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Romney Attacks Us "On Our Turf"; Iran Improving Missile Capabilities; New Evidence In Trayvon Martin Case; Actress Hurt On "The Good Wife" Set; Penn State Review to be Released Today; Romney Booed at NAACP Event; Rep. Jesse Jackson Treated For Mood Disorder

Aired July 12, 2012 - 06:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Tough crowd. Getting booed yesterday at the NCAAP Conference. Today, we're hearing Mitt Romney's defiant and surprising response that bit.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: It is actually pretty surprising. Who knew what and when did they know it? We're just hours away from a major report looking into the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

BANFIELD: And the one that thankfully got away. Look at that, a fishtail turns into an expletive filled shark encounter in a split second. And when you see the video again you will understand why so many expletives.

Good morning, everybody. It is nice to have you with us. Welcome to EARLY START. I am Ashleigh Banfield.

VELSHI: As good as the video is, the sound is better. I'm Ali Velshi sitting in for Zoraida Sambolin. It is 6 a.m. in the east. Let's get you started.

Up first, biting words from Mitt Romney after a rough reception at the NAACP Convention yesterday. The presumptive GOP nominee says you don't like his positions, go vote for someone else.

Now this was a difficult sell from the start. Romney was trying to convince African-Americans that they would be better served with him in the White House.

But Romney hit a wall when he referred to the president's health care reforms. Listen.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am going to eliminate every non-essential expensive program I can find. That includes Obamacare and I'm going to work to reform and save --


VELSHI: That was painful. Romney getting beat up by the NAACP for that comment. Listen to Akosua Tyus, the president of the Washington D.C branch of the NAACP explaining that chorus of boos.


AKOSUA TYUS, NAACP: He literally came to our house and attacked the issues that are important to us on our turf.


VELSHI: CNN political reporter, Shannon Travis following this from Washington this morning. Shannon, Romney is not backing down from what he did yesterday and those boos. Any long-term damage or may this have gained him some support?

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Ali, he went into the lion's den and stood his ground there. He did the same thing at a fundraiser last night in Montana referencing the boos that he got.

So in terms -- if there is any long-term damage, apparently the Romney campaign is calculating that this plays well potentially with independents and certainly with conservatives.

But let me read you what Romney told some of his supporters at this fundraiser last night again referencing the boos that he received yesterday at NAACP.

Quote, "When I mentioned I am going to get rid of Obamacare, they weren't happy. That's OK. I want people to know what I stand for and if I don't stand for what they want, go vote for someone else."

Romney goes on, "But I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government, tell them to go vote for the other guy, more free stuff, but don't forget nothing is really free. It has to be paid for by people in the private sector."

So again, this whole notion of any long-term damage, he is playing this up with his supporters knowing probably full well that African-American support for him, he is never going to win their vote.

But it is pretty low right now. There is a recent Gallup poll that shows Obama with about 87 percent of black support versus 5 percent for Mitt Romney -- Ali.

VELSHI: It is important for people to know when Mitt Romney says stuff isn't for free to understand that neither are his proposed tax cuts.

I want to point everybody to where we have a good story about how his tax cuts will actually cost a lot of money. Separately, the guy who does get a lot of support from African- Americans isn't appearing at this conference.

TRAVIS: That's right, President Obama, would that not person you're talking about.

VELSHI: That would not guy that I am talking about. TRAVIS: President Obama was invited. The White House or the campaign, I should say, excuse me, is citing a scheduling conflict for his reason for not attending.

Vice President Biden is going. I have to tell you that some people are scratching their head saying, you know what, in this pitched election year one day after Romney showed up and spoke to somewhat hostile crowd, why isn't the president going?

Some are wondering if President Obama is taking the African- American vote for granted. Obviously, the campaign says absolutely not. But some are looking very closely at this no show from the president at the NAACP.

Last thing I want to mention with Romney, he did get booed and we have been talking about that. But there were other moments, Ali, where he was applauded and talked about charter school and school choice for parents, education reform and defending traditional marriage. There were some other moments of applause for Romney.

VELSHI: We heard some of it. It wasn't highly enthusiastic.

TRAVIS: Correct.

VELSHI: Wasn't thunderous as one surrogate described it, but it was applause. We should also point out that it does appear that President Obama while citing a scheduling conflict doesn't seem to have public events scheduled in late of it.

TRAVIS: That's why people are scratching their heads. The scheduled -- president's public schedule came out last night and there are no public events on it. I have been asking the campaign what's the actual conflict. I haven't gotten the answer yet -- Ali.

VELSHI: Stay on it, Shannon. Thanks very much. Good to see you as always. In the next half hour, we're going to talk about Romney's rocky reception at the NAACP convention.

And the fallout from it whether it actually hurts him or helps him given that that wasn't really the crowd he was going to win in anyway.

