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Tracking Tropical Storm Isaac; Clinton Praises Obama in New Ad; Convention Threats?; Romney Counselor Cardinal to Give RNC Prayers; Obama on Akin: He "Somehow Missed Science Class"; Romney-Ryan Medicare Plan Deeply Unpopular; Penn State's Ex-President Speaks Out; Wildfire Emergency In Three California Counties; Navy SEAL Writes Book On Bin Laden Raid; Worst Ever West Nile Outbreak; Middle Class Falling Behind

Aired August 23, 2012 - 06:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): All eyes on Isaac. Tropical storm Isaac gaining strength and possibly headed towards Florida. If it becomes a full-blown hurricane by Monday morning, will the Republican National Convention be a washout?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Also we have now learned, this is from the CDC, this is now officially one of the biggest outbreak of the West Nile virus in the United States ever. More on that and how you can protect yourself, just ahead.

BERMAN: Scary for a lot of people.

He said he was there when Osama Bin Laden was killed. Now, a former Navy SEAL is writing a tell-all book about that historic raid.


BALDWIN (on-camera): Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Brooke Baldwin sitting in for Zoraida.

BERMAN (on-camera): I'm John Berman. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east. We are very glad you're with us. We are on storm watch this morning.

BALDWIN: We are on storm watch this morning.

BERMAN: Tropical storm Isaac is potentially headed towards Florida this morning. It's already soaking San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Isaac could become a Category 1 hurricane by Friday. It is threatening to reach Florida by Monday. And people there already stocking up, preparing for the storm.

In just about two hours now, Florida's governor, Rick Scott, he's going to give an update on that state's readiness plan. And if this becomes a hurricane by next week, Isaac certainly could create serious problems for the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Fifty thousand people are expected to visit the city during the event, including 15,000 journalists, including us.


BERMAN: For the latest on the forecast, we're going to go to Rob Marciano in the CNN Hurricane Headquarters, and Rob, we have new information this morning.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We do. The 5:00 a.m. advisory actually moves it a little bit to the south and weaken it somewhat initially, but now, it's in the Eastern Caribbean. Let's widen out the shot here. I give you a sense of the satellite picture.

Winds right now 40 miles an hour, westerly movement at 12 miles an hour. Right now, it's about 250 miles south of San Juan, of Puerto Rico.

And obviously, it will miss to the south, but some of the rain bands are showing up on the San Juan radar, mostly to the south and some of that getting into Hispaniola.

There are tropical storm warnings that have been posted for the northern islands of the Caribbean including Puerto Rico back through the U.S. Virgin Islands.

But the hurricane warnings have been saved and posted for the Island of Hispaniola. That's where it is expected the bulk of the heavier weather to be in the forms of some winds and some heavier rains as the storm begins to take shape.

It might not -- the strengthening of this is not going to be explosive. OK? It looks likes it is going to get through the Florida Keys and these computer models are beginning to consolidate.

So a little bit more confidence in at least the forecast track as we go through the next few days and it does continue to bring it to the Eastern Gulf of Mexico by Monday and Tuesday potentially towards Tampa. Guys, back up to you.

BERMAN: All right, Rob Marciano and of course, you were saying before that even if it is not a hurricane, even if it is not a direct hit on Tampa, Tampa is going to get weather next week. So that will affect politics for sure.


BERMAN: There is other politics news right now. We want to get you update on all of that. President Obama is releasing a new campaign ad that features former President Bill Clinton.

In it, Clinton says President Obama is building the economy from the ground up while Clinton says Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to go back to top-down economics. Look at this brand new ad out just seconds ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This election to me is about which candidate is more likely to return us to full employment. This is a clear choice. The Republican plan is to cut more taxes on upper income people and go back to deregulation. That's what got us in trouble in the first place. President Obama has a plan to rebuild America from the ground up.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Federal law enforcement gearing up for potential violence darkening the upcoming RNC in Tampa. An intelligence bulletin obtained by CNN warns of violence by anarchist groups possibly using IEDs, improvise explosive devices. It cites concerns over bridges and infrastructures specifically in both Tampa and where the DNC is going to be held in Charlotte.

BERMAN: We have some new details about the Republican convention cast this morning, if you will. People will be speaking. Mitt Romney has asked long time Mormon colleague to offer a prayer.

The presumptive nominee picked Kenneth Hutchens, a retired Massachusetts police chief to give the invocation on the final day of the festivities. Now Hutchens served as a counselor to Romney when he was an LDS church state president in Boston.

We've also learned that New York Cardinals Timothy Dolan will give the benediction at the conviction on the night Mitt Romney accepts the presidential nomination.

