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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Tropical Storm Isaac Threatens Haiti; "What I Learned at Bain Capital"; Lance Armstrong Losing His Legacy?

Aired August 24, 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: Another disaster. It could be unleashed on Haiti as tropical storm Isaac rushes towards that island nation -- 400,000 people in tents with no help, no information. Florida could be next.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Also, this is news -- a lot of people are waking up to this morning -- he could be banned for life, stripped of seven Tour de France titles. Lance Armstrong ends his fight officially here against the doping accusations.

BERMAN: Big news.

And a tropical storm is not the only thing threatened to rain on the GOP parade, and Akin controversy and a flood of Bain documents -- can Mitt Romney rise above this?

Good morning. Happy Friday to you.

BERMAN: How are you doing? Hanging in there.

BALDWIN: We're hanging in there together. I'm Brooke Baldwin, sitting in once gain for Zoraida. She's off today.

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

We're going to begin with tropical storm Isaac. He is gaining power this morning, churning towards Hispaniola. And it could develop into a hurricane sometime today.

It's headed right for Haiti where hundreds of thousands of people still live in tents after the devastating 2010 earthquake. The storm has already pounded Puerto Rico with rain and Isaac is projected to head towards Florida next as a hurricane by Monday.

It's expected to hit just in time for the Republican national convention in Tampa. We have a lot of questions about where it's going and what's new. We want to go right to Rob Marciano at the CNN hurricane headquarters who is pouring over fresh data in just literally seconds ago.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, John. Yes, the 5:00 advisory is out now from the National Hurricane Center. One thing about this storm that looks impressive on satellite as far as size, concern, the structure of it. You know, it's got spiral cloud formation especially on the east side, it's got some good help. But the inner core of this thing, the hurricane hunters are going in and out of this thing, it's just not very healthy -- 45 mile an hour winds. So, it strengthened a little bit overnight but not a whole lot. It's right now, it's about 160 miles south of Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic and 230 miles south of Port-au-Prince, moving to the west at 15 miles an hour.

So, let's talk about where we think this thing is going. Here's the forecast track. Probably not become a hurricane at this point before it hits Haiti. But that really isn't not the main concern. It's the rainfall that these things can dump, and even a tropical storm can dump almost as much rain, especially on an island nation with the mountains that they have deforested, like Haiti, that's going to be an issue with Cuba as well.

So, tonight Haiti. Tomorrow afternoon, Cuba. Then the Florida keys as we get towards Sunday afternoon and Sunday night, probably a tropical storm. We're not sure what the structure of this thing is going to be when it gets through Hispaniola and when it gets through Cuba.

So, we're going to see how it strengthens once it gets into the Florida straits and the Gulf of Mexico. Here is another nudge to the left. So that takes Tampa at least out of a direct hit or the probability of a direct hit. It brings New Orleans into play, but certainly the Florida panhandle.

But looks like -- this is pretty big, John and Brooke. So, even if it doesn't hit Tampa directly, it's going to have effects in the way of winds and rain and waves along the beach.

BERMAN: That's exactly what I wanted to ask, Rob. Despite the nudge, as you said over there, how close does it have to get to Tampa to be a real problem there?

MARCIANO: It really depends on how big and how strong it is when it comes off of Cuba. But it's going to be on the right side of the system as we all know typically a mature storm, the east side, the eastern flank of this and that's where the strongest winds are. And also in this scenario, that's where the threat of tornadoes comes into play when it makes landfall as well.

So, Tampa is certainly not out of the cone of uncertainty and in the threat zone as far as weather goes.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks for that, Rob -- Rob Marciano with the hurricane center down in Atlanta. Thanks.

BALDWIN: Nudge, a highly technical meteorological term this morning.

Seriously, though, Rob is mentioning probably won't be a hurricane before it hits Haiti. Still, though, there is virtually no sign of preparations for Isaac in Haiti. People there especially vulnerable, they're still recovering from that deadly devastating 2010 earthquake. Hundreds of thousands still in the make shift camps.

Gary Tuchman is live for us this morning in Port-au-Prince.

And, Gary, even though it may not be a hurricane as it hits, how prepared are people there?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here's the thing, Brooke, there are still roughly 400,000 homeless people in Haiti from the 2010 earthquake. Put them in perspective, there are 10 million people who live in this country. So 4 percent of the entire population is living in tents and shanties. That's equivalent 4 percent of the United States. That is the equivalent of 12 million people in the United States living in tents.

