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Post-Presidential Debate Special; Social Media Trends of the Debate

Aired October 17, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And the Obama-Romney rematch, it is now in the books and this time, America got to see two very feisty candidates go toe-to-toe. President Obama fighting back from his first debate performance that really didn't measure up, according to some people. He showed more energy and passion last night. Mitt Romney standing his ground, attacking the president aggressively on the president's handling of the economy and in Libya.

SAMBOLIN: And here is how America scored it all. A CNN/ORC poll of registered voters who watched the debate gave the edge to the president, 46 percent to 39 percent.

BERMAN: Senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is here with us in studio this morning. And, Dana, according to the poll, voters thought Obama did a little bit better and exceeded their expectations.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's because he came to play, unlike last time, perhaps. But so did Mitt Romney. And that is made the evening so crackling with energy.


BASH (voice-over): You may think the debate in front of undeclared persuadable voters would produce right performances.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On government land is down.


BASH: Think again.

ROMNEY: In the last four years --

BASH: At times, this town hall looked like a school-yard brawl.

OBAMA: Not true, Governor Romney. That's not true.

ROMNEY: I had a question and the question was how much did you cut them by? How much did you cut them by?

OBAMA: I'm happy to answer the question.

BASH: If memorable debates are about moments, one here was on Libya.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?

BASH: It was the question conservatives were waiting for. A chance to slam the president for lax security and changing stories on what prompted last month's deadly Benghazi attack.

ROMNEY: There was no demonstration involved. It was a terrorist attack. I think you have to ask yourself, why didn't we know five days later when the ambassador to the United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration. How could we have not known?

BASH: The president threw down the commander-in-chief card.

OBAMA: And the suggestion that anybody on my team, whether it is the secretary of state or the U.N. ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive. That's not what we do. That's not what I do as president, that's not what I do as commander-in-chief.

BASH: Romney's offensive on national security did not go as planned.

OBAMA: The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror.

ROMNEY: The president just said something which is that on the day after the attack he went in the Rose Garden and said this was an act of terror. You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CANDY CROWLEY, DEBATE MODERATOR: He did, in fact, sir. Let me call it an act of terror.

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

BASH: Throughout this debate, the president tried to make up for the first one. This time, he used the 47 percent attack line.

OBAMA: When he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims, who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.

BASH: And Romney who dominated the stage in the first debate was going for a repeat performance.

ROMNEY: You'll get your chance in a moment. I'm still speaking. And the answer is I don't believe people think that's the case because that was not the question, that was a statement. BASH: But in an attempt to reach the critical vote may have fallen flat, he answered a question about equal pay with a story about searching for women in his Massachusetts cabinet.

ROMNEY: I went to a number of women's groups and said, can you help us find folks? And they brought us whole binders full of women.

BASH: Within minutes, Romney's binders had its own Twitter handle.

The president went after Romney as a flip-flopper.

OBAMA: Governor, when you were governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, "This plant kills," and took great pride in shuttling it down. And now, suddenly, you're a big champion of coal.

BASH: Romney determined to use his rehearsed lines, even when they were off topic. The question was on immigration but Romney launched into a defense of his offshore investments with a practice pivot against the president.

ROMNEY: Any investments I have over the last eight years were managed by a blind trust and I understand they do include investments outside the United States, including in Chinese companies. Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: I've got to say --

ROMNEY: President, have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: I don't look at my pension. It is not as big as yours so it doesn't take as long.


BASH: Now, obviously, the audience was full of undeclared or uncommitted voters, I should say. It was so clear in watching all 90 minutes both of the candidates were really playing to their base.

BERMAN: They were on fire. We have been talking all morning, the candidates were feisty, fiery, and in some cases, the president was just much more aggressive. The question is, how will that play? Will that affect his likability? Do we have a sense from last night?

BASH: Well, we did another instant poll that does show it is about even when it comes to likability.

SAMBOLIN: That's interesting.

BASH: I have this poll right there. It's not about even. Obama has 47 percent and Romney, 41 percent. If you look at the people who were actually polled and work the numbers, it tends to be about even. But the overall point is that these are two men who both have trouble connecting. This was the kind of format that would have allowed for let's say in a Bill Clinton time to really make that connection and have the empathy moment. And because neither of them tends to be able to do that, it didn't come across as startling as it would have with one of them really connecting.

