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Mitt Romney's Moment; "What America Needs Is Jobs, Lots Of Jobs"; Eastwood And The Empty Chair; Isaac Kills Two In Louisiana; Plaquemines Levee Intentionally Breached; Holmes Called School Minutes Before Massacre; Pentagon Warns Bin Laden Book Author; Harvard Cheating Scandal; Interview with Elizabeth Emken

Aired August 31, 2012 - 06:00   ET





FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. chairman, and delegates, I accept your nomination for president of the United States!


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Taking the challenge. Mitt Romney plays to disillusioned voters and his own doubters. His first speech as the Republican presidential nominee.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Destruction and ruin in its wake. Gulf coast residents dealing with the wet aftermath as Isaac now heads north.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Good morning to you, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin here in New York.

BERMAN (on-camera): And I'm John Berman live in Tampa where the Republican National Convention is over. They're shutting it down this morning. So, we're at Patch's Place, a restaurant here in Tampa. Mitt Romney, last night, gave that big speech after years campaigning for the job. Mitt Romney now begins a two-month sprint for the White House.

Romney accepted the party's presidential nomination with a speech that was as much personal as it was political. Much of it aimed at undecided and disappointed voters. Mitt Romney told them the president has failed and he, Mitt Romney, is the man to restore America's greatness. The stakes were so high for him, but did he deliver?

I'm joined now by CNN White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar who is also in Tampa -- Brianna. BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, John. Good morning to you from Historic Plant Hall. We're here at the University of Tampa.

And last night, here in Tampa, we saw Mitt Romney attacking President Obama's economic record defending his own business record and trying to attract persuadable voters essentially saying to them you may have voted for President Obama four years ago, but it's OK if you want to change course.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president can ask us to be patient. This president can tell us it was someone else's fault. This president can tell us that the next four years will get it right. But this president cannot tell us that you're better off today than when he took office.

KEILAR (voice-over): The center piece of Mitt Romney's nomination acceptance speech, an attack on President Obama's economic record.

ROMNEY: Does the America we want borrow a trillion dollars from China? Does it fail to find jobs that are needed for 23 million people and for half the kids graduating from college?

KEILAR: Romney laid out a 5-point plan to create 12 million jobs, become energy independent by 2020 and cut deficits, but he fell short on details. The Republican nominee did not shy from his business experience at Bain Capital.

ROMNEY: That business we started with 10 people has now grown into a great American success story. Some of the companies we helped start are names we know and heard from tonight.

An office company called Staples where I'm pleased to see the Obama campaign has been shopping. He had almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government.

KEILAR: For a candidate who tried to downplay his Mormon faith, sometimes avoiding even saying the word Mormon, he pivoted with personal anecdotes.

ROMNEY: We are Mormons and growing up in Michigan that may have seemed unusual or out of place, but I really don't remember it that way. My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed.

KEILAR: And as poll show voters think President Obama is much more likely to understand their problems, Romney declared the time has come to turn the page.

ROMNEY: President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.

KEILAR: Romney recast Ronald Reagan's classic election year question.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S PRESIDENT: Are you better off than four years ago?

KEILAR: Telling voters --

ROMNEY: You know there is something wrong with the job he's done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.


BERMAN: So the target here, clearly the independent, the swing voters who may be disillusioned after four years of President Obama and one weapon the Romney campaign chose to use last night, to reach them, Clint Eastwood -- Brianna.

KEILAR: That's right. And maybe in this case, I mean, obviously in this case they were trying to use Clint Eastwood to attract that white male vote, which is very important to Mitt Romney and President Obama struggles with.

But this was a very interesting speech, I think is the diplomatic way to put it. It was strange and sometimes uncomfortable as Eastwood talked to a chair as if it was President Obama.


CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: I know you were against the war in Iraq and that's OK, but you thought the war in Afghanistan was OK, you thought that was something that was worth doing. We didn't check with the Russians to see how they did there for the 10 years. But it -- we did it.


KEILAR: Now, John, I thought it was interesting. I was watching the Twitter sphere as this was happening and it was blowing up with people talking about invisible Obama. You know who tweeted?

President Obama's staff because it came from his official account, but not from him personally and it was a picture of him in a chair in a cabinet meeting and said this seat is taken.

