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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Debate Round One; Tensions Rising Between Turkey and Syria; Fact Checking the Debate

Aired October 4, 2012 - 05:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Round one between President Obama --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Governor Romney's proposal calls that he's been promoting for 18 months calls for a $5 trillion tax cut.

SAMBOLIN: And the man who's after his job.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I'm not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. What I've said is I won't put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit.

SAMBOLIN: Their first debate -- contentious.

OBAMA: For 18 months he's been running on this tax plan. And now, five weeks before the election, he's saying that his big bold idea is never mind.

ROMNEY: Virtually everything he said about my tax plan sin accurate. Look, I've got five boys. I'm use to people saying something that's not always true but keep repeating it and ultimately hoping I'll believe it.

SAMBOLIN: The question this morning, did either candidate do enough to make believers out of America's undecided voters?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is the day after. Good morning and welcome to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

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

First, round one. It is now in the books. Mitt Romney has something to celebrate.

In a CNN/ORC poll, 67 percent say Romney won the first presidential debate, just 25 percent think President Obama was the victor.

BERMAN: There were no real knockout punches thrown last night, more like a series of glancing blows with Romney the aggressor on taxes, jobs, health care -- putting the President really on the defensive.

We're joined this morning -- we're lucky to be joined by CNN's Dana Bash -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you for having me.

Listen, I think you're absolutely right. It was a debate between a rusty President Obama and a well-rehearsed Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): Right out of the gate, it was clear -- Mitt Romney came to play.

ROMNEY: The President has a view very similar to the view he had when he ran four years ago, that a bigger government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more, if you will, trickle down government, would work.

BASH: President Obama sounded a familiar alarm -- warning of Romney's been there/done that economics.

OBAMA: The approach that Governor Romney is talking about is the same sales pitch made in 2001 and 2003. And we ended up with the slowest job growth in 50 years.

BASH: But whether it was health care, jobs, or Medicare, it was Romney who stood out for his aggressive style.

ROMNEY: I just don't know how the President could have come into office facing 23 million people out of work, rising unemployment, an economic crisis at the kitchen table, and spend his energy and passion for two years fighting for Obamacare.

BASH: The President made his points in a slower, more laid-back manner, often looking down, sometimes appearing disengaged.

It's not that he didn't try to rip apart Romney's economic plan.

OBAMA: That kind of top down economics where folks at the top are doing well so the average person making 3 million bucks is getting a $250,000 tax break while middle class families are burdened further.

BASH: Romney was determined to go toe to toe.

JIM LEHRER, MODERATOR: What is the difference?

ROMNEY: Virtually everything he said about my tax plan sin accurate.

LEHRER: All right.

ROMNEY: So if the tax plan he described were a tax plan I was asked to support, I'd say absolutely not.

BASH: The President did get digs in. OBAMA: For 18 months, he's been running on this tax plan. And now, five weeks before the election, he's saying that his big bold idea is never mind.

BASH: But he also showed flashes of the kind of testiness sources in both camps feared from the candidates, except Obama's was directed at the moderator, not Romney.

OBAMA: The last point I'd make before --

LEHRER: Your two minutes is up, sir.

OBAMA: No, I think I had five seconds before you interrupted me, was --

BASH: Romney did have his own awkward moderator moment.

ROMNEY: I'm sorry, Jim, I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm going to stop all the things -- I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too.

BASH: One of the surprising parts of the President's performance was what he did not say, no mention of Romney's infamous 47 percent remark, no talk of Bain Capital, nothing about Romney's own taxes.

He did play the Romney is a hypocrite card when it comes to health care.

OBAMA: The irony is we've seen this model work really well in Massachusetts, because Governor Romney did a good thing working with Democrats in the state to set up what is essentially the identical model and as a consequence, people are covered there. It hasn't destroyed jobs.

BASH: Romney who ran from his Massachusetts health care plan during the GOP primaries now used it to tack to the middle to the general election.

ROMNEY: I like the way we did it in Massachusetts. I like the fact that in my state we had Republicans and Democrats come together and work together. What you did, instead, was to push through a plan without a single Republican vote.

BASH: And Romney's countless hours of rehearsals clearly produced lines like this.

