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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Kids with ADHD Up 50 Percent Over Last Decade; Michelle Shocked Apologizes for Anti-Gay Rant; Interview with Olympia Snowe on Guns, Bipartisanship; Gloria Borges: Fight of Her Life; Mary Owen Stranded on Mt. Hood

Aired April 2, 2013 - 08:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman. Coming up we're going to talk to former Senator Olympia Snowe about guns, immigration, and the state of the Republican Party.

But first, let's get to Christine Romans with today's top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you guys again.

A man who spent more than four decades in prison for an Arizona hotel fire that left 29 people dead, that was back in 1970, he's expected to be released today. New evidence suggests 58-year-old Louis Cuen Taylor may have been wrongly convicted and the fire may not have even been intentionally set. He's expected to plead no contest to murder in an agreement that sets aside his original conviction and gives him credit for time served.

The world of sports is mourning today Jack Pardee. He was the head coach who helped turn the Chicago Bears around in the '70s, leading them to their first playoff berth in 14 years. He started his football career as a legendary high school linebacker in Texas. His coaching began after he played for the Rams and Redskins between 1957 and 1972. On Monday, his family announced his death from cancer at age 76.

New this morning, President Obama announcing later today a $100 million brain research initiative. It will fund studies to find new treatments, prevention, and cures for Alzheimer's, epilepsy, traumatic brain injuries, and other disorders. The money will be made available in Fiscal 2014.

The number of U.S. kids diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder up 50 percent over the last decade. The spike has some experts asking if doctors are too quick to diagnose ADHD and too quick to prescribe medication for it. The CDC says 11 percent of school- aged kids have been reported with the disorder and most are on drugs to control it. It was sabotage -- that's the claim from a friend of Ashley Judd who says Kentucky politics had both Democrats and Republicans to working against her possible run for the Senate. Jonathan Miller spoke last night on Erin Burnett's "OUTFRONT".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN MILLER, ASHLEY JUDD'S FRIEND: Some of them wanted another candidate, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, and some for good reasons they wanted her, they thought she'd be a better candidate, but others sought to either profit from her, working on campaigns, or would love to have a friend in the U.S. Senate.

And then, kind of ironically, on the other side, you had people who weren't friends of Secretary Grimes, who wanted to push her into the Senate race so that she wouldn't be running for governor or lieutenant governor back home because she might be a rival of one of their preferred candidate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Miller claims that others circulated lies about statements reportedly made by Judd, as well as President Clinton's involvement in the race.

Michelle Shocked apologizing for her anti-gay rant at a concert last month in San Francisco, where she slammed same-sex marriage and suggested that God hates homosexuals. The folk singer now claims everyone misinterpreted her comments. She talked with Piers Morgan in this exclusive interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE SHOCKED, SINGER, SONGWRITER: I admit I made a mistake, Piers. If I had a chance to do it again, I don't think I would have taken the audience up on their choice. In no way do I disavow the LGBT community in the same way that I don't disavow my faith community.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: And do you have any problem with gay marriage?

SHOCKED: No, I don't.

MORGAN: Do you support it?

SHOCKED: I do.

MORGAN: So you support full gay rights?

SHOCKED: Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Shocked claims she was expressing the way other people feel about same-sex marriage. The rant, by the way, cost her several jobs that were canceled after the outburst.

BALDWIN: OK, thank you.

New overnight, Connecticut lawmakers reaching a deal on sweeping new legislation strengthening gun laws. This is the first measure in this state since the Newtown school massacre back in December. It strengthens background checks, it expands an assault weapons ban, among several other items here.

BERMAN: This comes as gun control legislation struggles in the national level with no compromise in sight for the proposals that Vice President Biden's gun task force suggested.

We're joined now by Olympia Snowe, a former Republican senator from the State of Maine. She just retired, 2012, citing the polarization in Washington. She's now a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, and co-chair of its Commission on Political Reform.

Senator Snowe, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Great to see you.

OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), FORMER MAINE SENATOR: Thank you, glad to be here.

BERMAN: We're going to start with the issue of gun control because you're trying to heal the bipartisan rift that appears to be growing in this country right now. And one of the big issues it is growing on is the issue of gun control.

