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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Clinton Reaffirms Support For Obama; Fast And Furious Frustration; Funnel Cloud Interrupts Graduation; President To Welcome Super Bowl Champs; Heat Force Game 7 Versus Celtics; Around The World Explorer Rescued In The Pacific; Race For The Triple Crown

Aired June 8, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm very sorry about what happened yesterday.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A contrite Bill Clinton apologizing for what he says was a misunderstanding. It is a CNN exclusive, and we're taking a look at the fallout and the future for Clinton in Obama's presidential campaign.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Incredible video of a graduation these kids will never forget. A funnel cloud crashing an outdoor graduation and that's not all.

SAMBOLIN: And a would be robber gets spanked, literally, folks. And there is more to this tape that you are going to want to see. Just incredible video.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. We're really happy you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BANFIELD (on-camera): Good morning. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. We're bringing you the news from "A" to "Z." It is six o'clock on the dot in the east, and let's start with it, shall we?

Up first, Bill Clinton back on script and doing a lot of explaining after praising Mitt Romney's sterling business record and then suggesting he would be open to extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone, a position directly at odds with President Obama.

Here is Clinton in full damage control yesterday speaking with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, U.S. FORMER PRESIDENT: I'm strongly committed to his re-election and I just regret that I -- you know, my instinct, you know, you know me, I don't think I should have to say bad things about Governor Romney personally to disagree with him politically.

The fact that I was complimentary of his success as a business person doesn't mean I think he should be elected and President Obama shouldn't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: So there's that. Jake Sherman, "Politico's" congressional reporter joins us live from Washington this morning. So, Jake, a couple of apologies, a couple of clarifications, all within the spate of a week. The media is going bananas. Is it because it is a slow news cycle or is it because this stuff really matters?

JAKE SHERMAN, "POLITICO" CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Once we talked about earlier, Congress is not doing much, but it does matter. I mean, President Clinton is a beloved figure in the Democratic Party, a popular guy, approval ratings in the high 60s, which is unheard of for a politician.

And, of course, it matters. You have two things that happened, you know, the president said he wanted to extend -- President Clinton, that is, said he wanted it extend tax rates for everybody.

Keep taxes low on the rich. That's a major tenet of President Obama's presidential campaign is to raise taxes on the wealthy. He also said Mitt Romney was a good businessman.

BANFIELD: But back up, before you go on to the good businessman part, he did come out with a clarification the next day saying, I meant to say tax cuts not for the wealthy. He did put that clarification. He was very quick to do that, his office.

SHERMAN: He was. And I'm sure the campaign urged him along to do that.

BANFIELD: I wanted to ask you about that. Does anybody really get to urge Bill Clinton to do anything? Does he really take his marching orders from everyone?

SHERMAN: Well, I'm not sure he takes his marching orders from anybody, but his wife is the secretary of state. He is -- he understands the campaign game. He understands what it takes to win elections.

He's going to take advice from folks who are in control in the president's party. I think there is no question about that. But he's willing, he's willing to talk honestly and willing to talk off script, which is not something that the campaign really loves.

BANFIELD: You know, with the fiscal cliff that is looming and the serious critical issues facing this country, are we all quibbling about wording and quibbling about campaigning at a time when we really shouldn't be?

SHERMAN: Well, as you noted, a huge mess of issues come up at the end of the year. Tax rates on everybody go up. Huge cuts to the Defense Department.

Basically every temporary measure that Congress has patched up over the last couple of years expires. And we are talking about, you know, some gaffes that the president's surrogates have made.

But Congress isn't helping us -- by giving us anything serious to talk about. Congress decided to basically pack it up until the end of the year.

The House and the Senate are moving some minor measures. Not many things are going to become law. But they're not tackling these huge issues that are going to roil markets after the election.

They're only giving themselves six weeks to deal with this huge, huge plate of issues after the election.

BANFIELD: I want to see if we have that one comment that Bill Clinton made. It starts off with I'm very, very sorry. He did this in an interview with our Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

He was referring to I'm very, very sorry referring to the tax cuts issue being dealt with by the election as opposed to next year. Let's see if we have it and I'll get you to comment on the other side. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Yes, I'm very sorry about what happened yesterday. It was -- what I thought something had to be done on the fiscal cliff before the election. Apparently nothing has to be done until first of the year. I think he should just stick with his position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: I'm not sure if it was worded this way, but I think somebody actually came up with the concept to ask is this possibly a senior moment? I tend to think that Bill Clinton will never be a senior, but is it possible this was just forgetfulness?

SHERMAN: I mean, he's a sharp guy and I can't get inside of his head. We could guess. He was the president. He controlled the government for eight years.

I would assume, one would assume, an observer would assume, that he understands that these things usually come up at the end of the year. They're usually not done until the election.

