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Fight to the Finish; Trouble in Paradise; Emails Shed Light on Benghazi Attack; "Victim Number One" Speaks Out; World Series Game 1 Tonight;

Aired October 24, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: In the stretch in a very tight race -- President Obama and Mitt Romney covering all the swing state grounds they can with less than two weeks to go now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Trouble in paradise. Tropical storm Sandy almost a hurricane in the Caribbean. Could Miami, New York and Boston be next?


And the fall classic -- fans in Detroit and San Francisco just counting the hours until tonight's game. It is game one of the World Series.

BERMAN: It's about time.

SAMBOLIN: They are hyped.

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.

And we're going to begin with the sprint to the finish line. Over the next 13 days, President Obama and Mitt Romney will crisscross the country, hopscotch each other, even leap-frog campaign planes -- all the metaphors you like as they try to lock down votes in states still considered toss-ups.

This morning, the President kicks off a two-day, around-the-clock blitz across six battleground states. He begins with a rally in Davenport, Iowa. Then, it's on to Denver, Colorado. Then a stop in Los Angeles for a "Tonight Show" taping there, not a swing state there. But then, he's back finally to a late-night event in Las Vegas.

As for Mitt Romney, he has campaign events in Reno, Nevada, this afternoon, and tonight, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

It is a mouthful and CNN's Dana Bash following this fight to the finish. She joins us live in here in the studio.

And, Dana, what is the map? What is the travels that these candidates are doing over the next two, three, four, five days tell us about the state of the race?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It tells the number of battleground states is relatively big considering where we are now. And if you look at the polls in the states where they are going -- obviously Ohio is the biggest, but also Colorado, Virginia, Florida, beyond. I mean, they are just absolutely neck and neck. You cannot tell who is going to win any of these states.

So they have been out, after the debates, really trying to make their closing arguments. Let's listen to some of what both candidates have been saying.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Four more years like the last four years would continue to have a president playing hide-and-seek, trying to find a plan to get the economy going and to create jobs. This is a president who's approached of creating jobs as another stimulus. How did the first one work out?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can choose a foreign policy that's reckless and wrong, or you can choose one that is steady and strong. You can choose to turn back the clock 50 years for immigrants and gays and women, or in this election, you can decide we will remain an inclusive, generous country.


BASH: So you heard there's the kind of a general closing arguments, Romney about jobs and Obama saying you don't want to turn back the clock. But they -- both are having kind of this difficult issue of needing to get out their bases, which means you need to tack right or left if you're Romney or Obama, but also needing to appeal to that very, very narrow slice of undecided voters. And the two are in many ways contradictory with their message.

BERMAN: They sure are.

And as for appealing to the base in that vein, there was a really interesting ad that was released just seconds ago by the Obama campaign that kind of invokes ghosts of campaigns' past. Let's watch.


NARRATOR: Five hundred and thirty-seven, a number of votes that changed the course of American history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Florida is to close to call.

NARRATOR: The difference between what was and what could have been.

So, this year, if you're thinking that your vote doesn't count, that it won't matter, well, back then there were probably at least 537 people who felt the same way.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: You know, that's a dog whistle.

BASH: Oh, yes.

BERMAN: I mean, any time a Democratic ad brings up 2000 and the Al Gore recount and everything else, what does that mean to you?

BASH: It means that there are still people who feel like they got robbed, and this is absolutely an appeal to them to try to work harder, to knock on an extra door, to make an extra phone call. It is a direct appeal to the base.

It is cliche to say turnout matters. It really, really does matter in this particular race for both parties, but particularly for Democrats who have kind of -- you know, the Obama campaign has this vaunted get- out-the-vote operation and they are relying on that big time, especially -- Florida, yes -- but especially in the state of Ohio.

BERMAN: Ohio, Nevada, Iowa, a lot of states like that.

In addition to the new ad, they're also having a new weapon in their arsenal. It's a glossy, 20-page book. It's an agenda for the future, or is it?

BASH: Not so much. I mean, to me, nothing really illustrates how concerned the Obama campaign is that some of Romney's attacks are penetrating that the fact that two weeks before the election, they suddenly put out this glossy, 20-page explanation of what he's going to do in the next four years. That has been one of the top attacks of the Romney campaign. And it is something that according to polls people are saying, you know what, he hasn't really, clearly articulated it.

They are going to put it under 3.5 million doors. They're going to get it out there just to say, look, we do have something that we have -- a plan for the future.

