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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

The Final Debate; Armstrong's Career & Legacy on the Line; Courting the Female Vote; "Argo" Stirs Excitement; Prep for Final Debate

Aired October 22, 2012 - 05:00   ET

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


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Big stakes in Boca Raton, last chance for the candidates in tonight's final presidential debate.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Growing up in a hurry. Doctors say what's been happening to girls is now happening to boys, too.

SAMBOLIN: Judgment day for Lance Armstrong. In just a couple of hours, the fallen star learns if he will lose his Tour de France titles.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. We're happy you're with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

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

We are going to start with the rubber match as we count down to the final hours of the third and final presidential debate and we are literally counting down because in 16 hours, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney battling in a foreign policy face-off with the race for the White House about as close as it can get.

Just look at this new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll conducted after the second debate. The two rivals res locked in an absolute dead heat at 47 percent each.

Editorial boards at newspapers across the country are now coming out for their picks for president.

"The Tampa Tribune," "Columbus Dispatch" and "New Hampshire Union Leader" all endorsing Mitt Romney. "The Union Leader" calling the president's economic plan a fantasy.

Meanwhile, backing President Obama, two newspapers in the battleground state of Ohio. "The Akron Beacon Journal" and "The Cleveland Plain Dealer", along with "The Denver Post", which calls the president the best pick because of his record of accomplishment under trying circumstances.

There's a lot to talk about. CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser with a preview of the showdown in the Sunshine State.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Good morning, Zoraida, John.

With the polls so close right now, there's even more at stake when President Obama and Mitt Romney face off for the final time on the stage right behind me here at Lynn University. Expect the two candidates to pick up where they left off last week in New York.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: When we have four Americans killed there, when apparently we didn't know what happened, that the president the day after that happened flies to Las Vegas for political fundraiser.

STEINHAUSER (voice-over): From Libya to China.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Governor, you're the last person who's going to get tough on China.

STEINHAUSER: The clashes may have been just the appetizer. The candidates are likely to spar over many of the world's hot spots including Iran, Israel, Mideast peace, the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan and terrorism.

The format for this is different with six 15-minute segments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The segments will be divided up into two minute responses from each candidate, and then about an 8 1/2-minute discussion.

STEINHAUSER: After standing at their first two debates, this time around, President Obama and Mr. Romney will be seated at the same table, along with moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the combination of having the candidates seated at a table very close together and the extended discussion phase will really enable an opportunity for the candidates to have a deep discussion about these six topics and we think there will be a great opportunity for exchange between the candidates.

STEINHAUSER: At a charity dinner the other night, both candidates joked about the debate.

OBAMA: Monday's debate is a little bit different because the topic is foreign policy. Spoiler alert: We got bin Laden.

ROMNEY: Let me tell you what I do. First, refrain from alcohol for 65 years before the debate.

STEINHAUSER: Except for a short break Romney took on Sunday to watch a beach football game between his campaign staff and some of the media, both he and the president have been behind closed doors preparing for the debate.

And it's no wonder, a new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" national poll indicates it's dead even between the two candidates among likely voters. And Romney appears to be catching up with the president as to which would be a better commander-in-chief. (on camera): This final face-off between the two candidates is the last chance for either man to reach out to a television audience that could be around 60 million viewers -- Zoraida, John.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. Thanks, Paul.

In the next hour of EARLY START, we'll break down tonight's debate with Republican strategist Ana Navarro and CNN political analyst Roland Martin.

SAMBOLIN: And, of course, for the best political coverage on television, keep it right here on CNN. Our live coverage of the third and final debate begins tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

BERMAN: Four minutes after the hour right now.

And a full 10 days after the attack in Benghazi, the CIA was still telling President Obama these attacks stem from protests over that anti-Islam video. According to reports first published by "The Wall Street Journal," the CIA did not alter its assessment in the daily intelligence briefing until the September 22nd even thought witnesses and other sources disputed the assumption early on that protest sparked the attack. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others Americans died in last month's terror attack in Libya.

SAMBOLIN: CNN has learned that the U.S. embassy in Amman appeared to be among the targets of a major terrorist plot that was foiled by Jordanian authorities. That's from a source familiar with the investigation. The 11 terror suspects all Jordanians allegedly called their plan 9/11 (2). It was supposed to happen on November 9th, the fifth anniversary of the last al Qaeda attack in Jordan when suicide bombers targeted three hotels where many foreign diplomats stayed.

