CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Candidates Prep For Big Debate; Judge To Rule On Pennsylvania Voter ID Law; Amtrak Train Versus Big Rig; Two Ferries Collide In Hong Kong; Iranian Official Defects To U.S.; Allergy-Free Cow's Milk; IKEA Apologizes For Deleting Women

Aired October 2, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


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

Countdown to the face-off. Mitt Romney and President Obama get ready for the make it or break it debate, but Romney says it is not about the win.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And what could he know? The president of Iran's personal cameraman seeking asylum in the U.S.? We're talking to the first White House videographer about it.

SAMBOLIN: And jumping to safety. A fire breaks out in an apartment building, forcing a 72-year-old man to leap into the arms of bystanders below. Just exactly what happened there, we have all the video for you coming up.

KEILAR: Amazing story. Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Brianna Keilar. John Berman is coming up next hour on "STARTING POINT."

SAMBOLIN: It's nice to have you with us, Brianna. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is 6:00 a.m. in the East.

Less than 40 hours and counting until the critical Denver debate, we're going to take a live look at the hall at the University of Denver where Barack Obama and Mitt Romney go face-to-face for 90 minutes tomorrow night.

KEILAR: Now, just one slip of the tongue --

SAMBOLIN: Like I just did.

KEILAR: One slip of the tongue, even an awkward moment, this could make or break a candidate. But listen to Romney tell supporters in Denver this debate is not a competition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: People want to know who's going to win, who's going to score the punches and who's going to make the biggest difference in the arguments they make and there's going to be al the scoring and 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 -- it's about something bigger than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser is here with us this morning. It's really not about winning or losing?

KEILAR: It's not, right, Paul?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, you heard the president say similar stuff, right? Nah. You buy that? I don't buy that. You know, both these guys are in lockdown mode.

Romney is in Colorado, got there last night, did that rally, which you just showed. His advisers are telling us to try to recreate the debate conditions and that's what he'll be doing today and probably tomorrow until showdown tomorrow night.

The president, you know, he is in Nevada. He got there Sunday. He's also in lockdown mode and getting ready for the debate. But he was able to visit yesterday a local campaign office.

Look at that. Sent some pizzas to the workers and here is what he had to say about getting ready for the debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- all the time. They're making me do my homework.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: It sounds like a teenage boy explaining about his mom. OK, so, there's a new CNN poll and it shows Obama at 50, Romney at 47. This is right ahead of the debates. But you have some more in-depth polling that highlights what the candidates will probably be focusing on tomorrow night.

STEINHAUSER: Exactly, the numbers behind the numbers. That's basically a tie right there. Take a look at this. It's a domestic debate, right? So here are the issues, and who is winning on the issues right now according to our poll.

On the economy, which would probably dominate tomorrow night, take a look at that. That's about as tight as you can get right there, 49 percent for the president, 48 for Mitt Romney.

Unemployment, this is interesting, Romney with a six-point advantage and on the deficit, on the budget deficit, you can see, as well, Mitt Romney with a bit of an advantage.

SAMBOLIN: And another issue that could come up in the debate is immigration. Mitt Romney is finally taking a position on this. STEINHAUSER: Yes. In an interview just a couple of hours ago with the "Denver Post," this is interesting, this goes back to the president and that executive order he signed in June that allowed some younger children of illegal immigrants to not face deportation.

Here's what Romney said about this in the "Denver Post," the people who have received the special visa the president's 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 purchased. Before those visas have expired, we will have full immigration reform plan that I proposed. Remember, in the primaries, Mitt Romney took a pretty hard stance on illegal immigration. He said he was against the Dream Act --

SAMBOLIN: And he was for self deportation, also.

KEILAR: Making it so hard to get a job that people would self-deport.

STEINHAUSER: But a little bit of a different tone when he was in front of Univision, the Spanish Language Network, just a few weeks ago in Miami.

What do our polls show in immigration? It shows the president with a very, very slight advantage when it comes to that issue. We may hear about it tomorrow night in Denver.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, we're looking forward to that. You know, I took issue at first when I read the whole idea that I'm not going to make -- I'm not going to take something away from you that you paid for.

But then he continued on to say, that there is going to be comprehensive immigration reform. And I think at the end of the day, those are really the words that everybody's trying or hoping to hear and understand what does that really mean?

STEINHAUSER: And what are the details.