The problem is, it's not anything that he has not said before. It's just packaged in a really nice way.

And what did the Romney campaign spokesman say? It was a glossy panic button.


BERMAN: But 3.5 million copies of it, they are sending it out to a lot of people in a hurry.

BASH: A lot.

BERMAN: All right. Dana Bash, always good to have you here.

BASH: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: We do have one programming note: CNN will profile the presidential candidates this weekend. Sunday night at 8:00 Eastern, it's "Romney Revealed: Faith, Family and the Road to Power", followed at 9:30 Eastern by "Obama Revealed: The Man, the President." That starts at Sunday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

SAMBOLIN: Five minutes past the hour.

New information this morning about last month's deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. According to e-mails obtained by CNN, the White House and the State Department were informed of a militant Islamic group that had claimed credit for the attack. This was two hours after it began. And U.S. diplomats were informing officials in Washington about the unfolding assault while it was happening.

CNN, as I said, has those e-mails. Foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott will discuss what they say and the possible fallout when she joins us in the next half hour, right here on EARLY START.

BERMAN: A former CIA officer takes a plea deal, admitting to one charge that he illegally revealed the identity of a covert intelligence officer. Under the agreement, John Kiriakou will serve a 30-month sentence. Kiriakou has also admitted he revealed the name of a different CIA employee to reporters and that he lied to a review board about a book he was writing.

Sentencing will all happen in January.

SAMBOLIN: The U.S. Supreme Court upholds a stay of execution for a Florida man convicted of killing eight people in two separate shootings. John Errol Ferguson was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection last night, but his lawyer successfully filed a flurry of last-minute appeals arguing that he is mentally insane. Ferguson has been on death row for 34 years now.

Convicted serial pedophile Jerry Sandusky is spending his first full day in a new Pennsylvania prison. The former Penn State coach was transferred to the state lockup at Camp Hill yesterday.

Meantime, victim number one is revealing his side of the story. In his just-released book, "Silent No More", Aaron Fisher describes his confusion when the abuse began. He first met Sandusky at the age of 11. The book also details the three-year fight to get justice.

And coming up in about a half hour, CNN contributor and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for "The Patriot News", Sara Ganim is going to join us. She broke that Sandusky story and has read the book. And she will have more about that in just a few minutes.

BERMAN: A deadly shark attack off the coast of Santa Barbara in California. Authorities say the victim, 39-year-old Francisco Solaria (ph), was riding the waves yesterday with friends off surf beach at Vandenberg Air Force Base when he was attacked by that shark. He was bit in the upper torso. His friends tried to rescue him, but they say it was too late.

SAMBOLIN: And a powerful October snowstorms stranding drivers. Some of them were stranded for nine hours. This is what it looked like Tuesday along Interstate 80, near Truckee, California, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Drivers were eventually able to get out after crews cleared away snow in an area where road construction had already narrowed the freeway down to one lane.

BERMAN: Nothing sweeter than October baseball. The San Francisco Giants host the Detroit Tigers in game one of the World Series. That's tonight. The Tigers hand the ball to Justin Verlander and his 100-mile-per-hour fastball. The Detroit ace has allowed just two runs in three post-season starts this fall, that's really good.

And for the Giants now, 6-0 in the postseason when facing elimination. It will be veteran lefty Barry Zito and his curveball on the hill.

The Vegas oddmakers have the Tigers are the favorite in the series. I'm sorry to tell you. It's true. First pitch at 8:00 tonight.

SAMBOLIN: You got to be kidding me.

All right. How is this for scary? A possible hurricane on Halloween?

BERMAN: That's scary.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Coming up, the latest on where tropical storm Sandy could be headed next.


SAMBOLIN: Twelve minutes past the hour.

Checking the Tropics: Sandy is still a tropical storm but getting stronger. The storm is expected to reach hurricane strength as it creeps closer to Jamaica. People there have been warned to brace and forecasters are already saying the East Coast could get it as well. Say it isn't so.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano is monitoring Sandy's every move.

You are joining us live from Atlanta. What do you have for us?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, I'll tell you this -- the folks like me in the meteorological community are in a tizzy because this thing, although the first thing it's going to do is hit Jamaica and the northern Caribbean Islands, it could make a run at the U.S. And for this time of year, that would be extraordinary. And it also has potential to do some crazy things as we get closer to Halloween.

Some longer-range computer models are doing funky things across the Northeast coastline. Either way, it's going to be a large storm. Already is.

