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Edwards Acquitted on One Count, Mistrial on Five Others; Big May Jobs Report; Mistrial In John Edwards Case; Bloomberg Defends Soda Ban

Aired June 1, 2012 - 05:00   ET



JOHN EDWARDS, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While I do not believe I did anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: He says he is guilty of being a bad husband and that's it. Former presidential candidate John Edwards' fate still in the balance after nine bizarre days of jury deliberations.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN HOST: Coffee house hero. A man who refused to duck and cover gets credit for saving lives.

BANFIELD: And are you smarter than an eighth grader? Seriously.

The national spelling bee champ wins with the word most of us have likely never used, maybe not even ever heard of.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, the answer to that is probably no, right? These kids are really bright nowadays.

BANFIELD: Nothing surprises me anymore. Every year, when I see them, they get smarter and smarter.

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin: We're really happy to have you here this morning. We are bringing you the news from A to Z. It's 5:00 a.m. here in the East.

So, let's get started.

Up first, John Edwards likely off the legal hook for good after a jury acquitted him of one count of campaign finance fraud and was hopelessly deadlocked on five other counts. The judge declaring a mistrial on those charges. And many legal experts don't expect prosecutors to retry the former presidential candidate who was accused of misusing campaign contributions to hide an extramarital affair during the 2008 election.

Here is our Jeffrey Toobin.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I don't see any rationale for going forward with this case. John Edwards is humiliated, he is discredited. He is appropriately out of American politics. But I don't see any reason why this case should go forward.


SAMBOLIN: Jurors deliberated the case for nine days. Outside the courthouse, Edwards was happy, but contrite.


EDWARDS: While I do not believe I did anything illegal or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong. And there is no one else responsible for my sins.


SAMBOLIN: CNN's Joe Johns has been covering the trial. And he is live in Greensboro, North Carolina.

I've got to tell you, I was watching you yesterday as you're running in and out of the courthouse, bringing in all of those little nuggets of details that we're sprinkling through.

So, now what happens? A lot of people say there will not be a retrial.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: That's for sure. And it's anybody's guess, you know. The government didn't really hint at what they plan to do. It is their right to bring the case if they want to.

Just wanted to show you the Greensboro, North Carolina, news and record this morning. "Edwards Walks Free." The question, of course, what happens next for him.

You know, that statement on the steps of the courthouse here last night was really calibrated to encourage the government not to re-prosecute this case. He certainly expressed a lot of contrition there. He talked about his family, especially his daughters including Quinn, the daughter he had with Rielle Hunter, his mistress while his wife Elizabeth Edwards was alive.

So when you look at the situation, anything could happen. What's also clear, though, is that John Edwards is talking about something he's talked about before, and that would be starting some type of a law practice or something to help poor people, especially poor children.

Listen to the sound bite from last evening.


EDWARDS: I don't think God's through with me. I really believe he thinks there's still some good things I can do. And whatever happens with this legal stuff going forward, what I'm hopeful about is all those kids that I've seen, you know, in the poorest parts of this country and in some of the poorest places in the world that I can help them.


JOHNS: One thing is clear and that is that if the prosecution tries to retry this case, it's probably not going to get any easier for them than it was this time around. So many of the witnesses are just simply not available, including Elizabeth Edwards. Of course, she's deceased. Fred Baron, one of the key who contributed so much money that sort of generated this case, he's also deceased. He's a Texas trial lawyer.

Bunny Mellon, the other big contributor in this case, 101 years old, lives in northern Virginia, can't see very well, and didn't testify at trial. John Edwards himself did not testify in this trial. And neither did Rielle Hunter. So a whole list of people who didn't get on the stand this time and probably wouldn't get on the stand next time if the government were to decide to retry it -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: And one would imagine a very expensive retrial, right?

JOHNS: That's for sure.

We've been trying to figure out just how much all of this would cost. And it's very difficult to calculate, partly because you have to wonder what some of these expensive attorneys particular already for the government might be doing if they didn't have this case to do. So, it's a little hard to calculate that. But it's one of those kind of keeping them honest things you might want to look into.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, indeed. Joe Johns live for us in Greensboro, North Carolina -- thank you very much.

