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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Battle for New Hampshire; U.S. Debt Equal to Size of Economy; Iranian-American Sentenced To Death; Gas Prices Rising; Excedrin And BUfferin Products Recalled

Aired January 9, 2012 - 05:00   ET

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


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And a very good morning to you. It is really early. Hi. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

We're bringing you the news from A to Z. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. So, let's get started here.

It's New Hampshire eve as we're calling it around here. About 24 hours to go. The rivals are turning up the heat on Romney. Have you been watching?

A reporter from the "Concord Monitor" is going to join us later. She says many folks are still decided there.

BANFIELD: And if you have also been watching that other big story out of Penn State, they have a new head coach. Some call him an outsider. Others say, you know what? Maybe that's not such a bad thing. We're going to tell you the come to Jesus moment they had with this outsider and not bit any good with the team.

SAMBOLIN: We have an over-the-counter drug recall to tell you about this morning, painkiller and other drugs that many of you have in your medicine cabinets. They are Excedrin and Bufferin. We're going to talk with somebody about that.

BANFIELD: And did you hear the one about Tim Tebow? I'm kidding. Did you hear this one about Tim Tebow? Holy molly! And I stress the holy! Is it divine intervention?

What's this guy got that nobody else got? And will it get him all the way where he needs to go? I don't even like football and I'm excited about it.

SAMBOLIN: And a rookie to boot, right?

BANFIELD: I know. Who knew?

SAMBOLIN: All right. But up first this morning, it's final countdown to the New Hampshire primary, as you very well know. Republican field is tangled in two weekend debates, so they tangled, right? Mitt Romney comfortably in the polls right now, and we have other candidates trying to knock him down.

So here we are in the eve of the first in the nation New Hampshire primary. So, let's get some perspective and bring in our panel. S.E. Cupp is "New York Daily News" columnist. We have CNN contributor Will Cain. And from Washington, Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee.

Good morning to you. Thank you for joining us, everyone.

MO ELLEITHEE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good morning.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, Will, let's begin with you. Hey.

So, two new state polls show Mitt Romney slightly down.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hey.

SAMBOLIN: But still holding a solid double digit lead. In a Suffolk University/WDH poll, Romney leads 35 percent, Paul at 20 percent, Huntsman at 11 percent. And in an ERG poll, Romney leads 40 percent to Huntsman 17 percent, Paul, 16 percent there.

Is it a sure bet that Romney takes New Hampshire? And if so, does it make the next 24 hours really about who finishes third?

CAIN: Right. Who gets up at 5:00 a.m. now to talk about who finishes second and third, right? But here I am. And here we are.

And I'm telling you, that's what this is about.

SAMBOLIN: And we're happy you're here. We're happy you're here, yes.

CAIN: No, but seriously, it looks like this is about second and third. Romney does look like he's going to win New Hampshire handedly. I'm not making predictions because that would be a fool's game. But it does look like he has it.

Second and third is interesting because if Huntsman can creep into second and make you wonder where can he go from here and does he have to creep up not just in the second but a close second, which I would argue probably does.

So, yes, it's who is second and who's third and what kind of momentum does that give you going into South Carolina, which is going to be a much bigger indicator of where this is going to go in the future.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, S.E., let's turn to you. The polls were taken before this weekend's double debates where Romney's opponents went on the attack, especially former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

So, let's listen in and then I want you to weigh in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mitt, I realize the red light doesn't mean anything you to because you're the front- runner. But can we drop a little of pious baloney? The fact is, you ran in '94 and lost. That's why you weren't serving with Rick Santorum.

The fact is you had a very bad re-election rating. You dropped out of office. You had been out of state for something like 200 days preparing to run for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: All right. So that wasn't it. The candidates all took their turn going after Romney. Rick Santorum said when Romney faced a difficult re-election run, instead of seeking a second term, he ducked and decided not to run.

I'm going to play something from Jon Huntsman who some people said couldn't get into the mix. Listen to this and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You learn in one fell swoop the biggest difference between me and Mr. Romney. I'm somebody who believes in putting my country first.

(APPLAUSE)

HUNTSMAN: Mr. Romney apparently believes in politics first. I say that's a problem in this country right now. You hear what I'm saying?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So, S.E., how effective are these attacks against Romney? And will they even make a difference?

S.E. CUPP, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Yes. I mean conventional wisdom is that it's too little too late. It's like someone just told these guys that for months now, Mitt Romney has been the frontrunner.

You know, Jon Huntsman had a good performance, especially I thought in the Saturday night debate. And he delivered that line, you know, I put my country first. And this is why the country is partisan. This is what's wrong with the country.

But I actually think he missed a huge opportunity. For Huntsman to finally come out and say, look, I put my country first. I serve a Democratic president again. But supporting the president is not the same as supporting his policies. And here's where I differ with Obama on the policies.

That was his opportunity to woo conservatives. And I don't think he effectively did that.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Mo, if we can pull you into the conversation here. We want to talk a little bit about Huntsman because we just heard from him. And, you know, it's really important for him to stay in the mix. He's number three in the latest polls.

Do you think that he's going to be able to stay in the top three? If not, what happens?

ELLEITHEE: Well, if not, I think he's done. He staked his entire campaign on New Hampshire. And he's got to -- there is probably three tickets out of New Hampshire on to South Carolina. He's got to have one of those three or else his campaign is done.