KEILAR: He said the first year. He said in the first year, right, of a Romney presidency?

STEINHAUSER: And he's criticized the president for not being able to deliver immigration reform over the last 3-1/2 years in office.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, we know this isn't the critical issue, right? Everybody really talks about the economy, but still at the end of the day, there's a lot of buzz about this.

STEINHAUSER: It matters.

SAMBOLIN: So we'll see. All right, thank you very much, Paul Steinhauser. We appreciate it. It's nice to have you in the studio as well.

STEINHAUSER: Great to finally be here. KEILAR: In the flesh, Paul Steinhauser. For the first presidential debate starts Wednesday night, you can watch it live at 7:00 Eastern on CNN and also on cnn.com.

SAMBOLIN: Meantime, Ann Romney is stumping for the votes in the battlegrounds. She told a campaign rally in Henderson, Nevada, yesterday that her husband is up to the task of being president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: This country is ready for a turnaround. This country is ready -- this country is ready for Mitt Romney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Ann Romney also said Mitt doesn't talk, he does.

KEILAR: And later today, a Pennsylvania judge is expected to decide whether to uphold a new state law that requires every voter to present a photo ID at the polls.

Opponents of the Republican-backed measure say it would keep over 900,000 people from voting and unfairly targets poor and minority voters. The judge has to decide whether everyone in the state has equal access to valid IDs before the November 6 election.

SAMBOLIN: Train versus truck. As dawn begins to break over Central California, Amtrak workers will be busy trying to put three passenger cars back on the tracks. Look at this, folks.

They derailed yesterday. This is south of Fresno. And officials say a tractor trailer failed to stop at a crossing and plowed right into the side of that train. More than 170 people were on board. As you can see there, dozens were injured. Fortunately the injuries, we understand, are not serious.

KEILAR: Meantime, rescuers in Hong Kong are searching the harbor this morning for possible survivors or victims of a horrible accident. Two passenger ferries collided last night, killing at least 37 people, and there's late word six crew members from both vessels have been arrested.

More than 100 others were tossed into the water and rescued immediately after the 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. This must have been a very certainly scary scene that played out last night in the dark. What can you tell us?

RAMY INOCENCIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Brianna. As you might expect, devastation, this tragedy has hit Hong Kong. Basically, this is being known as Hong Kong's worst ferry accident within the past 40 years, within pretty much someone's lifetime. Thirty seven people have since died. Nine others have been seriously injured. It happened last night, as you mentioned, around 8:30 p.m. that was when one boat, a ferryboat, collided with a private boat and that sent everyone, as you mentioned, into the water.

Now that boat was carrying about 120 passengers and those people had actually been on that boat for a celebration of sorts. They were there celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China, which is on October 1st.

But that fun did then turn into fear when water started gushing in after the collision. Take a look at what some people were saying.

(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 where everywhere. It was like a slide. Everything was sliding down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My leg was stuck and I 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: And Hong Kong authorities say that they have dispatched more than 200 rescue personnel along with several fire boats. Looking ahead the chief executive has said that he's going to fly all flags half mast for the next three days and they're not going to give up on the search and rescue for the next two -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And Ramy, we know that you will be monitoring that search. Ramy Inocencio for us in Hong Kong, thank you.

SAMBOLIN: And we have dramatic video from New York City. Look at this. This is a 72-year-old man hanging for dear life from his third floor apartment window and taking that leap of faith.

Friends and neighbors caught him as he escaped an out-of-control fire burning in his kitchen. That heart-stopping catch caught on cell phone video. Local stations report he did not suffer any broken bones. He's fine.

KEILAR: Amazing.

SAMBOLIN: Thank God.

KEILAR: Well, he says he's afraid to return to Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's personal cameraman seeking asylum in the U.S. He's said to be more than just a photographer. So the question is, what does he know and will he talk? We're talking to the first White House videographer about it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 12 minutes after the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar. It is a potential intelligence bonanza for the U.S. this morning. While Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in New York, making likely his final appearance before the U.N. General Assembly, a cameraman traveling with his delegation was making a covert getaway.

Contacting American authorities to seek asylum. The man identified as Hassan Golkhanban has reportedly been a part of Ahmadinejad's inner circle for several years and could be a major intelligence loss for the normally tight-lipped Iranian government.

