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Hurricane Sandy Targets East Coast; Obama Versus Romney Dead Heat; Mother Comes Home to Find Kids Stabbed; Countdown To Election Day; Sununu Questions Powell's Endorsement; Design Flaw In Florida Ballots; Deadly Suicide Blast Outside Of Mosque; Malala Reunites With Parents; Giants Take 2-0 Lead In World Series

Aired October 26, 2012 - 06:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Sandy takes aim. The deadly hurricane looks like it's right on track to slam the East Coast. We have the latest path of the storm straight ahead.


FMR. SEN. JOHN SUNUNU, (R-NH) ROMNEY ADVISER: When you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that's an endorsement based on issues.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A top Romney adviser backtracking after suggesting the president won a big endorsement because of his race.

SAMBOLIN: Back together again. A Pakistani teen who's become an international symbol of courage reunited with her family in the hospital.

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

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 6:00 a.m. in the East. We have a big story this morning about a big storm. Millions of Americans bracing for Hurricane Sandy, from New England to Virginia, and as far inland as Ohio, everyone being warned to prepare for action. Because of a rare atmospheric condition forecasters fear Sandy could slam into the northeast early next week, as a superstorm.

Sandy has already inflicted considerable damage, 11 people dead in Cuba, the hurricane ripping roofs of some homes and completely flattening others. Sandy has also killed people in Jamaica and Haiti with heavy rains from the storm's outer bands triggering catastrophic floods.

Even though the hurricane is several days away the sandbagging has already started as far north as New Jersey. Meteorologist Rob Marciano is tracking Sandy's every move. He joins us from the Extreme Weather Center in Atlanta. Hi, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. This is serious storm now. A lot of our computer models have come into agreement in the last 18 hours. So we've really gone from, you know, wondering to now starting to prepare, and really sound the alarm for this.

First things first, Sandy, Category 1 hurricane, battering the Bahamas with 80-mile-per-hour winds. There you see the satellite picture. It's beginning to be to take a different shape now. Even so it doesn't look like the classic hurricane that we typically see.

The further north it goes the less it will look like a hurricane and things will begin to combine with this. What we're also seeing is some impacts on Florida already, some of the rainfall there creating tropical storm force conditions here.

Some of the video out of Fort Lauderdale yesterday, big waves rolling in, beach erosion a huge problem. A lot of sand been wiped off the beaches there. That will continue up the Florida coastline, and the Carolina coastline for the next couple of days.

That's going to be a big issue and there you see the rainfall across parts of Florida continue to roll in. Right now, it's about 200 miles or so off the coast of Miami, about 480 miles south of Charleston, North Carolina and moving in that general direction.

Here's your forecast track from the National Hurricane Center. Category 1 storm, kind of mimics the coastline of the U.S. Saturday night into Sunday morning, it's pretty much off the North Carolina coastline, probably about 100, 150 miles or so.

At that point, we'll probably be seeing 30, 40, maybe even 50 foot waves outside of Cape Hatteras. The waves are just going to be monsters. Then we get up towards the northeast. And we're getting more confident towards this solution.

Somewhere from Cape Hatteras, and really you could include Boston and Maine in this scenario Sandy will make landfall. Now it's going to be combining some of its energy with a winter storm that's pushing east.

That's why -- that's what makes this so remarkable. We talk about solutions from our computer models. Each one of these lines represents a computer model and yesterday we had about half of them going out to sea.

Now nearly all of them are taking this storm back into the northeast. So we're getting much more confident with this solution. Here's one of those computer models. Each one of their lines when they're tightly packed together that means we've got some serious wind happening.

These winds, and this particular model takes the center right over New York, are so expansive. It doesn't matter if it comes right at your town. Anywhere especially to the east of this town by a couple hundred miles you're going to have impacts that include winds that will be blowing 60, 70 miles an hour, possibly for a couple of days so widespread power outages.

That's what I think most people have to prepare for, John and Zoraida. I don't expect mass evacuations, but you should prepare your home to potentially be without power for days if you live anywhere across the northeast, especially close to the coastline.

BERMAN: All right, thanks, Rob. We can't emphasize this enough. This does sound serious. Please stay with CNN throughout the day. All weekend, next Monday. We'll keep you up to speed on all the latest with this storm Sandy. Thanks, Rob.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: It is 3 minutes past the hour. Politics now, with just 11 shopping days left, President Obama and Mitt Romney are doing everything they can to pick up votes in the critical battleground states.

The president topped off two days of round the clock campaigning in eight states with a rally in Cleveland, Ohio, last night. And not to be outdone, Mitt Romney was holding court in Cincinnati. Romney returns to Ohio tonight for a joint rally with Paul Ryan.

And the latest CNN poll of polls has Romney at 48 percent, President Obama at 47 percent. You know that's a virtual dead heat there. And also three new swing state polls that show how tight this race really is.

