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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

New York's New Tallest Building; Looking Down On New York; SUV Falls 60-Feet Off Parkway; U.S.-China Diplomatic Crisis; Search For Sailor Called Off; U.S. Troops Join Kony Hunt; Edwards Trial Enters Week Two; Kicked Off Team For Being Too Good; New York's Tallest Building; More Americans Being Killed In Mexico; Apple Avoiding Billions in Taxes; FDA Approves New "ED" Drug

Aired April 30, 2012 - 05:59   ET

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


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Good morning, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN GUEST HOST: And I'm Christine Romans for you this morning. Zoraida has the morning off. It's 6:00 a.m. in the east. Let's get started.

BANFIELD: Nice to have you with us this morning.

ROMANS: Thank you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD (voice-over): This early hour, rising up, everybody. One-year after Osama Bin Laden was killed, the new World Trade Center is set to reach a milestone, we are live in Lower Manhattan.

ROMANS (voice-over): Running for cover, a TV crew dodging gunfire and bombs that are falling on them on South Sudan.

BANFIELD: He is half the size of some of the girls on the varsity team, but a boy has been banned from playing with them for being too good. We're going to talk to this 13-year-old and find out what about his fight to play field hockey?

ROMANS: In a matter of hours, workers on the top of the World Trade Center Tower will be looking down on all of New York. So the called "Freedom Tower" is about to become the tallest building in the big apple.

That will happen sometime today if the wind cooperates. Workers are scheduled to install a beam that will raise the tower to 1,271 feet, eclipsing the city's tallest structure right now, that's the Empire State Building.

When construction is completed in late 2013/early 2014, one World Trade will stand 1,776 feet tall, making it the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

Poppy Harlow live in Lower Manhattan this morning. Poppy, it's so important to note this milestone. As we approach the one-year anniversary really of Osama Bin Laden's death too, but it has been a very long time since that has been a construction site downtown as well.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: It's been an incredibly long time. I live down here, Christine, so I've been watching it week after week, year after year. It's been seven and a half years since that initial ground-breaking.

Obviously, a lot of controversy, the whole time building up to what this tower would look like. They recently have been building one floor a week moving at a rapid, rapid clip. But you cannot avoid the security concerns, of course, especially with the timing of this.

Today will mark just a few days ahead of the one year anniversary of the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden so security is top priority down here and across the country.

Candy Crowley on her "STATE OF THE UNION" program, Sunday morning, was able to talk to the John Brennan, the counterterrorism adviser to President Obama. She asked him how much we as a country had diminished al Qaeda's ability to harm the United States or its citizens marking this anniversary. Take a listen to his answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have reduced significantly their ability to carry out attacks against the homeland as well as against U.S. persons and interest overseas.

We've taken off the battlefield their founding leader and many other operatives that they have deployed in many parts of the world. We have taken apart their infrastructure in areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

We are determined to continue this effort in places like Yemen and Africa. So their ability has been degraded significantly and our defenses have improved significantly in the past decade.

So their ability to carry out an attack here in the United States now compared to 10 years ago is significantly diminished.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: It's significantly diminished, Christine, but that does not mean that all eyes and ears are not on this site. Obviously, it would be one of the top terrorists' targets.

I do want to read you something that came out from the FBI late last week and said there was no credible information that al Qaeda is plotting an attack to coincide with the anniversary of Bin Laden's death. No credible information coming from the FBI on that still they're watching very closely.

ROMANS: All right, Poppy Harlow in Lower Manhattan. Thank you, Poppy. BANFIELD: Authorities say speed that may have played a role in a terrible highway crash in New York City that left seven people dead including three children.

The SUV was packed with three generations from a single family and it slammed into a median and then went airborne, plunging about 60 feet below to the ground.

It landed upside down in a wooded area of the Bronx Zoo. Luckily that's an area that's close to the public. The family members were heading home from church at the time.

ROMANS: The White House is hoping to contain a diplomatic crisis that's developing right now with China. Blind dissident Chen Guanchang is in the middle of mess after a dramatic escape from 18 months of house arrest.

He ran into trouble with the Chinese government for accusing them of conducting late-term abortions and sterilizations as part of its one child only policy.

He has been long an opponent of human rights conditions in that country. It's been believed that Chen is in the protection of the U.S. embassy of Beijing.

Officials from both countries are refusing to comment this morning. All this while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to visit China for economic and strategic talks beginning on Thursday.

