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"We're All In This Together"; Democratic National Convention; Clinton Captures DNC Crowd; Ohio Puts Obama Over The Top; Drought to Hit Football Snack Prices

Aired September 6, 2012 - 06:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. I am Zoraida Sambolin in New York.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I am John Berman live at the CNN Grill in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Democratic National Convention and last night, Zoraida, it was a pure Tour De Force, Bill Clinton, the big dog, showing he might be out of office, but he is not out of tricks.

He was part politician, part preacher, part lawyer, had a comprehensive and exhaustive civil defense of President Obama's record. It was an offense, too, making the case for four more years.

This was really all the more remarkable because their relationship is pretty complicated to say the least and CNN's Dana Bash joins me now. This was more than 45 minutes long, but people seemed to soak up every minute of it.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here is a little bit of trivia. As a political junky, I know you're going to like. It was 48 minutes and 30 seconds long. That is 15 minutes longer than the speech -- the first speech he gave to a convention in 1998 that got panned.

But that was only 33 minutes and it got panned because it was rambling, but this speech, of course, was anything but rambling. It was rousing and it was exactly what the Obama campaign was hoping for.


BASH (voice-over): This is the lasting image of the evening, an embrace just four years ago few could imagine. But the former president made clear bitterness over the bruising battle between his wife and can Obama is ancient history, repeatedly making the case for four more years as only Bill Clinton can.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: If you want a winner take all, you're on 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 vouching for Obama's empathy. CLINTON: I want to nominate a man who is cool on the outside, but who burns for America on the inside.

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 of the damage that he found in just four years. Now, he has laid the foundation 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: We simply cannot afford to give the reign of government to someone who will double down on trickle down.

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.

BASH: Bill Clinton was not alone in primetime. Democrats tried to widen an already huge gender gap chose two female speakers, liberal icon in Massachusetts Democratic Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren.

ELIZABETH WARREN, DEMOCRATIC SENATE CANDIDATE, MASSACHUSETTS: The system is rigged. Look around, oil companies guzzle down billions in profits. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries.

BASH: The Georgetown University student Rush Limbaugh called a slut for advocating access to contraception at her Jesuit school. She talked about Mitt Romney's silence and the president's support.

SANDRA FLUKE, STUDENT, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: When he hears that a young woman has been verbally attacked thinks of his daughters, not his delegates or his donors.

BASH: A strong finish for an evening that started out rough.


BASH: And the reason it started out rough, John, is because they had to fix an unforced error, a big one, and that is when the Democrats affirm their platform, it was missing two very important things.

The word God, which was in last time, that was taken out and also the idea that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It was a big deal four years ago that the Democrats put that in. They took it out and privately Democratic officials and activists went absolutely nuts.

They took it to the floor with two amendments to put those things back in and they had another issue. It was kind of chaotic. I was down on the floor watching it.

The chair of the convention, the Los Angeles mayor, he had to ask for the vote three times in order to be able to at least say that he got two-thirds majority in order to amend this.

And there was some booing there and Republicans are seizing on this because it wasn't entirely fair what they were booing and of course, they were saying they were booing God.

BERMAN: It was not a pretty picture nor was it a pretty consistent explanation throughout the last 30 hours of what's going on here. Later on STARTING POINT, I should say, Soledad O'Brien talks with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair, about the controversial changes to the party platform.

And really her controversial and sometimes contradictory explanations of this and you know, we want to hear from you about this. Should the Democratic Party platform include reference to God and language declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel?

Let us know. Head to our blog at to vote in our online poll and also leave your comments on the poll. I want to go back to last night to the Bill Clinton speech.

I want to bring in CNN contributor and Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker," Ryan Lizza. Ryan has written the definitive piece this week about the Clinton-Obama relationship and to me this seemed like a lawyerly case for Barack Obama.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, very detailed, very specific. He went point by point rebutting all the arguments we heard at the RNC and sort of like the anti-Michelle speech. The night before Michelle Obama gave a personal case for Obama, right?