Whether or not he makes it, it's hard to say. The polls are kind of -- you know, while Romney is out front by wide margin, everyone else could have bunched up for that second and third slot. I do think, you know, once again it shows the challenge. Every cycle, there is somebody out there who says, I'm going to skip Iowa, go straight to New Hampshire and bank their entire campaign on that.

It's tough. You don't see that work all that often because you're just out of the conversation. Everyone is so focused on Iowa for so long. You're out of the conversation. And so, he missed an opportunity to get any momentum or buzz coming out of Iowa.

I think he could still do well in New Hampshire. But, you know, it remains to be seen. Yes.

SAMBOLIN: All right. S.E. Cupp, Will Cain, Mo Elleithee, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

And, of course, you can stay with CNN for the best political coverage on television. At 7:00, we'll have brand new poll numbers on the New Hampshire race.

And at 7:30 Eastern, on "STARTING POINT," Soledad O'Brien will be joined by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul as well.

BANFIELD: I feel like we commissioned the edge for that music. Honestly, doesn't that sound like U2? I was going to say that we commissioned the edge for that music. And if he's watching, I'm sure they'll have an issue with that.

A couple news headlines for you.

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was attending a memorial vigil in Tucson over the weekend because it was one year ago that that shooting rampage killed six people and wounded three others, or 13 others, rather. Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly spoke at the event. And Giffords herself led the crowd in an emotional Pledge of Allegiance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: OK. We have Goose bump patrol on the set.

Christine Romans, you have said it, I just said it, I just can't believe seeing that, especially since she's still in recovery mode from that enormous head injury that she sustained from that gunshot. I am so glad to see that. I had to cover that story and I remember thinking there was that erroneous reporting that she had died.

SAMBOLIN: Right.

BANFIELD: And then this. I mean, here we are a year later. It's a great story.

SAMBOLIN: It's nice to report that and see her doing so well.

BANFIELD: Honest, really. The Goose bumps were there.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Eight minutes past the hour here.

The U.S. markets kicked off 2012 on a high note. But Friday, the Dow and S&P 500 both slipped less than 0.5 percent. NASDAQ eked some small gains.

BANFIELD: That's why we're singing Friday, Friday.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: Christine is here on Friday. Sorry.

Christine Romans is talking on Monday about Friday. I always love these day to day reports, especially whether we got our 2011 report which was --

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I know. Don't get too worked up about one day. But I can tell you that this morning, things are feeling OK. You got futures looking up a little bit.

But the big story here is that the United States is showing signs of live in terms of its economy. A lot of concerns about Europe. So, we'll be closely watching Europe and the rest of the world for growth there. So, even as the U.S. is starting to look up you guys, we still have the big global world and the stocks respond to what's happening elsewhere.

So, we're watching Europe a lot.

BANFIELD: The world is flat.

ROMANS: And earnings, too. Right.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: All right. And there's a story this morning that you love talking about. It's America's huge national debt.

ROMANS: I know. I love talking about debt.

SAMBOLIN: If you could just control it, right?

ROMANS: Well, you know, we've been talking -- here at CNN, we've been talking about this since 2004, 2005 as our debt was going up, up, up. Now, it's a big political story.

But front page to "USA Today" bringing it right home for you guys that the U.S. debt, our overall debt has now surpassed the size of the economy. The U.S. economy is $15.17 trillion. The size of our debt, $15.23 trillion.

Now, this is -- it's a milestone. It's important. It is a warning sign that there is a debt bond in the United States. Even as we're talking about pulling back the reins on spending, trying to figure out how to get our deficits in control, we still have a lot of problems here.

But the debt we owe other people, this is an important one to watch, it's about $10.5 trillion. That's the number that economists say is really important to watch. That means our debt is about 70 percent of our GDP.

So, the bad news is we're there. I mean, our big debt is bigger than our economy. The good news is when we look at just the debt we owe others, it's still about $10 trillion, too big but gives us a little breathing space.

BANFIELD: And as our debt continues to like grow exponentially, is our GDP going to grow exponentially?

ROMANS: Boy, you need to have your GDP growth. You need your growth.

The economy needs to grow faster right now, otherwise, your debt is going to grow faster than your economy. And that means as time goes on, you're just paying your interest on your bills to such an extent that you can't pay for other stuff. And that's a real problem.

This is what -- Republicans are talking about the campaign trail. The important thing is how you're going to fix it. That's where it gets tricky.

BANFIELD: By the way, how about the 15 percent of people who don't pay their taxes?

ROMANS: Yes. Can you believe this? Fifteen percent of people don't pay taxes. It's an unbelievable number, $385 billion, another IRS number.

The IRS in 2006 was $385 billion short. Now the good news here is that you and I, Joe and Jane, W-2 worked for a company.

BANFIELD: Yes?

ROMANS: Oh, they're getting the money out of us, don't worry. We're paying all of our taxes.

BANFIELD: It's automatic.

ROMANS: It's automatic that they our money. But companies, small businesses and individuals underpaying to the tune of $385 billion.

BANFIELD: Can you get a close-up on this? Because I want to ask you a question about this pie chart, that big black area right there. Look at them. They had it produced into a graphic in 20 seconds flat.

ROMANS: Yes.

BANFIELD: How much of that is General Electric?

ROMANS: Very funny. Underreporting of income. And it's not exactly evading income, but it's exactly you say you're going to pay X and you don't actually pay it. That's the problem there.

