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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Remembering Whitney Houston; Arizona Sheriff Outed by Paper

Aired February 19, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: From CNN world headquarters, bringing you news and analysis from across the nation and around the globe, live from Studio 7, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN Center, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. And it's Sunday, February 19th. It's 8:00 a.m. here in Atlanta, Georgia, 6:00 a.m. in Phoenix, Arizona, 5:00 a.m. in Los Angeles. Good morning. I'm Gary Tuchman.

Today, the family and friends of Whitney Houston will lay the pop star to rest. A private burial was planned. We'll take a look at her music-filled sendoff.

And a Romney campaign chair steps down after he's outed, and also accused of threatening to deport his former boyfriend. We're getting his side of the story.

Plus, President Jimmy Carter talks about his faith in a new book and how at times he had questioned his beliefs.

But, first, a quick check of top stories. China is calling for an immediate cease-fire in the nation of Syria. The Chinese diplomat was visiting his Syrian counterparts when the military opened fire on anti-government activists in the capital city of Damascus. Activists say many as 17 people were killed in Syria yesterday. China's vice foreign minister said that both sides should sit down and negotiate an end to the violence. China and Russia recently vetoed a U.N. resolution calling on Syria's president to step aside.

The new discovery of human remains in Long Island has reignited fears of a possible serial killer on the loose in New York state. The remains found Friday were actually around 40 miles from where 10 other sets of remains were found last year. Police say they aren't sure yet if the new discovery is linked to the other cases.

An Arizona sheriff outed by a Phoenix by a Phoenix newspaper has stepped down as the state's co-chairman for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. In the newspaper article, Sheriff Paul Babeu is accused of threatening to deport his former boyfriend if he revealed their relationship.

The Pinal County sheriff denies the allegation. Babeu who was also running for Congress acknowledged publicly for the first time that he's gay, but says will not end his congressional run. As we've told you, Whitney Houston will be laid to rest later today in New Jersey, specifically, Westfield, New Jersey, about 20 minutes south of Newark. The funeral of the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark was a celebration of her life, her work and her roles in the church.

CNN producer Raelyn Johnson was inside for the service. She was the only person from CNN inside the church. And she was there because the Houston family invited her.

First of all, Raelyn, I haven't seen you in person for a long time. So, it's nice seeing you. Thanks for me joining me today.

RAELYN JOHNSON, CNN PRODUCER: Nice seeing you, too, Gary.

TUCHMAN: Raelyn, tell me what it was like inside that service.

JOHNSON: I have to say, you know, being someone who's from New Jersey, for three hours, you literally felt like this was just a girl from New Jersey who had a few famous friends and it was such a celebration of life. It is the same church service that will go on in so many churches across the country this morning -- Baptist churches I should clarify -- and it was celebration, it was singing, it was praise for three hours and it wasn't until the very end that you remembered that this was a funeral and a very sad day for a lot of people.

TUCHMAN: Raelyn, where did you sit inside the service? You said it was like a normal down home service except for some moments, you turn around and you see people like Oprah Winfrey.

JOHNSON: Yes, that's right. I sat about 20 pews behind the family in the friends and the family section, which was about -- there were about 1,500 of us. And it was a very close view. I have to say, there wasn't a lot of sitting because there was a lot of reveling and clapping. I knew every song and so did everyone else.

This was a group of church-going folks, I should say, and even where I was sitting, you know, the casket comes by you, you see Cissy Houston completely broken down, Oprah Winfrey. And it was so hard to believe in the end what had really happened for so many people and to know that you go there to support people, or cover a story and to realize that, you know, I don't have to go and bury my mother today or my child.

And I think that it was such a beautiful service for three hours and just like I said, Gary, it wasn't until the very last moment that you pinched yourself and you said, there's Oprah Winfrey with a face full of tears, there's Tyler Perry with a face full of tears. And it wasn't until that last moment when everyone just -- it all really sunk in and it got really, really heavy, because the entire time, we were on our feet clapping and singing.

TUCHMAN: It was heavy. When you saw the casket going down the aisle at the end and heard Whitney Houston singing, it was so hard. And saw Cissy Houston, her mother, and Bobbi Kristina, her daughter, it was so emotional.

You said you watched the services later on television and it seemed different from what you experience in person. How was it different?

JOHNSON: It was completely different and while it was a beautiful service, that was broadcasted. All of the musical performances, and I've seen a fair amount of those people in concert. I think a lot of us have. There was nothing else like being in that room and to hear -- I never heard Alicia Keys sound that way. I've never heard Stevie Wonder sound that way.

