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Nor'easter Threatens U.S. East Coast; Jared Lee Loughner to Face Sentencing; Fiscal Cliff Looms for U.S. Economy; Sandy Tree Scandal; Sheriff Joe Arpaio Re-Elected; Massachusetts' Pharmacy Board Chief Fired; Study: Statins Can Lower Cancer Risks; Weiner Returns To Twitter; Fed Up With The Washington Gridlock; What's Next For The GOP?; Anti-Obama Protest At Ole Miss; Fighting For Equality On And Off The Court

Aired November 8, 2012 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, powerless in the cold. A nor'easter pummels the northeast communities already struggling to recover from superstorm Sandy. Now, more power outages and freezing temperatures and inches of snow to add to the misery. We've got live team coverage for you this morning.

Plus, President Obama back to work this morning after winning re- election, but with looming tax cuts and a divided Congress, can he avert disaster?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Dow Jones has its worst day of the year. I'll look at what was hit hardest and which stocks came out on top. Plus, are we in for another slide today?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And she's facing her shooter in court. Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords set to appear at the sentencing of Jared Loughner, and her husband will have something to say in court.

O'BRIEN: Lots of folks to talk to this morning. We're going to be chatting with Republican senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison from Texas, Ohio congressman, Steve LaTourette. He's from Ohio. San Antonio mayor, Julian Castro, is going to be with us. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will join us. Comedian David Allan Grier -- I'm struggling to speak today -- is with us as well.

It is Thursday, November 8th, and "Starting Point" begins right now.

Morning, welcome, everybody. Let's start with that powerful nor'easter that's coming on the heels of an epic hurricane. It's bringing the northeast once again to its knees. Thousands of super- storm Sandy victims in New York and in New Jersey enduring damaging winds and driving snow and bitter cold temperatures, all in the dark. As of 3:00 this morning, there are close to 700,000 customers in New York and New Jersey, who don't have power. That number has been rising. More than 1,500 flights have already been canceled, and just when service on the long island rail road was returning to normal, it was again suspended last night. Team coverage of this early winter storm, Susan Candiotti is with us live from Asbury Park in New Jersey. Rob Marciano is live in Staten Island, where they are reeling from last week's hurricane. So much damage there, Rob. Good morning.

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Soledad. Boy, they didn't need this. And we didn't actually expect to be this much snow. We knew there would be some snow, but not to the point where it was piling up. So this is an area where during the height of Sandy, the storm surge was up and over my shoulders. So most of these homes, at least their first floor has been wiped out. In some cases, like this house right here, the home actually pushed off its foundation.

We've got that. We've got a dumpster here to clean up some of the debris from the storm and obviously the snow that came through last night. We've been talking to people who live here the past few days. Here's what they said they've been going through emotionally and physically.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went through the most pain that I ever went through in my whole life, from being electrocuted trying to get back into my house to watching all my possessions and my family practically almost dying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This has been a week from hell. I mean, you know, I'm grateful that I have my family.


MARCIANO: Just trying to survive. You know, they do have a generator, but still long lines at the gas pump. So just to get fuel for the generator, they don't have it on right now, just trying to stay warm and survive.

Thankfully, the snow is over here and will be melting today. Slightly above freezing, but it will happen. New York, by the way, set a record for 4 inches of snow. The earliest they've done that since they've been keeping records. The snow band now, and the wind gusts, by the way, gusting to over 70 miles an hour in some spots yesterday. So that's why we have additional power outages. Our weather map shows you that.

Here's the radar. The snow, eastern long island, Connecticut, Cape Cod. That's where the brunt of it will be the next several hours. Then the storm moves out to sea finally. To have this, soledad, just nine days after Sandy came through, you never would think it, and these people certainly beat down physically and emotionally.

O'BRIEN: It is so unfair. It is so awful for them. Our hearts just break for them. Rob Marciano for us this morning. Thank you, rob, appreciate that.

Let's get you to New Jersey now, where hundreds of communities along the shore are also still reeling from hurricane Sandy. Governor Chris Christie says this latest nor'easter could actually send his state's recovery moving backwards. Let's move right to Susan Candiotti, in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Let's talk a little bit about the crews that are working to restore the power that was lost from Sandy.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. There was a mandatory evacuation for some of the coastal areas here. It turns out, we don't know how many people have lost power overnight because of that blinding snow that was blowing across the street. This is what people woke up to. We know that at least 40,000 customers lost power. Look at the mess that they are waking up to this morning. The 40,000, those are just the people that we know about. The numbers are still coming in, new people who lost power, as a result of this nor'easter.

