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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Romney On 47 Percent: "I Was Completely Wrong"; Big September Jobs Report; Flights Canceled Over Loose Seats; Manson Killer Parole; NHL Cancels First Two Weeks Of Regular Season; MLB Wildcard Matchups; New Fungal Meningitis Cases; Interview with Astronaut Kevin Ford; Crisis at the Gas Pumps; Rocking the Vote in 2012

Aired October 5, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Mitt Romney changing positions. The candidate now calling his 47 percent comments completely wrong.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, this convicted killer walked free? The decision that could let a member of the Manson family out of prison?

BERMAN: Flights scrubbed, more cancellations at American Airlines as mechanics fix a serious safety flaw in half of its fleet of 757s.

Good morning, and welcome to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. 6:00 a.m. in the East.

Mitt Romney basking in his debate success and makes a major admission. That he was, quote, completely wrong in that secretly recorded video when he said nearly half of Americans were victims dependent on government. This is a big shift, folks.

President Obama and his advisers meanwhile are trying to recover from debate doldrums now going on the attack. White House correspondent Brianna Keilar is live in Washington with the very latest for us.

Before we get to Romney's mea culpa, let's refresh viewers' memories on what he said about the 47 percent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There are 47 percent of the people who are with them, dependent on government, who believe that they are victims, who believe government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, food, housing, you name it. That's an entitlement and government should give it to them. They will vote for the president no matter what. These are people who pay no income tax. So my job is not to worry about those -- I'll never convince them. They should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: After that, Romney said maybe it was inelegantly stated. What is he saying now about the comment?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Zoraida, he has gone a lot farther now. He is now really completely disavowing his comments that came to light weeks ago. Here is what he said last night on Fox News to Sean Hannity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Clearly in a campaign with hundreds, if not thousands of speeches and question and answer sessions, now and then you will say something that doesn't come out right. In this case I said something that's completely wrong.

And I absolutely believe, however, my life has shown that I care about 100 percent. And that's been demonstrated throughout my life. This whole campaign is about the 100 percent. When I become president it will be about helping the 100 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: This is a quite the departure from what Mitt Romney said last month on the day that these remarks really blew up and got so much attention.

Here is what he said in what was a hastily called press conference in California on that day where he owned really the -- the substance of what he was saying but not the style.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Well, you know, it is not elegantly stated. Let me put it that way. I'm speaking off the cuff in response to a question. But it is -- a message, which I'm going carry and continue to carry which is, look, the president's approach is attractive to people who are not paying taxes.

Because frankly, my -- discussion about lowering taxes isn't as attracted to them and, therefore, I'm not likely to draw them into my campaign as effectively as those who are in the middle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: His 47 percent comments have been seen as very hurtful for him in the last months, Zoraida, as you know. As we saw some of those poll numbers widen between President Obama and Mitt Romney especially in key battleground states.

This is what seems to be the culprit, but don't expect the Obama campaign to let Mitt Romney get off scot-free. As you know, he has been starring in their campaign ads just with his own words from the video from that fundraiser.

SAMBOLIN: No. I suspect they will continue to use that. So critics are saying that President Obama was not aggressive enough in the debates, but it looks like he is talking pretty tough now on the campaign trail. KEILAR: That's right. He kind of found his mojo yesterday when he was campaigning in Denver, in Wisconsin. Much more aggressive President Obama than we saw Wednesday might and honestly, the President Obama that I'm certainly used to seeing on the campaign trail, here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: When I got on the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But I know it couldn't have been Mitt Romney, because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow the stage last night who looked like Mitt Romney said he did not know anything about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Now, Zoraida, as you pointed out it is kind of funny because who is that guy?

SAMBOLIN: Exactly.

KEILAR: You saw on Wednesday night. President Obama before this huge crowd in Wisconsin, but as you know, we talked about this, there were 67 million people plus watching the debate. I guarantee you not that many people were watching his comments yesterday. So he has a ways to go to reverse the enthusiasm gap. I think you can say that he had between yesterday and the debate.

SAMBOLIN: You are absolutely right, a very good point. Brianna Keilar live in Washington, thank you.

