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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Akin Standing His Ground; Bracing for Isaac; Prince Harry Naked In Vegas

Aired August 22, 2012 - 05:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: He is still in the running. Congressman Todd Akin defies his own party and refuses to leave the Senate race despite the firestorm over his "legitimate rape" comments. Is he creating a rift within the GOP?

CHRISTINE ROMNS, CNN ANCHOR: Florida could be in for a soaking. Tropical storm Isaac is growing in strength in the Atlantic. Now, there's concern it could become a hurricane -- a hurricane just in time for the Republican National Convention.

BERMAN: So, what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. Guess who that is? New pictures of Prince Harry naked in Sin City.

ROMANS: Well, good morning! Wake up! Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans in today.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. Zoraida is off today. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Despite those pictures of Prince Harry, we are starting with politics. A lot of news in politics right now.

Up first, the defiant candidate. Missouri Republican Todd Akin rejecting calls from leaders, Mitt Romney on down, to drop out of the Senate race. Akin for his part believes he is the man to unseat Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill despite this uproar over his comments about rape and abortion.

A reporter from CNN affiliate KSDK caught up with Akin last night at the airport in St. Louis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Were you upset with how the Republican Party did not back you during all this? Does it bother you that they kind of bailed on you?

REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: It's been exciting days. We're doing the best we can.

REPORTER: Do you still think you can win the race?

AKIN: I believe so.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Akin also says he believes he can help Mitt Romney take Missouri in November.

CNN political director Mark Preston is live from Tampa.

So, Mark, the question is what now for Akin? What now for Mitt Romney? What now for the Republican Party? What happens? He's in.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: He is in, John. You know, Republicans are waking up again for another day of Todd Akin, something they don't want to be talking about, less than a week before the Republican National Convention.

Here in Tampa where Republicans are starting to gather to talk about the party and to talk about the future, they're very frustrated about what Todd Akin is going to do.

We've seen Mitt Romney come out and ask for Todd Akin to leave the race. We've seen the chairman of the Republican Party to come out and ask Todd Akin to leave the race. As you say, he is defiant.

There are some people now saying that he's looking for a soft landing. He's looking for some way out of the race where he could get out and not have to worry, perhaps, about getting a job down the line. But, again, this is all speculation.

Fact is, right now, Todd Akin, John, has closed quarters. His camp is very closed. He's keeping a very closed counsel. It's certainly no longer Republican leaders.

The fact of the matter is, John, the Republican Party is off message right now and they're all pointing fingers at Todd Akin.

BERMAN: He may be looking for a soft landing. But the fact is, Mark, he's eating up oxygen day after day after day on the abortion issue.

Turning to the presidential campaign, there's a fresh new poll, horse race poll from NBC and "The Wall Street Journal." it also gets to a question we were talking about the last week, before Todd Akin, what we were talking about was Medicare and the political war over Medicare. What does the poll tell us about that?

PRESTON: Well, John, let's take a quick look at the horse race. As you said this new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows President Obama holds a very slim lead right now over Mitt Romney, right now by four percentage points. This is pretty much where the race has been up to this point.

Let's look at the -- when it comes to Medicare, who do Americans prefer? Would they rather have President Obama's plan or would they rather have Mitt Romney's plan? If you look at that right now, President Obama right now is way out in front of Mitt Romney. Very important certainly in a state where I'm standing right now in Florida, John.

BERMAN: All right, Mark Preston, you are there in Tampa, waiting for the convention and perhaps waiting for a hurricane that might be on the way. Thanks, Mark.

We're going to turn to Christine for that.

ROMANS: Yes. So far it's a tropical storm. Its name is Isaac. And Isaac is gaining power in the mid-Atlantic. And it could become a hurricane by Thursday. Some weather models showing Isaac is making its way toward Florida which could mean big problems for the Republican National Convention in Tampa next week.

About 50,000 people are expected to visit the sin city -- or the city -- sorry, I'm thinking about the Harry story, that city during the convention. It's been 90 years since a major hurricane directly hit Tampa.

But organizers aren't taking any chances. They're keeping an eye on this storm's path.