BANFIELD: A big victory in the courts for supporters of same- sex marriage. A federal appeals court in Boston ruling that the federal Defensive of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. Prosecutors called it discriminatory and the judges agreed because federal benefits like Social Security were being denied to gay couples in states where same sex marriage is legal. This is the first time an appellate court has declared any part of the federal DOMA laws it's known as unconstitutional.

All this in the face of a story we ran yesterday about a pastor in Seneca, Kansas, who had some pretty things to say about what he thinks the government should be doing about gay people. Have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We punish pedophilia, we punish incest, we punish polygamy, and various things. It's only homosexuality that is lifted out as an exemption in Leviticus 20:13. "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act. They shall surely be put to death."


BANFIELD: Pretty offensive comments according to many. And I made some comments yesterday that ended up getting a lot of traction out there yesterday not only on Twitter but elsewhere. And I want to be very clear about what my comments were about. I probably misspoke and mangled words, but I want to be very clear. When I said that incest and pedophilia involve people who don't have a choice, victims who don't have a choice and then said a gay relationship you do have a choice, they are not crimes.

Gay people involved in relationships are not committing any crimes at all. However, those who perpetrate incest and perpetrate pedophilia are committing crimes. I don't know my comments were taken in that light and I certainly hope they were, but in no way did I want to suggest that being gay is a choice. It is not.

And I probably used the word lifestyle choice, not what I meant to say at all. Being gay is not a choice, being in a voluntary gay relationship is a choice. It is not a crime.

So, I hope that clears up any of the comments I made after that story of the pastor. And in no way do I agree with or standby any of the comments that that pastor made either -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right, thank you, Ashleigh.

Seven minutes past the hour.

Police in Seattle say a deadly shooting rampage could have been much worse if it wasn't for a hero who took action when the gunman opened fire inside a popular coffee house.


ASST. CHIEF JIM PUGEL, CHIEF OF DETECTIVES, SEATTLE POLICE DEPT.: He was sitting next to the suspect when the suspect started shooting. And the suspect had two guns. The hero picked up a stool and threw it at the suspect, hit him. Picked up another stool as the suspect is shooting and now pointing at him and hits him with another stool.


SAMBOLIN: They say the hero saved at least three lives. Police also released witness 911 calls.


DISPATCHER: What are you reporting?

CALLER: I'm at the Roosevelt and 59th, the Cafe Racer. There's been a shooting. Somebody came in and shot a bunch of people, I'm hiding in the bathroom.

DISPATCHRE: Hold on, sir. How many people --

CALLER: We need help right away.


SAMBOLIN: Wow. A total of five people were killed in two separate shootings. The suspect identified as Ian Stawicki took his own life. Police have no motives for the shooting, other than reports from the Stawicki's family that he was mentally disturbed.

BANFIELD: The big May jobs report is set to be released in just over three hours and Wall Street's going to be watching it really closely. The analysts surveyed expect to see about 150,000 jobs added last month, with unemployment steady at 8.1 percent. Now, that would be better job creation than we saw in April, but significantly slower than the numbers that came out in January and February.

And in about 15 minutes, our Christine Romans is going to have more. And then you'll want to make sure you tune in to CNN at 8:30 because the official report will be released. We'll have it live right after we hear from Republican Jeb Hensarling, who's the vice chair of the House Financial Services Committee. That's on "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien.

SAMBOLIN: And right now, New Mexico is battling the largest wildfire in state history. Take a look at that. It is getting even larger. Nearly 200,000 acres are now destroyed. The fire is only 5 percent contained. The massive fire started in the Gila National Forest two weeks ago, but it's spread in all directions. Rugged terrain is making it difficult to put out the fire that has consumed a dozen homes so far.

BANFIELD: An update on that breaking news story that we brought you yesterday morning. A harrowing ordeal for two American tourists who were kidnapped in Egypt at gunpoint and later released. The Americans are Brandon Kurtz and Jon Szaflarski. They're both from Houston.

And they told the affiliate KPRC how they were forced from their car in the region and also held for 24 hours.


JON SZAFLARSKI, KIDNAPPED IN EGYPT: All the windows had bars on them and they nailed the doors shut and then they were outside shooting their assault rifles the whole night and all the way through the morning. They were all very loud and aggressive and speaking in Arabic. And I mean, we didn't -- had no idea. No clue what their intentions were.


BANFIELD: The Americans were eventually freed in a trade for a relative of their captors who have been arrested earlier on drug charges.

