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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Blizzard Bears Down on New England; Travel Delays Abound; Manhunt for Ex-Cop Continues; Controversy Over Christie's Weight; Children's New Dream Job: Entrepreneur

Aired February 8, 2013 - 08:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. A winter storm that could rewrite the history books is now barreling to the northeast. It's happening right now. Take a look at this map, you can see the system moving up the coast. It's expected to bury millions of people in snow from New Jersey to Maine.

Here's a look at New York right now. There's a heavy snow that's falling, could be turned into heavy, heavy snow pretty soon. Things are expected to get, here in New York, about a foot of snow. People are getting ready, lining up at gas stations, really cleaning out the delis and the grocery stores of milk and bread. Air travel already a mess -- more than 3, 200 flights now, scheduled for today and tomorrow, have already been scrubbed.

Meteorologist Jennifer Delgado is tracking the storm for us . Zain Asher from New York's LaGuardia Airport watching things there. Zain, let's start with you.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Soledad. You know, I've been here since 3:30 this morning, and things were relatively calm when I got here, but it's slowly starting to pick up. I don't know if you can see behind me but there lines slowly starting to form at the security checkpoint.

And we're seeing more and more cancellation signs on the departure board. In the past few hours alone, the number of canceled flights risen from 3,200 to 3,300. And that number could, of course, increase in the coming hour. So the bottom line is if you do have travel plans today, especially if you're leaving after 1:00, just make sure you call the airline in advance. You know, showing up at 3:30 this afternoon, crossing your fingers, hoping for the best is simply not going to cut it.

Now let's just pull up our radar map. I just want to show you something. Take a look: You can see blue dots forming across the northeast. Those blue dots represent the number of flights that are currently in the air right now. This is real time, but I hate to say it, but as the storm draws closer, those blue dots are going to get more and more sparse and the number of planes that are going to be grounded is going to increase.

I spoke to a couple who are on their way to Mexico. They originally had a flight this afternoon but they weren't taking any chances. Here's what they had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were watching the storm approach with some trepidation and saw the forecast yesterday. That's when we decided that we weren't going to get out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you couldn't make arrangements really early, I just would stay home. I'd really hate to be in the airport for two or three days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AHSER: And one guy I spoke to said he was on the phone with American Airlines for, wait for it, an hour and a half trying to get his flights switched. Now, he was successful, but that really gives you an idea of just how hectic it is for travelers right now. Soledad.

O'BRIEN: It is amazing because there's nobody behind you and it looks so calm, but you know that's because everybody is trying to figure out the next thing. All right, Zain. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Let's get right to Jnnifer Delgado, meteorologist tracking the storm for us. Where does it start, where does it finish up, and when, Jennifer?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right, Soledad. We're really talking about the calm before the storm right now. As we show you on the radar, notice we're looking at a lot of rain through the Delmarva Peninsula but also starting to see some light snow coming down in Newark as well as into New York City, and more of that spreading into areas like Connecticut and into Rhode Island.

Now, what we're looking at are two storms, one from the north and one from the south. Once we get the temperatures to continue to drop and we get that other storm system coming through, we are talking potentially three feet of snow.

I know Soledad wants to know how that is going to lay out throughout the day. Well, 10:00 a.m., want to show you. The snow starting to work in. By about 4:00, New York City, you're going to be dealing with all snow. It gets heavier in the evening once these two storms start to merge. Late tonight into the overnight hours, that's when that explosion of snow is going to happen.

Now keep in mind this is 4:00 on Friday. Again, trying to travel is really virtually going to be impossible. Into the evening and the overnight hours, Chad Myers is going to be here tracking the storm system with you because that's when we're really going to see the worst of it.

That storm system eventually pulls off the coastline it looks late Saturday, but keep in mind with all these totals, in some locations roughly about three feet, when you combine it in, winds up to 70 miles per hour, that's why we have the blizzard warning in place and they're telling people to don't get on the road. Visibility's going to be down and power outages with the storm system as well. Soledad.

O'BRIEN: What a mess. All right, Jennifer, thanks for watching it for us.

Another big story that we're following for you this morning is this massive manhunt that's underway for a former LAPD police officer. Christopher Dorner is his name; he's accused of launching a violent vendetta against police. A reported sighting that took place in California has turned out to be unfounded. Dorner's accused of killing three people, including a police officer, ever since Sunday.

