[an error occurred while processing this directive]

 

Return to Transcripts main page

STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Romney's Third Place Showing; Goldman Sachs Exec Writes Scathing Op-Ed; Grandmother and Step Mother Make Little Girl Run until She Dies; GOP Presidential Race Continues; The Money Wars; Dark World of Substitute Teachers

Aired March 14, 2012 - 08:00   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: Our STARTING POINT this morning, winning Dixie. A Rick Santorum sweep in the South makes things lots more interesting this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We did it again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Oops, we did it again. He's got momentum on his side. But he doesn't have the money and he doesn't necessarily have the math either. Those two things still seem to belong to Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Santorum is at the desperate end of his campaign and is trying in some way to boost his prospects.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: We're going to talk to Mitt Romney's campaign, straight ahead this morning.

Also, George Clooney's going to join us live. He's just back from Sudan. He's heading right to the Senate with visions of burned out villages and people hiding in caves fresh in his mind.

Also, one all-star actor isn't enough. Actor Adrien Brody is going to join us as well. He'll tell us why he's going back to school for his latest role and how New York City kids really taught him how to be a teacher.

It's Wednesday, March 14. And STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Jim Talent's playlist. That's the Eagles, "Take It Easy."

Catherine Crier joins us. She's new to the panel today. She's the author of "Patriot Acts". She's also, of course, in a word --

(INAUDIBLE)

O'BRIEN: Well, nice to have you. Thanks for being with us.

Brett O'Donnell is back with us. He advised Mitt Romney and also Michele Bachmann on their presidential campaigns and the debates specifically.

Nice to have you.

Will Cain is a CNN contributor and also a contributor to TheBlaze.com.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Nice to have you as well.

Our STARTING POINT, of course, is what happened last night. Rick Santorum winning it all. The doubleheader at least, excuse me, victories, in Alabama and Mississippi. Romney picked up wins in Hawaii and American Samoa. We just got the results from Hawaii first thing this morning.

Two big races in the South, undeniable boost and a big one for Rick Santorum. He put a stop to Gingrich's Southern strategy which then became a Deep South strategy, and further positioned himself as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.

Now as for Newt Gingrich, he has shown no signs of dropping out. In a speech last night, he took a shot at Romney's performance yesterday. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is, in both states, the conservative candidates got nearly 70 percent of the vote. And if you're the front-runner, if you're the front-runner and you keep coming in third, you're not much of a front-runner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: He said that a couple of times.

Former Senator Jim Talent is a senior advisor to the Romney campaign.

Nice to have you. Thanks for talking with us. We certainly appreciate it.

JIM TALENT, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: The polls -- polls showed that the race was essentially tied. Yesterday when we were talking about it, it looked tied for first place. Ended up in third place both in the state of Alabama and in the state of Mississippi; one, though, in Hawaii which we found out this morning, American Samoa as well.

Analyze the race for me. What happened?

TALENT: We won more delegates than anybody else last night. So, I mean, we're right on path to where we want to be. We've done better than I expected to do in the South. We've been competitive everywhere and we've won a couple of states. I think what happens is that sometimes because Governor Romney has a big lead, some of his voters get complacent. I mean, I think that's what happened in Mississippi.

O'BRIEN: Really? That's an interesting strategy. Will Cain, what do you think of that? Because he's got a lead, you know, everybody feels like we don't have to turn out in the primaries.

CAIN: With all due respect, I don't think much of it. That was a tight race, and everyone in the Mississippi knew it was a tight race. Every poll going in, however inaccurate, it turned out they were regarding Santorum specifically.

I think the Mississippi voters knew that their vote counted. And if they wanted Romney to win, they should have voted for him. I think it does show that Romney has some weaknesses. And I think we have to admit this. Certainly, winning in the delegates, but this reveals some things about the Romney campaign, don't you think?

CATHERINE CRIER, AUTHOR: Well, the Romney campaign made the statement that they expected to win in Alabama.

O'BRIEN: They did and then they started backing away from it. Excuse me, Senator. I'm sorry to interrupt you there. You were about to jump in.

TALENT: Soledad, I mean -- the Romney campaign is winning in the delegates and that's what matters here. I mean, we won more delegates than anybody else last night. We're going through a patch of the schedule where we're not playing in territory that is our strength and we're doing what we need to do.

I mean, any election where neither Rick Santorum nor Newt Gingrich gets at least 65 to 75 percent of the vote is an election where we move ahead. That's what's happening.