Let's get to Rob Marciano for the latest forecast. I might be the first person to ever call Tampa Sin City.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Listen, you know, I'm sure conventions on both sides of the aisle may very well call it that behind closed doors. Who knows? I'm sure it's a good time.

Good morning, Christine. We're going to talk about those possibilities as well of the fresh advisory out. It's getting better organized. See it here on the satellite picture. Winds up to 45 miles an hour, heading to the Leeward Islands.

Let's talk first of all about the potential tracks of our computer model. We have several of them obviously. Here's just a handful of them, and a good agreement of them coming towards the northern islands, the Greater Antilles of the Caribbean. The more they go over Hispaniola and Cuba, bad for them obviously because of the way the torrential winds will get out of this. But it knocks down the strength of these things, but generally speaking, heading towards Florida.

There are a few that bring it into the Gulf of Mexico. That would put Tampa in play. There's a number of going to bring them east side of Florida. If we get into the Gulf of Mexico, then Tampa becomes an issue.

A few years ago, I talked to a professor down in Tampa about the possibility of hurricanes getting into that city, and what it would do if it would get into the bay.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: If Tampa takes a direct hit from a hurricane, much of the city will be under water.

BOB WEISBERG, PROFESSOR, UNIV. OF SOUTH FLORIDA: If the wrong storm comes here from the wrong direction at the wrong speed and makes landfall at the wrong place, there could be a disaster here. MARCIANO (voice-over): Local professor Bob Weisberg has developed sophisticated computer models to simulate what a direct hit would do. From the gulf, hurricane winds would push a surge of water up the long, shallow bay. At the northern most point where the water is piled highest lies the city of Tampa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: And the convention center itself is in the primary evacuation zones. If even a category 1 or 2 storm would head that way. So, that's why they're nervous.

But as of last night, we gave it about a 1 percent chance of that actually happening. So the chances, obviously, are minimal. And even this morning I think those chances might even be lower because of it's siding towards the eastern side versus the western side.

Here's the forecast track for the national hurricane center. It's a category one status. We skim the islands of Hispaniola and eastern Cuba. And then south Florida is in the crosshairs as we get towards days four and five.

Note the large margin of error as we get towards the latter days. So we'll have to keep this updated and keep you posted as we go.

John, back over to you.

BERMAN: All right. Rob, we will be watching.

Moving on now, a Washington state man arrested for allegedly making threats against President Obama will appear in court today. Investigators say 31-year-old Anton Caluori sent alarming e-mails to the FBI.

According to the Secret Service, Caluori came to the door with a shotgun when investigators arrived at a suburban Seattle apartment. Agents found two weapons. Investigators say he also made comments about explosives so they did a sweep. No explosives were found. Investigators would not specify what was in those e-mails.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hey, guys. Who's going to Florida with me? Any of you going to be in Florida?

REPORTER: Yes.

BIDEN: Well, I'm the speaker at the convention. I'm going to be down there. Good to see you guys. Thanks for covering it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Vice President Joe Biden plans to be in Tampa during the Republican National Convention. He has events planned in Tampa and in other cities early next week. A strong bench of Obama campaign surrogates will also be in the Tampa area. Both the Obama and Romney camps are aggressively bracketing. Surrogates are holding events that coincide with opponents' events.

BERMAN: Federal investigators trying to find the cause of a freight train derailment in Maryland that killed two young women who are tragically in the wrong place at the wrong time. They sent tweets right before they died. Nineteen-year-old friends Elizabeth Nass and Rose Mayr were sitting on the edge of the railroad bridge in Ellicott City when a passing CSX train jumped the tracks.

Moments before the women had tweeted photos of themselves. One showed feet dangling over the bridge with the caption "levitating." Another tweet said, "drinking on the top of Ellicott City sign with Rose."

ROMANS: Police in Lincoln, Nebraska, say a woman who claims she was the victim of a violent hate crime made the whole thing up. Charlie Rogers said she was attacked in her home last month by three men who carved homophobic slurs into her skin. Authorities say DNA evidence didn't match her version of events. Rogers was arrested and charged with lying to police. She pleaded not guilty.

The death toll rising in the West Nile virus scare in Dallas. Authorities say an 11th victim, a woman in her 80s, died from this virus. It's spread, of course, by mosquitoes. In Texas, they're really concerned about this.

