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Queen Elizabeth Hospitalized in London; Resident Refused CPR at Living Facility; Florida Wildfires; First Female Kicker Tryout; Mitt Romney Speaks Out; Peter King Slams Senator Rubio; Commemorating the Civil Rights Movement; Bill Cosby, William Bell, and George French Chat

Aired March 4, 2013 - 07:30   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Our team this morning, Christopher John Farley, senior editorial director of Digital Features at "The Wall Street Journal" and editor of "The Speak Easy" blog, your title gets longer and longer every time we have you on.

Former Florida Congressman Connie Mack is with us and his lovely wife, former California Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack. It's nice to have you all with us. Thank you. John Berman has got a look at some of the stories making news this morning. What do you got?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Thanks, Soledad. So anyone who follows the British royalty knows that Queen Elizabeth has long enjoyed really good health. But the 86-year-old monarch is now in a London hospital this morning battling what appears to be a stomach bug.

Buckingham Palace says she was hospitalized yesterday as precautionary measure after showing symptoms of gastroenteritis, very specific word that they chose to use. This can cause dehydration, which is a particular concern among the elderly.

CNN royal correspondent Max Foster joins us now from London. Max, what's the latest?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: John, the palace is playing this down. They are talking about her being in good spirits and in good health even, but this is the first time the queen has been in the hospital for 10 years. She is a very resilient figure. She has been working very recently even on Sunday in the midst of this gastroenteritis.

She had a function at home in Windsor, so this is a surprise. She never cancels public engagements unless she has to. She's canceled all of this week's engagements, including a high-profile visit to Rome as it was meant to be.

Also you refer that to the wording of the one statement that we had. It talks about her suffering from the symptoms of gastroenteritis. Not saying that she is suffering from gastroenteritis. A lot of people are thinking about whether or not they are looking for an underlying condition here. A condition we don't yet know about. We're expecting an update though hopefully today -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Max, we'll wait for that as Queen Elizabeth remains in the hospital. Max Foster for us in London today.

A tragic story this morning here in New York, a young couple expecting a baby were on their way late Saturday to a hospital because the mother to be was not feeling well. But their taxi was broad sided by another car and the couple was killed.

Miraculously, doctors were able to deliver the expectant-mother's baby boy. The driver of the taxi was taken to a hospital, later released, after doctors determined he was not seriously hurt. Pedro Delacruz told reporters he is lucky to be alive.


PEDRO NUNEZ DELACRUZ, LIVERY CAR DRIVER: The only thing I can remember is when somebody was on the side of me, telling me don't worry, don't worry, ambulance is on the way. That's the only thing I remember.


BERMAN: Police are still searching for the occupants of the other car.

There a lot of questions this morning about an independent living facility in Bakersfield, California that refused to administer CPR to an 87-year-old resident. The woman collapsed there last week and no one on staff was willing to try to revive her.

The people who operate Glenwood Gardens say it is their policy not to perform CPR on residents because they are not a nursing home. Listen to the frustrated 911 operator trying desperately to get someone to help.


GLENWOOD GARDENS: "We can't do CPR at this facility."

911 DISPATCHER: Then hand the phone to a passerby. If you can't do it, I need -- hand it to the passerby. I'll have her do it or if you have any citizens there, I'll have them do it. Anybody there can do CPR, give them the phone, please.

I understand if you -- if your facility is not willing to do that. Give the phone to that passerby or that stranger then. This woman is not breathing enough. She's going to die if we don't get this started.


BERMAN: The woman was eventually transported to a hospital, but she later died. Glenwood Gardens defends its policy and says correct protocol was followed.

O'BRIEN: Apparently, she had a do not resuscitate order. And the policy of the community home is to not -- I mean, as awful as it sounds from the outside, to hear a dispatcher begging for someone to come and help, you know, the process of signing a DNR is a very emotionally grueling one, but there is a point to it.

I mean, imagine if they had resuscitated this woman who is almost 90 against the family wishes and she had then lived on a ventilator for the next 10 years against the family wishes and her own wishes. It's an awful story but --

BERMAN: Raising a lot of questions and causing a lot of discussion no doubt.

