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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Veep Debate Tonight; Ryan To Make National Debate Debut; Parking Garage Collapse; Fungal Meningitis Death Toll Now At 12; Walk Off Wednesday; House Probes Benghazi Attack; Drew Brees Breaks Record; Anti-Doping Agency, Former Teammates Points Fingers at Lance Armstrong

Aired October 11, 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: No sideshow, not anymore, high stakes as the two candidates for vice president get ready to take the stage for tonight's debate. We will take you inside.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And against all odds. Rescuers on the scene of a deadly parking garage collapse find a man alive in all of that rubble.

BERMAN: October excitement. Man, not one, but two fantastic finishes have baseball fans buzzing from New York to California.

SAMBOLIN: You want to talk about it right now?

BERMAN: Man, these were fantastic endings. You'll have to stay tuned to see. Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: You know what? You're right because most people were sleeping.

BERMAN: Such incredible finishes.

SAMBOLIN: It is good. Stay tuned for it. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It's 6:00 a.m. in the East.

Up first here, 15 hours and counting now until the Kentucky showdown between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. The running mates will face off on issues foreign and domestic in their only debate of the presidential campaign.

Biden's goal, stop the bleeding from President Obama's poor debate showing. Ryan will try to keep Romney's mittmentum going. I have a hard time saying that.

CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, live at the debate site in Danville, Kentucky, dart there. We hear, a little cold. So the new polls are out. Is it a little good news for Mitt Romney?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, it is. It's continuing this trend we've seen over the last couple of days and that's what makes this debate tonight so important because there is some momentum for Mitt Romney coming out of that first debate.

We've seen a bounce in the national polls and more importantly in those crucial state polls, those battleground swing states. Take a look at these. You mentioned these from NBC/"Wall Street Journal" and Marist, just out in the last few hours.

Let's start with Virginia, where it's looks like it's pretty much dead even, Mitt Romney at 48 percent, Barack Obama at 47 percent. That's a slight switch from a week ago. They came out with previous polls just before the presidential debate.

Let's move on to Florida. Same story, pretty much. Look at the president, 48 percent, Mitt Romney at 47 percent. That's about as close as you can get. It was just as close a week ago.

And in Ohio, you can see the president still has an advantage there, but it is a little bit tighter than it was a week ago before the Denver debate. How do Americans feel about the two guys we'll meet tonight at this debate?

Look at this from Pew. This is favorability for both Vice President Joe Biden. You can see he is a little bit underwater when it comes to favorability.

As for Congressman Ryan, it seems like Americans kind of divided on him, but a little more have a more favorable opinion than not. But Zoraida, yes, because of what's happened over the last week, because of the president's lackluster performance last week in Denver, there's more at stake tonight here in Danville, Kentucky.

SAMBOLIN: And Paul, both our running mates have made a point to lower expectations. I saw this morning that Mitt Romney has said that Paul Ryan has not debated since high school.

STEINHAUSER: Yes. Well, he was a little off on that. Paul Ryan has debated a few times over the years. Remember, he's run for Congress seven times now and won seven times.

But you're right, it's not just the campaigns that are lowering expectations, it's the candidates themselves. Take a listen to Paul Ryan talking to our Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Joe Biden has been doing this for a long time. He ran for president twice, he's a sitting vice president. He's been on this big stage many times before.

So that's new for me. So I'm doing my homework and studying the issues. I mean, I know how he'll come and attack us. The problem he has is he has Barack Obama's record he has to run on.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you intimidated at all, based on the background that you just described?

RYAN: No, I'm not intimidated. I'm actually excited about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEINHAUSER: Take a look at this, a live picture inside the debate hall. And you can see, they're going to be sitting, both Joe Biden and Paul Ryan are going to be sitting with Martha Rattas, the moderator. That may make it a little tougher to go on the attack when you are sitting at a table close to your opponent -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Well, you are so excited. I cannot wait to talk to you after the debate. Thank you so much, Paul.