In an angry online manifesto, he declares war on LAPD officers, their families. Earlier this hour, we spoke with Dorner's college classmate, James Usera, and asked if he had been surprised by Dorner's reported behavior.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES USERA, FORMER CLASSMATE OF CHRISTOPHER DORNER: Nothing about any comment he ever made suggested to me any kind of irrational behavior. Nothing about him was, you know, violent or aggressive or anything that would serve as a predictor of the things that have occurred over the last few days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Officers from nine Southern California counties are now taking part in the search for Christopher Dorner.

Christine Romans has a look at some of the other stories making news for us. Hey, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. The son of a school bus driver killed while protecting students on an Alabama bus says his father died for a purpose. Police say Chuck Poland was shot while trying to prevent Jimmy Lee Dykes from kidnapping even more students on a bus in Midland City last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AARON POLAND, SON OF CHUCK POLAND: Every time my dad got on a bus, it wasn't for transporting somebody else's kids; it was his kids. He took them as his own. Thank god if it did happen, it happened to that bus, because my dad, I believe, was strong enough to do what he need to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Dykes did take a 5-year-old off that bus, held him hostage for nearly a week in an underground bunker. The FBI rescued the boy in a mission that ended with Dykes dead.

New Secretary of State John Kerry hitting the ground running. You're looking at a photo of the former Massachusetts senator at his first Cabinet meeting with the president yesterday. Today, he'll hold bilateral talks with Canada over the controversial $7 billion Keystone Excel oil pipeline, which is still awaiting approval from the State Department.

A Duke University fraternity has been suspended for throwing an Asian- themed party many considered racist and insensitive. Asian-Americans students at the university were simply outraged after pictures of that event, posted on Facebook, showed partygoers dressed in stereotypical attire with some having chopsticks in the hair. The invitations for the party also used language mocking many Asian accents.

Taking your kids out to eat, is that a recipe for disaster for your family? Not if you're these people. Look at this: a family in Washington state shocked to see that a local restaurant knocked $4 off their bill because their kids were so well behaved. The mom, Laura King, posted the receipt on Reddit and it exploded, sparking a debate about parents and how to keep their kids online.

So then she followed up with some tips for other parents on not raising brats. She says, "Take your kids out to eat at least a couple times a month, but give them a snack before you head out. Be sure they're rested and healthy, and notice the people, art, music and food in that room and talk about it."

Isn't that awesome?

O'BRIEN: You should just sit and have a glass of wine and ignore them.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Not that I do that. I'm just saying it could happen. You never. It's worked for me. "Oh, not my kid."

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: All right, let's talk a little bit about the story that we were really fighting -- I think fighting's a fair word -- over yesterday, of this conversation about Governor Christie's weight that has come front and center. We're going to look in just a moment after this short break at the coverage of the governor's size, both the comedy around it and some of the comments from doctors, too.

That's coming up next right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. It's not exactly a secret that New Jersey governor Chris Christie has long struggled with his weight. All the talk about his size heated up after he did this very funny appearance on Letterman where Christie whipped a doughnut out of his pocket and started munching on it.

"The Wall Street Journal" discussed the "politics of Christie's weight". "The Washington Post" wrote that "Chris Christie chews the fat about his weight". "Huffington Post" said "Can you be obese and healthy?"

And it got so intense that when a former White House doctor told Jim Acosta that she was worried that Chris Christie would die in office, the governor went at her. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: People who have a medical license, who have the privilege of having a medical license, should in my view conduct themselves more responsibly than that. If she wants to get on a plane and come here to New Jersey and asks me if she wants to examine me, review my medical history, I'll have a conversation with her about that. Until that time, she should shut up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Let's get right to Howie Kurtz, he's the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES", Washington Bureau chief of "Newsweek", "Daily Beast". Lauren Ashburn is a contributor to "The Daily Beast" and editor-in-chief of "The Daily Downlaod". Nice to have you both with us.

Irresponsible -- do you think that's true? He says she's irresponsible as a doctor who's going out making pronouncements that he may die in office.

