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Romney's Tough Talk On Iran; Romney Says Jerusalem Israel's Capital; Bill Clinton Playing Key Role At Convention; India Train Fire Kills At Least 27; Police Smash Windows, Truck Takes Off; Lochte, Phelps Fall To French; Dana Vollmer Sets A World Record; Stunner In Gymnastics; Movie Theater Massacre

Aired July 30, 2012 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Sara Sidner is live right now in Jerusalem right now. Sara, if you listen to Mitt Romney right there, his language is very carefully chosen. What kind of space is he trying to create with President Obama on the issues of Iran and Israel?

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It appears he's trying to look more hawkish than President Obama. Initially, he was even stronger in his statement about Israel and Iran saying that he would support Israel if it decided to do a pre-emptive strike on Iran to keep it from having nuclear weapons.

But later on he backed away from that a bit than saying he would respect Israel's decision if it decided to use military action against Iran. As you know, President Obama and his administration have really been trying to calm the tension between Israel and Iran.

Trying to get Israel to back away from the idea of using a pre- emptive strike, but instead letting diplomatic relations as well as sanctions take their course and in so doing, the Obama administration has been sending through many people who have come through here over the past few weeks in what many are dubbing the don't bomb Iran tour.


LEON PANETTA, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I'm not going to comment on what political candidates say or don't say. But with regards to where Israel is right now, my view is that they have not made me decisions with regards to Iran. My goal frankly is to strengthen that partnership so that we can -- we can be fully prepared to deal with any contingency that may happen.


SIDNER: U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta there. He is the latest in a string of people from the Obama administration who has come to Israel and Iran has come up each time he's expected here in the next day or so -- John.

BERMAN: Sara, Mitt Romney has made clear he would not directly criticize President Obama during this foreign tour honing to the commission of keeping political criticism, you know, before the water's edge.

They are not criticizing a president overseas, but what kind of subtle messages has he been sending about what he thinks of the president's foreign policy.

SIDNER: Yes, he did keep to his promise not to criticize the president openly while overseas. As you said that is really protocol for anyone -- a presidential candidate or anyone in politics who comes overseas on the world stage if you will.

But he did have sort of an availed jab at President Obama speaking about Obama and saying that, you know, he doesn't think anyone should openly criticize Israel especially outside of the country.

Let's listen to what he said while he was here in the old city here in Jerusalem.


ROMNEY: We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel voice their criticisms. And we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in our public between our nations emboldens Israel's adversaries.


SIDNER: So you hear him say, you know, we should not criticize or seek to criticize Israel especially in a public way. He's referring to something that Obama said where he criticized Israel's building of more than 1,300 apartments in East Jerusalem, which many people consider occupied territory since Israel got that territory in the 1967 six-day war -- John.

BERMAN: It was a clear message there from Mitt Romney. You can keep it right here on CNN this afternoon. Wolf Blitzer anchors "THE SITUATION ROOM" live from Jerusalem, where you can see more of his interview with Mitt Romney plus new interviews with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ahoud Barack.

SAMBOLIN: There will be a major role for Bill Clinton at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte. An Obama campaign aide confirming the former president will deliver a key prime time speech on September 5th and will place president Obama's name into nomination.

On the final night of the convention, September 7th, Vice President Biden will make his prime time speech before President Obama accepts the nomination.

At least 27 bodies have been pulled from the wreckage after a moving train caught fire. This is Southern India. Take a look at these pictures, 26 survivors have been taken to hospitals. An electrical short circuit is being blamed for the fire, which consumed a passenger car near Nellore in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

BERMAN: Caught on tape, some crazy footage here. This is moments on the streets of Southern California.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go. He's going again. Don't do it, don't do it.


BERMAN: You saw out there. The police with guns and night sticks smashing windows of the truck before the driver takes off peeling out and nearly taking a couple of officers with him.

A witness had his cell phone and took this video apparently. The local paper says the driver was involved in a hit-and-run crash earlier and there's helicopter footage. This chase also ended in a wreck. A shot was also reportedly fired. Luckily, there were no reports of anyone hurt.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, it amazes me people hang out with cell phones when they know there are guns nearby.

All right, the first weekend of the 2012 summer games now in the books and swimming's dream team falling. The relay team led by Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte fell to the French in the 400-meter freestyle relay.

