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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

A Dangerous Storm Threatens East Coast; Mother Comes Home to Find Kids Stabbed; Giants Lead 2-0 in World Series; Interview with Congressman Pete Sessions; Battling for Battleground States; New Economic Numbers Indicate U.S. Economy Growing; Trickery from Trump; Dunham's "First Time" as a Voter; Education Transforms Slums

Aired October 26, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning: bracing for a dangerous storm. Hurricane Sandy is barreling toward the United States after killing at least 21 people in the Caribbean and now the East Coast is preparing for what could be a super storm.

Tragedy and horror. A mother returns home to her apartment, finds her two young children have been stabbed to death. Police say the nanny is the one responsible.

And controversy this morning over a Romney campaign adviser's comment. Here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. GOV. 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Or maybe his race. I'll finish the thought for him.

It's Friday, October 26th. STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody.

Our team this morning: Ryan Lizza is with us, Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker". Richard Socarides is writer for NewYorker.com. Heavy on the "New Yorker" on this panel today. Also former senior adviser to President Clinton.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, NEWYORKER.COM: Yes, thank you.

O'BRIEN: Will Cain is a columnist at TheBlaze.com. John Berman with "EARLY START", sticking around to help us out with the news. STARTING POINT this morning is a perfect storm of epic proportions could be headed our way. From New England to Virginia, people are being told to take action, this rare complex atmospheric scenario that's developing and it could turn hurricane Sandy what they're calling a super storm.

Already, serious damage has been done. Eleven people dead in Cuba. Hurricane reaping off roofs, homes crushed. Other people's -- even though, rather, the storm is several days away from hitting the East Coast, sandbagging has already started as far north as New Jersey.

Let's get right to Rob Marciano. He is tracking Sandy for us. He's in the CNN weather center in Atlanta. Good morning.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Soledad.

You know, memories of hurricane Irene certainly are likely fresh for the area across the Northeast, New England, back through the Appalachians. And this storm is going to be tracking that way.

We get the latest numbers in from the National Hurricane Center: 80- mile-an-hour winds. It has come up a couple of millibars, starting to transform its characteristics a little bit and expand itself. That's what we expect to be the main threat going forward.

The northern part of this thing is where most of the clouds and convection are. It's about 200 miles off the coast of Florida. They're getting battered with wind and waves there now. Also some rain. And it has slowed down a little bit, northwesterly at about 10 miles an hour. It's about 480 miles to the south of Charleston, South Carolina.

All right. Here is the forecast track for the National Hurricane Center. This has not changed. It's pretty much going to parallel the coastline of a category 1 storm or thereabouts over the next couple of days. Huge waves are expected over the weekend from Cape Hatteras, all the way down to Florida, 30, 40 footers possibly. Coastal flooding there and certainly some beach erosion.

And then the turn back toward the northwest -- or the Northeast, I should say, coastline there. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday time frame. And, you know, they say, category 1, we've had worse. Well, it's going to be a larger storm. The wind field will expand to have tropical storm force winds that could be at 700 miles across.

So, basically, Boston to D.C. could be the area of extent here. It could sit around for a while as well. So, that's the problem with this thing, something that we haven't really seen impact like this we saw the perfect storm in 1991. That stayed offshore. This is sort of that combination, but it looks like it wants to come on shore. That means some big trouble -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Rob Marciano for us -- it always worries me when meteorologists say we haven't seen something like this. And they're giving red flags this far out. I mean, they're looking at a strike of Monday to make landfall. All right. Let's turn to a heartbreaking story we've been following this morning. A mother comes home to her apartment here in New York City, finds that two of her three young children have been stabbed to death. Police are now saying it was the nanny who killed them and then stabbed herself.

Deb Feyerick has been following this for us.

This is such a horrific story. Happened here in New York City.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And every parent can understand why this is so tragic, every family. I was going through pictures and entries on the mom's blog. This is a really happy, tight-knit, young family.

So, why did the nanny apparently snap and do something as terrible as police alleged?

The nanny is in critical condition under arrest. She's not yet been charged,

But the parents, Marina and Kevin Krim, a media executive at CNBC, devastated. It happened yesterday, about 5:30. Thirty-eight-year-old Marina Krim returned from a swimming lesson with her middle child, a 3-year-old daughter.

The apartment was dark but the doorman said no one has left. So, the mother searched, finding her beloved children, 6-year-old Lulu and 2- year-old Leo in a bathtub stabbed multiple times. The nanny on the floor, a kitchen knife next to her. Police say she slashed her own throat.

