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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

October Jobs Report Preview; Closing Arguments; Clint Eastwood Explains "The Chair"; Aftermath Of Superstorm Sandy; Limited Service In NYC Subway System; Police Called To Keep The Peace; Lines Growing For Gas; New Jersey Water Emergency; Final Jobs Report Before Election; Interview with Congressman Michael Burgess of Texas

Aired November 2, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Will it be the final factor? Four days before America votes, we're about to get the last pre-election numbers on jobs and our economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, I can't. I can't do it anymore.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R)NEW JERSEY: I know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got nothing left, memories or anything else. Everything is ruined.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Survivors of Hurricane Sandy still waiting for help and worrying about the future. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east and we begin with the last real economic barometer before Tuesday's election. The Labor Department releases the October jobs report about 2-1/2 hours from now.

Jobs and the economy, of course, are primary issues out on the campaign trail. With President Obama and Mitt Romney running so close, this morning's jobs report takes on even more significance.

Christine Romans is previewing the report for us and Paul Steinhauser is looking at the political impact. Let's start this morning with Christine. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, you guys. The last big economic hurdle before the election on Tuesday, and this is what economists surveyed by CNN Money are expecting, the unemployment rate to tick up to 7.9 percent, and then the separate part of that survey that looks at how many jobs were created, up 125,000, 125,000 net new jobs.

But it is the trend in the unemployment rate that's been getting so much attention. Because this unemployment rate has now gone back to where it was when Mr. Obama took office as president. In January of 2009, it was 7.8 percent.

There was a stimulus in February 2009. Hundreds of billions of dollars spent into the economy, the unemployment rate kept rising to 10 percent before moving slowly lower now to 7.8 percent. Again the forecast is for it to pick up in October to 7.9 percent.

Let's take a look at the job creation trends. That's the other part of this story. You can see when the President took office hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost every month. That was the financial crisis and the recession.

Then it has been slow, very slow incremental gains in jobs since then over the past couple of years. There has been job creation month after month after month. But some months have not been even robust enough to absorb new entrants into the workforce.

That's where it gets political you guys. The question is, has this been good enough, has the President made it better or worse, and could Mitt Romney do better? That's what everyone will decide on Tuesday.

BERMAN: And that's what they'll be fighting about starting today at about 8:30 today Eastern Time. All right, 2 minutes after the hour. Christine Romans, thanks very much.

Later on "STARTING POINT" Soledad will be joined by Grover Norquist, Sheila Bair, Robert Gibbs, Ken Rogoff, a cast of thousands to talk about the all important jobs report.

There will be a powerhouse CNN team involve as well, Christine Romans, Ali Velshi, Erin Burnett, and Candy Crowley. The countdown is on less than 2-1/2 hours away. Christine will bring us the jobs report as soon as they come out.

SAMBOLIN: And coming at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, as we said, Christine and chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, will host that one-hour special that we were telling you about, analyzing the final jobs report before the big vote and what it means for the presidential election.

BERMAN: And with just four days left before that election, President Obama and Mitt Romney are back on message, stressing their economic credentials. The candidates are making a final, frantic push in the battleground states.

And this morning they're also laying out their closing arguments in op-ed just published on cnn.com. We have it, our web site. Romney on unemployment, we've watched as one party has pushed through its agenda without compromising with the other party.

We watched gridlock and petty conflict dominate while the most important issues confronting the nation like chronic unemployment go unaddressed. The bickering has to end. I will end it.

President Obama, defending his record, the war in Iraq is over, Osama Bin Laden is dead, and our heroes are coming home. Our businesses have created more than 5 million new jobs in the last two and a half years, home values and 401(k)s are rising.

We are less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last 20 years and the American auto industry is back on track, very much on message what they've been saying in the campaign. Today they're saying it on cnn.com, special op-eds that only we have.

CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, is live in Washington this morning. Paul, this is the campaign weekend of the election. The biggest push there is. We only see it every four years, the final weekend. What do the campaigns have planned?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: You know, the final four days, it's all about location, location, location, John. Let's go right to the map. Here's where the President is going to be starting today, straight through Election Day.