In Nevada, Obama is up 50 percent to Romney's 47 according to a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll. Same polling has the race tied in Colorado, 48 to 48. And according to a Fox News poll in Virginia, Romney is up, 47 to 45.

All of these, of course, are virtual ties. CNN political director, Mark Preston, live in Washington. Whoo, that was a lot. So what do both campaigns have going on today?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, they're trying to get votes, no question about that, Zoraida. We know President Obama is just off the campaign trail after crisscrossing the country trying to rally supporters in the key states.

However, he still will be campaigning in many ways. He has 10 interviews scheduled today. Seven of them are with affiliates in these battleground states. The most notable one is with MTV.

He will be doing a live interview later this afternoon with the MTV audience, which just goes to show he is trying to shore up his base, an important part of his political base are young voters.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is in Iowa delivering an economic speech in a state right now where he does trail Barack Obama, but talking about a subject that has been in his roundhouse and has been very helpful to his campaign as a successful businessman.

He is trying to convince voters that he is the person who can turn the economy around -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: And Mark, there's some controversy surrounding a recent Obama endorsement. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell supporting the president, the second time now, but it's how one Romney adviser responding that's actually making news. PRESTON: And this is coming from John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire, actually happened last night on our air on Piers Morgan. It was the last question during this interview, and, in fact, Piers asked him about the Colin Powell endorsement. Let's just have a listen.


SUNUNU: And frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell you have to wonder if that's an endorsement based on issues or whether he's got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": And what reason would that be?

SUNUNU: Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being president of the United States. I applaud Colin for standing with him.


PRESTON: And there you had John Sununu just last night on Piers Morgan raising the race card, which is obviously a very volatile thing to do, certainly with 11 days until Election Day. He tried to clean it up very quickly afterwards.

In fact, let's just show the statement and let me read it to you. John Sununu put out a statement right afterwards that said, "Colin Powell is a friend and I respect the endorsement decision he made, and I do not doubt that it was based on anything, but his support of the president's policies.

Piers Morgan's question was whether Colin Powell should leave the party and I don't think he should." Now, Zoraida, I should note that I do know the governor very well. He has said controversial statements in the past.

I don't think he is a racist. But this is something that is certainly going to play out throughout the day. It will be interesting to see if Colin Powell is asked about this and asked to weigh in on it.

SAMBOLIN: And one more thing I want you to weigh on. The Obama campaign has come under fire from conservatives for a new ad starring Lynna Dunham. She is the creator of HBO's girls. What's in the ad that's making Republicans so angry?

PRESTON: Well, this has to do with the whole effort by the Obama campaign to try to get another critical part of this base, which is women, to come and support him. And in this video, which is online, she kind of compares her first time voting to -- I'll tell you what. Let's just take a listen and let her say it.


LENA DUNHAM, CREATOR, "GIRLS": Your first time shouldn't be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy. It should be with a guy with beautiful -- someone really cares about and understands women.

A guy who cares whether you get health insurance specifically whether you get birth control. The consequences are huge. My first time voting was amazing. It was this line in the sand. Before I was a girl, now I was a woman. I went to the polling station, pulled back the curtain. I voted for Barack Obama.


PRESTON: So there you have this video right there, which is clearly skirting the whole idea of the first time having sex and your first time voting. And of course social conservatives are taking offense to that. And Zoraida, you know, what a morning that we can talk about race and sex before 6:30.

SAMBOLIN: I got to tell you, only with you, Mark Preston, live for us in Washington, D.C. Thank you.

BERMAN: It's 8 minutes after the hour right now. Some other headlines we're looking at right now. Some voting problems, dangling chads, deja vu in Florida. It seems 27,000 absentee ballots can't be digitally scanned.

There's some kind of design flaw with the printing down in Florida. Election officials are duplicating the markings from the bad ballots onto new ones in order to record the votes, but they're already facing questions now about the accuracy of the results.

SAMBOLIN: And a suicide bombing outside of a mosque in Northern Afghanistan has killed 40 people. And Afghan police say that includes fellow officers and children as well. Dozens of others were injured. An interior ministry spokesman said the bomber struck right after morning prayers.

BERMAN: The teen activist from Pakistan who was shot in the head by the Taliban is being reunited with her parents in Britain this morning. They arrived just hours ago.

The 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai is in a Birmingham hospital recovering. She's able to stand up now and she's in stable condition. Malala has become a symbol of courage for risking her life by demanding equal rights for education for girls in Pakistan.

After the first two games of the World Series, the Giants, they're in the driver's seat. They're up 2-0 right now. San Francisco Pitcher Madison Baumgartner struggled through seven innings but allowed just two hits and struck out eight and didn't give up any runs.

