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Debate Preps Underway; Political Film's Fictional Voter; Possible Link to Infamous Massacre; "Princess Bride" Turns 25

Aired October 2, 2012 - 08:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's introduce today's team: Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker", Roland Martin, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin", of course.


BERMAN: Will Cain, columnist for All fans of "The Princess Bride," right?

MARTIN: The man has never seen the movie.


BERMAN: It's a lot like "The Princess Bride."

MARTIN: Leather coat. Guns.


MARTIN: Just checking.

BERMAN: Our STARTING POINT this morning: countdown to the showdown. Debate night.

This is the first live look inside the hall where President Obama and Governor Romney, they will face off tomorrow night. Two will enter; one will leave. The candidates are cramming, working to get ready for a debate focus on domestic policy.

President Obama was joking about it yesterday to a supporter at a phone bank in Nevada.


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.


BERMAN: And Mitt Romney put his own spin on the debates last night as well at a rally in Denver, trying to frame sort of how they will be judged.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: In my view, it's not so much winning or losing, or even the people themselves, the President or 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. And the American people are going to have to make their choice as to what kind of America they want.


BERMAN: Now based on the latest CNN national poll, there is a lot at stake here. The candidates are very much within the margin of error of each other.

And we're joined now by Ted Strickland, the former Democratic governor of Ohio. He's also a co-chair right now of the Obama campaign.

Good morning. Nice to see you, Governor Strickland.


BERMAN: So, the polls, over the last few days, there has been some tightening. If you look at the CNN poll, for instance right now, President Obama enjoys a three-point lead. A little while ago, it was a six-point lead. We've been talking to political operatives around the country and people in the business, and they all feel like the race has tightened some.

Does this make you nervous?

STRICKLAND: Not at all. I mean, the latest poll in Ohio from "The Columbus Dispatch" has the President at nine points, Senator Brown at 10 points. So, I think here in Ohio, if anything, the margin has actually widened in recent days.

And in the battleground states especially, the President seems to be doing very well.

BERMAN: So, you have no fear that the President peaked too early?

STRICKLAND: Well, you always have a little fear. But I've got great confidence in this president and the campaign. The campaign here in Ohio is the strongest I've ever seen -- the grassroots effort, the local efforts to get out the vote. I think we're going to do OK.

You don't count your chickens before they hatch and we're not going to do that. But we're voting in Ohio beginning today. And people stayed up all night, camped out all night here in Ohio, waiting to be able to cast their votes this morning.

That shows the enthusiasm that exists here in our great state.

BERMAN: The big news, of course, this week is the presidential debates. And a lot has been about President Obama's past debate performances. In fact, it's been his own advisers saying he was frankly awful over the years, which is always shocking to here. But there are examples of Mr. Obama having some issues with tone in past debates.

Let's listen to a famous moment.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D) FORMER 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.


BERMAN: Now, Roland Martin is here, saying that was a funny line. A lot of people thought it came off as smug at best and a lot else at worse.

Are you worried about the President's tone in this debate?

STRICKLAND: No. I think both candidates are going to be well- prepared obviously. I don't expect any major gaffes from either candidate. Quite frankly, I don't expect a race to change as much as a result of this debate or future debates.

You know, these people have been on the political scene for months or years. Most Americans, I think, have already made up their minds. There may be, you know, a small number that are undecided. But if those undecideds were to break evenly, I think the President is going to win this election by a huge margin.

BERMAN: The margin right now looks anything but huge. I mean, it's razor thin within the margin of error.

The Republicans have also taken up something of a new campaign line over the last few days, saying we can't afford another four years of President Obama. The Romney campaign has released an ad. Also American Crossroads, one of these super PACs, has released an ad that focuses on this issue. I think we have a little bit of that ad to play right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spending drove us $5 trillion deeper in debt and now we have fewer jobs than when he started.

What Obama promised versus what he delivered.

ANNOUNCER: American Crossroads is responsible for the content of this advertising.


BERMAN: That ad hits a lot of points we talked about in this campaign. Do they have something there, that he did not deliver on the promises he made four years ago? STRICKLAND: Well, I don't think they do, because Americans understand that this president inherited the most difficult of circumstances, having lost about 750,000, almost 800,000 jobs in the month he came into office. This recession, he inherited, it was caused by the same policies that Mr. Romney would take us back to.

BERMAN: But unemployment is. Median income is down.

STRICKLAND: You know, in Ohio -- and I'm --

BERMAN: But there are 47 other states. Unemployment around the country is up.

