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Crunch Time for the Campaign; Disaster at 20,000 Feet; The Emmy Goes To...; Candidates Spar On Foreign Policy

Aired September 24, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Crunch time in the race for president. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney trade prime time shots at each other with just six weeks left in the race.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Disaster at 20,000 feet. Dozens still missing after an avalanche on one of the world's highest peaks.

SAMBOLIN: And upset at the Emmys. A new show upstages "Mad Men" and grabs the top trophy.

Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. Thanks for being with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Five a.m. in the East. So good to see you this morning.

Our big story right off the bat: tensions rising in the race for the White House. Mitt Romney promising to get more aggressive in the final six weeks of the campaign. He said the President has been intentionally misleading voters about his positions.

Now, we have two telling pieces of sound to play for you here. First, listen to President Obama's heated words responding to criticism on his foreign policy. Then listen to Romney counter about the President's attacks on his own positions.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've executed on my foreign policy. And it's one that the American people largely agree with. So, you know, if Governor Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I'm not going to try to fool people into thinking he believes things he doesn't. He's trying to fool people into thinking things I think things I don't. That ends, I think, during the debates.


BERMAN: A lot of pointed rhetoric there.

I'm joined by CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser, live from Washington this morning, who is monitoring everything going on in the race right now.

And, Paul, just seconds ago, seconds ago, literally, we have a new ad from the Obama campaign targeting that 47 percent comment from Mitt Romney.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, it was just one week ago, John, those hidden camera tapes came to light and they really alter the campaign trail. It's really dominating the race for the White House. So, I guess it's no surprise. You know, the super PAC supporting the President came out with an ad earlier last week. Now, you have the President's campaign itself with a new ad. Take a listen.


NARRATOR: Mitt Romney attacked 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax, including veterans, elderly, the disabled.

ROMNEY: My job is not to worry about those people.

NARRATOR: Doesn't the President have to worry about everyone? Mitt Romney paid just 14.1 percent in taxes last year. He keeps millions in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. He won't release his tax returns before 2010. Maybe instead of attacking others on taxes, Romney should come clean on his.


STEINHAUSER: That's taxes in there as well. And we know, of course, that the Romney campaign releasing those tax returns from 2011 just the other day.

You know, Mitt Romney is fighting back on this and we've heard him try to explain those comments. He did it again in that "60 minutes" interview. Here you go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I wonder if any of that criticism gets through to you and whether you are concerned about it all. Whether concerns --

ROMNEY: That's not the campaign. That was me, right? That's not a campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are the campaign.

ROMNEY: I have a very effective campaign, that's doing a very good job. But not everything I say is elegant. I want to make it very clear -- I want to help 100 percent of the American people.


STEINHAUSER: That's his new line: "Help 100 percent of the people." John, I think we're going to hear both candidates argue over this one for quite some time to come. BERMAN: You hear Mitt Romney being a little prickly there in the "60 Minutes" interview, but Barack Obama was, too. There were a lot of moments of sort of extreme tension in these exchanges. It was surprising. And particularly Barack Obama, the President, pressed on where he didn't measure up in his first term.

STEINHAUSER: Exactly. And he's he talked about this on the campaign trail in the last couple of weeks and the Romney campaign has really pounced when he said one of his biggest disappointments was he couldn't change the culture right here in Washington. Take a listen to what he said in that "60 Minutes" interview.


OBAMA: I think that, you know, as President I bear responsibility for everything to some degree. One of the things I've realized over the last two years is that that only happens if I'm enlisting the American people much more aggressively than I did the first two years.


STEINHAUSER: And Barack Obama says, if re-elected, he would enlist the American people quite a lot in his second term as he tries to get things done. You know, he's also blaming the Republican Congress, John, for helping or hurting him actually as he tries to get things done -- John.

BERMAN: I want to shoot to foreign policy, Paul, because the administration's response on attacks in Libya have been evolving at best, contradictory at worst here, whether or not there were warnings that they heeded about a terror attack, whether warnings from Chris Stevens himself may have been ignored. Is there any sign this is affecting the race right now? And when might this become a problem for the Obama administration?

STEINHAUSER: It's definitely dominating coverage. You know, this was supposed to be an election about the economy, right? But we've heard a lot about foreign policy in the campaign trail, ever since those Mideast attacks against the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya.

