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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Ahmadinejad Takes The World Stage; Obama Makes Case For Free Speech; Morsi To Debut At U.N. General Assembly; Mixing Pigskins With Politics; Brothers Say Cops Beat Them Down; Chelsea Clinton Speaks About Her Career; Frat Suspended Over Alcohol Enemas; Housing Rebound; Ahmadinejad Addresses U.N. Today

Aired September 26, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Political football. The candidates try to score points amid fan outrage over the NFL's replacement refs.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And the last word. Iran's president takes the podium for his final U.N. address today. How far will he go this time?

CHO: Caught on camera. Take a look at this. Police officers in Washington State under investigation now after two men say they were roughed up for no good reason.

And good morning, everybody. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alina Cho. It's 6:00 in the East.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I'm Zoraida Sambolin. John will be on in a few hours. He's hosting "STARTING POINT" today.

So let's get started here. First, the President of Iran predicting the elimination of Israel in a new world order free of American bullying, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hasn't even taken the stage yet.

CHO: That's right. He will do so at 11:00 a.m. Eastern today. Iran's outgoing leader will be addressing the U.N. General Assembly later today. He's been warned to tone down the rhetoric. But, of course, no one expects that to happen. Not with the entire world watching, and not after this warning yesterday from President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Make no mistake, nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of gulf nations and the stability of the global economy. And that's why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: CNN foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labott is with us this morning. What can we expect from Ahmadinejad, more of the same?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: I think more of the same. I mean, in previous years you've seen President Ahmadinejad say such fiery things, such outrageous things that many delegations have walked out.

I think right now there's so much tension between Iran and Israel over a possible military strike against Iran's nuclear program, I think he's going to double down, up the ante, and say something pretty fiery today.

SAMBOLIN: And President Obama gave a stern defense of freedom of speech. Share some of that with us.

LABOTT: Well, he was speaking in the wake of this -- these protests throughout the Arab world, as a result of this video decrying the Prophet Mohammed and all these attacks on the U.S. embassies as a result.

What he was saying is as you look at the Arab spring, he's saying that democracy is akin to free speech and that if you're looking to have a democracy, you have to think that everybody has to be able to speak their minds. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech, the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: So he's also saying that the United States obviously didn't approve of this video. But he's saying, you really have to -- everyone has to speak out against all kinds of intolerance.

Because now all of these leaders are saying there should be laws against -- international law, for instance, against blasphemy and hateful speech against Islam.

Let's take a listen to what Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in the hall yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI, AFGHANISTAN: Such acts can never be justified as freedom of speech or expression. Equally, they cannot give reason for the genuine process to be used to incite violence and terrible losses of innocent lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: So President Obama is saying is, if you're going to say that hateful speech against Islam is horrible then you need to speak out if there are other acts of intolerance against Christians.

For instance, in Egypt if a church is burned or when people deny the holocaust. If you want us to speak out against Islam, then everyone has to speak out against all this religious intolerance.

CHO: We're going to talk about another speech we're watching very closely that will happen later today in addition to Ahmadinejad. Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi will also be speaking.

Apparently had a tense call with President Obama, right, President Obama sort of refusing to call Egypt an ally, there was a little bit of a flap over what. What are we expecting from Morsi today.

LABOTT: Well, after those protests against the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, President Morsi was kind of slow to react and President Obama gave him a real tough -- tough what-have-you on the phone call.

And so what President Obama said is, look, Egypt cannot be guaranteed U.S. support. So I think when President Morsi comes he's going to be saying, you know, this is a new Egypt.

And the United States cannot guarantee that Egypt will follow its lead like former President Hosni Mubarak did. I'm going to have my relations with the United States based on policies towards Egypt, towards Israelis in the Palestinians.

I think he's going to call very strongly for a Palestinian state. This is a man of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was very close to the Palestinians. And I think he's going to try and assert himself and Egypt as still a regional player but with new rules.

SAMBOLIN: All right, I want to talk a little bit about some of the meetings that President Obama did take. Because yesterday we were talking about the fact that he went to "The View." He didn't take the bilateral meetings and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was doing that, but he did take some meetings.

LABOTT: He took a few. First of all, we were talking yesterday, and I think that at this critical time with everything going on, these protests across the world, it was really interesting that he did have a lot of leader meetings.