You can see Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. The President's going to be in Ohio each of the final four days. He also has got two trips to Iowa. In fact, he's going to end his campaign on Monday night in Iowa. Of course, Iowa is the state he gained his first victory in the caucuses back in 2008.

What about Mitt Romney? Well, again, Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. He's going to be there just about as many times as the President. Take a look at the northeast. Pennsylvania. Mitt Romney is going to be there over the weekend as is his running mate Paul Ryan.

Very interesting what's going on here, is Mitt Romney trying to expand the map in a sign of strength or is this a sign of desperation that he can't win some other states and he needs Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes?

The polls, the public opinion polls have tightened in Pennsylvania. The President's lead is down to single digits -- John.

BERMAN: Explain the different argument there. Democrats say it's a sign of weakness, Republicans say it's a sign of strength. Explain to me what are they saying.

STEINHAUSER: The Obama campaign is saying just that that Mitt Romney is not doing well in some of the other crucial battleground states like Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, that he needs in a sign of desperation to try to win somewhere else.

The Romney campaign says they're doing fine in those states, but they see the polls closing in, in Pennsylvania. They think they can expand, as well. We'll find out on November 6th which side is right.

BERMAN: All right, Paul Steinhauser live in Washington. Thank you so much. As we mentioned you can read some of the final words of the campaign from both President Obama and Mitt Romney in op-eds just published on cnn.com.

SAMBOLIN: Actor Clint Eastwood, a Romney supporter, appeared on Fox News last night to talk about his wacky Republican National speech and how he came to be onstage talking to an empty chair, as if President Obama was sitting in it. And in case you missed it, here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: What do you want me to tell Romney? I can't tell him to do that. That -- can't do that to himself? You're absolutely crazy. You're getting as bad as Biden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Well, now, the acting and directing legend says that was all ad-libbed, as if we didn't know.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EASTWOOD: Jon Voigt had on the back because I was sitting with him and a couple other people commiserating about the situation with the economy and everything and he said, why doesn't anybody in Hollywood ever speak up?

And I thought, yes, you know, he's right. He's right. We are kind of chicken and the chair idea, that just came out of the air, you know. I was sitting there, and the guy behind the -- the stage said, here you want to sit down?

And I said no but why don't you take that out and sit it next to the podium. He said you want to sit down? I said no, no just put it there. At the time I thought that was really stupid, why did I do that? Then afterwards people started coming up to me, well, that was fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: And on a serious note, Eastwood also said he isn't happy with how the Obama administration handled the attack in Benghazi.

BERMAN: Vice President Joe Biden took time off on the campaign trail to appear on the late show with David Letterman. Last night with four days to go before the election, Biden read the top ten good things about voting early. Here's a few highlights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Find that special someone in the early voting line. If you vote early you don't have to pay taxes. I'm sorry. I'm being told that's not as accurate. Honestly.

Don't you want this election over with already?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: It's hard to tell when Joe Biden's joking sometimes.

SAMBOLIN: Single and want to mingle? It's 8 minutes past the hour. In just four days, it will be election night in America. CNN's live election coverage will begin at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

BERMAN: It's 8 minutes after the hour right now. Ahead on EARLY START, fuel fights, anger and frustration, boil over on long lines for gas in the aftermath of Sandy. See what's behind the shortage coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: An update this morning on the damage and destruction from Superstorm Sandy. The massive storm has killed at least 92 people in the United States. Nearly 3.5 million customers in the eastern United States are still without power this morning and damage estimates are staggering. They are ranging from $30 billion to $50 billion.

BERMAN: Wow. The New York City borough of Staten Island was especially hard hit and three days after Sandy struck, angry residents are crying out for help. Today, Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano will visit Staten Island with a top official from FEMA to survey the recovery efforts there.

BERMAN: And New York City's crippled subway system is slowly getting back up to speed, but several subway tunnels are still out of commission until all the water can be pumped out of them. Other tunnels are without power because they're located in parts of city that are still in the dark.

BERMAN: An increasing problem still flaring in the disaster zone, running out of gas, for cars and for gas power generators, true frustration turning into anger and then into rage on long lines all across the Tri-State area. Officials say the shortages may not end for another week.

SAMBOLIN: Police have even been called in now to keep the peace at gas stations in New York and New Jersey. Rob Marciano is following the rush. He is live at the Brooklyn Bridge.

