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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Eye on the Storm; Violent Danger; Navy SEAL Writes Book on Bin Laden Raid

Aired August 23, 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: Tropical storm Isaac is picking up speed and heading right towards Florida. If it becomes a full blown hurricane by Monday morning, is the Republican National Convention ready?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Oh boy!

Also, Isaac, not the RNC's only threat next week. There's growing concern about violence from anarchist groups has security teams in Tampa on edge.

BERMAN: And he meant it when he said it.

(MUSIC)

BERMAN: Mama going to knock you out. A burglar gets himself in big trouble when he breaks into LL Cool J's home and comes face to face and probably face-to-arms with the actor.

BALDWIN: I mean, I was expecting to see LL Cool J in here this morning, so you could talk to him. And instead I get you, Berman.

BERMAN: Sorry --

BALDWIN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Zoraida is off today.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And we are talking about weather because tropical storm Isaac is heading right towards Florida in the Caribbean this morning, with winds of 45 miles per hour. It's already soaking San Juan, Puerto Rico. And a hurricane warning has been issued for Haiti and the southern coast of the Dominican Republic.

Isaac could become a category 1 hurricane by tomorrow and is threatening to reach Florida by early Monday. People in the state are already stocking up, preparing for the storm. In about three hours, Governor Scott will give an update on the state's readiness plan.

If it becomes a hurricane by next week, Isaac could create serious problems for the Republican National Convention in Tampa, 50,000 people expected to visit that city during the event.

We had an update from the National Hurricane Center just seconds ago. And for a look at this forecast, let's go right now to CNN hurricane headquarters and Rob Marciano.

Rob, what's going on?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, John. This just came in off the wires, so I'm kind of going through it on air with you as I do so. It looks like we're knocking down the intensity a little bit as we go through time. Problem with this thing is that it's got a few things that's working against it other than the obvious, which is a little bit of land mass that it's going to interact with.

Now, the problem with Puerto Rico and the island of Hispaniola, it's beginning to get some heavy rain in the next couple of days, especially Hispaniola, Haiti and obviously, they got their issues there as far as the lack of shelter and the mountains there. So, that's going to be problem number one for the locals. Problem number two for the U.S. and land masses beyond that is that that's going to mess with the intensification forecast, the strength of this thing.

Here's what our forecast models have been doing over the past 12 hours. Each line represents an individual computer. They've gotten a little bit clustered as far as the track is concern.

So, the track is becoming a little bit more confident, that brings it across Cuba and maybe the southern tip of Florida. We consolidate that average now, put it a little bit of expertise in the National Hurricane Center forecast, especially updated for 5:00 a.m. shows you this. Actually, this doesn't look like it's updated yet, guys.

But the track is similar. But what I'm reading here off this discussion is that it may not become -- it may not be forecast to become a hurricane at this point. We have to wait and see how it interacts with those mountains and how it interacts with other things going on in the atmosphere.

So, we'll get a fresh graphic for you in the next 30 minutes and you'll be able to get a better grip on what we expect to see. But dangerously close, that's the track for sure through the western peninsula of Florida.

Guys, back over to you.

BERMAN: All right, Rob. Like we said, fresh data still and we are all digesting it this morning. Thanks very much.

We want to get you updated on the latest political news. Federal law enforcement hoping for the best but preparing for the worst at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. An intelligence bulletin obtained by CNN warns of violence by anarchist extremist groups, possibly using improvised explosive devices. It cites concerns over bridges and infrastructure in both Tampa and Charlotte. That's where the Democrats will be holding their convention.

Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan, they have been pulled into the abortion debate, forced to explain the differences between their personal positions after that "legitimate rape" comment from Congressman Todd Akin. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mitt Romney is the top of the ticket and Mitt Romney will be president and he will set the policy of the Romney administration. And policy of the Romney administration is that abortion exceptions will exist for rain, incest and life of the mother.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Paul Ryan also said he told Congressman Akin to drop out of his Senate race but that Akin is running his own campaign.

A new DNC video is slamming Republicans over their anti-abortion stance and trying to tie the Romney-Ryan ticket to Congressman Akin. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: I'm proud of my pro-life record and I stand by my pro-life record in Congress. It's something I proud of.

REPORTER: Delegates in Florida are voting to include strong anti- abortion language in the party platform to be presented in Tampa next week. There are no exceptions included for rape or incest.

MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Would you have supported the constitutional amendment?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: As you can see, even though Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have both distanced themselves from the Todd Akin comments, that ad trying to tie them evermore to the abortion debate.

Moving on, a campaign event in New York featuring current and former NBA greats. President Obama took some shots at Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin for those comments on rape and abortion. The president is telling the crowd while Akin sits on the House Science and Technology Committee, he somehow missed science class. That's a quote from President Obama.

Former New Hampshire governor and Mitt Romney surrogate, John Sununu is standing by ads that CNN and other fact checkers have found to be false. In them, the Romney campaign accuses President Obama of wanting to, quote, "gut" welfare reform by drooping work requirements.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN SUNUNU, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: The HHS memo goes well beyond what governors asked for and in fact invites them to offer alternatives to the traditional work requirement. That's the issue that's here. And the alternatives that had been discussed as possible substitutes are things such as self-training in the home, reading books that motivate you to work and so on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, CNN, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org have all found these charges to be false. When asked about those findings, Mitt Romney has faulted the serious for bias.

Now, Governor Sununu has also chimed in on Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, telling Wolf he hopes sanity will prevail and that Akin will leave the Senate race.

Of course, this morning, Todd Akin very much still in the Senate race. I saw tweets from him all night trying to raise money, trying to fund his campaign still.

BALDWIN: Here's my question, you being the big political poll nerd that you are, you know, when you look at "The Wall Street Journal"/NBC polls and you see the lead that President Obama has in terms of female voters, you have to wonder what Romney can do to chip, chip, chip away at that, because you really just has to conventions right now, and the debate. What does he do?

BERMAN: He was hoping to use this week and the beginning of conventions to begin to make his case to women voters, particularly suburban women voters. And this obviously makes it more difficult and Romney speaking on Monday night, the first time of the convention, that's part of their plea.

BALDWIN: Yes. OK, moving on. It is seven minutes past the hour here on this Thursday. I want to get you up to date on rest of the top stories here.

Former Penn State president, Graham Spaniard, is speaking out for the very first time on the Jerry Sandusky child sex case, the report that accused him of helping cover it up and his own past as a child abuse victim.

Here's what he told ABC News about whether he did enough to help the victims of Jerry Sandusky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Do you feel like you failed those kids?

GRAHAM SPANIER, FORMER PRESIDENT, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY: I wish in hindsight that I would have known more about Jerry Sandusky and his terrible, terrible hidden past so that I could have intervened, because it would have been my instinct to do so if I would have known more about him. But I did not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Spanier's attorneys blasted that Louie Freeh report, calling the university-funded review a, quote, "flat-out distortion of facts, infused with bias and innuendo," end quote, that accused Spanier of being complicit in the alleged cover-up of the child sex abuse scandal.

BERMAN: Twenty-eight-year-old Floyd Lee Corkins now faces a maximum of 55 years in prison if convicted in the Family Research Council shootings. Prosecutors say he opened fire in the conservative groups D.C. headquarters last week. The building manager was shot in the arm but still managed to wrestle the suspect to the ground. And according to the criminal complaint, Corkins targeted the FRC for its anti-gay policies.

BALDWIN: New developments this morning in the case of 21-year-old Chavis Carter who Arkansas police say fatally shot himself while hand cuffed in the back of a police cruiser. Investigators say Chavis' girlfriend told them that Carter called her from the car saying he had a gun with him and that he was frightened. An autopsy ruled Carter's death as a suicide just this weekend.

Police say they twice searched him for a weapon, found nothing. Carter's family believes police fired the fatal shot. Many questions still remain unanswered.

BERMAN: This is how she rolls. NASA rover Curiosity making its first test drive on Mars. And there are the tracks to prove it. There they are. NASA's lead rover driver said the trip lasted roughly 16 minutes. Curiosity rolled about 15 feet, an epic 15 feet, maybe a 120 degree turn in place and then backed up five feet and took some more stunning pictures along the way.

BALDWIN: You picked the wrong house to rob. Rapper and actor and owner of very large muscles, LL Cool J, scuffled with a burglar who tried to break into his Los Angeles home early yesterday morning. Police say he was able to take down the suspect and, quote-unquote, "physically detain" him until they arrived. LL Cool J shares the home with his wife, their four kids, one of his daughters called police while he took care of, you know, the physical stuff.

