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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Battling For The Battleground States; Two Deaths Blamed On Hurricane Sandy; Great White Shark Killed Surfer; Reverend Jesse Jackson Arrested In Protest; Benghazi Attack Suspect Arrested; Billion Dollar Lawsuit; Final Swing State Scramble; Lady Liberty Now More Accessible

Aired October 25, 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: What a game for Sandoval. Good morning.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Don't worry, Tigers, you still have some time, you Tigers fans.

BERMAN: Time is running out. It's just one game. You could come back. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It's nice to have you this morning. It is 6:00 a.m. in the East.

We begin with the eight key states that are up for grabs and just 12 days left to win them. Mitt Romney and President Obama are burning through their travel budgets, hop scotching the country, strategically targeting the toss up states that will send one of them to the White House.

Ohio may be the most critical. A new "Time" poll has the president leading by five points in the buck eye state on the strength of early voting that's trending in his favor.

The Romney camp has something to crow about too. CNN shifting the state of North Carolina from the true toss-up column to leaning Romney. There was another big development overnight.

The president went on "The Tonight Show" last night and jumped in hard to the battle over abortion and for women voters. CNN political reporter, Peter Hamby, joins us live from Washington this morning.

It's nice to have you, Peter. So this has to do with those comments from Indiana Senate candidate, Richard Mourdock, who suggested that pregnancy from rape was something that God intended.

PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Right. And this has been thrust into the middle of the presidential campaign, Zoraida, because Mitt Romney cut a TV ad for Richard Mourdock and of course, much of this race has been about women voters.

Like you said, President Obama jumped in hard on this last night when he was asked about it by Jay Leno. Listen to what he said to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me make a very simple proposition. Rape is rape. It is a crime. The second thing this underscores, though, is this is exactly why you don't want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women's health care decisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMBY: The Obama campaign is actually pushing this around to reporters. They sent out a press release about it after Obama made these comments. Why?

If you look at that Ohio poll that you just mentioned, Obama has a double-digit lead among women. That lead among women has varied from single digits to double digits depending upon the poll you're looking at.

But the bottom line is Obama needs that to hold if he wants to win re- election. So you're seeing there is him trying to link Governor Romney to Richard Mourdock.

And to other Republicans who have a perhaps more conservative position on abortion and a bid to soften Romney's gains among female voters in recent weeks -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: I want to talk to you about something else that was quite talker. Yesterday, the president also responded to Donald Trump's so- called "October Surprise."

He says he would give $5 million to a charity of President Obama's choice if he released his college records and passport applications. What did the president have to say about that?

HAMBY: Yes, Jay Leno asked Obama, you know, what is Trump's beef with you? Why does he keep trying to get these stories into the bloodstream? This is how Obama responded to it -- Zoraida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This all dates back to when we were growing up together in Kenya.

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Yes. I got to give you that one.

OBAMA: And we had, you know, constant run-ins on the soccer field. You know, he wasn't very good and resented it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMBY: So, I mean, if you look at poll numbers, President Obama has a good likability number, like his numbers among female voters, likability is one reason President Obama is slightly ahead of Mitt Romney in a lot of polls. So that's an example of why some of these interviews that he's doing on Comedy Central or Jay Leno are actually good for him, because they remind voters when they see him cracking jokes and being relaxed and self-deprecating, why perhaps they might like Barack Obama.

SAMBOLIN: It was clever and funny, right.

HAMBY: Exactly, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right, I'm going to borrow here from Berman. He talked about the swingingest states and the piece that you have on those swinginest states so can you share some of the details with us.

HAMBY: Yes, I mean, I think both campaigns agree this campaign is coming down to Ohio. You know, the Romney campaign has gained in Virginia, Florida, Colorado, a path that once looked pretty daunting for Romney has gotten somewhat easier.

However, Obama has the easier path to win in the Electoral College. If he holds Ohio and Wisconsin, all he needs to do is pick up either Iowa or Nevada and he wins, it's game over.

So that's why you see the campaign sort of honing in on those few states. You mentioned North Carolina earlier. CNN moved that from toss up to lean Romney. Why?

If you talk to Democrats and Republicans, they say, this was a tough state to begin with for Obama. He only won by 14,000 votes in the previous election. Romney's losing among independents there, white voters.

It's very tough for him to pull out a win there. Republicans, though, are holding a rally in Winston-Salem today, because President Obama's flying from Tampa, Florida, to Richmond, Virginia, today. So he'll be flying over North Carolina.

And Republicans are saying, look at us down here, land down here in North Carolina if you're so confident you're going to win, Mr. President. But I don't think, Zoraida, that he's going to do that.