BERMAN: It's 4 minutes after the hour, a lot of news today. The first Friday of the month means it is jobs day. At 8:30 a.m. Eastern, we will get an update from the Labor Department on how the jobs market is doing. And there's only one more jobs report after this one before Election Day.

SAMBOLIN: You know who is watching it all for us, Christine Romans has the forecast and a look at the big picture.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, guys. You know, a lot of economists are telling me they don't expect any surprise this month or next month before the election. They expect the same sluggish growth we have seen.

A 110,000 jobs created is the forecast for this month, 110,000 employment rate at 8.1 percent. You know, we have seen housing coming back a little bit. We've seen stronger consumer confidence. So if there is a risk, economists are telling me it could be that it is -- may be stronger than this, but 110 is what they are expecting.

Let's look at the very big picture, back to 2008. The end of 2008, a financial crisis, everyone every one of those red bars on that chart are devastation for workers and families as businesses were slashing jobs, again and again and again.

Walk with me to 2010, a real hard time getting things back on track. Walk with me to 2011. In 2011, you saw on average 159,000 jobs created every month, on average. In 2012, we are about 139,000 jobs created every month on average.

This month would be weaker than we have seen the average for the rest of the year. Let me show you one more big picture. Let's go all the way back to 1981, if you will. Back here, 1981.

That was the last time we saw what's called the labor participation rate this low. What it means is all of that devastation we showed in 2008, 2009, knocked people out of the labor market.

You now have a labor market right now that's the labor participation rate, same as it was back in 1981. That shows you that there are people who have been left out of the jobs market and that is this underlying, unnerving angst when you talk about jobs in the country we keep talking about.

Even as 100,000, 150,000 even some months 200,000 jobs created, lot of people left behind and that's what's the big political, economic and moral problem we are going through right now guys.

BERMAN: All right, thanks, Christine Romans. We will walk with you to 2010. We will walk with you to 2011 and we will walk with you anywhere. Thank you for that report this morning.

It's 7 minutes after the hour. American Airlines is pulling 48 Boeing 757s out of service to repair a problem with seats coming loose during flights. American has also canceled dozens more flights so maintenance workers can fix seat lock plungers on the planes. Those are brackets that affixed the seats to the floor. The airline says full service should be restored by sometime tomorrow.

SAMBOLIN: And a member of the infamous Manson family may soon be out of prison. A California Parole Board has recommended release for this guy, Bruce Davis. He is serving a life sentence for the 1969 murders of music teacher. Two years ago, a California panel also granted parole for Bruce Davis, but the decision was overturned by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

BERMAN: More bad news for hockey fans. The NHL has now canceled the first two weeks of the regular season because of an ongoing player lockout. This season was scheduled to start next Thursday. This news comes a week after the league wiped out the entire preseason in talks between the NHL and player union have failed to produce a new labor agreement.

Other sports news, baseball's new postseason wildcard format kicks off later today. It is one and done. The winner moves on and loser goes home in the American League. It's the surprising Baltimore Orioles traveling to Arlington to take on the defending American League champs Texas Rangers. The first pitch is at 8:37 p.m. Eastern Time. And in the national league, it is the defending World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals. They are almost in the postseason taking on the Braves in Atlanta. This all gets started at 5:07 Eastern.

SAMBOLIN: We are rooting for Atlanta.

BERMAN: Go Braves. Go CNN in Atlanta. Go, Braves.

SAMBOLIN: All right, this is pretty serious. A rare meningitis outbreak that is spreading now, 23 states are now at risk. The source and how you can stay safe. Elizabeth Cohen has all of the tips coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: It is 12 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Glad you are with us morning. The deadly meningitis outbreak is growing today. Thirty eight people in six states are fighting it. This is up considerably from 26 yesterday.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now live from Atlanta. What is the latest, Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The latest, John, is that the Food and Drug Administration is telling doctors don't use any products from the New England Compounding Center. This is a company that puts different drugs together and as we have seen, one of these drugs is associated with the illnesses and deaths that you just mentioned.

These people have fungal meningitis. A steroid was injected into their back because they had back pain and what they are investigating now is there apparently could be a fungus in there that is making people sick. These are people -- only problem was back pain. That's what they were going in for and now they have fungal meningitis, an extremely difficult disease to treat and very deadly.

BERMAN: So the FDA has now inspected the facility where this was produced. What did they find?