Looking down the street here, this is how high the winds were, blew down this fence. Up and down here, that'll have to be picked up. A lot of utility crews are going back out at work today. We were talking to workers who were stationed here last night. Yesterday was blown away by the end of the day because of this nor'easter, because it started to come in as early as it did.

Now it's time for people to pick up the pieces, figure out where they stand. Will the streets be passable? They're a mess right now. Will gas supplies be able to get to the gas stations that had power, or will more stations now be out of commission because of what happened? People have a lot to deal with here. Back to you.

O'BRIEN: They sure do. They've had a lot to deal with and now they have more to deal with this morning. Susan Candiotti, thanks, Susan, we appreciate it. We're keeping an eye on all the developments in this new storm. We'll bring you updates throughout the show, obviously.

Let's turn to politics now. And there is no rest after the big race. President Barack Obama is back at work, trying to steer the country away from that so-called fiscal cliff. It's set to begin taking effect in January. It includes $7 trillion in tax increases and spending cuts over 10 years. Congressional leaders have been hinting at a compromise. Listen.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: There's an alternative to going over the fiscal cliff. By working together and creating a fairer, simpler, cleaner tax code, we can give our country a stronger, healthier economy. A stronger economy means more revenue, which is what the president seeks.

HARRY REID, (D-NV) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: This isn't something that I'm going to draw the lines in the sand, he's not going to draw any lines in the sand, I don't believe, and I think we need to work together.


O'BRIEN: The president will also have to contend with a major staff shake-up. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner have both said they're ready to move on, and there are also indications that Mary Schapiro will follow suit as well. Dan Lothian is following all these developments. Good morning, Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. That's the game, I guess, that's played every time you have transition, every four years or so, inside Washington. You start talking about what names will be replacing those who will be leaving. Nothing official from the White House on this kind of movement, but one of the names that's been thrown around, Senator John Kerry, who helped the president prepare for the debates, has been talked about possibly going to state. There are other names being thrown around as well, and I'm sure those lists will continue to grow in the coming days.

As for the president, nothing public on his schedule today, other than the presidential daily briefing, that will happen later this morning, the first one that will happen here at the White House, since his re- election. The president and the first family returned here to the White House late yesterday. The staff was planning to have a welcome out on the south lawn, but because of bad weather, Marine One could not land here, so it was a low-key arrival.

What's on the president's agenda, moving forward, you've been talking about dealing with the fiscal cliff, also the president has to work on trying to unite the country after a very divisive and very expensive campaign. In addition, the president will work very hard to try to build a different relationship with members of congress. We saw him already reach out by phone to John Boehner, to Mitch McConnell, also to leadership in the Democratic Party. So we'll see if this promise of bipartisanship will last beyond just a couple of days.

Dan Lothian for us this morning, thank you, Dan. Let's get right to John Berman with a lack at some of the other stories making news today. Good morning.

BERMAN: Good morning, Soledad. CNN is projecting that Ann Kirkpatrick will return to congress. She barely beat Republican challenger, Jonathan Payton. Yet several house races are still up for grabs across the country this morning. In Palm Springs, California, Republican Mary Bono Mack, she's not giving up. She trailed democrat Raul Luis with all precincts reporting, but she says a large number of ballots have yet to be reported. Mack's husband, Connie Mack, lost his bid in Florida to Bill nelson.

In another tight race, Tea Party Republican Allen West is not conceding defeat on Florida's coast. He's demanding a partial recount in his re-election bid against Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy. Right now Murphy has a very slim lead of less than 2,500 votes, but that's slightly more than what's need to trigger an automatic recount.

