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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Mitt Romney Wins Puerto Rico; Interview with Alice Stewart; Gas Prices Become Presidential Campaign Issue; Lady Gaga Discusses Having Children; Four Dead In France School Shooting; Snow Storms Slam Southwest; Apple May Offer Stock Dividend Today; Judicial Judgment Day; Courting The Court; White House Courts Conservatives; Oprah Cancels Rosie; Dishing Dirt On Tiger

Aired March 19, 2012 - 06:59   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: Our STARTING POINT this morning, all eyes turning to Illinois as Mitt Romney routes Rick Santorum in Puerto Rico. Tomorrow's primary could be the most critical of them all. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: This is the nastiest I have ever seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Strong words from Senator John McCain. We'll tell you why he believes Super PACs are destroying American politics.

Plus, gas pump politics dominating the conversation in the battle for the White House, but will any of the promises mean a payoff for drivers? We'll take a look.

And our "Get Real" this morning, Lady Gaga, the self-proclaimed mother monster talks about becoming a real life mom. She wants to have a soccer team of kids. I'm like what is that, 20? That's a lot of kids. It's Monday, March 19th, 2012. "Starting Point" begins right now.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

O'BRIEN: Can't go wrong if you start with Stevie Wonder, "Higher Ground." Welcome, everybody. Let's get right to our panel this morning. John Fugelsang -- I mess that up every single time.

JOHN FUGELSANG, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: I was 30 before I could say it. I feel bad.

O'BRIEN: Thank you, I feel so much better. He's a political comedian, also radio personality joining us. Chrystia Freeland is with us as well. She's an editor of Thomson Reuters Digital.

Can't go wrong with you're starting with Stevie Wonder, "Higher Ground." Welcome everybody. Let's get right to our panel, John Fugelsang. I mess that up every single time.

JOHN FUGELSANG, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I was 30 before I could say it.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Thank you, I feel so much better. He's a political comedian and radio personality joining us. Chrystia Freeland as well. She's an editor at Thomson Reuters Digital. And Will Cain is a CNN contributor and contributor to TheBlaze.com.

This morning we are talking about Rick Santorum placing this big bet on tomorrow's GOP primary in Illinois. Listen to what he's promised.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we're able to come out of Illinois with a huge or surprise win, I guarantee you, I guarantee you that we will win this nomination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: OK, well, that's kind of a bold prediction in a state where recent polling shows him trailing Governor Mitt Romney by a few points. Also, Governor Romney may have found added momentum with his win, he captured 83 percent of the vote, all 20 delegates. Rick Santorum was not able to garner much support. His own camp admitted that damage was done when he told a local newspaper speaking English should be a requirement for Puerto Rico to gain state hood. A spokesman wrote in a statement this, "Rick Santorum has the consistent core, and he showed that when he went to Puerto Rico and took a locally unpopular" -

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: It's hard to get through it - "principled stance about English being the official language of America. Mitt Romney on the other hand switched another of his positions to gain favor in Puerto Rico, saying Puerto Ricans shouldn't have to learn English if they want to become a state."

Romney now has twice as many delegates as any other candidates. A tally, he stands at 518 for Governor Romney. Senator Santorum with 239, Newt Gingrich has 139, and Ron Paul has 69 delegates for that congressman.

So we're going to get to Alice Stewart in a moment. First let's talk about what we have heard from Rick Santorum. He is promising as he goes into this that if he wins Illinois he will take the nomination.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Everyone's calling this Joe Namath moment when Joe Namath guaranteed a victory for the Super Bowl, before I was born. It is like the Joe Namath moment because when Joe Namath said that the Jets were massive underdogs. Rick Santorum is a massive underdog. He'd have to win 70 percent of the delegates. Why not make a Hail Mary prediction. It hurts nothing.

O'BRIEN: Because Super Bowl isn't about delegate counts at the end of the day about math.

CAIN: That's what I'm saying. He's behind on the scoreboard. Why not say this if I win this, I win the game?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think Will is right. I think there's no downside for Rick Santorum to say this. He's not a pundit. He's not a political analyst. This is a way of rallying the troops and also of saying, you know what, despite all of these guys on CNN who talk about delegate math and so on, I think I still have a chance and it's not going to be a wasted vote.

O'BRIEN: Let's bring in Alice Stewart, the national press secretary for the Santorum campaign. Nice to see you, Alice. Thanks for being with us. Let's talk about Puerto Rico. What do you think went wrong that the Senate lost?

ALICE STEWART, SANTORUM NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY: First, we're grateful for the opportunity to be on and glass to have the chance to go to Puerto Rico. But what Rick Santorum did when he went to Puerto Rico he told them where he stood on the English language and wasn't doing anything to take away their heritage but encouraged them to speak English in addition to Spanish and held true to his conservative principles, as opposed to Mitt Romney, who sold out for 20 delegates. Rick Santorum is not going to do that. He's going to be honest with them.

