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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

New Video of George Zimmerman; Captain Wanted to Take "Leap of Faith"; Pilot Said "Take Leap Of Faith"; Pope Wraps Up Visit To Cuba

Aired March 29, 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: Good morning. And welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

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

We are bringing you the news from A to Z. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We start with your top story.

BANFIELD: We're getting a first look at George Zimmerman on police station video, just after Trayvon Martin were shot and killed in Florida last month. And it's led to a lot more questions about this case.

All of this as George Zimmerman's dad is breaking his silence and speaking out in his son's defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FATHER: They're just making up things that are not true about George. How he's being portrayed is just an absolute lie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Robert Zimmerman insists his son acted in self- defense.

BANFIELD: And he talked about taking a, quote, "leap of fate." Federal charges filed against that JetBlue pilot that had a midair meltdown. The captain's mental health coming into question, whether he should have been even at the controls in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED KID: Where's mom? What are you stopping for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here it is, right here, right here.

OK, we're out, we're out, we're out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: All right. They are out. Dramatic cell phone video captures one family's harrowing escape from a deadly wildfire burning near Denver, Colorado.

BANFIELD: Two key endorsements for Mitt Romney to tell you about. One, a potential running mate. The other, a former president.

The polls show the GOP front-runner has a lot of work ahead if he plans to beat President Obama.

SAMBOLIN: And we start with new developments overnight in the Trayvon Martin investigation. Just released video obtained by ABC of George Zimmerman on the night he fatally shot the 17-year-old.

The tape shows Zimmerman, take a look there. He's being led in handcuffs from a police car to be questioned at the Sanford, Florida police headquarters. He seems to be moving normally. It's difficult to see any outward sign of the physical injury Zimmerman was said to have suffered in a life and death struggle with Trayvon Martin.

Trayvon's mother has this reaction on CNN's "PIERS MORGAN" last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: This video is the icing on the cake. This is not the first part of evidence they have had. They've had the 911 tapes. And they've also had witnesses. This is in addition to what the Sanford Police Department already has. This video is clear evidence there is some problem with this case and that he needs to be arrested.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: We're also hearing for the first time from George Zimmerman's father.

CNN's Martin Savidge is live in Sanford, Florida.

What is he saying? What is his father saying, Martin?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Zoraida.

Yes, this is Robert Zimmerman and he spoke for the first time on camera at least. We've heard from him several times writing op-ed pieces. This is the first time he's spoke on camera in defense of his son.

And what he is saying, his account is certainly the most dramatic and detailed of George Zimmerman on that particular night. He says that George told him Trayvon was the aggressor here. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZIMMERMAN: Trayvon Martin walked up to him, asking do you have (EXPLETIVE DELETED) problem? George said, no, I don't have a problem. He started to reach for his cell phone. At that point, he was punched in the nose. His nose was broken and he was knocked to the concrete.

Trayvon Martin got on top of him and just started beating him in the face, in his nose, hitting his head on the concrete.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: It's quite clear that the Zimmerman family believes that George's account as to what happened on that terrible night has not been portrayed enough. And so, Robert went on to describe the altercation. Listen again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZIMMERMAN: After nearly a minute of being beaten, George was trying to get his head of the concrete, trying to move with Trayvon on him, into the grass. In doing so, his firearm was shown. Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of, "You're going to die now or you're going to die tonight," something to that effect.

He continued to beat George and at some point, George pulled his pistol and did what he did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: OK. What is really interesting about that last account there is -- and first, we should point out that Robert Zimmerman was not there. So, what he is obviously recounting is what he says is George Zimmerman, what he told him, his son, in other words.

What is interesting there is that there have been some points in this discussion where there has been -- they've alluded to the fact that maybe there was a struggle over a gun. This has come from some witnesses. This has come from friends of George Zimmerman.

The father doesn't talk about a struggle over a gun. The father right there says George pulls out the gun, makes a conscious decision, fires the weapon and Trayvon Martin is killed.

So, once again, new revelations, new insights but not an eyewitness account -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Martin, one last question for you here. All of that was before we actually saw this new video of George Zimmerman as well, right? His dad spoke before that?

SAVIDGE: Actually, I think that was on the evening news last night. It might have been after the video sequence had already appeared on network news. So this may have been a means of trying to counter that. There seems to be a lot of this going on. For every release that may favor one side of the story-telling, there is quickly some effort to counter is with -- well, but then there's this.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it's kind of tough because you don't really see signs of a struggle there, although, you know, we can't really see that video very closely.

SAVIDGE: No, you don't.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Martin Savidge, thank you so much.