COHEN: You know, when they went in there they actually found fungus in a vial that you could see with the naked eye. Yes, I heard that gasp. Yes, I gasped, too, when I heard that.

They could actually just see it. They saw this. They looked in a vial and they saw some guck, for one of a better word in it. They put it under a microscope and it was a fungus. And that's why they are saying don't use anything from this place.

BERMAN: So you showed us that map. I mean, the steroid medication linked to the outbreak has been sent out of 23 states. Are more infections possible?

COHEN: Yes. More infections are possible. It was sent to 75 facilities in those states. So there may be people out there who have a fever and nausea and the doctors can't quite figure out why this person is sick.

Well, people are going to start putting two and two together and they are going to say wow, this person got a steroid injection a week ago or whatever perhaps it is this fungal meningitis. So we will be likely hearing more from this.

I want to add, though, this is really crucial. When people hear meningitis they think contagious, right? They think I'm going to get it from the guy next to me on the bus or my friend at work. That is not the case here. You are -- you only need to worry if you got a steroid injection with this drug.

BERMAN: All right, thank you, Elizabeth Cohen, for keeping us up to date on this story. That has us all, you know, I think a little nervous right now.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely. I know a ton of people who get those steroid injections for back pain. So I don't know. I guess, you go to your doctor, call your doctor if you have any of those symptoms.

It's 14 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up-to-date, Christine Romans with this morning's top stories.

ROMANS: Good morning you two. Mitt Romney basking in his debate success makes a major shift saying he was completely wrong in that secretly recorded video when he said a nearly half of Americans were victims dependent on government.

President Obama and his advisers meanwhile are fighting back, playing debate damage control, saying Romney's performance was unprecedented in its dishonesty.

Later this hour, director/producer/actor Adam Shankman will join us live. He directed the latest star-studded Rock the Vote effort. He's going to weigh in on the president's debate performance.

Also new this morning, U.S. Special Operations Forces are now in Libya, helping gather intel on militants who were allegedly involved in the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans. Military officials tell CNN that includes intercepting communications and analyzing drone images and one-on-one interviews with people who may have information.

The military is also providing security for an FBI team that is now on the ground three weeks after the attack and assassination of our ambassador there.

Police officer in Duluth, Minnesota, is facing assault charges after being caught by surveillance camera --

BERMAN: Wow.

ROMANS: -- punching a man in a wheelchair at a detox center.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness. ROMANS: The video shows the officer attempting to restrain Anthony Jackson. Anthony Jackson was intoxicated at the time. This is a detox center. After being struck once in the face by Jackson, officer Jouppi responded by punching Jackson five times in the head and pulling him out of the chair. Very disturbing.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my goodness!

ROMANS: A California mother says her gay son earned and deserves Eagle Scout honors. Karen Andresen started a petition at Change.org saying her son, Ryan, who turns 18 next week fulfilled all the necessary requirements. The Boy Scouts of America responded by saying Ryan proactively notified his leader and counselor which means he falls short of scouting standards on sexual orientation. The petition has received some 130,000 signatures so far.

If you want to se the Taj Mahal soon, you don't have to go to India to go do it. Developers in Dubai say they are building an exact replica with a cost of $350 million. Taj Arabia will feature a 300-room five- star hotel, along with apartments, restaurant and shops. It will join copies of the Eiffel Tower, Egyptian pyramids and the Great Wall of China in Dubai's Falcon City of Wonders.

BERMAN: I thought you were going to say you could go to Jersey now. But you have to go to Dubai.

ROMANS: If it's Vegas, maybe.

SAMBOLIN: That's what I thought. I thought maybe they are building it in Vegas.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Have you been to Eiffel Tower in Vegas? It's nice.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you so much, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: All right. Seventeen minutes after the hour right now.

A foot of snow in the north and cold stretching all the way to Texas.

SAMBOLIN: It's snowball weather.

BERMAN: Alexandra Steele is in for Rob Marciano.

What's going on, Alexandra?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You think it is too early for snow.

BERMAN: Yes.

STEELE: Say it ain't snow. No. Not for Fargo, right? Let's take you through and show you what it looks like. The snow that fell about 2 1/2 inches in Fargo, that cold air is in place, you can see that. But also you can see, it's a very wet consistency. So certainly on the grass surfaces there, less so than the cement. But it's moisture-laden, the moisture is there, cold air is there. Coldest air yet of the season. And it was very windy as well.