And when you're talking about those deficits that we were talking about and the national debt that we were talking about a moment ago, underreporting income and not paying all your taxes becomes that much more critical. And you can imagine that the IRS is going to come after you. You know millionaires --

BANFIELD: I want to see that on the campaign trail.

ROMANS: One out of eight millionaires are being audited, the highest in many years.

SAMBOLIN: Wow.

ROMANS: So, yes, so, millionaires listen up. The IRS is looking at your books.

SAMBOLIN: A little heads up for everyone. Thank you.

ROMANS: They want to make sure where the money is. That they're getting the money they're owed.

BANFIELD: And if the IRS doesn't get you, Christine is coming.

ROMANS: No. I'm the good cop.

BANFIELD: Thank you, Ms. Romans.

We got a couple other things that we want to get under way as well, because we like to do something like get you ahead of the game, alert you as to what's happening. Not just the news from overnight and this morning, but to get you on to what's going to be in prime time tonight.

Here's a big one. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is taking shots at the United States right in his own backyard. He's going to meet with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez today. He's on a four-day nation tour of Latin America. He's also going to visit Nicaragua.

Did I say that right?

SAMBOLIN: Nicaragua, yes.

BANFIELD: Ecuador.

SAMBOLIN: Ecuador.

BANFIELD: And Cuba.

SAMBOLIN: Cuba.

BANFIELD: I'm getting lesson.

SAMBOLIN: And the Supreme Court is stepping into the Texas redistricting showdown today. We'll hear arguments over new election maps that were changed by the GOP-controlled Texas legislature after the last census. So the changes could determine which party has control of the House of Representatives in 2013. Latinos say they were ignored when they carved out these new boundaries.

BANFIELD: And the future is on display today, if you just happened to be at the consumer electronics show. It's kicking off in Vegas, baby. And what stays in Vegas is leaving Vegas. Trust me, because this is the biggest tech showcase in the world. Ultrathin laptops.

SAMBOLIN: Look at that.

BANFIELD: Smart TV. And even more powerful phones expected to dominate as the companies try to play catch up to Apple.

SAMBOLIN: Trying to figure out what all those gizmos are.

And it's being called the rematch of the century. Number one LSU and number two Alabama playing tonight in the Super Dome for the BCS national championship. LSU handed Alabama its only loss of the year back in November in their first meeting.

BANFIELD: There was some BCS controversy. Again, I am not a football person. I know they get --

SAMBOLIN: We will be after we're done here, I'll tell you.

BANFIELD: I'm pretty sure they don't get baskets in football games. But I do remember something about the BCS as a big old hassle a few years back. I'm glad they -- well, I assume they settled it. I have no idea what I'm talking about.

But I do one thing --

SAMBOLIN: We'll look it up.

BANFIELD: It's 14 minutes past 5:00 and my mind doesn't work so fast at this hour. I do know one thing and that Rob Marciano may be very, very pretty. But Alexandra Steel is prettier.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. But he's extremely pretty on the pretty scale.

BANFIELD: But you know he got us gifts.

SAMBOLIN: Boy pretty.

STEELE: He is smart and smooth and cute. He's got it all.

BANFIELD: What did you get us?

STEELE: Nothing. I'm sorry. I'll bring you something after. How about some more coffee?

SAMBOLIN: How about some good weather?

STEELE: All right. Good morning, everyone. Let's look at the travel forecast. Now, really the Southeast is seeing the bulk of the issues, be it the rain, the snow and, yes, snow in west Texas, and also the fog. A lot of fog, especially in Georgia and Alabama this morning.

Here is the Southeast radar picture. West Texas, three to six inches of snow, even up to eight for some areas. East Texas, one to three inches of rain. And, you know, desperately needed in this La Nina winter. Very dry there.

So as we head from there all the way farther eastward, what we're seeing here, more rain. So, the mid-Atlantic, the Southeast really going to see the rain today. And even look at this, Blue Ridge Mountains, hey, good morning out there, you're getting snow.

Moving all the way to Washington, not the snow, but the rain. Washington, almost 70 just two days ago. But again, just rain for you.

So big picture -- here's the rain in the Southeast. That's all the action. The snow in west Texas. And the mild air continues to come down. Temperatures well above average.

Take a look at these. Minneapolis, 44 degrees today guys. Above average almost 20. But upper Midwest, Northern Plains, extremely warm. But by the time we get to Thursday, these places like Minneapolis that are 44 will be to 17.

The cold air is coming. It's going to take a couple days.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, poor folks.

BANFIELD: Always is. You know if you get the bonus now, you're going to pay for it.

STEELE: That's right. Absolutely. It's been mild. But certainly, it will change.

BANFIELD: And, by the way, I asked Rob Marciano just to humor me ever so often and put Winnipeg on the map, because that's where I'm from.

STEELE: Yes.

BANFIELD: I'm telling you, my brother sent me a picture. There is almost no snow on the ground which is unheard of.

STEELE: Absolutely. And so many places. Even the iconic pictures of New Hampshire this time of year, right, with the snow and the town squares.

SAMBOLIN: But you know what?

STEELE: What?

SAMBOLIN: Our reporters are freezing their you know what's off up there.

STEELE: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: We'll take it. A little warm up and then cold temperatures, we'll take it.

STEELE: Great new show, guys. Best of luck.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

STEELE: And we're loving you.

BANFIELD: Thank you.

STEEL: You are a gift.

