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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Dead Heat in White House Race; Interview with Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani; Study: Boys Starting Puberty Sooner; Political Punch Lines

Aired October 22, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Stop. What's that about? Too early.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Peace sign. What up? It's Monday. We've got to wake folks up --

O'BRIEN: All right, all right. The host of "Washington Watch with Roland Martin".

Suzy Welch is a columnist and a bestselling.

John Berman from "EARLY START," sticking around, helping us with the news. You're not going to give us the peace sign?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What Roland -- whatever Roland said I'm in, whatever he's saying.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Our STARTING POINT this morning --

MARTIN: Jump into the week.

O'BRIEN: Look at that right there. That's where everyone will be looking tonight, the countdown to the final debate. That's Lynn University. Tiny Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida.

In 13 hours both the president and Governor Romney will be walking out on that stage and trying to convince America that they've got the foreign policy chops to be commander-in-chief. It's their third, final debate.

Fifteen days -- can you believe it? Fifteen days until the election.

Brand-new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll to talk about that was conducted after the second debate shows that they are locked in a dead heat. Look at those numbers there, 47 to 47.

Brianna Keilar is in Boca already this morning.

Brianna, that number has got to be read very badly for President Obama.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And when you listen to the Obama campaign, Soledad, they're trying to downplay the poll numbers. You talk to folks on the Romney campaign and they're happy with where they are.

So, yes, neck and neck. This is where the race continues to be at this point. It's tightened up in recent weeks. And also, we've seen it shifts towards Mitt Romney. So, that's what that 47 to 47, with a margin of error of about 3 1/2 points, tells us.

A couple interesting things that you can see going on in this poll. Look at women. President Obama still with a sizable lead, 51 to 43 over Mitt Romney. But that's actually something alarming to President Obama because it's the smallest lead that he's had.

And then when you look at battleground states, Mitt Romney in these polls -- or in this poll has a little bit of a lead.

So, again, the Obama campaign is trying to downplay these polls and obviously the debate tonight really mattering for both of these candidates.

Let's take a look as well at some of the endorsements the candidates got over the weekend. Battleground states, both of them picking up some here. Mitt Romney, "Tampa Tribune". Also picking up "The Orlando Sentinel" out of Florida, "Columbus Dispatch", and not surprisingly "The New Hampshire Union Leader".

President Obama also picking up in Ohio actually -- two Ohio endorsements: "Akron Beacon Journal" and "The Cleveland Plain Dealer". And in Colorado, "The Denver Post".

What's really interesting here, though, Soledad, not a ton of enthusiasm. I mean, the two Florida papers kind of a lukewarm endorsement of Mitt Romney. The same with the Ohio papers. And "The Denver Post" which endorsed President Obama saying neither has a plan for the future.

O'BRIEN: Yes. That's very true. Kind of meh on all of these.

Do you think it matters, Suzy?

SUZY WELCH, COLUMNIST, BEST-SELLING AUTHOR: The newspapers? I think people look -- they actually -- most people know what their newspaper, local newspaper is going to say. They've been watching. They read them for years. And you know "The Boston Globe" is going to go for Obama. You know your local paper.

So, either it's going to confirm what you already think. I'm not sure people turn to --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: -- we love this guy!

MARTIN: Endorsements matter in tight elections. If you can think of 1,000, 5,000 votes in a very tight election, trust me, you like it. If you're the candidate who didn't get it --

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Inside that NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, two things, president only 47 this close to the election. Pretty ominous. Secondly, only 36 among white voters who said his formula for victory is 80 percent of minorities, 40 percent of the whites. This puts him below.

The "Politico"/GWU battleground, 39, closer, right at the border. But that's a pretty ominous number if you're at 36 percent of whites and losing white women by double digits in both of these polls out in the last 48 hours.

O'BRIEN: They've got to be concerned about that.

All right. Brianna, thank you very much.

Let's get to John Berman for some of the other stories that are making news that don't have to do with the debate.

BERMAN: No.

O'BRIEN: Is there other tough happening?

BERMAN: There is.