ROMNEY: Mr. President, you're entitled as the President to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: You know, you can say a lot of things about this debate, but one thing you have to say is it was substantive. You know, for months, we heard about Barack Obama when he was a young person eating dog in Indonesia, we heard about Mitt Romney putting the dog on his car -- this was about real policy differences. And, you know, you sort of -- the talking points of the campaign is that there's a real contrast. There is a real contrast, a real philosophical difference between them, especially on the economy.

SAMBOLIN: So, Dana, we started here with the CNN/ORC poll, 67 percent say Romney won the first presidential debate. So, this morning, everybody's asking what happened to President Obama? Was it, in fact, that Romney just prepared better for this first debate?

BASH: Well, if you just look at their schedules, Romney prepared better. Romney spent a lot of time. It was about a month ago during the Democratic convention, he first went to debate boot camp. He went to Vermont and really was there for three days doing mock debates. He prepared as much as he could on planes.

They had a series of mock debates. He spent a lot of time doing it. He got a lot of flack for it, for not being out on the campaign trail enough in battleground states. But, you know, maybe --

SAMBOLIN: Maybe it did pay off.

BERMAN: So, last night, there were a lot of numbers tossed around. There were a lot of facts on both sides. Romney may have been better rehearsed with his.

I want to run through a few of the numbers that came up over the course of the night, because they are important. And CNN did a lot of fact checking last night.

I want to start with tax cuts. You knew this was going to be a big issue. It dominated the beginning of the debate. President Obama went on the attack saying Mitt Romney is essentially pitching a huge tax cut for the rich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Governor Romney's central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts, that's another trillion, and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn't asked for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Let's look at the facts here. Mitt Romney does propose across the board 20 percent tax cuts. And the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says under that plan, taxes on the wealthiest Americans would be reduced by $5 trillion, initially. But Romney says he would offset those cuts with reductions and deductions and closing loopholes that will reduce the tax cut for the wealthy.

So our verdict here is that President's claim that Mitt Romney would cut taxes on the wealthy by $5 trillion is false because any deduction you take out will make it smaller.

But there is more to this story. Listen, on the deficit, Mitt Romney claims even with the tax cuts, he will not add to the deficit. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: My number one principle is there will be no tax cut adds to the deficit. I won't put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. That's part one.

So, there's no economist can say Mitt Romney's tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan. My plan is not to put in place a tax cut that will add to the deficit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The problem here is that Mitt Romney has not laid out any specifics for how he would pay for his tax cuts. He hasn't told us what those deductions would be that he would reduce; what loopholes he would close. He just hasn't said how much or how many. There are no details.

So the verdict here in simply incomplete.

Now, one other big issue: Medicare, big topic of discussion for sometime. Mitt Romney made the claim like he has repeatedly that President Obama is looking to make cuts that affect people in the program today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: What I support is no change for current retirees and near retirees to Medicare and the President supports taking $716 billion out of that program.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, this is what is checked and checked again. President Obama has proposed not cuts to Medicare. Medicare will still grow. It will just grow more slowly -- a reduction of growth of $716 billion. Plus, that money is coming from insurers and care providers, not beneficiaries.

So, the verdict here that the language Mitt Romney uses is flatly false.

We want to talk one more time about health care. President Obama said there is some good news about the cost of health care premiums.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: And over the last two years, health care premiums have gone up, it's true. But they've gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years. So we're already beginning to see progress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, let's look at the facts here, premiums did increase 4 percent last year. There is growth there. But the Kaiser Family Foundation says that growth is at historic low. And health care spending, not premiums, did grow slower than it has any time the last 50 years. Still slow though.

So, the verdict here for the President is mostly true in that case.

So you heard a lot of facts there, guys. There's a lot of ground to cover. There are other things we didn't get through right here. Definitely a lot to talk about.

SAMBOLIN: No, and actually, on CNN.com, there are five things we learned from the debate and a lot of fact-checking that goes on online. So, you can get the information because it is a lot, right?

BERMAN: It is a lot.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. All right. Thank you very much.

Nine minutes past the hour.

Later on this hour of EARLY START, more debate analysis from Richard Socarides, former adviser to President Clinton, and CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro.

In case you miss any of last night's debate, you can see it on encore presentation. It is today at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time, right here on CNN.

BERMAN: Other news this morning.

The Syrian civil war spilling over the border this morning, Turkey and Syria trading artillery fire. We're going to go live to the Middle East for more on this border battle, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Thirteen minutes past the hour.