So with us now to paint a picture of what Mr. Golkhanban might know is Arun Chaudhary. He served as the first official White House official videographer from 2009 to 2011. And he also wrote a book about it "First Cameraman" documenting the Obama presidency in realtime.

So, Arun, talk about just how close this -- this cameraman could be to Ahmadinejad. How much access he could have and really what he might be able to relay to the U.S. government if he talks.

ARUN CHAUDHARY, FIRST OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE VIDEOGRAPHER (2009-2011): Well, look, you know, photographers and videographers, they put an enormous amount of trust in us when it comes to world leader coverage.

You know, because you're not this fly on the wall like people think, you're actually part of a team. Clearly, this videographer was enough of a team that he wasn't just a state television employee, they brought him on trips. When you're on a trip you're inside the bubble.

There's very little you don't see. You know, there's a lot, probably at home that he doesn't see what's going on. But when you're in a place like New York, the diplomatic epicentre, there are things happening right and left.

KEILAR: In addition, Arun, too, just the skills of being a cameraman or a videographer, I mean, the discretion is almost as important as the skills of this person, right?

CHAUDHARY: Absolutely. I mean, it's one of the main qualifications you would think for a job like this. You know, when we talk about this in terms of American stuff we're always talking about what do you film and how do you release it?

That's what kind of trust that was put in me. Am I going to put something on YouTube errantly? But when it comes to something, a regime like the Iranian regime, obviously they have enormous security control and security concerns.

KEILAR: So you -- I was going to say, you spent a couple of years very close to President Obama. What kinds of things do you learn being that close to a leader?

CHAUDHARY: Well, you know, I think, like I put together a predator drone missile? Like no. Obviously you have your job to do. So, you see things but you don't absorb them.

But I think the most valuable thing you learn is the body language of someone. You know, their tells, so to speak. You know, it's useful for me to know President Obama so well, because when I'm filming him, I can kind of drift in close up and I know which way he's going to turn and that's sort of useful when making a campaign commercial.

But when it comes to intelligence gathering, I think it would be an enormous boon for our experts to talk to someone who knows the body language of someone so intimately. When you look to someone through a lens constantly, you know, you learn an enormous amount about how they move and how they think.

KEILAR: Can you imagine sort of the process of this cameraman, and what he went through trying to defect? I mean obviously this is, you know, a choice with a lot of danger in it. Can you imagine how he was able to execute that in New York while going through his normal duties?

CHAUDHARY: Well, I think New York is probably a good place to execute it. But, it's -- there's so many moving parts on a foreign trip like this. You know, and so many schedules to keep and places and people you have to check in with just to make sure you have your proper credentials and things.

So to just have a plan to do his job and get through the day is hard enough. But to have a covert plan on the side is extraordinary. It shows extraordinary courage.

KEILAR: Back to the body language thing where you said that you kind of know, like you know President Obama's tells. You know his emotions. What do you think if this cameraman is being questioned, what are the questions that he should be asked? What might he be able to relay?

CHAUDHARY: I think that he can tell, you know, probably the stress level this regime is under. I know they're under increasing pressure. I think the fact that you see someone so trusted as this defecting is a big tell in itself. I mean, there's tens of thousands of government photographers and videographers and you don't hear about this that often.

So it seems the trust they place in us is well-placed. So I think he probably has a lot of stories to tell about the pressures, and the fissures happening all the way at the top.

KEILAR: Yes. And we'll see if he provides those eyes to the U.S. government.

Arun Chaudhary, White House videographer and author of "First Cameraman: Documenting the Obama Presidency in Real Time" -- thank you for being with us.

CHAUDHARY: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: And coming up on "STARTING POINT," we'll hear from Khanban's lawyer Paul Dwyer at 7:15.

SAMBOLIN: And coming up, a new complaint against a big bank has been filed over the housing bubble. Are they finally being held accountable?

Our own Christine Romans has what you need to know, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: We are minding your business this morning. U.S. stock futures signal a higher opening for stocks today and markets closed higher yesterday. Love to see those green arrows after reports showed American factory activity expanded last month.

KEILAR: Christine joining us now with our other top stories this morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, you two.

First off, the fiscal cliff will likely cost you about $3,500. That's new analysis from the Tax Policy Center. You have been hearing me complain -- that's a nice word -- about the fiscal cliff for months now.

This graphic from CNN Money breaks down the data by income. Take a look on the left, look at the blue bar how much money do you make? Now look over on the right, that's how much more you will pay. Middle income earners will see an average increase of about $2,000. A tax increase.

