CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Presidential Race Tightens; Interview with Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Former Goldman Sachs Employee Discusses Firm's Operations; Benghazi Attack Suspect Arrested; McCain Withholding Support For Mourdock; Arrest In Jessica Ridgeway Murder; Husband Of Meningitis Victim Now Sick; Embryos Created From One Man, Two Women; Begging For A Hacking; Virginia Too Close To Call; Obama Comments On Mourdock; $1 Billion Mortgage Fraud Suit; Melissa Joan Hart Grows Up

Aired October 25, 2012 - 07:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. Our starting point this morning, hitting the trail hard. Mitt Romney and President Obama are on a campaign blitz, trying to win over the undecided voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe in you! I need you to keep believing in me.

(APPLAUSE)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I need your help. We're going to take back America and keep it the hope of the earth. Thank you!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: This as key swing states, one, specifically, changing its color.

Why he quit. The former Goldman Sachs banker who made waves with his public bombshell resignation letter will join us live this morning. He says the company is morally bankrupt. They say he's disgruntled.

An unbelievable feat on the diamond with three incredible home runs. Pablo Sandoval helps the Giants tame the Tigers in game one of the World Series. Will Detroit even things up tonight? And her TV career has spanned decades. Melissa Joan Hart will join us live to talk about her latest projects. It's Thursday, October 25th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, the high -stakes struggle for eight must-win swing states. The election 12 days away. President Obama and Governor Romney tapping into their travel budgets, both men crisscrossing the country targeting those toss-up states that will decide this race. Ohio could be the most critical. And a new time poll has the President ahead there by five points, largely on the strength of early voting in his favor. But the Romney campaign has something to celebrate this morning as well. CNN shifting the state of North Carolina from a toss-up to a leaning Romney column.

Let's get right to CNN's chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin. She's in Tampa, Florida, this morning, she's traveling with the President. Hey, Jessica, good morning.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Soledad, good morning. The President has just arrived here in Tampa, Florida. I think he's headed to do some off the record stops, maybe he'll stop and get a Cuban sandwich before he heads here to the rally.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about what's going to happen for him today. We talked about some good news, the nice lead, at least if you're lacking at this specific "TIME" poll, but challenging news if you're looking at North Carolina. It looks like the Romney team is packing up and moving out because they're so confident of a win and CNN has moved that into the leaning Romney campaign. Talk about what the analysis of those states is at this point.

YELLIN: So that's obviously very good news for the Romney campaign. They need lock up as many states and put them away so they can focus on other battlegrounds. The President is taking his tour through six battleground states that the Obama campaign still feels that they can win or challenge Romney to continue to spend money in.

And we have been hustling through them. In the last days, we've been in Florida, now I'm here twice, Ohio, Colorado, we'll be going to Virginia. The President was in Nevada last night, and he's also been in Iowa, and he's making a stop along the way to vote, to early vote in Illinois, because the early vote is so crucial for the Obama campaign to turn out their forces.

Part of this, Soledad, I think is a mind fake, a little bit to get out the -- to force Romney to keep spending money in some of the states where he might actually have an edge, although the Obama people won't admit that, states like Florida, where they insist they still have the wedge edge, the Obama folks do, but our polls show that Romney might have the advantage.

O'BRIEN: So let's talk a little bit about what we were discussing yesterday, Richard Mourdock's comments about rape and I guess what he would say, the life, you know, an abortion, a tricky question that was put to him at the end of a debate, which he then answered in a way that had people with a massive backlash. He has, yesterday, clarified his opinion, saying that "The lack of clarity in my words came from an impression that those I stated, which is life is precious and I abhor violence. I'm confident god abhors violence and rape. If you came away with any impression other than that, I truly regret it." My question to you is a political one. What's the impact of this upon this race?

YELLIN: Well, the Obama campaign is seizing on those comments to do what they can to sway undecided, the remaining undecided women voters, that the Democratic ticket is more -- going to do more to defend their interests than Romney, who has endorsed Mourdock and actually taped an ad for the Senate candidate, and in fact, the President himself made that point when he appeared on the "The Jay Leno Show" last night and taped this. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Let me make a very simple proposition. Rape is rape. It is a crime.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: The second thing this underscores, though, is this is exactly why you don't want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women's health care decisions.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: So Soledad, the President, again, making that direct appeal to women voters and trying to tie the Governor though those comments, as much as possible. Again, this is about targeting key demographic groups in these final days, women, Latino voters, and then, of course, getting out that early vote. Soledad?

