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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Bill Clinton Delivers; Political Ripple Effect of Afghan Insider Attacks; "I Want Barack Obama To Be The Next President"; Oil And Tar Balls Washing Ashore

Aired September 6, 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)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We simply cannot afford to give the reins of government to someone who will double-down on trickle- down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The show stopper, Bill Clinton, political maestro, brings the Democrats to their feet.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And tonight, the man himself, President Obama makes his case to be the next two-term Democrat. The acceptance speech moved indoors and it might get a little loud.

Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. We're happy you're with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin in New York.

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

And, Zoraida, this was a tour de force last night -- Bill Clinton, the big dog, showing he might be out of office but not out of tricks. He was part politician, part preacher, part lawyer, with a comprehensive and exhaustive defense of President Obama's record. And on offense, making the case for four more years.

This was all the more remarkable because remember, their relationship is complicated to say the least.

CNN's Dana Bash joins me now.

And, Dana, this was long, 45 points. But you got the sense of the people in the audience, they would have taken even more.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They would have taken even more -- 48 minutes and 30 seconds by the producers of this program's count. He went off-script as he just wants to do, it was Bill Clinton after all. But they certainly did eat it up.

And it was a speech that the Democratic Party certainly was waiting for.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BASH (voice-over): This is the lasting image of the evening, an embrace four years ago few could imagine.

But the former president made clear, bitterness over the bruising battle between his wife and Obama is ancient history. Repeatedly making case for four more years as only Bill Clinton can.

CLINTON: If you wants a winner-take-all, your own your own society, you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility, we're all in this together society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

BASH: The man who could famously feel your pain vouched for Obama's empathy.

CLINTON: I want to nominate a man who's cool on the outside, but who burns for America on the inside.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: He eagerly reminded people he presided over historic economic prosperity as he pushed back on GOP arguments that Obama could have done more.

CLINTON: No president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Now -- but he has -- he has laid the foundations for a new, modern, successful economy, a shared prosperity. And if you will renew the president's contract, you will feel it.

BASH: And he tore apart the Romney economic plan.

CLINTON: They're going to cut the taxes way more than they cut spending, especially with that big defense increase. And they'll just explode the debt and weaken the economy. And they'll destroy the federal government's ability to help you by letting interest gobble up all your tax payments.

BASH: Arguing today's uncompromising GOP has been hijacked by the right. He framed Obama's willingness to compromise in the most personal of ways.

CLINTON: President Obama appointed several members of his cabinet, even though they supported Hillary in the primary. Heck, he even appointed Hillary.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Heck.

BASH: That was so vintage Bill Clinton. That obviously was by far the highlight so far. Earlier, the way that the day started was not so good. It was pretty awful, even chaotic for the Democrats. They tried to fix an error that they realized they made politically by taking out the word God from the plot form and taking out the concept of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

They changed it but they did it in a way that they had to have a voice vote to do so. And the chair of the convention, Mayor Villaraigosa, he had to go it three times to be able to say, I think we have pictures of this, that there was a two-thirds majority. I was standing there, John, during this awkward moment. There was booing. There was actual booing in the room. There were not a lot of people who were happy about that.

BERMAN: You can see it right here. This was a real moment of chaos and completely unforced error I think for the Democrats and one they cleaned up fast, but maybe not completely.

I should say later on "STARTING POINT," Soledad O'Brien will talk to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairman of the Democratic Party, about the controversial changes to the platform and frankly, her controversial and sometimes flat-out contradictory explanations for this change in the platform.

Brianna Keilar talked to her last night. It was a really stunning interview. We'll get to that again a little bit later.

But, first, I want to talk more about this speech. I want to bring in Ryan Lizza, who is a CNN contributor, also writes for the "New Yorker" -- and is really the principal writer this week of the Clinton/Obama relationship.

And my question to you, Ryan, is that speech last night, could Bill Clinton possibly have done anything more for Barack Obama?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I've been looking at all the reviews this morning and even among conservatives. The harshest criticism you can find is that it went a little too long, right, and maybe it should have been edited down.

The more I thought about it, watching the speech, when you know these guys have had a difficult relationship, when you know at the bottom they're not close friends as Bill Clinton said in an interview before the speech, he said we're not close friends.