LAUREN ASHBURN, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": Thou dost protest too much, Mr. Chrsitie. I think that you are upset about your weight and even though you make a joke about it, that it bothers him. In terms of the actual health problem here, I wrote a piece and I said if he's going to be out there and he's going to be talking about his weight, then it's fair game to talk about the obesity epidemic and the billions of dollars, health care dollars, that are spent on people who are obese.

O'BRIEN: OK, but here's my question. Aren't those two separate things? Yes, I believe Governor Chris Christie is thin-skinned. He clearly is sensitive about his weight, even as he's joking with it. Clearly, it's an issue. He's talked a lot about how he's tried to lose weight.

On the other hand, a doctor who has not examined you, who says something -- what he seemed to take exception to was that she said, "I'm worried he's going to die in office." And he's like, "I have four kids!"

ASHBURN: Did you hear how she said that? She was concerned. She's not saying I'm worried he's going to die in office.

O'BRIEN: That's actually exactly what she said. "I worry he's going to die in office."

ASHBURN: The tone was different.

O'BRIEN: Oh, we continue the argument from yesterday. Howie, what do you think? Are you with me or not?

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": First of all, this story is like candy corn for the media, we cannot get enough. Second of all, by going on Letterman and scarfing a doughnut, Christie opened the door. And I thought it was a brilliant political move to show self-deprecation.

O'BRIEN: It was funny.

KURTZ: OK, but then he completely wiped out any goodwill he got from that by beating up on this doctor, telling her to shut up. Look, it is a television convention that lots of physicians and psychotherapists go on and they make -- they offer opinions about people they've never met. Nobody takes it any more seriously than that. It was overkill on his part.

(CROSSTALK)

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: For a little bit of perspective, to have a doctor saying that, I mean, that just seemed like a little much to someone you who have not met and examined.

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAEL SKOLNIK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GLOBALGRIND.COM: We should be concerned.

BROWNSTEIN: So much of Christie's persona and appeal is the guy from the bleachers shtick that he does. I mean it really is the every man kind of speaking the truth that politicians won't, you know, who'll praise Obama when he deserves.

KURTZ: He's a bully. Mobster.

O'BRIEN: Whoa! He is not and that's a very loaded word. He's not a mobster. He is a guy who's sensitive about his weight.

SKOLNIK: Shut up, get out of here.

O'BRIEN: And guess what, he can be bully. I'm not saying that those things about him are not true. Yes, he definitely -- would I say shut up to someone in a press conference, no. That's Chris Christie for you. On the other side, you have a doctor who says she's going to give this tough talk to her former patients, like President Bill Clinton, and I would say, "You're not his doctor."

And can you imagine? His kids, I agree with him, hearing that, you know, someone just said on TV, Dad that, you're going to die in office.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, HOST, "HUFFPOST LIVE": Well, beyond that, can I just say he's in office now. He's governor of the state. Mind you, with over 70 percent approval rating. If he wants to start a PAC and we know he's running for president we can have this conversation and talk about whether he is fit enough to be president. But he's doing a fine job leading the state of New Jersey.

(CROSSTALK)

ASHBURN: If he does help start a PAC and talk about all of this, shouldn't we be examining his record in Trenton and not talking about his weight? (CROSSTALK)

ASHBURN: What comes out of his mouth, not what goes in his mouth.

SKOLNIK: If you're leader of the free world -- Michelle Obama has been criticized for her Get Move program. She's trying to get kids to lose weight. If you're the leader of the free world and you want young people to look at you and be inspired to be in shape, he is not - he is joking about eating a doughnut.

KURTZ: Right now, he's not running for president. This is all ginned up by the fact political reporters expect him to run in 2016. Secondly, before we beat up on this doctor too much, how about this? What about all the television networks who make decisions to book doctors and put them on the air and ask them about people they've never met? Don't we bear some of the --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Here is the thing. I think any doctor -- it is interesting to find out, I would like to know, somebody who is his size and he says his blood sugar levels are good, he low cholesterol, both of those things, he's healthier than me. I'm diabetic. I have high cholesterol, very, very high cholesterol.

HUNTSMAN: You would never know by looking at you.

O'BRIEN: So he's healthier than me on paper. I'd like a doctor to explain someone of that size can -- a person who is morbidly obese, which he is -- can they be healthy? That's a good question. A doctor could answer that. But giving him advice through the television when you've never examined him seems to me to go too far. I think it's inappropriate.