The Giants broke a scoreless tie in the seventh on a double play. The infield was not in on that play. That's pretty controversial right there. But the biggest controversy and the biggest play may have come in the second inning, Detroit's prince fielder on first base trying to score on a double from Young. You see this.

Prince Fielder not exactly fleet of foot. They waved him home. He was out at the plate. The Tigers mustered no offense after that. Clearly a turning point in the game, Detroit now trails 2-0 and the series returns to Detroit tomorrow night.

SAMBOLIN: All right, and after almost 30 years on the job, NBA Commissioner David Stern says he is planning to retire. This is in February of 2014.

Stern took over in 1984, has presided over a period of unprecedented growth for the league. Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, all became superstars during Stern's time as commissioner. Current deputy commissioner will take over as NBA commissioner.

BERMAN: It is 10 minutes after the hour. There is just a shocking story here in New York City to tell you about. It's impossible to understand how anyone ever could kill a child, unthinkable to comprehend about coming home and seeing your children stabbed to death in your own home.

It happened, it happened in an upscale New York City neighborhood possibly by that nanny. We will have the story coming up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. A mother comes home to the unthinkable. Finding two of her three children stabbed to death in their Manhattan bathtub and the nanny in a pool of blood nearby.

Investigators say the nanny killed the kids and tried to kill herself. Deborah Feyerick is following developments. Deborah, this is just -- this sounds awful. What more do we know at this point?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, the only word that you think of when you think of this particular story is heartbreak. It is always a leap of faith when a parent leaves a child with a baby-sitter or a nanny or any caregiver.

In this particular case, the mom returned home about 5:30. The home was dark. She asked the doorman whether the nanny and children had gone out. When she was told no she went back upstairs in the bathroom.

She found her children, ages 2-year-old, Leo and 6-year-old Lucia in the bathtub with multiple stab wounds. The nanny was on the floor, a knife by her side. It appeared she had tried to slit her throat.

She is in custody. She is in critical condition. No charges have been filed yet. There's no question, no answer, no explanation as to what caused this nanny to snap. But that's something that police are looking into.

But again as you say, John, this unspeakable horror that this mom would come home and find this. And they're trying to get to the bottom of this. But life in New York City, you know, revolves around caregivers, around baby-sitters, around nannies. And so, everyone is talking about this, this morning.

BERMAN: By all accounts, this nanny was fully vetted, very close to the family. What do we know her?

FEYERICK: She was from the Dominican Republic. The mom, 38-year-old Marina Krim was a stay at home mom, was raising her kids. There's a blog that she has. You have these beautiful pictures of her children and just how happy she was raising these children.

When the third child was born, Leo, she apparently, the family decided that they were going to bring on a nanny and the nanny was at home while the mom was out taking her third daughter, her middle daughter, to swimming lessons.

And so, they had spent time with family in the Dominican Republic. There wasn't any indication that there was something wrong with this particular woman.

BERMAN: So there must have been a horrific moment of terror there. Do police have any clue? Did neighbors hear anything?

FEYERICK: The neighbors didn't hear anything until the mom came home and all of a sudden they heard these shrieks, these chilling cries from the mom, who was trying to process the information looking at these beloved children, just dripping with blood.

So a neighbor called 911 and that's when the police came. The father who is a CNBC executive was away on business. He was met at the airport by police. And he was told that his two children were at the hospital and that's where he was taken where he found his wife and his other daughter, his middle daughter.

BERMAN: All right. Deborah Feyerick, thank you so much for joining us. It is a shocking and heartbreaking story.


BERMAN: Thanks.

SAMBOLIN: It is 17 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date.

Hurricane Sandy battering the Caribbean and now setting its sights on the East Coast of the United States. Twenty-one people have already been killed, in Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba. Everyone from New England to Virginia is now being warned to prepare to take action. Because Sandy could join up with a winter storm and reach the East Coast as a super storm. This is scheduled for early next week.

So let's go live to Jason Wheeler, CNN affiliate Central Florida News 13. He's in Volusia County, Florida, this morning. What can you tell us?

JASON WHEELER, CFN13: Right now, we're in Daytona Beach. The Main Street Pier, the Daytona Beach pier where we're at right now and we're getting more of a glancing blow from Hurricane Sandy, still 300 something miles away from us. But still causing havoc here along the central Florida coast, along the Atlantic here.

Usually the water in the Atlantic Ocean is a few hundred feet past us. But it's right about high tide right now. The water is being pushed up extremely close to the seawalls here. We've been seeing this all morning long the water just creeping along this way. This is a low spot area so the water easily gets this area.

But it goes to show you just how much this wind is pushing these waves. Red flag warnings along the Florida coast, meaning it's not safe to get out in the water. In fact, it's like a washing machine right now.