And I'm sure that you expect to see more of all of this as we enter the final days. Jessica Yellin for us this morning. Thank you, Jessica, appreciate it. In a few moments, we'll be talking to congresswoman and DNC chairman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She'll be weighing in on all of that.

But first, John Berman has a look at the day's top stories. Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Good morning, Soledad. All eyes on hurricane Sandy, now starting to move into the Florida straits. It slammed into Cuba as a strong category 2 storm earlier this morning. Two deaths now being reported, blamed on sandy. One in Jamaica, another in Haiti. Meteorologist Rob Marciano is tracking sandy. Rob, we want to know, is this coming our way, a powerful category 2 storm right now.

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: In one way, shape, or form, it is. It's going to be a combination of things as we go forward. But first off, still a category 2 storm as it comes off the coast of Cuba, into the Bahamas, northerly movement at 18 miles an hour, 105 miles an hour sustained winds now. It will likely decrease in intensity a little bit as it goes further to the north.

Speaking of going further north, tropical storm warnings have been extended all the way up to Daytona Beach in Florida. You're starting to see the feeder bands getting into Miami, into the keys as well, where winds are already gusting over 40 miles an hour. Large circulation is going to batter all this coastline, and potentially curve later next week, in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday timeframe, anywhere from the delmarva up through Maine, either a direct impact or going offshore and having an indirect impact in terms of big waves, big wind, and coastal flooding. We'll keep you posted. BERMAN: Rob, thank you very much.

New developments in the September 11th attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. A 28-year-old man suspected of taking part is now in custody in Tunisia. U.S. officials say the FBI will be allowed to question him. The suspect was reportedly posting details of the Benghazi attack on social media websites as it was happening.

We also have new developments in the shooting of anti-Taliban activist Malala Yousufzai. Pakistani police say they have six people in custody, but the man they call the main shooting suspect, Attullah Khan is still at large. Malala is making good progress. She's reportedly fighting an infection, but she's able to move her fingers and toes and stand up with help from the nurses.

And one man known as the Kung Fu Panda destroyed the Tigers in game one of the World Series. Pablo Sandoval tied a home run record. He hit three homeruns in this game to lead the Giants to an 8-3 win. He's just the fourth player ever to accomplish this feat. He's the first to do it in his first three at-bats in the World Series.

And Sandoval did hit two of these homeruns off of Detroit ace Justin Verlander, who has been pitching better than anyone in baseball. Verlander lasted just four innings. The Giants' game once starter, Barry Zito, he was on top of his game. He kept the Detroit lineup at bay the desire game. And he was relieved by long-haired Time Lincecum. He retire seven straight batter, striking out five. The Tigers will try to even the series in game two tonight. This was a surprise. A lot of people thought The tigers were going to win game one.

O'BRIEN: Not me.

BERMAN: You always knew the Giants had it in the bag.

O'BRIEN: No, I didn't know that, but I'm kind of happy they did, because the Tigers beat my Yankees.

Back to our starting point this morning, the battle for the White House is being waged in a shrinking number of states now. President Obama and mitt Romney touring those crucial battleground states and trying to get out every last vote. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a chairman of the Democratic National Committee. It's nice to see you this morning. Thank you for talking with us. Appreciate it.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, (D) CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Let's first talk about president Obama who was on NBC's "Rock Center" last night and he was asked about how close this race is and he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You guys have some short memories. Folks in your business were writing me off a year ago, saying, there's no way I would win, right? So, you know, these things go in ebbs and flows. And the one thing I've tried to always be is just steady in terms of what I believe in, who I'm fighting for. And, you know, I think that one of the qualities I bring to bear in this campaign is people see what did I say I was going to do in 2008, and what have I delivered, and they can have some confidence that the things the I say, I mean.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: CNN has just changed North Carolina as a toss-up state to now a lean Romney state. And our sources tell us that the Obama campaign officials think North Carolina is moving out of reach as a possibility, sort of a path for winning that. Where does the campaign stand, considering how tight this is in that particular leaning column for that state?

SCHULTZ: Well, we've been -- first of all, CNN is entitled to their opinion.

O'BRIEN: Why, thank you.

