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October 26th, 2012
06:49 AM ET

Obama campaign ad with actress Lena Dunham compares voting to losing virginity


(CNN) – Conservatives seemed to collectively gasp Thursday night when a web video from President Barack Obama's campaign slyly compared a person's first time voting to losing one's virginity. This morning on "Early Start," Mark Preston on the controversy over an ad from actress Lena Dunham comparing voting for Obama to losing virginity.

The star of the video, Lena Dunham, created and stars in the HBO show "Girls." In the video, she appears in a close-up shot explaining the first time she voted.

"Your first time shouldn't be with just anybody," the actress and writer says. "You want to do it with a great guy."

The unspoken comparison continues, as Dunham describes what kind of "guy" she's talking about.

"It should be with a guy that really understands women," she says. "A guy who cares whether you get health insurance, specifically whether you get birth control. The consequences are huge. You want to do it with a guy who brought the troops out of Iraq. You don't want to do it with a guy who says, 'Hey I'm at the library studying,' when really he's out not signing the Lilly Ledbetter act."

At the end, the metaphor becomes even clearer: "My first time voting was amazing. There's a line in the sand. Before I was a girl, now I was a woman."

Dunham, whose show on HBO centers around her character's life as a young woman in New York City, doesn't shy away from risqué topics. In a taped opening at this year's Emmys, she was featured completely nude, eating a cake on a toilet. HBO, like CNN, is owned by Time Warner.

READ MORE: TRENDING: Obama video compares voting to losing virginity

Filed under: 2012 election • Politics
October 26th, 2012
06:13 AM ET

Hurricane Sandy a 'storm of a lifetime'? Rob Marciano has the latest track, warnings

From CNN.com:

(CNN) - Hurricane Sandy is a wolf in sheep's skin poised to assail New England at the beginning of next week, with the potential to cause widespread damage in the highly populated area.

It weakened early Friday but remains huge and is likely to merge with a winter storm front, turning into a "Frankenstorm," as the National Weather Service calls it, over the northeastern United States, right around Halloween.

Sandy already left at least 21 dead, as it ground over Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba.

It weakened to a category one hurricane late Thursday and could drop down to a tropical storm before rolling onto land, says the weather service. But it warns the storm "could become a menace to the Northeast."

This morning on "Early Start," Rob Marciano reports on the latest track and warnings for the storm, and explains why he says it's could be the storm of a lifetime.

READ MORE: Sandy to become "Frankenstorm" and ravage the northeast

Filed under: Uncategorized
October 26th, 2012
06:09 AM ET

What's trending for Oct. 26th, 2012

Schwarzenegger to reprise Conan the Barbarian role, and cheerleader performs with prosthetic leg.

Filed under: Trending
October 26th, 2012
03:23 AM ET

Best Advice: Robert Gibbs

Senior campaign adviser for President Barack Obama Robert Gibbs shares with us his best advice.

Filed under: Best Advice
October 25th, 2012
10:57 AM ET

President Obama jokes about Trump with Leno – Peter Hamby on why self-deprecating humor could win votes

Peter Hamby shares President Obama's response to Donald Trump's big announcement on "Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Filed under: 2012 election • Politics
October 25th, 2012
10:52 AM ET

VIDEO: Apple to release latest quarterly report – Christine Romans has a preview

Christine Romans previews the release of the latest Apple quarterly earnings report.

Filed under: Apple • Minding Your Business
October 25th, 2012
10:39 AM ET

VIDEO: Dept. of Justice files $1 billion Bank of America mortgage fraud suit

Christine Romans explains the claims in the Dept. of Justice suit filed against Bank of America alleging mortgage fraud.

Filed under: Uncategorized
October 25th, 2012
09:53 AM ET

Can early voting make the difference in swing states? Margaret Hoover & Richard Socarides weigh in

With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, both President Obama and Mitt Romney are going hard campaigning through key battleground states. CNN has narrowed them down to eight. Obama, who has been on a campaign blitz, making appearances in eight cities, is stopping in Chicago today to become the first president to cast his ballot early. CNN Political Contributor Margaret Hoover and Former Senior Clinton Adviser Richard Socarides come to “Early Start” with their take on the candidates’ final push before November 6.

It’s no doubt Ohio is a crucial state for either candidate to win.  “The race is becoming about Ohio and a couple other swing states,” Socarides says, “and I think the president has got a much clearer path to victory.” Romney has an edge in the swing state of North Carolina, meanwhile, which Obama narrowly won in 2008. “North Carolina is a must-win for Mitt Romney, the president could afford to lose it,” Hoover says. “Ohio is a must-win for both of them.”

Obama, who holds a lead in Ohio within the margin of error, has been stressing early votes in the final push before November 6. Hoover considers the significance of this on Ohio. “Voter registration is down about 350,000 votes in the three biggest Democratic counties in Ohio,” which is why Hoover says, “they want to bank up all these early votes to be able to act as a firewall on Election Day.”

Socarides says the president’s strategy is “leaving nothing to chance.” “We’ve seen in past elections, especially when they’re close, that organization, organization, organization early, makes all the difference,” Socarides says. “And if you can get out your voters, you can win close elections.”

Filed under: 2012 election • Politics
October 25th, 2012
06:10 AM ET

EXCLUSIVE: Inside look at Statue of Liberty accessibility upgrades – Zoraida Sambolin reports

Lady Liberty has a new spring in her step.

The crown and interior of the iconic Statue of Liberty have been closed for a year for renovations that will make it wheelchair accessible for the first time. The year-long, $30 million renovation project includes a newly installed elevator to the statue’s observation deck, upgraded stairwells and several safety improvements.

These changes will allow an additional 26,000 visitors each year a chance to enjoy her spectacular views, including wounded veterans and others with disabilities.

CNN’s Zoraida Sambolin visited the site with two wounded warriors in an "Early Start" exclusive, and were among the first visitors to take advantage of the new and improved Lady Liberty. She joined Kirk Bauer, who lost his leg in Vietnam, and Jesse Acosta, whose suffered injuries to his hip from a roadside bomb in Iraq, on the 146-step climb to the top.

Filed under: Statue of Liberty
Calling all early voters: Share your 'Votergraph' with us!
October 24th, 2012
01:28 PM ET

Calling all early voters: Share your 'Votergraph' with us!

During the 2012 presidential election, millions of voters will have the option to cast a ballot for their candidate much earlier than Election Day on Nov. 6th.

According to CNN.com reporting, voting experts estimate approximately 35% to 40% of eligible voters are expected to cast their vote before Election Day. That's 5% to 10% more than those who voted early in 2008. By some estimates, over 2 million votes for president may have already been cast.

To all those folks who have already voted or plan to vote before Nov. 6th, we want to hear from you.

We've partnered with iReport to try to gather a snapshot of what all these early voters look like, and what's most important to them in this election. We're calling it "Votergraphs." Check out the iReport "Votergraph" page here.

If you have voted early or plan to, go to the iReport "Votergraph" assignment page to upload a photo of yourself (at the polling place, with your ballot, or even with your family or at home...whatever you think showcases why you decided to vote early) and include the following information:

City, State:
Why you chose to vote early:
Who you voted for:
The biggest issue for you in this election:

Throughout the next two weeks, we're going to share your stories with our audience on "Early Start" and "Starting Point" to help the country get a good picture of how important early voters will be to shaping this election.

Filed under: 2012 election • Votergraph
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