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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
President and Mitt Romney Tell Jokes at Charity Event; President Ahead in Swing States; Congressman Joe Walsh Makes Controversial Claims about Abortion; Martin's Tweets Could Be Released; Court Strikes Down Defense Of Marriage Act; Give Us A "V" For Victory!; Masked Gunman Threatens Clerk; The Banker Who Quit by Op-Ed; Obama And Romney Trade One Liners; "Alex Cross" In Theaters Today
Aired October 19, 2012 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Morning. Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, trading wits. President Obama and Mitt Romney were back in the same room after their fiery debate this week, this time around, though, it was much lighter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everyone, please take your seats. Otherwise, Clint Eastwood will yell at them.
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It's nice to finally relax and to wear what Ann and I wear around the house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Also this morning, inside the exit. Former Goldman Sachs employee, Greg Smith, famously quit with that blistering public resignation letter. But a new investigation might shed some light on what was really going on.
And they're cheering for Jesus. Cheerleaders win a free speech victory that put bible phrases on banners, but does it violate separation of church and state? We'll take a look at that this morning.
It's Friday, October 19th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.
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O'BRIEN: Morning. Welcome, everybody. Our starting point this morning, a few moments of civility in the race for the White House. President Obama and Mitt Romney all smiles last night at the annual Al Smith Charity dinner, which took place in New York. Both managed to get in a few zingers, as well. Most of them tame. Some of them a little bit edgy. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: As President Obama surveys the Waldorf banquet room, with everyone in white tie and finery, you have to wonder what he's thinking. So little time, so much to redistribute.
OBAMA: After my foreign trip in 2008, I was attacked as a celebrity, because I was so popular with our allies overseas. And I have to say I'm impressed with how well Governor Romney has avoided that problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: The dinner came just two days after that tense debate between the President and Mr. Romney. He'll face off again in a debate on Monday. That presidential debate will focus on foreign policy. Coming up this morning going to talk more about that dinner, also talk about some brand-new polling that's out. We'll speak with Congressman Randy Forbes, also former Governors Ted Strickland and George Pataki, as well.
First, though want to get right to John Berman for a look at the stories making news this morning.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. We start with some good news. She was shot in the head by the Taliban because she fought for women's rights. This morning there is brand-new information on the condition of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai. It is promising news. Doctors in the U.K. say the Pakistani teen has been able to stand up and is communicating freely. She's writing, not talking yet, but she has -- because she has a tracheotomy tube inserted. Doctors say the bullet grazed her brain, and there is some physical damage. She's also being treated for an infection.
A Libyan militia leader who is the suspected ring leader behind the deadly attack in Benghazi is basically thumbing his nose at American and Libyan investigator. Ahmed Abu Khattala and despite reports he is in hiding he socialized with journalists last night at a hotel in Benghazi. He told writers he was present during the consulate incident out of curiosity but was not responsible for the attack. And he did not appear concerned that the U.S. and Libyan authorities may be trailing him.
Decades of Boy Scout documents previously confidential are now public record. The so-called "perversion files" detail thousands of cases of alleged sexual abuse by more than 1,200 scout leaders and volunteers. The files cover a 20-year period from 1965 to 1985. The head of the boy scouts of America is expressing his regrets.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no question that there are times in the past that these go back to 40, 50 years old, where we did not do the job that we should have. And for that, and for people -- and for that we're profoundly sorry. And I am convinced that this organization has a firm and ever-lasting deep commitment to youth protection.
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BERMAN: Today the scouts require background checks on all volunteers.
Federal health officials say a batch of steroids was definitely tainted with a deadly fungus. Now this is a first official confirmation linking the back pain shots with a deadly meningitis outbreak. It's left 20 people dead and infected more than 250 people in 16 states. The FDA is testing two more batches of the drug now. The contaminated vials came from a company outside Boston. About 14,000 patients could have been exposed.
The Detroit Tigers punching their ticket to the World Series with a clean sweep of the New York Yankees. That means the Yankees did not win a single game. The Tigers pounded the yanks 8-1 in the fourth and final game of the American league championship league season. This is their second American league pennant in just six years. The cardinals are in the driver's seat. They took a 3-1 lead over the San Francisco Giants. They had an 8-3 victory last night in St. Louis. The red birds can wrap it up with a win tonight in game five. Going to be a rematch of the 2006 World Series if the cardinals win.
O'BRIEN: All right, John. thank you very much.
