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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Not About the Win?; "Like Hitting a Lighthouse"; Candidates Prep For Critical Debate

Aired October 2, 2012 - 05:00   ET

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


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Countdown to the faceoff. Mitt Romney and President Obama get ready for the make it or break it debate. But Romney says it's not about the win.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, it was like hitting a lighthouse. Overnight, two ferry boats collided in Hong Kong, killing more than 30 people, and sending at least a hundred to the hospital.

SAMBOLIN: And jumping to safety. Look at this -- a fire breaks out in an apartment building, forcing a 72-year-old man to leap into the arms of bystanders below. Just what happened? We're going to have all the details coming up. That's just incredible.

KEILAR: And good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Brianna Keilar, coming up in a couple of hours on "STARTING POINT".

SAMBOLIN: Very nice to have you with us, Brianna. Thank you.

KEILAR: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. I'm 5:00 a.m. in the East.

So, first, this morning, counting down the final hours to the big Denver debate.

KEILAR: And the stakes could not be higher for Mitt Romney and President Obama, because if a clear winner emerges, it could be a game changer.

But listen to Romney tell supporters in Denver, this debate is not a competition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The people want to know who is going to win, who is going to score the punches and who is going to make the biggest difference in the arguments they make? There's going to be the scoring of winning and losing. You know, in my view, it's not so much winning and losing or even the people themselves, the President and myself. It's about something bigger than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEINHAUSER: CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser is actually in the house with us this morning.

All week long, last week we were talking about lower expectations. Is this just that?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, you just heard that from Mitt Romney. It's not whether who wins or losses, it's how you play the game -- right. Come on. Let's be honest.

SAMBOLIN: Right.

STEINHAUSER: You heard the same thing from President Obama Sunday night at his rally in Colorado. I think it also matters who wins or loses.

What do you think, ladies, right?

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

STEINHAUSER: But both candidates are getting ready. Both candidates are in their final debate prep. Mitt Romney, he had the rally last night in Colorado. So, he's there now. He's hunkering down with Rob Portman, the senator from Ohio who's playing Obama in their mock debate. You're not going to see much of Mitt Romney until Wednesday night.

Same thing for the President. He's in Henderson, Nevada. He'll fly to Denver on Wednesday. But until then, hunkering down. He's got Senator John Kerry out there from Massachusetts. He is playing Mitt Romney in the debate preps.

But the President did have a chance to talk to a few people. He delivered some pizzas to the local Obama for reelection campaign office out there. Very nice of them. Delivering pizza to the workers.

But he also talked about not getting out much. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Basically they're keeping me indoors all the time. It's a drag. They're making me do my homework.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEINHAUSER: Wow, wow. It's his job, right? He's supposed to get ready to the debate, doing his homework.

KEILAR: Also, you have some new polls for us. Where are we seeing the candidates now?

STEINHAUSER: Nationally, this race is extremely close. Four polls came out yesterday over the last 24 hour, including one of ours.

So, let's talk about ours. CNN/ORC national poll. Look at that, 50 percent among likely voters for the President, 47 for Mitt Romney. That three-point advantage for the President is definitely without the poll sampling errors. So, you can consider it a tie.

What is the key issue on Wednesday night? This is a debate about domestic issues. It's going to dominate on the economy, of course. Take a look at the economy numbers. It's about as close as you can get. One point in between these two candidates. That's why so much is on the line here.

But you know what? What is interesting? While the national polls are really, really tight in the states, the President has a little bit more of an advantage.

KEILAR: And that matters a lot. Those swing states really matter.

SAMBOLIN: We can officially say it's really tight, huh, Paul?

STEINHAUSER: I think so.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you so much. We'll see you again in the next hour.

First presidential debate starts Wednesday night. Watch it live at 7:00 Eastern on CNN ands on CNN.com.

KEILAR: In Hong Kong, rescuers are scouring the harbor this morning for possible survivors of a collision between two passenger ferries that killed at least 37 people. And there's words six crew members have been arrested.

More than 100 survivors were pulled from the water immediately after last night's crash. A passenger on one of the ferries said the impact was so strong, it felt like the boat smashed into a rock or a lighthouse.

CNN correspondent Ramy Inocencio is in Hong Kong, on the phone with us.

What can you tell us, Ramy?

RAMY INOCENCIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Brianna.

Yes, this is Hong Kong's worst fatal ferry accident in the past four decades. A total of 37 people are now confirmed dead and another nine people are seriously injured. Right behind me, you can see the scene of the crash.

It happened last night at 8:30 p.m. when one boat basically hit another boat which then sank. That boat was carrying about 120 passengers.