SAMBOLIN: Better have some pretty big signs ready. Peter Hamby live for us in Washington, thank you very much.

In the next half hour, we'll break down the campaign strategies of both candidates. We have CNN political contributor Margaret Hoover joining us and Richard Socarides, former senior adviser to Bill Clinton.

BERMAN: It's 5 minutes after the hour right now. Two deaths being blamed on Hurricane Sandy, one reported in Jamaica, another reported in Haiti. The storm is now starting to move off the eastern side of Cuba. It slammed into the island this morning as a strong Category 2 storm, packing 110-mile-an-hour winds.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano joins us now from Atlanta, Rob, with the latest and the latest is, where's it headed? ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, heading north through the Bahamas and it's going to skirt across the U.S. coastline. That's the key. The thing blew up to a category 2 storm, almost a category 3 storm overnight, at a Cat 2 right now, 105 mile an hour winds moving rapidly at 18 miles an hour.

You notice as it goes over Cuba, it decreases a little bit in its organization. Now, waters in the Atlantic, not nearly as warm as the Caribbean. Plus this time of year, you get into some of the jet stream wind that becomes a little bit stronger in September, October, November, and that may knock it down a little bit.

Still hurricane warnings are posted for the Bahamas and tropical storm warnings have been extended for Florida, all the way north of Daytona Beach. We're starting to see the rain bands filter in the South Florida.

Some of the keys reporting gusts of over 40 miles an hour. So conditions deteriorating from Key West all the way up through, say, Daytona Beach, here, as we go through time. Here's your forecast track. Category 1 storm is what's expected, as it moves through the Bahamas.

Again right now, it's a Category 2 storm. And then it begins to interact with fall winds, basically, and a strong trough or cold air that's going to drive down across the Great Lakes.

And this will actually probably act to draw it closer to the U.S. does it make a direct landfall? That's possible now, in some sort of hybrid storm scenario, or does it go off to the east? That's possible as well.

Those are the two scenarios that we're looking at. Yesterday at this time, about half are going east, half are going west, not more than half are going to the west.

We'll have to watch this carefully. Best-case scenario, John and Zoraida, is that this thing goes off to the east. It's still such a big storm, we'll get winds and waves, damaging waves across the eastern seaboard and also high tides will be extraordinarily high come Monday and Tuesday. We'll keep you posted.

BERMAN: All right, Rob Marciano, we will be watching this closely every day. Until then, thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: It's 7 minutes past the hour. A shark that killed a surfer this week in southern California was a great white. Look at this. Authorities released a photo showing a bite the shark took out of Francisco's surfboard. They believe the great white was at least 15 feet long. That attack occurred off of Surf Beach.

BERMAN: Reverend Jesse Jackson is a free man this morning. He and a dozen others were arrested after staging a protest at Sensata Technology in Illinois. The company is transferring its operations to China cutting more than 100 jobs. Sensata is owned by Bain Capital, the firm Mitt Romney used to run. SAMBOLIN: World Series game one was a night to remember for Giants' third baseman, Pablo Sandoval. I want you to read this.

BERMAN: The man they call kung fu panda, he tied a World Series record by hitting three home runs and the first two came against Justin Verlander, who may be having the best season in baseball. It pushed them to an 8-3 win, and after the game, Sandoval talked about being part of history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PABLO SANDOVAL, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS, THIRD BASEMAN: I still can't believe it, man. You know, when you're a little kid, you dream about being in the World Series, but I was thinking being in this situation, three homers in one game, you know, you have to keep focused, keep focus on playing the game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Albert Pujols, the only other three players to do it in one World Series game. Sandoval is the only one to do it. The Tigers will try to even up the series in game two tonight.

SAMBOLIN: To hear him talk was really cool too.

BERMAN: Very cool. It's 9 minutes after the hour right now. It is the break that U.S. intelligence has been waiting for since the attack that killed four Americans in Libya. We have more on a suspect in custody. This is big news, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. New details this morning about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

A suspect is now in custody in Tunisia and the U.S. will be able to question him. Meanwhile, new e-mails raise more questions about what the Obama administration knew about the attack and when.

CNN intelligence correspondent Suzanne Kelly joins us now. Suzanne, what do we know about this suspect and how he was caught?

SUZANNE KELLY, CNN INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Right, well, CNN is being told his name is Ali Ani Harzi. He was actually involved -- left Libya, went to Turkey where Turkish officials detained him and then was sent to Tunisia.

And now according to a U.S. government official is working with the Tunisian government in terms of getting access to him. And of course, both the FBI and the U.S. intelligence agencies are going to be very interested in what he has to say.