BANFIELD: The Coast Guard is calling off a search for a missing sailor after a racing accident that left three crew members dead. Their boat was taking part in a Newport Yacht Race this weekend when it collided with a bigger vessel in the Pacific near the Coronado Islands. Authorities say that's where three bodies and the boat's wreckage were located. They are the first deaths in this race's 65- year history.

ROMANS: U.S. troops are now on the hunt for African warlord Joseph Kony. He's the villain in that viral Kony 2012 video. President Barack Obama sent about a hundred Special Forces to Central Africa last year to track down the leaders of Kony's group, the Lords Resistant Army.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. He and the LRA gained worldwide attention with the release of the Kony 2012 viral video. The LRA is accused of killing villagers in several African countries and abducting children to use as soldiers or sex slaves.

BANFIELD: Week two, the John Edwards trial gets started later on this morning in North Carolina and it will pick up where it left of on Friday with this woman, Sherri Young, on the witness stand.

She is the wife of the former aide to Mr. Edwards, an aide named Andrew Young. She told the court on Friday that her husband did everything for the disgraced former senator, even yard work and buying Christmas presents for his kids.

She testified that it almost destroyed her marriage. Edwards is charged with using illegal campaign contributions to hide an affair and a baby while he was running for president.

ROMANS: All right, ahead on EARLY START, a state of emergency in Sudan, the government reportedly launching air strikes with journalists in harm's way.

BANFIELD: And a boy gets kicked off a girl's hockey team. You'll never believe what the reason is for it, all coming up after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Good morning to you. It's 9 minutes after the hour. Time to check stories making news this morning.

The One World Trade Center Tower is about to become the tallest building in New York City. This afternoon workers are scheduled to install a beam that will raise the structure to 1,271 feet, making it 21 feet taller than the Empire State Building. When construction is complete in late 2013, early 2014 the so-called Freedom Tower will stand 1,776 feet tall.

A delicate diplomatic crisis unfolding this morning between China and the United States. Dissident Chen Guangchang is believed to be hold up in the U.S. embassy in Beijing this morning after escaping house arrest. All while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to visit China for economic and strategic talks later this week.

Terrifying video of journalists caught in the cross-fire in Sudan running for cover as at least half a dozen bombs dropped on a South Sudanese army camp. Reporter Robin Kreel says she was right up on the frontlines when Sudanese army war planes attacked. Her crew hid in the trenches for 15 minutes before they escaped.

If you've been racially profiled by the TSA or you think that, an app will allow users to report alleged profiling in real time and unveiled later at a news conference. Organizations representing several minority groups will be on hand to introduce a novel marriage between technology and civil rights activism.

Who is killing who? A new study says shark populations in the Pacific reef are plummeting and we are to blame. Researchers compared the number of reef sharks in areas near human populations with those near uninhabited ones. Guess what? They found shark numbers dropped by more than 90 percent around some populated islands.

The ensemble comedy "Think Like A Man" based on Steve Harvey's bestselling book is still king of the Box Office. It finished on top for a second weekend in a row.

"Think Like A Man" made $18 million, "The Pirates, Band of Misfits" finished second and "The Lucky One" was third with 11.3.

For an expanded look at all of these top stories, head on over to our blog cnn.com/earlystart -- Ash.

BANFIELD: All right, thanks, Christine. It's 11 minutes now past 6:00 on the east coast. A 13-year-old boy has been banned from playing on the varsity girl's field hockey team and get this? The reason? He's too good. It's happening at New York's Southampton High School on Long Island.

His name is Keeling Pilaro. He plays with the girls because there is no boys field hockey team at the school so federal law allows it.

But the law also has some restrictions when it comes to the boys suiting up with the girls and it seems the school's athletic governing body has determined that the 4'8" tall 82-pound Keeling has skills that are, quote, "having a significant adverse effect on some of his opposing female players."

Keeling join me live this morning along with his mom, Fairley, and their attorney, Frank. Welcome to all of you. Keeling, let me start with you. Just who wants you of the team and why do you think they want you gone?

KEELING PILARO, 13-YEAR-OLD FIELD HOCKEY PLAYER: Well, I think Section 11 wants us off the team because they said I have an adverse effect because I'm the dominant player on the field, but there are girls that are a lot better than me that have more skills and that are faster. And almost every single girl on the team is faster and stronger than me so I don't see why they would want me off it.