We're joined by CNN contributor, Roland Martin who is, I bet you're going to have a lot to say and I bet you're going to have a rocking tie or at least a pocket square.

BANFIELD: Or an ascot. You'll never know with Roland.

It's 6 minutes now past 6:00. I want to get you some overseas news now. This is one you just wondering what are they thinking. Iran making some serious steady improvements to its missile capabilities.

And actually may be ready, may be ready to test a long range missile that could reach the United States shores within three years. That's all according to a brand new report that's out from the Pentagon.

And that report goes onto say that the Iranians have, quote, "boosted the lethality and effectiveness of their existing weapons systems allowing them to drop explosives over a wider area and allowing them to cause more destruction."

So some serious ramping up of things after some war games showing the Pentagon just what the Iranians really have and what they can do.

VELSHI: All right, and Florida state attorney plans to release FBI reports later today that could explain whether race played a role in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

And that includes federal interviews with more than 30 people including members of the Sanford Police Department and friends of shooting suspect George Zimmerman.

We're also expecting details of e-mail exchanges between Zimmerman and fired Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee.

Actress Kristen Chenoweth has suffered some injuries on the set of the CBS drama, "The Good Wife." The 43-year-old actress was taken to New York City hospital by ambulance.

The publicist says that she was hit in the head by some scaffolding. The details about her conditions have not been released so far, but she is said to debut in a recurring role as a political reporter on that show's season's premiere.

VELSHI: I love Kristen Chenoweth and I love "The Good Wife." So this whole thing (inaudible), hope she is OK. It is not that big so I hope the scaffolding.

BANFIELD: Teeny tiny.

VELSHI: People in the southeast are on guard for storms today and possible flash flooding. Rob Marciano, my good friend, back with us on that. Good morning, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Ali. Houston is going to get it. They're getting it right now. They had heavy rain yesterday and flash flood watches have been posted.

And just in the last hour a flash flood warning for counties just north and west of Houston or slivers of the counties at least, Harris, Montgomery, and Waller County just to name a few.

Some more thunderstorms are popping up across Houston metropolitan area and some of these have rainfall rates of 2 plus inches per hour on road Texas will be pouring 2.6 inches in 65-minute period.

So heavy frog stranglers as they call them down there and also stay with this stationary front that isn't moving very much and typically for the month of July and that's where we're going to see the storms fire again.

And all the way across the upper Texas coastline, but all the way across the southeast through Atlanta and through the Carolinas as well. North of that, not too bad. Sunny, warm, not as hot as it has been and not as hot as it has been out west and places in Arizona, 110.

Death Valley, by the way, 128 yesterday. Not a record, but still very, very toasty. It is going to be a little bit cooler across the southwest today, but still toasty.

And very warm across the Pacific Northwest and thunderstorms there potentially a fire threat and in Canada and parts of Alberta yesterday, Ali, 100 degrees.


MARCIANO: You can't even seek refuge from the heat.

VELSHI: That's what I do. I go to Canada when it is that hot. It is probably her part of Canada.

BANFIELD: Tell me again where the 100 degrees was.

MARCIANO: I can't remember the town, but it was in Alberta.

VELSHI: That's what I'm saying her part of Canada.

BANFIELD: Look, he is just trying to have a whole constitutional crisis flaring up on CNN over here.

VELSHI: Listen, I really did not -- I have never heard the term frog strangler before. It is described as an unusually large rain storm greater than raining cats and dogs because it is marked by even a depth and amphibians drowning. There's that much rain. I thought you were saying something dirty frankly.

MARCIANO: Wow, that must be out of the meteorological glossary handbook.

VELSHI: It is urban dictionary.

MARCIANO: That kind of rainfall will strangle a couple prairie dogs as well. You go.

VELSHI: Excellent, Rob. Good to see you as always.

BANFIELD: Thank you, sir. By the way, if you are not near your TV right now, put down your toothbrush, your cereal spoon, whatever it is you're doing and come to your set. This is great.

I want to direct your attention specifically to what happens after the amazing video.

VELSHI: Hold on. If you have this with the volume down, crank it. BANFIELD: Crank it. It is worth it. A woman fishing of a dock in South Carolina just reeling in a fish, that's probably exciting. Get that in the video camera and then something else happens. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is all mine. It is all mine. Get it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a shark. A shark. There is a big shark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is on your pole, baby. Keep reeling. Keep reeling.


VELSHI: Keep reeling. Keep reeling. That's a sign of a real fisherman. Don't let go of the fish or the shark.

BANFIELD: You have bait in that shark belly. Let's go. Bring it in. What's great is that despite the bleeps you know exactly what they're saying.

VELSHI: You don't need much imagination to figure that out.