The man behind that anti-Muslim movie that caused so much rage overseas has been sentenced to a year in federal prison. Mark Youssif admitted head used an alias without permission. He allegedly made a different name when he made the film. That violated the terms of his probation in a bank fraud case from two years ago. Former Arizona representative Gabby Giffords and her husband astronaut Mark Kelly will be inside a Tucson courtroom today when the man who shot Giffords is given his sentence. Mark Kelly, he is expected to read a statement in court about the impact of the shooting. Jared lee Loughner murdered six people during a shooting rampage at a Tucson shopping center in January of 2011. Giffords and 12 others were@ wounded in that attack. Loughner will most likely be sentenced to life inside a federal prison. That must be an emotional scene there.-

O'BRIEN: That's got to be terrible. John, thank you.

Let's get right to Christine for a look at the big story, the markets.

ROMANS: The Dow had its worst day of the year yesterday, down about 300 points, down 2.3 percent. When you look at the internals of the market, you can see a reaction of investors to the re-election of Barack Obama. Bank stocks fell sharply. Of course he has championed more regulations of the banks. The certainty of Obamacare hit insurers, and coal stocks, for-profit education companies, dividend- paying stocks have all fell too. The president proposed higher taxes on some investments and that why the dividend payers went down.

One sector that was up, hospitals. Obamacare is seen safe now, after the Supreme Court ruling, after now the president won the election. And don't blame the election, though, for all of this action on the market yesterday. Also flaring yesterday, Europe's debt crisis, and big concerns about Germany. There are also now 54 days to fix the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling is again fast approaching. So all of these things together, taking the markets down yesterday.

Stock futures, though, you guys, were up a bit this morning. So at least right now -- it means with two-and-a-half hours to go to the opening bell, you don't see like a frenzy of selling continuing on from yesterday. You see investors saying, hmm, maybe that was enough selling for now.

O'BRIEN: All right, Christine, thank you.

Still ahead this morning on "starting point," Republicans still control the house, but their candidate blocks the White House with changing demographics and issues, does the party need to change as well? We'll take a closer look with Texas GOP senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, that's coming up next.

Christine talked about markets. What else is happening in business this morning?

ROMANS: It's all about the fiscal cliff and the threat of your taxes going up at the beginning of the year. But the cliff fast approaching, it's not clear really what the Congress and the president plan to do about it. Why you should be worried, though. That's ahead. STARTING POINT is back after this.


O'BRIEN: Morning, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. The GOP is taking a long look in the mirror after Mitt Romney lost the election to President Barack Obama in just about every toss-up state in the process. Not only that, but a whole series of ballot initiatives went against the party on everything from same-sex marriage to marijuana.

We welcome Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison this morning. She's a Republican who's retiring her Senate seat on January 3rd, after a long political clear that began in 1993 in the Senate, at least. So I guess congratulations on that. At the end of this election, does it feel like a relief? Does it feel like a bittersweet? How do you feel about it?

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, (R) TEXAS: Well, of course, there are wonderful things about public service. And you'll miss part of it, but I'm so ready. And I think it's good for the process to have term limits and people serving and then going back and living with the laws that were made and knowing the experience that people are having in the real world is very important. So I am excited about going home, excited about a new career. And I'm ready.

O'BRIEN: You're going to stick with us all morning. So we'll talk about all of that stuff a little bit later.

Let's talk about Tuesday night's victory for the Dems, loss for the GOP. If you look more closely at the women's vote, we know that in exit polling, president Obama won the women's vote, 55 percent to Governor Romney's 44 percent. And if you look at unmarried women, an even bigger gap there. Obama won 67 percent to Romney's 31 percent. What does that tell you that the GOP needs to do? What's the analysis?

HUTCHISON: We definitely have to address this issue. When we talk about the women's issues and the social issues, people have to stop trying to act like the woman is a throwaway here. I mean, we've got to talk to women about the issues they care about. Now, on economics and the job creation and the fiscal cliff, I think Republicans are ahead.

O'BRIEN: What was the conversation that was not working for Republicans?

HUTCHISON: Well, I think we had Republican candidates who got very high profile and said some very stupid things.

O'BRIEN: Akin, Mourdock.

HUTCHISON: And I think that really tainted the party. Even though Mitt Romney tame right out and said, this is not right, we disagree with this, the party leadership did the same thing, no one embraced Todd Akin after he said those things, and including the Republican campaign committees. But, yet, it was used in the political sense against us, and it was -- I think the feeling that Republicans don't get it. Because --

O'BRIEN: Well, the contraception debate, I think, maybe died to crazy comments, if you will, by Mourdock and by akin and others. HUTCHISON: You know, I just think people have personal beliefs, and what we need to do is fashion a party around the economics and the long-term viability of the economy of our country. And I think when people start trying to go into such personal issues and then try to form a party around it, it's very difficult.