So a lot of blowing snow with the wind chills right now in Minot, at 12 degrees. So incredibly cold. Some of the first teens for windshields. So good morning, waking up early there.

It feels like 21 in Pierre. It feels like 19 in Fargo where they pick about 2 1/2 inches. But there was over a foot in other places just north of that. Here's the very clear delineation behind the front cold and ahead of the front, temperatures still summerlike. But cold air, guys, continues to drop South, and by Sunday, only 60ss and 50s in the Southeast as well.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you very much, Alexandra. I was saying all the folks in Fargo, send us pictures so we can get ready, right?

All right. An Indiana man that wanted to join the U.S. military but told he was too heavy to serve has amazed the recruiters by dropping 160 pounds.

BERMAN: Wow.

Kevin Ammerman says he went to every branch of the military to try to sign up, but he was turned down every time. So he ditched his junk food habit, started an exercise program and here is how much he weighed when he started.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN AMMERMAN, NEW ARMY RECRUIT: Three-fifty-one. And when you are that big, it has an impact not only on your confidence. I would actually think I was bigger than I was. And so my driver's license said it was 375 but I was actually 351.

SGT. DANIEL MECUM, ARMY RECRUITER: I think it's absolutely amazing what he's done. He's really come a long way. He is an inspiration to anybody who wants to enlist in the armed forces and serve their country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Kevin slimmed down just in time also at 34. He also had to meet the Army's age limit for new recruits. He ships out on October 30.

BERMAN: Good luck for him and good luck pal.

We have a gas shortage to tell you about this morning. It is so serious that some gas stations, they've shut down altogether for real. A live report coming up after this quick break.

SAMBOLIN: You are in rare form today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Twenty-three minutes past the hour.

Gas prices in California are the highest in the Lower 48. According to AAA, the average for a gallon of gas in California is $4.48. More than $5 in some places as well.

Now, gas itself is at a premium. Refinery and supply chain problems led to a severe gas shortage, that is. It's driven prices way up and -- it has actually caused stations to shut down their pumps. Companies affected include Valero, Exxon and Costco.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is live at a gas station in Burbank, California. Paul, what is causing the shortage?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you alluded to it before. There was a disruption in the supply chain. We had problems here. You might have seen some of these. In fact, there was a fire back in August at a refinery. We had a pipeline shut down. We had power outages. So a myriad of factors contributing to this.

If you look over my left shoulder, this Shell station is open. And, in fact, it has some of the lower prices in this particular neighborhood. But it's at $4.61 a gallon.

SAMBOLIN: Wow.

VERCAMMEN: Now, imagine what's going on for the consumers here.

I was talking to a young woman who was a military reservist. She had been in Mississippi, came back to California and here is what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICOLE MITCHELL, DRIVER: It was a little bit of a shock for me. I've actually been out of town the last couple months and I've been where the gas prices are a lot cheaper. So it's about a dollar higher than what I've been paying. And even with the hybrid, it's a lot of money to pay, you know, $4.60.

LIBBY REED, DRIVER: I'm (INAUDIBLE). And it takes a lot of gas to drive to locations. And I can't afford it, because I won't -- I won't be able to pay the gas to get over there. It's just very difficult when it goes up this much this fast.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And when you see some of the larger SUVs come into this station, you will know that a lot of the prices go above $100 for them to fill up, Zoraida. So tough times here in California.

SAMBOLIN: That's really painful. So we were reading about a possible plan to fix the problem. Get a state waiver to allow the sale of winter-grade fuel. Can you tell us about that?

VERCAMMEN: Yes. Winter-grade fuel costs a lot less to produce than summer-grade fuel, which is environmentally-friendly and the idea is to keep down those pollution emissions in the hot weather. If they can convert sooner to winter-grade fuel, it could get a lot more of the cheaper gas into the pipelines sooner. They've got to get a waiver from the air quality control board. If that happens, that would alleviate a lot of the problems here in California, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Hey, Paul, we are feeling for the folks here in California because this is really tough when you see $100 to fill your gas tank. But is it possible that this could spread to other states as well?