BASH: They don't have a bromance.

LIZZA: They don't have a bromance.

But when you know that and then you watch the speech and you see him go logically through the case for why Obama is better than Romney, it's sort of to me it makes the power of the argument a little stronger. If you're sort of loosely attached Obama voter from 2008 who's looking at this guy and is a little skeptical, wondering what's happening to the economy, who better to make that case to you than somebody who's been skeptical of Obama for a long time. So, I think in terms of the voters they're trying to reach, this was the guy to do it. This was an amazing speech.

BERMAN: It was like a lawyerly defense, Barack Obama. Who are the voters he's trying to reach?

LIZZA: They're white, down-scale voters who frankly, Democrats, not just Obama, have struggled with or haven't won much more than 40 percent in decades. And those are the people that Bill Clinton has always done a good job speaking to. Remember, this guy comes into this speech with I think a 69 percent approval rating. Michelle Obama the night before has high approval ratings.

It's a powerful one-two punch, two of the only national politicians that have ratings like that. Most politicians just don't get that high anymore.

BERMAN: Alex Castellanos, who's a CNN contributor, also a former Republican consultant who made ads for none other than Mitt Romney, last night after the speech came on CNN and essentially said they should shut down the convention right now. That was the speech that may have elected Barack Obama. That's pretty out there.

LIZZA: I wonder if Alex is getting calls from his Republican friends saying, hey, tone it down, Alex.

BASH: It is true. You asked the question about who he's trying to reach. I think that there are no question that there are -- I mean, you probably know some personally, people who are 2008 Obama supporters who just are disappointed in him. And disappointed in what he has done.

And for President Clinton to do this and not just give, I think you're right, a lawyerly explanation of why, but also to give it in a way that looks like he's really emoting and he means it, it's hard to --

BERMAN: And as Ryan brought up, sometimes more effectively than the White House has done itself over the last few years. We'll bring you guys back and talk more about this a little bit.

Dana Bash, Ryan Lizza -- thanks for being with us.

We're going to move on ,a bit more from overnight. The Romney campaign -- they were predictably unenthused by Bill Clinton's remarks, saying the speech helped bring Obama's failures into focus.

The campaign released a statement that says in part, "Bill Clinton worked with Republicans, balanced the budget, and after four years he could say you were better off. Barack Obama hasn't worked across the aisle. He's barely worked with other Democrats and has the worst economic record of any president in modern history."

So, those reviews from the Romney campaign not as good as perhaps from some of the other commentators last night.

The battleground state of Ohio could decide the race for the White House in November. It was the Buckeye State that formerly gave Barack Obama the Democratic nomination, moments after Bill Clinton's speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ohio, Madam Secretary, casts all 188 votes for the president and the next president of the United States, Barack Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The convention wraps up tonight with speeches from Vice President Biden and, of course, the big speech from President Obama.

The vice president did pay a visit to the Time Warner Cable Arena yesterday for a walk-through on the stage. The vice president getting a feel for what he'll be looking at later tonight.

Now, the vice president and the president were supposed to give their speeches outdoors in front of 74,000 people at Bank of America Stadium. But Democrats had to move the speech back inside because of weather concerns. By the way, that change in venue means they're not going to have any balloons. No balloon drop at a convention.

The bottom of the hour, we're going to talk to Margaret Hoover and Richard Socarides. We're going to have much more convention analysis, a lot to talk about.

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

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you very much, John.

Ten minutes past the hour.

Former President Clinton did not do it in his speech, neither did Mitt Romney. That's why U.S. service members will be listening to president tonight to see if he mentions the war in Afghanistan.

We're going to go live to Kabul, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Thirteen minutes past the hour.

U.S. service members will be watching President Obama very closely tonight as he caps the Democratic National Convention. They're waiting to see if he will mention the war in Afghanistan.

His GOP rival, Mitt Romney did not mention Afghanistan at all during his speech last week at the Republican National Convention.

Anna Coren is following the developments in Kabul.