So they pushed back but on a more serious note something that struck any, Clint Eastwood talked about Afghanistan. That is one word Mitt Romney never mentioned in his remarks. It is definitely a war weary electorate and he didn't talk about it.

BERMAN: Brianna, I'm so glad you picked that sound bite because I have the same thought as I was listening to him. That was clearly unscripted. Not something I would think the Romney campaign wanted him to say, but very interesting to say the least. Thanks very much, Brianna Keilar also here in Tampa.

There is a lot of opinion about Clint Eastwood and the Romney speech in general. In a little bit, I'm going to be joined by CNN contributor, Margaret Hoover and Eric Ericsson.

We will have some more morning after analysis of the Romney speech. There they are right there. They are talking over some coffee. You can see Margaret on her Blackberry right there saying I really like being on EARLY START. It's a great show.

All right, Zoraida, we'll get back to you in New York.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm going to check her Twitter account. Thank you very much, John.

It is 5 minutes past the hour here. It's a deadly discovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, two bodies pulled from a flooded Plaquemines Parish home. It's the first known casualties in the state of Louisiana.

Isaac is a weakening tropical depression and slowly moving north. But in his wake he left entire neighborhoods under water and hundreds of thousands of people without power. The two deaths, a man and woman, they were found floating in their kitchen in 7 feet of water.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano is live in New Orleans where they are making the difficult transition into recovery mode this morning. And that area in Plaquemines Parish, I want to focus on this people first. That was under mandatory evacuation. Those bodies that were found, do we know what the recovery efforts are at this point in that area?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Very slow. They were still pulling people out of there and some people resigned themselves to being cut off from New Orleans and other areas until they can figure out how to at least drain or pump that water out.

Because it's still sitting there and there's still in many areas, 5 to 7 feet of water. They haven't gone to all homes and there may be more grim discoveries like what they found yesterday.

I'll give you some visuals of this. I want to put the U.S. Coast Guard, the captain who managed the operation in the Mississippi River yesterday and also the colonel who in charge of the Army Corps of Engineers.

They wanted to assess both the river and also the levee systems and the new system that was in place here across New Orleans, how well that held up. The coast guard wants to be able to open up the Mississippi River for commerce, for traffic.

There are a lot of barges that have broken loose. There are a number of big tankers that have actually run aground. So they have their work cut out for them as far as clearing the water way to get ships up and down the river again.

I spoke with the colonel after the flight of the Army Corps of Engineers and asked them what was his opinion on how the system held up?


COLONEL EDWARD R. FLEMING: We're still in the middle of this. You know, if you think about seven years ago today, everybody walked out of their house and saw the sun in the sky and thought everything was over.

Then the water started to continue to come up and up and up. We saw that this morning. We were cautiously optimistic, but we're still watching. Water is still rising on the west bank and we have to be vigilant.


MARCIANO: It is so complicated here because you get it from all sides, the marsh, the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Pontchartrain and points west of flooded because of Lake Pontchartrain and yesterday, Slidell and areas to the north flooded out quickly.

And there were rescues going on there as well, not to mention Mississippi who probably got the most amount of rainfall. A couple of fatalities for falling trees and they are having issues as far as holding back some dams and levees that at least may threaten to weaken and maybe release some water.

So all of this water is heading up north, no more rain left down here, but still the issues of the leftover water remain -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: We were just taking a look at some pictures there and it was a breach of a levee and that was in order to alleviate all the water standing still in other areas.

MARCIANO: They'll do that from time to time, trying to figure out whether they do that down in Plaquemines Parish that has yet to be determined. You have a lot the water in low lying areas and built up and around where people live. So there's no easy solution typically to how to fix the problem.

SAMBOLIN: It's terrible to watch. Thank you so much for the update. We appreciate it.

For those of you who want to help those that are devastated by Tropical Storm Isaac, just visit our "Impact Your World" page at Lots of options for you to help there.

Movie theatre massacre suspect James Holmes called a University of Colorado switch board just 9 minutes before he allegedly open fire. That number can be used to get in contact with faculty during off hours.

Those revelations coming from his public defender during a hearing, this all happened yesterday. Holmes' psychiatrist has said she called campus police after the last session about a month before the shooting. And he is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 others last month during a midnight screening of the "Dark Knight Rises."