Neighbors called 911 after hearing the mother's distraught screams. The father, Kim Krim, he was on his way home from a business trip. He was met at the airport by police and taken to a New York hospital where his children were pronounced dead.

The mom kept a blog calling it "Life with the Krim Kids". You look at the photos of these children. They're happy. They're smiling. They're living a life near Central Park. They've gone pumpkin picking.

And she writes, "I'm very proud that the three kids absolutely love to play together and never seem to get bored at home. They're constantly thinking up fun things to do in the house."

And, Soledad, what resonates about this story is the leap of faith that parents take when they entrust their kids to somebody else. Reports say the family only hired this nanny after the third son -- or after the third child, a son, was born. So, they did so carefully.

O'BRIEN: Why? What's the why? Why would the nanny, clearly who has been with the family roughly -- the baby was 2 years old. So, let's say approximately two years she has been working with the family.

They had gone to the Dominican Republic where she's from, right? So, they were extra close with their nanny. What happened?

FEYERICK: Yes. That's the question. What happened? I mean, this is the older child. This is 6-year-old Lulu. That's the little boy. He just turned 2.

But what strikes you is that the children just -- they look so happy. She's blogging about what a wonderful family they are, about her husband, about all these great things that are happening. What was going on in the nanny's psyche?

Look, they could have done a background check. They could have done a criminal check. They could have asked for references.

One thing that is the wild card that you never, never know is what is going on in somebody's head and what personal issue they, themselves, may be wrestling with. We as moms, we as dads, we as parents all know what that's about.

(CROSSTALK)

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What resonates about this story, it's a terrible story, is the leap of faith so many parents take. I mean, I can identify with the story because I have two children the same age. I live in the same neighborhood.

But the truth is what scares you so much is that everyone can prepare for the bad guy to some extent, the outside coming in. What's so terrifying is the inside going wrong, the trust you put into someone taking care of your children and it turns. This is just -- it's killing me, the story.

FEYERICK: Absolutely. It could be a babysitter. It could be anybody. It could be -- and that's -- you're right. That's what's so scary.

O'BRIEN: Deb Feyerick, thank you for the update. What a terrible story to have to be digging into this morning.

We've got other stories making news as well. And John Berman has got a look at that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Thanks, Soledad.

Malala Yousufzai, the teenager from Pakistan who is shot in the head by the Taliban, is being reunited with her parents in Britain this morning. They arrived just hours ago. Malala's father is calling her everyone's daughter.

The 15-year-old is in a Birmingham hospital, recovering. She can stand now. And doctors say she's in stable condition. Malala has become a symbol of courage for her risking her life by demanding equal education for girls in Pakistan.

George McGovern will be laid no rest today in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The senator and former presidential candidate died last weekend at the age of 90. There was a public viewing and prayer service yesterday. McGovern was eulogized by Vice President Joe Biden who said McGovern gave him the courage to run for office.

George Zimmerman is expected in court this morning when prosecutors asked the judge to impose a gag order on his case. Zimmerman is charged with secondary murder for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The prosecution will argue that Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara has been using a social media Web site and news conferences to influence potential jurors.

And the Detroit Tigers, they better hope some home cooking will help them back into the World Series. The Tigers down two games to none after being shut out by the San Francisco Giants last night.

What we're looking at here is Prince Fielder lumbering around third, being thrown out at home base. Probably should have stayed at third base.

Game three, tomorrow night at Comerica Park in Detroit.

O'BRIEN: He's so mad.

BERMAN: I think he was mad he was sent home.

CAIN: He's waived home in third base.

BERMAN: Yes.

CAIN: Prince Fielder coming around the corner, coach.

BERMAN: Exactly.

O'BRIEN: All right. Just 11 days until the election and new polls show that swing state races are to close to call in many cases. President Obamas had a three-point lead in Nevada, but that's within the sampling error there. Colorado is an out-and-out tie, 48 to 48. Virginia, Governor Romney is up, which again is within the percent of error. There's 7 percent undecided there.

President Obama is back in D.C. today after finishing his whirl wind tour of swing states, stop in his home state in Illinois where he cast his vote, complete with his I.D. check. Take that, Donald Trump.

Mitt Romney set to give a major --

(CROSSTALK)

SOCARIDES: It's probably his photo ID.

O'BRIEN: It had to be some kind of photo ID, right?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He didn't show his college transcripts either.

O'BRIEN: That's true. I take that back. He did not bring his college transcript.