He did meet with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, which is customary for the U.S. president. He had a couple of courtesy calls with the head of the U.N. General.

He also met with the President of Yemen and the reason that's interesting is because Yemen was one of the countries that was the most forceful in responding to these -- to these protests.

And then also, I think, he could have met with President -- if you look at these protests in Pakistan, very tough. Let's listen to what President Zardari said about how the U.S. is treating Pakistan as an ally in the war on terrorists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT ASIF ALI ZARDARI, PAKISTAN: More people have suffered more in the epic struggle against terrorism than Pakistan. Drone strikes and civilian casualties on our territory and to the complexity -- add to the complexity of our battle for hearts and minds through this epic struggle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: So, you know, the United Nations General Assembly has made up these magic moments, boring speeches. I think this was one of the things that really resonated in the hall among all of the people and they have lost a lot of people.

SAMBOLIN: It's been horrible. All right, Elise Labott, thank you very much for sharing this morning. We appreciate it.

It's 6 minutes past the hour. In the next half hour on EARLY START, we'll be joined by former White House Appointee Margaret Hoover, Richard Socarides is back as well, a former special adviser in the Clinton White House. They'll be chatting each other up, and us.

CHO: If you missed it last hour, settle in. Didn't take long for the politicians to turn the NFL's replacement refs debacle into a political football.

Check out Paul Ryan campaigning in Ohio yesterday. Understandably pretty upset about the backup officials robbing his hometown Packers of a victory on Monday. This is what it sounds like when politics and pigskins mix. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You guys watch that Packer game last night? I mean, give me a break. It is time to get the real refs and you know what? It reminds me of President Obama and the economy. If you can't get it right, it's time to get out.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Paul Ryan called those refs out today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you glad that he did that?

ROMNEY: That's just fine. Paul was very angry that the Green Bay Packers, he believes, won, and the referees took it away from them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: I think a lot of Packers fans were upset about that. The Democrats also throwing a flag at the replacement refs. Listen to former President Bill Clinton breaking down Monday night's controversial play and sounding a lot like an NFL analyst. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The football game, no, I did not think it was a touchdown. I thought the pass was intercepted. I thought that the defender hit the ground before there was joint possession. And yes it means that we need to get the strike over and get more experienced people in there.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHO: Obviously very serious about that story. The sitting president had something to say, too, watch your screen, Barack Obama tweeting, quote, "NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs' lockout is settled soon." And he calls the call terrible.

SAMBOLIN: Join the group of people across the country saying that. All right, 8 minutes past the hour.

Police in suburban Seattle now say they are investigating. Look at this, folks. This incident, it was caught on dash cam. Those are two brothers down on the ground, getting punched by several officers.

They say the cops beat them for no reason and they filed a complaint. The brothers told affiliate KIRO, jail officials initially turned the officers away instructing them to take the brothers to the hospital, instead, because of their injuries.

They say the officers washed off their faces, drove them around for hours, to reduce the swelling, then took them back to jail, where they were finally booked. Tukwila Police say they won't comment until their investigation is complete.

CHO: Congressman Todd Akin is not dropping out of the Missouri Senate race despite intense pressure to do so in the wake of his controversial comments about quote/unquote "legitimate rape." Yesterday was the final day for the Republican to take his name off the November ballot. He declined then launched a campaign tour bus instead.

SAMBOLIN: Chelsea Clinton, the former first daughter, normally does not speak publicly. But now she is talking about her work with her father at the Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton Foundation. She says that she is inspired by the work of her parents, and always understood that service is a defining mission of their lives. Charlie Rose asked Clinton about her primary goals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHELSEA CLINTON, DAUGHTER OF FORMER PRESIDENT CLINTON: To lead a purposeful, meaningful life. I mean, I think that's one of the things that unifies us here at CGI. Each of us is trying to do the most with the resources we're given.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: She's an overachiever, a multi-tasker, Chelsea Clinton also teaches at a New York University and is studying at Oxford University.

CHO: She also told Charlie Rose that she'd love to give all of this great advice to her kids, if she had any, much to the chagrin of her parents that there are no grandchildren in that household.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

CHO: All right, college kids in search of a buzz taking it to the extreme. Coming up, the dangerous stunt being blamed for sending a student to the hospital and landing a fraternity in big trouble. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It's 13 minutes past the hour.