STRICKLAND: There are 49 other states but there are a handful of swing states. And my understanding is looking at the latest polls, that every swing state, perhaps say North Carolina -- and that's considered a toss-up -- the President has at least a slight lead. And in some states, like Ohio, a very sizable lead.

BERMAN: He may have a lead but that doesn't mean unemployment is down there.

STRICKLAND: No, it doesn't. Well, in our state, unemployment is much improved. We are below the national average. And that's because the President saved the auto industry. That's because the President passed the Recovery Act.

And so, we're starting to see here in the Midwest, in these manufacturing states, manufacturing come back. The President has provided that kind of leadership. You can't argue with the success that we've experienced here in Ohio.

But that success, I think, is being seen in, you know, Michigan, and in Pennsylvania and many other states that are critical to the outcome of this election.

BERMAN: Governor, I think the Republicans are arguing with that success, if you're calling success around the country an unemployment rate higher than when he took office, median income which is lower than when he took office. If that's success, doesn't President Obama have a problem going forward?

STRICKLAND: The President took office, I repeat myself, under the most difficult of circumstances -- a recession that was caused by the same policies that Mitt Romney would take us back to. There are no new ideas except to privatize Social Security, to voucherize Medicare, to cut Pell grants. I mean, that's the Obama agenda -- or the Romney agenda.

And that's why the American people are not accepting Mr. Romney and his leadership. Listen, he has been around for months. He says, you know, I've got some opportunities to tell the people what my vision is.

What's he been telling the people over last eight or nine or 10 months? The American people have heard his story. They have listened to Paul Ryan and they have rejected their approach. They are embracing this president's agenda because he's got us headed in the right direction. Things are improving in America and we ought not to just turn around and go back to the same failed policies that brought on this recession in the first place.

BERMAN: All right. Governor Strickland, it's always a pleasure to speak with you. Thanks for coming in this morning. Did you ever see "The Princess Bride"? Last question.

STRICKLAND: Thank you.

BERMAN: We'll never find out the answer to that question, maybe most important.

MARTIN: Go home and watch "The Princess Bride". Don't do it.


BERMAN: It's 25 anniversary of the movie.

"The Princess Bride" aside there, what do you make of what Governor Strickland said there?

WILL CAIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The President's cold and confident nature, I think for some, comes off as overconfident, can come off as condescending. You played that clip with Hillary Clinton.

I think when you're seeking power, that's not necessarily a negative. It projects authority. The question is, how does that play when you have power? He's already the one in the office. Will it come off as condescending and smug against Mitt Romney? I think it's a tricky thing he has to maneuver.

MARTIN: They're sitting at home, the last thing you're thinking about right now is what's going to be the tone of Mitt Romney and President Obama? What they want to know is what are you going to do? How are you going to make my life better over the next four years?

We spent more time focused, talking about what -- when I say we I mean a broad media, superficial stuff, what color tie they have on, how are they standing, were they sighing, as opposed to what had did they say? That's what matters to somebody sitting out there who hasn't made their mind of.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This comes to someone criticizing the color of my tie before.

MARTIN: Dude, think about it. You need some color, Ryan.

LIZZA: Governor Strickland's comments -- he sounds like -- I'm surprised how optimistic he is. He basically sounds like someone who believes the race is over and that Obama has this sewn up.


MARTIN: A sour surrogate, though. LIZZA: Kudos to him for saying what he believes. But usually these guys come on right before the debate, play expectations down, talk about what a great debater Romney is and how terrible Obama is, he sounds like it's over. I mean, Strickland is making sound like it's over.

MARTIN: I have to say, though, I've been sick of this whole notion of playing down expectations.



ROMANS: All right. Let's get to other top stories this morning, you guys, because Romney is promising to honor temporary work permits for younger illegal immigrants who were allowed to remain in the U.S. after that executive order was signed by President Obama this summer.

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

BERMAN: Updating you on another tight race, Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown and challenger Elizabeth Warren, they squared off in their second debate last night. Now, Brown tried to paint himself as an outsider in a dysfunctional Washington. Yesterday, Warren accused Brown of talking a big game on this bipartisan credentials, but she he makes a different case behind closed doors. He also said Republicans, including Brown, are out to block President Obama's economic agenda.

ROMANS: Could the -- wow!

BERMAN: Football player.

ROMANS: Could the defection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's personal photographer be an intelligence windfall for the U.S.? Hassan Gol Khanban accompanied the Iranian president to New York for the U.N. General Assembly, but then he never left. He's now in hiding and seeking asylum in the U.S.