O'BRIEN: So, when Newt Gingrich, you heard the clip coming in -- and let's cue that up again and play it, because he kind of assessed all the other arguments outside of the delegate argument. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: The fact is, in both states the conservative candidates got nearly 70 percent of the vote. And if you're the front-runner, if you're the front-runner, and you keep coming in third, you're not much of a front-runner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: To some degree he's got a point. It's hard to keep that front-runner status and if you're saying delegates, delegates, delegates.

TALENT: Well, you can tell that to John McCain. I mean, he lost 19 states and he won the nomination. You know, when you have a contest with a number of people in it, you're not going to win anywhere. I don't know anybody who's won the nomination when you've a contest, you'd have an open presidency, and you win everywhere.

But we're doing very well and it's because Governor Romney is hitting the messages that matter to people, on the economy, on getting the budget balanced and on beating Barack Obama. And those are the key messages for Republican voters.

So, we're going to go now to Puerto Rico, Missouri, and Illinois. I expect to do well in those states as well.

CAIN: Senator, quick question for you. No one doubts that you shouldn't have to win all of the states. And you are winning in the delegates. Your message here has been received, but are you really telling me that the votes last night, Mississippi and Alabama, were virtually meaningless to your campaign?

TALENT: No, they're very meaningful. We needed votes to get delegates. I mean, once you get past the initial stage of the primary, so it's not shut down early, and given the process this year, that was going to be the case, because as you know, so many are back- end loaded, then you have to get to the total that you have to get to.

And that's what we're doing. We're really running against the delegate total more than against the others. And by that standard, we're doing really well. I mean, we won more delegates than anybody else won yesterday.

O'BRIEN: And at what cost?

TALENT: And they're the ones that needed to win twice as much as anyone else to get the nomination.

O'BRIEN: So, outspending Rick Santorum over $2 million is what your campaign spent on TV ad spending to Rick Santorum's just under $400,000 at some point there's a different kind of math, maybe not delegate math, that says that's bad math. He won and spent under $400 million. We took a $2 million hit.

I think the numbers are something like the campaign spent $55 million, campaign alone, I'm not talking about super PAC money, $55 million as of January 31st.

TALENT: The other way of looking at that is that if you can't raise any money, it has a bearing on whether you're a good candidate and whether you can beat Barack Obama. It's all part of being a good candidate, having an organization, having a strong message, being energetic on the stump, raising money.

And this is the national campaign that is moving towards the nomination. I mean, we're doing as well or better than McCain did four years ago. Like I said, we're doing better than four or five months ago I thought we would do in the South, at least as well as we expected.

And so, now, we're going to move to other territory and continue getting delegates.

O'BRIEN: Senator Jim Talent joining us, senior advisor to the Romney campaign. Nice to have you, sir. Thank you for your time this morning.

TALENT: Thanks.

O'BRIEN: Other headlines to get to. Christine has those for us. Hey, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

New overnight, a roadside bomb exploding in Afghanistan killing eight people as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrives in the same province unannounced to try to diffuse a crisis there.

The country erupting in fury over a U.S. soldier's massacre of mostly women and children civilians. The question being asked this morning, was that accused soldier drunk when he went on that rampage? Military investigators are now awaiting toxicology results to determine whether alcohol might have played a role in that attack, an attack that killed 16 Afghan civilians. Officials say alcohol was found in the suspected soldier's living quarters.

We're still waiting to hear what caused a bush crash in the Swiss Alps that killed 28 people, including 22 children. The bus was heading back to Belgium after a school ski trip when it slammed into a tunnel wall. Another 24 students are in the hospital this morning.

There's a controversy brewing over an advertising agency's use of 13 homeless people as human Wi-Fi hot spots. It's a marketing plan coming out of the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. Each of the homeless people are being paid $20 to carry 4G supplied by the ad agency BBH, Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

Saneel Radia, he head of innovation for BBH, defended the program to CNN's Ashleigh Banfield on "EARLY START."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANEEL RADIA, HEAD OF INNOVATION, BBH: This is an opportunity for these people, these homeless individuals that have participated in this program to say, you know what, they run this like their own small business. They have an opportunity to tell their story. These individuals have felt very empowered by it. It's been a very positive experience for them and they're just happy that people are stopping and talking to them and they get a chance to actually give them some perspective on what it's like being a homeless person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Critics call the program exploitative. In an online op- ed, "The Washington Post" wondered, have we lost our humanity?