Tropical storm Sandy right now has winds of 60 miles an hour. It's 120 miles south of Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica, specifically, heading directly north. So it will hit Jamaica later on today, likely as a hurricane. We are almost there. So hurricane warnings are posted for Jamaica and also for parts of Cuba. We are looking at tropical storm warnings there. Tropical storm watches now have been posted and that's new as of 5:00 a.m. for the east Florida coastline. We don't expect it to make a direct hit there, but the wind field will be large enough to look at tropical storm conditions. Then certainly big, big surf across the entire Eastern Seaboard as we go towards the weekend, a fairly slow mover.

Here's where the computer models specifically are indicating as we get past day four and five, there are all sorts of crazy things, including bringing it to the Northeast. Not necessarily as a hurricane but some sort of strong storm. Climatologically, these are the favored tracks for October into November, and most of them put them out.

By the way, we have to see Tony, tropical storm Tony. This was supposed to be a quiet year, guys. It has blown up to be very active. Tony is not going to bother anybody, but we are keeping a close eye on Sandy. We'll have another update in 30 minutes.

SAMBOLIN: Are you talking about being a tizzy? Mr. Berman here is in a tizzy with the possibilities here.

BERMAN: We don't want another fall storm up here. But if you are in a tizzy for a storm that can do funky things, we are all worried.

MARCIANO: This could be a toe-curler. We'll keep you updated.

SAMBOLIN: Toe-curler? Thank you for that.

BERMAN: It is now 14 minutes after the hour. Time to get you up to date on all the top stories.

Thirteen days and counting. The Obama and Romney campaigns are laser- focused on the battlegrounds and the still undecided voters, they could well determine the outcome of the presidential election. The president will hit six swing states over the next 48 hours. Romney campaigns in two of them today, Nevada and Iowa.

SAMBOLIN: Florida investigators are trying to figure out who sent bogus letters to voters questioning their citizenship and registration. This, of course, two weeks before the presidential election. Florida secretary of state says people in 23 counties have received these letters written on fake supervisor of elections letterhead. They have no return address, but do carry a postmark from Seattle, Washington.

BERMAN: That's disturbing.

A huge document dump reveals the state of Massachusetts knew of reports that compounding pharmacy NECC was breaking prescription laws for the past decade. The documents show complaints from doctors and even complaints from officials in Iowa, Wisconsin and Texas, but Massachusetts failed to take tough action.

NECC is behind the nationwide meningitis outbreak. Now up to 304 cases and four other infections, including 23 deaths in 19 states. SAMBOLIN: Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. returning to the Mayo Clinic for what a spokesman says is a follow-up evaluation. The 47-year-old Jackson has been away from Congress since May. He received treatment at the Mayo Clinic for depression and bipolar disorder.

BERMAN: And hall-of-fame catcher Carlton Fisk charged with DUI in Illinois. Police say Fisk was found unconscious behind the wheel of his vehicle, which was found in the middle of a cornfield. The former White Sox and Red Sox great was issued a citation, posted bond and was released. Fisk has a day in court next month.

SAMBOLIN: Sixteen minutes past the hour. It's time for "Early Reads".

"Hey, guys, I'm still alive." Oh, my gosh! Mourners in Brazil shocked when a 41-year-old man showed up to his own funeral. The family says the man's brother identified the body at the city morgue as Gilberto Ramos (ph) when words spread around town that a car washer had been shot dead. Ramos and the actual victim were both car washers and the family says both men resembled each other.

"The Daily Mail" in the U.K. said some mourners fainted when he walked in. Some were so scared that they actually ran away.

BERMAN: He went to his own funeral to clear things up?

SAMBOLIN: I think so. But the brother identifying him at the morgue?

BERMAN: So strange about this story.

All right. Say goodbye to the University of South Dakota Fighting Sioux. In "The Minneapolis Star Tribune," we are learning a half dozen signs proclaiming "home of the Fighting Sioux" was removed from the campus hockey arena. It's part of the settlement with the NCAA to retire the school's nickname since Native Americans consider the mascot offensive. The signs are being replaced with one saying, "home of North Dakota hockey". The school won't have a new nickname until 2015.

SAMBOLIN: And for an expanded look at all of our top stories, head to our blog,

BERMAN: OK. Attention shoppers: credit card information compromised at Barnes & Noble. Where it happened and how, coming up.


BERMAN: We're minding your business this morning.