The mayor also in that town saying that aerial spraying of pesticides seems to be working. Officials are now focused on spraying on the ground and removing standing water. There have been about 700 cases of West Nile reported nationwide. About a quarter of them in Dallas County.

The NASA rover Curiosity gets its learner's permit this morning. It's about to take its first test drive on Mars. NASA sent up commands to the rover overnight to drive forward, turn and back up. Here you can kind of see the test wiggle in a series of pictures. In all, it should go about 10 feet total. We should see some tracks on the surface of Mars.

Now, the entire two-year mission hinges on the success of this short trip. But no pressure.

ROMANS: All right. Prince Harry is learning this morning what happens in Vegas --

BERMAN: Good Lord.

ROMANS: -- ends up on the Web.

Clarence House confirming to CNN photos posted on TMZ of a nude Prince Harry are Prince Harry. TMZ said they show the third in line to the British throne naked, playing a game of drunk strip pool with an unidentified naked woman in a Vegas hotel suite -- a private hotel suite. He's covering up in one of those photos.

BERMAN: It must be a great morning in Buckingham Palace today. The queen must be having a jolly good time.

ROMANS: Do you think his brother's like, wow, he gets all the fun?

No. He's going back to work. You know, he's in the military.

BERMAN: He's working at something.

ROMANS: He's going back to work. He plays hard in between.

BERMAN: It is 10 minutes after the hour right now.

A group of Muslims saying they feel vindicated by new findings about the NYPD surveillance program. And an umpire goes from calling strikes to saving lives.

Your "Early Reads", they're coming up next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It's 15 minutes after the hour. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans in for Zoraida today. It says pause for animation.

BERMAN: It told us to pause but we're not going to pause.

ROMANS: Let's keep going.

We're getting an early read on local news that's making national headlines.

First from the record in New Jersey, New Jersey Muslims saying they feel vindicated after learning NYPD spying in their communities led to no leads or no terror arrests. The "A.P." first reported last year that New York City --

BERMAN: There's the animation.

ROMANS: That's what we paused for. We really did know what we were doing.

Look -- conducting surveillance on mosques, schools, businesses in Muslim communities. The program was launched after the attacks of 9/11. In a deposition of a civil rights case, the commanding officer of the NYPD intel unit said six years of surveillance in New York and New Jersey yielded no terrorism leads according to the paper.

BERMAN: This has been a big controversy in New Jersey. I think the people there will be relieved and somewhat vindicated.

ROMANS: They're vindicated but they're irritated.

BERMAN: There's some big sports news overnight. It's about an umpire. And learning CPR may be the best call he ever made. This is from AZCentral.com and the "Arizona Republic". We're talking about Major League ump Jim Joyce. He's been greeted with cheers (ph) and fan site that simply says "hero." This the day after he performed CPR to help save a woman's life at Chase Field in Arizona. The woman named Jayne Powers, she's an employee of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who's been with the team since its first day. She had a seizure Monday night. She went into shock and stopped breathing n the tunnel before Joyce walked up near her and started performing CPR. He kept on doing it until the paramedics arrived. Now, she's doing just fine.

Now, Jim Joyce is a name a lot of people will know -- remember a couple years ago, there was an umpire who blew a call in the ninth inning and this pitcher, Armando Galarraga lost a perfect game? That was Jim Joyce. There was tears after. There was all this hugging. There was all the soul searching.

This guy's always in the news. And today for something really marvelous.

ROMANS: All right. Congratulations, right place, right time, he had those skills.

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

BERMAN: It is now 16 minutes after the hour. We want to get you up to date on all the top stories.

And he is in it to win it. We're talking about Congressman Todd Akin, defying calls from the Republican leadership to drop out of the Missouri Senate race. Akin says he's apologized for controversial comments on rape and abortion and hasn't done anything ethically or morally wrong, he says. And he believes he's still the GOP's best chance to unseat Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill in November.

ROMANS: Avoiding a conflict on the convention floor. CNN the first to report there's a deal between the Mitt Romney and Ron Paul campaigns. A deal that will seat more Ron Paul delegates at the convention that could support an organized effort by Paul supporters to try to bring Monday's opening session to a grinding halt. Also in a symbolic gesture, Newt Gingrich released all his delegates to Romney.

