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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Trumping Romney; Outrage Over Syria Massacre; Snack Attack; Booker's Communications Director Resigns

Aired May 30, 2012 - 05:00   ET

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


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump versus Wolf Blitzer. Their war of words on live TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Donald, Donald, you're beginning to sound a the little ridiculous, I have to tell you.

DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I think you are, Wolf. Let me tell you something, I think you sound ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, the White House apologizing after President Obama accidentally insults the people of Poland.

And a pilot pulls off a miracle after the plane's propeller ends up on the roof of a house.

On that note, good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BANFIELD: Just hate when that happens.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I know.

BANFIELD: Just hate when that happens. Just ruins your morning, doesn't it?

Hi, everybody. Zoraida and I are here to bring you the news from "A" to "Z." It's 5:00 in the East.

And let's just get started, shall we?

BANFIELD: First, Donald Trump sucking the air out of the whole evening, stealing Mitt Romney's thunder after last night's Texas primary victory. Romney now has more than enough delegates to clinch the Republican nomination, but not everyone is talking about that this morning. Instead, it seems to be all about the Trump and Barack Obama's birth certificate again.

Again, the Donald campaigning with Romney in Las Vegas yesterday, reviving that old debate over whether the president has born in this country. Let's just say he was. It's been proven. But it's triggered this spirited exchange with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A lot of people do not think it was an authentic certificate.

BLITZER: How can you say that --

TRUMP: You won't report it, Wolf. But many people do not think it was authentic. His mother was not in the hospital. There are many other things that came out.

And frankly, if you would report it accurately, I think you'd probably get better ratings than you're getting, which are pretty small.

BLITZER: Donald, have you seen the actual newspaper announcements within days of his birth in Honolulu? For example, "The Honolulu Star Bulletin". We'll put it up there. You've seen the birth announcement in 1961. Listen to me, Donald -- can I ask --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Can I talk while you stop defending Obama?

BLITZER: Donald, Donald, you're beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you.

TRUMP: No, I think you are, Wolf.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Well, there was that.

CNN's political editor Paul Steinhauser is live in Washington this morning.

And, Paul, you thought this whole clinching the nomination thing and reaching the magic number of 1,144 would kind of go over with a whimper, and it turns out it kind of did.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes. And blame Donald Trump for a lot of it. This is a huge distraction. You mentioned right off the bat, Ashleigh.

Mitt Romney just made history last night. He's become the first Mormon to clinch the nomination of a major party. That is a very big deal. But, of course, we're not talking about that Donald Trump and we're talking about Donald Trump and the birther issue. That is a huge distraction for Mitt Romney.

His whole theme this week was going after President Obama, saying he's bad for job creators, he's wasting taxpayer dollars. We're not talking about that either. We're talking about Donald Trump and the birther issue. Thanks to Wolf Blitzer with that really compelling interview on "THE SITUATION ROOM" where Wolf really I think did a strong, strong job of pointing out to Donald Trump that, yes, Barack Obama was born in the United States, and you're not looking at the facts.

But this is what we're talking about. Newt Gingrich, former House speaker who was Romney's rival, came out last night. He spoke to cameras and said this is not a distraction for Republicans.

Take a listen to what Gingrich said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Donald Trump said what he said because he thinks it's the right thing for him to say?

REPORTER: Do you think it's racist?

GINGRICH: No. I think that Obama creates very powerful emotions about him, largely because of the radicalism of his views.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEINHAUSER: You know, I was looking at the full report, Ashleigh, from the fund-raiser, and Donald Trump did not mention the birther issue at all. He attacked President Obama for a lot of other things and said Mitt Romney will make this country great again. But the issue did not come up though according to the notes from that that closed fund-raiser last night -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: So, Paul, it's interesting the day before on his plane, Mitt Romney disavowed the issues and said, I believe Obama was born in this country, and it's not an issue for me. Last night something else happened, and it felt like he sort of started to wave into this issue and not disavow it entirely.

Can you touch on that?

STEINHAUSER: Yes, a little bit of a bizarre moment. It was a couple hours before the fund-raiser. Mitt Romney had a campaign event at a furniture store in Las Vegas. He talked about a supporter that said something else should be added to the Constitution when it comes to requirements for being president. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was speaking with one of these business owners who owns a couple of restaurants in town, and he said, you know, I'd like to change the Constitution. I'm not sure I can do it, he said, but I'd like to have a provision in the constitution that, in addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president and the birth place of the president being set by the Constitution, I'd like it also to say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before he can become president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEINHAUSER: Yes, Ashleigh, as you mentioned, a little bizarre, especially on a day that there was so much attention to the birther issue that Romney would bring it up publicly and talk about it in front of cameras.