BANFIELD: Now as I understand it, Keeling, you are the lead goal scorer with your team, but you haven't won any awards so how are they determining that you are somehow having an adverse effect on the girls?

KEELING PILARO: Well they're just basing it completely on stats, because a lot of people, like I'm one of the people who plays attack, and in field hockey and there's a really good girl named Tara Watson and she plays defense.

She's like really good. She's one of the best players on the team, and she plays defense so she doesn't have like the top goals, but like because I play offense I do have one of those.

BANFIELD: So let me turn to your mom for a second. Fairley, what do you think is behind all of this, if your son is somewhat smaller than the other girls and perhaps isn't necessarily better or faster or winning in all categories, is there something else at play here?

FAIRLEY PILARO, KEELING'S MOTHER: You know, I think that's a really good question and I think that's why we're here. We don't really know the answer to that.

You know, Section 11 has been very generous to let him play for the past two years, and they said it was a very specific case because of his size and because he grew up in Ireland, and I kind of feel like they changed the rules in the middle of the game and honestly, I don't know why.

We have no supporting evidence to show that he has had an adverse effect. In fact we have quite the opposite, we have a lot of support from his teammates, from opposing players, from opposing coaches, and we found a lot of support in the Southampton community that it's been the pleasant part of all of this.

BANFIELD: And, Fairley, I do want you to kind of clear it up, because I think a lot of people might be wondering. Field hockey, that's really a girl's sport. How did your son get so good at it? I think you mentioned something about Ireland and there is something unique to that.

F. PILARO: Keeling was born in New York City and we moved to Ireland when he was about 6 months old and we end up staying there for 12 years. So, when we moved back June two years ago, we would have been there for 12 years. And field hockey is much more of a mainstream sport in Ireland.

It's not just a girl's sport. In fact, there is a United States national men's team, along with 126 other countries in the world that have a national men's team. In fact, more boys than men in the world play field hockey than women.

BANFIELD: Interesting.

F. PILARO: Over in the schools in Ireland, they play -- they incorporate field hockey into their P.E. program. So he's been playing since the age of 4, maybe 5 and in addition to --

BANFIELD: Let me jump over to your attorney, sorry to interrupt. But I do want to find out if there's any legal grounds on which you can actually battle this and battle the organizing body to keep Keeling on the varsity team as he heads into the older grades.

FRANK SCAGLUSO, PILARO FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, presently, there is an appeal of Section 11's determination, the determination was made by the committee on mixed competition, that appeal is scheduled for May 15th. The appellant in that case is going to be the school district, Southampton Schools.

We're confident that with the presentation by the school district, that they'll reconsider their decision. But if they don't reconsider and they stand with the decision they've made so far, we're prepared to move forward in court and file discrimination lawsuit and we're confident once the court examines the rules that Section 11 uses and the way they apply it that the decision will be reversed and that we'll be on the field in September.

BANFIELD: Well, Mr. Scagluso and, Keeling and Fairley Pilaro -- thank you for your story and good luck. Good luck with how it turns and stay great out there on the field, kiddo.

KEELING PILARO: Thank you.

F. PILARO: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Over to you, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up next, Apple, innovators of digital music and tablets, now doing the same in tech strategy. How Apple avoids paying billions in taxes and it's all perfectly legal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, I really enjoy the design and creative process and pulling little lever there is and tweaking little details from a design perspective. But what really gets me excited is when I hand an inventor their product for the first time, a product they conceived on a napkin and posted on the Internet, and here I am some random dude handing it to them and it's a real life physical team that they're going to buy at Target the next week. That me is the most special part of the process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Minding your business this morning: Apple's tax policies under a microscope after a critical story in "The New York Times" over the weekend.

ROMANS: That's right. Apple makes so much money it's changing the lives of its consumers and its shareholders frankly. And the company is such an incredible success story it's gaining scrutiny over how it makes its money.

You heard a lot about its manufacturing facilities in China and the wages and the conditions there. "The New York Times" is investigating Apple's tax policies. Apple, like other companies, works to keep its tax bill as low as it can. That's what it's supposed to do, return shareholder value and pay as little taxes as humanly and legally possible.

Some examples, by opening offices in states with low corporate tax rate, like Nevada. Nevada has zero corporate taxes. But tech companies like Apple has more flexibility, of course, where they have their offices or operations, more flexibility than like car companies or manufacturers. So, Apple has offices in low tax countries abroad like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the British Virgin Islands, all perfectly legal ways to keep Apple's taxes low.