And our Soledad O'Brien will host a town hall meeting tonight, "Beyond Trayvon: Race & Justice in America." You can see it here on CNN, Friday night at 8:00 and 10:00 Eastern Time.

BANFIELD: Six minutes now past 5:00.

And the JetBlue pilot who had to be wrestled down in midair is now facing federal charges for interfering with his very own flight crew. And now, for the very first time, we're hearing minute-by- minute details from inside the cockpit about this apparent mental breakdown

Apparently it started just moment after the flight took off from JFK in New York. The copilot says the captain, Clayton Osbon, scolded air traffic controllers over the radio for making too much noise, and then turned all the radios off. He then started preaching about how things don't matter and said we're not going to Vegas and yelled, "We need to take a leap of faith."

Listen to the video after that.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

BANFIELD: Eventually, the first officer had to tell flight attendants and passengers over the P.A. to pin him down. Ultimately, he and an off-duty pilot headed that plane to Amarillo, Texas, instead, a full diversion, making a safe but frightening emergency landing in that city.

Our aviation correspondent Lizzie O'Leary has new details now, live from Washington.

Federal charges, very serious. What is he facing and how serious are these charges, Lizzie?

LIZZIE O'LEARY, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're federal charges, interfering with a flight crew. And if they carried the maximum penalty, that would be up to 20 years in prison plus a pretty significant fine.

And what you get in the affidavit that came along with the charging documents is a fairly disturbing picture of what was going on inside that plane. I kind of want to walk through different parts of what was going on. You're right, the first officer essentially noticed things not long after takeoff from JFK.

So, let's walk through a couple of points here. We know from the affidavit that Clayton Osbon, who was 49, showed up late, missed a crew briefing. He did talk back to the air traffic controllers, turned off the radio as you said, dimmed some of the monitors inside the cockpit and began giving what is describe in this affidavit as a "sermon."

Then as things progress a little bit, he started talking about we need to take a leap of faith. This was the line that got the first officer's attention, "We're not going to Vegas." This is about 3 1/2 hours into the flight.

At this point, the first officer realizes he'd like to get Clayton Osbon out of the cockpit. Osbon gets up to go to the lavatory. At that point, this other pilot who was taking a free ride along with plane came into the cockpit.

Osbon had somewhat off behavior. He grabbed a flight attendant's hand, started banging on the lavatory door, and at this point, he seemed to walk back to the back of the plane, sort of talked with some of the passengers on the way. But the cockpit door was locked and closed. The other two were in there.

He ran up to the front of the plane, banged on the cockpit door. The affidavit says the first officer was worried he might even get through the door. And at that point, that's when the passengers and the flight attendants helped subdue him. They essentially sat on him for 15 minutes or so as the plane came from cruising altitude down to what was certainly a safe landing in Amarillo.

And we should emphasize that all the passengers were absolutely fine after this happened, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Well, physically, that's for sure.

O'LEARY: Physically.

BANFIELD: I mean, can you imagine having witnessed that and seen that and seeing it coming from someone in uniform, too.

Lizzie, thank you so much for that.

SAMBOLIN: It is nine minutes past the hour.

Colorado is putting its controlled burn program for wildfires on hold after one got out of control near Denver. Look at this. Two dozen homes destroyed, two people killed, one still missing.

One family's narrow escape from the flames was captured on cell phone video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED KID: Daddy, where's mom? What's she stopping for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's down there. It's down there now.

She (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

UNIDENTIFIED KID: Whoa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is, right here, right here.

UNIDENTIFIED KID: Oh, my gosh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's OK. We're out, we're out, we're out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness. We're going it talk live to the family. Doug Gulik and Kimberly Olson and their children in the next hour, at 6:40 Eastern.

BANFIELD: This just in at about this time every morning we tend to bring you bad news. I'm apologizing for it off the bat.

Five-ten in the morning Eastern Time, the national average for gas just announced by AAA, sorry, $3.92 a gallon. If you do the math from yesterday, it's up a cent, a full cent.

The higher the gas goes, the more people will cut back on their spending. An a brand new survey from the U.S. Travel Association says that more than half of you back out there are going to cut back on your vacation plans this summer as the gas goes up at least another quarter or so as is expected.

SAMBOLIN: And those airline fares are going up as well. So, it kind of makes you rethink all of your travel options.

BANFIELD: I have started getting more organized in the later part of my life. I book flights a good six months in advance and I still find I can rarely find a flight under $500.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I know. It's terrible.

All right. So, there you -- we are the bearer of bad news this morning. We're going to have good news, too.

Eleven minutes past the hour here. Ahead on EARLY START: Spike Lee issuing an apology. He retweeted the wrong address for George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case. So, a couple was forced to leave their home in fear.

