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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Democratic Convention Kicks Off; Strickland Skewers Romney; Examining Michelle Obama's Speech

Aired September 5, 2012 - 05:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are. No, it reveals who you are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Michelle Obama gets personal. The first lady on her husband's value and vision and really what was the speech of her life.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: A victory rally in Canada. A politician rushed from the podium after deadly gunshots rang out.

Good morning to you. Welcome to early start. I'm Zoraida Sambolin in New York.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman live at the CNN grill in Charlotte for the Democratic Convention.

And this morning, everyone is talking about the missus. Yes, he may be the commander in chief. But she is the mom in chief. And it's no longer clear which one of them can best sell a speech -- because Michelle Obama was the highlight of the first night of the Democratic convention with a passionate, personal appeal for her husband's re- election. To hear the first lady tell it, President Obama is just like the rest of us.

Tonight, the big speech comes from former President Bill Clinton. So there is a lot to talk about.

Joining me now is CNN's Dana Bash.

Who's been killing it all week with us here on EARLY START in the mornings.

So, thanks for being with us again.

What were the highlights from last night?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right. There's no question we all left last evening listening to the first lady who for sure has gotten her mojo when it comes to speaking and when it comes to really being a politician. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): Who's better to convince voters that the Barack Obama they were so excited about four years ago is still that same guy.

OBAMA: When it comes to his character and his convictions and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago.

BASH: Obama officials are keenly aware that polls show Michelle Obama is the most popular political figure in America -- the perfect character witness.

OBAMA: I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are. No, it reveals who you are.

BASH: And though most Americans are familiar with the president's biography, her job was to underscore their shared middle-class philosophy.

OBAMA: He believes that when you've worked hard and done well and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. No, you reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.

BASH: She called herself the mom-in-chief, but showed she is also a savvy politician who didn't have to say Mitt Romney's name to get her digs in.

OBAMA: Because for Barack, success isn't about how much money you make, it's about the difference you make in people's lives.

BASH: The evening's other headliner? A newcomer to the national stage. The 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Julian Castro.

MAYOR JULIAN CASTRO (D), SAN ANTONIO, TX: Texas may be the one place where people actually still have boot straps.

BASH: Castro, the first Latino keynote speaker at a Democratic convention, was introduced by his identical twin brother, a candidate for congress. Castro told the American dream story of his self-taught Mexican-born grandmother.

CASTRO: I can still remember her every morning as Joaquin and I walked out the front door to school making the sign of the cross behind us, saying (SPEAKING SPANISH) -- may God bless you.

BASH: Still in true keynote tradition, he threw the eager Democratic crowd plenty of red meat.

CASTRO: When it comes to letting people love who they love and marry who they want to marry, Mitt Romney says no. When it comes to expanding access to good health care, Mitt Romney --

CROWD: Says no! CASTRO: Actually, Mitt Romney said yes and now he says --

CROWD: No!

BASH: He also reached out to younger voters by calling Romney a flip- flopper in a lexicon of today's pop culture.

CASTRO: Governor Romney has undergone an extreme makeover. And it ain't pretty.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: So Julian Castro showing a very impressive ability to give the crowd the red meat they so love. But he wasn't the only one. There was a lot of energy in that hall last night.

BASH: A lot of energy starting off with Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark. But I thought the most biting speech that was given was a little stark was by the now former governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland.

Let's listen to a little part of that, for example.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED STRICKLAND, FORMER GOVERNOR OF OHIO: Mitt Romney proudly wrote an op-ed entitled "let Detroit go bankrupt." Mitt Romney never saw the point of building something when he could profit by tearing it down. If Mitt was Santa Claus, he would fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So really a lot more talk about Mitt Romney from the Democrats than we sort of had about Barack Obama from the Republicans, at least the first night.

BASH: Absolutely. They were trying to achieve a few things. As you heard from Michelle Obama and even Rahm Emanuel, sort of character witnesses, this is the guy you fell in love with also to many people in the country.

But they also, big part of Ted Strickland's speech was to talk about the things that they believe the president accomplished that should be applauded. He was talking about the auto bailout. A lot of people talked about health care reform.