Mitt Romney went on radio and said you don't have to speak English. Continue to speak Spanish. He and the governor there sold out to the people of Puerto Rico and said speak Spanish, I won't require to you speak English and that is simply something that shouldn't happen. You shouldn't go down off the mainland and pander to a territory such as Puerto Rico for simply 20 delegates. And Rick Santorum wouldn't do that.

O'BRIEN: I think what he said was --

STEWART: And that was a factor in the outcome of election.

O'BRIEN: I think what he said was he wouldn't require English as a condition for statehood. Let's talk about what he said for Illinois, if I can win Illinois, I can win the nomination. Explain to me how that math would work?

STEWART: The Romney folks like to talk about math quite a bit. We're looking at the Rick's message and the momentum we have and his message is resonating. We've had great events in Illinois. He over- performs on Election Day, in many states, Alabama and Mississippi, while we are behind a little bit in the polls in Illinois we over- perform on the primary day. And Rick's message is working. People across this country are not satisfied with the direction of the country currently, and they're not satisfied with the message of Mitt Romney. Here he has name I.D. he has tremendous money advantage and he has a lot of support infrastructure on the ground. He is not winning overwhelmingly in these states. Goes to show he's not energizing the base. Rick Santorum is doing that.

O'BRIEN: I'll do some of the delegate math. In order to win the nomination, to get to 1,144 you would have to start picking up 66 percent of the delegates from here on out, roughly at the half way part. So far, you've been getting roughly a quarter of the delegates, so that would be a big, giant tremendous change in how you've done heretofore. How could that possibly happen?

STEWART: It's not about the math but the message as I said.

O'BRIEN: But actually it's about the math. That's the point, it does become about the math.

STEWART: Certainly, but while we'd love to take first place in all these states, we're racking up delegates in state after state after state. It doesn't have to be first place but second a lot of these states are proportional and we're garnering delegates.

And also it's important to note, Soledad, a lot of the delegates are still unbound and they will be decided at convention whether at the state level or in Tampa, and typically, the history has proven that the unbound delegates will be decided by the more conservative voters, conservative members of the party and those people will vote and show their support for Rick Santorum and not a moderate like Mitt Romney.

O'BRIEN: So is the opposite of what senator Santorum says also true if Mitt Romney, if Governor Romney is able to win Illinois, then he wins the nomination?

STEWART: Absolutely not. This is certainly a big milestone for us to do well in Illinois, but we also have states that are favorable to Rick coming up next in the primary calendar, Pennsylvania, his home state, being one of them. We have Louisiana coming up, and these are states that will show support for Rick Santorum.

And as I said, keep an eye on the unbound delegates. Those are going to go toward the conservative candidate and not towards Mitt Romney. More people are seeing Mitt Romney, Puerto Rico is a case in point, he will say one thing and do something completely different. He is not true to the conservative principles of himself and of the party. And we're seeing that also with the individual mandate. He told people he never advocated for the individual mandate on the national level. He's been saying that time after time and now he's saying that time after time, and now with an op-ed in which he advocated for the individual mandate on the national level.

O'BRIEN: But you need 905 delegates out of the 1,356 unallocated delegates, right? That's 65 percent plus of the delegates. STEWART: Certainly the magic number is 1,144, and if it's not achieved by the time we go to Tampa, we expect to see success as we get there. As I said when it gets to the unbound delegates and we get to convention, those are the hard core party people and they're going to sway toward the conservative candidate. They are not going to go towards the moderate candidate, because with Mitt Romney all the issues that are important to people are off the table when that comes to Obamacare, cap and trade, when it comes to Wall Street bailouts. These important issues that people care about are of the table.

But Rick Santorum has the contrast with Mitt Romney and President Obama, can he debate Obama on those issues and that's why the conservatives are rallies behind Rick Santorum.

O'BRIEN: Alice Stewart thank you for your time. We appreciate it.

STEWART: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Before we go to the headlines, I want to get an assessment of what she said.

FUGELSANG: Miss Stewart told the truth about Mitt Romney. He did run in Florida saying he would require English to be the official language, and so he did flip-flop on that issue. That's why we call them reversible Mittens. However, seeing that Rick Santorum's being true to his conservative principles, it seems to omit the fact that state's rights would allow a state to dictate what language they want to speak. So I think he was pandering to get votes back here, and when he using language like "off the mainland," I think that shores it up.

O'BRIEN: What do you make of the math?