LIZZA: Do you think he has to bring a passport? O'BRIEN: Don't laugh, Will Cain. That was a crazy moment when he did that.

Anyway, the governor is set to give a major economic speech today. That's going to happen in the state of Iowa after he was spending time yesterday in the state of Ohio.

Pete Sessions is a Congressman from Texas. He's also the chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, which supports Republicans for races for the House. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you so much for talking with us.

REP. PETE SESSIONS, (R) TEXAS: Good morning, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Why don't we begin with some of those polls that I was just laying out for you. What's your takeaway from the polls? it looks like it's very, very tight, especially in those swing states.

SESSIONS: Well, my takeaway is, and I've been to about 40 congressional districts that includes some states that you mentioned, and I believe that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are playing well. I believe the president still has an insatiable appetite to talk about taxing and spending and the American people, including women and seniors, have caught on. Women are concerned about taking care of their families, gasoline prices, food prices and we need jobs. So Republicans are doing well. I think we'll end up winning those tight races.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about endorsements. There's a bunch to talk about. Let's start with General Colin Powell. He endorsed President Obama and also in the same sentence, frankly, criticized Governor Romney. I'm going to play a little bit about what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. COLIN POWELL (RET.), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Not only am I uncomfortable with what Governor Romney is proposing for his economic plan, I have concerns about his views on foreign policy. The governor who was speaking on Monday night at the debate was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier. So I'm not quite sure which Governor Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy.

(END VIDEP CLIP)

O'BRIEN: What was your take on impact -- what was your take? And also I would like to know your sense of the impact of that endorsement from General Powell.

SESSIONS: Well, first of all, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, which he is, and the former Admiral Mullens have both had the same job. And Admiral Mullens said the greatest threat to America is our debt. Our debt still is our greatest impact.

And General Powell is a friend of mine, a friend of my family's, a great American. But I believe that Colin Powell probably is missing the link, and that is Americans are having problems finding work. We cannot find work. We're 23 million people who are unemployed or underemployed and we need jobs in this country. We cannot be strong or have a strong foreign policy if we continue the tax and spending that President Obama chooses to take this country down that path.

O'BRIEN: Do you think he's supporting President Obama because he's black and the president is black?

SESSIONS: You know, I think that President Obama is a person who has a great relationship with a number of people. Colin Powell does, too. I think Colin Powell is a fine American, a great leader and sees things in President Obama that he agrees with. He's entitled to have his opinion. I do not think it's because --

O'BRIEN: That wasn't my question. No, my question was -- and I raise it not just speciously, of course. As you well know, Governor Sununu give that as his reason why he believed Colin Powell was supporting President Obama. I'll play a little bit of what Governor Sununu told Piers Morgan last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUNUNU: And frankly when you take a lock 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": 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So he's saying, you're proud of him, someone of your own race. Sounds like he's saying, I'm black, he's black, that's what Colin Powell is thinking as he gives his support to President Obama. So my question to you would be do you think the same thing?

SESSIONS: No, I think you would have to ask Colin Powell. I think that -- I support Mitt Romney. You can say that I endorse Mitt Romney, but that's not just because I'm a white man. We all have things which we're for and ideas which we support. Colin Powell believes the president is heading down the right path. I simply disagree on this issue with Colin Powell.

But let's go to the real point of this, and that is both these candidates, Mitt Romney and President Obama, have had a chance to sell what they believe to the country. On the House side, we're doing the same. As chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, I'm responsible for House races, our candidates and performances. I think we're doing a great job.

We have African-American, as matter of fact, Haitian-American candidate in Utah that's doing a great job. We have a guy, Randy Altschuler, downtown literally in New York, New York City, out on the island, Randy Altschuler. Probably is going to win his race. We have Richard Tisei in Massachusetts, a man who's going to win, a Republican in Massachusetts.

This is the kind of strength that the House Republicans have as we talk about the issues of growing jobs and making America stronger. It's looking at two different worlds, one where we're going to grow our economy or one where we're going to continue down the path of taxing and spending. That's why House Republicans are winning and I think Mitt Romney can do the same.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Pete Sessions joining us. He's a Republican from Texas. Nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us. We appreciate it.

SESSIONS: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Rocky Mountain high. We're live on the ground with Miguel Marquez. He's in Colorado as we continue our tour through those critical swing states.

And we'll get another snapshot of how the economy is doing in 20 minutes from now when the latest GDP numbers are going to be released. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Morning. Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Colorado is one of eight crucial swing states that the Obama and Romney campaigns are fighting to the finish. This morning, CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Golden, Colorado, and he's taking the pulse of the voters there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here we are, Rocky Mountain high in Golden, Colorado. This is Jefferson County. It's one of the most competitive counties in this state. Both campaigns are working this county very hard. It's because as little as 20,000 or 30,000 votes across the entire state of Colorado could paint this state red or blue.