But I don't think he was talking about the birther issue. Maybe it didn't sound great, but his big theme has been, listen, I'm a businessman. That makes me qualified to be president. I think that's what he was trying to highlight there.

But again, maybe a little tone deaf -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: You're right. That should have been what the issue is. That is a legitimate campaign issue. It's what most people think this election is all about.

But the fact that he said it twice, the citizenship and the place where the president is born, made it feel as though, hey, hold on a second. You're really stepping into this little business.

Anyway, lots more to talk about.

STEINHAUSER: I agree with you.

BANFIELD: And 1,144, we have the nominee. How exciting is that?

STEINHAUSER: But unofficial. Hate to say that. We have to wait until the convention in August.

BANFIELD: Steinhauser, oh. Good to see you, six minutes past 5:00. Always good to see you, no matter what time of day.

And there's a lot of buzz, what Steinhauser was just talking about, a lot about Wolf Blitzer's interview with Donald Trump. Guess what? We're going to get the Blitz on early. I'm going to talk with Wolf live at 6:30 Eastern.

Now that he's had to sleep on this issue, think about it a little more, we'll get his thoughts about what went down live on TV with the Donald.

SAMBOLIN: It is six minutes past the hour here.

An embarrassing slip-up by President Obama has Polish political leaders outraged this morning. The White House says the president misspoke during the Medal of Freedom ceremonies when he referred to a Polish death camp instead of a German death camp while honoring the memory of a Polish resistance fighter during World War II.

Here's the comment that is causing all the controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale and smuggled him into Warsaw ghetto in a Polish death camp to see for himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Poland's foreign minister calls that comment a matter of ignorance and incompetence. Poland's prime minister, Donald Tusk, is expected to address the controversy publicly a little later today.

BANFIELD: A civil rights group is asking the U.S. Justice Department to step in after a Tennessee judge stopped the construction of a mosque. The Islamic center in Murfreesboro, south of Nashville, was featured in CNN's "In America" documentary last year.

Yesterday, a judge ruled the county government failed to give proper public notice about plans to the mosque before granting a permit. Anti-mosque group has been fighting construction for two years. County officials say they're now reviewing that ruling.

And coming up at 7:30 this morning, we're going to be talking live with the spokesman of that mosque, Saleh Sbenaty. That's "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien.

SAMBOLIN: The United States is asking Canada to investigate a deadly plane crash that happened in Virginia. They're asking Canada because both planes were owned by U.S. federal employees, one from the FAA and one from the NTSB. The planes crashed into each other in midair on Monday about 50 miles from Washington, D.C.

One pilot and a passenger were killed. The other pilot is injured. U.S. officials say an NTSB investigator will assist the Canadian investigation.

BANFIELD: For the first time, we are hearing an apology from the former Rutgers University student convicted of bias intimidation after using a web cam to spy on his roommate, who later killed himself. Dharun Ravi is due in court today before he begins serving his 30-day sentence in the death of Tyler Clementi, related to the death of Tyler Clementi.

And in a written statement issued yesterday, Ravi said, quote, "I accept responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid, and childish choices that I made."

SAMBOLIN: Jurors in the John Edwards corruption trial will begin their eighth day of deliberations this morning, and there are signs they're not even close to reaching a verdict. Several of them sending notes to a judge about scheduling conflicts this week and next week.

The judge also scolding jurors, warning them not to discuss the case outside the deliberation room.

BANFIELD: Just ahead, international outrage is really growing after that horrifying massacre of civilians, many of them children in Syria. Now, another country is telling the Syrian ambassador, get out and get out fast. A live report on this crisis coming up next.

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 12 minutes past the hour.

The crisis in Syria will be front and center when the United Nations Security Council meets later this morning. Japan is now joining the U.S. and other Western nations, expelling its Syrian ambassador in Tokyo, in response to last week's massacre of more than 100 civilians in the town of Houla, including many, many children.

CNN's Ivan Watson is monitoring developments from Istanbul, Turkey. He joins us live.

What is the latest there?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zoraida, we have the Japanese foreign minister accusing Syria of inhuman acts of violence, of killing children in Houla last Friday and declaring Syria's ambassador persona non grata. That's at least 11 countries that have expelled Syrian diplomats in the last 24 hours.

