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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Veep Debate Night; House Probes Benghazi Attack; Gaffe-Watch on Biden Tonight; Anger over Shooting of Young Activist; Lohan Drama on Long Island; Pepperoni and Pizza

Aired October 11, 2012 - 05:00   ET

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


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: It's no sideshow. High stakes as the two candidates for vice president get ready to take the stage for tonight's debate. We're going to take you inside.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Against all odds. Rescuers on the scene of a deadly parking garage collapse. They find a man alive amid the rubble.

SAMBOLIN: October excitement. Not one, but two fantastic finishes have baseball fans buzzing from New York to California. I think this is worldwide.

BERMAN: I cannot believe these results. I saw them as soon as I woke up this morning. Eye-popping finishes, the two games.

SAMBOLIN: It certainly was.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. And if you think baseball is exciting, get ready for politics. It is game time. We're getting down -- counting down to tonight's one and only vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.

And the stakes are high. Probably higher than either campaign wants to admit. Biden will try to create some momentum for the Obama team while Ryan will try to prove last week's debate was not a taste of one and done.

Meantime, a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll shows a small post-debate bounce for Romney in three key swing states, particularly in Virginia, where Romney picked up three points. He leads there, though a different poll from CBS shows Obama still leading there.

In the "Wall Street Journal" poll, Mitt Romney trails in Florida and is down six in Ohio. And in a Quinnipiac/CBS/"New York Times" poll shows Romney on top in Colorado, another key swing state. Obama up in Virginia and Wisconsin.

Back to tonight's debate though, CNN's Paul Steinhauser is at the site in Danville, Kentucky, and has an inside look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Hey, good morning, Zoraida and John.

You know, 14 hours from now behind me on this stage, the only vice presidential debate in this campaign. You know, for much of the last week, Vice President Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, the congressman from Wisconsin, they've been behind closed doors getting ready for this big showdown.

Now, the Republican running mate, he got here to Kentucky yesterday. And before he arrived, he played a little bit of the expectations game, kind of lowering the bar for himself.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Joe Biden has been on this stage many times before. It's my first time. So, sure, it's a nervous situation because Joe Biden is one of the most experienced debaters we have in modern politics.

STEINHAUSER: As for Vice President Joe Biden, he gets here later today.

So how is it going to work? Well, to tell us. Frank Fahrenkopf, he is the co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates -- Frank.

FRANK FAHRENKOPF, CO-CHAIR, COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES: It's going to be similar way to the start of the Colorado debate that we had, except that these two will be seated at a table rather than standing at podiums. The vice president, if you're in the audition and looking, as people will on television, the vice president will be on the left. The congressman will be on the right.

By flip of a coin, you know, we're very scientific in these things. The first question will be addressed to Vice President Biden. He'll have two minutes to respond. Then, Mr. Ryan will have two minutes to respond. Then Martha Raddatz, the moderator, will perform have the ability to drill down and see if they can -- you know, get some real exchange going.

STEINHAUSER: Frank, thank you very much.

I think it's fair to say there was a lot at stake even before last week's first presidential debate. But because of the president's lackluster performance, I think there's even more at stake now.

You know, the polls have indicated a rise for Mitt Romney, they're getting tighter. I think the Romney campaign would like to see that continue. As for the Obama campaign, I think they'd want to see that trend end. That's why there's so much at stake tonight at this debate.

Zoraida, John, back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Paul.

In his first interview since the lackluster performance that Paul just referred to, President Obama is giving advice to his running mate for his face off tonight against Paul Ryan. He says, Joe just needs to be Joe.

As for his own performance, the president acknowledges it was less than stellar. Here is how he explained it to ABC's Diane Sawyer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Governor Romney had a good night. I had a bad night.

DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: How bad?

OBAMA: Well, it's not the first time I've had a bad night. But I think what's important is the fundamentals of what this race is about haven't changed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: That interview was done just a few hours after the president came up with another explanation for his poor debate performance in this radio interview with Tom Joyner.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

OBAMA: You know, the debate, I think it's fair to say, I was just too polite. You know, it's hard to keep on saying what you're say isn't true. It gets repetitive. But the good news is, is that that's just the first one.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BERMAN: The head of the Republican National Committee is not buying the president's explanation that he had a bad night or was too polite. On Piers Morgan last night, Reince Priebus insisted the president's own record doomed him in the debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: I just think that his message is pretty weak. He doesn't have a lot to stand on. It's tough to pull off. But that's what's he's going to try to do. And instead, he's talking about Big Bird and calling his opponent, you know, liar, liar, pants on fire. That's the new Barack Obama for 2012 for America, I guess.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So, no doubt. There is a lot at stake tonight when Ryan and Biden square off.