SAMBOLIN: I'll tell you what it came across as contentious, because I actually read the transcripts first before I look at it, I didn't watch the debate live last night. And the back and forth was just incredible. The moments, you could feel them, how tense it was, even in the wording back and forth.

So I'm surprised at the likeability, actually. I thought Obama's numbers would have been higher as they have been in the past.

BERMAN: Well, what I think what it does show is that he was able to be more aggressive and take the fight to Mitt Romney without sacrificing his likeability. The fear was he was too aggressive, would seem unpresidential, and the numbers would get repressed.

SAMBOLIN: But they were both really aggressive, right?


SAMBOLIN: So maybe that's where it evened out, is that they were both incredibly aggressive.

Dana Bash, thank you so much for that. I really appreciate it.

BASH: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: Our CNN political analyst David Gergen and Gloria Borger listened closely and carefully to the debate and offered their expert analysis as soon as it was over, as did chief national correspondent John King.


DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Most improved. That award goes to Barack Obama. I think he had a much, much stronger debate tonight. You can read social media, there are a lot of people out there, Democrats who are all fired up. But I must tell you, I think that Mitt Romney has had two very good debates back to back. I think he had a solid performance tonight.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Both sides can leave thinking they want to do what they want to do. There's zero question, Democratic intensity will come back. It dipped after the first presidential debate. The president did that part of it. Governor Romney did a good job prosecuting against the incumbent's record.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Mitt Romney's best moments were focusing on the economic record and saying the middle class has been buried many times, which we have heard before. For me, the president's best moments were Romney versus Romney.


SAMBOLIN: Gloria Borger said the president pointed out differences in Mitt Romney's positions at various points in his career as governor, as primary candidate and now as Republican nominee. BERMAN: So I just got back up here from Washington. We are doing fact checking down there and I want to talk about --

SAMBOLIN: You had a lot of work to do, let me tell you.

BERMAN: It was a busy night. One of the most explosive exchanges was on oil drilling and energy production. We want to shed some light on this. Mitt Romney claimed that under President Obama, production on government land is down.


ROMNEY: Production on private -- on government land is down.

OBAMA: Production is up. No, it isn't.

ROMNEY: Production on government land of oil is down 14 percent.

OBAMA: Governor, what you're saying is not true.

ROMNEY: And production of gas is down 9 percent.

OBAMA: It's just not true.

ROMNEY: It's absolutely true.


BERMAN: So what are the facts here? The Department of Energy says production on federal land has drawn from 2 million barrels a day in 2010 to about 1.8 million a day in the last year available. That's 2011. They attribute that largely to the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf.

Our verdict to you on this narrow claim of 14 percent drop in the last available year is true but it's misleading because it does not tell the whole story of oil production on federal land because listen to this, on oil the president made his own claims about production on federal lands.


OBAMA: We've opened up public lands. We are actually drilling more on public lands than in the previous administration. And the previous president was an oil man.


BERMAN: So even with the one-year drop on production in the federal land, there has been more drilling per year during the Obama administration than during the last term of the Bush administration. So our verdict on what the president said is true.

So what you can see here is he's cherry-picking facts, they each have elements of truth, they are both right but they still managed to get a contentious debate in there. SAMBOLIN: You know what I want is I want another element in there with you doing the fact checking, as it's happening, like Candy Crowley did on Libya, it helps as a viewer to understand right away if he's telling the truth or is he not telling the truth? Is it I complete? Are they stretching the facts?

BERMAN: There's so much cherry-picking when it comes to this. They often always, you know, go choose their own facts. We have another fact check here. I have another fact check for you right now. The president has gone back and forth on paying for college. Did Mitt Romney's words match his plan on student loans? Romney suggested that he would expand the Pell Grant program.


ROMNEY: I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing. We are also going to have our loan program so that people are able to afford school.


BERMAN: Now, the facts here Romney's education which is called a Chance for Every Child does not say he will expand Pell Grants. What it says is it criticizes Obama's expansion of federal grants in some places. Mitt Romney also supported versions of the House-passed Ryan budget which would sharply reduce Pell Grants. The verdict here is that his plans keep Pell Grants growing, that's false.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Ten minutes past the hour here, more post-game reaction ahead at the bottom of the hour with Republican strategist Ana Navarro and Richard Socarides, former senior advisor to President Clinton.

