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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

The Third And Final Debate; Final Face Off In 2012 Race; Jordan Foils Terror Plot; Police: Domestic Violence Fueled Shooting; Study: Boys Starting Puberty Sooner; And We'll See You Tomorrow Night; Goldman Sachs Tell All; Apple Expected to Unveil "iPad Mini"; Final Face-Off in 2012 Race; Tod Aiken's Latest Gaffe; Learning from Twitter?

Aired October 22, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It's just about 6:00 in the east.

Up first, counting down the final hours to the third and final presidential debate, and we are literally counting down. Because in 15 hours, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney battle in a foreign policy face-off with the race for the White House about as close as it can possibly get.

Just look at this new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll conducted after the second debate. The two rivals are locked in an absolute dead heat at 47 percent each. Editorial board at newspapers across the country are now coming out with their picks for president.

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

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.

CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, is live from Boca Raton, Florida, for us this morning. So this is really exciting to you because it's numbers and they're very, very close.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Extremely close. You just showed that national poll. You know the battleground states. It's also extremely close in the surveys, including right here in Florida.

So Zoraida, with all those polls in mind there's even more at stake when President Obama and Mitt Romney meet right behind me here in Lynn University for their final showdown. You know, I think they're going to pick up where they left off at their second debate last week in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: When we have four Americans killed there, when apparently we didn't know what happened, 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 OF AMERICA: Governor, you're the last person who is going to get tough on China.

STEINHAUSER: The clashes at the second presidential debate 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 debate 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 candidate --

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 in 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 when it comes to which man would be a better commander in chief.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEINHAUSER: And here's another reason why this debate is so important. This is the last chance for either of these men to reach an audience that's probably going to be over 60 million viewers. When this debate is over, just two weeks to go until Election Day -- Zoraida, John.

SAMBOLIN: Paul Steinhauser live for us in Florida. Thank you very much.

BERMAN: We want to bring in CNN senior political analyst and editorial director of the "National Journal," Ron Brownstein. Ron, you saw the poll numbers there, 47-47 among likely voters in "The Wall Street Journal." That's tied and completely tied.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, when is a tie not a tie though? If you're an incumbent president and you're at 47 this close to an election day, you're not feeling so great about that number on the one hand because you're further away from 50 than you want to be.

Also inside that "Wall Street Journal" poll, we've talked before, John, his formula for success in this election is to win 80 percent of minority voters, 40 percent of white voters. He's only at 36 among white voters in that "Wall Street Journal" poll, a very low number.

The one sliver, the silver lining for him in that poll is it's better than most polls have been for him lately among registered voters as opposed to likely voters, he's up five.

And that suggests that the really critical role of shaping the electorate in this -- in this campaign, if he can bring out his supporters, younger voters, minority voters.

And tilt the composition of the electorate a little more in that direction than the pollsters expect, as George W. Bush did in 2004, that's probably the path to survival at this point.

SAMBOLIN: So let's talk about women. The new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows Obama leading with women. Obama is also now beating Romney with suburban women, and back in September that same group favored Romney by six points. What about the gender gap here?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I would be surprised if women overall favored the -- Mitt Romney in September. Usually, of course, there has been a gender gap, Democrats run better among women than men. But what's striking in this poll and in all the polls.

And I think sets up an important dynamic for tonight's debate is that President Obama has lost ground among white women. And not only the blue collar white women who are always loosely attached to him, but in a number of these polls, college educated white women who have been the most Democratic portion of the white electorate.

And I think that kind of creates, you saw that in the second debate, focus on issues like equity, access to contraception and Planned Parenthood. I think one of the focus in this debate could very well be to try to continue that argument aiming at women for the president, by suggesting that Mitt Romney is too quick to kind of rattle the war card. BERMAN: It's interesting you say that. This is a foreign policy debate. You think it can be used to deal with the gender issues.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I think the challenge for both of them is to tie this debate into their broader campaign narrative and strategy. There's a tendency -- there's risk in a foreign policy debate to become just kind of a conversation about discreet issues without any kind of overriding theme.

I think for Mitt Romney has to be what he did at the first debate, reassure people that he is a plausible president after that pretty rocky foreign trip this summer. I think for the president, the goal has to be.