That gives you an idea how big a problem it is for people that don't have TV, don't have Internet, don't have roofs over their head.

And we have to make it clear, there are preparations here. I was watching local TV coverage here a short time ago about tropical storm Isaac. People who have TVs, people who have roofs over their heads are going into shelters. There are shelters in churches. There are shelters at police stations.

But the people who live in the tents, they don't have TVs. They don't have Internet. They're not getting the word.

We were informing people yesterday about the approach of Isaac. Even they we're telling people that Isaac is coming, most of the people we talked to had no intention of leaving their home. This is all they have is the tents and these shanties. They don't want to leave. They're afraid if they do leave. They're afraid that if they do leave, and they come back, someone will take their place.

So what we're seeing and what we know is that tens of thousands of people, maybe even more, will be staying in their tents and staying in their shanties when the storm comes ashore -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: That's -- wow. So you and the CNN crew are breaking the news to the folks who do not have these TVs.

If they're still sitting there, because they don't want to leave their spaces in these tents, how do they weather the storm there?

TUCHMAN: Here's the thing. I mean, there's no practical way to prepare. There is not enough space.

How do they weather the storm? We have absolutely no idea what they'll do. Rob just pointed it out.

This is going to be a tropical storm. Winds will be strong. They're not going to be hurricane force. But there could be up to 12 inches of rain.

In this country with the mountains, with the deforestation and the mudslides, it will be devastating if they get that much rain.

BALDWIN: And again, just reminder, the lay of the land in Haiti. There are obviously, you know, roads not many, not very well paved. We're talking 12 inches in certain areas. That's very difficult for folks, mudslides, et cetera. We'll be watch right with you.

Gary Tuchman up very early with us this morning from Haiti -- appreciate it.

And coming up next hour, we're going to speak with Monroe County Emergency Management Director Irene Toner about storm preparation, so much focus -- in Florida, excuse me. So much focus, I know, in Tampa. But that county in particular and that includes the Florida Keys, that is the first place this storm whether it's a storm or hurricane will be hitting Florida.

BERMAN: Six minutes after the hour right now.

And, Brooke, you said. We're all waking up to some huge news today about a guy who has become an American icon, Lance Armstrong, who overnight said enough is enough. The seven-time Tour de France winner says he'll no longer fight charges brought by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, USADA.

Armstrong issued this statement on his Web site overnight saying, "I've been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven tours since 1999. The toll this has taken on my family and my work for the foundation and on me leads to where I am today -- finished with this nonsense."

Now, the Anti-Doping Agency responded quickly saying it will ban Armstrong for life and strip him of his titles, all his Tour de France titles.

Now, Armstrong disputes that the doping agency has the power to do this. He says he will sue them if they do. But the head of USADA says, 'That cycling union is bound to recognize our decision and impose it."

What this means is later today, the U.S. anti-doping agency will say Lance Armstrong was not the winner of seven Tour de France titles.

BALDWIN: And cannot compete again in his lifetime.

BERMAN: And cannot compete again ever.

Now, again, this will have to go through a complicated appeals process probably overseas. But it's epic. It means for Lance Armstrong, what essentially means is he did not want to go into a hearing where USADA says as many of his former teammates were going to testify that he used performance enhancing drugs.

BALDWIN: And he says, you know, he is doing it for his family, wants to get more involved in his organization. But still, he's a hero, I know to so many people and perhaps that will diminish just a tad the luster that is lancing Armstrong. We shall see.

Meantime, 21 years for killing 77 people. Andes Behring Breivik, the man who admitted to last year's Norway rampage declared sane and sentenced this morning to Norway's maximum sentence. Maximum in Norway is 21 years in prison. He killed eight people in that bombing in Oslo then killed 69 more, mostly teenagers remember in that political camp on that island. It was a shooting spree last July.

BERMAN: Just 21 years.

There are new details this morning about James Holmes' alarming behavior before the movie theater massacre in Colorado. Prosecutors say the Aurora shooting suspect had been banned from the University of Colorado campus six weeks before the movie theater rampage that left those 12 people dead.

Yesterday, they asked a judge to give them access to Holmes' University of Colorado records. Arapahoe County prosecutor Karen Pearson (ph) says that while a student there, Holmes made threats that had been reported to police.

BALDWIN: Mitt Romney says lessons learned during his time heading up bane capital prepared him for the presidency.

Romney makes these claims this morning in an op-ed published online by "The Wall Street Journal." Another Web site, Gawker, is giving insiders a look at Romney's time at Bain. It has put out hundreds of pages of confidential documents under the titled, the Bain files.