BALDWIN: Now President Obama mocking Missouri Republican Todd Akin over his quote, unquote, "legitimate rape remark." Here is the president. He was attending a campaign event in New York featuring current, former NBA great.

This was just yesterday and the president really took his best shot because what he did is told this crowd that while Congressman Akin sits on the House Science and Technology Committee, he, quote, "somehow missed science class."

BERMAN: The president trying to keep this in the news as long as he possibly can.


BERMAN: It's 3 minutes after the hour right now. If the new "New York Times" poll is any indication, the Romney/Ryan plan to reshape Medicare is deeply unpopular in three key swing states, Florida, Ohio and Ryan's home state of Wisconsin.

The new Quinnipiac University/"New York Times"/CBS News poll found about 6 in 10 likely voters in each state want Medicare to continue providing health insurance to older Americans the way it does now.

Now less than a third say Medicare should be changed in the future to assist in which government gives the elderly fixed amounts of money to buy health insurance or Medicare insurance, and that is what Mitt Romney has proposed.

BALDWIN: It is incredible to me how so, you know, we were talking so much about Medicare in the news and then what happened in Missouri with Todd Akin and it's totally shifted the conversation now.

BERMAN: Disappeared very quickly.

BALDWIN: Very quickly. It's 4 minutes past the hour here. Former Penn State President Graham Spanier 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.

He told ABC News when Jerry Sandusky acted suspiciously with a boy in the team showers. That was back in 2001, the notorious incident. He said he was only made aware that Sandusky engaged in quote, unquote, "horseplay."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn't you have a moral obligation to find out who that child was and find out what happened?

GRAHAM SPANIER, FORMER PRESIDENT, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY: I didn't conjure up anything more than what I would have thought of a simple horseplay. So no, I didn't think of anything more than that.


BALDWIN: Former FBI Chief Louis Freeh, he came out with his independent report in which Spanier has totally blasted his attorneys and blasted as well calling the university funded review a, quote, "flat out distortion of facts infused with bias and innuendo," end quote.

And accused Spanier of being complicit in the alleged cover up of the child sex abuse scandal. We're going to be talking to Jeff Toobin a little later this hour. He actually sat down with Spanier two days -- at Penn State talking about really where he is now.

BERMAN: Interesting, interesting stuff. Jeffrey has a lot of information. It's 5 minutes after the hour. The 28-year-old Floyd Lee Corkens 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 group's D.C. headquarters last week. The building manager was shot in the arm, but you remember he was able to wrestle the suspect to the ground. According to the criminal complaint, Corkens targeted the FRC because he didn't like its positions regarding the gay community.

BALDWIN: Governor Jerry Brown declares a state of emergency in three northern California counties because of wildfires there. These wildfires have burned just about 25,000 acres, destroyed 50 buildings as they're burning to the edge of the towns, precariously close to where people live.

The emergency declarations in Northern California, they do clear the way for the use of more state resources to fight the fires.

BERMAN: New developments in a case we're watching closely at CNN, the case of 21-year-old Chavis Carter who Arkansas police say fatally shot himself while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser.

Investigators say his Chavis' girlfriend told him Carter had called her from the car saying he had a gun with him and that he was scared. An autopsy report ruled Carter's death a suicide.

Police say they twice searched him for a weapon. Carter's family believe police fired the fatal shot and many questions do remain unanswered.

BALDWIN: Check this out. This is how she rolls, the NASA Mars rover "Curiosity" making its very first spin on the red planet, and there are now new pictures to prove this NASA's lead rover driver, by the way, 16 of them, say this trip roughly lasted 16 minutes.

It went about 15 feet, made a 100-degree turn in place and then backed up 8 feet, took more stunning pictures along the way. Quick trivia, on the wheels of the "Curiosity" rover is Morse code.

And translates to JPL, which is the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where they were doing the fist pumps and the high five's when it landed. So there you go, Morse code.

BERMAN: News you can use this morning. It's 7 minutes after the hour and a big controversy, an ex-Navy SEAL catching the Pentagon completely by surprise.

A man that claims he was a member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six is coming out with a book about the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, the title," No Easy Day."

It's release day September 11, 2012. The publisher says it is written under a pen name and the military says no one vetted it. The author it says is no longer on active duty. We will have a live report on this story coming up later in the hour.

BALDWIN: It is one of the biggest outbreaks of the West Nile virus in this country ever before. We're going to tell you what you need to know next.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It's 11 minutes after the hour. Glad you're with us. I'm John Berman.

BALDWIN: Good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin sitting in for Zoraida this morning.

And we have to talk to something I know a lot of you are talking about, the West Nile virus. In fact, we may be in the middle of the worst ever U.S. outbreak of West Nile virus period.

