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EARLY START

Debate Day in America; Peaceful Protests Over the Police Shooting in North Carolina; Tributes for Arnold Palmer; Is Twitter for Sale? Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 26, 2016 - 04:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Can you feel it? It is debate day in America. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the same stage staring each other down. Nothing less than a leadership of the country, in fact, the world at stake. Who will prevail? We have a full debate preview now. There it is. There's the stage. Look at that. That's at Hofstra University right there in Long Island.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Like 10 -- 10 feet away from each other? That will be like 10 feet away from each other.

BERMAN: Yes, they can almost reach out and touch each other. Yikes. That's going to be some -- welcome back to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It's 31, almost 32 minutes past the hour here. What could be the most consequential debate in what could be the most consequential election of a lifetime.

Tonight at Hofstra University at New York's Long Island, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face-off on the stage for the very first time 90 minutes, 90 minutes is what they have to convince voters that they are right and their opponent is wrong.

Ninety minutes to make a case about the future. Your future. America's future. And their futures. Yes, you might have notice that these two candidates, you know, they don't seem to like each other very much. But this is really isn't about who wins the food, who swings the most mud, who scores the most points, It is about who can lead the country when there are questions about race, terror and prosperity.

Now the race here is essentially tied. So that pretty much tells you how pivotal this moment is, and we have new information this morning about how the candidates are preparing, who will be in the audience, what the moderator will or will not do.

Let's bring in our panel senior media correspondent Brian Stelter host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" and CNN's politics reporter Eugene Scott. OK, guys. We know that Hillary Clinton has been practicing with one of her long time -- longtime friends and former aides. Just one person playing Donald Trump for sometimes now.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right.

ROMANS: They say we're told that Donald Trump hasn't really been practicing.

BERMAN: I don't buy it.

ROMANS: Berman doesn't believe it.

BERMAN: I don't but it. Not for a second, not for a second.

STELTER: No way.

ROMANS: Let's listen to a little bit of Donald Trump with a montage of him on his primary -- the primary stage. Let's listen to that and talk about what kind of Donald Trump we think will see tonight. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, this guy is a choke artist and this guy is a liar. I'm relaxed. You're the basket case.

This guy has lied so much about my record.

SE. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Here we go.

TRUMP: Don't worry about it little Marco.

(CROSSTALK)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Out of principle and...

TRUMP: You don't need a weak person being president of the United States, OK? Being that is what we get if we were Jeb. You are really getting beaten badly. I know you are embarrassed. I know you're embarrassed, but keep fighting. Keep swinging, man. Swing for the fences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Now I have also an information but I do think that you will see a different Donald Trump tonight. And there are those ho think there will be a Kellyanne Conway Donald Trump tonight.

STELTER: Right.

ROMANS: Trying to look presidential, trying to look as though he has a command of the issues and the policies to go with it. Can he sustain that for 90 minutes? What do you think?

STELTER: I think we are going to see tranquilizer Trump early on. But the fun part about watching his rallies recently is he's using a teleprompter is watch him go off the prompter and watch him ad lib. Even though, he knows he's supposed to be sticking to the script that's been written for him. That's what makes him such compelling television. I think that's what we're going to see over the course of this 90 minutes.

The Donald Trump that is tame that is following a scrip that knows what works versus the Donald Trump that wants to be sort of unleashed for lack of a better word. Remember, he has great advisors around him like Kellyanne Conway, like Roger Ailes. The former Fox News chief who has brought down by a sexual harassment scandal who had to resign under pressure but he is now helping Trump.

He has master minds around him who I think are giving him very good advice. And I'm with you, John. Of course he is prepping for this debate. If he were not to be prepping, I mean, what else has he been doing the last two weeks?

[04:35:02] BERMAN: No, exactly, he has off the trail on Friday, he was off the trail yesterday. He often flies his own plane with no press in there.

STELTER: So, one would assume he is sitting up in the front with advisers they are going over questions. I assume that's why he has a lot of...

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: But it is about like lowering the bar, right. They've tried to lower expectations below the floor of the set.

BERMAN: But it's incumbent upon us to say. Come on, guys, I mean, seriously. Brian used a phrase there which was fascinating. He said Donald Trump compelling television. That is what the Clinton campaign I think is concerned about. That Donald Trump will be judge base on how good or bad he is at making entertaining television tonight for this 90 minutes, as opposed to how much or little he is qualified to be the commander-in-chief.

Hillary Clinton is going to try to make sure that that is the prism of with which this is judged. What do we know about her though as a debater, Eugene? I mean, she actually, she's done a lot of debate.

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Sure.

BERMAN: She's done a lot of one on one debates also with different animal (Ph).