Of course, we'll be live at the RNC. John Berman will be live all next week, right here on EARLY START.

BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) stuff for the Romney camp were happy about that.

Revenge for the Russian rockers. Computer hackers attacking the Web site of the Moscow court that tried and convicted three members of a female punk rock band last week. They were sentenced to two years in prison for a song ridiculing President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church. There are reports that a Russian offshoot of the group Anonymous is claiming responsibility.

ROMANS: NASA space scientists in Maryland may have a clue to the prehistoric past right at their feet. A dinosaur tracker says he believes he found a Nodosaurus' footprint on the Goddard Space Flight Center campus. The plant eater roamed suburban Washington, D.C. about 110 million years ago.

BERMAN: So, over the 110 million years, you think they'd see the footprint? Hey, look, it's here.

ROMANS: You've got to always know what you're looking for.

BERMAN: Wow.

All right. Eighteen minutes after the hour.

And coming up, the drought could affect food prices much worse than we thought. And your state, it may be the next victim.

You're watching EARLY START. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back. Minding your business this morning.

U.S. stock futures are trading lower this morning. You know, the S&P 500 is near a four-year high. S&P 500 stocks are up about 7 percent in just the past three months. Much of those gains have been fueled by speculation in the world central banks will act to boost the largest economies. So far they haven't really done that. We'll have to see if markets are disappointed.

Corn and soybean futures back up near record highs, because they're closely watched crop tour by commodity traders, investors and farmers, they're finding crops in worse shape than expected because of that drought in the Midwest. For all you steak lovers out there, because of the drought, the spike in corn prices, you're going to be seeing more expensive meat next year.

Farmers are culling their herds, slaughtering their cattle before maturity because they can't afford the high cost of feed. Food costs have been pushed up from these higher corn prices. And quite frankly some of these -- you know, some of these animals are stressed.

To get a prime steak, farmers feed and fatten up the cattle for a few extra months with a high calorie corn diet. That extra feed time is declining. It's all because of the drought.

And a new study shows Generation Y workers, that means you're 19 to 30 years old, more likely to be in low paying jobs even with a college degree. There are jobs that don't necessarily require a college degree. Most common, merchandise displayer, clothing sale representative, cell phone sales representative. This is according to pay scale. All the broader data show that college pay is, of course, under normal conditions.

But right now with a weak jobs market, even college grads are having trouble finding jobs qualified to do. This a day after we told you about the party schools list -- (CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: There are studies that show if you graduate college at a recession or just after a recession you never catch up to other generation.

ROMANS: They're called the lost generation. So, we'll see.

BERMAN: Twenty-three minutes after the hour right now. Swimmer Diana Nyad is back on dry land this morning in Florida after failing in her fourth attempt at an endurance test really like no other. Swimming more than 100 miles from Havana, Cuba, to the Florida Keys. This time it was storms and stings, jelly fish stings, that forced her out of the water. Now, she's finally ready to let her decades old dream go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIANA NYAD, ENDURANCE SWIMMER: I'm proud. I stand here proud -- tall and proud. I think it's like anything. When you retire or let go of something extreme, it's hard to come down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: She tried.

Later on "STARTING POINT," at 7:15 Eastern Time, Soledad will talk with Diana Nyad, we're very excited about that.

All right. They're in charge of watching over your children. But a group of day care workers are accused of running a fight club --

ROMANS: What?

BERMAN: -- a fight club with toddlers. Crazy.

And if you're leaving the house right now watch us any time on your desktop or mobile phone. Just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: He won't back down. Congressman Todd Akin defies calls to leave his Senate race from his own party. Will his legitimate rape controversy affect the presidential election?

BERMAN: A meat plant shut down after shocking video reveals inhumane treatment of animals. It turns out they provided beef to a popular fast food chain and the national school lunch program.

ROMANS: It was supposed to be taking care of kids, but three day care workers are now accused of running a fight club, a fight club with toddlers.

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

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans, in for Zoraida this morning.

It's 28 minutes past the hour.

His deadline came and went. And Republican Congressman Todd Akin is still running for the Senate in Missouri despite incredible pressure from the highest ranks of his own party to drop out. Akin even launched an online campaign soliciting campaign donations to help his bid against incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill. This after the Senatorial Campaign Committee yanked $5 million for campaign advertising for him.

