He doesn't want to be real specific about it because then the Democrats might come back and say that's pie in the sky.

But if we look backwards, I think Romney's advisers have been wrong to say that this is all his fault, that it would have been much better if he'd done something else. When you have a deep financial crisis, you look at U.S. history, you look at other countries, it's very hard to come roaring back. We could ask, you know, could it have been better? We could also ask could it have been worse?

So I think in looking at the history, particularly the older history of the U.S., what the other examples are, they've really been way overstating the case at how badly he's done. But they're very legitimate questions about what are we going to do going forward? Do you have a plan for growth?

O'BRIEN: Ken Rogoff joining us this morning. I'm sure you were fascinated by this debate. They spent a lot of time on the substance. It's great to have you sir. Appreciate it.

ROGOFF: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: You bet. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Morning. Welcome, everybody. Our team joining us this morning, Roland Martin is CNN political analyst. It's nice to have you with us.


O'BRIEN: Well, nothing. What's happening? Ron Brownstein is the editorial director of "National Journal." Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz from the great state of Utah is back with us this morning.

It's nice to have everybody with us. John Berman is sticking around. Don't want to miss you there.


O'BRIEN: This morning we're talking a little bit about the write-ups on the debate and kind of like sports stories. I thought it was a much more aggressive debate than I had predicted. Considering it was the town hall format.

It was a tense night as the President and Mitt Romney duked it out in front of those uncommitted voters from Nassau County in New York. Here's a little chunk of it.


ROMNEY: The president's policies have been exercised over the last four years and they haven't put Americans back to work.

OBAMA: Governor Romney says he's got a five-point plan. Governor Romney doesn't have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.

ROMNEY: How much did you cut licenses and permits on federal land and federal waters?

OBAMA: Governor Romney, here's what we did. There were a whole bunch of oil companies --

ROMNEY: I had a question and the question was how much did you cut them by? How much did you cut them by?

OBAMA: I'm happy to answer the question.

ROMNEY: All right, and it is.

OBAMA: Here's what happens.


O'BRIEN: President Obama's renewed energy led 46 percent of people to say that he won last night in our poll. Martin O'Malley is a Democratic governor of the state of Maryland. He is the chair of the Democratic Governor's Association, supporter of the Obama campaign. It's nice to you have, sir. Thank you for being with us. Polls show --


O'BRIEN: You're welcome. Polls show the one I just showed there that President Obama was sort of declared the winner. But when you actually drill down in some of these polls if you look specifically at who would better handle the economy, who would better handle health care, we can throw some of these polls up.

Clear offering, clear plans for solving the country's problems, who would better handle taxes, all of those polls it was actually Mitt Romney who led in those.

And I would have to imagine, if you're part of the Obama campaign, you're looking at those numbers and saying, this is problematic. Winning overall, but losing on the drilldown cannot be a good thing.

O'MALLEY: Well, there are other polls also that say that people overwhelmingly agree that the policies that drove our country into the job losses and recessions were the policies that Governor Romney wants to take us back to.

So sometimes it's hard to recognize and to reconcile the logic and reasoning behind some of these polls. But I think what's very clear is that President Obama dominated the debate last night and you know that because both sides are talking about the President's performance.

I thought he drew very sharp and clear contrasts between policies that are actually causing us to recover jobs versus the policies of the past that Governor Romney wants to take us back to because of the job losses in the first place.

And the crystallizing moment, at least as I was watching it, Soledad, came when President Biden turned to Governor Romney and said to him, if a business person presented the sort of sketchy plan that you've presented for our economic recovery, or these massive tax cuts for corporations, and the wealthy, you wouldn't invest in that because there aren't the details to back up the plan. And so I thought it was a very strong performance for the President last night.

O'BRIEN: And I think you just promoted the Vice President Biden. You said President Biden, but I think you mean President Obama.

O'MALLEY: Did I say that? I meant President Obama.

O'BRIEN: That's OK.

O'MALLEY: It must be --

O'BRIEN: There was an editorial in "The New York Times" today, which was O'Biden, that said that said this, instead of letting Mitt Romney -- Mr. Romney get away with a parade of falsehoods and unworkable promises he regularly. And they are talking about President Obama, regularly and forcefully called his opponent wrong. What he did not do was describe how a second term would be more successful than his first has been, and, in particular, how he would cut -- show how he would cut through the thicket of Republican opposition if re-elected.