And I think the tea party, for instance, started by focusing on the debt and the deficit and the fiscal cliff. And then, I think, it got all mired in other issues, the myriad of issues, that sort of muddled the message that we've got to do something about the economy. We cannot sit here with a $16 trillion debt, with trillion-dollar deficits, every single year, and think we're going to get out of the mess.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the fiscal cliff, and we'll talk about it all morning, unfortunately, and probably for the next -- what is it, 50-something days? We'll be talk about the fiscal cliff.


O'BRIEN: So do you feel that there is a mood now? That the makeup of the house and the Senate are essentially the same as they were before the election? Can you have a compromise?


O'BRIEN: There was a gap before you said yes. That scares me.

HUTCHISON: It's still hard, because we do have such a different -- we have the same goal, but we have such different ways of believing that we can solve this problem. And it's sincere. It is really sincere on the part of Republicans who don't believe tax increases are the right thing in this kind of economic dismal environment. And then there are Democrats who say you've got to raise taxes or we're not going to ever be able to close the gap. You can't close the gap with taxes. You have to close the gap with spending reform, tax reform. You have to look at the whole system. We cannot keep spending like there was no tomorrow.

O'BRIEN: We're going to keep talking about this throughout the morning. And Christine is knee deep in fiscal cliff, so she'll be sticking around as well and John too. Thank you for talking with us. We love having you this morning.

We'll take a short back, and we are back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody, you're watching STARTING POINT. Along with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison from Texas, who's sticking around this morning, we also have Richard Socarides from, and also a former adviser to president Clinton.

BERMAN: Did you write that convention speech?

RICHARD SOCARIDES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I did and I'm not getting enough credit.


O'BRIEN: Ryan Lizza is with us as well, he's a Washington correspondent for the New Yorker. A little warning, I'm having trouble speaking today. It must be all the lack of sleep, but I'll plow through anyway.

Election is over, yay, it's over. Now everybody in Washington, D.C., has moved into another dramatic thing, which is the fiscal cliff that we've been talking about. It's massive spending cuts and tax increases that take effect on January 1st, unless Congress takes some action to avoid it.

Christine, Senator Boehner (ph) wasting no time to begin. Really, I think they called the press conference yesterday, at 3:30, had a press conference so got right into it.

ROMANS: By 5:00 in the morning yesterday, the day after the election, immediately everybody was saying first order of business is the fiscal cliff. The same cast of characters, basically, in Washington, but the scenery has changed, the set has changed, and now they've got 54 days to fix this this. This is what the speaker said yesterday about the fiscal cliff and where they're willing to go.


BOEHNER: A stronger economy means more revenue, which is what the president seeks. Because the American people expect us to find common ground, we're waiting to accept some additional revenues via tax reform.


ROMANS: Some additional revenues via tax reform. All right, that's not saying he'll take higher tax rates on the rich, which is what the White House wants. But he is opening the door a little, tiny bit to higher revenues. And then he said this.


BOEHNER: But the American people also expect us to solve the problem. And for that reason, in order to garner Republican support for new revenues, the president must be willing to reduce spending and shore up entitlement programs that are the primary drivers of our debt.


ROMANS: Translation, we're not giving you anything without you giving us what we want too. So we're starting here on the path of fixing this. And Harry Reid, on the Democratic side, he said, it's more fun to dance than to fight. I love that, because, boy, I really wish they had been talking about that the last four years, but they've been fighting a lot and now they're starting to talk about dancing again.

O'BRIEN: Is what Boehner talking about a workable model, because it sounds so moderate? Give a little to this side, give a little to that side. I'm asking the senator first and then I'll ask you.

HUTCHISON: Yes, it is a workable model and we have a workable model. You have Simpson-Bowles and you've got the gang of six. Mark warner and Saxby Chambliss put together a group along with Tom Coburn and Pat Toomey that was a way forward. And it had the support of more than 50 percent of the Senate.

O'BRIEN: And it crashed and burned.

HUTCHISON: It never got to the floor. So, yes, there are workable models. The hedge is going to be, if we can have revenue with tax reform that doesn't kill growth.

