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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Obama to the Rescue?; Dozens Dead in China Earthquakes; Examining Obama's Speech; One-Legged Soldier Inspires At U.S. Open

Aired September 7, 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)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You didn't elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: He accepts. President Obama closes the Democratic National Convention asking voters for four more years. But will they buy in?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This man has courage in his soul, compassion in his heart, and a spine of steel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Vice President Joe Biden accepting his own nomination and calling his boss the defender of average Americans, for keeping General Motors alive and making that Osama bin Laden call.

Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin in New York.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

I'm live at the midnight diner in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

SAMBOLIN: We are going to head back to John in a moment. But, first, we begin with breaking news into the CNN newsroom.

A series of earthquakes hitting southwestern China, killing at least 43 people. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the four quakes ranged from a magnitude 4.8 to 5.6. Chinese media reports the quakes damaged more than 20,000 homes. We'll continue monitoring that situation for you.

And also overnight, a 3.5 magnitude earthquake rattles West Hollywood. It is the second this week that a quake hits southern California there. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter was located two miles from West Hollywood. Now, damage has been reported a 3.2 magnitude earthquake shook Beverly Hills. That was on Monday.

So let's send it back to John. He is in Charlotte at a diner this morning.

And I understand with cheese fries in front of you, as well, John.

BERMAN: Yes, these in fact are the cheese fries.

We are live this morning at the Midnight Diner in Charlotte because the convention, it's over. The hall is shut down. President Obama made his case last night, officially accepting his party's nomination.

Now, the faithful in the crowd loved it. The critics, may be less so. The reviews have been mixed, but his mission was clear -- to frame the election as a choice, a choice between two very different visions of America's future.

Now, CNN's Dana Bash is with me here now.

And, Dana, to me, it felt like a safe speech, almost reserved.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know, I agree. It's very hard for him to take any chances right now. And the reason is actually he framed it at the beginning in a way to explain what you just said, he said you elected me to tell the truth. And sometimes the truth isn't easy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): Barack Obama accepted his party's nomination with a kind of soaring rhetoric that got him elected four years ago, except hope and change were replaced by a reality check.

OBAMA: I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention. Times have changed and so have I. I'm no longer just a candidate. I'm the president.

BASH: Yes, we can, now a plea for patience.

OBAMA: America, I never said this journey would be easy and I won't promise that now. Yes, our path is harder, but at least to a better place. Yes, our road is longer, but we travel together. We don't turn back. We leave no one behind.

BASH: The Obama campaign ripped in to Mitt Romney for not offering enough specifics at his acceptance speech last week. The president took that a step further.

OBAMA: They want your vote, but they don't want you to know their plan. And that's because all they have to offer is the same prescriptions they've had for the last 30 years. Have a surplus, try a tax cut. Deficit too high, try another. Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regular races and call us in the morning. BASH: He offered new promises for a second term.

OBAMA: I'm asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country, goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit.

BASH: Some specifics, a vow to create 1 million new manufacturing jobs. Cut growth of college tuition in half over the next 10 years. And cut oil imports in half by 2020.

Vice President Joe Biden took on the role of eyewitness to the president while he made tough decisions.

BIDEN: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you what I think you already know. But I watch it up close. Bravery resides in the heart of Barack Obama and time and time again I witnessed him summon it. This man has courage in his soul, compassion in his heart, and a spine of steel.

BASH: And Biden delivered the bumper sticker line he loves.

BIDEN: We can now proudly say what you've heard me say the last six months -- Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.

BASH: Though the night belonged to the president, the Democratic nominee from 2004 offered one of the most memorable one liners of the night.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better of now than he was four years ago.

BASH: And when it comes to the lasting images from this convention, it is this moment, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords shot through the head just last year and now walking without a cane on stage to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

GABBY GIFFORDS (D), FORMER ARIZONA CONGRESSWOMAN: Liberty and justice for all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. Dana and I are joined by Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, also a CNN contributor.

Maria, you were in the hall last night. First of all, let me just ask, how did it go over will?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it worked beautifully in the hall. I mean, obviously these are the faithful. But the reaction that you saw from them was they were reacting to a president who they knew wasn't going to be able to I think rise to the moment of 2008 and I don't think everybody was expecting him to do that.