(voice-over): That's as little as 1 percent of the overall votes statewide.

(on camera): This is always the scariest bit of this, isn't it?

SPENCER HENNIGAN, APEX EX ADVENTURE TRIPS: The first step is always the hardest.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Spencer Hennigan has run Apex EX Adventure Trips for two years.

(on camera): So this is the office? HENNIGAN: True, true.

MARQUEZ: Not a bad office.

HENNIGAN: I like it.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Business has grown. Starting with four guides, he now has 20. This year the company's biggest, 3,000 trips, everything from rappelling to back country skiing.

HENNIGAN: It's a lot of hard work.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The business expanded, he says, by keeping prices low and taking advantage of Coloradoans staying close to home.

(on camera): What do you hope for the next four years?

HENNIGAN: The more people that we can raise the bar for equal pay, the more that we can feel inclusion in this state.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): While some have weathered the recession well, Colorado continues to struggle. The unemployment rate across the state about 8 percent. Here in Jefferson County, it's about 7.4 percent, just a little better.

(on camera): This is the new restaurant.

LORENZO NUNEZ, EL CHINGON RESTAURANT: This is it.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The Nunez family, all ten of them, pitching in on a new venture, a family restaurant. The restaurant's draw: authentic cuisine prepared by Gloria Nunez, who moved here from Mexico City when she was 21.

(on camera): How many recipes are in your head?

GLORIA NUNEZ, EL CHINGON RESTAURANT: I don't know. I can never count them.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Now at 74 she is known as abuelita -- grandma.

(on camera): What do you hope to see in the next few years?

G. NUNEZ: Well, I think one of the most important things is the economy to go up a little.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Now, the restaurant is run out of a strip mall. Soon a new building, liquor license and as many as 15 new employees. But this family is still agonizing over which candidate is best for the future.

(on camera): What makes this area so competitive?

L. NUNEZ: As you consider the numbers in terms of how the Hispanic population is growing not only here but across the country, we have an important voice. MARQUEZ (voice-over): Latinos, business owners and newer residents ready to deliver Colorado's crucial nine electoral votes. They could decide who takes the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ: Now most people here in Colorado have made up their minds, now that we've been through three debates and so many of them have been hit by phone calls, door knocks to their doors every day or several times a day and lots of letters to the post -- through the post.

But there's a new poll out. They're all tied up here. It's been like that for months here in Colorado. President Obama is coming back to the state next week to Colorado Springs. That's conservative territory there. Apparently trying to win some voters back there or at least stop the Romney momentum in those areas where he's going to get big votes here. Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Miguel Marquez for us. So we have seen Miguel hiking in that story. We have seen Miguel roller skating, in a previous story.

BERMAN: Roller derby.

O'BRIEN: Roller derby-ing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw him with the cows.

O'BRIEN: We saw him milking cows.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was my favorite.

O'BRIEN: We did like the cows the best, I think, that shot under the cow. The next stop is in Washo County in Nevada. That's a sliver of a county in the northwest corner of a crucial battleground state.

BERMAN: Where we'll find Miguel at the blackjack tables.

O'BRIEN: Yes, that's right. He will be gambling.

SOCARIDES: The Romney campaign is very excited.

O'BRIEN: Are we right about that, Miguel? Are you going to be gambling for us? We'll check in with him; that's going to be on Tuesday. Tough gig, but someone's got to do it.

We got to take a break. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, just a few minutes, we're going to take a look at how healthy the economy is. We'll bring you the latest GDP numbers as they are coming in.

And they say it's good luck.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: In 1989, the Giants were in the World Series versus the Oakland A's.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: OK. Oh my god! Oh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Yep. She's in hysterics, because a bird has just pooped on her co-anchor.

SOCARIDES: That ever happen to you?

O'BRIEN: Never, thank god. Some other things have happened, though. I can share with you later.

BERMAN: Wow! that's a tease.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're waiting for those GDP numbers for the last three months, which should show us the health of the economy and just how fast the economy is growing.

Let's bring in Zanny Minton Beddoes. She's the chief economist at "Economist" magazine. It's nice to have you with us.

So we know, according to CNN Money, which of a survey of economists, they were predicting that the number would be something like 1.7. We know that the previous quarter was 1.3. So give me a sense of exactly what this number is and if it is in that range, while we wait these numbers, while we wait these numbers, what does it mean?