And coming up, Jim Spellman will have more on this stunning revelation. The latest in the movie theatre massacre case, that's headed your way in about 45 minutes.

The Pentagon now threatening legal action against the retired Navy SEAL who wrote a book about the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. The book is titled, "No Easy Day."

The Pentagon's top lawyer wrote a letter to the author addressed his pen name, Mark Owen, saying that he violated agreements to not divulge military secrets.

The author said he and another SEAL finished off Bin Laden and identified him as leader of al Qaeda. The book's release has also been moved up an entire week. It was originally due out on September 11th.

Listen to this cheating scandal unfolding at Harvard. University officials say 125 students are being investigated for collaborating on a take-home final exam for an introduction to Congress class. Those found guilty could be expelled from the Ivy League school for a year and also face other disciplinary action.

It is 11 minutes past the hour. Let's send it back to John Berman anchoring our coverage of the Republican National Convention. Good morning.

BERMAN: Good morning, Zoraida. I'm at Patches Place, which is a restaurant here in Tampa. We're here because back at the convention hall, the speeches are done, the balloons have fallen and they are sweeping up this morning.

But we have some big questions, namely, will the poll numbers rise for Mitt Romney after his convention performance? We will have expert analysis, all of the answers from Tampa coming up.


BERMAN: We are breaking down Mitt Romney's acceptance speech last night. With me here this morning and happy to be here, Margaret Hoover, CNN contributor and former Bush White House appointee and Erick Erickson, a CNN contributor and the editor in chief of

First up, I think we've all been talking about how Mitt Romney really for the first time for many of us gave us a window into his life, into who he is beyond just the suit and businessman.

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, the number of people who had never heard the rose story before, a number of reporters who have been on the campaign trail for four years never heard that story, that was a powerful moment that he couldn't -- they couldn't expand the story because it was so emotional for him.

BERMAN: Let's listen to it.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: My mom and dad were married for 64 years. And if you wondered what they're secret was, you could have asked the local florist, because every day dad gave mom a rose, which he put on her bedside table. That's how she found out what happened on the day my father died. She went looking for him because that morning there was no rose.


BERMAN: I've heard a hundred Mitt Romney speeches in person, never heard that story.

ERICKSON: The instant tears from people in the crowd at that moment.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The hit against Mitt Romney is he's too automatic. He's a malfunctioning automaton on the campaign trail. And here you have a moment where as he began to tell the story, at first it sounded like a joke, joke about a florist. Then he started loosened up and it became very somber and touching.

BERMAN: Quickly, why is it important to hear this?

HOOVER: Because we need to know who our president is going to be, right? If he's running for president, you want to have a character testimony.

There was this whole -- all of the criticism before hand was there was no biography, no character narrative. Here we got some.

BERMAN: We also got some from some people that say that Mitt Romney was a key figure this their life, they were parents who lost a son. They spoke earlier in the night which is significant, but they told a really heart-wrenching story about what Mitt Romney meant to them personally. Let's listen.


PAT OPAROWSKI, FRIEND OF MITT ROMNEY: How many men do you know would take the time out of their busy lives to visit a terminally ill 14- year-old and help him settle his affair? David also helped us plan his funeral. He wanted to be buried in his Boy Scout uniform. He wanted mitt to pronounce his eulogy and he was there to honor that request. We will be ever grateful to Mitt for his love and concern.


BERMAN: Where I was standing in the audience, there were people crying. My question, Eric, is: what does Mitt Romney do with this now?

ERICKSON: I still think even whether it's the Ann Romney speech or these speeches, most of America hasn't heard these. If he can figure a way to package and tell them in advertising, to make him relatable, these were powerful stories. And again, I question the decision about putting Clint Eastward in that time slot instead of this couple.

BERMAN: Since you brought up Clint Eastwood, again, it would be a disservice to the American people this morning not to play yet one more clip of Clint Eastwood's moment on the stage last night, let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: It's that time and if you kind of stepped aside and Mr. Romney can kind of take over, you can still use a plane. Though maybe a smaller one, not that big gas guzzling when you're going to colleges and talking about student loans and stuff like that.

I think you're an ecological man, why would you want to drive that truck around.


BERMAN: You are both laughing this morning. You seem to think this worked.