BERMAN: Paul like practically jumping through the screen this morning. All right, I want to bring in veteran presidential campaign debate adviser, Brett O'Donnell. He has worked with Mitt Romney, John McCain, George W. Bush, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, and practically every Republican ever born on debates.

I want to ask you this. You know, Vice President Joe Biden, known as something of a gaffe monster. What are the expectations for him? What can he reasonably hope to accomplish tonight?

BRETT O'DONNELL, PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN DEBATE ADVISER: Well, you know, I think the pressure is really on Vice President Biden, because there's a lot of downside and not much upside for him.

You know, the narrative coming out of the last debate was that President Obama wasn't very good. But, you know, Vice President Biden has to try and blunt that momentum and turn the narrative around.

And I think that's a hard task when you're not the principle. But, if he makes a significant mistake, that can set the campaign back even further.

BERMAN: I do think, Brett, you can make the case that Vice President Joe Biden's passion is exactly the kind of thing that particularly Democratic voters want to see. So maybe we can't overlook that.

O'DONNELL: No, I think he definitely has the passion to turn in a great performance. He's done two sets of presidential primary debates and he's been on this stage before. So he's got the experience.

The problem for him might be, you know, if he goes out and really attacks, it may even call attention to the president's weakness last week or it presents the opportunity for him to make a serious mistake.

BERMAN: And what about Paul Ryan? What does he need to do? What does he need to be careful about?

O'DONNELL: Well, he's got to make sure the debate stays about the president's policies on the economy and he also has to make sure that the debate stays more about the Romney vision, rather than the Ryan plan.

If he gets caught in a debate about the Ryan plan, then he'll be more likely to be on defense. And I think he's got to defend the Romney vision as opposed to defending the Ryan plan.

BERMAN: And Brett, you just said he wants to keep this on economic issues. And social issues have once again that reared their head in this campaign, because of some answers, conflicting answers that Mitt Romney has given on abortion.

Listen to what he said a couple of days ago to the "Des Moines Register".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you intend to pursue any legislations, specifically regarding abortion?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I don't -- there's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And then he seemed to clean it up yesterday on the trail. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I think I said time and again, 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. Will not be part of my budget.

And also I've indicated I'll reverse the Mexico City position of the president. I'll reinstate the Mexico City policy, which prevents us using foreign aid for abortions overseas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, Brett, a two-part question here. Does this put social issues back on the table for tonight's debate? And the second part of that question, do you expect the Democrats to seize on the flip-flop label here because we seem to see two positions in two days here from Mitt Romney?

O'DONNELL: Well, you know, it may put social issues back on the table. It depends what Martha does in the debate tonight. I'm not sure this is an issue that the Democrats -- you know, it may put the women's issue back on the table in terms of their war on women that they have been litigating earlier in the campaign.

So they may use it again as a wedge issue, but this election is about jobs and the economy. And I think as long as Congressman Ryan focuses on that tonight, he'll be able to litigate a debate he wants to.

If Joe Biden is able to put that issue back on the table, then it might put Congressman Ryan on his heels.

BERMAN: All right, Brett O'Donnell, there is no one better to talk to on debate days than you. Thank you so much for being with us today.

We will have more debate pre-game at the bottom of the hour with Republican strategist, Ana Navarro and Richard Socarides. He is a former senior adviser to President Clinton.

And of course, stay with CNN for complete coverage of the vice presidential debate starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN and on cnn.com.

SAMBOLIN: It is 8 minutes past the hour. Listen to this. A man who was trapped under a huge slab of concrete for 13 hours was pulled from the rubble alive. This is really early this morning.

At the site of a parking garage collapse in 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 at the time. Miami-Dade fire rescue says eight others were taken to area hospitals for treatment.

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

A total of 12 people have died. At least 137 infected across 11 states, the hardest hits, Tennessee, Michigan, and Virginia.

BERMAN: All right, sports fans, wake up, because not one, two fantastic finishes in baseball divisional playoffs late, late-night finishes.

First, that's the Yankees' Raul Banez hitting a walk off homer, but three innings to beat the Orioles 3-2, but get this, three innings before, Ibanez hit one to tie the game after he was put in to pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez.

He pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez. The Yanks now lead that series, two games to one. Game four is tonight. Wow. Meantime, double wow in Oakland. The Oakland A's facing elimination got a walk off hit from Coco Crisp, the best name in baseball.

That capped a two-run, ninth inning comeback against the Detroit Tigers. They were on the verge of elimination, but now they forced a fifth and deciding game in that series tonight in Oakland. My friend, MC Hammer is thrilled about that.

SAMBOLIN: You know, my former neighbors in Detroit, I love them to death, but I am not rooting for the Detroit Tigers. So stop bullying me on Facebook and Twitter, because I'm not rooting for them, Oakland A's.

All right, 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)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 13 minutes past the hour. Over the past few weeks, we've gotten a lot of answers to a single question. What happened in Libya?

Now the House is the trying to get to the bottom of it, but politics may be getting in the way. 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 responded by calling out House Republicans for cutting security funding and turning a tragedy into a political side show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAFFETZ: And I am fascinated to know, and understand, from the president of the 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 that 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)

SAMBOLIN: CNN foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labott, live from Washington for us this morning. Nice to see you, Elise. So what was accomplished and where do we go from here?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, what was accomplished? Good question, Zoraida. I mean, this -- a lot of people thought that this hearing looked -- resembled more "L.A. Law" then it did a hearing and an investigation into finding out what happened, and more importantly, preventing it from happening again.

There was a lot of political grandstanding, a lot of Republicans cutting off witnesses from the State Department, not letting them answer, kind of very lawyerly in a sense.

But there were some important things that came out about whether the consulate was adequately protected. Eric Nordstrom, the top security official in Libya spoke very candidly about some of the problems he was having in getting the resources he needed to protect U.S. personnel in Libya. Let's take a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC NORDSTROM, FORMER SECURITY OFFICER: One of the frustrating things that I found early on, and as I mentioned in my testimony, I was extremely pleased with the planning to get us into Libya. The frustrating thing that I found is once the first teams and the first TD wires (ph) started to expire at 60 days, there was a complete and total absence of planning that I saw in terms of what we were supposed to do from that point on.

And I requested assets, instead of supporting those assets, I was criticized. And somehow it was my responsibility to come up with a plan on the ground and not the responsibility for D.S. I raised that specific point in a meeting with the D.S. director in March. That 60 days, there was no plan, and it was hope that everything would get better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: And, Zoraida, Nordstrom went on to say, even as his resources were being denied, his danger pay for being in a hardship post was going up, so that was giving him the message that the embassy and the consulate wasn't going to get adequate resources until there was an attack on one of the facilities.

And he asked, how thin does the ice have to be before someone falls through, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: So, Elise, what happens next?

LABOTT: Well, what's going to happen with this committee, I don't know. I think a lot of people feel that the committee isn't necessarily interested in finding specific answers and recommendations, but maybe a lot of politics on both sides. But there are other investigations that are going on. The FBI is having an investigation, more of a criminal investigation into who's responsible. State Department, also, Secretary Clinton, has appointed an independent investigation with a real high-level panel to find out what happened and make recommendations, most importantly, how to prevent this from happening again, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: At the end of the day, that is the most important thing, right? So I'm happy to hear that. Thank you so much, Elise Labott, live in Washington for us.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. It is 17 minutes after the hour. We want to get you up to speed on all the top stories.

Here's Christine Romans with that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, you two.

The election is now 26 days away. The next big event, of course, the presidential campaign is on tap tonight in Danville, Kentucky, the next big event of the campaign. Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will square off in the first and only presidential debate.

Biden's expected to be in attack mode 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 p.m. Eastern on CNN and CNN.com.

WWE star CM Punk now saying he's sorry for this.

He backhanded and then punched a fan he thought smacked him in the head on live TV. The problem is, if you look closely, he hit the wrong guy. WWE fan Joel Rappasack (ph) sent us video of the spontaneous smack down. The WWE saying security should have been there to make sure CM Punk and fans were safe.

The fan filed a report with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office, but didn't want to press charges.