So what I call it was a poetic pragmatism, because it gave the faithful what they needed to hear. You could see it in the teary eyes and all of the reactions. He actually spoke to each of the members of the Democratic coalition, he talked about immigrants, he talked about women, he talked about gays, he talked about labor. I mean, everybody was included.

BERMAN: It wasn't the 2004 speech in Boston. This was not the 2008 speech. This was probably not his top five, maybe not even top 10 speeches.

CARDONA: But I think that was strategically smart because again, 2008 was lightning in a bottle and he was not going to be able to recreate that. What he needed to do last night was reassure.

And what I thought that what he did brilliantly was he made us take ownership of the hope and change. And asking us to what I call sort of the Jerry McGuire moment. Help me keep helping you. And that's exactly what he's asking the country to do as he asks them to reelect him for another four years.

BERMAN: And, Dana, you were surprised, we both were surprised. There was a lot of foreign policy in there.

BASH: There really was. It was shocking considering that that is so low on the priority list for voters right now. It is the economy, the economy, the economy.

But he is running against somebody who is a former governor who has no experience on the foreign policy stage. And who just had a trip abroad which didn't go so well.

So not only it they hit him on foreign policy, they had some fun with it.

BERMAN: But do you know who else became president with no foreign policy experience? A guy named Barack Obama, right?

BASH: Exactly. But he had a year in the Senate.

BERMAN: That's right. But that was interesting.

The faded posters, the college students, the young kids who were so much a key part of 2008, did it they see something in this speech is that will excite them?

CARDONA: I think they did see it. And again, I'll continue to say this, you can't compare to 2008 and I think that's what a lot of people do, especially when you talk about college students and we saw Paul Ryan clearly take advantage of that.

But I think the young voter is a coalition, they are a group of people that they're taking care of in the get-out-the-vote effort. The way they're organizing on college campuses, the way they're using the faithful in the young voters to reach out to their own colleagues and their own peers I think is something that's incredibly powerful. You don't see it every day, it's kind of behind the scene, but I think that is one of the secret weapons of the Obama campaign right now.

BASH: But I do think it was strategic to keep it kind of not that great. Because a big rap on him particularly as things have not gotten as good as people wanted is that he's all talk and no substance. So the idea of keeping the soaring talk to a minimum is a way to try to answer that.

BERMAN: And, of course, there's something so big that happens three hours from now which is the jobs report comes out. We may not even be talking about the convention speech at 8:30 if it's a lousy jobs report or if it's a great one. We'll talk more about this.

Maria Cardona, Dana Bash, thanks for being here. Share the cheese fries. We're going to talk a little bit more about some other political news right now because whatever you thought of the speech, it really blew up Twitter. It was new record for a political event, more than 9 million tweets sent during President Obama's address. That's close to 53,000 tweets a minute, which is a lot.

By comparison, Mitt Romney topped out with a little more than 14,000 tweets per minute which actually sounds like a lot to me, also.

As you might imagine, the Romney camp was quick to react to the president's speech. They didn't like it. They responded with a theme we will be hearing a lot in the next two months.

Here's part of their statement. It says, "Tonight, President Obama laid out the choice in this election, making the case for more of the same politics that have not worked for the past four years. He offered more promises, but he hasn't kept the promises he made four years ago. Americans will hold President Obama accountable for his record -- they know they're not better off and that it's time to change direction." That from the Romney campaign.

Romney's running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, is in southern California this morning. Last night, he headlined a $25,000 a couple fund-raiser at an exclusive Beverly Hills hotel. Earlier in the day at a campaign stop in Colorado, Ryan called President Obama the most partisan president he's ever seen. Those were Paul Ryan's words.

Zoraida, I will save you some cheese fries, meanwhile back to you for more news in New York.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, I'm not letting you go. It is like a party behind you. Did everybody just stay up overnight and they're hanging out there this morning?

BERMAN: I think in a word, yes. I mean, I think this is where the party moved, clearly to the Midnight Diner. I think the convention parties probably ended 3:30, 4:00 and you come here for some coffee and cheese fries. You got to go somewhere, right?

BERMAN: Yes, I see some women really dressed up behind.

But listen, we're wrapping up here. It's been two weeks. It's been a whirlwind.