SCOTT: Right. Well, we know that historically she is a really measured debater. And that she is not as easily provoked as Donald Trump is, which is something I think she's going to try to do if he does come out as being more tamed.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: You think she will try to provoke him?

SCOTT: Yes. ROMANS: To show his temperament.

SCOTT: Yes. Specifically if the Kellyanne influence looks like it's working, I think she is going to be like we need to ruffle this up a bit and show this people who he actually is and who he will be in tense moments in a way that I have an advantage that I will not be. I will be much more measured and my experience will benefit me. I think that's what she is going to do base on the reporting that we've seen.

STELTER: She had all this practice as we have seen in 2008. Clinton and Obama. She had a lot of practice one on one in a way that Trump has not. Trump sometimes has faded into the background during those primary debates that we're on wielding. He won't be able to do that today.

BERMAN: No.

ROMANS: Is there a risk of it sort of a celebrity popularity contest and Hillary Clinton comes out and she's got good answers and she has meat on the bone of the policy and how she wants to fix things and she shows 30 years of working in these issues. It all comes down to their style on the stage? Is that a risk?

SCOTT: Absolutely. Well, I mean, we saw President Obama talking about Hillary Clinton saying that she just needs to be herself. And if she is herself that more people will like her and see the Hillary Clinton that he sees. This is really interesting because this is the same candidate who just years ago say you're likeable enough, right? And so, it will be fascinating to see how people respond to personality as opposed to policy.

STELTER: And we see it really unusual and very concerted effort by Clinton campaign aide to change the expectations about Trump and about Clinton. They are pressuring the news media very exclusively to judge these candidates equally.

And you've seen it from Brian Fallon, Jennifer Palmieri and other campaign aides in recent days saying the bar should be set at the same level. That each of these candidates should be scored the same way. That it should be like this uneven. Now there might be good reasons why journalists and commentators are going in with uneven expectations.

We've seen Clinton on the public stage in politics for 30 years. We haven't seen Trump like that. So, there is reasons why the bar might not be set evenly. But the campaign is trying to push very hard for thorough fact checking of both candidates.

BERMAN: You know, it's interesting. I saw a poll that surprise me. Actually in 2012, there were higher expectations for President Obama versus Mitt Romney than there are for Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump.

People thought that Barack Obama was a much bigger favorite in the first debate which he ended up losing after Mitt Romney than Hillary Clinton is over Donald Trump. So, sometimes the expectations, the media set a different expectations

I think than the voters do.

STELTER: Than the public.

BERMAN: Eugene, this is a bizarre weekend.

SCOTT: Very.

BERMAN: To follow, you know, roughly 80 bizarre weekends that are rolling this election having to do with who is going to be sitting in the audience? Where Donald Trump threw out the thought the possibility that Gennifer Flowers would be in the audience. Gennifer Flowers was texting news organization telling them that she would be in the audience, but the Trump campaign now saying no.

SCOTT: Yes, very much so. I was working Saturday and we saw the tweet in the Facebook and we had to reach out to Gennifer Flowers people to make sure that was actually her. The thing that was really interesting about all of it is that we are going into this debate thinking that Donald Trump was taking things a bit more seriously and hoping to do better with women voters appealing to Bill Clinton's marital infidelities. I don't think is going to help him with these people that he needs to win.

BERMAN: Yes, but interesting. Now when she is not in the audience, they can say, this is the tamer Donald Trump. Look, he input Gennifer Flowers in the audience, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: Bingo.

SCOTT: Low standard.

ROMANS: All right, guys. Stick with us.

BERMAN: Thanks so much.

ROMANS: Lot to talk about this morning. A lot going on. It's one of the weakest parts of the U.S. economy. You probably will not hear either candidates talk about it at the debate tonight.

A corporate earnings season starts this week. Experts are calling for the sixth straight quarter of declines. Overall, S&P companies are expected to post a 2.3 percent drop in profits during the third quarter compared to last year. That would mark the longest so-called earnings recession since FactSet started keeping tract in 2008.

Earlier this year, the third quarter was expected to mark the end of that down turn so what is holding back the U.S. companies? Low energy prices are hurting the producers that's dragging down earnings overall. The strong dollar also a major factor. It makes U.S. goods more expensive and less attractive overseas. And finally, some companies say higher wages, that's right, higher wages are pressuring their profits. [04:40:03] BERMAN: All right. Thirty nine minutes after the hour

right now. Protests over the police shooting in North Carolina. They were largely peaceful this weekend. The issue though, front and center in this presidential campaign and you can imagine it will be front and center tonight on that debate stage.

ROMANS: And tributes pouring in this morning for Arnold Palmer. The legendary golfer has passed away, 87 years old. More on his life and legacy next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: The midnight curfew has been lifted in Charlotte as protesters hold new peaceful demonstrations in the wake of the deadly shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. In the wake of the police footage of his death, city officials are urging the community to come together and stay calm.