In a lengthy response to "The New York Times" story, Apple defended its tax strategy, saying, "In the first half of fiscal year 2012, our U.S. operations generated almost $5 billion in federal and state income taxes, including income taxes withheld on employee stock gains, making us among the top payers of U.S. income tax."

The statement continued, "Apple has conducted all of its business with the highest ethical standards, complying with applicable laws and accounting rules."

But I will tell you, as Apple continues to be such a major success story, I think you're going to see scrutiny where it does business, how it does business, how much money it makes, what it does with its money, and how it pays taxes.

I was recently on a conference call with Tim Cook, the CEO of that company, and he you know, they were complaining. The company executives were complaining about U.S. tax policies overall. They like to see tax reform and like companies to have a leveler playing field with the rest of the world. So, that's something important to the company.

BANFIELD: You hear that and the Republicans stump all the time, that these companies create jobs and they help stimulate the economy with their -- they should have every right to try to work the tax system best way possible.

ROMANS: But "The New York Times" story is always a good read. I'll tweet you that, if anybody wants to take a look at that.

BANFIELD: This one is smart. This one, I'll tell you. Nothing gets past her.

So, we decided it would be a great feature to have a word of wisdom from Christine Romans every day. And I'm not kidding. I knock on her door every day. It's the one thing you need to know.

ROMANS: The one thing you needed to know about your money today, you're going to be hearing a lot about jobs, the jobs report on Friday, and what matters to you is your jobless rate, it's either 100 percent or zero percent. So, don't believe any of the politicking this week about who is going to build or create jobs, blah, blah. You're going to be hearing so much of that this week and until the election.

But my advice to people is focus, on the job market of one. That's your job market, and don't listen to the political game on this.

BANFIELD: Eyes down, eye on the prize -- head down, eye on the prize.

Twenty-four minutes now past 6:00 on the East Coast. And coming up next on EARLY START, less than three months to go before the Olympic Games begin in London, they are the rings under construction. It's very exciting time, but 700 people in London were just told that a surface-to-air missile could be deployed on their rooftop. Well, that messes up your summertime suntan plans.

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Twenty-eight minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans, in for Zoraida Sambolin this morning.

Here's what's happening:

The new One World Trade Center tower is just hours away from becoming New York's tallest building, winds permitting. Workers are scheduled to install a beam this afternoon that will stretch the tower to 1,776 feet, 21 feet above the Empire State Building.

There's a diplomatic crisis brewing between the U.S. and China all over dissident Chen Guangcheng, who is believed to be in the protection of the U.S. embassy in Beijing this morning after a scathing house arrest there.

And week two of the John Edwards trial about to get under way. Cheri Young, the wife of former Edwards aide Andrew Young, will be back on the stand this morning. She told the court Friday her husband was so consumed with protecting the now disgraced former senator that it almost destroyed her marriage and her family -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Christine, thank you.

Twenty-eight minutes now past 6:00.

Newt Gingrich certainly made the Republican nomination interesting with his clever attack lines, his novel ideas, like the moon base. But after winning only two primaries in South Carolina and Georgia, Newt Gingrich is finally calling it quits. And I know you feel like you've heard this story before, but a source close to the former House speaker says he'll officially end his presidential bid on Wednesday. Yes, I know you heard it was Tuesday, because that's what it was originally. Now, it's Wednesday.

Paul Steinhauser, the CNN political editor, joins us now live from D.C.

When I keep hearing how he's going to hold a news conference to announce that he's going to hold a news conference, it would eventually lead to dropping out of the race. It's a little like the slow grip torture.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, Ashleigh. Once again, Newt Gingrich is doing it this way. He's done it his way this whole campaign.

Look, give him credit. He came back from the dead almost twice with that comeback last December when he became the co-frontrunner on the polls. And, of course, winning South Carolina was huge, and he was a co-frontrunner for a while.

Yes, but, no, no longer. He hasn't been part of the equation for some time. Wednesday, as you mentioned, we believe now the event here in the Washington, D.C. area, we think he will suspend the campaign and then, of course, officially endorse Mitt Romney.

The big question mark: Will Mitt Romney be there? He could be in the D.C. area on Wednesday, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And what about Rick Santorum? Because May 4th was the big meeting schedule. But do we know if the big meeting is going to result in an announcement of an endorsement after the meeting?