ERICKSON: You know, what is the difference between Clint Eastwood and Joe Biden? Clint Eastwood didn't get a vice presidential nomination.

HOOVER: Everybody in the hall was sort of looking at each other saying this is kind of weird but this is kind of funny. Apparently at home on TV, it looked hysterical.

ERICKSON: I think it played very well with people in the heartland who are undecided voters in major swing states.

BERMAN: You did make a key point, though, Eric, because every minute we're talking about Clint Eastwood, we are not talking --

ERICKSON: The couple should have been there instead of him.

BERMAN: We're not talking about Romney or that couple.

Erick Erickson of, Margaret Hoover, CNN contributor, we're so happy you're here. Thanks for getting up. I really appreciate it.

Zoraida, let's go back to you in New York.

SAMBOLIN: Really nice conversation. Thank you, John.

Nineteen minutes past the hour.

Your kids certainly have a stake in the 2012 election. Coming up, Christine Romans with what each candidate claims they will do for education in America. We'll be right back.


SAMBOLIN: It is 22 minutes past the hour and we are minding your business this morning.

Education issues are starting to play a part in the race for the White House. Christine Romans has been looking at what the candidates have been saying and what they claim they will do for education in this country.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This has really been the first week where I've seen the education story stick a little bit, because it kind of flairs up on the campaign trail over the last year and then goes away. And this is something that matters to every American and middle class, because if we don't have a good public school education, we can't compete.

I mean, China and India are turning out something like eight times as many engineers as the U.S. and we're turning out kids that aren't ready for college or career out of high school.

So, last night, Jeb Bush really making a big push at the RNC about education in the country. Listen to what he said.


JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: The sad truth is that a quality of opportunity doesn't exist in many of our schools. We give some kids a chance but not all. That failure is the great moral and economic issue of our time and it is hurting all of America.


ROMANS: So school choice, that's the big push from Republicans and from Mitt Romney as well -- school choice. They would like people to take federal tax dollars and go wherever they want their kid to get an education.

You know, but Arne Duncan, the education secretary, I spoke with him yesterday, very interesting there. They are less interested in school choice. They have overlap with Republicans on, you know, pay performance for teachers, on charter schools and the like, but they're not necessarily ready to put more money in a system that's not working.

The education secretary, he wants investments. That's what they call it. They do want to make sure we're still funding education the way we are today. Listen.


ARNE DUNCAN, EDUCATION SECRETARY: We're trying to lead the world in college graduation rates. Again, we used to lead the world a generation today, today we're 16th, we have to invest.


ROMANS: So look, we have to invest. That's what the Obama administration says. Conservatives say what Mitt Romney says, invest in what? The status quo isn't going to work.

Take a look. We're the second in spending in education. We spend more than any other country than Switzerland. But we're 13th in reading, 19th in science, 27th in math. What conservatives say is you're not going to continue to put more money into an education system that doesn't work. Most of them would like to see the Department of Education much smaller. Mitt Romney has also said he'd like to see it a heck of a lot smaller, the Department of Education, and give more choice to state and local governments. SAMBOLIN: Well, he actually said that last night in his speech, that every child should have a choice and every parent should have a choice. So, I thought, you know, those were buried words, I don't know anybody focused on him, but it kind of talks about his platform in education as well.

ROMANS: We have 90 percent of kids go to public school.


ROMANS: So what happens to public schools.

SAMBOLIN: Talk about the voucher systems where you can opt out. Anyway, there's going to be a lot of chatter about this.

ROMANS: And 9:30 tomorrow on my show, tomorrow morning, 9:30, I'm going to do a whole segment, two segments on all of this. So, a lot more on education in the campaign.

SAMBOLIN: Great, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

All right. Twenty-five minutes past the hour.

Let's head over to John Berman, again. He's anchoring our coverage of the Republican National Convention, having breakfast this morning as he does that.

Good morning to you.

BERMAN: Good morning, Zoraida. We're at Pach's Place, a restaurant here in Tampa, because it is cleanup time at the Republican National Convention.

And the big question is, did Mitt Romney nail it? His speech had a little bit of everything. Even some things many voters thought they would never see. Will the poll show it succeeded? We'll have more live from Tampa, coming up next.


BERMAN: Promising jobs for your vote, Mitt Romney takes a fight to President Obama on the biggest stage of his life.