This is I know this man and I know and I have watched him make these decisions and here is why you should vote for him. I mean, not to take anything away from that speech, it was brilliantly delivered, but it is not so hard to get your wife to give a speech.

But Bill Clinton, it is different. This is a guy that fought against Barack Obama and who has this long complicated relationship, so when he speaks in favor of him, it means something a little more.

On your point about all the problems in the platform, another thing Barack Obama has to appreciate that speech is it blew away that story, which is a pretty big deal.

BASH: Absolutely. The other thing as I was watching this thinking to myself Bill Clinton is a politician that loves to be wanted and the fact that and you laid this out so well in your piece.

The fact that he was waiting, waiting, waiting for president Obama to come to him as the elder statesmen and say what can die and how do I fix this, he has been dying to have this moment.

LIZZA: Likes to rescue. BASH: And he was feeding off it like it is oxygen and sustenance.

BERMAN: I have never seen a human being look happier I think than I saw Bill Clinton look on stage last night. Is that important politically or just interesting?

LIZZA: I think it is important. I think he is up there looking enthusiastic and truly this is not a grudging case for Obama. This is in laying out a big choice between the two parties.

And saying -- he didn't say this but a subtext to the speech, it doesn't matter what I think personally about Obama, it is this choice, and if you look at this rationally and logically policy by policy, you have to choose this guy.

BERMAN: We heard all of these speeches about I love him, I love him more, I love him most and Bill Clinton --

LIZZA: At some point Obama sort of faded from the speech. I mean, play and logic to pick out where he talks about Obama, but the subtext was it doesn't matter what you think about this guy, it is about the direction of this country.

BASH: And on that note, another key goal for the Obama campaign in talking to officials there is to bring Americans back in time to when they felt good about the economy and the prosperity and the feeling that the government can actually make things better, not necessarily big government but things can work and that seemed to really deliver.

LIZZA: One of the few politicians that can talk about the debt and deficit without seeming like a hypocrite, right? Bush can't do it. Obama, it is hard for Obama to do it. Clinton can do it.

BERMAN: Ryan Lizza of "New Yorker" and CNN's Dana Bash, thank you so much for being here. Great to have you here all this week. I can't believe we only have one more day of the convention. I'm going to withdrawal already. But thankfully we have a bit more from over night.

The Romney campaign, their turn, they were predictably unenthused by both Bill Clinton's remarks saying the speech only helped bring President Obama's failure 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 work add cross the aisle. He barely worked with other Democrats and he has the worst economic record of any president in modern history so not good reviews from the Romney campaign.

The battleground state of Ohio, that could be the state that decides the race for the White House in November and it was the buckeye state that formally gave Barack Obama the Democratic nomination last night moments after Bill Clinton's speech.


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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


BERMAN: The convention wraps up tonight with speeches from Vice President Biden and President Obama as they officially accept their respective nominations.

Now, the vice president did pay a visit to the Time Warner Cable Arena yesterday. He had a walk through on stage so he can get a feel for what he will be looking at later tonight. It is a little different than they thought it would be.

Because the president and vice 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.

That means tens of thousands of people are out of luck. Many people who volunteered their time will not be able to get in tonight and another thing is the change in venue means they will not have a balloon drop.

At the half hour, we're going to break down Bill Clinton's speech and we're joined by Don Baer who helped write Clinton's 1996 re-nomination speech and he served as his communications director so really an inside look at Bill Clinton a little bit later. First, Zoraida back to you in New York.

SAMBOLIN: OK, I have to tell you, there's no reason for you to go through withdrawal. I know that are you a political junky and this is difficult for you. But the election is still coming up in November and guaranteed there will be plenty to talk about from here to then, right?

BERMAN: And I get to be back with you on Monday. So that's reason enough alone to leave the conventions.

SAMBOLIN: That is so sweet. I miss you, too. We'll check back in with you in a moment here.