Take a look at this, though -- a couple of poll numbers. Here's the poll number that the President's re-election campaign would like you to look at when it comes who would better handle foreign policy. You can see the President with a 15-point advantage in his very recent Pew Research poll, and we've seen similar numbers from other surveys, including our own at CNN.

Go to the next number though and this is from NBC/"Wall Street Journal," and this is the President's approval rating on foreign policy. This was conducted just after September 11th, after those attacks happened. And look at that, the president's rating slipping a bit from August to September.

John, one thing, though, listen, overall foreign policy on the campaign trail when it comes to American voters, it's very small compared to the economy, other social issues. But remember, one of the debates coming up, one of those three presidential debates is focused entirely on foreign policy. So, yes, it could very well play a role on dictating who wins on November 6th.

BERMAN: All right. Paul Steinhauser, live in Washington this morning -- thanks very much, Paul.

SAMBOLIN: It is five minutes past the hour. World leaders are gathering in New York City, ahead of the 67th United Nations General Assembly session, which begins tomorrow. President Obama will be one of the first speakers.

On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gives his address. He sat down for an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan and was asked about a possible military conflict with Israel.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Do you fear that war is imminent? Do you fear that there will be military conflict, perhaps even before the end of this year between your country and Israel?

PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): Of course, the Zionists are very much -- are very adventuresome. Very seeking to fabricate things and I think they see themselves at the end of the line, and I do firmly believe that they seek to create opportunities for themselves and their adventurist behaviors.


SAMBOLIN: Piers also asked Ahmadinejad about the death of Osama bin Laden.



MORGAN: Were you pleased that Osama bin Laden was killed by American Navy SEALs on the instruction of President Obama?

AHMADINEJAD: I would have been happier to see a transparent trial, a formal trial and find out the root causes of all of the events of the last few years.


SAMBOLIN: And you can see the full interview with the Iranian president on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT", 9:00 Eastern Time, right here on CNN.

The eighth annual Bill Clinton Global Initiative is underway in New York. More than 50 current or former heads of state are attending. The former president's wife, Hillary, is scheduled to speak this morning. President Obama and Mitt Romney speak tomorrow. The Clinton Global Initiative goal is solve the world's most pressing problems.

And the search is on again for dozens of mountain climbers unaccounted for in Nepal. At least eight were killed yesterday when snow and ice gave way on the world's eighth highest peak, which is located near Nepal's border with China.

Sumnima Udas is following developments from Delhi.

Sumnima, what are the latest developments there? We understand there are many climbers missing?

SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're getting information bits and pieces, right now. We know that three helicopters went out this morning to try to bring back some of those bodies and also to see if there were other survivors. We know that eight mountaineers have died so far. Amongst them, four were French, one German, one Spaniard, one Italian, and one Nepali.

We also know that 21 climbers were rescued between yesterday and today. They are right now in various hospitals in the capital, in Kathmandu being treated for various things. Most of them are suffering from frostbite.

Amongst them is also one American, Glenn Blake (ph), who is actually a skier. He was part of a group trying to -- who were intending to ski down Mt. Manaslu. And he was at base camp three with his colleagues when the avalanche hit about 4:00 in the morning.

And he spoke to a filmmaker of Epic TV, it's a group that makes documentaries on extreme skiing, extreme climbing. And he had the following to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 4:45, he was reading his Bible, reading his daily devotional. They heard a sound and Greg turned to him and said, did you hear that wind? A second later, he said, no, that's an avalanche. He said immediately the avalanche hit him. There was about 25 tents at camp three. It took them all out. He said it swept him about 300 meters down the mountain.


SAMBOLIN: I was reading that some of the climbers have been complaining about the conditions in Nepal. They say it's getting more dangerous. What can you tell us about that?

UDAS: That's correct. I was talking to some of the climbers a bit earlier, climbers who go out to these peaks regularly, at least once or twice a year. They are saying that the changes -- the conditioning are definitely changing in Nepal.

They have seen a lot more -- it's a lot warmer, as they said, up in the mountains. They've seen a lot more snow melting. A lot more avalanches as well because of the weaker snow.

They basically say global warming is one of the main factors. Of course, we have no way of actually determining that.

But this is what most of these climbers have been saying. And the avalanches are not just more freak went but a lot bigger as well.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Sumnima Udas, live for us, thank you very much for those details.

