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Papal Visit: Pope to Celebrate Mass in Havana; Kasich Responds to Trump Controvers. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 20, 2015 - 08:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Several big stories this morning starting with this, live pictures here Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba. The faithful, and as we heard, the hopeful there, tens of thousands packing into the square awaiting a Sunday mass celebration by Pope Francis.

[08:00:06] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: These Cubans are hoping the pontiff can usher in this new revolution here, opening the country up to the rest of the world. And something we take for granted.

We're talking about Wi-Fi. The first time some of these kids, the pope will meet with a little bit later, will have access to free Wi- Fi. It's going to be a big moment. Chris Cuomo will talk about that in a moment.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the pope will have to talk to the Castros to make that happen, the meeting of the minds. That could happen later today. Not just with, as you see there, President Raul Castro, possibly with former President Fidel Castro.

PAUL: Good morning. We want to wish you good morning. Thank you so much for spending part of your time with us here, not just in the United States, but also around the world. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to have you.

Let's go live to Havana and our Chris Cuomo there.

And, Chris, you know, the crowds were there overnight and continue to pack in as we're one hour away from the start.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: They have been here all night long. They started filing in at 3:00 in the morning, people traveling hundreds of miles. As you'll see the crowd continues to grow and spread out. People are waiving their Cuban flags, their Vatican flags, the yellow and white flag out of respect for the pope being here.

This is a big country. Every other country in the Caribbean could fit inside Cuba, so this is about showing their representation of Catholics but the hopeful. It's more meaningful, if you look at it, under an image of Jesus, probably for the first time in revolution square. It's ringed by the revolutionary icons here. To have Jesus here is a first and powerful. The mass will begin at 9:00. It will go about an hour and a half.

It's a full mass. You can hear them testing the sound system. And there are members of the clergy who are coming forward and giving messages of hope that Catholicism offers about mercy and god doesn't judge who you are.

There are two other big events today. A meeting with government officials at 4:00. Is that when the pope meets with Fidel Castro? Yesterday he passed on considers and respect to Raul Castro for his brother Fidel. Is that when they meet? If so, what will the meeting will be about in how will it transmit to the people? The pope is here to meet the people. At 6:30 a big deal.

Two thousand kids get to meet with the pope. Just as important in their minds they get to have Wi-Fi. Here in Cuba the idea of being on the internet is a new idea. The access is spare and rare. For these kids to have Wi-Fi will be a big deal. They're being encouraged to put messages on social media about their experience in Cuba.

This is a big deal here. So you have people here if they're Catholic or not, they want change. It's coming, hopefully, for them in the form of a pope.

Now, we had people on the plane with a pope, which is a treat. Rosa Flores joins us now.

You were giddy yesterday! You should have been paying CNN to do this job.


CUOMO: We have a great beautiful photo of you. Tell us about your experience. What happened?

FLORES: You know, Chris, it was about 45 second of my life, but I feel I will remember the 45 seconds for the rest of my life! Pretty much the pope goes back to the back of the plane and he reads every single journalist. He takes time with every one individually. Spanish is my native language. We started speaking in Spanish and -- Spanish and he said you have to give the holy father a hug for me. I didn't dare hug the Holy Father, Chris. I told him the story and as soon as he heard the name of the priest he goes -- and he tells the story.

Two days before the conclave he dares to ask me if I'm calm if I'm calm and if I'm okay. Everyone on the plane starts laughing. Everybody starts smiling. Then I had a small token of appreciation for him. A little prayer of our lady of Guadeloupe. As soon as he sees the card he starts kissing it. Everybody around us thinking, oh, wow! There was so much emotion in him. I almost went speechless and I asked him for his blessing. That's the photograph.

CUOMO: That's him a real genuine enthusiasm for being with the media.

FLORES: Very much so. I think that what you see is what you get. And everything I've been reading about in English and Spanish we're just learning about him, I think, the world is just learning about him.

[08:05:09] But that's who he is. That's the man he's always been. I think that now we're just getting to know more about him because he's the pope.