The fiscal cliff, of course, is Congress' doing. It's massive tax increases and spending cuts because they couldn't agree on deficit reduction. It happens the beginning of the year. It can be avoided if Congress acts. But no one is sure when, if, or how they will do it.

Now also this morning, the New York attorney general has filed suit against JPMorgan over the risky mortgage-backed securities that were packaged and sold during the housing bubble. The civil suit alleges that Bear Stearns, which JPMorgan now owns and is responsible for, misled investors into thinking those toxic mortgage loans had been fully evaluated. The complaint also says even when Bear Stearns found out that there were problems, the bank failed to disclose material information to investors.

Total losses, of course, from those mortgage-backed securities, oh, a mere $22.5 billion, in 2006 and 2007. A big problem there.

And attention smart shoppers. Here's what to buy and what not to buy in October, according to dealnews.com. Halloween costumes -- the week before Halloween, this is when they're cheap as retailers try to unload their inventory and the final days before the holiday. Jeans -- back-to-school styles are left over and they're usually marked down. You can stock up on shrubbery, floral bulbs, gardening items, all that kind of stuff that will last you the winter.

Here's what to avoid, cold weather clothes. The best sales are in January. Wait.

New electronics. Better to wait until Black Friday and after.

Big appliances, like washers, dryers, refrigerators, Deal News says the best markdowns come in November.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks for sharing. We appreciate it.

And what's the one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: One thing we need to know about your money -- we heard from Ben Bernanke yesterday, the Federal Reserve chief. He's a scholar of the Great Depression. He is pledging again, ladies, that we are going to avoid another Great Depression. He's promising to keep stimulus going until even after, even after the economy starts to recover to make sure we don't repeat the mistakes made into the 1930s, which is when we pulled our foot off the accelerator too soon in the economy.

And just as it was starting to recover, we started to tighten monetary policy and, boom, threw the economy into the second Great Depression. The Great Depression scholar Ben Bernanke is trying everything we can to make sure we don't fall down again.

SAMBOLIN: It's comforting to hear that, isn't it?

ROMANS: Well, some people are concerned that it will cause inflation down the road but everyone is trying to keep the ship sailing right now.

SAMBOLIN: All right. And you've got road warriors?

ROMANS: That's right. Another road warriors for you. OK. So here you, if you're a business traveler, looking to meet others while you're on a trip, good news. There are now plenty of apps and services to help you do that.

IMGuest is a social networking site for executives available in more than 140,000 hotels worldwide. It works by scanning your profile and suggesting other compatible members nearby you might want to connect with. You can also post your travel plans on sites like TripIt, Air Productions, and Plan Cast. Travelers using those services to socialize and cost cut by sharing cabs.

SAMBOLIN: That's a great idea.

ROMANS: And even getting group hotel discounts.

Now, flyers looking to make the most of their down time can try Planely. Passengers submit their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, and Planely connects them with other travelers wanting to network while you're traveling for your job. And if you're (AUDIO GAP) more than to be left alone.

KEILAR: Yes, that's me!

ROMANS: Airlines like Air New Zealand and Spain's Vueling, they're going to seat you -- they'll keep it open seat next to you for under 100 bucks depending on how far you're flying.

KEILAR: Anti-social surcharge.

ROMANS: I want to upgrade to no one talk to me, please. How much does that cost?

KEILAR: Very funny.

ROMANS: Spain's Vueling and Air New Zealand.

SAMBOLIN: Subscribe. Thank you very much.

All right. Next on EARLY START, LeBron James has some huge endorsement deals. This one is not one of them. That's coming up.

And then drug dealer busted selling LeBron labeled heroin. Oh, my goodness.

If you are leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desk top or your mobile phone just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: It is 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're going to break it down.

KEILAR: And 2 percent to 3 percent of infants are allergic to milk. But could there be a solution with a very special cow?

SAMBOLIN: Looking forward to hearing about that. And Ikea is now apologizing for this ad. It airbrushed all the women out. Why they did it, is just ahead.

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

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Twenty-nine minutes past the hour.

KEILAR: The first presidential debate coming up tomorrow night. President Obama just three points ahead of Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the latest CNN/ORC poll. That is within the poll's margin of error. Meaning that it's anybody's game.

SAMBOLIN: And both candidates are pulling the political equivalent of an all-nighter in preparation for their first face-to-face showdown.