BANFIELD: Also coming up, new satellite images of North Korea -- take a close look -- shows increased activity on this launch pad and some controversies with regards to a missile launch that is planned for mid-April. We're going to break down what that circle tells you and what that circle tells you, too, in just a moment.

SAMBOLIN: Did you hear about the mega millions madness?

BANFIELD: Oh, yes.

SAMBOLIN: What would you do with $500 million?

BANFIELD: I'd be right back here working with you.

SAMBOLIN: I would, too.

BANFIELD: I love my job.

SAMBOLIN: I would, too. I don't know. What would you do with it?

BANFIELD: We'd change our hours.

SAMBOLIN: You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fifteen minutes past the hour. Time to check the stories that are making news this morning.

Here is Christine Romans.

Good morning to you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Zoraida and Ashleigh.

Filmmaker Spike Lee is apologizing for a retweet that may have forced a Sanford, Florida, couple to leave their home in fear. This retweet listed an address supposedly belonging to Trayvon Martin's shooter George Zimmerman. Elaine and David McClain say they have a son named William George Zimmerman who lived with them in the mid- 1990s. The McClains say they had to go to a hotel to get away from the hate mail and the media.

Spike Lee tweeting last night, quote, "I deeply apologize to the McClain family for retweeting their address. It was a mistake. Please leave the McClains in peace."

David and Elaine McCain will be talking about their ordeal when they join Soledad live at 8:20 Eastern this morning.

A new satellite image shows increased activity where North Korea plans to build -- or to launch, rather, a missile in mid-April. The pictures show trucks on the launch pad and a crane arm that's been moved into position to lift stages of a rocket. The launch is expected between April 12th and April 16th. It would, of course, violate several U.N. resolutions, as well as a recent agreement with the U.S. to end its income ambitions in exchange for food.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is reportedly working on a national U.S. sports network to compete with ESPN. According to Bloomberg News, News Corp. is already acquiring broadcast rights from TV carriers and sports organizations and could launch later this year.

For an expanded look at all of our top stories, this morning, head to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart -- ladies.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Let's check your -- thank you so much, Christine. I'm sorry.

Let's head over to Rob Marciano and check your travel weather.

Good morning.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys.

We'll start you off with what's going to happen across the midsection of the country which is a potential for severe weather today. We're getting towards that season, aren't we?

Central Plains were a little -- a storm coming out of the Rockies will begin to crank up and that may kick up winds. Again, mostly north of Denver. We'll check in on the fire, 15 percent containment here, southwest of Denver by about 25 miles, temperatures today will be in the 60s, low levels of humidity and gusty winds in the afternoon to about 20 miles an hour, but hopefully, more expected today.

Some showers across parts of New England, Upstate New York, some of those in the form of snow, still trying to hang on to winter there. You have to go to extreme northern spots, the bigger cities fairly mild, and some rain coming out of Kansas City and heading towards Chicago.

And for our friends in the Pacific Northwest, either getting up really early or staying up late, spring is certainly typical in the way of some showers and some snow and some dreary stuff.

Temperatures today, 79 in Kansas City, 55 in Chicago and 55 degrees in New York City. So, a little bit of a dose of reality there. The 80s from last week seem to be just a dream.

Guys, back to you.

BANFIELD: All right. Rob, thanks.

SAMBOLIN: Eighteen minutes paragraph the hour.

Here's an early read on the local stories making national headlines. You have the "New York Times" this morning.

BANFIELD: We have "The New York Times" for you. You have to open up pretty deep into the paper to get the headline that says, "For Skittles death brings both profit and risk." Way down here on page A14. It's a very interesting story about how Skittles has become this rallying cry, a cultural icon for those protesting the movement in Trayvon Martin killing.

Trayvon was carrying Skittles and iced tea when he was shot. Of course, he was unarmed. So, now, you see pictures like this all over the country at rallies. You also see stacks and piles of the candy at all of these rallies as well.

And some protesters have been sending packages of Skittles to the Sanford Police Department, all in an effort to protest them not arresting George Zimmerman in this case.

We should let you know that Skittles are made by Wrigley. And some people are now asking Wrigley to donate the profits from this candy to the family or to causes that help with racial discrimination or underprivileged communities.

Wrigley has been kind of quite about this. They have given a statement that they are deeply saddened that they respect the family's privacy, that they're not going to a whole lot more that.

SAMBOLIN: This happened before, right, with this product?

BANFIELD: Remember the Twinkie defense with the Harvey Milk's killing? The San Francisco mayor, back in the '70s, 1978, murder of the mayor of San Francisco and, of course, Harvey Milk who was the -- he was the San Francisco -- I'm trying to remember -- gosh, I had it right here a second ago.