I don't know if it is a senior moment. President Clinton is a sharp guy, sharp political mind, is able to explain things in a way that basically no other politician could really do.

BANFIELD: And, the sharpness, I also wonder, when he made the comments about Mitt Romney having a sterling business record and set off this firestorm.

I mean, we all went bananas. I asked you to think about this last time I spoke with you about an hour ago, what does it say about the situation?

The state of bipartisanship in this country when a politician can be differential to the other side and everybody goes bananas?

SHERMAN: Well, this wouldn't that be big of an issue if President Obama wasn't hanging his campaign on the idea that Mitt Romney was a bad business man. But it is absolutely right.

I mean, President Clinton said something that is kind of well established. Mitt Romney was a good businessman. He made hundreds of millions of dollars.

Whether you like the way he made the money is another issue and a completely separate issue. But he caused this firestorm because he said something that was true and that ran contrary to the campaign narrative.

There is no secret that bipartisanship is not at its high point now in Washington. There are very few things that get bipartisan agreement.

And the tax rates, that's why this comment on the Bush tax cuts was a big issue. Because it was positioned by Republicans immediately as being kind of one of the Democratic Party's big wigs agreeing with all Republicans across the board.

BANFIELD: Jake Sherman of "Politico," awesome to talk to you. Thanks for getting up this morning. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: It's 6 minutes past the hour. Frustration over the "Fast and Furious" gun running program boiling over on Capitol Hill as Attorney General Eric Holder takes the chair.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We believe that we have responded to the subpoena --

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: No, Mr. Attorney General you're not a good witness. A good witness answers the question asked. Let's go back again.

Have you and your attorneys produced internally the materials responsible? In other words, have you taken the time to look up our subpoena --

HOLDER: -- over 140,000 documents and produced to you about 7,600.

ISSA: So 140,000 documents, how many documents are responsive but you're withholding at this time?

HOLDER: But we produced 7,600.

ISSA: Look, I don't want to hear about the 7,600.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chairman, I would beg that --

ISSA: The lady is out of order.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAMBOLIN: That's a heated exchange there. That was House Oversight Chair Republican Darrell Issa stepping up pressure on Holder to hand over documents related to the Justice Department's operation, which allowed illegal gun buys in Arizona in hopes of tracking the weapons. Issa says one of the guns that ended up in Mexico was used to kill U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

BANFIELD: Congratulations, class of 2012, you may now run for cover. Students at a high school in New Jersey got this little surprise, a very special graduation present, a funnel cloud appearing during their graduation ceremony.

Look at the video. It is amazing that you can still see students walking around while that massive funnel looms in the background and then came the rain then came the hail.

And while the video does look scary, most of the people were able to clear out before things got really bad. Thank goodness, holy cow.

SAMBOLIN: Mental health officials evaluating a man this morning who went to Wal-Mart naked. Workers called police on Wednesday night saying there was a naked guy running up and down the aisles and yelling in coherently. Police say the man then ran from the store, swam across the river and was captured after running back and forth across the interstate.

BANFIELD: Big blue at the White House. After beating the New England Patriots, again, and parading down the Canyon of Heroes in New York, the New York Giants, the football team, to be honored by President Obama today.

White House says the president is going to highlight the Giants ongoing support to the men and women who serve in the military as well as supporting their families too. It is nice to hear that message along with the sports message.

SAMBOLIN: It's good to be king, isn't it? Lebron James putting up 45 points and pulling down 15 rebounds last night to lead the Miami Heat to a game six, win over the Boston Celtics in Beantown, 98-79. Game seven, folks, tomorrow night in South Beach for the right to face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA finals.

BANFIELD: Coming up next, I'll have another. Just one win away from horse racing history. Will he become the 12th Triple Crown winner? We're live at Belmont Park for a preview of tomorrow's big horse race. You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Hi, there. It's 12 minutes now past 6:00. Let's get you up to date with the top stories of the day. Here is Christine Romans.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, ladies. Let's start with Bill Clinton trying to get back on message and back in step with this White House this morning. Speaking exclusively to CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the former president apologizing for remarks he made about the Bush era tax cuts that seem to be at odds with President Obama.

Mr. Clinton claiming he didn't know the deadline for extending the tax breaks hits next year. Didn't know that when he suggested cuts for the wealthy should be extended before the election.

Two robbers in Quebec got the surprise of their lives when they attempted to hold up this convenience store. Not only do they get faces full of bear spray, one guy was bent over the register and spanked.

The other guy got away. To add insult to injury, police allowed the spanking, considered part of a citizen's arrest. The guy was charged with armed robbery.

A British woman on a solo around the world boat trip had to be rescued by the Japanese Coast Guard after she ran into a tropical storm in the Pacific Ocean.