A University of Tennessee Knoxville fraternity is suspended over alcohol enemas. Twelve students cited for underage drinking, another for disorderly conduct, one student rushed to the E.R. over the weekend with alcohol poisoning.

The hospital says his blood alcohol level was at five times the legal limit. A student who was sent to the E.R. is now out of the hospital, reportedly also back in class.

National correspondent David Mattingly is in Knoxville, Tennessee. And David, what is the very latest here?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a source close to the investigation familiar with what the police are finding confirms to us that the police here, when they went in to the fraternity house behind me, doing their investigation.

They interviewed and got an interview from one student who told them about this unusual and dangerous practice, ingesting alcohol that was going on in the house. They also say, according to this source, that they found paraphernalia, the tubing, the alcohol, the bags that would be need for this sort of practice to be going on.

So that is what we're learning this morning. But we're finding out that there's still some conflict, the parents of this 20-year-old who showed up at the hospital pushing back very hard, saying they're conducting their own investigation into this. In fact, the mother and the father both talked to CNN, saying that, "We're still getting all the records and facts. I don't think that happened. He said it didn't happen." We're talking about his son. "My concern is the defamation of character that is occurring to my son."

The parents very concerned about statements being made by the Knoxville Police Department early on in this investigation. That department saying that when they showed up at this house behind me, that they discovered several people, including three males, who were passed out. And it was that department also releasing statements publicly, going into graphic detail about the kind of dangerous practice that they believe was going on by individual here at the university.

They're still trying to sort all of this out, expect to hear more today from the family, and from the university, as well, about where this investigation is going.

SAMBOLIN: What has the university said so far, though?

MATTINGLY: Well, so far they are -- what happened was, the Knoxville Police Department took the lead on this when the students showed up at the hospital. When they determined that the alleged incident took place here on campus, they turned it over to the university police, so they're handling the investigation.

In the meantime, the university has put the fraternity here on a 30- day suspension. They're not allowed to do anything except eat, sleep and go to class for the students that are living there in that house right now. That's all they're allowed to do in the interim, and they'll determine what needs to happen from here, depending on what that investigation turns up.

SAMBOLIN: I know that this is really not a topic that's really comfortable to talk about, right? But it's really important because this kid is actually lucky to be alive.

MATTINGLY: Ad believe me, a lot of people are talking about it on this campus. I talked to over a dozen students, and former students, both on and off the campus last night. Most of them say they had never heard of this practice before. And those who say that they had heard of it said they had never known of anyone who ever tried it or would have even thought of trying it.

So now with all the headlines that have been coming out in this case, you can bet that people are talking about it. Every single person I've talked to thinks that this is absolutely crazy idea.

SAMBOLIN: And what about the fraternity? Have they released a statement at all?

MATTINGLY: The national fraternity has released a statement. They're very concerned about this, saying it's conflicting with the values that they have at this fraternity, and at they are supporting the investigation that's going into this.

But they, along with everybody else, is just waiting now to find out exactly what the university police have come up with in their investigation, and what exactly happened to that student, and what was going on in the house that night.

SAMBOLIN: Very disturbing details. David Mattingly live for us, thank you very much.

Alina, back to you.

CHO: All right, Zoraida.

Storm chasers saying at least one tornado has touched down in rural southwestern Illinois. The roof of a farm house east of St. Louis was just ripped to shreds. A tractor was also overturned by high winds there. A number of funnel clouds were spotted in the area but they actually never touched ground. There were no reports of any injuries.

I want to get straight to Rob Marciano for a weather update.

Rob, good morning. Wow, those pictures are incredible. What are you watching this morning?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, similar complex, Alina, that's kind of stretching across the plains, into the Ohio River Valley, dumping a fair amount of rain. Most cases, they could use the rain.

Here's the estimation of what has fallen in this stretch, including St. Louis, and southern Illinois, into Indiana. Anywhere from two, in some cases, more than six inches. Where there's flash flooding right now, unfortunately, in the same counties where they saw the tornado touch down in Clinton and Washington counties there in southern Illinois. A little bit of insult to injury.