Tensions are rising this morning between Syria and Turkey. Turkish troops are firing back after five civilians in a Turkish border town were killed yesterday by Syrian artillery fire, including three children there. Turkey is also asking the U.N. to intervene now, even though the Syrians are apologizing.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins us live from Beirut.

And, Nick, what is the latest on the conflict between these two countries? It's very troubling.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The shelling continued overnight according to a senior Turkish official but has now ended. There appear to be targeting a town called Tel Abyad, military facilities there, according to Turkish officials.

What is key is that this shelling persisted overnight. There had been a belief that the Turkish were going to retaliate once to show strength and get the rhetorical backing from its NATO allies. But they have continued shelling. This is not all sophisticated military perhaps as a particular target they are trying to destroy. And we've had reports from Syrian opposition activist that there have been Syrian army casualties as a result of these Turkish strikes, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: And a few analysts are suspecting that Syria's attack on Turkey may have been actually orchestrated by either the Assad regime or the rebels in an attempt to pull Turkey into the Syrian conflict. Do you have any evidence of that?

WALSH: At this point, no. I mean, I understand both points of view and the rationales towards making them. It would be hard to understand why President Bashar al-Assad will want to further complicate his life by drawing in his key neighborhood (AUDIO GAP) backer of the Syrian rebel movement and also has the backing of NATO. That would be hard to understand.

Yes, there's a lot of logic as to why the rebels would like to see Turkey come more in their side militarily and, of course, Turkish artillery is doing their job for them now, destroying some Syrian military regime targets there.

But those theories require evidence. There is none of that at the moment. Perhaps I'm inclined to suggest a more likely explanation is some sort of overreach on the stake by the Syrian military, causing a shell to land inside Turkey. An egregious mistake and one they repeated many times. But at this point, that's potentially more likely than some conspiracy or broader effort to drag Turkey into this 18th, 19th month war now -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. I want to remind everybody that Syria has apologized.

And, Nick, NATO says they will continue to stand by Turkey and urges the Syrian regime to put an end to flagrant violations of international law.

The NATO alliance charter does include provisions for collective action when one of its members is attacked.

What are the chances that NATO will get involved here?

WALSH: Very slim right now. When you say NATO, put aside the U.K. and France who have limited capacity to help here, we're talking about America. Until the U.S. election is passed, until the next administration decides it wants to get involved in this, we're not going to see any major NATO intervention.

The backing is being rhetorical yesterday and firm and strong. And, of course, that will help bolster Turkey's case and try and push the Syrian military back to prevent this thing from happening ever again.

But we're really talking here about a potential of the future over know fly zone, maybe in months time if NATO decides to step forward and sees Turkey once again attacked by the Syrians. But for now, this is very much I think a rhetorical response and we're going to be talking weeks and months of continued aggression by the Syrians as the Turkish will see it, until you see any game change like that -- Zoraida. SAMBOLIN: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, live from Beirut, thank you very much.

BERMAN: Update on a really troubling medical story.

The meningitis outbreak first reported in Tennessee has now spread to five states, killing four people. Dozens of people now infected with the rare non-contagious fungal version. All of them received steroid injections to their spines.

We have a lot of questions about this story. We'll be talking to our medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen in the next hour.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. I'm looking forward to that.

And still no word on when Jesse Jackson Jr. might return to Capitol Hill. His wife Sandy says there are no guarantees voters will even here from the Illinois congressman before the November election, although she says that his name will remain on the ballot. Jackson is suffering from bipolar disorder, Congressman Jackson that is.

BERMAN: Two of country's low cost wireless carriers are merging. T- Mobile USA and Metro PCS joining forces to become T-Mobile. Combined, the new firm will have more than 42 million subscribers and annual sales of nearly $25 billion.

SAMBOLIN: Boeing and General Electric finalizing a $6 billion deal for 85 737 planes. The G.E. purchase order includes 75 737 MAX 8 jets and 10 next generation 737-800s. OK.

The agreement allows for the purchase of as many as 15 additional 737s.

BERMAN: Detroit Tiger slugger Miguel Cabrera is the first player in baseball to win the Triple Crown in 45 years.

SAMBOLIN: Yay!

BERMAN: This is one of the game's rarest feats. One player leading batting average, home runs and runs bat in. Cabrera finished the season with a .330 average, along with 44 home runs and 139 RBIs.