Let's get right back to our starting point. It is the closest thing, I guess, that we have seen to a truce during this entire campaign. President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were joking around at the Al Smith charity dinner last night in New York. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: In the spirit of sesame street the President's remarks tonight are brought to you by the letter "o" and the number "16 trillion."
OBAMA: The unemployment rate is at its lowest level since I took office. I don't have a joke here. I just thought it would be useful to remind everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Let's get right to Republican Congressman Randy Forbes from Virginia. He's a Romney campaign surrogate. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us. They were pretty funny, I thought, both of them last night. And, yet, there was some tension in that, as well, and certainly as we head into Monday's debate we'll go back to being pretty much all tense and less, less funny. Did you, what did you think of that, that dinner last night and what are your predictions as we look forward to Monday?
REP. RANDY FORBES, (R) VIRGINIA: Well, Soledad, I thought the dinner was great. I think America's ready to have some humor after all these political attack ads we've seen throughout this season. I thought both men did a great job. I think one of the interesting things, people are beginning to see the real Mitt Romney. And they're seeing him as really a self-less, humble, funny kind of guy who's just a talented individual, and I thought last night we saw both men do a great job.
O'BRIEN: I thought he's actually been very funny when he kind of joked about his wealth. Other times we've seen in this campaign, he gets very nervous and stumbles when he's talking about his wealth. So I thought that was a good turn of events for him.
Let's talk about some polling. NBC news poll out of Iowa, NBC news/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll shows that president Obama has 51 percent of likely Iowa voters, Mitt Romney at 43 percent. If you look at a similar poll of likely Wisconsin voters, in Wisconsin, same NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll, president Obama 51 percent, Mitt Romney at 45 percent. When you see those numbers, that's, that's not good news for your candidate in two important states.
FORBES: Well, Soledad, what is good news is when you look at the rest of the polling, you think those two -- first of all it's a shocker that Wisconsin is even in play. We looked at polling last night for Pennsylvania is becoming in play. We looked at polling last night that showed that Governor Romney is moving ahead in the national poll, almost seven percent according to the Gallup poll.
And one of the things, Soledad, that I measure by is not even just the polling, although our polling we think looks really good, but the size of the turnout of these crowds when the Governor's coming to Virginia. I've never seen crowds like this or enthusiasm like this so we're excited about the direction this is going. I just hope it continues to move in this direction.
O'BRIEN: There are some analysis that says, and NBC points this out, they say the reason those polls matter is not a big change from back in September when they did these polls last but they say, if you look at Iowa, and you look at Wisconsin, if you can win both of those states, and you can win Ohio, you can wrap it up. And if you look at how the President's polling in Ohio, I have a pre-debate poll let's throw that, that's a CNN/ORC poll the President is at 51 percent, Mitt Romney at 47 percent. Now the standard deviation there is just under 4 percent. So it really is very, very close. But again analysis say if they could raise that number he could just win this. You don't agree with that?
FORBES: Well, Soledad, I will just tell you if you look at some of the other polling, even last night, it is exciting for what we're seeing. We love the momentum and the way this thing is going. And I think we're in very, very good shape. I think if you look at those swing states, if you look at the national momentum, it's going Governor Romney's way. I think it's going to continue to go that way. I think we're looking for a big night in November, and I think the Governor feels the same way.
O'BRIEN: How do you think it's going with women? I know the big focus certainly after the binders of women comment has been to really start conversations with women for, for both candidates, frankly, again, back to the polls, in Iowa, for female voters, President Obama holds a decent lead there. Look at Wisconsin, this is the NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll, a big lead against Wisconsin female voters.
Yesterday I was talking to Governor McDonnell. I neglected to say women talking about the Virginia numbers. Obama 56 percent, Romney at 40 percent. That's a big gap there as well. How do you close that gap with women in those really critical states when we have what is it 18 days, 18 days left in, in this campaign? How do you do that?
FORBES: Soledad, it's closing. And let me tell you why it's closing. It's because women just like other voters are starting to realize this President has had as many advantages as any president in history. No president in history has ever had $1 billion to attack his opponent or get his message out. This President has. Very few presidents have complete control of Congress in terms of the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House. This President has. And certainly no president has ever had the support of a media like this President has.
And yet when all of the smoke clears, after all of that, women are seeing what other voters are seeing right now is his policies have just failed. And they're having to make a choice. Do we want four more years of these failed policies where their children are graduating and half of them aren't getting jobs? Or do we want Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan to come in and have an opportunity to turn this around.