President Obama spoke to a supporter after stopping at a campaign office in Nevada.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Indoors all the time. It's a drag. They're making me do my homework.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAMBOLIN: Ryan Lizza is back with us this morning. He's a CNN contributor and a Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker."

Everybody is saying it's not about winning. But of course it is. What does Romney need to do? Let's start with him?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think he's got three challenges here because he's down. When you're down in the polls, going into the debate, that raises expectations for you. And traditionally the first debate is the most important.

So, the first thing he needs to do is policy. He needs to get a little bit more specific than he has, some of the polls. That's what the undecided voters want. That's the swing voters want. They want to hear not just why Obama's failed but what exactly Mitt Romney would do as president. He didn't do that in his convention speech.

The other thing that's odd about Romney's campaign right now is he has an upside down favorability. More voters are saying they have an unfavorable view of him than a favorable one. He's got to find a way to fix that. And frankly debates are not traditionally a great form to do that. Debates have helped candidates like Ronald Reagan in 1980, or even Barack Obama in 2008, when the question was, is this new guy up to the job? People think Romney's up to the job, they just have this other set of questions about him. So he's got to do something about likability. Not easy to do.

Finally, he needs to get past this comment he made that Obama has just been hammering on him. Hammering him on. The fact that, you know --

KEILAR: Forty-seven percent.

LIZZA: Forty-seven percent of the electorate is dependent on government, won't vote for him. He needs to find a way to explain that and get past it. That's a lot of homework for one debate.

KEILAR: That is a lot, maybe too heavy of a lift. Some people might say it's going to be very tough.

President Obama, as he's going into this, what are his objectives?

LIZZA: Look, he's got a similar set of objectives but it's much easier. He's leading. He's going to want to play defense. He's going to want to sit on his lead and play it safe. That's what his consultants will be telling him.

He's got to do what he's been doing all campaign. Emphasize some of the positives of a tough four years in office. But switch it back to why this is a choice and not a referendum. It's not just up or down vote on Romney -- excuse me on Obama, but that it is this other guy that's not looking out for you and his policies won't work for you.

He's got to do this set of positives about his term in office but then go negative a little bit on Romney and he's going to do it in a subtle way, because nobody likes the president of the United States to be up there snarling at one of his opponents. And then finally, he has to -- the sort of personal thing he needs to do is make sure he doesn't seem too overconfident or smug. We all remember some of the moments from the 2008 campaign, where he seemed a little -- a little cocky, like he had things in the bag, and there were a few moments in those debates against Hillary Clinton --

SAMBOLIN: Let's play that for everyone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's very likable. I -- I agree with that. I don't think I'm that bad.

OBAMA: You're likable enough, Hillary.

CLINTON: Thank you so much. I appreciate that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LIZZA: So I think his advisers in the paper this morning where they're saying that this is a danger for him. And, look, I don't think there's a lot of -- I don't think these two men like each other very much. They don't know each other. It doesn't seem that the Obama campaign has much respect for Romney.

And so, he's got to make sure that he doesn't let that show.

KEILAR: You think they'll be fighting? I mean your impression that these candidates will be fighting, showing disdain for each other?

LIZZA: I think a little bit. I think a little bit. If you hear the way their advisers talk about each other it doesn't show -- it doesn't seem like there's a healthy respect for one another, as there have been in some presidential campaigns.

I think bigger danger is for Obama. You don't want an "aha" moment where everyone says, oh my God, maybe this race has just changed because of the way he treated Romney onstage. So Obama has to play it safe.

SAMBOLIN: There's been a lot of talk about how Romney actually did in the debates during the primary and how this will be different. I wanted to read this. This was a debate with the president will be much different during the Republican primary.

Neera Tanden, who oversaw Hillary Clinton's debate prep, said this, "No one punished Mitt Romney for being mean to Rick Santorum. The problem for Governor Romney is that he has to be across from the president of the United States, attack him, and still seem likable. That's a harder thing to do."

And particularly if you're Mitt Romney, right, because you know, a lot of folks believe that, you know, he's having a very, very hard time being likeable.

LIZZA: Absolutely. And when you attack your opponent, your favorability often declines. That's a bigger problem for Romney whose favorability is lower.

On the other hand, one thing that Romney has that helps him is he's the challenger. He's now going in on equal footing with the president of the United States. And that raises his stature. So for the first time the voters will see him standing there next to the president, look at him and see how presidential he looks. That helps.

