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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Interview with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn; Tropical Storm Threatens Florida; Lance Armstrong Drops Fight Against Doping Charges; Mother & Son Fall onto Tracks; "I Beat It and So Will You"

Aired August 24, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT.

Looming danger: tropical storm Isaac is expected to bring more misery to Haiti's homeless as Florida prepares for that storm. We'll take a look at that this morning.

And legacy in ruins. Cycling great Lance Armstrong is now facing a lifetime ban and the loss of her seven Tour de France titles after giving up his battle against doping charges overnight.

Plus, who's in control? Fears over the growing political influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt triggering a million man march in Cairo this morning.

Busy show ahead. Former Navy SEAL Chuck Pfarrer will join us. Florida emergency management director Bryan Koon will be our best. And the mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn, is back.

It's Friday, August 24th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, welcome, welcome.

Our team this morning -- Ben Smith. Nice to have you back. He's the editor-in-chief of "BuzzFeed."

Bridget Siegel is with us. She's the author of "Domestic Affairs."

And Will Cain is a columnist for TheBlaze.com.

John Berman bringing us the news this morning.

Hi, everybody. Happy Friday.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: I'm so happy it's Friday.

CAIN: Are you?

O'BRIEN: Yes, really happy.

All right. STARTING POINT this morning -- we are talking about tropical storm Isaac gaining some serious power this morning headed right for Haiti now, where hundreds of thousands of people are still living in tents after the devastating earthquake back in 2010. Isaac is expected to whip the Caribbean nation with gale force winds, stinging rain.

That brings us to meteorologist Rob Marciano, who's tracking Isaac for us from the CNN hurricane headquarters.

Rob, how does it look for Haiti first?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, they're going to get a bunch of winds and the rains have strengthened. So a hurricane hunter aircraft just get out of there reported 58 knot max flight level winds.

So, the National Hurricane Center has bumped up the max surface level winds to 50 miles an hour. It's got tropical force winds at stand out, 250 miles in diameter. So, this is a large circulation.

Haiti certainly is going to get a piece of that. They're also going to get heavy, heavy rains and that's not going to bode well for them, at least 10 inches of rain expected for them in a mountainous area that doesn't have a lot of trees and mudslides have historically had a devastating effect on these folks. And as we mentioned, hundreds of thousands of people without significant shelter there.

It will start to interact with landfall later on this afternoon, through tonight, as a tropical storm. We don't think it will strengthen enough to become a hurricane a Haiti or Cuba landfall, but again, it will have that wind

But once it reemerges in the Florida straits and the Gulf of Mexico, unsure what kind of structure it will be at that time. But we think it will be enough circulation right now to where it will get some tropical storm force winds to the Keys and South Florida by Sunday night into Monday, and potentially making landfall as a category 1 hurricane anywhere from south Louisiana, to Florida panhandle, to potentially the west coast of Florida -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Rob Marciano for us with the update, thank you, Rob. Obviously, Rob is going to going to continue to watch this storm for us. In a few minutes, we're going to be talking with the mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn, as they brace for Isaac and the aftermath of Isaac as well.

John Berman, first though, has a look at the day's top stories for us.

Good morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad.

Really big news this morning in sports.

Lance Armstrong expected to be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after announcing he will no longer fight the U.S. Anti- Doping Agency over charging he used performance enhancing drugs. The doping agency also plans to impose a lifetime ban on Armstrong from cycling.

Now, Armstrong issued a statement saying, "I've been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven tours since 1999. The toll that this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me to where I am today, finished with this nonsense," he says.

Now, Armstrong questions whether the Anti-Doping Agency even has the power to impose these penalties and he says he will sue if they do. But the head of USADA says the International Cycling Union, the other organization in this case is bound to recognize our decision and to impose it.

Twenty-one for killing 77 people. Anders Breivik, the man who admitted to last year's Norway rampage was declared sane and sentenced this morning to Norway's maximum sentence, which is 21 years in prison. He's required to serve a 10-year minimum and the sentence could be extended in the future if he is still considered a threat to society.

Breivik killed eight people in a bombing in Oslo and killed 69 more, mostly teenagers, in a shooting spree on an island camp last July.

The Navy SEAL who has written the first inside account of the Osama bin Laden raid has been identified. CNN will not reveal his name at the request of the Pentagon. The SEAL team 6 member wrote the book under a pseudonym. The military is concerned that exposing him could jeopardize his colleagues and his family. And his manuscript was not vetted by the Pentagon.