CAIN: John is wrong about the Tenth Amendment thing. We've had this debate about the conditions Congress can put on states when they enter the union. I give Rick Santorum credit. He wasn't pandering. Mitt Romney pandered to the people of Puerto Rico. Here's what I want to ask Alice Stewart when we get a chance to talk to her, what is the floor? What is enough to stay in the race. If the 1,144 doesn't matter, can he go out throughout the rest of this time winning 10 percent of the delegates, 5 percent? What it will keep him from going to that floor?

O'BRIEN: Doesn't the person who comes to 1,144 become the nominee?

CAIN: What if no one does?

FREELAND: What was interesting to me was the emphasis on going to Tampa and the brokered convention. That is clearly what she's --

CAIN: They don't have the math. Is it enough?

FREELAND: She's talking about the unbound delegates and about a brokered convention, and she is not focusing now on Rick Santorum making the number. She's focusing on Mitt Romney not making the number.

O'BRIEN: I got to get to the headlines.

FUGELSANG: Give Santorum credit for making Puerto Ricans want to vote more Mitt Romney.

O'BRIEN: All right, let's get right to the headlines. Christine has those for us. Hey, Christine, good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Let's start in Yemen where militants there are claiming responsibility for killing an American teacher. A group linked to Al Qaeda claims the teacher was killed for Christian proselytizing. Government officials say Joel Shrum, who has been working at a school in Yemen for two years, was shot to death Sunday by two gunmen dressed in military uniforms.

The army staff sergeant accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians will meet with his attorney today for the first time. Robert Bales is being held at Ft. Leavenworth prison in Kansas while military prosecutors prepare charges again him. Afghan officials want Bales returned to stand trial on afghan soil. U.S. military officials say Bales single-handedly carried out those killings in the Afghan villages, a claim the Taliban rejects.

Dozens of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators arrested in New York City for trying to reoccupy their former home base in Zuccotti Park. They gathered to mark six months of the Occupy movement. Witnesses claim police gave protesters a little warning before kicking them out of the park and several were beaten while being arrested.

Nasty weather making its way across the country. It spawned tornados in Oklahoma and in Nebraska. Check out this incredible video, storm-chasers catching a twister as it touched down in willow, Oklahoma. Luckily there were no reports of damage. In Nebraska several homes were damaged by tornadoes but also derailed more than a dozen train rail cars as well.

The NCAA March Madness sweet 16 is now set. The biggest surprise, North Carolina State, an 11 seed, upsetting number three Georgetown to advance in the Midwest regional. The wolf pack will face second seed Kansas on Friday. American productivity in the workplace down substantially the next how many weeks?

O'BRIEN: Many. I don't know. Other people tell me how much it does.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: I work the same no matter what.

O'BRIEN: Thank you, thank you.

This is the story of a man who caused literally an international uproar when he told the world about the atrocities in the factories in China where Apple products are made. Turns out many of the claims were out and out lies. NPR is retracting the story which ran on January 6th. It was an episode of "This American Life." After learning that Mike Daisey's report on Apple was filled with factual errors. A clip from Daisey talks about workers he spoke to who he said had been exposed to a dangerous chemical used to clean the glass on iPads and iPhones. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE DAISEY: It's great, because it evaporates a little bit faster than alcohol does, which means you can run the production line even faster and try to keep up with the quotas. The problem is that N-Hexane is a potent neurotoxin, and all of these people have been exposed. Their hands shake uncontrollably.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Their hands don't shake uncontrollably. Apparently they loved the stage play that he had done around the issue. The guy was self-described as a geek, loves technology and then brought him on to sort of talk about that at which point he sort of shifted into an amateur reporter is what they called him, and that's when things got very, very messy. A lot of his reporting was not correct.

FUGELSANG: I don't think he ever sold himself as a reporter. He's a dramatist and it's sad it takes an incident like this to the headlines. As a man who does have one man show off Broadway you have to fictionalize.

O'BRIEN: For the show. For the show.

FUGELSANG: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: Not for the interview you're doing around your show.

FUGELSANG: When you're taking on a target like this, it is incumbent to be as honest as possible, you don't say you visited 10 factories when you only went to three and the real hero is the marketplace reporter who tracked down his translator. That was the one reason the shanghai based reporter found out that Michael had fictionalized a great part of the story.

O'BRIEN: Robert Schmidts was talking about the falsehoods.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You visited when you were there?

DAISEY: I believe I went to five.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you told Ira 10.

DAISEY: I know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

DAISEY: But now that I'm looking at it, I believe it was five.

END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: No, actually three. It wasn't five and it wasn't ten. This idea because he frames it as well you know this is a line about theater, and this is, you know, I shouldn't have, my biggest mistake was in --

FUGELSANG: Was going on "This American Life."

O'BRIEN: Yes, absolutely.