And there's a lot of volatility in the U.S. stock futures trading this morning. The Dow dropped about 240 points yesterday after several big companies lowered their earnings forecasts, but overall, markets are still up for 2012. The S&P 500, which is the best indicator for stocks in your 401(k), is up more than 10 percent so far this year. So you have that going for you. SAMBOLIN: Yes.

And new this morning, a data breach at Barnes & Noble. The bookseller says credit card information from 63 stores is at risk. That breach was through pin devices in stores in nine different states. So they have California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

No word yet on how many customers' data was stolen. Barnes & Noble is telling customers to change their pin numbers and monitor their bank activity closely.

BERMAN: And the new iPad mini is out. Apple unveiled their smaller tablet device yesterday. As expected, it has a 7.85-inch screen, smaller than the regular iPad but bigger than the more compact tablet from Amazon, Google and Samsung.

The starting price, a little bigger, too, with $329.

Apple also announced a fourth-generation iPad will be out six months from now. So, get in line tomorrow.

SAMBOLIN: I like the idea of it being smaller. It fits in purses better.

BERMAN: That's the idea.


All right. And Facebook stock getting a boost overnight. The social network released earnings after the closing bell yesterday and they came in just above analysts' estimates. Welcomed news for the company which has been struggling since it went public.

Facebook stock is up 10 percent in premarket trading this morning.

BERMAN: All right. Twenty-two minutes after the hour right now.

And a Kennedy cousin doing time for murder. He has a chance at freedom today. More on the Michael Skakel case coming up.

And if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop or mobile phone. Just go to


BERMAN: The Libya timeline. Newly obtained e-mails show what the Obama administration was being told about the Benghazi attack and when.

SAMBOLIN: A swing state sprint and a really tight race. President Obama and Mitt Romney crisscrossing the country trying to sway undecided voters.

BERMAN: And Sandy gaining strength. The tropical storm about to become a hurricane that could threaten the East Coast. That storm is doing some really strange things we are told this morning.

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

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

Twenty-seven minutes past the hour.

We have new information about the attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. This was last month.

According to e-mails obtained by CNN, the State Department and the White House were informed of an Islamic militant group that was taking responsibility for that assault two hours after it began. In one of those e-mails U.S. diplomats told officials in Washington the group Ansar al-Sharia claimed credit on Facebook and Twitter and was calling for another attack on the U.S. embassy in Tripoli.

Foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott live from Washington, D.C., this morning.

Thanks for being with us, Elise.


SAMBOLIN: So take us through the email chain. What do the messages say and how much do they reveal about what intelligence officials in Washington knew on that particular day?

LABOTT: Well, Zoraida, I think everyone would admit that in the kind of fog of what's going on, you know, what turned out what we thought the initial night didn't turn out to be what happened. But it definitely describes in real time what the embassy thought was going on.

Now, the first e-mail, let's take a look at the subject. "U.S. Mission in Benghazi Under Attack." This was sent on September 11th at 4:00 Eastern Time, which would be 10:00 in Tripoli. And it says, "The embassy Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots, explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens who's currently in Benghazi and four mission personnel are in the compound safe haven."

And then it goes on a few minutes later. "Update: U.S. Mission in Benghazi" sent a half hour later. It reports that, "The embassy Tripoli reports the firing at the U.S. diplomatic mission has stopped and the in Benghazi has stopped and the compound has been cleared. A response team is on the site attempting to locate COM personnel."

Now, Zoraida, it turns out that we know that this attack was going on for hours after. So, initially they thought the firing had stopped outside the embassy but what we later learned is that these militants breached the compound, set this building on fire where Ambassador Stevens and the other personnel were. That's where he and Sean Smith died. Now, later that evening, subject, "Update: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility." This was sent at 6:07 p.m., which would be about midnight Tripoli time. It says, "Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on the embassy Tripoli."

So, Zoraida, I think this shows that even that night, that the U.S. knew that perhaps this group Ansar al-Sharia with ties to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, this al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa. It shows they knew militants were involved.

Of course, over the coming days and weeks there was a lot of back and forth about whether there was a preplanned attack.

SAMBOLIN: Elise, who did these messages go to? Is it possible they went to the President and Vice President, that they knew about the early reports? Because that's the big question, when did you know what?

LABOTT: That's right. Well, this was sent out it seems by the State Department operations center. So this went to the White House Situation Room, many officials at the White House, FBI, Pentagon, CIA, many different agencies.

