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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Chilling Find in Hostage Bunker; Attacked in Acapulco; Christie's Battle of the Bulge; Hagel Looks Likely to be Confirmed; Lady Gaga's Diva Demands

Aired February 6, 2013 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Terror in paradise. This just an awful story. Tourists tied up and gang raped in a beach side bungalow.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Unbelievable.

Underground death trap. A chilling find at the bunker where that five-year-old had been held hostage and new information about how the FBI stormed that place.

BERMAN: And no punchline. Chris Christie's battle of the bulge not a laughing matter for a former White House doctor who says she's worried he may die in office.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. She had a problem with him eating that donut on David Letterman and came out and talked about it. We're going to show that with you.

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

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Wednesday morning. It is 31 past the hour. And two bombs have been found in the underground bunker in Alabama where a five-year-old boy was held captive for nearly a week. Explosives experts will be looking for more devices this morning. Law enforcement official tells CNN one bomb was discovered inside the bunker and the other was located in a PVC pipe.

Officials also confirm they used drones and sophisticated surveillance equipment to monitor suspect, Jimmy Lee Dykes, during that standoff. Right now, Little Ethan is with his family. It's his birthday. Happy birthday, Ethan. Six birthday he is celebrating today. The principal of his school says everyone is counting the days until he returns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP PARKER, PRINCIPAL, MIDLAND ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: It's a shame that this had to happen, but for any child that I believe that will bounce back better than any child that I know of would be Ethan. He's just -- he meets no strangers and I just feel confident he's going to bounce back and we hope to have him in school as quickly as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAMBOLIN: Well, certainly the entire country is rooting for him. Law enforcement officials say they rushed the bunker and freed Ethan after observing his kidnapper holding a gun.

BERMAN: Now to a story that is just awful, has us shaking our heads this morning. The mayor of Acapulco now apologizing for downplaying the rape of six Spanish women vacationing just south of the Mexican resort city. He called what happened regrettable and says it could have happened anywhere in the world.

Assaults like these are not new in Mexico, but what's shocking about this case is where exactly it happened, near a luxurious enclave known as Acapulco's diamond zone. In response, police have stepped up security patrolling the beach outside the bungalow. Our Miguel Marquez breaks down how the attack happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mask gunmen entered the seafront vacation bungalow from the beach around 2:00 a.m. What happened next, horrific. Six women in their 20s and their male companions tied up with their own cell phone cords and bikinis. The women raped, the men helpless to stop it from happening.

"It's a delicate situation," he says, "but we will apply the full weight of the law against those responsible."

All the victims, tourists from Spain. One woman from Mexico was left unharmed. Some neighbors say they heard music coming from the beach house late that night suggesting there may have been a party. With no gate, fence or security, the house easily entered, invaded from the beach. The shocking crime has struck worry and fear in those who know and love this popular vacation destination.

KATHY CHARELTON, VACATIONING IN ACAPULCO: I'm excited to be here, but at the same time, a little nervous.

MARQUEZ: The attack comes as tens of thousands of teens and 20 something American spring breakers prepare to descend on Acapulco for the annual rite (ph) of sun, beaches and parties. The city of Acapulco has been an oasis of relative calm in the Mexican state of Guerrero.

A place hard hit by drug related violence, the U.S. State Department recommends deferring nonessential travel to northwestern and southern portions of the state, and even in Acapulco itself, the best advice, exercise caution and stay within tourist areas.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Acapulco, Mexico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. Thanks to Miguel Marquez for that report.

SAMBOLIN: That is very scary. I don't know what I would do if I had plans to go there in vacation. BERMAN: Cancel them.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Well, for a lot of spring breakers and the parents, I would imagine they're going to be very worried about that.

Thirty-four minutes past the hour. Despite a very uncomfortable hearing, it looks like former senator Chuck Hagel will soon be confirmed to become the nation's next Secretary of Defense.

CNN has learned at least five Republican senators would oppose a possible filibuster of Hagel's nomination and with no Democratic defectors, it looks like clear sailing for that embattled nominee.

BERMAN: The Pentagon expected to announce it is expanding benefits to same sex partners and military personnel. Officials say Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hasn't made a final decision on which benefits will be included, but that could happen this week. It comes almost a year and a half after the military repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which banned openly gay service.