BERMAN: The Navy SEAL who has written the first inside account of the Osama bin Laden raid. He has been identified by two news organizations. Now, CNN will not reveal his name. That is at the request of the Pentagon.

The member of SEAL Team 6 is now retired, wrote the book, "No Easy Day" under the pseudonym, I don't have the pseudonym. The military is worrying that identifying could jeopardize his colleagues and his family.

But it will be published on September 11th. The officials say the manuscript was not vetted as required by the Pentagon.

BALDWIN: Officials at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, they say they are touched by the concern expressed of First Lady Michelle Obama. The first lady stopped by Oak Creek high school on Thursday, where she met privately with victims and surviving family members of the mass shooting at the temple earlier this month. Six members of the temple were killed in that August 5th attack that left four others wounded.

BERMAN: It's just about 10 minutes after the hour right now. And you have to listen to this. She must have been one amazing waitress. A couple leaves behind a really, really, really big tip. A wicked big tip.

BALDWIN: Wicked big.

BERMAN: And this was no accident. Wait until you hear how much. We'll tell you, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Grab your coffee. I know I have mine.

It is 42 minutes past the hour here on a Friday. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. We are so glad you are all with us.

And many us are headed to Florida soon, along with scores of delegates on the way to Tampa for the Republican National Convention which kicks off on Monday. And the host city is bracing for another possible visitor, of course, Isaac, as a hurricane maybe or a tropical storm perhaps or maybe even something less menacing. Contingency plans are already in place, that includes handling security concerns.

CNN's Brian Todd has the latest on all the preparations. He is live for us this morning in Tampa, Florida.

And, Brian, what is the latest?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this is considered the biggest event that Tampa has ever hosted. And, of course, security is a major concern here. Thousands of law enforcement officers are going to be on hand for the Republican National Convention here starting in just a couple of days.

But the presence of Isaac, whether it's close to here or tracking westward of here could compromise all of that, because about half the law enforcement officers scheduled to work this convention are coming from out of town, from other jurisdictions in the state. And state officials, local officials here are concerned that many of them, if Isaac hits anywhere in Florida may be either stranded by the storm in their home jurisdictions or maybe otherwise deployed, maybe needed in their home jurisdictions and may not be able to make it here. That's been a real concern by the local sheriff.

I talked to Mayor Bob Buckhorn about that and here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR BOB BUCKHORN, TAMPA, FLORIDA: Those jurisdiction that's would be affected by this, I expect the law enforcement personnel would stay as opposed to coming here to help out. I mean we anticipate deploying about 4,000 law enforcement personnel in the streets of Tampa for this event, plus the National Guard. I would imagine if that occurred, we could supplement local law enforcement with national guardsmen if necessary. But I don't think we're going to be in that situation. I think we have more than enough law enforcement by design to handle this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: All sorts of law enforcement resources are going to be at play for this event as well. We're talking about FBI, Secret Service, local and state law enforcement officials converging on Tampa. We're told even there might be use of some drones in the skies overhead.

So there is reinforcement of these resources, John. But again, if Isaac whether it's a hurricane or tropical storm poses a threat and actually hits other parts of the state, it may not have as many law enforcement officers as they anticipated -- John.

BERMAN: Brian, you know, we've seen the map. It looks like Isaac is shifting to the left. We don't know exactly where it's headed.

But if an evacuation is needed, what's the plan to get these 50,000 people at the convention out of that area?

TODD: We have been pressing local officials for a couple of days now, John. And what there is that they've got all sorts of buses available for evacuations. They may have some people shelter in place depending on where they are, what kind of hotel they're in, what kind of shelter that hotel may have so that they're not having just huge mass exodus.

But you've got 50,000 people in downtown Tampa who are not normally here and officials are not giving specific details about where they're going to be staged, how many buses are going to be here. So, those are answers we hope to get in the coupling days. One thing that's interesting is, that a local emergency management official said it's going to be the call of Republican Party officials on whether to evacuate the delegates, not the local residents but the delegates.

So law enforcement is going to consult the Republican officials first. It's going to will be interesting to see how political officials are going to be able to make that call in a natural emergency.

BERMAN: You know, it is interesting, Brian. And no answers just yet which can be frustrating.

Brian Todd live in Tampa this morning.

I should say, EARLY START will be at the Republican National Convention live all next week, starting at 5:00 a.m. Eastern.