I don't think President Obama or Vice President Biden would have gotten these messages, per se, but certainly the President and Vice President were briefed that night. And certainly this claim of responsibility, the idea there were armed militants, I'm sure they were notified that night about what was going on.

But what the assessment was, what the intelligence was about how this attack came to be, was it preplanned? Was there a protest? These are the kind of things that shook out over the coming days.

SAMBOLIN: I have one more question for you, we reported back in September that this militant group, in particular Ansar al-Sharia, had been linked to the Benghazi attack. A senior intelligence official told us that the group could be one of multiple organizations responsible.

Do these e-mails alter in any way what we have learned so far?

LABOTT: I think we are still trying to assess really what happened. I mean, this group claimed responsibility then later it said it wasn't involved, now certainly some members of the group have been arrested, one of them being detained in Tunisia.

So I think that this group or people related to this particular militia and indeed have links to al Qaeda and Islamic Maghreb are still being fingered as having involved in the attack.

But I think that at this point, everybody knows there was some element of, you know, looking at the U.S. embassy, maybe they did seize the day of September 11th and those protests around the world, but I think they are still looking at Ansar al-Sharia and its friends, if you will, as being involved in the attack. SAMBOLIN: All right, Elise Labott, live in Washington for us. Thanks so much for spending some time with us this morning.

BERMAN: Thirty-two minutes after the hour right now.

And storm the battlegrounds -- President Obama and Mitt Romney hitting the trail hard with just 13 days to go until the election. The president campaigning in Florida again raised doubts about Mitt Romney's readiness to be president.


OBAMA: You can choose a foreign policy that's reckless and wrong, or you can choose one that is steady and strong.


BERMAN: Meantime, Mitt Romney stumping in Colorado sounded a familiar theme, that America cannot afford more of the same from the President.


ROMNEY: He's become the President of status quo and the policies of the President are a continuation of what we've seen over the last four years. He calls his campaign slogan "Forward". I think forewarned is a better term.


BERMAN: The Romney campaign's today in Nevada and Iowa.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-two minutes past the hour. Two teenager brothers are now facing first-degree murder charges in the death of a 12-year- old New Jersey girl. There she is.

Prosecutors say the brothers, ages 15 and 17, allegedly lured 12-year- old Autumn Pasquale to their home possibly because they wanted to steal her BMX bike. Autumn's body was found Monday in a recycling bin. She had been beaten and strangled.

BERMAN: What a tragedy.

Convicted killer Michael Skakel is seeking freedom before going in front of a parole board in Connecticut today. The nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy has served 10 years of a 20-year sentence for the 1975 bludgeoning death of his teenager neighbor, Martha Moxley.

SAMBOLIN: Three nurses at a suburban New York maternity ward testified Tuesday at the trial of Douglas Kennedy. The son of Robert F. Kennedy is accused of kicking a nurse and twisting another's arm when he tried to take his newborn son, Beau, out for some fresh air last January without the hospital's permission.

He's facing misdemeanor harassment and child endangerment charges now. One nurse says she instinctively reached out to steady the infant's bobbing head when Kennedy kicked her squarely in the pelvis. BERMAN: An apology to President Obama after Mitt Romney's oldest son. It happened at the end of Monday night's debate. You can sort of see it right there. Tagg Romney told the President he was sorry for saying he wanted to, quote, "take a swing at him" during the second presidential debate. But the best line belongs to Josh Romney who says he's been punched by Tagg a few times and, quote, "President Obama has nothing to worry about." That's what Josh said.

SAMBOLIN: That's how boys are.

All right, checking the tropics now. Tropical Storm Sandy is getting stronger, it isn't a hurricane just yet but it is expected to become one as it creeps closer to Jamaica. People there have been warned to get ready.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano monitoring Sandy's every move, calling it toe-curling this morning. And he's joining us live from Atlanta. What's the latest on this storm?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's about 100 miles south of Jamaica and once it gets through the Caribbean, that's when interesting things happen for the U.S. But first things first, it will hit Jamaica later today likely as a hurricane. It's just 5, 4 miles an hour short of that, so we're anticipating it strengthening.

It is moving to the north at 14 miles an hour. Hurricane warnings have been posted for Jamaica, eastern Cuba. Tropical storm watches are posted for the Bahamas and also now southeast Florida. Not so much for a direct hit but this thing is going to grow to be so large that the wind field will affect the eastern coast of Florida.