More debate pre-gaming at the bottom of the hour, with Republican strategist Ana Navarro and Richard Socarides, former senior adviser to President Clinton. We're looking forward to that. BERMAN: And, of course, stay with CNN for complete coverage of the vice presidential debates starting tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN and on CNN.com.

SAMBOLIN: A man who was trapped under a huge slab of concrete for 13 hours was pulled from the rubble alive. This is early this morning, folks.

BERMAN: Amazing.

SAMBOLIN: This is the site of a parking garage collapse in Doral, Florida, that left three workers dead. The five-story garage was under construction when the structure gave way late yesterday morning. There were dozens of workers inside. Miami-Dade fire rescue says eight others were taken to area hospitals for treatment.

BERMAN: As the death toll in the fungal meningitis outbreak rises, calls for more oversight. At least two lawmakers are introducing bills to strengthen the FDA's oversight of compounding pharmacies, including NECC, the one linked to this outbreak, which shares property with a garbage dump.

A total of 12 people have died so far. At least 137 infected in 11 states. The hardest hit, Tennessee, Michigan and Virginia.

SAMBOLIN: And former teammates are turning on cycling great Lance Armstrong. In a just-released report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, ex-members of Armstrong's team talked about the ways the seven-time Tour de France winner beat the drug testing, using blood transfusions, saline injections, backdated prescriptions and tip-offs to upcoming tests. The Anti-Doping Agency's report concluding Armstrong and his teammates engaged in the most sophisticated, professional and successful doping program that the sport has ever seen.

Armstrong's attorney insists this is a witch hunt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM HERMAN, LANCE ARMSTRONG'S ATTORNEY: I'm not suggesting that they are all lying, but I am suggesting that each witness needs to have confrontation and cross examination to test the accuracy of their recollection.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: The Anti-Doping Agency's report says Armstrong and his team benefited from privileged inside information and find out ahead of time when drug tests were going to be performed.

BERMAN: Some happier sports news -- not one, but two fantastic finishes in baseball's divisional playoffs. First, the Yankees' Raul Ibanez is hitting a walk-off over in 12th inning to beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-2. But get this -- three innings before, Ibanez hit one to tie the game and he did it pinch hitting for Alex Rodriguez. You heard that right. He pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez.

The Yanks lead that series two games to one. Game four tonight. What a finish there.

But not to be outdone -- meantime the Oakland A's facing elimination. They got a walk-off hit from Coco Crisp to cast a 2-1 9th inning comeback against the Detroit Tigers. They were on the verge of elimination.

The win forces a fifth and deciding game in the series tonight in Oakland. They were going nuts in the Bay Area last night.

SAMBOLIN: Go Oakland! Love that.

So, ahead on EARLY START -- trying to find out once and for all what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, (R) UTAH: It was a terrorist attack. Let's be honest about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: A tense hearing on Capitol Hill about the attack that killed two star diplomats and two retired SEALs in Libya. Which version is the right one?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Now to the House hearings on the terror attack that took the life of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. For the better part of four hours yesterday, Republicans questioned the motives of the White House and slammed the administration for the lack of security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Democrats returned fire, calling on House Republicans for cutting funding and politicizing a tragedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAFFETZ: And I'm fascinated to know and understand from the president of United States, from the secretary of state and from the ambassador to the United Nations how they can justify that this video caused this attack. It was a terrorist attack. Let's be honest about it.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY, (D) VIRGINIA: I certainly hope today's hearing is not going to be perceived as an effort to exploit a tragedy for political purposes 27 days out from an election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: CNN foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott joins us live from Washington this morning.

Elise, where do we go from here?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Good question, John. I mean, yesterday was really kind of something I haven't seen in my 12 years of the State Department. This hearing really became politicized and a lot of people talking at the State Department were kind of upset that Ambassador Stevens death and these four Americans were really kind of became this political issue.