The Center for Disease Control saying it is seeing the highest number of cases ever reported by the third week of August and cases they are trending upward.

I want to bring in CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, who I know has been following this so closely and just in the last 24 hours we're now learning in terms of deaths Arkansas now added to this list. This is very serious.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is very serious because Brooke, this jump in just one week has been so dramatic. I want to show you those numbers.

Last week, the CDC was telling us about 26 deaths so far this West Nile season. This week now that number is up to 41. That's a big jump for just one week.

Now as far as illnesses go, 693 last week and now that number is 1,118, and Brooke, most states are reporting some West Nile cases, but they're really focused on a couple of states.

There are five states that are the hot spots, and so those would be South Dakota, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas has been the epicenter of the outbreak -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: So what I'm wondering. I have a dog. Let's say I go out in the evening, Elizabeth, I'm walking my dog, you know, 10 minutes later mosquitoes love me so I will have five different bites. How frightened should I be?

COHEN: You know, we want to put this in perspective. I understand why mosquitoes love you because are you so sweet. You are standing there, and you have all of these mosquitoes around you.

BALDWIN: They love me.

COHEN: If you have a chance, count them. Probably only about 1 percent of them have West Nile virus, Brooke, that's how unusual this is. Even so, that's not good.

Let's say you got bit by one of those West Nile mosquitoes, 80 percent chance that you would not have any symptoms at all. You would be totally fine and wouldn't get sick.

Twenty percent chance that you would get mild symptoms like a fever or nausea and only 1 out of 150 people have paralysis, coma or die. Those people will most likely are going to be over the age of 50.

BALDWIN: OK, so 1 in 150 people with the severe symptoms. I know talking to the mayor of Dallas. He's wearing his Deet. He says we all should be wearing our Deet. Tell me the four D's.

COHEN: Right. The four D's, the first one as he said is Deet, get a repellent with Deet. Make sure it's on the ingredient list. The second thing you want to do is dress in long sleeves and long pants when you're out there with your dog and the mosquitoes.

Also at dusk and dawn be especially careful because that's when mosquitoes like to come out and party and also drain standing water. Mosquitoes love to breed there, things like kiddie pools, bird fountains, get rid of that water.

BALDWIN: OK, Elizabeth Cohen dually noted. Thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

BERMAN: A lot of questions and a lot of people talking about this, this morning. A lot of people in the country concerned. It's 14 minutes after the hour right now. We want to get you up to speed on all the headlines and Christine Romans is here for that.



ROMANS: Tropical storm Isaac ready to make a mess of the Republican National Convention. It's headed toward Florida and it could make landfall as a hurricane by Monday. Florida's governor will announce readiness plans in about two hours. We'll keep you posted.

The "Dark Knight" massacre suspect James Holmes due back in court this afternoon. The judge hearing arguments about whether the suspect's university records can be turned over to prosecutors. Prosecutors are seeking copies of 100 pages of education records. Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others in the Aurora theater shootings.

Jerry Springer, of course -- you know Jerry Springer, no stranger to controversy, the talk show host and former Cincinnati mayor talked politics last night with Piers Morgan and he still thinks Missouri Senate hopeful Todd Akin has a shot.


JERRY SPRINGER, TALK SHOW HOST: He is not going to step down because he is going to be a sympathetic figure for the far right within Missouri. So I'm not sure he is out of it, in other words, I still think he has a chance of winning as crazy as it was what he said.


ROMANS: Springer also said he thinks Mitt Romney is irrelevant, that the election is actually between President Obama and Paul Ryan because the House already passed Ryan's budget.

A Virginia college student bullied because he's gay got a free car makeover from his local repair shop. Jordan Addison's car got new tires, new paint job, tinted windows, security system, and a stereo. His car was vandalized four times between March and May and was keyed with homophobic slurs and even the word die.

The shop spent more than 100 hours on repairs that would cost more than $10,000.

A free makeover for his car, that is cool.

BALDWIN: That is cool. Thank you, Christine.

The middle class, we've been talking about this, you've been talking about this, it has been shrinking. New evidence showing it's falling behind. That's next.

And for an expanded look at all of our top stories, which we know you need to know, go to our blog

Sixteen minutes past the hour. Back in a flash.


BERMAN: We are minding your business this morning.

There is a new study out from the Pew Research Center. It's very interesting. It talks about the middle class and it shows the middle class is falling behind the past 10 years.

Christine Romans is here. She's been diving into this very big report.

BALDWIN: It's big, very big.

BERMAN: What's inside?

ROMANS: It's called fewer, poorer, gloomier, the lost decade of the middle class, the end. No, that's what it is it kind of really quantifies what's happened to all of you and all of you are saying what happened to the middle class in the country.