BERMAN: Yes, I bet he did.

BALDWIN: Yes, I bet he did, too. You do not mess with LL Cool J.

BERMAN: It has to be scary to have someone break into your house.

BALDWIN: Totally scary.

BERMAN: Even if you are LL Cool J. Even if you have those arms, which he does.

All right. Ten minutes after the hour right now.

Students dressed as gang members and pregnant women during school --

BALDWIN: How about this one?

BERMAN: -- event called senors and senoritas. This is the thing -- it went on for three years. We'll tell you about this and the major backlash, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Fourteen minutes past the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Glad you're with us.

BALDWIN: Let's get an early read, some of the local news making national headlines here this morning, including offensive caricatures of Mexicans. I'm talking about students dressed as gang members, pregnant women pushing a baby stroller, all part of senior week. Remember senior week in high school?

This is high school perhaps not like you experienced. This is Anaheim, California. Take a look at this picture. This is the cover of the "L.A. Times" this morning, Canyon High School taking a lot of heat for allowing these demeaning costumes during something called senors and senoritas day. It happened for three years at the school, as you pointed out earlier.

Along with sombreros, fake mustaches, other students also dressed up as U.S. border patrol agents and gang members with bandannas and tear drops. Tear drops.

School officials say next year, the event will be placed with an international week. Administrators will undergo diversity and sensitivity training and the school will offer an ethnic studies class.

BERMAN: Yes, they will. I mean, I can't believe this is going on for three years.

BALDWIN: Three years and apparently, now, it matters. And now, they're saying, thanks but no thanks.

BERMAN: All right. Moving on, Tennessee, in the Chattanooga, a group called Freedom from Religion is going after a local high school football program and its coach. They're accusing Ridgeland High School's head coach Mark Mariakis of violating the players' First Amendment rights by taking his team to church for meals and service, also by leading post-game prayers and by putting Bible verses on team equipment. There's a no comment from the district or the head coach. So far, obviously the separation of church and state is the issue here.

BALDWIN: And you like licorice?

BERMAN: Sure.

BALDWIN: Sure? Maybe not this licorice. The "Contra Costa Times" reporting beware of the black licorice. People are being warned against eating black licorice candy produced by the East Bay. A lot of Redvine black licorice twists had a lead level exceeding the state standard. Who knew? The effective batch is marked with a "best before" 020413, February 14th, 2013. did you get? Remember that.

BERMAN: Remember that number. BALDWIN: Remember that. Memorize that.

So, pregnant women and parents of children are being told to talk to their doctors. The company behind the candy American Licorice, company voluntarily asked for the recall.

BERMAN: That's kind of a bummer.

BALDWIN: Kind of a bummer, though. And black licorice, you can find others out there, Berman.

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

BERMAN: It is now 16 minutes after the hour. We want to get you up to speed on all the headlines.

And Christine Romans is here with the headlines.

Hey, Christine.

BALDWIN: Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning you two.

Tropical storm Isaac in the headlines, ready to make a mess of the Republican National Convention. It still has (INAUDIBLE) Florida and could make landfall as a hurricane by late Sunday or early Monday. Florida's governor will announce readiness plans in about three hours. Right now, a hurricane warning is in effect for Haiti and the southern Dominican Republic.

An airline passenger said to be distraught is in custody in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Authorities say he pushed past crew members, ran down the jet way and locked himself in the cockpit of an empty American Eagle plane. This man identified as Andrew Alessy (ph) surrendered after several hours of negotiating when police cut power to that aircraft.

Virginia Tech University battling environmentalists over a plan to build an indoor practice facility right next to its football field, built in an area known as Stadium Woods. The university has now accepted a committee recommendation to ditch this plan. Some trees in Stadium Woods, the forest there, are 300 years old. The blueprint called for at least 60 of them to be torn down.

And more porn actors have syphilis. And now, the outbreak has shutdown productions nationwide. The industry is requiring all actors take antibiotics. A public health official says there are nine confirmed cases among porn actors in L.A. County.

Now to an unusual case of animal abuse. People in Oceanside, California, neighborhood spotted a box turtle duct taped to balloons and it was stuck to a tree.

BALDWIN: What? ROMANS: Just as fire rescue crews got there on Sunday, a gust of wind blew the balloons down. If no one claims these little turtles, little box turtles, the woman who first spotted it says she will give it a loving home.