But there were a lot of important issues that came up at the hearing yesterday, chief among them -- the fact whether the consulate was adequately protected. Let's take a listen to what the chairman, Daniel Issa (ph), said yesterday in response to State Department claims that the consulate had an adequate amount of guards. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DARRELL ISSA, (R) CALIFORNIA: To start off by saying you had the correct number, and our ambassador and three other individuals are dead and people are in the hospital recovering because it only took moments to breach that facility somehow doesn't seem to ring true to the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: So, John, of course, the State Department saying, listen, even if we had extra guards, and, in fact, some of the security officers that were testifying yesterday, Eric Nordstrom among them, saying listen, not necessarily sure the same amount of guards would not be adequate because this was a firefight of about 40 armed men, something that was unprecedented in diplomatic history.

But take a listen to what Eric Nordstrom, the top security officer in Libya, talked about when there was discussion about whether there were enough resources at the State Department. He was very frustrated that when he would ask for additional resources, he was criticized.

Take a listen to this exchange with Representative Jason Chaffetz.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAFFETZ: You were asking for more assets, more resources, more personnel. That was denied. But the State Department went back and reclassified it as more dangerous, the danger pay therefore increased. They didn't tell you we didn't have resources, hey, that Congress just cut your budget. They gave you an increase because the danger was rising, correct?

ERIC NORDSTROM, FORMER SECURITY OFFICER: That's correct. We received a danger pay increase.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: So, John, a lot of important issues there yesterday. But the politicizing of it kind of hit the fact that there were important issues that needed to be addressed.

BERMAN: It was hard to hear anything in between all the politics. Elise Labott in Washington, thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: It is 15 minutes past the hour.

Let's get you up-to-date. Here is Christine Romans with this morning's top stories.

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

Twenty-six days now until the election. Are you counting down? The next big TV event of this presidential campaign is on tap tonight. In Danville, Kentucky, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will square off in the first and only vice presidential debate. Biden is expected to come out swinging as he tries to make America forget about President Obama's forgettable debate performance against Mitt Romney last week.

CNN's coverage of the vice presidential debate begins tonight at 7:00 Eastern on CNN and CNN.com.

A military appeals court will hear argument this afternoon before deciding whether to force Major Nadal Hasan to shave his beard for his murder trial. Lawyers for the Fort Hood massacre suspect also want the judge removed from this case, claiming the judge overstepped his authorities by issuing this order to shave him.

Austrian sky diver Felix Baumgartner will have to wait until Sunday now for his next chance to set a record for the world highest sky dive. This week, strong winds have kept Baumgartner from attempting that sky dive from 23 miles above Roswell, New Mexico. He's going to make that jump from a capsule attached to a high altitude balloon.

BERMAN: We'll be waiting to see it.

SAMBOLIN: I know you're scared. I'm so scared for him. Thank you, Christine.

It is 16 minutes past the hour. Time for early reads, that is your local news making national headlines.

And first, we're up dating you on a story we brought you last week.

BERMAN: It's a doozy.

SAMBOLIN: It is a doozy. It's in the "Philly Inquirer".

A high school student who was belittled by a teacher for wearing a Mitt Romney campaign t-shirt to school says she is now going to transfer out of the school. Veterans and students held a rally for 16-year-old Samantha Pawlucy Tuesday. This is at Charles Carroll High School, but she still decided she is not going back.

Samantha said the teacher ridiculed her and called in other staffers to laugh at her and apparently even said -- it says, if she who is black wore a Ku Klux Klan shirt. The teacher was temporarily reassigned. She wrote an apology letter that was read aloud to the students. But, I don't know for the young lady. BERMAN: Nuts.

All right. This in "The Tampa Bay Times". Ricky, you should lose that number. Florida Governor Rick Scott who is giving an update on the meningitis outbreak in the state accidentally gave out the phone number to a phone sex line instead of the 24-hour department hotline.

Well, this is how the governor's spokesman says the two numbers were mixed up in his briefing report. The governor corrected himself 30 minutes later and said it was an honest mistake.

SAMBOLIN: I want to know why they were discussing a phone sex line.

BERMAN: Phone sex is always an honest mistake.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Apparently some numbers switched there.

All right. For an expanded look at all our top stories, head to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart.

BERMAN: And coming up, Mitt Romney's plan for Medicare. Three critical questions still unanswered. We're going to take a closer look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: We're minding your business this morning. The vice presidential debate is tonight. And Medicare, it is bound to come up. While the president's health care law has a specific plan for the entitlement, there is still a big question about Governor Mitt Romney's plan.

SAMBOLIN: And Christine is breaking down what we do know and what we don't know.

ROMANS: I know. We're going to hear a lot about this you guys.

Governor Romney's Medicare plan is unclear on three issues critical to the 47 million people on Medicare and to the rest of us who may rely on it when we get older. A reminder, the number of people on Medicare is expected to jump to 62 million by 2020. And up to 90 million people by the year 2050.