You know, it was actually supposed to be a celebrational day. Basically, many of them were watching fireworks for China's national holiday which lands on October 1st. But that fun turned to fear basically when water started rushing through that broken hull. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The boat was completely standing straight up in the water. It was chaotic. All the tables and chairs were everywhere. It was like a slide. Everything was sliding down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My leg was stuck and couldn't get it out. I thought I won't be able to get it out and I was going to die. The water was suffocating me. My friend tugged with all her might and got my leg out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INOCENCIO: Now, search and rescue operations are still going on. Earlier in the day, we took a little boat out to the crash site and saw several marine vessels and a helicopter circling the area.

Looking ahead -- Hong Kong's chief executive, basically the governor of the special administrative region here, said that a probe is going to be under way to figure out just exactly what caused this crash -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Ramy Inocencio, of course, in Hong Kong -- thank you.

SAMBOLIN: It is five minutes past the hour.

Three cars of an Amtrak train derailed this morning in Fresno, California -- south of Fresno, California, that is. Officials say a tractor trailer failed to stop at the crossing and plowed into the side of a passenger train. This all happened yesterday afternoon.

More than 170 people on board. Dozens were injured. Fortunately, the injuries are not serious.

KEILAR: Also this morning, American Airlines has grounded several 757s after a row of seats came loose on two separate flights within days of each other -- if you can imagine that. The FAA is also looking into the incidents.

A spokeswoman for American says an initial internal investigation found there may be an issue with a certain model of seats and how they fit into the tracking used to secure them.

SAMBOLIN: And one of the FBI's most wanted white collar criminals in custody this morning after 30 years on the run. This is incredible. John Donald Cody was already under arrest in Ohio under the name Bobby Thompson.

And the fed say a lucky Google search by a bored U.S. marshal matched an old photo of Cody to his alter ego. The feds want him in connection with a charity scam. They say Cody may have ripped of millions of donors which was intended for veterans. He's also wanted for questioning in a spy case.

KEILAR: Googling. Isn't that incredible.

SAMBOLIN: A bored person Googling there. KEILAR: A bored person as we all do and it paid off.

Now, opening up the so-called perversion files. The Boy Scouts will report to authorities hundreds of adult leaders who have confessed to or have been accused of molesting scouts since the 1960s. They say they'll turn information over to local officials in the jurisdictions where the alleged abuse happened. Some former scout leaders and volunteers could face criminal charges and in cases where statute of limitations on reporting sexual abuse have not expired, civil charges could still be brought.

SAMBOLIN: An Iranian cameraman who came to New York with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the U.N. assembly stayed in New York instead of going back home. He now wants to stay in the United States permanently.

Hassan Gol Khanban has applied for asylum. His American lawyer says he's afraid to return to Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL DWYER, ATTORNEY FOR IRANIAN CAMERAMAN SEEKING TO DEFECT TO U.S.: There were things that he was expected to do that he was not comfortable with doing. That he was quite opposed to. The Iranian government then perceives him as being their opponent. So, you're perceived as being part of the enemy when you're not doing what it is that they want you to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: The cameraman has reportedly been a part of Ahmadinejad's inner circle for several years.

KEILAR: A Monday night mauling in Arlington, Texas. The Chicago bears intercepting Tony Romo five times. Five times in a 34-18 drubbing of the Dallas Cowboys. Two of those picks were returned for touchdowns. The five interceptions matching a career high for the Cowboys' quarterback.

SAMBOLIN: Listen to this -- a man leaps from a burning building as neighbors gather to catch him. You're going to have to see this to believe it. We have the details, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar.

And we have heart stopping video to show you. A 72-year-old man hanging from this third floor apartment window. Can you imagine how scary this is?

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my God. He was forced to let go when a fire goes out of control in his kitchen. New Yorkers gathering below to catch the man.

News 12 The Bronx's Laura Thoren has more on this incredible catch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAURA THOREN, NEWS 12 THE BRONX (voice-over): A leap of faith from a burning building into the arms of friends and neighbors.

RONNIE POE, 72-YEAR-OLD: I'm glad I'm healthy, I have no broken bones.

THOREN: Seventy-two-year-old Ronnie Poe says he miraculously suffered a bruised heel. He fell three stories from this Walton Avenue apartment after his kitchen caught fire Thursday afternoon.

POE: I couldn't breathe. So I ran back to my room, closed the door. I closed the door. The smoke was coming into my room.

THOREN: He tells me he first yelled out this window for someone to call 911 then began climbing out to escape the smoke, eventually hanging by just one arm on to the window's ledge.