And Berman and I are carpooling in the morning. The lines were absolutely outrageous. I believe at that point we were in Connecticut. So people are really traveling very far to try to find gas.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, as far north like an hour from here, just to find some gas. Because you go to the boroughs of Manhattan and certainly New Jersey, a lot of gas stations don't have power. Those that do have power don't have the gasoline.

Why because the refineries in New Jersey that supply a lot of the stations around here were shut down before the storm and during the storm some of them were damaged. So we have no supply basically.

And Governor Chris Christie has authorized the folks to buy gas from out of state and bring that in and hopefully alleviate the situation. It is certainly dire and the lines are very, very long.

We went out to go shoot that story and we actually started to run out of gas. When you finally approach the gas station on 145th Street that had some gas and here's what it looked like.

Here's what it sounded like from the frustrated people who just wanted to get a couple of gallons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to shut down three gas stations.

MARCIANO: What do you mean you shut down three of them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was on line at three gas stations they all closed down when I went through.

MARCIANO: This is your fourth try.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fourth and missed a day of work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We come from Jersey. It took us probably three hours to get into the city. No gas there and just to say, it's a shame what's happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: So you got cars that are now stranded because we're just plain-old running out of gas. And it's huge. It is a dire, dire situation. You mentioned the carpooling, that will happen today again across the area. Bridges, and at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge where yesterday pedestrian traffic was certainly very, very high and I expect it to be even higher today, considering the gas situation -- John.

SAMBOLIN: It's Zoraida here.

So, Rob, what's the latest on the power being restored in Lower Manhattan and spots like Hoboken, New Jersey?

MARCIANO: Yes, you know, when we first talked to Con Ed a few days ago, they said four days but it will come on sporadically. We haven't seen much of it come on with the exception of the Freedom Tower is lit up. I don't know if they've plugged into the Battery Park City grid or not. That's about all the lights that we've seen turned on.

So, today or tomorrow, they're saying Lower Manhattan. And then some of the outer boroughs and the Westchester County still as much as a week longer, and that's also included in New Jersey.

So, huge issues there, because especially in mid and high rise places where elderly people are up 15, 20 stories, getting up and down stairs to get their supplies. And by the way, I haven't seen much in the way of food or water distribution sites like you normally would in a storm zone.

And the city of New York finally announced today at 1:00 p.m., they're going to open up distributions centers across Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn and Staten Island, with some free food and water to get it to the people who need it, because at this point, day four now, food and water is desperately needed in some parts of the storm zone, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: I know we listened earlier, a woman was pleading for help because she is concerned about the fact that they can't move around because the cars are -- are stuck. They have no food. They have no water. And something that you've been talking about, is the temperatures.

So how are they going to stay warm? She's worried about surviving, especially for the elderly.

MARCIANO: Yes. No, that goes without saying. Today it's a few degrees colder than yesterday. And I think Saturday and Sunday will be even colder than today. In some spots, especially outside of the city, you're looking at temperatures that will approach freezing mark.

So that is just one more layer of survival that these folks are going to have to tackle. Just do whatever they can to just stay warm, build a fire, obviously propane heaters if they have that sort of fuel. Those are dangerous in their own right.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

MARCIANO: So it's going to get dicey here the next couple of days and in some cases it will be a week before power and heat is restored.

And Alexandra mentioned the next storm possibly coming Wednesday or Thursday and she'll talk more about that in the back half hour of this show.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Rob Marciano live for us. Thank you so much. We appreciate you this morning.

BERMAN: You know, the gas shortages are not the only problem facing residents of the Garden State right now. In between tours of the devastated neighborhoods where he's trying to comfort people who lost everything, Governor Chris Christie signed an executive order declaring a state of water emergency, which clears the way for water usage across that state. Just more problems now.

SAMBOLIN: Total devastation. Those are the words used by the police chief of the Jersey shore resort town of Seaside Heights to describe the place where he has lived his entire life. Two piers that had been amusement parks that provided memories for generations collapsed in the storm, dumping the Jet Star rollercoaster and other rides right into the sea.

BERMAN: So many people want to help and for more information about Superstorm Sandy and what you can do yourself to help those affected, please come visit CNN.com/impact.