Middle class families are poorer, lower incomes than 10 years ago and that's the first time this happened since World War II.

So, what we've lived there here, the Great Recession, with capital letters and has its own name, recessions usually don't. The Great Depression is the only one that did. Now, your Great Recession does, too. Middle class net worth, let's take a look at this. They put this into pretty stark relief. You can see middle class network is down over the next decade.

I will keep vamping here and tell you bring up the middle class net worth. I don't see it. It's not there. OK. Well, it goes like this, OK? And then the middle class income also has fallen pretty dramatically, 69,487 is the middle class net income. That's down from a peak above 72 grand.

And middle class lifestyle -- this is what I thought was pretty interesting -- 85 percent of you say it's more difficult now to maintain your lifestyle compared with 10 years ago, 85 percent saying it's harder to stay in the middle class.

Now, who is to blame? This is so interesting as well. Most -- I mean, almost two-thirds of the middle class blames Congress. Congress and congressional policies over the past decade or so. Congress receives a lot of the blame. Banks and financial institutions, more than half of you say blame the banks.

Large corporations and their policies for shareholder value, 47 percent of you.

The Bush administration, 44 percent of you say it is their fault.

Foreign competition, 39 percent.

The Obama administration, 34 percent.

BERMAN: Interesting.

ROMANS: It's interesting. I think this is really interesting politically overall.

A couple of things I found really fascinating. Two third of the middle class still say you can -- with hard work, you can get ahead. You're rewarded for hard work in this country. I think that's important. Also, the number one finding about education, it is the single most critical factor for staying in the middle class is a college education.

BALDWIN: College, college, college.

ROMANS: You know, and it's hard when you tell this to Gen Y people, because there's all these other studies that show they're working crazy low pay jobs. They're not getting jobs in their field and they're really the lost generation.

But over and over, you look at longer term the right investment in a college education is what is so critical, so critical to stay in the middle class.

BALDWIN: And you were telling us quickly a woman in her early 40s is the --

ROMANS: When you look at the demographics, it is like married women with a college education have the most financial security, married couples. Other studies have shown that it is now men who gain the advantage from marrying, not women, which is interesting. For years, it was women who married and got financial security and they were sort of the net beneficiary financially of marriage. Now it is men who are marrying.

There is really interesting changes going on. This report, the lost decade of the middle class, it was a rough decade. Inside that report there is I think there's some road -- some sign posts for how we can try to stay in the middle class and strengthen the middle class.

BERMAN: A lot to know in there. Is there one more thing we need to know?

ROMANS: The one thing you need to know about your money for today, stock futures are trading higher. Minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting show it is weighing options to stimulate the economy.

Those big Fed people sitting around that board are very closely watching what's happening and what has been a subpar recovery, trying to figure out if they need to do something.

So, we'll continue watching that. Futures are higher.

BALDWIN: OK. Christine, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: It sounds like a bit of a movie but it was very much reality for one family. How they got stuck in an airport. How? For five days.

BERMAN: Five days?

BALDWIN: Five days. Their story is next.

Also, if you're leaving the house right now, heading off to work, maybe taking the kids to school, you can watch us any time on your desktop or your mobile phone. Go to

Twenty-four minutes past the hour.


BALDWIN: Florida -- Florida could be in for a beating here from tropical storm Isaac. All eyes on this picture, a hurricane might, let me italicize, bold, might be hitting Tampa, the site of the Republican National Convention that starts next Monday. That's not the only storm brewing for the GOP.

BERMAN: Speaking out -- Penn State's former president is giving his side of the story and claiming he had nothing to do with the Jerry Sandusky cover-up.

BALDWIN: And, look, who loves being at the airport for too long? Imagine this family stuck there for five days. One family's nightmare ahead.

BERMAN: Five days.

BALDWIN: Five days.


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

BALDWIN: I'm Brooke Baldwin, sitting in for Zoraida.

It is 28 minutes past the hour.

Let's talk Isaac, shall we?

BERMAN: Yes. BALDWIN: I don't know if we're bringing red storm team jackets as we cover the RNC.

Well, here's what I can tell you. Look at these pictures. This is San Juan, already the rain really coming down here. Isaac heading towards Florida this morning, winds 45 miles per hour. Look at the map with me, because you can see right now Isaac could become a category 1 hurricane by Friday.

It is threatening to reach Florida by early Monday morning. Folks in the state are already stocking up. They are preparing for the storm here, and just a head's up, about 90 minutes from now, Florida Governor Rick Scott, he will be giving an update on his state's readiness plan and the big if -- if it becomes a hurricane by next week, Isaac could, of course, soak the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Let's talk to Rob Marciano once again. He's following all of these updates. I know so many people are following them as well as we mentioned 15,000 journalists potentially covering this next week in Tampa.