There's breaking news this morning about Lance Armstrong. Armstrong stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. While leveling the punishment, cycling's governing body has very harsh words for him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT MCQUAID, UCI PRESIDENT: UCI wishes to begin that journey on that path forward today, by confirming that it will not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and that it will recognize the sanction that USADA has imposed. UCI will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling and UCI will strip him of his seven Tour de France titles. Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: No place in cycling. This decision comes on the heels of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's damning report which concluded there is, quote, "overwhelming evidence that Armstrong took part in the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program while he rode for the U.S. Postal Service team."

Armstrong, for his part, he didn't respond directly to the Anti- Doping Agency report. But he has long denied doping.

A full 10 days after the attack in Benghazi, the CIA was still telling President Obama they stemmed from spontaneous protests. According to reports first published by "The Wall Street Journal," the CIA did not alter its assessment in the daily intelligence briefing for the president until September 22nd, even though witnesses and other sources disputed the assumption early on that protests sparked the attack.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in last month's terror attack in Libya.

The 45-year-old ex-Marine who opened fire at a Milwaukee area spa was allegedly hunting down his estrange wife. Three women were killed in yesterday's rampage, but police have not said if his wife was among them. Four other people were wounded. Police say the suspected shooter, Radcliffe Haughton, killed himself inside the spa.

So, it's not every day you can tell your boss take this job and shove it in a "New York Times" op-ed. But that is exactly what Goldman Sachs vice president Greg Smith did in March after working for the firm for 12 years. He accused Goldman of deceiving clients and pursuing profits at the expense of ethics.

Well, now, Smith has broadened his very public resignation into a new book called "Why I Left Goldman Sachs", which is out today. And Smith spoke to Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 MINUTES" FROM CBS)

ANDERSON COOPER, "60 MINUTES": So an op-ed resignation, you hoped it would be a wake-up call?

GREG SMITH, AUTHOR, "WHY I LEFT GOLDMAN SACHS": I really did, because there are a lot of people who acknowledge these things internally but no one is willing to say it publicly. And my view is the only way you force people to change the system is by saying something publicly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN; A Goldman investigation last week claims Smith quit Goldman because he expected to earn $1 million a year, double what he was making. We spoke last hour to William Cohan who worked on Wall Street for 16 years. He said Greg Smith is, quote, "a con man who was angry over not making more money."

"Saturday Night Live" taking on last week's presidential town hall debate with Jason Sudeikis channeling Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASON SUDEIKIS, SNL: This is a president who has made it harder for U.S. oil companies to drill. OK? He brought criminal action against an oil company in North Dakota because 25 birds were killed -- 25.

Well, let me promise you that as your president, I will never care how many birds are killed. You could kill 250 birds. You could kill 2,500 birds. If it brings gas prices down one cent, I would personally stalk, capture and strangle every bird in this great land, except eagles.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Except eagles. There you go.

BROWNSTEIN: Soledad, they were pretty tough on your piece from the island.

O'BRIEN: The accents.

BROWNSTEIN: They were pretty tough --

O'BRIEN: Twitter was, too. Oh, my gawd. I love Long Island.

MARTIN: My man got the mic, though. That was smooth. Just drop the mic.

O'BREIN: I'll tell you, on Twitter, people were making fun of those Long Island accents. You know what? Those are my people. Those are good accents.

MARTIN: All yours.

O'BRIEN: That's right. Strong Island.

WELCH: They understand each other.

MARTIN: No one else, though.

O'BRIEN: Oh, uncalled for!

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's go back to talking about tonight's debate. I want to bring in former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani.

He's at the debate site in Boca Raton, Florida. He's a Romney campaign surrogate.

It's nice to see you, sir. Good morning to you. Thanks for talking with us.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NYC MAYOR: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Who do you think goes into this with the upper hand since the topic is foreign policy?

GIULIANI: Well, I mean, up until a few weeks ago, I would have said the president, because his polling numbers on foreign policy were pretty darn strong. Last couple of weeks, with all the problems in Libya and the administration's, I don't know, now four or five different conflicting statements about it, maybe Mitt Romney goes in with the upper hand.

The president's got a lot of explaining to do which he hasn't explained. One of the looming questions is, did he know about the two prior attacks on the consulate, one of which blew a hole big enough for a truck to go through? Those attacks occurred within three, four months of the attack on September 11th.

