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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Sandusky: Blaming the Victim; Debate Bounce for Romney

Aired October 9, 2012 - 05:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Blaming the victim. The convicted child molester, Jerry Sandusky pleads his case from behind bars -- a stunning audio tape just hours before he is sentenced this morning.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Debate bounce. Mitt Romney erasing President Obama's lead. This is a new poll -- a major shift on women voters as well and an injection of enthusiasm. We go inside all the numbers with now four weeks left.

BERMAN: And biggest jump ever. One man literally falling from the edge of outer space, 23 miles straight down on purpose. Why? And will he make it?

SAMBOLIN: You know, that is the question. Why? What is the craziest thing you've ever done?

BERMAN: Well, it's not jumping 23 miles straight down from outer space. That's a high bar right there.

SAMBOLIN: I can't wait to talk to him and find out the why.

BERMAN: It's nuts.

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.

Let's get started there. Just hours before his sentencing, Jerry Sandusky goes public, releasing a three-minute audio tape from behind bars, proclaiming his innocence. In four hours, the former Penn State football coach will be in court to find out his punishment for sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year span. And he is clearly defiant.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JERRY SANDUSKY, CONVICTED CHILD PREDATOR: They can take away my life. They can make me out as a monster. They can treat me as a monster, but they can't take away my heart. In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged, disgusting acts.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Susan Candiotti is live for us this morning from Pennsylvania. And, Susan, and this take -- he takes no personal responsibility. He lays the blame for his fate on one of his victims as well. And the big question -- one of the questions we're asking this morning is: did his attorneys know he was about to do this?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Zoraida. Good morning to you.

His attorneys, at least one of them, did know, they didn't know the content of what he was going to say. And the reason that he made this comment is that because there was a meeting earlier in the day and the judge made it clear to Mr. Sandusky that he is not supposed to be critical of the judicial system when he made his statement in court.

So, what did they do? Well, he decided to release a statement in another way, via a radio station. And in fact, Sandusky did take shots at a host of people, including investigators, Penn State, even his victims, including one in particular.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SANDUSKY: Young man who's dramatic, a veteran accuser and always sought attention started everything. He was joined by a well- orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys and other accusers. They won.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: And, Susan, Sandusky is also expected to read a statement before the judge. What is he expected to say?

CANDIOTTI: Well, I think as one of his attorneys told me, there will be contrition but not admission. So, again, he will not be taking -- he will not say, yes, I did it and I'm sorry for that. He'll probably speak for about five to 10 minutes and then it will be the victims' turn.

SAMBOLIN: You also have a brand for us -- a portion of a statement from one of Sandusky's victims?

CANDIOTTI: That's right. CNN has obtained a statement, an excerpt from one of the statements of victim number five. This is what he plans to say in part. Quote, "I hope and pray that when Your Honor sentences Mr. Sandusky, that you consider the real harm he has done to me and others. And take into account the tears, pain and private anguish I and others have suffered."

In fact, his civil attorney says that this victim and others are angry and will speak about that in court. Here is Thomas Kline.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM KLINE, ATTORNEY FOR VICTIM #5: This closes the book on Mr. Sandusky for my client when he gets an opportunity to address the court and tell the court how it's affected him so terribly and (AUDIO GAP). The book that remains open is the book against Penn State. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: All right. Susan Candiotti live for us in Pennsylvania -- thank you for that.

BERMAN: Got to tell you, that tape to me is stunning. I don't think I ever heard anything like that from a guy who is about to be sentenced.

SAMBOLIN: Exactly. From somebody who is about to face a judge, kind of shocking.

BERMAN: Crazy stuff.

Four minutes after the hour right here.

And exactly four weeks to go until Election Day, two new polls show the race for the White House basically tide. In one poll, Mitt Romney's strong debate performance has essentially erased President Obama's lead.

A poll by the Pew Research Center gives Romney a four-point lead over President Obama, 49 percent to 45 percent. That same poll last month had Romney trailing Obama by eight points.

However, the latest Gallup tracking poll has Obama leading Romney 50 percent to 45 percent, a margin that actually grew yesterday.

But neither of these numbers may be telling the whole story. So, coming up, we're going to take a look at all these results with Peter Hamby.

SAMBOLIN: My head is spinning with all the numbers.

BERMAN: I know.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thirteen thousand people may have received contaminated steroid injection. They're linked to this meningitis outbreak. And that's according to the CDC.

