Candidates Debate At Crucial Moment; Romney's Biggest Misconception; Lacrosse Player Murder Trial; FDA Panel Backs Diet
<Show: EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN>
<Date: February 23, 2012>
<Head: Candidates Debate At Crucial Moment; Romney's Biggest
Misconception; Lacrosse Player Murder Trial; FDA Panel Backs Diet
Pill; Home Prices Lowest in 10 Years; Candidates Debate at Crucial
Moment; Bobbi Kristina's "Out of Control"; UC Davis Students Sue Over
Pepper Spraying; Utah Senate Passes Tanning Bill - Part 1>
<Sect: News; International>
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And a very good morning to you. It is
a very EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We're bringing
you the news from A to Z. It is 6 a.m. in the east so let's get
started for you.
Five days until the Arizona and Michigan primaries. Mitt Romney on
the attack in last night's debate here on CNN against the latest
challenger sitting at the top Rick Santorum trying to end his losing
BANFIELD: Jury finally came to a decision, but it really didn't take
long. This young man, college lacrosse player, George Huguely,
officially now a murderer, a second degree murderer, after the killing
of his ex-girlfriend in a drunken jealous rage.
The jury has recommended against a maximum sentence, but wait until
you hear how long they think he should be behind bars.
SAMBOLIN: There's a lot of talk about this new magic diet pill that
is getting the nod now. Still there are some safety concerns out
there particularly for women who want to become pregnant and also
concern for the safety for your heart, as well.
BANFIELD: Baby you can drive my car. You just have to fill it up
because I'm not going to pay for your gas at 6 bucks a gallon in some
places. Believe it or not.
It is a reality. Don't worry, though. It's not going to be fixed
necessarily where you are. But it is up another 3 cents just as you
slept overnight. Can anyone stop the spike in the price at the pump?
We'll tell you how much it is across the country.
SAMBOLIN: If they could, I'm sure they would.
But up first, the dual in the desert. Big debate held here on CNN
last night with John King. Just five days until Arizona and Michigan,
the primaries there. Rick Santorum getting his turn at the top. Will
he stay there is the big question, right?
BANFIELD: I'm not so sure he pulled it off and a lot of the critics
aren't so sure either. In fact, a lot of people were saying it was a
big fizzle, depends, though. Depends on how you feel what they were
In Mitt Romney's home state, Michigan, of course, they were watching
like hawks because he has been talking about the auto bailout there.
He's been pushing on the earmarks issue. Both of these guys were
going after each other on their records with people's money and of
course, their votes in Congress and while they were governor, et
Sometimes the crowd was applauding and cheering and sometimes the
crowd was actually booing. So, if you missed it, we have the
highlights for you. Have a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While I was fighting to save
the Olympics, you were fighting to save the bridge to nowhere.
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're entitled to your
ROMNEY: I heard that line before.
SANTORUM: You're misrepresenting the facts and you're misrepresenting
the facts. You don't know what you're talking about.
Yes, Governor, you balanced the budget for four years. You have a
constitutional requirement to balance the budget for four years. No
great shapes. I'm all for -- I'd like to see it federally.
But don't go around bragging about something you have to do. Michael
Dukakis balanced the budget for 10 years. Does that make him
qualified to be president of the United States? I don't think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Did you see them sitting beside each other and not standing
at podiums? This is something kind of new. The "New York Times"
actually characterized it that they seem like squirmy school children
crunched into classroom desks.
I'm sure it was more uncomfortable than even that if you're on the
stage. Our CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, has not only
watched it all live in Mesa, Arizona. He's still in Mesa, Arizona
getting up at the crack. Well, it's not even close to dawn in Mesa,
Arizona, but he's joining us now.
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: It's not even close.
BANFIELD: It is not even close. You know, in Australia, they say
that there is a tall poppy syndrome. When you start to get to be the
taller poppy, the whacker comes along and takes you down. Is that
really what we see here with Rick Santorum and his performance last
STEINHAUSER: Yes, you know, for the first time in 20 debates, he was
the man in the middle and yes, he did get some whacking, I guess, you
could see from Mitt Romney.
Listen, if this debate at the Mesa Art Center, behind me here, was the
last one in this cycle. It was a good one to go out. We had drama.