Rob, talk to me. What do you see?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, they've already gotten soaked. They have had a ton of rain in Tampa so far this week. And this could bring more.

So, here is the latest: winds of 40 miles per hour, westerly movement 12 miles per hour, it's about 250 miles south of Puerto Rico and it's weakened a little over night but the overall picture looks to be fairly healthy. We've got tropical storm warnings that are posted for the northern islands of the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, getting some rain bands in there now.

And then hurricane warnings now have been posted in anticipation of this thing strengthening for the island of Hispaniola. The computer models have become a little bit more clustered. Meaning, they are getting tightly packed, which gives us a little bit more confidence as we get towards the later part of this period. We do think it's going to go over Hispaniola, including Haiti. We saw hundreds of thousands of people there without shelter and we could see 10 to 15 inches of rain so that's certainly a big story there. It gets over Cuba into the Florida straits.

And then we got a lot of warm water here and conditions get a little bit more favorable, and probably will become a hurricane somewhere in this direction late Sunday into Monday and then getting into the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and of course Tampa is in the cone, the Florida panhandle, potentially New Orleans if it shifts to the west. But as far as the red jacket is concerned, Brooke, you may want to pack that.

At the least, you get a little rain and wearing the color red at the Republican National Convention, a little bit more access, you know?

BALDWIN: I feel like if I bring it, it won't happen. I am of that belief. So, we shall see.

MARCIANO: Yes. Typically that does happen. So, pack it.

BALDWIN: Rob, thank you.

BERMAN: So Florida counting on Brooke's red jacket and also on the vast preparations, as Florida Governor Rick Scott is expected to speak at 8:00 this morning about that state's preparations ahead of Isaac. Convention organizers and city officials are setting up emergency call centers. They're ramping up safety precautions around the city.

And, of course, Mitt Romney is still weathering a very different storm today. He is trying to deflect the controversy around fellow Republican Todd Akin as he prepares to accept his nomination.

Joining me to discuss this is Alice Stewart, Republican analyst and former spokeswoman for Rick Santorum's 2012 campaign.

Alice, thanks for being with us. Thanks for tweeting all about us this morning also. It's great to se you.


BERMAN: I want to ask you about comments that President Obama made last night at a fundraiser here in New York City, because it seems to me that he is doing what he can to try to keep this Todd Akin story in the news. To this fundraiser during the speech he said about Akin, he said, "This is an individual who sits on a House Committee on Science and Technology but somehow missed science class." Making light, I suppose, a little bit of this controversy, but there seems to be some strategy behind this.

Why do you think the president wants to keep this in the news and do you think it's effective, Alice?

STEWART: Well, he wants to keep it in the news because he wants to keep his record out of the news. The Democrats and liberals are going to continue to talk about this.

I can tell you I was at a fundraiser in Little Rock last night with Governor Romney, and he talked about what people across this country are concerned with. He talked about free market policies and putting faith and confidence back in our economic system so that this country can grow, and he understands what people in the room there in Arkansas and across the country need.

They need confidence in this economy and they understand it's not big government. It's free market enterprise that's going to help things grow and that's what he is doing. He is taking the message from one state to the next to the next and it is being effective.

BERMAN: But, Alice, this controversy does raise some questions about the stance that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have had on abortion and in some cases, Paul Ryan's record seems very similar to that of Todd Akin. Is there a difference on the issue of abortion between Paul Ryan and Todd Akin? STEWART: The Romney-Ryan ticket has made it quite clear -- they disagree with the statements. They say they're very irresponsible and disrespectful. They're a pro-life ticket but they do support abortion in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. They said that repeatedly.

But they're going to do with what they do best. They're going to stick with the issues that the voters out there are talking about. They're in a dialog with the people across this country and they want to talk about jobs and the economy.

BERMAN: Just to be clear, Paul Ryan has made clear it is the position of the ticket which he will support, of course, but his position in the past is he does not support exceptions for rape or incest. That's true, correct?

STEWART: The Romney-Ryan ticket -- as I said, the Romney-Ryan ticket supports abortions in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother.

BERMAN: I give you credit, Alice, for being on message here.

I am glad you're here this morning. There is an ad that came out from the Obama team using Bill Clinton. I want to take a quick look at this ad.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This election to me is about which candidate is more likely to return us to full employment. This is a clear choice. The Republican plan is to cut more taxes on upper income people and go back to deregulation. That's what got us in trouble in the first place. President Obama has a plan to rebuild America from the ground up.


BERMAN: Alice, what I'm curious about is, as a Republican, is the use of Bill Clinton somehow threatening? How does he affect voters in a way that may be challenging to Republicans?