BERMAN: So the FBI heading up this investigation. When will they be able to ask him questions?

KELLY: Well, it could be a matter of weeks because there's a process going on here. Part of that is internal within the U.S., negotiations between the FBI and the intelligence agencies.

There is certain information they're looking for. Of course, they want to find out who else is involved in this attack, as much as possible, get as much information as they can from this guy. It could take a couple of weeks.

BERMAN: This comes on the heels of those e-mails we learned about yesterday or some learned about it yesterday. They've been sort of circulating for sometime saying that Ansar Al Sharia had claimed credit for the attacks in Benghazi as they were happening. Are there any doubts in what these e-mails are going to reveal?

KELLY: You know, and later there are reports that they had said, no, we didn't claim any credit for that attack. So you have to be really careful with those bits of intelligence that come out, of course, in the first 28 to 48 hours even the first week after something like this.

And that's where we've seen a lot of this became politicized. You know, I highly doubt if there weren't an election in a little over a week now, that you'd see so much of this going back and forth, with what the government knew, when the administration knew it, and what it became public with.

BERMAN: And then I guess, importantly, any connection between this new suspect, Al Harzi and Ansar Al Sharia, that other group?

KELLY: Right, now you know, one thing we do know is that, there were some al Qaeda affiliates involved, more than just the one we had thought before.

So that initial group that led that first attack was about 35 to 40 people. We know that about a dozen of those had al Qaeda affiliated sort of connections. One of them, al Qaeda in the Maghreb, which is the group that operates in North Africa.

The other al Qaeda in Iraq, which is new and kind of disturbing because they've been doing other stuff, including an attack in Amman, Georgia, just over the weekend, which they claim credit for.

BERMAN: All right. Suzanne Kelly, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

SAMBOLIN: Great information.

BERMAN: It is.

SAMBOLIN: Fifteen minutes past the hour.

With 12 days to go before America votes and with the race for the White House dead even, Mitt Romney and President Obama are pressing the flesh in all those battleground states. The president campaigns this morning in Tampa, Florida, then he will jet to Richmond, Virginia, and finally, Chicago, where he will become the first U.S. president to vote early.

Romney makes three campaign stops in Ohio today. He is starting in Cincinnati. His wife, Ann, will headline three campaign rallies in Florida.

BERMAN: OK. This actually happened. Police in Kansas City on the lookout for a suspect they say used a samurai sword to rob a chicken restaurant. Surveillance video shows the suspect walked into a Church's Chicken in a hoodie holding a sword.

SAMBOLIN: Good grief.

BERMAN: Police say he took off in an old Chevy pickup and is still on the loose this morning.

SAMBOLIN: A samurai sword.

BERMAN: Samurai sword.

SAMBOLIN: Well, some people barely able to outrun the flames as a wildfire flames across the town of Wetmore, Colorado. This is this morning. It is only about 15 percent contained. More than 15,000 acres have burned so far and at least 14 homes have been damaged or destroyed. Hundreds, we understand, have been evacuated.

So, we're fast approaching the holiday travel season and the bad news is flights this year may set you back even more than last year.

BERMAN: But if you haven't made your plans yet, do not panic, because Christine Romans is here with this week's "Road Warriors."

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know, the booking site Travelocity reviewed Thanksgiving fares. Travelocity found those fares are costing on average 9 percent more than last year.

But if you don't have your ticket yet, please don't panic, because a year-long survey by travel site Kayak.com showed that booking too far in advance is going to cost you more. According to Kayak's data, the sweet spot when you get the best deals is about three weeks before you fly. They found domestic airfares bought 21 days ahead, cost on average, 8 percent less than fares bought during the previous six months and about 30 percent less than those purchased the week before.

Do not purchase the week before Thanksgiving. I'm guaranteeing you, it's not going to be pretty.

If waiting to buy makes you nervous, you can also use Bing's flight predictor. This is a tool to try to anticipate whether your airplane will rise or fall. It checks the fare history of the route and then advises you whether to buy now or hold off.

And don't forget, some airlines also have a fare holding option. Check your airline's policy first, but American will let you hold a ticket for 24 hours before purchasing. For a fee, United lets you lock in your fare for seven days. That buys you a little more time to, you know, carry on shopping for a better deal if you like, or deciding whether you're going to take the trip and drive instead.

SAMBOLI: You know what the problem, you have to be flexible, because you have less options the longer you wait.

ROMANS: And, you know, 21 days in advance before Thanksgiving, if you really know you're going to have to fly for Thanksgiving, some people want the peace of mind, maybe paying a little bit more, so they can get all their family on the same flight with the same seats together, if possible. But, look, no one's flying around like the candidates are these days.