Sarah Outen is said to be safe and well. Her boat not so safe or well. It was damaged after rolling over several times. Sarah had already cycled, kayaked and rode more than 11,000 miles. Mother Nature threw a little wrench in her plan.

BANFIELD: Didn't she have a big vessel going with her to make sure she was going to be OK>

ROMANS: Cycling, rowing, that's quite a -- God love her --

SAMBOLIN: Makes me feel like I haven't accomplished anything in life, right?

ROMANS: I'm so tired.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: It is 14 minutes past the hour.

He is a 3-year-old pursuing one of the sport's most coveted crowns. "I'll Have Another" trying to become just the 12th winner of horse racing's Triple Crown and the first since affirmed did it 34 years ago.

He is the odds on favorite in tomorrow's Belmont stakes, the third and most challenging leg of the Triple Crown. CNN's Richard Roth, our ace handicapper, is live at Belmont Park with a bit of a preview for us.

I love all the details that I'm reading about the horse. I had no idea that the owner paid $35,000. That is quite a return on the investment, I would say.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's how much CNN pays me every year.

Basically I've been doing my morning handicapping here and this will be a very, very good race late tomorrow afternoon here at Belmont Park. You always hear in horse racing, though, success stories. You mentioned the $35,000 price. One never knows.

And as one trainer put it, with this Belmont stakes, you never know what can happen. He'll be a favorite, "I'll Have Another" to win the Triple Crown, first since 1978.

But there are other challengers in this race. His trainer, Doug O'Neill, telling me this week he's confident, not cocky, but confident -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: The favorites don't always win, right? Who are the other contenders in this race?

ROTH: Dullahan is a major contender. There is Union Rags who was a top 2-year-old. But has had some traffic problems in his earlier races, especially in the Kentucky Derby. And now Dullahan, Union Rags, Bob Baffert trained horse, Paynter, and we have seen huge upsets that have upset potential Triple Crown winners. A horse named Serabo (ph) won 70-1 odds about 10 years ago.

So, it's a mile and a half race. Most time, horses don't run that distance. So, anything is possible in the Belmont. Even if "I'll Have Another," some say, should win this race.

SAMBOLIN: Eleven others have tried and failed in this attempt. Why is it so hard to win the Triple Crown?

ROTH: Because it is three races in five weeks. And the way horses are bred these days, and how they are groomed for these big races, they just don't have that foundation or stamina in them and then things happen. We saw the disastrous events with Barbaro several years ago with the horse broke down during the Preakness leg.

It is very difficult and horses can lose their edge over that five- week period. And many horses are rested. And they skip the second leg, the Preakness, so they're fresher for the Belmont.

SAMBOLIN: How about the weather that they're expecting tomorrow? I heard there is a possibility of rain. How you is that going to affect it?

ROTH: "I'll Have Another" did poorly in the mud at Saratoga last year and one other trainer was heard to say, joking, he was hoping, he was praying for rain. That could have a big impact, especially late afternoon weather could be a thunderstorm or two. Otherwise, it is expected to be good weather.

It's about a two-minute race or so. That's the window we're talking about unless it rains beforehand, really muddying up the track at Belmont, nicknamed the Big Sandy here on the border between Queens and Long Island.

SAMBOLIN: It sure is a beautiful horse. Are you going to be there for the race?

ROTH: We will be here for CNN. It is beautiful here in the morning. There is fog on the track. And horses going around and "I'll Have Another" was just practicing galloping about 20 minutes ago, went by me, has no idea of the millions of eyeballs that will be on him and around the world late tomorrow.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Richard Roth, thank you so much. I'll see you there tomorrow. I'm going to go over for the race. Check it out.

ROTH: Well, you may have 120,000 people to keep you company.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Yes, Roth, you stand out, dude. She'll find you.

Do you ever wonder about the names? "I'll Have Another". Why not Bob, instead of Bob's Your Uncle. They give them unique names.

SAMBOLIN: I like that name, though. I'll have another win.

BANFIELD: Why do you like that name, Zoraida?

SAMBOLIN: I don't know. Say it a few times.

BANFIELD: I'm just saying.

Eighteen minutes past 6:00. Are you wondering what the country's financial future is? Fed Chief Ben Bernanke is keeping a bit mum about the economic plans for the months leading up to the election. Christine Romans is going to explain what happened yesterday and what impact that had on the markets and your money, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: We're minding your business this morning. Concerns about the debt crisis in Europe driving markets down again this morning. Dow futures down about 25 points right now.

And yesterday, the Dow eked out some gains, but the NASDAQ closed lower and the S&P 500 down just a bit, almost flat.

