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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Israel Holding National Elections; North Korea Eases Cell Phone Restrictions; Prince Harry Takes On Taliban; Football Wife's Facebook Rant; "Totally Simpatico"; "There's Complete Openness"; U.S. Stock Futures Trading Mixed; Big Week For Housing Ahead; "Pong" Creator Atari Filing For Bankruptcy; Sundance Film Festival; Blanco: "My Story Is America's"

Aired January 22, 2013 - 07:30   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": -- Soledad. Voters in Israel having their say today, but pundits there and in the West Bank and even in the U.S. say it's a safe bet that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party, Likud will today's election. This is a first step in forging a new government. The party leans right, but it's too soon to say if it will go hard right or if it will include centrists.

It's one of the most closed off countries in the world, but now North Korea is easing up on some of their strict cell phone regulations for foreigners. Now visitors are allowed to bring their own mobile devices into the country. Talking to locals on those mobile devices, however don't try it that is still illegal.

Prince Harry is home this morning from a second tour of duty, serving the British Army in Afghanistan. We're getting a look at interviews he did in theatre, and he admits he killed some members of the Taliban.

The 28-year-old British Royal says he took enemy fighters, quote, "out of the game" during his 20-week tour in Afghanistan. Harry also saying privacy was a big concern for him there, just like it is at home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRINCE HARRY: I never wanted you guys to be out here, but there was a deal made that you didn't speculate before my deployment. That's the only reason you guys are out here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So the wife of the Patriot star wide receiver, Wes Welker, blasting the retiring Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis. Lewis, who is retiring, win or lose, after the Super Bowl, has been seen as a leader and inspiration to his team.

But after Baltimore bounced him from the playoffs, Anna Burns Welker blasted Lewis on Facebook and suggested people need a reality check. She said, proud of my husband and the pats, by the way, if anyone is bored, please go to Ray Lewis' Wikipedia page. Six kids, four wives, acquitted of murder, paid a family off. What a hall of fame player, a true role model. That's what she said --

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Former Ms. Hooters, talking about the role model thing. Isn't that like the pot, kettle thing?

BERMAN: She was never accused of murder. I mean, in her defense.

O'BRIEN: That's very true. People in glass houses should just keep their mouths shut after the game.

It is also we should talk about the marriage, kind of an odd political marriage, right, going for round two? The chief political analysts, Gloria Borger, talked with Vice President Joe Biden breaking down what makes them an effective team and why the vice president is now seen as the White House deal closer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): If there is an odd couple of American politics, it's President Obama and Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What made it work is that if you go back to the days when we were actually competing for the nomination. All those debates we had, only two people who didn't disagree on any subject were Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

So we got into the deal. We didn't have what other administrations have had where the vice president and president have a different take on the major issues of the day, totally simpatico. What developed and it made easier was it went from working with each other to a friendship. I mean, we actually real trust built.

BORGER (on camera): We know have you disagreed with the president over policy and you know how to read him pretty well. So how can you tell when you have done something that he doesn't like or that makes him angry?

BIDEN: That's easy. That's easy. We made a deal early on. When either one of us were dissatisfied, we flat tell the other person. So lunch once a week, that's when we talk and when he's not liked something I have done, he flat tells me.

BORGER: He says, Joe, you shouldn't have done that.

BIDEN: Joe, look, I don't agree with the way you did that. Why did you do a, b, c, or d? He will say, look, man, I don't like the way this is going. So there is a complete openness, but we haven't disagreed. We sometimes we disagree on tactic as to how to proceed to try to get what he wanted done, which I've agreed with. But we've never disagreed on policy.

BORGER (voice-over): But there was a policy with timing, when the vice president got ahead of the boss in this exchange about same-sex marriage on "Meet the Press."

BIDEN: Men marrying men, women marrying women, women marrying heterosexual, they are all entitled to the same civil liberties.

BORGER: That caused heartache in the White House.

BIDEN: Saying I was comfortable with gays and lesbians, and relationships, I knew his position.

BORGER (on camera): But you got out in front of him on it, and that can be a problem.