SAMBOLIN: The wet aftermath as Isaac heads north leaving destruction and sadly death in its wake.

Welcome back to EARLY START. It is just about 30 minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin in New York.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman live in Tampa where they are cleaning after the Republican National Convention. It was here last night where Mitt Romney launched the final phase of his campaign with a high stakes speech at the Republican convention.

Romney accepted his party's nomination with an appeal to disappointed and disaffected Americans and asked them to vote President Obama out of office.


ROMNEY: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn't you feel that way now that he's President Obama? You know there's something wrong with the kind of job he's done as president, when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.


BERMAN: Romney says what America needs are jobs, lots of jobs and that he's the man to make it happen.

Meanwhile, with barely a time to breath, the Democratic National Convention will get underway next week with the formal program starting Tuesday in Charlotte. Former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Michele Obama will speak on Tuesday. Carter by remote, Mrs. Obama in person.

On Wednesday, it's President Clinton's turn and then it moves outside to the Bank of America stadium, home of Carolina Panthers.

On Thursday night we'll hear from Vice President Biden and then big speech from President Obama.

We're moving this show from Tampa to Charlotte. I will be live at the Democratic convention all next week. We'll have frequent visits from the best political team on TV.

We also have more coming up with Tampa this morning.

Zoraida, but first, back to you in New York.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you very much, John. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

Death amid all of the destruction, two bodies have now been recovered from a Plaquemines parish home. These are the first casualties caused by hurricane Isaac in the state of Louisiana.

Isaac is now a weakening tropical depression, it's slowly moving north. It left behind entire communities submerged and hundreds of thousands of thousands of people without power, still over 800,000.

The two casualties were a man and woman, they were found floating in their kitchen in seven feet of water.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano is live from New Orleans where they're in recovery mode this morning.

Rob, I wanted to start with two bodies that were found in Plaquemines Parish. I was talking to a lot of people yesterday, and they wanted to know what the latest was there. And they said, why would people not evacuate when there's a mandatory evacuation?

But when we talked to people, because they thought they could ride out a category one hurricane, right? Was that why they stayed behind?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. I mean, that's the misconception and it's frustrating because you give those mandatory evacuations and emergency managers and you want people to heed that warning and a lot don't because they say, well, I rode through Katrina, I rode through Gustav, but every storm is different, regardless of category.

We don't even associate one category with the specific storm surge anymore because it's that specific. And yes, a lot of people didn't evacuate for that reason. I caught up with a number of victims, one or two here and there and had trouble because of immobility because of medical reasons and that may be in my opinion the only real excuse. That's not a good situation either.

Yes, I mean, for whatever reason, you get a lot of storm hardened stubborn people as well. And sadly they got caught as the storm came in, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Can we talk about where it is headed now?

MARCIANO: Yes, it's -- well, thankfully today, it's not going to rain any more in New Orleans and the water should slowly drain in some spots. But along the lake, it's piled up on the western part of the lake and northern part of the lake. And there's still thousands that are displaced from their homes there.

Right now, the rainfall itself is across Arkansas. We've got flood warnings and watches there actually. But it's going to spread into areas to the north and east that could desperately use the rain. A little too little too late for the corn crop across the heartland the Corn Belt, but they'll get five to six inches of rainfall and there will be spotty areas of flooding because it will come down on areas that can't absorb the areas quickly.

One point about Mississippi, I know we've been based here and we've been comparing the storm in some cases to Mississippi. I was in Biloxi when Katrina came in. Again, they got hammered with this storm, even though it was nowhere near making a direct hit.

They got over 17 inches of rain in parts of Mississippi. They too have had fatalities and they also are having their own issues as far as holding back some of the water, from the fresh water -- from the rainfall. A couple of dams inland, they are having some issues there.

So, they are worried that a dam that holds back a lake there, the Percy Quinn Dam may very well fail. That hasn't happened yet but they are taking precautions for that.

So, story is not over yet, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Rob, live for us in New Orleans, thank you for that update.

So, let's head back to Tampa where John Berman is standing by.

The RNC now over, so you're hanging out at a diner?

BERMAN: That's right, they kicked us out of the Republican convention headquarters. We moved out of the CNN grill. We're at Pach's Place. They are serving us a fantastic breakfast. Everyone in the diner talking about the Republican National Convention.