The last player to win the Triple Crown was Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox in 1967.

SAMBOLIN: 1967.

BERMAN: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: All right.

BERMAN: Well before I was born.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, right.

A wild finish to baseball's regular season. The New York Yankees pounding the Boston Red Sox 14-2 last night to clinch the American League East title for the 13th time in 17 years.

BERMAN: Boo.

SAMBOLIN: No boo. Good for them.

The Oakland A's winning the American League West with a 25-5 victory over the Texas Rangers.

All right. Your 10 playoff teams, Yankees, Tigers, A's, Orioles and Rangers in the American League. Washington, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Atlanta and St. Louis in the National League.

BERMAN: The Washington Nationals are the official baseball team of EARLY START. We're all pulling for them.

SAMBOLIN: Nobody informed me.

BERMAN: We're all pulling for the Nationals.

All right. The main topic in last night's debate, jobs and the economy. Where do we stand right now and where are we headed? We'll have the answers coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: We are minding your business this morning, and U.S. stock futures are up, indicating markets will open higher today.

SAMBOLIN: Alison Kosik is in for Christine Romans this morning.

And, Alison, the economy was a big part of last night's debate. So, we kind of want this overview, where we stand right now.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And, you know, you were fact checking a lot of things earlier, and with jobs especially. You don't need to fact check the numbers -- 12.5 million people are unemployed in this country. The unemployment rate is at 8.1 percent.

So, we've got another big jobs report coming out on Friday. It's expected that in September, we gained 10,000 jobs.

You know what? That's OK. It's not great. Reality is we have a long way to go. We're only adding enough jobs here to keep up with population growth. It's just not enough to bring down the unemployment rate.

So, you know, you're seeing improvement in the jobs picture. It's just not improving fast enough.

SAMBOLIN: All right. And you've got some other retail sales. Are we talking about that?

KOSIK: Yes. And we look at these retail sales numbers. These forecasts are coming out now for holiday shopping figures.

SAMBOLIN: Already? KOSIK: Already, yes. It's never too early. It's important because these could really help push the economy, sort of give it that momentum.

At this point, retail sales over the holiday shopping season, that's November and December, expected to go up around 4.1 percent. That sounds great. But you know what? It is slower growth slower sales growth compared to the past two years.

So, it's really not that great because, you know what? Consumers are hesitant to go out there and spend because of all the uncertainty in the economy and Washington. You know, who is going to be in the White House next year?

What's going to happen to our tax bills with this fiscal cliff? This is really a big deal that's going to hold a lot of people back from spending during the holidays. So, this could be a big concern.

You know, the weak jobs market obviously adding to this concern, the unemployment rate. If you don't have a job, you're not going to go out and spend a lot of money.

You know, something else to consider. You know, manufacturing that, is what really got us out of the recession. We can't rely on this to keep the momentum going this time around. So, we're sort of leaning on consumer spending. But we may not see it this holiday shopping season.

BERMAN: One more reason for our politicians in Congress to fix the fiscal cliff. They're spoiling Christmas.

KOSIK: Yes, they could be. Good point.

SAMBOLIN: That's a very good point.

BERMAN: All right. Alison, thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-five minutes past the hour. The morning after the first presidential debate -- everyone is asking who won? Do you have an answer? We have answers for you.

Brand new CNN poll taken right after it was over and more highlights and analysis headed your way.

If you're leaving the house right now, don't worry. You can watch us any time right on your desktop, perhaps or mobile phone. Just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: You're entitled as the President to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: For Mitt Romney, that may be one of those well-rehearsed zingers we've been hearing about over the last few weeks. The President counter-punched a little with some sarcasm.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: At some point I think the American people have to ask themselves is the reason that Governor Romney is keeping all these plans to replace secret because they're too good?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So this morning, a brand new CNN poll tells us who came out on top. We're going to share that with you.

But welcome back to EARLY START. Nice to have you with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 29 minutes after the hour.

It is the morning after debate night in America. It may have been short on fireworks but it was definitely long on detail. President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney meeting for their very first debate in Denver. And if you look at CNN's polling, viewers thought the winner was crystal clear.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Sixty-seven percent of debate watchers surveyed thought Romney ran away with it.

BERMAN: We're going to bring in Richard Socarides here. He's a Democratic strategist, a former employee in the Clinton administration. Great to have you here. Dana Bash is back with us, and Ana Navarro, who is a Republican strategist worked with John McCain and now a CNN contributor and just an all-around. Fantastic person.