Earlier on STARTING POINT, we asked his American attorney why he felt he had to leave.


PAUL O'DWYER, ATTORNEY FOR IRANIAN CAMERAMAN SEEKING ASYLUM IN U.S.: He does not want to continue to live in the regime. He is offended by how the regime treats people, about how it treats its enemies, about it treats the Iranian people, about the level of persecution there, and he also has concerns now about his own safety.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: His attorney tells us that the videographer's family has also fled Iran.

BERMAN: Those of who have the iPhone 5, better check your data usage. Ryan Lizza, that means you. Apple support forums online are being overloaded with complaints about a bug that drains data cellular data usage, even when the phones are connected to Wi-Fi. This is forcing people to blow through their data caps in a matter of days. Apple has not publicly commented but did already release a software upgrade with a bug fix.

ROMANS: All right. A very rough Monday night for Tony Romo and the Chicago Bears. The Bears picking off the Dallas quarterback five times. Count it, one, two, three, four, five times.

MARTIN: Five times, girl.

ROMANS: On national TV, and the 34-18 thrashing of the Cowboys. Two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

The five interceptions matched a career high for Cowboys quarterback.

CAIN: Tony Romo special last night. It happens about every five, six games.

ROMANS: Christine, I'm going to put a Houston, Texas, lapel pin on Cain that he wants --

BERMAN: That's just cold.

ROMANS: It was a rough night.

BERMAN: There was one more sports story, my personal favorite. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers had a huge night last night. Right now, he's leading in all three Triple Crown categories right now for the Detroit Tigers. He would be the first player to win the Triple Crown since 1967. The player then was --


BERMAN: Thank you very much, Boston Red Sox. Will Cain --


BERMAN: I don't think we're talking enough about Miguel Cabrera. Winning the Triple Crown would be -- no, in general.

LIZZA: We can talk the rest of the show.

BERMAN: It would be -- we have to talk about "The Princess Bride", Ryan.

ROMANS: But, first, we have to talk about this mocumentary, because when we come back, guys, we're going to talk about this mocumentary. Imagine to Iowa, right, you're followed by a film crew.

MARTIN: Right.

ROMANS: End up on ABC News, but it's not real. None of it was real.

BERMAN: Meanwhile, a very real movie we will be talking about. You can tell it's the most exciting thing that's ever happened to any of us here - it's the 25th anniversary of "The Princess Bride." We will have that man, Westley himself, also the Dread Pirate Roberts, the farm boy, in here to talk about this epic film.

We are very excited. Stay with us.


WALLACE SHAWN, VIZZINI IN "THE PRINCESS BRIDE": He didn't fall? Inconceivable!

MANDY PATINKIN, INIGO MONTOYA IN "THE PRINCESS BRIDE": You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.



BERMAN: All right. So, before the break, we showed you this bit of trivia. Which actor was originally considered for the role of Vizzini in "The Princess Bride"? The answer: Danny Devito.

ROMANS: Really?

BERMAN: Yes. Imagine if that happened. Actually, like --

ROMANS: The history books would be so different.

MARTIN: They're weeping right now.

BERMAN: Where would we be today? Roland, you've got to have a better attitude about "The Princess Bride."

MARTIN: No. I'm just, you know -- I mean, I'm just trying to --

BERMAN: You've got 20 minutes to develop a better attitude here.

ROMANS: For the record, I'm with you, Roland. OK.


ROMANS: It's easy to forget the long, rough road that Romney took -- peanut gallery here. It's easy to forget the long, rough road that Romney took to become the GOP nominee, lots of hugs and gladhanding, meeting people like Janeane Wilson from Iowa, a self-described conservative housewife who was followed around by a film crew, documenting every step of the democratic process.


ROMNEY: Hi, there. How are you? Can I get a hug there? Thank you.


ROMNEY: Thanks for being here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want a hug, too.

ROMNEY: How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need jobs. We need jobs back here in Iowa.


BERMAN: Now, Janeane eventually got face time with Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney. The problem, it was all a lie. Janeane Wilson was a character created by actress Jane Edith Wilson and directed by Grace Lee in a new film titled "Janeane From Des Moines."

And they both join us now from Los Angeles. And, guys, our first question to you is, why? Why do this? Why go out as a fake voter and make this documentary?

GRACE LEE, DIRECTOR, "JANEANE FROM DES MOINES": Well, first of all, I wouldn't wall it a documentary. We made this film because sort of in an election season, we see how polarized politics is in the U.S. And we really wanted to have like a conversation about, you know, the gap between campaign trail rhetoric and the everyday reality of people like Janeane from Des Moines.