That has helped previous candidates. That helped Reagan against Carter. That helped Obama in 2008 against -- that was different because McCain wasn't president.

But it helps when you're a challenger and you stand there next to the president of the United States. It can raise your stature and that can help Romney.

SAMBOLIN: Can I put you on the spot and ask you who you think is going to fare better?

LIZZA: Oh, boy. You know, I've been wrong on so many predictions.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: Let's see. You could be right on this one.

LIZZA: Look my basic view of this is that by the time we get into October, a lot of voters have made up their mind. Undecided voters, early voting has already started.

SAMBOLIN: Are you --

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: I'm getting to it. Downplay the drama of the debates but the truth is, you know, historically the conventions have mattered a lot more than the debates. And by this time in the campaign, it's really hard to change.

SAMBOLIN: That's true but sometimes they have mattered, right?

KEILAR: Don't mess up.

LIZZA: Look, Kerry, even though he lost, he improved his standing quite a bit in 2004 in the period of the debates. So Romney can pick up some ground. It's a close race.

But I'm sticking with my prediction of the debates aren't going to matter that much.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Ryan Lizza.

LIZZA: Not to drain all the drama for them. But --

SAMBOLIN: All right. Ryan, we appreciate it. Thank you.

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 are all ready to be filled. Once again the first presidential debate is tomorrow night.

Our live coverage begins at 7:00 Eastern on CNN, and on CNN.com.

KEILAR: A video posted on YouTube appears to show American freelance journalist Austin Tice who has been missing in Syria since mid-August. In the 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.

And his family and two news organizations that he works for say the man is Tice but the State Department says it cannot verify that it's him.

SAMBOLIN: And new details this morning about that deadly shooting spree at a Minneapolis sign company. That was last week.

Police now say that the gunman, an employee at the firm, was summoned to see his bosses, but before he stopped by the executive office. Andrew Engeldinger went to his car and picked up two guns. Police say as soon as he was told he was fired, Engeldinger killed five coworkers before committing suicide. And there was a struggle for one weapon inside that office.

Allergy-free milk for kids may be a step closer. Scientists in New Zealand believe they made a breakthrough using a genetically modified cow. They bred the cow to produce a hypoallergenic milk with reduced amounts of a protein that is believed to be the leading cause of milk allergies in children.

KEILAR: And a rough Monday night for Tony Romo. The Chicago Bears intercepting Romo five times, that's right, in a 34-18 drubbings of the Dallas Cowboys. Two of those picks were returned for touchdowns. The five interceptions matching a career high for the Cowboys' quarterback. Rough game.

SAMBOLIN: I didn't know it was against the Chicago Bears. Go Bears.

All right. A Philadelphia area drug dealer gets busted selling bags of heroin with LeBron James' name and his image stamped on them. Police say the 19-year-old was arrested after he tried to sell 140 of the LeBron drug packets for $750 to an undercover officer.

KEILAR: It's called blood spill race and we now know that is a reason. A skateboarder has a very unusual collision during a practice downhill run. We'll show that to you again and break it down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Welcome back to EARLY START. Forty-two minutes after the hour. I'm Brianna Keilar.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Glad to have you with us.

KEILAR: As we said 42 after the hour. Let's get you up to date.

Tomorrow night's critical presidential debate is less than 40 hours away. And both candidates are busy prepping for the 90-minute showdown. Mitt Romney is already in Denver and the president has hunkered down, not too far away in Nevada, holding a three-point lead among likely voters in the latest CNN/ORC poll. I should mention that's within the margin of error, neck and neck.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Rescuers in Hong Kong are searching the harbor this morning for possible survivors or victims of a just horrible accident. Two passenger ferries collided last night, killing at least 37 people. Police say that six crew members from both vessels have been arrested now. More than 100 people were tossed into the water, and rescued immediately after that 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.

SAMBOLIN: And take a look at this nail-biting video. This is in New York City. That's a 72-year-old man who is hanging there for dear life from his third floor apartment window. He took that leap of faith, friends and neighbors caught him as he was escaping an out-of- control fire in his kitchen.

This dramatic catch caught on a cell phone and local stations are reporting that Ronnie Poe did not suffer any broken bones. Lucky, lucky man.

SAMBOLIN: No kidding.