That is a dumb practical joke.

BALDWIN: Duct-taped?

BERMAN: Horrible people.

BALDWIN: Horrible, horrible.

ROMANS: Use a camera next time. Don't send poor little turtle.

BALDWIN: Poor turtle.

Hey, beware of the fiscal cliff. The CBO with a stark warning. What will happen if congress doesn't take action on the deficit? We're all watching that.

BERMAN: Big problems.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Here we go. Welcome back to EARLY START here.

Christine Romans is with us, minding your business this morning.

CBO report.

ROMANS: I know.

Fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff. You've heard me talked about this a lot, the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office out with a new forecast for what happens if your elected officials don't get their acts together. And what happens is you could lose your job.

No matter who is president next year, if Congress doesn't act on a fiscal cliff, no matter who is president, no matter whose policies, you will see people lose jobs -- not creating jobs, but losing jobs. A recession next year, a big recession the beginning part of the year overall, a very tough year and unemployment rate of 9 percent.

It would improve the U.S.'s horrible debt position, yes, but at a cost of really crushing the economy next year. So that's where we stand now if Congress doesn't act on the fiscal cliff. What is new about this, I haven't heard the CBO yet give an unemployment rate target, 9 percent is the target.

BALDWIN: They warned of a recession before. But that's the new --

ROMANS: They've warned of a recession. This is a lot of pain up front. This is because Congress kept punting, right, and kept not doing its job. It couldn't figure out last year in the whole debt ceiling debate. This put -- it put out this worst case scenario. BALDWIN: You're frustrated.

ROMANS: I'm very frustrated. And I'm telling you, a lot of people who have been following this are very, very frustrated. So, just be prepared, this is a really big deal.

Are you seeing any move, John, they're going to fix it?

BERMAN: Hardly any chance it will happen before the election.

ROMANS: Seventy-six days until the election, 130 days until the fiscal cliff.

Part two of my get out of bed and go to work and be afraid report, the ACT -- this is the college -- you know, people who go to college -- the SAT and the ACT, they're out with college readiness, a look for all those college ready kids that took the ACT report. Sixty percent of high school kids that graduated this year are at risk of not succeeding in their college career. Twenty-eight percent of SAT tests of graduate did not meet any of the four college readiness benchmarks in English, math, reading or science, suggesting there are a whole lot of kids who are going to struggle in college.

Why? This is so important. If you go to college not ready, you're going to be taking catch up classes in English and math in your first year. You're going to pay maybe $25,000 to do that for your first year and five years to graduate. You are behind by tens of thousands of dollars if you do graduate. So, there you go on that.

Third, I wanted to tell you some good news.

BERMAN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Good news.

ROMANS: I know, I'm the angel of darkness this morning.

BERMAN: Housing market.

ROMANS: More good news in the housing market. Fewer people are under water. Yesterday we told you home sales rose in July. That was good news. Now Zillow and midnight released a negative equity report, showing that fewer people are under water. 30 percent of U.S. home owners with mortgages are under water. That's down from over 31 percent in the first quarter.

BERMAN: Good.

ROMANS: I know. There you go.

BERMAN: Thank you for that, Christine Romans.

Twenty-five minutes after the hour right now. And a gun range is getting sued over a promotion. What's the promotion? Women only. Were they discriminating against my people, men, or just trying to drum up new business? My people. If you're leaving the house right now, men or women, you can watch us anytime on your desktop or mobile phone. Just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: All eyes on this. Preparations already under way in Florida as tropical storm Isaac is picking up steam. The storm could reach Florida by early next week. We do have new information as far as tracking this thing goes. We're going to check in with Rob Marciano and see if and when this could affect the RNC in Tampa.

BERMAN: By the way, Isaac not the only thing, only possible storm the RNC is weathering with the convention just days away now -- is Mitt Romney being overshadowed by Congressman Akin and those "legitimate rape" comments?

BALDWIN: And ladies night, sure, it's a popular promotion at all kinds of bars and clubs but one gun range under fire for their women only special, because some say, hey, that's not fair to guys. We shall see.

BALDWIN (on-camera): It is half past the hour here on a Thursday. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm sitting in for Zoraida. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 5:30 in the East -- standing up for guys everywhere.