And to have the program -- you tried to follow along but you couldn't because people sang when they wanted to. They sang their own version to the songs, like Kim Burrell and Stevie Wonder. Those were personal renditions of the songs that we'll never hear again.

But to be inside, I can't even describe to you the feeling thaw just couldn't get when you watched on TV, which is sad for her fans but she wasn't owned by her fans. She was owned by her mother and the city of Newark and she went home, I should say, the same way she was born and raised.

TUCHMAN: I mean, that's the thing, Raelyn, is that this church is where she sang gospel and prayed as a little girl. So, it was so appropriate -- so sad but so appropriate that the service funeral was held at New Hope Baptist Church. Now, lot's been said about Bobby Brown and coming in with people, and leaving, because he was given a hard time.

JOHNSON: Right.

TUCHMAN: You were there. You saw it firsthand. What really happened?

JOHNSON: Yes. So the four people that you're watching on TV right now, those are the same four people, including Bobby Brown and his wife and a child of his, I believe, that came into the church, they came in not with the family -- I want to be very clear like that -- he came in like any other VIP person did, came in and sat in the front row which I saw and a lot of people saw was very clearly marked off for the family.

That's not to say that Bobby Brown isn't family. What I mean by family, in this type of church service, religious church service, people who want to sit in the first, second, or third row, you need to gather with the family at the funeral home and then properly process in with the body or with the family and that's just how that goes. Bobby Brown sat somewhere else.

And I want to be very clear, because I saw this with my own eyes -- he was not the only person who was doing this sort of dance and shuffle with their seats. There were a lot of people who moved around. I saw Vivica Fox moved her seat a few times and that's because people would arrive -- government officials would arrive and they had required security that need to be there. Now, I also want to point out that when Bobby Brown walked past me, I thought that he was so emotionally torn. His eyes were red. He looked like he had been crying.

I thought he was moving to a more private area so people couldn't see him so upset. He walked up the aisle. He made it very clear for all 1,500 of us to see him.

And we only -- there was no commotion inside. People were asked to move very nicely and like so many other people, I thought Bobby Brown was just moving to a different area where he could be more private because he looked so emotionally upset. I didn't think he had it in him to last three hours for that funeral.

And if it weren't for the tweaks or the statements that were published, anyone inside -- you would have not known. And the thing that's for us in the media covering a story, we wonder what's the real relationship between Cissy Houston, Bobbi Kristina, Bobby Brown.

And you have to think that publishing a statement while your ex- wife's body is still laying in a church, that can't make that rift, no matter how big or small it is we know it to be, it couldn't have made things better. There's no way it could have.

TUCHMAN: Raelyn Johnson, you explained it so well, it feels like we were inside that church, too. Thank you so much for joining us.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Gary. You're welcome.

TUCHMAN: Well, the South is getting a double dose of bad weather this weekend, from severe storms to another blast of cold, which is not over. Meteorologists Reynolds Wolf is with us -- Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, along the Gulf Coast, it's going to be a primary just a rain event. Some places, northern Florida and south Georgia, you may have thunderstorms and maybe even an isolated tornado. But the top half of the system, into Kentucky and into the Carolinas, it's all snow. We're going to talk about that coming up in just a few moments, Gary.

TUCHMAN: Thank you, Reynolds.

WOLF: You bet.

TUCHMAN: He's no stranger to writing books but it's former President Jimmy Carter's face that's the focus of his 26th book. Our sit-down interview with him, just ahead.

Plus, ESPN is apologizing to the New York Knicks standout Jeremy Lin. More on the fallout over a racial slur, just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCHMAN: It's 11 minutes past the hour.

Meteorologist Reynolds Wolf joins us with the check of the weather.

Reynolds, we have this bad weather moving out of the gulf. Is it going to where our viewers' homes? It depends on where their homes are. But you can tell us, right?

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely.

You know, if you happen to be tuning from Tennessee this morning, I can tell you the rain is all moving across the state, even if you're in Atlanta, it's basically a rainy situation. In fact, let's take a look at this.

Here we go. This is a shot of Centennial Park. And a lot of rain drops on the lens cap. There we go, a little swipey dew there. It looks pretty good for the most part if you don't mind the rain, if you don't mind the cloud cover. We got both in Atlanta today.

And as I mentioned, in Tennessee, our friends there are definitely going to be dealing with that today. In fact, take a look. We're going to zoom into a couple of spots right here into Tennessee.

In fact, here we go. Let's zoom right into Nashville. You're going to notice a lot of orange, a lot of yellow pop out on the screen. What we're dealing with there is some very heavy rainfall, especially south of Oak Hill, right along parts of 40.

