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Obama Presses Kenya on Critical Issues; GOP Lawmakers Fight to Repeal Obamacare; Turkey Bombs ISIS, Arrests Terror Targets; Car Bomb Explodes in Turkey, Kills 2; Poll: Pope Francis' Approval Rating Drops in U.S.; Caitlyn Jenner Reality Show Debuts Tonight. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired July 26, 2015 - 07:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN: President Barack Obama, continuing his tour of Kenya, pushing its leader to tighten counterterrorism practices, fight corruption, and expand gay rights.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN: Plus, a rare Sunday session for the Senate. And there is some controversy. GOP lawmakers trying to use a must- pass highway bill to repeal Obamacare, again.

PAUL: And Turkey continuing its assault on terror, bombarding ISIS positions in northern Iraq, rounding more than 600 suspected militants. We're taking you there live for the latest on the anti- terrorism operation.

So glad to have you with us this morning, as always. Good morning. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to start a Sunday with you.

And we're beginning with the president's visit to Kenya. Just moments ago, he was at a civil society event, before he's heading off to Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia. That happens next hour.

Earlier this morning, hundreds gathered to hear him speak at a Nairobi Arena. He talked about U.S./Kenya ties, terrorism, corruption. He covered a lot in about 45 minutes.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here in Kenya, it's time to change habits and decisively break that cycle, because corruption holds back every aspect of economic and civil life. It's an anchor that weighs you down and prevents you from achieving what you could. If you need to pay a bribe and hire somebody's brother, who is not very good and doesn't come to work, in order to start a business -- well, that's going to create less jobs for everybody.


BLACKWELL: CNN's White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, is traveling with the president. She is in Nairobi.

Michelle, the president covered so much in 45 minutes.


BLACKWELL: He didn't mince words. I mean, he really went to the issues there with the Kenya people.

KOSINSKI: Right. What he wanted to do is highlight and applaud all of the progress that Kenya has showed. But he also wanted to highlight these problems.

And he went into great detail. I mean, on the subject of corruption, you mentioned there, he said that it cost Kenya 250,000 jobs a year. He really hammered that point home. But also on inclusiveness, and democracy that represents everybody, really getting fired up when he talked about oppression of women.



OBAMA: Around the world, there is a tradition of oppressing women and treating them differently and not giving them the same opportunities, and husbands beating their wives, and children not being sent to school. Those are traditions treating women and girls as second-class citizens, those are bad traditions. They need to change.


KOSINSKI: He said things like forcing children into marriage, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, sexual assault. He said these things have no place in civilized society. No place in the 21st century. And he used a lot of analogies, too.

First, sports analogies, saying, well, you know, here we are in a sports arena. If you had a team but only half of that team was allowed to play, referring to women being half of society, not allowed to participate. He said that's stupid. And it makes no sense.

He also compared traditions having to change, to the way the U.S. is changing its use of the Confederate flag.

So, definitely getting a lot in there, and terrorism was a big point he wanted to hit on. That's one of the major themes of this trip, not just to Kenya but also following on to Ethiopia. Saying the U.S. stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Kenya in fighting terror, as long as it takes -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Michelle Kosinski for us in Nairobi -- thank you.

PAUL: Back in the U.S., on Capitol Hill, a rare Sunday vote is expected in the Senate. Lawmakers have a week to extend funding to repair crumbling roads and bridges, and because it's seen as must-pass legislation, it is viewed by many, as a way to carry unrelated amendments forward.

[07:05:00] National correspondent Sunlen Serfaty joins us live from Washington.

Good morning, Sunlen.


It's a tangle over those unrelated amendments that has really created a very abnormal dynamic in the Senate, which really sets the stage potentially for some fireworks this afternoon.

This all started on Friday when Republican Senator Ted Cruz, he lashed out at Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of course, a member of his own party, accusing him of lying. Now, Cruz says McConnell that he would not cut a deal which would allow a vote to reauthorize the Export- Import Bank, which is wrapped up in this highway bill. That's not something that conservatives like Cruz are against, and McConnell appears to have cleared the path for it.

