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E-mails Shed New Light On Benghazi Attack; Sandusky Moved To Different Prison; Skakel Up For Parole; Pope Names Six New Cardinals; Bogus Letters Question Florida Voters; Ban Goes "Gangnam Style"; Campaigns Focus On Battlegrounds; Carlton Fisk Charged With DUI; Obama Would Win World Vote; In The "Shark Tank"; New Emails Provide Details on Libya Attack Timeline; Giants and Tigers Prepare for World Series; Republican Senatorial Candidate Makes Controversial Statement on Abortion

Aired October 24, 2012 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: They're zeroed in on a handful of states that could make all the difference. The President kicking off a two- day campaign marathon beginning with a rally in Davenport, Iowa. Then off to Denver, Colorado, then a stop at L.A. for a taping of "The Tonight Show," then finally a late-night event in Las Vegas. Governor Romney's campaign events today in Reno, Nevada, Cedar Rapids Iowa. CNN's Dana Bash is following the fight to the finish. Good morning.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. What you're saying right now on the campaign trail is these candidates with their closing arguments trying to do something that's not so easy, appeal to the small sliver of undecided voters that are still out there, but also, rev up the base. And so you're seeing kind of a -- in some ways a contradictory message from each of them, but they're hoping that they reach their targets. Listen to some examples.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Four more years like the last four years would continue to have a president playing hide and seek, trying to find a plan to get the economy going. To create jobs. This is a president whose approach to creating jobs is another stimulus. How'd the first one work out?

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can choose a foreign policy that's reckless and wrong, or you can choose one that is steady and strong. You can choose to turn back the clock 50 years for immigrants and gays and women, or, in this election, you can decide we will remain an inclusive, generous country.


BASH: Now there is a pretty big map of battleground states right now. And you have eight of them, eight battleground states that are really too close to call, Soledad. But it not just states like Ohio and Nevada and Iowa and so on. There's also one very interesting state in the northeast that is never a battleground because it's always democratic and that's the state of Maine. The Romney super PAC is running an ad in Maine. Why is that? The way the state distributes their electoral votes it's by congressional district. There's a very conservative congressional district that could provide Republicans one electoral vote and if it is that tight that could matter.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. Wow. Maine.

BASH: Republicans kind of raised their hands and said maybe we should go up there.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Four years ago, there was one congressional district in Nebraska, which is the only other state to do it.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. So there's a new Obama ad out today. Tell me about that.

BASH: This really speaks to the idea that the Obama campaign is desperate to get every single Democrat out, even those who are maybe ho-hum about going to the polls. They're reminding Democrats about what happened in 2000 and how they felt about it. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 537, the number of votes that changed the course of American history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Florida is too close to call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The difference between what was and what could have been. So this year, if you're thinking that your vote doesn't count, that it won't matter, well, back then, there were probably at least 537 people who felt the same way.


BASH: A reminder to everybody out there that every vote does matter, and a way to kind of send chills up the spine of every democrat who still has not gotten over that loss in 2000. You know to get them to go out and knock on maybe one more door, make one more phone call, convince their aunt that doesn't feel like going out to vote that they really should go out to vote. That's what that's about.

O'BRIEN: An indication, I think, that both campaigns are thinking that this could really not be decided on election night.

BERMAN: Certain Democratic voters says don't let people steal this election. That's what the message is.

O'BRIEN: They got everybody back. That's interesting. Dana, thank you very much. John's got a look at some of the other stories making news.

BERMAN: No comment from the White House yet about new e-mails detailing information about last month's deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. According to those e-mails the White House and the State Department were informed a militant Islamic group had claimed credit for the attack, two hours after it began. And U.S. diplomats were providing details to officials in Washington while it was happening. Now, in a moment we're going to get reaction from Congressman Mike Rogers, who is the chairman of the house intelligence committee.

A massive document dump reveals the state of Massachusetts knew about reports that NECC was breaking prescription laws over the past decade. The documents show complaints from doctors and even complaints from officials in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Texas. But Massachusetts failed to take tough action. NECC is behind a nationwide meningitis outbreak now up to 304 cases and four other infections, including 23 deaths in 17 states.