"STARTING POINT" will be there live starting at 7:00 a.m. Eastern.

Soledad, Brooke and I will join all of our colleagues on the convention floor to report all the festivities there.

BALDWIN: And just kind of wonder, has any other convention been held off because of weather?

BERMAN: I don't think so. Well, four years ago, they delayed the Republican convention in Minnesota because of a hurricane that was hitting in New Orleans. It was out of respect for people there. But certainly not a weather event there as a hit on a convention while it's happening.

BALDWIN: Interesting.

Eighteen minutes past the hour.

Let's get you up-to-date. Here is Christine Romans with the morning's top stories.

Christine, good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you.

And virtually no sign of storm preparations for hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti as that tropical storm Isaac gets closer. The Haitian people, of course, are especially vulnerable. They are still recovering from the deadly devastating 2010 earthquake, 400,000 people are still living in tents and now Isaac is bearing down.

Long time U.S. diplomat Ryan Crocker now facing DUI charges after a hit-and-run accident in Washington state earlier this month. The former ambassador crossed two lines of traffic and struck a semi and then fled the scene. State troopers say Crocker's blood level was twice the legal limit. He has pleaded not guilty.

Crocker has been U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and other nations.

The man who allegedly broke into LL Cool J's house could spend the rest of his life in prison because of prior convictions. Police say the star confronted the suspect, 56-year-old Jonathan Kirby, held him down until police arrived. Kirby is now hospitalized with a broken jaw, nose and ribs. His previous convictions include manslaughter and auto theft. This could be considered a third strike. You guys?

BERMAN: Pretty serious injuries to the guy who broke into LL Cool J's house.

BALDWIN: Don't mess with LL.

BERMAN: Having take care of some business there.

It is 20 minutes after the hour right now.

We're getting an "Early Read" on the local headlines that are making news around the country. And, first, a clash between waffles and religious freedom. This comes from a Dallas morning news.

A 17-year-old girl says she was fired on her first day on the job at a Dallas area Burger King because of her Christian Pentecostal faith. Shanti Mesham (ph) say the manager refused to allow her to wear a skirt instead of the standard restaurant uniform which is those slacks.

A religious discriminating lawsuit has been filed on her behalf. The local franchise owner has not responded to the suit.

This is an interesting case. We want to hear from you on this one. You can tweet us @EarlyStartCNN or on Facebook at EarlyStartCNN.

BALDWIN: Here's one we kept talking about through the commercial break. There is this waitress in Providence, Rhode Island. She's a waitress, been there at Uncle Tony's for something like 15 years. She gets the tip of a lifetime. This is from the "Providence Journal" aka --

BERMAN: ProJo.

BALDWIN: The ProJo.

Kristen Ruggiero, she is a server for 15 years at this spot, says a couple left her a $458 tip on a $42 check. What did she find? Five 100 bills in the money holder. She says the served the couple back on July 3rd. She sat, she chatted with them about life and being a single mom.

She put the money aside in case it was a mistake. Those five $100 bills turns out it was not. The couple came back about a month later and they said it was not a mistake because you deserved it.

BERMAN: Her eyes must have popped out of her head.

BALDWIN: I mean, what the heck. You get all that money. And, you know, obviously, it's not a mistake. That's so kind of them and all the regulars at this spot agree that they left another tip, 70 bucks on something like $48 tip.

BERMAN: Always leave good tips. There's a lesson there.

BALDWIN: Good tipping is a good thing.

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

BERMAN: And coming up, unemployment in the battleground state. These are really interesting statistics. What the new numbers mean for President Obama and Mitt Romney this November. We'll tell you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Minding your business this morning.

President Obama, Mitt Romney, they're campaigning in several key battleground states this week and, of course, next week as well. According to our calculations by our uber intelligent political unit, there are 15 swing states in this election. The ones in light blue are leaning Obama. The ones -- here we go. Imagine a map. The ones in yellow, those are the tossup states, the undecided ones that could obviously vote either way at least at this point in time.

BERMAN: And our Christine Romans is taking a closer look at those key undecided states to gauge how the important issue of jobs may affect voters there.

Christine, what do you see?

ROMANS: Oh you guys. Jobless rates in 44 states rose in July, and where it matters most in politics is in the so-called swing states. I see your map. I raise you another map.

Let's focus on these undecided states. The most obvious metric to measure the jobs rate is the unemployment rate. This shows what happened in those states since President Obama took office. Red states because the jobless rate went up. Green states because it's gone down since the president was in office.