BIDEN: I'm telling you how he responded. I walked into the office, and gave him a big hug. I tell you what, man. I like how you say what's on your mind.

BORGER: You say it caused a little apoplexy around here.

BIDEN: It did, but not with him. Not with him.

BORGER (voice-over): Lately, Biden's become the White House closer, cutting the deal on the fiscal cliff and trying to get one on guns.

(on camera): Are you the only one that can cut deals with Republicans now?

BIDEN: No, no, no. Look, first of all, the only way I have been able to close any deal, because everybody knows I speak for the president. I have his complete support for what I'm saying because I know what he wants, number one.

Number two, I think the reason why we make a good team, you know, Tip O'Neill used to say, politics local. You have heard me say that I rarely disagree with Tip O'Neill, all politics personal.

And it's based on trust and I have spent a lot of time in this town, I have personal relationships with people I strongly disagree, but there is trust, and so I'm a logical person, a logical person to -- as they say, close the deal, but it's the president, it's not me. It's the president.

BORGER: But it's no secret that you and the president are very different people. You're hot, he's cool. You're a natural back slapper. He's been accused of being more insular. Does the marriage work because he married his opposite?

BIDEN: Well, look, I think what you hope, and he -- he used this phrase one time. That we kind of make up for whatever weaknesses the other guy has, and I've got a hell of a lot more weaknesses than he does. The one place I have had a lot of experience with a lot of the people we deal with.

And, you know, everybody talks about, well, it's -- you know, it's back slapping. It's not. It's trust, simple trust. Find a single person and you know this town better, who will look you in the eye and say I don't trust Joe Biden. It's that I've been around longer. They also know I speak for him and he will keep whatever commitment I make on his behalf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Interesting people in Washington right now. You can see more of Gloria Borger's interview with the vice president today at 4 p.m. Eastern on "THE SITUATION ROOM."

I was on the steps of the capital looking down during the inauguration yesterday and there was a moment where the vice president and the president were standing back behind the microphone and they were laughing at something, clearly whispering in each other's ear telling a joke.

And I wish I could have heard what they said because to me it looked like, maybe the president was saying, Joe, there is an open mic there.

O'BRIEN: You know, what's very interesting is that often I think people mock him for his stumbles. I thought that was a terrific interview because you really get the behind the scenes on some of those things that come out wrong sometimes, but he seems to say, the fact that he has that trust, that's a fair point.

PHIL BREDESEN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF TENNESSEE: I think it's been a great marriage if you will. The two of them, the presidents and vice presidents, often a marriage of convenience and this one seems to really be working. I think they make a great complimentary team.

O'BRIEN: When you think as a member of the GOP, this 2016, is Joe Biden considered to be a threat? Sometimes he is posed as a little bit of a joke on the GOP side.

JOE NOSEF, CHAIRMAN, MISSISSIPPI REPUBLICAN PARTY: I certainly don't think he's a joke. At the same time, it's a little hard for me to believe he will be a real contender in 2016. I think by all accounts, Hillary Clinton will have it if she wants it, and after that they have a pretty good bench. But I think Joe Biden is good at what he does.

O'BRIEN: He said it right. He speaks the truth. A lot of trust, and been there a long time. It goes a long way in Washington, D.C.

Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, it is the premiere showcase for independent films. Zoraida Sambolin is live at Sundance for us with a look at the movies that are generating a lot of buzz.

And then his poem sought to unify the nation. We're going to talk to Richard Blanco, who made history yesterday.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans. Minding your business this morning, stock futures mixed amid a big week for corporate earrings. Reports this morning, we'll get them from Johnson & Johnson, DuPont, and Verizon, and this afternoon, Google, IBM and Texas Instruments. Apple reports tomorrow.

All right, it's probably your biggest asset or your biggest debt. It's your house. We're going to get a read on existing home sales at 10 a.m. Eastern. The housing news has been good. Home sales and home prices are forecast to rise this year.