A deadly shark attack off the coast of Santa Barbara in California. Police say the victim was an expert surfer. He was riding the waves with friends off the Santa Barbara coast near Vandenberg air force base when he was bitten in the upper torso. Friends tried to rescue him but they were unable to.

Tropical storm sandy is gaining strength. It isn't a hurricane just yet but it is expected to become one soon as it bears down on Jamaica later today. A hurricane warning is in effect there, and in some provinces in central and eastern Cuba, as well. Later this morning Montego Bay airport will close. Also a tropical storm watch is in effect for southeastern Florida in the northeastern Keys. Rob Marciano told us a little while ago this may be a storm we have to watch on the northeast and the east coast of the U.S. coming up later next week.

A powerful 6.5 magnitude earthquake in western Costa Rica centered about five miles from the tourist destination of Nicoya. The quake struck around 7:30 last night local time and could be felt 90 miles away. It was followed by a 4.5 aftershock. No word yet of any injuries.

Smaller and pricier. Apple is hoping that this formula will be a hit after introducing its new iPad mini. The company's razor thin tablet has a 7.9 inch screen, front and rear cameras, and weighs about 0.68 pounds. The starting price $329 which is pricier than some competitors. Wall Street does not seem impressed so far. Apple shares are down more than three percent since the company made the price public.

O'BRIEN: That's interesting.

BERMAN: it costs about $100 more than the competitors the Kindle and Nook and Samsung.

O'BRIEN: I don't know. I don't know if I'd get one.

BASH: I'm not sure. The ipad is not so big. It fits in most purses. Especially the purses we carry.

O'BRIEN: The large bags we carry. All right, John, thank you.

There are some new e-mails, we were just talking about that in your news update, obtained by CNN, providing some detail about the deadly September 11th attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi showing the White House and the state department were informed about an Islamic military group taking the responsibility for the assault two hours after that assault began. I want to take a look at some of those e- mails. They were sent between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. eastern time on the day of the attack.

Here's the first one. Quote, a "A diplomatic mission is under attack. Embassy Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots, explosions have been heard, as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four com personnel are in the compound safe haven."

Next email, "Embassy Tripoli reports the firing at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi has stopped and the compound has been cleared. A response team on site is on site attempting to locate the com personnel."

And this one, "Embassy Tripoli reports the group Ansar al Sharia claimed responsibility on Facebook and twitter and has called for an attack on embassy Tripoli."

Let's get right to Republican Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan. He's the chairman of the house intelligence committee. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you very much for talking with us. So in these e-mails, we are, I guess, sort of seeing the event unravel mostly in real time. When you see these e-mails, what does it tell you?

REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R) MICHIGAN: Well, it's not just these e-mails, it's everything that came before it. So when you look at the entire timeline, Soledad, we know that there were threat streams from AQIM, Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and Ansar al Sharia, this group that was claiming responsibility that they referenced in the e-mail, is an affiliate of that Al Qaeda group. And so what we saw was threat streams that 9 embassy, the consulate had been attacked twice before, April and June before that September attack. This was clearly a targeted place, somewhere they wanted to have some terrorist success on the compound. So what you saw in the e-mails in that real time was a real description. And, as you noticed, there was no talk of demonstrations or other things. And it was clearly very early identified with a terrorist affiliate of AQIM.

O'BRIEN: So let me ask you about that. How are they linked to Al Qaeda, because I know, as you know, that there are some who say that they are, that they're, they're not one and the same. I mean you know for those of us who are not on the committee, clearly, we think of them as this region of bad guys. But Al Qaeda has sort of leadership structure and other people have said that Ansar al Sharia is just sort of a label and not so much of a leadership structure. Can you walk us through that?

ROGERS: Yes. What Al Qaeda, the core group of Al Qaeda, so Osama bin Laden, and a guy named Zawahiri, and of course Osama bin Laden is gone and Zawahiri has taken his place. That's the core leadership of Al Qaeda. Those were the original folks who brought up together and found groups that would join and swear allegiance to the leadership of Al Qaeda. So that's -- that core group. Then you have Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which was an affiliate group that joined Al Qaeda and pledged allegiance to them. And about '06, Al Qaeda in the Maghreb, which was not a direct Al Qaeda affiliate, then joined Al Qaeda and swore allegiance to that core group.