It is 11 minutes past the hour. Moments of pure terror for a California bank clerk, kidnapped, told by robbers that there was a bomb strapped to her body. The full story coming up.


BERMAN: Bill Clinton, he wowed the crowd with an impassioned defense of President Obama but was it all true?

This morning, we're going to take a closer look at one of the claims former President Clinton made about President Obama's handling of the economy. And CNN's Tom Foreman has our fact check.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Former President Clinton threw out an awful lot of numbers here which fact-checkers will be poring over for days, I'm sure.

But what was the overall message? The overall message was that Barack Obama is a natural heir to the Clinton legacy, that he is doing the same sort of things in a big way. But with one caveat, Mr. Clinton insists that the times are so different that you simply can't expect the same results.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. Listen to me now -- no president, no president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all of the damage that he found in just four years.


FOREMAN: So, you see the context that he is trying to give to this whole situation. But look at some of the comparisons because they are worth looking at.

Like President Obama, President Clinton came into office with soaring unemployment, 7.1 percent, that's very close within a few tenths of a percentage point of what President Obama faced when he came into office, but that's where the similarity ended. In the Clinton years, unemployment got better, better for the first term, better for the second term, steadily moved toward almost full employment.

That has not been the case for President Obama. It has grown worse and has continued to be worse.

In the Clinton years average raises rose 30 percent. Nothing like that has happened yet for President Obama.

Mr. Clinton inherited a $290 billion deficit, changed it to a $236 billion surplus by the time his terms in office were done.

Mr. Obama inherited a $459 million deficit and today it is $1.3 trillion. Other things changed as well.

But you can see the trick that's being attempted by the Democrats here. It is not an unfair to thing to try. What they're trying to say is believe in Barack Obama because he is like Bill Clinton.

But in all of these metrics that really matter to an awful lot of voters, you also have to understand it simply can't be done the same way. It's more a matter of context as opposed to right or wrong, but important context for voters to consider.


BERMAN: All right. So, politics and facts sometimes awkward bedfellows, especially at conventions.

Zoraida, back to you in New York.

SAMBOLIN: But I love the fact we do the fact checking. I typically put that on Facebook and Twitter so that folks can make those decisions by themselves, right?

Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Great stuff.

SAMBOLIN: And a school bus tragedy in Nebraska, four people dead this morning after a bus collided with a tractor trail. It 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. Four children between the ages of 6 and 10 were injured in that horrific crash.

And frightening moments for Los Angeles bank manager and her co- workers. Police say robbers kidnapped the woman, rigged her with what they said were explosives and forced her to rob her own bank. The manager told the co-workers what was happening, grabbed cash and threw it out the bank's back door to her abductors who drove off. Police were able to successfully remove the device from the woman and they later detonated it.

It was a teary Andy Roddick -- did you see this -- ending his tennis career on center court last night at the U.S. Open after losing to Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro in four sets. Roddick had announced this would be his last tournament. He's the last American man to win a grand slam, the U.S. open in 2003, and also the last American man to hold the world number one ranking.

We keep hearing this question. Are you better off than you were four years ago? Coming up, Christine Romans applies that question to the stock market.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 22 minutes past the hour here. And we are minding your business this morning.

U.S. stock futures are higher ahead of the opening bell.


SAMBOLIN: Christine Romans is here talking about the big meeting of the European central banks in Frankfurt and why this matters to all of us.

ROMANS: It matters. It matters so much, because, you know, the eurozone is our big customer. When your big customer is hurting, that means you're selling less to your biggest customer and that's why Europe is so important. You heard me say that before. But, today, we have new information that the economies in Europe are falling deeper into recession.

The person you're looking at on your screen right now is a guy named Mario Draghi. They call him super Mario. He's the president of the European Central Bank and we'll be looking for signs from him about what the ECB could do to stimulate the European economy, to get it out of this funk.

So, that's what we're watching today. It is really important.

