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Rebranding The Republican Party; Subway Death Photographer Defends Himself; Fiscal Cliff Hardball; Ashton Kutcher Takes on Steve Jobs

Aired December 5, 2012 - 05:30   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Christine Romans in today for John Berman. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

There are new faces of the Republican Party, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin appearing together last night at the Jack Kemp Foundation Awards dinner in Washington, trying to rebrand themselves after their party -- and their party after a bruising setback in November.

CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, live from Washington this morning. Good morning. Paul Ryan got hammered during the election for referring to some Americans as makers, others as takers. Is he dialing back that rhetoric now?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, I tell you, this was Ryan's first speech since the election. And both he and Rubio seemed to be talking about how a Republican Party needs from here on forward, needs to be a party that's more inclusive, a party that needs to help those in the lower socio-economic levels to rise up and prove their standing.

And you're right. Both of them -- you know, Ryan specifically talked about how he was proud of the campaign, that he and Mitt Romney ran this past year. But also, both men were seemed to be a little critical of Romney's controversial comments that 47 percent of the nation is behold of the government and feels that the government is responsible to take care of them.

Take a listen to what both men said.


REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) WISCONSIN: Both parties tend to divide Americans into our voters and their voters. Let's be really clear. Republicans must steer far clear of that trap. We must speak to the aspirations and the anxieties of every American.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: Now, I've heard it suggested that the problem is that the American people have changed. Too many people want things from government. But I'm still convinced that the overwhelming majority of our people, they just want what my parents had, a chance.


STEINHAUSER: This awards dinner was in honor of the late Jack Kemp. Of course, he was a former congressman. He was a cabinet secretary, vice presidential nominee, and a Republican side, and a real hero to the conservative clause. Rubio got the award this year. Last year, the first year they gave the award, Ryan got the award -- Christine.

ROMANS: I know. And Jack Kemp had a great influence on Ryan's sort of development as a politician.

STEINHAUSER: Very much so.

ROMANS: Now, both Ryan and Rubio talked up as possible contenders for the presidential race in 2016. They joked about that, didn't they?

STEINHAUSER: They sure did. Listen, 2016 is a long way away, but there's a lot of attention on both of these guys. Both of them right off the bat at the top of their speeches may light of it. Take a listen.


RYAN: As you may know, Marco is joining an elite group of past recipients for this award.


RYAN: Two of us, so far. I'll see you at the reunion dinner table for two. You know, get diners in New Hampshire or Iowa, right?


RUBIO: Paul, thank you for your invitation for lunch in Iowa and New Hampshire. But I will not stand by and watch the people of South Carolina ignored.


STEINHAUSER: Of course, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, as you well know, Christine, you're from Iowa, those are the three states that traditionally lead off the presidential primary caucus calendar. So, a lot of joking. Listen, there'll be a lot of attention to both of these men. Both of them sure are considering runs, but 2016 still a long way away.

ROMANS: And for the record, Marco Rubio has already been to Iowa for the governor's fundraiser. Ryan also in the news. He co-signed Boehner's budget proposal. How does the Republican (ph) should move forward in the fiscal cliff disaster?

STEINHAUSER: Well, he talked about that in the speech last night as well. And he talked about how both sides, both Democrats and Republicans, need to be able to compromise here. Take a listen.


RYAN: At a time of great consequence, the American people have, again, chosen divided government. And it's up to us to make this divided government work. We've got to set aside partisan considerations in favor of one overriding concern. How do we work together to repair this economy to get people back on their feet to restore upward mobility and opportunity in America?


STEINHAUSER: You know, Ryan (ph), of course, as budget chairman is going to have a big say in whatever the House Republicans do on try to avert the fiscal cliff.

As you mentioned, the Boehner plan, it was just put out two days ago has gotten a lot of criticism from some conservative in Congress and also some tea party-type groups saying that it is kind of going too far in raising revenues which is interesting because Ryan is considered to be a hero to many in the Tea Party movement -- Christine.

ROMANS: Yes. And some conservatives actually complaining because they said that, you know, it was news to them, the Boehner plan and the people who signed it. It didn't include enough different points of view, enough people in the party. All right. Paul Steinhauser, nice to see you this morning, Paul.


SAMBOLIN: Thirty-four minutes past the hour.

New York City police say the man being questioned for allegedly pushing a man into the path of an oncoming train has implicated himself.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): New surveillance video shows the suspect arguing with the victim on the subway platform. There it is for you to see. This happened just moments before 58-year-old Ki-Suck Han was pushed onto the tracks and then killed. A "New York Post" photographer who shot a controversial front-page photo of the man trying to climb up from the tracks is explaining himself.