BERMAN: You always ask in pro wrestling, is that real or fake? I bet it felt really real when he got smacked by a big muscular guy.

SAMBOLIN: Some former WWE superstar Rob Marciano has the look at the forecast.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I can tell you. That was real. Well, you know, here in the WWE --

(LAUGHTER)

MARCIANO: Part of the grid right now in Cincinnati, guys -- good morning, I don't have a ton of time here. Ohio River Valley, freeze warnings out right now for temps obviously below the freezing mark and frost advisory, just south of that, including places like Nashville.

Notice how the cool air will be coming down from Canada, actually will team up with a little storm system, unusual for this time of year, coming through California. And that will give us a threat for seeing not only that cool shot, but severe weather on Saturday, maybe damaging winds and hail and tornadoes here across the midsection of the country.

By the way, the cool shot for the Northeast, kind of hangs with us, again, reinforcing shot tomorrow and Saturday, but then warming up as we get towards Sunday.

Don't make me get on the top row. I will destroy you.

BERMAN: All right, Rob. Rob Marciano in Atlanta. That was awesome.

SAMBOLIN: It was.

BERMAN: Coming up, Mitt Romney's plan for Medicare. Three critical questions still unanswered. We will ask them all when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: All right. Minding your business this morning, the vice presidential debate is tonight, in case you haven't heard. And Medicare is bound to come up.

While the president's health care law has a specific for the entitlement, there are still some pretty big questions about Governor Mitt Romney's Medicare plan.

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

ROMANS: So, I think this will come up tonight. So governor Romney's Medicare plan is unclear on three issues critical to the 47 million people on Medicare and 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 the year 2020 and up to 90 million by the year 2050. The first unclear point of Romney's plan, the cost to seniors.

And this only applies to future retirees, although he hasn't given a specific age. We know his plan offers seniors two options -- one, a premium support system or a voucher for each senior to buy private insurance from competing providers. The other option, 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 question, the prescription drug plan. Romney says older Americans have nothing to worry about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Neither the president nor I are proposing any changing for any current retirees or near retirees, either to Social Security or Medicare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: But there is one big thing that 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 governor's prescription drug plan. And the president says those savings would disappear under Romney's plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What happens is, those seniors, right away, are going to be paying over $600 more in prescription care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Romney's campaign is yet to have specifics on how it would deal with that increase in prescription cost for seniors if he were to repeal Obamacare.

Finally, Romney hasn't said if he'll put a cap on Medicare spending. And experts tell us a cap is needed to provide or to promote competition and to keep cost increases under control.

Plus, bipartisan groups like the Congressional Budget Office, they won't give Romney's plan a score without one. We don't have a score without that question being answered.

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

BERMAN: One of the thing Biden is sure to do is try to bring up the Ryan plan and juxtapose it with the Romney plan, show there's a difference there and try to pigeonhole into his own --

ROMANS: But he'll dodge it, right? He'll say, look, the boss is Mitt Romney. I'm not the boss. I have a guideline, but I will defer to the boss.

SAMBOLIN: What is the one thing we need to know about our money today?

ROMANS: More evidence that the housing market is healing and this is something you feel immediately, right?

Foreclosures are slowing. RealtyTrac tells us that foreclosures are now at five-year lows.

BERMAN: Five-year lows.

SAMBOLIN: Ending on a positive note, love that. Thank you.

BERMAN: Thank you very much.

All right. Ahead on EARLY START, things -- they get ugly at a youth football game in California. The coaches come to blows. It is all captured on video. You'll want to see it. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Last-minute cramming in Kentucky. Joe Biden and Paul Ryan getting ready for their one and only debate tonight. We're breaking down what you can expect. BERMAN: Two hundred pages, 26 witnesses, including once-loyal teammates -- all detailing how Lance Armstrong cheated. The most damning evidence yet against the cycling legend.

SAMBOLIN: And who dat? It's Drew Brees, the Saints' record-setting quarterback. And guess what? He is joining us live.