You're watching the president and Mitt Romney and a very tight and fierce political battle in the United States. That's the political battle right now that means so much to your money and that's what's happening in Europe.

I want to take a look at stocks, because stock futures are higher as you mentioned and we have been telling you the stocks had a pretty good summer. In the middle of this whole conversation this week of the -- are you better off conversation, no one is really talking about the stock market. The stock market is better off, no question over the past four years.

This is just since January 2009, up some 50 percent even if you go back to the fall of 2008 when there was a big campaign going on. You're much better off since then as well, about 20 percent higher since then. People don't talk about this and say I feel better in the middle class because of stocks because when your house is hit and you're still worried about jobs, those are much more important right now.


SAMBOLIN: -- was so great.

ROMANS: Oh, yes, it was so great.

Yes, but keep in mind -- in the third quarter of 2008, GDP in this country, our economy shrank 3.7 percent. In August 2008, we lost 274,000 jobs. In September, we lost another 432,000 jobs. So, when you look from election season to election season, campaign to campaign, you can see just the huge difference in what's been happening overall from the economy.

Big jobs report Friday.


ROMANS: I've been calling it anemic, about 120,000 jobs. That's what we're expecting there.

SAMBOLIN: All right. And the one thing --

ROMANS: Are you a football fan?

SAMBOLIN: You know I'm not. I am learning football.

ROMANS: Good. So this one affects you -- the one thing you need to know about your money today, the effects of the drought in your wallet, especially for football fans. Chicken wings, corn chips, nachos, those prices already up this fall, just in time for football season.

It got so much more expensive to be in the man cave with all of your friends eating bad food.

SAMBOLIN: Tailgating, this is a problem for --

ROMANS: Tailgating, drought in the Midwest worst in 50 years. This is one we can tell you, like the stories -- the stories we talk to you about hit you. Enjoy those nachos because they're worth their weight in gold.

SAMBOLIN: That is awful. Invite me to a football game. I will tailgate with you, my first football game in New York City. How about that?

ROMANS: How about water and carrot sticks.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, that does not sound appetizing. I was going to say beef but unfortunately those prices are up as well.

ROMANS: All right. Let's tailgate. I would love to tailgate. That would be fun.

SAMBOLIN: It is a date.

Twenty-five minutes past the hour.

Back to John Berman, he is live in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention.

I know you want to come with us. That's what you're going to say, right?

BERMAN: I'm just upset about those nachos. Not my nachos. The economy is hitting my nachos. Then it's serious.

Thank you very much.


Here at the convention we're talking about tonight, it is the big night. President Obama with a tough act to follow as he gets ready to take that podium just 24 hours after former President Bill Clinton, President Obama will make his case to be America's choice in 2012.

More, live from charlotte coming up.



CLINTON: I hate to break it to you. But we're going to keep President Obama on the job. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The former president makes a rousing case for four more years of President Obama.

SAMBOLIN: Churning right now in the Atlantic, dual hurricanes, one of them already a powerful category 3 storm.

On that note, I am still going to say 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.

This morning, Democrats are really riding high after a Bill Clinton classic. The former president with an impassioned and long endorsement as he officially nominated President Obama for a second term. Now, the bar is pretty high for President Obama for his acceptance speech tonight here in Charlotte. He obviously faces a number of challenges.

We're going to talk about all of this.

With me now is Don Baer. He's the former communications director and chief speechwriter for the Clinton White House. He's currently the CEO of the global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller.

You were in the Clinton box last night watching this speech.

DON BAER, FORMER CHIEF SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT CLINTON: I was. It was a great honor to be there, and a lot of fun with a lot of the old Clinton crowd. It was like a lot of reunion.

BERMAN: So, how did it look from where you were sitting.

BAER: It looked fantastic. I thought it was a great speech. It was a full speech and a terrific one and I think if you pull back from everything the president said, the meta message of this speech was something that no one yet has been able to do. He provided a narrative. He provided a story line for what the last four years have been about to really frame it and help explain it to the American people.