And the women we're seeing, the women we're talking to, they're excited about Mitt Romney. They're moving to Mitt Romney. I think the country does. That's why I think we're going to have a good night on November 6th.
O'BRIEN: The President has had all those advantages that you've listed. But of course he also had a big, giant recession that you didn't put on that list to deal with as well.
Let's talk about Libya for a moment --
FORBES: One of the things we took as the President's words and what he said he was going to do and what he did do, even the Democratic strategists now won't defend the fact that these policies aren't working. The only thing they can say is, oh, it wasn't his fault or, oh, Mitt Romney is not going to be able to turn it around.
But one of the things Americans seem like we talked about last night is the Mitt Romney they've seen on these commercials is not the true Mitt Romney. He's one of the most selfless, humble, talented leaders we've had in decades. I think that's what's moving women towards him and other voters. I think that's why he's going to do well in this election.
O'BRIEN: You know, 19 days, if we're just seeing, in your words, the true Mitt Romney, you know, that was last night, it was 19 days before the election, that seems like really running it down to the wire to start sort of seeing, you know, the real Mitt Romney. FORBES: No, no. You have to understand, though, Soledad, one of the things that you have to recognize, no man in the history of this planet has had more dollars spent against him attacking him personally than Mitt Romney. The media, I think we'd all agree, has done a pretty strong job on attacking Mitt Romney trying to support the President. But what has happened is-
O'BRIEN: So I'll jump in --
FORBES: America has seen the true --
O'BRIEN: I don't think we'd all agree. I disagree.
FORBES: Yes, I think most people would agree. And I think, Soledad, one of the things that people have seen in these debates is the true Mitt Romney. That's what's turned these numbers around and that's what's moving people strongly towards Mitt Romney. That's what we think is going to help win the day on November 6th.
O'BRIEN: Congressman Randy Forbes I'd love to chat with you about Libya. Maybe we'll get a chance to do it around the next debate which is going to be around foreign policy. Thank you for talking with us.
FORBES: Thank you, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: The third and last presidential debate, as I mentioned, is going to be next week and CNN's live coverage from Boca Raton in Florida begins on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. eastern. We'll be part of that coverage.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Congressman Joe Walsh, might be regretting what he had said, controversy surrounding his suggestion that women no longer die in childbirth because of modern technology. We don't need to make an exception for life of a mother for abortion because no one's dying in childbirth anymore is what he says. It's our get real this morning. We'll talk about that.
And then some terrifying moments for a store clerk caught on camera, as this masked man, he's chasing her around with a gun. Now police are asking for help trying to identify the guy.
Christine, what's business look like this morning?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The jobs market, what the spike in unemployment claims means for the economic recovery and what's really happening with jobs. You're watching STARTING POINT.
ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine romans minding your business. U.S. stock futures are trading lower and markets closed lower yesterday. One reason, surprising quarterly earnings from Google. The surprise, not only were they weaker than expected, but they came out early by mistake. Even with a little spot that said "Pending Larry quote." The stock lost 8 percent on the day. And you can stash more pretax money in your 401(k) next year. The IRS raising the contribution limit to $17,500. It did this last year and the year before. Plus it's raising the bar for gifts next year, $14,000 up from $13,000. The catch-up contribution limit for people over 50 remains unchanged by the way at $5,500. Soledad?
O'BRIEN: That's great news. It will really got to get people to do it now.
ROMANS: You know, it's because of inflation quite frankly and because people have to catch up, you know, because of the financial crisis. Ali, you can give me money tax free this year. $14,000 if you like.
ALI VELSHI, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Sweet.
O'BRIEN: If you're just handing out money, me, too. And I see John trying to get in.
Let's talk a little bit about some of these, this jobless claims that we've been talking about. Those numbers have been like a roller coaster. Oh, my gosh the chart behind your head is like this.
O'BRIEN: The labor department yesterday reported a spike in first- time unemployment claims last week jumping to 388,000 up 46,000. Christine was reporting this for us yesterday. Week before had been the lowers number in four years.
O'BRIEN: It's 18 days till the election. So obviously everyone hops on this and analyzes this. What, what do you see in these trends?
VELSHI: Well, this is a great conversation because we're two weeks away from the last jobs report, and we're two weeks away from the one right before the election. Christine and I wanted to break down the way we look at unemployment. It's not just the unemployment rate. It's the number you just stated which is the initial jobless claim. Every week we get a number on Thursdays about the number of people who got into the unemployment line on line --
ROMANS: And that chart is a trend going back to 2007. To the trend is the most important thing to look at. The trend has been going down.