Let's start out with the states that are the worst. Nevada, 12 percent unemployment in Nevada, compared with 9.6 percent when the president took office. Colorado, also 8.3 percent. Florida, look at that, 8.8 percent. Florida has 29 delegates. Wisconsin up just a little bit, 7.3 percent. Still better than the national average. But people are focusing on this one because Paul Ryan is from Wisconsin.

I want to point out New Hampshire and Virginia, too, these are worse since the president took office but still below the national average.

OK. Now I want to show you the places they're doing better. Ohio, battleground Ohio, 7.2 percent the unemployment rate there. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will be there this weekend and, of course, no GOP candidate won an election without winning Ohio. Iowa, the jobless rate is very low, 5.3 percent. The president is campaigning there all next week.

It's about momentum in the market you guys though. These are the -- these lines show what you happened overall with the jobless rate. Red is the national average.

Look at Nevada. Wow. Look at this one here. This is Wisconsin -- no, that is not Wisconsin, that is Florida. Things have been getting better. Here is the most recent.

So, John, what is really interesting to me you guys is will people look at the last two years or just the very recent future? It could be different in each of these states.

BERMAN: Exactly right. Depends where on that line you're looking that makes all the difference.

All right. Christine Romans, thanks very much.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Now to this -- this terrifying moment caught on camera. This woman falls on to the subway track with her child in her arms. We're going to show you more of the stunning video and tell what you happened next, that's just ahead.

Also, if you're out and about leaving the house, dropping the kids off, you can watch us any time on your desktop or mobile phone. Just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Watching Isaac. Tropical storm Isaac could possibly turn into a hurricane today. In its path, you have Haiti where hundreds of thousands of people are still in those tents after the hurricane two years ago. BERMAN: Big news overnight. He faces a lifetime ban from the sport he dominated. He could be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles today. Lance Armstrong's legacy as the greatest cyclist of all time in jeopardy as he drops his fight against doping charges.

BALDWIN: And this is video you just have to stick around to see. This mother, she falls on to the subway tracks with her 4-year-old son in her arms. Incredible rescue caught on tape.

BERMAN: You showed me this yesterday. This is amazing.

BALDWIN: I want to talk to these people. I can't believe this happened. Obviously they're OK. That's why we're telling you the story. But still, nuts.

BERMAN: We'll show it to you in a moment, I promise.

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

BALDWIN: We have your promise. I feel better with that now.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Happy Friday.

Thirty-two minutes past the hour. We got to talk about the storm here, because virtually no sign of storm preparations for hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in the make shift tents as tropical storm Isaac is getting much closer here. People there are particularly vulnerable, as you know, since they're still recovering from the deadly, devastated 2010 earthquake.

Gary Tuchman is up for us in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

And, Gary, just to this point, so many people -- they had no idea that this storm was even coming. They don't have television.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Brooke.

The roughly 400,000 people still homeless after the earthquake in January 2010, and we know that many of them have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever that this tropical storm/hurricane is coming. We know that because we talked to them yesterday. We had an interpreter go with us in one of the camps, one of the tent cities and people said, no, we haven't heard anything about it.

The problem is even people live in camps who don't have TVs, don't have Internet and do know about it, to wake up this morning, there's not a lot of incentive to leave, because right now, it is completely calm, there is no wind. There's no rain. It has been typical humid August day here in Port-au-Prince.

Of course, in a few hours from now and particularly by early tonight, that's supposed to be the peak of the wind and rain. Up to 12 inches of rain, which will be devastating in Haiti. Whenever they get heavy rain, they have mudslides. A lot of the mountains are deforested here. It could be a catastrophe here and we know for sure there tens of thousands of people, at least tens of thousands, maybe more, remaining in their tents, remaining in their shanties when Isaac comes through -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Because they don't want to give up their spots in the tents.

What is the sense there on the ground, Gary? How panicked are they?

TUCHMAN: Yes, that's the problem. When we tell people that Isaac is coming, they say we dealt with rain before. But this is the only home we have for the last 2 1/2 years. If we leave, someone else will comer and take our place.

And that's what a lot of people are telling us. And that, frankly, is very sad.

BALDWIN: Gary Tuchman for us in Port-au-Prince -- Gary, thank you.

BERMAN: Now, once tropical storm Isaac moves past Haiti, it's next projected target is Florida. Now, it is likely to hit just in time for the Republican National Convention in Tampa. So, we have a lot of questions about where it might be headed and what the effects might be.