ROMANS: But isn't that something that people were doing, real Janeanes from Des Moines? I mean, you look at the media at present and so many of the swing states and it's well documented. You've got people in campaign rallies with hidden cameras. You've got ambush, you know, ambush reporters.

You've got lots and lots of coverage from inside and outside the campaigns. What does your film, if it's not a documentary like it's a mockumentary, what does it show that people weren't getting from all the other various forms of media covering the election?

LEE: Well, basically, I mean, we wanted to start a conversation about, you know, where is this gap between the campaign trail rhetoric from politicians and everyday reality of people like Janeane. So, we really wanted to explore, you know, what would happen if somebody like Janeane, who is a conservative, had to face the contradiction in her life?

And the story, you know, she basically losing everything. And she has to -- you know, she loses her job, she loses her health care, she gets sick, and she needs to confront these problems. And she needs to talk to the campaign -- the candidates about what's going on with her.

ROMANS: So, Jane, you were playing the role of Janeane, but no one on the other side knew you were playing a role. So, It's almost improv, what you were doing.


ROMANS: So, tell me a little bit about that.

Well, basically, I had, you know, my character and where I was coming from and, you know, my point of view where I lived, my job. I was playing somebody who was a home health care worker. And as we started the process of filming in the spring of 2011, you know, everything was kind of going fine. Her marriage was going fine.

She was working a lot. She had good health care. And then slowly, as the year progressed, a lot of these things did fall away. So, as the candidates kept being in Iowa, she just kept approaching them and wanting to have more and more answers for how -- what they were going to do for America was going to affect her life. And, you know, she wanted some very specific answers.

BERMAN: Obviously, that's very effective, Edith. Very effective. So effective you ended up on ABC News. Let's look at a clip from you -- they thought you were a real voter. Let's watch.



WILSON: We have no jobs and we have no health care. I'm probably going to get divorced because everything --

ROMNEY: I'm so sorry.

WILSON: Everything is falling apart in our lives.

ROMNEY: I really want to help. I really want to help.

WILSON: I do believe in you, but we need an -- We need jobs and we need health care. I'm sorry. I'm just -- I'm at the end of my rope.


BERMAN: And Roland Martin, who's sitting here, just said ABC News got punked. But my question to you -- do you feel badly about that?

WILSON: Do I feel badly about punking ABC News?

BERMAN: Yes. Do you feel badly? I mean, there are a lot of real voters in Iowa and a lot of people take the Iowa caucuses very seriously. Do you feel badly that you sort of duped ABC into thinking that your concerns were the concerns of a real voter with Mitt Romney?

WILSON: Well, I am a real voter. And I'm actually originally from Iowa. And I have a lot of things in common with this character. I'm a mom. I'm a Christian. So, I don't feel like the character I was portraying was some, you know, fake confection completely. And I feel like actually being in the middle of the process, I had to really muscle my way to the front of the line. There were a lot of media and political handlers and not a lot of real people making their way to the front of the line and having those conversations with the candidate.

ROMANS: But you weren't a real person. You weren't -- but you -- so by trying to show the gap between real people and the campaigns, you actually were pretending to be something that you weren't, which just adds to the level of smoke and mirrors, right?

LEE: Yes, but it's all political theater, isn't it? It's all political theater, isn't it? I mean, the Iowa caucuses, as you guys probably know, is a media circus. And we were just -- we weren't following Janeane around.

You know, it wasn't just about getting Janeane's story, it was also sort of capturing, you know, the events that are going on. And you know, we say, I don't like the term "mockumentary". Our film is fiction and fiction, but that's just like politics.

LIZZA: Grace, it's Ryan Lizza. I don't mean to be rude, but what makes the Iowa caucus a media circus is when people go and pretend to cry and make an emotional appearance in front of the cameras and pretend to be people they're not.

I think it would be fine if you came on here and tell us about a mockumentary you would make. But it seems like you guys are sitting there and saying you're actually a real voter and this is all very real. I don't really understand that. I mean, if your critique is that it's a media circus, why did you turn it into a bigger media circus with these pranks?

LEE: I'm just saying -- I wouldn't call it a prank. I'm saying, you know, there's so much year-round --

LIZZA: You don't think fake crying in front of Mitt Romney, in front of the cameras, is a prank?

WILSON: Here's the thing is we wanted to tell the story of somebody whose life is in despair because of the policies that are affecting this country right now. And, this is -- yes, this is a fictional film with documentary-style elements in it. And, I don't -- you know, I think that when people see the film, they'll se I'm not poking fun at a person like Janeane.