I keep wondering, are they like gunning water every time they get on the plane because they're so dehydrated from going up and down. You've flown in this flight before, right?

BERMAN: I have. There's a lot of food. There's a lot of food on these planes. You eat a lot of bad food. It's not a healthy life.

ROMANS: It's the worst kind of "Road Warrior" there is.

BERMAN: No, not at all.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: All right. Eighteen minutes after the hour right.

And the Justice Department taking on one of the big banks over the mortgage crisis. We're going to have that story, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Top of the morning to you. We are minding your business this morning.

U.S. stock futures are up after markets closed slightly lower yesterday.

BERMAN: Christine Romans is here. So, let's get a move on the markets today.

ROMANS: It's all about earnings right now and this has been a very earnings-driven stock market. And you can see that when you look at, you know, the S&P 500, for example, a very rocky week.

We heard from a lot of companies this week that were saying, look, you know, things are looking a little slower overseas. I'm concerned about job cuts, I'm hearing with these earnings announcements. So, you can see a softening global outlook is something you're hearing.

And tech earnings will be a big focus as well. We heard from Facebook, they had a good day yesterday, but we'll hear from Apple after the closing bell today. So, that could be a driver of things overall.

So all of that really, you know, really important overall.

The S&P 500 has a -- we have a year-to-day chart that shows you some of -- there we go. I was talking about some of the rocky S&P performance, just look at the last few -- the last few inches of that chart there, you know, a technical analyst would say that's starting to look like a head and shoulders pattern, I don't need to get geeky to you, but that can be kind of topping action in a market. So, that's something that a lot of people are really watching.

We're also watching Bank of America and this huge civil lawsuit from the Justice Department about the hustle. Do it at a hustle was not a fun, cool disco thing for B of A, doing the hustle was pushing through mortgage originations, according to the government, so quickly, they were taking down what they called the tollbooths meant to check the status of these loans, meant to check that everything was copacetic.

It's a nickname for the high-speed swim lane -- pushing these loans through during the bubble, and even after, at a very rapid pace. And according to this lawsuit, this is because of Countrywide. Remember, Countrywide, bought by B of A, Countrywide's only quality control reports showed a 40 percent defect rate on these loans, which is way more than the industry standard.

And instead of addressing the problems, according to this lawsuit, instead of doing that, it actually incentivized people who worked there to make the loans look better. Then these loans were sold to Fannie and Freddie, and who picks up the bill, according to the suit? Taxpayers, according to the suit, at the tune of $1 billion.

So pushing these loans through at a rapid, rapid rate and internally taking down any kind of safety mechanisms to make sure these loans run. But remember what was happening during those times? A lot of mortgage originators were writing loans for people who had no income, who had no assets, who had no ability to pay them back. Loans to people who didn't understand the documents, didn't even know what kind of documents they were signing, didn't even know what a basic mortgage was all about, just pushing them through, selling them to Fannie and Freddie, and they were being packaged and sold again in the atmosphere and it was just a disaster.

SAMBOLIN: Did we know this lawsuit was coming?

ROMANS: You know, there have been other lawsuits against B of A because of Countrywide. This one is sort of unique because it's specifically saying that taxpayers were on the hook because Fannie and Freddie bought these loans, guaranteed these loans.

BERMAN: So, what's the one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: The one thing about your money has to do with the U.K., far across the world, right? But it matters to you because it's out of recession. We just learned its economy grew 1 percent in the third quarter. It's not much, but healing across the Atlantic is critical for U.S. businesses, especially since I'm watching these things and these earnings reports that are talking about softening global growth, good to see at least one major economy is out of recession.

BERMAN: So congratulations to Great Britain. Well, done.

ROMANS: Congratulations, Queen Elizabeth.

BERMAN: Jolly good time and all of that.

Twenty-five minutes after the hour, right now.

In one swing state town, they're talking about birth control, but not for the reason you might think. We will explain, coming up.

And if you're looking at your house, you can watch us on your desktop or mobile phone, just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Two men, fighting for eight swing states. It's still anyone's race between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

BERMAN: A hurricane that could impact Halloween, actually, much more than that. Forecasters tracking Sandy say the Northeast could still be in her path.

SAMBOLIN: You could add anchor Berman tracking it as well.

Sunk -- look at this -- in a matter of seconds. Really dramatic video of a tug boat's really sudden and final moments on the water.

Welcome back to EARLY START.

We are really happy that you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Twenty-nine minutes after the hour right now.

SAMBOLIN: The list of toss-up states on the electoral map is getting smaller by the day, it seems. Late yesterday, CNN changed North Carolina from a tossup on its official electoral map to leaning towards Romney. Meaning, there are now just eight battleground states that are up for grabs.