BANFIELD: You do not. So, of course, that was a bull shark, in case you don't know your sharks that well. A bull shark coming in and grabbing that fish and we do not know if they were able to reel in the shark and me thinks there would be better video if they had.

VELSHI: And if you thought that was a close encounter, take a look at this incredible video, a 12-foot great white shark, as Ashleigh said, it's shark week here, circling two spear fisherman off the coast of Australia.

They didn't panic or shoot. They didn't shoot at it. They didn't even swim away. They stood their ground and poked at it when it came too close then they made a dash for a boat when the shark swam off.

BANFIELD: You know, I have a friend who regularly used to swim out of the cage shooting great whites.

VELSHI: Really?

BANFIELD: Yes, and explained to me that you can actually create something called tonic immobility by turning a shark over onto its back. Now, that's great when they're immobile at that point how do you get them to that state.

VELSHI: Sharky, take a nap. Yes, I just stay away from the whole shark thing.

BANFIELD: We're just hours before some serious news is going to break. It's 12 minutes now past 6:00 on the east coast. Just around 9:00 or so there is a report on the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse trial that is set to be released to the public.

And inside a lot of revelations we're all waiting for. In the meantime a letter from the late Coach Joe Paterno has surfaced. Find out what he said and more importantly perhaps what he did not say about the scandal before his death. That's coming up.


BANFIELD: Now, 15 minutes past 6:00 on the East Coast.

And in just a few hours, we're going to know, possible know just how much Penn State University knew about the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. At 9 a.m. Eastern Time, former FBI chief Louis Freeh is going to release a report online for everyone involved, no one gets this in advance, it's supposed to describe exactly what university administrators did or did not do regarding all of those accusations that were made against Jerry Sandusky more than 10 years ago, many which borne out as true. He's now in jail likely for the rest of his life.

The report is also going to take a look at the university's culture and the relationship between its football program and the administration and how all of that also played into this terrible, terrible tragedy.

The Freeh report is coming one day after an op-ed was released from the late head coach, the football coach, Joe Paterno. I know he died back in January but he wrote it before he died and it was never released. So, now, it has been released.

And he defended the integrity of Penn State. He defended the integrity of his program and his players, saying this is not a football scandal. What he did not write in that op-ed was anything about the victims in this whole story.

Susan Candiotti is live in Philadelphia this morning.

I want to ask you about the release of that op-ed with regards to the Paterno family. Is there some concern that Louis Freeh's report is going to paint Joe Paterno in a light that they do not want him to be painted in -- specifically that he knew something and did not do anything about it?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly there is a possibility of that. We don't know what's in the report.

We can say that while he didn't mention the victims in that op- ed piece that was unpublished, he certainly did go onto say before he died that he wished he had done more.

What the Paterno family is really upset about is the Freeh investigators did not give them an advanced look at this report and they believe that was unfair because they said here was one man who was unable to defend himself because he's dead.

Now, the Paterno family probably has good reason to be concerned because of those purported e-mails that were read to CNN that we have told you about in the last few weeks. These were an exchange of purported e-mails among Penn State officials discussing the 2001 shower incident and in one of them, the athletic director says there had been a plan to notify among other things outside authorities about this, but he said after talking with Joe, referring to Paterno, he decided that he would no longer notify the outside authorities.

So, this is one thing certainly the Paterno family wants to know more about.

BANFIELD: I think there are a lot of people connected to Penn State that want to know a lot more about not only what's in the report but also what's in their e-mails that they can't remember from years gone by because just in the last week or so the Penn State University president Graham Spanier has come out saying he knew nothing about any sex abuse, nothing about allegations like this regarding Jerry Sandusky, but there's e-mail information that you reported on, that you got leaked out of this investigation that suggests something otherwise.

And I want to read this one particular e-mail that Graham Spanier had and it said this, "The only downside for us is if" -- and I should preface this, let me preface it by saying this is whether they should report Sandusky to the authorities about this incident in the shower where he was witnessed with a young boy naked in a compromising position, and the decision not to go to the authorities but instead to talk to Jerry Sandusky personally first.

This is what Graham Spanier said: "The only downside for us is the message isn't heard and acted upon, and then we then become vulnerable for not having report it. That can be assessed down the road."

This is troublesome. Do we expect that to be cleared up by this report today?

CANDIOTTI: Well, we'll soon find out whether Mr. Freeh will make mention of that. Certainly remember, Ashleigh, as you know, once he found those e-mails and also a file about Sandusky that was being maintained according to prosecutors by Jerry Sandusky -- excuse me, the vice president, Mr. Schultz, all of that information was turned over by Louis Freeh to state investigators in this case, as part of their on going criminal investigations.

We do know prosecutors have said that 2001 shower incident was never reported to outside authorities. So, we'll see how much gets into that.