The Beach Patrol here in Volusia County warning people to stay out of the water. We're in unique situation here in Volusia County. We actually drive on the beach here, but driving privileges have been suspended at least until Sunday, possibly Monday, as well, because of the high waves, the high water, these high winds, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Jason Wheeler, affiliate in Central Florida News 13 -- thank you for joining us this morning.

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

And a school board member in Dover, New Hampshire, says he wants to get rid of high school football in his town.

Dr. Paul Butler was a retired surgeon, played football himself, but says recent studies have revealed just how dangerous the game can be. Some players and their parents are sticking up for high school football in that town.


DR. PAUL BUTLER, DOVER, NH SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER: Football, unlike hockey, unlike lacrosse, both of which are violent games, football is the one where the head gets repeatedly banged.

STEPHANIE CARBERRY, MOTHER F DOVER HS PLAYER: If you're going to look at sports in general, look at them all. Hockey, lacrosse -- I mean, you can't just pick football because that's what's in the NFL and that's what everybody is talking about now.


BERMAN: You really are hearing more and more concerns around the country. Dr. Butler is hoping to put the matter up for a vote pretty soon.

SAMBOLIN: Buying a prosthetic arm could soon be like buying a new pair of shoes. You might be able to pick one up in small, medium or large and use it right outside of the box. Can you believe it?

Here's more in this week's "Technovation".


BILL TAYLOR: It's like putting a back pack on -- very simple and very fast. SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Bill Taylor tests a new type of prosthetic arm that could give hope to people around the world. Created by a group of engineering students from the University of Illinois, the arm does not have to be custom made.

ADAM BOOHER, IPT PRESIDENT: It's designed to be able to be taken out of the box or off the shelf and fit someone in less than 20 minutes.

SAMBOLIN: Their open socket technology makes the arm effective and affordable. And the device will cost less than $300.

BOOHER: The socket is really the part where we've done our innovation. It uses both rigid plastic pieces, and flexible cloth pieces to enable it to be very easily adjustable.

SAMBOLIN: The students found that the nonprofit IPT during their senior year in 2010 to help people who can't afford prosthetics.

BOOHER: The vast majority of people who are in need of prosthetic care are living in developing countries. But the key for us will really be partnering with aid organizations to get it out there and in the hands of people who can use it.

SAMBOLIN: The group is working with amputees in Guatemala to test the device.

BOOHER: Everyone has the right to have access to prosthetic care. By creating this technology we can allow people to regain independence that they may have lost by losing their limb.


BERMAN: That's pretty cool.

SAMBOLIN: Very cool, yes.

BERMAN: All right. Twenty minutes after the hour now. This does not happen often these days. But Apple actually disappointed investors this week. We'll have the story coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Twenty-four minutes past the hour. We are minding your business.

U.S. stock futures are down sharply this morning. A lot of volatility in the markets right now. Two of the biggest reasons: weak corporate earnings and concerns about growth in the world's largest economy.

The U.S. is included in that. And later this morning, we'll find out third quarter GDP. Economists expect the economy grew at a rate of 1.7 percent, an improvement for the second quarter, but still not strong growth.

BERMAN: Apple earnings missed analyst expectations for the last quarter. Very unusual for the tech giant. CEO Tim Cook says he expects record sales over the holiday season, though. Apple is hoping to get a boost from the new iPad mini unveiled this week. As of today you can go online and preorder that new tiny tablet from Apple's Web site.

And some relief at the pump. National average gas prices have been falling for 15 straight days now. The new national average for a gallon of regular, $3.58 a gallon.

AAA says they expect gas prices to drop down to as low as $3.25 a gallon by Thanksgiving. But AAA says gas prices on Election Day are expected to be the highest ever for a presidential Election Day.

SAMBOLIN: And U.S. warships armed with lasers, lasers that can blow up missiles and aircraft. If it sounds like part of the next blockbuster movie, it is not, folks. This is real. We will explain later this hour on CNN.

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


SAMBOLIN: Ready or not, forecasters say Hurricane Sandy's likely headed right for the East Coast.

BERMAN: Neck and neck. President Obama, Mitt Romney, pretty much tied up with just over a week to go.

SAMBOLIN: He might be the ultimate underdog. A big-time college basketball player with one hand. This is incredible. His inspiring story is now a new movie. He is going to join us today along with the director.

Just an -- this is an incredible story. You won't want to miss it. Bring the kids over to the TV.

BERMAN: Bring everyone.


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

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is 29 minutes past the hours.

Millions of Americans from New England to Virginia may soon be staring down what is called a super storm. Hurricane Sandy has already killed 21 people in the Caribbean and she's got the East Coast of the United States squarely in her sights.

BERMAN: Check out what Sandy looks like from outer space right now. She's packing sustained winds of 85 miles per hour and is looking more and more likely that the Northeast will be in harm's way and that's going to happen early next week.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano is tracking the hurricane from the Extreme Weather Center in Atlanta. And, Rob, you've been telling us you have never seen a storm like this.