And Deutsche Bank's chief economist, he is going to call 2013, the year of the house, he says. Real estate tracker Zillow says home values will rise more than 3 percent this year.

Remember that iconic video game, Pong? It's creator, Atari, is filing for bankruptcy. Atari is trying to split itself off from its unprofitable parent company in France. Atari lost its dominance in video games decades ago to rivals like Nintendo. Its assets include the Atari logo and then the company's games. They will be up for sale in the next few months.

BERMAN: I have my Atari at home in working order. My 1982-era Atari and it still works.

O'BRIEN: I thought Atari had gone under. They haven't been part of the growth of video games. They've been completely out of it.

BREDESEN: Nothing better than space invade invaders.

ROMANS: Sometimes you get a rejuvenation out of bankruptcy.

O'BRIEN: You're all dating yourselves. Right now, some of the biggest names in Hollywood are in the mountains of Park City, Utah, for the 35th Annual Sundance Film Festival. This year, some of the films generating the most buzz are documentaries.

Zoraida Sambolin is live for us in Park City this morning. Hi, Z. Good morning.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": -- short films that were submitted here. And out of that, 190 --

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERT REDFORD, FOUNDER OF THE SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: I'm prejudiced to documentaries, have been most of my adult career life.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Four of the five documentary features now in the running for an Oscar were launched at last year's festival. The only one that didn't is on this year's program. Now a new crop of documentarians is hoping for similar success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My second favorite is Garfield.

SAMBOLIN: "Linsanity," the movie, a project that began long before the phenomenon.

EVAN LEONG, PRODUCER, "LINSANITY": Everyone knows how he reacted. The story, it's not the ending, it's the whole journey up to this point, all the things that had to happen to make this perfect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to be loved, go be a movie star.

SAMBOLIN: A former vice president is also in the Sundance spotlight, "The World According to Dick Cheney." RJ CUTLER, PRODUCER, "THE WORLD ACCORDING TO DICK CHENEY": Dick Cheney is a man who love him or hate him, agree with him or disagree with him is certainly one of the most significant, nonpresidential, political figure this country has ever known.

SAMBOLIN: "The 99 Percent" is well represented here too, a unique production resulting from the collaboration of nearly 100 filmmakers.

AUDREY EWELL, PRODUCER, "99 PERCENT": THE OCCUPY WALL STREET COLLABORATIVE FILM": We're not activists, we are filmmakers and for us, this is about capturing a moment in our collective American contemporary history that we didn't feel had necessarily been really explored.

SAMBOLIN: Documentaries not typically in the spotlight, but here at Sundance, they are among the stars.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Soledad, I want to share with you what's coming up today, some of the interviews that I am going to be conducting. So we're going to stick with the documentaries here.

Muriel Hemingway has her film that's coming out. It's "Running From Crazy," we sit down with her and with her daughter, Langley Hemingway. Basically, it is a history of mental illness and depression in her family.

You know, she follows the history and she says what she is trying to do is to make sure that this never happens in her family. We also have Shia Labeouf and we have Evan Rachel Wood, "The Necessary Death of Charlie Countrymen."

And then we have January Jones of "Mad Men Thing," and she is actually doing a reverse swag. Around here, they give a lot of swag to celebrities and she is actually going to be donating that back. So we're going to follow her this evening and share that with you.

O'BRIEN: That sounds really nice. All right, Zoraida, thanks.

Ahead this morning, he is a gay American who made history as the inaugural poet. Richard Blanco will join us live to talk about his big day yesterday. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Lots of firsts for inaugural poet Richard Blanco. He made history yesterday as the youngest person as well as the first immigrant, the first Hispanic, the first openly gay American to serve as inaugural poet. He read from his original work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here the doors we open each day for each other saying, hello, shalom, Bon Giorno, howdy, Namaste, or Buenos Dias. In the language my mother taught me, in every language spoken into one wind, carrying our lives without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Richard Blanco joins us this morning from Washington, D.C. It's nice to see you. I ran into you in a party late last night. So I know how late you've been up last night, sir. There have been four inaugural poets before you. How does it feel so join a very exclusive club?