VERCAMMEN: No. They think it is going to mainly be confined to California because that's where the problems are. And, of course, one thing to remember if you are watching at home, each state is also vulnerable to its individual taxes.

SAMBOLIN: Right.

VERCAMMEN: The highest gasoline tax of the nation is in New York, just a little higher than California and both those states push right up there at about 70 cents a gallon. So more pain on those coasts.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. I hail from Chicago. In Illinois, it is sky high as well. Paul Vercammen live for us in California, thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks, Zoraida.

Coming up -- uh-oh, movie star in handcuffs. What Daryl Hannah did to her this mug shot.

If you are leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop or mobile phone. Just got to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: A bit of a monkey wrench in your travel plans. American Airlines canceling pilots as it scrambles to fix a seat safety problem.

BERMAN: Rock the Vote, the next generation. The star-studded PSA aims squarely at young voters. Actor, director and judge on "So You Think You Can Dance", Adam Shankman, joins us live this hour on CNN.

SAMBOLIN: Space age hitchhiker. The American astronaut who is getting a ride from the Russians into the final frontier. We are going to talk to him coming up as well.

Welcome back to EARLY START. It's nice to have you with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 30 minutes past the hour right now. And we have some new developments to tell you about this morning. More flights canceled. More planes idle. This is shaping up to be a rough, rough morning for American Airlines and travelers as thousands may be stranded -- 48 Boeing 757s have been called in for maintenance and passengers on dozens more of American flights will have to find another way to get where they are going.

All of this because of something called a seat lock plunger. The airline believes that this is the culprit that caused passengers seats to come loose from the floor on three different pilots.

George Howell is live this morning from the CNN Center in Atlanta. And, George, explain to us what this seat plunger lock thing is. How does it work and how does American believe some of them came loose?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, good morning.

Well, it's basically a pin and lock system, a mechanism to keep that seat fixed to keep it attached to the floor. But, John, we are hearing several different things. First, I want to talk about what we are hearing from our affiliate WFAA in Dallas. They went out and talked to American Airlines and they learned that part of the problem came down to this. Came down to soft drinks and coffees that had spilled over time and eventually contributed to the wear and tear on these systems that caused them to go into the unlocked position.

Now just a few days ago, John, we heard from American Airlines directly. They said that these clamps were put on twisted, backwards. And we also heard from workers and the union. The union pointing the finger at outsourced maintenance as the reason for this problem. So all of this just -- lot of bad news for American Airlines. An airline that just went into bankruptcy nearly a year ago and has been dogged with cancelations and delays.

What we are seeing now, the airline is basically doubling down. They have called 48 of these 757 jets and now they are going back and retrofitting those mechanisms with another device to keep these seats on the floor. They already check these 48 pilots just in the past few days, they're doing it again, so that passengers like this woman who does not want to be identified -- so that she and others don't have to go through the same thing again. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PASSENGER: The seat flipped backwards. It was actually a complete nightmare. And so people were -- essentially on the laps of the passengers behind them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: George, I still can't believe when you told us in the beginning there, that American is blaming this in part on spilled soft drinks.

HOWELL: That's what they are saying. What it means for passengers, John, we are talking about thousands of people who will he go to the airports today and many will find that their flights are canceled or delayed due to this maintenance problem but American says they will have the problem fixed by October 6th, by tomorrow. So -- what we saw yesterday some 44 pilots, rather 50 flights canceled, 44 expected to be canceled today. That number could go up or down depending upon how quickly they can fix this problem. But again, a lot of people will be out of luck as they try to make those destinations today.

BERMAN: All right. George Howell, live in Atlanta, thanks very much for that.

SAMBOLIN: How many soft drinks have you spilled on a flight?

BERMAN: More than a few actually.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: I still can't believe that's causing the seats to flip.

SAMBOLIN: I know. It seems really odd.

Thirty-three minutes past the hour.

President Obama didn't mention Mitt Romney's 47 percent comment during their debate but Romney is talking about it. The Republican challenger campaigning with renewed vigor now says he was completely wrong to say 47 percent of Americans were victims and dependent on government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Clearly in a campaign with hundreds, if not thousands of speeches and questions and answer sessions, now and then you are going to say something that doesn't come out right. In this case, I said something that's completely wrong. And I absolutely believe however that my life has shown that I care about 100 percent. And that's been demonstrated throughout my life.