It was some measure of revenge for the French who lost to the U.S. in 2008. You remember that when Michael Phelps let out that legendary scream. The U.S. did set a record in the pool. American swimmer Dana Vollmer set a world record. She became the first woman to swim the-100 meter butterfly in under 65 seconds.

BERMAN: Fast, that's very fast. And an absolute shocker in women's gymnastics, she was supposed to be the "it" girl of 2012, all of the promos, everything.

Jordyn Wieber, the reigning world all around champ, she missed out on qualifying for the all-around final. Here's the thing, she was still the fourth best gymnast in the day, but since teammates passed her and countries are only allowed to send two gymnasts to the finals, Jordyn Wieber did not get to go. Didn't sound fair, does it?

SAMBOLIN: No, it does not sound fair.

BERMAN: All right, taking a look at the medal count now after the first week. China on top in gold medals and overall medals, six golds and 12 total. The U.S. in second with 11 overall medals including three golds. Italy with seven total medals.

SAMBOLIN: There's still plenty of time. Another busy day on tap today, Ryan Lochte tries to win his second gold in 2012 Olympics and 200-meter freestyle.

The 17-year-old Missy Franklin tries to win her first gold in the 100-meter backstroke. And in gymnastics, the U.S. men's team will try to win the team competition. BERMAN: They've look very good.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, they have.

BERMAN: All right, it is now 7 minutes past the hour. When it comes to controversy, Sarah Palin is no chicken. How she's jumped into the Chick-Fil-A same-sex marriage debate coming up.


BERMAN: All right, welcome back to EARLY START. Everyone, it is 11 minutes past the hour. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Happy you're with us this morning. The man accused of the Colorado movie theatre massacre will face formal charges today in court.

James Holmes is suspected of killing 12 people, wounding 58 others during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie. Holmes made an appearance in court last week where he appeared days and he did not speak.

CNN's Jim Spellman joins us live from Centennial, Colorado. What can we expect today?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, about 5 hours from now, Zoraida, we won't see -- but James Holmes will make his way through an underground tunnel from the jail right over here into the courtroom.

There will not be cameras in the courtroom today. So we won't get to see him in there like we saw him last week, this kind of dazed person like this orange-red hair We expect him to be charged with 12 counts of first degree murder, numerous counts of attempted first degree murder and other charges around the explosives around the apartment.

Down the road later, the attorneys here, the DA's office will decide whether to go for the death penalty. Now we got some bad news over the weekend. Ashley Moeser was in the movies with her 6-year-old daughter.

Her daughter was killed in the attack and she was shot. Over the weekend, we found out that she miscarriage and was pregnant and lost her baby. That could be another charge. They can add that down the road. They don't have to do that right away today here -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: The laws here in Colorado, I know are complicated when it comes to that. So I think we have to look at that a little bit more closely. Let's talk about that notebook that Holmes mailed to his psychiatrist. A lot of people wondering that will fall under patient/doctor confidentiality and HIPAA laws.

SPELLMAN: Yes, that's what the defense is saying. The defense is saying this is privileged communications between doctor and patient, we want that today. The judge will rule on that today as well at the hearing.

You know that, that did tell us a lot in the filing, it told us for sure he was under the care of a psychiatrist, but there are still so many questions about that.

We don't know why he was seeing a psychiatrist or we don't know for how long he was seeing the psychiatrist. Both of those could really factor into issues around whether perhaps there should have been some notification from the psychiatrist to people.

There's been reporting to that effect, but we don't have the answers yet to know whether any of that will play into this case, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: I'm sure we're going to get some more answers in the coming days. Jim Spellman live from Centennial, Colorado. Thank you for that.

BERMAN: All right, it's about 14 minutes past the hour right now. Moving on to politics, Mitt Romney is headed to Poland this morning. It's the final stop on his foreign tour. He is scheduled to meet with the country's prime minister as well as former president and Nobel Laureate Let Valenza. Romney was in Israel yesterday where he voiced support for any action to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

SAMBOLIN: A deadly head on collision in a highway. This is near Phoenix. A tractor-trailer slamming into a minivan along Interstate 10 in Arizona killing all seven people in the van.