Have you been speaking to the soldiers there? I know there was a lot of criticism here from a lot of the vets saying, what about us? ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zoraida, I have spoken to U.S. troops. I have to say, they were shocked and disappointed that the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did not mention the war in Afghanistan, made no mention of it whatsoever. You know, there are 80,000 U.S. troops who are fighting and dying here in Afghanistan and if you are auditioning for the role of commander-in-chief, then the last you can do is acknowledge those men and women.

We know that this is an unpopular war, there's no doubt about it. Two-thirds of Americans are against it. Unfortunately, the public is growing tired of it, losing interest in it.

But this can't go from being Obama's war of necessity to America's forgotten war -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: What is it they are saying they would like to hear?

COREN: Well, I think they want to hear the president acknowledge them. I mean, I don't think there's any doubt he's going to mention the death of Osama bin Laden, fact that he's pulled troops out of Iraq and he has a plan for Afghanistan as well. But, you know, the fact that they should be mentioned and hopefully will be mentioned, is a great thing for morale.

These men and women are working, they're fighting, they're training and they are dying. And it is very disheartening for them to hear their leader or their potential leader, not even mention the hard work that they are doing, the sacrifice that they are doing.

I can assure you that all U.S. troops, including General John Allenby, the commander of NATO forces here in Afghanistan will be closely watching what President Barack Obama has to say at the Democratic convention.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Anna Coren, live for us, thank you very much. We appreciate that.

It is 15 minutes past the hour.

Tragedy in Nebraska where four people died after a school bus collided with a tractor-trailer. This happened Tuesday afternoon near Blue Hill, Nebraska. The Webster County sheriff says both drivers were killed, along with two passengers on the bus. The ages of those passengers has not been released yet. Four children between the ages of 6 and 10 were injured in that crash.

Costa Rica is reeling from one of the strongest earthquakes to ever hit the country. It's surveying the damage at this hour after yesterday's 7.6 magnitude jolt hit the Nicoya Peninsula. There are conflicting reports about casualties there. Emergency officials said at least one person had died from a heart attack that happened during the quake. But the president later said there were no human losses.

Show me your papers stands. A federal judge denying a request to block the controversial provision in Arizona's immigration law, citing the Supreme Court's June decision that upheld it. She originally blocked the provision back in 2010. The ACLU says it is prepared to keep challenging the law by documenting racial profiling in the state of Arizona.

And the kickoff to the 2012 NFL season was a kick in the gut to the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The Dallas Cowboys beat Big Blue, 24-17. Cowboys quarterback, Tony Romo, had a big night with three touchdown passes.

As for those replacement refs, what about them? They were nearly invisible. The replacements were really not a factor. It is good news for the NFL, which has locked out the regular officials in a contract dispute.

BERMAN: It is 5:17 in the morning, time for your early reads.

First up, from the "Charlotte Observer", we told you the weather forced a venue change for the final night of the Democratic National Convention. First, from the cavernous Bank of America's Stadium, to the much smaller Time Warner Cable Arena.

But here's the rub, from 65,000 people who thought they'd be witnessing history in person have suddenly been disinvited. Many stood in line for hours to get the tickets. They put in time volunteering for Obama's re-election.

You know, campaign officials say that they promised the shutout ticket holders a conference call with the president this afternoon and they're working to arrange some kind of event later on for the president to meet with them in person. There are a lot of upset people.

Last night this smaller arena was packed. The fire marshals shut the doors for a while. It can't possibly fit many more people than it did. There will be a lot of angry people.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, really disappointing after you volunteer those hours to the campaign. Yikes! Hopefully they'll get the conference call.

All right. So, listen to this, John, possible jitters after the Aurora shooting. A man with pink hair wearing joker make-up at a Florida movie theater caused someone to call police.

This is the "Orlando Sentinel". It has a story a 21-year-old, Christopher Sides, there's a picture right there, he was spotted in a Melbourne movie theater while waiting to see the "Expendables 2." Police arrested sides on a previous misdemeanor warn for failure to appear in court. He was unarmed and police say he was cooperative during his arrest. Very bad taste there.

BERMAN: Understand. Yes. Understand concerns I have to say.

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

SAMBOLIN: Nineteen minutes past the hour. We keep hearing this question, right? Are you better off than you were four years ago? Well, coming up, Christine Romans applies that question to the stock market.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. We are minding your business this morning.