Let's get the very latest from CNN's Nick Valencia.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, the demonstrations continued over the weekend in Charlotte. This crowd shows the protest outside of the NFL game with the Panthers playing with Minnesota Vikings it didn't really disrupt the game so much and a thin crowd as you can see behind me.

[04:45:09] Also over the weekend, we saw the first police video released from the fatal shooting of Keith Scott. One dash cam video one body cam video was released that was part of the demand from the protestors that we had been hearing all week.

As far as what's happening on Monday, protesters tell me they plan to march to city hall. What they want now is the resignation of the governor, they would like the mayor to step down and the police chief. And they say to plan this protest, this protest anyway, will continue, they say, until their demands are met. John and Christine?

BERMAN: All right. I want to bring back our panel right now to talk about the big debate tonight at Hofstra University.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Is there's a debate tonight? I didn't even know.

BERMAN: I don't know if you heard but there's a debate tonight. A presidential election coming up too and if you heard that either. Mark Preston, Brian Stelter, and Eugene Scott, back with us again. Mark Preston, you had a little break out there at Hofstra University. I want to check in with you and see if you think that one issue tonight will be bigger than any other.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Wow. That's a big question. Because there are so many that could actually pop and have resonance. Look, I think Hillary Clinton, John, is going to go right after Donald Trump on (AUDIO GAP). Specifically trying to get him to release his taxes or better yet, try to politically make some hay out of the fact that he hasn't released his taxes and then maybe bring into the idea of what are his ties with Russia.

On the flip side, you're going to see Donald Trump go right after Hillary Clinton in regards to transparency and honesty.

ROMANS: Yes.

PRESTON: Specifically when it comes to her e-mail server and why did she do it and this is something, you know, the three of us have talked about time and time again. A lot of people get very frustrated with the Clintons because they believe the Clintons are do as I say, not as I do. So, we'll see how that all comes out.

BERMAN: One quick point. Those aren't issues though. Those are -- those get to qualities having to do with the leadership of each candidate. And I think Mark is probably right. That those may end up receiving more prominence tonight than actual policy issues. But that will be interesting.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: She is going to have a better answer on e-mails? That's what I'm wondering. Because she knows that's going to come up. It's going to come up. Is she practicing, Mark Preston, for a different way to answer the e-mail question? Because it still keeps swirling back. Will she say, look, I wish I had done this. I wish I had handled it this way and I wish I had maybe not voted for the war, and go back on her record and say what she would have done differently and use that to point out how she would -- how that would influence and instruct her leadership as president today.

PRESTON: You know, let me just say this. Absolutely. You know, will she come across as somebody who is really sorry for having done it and will the American people buy it? But now, John, to your point about issues. I don't think that the economy is going to pop as the big issue tonight. Perhaps like the one issue that could maybe rise up and get a lot of attention is how do you deal with ISIS, now you know, on foreign policy. That is probably the number one issue.

But basically it's going to come down to arguments basically over, you know, you said this. No, no, you said that. Well, you are not being transparent. No, no, you are not being honest. So, I think that's what we're going to see tonight.

BERMAN: And you know, Eugene, what does history tell us about how viewers watch the debates? What do viewers want to see in a candidate?

SCOTT: I think what we are seeing right now is very fascinating considering how diverse the electorate is and the issues that matter to them most. So, there are people who really do want to hear more about ISIS and that they want to see what a solution would be and what detailed policies will influence in the candidate's approach to their presidency.

But there are people who just want to see if these people will be self-controlled, if they'll be respectful, if they be temperate, if they will know how to treat other people who view things differently than themselves considering how divided we are right now.

ROMANS: And, Brian, two minutes to respond. You know, Donald Trump, two minutes to respond. On one hand, Hillary Clinton keeping all of her policy prescriptions within two minutes would be interesting to see. And Donald Trump expanding his ideas to fill two minutes. That will be fascinating.

STELTER: Fifteen minutes total for each of the six topic areas. We don't know the exact questions. We know the broad themes about prosperity and about security of the country. Given how polarized we are, pardon me, it is hard to think about 100 million people could all come together and watch the same thing at the same time and for us to watch all these candidates.

Margaret Sullivan wrote about it in this morning's Washington Post, this is going to be kind of the first of three times the country will come together...

ROMANS: Right.

STELTER: ... all the same time and watch these debates. Instead a viewer Adam, one of our viewers tweet, "I had three dreams about this debate last night, I think I'm obsessed." Well, Adam, I'm with you. I can't stop thinking about it. I think we've been waiting for this for months and it's climatic, even more than it usually as in a presidential election.

BERMAN: Adam needs to get some help. But then again, but then again, we all do.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: We all do.

STELTER: We all do, Adam.