BERMAN: That comes in the middle of a 48-hour campaign blitz for President Obama, making appearances in eight cities and stopping in Chicago today to cast his own ballot early.

SAMBOLIN: CNN political contributor Margaret Hoover, and former senior Clinton adviser Richard Socarides are back with us this morning.

It's nice to have you stick around for us.

So, Romney clearly taking an edge in North Carolina, which Obama narrowly won back in '08. So, let's put up a poll here.

Obama hanging on to a lead in Ohio. A new "TIME" poll still has him up five points there. We all know that Ohio is crucial for both.

Who has more paths to victory?

RICHARD SOCARIDES, FORMER SENIOR CLINTON ADVISER: Well, I think the president has the edge in Ohio. And we'll trade Ohio for North Carolina any day. I mean, Ohio, the race is becoming about Ohio and a couple other swing states. And I think president has got a much clearer path to victory.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, North Carolina is must-win for Mitt Romney. The president can afford to lose it. Ohio is a must-win for both of them, really.

I mean, the president can potentially do it without Ohio, but Mitt Romney can't. Here's the thing about Ohio -- you see that poll, he's up five points in that one poll. But if you look at all the polls accumulatively, Ohio is within the margin of error. Democrats have two times more offices on the ground than Republicans do.

One thing that's fascinating about Ohio, though, voter registration is down about 350,000 votes in the three biggest Democratic counties in Ohio. That is significantly going to get -- feed into the Democratic vote, which is why they're so focused on early voting. They want to bank up all these early votes to be able to act as a firewall on Election Day.

BERMAN: That early vote right now, the spread is about two to one right now. We have a number from the "TIME" magazine poll. President Obama leading in the early vote, 60 percent to 30 percent, and I should you say it's within the margin of error, both Democratic strategists and Republican strategists I think and Republican strategists right now all say they do believe President Obama is ahead. You can't --

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: He has a slight edge. He definitely has a slight edge, but they are all -- I mean, he's leading, but they're all within the margin of error.

BERMAN: Right. The early vote, I want to talk about the early vote, because we saw it come into play four years ago, this time, it's even bigger. This time, it's even bigger. In states like Nevada, you're seeing a huge push again in early vote out. A state like Ohio, a huge push to get this early vote out.

Margaret says it's to mitigate against a bad Election Day, perhaps. But is there more to that, Richard?

SOCARIDES: Well, I think what it shows is that the president has put a lot of financial resources and a lot of effort into organizing early voters to get out to the polls and organizing his voters. And you know, we saw -- we've seen in past elections, especially when they're close, that organization, organization, organization early makes all the difference. And if you can get out your voters, you can win close elections.

So, the president is leaving nothing to chance. I mean, I think that he will --

SAMBOLIN: Voting early himself.

SOCARIDES: Voting early himself. I mean, listen, I think the president will win by a close, but comfortable margin of two, three, maybe even four points when it comes down to it. But we're taking nothing for granted.

SAMBOLIN: I want to talk about women. It's another crucial voting bloc, right? So Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock taking heat for a comment he made on Tuesday night at the debate, suggesting that pregnancies resulting from rape were intended by God. That's exactly what he meant to say.

But he spoke to the press yesterday. He says here, "I believe that life itself is the greatest gift that God can give us" -- oh, we have it. Let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD MOURDOCK, (R) U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE, INDIANA: I believe that life itself is the greatest gift that God can give us and I know because polling shows it, at least 80 percent of all Americans, and I'm sure at least that many Hoosiers think that God is the author of all life, and I stand firmly on that belief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOOVER: Here's the deal with that quote, in my way of thinking. This is relevant only in so much as this is relevant to suburban women independent voters who are trying to figure out if they're going to vote for Mitt Romney. That's really significant.

Mitt Romney is trying to distance himself from this. Clearly, Richard Murdoch wasn't saying -- let's be very clear, Richard Mourdock wasn't saying -- he has an outside of the mainstream view that abortion is only legal -- should only be legal in the case where the life of the mother is in danger.

SOCARIDES: I mean, I'd just -- you know, I mean, you're analyzing it in a purely political election contest. The truth --

HOOVER: This is 14 days before an election.

SOCARIDES: It's relevant for people there in Indiana who are trying to decide who to vote for. I mean, this guy, there's another Republican candidate running for the Senate or for the House, who is issuing these statements that are demeaning to women. This is very serious business.

I mean, anybody who suggests that they know what God intended in any context is kind of off the charts. I mean, this guy is really not only out of the mainstream of American thought, but I mean, these comments are offensive.