We had conflict and yes, it's centered on Santorum and Romney kind of
forced Santorum to defend himself of some issues that maybe unpopular
Like Santorum's support of no child left behind, his support of
Planned Parenthood funding, his support of earmarks and his support of
Arlen Specter back in 2004 and Romney also pointed out this to Rick
Santorum. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Let's not forget that four years ago, well after Romney care
was put in place, four years ago, not only endorsed me, and this is
the guy who is really conservative and we can trust him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEINHAUSER: There you go. Take that, Rick Santorum. Listen, I
spoke to a top Santorum aide after the debate was over and he said,
listen, not my candidate's best debate, but he said, nobody hit a home
run, they were not that concerned -- Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: Not only that, Paul, but you had to sort to be a super wonk
to sort through all of the big hits last night and while it was a lot
of fun to watch and actually a bit of a puzzle, do you think that what
they did will actually resonate with the average guy out there? Will
they get it? Will Romney be able to sort of say, I really kind of hit
it out of the park?
STEINHAUSER: Yes, you know what? Romney did not have his best
performance. That is definitely the case, but he didn't have any big
screw ups either and I guess, that was enough.
His job of taking Santorum down was successful enough. That's all he
had to do. He didn't have to raise the bar that high. Also he took a
page out of Newt Gingrich's playbook. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: We have to restore America's promise in this country where
people know with hard work and education that they're going to be
secure and prosperous, and that their kids will have a brighter future
than they've had.
For that to happen, we're going to have to have dramatic, fundamental
change in Washington, D.C. We're going to have to create more jobs,
have less debt and shrink the size of government. I'm the only person
in this place --
JOHN KING, HOST, CNN'S "JOHN KING USA": The question is
ROMNEY: You know, you get to ask the questions you want and I get to
give the answers I want.
KING: Fair enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEINHAUSER: Take that, John King. You know, Newt Gingrich was
successful going after the moderators. Mitt Romney did that last
night with our John King.
Romney advisors say you can imagine, Ashleigh, were pretty happy after
the debate was over saying they are confident now. They're going to
win Michigan and Arizona.
And for Gingrich, yes, he was a side show as was Ron Paul. But let's
be honest, Newt Gingrich had a pretty good debate. Was it enough to
get him back in the game? That's debatable.
BANFIELD: Always a popular strategy to take a hit when you can at the
media. So they got that one in there again. And by the way, apart
from you being a super wonk, I believe John King trumps all of us in
super wonking us.
STEINHAUSER: Hands down, he sure does.
BANFIELD: Paul Steinhauser, thanks for getting up so early. It's nice
to see you.
SAMBOLIN: It is 8 minutes past the hour here.
Former University of Virginia lacrosse player found guilty in the
murder of his ex-girlfriend. George Huguely convicted of second
degree murder in the death of Yeardley Love.
The jury recommended a sentence of 26 years in prison. CNN legal
contributor, Paul Callan is here. Paul, second degree murder and
facing 26 years in prison, are you surprised by the verdict?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: No, I'm not surprised by the
verdict. It essentially was a compromise by the jury. The prosecutor
was seeking murder one, which would have meant life in prison.
The defense was hoping for manslaughter, which could have meant as
little as 10 years in prison and the jury found middle ground, but
they found, basically, this was an intentional murder. When he struck
her and beat her in the room and left her to die that he knew that he
was killing her and that was the ultimate conclusion of the jury here.
SAMBOLIN: You know, when we listen to the details of this murder
case, you know, we discuss all the legal issues all the time, but a
family here lost a daughter, lost a sister. Do we have any reaction
CALLAN: Well, there has been a reaction and you know, I thought,
Ashleigh, the prosecutor, Mr. Chatman said it all yesterday and he
said that, you know, there were no winners in this case. There was
tragedy on both sides.
It's a tragedy for the Huguely family. It's a horrible, horrible
tragedy for the Love family and you know, ultimately Huguely will wind
up spending most of the rest of his life in prison and this wonderful
daughter that the Love family had is gone. So, you know, this is just
a horrible tragedy for all concerned.
SAMBOLIN: And there's some talk from Huguely's lawyer that, you know,
they're looking forward to some corrections in what happened here.
That's what they're going to be looking for. What legal options does
CALLAN: Well, Huguely's lawyer is hinting, of course, that he is
going to take an appeal after the sentence in the case. The judge is
going to sentence Huguely in April and he can sentence him up to the
amount recommended by the jury, which is 26 years in prison, but later
there will be an appeal.
I don't know that there's a lot to reverse this case on. One of the
criticisms may have been that the prosecutor got a little too
emotional in his summation. He actually cried in front of the jury.
Something you almost never see a prosecutor do.