Vanessa, a good friend of Ronnie was on the street below. She says she started yelling for a crowd to come help catch him.

VANESSA MCMILLON, HELPED CATCH VICTIM: Everybody get round, gather round and let him jump.

POE: I held my arm right here. I waited and waited. I couldn't hold on no more.

THOREN: Falling feet first into the group assembled below.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Held him. You all right? You OK? He said, yes, I'm good.

THOREN: Ronnie tells me he served in the U.S. Army for several years and was trained as a paratrooper to safely jump from planes.

POE: I knew what to do to jump out the window, how to jump, how to land, and fell over. But people caught me when I jumped out the window.

THOREN: Fire officials tell us the flames were contained to his apartment and no one was seriously injured during the fire or this catch.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: That is one lucky man. Those New Yorkers, amazing. Sevent-two years old. Doesn't look a day over 50, does he?

KEILAR: I agree. Very young man.

SAMBOLIN: Unbelievable.

Fourteen minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date.

In less than three hours, early voting begins in the key swing state of Ohio. Listen to this, over 922,000 Ohioans have requested absentee ballots and those can be mailed beginning today.

KEILAR: The White House says it detected and foiled an attempted cyber attack on its computer system. Officials say the hack attempt targeted an unclassified network. There's no indication any data was removed. The administration isn't identifying the source, though one published report accuses China.

SAMBOLIN: A judge in Florida has dismissed a lawsuit against Miami- based Carnival Cruise Lines. Up to 1,000 Italian business are trying to sue over the fatal capsizing of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that was off the coast of Italy. Carnival owns the Costa Cruise Lines. The judge agreeing with their claim that the lawsuit should be filed in Italy.

KEILAR: Fire crews in Canada worked into the overnight hours this morning to bring a warehouse fire under control. This broke out yesterday afternoon in Winnipeg yesterday. Amazing pictures.

It sent flames and that thick black smoke into the air. It was auto racing methanol that was reportedly stored on this site. And the flames why so intense that at one point the firefighters were forced to back away.

SAMBOLIN: Seth McFarland, the man behind TV's "Family Guy" and the summer movie blockbuster "Ted" is taking on a new gig, hosting next year's Oscars. McFarland has recent awards show improv experience last week. He talked into the wrong mike and the recovered by flipping (ph). This is what happens when you don't come to rehearsal.

KEILAR: I'm excited to see that. I like Seth McFarland. I watch "Family Guy". I have the viewing habits of a 14-year-old boy.

SAMBOLIN: I can't watch it. I have a 13-year-old. So I can't have it on.

All right. Fifteen minutes past the hour, it's time for early reads. This is your local news that is making national headlines.

KEILAR: That's right. First from the "Philadelphia Inquirer," police are investigating an incidents caught on video and posted on YouTube. It shows a highway patrol supervisor punching a woman in the face, apparently without warning, during Sunday's Puerto Rican Day parade in Philadelphia. Police say they believe the woman was throwing water or beer at the cops. Philadelphia police say the lieutenant has been identified and taken off the street. They're conducting a full scale investigation.

SAMBOLIN: And next up, a story in "The New York Times." A Brooklyn drug bust, including scaly surprised, a 3-foot-long alligator.

Investigators say they think the couple they arrested were keeping it as a pet. There's a picture for you. Police say they also found guns and pot inside the home.

The couple was charged with harboring a prohibited animal, in addition to drug and gun offenses.

KEILAR: Police were probably not expecting that.

SAMBOLIN: No.

KEILAR: Coming up, a new complaint against a big bank has been filed over the housing bubble. Are they finally being held to account? Our own Christine Romans has what you need to know, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: We're having great dialogue this morning. It's 20 minutes past the hour. Minding your business this morning.

U.S. stock futures are up. Markets closed higher yesterday after reports showed American factory activity expanded last month.

KEILAR: And Christine is here. She has our other top business stories for us this morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning you two. Well, the fiscal cliff, first, the bad serious news. It's likely going to cost you about $3,500 next year. That's new analysis from the Tax Policy Center.

I want to show you a graphic from CNN that breaks down the data by income. See how much money you make on the left. On the right, you're going to see what the fiscal cliff would give you for tax increases next year. If you make between $40,000 and $64,000. That's going to be almost a $2,000 increase for you.

The more money you make, the more you're going to pay. For people that make more than 100 grand or so, you're going to have a $14,000 tax bill next year.

The fiscal cliff, of course, is Congress' doing. It is massive tax increases on spending cuts because they couldn't agree on deficit reduction. Fiscal cliff, Congress would have to fix it.

