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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Horror at Brazilian Nightclub; Obama & Clinton's "60 Minutes" Interview; Sheriff: Get in the Game!; Adele's Father Reaches Out

Aired January 28, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning: the nightclub inferno. This morning, funerals are beginning for hundreds of people killed in a fire in a packed Brazilian nightclub. Same cause behind the number of fires as well. And questions today: were the exits blocked?

Plus, a call to arms from a sheriff of Milwaukee. He's asking everyone or folks to learn to use a gun.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: When using your credit card will cost more. We're not talking about interest rates. I'll explain.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": And caught on camera. A mother and baby trapped in flood waters. This is amazing video. We'll show you how they were rescued, coming up.

O'BRIEN: Ahead this hour, President Clinton's former White House chief of staff, Thomas "Mack" McLarty is with us. Milwaukee County sheriff David Clark Jr. will join us. And the star of "The Walking Dead", David Morrissey, is our guest.

It's Monday, January 28th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning is funerals now beginning for some who were killed in that horrific fire that took place in a Brazilian nightclub, as we learn that nearly half of the 231 victims were students all from the same university, all who were celebrating the last weekend of summer break.

Shasta Darlington has the latest from Santa Maria in Brazil.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, I'm just a few steps from where this tragedy happened early Sunday morning. And standing here looking at it, you can begin to get an idea of how it happened. This is an establishment that's packed between two buildings. There were no side exits, no exit out the back door. There's one very narrow exit out the front. In fact, when firemen showed up, they had to break holes in the walls. There weren't any windows. They had to break through the lateral walls by going through these other buildings.

So, it's clear they just didn't have the emergency procedures in place to save these people.

Now, it was a very different theme early Sunday morning.

(voice-over): Smoke filled the air when the first firefighters entered the nightclub, where shirtless men were already trying to rescue some of the injured. Emergency vehicles arrived not realizing the extent of the tragedy they faced. Chaos and terror among survivors, and the bodies of victims all around.

The fire broke out at about 2:00 in the morning at a nightclub called Kiss in Santa Maria in Brazil's southern most state. The club was packed with some 2,000 people, twice its legal capacity according to officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): People who were inside the facility informed us that when they came out, that security guards blocked the exit to prevent the people there from leaving and that's when the crowd started panicking, and the tragedy grew worse.

DARLINGTON: People who were inside told us that when they came out, security guards blocked exits to prevent people from leaving, he says. That's when the crowd started panicking.

(on camera): This is Santa Maria's local gymnasium. But it's turned into a makeshift morgue. There are more than a hundred bodies here. Hundreds of families have come together trying to locate and identify the relatives who were, of course, young people in their late teens, early 20s. They died of asphyxiation and some of them were even trampled to death.

(voice-over): As the coffins for the many victims were lined up, investigators searched for the cause of the fire, which tore through the sound proofing insulation in the roof.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff cut short her appearance at a summit in Chile and headed to Santa Maria to personally oversee the government's response to the tragedy.

It was the end of the summer holiday season in Brazil, the last chance to party for many young people due back at school or work on Monday.

(on camera): Today, of course, families are holding funerals for the victims and beginning the burial -- Soledad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: That was Shasta for us this morning. Also, the president, barely a week into his second term, and it has been a busy one. He sat down with a joint interview, very rare joint interview, took place "60 Minutes" with his outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

You remember they were bitter rivals. They did seem to enjoy sitting next to each other, giving compliments to each other.

Today, the president and vice president will meet with police chiefs and sheriffs from major cities across the country on how to deal with gun violence. And tomorrow, the president is going to launch his big immigration initiative. And with all that, he's even been talking about football as well.

CNN's Brianna Keilar is live at the White House for more on that for us. Hey, Brianna. Good morning.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Obama said he wanted to thank Secretary Clinton as she gets ready to leave the State Department. The two of them appeared to have genuine affection for each other through this interview as they talked about their rivalry, yes, and also 2016.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR (voice-over): President Obama and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, once bitter rivals, now allies, together for an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes".

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I consider Hillary a strong friend.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I mean, very warm, close -- I think there's a sense of understanding that, you know, sometimes it doesn't take words because we have similar views.

KEILAR: Rewind five years to their bruising primary battle.

OBAMA: You're likable enough, Hillary.

CLINTON: Thank you.

I'm here. He's not.

OBAMA: Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes.

STEVE KROFT, CBS NEWS: How long did it take you to get over that?

OBAMA: It didn't take us long as I think people will perceive it.

KEILAR: It took longer for their staffs, not to mention --

CLINTON: I think spouses take it much harder. You know, in a way --

OBAMA: Yes, no doubt.

