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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Interview with Congressman Joe Garcia of Florida; X-Games Competitor in Critical Condition After Accident; Casey Anthony, Paralegal?; A Soldier's Double Arm Transplant; Fan Makes $75,000 Shot, Tackled By Lebron

Aired January 29, 2013 - 06:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Momentum builds for immigration reform. We're just moments away from talking to one of the lawmakers behind a bipartisan plan in the Senate.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: He's the X-Games athlete who walked away from this violent snowmobile crash. This morning, his condition has taken a turn.

CHO: And Casey Anthony plotting a return to the courtroom. But this time not as a defendant.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. It's 31 minutes after the hour. I'm Alina Cho.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It's 30 minutes past the hour. So, come on, everybody. Get moving.

Optimism this morning that the country will finally, finally see immigration reform. The president is expected to talk about his plan in Las Vegas, and we now have a sweeping proposal put forth by a bipartisan group of senators that would put millions of undocumented immigrants on the road to being citizens, or at least being here legally.

Senator Chuck Schumer said the time is finally right for a deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: This will be the year congress finally gets it done. Politics on this issue have been turned upside down. For the first time ever, there's more political risk in opposing immigration reform than in supporting it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Joining us now to discuss the proposed plan, Congressman Joe Garcia, Democrat from Florida. He serves on the House Subcommittee of Immigration and Border Security.

Oh, we have been here before, sir. We have been here in 2010. We were here in 2005, 2006, when the only agreement you could get was to build a wall,

REP. JOE GARCIA (D), FLORIDA: Exactly.

ROMANS: And the last major, major immigration reform was 1986 when then-President Ronald Reagan said we have now fixed America's immigration problems. And there were maybe 2 million people in the country illegally then. There are 11 million now.

Is this the year to get it done and done right?

GARCIA: I think so. I'm very, very excited about the prospect here. I think the work that's been done by the senators gives us a great framework to start from. I think it's where we are working on immigration reform and had been working towards. So I think it puts us in a very good place.

I think you probably will see legislation come out of the Senate, most certainly and probably out of the House and we'll have legislation by the end of summer.

ROMANS: Here is the framework I guess that we're talking about right now -- a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally right now, strengthening the borders, improving the tracking of visitors. As you know, a large percentage of people in the country illegally simply overstay their visas.

GARCIA: Almost half.

ROMANS: And a new employment verification system. How important is it for all of these things to be done well, again, so it's not like 1986, where Congress and the president think they fixed it, only have to address it again 20 years later?

GARCIA: Well, look, without question, countries of success throughout all times are countries that bring immigrants. It's a good sign. It's a sign of vitality and health of the country.

But, obviously, we need to know who is here, why they are here, and whether we want to keep them. We have to choose as Americans, not them.

So I think in this process, that's what we're going for. You know, clearly half of the people here, people who overstayed their visas, not coming to a border, but who flew in.

The other issue that we have to look at is we look at this as to give discretion back to judges, so that judges can fix little problems along the way.

You know, a huge portion of those folks that are here, almost 5 million, are people who under the old system would have been able to get legalized because they married an American or other reasons would have been given. But because they have committed some act of coming in illegally, overstaying their visa, they have to go out of the country and wait years to get back in. Obviously, they don't want to do that. They want to be with their families. And so, when we fix this, I think we'll fix it for long term. And I think the elements are in place, we're in a go ahead place here.

And we've got to fix this. This is costing us $18 billion, the system.

ROMANS: You know --

GARCIA: That's more than we spend on drug enforcement. It's more than we spend on the FBI. Clearly, we spend a lot of money, we got net zero right now, but we need a system that works because we've got to capture these --

ROMANS: Let me tell you, where there seems to be the most consensus and enthusiasm quite frankly is some sort of a plan to allow more people who come here and study for STEM -- science, technology, and math, people who get into high tech degrees.

You do have two conversations. You have a conversation about, you know, some who want would derive as amnesty, but a pathway to citizenship. That's one story.

The other story here, though, is there seems to be more consensus about bringing skilled workers in. Do you think that's where you'll see the move first?

GARCIA: Let's not overstate that. People educated in the United States -- and, obviously, the greatest post-graduate university system on earth. So, we get people from all over the world.

But some of those very bright people who want to stay, we should capture, because we certainly don't want them going somewhere else and being our competition, right? So, we should capture them.