BERMAN: Police say the 45-year-old ex-Marine who opened at a Milwaukee area spa was targeting his estranged wife. Three men were killed yesterday but police haven't said if Zena Haughton (ph) is among them. Four others were wounded. Police say the suspected shooter Radcliffe Haughton was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the spa.

SAMBOLIN: Boys are hitting puberty earlier, but the reason why is a bit of a mystery still. The American Academy of Pediatrics says boys are showing signs six months to two years earlier than was reported in earlier research, which found puberty generally starting at about 11 1/2. Experts say this isn't a cause for alarm, just a heads up for parents and for doctors.

BERMAN: In baseball, it is going the distance. The San Francisco Giants forcing a decisive game seven in the National League Championship series with a 6-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals last night. Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong shut done the Cards with a career high nine strikeouts.

Game seven tonight in San Francisco. The winner will face of against the A.L. champ Detroit Tigers in the World Series which starts Wednesday.

SAMBOLIN: And in less than two hours, we expect if Lance Armstrong will lose the Tour de France title that helped make him a legend due to doping allegations. We're going to have a live report for you coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START.

In less than two hours, cycle's governing body will decide if it will strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has already said its fate, saying there's, quote, "overwhelming evidence that Armstrong took part in the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program while he rode for the U.S. Postal Service team."

So, this includes sworn testimony from 26 people, 11 of them former USPS teammates. The agency says Armstrong trafficked in banned substances, pressured teammates to dope, as well, and threatened those who would testify against him or his circle of suppliers.

Armstrong for his part didn't talk about it during a Livestrong event yesterday. He stepped down as chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation last week. His attorney has called the report a one-sided hatchet job.

Amanda Davies is following all of the developments from London.

And, Amanda, break this down for us. We know the International Cycling Union has the authority to strip him of titles. But the question is, will they do that?

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is the big question of the day, isn't it, Zoraida? Good morning.

Yes, the ICU always said that before they made the decision, they wanted to see the reasoned evidence from that USADA report. And they've seen it in space, haven't they all, 1,000 pages of that document and we're expecting to hear from the UCI president Pat McQuaid in two hours' time, speaking from Switzerland.

And it really remains to be seen. Their options are either, yes, they go along with the evidence in the report and they take the decision to strip Lance Armstrong of their seven Tour de France titles, or they appeal that evidence at the Court of Arbitration for Sport which is the highest sporting court that they could go to.

But, yes, you know, the report itself is full of evidence of testimonies from, as you said, those 26 people, 11 of them former teammates of Lance Armstrong. But Lance Armstrong always insists he never officially failed a drug test and that is always his argument against it. If they do take the decision to strip him of his titles, then that will lead to another domino effect of other things that could happen. What will happen to those Tour de France titles? Will they be re-awarded to somebody else? There are some suggestions that sponsors might start to reclaim some of their money and International Olympic Committee, it remains to be seen what they would do with Lance Armstrong's Olympic medal as well.

SAMBOLIN: And there was a lot of talk about whether or not there will be a criminal investigation there. And, Amanda, we mentioned that Armstrong spoke at a Livestrong charity yesterday. He did allude to the controversy.

What did he say?

DAVIES: Yes. He alluded to it but didn't mention it specifically, as, you know, Lance Armstrong has had the longstanding agreement to speak at the Livestrong gala on Friday night, 15 years of his Livestrong Foundation that's done such good work for the cancer charity. There was a lot of focus on that and pretty much stuck to the same lines yesterday speaking at a cycling event with 4,000 cyclists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANCE ARMSTRONG, CYCLIST: Obviously, it's been an interesting and as I said the other night at times very difficult few weeks. People ask me a lot, how are you doing? And I tell them, "Well, I've been better but I've also been worse".

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVIES: He said he's also been worse, but, Zoraida, things could get a whole lot worse depending on what comes out of this press conference.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, we're expecting those results shortly here. We'll be moderating.

And Amanda Davies live in London for us. Thank you very much.

BERMAN: It is 13 minutes after the hour. Winter expected to arrive today in a big way on the West Coast.

Alexandra Steele is in for Rob Marciano today.

What does it look like, Alexandra?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi. Good morning, guys.

You know, winter snow and also tropical development in one bite. So a lot on the weather menu. That's for sure.

All right. Good morning, hey, it's late of the night, right, to the West, but a lot to tell you about. We've got our first major winter storm of the season, although officially we are not into winter yet.