And I think they're thinking this way, how do you tie this in to what is clearly their focus on the second debate and beyond, focusing on women voters.

And the most logical way to do that is to continue what Joe Biden did against Paul Ryan, open up the thread that Republicans are too quick to be talking about war.

BERMAN: And there's a new ad to that effect. (Inaudible) came with this new ad, which was released just minutes ago. Let's look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama ended the Iraq war. Mitt Romney would have left 30,000 troops there and called bringing 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)

BERMAN: Does that appeal to women?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think primarily. Not entirely. I mean, obviously the idea of the commitment in Afghanistan really isn't very popular anywhere in the electorate. I think you can also see that tonight with Iran.

The news the administration is open to the possibility -- has open discussions about one-on-one negotiations with Iran after the elections, Republicans didn't go after that as hard as you might have expected.

In that, you know, in the initial response, especially since their overall foreign policy message has been that Obama is kind of soft on our enemies. I think they are also conscious, if you're saying don't talk, what are you saying? What is the alternative at that point?

That last line I think is something we're going to see a lot of tonight, let's nation-build at home, kind of move the resources from the war into the needs at home. But look, the president, even that poll is tied on balance, it's more worrisome than reassuring for him.

I think Democrats are one credible poll showing Romney ahead in Ohio away from kind of full-scale panic at this point. And I think that the debate tonight, the key goal for the president has to be to tie it in with a larger message and not just kind of win a discreet argument.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Ron Brownstein, thank you so much for joining us. We're going to invite you back to talk after the fact.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: We appreciate that. 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: The U.S. Embassy in Amman was apparently a target in a terror plot that was foiled by Jordanian authorities. CNN has learned of the embassy connection from a source familiar with the investigation.

The 11 terror suspects, all Jordanians who have recently spent time in Syria allegedly called their plan 9/112. The plot called for suicide bombings at two shopping malls along with attacks on diplomatic targets in Amman.

SAMBOLIN: 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 Zena Haughton is among them. Four others were wounded as well. Police say the suspected shooter, Radcliffe Haughton was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was inside the spa.

BERMAN: So boys are hitting puberty earlier, but the reason why still a bit of a mystery. 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 11.5 years old.

Experts say this isn't a cause for alarm, just a heads up for parents and doctors. Elizabeth Cohen is going to have more on this study and what parents need to know about this later this hour.

SAMBOLIN: And there will be a game seven. The National League Championship series, the San Francisco Giants beating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 to force that deciding game tonight.

Giants' pitcher Ryan Vogelsong shut down the Cards with nine strikeouts. The Giants have already won five elimination games this postseason. Tonight's winner will face the A.L. champion Detroit Tigers in the World Series. That will begin Wednesday.

BERMAN: That's going to be a big game tonight going head-to-head with the debate. That will be interesting.

It's 9 minutes after the hour right now. He gave Goldman Sachs the resignation letter heard round the world with a "New York Times" op- ed. Now Greg Smith talking about his book, a little Wall Street expose coming up. We'll ask, does it deliver?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It's 13 minutes past the hour. It was one of the most spectacular resignations in corporate America. Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith quit his firm in a very public way, after 12 years. With a scathing op-ed published in "The New York Times."

BERMAN: Now, Smith has expanded his public resignation letter into a book "Why I Left Goldman Sachs," which is out today. Smith spoke to Anderson Cooper last night on "60 Minutes."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "AC 360": So an op-ed resignation, you hoped it would be a wake-up call?

GREG SMITH, FORMER GOLDMAN SACHS EMPLOYEE: I really did because there are a lot of people who acknowledge these things internally, but no one is willing to say it publicly. And my view was the only way you force people to change the system is by saying something publicly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Joining us now to talk about this is the author of "Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came To Rule The World," William Cohan. William also worked on Wall Street as an investment banker for almost two decades.

Now you wrote a piece for "Bloomberg" in which you say Greg Smith is quote, "Nothing more than a sweet-talking con man." Can you explain that to me? Who is he trying to shake down here?

WILLIAM COHAN, AUTHOR, "MONEY AND POWER": Look, I mean, Wall Street is not a charitable organization. Goldman Sachs is not a charitable organization and never has been.