The death toll is now at eight; 105 people in nine states are infected.

Health officials say 75 medical facilities in 23 states received the contaminated steroid injections. The company that makes the medication has voluntarily recalled it.

BERMAN: Fear of chaos overseas this morning as German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a very unpopular visit to Greece today. Now, she's seen as the enforcer of drastic cuts imposed on Athens by the European Union.

This is new video of protesters in the streets of Greece this morning. Security is very, very tight there and protests in some areas are completely banned. Her visit comes as Greek government officials attempt to pass another $17 billion in cuts in order to qualify for more E.U. bailout money.

SAMBOLIN: Thousands of people now complaining about health problems two weeks after the explosion at that chemical factory in South Korea. At the time of the blast, five people were killed, 18 were injured. The resulting toxic leak has sent some 3,200 people to hospitals. They're suffering from headaches, nausea, soar throats and severe coughs.

BERMAN: Seventy-one medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles were given until today to today to shut down. But many are still operating and they may be able to stay open. The city council reversed itself last week, prevailing a dispensary ban passed a few months earlier.

"The New York Times" reports there may be as many as 1,000 dispensaries in Los Angeles, maybe more, which far outnumbers Starbucks locations there.

SAMBOLIN: All right. And weather permitting, in just a few hours, Felix Baumgartner will attempt no mere skydiving feat, a death-defying freefall from the edge of space, 23 miles above the desert in Roswell, New Mexico. He is trying to become the first person ever to break the sound barrier, with just a suit, helmet and a parachute.

Baumgartner is trying to break a skydive record that has stood for more than 50 years. So we are going to have live coverage of this event throughout the morning right here on CNN.

BERMAN: Yes, we are. It seems like the craziest thing I ever heard of.

All right. Seven minutes after the hour. And still unbeaten, the Houston Texans 5-0 after beating the New York Jets 23-17 in Monday night football. Star running back Arian Foster led the way with 152 yards and a touchdown.

The Texans and Atlanta Falcons, they are the only NFL teams still undefeated, still without a loss. The Jets (INAUDIBLE) last night.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Five-o-seven -- the surprise star of last week's presidential debate lands a role in a brand new political ad. Here's the taste for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AD NARRATOR: Big, yellow, a menace to our economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So more on Big Bird and the race to the White House. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It's 11 minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

Election Day just four weeks away, four weeks. This is the big time. And President Obama holds a campaign rally today at Ohio State University. Mitt Romney holds rallies in both Ohio and Iowa.

And I want to take another look at those two polls that everyone is talking about this morning, because they really seem to paint different pictures of this race. The Pew Research Center gives Mitt Romney a four-point lead over President Obama, 49 percent to 45 percent. That survey did include more likely voters who identify themselves as Republicans.

However, the latest Gallup tracking poll has President Obama leading Mitt Romney, 50 percent to 45 percent. This poll does include voters who were surveyed before the presidential debate, which most voters say Romney won though interestingly enough, it actually showed some movement toward Obama yesterday.

All right. Hard to keep track of. There's a lot going on here.

CNN political reporter Peter Hamby joins us live now from Washington. Please, Peter, make sense of this for us.

PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: OK. Well, these are the first two real credible polls we've seen since the debate. The bottom line here is that there's movement in both toward Mitt Romney. You're right. The Gallup poll had about three days of sampling before the debate that showed Obama winning.

After the debate, in the four days after the debate, Gallup had Romney and Obama tied. If you look inside these numbers, 70 percent of people surveyed said that Romney beat Obama in the debate. He basically crushed Obama, voters agree on that, independents agree on that.

Again, the bottom line is we're going to see polls out every day. We're going to have to make sense of all of these and put them in context. There's unmistakable trend toward Mitt Romney after the debate. Both campaigns, I can tell you, have internal polling showing that the race has tightened since the debate.

But, John, one thing I'm looking for are the swing state polls. We usually get them on Wednesday, Wednesday -- Thursday every week. Places like Ohio, Virginia, Florida, to see what the impact of the debate is in those states. But I'm sure we'll have a poll every day, every hour from here on out, John.

BERMAN: That's right. And, by the way, we have a poll on CNN on Ohio, that will be debuting this afternoon which everyone is waiting to see. That will be hugely interesting. Also interesting, a new ad just out seconds ago with a somewhat unusual new star. Big Bird is making airwaves now.