U.S. stock futures are higher ahead of the opening bell. Christine Romans is here talking about the big meeting of the European Central Bank members in Frankfurt. It's a big deal.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: It's a big deal. It matters here, right?

ROMANS: It does, absolutely, because Europe -- we've got new data this morning showing us that Europe is sliding still into recession. Europe is our biggest trading zone. So, if Europe is in recession, that means American factories are not sending as many goods over there. Those are American workers who don't have as many jobs.

The person you're seeing on your screen right now, the guy named Mario Draghi. They call him Super Mario in world markets, Zoraida, because he really holds the key here.

Mitt Romney, the president can battle it out for presidency in this country but Mario Draghi right now and what the European Central Bank does to stimulate the European economy is what the world is watching. He is very, very important for whether Europe gets out of its mess. And if Europe gets out of its mess, that's good news for American exporters and American workers.

I want to look quickly at stocks. Stock futures are up this morning. So, there must be optimism with whatever is going to happen there with Mario Draghi.

And stocks over the past four years, I want for a minute look at this construct of -- are you better off than you were four years ago? We're hearing about it all week.

Look at stocks for a minute. You don't hear people mention stocks, in part because stocks are recovering from a horrific moment.

SAMBOLIN: Right.

ROMANS: I mean, September 15th four years ago, Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. The world was in a tailspin.

Look at what the S&P 500 has done. In any other four-year period of history maybe, you would say, wow, stocks were up a lot. That's great for people's 401(k), it's the reason why they feel better.

But jobs are the most important thing right now. And so a stock market recovery is really overshadowed by what has been an anemic jobs market. SAMBOLIN: That seems to the most important thing for everybody. It's still good news to se the 50 percent.

ROMANS: Right.

SAMBOLIN: But we still bottomed out.

ROMANS: Still bottomed out, a lot of people took a very big hit.

Now, in terms of jobs, tomorrow, we're going to get a jobs report in this country. I'm calling it anemic. CNN Money is calling it an expectation that's gloomy. I'll go with anemic, 120,000 jobs added.

If that happens, it would just enough almost to absorb new entrance into the labor market, but it's not enough to get back any of the jobs that we lost.

But here, again, if you look at what this would be with I a little bit of a slowdown from the prior month July, 120,000 jobs. You would hear conservatives jump on that number. Say, look, this is a failure.

I want to look back four years if we're going to go back to that construct of are you better off than four years ago. In August 2008, we lost 274,000, jobs, exactly four years ago. In September 2008, we lost 432,000 jobs. So 600,000 or 700,000 jobs this time last year, two months last year, it's just a reminder how far -- how far we've come and how much things have changed.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I know you're not a big fan of --

ROMANS: I'm not a big fan of taking four years and looking just at those.

SAMBOLIN: Tunnel vision there. Tunnel vision.

ROMANS: Yes, exactly.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you very much, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-five minutes past the hour. Now back to John Berman, he is live in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention.

BERMAN: Thanks, Zoraida.

You know, we're talking about two men who have had quite a rocky relationship in the past. Boy, you couldn't tell from looking at Barack Obama and Bill Clinton on stage last night. This is quite a hug. We'll have more on that hug and more from the Democratic National Convention live, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: I hate to break it to you but we're going to keep President Obama on the job!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: A throwback as former president Bill Clinton says Barack Obama offers the best path forward.

SAMBOLIN: And President Obama with a tough act to follow tonight as he gets ready to make -- or take that podium and make his case to be America's choice in 2012.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. We're very happy you're with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin in New York.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman live at the CNN Grill in Charlotte, North Carolina for the Democratic National Convention where, tonight, after listening to speeches from his wife and one of his predecessors, Barack Obama will close the Democratic convention officially accepting his party's nomination once again for president.

Last night, it was Bill Clinton who gave a passionate, political, and surgical speech in support of President Obama. It was also a very long speech. And it included this quite a man hug, despite a complicated and sometimes testy, frankly, relationship between the two men.

With me here to talk about all this CNN senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, former senior Clinton adviser and NewYorker.com writer, Richard Socarides, and he's also a CNN contributor, Margaret Hoover, a CNN contributor and also a Bush administration appointee.