A history making win in Alaska's Iditarod sled-dog race. Twenty- five-year-old Dallas Seavey being the youngest musher to win the nearly 1,000-mile race from Anchorage to Nome. The Iditarod's family affair. His grandfather competed in the very first Iditarod 40 years ago. This year, he beat them both to the finish line.

Hey, Siri, find me a lawyer. A New York man filed a class action suit against Apple claiming Siri -- she's not as smart as she looks on the advertisements. He says the company has been misleading and deceptive about what that virtual assistant can do -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: I don't know. My Siri works just fine.

ROMANS: Does she?

O'BRIEN: Well, I don't ask her to do a lot. Do you guys have Siri?

ROMANS: Siri, do my laundry.

BRETT O'DONNELL, ADVISED ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Siri's only as smart as the operator sometimes, right?

O'BRIEN: I think that's a compliment kind of, sort of. Bad for the guy.

All right. Christine, thank you very much.

Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to talk about this case. A grandmother who's now facing the death penalty allegedly for forcing her 9-year-old granddaughter. Remember the story, we talked about this, to run, the little girl to run until she literally dropped dead over a candy bar apparently.

Plus, George Clooney's going to join us live. He's heading to the Senate today. Just back from a trip to Sudan. And he is fearing a second genocide there. We'll tell you about that.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We got a short break and we're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Actor and activist George Clooney is on a mission. In just about two hours, he's going to be testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the crisis in Sudan. Clooney just returned from the volatile region along the border between Sudan and South Sudan.

And while he was there, he witnessed some of the violence firsthand. Here's a little portion of his video diary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: That was taken out of that young man's leg two hours ago?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

CLOONEY: A very brave boy. Would you tell him?

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those people are (INAUDIBLE) civilians.

CLOONEY: That's the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

CLOONEY: You're talking to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: George Clooney joins us this morning, along with John Prendergast, who is the cofounder of the Enough Project, which is an anti-genocide group, and together, they travel to Sudan, and you'll both be testifying. It's nice to have you both. I appreciate you joining us.

You've called yourselves the anti-genocide paparazzi, because you're really taking -- it has kind of a ring to it, I guess. What is your biggest concern when you look at that region, that border region between Sudan and South Sudan which has been violent and continues to be violent and has been for a long time?

CLOONEY: Well, I mean, there's a lot of concerns. It's not just that. Of course, it's also the Nuba Mountains, which is along the side, which is where there's infinitely more violence going on right now. The trouble is what we're seeing -- we have a satellite up in the air. Digital Globe was nice enough to donate the money and the imagery for us to be able to keep an eye on these people.

And what we've been lucky enough to catch in the last few weeks are Antonovs, dropping bombs on innocent civilians. Mass graves.

O'BRIEN: And when you say lucky enough, that's because, really, you're able to capture something that usually would go by without anybody ever saying a word.

CLOONEY: Well, they don't allow any press there. They don't allow any cameras there, but more important than that is it's very difficult to catch these images even with a satellite, because it's not running continuously. So, it requires coordination between on the ground and in the air. But what's important about this is this is -- as to the Geneva Convention, these are war crimes. When you are indiscriminately bombing innocent civilians, you are committing war crimes and that is what they're doing. It's a cowardly act, and that's what they're doing.

O'BRIEN: All right. So, we have some images off of your website, and this one's labeled apparent civilian displacement from a dismantled village. I want to show folks sort of what you are capturing and showing. The left-hand side shows a civilian village and then the right-hand side, of course, is sort of the aftermath.

You can see it's pretty much wiped clean. Do you ever get concerned that your involvement taking pictures doesn't go far enough? That, you know, I know you're going to be testifying today, but, you know, photos of the start, it really has to translate into action?

JOHN PRENDERGAST, CO-FOUNDER, THE ENOUGH PROJECT: Well, there's a number of things that go along with it. So, having the photos is terribly important. Getting on the ground, visual evidence is terribly important.

Having Sudanese people who are the victims of a lot of this, survivors of these terrible atrocities telling us their stories and then documenting that, and then, building a constituency of people in the United States who care about these issues and will tell President Obama and their members of Congress and senators that it matters to them that we -- that the United States steps up and takes a leading role in helping to resolve these problems.

O'BRIEN: That's a relatively short list, but each of those items is huge and sort of difficult. Are you finding that you're getting a ground swell of support, enough support that will actually spur action?