VELSHI: What we saw yesterday was 46,000 more people filed for unemployment claims last week than the week before. But, so we're at about 388,000. You always want that below 400,000. That's one way of looking at it. And it's a weekly number. Forget that for a second. Here's the one that causes all the controversy. It is the unemployment rate, which as you know is 7.8 percent, down three bases points from the last time. And that's the one that everybody says, hey, is this right? The problem with this is it measures a moving total. So what Christine and I also look at, there's another number and it's called the employment-population ratio. ROMANS: This is important because when you hear somebody say, look, you've got eight percent unemployment. That means 92 percent of the country is working. That's not true.
ROMANS: But 92 percent of the country is not working, 92.2 percent of the country is not working. This is the percent of the adult working- age population who actually has a job and it's 58 percent and changed. And it hasn't been moving for three years.
VELSHI: What that means, 58.7 percent of the working population is working. Five percent are technically unemployed. Another three percent are unemployed but haven't looked for a job in four weeks. You fall off the ropes, you're not considered unemployed. And 41 percent of these workers are out of work. So 41 percent of people are not looking for a job and they're not employed. And when you break that number down you find a lot of them are seniors, a lot of them are students. So they could work --
ROMANS: Age bracket --
VELSHI: They tend not to work. What you get left with is a lump of about 27 million people who we don't know why they're not working. They could be stay at home moms. They could be --
VELSHI: Rich. They could be day traders. They could have health issues that cause them to stay at home. Christine likes to point out that a lot of people incarcerated. You know. So, there are a lot of reasons why there are people not working. Now that number, that 50 -- what did I say, 58.7? That's actually been relatively stable over the last few years. It's been declining over the long term, so a smaller percentage of the population over the last ten years has actually been working.
O'BRIEN: What was that number roughly like 20 years ago?
ROMANS: It's the lowest since 1981. So you've got to go back to the '80s. During the 90s when we grew 24 million jobs over the '90s. This number got bigger and bigger. As the economy grew and there were more opportunities more people were part of the labor market, were part of, and we've just been seeing this decline of opportunities not in the past four months, four weeks or four years. But really since really since I'd say the end of the '90s.
VELSHI: You also have this age bubble. Retiring baby boomers.
VELSHI: Nontraditional workers, an artist or a poet who doesn't want to hold a traditional job but there sell their work piecemeal. They all fall into this. This is a trend number, a bigger number. Certainly makes it look worse than the unemployment number if only 58.7 of the working age population is working. But Christine brought up an example of some countries in the Middle East, for instance, Saudi Arabia, where if you use this population it's a very different number because women don't work. So you have to consider that there are large portions of the population that are just not looking for work, or unable to get work or are working --
O'BRIEN: That math is 47 percent?
VELSHI: Not necessarily because there are some people who are working but their wages are so low that they're still net government recipients as opposed to net contributors. If you work and don't earn enough money --
ROMANS: I think a lot of people in this country take for granted the safety net in the United States. This is one of the rare countries in the world where you can have only 58 percent of your population actually works, and still have a middle class, and still, you know, be the largest economy in the world, you know.
O'BRIEN: All right, well, thank you for the update. Thank you for walking us through and explaining it. Very, very helpful.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a new abortion controversy for a Republican candidate. This time it's Congressman Joe Walsh who's suggesting that women just don't die in childbirth anymore because of the technological advances. He'd be wrong. It's our get real. Our STARTING POINT team is heading in to talk about that and much more.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Our team this morning, Charles Blow is a "New York Times" columnist joining us, Richard Socarides with us, a writer for thenewyorker.com. Will Cain is a columnist with TheBlaze.com. We've got John Berman to stick around.
Our "Get Real," honestly, this is kind of making me mad. I got to tell you. Outrage, Will Cain, outraged.
RICHARD SOCARIDES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A little dig there.
O'BRIEN: Will you hit him for me?
SOCARIDES: Sometimes when you're not here they let me sit in your chair.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Outraged. Now I'm outraged.