BALDWIN: Tropical storm Isaac here potentially heading toward Florida as it makes its way through the Caribbean this morning. Take a look once again. This hurricane warning has been issued for the island of Hispaniola. Isaac could become a category 1 hurricane by tomorrow and is threatening to reach Florida by early Monday morning.

Here's the big if. If it becomes a hurricane by next week, that could cause all kinds of problems. Isaac could be interrupting the Republican National Convention in Tampa. At least, there will be 15,000 journalists there to cover it if, in fact, that happens.

For the latest forecast, let's go straight to Rob Marciano in the CNN hurricane headquarters. And so, Rob, you were getting some updated information this morning. So, it sounds like maybe, maybe it's weakening in intensity as far as a potential hurricane is concerned.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, it may jump (ph) there just a little bit. It has weakened overnight a little bit, max winds one of the recon missions showing 27 miles an hour. So, they bumped it down, but this satellite picture looking a little bit healthier. It's got some warm water to deal with.

And, the more I read into the real discussion of Isaac, it looks like that we're not changing it a whole lot from where we were last time. Westerly moving at 12 miles. That has slow down. It's going to strengthen somewhat over the next couple days. Might not do it much today, but it's going to do it enough to where they've issued hurricane warnings now for, as you mentioned, the island of Hispaniola.

So, that gives you confidence as to what we think is going to happen with the strength of this thing. The forecast track, and there's a little bit more confidence in this this morning than there was yesterday. I'll explain why in just a second. Here's your intensity levels as well. We get through Cuba.

We get somewhere along the Florida keys, the straits, at least the southern tip of Florida as we get towards early Sunday -- early Monday morning, late Sunday night and then getting into the eastern gulf of Mexico likely during the day on Tuesday. And that, of course, hasn't changed much. It's going to be very, very close to Tampa.

And the reason that we're getting a little more confident, John, is our computer models now, we had a bunch that were going well to the east yesterday, and now, they're beginning to consolidate heading towards the eastern Gulf of Mexico and if this track verifies regardless of a direct hit on Tampa, it willing on the right side of the storm and we'll get some stormy conditions, it looks like, at the very least. Back up to you.

BALDWIN: OK, Rob. I will take it. Rob Marciano.

BERMAN: That's me. They were looking at me right there. Let's be clear.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: Sorry. All you, Berman.

BERMAN: I appreciate. Thank you very much.

BALDWIN: Apologies.

BERMAN: Rob, just talking about tropical storm Isaac, which is going to be headed at least toward the Republican National Convention. They will get some rain one way or the other. We will be there. There are other controversy --

BALDWIN: Bringing your red storm team jacket with you?

BERMAN: I just got here. They haven't given me that jacket yet.

BALDWIN: Eventually.

BERMAN: There are other issues the Republicans, of course, dealing with also. There's the Todd Akin controversy.

BALDWIN: Yes.

BERMAN: And now, President Obama just weighing into that controversy last night. There is a lot to talk about. Republicans on edge this morning in Tampa. That is where we find CNN's political reporter Peter Hamby in Tampa. Peter, you have your raincoat? I mean, can you see people getting ready for this storm? Are there visible signs of preparation right now? PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: It's all over the local news, talk radio, just driving around yesterday. People are talking about it. And, it's been raining a lot as pretty normal at this time of year in Tampa, John. But you know, Republicans I've talked to, no one is cancelling their flights yet.

I talked to a delegate from New Jersey who's staying in St. Pete on the beach. And he's just kind of cranky that the weather might be bad. You know, even if the storm misses, we're still going to get a lot of rain. But, you know, the Republican National Committee, the host committee here, they're saying that they have contingency plans in place.

They're not revealing what those are. You know, they don't want to make this a bigger story than it is at the moment, but people are definitely talking about it. It's definitely a story in terms of practical impact, yet, we're still kind of in a holding pattern.

BERMAN: Well, I get the sense probably the Republicans are a lot crankier about this ongoing controversy involving Todd Akin. And now, the Democrats trying to make hay with this. We do have a new ad, really a video out from the DNC overnight. Let's take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm proud of my pro-life record, and I stand by my pro-life record in Congress. It's something I'm proud of.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Delegates in Florida were voting today to include strong anti-abortion language in the party platform to be presented in Tampa next week. There are no exceptions included for rape or incest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you have supported a constitutional amendment that would establish the definition of life at conception?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right. Peter, I couldn't help but noticing Paul Ryan's face in thatvideo. Tell me the strategy behind this. What are Democrats trying to do?