We certainly hope they find those climbers and hopefully some survivors.

BERMAN: So scary and so dangerous.

All right. Ten minutes after the hour right now. Lots of sweeps overnight at the prime time Emmy awards.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the Emmy goes to "Homeland."



BERMAN: "Homeland" series won for best TV drama, ending the four-year rein of "Mad Men." "Homeland's" two lead actress Claire Danes and Damian Lewis were also winners.

"Modern Family" was the top comedy series for third year in a row. Two of the show's casts, Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen, won supporting actor and actress. And speaking of streaks, Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" won best variety show for a tenth straight year.

SAMBOLIN: Sunday night football. An emotional win for the Baltimore Ravens over the New England Patriots. Ravens receiver Torrey Smith catching two touchdown passes in one night after his younger brother was killed in a motorcycle accident, helping the Ravens win 31-30 and a last-second 27-yard field goal for Justin Tucker.

BERMAN: It was a nice night for Torrey Smith.

It was a rough Sunday for the NFL's replacement referees. They admit to making two mistakes in Minnesota's victory over San Francisco. They incorrectly granted the 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh two video challenges in the fourth quarter. He was out of challenges. The Detroit/Tennessee and Cincinnati/Washington games, the refs marched off too much yardage on critical penalty calls.


BERMAN: So, you know, who would thought we'd actually miss real referees?

SAMBOLIN: All right. And a controversial move by schools in New York City. They are giving the morning after pill and other contraceptives to high school girls without telling their parents, kind of sort of. We have more on that coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Fifty minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Glad you're with us.

Some controversy in New York after some New York high schools are offering students morning after pills and other birth control drugs, and when they take them, their parents may have no idea.

It's all part of a pilot program to stop teen pregnancies. Alina Cho is here to explain.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Did your jaw drop when you read this?

SAMBOLIN: Oh, gosh, I read it, re-read it and was shocked.

CHO: I know. I think a lot of people were -- it's certainly getting a lot of attention in New York and now, nationwide.

Good morning. Good morning, everybody.

The pilot program which could be the first of its kind in the nation has been quietly going on since January of last year. And so far, according to several local reports, including the "New York Times," more than 1,100 students in 14 high schools have been given the morning after pill that's known as Plan B and other contraceptives.

Now, the city Department of Health says the schools and the program were picked because the students there were known to have a higher risk of getting pregnant and lower access to health care. One of the schools involve actually had to drop out. Listen to this, because students there were overloading the medical office.

The most surprising part of all of this, as you just heard this, that many parents may be clueless about it. The students do not need permission from their parents to get the pill. The default is that they are allowed to get the pills unless the parents opt out of the program by signing a letter.

The question is, are these parents getting the letter? Now the letter was both mailed and sent home with students. That's what we're told. But the Department of Health says no more than 2 percent of parents at each school sent them back.

Now, listen to this statistic -- under federal law, kids under 18 need a prescription for Plan B. We'll get to those in a minute. Health Department doctors have been writing those.

Of course, the program, which, by the way, is called CATCH, which stands for connecting adolescence to comprehensive health, does have some critics. Some saying it might encourage promiscuity, since students can just walk into the nurse's office the very next day and get a morning after pill. Others are outraged that parents have been left out of the decision-making process.

According to the CDC and the New York City Health Department, nearly half, 46 percent of New York City teens have had sexual intercourse. Those are just officially what the stats are -- 7,000 city girls get pregnant by age 17, 9 out of 10 of those pregnancies are unplanned, and 7 out of 10 drop out.

So you can see why the city wants to hand out these pills. There is still no proof that this program has made a difference. As one staffer at a school said, "You can't hand out a Tylenol without a prescription. How is it possible that we're able to do this?"

BERMAN: And the key here, is the school says there's a letter that goes home and lets parents opt out. If they don't opt out, the kids can get these pills no matter what, correct?

CHO: That's absolutely right. As I mentioned, the letter was sent two ways, both sent home with the students and also mailed home to the parents.

But you know how kids are. You were a teen yesterday or just a few days ago, right? You remember, if you're a kid and you don't want your parents to see this letter, you're going to find a way to not get it in their hands.

SAMBOLIN: You don't bring it home and you intercept the mail.