We're glad you're all with us this morning. Richard, you know, we have you here this morning on a day --

RICHARD SOCARIDES, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's so good to be here this morning.

BERMAN: -- a challenging day for the Democrats. You saw the debate. You saw what our polls are saying this morning.

SOCARIDES: There was a debate last night?

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: Did the President lose this?

SOCARIDES: Well, you know, I think luckily for me this morning, history tells us that we don't know really who won or lost in terms of where it moved -- if it moved any votes until many days later. I mean, these things have to set in. But clearly, as you've been reporting already this morning and as the pundits were saying last night, I mean, I think that Romney had, from a theatrical perspective, a great night for him.

BERMAN: Well, we have to wait to see what history says about who won or lost, but the polls are crystal clear. You had our overall poll there saying over 60 percent think Romney won. On the issues, Romney way ahead of the President also, you know, who would better handle the deficit.

He has a 16-point advantage, on the economy, a 12-point advantage, taxes, nine-point advantage. It goes on and on and on. Across the board better for him.

SOCARIDES: I do think those polls are, you know, snap polls of people who watch the debate. So, I think that this -- I really do think that it will take a while to set in. You know, we have to know who watched the debate and who didn't watch. You know, we have some other debates to come.

But, you know, listen, I'm not suggesting that the President had a good night last night. I mean, I think he seemed very disengaged. He seemed very slow to react. And Romney was, you know, had a -- from a theatrical perspective, had a terrific evening.

SAMBOLIN: Well, in fact, you tweeted out, which was your only tweet last night, "no offense whatsoever."

SOCARIDES: Yes --

SAMBOLIN: So, you must have agreed, right?

(CROSSTALK)

SOCARIDES: I found the thing that was most surprising was that the President really seemed to have no offense. He seemed to kind of just sit there and no matter what Governor Romney said, and I think there was some substantial factual inaccuracies in his presentation which we're going it hear a lot about today, but the President just seemed to, you know, just sort of sit there and take it.

SAMBOLIN: So, Ana's mic must be off, because I haven't heard her chime in.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Ana, you were there, aren't you? You were super pleased with the performance last night, because I have all of your tweets, and you were on fire with them. How did you feel?

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Let me tell you something, this is a very good morning. It's been a few days before we've got good news as Republicans to come in and spend. I feel great about it. I've seen this Mitt Romney before. I know this guy.

This is the guy who showed up at the two Florida primary debates when he was on the ropes, when Newt Gingrich had him on the ropes after South Carolina, and he was focused. He was assertive. He was prepared. He was knowledgeable. He was on his A game and then looked even better, because the guy on the other side, President Obama, wasn't there.

He mailed it in. I think he thought you could do this by absentee ballot. You know, and I think you can also say that you can see some of the burdens of incumbency that weighed heavily on President Obama's shoulders last night. Number one, no primary. He was rusty. Number two, a record to defend, and it's not that good a record.

And you know, these things really weighed on Barack Obama. I would almost say to him, you know, call up Hillary and have another grueling primary before the next debate.

SAMBOLIN: Richard, let me tell you what Ana tweeted last night, I feel for democrat spinners tonight and apparently this morning also. "It's painful as blank to go into a spin room and pretend your guy won when you know that he lost. Been there." So, here's what a lot of people are questioning --

SOCARIDES: Well, we're not pretending he won. I mean, I think that --

NAVARRO: You're not.

SOCARIDES: -- it's clear that, you know, on the atmospherics, on the debate that, you know, Romney had a terrific night --

SAMBOLIN: But there are some specifics here that I want to talk about. No mention of the 47 percent, no mention of Bain Capital, didn't respond to a claim that he's cutting $716 billion from Medicare. Romney's taxes weren't mentioned. Why, do you think?

SOCARIDES: It's hard to know why. I mean, I think the President was not prepared to do battle. And, you know, either misjudged what the debate was going to be like or just was not prepared.

BERMAN: Richard, since you're not doing a strong job of defending the President this morning. There seems to be little defense. There is one thing that I think is worth mentioning. As bad as the reviews have been for President Obama, there's not one or two awful sound bites that are being replayed today.

There's not something that can be, you know, that can be hung around and, you know, weigh him down forever and ever. Dana, what do you think about that?