Take a look at those horrific pictures. Police say the truck driver crossed over the median, hit the minivan and both vehicles caught on fire. The truck driver and his wife survived the crash. They are both listed in serious condition.

BERMAN: Opening statements in the trial of a Chicago area police officer accused of killing his third wife. Drew Peterson is also a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy.

He was charged in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio after investigators exhumed her body and conducted a second autopsy. Her death was initially ruled an accident after her body was found in a bathtub.

SAMBOLIN: Michael Jackson's personal physician is asking for a new round of testing on a piece of evidence that put him behind bars. Prosecutors say Conrad Murray gave Jackson a fatal I.V. dose of Propofol mixed with Lidocaine to ease the sting of the Propofol as it entered Jackson's vein. But Murray's lawyer says Jackson gave himself that fatal does of Propofol. So, there should be no traces of Lidocaine the bottle.

BERMAN: Sarah Palin showing a test for chicken and controversy. The former Alaska governor getting not Chick-fil-A debate by posting this picture of herself and here husband at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Texas Friday night. She then tweeted, "Stopped by Chick-fil-A in the woodlands to support a great business." The restaurant chain has been under fire ever since its owner came out against same sex marriage.

SAMBOLIN: A pregnant mom trying desperately to get to the hospital, gave birth to twins on two different highways, folks. Did you hear this story? Siobhan and Bryan Anderson pulled over on Long Island's southern state parkway to wait for a ambulance. This was Saturday morning. Little Gavin was born on a stretcher by their car.


SIOBHAN ANDERSON, MOTHER: They were wheeling me into the ambulance and I'm holding Gavin and I'm not really covered up at all. There's a car driving towards us and I'm like oh, my God.


SAMBOLIN: Can you imagine that lady? A few minutes later while the ambulance was on the state parkway Declan arrived. By the time they got to the E.R., there wasn't much the hospital needed to do. Look at those two, they're so adorable.

The Andersons now have three healthy boys under the age of 2. Oh my goodness.

BERMAN: That birth, that was all the easy part. Now they have twins, now, it gets really complicated.

SAMBOLIN: Look at them.

BERMAN: All right. They'll help you turn that big idea into the next big thing -- the man behind a website that knows the best innovations happen outside the board room -- now, in a sneak peek of "THE NEXT LIST."


BEN KAUFMAN: It's human nature to invent, right? It's human nature to try to make your life better. It's human nature to try to make the world around you a better place. And what stop people is to actually do that and to execute on all those ideas. It's really freaking hard.

Good ideas shouldn't find their ways on to shelves because they are the ideas of people with the right luck or circumstance. They should find their ways on to shelves because they are just great ideas. That's it. Plain and simple.


BERMAN: You're not going to want to miss the entire story on "THE NEXT LIST," Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

SAMBOLIN: Seventeen minutes past the hour.

Apple claims another company tried to rip off the iPhone. Coming up, more on the huge court case between two tech giants.

And for an expanded look at all of our top stories, head to our blog,


SAMBOLIN: It is 21 minutes past the hour. We're minding your business this morning.

U.S. markets deflating a little bit after a big rally last week. Stock futures for the Dow, NASDAQ, S&P 500 all trading a bit lower right now.

BERMAN: Hyundai is recalling about 200,000 Santa Fe SUVs and 22,000 Sonata sedans after air bag problems.

In the case of the 2007 and 2009 model year of Santa Fe, the passenger airbags may not deploy properly. And in the 2012 and 2013 Sonatas, the curtain side airbags may inflate for no apparent reason.

SAMBOLIN: Wow. That's very dangerous.

And later today, Apple and Samsung are going head to head in court. This is in San Jose, California, in one of the biggest ever technology patent lawsuit. Samsung is facing a U.S. sales ban of its Galaxy smartphones and tablet computers. Apple claims Samsung copied its iPhones and its iPad devices. The two companies have been duking it out after these claims in separate lawsuits and nearly a dozen courtrooms since last year.

BERMAN: Samsung sales are going through the roof. I mean, there's a lot of money at stake here.

More trouble for a jet that's supposed to be a game changer in flying. According to "The L.A. Times," U.S. safety officials are investigating engine problems on Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner jets. This comes after debris fell from the plane and sparked a grass fire in South Carolina. This happened at the Charleston International Airport during a pre-flight test.