SAMBOLIN: Four years after he first took office, President Obama plans to make his first trip to Israel. The White House isn't saying exactly when he's going to go, but the president did discuss a spring visit with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The president's trip will also include visits to the west bank and Jordan. He visited Israel as a presidential candidate in 2008 but has not been back as president.

BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) but a lot of presidents have not traveled to Israel. It is not something that everyone does.

SAMBOLIN: Right.

BERMAN: But he is going.

Thirty-five minutes after the hour. For the first time in 30 years, an Iranian president is visiting Egypt. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Cairo yesterday. He was greeted by President Mohamed Morsi, but the Iranian leader was forced to flee an ancient mosque after a protester took off shoes and threw it at him.

SAMBOLIN: The ultimate insult there.

And a homeless, hatchet wielding, hitchhiking surfer dude, apparently, has become an Internet hero. His name is Kai (ph), and according to KMPH TV in Fresno, California, he was hitching a ride with a guy who suddenly rammed his car into a black utility worker and started shouting racial slurs and claimed also that he was Jesus.

Racist Jesus then got out of the car, grabbed another woman who came over to help, that's when Kai (ph) spring into action and beat the attacker with the blunt end of his hatchet. Let Kai tell the story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was driving down this way, he was like, "You know what, I've come to realize I'm Jesus Christ and I can do anything I (EXPLETIVE DELETED) want to." And watched it bam, and he smashed in to the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) guy right there, pinning him between in a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) truck and these two women were trying to help him.

He runs up and he grabs one of them, like a guy that big can snack a woman's neck like a pencil stick. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) right up behind with a hatchet, smash, smash, smash!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, if you're keeping score at home, the driver is crazier than the hitchhiker, but the hitchhiker still has a hatchet. And the accused racist Jesus is now in police custody. The guy who thinks he's Jesus.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: A cookie story. I'm going to put on Facebook and on Twitter so that you all can watch the entire thing. So, the governor can joke about it, right, but Chris Christie's battle with his weight is prompting some serious discussion now about whether he is fit for the White House.

BERMAN: Plus, how one finger ended up costing a Florida woman 30 days of freedom. Do not try this in court, folks.

SAMBOLIN: You know what she did.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 41 minutes past the hour. A stunning statement about Governor Christie, a man who could one day be president.

BERMAN: And you know, it's coming from a former White House physician who says she's worried that Governor Christie could die in office. So, we will bring Christine Romans on this story. And what exactly is this doctor saying?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's a really sort of shocking claim and a lot of talk about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie making a run potentially for the White House someday, you know, and this is something that with his, you know, health constantly in focus. So look, would he be a good candidate for 2016s Republican candidate?

Both Republicans and independents have great things to say about him. There is, however, a former White House doctor who doesn't share the same optimism. She says she'd be worried about the condition of Chris Christie's health if he were president. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CONNIE MARIANO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: I worry that he may have a heart attack, he may have a stroke. It's almost like a time bomb waiting to happen, unless, he addresses those issues before he runs for office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That's a former White House physician. Now, some pretty harsh words there, but does Chris Christie take that kind of criticism seriously? Tuesday, at a press conference, Christie was asked if he planned to do something about his weight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: If you talk to anybody in this room that has struggled with their weight, what they will tell you is that every week, every month, every year, there's a plan. And I'm making the best effort I can. And sometimes, I'm successful. And other times, I'm not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Christie got a little serious there, but watch what he did when he was visiting David Letterman's show Monday night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": I've made jokes but not just one or two, not just ongoing here and there, intermittent, but --

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: Dave, my cholesterol is normal, believe it or not.

LETTERMAN: That's pretty good.

CHRISTIE: Yes.

LETTERMAN: And what about your blood sugar?

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: Blood sugar also normal.

LETTERMAN: Also normal.

CHRISTIE: Yes. I'm like basically the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: That got a big laugh, you know, the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life. So again, he's got a sense of humor about it. We're going to find in the coming months and leading up to the next election in four years whether the American people have that same sense of humor or side with the White House doctor when it comes to Governor Christie's weight, if, if, he decides to run for president in 2016.

SAMBOLIN: I think a lot of people worry about his health legitimately. He's such a funny guy. Great to watch.

ROMANS: You know, I love in New Jersey and I'm telling you, his constituents talk about his weight. They say he's doing a great job. We love what he did for Sandy, even Democrats, teachers. I heard a bunch of teachers who -- some teachers are not very happy with Chris Christie in New Jersey, but they said, you know, he's great, but what kind of role model is he?