A lot to talk about here. At 8:15, Soledad, you'll be talking with Chuck Pfarrer who wrote his own account of raid and came under fire himself from the Defense Department.

O'BRIEN: Yes, you know, they said it was a fabrication, is the word they used about his own account, which he then pushed back on very strongly. So, it will be interesting to see what he thinks of the new book coming out.

Back to our top story, though, Tampa preparing for two different kind of storms this weekend, 50,000 some odd visitors descending on the city for the Republican National Convention, 50,000 potential protesters also coming as well.

And on opening night, tropical storm Isaac projected to be skimming the coast if it doesn't get any worse than that.

Joining us now, the mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for talking with us. Always great to see you.

So, what are the updates you are getting? As I listed all the things headed your way, it could be a scary thought if you're the mayor of that city.

BOB BUCKHORN, MAYOR OF TAMPA: Well, I'm the only guy who loves going to work every day facing all those obstacles.

Soledad, I think we're in good shape. We've been tracking that storm. It appears as though it's moving west. We think the only impact will be some rain, some wind. No tidal surge, if you will.

So I think we are now more focused on full steam ahead with the Republican National Convention, all of the preparations, getting ready for all the visitors and guests and members of the media that will be here. It's going to be a great experience I think for everybody.

O'BRIEN: Well, we're certainly looking forward to it. We're going to be hopping on flights down there very soon as well.

Here's what the RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told me yesterday. I want to play a little chunk of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, RNC SPOKESMAN: There's no such thing as canceling. The number one thing obviously is nominating, officially nominate, Mitt Romney as our presidential candidate, and Paul Ryan as our vice presidential candidate. There are contingency plans in place and rules of the RNC in place that ensure that that will always be able to occur.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Saying there's no way from their perspective, there's no canceling. They are going to move forward. Now maybe the weather might force things to move, you know, logistically or location-wise. How does it overall work? I mean, who's -- who makes the final call if it starts looking bad?

BUCKHORN: Well, from the beginning, we've been functioning as a team. And we've been at this for a year and a half hand in hand with the Republican National Convention. We don't make any decisions without consulting them, without consulting our emergency preparedness folks.

Every day at 11:15 and at 5:15 we have a conference call where everyone is looking at the same data, making the right decisions at the right time.

In terms of the proceedings of the Republican National Convention, Sean is exactly right. They would make that decision. I am sure that they have contingencies in the event of an event like this.

When it comes to an evacuation, within the city limits, that is where I have jurisdiction. The governor has a role in terms of declaring a state of emergency.

So there are multiple players at multiple decision points. But I will tell you this, Soledad. We are seamless. There is no light between any of us. We are all working together for the same goals.

Fortunately, I don't think that's going to be an issue. Evacuation is not being discussed at this point. We are now more focused on putting on a good event beginning Monday at 2:00 when that gavel drops.

CAIN: Mr. Mayor, this is Will Cain. I wanted to ask about some of the security threats CNN has talked about in the last couple of days. We heard about specific threats. The Homeland Security is focused on.

I'm sure this is not new to you. This is something that Tampa has been paying attention to for some time. But I'm curious how Isaac actually impacts that.

Are we looking at a situation where some of the security officers, some of the police and personnel you were bringing in to Tampa, might have to stay home because Isaac is affecting their cities across Florida?

BUCKHORN: Well, I think it depends on where Isaac makes landfall. I don't know how many officers from Key West we were expecting. Obviously, if it moved inland and affected Palm Beach, Broward, Dade County, we do have a number of officers that are coming from that area. We have not received significant cancellations from those visiting officers.

In addition, we have the National Guard standing by if we need to supplement our troops. So I think we're going to be fine. We're going to deploy about 4,000 law enforcement personnel. By design, we want an overwhelming show of force.

So I think we're OK. I think we're in good shape. I don't think many of the folks are going to drop off. Isaac is staying to the west. If it touches anything, it would be in the Key West area and then move out into the Gulf of Mexico.

O'BRIEN: Yes. It's the folks in Key West right now who are really focused on their preparations as well.