And he did one other important thing. There is a positive forward motion to that story, right? We're moving in a good direction and that's what the American people need to hear.

BERMAN: He sounds almost like a lawyer laying out his case here.

BAER: He is a lawyer.

BERMAN: He is a lawyer, in fact. Yes, he's a lawyer. He used those skills to layout his case talking a lot about policy. I want to listen to one sound bite here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private sector jobs. So what's the job score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42.


BERMAN: I have heard a lot of Democrats say since the speech last night that Bill Clinton was more effective in making the case for President Obama than President Obama has been himself.

BAER: Well, look, it is easier for someone else, especially someone as good at this as president Clinton to make that case than it is for President Obama to brag on himself as President Clinton would say. That clip to me was one of the most effective parts of the speech. I mean, who else could take those facts, look back over 50 years and come forward and make it very clear that his party's approach has been the one that's been the most successful.

BERMAN: Who is the target there?

BAER: His target there is everyone. It is independent voters.

I mean, right now, his target is sort of the base, the Democrats who are sort of ready to move forward and get motivated.

But his target is also those people who haven't decided yet, of which we know that's where the swing is going to be in some of these key states and you did a great job with that.

BERMAN: President Obama has spoken a lot the mess he inherited when he took over the office. But again, sometimes it doesn't seem to resonate as clearly as it might have last night with Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton talked about that last night. Let's listen.


CLINTON: In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president re- election was actually pretty simple. Pretty snappy. It went something like this -- we left him a total mess, he hasn't cleaned it up fast enough so fire him and put us back in.


BERMAN: Now, you were a key player in the 1996 reelect of Bill Clinton. Barack Obama approach this is convention like you did, an incumbent. What does he need to do tonight? What does he need to say to the American people to convince voters to vote his way?

BAER: I think building on this platform that President Clinton has provided if you will as the great explainer of what has happened for the last four years and providing that narrative. Now, President Obama needs to do in my view exactly what President Clinton did in 1996. If you go back and look at his acceptance speech which I did work on, it's like a second State of the Union Address for the country. He is talking about the agenda, what he is going to do in his second term, and I think that now if you think about this as a narrative, as a story line, where does this leave us? Where do we go from here and how will the next set of policies be those that will help carry us forward?

BERMAN: Do you think it needs to be more policy or more preacher?

BAER: It's more policy. The people are looking for specifics concretely. What do we do? If we're moving in a good direction, how do we keep the forward momentum going?

BERMAN: But they know where they have been. Look, people living in this country for the last three and a half years, haven't they already made up their minds?

BAER: No, they haven't made up their minds. They're waiting. They want to see solutions.

Now, based on President Clinton's speech, they're willing to believe. We are moving positively forward. They get that. But there's been a forward momentum but now we need to know how are we going to finish the job?

I think that's President Obama's part tonight.

BERMAN: All right. Don Baer, thank you so much for coming. Come back with us. I think we have a lot to talk about.

BAER: I'd love to. Appreciate it. Thanks.

BERMAN: All right. We have some more politics to talk about right now. A different kind of Democrat, that is how Paul Ryan describes Bill Clinton and Mitt Romney's running mate and Barack Obama inheriting an economic meltdown but he claims the president's policies have made matters worse.

In this interview with Piers Morgan you have to listen to Ryan compare the styles of the current and former Democratic presidents.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: 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.


BERMAN: Congressman Ryan will be campaigning later this morning in Colorado Springs. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney emerging from debate prep in Vermont for a brief pizza break. He has been in seclusion most of the week getting ready for his first face-to-face encounter with the president next month. He could not resist slicing up the Obama economic record.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Two big numbers came out this week, 16 and 47 -- $16 trillion in debt. The other number is 47 -- 47 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 is doing better, because it's not.


BERMAN: Romney returned to debate prep after the pizza run with Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who is playing the part of the president in these preparations.