So, what you have is these different affiliate groups, who are engaged in terrorism, and have been prior to this, who have sworn allegiance to the principles of that core group. So it's -- they're affiliated. They have the same goals, the same aims. Sometimes they'll take direction, sometimes they won't, from the core group. But they all engage in the same tactics, same principles, and still want, at the end of the day, the caliphate that they enjoyed that covered all of northern Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East. That's what they're stated and intended goal is. And Ansar al sharia basically means "protector of Islam." So they have sworn an oath to do that. So they are that extremist, jihadist group. All of them continue to be dangerous.

And the interesting thing, again, Soledad, is we also know now that on the 13th of September, there was what we believe is probably an affiliated of Al Qaeda attack the U.S. embassy in Tunisia. Four dead, not Americans, and they also hit the American school there. Nobody's really talking about it. But that tells you the level of coordination and of sheer interest in trying to hit western targets.

O'BRIEN: So let's talk about that a little bit, if we can. I want to go through some reports. Earlier we were talking about, talking about the "L.A. Times" report, which said this, a piece of it, said "The assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi last month appears to have been an opportunistic attack rather than a long-planned operation, and intelligence agencies have found no evidence that it was ordered by Al Qaeda according to U.S. officials, and witnesses interviewed in Libya." This was an article on October 19th.

And then, I'll give you "The Wall Street Journal" one, we could talk about, excuse me, both. "Wall Street Journal," "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." So, is this the "L.A. Times" is wrong? Is it "The Wall Street Journal" is wrong? Is it they're both right? Is it just so confusing that everybody could be right in this? Explain those two reports to me.

ROGERS: Yes. It's -- this is pretty interesting. I think somebody latched onto what they wanted to hear in intelligence that was provided. Remember, if you're an analyst and you do this for a living, you see all of this threat information about the consulate long before the September 1th attack on the consulate. We know twice that it's been attacked, which it tells you, by the way, Al Qaeda sponsored events, they want to -- they'll continue hitting the target until they're successful. We saw that with the twin towers in the '93 attack, and then if successful 9/11 attack in 2000 -- their success, not ours.

And so you take a look at all of that stream of information, and then these e-mails that you just highlighted, it's really difficult to come to the conclusion up front that it was a spontaneous, not planned, part of a protest when none of that was in the early hours of reporting. So we're still trying to figure out what happened.

What I believe happened, Soledad, is that somebody saw something that they thought was the way that they wanted to talk about it, versus what the facts on the ground were, because, think about it, even when that narrative was starting to develop, oh, this was spontaneous, it wasn't planned, it wasn't really a terrorist attack, on September 13th we had another jihadist attack on an embassy in Tunisia. It was very serious, four people killed, not Americans, we had to evacuate the embassy, and they also went and stormed the American school there. So you see this pattern of activity is really hard to come to this conclusion that was just spontaneous, and just kind of happened.

So that's what we're trying to figure out. And why this is important, not because who did what when is a problem here. It's about the fact that decisions were made, big policy decisions, including elevating the video that, if you listen to those e-mail or read those e-mails, nothing about the video, it elevated the video and actually caused more protests across the Middle East.

O'BRIEN: At the same time, though, we know that there were a list of countries in which the video was triggering, I mean in the context of all of that at the same time there were protests that, that reporting show that the video had been involved. It seems slightly confusing.

Congressman Rogers, we're out of time, but I thank you for your insight this morning. Chair of the intelligence committee and Romney campaign surrogate I should mention as well.

We've got to take a break this morning on STARTING POINT. We're going to take a look at the fall classic, the Tigers taking on the Giants in the World Series. Who is most likely to take home the ring? We're going to talk to the host of ESPN's Mike and Mike in the morning coming up next.

And fake letters sent to voters in one crucial state questioning their citizenship and registration just days before the election. We'll tell you what you need to know about that scam.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. The San Francisco Giants headed to game one of the World Series tonight after a stunning game seven victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night. They're going to face off against the Detroit Tigers and their ace starting pitcher, the reigning American league MVP Justin Verlander. The team has been scrimmaging against minor league prospects to keep their skills sharp during their week off.