BANFIELD: Hey, by the way, are you related to Remington?

STEELE: Yes, he's my daddy.

BANFIELD: Thank you, Alexandra.

STEELE: Sure.

SAMBOLIN: All right. It is 16 minutes past the hour. Time to check the stories making news this morning.

The Republicans are making their final push in New Hampshire on the eve of the nation's first primary election. Mitt Romney is still the man to beat. And he's taking lots of heat from his fellow candidates. They are trying to close the gap.

BANFIELD: And a pharmaceutical company called Novartis is recalling a few popular over-the-counter medicines. So listen up. It all happened after some complaints came in of mislabeled or broken pills. And the recall includes bottles of Excedrin and NoDoz. That's what we all take, with the December 20th, 2014 expiration date or sooner.

And also bottles of Gas-X and Bufferin with an expiration of December 20th, 2013.

SAMBOLIN: And Tim Tebow's playoff magic. His 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime led the Denver Broncos to an overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday. The Tebow-led Broncos advance to play the New England Patriots next week. I'm sure you didn't miss any of that, right?

BANFIELD: I missed the whole thing. I have to read up on it today.

Look, I'm a Tebow fan because only he makes news. But I'm not a football fan. I think I could be someone though.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my goodness.

BANFIELD: Actually, we have another football story that's making news and that is there is a new head coach of Penn State. And we all know it's a very controversial story at Penn State. But this could be a about thing for this group, at least they're thinking so after thinking not so much beforehand.

SAMBOLIN: And look at this. This bungee cord snapped over croc-infested waters. Oh my goodness! Find out what happens to the jumper.

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: It is 21 minutes past 5:00 a.m. on the East. And if you're in Los Angeles, you probably had a really crazy Sunday night of partying and probably heading to bed.

SAMBOLIN: Perhaps.

BANFIELD: Night-night. But if you're not heading to bed and just waking up, we have the morning papers for you and a couple things we've been seeing from Miami, all the way to Chicago.

Let me start with "Miami Herald." Been to this store? CompUSA. Yes. Bet you didn't know what might have been going on behind closed doors.

The founders of that company, three brothers, the Fiorentino brothers, under some serious speculation after a lawsuit has been filed against them. Actually, it's weird, though. Only two of the brothers are being sued, Carl and Patrick. But their other brother, Gilbert, made a deal with the parent company of CompUSA, because the parent company is livid.

Are you ready for the accusations they're filing against these three brothers, the founders? They are suggesting, and I'm not kidding here, that they looted this company of millions by stealing electronics, by going on exotic trips on the company payroll, taking kickbacks from vendors, and then -- I love this one -- using employees for their personal errands. I didn't know that was so --

SAMBOLIN: It's far too often, right?

BANFIELD: It's annoying but I didn't know it was illegal.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BANFIELD: Anyway, this is a civil suit. They're not saying how much they're suing for. But it's estimated there are at least $17 million in electronics that are missing. So, we keep your eyes on that.

SAMBOLIN: Can we go to my hometown now of Chicago?

BANFIELD: Chicago, yes.

SAMBOLIN: So, we're going to check in on the "Chicago Sun Times."

They're reporting on big problems with Project Shield. What is it? It's a $45 million homeland security program. What it's supposed is to make Chicago area safer.

But there have been a lot of equipment failures, missing records, untrained first responders, millions of dollars wasted. So, it was supposed to happen here. Two police squad cars and 128 suburbs were supposed to be fitted with cameras capable of feeding live video to central command. In addition, there were fix-mounted cameras to be installed to feed pictures in case of a terrorist attack or emergency.

It has failed miserably. Apparently, the cold weather has played a part in that. The cars malfunctioned during all of the extreme hot and cold temperatures. There was a lack of training.

And so, Republican Senator Mark Kirk who was the congressman when this happened said, that if you do a Google search of $43 million, this is what you would find, wasted by the federal government. Just did not work.

BANFIELD: Unfortunate. We don't like to hear about taxpayer money being wasted.

SAMBOLIN: Nope.

BANFIELD: Spring semester starting at Penn State. I don't know if you're following it. But there is a big news story out of Penn State. Big news story and now big sports story, too.

See that guy? That's your new head coach Bill O'Brien. He was the New England Patriots offensive coordinator. But he is now the replacement for Joe Paterno.

Now, a lot of people suggested he was an outsider. He wasn't a former Penn state player or coach. And that wasn't so key for a lot of folks. They didn't like that right away.

And we're also hearing that one of the biggest breaks in the child rape investigation of Jerry Sandusky may have actually been penned by Mr. Sandusky himself in his book. And I didn't know this. But the book is called "Touched." We'll talk a little bit about what's in the book and about this head coach from Sarah Ganim.

Sara Ganim is a crime reporter for "The Patriot News." She's live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for us this morning.

Sara, I love talking to you because you just have your finger on the pulse of this story and I'm not talking just since everybody else got on it. But you've been on it since March and there is a significance to that, which I'm going to get to in a minute.

But first I want to find out about this new head coach. And if this is one of the jobs nobody else wanted.

SARA GANIM, CRIME REPORTER, "THE PATRIOT NEWS": It's interesting because that's what had been widely reported here in Pennsylvania and really within the sports nation that nobody wanted this job. That this was toxic.

But it turns out, according to the search committee members who were allowed to speak for the first time, once Bill O'Brien was officially announced on Saturday, they say that's not the case. That they had stacks and stacks and stacks of resumes from very highly qualified and big name coaches.