Bill Clinton did something last night that I thought was fairly extraordinary. He played defense and offense. He threw out a lot of numbers, and he made a lot of statements. I want to listen to a couple right now.

First, we're going to play the defense where he defended Obama's record, and then, I want to show you talk about the offense where he talked about what he thinks the Republicans would do if they took control of the White House. So, let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When President Barack Obama took office, the economy was in free-fall. It had just shrunk nine full percent of GDP. We were losing 750,000 jobs a month. Are we doing better than that today? The answer is yes.

They want to actually increase defense spending over a decade $2 trillion more than the Pentagon has requested, without saying what they'll spend it on. And they want to make enormous cuts in the rest of the budget, especially programs that help the middle class and poor children. As another president once said, "there they go again."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So, Margaret, I'm going to ask you one of these questions I know you love to get. Even Republicans seem to be saying this is quite a speech.

MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Nobody can deny it. Nobody can deny it. Nobody can deliver a political manifesto the way Bill Clinton can. He is the politician of the 20th century.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, FORMER SENIOR CLINTON ADVISER: Margaret wore blue today.

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: No, there is. I mean, the other thing that's go maddening about Clinton when you watch him as compelling and convincing as he is. He also has this wonderful ability to cherry pick packs and then create a narrative out of them and sort of retell history in a way that is favorable to him, frankly, and also to the story that he's trying to tell.

He did this several times. He did this with healthcare, saying that healthcare has only risen four percent over the last two years, thank God for Obamacare. The problem is, the Affordable Care Act largely hasn't even taken into effect mostly probably that was because of the economy, that four percent increase, but they can take it.

Also, there's been massive raises in premiums over the last couple years, which most people are attributing to the Affordable Care Act. So, there are problems as you go through the speech, the broad brush strokes he made, you know, may not look as rose colored at the end.

(CROSSTALK)

SOCARIDES: Taken as a whole, it looks pretty good, right? I mean, this was really -- I thought it was a master class for the American people in -- and the state of our government, the state of our politics and only as this president -- this former president could deliver. I mean, when I watched this, I thought to myself, this guy is the greatest political campaign speaker of our generation.

HOOVER: He's also your former boss.

SOCARIDES: Well, he's also my former boss, but I watched this. You know, I watched him talk for eight years. And, this was if not the best speech of his life, pretty close to it.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what's interesting, quickly as I was watching, is that, obviously, Barack Obama came on to the stage because -- and got his name because he's such a good communicator. And it just goes to show that there is communicating and then there's communicating, right?

BERMAN: That's what -- just thinking, because, you know, Richard says master class. That was -- I've heard that phrase a lot overnight, master class. Why hasn't the White House been able to give this master class over the last four years?

SOCARIDES: This is almost impossible to do. I mean, what he did last night is almost impossible to do. And he did -- does it with an (INAUDIBLE), but he explained to the American people what -- where the direction this country has to go in, how he got here. I mean, nobody can lay it out here.

I thought he gave the best explanation of anyone ever on this issue on the $716 billion in Medicare cuts. I mean, it was a brilliant explanation. It was very understandable. This guy can make politics and policy understandable to everyone.

BERMAN: On the subject -- go ahead.

HOOVER: He can also talk about things that, frankly, President Obama can't talk about, the debt and the deficit. I mean, he can say when I was president, you know, we had a balanced budget. And frankly, that's something that's very uncomfortable for President Obama to talk about --

BERMAN: On the subject to master class, the Democrats could use one, because they created quite a mess with their party platform, removing any mention of God, removing support of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. They have since put it back in. How big of a problem is this for your party, Richard?

SOCARIDES: Listen, I think it's a total nonissue. I mean, I think what people are focused on from last night, there are a bunch of terrific speeches leading into the president's remarks. Elizabeth Warren gave a great speech. Sandra Fluke gave a great speech. I mean, I don't know anybody who's focused on this this morning.

BERMAN: This was a mess.

SOCARIDES: You know, I mean, I think it was a little mess that they fixed pretty quickly. I mean, I think the platform was not in sync with the administration's position on this, and they changed it. I mean, it was a mistake and they fixed it.