CUOMO: That's why we're doing the documentary. We went to Buenos Aires, to Flores, where he grew up to show how he's been consistent in his humility and how it translated to who he is as a priest, as a bishop, as a cardinal, and now a pope.

So, Rosa, stay with me. Let's go to Ed though because -- you know, Ed, what Rosa is tapping into, is this pope wants to project that he's not special. He's here for regular people and the regular needs they have.

What are you finding in the crowd about why people are here today and what they want from this pope?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think that message resonates very strongly here with a lot of people, and they're hoping this visit, we talked to several people who mentioned this morning, they hope the visit really brings people together. Obviously, here on this island that viewed very much in the context of the relationship -- the political relationship between Cuba and the United States. But carrying on with your conversation about Pope Francis.

One of the symbols of just how -- he's become in many ways even though he's still the pope is the Popemobile. Very different from the vehicles that we've seen here. I want to give you this vantage point. We're on the edge of the plaza here. This is a roadway in a few moments pope Francis will come by and start greeting the crowd. You see, it's all cordoned off.

This is a massive crowd here in the plaza of the revolution cordoned off inside here. The pope will drive around and see everyone and at some point start to make the way through here. You can't see it from here, but out there in the middle there's a road where the pope will drive through and really get into the masses there. Because navigating your way, Chris, through this crowd is absolutely impossible at this point. People here started showing up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning to be here. And the fact of the matter is many people in the crowd won't get a clear view of this pope. But they will be able to hear him -- Chris.

CUOMO: They got in here easier than we did, Ed, but that's a story for another time. The media access in this place is a story for another time. I'll come back to you. Let me know who you meet in the crowd.

Let's bring in John Allen and Patrick Oppmann. John Allen covers the Vatican for us. He understands Bergoglio and what the mission of the Vatican right now is.

Patrick Oppmann is our man in Havana. He's the only American TV journalist in Cuba. He lives here. His wife is from her. His kids are here. So, let's start with the idea of the purpose for the Vatican. People

are standing up behind us now because they have been told that the Popemobile is going to be coming around. So, if we see, we'll stop and show you the picture. So in terms behalf he hopes to accomplish, beyond the religious, beyond just the spiritual.

What do you know?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: First of all, remember this was originally just for the United States and Pope Francis decided to add the stop to Cuba, first. It's a message to Cubans complimenting them on the gradual opening to the world he talked about yesterday but the message of Americans. It's a way of saying don't forget about one of the key words which is the peripheries. I know that's kind of a fancy word for Americans, but it means the margins.

This is very much a pope for whom marginalized people in his heart. I think he wanted to come here to tell the Cubans he's with them but to remind the Americans they have a bigger responsibility than just themselves.

CUOMO: He came here first.

ALLEN: Absolutely.

CUOMO: There's something not to subtle in that message, either.

So, Patrick, in terms of what is wanted here take a look quickly on the screen the Popemobile is approaching. It's not up on us yet. He's coming down the avenue on the way. As he gets closer we'll see him and the crowd can resonate with the anticipation.

But, Patrick, in term was what they feel the pope can mean to them, the validation but also the hope of something better, how real is it for them?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Cubans really -- I think given up hope in a lot of ways. When U.S. and Cuban relations there was a breakthrough and I saw people crying in the streets. I saw people who had lost hope having hope.

And look at the pope when he met with rule Castro, he said, I'm going to go back to prayer and Raul Castro he has a dry sense of humor and he said I'm not joking. I asked the cardinal about that and he said there's no proof that Raul Castro come back to the church. He said in Raul Castro's office he has a copy of the Cuban's famous black Madonna. He's not closed to religion but, you know, word of caution there. He's comments he made in Rome at the Vatican that were printed around the world, Chris, except for in Cuba.

Castro was censored by the state-run press. What does that tell you?

[08:10:01] CUOMO: Communication here is not a given. That's why people getting Wi-Fi today is a big deal. John, Patrick, thank you very much.

Let's continue to watch procession as it gets closer. Christi and Victor, back to you. We'll let you know when the mood changes here.

