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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Burnt Body Found After Accused Killer has Shootout with Police; President Delivers State of the Union Address; GOP Senators Threaten Filibuster; Pope Benedict Speaks Today; Carnival Cancels Next Two Cruises;

Aired February 13, 2013 - 07:00   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. New overnight: charred human remains have been found, but are they the remains of Christopher Dorner? We've got live team coverage this morning. An expert insight into the unfolding drama.

And President Obama lays out his vision for the nation in the State of the Union address. His big promise? Getting Congress to act on gun control.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The families of Newtown deserve a vote.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: The families of Aurora deserve a vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Also this morning, the two GOP responses. We'll dig into those as well.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also new this morning, Pope Benedict XVI speaks out for the first time since his shocking resignation. What he told his followers as they celebrate Ash Wednesday.

Plus, more than 4,000 people on that stranded cruise ship slowly being pulled to shore right at this very minute and it is frankly gross out there. We have the latest.

O'BRIEN: It's Wednesday, February 13th. A special edition of STARTING POINT, coming to you live from Washington D.C., begins right now.

Welcome, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're coming to you from the nation's capita capital. From raising the minimum to gun control we have complete coverage from the president's state of the union address. That's ahead.

First, though, we want to get right to developments in the manhunt for an accused killer Christopher Dorner. Overnight charred remains have been inside in that burned out cabin where law enforcement was exchanging gunfire with a suspect believed to be Dorner. The body though has not yet been identified. And it could be a while before there is a positive ID.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMANDER ANDREW SMITH, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Recovering bodies out of burned buildings as you may know is very difficult and difficult to identify the remains of someone in a building and that could take days or possibly even weeks to do DNA analysis or forensic dent analysis, depending on the condition of the body.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Police spent six days looking for the body around Big Bear Lake. We have a look at how the search went and led to this point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fires, 445 shots fire.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A hail of bullets, police radio captured the moment. A cabin burning to the ground and fugitive ex- cop Christopher Dorner believed inside. The first Dorner report came midday. The "L.A. Times" reports two maids cleaning a home were tied up their car stolen. The first law enforcement to spot the suspect in the stolen car were two fish and wild life officers.

PATRICK FOX, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE: First was a purple Nissan, which he ultimately appeared to have been driving too fast, lost control of the vehicle, crashed it, carjacked the second white pickup and was fleeing the scene, which is when our warden noticed them. He was so close, they recognized his face.

LAH: The suspected cop killer Christopher Dorner. The suspect opened fire, narrowly missing the officers. They chased the truck to this cabin. As they began the approach, the man inside opened fire, the gunfight captured by a local news reporter's cellphone. Radio calls from the officers.

(GUNSHOTS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Returning fire.

LAH: And then the heart-sinking call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officer down, officer down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have an officer down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Medic ship in the air. Medic ship in the air. Officer down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another officer down. SHERIFF JOHN MCMAHON, SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY: One of our deputies was injured. Being treated here at Loma Linda, and, unfortunately, one of our deputies passed away as a result of his injuries.

JODI MILLER, SHERIFF SPOKESPERSON: All law enforcement agencies are a brotherhood, so this is a very difficult day, again, for law enforcement.

LAH: Law enforcement closed down all roads in and out, searching cars leaving the mountain. Back of the cabin, officers so no one leave, then this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More ammo going off.

CINDY BACHMAN, SHERIFF'S SPOKESWOMAN: The person that barricaded himself inside the cabin and engaged in gunfire with deputies and other law enforcement officers is still inside.

LAH: The cabin burned to the ground, the suspect believed still inside. San Bernardino sheriff's department confident enough to drop roadblocks even as they wait for identification that LAPD's largest manhunt has come to an end.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Again, news breaking overnight. Charred human remains found in that burned out cabin. They have not been identified just yet.

We're also getting new details this morning about how officers were able to finally track Dorner down finally the frantic 10 day search. Paul Vercammen is live from Big Bear, California. Paul, police were focused on that area for nearly a week. How did they finally get their break?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is no doubt in my mind, police were actually right by the very house where two maids go to clean, and then inside to their shock here is this lethal fugitive. He heads down highway 38 and it's two fish and wild life wardens who's spot Dorner closed trailing two school bus, and trying to get up on the bumper of one and use those buses as cover and then from there, they were able to chase him down to the cabin where it appears he met his demise.