ZANNY MINTON BEDDOES, CHIEF ECONOMIST, "THE ECONOMIST": Sure. Well, the number's how fast the economy is going. At 1.3, which is the -- 1.3 percent, which is the amount the economy was growing in the second quarter of the year, is pretty slow. It's not recession but unbelievably slow recovery. When we're looking for and the expectation is that that is accelerating a little bit, but it's still a pretty slow economy, 1.7, 1.8. But I think the implication is it's not accelerated, it's bad news. If the number is higher, that's pretty good news. As we come into a period of huge uncertainty about the fiscal cliff, it's important to know where it is right now.

O'BRIEN: GDP looks specifically at consumer spending, right, specifically at housing as well.

MINTON BEDDOES: GDP is the over --

O'BRIEN: They just gave me the number. It is at 2 percent.

MINTON BEDDOES: Slightly better than expected.

O'BRIEN: We know that CNN money had surveyed economists and predicted 1.7. The number is actually two percent, up from 1.3 percent. How do you feel about that number?

MINTON BEDDOES: You know, it's better as 1.3 was really very slow. This is the pace that the overall economy is growing. It's everything in the economy put together, how fast is it growing. By historical signs, two percent is not great but it's a heck of a lot better than 1.3 percent. So we're going in the right direction.

MAYOR CORY BOOKER, (D) NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Does this suggest anything about the unemployment numbers which we're going to see next Friday, just three days before the election?

MINTON BEDDOES: I suspect it suggests continued slow job growth, continued growth. I think the economy is expanding. It's growing. It's not a very -- it's not a great expansion. Ta's not booming. I think it's going in the right direction. I suspect that will show up in the unemployment figures, too.

LIZZA: Just politically between Romney and Obama, it is hard to beat an incumbent in a growing economy, even if it's growing at this middling pace of two percent. This means that for all the talk about how bad the economy is and what a tough job Obama has winning re- election, historically, if you're an incumbent in a growing economy, you should be able to get re-elected.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about what the GDP includes before that number came in. That number is two percent, to reiterate to everybody who is watching. Consumer spending and housing -- we know we've had lots of conversations that housing is improving and getting stronger. At the same time, corporate earnings kind of stuck. What's the big takeaway?

MINTON BEDDOES: The GDP is basically a measure of all the growth in the economy, consumer spending, investment, government spending, exports. You actually take away imports. That's when you're getting things from abroad. You have biggest component is consumer spending, by far the most important component.

So how consumers are feeling, how much they're spending is a huge driver of what happens to GDP. The housing is a big part because it's quite volatile. Traditionally, recoveries in the U.S. have been led by housing. People start spending more on housing, it also means they start spending more to put in their homes, so both of those are important factors. Government spending is -- if you're in a period like we are now where we're trying to cut government spending, that's a drag. For example state and local governments have been laying off teachers, been lay in laying off people. That's a drag on GDP. I think in terms of what's going to be the driver going forward, it's going to be consumer spending, exports, investment and housing. O'BRIEN: The GDP coming in at two percent growth rate in the third quarter, which is a number a little bit higher than some economists were predicting, the analysis from CNN money came in at 1.7 percent. Somebody said -- I think it was some economists saying that the sales of the iPhone 5 alone could actually sort of move the needle, this one particular consumer good.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Now he's just bragging. Is that true maybe?

MINTON BEDDOES: It could well be true. There was an actual huge explosion. I tend to look at what are the broad drivers of GDP? Quarter by quarter lots of things can make a difference. To get this recovery going in the short term we need the housing recovery to be for real and to really take off.

LIZZA: We're growing at 2 percent. What happens when the fiscal cliff hits December 31st?

MINTON BEDDOES: That is a real risk.

O'BRIEN: Will we be back into negative territory?

MINTON BEDDOES: This package of automatic spending cuts and tax increases that will hit at the end of this year if nothing is done in congress.

O'BRIEN: Is it having an affect already?

MINTON BEDDOES: It's having an effect on businesses already. Businesses have to plan ahead. Companies are worried about huge cuts to their contracts next year. People who are thinking about hiring, are you going to hire the next few people? You're going to wait to see what happens. That uncertainty does hangover businesses. It is having an effect. It will have a much bigger effect if we go over it and it stays.

O'BRIEN: Zanny Beddoes, thank you for crunching the numbers in real time as they came in real time.