Mitt Romney's big moment in the spotlight, did it work? We'll ask those questions. We'll get some answers. That's coming up live in Tampa. You're watching EARLY START.


BERMAN: So last night, Mitt Romney did something many critics said he was not quite capable of doing. He got a little emotional. He showed a little fire, too. Romney made an impassioned pitch for the country during his acceptance speech. Take a listen here.


ROMNEY: Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, I'm an American. I make my destiny. We deserve better. My children deserve better. My family deserves better, my country deserves better.



BERMAN: Joining me now is someone who is in the hall, along with me watching this speech. She is a Republican Senate candidate in the state of California, taking on Dianne Feinstein on the race there.

Elizabeth Emken, thank you so much for joining us this morning.


BERMAN: You were sitting with the California delegation last night watching?

EMKEN: Yes. This was an amazing experience, just seeing every -- the Clint Eastwood come on and Mitt Romney, really everything that we were hoping for to get this election kick started.

BERMAN: What connected most to you in the audience?

EMKEN: Well, you know, I have to go back a day or two and go back to Ann Romney to tell you what really connected. Ann Romney did such a good job in my view of making that connection with women to her husband. And I just -- the last couple of days, I've really as we're looking at women and our families and what it is we need, especially in California, I just think that connection is so important and we get away from these other topics and focus on what our families really need.

BERMAN: You talk about Ann Romney and women. Governor Mitt Romney tried to address women last night as well. We have a brief clip of what he said.


ROMNEY: My mom and dad were true partners, a life lesson that shaped me by every day example. When my mom ran for the Senate, my dad was there every step of the way. I could still see her saying in her beautiful voice, why should women have any less say than men about the great decisions facing our nation?


BERMAN: You can see Governor Romney getting choked up when he talks about his mom.

EMKEN: Yes, absolutely. And I thought that made a great connection as well. You know, in California, for so long now, our families have been struggling in this economic environment and Dianne Feinstein been in office nearly half a century is out of touch of what women and families are going through in California.

BERMAN: You know, voters say that the Republican Party may be out of touch when it comes to women. I want to -- certainly in the presidential race. Mitt Romney runs behind President Obama on women on favorability, when we asked them, approval of the candidates: Obama, 51 percent, Romney, 41 percent. That's in the latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll.

Why is there that gap?

EMKEN: I think we need to have more women in the Republican Party talking about what it is we're trying to do for families. You know, my background, I was at a non-profit for years. My son has autism and I founded the government relations department at Autism Speaks.

And what I've experienced in my 15 years working on legislative issues is that, for families, they are looking for help. They are looking for leadership and I think we have to do a better job in the Republican Party of putting women out there with real life experiences. I'm a real person.

BERMAN: You are one of these women running for office again. Women have played a prominent role here at this Republican convention.

Elizabeth Emken, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

EMKEN: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: We'll see you in California.

EMKEN: Absolutely.

BERMAN: All right. We have a lot more to talk about in this convention coverage. Coming up, we will look at this event as a whole, the three days. How will it play, will there be a convention bounce? We have Ron Brownstein breaking it all down for us, coming up live on EARLY START.


BERMAN: All right. Soledad O'Brien has been in New Orleans covering Hurricane Isaac. She is back right now. First up, welcome back.


BERMAN: Phenomenal work.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

BERMAN: There was a joy to watch you. What do you have going on "STARTING POINT?"

O'BRIEN: All right. A lot going on. Obviously, we're going to continue to break down Governor Romney's acceptance speech last night, all the highlights and what some people said were the low light (ph). We're going to talk a little bit about what Clint Eastwood did and that empty chair. Did it work or did it not work? How did it play?

We're also going to talk this morning with Ann Romney, the GOP nominee's wife. Senator Ron Johnson is here with us this morning. He's actually sitting right behind me right now. The DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, will talk with us from the Democratic side.

Christine O'Donnell is back talking with us about what she did this week while the RNC was going on and "Time" humor columnist who said I looked like an idiot in my rain gear in the downpour. Joel Stein is back, so I can speed him up.

Also, we're going to talk a little bit more about Isaac. Obviously, it's a tropical depression now, but the damage that has been done has been massive. And we're going to talk a little bit about the aftermath, all the flooding that's there.