What was your favorite moment? Do you have a takeaway moment? BERMAN: My favorite moment is easy. I was in the Arizona delegation last night when Gabrielle Giffords, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords recited the pledge of allegiance and it was electric, a wave of emotion just swept over that hall, particularly where I was standing. I mean, floodgates opened. People started crying.

And then the most amazing thing I saw was people in the Arizona delegation giving each other high fives when she was doing the pledge. And it was -- I can't describe it. It was absolutely electric.

SAMBOLIN: That's wonderful.

Well, thanks for sharing that with us. Some of us missed it, you know? Yesterday, all those special moments. So we look forward to seeing them all today.

It is 11 minutes -- thank you, John. It's 11 minutes past the hour.

Bermuda is bracing for hurricane Leslie. The category 1 storm could pass the island this weekend. And people are being told to prepare for the worst. It is already bringing dangerous swells and currents to coastal areas of the island and here in the United States, the East Coast is not out of play either.

So let's get right to Alexandra Steel. She is at CNN hurricane headquarters.

What can you tell us?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's not as bad as it could be for Bermuda. Bermuda sees hurricanes about three every 10 years and kind of it's moving farther east than we'd seen it before.

So, here's what we're watching. This is the Atlantic. We do have two hurricanes at play. There's Leslie.

Here is Michael. Now, this is a category 2. It is small, it is tight, it is powerful. You'd even see the eye, 105-mile-per-hour winds. Good news, won't affect anyone, won't affect land.

So with that, our attention turns to Leslie. Now, right now it's category 1, maximum sustained winds at 75 miles per hour.

What's happened is it has sat over the same space, kind of the cold water for the last 18 hours or so. So we have not seen any intensification. So that is the good news.

Here is the projected path. Now, you can see here is Bermuda right now, it's about 430 miles south/southeast of Bermuda, expected to make the past farther east than earlier thought Sunday morning.

So here are the impacts. As it moves farther north, this area east of Halifax could see the biggest impacts with this.

But for Bermuda, tropical storm watch in effect. But it's a monster storm. Tropical force winds extend at 185 miles. And so we could see especially Sunday morning, that's when kind of the biggest wind threat will be.

We'll have more on this coming up a little bit.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you, Alexandra Steele, live for us in Atlanta.

It is 13 minutes past the hour.

She's a tennis prodigy. But she almost didn't make it to the junior U.S. Open because of how she looks. Take a look at her right there. Why this rising star was nearly benched. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Seventeen minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. I am in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the Midnight Diner, where the convention party has moved.

And we're getting an early read on your local news that's making national headlines.

Up first, news from Charlotte -- here in Charlotte, officials are warning of a max exodus out of the city. Obviously after they leave the midnight diner. People getting out of town after the Democratic convention and the hometown "Charlotte Observer" says security checkpoints at Douglas International Airport opened at 3:30 Eastern this morning as thousands of delegates, politicians, workers, and media types -- they head for home.

You know, hey, if you're in the airport right now watching us -- hello. Hello to all of you at the airport.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning.

BERMAN: Airport volunteers -- yes, good morning. Boy, I'm sure you're happy there.

Airport volunteers are on hand to make sure everyone is in the right gates and right lines and travelers are advised to get to the airport three hours early. So be watching CNN there. We know you are.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Well, at least we got something in there, right?

All right. Eighteen minutes past the hour.

Listen to this, John -- a scorpion sting that cost $83,000. This is from "The Arizona Republic." Chandler Regional Medical Center charged Marcie Edmonds 83 grand for two doses of scorpion anti-venom in the emergency room. Her insurance company paid about $58,000 and she was on the line for about $25,000.

The hospital apologized for any distress caused by the cost of her treatment, but they did not make that bill disappear. Most poisonous scorpions in the U.S. can be found in Arizona and in some cases, if a patient is not treated, their condition can become life threatening. That is very expensive.

BERMAN: You can't get beyond scorpion bite. You have the scorpion bite, I'm like, that's the stress.

I'm so sad, I'm missing the U.S. Open in New York right now -- new hope for American tennis, though, was nearly benched because the USTA says she needs to get in better shape. Meet the 16-year-old tennis prodigy, Taylor Townsend. She is the world number one junior girls player. She's the reigning junior Australian Open singles champion and junior Wimbledon doubles champion.