The 787 has been hit with several production glitches. Boeing says the plane will fly faster and farther than earlier Jets with better fuel efficiency. That's when it gets up there and going.

SAMBOLIN: Wow, that's kind of scary. That's an impressive airplane.

A Mississippi couple set the day. And they mailed out the invitations, but Charles and Te'Andrea say the day before their wedding, some members of the church they plan to get married at balked because of their race.


TE'ANDREA WILSON, WEDDING BANNED AT CHURCH: We had people in the sanctuary that was pitching a fit about us being a black couple. I mean, I didn't like it at all because I wasn't brought up to be racist.

DR. STAN WEATHERFORD, CHURCH PASTOR: This had never been done here before, so it was setting a new precedence and there were those that reacted because of that.


SAMBOLIN: Reacted and excluded them. Church members made it a point to say the voices of a view do not represent the whole church. However, the pastor ended up marrying the couple at another nearby church.

BERMAN: In other wedding news. Same-sex marriage is not permitted in Colorado and Lakewood, Colorado, bakery is taking its own stand against gay marriage, refusing to bake a cake for a local couple's reception.

The owner of the Masterpiece Cake Shop says he takes every cake he bakes personally. So he says he's not going to make a cake for an event he believes shouldn't be taking place. Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig are planning a wedding in Provincetown in Massachusetts, with a reception to follow later in Denver. But they were shown the door when they went shopping for their wedding cake.


DAVE MULLINS, REFUSED A WEDDING CAKE: My first comment was, we're getting married and he kind of shut that down immediately.

JACK PHILLIPS, OWNER, MASTERPEICE CAKE SHOP: If it came to that point that we would close down the bakery before we would compromise our beliefs, then so that may be what it comes to. We'll have to see.


BERMAN: Residents in Lakewood are protesting the baker's decision. Some are calling for a boycott of this bake shop, the masterpiece cake shop.

SAMBOLIN: You heard him say he would close down the bakery before he would do something like that.

It is 25 minutes past the hour. President Obama is calling on high profile help for the upcoming Democratic convention and Mitt Romney will have to fight back after a magazine, a major magazine calls him a wimp. We'll dive into both, coming up.

And if you are living the house right now, you can watch us anytime. Take us with you. We'll be on your desktop or your mobile phone. Just go to


BERMAN: Two wimpy for the White House? That's from "Newsweek" taking a slam at Mitt Romney.

SAMBOLIN: Stuck in the sky. A roller coaster malfunctions, giving thrill seekers much more than they bargained for.

BERMAN: Olympic outrage -- an American medal favorite won't get to go for gold because of an extremely unfortunate, unfair, I don't like it at all --

SAMBOLIN: You got more?

BERMAN: I don't like it at all rule.

SAMBOLIN: And some people here are saying the rules are the rules so get over it.

BERMAN: We will tell you our opinion.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Twenty-nine minutes past the hour.

Well, hitting newsstands this morning -- check out the latest cover of "Newsweek." It asks if Mitt Romney is too wimpy for the White House. And the accompanying opinion piece is simply brutal. It accuses Romney of being insecure and whiney and socially inept, citing his London Olympics gaffe, his refusal to release more tax returns, and his, quote, flip-flops on key positions to appease conservatives.

CNN's Peter Hamby is live in D.C.

And, Peter, I got to read an excerpt because I got my jaw just fell wide open. They were speaking her about Ann's horse and him riding a horse named Rafalca. And it goes on to say, "Speaking of Ann, did you notice that she was the one driving the jet ski on the recent vacation when Mitt rode on the back, hanging on, as Paul Begala put it to me last week, like a helpless papoose."

Is he responding to this?

PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: He is, he's not letting it get under his skin. You're right. This article was tough. It wonders allowed if he's a whinny. It calls him lame.

Mitt Romney has been called a lot of things as a national political figure so he was asked about this on CBS yesterday morning. Here's what his reaction to this was.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I worried about what the media said, I wouldn't get much sleep. I'm able to sleep pretty well.


HAMBY: Zoraida, he also said -- pointed out, rather, that "Newsweek" did a similar cover in 1987 when George H.W. Bush was vice president and then running for president. That really riled the Bushies, got under their skin. But Romney has more pressing matters to deal with. As he mentioned, the Olympics gaffe in England.

