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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Families Gather in Newtown; In the Grip of the Flu; Golden Globe Winners; Joe Manchin & Jon Huntsman Talk Gun Control; NFL Playoff Results; Cadillac ATS Wins Car of the Year

Aired January 14, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


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SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Our STARTING POINT one month later, we're live this morning from Newtown, Connecticut, marking one month since 20 first graders and staffers were gunned down inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School. This morning we take a look at how the community is coping today and their plans to help prevent another tragedy.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Then, a flu epidemic widespread across 47 states, with vaccines running low. Where we stand and what you need to know to protect you and your family.

Plus, Hollywood celebrates its own at the Golden Globe Awards. We've got the surprises and the snubs. Plus, the moments that's heating up on Twitter -- Jodie Foster's very passionate speech.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And staying classy. The car and truck of the year revealed just minutes ago in Detroit. It's good news for the comeback of the American auto industry.

O'BRIEN: And we have a packed show for you this morning.

Roxanna Green, whose 9-year-old daughter was killed in the Tucson massacre, will be joining us. Former presidential candidate and ambassador, Jon Huntsman, is our guest. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin will join us. Former Florida Congressman Connie Mack is with us. And actor Steven Michael Quezada from "Breaking Bad".

It's Monday, January 14th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning: a day of remembrance for the 20 children and six adults who are gunned down at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. It happened one month ago today.

At 10:30 Eastern Time today, the Stratford, Connecticut, town council will vote on a proposal to name the new school after Victoria Soto, a teacher killed in the shooting.

At 11:00 a.m. Eastern, the group Sandy Hook Promise will unveil its plan to honor the victims, a national grassroots effort to address gun violence. They'll be joined by families of the victims and survivors of other gun shootings.

Last night, at a forum, some 200 Newtown residents voiced their opinions on the future of the Sandy Hook school building. Some said it should be demolished. Others said no, it should stand as a symbol.

The Newtown massacre reignited the gun control debate as well. Newtown's police chief had a clear message for Washington, D.C. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL KEHOE, NEWTOWN, CT POLICE CHIEF: Ban assault weapons. Restrict those magazines that have so many bullets in them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Meanwhile, the family of Noah Posner, a 6-year-old killed in the Sandy Hook shooting, is calling for tougher gun laws.

Tomorrow, the Vice President Joe Biden and his task force will deliver recommendations to prevent gun violence to President Obama.

We want to begin this morning with Roxanna Green. Her daughter Christina, you might remember, Christina was killed while attending Congresswoman Gabby Giffords "Congress on Your Corner" event. She was a beautiful 9-year-old girl and budding political junkie, too.

Roxanna has started a foundation to honor her daughter's memory. She's also done some work with the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns and she's our guest this morning.

It's nice to have you with us.

ROXANNA GREEN, DAUGHTER KILLED IN TUCSON SHOOTING: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: We spoke a while back, and I remember talking to you about how hard it must be to talk about your daughter who was just a child when she was killed. What kind of message do you have for the people here in Newtown, many who have lost children roughly the same age as your little daughter?

GREEN: Well, I came here to offer them comfort and support, prayers and love, and whatever kind of guidance I can help them on this grieving process, this journey that they're on. I know exactly what they're going through, the pain that they're feeling, and I just came here with one of my board members from our foundation, Christina Taylor-Green Memorial Foundation. We brought these angels, steadfast hope, they were made by (INAUDIBLE) and we hope this is a gesture of our love and prayers and hope for the future.

O'BRIEN: Why do you feel you have to be here? I mean, does it get easier for them? Will the town move forward in some way? A month in, it does not feel like that's even possible yet. GREEN: When you lose a child, it's the worst thing that could possibly happen to you. You always have a hole in your heart. But in time, you'll have a new normal. That's why I'm here to offer comfort and support and help them in any way possible so they can heal and go on with their lives.

O'BRIEN: In just a few hours, right behind us, in the town hall, there will be a meeting with Sandy Hook Promise, which is -- it's a group -- they've said that their goal is to figure out a way so that a tragedy like this doesn't happen again. You've been invited to take part as well.

What will your role be in that?

GREEN: Just to offer support. I'm just here for the families of Newtown, for the parents that have gone through this horrific tragedy, and just to offer whatever kind of support and comfort I can right now.

O'BRIEN: We were talking a little while ago with Ron Brownstein, who writes for "The National Journal", and he was saying there's two tracks. The president could issue some kind of executive order, and that seems kind of limited at this point. But he also says Congress could look at bringing back the assault -- the ban on assault weapons. And the president of the NRA says he doesn't think that would ever pass Congress.

