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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Obama and Romney Trade Punch Lines; Celebration in Motown; Hillary Clinton: No 2016 Presidential Bid; Boy Scout "Perversion Files" Released

Aired October 19, 2012 - 05:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I went shopping at some stores in midtown. I understand Governor Romney went shopping for some stores in midtown.

(LAUGHTER)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It's nice to finally relax and to wear what Ann and I wear around the house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to start your day off right with some laughs. It was comic relief on the campaign trail. President Obama and Mitt Romney roasting each other and themselves.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Running for her life, a store clerk's desperate escape and the danger that still exists.

SAMBOLIN: And celebration in Motown. The Tigers sweep their way into the World Series. Big question is who will they play? Whatever. Go ahead and cheer.

BERMAN: I'm cheering. Yankees go down. It's a great morning.

SAMBOLIN: No, it is not.

Good morning. Did you hear the boos in the background? I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: It's great morning. I'm John Berman. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We're going to begin with politics, because up first, Mitt Romney and the president are trading punch lines instead of insult, at least for a night. The candidates were all smiles last night at the Al Smith Charity Dinner in New York. There were plenty of zingers, most of them good natured, a little more pointed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: As President Obama surveys the Waldorf banquet room, you have to wonder what he's thinking -- so little time, so much to redistribute.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: After my foreign trip in 2008, I was attacked as a celebrity because I was so popular with our allies overseas. And I have to say I'm impressed with how well Governor Romney has avoided that problem.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So, CNN political director Mark Preston joins me live now from New York.

Mark, I've covered a few of these things. It's like the twilight zone because for a month, these guys are on the trail beating up each other. Then they get in the same room, they're all laughs, patting each other on the back. It's an interesting atmosphere, no?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: No, it's an interesting atmosphere, John. And, you know, y have to wonder that between the smiles and the handshakes, and the pats on the back, there's still a lot of venom and animosity that still remains between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

Look, this has been a difficult campaign. We're in the home stretch right now. But it's nice to have a dinner like this where you can shelf politics for a little while, even when you are trying to make a political point. In fact, we saw that last night. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Of course, the economy is on everybody's minds. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level since I took office. I don't have a joke here. I just thought it would be useful to remind everybody that the unemployment rate is at the lowest it's been since I took office.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And don't be surprised if the president mentions this evening the monthly jobs report where there was a slight improvement in the numbers. He knows how to seize the moment, this president, and already has a compelling new campaign slogan. You're better off now than you were four weeks ago.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESTON: I'll tell you what, John? You know, it would be interesting and certainly better for the country if we could have more bipartisanship, have more of these dinners perhaps where these lawmakers could get together, maybe get some things finished and completed, especially here in D.C. BERMAN: Mark, they really do seem to genuinely enjoy it. The candidates do. That's the other thing.

I should say, there was other comedy yesterday. President Obama stopped by "The Daily Show" earlier in the night. But it really wasn't all laughs.

PRESTON: No, it isn't. Jon Stewart, you know, sure he's on Comedy Central, but a lot of people go there for the news, specifically younger people. Jon Stewart isn't always making jokes. He does ask very pointed questions.

In fact, let's listen to this exchange about the controversy that is still swirling around the Obama administration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": I would say even you would admit, it was not the optimal response, at least to the American people, as far as us all being on the same page.

OBAMA: Here's what I'll say.

STEWART: Yes.

OBAMA: If four Americans get killed, it's not optimal.

STEWART: Right.

OBAMA: We're going to fix it.

STEWART: All of it.

OBAMA: All of it.

And what happens during the course of a presidency is that the government is a big operation. At any given time, something screws up and you make sure that you find out what's broken and you fix it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESTON: And you have the president talking about the Benghazi situation, John. You know, at this point, who would have thought we'd be talking about foreign policy in regards to the presidential campaign, but it has become part of the narrative -- John.

BERMAN: Of course, foreign policy will be the subject of the debate Monday night in Florida.

There was big news in Florida overnight. "The Orlando Sentinel", a key newspaper and a key part of that state, endorsing Mitt Romney, which was a switch from 2008 when they supported Barack Obama. Why the change of heart, do you think?