Anyway, that was a problem for Twinkie because, obviously, they didn't want their brand to be associated with such a negative and tragic story. I think that's probably the same issue for Skittles as well.

SAMBOLIN: I love the Spelman College -- the girls at Spelman College are buying them in bulk. They're reselling them for more money and they are going to give it to Trayvon's family.

BANFIELD: If you were with Wrigley, this would be a tough one. I mean, yes, you're getting a lot of ink out there, but it's not the kind of brand you want to be associated with, this tragedy. The candy, the children's candy, they happen to love Skittles.

SAMBOLIN: They're using it for something positive. So, you know, for those girls, I'm really proud of them.

Twenty minutes past the hour.

Still ahead, when fires attack. Amazing video of a fireworks factory -- look at that. It is exploding. Can you imagine that explosion? Rockets shooting out from the flames as people run.

BANFIELD: Also, mass hysteria over this, a jackpot record in a lottery. It is close -- close to 500,000 -- close to half a billion dollars.

SAMBOLIN: Folks are lining up to buy tickets.

BANFIELD: It is unbelievable. We're in on it here, too. We'll get you the lowdown on this big jackpot coming up.

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Welcome back. It's 24 minutes past 5:00. And we're minding your business this morning.

One day --

SAMBOLIN: I like this story.

ROMANS: It's aspirational.

BANFIELD: We're going to be millionaires if our office pool pays off.

ROMANS: More than just millionaires, sister.

BANFIELD: Once we split up, how many of us are in the pool? Dean, how many of us to buy tickets by now?

ROMANS: I think 30, right.

SAMBOLIN: A lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-four.

BANFIELD: Thirty-five. We're probably at this point going to have less than $5 million apiece.

SAMBOLIN: Here's a deal, we're doing what everybody is doing, right? You're pooling your money. You go and you buy lottery ticket, what are the chances?

Go ahead and be Debbie Downer.

ROMANS: I know. I'm going to be Debbie Downer.

The chances of basically you have almost as good chance of getting the winning megamillions ticket if you find it on a subway grate in New York and you didn't pay for it, as if you pay for it. So, keep that in mind.

And as a personal finance author, I must tell you, if you have high interest credit card debt, you have no business spending 10 bucks on a lottery ticket because you're not going to win.

That -- here we go top 120 million to 1. That's not stopping anybody. In Georgia, they're selling 150,000 tickets an hour.

This is aspirational, you guys. People want to win. I actually put five bucks in. I kind of have enjoyed the last couple of days thinking about what I would do with it.

OK. May the odds ever be in your favor, they say in "Hunger Games." You're more likely to be struck by lightning twice, you're 18 to 125 times more likely to die of a flesh-eating bacteria, you're more likely to have an asteroid hit you in the head in 2029. And you're more likely to die in a car accident to buy the ticket.

That being said, when you win -- I recommend you take the lump sum if you're good with money. Here's why, because you want the use of the money. You don't want the government to use the money. You need to consider about a third is going to go to taxes. That's really important.

You keep your head down. Don't be ostentatious. Do not buy a Maserati right away, because most people lose all this money within 10 years because they're dumb with it.

The people who don't lose the money are very smart with it. They put a bunch of people around them. I'm available for financial planning and advice.

They put a bunch of people around them who help them manage this money in a smart way. You do strategic charitable donations, you help people close to you but don't go crazy.

BANFIELD: I love this. I know what my first purchase would be.

ROMANS: What?

BANFIELD: Are you ready?

ROMANS: What?

BANFIELD: "How to Speak Money" by Christine Romans and Ali Velshi.

ROMANS: Well, if you had -- if you win the lottery, you could buy all the books.

BANFIELD: And I would love you forever.

ROMANS: Just come on, I mean, it's fun, right? Think about what you would do. But remember, use this as a personal finance moment. Look at how much money you have, what's coming in and what's going on, and let's try to advance our situations even if we don't win the lottery.

BANFIELD: I've also enjoyed the camaraderie that we've had. This is better than a Starbucks latte for 5 bucks. I really enjoy getting --

ROMANS: You know, hopefully, we don't end up in court because somebody didn't put all the money in.

BANFIELD: Dean, you hear that?

ROMANS: On a positive note, we're going to win.

BANFIELD: Twenty-six minutes now past 5:00 a.m.

And still ahead on EARLY START because we still work here, folks, two big endorsements for Mitt Romney. Republicans are rallying around him. But can he beat President Obama?