Rob Marciano joins us live from CNN's hurricane headquarters -- Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning again, John.

One thing is for sure, this storm is pretty large. It's unorganized. It hasn't strengthened all that much, but because it's large and circulation is big, we think that it will affect the Florida peninsula regardless of the track in some way shape or form.

All right. Here's the latest -- 45 mile an hour winds. It's about 200 miles to the south of the island of Hispaniola. It's moving west at 15 miles an hour.

And because it's so weak right now, at this point, we don't expect it to be a hurricane when it hits Haiti and Cuba. But the main threat is going to be heavy rain there and the threat for mudslides. We anticipate a large amount of rain from this system. Any time you see the white or pink here, that's six to 10 plus inches of rainfall expected over that island. And so that's the main concern.

Here's the forecast track across western tip of Haiti. Tonight into tomorrow morning, then making land fall on Cuba. Notice, it is a tropical storm strength and getting into Florida straits and the Keys late Sunday into Monday and then getting up towards the Florida panhandle it looks like. Or southeastern Louisiana and Tampa and Miami still in the cone here.

So, we're going to get a better handle on the track here, John, as we go through the morning. They flew a high altitude plane into the storm yesterday. That should feed our computers better with some good data and maybe narrowing this track as we go through the afternoon.

BERMAN: All right, Rob Marciano at the hurricane headquarters in Atlanta, thanks very much.

BALDWIN: OK. This is the other story. You're going to be talking about today. We've been talking about this all morning.

Lance Armstrong, he still insists he never cheated. But his legacy taking a major hit this morning. Why? Because Armstrong will likely be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, banned from cycling for life, banned from competing for life after announcing he will no longer fight the charges of illegal doping.

The 40-year-old Armstrong has described himself as most tested athlete in the world. He has never been convicted of any doping charges. But in a statement, Armstrong says there comes a time when enough is enough. He maintains his innocence, accuses the eight U.S. Anti- Doping Agency of conducting a, quote-unquote, "unconstitutional witch hunt."

BERMAN: He says he passed hundreds and hundreds of drug tests during the course of his career, which, of course, is true. However, there have been plenty of people ultimately, you know, who got in trouble, who were charge in -- you know, found guilty of drug crimes like Marion Jones who never failed a drug test and she was caught.

USADA says they have witness testimony from 10 people who did bike with Lance Armstrong. Now that testimony will not be heard because there will be no arbitration hearing. So, that may be what Armstrong is trying to avoid.

BALDWIN: Still the fact that he wants to fight the taking away of the titles, we'll watch it.

Also watching authorities in California, they say Rodney King's death was the result of an accidental drowning, but alcohol, cocaine and marijuana and PCP were all found on his system. They were contributing factors here. The autopsy report says King was in a state of, quote-unquote, "alcohol and drug induced delirium" when he died back in June. His fiancee found him in the bottom of his swimming pool.

BERMAN: Two men are facing charges for the fatal shootings of a fair of deputies last week in LaPlace, Louisiana. That's near New Orleans. Investigators are looking into a report that says suspects are members of the Sovereign Citizens Movement, a far right extremist group that does not acknowledge the authority of the federal government.

BALDWIN: Dole is voluntarily recalling more than 100,000 cases of the Italian blend bag salad, Italian blend bag salad, after random sample test positive for listeria. Recall is specifically for 10 ounce bags of Italian blend with a "use by" date of August 20th. So check that out if you have one of these salad bags.

Dole says no illnesses have been reported though in connection with this particular recall.

And then this is the incredible video that I know you love so much, Brooke. A Boston area woman running to catch a train with her 4-year- old son, she fell on to the tracks. There you see it with her boy in her arms. Meera Thakrar says she thought the train she needed was at the station, but she got confused with the one on the opposite side of the platform.

Bystanders, they wasted no time jumping in to save them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEERA THAKRAR, FELL ONTO TRACKS: They were right there. They just didn't care. We fell and they jumped behind us. I got a new life as of yesterday. We just are saved like -- it's a miracle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I mean really amazing. You watch the video, the people, the bystanders, they jump right in to pull them out. It is a heartening thing to see. The mother and son are OK. She says she doesn't care if she has to pay for parking, she will never take the train again.

BALDWIN: Never take the train again. Never take the train again. I love how she said. She feels like she has a new lease on life. It's amazing just to see people, you know, you think what would you do if you're in that situation? You would like to think you could save someone.

BERMAN: And those people in Boston did.