The problem that we have for the time being is not that we have any flash flood watches or warnings. We don't yet. But they maybe pending. And the reason is we see more development into the south, in Huntsville.

And as that rain makes its way up to the I-40 corridor, some places that have been just hammered by the heavy rainfall are going to see the additional amounts and with that, you could have some runoff. And with that, you could definitely have some delays in parts of 40.

Already some delays that we have for you, to be expected anyway, in Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville, all due to the weather. In Nashville, we mentioned the rain. We have to throw in the chance of snow, too. In Raleigh, rain and snow. And in Washington, D.C., the snow will come later into the afternoon.

Now, in terms of the snow that we might see in the highest elevations of, say, parts of the Appalachians and even into North Carolina, three to six inches of snowfall is what we can expect in the high points. I'd say even a bit more, or closer to eight in the highest peaks, but the warnings that we have, the winter storm warnings will be in effect not just for today but for tomorrow morning, too. So, when you were making a drive along 60, 40, even 81, you might have some issues tomorrow on drive.

Now, plenty of sunshine across the Northern Plains, pure bliss for you. It's going to be great along U.S.-Canadian border, but notice the transformation you'll deal with once that area of low pressure comes right out of the Four Corners. The tail end of this, some light to moderate snow in the highest elevations of Arizona, back into the Central Rockies, even the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, it might get a light touch of snowfall. And then in the Pacific Northwest, we see yet another storm system that brings some snow to places like Bend, Oregon, the seven sisters, and even into the Cascades.

Temperatures in Seattle and Portland, a bit warmer close to the water, the water often has that moderation effect on the atmosphere, and temperature is 40s there, 55 in San Francisco, 63 in L.A. Back east, we go into Billings and Denver, mainly, let's see 40s and 30s, 55 in Albuquerque, 40 in Minneapolis for your high, 39 in Chicago. And just wrap it up -- in Atlanta and Washington and New York, even Boston in the 40s and 50s, 84 expected in Miami.

There you go. Gary, back to you.

TUCHMAN: Reynolds, is that a windshield wiper on that camera, by the way?

WOLF: Yes, the tricks and gadgets that they have up there is just amazing. I would hope that it was a windshield wiper. I know we did had someone up there swiping it by hand. That's kind of a scary prospect.

TUCHMAN: I was wondering, yes -- was that a robot, if somebody out there perched on the roof about to fall off.

WOLF: Let's hope a robot. There we go again.

TUCHMAN: I got to find out the answer to that question before this day is over, Reynolds.

WOLF: You and me, both.

TUCHMAN: Thank you very much.

WOLF: You bet, dude.

TUCHMAN: Well, it's not his skill on the court dominating the headlines this go around, but a racial slur used to describe the Knicks' standout Jeremy Lin. The latest on the controversy right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCHMAN: Well, he's the NBA newest sensation -- Jeremy Lin, his skills on the court have dominated the headline, made the Knicks fans in New York very happy. But the latest headline is about ESPN issuing an apology to him.

I'm joined by HLN sports anchor Jeff Fischel.

Jeff, tell us about the story.

JEFF FISCHEL, HLN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes. You know, a lot of the fun about this story has been the headlines. All the puns with Jeremy Lin's latest name, the Linsanity. But ESPN took all the pun out of headlines with Jeremy Lin. When the Knicks lost Friday night, ESPN's mobile site had the story about how Lin. The headline included a word that has a double meaning. One of the meanings is an ethnic slur, which won't show here on the air.

Lin is Chinese-American. His parents grew up in Taiwan. ESPN did make an apology a few hours later.

Quote, "Last night, ESPN.com's mobile website posted an offensive headline Jeremy Lin at 2:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The headline was removed at 3:05 a.m. We are connecting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to insure this does not happen again. We regret and apologize for this mistake."

Now, last night, "Saturday Night Live" took on the issue of race and how it's playing a role on the Jeremy Lin story that even mentioned the ESPN slur. It was a flurry of jokes that were appropriate to make a point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought we were having that kind of fun. Dan, back me up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I apologize for our viewers at home for the comments that (INAUDIBLE) who are Lin-sensitive and Lin correct. He has been fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FISCHEL: So Jeremy Lin and the Knicks take on the Mavericks today.

But let's show you some golf. Check out Phil Mickelson's great shot at the Northern Trust Open in L.A. This was yesterday in the third round.

Now, any pro can drive in the fairway. That's what we do. Sometimes, you need a special skill to pull up something like this. This tee shot goes stray and it ends up, in that guy's shorts. There it is.

He said he was worried he might hit somebody or hurt somebody depending on how that ball bounce around the guy's shorts. He might have hurt somebody.