We expect to find out today if two soil samples from the latest dig for Jimmy Hoffa's remains indicate a body was buried under a shed in suburban Detroit. Even if there is evidence of a body, we won't know whether it's the missing teamster boss. A tipster claimed he saw a body buried on that property a day after Hoffa disappeared back in 1975.

KEILAR: And another interesting thing caught on camera. Man versus deer. This is a viral video.

SAMBOLIN: What are the chances of that happening, Brianna, right?

KEILAR: Happens to cars. I guess to a skate border it's going to happen at some point. This is a skate border who is slamming into a deer, a downhill race in Colorado. The crash actually looks a lot worse than it was.

The deer, the skateboarder said broke his fall. The deer was not injured. Very important to remind people. And the skateboarder got a little bit of road rash. So, both of them walked away OK.

SAMBOLIN: That's good news, because that does look bad, doesn't it?

Let's a check of the forecast with meteorologist Rob Marciano. Are you a skateboarder or ever had a close encounter with a deer or anything else?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I was when I was a kid. No. But I can just see that becoming like a training video for when kids do, because they're doing crazier and crazier things now.

SAMBOLIN: Right.

MARCIANO: So, --

SAMBOLIN: Training video.

All right, Rob.

MARCIANO: It's all about safety. Rainfall yesterday was heavy at times from Memphis back to Birmingham, Montgomery, Alabama, and Atlanta. In most cases, they needed the rain, but in some cases, it created some flooding. North Georgia got a lot of it, 6.3 inches in Flowery Branch.

Gainesville saw almost six inches, Chattanooga 2 1/2, and Atlanta seeing almost two. A couple of days, total there, almost three inches in Atlanta. Still some leftover rain showers if you're traveling to Miami, bring along the, well, you know, tropical kind of rain showers, you know -- Atlanta, the rain has moved off to the east.

The Carolinas seeing some rainfall right now. And this is kind of spotty showers. D.C. to New York, we're going to get into the warm sector of this storm so it will begin to feel kind of muggy and showery at times. The main prep for seeing isolated thunderstorms that could bring tornadoes Pittsburgh back through Cincinnati today.

A midsection of the country looking pretty good, including Denver. Eighty degrees expected the next couple of days, including Wednesday. But then, maybe some rain mixed with snow the night of the debate, probably after the debate, as this front drops down to the south. Today, it's going to bring gusts 30 to 40 miles an hour and that could spark some fire danger.

Temperatures in SoCal will be well into the 90s. Sacramento may even hit 100 degrees today. So, they are still sizzling. Seventy expected in Chicago.

SAMBOLIN: You said rain mixed with snow?

MARCIANO: That's the way it -- you know, it's Denver. Come on! It's mile high.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Come on. Yes.

MARCIANO: You know, we're in October.

KEILAR: It's early. Early October.

MARCIANO: After an 82-degree high.

SAMBOLIN: No kidding.

MARCIANO: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Well, thanks, Rob, for the warning. MARCIANO: You bet.

SAMBOLIN: Forty-six minutes past the hour. John Berman and Christine Romans are filling in for Soledad O'Brien who is on assignment. And Christine joins us now with a look at what's ahead.

ROMANS: Yes. A lot coming up this morning, guys. We're following a developing story ahead on "STARTING POINT". A television cameraman who traveled to the U.N. with the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that cameraman has now defected here in New York.

Right now he's hiding out, we're told, in an undisclosed location, saying he's in fear for his life. Coming up, we're speaking with his lawyer, live.

Devastating new details this morning about Operation Fast and Furious. Did drug cartel leaders carry out a hit on innocent teenagers using weapons they got from President Obama's administration? We're talking to one of the men behind the hard-hitting new report that's raising an awful lot of questions this morning about Fast and Furious.

Plus, the countdown to tomorrow night's high-stakes presidential debate, what you might hear from the candidates.

And the classic, "Princess Bride" turns 25. Inconceivable. Inconceivable. Superstar/actor of that show is going to stop by our studio live to talk about, 25 years later, what it's meant like such a cult classic. I was told this morning to call it a cult classic is underplaying it. That it's more than a cult classic.

KEILAR: Really?

SAMBOLIN: Wow!

ROMANS: That's what John Berman says, so stay tuned.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

KEILAR: Thanks, Christine.