Here's where we think the threat is later on today. Recharge the atmosphere back through Oklahoma, southern parts of Kansas and southwestern Missouri, possibly seeing damaging winds, large hail, can't rule out an isolated tornado for sure.

The rainfall continues to fall across Nebraska. You'll take the rain there. Western Missouri, you'll take the rain as well. Here's where the flash flooding is happening east of St. Louis and these thunderstorms, most of which, at least right now, are not severe, stretch across the Allegheny and in through New York City area, where you see scattered showers. This front pushes off to the east, behind it, Canadian air. Southwestern U.S. continues to bake in unseasonably warm temps.

Alina, back up to you.

CHO: All right. Rob, we'll take it. Thank you very much. Good to see you, as always.

MARCIANO: You bet.

CHO: New school lunch program created by the Obama administration is offering some healthier choices and it's also leading to grumbling students, and growling stomachs. Watch.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

CHO: They'll have bacon later, right? They'll be healthier we hope as a result. That parody video created by students at Wallace County High School in Kansas.

Good for them. Great imaginations.

Coming up on STARTING POINT, we're going to speak with USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon who helped launch the government's school lunch program. We're going to ask him how he helps about the negative reaction it has received.

SAMBOLIN: Still a lot of controversy surrounding that new program. I'm going to be curious to watch that.

On the rebound, coming up, behind the new numbers, it should make a lot of homeowners very happy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Twenty-four minutes after the hour. Minding your business this morning, U.S. stock futures signal lower opening for stocks this morning and world markets are also down. What's going on?

SAMBOLIN: Stocks closed at two-week lows yesterday. The Dow fell more than 100 points.

Christine, this is tough to swallow after all the good news. Economic good news yesterday and bad news today.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Let me tell you why stocks closed 100 points down, first, because Caterpillar came out and said they think that global growth is going to be slower maybe into 2015, cutting its profit outlook citing weaker demand for construction and mining equipment. So that's the big thing there.

But you're going to be hearing more companies, as they begin to report quarterly results, as they begin to start to say what they're expecting in the next year, two, three years ahead, and that's what people on Wall Street are watching.

But what we are watching, what people on Main Street are watching, are their monthly bills. Right? What they're paying for a house. What they're paying for their mortgage. And whether their house is showing signs of a rebound.

And the housing market is. S&P Case-Shiller yesterday reported that home prices in 20 major cities are up for three months in a row. It's so rare to see home prices rise three months in a row.

They're now back to 2003 levels. Home prices, as you know, they're down 35 percent from the peak in 2006. And now, we're back to that summer of 2003 level.

Home sales are showing strength for the first time in a long time. I want to show you a regional map of the U.S. the Midwest, sales up 20 percent. The Northeast, sales up 15 percent. In the South, up 13 percent. The West, up more like 4 percent.

We're going to get more data on home sales at 10:00 a.m. Eastern this morning.

On my show this weekend, "YOUR BOTTOM LINE," I'm going to show you how it's becoming a seller's market in some strong markets like Washington, D.C.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAMERON SHOSH, REALTOR, CENTURY 21 REDWOOD REALTY: It's becoming more and more of a seller's market and less and less of a buyer's market. As of right now things are outstanding. Open houses are very busy. There's buyers getting a lot of Internet response to listings, getting a lot of calls on listings, and things are moving fast.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: That whole story on Saturday at 9:30 Eastern. Realtors for several years have been telling me how great things are, and I'm starting to believe them now.

(CROSSTALK)

CHO: People buying those homes because the interest rates are so low. I took your advice. I refinanced again for the second time in two years.

SAMBOLIN: At least you could. A lot of people were having trouble with it.

I have to say I closed recently and my house actually appraised for more than I bought it for. And I was shocked. Not a lot --

CHO: Wow, and you just bought it.

SAMBOLIN: So, I was very happy to hear that.

ROMANS: All real estate is local. Where there's jobs growth you're going to see the housing market start to recover a bit. One thing that is so interesting about all this to me is that in the West, not recovering as much.

And the other one thing --

SAMBOLIN: That you need to know about your money.

ROMANS: The one thing you notice about your money, the surprising jump in consumer confidence was another strong report we saw yesterday. Apparently, folks are feeling slightly better about the Johns market. There is this anticipation in the next year things are going to start to get better. And you're starting to see that in consumer confidence. So, housing, consumer confidence, stocks didn't follow yesterday because of the Cat warning.