Joined by the most of "Mike & Mike in the Morning," Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg. Nice to see you, gentlemen. I'm curious if you think it's better to be rested up, or to be, you know, in momentum playing against, you know, a, a great series. Which is the better option, do you think? MIKE GREENBERG, CO-HOST, "MIKE AND MIKE IN THE MORNING": Well, in Golic's world of football the rest helps. There's a lot of injury factor so getting guys back healthy and getting downtime is an advantage. In baseball it is a distinct disadvantage. For six months these guys are accustomed to the rhythm up of playing every single day. Two days off is an unusual circumstance. Five or six days of like the tigers have right now is a huge disadvantage.

MIKE GOLIC, CO-HOST, "MIKE AND MIKE IN THE MORNING": The team that's had the longer layoff has lost the last five of six World Series. So while you could spin it either way, you know, and make -- and justify it for your team, I do think in this case the more you keep playing closer to the World Series, the better off you're going to be.

O'BRIEN: OK, so let's say you're saying the tigers go in with a disadvantage. Lay out for me what kind of -- we're going to see in this game.

GREENBERG: Obviously, Verlander is the best pitcher on the planet. That's the Tigers big advantage. I heard you say Soledad you're a Yankees fan.



GREENBERG: You saw what the tiger pitchers did to your --

O'BRIEN: I'm kidding. Yes.

GREENBERG: But obviously their pitching was dominating in that series and Verlander is the leader of it. He is the best pitcher on the planet and I think they're depending on him big-time to set the tone. Spin it the other way. If the Giants should ever beat Verlander in game one, think how much momentum swings their way.

GOLIC: I think Detroit is favored in this because of Verlander. But seeing what the giants did six times with their backs against the wall in the last two series, there are those who believe in the baseball gods, that faith is just with them. I don't buy into any of that. I believe in execution on the field and I think Detroit is the better team.

O'BRIEN: I used to believe in the baseball gods, too, awhile back. Back to my Yankees. A quick question for you, you heard what Brian Cashman was saying about A-Rod. Traded or not?

GREENBERG: Absolutely not. They have nowhere to send him. He will be back. The Yankees will come back almost exactly the same.

GOLIC: Why trade him and also give away maybe $90 million, as well? Pay him to go away that much? Not going to happen.

O'BRIEN: Nice to see you guys. Thank you.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Todd Akin kind of has a little company. Listen to this.


RICHARD MOURDOCK, (R) SENATE CANDIDATE: Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that god intended to happen.


O'BRIEN: That's a Republican Senate candidate taking some heat for saying that pregnancies by rain are intended by god. We'll discuss that straight ahead on STARTING POINT.


BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Looking at some stop stories right now. Barnes & Noble is warning customers who shopped 63 of its stores that their credit card information may have been stolen. If you shopped at Barnes & Noble before September 14th, it's a good idea to change your PIN number and check your statement. Stores in nine states were affected.

After spending a ton of cash and finishing last in the national league east the Miami Marlins have fired manager Ozzie Guillen. It's Guillen's first and only season managing the Marlins. The team's poor performance wasn't the only reason for his dismissal. Team officials say Guillen's controversial marks last April, you may remember them, when he praised Fidel Castro, those remarks also played a role.

O'BRIEN: Not surprised. Along with Dana Bash this morning our team includes Will Cain. We've already been arguing. Don't be so sensitive. He's a columnist for Roland Martin is going to be joining us in just a moment. John Berman has been helping us out this morning.

Our get real this morning, a real interesting question about a lack of sensitivity toward a victim of rape. First it was Missouri Senate candidate Republican Todd Akin who talked about legitimate rape. You'll remember that. And now an Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock says he believes pregnancies resulting from rape are a gift from god. Here's what he said last night, the last minutes of the debate.


MOURDOCK: I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have for -- to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother. I just -- I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is a gift from god. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that god intended to happen.


O'BRIEN: So Mourdock clarified his comments afterwards saying "God creates life, and that was my point. God does not want rape and by no means was I suggesting that he does. A rape is a horrible thing and for anyone who twists my words otherwise is absurd and sick."