Mickelson signed one of his gloves and gave it to him as like a little keepsake. There you go. That calls for celebration. He's tied going to today's final round. And you know what happens there is that he basically drops the ball right where it was sitting, although the guy gets out of the way, and he actually, Mickelson went on to get to --

TUCHMAN: I was going to say, if you play where it lies --

(CROSSTALK)

FISCHEL: That term takes on a whole new meaning.

TUCHMAN: Really. And you take one stroke penalty and play it close by.

FISCHEL: He got a par. Yes. You can't help that a guy happened to be where the ball landed. So, he just moves out of the way and nothing -- there was no harm done to Mickelson's day.

TUCHMAN: I was telling Jeff, recently, I went on golfing, I hooked the ball so badly I hit the house, hit the window and it was a disaster.

FISCHEL: That's how like game works, that's why I leave it to the press.

TUCHMAN: I know. It's a tough game. Thank you very much, Jeff.

FISCHEL: All right.

TUCHMAN: Nice talking to you.

Well, a tough local sheriff with the growing national profile. Now, he says he will not stop his congressional run just because he's been outed and accused of something else. We'll hear from him.

Plus, CNN sits down with one on one with former President Jimmy Carter. He opens up about his faith and new book he's just written.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCHMAN: Time now to check out some other news making news across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We start in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a former University of Virginia lacrosse player accused of killing his girlfriend decided not to take the stand in his own defense. Instead, George Huguely left it up to his attorney to explain that while Huguely admits he fought with Yeardley Love back in May 2010, he left her injured but not dead. They called the death an accident. Both the prosecution and defense rested their cases. The trial resumes on Wednesday.

To Hawaii now where Elizabeth Smart in a married woman. She married her boyfriend on small ceremony on Oahu's north shore. Smart and Matthew Gilmore were supposed to get married this summer. But a spokesman says the couple decided to move it up a couple of months because of all of the media attention. You'll remember that Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped when she was just 14 years old and held for around nine months. She's now 24 years old.

Finally, let's go to Las Vegas where the stars came out to say happy birthday to Muhammad Ali. Ali actually turns 70 last month, but Vegas never misses an opportunity to party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RASHIDA ALI, DAUGHTER: He is the most interesting person I know. And you know what? My dad doesn't want to spend his birthday getting gifts. He wants to give back to the community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the most unselfish person that I've ever met.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's an icon in just about every avenue of life, (INAUDIBLE) as a person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ali has changed us all and impacted us all, whether we acknowledge it or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: President Obama sent a video message to Ali. People paid to $10,000 a ticket to go to the party, which doubled as a fundraiser for the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, and a brain health center at the Cleveland Clinic.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: Now to Arizona.

A popular sheriff has stepped down from his role as the state's co-chairman for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign after being outed by a Phoenix newspaper. In the newspaper article, Sheriff Paul Babeu is accused of threatening to deport his former boyfriend if he revealed their relationship.

He denies the allegation about the deportation but is admitting for the first time publicly that he is gay. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF PAUL BABEU (R), PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA: I am here to say that all these allegations that were in one of these newspapers are absolutely, completely false. Except for the issues that refer to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) being gay, because that's the truth. I am gay.

This is a moment of truth for me and I want to set the record straight so we can get on to the business of what's most important to Arizona because I can tell you this is probably the least of concern to real families and real people throughout our state.

We're not hiding anything. But I'm standing up saying, that, yes, I'm an actively campaigning for Congress in the fourth congressional district and I intend to continue to earn the trust of the people by talking about the real issues.

I actually called the Romney campaign and said, hey, look, I'm actually going to step away from the campaign and they said, we support your decision, sheriff. This is my private life and now it's out for the whole world to see. And that is -- that is very difficult and I wish that didn't happen.

And I can tell you for those who may seek elected office that are out there, there's not one person without some transgression or something that could be very embarrassing. And the measure of who I am is how I'm handling this today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: Well, as you've heard, Sheriff Babeu is running for elected office, he's running for Congress as a Republican. And this news he says is not going to change that. He also says he's kind of relieved that the news is out there now. Sheriff Babeu was in the military for 20 years, served in Iraq, but he made headlines in Arizona for his tough stance on immigration.

And this me with him in 2010. I was doing a story on him and his deputies as we were walking through the desert south of Phoenix, looking for illegal immigrants and drug smugglers. What he showed me back then were a lot of clothes and equipment left behind by people who are illegally crossing the border.

So, we'll see how he handles the situation.

A call for Syria to stop the violence. Egypt is now saying the bloodshed must end.