BASH: That's right. I think the thing that is so perplexing and baffling is how it happened, particularly, because this is coming out of a Republican convention where everybody was focused on the platform. And the fact of the matter is, it was very clear that the people who should have been really focused, should have had their political radar up for something that could have come back to really hurt them, they didn't.

SOCARIDES: This is not even a blip.

(CROSSTALK)

SOCARIDES: Not even a blip.

HOOVER: It's extraordinary that you can so overfocus on the Republican platform and say that that defines the party. And then not say that this doesn't define the Democratic Party. SOCARIDES: Listen, we're proud of our platform. We'll stand by our platform.

BERMAN: Today, not yesterday.

SOCARIDES: No, no. We tweaked it a little bit. I mean, listen, clearly -- listen, everybody knows where the president stands on these issues, and the platform was not in conformity with the White House position and with our position as a country.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: -- this is a throwback to the way conventions used to be. They actually used to do business and they openly disagree.

BERMAN: Floor fights.

BASH: Oh, my gosh! Can you imagine actual, real drama?

BERMAN: What can be happier than journalists? No. We have to move on.

SOCARIDES: No, we're going to come back.

BERMAN: We have to move on. Richard Socarides, Margaret Hoover, Dana Bash, thank you guys so much. We will talk more politics in a bit.

We have more political tidbits to get to first here. Congressman Paul Ryan is saying that Bill Clinton is simply a different kind of Democrat than Barack Obama. Mitt Romney's running mate admits President Obama inherited an economic meltdown, but he insists the president's policies, they've only made matters worse.

In this interview with our very own, Piers Morgan, listen to Ryan compare the styles of the current and former Democratic presidents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bill Clinton gave us welfare reform. Bill Clinton worked with Republicans to cut spending. Bill Clinton did not play the kinds of political games that President Obama is playing. President Obama gave us more borrowing, more spending, much more regulating, and is putting a chilling effect on job creation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Paul Ryan will be campaigning later this morning in Colorado Springs. So, what is Mitt Romney doing these days? He emerged from debate prep in Vermont for a pizza break. And he couldn't resist slicing up, get it, the president's economic record.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Two big numbers came out this week, 16 and 47. $16 trillion in debt. The other number is 47. Forty-seven million people now on food stamps. When it came to office, there were 32 million. There's just no way he can square those numbers with the idea that America's doing better, because it's not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Romney returned to his debate preps after the pizza run with Ohio senator, Rob Portman, playing the part of the president. Portman, a phenomenal debater himself.

Former congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, is in Charlotte, and she will be in the House to hear President Obama's speech tonight. Giffords' spokesperson told CNN that Gabby Giffords will attend the Democratic convention. Sorry, I had a blip there. Before we get to more politics, let's send it back to Zoraida in New York.

SAMBOLIN: Actually I want to chat with you a little bit, because you were there live for the speech that Bill Clinton gave. And I know that you've covered politics for a long time. That man hug really surprised me. Were you surprised by it? Did it come across as very genuine to you?

BERMAN: It was -- the answer is yes and no. Yes, it came across as genuine, despite the fact that we knew it was coming, despite the fact they had to do it, and that just goes to show what a skillful politician Bill Clinton is, because that was truly the amazing thing about this full-throated, full throttled defense of Barack Obama.

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are not close. You know, Bill Clinton gave this defense of Barack Obama's program. And on every step, every step of the way, he didn't just do everything he had to do. He did three steps more. He went further every step of the way and included their appearance on stage.

They could have shaken hands, but they hugged. So, you know, we knew that they were going to appear on stage together. That had been released before. But they managed to pull it off and look natural doing it -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely. It seemed very genuine and very easy, I thought. So, I just wanted to get your take there. Thanks for that, John. We'll check back in with you shortly here.

It is 39 minutes past the hour. A little more than a week after hurricane Isaac slammed the gulf, we've got another hurricane that is looming on the horizon. More on where Leslie could be heading. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Good morning, Miami. It is 81 degrees right now, 88 later. And you're going to have some isolated storms as well in the area. But sure looked pretty this morning.