BANFIELD: Let's bring in Christine Romans now, talk about Ben Bernanke, Fed chief on capitol hill yesterday. Everybody was -- what? Will he?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: More stimulus, more stimulus -- he didn't really suggest that there is going to be more fed stimulus, even though there were other indications from other, you know, central bankers earlier in the day there could be. We're still talking about that.

So, you saw the stock market fizzle a little yesterday. We're all watching the fed chairman and what he thinks about what has been a subpar recovery. He said again and again and again that the labor market is far from normal and that's something that concerns him. The Fed stands ready to do more if it needs to.

But he also talked about Congress a little bit here, about the fiscal cliff, about Congress' inaction and Congress needs to kind of get its act together here because the Fed can't do everything all alone. We had political paralysis quite frankly and that's been part of our problem.

One of the things about a weak economy that has been so interesting is mortgage rates keep going down, down, down, because the economy is a little weak, because the world is in turmoil, people have been rushing in to the safety of treasury bonds for investments, and as they rush into the treasury bonds, it drives down interest rates and it drives down mortgage rates.

I want to show you mortgage rates. Six weeks in a row now of record lows, record lows. They're giving them away, folks, 30-year fixed rate, 3.67 percent. You think my parents paid 18 percent for a mortgage and put 25 percent down in the '70s or '80s.

Fifteen-year fixed rate, 2.94 percent. It's harder to get these loans. But if you qualify, if you have a job, if you have money in the bank, if you don't have another house you're trying to sell, quite frankly this is a very, very good time and very cheap time to be buying. You got affordability, and the best we have seen in 40 years for homes.

You've got home prices in this country, the median home price in this country is back to 2002 levels. Home prices back to 2002 levels, the whole bubble erased. Thirty-five percent lower homes are than their peak in 2006.

So, if you're the person who can take advantage of that, you're in a good position. If you're the person who is saddled with that home or worried about your job, you're not in a good position.

I will tell you, home sales are up. Those home sales are coming at lower prices, people are saying, they're throwing in the towel, saying, look, I got to get a new job, I got to move, life has got to go on. So, they're taking lower prices for their houses and home prices are down but home sales are up.

BANFIELD: So, apart from taking advantage of awesome low mortgage rates, what's the one thing we need to know today?

ROMANS: The one thing you need to know is everyone should be looking at what your housing costs are now and deciding whether you should be a renter or you should be a buyer. And there are numerous calculators. You can go Bankrate.com, please go to CNNMoney.com. You can go to the government HUD Web site, the government Web site. Use these calculators to find out if you're paying too much for your housing and if this is the right time for you.

Housing is probably among your biggest expense every month. Don't make a mistake on this. Rents are going up. So this window of -- it is a good time to rent. SAMBOLIN: It's really hard to get a good rental now. I mean, my sister in Chicago is trying this. And for every one person, you got a million applications coming in. It's really tough.

ROMANS: You're right. So, it is a really competitive time out there in housing, believe it or not, decide if you should rent or buy. Try to keep your housing costs to about a third of your pay.

BANFIELD: Good luck.

ROMANS: Especially on the coast, that's very difficult.

BANFIELD: Wow, yes.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

Little good news, little bad news there.

Twenty-six minutes past the hour. Three words from a former president making big headlines this morning: I'm very sorry.

But will former President Bill Clinton's apology help his relationship with the Obama campaign? We're going to have much more, coming up.

(COMMRECIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: A CNN exclusive, all apologies -- former President Bill Clinton telling our Wolf Blitzer he is very sorry for going off message, with five months to Election Day. But did the apology do more damage to President Obama?

A second chance at a first impression. A former high school football star just cleared of rape gets his long awaited shot at the NFL.

SAMBOLIN: And a high wire stunt at a famed honeymoon spot behind the scenes with the man who will try to cross Niagara Falls on something as narrow as your finger. It is pretty scary story, fascinating look.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Nice to have you with us. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: That's an imposing shot. I can't imagine anybody doing that.

BANFIELD: I've always wondered why people go over Niagara falls in a barrel.

SAMBOLIN: I agree.

BANFIELD: Really? What are you thinking? It is pretty. You do not need to ride the falls.

SAMBOLIN: I can't even do the tour they do on the -- I can't do that.

BANFIELD: Oh, really? The maiden mist. Maid of the mist.

SAMBOLIN: Something like that.

BANFIELD: Something like that.

SAMBOLIN: I can't do it.

BANFIELD: Jim and Pam's wedding site.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thanks for joining us, everyone. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is 30 minutes past the hour here.