Akin has faced intense criticism from Republican leaders over remarks he made this weekend about abortion and, quote, "legitimate rape." The five-term Missouri congressman spoke to affiliate KDSK in St. Louis last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Were you upset with how the Republican Party did not back you during all this? Does it bother you that they kind of bailed on you?

AKIN: It's been exciting days. We do the best we can.

REPORTER: And do you still think you can win the race?

AKIN: I believe so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: With me now is CNN contributor and Republican strategist Anna Navarro.

This story now into its third day, I guess. What do you think, what do you want your GOP leadership to do now? Is there something they can -- they pulled their support. He's still running.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I don't think there's anything more that the GOP leadership can do. This is what it means to live in the United States where we have Democratic elections, where we had a primary. If we were in communist China or communist Cuba, Christine, we could have purged him already and we could have erased him from the lists, but we're not.

We're in the United States. And this is the kind of Democracy that we live in. You know, if he wants to continue this, he shall, and he will, as he seems to be doing. He still has -- the deadline was yesterday. The EC deadline determined as such was yesterday at 6:00 p.m. eastern time, but there's still time for him to change his mind, a few more days until Barack Obama becomes the nominee and the ballot becomes solidified.

Maybe he comes to his senses then. But if he doesn't, look, we're just going to have to deal with that. We're going to have to look at other races. That money that was allocated for his race can go to other races that, perhaps, can be more competitive and help win back the Senate. ROMANS: Ana, tell me about the rift. The rift in the GOP, I guess, in the GOP over abortion that this might expose. I mean, you look at, for example, the GOP platform on the abortion issue. Quote, we support a human life amendment to the constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment's protections apply to unborn children.

That's the GOP platform. You've got Senator Scott Brown weighing in. There are people of goodwill on both sides of the abortion issue, and we need to send a message to voters that there is room in the Republican Party for differing perspectives. And then Mitt Romney, himself, has a different view on the abortion issue than his own running mate, and of course, on Todd Akin. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With regards to my own view, I've made it very clear, I'm pro-life. But I believe there should be exceptions in the case of rape and incest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So, this perceived rift on the abortion front in the party taking all the attention away from the economy, too. Tell me first about that rift. Is there one there?

NAVARRO: You know, I'm not sure that it's a rift as much as it is diversity of thought. And I think that exists in every party and on many social issues. That's what social issues, the nature of social issues is that some people are pro-choice. Some people are pro-life, some people are pro-gay rights, some people are not. Some people are pro-immigration reform. Some people are not.

And I think that happens both in the Democrat and the Republican Party. I think it's also changing. And you know the Republican platform, it doesn't even agree with Mitt Romney's agenda and Mitt Romney's platform on some of the abortion language.

So, it just goes to show you, look, we shouldn't -- I don't think we should give that much importance to the platform and the platform committee in all due respect to them. I know they take it very seriously, and it's a lot of days of being locked up in a room discussing a lot of minutia and a lot of policy.

But frankly, I'm not sure many that Republicans or many people in America are reading the Republican platform committee. And you know, it's a bunch of people locked up in a room.

ROMANS: But is it taking the attention -- is it taking away attention from what was perceived to be a strength for Mitt Romney which was the economy?

NAVARRO: Oh, absolutely. I think we need to get back to substance and policy and deficit and fiscal policy as soon as possible. And I think this platform committee issue did not come at a good time, on the heels of the Akin issue. So, yes, you know, we need to put this away. We need to go back to the fiscal issues.

Mitt Romney had, for the first time in this campaign, began to play offense. And he was actually playing it well. So, we need to get back to that place. It was a good spot for him instead of having to play defense on these social issues.

ROMANS: All right.

NAVARRO: And it's a great distraction. It serves Barack Obama very well. So, I say, you know, it's time to put a kibosh (ph) on this.

ROMANS: Ana Navarro, thanks for dropping by, CNN contributor, Republican strategist, thank you. I mean, it's amazing to me that it's been now into the third day that we're still talking about Todd Akin. That one person, one person could defy all the choreography of a presidential campaign, because --

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, sounds like (INAUDIBLE). I mean, this is key real estate, key calendar real estate in the run-up to the Republican convention. Something that had been choreographed by the Romney campaign really for weeks and months now. And you know, have they said anything else the last two days? America doesn't know.