STEWART: Well, I don't think it will be a challenge to Republicans. What it will do, it will serve as a reminder to the fact we had economic prosperity during the Clinton years and certainly don't have that now. In contrast to that ad, the RNC put out an ad yesterday talking about it never happened, it was Bill Clinton, his own words 16 years ago when the welfare including work program was instilled and he talked about the importance of the government providing opportunity but in turn you had some responsibility.

Well, President Obama has gutted that, and people don't like that.

So there is going to be a strong contrast between how President Clinton was able to bring about economic prosperity and how President Obama has brought about economic despair.

BERMAN: Alice Stewart, thank you very much for joining us. We will see you on Twitter.

STEWART: Sounds good. Thanks, John.

BERMAN: All right. CNN, of course, is gearing up for special coverage of the Republican National Convention.

Monday morning, our shows will broadcast live from Tampa. And Monday night, you have to join us again for live coverage of the convention from Tampa, Florida. That begins at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

BALDWIN: In other news here, 35 minutes past the hour.

British Prime Minister David Cameron follows President Obama's lead warning Syria against threatening to use chemical weapons in this ongoing slaughter, this ongoing civil war, saying it could trigger a military response. They along with France's president they're calling on more countries to step up the aid. A network of opposition groups says at least 73 people have been killed in fighting across the country today.

And even after a Supreme Court ruling, the fight over Arizona's tough immigration crackdown is not over. Listen to this. A federal judge is now looking at arguments over the whole so-called "show me your papers" provision in that law, the part that requires police to check immigration status of anyone deemed suspicious.

Now, opponents say they have new evidence that it is, quote-unquote, "infected with racial discrimination" and say they have e-mails from the law's author to show it was racially motivated.

"Show me your papers" was the only major part of that law, SB-1070, that was upheld by the nation's highest court.

BERMAN: All right. This is a story we almost can't believe. Stranded in Salt Lake, a family of four -- believe it or not -- have been stuck at the airport in Salt Lake City for five days now.

BALDWIN: Five days.

BERMAN: Five days.

The family is flying with buddy passes. These passes, they give you a big discount but they don't guarantee you seats. You have to be at the terminal hoping there is extra room and right now the problem is there is none.


CURTIS SAXTON, STUCK AT SALT LAKE AIRPORT FOR 5 DAYS: Just sitting. We just sit and walk around and wait for our flights. We have been here for five days and we're still tomorrow morning, we have been here for every flight, rolled over every flight and still at the bottom of that list.

NICOLE BENNETT, STUCK AT SALT LAKE AIRPORT FOR 5 DAYS: There is a lot of people walking by and staring at you and kind of laughing at you and it doesn't feel very good.


BERMAN: I bet it doesn't feel very good after five days. Airport officials say this family has refused offers of lodging and vouchers for food.

BALDWIN: You have, what, two kids, right?


BALDWIN: Can you imagine schlepping your two kids back and forth trying to entertain them for five days waiting for a deal?

BERMAN: I could not last in an airport for five minutes with them let alone five days.

BALDWIN: Well, he is accused of covering up the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Former Penn State University President Graham Spanier is speaking out about the past, and also about his own shocking tales of child abuse. He talked to Jeff Toobin. Toobin went out there for two days to Pennsylvania. We're going to get insight on what he shared with our senior legal analyst, next.


BALDWIN: Forty-one minutes past the hour on Thursday. Welcome back to EARLY START. I am Brooke Baldwin.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. We're very glad you're with us.

There is some big news today. The former president of Penn State is finally speaking out. He is addressing accusations that he concealed allegations against Jerry Sandusky.

Graham Spanier is not charged with a crime but he was cited in that report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh who says Spanier empowered Sandusky to attract victims to campus, ultimately failing to protect children for more than a decade.

BALDWIN: Obviously, all kinds of questions about what it was he knew and when he knew it, especially after this very notorious incident, the 2001 shower incident Sandusky spotted in the shower with a young child. He of course was asked about that from multiple sources including last night on ABC.


REPORTER: Didn't you have a moral obligation to find out who that child was and find out what happened?

GRAHAM SPANIER, FORMER PENN STATE PRESIDENT: I didn't conjure up anything more than I would have thought of simple horseplay. So, no, I didn't think of anything more than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Horseplay he says. Jeff Toobin also sat down with Spanier for this extensive interview. You can read this interview on how many pages here, "The New Yorker".

BERMAN: It's on the Web site,


And I just want to begin with, so you're there, two days. Two days more or less, five hours, this whole discourse, back and forth.