I wrote a book about the history of the firm, it's been around more than 150 years. It's never been a charitable organization. The people are charitable. That's fine.

So for Greg Smith to think that somehow this is an organization that's going to make him proud, and that he is going to, you know, be able to go there and do good for the world, is just totally naive. And I'm sure he's not that naive.

He went there to make money. He was happy to take their money for the first 12 years of his career. And then this past year when things didn't go the way he wanted, when he didn't get his promotion, he didn't get his million dollar pay package, then he up and quits and pretends to be all moral about it. And it just doesn't make sense to me.

SAMBOLIN: Let's talk about some of the details of the book. It's released today but a few have been leaked. And from those reports, many of the anecdotes that Smith offers to illustrate the culture inside Goldman Sachs seem relatively tame. We have one example here. A managing director orders a cheddar cheese sandwich and when an intern delivers a cheddar cheese salad, instead he throws it out. Example two, he's out to throw a ping pong game he could have won easily to please an important client.

Where is the news here?

COHAN: Where indeed?

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

COHAN: As they used to say, look, in my book, you know, I talked about many examples of bad behavior at Goldman Sachs, putting themselves first before their clients.

I mean, this is like ancient history. But in 1969 and 1970, in the Penn Central bankruptcy, Goldman saved itself before it saved its clients, almost putting any number of its clients out of business, almost went out of business itself as a result of the lawsuits as a result of that.

So if Greg Smith had done any of his homework, which clearly he did not, he joined Goldman Sachs because Goldman Sachs like many Wall Street firms is very, very good at seducing the best and the brightest in America and all of the world to its -- into its buildings and to work there. If he had done any homework at all, he would have known that Goldman Sachs has always had this in its DNA. This is nothing new. These are hardly revelations.

You know, if I were Goldman Sachs, I'd be pretty happy right now. I mean, there is a big issue to be raised about bad behavior on Wall Street. And it's been going on for a long time, and it will happen to get us into this financial crisis. Nobody's been held accountable.

But I would say exhibit "A" of bad behavior on Wall Street is a guy like Greg Smith, who gets paid $500,000 a year, and then has the temerity to complain about it.

SAMBOLIN: All right. You mentioned this earlier and it was denying that raise. The report reveals that Smith was denied a raise and promotion the week before he quit and allegedly acts poorly.

It says in part, quote here, "Greg Smith off the charts unrealistic, thinks he should trade at multiples. We told him there's little tolerance for reactions like that and he needs to tone it down."

Then, Anderson Cooper asked Smith if he had received a promotion and the million dollars that he had asked for, would he still have quit? Smith said, yes. Here's his explanation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 MINUTES"/FROM CBS)

GREG SMITH, FORMER GOLDMAN SACHS EMPLOYEE: Well, what I can say to you is, and this may seem stupid, but I didn't go to Wall Street purely to make lots of money.

ANDERSON COOPER, "60 MINUTES": But I don't know anybody who's ever gone to Wall Street with -- and not had the idea of making money.

SMITH: No, I definitely wanted to make money. But I left because things had veered so far from what I actually believed was right that I could have just left and walked out and said nothing about it. But I -- I would have felt that it was not the right thing to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So, Christine, you said this is where he lost you?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: He lost me here. You go to Wall Street to make money. You become a finance major because you want to learn about how you make money. I mean, that's the way the whole thing works.

And I just didn't understand that part of the story, that he didn't go to Wall Street to make money. You go to Wall Street because you want power, you want money, you want -- you know how the system works and you want to be part of the leaders.

And you look at Goldman Sachs for example. Goldman Sachs, it prints money and it prints leaders. People who move on off Goldman Sachs, from treasury secretaries, they run big companies, they become very world famous -- they're ambassadors, they advise government, you know?

So, there's really this allure about the culture of Goldman that is very seductive for a young person who is interested in the world of money. That's why you go to Goldman Sachs. You like the world of money.

COHAN: And, Christine, you're absolutely right. I mean, and to think it's anything different than that, or has been anything different than that, over its, you know, 250-year history is just nonsensical.