I'm sure there will be a claim that he injected too much emotion into
the proceedings causing the jury to reach the wrong verdict, but that
is a hard road to follow.
There was very, very strong evidence for the prosecution here. There
had been a threat to kill by Huguely the day before. Huguely was a
trained lacrosse player, a nationally ranked lacrosse player.
A very, very big guy who knows how to be violent and he used that
violence against Yeardley Love. So there's adequate evidence to
support this conviction. So I kind of doubt that you're going to see
a reversal of this if an appeal is taken.
SAMBOLIN: All right, Paul Callan, CNN legal contributor. Thanks for
coming in early for us.
CALLAN: Nice being with you, Zoraida.
SAMBOLIN: Thank you.
BANFIELD: It's 11 minutes now past 6:00. We always talk about the
magic pill that will melt of all the pounds. So you can just eat all
the pizza you want and still not suffer when you step on the scale,
but the pill was rejected once. So, why is it safe now?
SAMBOLIN: That's a good question. We're going to try to find the
answer to that. But first, let's get a quick check of your travel
forecast. Rob Marciano live for us in Atlanta. Hi.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, good morning again, guys. Pretty
active weather pattern shaping up. Tremendous amount of wind
yesterday. Take a look at these numbers, 90 plus in Wyoming and
Colorado. Not just the higher elevations, but some of the low
country, as well.
It's 88-mile-per-hour gusts in boulder and at times, sustained as near
some of these levels a lot of wind damage and roads closed because of
that. That wind energy comes into the plains today and another front
of severe weather across parts of the eastern third.
And also a decent amount of snow forecast for parts of the high plains
and the western great lakes. Some of our computer models predicting
four to six to eight inches of snow just north of Omaha, but Chicago
you could see six to ten inches of snow by this time tomorrow morning.
Temperatures will be cooling there, 41 degrees in Chicago. You'll be
on the warm side in New York. All rain when it gets to you tomorrow
night, 55 degrees for the high temperature in the big apple today.
EARLY START coming right back.
SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 15 minutes past the hour. Here it's
time to check the stories that are making news this morning.
BANFIELD: It was a bit tense, I think you could say, at the final CNN
GOP Debate for Arizona and Michigan Super Tuesday. Contests come
rolling around and Mitt Romney battling with his latest super
challenger, Rick Santorum, over spending and voting and just about
anything else they could come up with. Both the candidates having to
awkwardly sit next to each other are locked in a pretty darn tight
race for the next two states.
Also making news and this one is really intriguing. The U.S. envoy is
meeting with North Korean officials today. Not happening there, it's
happening in Beijing. But nonetheless, they're going to discuss
whether North Korea is willing to suspend its nuclear program.
Officials are also going to be talking about human rights and
humanitarian issues. Good luck with that.
Bankruptcy judge is approving some $370,000 in bonuses. Yes, you're
seeing the sign on your screen saying Solyndra. It's for nearly two
dozen employees at that controversial company. The solar panel
company that got $500 million loan before it just went ahead and
declared bankruptcy, and reports say that some of those same employees
who were about to get the bonuses approved by a judge just got pay
raises of up to 70 percent. So that should get your blood boiling.
SAMBOLIN: There could soon be a new diet pill on the market. It's the
first new diet drug in 13 years and it's called Qnexa. An FDA panel
just backed it. So a big question here, could it be the magic pill to
We've got an expert to weigh in on this morning. Joining us now, Dr.
Louis Aronne, Director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at
New York's Presbyterian, Weill Cornell Medical Center. That is a
mouthful. Thank you so much for joining us this morning. We
DR. LOUIS ARONNE, NY PRESBYTERIAN, WEILL CORNELL MEDICAL CENTER: Good
SAMBOLIN: Good morning. So first, we want to talk about the results
and then we'll talk about the possible side effects here. So there
were some clinical trials. What were the results in terms of weight
ARONNE: The studies that were presented to the FDA were in more than
3,000 people and they showed that the average person lost about 10
percent of their body weight. That's a really good result for medical
treatment of obesity.
SAMBOLIN: So, this is not the first time that the drug has been up
for approval. A company behind it submitted the drug to the FDA back
in 2010. Back then it was actually rejected. What has changed since
ARONNE: Several things have changed. First of all, it's our attitude
towards obesity. We recognize that obesity is a major health problem
(ph) on the healthcare system and on individuals who are not making
any progress by telling people to eat less and exercise more. And,
secondly, the only options we have beyond that are surgical. So,
we've got to do something else.