And the other very important issue is something you just mentioned. It is Mitt Romney. We were just talking about this. The fact is many of the Democrats did it without really sounding -- sounding overly harsh. They were very tough but without sounding like they were going too far.

BERMAN: Julian Castro, he had that smile that's so priceless for a politician where you can deliver an attack while grinning and really stick in the shim.

BASH: That's amazing.

BERMAN: It will take him far, I believe, in politics.

Dana Bash, thank you so much. We'll see you again soon.

BASH: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: The question is how did Mrs. Obama's speech play at home, her home? The White House released a photo of the president and his daughters, Sasha and Malia, watching the first lady's speech from the White House. The president himself is scheduled to arrive here in Charlotte this afternoon ahead of his big speech, which is tomorrow night.

You know who didn't like the convention speeches last night? The Romney campaign. We've got some rapid response from Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul. She said, quote, "On the first night of President Obama's convention, not a single speaker uttered the words 'Americans are better off than they were four years ago.' Instead there was a night full of tributes to government as the solution to every problem."

It's a pretty fair bet the Romney people will not like tonight's speeches either. As we said the headliners are Bill Clinton, former president, and Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren.

How close is this race? A new CNN/ORC poll shows Mitt Romney getting a wee tiny bit of a bounce from last week's Republican convention. Both Romney and President Obama are now at 48 percent. That is a gain of one percentage point for Mitt Romney.

So, the presidential horse race has gone from a virtual tie to an actual tie. At 5:30 Eastern, we're going to talk about convention politics with Margaret Hoover, a CNN contributor who served in the Bush administration, and also Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Maria Cardona.

Both sides a lot to talk about.

But before that, let's go back to Zoraida in New York.

SAMBOLIN: Hey, John, I know that you stayed up late. You listened to all of those speeches live as well.

So, what did you think? What was your takeaway or your favorite moment last night?

BERMAN: I think Dana brought it up, stated it perfectly. Mrs. Obama, Michelle Obama, the first lady, delivered a really politically astute piece. It was well-written. But her delivery was phenomenal. And her growth as a politician or political figure over the years has been extraordinary.

So, everyone left that building last night really buzzing about how she did.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, definitely charged up.

All right. We'll check back in with you. Thank you, John.

It is eight minutes past the hour. Canadian investigators are trying to figure out why a gunman opened fire during a newly elected premier's victory speech. One person was killed. Another is now critically injured.

Quebec's premier elect was rushed off the stage, not hurt, as a suspect was dragged to the police cruiser he shouted in French, the English are waking up. What that alludes to is unclear.

Pauline Marois will be Quebec's first female prime minister.

In just about two hours, two astronauts are scheduled to venture outside the International Space Station for their second spacewalk in six days. They will be attempting to install a spare power switching unit on the space station. A similar attempt last Thursday failed when the astronauts were unable to bolt that unit into place.

Listen to this. Today's space walk is expected to last more than six hours. Quite an undertaking there.

Louisiana officials forced to close 12 miles of beaches this morning. That's because tar balls and oil are washing up onshore from hurricane Isaac. BP is insisting it is to early to tell whether that oil came from the Deepwater Horizon accident.

State officials are also getting a handle on the extent of the damage from Isaac. Ten parishes suffered serious flooding with over 13,000 homes damaged there.

Electricity has now been restored to all but 38,000 customers.

SAMBOLIN: And two bitter rivals clash in tonight's NFL season opener. But forget the Giants and the Cowboys. The real story might be the replacement refs on the field. How it could affect the game. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Thirteen minutes past the hour.

The NFL season kicks off tonight with the Super Bowl champion New York giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys. The first NFL game played on a Wednesday since 1948 to avoid interfering with President Obama's convention address on Thursday night. But some important members of the game will not be on the field.

The NFL is locking out its referees because of a labor dispute. Replacement refs are making the calls. But will this put the players at risk?

Maggie Gray, the anchor of Sports Illustrated video, joins us to tell us what this means for the upcoming season. Thanks for coming.

First I just kind of want an overview of the situation, what's happening.

MAGGIE GRAY, ANCHOR, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED VIDEO: Right now both sides are stalled in their labor negotiations. Essentially what these referees want is an increase in compensation. Of course, it's all about money.