BERMAN: All right. Stick around, guys.

ROMANS: Thanks so much. Don't move everybody. Twitter could be up for sale. As huge names in tech are reportedly interested. We'll explain a little more than 140 characters when we get an EARLY START on your money next.

[04:50:05] BERMAN: I'm going to tweet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: The king is gone. Beloved golfing legend Arnold Palmer died at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center at the age of 87. Palmer had millions of adoring fans and revolutionized the game in the 1960s.

[04:55:00] His hall of fame of career was defined in part by his epic battles on the fairways with rival Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus release the statement "Arnold transcended the game of golf. He was more than a golfer or even a great golfer. He was an icon. We were great competitors. We were always great friends along the way. We were always there for each other. That never changed. He was the king of our sport and always will be."

And this is from Tiger Woods, "Thanks, Arnold, for your friendship counsel and a lot of laughs. Your philanthropy and humility are part of your legend."

And the president tweeting this, "Here's to the king who was as extraordinary on the links as he was generous to others. Thanks for the memories, Arnold."

BERMAN: He was revered in the sport. And not just a phenomenal golfer but really the first corporate athlete as well.

A high rate of speed is believed to be a key factor in the awful boat crash that killed Miami Marlins star Jose Fernandez and two other men. The 24-year-old year Fernandez survived a heroine defection from Cuba that become one of baseball's most feared pitcher. He was so good and so young. News of his death reduced Marlins' manager Don Mattingly to tears.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON MATTINGLY, MARLINS MANAGER: There's just joy with him when he played. As bad as he would make you with some of the stuff he would do, you just seen that little kid that you see when -- when you watch kids play little league or something like that. That's the joy that Jose played with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: A moment of silence was observed at ballparks across the country. The Marlins game was cancelled. The team will resume play today. That will be difficult for them.

A man suspected of killing five people in the shooting rampage Friday night in the Washington State mall faces arraignment today. The 20- year-old shooter could be charge with five counts of first degree murder. Police say he gunned down four -- gunned down several women at a Macy's store at the Cascade Mall north of Seattle. Investigators say there is no evidence of terrorism and they are looking at a possible connections between the suspect and his victims.

ROMANS: All right. Fifteen minutes past the hour. Let's get an EARLY START in your money this morning, Monday morning. It could be an ugly day for the stock markets. Futures are pointing low lower. Stocks markets in Europe and Asia are down. Oil is up. Analyst are watching that a meeting at the world's largest oil producers later today.

And focusing on the debate tonight, the market has not priced in a possible Trump presidency. So, the market would react if Trump has a good showing. Lots of folks from the market is watching for that.

One stock worth watching today. Twitter shares jumping more than 4 percent on Friday. Takeover rumors swirling around Wall Street. Look at that chart, it's down in pre-market trading right now. Two big names reportedly interested in buying Twitter sales force and Google.

Two former Wells Fargo bankers have filed a class action lawsuit against the bank. They want a $2.6 billion settlement. This lawsuit filed in California says Wells Fargo put unrelenting pressure on its branch employees to open as many customer accounts as possible. It claims managers had a do whatever it takes attitude in telling employees to reach their quotas.

Wells Fargo's CEO John Stumpf is still in charge of the company despite growing calls for him to step down after his testimony to a Senate committee last week. If he does walk he could receive a $200 million payout. There are others who are saying, hey, maybe this CEO should have to give back bonuses if, you know, they smell fishes (Ph) on their watch.

Are you sending a kid to college next year? Listen up. Major changes that could save you a ton of money. The free application for federal student aid, that's the FAFSA is making two changes for the 2017, '18 school year. First, students can now submit the form as early as October 1st. There's a big change. It used to be January 1st.

Aid is awarded on a first come first serve basis so get those forms in as early as possible. Second, students can now base their financial information on their tax year from the previous year to simplifies its answer it makes it easier to fill out. And just the earlier -- the earlier deadline is so helpful for students. Because look if you are going to school and you are not starting the process until January, they need to see more transparency and more clarity.

BERMAN: Indeed. And of course they also need more money. College is super expensive.

ROMANS: Yes. Show me the money.

BERMAN: EARLY START continues right now.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It will happen tonight. They are set to face-off in the very first presidential debate. This race is tied, folks. So this night could mean everything. We will give you the very latest on how they are preparing and what u can expect on that stage.

ROMANS: The podiums are preparing right now finding their positions.

BERMAN: Technically they are lecterns but we can have a separate debate about that at a later day.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: OK. Lectern versus podium.

BERMAN: Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday. It's September 26. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. It is here what could be the most consequential debate in what could be the most consequential election of a lifetime tonight at Hofstra University. That's at New York's beautiful Long Island.

[05:00:06] Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face-off on stage for the very first time 90 minutes.