PRESTON: Well, you know, John, you know, it all comes down to the economy. "The Orlando Sentinel," which is situated right in the middle of the state. We all know where it's Disneyworld is. But you're right, it's an important part of the state. The I-4 corridor, stretches from Tampa, all the way across the state, up to Daytona Beach. They said it came down to the economy.

Let's just show a little bit of what the editorial had to say and why the editorial page has chosen Mitt Romney. "Romney has a strong record of leadership to run on. He built a successful business. He rescued the 2012 Winter Olympics. As governor of Massachusetts, he worked with a Democrat-dominated legislature to close a $3 billion budget deficit and pass the health care plan that became a national model. This is Romney's time to lead, again."

"The Orlando Sentinel" endorsing Mitt Romney for president -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Mark Preston, live in Washington.

It wasn't all bad news for the president. He had a couple good polls in some key swing states. We'll be talking about that in our next half hour with Richard Socarides, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, and CNN contributor Erick Erickson, who is the editor-in- chief of RedState.com.

As we said, the gloves come off again this Monday night when Mitt Romney and the president tangle in the third and final presidential debate. CNN's live coverage begins from Boca Raton, Florida, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

SAMBOLIN: Federal health officials say a batch of steroids was definitely tainted with a deadly fungus. This is the first official confirmation linking the back pain shots with the deadly meningitis outbreak. It has left 20 people dead. It has infected more than 250 people in 16 states. The FDA is testing two more batches of the drug.

BERMAN: Attorneys have forced the release of the Boy Scouts so-called perversion files and want Congress to investigate whether the organization is doing enough now to protect kids. The confidential documents identify 1,200 known or suspected child sexual abusers who served in the scouts between 1965 and 1985.

The head of the Boy Scouts is expressing his regret.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE PERRY, PRESIDENT, BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA: There's no question that there are times in the past, and these go back to 40, 50 years old, where we did not do the job we should have. For that, we're profoundly sorry. I'm convinced that this organization has a firm and everlasting deep commitment to youth protection.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Today, the scouts require background checks on all volunteers.

SAMBOLIN: Victory for a Texas high school cheerleading squad. A judge temporarily ruled they can continue to hoist banners that display Christian Bible verses at football games. He set a trial date next June to settle this dispute. The local school district banned the banners after receiving a complaint. But the cheerleaders sued claiming their free speech rights were violated.

BERMAN: The Detroit Tigers now on their way to the World Series. The Tigers finished off the Yankees in four straight games. We call that a sweep. The Tigers took the American League pennant. They slugged four home runs, clinching an 8-1 victory.

Detroit's designated hitter, Delmon Young, was named the series MVP. This is the 11th American League pennant in franchise for the Tigers, their first trip since 2006.

SAMBOLIN: So, the Tigers now await the winner of the NLCS. The St. Louis Cardinals have take an commanding 3-1 lead. They won game four last night, 8-3, pushing the San Francisco Giants to the brink. The Cards can punch their ticket to the World Series with a win tonight in game five.

BERMAN: If they do, that would be a rematch of the 2006 World Series which the Cardinals won.

SAMBOLIN: How exciting.

BERMAN: The Tigers won big.

SAMBOLIN: They did. Good for them.

It's hard to imagine, but Hillary Clinton says she's actually done with politics. She said that before, right? Find out exactly what she said, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Eleven minutes past the hour.

Remember the old saying, ask a direct question, get a direct answer.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked once again if she is running for president in 2016. Her answer was direct and specific. Quote, "I am not." She said she is done with politics.

CNN foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott is in Washington with more on Clinton's interview with "Marie Claire" magazine. Good morning to you, Elise.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Good morning, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning. I know you've talked to Hillary Clinton about this specifically. She said she's not running. Why does she say she's quitting politics?

LABOTT: Well, Zoraida, the simple answer is that she's tired. I mean, I'm tired traveling with her.

You have no idea, Zoraida. These last 3 1/2 years, the pace, traveling around the world, working all hours of the night is really exhausting and the traveling press corps that is with her doesn't know how she does it. She seems like the ever ready bunny.

She told "Marie Claire", "I've been on this high wire of national and international politics and leadership for 20 years. It's been an absolutely extraordinary personal honor and experience, but I really want to have my own time back. I just want to be my own person. I'm looking forward to that."