Governor Romney has got an ad in that state, campaigning for this guy. He has not suggested that this man apologize. I think it's offensive. Don't you think he should apologize?

HOOVER: He did apologize yesterday.

SOCARIDES: He did apologize. But I mean, nobody is calling for his apology.

HOOVER: We can all read the transcript and see -- you know, it's very clear he wasn't saying God intended for this woman to be raped. What he is saying is he doesn't believe that she should be --

(CROSSTALK)

SOCARIDES: I'm not clear at all that that's what he intended.

HOOVER: -- of the American populace, and it's up to the voters of Indiana to decide. I mean, I do think this is not a Todd Akin situation. This is slightly different. But --

SOCARIDES: Because Todd Akin -- because what Todd Akin said was much worse, why? Because he said that rape was legitimate.

HOOVER: He suggested biologically that a rape would be -- like a woman would raise her baby --

SOCARIDES: So Todd Akin is slightly more crazy than this guy who is crazy and out of the mainstream.

HOOVER: You're being very, very effective of linking these two together and I think that voters are smarter than that, voters can read the transcript and understand that Richard Mourdock and take his -- listen to his words and decide what to do.

SAMBOLIN: Margaret, does it hurt Romney because he's endorsing him?

HOOVER: If he continues to run ads in that state, nationally, it's going to hurt him with independent woman voters in suburban areas.

BERMAN: And the speed with which he distances himself from it shows how worried and nervous --

SOCARIDES: But he didn't call for an apology.

BERMAN: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Margaret Hoover, Richard Socarides, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate your time.

It is 35 minutes past the hour.

Two deaths are now being blamed on hurricane Sandy. One is reported in Jamaica. The other one is in Haiti and that storm is now starting to move off the eastern side of Cuba. It slammed into the island this morning as a strong category 2 storm. It's packing 110 miles an hour winds. Or it was at that time.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano joining us from Atlanta.

You have the very latest for us.

MARCIANO: Still a strong category 2 storm, guys, with 105-mile-an- hour winds. You see the satellite picture here. As it goes over Cuba, but it kind of loses a little bit of its muster, but now reemerging into the Atlantic.

Temperatures in the water here not nearly as warm as the Caribbean, but warm enough to sustain a hurricane for the next couple hundred of miles. It's moving to the north at 18 miles an hour. And we expect that movement to continue for the next day or two. And then pretty much all bets are off. A lot of interesting things could happen and a lot of dangerous things as well.

Hurricane warnings are up for the Bahamas. Tropical storm warnings have been posted all the way north of Daytona Beach for Florida. So, conditions are going to continue to deteriorate across the Florida peninsula, starting with the Keys where winds are gusting over 40 miles an hour right now and making their way up I-95 here. Miami, Homestead seeing some rain and thunderstorms, and these feeder bands will continue to work their way in throughout the day and expand their way up towards the north.

Here's the forecast track from the National Hurricane Center. Category 2 storm now, probably see it weakened a little bit as it gets a little bit further north, now in cooler waters. But winds this time of year tend to knock it down somewhat. So expect a category 1 storm.

It will be close enough to the Florida peninsula to give you tropical storm force winds, huge waves, coastal flooding, high surf and beach erosion. That's going to be a key from Miami, really, all the way up to Maine.

What it does after the weekend, then, gets interesting, because a lot of our computer models are turning a little bit closer towards the Northeast. And that's where questions come up. Does it go inland across the Northeast, mainly across the Delmarva or does it go out to sea? Oddly, the warm air from Canada and the warm air that's popping up this way is kind of opening the gate, so to speak, to give it that chance of making its way toward the East Coast as kind of a hybrid storm, a nor'easter combination with the hurricane, and that's not a good combination, I can tell you that.

About half -- more than half of our computer models now take it in the general direction of the Northeast, and the rest of them take it off toward the east and the open Atlantic. That's more than it was yesterday. So, a little bit more serious situation and we'll continue to update it as we go through time here -- guys.

SAMBOLIN: All right. We're glad that you're tracking it for us, Rob. Thank you.

MARCIANO: You got it.

SAMBOLIN: So, take a look at this incredible video from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Look at this. That's a tug boat, capsizing, sinking right into the harbor. It went down in just a few seconds. There were two people on board. They did manage to jump off just in the nick of time.

The tug's owner has no idea why the boat sank. The coast guard will launch an investigation.

BERMAN: That's amazing video.

The town of Avon Lake, Ohio, has so many deer that they're considering a number of options to control the population, including birth control.

SAMBOLIN: What?