The things we feel are showing a little bit of improvement.

SAMBOLIN: Always good news. Thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-seven minutes past the hour.

No way for a soldier to die. There is no way. Coming up the terrible mistake that led to an Army private's death.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Showdown underground. Activists deface a series of subway ads aimed at Muslims.

CHO: Defying the odds. A camera catches how close a truck driver comes to death.

SAMBOLIN: And back on TV. Suzanne Somers returns with a brand-new show. She will be here live talking to us.

Welcome back to EARLY START. We're really looking forward to that. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

CHO: Good morning, everybody. I'm Alina Cho. It's 32 minutes after the hour.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slated to talk later today at the United Nations. His speech follows one from President Obama, who just yesterday said the U.S. will do what it must to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. He said time is running out for diplomacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Let me be clear, America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy. We believe that there is still time and space to do so. That time is not unlimited.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: And back to the political back and forth and dueling speeches which saw Mitt Romney and President Obama on the same stage just hours apart.

CHO: That's right.

We want to talk more about this with Margaret Hoover and Richard Socarides.

Margaret is a CNN contributor, former White House appointee and Bush administration. Richard is a former special adviser in the Clinton White House, and a Democratic analyst.

So, in "The Wall Street Journal" and some other places, President Obama took a little bit of heat.

Some people also saying that his speech was a little too campaign-y, and that he didn't meet with world leaders.

You know, what do you say to that criticism?

RICHARD SOCARIDES, NEWYORKER.COM: "The Wall Street Journal" didn't like the speech very much but I think the editorial opinion this morning is very positive. It was a very clear, firm speech. The President defended American values, he defended freedom of speech.

I think it's one of the best speeches he's given on foreign policy over the entire course of his presidency. So, I was -- I thought it was terrific.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think his words were very strong, too. I would have liked to see those words much quicker after the September 11th attacks on our embassy. Have President Obama talking to Muslims, talking about freedom of speech. But the truth is a lot of talking from the White House doesn't necessarily mean that the policies or the leadership in the region is helping to shape events in the region. He's given very similar speeches the last three years as he addressed the U.N. General Assembly and we have not a lot to look forward to in terms of what he's actually been able to do in terms of what's happened in Iran, whether we've actually been able to keep the centrifuge from spinning. Whether the Iranian -- whether the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is going well.

CHO: Let's take a look at what the American voter thinks about this, because in our latest CNN/ORC poll on the question of who would better handle foreign policy, likely voters say Obama, 49 percent, Romney, 46 percent.

Now, Obama has slipped a bit in the polls. But he's still ahead of Romney on this. You know, but he is slipping.

SOCARIDES: Obama is doing very well in the polls. I mean, I think the President in this battleground states, look at this new Quinnipiac poll out this morning, President Obama ahead in Florida by nine points. In Ohio by 10 points.

I mean, these are numbers, you know, 41 days out I think we are today, these are numbers that if they are -- if they are true and if they're sustainable, I mean, this thing is, you know, going to be wrapped up.

HOOVER: To be fair, there hasn't been much opportunity to talk about foreign policy in the campaign until now. And now that Mitt Romney had a really wonderful opportunity yesterday to talk about what he would do -- and that may change the numbers. We'll have to see the numbers --

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: I'm going to have you both chime in on that right after we listen to what Romney said yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: A lot of Americans, including myself, are developed -- excuse me are troubled by developments in the Middle East. Syria has witnessed the killing of tens of thousands of people. The President of Egypt is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Our ambassador to Libya was assassinated in a terrorist attack. Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons capability.

We somehow feel that we're at the mercy of events, rather than shaping events.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: I was at the Clinton Global Initiative and it was a speech that "Politico" called one of the best prepared, best delivered of his campaign. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that both of you agree with that. SOCARIDES: Well, you know, I was there and I thought he delivered a great speech. I mean, he looked very put together and polished, and he seemed very relaxed.

But once again, you know, there was no -- there was no solutions in that speech. I mean, this is the whole problem with his candidacy, is that he doesn't -- he doesn't have a plan for anything.

CHO: Wait, wait, wait. Because, you know, politico said this is exactly the kind of fire in the belly speech that we should have seen from Romney from the beginning.