SAMBOLIN: Ten minutes past the hour.

A grand slam, that's what the founder of SpaceX is calling the first commercial mission to the International Space Station. The Space X Dragon capsule splashing down in the Pacific. It was actually two minutes ahead of schedule yesterday. Five hundred and sixty miles off the coast of Baja, California, after dropping of supplies to the International Space Station, it returned with 1,300 pounds of cargo, including trash and scientific experiments.

The company has two days to get that to NASA to have complete success.

BANFIELD: Talk about a word of the day. Are you ready? Guetapen. Ever heard of it?

Well, the winner is 14-year-old Snigdha Nandipati.



ANNOUNCER: And guess what? We have a champion of the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee.


BANFIELD: Release the ticker tape. The San Diego eighth grader who reads encyclopedias for fun called her victory a miracle. She finished 27th in last year's national spelling bee, and she says she plans to use the $30,000 in prize money, no surprise here, to save for college. Her winning word guetapens is a French word and it means ambush, snare, or trap.

And Snigdha Nandipati is going to be Soledad's guest on "STARTING POINT" at 7:30 Eastern Time. So, make sure you tune in for that.

SAMBOLIN: Sweet to watch. Very nice.

So, the impossible may now be possible. Check it out. This rat used to be paralyzed. More on this amazing treatment and what it could mean for humans -- coming up.


BANFIELD: New hope this morning for people paralyzed by spinal cord injuries. Scientists in Sweden report that they successfully used electrical stimulation of the brain to train paralyzed rats to walk again. And even run. Ten rats in all had the nerve connections to their hind legs surgically severed.

Scientists stopped short of completely severing the spinal cord, but then they began stimulating the motor area of the brain and spinal cord below the injury and within weeks, look at that. The rats began to regain use of their paralyzed legs.

Now, researchers are working on plans for human child.

SAMBOLIN: Boy, that would be remarkable if we could have the same results.

Sixteen minutes past the hour. Let's get you up-to-date. Here's Christine Romans with the day's top stories.

Good morning to you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning you, too. Thank you, Zoraida.

Legal experts are saying John Edwards will likely not face another trial. After nine days of deliberations, Edwards was acquitted on one count of campaign finance fraud. And jurors were deadlocked on five other charges leaving the judge to declare a mistrial. Edwards was accused, of course, of misusing campaign funds to hide an affair. He says he wants to devote his life to helping poor children saying, "God is not done with me yet."

Nancy Reagan endorsing Mitt Romney for president. The former first lady had the Romneys over for cookies and lemonade yesterday. They put out a statement saying her late husband "Ronnie would have like Governor Romney's business background and his strong business principles and I have to say I do too. I look forward to seeing him elected president in November."

A surprise guest on the last day of school. A 200-pound bear tracked down by animal control in Bakersfield, California, wandering outside of an elementary school.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness.

ROMANS: It also crashed a middle school graduation ceremony that was going on next door.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some girls came in running, there's a bear on -- right in front of the school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A really big bear.



ROMANS: Authorities cornered and tased the bear inside an apartment complex.

BANFIELD: Oh, my goodness.

ROMANS: It was released back into the wild later in the day.

BANFIELD: That's 250 pounds? Looks like a baby.

ROMANS: I know.

SAMBOLIN: Inside an apartment complex.

ROMANS: But they did release it into the wild. That's the happy ending to that story. But that was a confused little bear and a bunch of very --

SAMBOLIN: Excited kids, right?

ROMANS: I was going to say frightened school children, but they didn't look frightened to me.

BANFIELD: I was going to say very brave animal response officers. My Lord, I don't think I've ever seen a bear captured that way. It looks like what the dogcatcher uses.

ROMANS: Usually they tranquilize them. And most we se -- they tased him and got a restraint around his neck and got him into the car.

SAMBOLIN: It was easier on the bear. Thank you.

BANFIELD: Thank you, Christine.

Eighteen minutes past 5:00 on the East Coast.

The first of June, but that also means the first day of hurricane season. Don't get too excited.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano standing by.

How do things look?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We're off to an early start not just for the show, but for the hurricane season. Already two named storms. So, when you look at the averages and predictions, the average are 12 named storms, six of those hurricanes and three major hurricanes. And we've already knocked two out of the way. So we're off to a quick start here.