BASH: Absolutely, because, you know you think about the moment, the most memorable moments. And even when Democrats, in particular, did badly like Al Gore when he was sighing. You can play that over and over again. You know, what I keep thinking about was 2004, I was covering the Bush White House's re-election campaign.

And his first debate against John Kerry, he did horribly, absolutely horribly. And he came back from it. And it was, I think, the same dynamic. He was rusty. He didn't really put as much effort into it as he should have. And, you know, some people are saying online that maybe there's a conspiracy theory. That maybe President Obama is trying to reel him in. BERMAN: Ropeadope (ph).

SOCARIDES: Ropeadope (ph).

BASH: Yes. But guess what, you will know.

SOCARIDES: This was not a planned strategy.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: -- you know, you're giving Mitt Romney a chance to ignite his finance base, to ignite his voting base, and to come back. And that's not something Obama can afford right now.

SOCARIDES: What you just said was so important, because -- the interesting thing is when you watch the clips this morning that you've been playing all morning, it does not look as bad for the President as it actually was. I mean, he was flat. He was slow. He was very tentative. He just really sat there like a boxer who was just kept taking punches and didn't punch back.

It was enormously frustrating for those of us. But I think, as a matter of like, you know, sound bites, what's going to get played, what is the opinion that's going to form over time, we don't really know what that's going to be.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: That's the key question though, right? Independents. Will this really make a difference for the voters?

NAVARRO: Well, we'll know when we know who's the one that -- who are the ones that were watching. But I think it's not going to be something that takes a long time to figure out. Look, I've been at many debates. When you really don't see a clear winner and when you leave the night not knowing who won the debate any more than you did when you were going into the debate.

Last night was not one of those nights. Yes, there was no knockout. Yes, there were no memorable lines. There were no zingers. There was nothing funny, but there was 90 minutes of sustained, very good performance by Mitt Romney against a very bad performance by President Obama.

BERMAN: We're going to have to leave it there with a sad face on Richard Socarides. Thank you all, Richard Socarides, Ana Navarro, Dana Bash.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: We're going to talk about this again repeatedly over the next hour and a half on this show.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thirty-seven minutes past the hour. While the debate was unfolding, Americans were Googling. Here are the top debate related searches from last night. This is between 8:45 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. This is all Eastern Time. Number one, Simpson-Bowles, number two, Dodd Frank, number three, who is winning the debate, and number four, Big Bird.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: The furry that Sesame Street character was mentioned by Mitt Romney when the candidate discussed cutting funding for public broadcasting.

BERMAN: Got to be nice to Big Bird, an important thing in politics.

Next up on the October debate schedule, the battle of the number twos, Vice President Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan face of October 11th in their one and only debate. That is in Danville, Kentucky. And on October 16th, the President and his GOP rival, Mitt Romney, square off for the second time in Hempstead, Long Island. That will be moderated by CNN's own Candy Crowley. And their third and final encounter scheduled for October 22nd in Boca Raton, Florida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. The candidates' running mates wasting no time getting their shots in after the debate. The spin from Joe Biden and Paul Ryan coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Forty-one minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. And I'm john Berman. Now, we heard from the experts and some undecided voters, but what did the running mates think of last night's presidential debate? Vice President Joe Biden says President Obama did a solid job presenting the Democrat ticket's message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you just finished watching the debate like I did, I'm sure you're as proud of President Obama as I am. You know, I've been saying for a long time, this election presents the starkest choice in my memory. And I think the President did a wonderful job in making just how -- making it clear just how stark that choice is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: -- vice president speaking in a dark room and undisclosed location.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I know.

BERMAN: In a statement, Republican vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan agreed with those who say Mitt Romney was a big winner. Ryan said "Mitt won this debate by effectively articulating his positive vision for a better America and the specific solutions needed to achieve, which is interesting, because one of the main critiques of Mitt Romney last night was he had no specifics there. SAMBOLIN: And one issue that neither candidate touched was immigration. Even though more than 20 percent of the population in Colorado where last night's debate was held is Latino. A CNN Opinion Research Poll released yesterday shows Latinos are more optimistic about the economy than non-Latino White voters.

Still, six in ten Latinos say the economy is in poor shape. And a separate CNN/ORC poll found a majority of Latinos think the economy is a more important issue than immigration. So, no doubt the Latino vote will be key especially in the battleground states.