SAMBOLIN: There is so much help needed. And now there's word of another storm that could be headed for the Northeast. Rob Marciano was just talking about it.

Let's go to Alexandra Steele for the very latest there.

Good morning to you, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi. Good morning, guys.

You know, our computer models will show Superstorm Sandy and now they've got a nor'easter developing for Election Day. And, certainly, historically weather can and has impacted election.

So, here's the computer model. This is today. This is not the nor'easter. Here it comes, area of low pressure develops here in the Southeast.

This is Tuesday, and it has it right on Virginia at this point -- of course, a very key state. Last couple of days, a little bit farther north -- a little bit west toward Ohio, Pennsylvania being impacted. The latest run has it smack on Virginia on Tuesday, and then really kind of becoming much more of a powerhouse for Wednesday.

So, again, historically rain and snow foul weather impacts elections and voter turnout, as you can imagine. An inch of rain, about an inch lower for now, an inch of snow about a half a percent. Foul weather also seems to favor Republicans. I mean, Democrats to get out less if there's foul weather. Republicans, even if there's foul weather more apt to go to the voting booth.

The wild card this year, though, millions still dealing without power. So how will voters react in the Northeast? Power outages there, storm damage there. The obstructed travel that's there. So will that mitigate their desire to go to the polls when they have so many other issues at hand?

So, also, you know, Rob was out there talking about how cold it's going to be. It's cold, and it's only getting colder. Look on Tuesday, these are high temperatures, only in the low to mid 40s.

So waking up in the morning, heading to work, you're certainly not going to want to get out with temperatures in the 30s. So cold weather, certainly could be impactful on Election Day on Tuesday, with temperatures well below average.

Of course, you guys, exacerbated by all the troubles in the Northeast. So, we'll have to wait and see how it all pans out.

SAMBOLIN: Terrible. We're worried about a lot of folks and their safety. Thank you so much, Alexandra. Appreciate it.

Still to come on EARLY START, jobs in the spin zone. How the Obama and Romney campaigns are likely to spin the jobs report, no matter what the numbers are.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: We're minding your business this morning. We're talking about the political spin on the jobs numbers.

SAMBOLIN: And make no mistake, today's employment report may be the key to deciding who wins the election. Christine Romans is here to explain for voters, it may come down to which candidate's perspective makes the most sense.

So, you created spin for both.

ROMANS: You know, I have a little parlor game that I do whenever she's numbers come out. When the numbers, I'm usually reporting them to you and in the back of my mind I'm thinking what is the Romney press release going to sound like and what is the Obama press release going to sound like? And I'm usually pretty close.

BERMAN: You know how to have a good time. That's all I can say.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: I'm real fun at a party.

I want to talk about two numbers within these numbers, that favor Team Obama. These are the charts, if you will, that the Obama spinners would like you to look at.

The national unemployment rate has been falling. It has -- it went up after he took office. It was 7.8 percent when he took office, went up to 10 percent and now it's back to 7.8 percent. That is favor team -- favorite for Team Obama.

And jobs creation back to 2008, the Obama campaign likes to put out when the President took office, and the surrogates say we were losing 700,000, 800,000 jobs, end of the Bush administration, into the beginning of the Obama administration. But now we have been seeing jobs created.

So, those are the two charts you want to spin it for the President.

Now let's spin it for Romney, if you will. The underemployment rate -- you've heard him talk about this many, many times: 14.7 percent is the underemployment rate. Some people call this the real unemployment rate.

What is it? Unemployed workers, discouraged workers, these are people who would like to look for a job but they just dropped out, marginally attached to the labor force, and people who are employed part-time but want to be working full-time.

All right. There's another number here: the labor force participation rate -- say that 10 times fast -- 63.6 percent, the lowest since 1981.

Now, what is this? You can see it's not improving. It's getting worse. It's getting worse.

And this is a number that Romney has used on the campaign trail a couple of times. This is people who have just given up. Only 63 percent of the civilian working-age population is working or looking for a job. The lowest since '81 and that hasn't been improving.

That's not showing the kinds of gains that you've been seeing or improvement you've seen in the unemployment rate.