Welcome back to EARLY START. Thank you for being with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Very excited for Drew Brees. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

But first, very excited about this. Every minute that passes this morning brings us one minute closer to that one and only vice presidential debate. Inside the auditorium in Danville, Kentucky, Vice President Joe Biden will meet his Republican rival, Congressman Paul Ryan. All eyes are on this one after it was seen as a tough night for President Obama in the first debate. The president now admitting he had, quote, "a bad night".

We have some brand-spanking-new battleground poll numbers to look at. Mitt Romney now pulling ahead by a point in Virginia according to a NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist model, although a new CBS/"New York Times" poll shows Obama still ahead there.

Now, Romney still trails in Florida, though that race is essentially tied there. And Romney gaining two points in Ohio, but the president's lead still a little more comfortable there.

We have so much to talk about this morning, especially the debate. I'm joined now by Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and CNN contributor, and Richard Socarides, Democratic analyst and former adviser to President Bill Clinton. A political dynamic duo right here in the studio with us this morning.

And I want to start, of course, with this debate tonight, Paul Ryan against Vice President Joe Biden.

And the vice president is known for a lot of things, that are satired quite frequently on the late-night show. So, I want to play one bite from "Saturday Night Live" before we kick off our discussion here. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: Is there anything more exciting than Joe Biden thinking it's up to him to get the lead back? It's Tebow time!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So Richard --

RICHARD SOCARIDES, DEMOCRATIC ANALYST: That wasn't that funny.

BERMAN: Is there something to that? I mean, Joe Biden known for the gaffes, but he has to have a big night tonight.

SOCARIDES: Yes, I think what he has to do and what he could do for all Democrats and for President Obama is change the narrative here and get the momentum back. I mean, clearly, Governor Romney had a great performance last week and the momentum is with them now. The poll numbers show that.

So the vice president can alter that narrative with a good performance tonight. And I think he'll do that.

BERMAN: The president himself has said, one of the things he wants to do is let Joe be Joe. And Joe, as he's called the vice president, is known for many things. One of them is passion.

And I do get the sense that Democratic loyalists want to see that. So, isn't that an advantage for him tonight, Ana?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, you were speaking with Brett O'Donnell right beforehand, and I think he's the best Republican debate coach we have. And he brought up a very good point, which is really Joe Biden's got to walk a very fine line.

He can't really overshadow and blow out what Barack Obama did, you know, 10 days ago. But on the other hand, he's got to perform and he's got to perform better.

And I'll tell you something else. I got a feeling this might be a 2016 tryout for my friend, Joe Biden. I think you're going to see Joe Biden competing in a Democrat primary in four years. And I think this is his chance to shine.

But I do agree with the comments. I think the only thing that might be more concerning than an overly passive Barack Obama is an overly aggressive Joe Biden.

BERMAN: One of the things that was not mentioned hardly at all in the first debate, social issues. And I think we can assume they will play a bigger role tonight, especially because the abortion issue has come back into play this week with some statements that Mitt Romney made, conflicting statements. I want to listen to these again.

First to the "Des Moines Register." Let's listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

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 AUDIO CLIP)

BERMAN: And then he seemed to go back on that yesterday on the campaign trail. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I think I said time and again, 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)

BERMAN: Is this an opportunity for the Democrats -- an opportunity for Joe Biden tonight, Richard?

SOCARIDES: Well, I think it is. And I think you'll see a lot of discussion about these issues tonight. I mean, Governor Romney was for cutting taxes on the rich and then not, and then he was for ending Obamacare, and then he was not exactly for ending Obamacare.

Yesterday, we saw almost, you know, just within 24 hours, he was not for restrictions on abortion and then he was.

So, believe me, Joe Biden's going to hit that very hard tonight.

BERMAN: All right. Ana, last word. This seems to be a big change in the course of 24 hours.

NAVARRO: You know what, I welcome it. I think the average American is frankly more aware of Mitt Romney is saying he is right now. And I think there is no inconsistency here.

I welcome his shift. I wonder why it took him so long. And I do think that it is the natural shift to a general election. And I'm OK with it.