Also for their pensions. Right now, the league wants to put them on a 401(k) pension even though these are part-time employees, not full- time. And the referees want to keep the pensions that they have right now.

SAMBOLIN: So in the meantime, while they're negotiating and trying to work that all out we have some other referees that are joining the game now. A lot of people are criticizing them because they're inexperienced.

GRAY: Yes. The much maligned replacement referees. Can you imagine stepping into the spotlight when you're a division 2 or 3 referee or arena league football? And now all of a sudden you have stadiums of 80,000 ravage fans hanging on every word that you say and every call that you make? It's a very difficult position for them.

The league has tried to give them the kind of education that they need. But it's impossible to make up for the type of experience that the normal referees would have.

So there have been some embarrassing gaffes for the replacement officials in the preseason games. And those have gotten a lot of attention.

But people have to remember the fans and the players complain about referees whether they're replacements or whether they're the full-time ones. So I think in a way the spotlight is very hot on these replacement referees, and it's -- it's unfortunate because you want to have the best of the best on the field. Because of this labor dispute, it doesn't seem like that's happening.

SAMBOLIN: Particularly for the players. Couldn't this be a problem?

GRAY: Well, if you listen to the NFL referees association, they believe they're an integral part of keeping the players safe, because they are trained to recognize the symptoms of concussions. How much a referee can actually keep a 350-pound offensive lineman safe? I'm not really sure.

But the other argument that's being made to have the regular referees back is, you know, the pace of the game can be very important strategy to a lot of teams. If the replacement officials are taking too long to decide on calls and to huddle and taking longer than regular referees are, that can be a problem.

Also if they're afraid to throw flags. Sometimes these players and coaches can get very intimidating. And if you're not used to that kind of treatment and scorn on the sidelines, then maybe you swallow your whistle at a time when you maybe wouldn't.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my gosh!

All right. I can't let you go without giving a little preview of the 2012 season.

GRAY: Yes, there's major storylines. Of course, in New York Tim Tebow. All over the world, Tim Tebow is the most famous backup quarterback of all time. That experiment starts Sunday against the Bills. We'll see the Wildcat formation and how Tebow does.

Also, the New Orleans Saints, how they're going to respond from the bounty gate scandal that plagued them this off season. They'll be without their head coach Sean Payton all yearlong. They have a few other suspensions that they have to deal with.

And, finally, Peyton Manning in New Jersey. He's a Bronco now. First of all, is he healthy? And second of all, is the arm strength still there for the four-time MVP?

SAMBOLIN: Well, at least it's finally beginning.

So, we're going to invite you back often.

GRAY: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: So you still chat with us. Really appreciate it.

GRAY: The best day for the year of us.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it is.

Maggie Gray in for Sports Illustrated Video -- thank you for that.

John, back to you in North Carolina.

BERMAN: Go, Patriots.

SAMBOLIN: I know. He wishes he was here talking to you, Maggie.

BERMAN: Tom Brady is so dreamy. How can that not be the big story of the season?

We'll move on about the top stories of today. That's right. How about some politics?

Tom Brady is dreamy and you're top stories coming up right now at 17 minutes after the hour.

First Lady Michelle Obama, she brought the house down with her opening speech at the Democratic National Convention. Her message? The president shares the values of average Americans, and she says he understands their struggles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Barack knows the American dream because he's lived it. And he wants everyone in this country, everyone, to have the same opportunity no matter who we are or where we're from or what we look like or who we love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker brought some fire to the convention floor. He was one of the early speakers talking about the differences between the GOP and the Democratic Party platforms. He said asking the rich to pay more taxes is their patriotic duty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: When your country is in a costly war with our soldiers sacrificing abroad and our nation is facing a debt crisis at home, being asked to pay your fair share isn't class warfare. It's patriotism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And tonight's convention headliner, Zoraida, former President Bill Clinton.

SAMBOLIN: It is 18 minutes past the hour.

The Pentagon really not pleased with the retired navy SEAL's book with the firsthand account of the killing of Osama bin Laden. The head of the Naval Special Warfare Command saying the book "No Easy Day" includes classified material and could give enemies dangerous insight into the way the SEALs are trained and the way they operate. The book was released yesterday a week early and it stormed to the top of Amazon. It's even outselling the "Fifty Shades" series.