CHO: That's right. When you look at the statistics, the city says between 1 percent and 2 percent of those parents signed the letter and opted out. You would think, perhaps, the percentage would be higher if more parents got that letter. Maybe not but --

BERMAN: Do we have a sense of public opinion in the school districts effected on this?

CHO: We don't yet. This story is just coming out. But, clearly, there's outrage about it. Parents are saying, I don't want my kids getting this pill without my knowledge.

So, you can bet there will be a lot of public discussion about this, we'll see how long this pilot program lasts.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely. I was shocked that it was legal, you know? I would want to know what the side effects are. I would want to be totally involved in a decision like that.

CHO: Of course you do.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Alina. We appreciate it.

CHO: You bet.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Nineteen minutes past the hour.

So, let's get you up to date. Here's Christine Romans with this morning's top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And good morning you, two. Mitt Romney is ready to restart his campaign again. He is bowing to get more aggressive and plans to spend a lot more time on the trail and less time fund-raising in the final six weeks of the race. He also claims the President is misleading voters about his positions and insists that he will -- that will stop when the debates begin.

Meanwhile, the President is responding to Romney's claims that he is weak with our enemies and allies alike. He says if Governor Romney is suggesting we start another war, he should say so.

Researchers say it's a sign of tough economic times. The number of suicides in the U.S. is greater than the number of deaths caused by car accidents. A study in "The American Journal of Public Health" shows a 25 percent decrease in the number of fatal car crashes, while suicides are up 15 percent. In 2009, roughly 37,000 Americans took their own lives, while close to 34,000 were killed in car accidents.

Firefighters were battling a wild brush fire east of San Diego. It ignited Sunday afternoon. The cause is unknown. The fires burned 1,000 acres. Dozens of homes are threatened, so some mandatory evacuations have been ordered. There are no reports of injuries, thank goodness, at this point -- Zoraida and John.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you, Christine.

It is 20 minutes past the hour. And it's time for your local reads. It's your local news that is actually making national headlines.

We begin with a story in the "L.A. Times", allegations of sexual hazing at La Puente High School in San Gabriel Valley. The L.A. County sheriff's office is investigating after a soccer player complained to authorities. Law enforcement sources say the hazing may have gone on for years and allegedly involved 14-year-old and 16-year- old boys. Detectives say they have no information about faculty or coach involvement.

BERMAN: Disturbing.

All right. From South Carolina, the state down there and some family politics. Governor Nikki Haley's daughter was on the state payroll this summer. It turns out that Rena Haley may have been the only 14- year-old to hold a state job this year. According to the South Carolina Budget and Control Board, no other 14-year-olds have been employed by the state in the past two years, Haley's daughter worked part-time in the state house gift shop, which critics point out is run by the parks department who answers directly to the governor.

Some people say, look, this is just a 14-year-old getting a job. What's the big deal? Other people say this is nepotism and that the governor is a little tone deaf on this issue.

So controversy down in the Palmetto State.

SAMBOLIN: Lots of controversy, 14-year-old.

BERMAN: Coming up, production shut down at an iPhone parts plant in China after a riot -- a riot -- among the workers.


BERMAN: We are minding your business this morning.

U.S. stock futures all down right now after some disappointing economic reports out of Germany and China this morning.

SAMBOLIN: Christine, what are the big events to watch for this week?

ROMANS: We'll get another GDP report in the U.S. We're going to be looking to see what economic data around the world is saying about the underlying health of these economies. That's one reason why futures are down. An a lot of folks are talking about it will be hard to hold on to almost five-year highs for stocks until we get some more signals about what's happening in the health of the U.S. economy.

We also have fiscal cliff that's looming. And you've heard me talk about this so much. We have 99 days now until the fiscal cliff. Your Congress went home earlier in an election year than I can remember, certainly, with a to-do list full and a list of accomplishments that's very, very short.

The fiscal cliff will be the largest tax increase to you in history. It will be the biggest cuts to service you use in history. It is still on the books going to happening in the beginning of January because you're Congress didn't do anything about it.

Science and innovation is very important here. And a lot of people in the science community are very concerned about the hit to research and development the fiscal cliff will hit. It will be the equivalent of 200,000 job cuts in research and development. The cost to GDP over some 10 years could be anywhere from $200 billion to $800 billion.