And this whole campaign is about the 100 percent. When I become president, it will be about helping the 100 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Romney has campaign events in Virginia and Florida today.

BERMAN: A new film about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden is scheduled to air just two days before Election Day. "SEAL Team 6: The Raid on Osama bin Laden," is being distributed by Harvey Weinstein, a big backer of President Obama. This will be carried on the National Geographic channel.

SAMBOLIN: Lawyers for New York City have issued a subpoena to documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. They want outtakes and other materials from his film "Central Park Five." It is a movie about the five men ultimately exonerated back in 1989, the Central Park jogger rape case. Those men are suing the city for $250 million. Burns' lawyers say before they turn over anything, the city must prove the materials are vital to their defense and unavailable elsewhere. BERMAN: Actress and environmental activist Daryl Hannah arrested again over the Keystone pipeline. Her rep said she stood in front of an excavator in Texas, at a construction site for the controversial pipeline. Hannah was arrested outside the White House last year in an earlier protest against the pipeline.

SAMBOLIN: An American astronaut in Russia. He is about to embark on a mission to the stars with a couple of cosmonauts. Astronaut Kevin Ford is standing by. There he is live. We are going to talk to him right after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Thirty-nine minutes past the hour.

An American astronaut about to hitch a ride with the Russians up to the International Space Station. Later this month, NASA's Kevin Ford will join two Russian astronauts aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which will blast them into orbit for a five-month stay aboard the ISS. Ford will join the station's current team and take over as expedition commander. This will mark Ford's second space flight and his first aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

And Kevin Ford is joining us live now from the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, where he and his crewmates have been preparing for this mission.

Thank you for being with us, Kevin. So you will be at that time ISS from the end of the month until March of next year. Can you tell us what you will be doing while you are there?

KEVIN FORD, NASA ASTRONAUT: Well, I can't tell you exactly what we will be doing but I can tell you what we plan to do. So we -- we hope to carry out a lot of science. We had a lot of training on maybe 30 or 40 different crew, intensive science projects that will do onboard. Have to do with fluid dynamics, combustion, medicine, human science, various kinds of things, osteoporosis.

They are all very involved when you do them in zero g. So the training is extensive. That's the purpose of going up there to get all of this science -- science done.

Of course, there are a lot of elements to fly something space you have to train for as well. Getting there, getting back, handling of the cargo that arrives and departs. Going outside and doing space walks and fixing things on the exterior of the space station.

So we trained for an awful lot of things.

SAMBOLIN: I want to talk about that training because your last flight to the ISS was aboard the shuttle Discovery. That was back in 2009.

So what's different here? Is the training different for you?

FORD: Well, the -- first big thing is that from the time I get to Kazakhstan to the time I get onboard space station, I'll be speaking Russian, with -- with my Russian cosmonaut colleagues. We fly on the Soyuz out of Kazakhstan and all of the on-board documentation and communications with control centers is all done in Russian, and for the most part with my crewmates. They like to practice their English, too. We use a mix inside the spacecraft.

That's a big different -- but spacecraft itself is also a very different, obviously. The Soyuz is more like -- rocket, like missile. It's about the size of the space shuttle solid rocket booster. Spacecraft is encapsulated inside. You get a boost into orbit and it's a rather small spacecraft with just three people in it that flies and docks in the space station.

And then you come home instead of landing on the runway with wings like we did in the space shuttle. We'll come home to a land landing in Kazakhstan underneath a big parachute. So very different system of transportation, but one I'm very confident in and looking forward to riding in.

SAMBOLIN: Well, one that really freaked me out, I have to tell you, because when I was read being this and the way you land, it is a land down land instead of land on water. You are spinning throughout the entire re-entry. Are you concerned at all about that?

FORD: Well, it is a very proven spacecraft. Flown successfully now for decades literally. So the hardware is good. The design is proven. It is dynamic and, you know, things occasionally do get inning. But we have been trained and so many of the situations. So we'll handle them if they come.

I'm really looking forward to the experience of the landing. It's very dynamic especially after having been in zero g for 4 1/2 months to have a parachute open at very high speed and then actually land hard on the surface of the planet. But it should be a great experience.