BASH: First and foremost, just because any chance that Democrats, in particular, have to whack Republicans on the issue -- on an issue that could draw women or draw women away from Republicans, they're going to do it. In this particular race, he made the connection between this and Todd Akin's comments, I talked to a senior Republican strategist who is kind of monitoring this to get a sense of the fallout, and this source says that they don't think that this is that similar to Akin for one main reason, and that is what he was doing was describing his very well-publicized view on abortion, that it should not -- that the exception should not be there for rape, and that many Republicans agree with that, especially in the very conservative state of Indiana. Very different from what Todd Akin said which is that somehow people's bodies can reject pregnancy from rape, which, you know, virtually nobody believes. That's number one. Don't expect Republicans to throw Mourdock under the bus like they did Akin. This is a very, very different issue.

O'BRIEN: Governor Romney has, I think, put out an ad supporting Richard Mourdock and he had a tough fight as a tea party candidate at first to get exception from the GOP and now he, he's struggling a little bit. What do you think --

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Politically I hope this isn't an issue. I don't think this is an appropriate conversation to have to the political end. Will it have an impact politically? That's depends how it's spun. I don't want to partake in the spin. The question that Mourdock --

O'BRIEN: Did you just say as a political analyst you don't want to partake in the spin?

CAIN: Would you rub it under my face, please? The question is this, Dana said it. It's true. This is not so much what akin said. Akin redefined the concept of rape and went into biological, medical procedures, and mysteries. What Mourdock suggested here is that he's not saying god wanted rape. God, he's saying, sanctions life. And if you believe life begins at conception, either through religion or through logic, then how that life is created is beside the point.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask a follow-up to that. I know you love the logic argument. So then why make an exception for the life of the mother? If you are saying that morally an abortion is killing something that is alive at the moment of conception, at the end of the day isn't it like, well --

CAIN: Now you're pitting two lives against each other. Now you're forced to choose the value between two lives.

O'BRIEN: And that's morally acceptable?

CAIN: It's a moral conundrum. The other equation is not.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The problem with faith-based perspective. The difference between what is god's will, and what is free will. If you're sitting here trying to say oh, if you got raped it was god's will for you to have that child, so, are you saying that, oh, it's OK it happened so go ahead and move forward. Frankly, as a Christian, as an evangelical, I'm not buying that argument. And I would ask him the question, if your daughter got raped, are you telling me that you would be fine with her having that child?

O'BRIEN: We can invite everyone to e-mail us and tweet us because I think this is part of a bigger conversation. Will and I talked THAT We should do a 30-minute show on this at some point.

CAIN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Before we move on however at this moment, because they're yelling at me in my ear. Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, remember the number nine. That is the number of states that could decide the entire election just 13 days away now. One of those battleground states is the state of Florida. We're going to talk to Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart coming up next.

And the phrase Gangnam style getting diplomatic. It's now reached the United Nations only a month after my daughters -- we'll explain. You haven't seen this?


O'BRIEN: Back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back. You're watching STARTING POINT. What did they know and when did they know it? So far the White House isn't commenting on those new details emerging from last month's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

According to e-mails obtained by CNN, the State Department and the White House were told about an Islamic militant group taking responsibility for the assault just two hours after that assault began.

In one of those e-mails, U.S. diplomats told officials in Washington the group Ansar Al-Sharia claimed credit on Facebook and on Twitter and was calling for another attack on the embassy in Tripoli.

Foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott is live from Washington, D.C. this morning. So walk us through, if you will, Elise, this e-mail chain that we now know.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Soledad, these are the first communications that we've seen coming from the administration about what was happening in the attack in from the State Department Operations Center, to people in the White House Situation Room, the Pentagon, the FBI.

And it's at about 10:00 Tripoli time, 4:00 Eastern Time, saying U.S. Tripoli -- U.S. Benghazi under attack, embassy Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots, explosions have been heard, as well.

Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi and four mission personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.

Now, Soledad, the next e-mail, which came out about a half hour later, said that the shots had stopped, and that all was actually calm, and you know, response team was trying to locate those personnel.

But we now understand that those militants had actually breached the compound walls and had set fire to that main building of the compound, where Chris Stevens and Sean Smith died. And that last e-mail about responsibility.

So what it shows is that even the night of the attack, there were indications that this extremist group, an al Qaeda affiliate, could be involved -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. All right, thanks for that. We appreciate the update. Let's get to John Berman now. He has got an update of our day's top stories, as well. Good morning.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. Convicted serial pedophile Jerry Sandusky is undergoing a physical and mental evaluation at a new Pennsylvania prison. He was transferred to state lockup at Camp Hill yesterday.