And it's former President Carter's faith that's the focus of this new book. It's his 26th book. Our sit-down interview with him just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCHMAN: Good morning. It's 29 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I'm Gary Tuchman.

Checking top stories right now.

Egypt is recalling its ambassador to Syria saying the Syrian government has a, quote, "Obligation to stop the violence". The move comes as activists say soldiers attacked the funeral for protesters yesterday. Meanwhile, the Bashar al-Assad regime is blaming the opposition for what it says are targeted on officials.

Macy's reportedly plans to ramp up hiring; the department store's CEO saying the chain will add about 4,000 full-time employees to its payrolls this year. That's about the same amount of new employees last year.

And the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics are becoming talking points in the presidential campaign; Mitt Romney accused by rival Rick Santorum of using earmarks to keep the games afloat. Romney's campaign dismissing the claims, saying Romney ask Congress for the money to help with security issues. He's no stranger to writing books but it's former President Jimmy Carter's faith that's the focus of his new latest release.

CNN's Martin Savidge was able to talk with our 39th president about his journey through religion.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gary, people may have different opinions on the politics of President Carter, but there's one point you cannot disagree on him. That is he is a writing machine. He has put out more than two dozen books and this latest one he hopes that people will read every single day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: First of all, Mr. President, thank you very much.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a pleasure.

SAVIDGE: This is your -- what number of book?

CARTER: 26th, I think.

SAVIDGE: How do you keep being so prolific when it comes to writing?

CARTER: Well, I do my duties. I have a wide range of responsibilities concerning the Carter Center and Habitat for Humanity and so forth but when I'm at home and have some time I enjoy writing and it's a major source of income for me since I've left the White House.

SAVIDGE: Well, this is definitely a book that interests you. It's an inspirational book. It's very deep in your faith. And it seems to be a book that's not only written for people to read but a book for people to use in their life. And I'm wondering just how you hope people will use it.

CARTER: Well, my hope is that people will take it and maybe read through it first and then maybe put it on their bedside table and read a few pages each night if they are inclined it to do so. It really is -- each page is an abbreviation of a 45-minute lecture.

SAVIDGE: Are these for the Sunday school?

CARTER: Sunday school lessons, yes. I've selected this and abbreviate them sometimes quite thankfully during this past summer when I had both my knees replaced and I was pretty well incapacitated.

SAVIDGE: In many of these lessons you bring out specific instances of when you were in the White House. I mean, you -- you apply both faith with -- with the political -- what was going on at that time. Have you ever felt abandoned by your faith?

CARTER: Just once in my life. I was disillusioned with my faith. It's when I ran for governor in 1966. And I was basically running against Lester Maddox who was a well-known segregationist. And when he didn't win but the legislature appointed him later on that was a constitutional provision then, I really felt letdown by God.

But my youngest sister, who was a very famous evangelist, took some scriptures from the Book of James, I remember, that "Setbacks in life should be an institution that results in perseverance and patience and self-analysis and renewed spiritual commitment and she convinced me and so I -- my faith was renewed at that time.

SAVIDGE: But you put the date of the lesson I presume.

CARTER: Yes.

SAVIDGE: At the top of the page. What was the reasoning for doing that?

CARTER: I just felt like it was worthy if we either wanted to explore at what point in Jimmy's life did he write this? They could a look at the actual date and see whether it was 1990 or whether it was in 2010 that I wrote the lesson and maybe judged by my development more -- more maturity, if I've got increased wisdom and so forth, or maybe they wanted to compare it to what they remember from that particular era.

SAVIDGE: These are based on lessons I think over 30 years, right?

CARTER: Yes.

SAVIDGE: And in your writing in the book you say that the bible doesn't change but I'm wondering, have the religious attitudes of the students that you now see, and their faith has that changed?

CARTER: I have a very diverse audience each Sunday. And I do really try to relate to them based on the current atmosphere in the world. Right now there's a much more I'd say negative prospect of the future than there was, say, ten years ago or 15 years ago with wars breaking out and a lot of tragedies taking place and the United States being constantly involved in combat overseas, things of this kind.

So I would say that the audience doesn't change much in their basic character. It's a circumstance that surrounds that particular Sunday that affect their lives that does change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: This is a book of religious meditation. So of course, it's got a heavy religious feel to it but he also mixes in the politics of the presidential office at the time and how his religion helped him through many crises and many difficult decisions.

It's a very intimate look into the faith and even the soul of a man who was once the most powerful man in the world -- Gary.

TUCHMAN: Marty, thank you very much for an interesting interview. Go to our belief blog at CNN.com/belief and you can also share your thoughts and read more about it.