BERMAN: It is time to get an early read on your local news that's making national headlines.

And first up, we're going to begin with some Democratic National Convention word play courtesy of the "New York Times." They have an interactive cloud. The biggest so far, there's Obama, work, women, Romney and jobs. That makes sense. I mean, obviously, the names of the people and the messages they're really trying to push here.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, no surprises there.

All right. A California attorney says he is considering filing a discrimination lawsuit against American Airlines for preventing his family from taking a cross-country flight.

Listen to this, the "Fresno Bee" reports Robert Vanderhorst (ph), his wife and 16-year-old son with Down's syndrome were told they couldn't get on their Newark to Los Angeles flight on Sunday. Why?

Because their son, quote, "was not ready to fly." The airline claims the teenager was agitated and was running around the gate area right before boarding. Vanderhorst says none of that is true. He believes after upgrading his family to first class for $675, the airline was afraid his son might disturb the other first-class passengers.

American rebooked the family on a United Airlines flight in the last row of coach. The family actually released some video as well showing that boy sitting right next to his mom and playing with a hat. I'm sure we'll have much more on that story.

BERMAN: Thanks, Zoraida.

You know, for an expanded look at all our top stories, you can head to your blog, which is CNN.com/EarlyStart.

SAMBOLIN: And one week from today, Apple will reveal its latest gadget. And we think we know what it is. More on that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Twenty-four minutes past the hour. We are minding your business this morning. U.S. stock futures are downright now. Trading is expected to be choppy worldwide, ahead of two big events. The European Central Bank's stimulus plans and Friday's big jobs report.

Got some explaining to do. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to give his first interview since the embarrassing Facebook IPO at the TechCrunch Conference. That's in San Francisco on September 11th. Even though many early investors dumped Facebook stock, Zuckerberg says he is hanging on to his share for at least the next year. Zuckerberg owns about 444 million shares plus an option for another 60 million.

Facebook stock fell to a new low of $17.55 a share during trading day yesterday.

And Walmart is cutting its layaway fee from $15 to $5. The company brought back the really popular payment plan last year after a five- year hiatus. Walmart announced the change after Toys "R" Us said it is offering free layaway until October 31st and then $5 after that.

And the waiting for you may soon be over. Apple is handing out invites to a special event next week, September 12th. It is widely expected to be the unveiling of the new iPhone. The invitation to the event just released includes the number five in the shadow of the 12 date. Anticipation of the new phone has helped push Apple stock price up. Can you believe it? To $675 a share. And shares are up more than 60 percent, listen to this, this year alone.

And if claims by a bold group of hackers proves true, personal IDs of millions of Apple users may have been stolen, including President Obama's. How a government computer may have been breached. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CASTRO: When it comes to getting the middle class back to work, Mitt Romney says no. When it comes to respecting women's rights, Mitt Romney says no.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Chance of a lifetime. A relative unknown delivers the Democrats' keynote convention speech.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Dramatic video. Take a look. A high-speed cruise takes a very dangerous turn when the boat slams into a wave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 30 minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin in New York.

BERMAN (on-camera): And I'm John Berman live at the CNN Grill in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention. And this is where first lady, Michelle Obama, closed the first day of the convention overnight, which included also speeches from Newark mayor, Cory Booker, Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and a keynote address from rising Democratic star and San Antonio mayor, Julian Castro.

We have a revolving door of panelists with us this morning to break this all down. With me now is senior CNN congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, CNN contributor and Republican strategist, Margaret Hoover, and CNN contributor and Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona.

Now, you were all three outstanding individuals, three accomplished human beings, but also three women. And I want to talk about women, because Michelle Obama talked a lot about women. Ann Romney talked a lot about women. It's almost like you're an interest group, but you're more than half of us.

So, let's listen to the comparison of what Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Romney said in their speeches. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: He's thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day's work. That's why he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And, he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our healthcare.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: That's what my husband stands for.