Mr. Mayor, nice to see you. We will see you when we all get to Tampa. Thanks for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

BUCKHORN: Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT: out of the shadows, a Navy SEAL who wrote the book on the bin Laden raid has now been identified, and now military officials are saying he's putting his teammates in danger. We'll talk this morning to another former SEAL who wrote his own account of the bin Laden operation.

And tough call at the polls. Would you vote for Tony Danza or would it be Alec Baldwin for the mayor of New York City?

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

The Navy SEAL behind the much anticipated first-hand account of that raid that killed Osama bin Laden has been unmasked this morning. Several news outlets are posting his name, although we at CNN are honoring a request from the Pentagon not to name him.

Pentagon officials say that the book, which is called "No Easy Day," could have some dangerous repercussions. The publisher says it provides a blow-by-blow narrative of the assault on bin Laden's compound back in 2011.

My next guest also came under fire from the Department of Defense after he wrote his own account of the raid, which was based on information, interviews, with SEALs who took part. His book is called "SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama Bin Laden." It's out in paperback next month.

Chuck Pfarrer is with us. He is also a former Navy SEAL.

Nice to see you, Chuck. Thank you for talking with us.

CHUCK PFARRER, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: So you must know, then, since it's a very tight group of people, do you know the author of this new book "No Easy Day" without naming him?

PFARRER: Well, we're -- right. We are all sort of two degrees of separation within the community. It's very small. And we know of each other, and have mutual friends who are operators from the command.

O'BRIEN: So, what can you tell me about him, without naming him?

PFARRER: Well, without naming him, his operation reputation is fine. He served in fact on the raid. He was a member of my old unit, which was Naval Special Warfare Development Group.

I understand the fire he is under. This story has got a lot of moving parts, in that you have to wonder what story, in fact, he's going to tell. The original research that I delved into dealt with 45-minute firefights, ground-up assault, helicopters crashing at the beginning, middle and end. It was pretty hard to get the straight story out of the administration.

And that became complicated to the extent that there's presently an ongoing congressional investigation over special treatment given to certain members of the media, namely Kathryn Bigelow (ph) and Mark Boll (ph), who to the exclusion of all other historians and journalists, were given exclusive access, for example, to the training sites.

O'BRIEN: So as I know you know --

PFARRER: This isn't --

O'BRIEN: -- you -- as I know you know, U.S. Special Operations Command has been quoted as saying your book was full of fabrications.

But bring me back to this author. Why? I mean, if you know him or know him by two degrees of separation, what would motivate somebody who was part of this to actually pen a book about the inside story of this raid?

PFARRER: Well, the first thing I'd like to do is respond to the fabrications line. It's -- you know, the line taken away from the commander of the Naval Special Warfare elements was that he didn't want my book to lead the American people to doubt the administration's version of events.

I have no doubt that what's in my book is what happened, and it's backed up by independent Pakistani investigations of the crash.

That being said, I'm sure that this author felt, as I did, that the truth wasn't being told.

I was motivated to break cover and come out and take all the lumps I was going to take after the Schmittel (ph) article which appeared in "The New Yorker," which was essentially a tale of a political hit: a ground-up assault, a 40-minute firefight, and then a man's wife was wounded and a man was murdered in his bedroom. That isn't what happened.

This operation was over in 90 seconds. There was no helicopter crash at the beginning. Helicopter crashed in the middle of the operation. Pakistani witnesses on the ground say that.

O'BRIEN: So --

PFARRER: So unfortunately, the story has become the story. And this author is going to come in for all the hits that I did, too, I'm afraid.

O'BRIEN: So -- but some of the reason he's already coming in for -- getting some heat is not about the content, because no one really knows exactly what's in the book so far. So I don't think people are taking exception to his version of the events.

They are taking exception, I think, to a sense of betrayal, of betrayal of his colleagues in the Navy SEALs and -- you know, to, I guess, an ethos, as Spider Marks, we were talking to earlier, said the whole ethos of the SEALs is that it's about the mission, not about any glory from the mission.

Is that not accurate?

PFARRER: It is. That is fundamentally accurate. I haven't read the book yet as well. But I am certain that this man took it seriously as I did, the fact that you're not there to educate the enemy, that our tactics and techniques and procedures, they are proprietary, and they need to be kept secret because --

O'BRIEN: Wouldn't writing a book completely contradict that?

(CROSSTALK)

PFARRER: -- our friends and comrades --

O'BRIEN: I mean, isn't that completely hypothetical (ph) --

PFARRER: -- are still out --

O'BRIEN: -- to writing a book about that?