And, Zoraida, I just interviewed the secretary earlier this week and she said the same thing. A lot of people are always talking about, oh, is this going to hurt -- you know, with all this stuff about the Benghazi attack for instance, is this going to hurt her chances for 2016? She says nobody should be thinking about that. I'm done for now.

But nobody really believes her, of course.

SAMBOLIN: Well, that's the problem, because a lot of people are actually hoping that she runs for president in 2016. Her husband Bill Clinton has said he doesn't know whether or not she may be open to that.

LABOTT: That's right. I mean, recently, you know, President Clinton has been on the stump for President Obama, and he's always asked about Secretary Clinton.

SAMBOLIN: And the spouse should know.

LABOTT: That's right. Take a listen to what he said recently the last time he was asked about Secretary Clinton's chances of running in 2016.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: She's tired. She's really worked hard. I think she's done a fabulous job. I'm very proud of her. But she wants to take some time off, kind of regroup, write a book. So I think we ought to give her a chance to organize her life and decide what she wants to do. I just don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: And, Zoraida -- I mean, of course nobody really wants to take no for an answer, certainly not her supporters. And some of them have told me if she said she was running, we would drop everything in a moment and help her. But she says for now, she needs a break.

SAMBOLIN: All right. You mentioned Libya a little while ago. You've been following Clinton. You've also been covering the attack in Libya very closely for us.

And, today, "Reuters" has published an interview with a Libyan Islamist, a militia commander who is being investigated for participating in the consulate attack. What is he saying? LABOTT: And he also gave an interview to "The New York Times." We're talking about this guy named Ahmed Abu Khattala. He's believed to be a member of the extremist group Ansar al Sharia, which is believed to be linked to al Qaeda.

He told these news organizations not only is he not a member of this group, he said he was there that night, on the night that the consulate was attacked, but that he was not the ring leader. Kind of throwing a little bit of uncertainty into this whole question about whether this started as a spontaneous protest or not.

He seems to believe that this sparked from this video of the Prophet Muhammad that has gotten so much anger in the world and had these attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates. You know, there was this back and forth with the administration about whether it started. He says, yes, this was about the protest, a lot of anger towards America.

And, you know, Zoraida, he's out in plain sight. The U.S. and Libyans say they're looking for him, but he's in plain sight saying, you can't get me. He has a lot to say in these interviews.

SAMBOLIN: Rather taunting. Thank you so much, Elise, live in Washington for us.

BERMAN: It is now 15 minutes after the hour.

A lot of news this morning. We want to get up to speed with the headlines. And here's Christine Romans with that.

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

Eighteen days -- 18 days until America votes. The president is in Virginia this morning for a rally at George Mason University. And he heads to Camp David to prepare for tonight's -- Monday night, rather, third and final presidential debate.

Romney is spending the day in New York, also prepping for Monday's debate. Then he heads to Daytona Beach, Florida, tonight, where running mate Paul Ryan will join him.

Last night it was all about the one-liners at the Al Smith Charity dinner in New York. Both candidates getting big laughs at Vice President Biden's expense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I was actually hoping the president would bring Joe Biden along this evening because he'll laugh at anything.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Some people say, Barack, you're not as young as you used to be. Where's that golden smile? Where's that pep in your step? And I say, "Settle down, Joe, I'm trying to run a Cabinet meeting here."

(LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Joe Biden will be campaigning for the president in Tampa, Florida, this morning. Not in white tie today.

Lance Armstrong expected to speak publicly for the first time since the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released more than 1,000 pages of evidence, evidence that he used performance enhancing drugs.

Armstrong will be part of the Livestrong 15th anniversary event in Austin tonight, even though he's stepped down as chairman of the charity that bears his name, that he started. Several huge sponsors also dumping (ph) this week, including Nike. But Nike says it will still continue to support Livestrong.

A frightening scene in Portland, Maine. A store clerk bolts over a wall running for her life. The man chasing her is wearing a mask. He's holding a gun in his right hand. This incident was caught on the store's surveillance system. Fortunately, she was not hurt. But you guys, p are still searching for the gunman. That story is not over.

BERMAN: Oh, my goodness.

SAMBOLIN: Lucky she got away there, though.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

BERMAN: All right. It is 17 minutes after the hour. Time for early reads, your local news making headlines.