Take a look at what the United Nations Human Rights Agency spokesman says about the grisly details of that massacre on Friday, which he's blaming on pro-government Syrian militias called Shabiha. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUPERT COLVILLE, U.N. OFFICIAL: A small number appears to be killed by artillery shelling and tank fire, which took place over a period of more than 12 hours. But the majority appear to have been the result of house to house summary executions of armed men getting into houses and killing men, women, and children inside. What is clear is government forces were involved. They were shelling, using tanks and artillery, and it appears to be Shabiha militia entering the houses and slaughtering people in what is really an abominable crime that took place throughout the day on Friday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Zoraida, we just spoke with an 11-year-old boy, a resident of Houla, who survived that attack. He said that men armed with guns and knives broke into his house, took away his father, and shot his mother and siblings in front of his eyes. Listen to what he had to say to us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED KID: They were talking to my mom. I'm not sure what happened, but they shot her five times. They shot her in the head.

Then he turned and shot my sister, Rasha, in the head. Then he shot my brother, Nader, in the neck and the back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: His last words to us were: please do not tell them where I am, what my name is. I don't want them to kill me.

The Syrian government has denied any links whatsoever to this violence. It insists it's fighting armed terrorists like al Qaeda -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Ivan, we keep on hearing that all of these Syrian ambassadors are being kicked out. Will that have any impact on the violence in Syria? Or is it just a symbolic move?

WATSON: Simple answer is no. This violence has been going on for nearly 15 months. There has been a chorus of foreign criticism. The United Nations has repeatedly accused the Syrian government of crimes against humanity.

There has been no sign, even after Syria signed on to a peace plan with the United Nations and pledged to pull its forces back from Syrian cities, there has been no sign that it is willing to stop doing things like shelling Syrian cities and torturing prisoners or massacres like this one that the U.N. has directly accused the Syrian government of carrying out. So the simple answer is no.

As long as Russia and China and Iran are backing up the Syrian government and as long as Western governments are unwilling to escalate pressure and risk a bigger conflict in Syria, it looks like this awful cycle of violence will just continue -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Ivan Watson reporting live for us from Istanbul, Turkey. We appreciate that.

BANFIELD: It's now 16 minutes past 5:00 on the East Coast. Let's get you up to date for to the top stories of the day.

Christine Romans is busy with that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.

Mitt Romney now has enough delegates to be the GOP nominee after winning the Texas primary last night. No one is talking about that, because Donald Trump, who is appearing with Romney at a Las Vegas fundraiser yesterday, decided to revive the birther date. He insists the president's birth certificate is bogus. Romney's now taken heat from Democrats and some Republicans for not disavowing the Donald's comments.

At least 16 people are now reported dead after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit northern Italy yesterday. This is the second earthquake to hit the region this month. Just nine days ago, seven people were killed in a 6.0 magnitude quake. Officials say 14,000 people now without homes.

Former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky is not expected to attend a pretrial hearing in his case later today, but the accused child molester was in a Pennsylvania judge's chambers Tuesday afternoon for a closed door hearing. Sandusky has pleaded not guilty to charges he sexually abused at least 10 boys over the course of 14 years.

The pilot of a small plane escaped from an emergency landing without injury after his propeller fell off. Investigators on the scene believe engine belts on the Cessna blew, causing serious damage to the front of the plane. The propeller landed on a roof of a home near the airport in Manteca, California. Other debris ended up in the pool. There were no injuries.

Many have wanted to hurt Chef Gordon Ramsay. But only one guy got the chance. Ramsay was taken down during a soccer match on Sunday, carted off the field on a stretcher. Also hurt during the game, funny man Will Ferrell. The two were joined by fellow celebs Gerard Butler, Woody Harrelson, Mike Myers, and Edward Norton.

At the end of the day, the charity event raised over $6 million for UNICEF, so the injuries, I guess, were worth it.

SAMBOLIN: They were worth it.

BANFIELD: That's about $1 million an injury by my count. It's unreal. Good pictures, though.

Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: It's 18 minutes past the hour. We're getting an early read on your local news that is making national headlines.

And moms making a mad dash to libraries in Brevard County, Florida? Why? The county lifts its ban on the book "50 Shades of Grey."

BANFIELD: Have you read it?

SAMBOLIN: I just started it. Have you?

BANFIELD: I read the first, I'm on the second.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, wow. This has a cult following.

BANFIELD: You have to know, right?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it has a cult following.