MARCIANO: No, this is so different from other hurricanes that we cover. And other storms that we cover. Usually you've got a fall/winter storm scenario, or spring severe weather setup, or you have a hurricane setup. This is going to be a combination of the two and it's going to be a long duration event once it gets towards the Northeast. It certainly looks that way.

Here's the latest on the storm. It has winds of 80 miles an hour northwesterly moving at 13 miles an hour. You look at that satellite because it doesn't nearly as organized as it was before. And the further north it goes, it's going to start to transform into more of a mid-latitude type of situation. But it's already done some damage.

Taking some of the video out of Cuba yesterday. With winds there, category 2 strength over 100 miles an hour, big trees down. Tree limbs, of course, down and power lines down all over. So, infrastructure, destroyed across much of eastern Cuba. And we may very well see similar situation here going forward across the Northeast. Because the wind will be so strong and so long -- long time frame over a large period of real estate.

Here is the rainfall right now across parts of Florida. They're getting battered with the wind and the waves right now. And from Florida through the Carolinas, possibly eastern Long Island, we could see 30 to 40 foot waves before this is done.

Here's your forecast from the National Hurricane Center. Off the coastline but it will be close enough to get tropical storm force winds for some of this area, and again the waves are going to be huge, especially across the Carolinas Sunday, a night into Monday morning. And then we turn left towards the northeast coastline and by this time things get a little bit more convoluted.

So, don't pay attention so much. I know we hear that over and over again when it comes to hurricanes, but this is going to be a different beast. It's going to have a huge wind field. And especially on the right side of the storm, that's where you're going to have your largest impact.

The way this is setting up with that jet stream energy coming in, more like a fall and winter type jet, that infuses the storm with juice and that's going to get it to explode as far as its intensity is concerned and it's going to be big as well.

So, you're going to look at this storm potentially spinning in this area for a few days. So, forget about the category 1 with this. When you've got trees that have leaves on them still, this kind of wind and then rain on top of that, you're talking about trees that are going to come down, power lines are going to be out and the coastal flooding situation as well is going to be huge. We've got lunar high tide meaning the moon is full right now. So, tides are already high.

I do anticipate coastal evacuations along the immediate shoreline. All of Long Island, that probably isn't going to happen. But what folks should start to do is prepare their home for a long duration event, potentially being without power for several days.

That's what we're looking at here. Hopefully this forecast is wrong. But we're getting more confident, many of our computer models now coming into agreement somewhere in that corridor is where this thing will hit Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday -- guys.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Rob. That is great advice.

Of course, stay with Rob. Stay with us. Stay with CNN for the latest track of Hurricane Sandy throughout the day, throughout this weekend. We're tracking it like no one else can with meteorologists and reporters spread across the East Coast. This one is serious, guys.

SAMBOLIN: A New York City police officer is in big trouble this morning. Federal prosecutors have charged him in a gruesome plot to kidnap, rape, and torture women. Then, cook and eat them. Investigators say officer Gilberto Valle used his patrol car to spy on women he was targeting. The 28-year-old cop is accused of accessing a national crime database to locate potential victims. He's being held without bail.

BERMAN: A death row inmate in Ohio who says he's to fat to be executed has lost a round in his battle. Ronald Post weighs about 400 pounds. His lawyers say he's closer to 480. A warden says he put 540 pounds of weights on an execution table for two hours and that the table held up just fine. Post is scheduled to die by lethal injection in January.

SAMBOLIN: A former Heisman Trophy candidate at LSU is facing drug charges. Baton Rouge place arrested Tyrann Mathieu and three former teammates yesterday. Officers say they found 10 bags of marijuana at Mathieu's apartment. College football fans know Mathieu as the Honey Badger. LSU kicked him off the team before the season started reportedly because he failed drug tests.

BERMAN: The San Francisco Giants halfway home. They beat the Tigers last night 2-0 to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series. This game may have been decided in the second inning. Detroit's Prince Fielder here was on first base during Delman Young's double down the line right there. Prince Fielder from first, waved home from third, trying to store. Prince Fielder not fast, and he is out at the plate. The Tigers managed just one hit the rest of the way.

I think you can se how upset Prince Fielder is there. Really upset he was waved home. Should have stayed at third. Not a fast gentleman.

Game three is Saturday night. The Tigers will try to get back in the series then.

SAMBOLIN: Wow. Can you imagine that?

All right. And the Giants have a special guest at last night's game. Bryan Stow is a Giants fan. He was viciously beaten outside Dodger stadium on opening day 2011. You probably remember this. It's believed to be the first ball game he has attended since that attack.

BERMAN: It is great to see him back at the game.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it is.