ROMANS: What's so interesting about this case is we never hear from ex-Goldman people who tell us how the day-to-day of Goldman life. It's very rare. You know, your book was very rare and a good insight.

There are few other places where we learn about how the kingmaker of a company works. That's what I think is so interesting --

COHAN: Yes.

ROMANS: -- about this guy in this book, is we're really hearing from kind of an average foot soldier in a very important company.

COHAN: If he had left it at that, Christine, if he had left it at that and just said here's what it's like inside Goldman Sachs that would have been great. There was a book in 2001 called "Monkey Business" about what it was like inside Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, another Wall Street firm.

But Greg Smith made it into a morality tale and I'm afraid that Greg Smith does not have the moral standing to pull this off. He's a frustrated ex-employee and he now wants to make it into something else.

SAMBOLIN: All right. William Cohan, author of "Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World" -- thank you very much for joining us.

COHAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: It is 19 minutes after the hour right now. Two tech giants go head-to-head with big new product releases this week. Coming up, what's new from both Apple and Microsoft?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: We're minding your business this morning. U.S. markets poised for a bounce after a 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 morning.

Christine has a preview for us.

ROMANS: The earnings on Friday that really shook people up, especially earnings from a lot of different kinds of companies that weren't as strong as people thought and that hurt the market.

We're looking for tech earnings and a lot of tech news this week, you guys. So, this will be a big week for tech.

We're going to have quarterly earnings from Yahoo! after the closing bell, Facebook on Tuesday. Facebook employees, by the way, many of them will become millionaires on Thursday when they can start selling some of their shares. Apple earnings on Thursday, and Amazon on Thursday, as well.

And a big week for tech in terms of new product releases. You probably heard an awful lot about the iPad mini. Well, we'll find out for sure what it looks like and how big that screen is on Tuesday, and a lot of folks talking about the Microsoft Windows 8 product release. That this doesn't look like your -- any of your windows.

BERMAN: It is so different.

ROMANS: It is. So that will be a real interesting kind of new development to watch.

SAMBOLIN: Looking very different.

ROMANS: You're looking different, more like --

BERMAN: Different different.

ROMANS: It's different. It really looks a lot different than all the others. We'll see that sort of start button. I mean, some of the things you're really used to won't be there. Another story that I'm following this week, guys. There's been just a complete lack of public officials comment about the payroll tax holiday. That was meant to be a temporary stimulus measure to put some money into your pocket, remember? Put it in your paycheck.

We've had it for two years. When we go over, or if we don't go over the fiscal cliff, doesn't matter, hardly anybody believes that the payroll tax holiday is going to be extended.

And the bottom line for you is that means you're going to have, you know, you're going to have a smaller paycheck next year. This is how much smaller. JPMorgan Chase is saying that it's going to cut economic activity.

The House Ways and Means Committee has hopefully put together a list of how much it actually equates so. Something like 333 tall Starbucks lattes, 123 movie tickets, 262 gallons of gas, 1,200 bags of skittles. That's just kind of a sort of a cute and frivolous way of telling you that, if you don't have that money in your paycheck, you're not going to be buying things in the economy and that's something that could slow growth a little bit next year.

But if you were banking on it, please readjust your budget, because I don't think this one is going to last.

BERMAN: What was the one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: The one thing about your money: national average gas prices fell more than a penny in the last 24 hours according to AAA. The average now, the new for regular, $3.57. And oil analysts are telling us they expect a drop in the further -- to drop further weeks in part because of slowing demand.

So, we'll see if it's true. But a couple of big oil analysts are saying you're going to see gas prices drop into Thanksgiving.

SAMBOLIN: I hope so.

ROMANS: Me, too. I know.

SAMBOLIN: Appreciate that.

Twenty-six minutes past the hour. Real-life drama for George Clooney. Coming up, the Hollywood superstar's role in the trial of an embattled world leader caught up in a sex scandal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Debate night in America. Foreign policy is the focus on tonight's final face-off in Florida.

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

SAMBOLIN: And it's judgment day for Lance Armstrong. We expect to learn in less than an hour if the fallen will -- if this fallen guy will lose his Tour de France titles.

Good morning. Welcome back. I'm so sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. I'm good. How are you this morning?