First, the Federal Trade Commission wants to hear from you. Just don't call them at dinner time. In "The Washington Post," the FTC is offering $50,000 to the person who comes up with the best technical solution to block illegal and very annoying robo-calling.

SAMBOLIN: Boy, they're serious, aren't they?

BERMAN: If a person does not have a phone number on the do not call list, commercial robocalls are still illegal, but they are hard to stop. They're cheap, very hard to trace, and millions can be blasted out in a matter of hours.

SAMBOLIN: I hope they come up with a solution.

BERMAN: Absolutely. Fifty grand.

SAMBOLIN: And from "The North Country Times," we've come to a fork in the road. Look at this, right at the fork in the road at Levante Street and Anillo Way. This is in Carlsbad, California.

There is, as you can see, folks, literally a six-foot high fork in the road. No one knows who put it there either. It is stopping traffic, not because people are having trouble making a decision, but because they're stopping and taking pictures. The town has since removed the fork. So in the middle of the night, some artist goes and says, this is a great idea. Let's put a fork in the road.

BERMAN: It's like the worst pun ever. Congratulations to the worst pun ever.

Coming up, new rules for your 401(k). How they could help you save even more for your retirement.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: We're minding your business this morning. U.S. stock trading slightly lower and markets closed lower yesterday.

SAMBOLIN: The tech sector took a hit yesterday after some surprising news from Google. What happened?

ROMANS: Well, Google's earnings report came out early, some kind of a technical glitch. So, what was going to be filed at the SEC was filed early, and even was filed with a little section that said "pending Larry quote." That's where they were going to put in a quote from the CEO about the quarter.

So the surprise it came out early and the surprise it wasn't as good as Wall Street expected, and a disappointing quarter. Two surprises wrapped up in one. And the stock, surprise for investors, dropped 8 percent on Thursday.

Tech stocks have not had a great run so far this quarter. A lot of the big tech companies has just not have this robust sales and earnings as they have been in past quarters. And so, you saw Google down here yesterday.

Now, your 401(k) contribution limit, the IRS with new good lines, raising the limit again. You can suck more money pre-tax away in your 401(k).

BERMAN: Eat the rich.

ROMANS: Well, look, if you're working and you're doing these automatic deductions, you can put more away, up to $17,500. That's up -- three years in a row now, they've been raising these limits.

Also raising the bar on tax-free gifts for next year. So everyone page your rich aunts and uncles because now up to $14,000 is the tax- free gift limit. No one is giving me $14,000 tax free, but if you know people like this, just so you know, you can let them, Auntie Ruth, know, it's more than $13,000 --

BERMAN: And let us know how to get in contact with them.

ROMANS: Exactly.

BERMAN: Goldman Sachs on the rampage.

ROMANS: Yes. Well, you know, look, Goldman Sachs, I think hitting back might be too hard. But Goldman Sachs letting some details leak about this guy Greg Smith. Remember, he quit Goldman Sachs famously in a "New York Times" op-ed.

Well, now, Goldman -- well, "Bloomberg" has confirmed to us some details, some e-mails about the tenure of Greg Smith at Goldman. This is what they're saying. One of these e-mails says after he asked for a raise and a promotion to managing director, "Greg Smith of the charts unrealistic, thinks he should trade at multiples. We told him there's very little tolerance for that and he needs to tone it down."

That's an internal e-mail Goldman is releasing as part of a draft as an investigation to why this guy left. You might remember what Greg Smith said about Goldman in his op-ed. "It makes me ill how callously people talk about bout ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months, I've seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as muppets, sometimes over internal e-mail." That's just a little bit. It goes on and on and on.

There's a whole book. That's why you're hearing about this again. It comes out on Monday. I've read the first chapter.

It seems like he's trying to make himself into a Michael Lewis, "Liar's Poker", setting it all up. The first chapter was leaked online. He's going to be I think on "60 Minutes." We're going to be hearing more about Greg Smith.

BERMAN: I'm sure you'll be hearing more from Goldman as well.

ROMANS: But they've struggled with how to respond. Do you just ignore this guy? Because he wasn't even a managing director. There's thousands of vice presidents like him. Or do you respond vigorously saying he really wasn't an overachiever? You know, how do you respond if you're Goldman?

BERMAN: They're going option B. Thank you, Christine Romans.