CLOONEY: We certainly are getting support in the White House and in the -- and in Congress. We're meeting in Congress because the House is trying to pass a bill right now that has a very good chance of passing that has some pretty robust sanctions. We're hoping the Senate will do the same. The truth is, there is a lot of ways to attack this problem.

One is to do what we did with terrorist groups, which is go after the money. Find where the money is. These guys are not buying their weapons with Sudanese pounds. So, find their offshore accounts in Malaysia and places like that, and freeze them. That's one of the ways we could do it.

The other way is to actually work with China, not try to guilt them, but work with them to say, listen, you guys are losing six percent of your oil import right now from the Sudan, because they've shut off the oil. Let's work together to find a way to get that oil turned back on by fixing this cross border problem. So, there's a lot of effort and a lot of people interested in helping right now.

O'BRIEN: It's called the Satellite Sentinel Project. I known folks can go to your website and take a look as we did and look at the various images and sort of underneath you have a caption explains what you can see from satellite. What's been the most troubling, the most difficult thing for you to see?

CLOONEY: Well, we came back yesterday. You know, we went up about six, seven hours over the border and saw for ourselves. You know, we were there when they fired three rockets over our head. We were there when we saw a young man get both of his hands blown off. We were there a couple hours after that.

It's very difficult to see these people living in the kind of fear that they have. This is every single day these people have to live this. These are not the cave people of Nuba. They're actually living in villages. They're hiding in caves, because they're being killed. And so, that's a very hard thing to see.

O'BRIEN: Tragic story. You'll be testifying today. Gentlemen, I thank you for joining us. We certainly appreciate your time.

CLOONEY: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Nice opportunity to bring the story to the public as well.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a former Goldman Sachs executive, as in he quit today, writes an op-ed where he really blows the whistle on "toxic and destructive greed." That's a quote from his exiting letter. He says this, "Over the last 12 months I've seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as a Muppet, sometimes, over internal e-mails."

And that isn't even the bad stuff that he says. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're going to read you that letter straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: So, a top Goldman Sachs executive has quit after almost 12 years, and the resignation letter that he -- you know, usually, just e-mail your friends like I'm leaving because I tell you --

ROMANS: I've learned a lot.

O'BRIEN: I learned a lot. Moving on to other things. His resignation letter is called "why I'm leaving Goldman Sachs." It is in "The New York Times." It is a three full pages. He calls the environment "toxic" and destructive." Talks about the firm's sales meeting saying it's purely about how to make the most possible money off of clients.

That's only the beginning. Christine Romans has gone through the entire thing with a fine tooth comb. Good morning.

ROMANS: And we know that it's so rare for Goldman people to talk ill of their firm. I mean, this is a very insular firm that even in the height of the financial crisis circled the wagons, and the only thing was about protecting their clients. This is what he said. He says, "When the history books are written about Goldman Sachs, they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, Lloyd Blankfein and the president, Gary Cohn, lost hold of the firm's culture on their watch."

And culture really matters, and that culture is being good to your clients, making money for your clients, and that clients matter. Press doesn't matter. Public doesn't matter. Congress doesn't matter. Clients matter. This is what he says. "Over the last 12 months, I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as Muppets, sometimes, over internal e-mail."

It goes on and on about how the culture of the firm now makes him sick, that they make fun of their clients that --

O'BRIEN: And they don't necessarily have their client's best interests according to Greg Smith who will never work in investment banking again as long as he lives.

ROMANS: No. And I should say that Goldman Sachs responded to me this morning saying, obviously, they disagree with these views, that they -- they successful -- being successful for their clients is what makes them successful. The fundamental truth lies at the heart of how they conduct themselves.

And they've said this over -- I mean, Lloyd Blankfein has told me several times that, look, you guys are all -- the media, the public all thinks Goldman Sachs is so evil. Only matters what our clients think. This is the first real shot to the heart of that.

O'BRIEN: This is a list sort of for the clients of here's why you should think the company that represents you is evil, literally details why he believes that they're not serving their clients. And the thing that was interesting, because, of course, the guy's name is Greg Smith, and it says he's resigning today as executive director and head of the firm's United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

He also said he was a Rhodes scholar. He went from South Africa to Stanford University, won a bronze medal in table tennis at what's known as the Jewish Olympics.