All right. Seven different polls from across the country all adding up to the exact same thing -- a race for the White House that is simply too close to call. There's just a little over a week left now. We're going to take a much closer look coming up.


BERMAN: For the very last time this week, Soledad O'Brien joins us for a look at what is ahead on "STARTING POINT."

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm just chilling because it's Friday.

Ahead on "STARTING POINT" this morning: right at the top of the hour, we're going to talk about Hurricane Sandy on move, heading toward the eastern U.S. Already it's done some major damage. At least 21 people now reported killed in the Caribbean. Homes have been flattened, flooded.

Now she could turn into this super storm we've been talking about. We're going to track her, bring you the very latest developments on Sandy.

Plus, the Pakistani teenage girl shot by the Taliban for standing up for women's rights has been reunited with her family for the first time since the attack. We're going to update you on the condition of Malala. That's straight ahead this morning.

Presidential candidates, believe it or not, they're campaigning today. What a shock, right? They're vying for your votes. Eleven days left until the election. Neck and neck, we've got polls to show you and a controversy over a comment from a top Romney adviser. Some people say is racially charged. You think? We'll talk about that.

I love Governor Sununu. I love the news that he makes each and every day.

Plus, Mayor Cory Booker is going to join us as well, he'll be paneling with us this morning. And that's right at the top of the hour.

BERMAN: Thank you so much, Soledad. Talking about the polls, neck and neck pretty much a dead heat.

The CNN poll of polls shows it a virtual tie. Mitt Romney with a one- point lead over President Obama, 48 percent to 47 percent.

SAMBOLIN: And brand-new battleground state polls are showing exactly the same thing, with a survey from NBC/Marist/"The Wall Street Journal" showing the candidates exactly tied 48 percent in Colorado. And the president just three points ahead of Romney in Nevada.

And in Virginia, a FOX News poll shows Romney -- Romney is only two points ahead of the president. And within the poll's three-point margin of error.

BERMAN: These three states such key battlegrounds, all tied up there.

We're joined now by Richard Socarides, a Democratic strategist and CNN contributor and columnist for And Margaret Hoover, used to work in the Bush White House, a Republican strategist, also contributor to They are both great friends of ours.

The race all tied up. Locked up nationally pretty much. Locked up in the battleground states.


BERMAN: Eleven days to go. Can anything change this trajectory? Is this just the way it's going to be and we're going to Election Day not knowing who is going to win, Richard?

SOCARIDES: Well, the answer is yes but we don't know what it's going to be, right? I mean, anything could happen, and we know that in close elections events at the last minute sometimes alter things. Sometimes alter them a little bit, make them closer but don't change the outcome.

But, you know, we Democrats feel pretty good about where we are right now. I mean, it is close, but we think President Obama has the slight edge and we're feeling pretty good.

BERMAN: Margaret has a mocking smile right now.

SAMBOLIN: I think she's feeling really good, too.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I would mimic with my Democratic opponent/friend said. I think Republicans feel the same way. I think we agree it's a very, very close race. It could go either way at this point. Outside events can influence the race at the end.

Both campaigns, I will say, especially the Romney campaign, is playing it very safe in these last 11 days. We will see if there is apparently a -- for example, Brian Williams and President Obama went on the road together for two days. The Romney campaign has yet to decide whether they're going to allow the press to have that level of access to Romney. I mean, this is a sign of a guy who thinks he's got some momentum in his direction, and doesn't want to have any missteps.

SOCARIDES: John Sununu not playing it so safe there.

HOOVER: John Sununu did --


SAMBOLIN: You know, this is what we're going to do. We're going to play that and then talk about Sununu.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SUNUNU: And, frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that's an endorsement based on issues or whether he's got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": What reason would that be?

SUNUNU: Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.


SAMBOLIN: So, Margaret, you mention missteps, right? Are these missteps that could affect anything? Is this one of those?

HOOVER: Look. I think missteps by the candidates are the ones that are most likely to affect things. But, clearly, John Sununu has said something that is clearly offensive to a lot of Americans.

This is an esteemed general of the United States who served America and America's military very well. He is also secretary of state. He is widely respected by many, many Americans.

To think that he is picking the president based on the color of his skin and not by any other contributions that he has made or substantive policy contributions is really --

SOCARIDES: Plus, he's a Republican. The important thing about the Colin Powell endorsement is he is a Republican, he votes Republican, he supported a lot of Republican presidents and here he's saying, you know, again, that Barack Obama, in terms of foreign policy, which Colin Powell has a history of caring about, and in terms of domestic policy, Colin Powell, you know, is concerned with the direction of the country very generally, he believes that Barack Obama is the person who will lead us forward.

SAMBOLIN: That was anyone's vote.

HOOVER: It was big news four years ago, Zoraida. I will tell you. I think it really made a difference to a lot of independents who were on the fence but weren't ready to vote for Senator Obama before he was president.