Other stories that we're following this morning, the perfect storm is what they're calling it. It might be bearing down on the east coast of the United States, hurricane Sandy. It's already killed 21 people in the Caribbean. The category one story is now threatening millions of people from Virginia all the way up to New England. Right now Sandy is moving northwest at about 150 miles off the coast of south Florida. And it's looking more and more likely that the northeast is going to be the place that's hit hard early next week.

Let's get right to meteorologist Rob Marciano in the extreme weather center in Atlanta for us. Hey, Rob.

MARCIANO: Hey, Soledad. The wind field with Sandy is continuing to grow. It's not necessarily strengthening. We don't anticipate that in the next 24 hours but it's changing. There's Movement at 10 miles per hour, 80-mile-per-hour winds, wind-driven rain and waves off the coast of Florida. Carolinas will see huge waves, possibly 30 or 40 footers over the weekend. It stays off the coast. As it gets through the Bahamas this morning, makes the turnaround North Carolina Sunday into Monday and then this turn to the left that we've been discussing as a possibility is looking more and more likely. The question is, what shape is sandy in and what does this incoming cold front -- remember, we're into fall now, and that strong jet stream, what kind of energy does it give it to wind it up even more?

And our computer models are really doing a number on this thing as far as making it a big storm with a huge wind field. The wind field of damaging winds could be 400 or 500 miles wide. You're talking about massive amounts of power outages. We have a lunar high tide as well. Coastal flooding will be an issue. On the back side of this will be snow as well. so things are a little bit more certain, although not 100 percent certain this morning. More confident there's going to be a huge impact storm with this system come Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week.

O'BRIEN: Wow, that looks like just a big mess. I'm sure it will be all that we're talking about at the start of next week. Thank you, rob. Appreciate it.

John Berman has a look at the other headlines this morning.

BERMAN: Thank you, Soledad. Shocking story in New York City, a police officer has been charged in a gruesome plot to kidnap, rape women and then cook and eat them. A 28-year-old cop is accused of accessing a national crime database to locate potential victims. He is being held without bail.

A nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak has killed 24 and sickened 323 others. Health officials say out of 14,000 patients who received potentially tainted injections, 98 percent have been reached for follow-up visits.

Windows 8 hits the store shelves today. It is Microsoft's new operating system that works on PCs and touch screen devices. It looks drastically different. It's a big gamble for Microsoft as windows is a huge money maker and hasn't changed much since 1995.

Apple's iPad mini is online for preorder on Apple's Web site. The company also reported earnings that missed analyst's expectations. That does not happen a lot with Apple.

Some relief at the pump, gas prices have been falling for 15 straight days. National average for a gallon is $3.58. AAA expects gas prices to continue to fall the next few weeks. Only fill up half a tank when you get to the station next time because it's going to get better.

Anything can happen on live TV, trust me. Watch this. A bird decided to play target practice with a Sacramento anchor during a World Series report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: In 1989 the Giants were in the World Series versus the Oakland A's.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: OK. Oh my gosh! Oh!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: KTXL says it didn't just hit his suit. He got pelted in the face, too. That is charming. Said he always wanted to be a viral sensation. So now mission accomplished.

O'BRIEN: I love the support from his co-anchor. She's just there for him.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: After doubling over in laughter she did help to wipe it off for a really long time.

BERMAN: You're not going to tell us about what happened to you?

O'BRIEN: I certainly wasn't pooped on from a bird, but I have kicked people in the face from a live shot truck.

BOOKER: Lots of things happen out there in California.

O'BRIEN: See? That's a long story for another day.

Politics and sex mixed up together -- it's a new ad for the Obama campaign from "Girls" star Lena Dunham.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LENA DUNHAM, CREATOR, "GIRLS": Your first time, you want to do it with a great guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Some people say it crosses the line of good taste. Will and I will debate that straight ahead.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: It's America's choice, 2012. Welcome back. Presidential polls, dead heat. Lots of talk about an October surprise, which could mean different things to different people, because Donald Trump kind of thought he had an October surprise. That was the most non- surprising alleged surprise ever. Let's bring in Howie Kurtz, host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES," and Lorne Ashburn is back, "Daily Beast" contributor and editor in chief of the "Daily Download."

Let's start with Donald Trump. Remember the run-up to the announcement, it's going to be shocking.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Everyone should gather around their television. Here is how it went. Yawn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, CEO, TRUMP ENTERPRISES: If Barack Obama opens up and gives his college records and applications and gives his passport applications and records, I will give to a charity of his choice, inner city children in Chicago, American cancer society, AIDS research, anything he wants, a check immediately --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Stop it, immediately. Blah, blah, blah. Make it go away. My ear drums are bleeding. Stop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the media love it.