SAMBOLIN: A congressman and ex-Black Panther booted from the H floor. For what? There he is. Bobby Rush. For wearing a hoodie.

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: It is 30 minutes now past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We're very happy you're with us this morning. It's time to check the stories that are making news.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): New police surveillance video obtained by ABC shows George Zimmerman right there on the left in handcuffs on the night Trayvon Martin was killed. Zimmerman claims he shot Martin after the teenager brutally attacked him.

The video shows no obvious signs of physical injuries. Trayvon's mother says the video is, quote, "icing on the cake." And she wants Zimmerman arrested.

BANFIELD (voice-over): A U.S. congressman was removed from the floor of the House for wearing this, a hoodie. Not just for wearing it, though, putting the hoodie up like this. He was giving a speech about Trayvon Martin. And Bobby Rush, Democrat from Illinois, a former Black Panther, he told members of the House that, quote, "racial profiling has got to stop."

And then, he pulled up his suit jacket and what you just saw, put up the hoody on his gray sweatshirt and then also put on sunglasses. Right away, though, he was declared out of order, and the gavel came down, and a clerk led him away because of rules on the House floor about not wearing a hat.

SAMBOLIN: Federal charges now filed against the JetBlue pilot who had a midair meltdown. The co-pilot saying the captain, Clayton Osbon, talked about taking a, quote, "leap of faith" before passengers were forced to grab him and hold him down. The captain's wife told police she didn't notice anything weird when he left for work.

BANFIELD: Pope Benedict calling for an end to the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. The pontiff wrapping up his visit to Cuba with a face-to-face meeting with Fidel Castro. He called on the Cubans to become a society of broader vision, a challenge complicated by what the pope calls, quote, "restrictive economic measures imposed from outside that country."

SAMBOLIN: Look at this video. Of all the things to catch fire, it is spitting out fire. A fire so big, police evacuated everyone for two miles. So, it broke out at a fireworks factory in Thailand last night. It's unclear how that fire broke out. Two warehouses burned down, and rockets were shooting from the flames. The factory workers had already left for the day. So, we're happy to report no one was injured there. What a display.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD (on-camera): Fireworks factory. That's a bummer.

Thirty-two minutes now past 5:00. Mitt Romney picking up some pretty critical endorsements from two key Republican heavyweights. These are the ones a lot of people have been waiting for. It's bolstering the prospects for an Obama/Romney showdown in November. One, former President George H. Walker Bush.

He endorsed Mitt Romney -- he's planning to do it actually today in Houston. But, we got the official word from the Florida senator, Marco Rubio, that he is definitely endorsing Mitt Romney. And also, people have talked about Marco Rubio being a potential running mate for Mitt Romney. He did this last night on Fox News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: Well, I am going to endorse Mitt Romney. And the reason why is not only because he's going to be the Republican nominee, but he offers, at this point, such a stark contrast to the president's record. I mean, look at the president's record. This is someone who has run the country not very well over the last three years but has no experience beyond doing that.

At the same time, he has no experience with the private sector or the free enterprise system. In Mitt Romney, we have a candidate, an alternative that in addition to being successful as a governor, running an important state in this country, has also been successful in the private sector and offers a very clear alternative to the direction this president is going to take our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: If Mitt Romney is, in fact, the eventual nominee, it turns out he may have a lot of work to do, because at least, according to a CNN/ORC poll that's just out, if the election were held today, here's how the numbers would shake out. President Obama would come in with 54 percent of the vote, while Mitt Romney would be quite a ways behind with 43 percent of the vote.

And CNN's Joe Johns has not only been following the numbers, he's been following a lot of developments on the trail yesterday. George Herbert Walker Bush coming out with his endorsement possibly a little later on today. Not possibly, for sure, he says later on today. Big deal?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, but it's more symbolic than anything, Ashleigh. This endorsement is today at Bush's office in Houston, as you said, pretty much going to be a glorified photo-op we're hearing. But, the point is this is not a secret. President George H.W. Bush has since signaled his support to Romney for a long time.

His wife, Barbara Bush, did robo calls for Romney in the run up to the Ohio primary all the way back in December this President Bush has said he thinks Romney is the best guy for the job. So, what does it all mean, really? It is another sign the Republican establishment is getting behind Mitt Romney as a frontrunner.

But, you've got to be honest, what does it mean in the long term for Romney's candidacy? Probably not a whole lot. Romney's gotten a ton of endorsements this election cycle, frankly. It hasn't saved him from a bruising battle in the primaries. And you just pointed out, if you look at the latest CNN/ORC polls, Ashleigh, President Obama has a double digit lead over Romney in the head-to-head matchup.