That I'm actually very connected to a person like Janeane. Like I said, I'm from Iowa, originally. And I think it's a very serious story, and I think people will be affected by it.

LEE: And besides, who is punking who? I mean, I think there's also, you know, some level of playing to the camera by the candidates as well. You know, when we were talking to Michele Bachmann --

LIZZA: No doubt about it.

LEE: -- Mitt Romney, there's lots of cameras. I mean, they're playing to the camera as well. BERMAN: All right. Thanks, guys. The film is titled "Janeane from Des Moines." Obviously, a lot to talk about with it right now and a lot of people are talking about it. Thank you guys so much for joining us. And we'll be right back.


ROMANS: Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, more deadly fallout from the botched Fast and Furious gun-running program. Did drug cartel leaders carry out a brutal hit on innocent teenagers using weapons they got from the U.S. government?

BERMAN: And actor Cary Elwes, made famous by his role as Westley in "The Princess Bride", he is here celebrating the 25th anniversary of the classic. I'm not even going to call it a cult classic. It's a classic.

In this, an occasion for some trivia here. What other movie did "The Princess Bride" screenwriter write? Option one, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"; option two, "The Wizard of Oz"; option three, "The Never Ending Story"? The answer, you'll want to hear it, when we return. You're watching STARTING POINT.


PATINKIN: My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.



BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. Before the break, we asked you this key question: What other movie did the "The Princess Bride's" screenwriter write?

ROMANS: This is going to come back up for debate.

BERMAN: Absolutely. In fact, it's the first question. The answer: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". William Goldman, no slouch. Well, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", "All the President's Men", the screenplay for that, and "The Princess Bride". Will Cain.


BERMAN: Darn good -- darn good writer. And we have actor Cary Elwes coming up in about 20 minutes which Roland Martin is thrilled about.

ROMANS: All right. First a quick check of your top stories, though.

There's a video posted on YouTube showed American freelance journalist Austin Tice, who's been missing in Syria since mid-August. In the video, which is posted by supporters of the Assad regime, the man is blindfolded and clearly in distress. Now some things are raising red flags, though. Jihadist groups usually distribute videos through extremist Web sites and not on YouTube. The dress of the men who appeared to have detained Tice also raising questions. His family and two news organizations he works for say the man is Tice but the State Department says it cannot verify for sure this.

BERMAN: Interesting. Police in Philadelphia are investigating an incident that was caught on tape during Sunday's Puerto Rican Day Parade. The video, it appears to show an officer punching a woman in the face and knocking her to the ground. Authorities say the woman was throwing water or beer at the cops prior to the incident. Philadelphia police say the officer has been identified and taken off the street. They're conducting a full scale investigation.

ROMANS: American Airlines has grounded some of its 757s after a row of seats came loose on two separate flights, first on Saturday, then again yesterday. The FAA looking into these incidents. And American Airlines spokeswoman says an initial investigation found there may be an issue with certain seat models and how they fit into tracks meant to keep them in place on the plane.

BERMAN: The Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme may have started two decades earlier than previously thought. According to new charges filed Monday by federal prosecutors, the new complaints say the five former long-time Madoff employees were working on the operation side of the scam all the way back to the 1970s.

ROMANS: Wow. All right. Brand new details on the extent of the damage from Fast and Furious, the botched ATF operation that allowed guns to go across the border with Mexico with the intent of tracking them to Mexican drug cartels. Univision did a painstaking investigative report on the impact of the program in Mexico. It found that many of those guns from the U.S. were, indeed, used in murders, kidnappings and at least two massacres across the border.

We're joined now by one of the reporters covering this for Univision. His name is Vytenis Didziulis.

It's so nice to see you today, sir. Thanks for coming by. What did you find?

VYTENIS DIDZIULIS, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, UNIVISION: Well, we found a number of things. But I guess what you mentioned already was we found that there is a strong suspicion that some of these weapons from "Fast and Furious" operation were used in the 2010 Salvarcar massacre. That's basically a birthday party where a lot of young teenagers in the -- in Ciudad Juarez, the city of Juarez, were, you know, partaking in a birthday party and hitmen from a rival cartel showed up and killed more than a dozen teenagers. And so there's a strong suspicion that guns from Fast and Furious were used in that massacre.

ROMANS: And starting with your investigation of that massacre at the birthday party, and trying to track three guns used by the assassins there, you were able to find 57 "Fast and Furious" guns in Mexico that U.S. congressional investigators apparently have missed.

How did you track them down?