A quick point, the payroll tax cut that you're getting right now, it's likely not going to be extended. So, there will be higher taxes, maybe a little bit, maybe a lot depending what Congress does.

Now, the New York attorney general has filed suit against JPMorgan over the mortgage backed securities that are packaged and sold during the housing bubble, the start of it all. The civil suit alleges that Bear Stearns, which JPMorgan now owns, and is responsible for, misled investors into thinking that those toxic loans had been fully evaluated. Even when Bear Stearns found out there were problems, the bank, quote, "failed to reform their practices or to disclose material information to investors." That's according to the complaint.

Total losses suffered from mortgage-backed securities, $22.5 billion in 2006 and 2007.

Now, here's the thing we can control. We can control what we're spending and buying this month. right? It's a new month and every month there are new deals. They're known -- every month is known differently for shoppers.

And for shoppers, according to dealnews.com, here's what to buy and not buy in October. Halloween costumes, the week before Halloween, this is when they are cheap. Why? Because they're trying to unload the inventory in the final days before Halloween.

Jeans -- the styles leftover are usually marked down. You can stock up on shrubs, floral bulbs, gardening items that last in the basement through winter. Those are the cheapest. Also, depending where you live, you can do fall planting at deep discounts.

Avoid -- this is what you avoid in October. Cold weather apparel, you'll get good sales on that in January. So, there's hold off. A new electronics, Black Friday is better. Appliance, washers, dryers, refrigerators, Deal News says, the best markdowns for those in November.

SAMBOLIN: We were chatting. You caught us chatting about this story, because it's really great to plan. You said that you're targeted now through e-mail.

ROMANS: Right.

SAMBOLIN: In order to get you to --

ROMANS: It's true. So, the marketers in all the stores, they know your patterns, right? They know what you're buying. For example, a Lands End account, right? They see they have extra inventory in a certain kind of pant you've bought for your kid. Boom, 40 percent off, they know how to scratch your itch, you know?

So, you can look for the right month to buy things, but also there's a lot of really good sales they're trying to get you. Sometimes I feel like they're trying to make me spend money I don't have. But --

SAMBOLIN: As long as you have that coupon.

ROMANS: If you're judicious and buy things on sale online, they know that. Suddenly, they come courting you.

Have you noticed? You've noticed, right?

KEILAR: Well, you've pointed it out to me, now I know. That's what's going on.

Yes, definitely, I think it's pretty amazing. How do you sort through all the different things you're getting to? If you're already buying it, you go ahead with the coupon, right?

ROMANS: The most important thing is you don't buy things you can't afford to pay off that month. I mean, this is where people get in trouble and where America's consumer psyche has gone overboard, right? Where you are constantly buying things because I think it's on sale and you can't afford it.

If you can't pay for it in 30 days on a credit card or right there when you buy it, you shouldn't be buying it in the first place, especially discretionary spending. That's always the thing to remember when you're trying to shop sales.

SAMBOLIN: That is excellent advice. Look for the coupons. I'm going to start doing that now.

ROMANS: Honey, I am cheap. Stick with me.

SAMBOLIN: No, no. I'm there too. I wasn't looking for those coupons. I will now. I don't like buying online all the type. If they offer me the incentive of 40 percent off, I'm with you. Thank you.

ROMANS: There you go.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Twenty-five minutes past the hour.

KEILAR: It is called blood spill race for a reason. A skateboarder has a very unusual collision during a practice downhill run. You've got to see this.

And if you're leaving the house right now -- oh, my --

SAMBOLIN: It's one of those moments, is everybody OK?

KEILAR: I think he's going to be OK, but that's kind of disturbing. You can watch us any time on your desktop or mobile phone. Just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Just one day until the big showdown between President Obama and Mitt Romney. Is it more about the win or about the political punches? We'll break it all down.

KEILAR: And video emerges possibly showing an American journalist who disappeared in Syria. Why experts warn you shouldn't take the clip at face value.

SAMBOLIN: And Ikea now apologizing for this ad that airbrushed out women. Why they did it, just ahead.

KEILAR: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Brianna Keilar.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

It is 29 minutes past the hour here.

KEILAR: The candidates are in full prep mode for tomorrow night's presidential debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney appearing at one final rally in Denver, the city where he will be squaring off one-on-one for the first time with President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: In my view, it's not so much winning and losing or even the people themselves, the President and myself. It's about something bigger than that. These debates are an opportunity for each of us to describe the pathway forward for America that we would choose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Romney will, no doubt, be pressed by the President on the specifics of that pathway. And with the candidates neck-and-neck in the most recent CNN/ORC poll with President Obama's three-point lead falling within the margin of error. It is now anybody's game.