And what does that mean? At the very low end of estimates, this is according to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the very low end, the hit from the fiscal cliff to research and innovation, the equivalent of new vehicle purchases over six months, two years of airline travel, six years of professional sporting events, and all the money that -- that's how big the hit to that industry would be to give it a bit of context there.

So, incredible to watch there, the fiscal cliff. You should be mad at your Congress people.

Now, the third thing I want to tell you about, the people who make your iPhone your, you know, gadgets that you love, Foxconn is a company in China that supplies a lot of the labor to Apple. There's a big plant there that's been shut down because of a riot that sent 40 people to the hospital, some 2,000 different people involved in the riot overnight in central China at this plant. Production is halted temporarily. It will resume tomorrow, the company says.

The company described this as a personal dispute between federal employees that escalated to thousands. This is a picture from someone in town. Someone inside the plant told us that there are now groups of 10 police that are roaming the facility, trying to make sure that everything is calm.

Just a reminder as you love your gadgets, they are made far, far away by mostly young people who are living in dormitories, thousands and thousands of people who spend hours on end doing the precise work of putting your gadgets together.

BERMAN: For not much money.

ROMANS: For not much money. For not much money. So, a lot of the human rights folks really watch what happens in these plans and take notice when something like this happens.

BERMAN: Thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

Twenty-eight minutes past the hour.

Will Hillary Clinton run for president in 2016? That's a loaded question. Her husband, the former president, was asked that very question. You're going to see what he says, coming up.

BERMAN: It's a really interesting answer.


BERMAN: Foreign policy front and center this week with President Obama set to address the U.N. General Assembly.

SAMBOLIN: The gloves are off. Mitt Romney planning to get more aggressive as the campaign enters the final six weeks.

And key issues. The candidates on gun control. CNN in depth with both the President and Mitt Romney, their positions on this thorny issue.

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Happy to have you with us this morning. Thirty-two minutes past the hour.

The world comes to New York City this week for the United Nations General Assembly. The 67th annual session gets underway tomorrow. That's when President Obama will speak.

BERMAN: Growing anti-western sentiment in the Muslim world and the nuclear showdown with Iran are set to be prime topics when 116 heads of state will attend, including Iran's president. So, will CNN foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labotte, who is in the studio with us this morning. This is a fantastic treat.


BERMAN: The General Assembly comes as these protests are really, you know, continuing in the Middle East right now. How much of an issue is this likely to be?

ELISE LABOTTE, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, I think you have what's going on with the General Assembly and then you have what the United States Secretary Clinton in particular is going to be doing on the world stage on the sidelines, and this is going to be very important, John.

She's going to be meeting with the President of Libya today to talk about how they would protect U.S. diplomats in Tripoli in the wake of that consulate attack. She's going to be meeting with the Presidents of Yemen, Tunisia. Nobody is going to be meeting with President Morsi. You see what happened over the last week.

The United States not very happy about how he was treating the United States in the wake of those protests, but certainly, the side issues of how the U.S. is going to engage with the Middle East going forward is going to be one of the biggest issues as well Iran.

BERMAN: So Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she will be meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, but President Obama will not. Yet, he's in town today appearing on "The View."

LABOTTE: That's right. Well, what Jay Carney had said, his press secretary, is that, you know, in keeping with the presidential campaigns, the President won't be meeting with any world leaders, leaving all that to Secretary Clinton. But the truth is in the past presidents running for re-election have met.

In 2004, President Bush met with Pakistani President Zardari and others, and Bill Clinton, when he was running for re-election, made a lot of meetings. I think what's happening right now is you've seen a lot of criticism from Prime Minister Netanyahu of President Obama for not doing what he said setting these red lines on Iran, how far would Iran go before the U.S. would get involved.

President Obama not really inclined to give Prime Minister Netanyahu a meeting. And so, he's not meeting anybody. And so, Secretary Clinton be doing the heavy lifting.

SAMBOLIN: Well, that issue of Iran is definitely going to come up. How do you think that will fair?

LABOTTE: Well, I think that's going to be a real issue between the U.S. and Israel and I think everybody is waiting to see what will happen if -- the big question right now is Israel going to attack Iran. You heard prime -- President Ahmadinejad of Iran speaking to CNNs Piers Morgan saying that this is not really going to welfare (ph) Israel. Let's take a listen.