But the way that this played out, they weren't looking for necessarily a Penn State person but what they called a Penn State -- someone with Penn State heart. And they found that in Bill O'Brien. They said his name was in their piles from the beginning, although there wasn't so much direct contact from the beginning because of, you know, the situation with football and with pro football, college football. You know, if you have a job, you don't necessarily want to jeopardize it by looking for a job.

But by the time they got so far in the negotiations where they were talking to him face-to-face, they really just fell in love with him.

BANFIELD: And they had some sort of a come to Jesus meeting this weekend with the players and some of the other folks within the organization to just win them over?

GANIM: You know, he said he couldn't wait to get started. He couldn't wait to meet the players and meet some of the key people at Penn State University. Although on Saturday, it seems like about 100 fans, about 100 people that were not part of the media or with Penn State but were in Penn State garb showed up and were cheering loud applauses that caused them to stop for a minute during his speech and, you know?

So, it seemed like people were accepting of him although there have been some very vocal people who disapproved --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Let me move on quickly to Rodney Erickson. He was the second in command at the university. And now, he's taken over as new university president. I know that you were in a news conference with him asking about what did you know, when did you know it?

He's suggesting he didn't know anything until the grand jury testimony came out. But you who was reporting on this story back in March, asked him, what are you talking about? People have been reporting on this since March. Are you kidding me? And he didn't answer?

GANIM: Right. Right after Bill O'Brien was announced as head coach, he made himself available to a small group of the media. And someone actually asked him, how is it that Penn State seems like they were so caught off guard when this was widely reported as far back as March? He said, you know, I didn't know anything until November when I read the grand jury report. I didn't know Penn State was involved. I had heard some things about something in another county but didn't know anything about Penn State.

Well, you know, I basically followed up with my report in March mentions that your president -- your former president and head football coach Joe Paterno, several other people had testified before the grand jury were involved in this investigation and that Penn State had a report from 10 years ago of alleged abuse against Jerry Sandusky. He said, you know, I didn't know anything about that, I didn't know anything about it in March. Did you read the story? And he said no.

BANFIELD: How about did you read the book? I mean, Jerry Sandusky's own book said this, "I have always professed that some day, I would reap the benefits of maturity, but my lifestyle just wouldn't let me." And I find it fascinating that actually has gone, you know, increased the investigation and led to more charges.

But I'm flat out of time. Your work has been great. Keep it up. We'll definitely talk to you again on this one. Thanks, Sara.

GANIM: Of course.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-eight minutes past the hour. We're totally switching gears.

Did you hear that Beyonce's baby arrived?

BANFIELD: No.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. We'll tell you the name.

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: 5:31 a.m. That's if you live in the east, and it's really late at night in the west.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. This is Ashleigh Banfield. Welcome back to EARLY START.

On the agenda in the next half hour for you --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Major over-the-counter drug recall here. Painkillers and other drugs you might have right in your medicine cabinet. We're going to talk to somebody about what you should be concerned about.

BANFIELD (voice-over): And normally you're not allowed to say oh, Jesus, but when you talk about Tim Tebow, you can say oh, Jesus, because look at this, 80 yards. He could go all the way, and he did! Yes, baby! That's what you call a win in OT. I swear to God I am auditioning right now for ESPN. That is what I'm doing and down goes the prayer. OK. So we're going to --

SAMBOLIN: You might have to live a little bit more about sports if you're auditioning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD (on-camera): I don't know jack about sports.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: You know why I don't know about football? Because in Canada where I grew up, I think there's a --

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Hockey.

BANFIELD: -- four downs -- well, that, definitely. There's four downs and there's three in American football, right?

SAMBOLIN: I'm not a football fan either, but we're going to talk to somebody that will kind of scoop us this morning.

BANFIELD: Thank God you got two girls on the set who don't know anything about football, and Tim Tebow is the biggest story right now. Anyway, we're going to tell why you that is so significant and what it means, and blah, blah, blah, blah. That's what we're going to do.

In the meantime, though, at 5:32, it's a good time to check headlines for you if you're about to head out the door.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD (voice-over): After two weekend debates, yes, there were two this weekend, one last day of campaigning. Well, kind of like two, really. The Republican candidates are heading into the nation's first primary tomorrow. There were caucuses. Now, it's a primary. And Mitt Romney is well ahead in the New Hampshire polls.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): And new this morning. An Iranian- American on trial in Iran for espionage has reportedly been sentenced to death. A news agency report says that Amir Mirzaei Hekmati was convicted of spying for the CIA. He was arrested in August while visiting relatives. Amir's family and the U.S. government claim he has been falsely accused.

BANFIELD (voice-over): In the meantime, the president of that country, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is in Venezuela today meeting with President Hugo Chavez. He also plans to visit Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Cuba. It's sort of a Latin-American tour of sorts.

SAMBOLIN: And for the first time since the middle of October, we are paying more for gas. According to the Lundberg Survey, gas prices jumped 12 cents. That was over the last three weeks. It is now a national average of $3.36 a gallon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD (on-camera): OK. If you're gearing up for another voting day, we happen to be in the Election Center if you couldn't tell from the -- how many flags are there -- I can't even count them, but this is the Election Center and this is another election week. Primary.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): It's the eve. Yes.

BANFIELD: Hmmm?

SAMBOLIN: It's the eve.