So, coming up this weekend, Soledad O'Brien follows two people in Nevada who are trying to tip the scales in their party's favor. Watch "LATINO IN AMERICA: COURTING THEIR VOTE." That is Sunday at 8:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

BERMAN: Interesting.

Forty-three minutes after the hour. Confusion about early voting in the Tampa area. The election supervisor there says a robo call from Organizing for America, a Democratic community organizing group, prompted hundreds of phone calls about early voting. But the robo call was actually about filling out absentee ballots at election offices. Early voting, which is different, doesn't start until the 27th in Florida.

SAMBOLIN: Issue number one in America, jobs. Who has them and who can create them? CNN fact checking both candidates' claims about the job market. That's coming up for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So, 47 minutes after the hour. Who won? Well, according to a post debate CNN/ORC poll, it was Mitt Romney in a walk. Sixty-seven percent gave Romney the victory, just 25 percent thought that President Obama won.

It was point counter point on that all important issue of jobs during last night which each candidate staking claims. So, what's a debate watcher to actually believe? CNN's Tom Foreman has a debate fact check for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Zoraida, you both know that the issue of this entire campaign has been jobs, so many people out of work, looking for work, worried for their jobs. And both candidates took that subject on first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Over the last 30 months, we've seen five million jobs in the private sector created. The auto industry has come roaring back. And, housing has begun to rise.

ROMNEY: They're suffering in this country. And we talk about evidence. Look at the evidence of the last four years. It's absolutely extraordinary. We got 23 million people out of work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: This is a fundamental claim. Barack Obama says he's created five million jobs, Mitt Romney says not so much. Let's look at the evidence and see what we can find. This is what the country looked like. In 2009, Barack Obama's first full year in office. Every state that looks brown out here is a state where they were losing jobs at the time, some of them very badly.

Look at Ohio over here, 10.6 percent unemployment. But gradually, over the next few years, we saw some jobs come on and education and in health care and in business services and retail. And now, look where we are today. Every state that is lighter in color is where there are either no longer losing jobs, or in most cases, gaining jobs.

Ohio, 7.2 percent unemployment now. That's better than the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says to make that happen we, indeed, had to create a lot of jobs. How many? By their count, 4.4 million so far. But here's what's not mentioned much, 4.3 million were lost during the bad days.

So, the net gain is only about 125,000 jobs. That falls short of the President's claim that he created five million jobs. It's just a little bit too much of a stretch. We have to call that claim false. Even though, many Democrats will say in a heartbeat, look, he inherited a bad economy from George Bush. Many voters agree with that, nonetheless, the numbers don't quite add up.

What about Mitt Romney's claim about 23 million people unemployed, though? We need some context to consider. Let me bring some tools up here and talk about this some. Median income in this country is about $51,000. So, here are some categories that we can look at. Low wage jobs, mid wage, high wage, this is what most people in the country are making right now.

If you look at this and you consider what happened during the recession, look, everyone lost jobs. But the low wage jobs did not lose as much as the mid wage and high wage. And when the jobs came back or started coming back, look what happened. The low wage rose the most. So, among the jobs we lost or gained basically, we lost better jobs than what we regained.

You have to consider that if you want to even come close to Mitt Romney's number of 23 million, because he's counting everyone as unemployed, everyone is giving up on looking for work, everyone who is underemployed in this fashion, everybody who's part time who would like to be full time in all actuality, although, that adds up to about 23 million.

He's really doing the same thing Barack Obama did. He's stretching the numbers to the point of breaking. So, that's false, too. So, let's just look at the overall question of real unemployment. Can Barack Obama be re-elected with the numbers he's facing? It is a tough, tough task, there's no question. Look at all the presidents who've been re-elected since the 1950s and the unemployment rates at that time. Over there, you have Dwight Eisenhower, 4.1 percent, Richard Nixon, 5.6, Ronald Reagan, 7.5, that was consider huge at the time, Bill Clinton, 5.1, the second George Bush, 5.4 and Barack Obama over here with a whopping 8.1 percent unemployment.

This is the August numbers for all of these presidents before they were re-elected. It's very difficult for any president to carry a weight like that into a re-election campaign. When Barack Obama was elected the first time, it was historic. If he's elected again, it will also be historic, because no president has been elected with that kind of number, re-elected, since Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s, the waning days of the great depression.