The former Penn State coach shouldn't get too comfortable there, though. After evaluation he'll be moved to another state prison to serve out the rest of his 30 to 60-year sentence.

Coming up in our next hour, CNN contributor and Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the "Patriot News" Sara Ganim will join us. She broke the Sandusky story. She's going to have new details of a book "Victim Number One" from Aaron Fisher.

Michael Skakel is hoping to be released from prison when he goes before a parole board in Connecticut today. The nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy has served half of a 20-year sentence for the 1975 murder of his teenage neighbor, Martha Moxley. Skakel still denies bodging the young girl's death with a golf club.

Pope Benedict naming six new Cardinals this morning. The surprise announcement comes during the Pope's weekly general audience at the Vatican. The Cardinals come from Lebanon, the Philippines, Nigeria, Colombia, India and the U.S.

Among those selected Monsignor James Harvey. He is the American prefect of the Pope's household. The new Cardinals will be elevated on November 24th.

Less than two weeks before the Presidential election, Florida investigators are trying to figure out who sent bogus letters to voters questioning their citizenship and registration.

Florida's secretary of state says people in 23 counties have received the letters, which are written on fake supervisor of election letterhead. They have no return address, but they do carry a postmark from Seattle, Washington.

With more than half the billion hits on YouTube, it is a bona fide global hit, even if Will Cain has never seen it. Now even the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is doing it Gangnam style.

Check it out the rapper, the South Korean rapper showed his fellow countrymen some moves yesterday. Secretary-general joked that he's a little jealous since he's not the most famous Korean in the world anymore. But he is the best dressed.

MARTIN: Not the most famous Korean. That's the LPGA tour.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Remember the Macarena?


O'BRIEN: We're re-living the Macarena. It needs to end very, very soon.

MARTIN: I'm not doing that dance ever, sorry.

O'BRIEN: Needs to end.

All right, ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, battleground, Florida. The latest CNN polling there shows it's an absolute toss-up. It's one of nine states that could decide the entire election.

Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart is going to join us next to talk a little bit about how he thinks it's going to go down in his state.

And the queen of QVC, entrepreneur Lori Greiner knows the secret to success. She's going to give us some of those tips when she joins us live. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Just 13 days until the election. Laser-like now focus on a handful of battleground states.

By CNN's count there are nine toss-up states where the election will be decided. You can see them in yellow, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and New Hampshire.

Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart advises Mitt Romney on foreign policy and he's from one of those states I just listed, the state of Florida. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us this morning.


O'BRIEN: All right, let's begin with what Nate Silver says in "The New York Times." He says Romney is the definitive favorite in Florida. Are you confident? Are you as confident as Nate sounds in a win for Mitt Romney in your state? DIAZ-BALART: Florida is always going to be tight. I feel very confident that Governor Romney is going to win Florida. Not only do you see the changing of the polls, but you just feel it out there. People are on concern about where we're headed and they see Mitt Romney as somebody who can fix the economy.

O'BRIEN: You see what I see is really interesting? We've been talking about polls over the last week. Let me throw this one up, a CNN/ORC poll that breaks it down to white and non-white in the state of Florida.

And if you look at that poll, white vote is Mitt Romney would get 61 percent according to our polling and President Obama 35 percent. If you look at nonwhites, Mitt Romney takes 24 percent of the non-white vote, President Obama 74 percent.

Let's focus on that 24 percent number. How worried is the GOP in general about that? Not just for this election but in general. You extrapolate out our nation is getting more diverse, that's got to be a worrisome number for you.

DIAZ-BALART: Well, look, I think that the Democratic Party has done a very good job with their speeches, with their rhetoric and trying to attract minority voters. And I think the Republican Party has not done as good of a job.

However, I think ultimately, what it's going to boil down to is policy. And who has the best plan to fix the economy, create jobs. I think you're going to see those numbers changing. We've seen them getting better for Governor Romney, getting worse for the President. I think you're going to continue to see that trend.

But clearly, I think the Republican jobs in the last few years have not done a great job in explaining what the policies are, and how they benefit the American people.

But I think what people are also understanding is that regardless of explanations, or rhetoric, that the policies that we're on right now frankly have not worked and we can do a better job and that our children and our grandchildren deserve a better future, which is why I think ultimately, Governor Romney's going to win Florida.