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: We're the mothers. We're the wives. We're the grandmothers. We're the big sisters. We're the little sisters, and we are the daughters. You know it's true, don't you? (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: I love you, women!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: There is nothing subtle about this, speaking directly to women, both Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Romney. What's going on here?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What's going on here is that women make up the majority of the electorate. What's going on is that when you look at the areas of the swing states that really could turn this election they are, and they are historically, suburban areas and suburban women are the swing voters. So, those are the exact voters that they're all --

BERMAN: Margaret, last week you weren't so sure that Mrs. Romney was the homerun. You said that maybe she hit a note that may not resonate perfectly with women. What did you think about last night?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I think they're both wonderful ambassadors of their husbands. I think that Michelle Obama, I think, might have even done a better job than Ann Romney as personalizing and serving as a character witness to her husband's successes. Interestingly, I think she didn't get into any of the policy.

I mean, we actually know who her husband is. He's been the president for four years. But she told us again anyway. Without getting into any of what she saw over the last four years as a character witness of the difficult decisions her husband made. She didn't mention Osama Bin Laden. She didn't mention cars. She didn't mention stimulus.

She just sort of over -- in an overarching way talked about the difficult decisions he's made. Look, we're fighting over women. And what Dana says is true. It's independent women in eight different states in about 300 different counties. Those are the women that are going to make up the election.

BERMAN: Maria.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And I'll add one thing. In addition to being a woman, I'm a Latina woman. So, last night, I think not just Michelle Obama, but Julian Castro really spoke to the interest of Latina women, and frankly, all immigrant women who speak to the experience of what it is to fight for and achieve the American dream.

And what I think is interesting about Michelle Obama's speech is that it was incredibly personal in a way that I hadn't really heard her be in terms of relating to her husband and the difficult decisions that he's made. But I do think that she was political because she mentioned Lilly Ledbetter, for example.

She mentioned the choice issue. She mentioned -- and Julian Castro did this brilliantly as well -- they really explained all of these government programs that Republicans don't like. But they did it in a way that was very personal and tangible. And they did it in a way that explained how that bridges for people to opportunity and to success, especially those people who aren't born with it.

BERMAN: The Republican criticism, though, of the night, that it was really a big government night. This was promoting government.

BASH: Absolutely.

HOOVER: It was. I mean, when you talk about --

BERMAN: No debate here. Yes.

HOOVER: -- investing in ourselves, right? If you're investing in ourselves, that's code for spending. How is the government investing in people and its infrastructure as (ph) anything if it's not spending? And so, where is the balance? One of the others things I was struck by is this necessity of the Democrats to take back the American dream narrative from the Republican National Convention.

Marco Rubio talked about it. Republicans talked about it very compellingly and so did Julian Castro.

BERMAN: I want to talk about Julian Castro. Maria, you tweeted last night. I follow you on the Twitters, and you said you're so proud to be a Latino Democrat right now. That was during Castro's speech. I want to play a small clip of it right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASTRO: And because he knows that we don't have an ounce of talent to waste, the president took action to lift the shadow of deportation from a generation of young, law-abiding immigrants called dreamers.

Republicans tell us that if the most prosperous among us do even better, that somehow the rest of us will, too. Folks, we've heard that before. First, they called it trickle down, then they called it supply side, now it's Romney/Ryan or is it Ryan/Romney? Either way, their theory's been tested. It failed.

Our economy failed. The middle class paid the price. Your family paid the price. Mitt Romney just doesn't get it!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I want to go back to the first part of that where he talked about lifting the shadow of deportation, because in truth, the shadow you could argue has gotten a little bit darker under President Obama. He deported 1.4 million illegal immigrants in his first 3 1/2 years in office. George Bush deported two million over eight years.

CARDONA: W hat Julian Castro was specifically talking about were the dreamers, the students, the deferred action, the executive order that the president put in place about two months ago which, yes, it actually has lifted that shadow of deportation for all of these kids who came here through no fault of their own and who just want to study, want to work hard, want to serve in the military, want to achieve the American dream for a country that is their own.

They know no other country. Many instances, they only know English. They know no other language. So, yes, that absolutely has happened. And that is a huge deal in the Latino community, because it actually shows that this president, though, he wasn't able to get immigration reform done, he is committed to trying to do what he can to do right by these immigrants.