And yesterday, she won two matches at the U.S. Open junior tournament. But "The Wall Street Journal" says this morning she almost didn't make it there because the U.S. team coaches wouldn't pay her way until she slimmed down. Her mother says she paid her daughter's expenses herself. You know, the USTA says they just want to keep fitness as an important regiment for all their players, but if she's winning, she's winning, right?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, this is a baffling story to me. We actually pulled the full story trying to figure out exactly what was going on here. I really believe there has to be more to it. They're saying, our concern is her long term health, number one, and her long term development as a player. But, you know, she's 16 years old. And I'm a girl. I was 16 once. It's he hard to keep your weight in control when you're 16 years old.

So it seems odd because she's the number one player in the world, her mom says. So what's the deal. Anyway, odd, odd.

BERMAN: Like I said, she's winning.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. For an expanded look at all our top story, head to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart.

It is 20 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up-to-date.

A man who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, the site of the Democratic National Convention, accused of threatening to kill President Obama on Twitter.

Twenty-one-year-old Donte Jamar Sims made an initial court appearance yesterday, that's a picture of him. According to the criminal complaint, he sent five messages including, quote, "The Secret Service is going to be defenseless once I aim the rifle at Barack Obama's forehead."

The Secret Service says Sims told them he was high on pot when he sent out those tweets.

And new overnight, CNN confirming a Pakistani judge has granted bail to a Christian girl accused of blasphemy. The 14-year-old girl was arrested last month after angry neighbors accused her of burning pages from the Koran. Her lawyer says she suffers from a learning disability. And lawyers for former Chicago area cop Drew Peterson still insisting their client did not kill his third wife Kathleen Savio, even though a jury found him guilty of murder yesterday after 14 hours of deliberations.

Savio's 2004 death was considered an accident until Peterson's fourth wife Stacy disappeared in 2007. She has never been found and not declared dead either. Now that Peterson's been convicted, Stacy's sister is hoping her family can find justice, as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASSANDRA CALES, STACY PETERSON'S SISTER: This is the first step. Maybe somebody will come forward that maybe knows something about my sister and they feel safe now that they can come forward to talk since Drew is put away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: The ex-police sergeant faces a maximum 60-year prison term when he is sentenced. That is scheduled November 26th.

And boy band One Direction almost spoiled Rihanna's night at the MTV music video awards until --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The VMA, the Video of the Year Award goes to Rihanna!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: That's how you want to be announced. She won the most coveted award of the night, Video of the Year for "We Found Love". The night's other big winner, One Direction with three awards, including best new artist. Rihanna's ex, Chris Brown, won two, Nicki Minaj and Drake were also big winners.

Exciting night.

Let's head back to John in Charlotte.

BERMAN: That announcement, that was like the craziest I've ever seen.

SAMBOLIN: I love it. Isn't that the way you want to be announced? A lot of enthusiasm.

BERMAN: That is. Some day. Some day we'll win our VMAs, Zoraida. Some day it will happen for us.

We are here at Charlotte, of course, for the Democratic National Convention. And coming up, the single most important moment in this campaign might not have been the speeches last night. But comes in just a few hours.

What is this critical game changing moment? It rhymes with jobs report. We'll tell you all about it. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. We're minding your business this morning.

It is jobs day, the big august jobs report comes out this morning at 8:30 a.m. Eastern from the Labor Department. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney will be watching those numbers. The economy obviously the center piece of both of that are campaigns.

A CNN Money survey of economists says 120,000 jobs were added last month, down from 163,000 jobs in July. The jobless rate is expected to remain unchanged. That is at 8.3 percent.

So let's check in on the markets for you. U.S. stocks futures are slightly higher. And stocks saw a big rally yesterday after a solid report on jobs from payroll processor ADP. The bond-buying announcement out of Europe also pushing those markets up. The Dow closed 245 points higher, the highest level since December of 2007.

Amazon unveiling it new line of Kindles and Kindle Fire tablets. The Kindle paperwhite features a brighter fiber optics screen for you that can be seen clearly in direct sunlight or in the dark. And the Kindle Fire HD has a sharper picture and faster processor and a choice of seven-inch or nine-inch format, for $200 and $300 respectively.