We mentioned the new Connecticut laws. Let me tell what they are right now: an assault weapons ban expanded to 100 new types of weapons, registration for high-capacity magazines, a ban on future sales of high-capacity magazines, universal background checks for all sales, dangerous weapon offender registry also in Connecticut.

Let me get your reaction to that in light of the news that today the NRA is coming out with its own recommendations advising schools how to arm themselves.

SNOWE: Well, John, I think what's important here is to move -- the legislative process should move forward. And understandably, there's some, you know, serious issues that have to be addressed with respect to what happened in Newtown, and I think that the Congress ought to look at these issues very carefully with respect to universal background checks and start the process and see what is possible.

Obviously, there are differences and people have taken positions on these issues. Not so much on a partisan basis, but more regional and geographical. So I think it is important that the Congress address these issues in light of what happened in Connecticut with that horrific event.

BALDWIN: Senator Snowe, as you know, there have been poll after poll here taken -- let me just point to one here -- when it comes to these federal background checks here. Ninety percent, this is a CBS poll, 90 percent of people approve of having a federal background check requirement on all gun buyers. But, you know, as we point out, on the national level, who knows what the Congress will actually be able to accomplish, if anything.

The question is, and I was in Newtown, you were in Newtown, it really seemed like this moment was galvanizing for some kind of action, but do you think by now -- what are we, in April? -- that the president has missed the moment?

SNOWE: Hopefully not. And I think that there is plenty of time to address this issue in Congress, and they should address it. And I don't think that the fact that the president hasn't moved it forward doesn't mean to say it can't happen. I think it does require both the president and the Congress to look at these issues and to address them, absolutely. And there's no reason not to.

So, I think the only way to start that process is to bring the bills forward on the floor of the Senate and the House of Representatives, let the rank and file have the opportunity to debate and to amend and to see what is possible in building that consensus. They owe it, given what happened in Connecticut and the horrific events and the reprehensible circumstances surrounding that and so many other events across this country. So to at least to look at the background check issue and to see what are the gaps in the vacuum that has allowed, you know, people to purchase these weapons?

BERMAN: Senator, you left the Senate. Really, you seem frustrated with the polarization in Washington. Wondering if you think since you left, since January, there have been any positive developments? You have president taking Republican senators out to dinner; you have this bipartisan Gang of Eight working on immigration reform -- are these sort of the green chutes that may lead to some bipartisan comity?

SNOWE: Hopefully that is the case. At least these overtures are being made, because that is a start in the process in developing a rapport and collaboration between the president and the legislative branch, and particularly those in the minority party in the Senate and, obviously, the majority in the House. I mean, that's the only way you can bridge the divide, which hasn't happened.

Those conversations and lines of communication has to stay open all the time. It's just not having a sporadic event or a sporadic meeting. You have to build that relationship assiduously. That means working on these legislative initiatives in the range of issues and the scope of issues that need to be addressed in this Congress and the president. So they have to work side by side. You can't have the legislative and the executive branch working in a parallel universe.

And that's why I'm so pleased to be part of the Bipartisan Policy Center, because we're looking at some of these issues that have caused this political divide, by holding these national town meetings. We did one in Reagan Library a few weeks ago and we'll be doing one in Philadelphia in July and focusing on public service and the partisanship that has gripped Washington, that has prevented us from dealing with the issues this country needs to grapple with to determine its future.

BALDWIN: Now, Senator Snowe, you were one of those senators who was well known for reaching across the aisle, and a lot of people would say, "Why are you not still in Congress? We need members of Congress like you." As you point out, you are part of this Commission on Political Reform at the Bipartisan Policy Center. How can you help accomplish the depolarization, if you will, from the outside?

SNOWE: By building public support and demanding for bipartisanship and consensus-building. As I've traveled the country, Brooke, what I've discovered is the fact that people are so deeply frustrated and bewildered by what's taken place in Washington, and that's why you're seeing it reflected in the historically low approval ratings of Congress.

People are tremendously dissatisfied, and so I wanted to take my insider's view and experience, match it with outsiders' frustration, and build that public support and give them the encouragement to ensure that -- to demand bipartisanship by providing political rewards at the ballot box for those who are willing to bridge the divide and political penalties for those who don't.