The Obama campaign sort of flooded the Sunday shows and really took aim at Romney for his diplomatic faux pas in the U.K. by wondering or questioning whether the U.K. was prepared for the Olympic Games.

Take a listen to what former Ambassador Tim Roemer, an Obama adviser, had to say about Governor Romney yesterday morning.


TIM ROEMER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: The threshold for Governor Romney, quite frankly, Candy, is this: is he equipped, is he prepared to be commander-in-chief? And when he gets off on the first leg of his trip and he goes to Great Britain and he insults the British people and David Cameron, the prime minister, and the mayor of London both rebuke him, the question becomes, if he can't engage our allies on a simple topic like the international Olympics, how is going to be tough enough to stand up to our gravest enemies like Iran?


HAMBY: Another Obama adviser, Robert Gibbs, went on a Sunday show yesterday and called Romney an embarrassment to the United States, pretty rough stuff.

Romney had a less rocky visit to Israel this weekend and is currently on his way to Poland, Zoraida, for one more day overseas.

SAMBOLIN: I don't know. Did you think that was a fair comparison, the Olympics to Iran?

HAMBY: That's not for me to say.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I don't know. thought that was kind of tough.

All right. This morning, we're getting some new details about the upcoming Democratic convention. Bill Clinton playing a key role, not surprising. He's hugely popular.

HAMBY: He is. A recent CNN poll has Bill Clinton's favorable rating at 66 percent. That's much higher than the president of the United States right now. The DNC will have him speak on September 5th, have a really high profile role.

Clinton they say has an ability to articulate the choice in this election, he's been around several decades on the national scene now. And he is, frankly, Democrats say, a good communicator, perhaps better communicator on matters of policy than President Obama.

But one thing to keep in mind, Zoraida, September 5th is Bill Clinton speaking slot. That's also the same night that the NFL kicks off. That will be the Cowboys and Giants game that night. So, some eyeballs will probably be --


HAMBY: -- on that instead of the convention that night, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Peter Hamby, live in D.C. for us -- thank you.

BERMAN: Turning to other sports, blown leads, world records and tears -- all part of the story for the U.S. team competing in the Olympic Games in London. Leading the medal count right now, China with 12 medals, the U.S. is right behind with 11 and Italy is in third place.

Joining us live now from London is Amanda Davies.

And, Amanda, I've got to ask, U.S. gymnast Jordyn Wieber, the reigning all around champion, she missed out on qualifying for the all-around finals, even though she came in fourth. Please help me explain to everyone how this is possible.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the rules is the rules bluntly and that's what all of the gymnastics authorities and officials here are saying, that the rules state that you can only have two athletes from each country in the all-around final and sadly for Jordyn, she finished third out of the team USA athletes. She finished behind her teammates Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman. And so, that's it. It's game over for her. She doesn't even get to compete for the gold medal that she trained so hard and so long for.

Understandably, the team afterwards were really upset. The girls wanted to celebrate their success but felt because of Jordyn, that they couldn't and it was all very awkward. But afterwards Jordyn took to Twitter and said -- thank you for your love and support. I'm so proud of our team today and can't wait for the team finals.

She actually does have a shot at the floor exercise individual gold which is August the 7th. So it's not the end of her Olympic dream for this year but it certainly not the campaign she was hoping for.

BERMAN: She will get to compete for the U.S. team and team finals also on the floor which is actually the event she didn't do well enough to qualify for the individual finals, ironically.

It wasn't all heartbreak for the U.S. and they did set big records yesterday. Who came up big for us?

DAVIES: Well, there was the disappoint in the men's relay, they only got the silver in the 4x100 freestyle. But, yes, Dana Vollmer has been filling all the headlines -- a fantastic swim for her to win gold in 100 meters fly. And she set a new world record at the time, which is a fantastic story for a swimmer who won a team gold in the pool in 2004. But this is her first individual medal.

And then for Kim Rhode as well in the skeet, a sport we don't often hear about. But that's the wonder of the Olympics, isn't it? A shooting event, she took gold in that for USA and become the first U.S. athlete to win a medal in five consecutive Olympic Games. So, fantastic story there as well.