Just right now, what is his mindset?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: His mindset is: I am unjustly accused. He feels like, look, Jerry Sandusky was an evil, evil man, but I didn't know he was abusing children, and more to the point, it is not fair to assume I should have known.

I mean, that's the heart of the controversy about the management of Penn State is what should they have known about what Jerry Sandusky was doing and he goes through chapter and verse about why he should not have known.

BALDWIN: You ask him specifically about the two different incidents and you have in incident in 1998 where Sandusky took this 11-year-old boy back to Penn State, back to the showers, mother found out about this, disturbed, that was never prosecuted by the D.A.

2001, that was the big Mike McQueary, assistant -- grad assistant there, describing it in horrific detail in the grand jury report, the rhythmic slapping sounds in the shower. You asked him specifically about that incident. What did he say?

TOOBIN: Well, that's the key incident in this whole story. You know, Mike McQueary with the red hair and he tells the dramatic story in the grand jury and he tells at trial of walking into the shower and catching a glimpse of this horrible scene.

What Spanier says is that as the story was reported to me, Mike McQueary's name was mentioned and it is just someone saw Sandusky engaging in horseplay.

BALDWIN: Horseplay.

TOOBIN: Horseplay. That's all I heard about.

Now, you can ask the question and I certainly asked the question, what did you think horseplay was? He says, I don't know. I just was told horseplay and that's all I knew.

That did not trigger the kind of suspicion that the detailed horrible story that McQueary told to the jury would have triggered. But that -- his story is all I knew was horseplay and so I did not treat it as if it were a sex abuse issue.

BALDWIN: So part of that is this e-mail. This is from 2001, in terms of how the university should handle this incident, right?

TOOBIN: Right.

BALDWIN: So, he writes -- and he has been very much so criticized because of this -- "The approach is acceptable to me. The only downside for us is if the message isn't heard and acted upon. We then become vulnerable for not having reported it."

But then, he goes on, "The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed." Now, I want to play what he told you about that e-mail, specifically. Let's roll that.


SPANIER: I think what people -- many people want to read into it was it was humane for us not to turn him in for being a known child predator. But I never, ever heard anything about child abuse or sexual abuse or my antenna raised up enough to even suspect that.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Now, remember, this is 2001.


TOOBIN: Jerry Sandusky is no longer an employee of Penn State. He left.

BALDWIN: He'd been out for a couple of years.

TOOBIN: He'd been out for a couple of years.


TOOBIN: And so, their plan was reported to the Second Mile, the charity where Sandusky worked.

BALDWIN: And let them handle it.

TOOBIN: And he says, look, report it. There was no crime to report as far as I was concerned. So, my antenna was not up. I think we can all agree now, his antenna should have been up.

BERMAN: Quickly, Jeffrey, is he trying to save his reputation or save himself from going to jail here?

TOOBIN: I think his reputation, John. I mean, I don't think there is a criminal case based on the evidence I'd seen to be made against Spanier.

BALDWIN: You don't?

TOOBIN: I don't -- now, his two top aides, Curley and Schultz, they are under indictment now, and they are going to go to trial. Spanier is not charged. He's still exposed. He could be charged. But I think it's really about his reputation at this point. This guy was one of the most prominent people in all of higher education a year-and-a-half ago, and he's in total disgrace now and he's starting to fight back.

BALDWIN: He still has tenure, correct?

TOOBIN: He has tenure. He's a sociology professor at Penn State and he remains that way.

BERMAN: All right. Jeffrey Toobin, our legal analyst --

TOOBIN: And you can read the whole thing at

BERMAN: It is worth it. Trust me.

TOOBIN: All right.

BALDWIN: It is. Toobin, thank you.

It is 46 minutes past the hour. Let's get you update on the morning's top stories, including Isaac.


BALDWIN (voice-over): There he is, tropical storm Isaac churning through the Caribbean, Florida, very much so still in its path. It could be a hurricane by Friday, could hit Florida by early Monday. That's what so many are fearful of. Organizers for the Republican National Convention in Tampa, they say they already have preparations under way.

BERMAN (voice-over): A top adviser to Ohio governor, John Kasich, under fire for a comment about the fight over early voting in the state. Critics calling them flat out racist. Doug Preisse, the Franklin County Republican chairman told the "Columbus Dispatch," "I guess, I really actually feel we shouldn't contort the voting process to accommodate the urban African-American voter turnout machine."

The executive director of the Ohio Republican Party told the paper that Preisse saw his comments were off the record.

BALDWIN: How would you like to break into a home and, you know, bump into this guy, LL Cool J, the incredibly buff rapper and actor actually scuffled with a burglar try to break into his Los Angeles home early yesterday morning. Police say he was able to take down the suspect and physically detain him until they arrived.