And we are already counting down to the final crucial presidential debate which will focus on foreign policy. CNN's live coverage in Boca Raton, Florida, begins Monday night at 7:00 Eastern.

BERMAN: Debate number three -- this time, it's personal, right?


BERMAN: Ten minutes after the hour right now. Issue number one, of course, is jobs. Governor Romney jumped on that issue last night. Let's listen.


ROMNEY: We have fewer people working today than we had when the president took office.


BERMAN: So is the governor right about this? We'll do a fact-check on that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SAMBOLIN: Good morning. Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START.

Doing what she does best, Christine Romans is fact-checking the points made about the economy in last night's debate.

BERMAN: And you are starting with issue number one, jobs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, you know, the president most recently, his supporters have saying, look, 7.8 percent unemployment rate is something that's good for the president. But last night, Mitt Romney was very clear the depths of the job crisis is much worse than the 7.8 percent number suggests.

This is the claim from Mitt Romney. Listen.


ROMNEY: We have fewer people working today than we had when the president took office. If the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent when he took office, it's 7.8 percent now. But if you calculated that unemployment rate taking back the people who dropped out of the workforce, it would be 10.7 percent.


ROMANS: So let's look at the first part of the claim you guys, that there are fewer people working today than in January of 2009. My answer to this is maybe, because there's two ways you can calculate the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, without some preliminary revisions, Mitt Romney is right. Governor Romney is right. You have 61,000 fewer people working today than when the president took office.

But if you factor in some preliminary revisions that the Bureau of Labor Statistics just gave us the last couple of weeks, actually the president sees job creation in his tenure. So, it's right straddling the line. Bottom line there, there are not many more people working now than when the president took office.

Now, let's look at the second part of this. The second part of this he's talking about something that has to do with the labor force participation rate. I'm going to show you a chart.

This chart shows you that the labor force participation rate is the lowest since 1981. What does that mean? Well, what it means if you look at that participation rate and you calculate the unemployment rate taking into account all the people who dropped out of the labor market, then Mitt Romney is correct. The unemployment rate is 10.7 percent.

Now why have all these people dropped out of the labor market? Some have retired. We have baby boomers retiring like crazy, some maybe have a spouse who is working and are not given the opportunities in the labor market, so they are staying home. Some maybe have dropped out because they have been lost, left out of the recovery.

So, the verdict is that the unemployment rate would be 10.7 percent if you factor in the people who dropped out, Governor Romney is correct.

BERMAN: We don't know why they are dropping out.

ROMANS: We don't know. Well, there are a lot of reasons why they are dropping out. Right, exactly.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Christine, thank you.


SAMBOLIN: And much more debate coverage ahead on EARLY START.

Also coming up, the deadly meningitis outbreak, it takes a new turn. The company at the center of it all now raided by federal agents.


BERMAN: Welcome back. Fire and passion -- they were the stories in last night's second presidential debate. Mitt Romney tried to remain aggressive but he found himself a little more on his heels as he was facing a president showing a lot more energy than he did the first time around. The two men stood toe-to-toe in this very tense showdown.


ROMNEY: How much did you cut licenses and permits on federal lines and federal waters?

OBAMA: Governor Romney, here's what we did. There were a whole bunch of oil companies.

ROMNEY: I had a question and the question was how much did you cut them by? How much did you them by?

OBAMA: I'm happy to answer the question.

ROMNEY: All right. And it is --

OBAMA: Here's what happened.

ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: I've got to say --

ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: You know, I don't look at my pension. It is not as big as yours so it doesn't take as long.

ROMNEY: Let me give you some -- let me give you some advice.

OBAMA: I don't check it that often.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: That was one of the light moments of the debate.

Here's how you scored it, a CNN/ORC poll of registered voters who watch the debate -- giving the decision to President Obama by a 46 percent to 39 percent margin.

SAMBOLIN: In other news this morning, a pharmaceutical company that has been linked to a deadly outbreak of meningitis is now the target of a federal criminal investigation after agents from the Department of Justice and the FDA raided the New England Compounding Center armed with a search warrant in hand. So far, 15 people have died from a non-contagious form of meningitis, associated with a contaminated steroid produced by that company.