Here's a moment of anger that Cruz had directed at Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a direct question. I asked the majority leader in front of all of the Republican senators, the majority leader was visibly angry with me, that I would ask such a question. And the majority leader looked at me and said there is no deal, there is no deal, there is no deal. Like St. Peter, he repeated it three times. I cannot believe he would tell a flat out lie.


SERFATY: It's very rare to see this sort of personal attack in the Senate, and may have violated some Senate decorum rules.

Now, McConnell, we have not hear from him yet. He's been silent on this issue. So, potentially, we could hear from him today for the first time.

Now, Ted Cruz, of course, is running for president. And he's already raising money off of this spat, saying in a fund-raising e-mail, quote, "We've been betrayed by the Senate majority leader", and asking, Christi, for campaign donation.

PAUL: All right. Sunlen Serfaty, appreciate the update. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: He's got a pretty big donation to the PAC, about, what, $15 million. We'll talk about that later.

But like pretty much all of the Republican candidates, Ted Cruz has languished in the shadow of Donald Trump. But Cruz's fiery attack now puts him back into the spotlight.

Here's the question: is Cruz the candidate now trying to play a Trump card in a way, out-Trump Trump? Let's talk to our guest about this, Lisa Boothe, a Republican strategist, and senior director of the Black Rock Group. Marc Lamont Hill is host of "Huff Post Live" and CNN political commentator. Also, a professor at Morehouse College.

Good to have both of you with us this morning.


BLACKWELL: So, Lisa, let's go to Cruz. Then, we'll get to Chris Christie. Cruz, this goes farther than he's gone before in opposing his party there in the chamber. Does this work for him in 2016 politics?

BOOTHE: Well, look, I think there's some genuine frustration there. And here, look, I think this speaks to the dysfunction in Congress and what Americans find so frustrating about Congress, is the fact that something so unrelated, such as the Export-Import Bank, could make it into this legislation about the highway trust fund.

And I think from conservatives, first and foremost, there's two sources of frustration here. One is over the Export-Import Bank, which conservatives see as a corporate giveaway. And the second is over the highway trust fund, because a highway trust fund, spending continues to outpace --

BLACKWELL: But, Lisa --

BOOTHE: -- the income money, and the revenue. So, I think there's a source of frustration with both of those aspects.

BLACKWELL: This comes, though, from Ted Cruz, who has tried to shove Obamacare into many, many things. So, to talk about what's germane to the topic or germane to the bill, he seems like the wrong spokesperson.

BOOTHE: Well, Victor, I think his frustration is over the Export- Import Bank, and the same frustrations that many conservatives across the country share, also with the highway trust fund bill, because what we've seen with the highway trust fund bill, is spending continues to outpace revenue, and there's no structural changes in this bail bill. Once again, Congress is asking for a bailout with the highway structural bill.

Until you address those structural changes, until you address we're going to continue to see this problem. And I think there's a larger source of frustration with both the Export-Import Bank and the highway trust fund as a hole.

BLACKWELL: Marc, let's talk about 2016. I mean, it appears that even for Ted Cruz, who has opposed his party there in the chamber many times, aggressively, that this is the effect of Trump on the rest of the race and coming down to the wire on trying to make that first debate.

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's absolutely true. I mean, one thing Ted Cruz has masterfully done, even if it's not the most ethical thing, is kind of hanging in the bushes while Donald Trump goes on a tour of absurd statements.

He hasn't come out and censored Trump, many of the Republicans had, because he assumes that Trump is going to wing out, and the activist wing of the Republican Party, that voting base will be his if Trump isn't there. That's his natural base and his natural connection. So, he's sort of tried to stay out of the way.

But what he has seen is Trump is lasting longer than many people expected. Christie is going to have the same challenge for a different reason.

[07:10:00] And as result, he has to say something or do something to make the top ten. So, now, he's going after folks. But he's not doing it Trump style, per se, because Trump doesn't just throw flames at the Republican Party, he also goes after particular specters of American people, a voting base, he's much more ad hominem.