Though, a lot of people expect the election to be close regardless of who's the nominee, because voters who oppose President Obama are just highly motivated to go to the polls. So, tight race whoever is there, and it certainly looks at least right now like it's going to be Mitt Romney.

BANFIELD: And you know, Joe, the president has just got inched up over the 50 percent mark for approval rating which is a significant milestone as well, but I got to ask you, as we've been watching this primary season, the big phenomenon has been the roller coaster.

So, does anybody not think that, perhaps, this moment where Obama has the significant lead over these theoretical matchups could just be a roller coaster moment?

JOHNS: Yes. Well, I mean, that's sort of what it looks like, exactly right. A roller coaster moment, because as I said, I mean, this president, while on one hand he has a 50 percent approval rating that seems to be very important.

On the other hand, if you go out to some of these red states -- and I have been to a number of them -- people say the most important thing for Republicans is to get rid of President Obama. And when you listen to that kind of talk, it's pretty clear, there are a lot of people who really want to get to the polls. So, we'll have to see what's going to happen.

BANFIELD: Yes. That's what they call scientifically motivation. All right. Joe Johns waking up with us early. It's nice to see you this morning.

JOHNS: Good to see you.

BANFIELD: Thanks

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-six minutes past the hour. Now, to the debate over healthcare reform. After three days of arguments before the Supreme Court, the White House is keeping a very low profile this morning. Many legal observers believe that that individual mandate portion is in trouble.

The White House is refusing to speculate on the possibility that the law could be unconstitutional. They may be mum, but party leaders, they're weighing in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I think that this was one of the "signature legislative accomplishments," unquote, of the Obama administration. And we argued that it was unconstitutional at the time. So, if that's substantiated by the United States Supreme Court, I don't see how that could possibly help the president politically. SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: If you got rid of this law, day one, immediately, you add $2 trillion back to the deficit and you wind up with a whole bunch of Americans who are going to be told, sorry you don't have insurance anymore even though you have terminal cancer. Sorry, you're not covered even though it's a pregnancy, but that's a pre-existing condition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: The supreme court is expected to decide on the constitutionality of the president's healthcare overhaul in June.

BANFIELD: It's 38 minutes now past 5:00, and workers in Spain are trying to bring that country to a crawl.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD (voice-over): Take a look at your screen. This is a strike that broke out one minute after midnight. Spain's unions are challenging the country's new conservative government because of strong austerity measures there. State TV in Spain says about five dozen demonstrators were detained by police.

Several injuries reported as well. And this all comes one day before billions more in painful cuts by the government are scheduled to be announced there.

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SAMBOLIN: And still ahead, new photos of Trayvon Martin taken much closer to the day that he died. We're going to speak to the man who got the photos directly from the family.

BANFIELD (on-camera): And for the person who thought he found an easy target in a carjacking, what a big mistake. That target was a Korean War vet. And you know what? He wasn't having any of it. You're going to find out all about this. You're watching EARLY START.

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SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Good morning to you, Miami. It is 73 degrees right now, 83 degrees little later today. Could you send that warmth our way, please? Nice to have you with us this morning.

So, pictures of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman have arguably shaped our perceptions of them. Now, new police surveillance video obtained by ABC News shows Zimmerman being brought in in handcuffs on the night the 17-year-old was shot and killed. Zimmerman looks a lot different than he did in this mug shot on the left from 2005 that was all over the media for weeks.

A smiling Zimmerman dressed in a suit was released just days ago. It was obtained by the "Orlando Sentinel." On the left, one of the first images to surface of Trayvon Martin. And on the right, Trayvon is seeing closer to his age of 17. That is when he died. Earlier this week, Michael Skolnik spent a day with Trayvon's family in Sanford, Florida.

He was given family photos to publish in GlobalGrind.com. Michael is editor-in-chief of the news and entertainment website, and he is sharing those photos with us today. Thank you so much for being with us and for sharing the photos. So, Trayvon's mother gave these photos to you. How did you initially get involved with this family?

MICHAEL SKOLNIK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GLOBALGRIND.COM: On GlobalGrind.com, we've been covering this cases as the very beginning, about four weeks now, and we've been covering it, you know, from every angle we possibly could. I wrote a blog last week about the case that spread on the internet, and we had been into contact with the family, with the family's attorneys, and they asked me to come to Florida on Monday, which I did.

I had the great chance to spend the day with the mother, the father, and the family. And it was a remarkable experience for me. And on Tuesday, they asked me to publish these photos.

SAMBOLIN: And so, we're taking a look at the photos here, and that one in particular of Trayvon on a horse, and did you choose these photos or did she choose them for you?

SKOLNIK: She chose them. They sent us three photos, and we published the three photos.