Right now in Central Florida, it appears crews have the upper hand on a stubborn brushfire that has destroyed at least 10 homes and 14 other structures in the Ocala National Forest.

The fire scorched some 1,900 acres and authorities say it's about 80 percent contained. Meantime, dozens of families in Florida's Volusia County are expected to return home today after officials lifted mandatory evacuation orders.

So she made history, becoming the first woman to compete for a potential job as an NFL kicker, Lauren Silverman, deserves a big hand for that, for her kicking, well, take a look.

O'BRIEN: That's how I kick.

BERMAN: Silverman is just two kicks at her official tryout on Sunday. Neither went 20 yards. She is hoping to get another chance to show off her leg when she is healthy. She hurt her leg in training, but those kicks both under 20 yards, not impressive.

O'BRIEN: Yes, that's not going to work.

So the former Governor Mitt Romney is finally speaking out about not being president. The former Republican candidate spoke at length yesterday about his campaign and what he sees as his new role in the Republican Party even criticized the current president for the handling of those forced spending cuts that kicked in on Friday.


MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No one can think that's been a success for the president. He didn't think "The Sequester" would happen. It is happening. Today, we have seen the president out campaigning to the American people, doing rallies around the country, flying around the country and berating Republicans, and blaming and pointing.

The president has the opportunity to lead the nation and to bring Republicans and Democrats together. It's a job he's got to do and it's a job only the president can do.


O'BRIEN: Peter King is a congressman from New York, a member of the Homeland Security Committee. It's nice to have you with us, sir. So I know you probably had a chance to see that entire interview. What did you make of it?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: I think Governor Romney handled himself well. I think he showed some real feelings and real emotion there. He lost the election. He wishes he had won it. He wasn't making excuses, but he did admit that it hurts. That he's gone on with his life.

I think as far as his criticism of the president, I think it's very appropriate. The president is just not showing the type of leadership necessary in a crisis like this. It's almost like he has a perpetual campaign. He knew "The Sequester" was coming and he is going to ask for it originally.

But, again this should not be that hard to do, $85 billion, the entire budget. If it's done selectively and surgically can be done rather than the president saying that kids wouldn't get vaccinated, senior citizens going to die, and planes couldn't land or they couldn't take off.

O'BRIEN: I think you are speaking a little hyperbolically, but I'll let you go with that. Let me ask a question --

KING: I don't think so at all. Soledad, if anybody was hyperbolic, it was the president for the past few weeks.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question when Governor Romney assessed the mistakes made in his campaign. His wife blamed the media, but he basically said there was a -- a bad strategy in trying to appeal to minorities that Democrats were able to do more successfully. Here is what he said.


ROMNEY: The weakness that our campaign had is we weren't effective in taking my message primarily to minority voters, to Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, other minorities. That was a real weakness. We did very well with a majority population, but not with minority populations and that was a failing. That was a real mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you think that was?

ROMNEY: Well, I think the Obamacare attractiveness and feature was something we underestimated in particularly among lower incomes and we just didn't do as good of a job at connecting with that audience as we should have.


O'BRIEN: What do you make of that answer and the context for the future of the GOP? KING: I think he's right and the question is how do we address it? I believe what he's saying and I agree with this, we weren't able to communicate to minority communities particularly Hispanic and African- American, why Republican principles would work for them.

Why as far as -- you know, long term economic growth, as far as being able to make it out of poverty that the Republican principles are the best. We sort of portray them as a way that's for more upper class people. But as far as showing that the dream of immigrants should be self reliance and that's best induced or encouraged by the Republican Party.

A lot of our people, a lot of Republicans seem to feel uncomfortable going into minorities areas. I'm not saying we need to change our policies, but we have to show why our policies relate to those in the minority community, those in the immigrant community and also to show that we as people feel very comfortable.