And the subject of really cool, Movie Magic is about to rock the sports world. We're going to find out how the citizens of the moon of Pandora are helping an Olympic gold medalist swim faster. Avatar meets pools, scientists applying cutting edge movie technology from Avatar to make humans swim like dolphins.

BALDWIN: Olympic gold medalist Dana Vollmer. She is one of the athletes to test this out. This is awesome. She's going to join us live in our CNN studio next hour. They're going to show how this works along with the crew and also her coach.

But these are the folks, these are the folks as Berman mentioned, they're behind the special effects for "Star Wars" and Avatar and Harry Potter movies. We're going to show you the live demonstration of the technology with this Olympian, Dana Vollmer. You know her from the butterfly next, coming up here -- next hour, I should say, here on CNN.

BERMAN: Hurricane Isaac, Congressman Akin's rape controversy and the unleashing of Bain Capital documents, these are a few of the issues overshadowing the Republican National Convention next week, or maybe overshadowing. Is Mitt Romney ready for his big event? We'll tell you, coming up next.

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BALDWIN: Welcome back to EARLY START here. TGIF to you, 44 minutes past the hour here. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. We are very happy you're with us.

Republicans, of course, are putting the final touches on preparations for the convention and will end with Mitt Romney finally accepting his party's nomination for president. The swing state polls showing a small bump for Romney since Paul Ryan addition to the ticket.

The GOP is hoping for another boost. Will there be one next week rain or shine? That's the question we want to ask right now.

Ron Brownstein will be there with us, too. He is CNN's senior political analyst. He's the editorial director of "The National Journal".

And, Ron, the last six days we've been talking about Todd Akin. We've been talking about tropical storm Isaac. Now you know I follow this stuff very closely.

But even I've lost track of where this race stands. Where are we today?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, where we are is in a competitive race with a slight advantage for President Obama. If you look at polling, President Obama's approval rating is still just below 50 percent. Which means two things, (a), he's vulnerable, and (b), that he has not affirmatively convinced the majority of the country he deserves a second term.

But, John, there is a small sliver of voters, maybe 3 percent to 5 percent of the electorate who are disappointed in Obama's performance but are still voting for him because they have been convinced through both the advertising campaign and Romney's own actions that Mitt Romney simply does not worry about people like them, is not concerned about people like them. And so, you have this slight edge for President Obama despite an approval rating that is still leaves him vulnerable.

BERMAN: So, people like them is a key phrase and I want to hone in on that phrase right now, because I think last night, overnight, we got a sense of how the Romney team wants to do this rollout into the convention.

He released an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" which talks about his time at Bain Capital and tries to relate Bain Capital really to what he would do as president. It is called "What I Learned at Bain Capital." He says the lessons apply to the White House and help all people.

What's he trying to do here?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, clearly, we had this very fascinating and consistent divergence in the polls, if you ask people who is better for the economy overall? Usually Romney is even or ahead. For example in, those three "New York Times"/CBS/ Quinnipiac polls released in the critical states of Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin.

But when you ask who cares about people like me? President Obama has a larger lead than Romney does on the economy overall. Both campaigns say that means that while voters may think that Romney may revive the economy in some macro sense, that it would tend -- his kind of economics would tend to produce kind of gains for people at the top or the stock market and not really reach them.

And so he is kind of -- again, there is this kind of delta between the numbers on the economy and he cares about people like me. Same thing we see on the approval on the job verse the ballot that is keeping Obama slightly ahead despite this very difficult economy.

By the way, demography matters too on why Obama is still holding a small lead.

BERMAN: The Bain attacks as you're saying before left a mark and maybe Mitt Romney trying to move beyond that now.

Overnight in a fundraiser, he had some interesting words about business -- small and big business. And it may get to this relatability thing. I want to read what you he said.

Mitt Romney said, "We've got to make it easier for small businesses. Big business is doing fine in many places -- they get the loans they need, they can deal with the regulation. They know how to find ways to get through the code."

He goes on to say, "But it's small business that needs our help. That's what's getting crushed here."

What do you think about this?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, first of all, small business is more popular than big business.

BERMAN: Exactly.

BROWNSTEIN: Part of what happened after 2008 was like a collapse of faith in all large institutions -- big business, big banks and big government all kind of suffered and have remained low since small business is kind of, you know, the apple pie here.

By the way, small business is also more reliably Republican I think even than big business. Small business, the NIFB and others have become staunchly Republican. But it is -- look, it's a way to appeal to voters in the sense that people see small business as more of an engine of job growth and less likely to ship jobs overseas than big business with globe spanning operations might be.