President Obama calls out his opponent for his lack of foreign policy experience. But wasn't he in the same boat when he ran in 2008? We're breaking down that speech, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After all, you don't call Russia our number one enemy, not al Qaeda, Russia. Unless, you're still stuck in a cold war mind warp.

BERMAN (voice-over): Turning the tables. The president once slammed for his inexperience accepts his nomination with a dead al Qaeda leader on his resume and a message for Mitt Romney.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Hurricane Leslie racing towards Bermuda, crashing waves into the states. The latest on the storm's path is just ahead for you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START. We're happy you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin in New York.

BERMAN (on-camera): And I'm John Berman live in Charlotte, North Carolina at the midnight diner. Turn out the lights, the party's over, the conventions are done, and the president's acceptance speech is the talk of the political world this morning. And with the November election less than two months away, everyone is glued to their seats to see if the president will get any kind of bounce.

I'm joined here this morning by CNN senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, who is also, by the way, a ninja. Look what she did with the salt here on this table.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: She has magical powers. Also joining me and also with magical powers, former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, Richard Socarides who is the CNN contributor, and of course, our friend with magic, too, Republican strategist, Ana Navarro.

And Ana, I want to start with you because you are our resident Republican this morning, and also, because I read your twitter feed at night. And I read something you wrote last night. You said that this speech from the president was presidential.

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I thought so.

BERMAN: Explain.

NAVARRO: It was not the soaring rhetoric. It was not the 2004 candidate. It was not the 2008 candidate. It wasn't that memorable speech that just lit your hair on fire and you wanted to go out and follow Barack Obama down whatever path he led you. This was a much more somber tone. It was one where he admitted failures.

It was one where we saw him with gray hair for the first time and dents on his fender as he likes to say. But it was presidential I thought. It was one where he tried to portray himself as firmly in control commander in chief and the firmly in control president. I think he did what he had to do.

Not the best speech I've ever heard from Barack Obama, but the most presidential speech I've ever heard from Barack Obama in that convention.

BERMAN: Richard, a Democrat, is smiling at this. He's smiling. He's happy --

RICHARD SOCARIDES, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: She loved the speech.

BERMAN: Right.

SOCARIDES: She loved the speech. I don't have to say anything. I mean, listen, I think it was very forceful, resolute president, very strategic, aimed at undecideds, aimed at the middle. I love that he said I admit my mistakes. We haven't been perfect. But I thought it was very hopeful. And you know, -- I don't knot, it was pretty terrific.

I mean, you know, maybe not the best speech ever in the history of conventions, but I thought it was a really excellent speech, and I think it was more importantly an amazing three days for the Democrats. BERMAN: Dana and I we've been talking about foreign policy. How much foreign policy and how much bragging about foreign policy was really in the speech. Let's play the bite where he talks a little about the Republican experience on foreign policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy.

(CHEERING)

OBAMA: But from all that we've seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly. After all, you don't call Russia our number one enemy, not al Qaeda, Russia, unless, you're still stuck in a cold war mind warp.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, polls show the president does have an advantage on leadership, but this election, no one really thinks this is going to be about foreign policy. Why spend so much time on this?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what, I honestly think it's because those were the areas where he could get some serious digs in to Mitt Romney. That was one. And talking about the fact that Mitt Romney went to Great Britain, one of the United States' greatest allies, and you know, made the very angry and had a big blunder there.

So, if he can't deal without, what he's going to do with. So, I think that he definitely did talk a lot about foreign policy and substance much more than we expected, but I think it really was, in fact, it was a forum for him to tweak him.

BERMAN: You mentioned specifics here. I want to put up a full screen here of the five goals the president seems to say that he laid out for the new term, among them create one million new manufacturing jobs, get nut oil imports, cut them in half by 2020, cut growth of college tuition, and two other goals here.

These are goals, but this is not a very specific hyper "State of the Union" presidential plan. Ana, is this impressive to you?

NAVARRO: You know, again, it's not the most impressed I've ever been by Barack Obama, but I'm also not unimpressed. I love a good political speech whether it's a Republican, a Democrat, a libertarian, a vegetarian, or a Hungarian. I think Mitt Romney did what he had to do in his speech.

And I thought the foreign policy stuff was very interesting for two reasons. First of all, he tried to make it up on the Israel. We'll all remember that the day before, they had a terribly awkward snafu when it came to amending the party platform on the issue of Jerusalem being the capital of Israel.