SAMBOLIN: I've got to tell you, we are very excited for you. We are very grateful that you spent time with us this morning. And we are wishing you a great deal of luck as well.

NASA's Kevin Ford, thank you for being with us this morning.

All right. John, back to you.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks, Zoraida.

Forty-three minutes after the hour right now.

American Airlines is pulling 48 Boeing 757s out of service this morning to repair a problem with seats coming loose during flights. American has been forced to cancel dozens more flights today. So maintenance workers can secure seats that have come loose on some planes. Airline says service should be back to normal by tomorrow.

At least five people are now dead in a fungal meningitis outbreak. And people in almost half the states in the country are at risk. The CDC saying the steroid medication linked to the outbreak was sent to 23 states. So more infections are possible.

That steroid technically used to treat back pain is injected into patients' spines. The company that made the medication has voluntarily recalled it.

SAMBOLIN: Wall Street and Main Street waiting for the September jobs report to come out at 8:30 Eastern this morning. Economists surveyed by CNN money expect more of the same sluggish growth.

Here's their prediction: 110,000 jobs added last month. If that pans out it will be a slight improvement over August when 96,000 jobs were created. But in both cases, those numbers are not nearly high enough to bring down the jobless rate.

BERMAN: Baseball's postseason gets under way today with two wild card matchups. In this new format, the winner moves on, the loser goes home.

In the American League, it's the upstart Baltimore Orioles traveling to Texas to take on Josh Hamilton and the defending American League champs. First pitch, 8:37 p.m. Eastern Time. And in the National League is the defending champion, St. Louis Cardinals, taking on the Braves in Atlanta. That will get going at 5:07 Eastern this evening.

Soledad, who are you rooting for?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: No idea. If the Yankees aren't playing --

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: -- playing. Sorry.

BERMAN: What's our starting point?

O'BRIEN: I thought I could answer it for you. Obviously, we're waiting for that breaking news on the economy. The closely watched jobs report you were just talking about. It's getting more scrutiny than usual, of course, because of the presidential election is nearing. Are more job seekers getting hired? What does it say about our economic future? Those are the kinds of questions we're going to try to answer this morning when we bring that jobs report to you.

Also, Mitt Romney, he was on his victory lap attempting to repair damage from that secretly recorded tape where he said the 47 percent. Well, now, he's saying, quote, "I was completely wrong." The question today, is that a rehab image or is that just a flip-flop? And why distract from your victory lap, anyway, to talk about the 47 percent?

We're going to discuss all of that. We'll have both sides weigh in for us. Republican congressman, Phil Gingrey, will join us. Democratic congressman, Elijah Cummings, will be our guest as well.

And the man who was Charles Manson's right hand man, now a California prison panel has granted him parole. The notorious (INAUDIBLE) Bruce Davis. We'll take a look at the details behind that. That's now going to his parole.

That's all ahead at 7:00 this morning on "STARTING POINT", just about 14 minutes from now.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Who are you rooting for?

BERMAN: Go with the Braves and the Orioles tonight. Sorry, Texas.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: All right. Forty-six minutes after the hour. And now, a big-time Hollywood director taking the lead on a very different kind of project, getting people to rock the vote. We will talk to Adam Shankman next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: It is a big new push to get America's youth to the ballot box. The Rock the Vote campaign is out with a brand-new star-studded PSA. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- vote, because we matter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because you matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will vote because we make a difference.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Adam Shankman is the director of that video. He's also directed a number of popular films, including "Rock of Ages" and "Hairspray." The guy dances. He produces. I think he does mime also. He does everything. But this morning, we're here to talk about Rock the Vote.

ADAM SHANKMAN, FILMMAKER: Did you just say mime? BERMAN: You do everything, so I figured that must be included in the list here.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Well, my question to you is this, most of your stuff, including the mine, is a apolitical. Why get into Rock the Vote?

SHANKMAN: Oh, God. Are you kidding? Nothing is actually apolitical. Rock the Vote is something I've been affiliated for 21 years. A very good friend of mine who's actually deceased started the campaign. And, I got agitated by the fact that there was a lot of -- you know, there's the notion of voter suppression, voter purging and all of that.