MORGAN: If Israel does launch a strike against your country, what will your response be?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): The response of Iran is quite clear. I don't even need to explain that. Any question and any nation has the right and will, indeed, defend herself. But my question is this, why should the world be managed in such a way that an individual can allow himself to threaten a rich and deeply rooted historical, ancient country such as Iran? A great country such as Iran based on an excuse of his own fabrication?


LABOTTE: Now, of course, nobody wants a nuclear Iran, but a lot of people are asking that question. Why can Israel be looking to possibly make an attack against Iran which is really going to throw the whole world, oil markets, leave a lot of western countries vulnerable, the United States, for instance. Obviously, everyone is thinking about Israel's security, but also thinking about their own.

BERMAN: All right. Elise Labbote, thank you so much for coming in. Seeing you in person, it's a great --

LABOTTE: Great to see you, guys.

BERMAN: Nice to see you.

All right. Thirty-six minutes after the hour right now. You can see the full interview with the Iranian president on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT", 9:00 Eastern Time right here on CNN.

The two retired Navy SEALs who died in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi were killed after rushing to help their colleagues. That's what sources familiar with the incident are now saying. Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were there as part of a larger security force, not as a security detail for U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Stevens, computer expert, Sean Smith, and Doherty and Woods died in the attack.

Ads that critics call hateful to Muslims are going up in New York subways today. This is what the ads read, quote, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel, defeat jihad." City transit officials initially rejected that ad, but last month, a judge ruled that it was protected speech.

BERMAN: With just over six weeks to go now, just six weeks before America votes, Mitt Romney sounds a little bit like he's ready to rumble. The GOP nominee says he will be getting more aggressive in the next six weeks of the race, and he's blaming the White House for his own campaign problems. He claims the President has been putting words in his mouth and he plans on to put a stop to it.


ROMNEY: Focused its advertising in many cases on very inaccurate portrayals of my positions. They've been very aggressive in their attacks, both on a personal basis and a policy basis.


BERMAN: Meanwhile, the President is firing back at Romney's claim that he is weak with our allies and our enemies.


OBAMA: I said I'd end the war in Iraq. I did. I said that we'd go after al Qaeda. They've been decimated in the Fatah. That we'd go after Bin Laden, he's gone. If Governor Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so.


BERMAN: The President will be in New York today for the United Nations General Assembly.

SAMBOLIN: So, will she or won't she? Big question. If secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, plans to run for president in 2016, she's playing it really close to the vest. And if you think her husband might have a clue, think again.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She's tired. She's really worked hard. I think she's done a fabulous job. I'm very proud of her. But she wants to take some time off, kind of regroup, write a book. I have no earthly idea what she'll decide to do.


SAMBOLIN: No earthly idea. Hillary Clinton will be speaking this morning in New York at her husband's eighth annual Clinton Global Initiative.

BERMAN: You know, before he said she plans to retire, so that's a little bit of a kind of subtle shift.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, moving in that -- and that's what she says. You know, she's going to take the time off. Well-deserved time off.

BERMAN: Thirty minutes -- 39 minutes after the hour right now. And Houston police are defending the fatal shooting this weekend of a double amputee confined to a wheelchair. They say the man cornered one officer with his chair and threatened him with an object that turned out to be a pen. When he refused to drop the object, a second officer opened fire.

And when it comes to gun control, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, they aren't so far apart in terms of action on the issue. CNN goes in depth coming up.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Gun control has become a very hot topic in the wake of the recent massacres in Colorado and Wisconsin. According to Reuters, there are 88.8 firearms for every 100 people in America. That is, by far, the highest gun ownership rate in the world. All this week, CNN is going in depth on the issues that will impact this race for the White House. And this morning, Deb Feyerick, has a look at the candidates' positions on gun control.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When it comes to gun control, those on the extremes of the debate in one of two ways. On one side, gun control is a threat to all law-abiding gun owners and the right to protect themselves, but on the other side, gun control is the only way to stem gun violence and potentially prevent tragedies like the summer's Colorado movie theater massacre and the Wisconsin temple shooting.

So, where do the candidates stand? Well, when it comes to the Second Amendment, both President Obama and challenger, Mitt Romney say, yes, they support it.


OBAMA: I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe in peoples' lawful right to bear arms.