Now, the first unclear point of Romney's plan, the cost to seniors. This only applies to future retirees although he hasn't given a specific age.

For future retirees, we know his plan offers seniors two options. One, a premium support system, that's basically is a voucher for each senior to buy private insurance from competing providers. The other option is to stay in traditional Medicare.

What we don't know is whether the voucher will be enough to cover the cost of the traditional Medicare option for people who want to stay in it. The Romney campaign has not clarified that yet. Second, the prescription drug plan. Romney says older Americans have nothing to worry about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Neither the president nor I are proposing any changes for any current retirees or near retirees, either to Social Security or Medicare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: But there is one big thing he says will change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: If I'm elected, we won't have Obamacare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So, Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act saved seniors more than $600 on average last year as part of the government's prescription drug plan. And the president says those savings would disappear under Romney's plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What happens is those seniors would pay over $600 more in prescription care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So, Romney's campaign has yet to give specifics on how this plan would deal with that increase.

Finally, Romney hasn't said if he'll put a cap on Medicare spending. Experts tell us a cap is needed to promote competition and to keep cost under control, cost increases under control. Plus, bipartisan groups like the Congressional Budget Office, they won't give Romney's Medicare plan a score without knowing if there's a Medicare spending cap.

Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan's own budget says a plan he proposed in Congress does include a Medicare spending cap but Romney isn't aligning himself completely with it. We're going to see if this comes up tonight's V.P. debate, along with answers to some of these other big questions.

You can expect they're going to be asked.

BERMAN: I would not expect answers, though. Extreme political advantage and a lack of specificity and Mitt Romney is showing that advantage right now.

ROMANS: All right.

BERMAN: Twenty-four minutes after the hour right now.

Saved along the shore. A man comes to the aid of a mammal in distress. Dramatic video coming up. You'll want to see this.

And if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch this any time in your desktop or mobile. Just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Last-minute cramming in Kentucky. Joe Biden and Paul Ryan getting ready for their one and only debate tonight. We're breaking down what to expect.

SAMBOLIN: End of story. Why Mitt Romney won't be talking about his brief encounter with a Navy SEAL killed in Libya anymore.

BERMAN: And personal foul. Roughing a child. Take a look, a youth coach facing more than a penalty this morning.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Twenty-eight minutes past the hour. Thanks for being with us.

So, the hours are ticking away until the one and only vice presidential debate of 2012. Inside that auditorium in Danville, Kentucky, Vice President Joe Biden will meet his Republican rival, Congressional Paul Ryan. The debate taking on new significance after what was seen as a lopsided victory for Mitt Romney in the first presidential debate. The president now admitting that he had a, quote, "bad night".

Brand new poll numbers in battleground states showing a small bounce for Romney, the governor ahead by a point in Virginia. This is according to the NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll, although a new CBS/Quinnipiac poll shows Obama up by five.

Obama still leads in Florida, but Romney gained a point there. While Romney gained two points in Ohio, President Obama is up by six there.

So, there's a lot to talk about this morning.

We have Ana Navarro, Republican strategist and a CNN contributor, and Richard Socarides, Democratic analyst and adviser to former President Bill Clinton.

So, Richard --

RICHARD SOCARIDES, DEMOCRATIC ANALYST: Good morning.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.

COSTELLO: You know what? It's really nice to have you in studio.

SOCARIDES: Good to get us both together. I know Ana loves Joe Biden, so she's looking forward to tonight.

NAVARRO: I actually do.

SOCARIDES: I know you do.

SAMBOLIN: Let me start with some questions before you guys actually jump in. There's a lot of pressure, right? Since you mentioned Joe Biden. There's a lot of pressure tonight after President Obama's lackluster performance on the debate. Here is how "SNL" put it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH MYERS, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Is there anything more exciting than Joe Biden thinking it's up to him to get the lead back? It's TiVo time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So if Biden does not do well tonight, is it damaging to the campaign, Richard?

SOCARIDES: Well, I think he needs to do well for the important reason that the momentum is clearly with Governor Romney now after the debate he had with President Obama. So I think he -- Joe Biden could do something really good for his boss and for us Democrats, and that is try to stop the momentum that Governor Romney has.

And if he doesn't, it's going to be a problem, because there's another week to go before President Obama has a shot at it himself.