HOOVER: I actually couldn't agree with you more. I mean, what I would like to see, I hope that you see these stories about the Romney campaign rebooting, this is exactly, this goes to the criticism Romney's been getting. This is solutions-oriented, this is scratch thinking, this is well delivered. People say --

(CROSSTALK)

SOCARIDES: It was well-delivered. He told a couple of great jokes at the beginning and he looked relaxed. There was not a -- there was not a single proposal in there that's going to --

HOOVER: You know, you couldn't be more wrong. I have to say you couldn't be more wrong. As you know, the Prosperity Pacts --

SOCARIDES: The Prosperity Pact sounds like a campaign finance violation.

HOOVER: It's total reformulation of how we administer foreign aid and making it tied to economic development in foreign countries and --

SOCARIDES: Nobody thinks --

HOOVER: -- something fresh thinking, Richard --

SAMBOLIN: So the presidential debates are coming up.

SOCARIDES: Nobody thinks something called prosperity tax is going to solve these nuanced problems that Mr. Romney in that secret tape recording said he didn't think he could solve any of these problems.

I mean, the poll numbers are a result of that reporting. When people see him speaking candidly when he does not think he's being reported he says that he cannot solve these foreign policy crises and he says that he didn't care about almost 50 percent of the American public.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Richard Socarides, Margaret Hoover, thank you for joining us.

I assumed you're going to be on "STARTING POINT," and you can talk about the Quinnipiac poll since we did promise our viewers we would do that. Thank you for this lively dialogue. We appreciate it.

Thirty-seven minutes past the hour. With Israel and Iran moving closer to the brink of war and anti- American sentiment on the rise around the world, it seems all anyone wants to talk about is the NFL replacement refs. The President and Mitt Romney both weighing in on the blown call Monday night that cost the Green Bay Packers a win.

CNN political director Mark Preston live from Washington.

This is what everyone wants to talk about. The NFL's labor dispute with its referees is turning into quite the political football now -- Mark.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It is. You know, when it becomes -- you know it's become such a big issue and so many people are focusing on it when we are asking the likes of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama what they think should happen in the NFL. And of course that's exactly what happened yesterday.

We've also seen the likes of Paul Ryan, who brings it up out of nowhere and tries to tie it to the whole political campaign that we're seeing right now, Zoraida. You know, yesterday, Paul Ryan brought it up. He was a little bit partisan in his answer. Mitt Romney a little bit less so.

Let's hear what they had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

RYAN: Did you guys watch that Packer game last night? I mean, give me a break. It is time to get the real refs.

You know what? It reminds me of President Obama and the economy. If you can't get it right, it's time to get out.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Paul Ryan called those refs out today are. You glad that he did that?

ROMNEY: It's just fine. Paul was very angry that the Green Bay Packers he believes won and the referees took it away from them.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

PRESTON: You know, Paul Ryan is angry but it just shows -- goes to show you that a lot of people are angry. And, of course, that really was crystallized in that Monday night game where I think we can arguably or not arguably say it was stolen from the Green Bay Packers, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, I think everybody would agree with that. I'm shocked a $9.5 billion operation can't solve this.

So we have President Obama, former President Bill Clinton also weighing in on this. Quite seriously, I might add. I was shocked at how serious he was.

PRESTON: Yes, well, you know something a lot of people say that Bill Clinton is the guy that you bring in to help rescue a situation in many cases. Maybe he'll be brought in to try to mediate this dispute between the union and the owners. But he was asked this last night on Piers Morgan. Let's hear what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: The football game, no, I did not think it was a touchdown. I thought the pass was intercepted. I thought the defender hit the ground before there was joint position. And yes, it means that we need to get strike over and get more experienced people in there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESTON: Zoraida, not just a political strategist, not known for being so good on the political field. But also, on the football field there, Bill Clinton.

SAMBOLIN: You know, I think you have a point, Mark. Maybe he should be brought in as a mediator and finally this will be resolved. I'm loving that idea. Put it on Facebook, see if we can get a petition signed.

Mark Preston live for us this morning -- thank you.

CHO: Did you see Piers' face?

SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes.

CHO: Really? This is where you're going?

SAMBOLIN: Very serious. I loved it.