That's been a consistent theme that laying out the plan, I thought he was good on having Governor Romney on the defensive during the night. But in terms of here's the plan, here's why I deserve the next four years, "The New York Times" says you know, he's weak. And others have said it too.

O'MALLEY: I'm not exactly sure why they say that because as I look at it, we've had 31 months in a row of positive private sector job growth. The plan for the future is to continue to grow jobs.

And in fact even some of the forecasts say that there will be more jobs created in the next four years if we continue on this better path than if we go back to the failed policies of the past.

You look at what the President's laid out in terms of manufacturing jobs, bringing those manufacturing jobs home, increasing by a million the number of manufacturing jobs out there, building on the success of restructuring the auto industry, doubling exports and developing more domestic clean and renewable energy --

O'BRIEN: -- I hear you.

O'MALLEY: These are all parts of moving forward, but they're not talking points they're the plan for the second term --

O'BRIEN: Well, Ron Brownstein is here and he has -- his column in "National Journal" was very similar to what I think the assessment of "The New York Times" is.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm interested Governor, your thought, other than continuing on the direction we're on, what did you hear last night was the clearest indication of what the President would do to cause job growth to be faster in a second term than it has been in a first term.

Where almost everyone agrees that it is not fulfilled the expectations that they were hoping initially. So what did you hear last night about what he would do in a second term to make that job growth accelerate?

O'MALLEY: Well, I think you heard the policies about moving forward with a balanced approach. So we have the dollars to invest in infrastructure, to invest in clean energy. The ability to actually increase the number of stem graduates in our economy.

All of these things go to the. They're all connected with the comprehensive plan to move our country forward, and to create jobs. On the other hand, what we heard from Governor Romney last night was nothing new. He doesn't have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan, which is to hold hostage the other 98 percent of us in order to make sure the 2 percent of the top earners do better.

So, the other way to look at what the President -- I mean, if you look at all of the jobs bills the President introduced, that the Republican Congress, including the congressman with you on the panel today voted against, you will see that as a road map forward.

And after this election, there will be a better consensus for forward and not back.

O'BRIEN: Do we have time to talk about Libya? How much time do I have? OK, we got a minute to talk about Libya. Let's run a chunk of the debate last night talking specifically about Libya. Let's play that.

It looks like we don't have it. This is the moment in the debate where, where Candy Crowley essentially fact checks what and I think Governor Romney was surprised by the fact that that the fact President Obama did use acts of terror in a phrase.

This is now sort of I think is the big issue that is coming out of the debate last night. And I think we can pull it up and we can play that chunk so everybody knows the specifics of what I'm talking about.


OBAMA: The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror. And I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the President 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN, MODERATOR: He did, in fact, sir. So let me -- let me call it an act of terror.

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror.


O'BRIEN: So he did call it acts of terror. And the congressman sitting next to me who you just referenced a moment ago has said well, he believes that he wasn't referring specifically to Benghazi that he was referring to generally to 9/11, and generally to terror in general.

Candy went on in the next moments to say that, in fact, the, the real issue, the correction was that Governor Romney sort of picked a quote that that the President has said but.

But on the main, ultimately the conversation about did they flip-flop and were there competing versions of what exactly happened was, was very true. Is this going to be a problem for this campaign moving forward?

O'MALLEY: That's a question for me?

O'BRIEN: Yes, it is, sir.

O'MALLEY: Soledad, I think the President last night stated very clearly that he said the day after the Benghazi attacks it was acts of -- acts of terror. This is a developing situation.

This was one that Mitt Romney pounced on right away as a political football and Candy Crowley was right to call the objective truth the objective truth. And that's what we need in the campaign.

And I'm glad she stepped up and did call Governor Romney on that. The fact of the matter is the President, the very day after referred to this as acts of terror. And I don't know how it could be any clearer on that.