I think he's going to win a little bit stronger than some are predicting right now.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Congressman, it's Dana Bash here in New York. You say that it's the rhetoric, not the policies. But if you look at Florida, maybe you're right, let's just say that you're right that Governor Romney is going to do well there.

Look at the state of Nevada, where Republicans think that they're probably not going to win there. And one of the primary reasons is because Latinos in that state are just fed up with Republicans. Not so much on rhetoric, but because of the policies how do you fix that in your party and how frustrated are you? DIAZ-BALART: Yes, I'm not quite sure if it is policies and I'll tell you why. Remember that the President's been very good. He promised in his first 12 months, he gave his word, to the country, and to the Latino population in the country in particular.

That within the first 12 months he was going to do comprehensive immigration reform. He didn't do it. But by the way, look, look at Senator Reid's election. He did exceedingly well with Latino population because he promised he was going to present and pass the dream act.

He did it. He did a version of it, by the way, without talking to anybody else. But then after that, after the election, he doesn't mention it anymore. He doesn't do it anymore. He hasn't even proposed it anymore.

So we see this time and time again. So it really is rhetoric. It's not policy. On the policies, look at the increase in poverty. The group of kids, children, the largest group of children in poverty in the United States, you know what they are? They are the Latino children.

O'BRIEN: Which brings us back to --

DIAZ-BALART: That's a reality. So the policies have not been good. It's the rhetoric that has been better on the side of the Democratic Party.

O'BRIEN: I'm going to get to you a second, Roland. But first I want to jump in there for a second. I did a documentary on this very thing, right, the Latino vote in the state of Nevada.

And what you actually hear, on both sides, is the -- the rhetoric about immigration, it really does come down to in the state of Nevada heavily the issue is immigration policy. So it's -- it's -- it is, I think, a policy issue specifically centered around immigration.

DIAZ-BALART: Well, again, look, clearly that is the issue. I mean that's where the divide is. But, unfortunately, the President has not been very good on that issue. Look at the number of families that have been broken up under this administration, Hispanic families.

It's the greatest in the history of the country. If you look at the deportations of Latinos it's the largest in the history of this country. But the rhetoric has been very, very good.

And unfortunately the rhetoric of some of the rhetoric coming from some members of the Republican Party, most of which are gone, has been very destructive. That's why I go back to on immigration, what has the President done? He hasn't done what he promised.

But his rhetoric has been very good. On that count, on that count, neither Republicans or Democrats have been great with the exception of the law, which realized half a million Hispanics, by the way, I'm very proud that was by a Republican, my brother Congressman Lincoln Diaz- Balart. O'BRIEN: A shout-out to your brother on the air.

DIAZ-BALART: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: Roland --

MARTIN: I've got to ask real quick. During one of the CNN Republican debates, the question was asked, what would you do to attract Latinos to the GOP, and Mitt Romney and others, went on a long conversation about building a wall.

To me that shows something when it's a softball question, but they talked about a wall, versus actually how do you attract Latinos to the GOP.

DIAZ-BALART: The reality, again, that's why it's rhetoric. The policies, for Latinos, from this administration, are what? The poverty level increase, children in poverty now the largest number of Latinos, right, right, right, so the policies among Latinos from this administration have been horrendous.

What I'm telling you is that the rhetoric, the rhetoric from the Democrats have been much better to try to attract that vote and the rhetoric from the Republicans has not been that good, however, when you look at the policies, when you look at the policies.

You tell me if you think it's acceptable that, that, that the poverty level among children, Hispanic children, has risen dramatically. Has that helped the Latino community? No.

The policies from this administration have been destructive, particularly to Hispanic children. And that's why I think ultimately, in the state of Florida and elsewhere, when people start focusing.

And they are, they're going to look at do our children and grandchildren deserve this or do they deserve a better, brighter future, which has always been what the United States provides. That's why I think you're going to see those numbers, frankly, that gap shrink as the days go by.

O'BRIEN: We will certainly be looking at that Congressman Mario Diaz- Balart. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us. Appreciate it.

DIAZ-BALART: Good to see you. Good morning.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, she's a shark in the business world and for good reason. Lori Greiner is one of the stars of "Shark Tank" and she's got some success secrets to share with us this morning. We're back in just a moment.


BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. Looking at some of your top stories this morning. Hall of fame catcher Carlton Fisk had some explaining to do after police found him passed out behind the wheel of his pickup truck in an Illinois cornfield. After refusing to take a blood alcohol test, Fudge was charged with DUI and spent the night in jail. The 64-year-old Fisk has a date in court next month.

A new survey claims that President Obama would win by a landslide if the rest of the world got to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

The BBC World Service polled people in 21 countries. On average, 50 percent of those favored preferred President Obama, 9 percent favored Mitt Romney. The rest of the world has roughly zero electoral votes.

O'BRIEN: But what if they threw in another name? If it wasn't Obama, Romney, but they threw in some other --

BERMAN: Gary Johnson finally gets --

CAIN: Like Puttin --

O'BRIEN: I was thinking Beyonce.

MARTIN: Like Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Maybe she would do better.

All right, "Shark Tank," the popular reality TV show about deal making is now in its fourth season. Fourth season, wow! Wealthy sharks get their own money to fund ideas pitched to them by regular people. It leads to some very interesting presentations. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you're currently tasting is an array of back nine buffalo chicken dips. Wing sauces, dipping sauces, blend them together, to create everything you would get in a chicken wing on a chip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is basically a chicken slurpee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Protein-based dip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I have to say it's delicious.


O'BRIEN: Was it really? That was Lori Greiner, sometimes called the warm blooded shark, also known as the queen of QVC, creator of more than 300 products. Was that really good? It sounded disgusting.

LORI GREINER, "SHARK TANK": I think it depended on who was eating it. If you liked that kind of thing, you liked it. The other male sharks did not really like it.

CAIN: Did you invest?

GREINER: I thought it was pretty good. I did invest. I did invest. O'BRIEN: OK, so how do you know how to pick? What resonates for you because you're really, really good at it in your own life. What do you see presented that makes say winner, loser?

GREINER: I look at two things. I look at what is the product or the business? Is it something that I feel in my gut is going to go far? I've had a lot of years. I've had 16 years and 400 products that are successful created.

I think that intuitively know now what is good. A lot of things you can't sell to a mass market. Is it something that the majority of people are going to want? What will it cost to make? What will they pay for it? If it fits these things, I can get it out there, but it's also the person.

O'BRIEN: Let me run a little chunk of something called "Nail Pack." Here is the "Nail Pack" pitch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been in the shopping world, Shopping Channel World for 15 years. You talk like it's nothing. Most people fail that go on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not me. I don't fail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you will fail. You know nothing about nail polish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to sell it. Barbara is going to sell it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't just call up a buyer and say --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We take the 10,000 units shall put it in duty- free, put the rest in Avon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They talk like it's so easy and you know it's not.


CAIN: I have started two businesses. I've succeeded and failed and I've heard from venture capitalists several times exactly what you just said. We bet on jockeys, not on horses. It's about the people, right?

Here's my question. I read a book called "Sonic Boom." It was great. It had a quote in there from a guy, Kleiner Perkins and he side, do you know what word I avoid in investing, pioneers.

I don't want to come near pioneers. The first guy through the gate always dies. Do you believe that, it's better to be second? It's better to be Facebook than MySpace.

GREINER: No, I don't agree with that. Because I think if you have something great, it's great. I was a pioneer. Look where I am today. So, no, I think it's a combination. It's like the perfect storm. You have to have a great idea or product.

I think if it's unique, it helps. And I think that if you're a great person, it helps. You have to have somebody with passion and drive and enthusiasm. They're going to live it 24/7. That's what it takes to make a successful business.

MARTIN: I have a small business, a media company. What amazes me, you have folks that have great ideas, but don't understand the other aspects of business.

So I believe in the phrase, stay in your lane. If you're good at this, get somebody who knows accounting or marketing because you can't do all of those things.

GREINER: I think as a general rule, that's smart. You asked me do I agree with that? Not always necessarily because I had a journalism background. I didn't stay in my lane. I went out of my lane and figured it out.

O'BRIEN: We love the new lane that you're in now. It's awesome to watch you. Thank you for being with us this morning.

GREINER: Thank you so much.

O'BRIEN: We're going to take a short break and we are back in just a moment.