SAMBOLIN: So, Anna, President Obama talked about the vice presidential debate with ABC. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I think Joe just needs to be Joe. Congressman Ryan is a smart and effective speaker but his ideas are the wrong ones and Joe understands that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: "Joe just needs to be Joe." Ana, is that a good game plan?

NAVARRO: I hope so. I hope Joe is Joe. Because I think we will end up getting -- you know, if Joe is Joe, we'll end up getting gaffs, we'll end up getting jokes, we'll end up getting emotion, we'll end up getting some maybe off-color remarks. Some things that will need to be explained.

We certainly will get more zingers. I'm expecting a more entertaining debate than what we had -- the first debate between Romney and President Obama. But it is incredibly important, first of all, because people are watching. I don't really remember ever this kind of anticipation --

SOCARIDES: Well, Sarah Palin reminds me --

NAVARRO: For a vice presidential --

SAMBOLIN: That's true. SOCARIDES: People did watch Sarah Palin.

NAVARRO: And second of all, because there's no do-over. President Obama gets two more shots at the apple, as does Mitt Romney. But this is it for Joe Biden. And they are expecting -- you know, folks are expecting a very good Joe Biden. This is a very seasoned politician. In truth, both of them are, two very different guys. But both are very well -- you know, very well regarded veterans in Congress.

SAMBOLIN: Are you concerned, Richard, about Joe being Joe?

NAVARRO: I'm not really. Because I think that when -- you know, he has -- there's a lot of authenticity about him. And I think that, you know, people make fun of these so-called gaffs, but I really think it's him being authentic.

SAMBOLIN: Well, you know what, hold there, because in case folks hadn't heard it, I want to play one of those. We want to play one of those gaffes for folks. One of those Biden -- all right. I'm sorry.

SOCARIDES: See, you can't find any.

SAMBOLIN: No, we have them.

(CROSSTALK)

SOCARIDES: No, no, there are none.

SAMBOLIN: In fact we have three, four of them but can't play them.

(LAUGHTER)

SOCARIDES: There are none.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: I can recite some of them by memory.

(LAUGHTER)

SOCARIDES: See, can I tell you, though? I think that when he does say something that seems a little off key, it's really just him being authentic. And I think people like the fact that he speaks his mind.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: OK. I'll recite it for you. It was, "How can they justify raising taxes on the middle class that's been buried for the last four years." That got a lot of play, right, because it was considered a gaffe.

SOCARIDES: Well, but I think it's true. I mean I think what he was saying was a truism that you can't raise taxes on people in the middle class. And -- and effectively, if Governor Romney lowers taxes on the rich, essentially, no matter what moderate Mitt says -- you know, I love what President Clinton said, moderate Mitt -- no matter what moderate Mitt says, if you lower taxes on the wealthy, you can't lower taxes on everybody and generate the same amount of revenue. So someone has got o be paying more.

SAMBOLIN: I want to stick to moderate Mitt for a minute here. Because we think abortion may come up, right? And we've been talking about it quite a bit. And so what Paul Ryan said when he was asked about abortion, he said, "I'm sure you'll find out in these debates."

So let's backtrack a little bit here and let's play what Mitt Romney said about abortion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you intend to pursue any legislation specifically regarding abortion?

ROMNEY: I don't -- there's no legislation regarding -- with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So that was Tuesday. That was Mitt Romney in an interview with the "Des Moines Register." Here is what he said on Wednesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I think I've said time and again that I'm a pro-life candidate, I'll be a pro-life president. The actions I'll take immediately are to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Will he or won't he? Will there be legislation on abortion? So that's kind of a flip-flopping moment there. How do you think that's going to play out for him?

NAVARRO: Well, I think they're two different things and I think that the operative word -- not to parse words, but the operative word in the question he got asked is, will you pursue legislation? And frankly he shouldn't be pursuing legislation. He should be pursuing legislation to figure out how to fix this economy, is the first thing he should be doing.

SOCARIDES: Well, I do think, though, that, you know, you either stand for something or you don't. I mean, you know, people -- if the president comes out and says, I'm for something, you expect him to pursue policies that are consistent with that. I mean -- so I think this is really a case of him having it both ways on the choice issue.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: But there's policies, Richard.

SOCARIDES: What we will see -- NAVARRO: That have nothing to do with legislation. There's things like funding -- you know, like doing international funding for abortions which he has said he will not do.

SOCARIDES: Well, but do you --

NAVARRO: Those things like the appointment of federal judges.