The Bill Clinton apology tour in full swing this morning. The former president insisting he now regrets comments he made earlier this week when he suggested he would be open to extending the Bush era tax cuts, a position directly at odds with President Obama's stance. Mr. Clinton offering up a mea culpa, speaking exclusively with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes, I'm very sorry about what happened yesterday. It was what I thought something had to be done on the fiscal cliff before the election. Apparently nothing has to be done until first of the year. So I think he should just stick with his position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: CNN's political editor Paul Steinhauser joins us live from Washington.

Paul, he's apologizing.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: But is it too little too late?

STEINHAUSER: I love that sound bite you just played. I made a little mistake, minor detail. Don't worry about it, Wolf.

SAMBOLIN: Is it a big deal? Is it?

STEINHAUSER: That was classic Bill Clinton right there. It was a big deal. It's quiet a week. This was one of the top stories.

It was another negative story for the Obama campaign they didn't need this week after the campaign cash figures and after what happened in Wisconsin. You just add this to a very bad week for the Obama campaign team.

Listen, I talked to a top adviser to the campaign. And he tells me this, you know, listen, Bill Clinton, they realize the former president cannot be scripted. But regardless of the drawback, his positives outweigh his negatives and that's why they embrace having him as a surrogate, a very top name surrogate on the campaign trail.

They see Bill Clinton as somebody who can, regardless of what he says and when he goes off-script, they see him as somebody who can reach out to working class white voters, blue class, blue collar white voters, who are very important in some key states, some key battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin.

So, yes, regardless of all the drawbacks, they still love having Bill Clinton on their team.

Romney campaign, though, you know what they say, hey, Bill Clinton, he was speaking from his heart, he was speaking the truth when he talked about extending the taxes for everybody, including the wealthy and they point back to last week. Remember the big news Bill Clinton made on Piers Morgan when he said, guess what? Mitt Romney's business record was sterling.

SAMBOLIN: What's wrong saying that, Paul? What's wrong saying that?

STEINHAUSER: That's what Bill Clinton said. Why can't I compliment somebody from the other party? In this day and age, I guess it is not a good thing anymore with the partisanship.

Take a listen to Eric Fehrnstrom, Zoraida. This is interesting. This is Eric Fehrnstrom, a top Romney adviser from yesterday with Wolf Blitzer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, ROMNEY ADVISOR: When the president came out and said that Mitt Romney's business career was sterling, I think he was speaking from the heart. At the end of the day, Bill Clinton is a good Democrat. He's endorsed the president. He's going to be with the president.

But I think his voice and the voice of other leading Democrats are significant in that they have signaled their unhappiness with the president's re-election strategy of attacking Bain Capital and risk taking and profit and free enterprise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEINHAUSER: It is amazing to me, though. This election is about Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. We're talking about somebody who hasn't been in the White House in 12 years. It truly is amazing.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, but a super popular guy, right? So, let's put up this poll. I know you love polls.

STEINHAUSER: Bring on the numbers.

SAMBOLIN: Here are the numbers. The favorable opinion of Bill Clinton, of ex-presidents, we've got the poll for you. Look who is on top. Bill Clinton, 66 percent.

So you talked earlier about the positives versus the negatives of having a Bill Clinton on your side. Are there really any negatives when you look at that? Everybody loves him.

STEINHAUSER: That is a great number.

SAMBOLIN: Well, not everybody, but 66 percent, right?

STEINHAUSER: Sixty-six percent and overwhelmingly Democrats, look at this. I have another number for you -- look at independent voters, of course, they are the ones that everybody says are so important and can sway the election, favorable/unfavorable among independents for Bill Clinton -- look at this, two-thirds of independents, 67 percent, say they have a favorable opinion of him, only one in three unfavorable.

Those are the kind of numbers you want when you have a surrogate with you, no doubt about it. You saw George Bush, 43 percent favorable, the only living ex-president under 50. That's why you're not going to see -- that's one of the reasons why you're not going to see him out there stumping for Mitt Romney.

SAMBOLIN: So, we'll still see Bill Clinton?

STEINHAUSER: Oh, he's already done a bunch of fund -- he did three fund-raisers for the president earlier this week. You're going to see plenty of Bill Clinton between now and November 6th.

SAMBOLIN: About the money as well, right?

STEINHAUSER: He can -- he's still raising.

SAMBOLIN: Raise some cash. OK. Paul Steinhauser, live in Washington for us -- thank you.

STEINHAUSER: Thanks.

BANFIELD: It's 35 minutes past 6:00.

Big story that has been brewing. The NFL has been sacked with the biggest lawsuit in sports history. More than 2,000 former NFL players have decided to join ranks and get into a federal lawsuit together. It is a suit that claims the league knew that repeated hits to the head could lead to permanent brain injuries and yet did not share that information with the players. The NFL has a response to that in a statement. The league says, quote, it "has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so. Any allegation that the NFL sought to mislead players has no merit," end quote.