The second thing is there's new data. There's up to two-year data
showing on Qnexa showing that it's effective out to two years and that
there's a good safety profile.
SAMBOLIN: But there are some risks. You said safety profile, but I
was reading risks to women who potentially want to have children and
then also something about a risk to the heart.
ARONNE: Well, when we look at the safety in women who could be having
a child, that's something where a strong education program and limited
distribution can prevent that from happening. Only certain pharmacies
will carry Qnexa and those pharmacists will be instructed who can get
it and they wouldn't give it to women who could potentially have a
problem with it.
Secondly, as far as the heart issues are concerned, Qnexa lowers blood
pressure and has many other potentially beneficial effects, but the
FDA has recommended that an outcome study where we look at how people
do in the long run. Do they have heart attacks, strokes, that will be
done once the drug is approved.
SAMBOLIN: But what are the short term results? I thought I read
something about heart palpitations.
ARONNE: Those - there are some side effects like that that may be
seen. But in general, the overall cardiovascular profile is
beneficial. One of the outcomes of the study was looking at do people
have more or less heart attacks and strokes?
And actually people who were on the Qnexa group who lost 10 percent
more weight than people in the group that got a placebo pill had fewer
heart attacks and strokes, about half as many. So it looks pretty
SAMBOLIN: All right. I got one last question for you. Because a lot
of people are going to want to know it was an FDA advisory panel that
approved to this. So it's not on market right away. When do you
think it could make it to market?
ARONNE: Well, the FDA now has to make the final decision and that is
going to take at least two months. And after that, it may take a few
more months. So, I wouldn't expect it for at least three to six
months and then it could be available. But this is not something that
you're just going to go to your local pharmacy and get. SAMBOLIN: All
right. Thank you very much, Dr. Louis Aronne. Thanks for coming in
ARONNE: Thank you.
BANFIELD: Still ahead, the hits and the misses from last night's CNN
GOP Debate. Did the roller coaster ride take another turn?
And also, some brand-new concerns over Whitney Houston's daughter,
Bobbi Kristina. Reports that her drug problems are, quote, "out of
You're watching EARLY START.
SAMBOLIN: Twenty-three minutes past the hour here. Welcome back to
Home prices fell to their lowest point in more than 10 years in
January. This is according to a new report from the National
Association of Realtors. This report says the average price for a
home fell to $154,700 last month, that's the lowest since November of
BANFIELD: I don't know that I always believe them. They're not
always so accurate.
SAMBOLIN: You know who you do believe, Ms. Christine Romans, right?
BANFIELD: I believe everything Christine Romans says, and you're -
and especially when you have a data wall to back you up.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I know. I know I've
got a data wall with lots of different sources of data. So we can
make sure we really cover our bases here.
BANFIELD: So Christine, what's the deal? I mean, look, is it - is it
a great thing because you can buy a house cheaper? Is it an awful
thing because you're going to lose money to sell your house?
ROMANS: It depends if you're a buyer or seller, right? And it
depends on where in the country you live, because all real estate is
But first I want to show you what it looks like according to the
National Association of Realtors. You know, you talked about that
2001 November. Remember, we were all in shock from September 11th. It
was a decade ago. The whole world was a different place then and
that's where home prices are now.
You look at this chart, you could see where we've come from the peak
in prices in 2007 when you had prices that were well over $200,000 on
average for a price of a house, and now you're more like $154,000, so
that's real money that has really hurt people.
But let's take a look at where things are going now. This is where
I'm going to bring in Zillow. It's another - another source of data
on home prices. So, 2011, according to Zillow, the average - the
price - the medium price, home prices down about five percent on
average in this country. And they're saying 2012, this year, where
are we going? Probably down another almost four percent.
But it depends on where you live. You guys know this. Real estate is
so wildly different. So I want to break this down to you and show you
according to Zillow where things are still falling, where home prices
are still falling. Places like Atlanta, you could see another 8.5
percent drop in the medium price of the home.
Chicago, Zoraida, down about -
SAMBOLIN: I don't want to hear.
ROMANS: I know - about eight percent. Seattle, Cleveland,
Sacramento, St. Louis, Minneapolis, St. Paul, these are parts of the
country where home prices are still falling.
So let's take a look at where things appear to be bottoming out.
Places like Dallas Ft. Worth, also San Diego, San Francisco,
Pittsburgh, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, probably wouldn't lose any more
And then you look at places where prices are rising, where the bottom
is probably in and things are getting a little better. How about
Baltimore, Maryland, Riverside, California, Phoenix, which has had a
huge crisis there in housing and foreclosure. So there are a few
places, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., as well, where prices are
starting to move a little bit higher.