Forty-three minutes past the hour. The newest storm of the hurricane season, her name is Leslie. She is churning right now in the Atlantic. Rob Marciano on where she could be headed. Good morning to you.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Zoraida. Not only Leslie, but overnight, Michael went from a tropical storm to a major hurricane in a matter of just hours. There's the eye. We haven't seen one of those in a while. It's the first major hurricane of the season, Category 3 status, 115-mile-an-hour wind.

But look at the side. This is Michael, and this is Leslie. Small but stronger. Winds of hurricane strength only go out 15 miles from the center of Michael.

Here's Leslie, much larger wind field, 75-mile-an-hour, 80-mile-an- hour wind, max sustained, and this does pose a threat to not only Bermuda here over the next several days potentially as a Category 3 storm or higher but getting up towards Nova Scotia and the Canadian Maritimes as if get towards the beginning of next week.

No real threat to the U.S. coastline, but waves and rip currents certainly a threat. That will be ongoing right through the weekend. So, be careful there. Watching this little chunk, left over chunk of Isaac, that has now kind of re-emerged in the Gulf of Mexico. They'll probably fly a hurricane hunter aircraft into this thing later on today to see what's going on with it.

It could become another tropical storm again. They probably would name it Nadine as opposed to Isaac, but that's all semantic at this point. Heavy rain expected regardless across much of the gulf states. And still that soupy, very tropical muggy air mass in place across the eastern third of the country

A couple of fronts that will come through over the next several days to kind of knock that down, but until then, you'll feel quite tropical New York City. Eighty-three degrees for the high temperature, 92 degrees expected in D.C., and 77 degrees after some high temperatures yesterday that were much warmer and storms in Chicago. Zoraida, back up to you.

SAMBOLIN: Boy, that Michael looked kind of scary there.

MARCIANO: Yes, yes. Any time you get the eye opening up like that, it's certainly intimidating, but no threat to any sort of land mass out there. So, we can watch it and admire it from afar.

SAMBOLIN: OK. Well, that's good news. Thank you very much, Rob Marciano, live in Atlanta.

Forty-five minutes past the hour. Hurricane Isaac could be bringing remnants of an old crisis back to the Gulf. Coming up, tar balls on the beach and what oil giant BP plans to do about them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: The Democrats big dog fired up the convention crowd last night in support of Barack Obama. Bill Clinton telling Americans they need to stay the course, laying out a detailed point by point argument for four more years. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: He has laid the foundations for a new modern successful economy, a shared prosperity. And if you will renew the president's contract, you will feel it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And tonight, in what is supposed to be the convention's biggest moment, President Obama will accept formally his party's nomination. Now, Bill Clinton didn't have the only fiery speech last night. Massachusetts Senate candidate, Elizabeth Warren, was a hit with the convention crowd.

She insisted the system is rigged in favor of big oil, billionaires, and Wall Street CEOs. And she used Mitt Romney's own words to make the case for a second term for the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATE: Mitt Romney's the guy who said corporations are people. No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids. They get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love and they die. And that matters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Elizabeth Warren is locked in a tight race with Republican senator, Scott Brown, in Massachusetts. And Zoraida, the outcome of that race really could determine the balance of power in the Senate.

SAMBOLIN: She gave a very powerful speech. All right. It is 50 minutes past the hour here.

A 13-mile stretch of Louisiana's coastline remains closed this morning --

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): -- as sheens of oil and tar balls keep washing ashore in the aftermath of hurricane Isaac. The Coast Guard reports finding three oiled birds. BP officials say they're heading to the area to test the tar balls to confirm whether they came from the 2010 Deep Water horizon spill.

2012 has been the worst year for the deadly West Nile virus since the disease was first spotted in the U.S. back in 1999. Just under 2,000 cases have been reported so far this year. That includes 87 deaths. The CDC says cases were up 25 percent over the past week, and health officials expect the number of cases to rise through the end of September as well.

Another very bloody day in Syria. Intense fighting between rebel forces and government troops breaking out across the country with 258 more deaths reported on Wednesday, 115 of them in the city of Aleppo. Take a look at your screen.

Secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, discussing the Syrian crisis with China's foreign minister, that is in Beijing. No progress there. China insisting any solution should come from the Syrian people and not outside forces.