DIDZIULIS: Well, what we did was we did a public records request in Mexico, using their public records law. And we got thousands and thousands of serial numbers of seizures that the Mexican Defense Ministry of Weapons that they had seized. So we took those serial numbers and compared them to the serial numbers of a list of Fast and Furious guns that we also obtained, and we got 96 exact matches.

And so then we took those 96 exact matches and cross-referenced them with the list of around 122 guns that Congress had, and also serial numbers that the Mexican government had made available through press releases. And we got that number, 57 unknown weapons.

ROMANS: You also concluded that Mexican officials knew about Fast and Furious long before they admitted it.

DIDZIULIS: Yes. We found that through sources and documentation, there was a Mexican justice official station in the ATF Phoenix field division, that's the ATF office that ran Fast and Furious. And he -- this official was there many months before the operation began and didn't leave until it was over. He was experienced with ATF's weapons tracking databases and their tracking system. He was also on the same floor as the Fast and Furious agents. Then he was embedded with the intelligence unit of the Phoenix field division.

And he was also, according to some documentation we've seen in sources, he was briefed on the operation well before the January 2011 date that the Mexican government has said that was the first time they knew about the operation.

ROMANS: Has the Justice Department responded to this report? I mean there's been so much hand wringing and backlashing in the U.S. because of the death of an American Border Patrol agent here. Clearly, if you're tracking Fast and Furious guns to murders and that birthday party murder in Mexico, this is -- this is a really serious matter.

DIDZIULIS: Yes. I mean, obviously, in the United States the story has been covered a lot. It has been covered. The congressional investigation has looked into it. The inspector general -- the Department of Justice's inspector general just came out with a report. There was, you know, hearings, contentious hearings in Congress. But our report focused on what was happening in Mexico, who were the victims, like Brian terry in the United States, who were the victims in Mexico.

We were trying to shine a light on that because the Mexican government for more than a year has said it's investigating to see what's happened hasn't produced its report. And we feel that there is, you know, a lot of information that still needs to come out. There's unconfirmed reports that up to 300 people may have died as a result of "Fast and Furious" guns, you know, flowing into Mexico. So we just wanted to get the ball rolling on that.

ROMANS: Well, you know, and I think that -- a lot of people don't realize that the drugs come across the border. The money from the sale of the drugs used to purchase guns that then go south of the border and so much of this violence is the cycle that is going back and forth. "Fast and Furious" meant to track these guns but now "Fast and Furious" has become part of the story.

Vytenis Didziulis from Univision, thank you so much for that report.

DIDZIULIS: Thank you.

BERMAN: And you know we have -- we have some breaking news just in to CNN, which feels like it's related very much at least to the theme of this story. A Border Patrol agent was killed in the Tucson sector of Arizona in Naco, Arizona. And, again, he was killed at the Brian Terry station, the Border Patrol station named after Brian Terry, the U.S. Border Patrol agent killed in the "Fast and Furious" scheme.

There was a shooting there. One officer died of his wounds, another received non-life threatening wounds. I don't know that there's any connection to the "Fast and Furious" other than this was a Border Patrol agent at the Brian Terry Station. And this just happened so we will follow that story as it develops.

ROMANS: The picture you were seeing was Brian Terry who is, of course, the fallen Border Patrol agent for whom the station is named but who is also -- whose death sparked this investigation into "Fast and Furious."

BERMAN: All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, tomorrow night we will see the first debate in 2012. And right before the face-off, Mitt Romney is saying it's not about winning. So what does that mean?

ROMANS: Plus "The Princess Bride" phenomenon. Coming up, a conversation with our true love, Cary Elwes. You're watching STARTING POINT.




KANE: Do you think it will work?

CRYSTAL: It'll take a miracle. Good-bye.





SHAWN: You only think I guessed wrong. That's what's so funny. I switched glasses when your back was turned. You fool. You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia. But only slightly less well known is this, never go in against a Sicilian when guess is on the line.


BERMAN: We are celebrating 25 years since the debut of "The Princess Bride." Actor Cary Elwes is coming up, as in just a few minutes. But first we want to talk about politics because tomorrow, of course, the presidential --

LIZZA: We want the rest of that movie.

MARTIN: Right. We've seen half the movie.

BERMAN: Yes. A lot of people might rather watch that than the presidential debates.

Well, the presidential debate, the first one, is tomorrow night. And so our question to you, Will, first off, is what are these debates really about?