HAMBY: Yes, he is. The Obama campaign and Democrats have seized on Big Bird. Mitt Romney said during the debate that cutting funding to PBS would be one element of his plan to shrink the deficit. Democrats say that's insignificant way to do it.

Look at this ad that the Obama campaign came out with today -- John.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA FOR AMERICA)

AD NARRATOR: Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, Dennis Kozlowski, criminals, gluttons of greed -- and the evil genius who towered over them? One man has the guts to speak his name.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Big Bird. Big Bird. Big Bird.

BIG BIRD: It's me, Big Bird.

AD NARRATOR: Big, yellow, a menace to our economy. Mitt Romney knows it's not Wall Street you have to worry about, it's Sesame Street.

ROMNEY: I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS.

AD NARRATOR: Mitt Romney taking on the enemy no matter where they nest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMBY: It's a funny ad, but it's kind of a risky bet for the Obama campaign. You know, their campaign has been criticized for being about small things before the convention. They're criticized about that by Republicans all summer. We'll see if this could be a backfire for the Obama campaign. The campaign tells me, though, that this ad is running only on national broadcast and cable. It's not running in swing states.

So, I'm interested to see how much money is actually behind this ad or if this is just an attempt to get the chattering classes like us talking --

BERMAN: I got to say, Peter, I have two minds here, because on the one hand it is small, but every time I see it, I laugh. It is genuinely humorous and funny. So, maybe that does again.

All swing states today, Ohio, Iowa for these candidates today?

HAMBY: Yes, Ohio and Iowa -- excuse me, Romney is in Iowa, Barack Obama is in Ohio. He -- what's interesting, John, remember the jobless rate came out. It's at 7.8 percent. It fell below 8 percent on Friday, according to administration officials.

Listen to Romney last night in Virginia talk about the unemployment rate, and 8 percent. Listen what he said, John.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: We've seen the slowest recover from a recession in history. As a matter of fact, I just read that if you go back 60 years and look at all the bumps we had with unemployment above 8 percent before President Obama, there were 39 months in all 60 years with unemployment above 8 percent. Under this president, there have been 43 months, under one president alone. He does not understand what it takes to create a real recovery. I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMBY: So Romney not letting go of that 8 percent figure even though the unemployment rate has fallen there. But interesting to note, he was in Virginia last night. He talked about Ohio and Iowa today. The unemployment rate is under 6 percent in both Virginia and Iowa, and it's approaching 7 percent in Ohio. So it's still kind of a tough argument for Romney to make, John, in certain swing states.

BERMAN: All right. Peter, thanks very much again.

Again, the unemployment rate is now below 8 percent. Mitt Romney trying to maybe muddle the issue a little bit, talking about the 8 percent figure.

You, of course, can stay with CNN for the vice presidential debate on Thursday night. Our coverage begins at 7:00 Eastern. You can also go to CNN.com.

SAMBOLIN: It is 16 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date.

Here's Christine Romans with our top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to both of you this morning.

Jerry Sandusky faces life behind bars when he's sentenced later this morning. The former Penn State coach is expected to speak at his hearing this morning before finding out his fate. The convicted child predator released an audio tape from prison yesterday insisting he's innocent, while blaming his downfall on one of his victims and a, quote, "well-orchestrated conspiracy."

Joran van der Sloot may become a father. The Dutchman was arrested but never charged in the disappearance of American teen Natalee Holloway in Aruba back in 2005. Van der Sloot is in prison in Peru, serving a 28-year sentence for murder of another woman. A Dutch newspaper reports he apparently got a woman pregnant during an unsupervised visit.

Take a look at this. From last night's Yankees-Orioles playoff game. And double down the line and a play at the plate but Ichiro Suzuki with some matrix moves. Look at this, he gets around the tag and scores. He should have been out by a mile. That gave the Yankees an early lead. But the Orioles came back to tie the series at one game a piece.

BERMAN: Justice was done as far as I'm concerned there. Yankees lost.

ROMANS: In the National League, the Cardinals even the series at one. The center fielder Jon Jay crashed full speed into the wall to make an amazing grab. Watch that. Oh! Carlos Beltran hit two home runs in a 12-4 win there. The series now goes to D.C. for the first playoff game in the nation's capital.

SAMBOLIN: Wow, that's exciting.

ROMANS: The first playoff game in D.C. in 79 years.

BERMAN: Fantastic. Thank you so much, Christine. And go, Orioles.

It is 18 minutes after the hour right now, time for your early read for local news that's making national headlines.