BANFIELD: All right. You got some work ahead of you, certainly reading that posting at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. Susan Candiotti, live in Philadelphia for us -- thank you.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: All right. It's 20 minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to date what's going on in the news.

Christine Romans is here with the top stories -- Christine.


Vice President Joe Biden will represent the White House later today at the NAACP convention in Houston. The administration insists a scheduling conflict prevented the president himself from being there, even though his calendar appears to be open today.

Mitt Romney was roundly booed at the convention yesterday when he told the crowd he would eliminate Obamacare if he wins the presidency and it wasn't all boos for Romney. He did get applause for his comments on education as well as this. Listen.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Any policy that lifts up and honors the family is going to be good for the country and that must be our goal. As president I will promote strong families and I will defend traditional marriage.



ROMANS: Delta Airlines facing nearly a million dollars in fines for allegedly flying two jetliners without making needed repairs. The FAA says one of the plains, a Boeing 737, flew with a chipped nose cone. Officials say the other, an Airbus A-320, made nearly the 900 flights with a broken light socket in the cockpit.

Delta says once it verified the concerns, it initiated immediate and necessary actions.

A mother of four staging a remarkable recovery from a traumatic brain injury. Erin Burns doesn't even remember what happened the other day when several wood poles plowed through her car after they fell off a truck in front of her.


ROMANS: Neurosurgeons spent more than two hours pulling fragment from her skull. Her brain was pushed back nearly an inch. Look at her car.

Forty-eight hours later, she is texting and updating her friends on Facebook. Doctors say they will be fine.



ROMANS: You know what is terrifying when I see something loose or big on a truck in front of me, I mean, I saw lawn chairs one time fly off an RV on a highway.

VELSHI: The trajectory on that point.

BANFIELD: Look what's hanging off the back of the poles. That's the rearview mirror.



BANFIELD: -- through the car.

And here's the weird part. They had the red flag hanging off the end of those poles, and she somehow didn't see it and drove right into those poles literally. I mean, they didn't fall off.


BANFIELD: She drove right into that.

ROMANS: That's the detail I missed. It's extreme.

BANFIELD: A very odd development.

The police think she had a lapse in judgment for a moment and didn't see it and rear ended that.

VELSHI: That's nuts. All right. Thanks, Christine.

BANFIELD: If you are looking for a job right now, you probably already know it. It is tough out there. But guess what? There are industries that are hiring. Ali, there are?

VELSHI: Yes. We're going to talk about that when we come back.

Twenty-three minutes after the hour. You're watching EARLY START.


VELSHI: Minding your business this morning. European stocks are down. It could be a rough day in the markets here in the United States. This isn't live by the way. This is a taped segment we did last week.

BANFIELD: Yes, kind of feels like it, doesn't it?

U.S. stock features down across the board sadly, after minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting showed the Fed is still thinking about providing more stimulus for the economy but not ready to act yet.

Christine Romans is here talking about the jobs market, still dismal.

ROMANS: I am, because look, we've had a steady drum beat of bad news about jobs. So, I wanted to tell you a couple places where things are really rocking. Yesterday, we heard from Boeing that there will be huge demand for airline pilots and that people who take care of aircraft over the next decade or so. This is a good time -- next two decades actually.

Look at this -- pilots, co-pilots, flight engineers, median salary, $105,000. They're going to need more of them. They're going to need a lot more of them, frankly, in Asia than they are here. Maybe 69,000 pilots they're going to need here in the U.S., new pilots over the next 20 years.

But if you maintain aircraft and in some cases, this is a community college education, you can make six figures and you can have really good job demand. So maintaining aircraft.

Also, Career Cast later today is going to unveil its best careers in the energy industry. They have given us a sneak peek that we can tell you about. Top energy industry jobs this year, let me tell you the top one: petroleum engineer.

VELSHI: Yes, $90,000 plus right out of school.

ROMANS: It is unbelievable.

Geologists, these are people who find estimated sizes of new deposits, civil engineer, really cool there.

So, one of the other things about the energy jobs in particular that Career Cast was telling us, is they've got a bad reputation. You've got Fukushima. You've got Deepwater Horizon. You've got concerns over fracking.

You've got kids coming out of college and going into college that don't necessarily consider these kinds of careers. Highly skilled and high demand and working with natural resources in a lot of different ways.

VELSHI: And, frankly, if you are environmentalists and you would like to not see oil spill into the water, being a petroleum engineer helps. You can actually make a difference.

BANFIELD: It is applicable for any career as well after that in engineering.

ROMANS: There you go. I'm going to tweet all of these different jobs. This is where there are some action right now. I will not tell you bad job news this morning.

BANFIELD: I was just going to say -- so nice to hear that, Christine. Thank you so much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BANFIELD: Not that you're not -- it is nice to hear from you always. It's very nice to hear about good jobs. Thank you.