BERMAN: Officials estimate the 300 deer roam through Avon Lake and say the situation has become dangerous and the number of car accidents involving these animals is on the rise, so they're considering birth control. Who gets to have the talk with the deer? The birth control talk with the deer?

SAMBOLIN: I'm wondering what type of birth control they take? That's interesting.

As we hear about American jobs going overseas to China, coming up, the view from the other side, as CNN takes you to where those jobs are now. A factory in China owned by Mitt Romney's old company, Bain Capital.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Soledad O'Brien joins us now with a look at what is ahead on "STARTING POINT."

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Lots happening this morning on "STARTING POINT."

A mad dash, of course, through the swing state particularly.

President Obama and Mitt Romney making last-ditch efforts to win over those undecided voters, as one state leaves the toss-up column and leads towards one of the candidates. We'll tell you who's doing better.

Expert insight this morning from Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Congressman Tom Davis, and Senator Richard Blumenthal will be joining us.

Plus, his very public resignation was a (INAUDIBLE) condemnation of Goldman Sachs claimed the company feed on client's fear and it's all about greed. Well, now that former investment banker joins me live to explain why he quit and answer those accusations from Goldman that he was just a disgruntled employee.

Plus, TV darling Melissa Joan Hart is going to join us to talk about the news season of her hit show, "Melissa & Joey." You're excited?

BERMAN: Sabrina, the teenage witch. She's coming in?

O'BRIEN: Yes, yes. She's coming in, in person. She's no longer Sabrina the teenage witch. She's doing much more.

BERMAN: Oh, really?

O'BRIEN: She plays a mom. Yes.

BERMAN: Very cool.

SAMBOLIN: I'll have the camera ready so we can take pictures.

BERMAN: All right. Forty-three minutes after the hour right now.

Outsourcing has become a dirty word in this country and a real flash point in the race for the White House. With jobs incredibly scarce in America right now and so many of them migrating overseas.

CNN's Stan grant visited one of these Chinese factories accused of luring workers away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you know who Mitt Romney is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no.

GRANT: You don't know Mitt Romney?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't know.

GRANT (voice-over): They may not be up on American politics here, but these Chinese workers are in the middle of a U.S. political firestorm. They're blamed for taking American jobs, shipped to China by a company started by Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

(on camera): Do you like America?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just so-so.

GRANT: Just so-so.

(voice-over): The American flag flies proudly, but it's equally a power of Chinese power. It's one of the Chinese homes of Sensata Technologies, an auto parts manufacturer owned by Bain Capital.

Workers in Freeport, Illinois, say this is where their jobs are going. Some are camping in tents, protesting the planned closure of the Sensata plant where they've worked for decades. One hundred seventy jobs will be lost, and the workers say they suffer while the company profits from cheap Chinese labor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: November 5 is scheduled to be my last day after 33 years.

GRANT: Here Sensata is anything but the bad guy. You speak to workers and they say this is just the way of the world. China is an economic rival to the United States, it does export, it does manufacture and, yes, it takes American jobs, however unfair that may seem back in the States.

It's determined by the market, this worker says. Jobs go wherever labor is cheaper. It makes sense. Workers say they enjoy good conditions here, regular eight-hour shifts.

How much money do you earn in one month?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a secret.

GRANT: It's a secret?!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a secret.

GRANT: You can see where the money goes, though. Chenzhou, near Shanghai, is a thriving city of 5 million people. Shoppers hit trendy new malls wearing the latest fashion. American business has been good for these people.

Back in Freeport, the future is not so rosy. Look around. There's no guessing who they blame. Mitt Romney left Bain Capital seven years before it bought Sensata, but this has become an embarrassment all the same. Outside the Sensata factory, we meet some American workers in China on rotation from the U.S. They're aware of the row over jobs; right now just happy to be working themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I enjoy my job.

GRANT: But for how long?

Stan Grant, CNN, Chenzhou, China.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: 46 minutes past the hour. A suspect is in custody in Tunisia. It's in connection with the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. officials say the FBI will be able to interrogate him. It is believed al Qaeda in Iraq is linked to the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

BERMAN: Hurricane Sandy still packing a major punch. It remains a strong Category 2 storm, as it begins to move off the eastern side of Cuba. The storm is being blamed for two deaths right now, one reported in Jamaica, the other in Haiti, and it is headed for the northeast of the U.S..

SAMBOLIN: And the giants. Pablo Sandoval belted three home runs to power San Francisco to an 8-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers in game one of the World Series. The panda's just the fourth to hit three homers in a World Series game, joining Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols. The Tigers will look to even the series tonight. Good luck to you in game two.

BERMAN: Yes, I mean, the Giants beat Justin Verlander. That was great feat last night.