While saying Mitch McConnell didn't tell the truth is somewhat of ad hominem, he's still getting, as Lisa said, a bigger frustration of the party. And so, he's trying to be the conscience of the GOP, he's trying to be the conscience of the Senate.

And even though he probably violated Rule 19 of decorum, he's trying to get into this base. I think it can work for him. It may get him into the top 10, but still in the third tier of candidates, for sure.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about another candidate trying to get into that top 10, Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, showing some fire on the campaign trail, as he has this exchange with a voter over his gun rights record. Let's listen to a bit of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: State gun right groups from here in Iowa to Minnesota, even to Georgia, have sent out some e-mails recently saying that you're very anti-gun, when it comes to second amendment. So, my question is, how are you going to -- New Jersey gun owners into thinking that you'll be anything other than a President Michael Bloomberg if you become successful?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, because it's not true. So, let's start with that. The answer is New Jersey have a lot of really difficult gun laws? Yes. They were all signed before I became governor.

And I'm still waiting for one fact, one fact from you about me being anti-gun. Give me one. One fact.

Got one?

By the way, I vetoed the state ID system. You're wrong about that, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: Lisa, this is the "tell it like it is" candidate, right? That's his slogan. Is this the right tone in the wake of Charleston? In the wake of Chattanooga? In the wake of Lafayette? Is this the right tone for this topic?

BOOTHE: Well, I think there's frustration there and there should be. Look, as someone who's worked on campaigns for over seven years, now, there's a lot of misinformation out there about your candidate. So, I think this is the job of the candidate. This is the job of someone like Chris Christie, who is making a presidential run, is to set the record straight. That's what he is doing.

HILL: I disagree.

BOOTHE: The individuals in the audience who brought up the questions, questioned governor Christie's record, seemed to not have the facts straight. So, it's Governor Chris Christie's job, as he did, to set the record straight and say, hey, these laws that you're talking about were signed into law, prior to me even being governor. So, that's his job, is to set the record straight.

BLACKWELL: Of course, tone matters here. Mark, finish it up.

HILL: Yes. I was going to say, every candidate has inaccurate claims made about their record and they correct them. Chris Christie somehow manages to look like a bully when he does it.

He had every right to correct people on his gun record. I don't think he's being completely honest about his stance on guns. But he has done it in a way that doesn't reinforce the narrative about him, which is that he's a bully, that he's vindictive, that he's mean-spirited. Post bridge-gate, we need a warmer and fuzzier Chris Christie, if he wants to just make it into the top ten but ultimately make into a competitive race here.

BLACKWELL: Well, Chris Christie said he will say things that will make his supporters cringe. And again, he's a tell-it-like-it-is candidate. And I guess that's what he did in Iowa.

Marc Lamont Hill and Lisa Boothe, thank you both.

HILL: Pleasure.

BOOTHE: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Also, coming up later this morning on CNN, we'll have new insight into the race for 2016. New CNN polling out from both the Republican and Democratic presidential races. It starts with "INSIDE POLITICS" at 8:30, right here on CNN.

PAUL: Meanwhile, candlelight vigils are scheduled for tonight, for the victims of the Louisiana theater shooting. Remembrances coming, of course, as some of those shot are still in the hospital. We have the latest and a live report for you.

Plus, look at the plumes of black smoke here. Yep. That the looming over Las Vegas. We'll tell you what happened.


[07:17:27] PAUL: Seventeen minutes past the hour.

As of this morning, three victims of the Lafayette theater shooting are still in the hospital. And we know that one is in serious condition.

This comes, of course, as Mayci Breaux's family is preparing to lay the 21-year-old to rest. She was one of the two victims killed in that attack. She was at the theater with a boyfriend, in fact, and planned on beginning radiology school in just a few days. So, a very tough day for her family.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is live in Lafayette with the very latest.

Ryan, good morning to you. And what have you learned this morning?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christi, good morning to you. Yes, the focus here today in Lafayette is on the recovery. They've had a couple of days to absorb the awful tragedy that happened here at the theater behind me. And the focus now is on the victims and mourning the lives lost.