O'BRIEN: So, Ryan?

RYAN LIZZA, "NEW YORKER": I wasn't shaking my head in disagreement -- I was saying, what Boehner said, that's not that bad, as a starting negotiating position, right? Your first statement out of the gate isn't going to be, you know, where you end up. Everyone starts the process by laying out their demands. And nothing he said would be shocking to the White House. I mean, I think he's -- there's a bit of an olive branch there. And if you read any of the accounts of the agreements how Obama and Boehner in 2011, that is exactly the crux of a deal.

O'BRIEN: So maybe there's a little hope to talk about this morning, as opposed to doom and gloom, which Christine was spreading for us yesterday.

ROMANS: I'm the doom and gloom kind of person.

O'BRIEN: Let's take a commercial break. The good news is we have a whole 90 minutes to continue to talk about the fiscal cliff -- well, just for today, 90 minutes.

Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, it's a state that put the president over the top, into the White House. We'll talk Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette, and whether the Congress can get over the partisan bickering to keep taxes from going up and big military cut spending at top of the year.

And he's back, Anthony Weiner, he's on twitter again. Really? Really? We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Let's get right to John Berman for a look at the day's top stories. Good morning.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. Mother Nature is delivering another devastating blow to the northeast overnight, a powerful nor'easter leaving well over 600,000 customers without power this morning.

Many of them force to face damaging winds, bitter cold temperatures, driving snow, and two to four-foot storm surges in the dark, over 1,500 flights have been canceled. Service on the Long Island railroads suspended again last night.

Here's the outrage story of the morning. New York's emergency management chief fired by the governor for allegedly sending workers to his own home on Long Island to clear a fallen tree.

The controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, has been elected to another term, 80-year-old Joe Arpaio, he's 80 --

O'BRIEN: Wow, I didn't realize he's 80.

BERMAN: -- and he's known for his tough stance on undocumented immigrants. Both the ACLU and U.S. Justice Department have filed lawsuits against Arpaio, accusing him of civil rights violations and racial discrimination against Latinos.

Very interesting decision out of Puerto Rico has been overshadowed a bit by the presidential election, 61 percent of the voters in the U.S. territory voted in favor of statehood. The vote is nonbinding and would require action from Congress, but this marks the first time ever that Puerto Ricans have voted in favor of that status change.

The director of Massachusetts Pharmacy Board has been fired and the board's attorney is on administrative leave. This is in connection with the deadly meningitis outbreak. Massachusetts officials say they ignored a jury complaint that NECC was sending bulk shipments of drugs to Colorado, which reportedly violates NECC's Colorado and Massachusetts licenses.

Other medical news, if you're taking statins to keep your cholesterol down --

O'BRIEN: I am.

BERMAN: -- you might be getting other benefits too. Good news for Soledad this morning. A new report suggests they could also help reduce your chances of dying from cancer. So there you go.

O'BRIEN: That's great news! That's better than good.

BERMAN: These statins keep cancer cells from growing and can make them more treatable. The study is out today in the "New England Journal of Medicine" -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: I love personalizing the news. Go ahead. What else do you have for me?

BERMAN: More news for you maybe not on this one, with certitude, Anthony Weiner is back on Twitter.


BERMAN: He posted his first tweet yesterday since resigning nearly 18 months ago. You'll remember he sent a racy picture to someone on the social network.

His tweet, yesterday though, for a good cause, it included a link to a YouTube video, raising awareness for victims of Sandy in the Rockaways, which was part of his old congressional district. So that was for a good cause. It was!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should he be banned from Twitter for life?

O'BRIEN: First of all, you know I'm not for banning anybody from anything. I'm just saying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you so outraged that he's back on Twitter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I mention? My daughter's school is having $1 denim day.

O'BRIEN: What does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It means that they can wear blue jeans instead of their school uniform if they give $1 to sandy victims. So the whole school, I will guarantee you, will be wearing blue jeans on Friday and it will be for the Sandy victims.

O'BRIEN: If they kept the kids another eight hours, the parents could each give another $5,000.


O'BRIEN: And raise a lot of money.

SOCARIDES: Maybe you could get Anthony Weiner to tweet about that and we'll raise even more money.