I'm going to play a little bit of what David Keene said over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID KEENE, NRA PRESIDENT: When a president takes al the power of his office, if he's willing to expend political capital, you don't want to make predictions -- you don't want to bet your house on the outcome. But I would say that the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through this Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So he says he doesn't think it's going to be possible. Do you think that's the case? I mean, because that to some degree would be a reflection of how the country is feeling. Where do you think the country is on this?

GREEN: I can only speak for myself and the many, many people that I know that have been affected by all the horrific murders that happen every year, over 12,000 murders. I just can't imagine it not passing at this point.

We have to do something in this country, we have to do something now, and I think every gun should have a background check. I also don't believe that people should own military assault style weapons. I don't think they're necessary for hunting.

I am a gun owner. My husband's a hunter, and so is his family. And we don't need those to go hunting.

O'BRIEN: You know, it's interesting, when you listen to what the vice president ticks off -- I know you've done work with Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The vice president ticks off his list of things likely of what he will present tomorrow to the president, he doesn't mention the assault weapons ban. Do you think it would be a huge mistake if they do not go that route?

GREEN: Yes, I do. Personally, I think it would be a huge mistake. But, you know, I think they have to do something in enforcing the laws they already have on the books and making sure there's a criminal background check on every single gun purchase will be a start. I'll be happy if they do that.

O'BRIEN: Roxanna Green, it's nice to see you again. I so appreciate you coming to talk with us. I cannot imagine how tough it must be for you to come and give solace to people. You've been through it two years ago. I know they really appreciate it.

Thank you for talking with us. We appreciate it, too.

GREEN: Thank you very much. Take care.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

This evening, Anderson is going to be here in Newtown, Connecticut, with "A.C. 360". That's going to be at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. You can watch his live coverage then.

We're going to have more from Newtown straight ahead. First, though, John has got a look at the other stories making news today.

Hey, John.

BERMAN: Hey. Good morning, Soledad. All but three states in the grip of the flu epidemic. The CDC says the only states spared are California, Hawaii, and Mississippi. In New York, getting a flu shot is becoming tougher and tougher. There's been a run of the vaccine at some pharmacies and urgent care centers since Governor Cuomo declared a public health emergency.

I'm joined by CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. And, Elizabeth, we hear the word "epidemic". What does it actually mean?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. It's a big scary word. And, basically, when the Centers for Disease Control takes a look at the number of people sick and dying from the flu, it's reached a certain level.

Now, it's an epidemic pretty much every year. Typically, every year, we reach epidemic levels.

So, the word itself doesn't mean much. What people really ought to be thinking about is how to keep from getting sick. Get a flu shot, wash your hands, stay home from work or school if you're sick. BERMAN: Well, since we're talking about terminology here, Governor Cuomo here in New York has declared a public health emergency. What does that mean?

COHEN: You know, it means a number of things. One of the things that it means is that pharmacies are able to give flu shots to people under the age of 18, which is usually the case. Usually, under 18, you've got to go to a doctor.

You know, it's interesting, though. We called several pharmacies in New York state, and said, oh, you're giving shots now to kids? And they said, no. They knew they were allowed to, but they still weren't giving them to kids.

So, it's unclear how much effect that directive has had.

BERMAN: All right. Elizabeth Cohen for us, thanks for keeping us up to speed on this flu epidemic.

COHEN: Thanks.

BERMAN: A lot of people sick in a lot of the places in the country right now.

And for more information about the flu shot, including where to find one, because it's not always easy, you can go to CNN.com/EmpoweredPatient.

So, Hollywood's biggest party didn't disappoint. One of the big surprises of the 70th Golden Globe, Ben Affleck winning Best Director for "Argo" just days after the Oscar snub. And "Argo" upset "Lincoln" for Best Dramatic Film. That was a big surprise.

Other big winners, Jessica Chastain for Best Dramatic Actress for her role as a CIA agent doggedly hunting Osama bin Laden in "Zero Dark Thirty." "Lincoln's" only award went to Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Dramatic Actor for his incredible turn as President Abraham Lincoln.

But, for all the winners and losers, nothing is getting more buzz this morning than Jodie Foster's emotional speech while accepting her career achievement award.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JODIE FOSTER, ACTRESS: I guess I just have a sudden urge to say something that I've never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration that I'm a little nervous about. But, you know, I'm just going to put it out there, loud and proud, right?

So I'm going to need your support on this. I am single. I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: As we said, a lot of talk about that overnight. We're going to have a live report on the Golden Globes at the bottom of the hour. Let's go back to Soledad in Connecticut.

O'BRIEN: All right. John, thanks.

Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, we're going to talk about gun control, which is in the spotlight. What will Washington, D.C., do? Can they, in fact, overcome gridlock?