Now, in 10 minutes, we're going to talk about night two of the Democratic National Convention and what we can expect tonight, night three, when we're joined by CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash, former White House appointee, Margaret Hoover and former senior adviser to President Clinton, Richard Socarides.

I promise you, it will be fun. First, Zoraida, back to you in New York.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, it is going to be a spirited debate. Thank you so much, John.

Thirty-six minutes past the hour. The Cowboys, the Giants, and the replacement refs. How they did with the game on the line, coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Oh, look at our fine statue there, Miss Liberty.

Good morning, New York. Seventy-two degrees right now, a little bit later, cloudy but then we get to see the sun although there I see the sun peaking out.

Let's get a quick check on the weather with Rob Marciano watching two hurricanes right now in the Atlantic.

Good morning to you.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Zoraida. And one of those hurricanes is our first major hurricane of the season, hurricane Michael, although it is a small storm, you can see the two here, here is Leslie much larger. But Michael is much stronger with winds of 115 miles an hour. You see the menacing eye way out in the Atlantic, may not bother anybody, it might hit or maybe Europe at some point, but expected to weaken before that happens. Leslie, a little closer to home, larger wind field, already waves starting to hit the East Coast and that will continue to be the case. It may strike Bermuda here over the next couple days as a category 2 storm, or higher. And then after that potentially into the Canadian maritime.

So, we'll watch that close as it makes a pass to our east across New England over the weekend. Heavier waves, certainly 10, 12, maybe 15- footers at times. Be careful if you're out there, if you're a surfer, enjoy it.

This is a leftover chunk of Isaac that has reemerged in the Gulf of Mexico and they will fly hurricane hunter aircraft in there later on today and see what's going on. It could develop into the next tropical system and they will rename it but how much stronger it will get is of question. We have a couple of fronts that will likely nudge it to the east quickly and these fronts will squeeze the moisture out inundating the eastern third of the country with warm tropical air and soupy stuff and one more day of that and temps in the 80s and lower 90s across the I-95 corridor and then start to get more cool fall like stuff as we get towards the weekend - Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Some people are looking forward to that. Some people like those, 95, 98, 100 degree temperatures.

MARCIANO: Yes, bring on fall.

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

Forty-two minutes past the hour here.

2012 has been the worst year for the deadly West Nile virus since the disease was first spotted in the United States. That was back in 1999. Just under 2,000 cases have been reported so far this year, including 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, they say.

Listen, a 13-mile stretch of the Louisiana coastline remains closed as sheens of oil and tar balls keep washing ashore in the aftermath of hurricane Isaac. Look at that. The Coast Guard reports three oiled birds as well.

BP officials are heading to test those tar balls to confirm whether or not they came from 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.

The NFL season kicked off last night. Did you watch? For the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, it was not pretty. They were beaten by the Dallas Cowboys 24-17. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had a big night, three touchdown passes.

As for the replacement officials, no worries there. The replacements did OK. No blunders. Good news for the NFL which locked out the regular officials in a contract dispute.

A lot of people watching them. They thought there would be flub ups. But there's some good news, they were invisible as they're supposed to be, right, John?

BERMAN: They did OK. They did OK, Zoraida.

There is one night more to go here in Charlotte, one night more may not biggest one.

Soledad O'Brien is here with a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT".

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, this night tonight, it could be the biggest one. It all comes down to this. President Obama is going to take the stage appealing for a second term. We're going to talk this morning about what he needs to accomplish, the specifics that he needs to layout not just for the audience in the arena but obviously the audience watching at home as well.

Plus, we'll talk about the challenges of following President Bill Clinton on stage. There is not going to be a balloon drop. We'll tell you why. That's not going to happen.

And the 2012 Democratic platform, no one ever talks about the platform really. Last week we talk about the RNC platform. This week, the DNC platform -- not because of what was in it, but what was left out of it. It was missing God, it was missing the naming of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Democrats now have to repair big political blunder. We'll get to the root of like how did that happen? The president eventually had to step in.