KEILAR: 2016 came up. The president laughed off a question about endorsing Clinton.

OBAMA: I was literally inaugurated --

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: -- four days ago. And you're talking about elections four years from now.

KEILAR: And the secretary sidestepped.

CLINTON: And I don't think, you know, either he or I can make predictions about what's going to happen tomorrow or the next year.

KEILAR: Clinton, who recently suffered a concussion and blood clot and has been wearing glasses for double vision, answered a question about her health.

CLINTON: Oh, it's great. It's great. Now, you know, I have some lingering effects from falling on my head and having the blood clot. But, you know, the doctor said that it will all recede. Thankfully, I'm looking forward to being at full speed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Also this weekend, an interview the president did with "The New Republic" was published. We learned some new things. He talked about politics here in Washington.

But he also talked about other things like football and some of the repetitive concussions that have caused lasting injuries. Soledad, he said, 'I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football. And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence."

And, Soledad, he was also asked about gun violence. He was asked if he ever shot a gun, and he said, yes. That actually, with his guests at Camp David, he goes skeet shooting all the time. So, that's something new we hadn't known.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it was interesting to him to say his girls don't, but that he has guests up and does skeet shooting.

Brianna Keilar for us this morning at the White House -- thanks, Brianna. I appreciate it.

Just a few moments, we're going to talk to Thomas "Mack" McLarty, of course, the former Clinton White House chief of staff.

First, though, I want to introduce our panelists this morning. We've got Will Cain, CNN contributor and columnist for TheBlaze.com.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Someone just pleading me to say Glenn Beck TV, so and Glenn Beck TV. I'm saying it on the record.

CAIN: It's called "The Blaze". We covered it.

O'BRIEN: "The Blaze," yes, I did. So I double covering it.

Charles Blow is a CNN contributor and "New York Times" columnist. Christopher John Farley is a senior editorial director of digital features for "The Wall Street Journal." "EARLY START's" co-anchor John Berman sticks around with us this morning.

Let's start with you, John, and then we'll get to other stories.

BERMAN: Thank you so much. I win.

ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: We'll begin with breaking news out of the Great Britain right now. A British Airways flight from Houston headed to Heathrow had to make an emergency landing in Wales. There was a technical problem. We're still getting details on exactly what went wrong. We'll bring you those as soon as they come into us.

We have new some information this hour out of Egypt as violence rages there. A state-run newspaper says a young man has died after getting hit with bird shot near Tahrir Square. This as Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi declares a limited state of emergency because of the recent violence and suggests more action is possible. He has imposed a 30-day curfew in three cities along the Suez Canal where protests have broken out since Friday.

Morsi has also invited representatives from 11 political parties to meet today to address problems in Egypt, as opposed to what he says expressing anger. You're looking at them expressing anger right now.

So, it's going to be snowy, icy rain, just plain sloppy during the commute for millions of Americans this morning. This is a live look at the nation's capital. Not as pretty as it looks because the storm that coated the Midwest in ice yesterday is now heading north and could bring snow, freezing rain, and sleet to the Northeast, including New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Snow and ice shut down runways in Salt Lake city for the second time in a week yesterday, and 200 flights were cancelled at O'Hare in Chicago -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. John, thanks.

That joint interview -- let's talk about that again -- President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, happened last night on "60 Minutes." They seemed very, very, very chummy.

But all you have to do is go back four years to see how much they disliked each other.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Tactics that are right out of Karl Rove's playbook. So, shame on you, Barack Obama.

OBAMA: Shame on her. She knows better. She's talking like she's Annie Oakley.

CLINTON: Maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow.

OBAMA: While I was working out on the streets, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board member of Walmart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Wow, I forgot how ugly that was.

Mack McLarty is the chief of staff, was the chief of staff of President Bill Clinton, between '93 and '94. They go way back, knew each other from kindergarten, if I'm not mistaken.

They genuinely, sir, seemed very warm as they sat down together for what was an incredibly rare interview, the two of them sitting there together. They genuinely seemed to really dislike each other four years ago.

What do you think has worked over the last four years?

THOMAS "MACK" MCLARTY, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I think times have changed and their positions have changed, and politics is a contact sport. It was a very, very tough campaign between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama, as you portrayed in those past clips.

However, I think the genuineness of their relationship came through in that interview. There clearly was regard and respect by both. They worked together. I think they've had an extraordinary run at it in terms of foreign policy.

I think Secretary Clinton has supported the president. I think that's reestablished our standing around the world. I think they managed some exceedingly complex, fast moving and difficult situations in a very skilled manner.

I think she gets high marks, Soledad, both from Republicans and Democrats, and from the American people and internationally.