And just weeks after being exonerated on rape charges, Brian Banks is making an impression on the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. The former high school football star had a tryout with the team yesterday. Afterwards, the team was so impressed, they invited him to attend the Seahawks mini camp, which is next week. Banks spent five years in prison and five more as a registered sex offender before his accuser admitted that she lied.

L.A. prosecutors said they have no plans to charge the accuser with making false accusations, saying it would be a tough case to prove.

BANFIELD: Quick update to that story too. Banks' attorney says they're going to go after the state for 100 days for every day he was in jail. Even though they say they don't want to go after the accuser, which is amazing -- truly amazing.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, no kidding. She admits it, right?

BANFIELD: She admitted it on tape, yes. That's a pretty serious crime. She also won a whole bunch of money in a settlement suing the school saying it was an unsafe environment. That's the law. You can get $100 for every day you're incarcerated but not a whole lot more than that.

SAMBOLIN: Well, I'm happy to hear that this is going to be -- hopefully a happy ending for him, right?

BANFIELD: Both fingers crossed.

Thirty-six minutes now past 6:00. We take a look at Niagara Falls and some people see the awesome beauty, the marvels of nature of the falls.

Coming up, what a daredevil sees when he looks at this. Two words for you: ultimate challenge.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: If walking across a two inch wide high wire suspended 200 feet in the air doesn't give you the creeps or the jitters, imagine doing it across Niagara Falls with all the whooshing water below you. That's what stuntman Nik Wallenda is going to do next week.

Jason Carroll has the preview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An ominous site, raging watch rumbling over Niagara Falls crest line, dropping 180 feet. Imagine walking across the falls on a high wire. Sound like a nightmare?

NIK WALLENDA, HIGH WIRE WALKER: Yesterday, I trained with 52 mile an hour winds.

CARROLL: Just the opposite for Nik Wallenda.

WALLENDA: It has been a dream of mine for a long time. I'm one of those that always tries to overachieve. I want to do -- I want to do more. I want to do bigger things. I want to do exciting things.

CARROLL: Call it exciting, call it crazy. He'll attempt to cross Niagara Falls on a steel rope two inches in diameter, no bigger than a tennis ball. The walk, more than 1,500 feet long, 200 feet above the falls.

(on camera): Clearly, you don't have a fear of heights.

WALLENDA: I don't. I respect heights. It is not a fear. It could be -- fear is debilitating, it makes it where it is almost impossible. You overreact and that will cause you to fall. CARROLL (voice-over): Wallenda had a near fall on his last high wire walk across Baltimore's inner harbor. He was able to steady himself due to years of practice.

He comes from seven generations of Flying Wallendas, a name given for their daredevil anti antics. Over the decades, their families have seen successes and tragedies. In 1978, Wallenda's great grandfather attempted a walk between two hotel towers in Puerto Rico. He slipped and fell to his death.

WALLENDA: He's definitely my inspiration behind most of what I do. I do this for him out of respect for him. So absolutely I think about him and I'll think about him as I'm crossing over the falls, for sure.

CARROLL: Wallenda, like his forbearers, has always walked without a harness. But not this time -- his sponsors are requiring he wear one for the Niagara walk.

(on camera): Why don't you want to wear the harness? You're talking to someone who doesn't walk a wire, so --

WALLENDA: I think it is more about personal goal than anything. My personal goal is to do it without a harness.

CARROLL (voice-over): Both his father and uncle support that goal.

(on camera): I think a lot of people are going to find that hard to understand. You say that because he's not used to, what, training with a harness?

TERRY TROFFER, NIK WALLENDA'S FATHER: He's never worn a harness in all of those years.

MIKE TROFFER, NIK WALLENDA'S UNCLE: It's a bit personal for me in that I'm the guy designing this thing now. So it will get over the wire.

CARROLL (voice-over): Wallenda's practice on this day without a harness goes well. He said a prayer mid-walk and said he'll be doing more of that crossing the falls.

WALLENDA: I know there is angels around me and there is a lost people in this audience and viewers watching that night that will be lifting me up in their prayers.

Thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: And he's not done yet. If he's successful doing this, he says his next venture will be, guess what?

BANFIELD: What?

CARROLL: I'm going to tell you what. He's going to try to do the Grand Canyon. He already has the permits. He's going to take a little break. Grand Canyon will be next.

BANFIELD: OK. So the issue would be harness or no harness over the Grand Canyon. That's been settled over the Niagara Falls.

CARROLL: There was a lot of back and forth going on over this, whether or not he would be able to wear the harness. He does not want to wear the harness. I told him, are you crazy? Wear the harness.

But he says he's been training so long without it. He's afraid it's going to throw off his equilibrium and that's why his uncle is stressed about designing this thing. But as you know, the sponsors wouldn't do it without the harness.