ROMANS: No. We haven't been talking about swing state unemployment rates, you know, I mean, because this has really taken all the action (ph). So interesting. CNN is gearing up for the special coverage of the Republican National Convention. This Sunday night, CNN's coverage kicks off at 8:00 p.m. eastern with a profile of the presumptive presidential nominee.

Then, Monday morning, both EARLY START and "Starting Point" will broadcast our shows live from Tampa. And Monday night, join us again for live coverage of the RNC from Tampa beginning at 7:00 p.m. eastern.

BERMAN: Watch, all of you.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Thirty-four minutes after the hour right now. We want to get you up to date on the rest of your top stories.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (voice-over): An Iraqi born terrorist suspect who is living in Kentucky pleads guilty to providing support to al Qaeda in Iraq, including trying to send riffles, (ph) explosives, and stinger missiles from the U.S. to Iraq. Mohanid Sharif Hamani (ph) faces 25 years to life in prison when he's sentenced in December.

ROMANS (voice-over): Federal health inspectors shutting down a California plant that supplied meat to the popular in-and-out burger chain and the national school lunch program. The action coming in response to undercover video that officials say showed evidence of egregious, inhumane handling and treatment of livestock. In a statement, the Central Valley Meat Company said it was cooperating fully with the USDA investigation and called the allegations disturbing and surprising.

BERMAN: Disturbing and surprising. Good words for this next story. Three Delaware daycare workers accused of encouraging a toddler fight club are out on bail. They were arrested Monday after cell phone video surfaced that reportedly shows them watching and encouraging two three-year-olds to fight each other back in March.

Police say the unreleased video, and one child says, "he's pinching me," while a day care worker responds, "no pinching, only punching." Parents, as you might imagine, are appalled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRISTYL SLACK, PARENT: I'm more or less mad that nobody stepped in as an adult to break the fight up. But I don't really know what happened without seeing the video myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Our affiliates have reached out to the day care center for comment but have not yet received a response.

ROMANS: Wow. To be young and in love, and in cuffs?

BERMAN: Just like "50 Shades of Grey," right?

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: San Antonio police say a man proposed to his shoplifting girlfriend right after both were arrested in connection with a dollar store robbery. They say Sean Rock Foxx (ph) was in a getaway car when he noticed store managers trying to stop his girlfriend, Treila Woods, she was leaving. Police say that's when he went inside.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN FOXX, SUSPECT: I ain't robbed nobody. They tried to hurt my girl.

TREILA WOODS, SUSPECT: I'm like an innocent bystander.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: In case you're wondering, after Foxx popped the question, Woods, who says she's an innocent bystander, said yes.

BERMAN: Now, that is romance. True love.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (on-camera): Thirty-seven minutes after the hour. Right now, a storm is brewing ahead of the Republican National Convention. And for once, we're not talking about politics. Florida now preparing for a possible hurricane next week. Details in a live report coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Good morning, Washington, D.C. You know, it's still a little dark there, but it's 68, mostly cloudy. Later, though, it will be 87 and partly cloudy in the nation's capital. Welcome back to EARLY START. 55:41 in the east. Forty-one minutes past the hour. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. And a storm is growing in the Atlantic, and you better believe it's one that Florida is keeping an eye on. Tropical storm Isaac could become a Category 1 hurricane by Thursday, and it could turn north toward the Sunshine State. If that happens, this could be a serious issue for the Republican National Convention in Tampa next week.

Fifty thousand people are expected in that city during the event. So, organizers are keeping a close watch. So, we want to get the latest on this storm. Let's go straight to Rob Marciano in Atlanta. Rob, where did it --

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, this far out, John, to get to Tampa, that would be day six or seven. Odds are minuscule for it to make a direct hit, but if it were to, I mean, that city is as vulnerable as New Orleans when it comes to getting a storm surge. So, very concerned about that, but we're talking about odds of about one percent at this point this far out, but there is a chance.