As you mentioned, three people still in the hospital. One of those victims still in serious condition. There are two other victims in good condition, and the feeling is that all three of these patients are improving, which is bringing some relief to the folks here in Lafayette.

And as I mentioned, that recovery process is under way. When you drive around town, now, you see the #lafayettestrong, outside many of the businesses in this community, as they come together to remember the lives lost.

Downtown, Jillian Johnson, who ran a boutique called Red Arrow, that's become a memorial. People living flowers and notes in her memory.

You mentioned, Mayci Breaux's funeral, which is scheduled to take place on Monday, that's in Franklin, which is north -- east of her, near the Mississippi border. Her visitation will actually take place today.

Jillian Johnson will also be laid to rest on Monday. That will happen here in Lafayette.

But already, there have been many candlelight vigils and prayer services throughout this community. In fact, many of the churches in this town, staying open around the clock for people that want to come and pray and mourn the victims lost. There's also a local art center that is organizing an interactive art display in honor of the victims.

So, many different ways that the people in this community are coming together. And there's a hope that they can get back to some sort of normalcy. A corporal with the Lafayette Police Department told me the goal is to wrap up the investigation here at the grand theater by sometime tomorrow.

They want people to head back to the movies, to get back to their normal lives. So, this community can come back together and get back on track as soon as possible. The tentative date is Monday. But that depends on the progress of the investigation Christi.

PAUL: Today, sure.

[07:20:00]OK. Ryan nobles, we appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Another shark attack. But this one, not off the Carolina coast. The a diver Down Under's deadline encounter with the shark that happened right in front of his daughter.

Plus, fans of the worst team in baseball, well, they have a reason to cheer now. A pitcher throws his way into the history books. That's next.


BLACKWELL: Time, now, 23 minutes after the hour.

Investigators are trying to figure out what caused a raging fire that broke out at the five-star Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas.

PAUL: Here's what we know. It engulfed the 14th floor pool deck. Look at this. Thick smoke billowing out into the Vegas strip there. Two people did suffer smoke inhalation. The hotel was evacuated. The firefighters put the flames out.

BLACKWELL: Next door to California, northern California to be specific, a wildfire threatening hundreds of homes there. This is Nevada county. About 45 minutes northeast of Sacramento. Officials say the fire is moving very quickly, 4,000 acres have now gone up in smoke.

The blaze is in a rugged area. Fire engines can't really reach them. So, crews are being airlifted over that area to drop off water and retardant. Some have to walk to the fire.

PAUL: Listen to this -- a diver has died after being attacked by a shark in front of his daughter off the coast of Australia. The pair apparently collecting scallops when the attack happened. It's not known what type of shark is responsible for this, but police are setting up patrol boats through that area and then warning people to stay out of the water.

[07:25:01] BLACKWELL: Even teams having a tough time have a good day every once in a while, and this was a day for the Philadelphia Phillies. Pitcher Cole Hamels pitched a no-hitter yesterday against the Chicago Cubs, struck out 13, leading the Phillies to a 5-0 victory, also the first time a no-hitter against the Cubs pitched by a Phillies pitcher, in 50 years.

PAUL: Nice to have something -- find that little glimmer, that little good news there. It's all we need. Turkey is taking major strides in the war on ISIS. New terrorists,

new air strikes. Is their renewed action against the militants working? We have a live report for you coming up.



OBAMA: That goes without saying. I love you back. I do.


BLACKWELL: The president getting and giving back some love in Kenya this morning. He spoke to hundreds there at a Nairobi sports arena. He addressed corruption. Later this morning, he will leave Kenya and head to Ethiopia before returning home to the U.S. on Tuesday.

The Senate is planning a rare Sunday session. Lawmakers are set to debate a highway funding bill with the weak to go until the program expires. Now, this session comes after Senator Ted Cruz accused Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of, in his words, flat out lying.

Cruz's tirade on the floor there was triggered when he believed that McConnell had blocked several amendments that Cruz and other Republicans wanted attached to a highway funding bill.

[07:30:02] PAUL: Now, there's new violence in southern Turkey. This morning, a car bomb exploded, killing two Turkish security officers. The attack happened in a southern province right near the border with Syria. And four people were wounded, we understand.

CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon joining us now from Istanbul.

So, Arwa, I know this is coming obviously as Turkey stepped up its air strikes against Kurdish militants in Iraq against ISIS in Syria. Do authorities believe this car bombing is connected to that?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's connected to one of those bombing campaigns, carried out by the Turkish air force, not as a bombing campaign that was happening in northern Iraq, against the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK that Turkey categorizes as a terrorist organization against whom for around the last decade or so, they have been launching something of a low- level war. The PKK, very much considered to be an insurgent organization by the Turks.

However, in 2013, there was a somewhat shaky cease-fire put into place. Yesterday, the PKK declaring that cease-fire effectively dead, and then less than 24 hours later, to have that ambush that took place against Turkish troops. So, it seems at this stage, that those two things are linked.

When it comes to Turkey's bombing campaign against ISIS targets in Syria, this is a new step for the Turks at this stage. They have been fairly reluctant to get directly involved in the fighting in Syria. But following the suicide bombing attack that took place this past Monday, they killed at least 32 people. The Turks it seems are taking a much more active role when it comes to going directly after ISIS targets in Syria. Doing all of this, they say under the umbrella of protecting the Turkish nation.

Also, launching over the last few days, wide scale operations, within Turkey's own borders, detaining around 600 individuals believed to be linked to both the PKK and is. But a lot of people at this stage, very worried about more retaliatory strikes taking place, whether it's strikes carried out by the PKK against the security forces or, perhaps, even other targets. And other strikes potentially carried out by ISIS or ISIS sympathizers, Christi.

PAUL: All right. Arwa Damon, we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Let's bring in CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd. He was a counterterrorism official with the CIA.

So, Philip, I want to jump off of something she just said, that they are worried, folks there, concerned about more retaliation. Certainly, when you establish and go into a bombing or on air strike situation, as Turkey has done, you expect some sort of retaliation, do you not, and prepare for it?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think that's right. I think you'll see more in the coming weeks. The Turks have decided they want to participate after a lot of negotiations with Americans on strikes on the Islamic State in Syria. But what we're going after the umbrella is obviously, as Arwa said, going after Turkish targets. There's been uneasy truce since about 2013.

But when they started hitting the targets with air strikes in the past couple days, I think it's inevitable that the PKK, the Kurdish Workers' Party, was going to do, what we thought over the past days, which is to start retaliatory car bombings and other kinds of strikes.

PAUL: So, you know, just the other day, we had FBI Director James Comey saying that ISIS is a bigger threat than al Qaeda to the U.S. In Turkey, the PKK or ISIS? Is either one the bigger threat than the other?

MUDD: I think the Turks would view the PKK as a bigger threat and a growing threat for one simple reason, the instability in Syria, the instability in Iraq, both of which have significant Turkish populations, give those Turkish populations a chance to build up their own identity, to build up their own geographic space in the midst of this instability. And I think the Turks are worried that their own Turkish population sees this as an opportunity to sort of rise up.

So, I think there's been a big I.S. problem. There was a big al Qaeda problem in Turkey. But in terms of the Turkish identity and the concerns that there will be overtime a separate Kurdish enclave in Iraq and Syria and potentially in Turkey, I think the Turkish government would view that as a bigger problem.

PAUL: OK, getting back to the U.S. here. As we talk about the threat of ISIS, how concerned are government security organizations about cyber attacks from ISIS? And are they prepared for them here in the U.S.?

MUDD: Compared to what we see from the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, et cetera, the concerns about I.S. would be relatively modest, maybe even insignificant. There is an I.S., Islamic State, sort of effort to build up a cyber capability.

My concern would be not that ISIS comes after U.S. systems, but that someone self-recruits. I've seen this in the past. In other words, someone with the technical capability within the U.S. government or private sector raise their hand to ISIS and says, I have access to this kind of cyber target, do you want me to do something for you?

[07:35:04] So, I don't think ISIS has the capability, highly sort of sophisticated capability. But I worry about self-recruitment.

PAUL: Sure, sure. Very good point.

Philip Mudd, always good to have you here. Thank you.