PFARRER: Yes. I -- you know, I think it might be. It -- again, I approach this slightly differently. I -- you know, my service was in the '80s and '90s. I approached this as a journalist and a historian. My only overlap is that I used to be a commanding officer of one of the elements in this unit.

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see when this book comes out what exactly he reveals and also what the fallout is.

Chuck Pfarrer, it's nice to see you. His book is called "SEAL Target Geronimo." It's coming out in paperback next month, in September.

Thanks.

PFARRER: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Appreciate -- you bet. You bet. Interesting.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there's been a whole -- and it's interesting to see whether this is part of this whole campaign coming out of the special operator community. There are like three different groups during the conventions, holding events to oppose president Obama.

And I think certainly there are people in that community who probably are conservative to start with, but who see Obama leaking -- deliberately leaking elements of this out as a very traditional kind of propaganda, basically, and are revolted by it and are then campaigning against him and are -- have been campaigning against him as a result of it. JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I thought it was really interesting what Chuck said there at the end, I mean, Chuck who wants his version or a version of the truth to come out -- what he calls the truth -- has a lot of hesitations about this new book. He says this guy may be violating that sacred trust that the SEALs have. I was really interested.

O'BRIEN: (Inaudible) said the world betrayal, and I think that's -- regardless of what the story is, there is, in a whole other category, the betrayal of, like, you're not supposed to tell any story, regardless if it's your story, our story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the administration chose to tell a very specific story. So you can imagine people who are involved, who think the story is different, feeling some pressure to get their story out.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: No, and I fully understand that. But I just wonder, isn't that sort of the role of being a Navy SEAL, that there is this sort of political machine around you that does X, but you're a SEAL You're supposed to --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keep your head down and keep going.

O'BRIEN: I don't know. It will be interesting to see the details of this book when it comes out.

Still ahead this morning, first it was Alec Baldwin, who said maybe he'd like to be the mayor of New York City. Now actor Tony Danza, he's thinking about it, too. The battle of the actors. Our tough call is who would you vote for?

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: That's straight ahead.

Plus, don't forget you can watch us live on your computer or your mobile phone while you're at work. Go to cnn.com/TV. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Christine Romans, watching your money this morning. The Federal Reserve made an $18 billion profit for taxpayers from the bailout of AIG. The Federal Reserve has now sold the last of AIG's toxic assets, the Maiden Lane Three (ph) portfolio of investments it had to swoop in and buy, remember, at the height of the financial crisis.

Still, taxpayers are not free and clear of their AIG bailout just yet. The Treasury Department still owns more than half of AIG's stock. The Treasury says it will sell those shares over time.

More good news in the housing market this week. New home sales rose 3.6 percent in July from June. That's up 25 percent from the same time last year. That's according to the Census Bureau.

Soledad, we've had a couple of good housing reports this week.

O'BRIEN: Yes, we have.

ROMANS: So there you go.

O'BRIEN: Yes, we have. So maybe that's a trend. How many do we need before we can actually call it officially a trend?

ROMANS: We need it to double or triple from here to be --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: -- but it is improvement.

O'BRIEN: Our Tough Call this morning, who would you vote for? Would you vote for Tony Danza? Would you vote for Alec Baldwin? Brooklyn's own Tony Danza tells "The Wall Street Journal" that he is indeed thinking about running to be mayor of New York City. He says that as he is getting older he sees more and more problems with the city, and, in fact, he could be the guy to fix them.

He is now 61 years old. He lives in New York. He starred in "taxi," obviously back in the '70s --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: -- and "Who's the Boss?" Not the first actor to express interest in the job; Alec Baldwin has also talked about it. Anthony Weiner, also the former disgraced congressman who resigned after tweeting out --

BERMAN: Started a different kind of story.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: -- the tiny screen. Also, (inaudible) tough call would be.

Who would you vote for? Would it be Tony Danza, would it be Alec Baldwin, would it be Anthony Weiner?

BERMAN: Perfect question for Bridget.

BRIDGET SIEGEL, AUTHOR: No. I'm going Alec Baldwin. I'm going Alec Baldwin. We need a little humor in our days.

BERMAN: Are you saying "Who's the Boss?" wasn't funny?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was more serious drama in that show.