BERMAN: Paul, we're talking about an ex-police officer. We're also talking about two police officers that he is accused or believed to have killed. So what is the mood of the law enforcement there now?

VERCAMMEN: It is absolutely bittersweet. In talking to a lieutenant here on this hill, he said, look, we're not out here giving each other high fives and congratulations. We're all so saddens by the loss of these officers and the people Dorner has killed, not all officers, and it's hanging over us. But you could also hear the moments of people saying, yes, I think we've got our man.

BERMAN: Thank you, Paul.

VERCAMMEN: Chief Tom Manger is a former police chief of Fairfax County, Virginia. Of course they were dealing with the manhunt for the beltway sniper in 2002. These are obviously very different cases, but I think there are similarities it comes to a community very fearful and trying to track down people -- you had many fewer clues than the LAPD had.

CHIEF TOM MANGER, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: My guess, there is a great deal of similarities in terms of the public fear, that, you know, folks that were around here ten years ago remember the knot in their stomach for a period of three weeks, and folks were changing their daily routines.

O'BRIEN: Ducking down when you fill up your car with gas, you felt like someone is watching me, they will shoot at me. What kind of clues -- what did you learn from the experience that you think the LAPD is going to apply what looks like is bringing to an end in California.

MANGER: A couple things. One, they had to set up an information center where they could take tips in the public. The case in California had the advantage. They knew who they were looking for. We didn't know who we were looking for a long time. They also had several different searches going on. You had the very public search where you had the man's picture out asking for the public's health help if they saw them. You have officers following up on the tips they received. But you also had a more stealth search, undercover folks, plain clothes folks out there looking for him, hoping they would spot him before he spotted them.

BERMAN: How does it change things for you when police are actually the targets here?

MANGER: That is a huge issue. I can tell you for the week this thing has been going on, there was very little normal police officer that was going on. Every police officer involved had their head on a swivel, constantly just relentless pleasure just looking around. That's why they paired folks up to increase their safety.

But I can tell you that the cops weren't thinking about enforcing traffic laws or doing the normal thinks, and yet police service had to go on. People calling about their homes being broken into or had to respond to normal calls, but I will tell you, nothing was normal about the response during this time?

O'BRIEN: What happened next? They will identify the body which we heard could take weeks, which seems a long time in a day and age where you could do dental records and do this quickly.

MANGER: They'll make some preliminary decisions and know 99.99 percent that this is the individual. They are pretty sure right now it's Dorner. One of the things that's happening a lot of folks that got their first good night's sleep last night.

O'BRIEN: My goodness, I bet. MANGER: And there will be a human sense of relief throughout the public as well.

O'BRIEN: Law enforcement and the community as well. Thank you for being with us. We appreciate your insight on this.

MANGER: Thank you.

BERMAN: So we are in Washington for the state of the union address and Mr. Obama sure sounded like a candidate last night and this morning president Obama hits the road for the first of a campaign style trip to drum up support for his State of the Inion proposals. A CNN/ORC poll found that 53 percent of Americans had a very positive reaction to the speech, 24 percent somewhat, 22 percent negative. CNN's Briana Keilar is live for us this morning at the White House. Good morning, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. President Obama said last night deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan. And you are right, certainly echoes of the campaign. He talked about everyone deserving a fair shot and investing in the middle class. He talked a lot about that, with investments in education, clean energy, and an increase in the minimum wage, some economic proposals that Republicans were quick to reject.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OBAMA: We can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger.

KEILAR: In the first state of the union address of his second term, President Obama aimed a slate of new proposals aimed at improving the lives of the middle class, taking on everything from universal preschool education to repairing the nation's aging infrastructure to addressing the threat of climate change. He urged Congress to put partisan differences aside on the issue of immigration and to stay focused on a plan to jumpstart the nation's lethargic economy.

OBAMA: The American people have worked too hard for too long rebuilding from one crisis to see their elected officials cause another.

KEILAR: Renewing an unfulfilled promise from his first presidential campaign, Obama asked Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.

OBAMA: Let's declare in the wealthiest nation on earth no one who works full time should have to live in poverty. Let's tie the minimum wage to the cost of living so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.

KEILAR: In the moment of the night the president called on Congress to vote for tougher gun legislation, stepped up background checks, and an assault weapons plan.