We'll talk to two people who were hoping to make a change. The former presidential candidate, Ambassador Jon Huntsman will be joining us. And West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is our guest as well.

BERMAN: And he's on the critically acclaimed show "Breaking Bad". But actor Steven Michael Quezada has a new role in mind, school board member. We're going to explain live.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

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BERMAN: So we watched them bicker endlessly over the fiscal cliff, and now, we're watching as new conflicts arise over the debt ceiling, gun control, you name it. So, it's no surprise that the approval rating for Congress is ghastly. You know, it would have to gain even a few points to be considered pathetic. Only 14 percent of the people approve of the way Congress is doing its job.

So, how can Washington ever break this partisan gridlock and change its ways?

I'm joined now by two gentlemen who say they have some ideas. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Jon Huntsman, who's a former Republican governor of Utah and, of course, a former presidential candidate. They've been named as the new national co- leaders for the No Labels campaign. That's a group pushing for solutions, no matter if it's from a Democrat or a Republican, and they're in New York this morning as part of an event for the group.

And, Governor Huntsman, let me start with you. You people are coming together today for an announcement of sorts. What's the announcement?

FMR. GOV. JON HUNTSMAN (R), UTAH: Well, the announcement is we're rolling out a group of problem solvers. So, people say, how do you expect to make Congress work? You look at the 112th Congress, the least productive in the history of the United States of America.

The only way we're going to get traction on the issues that really do matter, whether it's balancing budgets, energy, immigration, you name it, is to get some people, Republicans and Democrats alike, who agree to meet on a regular basis and focus on problem solving. Not their differences, but how we come together to get the work of the American people done.

I think the level of frustration, John, in this country has reached the 212 degree boiling point, and what we have to roll out today and talk about with 1,500 individual volunteers and activists, who on their own dime have come here as part of a grassroots network is going to be truly important in the name of getting things done for the American people.

BERMAN: Senator Manchin, Yahoo News did an interview with both of you over the weekend. I want to read to you from part of the article.

It says, "No Labels lacked a clear agenda and grassroots support and was largely dismissed as irrelevant. But with new leadership and sharper focus, the group has shed some of its early idealism in favor of a more pragmatic acceptance the partisanship that has divided the country and embroiled Washington in recent few years."

So, Senator, let's be clear about this. You're not asking people to become moderates, are you?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: John, we're asking people to get involved and make Congress work, to give us the support that people won't get locked into the right or left, but willing to come together. Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, whether you're a conservative or liberal, and you really want to get things done, you have to be able to have that dialogue.

The venue that No Labels gives us -- I'll give you an example. I've been there two years. Never did I think I would be going to the Senate and make history being the least productive Congress in the history of our country. I'm frustrated, and I want to do things. Jon and I were governors together. We were used to making things happen. We were used to working across the aisle with our colleagues for the sake of our great states of Utah and West Virginia. I thought I would enter the same type of atmosphere in Washington. That's not the case.

The first time that I've had a chance to even talk, to even talk and meet with some of my colleagues on the Congressional side of the House, was through a No Labels problem solving meeting. Now, that's a shame. In two years, John, we have not had, in the Senate, a bipartisan caucus where Democrats and Republicans talked about the problems of the day to try to find commonality, if you will.

So problem solving -- No Labels is a great opportunity for us to do that.

BERMAN: Speaker Boehner, a Republican, and President Obama, a Democrat, they talked an awful lot. I mean, they met a lot in 2011. They met a lot again before the new year. They had an awful lot of discussions about the fiscal cliff, and they couldn't reach a deal. If you're coming into a discussion with different views that can't be reconciled, can you actually get anything done?

MANCHIN: Well, there's 535 members of Congress -- 100 Senators and 435 in the Congress, in the House. If you're not talking but to just a couple of people, you're not going to get a pretty what I would consider broad view of what's going on in America and what needs to be done.

I really proscribe that there's more people in the Senate, whether it be Democrats or Republicans, that are well intentioned that want to get something accomplished. They just haven't had the opportunity. No Labels provides that vehicle, that venue.

If you want to solve a problem, if you're in Congress right now and you're as frustrated as I am, whether you're Democrat or Republican, then join No Labels and come to our problem solving meetings. You can speak openly to your colleagues that you;ve never even met.

John, the bottom line is the American people, they don't know we don't know each other.

BERMAN: One of the biggest issues that will undoubtedly come before Congress in the next few months is gun control. I don't believe I found any statement on gun control on the No Labels Web site. So Governor Huntsman, tomorrow we do expect the vice president to suggest changes to the gun control laws in this country to the president. Some of them include universal background checks, limiting high capacity magazines, encouraging more gun violence research, strengthening mental health checks. Will No Labels take a position on this?