Twenty-five minutes after the hour. Coming up: a near blackout that had nothing to do with the lights and everything to do with the weather. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: In the spirit of "Sesame Street," the president's remarks tonight are brought to you by the letter "O" and the number 16 trillion.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: The employment rate at its lowest level since I took office. I don't have a joke here. I just thought it would be useful to remind everybody.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Last night, it was all about the laughs. The candidates put the campaign aside in the name of comedy, but it's a different story this morning.

SAMBOLIN: Hackers attacking big banks. Who's behind it, and is your money safe?

BERMAN: And the forecast for winter, warmer than average or colder than normal? I think it's one of them. That depends where you live.

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

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Glad to have you with us this morning. Thirty minutes past the hour. So, they've traded attacks on the campaign trail for months now, but for one night only, the candidates for president traded jokes, instead.

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney smiling, shaking hands at the Alfred E. Smith charity dinner in New York City just two nights after they clashed in a fiery second debate. The jabs were a lot more light hearted and a lot funnier this time around.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: As President Obama surveys the Waldorf banquet room with everyone in white tie and finery, you have to wonder what he's thinking, so little time, so much to redistribute.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: After my foreign trip in 2008, I was attacked as a celebrity, because I was so popular with our allies overseas. And I have to say I'm impressed with how well Governor Romney has avoided that problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So joining us to talk about this and other political headlines is CNN contributor, Erick Erickson. He is the editor-in- chief for RedState.com. Nice to see you. And Richard Socarides, Democratic analyst and a former senior adviser to President Clinton.

It was so funny last night, in fact, that I want to play a little more before we actuall start the dialogue. So, let's play these.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMNEY: It's nice to finally relax and wear what Ann and I wear around the house.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: In the spirit of "Sesame Street," the president's remarks tonight are brought to you by the letter "O" and the number 16 trillion.

(LAUGHTER) ROMNEY: I've already seen early reports from tonight's dinner. Headline, "Obama embraced by Catholics, Romney dies with rich people."

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Everyone, please take your seats. Otherwise, Clint Eastwood will yell at them.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Earlier today, I went shopping at some stores in midtown. I understand Governor Romney went shopping for some stores in midtown.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Sometimes, it feels like this race has dragged on forever. But Paul Ryan assured me that we've only been running for two hours and 50-something minutes.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: So, a lot of people thought that it would be really difficult to shake, you know, the effects of that debate the other night. So, Erick, I'm going to start with you. Who was funnier?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, you know, I think they were both hilarious. I don't want to judge these two guys when they were doing something for Al Smith. They both were very self-deprecating. It was funny to watch them both poke fun at themselves and at each other while they're sitting right there.

I actually watched it last night. I had some friends over for dinner, and we watched them and we were just laughing at both of them very hysterically. It was funny that the republicans in the room last night were like, where has this Mitt Romney been the entire time? He was so much more at ease. Maybe he's right, the white tie put him at ease.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, DEMOCRATIC ANALYST: Yes, you know, I, too, thought they were both very funny. That line about embraced by Catholics is very funny. You know, some of the more subtle stuff. I think that --

SAMBOLIN: Were you surprised they were able to put away that contentious side that they have --

SOCARIDES: Well, I mean, you know, I think they put it away, but don't discount it. Right. I mean, they are still, you know, right in the middle of this and still quite angry with each other. I mean, it looked pretty good for one night, but I think they're both putting on a smile.

SAMBOLIN: It was nice that they put it aside for charity as Erick mentioned.

SOCARIDES: It was right below the surface, though.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Yes. All right. So, Erick, President Obama also appeared on "The Daily Show" last night, and he spoke about the Libya response. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OBAMA: We weren't confused about the fact that four Americans had been killed.

STEWART: Sure.

OBAMA: I wasn't confused about the fact that we needed to ramp up diplomatic security around the world right after it happened.

STEWART: I would say even you would admit it was not the optimal response, at least, to the American people as far as us all being on the same page.

OBAMA: Well, here's what I'll say.

STEWART: Yes.

OBAMA: If four Americans get killed, it's not optimal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: So, Jon Stewart had used the word "optimal" before the president did, but did you take issue with that remark. Why?