BERMAN: Unfortunately, that's got to be our last word. I wish we could keep on talking. This is fascinating. Maria Cardona, Margaret Hoover, Dana Bash, we'll see you all again very soon. I think even this morning.

We're going to move on now. It was a rousing speech from former Ohio governor, Ted Strickland last night. It not only fired up the Democratic convention, it also became one of the highest trending topics on twitter. Strickland relentlessly skewered Mitt Romney for practicing what he calls vulture capitalism, accusing the GOP nominee of profiting off the destruction of jobs and companies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED STRICKLAND, FORMER OHIO GOVERNOR: Mitt Romney never saw the point of building something when he could profit by tearing it down. If Mitt was Santa Claus, he would fire the reindeer and outsource the elves!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: You know, Ted Strickland, he didn't stop there. The former Ohio governor claimed Mitt Romney has so little economic patriotism even his money needs a passport. Strickland on fire last night.

Meantime, the Romney campaign, Mitt Romney, himself, continues to prepare for the upcoming debates which leaves his running mate, Paul Ryan, to spread their message that Americans are not better off than they were before President Obama took office. Campaigning in Iowa, Ryan continued to use Jimmy Carter to mock the president's record on the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not working. Obamanomics is not working. More bankruptcies, more delinquent mortgages, higher unemployment. When it comes to job, President Obama makes the Jimmy Carter years look like the good old days. If we fired Jimmy Carter then, why would we rehire Barack Obama now?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Paul Ryan campaigns in Iowa again today before he heads to Utah for a fundraiser. Mitt Romney is expected to make a brief campaign stop this afternoon in New Hampshire. At the top of the hour coming up, Ryan Lizza, a CNN contributor and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker" will join us with a look at what's still ahead for the Democrats. He has written a really fantastic inside look at the Obama/Clinton relationship. And he has some secrets about what is behind tonight's speech. So, you'll want to stay with us for that.

In the meantime, let's go back to Zoraida in New York.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you very much, John. Thirty-nine minutes past the hour.

The national debt tops $16 trillion, and the GOP, you know, they pounce.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): A Mitt Romney spokesman saying, quote, "The next generation has been saddled with enormous debt because of President Obama's policies."

President Obama has said Republicans blocked a debt deal because they don't want to level higher taxes on the wealthy. He has also said the debt began exploding under former president, George W. Bush.

And the FBI denying claims by a hacker's group that they accessed personal information on millions of Apple users from a government computer, including President Obama's iPad. The group Antisec (ph) posted online what it claims are the IDs of more than a million iPhones and iPads. The hackers say in all 12 million Apple IDs were obtained from an FBI agent's laptop.

And look at this incredible video out of Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. A family out boating hits a large wave as their power boat passes another boat. And they all violently topple. Look at that. The driver and six passengers were injured in last Friday's accident. Five of them were sent to the hospital with what's described as minor to moderate injuries.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Scary moments there. Forty minutes past the hour.

Let's get a check on today's weather. Rob Marciano live in Atlanta for us. Good morning to you, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Zoraida. I want to start off with tropical storm Leslie way out there in the Atlantic about 500 miles south of Bermuda, but it's a large storm with tropical storm force winds out 200 miles in this thing. Already, waves propagating to the east coast.

So, everybody along the east coast can get a piece of this as far as waves go. Some rip currents as well. And we think it will become a hurricane and make a run at Bermuda and potentially the Maritimes of Canada over the next really week. It won't get to Bermuda until over the weekend, Saturday night into Sunday.

Speaking of tropical, boy, that tropical moisture across the eastern third of the country, you're just wearing it the past couple of days. Some of the rainfall tallies across the east coast yesterday, Philadelphia, three inches. Islip, New York seeing an inch and a half, and it came down in a hurry. You can see similar stuff today.

Spotty showers, when it happens, it will happen with a lot of rainfall. Severe weather potentially across parts of the Western Great Lakes and temperatures that will be well above average from Chicago all the way down to Dallas. Temperatures could touch 100 degrees in some spots. How about that? Zoraida, back up to you.

SAMBOLIN: It's like summer all over again. Thank you very much, Rob.

MARCIANO: All right.