First from the "Detroit News". A sex scandal forcing Detroit's police chief, Ralph Goodbee Jr., into immediate retirement. Mayor Dave Bing made the announcement yesterday. It comes a week after a female officer alleged she had a relationship with the chief. This is the second time Goodbee has been accused of having an affair with a subordinate in his two years on the job.

SAMBOLIN: From "The New York Post," a different kind of road rage in the Big Apple. Motorists apparently are furious over a report that the city is rigging its red light cameras. AAA says yellow lights should be solid for three seconds. But they found -- where there are cameras, the duration is up to 15 percent shorter.

BERMAN: Really?

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Do you sometimes as short as 2.5 seconds. AAA, which favors red light cameras for safety, says Big Apple drivers aren't being given enough time to get through the intersections. And the red light camera programs have become more about raising revenue. The cameras have generated more than $235 million for the city in the last five years.

BERMAN: That sounds like cheating. I want my money back. Maybe I should have been caught those things.

SAMBOLIN: Have you gotten a couple of those?

BERMAN: I've been caught.

SAMBOLIN: Wow, I haven't yet. Yet.

Coming up, what money managers call a ticking time bomb for your stock portfolio and what you can do about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Minding your business this morning. U.S. stock futures trading lower this morning.

SAMBOLIN: The International Monetary Fund lowered its global growth forecast last night and says risks for recessions are, quote, "alarmingly high". Christine?

ROMANS: I don't like to hear that from the IMF, quite frankly.

BERMAN: Me neither. ROMANS: You know, this is what we're concerned about here. We're concerned about slowing global growth this year and next year, and we're concerned about governments that don't know how to handle a pretty big structural problems in Europe and the United States.

So, first, let me tell you what the IMF is forecasting. Let's look at next year. They're looking at U.S. growth of 2.1 percent, the eurozone barely growing at 0.2 percent and China coming in about 8.2 percent. You say, what's wrong with China, 8.2 percent? Well, it was more than 9 percent last year. It has been, I mean, about a decade of almost 10 percent growth in China. So, when you don't have that big economy moving as quickly, that means it's less work for American workers and European workers, all people feeding this global beast.

Let's take a look at what the risks are for global recovery, falling off a U.S. fiscal cliff. This is according to the IMF. They don't think it's going to happen, but they're urging. They've got to fix this soon and fix it right.

The European crisis is still not contained. I mean, you look at this morning, we're watching people take to the streets in Greece again this morning because there's still so much concern about how they're going to implement their austerity to try to, you know, to try to be bailed out and rescued by the Europeans.

The fiscal cliff and stocks so interesting, a CNN Money survey showing that the president needs to lead but 60 percent of the people surveyed, the money managers surveyed by CNN Money, says the congressional elections are more important, because your Congress has to fix this. Your Congress has to figure out how 20 fix the fiscal cliff.

This is what a chief equity market strategist, Fed rated investors, has to say, "The fiscal cliff is a ticking time bomb. The success or failure of this election will be whether the new crew will be able to diffuse it."

Really? Central banks around the world have been the only problem solvers. Right? Governments, according to the IMF, have to step in and start to figure out what the mess is in Europe and the mess in the U.S. --

BERMAN: Well, that's the message the IMF is clearly trying to send here. It seems like a political statement.

ROMANS: Absolutely. But, you know, these political statements have been unheeded by authorities in Europe and in the U.S. so far.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-five minutes past the hour. Two words you don't want to hear when talking about a rocket - - engine failure. Coming up, how that could affect the SpaceX capsule's mission to the International Space Station. OK. So, if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us anytime, take us with you on your desktop or your mobile phone. Take your desktop with you, did I just say that? Go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: No remorse. Convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky speaking out and lashing out, just hours before he learns his fate in court.

BERMAN: Riding high. New poll showing Mitt Romney with just the kind of bounce he might have been looking for.

SAMBOLIN: Crisis on the air. A TV pitch woman passes out on live television but it's what her co-host does that might actually surprise you.

BERMAN: Lessons to be learn here for us?

SAMBOLIN: I'm not sure. We're going to have to watch and see. You're going to have to watch and see.

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

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

In less than four hours, former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky proclaiming his innocence just four hours before he's sentenced. The convicted child predator has released an audio tape from behind bars. He's blaming his downfall on one of his victims and claims he's been targeted by a well-orchestrated conspiracy.