CAIN: A couple points on this, it affirms a narrative that many wanted to already believe, that there's a big bad corporation doing horrible things to people to put products in your hand that everybody wants to have, so we're all culpable. You know what, some of that might be true, but this guy just ruined that entire narrative for anyone who wants to seek that truth.

FUGELSANG: A lot of it is true.

FREELAND: I don't think he totally ruined the narrative. It does make me graceful to two upstanding media players here. First of all, I think NPR did a great job in their retraction. It was more than, you know, a one-minute, there were some errors in our previous show. They went back and re-reported it.

FUGELSANG: An amazing hour of radio.

FREELAND: They should get real credit for that. I'm grateful to the "New York Times" for their fantastic apple series. That covered a lot of the same ground and very carefully reported, less dramatically powerful maybe.

O'BRIEN: Right.

FREELAND: But it covers the facts there.

O'BRIEN: One-man show should stick to one-man shows and not into the reporting part.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, politicians playing the blame game as we've seen over gas prices. But will the promises save us any money at all? We'll take a look.

Plus mother monster Lady Gaga says she wants to be a real life mom. She wants a soccer team of kids. How many kids is that? Is that 11? Is that 20? I don't know. We're going to leave with you John's playlist, "Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn and John. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: That's off of Jim Burkhard's playlist, the Rolling Stones "Sympathy for the Devil." You can check out our entire playlist on our website, which is CNN.com/startingpoint. The presidential candidates are hoping to turn the pain at the pump into political gain. That wouldn't be the first time in the history of the world that that's happened. First let's get to some of the facts. The average price for a gallon of regular has gone up again this morning. It's now selling at $3.84 a gallon, up nearly 50 cents for the year, almost twice what it was when President Obama took office, and it's affecting the president's approval ratings. According to an ABC/"Washington Post" poll, 50 percent strongly disapprove of the president's handling of the economy, and that's up nine points from last month, that disapproval number.

Governor Romney says it's time to fire the people in charge of the oil supply. He says the president should get rid of energy secretary Steven Chu, should get rid of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and also get rid of EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Given the fact he now wants lower gasoline prices, I think it's time for him to fire his gas hike trio. It's time for those three to be let go and to return to policies and get us the energy we need.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Jim Burkhard is managing director of global oil group and joins our panel. It's nice to see you. He says get rid of the gas hike trio. Do you think that would have an impact on gas prices?

JOHN BURKHARD, MANAGING DIRECTOR, GLOBAL OIL GROUP, IHS CERA: No, it wouldn't.

O'BRIEN: Not, long-term, not short term, not at all?

BURKHARD: Probably not at all. The reason oil prices are high and consequently gasoline prices are high is because we have limited spare global production capacity, and that's exacerbated by the tensions related to the nuclear issue in Iran. If the nuclear issue gets solved, and some of that tension goes away, but that's a very difficult problem to solve.

O'BRIEN: Those are the biggest ifs we have going on in the country, maybe the world. So the White House, the administration says, there are no quick fixes to these rising gas prices. Everyone just has to sit around and suffer through it. Is that true?

BURKHARD: Yes, that is true. The price of gasoline is non- partisan. It's part of a global oil market, global gasoline market, and there are many factors around the world that shape that price -- demand in China, production in the Middle East. So it's difficult for any one country to exert unilateral influence over the price of oil.

FUGELSANG: To say nothing of the impact of the weather and the fact that Vladimir Putin made a lot of promises to get reelected that require him needing the price of oil to be as high as possible.

BURKHARD: The oil exporting countries, their budgets have gotten used to higher oil prices, and if there were to be a fall in oil prices sometime in the next year, that would have an adverse impact on the budgets of those countries.

O'BRIEN: When Newt Gingrich says we'll see gas down to $2.50 a gallon if he is elected, let me play a little chunk of that and I want to you comment on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president's been going around for two weeks because he began to realize two weeks ago that my campaign for $2.50 a gallon gasoline was catching on. And so he's made a whole series of speeches now on energy, and he keeps attacking us. Now, his first attack he said there is no silver bullet, which is baloney. There is a silver bullet. It's called drilling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: When I'm all for the campaign for $2.50 a gallon gas.

BURKHARD: Everybody is.

O'BRIEN: Where do we sign on? Is that realistic at all? ?

BURKHARD: There's no doubt that high gasoline prices are a big burden for American motorists. But there is no short term fix. There is no short term fix to the limited amount of spare and global oil production capacity. There is no quick resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue.

FREELAND: Jim, would the Keystone pipeline have an impact maybe not short term but medium term or is it all just about the global oil market, doesn't matter where the oil goes?