So, those are the two spins. Four charts, each of them tell a very different picture about where we are.

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

ROMANS: Well, the one thing we need to know about your money today is stock futures are flat but we had a very good rally yesterday -- big rally for stocks, up 136 points, biggest gain in seven weeks. Consumer confidence was a big part of that. We are days away from an election.

We're agonizing about the jobs market. Some of these little signals in the economy, at least before Hurricane Sandy were looking a little bit better. Good day for jobs yesterday.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-six minutes past the hour.

The big jobs report now just about two hours away. Could a tick in unemployment cause a change in the polls in crunch time? Congressman Michael Burgess talks about the political implications. That is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Will it be a November surprise? New jobs figures due with just four days to go before Election Day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to die! You don't understand, you got to get your trucks here on this corner now!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Desperate hours in the disaster zone. Survivors of Sandy going on four days without power, heat, and sometimes, now, they have no food either.

Welcome back to EARLY START. We're very happy you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 30 minutes after the hour right now.

A lot to talk about. A big, big day. We're just 2 1/2 hours away now from the final jobs report before next week's election -- presidential election, the big one.

Most economists are predicting a similar outcome with jobs from last month. But there's no question that job growth has been sluggish. That report getting a lot of attention from both sides now that both candidates are out on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the closing weeks of this campaign, Governor Romney has been using all his formidable talents as a salesman to dress up the very same policies that failed our country so badly, very same policies we've been cleaning up after these last four years, and he's offering them up as change.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Again, a lot of people are hurting and they don't want to se another four years like the last four years. I mean, do you want to see four more years with 23 million Americans struggling for a good job?

AUDIENCE: No!

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BERMAN: Joining us now to talk about all this from Fort Worth, Texas, is Republican Congressman Michael Burgess. He is the chairman of the Congressional Health Care Caucus.

And, Congressman, economists are telling CNN right now they are expecting payroll gains of about 125,000 -- about 125,000 jobs added. The employment rate essentially stays the same, maybe pick up to 7.9 percent.

If the change is really this small, do you think it will affect the election with just four days to go?

REP. MICHAEL BURGESS, (R) TEXAS: John, thank you for having me on.

First off, let me just say, as someone -- a state that's suffered its share of tropical storm damage, we feel your pain and we are all praying for you and pulling for you. It was a very tough piece you had leading into this segment and I know how tough recovery can be. You've got some long days ahead of you.

On the employment numbers, you know, you could argue that last month's employment numbers were probably more important than this month's, because I went to an event last night in Flower Mound, Texas, and I was the only one in the room who hasn't voted. A lot of people have taken advantage of early voting and the die has already been cast in their minds.

I don't expect these numbers to change a lot from last month, and then, of course, you've seen the momentum that Governor Romney has built up since -- arguably since that first debate, which is over the last month.

So, will impact these numbers change much? Probably not in a political discourse, because, again, there's so few people who are still really and truly trying to make up their minds in this election. You do see the momentum breaking for Governor Romney and you can feel it, out on the trail. And not just impacts, but I was in western -- sorry, eastern Kentucky earlier this week, and a district there for congressional candidates, the district basically drawn to elect a Democrat, and it's very likely to go for Mr. Barr, the Republican this time. And why? Well, it's in the middle of coal country and everyone business that we went into out there, and they're all concerned about the future of coal with the coal industry.

A man in a small manufacturing plant said, you know, I'm getting lots of requests for proposals but I'm not writing any orders because everyone's in a defensive crouch waiting for the election and that's really the bigger story in the economy, is the number of people who are waiting to see if in fact change is really going to come to America.

BERMAN: Congressman, three things. First of all, thank you very much for your kind words. They mean a lot to us here in the Tri-State area. So thank you very much for that.

BURGESS: Yes, sir.

BERMAN: Number two, on the subject of momentum, there are just as many Democrats as Republicans right now claiming that they have the momentum, they're playing to a lot of these swing state polls, including recent ones from CNN which show the President with consistent leads in many of the swing states. We'll leave that there, though.

The third thing, though, is at CNN, we're lucky enough to have some brand-new op-eds written by both candidates. We just posted them on our Web site, CNN.com. We're the only ones who have these.