OBAMA: Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote.

(APPLAUSE)

KEILAR: On national security, the president warned of the threats posed by enemy hackers. And adding long-sought details of the pace of the drawdown in Afghanistan, he announced plans to bring home half the troops serving there by this time next year.

OBAMA: Another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan this drawdown will continue, and by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.

(APPLAUSE)

KEILAR: How will all of this be paid for? The president vowed.

OBAMA: Nothing I'm proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: But there was no price tag, and the White House says dollars and cents will be fleshed out next month when President Obama unveils his budget.

BERMAN: Brianna Keilar at the White House this morning, thanks very much.

O'BRIEN: It was Republican Senator Marco Rubio giving the Republican response to the State of the Union address. Among Republican voters who took the dial test, wait to measure if they like what he's saying, Rubio scored the biggest points when he talked about big government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: The idea that more taxes and more government spending is the best way to help hard working middle class taxpayers an old idea that's failed every time it has been tried. More government won't help you get ahead. It will hold you back. More government isn't going to create more opportunities. It's going to limit them. And more government isn't going to inspire new ideas, new businesses, and new private-sector jobs. It's going to create uncertainty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Republican Senator Rand Paul gave the Tea Party response. He chastised both parties for spending too much. But unlike Rubio he also talked about limiting the reach of the federal government. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: What America needs is not Robin Hood but Adam Smith. In the year we won our independence, Adam Smith described what creates the wealth of nations. He described a limited government that largely did not interfere with individuals in their pursuit of happiness. All that we are, all that we wish to be is now threatened by the notion that you can have something for nothing, that you can have your cake and eat it too, that you can spend $1 trillion every year that you don't have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Rand Paul will talk with Erin Burnett tonight. The interview will air on "Erin Burnett Out Front" at 7:00 p.m. eastern time.

Let's get to some other news. Zoraida has that in New York with the rest of the top stories. Hey, Z, Good morning.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you.

And new this morning, six people arrested over new phone hacking allegations at Rupert Murdoch's now defunct "News of the World Tabloid." London police say today's arrests are part of a separate conspiracy to hack phones in 2005 and 2006. Several top Murdoch executives were arrested and charged in an earlier probe.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrating what will likely be his last public mass today on Ash Wednesday, but before mass at St. Peter's Basilica, he greeted thousands of his faithful in the square. He thanked them in several languages and said it would be inappropriate to stay on as Pope.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPE BENEDICT XVI: I have done this in full freedom for the benefit of the church. I have prayed for a long time and I have examined before god my conscience, fully aware of the gravity and seriousness of such acts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: We're going to have a live report from Vatican City in about 10 minutes from now.

And some GOP senators threatening a filibuster this morning after former senator Chuck Hagel cleared a major hurdle to becoming the next defense secretary. The Senate armed services committee narrowly approved the controversial nomination. No Republicans on the panel backed the former Nebraska GOP senator. Hagel's nomination now moves to the full Senate for a vote, expected to happen this week, maybe as early as tonight.

And four players on University of Alabama's national championship football team arrested. Safety Eddie Williams, linebacker Tyler Hayes and defensive lineman D.J. Pettway are accused of robbing two students on campus. A fourth player, running back Brent Calloway charged with credit card fraud. Head coach Nick Saban says all four are suspended indefinitely from the team.

Banana Joe wins best in show. Take a look at this. Is he adorable or what? Affenpinscher took home the crown at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, and Joe is going out on the top. The tippy top. Westminster, his final competition. He beat out five other dogs. And I know, John Berman, this makes you incredibly sad this morning.

BERMAN: He's a cute affenpinscher as far as affenpinschers go, I just feel like, you know, but we should recognize the labs and golden retrievers.

O'BRIEN: I have never heard of the affenpinscher, but that's cute dog.

BERMAN: There will be a run on affenpinschers today. Seriously what happens every year after the dog show is there's usually a run on these dogs that win.

O'BRIEN: I think I want an affenpinscher.

SAMBOLIN: I'll do some research for you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Thank you. Appreciate that. Make sure they are good pets for kids.

Stuck in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. The story we've been covering for days now. Almost no working bathrooms, thousands of people stuck on board a stranded cruise ship. Starting to head home this morning with help from tug boats. We'll hear from a mom who has a little daughter and they are stuck on board.