Here's where it will be. Really a northern California, in the Sierra, in the Siskiyou and into southern Oregon. You see the white, of course, the delineation of snow. We haven't seen that on the map in earnest like this.

On the haul, what we're going to see about a foot of snow, above 550 feet. You can see that. Then it actually even moves in toward Boise, in toward Idaho, into the Bitterroot Range as we head toward the next day or two. So, certainly, we're going to keep an eye on that.

Also, of course, we've got something in the Caribbean. It's called Invest 99L. There's an 80 percent chance of development. That's pretty high.

So, look at this where it is in the Caribbean, these are the computer models. We call this the spaghetti models. And you can see this is kind of where they think the storm system will go and you can see certainly Nassau and the Bahamas, one potentially takes it into Miami and this should happen into Friday in toward the weekend.

But wherever it goes, it's such a large, massive system that the rain and wind field will be big. So here in the Southeast we're going to feel it some way. So keep an eye on that.

So, a lot to keep an eye, guys, from the snow in the West to tropical development around Miami and through Nassau and the Bahamas.

BERMAN: Thanks, Alexandra. Alexandra Steele in Atlanta, thank you very much.

SAMBOLIN: Fourteen minutes past the hour.

Let's get you up-to-date, shall we? Here's Christine Romans with your top stories.

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

Mitt Romney and President Obama square off in the third and final presidential tonight in Boca Raton, Florida. The president has been preparing for the 90-minute foreign policy face-off at Camp David. And the GOP challenger spent the weekend in Florida, surfacing briefly yesterday for some beef side burgers.

With the polls dead even, the stakes couldn't be higher. CNN's live coverage of the debate begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

America mourning the death of George McGovern, a war hero who'd be best remembered as a champion of peace. McGovern died over the weekend at the age of 90. He was the Democratic nominee for president, 1972. But he lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon.

Bill and Hillary Clinton got their start in politics with McGovern. They called him a tireless advocate for human rights and dignity.

A floor collapse at a Tallahassee apartment building has sent 55 to the hospital. There was a party going on when the crowded second floor gave way at the Seminole Grand Apartment early Sunday morning. Firefighters used a ladder truck to rescue seven people who got stuck in a second story bedroom. None of the injuries are life-threatening, mostly sprains and broken bones.

It's not exactly new math but a Michigan State study says Twitter has become a new literary format that's improving student learning. The study found college students who tweet as part of their instruction are more engaged with the course content, the teacher and their fellow students and get their higher grades to boot. The author says Twitter is changing the way we experience what we read and what we write and apparently how we learn in the college classroom.

BERMAN: I assume it doesn't mean tweeting during class but other things besides what's in class. But no doubt --

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: Grammar is what worries me, right, because you have to shorten everything.

BERMAN: But grammar baffles me, so I never worry about it.

Sixteen minutes after the hour right now. We're getting an early read on your local news that's making national headlines. We're going to start with "The New York Times," which is a story about changes in the new Windows 8 operating system which goes on sale this Friday. I have to say --

SAMBOLIN: John says he's going to panic.

BERMAN: I heard this story twice because the pictures are amazing. Some users have been dismayed to discover that there is no longer the familiar start button in the lower left-hand corner to help launch the program. This looks way, way different, guys.

The new system is the strip-down and has onscreen buttons instead of the familiar corner icon. Trust me, you'll want to check this out.

SAMBOLIN: It could be fun.

BERMAN: Or baffling. One or the other.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, most associate alligators with places like Florida, the Everglades, not the suburbs of Long Island, right? So the "Long Island Press" reports that seven alligators have been found in Nassau and Suffolk Counties in the past month alone. One of them was caught on Saturday.

Listen to this -- an officer donned scuba gear, jumped into a pond to catch the nearly three-foot-long gator. Other alligators have been found in an Applebee's parking lot and a golf course, and right outside the supermarket.

BERMAN: Yes, they don't belong. I think they suspect someone is letting these things loose, right?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, they're keeping them as pets.

BERMAN: Yes, it's a bad situation. And for expanded look of all our top stories, head to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart.

SAMBOLIN: Well, he quit Wall Street in spectacular fashion with a "New York Times" op-ed. Now, former Goldman trader Greg Smith is talking. You're going to hear from him, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: We're minding your business this morning. U.S. markets are poised for a bounce after a really dismal day on Friday.

SAMBOLIN: The tech heavy NASDAQ lost more than 2 percent on Friday alone and there's a ton of tech news coming out this week.