Joining us live this morning, we're going to talk to Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter is our guest, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker is going to join us. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin will join us as well. And Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is with us.

Also ahead, two superstars getting political, NBA guard Dwyane Wade has written a book about fatherhood, amazing book. We're going to talk to him about that.

We'll talk to as well.

And Flo Rida -- I love him. I'm going to talk to him about what he's doing on the political front to get the youth engaged. I wonder if that works if Flo Rida tells you, you should vote.

BERMAN: Should that get to make the difference? I'd say I'm interested (INAUDIBLE) when they come on your show this morning, because their story over the last 30 hours on this platform, it is a changing, moving target.

O'BRIEN: Just weak. I'd say their story is weak. Yes, there was no drama. There was no conflict.

BERMAN: It's going to be different in just a few minutes on "Starting Point." You will not want to miss it. Meanwhile, for President Obama, he does have one tough act to follow. What will he see tonight that will top Bill Clinton's speech last night? More from EARLY START live at the CNN Grill coming up.


BERMAN: We've been breaking down day two of the Democratic National Convention right here in Charlotte, and we are looking ahead to day three, President Obama's official acceptance speech tonight.

With me is CNN senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. We have a former senior Clinton adviser and writer, Richard Socarides, and senior CNN contributor and republican strategist, Margaret Hoover.

And Richard, I want to start with you. This is your party. This is your convention.



BERMAN: What do we need to see from President Obama tonight? What does he need to deliver?

SOCARIDES: Well, I think President Clinton set the stage perfectly, and I think President Obama is going to talk about where do we go from here? What is going to be different in these next four years? What is his plan? What is his vision for a second term? It's very important for a president to articulate that in a way, and I think he'll do it beautifully tonight.

And we're all really looking forward to it. But he's got to be positive. He's got to say what is going to be new? What is going to be different?

BERMAN: Margaret?

MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think that President Obama really does have the advantage in that he goes last. He's had a week before of all of the Republicans criticizing him or maybe not criticizing his policies, then he's had this entire week of Democrats defending him. Now, it's up to him.

He knows what the narrative is out there. He knows what the criticisms are that he needs to answer and he knows what the doubts are in the narrative that he needs to double down on and explain -- so he knows (INAUDIBLE) what he's going to do in the next term, but he also has to answer the implicit criticisms that many people haven't tackled head on until Bill Clinton last night.

What about the spending? Independents are concerned about the spending. What about the unemployment? Twenty-three million people unemployed. What are you going to do differently --


HOOVER: -- in the next four years. It has to be compelling and convincing. He's talking to his base and independents.


DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. And that's what Obama campaign officials insist that he is going to do, because that was maybe one of the biggest criticisms of Mitt Romney's speech when he gave his speech last week at the Republican convention that he didn't give enough specifics.

They insist that he is going to be not state of the union like but give some examples of the kinds of things that are going to be in his agenda the second term.

BERMAN: And this lays out a challenge for President Barack Obama. He is often measured against himself while giving speeches, because he's given some great ones in the past. But sometimes, he hasn't. I mean, he has not delivered great speeches in big moments before.

Not many people remember his Democratic acceptance speech from four years ago, not many people talk about his inauguration speech like it was great moment of oratory.

SOCARIDES: If we have one worry, you know, as Democrats is that how do you top Clinton's speech last night? I mean, what I think, you know, the president, this president, our current president, is very capable of giving a great speech, and I think he will rise to the occasion. We're going to see -- you know, we're going to see a third night of really masterful speeches.

HOOVER: What is he going to say? I know you think he's going to say it well. What's he going to say? What's going to be different the next four years?

SOCARIDES: We're all going to have to wait a little bit to hear exactly how he's going to articulate it, but I think he's going to say we're moving forward. We've made a lot of progress. I mean, I think he's going to make, in his own words, the case that President Clinton made so beautifully last night and that is that we have to stay the course.