Let me read you a couple of excerpts because they're interesting, because both candidates are talking about the same thing, bipartisanship.

First, from President Obama, he talked a little bit about the storm. He says, "When hardship hits, America is at its best. The petty differences that consume us in normal times quickly melt away. There are no Democrats, or Republicans, during the storm -- only fellow Americans. That's how we get through the most trying times together."

The President talking about bipartisanship, the same subject that Mitt Romney tries to highlight in his op-ed. Listen to this: "We've watched as one party pushed through its agenda without compromising with the other guy. The bickering has to end. I will end it. I will reach across the aisle to solve America's problems."

This has been a pretty partisan election just like every other. Now you have both guys claiming bipartisanship. I imagine you think your guy has a better argument.

BURGESS: Oh, of course I do. In fact, in President Obama's case, it isn't even a question of reaching across the aisle for many instances. He's just absolutely ignored the legislative branch in this entirety. Not just when Republicans were in the House of Representatives, this is going back to his own health care law that he pushed through, basically ignoring House Democrats in the process.

So the administration doesn't have a good track record in this regard. Certainly there are people who have reached out to the administration. I'm waiting for several phone calls to be answered from the White House and I've been waiting for months. You know --

BERMAN: Let me interrupt. On the screen while you were talking was a picture of the President, President Obama walking with Republican Governor Chris Christie, the two of them who've given each other a lot of credit for working to the through this storm as a sign many people are taking of bipartisanship.

But I do also want to talk about Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was once a Democrat, then a Republican, now an independent. So I guess, claiming multi-partisanship mantle in some ways. He did something surprising yesterday. He endorsed President Obama after saying a couple weeks ago he wasn't going to endorse at all.

I'm wondering if you think that's significant.

BURGESS: Well, you know, the interesting thing about that was I thought he already had. So it was news to me that he hadn't before Tuesday.

Look, you and I both know endorsements always will get you about half someone's friends and all of their enemies. So, it's not something that always carries a lot of help.

But honestly, the bipartisanship on the part of the President, sure you welcome that. But where has it been for the last three years and 10 months? It's been non biz (ph). We need a president who kind of understands something about business creation. The fact the President would talk about creating a new cabinet position for a Business Secretary. For heaven's sakes he's got a Secretary of Commerce who unfortunately his acting secretary never held a job in the private sector so that's problematic.

I just got to tell you, the President's economic team from day one has really left a lot to be desired because, most of them have not spent any time in the private sector.

BERMAN: Congressman, I've got to go here. Thank you very much. Thank you again for your kind words.

Congressman Michael Burgess in Fort Worth, Texas -- great to talk to you this morning.

Later on "STARTING POINT", we're going to have Grover Norquist, Sheila Bair, Robert Gibbs, Ken Rogoff. They're going to talk to Soledad about the all-important jobs report which comes out at 8:30 Eastern Time. And the CNN team is going include Christine Romans, Ali Velshi, Erin Burnett and Candy Crowley -- an all-star cast for this big moment right at 8:30 a.m. SAMBOLIN: And that jobs report coming up at 8:30. We'll bring them to you live. That is happening on "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien.

BERMAN: And if that's not enough, at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, Ali and Christine will host a one-hour special analyzing the final jobs report before the big vote and what it all means to the upcoming presidential election, which is Tuesday, by the way, if no one told you.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thirty-eight minutes past the hour.

Every vote counts, especially during this presidential election. So we asked some early voters to share their stories. The issues that matter most to them, who they voted for, and we also wanted to know why. We are calling them votergraph.

First up, Mitt Romney voter Michelle Lingner, who is studying abroad in Sweden. She said that she voted early because she is out of the country and her big issues: the economy and the national debt.

BERMAN: And this is voter Sanje Sedera who's from Sri Lanka originally. He voted for President Obama. He also said he took his 88-year-old mother-in-law and 98-year-old father-in-law to vote because they may not get any more chances to share the experience.

SAMBOLIN: Those are pictures of them? They look awfully young.

BERMAN: They look terrific.

His big issue, social programs that give lower income earners a boost.

And we want you to be part of it. So, send us your votergraph, the address is CNN.com/EarlyStart.