Florida today says the petition from thousands of eager readers and a stand against censorship pushed librarians to return their 19 copies of the steamy, semi-pornographic novel to shelves after pulling the book earlier this month.

BANFIELD: I don't know. I mean, I used to read some Ken Follett books back in the day as well that I thought were pretty steamy, too. I didn't -- maybe it's just me. It didn't live up to all that billing.

SAMBOLIN: Are you kidding me? I think it does.

BANFIELD: It's steamy. Don't get me wrong. There's some serious smut in there. Nothing like I haven't seen in other books before that haven't been there.

SAMBOLIN: Maybe the hype. You were expecting a heck of a lot more.

BANFIELD: And also the sales, just the sheer number of people buying this thing.

SAMBOLIN: We're reading because we have in the know for you.

BANFIELD: And I never read fiction. This is like the first fictional book I've read in a long type.

SAMBOLIN: I don't think it's fiction.

BANFIELD: There's a headline.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: So we've got this one for you too. Brand new study. This is really odd. It claims that patients who need a lung transplant are better off getting a smoker's lung.

SAMBOLIN: Oh.

BANFIELD: Than no lung at all. Kind of stands to reason. But the "Toronto Star" has the details on this one.

The researchers are admitting that patients who receive the lung of a smoker are likely not to live as long as a patient who gets a nonsmoker's lung. But the study goes on to say that a person who does get a lung from a smoker has a 21 percent lower chance of dying than a person who just sits on the waiting list and doesn't get a healthy or non-healthy lung.

It's kind of a sad thing. You think you go through the lung transplant and get a bum lung. But you know what? You've got at least a few more years anyway.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, surprising there.

All right. The Toyota Prius is now the third best selling car in the entire world. "Bloomberg" says Prius sales have more than doubled as it introduced more vehicles to its line, like the Prius hatchback, the wagon, and the subcompact. The Prius was the first hybrid car released back in 1997. It was the top-selling green car, trailing the number one Toyota corolla and the number two, which is the Ford Focus.

BANFIELD: I'd say it's Leo DiCaprio.

For expanded look at all of our top stories, just head to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart.

SAMBOLIN: A first for Facebook this morning, but it's not something to brag about. Christine Romans with the new low, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: It's 24 minutes past the hour. That would be 5:00 on the East Coast. Wake up.

We're minding your business this morning.

U.S. markets kicking off the week with a pretty nice rally actually following the holiday. The Dow, the NASDAQ, and the S&P all gaining more than 1 percent. Like those arrows.

So, here's the deal. Europe's debt crisis back in focus for a change. It was actually the lack of negative headlines from Europe that helped push those stocks upward.

SAMBOLIN: Boy, we're happy about that.

Facebook was another story, though. Christine Romans is here.

New lows.

ROMANS: Lost another 10 percent yesterday, Facebook shares. The stock, ladies, is down more than a quarter of value since the IPO, closing below $30 yesterday for the first time.

BANFIELD: Eek.

ROMANS: This morning, Facebook shares are down in premarket. You know, options trading began on this and there's a lot of big negative bets in the options market about the direction, the bearishness from investors. There are also new lows because the speculation of company is preparing to buy a Norwegian mobile browser developer called Opera software. Facebook needs help in mobile operations, but investors questioning whether this particular deal would be the right fit.

Other Facebook news, the co-founder Eduardo Saverin, speaking with the Brazilian newspaper, "Veja". He's addressing speculation that he moved to Singapore to avoid paying taxes on his Facebook holdings, quote, "The decision was strictly based on my interest of living and working in Singapore. I'm obligated and I will pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to the American government." He also said he's already paid and will continue to pay his taxes here.

He had nice things to say about Mark Zuckerberg. He said, he's a visionary.

BANFIELD: Really?

ROMANS: He only had nice things to say about Mark Zuckerberg, yes.

BANFIELD: Wow. Is that the first time he said something positive?

ROMANS: He's really not had anything to do with Facebook for a long time, you know? He's been living in Singapore since at least 2009, doing business there. So, it's really interesting piece. I'll tweet that out for you.

BANFIELD: For anyone who's seen "The Social Network," you can see the devolution of that relationship because they were very close at one point.

ROMANS: Apparently, he never threw a laptop at Mark Zuckerberg.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: It's a movie, everyone.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Christine.