BURKHARD: Canada is our largest source of foreign oil to the United States by far, and the impact of Keystone is medium to long- term, and ultimately the decision is going to come down, do we want more Canadian oil in this country or not. So that's a medium to longer term issue.

O'BRIEN: So that wouldn't be a price issue. It would be more a strategic access issue?

BURKHARD: Both. If we foster more supply coming down from Canada, if Canada produces more oil to satisfy the American market, you have more supply, and at a given level of demand, more supply would tend to lower prices. So it's about getting oil from a secure, friendly source like Canada and also allowing more oil supply into the global market.

CAIN: So Soledad and Jim, let me clarify one thing at the table, everyone agrees short term gas prices and how they attach to presidents is pandering from politicians. You asked Jim a question at the beginning and used a term long-term. Now Chrystia is asking this question. Mitt Romney and the trio of other guys talks about high gas prices, is it not true that presidents have control over long-term prices, the decisions being made today could impact the price of oil several years down the road?

BURKHARD: Policies in the United States can have an impact longer term both on the demand and supply side. Both President Bush and President Obama have implemented higher fuel economy standards for cars. That will have an impact but it will take many years to field that.

On the supply side over the last few years we've seen a great revival in the U.S. oil production, and the U.S. has led -- among all the countries in the world the U.S. has recorded the biggest gain in oil production over the last three years. There are efforts on the demand and supply side that can have impact longer term.

O'BRIEN: Jim Burkhard, thank you for joining us. We appreciate your time this morning.

BURKHARD: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, a new book about Tiger Woods has been written by his old swing coach. He says Tiger is cheap and rude and selfish, and that's just kind of the start of it, and it goes downhill from there.

O'BRIEN: Also our "Get Real" this morning, Lady Gaga says to Oprah she wants to be a mom. She says she wants an entire soccer team of kids. Much more STARTING POINT, we'll talk about that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: I would have given that one to Will, but that one is Chrystia's, Dolly Parton, "Jolene."

It's time to "Get Real" this morning. Lady Gaga, the self- proclaimed "mother monster" wants to have little monsters of her own and lots and lots of them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LADY GAGA, SINGER: I want kids. I want a soccer team and I want a husband, and --

OPRAH WINFREY: A soccer team meaning many kids.

LADY GAGA: Yes, I do.

WINFREY: Enough to make a soccer team?

LADY GAGA: Well, you know, I'm being super -- but I don't want to have one kid. I want to have a few. WINFREY: Children?

LADY GAGA: Yes, I want to experience that. Not yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: When she did the original, I thought she was like I want to have kids. I want to buy a soccer team.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oprah's penetrating interview, children.

O'BRIEN: I think she's trying to figure out, like soccer team of kids?

CAIN: I like John's point. Soccer carries not near enough publicity for Lady Gaga.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If your kids are a soccer team that's a guarantee the American media will ignore them and leave them alone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe this is the younger generation, right, Lady Gaga, soccer is finally coming.

O'BRIEN: Exactly it's a sign. It's an indication of hope springing for soccer teams across America.

CAIN: Who is Stephanie Germada?

O'BRIEN: Lady Gaga.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You read your e-mail!

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, the fate of the U.S. health care system is in the hands of the Supreme Court next week. Is the president's plan constitutional?

Plus spring is around the corner, but snow is slamming into the southwest, lots of it. We'll tell you why some people say these rare snowstorms are a good thing. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: The fact that Jeff Toobin has picked this song makes me love him all the more. That's the Trans, "Disco Inferno," really who else plays "Disco Inferno" on a Monday morning?

And I'll talk to Jeff in just a few moments. We're talking about health care and the Supreme Court. First though, is got to get to headlines, Christine Romans has those for us. Hi, good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Developing this morning, three children and a teacher are dead after a shooting at a Jewish school in France. One of those kids just 3 years old.

Officials say the gunman was riding a motorcycle and used two different weapons. This is the third shooting in southwest France by a man on a motorcycle. Investigators claim the cases -- they suspect the cases may be linked.

While most states were getting a sneak peek at springtime weather this weekend with rare high temperatures, the southwest was getting slammed with snowstorms. Parts of Arizona buried in up to 14 feet of snow.

And Lake Tahoe was hit with three feet of snow in just 24 hours. That made for perfect ski conditions, allowing Tahoe ski resorts to open up more slopes and get more business.

I'll have to check that snow total in Arizona, 14 feet sounds like a misprint to me. Let's quick a check of the weather, meteorologist, Reynolds Wolf joins us now. What was it in Arizona, Reynolds?

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, we've heard a bunch of numbers. I'll double check that 14 feet too. It's a little bit, but I'm telling you it did happen. You got a lot of people in the ski country be thrilled with it.