Now it's less of a news story. It happened four years ago. People sort of, at least Republicans, have long expected that Colin Powell would still be --


BERMAN: The Sununu video one thing that bubbled up overnight. There was another controversy bubbling up overnight. It had with a video from the Obama campaign starring Lena Dunham, the star of HBO's hit series "Girls" asking people to vote, comparing your first vote to your first other thing. Let's watch the video.


LENA DUNHAM, ACTRESS: Your first time shouldn't be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy. It should be with a guy with beautiful, someone who really cares about and understands women, a guy who cares whether you get health insurance, specifically whether you get birth control. The consequences are huge.

My first time voting was amazing. It was this line in the sand. Before I was a girl. Now I was a woman. I went to the polling station and pulled back the curtain. I voted for Barack Obama.


BERMAN: Now, a lot of conservatives overnight, including Erick Erickson, Kellyanne Conway who were on "PIERS MORGAN" last night said this was offensive, and demeaning to women.

SOCARIDES: I think this is an Internet advertisement. I think if you know who Lena Dunham is before this ad, you are not going to be offended. I will bet you that Erick Erickson did not know before this ad who Lena Dunham was.

HOOVER: I think he would be offended by the HBO mini series, "Girls", generally.

SOCARIDES: Right. He would be offended by Lena Dunham's show.

HOOVER: In all seriousness, though, what this does demonstrate is there is desperation on behalf of the Obama campaign to get millennial voters. The millennial enthusiasm has dropped. They were a huge part of his enthusiasm, they were 18 percent of the electorate last time, they voted two to one for Barack Obama. This time there's only 48 percent of millennials say that they're going to vote. Yes, Barack Obama is winning, but by less - fewer margins. Way closer margins than four years ago. And so this is clearly a play to get the kids riled up.


BERMAN: That has to be the end.

SOCARIDES: That has to be the end, oh my god.

BERMAN: Can't wait to see you next week though. There's one more week left.

SOCARIDES: We have 11 days left.

BERMAN: -- all next week. Thank you very much.

SAMBOLIN: And you can come back. Margaret Hoover, Richard Socarides, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Forty-five minutes past the hour. Some 8 million people have already voted early and if you are one of them, we would like to hear from you. In our project, Votergraph, we are asking viewers to send in a picture of themselves and tell us who they voted for and why they voted early. Be creative. Take a picture of yourself in front of your house, your business, with your family, perhaps -- something that defines who you are and where you live. And all this week and leading up to the election day, we'll showcase our votergraphs on the show, and we're also going to do this online. To submit your votergraph head to our blog,

BERMAN: Forty-six minutes after the hour right now. Want to get you up to date on the headlines, and there is big one.

Hurricane Sandy setting its sight on the East Coast after killing 21 people in the Caribbean. The storm battering the Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba, flattening homes and flooding roads. Everyone from New England to Virginia now being warned to prepare for action. Why? Because Sandy could merge with a winter storm and reach the East Coast as a devastating superstorm early next week.

SAMBOLIN: Star Wars is almost here. The Navy says it's two years away from army warships with lasers that can zap incoming missiles and fighter jets. And zapping apparently is cheap. A shot from laser reportedly costs less than a buck. Firing one interceptor missile can cost more than $1 million.

BERMAN: I knew I was learning by watching Star Wars. Those 10,000 times when I watched it.

SAMBOLIN: All right, it's a tale of dogged determination that transcends sports. A young man with one hand, listen to this, playing Division I college basketball. His story has inspired a new movie, "Longshot".

Kevin Laue and director Franklin Martin join us live coming up. We are really looking forward to this gentleman.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it would be very difficult to play basketball with just one arm.


SAMBOLIN: In a way that's remarkable. This is incredible. At 19 years old, our next guest made basketball history overcoming obstacles Jordan, Bird and Magic could never even imagine. Now 22 years old, Kevin Laue is the first person in the United States to play Division I basketball with only one hand. Laue was born missing most of his left arm, but that hasn't stopped him on or off the court. His story is featured in a brand-new documentary, "Longshot: The Kevin Laue Story."

And joining us now is Laue and the director of the film, Franklin Martin. Thank you so much, gentlemen, for coming in this morning. I really appreciate it.

So Kevin, the film starts with you visiting your father's grave. He died of leukemia when you were just 10 years old and you say that he was really tough on you growing up. You had a very tense relationship at the time of his death. So coming to terms with his death was really especially hard for you. I want to play a moment in a film from your mom.


KEVIN LAUEU'S MOTHER: His father was in his bed, you know, Hope Hospice was there, it was at the end. Kevin wouldn't touch him and so I put my hand in his dad's arm and Kevin put my hand on top of my hand and that was the last that he had of his dad.