BANFIELD: It's the eve. It is. We've got about 36 1/2 or three quarter hours until voting gets under way in New Hampshire, and boy, was it a fun weekend if you're geeky and you like debates and you're wonky, because there were a couple debates and there was also some serious last-minute campaigning, too.

And did you see the one about Chris Christie in New Hampshire? He's stumping for Mitt Romney, and someone in the audience is getting all up in his grill and here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: Americans are right to be angry. They're right to be disappointed in the government than in Washington, D.C. is doing nothing but posturing and bickering and solving nothing for the people who wind up needing, needing to get this done. Really?

(CHEERING)

CHRISTIE: You know, some may go down tonight, but it ain't going to be jobs, sweetheart.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BANFIELD: Oh, snap! No, you didn't. And then, OK. So, that was after the campaign, we got into the debating and Mitt Romney was railing on his colleagues for being career politicians and the like, and then, Newt came in with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Can we drop a little bit of a pious baloney? You've been running consistently for years and years and years. So, this idea that suddenly citizenship showed up in your mind just level with the American people. You've been running for at least since the 1990s.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: So, that just might be the line, what, at least of the week anyway, the pious baloney. Let's bring in S.E. Cupp who is at the "New York Daily News." She's a columnist. Will Cain who is a columnist with "The Blaze" and also works for us here at CNN, and from Washington, Democratic strategist, Mo Elleithee.

All right, you guys. I know you were chewing all over this one this weekend because it was kind of fun to watch that stuff, but there's something serious going down with Jon Huntsman. This is a guy who has staked his campaign out in this state, and he wasn't doing so well, but there are a couple of polls.

We'll get to those in a minute that show he's doing well, and man, did he have a great moment in this debate, especially when Mitt Romney was going all over him about having served under the Obama administration, having been an ambassador to china under Obama, and then, I love this moment when Jon Huntsman said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The person who should represent our party running against President Obama is not someone who called him a remarkable leader and went to be his ambassador in China.

JON HUNTSMAN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This nation is divided, David, because of attitudes like that.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: That's some powerful stuff, S.E. Cupp, don't you think?

S.E. CUPP, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Yes, but, you know, it was a great line. It played really well in the room. And it was finally Huntsman's moment to hit a one liner on the right tone, but like I said earlier, he missed an opportunity. He should have laid out for conservatives why his policies are different than Obama's.

That's what they want to hear. You know, I grew up just down the street from Manchester on the border of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and when I drove up to Manchester yesterday, all I saw were Ron Paul signs, Fred Karger signs, Mitt Romney signs. Jon Huntsman does not have a huge presence here.

I don't know if this is mostly, you know, fiction and sort of mythology that he's got this huge groundswell of support in New Hampshire, but I am not seeing it on the ground yet.

BANFIELD: Well, tell you what, maybe, it's not on the ground, but it is sure in the polls. The latest poll from Suffolk University tracking has him coming in at not a distant third. Take a look. Romney at 35, Paul at 20, Huntsman at 11. And if you skip over to the American Research Poll, he does even better.

Romney is sitting at 40. Huntsman is coming in at a cool 17. And, you know, one of my colleagues from a former network, I'll just say it, it's MSNBC. Chris Matthews had this hilarious line. He said South Carolina is going to be --

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: Five vettings (ph) and a funeral.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: Will Cain, who is going to get the vettings, who is going to have the funeral?

WILL CAIN, COLUMNIST, THE BLAZE: You know what, I actually totally agree with Chris Matthews on this. The only threat coming out of New Hampshire if anyone dropping out is Jon Huntsman. Jon Huntsman, there's a reason we're talking about Huntsman so much. Over the next 24 hours, his campaign will largely be determined.

The other candidates will be determined in South Carolina. And Huntsman, my friend S.E. Cupp and I have had long debates about Jon Huntsman. That clip you played earlier, Ashleigh, the greatest line from that clip was what he said afterwards. He said, like my son who serves in the navy, I don't --

BANFIELD: Both of his sons. He said both of my sons serve in the navy and they do not ask their leader.

CAIN: Exactly. So -- but here's what I want to say about that. There are many reasons conservatives can have problems with Jon Huntsman. I personally think on the economic front, he's one of the most conservative candidates out there. You can dislike that he --

BANFIELD: Really?

CAIN: -- cap and trade and has since walked back on that. You can dislike that he's condescending, but one thing you shouldn't begrudge the man is that he worked for Barack Obama. That is not the line of attack, I think, conservatives should be using if you dislike Jon Huntsman. BANFIELD: Let me get Mo in here. I want you to just weigh in on -- is it really effective strategy to rail on someone for being a political insider, you know, for suggesting that they have a lot of experience in the beltway? Has that worked in past elections? Because that is really attack people like to take in this particular campaign.

MO ELLEITHEE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think in this political environment, it sure does. I mean, when you look at just about any poll and people's approval ratings of Congress and Washington, D.C., I mean it's in attack. People hate Washington right now. You got Congress with nine percent approval rating --

BANFIELD: People hate Washington every election cycle.

ELLEITHEE: Yes, but there's something --

BANFIELD: Is it the Tea Party, do you think?

ELLEITHEE: I got to say --

BANFIELD: Is it going after Tea Party block with the year and insider (ph)?

ELLEITHEE: I got to say, I think so. I think in a Republican primary, absolutely. But I think there's a general dissatisfaction with Washington across the ideological spectrum. So, going after that, it's an understandable strategy. I agree that going after Huntsman's service is not necessarily the right one or the most effective one.