CHO: All right. Thank you, Mark.

What looks like a Hollywood stunt, actually unbelievable brush with death. We're going to bring you that story behind this video you're watching here.

SAMBOLIN: Stick around for this, folks. This is amazing.

CHO: Really is. The story is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Welcome back to EARLY START. It's 44 minutes after the hour.

Good morning, everybody. I'm Alina Cho.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Let's get you up-to-date with our top stories.

Iran's president stirring things up before he even takes the world stage. Later this morning, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will stand before the U.N. General Assembly for the last time as President of Iran. His final term in office ends in June. And ahead of his speech, he's already talking about a new world order, free of American bullying, and predicts Israel will be eliminated from the Middle East.

Cameras roll as Muslim activists spray-paints a controversial subway ad. One that critics call hateful and racist, because it suggests Muslims are savages.

Check out this "New York Post" video.

That is activist, Mona Eltahawy, tussling with the woman holding a mounted camera. Eltahawy calls what she is doing an expression of free speech. That's the very argument supporters of the posters used to win the right to put them up. Three of the 10 posters at various subway stations were ripped or defaced during the first day that they were up.

CHO: Wow.

Police in Texas have charged a soldier from Fort Hood with manslaughter in the shooting death of a fellow serviceman. The two men were drinking while watching a football game on Sunday night.

Investigators say the victim, 22-year-old Private Isaac Lawrence Young (ph) had a case of the hiccups, and the suspect allegedly pulled out a gun to scare him and stop the hiccups. The problem is that the gun went off and hot Young right in the face.

SAMBOLIN: And look at this. A lucky trucker in Russia is caught on camera barely escaping a brush with death. Take a look at that. Look what happens. The video shows a head-on collision involving two trucks after a tractor trailer makes a sudden move.

The driver of the smaller truck comes flying out of the windshield. Look at that. Right there. That's when it happens. And you know what? He walks away without even a scratch.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It looks like he'd done it before.

CHO: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: Hopefully not, right? This is not a stunt. This is real. The viral video had more than 400,000 hits in just two days.

CHO: Incredible. Lucky man.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness!

CHO: Soledad is off today. She's feeling a little under the weather. Christine Romans --

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: -- we were just at the last bit, and the guy is scratching his head like what did just happened? Anyway --

CHO: John Berman filling in on "STARTING POINT" with Christine. We're reunited again. Great to see you. We used to work together.

BERMAN: Give Zoraida a break for me today. So, thanks for that.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Yes, thank you.

CHO: You're welcome.

BERMAN: On "STARTING POINT," we're going to start with the international fireworks. You know, he's giving speeches in the past and today could be no different. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will address the United Nations a day after President Obama warned Iran about its nuclear program,

We're going to talk to Michele Flournoy, the co-chair of the Obama campaign's National Security Advisory Committee and former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani. They will have different perspectives.

Plus, he knows the game inside and out. So, what does former New York Giant great, Tiki Barber, think about the NFL replacement refs and their questionable calls? He'll be here with us live. That should be fun.

As for fun, she just wants to have fun. Lots of it. Cyndi Lauper reveals surprising new details about her hit songs. She has a really interesting new memoir. That and much more coming up on "Starting Point" in just a few minutes.

CHO: And the most incredible hair.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: I love Cyndi Lauper. Looking forward to that. Thank you very much.

BERMAN: Excellent.

SAMBOLIN: All right. She's a long way from "Three's Company," but she still has that star quality. We're very excited about having you here, Suzanne Somers. She's here to talk about her brand-new show and much more. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you get me a heaping tablespoon of milk?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Heaping?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Her breakout role on the hit sitcom "Three's Company" launched her into international stardom, playing Chrissy Snow.

CHO: We've been waiting for this all morning long. Now, more than 35 years later, showbiz veteran, Suzanne Somers, launching a brand-new morning talk show this morning on the Lifetime Network. Her show will talk about health, dieting, fashion, and much more. Suzanne Somers is here with us now. Good morning.

SUZANNE SOMERS, HOST, "THE SUZANNE SHOW": Good morning.

CHO: You've been writing books. You've been doing all sorts of things. Do you have time for a morning show? Why did you decide to do this in this stage of your career?