We still don't know if the president knew about it. If he did know about it, what action did he take or didn't take. And if he didn't know about it, why didn't he know about it.

O'BRIEN: So, the last time you were on, we were talking about Benghazi and you said that it was a cover-up. Now as I'm sure you know, "The Wall Street Journal" is writing this. "President Barack Obama was told in his daily intelligence briefing for more than a week after the consulate siege in Benghazi that the assault grew out of a spontaneous protest despite conflicting reports from witnesses and other sources that began to cast doubt on the accuracy of that assessment almost from the start."

It sounds like they're saying, actually, the intelligence was flawed and so flawed that the president and people around the president weren't getting accurate information. Does that change when you say cover-up?

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI: No. Come on.

O'BRIEN: I assume from the hysterical laughter you're going to say no. Tell me why, because it sounds to me --

GIULIANI: Come on. My goodness. That's an incredibly generous interpretation for the president. My God! I mean, the reality is --

O'BRIEN: I'm asking. I'm not interpreting. I'm asking you --

GIULIANI: OK.

O'BRIEN: -- because "The Wall Street Journal" has said the intelligence was flawed.

GIULIANI: Yes. But also the president should have known just based on common sense that an attack like that, an attack in which they are using rocket-propelled hand grenades, in which mortars are used, if the president had been privy to the information beforehand that there were numerous attacks there, planned attacks including two on the embassy, one in April, one in June, in which a hole was blown in the wall of the embassy, now all of a sudden you get an attack on September 11th and you're scratching your head about it? I mean, my goodness.

Well, if it wasn't a cover-up, then the ineptitude of this administration is startling.

O'BRIEN: So, hold on right there.

GIULIANI: It really can't be trusted to protect us.

O'BRIEN: Mr. Mayor, hold on one second.

GIULIANI: If you couldn't figure out this was a planned attack, you had a series of planned attacks before this. To us, because this information was concealed by the administration, this appeared to be a big surprise, meaning the American public. It shouldn't have been to the president.

O'BRIEN: Hold on while I chat with our panel.

GIULIANI: That consulate was being attacked.

O'BRIEN: Got it. Hold on one second while I chat with the panel for a second, Mr. Mayor.

GIULIANI: Sure.

BROWNSTEIN: What I'm wondering is if this was a lack of common sense and the CIA was saying this for 10 days, was it David Petraeus then? Is Mayor Giuliani saying that David Petraeus, the head of the CIA, had a lack of common sense about what was happening in Libya? I mean, is that the -- that would be the implication of saying it was a lack of common sense not seeing this was a planned attack right from the get- go and that's what the CIA was saying.

GIULIANI: Let's see if we can move away from the president.

BROWNSTEIN: No, I'm just asking. I'm just asking.

GIULIANI: May I -- no, but may I be allowed to answer the question?

O'BRIEN: Of course.

GIULIANI: The reality is, the reality is, the president of the United States way back in April should have been aware of the fact that this consulate was under siege. Then all of the sudden in June, he gets a hole blown in the wall of this consulate. He shouldn't have to pin it on David Petraeus or Hillary Clinton.

If he's the president he should be aware of this from his security briefings. What we need to know is was he briefed on the prior attacks? Did he know of the prior attacks?

O'BRIEN: So --

GIULIANI: When this attack took place -- please let me finish. When this attack took place did it key into him that there had been prior attacks at exactly this spot, a spot in which the British consulate had moved their consulate just a few weeks earlier?

Now, if all that information is known to the president, of course, there was a cover-up. If it wasn't known to the president, well, then maybe he was misled by the CIA. I don't know the answers to that. The administration is stonewalling here. They're not giving explanations. We still don't know if the president was aware of the prior attacks.

O'BRIEN: So let me ask another question. I don't know if you caught Matthew Dowd who -- he's an ABC News political contributor. Here is what he said about when he was working at the time and weapons of mass destruction had been discovered. I'm going to play a little chunk of what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think -- let me just say one thing to put this Benghazi thing in context of, like, why don't we have answers and where are they? I worked for President Bush. We had a president and an administration for years made an argument about weapons of mass destruction for years. Now we've lost thousands of lives over in Iraq based on a false assumption and all of it.