Differences over theology and debate about birth control: some social issues moving to the front of the 2012 campaign. You see Candy Crowley there. I will talk with her about it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCHMAN: "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley is coming up at the top of the hour. Candy joins me now with the preview.

Candy, social issues seem to be in focus both in and out of Washington this week. Rick Santorum in the headlines for slamming what he calls President Obama's theology while an all male birth control debate sparks outrage in Capitol Hill. It sounds like it will be an interesting topic today.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST "STATE OF THE UNION": Well absolutely. Because you know one of the things I think that is interesting is that there -- there is a wing, a portion of the Republican Party that thinks that social issues are really something that ought to be back burner.

Mitch Daniels is one of our guests today, the Governor of Indiana said this a while back. Saying look, "We've got to focus on the economy, we've got to focus on jobs." And yet this whole week has been about in one way or another social issues whether it's women in the forefront of combat or birth control and who should pay for that, if it's a religion, the Catholic religion that does not believe or condone birth control or it's Rick Santorum, as they said last night, questioning -- seeming to question the President's theology suggesting he's not a Christian, which as Santorum says he didn't say.

But nonetheless it's all of these issues that Democrats can immediately seize upon, particularly the women and contraception. We saw Democratic women out there going, no, we're going to stand up for women's health issues and so they've turned it to their advantage by kind of stirring up the base of the Democratic Party and Republicans obviously can make some headway with their conservative base talking about these issues.

But the question is do they want to do that looking forward into the fall. So we kind of want to dissect it politically this Sunday.

TUCHMAN: So the question is, if we put it on the back burner, that's just a political reasoning, that the culture class can hurt the GOP. Is that why they want to do that?

CROWLEY: Yes in general and -- and also because I mean, now they would argue that's not so, that there are a lot of cultural conservatives and that the U.S. in fact is right of center anyway on social issues. But more than that, there is also -- it's just not on the top of most people's minds. I mean two weeks ago I don't think we would have thought we were going to have a discussion about birth control.

So the fact of the matter is, most Republicans say, look, it's still the economy and to put this sort of thing out there only allows Democrats to stir up their base.

TUCHMAN: You know I've known you a long time Candy. And I know that discussion over birth control nothing surprises you in a presidential campaign.

CROWLEY: It's true. It's true.

TUCHMAN: And tell us who's on the show today.

CROWLEY: We will have Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana; Michele Bachmann, conservative, a Tea Party tight former presidential candidate; as well as our lead guest Ron Paul to talk about where he thinks his campaign is headed and how he views the rest of the campaign.

And we'll also have a panel discussion on what are the U.S. interests in Syria? Should we be doing something? Is there some reason that folks out there in TV land watching this should be concerned about what's happening in Syria and what's happening in Iran.

TUCHMAN: Candy, thank you very much. Good show today.

CROWLEY: Thank you.

TUCHMAN: Keep it here for "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley. That starts 18 minutes from now at 9:00 Eastern Time, 6:00 Pacific Time right here on CNN.

Who knew that Whitney Houston wanted to be a backup singer for a group of friends at the height of her career? Stories shared by family and friends like gospel singer Kim Burrell revealed the intimate side of the superstar. More on Whitney's faith and struggles next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCHMAN: Who knew that Tyler Perry and Whitney Houston first met in a restaurant? Or that Kevin Costner was raised a Baptist, too. And that Whitney Houston held a meeting with the Winans family in her closet? They're just a few of the stories family and friends shared at her funeral yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN COSTNER, ACTOR: Your mother and I have a lot in common. I know many at this moment are thinking, "Really? She's a girl, you're a boy. You're white. She's black. We heard you like to sing. But our sister could really sing."

So what am I talking about? Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, they don't have anything in common at all. Well, you'd be wrong about that. We both grew up in the Baptist Church.

A lot of leading men could have played my part. A lot of guys -- a lot of guys could have filled that role. But you Whitney, I truly believe that you were the only one that could have Rachel Marin at that time.

TYLER PERRY, PRODUCER, DIRECTOR: And she and I sat in a restaurant in Atlanta, just the two of us, sat there talking for about an hour and a half about four years ago and during this time she was telling me about her life. And I was very surprised at how candid and open and revealing she was as she was talking to me. And she would talk about some things that she went through, some things that made her sad, some things that were tough. And as I would see her talk about this, I would see this heaviness come upon her.

And I'm the type of person that when I would see this with anyone, I would just want to say something encouraging. But before I could get words out to encourage her, she would say, but the Lord.