You know, as President Obama has shifted on many issues. We could say some, you know, very recently during the elections, like his evolution on gay rights. When President Obama does it, it's an evolution. When Mitt Romney does it, it's a flip-flop.

SOCARIDES: You heard it here.

BERMAN: When Mitt Romney did it this time, it was in the course of about 20 hours.

NAVARRO: All right. So it took President Obama seven years.

BERMAN: We'll have to leave it there and we'll leave it to Joe Biden to finish this discussion tonight.

Ana Navarro, CNN contributor and Republican strategist, and Richard Socarides, former senior adviser to President Clinton, thank you so much for joining me this morning.

And, of course, CNN's coverage of the vice presidential debate begins at 7:00 Eastern here on CNN and on CNN.com.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you. A youth football game in northern California ends with the coaches throwing punches at each other. The brawl, right in front of the players -- the parents, cheerleaders, was captured on video. It was posted on YouTube by a player's stepmom, who commented that they weren't being good role models. It's not clear whether they will be punished.

SAMBOLIN: So ahead on EARLY START, he just broke the NFL record for consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass 48 straight. We'll talk live with New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees about the record and his work with NFL Play 60, getting kids up and playing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: A surprise special guest. Soledad O'Brien join us with a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT".

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Surprise!

Ahead on "STARTING POINT" this morning, we are, of course, going to talk about if vice presidential showdown. Folks trying to figure out how it's going to go tonight. Will it be attack? Will it be a night of gaffes? Will it be stumbling or mumbling? Or will it be hard-core fighting between the two?

We're looking at that this morning and going to talk to Newark's mayor, Cory Booker. He's with us live. Also, RNC chair, Reince Priebus, will be with us; David Axelrod from the Obama campaign; and senior adviser and Wisconsin congressman, Reid Ribble will join us as well.

Also, as former teammates have turned on him, we're looking at the shocking new report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency about Lance Armstrong and the doping scandal there. We'll tell you what Armstrong's attorney is now saying, straight ahead.

And tackled on the field, a player taken down. You guys were just talking about this a moment ago. It happened -- tackled by the coach of the other team. Insane. It's going to be our "Get Real," of course, because, really, come on.

BERMAN: Get real!

O'BRIEN: Exactly. I'm so mad. Like as a parent, come on, people!

Anyway, that's all ahead right at the top of the hour. We'll see you then.

BERMAN: Excellent.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

We're wondering if it's happening more or people are just videotaping it more than they used to.

O'BRIEN: Both. SAMBOLIN: Both.

O'BRIEN: I think.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Forty-one minutes past the hour.

A man who was trapped under a huge slab of concrete for 13 hours was pulled from the rubble. He is alive, early this morning at the site of a parking garage collapse in Florida, it left three workers dead. The five-story garage was under construction when the structure gave way let yesterday morning. There were dozens of workers inside at the time. Miami-Dade fire rescue says eight others were taken to area hospitals for treatment.

BERMAN: All right, sports fans. You'll want to wake up for this. It was walk-off Wednesday in the American League divisional playoffs.

First, Yankees' Raul Ibanez hits a game-winning 12th inning home run, took the Yanks two games to one in that series over the Baltimore Orioles. The amazing thing is, it was Ibanez's second dramatic homer of the night. He hit one in the ninth to tie the game up and that was pinch hitting for Alex Rodriguez.

SAMBOLIN: No.

BERMAN: True story.

Then the Oakland A's, they worked their magic last night, coming from two runs down in the ninth inning. Their backs against the wall, they beat the Detroit Tigers and a walk-off single by Coco Crisp. Oakland's win set up a fifth and deciding in that series tonight.

You know, they were down to one out in the ninth, down two runs. An amazing comeback to bring this series to a fifth game.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So exciting.

A lot of people missed it because they were sleeping. Forty-two minutes past the hour.

Pass completed to Canton. The football from Sunday's record-breaking throw by New Orleans Saints' quarterback Drew Brees is now on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

BERMAN: Brees broke Johnny Unitas' 52-year record by throwing a touchdown pass in his 48 straight games. He joins us now from New Orleans to talk about his record-breaking pass as well as some great work to talk about the Play 60 program, which encourages kids to get out and play.