I have no problem. I grew up in immigrant community in New York. In those days, they were Irish, Italian and Jewish. But the fact is that, I think too many people in our party do have more of an aloof attitude. I think that's part of the problem we have to address.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask a quick question about Marco Rubio. You were furious when he was in town fundraising along sort of folks in Wall Street. You saw Wall Street people and folks out in the Hamptons, where the big money is.

You said that's because he voted twice against Sandy relief for New York area, New Jersey area. You said that was incredibly hypocritical because, of course, Florida has been hit with a number of big storms and gotten lots of aid over the years.

Have you spoken to him? What's the fallout from that -- that bin? Would you support him in 2016 if he decided to run for the presidency?

KING: I felt very strongly about this. This was the worst natural disaster to ever hit the northeast. The line went out and I would say that bill that was voted on and passed the House and then went back to the Senate, was drawn by the Republican leadership in the House of the Representatives.

We asked them. We asked the majority leader and House Appropriations chairman to not put anything in there that does not relate to Sandy. Governor Christie, Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg submitted the most detailed itemization and yet today, we talk about pork.

There was nothing in there that was not related to Sandy. If it were, it was put in by other people not by us. I don't know what they are talking about. I went on the floor of the House on January 1st. I said if you can find one thing in the bill, which is not related to Sandy, tell us, and it will come out.

Nobody came forward. Senator Rubio and 80 percent of the Republicans, the House and the Senate, voted against this bill and now they are raising money for the presidential race to me is the ultimate hypocrisy.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Peter King joining us this morning. It's nice to see, you, sir. Thanks for your time.

KING: Say hello to Connie and Mary for me there, will you?

O'BRIEN: They can hear you themselves.

So it's been 50 years since some of the most important moments from the civil rights movement happened in Birmingham, Alabama. Coming up next, Bill Cosby will joins us to explain why he is leading the charge to honor that history.

He will be joined by the mayor of Birmingham and also the president of Miles College in Birmingham, Charles French, that's coming up next.


O'BRIEN: This year marks the anniversary of several milestone moments in the civil rights movement. Yesterday, a group of civil rights leaders and elected officials, including the vice president, Joe Biden, re-enacted the 1965 march across the bridge in Selma, Alabama where police beat and gassed the marchers during a non-violent protest.

Birmingham, Alabama, this year is marking a half century since the major civil events of 1963, which included the imprisonment of Martin Luther King Jr., the children's crusade protest, the horrific murder of four young girls and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.

Joining us this morning to talk about all of that are three organizers of this year's commemorative events in Birmingham, author, entertainer, philanthropist, Bill Cosby is with us.

The mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, William Bell joins us as well, and the president of Miles College in Birmingham, George French is with us as well. It's nice to have you all. What was it like yesterday? It must have been very, very emotional. I mean, that we re-enact this every year, but every year it just seems to be an amazing event.

WILLIAM A. BELL, SR., MAYOR OF BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA: It was very emotional. The vice president came to acknowledge the march from 1965 and the fact that he was a -- a teenager at that time and wanted to come, but he was prevented from coming.

And also a lot of people didn't realize that initially only about 550 people participated in the march. When they turned around, then the next time it was about 600 and then it became 2,500. This year they had almost 10,000 people there.

O'BRIEN: Which is such an interesting message, right? That over time the march is growing as opposed to getting smaller and fewer people. Do college students care? Do college students really care? Because I worry about young people thinking 50 years ago? It might as well be 250 years ago. DR. GEORGE T. FRENCH, PRESIDENT OF MILES COLLEGS: Absolutely, Soledad. As a matter of fact, these college students, in particular, care at Miles College. Miles College was established in 1898. What's interesting is during the movement in 1963, our students had imposed a selective buying campaign. Of course, boycotting was illegal in Alabama at the time.

So they instituted a selective buying campaign, which cost Birmingham businesses $4 million a week in lost revenues. As a result of that, Dr. Fred Shuttles went to the SCLC National Convention and said to Dr. King because what's going on already in Birmingham with the students from Miles College, we should take the movement to Birmingham.