By the way, last time we had an October storm develop in the Caribbean, it was further to the west and that was Wilma. And that hit Florida as a Category 3. This is further to the east.

So that's why we don't think it will do that at the moment, but what it does after it gets through the Bahamas, that's what really has meteorologists kind of going "What's going to happen here?" We could see it go to the northeast as it kind of modified hybrid-type of storm, but either way, just being offshore it will have big impacts across the eastern seaboard.

Tropical Storm Tony is well offshore. Can you believe we are to the Ts? This was supposed to be a quiet season. Some showers across the northeast today. Severe thunderstorms across parts of the upper Midwest and also out west, we continue to see snow is falling across the Sierras. They had a couple feet in some cases out there. So we've got snow, we've got hurricanes, got to love October.

Guys, back up to you.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you very much, Rob.

BERMAN: 36 minutes after the hour right now. And breaking his silence in a big, big way. Victim No. 1 in the Jerry Sandusky case came out with a new book. What he's saying in his firsthand account coming up.


BERMAN: Another chapter unfolding today in the Jerry Sandusky case. The firsthand account from the man previously known only as Victim No. 1 now being made public in a new book out this week. In "Silent No More", written with the help of his mother and psychologist Michael Gillam, 18-year-old Aaron Fisher recalls years of sexual abuse before finally speaking out against the disgraced former Penn State coach.

Fisher recently spoke in an interview on ABC.


AARON FISHER, VICTIM # 1: Probably still people out there that don't believe Jerry Sandusky could do this and they might think I'm a horrible person for it.

MALE REPORTER: Do you know that you're good?

FISHER: I do. But the emotions and the effects of other people and the actions of other people are kind of shying me away from that.


BERMAN: Sara Ganim is a CNN contributor and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter with "The Patriot News" who helped first break the Penn State scandal. She is referenced several times in the new book. She's also one of the few people who has read it in its entirety already.

So let me ask you this: what were your first impressions?

SARA GANIM, REPORTER, "THE PATRIOT NEWS": Honestly, I thought the book really started out as a pretty brave account. And my first impression was that this kid has come a really long way from three or four years ago when he came forward. You can tell in the progression of the book that he just had a really difficult time.

All the victims when testifying at trial testified about having a very difficult time, but he was one of the most emotional and most hesitant and the numerous times that he was interviewed, to actually say the words and say what happened to him. And he really goes -- makes great strides in his book to explain what happened to him, to explain what the sexual abuse was like and I think to give some hope to victims who maybe are still silent.

I was really inspired by his account.

BERMAN: Sara --

GANIM: And I have to tell you, John -- go ahead.

BERMAN: He writes, he wrote six chapters by himself and in one of the chapters he wrote by himself, he wrote about when he first heard of Sandusky's conviction. He wrote this: "I didn't pump my fist in the air or let out a cheer. Instead, I pulled my car onto the shoulder of the highway. I couldn't see the road in front of me anymore through the tears. I just put my head down on the steering wheel and cried. Happy tears, but I was crying."

It gives you the sense of the emotion this kid must have felt over time.

GANIM: Right. I actually talked to his mom about minutes after that verdict came back and she says she had called her son. She actually recounted that conversation that she had with him. And so when I read that and it was an incredibly powerful moment and emotional in what he wrote in the six chapters.

But what really struck me about this book, he's on the cover and he does go into great detail about what happened to him. But the majority of the book is written by his psychologist. On a variety of topics, the one that stood out the most to me was the attacks on the Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and whether or not, it was all speculation by his psychologist, no real facts to back it up, but based on his recollection of the three-year investigation unfolding, whether or not the investigation was delayed because of political reasons, because the Governor now had been the attorney general and was actually running for office as this investigation unfolded.

And the psychologist goes through these three years and says, he talks about the emotional toll that it took on Aaron to wait that long of a time between when he first came forward to the point where he saw Jerry Sandusky being arrested. He does speculate a lot, a good amount of the book is devoted to whether or not politics played a role in this investigation.

BERMAN: All right. Sarah Ganim, reporter for "The Patriot News", a CNN contributor, and again, one of few people who has read this new book -- thank you so much for joining us this morning. Take care, Sara.

SAMBOLIN: One teen has been resting for a week. The other is of a grueling seven-game championship series. Who has the upper hand in the World Series? More on the Tigers and the Giants, coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Forty-seven minutes after the hour. Let's get you up-to- date.