And here now to talk strategy for the two presidential hopefuls is Ryan Lizza CNN contributor and Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker." Nice to have you with us this morning --

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning, guys. Good to see you.

SAMBOLIN: -- to try to make some sense out of all of this, right? We've seen them trying to lower the expectations. What can we expect then?

LIZZA: Well, that's the sort of game. You talk about how your opponent is an incredible debater, and you know, you don't know anything. You can barely stand up there on the stage because so much of the game is after the debate is over. These things are one in the spin room and in the media and not actually on the floor.

SAMBOLIN: Let's start with Romney, though. If we can start with Romney, and what can we expect there?

LIZZA: Well, couple of things. I think Romney needs to do probably three things. He needs to talk about specifics, which has been one of the things that voters has been asking for and his campaign hasn't laid out what he's going to do. The second thing he needs to do is favorability. It's very unusual circumstance.

He went into September as the only candidate in the last seven elections to have more voters say they have an unfavorable view of him than favorable. That's very unusual. That means that all his negative ads that Obama ran in the summer worked. And so, he's got to -- you know, he's got to address that likability deficit.

The probable problem is, debates aren't the best forum for that. They're really good about showing you're authoritative, really good about showing you're knowledgeable, but not necessarily about connecting with voters. And the final thing is overcoming that famous 48 percent quote that Obama campaign has been hammering him on that and needs to address it firmly and get it behind him.

KEILAR: And make Americans think that he cares about all of them, right? LIZZA: Yes. Look, if you're out there -- if you're out there with this quote saying that half the country won't vote for you, this dependent on government, and that seems according to the polling. That seems to be damaging him. You've got to address that and get it behind you. So, Romney has more work to do, because he's down.

KEILAR: Right. And what about President Obama? What does he have to do?

LIZZA: So, President Obama is sitting on a lead. He's looking good. It's -- the race seems like it has broken. And his strategy will be to sort of play defense, right? Not make any mistakes, play it very safe. He's got to stick to the strategy, which is emphasize the positives in the last four years and do what he's been doing, attack Romney, attack him on that 47 percent.

But I think the other thing Obama needs to do which he has -- is done a little bit, but he hasn't to a certain degree is lay out some specifics for a second term. Voters -- if you look at the swing voters and the undecided voters, they want to know what these two guys are going to do.

So, he's got to do that a little bit more. And then, finally, in previous debates where Obama has gotten in trouble, it's when he seemed a little cocky and little overconfident.

SAMBOLIN: There's a lot of talk about that.

LIZZA: Right.

SAMBOLIN: That he could actually create a lot of trouble for himself if he goes down that road, which is something that comes naturally, right?

LIZZA: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: So, how do you overcome that?

LIZZA: Remember the famous moment a lot of people have been talking about this week with Hillary Clinton when he said you're likable enough, Hillary, right?

KEILAR: Yes.

LIZZA: And that was a similar dynamic. Obama was sort of winning the likability race there. He said it in such -- in almost offensive way. So, he's got to be careful that he's -- you know, Obama doesn't have a lot of respect for Mitt Romney.

KEILAR: Exactly. So, does that manifest itself -- I mean, that's going to be hard for him using to keep under wraps that's (ph) what you looking for.

LIZZA: And I shouldn't see Obama personally, but I know that people around him and the campaign, they're very dismissed with this guy. And I don't think there's a lot of personal chemistry between these two guys. They haven't known each other. And -- so Obama has to make sure that doesn't come out.

He doesn't seem arrogant or overconfidence or somehow dismissive that this guy doesn't deserve to be on the stage with him.

SAMBOLIN: I want your take very quickly just on these clips that Romney has been preparing, you know, these digs at President Obama.

LIZZA: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: That's also something that is not natural. And so, is that really such a great idea? I found that really shocking.

LIZZA: Well, the bad idea is telling people about it beforehand. All of these guys do that. If you talk to the debate coaches and the guys who prep the candidates historically, they always prepare the zingers. You know, a lot of the ones that we think of historically in the last few campaigns were ones that were prepared going into the race.

But, you don't go out and tell the reporters before the debate that oh, don't worry, our guy is going to be really prepared because he's got canned lines ready to go.

KEILAR: Prepare the zinger, put it in your pocket --

(LAUGHTER)

KEILAR: And you pull it out when a moment presents itself.

LIZZA: Well, now, everyone is going to think it's fake.

SAMBOLIN: Well, if you can, right, because those are such awkward moments. So, it's like OK, so now, you got to prep this moment to happen so I can get the zinger in. I find it all very bizarre. Ryan Lizza, thank you. I know we're going to chat some more, Washington correspondent for "New Yorker. We appreciate your time this morning.