BERMAN: A company that makes batteries for electric cars which received $249 million in federal funding has filed for bankruptcy protection. A123 Systems was unable to make a debt payment. It's more ammunition for critics to say the Obama administration should not be offering federal money to start-up companies in the alternative energy industry.

SAMBOLIN: Overseas, markets are up across the board this morning following a rally Tuesday on Wall Street. Strong, corporate earnings boosted the confidence of investors. The Dow Jones jumped more than 127 points. The NASDAQ rose 37 percent, an increase of more than 1 percent. And the S&P 500 was up nearly 15 points.

BERMAN: There was other big news last night. The Detroit Tigers now just one win away from the World Series. A beat up on the New York Yankees 2-1 behind their ace Justin Verlander. The Tigers lead the American League Championship Series three games to none. They can sweep the game for a win tomorrow night.

Now, name the only baseball team to come back from an 0-3 deficit, name it.

SAMBOLIN: I don't know.

BERMAN: It's the Boston Red Sox.

SAMBOLIN: Of course it is. And when was the last time they won the World Series?

BERMAN: 2007. When was the last time the White Sox did?



SAMBOLIN: 2005. All right. So, you beat me on that one.

All right, 5:22. It will be Beyonce on NFL's biggest stage. She's reportedly headline the Super Bowl halftime show. That will be fun. Beyonce posting a photo on her Web site sporting eye black that reads February 3rd, 2013, the date of the Super Bowl 47 in New Orleans. An official announcement from the NFL is expected today. And a much different debate this time around, the sharper tone with a lot more tension. So who won? The results of our CNN poll and we have a lot more highlights as well coming up.

BERMAN: And if you're leaving the house right now, watch us any time -- any time at all on your desk top and mobile phone. Just go to



OBAMA: I can deliver, Governor, a whole bunch of Democrats to get comprehensive immigration reform done. And we can't --

ROMNEY: I'll get it done in first year.

No, no, no, how much did you cut --


SAMBOLIN: Debate fact check. Mitt Romney saying President Obama did not deliver on immigration reform.

BERMAN: We'll look at the reality on the board ahead on the special post-debate EARLY START.


ROMNEY: I went to a number of women's groups and said can you help us find folks and they brought us whole binders full of women.


BERMAN: Binders is the big buzz word of this debate. We'll take a look at what else from the debate is trending on the Web this morning.

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

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is 27 minutes past the hour.

Two presidential debates down, one to go now. With President Obama turning in a decidedly stronger performance against Mitt Romney during last night's town hall. And the viewers agree, with CNN's post-debate poll showing the president taking the top spot over Romney 46 to 39. And compare that with the first presidential debate that put Romney over Obama, a whopping 67 to 25.

BERMAN: We'll be bringing you up to the minute analysis all morning and looking ahead to the third and final debate, which is next week. That will be the last chance the candidates have to make their cases to the American electorate.

With us now to talk about all of this is CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro, Richard Socarides is a former senior adviser to Bill Clinton and a writer at, also, CNN contributor Roland Martin, the host of "Washington Watch" on TV One, and senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash from CNN.

Our first question, obviously, a much different debate than the first one. President Obama, did he do what he had to do? Richard?

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: I think it was a great night and a great debate. It was obviously a great night for the president who made a strong defense of what he's been trying to do. And most importantly, he demonstrated that the Romney -- that voters should not trust the Romney plan because it does not add up.

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think it was a very good night for President Obama. He stopped the bleeding and brought in his a- game. I thought it was a good night for Mitt Romney. But it was a much better night for President Obama and part of it is because he was being compared to Obama in the first debate. And because also there were much lower expectations this time on President Obama than there has been in the first debate.

BERMAN: A CNN post debate poll showed President Obama exceed expectations, 73 percent said he did better than expected, 37 percent say Romney did.

Does that make a difference, Roland?

ROLAND MARTIN, HOST, "WASHINGTON WATCH WITH ROLAND MARTIN": Of course, it makes a difference. You saw the polling data after the first debate, even in California where Mitt Romney picked up eight various points in the polls. So, the president needed this particular performance, but also, he needs to show the contrast between his record, as well as Mitt Romney's record. He didn't do it in the first debate.

I also thought body language was also very important. I'm laughing this morning to see these analysts say, oh, the president appeared to be angry. First of all, to be fun is not angry. To be passionate is not angry. To be concise is not angry.