O'BRIEN: Again, Will Cain, again. In Chicago, Republican incumbent congressman Joe Walsh, he's an opponent of abortion, is under fire for suggesting that women no longer die in childbirth. In a televised debate last night against Democrat Tammy Duckworth, Walsh said there is no such thing as an exception for the life of a mother. When he was pressed afterwards by reporters, he said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE WALSH, (R) ILLINOIS: This is an issue that opponents of life throw out there to make us look unreasonable. There's no such exception as life of the mother. and as far as health of the mother, same thing. With advances in science and technology, there's -- health of the mother has been -- has become a tool for abortions for any time of any reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: It's become a tool.
CHARLES BLOW, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A tool somewhere.
O'BRIEN: So, you would be wrong, Mr. Walsh. You would be very wrong. So let's go through some of the numbers. The report in obstetrics and gynecology, 7,500 women in the U.S. died of pregnancy related complications over their 14-year period. For every 100,000 babies born to white women, seven to nine moms die from complications, like heart problems, infections, bleeding. And 32 to 35 black women die for every 100,000 live babies. He's just wrong. He's just completely wrong. The number for Asians, I should say, is about 10 for 100,000.
SOCARIDES: Well, kind of the surprising thing about this, right, is that we were just through this with Mr. Akin the other candidate, Republican candidate for the congress, who used that term "legitimate rape." Perhaps the only thing that isn't as bad about this than the other thing is that he didn't use the term "legitimate rape."
CAIN: You and I were just talking. We were just talking, we said there are going to be try to be parallels made to the akin comment and they're not the same thing. You made the very good point because akin put two words together that should never be near each other, legitimate and rape. I think your last statement Soledad is the judgment in the end on Joe Walsh's statement. It's just wrong.
BERMAN: But they do have the technology -- Akin had that claim that biologically speaking somehow women don't get pregnant if they're raped by some biological magic.
CAIN: He had to admit to being wrong. With Joe Walsh, he's just wrong.
BLOW: There's a broader context here which is that these are not so isolated, the idea that conservatives keep trying to pull science into the abortion, pro-life discussion, as if it is on their side in these kinds of ways. Even Paul Ryan, who didn't go deep on this, but during the vice presidential debate basically said I'm not just pro-life because of religious reasons. I'm pro-life because of logic, and science, it's on my side. And I was waiting for them to press a little bit to say, please explain to us -- please explain to us --
BLOW: I'm talking about the scientific part of it. This is another case in which conservatives have basically said that science is telling us that -- that childbirth has advanced to the point where this is not an issue and you cannot make a pro-choice exception because of science. That is just a problem.
CAIN: Statements like this do not aid my argument. However, technology, if it's tied to morality, and I do not believe it is, is certainly moving in my direction.
O'BRIEN: I'm not even sure what that means. But we don't have time. We can read --
CAIN: That's going to take a 30-minute show which I'm happy to take. You in?
O'BRIEN: I'm in. Yes, yes. Say yes, let's do it. Not on this show. But definitely in general, yes. I think that's fascinating. Absolutely. But we doesn't have 30 minutes this morning.
O'BRIEN: Yes, Will Cain. And Sanjay will be accepting on behalf of Sanjay. We should talk about that. But he's just wrong and I feel like you can't have children or you don't have an MD next to your name you should not be commenting on science and pregnancy or abortion. Moving ahead --
SOCARIDES: Especially if you're running for congress.
O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, remember this guy who famously quit Goldman Sachs. He had that really the most scathing public resignation letter ever in the history of forever. A new investigation, though, shows there might be more to this story. We're going to talk about that. The journalists who broke that story, we're going to come in and talk to us this morning. That's coming up.
O'BRIEN: Morning. Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're going to start with John Berman for a look at the day's top stories. Hi, John.
BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. We could find out today whether Trayvon Martin's school transcripts, cell phone records and Facebook and Twitter accounts will be released.
George Zimmerman's legal team has asked a judge for that information. They're also expected to ask for more time to build their case. Zimmerman claims he shot and killed Martin in self-defense. He has pleaded not guilty to second degree murder charges. Zimmerman's lawyer says the trial will begin June 10th.
In New York, a federal appeals court has struck down the defense of marriage act, which denies federal benefits to same sex married couples. It's the nation's second court to do so.
The court ruled in favor of an 83-year-old lesbian widow. She sued the government when she was denied spousal deductions, but was charged hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes.
A big victory for a Texas high school cheerleading squad, a judge temporarily ruled they can continue to carry banners that display Christian bible verses at football games.
There will be a trial date next June. The local school district banned the banners after someone complained, but the cheerleaders sued claiming their free speech rights were being violated. In the next hour we're going to hear from one of the cheerleaders, her mother, and their lawyer.