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. I'm over here.

It's 30 minutes half the hour right now. We're talking politics.

President Obama and Mitt Romney going head-to-head tonight in their third and final debate. This time focusing exclusively on foreign policy.

Now, with the election just 15 days away, the two candidates are exactly tied. That's according to a new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" national poll among likely voters, which has the candidates each at 47 percent. All locked up.

Back with us to discuss more on this, this morning, CNN contributor and Republican strategist, Ana Navarro, and CNN political analyst Roland Martin.

Let's start talking about polls. Why not? Let's talk polls. We show the national poll out there right now. The debate tonight is in Florida.

Our latest CNN/ORC poll shows that race down there, super close, Mitt Romney with a one-point edge. But that's essentially a dead heat.

Ana, that is your home state. What's the assessment of the Florida situation right now?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Let me tell you, it feels a lot different than it felt four years ago when Barack Obama had a clear lead in the state. I think President Obama is just off with enough groups to erase the lead he had four years ago.

By that I mean he's just off with Hispanics. He's just of with the youth. He's just off with seniors. He's just off with women, of where he was four years ago. That could cost him Florida.

Also, I must say, the Romney folks have an incredible on-the-ground effort going on in Florida, much more than what we had four years ago, in part because they have the money to compete. They've been able to go to toe-to-toe with the Obama machinery and it's making a huge difference in my state.

BERMAN: Roland, there are people, including Nate Silver of "The New York Times" asking the question, not suggesting, but at least asking it, saying does President Obama need Florida? So just pull up stakes and leave Florid and campaign elsewhere?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No. First of all, one of the reasons you don't pull up stakes because you still need Romney to compete in Florida in terms of resources. The last thing you want to do is pull up stakes and allow Romney say, OK, fine, I don't have to be as aggressive as well, I now can redirect resources elsewhere.

If you look at the map in terms of what gets you to 270. That's what this is all about. This is not trying to replicate 2008 where you want to get 365 Electoral College votes.

And so, if you're looking at the Obama campaign, they're looking at multiple scenarios. They're looking at winning New Mexico in the west, Iowa in the Midwest, along with Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania. You win those states you win re-election. That's what it boils down to.

So you're still compete in Virginia and North Carolina and in Florida. But you know exactly what's numero uno for the Obama campaign.

BERMAN: It was a big weekend for newspaper endorsements. Newspapers around the country, including key battleground states, came out with who they support. For Mitt Romney, he picked up some endorsements in Florida, "The Orlando Sentinel", "Tampa Tribune". In Pennsylvania, "The Pittsburgh Tribune Review", "Manchester Union Leader", "Columbus Dispatch".

President Obama with a bunch of newspapers, also, including "The Cleveland Plain Dealer", "Akron Beacon Journal" in Ohio, and "The Denver Post".

Roland, newspapers are not what they used to be. Do the endorsements still matter?

MARTIN: 2004, President George W. Bush's wins Ohio by 110,000 votes, he's re-elected. 2008, Senator Obama wins North Carolina by 14,000 votes. In the end by less than 1 percent, barely loses Missouri to Senator John McCain.

So when you're in a tight election, hey, if an endorsement could potentially give you 5,000, 10,000 votes, trust me, you do not mind that endorsement, because every vote is going to count. And don't forget, I've been pushing, against voter suppression as well, voter ID laws, also going to have an impact who turns out. You need every vote because we might be sitting here saying somebody's going to win a state by a very small margin.

BERMAN: Ana, just quickly. I know you're not as big of a fan of the newspaper endorsements as being important right now. But still, they're better to have than not to have, correct?

NAVARRO: Oh, you know, absolutely. It's better to have a frosted cupcake than an unfrosted cupcake.

But, you know, if you take a look at how much the candidates have invested in getting the newspaper endorsements, you see that they don't have the same significance that they did before. I remember, John, when candidates used to go and sit with newspaper editorial board after newspaper editorial board after newspaper editorial board in some of the important cities and important newspapers around the country. That just doesn't happen anymore.

I think most people are like me, and go to the newspapers to see the endorsements of candidates that we don't know. Things like judgeships, maybe state legislators, or some local races, amendments, constitutional charter things, but not the presidential where we have such an overflow of information from so many different sources.