And so there were moments literally when Mitt Romney turned his back to the audience and was trying to put the president - and the president very deftly pretty much looked at him, brushed him off and walked away from him to keep engaging the person who asked the question. That showed a difference with tactic in terms of what did you come here to do. Romney wanted to go on attack with the president, the president said, I'll engage with people questions.

SAMBOLIN: We talked a lot about format here because this was a different type of format, a town hall format. A lot of people thought this was better suited for President Obama. How do you think, Ana, that Mitt Romney goes in this type of format?

NAVARRO: You know, I think he made a mistake, and I think he made a mistake because he tried to play moderator way too much. He has a tendency to do this and it looks awkward. You know, he was trying to do two things. First, he was trying to enforce the rules himself. And then he took on the job of asking President Obama the questions directly. And when that happens, you give President Obama a second shot at responding. And I think it's part of the reason that President Obama got four more minutes of time to respond than Mitt Romney did during the entire debate. So I wish he'd stick to debating and not to moderating.

SAMBOLIN: I see Roland over there --

BASH: I was just going to say it's interesting because talking to Romney before this debate, I was told they really did focus a lot in prep on the style and format knowing that every move he makes is going to be judged vis-a-vis where the president is, the facial expression that he makes, vis-a-vis the voter, and it really didn't come across as if he practiced it. Or the flip side of that is he did practice it and they have just decided this is completely about getting the base out and the base wants to see an aggressive Mitt Romney just like the Democratic base wants to see the same from Obama.

SOCARIDES: What was interesting was there two moments where - the moment where he mistook the terror moment, the Libya moment, was an amazing moment, which he had to have practiced and then he got wrong.

BERMAN: Let's play that, Richard. Because you bring that up now. This was a huge moment in this debate, one people talked about all night and immediately after. Let's play that right now. This deals with the attack on the consulate in Benghazi and how President Obama responded to it. Let's listen.


OBAMA: The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and told the American people and the world we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror. And I also said we are going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi a terror attack.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: He did, in fact, sir. Let me call it an act of terror.

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror.


BERMAN: What you actually don't even see there is Mitt Romney flat- out saying, "I want to check the record here. He called it an act of terror? He called it an act of terror?" Clearly Romney actually I don't think knew that Obama said.

MARTIN: But I think even more important than that, I think, in terms of equal bases - it was interesting. When you saw the president turn to him, when he made it clear, I am the president. And in many was you saw the president lecturing Romney, this is how a president responds. And then he stops and simply turns and walks away and goes back to his seat. I mean, Romney is sitting through going, I just got put in check by the president. It was an amazing moment.

SAMBOLIN: How do you explain it?

NAVARRO: I think the president had a very good, solid, succinct answer. I think he took ownership of indignation and went on the offensive first. I was disappointed by the response from Romney. I thought, you know, we knew this was going to come up. I think he flubbed it. He could have gone on the offensive big time. President Obama's vulnerable on this but Mitt Romney did not exploit it.

SOCARIDES: Well, the president was obviously very prepared that answer. And to Dana's point, Mitt Romney had to know that that was going to come up. That was the most important -- they were all eating (ph) that all day.

MARTIN: It was a gimmick for Romney.

BASH: It was a gimmick for Romney and I talked to some Romney advisers involved in the prep right afterwards who were trying to defend the broader message. They said, if you heard the first answer he gave, he did talk about what they wanted him to talk about - about the fact that there was no protest, about the fact that the intelligence was it different, was it not? That the security was not bad. But all of that got lost in the whole fight over whether or not the president did or didn't say something in the Rose Garden.

SAMBOLIN: Well, there were a lot of those moments last night. I want to play some more. "The New York Times" headline called it the "Bare- Fist Rematch," so let's take a look at some of the most fiery moments.


ROMNEY: How much did you cut licenses and permits on federal land and federal waters?

OBAMA: Governor Romney, here's what we did. There were a whole bunch of oil companies --

ROMNEY: No, I had a question and the question was how much did you cut them by?

OBAMA: You want me to answer a question, I'm happy to answer the question.

ROMNEY: All right, and it is?

OBAMA: Here's what happened.

ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: You know, I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours so it doesn't take as long.

ROMNEY: Let me give you some advice.

OBAMA: I don't check it that often.