SOCARIDES: You agree that it is confusing to people when you say one moment that you're not going to pursue any policies that are -- restrict abortion and then on -- on the other -- the next day you say, I'm pro-life, right? I mean, it is confusing to people.

NAVARRO: No. I don't -- I mean it's not -- and by the way, I am very glad he's doing this, as a Republican.

SOCARIDES: Well, I'm sure you're glad because it's Moderate Mitt.

SAMBOLIN: All right.

NAVARRO: What he's doing --

SOCARIDES: In Des Moines. And you're a moderate person.

SAMBOLIN: Ana and Richard, we're going to leave it here. We're going to have you back in the 6:00 hour and you can continue this discussion.

Richard Socarides and Ana Navarro, thank you very much.

All right, John, at the top of the hour we'll talk with Brett O'Donnell. He's a veteran presidential debate coach, credited with helping Romney win his Florida primary debate.

And be sure to tune in tonight. CNN's coverage of the vice presidential debate begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN and CNN.com -- John.

BERMAN: How great is it to have Ana and Richard in here with us.

SAMBOLIN: Fantastic.

BERMAN: It is just fantastic.

SAMBOLIN: All that energy.

BERMAN: All right. Thirty-six minutes after the hour. Mitt Romney has agreed to stop telling the story of the day he met former Navy SEAL, Glen Doherty. Doherty was killed last month in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in Libya. Romney once met him and has been telling the story about their encounter on the campaign trail lately.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I just learned a few days ago that he was one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in Benghazi, and it broke my heart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now Doherty's mother is accusing Romney of politicizing her son's death. Barbara Doherty's daughter Kate telling CNN's Erin Burnett her mother thinks it's time for our political leaders to rethink their priorities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATE QUIGLEY, GLEN DOHERTY'S SISTER: Being an American hero can be completely bipartisan. And everybody wants to point fingers and play the blame game. And let's blame the terrorists because that's whose at fault here and that's where we should be focusing our energies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Romney now says out of respect for the wishes of Doherty's mother he will no longer publicly tell the story of the day he met her son.

SAMBOLIN: A job shuffle is in the works for the top U.S. military commanders. President Obama has nominated General John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to become the next NATO Supreme Allied commander. Taking his place in Afghanistan would be Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford.

BERMAN: One of two sea lions tangled in debris at a San Francisco pier has been rescued. Both have what appears to be fishing line wrapped around their necks. You can see it right there. A veterinarian will try to remove the debris from the rescued sea lions today. The second sea lion was just spooked by a tour boat. He disappeared into the water. I hope that those guys are OK.

We have an amazing story we're following here. Outrage around the world after the Taliban shoots a teenager who wanted girls rights and peace. And there was a new update on her condition just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Forty-one minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. So glad you're with us this morning. And this morning anger in the streets of Pakistan in newspapers and on the airwaves over the Taliban's targeted shooting of 14-year-old activist and blogger, Malala Yousufzai. Surgeons worked for three hours to remove a bullet lodged in her neck. But this morning a doctor said her condition is critical.

Taliban gunmen targeted her Tuesday for her social media activism and support of education for girls and women. Condemnation of the attack and support for Malala coming from as far away as the United Nations and in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: She was attacked and shot by extremists who don't want girls to have an education and don't want girls to speak for themselves and don't want girls to become leaders, who are, for a variety of reasons, threatened by that kind of empowerment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Reza Sayah interviewed Malala last year. He joins us live from Islamabad.

And Reza, we're getting word she's being moved to another hospital. How is she doing this morning?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it looks like her condition has deteriorated. And we want to be careful in reporting this because we don't know all the details. But yesterday her condition seemed to be improving. Overnight the doctors said there was swelling in the brain, a condition called edema. So she is in critical condition, being transported to a hospital right outside Islamabad here, a better facility. So still very touch and go for her at this point.

BERMAN: Her story has touched the heart of so many people all around the world. Can you tell us more, Reza, about how why the Taliban targeted her and really how they got to her?

SAYAH: Well, they targeted her because they viewed her as a threat. Remarkably, this 14-year-old went on a personal campaign to speak out against the Taliban. This was a girl who was part child and part ferocious human rights activist. The best way to understand why she inspired so many people was to just sit down and listen to her speak. We got a chance to interview her late last year, and here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAYAH: So why do you risk your life to raise your voice?

MALALA YOUSUFZAI, EDUCATION ACTIVIST: Because I thought that my people need me and I shall raise my voice because if I didn't raise my voice now, so when will I raise my voice?