Unfortunately, though today is not about the snow, it's about the heavy storms you might be seeing thunderstorms in parts of the central and southern plains and with that a chance of a few isolated tornadoes.

That threat doesn't exist just for Monday across parts of the southern plains as we have the moisture from the Gulf and the front moving in from the west. It's going to stick around from Monday and Tuesday.

But we're going to see that severe weather shift move into parts of say, Arkansas, perhaps along the Gulf Coast, Louisiana and maybe over in Houston, Texas.

So it's really going to be a two-day event we have to watch. Things should cool as we make our way into Wednesday. That's a quick snapshot of your forecast. Back to you in New York.

ROMANS: All right, thanks, Reynolds. "Minding Your Business" right now, U.S. stock futures trading lower ahead of the opening bell, but Apple shares are trading up about $600 a share as the level in premarket trading right now.

The company will hold a press, a news conference with investors at 9 a.m. Eastern time to talk about its huge cash stockpile. It has $98 billion just sitting in the bank and a lot of investors wanted to do something with that money.

What could it do? It could pay a dividend to shareholders, this is what is expected. It could also buy back its own stock. It could buy other companies or leave it in the bank and earn virtually nothing in interest.

Soledad the biggest business story in America today, what will Apple do with all of its money? We'll find out.

O'BRIEN: All good options at this point, every single one of them.

ROMANS: Good problem.

O'BRIEN: That's a great problem to have. It could pay down the deficit. It could solve world hunger also with that money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give everyone a lunch break in the factory.

O'BRIEN: Are you throwing stuff down? We'll get someone on that right away.

Let's talk about this debate that's happened in both Houses of Congress around of lower court rulings and then of course we're talking about the fate of the affordable care act, a signature piece of legislation of President Obama's first term in office.

It could come down to an opinion of a single person. The Supreme Court is going to start hearing arguments next week. Liberals are outnumbered on the court by just one seat and the administration is changing its tactic to secure that one conservative vote he would need to uphold the law.

Jeff Toobin is CNN's senior legal analyst. His latest book is called "The Nine," which is all about the nine members of the Supreme Court. He also has an article in today's "New Yorker" about the health care fight. It's nice to have you.

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Walk me through. The focus we know of this whole thing will be the commerce clause in the constitution.

TOOBIN: Correct.

O'BRIEN: Explain that.

TOOBIN: All right, remember, the Supreme Court is not deciding whether health care is a good idea, whether this plan is the right plan or not. All they are deciding is did Congress have the authority under the constitution to pass this plan.

And the Congress acted pursuant to the Congress Clause of Article One, which says the Congress can pass laws regulating interstate commerce. It's the grant of authority for most of what Congress does. Medicare, Medicaid, all have been done under the commerce clause.

O'BRIEN: So the bottom line is, is making people buy health insurance a legitimate use of the power of Congress? TOOBIN: Correct, and the challengers in these laws have said no. This is not something Congress can do. What I wrote in the "New Yorker" this week, what I think is that basically that is a really weak argument.

And that the United States Congress has been regulating health care for years. It has been involved in this market for years, and this is a perfectly ordinary use of Congress's power.

O'BRIEN: So walk us through arguments for and arguments against.

TOOBIN: Right.

O'BRIEN: I think also Will Cain is going to help with you arguments against.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's taking deep breaths.

O'BRIEN: Arguments for?

TOOBIN: -- is that everyone in the United States, whether you want to be or not, is in the health care market, because if you don't buy insurance and you get hit by a car, you're going to be taken to the hospital.

You are going to be -- your health care is going to be paid for by you and by me, the taxpayers are going to pay for your health care, so all of us are in the health care market.

The argument against is that Congress does not have the right to tell people to buy a product. You can't tell people to buy broccoli, can't tell people to do any -- make any purchase in the private market.

O'BRIEN: Why do you think that's not a valid argument?

TOOBIN: Because we tell people to do things all the time. You can't buy a car without seat belts. You have to buy a car with seat belts. This is part of the market.

You can, there's a famous Supreme Court case from the '40s which said you -- if you're a farmer, you can't grow wheat even if you are not even going to sell the wheat because it affects the national market.

CAIN: Two points of emphasis. This debate is not about whether health policy and the government's involvement is a good or bad idea.

TOOBIN: We agree on that.

CAIN: Second of emphasis, Jeff is alluding to -- this is a regulation of either activity or inactivity. The government's argument by not buying health insurance you eventually go to the hospital and therefore, your inactivity is activity.

The point I'm saying is this law says for the first time just by existing in this country, just by living, you have broken the law if you have not bought health insurance.

The difference between 1940, case called Wickard V. Philbin is the government said, this man must not buy, -- put a quota on how much wheat he could grow. The difference is this time they're saying what's something you must buy. They didn't say something he must buy.