We have to keep going forward in the direction we've been, that the economy is improving. No one could have fixed this all by himself in four years, but I think there'll be some new stuff. I think there will be new stuff and a new articulation --

BERMAN: Something that you think that makes Republicans nervous? What's the thing that's happened this week that makes them the most nervous or maybe hardest for them to battle?

HOOVER: Well, look, I mean, Bill Clinton made a very compelling case. He debunked some -- I mean, some of the problems Republicans have run into the $716 (ph) with Medicare, the issues with welfare. President Obama debunked very well and very thoroughly. Maybe we have the sound on that.

BERMAN: No, we do not have the sound on that.

HOOVER: Oh, good. I just have --

BERMAN: We'll take your word for it.


BERMAN: We know the fact check. We trust Margaret Hoover on this. She said this.

HOOVER: So, I think republicans run into a stumbling block when it comes to making the case that you got to get past the talking points and the robo calls and the sound bites. But I think, you know, I anticipate that we'll see a doubling down in negativity that where you continue to hear this negative. You continue to hear this negative that we're going to go back.


HOOVER: We're going to go back in time, back to the 1950s, back to 1812.

SOCARIDES: I think it will be -- I think exactly the opposite. I think it will be extremely positive and I think, you know, one thing that no one talked about this morning that we haven't talked about yet this morning that Clinton talked about is when he said politics does not have to be a blood sport.

I thought that was a beautiful moment when he talked about Hillary and how it doesn't have to be a blood sport and how Democrats want to compromise.

BASH: Although, I will say this is a completely objective statement because I've witnessed it over the past four years, particularly, covering Capitol Hill. It is a blood sport for both parties. Absolutely.

SOCARIDES: It doesn't have to be. I think that was his point.

BERMAN: You know what, it's going to be until November this year. I think it's pretty much a done deal.

SOCARIDES: It's going to be, but it doesn't have to be. This country has come together and is able to -- people from both parties are able to cooperate with each other. That's what we have to do going forward. I think the president will talk a lot about that tonight.

BERMAN: Sadly, I have to say, good luck with that, Richard.


BERMAN: Margaret Hoover, Richard Socarides, Dana Bash, thank you for being here all week. I think we're going to talk again tomorrow and wrap up the week with nice little buff (ph). We want to go to break now. We'll be back with EARLY START.


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: As always, we have "Best Advice." Christine has that for us this morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And you know, we're catching people as they live the CNN Grill in Charlotte. So, today's "Best Advice" comes from Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She's the Democratic National Committee chair. And at the CNN Grill, we asked her about the best advice she's ever received. Listen.


REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, DNC CHAIR: The best advice I have received really through my whole life has always served me well is work harder than anyone else and always do your best. If you make sure that you work hard and always do your best, you won't have any regrets and you will be most likely to achieve your goals.


ROMANS: Sounds exactly like what I told my six-year-old yesterday before first grade.


ROMANS: Work really hard, work really hard on your letters and numbers. Listen to your teacher. If you work hard, you won't have any regret.

SAMBOLIN: And do your best, right? That's the best that you can do.


SAMBOLIN: And I know we've been talking about the conventions a lot. We had the RNC and now the DNC. But there is another major event that's happening. It's the biggest sporting event in the world, and it wraps up this weekend. The U.S. open has brought a number of surprises so far this year.

Last night, you know, Andy Roddick played his last match. So, I went to the U.S. open over the weekend and came away with another unexpected remarkable story. This one of triumph. Ryan Mcintosh is a ball assistant who also happens to be an amputee. He lost his leg fighting in Afghanistan for the U.S. army.

Tomorrow morning, I'll have the full story on how he was able to beat the odds to make it to the Open. Trust me, folks, you are not going to want to miss this. It is such an incredible story of inspiration. And now, he is inspiring other soldiers who have had, you know, some major catastrophes happen to them.

So, please tune in because it really is remarkable, and his dad plays a very important role as well. So, that's all for us at EARLY START for John Berman and myself. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien live in Charlotte starts right now.