ERICKSON: Well, you know, I did when it first came out on the poor report. I didn't realize at the time the poor report didn't say that Jon Stewart had said "not optimal." So, you know, I think the Democrats tried to drag the binders full of women comment as a little bit shallow at this point at the campaign.

And I don't think Republicans need to dwell on "not optimal." It plays to a Republican base still upset with the president for referring to it initially as bumps in the road. But Jon Stewart did set him up to say that, so I understand why the president did.

SOCARIDES: But it was interesting, right? I mean, that was, I thought, a very interesting, substantive interview where the president spoke directly about what happened there. And I think if some of his, you know, his fullest account so far. So, you know, just goes to tell you that on Jon Stewart, you know, you can make news. It wasn't important (ph) interview I thought.

SAMBOLIN: And Richard, Joe Biden spoke about Romney and Ryan in Vegas yesterday. Let's listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're not bad men. They're decent men. They're good fathers. They're good husbands. But I don't understand how they believe -- and they do believe -- Ryan has written a book called "The Young Guns" with two other fellows -- members of the house. No, these are the Republican leaders in the House. You had -- unfortunately, the bullets are aimed at you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So, Richard, a conservative like, let's say, Sarah Palin, had said that, liberals would be up in arms, wouldn't they?

SOCARIDES: Well, you know, I just think this is the way Joe Biden talks and people know that this is Joe Biden being Joe Biden. So, I wouldn't make too much of this.

SAMBOLIN: Erick?

ERICKSON: You know, he said repeatedly that he says what he means and means what he says. First, it's Republicans are going to put you all back in chains, and now, they've got bullet aimed at you. I think it's unfortunate rhetoric from the vice president to continue to use these sort of violent rhetoric about the GOP. I realize it's Joe Biden, but lord, help us.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Erick Erickson and Richard Socarides, thank you so much for joining us. I know we'll see you again in the six o'clock hour. So, stick around, gentlemen.

BERMAN: Hackers in Russia and Iran have hit major banks in the U.S. again this week. Capital One, BB&T, and HSBC all reported cyber attacks that affected their websites. Computer security experts say it doesn't look like any money or customer information was stolen. Still, this is the fifth straight week of these attacks.

And defense ruled in the NFL's Thursday night football game. The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 13-6. This was a battle for first place in the NFC west. The Niners look good.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-six minutes past the hour. Their secret files released for the entire world to see. Coming up, the Boy Scouts promising big changes after documents detail years of sexual abuse, and they are exposed now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Forty minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START.

Decades of secret Boy Scout documents are now public record. And the organization's so-called perversion files contain stunning revelations about scout masters and volunteers allegedly abusing young boys. CNNs Paul Vercammen looks at some of the disturbing cases and what the boy scouts are saying about them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of the newly released files shows an Indiana scout leader was placed in the banned confidential file in the early 1970s on suspicion of molestation. He took treatment and on the advice the psychiatrist treating him and his minister, he was allegedly cured.

The suspected molester got cleared to lead scouts again. And in 1982, he was accused of molesting two boys on a camping trip. Mr. Blanker (ph) spotted he was guilty and everything was exactly as the boys had indicated. But the boys' parents agreed not to proceed with prosecution, and the scouts never reported the alleged pedophile to police.

WAYNE PERRY, PRESIDENT, BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA: There's no question that there are times in the past, and these go back to 40, 50 years old, where we did not do the job that we should have. And for that, and for people hurt, and for that, we're profoundly sorry. And I am convinced that this organization has a firm and everlasting and deep commitment to youth protection.

VERCAMMEN: The BSA says scouts are now taught to recognize, resist, and report abuse and that two adults be present at all activities preventing one on one situations with leaders and scouts.

(on-camera) The perversion files showed how alleged pedophiles lured single scouts to their homes or remote locations and then molested them. In some cases, there was intimidation.

(voice-over) A scout leader disroped after cornering a boy who was undressing and warned the boy to stay quiet. "What I'm going to do now, if I get arrested after I get out of jail, I'll come after you and your family."

KELLY CLARK, ABUSED SCOUTS' ATTORNEY: We can learn a lot about the way pedophiles operate. It's consistent. It's almost always somebody that's the pied piper.