Check out this frightening scene in Portland, Maine. A store clerk jumps over a wall, runs for her life. The man chasing her is wearing a mask and holding a gun in his right hand.
The store surveillance system recorded this whole thing. Luckily the clerk is not hurt. However police are still searching for the gunman -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: That is amazing? Wow. That's incredible. Good for her.
This morning some new details, anybody else hearing something in their ear, weird, OK. New details about the man who stormed out of Goldman Sachs. Remember his letter?
It was the most over the top, angry, blistering resignation letter in the history of forever. It was plastered across pages of "The New York Times." The man's name is Greg Smith. His resignation letter was literally an op-ed and called why I am leaving Goldman Sachs.
He wrote this, in part, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the form operates and thinks about making money. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say I identify with what it stands for.
Now Goldman Sachs is firing back. They've done an internal investigation of Smith, Bloomberg TV got an exclusive look and Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle, co-hosts of Bloomberg TV's "Market Makers" airs weekdays from 10:00 to noon. Eric's also an editor-at- large at Bloomberg TV. It's nice to have you both with us.
So this investigation, you guys got access to it. How did you get it?
ERIK SCHATZKER, ANCHOR AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE, BLOOMBERG TELEVISION: Well, let's be honest. This stuff came from Goldman Sachs. Think about it from Goldman Sachs' perspective. The firm was blindsided. This never happens on Wall Street.
People resign, of course, all the time, 3 percent and 5 percent of Goldman's employees leave of their own accord, in other words not fired, every year. None of them write an op-ed in "The New York Times" disavowing more or less everything that they did at the firm, discrediting the firm. In a most public fashion possible.
So perhaps no surprise that Goldman wanted to tell a bit of its side of the story and shared with us some internal documents, the conclusions, the results of an internal investigation into Smith's claims.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, ANCHOR, BLOOMBERG TELEVISION: From their perspective speak to who Greg Smith was, in Goldman Sachs' eyes. Obviously when we all read the letter it speaks to why he felt that Goldman Sachs changed so much. Why he wanted to leave the organization. But we had the opportunity to read both his evaluations from managers, self- evaluations --
SCHATZKER: Internal e-mails.
RUHLE: And then --
O'BRIEN: Was it an inquiry that was done with people in the firm or did they bring in an outside --
SCHATZKER: They brought in some forensic specialists to troll through the e-mails, to listen to taped conversations, this being Wall Street. A lot of what you do is taped to find out if they missed anything.
Because, if you read Greg Smith's op-ed, and you're sitting in Lloyd Blankfein's chair, the chairman and the CEO of the organization, you're asking yourself, how did this happen? This is supposed to be a firm that manages risks well. That risk wasn't well managed.
RUHLE: But also was it endemic? Greg Smith is this a one-off? Every company has disgruntled employees. We spoke to senior management who said following this letter they received calls from countless Fortune 500 CEOs that said, this could have happened to any of us. So Goldman said we need to take this seriously, spending millions of dollars, thousands of hours, investigating.
O'BRIEN: Part of the report details his request for a big, giant raise, an increase in his, his bonus, and an internal e-mail this, Greg Smith off the charts unrealistic, thinks he should trade at multiple. We told them there's "v," I guess for very, little tolerance for reaction like that and he needs to tone it down.
RUHLE: This is what is so important. Because, again, when you read Greg Smith's letter, it very much sounds as though, and he may be taking a moral high ground, the industry has changed so much, I simply don't want to be a part of it anymore.
Yet, if you look at the internal reports, remember, this is 2011. Where Greg Smith is looking to get paid more than double than he had been paid the year before in a year when Goldman Sachs had laid off 10 percent of their employees and the rest of the industry had laid off even more and everyone was getting paid down.
O'BRIEN: Such a grandizing investment banker, I'm stunned?
ROMANS: You do go in and ask for a raise, I mean, that's one thing.
SCHATZKER: It's a question of motive. Right when you read Greg Smith's op-ed you come to the conclusion that there's something wrong with Goldman Sachs. And he has developed such a -- that he had to do it.
Then when you read the internal report that Goldman Sachs prepared for its own board, and for regulators who had questions, you mind find yourself coming to a different conclusion because the man appears to have been quite frustrated about the fact that he didn't get the promotion to managing director that he was looking for --
RUHLE: Which he was running for three consecutive years and was passed over --
O'BRIEN: The report says he was routinely rated in the bottom half of employees and would routinely overrate himself compared to how his bosses did, but at the same time they had major layoffs at Goldman, right? He wasn't among the layoffs. He was not someone who was going to be fired.