MUDD: Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you, sir.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: A new identity and now, a new show. Caitlyn Jenner debuting on reality TV. How is the Olympic gold medalist adjusting to her new life. And what could we see? That conversation is next.

Also, the new poll says that the pope's popularity, we've got a new one, has dropped in the U.S. But are the views on capitalism and the climate contributing to this drop in numbers? Is it causing a divide among some Catholics?


BLACKWELL: Ahead of his first trip to the U.S., Pope Francis' approval ratings are dropping. A new Gallup poll shows that the pontiff's favorability among all Americans has dropped from 76 percent last year to 59 percent. And the drop-off has been especially sharp among conservatives.

These follow comments in recent weeks by the pope, where he has spoke out on economic justice, climate change and other issues, as well.

Let's talk about them with CNN religion commentator, Father Edward Beck.

Good to have you back.

So, some analysts say, they're calling Francis fatigue. It's displacing the Francis effect. He started off so high. What's your response to that?

[07:40:00] FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: Well, my first response is, Victor, that it's really not a popularity contest for him. I mean, it's not exactly an election that he sought, that he wanted. He's not looking to be reelected.

And so, I don't think that these polls matter certainly to him or to the Vatican. Having said that, you're going to start off high with a lot of popularity, and then, when you start to make decisions or some would say not make decisions, those polls are going to be impacted.

So, conservatives are kind of angry at him because of his views on capitalism, the environment, immigration. Liberals are saying, why isn't he saying more about same-sex marriage, married priests, women priests? And so, you're kind of damned if you do, damned if you don't -- if you can talk about being damned with the pope at all.

BLACKWELL: So, let me talk to you about something from an analyst, and active Catholic, Edward Morrissey. Here it is.

He said, "I'm not sure it's great idea for the pope to be involving himself in microeconomics, and the same with climate change. I think some of this is going outside the normal paradigm. But John Paul was very involved in geopolitics and conservatives loved that."

So, I wonder, why do you believe, if you have an opinion here, that conservatives are having such a hard time and such a black lash now?

BECK: I think because this pope has been so very outspoken about the economy and how the environmental issues are impacting the poor and the economic structure of the world. He's taken it further than John Paul II took it.

So, when he talks about equal distribution of wealth, conservatives get very nervous because it sounds to them like Marxism on communism, whereas from Pope Francis' perspective, he's simply preaching the gospel. He's talking about fair distribution as the gospel would talk about and as Jesus talked about it.

So, I think they get a little nervous because he seems to take the ball a little bit further.

BLACKWELL: You expect he will confront leaders here when he comes in the fall on some of these issues? I mean, they will be part of his public comments. But will there be direct confrontation is the best way to put it?

BECK: Well, confrontation in the sense that they will be sitting there, listening to what he is saying. And if you remember, all of the pictures we have seen about Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals, sitting there, listening to speeches. They applaud or they don't. They smile or they don't.

I don't know how they're going to sit there and not applaud the pope. Not smile. They're not going to be in agreement with everything he says, because he's not going to temper for their likes. Remember, again, it's not a popularity contest for him.

So, I think, in some ways, yes, if they are, he's going to ruffle some feathers by what he says. They're not going to like it.

But even John Boehner, if you heard his comments recently. He's Catholic, of course. But he loves this pope. But a lot of what the pope says is not in line of what John Boehner says or thinks.

So, how will John Boehner react with the pope right there and the pope says stuff that John Boehner would say, I don't agree with that at all? Is he going to smile through it? Is he going to frown? It will be interesting to see those reactions, I think.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we've seen some interesting reactions from the 2016 candidates, to some of the comments made by the pope. But as you said, he's not gearing up for a re-election campaign. This is -- this is the position. And he believes what he believes.

Father Edward Beck, thank you so much.

BECK: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: And, of course, to you at home, we'd love to hear what you think about this. Hit us up on Facebook or Twitter. Has the pope's popularity decline, from your view, your perspective and why? Or has it increased?

PAUL: Well, a new reality show debuting tonight, Caitlyn Jenner, giving the world an inside look into her journey. What we can expect.