O'BRIEN: I don't believe in banning him, but, really -- I don't know.


O'BRIEN: So not only are the people fed up with gridlock in Washington, D.C., but many elected officials are as well. So much so that lawmakers like Senator Olympia Snowe and Congressman Steve Latourette are calling it quits.

And Congressman Latourette is an Ohio Republican. He joins us this morning from Washington, D.C. It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for talking with us. So walk me through your frustration. Exactly what has been bugging you to the point that you're getting out?

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE LATOURETTE (R), OHIO: Well, you know, I've been at it for 18 years and I came in the Gingrich revolution of 1994. And the difference is that the small things that we used to be able to do in a bipartisan way, we can't get done. That would be the farm bill, the transportation bill.

For crying out loud, we couldn't even agree to leave town for the election. We don't have an adjournment resolution, which is why the house comes in every Tuesday and Friday for a pro forma session.

And that lack of willingness to find common ground on the no-brainer issues really is what put me over the edge, together with when we did put Simpson-Bowles on the floor in the spring, Jim Cooper of Tennessee and I, we got 38 votes out of 435.

O'BRIEN: So there's a theory that would say, stick with it, and help fix it from the inside. I mean, I think Angus King, who's been elected now in Maine, he said his perspective was sort of the opposite of Olympia Snowe's.

He said this, "I ran for the mirror image of the reason she left. She said she couldn't take it anymore," which is kind of what you're saying, "and I ran because I think we just got to, we have to try a different way."

Do you feel that there is hope? Because you sound kind of hopeless about it, is there hope for -- you're describing what I think the American people want. Just like, we have elected you, go figure it out.

LATOURETTE: There is hope. You know, I was encourage -- John Boehner's a good friend of mine. I was encouraged by his observations. And for those who know the inside baseball story of what happened during the debt crisis, the president and Speaker Boehner were very close. And where they got called back from making the big deal wasn't quite Simpson/Bowles, because was a model, they got pulled back by the extremes in both of their party.

The no tax pledge people in the Republican Party yanked Boehner back and the "don't you dare touch the middle class" entitlement people in the president's party pulled him back, and as a result those talks collapsed.

Now their statements yesterday reflect that they're willing to give that another shot. So what we did, I'm in something called Republican Main Street," which represents the centrist Republicans, we're going to be applying for an endangered species status.

But we asked Frank Luntz to do a poll on this question, and we intend to make sure that everybody in our party takes a look at it. When we got thrown out in 2006, our concern was we weren't conservative enough.

And already you hear that Romney lost because he wasn't conservative enough. That isn't what this poll shows. The poll shows that people want people to work this out.

And they didn't send the same bunch back to town in this election because they love what they're doing. They sent him back because they don't trust either side, but they do expect them to get this thing done.

O'BRIEN: So the Tea Party, I just want to read what they said because I think this is exactly what you're talking about. They said they're going to put up a fight, basically, for the future of the GOP.

"We wanted a fighter like Ronald Reagan. What we got was a weak, moderate candidate," talking about Romney, "handpicked by the beltway elites and the country club establishment wing of the Republican Party. The presidential loss is unequivocally on them. The blaming moderation with the catastrophic loss of the Republican elite's hand-picked candidate, the Tea Party is the last best hope America has to restore America's founding principles."

That's from Jenny Beth Martin. She is a national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots. Is Jenny Beth Martin wrong? Is the Tea Party America's next best hope?

LATOURETTE: Well, listen to me. There's a one-word phrase we use in Ohio for that -- crap. That's nonsense. And you know, if you look at what happened, we lost Charlie Best and Frank Ginta in New Hampshire.

The Republican Party cannot be a national party if we give up the entire east coast of the United States and say that there aren't any -- and we don't have any Republicans in New England. We don't have any Republicans in the Mid-Atlantic states.

We can't continue to dist the Latino voters and you know, my wife is a Democrat, and she was so close to voting for Mitt Romney, but then, you know, Mourdock and Akin opened their mouth, and we sent them running back to the Democratic Party because they think we're nutty.

We have the right message on the finances. We have to get out of people's lives, get out of people's bedrooms and we have to be a national party. And that's -- or else we're going to lose.

LIZZA: Congressman, can you just go back to what you were saying about the dynamics within the Republican caucus and the House?