O'BRIEN: That's been an interesting juxtaposition. I read about you, at the same time the fight for right was going in the south. You were on the verge of winning an Emmy award. First black man to star in a show, I think in 1966, you would win an Emmy award, and the show itself "I Spy" was banned in the south. I mean, you look back at the history --

BILL COSBY, ENTERTAINER: Just a couple of stations. What did you say?


COSBY: I don't think so. Not when you look at the president's speech recently. To see people sitting down and then they there are others standing and cheering. I don't think it's difficult believe. I think that we have people sitting there who are as bad as the people who were against any kind of desegregation.

And then in place of a better America, they want their own sick feelings put across, and it's -- it isn't -- it isn't a good time, but I think also on our part as professors and presidents of colleges all over.

And in public schools, we need to get the education of the correct history that happened so people can say, yes, this really did happen. Because you have to include the assassination of a president and ask the question, maybe that had something to do with it also.

O'BRIEN: It's interesting when you look back at history. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, I want to talk about what Justice Scalia was talking about, racial entitlements, which caused a bit of a stir. We'll see how everybody feels about that. It's not an issue from 50 years. It is and it's not, right, they are deciding it now. So it's relevant not, the voter rights act.

COSBY: It's not about Mississippi again, is it?

O'BRIEN: Well, we're going talk about that after this short commercial break, more with Bill Cosby and Mayor Bell and also George French. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We are back with entertainer and author and philanthropist, Bill Cosby. And also the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, William Bell is joining us as well, and the president of Miles College, George French is with us as well.

Let's talk a little bit more about the voting right act because that's -- I guess the questions of the constitutionality of that is what we've been discussing over the last couple of weeks.

You heard Justice Scalia say this. I think it's attributable, very likely attributable to a phenomenon that's called perpetuation of racial entitlement. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it's difficult to get out of them through the normal political process.

So basically, he's saying the voter rights act was a racial entitlement. Justice Kennedy basically said, you know, time has come to get rid of it. The Marshall plan was good too, the northwest ordinance -- he's being very sarcastic there -- but times change he says. What do you make of this?

BELL: When you look at the reality of what's happening in politics, you know, there's still an effort to suppress the vote, particularly the African-American vote. When you look at issues surrounding registration, what time you can vote, whether or not there's early voter registration, identification -- all of these are roadblocks.

It would be different if there were no roadblocks to anyone voting, but it's a constant barrage or attack on the African-American vote, and we need some protection there.

O'BRIEN: Most people think it's not going to stay, though. Most people believe that in fact these provisions and the voter rights act will be lost.

FRENCH: We're speaking really about section 5, not the entire voting rights act, but Section 5. The question has to be asked, if we were enslaved, we've been in this country for 375 years, enslaved for 275 years. And we're talking 40 years since 1965, voting rights act, is it really time to look at eliminating those provisions?

O'BRIEN: Justice Scalia would say yes. Justice Kennedy would say it's past time.

FRENCH: Soledad, you have to look at this was our state. This is Shelby County, Alabama, Birmingham, what does the data indicate? Is it really time?

O'BRIEN: What do you think, Mr. Cosby? Is it time?

COSBY: I think it's dumb to say is it time when we stand and say the pledge of allegiance, for which it stands. Where are you going with this? Where are you going with the promise of what the United States of America really is?

It's also interesting that this Republican Party is not the Republican Party of 1863, of Abraham Lincoln, abolitionists and slavery, is not good. I think it's important for us to look at the underlying part of it. What is the value of it? Is it that some people are angry because my people no longer want to work for free?

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see what happens with this Section 5 of voters rights act. Thank you for talking with us this morning. We appreciate it. Congratulations on your 50th celebration. I have been to Birmingham a bunch of times, and I'll be free in September. Maybe I'll take you up on that.

Still ahead this morning, could be a life changing medical breakthrough. A toddler cured of HIV. We'll tell you how doctors say it is possible right at the top of the hour.

Then in a few moments, demolition crews are back at that house that was sitting on top of a sinkhole. Take you to the scene, some really hard pictures to show you coming up.