So, Christine has got the preview for us.

ROMANS: It's a huge a week. We've got a debate. We'll hear I'm sure a lot about China and energy policy. But then you got all this technology news coming out this week. And this is tech news that's going to change maybe how you're using some of your gadgets.

Let's talk about some of the earnings we're going to see first. Yahoo! is today after the closing bell. We're going to hear from Melissa Meyer who just got back from her very long two-week maternity leave.

Facebook is on Tuesday. It's only second earnings report that's been public.

Thursday, we'll hear from Apple. And then also Thursday, Amazon.com.

Apple news, the Apple iPad mini we're expecting this week. What's it going to like? How big is the screen going to be? Who is it trying to compete with?

A lot of people talking about that and Microsoft Windows 8 launch. You just talked about that, John and Zoraida. Look, the Microsoft Windows 8 is going to be so radically different from what you use right now. It's going to be interesting to see what the gadget, you know, columnist and people think about Windows 8.

Now, also, we're getting the first look at this Goldman banker who quit in a huff on the pages of "The New York Times." Did you see him last night on "60 Minutes"? He's launching his book tour that began with his resignation letter in "The New York Times". Now, he's on "60 Minutes" and we're hearing from him in the first time.

And he said in this interview that the reason why he left Goldman Sachs is because the culture there had deteriorated. There he is. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM CBS'S "60 MINUTES")

GREG SMITH, FORMER GOLDMAN SACHS EMPLOYEE: I met a junior guy who is 24 or 25 years old and the first thing he told me was he just traded a sophisticated derivative with a muppet client who paid the firm an extra million dollars because the client was so trusting he didn't check the price with other banks.

Now, you can think to yourself, is it some rogue guy who's just talking callously about clients? But his boss, who's managing director, was sitting right next to him nodding and chuckling along.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The culture of Goldman is that clients are paramount. Did you really serve your clients and that you -- has a culture of just being a very client-focused bank. So this really hits to the heart of Goldman.

But is this guy just an average banker who managed to get a lot of press and the favorable pages of "The New York Times" or is he someone who's exposing something about the underbelly of Wall Street? Right now, the pendulum is toward the former.

BERMAN: There's not a tidal wave of people rushing to his defense right now, exactly.

ROMANS: No. I mean, look, if you work an Wall Street, look, he's also somebody that Goldman Sachs said that he was denied a raise to about a million dollars a year, who was denied a promotion a couple months before he left. They're trying to paint him more as this disgruntled, kind of average banker.

He's going to get a lot of press, starting on "60 Minutes." We'll be seeing in this week, the book tour begins. There you go. An insight -- you rarely hear such inside look of Goldman Sachs. That's why people are so interested.

SAMBOLIN: We're actually going to be hearing more from him later in our show as well.

ROMANS: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

BERMAN: Hugely controversy.

Twenty-four minutes after the hour.

And Todd Akin is at it again. Coming up, more comments from the Missouri Senate candidate that could anger women voters, even more.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Debate night in America. Foreign policy the focus of tonight's final face-off in Florida. A lot of F's.

SAMBOLIN: More controversial comments from Senate candidate Todd Akin. And he may have alienated women voters again.

BERMAN: The real-life story of "Argo." A CNN exclusive with the actual American embassy workers who inspired Ben Affleck's Hollywood movie.

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

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Nice to have you with us this morning.

It is 29 minutes past the hour.

Well, tonight, President Obama will defend his record overseas against challenger Mitt Romney in their third and final face-off -- this time focusing exclusively on foreign policy. And with Election Day now just 15 days away, can you believe it, the race is closer than ever. A new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" national poll among likely voters has the candidates died at 47 percent apiece.

And with us this morning to give a preview of tonight's final faceoff, we have CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro, and CNN political analyst Roland Martin.

Ana, I'm going to start with you and I'm going to polls here, a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows Obama is leading with women. So, let's put up those numbers for everybody. Obama is also now beating Romney with suburban women. Back in September, that group favored Romney by six points.

Can Romney close the gender gap here?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think so, Zoraida. We saw that as a result of the first debate, Romney closed gaps that we thought were insurmountable a few weeks ago including the women gap. This is going to get a lot closer. We're seeing it closer in the battleground states and nationally. It's going to get closer with the demographic groups, with the regional groups we're going to see this come down to the wire is what I think.

SAMBOLIN: Do you agree, Roland?