Build a social media movement, national following through Facebook and Web sites and YouTube and Twitter -- I think all of which could happen, just as those who on the other side, that fan the flames of polarization, those who want consensus in the United States Congress and in Washington ought to be able to do the same through these means of mobilization.

BERMAN: And one last question, level with us, do you miss the Senate at all? At all?

SNOWE: Well, I do. Of course, I love my colleagues and the institution, but what it was and what it could be and its potential. And I didn't leave the institution because I no longer loved it or I no longer believed in its potential, but because I do. That's why I'm contributing in this way on the outside to make it work, to show people what you can do to achieve the fullest potential and bring people in. And broader support for things, not divide. We shouldn't be dividing the country. What they need is inclusiveness and building a rapport that all of us can build and move forward together.

BERMAN: Senator Olympia Snowe, thank you so much.

BALDWIN: We wish you well. Thank you, Senator.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.

SNOWE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a healthy 28-year-old gets startling news that would devastate most of us. Instead, she's taking on her potentially deadly disease and working for a cure.

BERMAN: Then a hiker survives six days trapped on Mt. Hood. Mary Owen joins us. She tells us how Nutri-Grain wrappers, not Jay-Z, Nutri-Grain wrappers helped her survive.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

BALDWIN: Thanks for clarifying.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Good morning, welcome back. Caroline Kennedy has been asked to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Japan. The White House reportedly close to finishing the vetting process for the 55-year-old daughter of President John F. Kennedy. An announcement could come in the next few days.

Sea lion pups have been showing up where they don't belong along the California coastline. This guy had to be rescued from a garden at a condo complex in Carlsbad. But so far, more than 250 stranded sea lions have been rescued this breeding season. Scientists think there may be a shortage of food in their natural habitat.

Call it the April Fools' joke that launched 9,000 re-tweets. Just three words from Lindsay Lohan's verified Twitter account, "It's official, pregnant, dot, dot, dot. Caused an avalanche of comments from around the world and deep sighs over there from John Berman. There is no comment from the troubled actress's camp.

BERMAN: Yes, you still don't know how to judge between the real weirdness and the joke weirdness, you know how do you gauge?

BALDWIN: Yes I don't know. I don't --

BERMAN: We'll leave that there.

BALDWIN: Yes.

BERMAN: You've seen Lohan file today folks.

BALDWIN: Welcome back. OK.

It's a tough disease versus a tough woman. Gloria Borges took on the fight of her life and they decided to have a little fun along the way. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the story in today's "Human Factor".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GLORIA BORGES, COLON CANCER PATIENT: On September 19th, 2010, I received news that no healthy 28 year old expects to hear, but I didn't cry, panic, or feel sorry for myself.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Gloria Borges is a fierce opponent, calculated, competitive, unrelenting.

BORGES: I had joined a gym in the beginning of 2010. I had lost about 30 pounds of fat, put on about 10 pounds of muscle. And so I thought that my body was going through changes in general and so the GI issues were tied to those changes.

GUPTA: As the year progressed, Gloria's symptoms got worse, but she toughed it out until one day she got fouled in a basketball game. BORGES: She put both hands on my gut area and didn't slap me hard, it was just trying to kind of throw me off balance and the pain was excruciating.

And I remember hobbling over to the free-throw line and realizing there is something very serious here.

GUPTA: Gloria finally checked herself into the hospital bloated and vomiting ferociously. An emergency operation uncovered a large tumor in her colon.

BORGES: My mom told me initially was it is stage 4 colon cancer and it is very aggressive. And I said well, I'm an aggressive girl, so what do we do?

GUPTA: Doctors told Gloria she had one to two painful years left, at best. She was undaunted. Here he is at chemotherapy round one sporting a rocky t-shirt, then came round two, round three. At round 45 -- she had beaten the odds and decided to have a little fun.

Today, Gloria's checking in to USC's Cancer Center for round 46.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cancer is tough and I'm tougher.

BORGES: You like that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a good one.

GUPTA: With her husband Will and her parents by her side. Together with Dr. Lance they launched a foundation to find a cure for colon cancer within the next decade.