And there's not a doubt in my mind that there will be a full investigation of everything related to this. And there has been no criticism in the history of our country who is more ruthlessly and relentlessly pursued terror enemies of the United States than Barack Obama has.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know what we're going to do, we've put out on Twitter the verbiage of the President's comments in the Rose Garden so everybody can look at them and do their interpretation of what he meant by the acts of terror line, which was as Candy pointed out accurately quoted.

Governor, thank you for talking with us this morning. Governor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat from the state of Maryland, we appreciate your time.

Got to take a break, ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a raised eyebrow, a smirk, a glance, despite what they say, it's the facial expressions during the debate that could reveal a lot more. Sometimes even more than the words are saying. How about expert in facial coding who will join us to talk about that?

Also, did you see this picture, the youth football coach clocking the ref. Nice example for the kids. We've been doing these a lot lately. It's really starting to bother me. We're going to take a short break. We'll talk about that on the other side.


BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT everyone. Some breaking news to tell you about, the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm evacuated this morning over a possible security scare. Police say a suspicious envelope containing white powder sparked the scare. The envelope is being investigated now at a secure location.

The Massachusetts pharmaceutical company linked to a deadly outbreak of meningitis is now the target of a federal criminal investigation. A search warrant was executed yesterday, Tuesday, at the New England Compounding Center.

Fifteen people have died from a non-contagious form of meningitis associated with a contaminated steroid produced there. And federal officials say more issues have been reported with drugs produced by the company.

A Ukrainian man is facing federal charges for allegedly trying to open emergency exit door of a moving jet in Salt Lake City. That's a bad idea. He told federal agents he'd been drunk for 50 days running.

That's also a bad idea. And he thought the plane's wing was on fire. Delta Flight 1215 from Boston to Salt Lake City had just touched down Monday night when the man leaped from his seat and began trying to pry the exit door open. He was subdued by passengers.

O'BRIEN: Can you imagine being on that plane? You'd be like sit down.

BERMAN: I can't imagine --

MARTIN: Physically fighting.

BERMAN: What you're looking at is the video we've been telling you about. This is the Youth League Football coach who was caught on camera punching a referee in the face. He is now facing battery charges in Florida.

West Park Saints Assistant Coach Dion Robinson was apparently upset about unsportsmanlike conduct, a call made against him during the game. And Robinson's fellow coaches are actually standing by him.

They say the ref here was in the wrong. Not sure how that could be. The Miami Dade Extreme Youth Football League, it is extreme, is how considering kicking their team out of the league.

O'BRIEN: OK, so the refs could be in the wrong. You still can't clock him in the head, right?

MARTIN: In the wrong, what? Walking on the wrong sideline? How is he in the wrong?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That has to be at least another 15 yards.

O'BRIEN: At least, at least. Still ahead this morning, we're going to talk about sort of the facial expressions that we saw in the debate.

Raised eyebrows, smirks, glance, sometimes the candidates are saying one thing, but their facial expressions are revealing something else. We'll talk about that straight ahead. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Both President Obama, Mitt Romney brought their A games to last night's town hall debate with a decidedly strong performances from both men. Like any heated exchange between two presidential hopefuls, there was a much more subtle game being played.

One is relying on facial expressions and body language, which in many cases can say a lot more than what the candidate is actually saying. Joining us this morning to talk about some of those interactions, facial coding expert, and also the President of "Sensory Logic," Dan Hill. It's nice to have you with us.

DAN HILL, FACIAL CODING EXPERT: Thank you. Good morning.

O'BRIEN: So when you're watching the debate, we're all listening to content and you're watching to see if what they're saying matches up with what their eyes are doing?

HILL: Absolutely, 25 percent of the brain is devoted to processing visuals. That's going on all the time. It's really decisive because it feeds into your emotional response.

George Orwell said by the age of 50, a man has the face he deserves. Well, in the first debate, what we saw from Obama was kind of the face the Congress has given him. He looked annoyed, kind of disillusioned.

MARTIN: Did you say Congress?

HILL: Congress. This was like a man coming back from the dead. and the last time, he showed a lot of sadness and a lot of resignation. Sadness is an emotion means I kind of have resigned and given up. This time he was fighting for his issues. He was emoting strongly. Only time he showed sadness was when he got to the gun debate.

O'BRIEN: We're looking at a side by side from the first debate and the debate from last night. And you were just talking about that, looking sad, which he only did really once.