MARTIN: Of course. This is a base election. Go back to 2004. President George W. Bush beat Senator Kerry in Ohio 110,000 votes. That determined the election. This was always going to be a base vote. I wasn't one of these folks, even a year ago, who was saying, oh, the national polls, no, he'll be a blowout. No. This was always going to be about the economy and pocketbook issues and going to be about, again, who has in terms of the vision moving forward. So all of the folks were thinking blow-out, they were nuts.

SAMBOLIN: You know, let's talk about endorsements. I always wonder whether these newspaper endorsements really make a difference. A slew of newspapers endorsements over the weekend. Romney grabbing two in Florida and three in other big swing states. Obama, meanwhile, getting multiple bumps in Colorado and Ohio. How influential do you think these endorsements are to folks who are actually voting? MARTIN: Well, first of all, people forget, you know I worked at newspapers in my past and they do matter because people do read those editorial pages. If you are a conservative, you want the stamp of the approval from the wall street journal editorial board so why should that be a difference-maker and not these particular states here? People are reading them, so, you know, again, in a tight election, you want every possible vote that's out there. So I think they do have some role in elections.

SAMBOLIN: Ana, do you agree with that? do they have a role? A significant role, I should add.

NAVARRO: Look, I think their role is less significant with the years. Today voters have such a slew of information from diverse sources. We've got blogs and 24-hour cable channels. We've got all sorts of publications and twitter and facebook so I think they are much less significant. We know newspapers are less significant, unfortunately because I love newspapers, because we've seen their dwindling numbers. I don't think they matter as much as they once did when it was maybe the most important or sole source of information on a candidate, most complete source of information on a candidate. These campaigns have been going on for a long, long time. You know, most of us really know these candidates by now.

MARTIN: But, trust me, if some of those big papers in Ohio, Ana, would love to have those endorsements, as well, I mean bottom line is -

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Everybody loves to have them.

MARTIN: You want as much support as possible.

SAMBOLIN: Let's move on to foreign policy, because that's what we're going to be focusing on this evening. And a new Wall Street Journal report is out this morning and it's showing that President Obama was told, in his daily intelligence briefing more than a week ago, that protests were to blame in the consulate attack. It was not corrected by the CIA until September 22nd. Does that take some of the pressure off President Obama heading into the debate tonight?

MARTIN: Vice President Biden talked about the intelligence reports. From day one that was the case. Now, here's what's interesting. You keep hearing the criticism throwing the intelligence folks under the bus. That's where you get your information from. So that's where they were stating Ambassador Susan Rice when she went on "Meet the Press" is what she was talking about. If you want to criticize the White House you must also say what was the intelligence, what were our sources on the ground and what were they telling us. That's who you lean on. I think the President when he lays it out, look, General David Petraeus now has the CIA so it'll be interesting to see is he going to come out and speak before the cameras as opposed to just having the President do so.

SAMBOLIN: Ana, what do you think about the latest report and how it'll affect tonight? NAVARRO: Look, I think it's a vulnerability but only a vulnerability if Mitt Romney manages to be able to articulate it succinctly and really land a blow. The problem with this Benghazi thing is you can't have it both ways. You can't say on the one hand that the next day afterwards you came out and called it an act of terror and at the same time blame not calling it an act of terror on the intelligence folks. The truth is, and the question that needs to be answered is, okay Mr. President, if you called it an act of terror the next day in the Rose Garden why then is it that everybody in your administration called it anything but an act of terror for the next 12 days.

MARTIN: Because, again, Ana --

NAVARRO: That's the question Mitt Romney has -

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: You're basing it on what the intelligence tells you. And so that's what you base it on, and remember, Susan --

NAVARRO: So what was --

MARTIN: Wait a second, even Ambassador Rice made the point in terms of this is what we know now. Now. And so that is critical because things can certainly change.

SAMBOLIN: I really want to get your reaction to one final thing, the Obama campaign released a brand-new ad minutes ago. Let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICEOVER: President Obama ended the Iraq war, Mitt Romney would have left 30,000 troops there, and called brining them home tragic. Obama's brought 30,000 soldiers back from Afghanistan and has a responsible plan to end the war. Romney calls it Obama's biggest mistake. It's time to stop fighting over there and start rebuilding here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: I'm going to let you weigh in first, Roland.