Susan Candiotti is live this morning from Belafonte, Pennsylvania. And Susan, this is extraordinary. I've never heard a tape like this.

CANDIOTTI: It is extraordinary, John. Imagine this on the eve of his sentencing. And in fact, as you know, Jerry Sandusky chose not to testify at his trial and he is now laying the blame on a lot of people, everyone from investigators to the news media. But he also blames it on his victims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE OF SANDUSKY: Think about what happened, why, and who made it happen. Evaluate the accusers and their families. Realize they didn't come out of isolation. The accusers were products of many more people and experiences than me. Look at their confidants and their honesty.

Think about how easy it was for them to turn on me given the information, attention, and potential perks. I never labeled or put down them or their families. I tried and I cared, then asked for the same. Please realize all came to the Second Mile because of issues. Some of those may remain. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Yes. I can't believe that he went ahead with that tape and we're hearing that. Susan, do his attorneys have any idea about this? How are they reacting?

CANDIOTTI: Well, the attorney said they didn't know what was in the statement, but they certainly knew that he was going to do it. After all, they made arrangements with the radio station for him to record and then release this statement. But here's what led into it.

There was a meeting with the judge yesterday, and the judge, during that meeting, made it perfectly clear that Jerry Sandusky was not to be critical f the judicial system or the jurors or the victims or anyone else. Well, the next best thing, we see what happened. He chose to release a statement like this in this way, interesting to see, John, whether the judge brings this up today. Certainly, I wouldn't be surprised if the prosecutors bring it up.

BERMAN: It seems like a huge risk to take. All right. Susan Candiotti live in Pennsylvania this morning. Thanks very much.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: It is 32 minutes past the hour.

Some of the best news that Mitt Romney campaign has received during this entire campaign with less than a month to go to Election Day, at least, one new poll shows a Republican leaping over President Obama. This is from the Pew Research Center. It shows Romney leading 49 to 45 percent. And we should point out that Pew did sample more Republicans in this particular poll. They sampled more Democrats last month.

BERMAN: Better news for the Obama campaign in Gallup's daily tracking poll. That one still has the president leading by five points, but there are some pre-debate numbers factored in there, although, the president seems to increase his lead in that poll yesterday. We're going to talk to Ryan Lizza about all of this. He's a

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Confusing enough?

BERMAN: I know. It's nuts. Thank you. Well, shed some light on it for us.

LIZZA: You know, look, first thing I would say is don't get wound up by the sampling of Democrats and Republicans from poll to poll. There's no science to this. Polls will differ on that number, depending on what they're finding in the field, and it will drive you crazy to dig deep into the poll and say, oh, this one's got more Democrats, this one's got more Republicans.

The best thing to do is look at the trends over time. And sadly, today, we only have two polls. We all want -- you know, we want ten polls after this debate. We want to know where the race really is. All we got right now is this Gallup and this Pew. Pew showing a huge bump up for Romney and which is a little bit odd, because all these polls have a house effect. Over time, they all show in the course of 2012 a little bit of an advantage for one candidate or another, for instance, Rasmussen very often shows a pro-Republican House effect. Pew has very often shown a pro-Obama effect. So, it makes this big Romney lead even more surprising.

But, the best thing I can say is don't get too wound up in one or two polls. Wait for a week's worth, and then we'll see where the race stands. But, this is -- as you guys point out, this is the best news that Mitt Romney has had since before his convention.

SAMBOLIN: We talked about October surprise the last time you were here.

LIZZA: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: Does this count as an October surprise?

LIZZA: Well, usually October surprises is some outside event that kind of changes the election or something that the -- you know, some conspiracy that a campaign polls at the last second to advantage themselves. This is Mitt Romney having as good a debate as he possibly could.

And look, good debates don't always move the numbers. The early indications are that Romney moved the numbers. We talked last time about what he needed to do in that debate. He did every one of those things.

SAMBOLIN: Whether the debates matter.

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: Well, let's not talk about that.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Look at him among women voters. You know, before the debate, Barack Obama led 56 to 38 percent. In the pew poll now tied 47 to 47 percent. Look at enthusiasm for Mitt Romney, also a fascinating number. Before the debate, it was at 56 percent in the Pew poll, now, it's at 67 percent.

You'll have to take my word for it there. It's not up on the screen, but it's -- you know, it's clearly some internal movement there.

LIZZA: If that number about women is right and continues through the election, Barack Obama can't win. I mean, that's -- Obama can't win, unless, there's a big gender gap --

BERMAN: Most polls does show there is a gender gap there.