HAMBY: Yes. I mean, Paul Ryan might be the Achilles heel for Romney right now, you know, in this debate over women's health issues, cultural issues, abortion rights. Look, Paul Ryan has a very similar voting record in the House of Representatives to Todd Akin. They've co-sponsored bills together with language about abortion that doesn't include exceptions for rape.

So, the democrats are running -- they have been running TV ads about this. They're going to keep talking about this even more because they know that this is the central point of discussion in the presidential race. I think you're only going to hear more about Paul Ryan's record on abortion as they try to tie him to Mitt Romney again and keep the discussion off the economy in the week heading up to the convention.

BERMAN: So, Peter, before the Todd Akin thing broke earlier this week, we were talking about Medicare, and there are some fresh polls out minutes ago which shed some light a little bit on where this debate is headed. Explain them to me.

HAMBY: Yes, "The New York Times" and Quinnipiac did polls in three different states. They did Ohio, Florida, and Wisconsin. And the poll numbers there are actually tightening which is good news for the Romney campaign. But they surveyed the question of Medicare.

Medicare has been thrust into the center of the debate since Paul Ryan was picked because of his sort of controversial budget reform plan in the House. Take a look at some of these numbers on Medicare.

They asked the question whether Medicare should continue as it is or Medicare should be changed in the way that Paul Ryan has suggested in the House, basically, for people under the age of 55 moving toward a voucher system.

In Florida, 62 percent of voters say Medicare should continue as it is. In Ohio, 64 percent, Wisconsin 59 percent. The people who think Medicare should be changed in Florida, that's only 28 percent, John. That's a big deal.

If Mitt Romney loses Florida, if Democrats can convince voters in Florida that this plan would hurt voters Medicare there, Mitt Romney loses 29 electoral votes, and the only thing Barack Obama has to do then is when another small state, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, for example, and it's game over.

So, this kind of, you know, crystallizes the riskiness of this bet for the Romney campaign on Medicare. The task is up to both campaigns to sort of, you know, get the message out there of what each campaign is going to do.

BERMAN: And the task is frame the discussion the way they want to. Peter Hamby in Tampa. Buy your raincoat. Thanks very much.

CNN, of course, is gearing up for 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 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Then Monday morning, both EARLY START and "Starting Point" will broadcast live from Tampa.

And Monday night, you have to join us live for coverage of the Republican National Convention from Tampa beginning at 7:00 p.m. eastern time.

BALDWIN: And you can swing on by in the afternoon because I'll be there, too.

BERMAN: Of course. BALDWIN: Of course.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Hang at the grill. It should be interesting and certainly no coincidence that the RNC is in Florida, speaking of what Hamby was talking about.

It is 37 minutes past the hour here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN (voice-over): The NTSB says the crew of a train that derailed near Baltimore did not apply the emergency brakes just before that accident. Investigators say the emergency brakes were triggered automatically, possibly because of a ruptured air line. Rose Mayer (ph) and Elizabeth Nash (ph), both 19 years of age, they were on the bridge where the train derailed Tuesday.

They died when coal spilled in the derailment and buried them. A memorial mass is scheduled for tomorrow and a funeral is planned Saturday for Mayer (ph).

John Lennon's convicted killer seeking parole again. This is Mark David Chapman's seventh attempt at freedom. Two or three members of the parole board reportedly interviewed Chapman before making their decision. It's still unclear exactly what they will hand down. Lennon gunned down outside of his Manhattan apartment back in 1980.

BERMAN (voice-over): The Transportation Security Administration ordering officers nationwide to undergo retraining after allegations of racial profiling at several airports. The TSA says behavior detection officers trained to identify potential threats will be required to take a refresher course.

The action comes after complaints from agents at Boston's Logan Airport who said minorities were being targeted for questioning based on race and ethnicity.

Karen Klein, a 68-year-old bus monitor who was videotaped getting viciously taunted by students, she's putting her donations to good use. She's starting her own anti-bullying crusade, the Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAREN KLEIN, FORMER BUS MONITOR: I'm hoping to get other people to put money in it, and this is going to be for education, for people that got bullied, for people that -- just people that need it for the situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Klein received an outpouring of support and donations when the clip went viral back in June. Of the $700,000 raised, $100,000 is going to the campaign. She has said earlier she was going to use some of the other for a vacation.