ROMANS: Oh, well, now, I'm really concerned for Goldman.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Meaning, and you know, he's fleshing out who this guy is, because when I first heard that someone had written this letter, I thought it was an angry, disgruntled employee who didn't necessarily have a lot of time and at stake.

ROMANS: The firm that he started with, I think what he's trying to say is not the firm that he's leaving right now. I also think this letter caught people at Goldman off guard.

O'BRIEN: Clearly.

CRIER: But it shouldn't, because this has been decades. I can go back 40, 50 years. I can go back to when Lufkin decided it wasn't going to be a partnership, and we allowed corporations, and then, we allowed publicly traded corporations where it is the next quarter's profits and stock markets and yet -- and stock prices and yet even within that, you look at the amount of proprietary trading going on, in house trading not for their clients, the percentage of profits that go to pay executive salaries not are paid out to the stockholders, and everything about the structure of the major investment banks are done so --

O'BRIEN: But that's not even his argument. His argument is, that's all fine, but now, they're not serving their clients.

CRIER: The point is the client is Goldman Sachs. The customers are peripheral. They are their own major client and that structural flaw is going to promote this, and it's not surprising.

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see what other letters come out of that, but there's been a spoof already. Have you seen this? It says --

ROMANS: It took like five minutes.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: "Why I Am Leaving the Empire?" by Darth Vader.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Today is my last day at the Empire. "After almost 12 years, first as a summer intern, then in the Death Star, and now in London." It goes on and on. He says, "How did we get here? The empire changed its way of thinking about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and killing your former mentor with a lightsaber."

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: It goes on and on. Both of these letters, I have to say, this one is entertaining. The other one is just literally, I think, stunning. Absolutely stunning. Going to be fallout from that.

ROMANS: Oh, yes. I think so.

O'BRIEN: I think so, too.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, police say a grandmother forced a little girl, nine-year-old, to run to death. Apparently, it was all over a candy bar. Now, the grandmother is facing the death penalty.

Plus, Oscar winning actor, Adrien Brody, is going to join us talking about his latest role as a New York City school teacher. He returned to his alma mater. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: I love Kanye West. I really do. Really he should be doing music for the show. Welcome, everybody. That's Kanye West. Let's get to headlines this morning. Christine has got those. Good morning, Christine.

ROMANS: Good morning, Soledad. An Ivy League school rocked by some pretty gross hazing charges. Dartmouth College has charged more than two dozen members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity with hazing their pledges. And Dartmouth senior first raised the issue two months ago with a column in the school paper describing dehumanizing experiences which included getting pledges to swim in vomit.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama will be holding high level talks in Washington today. They'll discuss the upcoming NATO and G8 summits with Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, the global economy all on the agenda. Tonight they'll attend an estate dinner in honor of the British leader.

Prime Minister Cameron got a chance to experience something American: hoops and hot dogs. Barack Obama bringing the British leader to Ohio for a front row view of the NCAA tournament games. Mr. Cameron promising to return the favor someday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prime Minister Cameron, this is your first time being at --

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Very first time at a basketball game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you make of the experience so far?

CAMERON: I'm enjoying it. It's pretty fast and furious. It's hard to follow sometimes exactly who's done what wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is our president helping you follow it?

CAMERON: He's giving me some tips. He's going to help me fill out my bracket.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And he's going to teach me cricket, because I don't understand what's going on with that cricket thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The president's picks for the final four, Kentucky, Ohio State, Missouri, and North Carolina.

Just released 911 calls reveal chaos aboard an American Airlines flight last week when a flight attendant snapped.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: She apparently suffered some sort of mental breakdown screaming about 9/11, the plane crashing. It happened as American flight 2332 was taxiing for takeoff. Several passengers made emergency calls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like they're physically restraining a flight attendant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're physically restraining a flight attendant be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. She's lost it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: None of the passengers were hurt. None of the charges were filed. One of her colleagues told police she was bipolar and had not taken her medication.

A new breed of apps generating a lot of buzz at South by Southwest in Austin. They're all about location, location, location, social discovery apps that highlight and allow you to share primarily through location. They automatically inform other friends on the service when you're in the same area as they are.

And geeks out, rockers in. It happens every year at South by Southwest, the big switcheroo. The time when the interactive side of the festival gives way to the music side which begins today. There's more crossover than ever before. I'm not sure I want people to know where I am all the time, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Yes. That could have so many down sides, it's not even funny.