SAYAH: Some people might say, you're 14, you don't have any rights, you just have to listen to mom and dad.

YOUSUFZAI: No, I have rights. I have the right of education. I have the right to play, I have the right to sing, I have the right to talk, I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up.

SAYAH: Well, what if you give that advice to a girl who may not be as courageous as you and she says, Malala, I'm afraid, I just want to stay in my room?

YOUSUFZAI: So I'll tell her that don't stay in your room because God will ask you on the day -- on the day of judgment that where were you when your people were asking you, when your school fellows were asking you, and when your school was asking you, that I am being blown up? When your people need you, you should come up, you should come and you should stand up for their rights.

SAYAH: If you were the president of this country, how would you handle the Taliban?

YOUSUFZAI: First of all, I would like to build so many schools in this country because education is the must thing. If you have -- if you don't have educated people, so the Taliban will come to your area. But if you have educated people, they will not come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAYAH: We put some tough questions to this young girl. She never backed down. In fact, she made us back down. A remarkable girl who is fighting for her life at this hour -- John.

BERMAN: Reza, I have to say, to hear her voice this morning, it is both inspiring and heartbreaking all at once especially with the news that you just gave us, Reza, this morning that she is in critical condition.

Reza Sayah, in Islamabad, thanks very much for joining us this morning.

SAMBOLIN: That is an amazing story. There are neurologists around the world on stand by waiting to help out. I mean this is just a story that has touched absolutely everybody. And I was reading online when the Taliban said if they didn't get her the first time, if she survived, they'll get her the next time.

BERMAN: What she stands for will win out over time.

SAMBOLIN: Gosh. You hope so, right? She's given up a lot.

Coming up, a youth football coach who crossed the line literally. That incident caught on camera.

And if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop or your mobile phone. Just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: It is 49 minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to date. Christine Romans with this morning's top stories.

ROMANS: Good morning again, you two.

Live pictures from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, where there's something happening there tonight. Yes, the vice presidential debate will be taking place there. Vice President Joe Biden --

BERMAN: It's dark.

ROMANS: Yes. And Congressman Paul Ryan will square off in their one and only debate at 8:00 -- at 9:00 p.m. tonight. Both are lowering expectations. Ryan says Biden has been on the big stage many times before. And this is all new to him. But he said he's not intimidated, he's excited.

Stay with CNN for complete coverage of the vice presidential debate. It starts tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN and CNN.com.

A volunteer football coach faces criminal charges in Utah this morning for knocking out a 13-year-old player on the opposing team. This video was grainy but look, you can see Coach Nate Harris take out the opposing team's running back along the sidelines. The hit was so hard the young man suffered a concussion.

SAMBOLIN: My goodness.

ROMANS: Harris was ejected from the game, then was arrested and charged with a second-degree felony child abuse.

And what color car do you drive, folks? This just in. Drivers are boring. A new survey finds that the color white is the top car color choice of the U.S. and around the world. One in five drivers chooses white, while about 19 percent of drivers go for black, followed by silver and gray. And it's not easy being green, but you sure are unique if you have a green car, only one in 50 drivers chooses a green ride.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: And we're all judging you, by the way, if you're driving a green car.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Seriously.

ROMANS: Look at that green car.

BLITZER: Who drives a green car?

SAMBOLIN: Since when is white boring?

ROMANS: Apparently white is --

SAMBOLIN: I think it's nice.

ROMANS: Everybody -- is yours white?

SAMBOLIN: No. Mine is blue.

BERMAN: Silver grayish.

ROMANS: Yes.

BLITZER: Boring, but you know, the shoe fits, right?

ROMANS: Right. BERMAN: Fifty-one minutes after the hour right now. And good thing tonight's debate is indoors because it is cold in Kentucky among other places.

Rob Marciano in with a weather update -- Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A black car in the wintertime when you get a little sun, that heats it up a little bit more so I think --

SAMBOLIN: So it gets really dirty.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Usually the salt gets all on it, right?

MARCIANO: That's true. I know you guys -- the vanity just continues to come through. You're all worried about your clean car.

(LAUGHTER)

MARCIANO: Good morning, guys.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning.

MARCIANO: We have a little snow trying to fall across parts of upstate New York. But it's just really just some rain. Snow falling across the U.P. of Michigan so yes, we're getting that colder air in and black does get awfully dirty when the snow drops and the plows come out and the sand and salt trucks come out as well.