Ruffles, Doritos, and Cheetos, snack foods for us, but apparently targets for Mexican drug cartels. We're trying to figure this one out. But we're getting a live for you, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD (voice-over): Talk about a snack attack. Mexican drug cartels torching trucks and warehouses of a distributor of chips made by a subsidiary of PepsiCo. The crime is sparking fears that violence may actually slow Mexico's economic expansion.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Mold kills the mayor. The widow of a local politician in Florida claims that her husband died after helping a constituent with a complaint about a problem ditch. A doctor says mold in that ditch caused the death of the 80-year-old mayor.

BANFIELD: And is Michelle Obama the next Hillary Clinton? The first lady talking about her political future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): We're very happy to have you this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

We start here with Mexican drug cartels who apparently targeting big business now. Over the weekend, arsonist torched five warehouses and delivery trucks belonging to Sabritas. The PepsiCo subsidiary distributes snack foods such as Doritos, Cheetos, and Raffles, brand potato chips in Mexico. The attack has business community on high alert on both sides of the border.

Rafael Romo joins us live from the CNN center in Atlanta. Rafael, have some people died in this as well?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: No. Fortunately, Zoraida, there were no deaths or injuries, but what is happening in Mexico is that this kind of attack has the business community on alert. We have seen these kinds of attacks before, I guess.

Small businesses in very local communities, but it's the first time we see an attack against a major transnational company, in this case, an American company owned by PepsiCo. We don't really know if the attackers knew that Sabritas is a subsidiary of PepsiCo, but in any case, there's a lot of concern in the Mexican business community.

Now, president -- Mexican president, Felipe Calderon, reacted to this saying that it is part of his concerns, and that's the reason why he has launched an offensive against organized crime in Mexico. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FELIPE CALDERON, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Organized crime is a threat to our growth and development and an obstacle for prosperity because it attacks corporations and businesses, big and small. It weakens the pressing need of generating jobs and prosperity for our people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMO: Now, President Calderon has dispatched federal police to guard ten distribution centers in the southern states of Michoacan and Guanajuato, Zoraida. Five of these distribution centers were attacked over the weekend.

SAMBOLIN: Rafael, when we talk about the drug cartels -- and I know we talked to you about this last time. Typically, we're talking about folks being decapitated, mass killings. Do we know why they're targeting these particular areas? Any motive behind these attacks?

ROMO: Officially -- what Mexican authorities are saying is that this is another extortion attempt, this time, just happens to be a major international company. But local media are reporting that there's a possibility that delivery trucks similar to the ones that Sabrita uses to distribute their snacks may have been used by Mexican security forces to transport personnel and weapons.

So not confirmed officially, but that's one of the versions that Mexican media is dealing with this morning, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Certainly very scary when you're talking about U.S. owned companies. Rafael Romo live for us at the CNN center in Atlanta. Thank you for that report.

ROMO: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Thirty-four minutes now past 5:00. He escaped house arrest in China and landed here in the United States. Now, human rights activist, Chen Guangcheng, is opening up about his final days in China and what happened to him and his family.

He's written an op-ed piece for "The New York Times" website, accusing China of failing to uphold its own laws and insisting that its abusive treatment of dissidents threatens its political stability.

He writes to this ordeal, quote, "After the local police discovered my escape from my village in April, a furious pack of thugs, not one in uniform, bearing no search or arrest warrants and refusing to identify themselves, scaled the wall of my brother Guangfu's (ph) farmhouse in the dead of night, smashed through the doors, and brutally assaulted my brother."

"After detaining him, the gang returned twice more, severely beating my sister-in-law and nephew with pickaxe handles." Just last week, Chen spoke exclusively with CNNs Anderson Cooper, but at that time, he wasn't emotionally ready to speak about the horrors that he'd endured in such detail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: In 2006 you were arrested essentially on trumped up charges and you were in prison for four years. What was that like?

CHEN GUANGCHENG, CHINESE ACTIVIST (through translator): Can we not talk about this right now? I really don't want to recall. It's hard for me to describe what it was like during the time, but let's just say my suffering was beyond imagination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Chen says he's very concerned for the safety of his nephew because his nephew stabbed several of his attackers with a kitchen knife before he was detained, but then, he was charged with attempted homicide.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-five minutes past the hour.

The widow of a Florida mayor says her husband died from black mold that he was exposed to after helping a resident. Bob Thompson (ph) was the mayor of Calloway. That's right near Panama City. He died Saturday at the age of 80. His wife, Reeda Thompson, says he got sick last week after investigating a resident complaint about a ditch.