O'BRIEN: So she talked about how hard it is on the spouse, and he talked about how hard it is on the staff. So I guess my question would be: is Bill Clinton kind of over it? You've known him since you were 5 years old. He's been very supportive of President Obama. Critical, I think it's fair to say.

MCLARTY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: But has he also moved on? Or is the spouse always struggling?

MCLARTY: Well, I think both made good points in terms of the spouse and the staff. I think that's understandable and true.

But I think you have to go to President Clinton's speech in Charlotte, which I think was a pivotal moment in the Obama re-election campaign. That was a powerful speech making the case for the president's re- election.

So I think the answer is he's very proud of Secretary Clinton's tenure, of his wife's tenure as secretary of state. That comes through repeatedly. But I think he's very supportive and really in line with the president and much what he's trying to do in his second term, building on the first term.

O'BRIEN: In that speech, he really did define, almost like -- let me lay out and define this --

MCLARY: He made the case. He made the case, yes.

O'BRIEN: Yes, he really did and maybe for Democrats as well.

I guess the dilemma, right, for 2016 is who do you -- you're already laughing, and I haven't even said the question yet.

MCLARTY: Just chuckling. Not laughing.

O'BRIEN: The rumor for 2016, if you, indeed, have the vice president throwing his name into the ring, and if you have Hillary Clinton, despite all the demurring on that, that she also decides to run for the presidency, what does the president do?

MCLARTY: Well, he probably stays neutral certainly during the primaries. I think that's been the standard for any sitting president. And, look, it's a long time. Four years is a long time.

O'BRIEN: Oh, it's no time at all, sir. You know that.

MCLARTY: Well, it does.

O'BRIEN: I have to tell you that.

MCLARTY: But I think -- but I think also Secretary Clinton doesn't have to make a decision. As the president noted last night, she's been a world figure. She has tremendous name recognition, tremendous standing.

Right now, she needs to take some time for rest, reflection, and renewal. She's going to do that. I think she'll make decisions as they become timely before her.

Do I think she would make a very outstanding president? Yes, I do. I think she's eminently qualified and I think she's highly respected.

O'BRIEN: OK. So, then, hypothetically she says, yes, I am going to run, the president does what? He endorses her? He endorses the vice president?

MCLARTY: No, I think -- well, I think -- I don't know. I can't speculate too much about the president. Certainly can't speak for him. I think a president, normal sitting president, will stay neutral.

I mean, he's put Vice President Biden on the point in terms of some of these negotiations. And there may well be some other very well qualified candidates on the Democratic side, certainly on the Republican side. It jus -- it really is a little too far out to speculate.

I think the president really probably most likely stays neutral. He's got a full plate ahead of him. Right now, he's probably concentrating on that.

O'BRIEN: Yes, he's a little bit through first.

Mack McLarty, nice to have you with us this morning. We appreciate your time.

MCLARTY: My pleasure. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Ahead, a new bipartisan plan is being announced today for sweeping immigration reform. Does it have a chance of getting passed? What would be the sticking point? Coming up, we'll talk to Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez and Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart will be my guests.

Also, message from a sheriff in Wisconsin: everybody, arm yourselves. Sheriff David Clark, Jr. is going to join us up next to tell us why he's asking folks to learn how to shoot.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. A sheriff in Wisconsin is encouraging his citizens to get in the game, learn how to use a gun. Milwaukee County sheriff, David Clark Jr. says you can't count on law enforcement officials because of cutbacks. So, there's this new radio ad, and some people find it very surprising. Here's a little part of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE OF SHERIFF DAVID A. CLARKE, JR., MILWAUKEE COUNTY SHERIFF: With officers laid off in furloughed simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back, but are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course and handling a firearm so you could defend yourself until we get there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Wow. Wow! Sheriff Clarke joins us. He's in Monterey, California where he's attending a conference on homeland security. It's nice to have you with us, sheriff. We appreciate your time. What's the goal in this, because it's kind of scary? Is it to scare people? Is it to get everybody to run out and buy a gun?

CLARKE: Well, good morning, first of all. The only thing that's scary is the criminal element, and I think the people in Milwaukee County understand that. There are certain situations, and I think most people get that where 911 is going to be of no use. For instance, once the wolf is at the door, once the intruder is inside your home, once you're on the street and someone sticks a gun in your face to take your car or your wallet, you don't have the option of calling 911.

And in those situations, there are certain things that you can do to protect yourself. It's a public safety message, and I'm just here to let the people know, give them the information as to what's going on and to give them options, if you will, as to how to defend themselves in those situations --

O'BRIEN: Give me some details about the area that you're in charge of. I mean, you talked about furlough. How many officers do you have, deputies, do you have? How many have been furloughed? How much crime have you had?