LIZZA: That's correct. It's (INAUDIBLE). That's why it's a little surprising for them to be tied among women after Obama had such a huge lead. He can't put together the coalition he needs to, look, he's going to tie -- Mitt Romney is going to tie him along women. SAMBOLIN: But we've got the swing state polls coming out soon, and really, that will give us a lot of information if there's been any movement there.

LIZZA: Yes, usually, look at the national polls as sort of the macro look. And, if the national polls are moving, then you should see similar movements in the states. If that's what you want when I look at those state by state polls. Remember, before the debate, Obama led in just about every single swing state --

SAMBOLIN: Right.

LIZZA: With the exception of maybe North Carolina voters.

BERMAN: In interesting trend that we've talked about, Ryan, I want to cut you of here, but before the debate --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: -- the democratic strategists and they were laser-like focus on Mitt Romney on the middle class, on his bad (ph) for the middle class, his conservative values. Now, they've gone back to the flip- flop charge, which is something they stayed away from for a long time.

LIZZA: This is an interesting strategic debate that Democrats have had on how do you go after Mitt Romney. Do you attack him as an extreme conservative or do you go with you don't know what he believes because he shifts over time? Bill Clinton actually weighed in on this in 2011 when he started advising the Obama campaign.

And Clinton said go with the extremist attack. They tried that flip- flopping thing on me and it didn't work because the American people always just believe I will do the right thing or they believe if I went too far to the left, it's because I was a flip-flopper, I could always come back to the center.

So his view, his advice to the Obama campaign was hit Romney as a Republican extremist, not as a flip-flopper. Now, as you see, the campaigns have sort of bounced back and forth between those two strategies. Same exact thing with Bush against John Kerry in 200. They had the same strategic debate.

Do they hit Kerry as a liberal or as a flip-flopper? And they kind of did both. They ended up with flip-flopper. Do you hit them more on character or more on policy?

BERMAN: It will be interesting to see where it sticks in the coming weeks. All right. Ryan Lizza, thanks very much.

LIZZA: Thanks, guys.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Stay with CNN for the vice presidential debate, also on Thursday night. Our coverage begins at 7:00 Eastern. You can also go to CNN.com.

BERMAN: Right. A new memo obtained by CNN showing U.S. embassy staff in Libya had concerns about security back in February and requested a 16-member special operation security team be allowed to remain beyond its scheduled August departure date, but that request was denied.

That memo was now being examined by a House committee just looking into the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans last month at U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The state department insists an extension of the security team would not have made a difference.

SAMBOLIN: Well, it turns out there was a glitch with the launch of the first private cargo flight to the International Space Station. SpaceX says one of the nine rocket booster engines failed during launch. The dragon capsule carrying supplies for the ISS is still on its proper course, but a communications satellite also aboard the SpaceX rocket did not reach its intended orbit due to the loss of the booster engine.

BERMAN: All right. A record breaking attempt, just a huge amount of risk here.

SAMBOLIN: Insanity.

BERMAN: Coming up, a man tries to jump from the edge of space. It's like 23 miles up. What on earth is he doing?

SAMBOLIN: I don't want to watch it. I'm scared for him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Jumping from heaven. Seriously. In just a few hours, one man attempts something somewhere in between insane and impossible. A freefall from the edge of space, that's 23 miles up.

SAMBOLIN: So, think about it. That is three times the cruising altitude for jumbo jets. He's also trying to crack the sound barrier. CNN's Brian Todd is in Roswell, New Mexico for the supersonic event, and he has a preview for us.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zoraida, John, the moment is almost at hand. We're about to find out if Felix Baumgartner can break the record that he is setting out to break. He's going to try to break the record for the longest ever freefall. That's from about 120,000 feet above the surface of the earth.

He's also going to try to break the speed record for a human traveling outside a space vehicle. No one has ever broken the sound barrier, 690 miles an hour in just a suit helmet and parachute. He is going to be trying to do that today. So, here is what we've got going here. This is the balloon that's going to take him up to the edge of space.

It's called a high altitude balloon. That's kind of a diagram of it there. Here's really interesting statistic. Look at this, the balloon is ten times thinner than a plastic bag, yet, incredibly strong. This is the technology at work in this project, which is astounding. The balloon and capsule take him up to the edge of space. It takes about three hours to do that. Once he gets to that point, he steps off. And they always saying, protecting him at that point is this, the high pressure suit and the helmet and his parachute in the back. You see some of the own components here.