O'BRIEN: Maybe I haven't mentioned the platform.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: My bad. My bad. He said we need less cars. I support the bike share program. And roller blades. I don't know if he means roller blades for all.

BERMAN: It sounds like he's really thought this thing through. (Inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: This is the Danza platform. "You can't even take a cab from 50th to 70th Street now." Technically you can. I've done that a few times.

He said, "If it were up to me, I would go for the congestion price," which is charging the drivers more money for --

BERMAN: So the platform needs some work, I would say.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: The Upper East Side cab shortage is obviously what's pressing.

Roller blade in every share (ph) program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should come along with some anti-fungal spray.

BERMAN: A roller blade in every pot.

O'BRIEN: Here's what he says about Jay-Z. "Now that's a mayor I would vote for." He said this, "Or Jay-Z. If Jay-Z were mayor, would he play that song in ads or just the chorus? "New York." It's got a great hook. I love that part."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, I'm taking (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Good to know. And Tony, you can send that check --

BERMAN: Tony Danza.

O'BRIEN: -- to as your campaign manager here at CNN.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, massive protests to tell you about in Egypt. And there are some expectations that they could get ugly. Opposition groups are organizing a million man march right now. We're going to take you live to Cairo. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. In just a few minutes we'll be talking with Florida Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon. He'll be our guest. We'll check in with him as tropical storm Isaac threatening to crash the Republican national convention in Tampa, or at least make things a little bit messy for folks. John Berman has the very latest on Isaac as well.

BERMAN: It is gaining strength right now as it heads for Haiti this morning. We want to get the latest on the storm, so we go to CNN's hurricane headquarters. Meteorologist Rob Marciano is there. Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: John, it's a big storm, we know that. But it's not very organized the past 24 hours. It's just now starting to gain a little strength. Aircraft in there have determined the winds are sustained at 55 miles per hour. And tropical storm winds go out at about a 25-mile swath. That means Hispaniola and Haiti will see those conditions over the next 24 hours. The good news is we don't think it will blow up into a hurricane before it hits Haiti and Cuba. But the main concern is the amount of water and rain these areas will take in. And when you're talking about hillsides that are deforested and people living in shanties and tents, it's not a good combination.

So landfall tonight into tomorrow morning as a 50 mile an hour tropical storm with heavy rain through Haiti and Cuba re-emerging in the Florida straits. Sunday night to Monday, anywhere from Miami to Key West will be under the gun for tropical storm force conditions. And here's where we think it will get a little bit more strength and develop into a hurricane of category 1 or more status. And anywhere from central Louisiana coastline back through the western parts of Florida, including Tampa could see this as a hurricane. Tampa at the very least as far as statistics go, John, right now about a 25 percent chance of at least seeing tropical storm force conditions. So it's going to get messy it looks like.

BERMAN: Rob, we're all watching that very closely.

Other news now, 21 years for killing 77 people -- Anders Breivik, the man who admitted to last year's Norway rampage, was declared sane and sentenced to Norway's maximum sentence, which is 21 years in prison. He's required to serve a 10 year minimum, and the sentence could be extended in the future if he is still considered a threat to society. Breivik killed eight people in a bombing in Oslo and he killed 69 more, most of them teenagers, in a shooting spree at a camp on an island last July.

Happening right now in Egypt, the opposition organizing a mass protest march against the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi's new government. CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is live in Cairo this morning. Nic, is it getting tent yet?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There has been one scuffle so far. Three shots fired and then a crowd about 100 people rushed the man in Tahrir square who fired the shots. He was taken away. But for the most part, this million man march has turned out to be only several hundred, mostly peaceful so far. No big angry demonstrations or confrontations between rival groups. What we're seeing here is people who are opposed to president Morsi, opposed to the way they say he and the Muslim brotherhood have a disproportionate representation in the new government. They have taken illegally new constitutional powers. And they are also critical of the way he is cracking down and putting in court journalists who are speaking out against the Muslim brotherhood. About 15 different political organizations are threatening to come out. Security is tight, and concerns that there could be violence, but so far, nothing serious yet.

BERMAN: A lot of movable dynamics in place in Cairo right now. Nick, thank you very much. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Thanks, John, appreciate it.

Projections from the national hurricane center show tropical storm Isaac is moving further to the west before it's expected to make landfall in the gulf of Mexico early next week. State and local officials in Florida, though, taking no chances to prepare for the storm, advising residents to be alert, prepared, and also readying the city of Tampa for the Republican national convention which is supposed to kick off on Monday.