Westerly movement at 18 miles an hour right now. It's just to the east of the Leeward Islands. Tropical storm warnings have been posted for the Northern Leeward Islands. U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the island of Hispaniola have hurricane watches out now, because this is gaining strength, and we do anticipate it becoming a hurricane over the next couple of days.

It is going to likely interact with the Northern Caribbean Islands. That will knock down the intensity. Not good news, obviously, for Hispaniola and Eastern Cuba. The way of heavy rains here, potentially, even some mud slides, but notice the last day of the forecast period here, South Florida under the gun, including Miami.

But note the cone of uncertainty or the margin of vary here, either side of this, a couple of hundred miles. So, could get into the Gulf of Mexico. Some of our computer models say that. That would make Tampa in play, but it also could miss Florida and head up to east coast towards the Carolinas. So, this is a tough forecast. No doubt about that.

Here are some of our computer models. Each one of these lines indicates one computer, and this is just a handful. We have several others as well. But you notice, they're in pretty good agreement to bring it across these islands. So, that'll keep the intensity of the wind down. Obviously, the rain is going to be a factor here.

But, at the very least, Tampa may get some rain out of this. Forecast warnings and watches that are posted for the islands that I mentioned. And also, we've got another system out here that has a 90 percent chance of becoming our next tropical storm. And it's almost doing that, but it's way out there.

By the way, Florida has been getting hammered with rainfall the past couple of days, and it will do it again today. Stalled front down there. And then an ongoing flow off the ocean is going to keep things rather moist. So, in preparations for the convention, they'll be getting a decent amount of rain right now. So, we'll keep an eye on Isaac as well.

ROMANS: All right, Rob. Thanks so much, Rob.

A look now at the top stories.

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ROMANS (voice-over): Missouri Senate candidate, Todd Akin, says he's pressing on alone if necessary after rejecting numerous calls from Republicans to drop out of that race. Akin believes he can still unseat Democratic incumbent, Claire McCaskill, despite the political firestorm over his comments about legitimate rape and abortion.

BERMAN (voice-over): A lost piece of history uncovered in a dusty attic in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A reel to reel tape containing an interview with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was recorded in December of 1960, three years before Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech. Listen as he talks about the progress of the civil rights movement.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What effect are the sit-ins having on the progress of the southern Negro and his struggle for equality?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a tremendous effect. I am convinced that when the history books are written in future years, historians will have to record this movement as one of the greatest epics of our heritage.

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BERMAN: Wow! That is crystal clear audio. The man who discovered the King interview (ph) says his father had interviewed Dr. King for a book on racism, but the book was never finished.

A controlled blast at the site of a New York subway demolition project goes wrong, jolting nerves, shattering windows, and sending smoke and debris up into the street. No injuries reported. City officials are now inspecting surrounding buildings for structural issues. A source told a local station a protective covering meant to trap debris that wasn't positioned properly.

ROMANS: Our big other story today, Prince Harry learning that what happens in Vegas ends up on the web. Clarence House (ph) now confirming to CNN that photos posted on TMZ of a nude Prince Harry are, indeed, Prince Harry. TMZ said they show Harry naked, playing a game of drunk strip pool with an unidentified naked woman in a Vegas hotel suite, a private hotel suite, and he's covering up in one of the photos. Dan rivers is live in London with the latest.

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ROMANS (on-camera): Certainly embarrassing, I would assume, for -- what is the reaction from the royal family this morning, shall I ask?

DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's been no reaction from Clarence House, which speaks on behalf of the princes other than to confirm it is Prince Harry. There was a lot of kind of speculation this morning on Twitter here that these may have been spoof, fake photos with a look-alike, but Clarence House telling us that they are genuine but making no further comments.

It's clearly pretty embarrassing for the royal family. Just the contrast between Prince Harry's behavior and his brother, Prince William, who's a search and rescue pilot who's on duty in Wales and Anglesey. Reports that he was just last week out saving a young girl in trouble in Wales, and then his brother pictured naked in L.A, clearly, having a bit of a party.

Prince Harry had his first kind of outing, really, taking place with the queen at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, and he looked kind of slightly shell shocked there. Very nervous looking Prince Harry appearing at the closing ceremony. Now, obviously, he's gone away with his friends, letting off some steam by the looks of things.