Drew Brees, welcome this morning. First off, congratulations.

DREW BREES, NFL QUARTERBACK, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Thank you very much. How are y'all doing?

BERMAN: We're doing great. Probably not as well as you this morning. I can probably say that most mornings.

So, I have to know, you put that ball up in the air in the game, and, you know, it's in the air, do you think while it's floating, this is it, I'm breaking the record on this one?

BREES: You know what, honestly, things happen so fast during the course of the game, you don't even have time to think, you just react. But that was actually a play call that we had discussed all week long as being, hey, if we call this in the right situation, it's a guaranteed touchdown, and sure enough, we called it at the right situation and it was a guaranteed touchdown.

So as soon as it left my hand, I knew, I knew we had scored.

BERMAN: That's got to be some feeling, particularly because people, a lot of people are rightfully calling this not just historic, but incredibly historic.

"Sports Illustrated" wrote this. They said, "Breaking any record set by Unitas is monumental, but this one is particularly big. If you're throwing a touchdown pass in 48 straight games, you're consistently excellent. That's why I'm more impressed with this streak than anything else Drew Brees has done. He broke a record that lasted for 52 years."

SAMBOLIN: Wow.

BERMAN: I mean, has this sunk in yet? Is this going to be a career- defining moments.

BREES: I'm not sure if it's sunk in yet. Obviously, it was exciting to be a part of that, and then obviously win the game on Sunday night football in the Superdome. But it's one of those records that's ongoing. You know, every game that we're able to continue to throw a touchdown pass, the record extends. So I think for us, if you think about just winning games, you think about your preparation throughout the week, and execution, and that sort of thing, and if we continue to build the record, so be it. But just to have been a part of this run and to have eclipsed the record the way that we did on Sunday was an incredible feeling.

SAMBOLIN: You asked the NFL to give permission for suspended coach Sean Payton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt, and general manager Mickey Loomis to be in attendance. Why was that so important to you?

BREES: Because those three men are as instrumental in, I think, the success of our team as anyone. And certainly they've helped build the foundation of what we've been able to create here in New Orleans. And there was so many people that were a huge part of that record that really extended over the course of four years. You know, that started back in 2009, so there's really four seasons, four teams, that were a part of that record, and certainly those three men were a huge part of it and I felt it very appropriate that they be in the stadium to be a part of that historic night.

SAMBOLIN: I want to talk a little bit about this program that you support. The NFL launched the Play 60 program back in 2007 as a campaign to fight childhood obesity. So now they've upped the challenge for kids and have teamed up with Xbox, which I think is brilliant, with the "60 million minutes" challenge. So tell us a little bit about that program.

BREES: Well, right. So to repeat what you said, Kinect for Xbox 360 has partnered up with NFL Play 360 to create the "60 million minutes" challenge, which basically the goal is to recruit 1 million kids to pledge to get active for 60 minutes a day, thus providing 60 million minutes of active play per day to fight childhood obesity.

It's an unbelievable program. Kids can actually go online to the Xbox Facebook page, or to the "60 million minutes" app, or to the Xbox Live to pledge to be active for 60 minutes a day, and they'll win the opportunity to get a social autograph from myself or other NFL players, actually all on their Facebook wall, that they can share with family and friends.

But Kinect for Xbox 360 has actually been added to, you know, that realm of opportunities to get great exercise. The whole virtual gaming industry, the fact that you can sit in your living room and actually be interactive with a game constitutes 60 minutes of exercise. So another great way for kids to get active.

BERMAN: All right, Drew Brees. I know a lot of kids who would like that social autograph, a lot of kids who may be 40 years old or so. Drew Brees, quaterback for the New Orleans Saints. Congratulations.

BREES: It's kids of all ages. Kids of all ages.

SAMBOLIN: That's a good point.