This is not -- it wasn't two weeks. This was months and months and months of a conversation where we never got the right answer to this. We still today, nobody in the administration at a high enough level --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The point is that intelligence gathering is bad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So he is the chief strategist, right, for Bush/Cheney. So he's even saying that after weeks it would be -- even talking about weapons of mass destruction, took years. They still don't have the right answer.

By jumping on so quickly and expecting sort of accurate final answers within weeks is -- is, I guess, unfair in a way.

GIULIANI: If what? We're going to blame this on Bush, too.

O'BRIEN: OK. So you got to stop putting words in my mouth, sir. Seriously. Hang on. Let me finish. Every time I ask you a question --

GIULIANI: I'm going to answer the question.

O'BRIEN: Let me finish my point. Every time I ask you a question you push back as if somehow the question is being posed to you is unfair. It's not. I'm a journalist. You said some things. I'm trying to get accurate responses from you.

You are welcome to answer. Go ahead.

GIULIANI: OK. Here's the answer.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

GIULIANI: It sounds to me like we're trying to blame it on Bush. It's absurd to blame Benghazi on Bush. All the president has to do is answer the simple question. Did he know about the consulate attacks that took place before September 11th of 2012? There were two of them. One of which blew a hole in the embassy wall.

Also, did he know that the British consulate which is basically next door, that they moved out because of these tremendous number of risks to that consulate? If he knew all that, which would only take, like, a few minutes --

O'BRIEN: That's not what Matthew Dowd is saying. When I played that chunk for you, that's not what Matthew Dowd is saying. Let me finish my point.

What Matthew Dowd is saying similar situation talking about weapons of mass destruction. Back then in the same confusion, it took a long time. Years later we still don't know.

He's not saying blame it on President Bush. He's just saying that weeks in a place like Libya, it could take a long time before somebody actually knows what exactly happened. We also have a report from "The Wall Street Journal" that it looks as if the intelligence was flawed. That's what he's saying, sir.

GIULIANI: But it doesn't take a long time for the President of the United States to tell us whether or not he was aware that this consulate had been attacked twice before. And if he was aware, what did he do to protect that consulate?

O'BRIEN: But my question for you --

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: That is an easy question to answer.

O'BRIEN: And I agree with you on that. I agree. I agree. But the point and my question to you --

GIULIANI: Well, then why doesn't he answer it?

O'BRIEN: The point and my question to you is, does Matthew Dowd have a point, that it could take far longer than two weeks or four weeks before people understand what happened? He's saying -- the example, when he was working for the Bush administration, was weapons of mass destruction. Does he have a point?

GIULIANI: He has a point about some parts of this incident. He does not have a point about the part of the incident that refers to what was the president's knowledge, did the president take steps to protect our ambassador and the other people there, didn't he take steps to do that, and why wasn't that information made available for a month, a month and a half?

Those are very valid points that do not take five years to figure out.

O'BRIEN: And those are points Matthew Dowd did not make. Matthew Dowd did not say (inaudible).

Thank you for talking with us, Mayor Giuliani. We're out of time. We always enjoy chatting with you. It wakes me up, that's for sure. Thank you, sir.

ROLAND MARTIN, HOST, "WASHINGTON WATCH WITH ROLAND MARTIN": If Mayor Giuliani was given a report when he was the mayor of New York from the intelligence folks stating this is what we believe, and he went to a news conference, he would repeat exactly what his intelligence folks gave him. And he knows it.

And that was just nonsense now, trying to saying what did he know back in April. He's trying to shift the story because of this weekend's report.

SUZY WELCH, COLUMNIST AND AUTHOR: There could be a whole other explanation for this, which is that there's a narrative. There's a narrative the Obama administration had that Al Qaeda is in retreat. And the CIA didn't want to say to their boss, actually, that's not happening.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Interesting now to see that "L.A. Times" report about that, where they say it actually was not Al Qaeda. I mean, there's so much --

WELCH: -- bringing bad news to their boss. So he was getting -- so maybe he was getting bad intelligence. But why? He was getting it because --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- didn't want to hear it.