Something that the party platform had taken out, and it was an embarrassing awkward moment where there were a lot of boos from the floor from the delegates. But also, you know, everything in life is relative. And four years ago, he was on defense on foreign policy against a very experienced John McCain.

Four years later, he's on offense. But you know, to quote your former, you know, boss, Bill Clinton, it takes a lot of brass for Barack Obama to pick on foreign policy.

BERMAN: That's going to be our last word, Richard. You're smiling. You're already happy, because Ana did your work for you this morning.

(LAUGHTER)

SOCARIDES: Patriotic. It was a patriotic evening at the Democratic convention. I thought that was really interesting moment.

BERMAN: That is a good point. A lot of American flags last night.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: We're going to move on here. Dana Bash, Richard Socarides, Ana Navarro, and of course, the magical salt shaker put up by our resident ninja here. We're going to move on talking about more politics, because it did not take long for the Romney campaign to react to President Obama's speech, as you look at the salt shaker.

(LAUGHTER)

It was a theme that we were going -- we've heard before, and we will keep hearing until November. Here is part of their statement. It says, "Tonight, President Obama laid out the choice in this election making the case for more of the same policies that haven't worked for the past four years. He offered more promises, but he hasn't kept the promises he made four years ago."

"Americans will hold President Obama accountable for his record. They know they're not better off, and it's time to change direction."

By at least one measure, the convention was a hit. Former President Bill Clinton topped the NFL kickoff special. An estimated 25.1 million people watched the second night of the Democratic convention, highlighted by Bill Clinton's nominating speech.

The Giants/Cowboys game averaged 23.9 million viewers. So, there you have it. Zoraida, back to you in New York. The salt shaker, it still stands.

SAMBOLIN: I got to tell you. I want to figure that out, how she made that happen. So, when we have a little bit more time, we'll chat about that or she could tweet out what her secret is. Thank you, John. News you can use (ph). That's probably what he's saying.

Thirty-eight past the hour. Another hurricane is on its way. This time, Leslie is churning towards Bermuda. Take a look at her there. She's pretty menacing. Swimmers in the U.S. warned to proceed with caution. The latest next in a live report. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: WELCOME back to EARLY START. It is nice to have you with us this morning. Forty-two minutes past the hour.

Well, Bermuda is getting ready for hurricane Leslie. The Category 1 storm could pass the island this weekend. And here's what it looks like from space. I love these cool pictures. It's already bringing dangerous swells and currents to coastal areas of the island and here in the United States. Parts of the east coast are already feeling some of the storm's effects, as well.

So, let's get right to Alexandra Steel. She is at CNN Hurricane Headquarters. Pretty menacing, right?

ALEXANDRA STEEL, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. It is a big storm. Not that organized, but what we're seeing right now, 75-mile-per-hour sustained winds. So, it's a Category 1. Now, the eye isn't that concentric, but what we're going to see is this wind field that's so massive. So, the question is, it will pass east of Bermuda. How close the pass will it make?

It won't make a direct hit, but look, here's Bermuda. Here's the center of circulation, the cone of where the potential for the center to move. Now, from the center of the cone to Bermuda is 190 miles. From the edge of the cone to Bermuda is 45 miles. But we will see it pass, especially on Sunday morning.

That's when it looks as though it will make its closest pass, but it is a big storm. And here are the potential impacts. We already have a tropical storm watch in effect. That means we're going to see tropical storm conditions within the next 48 to 60 hours. Tropical storm force winds on this thing are massive from the center. They extend out 185 miles.

Hurricane force winds extend out 35 miles. So, U.S. impacts, big waves and rip currents believe it or not, Zoraida, all the way from Florida to Cape Cod. Even in New Jersey, they're seeing three and four foot waves now. So, really deadly rip currents the biggest issue with this. So, kind of east coasters, stay out of the water this weekend.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. She's got a big footprint there. We'll check back in with you. Thank you very much, Alexandra Steele in Atlanta for us. So, let's head over to John. He is in Charlotte. Good morning to you.

BERMAN: Hi, Zoraida. You know, President Obama capped of two weeks of political drama last night. The conventions are over. And you know, there are a lot of people who say the conventions don't matter anymore, but I submit there is always something you have never seen before here, always something. And I tried to find that something in the last two weeks, and I documented it on Twitter and Instragram.