VELSHI: All right. It sure looked awesome from the distance with the foul up you remember at San Diego's firework show last week looked downright scary up close. More of that coming up. It's amazing video.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VELSHI: Robert Blake, you remember him, Little Rascals, Baretta -- in your face, the actor angry and combative in an interview you will only see here on CNN.

BANFIELD: And he's got some cheers but a lot of boos as well. Mitt Romney at the NAACP conference, and it prompted a defiant response this morning. Wait until you hear who he is telling to you vote for.

VELSHI: And a quick-thinking mom and a lucky break helped save a child in a run away van.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ali Velshi, Zoraida is off today.

BANFIELD: It's nice to have you with us, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

Thirty-two minutes now past 6:00 on the East Coast.

And in just a few hours, Vice President Joe Biden is set to speak at the NAACP annual conference in Houston. He is following Mitt Romney. That's a hard act to follow really because yesterday's remarks on the president's health care law got a less than enthusiastic reception for the governor.


ROMNEY: I'm going to eliminate every non-essential program I can find. That includes Obamacare and I'm going to work to reform and save --



VELSHI: Romney says he expected negative response and now some analysts are asking was his goal to court black voters or to show his mostly white conservative base that he could take his message to the heart of the opposition?

Contributor Roland Martin has been covering the event all week. He's at a few blocks from the convention in Houston.

Roland, good morning.

What's your take on that? Do you think -- do you think he was trying to win some votes in a place that he was not likely to win votes? Or was he like -- trying to play to his other audience?

ROLAND M ARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, nobody can assess whether he was trying to play to some other audience without being inside his head. That's just mere speculation.

Bottom line is, it's no shock that he would say he would repeal the Affordable Care Act. And there's no shock that NAACP members would respond the way they did because many of them understand the health disparities that exist among African-Americans in minority communities and recognize the need for health care in this country.

When you look at the poorer states, they're red states. There are going to be states where folks are going to vote for Mitt Romney. That is Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, Louisiana, and those are places where outside of West Virginia you have significant black populations. So, no surprise.

VELSHI: All right. So, Roland, listen to this. He did get applause. I want to play for the viewers something he said that did seem to resonate with the crowd when he talked about the defense of family. He talked about gay marriage.

Let's listen to this.


ROMNEY: Any policy that lifts up and honors the family is going to be good for the country and that must be our goal. As president, I will promote strong families and I will defend traditional marriage.



VELSHI: So, Roland, you heard the comments from sufficient his surrogates Tara Wall, who said that at certain times he received thunderous applause. We talked to Shannon Travis who said he didn't think it was thunderous applause.

Did you hear thunderous applause?

MARTIN: I was sitting on the front row. There was never thunderous applause and I think Tara -- I know Tara well. I think she was being facetious with that comment.

There was never thunderous applause and also when he talked about education he got more applause on those issues than he did on other issues. But, no, there was never thunderous applause at any point during that speech.

VELSHI: All right. So he goes to a fundraiser in Montana after this presentation, and Romney says the following with respect to the boos and the jeers that he got.

He said, "When I mentioned I'm going to get rid of Obamacare, they weren't happy. That's OK. I want people to know what I stand for. If I don't stand for what they want, go vote for someone else."

Here's the interesting part, Roland, he says, "But I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff for the government, tell them to vote for the other guy -- more free stuff. But don't forget, nothing is really free. It has to be paid for by people in the private sector."

Romney, Mitt Romney wants tax cuts across the board. Tax cuts also are not free.

MARTIN: Of course tax cuts are not free. Frankly, Mitt Romney, you should be ashamed of yourself with that particular comment because what you also don't want to do and what I did not hear from him yesterday.

Let's talk about the research, the R&D dollars in terms of the tax handouts that corporations get, the tax breaks that they get. Let's talk about the oil subsidies.

So, do you want to call those things free?

The fact of the matter is, the Bush tax cuts whether Mitt Romney wants to admit it or not played a critical role in increasing the deficit in this country, even extending the Bush tax cuts will increase the deficit according to the CBO.

So, for Mitt Romney to say to the NAACP that if you invite me next year and I am president, I will come back and we can work together but then we want to make this comment, oh, they want free stuff.


MARTIN: Guess what, Mitt Romney, again there are broke, poor, white people in the states that you also are trying to win and we have to deal with the reality of that they also have bad health care, not just the NAACP.

VELSHI: Here is one reality that does and may resonate with a number of African-Americans, the unemployment rate in the United States. You and I have talked about this for years. There's always historically a disparity, more blacks unemployed than whites, always have been.

But look at the difference now: 8.2 percent is the average unemployment in the country, 14.4 percent for blacks, and Republicans love to push this idea that it got worse under President Obama.