Get used to this shot. The tropical Atlantic, pretty quiet, although there's a little disturbance there southwest of Florida. This would be the spot this time of year for development. In the eastern Gulf of Mexico, where the waters are nice and toasty and we've got a little something brewing right now.

But this really isn't tropical. It's going to be rainfall across parts of south Florida today and up to the north, a little front across the eastern third of the country. That'll cause showers and storms, mostly east of Chicago, but eventually getting towards the I-95 corridor, as well. Once this front pushes through, you get in cooler, drier air towards the weekend.

But a severe threat and ahead of the system, especially from the Mid-Atlantic and the Carolinas and the Delmarva as this thing pushes of to the east continued very, very hot down across the Desert Southwest. But comfortably cool in Chicago, 62 degrees, 73 degrees with intermittent showers in New York City.

And in case what you're wondering what the names are, the next one after you Alberto and Beryl, Chris -- finally something a little bit more vanilla, easier to pronounce for me and anchors alike.

SAMBOLIN: No kidding, we were trying to figure out Beryl, Beryl, what is that?

MARCIANO: I'm glad that name's over for the next six years, at least.

BANFIELD: I always find it amazing how those computer-generated names, just pick them out of a book. That's it?

MARCIANO: It's some secret -- very top secret committee that is somewhere way above my pay grade that decides that.

BANFIELD: And they wear hoods and they're crazy.

All right. Thank you, Rob Marciano.

MARCIANO: All right.

SAMBOLIN: So, it's issue number one in the race for president, jobs. We are just hours away from a critical report on job growth in this country. Christine Romans on why it might be a bit of a downer this morning. That's coming up.


BANFIELD: Welcome back, it's 24 minutes past the hour. We're minding your business this morning.

And in just a few hours, the labor market is expected to release the big May jobs report. U.S. markets trying to rebound this morning after another day in the red yesterday. The problems: several negative reports on jobs and growth of the economy. And that really dragged the markets down.

SAMBOLIN: Christine Romans has a preview of what we can expect in the jobs report. Not great news there.

ROMANS: Well, no, for stocks, no. I've got to tell you, May was a really terrible, terrible month for the stock market. And what we want to know what it was like for the jobs market because that is so important.

The most important economic report for you because your personal economy is driven by whether or not you have a job. What we're looking for in May, according to analysts, 150,000 jobs created in the month of May and probably 8.1 percent on the unemployment rate. That is the forecast. We'll know for sure at 8:30 what happened.

But I want you to look at the trend here, guys. You can se there was concern in April. Only 115,000 jobs created, remember? That was disappointing. That showed a pretty lackluster recover recovery, especially since December, January, and February were months when we saw some better job gains.

So, there's some concerns that we're going into this other period just like last year where we're having a little bit of a slowdown in the summer and what's that going to mean for job creation and people really getting -- really getting back into the swing of things in the labor market.

I want to show you something really quickly. And this is the overall trend from the last months of the Bush administration to this entire Obama administration. And you can see, this is the recovery from that huge jobs drought. This is that terrible, terrible period of jobs, hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost every single month.

And here is where we are trying to crawl out of that hole ever so slowly. This is last month, 115,000, you want to be seeing more than 115,000.

The bottom line, you guys, for today, if we get a number, 150,000 jobs created or more, that's going to be seen as good news, that the economy, the labor market is still healing. If you get less than 150,000, I think people are going to be disappointed. They're going to say we need to see the economy and the jobs market doing better than that.

So, I think, this week, this data, ladies, is pretty critical for where we are in the recovery.

BANFIELD: OK, Christine, thanks for that.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BANFIELD: Thank you.

Mitt Romney with a big surprise on the campaign trail. Coming up, more on a secret bus trip. Not so secret now. Look where he showed up. But you know sometimes timing is everything.


SAMBOLIN: Trading economic attacks, Mitt Romney outside a bankrupt company. The Obama administration backed the Obama campaign in the state Mitt Romney once ran.

BANFIELD: And be very, very quiet. I'm hunting bobcats. Oh, yes. An incredible battle about to go down between that stealth gator and the bobcat who has his back to him. So, did the cat become dinner? We're going to show you what happens next.