BANFIELD: And ABC has got a delay on this thing.

SAMBOLIN: I found it interesting. If he's wearing a harness, why is there a delay? He's going to be OK.

CARROLL: One would hope. You saw how nervous you got when you saw the slip there.

SAMBOLIN: I know. But there was no harness on that one.

BANFIELD: Jason Carroll, awesome. You got to go cover that story for us.

CARROLL: Well, hopefully, I'll be able to be out there. We'll see.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Thank you. Great story.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Forty-four minutes past the hour. A quick check of your travel forecast.

Rob Marciano, you daredevil?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Not to that extreme. That's for sure. Give me the harness, maybe, the net, the whole works.

Good morning again, guys. Hi, Zoraida.

We're looking at severe storms across three spots. Upstate New York, northern New England, the U.P. of Michigan and maybe northern tier of North Dakota. So, we're getting closer to summertime, aren't we?

In between, not too shabby, heading to the Gulf Coast, maybe showers there and strong system into the Four Corners and parts of the mountains.

Ninety degrees in Denver today, 86 in Chicago, some of that warm air getting into the Northeast. The first five months of the year have been extraordinarily warm. We said that the spring is the warmest in U.S. history, but January through May, New York, Philly, JFK, Chicago and D.C., all set records. So far, we're off to a fast start --

BANFIELD: All right. Thank you, Rob Marciano. Busy this morning.

Soledad O'Brien is also one of the busiest women in television. Oftentimes, here during "AC 360" and then sleeping on her couch and doing her morning show.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm every woman.

BANFIELD: You are.

O'BRIEN: It's all in me.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Good morning. "Starting Point" ahead this morning of a partisan promise to stop this cascade of intelligence leaks that some people say are coming straight from the White House. We're going to talk this morning to two of the highest ranking members of the intelligence committee.

That would be Republican congressman, Mike Rogers, and Democratic congressman, Dutch Ruppersberger. They're going to be with me live this morning.

Also, Attorney General Eric Holder, you saw him grilled over accusations that the White House may have improperly influenced the Department of Justice. We'll talk this morning to the man who put him in the hot seat, the Virginia congressman, Randy Forbes. He'll join us live, as well.

Plus, this horse, I'll have another, could be the big winner triple crown at Belmont Stakes this weekend. His owner is Paul Redham (ph). He's going to join us to talk about the nerves, the training, and some of the controversy that is surrounding well, horse racing these days.

Plus, Taco Bell is going gourmet.

BANFIELD: All right!

O'BRIEN: And the new chef behind this new upscale menu at the fast- food chain is Loretta Garcia (ph). We did a documentary on her for "Latino in America" a couple of years ago. We're going to talk with her about what she's doing at Taco Bell. That and much more starting right at seven o'clock Eastern Time right here. We'll see you then.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: It's a morning where Bill Clinton's apology is leading all of the newscasts. So, it could not be more opportune to have a political comedian in the house. W. Kamau Bell, political comedian and star of the upcoming FX series, "Totally Biased" with W. Kamau Bell" is here with his commentary on the top stories.

So, there's a cornucopia of political news out there right now that you probably have a whole bunch of fun with. Favorite story? W. KAMAU BELL, STAND-UP COMEDIAN: Favorite story? I think the Bill Clinton apology was good.

BANFIELD: The apology tour?

BELL: Yes, the apology tour. We have to admit this is only his second greatest apology of all time.

BANFIELD: Oh, you're going to go there.

BELL: I just -- I went there. So, early in the morning, he went there.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: And you know, this is breakfast television.

BELL: Sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: I will not have you derail the show.

(LAUGHTER)

BELL: Depends what the definition of derail is.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: OK. So, real quickly, let's show the viewers the apology for those who are just waking up. Here is Bill Clinton apologizing for -- it's kind of like thick, but apologizing for suggesting that we need to make a decision on the upcoming fiscal cliff before the election when, in fact, you really don't. Here we go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm very sorry about what happened yesterday. It was what I thought something had to be done on the fiscal cliff before the election. Apparently, nothing has to be done until the first of the year. So, I think he should just stick with his position and negotiate with the Republicans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Just seems like he's an honest guy, doesn't he?

BELL: Yes.

BANFIELD: Just fine with the mea culpa.

BELL: I'm a married guy, so I know what that is. That's a dude who's yelled at by his wife.

BANFIELD: Right, right.

BELL: That's what that was.

BANFIELD: -- by the rest of us too, right?

BELL: Exactly. Don't mess up 2016 for me!

(LAUGHTER)

BELL: You were supposed to give me the presidency last time and you messed that up and that Black guy is in there. Now, I got -- don't mess up 2016. You promised me the presidency.