I mean, a lot depends on, you know, how many Republicans Boehner can get to go along with a deal similar to what you were describing he and Obama almost had in 2011. Take us through the sort of politics of that. What does he need to do?

LATOURETTE: Well, he needs to convince people, and that's why we did this survey with Luntz and other people need to chime in, and basically say, and interestingly enough, in this survey, 35 percent of Republicans said they would forgive somebody who broke the Grover Norquist tax pledge if it actually balanced the budget.

Not just to break it to break it, but to balance the budget. And what happened during the 112th Congress is, you had 42, 48 of the new folks, emboldened by some old folks, and so they would didn't vote for -- they didn't vote for the first thing, HR1.

They didn't vote for the transportation bill. They would negotiate these bills and still vote against them and when you have -- now he's going to have a slimmer majority. If he can't deliver 218 votes, what does that do?

He's got to go across the hall and say hello to Nancy Pelosi and say, we need Democratic votes. Then he's accused of being a traitor. So people have to realize that this is the big deal.

We've got to fix it together. We broke it together and then we can go back fight like cats and dogs about all the other things that we like to fight about.

O'BRIEN: Steve Latourette, a Republican from Ohio, nice to talk to you. Thanks for being with us. We really appreciate it.

LATOURETTE: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, ugly scene, ugly words, did you see this at Ole Miss, a southern university, shouting racial slurs. It was a protest that got very ugly, where people were celebrating the president's re-election. We'll show you a little more of that, straight ahead.

And serving up a solution to the equality problem. We talked to a tennis icon, Billie Jean King, straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Two students at the University of Mississippi were arrested while they were protesting the re-election of President Obama. Officials say a small rally grew to about 400 demonstrators yesterday some of them shouting profanities and racial slurs.

The incident comes right after the 50th anniversary of the forced integration of the school so unfortunate timing for them there. The University of Mississippi's chancellor, Dan Jones, says all of us are ashamed of the few students who have negatively affected the reputations of each of us and our university.

You know, they've been working really hard, I think, to change a lot of the reputation of Ole Miss. They had their first black homecoming queen. So I think something like this really sets them back in terms of the messaging that they want to have. But it does sound like it was a small number of students in the place of a bigger rally.

SOCARIDES: Yes. And I think that, you know, not much of this has happened. We see very little of this anywhere in the country. I think the country's going to come together. I really am optimistic.

I think we've got some big differences that we'll have to work out, but I think, right after an election, this is a moment where people are going to come together. Don't you think?

O'BRIEN: I also think that the Democratic Party, you know, we were talking in the commercial break, with the senator, sort of about how the logistics of this fiscal cliff and what each side has to do. But I think the Democratic Party cannot be painted with the brush of being the fiscally irresponsible party.

Which, I think has been some messaging from the GOP side, right, which is the Democrats believe this. The Republicans believe this, as Congressman Latourette said. You know, his wife, who was close to voting for a Democrat, when she heard the messaging from Akin was like because the messaging from the dems on the Republicans is, you know, when it comes to women, they are crazy. And I think that both of those fiscal irresponsibility on the Democratic side is sticking, and I think crazy about women's rights is sticking to Republicans. And I think that's going to be a big problem.

SOCARIDES: Yes. And you know, the Republicans -- the Democrats also have to realize, we Democrats have to realize also that the Republicans have some good ideas too here. There are some ideas that the Republicans put forth --

O'BRIEN: That's very generous of you.

SOCARIDES: Well, there are some ideas that the Republicans put forth that attracted a lot of attention and really appeal to people. I think, you know, we talk about extremism in American politics and how polarized that the sides were.

When people realize that it is no longer to their electoral advantage to have these extreme positions, they will come to the middle. And I think both parties are going to realize coming out of this election that compromise is going to work for them. That's what people want. And, you know, it might be a good moment.

BERMAN: Tell that to Dick Lugar in Indiana. It's not crystal clear that it's good for their electoral future.

O'BRIEN: Well, and tell it to Congressman Latourette, right? I mean -- and Olympia Snowe.

ROMANS: And Mitt Romney, who was too far to the middle for the liking of the right wing of the party, who said that he was disastrous for their party.

LIZZA: What happens when these centrists resign? In Texas, with all due respect, you're a relatively moderate senator and you're being replaced by someone much further to the right of you, Ted Cruz.