BERMAN: Ana Navarro, CNN political analyst and also Roland Martin here with us as well -- so good to see you today. We'll talk with you more I'm sure as this week goes on. It is dead tied right now. There is a lot to talk about.

Be sure to keep it on CNN throughout the day for the best political reporting on TV. Our special live coverage of the third and final debate begins at 7:00 Eastern Time.

SAMBOLIN: And in about a half hour, cycling'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 piece, 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."

Armstrong's attorney called the report a one-sided hatchet job.

Actor George Clooney's been called to testify on behalf of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who is on trial for allegedly paying an underage prostitute for sex. The girl claims she saw Clooney at one of Berlusconi's sex parties. Clooney denies being present. He is scheduled to testify on Friday.

BERMAN: People on the West Coast bundling up with a winter storm closing in. Yes, winter storm closing in. Alexandra Steele is in for Rob Marciano today.

Hey, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, good morning.

I'm talking poles, too, but ski poles. Just what they're going to be using. Hey, maybe this will portend an active and healthy ski season to the West. In Colorado, places like A-Basin actually already open.

All right. So, here's the big picture. Here comes all this moisture, certainly cold enough, the white delineating where the snow is. Where we're going to see it, really in northern California, the Siskiyou, the Sierra, and southern Oregon as well.

As we move towards the next two days, we're going to watch it move into the Bitterroots of Idaho. But here in California and, of course, in southern Oregon, we could see a foot of snow above 5,500 feet. So a healthy first winter storm although not officially in winter yet.

And also, we've got to look to the Tropics. Our tropical season in the Atlantic goes until November 30th. So we're not out of the woods yet. Actually, this time of year, we look a little bit closer to home.

As if on cue, look what we've got, an 80 percent chance of development. What we're seeing in the Caribbean, watch this. These are the computer models. We call this the spaghetti models. You can obviously see why.

This is where the models think that this storm system will go. And you can see the consensus here. Look at it rolling over Jamaica. Now, this system is huge -- so wind, rain, flooding rains, potentially, and even towards the Bahamas, and even one takes it just east of Miami.

So, certainly have to keep an eye on this, because as close as it gets to the Eastern Seaboard, it could be so impactful because the storm is so big. So, certainly something to keep a watch on as we head toward the end of this week and for the weekend -- guys.

BERMAN: All right, Alexandra Steele, thank you so much.

STEELE: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-seven minutes past the hour. Libya was the most contentious part of last week's presidential debate and the candidates could pick up exactly where they left off in tonight's foreign policy debate. Coming up, what each man needs to do to come out on top.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: It's Monday. Look who's here -- Soledad O'Brien joins us --

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey!

BERMAN: -- with a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT."

O'BRIEN: Yes, I am. Good morning.

On "STARTING POINT" this morning, starts in just about 19 minutes, President Obama, Mitt Romney will be facing off in their final debate. That's tonight. This time, in the key swing state of Florida, with a new poll that puts the candidates in a dead heat. So who's going to come out on top on foreign policy?

We'll talk this morning with Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, Stephanie Cutter with the Obama campaign and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

We know the presidential campaign makes for great political humor. All the joking around, does it distract from the real issues? Of course, it doesn't. We're going to chat with comedian D.L. Huguely about that straight ahead this morning.

And decision day for Lance Armstrong. The International Cycling Union is expected to ban him for life and strip him of his seven Tour de France titles in the wake of that doping scandal. We'll bring you the very latest on that as well.

All right at the top of the hour.

BERMAN: Big day.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

SAMBOLIN: It is 42 minutes past the hour.

Foreign affairs will be front and center at tonight's third and final presidential debate. It's a last chance for President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney to make their case directly to the American people. Each man's world view will be in the spotlight as they square off on Iran, the Middle East and terrorism. That's just to name a few of the hot topics.

CNN foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott live in Washington for us this morning.

Got lots of questions for you.

So, first off, what are the vulnerabilities of both men given the focus on foreign policy tonight? And what does each of these men need to accomplish?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Zoraida, I think for President Obama, he has some very good successes to deal with. He can deal with the killing of Osama bin Laden. This pivot to Asia, which I think has had some very good successes in terms of the U.S. being very -- the U.S. being very strong in Asia, and kind of countering China.