SOMERS: It's -- you know, it's a very interesting way, I think, that we put the show together. I bought the time on Lifetime and then brought in sponsors with my message so that I could, in essence, do an uncensored show relative to cutting-edge health and science, because, so often, it's at odds with what conventional thinking is.

So, what I offer is the options to alternative health. Biodentical hormones for women and biodentical hormones for men. New ways to treat your heart rather than taking a statin. So, what I'm is bringing scientists and doctors onto my show, allowing them a platform, wrapped in glamour. I have a million dollar set and a million dollar wardrobe and great shoes.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: -- eye candy, right? So, we were talking earlier, I've been telling Alina when we were sitting on the set, I used to watch you all the time when I was growing up.

SOMERS: I'm so happy about that.

SAMBOLIN: Everybody, right? I mean, you're known as an actress. But I said, you know, she was just so dumb, but then I heard her talk. And it was a stereotype. You played a really great role. But really, you kind of were part of the feminist movement.

(CROSSTALK)

CHO: We believed you.

SOMERS: That's good. That's good. That's why I wanted to renegotiate. No, no, no, I'm acting. I was telling you earlier that when I renegotiated after the five-year mark, the network people thought that they were negotiating with Chrissy Snow. And so, they made an example of me so other women wouldn't get up and asked to be (INAUDIBLE) with the men.

So, I kind of took the fall. And instead of getting bitter about it, because it really ended my ability to act on television, I decided to use it like judo. Using, you know, negative energy to move forward. So, I have --

CHO: And you put that energy into a thigh master.

(LAUGHTER) SOMERS: Well, I was one of the first ones to come out and promote a product like that. We sold 10 million of them.

CHO: Unbelievable.

SOMERS: And it all started with a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes that I had paid $565 for, and I thought my husband is going to think I'm so stupid for paying so much money for shoes. So, I came out of my dressing room and I was in my underwear and I said, how do you like my new shoes?

(LAUGHTER)

SOMERS: And he said great legs. That's the commercial. So, we were able to advertise the shoes.

SAMBOLIN: How do you reinvent yourself like that, because you really are the queen of that? You kind of figure it out along the way and make millions in the process.

SOMERS: I have a radar now. I've been doing this for so many years, and you know, careers like all of ours are cyclical. We're up, we're down, we're up, we're down. And it's really easy to deal with the up. I now have been able to, with my radar, sense when, kind of mined everything out of this passage, it's time to turn right or left.

So, that's what I've been doing. And "The Suzanne Show," I feel like I'm supposed to be in that host chair. When I sat in it, I thought, this feels so comfortable. I've been a professional guest for so many years.

I bring on, you know, you can see, I bring on -- it was very interesting to have Larry on the other side of the table after all those years that I've been on the guest side of the table with him. And my friends showed up, as you can see.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: We're looking forward to that.

SOMERS: It's real -- you will learn things on this show that you won't hear anywhere else. And if you're interested in what it is that I'm doing relative to health, which is an option. I never tell anybody what to do. I'm just saying, you can go this way, you can go orthodox medicine and take a pill for every condition.

Or you can come over here and listen to my doctors who have alternatives, supplements, nutrients, ways of healing yourself without getting all drugged up.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So. it is "The Suzanne Show."

SOMERS: It starts this morning. It's going to be opposite you. You're toast!

(LAUGHTER) SAMBOLIN: Thank you very much. The premiere is in a few minutes at 7:00 a.m. on lifetime on Wednesday, September 26th.

SOMERS: Yes. One hour a week. And then three times -- two times on the weekends.

CHO: Congratulations.

SOMERS: Thank you very much.

CHO: Great to see you.

SOMERS: Thank you. You, too.

CHO: All right. Coming up today's "Best Advice" from the one and only, Deepak Chopra. That's next. Stay with us.

SAMBOLIN: OK. Thanks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: All right. It's less than a minute before the top of the hour, and we wrap it up as always with "Best Advice."

SAMBOLIN: And today, we hear from author, Deepak Chopra.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEEPAK CHOPRA, AUTHOR, "SPIRITUAL SOLUTIONS": The best advice I've ever received is not to take myself seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Seriously.

CHO: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: I love that.

All right. That's EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Short and sweet, Alina.

CHO: That's right. And I'm Alina Cho. "STARTING POINT" starts right now.