BERMAN: Just awful.

Meanwhile, the pope speaks for the first time this morning since his bombshell resignation. Live in Rome with what he had to say just now.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Some new tales of really horrific conditions on that Carnival cruise ship being towed back to the United States out of the Gulf of Mexico. According to reports, the toilets overflowing, they are running out of food. Here is one passenger describing just how bad it is.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is sewage, raw sewage. When you walk in the hallways, you have to cover your face, it's disgusting.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: A little bit of good news. A second tug has arrived. Passengers say the boat at least is moving in the right direction. Victor Blackwell is live for us in Mobile, Alabama. That's where the ship is headed now and expected to arrive tomorrow. Victor, good morning.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. Good morning, John, as well. This boat is expected to come here tomorrow afternoon, moving along in the Gulf of Mexico at six knots, about 7 miles per hour, and once it gets to the Mobile Pass, it's still another 33 miles to port and once those 3, 100 passengers arrive here, we're told by the Carnival -- the cruise port director, that it should be about 2 1/2 hours for the de-embarkation process. Those people will either go to local hotels to get a hot shower, rest up, and then get on planes to go back to Houston. Some will get on motor coaches, and they will then drive to Houston and Galveston to go back home. We spoke to two moms, Kim and Mary, they are from Lufkin, Texas. They drove overnight, were here by 4AM. They have two daughters, 10 and 12 on this ship. Kim spoke to her 10-year-old daughter, and she says that they were eating onion sandwiches on the day after the fire on the ship that took out the engines. And they were asked to relieve themselves into plastic bags. Listen to Mary describe her discussion with her daughter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARY PORET, MOTHER OF PASSENGER: She called me hysterical, screaming, and crying that she was so scared and she was scared not only for the -- what was happening on board, but she was afraid she would never get to see her mama again and for me to be at work and to hear that from my 12-year-old daughter I was devastated, and there was nothing I could do. Nothing I could do. I got her to calm down, I talked to her as long as she would stay on the phone, as long as she could. And when we said good-bye, it was very hard. I didn't know if I would see her or talk to her again. It's very hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: And Carnival has canceled two cruises after this one and they will have to determine what went wrong here. There is a shipyard that can repair the problem, if necessary. Soledad, John.

O'BRIEN: Oh my God, Victor, that's terrible. You listen to that mom describe that, just breaks your heart. Wow.

Victor, thank you. Appreciate the update. Ashleigh Banfield I should mention is going to be talking to that mom a little bit more in a longer interview about the circumstances that her little daughter is facing today.

BERMAN: That should be really, really interesting. Meanwhile, for the first time since his historic resignation announcement Pope Benedict speaks, what he told more than 1 billion followers this morning about his shocking plans.

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BERMAN: Welcome back, everybody. Pope Benedict XVI speaking to Catholics around the world this morning on Ash Wednesday, and of course it's the first time he has spoken since announcing his resignation. Jim Bittermann is following all these developments live from Rome this morning. Good morning Jim

JIM BITTERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it was a regular papal audience this morning, but a lot more people than usual. I think a lot of people wanted to be there to see the pope. He began his message this morning by talking about his decision to resign, and he was greeted with tumultuous applause from the audience. He said that he thanked them for their prayers and for their love and hoped that they would continue to pray for him and his successor. We've been hearing details about exactly how the pope's last days in the Vatican will be spent. Among other things, he is going to be meeting with Italian political leaders and over the next two weeks that he still has before he leaves office. Perhaps the most interesting detail is that on the 27th, just the day before he leaves there'll be another papal audience like this morning except this will be outside in St. Peter's square, because they are expecting large crowds, and on the 28th, he will meet with cardinals for lunch and then at 5:00 in the afternoon get into a papal helicopter and fly off to (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: Wow, Jim. A good-bye lunch and then he flies off in a helicopter. Jim Bittermann, in an absolutely gorgeous Rome this morning with St. Peter's behind you, thank you for being with us.

O'BRIEN: Our other top story this morning, charred remains found out in the burned out cabin where police believe the suspect Christopher Dorner was hiding. Is the case really over? A former FBI negotiator is going to join us up next.

BERMAN: Then a teen steals a school bus and goes on a joyride. Why he said he did it. It will have you shaking your head for certain.

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