LL Cool J shares the home with his wife. They have four children, and one of his daughters actually was the one who called police while LL made sure this guy wasn't going anywhere.


BERMAN (on-camera): Well-equipped to deal with this situation.

BALDWIN (on-camera): Well-equipped to deal. SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- attack a man who's written a workout book. This is what I say.


BALDWIN: Mama said knock you out, don't mess with him.

BERMAN: Soledad is here. tell us what's on "Starting Point."

BALDWIN: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: We're going to continue to talk about this hurricane. Good morning to both of you. Obviously, hurricane warnings in effect for Haiti as Isaac is turning closer to the state of Florida. We're expecting to hear from Florida's governor, Rick Scott. He's going to be holding a briefing. We'll take that live during our program right at the top of the hour to find out how they're preparing there for Isaac.

Also, we'll talk to the FEMA administrator, Craig Fugate. He'll join us live. And as always, we'll check in with meteorologist, Rob Marciano, who gives us the forecast for Isaac. That path looks all morning long.

Also this morning, the backlash against Congressman Todd Akin continues. We're going to talk to a woman who has an incredibly personal story that she is now sharing. Her name is Shauna Pruitt (ph), and she says she became pregnant after she was raped as a 21- year-old in college. She ended up keeping the baby.

Her ordeal, though, doesn't end there. We'll tell you what she has to say to Congressman Akin (INAUDIBLE) right at the top of the hour as we start "Starting Point" at seven o'clock.

BALDWIN: See you then. Thank you.

And he says he was there when Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. Now, this former Navy SEAL, member of a SEAL Team six writing the book about the historic raid. We'll take you live to the Pentagon and see what they're saying about that next.


BALDWIN: It is the first account of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden from someone who was there, we think. A man who claims he was a member of the U.S. Navy SEAL team, SEAL Team six, now coming out with a book about some of the most thrilling 38 minutes in modern military history, and just like the raid, no one saw the book coming.

Its release date, September 11th of this year. Barbara Starr working the story for us from the Pentagon. And what the heck is the Pentagon thinking about this, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, they said they didn't know until the last few days that this book was in the works. Here it is. Here is the cover of the book. No easy day by the Navy SEAL who calls himself Mark Owen. That is not his real name. We are told he is using a pen name working with another author who is well known to the U.S. military and said to be very respected.

So, by all accounts, this is the real deal, a Navy SEAL who was on the mission that night who will talk about the helicopter that crashed, talk about making the call back to headquarters, that they got Bin Laden. It is expected to be chockfull of details and sort of the human angle, if you will, about himself, his career, what it takes to be Navy SEAL, all of these things expected to be in the book.

But look, what everybody wants to see, what everybody wants to read, what was it like that night? Did he possibly come face-to-face with Osama Bin Laden? The big question classification. The military says the book was not submitted for classification review.

They don't know if there's any inadvertent disclosures of classified information in there. They say they would very much like to see a manuscript -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Meantime, I can't help but wonder about the family members of some of these SEAL Team Six and also some of these guys themselves. What are they saying, anything?

STARR: Well, you know, that's really a question that is now dogging the special operations community across the board, and including army special ops, air force, marines. These people have the motto that they are the so-called quiet professionals. They don't talk about what they do. But now, everybody seems to be talking.

You know, there are Hollywood movies. There are websites. There are people out on TV talking about people who shouldn't be talking about this. So, all of this getting a lot of attention. Key question, morale.

What does it mean to those who are still serving very quietly and not making a lot of money doing it and the families and even, of course, the widows of those who have fallen in battle, they're not getting a lot of publicity these days.

BALDWIN: Yes. I just can't help but think about them right along with you. Barbara Starr, thank you so much, at the Pentagon for us this morning.

STARR: Sure.

BERMAN: Right. Fifty-five minutes after the hour right now. Coming up, our "Best Advice," this time, comes from a "Lawless" actor, Dane Dehaan. Stay with us.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. It's just before the hour now.

BALDWIN: And we wrap it up as always with "Best Advice" from Christine Romans.

ROMANS: Yes. Well, it's not my best advice. Today's "Best Advice" comes from Dane Dehaan, star of the new movie, "Lawless."


DANE DEHAAN, ACTOR, "LAWLESS": The best advice I've ever received is when someone shows you who they are, believe them.


ROMANS: When someone shows you who they are, believe them. It's very deep. It's a Rorschach test of advice. You can see whatever you want in their eyes.

BERMAN: Listen to these things like Dane Dehaan if you can understand them.


BERMAN: I will.

ROMANS: Oh, my goodness!

BERMAN: That is EARLY START for this morning. I'm John Berman.

BALDWIN: I'm Brooke Baldwin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.