In areas where we need specifically skilled workers, where we don't have enough Americans --

ROMANS: Right.

GARCIA: -- I don't mind for a while that we pick up some of those people. But we have to have the vision to train up our own people, to educate our own people, to give our own people opportunities. But in limited times, in times where we need folks, absolutely.

Just like, for example, in the agricultural field, where we need workers. We don't have enough American workers or American workers aren't willing to do it, we need a program where we can work here and go back.

ROMANS: Congressman Joe Garcia, thank you so much. Nice to see you. I'm sure we'll be speaking with you again because --

GARCIA: Looking forward to it.

ROMANS: -- this will be a long, complicated process, no question.

Alina?

CHO: Thirty-six minutes after the hour. President Obama vowing to sign a $50 billion hurricane Sandy relief bill as soon as it hits its desk. The Senate approved it yesterday four weeks after a delay that triggered bipartisan fury of those lawmakers along the Northeast.

The package includes grants for homeowners and businesses, along with funding for public improvement projects on the electrical grid, hospitals and transit systems. Senators denied an effort to require budget cuts elsewhere to offset the cost.

ROMANS: Let's take a look at top stories trending this morning on CNN.com.

The prognosis not good for Winter X-Games snowmobiler Caleb Moore following his horrific crash last week in Aspen. Moore now in critical condition in Grand Junction, Colorado. He underwent heart surgery on Friday. Doctors say he is experiencing a secondary complication involving his brain.

Moore's grandfather tells "The Denver Post", quote, "It's almost certain he is not going to make it."

CHO: She is still in hiding but if she ever resurfaces, Casey Anthony's attorney says she might consider a career as a paralegal. That's right, folks. The attorney says Anthony has seen how the legal system works up close. That's for sure.

The 26-year-old was acquitted on murder charges in the death of her daughter, Caylee. Still, the attorney admits that any paralegal future is a long way off. He says, quote, "You don't go from being the most hated woman in the world to living a normal life."

ROMANS: All right. She's finished being the queen. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands announcing that after 33 years on the throne, she is ready to pass it on to her eldest son, a 45-year-old William Alexander will take over in this is a largely ceremonial role. He will become king starting April 30th.

She says her 75th birthday and the 200th anniversary of the kingdom of the Netherlands was the reason behind her decision. And you know, I think her mother advocated for her to become queen as well. So, passing on.

CHO: That's a nice thing, and one happy 45-year-old.

Foam party on the beach. Check this out -- windy conditions off the coast of Australia, turning up big waves and, yes, what we're seeing there, is plenty of sea foam. It looks like a washing machine overflow doesn't it, all over the beach there.

Those aren't soap bubbles, just sea foam -- so much foam that it's hard to see the water. Another reason to travel to Australia.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Beautiful pictures there in Australia, where it's not the dead of winter there.

It's the first sign of Hillary 2016 movement. Really, the first sign? I don't know. No, not the first sign. The brand new super PAC on the block, coming up.

CHO: First big sign maybe. Plus, who needs a moving van when have you pedal power? We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Welcome back. John Berman and Brooke Baldwin in for Soledad this morning. John is here with the preview.

Hey. Good morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It was just yesterday, I was sitting right there.

We have a big show ahead on "STARTING POINT" right now. Immigration reform, we have comprehensive coverage of everything going on today. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn and New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez will be here, all weighing in on these major proposals happening right now.

Plus, is your college education paying off? Why you may be overqualified for your job. That's something no one has ever said to me, actually.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: It's one of my favorites this award season. The director and screenwriter behind "Silver Linings Playbook," David O. Russell will be here. I think the O stands for "On the way to an Oscar" probably. But he's coming in.

CHO: Yes, that's right. Have you seen the movie?

BERMAN: I haven't. I heard it's fantastic.

CHO: Oh, man, that and "Argo" -- my two favorites.

BERMAN: We're very excited to him. He's a big time director, one of the hottest directors in Hollywood.

CHO: I'm excited. I may stick around for that.

Thank you, John.

ROMANS: All right. The skies could erupt across the South this morning. This threat of some powerful thunderstorms, maybe tornadoes, Jennifer Delgado, tracking this extreme weather threat for us, and you have so much to report. Give me the lowdown.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. You know, we're already seeing severe storms popping up right now through parts of eastern Texas, as well as into central and western parts of Oklahoma. We do have a tornado watch in effect until noon central time.