MARTIN: We are making the wrong assumption that it was bad intelligence. What they clearly stated was this is what we know now. They said it may change.

O'BRIEN: We will move on, because we've just heard the Republican reaction, obviously, from Mayor Giuliani about that debate.

We're going to hear from Stephanie Cutter. She's representing the Obama campaign.

Of course, no matter what happens on Election Day, we'll show you why your paycheck is going to get smaller. That's kind of a bummer. But Christine will join us to explain. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Tonight's final debate on foreign policy comes amid a lot of new information, including some brand-new polls to talk about.

Want to get right to Stephanie Cutter; she's the deputy manager for the Obama campaign.

Nice to see you, Stephanie. I want to read some poll numbers for you.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Great.

O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at this new Quinnipiac/CBS News Poll; it's looking specifically at Ohio. President Obama is holding on to a five-point lead over Republican Mitt Romney in Ohio. That's the good news there.

But -- and this is critical -- that margin has been cut in half since September. That's got to be very worrisome for you. Also he holds a 50 percent to 45 percent lead over Mitt Romney among likely voters, but that's down from a 53 percent to 43 percent advantage. The sample of error, I should point out, is plus or minus 3 percent. How worried are you about those numbers there?

CUTTER: Well, I'm not sure that 53-43 was ever realistic. You know, we're pleased with where we are in Ohio. Ohio was a critical state. We have many different pathways to 270 electoral votes. Mitt Romney has one, and it all goes through Ohio. We're extremely pleased that we're up five there. There's a good reason for it.

One, our ground game: we're knocking out early votes all over that state because of our ground game.

Two, because of what the president has done over the past four years to move our country, and particularly Ohio, forward, saving the auto industry, bringing manufacturing jobs back cutting taxes for the middle class. All of these things matter.

And I think the people of Ohio understand where the president would go over the next four years in terms of continuing to move our country and Ohio forward.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about Florida for a moment. If you read "The New York Times" the FiveThirtyEight blog which Nate Silver writes, he writes this.

"Mr. Romney has made larger than average gains in the state" -- he's talking about Florida -- "since the Denver debate and ha now become a definitive favorite there."

That's the headline of that column, is after Romney gains, should Obama concede Florida?

Should Obama concede Florida?

CUTTER: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. You know, I've been here a couple of days. And I've seen our ground game at work. Our people are coming out, are voting by ballot early. Early vote starts here in a couple of days. We're pleased with where we are. There are polls that show us three up, there are polls that show us three down.

This is the nature of a tight race. We always knew this was going to be a tight race. Soledad, I've said to you previously this is going to come down to the wire. It's going to be a very close race. We need everybody to come out and vote. We're here in Florida for this debate. It's an important conversation we're going to have tonight.

You know, the president has had a steady, strong foreign policy over the past four years to keep this country safe and secure. We're stronger today than we were four years ago.

I think that will stand in contrast to Mitt Romney, who has not been steady, who's been reckless, who has been, you know, traveling the country -- traveling the world, you know, blunder after blunder, lots of bluster on some of our most important challenges across this world -- Iran, saber rattling, no end to the war in Afghanistan.

This is an important conversation we'll have tonight. I think it's important to the people of Florida. I think it's important to people across this country.

O'BRIEN: Hold on one second for me, Stephanie, while I talk to Ron Brownstein.

RON BROWNSTEIN, EDITORIAL DIR., "NATIONAL JOURNAL": You know, one thing I'm wondering about, you know, If you look at the polling that's come out since the first debate, there's some evidence the biggest impact has been with white women voters moving toward Mitt Romney.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Is this across the country or in Ohio specifically?

BROWNSTEIN: No, across the country. Both of the polls that have been out in the last 24 hours, the NBC/"Wall Street Journal," the Politico, George Washington battleground, have President Obama trailing by double digits among white women, which is basically double the deficit that he had in 2008; still holding on in Ohio.

But I'm just wondering what -- if the Obama -- if you look at what the Obama campaign was talking about last week in that second debate and certainly after, they are focused on these voters. I wonder if they have a thought on why that's happening.