ROMNEY: I will protect the Second Amendment rights of the American people.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Both sides stick to language in the constitution, with President Obama attempting to pacify critics from the National Rifle Association.

OBAMA: I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won't take your handgun away.

FEYERICK: The fact he hasn't even tried doesn't placate the NRA with continued unsubstantiated warnings that began back in 2008.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA PRESIDENT: All that first-term lip service to gun owners is just part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment during his second term.

FEYERICK: Romney has been actively cultivating the NRA, speaking at this year's convention. It's a switch for the once tough on guns governor consider the assault weapons ban. President Obama is a yes, but with an asterisk. Mr. Romney moves from a yes to a no. Here's why.

In 2004, Governor Romney signed a permanent assault weapons ban in Massachusetts. Now, Candidate Romney says he opposes any new laws.

ROMNEY: We need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only served a burden lawfyl gun owners.

FEYERICK: After aurora, Mr. Obama stressed the need for a ban assault weapons. So, that's yes.

OBAMA: A lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals. (APPLAUSE)

FEYERICK: The reason Obama's yes has an asterisk is that in four years, no new gun control laws have been enacted. In fact, Under Obama's watch, concealed weapons are now allowed on Amtrak trains and in national parks.

DAN GROSS, PRESIDENT, BRADY CAMPAIGN: He has continued to pay lip service to those things, but he hasn't shown real leadership in pursuing those changes.

FEYERICK: Yes, background checks have gotten more thorough under Obama for people legally buying guns in gun shops, but the big problem remains gun shows and the internet, specifically unlicensed dealers selling firearms to buyers with no background check needed.

President Obama has supported closing the gun show loophole in the past, but the White House says his focus now is on existing laws. Governor Romney says no to any further regulation of gun shows.

ROMNEY: There's no particular change in law that's going to keep people who are intent on doing harm from doing harm.

OBAMA: The majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons.

FEYERICK: So while President Obama says he wants tougher gun laws, little was done during his first term. Republican challenger Romney has done more in the past, but now says it's enough. Both candidates apparently not so different now when it comes to gun control.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


SAMBOLIN: All right. Thanks to Debra. 5:46. Robot Tuna. Seriously? It is the latest tool in our homeland security arsenal. How it could be used to help keep us all safe? That's coming up.




SAMBOLIN: Forty -- actually, it's 50 minutes past the hour to be exact. Here's Christine Romans with this morning's top stories. Good morning.

ROMANS: Zoraida is counting the minutes this morning.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ROMANS (voice-over): Mitt Romney is ready for another campaign reboot. The GOP nominee is promising to be more aggressive in the final six weeks of the race. He also plans to spend less time fundraising and more time campaigning in key battleground states. And he claims the President has hurt him in the polls by misleading voters about his positions.

Meanwhile, the President is responding to Romney's claims that he's weak on foreign policy. He says if Governor Romney suggesting we start another war, he should say so.

Sadness today at the National Zoo in Washington after a newborn giant panda cub died yesterday. The cause of death isn't known at this point. It was only last week, of course, that the cub's birth was joyously announced. The giant panda exhibit is closed temporarily to make sure that the mother is okay.

BERMAN (voice-over): That's really sad.

ROMANS: It really is.

The four-year Emmy run of "Mad Men" came to an end last night. "Homeland" won Best Drama Series at the prime time Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. It stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. Both won lead acting honors. "Modern Family" remains the king of comedy. The ABC show was named Best Comedy Series for a third straight year.

Homeland security may get fishy in the future. Various tech sites reporting the agency is funding the development of what's being called "robotic tuna".


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Look at them.

ROMANS: The unmanned underwater vehicles, which are shaped like a tuna, would patrol and defend ports and inspect ships.


BERMAN (on-camera): I feel totally safe now with robot tuna on patrol.

ROMANS: It will confuse dolphins everywhere.

BERMAN: Well, thank goodness for robot tuna.


BERMAN: All right. Fifty-one minutes after the hour right now. We want to get a check on today's weather? Here is meteorologist, Rob Marciano, hopefully, with some sanity after robot tuna.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, now they can't call it the chicken of the sea anymore, because, you know, it's a little tough for M.O. Good morning, John. Hey, guys. Exactly. Chilly weather across much of the eastern half of the country. Gorgeous weekend, really, for a lot of folks, but you're paying for it in the form of some freeze advisories across parts of Midwest and the Western Great Lakes.