VERCAMMEN: Clark says pied piper popular scout leaders are rampant in the perversion files. Now, on several legal fronts, including a California appellate court, lawyers for abuse victims are trying to get more names of alleged pedophiles. In some cases, suing to get the 1985 to present Boy Scouts confidential files made public.

And that's not all. Abuse victims lawyers are now calling on Congress to audit whether the Boy Scouts' youth protections are working, an action the BSA says it would welcome.

Paul Vercammen, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: And our thanks to Paul.

It is 42 minutes after the hour right now. And coming up, something wild happens. This is video a lot of people are talking about. A raccoon wanders into the chimp cage. This is video you will not want to miss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Forty-six minutes after the hour right now. I want to get up to date on all the top stories. Here's Christine Romans.

ROMANS: And good morning again, you two.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): For a few moments last night at least, the race for the White House turned down right civilized in white tie no less. President Obama and Mitt Romney sharing the same stage at the Al Smith Charity dinner in New York. The candidates exchanging some in a lighthearted zingers, even taking time to poke fun at themselves.

OBAMA: As some of you may have noticed, I had a lot more energy in our second debate. I felt really well-rested after the nice, long nap I had in the first debate.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: And I've already seen early reports from tonight's dinner. Headline, "Obama embraced by Catholics, Romney dies with rich people."

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: The president is in Virginia his morning for a rally at George Mason University. Rommney is spending the day in New York prepping for Monday's debate. Then, he heads to Daytona Beach, Florida tonight for a rally with running mate, Paul Ryan.

In New York, federal appeals court has struck down the defense of (INAUDIBLE) which denies federal benefits to marry same-sex couples. It's the nation's second court to do so. The court ruled in favor of an 83-year-old lesbian widow. She sued the government when she was denied spousal deductions but was charged hundreds of thousands of dollars in a state taxes.

All right. Check this out. When raccoons fly, yes. Spectators at the St. Louis Zoo, a harsh lesson in the circle of life and the realities of nature when a pack of chimps flung an invading raccoon across their den. Poor racy (ph) tried to make a run for it, was caught by the tail. Despite that, some people are laughing. The raccoon was fine. The raccoon was fine. Don't worry.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: The raccoon was fine. The raccoon was fine.

SAMBOLIN: Why would anybody laugh at that? We were laughing, too.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: We were. Poor raccoon. But the raccoon is OK. So, it's actually a good story. All right. So, let's get to Rob Marciano in Atlanta with details of a dust storm that's left drivers completely blind.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, raccoons are pretty tough and they'd be able -- if they can deal with the monkeys, they certainly can deal with this dust storm. Take a look at the video, guys. Bad transition, I know, but incredible winds across much of the plains yesterday shut down I-35 for a good stretch of real estate and time.

Cops were out there, 20 to 30 wrecks. Some of them dangerous, yes, and even some power was knocked out by this. So, you get dry weather and you get some winds, and that's the result there, and obviously -- especially the western part of Oklahoma, not a lot of trees and hills to block it. But South Dakota, Nebraska, you got winds yesterday over 70 miles an hour.

All in the western side of this large storm that's kind of lumbering across the Great Lakes, the front side of it. We've got some rain that will be on and off, and at times, it will be heavy. So, just kind of a miserably, wet, fall day across the northeast. That is going to cause some travel delays, no doubt about it, from New York back to Chicago.

Here's your upper low. You kind of see it spinning there. Rain showers there will be light, but heavy enough in New York and Philly certainly to cause some delays. If you are traveling today through Boston through Detroit and Charlotte as well.

Temperatures behind this front will be on the chilly side, 54, Chicago, 56 degrees in Minneapolis, 67 in New York. Speaking of chilly, the NOAA forecast for the winter is going to be unveiled in about 20 to 30 minutes. Hint, gather ye firewood. It's coming.

SAMBOLIN: All right. on that romantic note, thank you.

BERMAN: And sorry about the Yankees, Rob. Not really.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Forty-nine minutes after the hour. A packed hour straight ahead on EARLY START, including why the election may be decided down on the farm. We head to dairy country and what may be the biggest swing state, at least, statistically speaking, in the country. And no, it's not Ohio. We'll also get to see Miguel Marquez get up close and personal with a cow.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: America needs to see that. A look at the deciders ahead.

SAMBOLIN: Also, how do you like me now? The story of a man who hit the mega millions days after he was dumped.