KEILAR: Thanks, Ryan.

LIZZA: Good to be here. Thanks, guys.

KEILAR: Now, President Obama and Mitt Romney face-to-face as voters weigh their choice. The first presidential debate starts Wednesday night. You can watch it live at 7:00 eastern on CNN and also on CNN.com.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Mitt Romney on the record, promising to honor temporary work permits for young illegal immigrants who were allowed to remain in the United States. That's because of an executive order signed by President Obama this summer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): The GOP nominee telling the "Denver Post," "The people who have received the special visa that the President has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I'm not going to take something that they've purchased. Before the visas have expired, we will have the full immigration reform plan that I have proposed."

And a video posted on YouTube appears to show American freelance journalist, Austin Tice, who has been missing in Syria since mid- August. Look at this. In this video which was posted by supporters of the Assad regime, the man is blindfolded and appears to be in distress. He's being shoved along by militants with machine guns and shoulder fired missiles.

His family and two news organizations he works for say the man is Tice. But the State Department says it cannot verify that it is him.

KEILAR (voice-over): Check this out. We teased this. It's a bit of man and deer. It's man versus deer.

SAMBOLIN: I thought it was a dog.

KEILAR: You thought it was a dog. I thought it was a horse.

(LAUGHTER)

KEILAR: This is obviously pretty dramatic YouTube video, and this is a skateboarding accident in Colorado. You can see the guy there in that blue shirt, he was speeding downhill. He was going at this point about 40 miles an hour.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my God.

KEILAR: -- into this deer. This video, not surprisingly, has gone viral. And the skateboarder actually talked to affiliate, KCNC, about this epic wipeout.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE OF RYAN VITAL, SKATEBOARDER: I remember like opening my eyes and being on top of a deer, and then, I was pretty much in shock and so was the deer. I knew I was going to hit it. And, I don't really remember what I did, but I guess, I tackled it to the ground. I was just like praying that I didn't break anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Well, so he actually says that the deer broke his fall leaving him soaring with some serious road rash, but that was it. And of course, the thing that we want to know --

(LAUGHTER)

KEILAR: The deer is OK.

SAMBOLIN: That's great news, isn't it? Everybody is fine.

All right. The giant furniture retailer, Ikea, is a apologizing for the Saudi Arabian version of its catalog. It deleted or airbrushed all traces of women from the magazine and its companion website, apparently, in accordance with Saudi Arabian rules about showing women in public. Ikea now says that it regrets that move and that excluding women is in conflict with the company's values.

KEILAR: They're called October surprises, and they can have an incredible impact on the November election. We'll have a look at some of the most memorable moments should President Obama or Mitt Romney be worried?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 40 minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

KEILAR (on-camera): And I'm Brianna Keilar. You know, when President Obama and Mitt Romney take the stage for tomorrow night's high-stakes debate in Denver, they're both going to be painfully aware of the fact that one single awkward moment, one poorly chosen word could cost them the presidency.

SAMBOLIN: And with five weeks to go before America votes, there's always the possibility of an October surprise. Here's Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Election year 1972, the raging unpopular war in Vietnam consumed the bitter campaign battle between President Nixon and George McGovern. Suddenly, on October 26th, 12 days before the election, Vietnam negotiator, Henry Kissinger, made a surprise declaration believed to submit (ph) Nixon's frontrunner status.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe that peace is at hand.

BASH: It was the first so-called October surprise, a late in the game campaign event with a significant impact on the election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In order to win re-election for Nixon 1972, they needed to end the Vietnam War. And, this was sort of the definitive statement.

BASH: The most famous October surprise was in 1980 and the surprise was what did not happen, 52 U.S. hostages held in Iran were not released before the election despite President Carter's efforts.

Instead, they were freed as soon as Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, setting off Democratic suspicion never proven that Reagan emissaries back channeled with Iran to delay freeing the hostages and denied the troubled Carter campaign a huge pre-election boost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It fed into the whole dynamic of the 1980 race in the sense that Jimmy Carter was a stumbling, ineffective president.

BASH: Fast forward to 1992, President George H.W. Bush was already on the ropes against Bill Clinton over a sluggish economy when Caspar Weinberger, former President Ronald Regan's defense secretary was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal shortly before election day. Bad news that bush, who served as Reagan's vice president, did not need.

In 2004, a classic October surprise. Osama Bin Laden released a video on October 29th, just four days before Election Day in a razor-thin race between President Bush and John Kerry.