SCHULTZ: But we don't -- we don't agree. We know, particularly North Carolina, remember, our convention was in charlotte, North Carolina. We planted a flag there and have had a really strong organization, ground game that we're executing, because early voting has begun there. And we were there from the beginning of the 2008 campaign and have never left. So we're very confident in the grassroots strategy that we have, all across the country. But particular in North Carolina we've done tremendously well in voter registration, and now in turnout.

Now, just in general, I would agree with the President, this election, we always knew, was going to be tight. We knew it was going to be close. And our plans and the way we've structured this campaign has been such that we're focused on executing the largest, most significant grassroots presidential campaign that really has ever been waged. And so through early voting, and cutting the Republicans' advantage, which is their traditional advantage in absentee ballot requests, getting voters turned out, really hundreds of thousands of door knocks and phone calls, we're confident that our ground game is going to help to carry President Obama to victory.

O'BRIEN: Let me jump in. We have reports that the Romney campaign has been closing up shop in that state, correct? Haven't they said that they're so confident -- I would think that if I heard my competitor felt so good about his chances that he's closing up his campaign shop, because they feel that that's a win --

BERMAN: Well, they're not going to campaign in a state where they don't think they need to push him over the top. And we got a report today they're kind of mocking president Obama for not going to North Carolina. There will be Republicans on a tarmac in North Carolina as president Obama flies ahead going from Florida to Virginia today. But I don't think either Democrats, with my apologies to the chairman, or Republicans right now think that North Carolina is seriously in play. But it also is important to know that president Obama doesn't need North Carolina to win. It is not a key part of their equation.

O'BRIEN: OK, let me run this videotape by you, if I can, Congresswoman. It was released by something called Project Veritas, which is a conservative group that's headed by James O'Keefe, and this videotape shows Patrick Moran, a son of the Virginia congressman, Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, giving advice to an undercover reporter from this conservative group on how to cast votes for 100 people that he says weren't planning to vote. At the time, Patrick was field director for his father's re-election campaign. He has since resigned after this tape became public. I want to play a little chunk of this and then talk about it on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK MORAN, SON OF JIM MORAN: Now, you're going to have, you'll have somebody in house, and if they have what you feel is legitimate, they'll argue for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lawyer?

MORAN: It will be a lawyer provided by the communities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's got to look good.

MORAN: Yes, I think, it's going to be a matter of --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need to find a computer guy. That's probably my next step.

MORAN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're hard-core, Jason.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: What do you think of that videotape?

SCHULTZ: It's just indefensible and he was right to resign. But look, the difference here is that when something like that happens, in our -- on our side, first of all, that's one person, and he was quickly taken out of the campaign and we stressed our commitment to making sure that there is no tolerance for voter fraud.

But let's look at the Republican Party, Soledad. In three states, the Republicans have gotten caught paying, Nathan Sprow's firm, for voter registration fraud. My state, Virginia, and one other state, where the Republicans paid a firm that was caught deliberately fraudulently registering voters, tossing out some registrations that were Democratic voter registrations.

And so the deep-seated, widespread voter fraud that the Republicans are seem to have been continuing to contract this firm for, that's what's very disturbing. You know, isolated innocent incidents, when they come out on they should be dealt with like this one was because there's zero tolerance for voter fraud. That's the bottom line.

O'BRIEN: Patrick Moran, the young man in that video, released a statement to "The Washington Post." He said, "At no point did I take this person seriously. He struck me as being unstable and joking, and for only that reason did I humor him. In hindsight, I should have immediately walked away, making it clear that there is no place if the electoral process for even the suggestion of illegal behavior, joking or not." And his father says, "Patrick is well liked and was a well- respected member of the campaign team. This incident, however, was clearly an error in judgment. The campaign has accepted Patrick's resignation, effective immediately."

I think I have time to ask you about Richard Mourdock and comments on rape. We were just talking about it a moment ago with Jessica Yellin. How do you think it impacts the race?

SCHULTZ: I think it impacts the race, because it's another example of how deeply embedded the extremism is when it comes to women's health, whether it's Todd Akin's comments about legitimate rape or Richard Mourdock's comments saying that a pregnancy from rape is a gift from god. He's only had his spokesperson say he hasn't agreed with his views. Mitt Romney hasn't asked Mourdock to apologize. He hasn't pulled his ad or his endorsement. And that's because Mitt Romney has said things like he would be delighted to sign a total ban on abortion. So women should be very concerned about whether or not mitt Romney would be supportive of their health. He's clearly, consistently, not been. He's embraced extremism when it comes to women's health, and the Richard Mourdock endorsement and ad is the latest example.