Thompson says her husband found mold and mildew in that ditch. She said doctors determined black mold is what killed him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REEDA THOMPSON, WIFE: He said, your husband has got mold all over his lungs, and it's shutting his body down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Well, Thompson had only been in office for 33 days.

BANFIELD: So, is she the fall gal? Ann Torres (ph) has resigned as communications director for Newark mayor, Corey Booker. There are reports that she was forced out because of controversial statements that were made by Booker on NBC's "Meet the Press" earlier this month. The Democratic mayor is an Obama surrogate and said that he was nauseated by the president's attack ads about Mitt Romney, but also, about Republican ads as well.

But the Republicans had a field day with that, and Booker, some said, might have been forced to back off those remarks and get back in the good graces of fellow Democrats.

SAMBOLIN: Don't expect Michelle Obama to run for political office when it's time for her husband to leave the White House. The first lady telling the ladies of "The View" she has zero interest in following in the footsteps of the last Democratic first lady, Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: There are so many ways to serve, and being president is one of the hardest ways, and that's one of the reason why I tell Barack, I'm a little smarter than him. I picked the easier job.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: No, I'm just kidding. But, no, I have no interest in politics, never have, never will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Michelle Obama is interested in another type of public service. The first lady says, as long as she has a platform, she will be a voice for America's military families.

BANFIELD: Athletes are known for being pretty particular. So just imagine a pole vaulter's nightmare when Delta Airlines lost her equipment. Her name is Kati Davis (ph), and she checked her poles at the airport on her way to compete in Colorado only to arrive, no poles in baggage.

So, after four days of back and forth with the company, Kati's poles finally arrived just hours before she was set to compete. Good news, right? Wait for it. Her coaches got stuck in traffic on the way to pick up the poles. So, she was forced to compete without her coaches and also with a borrowed pole that was too short.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATI DAVIS, POLE VAULTER: I needed a coach, and I needed my poles. So, it was frustrating for sure.

J.T. STATLER, DAVIS' COACH: I mean, when you have someone who, you know, works hard and does well and you just think that kid deserves it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: So, she was unable to claim her third all-American title, but if there's any silver lining to this, she did get $200 from delta.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: $200, title, $200 -- I don't know.

BANFIELD: Poor Katy. Well, you know what, Kati, you're a hero in our books this morning for going ahead and competing anyway, for being a good sport.

SAMBOLIN: That is true.

BANFIELD: She could have said a whole lot of other things on TV but didn't.

SAMBOLIN: Good point. Good point. Still ahead, he's a convicted felon, but could Barry Bonds' baseball team could home run king end up back on the payroll of his old team, the San Francisco Giants? We're going to delve into that. You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: It is 42 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date now. Here is Christine Romans.

ROMANS: Good morning again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): Mitt Romney over the top. He now has more than enough delegates to be the Republican nominee after winning the Texas primary last night, but no one's talking about that because Donald Trump stole his thunder.

The Donald appearing with Romney at a Las Vegas fundraiser yesterday, and Donald Trump decided to revive the birther debate again, insisting the president's birth certificate is bogus. That triggered a memorable exchange between Trump and CNN's Wolf Blitzer. You'll hear that interview when we're joined live by Wolf Blitzer, himself, at 6:30 eastern.

Canadian authorities confirming that metal debris falling from the sky in suburban Toronto did, indeed, come from an Air Canada's Boeing 777. Officials said the chunks of metal were part of the plane's engine. It happened just after takeoff when an engine on the Air Canada flight shut down. The pilot made an emergency landing back at Toronto's airport. The music world this morning mourning the death of bluegrass music legend, Doc Watson. The blind guitarist was known for his flat picking and finger picking style. Watson died of complications from colon surgery at a hospital in North Carolina at the age of 89.

The former communications director for British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has been taken into custody by Scottish police. Seven officers showing up at Andy Coulson's home this morning. He's being investigated for allegedly committing perjury at a trial in 2010. Coulson's already free on bail in the phone hacking scandal that's unfolding right now in the UK.

A new meaning to the term drive-thru when 23-year-old Michael Smith (ph) realized his Taco Bell drive-thru order wasn't complete. He hit the gas and rammed his car through the window of the restaurant in Ohio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Running into the building over a taco, yes, pretty surprised.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no, call you not idiot or tell you, it's not rocket science. It's never running through a window, that's for sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: You know, they got him his missing taco, too. Police were able to find Smith at his home by following the trail of motor fluid dripping from his damaged car after he left the scene Tuesday. Smith was charged with felony vandalism.