BREES: We're all kids at heart. Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Teammates turning on Lance Armstrong in what could be a damning report that calls him "a serial cheat". A man who chronicled Armstrong's cycling comeback weighs in. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. 51 minutes past the hour. Lance Armstrong apparently spent the night hanging with his family after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency went public with a 1,000-page report trying to end any doubt that he cheated.

The seven-time Tour de France winner is a hero to many for his triumph in the cycling world, but the report summed up their findings by calling what they found, quote, "the most sophisticated, professionalized, and successful doping program that sport has ever seen". The agency says Armstrong, despite his repeated denials, doped throughout the majority of his professional cycling career.

Here's what Armstrong's attorney told CNN's Erin Burnett last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TIMOTHY HERMAN, LANCE ARMSTRONG ATTORNEY: Now, the United States Anti-Doping Agency, funded by U.S. tax dollars, spending millions of dollars to go after Armstrong, who is their target and who they've had a witch hunt in place since the mid-2000s.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: And joining us now is Bill Strickland. He's the editor-at- large of "Bicycling" magazine and author of the book, "Tour de Lance", which chronicled Armstrong's 2009 return to the Tour de France. Welcome. Thank you for being with us this morning.

So what's new and different here is all of these former teammates are coming forward now. So does this essentially end any doubt that he is a serial cheater, as he's being called?

BILL STRICKLAND, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "BICYCLING" MAGAZINE: Certainly it's a landslide. What's new here, there have always been teammates that have spoken out against him -- what's new here is that, of the eleven, six are unimpeachable. They - Armstrong would have real trouble attacking their credibility.

SAMBOLIN: Well let's talk about one of those. A statement from George Hincapie, he's Lance's close teammate during his winning Tour de France run, and this is what he said: "Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them."

So that's basically saying he used it as he was a member of the team and pointing fingers, then, at Lance Armstrong.

STRICKLAND: Yes, and within the report, it's a200-page report, George says that he witnessed Lance taking drugs and cheating and distributing drugs as well.

SAMBOLIN: It also suggests that Lance Armstrong was the ringleader, that he essentially ran the program. What do you know about that?

STRICKLAND: Well, it makes sense. He was the leader of the team. He led the team in every way, in training and equipment and certainly if this were part of their program, he would have taken the lead.

SAMBOLIN: So what we're trying to understand is how he got away with it. The report says Armstrong's wife helped, they had code words, there was even someone called "Motoman" who would follow them on a motorcycle during races with dope. That seems really brazen. How did they not get caught?

STRICKLAND: Well, it's a very tiny circle of people, only three or four at one time, who knew what everyone was doing. They talked about, A) in a B-team, within the team. They kept it very, very tight.

SAMBOLIN: So what happens next? STRICKLAND: What happens next? A lot of people are waiting to sigh if the criminal investigation will be reopened, which we don't know. It seems likely his jerseys will be stripped but, again, we still don't know that. And Lance himself has 30, 40 million people who still believe in him.

SAMBOLIN: And especially with the cancer work he's done and the foundation, they seem to really support him still.

STRICKLAND: There's no easy solution to this.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Bill Strickland, thank you so much for joining us, editor-at-large of "Bicycling" magazine, author of "Tour de Lance". Very nice of you to weigh in this morning. We appreciate it.

So today's Best Advice from the one and only Cyndi Llauper. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: It is 58 minutes past the hour.

BERMAN: And as always, we wrap it up with Best Advice. A great one today. Here's Christine.

ROMANS: Don't take any advice from me. We asked Cyndi Lauper, the Grammy winner who just wants to have fun, the best advice she ever received. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CYNDI LAUPER, GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING SINGER: I think always to be aware of where you are and look around and notice the little things, that sometimes if the big things aren't happening the way you want, notice the little things. They are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That's really sweet advice, isn't it?

SAMBOLIN: It's great advice. It's hard to do sometimes, but it's really great advice.

ROMANS: But if you, in the midst of disappointment, try to find the things that are going right to let you, you know, have a little bit of something to keep going ahead.

BERMAN: That's what Cyndi says. We're all going to live that way today. Excellent.

ROMANS: I'm just going to have fun today.

BERMAN: All right, that's all, guys, in EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

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