He's writing in today's paper. Photographer Umar Abbasi says it's unfair for people to condemn him. He says, quote, "I can't let the armchair critics bother me. They were not there. They have no idea how quickly it happened." He has a full story in there if you care to read it.

The FBI says a suspected serial killer has committed suicide while in custody. In March, Israel Keyes was charged with the murder of 18- year-old Alaskan barista, Samantha Koenig. Before killing himself on Sunday, police say that he's confessed to at least seven other murders, two in Vermont, four in Washington state, and one somewhere on the east coast. Keys also told investigators that he buried supplies he planned to use in future crimes and agents found two stashes, one in Eagle River, Alaska, and one near lake falls reservoir in New York State.

ROMANS (voice-over): Dash cam video of police intuition in action. Officers pulled over a car for an expired plate and hear something coming from the trunk. This is the moment they discover 22-year-old Shawn Bloomer (ph). The gas station clerk had been kidnapped and stuffed in the trunk. This incident happened in August, but this video is just now being released. Two men and a woman who were in the car charged with robbery, kidnapping, and wanton endangerment.


A Colorado mother holding her two-year-old daughter is hit and pinned underneath the car. Officers and Good Samaritans respond, listen to this, by lifting the car off of them. Police say she improperly crossed the busy street on Monday night with her daughter and twin four-year-old sons. The children are all said to be OK.

The mother has serious head injuries, but she is expected to survive. Police can't say enough about the unsung heroes who helped.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These guys are so selfless that once the scene was secure, that they left the scene and did not leave their names. I talked to two of the officers that were involved. They can't even tell me how many people helped them, because it was so chaotic.



SAMBOLIN (on-camera): And we're pretty lucky this morning. Coming up on EARLY START, we're going to talk to the two officers involved in that rescue, including one who was working off-duty at a Wal-Mart across the street and still jumped in to help. That's coming up at 6:30.

ROMANS (on-camera): The world's oldest person had died. A 116-year- old Bessie Cooper was part of the women suffrage movement and was among the first women to vote in Georgia. Her son says she died peacefully yesterday. In an interview on the Guinness World Records Web site, she said her secrets to a long life were minding her own business and avoiding junk food.

She's survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren, and two great grand children and Bessie, thank you. Thank you for being part of that movement.

SAMBOLIN: She looks great in that photo as well.


SAMBOLIN: Thirty-seven minutes past the hour. With Republicans and Democrats now battling each other over the fiscal cliff, there may be one person who can unify Washington.


SAMBOLIN: It's a shame that he doesn't work on Capitol Hill, at least not yet.

ROMANS: And Earth as we've never seen it before. Fascinating images from outer space, all in the same place. We'll have all the photos for you in about ten minutes.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 41 minutes past the hour. It has been quite a year for rookie quarterbacks in the NFL. The Colts, Andrew Luck, and the Redskins, Robert Griffin III, the top two picks in the NFL draft, have delivered big time for their respective franchises.

Thanks to rg3, the fiscal cliff isn't all they're talking about in Washington these days. They're also talking playoffs. CNN's Brian Todd has a closer look at the teams' rookie savior.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nicknamed RG3, this 22- year-old has mesmerized the entire city, captured the hearts of football fans throughout the nation's capital. A 2011 Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor and number two overall pick, RG3 is helping to instill a winning attitude as the Redskins rebuild.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Accelerating, sliding down, lost the ball, into the hands of Joshua Morgan.

TODD: He may be the only person who can actually unify Washington, Redskins rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III. The phenomenon that is RG3 seems to be immune to pressure. He took another step closer to an improbable playoff run by leading the Redskins to their third consecutive win Monday night over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

CNN spoke to him in May, shortly after he was drafted.

ROBERT GRIFFIN III, REDSKINS QB: It's not about, hey, we're a team that hasn't - only made it twice in the past 12 years in the playoffs. It's a team that, hey, we got a new start, we got a new quarterback. And we're going to go out and win.

TODD: And winning is what rookie quarterbacks have been able to accomplish at unprecedented levels this season in the NFL. Seven rookie quarterbacks started in week 13 across the league. RGIII, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson are leading the rise of the rookies, and they have high hopes of reaching the post-season.

GRIFFIN: You can't come in and say, hello guys, we just want to win seven games, you know? We just want to be competitive. No. You can't come out and say you want to be competitive. You want to conquer. So, Peyton Manning went 3-13 in his first year plan in the NFL. Does that mean that all the rookies have that excuse?