BERMAN: Plus, smile, mom, you're on candid camera.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A few weeks ago I was dating this guy, and he talked me into making a sex tape with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my God!

BERMAN: OK. Zoraiad goes one-on-one with Vivica A. Fox to talk about her new show, "Prank My Mom" --

SAMBOLIN: -- hysterical, folks.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: I already do not believe how far they get.

SAMBOLIN: It really is great. You really want to stay tune for that.

But first, are you always the last person to find out what the buzz is all about? Well, boy, do we have a new tool for you. That is next on EARLY START.

BERMAN: Boy!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: This morning, CNN.com is launching the newest edition to its online platform with CNN Trends. The new section of the website tracks the ten most talked about stories from across the web, both from CNN and from a variety of other top news outlets, giving you all sides of the day's biggest stories in one reliable outstanding place.

With us now with all the details on this is Mark Johnson, the CEO of Zite, the mobile magazine app which was recently acquired by CNN and was instrumental in helping us build this technology. So, Mark, walk us through this. CNN Trends is now live. Exactly what is it and how does it work?

MARK JOHNSON, CEO, ZITE: Well, so, what we're going to do is look at what people are talking about during the day. So, the top ten most talked about topics, we're going to anchor that with a CNN story, and then, we're going to look around the web for other interesting articles that will supplement your knowledge of the story.

BERMAN: So obviously, all smart people get most of their news from CNN, but some people do get it from other places, too. How do users influence what you show on the screen?

JOHNSON: Well, we think that the users of CNN are very intelligent. And we want to give them a broad-based perspective of what people are talking about out there. No story can be covered by one single outlet. It's really the conversation that's happening out there. So, we want to show people different perspectives, different ideas, from the right, from the left, from the middle.

So, we're going to show you from blogs, from large news outlets. So, there's going to be a really wide variety of news that you're going to get on CNN friends.

BERMAN: And how do you come up with the list? Is there some complicated algorithm or mad scientist behind a curtain somewhere?

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNSON: Yes. So, we actually read millions of articles a day, so you don't have to. We analyze all of those articles. We figure out, what are the most interesting, what are the most talked about, and then we're going to deliver you the best of those.

BERMAN: You're doing a lot of work for us, in other words.

JOHNSON: We are. We are. With servers and with computers, we're doing a lot of work so you don't have to do it.

BERMAN: So, give me a sense of what's trending right now.

JOHNSON: We saw "Newsweek" is shutting down over their print publication, and that's one of the things that's trending right now. Interestingly enough, we have a story from CNN on it. There's a story from "Daily Beast," which is related to "Newsweek." So, a very interesting analysis there from the --

BERMAN: Is it mostly tech stuff that ends up being top rated or what kind of thing ends up being in the top ten usually?

JOHNSON: No, you'll get a variety. You'll get entertainment, politics, techs. So, a really wide variety of what's trending right now.

BERMAN: And is this just on the PC? Because a lot of people now, I think, are using the iPhones and the droids and stuff. How do you get this kind of technology on your mobile app?

JOHNSON: So, right now, it's focused on CNN.com, but you can still get that, obviously, on your mobile phone or your iPad.

BERMAN: Mark Johnson, the CEO of Zite. It's great to see you. Welcome to the CNN family. We're excited for CNN Trend. You'll be part of EARLY START every single day. So, thanks, Mark.

SAMBOLIN: Very cool. I like that he does all the work for us. So, thank you for that.

And it is ladies' night in your late night laughs. Check it out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Both candidates now working very hard to shore up their support among women. That's the big thing. In fact, today they both pledged to increase domestic production of Ryan Gosling movies.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Yes, you're going to get more, because we've got to stop importing those from the Middle East.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I know. I know.

O'BRIEN: That's what's been killing us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Those Chinese knockoff Ryan Goslings --

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not the same.

STEWART: Apparently, during this debate, the ladies had already left the building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just too much, like two roosters going at each other. That could turn off women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One thing women voters don't like is a bully.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a turnoff for women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of women in America --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not sure they're going to be turned on by this debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of women turned off by that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wonder if suburban women were turned off --

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Not that that's a bad thing, because as far as I can tell, they've been a little hopped up on this thing for way too long.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: You take it.

BERMAN: EARLY START continues right now.