That said, he's still kind of a bully, I get it. He shouldn't have said shut up, it's rude. You know, I personally would never say that --

HUNTSMAN: In the same sentence -- shut up, Howie, shut up.

O'BRIEN: If you were my kid, I'd be like, that's time-out for you.

(LAUGHTER)

BROWNSTEIN: This is the tipping point where, on the one hand, what makes him attractive as a political figure is the regular guy, voice from the bleachers, Ralph Cramden aspect, and that tips very quickly into other questions like is he a bully? Is he in shape for the job?

SKOLNIK: I agree with Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: And, look, I remember looking at the convention, when he gave the big speech, it didn't work. The regular guy from the bleachers did not scale up to the size of what he needed.

(CROSSTALK) HUNTSMAN: And will that even work on a national level? I mean, is this tone even diplomatic?

(CROSSTALK)

SKOLNIK: But the regular guy should not be obese in this country. He shouldn't be.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

O'BRIEN: And he has talked about how he has tried to lose weight. He's not a guy who's celebrating he's unhealthy. He's saying I'm trying.

SKOLNIK: He ate a doughnut.

O'BRIEN: He was joking with Letterman, give it a break. He has said, "I have struggled to lose weight." He's talked about it a lot.

ASHBURN: He couldn't fit into the chair.

(CROSSTALK)

SKOLNIK: -- eating French fries and ice cream on the boardwalk.

BROWNSTEIN: And political reporters said things like we'll know if Jeb Bush wants to run by president by whether he loses weight. It's not unique to Chris Christie.

ASHBURN: OK, Howie's getting the last word.

KURTZ: Bottom line, Christie wants to talk about. He doesn't seem to want anyone else to talk about it. And doesn't work that way.

O'BRIEN: I would agree with that. That is the bottom line.

ASHUBRN: He needs to toughen up, thicken that skin.

O'BRIEN: Straight ahead this morning...

ASHBURN: I'm going to get hate mail, you know that, right?

O'BRIEN: Yes, you will. From me. I'm writing it right now.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, when you were a kid, did you want to be a firefighter? Did you want to be a doctor? Wait until you hear what kids today say they want to be. We'll tell you straight ahead on STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans, watching your money this morning. Stock futures are mixed as the corporate earnings season winds down. Stocks essentially hitting the pause button this week.

But take a look at the S&P. It's up around 6 percent this year and still within shouting distance of all-time highs.

One high-profile investor suing Apple to give some of its massive cash stockpile back to investors. David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital wants the company to change its policy on preferred stock. He says, quote, "Apple has $145 per share of cash on its balance sheet. As a shareholder, this is your money." Apple stock is down 35 percent after hitting its all-time high of $175 a share back in September. Apple says it will evaluate Einhorn's proposal.

Back in the day, kids wanted to be firefighter, doctors, astronauts. But the new big dream? Entrepreneurs. A January Gallup poll found 43 percent students, grade 5 through 12, said they aspired to be entrepreneurs. Almost 60 percent say their schools offer classes on starting up a business. That's up from about half in 2011

O'BRIEN: That's so interesting. I'd be so curious to know what kind of entrepreneurs they want to be.

ROMANS: Steve Jobs. They want to be tech --

HUNTSMAN: They want to be Mark Zuckerberg.

(CROSSTALK)

HUNTSMAN: They want to be Russell Simmons.

O'BRIEN: I want to be Russell Simmons. We got to take a short break. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: We only have time for one End Point this morning. We can use Michael. I know, I'm sorry, but I see you guys a lot. Michael, come on, what have you got?

SKOLNIK: So my first time on the show was about Trayvon Martin and this week he would have been 18 years old. And on Sunday, hopefully, I'll be able to make it out of New York to go to Miami. The family is having the first annual Trayvon Martin Foundation dinner in Miami honoring his life and his birth and I'll hopefully be there this weekend with the family.

O'BRIEN: As we continue to watch how that case is going, as well. I want to thank you guys for joining me this morning. Certainly appreciate it. Good luck with this weather coming. Everybody stay safe as well.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. We'll see everybody back here on Monday morning.

Let's get to the other show.