BALDWIN: Vacation.

Ladies day at the gun range. Sounds like one heck of a promotion, but now, this Maryland small arms range is being sued by gun enthusiast. Why? Because he says offering free admission (ph) to the lady shooters isn't fair to the guys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DERRICK HUNTER, SUING GUN RANGE OVER LADIES DAY PROMOTION: Just because I'm a man doesn't mean that, you know, I should have to pay more. Two ladies came up behind me. He told them they were free. So, I asked him, I said, well, why did I have to pay to use the range and they didn't?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: The owner of the Maryland gun range says if what he's doing is illegal, so are discounts for seniors, children, and the military.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN (on-camera): I don't hear too many guys complaining about ladies night at the bar.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN (on-camera): I want cheap drinks.

All right. There is a big, big controversy brewing overnight.

BALDWIN: Yes.

BERMAN: And everyone's talking about it this morning. He says he was there when Osama Bin Laden was killed. Now, a former navy SEAL is writing a tell-all book about this historic raid. A lot of questions to be asked here. A live report from the Pentagon, next.

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BALDWIN: Happy Thursday. You with me, Berman?

BERMAN: I'm here.

BALDWIN: OK. Welcome back to EARLY START. We are 44 minutes here past the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman all in. Thanks for being with us.

BALDWIN: Good to know. Good to know.

This is something -- wow! This is a first account here of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden from someone who was there, so we think. A man who claims he was a member of the U.S. navy SEAL Team Six is coming out now with a book about some of the most thrilling 38 minutes in modern military history.

And just like the raid, no one saw this book coming. Its release date, September 11th of this year. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon. And Barbara, I mean, I thought this was entirely, you know, confidential. How is it even possible that he can write this book? And I imagine, it totally caught the Pentagon off guard.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it did catch them off guard. By all accounts, military officials tell us they did not know until the last few days that this book was in the works, and by all accounts it is by a Navy SEAL who was there. He is going to go by the name of Mark Owen (ph) as the author of this book, but they are saying that is not his real name.

That he, in fact, is changing his name for purposes of the book, changing the names and the descriptions of the other SEALs that he was with that night to preserve confidentiality and classification. Why is all indications the book is the real deal? Well, he's working with a well-known author, a man name Kevin Mower (ph), who is well known to the special operations community.

They believe this is the real deal. They just didn't know about it. He is expected to talk about being with that helicopter that crashed that night on the compound, about going in, about making the radio call back to Washington that Bin Laden had been killed.

The question, of course, is going to be when everyone finally sees the book, what is in it, how much detail the military is going to take a very close look, we are told, to make sure there is no classified information in it -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: But Barbara, once the book comes out, as you mentioned, all these private moments, that they thought would have been private moments, what about the other, you know, SEAL Team Six members who are still out and about? Are they fearful?

STARR: Well, look, this is very interesting. This is now the key question for the U.S. military. Since the Bin Laden raid, public fascination, everybody seems to be writing books about it. SEALs have acted in a Hollywood film called "Act of Valor." There is that website we've been reporting on where former SEALs are coming out in public and criticizing the amount of information out there.

Now, another one writing a book. Inside the SEAL community, inside the special operations community, a lot of concern about this, because you know, there are a lot of guys still out there on the line, being the quiet professional, that's their saying, who are not out there, not getting publicity, working frankly for very little money.

There are tragically widows out there, families of the fallen in the special ops community. What do they think about all of this? What do they think about so much publicity and so much money being made off what they do? Brooke.

BALDWIN: I'm sure we'll find out. I'm sure many of them will be talking when this book is released and then there's that film, that Kathryn Bigelow film, you and I know have talked about "Zero Dark 30" coming out after the election. Barbara Starr, thank you.

BERMAN: Such a great point she makes. What about the families of the --

BALDWIN: What about the family members? Are they OK with this?

BERMAN: And the publisher obviously expects this to sell well fly up the shells and printing a lot of copies.