Well, Peyton Manning went 3-13. It doesn't matter. We've got to come out and help our teams win from the get-go because that's why they draft us.

TODD: There's even talk in Washington that if the Redskins advanced to the playoffs, Robert Griffin III could be in the discussion for the league's most valuable player award.


TODD: There's little doubt where a franchise that struggled on the field for 20 years would be without him.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


ROMANS: Eighty years is a long time.

SAMBOLIN: It sure is.

ROMANS: It was an image that captured the world's attention. A New York police officer giving a homeless man a pair of boots, but there's a twist to the story now.

SAMBOLIN: The story that keeps on giving.

And Ashton Kutcher's new role as Apple founder, Steve Jobs. Take a look at that.

ROMANS: He really looks the part, doesn't he?

SAMBOLIN: What do you think? What do you think? Does he? I mean, if you put side-by-side pictures, it is amazing.

If you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop or your mobile phone, just go to We'll be right back.


ROMANS: Forty-seven minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to date on the morning's top stories.


ROMANS (voice-over): President Obama playing fiscal cliff hardball this morning. He's telling Republicans he will not agree to a deal that doesn't include a tax hike on the wealthiest Americans, hardening his position on this. He'll be meeting with business leaders today.

Later this morning, Speaker John Boehner meets with fellow House Republicans. Party is fractured over its position to the fiscal cliff debate. Sources tell CNN GOP leaders are looking for a way out. SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Well, it turns out the barefoot recipient of boots by a New York City police officer last month was shoeless, but guess what, not homeless. City officials say Jeffrey Hillman does have stable housing, an apartment in the Bronx. They say he's lived there essentially rent-free for the past three years. But Hillman regularly panhandles in Times Square.

ROMANS: A former boy scout who says he was sexually abused is now suing is the Boy Scouts of America. The lawsuit claims his former troop leader, Thomas Hacker, was barred from the group in Indiana in the 1970s but was able to rejoin as a volunteer in Illinois in the 1980s. Hacker was arrested in 1988, later convicted in the aggravated sexual assault of an 11-year-old troop member in Illinois. He is serving two concurrent 50-year prison sentences.

SAMBOLIN: A new study suggests a strong link between pro-football and brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The brains of 35 football players were studied after they died, all but one showed evidence of the disease. CTE begins when repeated blows to the brain are not allowed to heal. In later stages, CTE can lead to rage, aggression, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts.

ROMANS: According to a new Global Terrorism Index, North America is the world's safest region from terrorism. The Australia-based Institute of Economics and Peace says people in Western Europe are 19 times more likely to be killed in a terror attack. Researchers found terrorist incidents worldwide have increased nearly ever year since 2001, but deaths are down.

SAMBOLIN: In a field test of a 3D printed assault rifle failed after firing just six rounds. It's a setback for the WikiWeapon project that founders are trying to make history by building a working firearm made entirely from gun parts that are currently available for 3D printing.

ROMANS: All right. What a wonderful world. Check out these stunning never before seen NASA images, a beautiful Earth taken by environmental satellite.

SAMBOLIN: It is gorgeous.

ROMANS: The beautiful images across Africa to Asia to Antarctica. They're collected in a new NASA e-book called "Earth as Art." The e- book is free under the connect link on NASA's website.

SAMBOLIN: Those colors.


ROMANS (on-camera): Space geek and art lovers unite.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Yes, beautiful.

All right. A packed hour ahead on EARLY START, including a story that will inspire you to do something good today. A group of total strangers come together, they lift a car off a mom and her baby that is in her arms after a horrific crash. The two officers who responded are with us this morning.

ROMANS: And our very own Barbara Starr brings us a sneak peek of "Zero Dark Thirty." That's the film about how the U.S. hunted down and killed Osama Bin Laden. All of a sudden, Washington has many movie critics as Hollywood, asking who talks.

SAMBOLIN: But first, rapper Jay-Z explains to an older woman on the subway who he is. Seriously, you have got to see it. It is absolutely adorable. It is headed your way, next.

Plus, eight tiny reindeer and one jittery giraffe? Why one city chose this animal to introduce Santa and why it freaked out in the process?


SAMBOLIN: All right. We are taking a look at the top CNN trends on the web this morning.

And he was the dude who lost his car in "Dude, Where's My Car?" Now, Ashton Kutcher is playing the role of Steve Jobs.

ROMANS: Those are two very different characters.



SAMBOLIN: I would say so. It's one of the greatest and innovative American minds ever, as you very well know.