But, again, it's been a very tough road, but many people are saying
that with home prices so low and with mortgage rates at rock bottom,
it's a good time to buy if you're in the right position.
SAMBOLIN: All right, Christine Romans, thank you very much.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
BANFIELD: I still wanted to know where New York was on that. Was New
York on that gauge?
ROMANS: New York, let me look, New York, New York.
BANFIELD: I always love New York prices.
ROMANS: I know.
BANFIELD: It's just - it's just fun to watch.
ROMANS: There it is, down 1.7 percent.
SAMBOLIN: Oh, wow.
ROMANS: So I would call that on the cusp between bottoming out and
still a little bit weak. All right, there you go.
BANFIELD: Thanks for that. You are fast. That's little print. Small
print. You don't even wear glasses.
ROMANS: I know Dean (ph) found it actually. He went right to it with
the camera and then I follow like a little puppy.
BANFIELD: All right. Since we're talking money, let's talk about
money and politics and how they have been battling it out, especially
last night. The candidates just hammering each other at the CNN
Newt Gingrich even going so far to push the president for supporting
what he said was legalized and fantasize (ph). Is that fair? We're
going to break down the key moments in a moment.
SAMBOLIN: And Michael Jordan suing a Chinese company for identity
theft. We're going to get to the bottom of that.
You are watching EARLY START.
BANFIELD: Hi, welcome back. It is 6:30 a.m. on the East Coast. Nice
to have you here with us. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
SAMBOLIN: Hi. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.
It is time to check the stories that are making news this morning.
Rick Santorum's spending record as a senator under attack at the final
CNN GOP debate before key primaries in Arizona and Michigan. And, of
course, all the Super Tuesday states. Mitt Romney leading that
attack, hoping to pull ahead, again.
George Huguely is now waiting sentencing for second murder in the
death of ex-girlfriend and Yeardley Love. A jury has recommended 26
years in prison. A judge will decide his fate in April.
A Connecticut hospital worker is in custody this morning for allegedly
shooting two supervisors. Police say it happened after a disciplinary
dispute. The shooting victims are reported in serious, but stable
BANFIELD: Some changes to a controversial Virginia bill requiring
women to have ultrasounds prior to undergoing an abortion. The bill
still requires that the ultrasounds happen, but at least lawmakers now
say they're changing it so only the less intrusive abdominal
ultrasounds are used.
Eight more bodies found in the wreckage of that Italian cruise ship
that ran aground, the Costa Concordia. That means now 25 people are
confirmed dead, seven people still missing. Italian authorities have
now expanded their investigation and, guess what? Seven more ship
employees are now suspected of manslaughter, shipwreck and failing to
alert authorities -- facing charges.
Michael Jordan, superstar, now suing a Chinese sporting goods company
for using his good name to sell shoes -- but not his official shoes.
Along with his number, 23, apparently Jordan says this is not about
the money, about principle and protecting his good name and his brand.
SAMBOLIN: It is 32 minutes after the hour, the latest debate before
the contest that could change everything. It was right here on CNN.
BANFIELD: You couldn't miss it. It was loud, boisterous, and real,
real wonky. Mitt Romney versus Rick Santorum is what the headline
really comes out to be.
By the way, if you look at the front page of "New York Times," that's
all you get -- the two guys. There were four on stage, but the two
guys were really the headlines.
And it really comes at a crucial time for Mitt Romney, as well,
because he's just trying to recapture all that mojo that he was
getting leading up to all of this. The mojo -- is his mojo rising
especially with endorsements?
Let's go to our panel, shall we?
Republican Matt Keelen is joining. Democratic strategist Penny Lee is
also with us. And Anna Palmer is a money and politics reporter for
So, first things first, guys, it was just breaking this morning, that
we have another endorsement rolling in for Mitt Romney and it's where
he needs it, in Michigan, where he was born and grew up.
This one is the "Detroit Free Press" giving him an endorsement, but
with reservations, and this follows yesterday's "Detroit News"
But, Matt, did the endorsements matter at this point and have they
mattered along the way?
MATT KEELEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Ashleigh, I don't think
endorsements from newspapers are a big deal. Some local politicians,
the governor of Michigan is probably a bigger endorsement that Romney
has got. And as you said, Romney needs to start getting the momentum
back and really needs to start taking the race to the president
instead of Santorum and the other Republicans.