We love what he's done on the job, and they say, but if he's done a good job, what does it matter what he looks like.

BERMAN: But I think he's honest about it. I mean, he's honest with his struggles overweight and he speaks like many people I know who have problems with weight. You know, he's battling. He does what he can. Sometimes, it works, sometimes it doesn't. Ultimately, the American people will decide. Look, presidential candidates always, almost always, release their health records.

SAMBOLIN: Right.

BERMAN: It's just for this reason. So, voters can decide whether it is an issue for them. Each voters --

SAMBOLIN: I'll imagine this is going to be a moment of truth, though, before he makes that decision.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: And, in the end, the most important thing for his constituents are their taxes, not his weight. I mean, the number they care about is not how much he weighs, but how much they're paying in taxes. So, the bottom line, it's still politics and business, not what he looks like or his health.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Christine, thank you.

BERMAN: Forty-four minutes after the right now, and here's what you don't do when you're standing before a judge. Do not do this. Do not flip the judge the bird. A true story from a Florida courtroom. Of course, it's a Florida courtroom --

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Oh, that's a low blow, Berman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: It is 47 minutes after the hour right now. You are watching EARLY START, which was a great decision, I must say.

(CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: We want to bring you up to speed on all the top stories. Here's Christine Romans with the headline.

ROMANS: All right. Since our viewers have such good taste, let's get right to the news this morning.

Investigators have uncovered two explosive devices in the underground bunker in Alabama where a five-year-old kidnapped boy was held for nearly a week. Law enforcement officials are telling CNN they used drones and sophisticated surveillance equipment to monitor the suspect, Jimmy Lee Dykes, during the standoff. They rushed the bunker, rescued the boy, and killed Dykes after they saw that Dykes had a gun in there.

Case closed. Federal prosecutors say they won't pursue charges against Lance Armstrong despite the fact he recently admitted that he used performance enhancing drugs throughout his cycling career and lied about it prolifically. The U.S. attorney who initially decided not to go after Armstrong says the statements haven't changed his view, but the government will continue to monitor the situation.

Talk about flipping out. This teenaged girl was appearing before a Miami-Dade circuit judge for drug possession. Watch what happens when things don't seem to go her way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(EXPLETIVE DELETED)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come back again. Come back again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Not a good idea to flip off the judge.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: -- was hauled back in front of the judge after offensive finger gesture and slapped with 30 days in jail for contempt of court.

And Kristen Wiig, former star of "Saturday Night Live," has joined the cast of one of the year's most anticipated movies, "Anchorman 2." She will be team up with fellow "SNL"er Will Ferrell, the one and only Ron Burgundy, and frankly, John Berman's role. The film's director celebrated by tweeting, "Kristen Wiig is officially on board. Cannonball!"

BERMAN: You know, we know what to do with a lot of people, but for us, It's life. It's life.

ROMANS: Yes. There we go.

(LAUGHTER) SAMBOLIN: I still have the flipping off. I can't get over that. Unbelievable.

ROMANS: Wow!

SAMBOLIN: All right. Forty-nine past the hour. People in the northeast are bracing for what could be, what, a big winter storm this week? Indra Petersons is in the Weather Center. You've been talking about a warm-up. What's going on?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, yes. I don't know if it's going to become bad (ph) luck, but such a variety of weather in the weather office. We're active again, and this time, we're watching for the potential for two storms to merge into a nor'easter as we go towards this weekend. Now, let me take it a little bit slow here. We'll talk about what's going on right now.

Here's the storm we're currently watching. We're seeing some showers. Good news, no severe outlook for today. So, still the threat of thunderstorms, though, we'll continue to watch this spread to the east. We'll start to see some heavier self possibly embedded in some of the thunderstorms there, some heavy rain potentially.

Now, there's one low. Here's the second. Now, of course, we're going to see some heavier rain as we go through Thursday and in through Friday here in to the south, but then, this starts to develop into a low. We'll start to see it primarily start as a wind of it and rain event, but then as it makes its way up the coast, we'll see those two merge.

With that, we're going have to be talking about placement as we all know. So, depending on where this is, a but hugs to the coastline, we'll have the threat for some heavier rain and snow amounts. Of course, if it goes more offshore, we'll see lesser amounts. So, we're kind of going the middle zone here, but we potentially see in New England anywhere from six inches to potentially a foot of snow.