SAMBOLIN: And the one of him on the horse, you know, I was looking -- boy, he doesn't look happy there. Did she tell you anything about what was happening on that face?

SKOLNIK: Well, this was her birthday party, and this was just nine days before he was killed. Any teenager at their mother's birthday party is never too happy and then to put him on a horse, I think you can see that he was having a good time (ph), but of course, he was, you know, him riding the horse.

SAMBOLIN: Not on the horse. Not on the (INAUDIBLE). So, as we see Trayvon's parents in the media, they're hyperfocus, right, on solving this crime, and we don't know much about them. We don't know much about their personalities, otherwise. What have you encountered with them?

SKOLNIK: You know one thing that we should know is that they're really funny family. This is a very, very tough time for them. And my heart, I think all of our hearts are pouring out with love for them, but they're very funny. Trayvon was a very funny guy, they tell me. And the mother is a very funny woman.

I think, during this time, we don't see that. And behind closed doors, they're incredibly close and incredibly loving. They're incredibly sort of poised to find justice for their son. But at the same time, they're still a family. They still have a nice time with each other. And they're really beautiful people.

SAMBOLIN: So, you were a filmmaker for over ten years, and you know the power that images can have. And we're taking a look at this new video that was just released of Zimmerman.

SKOLNIK: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: So, from your vantage point, a filmmaker, your eyes, what do you see when you take a look at that video?

SKOLNIK: Well, it's interesting that details, right? As a filmmaker, you look at details. And the first thing that I looked on some of the video was why don't the police officers have gloves on? If George Zimmerman was bleeding or if there was blood, they touch him as well in the video, where are the gloves and why don't they have gloves on?

I think proper police procedure is to wear gloves if the suspect is bleeding. And in this case, you don't see any gloves in any of the police officers.

SAMBOLIN: Any other inconsistencies that your eye picks up?

SKOLNIK: It's hard for me to say whether he's bleeding from the nose, whether there's cuts on the back of his head. I don't know how long this video was taken after the incident occurred, but I would be curious to know on why don't police officers have gloves on.

SAMBOLIN: All right. And then, the images that she released, that she gave to you to release to the public and the ones of Zimmerman, how do you think that has affected our perception in this entire case? Powerful, right?

SKOLNIK: It's very powerful. I think for Mr. Zimmerman, it was a disadvantage, the first image he had shown was him in a mug shot. And I think for Trayvon, to see him as a young child, especially the football picture, you know, he was nine years old when that picture was taken. You know, we see a child.

And even the pictures they gave us yesterday, he's also a child. I mean, he's a tall child, but he's a child. And you know, he's got Reese's pieces peanut butter T-shirt on. This is a kid.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Michael Skolnik, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We really appreciate you being here.

SKOLNIK: Thank you for having me.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Ashleigh, back to you.

BANFIELD: It's now 46 minutes past 5:00 on the east coast. Time to check stories making news this morning with Christine Romans -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Ashleigh.

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ROMANS (voice-over): A Colorado family's terrifying escape from the grips of a deadly wildfire. Their 13-year-old daughter capturing the drive through billowing orange smoke and burning trees, pretty scary stuff. They're all safe and sound. They're coming up. At 6:40 eastern, Doug Gulik (ph), Kimberly Olson (ph), and their kids will join us with more on their escape (ph).

Let me tell you a little story about a name Earl Scruggs. The Blue Grass legend is composer of the Beverly Hillbillies theme has died at 88 years old. His son confirmed he died but did not say how. Earl Scruggs three-finger banjo style changed country music back in the day. One fan, comedian, Steve Martin, tweeted that "The most important banjo player who ever lived has passed on.

An 81-year-old Korean war veteran stopped a carjacker in Michigan from taking off with his car and his wife. Surveillance video shows the suspect getting into the car in a gas station. He allegedly held a knife to that woman's throat. The husband immediately sprang into action.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't see what he had under those tattoos. I just grabbed for his wrist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could have been dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody has got to cook for me.

(LAUGHTER)

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ROMANS: That's love.

The carjacker rather eventually gave up and ran off. He was caught a short time later. The couple thankfully was not hurt. Wow.

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BANFIELD: Eighty-one?

ROMANS (on-camera): Eighty-one.

SAMBOLIN: Love that story.

BANFIELD: Rocking out.

ROMANS: Yes. Do not mess with my wife.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, correct.

BANFIELD: Don't mess with a U.S. vet also, right?

ROMANS: That's right.

SAMBOLIN: Fantastic.

ROMANS: Thank you, thank you.

BANFIELD: USA! USA!

Forty-eight minutes now past 5:00. Thank you, Christine.