O'BRIEN: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz joining us this morning. Thank you for your time.

SCHULTZ: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, he claims his former employer fed on the fear of clients, called Muppets. Coming up next, he will join us to explain the letter and talk about his critics too.

Christine, what's happening in business?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Bank of America being accused of, quote, brazen fraud. Details on this big new lawsuit. You're watching STARTING POINT point.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. He quit his job in quite a spectacular fashion. It was an op-ed in the "New York Times," blasting his employer, Goldman Sachs, accusing the company of being corrupt and toxic. Greg smith raised a lot of eyebrows with that move, including Goldman Sachs, who after several months finally commented. Here's CEO and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LLOYD BLANKFEIN, CEO, GOLDMAN SACHS: We went and we investigated and we turned over everything. And you know something, at the end of the day, with all the stress, and I wouldn't want to go through that again, I'll tell you, we're probably going to be a better firm for it anyway, because we really, really, really did look at everything again. But as far as the book itself, I think the consensus of those who review the book is there really was nothing there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Greg Smith's book is called "Why I left Goldman Sachs -- A wall Street Story," and he's with us this morning. Nice to have you with us.

GREG SMITH, AUTHOR, "WHY I LEFT GOLDMAN SACH": Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: Why did you leave like that? People quit their jobs all the time and they don't write an op-ed in "The New York Times," that's pretty scathing. Why that?

SMITH: I was at the firm for 12 years, I was at the forefront for recruiting for the firm, I flied out to Stanford twice a year, recruit kids, even appeared on a recruiting video. But I actually saw things that were wrong and wanted the firm to introspect. And as you know, the firm did a year-long study on conflicts of interest, yet I saw that to be pure lip service. And over a one-year period I spoke to nine different Goldman Sachs partners about issues of ethics and culture.

O'BRIEN: What did you say to them? Because a lot of people have pushed back and said, if you have a complaint, go to your bosses. If you really love the company and hate what's happening, why not speak to your bosses? What did you say?

SMITH: Let me give you an example. Goldman Sachs asked me to go to Europe to start a new U.S. derivatives business. I would fly from Georgia to France to Switzerland to Italy, and over and over again I would hear from clients saying, we don't trust Goldman Sachs. I would go back to London headquarters and say, look, we are in the business of servicing clients.

O'BRIEN: Making money.

SMITH: Absolutely. But at Goldman Sachs, there's a term called an elephant trade, which is when you make $1 million or more on one single piece of business, in one hit. The mentality is certainly about eat what you kill, getting big business. And the biggest big business comes from unsophisticated investors, which is often philanthropy, a charity, a university endowment. And if banks were forced to make their earnings transparent and show who they made money to and how they made it, people would be outraged.

O'BRIEN: Isn't there an argument, the clients were outraged because they weren't making money. Goldman clients seem pretty happy. Some of them seem like they don't even mind being called Muppets, as long as they're making money. SMITH: I'll say two things. One thing about the Muppet criticism, and Goldman went on a hunt to find the word "Muppet," what I think people miss, that the idea of calling someone a name is not the bad thing. The reason you're calling them a name is because you manipulated them or tricked a retirement fund into paying the firm an extra $2 million because they didn't understand a product.

Now, the question of trust in the firm. I tell a story in the book where after the SEC charges I flew to Asia to meet with one of the firm's biggest sovereign wealth funds, and myself and a Goldman partner sat in the room with a multi-million dollar fund, and the guy looked me in the eye and said, let me be honest, I don't trust Goldman Sachs. We do business with you because we have to.

The Goldman Sachs' partner reaction is, this is great news. The client is not going to pull their business. We're going to keep doing business with them. And my thought is, if you want an organization to last another 140 years and you have this short run mentality, why should you accept that clients don't trust you?

O'BRIEN: Goldman Sachs has portrayed you as a disgruntled employee who didn't get the bonus that you wanted, which was $1 million, and the year before you had gotten $500,000, which for regular folks, is insane numbers you're talking about. They say you're disgruntled. And you told Anderson you would have done the same exact same thing if you had gotten the bonus and if you had gotten the promotion to managing director. I have to say, I don't believe you. If you had gotten the bonus, you would go home and count your money and suck it for another year, at least. Isn't it that you're just disgruntled?