But the other thing we're going to be watching as well is going to be where that freezing line is. So, we're going to have to be monitoring how far south this goes. One of the model brings us in about four to six inches of snow even as far south as West Virginia and Virginia. Other models kind of bring it all the way up to just north of New England.

So, again, our New England. So, we're going to be watching all of this. Lots to be talking about. We'll keep an eye for you on the weather office and we'll keep you posted.

BERMAN: Twelve plus, Indra, that's quite (ph) over us.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: I can't help but noticing that 12 plus.

PETERSONS: Yes, like i said, it may be bad luck. I don't know.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. He was leaning in to the TV. I said sledding to (INAUDIBLE), skiing, let's have fun with it, right?

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Fifty-one minutes after the hour right now, and we have a packed hour ahead on EARLY START. In just a few hours, Boy Scout leaders will vote on ending the national ban on gay members allowing local troops to decide for themselves. But there are people on both sides of this debate that don't like this idea.

And we're going to talk to a man who was forced out of the scouts and fought his dismissal all the way to the Supreme Court.

SAMBOLIN: Plus, new details on a daredevil's record leap from the edge of space. It turns out it was even more impressive than we originally thought and how is that possible, we're going to tell you.

BERMAN: Yes, how is that possible?

SAMBOLIN: Yes. It is. Stay tuned, Berman. Stay tuned.

But first, we know Berman can be a diva, right, but he cannot match this lady, Lady Gaga. Her list of demands at every show coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Fifty-five minutes after the hour. I'm John Berman along with Zoraida Sambolin, and we're taking a look at the top CNN trends on the web this morning.

SAMBOLIN: I'm going to tell why you I'm laughing in a moment. So, right at cue, the skeet shooting Obama doll goes on sale. The people at Hero Builders, an action figure company, are trying to cash in on the political micro controversy. It comes with a little toy hunting shotgun and sells for 1995.

So, you'll remember, the White House released a photo of the president's skeet shooting at Camp David after critics on the right questioned whether he really did. So, I was telling --

BERMAN: I'm John. He's the president.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: I've been telling Berman that I actually have an Obama doll from Hero Builders and I also have a Sarah Palin. And I couldn't bring them in because they weren't wearing any clothes. My daughter plays with them, and so, she -- I couldn't find any clothes for them this morning.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Just going to let that one slide. No comment there.

SAMBOLIN: The Sarah Palin one looks just like Sarah Palin. Obama not so much.

BERMAN: Even without clothes. All right.

SAMBOLIN: Well, I wouldn't know.

BERMAN: Lady Gaga's diva demands. CeleBuzz got a copy of the concert writer from her Monster Ball tour, and it really is as bizarre as some of her outfits. In her backstage suite, Lady Gaga requires a mannequin specifically a mannequin with pink hair --let's just say pink hair everywhere.

She also requires fresh roses, white leather couches, black satin drapes, an old rock posters from her favorite artists like Queen, Bowie, Elton John, and Billy Holliday. She also has to have Jamison's wine and 40 bottles of room temperature water along with a packed of straws that must be extra long. The straws have to be extra long according to this document. I thought you were tough to work with, but this --

SAMBOLIN: And pink hair everywhere?

BERMAN: Just take my --

SAMBOLIN: Really?

BERMAN: Pink hair, yes.

SAMBOLIN: Wow!

BERMAN: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: All right.

BERMAN: On the mannequin.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty-seven minutes past the hour. To check out other top CNN Trends, head to CNN.com/Trends.

BERMAN: Late night laughs now. Stephen Colbert checking out the royal digs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": James, bring forth the town criers!

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: England's King Richard III are finally found.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT: That's right. King Richard III has been found underneath the parking lot of a supermarket --

(LAUGHTER) COLBERT: -- which explains why his famous last words were "my kingdom for a hot pocket."

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: How did the scientists know that this was the hunchback king and not some poor 15th century Britain who starved to death waiting for a grocery store parking space?

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Well, researchers observed a distinct spinal curvature that was Richard III'S most pronounced physical feature. Well, that settles it, because once you decompose, it is impossible for straight bones to rearrange into any other shape.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Isn't that right, Richard?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Early START continues right now.