Three years after 9/11, it served as a reminder of the terrorist threat and strategists in both parties believed helped President Bush. More recently, the term October surprise has come to mean a seismic event in the fall of an election year, though, most have centered around foreign policy, others have been about the economy, like in 2008.

When the economy imploded, John McCain's advisers say his campaign collapsed along with it and never recovered. Historians say in order for an October surprise to have a real 11th hour impact, it has to feed into a narrative that already exists, whether its Carter's ineffectiveness or questions about McCain's credentials on the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not so much that suddenly Eureka, this was a so surprising, so amazing, but rather people nod, yes. This is where we thought things were going.

BASH (on-camera): It's possible we may have already seen this election year's October surprise. Maybe it was how the candidates reacted to tragedy in Libya and the broader unrest in the Mid East or maybe it was Mitt Romney's now infamous 47 percent remarks, or perhaps, one or both of the campaigns is holding out a damaging information about the other.

Or, there will be an unforeseen event on the world stage. It's hard to say since if we could guess, it would not be called an October surprise.

Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Very good point, Dana.

And this is a live picture from the debate location in Denver. You can see the podiums are set up on the stage. The seats ready to be filled there. And once again, the first presidential debate is this Wednesday night, tomorrow. Our live coverage begins live at 7:00 eastern on CNN and CNN.com.

KEILAR: A country music star is saying sorry for getting a little too friendly with a former "American Idol" star. We'll have the apology next.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Forty-eight minutes after the hour, so let's get you up to date here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): It is less than 40 hours to go before tomorrow night's critical presidential debate. Both candidates are busy preparing for the 90-minute showdown. Brianna and I are wondering if they have nerves of steel or if they're just really on the edge.

KEILAR (voice-over): I'm sure there's nerves, but you know, the campaign will never tell you they have nerves.

SAMBOLIN: No. So, Mitt Romney is already in Denver. And the President is hunkered down in Nevada, holding a three-point lead among likely voters. This is in a latest CNN/ORC poll.

KEILAR: Meantime, rescuers are searching Hong Kong harbor this morning for people who are tossed into the water after two passenger ferries collided. Six crew members have been arrested. This crash last night has now killed at least 37 people. More than 100 survivors were pulled from the water in the immediate aftermath of the collision.

SAMBOLIN: Dramatic video from New York City. Look at this. A 72- year-old man hanging on for dear life from his third-floor apartment window, and then, he takes a leap of faith. Friends and neighbors caught him as he escaped an out of control fire in his kitchen. The catch caught on cell phone video. That's what you're watching. Local stations report Ronnie Poe (ph) did not suffer any broken bones.

KEILAR: Very lucky day for him.

And a special delivery at Yahoo! new CEO, Marissa Mayer, giving birth to a baby boy on Sunday night. Mayer became Yahoo's! chief executive in July when she was six months pregnant after spending 13 years at rival, Google.

SAMBOLIN: Country singer Jason Aldean admits he got too friendly with a former "American Idol" contestant. He was photographed kissing Brittany Kerr over the weekend and he took to Facebook and Twitter to apologize. Aldean married his high school sweetheart in 2001. They have two daughters.

KEILAR: Yeah. That's where the problem comes in.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Yes, major problem.

All right. So, let's get a quick check of the forecast with Rob Marciano. Are you going to weigh in on that story, Mr. Marciano?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Negative ghostwriter. Right to the weather. Good morning, Zoraida. Hello, Brianna. Good to see you, guys. Rainfall yesterday across the southeast was prevalent and heavy at times. In some cases, it was needed. In other cases, it was all too much. Here's the rainfall estimates. A lot of bright colors on the map. You know what that means. It was heavy and bright and red. It doesn't always mean good thing. Flowery Branch, Georgia, where the Falcons train, 6.3 inches of rainfall yesterday. Gainesville seeing almost six inches, Chattanooga almost three inches, and Franklin, North Carolina, seeing over two inches.

Atlanta, two-day total well over two inches, in some cases, three inches. The rainfall trailing down across Florida. So, if you're traveling to Miami or Tampa, you'll see some showers. Most of the rain out of Atlanta now getting across into the higher country of the Carolinas and rolling across the spine of the Appalachians getting into the Delmarva, (INAUDIBLE) and the Delaware Valley.

D.C. will see some showers and some of this will stretch into New York City, but the backside of this thing, it's a pretty slow-mover. Threat for seeing severe weather tomorrow again. We saw a couple tornadoes yesterday. That's a possibility again today across the up river parts of the Ohio River.