What is key is if any of the suit gets breached at those high altitudes from 120,000 feet down, about 30 sections after his jump is where is going to be the most hostile. If anything about this suit gets breached, a lot of different things could happen. He could freeze because of the severe temperatures there.

It gets about 70 degrees below zero we're told. If any of the suit gets breached, he could also have the -- the air sucked out of his lungs and his blood could boil. So, this suit which they've spent years in development is key here. And it cannot fail, really, in any way during this jump. So, a lot of technology at work. A lot of science at work, obviously, here. It's going to be fascinating to see how this works, and if Felix Baumgartner can set those record.

Zoraida, John, back to you.

SAMBOLIN: So, he could die.

BERMAN: Yes, he could die.

SAMBOLIN: He could die.

BERMAN: This seems like a bad --

SAMBOLIN: His blood could boil.

BERMAN: It seems like there are better things to do.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, our thanks to Brian Todd in Roswell, New Mexico. We're going to continue to keep an eye on this all morning long. We have live coverage of this event throughout the day. But I got to tell you, I'm a little scared to watch.

BERMAN: Yes, me, too. The record for the longest ever freefall has stood for more than 50 years. This is footage of then Air Force captain Joe Kittinger's record-setting skydive from 102,000 back in 1960. If Felix Baumgartner is successful, and boy, we hope he is, Kittinger will be one of those congratulating him. He has worked as an adviser on this current mission.

SAMBOLIN: Did we answer the why? The why he's doing this? He's just a thrill seeker?

BERMAN: Some science doing, I supposed.

SAMBOLIN: OK. Coming up later on "STARTING POINT," fellow daredevil Nik Wallenda will tell us what might be going through Felix Baumgartner's mind as he prepares to jump from the edge of space.

BERMAN: Something along the lines of "Holy - "

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: I'm sorry. Never mind.

And when we come back, this was not part of the show, but it sure kept viewers from turning the channel. Coming up, what happened to the TV host who passed out on live TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Forty-eight minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date. Here's Christine Romans. What are these morning's top stories?

ROMANS: Good morning to both of you. Again, Jerry Sandusky faces life in prison when he sentence later this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): The convicted child predator, former Penn state football coach, he still insists he's innocent. He released an audiotape from prison yesterday blaming his conviction on one of his victims and what he called a well-orchestrated conspiracy involving the media and Penn State.

The Mexican Navy says it has strong indications that it killed the main leader of the zetas cartel. The Mexican Navy saying it retaliated when it came under attack during patrols in Northern Mexico yesterday. It's believed Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano and another man were killed. Mexican investigators also reporting they arrested a different zetas leader, but they also made a stunning revelation.

They say the man in custody, Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo, is a suspect in the 2010 killing of American, David Hartley, and the beheading of the (INAUDIBLE) trying to find his killer. Hartley's widow called this news an out of the blue shock.

Say it aint so. One of Hollywood's longest running couple, Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, are getting a divorce after 30 years of marriage.

BERMAN (voice-over): Boo!

ROMANS: The couple has three children. DeVito and Perlman first worked together in the TV series "Taxi." She's best known for her role on "Cheers."

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Berman says he does not understand when things like this happen. After 30 years of marriage, right?

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: Very sad for them.

ROMANS: Wish them both the best.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

ROMANS: A scary moment on QVC when guest host, Cassie Slain, on to sell an Android tablet for kids, faints on live TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you know --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You OK? OK. What it does, it gives us an opportunity --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: That's exactly what Berman would do.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Berman would scream --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: The show must go on!

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: The show must go on! The news doesn't rest.

ROMANS: Even as the cameras cut away, the co-host didn't skip a beat, just kept on pitching. Slain posted on her Facebook yesterday that she's feeling a lot better. Another QVC host said she was suffering from low blood sugar at the time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (on-camera): The dude just kept on talking.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): That's exactly what you would do. You would make sure that the camera was not on you so you could pull me out of the way.

ROMANS: Right.

SAMBOLIN: And then you would just keep on going.

BERMAN: I must be honest, it can afford to be on me a little bit more as it is, OK?

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: A big head!

BERMAN: It is 50 minutes after the hour right now. It is another wet, chilly morning in the Great Lakes and along the east coast. Rob, I may not get through this intro before they --

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I support you right there. More camera time for John.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Tell us about the weather, please. Fast. Help me.