PAUL: All right. I'm sure it will only amplify what you're seeing already. Again, as Chris said, live pictures there of the pope in his Popemobile making his way to the massive crowd that is waiting for him. And the communion for the kids, five children will receive communion from the pope.

Can you imagine what that experience will be like? We'll have more from Cuba all morning.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about politics for a moment. New CNN poll out this morning in less than an hour, the first since the big CNN Republican debate last week. What experts expect after some strong and let's say not so strong debate performances.


PAUL: And you along with us are witnessing history here. There are live pictures of Pope Francis in his Popemobile as he makes his way through massive crowds that are gathering to hear him speak at mass at Revolution Square.

[08:15:02] And what one of the things that will be interesting to see are five children who will receive communion from the pope. You see all the flags and hear the cheers. Some of these people have been there in the square for five hours now just waiting for the moment. He's scheduled to speak in about 45 minutes. We'll continue to bring this to you throughout the morning. We again, you can see how he waives to the fans and so personable and speaking, of course, in Spanish helps to connect him personally with this crowd.

BLACKWELL: The history here. You have the first Latin America pope, pope from Latin America coming to Cuba, former Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina really embraced here. As we heard from Patrick not just a statement read in another language or Spanish with a heavy accent to the hundreds of thousands of people here, but this is a man who obviously from Argentina speaks fluent Spanish and will deliver the homily in Spanish today.

The last pope there 2012 you had the previous pope Benedict XVI delivering it in another language. 1998 you had now Saint John Paul II there.

But I want to go to Chris Cuomo. Again, we're looking at pictures and we can imagine the feeling. New day anchor is there. Chris, give us a sense of feeling.

CUOMO: Oh, this is history. I mean, you hear it, they're chanting in unison. The people are coming up, kids are being brought to him to be kissed. This is history, and the meaning for the people goes far beyond faith and religion to faith.

Patrick Oppmann is with us.

You live here. You know these people. It has more than just religious significance today. Even what they're singing right now. OPPMANN: Absolutely. We're hearing salsa, conga, it's going to be a very Cuban mass. 1998 I was here covering that people were afraid to come out. They didn't know if they could come out. People are walking up in celebration. It's a different day here.

CUOMO: Very often, John Allen, the pope is created by solemnity. This pope does not want that. He picked the praise "missionary of mercy" he wants to be common and he wants them to feel as if he's one of them.

ALLEN: Yes, that's right. I mean, listen yes. Every mass I covered is one part worship service and one part high school pep rally. People are excited when the pope comes out. In some ways, it's easy to get jaded when you see the images of the masses showing up to greet the pope. Him kissing babies to the Popemobile. You could think it as a hallow PR gesture until you stand in a crowd like this. And you realize what this means to these people.

This missionary of mercy whose lives have not been distinguished by mercy.

CUOMO: Very often the idea of mercy, rather, is theoretical. Not for the people here. It's their reality. They need this. There's a desperation. They hope the man in the white in front of you will make their lives better inside and out.

PAUL: That picture we saw of him holding that child's face in his hands, that's a moment. Look at this. He loves children. It is so evident. You can imagine what that moment is for those families. So thank you so much for bringing this to us. Because what a day it is. And you can almost feel it a little bit through the screen.

BLACKWELL: An important time for Cuba, the first Catholic Church being approved, since the beginning of the Cuban Revolution and now, Pope Francis comes to deliver and celebrate mass there.

Big day there 40 minutes from the start of the celebration of mass. Also 40 minutes from the release of big numbers in the race for the GOP nomination for president. At the top of the hour CNN will release the newest presidential polls, the first since last week's presidential debate.

And fresh off the moderator duties, Jake Tapper joins us now with a look ahead at "STATE OF THE UNION" at 9:00. You got some numbers and you've got some big interviews coming up.

JAKE TAPPER, STATE OF THE UNION: We do. I wish I could tell you the numbers but they're embargoed until 9:00 a.m. But I will tell you, there's big movement. Some candidates down. Some candidates up. A lot of people watched the debates and clearly the candidates' performances had an impact.