Baseball's home run king, Barry Bonds, insert asterisk here. He wants to get back in the game, even though he's a convicted felon now. Bonds says he's talked to the San Francisco Giants about working with the team in some capacity once his legal troubles are all behind him.

The former Giants slugger is appealing his conviction last year for misleading a grand jury investigating steroid use in sports.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: What do you think the Giants have to say about that?

ROMANS (on-camera): All I say is Barry Bonds asterisk, period.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: OK. There you go, Christine.

It's 45 minutes now past the hour. There are a lot of places in the northeast mopping up this morning after the storms last night, and probably, a lot of people who didn't get a lot of sleep because their kids were crying because of the thunder and the lightning.

SAMBOLIN: Bad weather.

BANFIELD: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: Rob Marciano is with us in the weather center.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: When you say a lot of people, are you --

BANFIELD: I am complaining.

MARCIANO: Projecting.

BANFIELD: I am officially complaining about two little children, ages five and six, who don't like thunder.

MARCIANO: I'll have a little talk with them and get them storm ready and storm tough.

They weren't the only ones, I'm telling you that. From the Canadian border all the way across the Allegheny through the Ohio River Valley, rough, rough night. A lot of heavy rain. Here's some video out of New Hampshire. Various spots across the white mountains there and some of the valley locations certainly seeing some flash flooding and taking a lot of dirt and debris down with it.

With all this rainfall came in a very short amount of time into some rugged terrain, and this is the result. How much rain in about two-hour period? If that keen (ph), seeing almost five inches. Walpole (ph) seeing almost four inches. Stoddard seeing 3.71 inches.

So, this doesn't include what happened in upstate New York where they had, in some cases, baseball sized hail, damaging winds. And now, we'll talk about Beryl which, by the way, is almost back to tropical storm strength. Here are some of the tallies. Out of Florida, Wellborn seeing 15 inches, over a foot in midway.

For the most part, not a lot of devastating flooding. We've been talking about this. They need the rain badly, so they'll take it, and they got some last night in Georgia. Back side of the system seeing some showers move down through Macon, but here's the center of Beryl, which is just to the northeast by about 50 miles of Charleston, and now, starting to pick up steam.

It's going to pretty much rake the coastline and head into the outer banks. It will probably become a tropical storm again, but by that time, it's not going to be that much of an issue, but two to four inches of rainfall expected here, really through the afternoon and evening hours. And then, after that, once the storm begins to really pick up steam, here's the forecast track.

We look for it to head out to sea fairly rapidly. So, if it's a tropical storm then, really, it's fun. Who cares at this point?

SAMBOLIN: Who cares? Yes.

MARCIANO: Yes. And, severe threat across the midsection of the country and through tornado alley. That's where the rough area is going to be.

BANFIELD: Severe threat? Really?

MARCIANO: Yes. Moderate. There you go. the big red ball there, right in the heart of tornado alley. Oklahoma will likely see some thunderstorms that could likely drop some tornadoes.

SAMBOLIN: All right. We'll be watching for that.

MARCIANO: Ashleigh, don't let your kids go out that way.

BANFIELD: I thought it was a very good idea, I'm telling you. Ear plugs for them and me.

SAMBOLIN: I didn't even hear a thing. You know, I got up this morning and said, oh, it must have rained last night.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: There's like thunder and lightning and monsters falling from the sky.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. That's why you have one of those air cleaners, a lot of noise, white noise, I don't hear a thing when I go to sleep. Yes. It works.

BANFIELD: P.S., my kids are really little. So, they still run and saying, mommy, I need a snuggle.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Mine can't open the door. It's locked.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Forty-seven minutes -- 48 minutes past the hour.

BANFIELD: Yours or theirs?

SAMBOLIN: Mine.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Exactly. Yes, I lock it from the outside every night. I don't think so.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: All right. Forty-eight minutes past the hour. We've seen plenty of people jump out of airplanes, right?

BANFIELD: I still like that idea.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: I'm thinking about it.

SAMBOLIN: So listen, folks, coming up, you're going to hear from a man who says he plans to skydive from the edge of space.

BANFIELD: This is so cool. Man, is that cool? Check it out. I cannot wait for this to happen.