BORGES: I said, all right. If you had all the money in the world, could you cure it? Do you and your team of doctors know what to do and he said, yes.

GUPTA: Their goal, $250 million.

BORGES: My answer to cancer was, no, this is not going to happen.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: My answer to cancer was, no.

BALDWIN: I like that attitude, no it's not going to happen.

BERMAN: I love that.

BALDWIN: I love it.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, stranded on a mountain for six days. What got a 23 year-old hiker through such a difficult experience? We'll tell you about it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So a hiker is recovering this morning after she was stranded for six days -- six days stranded on Oregon's Mt. Hood. Mary Owen suffered a gash on her thigh and injury to her right leg and frostbite in both feet.

BALDWIN: She went up the mountain alone one week ago after her friends decided not to join her. You see the pictures, heavy snow, also a wrong turn and then a 40-feet fall over this rocky terrain left her stranded until the National Guard finally rescued her over this weekend.

And Mary joins us now from her hospital bed in Oregon. Mary, good morning. How are you?

MARY OWEN, RESCUED MT. HOOD HIKER: Good morning. I'm doing pretty well. I'm pretty well.

BALDWIN: Doing really well is a great answer given where you were about a week ago. Tell us, what happened?

OWEN: Well, I was -- made some really bad decisions and ended up in a really bad place. And I have God to thank for surviving and the prayers of my good friends and family and the work of the search and rescue crew and the National Guard.

BERMAN: You made some bad decisions you say, I assume you mean going up the mountain by yourself, Mt. Hood. But then you clearly made what must have been some good life saving decisions. How did you managed to pull through for those six days, what did you do?

OWENS: Well, most of the time I was stationary, I couldn't really move either of my legs very and I just kind of pounded out little concaves in the snow to protect from the wind and rain and stuff and hunkered down on my poncho and tried to keep most of my body warm. It wasn't -- it wasn't a whole lot that I was -- I was doing, I mean just kind of rationing out my food and ended up making a fire on Thursday, which was really nice, and got down to an area where I wasn't on top of snow, and waited.

BALDWIN: Thank goodness for the Nutri-Grain bars that apparently make good kindling. You figured that one out.

OWEN: They do.

BALDWIN: You were pretty quick on your feet, I should say figuratively, I guess you had a pretty bad leg injury when you were up there, but was there ever a moment, Mary, where you thought, I may not -- truly, I may not get out?

OWEN: There wasn't really a moment that I thought I would not survive. There were a lot of moments when I was wondering why people weren't looking for me and how long it would take and asking God how long it was going to be until somebody came and rescued me. So there was definitely times when I was puzzled or a little confused because I didn't hear any search planes or anything, but there were also a lot of times when I was sitting there kind of thinking, what does it take for somebody to die out here, because I'm nowhere near dying and I kind of wish I was, because I'm really miserable right now.

BERMAN: You did the kind of thinking over six days that a lot of us probably never want to do. But let me ask you this, Mary, are you going hiking again anytime soon? I mean, what are you going to do? How are you going to feel the next time you take to the mountain?

OWEN: I actually have my sisters' promises, that they are going to try to summit with me, so I have their word on that. And I'll definitely be out in the outdoors after this point and I'm coming back for Hood, I do need to summit that mountain. So --

BALDWIN: Hood is beautiful, but it's beautiful with people hopefully hiking with you next time. Mary Owen, our best to you.

OWEN: Yes.

BALDWIN: Good luck, nice to see you A-OK this morning in the hospital, we appreciate it.

And STARTING POINT, is back in a moment. Amazing.

BERMAN: Amazing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: That's it for STARTING POINT. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. Tomorrow on STARTING POINT, we're going to talk to victim rights attorney Gloria Allred about day one of the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial.

BALDWIN: And we will talk to ESPN's tough talking Mike "Greenie" Greenberg. In his new book it's called "All You Can Ask For." But what might surprise you here is this novel actually described as called a tender and wonderfully insightful story of friendship, love, heartbreak, and renewal played out in the lives of these three unforgettable women. He the sports dude basically writes first person perspective here. Three women all showing a softer side actually offer a great cause.

BERMAN: It is great story you want to join us for that tomorrow.

Meanwhile, "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.