SAMBOLIN: Ahead on EARLY START, it is the place where President Kennedy celebrated his last birthday. It's also where President Nixon made the decision to resign. I'll take you onboard the presidential yacht "USS Sequoia" when EARLY START continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START.

It is a national landmark, home to dozens of moments that changed history and actually the world forever. I'm talking about the "USS Sequoia." An 87-year-old, 104-foot-yacht that has served at least nine presidents and hosted dozens of world leaders as well. And I got a chance to take a tour. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Before Air Force One or Marine One, there was the "USS Sequoia." Known as the presidential yacht, this vessel has quietly held some of the most poignant moments in U.S. presidential history. From decisions on the atomic bomb, to a resignation, to a president's last birthday celebration.

Welcome aboard, the "USS Sequoia." Gary Silversmith is the owner of this restored 1925 trampy designed yacht. Silversmith is a lover of history, and luckily for me, a fantastic tour guide.

GARY SILVERSMITH, OWNER: This table is where President Kennedy celebrated his last birthday. It's where President Truman played poker, where Truman reportedly decided to drop the atomic bomb, where Lyndon Johnson lobbied for civil rights legislation, and where Eisenhower and Field Marshal Montgomery worked on the Marshall plan for rebuilding Europe.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Is this pretty much the way that it looked?

SILVERSMITH: This is --

SAMBOLIN: (INAUDIBLE). SILVERSMITH: Yes, it was.

SAMBOLIN: Did you see that? You got to see it. It says --

SILVERSMITH: It says Queen Elizabeth.

SAMBOLIN: First class only. And then, it says Queen Elizabeth. I'll consider myself a queen, but not Queen Elizabeth, huh?

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Oh.

SILVERSMITH: So this is where -- so, this is where everybody relaxes.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): President Johnson often enjoyed the upper deck.

SILVERSMITH: Lyndon Johnson liked to use the boat a lot both for business and pleasure. So, we have letters from senators to Lyndon Johnson from the LBJ Library that say thank you for the ride on the Sequoia. Now, we will vote for the voting rights act. In fact, the joke was that he would take you out on the Sequoia, not let you back until you agreed to vote.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Great strategy.

It is here in the main talon (ph) where President Kennedy celebrated his 46th birthday. Despite the revelry, he was reportedly suffering such intense back pain his brother, Ted, blew out the candles on his cake. He would not live to see another birthday.

SILVERSMITH: His last birthday party, May 29th, 1963, he had crab meat with holen dais sauce with asparagus. But, of course, Kennedy had good taste, so they did have (INAUDIBLE).

SAMBOLIN: 1955.

SILVERSMITH: 1955.

SAMBOLIN: It was an August night in 1974 when Nixon arguably made one of the biggest decisions of his presidency sitting at the piano drinking scotch.

SILVERSMITH: So, Nixon sat alone at the piano, drinking out of a bottle of scotch, and in the dark, and played for a half hour over and over again on the piano "God bless, America." And as he finished, he got up from the piano, staggered to this door, opened the sliding door, and he said to his family, I'm resigning tomorrow. So, this was reportedly where he decided to resign the presidency.

SAMBOLIN: And now, the vessel's guest quarters. If these walls could talk.

(on-camera) All right. So, Kennedy slept in this bed.

SILVERSMITH: Kennedy slept in it. And --

SAMBOLIN: May I?

(LAUGHTER)

SILVERSMITH: Absolutely. It was a firm mattress put in for Kennedy.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, it is. It's hard.

SILVERSMITH: It is hard. I know.

SAMBOLIN: How does it feel to own a piece of history?

SILVERSMITH: When I'm having drinks on the fish deck with the president of Czech Republic, it's -- it's because of a vessel. It's not because he wants to meet a Washington lawyer.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: So, it was President Carter who made the decision to sell the Sequoia during his administration. He felt having a presidential yacht was just a bit ostentatious.

John Berman, we're going to head back to you in Charlotte. I know that you were really looking forward to this piece and that piece of history. You know, when I was talking about the Sequoia, you knew exactly what the "USS Sequoia" was.