ROMANS: I want to know where my kids are but I don't want people to know where I am.

O'BRIEN: Christine, thank you.

A grandmother accused of forcing her nine-year-old granddaughter to run until the little girl collapsed and then eventually died. In that case prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The woman is 46- year-old Joyce Gerard. She's been charged with capital murder. The stepmother Jessica Mayharden is charged with felony murder. That apparently doesn't carry a death sentence. Both of accused of forcing the third grader Savannah Harden run for four hours because she lied about taking a candy bar. Zaraida Sambolin spoke with Farrah Ashlee earlier today. Her daughter was friends with the little girl and said she saw Savannah running.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The grandmother did approach the school bus and tell the bus driver that she was going to make the little girl run for eating the candy bar the day before until she couldn't run no more is her exact words. My little girl was on the bus. She's telling me, mommy, I feel so sorry for Savannah. They make her run and pick up sticks. But I did not know the severity of it. I did not know that it was that serious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Apparently a lot of people saying that they didn't really know at the time just how serious the running would end up being. This, of course, all took place in Alabama. It's Alabama prosecutors were talking about death penalty for the grandmother?

CRIER: No. This certainly doesn't mean that there isn't part of me that could pull a switch in a case like this, but I do believe that the prosecutors are riding the emotional wave right now. This is not in the scheme of things a death penalty case.

O'BRIEN: You're a former prosecutor, former judge as well.

CRIER: Yes. Again, this is not empathy whatsoever -- sympathy for the grandmother or the stepmother. But in the scheme of things is it a murder case? This did take place during the course of child abuse, absolutely. But however the prosecution occurs, I would expect a guilty verdict and a severe sentence.

But what bothers me is once again we're looking at a school bus driver who had this on video. You've got families around this family who knew. The wall of silence that goes on around domestic abuse, be it child, wife, others --

O'BRIEN: But it's a very strange case, too. A little girl doing circles in the backyard wouldn't necessarily make everybody say, oh, my god, that's child abuse. A lot of -- several people --

CRIER: You just heard the interviewer say, my child had said this had happened before. The tape on the bus, she said the grandmother said this to the bus driver, I'm going to make her run until she can't run anymore. There were numerous visits with nurses at the school and others.

CAIN: Catherine, there's an emotional -- we're all appalled by this case. What element is missing to call for the maximum punishment? Is it the element of intent?

CRIER: It may be that we learn that she basically stood in the back corner and said, I'm going to kill this child, but, again, you have a gradation of crimes.

CAIN: How does this fall short? CRIER: We look at 9/11 and talk about death penalty. We look at someone manufacturing a plot to go in and kill many people. You don't see a lot of death penalty cases where it's the one on one, maybe the stranger that gets gunned down in the robbery attempt. It's a domestic family, long time simmering. We've got the father, several divorces, a lot of internal things that went on in this family. It would be very surprising to me if this actually results in a prosecution conviction under the death penalty.

O'BRIEN: You know those cases every time the details come out it's more horrible.

CRIER: It's horrible.

O'BRIEN: We've got to take a break. Still ahead this morning, going to talk to Adrien Brody. He is the product of a New York City public school system. He's also the son of a public school teacher. He sort of models his next role on his father. We're listening to Will Cain's playlist. Not this stuff but what we're going to play now, Kenny Chesney. You're watching STARTING POINT. We'll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: I am loving our music today, loving our music today. A little bit earlier, politics all morning and talking about the results of the primaries. Let's play John Grevanger a little bit earlier. He is Rick Santorum's chief strategist. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRABENDER, CHIEF STRATEGIST, SANTORUM CAMPAIGN: You're talking about the guy whose super PAC has already spent $40 million brutally attacking the other candidates and quite frankly I'm not sure I'm going to listen to the value judgment of a guy who strapped his own dog on the top of the roof of his car and went hurling down the highway. For Mitt Romney to be out there saying that, you know, this is desperate is an insult also to the voters in places like Mississippi and Alabama who evidently didn't get the Romney desperate memo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: He makes an interesting point, and I think it's consistently Rick Santorum and occasionally but less frequently Newt Gingrich who circles back to the voters all the time, back to the voters. I think in this recent end results you've heard that less from the Mitt Romney campaign.

CRIER: Because it's voters, only the voters, that can defeat massive amount of money and the campaign efforts that Romney can put up, because it's one person after another that's casting ballots that makes the difference. So they better darn well better rely on voters.