BERMAN: Five Olympics. All right, Amanda, thank you so much for joining us. We'll talk to you again soon.

Here in a few minutes, we're going to have two world class athletes sitting down with us: UFC champ Dominick Cruz and one of the fighters he's mentoring, Chris Weidman. They're going to weigh in on the Olympics and their sport, which has exploded here in the U.S.

SAMBOLIN: Look up in the sky. Coming up, trouble aboard the Superman roller coaster, leaves passengers stranded way, way, way up there.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Forty minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

And I have to do this story because you're too scared to even speak it out loud. A safety inspection has been ordered for a brand- new roller coaster that left riders sky high at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in northern California. Those people were stuck up there for 90 minutes.

SAMBOLIN: Look at the way they take them down, John.

BERMAN: Ninety minutes, they're getting carried out by a crane.


BERMAN: They look much happier about it and calm than you would be. This is the Superman ultimate flight roller coaster. No one was hurt, except for Zoraida's feelings. Then the roller coaster, which is equipped with computerized safety systems just, made its debut just over a month ago.

SAMBOLIN: I guess those are thrill seekers, right, who would ride anyway. So, maybe they thought this is a great adventure.

BERMAN: They're better (INAUDIBLE) than you are.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, definitely, definitely.

All right. Heat warnings are in place for parts of the Southern Plains and the Southwest.

Rob Marciano has your travel forecast. Good morning to you.


Think about this, you know, when it's really hot. If you're riding on a roller coaster going, you know, downhill, 60 miles, you know, the wind chill would just cool you off right there.

SAMBOLIN: It's great but you're stuck up there, Rob. You're stuck.

MARCIANO: Yes, you would be baking for a while, for sure.

Good morning again guys. We do have heat advisories out for a number of states across the Southern Plains and the Lower Mississippi Valley, even some heat warnings in the shaded pink areas. That's where temperatures could feel like they are 110, 115 with the humidity levels, something we've been talking about obviously for a good month and a half now.

And some of these numbers, although they'd be surprising last year, this year, they are pretty regular -- 109 actual temperature, no humidity measured in Joplin 107, and Topeka and Springfield seeing 106. And some of these numbers will last for the next three or four days. So, extended heat wave here expected for parts of the South.

Severe thunderstorms potentially across Dixie and also across parts of Wisconsin. Some pop-up thunderstorms across the Northeast today and that cloud cover will keep temperatures at least a little more comfortable than what they have been. Near 90 degrees expected in D.C., 79 degrees expected in New York City.

The Tropics, we have seen four named storms so far. We got off to a very, very quick start. But really, the past three or four weeks has been very quiet. El Nino kind of kicking in a little bit and knocking things down. But we're getting in the time of year where we look towards, the Eastern Atlantic, we have a little something developing here and couple models develop it and take a little bit closer to us.

Lots of time to watch this thing. We're getting to the -- well, more active part of hurricane season now that August is on our doorstep.

Guys, back to you.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you very much, Rob.

BERMAN: All right. Soledad O'Brien is here to tell us what's coming up on "STARTING POINT" just ahead.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to continue the conversation about the "Newsweek" cover story, is Mitt Romney a wimp? It's generating lots of buzz. We're going to talk to the guy who's written that article. He asked the question if Mitt Romney is to insecure to be president? My question is what do you mean by is he a wimp? We'll talk about that.

Also, right now, Mr. Romney is on the final leg of his international tour, on his way to Poland. He had a rough week in London. It meant pressure on him to find some better footing. We'll see if he's able to do that.

We're bringing in experts this morning. Michelle Flournoy is the co-chair of the Obama campaign's national security committee. She was in the Situation Room during the Osama bin Laden raid. She's going to join us.

Also, Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, both Romney supporters, are going to be with us.

Richard Williamson is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He'll be our guest.

And we'll talk about a stunning moment at the Olympics. Reigning world champion, United States gymnast Jordyn Wieber, doesn't even qualify for the finals, because of the "only two" rule. We're going to talk about it with gold medalist Kerri Strug. She's one of the famous "Magnificent Seven" of the women's gymnastic teams.

That's all ahead on "STARTING POINT." We'll see you right at the top of the hour.