BEBE WINANS, GOSPEL SINGER: Whitney told us we had to come over. So we came over to the house and she said, ok, we were sitting in her closet. And her closet was about as big as this church so we wasn't crowded. And so we're sitting there and she says, ok, all right. So, I have to tell you what we going to do. I went and I had some uniforms made. We looked at it and she said, I got the background dresses for the three girls and they are cream and I got the band and I got the cream for the shirts. And Bebe, I got you a suit. I got you a cream suit made. And Cece, I got you a melon. Yes. A melon dress made and I got me a green one. She made her a green one.

She said, because we going to headline and she was determined and I know Clive was here and she made Clive so mad. She decided in the height of her career she was going to come sing background with Bebe and Cece. And so we sat there, and we said, "Whitney, you can't do that. Nobody told you to do that, girl. This is not a material relationship." She said, ok look. Let me just this.

She said, "You're my brother and sister, right?" We said, "Yes." "And I'm your sister, right." And we say, "Yes, you're our sister." She said, "Ok and we love each other, right?"

And we said, "Whitney yes, we love each other." And this is what I'm going to miss -- she said, "And you're all broke, right?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: Very bittersweet. Whitney Houston will be laid to rest today. She will be buried next to her father at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, New Jersey which is south of Newark and it will happen during a private family gathering.

It could be another stormy day across the southern United States? Meteorologist, Reynolds Wolf will have a final check of your weekend forecast coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCHMAN: It's time for this "Morning's Passport" with our very own Nadia Bilchik -- Nadia. Nadia has a story -- I guarantee that most of you have never heard about this. But when you're an orphan in China, you can sometimes be given very demeaning names that you have to live with your entire life.

NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: Yes. Now, in China particularly, what they call orphans up until now, this new regulation is dong (ph) and gro (ph) which means party of state.

TUCHMAN: So they name you, basically that's the communist party kind of thing?

BILCHIK: Absolutely.

TUCHMAN: You're the property of our state?

BILCHIK: Exactly. So this year the ministry of civil affairs have said we are no longer going to do that. Children in orphanages in fact are prohibited from being called party of state. They would rather be given the surnames of the last names of 100 of the most popular Chinese last names.

Now, it's interesting, one particular orphanage said that up until 2010 every single orphan was called -- or their last name was "party" -- because as you just said they owed their lives to the party. And one particular welfare worker said, "We don't want children to grow up in orphanages to carry labels imply that they are different from those who have parents."

TUCHMAN: What an enlightened thing to say.

BILCHIK: Exactly. Now, of course, that goes with them throughout their lives. Now, there are about 100,000 children in 900 orphanages throughout China. So it really is going to impact a lot of children.

TUCHMAN: Does this happen in other countries?

BILCHIK: You know, in India last year, I did a story about little games who were called "Naksha" or "Nakushi" which in Hindi meant "unwanted". And up until last year, that had been their names so only in the year 2011 were they given names for the first time that didn't identify them as being unwanted.

So certainly in China, change in regulation later this year will be implemented and these children will have surnames that have so much more dignity than simply party or state.

TUCHMAN: What has led to this sudden enlightenment?

BILCHIK: I think psychologists and welfare workers -- the "China Daily" particularly said, that this move shows the government is paying more attention to these children's psychological needs which helps their development. So certainly some kind of movement to understand what are the long-term ramifications and it brings us to think what is in a name, Gary Tuchman?

TUCHMAN: Yes. Well, I mean Tuchman in Chinese means "of the state". You didn't know that?

BILCHIK: Now I do.

TUCHMAN: And that's why I'm sitting here with you.

BILCHIK: And do you know what your first name means?

TUCHMAN: Gary? It's a British name.

BILCHIK: And do we know if it was a king or queen or --

TUCHMAN: Definitely king. Yes.

BILCHIK: Definitely king. Because my Nadia means a "total gift".

TUCHMAN: Really?

BILCHIK: Yes, so it was interesting to know what does your name mean? What does a family name mean and what does it mean to have a wonderful new last name? There's going to be a whole generation of Chinese orphans who are going to be much more proud of their names than they ever were before.

TUCHMAN: I can tell you so I sound somewhat informed that "Tuchman", I do know what that means.

BILCHIK: Yes?

TUCHMAN: "Tuchman" is a German name and "Tuch" means -- and German speakers would know this -- it means cloth or clothes. So it's cloth-man.

BILCHIK: So cloth-man.

TUCHMAN: I'm a man of the cloth.

BILCHIK: Well, that says a lot about your warmth and your wisdom.

TUCHMAN: Nadia, thank you very much. You should be my agent.

Nadia Bilchik, thank you very much for joining us. It's great talking to you.

BILCHIK: It's always good to talk about what's in a name.