BANFIELD: OK. Another really good development that I thought you might have some fun with was this issue of Rand Paul coming out yesterday and endorsing Mitt Romney.

BELL: Wow! That's going to make for an awkward thanksgiving at the Paul household.

(LAUGHTER)

BELL: That's not going to be a good thing. What a surprise, Rand Paul, not a cool dude.

BANFIELD: And Ron hasn't dropped out of the race yet. Dad, come on!

BELL: I'm only slightly less running for president than Ron Paul is.

(LAUGHTER)

BELL: Just slightly.

BANFIELD: To be clear, though, I mean, his reason was, look, the presumptive nominee is Mitt Romney. He's garnered enough votes to take it to the convention, but still.

BELL: Yes. How inspiring is that commitment to cause. I guess might as well do it because my dad has no chance. Happy Father's Day.

BANFIELD: Yes. Right. We have another issue, lots of accusations that the White House is leaking sensitive CIA-style information. It's becoming a political firestorm. I don't know if there's anything funny about that.

BELL: I just think Megan McCain (ph) should spend less time on Twitter and more time with her dad, because he's clearly just lonely.

(LAUGHTER)

BELL: He's just running around talking about. He (ph) probably just walked on somebody's Facebook page at the White House and got confused. It's all right.

BANFIELD: Political comedy, oftentimes, one of the first things I did -- used to be the last thing I did every night, I would watch "The Daily Show." Well, now, "The Daily Show" is on about six hours after I go to bed. So, it's the first thing I do, you know, the next day. This is something you want to do on FX?

BELL: Yes. We have the show. It's called Totally Biased. We're putting, you know, with me, W. Kamau Bell. It's produced by Chris Rock (ph). And we're going to try to see what we can add to the national discussion.

BANFIELD: Is there anything that's just the runaway funny story? I mean, now that Donald Trump is no longer in the race, I remember --

BELL: He refuses to be on my television, which I feel like get off my TV. Stop talking about is the president -- yes, he was born here. How do I know Hawaii was a state? Please, Donald, stop. Stop it.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: You know, Jon Stewart came out saying, please, Donald, get into the race again, please.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: It is just -- it just provides so much fodder.

BELL: So much, yes.

BANFIELD: For comedians.

BELL: He seems like he's running. He's doing a better job than Romney is.

BANFIELD: Is this going to be a good season for comedians or is it going to be one of those, you're going to have to cherry pick like crazy and be super creative?

BELL: No, it's about to be awesome.

(LAUGHTER)

BELL: We haven't even seen the Obama/Romney debates which is going to be awesome.

BANFIELD: What could be funny about that? Two super straight-laced dudes.

BELL: No, but it's going to be like, you know, -- it's going to be -- Obama is so cool and under control and Romney right now is like a robot that's falling apart. It's going to be awesome.

(LAUGHTER)

BELL: I'm really excited about it.

BANFIELD: When does it premiere, real quick?

BELL: August 9th, 11 o'clock, on FX right after "Louie".

BANFIELD: That's going to be on DVR (ph). Have to see it the next day. Kamau Bell, nice to see you. Good luck with the show.

BELL: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Cheers. We'll get you a regular coffee cup next time. CNN. All right. Zoraida, over to you.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. What's better, the front of the line or the back? The answer in today's best advice. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: "Starting Point" about a minute away. We wrap up as always with "Best Advice." Here's Christine Romans.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And this one comes from someone who's been in the news lately, a friend of Mitt Romney's, someone who worked with him at Bain Capital. His name is Ed Conard, the former managing director of Bain Capital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED CONARD, FMR. MANAGING DIRECTOR, BAIN CAPITAL: I was ten years old, my dad told me you should always be in the back of the line when they're handing out the rewards and the front of the line when they're handing out the work. And that stuck with me for 45 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Front of the line when they're handing out the work, the back of the line when they're handing out rewards. That is interesting because it is sort of a theme in this one percent versus 99 percent.

You know, with people in the one percent, I'm assuming, Mr. Conard is, people in the one percent have been saying, look, this is all about working hard, working hard, making money, don't let the government, you know, tax you too much, work and create jobs and create.

It is interesting philosophy, I think, considering the debate that's been happening around Bain Capital, private equity and the one percent.

BANFIELD: I think that's an amazing piece of advice. I mean, truly -- I remember growing up, we all heard those stories about our parents walking five miles to school, uphill on the way there, uphill on the way back.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Did they really do that?

SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes.

BANFIELD: I feel like we're saying that. I feel like we're starting to say, yes, you interns have it so easy, so much tougher for us, right? SAMBOLIN: We're going back.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Nice to have you with us. That's EARLY START, the news from "A" to "Z" for the whole week. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.