O'BRIEN: Which -- we'll answer that but which justice are they focusing on?

TOOBIN: Well, first of all the government tells you to do all sorts of things. It tells to you pay taxes. It tells you to pay your Medicare taxes. That's another area --

CAIN: A regulation issue.

TOOBIN: That's another justification for this law, under the taxing power. There seem to be four votes almost for certain to uphold the law, the former liberal members of the court, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.

How are they going to get a fifth vote? Anthony Kennedy is usually the swing vote, but here you have several justices that have actually upheld broader grants of power, of federal power.

Justice Scalia had sometimes done it. Chief Justice Roberts has sometimes done it. The only sure vote that this is unconstitutional is Clarence Thomas because he has said he doesn't believe in this theory of federal power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't that irony the fate of this legislation may depend upon a chief justice's vote who Senator Obama voted against confirming.

TOOBIN: And vice president, the first time in history both the president and the vice president voted against the chief justice who swore in the president of the United States.

O'BRIEN: Now it looks like they might need him. All right, thank you, Jeff Toobin. Appreciate it.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, airing Tiger Woods' dirty laundry. The golf's superstar's former swing coach is dishing the dirt. He called Tiger cheap, rude and selfish.

Plus a St. Patrick's Day tradition in Boston, no holds barred political breakfast where they roast the GOP candidates. Kind of funny, here's a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: I see that both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum now have secret service with them on the campaign trail, and in Santorum's case, I think it's the first time he's actually ever used protection. Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: All right, hello people, trying to get back to the show, they're chitchatting across the table this morning. That was "Pumped Up Kicks" that's from Sharon Waxman's playlist.

She's the editor in chief of thewrap.com. One of the most influential Web sites in the entertainment industry. Lots to talk about this morning and lots to get to.

Let's begin with Rosie O'Donnell, sounds like absolute chaos and it ended with her show, I guess, over about six months roughly being canned.

SHARON WAXMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THEWRAP.COM: Yes, but I think the bigger problem is, did anybody in America really know that Rosie O'Donnell had a show on the air?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

WAXMAN: Not very many people were watching it.

O'BRIEN: So is that a Rosie O'Donnell problem or is that an OWN problem?

WAXMAN: It's an OWN problem. Oprah's network has had nothing, but problem after problem since it launched and it's been less than a year. And Oprah has put her brand all over this, taken over the company. She's become the CEO of this thing and she's on the air and programming and people are not watching this network. This is a big problem.

O'BRIEN: OK, so you think that the Rosie O'Donnell debacle -- it started off as an audience based show at the beginning and actually got great kudos for the programming of that particular show, even if it didn't have a lot of viewers.

WAXMAN: The issue first of all, it doesn't really matter about the programming if it gets great critical response if it doesn't have a lot of viewers, that part is the critical part.

There is a question for me as to whether or not Rosie's brand really fit with Oprah's brand. Oprah is very much about self- actualization and self-help and empowerment.

O'BRIEN: It seemed to be a sharp turn in prime time of the show.

WAXMAN: Yes, I mean, Rosie is very edgy and she's quite an aggressive and polarizing figure, which is a good thing if you're on television. You want to be somebody who attracts strong opinions one way or the other, but Oprah's whole brand is the positive kind of ethos and I don't know that Rosie really fit with that.

JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: It was a very positive show in many ways and full disclosure I worked as a consultant for Rosie and went out there to Harpo for a little bit and I think that one thing that I think I do want to stress is when they did shift formats and lost the audience, lost the band.

O'BRIEN: And then went to kind of a one on one.

FUGELSANG: Scaled down the show, Rosie did some really, really fine and penetrating one on one interviews but I think the problem was there was no lead-in. There's no platform for the show to be seen.

WAXMAN: You don't have a lot of time these days to establish a hit on television and OWN has not -- needed that. It needed like a strong stake in the ground.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, EDITOR, THOMSON REUTERS DIGITAL: Sharon, is the problem that the basic idea isn't going to work? I mean, I think that the Oprah Winfrey concept was she was bigger than the network, that she could break free of that.

And that in this internet age, when we're all jumping around and you can create new brands so easily that she was going to actually be able to break free and create her own platform, and Glenn Beck is trying to do the same thing. Is it turning out not to be the case?

WAXMAN: Here's the thing. A lot of people like to watch Oprah, that's what we know. We don't know if everybody wants to watch shows that Oprah recommends or puts together.

CAIN: Do we not, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Rachel Ray?

WAXMAN: She built those people on her own show and they had a platform.

O'BRIEN: Was Ellen an Oprah?