HUNTSMAN: Listen, John, it is in our position to be out there advocating on the policy front. We are providing a pathway, a sensible pathway that brings our nation's leaders together and expects them to solve problems. So as Joe and I know from having been governors and having delivered for the people we represented, progress is all about building coalitions and actually comprehensive solutions and fixes.

So you can imagine, we've got 25 problem solvers under No Labels in Congress today. Our goal by the end of the year is to have 75 to 80. Now, can you imagine the gun debate or the budget debate or the fiscal cliff debate with 80 such problem solvers in Congress who actually have the critical mass to move forward the agenda?

That's the whole purpose here. Not so that the debate becomes 401(k) fractured, but basically is built on those intent doing the work for the people. They're all going to come from an ideological perspective, but they're all in common going to have the worldview that promotes problem solving. So we feel that's what's most important -- whether it's on guns, whether it's on the budget, whether it's on immigration or energy -- all of which are terribly important to get done this year. And that's why what we're launching today under the nolabels.org is so important for the people.

BERMAN: Well, if you guys are able to coordinate your statements and politics as well you're able to coordinate ties, it bodes good things for No Labels going forward.

HUNTSMAN: Two for one sale.

BERMAN: Senator Joe Manchin, Governor Jon Huntsman, thanks for joining us this morning.

And ahead on STARTING POINT, was history made in the Motor City this morning? A look at the new Car of the Year and it's good news for American car makers. Coming up next.

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BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. A quick look at some of our top stories this morning.

A horn sounding 32 times, one for every person who died in the Costa Concordia disaster. The cruise ship wrecked off the Italian coast a year ago Sunday. Survivors and victims' loved ones marked the anniversary with wreaths, a memorial plaque and, of course, many tears.

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford will re-enter politics. It was our own Peter Hanby who was really the first to break this was all but a done deal. Peter reported it back in December. Sanford will announce this week likely that he will run for the House seat once held by now Senator Tim Scott. "The Weekly Standard" says Sanford will make his run official in the next few days.

You'll remember, in 2009, then Governor Sanford was reported missing and later admitted that he was having an affair with a woman in Argentina.

So four teams left in the march to the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots got a huge performance from running back Shane Vereen. That's Stevan Ridley right there, but Vereen scored three touchdowns also. They beat Houston 41-28. Tom Brady has now won more playoff games than any quarterback in history.

And the Atlanta Falcons, they came this close to blowing a huge lead. They beat the Seahawks 30-28 on a Matt Bryant field goal in the final seconds. It was astounding they even needed that, but they won.

Here's your playoff picture: San Francisco travels to Atlanta for the NFC championship game. Then Baltimore visits New England for the AFC title. After that, it's New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.

All right, let's get right to Poppy Harlow for what's in today's business news.

HARLOW: First of all, I think it should've been the Vikings, but you know I'm a little bit biased there.

BERMAN: We can't all be Tom Brady.

HARLOW: That is true. Folks, I'm Poppy Harlow in for Christine Romans this morning, minding your business.

U.S. stock futures are trading mixed. The Dow futures' up just slightly. S&P and NASDAQ down slightly. Trading is expected to be pretty light today with big corporate earnings coming out later in the week. The big focus is going to be on the big banks: JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs reporting their fourth quarter numbers on Wednesday. Bank of America and Citigroup will come out with theirs on Thursday. And then Morgan Stanley on Friday.

And new this morning, straight out of Detroit, the Car of the Year just announced at the Detroit Auto Show. This year's winner, the Cadillac ATS. A first for Cadillac, winning this very important award. And the Truck Utility of the Year is Chrysler's Ram 1500, which also won the Motor Trend Truck of the Year as well.

And you know that trillion dollar coin you heard about? Well, the Treasury Department said over the weekend, squashing all the rumors, saying it's not going to mint a trillion dollar platinum coin to avert a government default. There was some speculation that Treasury could unilaterally do this and avoid the U.S. defaulting on our debt. Well, the government already hit its legal borrowing limit at the end of December. Treasury has been, quote, "using extraordinary measures to keep the U.S. government running."

So now this is in the hands of Congress. They have to fix the problem. No trillion dollar coin.

Soledad, back to you.

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

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, as we come to you live from Newtown, Connecticut, we're taking a look at the ongoing gun control debate in our country. Up next, we'll talk to a former Florida Congressman Connie Mack. His state has the most concealed weapons licenses in the nation.

BERMAN: And weather flip-flop. It's cold in the West and balmy in the Northeast. So what's going on here? You're watching STARTING POINT.

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