And also, if you're leaving the house right now, you can still watch us. You can check us out any time on your desktop. You can also do so on your mobile, which is very cool if you're commuting, as long as you're not the driver. Go to CNN.com/TV for all the information you need. It's right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: It is time to take a look at what is trending on the web. His blood could boil from that high. Later this summer, Austrian daredevil, Felix Baumgartner, will attempt the longest and highest freefall ever from about 120,000 feet above sea level.

From the edge of space, more than 22 miles up, if he pulls it off. If. He'll also break the speed of sound at more than 690 miles an hour. No one has ever done that outside a plane or a spacecraft.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you afraid of dying on this?

FELIX BAUMGARTNER, AUSTRIAN SKYDIVER: Well, dying has always been part of my life because, as a base jumper, you always face death on every base jump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness.

BANFIELD: Watch this. This is great.

SAMBOLIN: This is incredible. Baumgartner has base jumped from right there, the Christ the Redeemer statue that is in Rio, and also, from the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the tallest buildings in the world.

BANFIELD: I have been following Felix's career. I cannot wait for this jump, and I wish him the best.

SAMBOLIN: I'm worried.

BANFIELD: I know. I really wish him the best. This is so dangerous, but he seems very confident.

SAMBOLIN: Well, confident that he'll like to take risks, right?

BANFIELD: Well, remember growing up with Evel Knievel? We all thought that that was a really big deal, too, and those were pretty risky endeavors as well, but this is great. I mean, I just love seeing --

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness. BANFIELD: He's like a frontiersman.

So, adding fuel to the fire of one of the biggest rivalries in sports, Michigan recruit, Logan Tuley-Tillman, not offering any apologies this morning after he tweeted a photo of himself -- you see what that is? He is burning his recruitment letter from Ohio State University, even in the faith of a barrage of death threats from Buckeyes fans. The picture came with #goblue and #beatohio. That ain't big. That ain't classy.

SAMBOLIN: No.

BANFIELD: That's all I'm saying.

SAMBOLIN: Poor taste. Poor taste.

A bear takes a dip in a pool with a view.

BANFIELD: I love that.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Two sisters were sitting in their kitchen in an L.A. suburb enjoying Memorial Day weekend. Look at this. When they spotted a bear taking a leisurely swim in the family pool --

BANFIELD: I would have done it.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: So long holiday weekends aren't just for humans to enjoy, I guess. They said they called their parents but did not call 911.

BANFIELD: He's doing the bear paddle.

SAMBOLIN: I think they were just enjoying that, right? How often does that happen? Let me go get my video camera. It is not clear how long that bear stuck around.

BANFIELD: Can I tell you? That pool needs cleaning.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes.

BANFIELD: I told you I had a bear at my house once, the number of flies that bear had on him and the number of flies that he left behind, as well as a few other, you know, special gifts the bear left behind. They're not particularly clean, those bears in the wild.

Stephen Colbert making history during his two-week hiatus and he returned last night, talks about being the first male member of "Maxim's" hot 100 club. Have a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, COLBERT REPORT": This is historic, folks. I am the Rosa Parks of men that "Maxim" readers want to see back up that bus.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Beep, beep, beep, beep. Now, according to the good people at "Maxim," I am hotter than Christina Hendricks, Nicki Minaj, Sofia Vergara and the other 3.3 billion women in the world.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: All right. Fellas, if you're home right now watching, look at your girlfriend. She's uglier than me.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: OK? Don't feel bad, ladies, because this is proof that you do not need to be a busty supermodel to be hot. You can still be sexy with a B cup.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: "Maxim" has proven that no reward is beyond my reach. That's why I expect to also win the Westminster dog show and motor trend car of the year.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

COLBERT: I won't tell you where, but I do have a cup holder.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: OK. That was good.

BANFIELD: He's my favorite. I think it's the raised eyebrow that gives him all that sexy, you know?

SAMBOLIN: Fantastic.

All right. Donald Trump tangles with our own Wolf Blitzer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE OF DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESS TYCOON: There are many people that don't agree with that birth certificate. They don't think it's authentic, Wolf.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAMBOLIN: You know, we show you everything in case you missed it. Renewed birther talk taking away from Mitt Romney's big night. You'll hear much more coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Donald Trump versus Wolf Blitzer. Their war of words live on TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Donald, Donald, you're beginning to sound a little ridiculous. I have to tell you.

TRUMP: No, I think you are, Wolf. Let me tell you something. I think you sound ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Plus, the White House apologizing after President Obama accidentally insults the people of Poland.

And a pilot pulls up a miracle after the plane's propeller ends up on the roof of a house.