SAMBOLIN: It is the candidates' final push before the big vote. What's the focus of the campaign? Will battleground states hold some big surprises? Anderson Cooper takes a closer look during the final sprint. Watch "AMERICA'S CHOICE 2012: COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION DAY". That is Sunday night at 8:00 Eastern.

BERMAN: And there is still so much news about the storm Sandy.

And up next on EARLY START, they took a massive hit from the storm. Now some people in Staten Island, New York, they're just begging federal officials for help. They feel like they're borough's just been forgotten. We're going to take you there for a live update coming next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Soledad O'Brien here for a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT." A lot, the jobs.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Lots of stuff. We're going to continue to talk about jobs this morning. Less than two hours the most crucial employment report of President Obama's term in office will be released.

(INAUDIBLE) Governor Romney (INAUDIBLE) if hiring goes up. It could seal the deal for a second term. We've got the story covered on all angles.

This morning, we talk with Robert Gibbs of the Obama campaign. Republican Greg Walden is going to join us, as will. Grover Norquist, he's the President of the Americans for Tax Reform. Also this morning, Harvard University economics and public policy professor Ken Rogoff will be joining us. Sheila Bair, the former FDIC chairperson will join us.

Also, we'll continue to update you with Sandy, the aftermath there. The destruction unfortunately still being felt. Millions of people without power. And gas -- you guys are talking about all morning -- gas is a huge, huge problem. People are very frustrated. Reporters all over the story for you this morning.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you, Soledad. You need a bigger table this morning. There are a lot of guests on there.

All right. Forty-three minutes past the hour.

Today, top FEMA officials and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will inspect the damage on New York's Staten Island and they can expect an earful. New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Michael Grimm toured the devastation on Thursday and they met with residents who pleaded for more help from the government.

Yesterday, the bodies of two young boys, ages 2 and 4, were found there. They were swept away from their mother's arms during the storm after her SUV got stuck. Horrific story.

Brian Todd is live on Staten Island.

And, Brian, why don't you show us around?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zoraida, this is the New Dorp Beach neighborhood on Staten Island. And it is as if the storm little early just passed through here, maybe a couple of hours ago. We're four days out and it's still like a war zone here. This is kind of a typical scene in this neighborhood.

People just putting any items that they want to try to salvage out in the front of their yards here. This is a small candle holder. You've got a bird bath here that someone laid out with some hangers on it. Just any kind of item that they think they might be able to salvage they're putting out in their front yard.

There's a table and chairs right here just for people to kind of -- they're putting items on and hoping that relatives may come and pick them up. Now, when you zoom out here, you'll see what was left of this house, which isn't much. We're told that an elderly couple lived here. We're also told by neighbors that they got out, that they were not hurt. So, that's a great thing. But obviously, what's left of their house is really not much. It's a total loss it appears here. And you know, there's a collapsed roof back there. The entire thing beyond that roof is pretty much leveled, as you can see. And residents here really feel cut off in a lot of ways, because there's no power or water, obviously.

But they also feel that relief officials just have not been fast enough to get to their needs. Here's one very frustrated resident who we spoke to yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONNA SOLI, STATEN ISLAND RESIDENT: We're going to die if we get killed with the weather. We're going to die. We're going to freeze. We got 90-year-old people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to pull this afternoon.

SOLI: Please. We have no cars. Don't you see, we need -- President Obama, please listen to us down here. We are going to die. You don't understand. You got to get your trucks here on this corner, now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are trying --

SOLI: This is three days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Now, in addition to that resident and others here who have complained about the lack of response, with the slow response, the Borough president, James Molinaro, had also complained about that yesterday. He really took out some of his ire on the Red Cross for not showing up on time.

But, we were told yesterday that the Red Cross did start to arrive yesterday and the FEMA started to have a presence on the ground now, as well, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: I hope that they start getting some help really soon there. Thank you so much, Brian Todd, live on Staten Island for us. So hard to watch that, isn't it?

BERMAN: Amazing pictures this morning.

SAMBOLIN: And still to come, the unemployed and the election. How job seekers in swing states could be the deciding factor in the presidential race and how the candidates are betting on Vegas.

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SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fifty minutes past the hour. Nevada is one of the final battleground states sure to decide who occupies the White House in January.