47 minutes after the hour right now and a famous 19th century lady is showing off her 21st century makeover. An exclusive look inside the newly renovated Statue of Liberty. That's coming up.

SAMBOLIN: You see the crown? I was in there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 51 minutes past the hour. You are taking a live look at the picture of Lady Liberty. And her torch is nice and lit up there. New York's Lady Liberty has a new look after a yearlong, multimillion dollar makeover. Before reopening to the public this weekend, I had an exclusive tour inside the Statue of Liberty, along with some of our wounded warriors.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): The Statue of Liberty's crown and interior have been closed for a year. But for retired Marine Corps' Larry Hughes, it's seemingly been longer. That's because the observation level of this iconic symbol of freedom was not wheelchair accessible until today.

LARRY HUGHES, MARINE CORPS (RET.), VIETNAM VETERAN: Wow! amazing.

SAMBOLIN: Hughes, a Vietnam vet, is taking the inaugural ride in a newly installed elevator to the statue's observation deck.

HUGHES: Just to be here was something that never really entered into my mind, because simply I hate to be turned down. I hate to be rejected. So I'm no longer being rejected. I'm being here.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): The new elevator is just part of a year-long, $30 million renovation, that also includes upgrading stairwells and making safety improvements. The end result, a more accessible Lady Liberty that will allow an additional 26,000 visitors each year a chance to enjoy her spectacular views.

KIRK BAUER, VIETNAM VETERAN: When these adaptations are made, it opens up tremendous opportunities for all of us.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Among the first to see the new renovations, two generations of severely wounded warriors. I joined Kirk Bauer, who lost his leg in Vietnam, and Jesse Acosta, who suffered injuries to his hip in a roadside bomb in Iraq, on the 146-step climb to the top.

(on-camera): So you stuck your head out of -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The crown!

SAMBOLIN: The crown. Very cool. What do you think? Is it what you expected?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fantastic. Actually, it's more tight than I thought looking up, but it isjust an incredible view.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): The renovation was full of challenges because of the statue's location and because they had to do it all without drilling into any part of the historic structure.

MICHAEL MILLS, ARCHITECT: It was a challenge, a huge challenge, because we had to envision all of this, make this building more safe, more code compliant, more accessible, more welcoming. And do it in a way that respected the historic fabric.

JESSE ACOSTA, IRAQ VETERAN: It's very impressive, what they did, to see the investment in these days, in a World Heritage site, to allow those with perceived disabilities, those that need access, to see some of our historical sites, to be able to touch it and see it that much closer. It's really generous, really wonderful to be here.

SAMBOLIN: For the statute superintendent, David Luchsinger, who has lived on Liberty Island for more than three years, this moment among the most memorable.

DAVID LUCHSINGER, SUPERINTENDENT, STATUE OF LIBERTY: To be able to welcome our veterans home, and welcome them here, and actually get veterans up into the crown and up into the observation deck is just amazing.

SAMBOLIN: Grateful construction workers saluting America's heroes on this historic visit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to give you a token of thanks, first for coming out and visiting with us, but most importantly, for the service and the dedication that you've done for our country.

BAUER: They were thanking us. We should be thanking them. Because they're the ones that are making it possible. They're the hands that made this monument open to everyone, including those with disabilities.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Restored Lady Liberty truly representing a symbol of freedom for all to enjoy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: And work on the monument is expected to be completed early next year. If you are interested the in visiting the Statue of Liberty's crown, it opens on Sunday. Tickets are available online. However, demand is so high, the National Park Service says they are already sold out through the end of the year. But I still wish you luck, because what an experience.

BERMAN: That was a beautiful piece. And you had a beautiful view.

SAMBOLIN: I did have a beautiful view and with those guys, I want to say thank you to Larry, Kirk, and Jesse, because they made this one of the most memorable experiences of my life. It was fantastic. Thank you.

Today's best advice, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: We're running out of time, 59 minutes after the hour. As always, we wrap it up with best advice.

SAMBOLIN: Here's Christine.

ROMANS: And we asked New York Giants' wide receiver and end zone salsa dancer Victor Cruz the best advice he ever received.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICTOR CRUZ, NEW YORK GIANTS, WIDE RECEIVER: The best advice I ever received was my mom telling me that once you start something, finish it. You know, you never want to be seen as a quitter. You never want to be a person that's known to quit things halfway through. So I think that was definitely the best advice she's ever given me. Even something not going your way halfway through the ordeal, you just want to keep at it and finish it, because it shows character.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Go Mom!

ROMANS: Because we're finished!

BERMAN: He is one great guy, one great dancer. That is all for EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

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