Now, we're talking about some of the storms becoming very strong and some isolated tornadoes popping up. You're going to see for yourself, a lot more lightning starting to pop up and you can also see down towards the South, through parts of Texas, just to the west of Wichita Falls, more of those storms are really starting to develop as we go through the morning hours.

Now, as we show you the graphic here, we want to talk about the severe weather threat. Anywhere in yellow, this is our slight risk category for today. That extends for parts of Illinois, all the way down to Houston. And in the orange shading, that is our moderate threat. And this is the area that we're really concerned about for Arkansas, as well as Louisiana and western parts of Mississippi.

As we go through, later on this afternoon, as well as into the evening hours, these storms are going to be firing up. But we're really concerned, if you see, stop the clock around midnight. Look what's going to be happening. We are going to see the squall line developing from parts of Houston, all the way up towards Chicago.

We point this out, because so many people are sleeping at that hour. You need to have that NOAA weather radio for your own safety.

As we go through Wednesday morning, the storms over toward the east. But we're not done with all of this until Thursday. And we're talking two to four inches of rain, as well as snow on the back side.

We'll send it back over to you both to you guys. But it's going to be wild here. I know it's going to be hot across parts of the Northeast in comparison to last week, and a very busy --, short lived.

CHO: All right. Thank you.

If Hillary Clinton decides to run for president in 2016, she will have ready-made fund-raising. The super PAC Ready for Hillary plans to launch its Web site in the next couple of weeks. The group already has 50,000 followers on Twitter, and its leader says, "We haven't really done anything yet."

Before Hillary steps down officially as secretary of state, our Wolf Blitzer will conduct her exit interview. That's coming up today, 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

ROMANS: A soldier who lost his arms and legs while fighting in Iraq is now recovering from a double arm transplant. Doctors performed the surgery on Brendan Marrocco last month at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He'll talk to reporters later today at a press conference, but Marrocco's already made a few comments on Twitter.

His Twitter handle is @bmarr 86. The wounded warrior says his new arms already move a little and that "I feel like I finally get to start over." And the pictures you're seeing are the pictures that he tweeted out of his new arms.

CHO: That is incredible. ROMANS: There they are.

CHO: Tightrope walker Nik Wallenda has a treat for his hometown fans. CNN affiliate WSLA says Wallenda, who grew up in Sarasota, Florida, will perform for his friends and neighbors later today. Wallenda will walk on a wire suspended 180 feet over highway U.S. 41.

Wallenda will be working without a net or harness that he usually does, but he will not be putting any unsuspecting drivers at risk. Part of the highway will be shut down during his walk.

ROMANS: All right. Need to move, but you can't get your hands on a van? That's not a problem in Portland, Oregon. An episode of the show "Portlandia" showed folks doing a move by bike, and they weren't kidding. On Saturday, 70 people cleaned out a house using nothing but bike power, managed to move the stuff across the city, a ten-mile trip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM FORSBERG, CYCLIST: It's the fastest move overall you can do, because instead of, you know, maybe two friends and a pickup truck trying to haul everything in over the course of several hours. You have 69 people here. You can get everything inside in a matter of minutes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Well, that's cool. The move was organized on Facebook. The bikes started arriving around 11:30 a.m. at the first house, and they had it all wrapped up by 3:00 p.m.

CHO: That is so Portland, Oregon. You know, that's my hometown.

ROMANS: It's so green. Isn't that green?

CHO: It's so Portland, Oregon.

ROMANS: No idling truck.

CHO: Good for them.

ROMANS: No fossil fuels.

(LAUGHTER)

CHO: All right. He hit a shot worth $75,000 and was run over by Lebron James at half court. We will talk live -- there he is -- Michael Drysch, about the moment everyone is talking about. That's next. He's right here in our studio.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Ten minutes before the top of the hour. Big day at the White House for President Obama. The huge NBA fan welcomed the world champion, Miami Heat. Lebron James called the commander in chief, coach. And the Heat star, all a 6'8" of him, was just as giddy as a school boy to be there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI HEAT PLAYER: I mean, these kids from Chicago, Dallas, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, and --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: South Dakota.

JAMES: South Dakota.