SAMBOLIN: It's incredible. Incredible pictures. He simply refused to stop running. A student with cerebral palsy lifted by the cheers of his classmates on field day. We'll talk to the star of this inspiring viral video. I'm telling you, this is something you do not want to miss. Bring the kids to the TVs. This is amazing.

BANFIELD: Such a story. Look at that.

SAMBOLIN: It is fantastic. You know, it just brings a smile to your face, and makes you feel like, you know, we're always talking about bullying and what a problem it is, and these kids, you know, they are just on the right path. So, we're very excited to share that with you.

BANFIELD: There's hope.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, there is a lot of hope. A lot of hope.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BANFIELD: Nice to have you with us this morning. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's 31 minutes now past the hour, and let's get right to it.

We learned something kind of interesting about Mitt Romney this week. He keeps a heck of a secret, don't he? Witness yesterday's stealth visit to Solyndra. Reporters weren't even told where they were headed until after they got on the bus, and here's where they ended up.

Romney was using the bankrupt solar energy company as a backdrop to hammer away at the president's handling of the economy.

So, why did he keep everyone in the dark about where they were going? Our Jim Acosta asked him that very question.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Why is there so much secrecy surrounding this event? One of your advisers say it was because you were afraid that President Obama would try to shut it down.

MITT ROMNEY (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that there are people who don't want to see this event occur.


BANFIELD: Well, to be very clear, that was on public land, very interesting argument that the former governor makes. Our CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, is live in Washington, D.C. for us this morning. So, here's the deal. If you're working on a campaign, Paul, aren't you supposed to check what the competing events are?

Like, what was going on at the White House at the very moment that this stealth effort was underway?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, because the payoff was not so good, Ashleigh. You know, the cable network took Mitt Romney live. Why? Because at the White House, former president, George W. Bush, it was the unveiling of his portrait there. And that's where all the cable news network were centering their attention.

So, yes, if they waited, Ashleigh, maybe like 10 or 15 minutes, I'm sure most of the cable networks, CNN, would've definitely taken those comments live. But --

BANFIELD: Well, big oops.

STEINHAUSER: Oops, another oops.


STEINHAUSER: A big oops there. But listen, you know what I called yesterday? I called it in your face politics. And here's why. You had the president's top political adviser, David Axelrod. Where was he? He was in Boston right in front of the state. And there's Mitt Romney at Solyndra.

So, what were both sides trying to do here? Kind of discredit the other side's presidential candidate. That is basically the name of the game here. And for Romney, he went to Solyndra, why? Because remember, the green energy company received about a half billion dollars of federal money during the early parts of the Obama administration. Of course, then, it went bankrupt.

And what Mitt Romney's trying to say here is that President Barack Obama has wasted your taxpayer dollars. And again, this is all about trying to discredit the other candidate. You know, you've seen the president's campaign go after Mitt Romney now on his Massachusetts record, and you saw them over the last couple of weeks going after Mitt Romney over his record at Bain Capital, the private equity fund he co-founded.

But you know, not all Democrats agree with that attack on Bain Capital. And add former President Bill Clinton to the list. Take a listen to what he said last night on Piers Morgan.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, I don't think we ought to get in the position where we say this is bad work. This is good work. There's no question that in terms of getting up and going to the office and, you know, basically performing the essential functions of the office.

A man who's been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold.

(END VIDEO CLIP) STEINHAUSER: So, Bill Clinton there not maybe agreeing with the Obama campaign's attacks on Romney at Bain Capital at the private equity firm. But, Ashleigh, Bill Clinton did go on to say that he would think -- that he thought that President Obama, of course, would win the election by five or six points and, yes, of course, he's supporting Obama.

BANFIELD: Yes, but something tells me what he just said last night on CNN might make its way into a campaign ad, you know, for Mitt Romney possibly, anyway.

STEINHAUSER: I think you've got a point there.

BANFIELD: So, what else might make its way into a campaign ad? Oh, say the jobs numbers do out today. Christine Romans just joined us and said it's not looking like it's going to be stellar.

STEINHAUSER: Yes. And why does this matter? Here's why. You ask any American what's the most important issue to you when you go to vote in November for the White House for the presidency. The economy, the economy, the economy, jobs, jobs, jobs. So, who's doing a better job on jobs?