SAMBOLIN: So Dana just said, I thought they were going to start a fight. I mean it really was very contentious at times. So who does this hurt, who does it help? You were talking about the likability, the likability numbers earlier, did this fighting favor one candidate over the other?

MARTIN: First of all, this reminded of the 2000 debate, Al Gore and George W. Bush who, all of sudden, there were moments where literally, I remember the reaction of Governor Bush was, like, "Dude, why are you standing right next to me? This close to me?"

And so I thought Romney, who had high unfavorable ratings, I think this may have hurt his likability. Because, to your point, he was pressing so much he never gave himself a chance to come across as being a really likable person. He even wouldn't even answer several of the questions the audience was asking. The AK-47 question, he goes - talking about AK-47s in America and he's talking about Mexico. And I get Fast and Furious, but I'm sure that woman saying, I'm sorry, can you please get back to my question.

NAVARRO: There were also questions that President Obama didn't answer. He got asked very specifically who is responsible for denying the request for additional security in Benghazi? And I didn't hear an answer to that.


NAVARRO: I think President Obama got some funny shots in. I think he got the last lines in and I think that was helpful to him, but I think they both came across as fairly likable - or dislikable.

SOCARIDES: Can I just say, also, that the most important moment was right at the very end, when Mitt Romney incredibly brings up the 47 percent by making that reference to 100 percent and then knowing President Obama would have the last word, President Obama just went in and I mean he gave at the end of it the most beautiful, succinct, crisp answer, which was a defense of why he's entitled to a second term, referencing that 47 percent. The Democrats were pretty happy.

BERMAN: I want to bring up one last thing we haven't had a chance to talk about. You talked about the humor, because a lot has been said since the debate of Mitt Romney's binders. We heard Dana speak earlier, he was talking about his efforts to get women more involved in the companies he worked in. And he said something which I think raised some eyebrows. I think we should listen to that here.


ROMNEY: And I said, well, gosh, can't we find some women that are also qualified? And so we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said can you help us find folks? And I brought us all binders full of women.


SAMBOLIN: The women here have been talking about this quite a bit this morning.

NAVARRO: Let's just be clear. It's not mail order brides. They're people applying for jobs.

MARTIN: But the question was, equal pay for women. And the issue is, sure, you can hire a woman but are you going to pay the woman a fair wage? And the president was effective about making it clear this not a women's issue, it's a family issue, and men should also be outraged. Look, I have a wife, I have nine nieces, and I want my nine nieces to be able to make amount the same amount of money. Romney would not answer the question. And if you're a woman sitting there saying, fine, give me a job, but are you going to pay me less?

NAVARRO: I'll tell you something, both the answers -- I don't know about you two ladies - but had me a little bit with my eyes rolling to the back of my head. I counted the word "woman" 18 times in that Romney answer. I counted something like 12 times when it was Obama's turn to respond. Had it been the word for a drinking game, we'd all have died of alcohol poisoning last night.

MARTIN: Except for those of us that don't drink.

BERMAN: Richard's got the last word.

SOCARIDE: Well, that answer is and amazing example of why these debates are important. Because here Governor Romney thought he was giving an answer that would be helpful to him but, in fact, by telling the story of his history with trying to hire women and so forth, you know, really kind of showed the approach he and his team have on these things, that they somehow have to make a special effort to find qualified women because they're not plain in sight. I mean that's what I thought was amazing.

NAVARRO: Did either of you two feel he - it was a response that had some pandering in it?

SAMBOLIN: Well, I felt there was no response. What he was asked about specifically was equal pay and legislation and he never answered that question. So it left you wanting a real answer, I think, at the end of the day.

BERMAN: Richard Socarides, Ana Navarro, Dana Bash, Roland Martin, we're all here. Great to have you guys, a great discussion. We're going to talk a lot more about this.

MARTIN: It's like "Animal House".

BERMAN: A lot like "Animal House".

Now, this topic did not come up at all at the debate last night, but Latino voters finally got to hear about immigration this time around. Didn't come up in the other debate session, but it did come up with time. What did the candidates say? We will fact-check them coming up.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It was fight night on Long Island with President Obama and Mitt Romney sparring on a whole host of issues, including this time, for the first time, illegal immigration. On that subject, CNN's Tom Foreman has our debate reality check.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Republicans have been going after President Obama for months saying he's not engaged in the issue of illegal immigration. Listen to how Mitt Romney attacked him and how the president responded.