MARTIN: Huge because we spent billions of dollars on these two wars, did not pay for them and the American people are, frankly, tired of having to do so. Also, the President says, we're bringing these troops back home, if you're a military family you're tired of your family members being constantly deployed. This is an economic ad as well as one saying I am willing to stop these ridiculous wars that we've been paying too much money for. It's a strong ad.

SAMBOLIN: Ana, does this hurt with Romney with women voters in particular? There's a lot of talk about that, going to war is not popular with women.

NAVARRO: You know, I think, Zoraida, that women don't look at one issue. We look at a number of issues. I'll tell you something I think we reserve a right to change our mind and, you know, that's why you see these women numbers shifting back and forth depending a lot on the debate performances. This is a good ad. It's a reminder ad. I'm reminding you what I did for you lately. But, you know, Mitt Romney has places to go at against Barack Obama on foreign policy. It's not considered his bailiwick, Mitt Romney's and yet he's done great progress in that one issue in the last several weeks.

MARTIN: Most important line in that ad, "rebuilding here," that's what Americans love to hear. Saying, don't rebuild in other countries, rebuild in the United States.

SAMBOLIN: All right, on that note we'll leave it, thank you so much Ana Navarro, CNN political analyst and Roland Martin. See you again in our 6:00 hour. And at six Eastern on EARLY START we'll get more perspective on tonight's debate when we're joined by CNN's Senior Political Analyst, Ron Brownstein and be sure to keep it right on CNN. Our special live coverage of the third and this is the final debate, folks, it begins tonight at 7:00 eastern.

BERMAN: Great discussion. Is it 36 minutes after the hour right now. More political news, Missouri Republican Todd Akin taking a lot of heat again this morning for comparing Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill to a dog. Akin was abandoned by his own party back in August after those controversial comments about legitimate rape. Listen to what he said about McCaskill at a fund-raiser Saturday in Springfield, Missouri.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TODD AKIN, ( R ) MISSOURI: So she goes to Washington, D.C. And it's a little bit like one of those dogs, you know, fetch, and she goes to Washington, D.C. And gets all of these taxes and red tape and bureaucracy and executive orders and agencies and she brings all of this stuff and dumps it on us in Missouri.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, since Akin made the remark, there's been no comment from McCaskill or the Missouri Republican.

Political and religious leaders hold street protesters at bay following the emotional funeral of a top intelligence official in Lebanon. He was killed in a car bombing on Friday, which has widely been blamed on the Syrians. Protesters tried to storm the Prime Minister's office after denouncing the Lebanese Government at the funeral. It was a chaotic situation to say the least.

SAMBOLIN: 37 minutes past the hour. Sunday night football action, despite a sloppy first half and being down four starters, the Pittsburgh Steelers managed to keep things close against the Cincinnati Bengals. In the fourth quarter with the game tied at 17, the first touchdown of Chris Rainey's NFL career proved to be the game winner as the Steelers went on to beat Cincinnati, 24-17.

BERMAN: And of course the big football news that everyone's been talking about overnight, the Patriots dramatic overtime victory over the Jets in Foxsboro. Heroic victory I would call it. Not just my words, words of everybody who cares about humanity.

(LAUGHTER)

38 minutes after the hour right now, still ahead, Ben Affleck's new thriller "Argo" tells the story of six Americans who escaped during the 1979 Iran Hostage crisis. Our Alina Cho spoke with the real embassy workers who inspired the film. You'll want to see this. You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Welcome back to EARLY START. the new film "Argo" is getting plenty of Oscar buzz. It was directed by and stars Ben Affleck. It's based on an incredible true story. The tale of six American embassy workers who escaped capture during their the Iranian revolution.

BERMAN: "Argo" documents the covert CIA operation that got these people out and CNN's Alina Cho spoke exclusively to the real embassy workers whom the film was based on.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, good morning John, Zoaraida. We all remember the Iranian hostage crisis started in 1979, 52 Americans held for 444 long days began during the Carter administration and ended the day Reagan took office. This is the little-known story of the six Americans who eluded capture. "Argo" is their tale, how they hid and how think got out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENFITIED MALE: What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six of the hostages went out a back exit.

UNIDENIFIED MALE: Where are they?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Canadian Ambassador's house.

CHO (voice over): In the movie, "Argo: Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a real-life CIA operative who hatches a plan to rescue six Americans who elude capture during the Iranian revolution.

BEN AFFLECK AS TONY MENDEZ: I've got an idea. They're a Canadian film crew for a science fiction movie. I fly into Tehran, we all fly out together as a film crew.