CAIN: Well, Roland made the point earlier that the American people want to hear about substance and have these guys debate points. I wish Roland were right. But the research suggests --


CAIN: -- it's actually about how you come off. How likable you are. Very few -- I think Ryan said this earlier, presidential debates have actually determined the outcome of an election. A few cuts stand out here. You know, Richard Nixon versus John F. Kennedy, Al Gore versus George Bush. But what matters in is how those two guys, Nixon and Gore, came off as likable or not.

Unfortunately that's why the American people watch these things.

MARTIN: In 2008 I host a show on CNN called "WHAT THEY DIDN'T TALK ABOUT". That's also I think going to be key. I really hope you do have some expansive issues beyond the same kind of stuff we always have been hearing. And so we'll all be paying attention to the next day is what they didn't focus on.

ROMANS: You know, this is "American idol" America now? And back in those days it wasn't an "American Idol" America. It was -- it took less to entertain people. Do you think independent voters want to be entertained and wooed by these candidates?

LIZZA: No, but there are some voters that are undecided and it does seem that if you look at the polls, what they want to hear from both candidates is specifics about what they would do as presidents. But what happens now is these debates happen really late in the cycle, and by this time most Americans have made up their minds.

And that's why they don't matter as much as they used to. Because people are coming to the debates with their partisan jerseys on, and they're rooting for their guy, with their opponents. So they got big audiences, but not a lot of people in recent elections are making up their mind based on them. (CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Allow me to disagree just this one time with Ryan Lizza. Because the Reagan -- the Reagan-Carter debate of 1980 was, like, a week before the election. This is well before that.

LIZZA: That's -- well, look, it's 2012. That was -- you know, that was a long time ago. The debates now are -- because of early voting and because of the saturation of television ads, because of the amount of money that's spent, people are bombarded with political information for almost two years. And by the time people --


CAIN: Those undecideds haven't been sitting there undecided because of the lack of substance. They have -- not because the issues haven't been presented to them.

BERMAN: All right, guys.


BERMAN: Tomorrow --

LIZZA: You're not supposed to say this on TV but I don't think the debates are going to matter much.


BERMAN: But nevertheless, you should watch and watch on CNN, our complete coverage and analysis of the debate begins tomorrow at 7:00, including fact-checking. You will want to watch it.

ROMANS: Yes. Yes. Fact-checking is what's so key about all this. All right. We've been enjoying these clips all morning.

MARTIN: We love the lines, yes.

ROMANS: The beloved movie, "The Princess Bride" turns 25. Inconceivable.

BERMAN: Superstar actor Cary Elwes is with us.

First, Ryan Lizza's favorite film clips from the film.

MARTIN: Even he is falling asleep.


BERMAN: Just stretching.



PETER FALK, NARRATOR IN "THE PRINCESS BRIDE": Nothing gave Buttercup this much pleasure as ordering Westley 'round.

ROBIN WRIGHT, BUTTERCUP IN "THE PRINCESS BRIDE": Come on, boy. My horse's saddle, I want to see my face shining in it by morning.

ELWES: As you wish.


ROMANS: "As you wish." Memorable words from one of the most memorable films of all time.

BERMAN: Today "The Princess Bride" turns 25, with millions of people recalling their favorite scenes like this classic.


PATINKIN: My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.


BERMAN: Now that was Mandy Patinkin, but there the romantic lead of "The Princess Bride" was Cary Elwes, playing Westley. He joins us now.

It is great to have you here this morning.

ELWES: Thank you for having me.

ROMANS: When you were filming this 25 years ago, did you think we'd still be talking about it 25 years later and debating whether it's a classic or cult classic?


ELWES: No, you know, we had no idea. We just wanted to make the best possible movie we could make and we had a lot of fun doing it. And, you know, you're lucky as an actor if you have any movie that resonates over a period of time and I feel really blessed. You know? I still get fan mail from all over the world to this day.

BERMAN: It's got to be every day. I mean someone has got to come up to you every day.

ELWES: Every day. They were saying, "Say, you know, can you say the lines, can you say it to me, say, 'as you wish'." You know?

BERMAN: Let's say it for real. If you can say it, say it for real. Come on.


CAIN: Would you say that line for John?

MARTIN: Don't do it. Don't do it, Cary. Don't do it.

CAIN: Can you do it for John, Cary?

ELWES: Oh, man.

CAIN: I'm a huge -- I'm a huge "Big Lebowski" fan. So if I run into the Coen brothers, I'm just going to whip them with lines from that movie. Are you (INAUDIBLE) when people are saying please repeat that line as John just asked you to do?

ELWES: Sure, I get it all the time. I think that when I pass away, it'll probably be on my tombstone.