Thirty degrees in Cincinnati. Lincecum brought the ice last night, didn't he? Incredible postseason happening right now in Major League Baseball. Freeze warnings for the Ohio River Valley, frost advisories for much of the Tennessee Valley. And more cold air coming down. And also a storm out west in California. Some showers and thunderstorms there.

Two of these will combine and there will be a threat for severe thunderstorms, not only today but more so, I think, on Saturday. Tornadoes and damaging wind possible. So those two storms get together and that will affect maybe some football but also some football in the college ranks on Saturday.

BERMAN: All right.

SAMBOLIN: Hey, look at the Bobbsey Twins this morning. Did you notice?

BERMAN: We like the Orange (INAUDIBLE). We also, Rob, for the record like it when you --

MARCIANO: Again.

BERMAN: When you whisper to us, Rob. We really like that.

(LAUGHTER) BERMAN: Thank you.

MARCIANO: It brings you closer.

BERMAN: You bet.

SAMBOLIN: It does. It does. Thank you, Rob.

A packed hour ahead on EARLY START including the tale of the tape for the vice presidential debate. The attack dogs attack tonight in Kentucky. What can we expect?

We're talking to presidential debate adviser Brett O'Donnell. He has worked with Mitt Romney as well as John McCain.

BERMAN: Also, smackdown. A WWE superstar slaps a fan. Now is this work? Is it real? We'll show you and you make the call.

SAMBOLIN: Plus passing Johnny Unitas. And passing his way into the history books. Saints quarterback Drew Brees is here live.

BERMAN: You like him, right?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I do. To talk about making NFL history last week and how he's trying to get kids to run a few plays and tackle childhood obesity. I like this guy.

BERMAN: Man, are we looking forward to that?

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: But, first, Democrats, Republicans, and then there's the pizza party. A pizza chain dares voters to ask one question during next week's presidential debate. And they're going to put up one big prize. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back, 56 minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin along with John Berman. And we are taking a look at what is trending.

BERMAN: We can't wait to see what's trending. First, Lohan drama on Long Island. "People" magazine reports that police were called to Lindsay Lohan's childhood home on Long Island after some sort of fight between Lindsay and her mother Dina. That was in a lim. There apparently were no arrests.

TMZ obtained audio of a frantic phone call for help. Lindsay maybe heard, Dad -- in which she says, "Dad, she's on cocaine." Referring to her mother. Here is part of that phone call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINDSAY LOHAN, ACTRESS: She said disgusting things to me.

MICHAEL LOHAN, LINDSAY LOHAN'S FATHER: She's horrible, Lindsay.

L. LOHAN: She just said, I'm dead to her, I'm dead to her now.

DINA LOHAN, LINDSAY LOHAN'S MOTHER: That's right. You're dead to me.

L. LOHAN: And I have a gash on my leg from what happened.

M. LOHAN: Mom put a gash on your leg? That's ridiculous.

L. LOHAN: She's like (EXPLETIVE DELETED) devil right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That is today's update from the Lohan drama file.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: All right. The stakes just got higher for next week's presidential debate. How about free pizza? Pizza Hut is running a promotion offering one large pie a week for 30 years or a check for 15 grand to anyone who asks the candidates one burning question during the town hall-style debate on Tuesday. What's your favorite pizza topping?

It's not likely anyone will get a shot to ask that in this very tightly controlled settings. And many voters are saying the pizza stunt is in bad taste and a waste of the candidate's time.

BERMAN: Pizza is never a waste of time.

All right. In case you missed it, the late-night talk shows, they still have plenty to say about the presidential campaign including the vice presidential debate pre-game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Well, tomorrow night Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will be facing off in the vice presidential debates. Well, actually, the White House -- the White House a little worried, you know. In fact, Biden's handlers are telling him, whatever you do, don't be yourself. Be anybody else.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": The vice presidents are debating tomorrow night. It's going to be Joe Biden, Vice President Joe Biden, and Paul Ryan, they're debating. And they're both going to try to appeal to the working class, and I laugh. I enjoyed that when I said, America still has a working class? I don't think so. No, everybody is gone.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": This is nice. This week the Obama's dog Bo turned 4 years old. Yes. He spent the day, as he always does, digging holes, chasing squirrels and coaching Obama for the debates.

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Folks, election watchers are always poised this late in the campaign season for what they refer to as an October surprise. Although it appears that time is upon us as evidenced by the recent presidential debate where Barack Obama unveiled his explosive October surprise. That he has given up. Surprise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Proof that the Obama team wants a different story coming out of tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: EARLY START continues right now.