BANFIELD: All right.

ELLEITHEE: I thought Gingrich, actually, had a great line in the way he went after Romney. Romney who's railing against Washington, and then the one who served in Washington but spent 20 years running for office.

BANFIELD: Right. And I think he wraps it up with the line of the century, cut the pious baloney. I loved it. OK, guys. I got to wrap it there, because we have a lot more stuff to go, but we're going to come back to you in the next hour, as well. So, Will, S.E., and Mo, thank you all.

ELLEITHEE: Thanks.

CAIN: Thank you.

CUPP: Thanks.

SAMBOLIN: It is 40 minutes past the hour here. A woman cheats death after her bungee cord snaps.

BANFIELD: This is the creepiest video.

SAMBOLIN: Have you seen it? (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD (voice-over): Ugh!

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Incredible. Take a look at this. Unreal. Yes, there it goes. Oh, my gosh. So, it happened in Zimbabwe. It snapped about 30 yards over the water. Crocodile infested waters, and she was dragged down stream with her legs still tied.

ERIN LAUNG WORTH, AUSTRALIAN TOURIST: It went black. Straight away, and I felt like I've been slapped all over. I actually got to swim down and yank the bungee cord out of what I was caught in to. I think it's definitely a miracle that I survived.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, that's definitely, definitely a miracle. She made it to the rocks on the river bank where rescuers actually pulled her to safety. You can take a look there. She's covered in bruises and scrapes, but doctors are amazed that she didn't suffer any major injuries. The company says the operations are safe and that the broken equipment was replaced.

BANFIELD: That's good to know.

SAMBOLIN: I don't know, would you try it?

BANFIELD: No, I did. I jumped 229 feet over Skipper's Canyon in New Zealand.

SAMBOLIN: But would you do it after something like this with the same company, right?

BANFIELD: Hell, no!

SAMBOLIN: I mean --

BANFIELD: I wouldn't do it again, anyway. I did it once. I could check that off my bucket list. I'm not doing it again. What's great here is, though, it snapped just at the right time. If it snapped earlier where she hadn't had some bungee kick in and bring her momentum down and her speed down, it would have been lethal, but this is an unbelievable story that she survived.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Lucky, lucky lady.

BANFIELD (on-camera): All right. So, we got a recall to tell you about. If you take a couple of popular drugs, this is going to affect you. There it is. Bufferin. If you take Bufferin and a couple other popular things, you might want to check your cabinet, Excedrin, a couple of other gas (INAUDIBLE) yes, gasX prevention.

We're going to let you know which of these you need to toss out and you do need to do it. You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Hi, everybody. It's 45 minutes past the hour or 15 minutes to the hour, depending on how you like it. We have a big story for you this morning, especially if you're going to go pop a Bufferin right now, you might want to hang on, Elizabeth Cohen, because a pharmaceutical company, Novartis, has decided to voluntarily recall several, not just one, several of its over the counter drugs.

SAMBOLIN: So, the recall does include certain Bufferin and Excedrin products. The complaints are about mislabeled and broken pills. Senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is joining us now. This is really scary, because these are some popular drugs. What is exactly happening here?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is huge batches of popular drugs. I mean, incredible things (ph). It's not like a lot here or a lot there. It's a lot. It's -- the entire years worth of drugs. So, let's take a look at what people need to know to avoid. So, Excedrin and NoDoz, anything that has an expiration date of December 20, 2014 or earlier. Yes, you heard that right --

BANFIELD: From now to 2014?

COHEN: Yes. Yes. That's going to be pretty much everything you would think or Bufferin and GasX prevention, expiration date of December 20th, 2013 or earlier. So, those are huge bunches of drugs.

SAMBOLIN: OK. What's the problem? Why do they have to do it?

COHEN: Right. The problem is that they found that there were chips, kind of like broken pills. And then, they said there's also potential that some of the wrong medicine ended up in the wrong bottle. So, you think you're getting Excedrin and you're getting NoDoz.

BANFIELD: OK. That I get. That's serious.

COHEN: That's bad.

BANFIELD: But chipped pills, who cares?

COHEN: Because year getting less of a dose than you think you're getting.

BANFIELD: You're not going to get hurt by that.

COHEN: You know, they say that no one's gotten hurt by any of this. You know, they say, so far, nothing bad has happened. But, of course, they want to avoid --

(CROSSTALK)

COHEN: Exactly. They want to avoid something happening.

SAMBOLIN: Well, that's actually good news, right, that they're trying to avoid that. COHEN: And consumers caught this which I think is interesting. Consumers called Novartis and said what's going on here?

BANFIELD: I got there Xanax in my Bufferin.

(LAUGHTER)

COHEN: Not Xanax. No, no, but yes, something like that, Ashleigh

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Just make sure, there are no Xanax in the Bufferin bottles. It was a joke.

SAMBOLIN: So, if you take these on a regular basis, you know, perhaps, your doctors told you maybe for migraines, because I know Excedrin is very popular, what do you do?

COHEN: What you do is when you go to the store, you want to check those expiration dates. And I want to tell you a story. For another drug recall, I was in the store, and I went to go buy some medicine for my daughter who had a fever. And I found medicine there that had been recalled. It had been recalled but it was on the shelf.

BANFIELD: In a big chain store?