(LAUGHTER)

JAMES: Miami, I mean, we're in the White House right now. This is like, all right, mom, I made it.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Lebron also showed some incredible enthusiasm on Friday night when a fan made this once in a lifetime shot. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Mike. Here we go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: That was Lebron tackling Mike Drysch after winning $75,000 for that half court shot. Improbable. James was just as happy, because that shot meant that Carmex, the lip balm company that sponsored the contest, would also give 75,000 grand to Lebron James foundation for the Boys and Girls Club of America.

So, we are very happy to say that Michael Drysch, computer technician from Illinois and now half court hero, joins us live. Now, I got to have you take me back to that moment when you made the shot and Lebron tackled you. Did you see him coming? What were you thinking?

(LAUGHTER)

MICHAEL DRYSCH, WON $75,000 FOR HALF-COURT SHOT: You saw his face there. I knew it was right away.

CHO: And you had never met him before, right?

DRYSCH: No.

CHO: That was your first interaction with him? All 6'8" of him.

DRYSCH: Yes, it was great.

CHO: Tell me about the shot, because I know that you practiced for two days straight, but you only made the shot once and then in front of a crowd of 20,000, the nerves have to set in. I mean, did you ever think it would go in?

DRYSCH: I was hoping it would.

(LAUGHTER)

CHO: Yes. And then, when you saw it sink, what did you think?

DRYSCH: I made it.

(LAUGHTER)

DRYSCH: The one trying I needed to make it.

CHO: $75,000. You're wearing the Carmex sweatshirt right now. You got that check after taxes. It works out to about $52,000. What are you going to do with the money? Have you decided?

DRYSCH: Pay taxes, well, after taxes, I'm going to pay bills and see my mother in Utah. She's Alzheimer's -- has Alzheimer's and my sister is taking care of her and my brother is there. So, get out there and see where it goes from there.

CHO: There's the big check that you got. And I understand you spent some time with the Heat players and also the Heat dancers. I was recently at a Miami Heat game. It is incredible to watch not just the players, but those dancers. Talk about that experience. What was that like and what did the players say to you?

DRYSCH: Just went with the flow there and never experienced that before, obviously. And, so, it was a great feeling.

CHO: Yes, I bet. I bet. You know, you are from Illinois, as I mentioned, just outside of Chicago.

DRYSCH: Wisconsin.

CHO: All right.

DRYSCH: Milwaukee area.

CHO: Milwaukee area. All right. So, tell me, you were a Bulls fan, right?

DRYSCH: Pretty much. Pretty much.

CHO: Not anymore?

(LAUGHTER)

DRYSCH: Yes. You have to cheer for your home team, and they are the champs. And so, I had no problem, you know, going there and doing the thing.

CHO: Well, we are so thrilled for you. This, as you know, has gone viral. Can you believe it? I mean, 100,000 views. I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

CHO: Pretty incredible, right. Mike Drysch, congratulations.

DRYSCH: Thank you.

CHO: If you want, you know, I'm available to take some of that money from you.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Mike, no. You pay your bills. You go see your mother.

(LAUGHTER)

CHO: Congratulations.

DRYSCH: Thanks.

CHO: Enjoy this win and enjoy this moment. We're so glad you came in to spend some time with us.

DRYSCH: Sure.

CHO: All right, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Today's "Best Advice," Alina, from one of the stars of TV's "Mob Wives." That's coming up. We're going to hear from Big Ang.

And if you don't know her, you should. She's one of the most colorful women on television today.

And just minutes away on "STARTING POINT," the bombshell revelation in the Jon Benet Ramsey case.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Wow! What a gorgeous shot. Pink sky there in our nation's capital, Washington, D.C. And welcome back, everybody. Just about one minute before the top of the hour, and we wrap it up as always with "Best Advice."

ROMANS: We asked reality show star, Big Ang, from "Mob Wives" about the "Best Advice" she's ever received, and I'm going to tell you, she's a woman of few words. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIG ANG, MOB WIVE: You pay for what you get.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: You pay for what you get.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: You pay for what you get.

ROMANS: Don't need to tell me that twice.

ROMANS: "You get what you paid for" is what I always say.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: And you pay for what you get. There you go.

CHO: All right. That's EARLY START. I'm Alina Cho. We're so glad you're with us by this Tuesday morning.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. "STARTING POINT" with John Berman and Brooke Baldwin starts right now.