LIZZA: See, you're doing just what everyone in the media does. They show it and say oh, this is terrible.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Dead to me. Ryan Lizza, dead to me. I'm sorry. I can't hear you Ryan. Go ahead.

SOCARIDES: Why people like it is because when I saw that, it looked like a "Saturday Night Live" skit from Donald Trump.

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": It didn't look like the real Donald Trump.

LAUREN ASHBURN, CONTRIBUTOR, DAILY BEAST: I was interviewing -- talking to a "Washington Post" columnist right before it was going to happen and he was going like this and sort of cackling like this is going to be great. I can't wait to write about this.

KURTZ: This is turning into what I call the clown campaign. So in one ring you have Donald Trump and this ridiculous stunt with a $5 million offer. And over here you have Ann Coulter calling the President a retard and over here President Obama is called he use the BS term and all of this stuff --

O'BRIEN: Lena Dunham has a new ad --

KURTZ: And Lena Dunham has a new ad and actually it makes an analogy to sex. And if all you're going to think that this is crowding out in the media and most of the media -- any serious discussions of issues. Remember the foreign policy debate on Monday.

ASHBURN: I'm saying BS. I'm saying BS.

KURTZ: Well, no, BS.

ASHBURN: No true.

O'BRIEN: And so you think it's crowding out any sort of thoughtful conversation? And you think it's not. ASHBURN: I don't think so. I think look, you can go to the Super PAC app. You can go to "New York Times" political ticker, you can go anywhere you want and get substantive information.

CAIN: I take -- I take Howie's side in this debate. Because here is the deal.

O'BRIEN: Boys against girls?

ASHBURN: Give me a break.

CAIN: It must be. Yes, it's outrage. The media has the ability to set a narrative. It defines what we end up talking about. Your point that we can find substantive information is true. My question then, Howie, for you is this -- why? Why are we taken by binders and Big Bird and bayonets? Why do we run from one to the next? Why do we run from (inaudible) without having a conversation about due process and drones or drug wars? I'm doing a lot of alliterations here.

KURTZ: Yes, I mean, I've been told to stop.

By the way, the foreign policy debate on Monday it lasted 24 hours in the media coverage and nobody cared about it.

(CROSSTALK)

ASHBURN: But it lasted. It was there.

KURTZ: OK, look, let me answer his question, if I might.

O'BRIEN: OK, so -- go ahead, yes, you may.

KURTZ: OK, it's in part, that we're all chasing clicks and eyeballs and ratings. But it's more than that. This stuff is easy. It's cotton candy. It's fun. Exploring the difference between the two campaigns on Medicare is a little bit more heavy lifting.

(CROSSTALK)

ASHBURN: But Howie --

O'BRIEN: But here -- but here is what I would add to that which is, isn't it also what people are talking about? Like regular folks we're talking about Big Bird. People watching the debate -- it didn't just happen that the media brought this conversation forward. In fact, on Twitter, the thing went viral immediately. The bayonets and whatever.

So isn't -- aren't we following what the people are talking about versus creating the -- you know defining the talking points and creating what people are talking about, Will Cain?

LIZZA: Will you're examples are wrong. Binders was a legitimate issue and bayonets was a legitimate part of the debate.

O'BRIEN: Agreed. Agreed.

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: Big Bird was legitimate.

ASHBURN: It's a one word.

LIZZA: And it think that's -- that's very different than some of the other stuff that Howie was talking about.

SOCARIDES: You know the point also is that we have had a very substantive conversation for a long time. I mean, we've talked about a lot of important issues this campaign has gone on for a long time.

KURTZ: Where did they go?

SOCARIDES: And now we're down to the last 11 days.

(CROSSTALK)

ASHBURN: We are down to the last 11 days.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: But listen, Lena Dunham's ad and I am a fan of her show. You and I had a little fight about that a minute ago but --

LIZZA: It's a horrible show.

O'BRIEN: Let's play that clip of Lena. She is supporting President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DUNHAM: The first time shouldn't just be with anybody. You want to do it with a great guy. It should be with a guy with beautiful -- somebody 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, I pulled back the curtain. And I voted for Barack --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: OK, so you could argue that what she's raising -- yes, the beginning obviously she's doing this whole, the first time. But then the turn, the music goes up and her whole point is for young women like me, birth control and abortion and et cetera, et cetera, is important and this is why I'm choosing this candidate, right? Isn't that substantive?