BERMAN: All right. Ron, Brownstein, our senior political analyst, also editorial director of "The National Journal", also, I hope a man who owns Galacious (ph), we'll se you in Tampa next week.

I should say we will be there with Ron. EARLY START will be live at the Republican National Convention starting at 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time each day.

"STARTING POINT" will be live starting at 7:00 a.m. Eastern. Soledad, Brooke and I will join our CNN colleagues live from the convention floor. You'll want to join us, trust me.

BALDWIN: Hey, just curious, quickly, in terms of conventions. Is it more advantageous to go first or last?

BERMAN: That's a great question. Both sides will say they have the advantage. It's typically the party that goes second. So, it's not up for dispute. It's the power that goes second. That's the way it is.

BALDWIN: Interesting. Forty-nine minutes past the hour.

Let's get you up to date. Christine Romans with the morning's top stories.

Hello.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hello you two.

And speaking of storm preparations. Virtually no sign of storm preparations for hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti as tropical storm Isaac heads their way. The Haitian people are especially vulnerable. They're still recovering from that deadly devastating 2010 earthquake, 400,000 people in Haiti are still living in camps and tents.

Lance Armstrong banned from cycling for life. And stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after giving up -- he's giving up the fight with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency over the charges he used performance enhancing drugs.

Armstrong still insists he never cheated. And he accuses the doping agency of conducting an unconstitutional witch hunt. He says he wants to devote more time to family and the Livestrong cancer foundation. But because he has dropped his appeal, he now loses those seven titles.

BERMAN: And we will be hearing a lot more about this today. So, stay tuned to CNN for all the developments in that story, which is a big one.

Ten minutes before the hour right now.

And proving what you should know what a word means before you use it. I did that. I wish I did that. A news anchor makes a bit of an indecent proposal and gets shut down in the process. This happened live on television. Oh, does my heartache for this guy.

BALDWIN: Oh, brother.

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BALDWIN: Fifty-three minutes here past the hour. Brooke Baldwin, along with John Berman.

Taking a look at what's trending this morning, including oopsies.

BERMAN: Exactly. Dejected.

A local news anchor in Canada who apparently had no clue what the canoodle means in Canada or elsewhere. He gets a weather check from the weather center. Oh, this is crazy. You have to check it out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of them brought their girlfriends out to, you know, canoodle or whatever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People canoodle in Union Bay?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They did canoodle in Union Bay.

TV ANCHOR: It's time for a full look at your forecast. Maybe we can canoodle before you get into it about --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not going to be canoodling. What?

TV ANCHOR: I thought that meant chat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chat?

TV ANCHOR: You're lucky there is a producer here. I would have carried that on and on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: He's like what's wrong with that?

BERMAN: The smack down there. We're not going to be canoodling.

BALDWIN: I don't think so, Mr. Anchorman. No canoodling there.

An eye opening social experiment shows how obsesses people are with fame. This normal dude. Here he is in the middle. So, he pretended to be this big celebrity. He is walking around Times Square. He is really just some guy named Bret Cohen (ph).

But you can see he actually went to great lengths. He hired bodyguards. He hired bodyguards. He hired paparazzis, assistants, a publicist and an entire crew to stroll around New York City pretending to be the next big movie star.

Then what did you do? Put the results on YouTube to the tune of Kool & the Gang's "Hollywood Swinging." And guess what? As you can see from all the photography flashes, photography flashes, he clearly pulled it off.

BERMAN: You know, you can you hire paparazzi to follow you around. There are people that do that to make themselves more important?

BALDWIN: Do you speak from experience?

BERMAN: I don't have to hire them.

BALDWIN: You just are a big deal? That's how you roll?

BERMAN: Nice.

BALDWIN: Mitt Romney ready for the convention. The late night guys, they are taking notes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON: CNN plans to air a 90- minute documentary on Mitt Romney, before the Republican National Convention. Yes, 90 minutes of Mitt Romney. Even Red Bull is like this is out of my league, bro. I can only take so much.

Speaking of the campaign, I read that --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: By the way, I heard from reliable sources that the 90-minute document is fantastic.

BALDWIN: Fantastic, of course.

BERMAN: It's very, very good, despite what Jimmy Fallon said.

Just a few minutes before the hour right now, and coming up, tropical storm Isaac is creeping ever closer to Florida and the Republican convention. But Haiti first is bracing for the worst. We'll have a live report at the top of the hour.

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