And still to come, a woman kind of shocks herself. Are you ready? She says inadvertently bringing this on board a plane in her bag? So, what does she do about it? Instead of handing it over to the flight crew, she starts photographing it. What was that about? Why did it go viral?

SAMBOLIN: I'm a little skeptical there.

And slobbery, welcome home for one U.S. soldier. You don't want to miss this, folks. This is just the tip of the iceberg here. You're watching EARLY START.

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BANFIELD: We like to keep you in the pop culture loop by taking a look at the trending stuff on the interwebs, and this one is bit weird. Zoraida and I aren't sure we buy it. But a woman said she inadvertently slipped a knife, a pocket knife, past airport security, and it's been setting off the total firestorm in social media.

SAMBOLIN: It looks like a switchblade it's so huge.

BANFIELD: Take a look at your screen. It's circled on the bottom of her bag. She says she saw it in the bottom of her bag and then photographed it because she was very worried. She's doing this while she's on board the plane, noticing -- and didn't get picked up by anybody, by the x-rays, by the hand scan, by the hand search.

Then she went into the bathroom. Are you read? She went into the airplane bathroom and decided to photograph it there, too. She says it was not hidden very well in her bag. She, again, says she didn't know it was in there. She's not revealing where she flew to or from. But social media is going bananas over this.

And the big question would be this, you think you did this by mistake and you don't go, ding, ma'am, I have a problem, could you take this for me, because it's an accident I didn't know it was here, instead you go to the bathroom and start, you know taking pictures of it?

SAMBOLIN: Or is this real? You know, that's kind of where I'm skeptical, right?

BANFIELD: Yes. Big deal on the web, though.

SAMBOLIN: Here's something really super happy for you. This little guy is so happy to see his best friend again.

BANFIELD: Oh, look at that.

SAMBOLIN: You could watch this all day. The video is of an ecstatic dog welcoming home a U.S. soldier. It is going --

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: This is just the beginning.

BANFIELD: He goes nuts.

SAMBOLIN: Chuck the boxer. He was so thrilled to see his owner, he cannot contain it. The soldier was coming home to his wife and dog in Germany after eight months in Afghanistan. Look at this. Watch. Watch again. He's like you're not going anywhere. I am so happy to see you.

Touching video uploaded less than a week ago and already has more than 1.3 million views. Don't you wish you were greeted like that every day when you came home, folks.

BANFIELD: That is just so spectacular.

SAMBOLIN: The fact somebody who just loves you that much.

BANFIELD: It makes you wonder, what does Chuck know? You know, does he know just how lucky he is, getting his owner back again, and how long was his owner gone? And welcome home.

SAMBOLIN: Eight months --

BANFIELD: Eight months?

SAMBOLIN: -- that he's been gone. Yes.

BANFIELD: Welcome home. Thank you for your service and God bless you.

Also, you know, it may have been really scary for those passengers aboard the JetBlue flight, but that wasn't stopping all the late-night comedians. They found this thing to be absolute comedy gold. Have a pick at late night.

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JAY LENO, THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO: JetBlue has a new slogan, "now with nuts on every flight."

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: How scary is this story? I'm sure you've heard about it. JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas was forced to make an emergency landing in Texas after the pilot flipped out on the plane. Flipped out. He was screaming, ranting the plane was going to blow up. The passengers had to subdue him. They had to wrestle him, the pilot.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: I mean, how bad is airline travel when you got to start putting pilots on the do not fly list. What is that?

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: What is that?

One passenger said it was so crazy it was like a movie. When JetBlue heard that, they charged the guy a $5 entertainment fee.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": The pilot went running down the aisle and the passengers subdued him. And guy knocked him out cold. You know what he used? This is good thinking for future. A guy knocked him out with a dinner roll.

(APPLAUSE)

LETTERMAN: If you don't have a dinner roll, you can also use a dessert square.

(LAUGHTER)

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BANFIELD: Oh, Dave taking a little license with the facts there.

SAMBOLIN: I'm so glad that it ended so positively that we can have these moments, right?

BANFIELD: Thank God for that. And by the way, talking about things that end up positively, but when you see the video, you don't think they would. Recent video for you of some kids and a family terrified. They're driving through hell. Look at these pictures.

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BANFIELD (voice-over): It almost looks literal as though they're driving through hell. It's a wildfire, they're escaping. Unbelievable video. A mom, a dad, two cars, and an escape you can only see to believe.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): And it is the first time that we are seeing what the shooter, George Zimmerman looked like immediately after the killing of Trayvon Martin. He said Martin smashed his head on the ground. So, are there wounds? You're watching EARLY START.

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