Forty-seven minutes after the hour right now. Let's get you up to date on all the top stories. And Christine Romans is here for that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

BALDWIN: Hello. Good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): Right now, hurricane warning to tell you about in effect for Haiti and the Southern Dominican Republican. Tropical storm Isaac is moving through the Caribbean and Florida still in its path. It could hit by late Sunday or early Monday. Organizers for the Republican National Convention in Tampa have preparations under way.

Las Vegas gets a drenching. Flooding roadways and turning storm channels into raging rivers. Emergency crews had to respond to dozens of calls, you guys, yesterday for accidents and stranded drivers. Envy Energy reporting 14,000 customers lost power in Northeast Las Vegas for several hours. Power has since been restored to just about all customers there.

And next time you catch a flight, you may have even less wiggle room. JetBlue and Canada's West Jet say they're cutting about an inch of leg room on some of their non-premium seats. (INAUDIBLE). They say they're increasing leg rooms in higher priced sections. Oh, of course.

West Jet says it hopes the roomier seats will attract more business travelers. The changes are expected by the end of the year, you guys.

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BERMAN: Great.

BALDWIN: Thank you, tall lady.

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ROMANS (on-camera): It's hard to be tall on an airplane these days.

BALDWIN: Christine, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome. BALDWIN: Old meets new. If you love, you know, cool, hip, modern technology kind of like the iPad, but you are nostalgic for things of the past, i.e., a typewriter, there is a way to blend the best of both worlds. That's next.

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BALDWIN: Welcome back. Fifty-two minutes after the hour. Brooke Baldwin, John Berman. Good to see you. Here's what's trending on the web right now. You're going to love this.

BERMAN: I am. You're going to love this.

BALDWIN: Aha.

BERMAN: You don't even have to look at actual real stuff anymore. Why? Because LG is unveiling its new 84-inch ultra-definition.

BALDWIN: Eighty-four inches.

BERMAN: That's 84-inch ultra-definition flat screen TV. This can show eight million pixels per frame. That is four times the quality of current high-definition broadcasts, probably a 100 times more than your eye can actually see. It will go on sale next month for the low, low price of $22,000.

If you think it's pricey, it's even pricier considering there's nothing you can really watch on it yet. Although, the BBC did broadcast some on the (ph) Olympic events, I guess, it's called UHD.

BALDWIN: UHD. HD is so 2011.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: So, so over that, apparently. Here's your next iPad accessory all you hipsters (ph). An attachment that turns your tablet, look at this, into a typewriter. They're calling it the iTypewriter, invented by a student. A product designed a mechanical engineering at (INAUDIBLE) College in Scotland for people who prefer, you know, the clickity clackity, clickity clackity sounds, the feel of typing.

It doesn't actually connect to the iPad. It actually taps the keys on the touch screen and hammers out your document the old-fashioned way just like a typewriter.

BERMAN: -- crack to your screen.

BALDWIN: I do kind of like the typing. I like the noise.

BERMAN: It's going to sell like hot cakes, I tell you.

All right. She meant well, but this is what happened when an elderly parishioner took it upon herself to restore a classic fresco of Jesus.

(CROSSTALK) BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE). This is the first time I've seen this picture. It's worse than I thought. An 80-year-old neighbor of the parish acted in good faith, but she did not have permission to touch the 19th century painting. It's really kind of sad. It's the only known work of a local artist who painted it over 100 years ago.

BALDWIN: We were joking, sort of, in the commercial break. It's like, you know, Sistine Chapel (ph) that is way older, but say, ha, let me retouch that blue up there. Yes. Don't do it.

Prince Harry, this may also fall under the don't do it category, maybe not for some of you, raising a royal ruckus in Sin City and getting all kinds of late-night reaction. Watch.

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JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Good news today. It was announced today there will be a Hangover 3, this one starring Prince Harry.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: You know who I feel sorry for, any other guy at that party who was trying to meet women.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: I mean, you got the prince of England, you got Ryan Lochte with the abs. He's got the medals. You're walking on. Hi, I'm the Midwest sales manager for Wendy's.

(LAUGHTER)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Buckingham Palace today actually confirmed that the pictures are Harry, which was -- well, then asked that why -- we at least knew he was British.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: All right then. We're keeping a close eye in other news. Here's tropical storm Isaac. It is potentially heading towards Florida and the Republican National Convention. On the storm watch, a live report coming from the hurricane headquarters. That's at the top of the hour. Stay with us.

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