The National Transportation Safety Board wants external cameras or other anti-collision devices installed on larger planes. They're trying to cut down on wing tip collisions during taxiing. The NTSB says three recent mishaps now under investigation involved pilots in large aircraft who could not see the tips of their wings.

Superstar illusionist, David Copperfield, says he is donating a rare, private audiotape tat he bought of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to the Lorraine Motel (ph). That is the very site where he was assassinated which now houses the National Civil Rights Museum. The tape was discovered recently in a Tennessee homes attic. Copperfield declined to say how much he paid for it, but Reuters reports one dealer appraised that tape at $100,000. Piece of history there -- John.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Wow! Good for David Copperfield.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: Very interesting. Zoraida, in the next hour of EARLY START, we have a lot to talk about. We're going to look ahead to President Obama's big night, and we're going to dig in to Bill Clinton's rather epic speech last night.

We're going to be joined by a great guest, Don Baer. He helped write Clinton's 1996 re-nomination speech, and he served as his communications director in the White House.

Also, Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker" who wrote a fascinating inside look at the Obama/Clinton relationship. What did Ryan Lizza see on that stage last night? How about that hug?

And later on "Starting Point," Soledad O'brien talks with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the democratic National Committee chair who is in full damage control mode about those controversial changes to the party platform and her own controversial and frankly contradictory remarks on the subject.

And plus, you know, he took the torch from the likes of John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Andrei Agassi. Now, it is the end of an era for American tennis. Andy Roddick's emotional farewell at the U.S. Open. You will not want to miss that. All that and much more coming up in the next hour here on CNN. If you change the channel, you will regret it forever.

First, a text from Hillary in the middle of Bill Clinton's speech? If you've checked your Facebook overnight, you might know what we're talking about already. It is hilarious. that is coming up next on EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START. 5:57 here in the east. Taking a look at what is trending on the web this morning, John.

Peyton Manning makes his debut with the Denver Broncos. I know you know this, this Sunday against the Steelers. You'll be back to watch it. He's had the top-selling jersey on NFL.com since April. But one local school is not allowing kids to wear it.

Weld County School District Six says Manning's number 18 jersey has been banned because of the number's gang affiliation, the infamous 18th street gang, in this case. The ban has been in place for four years as part of its dress code for all schools.

BERMAN: You know, I thought this was overkill. I have heard about this before, but I have to say, after reading into it, this is a serious deal, and a lot of schools have this issue. So, it may not be as frivolous as you think.

Some more convention news. Former president, Bill Clinton, getting a text from Hillary during his speech that lasted close to an hour last night. It says wrap it up, the photos being shared all over Facebook this morning, originally, on buzz feed. This is a joke, of course. You remember the famous text from the Hillary craze on the web earlier this year. The (INAUDIBLE) still winning.

By the way, I should tell you, the secretary of state watched the president's speech on a sling player. She's in East Timor, and she watched it on the ambassador's computer in East Timor, which is an awesome place to watch television, Zoraida, if you ever get a chance.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. I'll remember that. Thank you.

So, diversity is a Democrat's calling card. And it's been on full display at their convention in Charlotte. It is a fact, not lost on "Daily Show" host, Jon Stewart.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Democrats have the diversity angle well covered by filling the convention hall with Democrats.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Yes. Black people, Asians, hips (ph), Jews, Muslims, hippies, veterans, babies, 1940s boxing reporters, 1840s sheriff. Now, the (ph) Americans (INAUDIBLE) and, of course, Newman!

Hello, Newman. How effortlessly diverse is the Democratic Party? Remember the fuss at the RNC over rising Latino star, Marco Rubio? Well, the democrats have not only a rising Latino star in San Antonio mayor, Julian Castro, they have an extra one of him in Casey Briggs (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Democrats have so many Latinos they've got doubles.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: We simply cannot afford to give the reins of government to someone who will double down on trickle down.

BERMAN (voice-over): Still the show-stopper, Bill Clinton part rock star, part policy nerd as he brings the Democratic Party to its feet.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): And as you all know, tonight, the man himself, President Obama, makes his case to be the next two-term Democrat. The acceptance speech moved indoors. We suspect it is going to be very loud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)