And new details about that Colorado movie theater massacre. We're learning a little bit more about the suspect and a phone call that he made right before he opened fire. All that and much more ahead on "Starting Point," and we start in just about 13 minutes or so.

BERMAN: All right. Excellent. Now, as you go get ready for your show, so we certainly do (ph) right now, we're going to stay here. We're going to talk more about the convention. They are sweeping up the hall, cleaning up things right now, and we're trying to figure out, will there be a convention bout?

Last night, Mitt Romney made the case for why he should be president and also for the case in his words for why President Obama should no longer be president. Listen to this.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for president to help create a better future, a future where everyone who wants a job can find a job, where no senior fears for the security of their retirement, and America where every parent knows that their child will get an education that leads them to a good job and a bright horizon.


BERMAN: Democrats will now have their turn in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday, but until then, the Romney campaign will be waiting to see if they have that most coveted of political commodities, a convention bounce. Will they, Ron Brownstein, CNN contributor and political analyst also at "National Journal?" Tell us, will there be a bounce?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Prophecy at 6:00 a.m. Look, I mean, there should be some gain, but the bounce isn't what it used to be. I mean, you know, when you think about it, first of all, the campaigns are much longer now. There's much more information out there about the candidates than they're used to be 20 or 30 years ago when they finally get there.

And more importantly, the electorate is more polarized and dug in. Have you said that there should be some game for Romney? Nothing that happened this week that was likely fundamentally changed the --

BERMAN: What did he achieve and what opportunities did he miss?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, I thought the speech was, like most acceptance speeches, solid but not really soaring. And I think it was most striking for it's tone.

You know, during the whole primary process really throughout the year, probably next week again on the stump, Romney has presented Obama as someone -- President Obama as someone who's departing fundamentally for American values, trying to turn us into European social welfares.

And all of that ideology was enormously muted last night, and the tone was more sorrow than anger. He was -- it felt as though he was trying to give Obama 2008 voters permission to vote against him in 2012 without feeling bad about voting for him the first time. It was a very different tone than they struck usually on the campaign trail.

BERMAN: I have a little clip here which talking about President Obama's experience or lack thereof of job experience and I think you can actually detect that tone you're talking about, more sadness than anger. Let's listen.


ROMNEY: He took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have, and one that was essential to the task at hand. He had almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government.



BERMAN: Effective? BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, I was struck at how far out of the way he went repeatedly to kind of underscore his business experience. Obviously, this is a central point of conflict in the campaign.

The Obama campaign has had enormous success over the last few months in the swing states with advertising basically arguing that Romney's business experience makes him more part of the problem than the solution. He kind of embodies a cut throat (ph) capitalism that is why you, Mr. Swing or Mrs. Swing voter, are feeling more economical insecure.

Last night was a very concerted effort to turn that around not only with him, but with speakers beforehand. There were a lot of speakers also that did a very good job of humanizing him and (INAUDIBLE) even more effective than Ann Romney. Some of those people who he dealt with in the church.

I think the issue is not likability, fundamentally. It's empathy. And on that -- that he can relate to my life, that he can understand the strains in my life. And I'm not sure that they fully filled in that space last night as effectively as they did kind of making him a more likeable kind of person. I still don't think that is the fundamental problem.

BERMAN: That was the opportunity missed in your point?

BROWNSTEIN: I think so. I mean, look, the challenge he faces, people see him now as a man with a plan. That is what he tried above all, I think, to suggest. Listen, I have a plan to get us to 12 million jobs. What they're still questioning is whether that plan will benefit them and their family as opposed to kind of the -- some abstraction of the company or people at the top.

And I think even though they did clearly make him more likeable and show that he's an admirable person in many, many ways, I think that ability to make that connection with kind of a middle income voter and middle income America was not as effective. By the way, have you ever heard Mitt Romney call himself a baby boomer before?

I don't think I ever had. Born in the middle of the country, in the middle of the century, trying to kind of root himself in the center of American experience while the Obama campaign has tried to portray him as sort of that one percent.

BERMAN: So, what does the Obama campaign do now? We go to Charlotte next week. What is the challenge that team Obama to respond to this week?