CHO: That fake science fiction movie is called "Argo."

UNIDINTIFIED MALE: If I'm doing a fake movie it's going to be a fake hit.

CHO: These are the real embassy workers on which the film is based. What was your first thought when you saw it?

BOB ANDERS, FORMER CONSULATE OFFICER: It was more exciting than the real thing. CHO: Bob Anders. Lee Schatz, Mark and Cora Lijek, Kathleen Stafford. Five of the six. The first time they all sat down for a TV interview. The only one who couldn't be with us is Kathleen's husband Joe currently working for the State Department in the Sudan. These were the actors.

ANDERS: yes.

CHO: Who played you. What do you think?

KATHLEEN STAFFORD, FORMER CONSULATE WORKER: Sure looks like Joe. Even got his little sweaters right. He used to wear sleeveless sweater vest.

CHO: They took me back to the day November 4th, 1979 when Iranian students climbed the wall and stormed the U.S. Embassy. What went through your mind?

LEE SCHATZ FORMER AGRICULTURAL OFFICER: This will only last for a little while before the government will come and stop this. And I just tried to keep my staff calm and collected.

STAFFORD: I remember calling my mother after about the first 24-48 hours and saying don't worry you'll see some things on the news, but I'm safe and I'll call you in a few days. Of course, I didn't call back for three months.

CHO: 79 days they hid from the Iranians in the homes of Canadian diplomats and came to be known as the house guests.

STAFFORD: People would come to the house and we would go upstairs and hide, and at one point there were revolutionary guards posted outside the door.

CHO: Then on January 26th, 1980 --

SCHATZ: There's a knock on the door. I open the door and there's two guys standing there in trench coats. And I said, really? Trench coats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you do this before?

AFFLECK: No. This is what I do, and I've never left anyone behind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CORA LIJEK, FORMER CONSULATE ASSISTANT: Tony is a very charming guy.

CHO: Did you trust him?

MARK LIJEK, FORMER CONSULAR OFFICER: We didn't have a whole lot of choice. I think if we said no thanks, send in another infiltration tech.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENFITIED MALE: Do you think your little will make a difference when there's a gun to our heads?

AFFLECK: I think my little story is the only thing that's between you and a gun to your head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Movie spoiler alert, it worked. And once they cleared Iranian air space,

SCHATZ: We all ordered drinks and I'm sure people on the plane if they wandered wondered why there were these arms that went up when we made contact because we were sitting in different places. But we knew why.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Just incredible to speak to them. You know the CIA operation was actually classified for 17 long years until President Clinton declassified the operation in 1997. That's when, of course, Hollywood's wheels began turning and they began to think, wow, what a great story. Let's tell it and part of a reason why that information remained classified is so they could perhaps use that plan again, of course, we don't know if they ever did. Perhaps we'll know 20 years from now but it's just a remarkable story and I know you haven't seen the film yet, I really urge you to go see it. It is one of the best films I've ever seen.

SAMBOLIN: It's been getting a lot of buzz and how cool to have all these people together.

CHO: It was really, really incredible. They do have reunions every five years but not all of them are together and they also keep in touch with Tony Mendez, the CIA operative, as well.

SAMBOLIN:Thank you for that, Alina. We appreciate it.

All right, 46 minutes past the hour, George Clooney one of the producers of "Argo" with real-life drama of his own. His role in the trial of former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi who is embroiled in a sex scandal.

BERMAN: Bunga-bunga.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 50 past the hour. Let 'get you up to date with Christine Romans.

ROMANS: Good morning. Mitt Romney and President Obama face off on foreign policy at tonight's third and final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida. Both men spent the weekend prepping for the high-stakes showdown with polls showing the race is a virtual dead heat. Tonight's debate will be moderated by CBS Bob Schieffer and consist of six 15-minute segments each starting with a question followed by a two-minute answer from the candidates. CNN will bring you coverage of the showdown beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Police say the 45-year-old ex-marine who opened fire at a Milwaukee area spa was targeting his estranged wife. Three women were killed yesterday but police haven't said if Xena Haughton is among them. Four others were wounded. Police say the suspected shooter, Radcliffe Haughton was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the spa.

An investigation in now underway after an Amtrak passenger train derailed Sunday morning near Niles Michigan. A dozen were injured. None seriously when train number 350 went of the rails en route from Chicago to Pontiac. Passengers were taken back to the train station by bus and put on another train to continue their trip.