HILL: In the debate, yes because last time his eyes were down. He was looking at his notes, slumped in his demeanor. He looked small on the stage and he's supposed to be the President. This time he came on strong.

O'BRIEN: We have been talking and arguing and parsing what people have said about Benghazi.

HILL: Sure.

O'BRIEN: You were looking at response to the question itself. Let's play that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This question actually comes from a brain trust of my friends at Global Telecom Supply. (END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: What do you see there?

HILL: Three things actually. It was not the best moment for Obama. First when the mouth pulls wide, you have fear. You have anxiety, you kind of freeze for a moment.

O'BRIEN: Not a question you want.

HILL: We do not want to have a president who freezes. We want him moving the country forward and making difference. So he showed fear. He gulped. His inner eyebrows raised in another sign of fear.

Now later on when he started saying how dare you challenge basically my patriotism and caring about what happened in Benghazi, he came on really strong, almost as if he compensated for that initial fear, but he did have the fear.

BROWNSTEIN: -- about town halls as an opportunity to demonstrate empathy. There was a lot of aggression, conflict, strength. Were there moments or was either more effective at kind of projecting understanding, empathy, getting average people?

HILL: One of the things that Romney, I think, did well in this debate, he has shown me things he never showed me before. I actually trailed the guy in Iowa in 2007. I was this close to him sometimes hours on end, watching expressions. I saw things last night have never seen before.

O'BRIEN: What did you see?

HILL: What he showed last night was much more disgust than he normally shows. Why is this important? When the upper lip curls and when the nose wrinkles --

O'BRIEN: We have shots of that. Why don't we play those while you're talking about that.

HILL: OK, that's basically rejection. He is trying to get voters to reject the Obama economic policies the last four years --

MARTIN: He seems a little ticked. The president was getting under his skin.

HILL: Very much so.

MARTIN: Did Romney also make a mistake? I thought several times he kept turning away from the audience, going at the President.

O'BRIEN: Into his personal space. We have a clip as well. Let's play that.

MARTIN: He would engage had him, brush him off and walk toward someone. HILL: Yes, that was brilliant because you know, the back of the face -- we are a market research firm. If an actor in a TV spot shows the back of the face, you don't get nearly the same emotional connection and empathy opportunity as if you see the front of the face.

There's part of the brain that reads people's faces that's eight times more sensitive than the part of the brain that reads objects, friend or foe. LBJ said if you can't walk in the room and tell me if you're with me or against me --

BERMAN: It was about one of the candidate's wives, Ann Romney.

HILL: Absolutely. I knew right away who lost this debate before it got to the poll. Ann Romney right after the debate showed embitterment.

O'BRIEN: That's embitterment?

HILL: The mouth is pulled tight and you have upward thrust from the jaw area. The mouth goes down a little bit. That is anger and disgust and it was in the eyes and in the mouth and it was in the lips.

BERMAN: You saw it in the first with Michelle Obama.

HILL: Michelle Obama first debate looked disillusion before the debate got under way. After the second debate, you knew who lost the second debate.

MARTIN: Any word from the two of them when they walked off the stage?

HILL: They were much happier with this one, to say the least.

MARTIN: Romney left earlier than the President. He didn't stick around as long as he did this time than he did the first time.

HILL: He had a moment when he showed a little anger. Obama really got under his skin this time when he started going after taxes and 1 percent, boom, boom, boom, lots of anger from Romney and Ann showed it on her face even more than Mitt did.

O'BRIEN: Dan Hill, facial coding expert. It's nice to have you with us. That is so fascinating, isn't it? I feel like I missed so much by not reading everybody's facial --

MARTIN: Read the congressman right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just going to keep smiling.

O'BRIEN: He's a fast learner. Please don't. All right, we got to take a break. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Morning. Welcome, everybody. Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, President Obama bouncing back in his debate rematch. We're going to talk about his performance and the battle for the White House. We'll talk to the President's senior adviser, Robert Gibbs.

Also Ty Pennington will join us. Remember, he told us about the project at the RNC, building half a house, DNC building half a house. They put that house together. They've handed it off to a military family. We'll tell you who is the recipient of that new and beautiful home, that's straight ahead. We're back right after this.