Also, Adrian Peterson returning to the Vikings, nearly nine months after being suspended on child injury charges. We're going to see the reception that the team's fans gave him.

Stay close.


[07:47:49] PAUL: You know, last month, the public reveal of Caitlyn Jenner, just had everybody talking obviously. Tonight, in what is sure to be a social media and ratings juggernaut, the cable channel E! premieres the much-anticipated reality show about her journey, "I Am Cait".


CAITLYN JENNER, "I AM CAIT": It's like 4:32 in the morning. And I can't sleep.

I look in the monitor, I look like crap. Anyway, I feel bad that these, especially young people, are going through such a difficult time in their life. We don't people dying over this. We don't want people murdered over this stuff.

What responsibility I have towards this community? Am I going to do everything right? Am I going to say the right things? Do I project the right image? Am I just spinning with thoughts? I just hope I get it right.


PAUL: CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter joining us now.

So, you know, Brian, there's been critics about this, that lead up to it -- and we see it there -- putting a lot of pressure on him and on the network to get these ratings. You have the ABC interview, the "Vanity Fair" cover, the ESPY Awards, the television show.

What are the thoughts that he -- she has into, you know, this first show?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA you described it as a series of public events. And it was carefully, you know, calculated, carefully choreographed. There's no shying away from that fact.

Before Caitlyn Jenner, back at the time, Bruce Jenner, even spoke to Diane Sawyer, there were discussions about this reality show, which will premiere tonight.

So, if you think about that interview, that, you know, big worldwide interview, they got 17 million viewers back in April, that was the beginning for Caitlyn Jenner. This is the end of her public announcement, so to speak, you know, sharing her story with the world.

This reality show, in some ways, is the climax of months of conversation and months of debate. And you're right. It has been controversial because whenever you see something that's carefully orchestrated like this, people sometimes roll their eyes at it and think, you know, she's profiting off of this, it seems all too perfect.

[07:50:05] But I have to say, if you put yourself into her shoes, you'd probably do something similar. If you probably want to roll out as carefully, knowing that, you know, you're going to become the most famous transgender person in the world. You'd want to roll it out carefully. You'd want to do it on your own terms. You'd want to control your own story -- and that's essentially what she's doing.

PAUL: And she is doing that, because she is executive producer of the show, as well.


PAUL: So, she has a lot of creative control over that. And it seems like, does it not -- and help me understand this -- that she genuinely is concerned about young people who are going through this same process and do not have the resources she had.

STELTER: Yes, that's certainly what we heard from her ESPY speech where she talked about transgender youth who have a very hard time sometimes through bullying and other things.

You know, E! is a channel known for "Keeping Up With the Kardashians", Bruce Jenner years ago and even recently within "Keeping Up With the Kardashians". So E! has tried to say this is not going to be your typical reality show. Caitlyn Jenner identifying for the first time, talking about her

experience, is not going to be spectacle.

Here's what the head of programming at E! said, Jeff Olde. He's openly gay and said he feels a real responsibility to tell Caitlyn's story. He said, "This is so far beyond television on a very personal level. If I get one thing right in my professional career, it will be this."

I think what we hear in that quote is E!, the executives of the channel knowing that they've got to do this right, not make it seem like some tabloid reality show but be respectful, and try to help the transgender community through this show.

PAUL: Yes, it's going to be interesting.

So today on "RELIABLE SOURCES", Brian, I understand you've got quite a big guest talking Donald Trump.

STELTER: Yes. You know, Sean Spicer is the chief strategist for the Republican National Committee. He hasn't done any interviews ever since Donald Trump announced for president. Obviously, Trump has changed this entire race. So, we'll be talking to Sean Spicer about that.

I think the message is he wants the candidates to stop attacking each other. That's all we're hearing in the GOP, the candidates going after Trump, Trump insulting other candidates. So, we'll hear from him later this morning.

PAUL: All right. Looking forward to it.

Brian Stelter, good to see you this morning.

STELTER: Thank you. You too.

PAUL: Sure.