SMITH: Absolutely not. Let me tell you a few things. I started with 75 people at Goldman Sachs in my summer internship. By the time I left there were only seven left. Goldman asked me to move to Europe to start a new business.

And the thing I'm disappointed with in your coverage and the media's coverage of this is you are buying into a character assassination without actually asking Goldman the hard questions. Why when Goldman released a nine-page document, why don't you ask them to release all my reviews, my entire career and read them on air? Why didn't you ask Goldman to release all the e-mails that were sent in the year before I left that said what a terrific job I was doing?

So this idea of trying to smear me in a sense avoids the real issue. Are you ripping of teachers' pension funds? Are you still clients products they don't understand, and are you still betting against clients? What I would tell your viewers, and I don't think people know this, is that four years after the crisis and two years after supposedly landmark financial crime, Wall Street has spent $3 billion lobbying against Dodd/Frank and less than one third of the bill has been implements and three quarters of the deadlines have been miss.

And there's a huge revolving door problem between Washington and Wall Street. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner's aide work for Goldman Sachs. JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs give more money to politicians than anyone else. Are we beginning to have any political will to fix this problem? Right now, to be honest, the problems that led to the crisis are not fixed.

O'BRIEN: What are you going to do? I'm going to assume that you're to the going to be working in investment banking anymore?

SMITH: The one thing that Wall Street forgets sometimes, it gets stuck in its own bubble. It forgets what it really is. What Wall Street is, it's being trusted with the savings of America. The hedge funds are for supposedly rich people account for less than five percent of the market. The real big players are investors that represent citizens' interests, like pension funds and mutual funds that hold 401(k)s. I got thousands of messages after the op-ed from people who actually want a greater fiduciary standard on Wall Street. But I actually think there's a value for people within the industry trying to reform it for the better. Now, I'm not anti-Wall Street. I just think Wall Street --

O'BRIEN: What does that mean in terms of, the job you take next is?

SMITH: The job I take next is I want to advocate loudly for financial reform. I think we're at a pivotal moment. What's happened is, you've had the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and you've taken a Band-Aid and put it on a leaking dam. I think there's a place for people within the industry to suggest smart things, make it more transparent, earn money a little bit more slowly, but keep your clients' trust so they also make money and the industry will be more sustainable.

O'BRIEN: The book is called, "Why I left Goldman Sachs." Greg Smith, nice to have you with us this morning.

SMITH: Thank you.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Morning. Welcome to STARTING POINT. New details this morning about a suspect who's now in custody in Tunisia in connection with the September 11th attack on America's Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

CNN intelligence correspondent Suzanne Kelly has more details for us. Good morning. What are we learning?

SUZANNE KELLY, CNN INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Well, we know that this is a person who they believe was involved in the attack, who left Libya, went to Turkey, and then was detained by Turkish officials and transferred to Tunisia.

And the U.S. is now sort of negotiating, going through the process of negotiating, getting access to this person. Obviously they want to pinpoint as many of those attackers as they can.

O'BRIEN: How did they track this individual? Especially since we know, from statements from the White House, and the confusion we've all talked about over the last weeks now, how were they able to zero in on this particular suspect?

KELLY: I don't know, exactly, is the fair answer. But I will tell you that this person was apparently posting details about the attack as it was happening on social web sites.

So if you think about now how much intelligence information is actually gathered from open sources, from the media, from CNN, Facebook, Twitter, that kind of thing, there's a lot of stuff out there.

And to think of the audacity, though, someone, as an attack is going, put details about it on their social web site, you've got to wonder if they're thinking about getting caught eventually.

O'BRIEN: I wonder. That's really interesting. Suzanne Kelly, it's nice to have you with us. We appreciate it this morning.

Let's get right to John Berman. He's got a look at some of the other stories this morning. What's going on?

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. All eyes on Hurricane Sandy, it's now starting to move into the Florida Straits. It slammed into Cuba as a strong Category 2 storm earlier this morning. Two deaths now being reported on, blamed on Sandy, one in Jamaica, another in Haiti.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano is tracking the storm. Rob, a powerful Category 2 storm perhaps headed our way.