IKEA now apologizing for this ad that removed women. So, the question is why did they do it? We're talking to a branding strategist about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fifty-one minutes past the hour. Do you look forward to getting that big, colorful IKEA catalog in the mail? They go out all around the world, but the ones in Saudi Arabia are missing something. See if you can spot the difference. Here's a picture from the American version of the catalog, and here's the version that people in Saudi Arabia saw.

It's a pretty glaring difference there, right? You don't have to look too closely to see what's missing. And here's another picture from the American version, and the same shot as it appeared in Saudi Arabia. That's right. The women have been removed from the Saudi version.

So, let's talk about this with Peter Shankman. He is a branding strategist. Thanks for being with us this morning. Why did IKEA make this decision?

PETER SHANKMAN, BRANDING STRATEGIST: You know, it's a tough move. I feel for them in a way. When you're selling globally, you have to be aware of all of the different ways of life around the world. And what flies in America might not fly in Saudi Arabia. What flies in Canada might not fly in Peru.

It really varies if you're a global company. And so, the outsourcing group that they used to build this catalog worldwide said oh, well Saudi Arabia, it's a very respective state for women. Their women have very little rights there. And whether -- in America whether we believe that to be normal or OK or not is irrelevant to how they're selling in Saudi Arabia.

If you're selling in a country that has specific rules and specific rights, you need to appeal to those rights. Is it correct? It depends on whose point of view you're looking at.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. IKEA did release a statement about this, and they said we should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalog is in conflict with the IKEA group values. Does this decision that they made and then consequently the statement that they're releasing actually affect their brand, do you think?

SHANKMAN: It's not going to affect their brand in the long run. I mean, it's not -- they haven't done something that's going to be a huge, new story for a long period of time. But they do need to be aware that anything they do in one place, like the butterfly effect, anything they do in one place definitely has differences and boundaries in another place.

So if you're doing something in Saudi Arabia, with the internet and with 24 hour news cycles, that's going to get back to other cultures and other people. And so, even if it seems offensive in one place or non-offensive in another place, it's going to offend someone.

When that happens in commercials around the world all the time, you really need to walk a very fine line if you're a global brand such as IKEA is.

SAMBOLIN: Well, they're kind of backtracking now. So do you know what went into making that decision in the first place?

SHANKMAN: I would be willing to bet the decision to airbrush the women out of the catalog wasn't even theirs. I'm willing to bet that they probably outsourced that catalog. Keep in mind, they have multiple catalogs all around the world for different households and different countries. So, I'm willing to bet they didn't even see that.

I'm willing to bet this was a company in the Middle East that did that, and that was their logic. And then when IKEA -- when it was brought to IKEA's attention, the story was broken by a metro newspaper. So, a little small newspaper that broke the story and then, of course, it was put on the internet and became a bigger thing. And so, they had to release a statement, but I would bet they didn't even see it to begin with.

SAMBOLIN: And it kind of became a bigger deal for us here, right?

SHANKMAN: Of course, because that's not something we're aware of. You know, we look at a catalog of house wares and homewards. We expect women and men and kids to be in them. And, you know, women in their bathrobes, in their pajamas and all that. We're perfectly OK with that. That's not necessarily OK in other parts of the country just because of the value systems they have there.

SAMBOLIN: So, if you were advising them, what would you advice --

SHANKMAN: If I'm advising them, I would say the next step -- they're already issuing a policy, let it go. You know, it's not going to be a very big story. Let it go. And the next catalog, they might want to take a more hands-on approach.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Peter Shankman, branding strategist, thank you for being with us this morning. We appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: And just ahead, the "Best Advice" from journalist Lynn Povich. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Fifty-eight minutes past the hour. We wrap it up as always with "Best Advice."

KEILAR: And today's "Best Advice" comes from journalist, Lynn Povich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYNN POVICH, JOURNALIST: The best advice I received was something I experienced myself, which was that I wanted to change the system at "Newsweek," but I wanted to be in the system. So even though I wasn't a rebel and troublemaker, you can make a change from inside if you organize, if you get men and women together to make the change, you can do it yourself.

And women have to push themselves forward to ask for those raises and to get what they want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Take away?

KEILAR: Totally agree. I say that to my girlfriends. It say, it is -- it is a business decision. You ask for something. What's the worst that could happen? No. You told no.

SAMBOLIN: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: -- trail blazer. Somebody good to listen to, as well.

All right. That is it for EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar. "STARTING POINT" starts right now.