MARTIN: Of course. But the bottom line is we always know when America catches a cold, black folks catch pneumonia. So that's also why you look at the whole notion of what is happening with education, all of those particular areas and all of that has an impact when you talk about the unemployment rate.

What Mitt Romney did not do yesterday, he did not address that critical issue. Black women, one of the fastest growing groups when it comes to small businesses, he made no mention of that.

He also did not say what he is going to do when it comes to the housing crisis in this country. Fifty-three percent of black wealth wiped out. If you start a small business you are likely going to use a home equity loan.

And so, Mitt Romney said this is what I am going to do and did he offer any specifics? No, he didn't, other than target federal dollars to each student when it comes to education. And so Mitt Romney has a lot more to do on that.

But I will say this to Mitt Romney: you better get your act together to understand as a people you are also trying to get votes from, non-NAACP members in those red states have some of the worst education schools out there, have some of the worst health care out there and it will be interesting to see if he is willing to have an honest conversation in a real plan to deal with that even among his red state supporters.

VELSHI: All right. Roland, got to go. But I love the tie you're rocking, the square. Good to see you. Keeping them honest.

Roland Martin, CNN contributor and host of -- what is it, Roland, tell me the name of the show.

MARTIN: "Washington Watch" on TV One cable net.

VELSHI: Good to see you, buddy.

BANFIELD: I prefer the ascot, Roland, but that's just me.

MARTIN: I'll rock that next time I'm on early, this early in the morning.

VELSHI: The studio is gone and the cameras are of and you can still here Roland.

BANFIELD: I love, Roland. Thank you, Roland.

VELSHI: All right. A woman leaps into action when she sees a van roll away with a child inside. This is incredible. But for all of her bravery, it was a stroke of luck that made the difference. I'll show you more when we come back.


BANFIELD: Piers Morgan sitting down for an interview with Robert Blake and, boy, did it turn into a wrestling match.

You really have to see this to believe it. You probably recall that Robert Blake was acquitted back in 2005 in the murder of his wife Bonny Lee Bakley. His trial was a headline grabber and there was a whole lot of speculation he got away with murder.

He was found liable for her death, though, in civil trial and ordered to pay her family $30 million. Ad last night, the reclusive actor was particularly feisty especially when he was questioned about the events surrounding his wife's death.


ROBERT BLAKE, ACTOR: Tell me where I am lying. If you don't know I am telling you the truth, you must have a scratch in the back of your head before where I am lying. Tell me where you're lying.

PIERS MORGAN, PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT: No, I'm not saying you're lying.

BLAKE: But you say you don't know if I am telling the truth. What the hell is the difference?

MORGAN: I'm saying I've met you for what, 20 minutes?

BLAKE: I don't care about that. You put me on the stand, I'm telling the truth, and you're scratching your head.

MORGAN: Why are you being so defensive?

BLAKE: Because you just insulted me.

MORGAN: I didn't insult you.

BLAKE: Yes, you did. Nobody tells me I am eye liar.

MORGAN: I didn't call you a liar.

BLAKE: You said I might not be telling the truth. What the hell is the difference?

MORGAN: I said I'm going to ask --

BLAKE: I don't want to take this any place special. All I want -- OK, let me say it this way. My skin is a little thin.


BLAKE: Which is why I stay away from people mostly. I never allowed anybody to ask me the questions that you're asking. I allowed you to do that because I trust you. And I would have assumed that you and that guy in your ear would trust me and if you don't, then we better start talking about the "Little Rascals".


BANFIELD: OK. Well, there is that. The reference by the way at the end there was the reference to his years as a childhood star. In fact, the title of Blake's new memoir, he's s on a book tour, is "Tales of a Rascal." And just quickly, this quote from a juror in the civil case when it awarded Bakley family $30 million, said that Blake was his own worst enemy on the stand.

And there you have that. Pretty interesting stuff.

Ali, what do you make of that? Fireworks?

VELSHI: Fireworks, that's my response.

BANFIELD: And fireworks here, too.

VELSHI: Fireworks in San Diego, in your face. New close up high definition deafening video posted on YouTube. This is of the July 4th San Diego fireworks, #fail. A computer glitch caused all of the city's fireworks to go of at once.

It was supposed to be a 20-minute show and went off in just about 20 seconds. A giant mushroom cloud nearly blowing away spectators. Some running away. One saying best fireworks show ever.

BANFIELD: That's ever.


BANFIELD: A New Mexico woman has a message for all parents: don't leave your kids alone in the car even for just a second. She's got the proof. Look what happened in an Albuquerque strip mall parking lot.

Leslie Bicknell is in the white pickup truck and she's opening her door to get out when she saw a young child behind the wheel in the minivan. Listen up.