And don't forget to catch "RELIABLE SOURCES" with Brian today at 11:00 a.m. right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: NFL star Adrian Peterson back with his team nine months after being suspended. But now that he's back with the team, use the hashtag #NewDayCNN on Facebook and twitter and your answer to this question: should sports fans forgive and forget when sports stars mess up? We want to hear your answers.

Also at the top of the hour, we're covering this rare Sunday session for the Senate. It's a vote on a transportation bill but it's really the fight over an amendment that's causing so much controversy.


[07:56:16] BLACKWELL: All right. Coming up on the top of the hour now, take a look at stories making headlines now. Let's go to Illinois first where hundreds of people attended the funeral of Sandra Bland. Community members remember her as a courageous fighter for social justice.

PAUL: Bland was arrested July 10th in Texas after a traffic stop and found dead in her jail cell three days later.

BLACKWELL: In Massachusetts, a candle light vigil was held for the 4- year-old girl whose body was found wrapped in a trash bag a month ago. No one seems to know her name. Investigators are still trying to identify. She's being called "Baby Doe", and asking anyone with information to come forward. Worcester funeral director is offering to pay for her burial.

PAUL: NFL player Adrian Peterson is back with the team and look at the reception he got from fans -- cheering him on. This was yesterday at training camp. There was some question about how he'd be received, though, because he missed 15 games last year after being indicted on child injury charges. After that, there was a contract dispute, which was resolved just a few days ago.

BLACKWELL: So last hour we asked, should fans forgive and of course forget, hard to forget, that's the hard part, star athletes when they mess up?

PAUL: Oh, it's easy to forgive them, though, if they're playing well.

BLACKWELL: Yes, yes.

PAUL: Coy, do you think?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: Some people resonated that sentiment.

You know, we have a lot of great insight from our viewers. A lot of people don't seem comfortable with living in a world where celebrity and status seem to trump morals, ethics, and sometimes just good old commonsense.

So, here we had Adrian Peterson who hit his son with a switch. That made many people highly upset. Peterson was originally charged with felony child abuse, but later charges were reduced to misdemeanor reckless assault and plea deal. He missed some time.

But now, he's being welcomed back, making millions, where many people would be fired from their jobs, never able to return. You know, we see this all the time in sports with star athletes, who made bad decisions but because they can really play, they can stay. That's what many people are unhappy about.

There seems to be a double standard for stars when it comes to wrongdoing and you let us know exactly how you feel about this on Twitter and Facebook.

Let's check some of your responses.

Melanie said, "I am completely disgusted with how players can commit crimes and provide horrible examples to children. I no longer watch."

Asterisk said, "I think he will be fine", talking of Peterson. "People do tend to forgive it all depends on his future behavior with his family."

Dave said, "Why? No one forgives my bad decisions."

Mother2 said, "We have no business judging people's personal lives. As a nation, we need to learn how to mind our business."

And Karl, finally said, "Players get away with it as long as there isn't video proof. Greg Hardy would be in jail if there was video of his crime."

So, really debatable topic here. A lot of people chiming in with some great insight.

Thank you so much as always. We see this all the time with entertainers. You know, Chris Brown in music world, Hulk Hogan making horrible decisions. But will someone give him a TV deal, welcome him back?

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you from a players' perspective, does the rest of the team forgive a player who is a star on the team?

WIRE: You know, I think publicly they do, Victor, it's a great question. But I think 95 percent of the guys in that locker room are good, kind, caring men, and they don't like it. They don't like it at all.

So I think it's something that's not often seen or heard because not many people are in the locker room. But publicly, they do the right thing. It's all about the team. It's the protocol, standard message that you have to give for the betterment of the team.

PAUL: But behind the scenes are there ever words?

WIRE: Absolutely.

PAUL: Between players?

WIRE: Oh, absolutely. There are people -- again, those good, kind caring men who know what's right, do what's right, they stand up.

And, you know, I know as a former team captain I would say, hey, listen, let's have a talk. You try to be there. That happens a lot. I think that gets overlooked too often in sports when we hear about all the negatives. There is a lot of positive that's at least trying to be done, tried to be done in locker rooms.