SAMBOLIN: So you say that eventually you came to understand why your father pushed you so hard and you had this really difficult relationship. Why -- why the -- why was the relationship so difficult?

KEVIN LAUE, SUBJECT OF DOCUMENTARY, "LONGSHOT: THE KEVIN LAUE STORY": Well, I think it's hard for any 10-year-old to lose their father, parent in general. He was tough on me. I mean, it was cancer actually. He got cancer. He was diagnosed when I was 7 and he was terminal. And so he knew he only had X amount of years on this planet to teach me, my brother and sister, you know, how to deal with the world. So he did the best he could with the time he had.

SAMBOLIN: Your dad actually introduced you to sports, not necessarily to basketball. After he died, your mom continued to support you and she's the one who pushed basketball. I love this, because the film shows how she reached out to a local coach when you were in middle school. Let's watch this.


KEVIN LAUE'S MOTHER: -- how tall Kevin was, taller than most people in that eighth grade, and he was very interested. I didn't tell him he had one arm.

PATRICK MCKINGITH, COACH: She calls me up and tells me, hey, I got a 6'9 kid, regular kid, ball of joy, would love to play basketball. When we saw him I'm like, oh my gosh. The kid only has one arm. Oh, well, no problem. 6'9, we can teach him something.


SAMBOLIN: Really? No problem? I cannot believe your mother did this. But this man truly inspired you, didn't he?

LAUE: He did, he did. I actually was cut from the seventh grade team and so he took me on board. It was the first year I ever tried out for basketball. I'd played baseball, football and soccer prior to that. So Coach McKnight, as you just saw, he was the first coach to step up and actually, you know, give me the opportunity to play.

SAMBOLIN: Well, most people in the film all we hear is no way, this could never be done, he will never play Division I. You need both of your hands. Not by a long shot. But this was the first person who really believed that you could do it.

LAUE: It's true. And you know, it is a two-handed sport, but my goal was to set out and change that and I feel like I did.

SAMBOLIN: So Franklin, how did you come across Kevin?

FRANKLIN MARTIN, DIRECTOR: Coach McKnight, I don't know if you know him, it comes across quickly in the film, but the Coach McKnight coached the rival school from across town. In his own town, when he got caught, there was no one even that would work with him. So his mom, literally, that's why she kind of gave him that 6'9, but she didn't tell him one arm. It's unbelievable that a guy from another area ends up coaching against him in high school and kind of created a Frankenstein, so to speak, because Kevin became such a good player.

SAMBOLIN: But how did you find out about him?

MARTIN: I found out about him through Coach McKnight at a youth event that neither one of us were supposed to be there. I was asked to coach a team that going to Las Vegas in the middle of summer. I'm not a big Vegas guy in the middle of summer, especially with a bunch of 16-year-olds, so I kept saying no. And finally, at the last second, I said, all right, I'll go. And so I get in a van, drive down to Vegas. And at the same time he's in San Francisco, he doesn't want to go, Coach McKnight drags him out the last second, gets him in the van.

So one guy from San Francisco come in, another guy from L.A., to Vegas, and there's 500 teams. We drew each other. So we had to play against each other and that's when I met Coach McKnight. He tells me, hey, I got this kid. And I said, all right, but then, of course, I played against him.

SAMBOLIN: So Kevin obviously you made it, right? But by the skin of your teeth. Right?

LAUE: Several occasions, yes.

SAMBOLIN: And so what's next for you now?

LAUE: Well, I graduated at Manhattan College in three years, so I still have a year left of eligibility to play.

SAMBOLIN: One of the things I noticed in the film is you're also on excellent student, so on top of that.

LAUE: Wasn't always the case.

SAMBOLIN: What do you want people to take away from this film?

LAUE: Never give up on your dreams. Like you were telling me before, your son wants to play Division I basketball. Just don't listen to the negatives. You just -- everyone has their own obstacles to overcome and take them as blessings rather than, you know, curses.

SAMBOLIN: To watch you play, I have to tell you, it's an absolute joy. Congratulations to you.

LAUE: Appreciate that so much.

SAMBOLIN: And to your mom, your grandmother, everybody in here. It's an incredible film. I truly recommend it. Kevin Laue, Franklin Martin, thank you both were coming.

And today's Best Advice still coming up.


BERMAN: Winding down here, as always, we wrap it up with Best Advice. Today's comes from Robert Gibbs, the senior adviser to President Obama and former White House press secretary.


ROBERT GIBBS, SENIOR CAMPAIGN. ADVISER FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: The best advice I ever received, I think the reason most successful people are successful, is they're never, ever afraid to fail. They're never afraid to take on a challenge because somehow they might not accomplish that challenge. Unless you take that challenge on, unless you strive to do better and be better, you'll never attain it. So never, ever be afraid to fail.


BERMAN: Going to go out and fail several times today, no doubt. 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.