TUCHMAN: It very much is.

And this is an inspiring story too because they'd finally seen the light in China, give kids some dignity. Thank you.

Well, now it's time to check top stories.

Egypt is recalling its ambassador to Syria saying the Syrian government has a, quote, "obligation to stop the violence." The move comes as activists say soldiers attacked a funeral for protesters yesterday. Meanwhile, the Bashar al Assad is blaming the opposition for what it says are targeted attacks on officials.

Macy's reportedly plans to ramp up its hiring; the department store's CEO is saying the chain is going to add about 4,000 full-time employees to its payrolls this year. It's about the same amount of new hires as last year.

And the 2002 -- or 2002 as we used to call it back then -- Salt Lake City Olympics are becoming the talking points in the presidential campaign; Mitt Romney accused by Rick Santorum of using earmarks to keep the games afloat. Romney's campaign dismissing the claim saying Romney asked Congress for the money to help with security issues.

And now it's time to go to meteorologist, Reynolds Wolf with one last look at the weather. Reynolds, one thing we haven't talked about very much is winter's huge blizzards across North America. It's not happened?

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Very true. We really haven't had a whole lot of that activity. But it looks like we might get a touch of winter weather across parts of the Appalachians. You know, just yesterday one of the big weather stories we had was actually on the Appalachians but rather on the Gulf Coast to be more specific. In New Orleans we have the video for you, people are making their way down Bourbon St. enjoying Mardi Gras and as they were making their way down the street, the rain was coming down also. There you have it on Orleans Ave.

A huge mess -- people were trying to pick up beads at the same time dodging the raindrops; parts of the state (INAUDIBLE) not only some strong winds and some heavy rain but actually there are a couple of tornado reports along portions of the Gulf Coast. Thankfully, we can expect that system to actually pull a little more to the northeast; so, a better day in New Orleans.

So where did the rain go? Let's come back to the weather wall and as we do so, we're just going to follow along a bit more to the north back up into Tennessee. You see the heavy rainfall from Knoxville to Nashville, even Columbia and Jackson, Tennessee, getting on the action.

We're going to go from the heavy rain that you see from the greens, the yellows, and the orange spots here on the radar, too; something a little different -- some pink and white. That's some snowfall. We can expect that snow to really begin to pile up in parts of the Appalachians. We have the colder air aloft from Charleston back to Roanoke. Perhaps in places like Washington, D.C., before the day is out, we may be dealing with snow.

We're also going to be dealing with that area of low pressure, moving to the east as it does so. Some chance of severe storms in extreme southern Georgia and part of Northern Florida. So again, you're going to be dealing with the boom of thunder here and there.

At the same time, Northern Plains and parts of the Great Lakes look much better; high pressure building in there. This are of low pressure with this trailing cold is going to bring some snow back into the Rockies. They've been doing pretty well but there's snow in part of Breckenridge and back over to places like (INAUDIBLE) Springs -- snow coming in there. Also snow in portions of the northern Rockies, so great news for them.

High temperatures: 47 degrees in Seattle, 55 in Albuquerque, 39 Chicago, 55 in Atlanta and 40 in Boston, 64 in Houston. The warm spot in the country is going to be in Miami. But if you have a few splash dash showers, you might cool down very quickly.

Ok. So you've seen the weather forecast. What will it mean to you travelers? Well, quite honestly, it might mean a whole lot in Atlanta, Birmingham and Nashville, where you're going to have a little of fog mixed in with the rain. In Nashville, some of that cold air may make its way to the south which could give you some snow in Raleigh, evening rain, afternoon scattered showers and snow giving way there.

And in Washington, D.C., rain early and had been out by the tidal basin, I would not be surprised out by Reagan and Dulles if you get a few snowflakes out there. Heavy stuff? Probably not; but at least a light dusting can be expected.

All right. That's the latest. Gary, let's send it right back to you.

TUCHMAN: Reynolds are places like Alaska and Eastern Europe, there'd been some big cold spells this winter. But how unusual is it that in the United States at least so far this winter it's been this warm?

WOLF: Compared to last year it's very, very different. No question about it. But we've got to keep in mind, you know, we still have the rest of February. We still have March and even April. Sometimes in April, we can have some big winter storms especially in the early half of the month. So we're not done quite yet. So let's not get into a false sense of security. I know I want to but you always know Old Man Winter may have just one big coat to give us and if that happens we're going to deal with the heavy snow and certainly the impacts of all of that.

TUCHMAN: Reynolds Wolf, thank you very much.

WOLF: You bet.

TUCHMAN: And thank you all for joining us this weekend. "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley starts right now.