BERMAN: This year has been the "Fab Five". So, the "Magnificent Seven" talking about the "Fab Five. Very cool.

SAMBOLIN: Sounds really good, but I'll bet our guests can beat up your guests this morning.

O'BRIEN: Kerri Strug just had a baby and runs marathons and maybe not.

SAMBOLIN: Well, listen to this -- UFC champion Dominick Cruz, and one of the fighters that he is mentoring. Look at those two guys, Chris Weidman. They join us live to talk Olympics and how ultimate fighting has become one of the hottest sports in the country.

BERMAN: So, Kerry Strug, watch out.




BERMAN: And we're back. It is 47 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Let's get you up to date on this morning's top stories here first.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Romney is heading to Poland this morning, the final stop on his foreign tour. He is scheduled to meet with the country's prime minister and former president and Nobel laureate, Lech Walesa. Romney was in Israel yesterday. He sat down with CNNs Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem, and in a controversial move, he referred to the city as Israel's capital.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you consider Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel?

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, of course. A nation has a capacity to choose its own capital city, and Jerusalem is Israel's capital.

BLITZER: If you become president of the United States, would you move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

ROMNEY: I think it's long been the policy of our country to ultimately have our embassy in the nation's capital, Jerusalem. The decision to actually make the move is one, if I were president, I would want to take in consultation with the leadership of the government, which exists at that time.


SAMBOLIN: Jerusalem's status is currently under compute with Palestinians who want the city as their capital.

BERMAN (voice-over): Governor Romney is shrugging off this brand-new "Newsweek" cover story which suggests he's a wimp. It hits newsstands today. It's really more of an opinion piece, a tough, tough opinion piece, which questions whether Romney is too insecure to be president. Governor Romney is responding by saying, if "I worried about what the media said, I wouldn't get much sleep, and I'm able to sleep pretty well," he says.

SAMBOLIN: James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others inside a Colorado movie theater is due back in court today. He is expected to face formal charges in the case. No word yet as to whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty. Holmes is being held without bond at the Arapaho County Jail where he is being keeping isolated from other inmates.

BERMAN: Intense battle for control of Syria's biggest city. Rebels launching a major offensive on an army checkpoint in Aleppo. Opposition groups say violence claimed another 114 lives in Syria yesterday, at least 41 of them in capital of Damascus and the suburbs.

SAMBOLIN: Several hundred people hit the street at Anaheim, California to protest two deadly police involved shooting that happened earlier this month. Yesterday's protest was peaceful for the most part, but police say a few people tried to get things more agitated. Two people were arrested there.


BERMAN (on-camera): All right. It is now 50 minutes after the hour right now. It originates from the brutal full contact sport of bali judo (ph). Did I say that right?


SAMBOLIN: Brutal is the problem, not the name.


BERMAN: It comes from Brazil, and it's the fastest growing sport organization in the world, which is not bad from a sport that only came into the U.S. in 1993.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. The ultimate fighting championship that skyrocketed in popularity and gathered a massive fan base. And joining us now or Chris Weidman and his mentor, UFC champion, Dominick Cruz. Gentlemen, thank you for being with us this morning. We appreciate it.

So, you know we were talking a little while ago about the Olympics and what sports do you watch, in particular, because maybe they are feeders for your sport. And I was surprised when you said gymnastics.


CRUZ: My thing is obviously it's the judo and the wrestling, but that hasn't started yet. So, I've been watching -- I watched all the Olympics. I like all sports. It kind of translates over to fighting everything in (ph) some way, but gymnastics, I'm just shocked how well they move. The women, the men, all of them, they just -- they move so well, and fluently, that's huge for fighting also.

BERMAN: You guys were both wrestlers. You were a college wrestler?

CHRIS WEIDMAN, WRESTLING INSTRUCTOR, RAY LONGO'S MMA ACADEMY: Yes. I wrestle in college, and I actually also tried out for Olympics in 2008. It didn't work out for me, but I was going to tryout for 2012 but got involved in the UFC and decided to go that route inside. But, definitely very interested in what happens in wrestling, you know, in this Olympics.

SAMBOLIN: And what other sport do you watch in the Olympic where you say, OK, that's very similar to what I do?