I don't know the specific story in Latourette's district, but in general, what has happened over the last 30 years, as moderates and centrists resign, they're almost always replaced by people further out on the fringes and you have a more polarized Congress.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, as we continue to talk about that, we're also going to talk to Billie Jean King. She is one of "Fortune's" most powerful women. We'll talk about the battle of the sexes, a record number of women in the Senate, even with your departure now. We're going to talk to her about that, straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. President Obama tapped a number of big names to campaign for him, including tennis icon, Billie Jean King. She is a tireless supporter of the LBGT community, a champion of powerful enterprising women and she continues to use tennis to promote equality long after she retired from competition. Here is a little bit of what she told me.


O'BRIEN: You have said that tennis is a microcosm of society.


O'BRIEN: How so?

KING: Now you have the whole world competing. In my day, we didn't have to do that, same with education, same with technology. We really weren't having to compete with the rest of the world in the game.

O'BRIEN: Take me back to September 20th, 1973. Of course, Bobbi Riggs, battle of the sexes. It was such a big metaphor.

KING: It really was. It was about social change. I really wanted to win this match because I knew it was about social change, number one. Because I knew it would really trigger a lot of emotion in people and it did.

I had total respect for Bobby Riggs, former number one player. I admired him. I really prepared properly and I think that's why I beat him, that I really respected him. When he jumped the net at the end, he said I really underestimated you.

O'BRIEN: You were talking about tennis as a microcosm of society in terms of equal pay. Now, of course, there's a fight to make the winnings not equal again.

KING: Right now, the men are extremely talented at the top. I don't know if we'll ever see that many at the top that great again. So this is their moment. They really want to use it to get more money again. We only got equal prize money in the majors in '07.

O'BRIEN: Does it feel like a fight? Do you feel like you've spent a long time --

KING: To me it wasn't even about the money. It was about the message that we send to the world. You've got 70 percent of the world that's in poverty. Women are the ones that have to deal with it. They're the ones trying to get their families out of poverty.

O'BRIEN: Why do you come to this most powerful women summit every year?

KING: I love people. I love to connect. I've been a small business person. I own the Philadelphia Freedoms in Philadelphia.

O'BRIEN: Elton John sang that song for you.

KING: Elton John wrote that song for me. It became number one, crossed over into R & B and became number one.

O'BRIEN: Patty Seller said to me the other day. I was interviewing her before this conference and she said, you know, by the current path it will be 70 years, 7-0 years before women and men -- there's parody on corporate boards.

KING: I agree.

O'BRIEN: That long?

KING: Yes. You know, I've had to come to grips with the fact that I can only maybe take one step in my whole lifetime forward, whether it be in sports or tennis or helping businesses or helping the LBGT community.

Actually, that one has gone faster. We're in this world together. If you can have both men and women in a business -- it's proven that countries that don't have women in businesses are not going to prevail in the long run.

O'BRIEN: What was the lowest point for you?

KING: Probably when I was outed. I wasn't ready and I needed to be in a different place.

O'BRIEN: Your endorsements dried up.

KING: Yes, endorsements dried up. Long term, it's a blessing. Short term, it's very difficult. It took me probably until I was 51 until I was comfortable in my own skin. I grew up in homophobia, family wise and culturally, in every way. It was really hard on me to go through that journey.

O'BRIEN: Are things better today for young people?

KING: So much better. Every 10 years, every decade, it really gets better. I find if the family will accept you, you'll make it. It's when your family turns you away or tells you to leave the home or starts being abusive because of it.

It's really hard and -- but until you come out, you don't really lead a full life. Sports, they teach you how to get along with people that you don't know. They teach you about relationships.

They teach you how to keep going, whether you win or lose, particularly if you lose and have a bad day, that you get up, dust yourself off and keep going. And it's the same way in daily life.


O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT devastating nor'easter battering the northeast overnight. Thousands more victims of superstorm Sandy are losing their power and in some cases losing their hope. We're going to take you live to the hardest-hit areas straight ahead.

And then Latino-Americans, big reason why President Obama was re- elected. We're going to talk about America's fastest growing voting bloc with San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Powerless in the cold and nor'easter has pummelled communities already struggling to recover from superstorm Sandy.