BERMAN: And with its sky-high unemployment rate, you know, we thought it'd be a good idea to send Miguel Marquez to the top of the stratosphere on the Vegas strip. Miguel, you've been to five swing states recently. How important is the jobless rate, would you say, to voters in Nevada and maybe how they're going to determine their vote?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Perhaps, nowhere more important than the entire country. And it was, (INAUDIBLE) you know, the unemployment rate here in Nevada is the (INAUDIBLE) that is the shining city, the strip here in Las Vegas. This place glitters. The recession certainly took the glitter off this city, but as we're discovering, it's just starting to creep back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ: Here we are, top of the stratosphere in Vegas, baby. About 70 percent of the votes in the state are right here in Clark County as this county goes.

(CHANTING) So goes Nevada!

MARQUEZ (voice-over): In a city that fell harder and faster than just about any place in the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This better be a very close election.

MARQUEZ: The stratosphere like al Vegas suffered the worst of the recession.

(on-camera) At some point, you had to make a decision, either go big or stay home. Shut down. That was sort of the pieces.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The Vegas landmark sunk more than $20 million into upgrades, including a new restaurant own with that sky jump thing, most importantly more than 100 new jobs.

Do you think Las Vegas is through the worst of it?

PAUL HOBSON, GENERAL MANAGER, STRATOSPHERE CASINO HOTEL: It feels like it, you know? I mean, I drive to work every day and I see stuff going on that I haven't seen for a little while.

MARQUEZ: Seems like construction and homes being built in a place that once had the nation's highest foreclosure rate.

There you go, yes.

(INAUDIBLE) Vegas' decline and rise by a sort of entree index.

At the low point of the recession, how many dinners were you doing and how many doing now?

RICK GIFFEN, EXECUTIVE CHEF, STRATOSPHERE CASINO HOTEL: We were doing as low as 250 and 400. Now, we're doing between 450 and 700 a night.

MARQUEZ: Oh, wow!

GIFFEN: Yes. Big, big recovery.

LOUIE ANDERSON, COMEDIAN: This is an important state, you know, for our county, especially.

MARQUEZ: Comedy icon and Clark County voter, Louie Anderson, who does four shows a week at the Palace station.

ANDERSON: How do you spell Ron Paul?

MARQUEZ: -- says the city is struggling back, but he knows just how torn the country is.

ANDERSON: I think it's hard to be excited about Obama if you have not worked. And I love Obama. I understand the appeal of Romney in this situation.

MARQUEZ: Like voters everywhere, he is tired of the campaign.

ANDERSON: Obama has been here more than Celine Dion has.

MARQUEZ: But hopeful that results, not politics, tops the agenda come January.

ANDERSON: If we're going to have the great country we had once, this is not going to be a Democrat or Republican thing. This is going to be an every single American thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ (on-camera): Now, if the jobs rate is the biggest concern across Nevada, it's even bigger here in Clark County. The unemployment rate here, 12.3 percent. They will be watching very closely. Back to you guys.

BERMAN: All right. Miguel Marquez in Las Vegas. Miguel, your entire experience has been fantastic. Thanks for being with us these last few days.

And coming up in just a little bit, our "Best Advice." Stay with us.

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SAMBOLIN: Fifty-seven minutes past the hour. We wrap it up as always with "Best advice."

BERMAN: And here's Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Best Advice for jobs today, today, we hear from honored war veteran and "Dancing with the Stars" winner J.R. Martinez.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

J.R. MARTINEZ, ACTOR AND VETERAN: The best advice that I have received was from a friend of mine when I started doing speaking, which was back in like 2004, and he said, when you're -- your story becomes less about you and more about other people, that's when you know, like you're at that stage you're doing good things.

And essentially, you got to expand on that but pretty much he was just saying, you know, to listen to what other people have to say. Everybody has a story. Everybody has been through something in their life, and sometimes, really honestly, as difficult as it may be, take a step back and think about, to an extent, like what their life probably was like or is like. And that to me is I always like carried it with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Be a good listener. That's really interesting advice. And you're talking, remember you should be listening. You know, obviously, my grandmother, two ears and one mouth, act accordingly. You have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: It is great advice. And J.R. Martinez is a great guy. All right, everyone. 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.