LEZLIE BICKNELL, SAVED KIDS IN RUNAWAY VAN: There was a small child in the driver's seat. And I scanned the vehicle very quickly to see that she seemed to be alone, and I literally watched her shift the gear into gear, and I knew what was going to happen.


BANFIELD: Lord! Well, the van sure, as she had guessed, started to roll backward toward the street. So, that's when Lezlie jumps out of the pickup truck to help, tries to pry the van door open, but it's locked, turns out by sheer luck, Lezlie somehow knocked her own pickup truck into neutral when she jumped out.

Her truck rolls behind the van and blocks it from barreling into all that on coming traffic. You can see on lookers running to help, as well.


BANFIELD: But just an unbelievable save, and really a stroke of amazing, two strokes of luck.

VELSHI: Really amazing.

BANFIELD: Amazing stuff.

VELSHI: All right. Forty-six minutes after the hour. Rob Marciano has got your travel forecast and the weather in Winnipeg Manitoba in honor of Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Oh, nice!

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: For both of you guys. The temperatures into the 30s, or in our case, well into the 90s in some cases, up and over 100 degrees, but let's talk south of the border. If you are traveling to Houston, we've got an issue there. Ground stop until 6:15 local time because of thunderstorms that are popping up.

And there'll be firing along and south of this front today, that's where all the juice is and that's where the thunderstorms will be heavy at times and could see rainfall rates of two plus inches an hour, and we're seeing that right now in Houston proper, flash flood warning just north of town, but a line of thunderstorms that's beginning to explode and move very, very slowly to the south and east.

So, this is going to be with us for several hours, and it will cause some flooding not only on streets but small streams as well. Traffic on the roadways not going to be a picnic either. There's your flash flood warning -- flash flood watches extended to Southwest Louisiana.

Heat out west today not nearly as bad but still toasty in places like Albuquerque. Ninety degrees in Chicago, could be worse, 88 degrees in New York City, warmer than yesterday, but also cooler than last week -- Ali.

VELSHI: Rob, thank you so much.

BANFIELD: And it's going up to 90 in Winnipeg tomorrow. And I'm headed there tomorrow.

VELSHI: There you go.

BANFIELD: FYI. Soledad O'Brien joining us now with a look at what's ahead on "Starting Point." Would you like to come to Winnipeg with me one day?

O'BRIEN: I would love to -- one day?


O'BRIEN: I thought you're asking me for tomorrow.

BANFIELD: You know what, actually, I do need someone to help me with the two kids tomorrow.

O'BRIEN: I'd be happy to --


VELSHI: You guys are both experts of that.

O'BRIEN: My pleasure. My pleasure.


O'BRIEN: This morning on "Starting Point," we're going to talk about Mitt Romney booed at the NAACP Conference what some are saying is part of his strategy. This morning, we talk to Florida's Republican lieutenant governor named is Jennifer Carol (ph). Also, the House minority whip congressman, Steny Hoyer.

And Penn State bracing for today's report into how the university handled the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. We have live coverage for you on that. Plus, an unpublished op-ed written by Joe Paterno comes to light. It was written, apparently, right before his death.

Great star of the stage and screen, Ellen Burstyn, will be our guest this morning, dropping by. We're going to talk about her new project, kind of resembled what happened with Bill and Hillary Clinton. We'll tell you about that.

And sex, drugs, and rock and roll, all the things you like first thing in the morning. Yes. Come on!


O'BRIEN: Mick Jagger's secrets revealed in a great new biography. The author is going to join us to talk about that. I didn't know that Mick Jagger he went to the London School of Economics.


VELSHI: He did not. Come on!

BANFIELD: Come on.


VELSHI: Really?

O'BRIEN: And if you're amazed by that, which clearly you are, there is much, much more. All that right at the top of the hour.

BANFIELD: I wouldn't dream of taking you off "Starting Point" to take to you Winnipeg.


BANFIELD: You got to stay here and do that show.

O'BRIEN: I'm happy to go away and help out in any way I can.

BANFIELD: Thank you.

VELSHI: Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. office is trying to explain why he's been away from Congress mow for more than a month. The answer they gave is raising more questions. We're going to tell you about that when we come back. It's 49 minutes after the hour.


BANFIELD: Welcome back to EARLY START. Illinois congressman, Jesse Jackson Jr., is being treated for what's being described as a mood disorder. It's the first official word on why he's been absent from Congress and out of sight. Jackson's office releasing a statement that says, quote, "He's responding positively," end quote, to treatment at a residential facility.

And Jackson's doctor expects him to make a full recovery. And still, the questions abound, why not more information about what is ailing the congressman? CNNs Ted Rowlands is following the developments. He's live in Chicago for us this morning.