And I called Rock the Vote and said, you know, what most Hollywood folk, I guess, you would call us do, and you know, there's very little I can do besides -- besides write a check and put on a show. And so, that's what I did.

BERMAN: Put on a show. It's like --

SHANKMAN: Put on a show.

(CROSSTALK)

SHANKMAN: That's kind of what I do.

BERMAN: You know, Rock the Vote doesn't pick sides in this.

SHANKMAN: No.

BERMAN: Is that hard for you?

SHANKMAN: No, it is not hard for me. It's not hard for me, because I actually adore the fact that that is one of our great American rights is that we have a choice is that we have two sides and that we balance each other. I absolutely have a side that -- that's because I have certain principles that I believe are supported by a certain side.

BERMAN: Before we move on, you also did -- "Funny or Die" and I feel like we owe it to our viewers to show them this.

SHANKMAN: Aha.

BERMAN: I think this is -- I think this is clean enough to watch.

SHANKMAN: There's a dirty version.

BERMAN: So, let's watch.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my first time voting, but I know what I'm doing. I'm going to run in, scream the name of the person I'm voting for and run out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to skip my next hair cut to vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm voting so I can take my mind off of Kristin and Rob.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I vote because it's all of our civic duty to help choose the people who will lead this country into the future. Also, I love hitting on the little old chicks who check you in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right. There is another version.

SHANKMAN: There is such a dirtier version.

(CROSSTALK)

SHANKMAN: Silliness. Does silliness work? Will that motivate kids?

SHANKMAN: I don't know if that motivates kids. I guess. Actually, it does motivate kids. Kids want to be talked to in way that this are not -- preached to and I think that there's this sort of hammer that happens whether you're talking about voting and politics.

I mean, if you've been watching what's going on in politics right now you can obviously see that there is -- you know, it's -- so preachy and, frankly, kind of annoying and full of lies and which fact checkers have been a part of and I think it's really important to just try to get people to jump in the fray as part of that bigger picture.

BERMAN: So, 2008, the -- young voters turned out.

SHANKMAN: Yes.

BERMAN: -- at an episode --

SHANKMAN: Two million young voters who registered by Rock the Vote in that election year.

BERMAN: So, that's the good news. The bad news is the Pew Center, whole bunch of research centers say that enthusiasm among young voters is down, way down.

SHANKMAN: Of course, it is. Are you kidding?

BERMAN: But why? And what are you going to do about it?

SHANKMAN: Because have you seen what the candidates are -- I'm sorry. Our president who is, I believe, doing a yeoman's job, is out there killing himself, being the president, trying to fix what's going on right now, exhausted. And you have what is -- you know, I don't think Mitt Romney is a bad guy, but I think he is a rich white guy who's out there.

BERMAN: But quickly, if the president is out there doing everything you say is, why is he not energizing voters like he did four years ago?

SHANKMAN: Because -- it's a troublesome time right now. Are you kidding? It's because - he's been blocked in every way by the GOP. And, I think that he -- listen, I think that they're both good guys. I just think that our president stands for the principles I do and -- I think it's really, really hard right now.

BERMAN: But whatever side you want, you want people to vote.

SHANKMAN: That's it.

BERMAN: Adam Shankman, thanks for joining us.

SHANKMAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Good luck with the Rock to Vote.

SHANKMAN: Appreciate it.

BERMAN: Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Today's "Best Advice" from TV star, Tim Daly. That is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: It is 57 minutes past the hour. We wrap it up as always with "Best Advice."

BERMAN: Here is Christine.

ROMANS: And today's advice we hear from director and producer Tim Daly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM DALY, DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER: I think the best advice I've ever received was from my dad who said something cryptic, but I get it now. He said you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him act. I think that meant that nobody really wants you to be an actor. You have to want -- you want -- to want it yourself and that -- you know, that it's a privilege to be able to do that.

The second piece of great advice that I've gotten is from William Shakespeare, and that is -- this is going to sound corny, but to thy self be true, which is probably the best advice anyone could have anywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: First Shakespeare reference, second dad reference.

BERMAN: Ever?

ROMANS: I think so, yes.

BERMAN: Wow! Mom has like 10,000, dad has two.

SAMBOLIN: We've got another --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: All right. That is EARLY START for this morning. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.