And who Americans think could do a better job on jobs, President Obama or Mitt Romney? Take a look at this. Brand new numbers from NBC/Marist in three very important battleground states. And you can see, in two of the three, Romney has a slight edge, dead even in Nevada. We're going to look at the unemployment number, and of course, these numbers straight through until November 6th -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Paul Steinhauser, always good to see you. Thanks for getting up this morning.


SAMBOLIN: So, this is what Ashleigh was talking about, George W. Bush back at the White House again. The former president and his wife, Laura, welcomed back by President Obama for the official unveiling of their portraits. The mood was light. The current president thanking his predecessor for his extraordinary service to the country among other things.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Your kind words of encouragement, plus you also left me a really good TV sports package.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you were wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you'll now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, what would George do? (LAUGHTER)


SAMBOLIN: So, yesterday's meeting was only the second between the two men since President Bush left office.

BANFIELD: I always love seeing those nice non-partisan moments. That's just a special moment in America, isn't it?

Sign says it all. London about to go royally crazy for the huge diamond jubilee celebrations kicking off this weekend. Queen Elizabeth is commemorating 60 years on the throne, and at 86 years old, she is the oldest monarch to rule England. And she has reigned longer than anyone else except for Queen Victoria.

People in the UK are going crazy for the queen spending over $650 million in jubilee-related memorabilia better known here as Chachky. Everything from jelly molds of Elizabeth's space to lawn noms (ph) of her lightness. I'm sure you can get them on eBay.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-six minutes past the hour.

A Florida bobcat encounters a 10-foot gator, and it is all caught on camera for you. Brian Peabody, a Tampa palms (ph), grabbed his camera when he spotted a bobcat sitting at the edge of the pond in his backyard. He was stunned by what happened next. So, we'll let him pick up the story.


BRIAN PEABODY, PHOTOGRAPHER: And all of a sudden this monster head of a gator pops out of the water, and it took my breath away. I mean, I was literally standing here breathless.


SAMBOLIN: So check out this incredible sequence of photos that Brian snapped. Look, the monster gator so stealth, sneaking up on its prey, getting within inches of the bobcat feast, but at the last second, the big cat senses the gator's presence and leaps out of harm's way to safety.

BANFIELD: I like that he looks back, too, almost as if to say, you know, I am very fast, I am a bobcat.

SAMBOLIN: I know that this is like the natural cycle of life, but I'm so glad that little bobcat got away.

BANFIELD: Watch this next shot. He looks back. Bye- bye. That's amazing, isn't it? Something to be hold.

All right. So, get ready to be inspired. Kids who are cheering as their classmate with cerebral palsy crosses the 400-meter finish line. We are going to speak live with the boy who is inspiring millions, coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START, and good morning, New York. It is 53 degrees. A little later, there are going to be some thunderstorms, but we're going up to 74 degrees. Not so bad.

So, something special happened during field day at Colonial Hills Elementary School in Worthington, Ohio. Eleven-year- old Matt Woodrum ran the 400-meter race even though, look at him there, he has cerebral palsy. It wasn't easy for him, but he got some help from his classmates who spontaneously broke into cheers encouraging Matt across the finish line.

This video of Matt and his classmates was shot by Matt's mom and has since gone viral. Take a look at this.


(CHANTING) Let's go Matt!


SAMBOLIN: Matt Woodrum, his mom, Anne Curran, and Coach John Blaine all join us this morning. They are in Columbus, Ohio. Thank you so much for being with us this morning. Anne, I'm going to begin with you. I was reading that Matt really prepared for this. You know, he took the week before the race and, you know, he kind of got ready.

You had the video camera ready, because this was an important moment for him. Were you expecting what you saw that unfolded? All of the kids encouraging him?

ANNE CURRAN, SON CHEERED ON BY CLASSMATE: No, absolutely not. I had wanted to videotape this each year, and this was actually the first year that I had a video camera to tape it. And what I thought was just him, you know, running the race which is what I wanted turned into something really amazing.

And, I was just -- it was a magical moment when his classmates joined him. And, I am so glad that this is the year that I got it on tape.

SAMBOLIN: Matt, how did you feel when all of your classmates started joining and cheering you on? I know that the physical education teacher also ran with you a bit. How did that make you feel?


SAMBOLIN: And afterwards, I understand you became a pretty popular kid?