And some of these calls are coming from Democrats and Republicans alike for him to come clean a little bit more on why such a lengthy leave from Congress.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ashleigh. And there seems to be two camps here. You've got the folks on the Hill that want more information saying that constituents deserve more information and specifics about why you're on leave, and then the other camp is, you know, let this play out.

Let the congressman heal, and in good time, we'll find out. You had Steny Hoyer, Luis Gutierrez, Dick Durbin, all in the last few days, have come out and said we need more information. Well, yesterday, we ran into Roland Burris, former U.S. senator out of Illinois. He was at Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition Annual Conference, and he is definitely on the other side.

Take a listen to him blast Democrats on the Hill and the media saying leave Jesse Jackson Jr. alone.


ROLAND BURRIS, (D) FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Sen. Durbin, Gutierrez, Steny Hoyer, all of them, they need to back off Jesse Jr. and let's just wait and see what will come forth at the proper time.

ROWLANDS: Don't people have a right to know?

BURRIS: He is a public servant, at the proper time they will know. And I'm asking you all to give him some space. The young man has evidently some problems.


ROWLANDS: The bottom line here, Ashleigh, his office did release this statement from a doctor. There was no name attributed to the doctor and no facility named here. And mood disorder is a very large, encompassing ailment. It could be one of a number of different things, so people really don't know the extent of what the congressman is going through.

And the other question to what extent he is going to need time off. How long will this last? Will he serve? Will he run for re- election in November? These are the questions that people really want answered.

BANFIELD: All right. CNNs Ted Rowlands live for us in Chicago. Thanks so much.

VELSHI: Well, today's best advice comes from Magic Johnson. Coming up, hear what bit of advice Magic Johnson gave Michael Jordan.

BANFIELD: Michael Jordan.


VELSHI: Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson are involved in our "Best Advice." We'll be right back.

BANFIELD: That's better. Much better.


BANFIELD: Hey, everybody. Fifty-six minutes now past 6:00. "Starting Point" less than a minute away. We like to wrap things up at this time with the "Best Advice."

VELSHI: Absolutely -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And it comes from basketball legend, Magic Johnson. This is what he told us.


MAGIC JOHNSON, NBA HALL OF FAMER/ENTREPRENEUR/ADVOCATE: The best advice I have ever received was to, I remember something Michael always told me. Do you think you're the best basketball player? Yes. He said, well, you have to run with the best.

And so, that meant best lawyers, best accountant, best money manager, and also the best people, because as I was going to chase Michael and going for the dreams, those people who were also chasing their goals and dreams could support mine just like I could support theirs.

And so -- and he was absolutely right. So, it's important that you get around people that are -- that feel they're the best and they're going after their goals and dreams and also rub elbows with you, because while you come up together, you can speak about the trials and tribulations that you both are going through, and that's what made me successful today. So, good luck. God bless, everybody.


ROMANS: He is quoting Michael Jordan which is sort of interesting, and I will say something about Magic Johnson. We see a lot of really interesting people who come through here, a lot of interesting people.

Magic Johnson, Bono, and Linda Carter, I will say, are the three people in the past six or seven years who've been sort of the nicest and have stayed as long as anybody wanted to take pictures and to talk to them and answer questions about best advice, and so, Magic Johnson, you really -- people really like what he has to say. BANFIELD: You know when he said you need to surround yourself with great people and good financial advisers.

VELSHI: This is it. We got it all go. We're taking his advice. We're all --


VELSHI: Play with the best, run with the best. There you go.

ROMANS: But for a guy who's saying run with the best, he will spend the time to talk to everybody, everybody. He doesn't just, you know --

BANFIELD: And the smile, too, you noticed?


BANFIELD: I've never seen him without a smile on his face.

ROMANS: Nice guy.

BANFIELD: All right. That is officially the news from "A" to "Z," although today, just really "A" to "A."

VELSHI: Short news. I'm Ali Velshi sitting in for Zoraida. One more day, tomorrow, I will be there, but now, "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien.

O'BRIEN: And welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, it went really well. Not really. Listen.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him.



O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. That was Mitt Romney facing kind of a tough crowd running against the first Black president and getting boos from the NAACP.

Plus, did they put the program ahead of the children? A former FBI director coming out with his report on Penn State and the Jerry Sandusky scandal today.

From the grave, there's new information about the effort to exhume the body of Yasser Arafat. A relative now says it was Israel that killed him.

And this is the man who determines who gets what when disaster strikes. (INAUDIBLE) to the BP oil spill, Ken Feinberg is going to join us to talk about his new book which talks about putting a price on tragedy.

We have a packed show this morning. We're going to talk to Florida's lieutenant governor, Jennifer Carol. Also, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer will be our guest. Roland Martin will be checking in with us, and the actress, Ellen Burstyn is with us.

It's Thursday, July 12th, and "Starting Point" begins right now.