But I think that some of the vulnerabilities that President Obama has and certainly Mitt Romney will be able to pounce on these tonight, are what's going on in the Middle East. You have the crisis in Syria going on right now. Thousands of people, over 30,000 people being killed. U.S. not really having a big plan for dealing with that.

And also, certainly, the attack in Libya, on the U.S. consulate in Libya. There are questions remaining about how the U.S. dealt with intelligence and security leading up to the attack, and how it led up after the attack.

For Governor Romney, I think he doesn't have a lot of foreign policy experience. Certainly, President Obama is going to talk about his lack of experience, even though he led the U.S. Olympic committee. President Obama is going to say he doesn't have any experience.

But at the same time I think although Governor Romney has laid out some issues of foreign policy, he really hasn't laid out a clear idea of how he would rule in the world, how to use American power in the world.

He said that America must lead. It needs to bring America back to its glory days. But he's very short on specifics of how he would do that -- really just using a lot of catch phrases, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. You mentioned Libya. And there is a new report from "The Wall Street Journal" about the president's intelligence briefings on Libya.

And it says, quote, "President Barack Obama was told in his daily intelligence briefing for more than a week after the consulate siege in Benghazi that the assault grew out of a spontaneous protest, despite conflicting reports from witnesses and other sources that began to cast doubt on the accuracy of that assessment, almost from the start."

That report was not directed by the CIA until September 22nd. And does that take some of the pressure off President Obama heading into tonight's debate?

LABOTT: I think it does a little bit. And you've seen over the last kind of week and a half to two weeks that the administration has kind of been throwing the intelligence community under the bus, if you will.

Vice President Biden, in his debate, kind of spoke a little bit about the intelligence that they had and other administration officials saying that the intelligence assessments that the CIA gave them were wrong. I think it takes a little bit of heat in terms of how they change from whether this was a protest, whether it does.

But it doesn't explain why a couple of days after these reports about a protest started to change, you saw in the media that there were a lot of diverting views from various agencies; the State Department was definitely contradicting that, why the administration didn't proactively look for something a little bit more concrete, and why it kept going on with this assessment, Zoraida.

So I think it takes a little bit of heat off but there's still a lot of questions, not just about this whole idea of what the administration said, but the intelligence community as a whole, intelligence failures, and also security at the embassy. So there is certainly a lot more questions that the administration has to answer.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Elise Labott live in Washington for us. Thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Forty-six minutes after the hour right now.

It's happening to girls, and now, boys as well, kids hitting puberty earlier than ever. But why? And can parents do anything to stop it? Should they? A closer look coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. President Obama and Mitt Romney face off on foreign policy at tonight's third and final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida. You are looking at live pictures of the debate hall. Both men spent the weekend prepping for the high stakes showdown with polls showing the race a virtual dead heat.

Tonight's debate will be moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS and will consist of six 15-minute segments, each starting with a question, followed by two-minute answers from the candidates. Our special live coverage of tonight's presidential debate begins at 7:00 pm Eastern time.

Missouri Republican Todd Akin is 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 his controversial comments about legitimate rape. Listen to what he said about McCaskill at a fundraiser Saturday. This is in Springfield, Missouri.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TODD AKIN (R), MO.: So she goes to Washington, D.C., and it's a little bit like, you know, 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)

SAMBOLIN: Since Akin made that remark there's been no comment from McCaskill or the Missouri Republicans.

BERMAN: 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 Zina 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.

SAMBOLIN: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg predicts a whole lot of sharing in the next decade. On Saturday he told a packed hall at Stanford University that people will be sharing 1,000 times as many things in 2022 as they do now, not just for keeping in touch but for interacting with brands as well. If he's right, Facebook's future could be pretty bright.

BERMAN: Some Sunday night football action, the Pittsburgh Steelers were down four starters but despite a sloppy first half they managed to keep things close against the Cincinnati Bengals. Then in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 17, Chris Rainey's first NFL touchdown proved to be the game winner. It's good way to get your first, as the Steelers went on to beat the Bengals 24-17.