RUHLE: We spoke to managers, people in the firm who said Greg Smith was a very smart guy, but he wasn't necessarily an all-star player. He was your Goldman Sachs' training program twelve years ago and I can tell you from the investment banking community it is the premiere training program.
The most coveted jobs, clearly a very smart guy. But over the course of the next twelve years he had to watch many of his peers go on to become managing directors.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: -- key point. It's really about Goldman Sachs and less about Greg Smith. We're talking about Greg's motives, about what his record is like. But Greg smith in that op-ed was making a larger point.
He was making the point the culture had changed on Wall Street, specifically a change at Goldman Sachs. You guys, Bloomberg, cover this all the time. Is his larger point faults?
RUHLE: What really changed? We all know Goldman Sachs and the industry. This is the deep end of the pool, the big boy's club. It was a big boy's club in 1988, 1998.
O'BRIEN: There were people who said between 1988 and today Goldman Sachs culture has changed so I think you're exactly right the question is -- he may be a jerk.
He may think he's worth too much money. There's no way he's qualified to be a managing director and no one in their right mind would give him that job but is he right?
SCHATZKER: I've heard it from other former Goldman employees who say that it became a firm that they didn't enjoy working at. But remember there's still 30,000 other people at Goldman Sachs who say, many of whom have been there for decades, who say it is very much the firm that they worked at.
What you can't deny is that Goldman Sachs is all about making money, making money for the firm, making money for yourself. And if you --
O'BRIEN: And if you're -- I mean really --
SCHATZKER: Taking something else --
O'BRIEN: That's not true. A lot of what he said in his book and I know you got some of it there --
ROMANS: Everyone's reading the first chapter.
O'BRIEN: His point was part of his point in his scathing letter was they're not serving their clients. So it's not only about making money for yourself and it's not only about making money for your firm. It's about are we serving the clients the way we used to serve the clients? And he says, no. Now he may have a million reasons why he left.
RUHLE: That's the question. Did he leave because they weren't serving their clients and they weren't putting them number one? Or did he leave because he didn't like how he was getting paid?
O'BRIEN: Or both.
SCHATZKER: If Greg Smith --
O'BRIEN: We're going to sit down and ask him.
RUHLE: All look forward to asking Greg -- having the other side, the argument from Greg. We really don't know it yet.
O'BRIEN: Exactly. Thank you guys for coming in to talk about it. I think this is such an interesting story, Eric and Stephanie, 10:00 to 12:00 catch your show, right, on Bloomberg TV.
Still ahead this morning, the woman who's storing in the new movie Alex Croft is going to join us, Carmen Ejogo is going to join us live to talk about what it's like to work with Tyler Perry, the late Whitney Houston, but also she's a member of Mensa. I am so excited to talk to her about that.
Also ahead this morning, politics light, Mitt Romney and President Obama roast each other 48 hours after that bruising debate. We'll have some highlights of some of their comic relief coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I went shopping at some stores in midtown. I understand Governor Romney went shopping for some stores in midtown.
ROMNEY: It's nice to finally relax and wear what Ann and I wear around the house. (END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: As President Obama surveys the Waldorf Banquet Room, with everyone in white tie and finery, you have to wonder what he's thinking so little time, so much to redistribute.
OBAMA: After my foreign trip in 2008, I was attacked as a celebrity, because I was so popular with our allies overseas. And I have to say I'm impressed with how well Governor Romney has avoided that problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: That was Mitt Romney and President Obama sharing a few laughs last night, at the annual Al Smith charity dinner. They were making fun of each other. They were making fun of themselves. They both made fun of Joe Biden at one point. I thought that was pretty funny. You can still see it's very tense.
BERMAN: It's an unbelievable thing. I've been to a few of these things. These guys from months of tearing each other apart on the trail, they walk in this room, all of a sudden there are smiles and patting each other on the back and they actually seem to enjoy. Barack Obama sitting behind --
CAIN: I was going to say --
BERMAN: They look like they do. It's a weird thing. I --
SOCARIDES: They do not actually enjoy -- I can't speak for every president or every politician, but I know --
BERMAN: You can speak for one.
SOCARIDES: The President I worked for, you know, he probably had a pretty good time, but I remember, this was a big scramble. The white house speech writers had to come up with these jokes. They didn't really want to be there. They had to look like they were having fun. I mean, you know, it's a show.