FUGELSANG: She was not but you're right, those personalities were developed, when Oprah tried "The Big Give" people weren't going for it. You start a network it's hard enough to start a show, but look at other networks and see how many incarnations and OWN may be a great place someday, but it's a revolving door of VPs.

O'BRIEN: Can I talk for the last minute about Tiger Woods? This book is so revealing. I think it's completely wrong to have your swing coach write a book about you, morally, ethically.

WAXMAN: I don't agree. I don't agree. First of all --

CAIN: Soledad or Hank Haney?

WAXMAN: I don't agree with Soledad.

CAIN: How dare you?

WAXMAN: Express an opinion? I haven't decided yet. It does seem a little creepy to me.

CAIN: It is mostly about golf and how he helped his swing.

WAXMAN: I haven't read the book that's for one thing.

O'BRIEN: Just the excerpts leaked.

WAXMAN: Yes, all I'm doing is making judgment from the coverage of what I've seen. But it seems to me that what I'm reading is that the book is mainly about golf and this coach allows himself to make some observations about Tiger's personal life, and what happened to Tiger in the wake of these huge sexual scandals.

So how can that person, who was so close into his life not be impacted by that by that and not make an observation about that.

CAIN: So you think it's fair game.

WAXMAN: I do.

FUGELSANG: But a book about golf would be incredible. As it is now, it looks like he's exploiting the man who gave him a career. He could have written a great book about --

WAXMAN: You get people talking about it? Like it or hate it --

O'BRIEN: Exploitation is the game.

O'BRIEN: OK, so a couple of quick things that he says about the book before I let you go. He seemed to think it was funny to be cheap. He is talking about Tiger Woods. He said he would ignore little kid autograph seekers who were begging him to stop. I mean, some of it seems like -- I don't know.

WAXMAN: Are you feeling bad for Tiger Woods? I'm really having a hard time with that.

O'BRIEN: I don't know that I feel bad. There is something about somebody who is your coach and close to you that is now revealing all of these things, yes.

WAXMAN: First of all, he knew the book was coming. I'm going to make a bet that there is a whole lot more that that coach knows he did not put into print.

FUGELSANG: Yes, fair enough.

FREELAND: I do feel bad for Tiger Woods actually because all of these people, the entourage. When you're on the way up, they're very supportive --

O'BRIEN: If a book comes out of the little relationship we have going on! Sharon, we will support you.

WAXMAN: All of that information.

O'BRIEN: Nice to see you and thanks for being with us. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT. It's a political rite of passage in the state of Massachusetts, a St. Patrick's Day breakfast. Republican Senator Scott Brown took some of the shots. We'll play a little bit and discuss it. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: (Inaudible) played that again in last week.

CAIN: Boston band played appropriately for the segment we're about to do.

O'BRIEN: I'm going to get to that. That was Will Cain's playlist last week. Everybody decked out in green in Massachusetts. St. Patrick's Day also came with a roast with the GOP candidates.

The annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day political roast is what it's called. The Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown kicked things off. Here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Listen. You all know that Newt Gingrich wants to build a colony on the moon. Forget the moon. I think he should build whatever planet Ron Paul is from. Really. It will work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That one didn't go over so well, but he did have some good lines in this. We will play a little bit of what he said about Senator Santorum. Listen to this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So I see that both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum now have secret service with them on the campaign trail and in Santorum's case, I think it's the first time he has ever used protection so -- yes, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: It's like, I don't know! I don't know! I don't know!

CAIN: Can I ask a question?

O'BRIEN: Of course.

CAIN: Serious question for John. These are some pretty decent jokes these guys got. Are they paid for them?

FUGELSANG: The last one was a decent joke.

CAIN: Do they hire people to write these?

FUGELSANG: Yes, they are.

O'BRIEN: Of course, they are.

CAIN: You tell me they're not naturally funny. I'm so disillusioned.

FREELAND: Isn't it hard to deliver it?

FUGELSANG: Absolutely. Having seen Scott Brown's nude lay out in Cosmo. I know he knows how to deliver a joke.

O'BRIEN: He did not!

FUGELSANG: Of course he did in the '80s. You haven't seen that?

CAIN: He did.

O'BRIEN: He did? I need to go to Will Cain to get confirmation. Really? Wow.

CAIN: I don't know how it ties into our segment, but John is in charge of that part.

FUGELSANG: But he wants you to know it was very cold in Massachusetts that day.

O'BRIEN: OK.

CAIN: So, yes, he's a funny good to begin with.

O'BRIEN: I don't know where to go with that so we are going to go to break.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT. Senator John McCain sounds fed up with the GOP race. We'll tell you why he calls the nastiest campaign ever.

Homes damage, people hurt, tornadoes hit America's heartland again. The threat is not over. STARTING POINT is back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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