ROMANS: And you know, the first image from the film is now out, and the resemblance to a young Steve Jobs right out of the cradle of computers, it's pretty striking. Nischelle Turner has that for us from Hollywood.

NISCHELLE TURNER, HLN'S "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Yes, just a few weeks, the world will get its first look at the new movie about Steve Jobs. But, we can share the first image from the film which stars Ashton Kutcher as the legendary man behind Apple. Now, this is the photo of Kutcher in costume as Jobs.

He's got the beard and the long hair parted on the side. That was his look back in the day. I want to give you a look at a comparison photo of Jobs and Kutcher. Critics are saying that there is a definite resemblance, but I'll just let you, guys, be the judge of that. Now, this biopic which is called Jobs has just been announced as the closing night film for the Sundance Film Festival in January.

The festival is calling the movie, quote, "the true story of one of the greatest entrepreneurs in American history which chronicles the defining 30 years of Steve Jobs' life." Now, it says that it's, quote, "candid, inspiring, and personal." Now, this is actually one of two movies coming out about Steve Jobs who died just a little over a year ago.

Aaron Sorkin's writing a different movie based on the best-selling biography by Walter Isaacson. No one's been cast to play Jobs in the Sorkin versio yet. So, for now, Ashton Kutcher is the man. And Christine and Zoraida, you know, some people are questioning the casting of Ashton as Jobs, mostly because he's known for comedy. But you know, he's also famously tech savvy.

He got out ahead of the curve on Twitter. He now has 13 million followers plus. He's entrepreneurial, too. He's got his own movie production company. He's got all kinds of business ventures. So, maybe it's not so much of a stretch to see Ashton as Steve Jobs. Christine and Zoraida, back to you.

ROMANS: I can't wait to see how Aaron Sorkin models this film. There's a lot of buzz about what the structure of the film will be. So, that should be interesting.

SAMBOLIN: All right.

ROMANS: Sorkin (INAUDIBLE) on Steve Jobs.

SAMBOLIN: I got another story. Hova hoop? A cute clip from Jay-Z's new documentary called "Where I'm From." So, the rapper is riding in New York Cuty subway when an older lady next to him chats him up, has no clue who he is. Check it out.


JAY-Z, RAPPER: I performed eight shows, actually. This is the last show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you're going by subway.

JAY-Z: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm proud of you. Say your name again, just so I get it.

JAY-Z: Jay-Z.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you're Jay-Z. I know Jay-Z.




SAMBOLIN: So, Jay-Z was on his way to the last of eight performances at the new Barclay's Center in Brooklyn. Is that not the funniest thing ever?

ROMANS: And to be on a subway is the best way to get to the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn. You know, that nice, little train ride. That is so cool. That is so cool.

All right. The stars leaning left? No, it's leaning right. Finally, something to bring both sides together in Washington. The tree, House Speaker Boehner lighting the capital Christmas tree on an unusually warm December night in Washington. An Eagle Scout from Colorado helped him flitch -- flipped the switch.

It is unclear if any light bulbs have gone off over Democrats and Republicans on the fiscal cliff, however.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, stick to the reindeer next time. Check this out. A giraffe was spooked at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. This is downtown Charleston, South Carolina. The giraffe named Melmon (ph), based on the popular "Madagascar" movie, freaked when a confetti cannon went off.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Oh, my goodness.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Well, that two-year-old giraffe is OK.

ROMANS: Oh. Come on, don't shoot off a cannon in front of a little giraffe.

All right. Former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney back in business, re-joining Marriott's Corporate board. Great news, especially if you're a late night host looking for a quick laugh, but Romney wasn't their only target. Letterman also took aim at Playboy founder, Hugh Hefner's, on again now engagement.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Mitt Romney is going back to work. Mitt Romney is joining the board of directors at Marriott Hotel. See, who says President Obama can't create jobs. There's one right there. He created a job right there.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": It was (INAUDIBLE) that Mitt Romney has new job. He's going back to work. He got a job at a Marriott. How about that?


LETTERMAN: He's going to be working at Marriott. And mitt will be the guy when you're at the front desk arguing over your mini bar bill, Mitt will be the guy that comes from out back, I understand there's some trouble.


LETTERMAN: Here, let me have a look at that.

You know who's engaged? Take a guess. Hugh Hefner.


LETTERMAN: Is this a rerun? Isn't he always? (LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: Always getting engaged. Hef admitted, he said today about his fiance, I've fallen for her and I can't get up.


LETTERMAN: Anyway, she was saying as she was really, really looking forward to the ceremony, and people saying are you talking about the wedding or a funeral?



SAMBOLIN: EARLY START continues right now.