ROMNEY: Why did he fail to even promote legislation that would have provided an answer for those that want to come here illegally and for those that are here illegally today?

OBAMA: We put more border control on any time in history and the flow of undocumented workers across the border is actually lower than it has been in 40 years.

FOREMAN: This basic claim that President Obama produced no immigration reform goes hand and glove with the bigger Republican narrative, which is that the president has been so concerned about getting Latino votes, he hasn't wanted to secure the border, he hasn't wanted to deal with illegal immigration. Republicans like to point to figures like this from Homeland Security showing how many people have been arrested for being in the country illegally.

Look ,back in 2000, 1.8 million. That's a lot that. It meanders around through the Bush years. But then when you get to the Obama years, down here, it drops pretty steadily down. That's evidence, they say, he doesn't want to engage the issue. But there's more to that story.

Let's look at another graphic over here: deportations. What's happened to the people who have been arrested? Those were pretty low in 2000 and they started steadily moving up. And in the Obama years, look, they reached the highest level we've seen under any president. President Obama embraced the policies of George Bush when it came to securing the border down there and he continued a program to increase funding to put more guards down there, to put more motion detectors and cameras, more drones and helicopters, more airplanes. So many, so that now we also have the help of an economic change, where there aren't so many jobs here that are attractive, the Pew Hispanic Center says the net illegal immigration is about zero.

So President Obama can say he really did something on that front.

On the more narrow question, though, the idea that he promised comprehensive immigration reform, Mitt Romney is correct. He did not deliver. That is true. The president did push the DREAM Act at one point, he came through with some administration action to protect the children of people who came here illegally, but in terms of the bigger package, he says that's something he'll have to deal with in a second administration if he's re-elected.


BERMAN: All right, our thanks to CNN's Tom Foreman, who's got a cool virtual reality room to lay these kinds of things out.

SAMBOLIN: It'd be nice to see behind the scenes, give us a little tour of that.

BERMAN: I did see it. It was really neat.

SAMBOLIN: All right, 45 minutes past the hour. Younger voters tuning in last night to hear about college loans, well, they weren't disappointed either. The candidates went head-to-head over Pell Grants, the president saying more students are getting them since he took office, so what are we doing? We are checking the facts for you. That is coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. Welcome back to EARLY START. Christine Romans is back with us fact-checking the points made about the economy and also education in the debate.

BERMAN: Hey Christine, there was a lot of talk last night about student loans and Pell Grants.

ROMANS: Right, and opportunities after you take on all of that debt. Let's listen very clearly to the president said about opportunities via Pell Grants.


OBAMA: Earlier Governor Romney talked about he wants to make Pell Grants and other education accessible for young people. Well, the truth of the matter is that's exactly what we have done. We have expanded Pell Grants for millions of people, including millions of young women, all across the country.


ROMANS: In fact, the president over the past few years, the administration, have sort of remade the student loan business and they have expanded both the size and the number of Pell Grants available. So the verdict here is true. Pell Grants expanded for millions.

Take a look at how many people -- by the year 2010-2011 school year, you had 9.3 million people receiving Pell Grants. And the size of the Pell Grant has also been raised from an average of $2,971 in the 2008- 2009 school year to $3,833 now.

But what does Governor Romney want to do about Pell Grants? Listen to his bite.


ROMNEY: I want to make sure we keep the Pell Grant program growing. We're also going to have our loan program so that people are able to afford school.


ROMANS: So he has until now been pretty consistent in saying, and also the Ryan budget, by the way, has cuts for things like this or has cuts for education across the board. So that's new to me. "I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing." That is a new - that's news from Governor Romney.

BERMAN: And his education plan does not include growth for Pell Grants. That was a new statement.

ROMANS: And some conservatives, by the way, say that all of this money available for federal backstopping of education just drives up tuition anyway. So there's that context around this debate as well.

SAMBOLIN: All right, thank you, Christine.

So Big Bird nowhere to be found this time around, apparently. The buzz words last night, "binders of women". That and more trending topics from the debate, coming up.


SAMBOLIN: It is 55 minutes past the hour. Just as important as the debate itself is the reaction from the American public on social media. Last night's event generated over 7.2 million tweets during the course of the 90 minute debate, with a peak of about 110,000 tweets per minute. Can you believe it?