President Obama and Mitt Romney will leave no stone unturned as they drive hard to the finish in a virtual dead heat. The president kicks off a two-day six-state blitz of the battlegrounds. Romney hits two critical swing states today, Nevada and Iowa.

BERMAN: The city of Auburn Hills, Michigan, says 800 absentee ballots mailed out earlier this month have not been delivered. The officials say they are not concerned about election fraud because the missing ballots are individually numbered for security purposes. They are asking Auburn Hills residents who did not get the absentee ballot yet to request another rights away. The Miami Marlins have fired manager Ozzie Guillen after finishing last in the National League East. Team officials say Guillen's controversial remarks last April when he praised Fidel Castro, they played a role in their decision. This was Guillen's first and only season as Marlins' manager. He led the Chicago White Sox to a World Series win way back in 2005.

SAMBOLIN: All right. The San Francisco Giants are headed to game one of the World Series tonight after a stunning game seven victory against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday night. They will face-off against the Detroit Tigers and their ace starting pitcher reigning American League MVP Justin Verlander. The team has been scrimmaging against Minor League prospects to keep their skills sharp.

BERMAN: Here now to give us a roundup headed into tonight's game, anchor Maggie Gray is here.

Hey, Maggie.


BERMAN: These teams are pretty different, right? I mean, the Giants barely made it to the World Series, by the skip of their teeth. Not a lot of mega stars on their team at this point.

Meanwhile, you have the Tigers on the other side with prince fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, it seems like a mismatch.

GRAY: Yes, maybe, especially when looking at game one. There's such a difference particularly with starting pitcher. You have Justin Verlander, last year's Cy Young and MVP Award winner. He's 3-0 in the World Series. He pitched a complete game shutout. He's been amazing.

Then you see Barry Zito on the other side, also former Cy Young winner back in 2002, wasn't even on the roster for the San Francisco Giants the last time they won the World Series in 2010. He's resurrected his career, so you have these kind of balancing starting pitchers, one at the peak of his career right now and one who's trying to find the old spark that he had so many years ago.

BERMAN: It is a nice comeback story, though. A lot of people wrote Barry Zito off.

GRAY: Absolutely. And they had good reason to. But now he's won 13 of the last starts. You know, the Giants won 13 of its last starts, and they've really taken a lot of (INAUDIBLE). He's come up a huge spot for San Francisco, like you said. That pitching rotation doesn't have a lot of household names unless Madison Baumburger was your next door or something.

So, they are really going to look to a guy like Zito who is in a tough spot.

SAMBOLIN: The Tigers have been waiting for the match-up. Does this work to their advantage or disadvantage? GRAY: We're going to know very, very soon. They say with baseball, your momentum is only as good as your next day's pitcher. Well, Justin Verlander is pretty good and the Giants have a significant amount of momentum. The fact they faced six elimination games this postseason and came through in every one of them. Any kind of a buzzsaw waiting there with Verlander who is dynamite, mowing guys down.

BERMAN: The Tigers actually played some scrimmages with Minor League players. This is controversial. You know, going back 70 years in baseball, Ted Williams got hurt playing in a scrimmage before the World Series, so people are resistant to this, but Leyland, the Tigers manager, thought it was worthwhile.

GRAY: Well, he knew that back when the Tigers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, 4-1. They also had a similar time off and the team came out and was completely flat. We have seen it the other way, too. The Philadelphia Phillies had a lot of time off, they went on to win a World Series, no problem.

So, I guess you really have to know your time and the makeup of that. When you have guys, like you mentioned, prince fielder, Miguel Cabrera, the lineup is so explosive, you really want to keep them going and keep them in their groove. And baseball players more than any other athlete, it is all about routine because they play so many games. You just don't want them sitting idle for a long time.

SAMBOLIN: I was just told to wrap, we have to get the Yankees in here, because Berman is a huge Yankees fan.

BERMAN: No, no.

SAMBOLIN: And he wants to know what's happening with A-Rod.

BERMAN: I'm no fan of Yankees at all.

GRAY: I thought you were a Red Sox guy.

BERMAN: I am. I hate when A-Rod overshadows what's happening in the league, but what's going to happen with Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees?

GRAY: I mean, it's a good question. He still has a lot of money left on his contract. Five years, $114 million for a 37-year-old player who had no RBI and 12 strikeouts in the postseason. So, if the Yankees can find a suitor to take A-Rod off their hands, they have to pay a significant amount of the contract in order to make the deal sweet.