COHEN: Yes, a big chain store. And I brought an employee overnight and said, I want to buy this but I have a feeling it's been -- she said, oh, we forgot to take that off. So, don't rely on them taking it off the shelves. Check it yourself.

SAMBOLIN: It's up to us.

COHEN: It's up to us.

(CROSSTALK)

COHEN: And for more, by the way, if you want to look at those expiration dates again, CNN.com/empoweredpatients.

BANFIELD: I was just going to say, let's not go to the whole thing again, but definitely CNN.com, and we're going to do the segment throughout the program as well.

COHEN: Right. Slash empowered patients.

BANFIELD: All right. Thank you so much for coming in.

COHEN: My pleasure.

BANFIELD: Thanks, Elizabeth. Nice to see you.

COHEN: Nice to see you.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Tim Tebow throws a miracle touchdown. Did you miss it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): The pass in its first NFL playoff game last night. This is all the talk this morning. Frank Schwab, a sports reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette is going to join us to break it all down. You're watching EARLY START.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin along with Ashleigh Banfield. We're talking all things Tebow. Did you see it?

BANFIELD: You know, I don't watch football.

SAMBOLIN: This was a special moment, though. Tim Tebow works a miracle in Denver on Sunday. He threw an 80 yard touchdown pass with the quickest overtime win in NFL history. He stunned Steelers 29-23. So, joining us now, Frank Schwab, sports reporter for "The Colorado Springs Gazette." Good morning to you.

FRANK SCHWAB, SPORTS REPORTER, "THE COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE": Hey, how's it going?

BANFIELD: Oh, it's going well over here. I got to tell you earlier, I called Tebow a rookie, I got in so much trouble, I started getting e-mails.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: So, how are folks responding there? To quickest overtime win in NFL history.

SCHWAB: I mean it's just the next step of Tebow mania. You know, the city of Denver is so excited about this guy. He's brought just new life to the Broncos franchise. I mean, this is the first playoff with Broncos (ph) in six years. And you know, people are just excited. And I think it's a lot because, you know, people are so polarizing nationwide.

People like to debate whether he's good or not, whether this about and whether that about him. And Denver has embraced him and said, you know, he's our guy. And they enjoy the way he played. They enjoy his spirit and just the fact that Broncos are winning again and the crazy improbable ways. It's just so much fun to the city of Denver right now.

SAMBOLIN: Frank, why is he so polarizing?

SCHWAB: I don't know. I think part of it is the religious angle. Some people don't like that he throws religion out there so freely, but that's who he is. And I think a lot of people think he's fake, but he's not. This is the guy -- I mean, he stood up there after the game yesterday in a press conference and talked about a girl who he had hosted from his foundation who had, you know, 73 operations in her life and said, you know, we like to talk about football, it's fun.

But the best thing I'm going to do today is spend time with this little girl who's had such a tough life, so far, and that's him. I mean, in an era where athletes are pretty strop (ph) up for the reputation so they can get commercials or whatever reason, Tim Tebow is a real guy. And I mean I think people think that's fake, but that's really who he is.

And, you know, it rubs some people the wrong way. I don't know. I don't get it either. I think this is a guy people should root for, but not everybody does.

SAMBOLIN: Hey, Frank, everybody seems really surprised by this even Tebow. Did you think he was surprised?

SCHWAB: I don't know. He's been such a successful guy in his life. He was great in high school. He was great at the University of Florida. I think part of him just expects greatness. And he handles himself like, you know, he's been a successful NFL quarterback for 15 years. It's pretty crazy to imagine.

He's only played, you know, started 15 NFL games now, but he handles himself like a guy who just expects all this, and he handles it so well. He's a pretty amazing guy, actually.

SAMBOLIN: Well, we know you're a fan and I think we're becoming fans around here. Frank Schwab, Colorado Spring Gazette, thank you for joining us this morning.

SCHWAB: Sure. Appreciate the time.

SAMBOLIN: You know, I was reading online that, actually, there's a girl who's going to ask him to her prom or something, you know?

BANFIELD: Yes. Did you hear the one about Beyonce's baby?

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my God!

BANFIELD: She had it. And we're going to tell you the name of said baby. You're watching EARLY START, but you got to keep watching.

SAMBOLIN: It's trending really high. I think it's number one --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Hey there. It's up three minutes until the top of the hour, and you just cannot leave the house before you get your trending stories. You know, you all trended up, I like to say. But the big trendy story is Beyonce. She had her baby.

SAMBOLIN: She did.

BANFIELD: I love the story. She actually took out a whole suite at (INAUDIBLE) Hospital in New York, and she had a little baby and name the baby --

SAMBOLIN: Blue Ivy Carter.

BANFIELD: Blue Ivy Carter. Now Carter, you're wondering why would she not have named her baby Blue Ivy Carter Z. And that's because Jay-Z's name is actually Shawn Carter. So, the baby is Blue Ivy Carter. And we wish Beyonce and Jay-Z well. She's so pretty.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Everybody was shocked this morning when they heard the news, too.

BANFIELD: Which is weird, because if you do the math, we shouldn't have been shocked.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, right? It's almost six o'clock in the morning here.

Ahead in the next hour, it's the eve of the New Hampshire primary. Rivals turn up the heat on Romney. Did you watch the debates?

BANFIELD: I couldn't help it. It was every ten hours.

SAMBOLIN: It was incredible. You were watching EARLY START. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)