I want to show you some of these pictures. Seriously, you know, two weeks ago, who would have thought to talk to a chair. That was my view of Clint Eastwood. I was standing just a few feet away when he was talking to the chair. Extraordinary. You know, two weeks ago, who would have thought that the two most tactful politicians named Romney and Obama were named Ann and Michelle.

This is how I saw it when Michelle Obama first entered the arena this week. She took a look to see what it would look like from the stage. I was standing just a few feet off. You know, and two weeks ago, who would have thought that weather would threaten to completely disrupt and dismantle these carefully laid plans, and of course, you know, it did.

It canceled one night of the Republican convention and forced the Democratic convention inside. This is what topical storm Isaac looked like from my hotel room. You know, once a pretty bad storm, canceled one night of the Republican convention. So, you know, as Bill Clinton said in 1988, in closing, you know, if you need more proof that conventions still matter, they're still fun and are still fascinating.

If you need more proof that you really can't touch this, I offer you this, MC Hammer. See, conventions do matter. If you want to see more of these pictures, some great pictures of politicians behind the scene, come visit our blog, CNN.com/EARLYSTART. We have more pictures there. it's worth looking at.

All right. Moving back now, one of the most inspirational stories from this year's U.S. open. It isn't from a tennis player. It's from military vet who's overcome the odds as an amputee and is now a ball assistant. It is an amazing story. You will want to see this.

And if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us anytime to your desktop or your mobile phone, just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. We're happy you're with us. It is 49 minutes past the hour.

The largest sporting event in the United States wraps up this weekend, and perhaps, the most powerful and inspirational story from this year's U.S. open comes from 23-year-old Ryan McIntosh. Never heard of him. Well, maybe you've seen him. He is a ball assistant, a military vet, and an amputee.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN MCINTOSH, U.S. OPEN BALLPERSON: This is my running leg. This is a combat (inaudible) badge. This is U.S. army and then my purple heart badge from Afghanistan.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Ryan lost his leg two years ago in a land mine explosion while serving in Afghanistan, his first tour of duty as an infantryman in the army.

MCINTOSH: I remember my guys yelling IED, IED. And so, I didn't really know that I was injured in the beginning. I was just kind of in shock. And so, then they started screaming where's Mac, where's Mac.

And so, I started kind of putting my hand up to see if they could find me and then I ended up crawling out of the ditch, grabbing my swat (ph) leader's hand in that day and I remember picking myself up and looking at my foot and realizing that my toes weren't there anymore.

SAMBOLIN: All Ryan says he could think about after his injury was getting better for his son, Kaden (ph), born just five months after that blast.

MCINTOSH: That was probably the biggest thing running through my head that I was going to be a dad and then it wasn't going to be the same for me, and so that hurt me.

SAMBOLIN: Ryan says it was his father that gave him the strength to pull through.

MCINTOSH: One of my final surgeries that I went through, I was in excruciating pain because they just shaved my bone and I laid in the hospital bed screaming for about half an hour. I kicked everybody out of the room besides my dad, because he's the only person that I really felt like I could be that, you know, vulnerable with. And so, my dad held my hand and dealt with that with me.

SAMBOLIN: Incredibly, Ryan was back up and walking in two months, running in three. Playing sports like basketball, soccer, and volleyball. In time, an army commander impressed with his athleticism told him he should try out to become a U.S. open ball person. It is a fiercely competitive process, and Ryan had never even played tennis.

MCINTOSH: I was kind of like a ball person? What is that? And so, I went to a tryout, and at the clinic, they were like, all right, well, you can throw a tennis ball. And that's when I used the word, you know, I can throw -- I've thrown a hand grenade, so I think I can handle a tennis ball.

SAMBOLIN: Now, he assists tennis stars like James Blake and Serena Williams. Off the court, Ryan who is still in the army works as an adaptive sports coordinator helping other wounded vets get active again.

MCINTOSH: I want them to realize that, you know, life's not over and that, you know, you can still do a lot of things and overcome your injuries, and you know, move on and get through them because that's what life's about is, you know, getting through the hard times and getting to the better times.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Well, Ryan continues to beat the odds. He is training to run in the 2012 Paralympics in Rio.