We have coming up on "STATE OF THE UNION" interviews with Donald Trump, the frontrunner, John Kasich, and of course, Chris Christie as well.

[08:20:05] So, those three will be reacting to the poll and talking about issues of importance to them.

I do want to touch on a moment I had. Because I did the Kasich interview -- obviously, Donald Trump getting a lot of criticism, especially from Democrats and people in the media about his response to the gentleman at a town hall, a gentleman who seemed to be exuding bigotry talking falsely Obama a Muslim and in an offensive way about Muslims being a problem. I asked how John Kasich would react to the same question. Take a listen.


TAPPER: If you were at a town hall meeting and somebody stood up and made comments that seemed to suggest that President Obama is a Muslim, even though he is not, and there is something wrong with Muslims in general. How do you think you would react?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I would react, Jake, I ran for re-election and I don't even know I uttered the words -- the name Barack Obama and you don't hear me say much about it. I don't agree with him, but I don't believe those things. If somebody said that, I would correct them immediately and, frankly, it's the president is an American.

I believe the president is a Christian, and enough of that. I just don't like that kind of rhetoric. So I may not agree with the president on many issues, but I sure respect the office and, you know, I respect the man even though I don't agree with him so much of the time.


TAPPER: So, some pretty contrasts being made there by John Kasich when it comes to Donald Trump's reaction to that same man. We'll talk to Donald Trump about that as well as to the poll numbers, all coming up on "STATE OF THE UNION."

BLACKWELL: Looking forward to it, Jake. The new numbers coming at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

PAUL: From political to the entertainment. Photographers will stalk the red carpet tonight at the 67th prime time Emmy awards. Many fans are wondering if Amazon and Netflix will take their place at the throne. And we'll see if John Hamm takes home a best actor. Here is a new rule no selfie sticks. None. Deadline Hollywood reporting the devices have been banned for safety reasons.

Now I want to give you new pictures live in Havana as the pontiff in his Popemobile works his way through the crowd there. There's an energy among these people in Cuba that they have most likely many never felt before. We're taking you back to Havana. Stay close.


[08:27:27] PAUL: You see there the pope as he's getting out of the Popemobile and now walking through the crowd there in Havana that have come out to see him. I'm telling you, Chris Cuomo is there and, Chris, I cannot imagine the

energy you're feeling now.

BLACKWELL: We saw there just for a moment President Raul Castro, who has expressed after the meeting in may a fondness for this pope. If you can't see what is happening here and wonder where we're focused on this part of the crowd. Pope Francis has gotten out of the Popemobile and is walking through the crowd. This is something we've seen in his travels when he was in south America. He would go through crowds and meet people. Recently went and left Vatican City and went to town to get glasses.

We're calling him the people's pope. We're not the first to call him that. This is an important moment for Latin America and this pope. I think we have a better shot of him now. He's coming out to meet people and kiss babies. Looks like he's back on the Popemobile and will travel toward the altar there as the mass scheduled to begin in about 30 minutes.

PAUL: You can see -- I have to wonder, we talk a lot about security and we'll be talking about it a lot as well when he makes his way on Tuesday to the U.S., but you have to think this has got to scare on some levels his security team when he get out of the Popemobile and walks into the crowd. As victor said and we have been saying all morning, and you know, this is a pope who wants to be seen as common.

He wants to be seen as someone -- look at him there we've seen a lot of him kissing children. Holding children's faces in his hands as he makes his way through the crowd. These people are exuberant. Some have been there for five and a half hours already this morning to make sure they had a space in that area to meet with him or to see him.

And the pope says, you know, this trip isn't just about religious freedom. This breaks the parameters, he's hoping. He's hoping it will not be just about worshipping freely but inspiring acts of charity, about opening school, about much more freedom that could come to the people in Cuba. There we have president Raul Castro, and we know he's expected to meet with Fidel Castro as well before the end of the day.

BLACKWELL: It's a possibility the Vatican says, if it happens it will happen today. We'll get you as much as we can.

Thank you for starting your day with us.

PAUL: Appreciate it so much for our United States viewers. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.