MARTIN: And you know what, Richard Roundtree, people criticize him, he hated people saying, "You're Shaft." And his dad tells him, hey, son, if they remember you for one thing.

ELWES: That's right.

MARTIN: You've done something. He's -- and that changes -- that changes the whole attitude as to how people saw him.

ELWES: Yes. Absolutely. Like, I feel totally blessed. You know --

MARTIN: I have to get Shaft in again, Ryan.


BERMAN: But, you know, you know what I like about this? You know, what I like is that you're you -- you know, however irritating it may be to have someone come talk to you every day, you are using it, too, for good. Because I was reading a tweet that you sent out not too long ago. You said don't be a -- Humperdinck.

ELWES: Right.

BERMAN: Give to Mercy Corps which is the group you work for. Humperdinck was a character in the film.

ELWES: That of course is a nonprofit organization I work with and they're really incredible. They're not like any other organization I know of. You know that saying, give a person a fish, feed them for a day, teach them to fish, feed them for a lifetime? Well, that's what they do, besides just providing the regular essentials like food, medicine and shelter, they go in and they help rebuild the economy of these areas that have been affected by natural disasters or manmade conflicts.

And like for instance, they just developed this incredible program called Agri-Fin Mobile for low-income farmers in Uganda, Zimbabwe, and in Indonesia, where through mobile technology they're going to help these farmers increase their revenue by 30 percent in the first three years.

BERMAN: It is -- it is a great cause. I wonder if you'll humor me for a second because I do want to play one of my favorite scenes from the film. It's one that doesn't involve kissing an ewe. Those are also my favorites. But this one -- this one involves Billy Crystal. So let's watch.



KANE: Liar. Liar.

CRYSTAL: Get back, witch.

KANE: I'm not a witch. I'm your wife. And after what you just said, I'm not even sure I want to be that anymore.


BERMAN: The cast here is extraordinary, Carol Kane, Billy Crystal, you know, Peter Falk.


BERMAN: Fred Savage. And the writing, William Goldman, just -- it seems like all-star cast, all-star everything from the beginning.

ELWES: I know. It was a very heady time for me. I mean, because I was a huge fan of all of these guys. I mean of course I knew Bill Goldman from his work, "Marathon Man", "All the President's Men" and Rob Reiner from "Spinal Tap" and Chris Guest, too, and Carol Kane from "Annie Hall" and Peter Falk, "Colombo." I mean I watched "Colombo" religiously.

And so it was a very heady time for me. I thought wow, how am I going to fit into this group? You know? And I hope I don't screw it up. You know? But Rob was such a wonderful director, he's so sweet, and being an actor himself, you know, he gets it. And he kept a very light set and we just had a blast.

ROMANS: But there are folks who work with us this morning who probably were babies when this -- they're new fans. No, seriously. This film is attracting new audiences all the time. I fondly remember the '80s. I don't know about you.


But you know, so how -- I mean attracting new audiences, that's what makes it, I guess, a classic, right?

BERMAN: I think so.

CAIN: (INAUDIBLE) is 30, 40-year-old women like my wife, who you have -- that's who's got to be walking up to you, that's who loved this film. Not that men like John didn't love it as well.


(CROSSTALK) BERMAN: Cary Elwes, thank you so much.

ELWES: Can I just say one thing, though? If fans want to help Mercy Corps by donating money they can go on their Web site, And the first 100 people who donate will get limited edition memorabilia.

BERMAN: It is worth it. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

ELWES: Yes. Thank you.

BERMAN: Twenty-five years, "The Princess Bride." If you can believe it.


BERMAN: Our "End Point" coming up next. Thanks, friend.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ROMANS: We're following this for you. Two U.S. Border agents have been shot. And one has died near a major drug smuggling area in Arizona. Their identities not released yet.

The shooting happened at the Brian Terry Station near Naco. That station was named after Terry after he was killed in the line of duty in December 2010. Terry's death connected to the botched "Fast and Furious" gun tracking operation.

We're going to continue to follow that for you. But we can tell you that one Border Patrol agent has died at that -- at that location.

BERMAN: All right. We have time for one quick "End Point." Roland Martin?

MARTIN: Hey, great night for Will's Cowboys. Christine, what do we say too Cowboy fans?


MARTIN: Sorry, baby. Nice beatdown.

CAIN: I have no rebuttal.


BERMAN: What do you say after that?

CAIN: The baseball playoffs.

MARTIN: Tony Romo has none either.

BERMAN: That is all for STARTING POINT. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.

Hey, Carol.