O'BRIEN: The Romney campaign is relying delegate math.

O'DONNELL: At a certain point, though, I mean, given the fact that he's winning more delegates, that means he's winning more votes.

O'BRIEN: I mean messaging. I'm talking about in terms of when you give a speech and what you say to the public you can say, you know, listen, what he was saying. At the end of the day we're talking to voters. What we're hearing from the Romney campaign is at the end of the day we're crunching the numbers.

O'DONNELL: Yes, too much on process.

CAIN: Yes. We talked about this for an hour-and-a-half this morning. Mitt Romney is winning the math battle. He will most likely be the Republican nominee for president. He might want to start acting like it and talking to all of the voters.

O'BRIEN: That's interesting. I think what he was saying there, do you think it's true when he said, listen, he's dismissing, by saying desperate, he's dismissing those people who cast votes in Mississippi and Alabama?

O'DONNELL: I think it was setting the expectation game too high. I think the Romney camp thought they were going to do better in one of those states than they did last evening. They had the expectation level that today they'd be able to say, you know, we put both Gingrich and Santorum back and we're now the front-runner who's going to win. It's inevitable. Today they can't do that.

O'BRIEN: Senator Jim Talent was also a guest. He was representing the Romney campaign. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TALENT: If you can't raise any money, it has a bearing on whether you're a good candidate and whether you can beat Barack Obama. I mean, it's all part of being a good candidate, having organization, having a strong message, being energetic on the stump, raising money. And this is the national campaign that is moving towards the nomination. I mean, we're -- we're doing as well or better than McCain did four years ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: He's got an interesting point, right, which is at the end of the day it is about the delegate math. I mean, ultimately the money doesn't matter. The -- the advertising doesn't matter. All of these other stories about the dog, strapped to the top of your car if you win the delegate math, true.

CAIN: He's right -- he's right 100 percent. He ought to leave those kind of facts up to people like me to lay that out. He ought to come on here --

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: -- yes, he needs to go on TV.

O'BRIEN: You think it was a big mistake in saying that --

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: -- and talk about why Mitt Romney's message didn't happen to connect at Mississippi and Alabama. And why it might should have. Don't talk us about process and --

CRIER: Might should have?

CAIN: Might should have, I'm from Texas.

O'BRIEN: You can say that, might should have, I might steal that.

O'DONNELL: Well, you know they -- they have the message to -- to really move forward in terms of talking to voters about the economy and jobs and right now what this election is about. The problem is when we start talking about delegate math and those sorts of things I think it takes the campaign off that message. And it might make their math a little tougher going forward so --

O'BRIEN: So looking forward because it doesn't end, we've more contests this weekend.

CRIER: Well, he's got to be careful too because when he does try and reach out and talk to the voters, you know he tells us about the football team owners or the NASCAR team owners.

CAIN: That's authentic. I like that stuff.

CRIER: -- or cheesy grits.

And I said this before we got started. Jalapeno cheese grits everyone. That's Jalapeno cheese grits. No one has put that forward.

O'BRIEN: But they've moved on after the state so we'll never hear that all until it gets to general election.

CRIER: Texas is still there but -- but I'm -- I'm just not sure that he can even and sort of said for a while, you be quiet I'll do the talking.

O'BRIEN: We will see, we will see.

All right, ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to be talking to Oscar winner Adrien Brody. He's got a new film out and found the only thing harder than being a teacher is being a substitute teacher. You're watching STARTING POINT. There he is in our green room. We'll see you in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: We're back. Pink Floyd. "Another Brick in the Wall". This new theater -- movie in theaters starts on Friday. It takes a pretty tough look at the American public school system. It's called "Detachment". And the star is Oscar winner Adrien Brody, who plays a substitute teacher at an inner city high school.

And the story line might be a little bit familiar. But it's nothing like you've seen before. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADRIEN BRODY, ACTOR: You know, it's funny. I spent a lot of time trying to not have to deal, to not really commit. I'm a substitute teacher. There's no real responsibility to teach. Your responsibility is to maintain order, make sure nobody kills anybody in your classroom and then they get to the next period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Adrien Brody joins us this morning. "Detachment" comes from sort of the attitude of the substitute teacher, Henry Barths -- no "s", the "s" is silent at the end -- who is a little bit apathetic as are the students. What's -- what was appealing about a role like that?