MARCIANO: That's true. A 105 mile an hour winds now moving to the north at 18 miles an hour. That motion expected to slow down here in the next couple of days, re-emerging now over the Atlantic Ocean. It will impact the Bahamas. Hurricane warnings out there.

Tropical storm warnings out for much of the east coast of Florida. Already seeing some of the rain bands getting into Miami, into the Keys, we've seen winds gust in the Keys, already over 40 miles an hour.

Stateside, big cold air coming down and this is actually going to affect the path of Hurricane Sandy as it moves up the east coast. Here's the forecast track. It will be offshore Florida, but close enough to get winds, rain and rain for the next two days.

And then getting up towards the north east, does it go east or does it go west? That's the big question, at this point, a little bit more than half of our models take it towards the northeast, in some way, shape, or form Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week -- John.

BERMAN: All right, thanks Rob Marciano. We will be watching that needless to say.

If Senate candidate Richard Mourdock wants John McCain's support, he's going to have to say he's sorry. The Indiana Republican is under fire for saying pregnancies caused by rape are intended by God.

Senator McCain telling CNN's Anderson Cooper there is a way out for the embattled Mourdock.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think it depends on what he does. If he apologizes and says he misspoke and he was wrong and he asks the people to forgive for him, then obviously I would be the first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Mitt Romney is appearing in a TV ad endorsing Mourdock. The GOP nominee says he does not agree with Mourdock's comment, but has not asked for the ad to be pulled.

One other bits of political news just in moments ago, Colin Powell says he is voting again for Barack Obama. He says he will vote for Obama and Biden endorsing Obama again a few minutes ago in an interview on another network.

It's 34 minutes after the hour. Police in Colorado have arrested a 17-year-old man in the murder of Jessica Ridgeway. Formal charges are expected to be filed against Austin Reed Sigg early next week.

The 10-year-old Jessica vanished on her way to school earlier this month. Her body was discovered about a week later. Police arrested Sigg following a tip. He is expected to be tried as an adult.

In your "A.M. House" call this morning, a man whose wife died in a fungal meningitis outbreak has now been hospitalized for the same illness. Now it is not contagious, but George Carry received the same tainted steroid injections as his wife.

Initial test showed he was not infected, but he got sick this past weekend. The meningitis outbreak has now sickened more than 300 people, 24 people have died.

Oregon researchers have successfully made embryos containing genes from one man and two women. The procedure could someday be used to keep babies from inheriting rare, certain incurable diseases.

But it's not clear when or even if the controversial technique will be put to use. It is already stirred up an ethical debate as you can imagine.

And if you're begging for a hacking internet security, if you're begging to be hacked, a security firm "Splash Data" has just released its annual list of the worst passwords, the one most commonly stolen and posted by hackers.

Number one on this list, "password." Number two is "123456." number three, the creative "12345678," and number four, "abc123." Number 5 is "Querty." The advice here is don't use the kind of password an idiot would have on his luggage. Cue, "Spaceball."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did it work? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It worked, sir. We have the combination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the combination?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 12345.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's amazing. I have the same combination on my luggage!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: See, it's a bad idea.

O'BRIEN: I can't believe people do that all the time.

BERMAN: Apparently, I'm like, 12345, and the next one is 1235678.

O'BRIEN: Password is no one's changed it, right. That's usually the one they set up for you as password and then you're supposed to go in and change it.

BERMAN: I think some people actually keep the password password.

O'BRIEN: That's just sad. I mean, my passwords are really obviously, but I'm not going to tell you. But they are not password or 123456.

All right, coming up next, Virginia is a critical swing state. The latest there poll shows you it's a statistical dead heat. A man who knows that state very well, former Republican Congressman Tom Davis will join us to talk about the strategy for Republicans there. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Our team this morning, Ryan Lizza is with us, Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker." Susie Welsh is back, a former Reuters columnist, but bestselling author. We had you on to talk about your book not long ago. Great to have you with us. Richard Socarides is a writer for thenewyorker.com. Are you still with "The New Yorker?"

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: Yes.

BERMAN: And John Berman is with us.

SOCARIDES: What are you doing these days?

O'BRIEN: I do it all, baby. A big change to CNN's electoral map, a key swing state is no longer a toss-up, that updated just last night with the move North Carolina from anyone's game to lean Romney.

That means there are just eight states where the race is still being fought and that would include the state of Virginia, where a poll from ARG has it a statistical dead heat.