BERMAN: Buyer beware.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Maggie Gray, anchor of, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

BERMAN: We have a packed hour straight ahead on EARLY START, including revealing new details on the attack the killed two U.S. diplomats and two Navy SEALs in Benghazi. What the White House knew and how early they knew it, and new questions why the message kept changing with less than two weeks until Election Day now.

SAMBOLIN: And also, she said I'm not going to die in Arby's tonight. An assistant manager flees an armed robber by climbing out of the drive-through window and is fired after 23 years with the company. So what's Arby's beef with her?

BERMAN: Plus, give your grandma a kiss today. Why she may hold the key to human evolution, not to mention a lot of good cookies.

But first, you do not X-ray vision to see the writing on the wall. Superman making a major career move in talking about the future of print media. This says it all, folks.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm waiting for music.

I'm Zoraida Sambolin, along with John Berman. And we are looking at the top CNN trends.

What's getting buzz on the Web this morning, John?

BERMAN: Because music follows you wherever you go.

SAMBOLIN: It's in my head.

BERMAN: But I love this story.

"Great Caesar's Ghost", Clark Kent is quitting the "Daily Planet." Yes, it's true. "USA Today" says that an issue 13 of the newly released "Superman" series in stores out today, Clark Kent will quit the newspaper he's been for 70 years. He gives a long diatribe on the state of journalism and the balance between news and entertainment, the role of new media, and the rise of the citizen journalist.

Yes, this is from Clark Kent. He's going to start a blog apparently.


BERMAN: Yes, it's true, Perry White and Jimmy Olson not available for comment.

SAMBOLIN: And before sky net takes over the world, there's this.


BERMAN: There's your music.

SAMBOLIN: Robotic engineers at Virginia Tech getting the Navy's humanized robot Charlie II to dance "Gangnam Style". Of course, the horse ride, the lasso, the whole thing, folks.

When the party is over the Navy sees the robot as something to help sailors fight fires at sea. BERMAN: If the robot needed to dance "Gangnam Style", they are all set.

SAMBOLIN: He needs a little more moves. He's a little stiff, don't you think?

So, to check out the top CNN trends, head to

BERMAN: Now, with the election coming up and the presidential debates finally over with, the late-night talk show hosts had plenty to talk about last night.


DAVID LETTERMAN, TV HOST: Last night, did you see the debate last night? Oh, my -- let me ask you this, did you learn anything new last night? No. No. It's the same stuff over and over.

Here's what's different, the first debate, they were at podiums. The first debate they were at podiums. The second debate, stools. Stools. Last night, chairs and desks. Chairs and desks.

Now, the next debate, yoga mats. That will be the fourth and final presidential debate.

CONAN O'BRIEN, TV HOST: As we get closer to Election Day, a lot of crazy rumors are starting to surface about the two candidates. Today, this one was going around, a man is claiming that President Obama used and sold cocaine in college.

Yes. On the bright side, if this is true, it means Obama does have business experience.

JAY LENON, TV HOST: I thought Bob Schieffer did a good job. Before the debate, Bob Schieffer instructed the audience not to clap for any reason because in his house that makes the lights go on and off, you know? Well, this is not Bob Schieffer's first time. No, he also moderated the Bush/Kerry debate in 2004. And the Lincoln/Douglas debate in 1858. So, there you go.


SAMBOLIN: EARLY START continues right now.

BERMAN: The stretch run. President Obama and Mitt Romney covering all the swing state ground they can with less than two weeks to go.

SAMBOLIN: Trouble in paradise. Tropical storm Sandy almost a hurricane in the Caribbean. Could Miami, New York and Boston be next?

BERMAN: Shaken, not stirred. The first moments of a powerful earthquake just hours ago that was caught on camera.

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

SAMBOLIN: Nice to have you with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It's just about 6:00 a.m. in the East. So, let's get started.

Up first, the battle for the battlegrounds. With just 13 campaigning days left, President Obama and Mitt Romney are swarming the states that could swing the election in their favor.

The president will hit six states. This is in the next 48 hours. Beginning today President Obama will have a rally in Davenport, Iowa, then it is on to Denver, Colorado. Then, a stop in Los Angeles for "Tonight Show" taping. And finally, a late event in Las Vegas.

As for Mitt Romney, he has campaign events in Reno, Nevada, this afternoon. And tonight in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Let me take a deep breath here. CNN's Dana Bash is following this fight to the finish. She joins us now.

They're hitting the campaign trail really hard. They're stops, what do they tell you?