WOODRUM: Yes. SAMBOLIN: So, what are the folks asking you? I hear that they were asking you for autographs?



SAMBOLIN: And was it tough for you, Matt, to run the race?

WOODRUM: Yes, it was.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. And, there were some people who actually joined you in the race, right? One of them is sitting right next to you, it's John Blaine. John, you know these kids really well. These are the kids that you see each and everyday. Does it surprise you what happened there?

JOHN BLAINE, PHYSICAL EDUCATION TEACHER, COLONIAL HILLS ELEMENTARY: No, not at all. The kids at Colonial Hills are just great kids. The parents are great. The teachers there are great. And I've got to admit, though, it was just thrilling to be a part of that, and Matt's holding back here. He's an inspiration. Every activity, he gets involved in it's the same experience. So, it's a blast. He's very inspirational to the whole school.

SAMBOLIN: Matt, what did you do to prepare for the race?

WOODRUM: I didn't practice that much.

SAMBOLIN: But what did you do? I hear you took it easy the week before? because you were determined to finish, weren't you?


SAMBOLIN: Well, we're really excited about this, and, John, is this the culture that you all create in that particular school? Because, oftentimes, we're talking about, you know, kids being bullied. Kids that are different being bullied.

BLAINE: I hope so. I mean, there are several things that they go through. One of the first things we talk about from kindergarten all the way up is if it's just about the sport we're doing, it's not worth doing. It has to be more than that. So, the character issues are the most important center piece of any athletic thing we ask the kids to do.

And I think that showed in the video. The other thing is they're asked to simply do their very, very best with the skills that they're taught in class. That happened. Everybody that was in that race did what they were supposed to do. They ran the race to the best of their ability and including Matt.

The difference was Matt had cerebral palsy. And the other thing is they're taught to accept any outcome that comes. You're not always going to cross the finish line first, and sometimes, you may cross last. But if you give it your best, then you ran with honor.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Well, we're really excited that you joined us this morning. And Anne, clearly you've done a really great job with that young man. So, congratulations to you, as well.

CURRAN: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: And Matt, are you running another race?




BLAINE: Lots of them.

SAMBOLIN: A young man of few words. But clearly, a huge impact. Thank you so much, Matt, John, and Anne for joining us this morning. We appreciate it. Good luck to you, Matt.

BLAINE: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: Ashleigh, back to you.

BANFIELD: Zoraida, Christine Romans and I were both over here listening to your interview, and both of us were tearing up.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes.

BANFIELD: It's such an incredible story.

SAMBOLIN: Incredible thing. And for a mom, right, to be able to witness that with her child, that's just amazing.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: That's human nature. And the parents of all those kids at that race, you're raising good kids. Honestly, that's what you want to see.

BANFIELD: So nice to see a story like that. Finally, it is 46 minutes now past the hour. Let's get you up to date and that's why Christine and I are trying to back off the tears and get back to the news.

ROMANS: I know. OK. Thanks, Ashleigh. Thanks, Zoraida. From the best in human nature to this.


ROMANS (voice-over): Former presidential candidate, John Edwards, speaking out after a jury acquits him on one count of campaign finance fraud and can't decide on the rest. The judge then declared a mistrial. Afterwards, Edwards said he didn't do anything illegal, but he said he did do an awful lot that was wrong.

A tragic new update in the case of a missing toddler. Police in Maine say the now believe Ayla Reynolds (ph) is dead. Ayla was 21 months old when her father first reported her missing back in December. Officials suspect foul play, but they don't have any suspects and they haven't found Ayla's body. They're hoping a $30,000 reward will bring some new leads.

Jury deliberations could begin today in the child abuse trial of two Philadelphia priests. Monsignor William Lynn is charged with child endangerment for allegedly allowing dangerous priest to continue in the ministry and to continue to have access to children. Reverend James Brennan also on trial for the attempted rape of a 14- year-old boy. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, defending his proposed ban on big sodas and other sugar-filled drinks. He says more than half of New York City adults are overweight or obese, and he's doing something about it. What he's not doing, he says, is taking away the right to drink what you want.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: We're not taking your right away to buy soda in a supermarket which we don't regulate. You can still buy a 32-ounce can of full sugar drinks or bottle, but in a restaurant, they can't serve more than 16 ounces in any one cup.