Bryan Koon is the director of Florida emergency management in Tallahassee this morning. Thank you for talking with us this morning, sir. Your office is responsible for the entire state of Florida. So how big is the Republican convention looming right now on your radar as you -- you know, this really is approaching the keys first.

BRYAN KOON, DIRECTOR, FLORIDA DIVISION EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Good morning. Yes, it is -- something that we're considering. As you said, though, we are focused on the entire state here. And first in the path would be the keys. And good portion of the state is in the cone of error still. So while we're planning for the Republican national convention, we are also taking a look at the state as a whole.

O'BRIEN: I read there are 59 law enforcement agencies from around the state that are supposed to be coming to Tampa to be part of the RNC. And now this tropical storm at the very least that's heading your way, can you tell me how they are organized and how they work together? That's a lot, 59.

KOON: That is. We've been in the planning process, though, for the Republican national convention for about the last year and a half. We've had a large number of meetings to coordinate this process, to gather law enforcement agencies from around the state to help out with that effort in Tampa. And so we've got a good plan going into next week.

So then let's talk a little bit about this plan, if it applies to the protesters. There was an FBI memo we shared, we were talking about it yesterday actually, where there were some concerns about anarchists and activists and protesters who also potentially could be coming to Tampa as well. How much of your work is focused not on the hurricane part of this or the potential hurricane part of this but on these protesters?

KOON: Well, we were going to stand up the emergency operation center for the duration of the convention, irrespective of tropical storms and potentially hurricane Isaac. So we would be prepared for either scenario, either a situation where there were some potential unrest or other activities at the convention, but we are also now ready to prepare for tropical storm and/or hurricane Isaac next week.

O'BRIEN: So, Will Cain, you're going down when?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We're going down Saturday. We were planning to head down Sunday. Isaac has pushed it to Saturday.

O'BRIEN: You're going today?

BEN SMITH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BUZZFEED: Today.

O'BRIEN: So when you're talking about 50 some-odd thousand people, people like us who don't have a lot of hurricanes or even tropical storms, what is your sense? Do you think people are worried or not worried?

SMITH: I think people are worried. And I think the buzz among journalists is that we'll all go down there and it will be miserable, but the convention will go on. It seems like that happy middle ground.

CAIN: I do want to remind people four years ago the Republicans in Minnesota cancelled a night of the convention because of a hurricane in New Orleans.

BERMAN: Which did not in fact ultimately happen.

CAIN: Well, it hit, but it wasn't all that bad. But next week I think there will come a time when people will have to face the time even if it's not hitting Tampa, should we be holding a convention a night where the hurricane may be hitting Mobile.

O'BRIEN: I think those things you play by ear certainly as it goes.

But let me get back to our guest for a moment, Mr. Koon, if I can. You have 73,000 residents in the Florida Keys. In a way, I think sometimes because we have been focused on the RNC we have been ignoring where the storm is going first as it approaches Florida. And then you have this, you know, single highway that connects those keys. What are the measures that are being taken to protect those keys that are vulnerable first and foremost at least as concerned to the United States?

KOON: Well, we've been working very closely with Monroe County, which is the county where the keys are located, and they have locally been taking efforts to activate their emergency operations center and considering declaring a state of emergency. They communicate very well with their citizens down there. Those people who live in the keys know hurricanes. They know what they need to do to prepare their residents, their families, their boats.

And we have a good evacuation plan should we need to use it in the keys. We understand the fragility of the one road out of there. There are 42 bridges that connect Key West to mainland Florida. So we have trigger points where if necessary if we need to evacuate, we have a phased approach to getting those residents and visitors to safety.

O'BRIEN: Bryan Koon is the director of the Florida division of emergency management. Thank you for your time. We appreciate it.

KOON: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, his fight is finished, he says, and so could be his legacy. Some stunning news overnight, Lance Armstrong could be stripped of his greatest cycling triumphs after he says he's not going to fight doping allegations. We'll explain. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. His legacy is now in ruins. Cycling legend Lance Armstrong could be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from the sport for life after he is dropping his fight against doping charges. Armstrong still insists he has done nothing wrong. He accuses the U.S. anti-doping agency of conducting a quote, unquote, "witch hunt." But Armstrong says the toll it's taking on his family finally led him to say enough is enough. Armstrong questions whether the anti-doping agency even has the power to impose the penalties, and he says if they do, he will sue.