O'BRIEN: Hold on one second.

Roland, you wanted to jump in, too.

MARTIN: I'm also curious if Stephanie could speak to the issue of the new ad the Obama campaign put out, where they're talking about Iraq and Afghanistan. And the end of that says about bringing those -- spending those dollars home. Is that the way to spend -- ?

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: (Inaudible) strategy.

So, Stephanie, let's go back to you. You have an opportunity tonight, of course, to talk about foreign policy. But the poll numbers, as Ron was just talking about, when it comes to female voters, are in decline for the president. How do you, using the stage you'll have tonight talking about foreign policy, try to turn those numbers around for that critical voting bloc?

CUTTER: Well, let me answer the first question first. In terms of women, there will be a gender gap on Election Day. There will absolutely be a gender gap, and for good reason. You saw in last week's debate that Mitt Romney couldn't articulate any sort of agenda of how he's going to move women forward, both in terms of economic security but health security.

He wasn't being honest about the positions he's taken over the last six years of running for president, whether it's not standing up for equal pay for women or, you know, telling their bosses that they can have control over whether women have access to contraception, female employees having access to contraception on the insurance plans.

You know, to Roland's question, I think tonight is absolutely an opportunity for talking -- we've been at war for more than a decade in Afghanistan. The president's bringing that war to an end. He's already committed to using half of those savings from that war to invest back home, to do some nation building back here, building our roads, bridges, highways, putting construction workers back to work.

He spoke about that at the convention. It's a key piece of his agenda over the course of the next four years.

Mitt Romney hasn't committed to ending the war. He hasn't said how he's going to wind it down. You know, we'd like to hear some answers about that tonight. Previously he said he's going to kick it past the election.

O'BRIEN: They'll have an opportunity tonight. Stephanie Cutter with us this morning, thank you, Stephanie. Nice to see you as always. Appreciate it.

CUTTER: Thank you. Nice to see you.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

As our debate coverage continues, we're going to take a look at the humor. I mean, "Saturday Night Live" has been killing it lately, huh? It's so funny.

D.L. Hughley is going to join us to talk about the comedy that can come out of these presidential debates. That's straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone.

Boys are reaching puberty earlier; much earlier according to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Recent studies have also shown girls hitting puberty sooner but this is the first time we've seen it with boys.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now from Atlanta to explain it. And Elizabeth the question is how much earlier are we talking about here? ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes it's a good chunk of time. About six months to two years earlier and it's especially earlier for African-American boys.

Let's take a look at the ages. This study found that African- American boys hitting puberty at around 9 years old, white boys around 10 and Hispanic boys a little bit older, 10.4 years.

And there's some concern about this as early puberty in girls has caused some psychological problems such as depression because puberty really changes the physiology of your brain.

Now John you said the big question, why is this happening? And you know what? No one really knows. It could be chemicals in the environment. It could be chemicals in our food. No one is sure. This is really the first time that they've seen this early puberty in boys.

And so the next step is to figure out why and to see if parents can do anything about it. In the meantime, what parents need to do is, perhaps, have that talk with boys a little bit earlier -- John.

BERMAN: I'm looking forward to that. All right, thank you, Elizabeth Cohen in Atlanta.

I have to say we've been talking politics all morning. But no discussion during commercial got us more interesting and more heated than this study right now about boy's puberty.

O'BRIEN: That's terrifying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's connected to the emotion stuff.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The developmental stuff that whether or not you know we're all talking is it a chemical thing. Is it milk? Is it meat? What are they drinking? But you know; kids are younger and younger knowing more and more. And we used to worry about the Easter Bunny and when they were going to find out about Santa Claus.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now those days are so over. You know we're worried about them knowing a lot more -- they're seeing stuff and know stuff.

MARTIN: Before, you know, I was working our parents are like pros --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes and they're seeing stuff and those stuffs.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, the presidential campaigns make for great political humor like on "Saturday Night Live". Take a look at this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well so how much did you cut?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't cut anything. You're not going to cut anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm about to cut you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh I'd like to see that. I'd love to see that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Well, we've got comedian D.L. Hughley in just a moment about the -- the upside of this campaign. We're back in just a moment. We're going to cut you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In fact, I am willing to bet here and now that you have never in your life even once used the phrase "terrorist act".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the transcript. Get them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, he has, in fact, used the phrase "terrorist act".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Candy, no, no, no. Candy, come on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm afraid he did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Candy, please. Candy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That's "SNL" with last week's presidential debate. No shortage of material for comedians.