BERMAN: Oh, it's such an important piece of history. And of course, it's so fascinating. I can't believe you really got to go on it. So interesting, of course, that Jimmy Carter sold it, as you said, in 1977. Can you imagine in this day and age, all the debt and deficits we've racked up, if a president had a yacht?

That you know, (INAUDIBLE) and took a ride on the yacht. How badly that would seem today? It's amazing that it ever was acceptable to me in some ways.

SAMBOLIN: Well, no, but, you know, Gary Silversmith, what he said was that, you know, this is a piece of American history, and it really belongs to the government. So, although, he feels privileged to own it, he just feels that he is not the rightful owner. That we should be the rightful owners.

So, at the end of the day, he would love to see it in a museum. But I argue that how great that we can actually get on it, right, and really enjoy it and walk through history.

BERMAN: I think it's amazing.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: Some of the stories there that I had never heard before were just really, really interesting. Thank you so much, Zoraida. I'm so glad you got to see it.

Next on EARLY START, maybe not so much history. Actor, Kal Penn's, attempt to be both hilarious and insightful at the Democratic convention. And why the hash tag, sexy face, is trending this morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Time for a look at what is trending on the internet this morning. What is trending is Kumar saying yes, we can, again. Actor and former Obama appointee, yes, he worked in the White House, Kal Penn firing up the crowd at the Democratic convention and using some lingo that the kids will probably love.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAL PENN, ACTOR: So, before I close, and as I wonder which Twitter hash tags you'll start using when I'm done talking, hash tag sexy face, I ask all of you young people to join me. You don't even have to put pants on. Go to commit.barackobama.com and register right there. And you know what? The oldies out there, you guys can do it, too. OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: The oldies out there.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: That's going to go over well. How many oldies out there?

BERMAN: I don't know how it played at home, but actually, I have to tell you, the crowd did not seem that into it. There weren't the huge laughs you might expect from Kal Penn.

SAMBOLIN: That's because they always expect him to be super over the top.

All right. The new Green Lantern is an Arab-American Muslim. DC comic's debuting Simon Baz, Lebanese -- yes -- American hero from Dearborn, Michigan who wears an Arabic tattoo on the same arm as his power ring. Nearly half of Dearborn's population is Arab-American, and he shares the same background as the writer to re-launched Green Lantern series.

He is not the first Muslim comic hero. Marvel Comic has Dust, a young Afghan woman who is part of the X-Men series. Did you know that?

BERMAN: You know, I did not know Dust was a Muslim. And that's interesting from Green Lantern. I do like the super heroes, I have to admit.

Now, you did not hear from Ron Paul last week at the Republican National Convention. He did not speak there. But, Mitt Romney's former campaign rival did get to speak last night as a guest of Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": That had to be rough for Ron Paul. You run for president. You win a bunch of delegates. Not only is he not allowed to speak, he couldn't even sit down because they gave his chair to Clint Eastwood.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: You had delegates. Obviously, you have popularity. Why didn't you get a speaking role?

REP. RON PAUL, (R) TEXAS: Well, you know, on Sunday, before the convention started, we had our own rally. We had about 11,000 people show up. And, of course --

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: Of course, the convention was supposed to start on Monday, but it was postponed because the hurricane didn't come.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: But, anyway, when we went over there, we had high expectations. Thought maybe we could work things out. They said the tent was too small. We had too many people.

LENO: Let me ask you a question. Had you endorsed Romney, would you have gotten a speaking role?

PAUL: I imagine, I would have, yes.

LENO: Really?

PAUL: I think so. Sure.

LENO: I mean, do they make that -- is that a prerequisite?

PAUL: It's not in writing.

(APPLAUSE)

LENO: What did you make of Clint Eastwood's talk?

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: It was really a talk. It wasn't a speech.

PAUL: I probably wouldn't have given that one either.

LENO: Yes. You wouldn't have given that one.

The big question, any chance you will run as a third party?

PAUL: No. Not much. I have to take a rest and prepare for 2016. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Did he say just kidding at the end there?

BERMAN: He said 2016. He's not a young man. A lot of people think his son, Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky is more likely to run in 2016, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty-six minutes past the hour here.

This morning's top stories are coming up, including a high stake space walk outside the International Space Station. Astronauts about to try where they've already failed before.

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