(LAUGHTER)

MARCIANO: Good morning, guys. Hey, listen, yes, cold weather across much of the eastern two-thirds of the country. And the wet stuff has kind of re-emerged across the I-95 quarter from New York back through Philly. Baltimore where they have their issues last night. Why they don't start these things with the home field advantage should be is beyond me.

Dry weather expected later on today, but this morning is certainly chilly and wet. Fifty-two degrees right now in New York City, but back through Pittsburgh and places down across the Ohio River into the 30s and even further south than that. So, we have frost and freeze advisories and some warnings as far south as, say, Nashville, Tennessee where temperatures there are getting close to the freezing mark.

Dalhart, Texas, 25 yesterday, Lisbon, Ohio, 29 degrees, Oklahoma City, 31. This is, in some cases, all-time record-breaking stuff. And another cold front is going to sneak across the Ohio River Valley and the Great Lakes. So, we're looking at a longer term trend, at least, through the rest of the week where temperatures will be below average.

Fifty-nine New York, 65 degrees in Chicago, and a chilly morning in Atlanta, but rebounding, 69 in the afternoon. John, I'll toss it back to you.

Oh -- oh, Zoraida, you're there as well.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: Thanks, Rob.

SAMBOLIN: Occasionally now.

All right. Fifty-two minutes past the hour. A packed hour ahead on EARLY START. That's a live look here at the courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania where in just a few hours from now, Jerry Sandusky will find out his sentence for abusing young boys.

And on the eve of his sentencing, he put out a stunning audiotape blaming the victim, victim number one. Victims rights attorney, Gloria Allred, will join us live in the next hour.

BERMAN: Fascinating. Also, all dogs go to heaven but one of them comes back. A Border Collie named Laya (ph) being called a miracle dog this morning. We will show you why.

SAMBOLIN: Plus, Facebook ready to offer cash to millions of users. Are you one of them?

BERMAN: I better be.

SAMBOLIN: Woohoo!

But first, from animal crackers in my soup to skeddy (ph) and butter. Which celebrity thinks that Honey Boo-Boo is the next Shirley Temple? We'll tell you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Fifty-six minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin along with Mr. John Berman, taking a look at what is trending on the web thi morning.

BERMAN: Powerful words from a powerful guy. Kansas City chiefs offensive tackle, Eric Winston, ripping the fans for cheering an injury that quarterback, Matt Cassel, in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The 30-year-old QB suffered a concussion. He was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter. After the game, Winston reminded the fans the players are not gladiators.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC WINSTON, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS OFFENSIVE TACKLE: I've already kind of come to the understanding, I probably won't live as long because I played this game, and that's OK. That's the choice I've made. That's a choice all of us has made. But when you cheer, when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don't care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel, it's sickening. It's 100 percent sickening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Right. That's an incredible moment.

BERMAN: And he is 100 percent right.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely.

All right. Switching gears here. Rosie hooked on Honey Boo-Boo? But again, who isn't? Rosie O'Donnell tells People.com that she got addicted to the reality show, "Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo," while she was recuperating from a heart attack.

And that the star of the show, seven-year-old Alana Thompson a.k.a. Honey Boo-Boo, has a presence and an intellect way beyond her years like Shirley Temple. Rosie also says she'd like to meet the family and buy them a house, one that doesn't have railroad tracks running through the backyard.

BERMAN: You know, she ended up as an ambassador. I'm not sure we're going to see an ambassador of Honey Boo-Boo.

SAMBOLIN: So, look the possibilities from Honey Boo-Boo. You never know.

BERMAN: I guess not. SAMBOLIN: You never know.

BERMAN: Maybe a little.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, all aboard the Mitt Romney train in your late night laughs that is. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": You know what it is, it's Nobel Prize season. Are you aware they're passing out the Nobel Prize? Earlier today, the medical team who received a Nobel Prize for reviving the Mitt Romney campaign --

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: Brought it back to life.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": I am still glowing from last week's runaway debate victory for Mitt Romney! He's got the mitt-mentum.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: The mo-mitmum, the Rom-mentum. There's still no word for it. It's never existed before.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: He got a bump in the polls, campaign donations are rolling in. It's all good news.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Romney stopped at the tin fish restaurant in Port St. Lucie, Florida yesterday. He was posing for a group photo with the staff when one of the employees decided to help clean him up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: He's already creating new jobs.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: That guy was going to town on Romney's face there.

All right. EARLY START continues right now.