STEINHAUSER: We do not, unfortunately. And that meeting, as you mentioned, May 4th, which is this Friday. It's been almost a month now that Santorum suspended his campaign, remember, he was the big main rival to Romney over the last couple of months before he dropped out of the race. I spoke to some Santorum advisers, they were staying very quite.

Will he endorse at the meeting or not? What will be asking for behind the scenes? We do know that he wants his supporters, the Tea Party backers, the social conservatives, he wants them to have a voice going forward as Mitt Romney now fights for the White House -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: I know and I think everyone else know that there's a little negotiation, what do I get out if I put my name behind you, and endorse you. But what about the coalescing of the party, because that's what everybody said was the most critical thing.

STEINHAUSER: And that's why Romney really wants Santorum's endorsement, because when it comes to those social conservatives, those Tea Party supporters, Romney did not do so well with them in the primaries, having Santorum publicly backing him, having the two men standing together could help bring the party together and give some more unity to the Romney ticket as he moves forward.

BANFIELD: All right. And let's turn to the big contest, the official election, because the Obama campaign, and again, it kind of feels like it's already happened some time ago, but officially the Obama campaign was kicked off this weekend.

STEINHAUSER: It was. Take a listen look at this video from the Obama re-election team. It's pretty biting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: He had to decide, and that's what we hire our president to do. You hire the president to make the calls when no one else can do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEINHAUSER: Former President Clinton there in an Obama re- election campaign video. Basically the former president touting President Obama's decision making process one year ago on that raid that killed Osama bin Laden and a question which questioned whether Mitt Romney would have made the same call if he were in the Oval Office.

And guess what? Last night, former President Clinton teaming up with the president at a fund-raiser outside of Washington, D.C. I think you're going to see a lot more of former President Clinton helping out and being a top surrogate in the Obama reelection drive. Remember, four years ago, they were rivals when Hillary Clinton was running for office.

And check this out, a brand new video coming out this morning, Ashleigh, from the Obama campaign just out this hour, going to all their supporters. It touts all the accomplishments they say the president has done over the last three and a half years. And, of course, on Saturday, he kicks it all off with a rally in Ohio and Virginia, two battleground states.

The game is on, no doubt about it, six months until Election Day.

BANFIELD: Game is on. Put in your vacation days now so you can be told no. Thank you, Paul Steinhauser. Nice to see you. Good morning.

ROMANS: Anti-bullying activist Dan Savage is accused of bullying a group of teenagers, calling them expletives all because they walk out of his lecture at the National High School Journalists Conference. Savage is best known for his It Gets Better campaign to combat antigay bullying. About a dozen teens walked out on his speech when he slammed parts of the Bible using a word we can't repeat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN SAVAGE, CREATOER FO THE IT GETS BETTER PROJECT: We can learn to ignore the bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in the bible about gay people. It's funny someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how (EXPLETIVE DELETED) people react when you push that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Savage later said, quote, "I apologize if I hurt anyone's feelings but I have a right to defend myself."

An eyewitness to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy insists she heard two guns firing on that fateful day in 1968 and she's quite sure there was a second shooter. Nina Rhodes-Hughes was a young actress standing just a few feet from assassin Sirhan Sirhan and RFK in that Los Angeles hotel more than 40 years ago. All accounts in that day said eight shots were fired. Rhode-Hughes insists she heard more than a dozen shots but claims police altered her account.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

NINA RHODES-HUGHES, WITNESS TO ROBERT KENNEDY'S ASSASSINATION: What has to come out is that there was another shooter to my right, and Robert Kennedy was also to my right with Sirhan Sirhan was almost straight ahead and to my left, standing on some steel raised platform, and that there were two shooters.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROMANS: The 68-year-old Sirhan is serving a life sentence. The U.S. District Court in Los Angeles is about to rule on his request to be released, retried or granted a new hearing, new evidence rather based on in part on Rhodes-Hughes comment that there's another shooter that day.

Hundreds of people living in east London apartment complex have been warned that surface-to-air missiles could be stationed on their top to defend the Summer Olympic Games.

Everyone living in the complex received leaflets informing there could be 10 soldiers positioned on their roof for up to two months. The apartment facility is in the bow section of London, just two miles from the site of the Olympic stadium.