BERMAN: A battle for a legacy here. Lance Armstrong was not really going to race in the tour de France again. Lance Armstrong's career is effectively over here. What he is trying to do is control how he's remembered. What he didn't want is testimony from people who raced with him saying that he --

O'BRIEN: You know, and the foundation, really a lot of that legacy, is really what has gone into being the foundation of the foundation.

CAIN: I think that's something that's interesting, how do you think Lance Armstrong is viewed now? We all have a strong attachment to Lance Armstrong. He put a sport on the map here that none of us paid attention to. We loved him for what he overcame. And you used the term earlier a certain self-righteousness to lance. Do you think America roots for lance too?

SMITH: I think they do. One of the reporters who has accused him of doping this morning, he wrote something this morning saying, all the guys who came in second. Armstrong portrays himself as the victim. And there are all these guys who lost races allegedly because he doped, any racer who was clean.

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: It might be a contradiction in terms, but, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think people are still rooting for Lance Armstrong. I think it's a story you want to get behind and you want to believe and you want to hope that it's true.

BERMAN: There aren't many undecided voters left on lance Armstrong. There are people who believe in him and people who don't.

O'BRIEN: But can they really even remove, you know, these seven victories?

SMITH: It could be appealed to a European court of arbitration who could say it's not USADA who has the jurisdiction. But you saw it as not some store front in New Jersey that's just making this up. They are the panel. They are the board that runs drug testing in almost every sport, amateur sport, amateur sport in world right now. This is a big group that does drug testing and generally knows what they are talking about.

O'BRIEN: I wonder when he says, you know, when he says, well, if they do that, which it seems like they have immediately said -- I mean once he said enough is enough, they immediately said well, we're going to strip you of those -- of those seven victories.

He then said, "I'm going to sue". It will be interesting to see if that actually goes down that path.

CAIN: John Robertson has been pointing out earlier can you strip the public's memory? So will Lance Armstrong ever not be the seven- time winner of the Tour de France in our minds?

SMITH: And he chose -- you know he chose the --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: If they strip him of the titles, that is going to have huge implications, absolutely, right? Because anytime it's discussed, you know I mean, part of what makes your legacy live on is that you're often sitting at the broadcast table talking about, well, we got to this hill, or this was my strategy or this, you know and then also he is very public in his foundation, which is based really, right, on those -- overcoming. I mean that's the whole message about it. So, yes, I think you could have some serious implications on that.

SMITH: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, we'll be talking about this bizarre and terrifying moment caught on camera. Do you see this? It's a woman falling onto the subway tracks. She's got a kid in her arms. We'll tell you what happened next.

And the New York Yankees manager chases a heckler -- I love this guy -- during a post-game press conference and then picks up the press conference. You're going to have to see this.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT everyone. I'm John Berman.

Let's check your headlines really quickly this morning.

Authorities in California say Rodney King's death was the result of an accidental drowning, but alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and PCP found in his system -- they were contributing factors. The autopsy report says that King was in a state of alcohol and drug-induced delirium when he died back in June. King's fiance found him at the bottom of his swimming pool.

A happier story, incredible video. A Boston area woman rushing to catch a train with her 4-year-old son fell onto the tracks with her boy in her arms. Meera Thakrar says she thought the train she needed was in the station, but she got it confused with one on the opposite platform. The great thing is bystanders wasted no time at all jumping in to save them.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The mother and her son are doing fine today. However, she says she will never take a train again.

Now Yankees manager Joe Girardi is on edge. Why? Because the slumping Bronx Bombers were swept by the White Sox in Chicago. He took it all out on a heckler right in the middle of a post-game interview. You have to look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE GIRARDI, MANAGER: YANKEES: Good all year. Hey, hey, hey. Hey. Shut up, I'm doing an interview. Hey.

What he does all the time. Good stuff. He's got a good fastball.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: He picked it up mid sentence, like without missing a beat.

O'BRIEN: Really, I'm going to do that. Hey, hey, hey, shut up, I'm doing an interview. Anyway and then I'll go on. That's brilliant. I love him.

SIEGEL: There wasn't even a segue in any way. He just went right back.

O'BRIEN: I love that man.