CAIN: Surely one thing has changed. Speech writers are not writing those jokes. Those are some quality jokes. There are some pros in that.
SOCARIDES: The speech writers call the joke makers.
BERMAN: Mitt Romney took the afternoon off yesterday to work on it.
BLOW: Everything is a little funnier, I think, right?
SOCARIDES: I wouldn't say that there was a lot of actual fun being had by the candidacies.
CAIN: There was by me. I wish I'd see more of this Mitt Romney.
O'BRIEN: I thought he was really funny especially on wealth.
BLOW: More than just deprecation.
BERMAN: Self-deprecating. A lot of times these are more self- deprecating.
O'BRIEN: I thought it was pretty good.
We're going to show you more. We've got lots of clips to share from last night. Also ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to introduce you to a woman who's got a new TV series and a new movie out.
The movie is called "Alex Croft." It comes out today, actress Carmen Ejogo joins us. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where you want to start? The front door with the screen door you fixed? You had coffee with someone before you came home. Put a little hand sanitizer on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously, Detective, you need a clue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need a clue.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It very close.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what that can be, maybe the sonogram in the printer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who told you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: That is a clip from the new movie, "Alex Cross." It's in theatres today. It is a reboot from the Morgan Freeman version of the James Patterson mystery novel.
It stars Tyler Perry as the titled character, "Alex Cross" and actress, Carmen Ejogo plays Detective Cross' wife, Maria. It's nice to have you with us this morning.
I'm so excited to see this movie because you don't think -- you know, Tyler Perry does so much comedy and you don't think of him as this hard core detective in a well known detective series.
CARMEN EJOGO, ACTRESS: I think he's going to surprise so many people. He is so adept to playing this role. He was remarkable. He has proven himself as a great producer and director. He wears all hats usually.
And he came to set willingly as just the actor, just to do his thing as an actor. He was so commendable for that. He really proves his stuff.
O'BRIEN: Tell us about your character, Maria, obviously devoted wife.
EJOGO: I am. I'm playing the wife in this one. I sort of provide the lightness in the movie. We are in dark territory with this film. We have a serial killer on the loose.
Tyler plays, Alex, who is the homicide detective and it becomes psychological games against Tyler's character. My character is one of the roles where you can't say too much or I give it away. You have to see the film. It is an amazing twist in the middle of the movie.
O'BRIEN: You are married to another actor. You have this film. You are doing a series for ABC. You are both working a ton. I think it is hard to be a working actor anyway, but to be married to another working actor is --
EJOGO: The mom part of it is where it gets tricky at times. They have the best of me. I was the stay at home mom forever. And then I got these great roles. I got my kids set up at full time school and then I did my thing again. It's definitely a juggling act. I think we just about pull it off.
BERMAN: You have to be smart and be like --
CAIN: She told you about that.
O'BRIEN: Do we have to talk about this?
CAIN: Obviously not from Kentucky and you're playing an American here. I'm not an actor. How do you do an American accent? What do you tell yourself? OK, I need to do this to these words.
EJOGO: Well, I think it helps if you have a musical background and I have a singing thing in my past. There is a melody that you have to hear and there is a rhythm to it.
O'BRIEN: Do an American accent for us.
EJOGO: I actually love. It helps the transformation. I feel further away from myself when I have to do an accent. I've actually played more American than British at this point so I'm kind of used to it.
O'BRIEN: So in addition to being a member of Mensa, you are crafty. You like to craft. I love you so much. She does crafts. I'm not making this up.
EJOGO: I think when you have kids it comes. There is a resurgence of crafting. It is cooler than when your grandma did it. It is not like knitting circles although that can be fun, too. It is very anti- materialist and anti-consumerist when you are doing it yourself. I make my own clothes sometimes. SOCARIDES: You can make a tie?
EJOGO: Totally. Let's get you on his level.
O'BRIEN: It's so nice to have you. The movie is called "Alex Cross." It opens today.
We have to take a short break. Still ahead this morning, new evidence in that deadly meningitis outbreak. We are going to tell you what health officials have now found. That's coming up right at the top of the hour. And then the Bronx bombers.
SOCARIDES: You are insincere.
O'BRIEN: The Tigers just swept their way to the World Series. My sons were literally sobbing last night about this.
SOCARIDES: This was rough.
O'BRIEN: We'll have that story, maybe, ahead. We are back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, the lighter side. President Obama and Mitt Romney with a lot of humor last night.