So here to break down those numbers is Adam Sharp, Head of Government, News and Social Innovation on Twitter. So the sheer volume, 7.2 million tweets throughout the 90-minute debate, how does that compare to the last debate?

ADAM SHARP, TWITTER, HEAD OF GOV'T, NEWS &SOCIAL INNOVATION: It's a little bit less. When we were in Denver two weeks ago, it was 10.3 million tweets for the night. But if you look back to just four years ago in 2008, the four debates combined totaled only half a million tweets.

SAMBOLIN: And you are able to break down the 7.2 million tweets into topics, so what are those topics? What were people discussing the most?

SHARP: Well, we break this down in two ways. We look at various key words and we saw that the most tweeted topic was, no surprise, the economy, followed by taxes, foreign policy and then it started to drop off a little bit more from there. But we also could see particular moments of the night people were reacting to. Most tweeted moment, you mentioned, 110,000 tweets per minute during the immigration conversation, Mitt Romney stumbled over an audience member's name. Second highest peak of the night, just slightly below that, the president making his comment, "My pension isn't as big as yours." But the top five also included discussions of gun control, taxes and equal pay for women.

SAMBOLIN: And you were comparing this, when we were off-camera, to the Olympics and the amount of tweeting going on there. Could you put that in perspective for us?

SHARP: Well, the most tweeted sporting moment of the Olympics was 80,000 tweets per minute during Usain Bolt's final run. Biggest tweeted moment of the overall Olympics was the closing ceremonies at about the same level of the peak we saw last night, but of course the Olympics are more of a global event. This, domestic politics. So truly large numbers we're seeing.

SAMBOLIN: No kidding. All right, so Romney's binder remark became a big buzzword. Did you follow that as well?

SHARP: Yes, in fact, before the end of the debate there'd been tens of thousands of tweets about the binder remark. Someone had even created a parody account, @RomneysBinder that had picked up 30,000 followers before the debate even ended. This is similar to what we saw during the Republican Convention in Tampa where, following Clint Eastwood's speech, we saw the account called @InvisibleObama, referring to that empty chair, that had 50,000 followers before the end of the night.

And so what we're seeing is these satirical responses, the back and forth between candidates that you'd normally see in the spin room after the debate or playing out over a day-long news cycle, are now happening in real time. And you can get closer to them and watch them yourself.

SAMBOLIN: What about during the vice presidential debate with the word "malarkey"? How does that compare to that? And the Big Bird moment also that happened.

SHARP: Big Bird was one of the top five moments of the prior debate. Malarkey definitely saw a lot of traffic during the VP debate. The VP debate overall about half the traffic of what we saw last night. What was interesting there, talking about that change of the news cycle -- within minutes of Joe Biden saying the word "malarkey", the Obama campaign was already running campaign ads based on the word "malarkey".

So you're seeing these things play out real time, not waiting for the pundits to hit the airwaves afterwards. And for viewers at home, it allows you to get closer to the event, get closer to the candidates and the issues in real time.

SAMBOLIN: But that is just mind boggling, the sheer volume. We really appreciate it. Adam Sharp, Head of Government, News and Social Innovation. Thank you for coming in early this morning. John, back to you. BERMAN: a Romney campaign photo-op turns into a political punchline. Here's Jon Stewart's take on Paul Ryan's visit to a soup kitchen gone wrong.


JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Controversy again on the campaign trail. Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan at a campaign stop in Georgia -- I'm kidding, he was in Ohio. Is there another state other than (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Ohio? Not in October, there isn't!

Ryan, seen here in photos he for some reason signed a release for, or perhaps these are outtakes from his "Real World" audition tape. Anywho, Ryan was campaigning in Ohio when he decided to volunteer at a homeless shelter. One little problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to the charity's president, the candidate was washing pans that were already clean. They can't be cleaned. And only after all the patrons had left the place.

STEWART: Do you know how hard it is to make volunteering at a homeless shelter look like a negative thing? So apparently Ryan did wash dishes but dishes set aside and left unclean specifically so they could take pictures of pictures of him selflessly washing them so we, because we're so (EXPLETIVE DELETED) dumb, believe that he'd been caught in the act of volunteering.

Later, food was withheld from nursing home patients so that Ryan could arrive and reanimate them - through the magic of applesauce.