The London Games begin in less than three months. Britain confirms more than 13,000 troops have been deployed on land, at sea and on the air to help police and bodyguard protect the interests.

BANFIELD: So imagine if you throw that leaflet out thinking it's junk mail and then all of the sudden, just walk in to a couple of special forces guy on the ceiling, on the roof.

ROMANS: You know you're not going to have any petty theft for a few weeks.

BANFIELD: A very positive way of spinning this, nice way of looking at it, all upbeat in the morning.

Thirty-five minutes now past 6:00 in the morning and everything, everyone all things fair game this weekend at the White House correspondents' dinner. President Obama teaming up with Jimmy Kimmel and joking about just about everything -- the upcoming election, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and even Secret Service scandal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: I do have a lot joke about the Secret Service. You know, I told him for $800, I wouldn't tell them, but they only offered $30. So --

(LAUGHTER)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a lot more material prepared but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew.

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: Mr. President, do you remember when the country rallied around you in hopes of a better tomorrow? That was hilarious.

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: Last week, we learned that the president's two favorite steaks are rib eye and seeing eye.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A pit bull is delicious. Of course, I know everybody's predicting a nasty election and thankfully we've all agreed that families are off limits. Dogs, however, are apparently fair game.

It's great to be here this evening in the vast, magnificent Hilton ballroom or what Mitt Romney would call a little fixer-upper.

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: You know, there's a term for guys like President Obama, probably not two terms but there is.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Four years ago, I looked like this. Today I look like this. And four years from now, I will look like this.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

ROMANS: That was really funny.

BANFIELD: I think he'd be so lucky if he looked like Morgan Freeman. He's a good looking man. Maybe not so soon, but -- so, OK.

We got the story for you. it might be a little weird in the morning. But the little blue pill -- you know what I'm talking about, it has some competition apparently.

The FDA has approved a brand new drug to treat erectile dysfunction. And coming up, we'll tell you why this drug may work better for some men.

But at 6:37 a.m. on the East Coast, time to get a travel check of the weather with Bonnie Schneider, who's filling in for Rob this morning.

Hi, Bonnie.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi. Good morning.

So far no delays but there's lot of nasty weather out there that may impact travel. And I'm talking about cities in the Midwest, Kansas City and St. Louis. You are facing rain and thunderstorms as well as Oklahoma City. In fact, we could be looking at a flood threat for a good portion of the Midwest and the Plains States.

Another travel trouble spot is Florida. We saw this weekend, more of this rain will sweep onshore particularly in southeast Florida. So from Boca, further to the south in Miami and the Keys, you're looking at some really heavy rain that it's likely to impact air travel, as well as those of you that are driving.

In the Northeast this morning, you're waking up to some chilly temperatures. It is below freezing right now in Scranton, 44, New York City, and with that said, we are anticipating temperatures to stay below freezing in the teens and 20s. The freeze threat is for Monday.

But the good news is, for many of these cities you warm back up to 60 degrees for example in New York City. Overall, watch out for storms in the Plain States, parts of the Midwest. Otherwise, travel weather is looking good.

Stay tuned. EARLY START will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Good morning, Atlanta, where it's 63 degrees and later you'll have a beautiful spring for Atlanta, sunny day of 89 degrees.

Important news for the estimated 30 million men with erectile dysfunction. The FDA has added to the list drugs like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, a new drug called Stendra or avanafil. It's the first erectile dysfunction drug out in almost 10 years.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here.

Why take this one, Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. You might want to ask the question, does the world really need four drugs for this? But I'll leave that to others to answer. But -- so all of these drugs, Christine, act basically in the same way. They increase blood flow to the penis.

So, the question is, well, why this one? Well, the one works in a slightly different way, so if the other three don't work for you, this one might.

And there's another reason, this one has been shown for some men to work in just 15 minutes. You take the pill and for some men just 15 minutes later it works, whereas with the other drugs, you may have to wait 30 minutes, an hour. So, you know, for some men, that might make a difference.

ROMANS: Does the drug work for everyone, Elizabeth?

COHEN: You know what? He doesn't work, and I think people forget that about Viagra and the other drugs. For example, this drug was stone to only truly work for about 60 percent of the men who took it. So, you know, we think of these as wonder drugs but they don't work for a fairly significant percentage of people who take them.

ROMANS: What about side effects of this drug and the erectile dysfunction drugs in general?