Both President Obama and Paul Ryan will be holding rallies there in Virginia. No surprise there. Our next guest knows that state very well.

Tom Davis is the former Republican congressman from Virginia, ran the Republican Campaign Committee as well. Nice to have you not with us in person, which we always love, sir, but nice to have you with us this morning.

Here's what I want to know. If you look at how well the state of Virginia is doing. I think what is your employment rate? It's below 8 percent. Economy is what everybody's talking about. Why is President Obama not doing as well in Virginia?

TOM DAVIS (R), FORMER VIRGINIA CONGRESSMAN: Well, the economy is really good in Northern Virginia, where you have a lot of federal spending, but you go down to Martinsville, Southwest Virginia, unemployment is still pretty high.

So this is a really bifurcated state. Northern Virginia, the President carried by 223,000 votes last time. That's really been his base. He's having troubles in other parts of the state.

The President did better in Virginia last time, statistically in Florida or Ohio. But this time the student vote is clearly not going to be elevated as it was before.

And in Northern Virginia, which has been the Democratic stronghold, I think has got a lot of wealthy people in Northern Virginia. I think the tax issues, the over sequestering, those kinds of thing, have hurt the President a little bit. So we're in a close race here.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about Richard Mourdock. We were just chatting about the rape statements and what people are making of them. He hasn't apologized, but he's done a clarification of what he meant. Let's play a little bit of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD MOURDOCK (R), SENATE CANDIDATE, INDIANA: I made a comment that I made, quite honestly, from the deepest roots and the greatest base of my faith, which is to say that I believe life is precious. I believe that to the marrow of my bones.

I believe that life itself is the greatest gift that God can give us. If, because of the lack of clarity in my words, that they came away with an impression other than those that I stated a moment ago, that life is presence.

And that I abhor violence and I'm confident that God abhors violence and rape, if they came away with any impression other than that, I truly regret it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: What do you think the impact, sir, is going to be on the race, with comments like that?

DAVIS: Well, you hate to be on defense the last two weeks. I think what he's saying that we're all God's creations, but mixing that up with rape. This is not a time in the campaign to stumble. This was already a close race. So he's on defense. He needs to -- I think, apologize and move forward. He's got two weeks left.

O'BRIEN: We have seen John McCain say, until he apologizes, that he would not support this, John Berman. We've also seen Governor Romney, who cut a spot for Mr. Mourdock. Basically, kind of, sort of, back off, like, I still support you, was I don't support that kind of --

BERMAN: He clearly doesn't support the comments, but he doesn't want the ad pulled.

O'BRIEN: Which is I don't support you, but I support you kind of move.

DAVIS: And he did not ask for Mr. Mourdock to apologize. He did not call for an apology. I think, you know, this race is so close and the race for the Senate as a whole is so close that this is a very important race for Democrats.

O'BRIEN: What should he be apologizing for?

DAVIS: It's important for both parties? That's the problem right now. You've got Missouri, where you had a candidate who really hurt himself with these comments, now in Indiana stumbling.

You want to put this behind you and make the issue about control of the Senate and the agenda for the next four years and not be on the defense on this.

So I know he tried to walk it back. I think, basically, what he's saying is we're all God's creation, but it didn't really come off that way, the way the press has portrayed it and he needs to get it behind him and move on.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Tom Davis, it's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us this morning.

DAVIS: Thanks.

O'BRIEN: We have to take a short break. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans.

Minding your business, a huge Justice Department lawsuit against Bank of America over mortgage fraud accusations. The government wants $1 billion from the bank, saying it had a prom called the "Hustle" that rushed through bad loans, which were ultimately sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Bank of America just provided us this statement. Quote, "The claim that we have failed to repurchase loans from Fannie Mae is simply false." At some point, Bank of America can't be expected to compensate every entity that claims losses that were actually caused by the economic downturn.

U.S. stock futures are up after markets closed slightly lower yesterday. Apple earnings, those are due out after the closing bell this afternoon. Next hour, we're going to find out how many unemployment claims were filed for the very first time last week.

And those have been so volatile, those jobless claims, Soledad, and we're getting so close to the election, we'll be digging do them again this week.

O'BRIEN: Yes, we definitely should, really interesting to watch.

SOCARIDES: There's a song, "Do the Hustle," right?