ROMANS: The board of health still has to approve this ban. Restaurants caught selling oversized sodas could be slapped with a $200 fine.

If you're heading out, you'll want to set your DVR for this. We've got New York City's health commissioner going head to head with the representative of Coca-Cola about the proposed policy. That's at 6:45 eastern.

One graduation, nine sets of twins.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): What?

ROMANS: That's right. Nine sets of fraternal twins are graduating this week from Chapin High School in South Carolina. The CDC says the twin birthrate is rising in the country, but this is still, I mean this is way out of the normal. All of them say 18 years of competition is enough. None of these sets of twins, you guys, plan to attend college together.

BANFIELD (voice-over): What?


SAMBOLIN: What is in the water over there? (INAUDIBLE). Seriously, that's a lot of --

ROMANS: Nine sets of twins. There you go.


BANFIELD (on-camera): I'm more amazed that not one of them wants to go to college with his sister or her brother.

ROMANS (on-camera): You don't have to be a twin to feel that way. Did I say that out loud?


BANFIELD: I went to the same college as my sister, but we're five years apart, so we just missed each other. But if I --

ROMANS: I'm just kidding.

BANFIELD: If I've had the chance, I would have loved to be in college with my sister.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): All right. Apparently, some people believe that if you had the twins, you would not be surprised by that, Ms. Romans.

ROMANS: Oh, yes.

SAMBOLIN: Somebody on our staff does.

All right. It is 49 minutes past the hour. Looking for salvation on the side of a bathtub. Take a look.


SAMBOLIN: Some tile you may think needs cleaning but whose owner say has a deeper meaning. We're going to explore this when we come back.


BANFIELD: It is 52 minutes now past the hour. Time to take a look at what's trending on the interwebs, and so much for cleanliness being next to godliness. The Texas family says they're getting strength from an image of Jesus that they found growing in the mold in their shower. That's it. That's what she's pointing to right there.

To be clear, the owner does not know whether this is mold or mildew, doesn't make a difference to many, but in this bathroom, she says the appearance of Jesus to her has meaning. I don't know if it means it will stay there or whether there will be an effort to clean it.

SAMBOLIN: I just don't see it.

BANFIELD: I don't either. I'm trying. I mean, if you really squint --

SAMBOLIN: Oh, oh, oh! I see it.

BANFIELD: if you really squint, maybe.

SAMBOLIN: If you go actually for the further away, you go the more you see it, I think, as opposed to being closer to it. There it is.

BANFIELD: I think it's the bigger issue of the mold growing all over the place, folks. Get some bleach in there. Eek.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Who saw this coming? I think, probably, everybody. The heart attack grill in Las Vegas nearly forced to close its doors after receiving a 40 demerit "C" grade on its health report. Inspectors found warm meat and a mold-like substance in the ice at the restaurant.

Famous for its nearly 10,000 calorie quadruple bypass bacon cheese burger. Two people have collapsed while eating a burger there this year. The owner who dresses in a white coat and stethoscope and goes by Dr. John (ph) nearly pushed over a local news reporter who asked about the inspection.

BANFIELD: And those are the bibs that you get to wear so that you're ready to go to the ER, and those are the waitresses dressed like nurses. I'm still stuck on the 10,000-calorie quadruple bypass burger. 10,000 calories.

OK. Ready for this? I find your lack of leniency disturbing. Video posted on YouTube of Darth Vader haggling with a traffic cop over a parking ticket in Brooklyn. It happened earlier this week. Apparently, there was a street fair. The best part is, though, Darth Vader with a very thick New York accent along with the signature Darth Vader breathing. Take a peek.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You put a ticket on my car. I had paid this to parking. I had the tag. It was on my dash board. I got a ticket on my car. The tag was sitting on the dash board.


BANFIELD: Why do I think this is a Conan O'Brien stunt? What are these buttons for? If you push them, your mother comes to pick you up. The New York City meter maid immune to the Jedi mind tricks not have any part of it. Off went Darth to join the rest of them (ph).

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness.

BANFIELD: High-larious.

SAMBOLIN: All right. His trial is over, and now, he is speaking out. former presidential candidate, John Edwards, saying he didn't do anything illegal, but he did a lot wrong. He's also talking about his daughter, Quinn, who he had with former mistress, Rielle Hunter. We have a live report coming up next.