George Clooney was asked to testify for Silvio Berlusconi who is on trial for paying an underaged prostitute known as Ruby the Heart Stealer for sex. The girl claims she saw Clooney at one of Burlusconi's sex parties, Clooney denies being present. He is scheduled to testify Friday.

BERMAN: High drama in italy.

ROMANS: Only Silvio Berlusconi could get George Clooney at his trial. This has just been endless. Berlusconi's legal troubles.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

BERMAN: 51 past the hour. Coming up no rubber match. The countdown to the third and final debate in Boca Eaton, Florida, both candidates polishing up on foreign policy. We got a preview of what the focus will be in the last debate. Libya, the four Americans killed, the aftermath and how it was handled. CNN's senior political analyst Ron brownstein has the tale of the tape.

SAMBOLIN: So first it was the girls now medical proof that boys are growing up too quickly hitting puberty at a much earlier age. What's causing it? It's still a mystery, diet, all that laying around, perhaps both, Elizabeth Cohen looks into it. For all of you parents out there I'll pay attention.

Plus a former Goldman Sachs employee who managed a trillion dollars in assets does soemthign you might dream about at your desk, quitting with a blistering public resignation letter published in the New York Times. Now he's out with a book about it but Goldman launched a preemptive strike. We're talking about it with William Cohan the author of "Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World."

BERMAN: But first, why Tebowing may cost you. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. 56 after the hour. John Berman along with Zoraida Sambolin. We are looking at top CNN trends. What is getting buzz on the Internet this morning.

SAMBOLIN: All right, so people Googling to ogle Paul Ryan. The "New York Times" campaign blog says the term "Paul Ryan shirtless" is Googled nine times more often than "Paul Ryan budget." The GOP VP nominee has a body by p-90x and took these photos pumping iron for "Time Magazine" and he claims to have 6 percent to 8 percent body fat. All old news to the Paul Ryan girl who we mow is going viral with her song let's get fiscal.

BERMAN: Do you know anyone who Googled "Paul Ryan Shirtless?"

SAMBOLIN: I have but I did but I did it for my job.

BERMAN: The NFL now getting down with Gangnam style. It's become the new celebration dance on the gridiron. The New York Giants star Jason Pierre Paul one of the players who celebrated a sack with the horsey and lasso whirl on Sunday.

SAMBOLIN: Pay to pray. The Washington post says as of October 9th. Tim Tebow owns the trademark for Tebowing. Tebow said he didn't acquire it for financial gain. He just wants control. How it's used. Make sure it's used in the right way. What does that mean?

BERMAN: I don't know how you can trademark something like that that's interesting.

SAMBOLIN: To check out other top CNN trends, head to CNN.com/trends.

BERMAN: Meanwhile, there was plenty of verbal sparring in the second presidential debate last week. Here's how SNL scored it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gas prices are a little high if you ask me, so how come you don't do nothing about that, all right, thank you, all right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, IMPERSONATING BARACK OBAMA: Well, Eugene we need to do everything we can to become energy independent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, IMPERSONATING MITT ROMNEY: Oh, really. Why have you cut drilling permits on federal land by half.

OBAMA: Not true.

ROMNEY: How much did you cut?

OBAMA: Not true.

ROMNEY: You didn't cult anything.

OBAMA: I'm about to cut you.

ROMNEY: I'd like to see that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE IMPERSONATING CANDY CROWLEY: Our next question comes from Dominic Fonte and it is for Governor Romney. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Romney, a few minutes ago you say you would like to kick President Obama's [ bleep ].

CROWLEY: Oh, boy, here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, how about if I kicked your [ bleep ] instead. How would that be?

ROMNEY: You're welcome to try, tubby. I'll put you on the schedule for a beatdown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got nothing. You're a punk. I'll kick our [ bleep ] and then I'll kick the President's [ bleep ].

CROWLEY: Why do you want to the kick [ bleep ] of both the Governor Romney and the President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I'm undecided.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: That's in case you missed it. EARLY START continues right now.

I love that we do this.

BERMAN: Big stakes in Boca Raton. The last chance for the candidates in tonight's final presidential debate.

SAMBOOIN: Wall Street whistle-blower. The man who quit Goldman Sachs in a Times op-ed speaks but is he another disgruntled employee.

BERMAN: the champagne's still on ice for St. Louis. San Francisco forces a game seven tonight with a trip to the world series on the line.

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

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It's just about 6:00 in the East.