BRODY: Well actually, he's not quite detached. He ends up being ultimately attached through the process of meeting some people who I think share some of the sense of isolation that he feels in the world. And I think that's the common thread here is that so many people feel a sense of detachment from the world around them.

And he is a very complex man who suffered a lot in his youth. But he's compelled to be a guiding voice for these youngsters and it's so crucial.

O'BRIEN: It sort of takes his complexity and mirrors that of the American public school system which is also complex, both in terms of some of the problems, the problems of the students, the problems of the teachers, the problems of the administrators, the problems of society. I read that your dad was a high school teacher.

BRODY: A junior high.

O'BRIEN: A junior high school teacher and that you modeled the role a little bit in some way, if you will, on him. Is that right?

BRODY: Well, my father is an amazing, kind and generous and thoughtful human being --

O'BRIEN: Would you like just a little bit.

BRODY: Well, I mean, my character is completely dysfunctional, but he manages to muster up this incredible, thoughtful and caring approach to his students in spite of all the obstacles. And I don't feel like this film is really just a commentary about the state of affairs in the public school system. I think it's about the failings of all the systems -- the home, the family unit. That's where education begins. And the reason I took this role was how much I understand the value of having a father figure and some guidance and that that education really has to come from your parents and to encourage young people to explore the lives or their lives and become individuals and to be curious about the world around them.

O'BRIEN: You went to LaGuardia High School.

BRODY: Performing arts, yes down the block.

O'BRIEN: Right, not very far from here. Did you go back to this? I mean, how do you prepare for a movie like that? Do you have to say, listen, I was in tons of classrooms. I know exactly what it's like or do you go and actually sit in a classroom and --

BRODY: Well, it doesn't hurt that I've grown up through public school to then jump into a public school and understand some of the numbers there. I wasn't a teacher. I have a new found respect for teachers and how difficult it is facing the challenges, but I knew that anyway. And you know it's definitely an underappreciated profession and a very generous thing, to teach.

I feel like young people should see this film. The reason I like to visit a school and the reason I went back to talk at LaGuardia, was to encourage young people and to say, hey, I'm proof that miracles can happen, really.

I'm from Queens. I took four trains to school every day. I have nobody in the entertainment industry in my family. I've struggled. I've done largely independent films.

And it's a remarkable thing. It is kind of truly remarkable that I have managed to surmount all those obstacles and do what I love and -- and but they're all trying to do that.

O'BRIEN: Right.

BRODY: And I think that it's great that there are schools that provide programs for -- that encourage and help educate kids to do creative -- pursue creative goals.

O'BRIEN: The movie is a very small movie. It's gotten terrific reviews so far. As Will Cain said, Oscar, Oscar, Oscar, Brody.

BRODY: That's very kind.

O'BRIEN: We hope so for you. Adrien Brody, it's nice to have you visit with us.

BRODY: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: We certainly appreciate it this morning.

BRODY: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: We have to take a short break. "End Point" is up next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: All right. Time for "End Point". I'm going to let Will Cain start for us this morning. What have you got?

CAIN: I want to talk about Newt Gingrich's strategy which has evolved over time from a national strategy, to a southern strategy, to a deep south strategy, to apparently now this morning we know it is a spoiler strategy. Deny Mitt Romney, specifically in isolation deny Mitt Romney.

O'BRIEN: We're going to see how that's going to work for him.

All right. Judge Crier, what have you got.

CRIER: I think Santorum ought to convince Gingrich that yes you can be the number two on the ticket because Gingrich is helping Romney by staying in there.

I think that it is a business situation. Bain Capital is perfect for this. The structure is all business right now even though we feel the heart and the emotion around the political process.

O'BRIEN: All right. And Brett, you get our final word this morning. Make it good.

O'DONNELL: All right. Well, I think the interesting thing about last night is that the "deny Mitt Romney" strategy may actually end up being "the help Mitt Romney" strategy. I think the best news of the night was that Newt Gingrich is staying in -- the best news for Mitt Romney.

O'BRIEN: Yes. That's an interesting case. I think every single time a primary ends we all sit around and say who -- fill in the blank -- might drop out. There seems to be no reason for that. Maybe ultimately that's about the super PACs.

What do people say? You don't lose presidential elections, you just run out of money? That's the way it ends.

And that is the way we end here.

I thank you, our panelists. Nice to have you join us this morning.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Always. Always with a bang as we head right off to "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello.

I'll see everybody back here tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. Good morning to you Carol.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]