There's been also stories around of him having a kind of, you know, playful swimming race with Ryan Lochte as well. So, having some fun. But looks like this may have just gone a bit too far.

ROMANS: He was wearing slightly more clothing in that swimming race with Ryan Lochte. That made all of the American tabloids as well. And, you know, while we're having a little fun with the headline this morning, some of us, you know, it does say something about the security, of course, of the third in line to the throne, I would say.

RIVERS: It does, yes. I mean, you know, how these pictures were allowed to get out, there's been a sort of convention when he's been out socially that, you know, phones will be checked or taken off people if they're worried that they can't be trusted.

ROMANS: Clearly, someone had a pocket. Someone was still clothed, because there was a phone in someone's pocket.

RIVERS: Right. Exactly. There's also a serious point here as well. The British papers here haven't really -- haven't -- well, they've talked about it, but they haven't published the photos, because they're all very worried in the wake of all the phone hacking scandal here. You know, this is the last thing they want to be seen to be doing is to be going out on a limb and publishing these photos.

They were taken, we gather, in a private hotel suite. And the agreement here is that, you know, that they're not allowed to publish photos of the royals in this manner when they're clearly in private circumstances. So, none of the UK papers have published them whereas they've gone round the world on the internet, of course.

ROMANS: It's interesting that Harry seems so private in his public duties, but -- so, I guess, (INAUDIBLE) in his private life. I don't know. Dan Rivers, thanks so much. And it makes me wonder, too, what is worse? The pictures of him in the Nazi uniform or the pictures of him with nothing on?

BERMAN: I didn't realize what Dan was saying. The British papers haven't published the photos yet.

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: Very interesting.

ROMANS: That is interesting, and the hacking scandal -- all right. Think (ph) gotten so much. Shame, shame, Fido. If your dog choose your shoes, (INAUDIBLE) on his leash or growls with the cat, there's a new tumbler website that lets you publicly shame your misbehaving pet. You got to see this.

If you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop, on your mobile phone, just go to CNN.com/TV.

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ROMANS: Welcome back at 52 minutes after the hour. I'm here with John Berman taking a look at what's trending on the web this morning. To the Batmobile!

BERMAN: That's right. What is trending on the web? Legendary British sports car maker, McLaren Automotive unveiling the McLaren X1. Take a look at it. The company says the million dollar one of a kind super car took three years to build. Sleek lines. It was commissioned by an anonymous millionaire.

There are a lot of anonymous millionaires out there. But we know who really -- we think we know who you are, and you're Bruce Wayne, right?

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BERMAN: Bruce Wayne, the anonymous billionaire. Inspiration from the vehicle was drawn from classic cars from the 1950s and 1970s. We're told the designer even used a grand piano and photos of Audrey Hepburn to capture classic elegant. You can see Audrey Hepburn's face in the --

ROMANS: If that doesn't say the one percent, I don't know what does.

It's the modern day newspaper over the nose. The Tumblr blog called dog shaming. Pet owners posting pictures of their dogs looking all embarrassed along with notes about what they did wrong. One saying, "I bit the groomer, now I'm banned." Another, "I ate $20." And of course, my favorite, of course, this one. "My favorite pastime is shoving" -- that one's disgusting.

BERMAN: Trust me, there's a lot worse. I mean, this is the cleanest stuff that we could find on this. There's naughty, naughty dog postings on this.

All right. Fifty-three minutes after the hour right now. Mitt Romney said go, and Todd Akin said no. And now, the late night guys, they're weighing in.

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JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": I just read that a hurricane could threaten next week's Republican National Convention in Tampa. It could really hurt Republicans, which explains its name, Hurricane Todd Akin.

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DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": I just heard now that Mitt Romney has asked Todd Akin to step down. And I thought, oh, that's too bad. Todd Akin was the guy to lead the Republican Party into the 16th century.

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JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Todd Akin, he's the Republican Senate candidate from Missouri. He is under fire for his controversial comments that women who are legitimately raped are less likely to get pregnant.

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LENO: The good news, candidates who are legitimately that stupid are less likely to get elected.

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ROMANS: Coming up on EARLY START, Congressman Akin refuses to leave that race despite all that pressure from the Republican Party to call it quits. So, what does this mean for the presidential election?

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