SOCARIDES: It's a very clever ad. I think it's you know it's clever it's aimed -- obviously aimed at a certain demographic and it's very cleverly presented.

O'BRIEN: 20-something women. (CROSSTALK)

ASHBURN: It's aimed to the lowest common denominator.

KURTZ: No, I don't think so, I don't so. When I first heard about it, I thought it was controversial. And when I saw it I think it's a clever ad. It did fill a gap in the coverage here, which there hasn't been enough sex in this campaign, right?

O'BRIEN: Well, there hasn't.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: We have 11 days still, though, to get a good sex scandal in. No?

SOCARIDES: You're not going to get it from Mitt Romney.

LIZZA: It's a matter of proportion. I mean, there's plenty of time to do the fun stuff.

ASHBURN: Gloria Allred tried to do it, she tried to sort of put Mitt Romney in some sort of divorce. And you know, none of it made sense.

O'BRIEN: There's no scandal. We've got 11 days. It's going to be very deep. And the people reading about it, everybody's five-point plan. We can all go to their apps and their Web sites and there will debates about Medicare. And of course Lena Dunham's ad, young women can decide who they want to vote for in terms of birth control -- blah, blah, blah. We'll keep talking about polls, right.

We're back in a moment, thanks guys. I appreciate it as always.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Every week we are shining a spotlight on the top ten CNN Heroes of 2012. You vote for the one who inspires you the most at CNNHeroes.com.

This week's hero grew up in a South African slum but when the post apartheid era didn't improve life there he took matters into his own hand. His name is, I'm really going to mess this up Thulani Madondo and this is his story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THULANI MADONDO, CNN HERO: Kliptown has not changed. There is no electricity. People are living in shacks. Growing up in Kliptown makes you feel like you don't have control over your life. Many children drop out of school because they don't have the school uniforms and textbooks. I realize that the only way that Kliptown could change was through education.

I'm Thulani Madondo. I'm helping to educate children so we can change Kliptown together. We help the children by paying for their school books, school uniforms. Our main focus is our tutoring program that we run four days a week. As young people who were born and raised here we know the challenges of this community.

We also do a number of activities. We've got to come together for fun while we also come together for academics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This program gave me a chance to go to university. They also paid for my fees but I also come back and help out here.

A little can go a long way.

MADONDO: What subjects do we need to study.

Math and Science and English. Exactly. Right.

I did not go to university. If I've been able to help them, I feel excited.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am going to be an accountant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am going to be a lawyer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am going to be a nurse.

MADONDO: The work that you're doing here is bringing change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: "End Point" is up next. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Millions of people voted early. If you're one of them, we want to hear from you. Send a picture of yourself -- send us a picture, tell us why you voted, who you voted for, why you decided to vote early. Take a picture of yourself in front of your house or your business, something that defines who you are so we can learn more about you.

We're going to show these voter graphs -- that's what we're calling them -- all next week on the show and online. Go to CNN.com/startingpoint, or tweet them us at @startingptCNN.

All right. "End Point". John Berman start us off.

BERMAN: Tomorrow President Obama is going to (INAUDIBLE) in New Hampshire. The state of New Hampshire has a whopping four electoral votes -- four. It's his second time there in two weeks. Why is he going? Because this election could be that close.

(CROSSTALK)

SOCARIDES: You could see a tie.

LIZZA: If the Electoral College of New Hampshire in play, the Electoral College could be tied.

BERMAN: It could be tied.

LIZZA: Every other crazy thing in politics the last decade. Why not a tie that goes to the House of Representatives and the Senate? What would happen? We could have a President Romney and a Vice President Biden because each chamber chooses one.

BERMAN: You will likely have that.

LIZZA: Likely if the parties voted as you would think they would vote.

The House votes for Presidents and they vote by state delegation. And then senate votes for vice president. One is controlled by the Republicans; the other is controlled by the Democrats. Imagine a Romney/Biden presidency.

CAIN: That would be really awesome.

KURTZ: I think they would work so well.

O'BRIEN: In so many ways, right?

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Just in terms of coverage, yes.

SOCARIDES: Paul Ryan wouldn't be too happy. But listen, I think -- being a little more serious about this -- the election is very close. I agree with Ryan, what he said earlier. I think the economy is getting better just enough so that I think President Obama will go over the line.

CAIN: I mean two percent is not great but it's -- two percent GDP is enough that every side is going to get to say exactly what they want to say about the economy.

O'BRIEN: I agree.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.

Have a great weekend everybody. Good morning to you Carol.