Here's your slow-moving system behind it. Somewhat mild air, temperatures nice in Texas back through Colorado, but breezy conditions, Alberta Clipper coming down across Canada. It's going to kick up the wind, so we've got a decent fire threat here across the northern tier states from North Dakota back to Montana, even the pacific northwest which continues to see unusually dry weather there and also the fires continue to burn especially across eastern parts of the cascades.

Temperatures across Southern California yesterday were record highs, in the 90s, near 100 degrees. We'll see it again today. I think Sacramento will hit 100 degrees. So, if you're feeling a little bit of fall chill, head that way. Sixty-nine degrees in New York City, may have to dodge a few raindrops.

KEILAR: We'll be seeing more pictures, I think, Rob -- have you been seeing this on Facebook? Any friend you have on the west coast, in California, they're posting a picture of the temperature in their car for what they're doing?

(LAUGHTER)

KEILAR: 105 degrees, 104 degrees.

SAMBOLIN: Those poor folks.

KEILAR: I know. It's so -- it's crazy. Beautiful on the east coast.

And we have a packed hour ahead on EARLY START. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is back in Iran. He's expected to speak next hour after his final U.N. speech, but his official photographer never left New York. He's seeking asylum. Will he talk? Next hour, we'll speak to the first official White House videographer, Arun Chaudhary, about what he might know.

SAMBOLIN: Also, be aware of exploding washing machines? A safety alert from one really big appliance. All that and much more coming up in the next hour of EARLY START.

KEILAR: Strongly hard enough, I tell you. But first, they are no longer one hit wonders. Filipino prisoners go Gangnam-style, and they -- this is going viral.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fifty-six minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin along with Brianna Keilar. And we are taking a look at what is trending.

KEILAR: Pumpkins, giant pumpkins --

SAMBOLIN: Really?

KEILAR: A giant pumpkin broke the world record at the Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my gosh!

KEILAR: This thing is over 2,000 pounds, 2,009 pounds to be exact. This is a second time that a pumpkin shattered the record in a week.

SAMBOLIN: How do you grow something like that?

KEILAR: I don't know. Special food. I have no idea. Plant food?

SAMBOLIN: Wow!

KEILAR: So, this giant gourd netted owner, Ron Wallace (ph), $5,000 and another 10 grand for topping the one-ton mark. I want to carve that thing. You could hop inside of it.

(LAUGHTER)

KEILAR: Pop out of the pumpkin.

(LAUGHTER)

KEILAR: And this next story. This is --

SAMBOLIN: Wow! I can't believe they are giving me this story. A monster night for tiger, Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera had four hits, including his 44th home run of the year. Miggy is now really close to becoming the first Triple Crown winner in baseball since 1967. That is a big deal. Leading his league in home runs, batting average and runs batted in.

And all this on the night Detroit clinched a division title. I wanted my White Sox, Chicago White Sox, to take that, but they didn't. And one thing all of Washington can get behind for the first time since 1933 FDR's rookie year? The nation's capitol has a first place team. Can you believe it?

KEILAR: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: The Nats clinching a division title last night -- the first since the team moved there from Montreal.

KEILAR: We're very excited about that.

SAMBOLIN: Good for you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Awesome. Yes. That's right. So, follow-up hit from those Filipino prisoners who brought you "Thriller." Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR (voice-over): Man, they do it right, don't they? They're going for viral video fame again, this time, going --

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): They can dance.

KEILAR: -- Gangnam Style. I hope. Am I saying it, Gangnam Style, right?

SAMBOLIN: Yes (ph).

KEILAR: One thousand inmates at seven detention center braved the rain. They showed off their awesome moves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR (on-camera): The video already has close to 800,000 hits --

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Oh, my gosh.

KEILAR: -- since it was uploaded on Saturday.

SAMBOLIN: I say we have to learn the dance.

KEILAR: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: All right.

KEILAR: We're not showing it you, though.

SAMBOLIN: No, no, no.

So, it's crunch time for both candidates with the first debate fast approaching, here's Jon Stewart's take.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": The make or break moment for both campaigns, and they are going all out preparing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney are preparing for Wednesday's debate in Denver.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama is leaving on Sunday for two or three-day debate camp. (END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: Oh, debate camp!

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Oh.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: I remember going to debate camp. I remember like it was hot summer days, no sports. Our bitter rivals, camp normal fun. You see I remember the debate camp song if I can.

(SINGING) on the shores of lake rhetoric.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: (SINGING) We practice logical consistency. We will beat your (INAUDIBLE) attacks using well-structured argument and reason facts. You see, sometimes false pathologies and logical not in the face not in the face, not in the face. Getting your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) actually written into the song.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: In case you missed it, there we have it for you. EARLY START continues right now.