CLARKE: I have about 350 sworn law enforcement officers, and last year, with the budget cut, I had to lay off 42 people. The city of Milwaukee Police Department that I work with in conjunction with them anyway for public safety in Milwaukee County, this year is furloughing 1,500 officers three days each. That's 4,500 fewer officer days that will be spent on the street. At the same time, the crime continues to go on.

There's a burglary and robbery problem that's been going on for a long time in the city of Milwaukee, and the calls for service continue to get in. So, at some point, there is a breaking point. So, there are certain situations, and I talked about inside your home or if you're on the street. And you know, this is something that I've been doing for 35 years in terms of educating people as to what they can do in certain situations.

And I said at the end of that ad, we're partners now. You know, we've always -- we're always out there telling the public we want to be your partner. We want to work with you. We want you to work with us. We never define a role for them, and that's what this does.

O'BRIEN: But you know, I know so many sheriffs and law enforcement officials who say one of the things that is most risky for their deputies and for their officers is civilians who are armed and not necessarily well-trained, and certainly as much as they are, to be using a weapon. Here's what the police chief in Chicago said.

"You put more guns on the street, expect more shootings. I don't care if they're licensed, legal firearms. People who are not highly trained, putting guns in their hands is a recipe for disaster." And he's not the only one I've heard that from. There are a lot of people in law enforcement who feel like that's actually bad for the officers to have civilians who are armed.

CLARKE: Well, that's fine. That's his opinion. He's in charge of the city of Chicago as it relates to public safety. I trust law abiding citizens. The people that scare me, Soledad, are the criminal elements, the ones who have demonstrated time and time again that they will use a firearm to commit a crime. Those are the people that law enforcement officers fear the most.

So, that's why I mention in this ad, if you're going to arm yourself, if you're going to own a firearm -- and the firearms are out there, anyway. Last estimate, I've heard, 300 million guns in circulation in the United States and 115 million gun owners in the United States. So, we're not putting any more guns on the street. The guns are already there.

My message is for law abiding citizens in certain situations, not to go out and enforce the law. I said inside your home when the wolf's at the door and the intruder comes in or someone sticks a gun in your face when you're on the street to take your property. There are certain things that you can and should do to protect yourself. It's always been my belief that personal safety is an individual responsibility.

O'BRIEN: Sheriff David Clarke Jr. is a Milwaukee County sheriff. Nice to have you with us, sir. We appreciate your time.

CLARKE: Well, thank you again.

O'BRIEN: You bet. Our pleasure.

(CROSSTALK)

CHARLES BLOW, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A PSA for not cutting law enforcement. If you have your druthers -- even what he's saying, it's mostly because of cutbacks in actual, you know, police being able to do the job. And now, you're deferring that responsibility to people who are not necessarily trained as much.

And even if you go out and get trained to how to use it, you know, using it in a real situation becomes a very different thing, and it has a cost associated because gun violence has its own cost. It is extraordinarily high.

CHRIS JOHN FARLEY, EDITOR AND WRITER, WSJ SPEAKEASY BLOG: It's a serious issue, but you know, it's a very dramatic ad. I thought it was like an ad about the last stand too, in terms of the way he was talking about things and the drama in his voice. It seemed very, very dramatic.

O'BRIEN: Later this week, Anderson is going to be talking about gun control, talking to both sides in the debate, "Guns Under Fire," an "AC 360" town hall special. That's on Thursday at 8:00 p.m. eastern.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, trending this morning, Adele's father is speaking out after selling a story. Come on, dad. Selling a story about his daughter? We'll have details on that when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Taking a look at the top CNN trending stories this morning.

Superstar Adele's father selling a story about his daughter to the "Daily Mail." His names is Mark Evans (ph). He tells the paper that he's tried to reach out to Adele with no success. He's not allowed to see his grandson. I'm going to give you a clue why. Evan says that he won't watch the Oscars even though he knows Adele will win for her bond theme, "Skyfall." Talking to the "Daily Mail" will not help any of that, sir.

Also, iPad 4 is now more fortified with more memory. That could be Apple's next big thing. Reports say they're readying a new fourth generation iPad release with as much as 128 gigabytes memory. According to sources, it wouldn't be a new Apple design, but in addition to the current line, same color, same wireless combinations as the current iPad.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, some breaking news about that deadly club fire in Brazil. Apparently, arrests now being made. We'll tell you who's been held and also what could be a breakthrough in immigration reform.

We're going to talk to Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez and Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart about this new bipartisan proposal. That's ahead.

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