COHEN: Right. The side effects for the most part are pretty mild -- things like nasal congestion or headaches. Now, drugs in this class do sometimes have a sort of bizarre side effect, where men will have vision changes or maybe even lose their vision entirely or have hearing changes or maybe lose their hearing entirely. This is number one, very rare. Number two, it goes away when you stop taking the drug.

But doctors we talked to said that doesn't scare men away. They don't really care. They want the drug. They want the erection. And they don't really care if they temporarily lose their vision.

ROMANS: A tradeoff that is somehow not surprising.

COHEN: There you go.

ROMANS: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you for coming by this morning. Nice to see you.

COHEN: My pleasure.

ROMANS: Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: You're both blushing. Go figure.

It's 44 minutes now past 6:00 and time to check in with Soledad O'Brien and see what's coming up on "STARTING POINT," starting with the whole new Kennedy conspiracy theory.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, really, the other Kennedy conspiracy theory is going to be on "STARTING POINT" this morning.

New information about the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. We're going to talk with Nina Rhodes-Hughes. She was just a few feet away from RFK the night that he was shot. She says there was a second shooter.

And the hunt for African warlord Joseph Kony is on. A viral video campaign, of course, made him a household name.

Plus, actor, comedian, Bobcat Goldthwait is going to be with us. He's got a new film that's called "God Bless, America," about a man who finds the current state of the nation "toxic, shallow, and celebrity obsessed."

ROMANS: No. Not possible.

O'BRIEN: Yes. And we'll tell you what he does. That and much more when "Starting Point" begins in just about ten minutes or so.

BANFIELD: Really?

O'BRIEN: Yes, shallow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: It is 48 minutes past the hour so get up, get out of bed, you're going to be late.

ROMANS: No, no. They just got done running three miles. Congratulations.

BANFIELD: Oh, man, you make me feel so lazy -- you make me feel lazy from being up all night.

ROMANS: If someone is already up at this hour has accomplished something, congratulations.

BANFIELD: We're so glad you're with us. Top stories for you. This is a great one. This will make you feel good.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD (voice-over): It's a milestone for the one World Trade Center today, because later on, as long as the wind isn't too crazy, the workers are going to install a beam on that tower that is going to take it to be the tallest structure in New York on its way to being the tallest structure in the United States that will eclipse the Empire State Building which spans at 1,250 feet tall.

ROMANS (voice-over): A horrible crash kills seven members of the same New York family. Police say the driver of the SUV lost control and went careening off the highway, plunging some 60 feet to the ground. The victims included grandparents, parents, and children, one as young as three. The cause is still under investigation, although, speed is under suspicion here.

BANFIELD: The frustrating search continues for a missing six- year-old girl named Isabel Mercedes Celis who vanished nine days ago from her home in Tucson, Arizona. Police say they've questioned at least three people captured in this surveillance video which was taken outside the home the night little Isabel disappeared, but they say new tips are slowing down.

ROMANS: All right. Violence in Mexico is killing more and more Americans. A record 120 Americans were killed in Mexico last year, compare that to only 35 killed back in 2007. That's according to "The Houston Chronicle" which analyzed state department data. And the violence is now striking areas once considered peaceful.

Twelve Americans were killed in Jalisco State, a place where many have gone to retire. Officials blame the killings on gangs.

BANFIELD: The attorney for George Zimmerman has set up a blog to keep the media and other interested parties updated on Zimmerman's legal defense. His lawyer tells us that about $200,000 has already been raised in support of the neighborhood watch volunteer who, as you know, has been charged with second-degree murder connected to the death of Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin.

ROMANS: A frightened and confused dolphin stranded in the shallow wetlands off Orange County, California. Fish and Game officers route both over the weekend trying to coax the dolphin to swim to freedom. Officials say a crowd of onlookers scared him into the harbor area on Friday. They were close to getting him out, but officials say a herd of dolphins spooked him and then he turned back around.

BANFIELD: A beauty queen busted for allegedly beating up her boyfriend. Nicole Houd (ph), not sure, I don't know my beauty queen that well, but she's a former Miss New Hampshire USA, and she's accused of kicking and scratching and biting her boyfriend. Police say flew into a rage when he snatched her cell phone and accused her of cheating.