John, this is an impressive young man, and he's so proud to be a soldier. He wanted to go back to the front lines and continue to fight, believe it or not.

BERMAN: What a nice inspiring story. Thank you so much, Zoraida. That was really, really cool.

SAMBOLIN: My pleasure.

BERMAN: We have a lot more that's very cool coming up on EARLY START in the next hour. Looking ahead on the home stretch of the campaign trail, will President Obama get a convention bounce? Will today's huge jobs report deflate that bounce? We'll be joined by CNN contribute, Ryan Lizza. He has answers. CNNMoney.com managing editor, Lex Harris, he's got answers. And Congresswoman Judy Chu of California, co-chair of the 2012 Obama campaign, she has spin and answers.

More news, voters and swimmers warned as hurricane Leslie kicks up angry waves along the East Coast. Bermuda now in the crosshairs, and we have more news that every driver is going to want to see. We're going to tell you but the fastest highway in the country. We will show you exactly where it is and just how fast you can go.

Do not change the channel or you will regret it forever. That is all coming up here in the next hour of CNN. But first, an Olympian's running record is beaten by a robot, a robot. The new cheetah that is blowing away the competition. That and cheese fries, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It is 57 minutes after the hour. John Berman here in Charlotte along with Zoraida Sambolin in New York. We are taking a look at what is trending on the web this morning.

And this morning, sitting around, playing video games for hours? (INAUDIBLE) How about a scholarship?

SAMBOLIN: The gaming website, Twitch TV, awarded $5,000 scholarships to student gamers who were able to balance their playing skills and high game rankings with their GPA. Don't you love this? One of them is not your typical video game nerd. She's a woman who's dominating all the news on the game Halo. Kelly Donlap (ph) is a 26-year-old doctorial candidate at the American school of professional psychology in Washington.

BERMAN: You know, I've read all kinds of studies which say that people who play video games and are good of them end up being smarter than the rest of us. So, good for her.

SAMBOLIN: I hope that's true. I have two kids who play a lot of them.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: I guarantee it. A robot that can run faster than Usain Bolt. A company called Boston Dynamics had developed a four legged robot called "The Cheetah" for the U.S. military. This looks like something out of the movies. Olympian, Usain Bolt, set the world record for human speed running 27.28 miles per hour for a 20-meter split during the 100-meter dash. The cheetah ran about 28 miles an hour. A real cheetah can hit 60 miles per hour in short bursts. So, the robot cheetah has a long way to go for that, but it is still, I have to say, fairly spooky and fairly cool.

SAMBOLIN: Pretty impressive.

Listen, I just hear that going back to the game (ph), you have an Atari in your office, is that true?

BERMAN: I have an Atari-2600 from 1981, baby.

SAMBOLIN: Wow. You are dating --

BERMAN: We're going to play when I come back.

SAMBOLIN: I would love to. You are dating yourself. I love that.

All right. It is back to the campaign trail now, right? But not before a few late night convention parting shots.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": This Democratic National Convention wrapped up tonight. There were a lot of speeches touting President Obama's accomplishments since he took office, and yes, Osama Bin Laden is dead now.

The auto industry seems to have pulled through pretty well, but on the other hand, back in 2008, there was no Snooki, there was no Honey Boo- Boo, and now, there are both. Snooki even had her child, and someone has to be held accountable.

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Both conventions are finally over, and if you watch, I think it's pretty clear who should be the next president of the United States. Bill Clinton. How about that? Yes.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

LENO: He was unbelievable. According to the Democrat, he won the election for Obama. He helped the cowboys Beat the Giants.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: Even had time to go to Hooters afterwards. What a night.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: What a night.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Last night, Monica Lewinsky's former rabbi gave a benediction after Bill Clinton spoke at the DNC.

(LAUGHTER) FALLON: Which explains why he started with that one Hebrew phrase, "awkward."

(APPLAUSE)

LENO: It's being reported that among the major networks, among the major networks, NBC was the only one to broadcast Vice President Joe Biden's speech live. Isn't that amazing? No, no. NBC is still considered a major network?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: That is wrong. That is so wrong.

BERMAN: Jay Leno. He's getting back at them.

SAMBOLIN: That's my former network, I love them. Let's move on.

BERMAN: All right, everyone. Stay with us because the next hour of EARLY START begins right now.