Stand-up comedian, actor, political junky D.L. Hughley knows a little bit about this. He's got a new book out which is the second line is "How the Audacity of Dopes is Ruining America."

D.L. HUGHLEY, COMEDIAN: What's the first line?

O'BRIEN: You know, my kids watch this show. I can't repeat the first line.

HUGHLEY: Right, right.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about -- about the humor. Have you found the candidates because I think they are kind of boring individuals in a lot of ways. But in comedy are they?

HUGHLEY: Yes but to be a President you have to be boring. Like you don't want a guy that's a lot of fun with his hand on a bomb. Oh, I had a good time last night. You don't want that.

BERMAN: Biden is Vice President.

HUGHLEY: But I think that it's just -- like, when I was watching the tape that was released with Mitt Romney talking about the -- any dude that doesn't know you don't talk about 47 percent when they're serving your food probably has never seen "The Help".

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Last week -- last week the conversations were all about Big Bird and about women in binders.

HUGHLEY: Right.

O'BRIEN: Let's play the little chunk of that. We'll talk on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you find out that your name had been mentioned in the debate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I got a million tweets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said he had, quote, "binders full of women" which is a little creepy. Binders full of women is something they find in a serial killer's basement at the end of a "Law and Order: SVU".

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Does it actually have an impact?

HUGHLEY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Do you think, I mean, you know this become like moments in the campaign.

HUGHLEY: I think it's kind of -- like I have a friend with a binder full of women. But he's not running for president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Business people, when they heard that term, it's like what's wrong with it? We're always getting binders full of resumes. I mean I've heard more conversation from people saying I simply don't get -- I don't get the binders. And it was a real demarcation about who got it and who didn't.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

BERMAN: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In some groups I think it made a difference because they thought wow we are so far removed from this.

BROWNSTEIN: Well every time we have a presidential election it reminds us how there are many different Americans. And they really increasingly have little contact with each other. They start with very different perceptions of what's happening, what's appropriate.

MARTIN: Right, that's where your question really comes in. Because there are a lot of folks who do get their information from late night shows, comedy shows.

HUGHLEY: Which is exactly why we're in the state we're in. It's like Rome and they were play a violin and we watch "Honey Boo Boo". But --

MARTIN: But comedians also get to frankly be a lot more honest about politicians and their positions than other people.

HUGHLEY: Well I think -- and I think they're less apologetic. And I think -- and to some extent honest. I think there's no -- like, I don't have a bunch of sycophants who I'm trying to sway one way or another.

BROWNSTEIN: The "SNL" sketch this Saturday night worked so well I thought because if everybody watching it thought this is probably what they're really thinking. And is that -- is that funnier? Or is it when you're kind of exaggerating the character?

HUGHLEY: I think both can be. But I think -- you know like just the stakes changed. It went from, like, you know, from one bad --

BROWNSTEIN: Really bad.

HUGHLEY: -- really bad debate -- like -- I was, like, watching Barack Obama going, you do know you're in a fight right now? Like you're not a Mormon. Have some caffeine. You can have a shot of coffee.

But when the Mormon's more aggressive than the black guy, that's -- it was like watching Donnie Osmond slap Mike Tyson. It was --

O'BRIEN: Will you tonight watch this debate -- I mean do you sit there and watch this debate as a comedian and take notes. 30 minutes in here is what was said?

HUGHLEY: It already writes itself. Literally. You can't script the things that they say that you're going to find ironic or funny. I think truth is absolutely more funny than fiction.

O'BRIEN: D.L. Hughley, "The Endangered List" airs Saturday 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Comedy Central. It's nice to have you with us as always.

We got to take a break. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: We are out of time. We want to send it right to "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello. It begins right now. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning for "STARTING POINT".

Hey Carol, good morning.