BROWNSTEIN: So, I found in some ways, the most important -- you know, the positive stuff about Romney was maybe less revealing of what's going to come next and some of the other messages that we heard which have to do with both Medicare, transferring money from Medicare to healthcare and kind of the welfare message, where in essence, the Romney campaign is responding to the charge that he favors the rich by basically making the argument that Obama is taking money from the middle class and giving it to the poor. BERMAN: Let's listen. We have a quick sound bite of that. Let's listen to what Mitt Romney said about Medicare last night.



ROMNEY: His $716 billion cut to Medicare to finance Obamacare will both hurt today's seniors and depress innovation and jobs and medicine.


BERMAN: You thought this would be a liability for the Republican. Have they mitigated this liability?

BROWNSTEIN: No. This is one of the most surprising strategic twists in the campaign. They are going directly on the offense. The Ryan plan, it could hurt Medicare, and the previous (ph) support system is still unpopular among seniors, even the ABC/"Washington Post" poll, 2- 1, negative among White seniors but so is the Obama healthcare plan overwhelmingly unpopular.

And again, if you look at the message on Medicare, it dovetails with the message on welfare, I believe. And the Obama challenge, I think, at the campaign next -- the convention next week is two-fold. One, it is to kind of resubmit that portrait of Romney who favors the few at the expense of many, which they are trying to pain.

Even more importantly, where is President Obama going to take us in the second term? That has been the biggest hold in his campaign. He's kind of defended what he's done. He's made the case that Romney is not one of you.

But in terms of what he would do to get the economy growing faster over the next four years than it has over the previous four years, other than touting his American jobs act from September of 2011 which is pretty modest, there really hasn't been a lot of detail. And I think that is the biggest challenge.

BERMAN: Ron Brownstein, editorial director of the "National Journal," thanks for being with us right now. This convention story half over, and we'll cover the other half next week in Charlotte. Now, let's go back to Zoraida in New York.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you very much, John. It is 52 minutes past the hour. Movie theater massacre suspect, James Holmes, made a phone call just minutes before he allegedly open fire. What his attorney revealed in court? That's coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. James Holmes called the University of Colorado switch board just nine minutes before he allegedly open fire at an Aurora movie theater killing 12 people. The switch board can be used to get ahold of faculty during off hours. Those revelations from his public defender during a packed hearing yesterday. Some of the survivors were also present.

Jim Spellman has been on the story from the beginning and he joins us now from Denver. And Jim, let's focus in on this call that he made just nine minutes before he allegedly open fire. Do we know who he was trying to contact?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know and we don't know if he got through to anybody. But, as you mentioned, this is a number at the main switch board at the University Of Colorado Hospital. It's also the number listed with Dr. Lynne Fenton (ph), a psychiatrist he was seeing as her after hours access number.

That call came just nine minutes before the shooting. And we heard from witnesses in the theater that they saw Holmes make a phone call then step out of the door, come back in a few minutes later wearing his body armor with his guns and beginning shooting.

The whole reason why this is important is because there's a notebook that Holmes allegedly sent to Dr. Fenton in the hours before the shooting. The prosecutors want this. The defense says this is privileged communication between a doctor and a patient. So, we know that he sent this package just hours before the shooting, and he made this phone call just minutes before the shooting.

The defense is saying, look, that shows that no matter what Fenton thought, Holmes thought he still had a relationship with her. That's really key it all goes to creating possibly an insanity defense, that he know what he's doing, was he planning this ahead of time. That's why prosecutors want this notebook -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: There were -- some other revelations also that in 2011, the University of Iowa rejected Holmes graduate application. What can you tell us about that?

SPELLMAN: Yes. It was really fascinating. He was applying to the University of Iowa the same time he's applying to the University of Colorado. So, in addition to sort of boiler plate resume type stuff and the type of thing you would imagine reading in an essay to try to get into Ph.D. program, he had some bizarre things, and one quote that I thought was really interesting.

He says, "I've always been fascinated by the complexities of a long lost thought seemingly arising out of nowhere into a stream of awareness," and they then said, do not offer admission under any circumstances to James Holmes.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Jim Spellman reporting live for us -- I'm sorry. Jim, you're following this for us and we'll get more details and more information as this continues to progress. We appreciate that. Thank you.

It is 58 minutes past the hour, and so, that means we've run out of time. That's it for EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin in New York.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman in Tampa. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.