Let's talk about CNN's Hero, connecting cancer fighters with survivors. It's a great story. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNNY IMERMAN, CNN HERO: All of a sudden, it was like bam, it was like someone took a syringe and stabbed me directly in my left testicle. At 26, I was diagnosed with cancer. So I had to go right into chemo.

In the hospital, I saw these people by themselves. You could see the fear. My goal was to get in there and motivate patients so that they wanted to jump out of their chemo bed and literally start swinging at this thing.

My name is Johnny Imerman. I'm a two-time testicular cancer survivor and I created an organization to make sure that people that are diagnosed with cancer are able to reach a survivor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to keep your immune system strong. You have to listen to your body. It will tell you what you need to do.

IMERMAN: It started with just a few survivors sharing information one to one with somebody diagnosed with the exact same cancer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a 29-year-old, healthy young adult. Cancer is not a part of our language. I'm really happy that I have this community that Johnny has built.

IMERMAN: We have helped people in over 60 countries. We have matched over 8,000 total since inception.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terry has been like my guardian angel. Anytime I call her, she's right there.

IMERMAN: It's a brotherhood and a sisterhood. That's for sure. We help people of all ages, caregivers, spouses. We'll help the parents get hooked up with other parents. And we just get a ton of young adults. We share stories. We listen. We learn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was 30 years old when I was diagnosed. So I wanted to make it until my son was at least five. And I'm still here today.

IMERMAN: We see each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the kind of information that you need to hear from someone who's been through it. There's really no other way.

IMERMAN: I don't really count the days since cancer because every day is a good day. Like be happy you got out of bed this morning. Life is amazing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: I love that guy.

Our "End Point" is up next. We're back in a moment.

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O'BRIEN: Time for "End Point". Bridget why don't you start us off.

SIEGEL: My "End Point" is I love my roller blades, but I'm sticking with (inaudible) for mayor.

O'BRIEN: Yes that would be the Tony Danza roller blade platform, a roller blade in every pot. .

CAIN: Appealing but not that appealing.

SIEGEL: Not quite there.

O'BRIEN: All right. All right. There's still time, though. There's still time. We could convince you.

What have you got Will Cain?

CAIN: You know, the other day I was in the swimming pool with my 4-year-old teaching him the butterfly, explaining to him --

O'BRIEN: Wait, wait -- you were teaching the butterfly to a 4- year-old?

CAIN: That's right. That's right. I was a butterflier for those at home that might be curious on that kind of fact, since I was like six or seven years old. I swam butterfly. I was telling him it starts from your shoulders and your chest, not your hips. This dolphin motion. So it was cool.

What we had with Dana Vollmer this morning, the motion technology, body, it shows exactly how you create that movement and it shows you that sports is all about mechanics and efficiency.

O'BRIEN: And I love that she said, which I think is very true for a lot of sports, there's a sense that the more effort time you put in the better you'll do. When actually in many sports, golf being one, the more you can relax, the better you do. Right. It's not about trying harder.

CAIN: By the way she's an awesome sport for prancing around here in her swim suit and body sensors for two hours.

O'BRIEN: All right. Ben, what have you got?

SMITH: I have No segue for that. Maybe we can get Will in a swimsuit and body sensors one of these weeks. (inaudible) had just tweeted, "Rick Santorum released his delegates to Mitt Romney this morning".

BERMAN: Rick Santorum was --

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: I was just thinking, whatever happened to that guy, Rick Santorum?

O'BRIEN: Very interesting.

BERMAN: One name we haven't -- we barely mentioned this morning is Todd Akin. Of course, you know, so that scandal lasted four days. I think we will hear from him again. But it does remind me that this was a week that was lost to that story completely for the Romney campaign -- completely.

O'BRIEN: And it will resurface next week, no question about that.

BERMAN: But this is not the week they wanted to have running up to the convention.

SMITH: Who would have thought we would not have talked about the economy all summer -- barely at all?

O'BRIEN: Yes, that is true. All of us gearing up for the special coverage of the Republican National Convention next week in Tampa, starting next Monday morning. Both "EARLY START" and STARTING POINT will broadcast shows live from the convention center in Tampa.

Big headliner on Monday -- former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will be our guest. And Monday night CNN is the place to be for the best political team on TV. Our live coverage of the RNC takeoff from Tampa, Florida begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Let's get right to "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello. That begins right now.