BERMAN: An amazing look and visual display of some of the --

SAMBOLIN: That is -- that's a great way to learn, isn't it? Love it.

BERMAN: Absolutely. Now, we want to fact check the weather now.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: And for now, we're going to go to Rob Marciano in Atlanta --

SAMBOLIN: He better get it right.

BERMAN: -- winter storm warnings already, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, I feel so insignificant.

(LAUGHTER)

MARCIANO: I don't have all those fancy --

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: We got to get you some of those.

MARCIANO: We're going old school. Roll the snow footage. Here you go. North Dakota, Dickinson, they got it. They had it in Montana as well. And they're still selling houses there. Come on! Everybody wants to live there when it's snowing in October.

SAMBOLIN: Geez!

MARCIANO: Oh, goodness.

SAMBOLIN: Poor folks.

MARCIANO: Yes. Winter storm warnings are posted right now and it's still snowing across parts the eastern sections of that state. Here are some of the snow totals. This isn't causing catastrophic delays and damage out in this part of the world, but certainly, notable for this time of year, almost a foot of snow in Bynum, Montana. Fairfield, North Dakota seeing three inches, Billings, 2.3 inches. It doesn't sound like much, but that's a record for the day. We've got winds behind and ahead of this thing and across Minnesota and Iowa right now, gusting to 40 miles an hour. So, it's a very strong system that will continue to dump snow across this region. Winter storm warnings up for parts of Eastern North Dakota and Minnesota.

We could see six to ten inches of snow. Wind blown at this -- during the day today. Fifty-two for the high temperature in Denver and dropping. They were in the 80s yesterday. So, there's your cold front. Eighty degrees in Chicago and then the bottom falls out of this storm. Cold front moves off to the east.

Meanwhile, still kind of soupy along the eastern corridor of the U.S. with rain at times today, but the cold air will be moving towards the northeast as we get towards the weekend. Probably won't see this in New York City, but it certainly will be cooler on Sunday and Monday.

SAMBOLIN: Aw. OK. I was saying it's really hot today. Soupy and warm and muggy, and it's like summer.

MARCIANO: Rain is coming.

BERMAN: Thanks, Rob.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

All right. Fifty-three minutes past the hour. Coming up, a health care fact check. The candidates agree the system is broken, but who has the plan to fix it? Senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is on the case. She's also talking meningitis.

BERMAN: And the newest nominees for the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame have been announced. Find out if your favorite acts are on the list. Those stories straight ahead. EARLY START after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Fifty-seven minutes after the hour. John Berman here along with Zoraida Sambolin, taking a look at what is trending on the web this morning.

SAMBOLIN: So, a certain Sesame Street character got a big Facebook boost after this moment in the presidential debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too, but I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So, listen to this mention of Big Bird spiked by almost 800,000 percent right after that. Still, President Obama and Mitt Romney were mentioned 12 times more than the big yellow bird. Romney had 11 percent more Facebook mentions than Obama during the debate, but overall yesterday, the President was mentioned a half a million times more than Romney.

BERMAN: On a subject of Big Bird, I called feathery, you called him furry.

SAMBOLIN: Furry.

BERMAN: And I fact check that. He is, in fact, feathery. Was Zoraida said --

SAMBOLIN: He feels furry.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: There was even more talk about the debate last night in late night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Candidates decided who would get to speak first tonight by a coin toss, which was confusing for Mitt Romney. They had to explain what a coin was. He's never seen one of those.

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: And it also happens to be -- tonight happens to be the Obama's 20th wedding anniversary, which that seems very convenient. Honey, I'd love to go to the ballet with you for our -- but I'm debating Mitt Romney that night. Hey, Mitt, help me out, will you? We got to --

(LAUGHTER)

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Now, that first debate is over, you know, it's less than five weeks, what, 34 days? And both the candidates continue to raise money by selling little knick-knacks and stuff on the websites. Have you seen the websites where they sell -- take a look. Here's a story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's about political chochki (ph), you could say, the coffee cups, the T-shirts, the key chains, the mugs. These are the items that President Obama is selling on his website to raise capital for his campaign. Mitt Romney is also selling merchandise on his site that includes caviar, cars, yachts, houses, and even an island.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. We will have some real political news on the debate. EARLY START continues right now. SAMBOLIN: That was funny.