As a matter of fact, cold enough over those warm great lake waters to get some lake effect rain streamers coming in to parts of Western New York. It shouldn't amount to a whole lot, but it's interesting, nonetheless. So, eastern half of the country looks fantastic. Fire threat across parts of North Texas and Oklahoma, and it continues to be pretty toasty down across parts of SoCal.

They were sweating it out on the red carpet yesterday for sure. Check out some of these high temperatures. Pasadena saw 100-degree temp there; Van Nuys is 99 and Burbank 98 degrees. It will be slightly cooler there today but still kind of warm for this time of year. Eighty-four degrees expected in L.A., 70 in Chicago looks pretty good, 67 after a chilly start in New York City and 77 in Atlanta.

Fall arrived just on time on Saturday, and it sure feels like it this morning for a lot of folks. Guys, back up to you.

BERMAN: All right. Thank you so much, Rob.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): At least it's official now.


SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty-two minutes past the hour. A packed hour ahead on EARLY START. U.N. week kicking off in New York City. Iran president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in town and talking to CNN about whether a war with Israel is coming soon. Next hour, we'll talk to international security analyst, Jim Walsh, who will be meeting with Iran's president.

Also, later on "STARTING POINT," America Ferrera, star of "Ugly Betty," and Alexis Bledel, you know her from "Mad Men" and "Gilmore Girls," their efforts to lift girls out of extreme poverty.

SAMBOLIN: That's really cool.

But first, the dance craze that is sweeping the world. Gangnam Style making more internet history. Look at this.

Plus, John Berman is going to show off his dance moves just for you. That's coming up next. Can you do it?


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Fifty-seven minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin along with Mr. John Berman, taking a look at what is trending on the web this morning.

BERMAN: And what is trending, Green Day announcing their front man, Billie Joe Armstrong, he is in rehab after a cursing guitar-smashing middle-finger waving Justin Bieber hating meltdown in Las Vegas. The clip from the I Heart Radio Music Festival on Friday, it went viral and started when Billy Joe saw that the band was being told they had only a minute left. He stopped mid-tune and he went off. Take a look at this.


BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG, GREEN DAY: Look at that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) time right there. One minute. I'm not (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Justin Bieber you mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Let me show you what one (EXPLETIVE DELETED) minute means.


BERMAN: That didn't go well.

SAMBOLIN: Maybe rehab is in order for him.

All right. Get on your horse. The Korean pop Gangnam style is officially the most liked video in the history of YouTube.




SAMBOLIN: The video has been viewed close to 260 million times, folks, and has almost 2.6 million likes and it has inspired flash mobs around the world. It's also number one on iTunes. It has been shared on the web by celebrities like Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Tom Cruise, and it's covered by the likes of Maroon 5. Can you believe this?

Even the U.S. Naval Academy made a parody video. The name of the song refers to the lavish Gangnam district, one of the most upscale areas of Seoul, Korea. The song satirizes the Gangnam man, horsey dance move and all. We were waiting for Mr. Berman to actually demonstrate this morning.

BERMAN: No. It just makes me feel bad about the state of humanity, I have to say.


BERMAN: It makes me feel really sorry for all of us.

SAMBOLIN: We need to get lost in the moment, right? So that's what folks are doing.

All right. "Saturday Night Live" getting after both -- or going after both presidential candidates. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney on Friday released his 2011 tax returns which showed he paid a 14 percent tax rate, so just a little less than what restaurants add on for parties of six or more. (LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 14 percent tax rate Romney pay is less than the 20 percent paid by the average American. How did he pay such a low rate? He claimed 47 percent of Americans as dependents.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While addressing a town hall meeting on Thursday, President Obama said that you can't change Washington from the inside, you can only change it from the outside. A rare gaffe from the President brings us our segment, "What are you doing?" I'm not saying what you said isn't true. I'm saying why are you saying anything during this Romney tailspin?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, let's review. On Monday, a secret tape is released where Romney insults half of the country, and then that same day, he stands by those remarks. On Wednesday, he does a town hall for Hispanics and brownface. And Friday, Paul Ryan gets booed by the AARP. And then, instead of on just going that, you go, hey everybody, remember my campaign slogan? Yes, I can do that.