O'BRIEN: Isn't it officially called "The Hustle?"

ROMANS: They called it "The Hustle" internally, yes --

O'BRIEN: You know what? Anything called internally the hustle is bad.

Still ahead this morning, she grew up on TV with "Clarissa Explains It All," and then "Sabrina the Teenage Witch." But now Melissa Joan Hart has another hit on her hand. She is going to talk about the new season of "Melissa and Joey." She is with us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Melissa Joan Hart known for her work on the TV series that you're looking at "Clarissa Explains It All." "Sabrina The Teenage Witch" as well, now new series on NBC family "Melissa and Joey" where her character hires a male nanny or nanny to take care of the niece and nephew she is now tasked with raising. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was you. You talked her into going down there. How did you talk her into going down there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People like me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I paid her 50 bucks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A bribe? That's terrible. Not only is that wrong, that's horrible parenting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm not a parent and neither are you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I have 50 bucks?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: With us this morning, Melissa Joan Hart, nice to have you. When you were watching the early clips, this is Melissa Joan Hart, she goes like this.

MELISSA JOAN HART, ACTRESS, "MELISSA & JOEY": That's 20 years ago, the Clarissa footage. I was like 16, long time ago.

O'BRIEN: Yes, really long time ago. You grew up in the same town almost that I grew up in.

HART: Yes, Long Island.

O'BRIEN: Tell me a little bit about what it was like to be 16 years old and starring on a TV show.

HART: Well, I had been acting since I was 4 years old. It wasn't -- I was used to sort of the schedule of it a little bit. With Clarissa from the ages of 13 to 17, I was working in Orlando.

So I was kind of balancing high school and the show and going -- and my family. My family is in New York. I'm going down to Orlando all the time. It's kind of similar to what I'm doing now where my family is in Connecticut and I'm working in L.A.

O'BRIEN: Three kids, just had a brand new baby.

HART: My third baby boy, my three sons, yes.

O'BRIEN: You're the executive producer of your new show, right?

HART: I was of Sabrina and also of "Melissa and Joey."

O'BRIEN: Does it help with the management of your life?

HART: In certain ways. There are benefits to being the lead of a show as an actress, but also especially being producer. Because you get to do things like work with really great talent and bring them on the show and say I want -- I just worked with Lucy Devito, three 3 1/2 years ago. I wanted her on "Melissa and Joey." She's hilarious, fantastic.

O'BRIEN: It's a power grab.

HART: Yes. You get to have some fun. You get to have some creative control. So I really enjoy that.

SOCARIDES: You get to decide the hours, too, right?

HART: A little bit. Usually we work Friday nights on a live show. We're trying to push it to Thursday. So Friday will be like a two- hour day and I can take off for the weekend to get home and see my family more.

O'BRIEN: You have been focused on access to health care for women around birth really.

HART: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Tell me a little about why. You got three healthy kids, thank God.

HART: I do. I'm very blessed. I had a very healthy pregnancy and shared my story on -- I partner with Merck for their Once Upon a Birth campaign.

Go for Merck for mothers Facebook page, you can see my story. I've shared my birth story. And if you go for every story shared they will make a donation to join my village, which is an empowerment program for women around the world because 800 women die every day in childbirth.

O'BRIEN: So, you're paid by Merck to do this. I have to imagine there are a million people who would love to stand up and talk about their project. Why pick this particular one?

HART: Anything relating to mothers and babies is just where my heart is. Especially just giving birth to my third child and being so blessed to have these healthy, beautiful children and know that doesn't always happen.

I've seen it even in my town in Connecticut, I have a friend who is pregnant right now who is at risk of hemorrhaging but she has great prenatal care and the rest of the world does not necessarily. And even in the U.S. they don't.

O'BRIEN: It is amazing. We talked about this earlier in the week, the number of women who die.

HART: It's 800 a day.

BERMAN: It's become a political issue now. You hear candidates occasionally talking about this. What do you make of that?

HART: Ninety percent of these cases are preventable. You get them the right prenatal care, you know, teach people in the village to take care of themselves, train midwives, teach the husbands. These are preventable. Most of it is hemorrhaging and preeclampsia.

O'BRIEN: Preventable is the key word. Melissa Joan Hart, it's so nice to have you with us this morning. It's great to see your reaction to watching yourself from 20 years ago. We got to take a short break. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)