Fifty-one minutes after the hour right now. The American Academy of Pediatrics says boys are reaching puberty earlier -- much earlier. And the news comes after studies show girls also hitting puberty earlier.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now live from Atlanta to explain.

Elizabeth, how much earlier are we talking about here for boys?

ELIZABETH COHEN, SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a pretty significant chunk of time, John. It's about six months to two years earlier than in studies that looked at previous decades.

You know what's interesting? It's different by race. So let's take a look at these specific numbers.

When you look at African-American boys, this study found they were hitting puberty at around a little over 9 years old; for white boys it was a little over 10 years old. Hispanic boys were just a tad earlier, 10.4 years old. And when pediatricians see this data they think, you know, maybe parents need to be having that talk with their boys a little sooner than what they might have done.

BERMAN: I suppose the zillion-dollar question here, Elizabeth, is why? Why is this happening earlier?

COHEN: Right. That is what everybody wants to know and no one's quite sure. There are all sorts of theories out there. You know, perhaps it's hormones in our food, hormones in our environment. Perhaps it's because boys, like girls, are fatter than they used to be. And fat plays a role in hormone production.

But you know what? We just don't know. And that's the next big question to try to answer.

BERMAN: You know, what do parents do about this? What should they do with this information? Should you try to keep this from happening? Is there anything you can do?

COHEN: Early puberty in girls has proved to be detrimental psychologically and physically in many ways. And so some doctors would say, yes, try to keep it -- stave that puberty off for, you know, until it's a little bit later. We asked a doctor at the American Academy of Pediatrics, what do you tell your patients?

She said I tell them there's no guaranteed way to stave off puberty but, she says, if you want to, you can do these two things, you can not use products that have BPA in them and you can also eat foods that are hormone-free like meat and milk. That's not necessarily going to help. But, there's no harm in doing these things.

BERMAN: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, this study getting a lot of attention. Thanks for giving us some answers this morning.

COHEN: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: Fifty-three minutes past the hour. Today's best advice is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: It's not exactly the 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 also with fellow students. And they get higher grades to boot. The author says Twitter is changing the way we experience what we read and what we write.

BERMAN: Pay to pray? "The Washington Post" says, as of October 9th, Tim Tebow now owns the trade mark for Tebowing. Yes, it's true. Tebow says he didn't acquire the trademark for financial gain; he just wants to control how it's used and make sure it's used the right way.

SAMBOLIN: I'm confused. How do you control that?

BERMAN: That will be interesting to see.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. All right. We're going to wrap it up as always with "Best Advice".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Richard Socarides stopped by, the Democratic strategist, and this is what he told us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD SOCARIDES, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, the best advice I ever got was from my old boss, President Bill Clinton, who told me, if you've got an idea you believe in, never give up. Don't give up pushing it.

He told me this in the middle of the impeachment proceeding and it was in reference to the fact that he was not giving up. And I was amazed at his strength and his stamina during that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That's a pretty big name drop there. That's my old boss, Bill Clinton who told me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the middle of an impeachment proceeding.

BERMAN: My friend, the pope, once said to me --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anyway, we love Richard Socarides.

SAMBOLIN: It's good advice nonetheless.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: That is all for EARLY START today. I'm John Berman

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

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SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Our STARTING POINT this morning: the final showdown. President Obama and Mitt Romney meet for their third and final debate. It's tonight in Boca Raton in Florida. And it's all about who's strongest on foreign policy, as a new poll puts the candidates in a dead heat.

A wake-up call. The Goldman Sachs employee with the incredible public resignation was on TV for the first time, revealing what he calls a toxic culture at the company. But we'll hear from one man who says Greg Smith conned everybody.

Decision day for Lance Armstrong: he could learn in just a few minutes if he's going to lose his record seven Tour de France titles over those scathing doping accusations. We'll bring you the very latest on that.

We've got a packed show ahead this morning for full debate coverage. Maryland Congressman Chris van Hollen will join us, Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, Stephanie Cutter of the Obama campaign. The former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is our guest and comedian D.L. Hughley will join us.

It's Monday, October 22nd, and STARTING POINT begins right now.