ROMANS: A big full body jolt. That's what it feels like to be struck by lightning according to a pregnant Ohio woman who lived to tell the story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY LOWE, STRUCK BY LIGHTNING OUTSIDE HER HOME: It was a huge flash, just this big boom. I, like, felt it jolt up my arm, and out my left arm, and out my toes. They're rubber-soled shoes. And usually, on my way to work, I would have heels on. And, I was going to throw them away yesterday, and I didn't.

I put them on today. And, first thing they said when I checked in was that they probably saved my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Wow. Her doctors say the baby is perfectly healthy. She and her husband have quite the story to tell the little guy.

BANFIELD: Moral of the story, always wear your sneakers to work.

ROMANS: I guess. She said I was going to wear high heels. Pregnant women love to wear high heels, you know --

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: I have to be honest, I did wear them as long as possible.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: All right. So, two presidents for the price of one. Some 500 well-healed supporters attended a Virginia fundraiser on Sunday headlined by President Obama and former president, Bill Clinton. TV cameras, not allowed. The first of three joint fundraisers for Obama and Clinton.

And by the way, Clinton took a shot at Obama's likely campaign rival, Mitt Romney, saying that he wants to do what Republicans have done before, but on steroids, his words.

ROMANS: All right. He saves life in television and in real life. Actor, Patrick Dempsey, Dr. McDreamy of "Grey's Anatomy," saying he rescued a teenager who crashed his car into Dempsey's front yard (INAUDIBLE) California. He used a crowbar to free the driver from his mangled mustang. The teen reportedly suffered only a concussion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD (on-camera): Man, to be rescued by him, eek! Up next --

ROMANS (on-camera): Saved again.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: This is the antithesis of that last story. This is an app that would tell you something that your mother never would, how ugly you are.

ROMANS: Plus, the billionaire who plans to build a brand new "Titanic." EARLY START right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: A brave billionaire is tempting fate and announcing plans to build "The Titanic II," full sized replica of the doomed ship. His name is Clive Palmer. He's an Australian mining tycoon and said he's hired a Chinese-owned company to build it. And guess what, he went there, he says this "Titanic," unlike the old one, unsinkable. Boy, I hope so. "Titanic II" is expected to set sail in 2016.

ROMANS: All right. Time to take a look at what's trending on the web. The beauty will always be in the eye of the beholders, but now, there's an iPhone app to determine just how ugly you are.

BANFIELD: That's just mean.

ROMANS: That's right. You're right, it is mean.

BANFIELD: Just mean.

ROMANS: The ugly meter pro is a best-selling worldwide. You snap a picture, presumably of yourself, although, I guess, you could take someone else (ph), and the ugly meter scans your face and rates your look on a scale of 1 to 100.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JO OVERLINE, CREATOR, "UGLY METER PRO": How you do your hair and you have a beard, those things don't matter. It's facial structure. It doesn't matter. Everybody is interested in vanity, and they like to know where they rank.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: It's not what you do with it, it's what God gave you. And this guy is going to tell you whether give you (ph) enough. The ugly meter lets you post the results to Facebook or Twitter.

BANFIELD: And you know I have a feeling when you said, you're supposed to take it of yourself, many be not others, something tells me that's not what it's geared for. I don't know.

All right. So, for those of you who went to bed, you missed a real thriller. Los Angeles Clippers pulling off one of the most stunning comebacks in NBA playoff history. Let's go to the highlights, shall we? I actually sound like a sports anchor.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: They came back from 27 points down, even I know that's a big deal. They were on the road, and they beat the Memphis Grizzlies last night. Final score, 99-98. Clippers finishing the game with a 28-3 run, and that rally gave them a one-nothing lead in the playoff series. So, congratulations, because that is a big old deal. Wow.

ROMANS: You're not a big sports fan (INAUDIBLE)

BANFIELD: You know what though, I don't even think you need to be a sports fan when you see that you can get -- you can come from behind at 28 points.

ROMANS: That's cool.

BANFIELD: When I watched "Moneyball," that's when I started to realize just how bad it is when you're that far behind and that was a big win that they were squandering in "Moneyball."

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: I didn't like baseball until I watch "Moneyball." Thank you, Aaron Sorkin, I really appreciate it.

ROMANS: Excellent. All right. That's it for us.

BANFIELD: That is it. We are done, the news to "A" to "Z," well the news from "A" to "C," (ph) anyway. I'm Ashleigh Banfield

ROMANS: We got the very beginning part of the alphabet for you today. I'm Christine Romans. "STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN" starts right now. Good morning, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: And good morning to both of you.