RICHARD BLANCO, INAUGURAL POST: Well, as you can imagine, it's just such a great honor. I do wish that this would be more of a tradition, but I'm glad to have been in the right place at the right time, as they say. It is an incredible honor.

As I was writing the poem, I looked toward especially the last two poets, I do feel in some ways that the inaugural poem is something that is sort of a continuum or there's something to be said about what each poem says about where America is in that moment and place and time. And so I wanted to pay sort of honor to the poets that had come before me as well.

O'BRIEN: What was it like to look out from your vantage point to look out and see a million people and sort of the back half, they're all waving flags, and then to have to deliver a poem that you've written? What was that moment like?

BLANCO: Well, nerve-racking to say the least, but actually, up there on the platform it seems a lot more intimate than one would think, simply because you're sort of seated closely together, and there is sort of this great sort of spirit in the air that sort of feels like home.

It feels very welcoming and you know, at some point I was just really eager to get up there and do my thing, as they say, but it just, it was just so moving and you know, it certainly is one of the best audiences to read to.

There's not an antagonistic audience so I was welcoming it and I don't think I've ever felt as so rooted in America as an American so to speak as I did at that moment. It was just so beautiful for me to be able to stand there as other poets have done.

So many visions of that, videos that we've seen of those moments to sort of take my place at the podium and say wow, it's pretty amazing.

O'BRIEN: I heard that the way you practiced for a big audience was kind of unusual. Tell us about that.

BLANCO: Well, yes, we live in Bethel, Maine. So it's a very small town, about 2,500 people, and you know, it's one thing to practice your readings indoors, but I wanted to get that feel of having sort of standing somewhere, seeing on YouTube the previous poets and kind of looking out to a multitude.

So my nephews had built a snowman a few weeks prior when they were there below the hill where we live, and so I set up a little makeshift sort of podium and was reading to the snowman, and also --

O'BRIEN: He loved it. I'm going to assume.

BLANCO: Yes, he was a fan immediately. But also to get used to reading outside in the cold weather, even though being from Maine, and it was pretty chilly that morning so I'm kind of glad I did that.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question about the president's speech. He was a first, too, when he talked about gay rights in his speech, and as you making first for being not a Hispanic but openly gay, what did you make of his inaugural address?

BLANCO: I thought it was great the way that he couched the gay America in terms of a civil rights sort of issue as well. I've often wondered it seems to me sometimes that it's the only thing in America still that, you know, I see the sort of slight slurs on TV or commercials.

And I'm thinking if somebody were to say this about a Mexican-American or a Latino-American in general or an African-American, you could never get away with that and I think the idea it's sort of this, it is in many ways a civil rights issue, I thought that was couched nicely to pair all those things together and so eloquently as he did.

O'BRIEN: Really drawing a line I thought between women's rights and then civil rights and then gay rights.

BLANCO: And mentioning Stonewall in particular, yes.

O'BRIEN: Richard Blanco, congratulations on a great day yesterday. I know that you're going to be publishing your poem so anybody who wants to have a chance to own a copy of it. Thank you for the opportunity. Thank you for being with us. We appreciate it.

BLANCO: Thank you. It was a pleasure.

O'BRIEN: You bet. Coming up this morning, we're going to talk to Peter Sprig from the Family Research Council, talk about the president's speech as well his comments on gay rights and climate change that the president spelled out yesterday in his inaugural address.

Much more on the inauguration including a look at the big parties of the night and part two of my interview with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She says women cannot have it all. I was surprised by that. We'll talk about that straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, a historic day, President Obama makes strides mentioning gay rights for the first time in an inaugural address, the praise and the criticism ahead.

Plus she made history as the first Hispanic woman to swear in a vice president. We'll take a look at Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's career and her relationship with her mother and father, that's my one on one interview straight ahead.

BERMAN: And she sparked the investigation that led former CIA Director David Petraeus to resign. Now Jill Kelly is trying to clear her name from blackmail to extortion. We will have the exclusive details.