WEIDMAN: I was watching gymnastics, too. I mean, those guys were incredible athletes. And as an athlete, myself, you know, you can look up to what these guys are actually doing out there, because a lot of that stuff I can't come close to doing. So, it's definitely pretty cool.

SAMBOLIN: But it's guys and girls.

WEIDMAN: Guys and girls, that's right.


BERMAN: We have an Olympian, Kerri Strug, here today. Do you guys think you can take her? (LAUGHTER)

CRUZ: I wouldn't try. She got traps bigger than me.


BERMAN: But let me ask you guys, obviously, MMA, it's one of the fastest growing sports in the planet, certainly in the U.S., do you think it should be an Olympic sport?

CRUZ: I think that sooner or later, it will be and we deserve to have it if that's where it goes, you know? It's definitely at that caliber that it could be, but I think with time, it will be in there -- if it happens. You know what I mean? It's just a time thing. I think the sport is still brand-new. There's still a lot being shown in it. And I think it's going to grow on people and it become that.

SAMBOLIN: So, I was asking -- I want to know how long it takes to be a UFC fighter. I worked out with an MMA guy in Chicago. Beat my butt (ph). I said I'm never working out with you again after the third time. This is a long process, isn't it?

WEIDMAN: For the most part, most UFC fighters come from a (INAUDIBLE) base. I came from wrestling, same thing with Dominick. So, we've been doing it since we were little kids. If you just get into mixed martial arts with no base, it takes a very long time, because you're building from nothing.

BERMAN: Judo also, another Olympic sport which is a, you know, sort of feeder for MMA.

CRUZ: Yes. You got a lot of guys that have done judo, you know, wrestling. You got boxers that come in. The beautiful thing about mixed martial arts is you can have a background in any sport, karate. There are so many different martial arts. And if you come in with that background, you get to see what you can do with it on the stage in front of the world.

And it's similar to the Olympics because you can come from anywhere in the world and fight somebody, and you know, it reminds me of the Olympics in that sense.

BERMAN: I can't help but notice that you guys look very tough, but you also look like you have very nice shaves.


BERMAN: What's the deal with this team edge thing?

CRUZ: Yes. Well, what happens is we got Justin Benavidez (ph), Chris Weidman, Rory McDonald (ph), and John Doddson (ph), and these are all up and coming fighters that are looking to have their face and their mug on the front of edge shaving can.

You can go to to vote for these guys. You can vote up to five times a day, and the winner of this competition, whoever gets the most votes, gets to be on the front of an edge shave can. And there's millions of them going on.

BERMAN: It's better than Wheaties.


WEIDMAN: And my little brother over here is being very modest, and he hasn't actually said that he's actually already on these shaving cans -- on about two million cans. And I just want to be able to follow in his footsteps.

SAMBOLIN: That is correct. All right.

BERMAN: Chris Weidman, Dominick Cruz, thank you so much for coming. It's great meeting you. Go easy on Kerri Strug when you see her --

CRUZ: Oh, man. I don't want none of that.


SAMBOLIN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: All right. Today's "Best Advice" from another Olympian, six-time Olympic medalist, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, one of Zoraida's favorite.


BERMAN: That's coming up.


BERMAN: It is just a few minutes before the hour right now, and Soledad O'Brien is on deck with "Starting Point."

SAMBOLIN: And we wrap it up as always with "Best Advice." And today, we hear from past Olympian, Jackie Joyner-Kersee. (INAUDIBLE) past Olympian. She's an Olympian. Take a look.


JACKIE JOYNER-KERSEE, RETIRED AMERICAN ATHLETE: The best advice I ever received probably came from my high school coach when he said win when you can win.


SAMBOLIN: Win when you can win. We've been talking about this. How do you interpret that?

BERMAN: I think there are a couple possible interpretations that I like to discuss with you. Number one, one is if you have the opportunity, seize it, sort of like seize the day, carpe diem. Go for it. If it's there, go for it. And another interpretation that we just heard is, you know, if you're like in a baseball season, you have to beat the bad teams. Don't miss the opportunity to win when that opportunity is available. So, beat the bad team. By the way, she's won four --


SAMBOLIN: Win when you can. She can, often.

BERMAN: She can win a lot. Exactly. So, I'm going to listen to her.

That is it for EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

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