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Obama Delivers Commencement Speech at Notre Dame University; Missing California Three Year Old Found Bordering Mexico; Efforts Continue as Astronauts Attempt to Repair Hubble Telescope

Aired May 17, 2009 - 16:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: President Barack Obama on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. He's still there after just moments ago carrying out his commencement address there. All the while, you see him there on the (INAUDIBLE) there before they wrapped thing ups with the closing remarks. All the while even during his commencement speech and even before, anti-abortion activists did turn out in force to protest the president's appearance at the mostly Catholic school. You see right there in the (INAUDIBLE) at least one person who heckles during the commencement address. And then he was escorted out by security.

They say the president's support for abortion rights flies in the face of the Catholic teachings. That was the point of view of many protesters there. Many of the protesters were especially upset about Notre Dame's decision to give the president an Honorary Doctor of Law degree. Well, he did receive it without any one contesting it openly. We did hear that the number of protesters wouldn't like the idea. However, the president of the university then justified that they -- that it was his belief that the president was, indeed, a man who was one who represented healing in keeping with the mantra of the university.

Although Mr. Obama is only the sixth president to speak at the Notre Dame commencement, he is the ninth to receive an honorary Notre Dame degree. President Obama got a warm introduction from Notre Dame's president Reverend John Jenkins and an enthusiastic applause from the audience when he first arrived, but his applause was briefly interrupted by hecklers. He did not shy away from the abortion controversy. He hit it quite hard through most of his address.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS. But find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts.

Those who speak out against stem cell research. It may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life. But so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their sons or daughters hardships might be relieved.

The question then - the question then is how do we work through these conflicts. Is it possible for us to join hands in common efforts as citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy. How do we engage in vigorous debate? How do each of us remain firm in our principles and fight for what we consider right without, as Father John said demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side.

And, of course, nowhere do these questions come up more powerfully than on the issue of abortion. As I consider the controversy surrounding my visit here, I was reminded of an encounter I had during my Senate campaign. One that I described in a book I wrote called the "Audacity of Hope."

In a few days after the democratic nomination, I received an e- mail from a doctor who told me that while he voted for me in the Illinois primary, he had a serious concern that might prevent him from voting for me in the general election. He described himself as a Christian who was strongly pro-life but that was not what was preventing him potentially from voting for me. What bothered the doctor was an entry that my campaign staff had posted on my web site, an entry that said I would fight, "right wing ideologues who want to take away a woman's right to choose."

The doctor said he had assumed I was a reasonable person. He supported my policy initiatives to help the poor and to lift up our educational system. But that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable. He wrote, I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion. Only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words.


WHITFIELD: All right. So we have a number of guests who help analyze what was said by the president at Notre Dame. The Reverend James Martin is a Jesuit priest and associate editor of "America Magazine," a Catholic publication based in New York. And Raymond Arroyo is the news director of Eternal Word Television and a "New York Times" best-selling author. He is joining us from Washington. Also from Washington, CNN's senior political correspondent Bill Schneider. All right. Good to see all of you gentlemen.

OK. Well, the president did not in any way back down on his position on abortion, even though that was the lightning rod issue. However, he did underscore during his speech. He said, so let's work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies and making adoption more available and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Reverend, was this handled the way in which you were hoping?

REV. JAMES MARTIN, "AMERICA MAGAZINE": It was. You know, though some didn't want to honor President Obama. I think President Obama honored Notre Dame with that speech. He talked about reducing the number of abortions. The ways that you were discussing. He talked about finding common ground. He talked about dialogue. He even talked about being inspired by Catholic people with whom he worked. Cardinal Bernardin and Ted Hesburgh. I thought it was a beautiful speech and I think, you know, it shows us why we should respect and even sometimes honor those with whom we disagree. So I thought it was really a terrific speech.

WHITFIELD: And those last comments from the Reverend, Mr. Arroyo is something that we actually heard from the campus president. The university president said the same thing. That it's OK to differ and that is indeed what this institution is all about. And let's hear one another out. So were you pleased with what you heard from the president?

RAYMOND ARROYO, ETERNAL WORD TELEVISION: Well, look, Father John Jenkins and President Obama were kind of tied together on this issue. Father Jenkins as you said took a lot of heat. More than 80 bishops protested against this invite. Alumni withheld $13 million-plus over it. And it was never about President Obama. We have to separate this out.

WHITFIELD: It wasn't?


WHITFIELD: What's it about?

ARROYO: It was about honoring and violating and being in disobedience of the bishop's teaching that Catholic institutions should not be honoring pro-choice politicians or those who violate our moral fundamental principles. That's what this was about. So whether this was President Obama or someone else, since we're talking about President Obama, we just watched his speech.

My feeling on this is what we see is sort of a litany of elegant relativism. The president is trying to have this both ways. It's wonderful what he says about reducing the number of abortions. I think everybody can agree with that. But then his policies don't ever get us there. His policies are funding abortions abroad, abortions at home.

WHITFIELD: So his promise -

ARROYO: Just give me one second.

WHITFIELD: -- on that is not satisfactory to you when he says let's together reduce - because that is thinking forward. That is a commitment of this day forward. Let's work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing -


ARROYO: Well, how do we do that? Fredricka, how are we going to do that when every policy and every person in the administration has this very pro-choice bent? OK. But there was one bit of news that we all miss, the president there said we should have conscience clauses that allow health care workers to observe their consciences in these facilities. That is a big piece of news and will be a great comfort, I think to a lot of people upset today with what this whole honor at Notre Dame represented. But, you know, when you talk about stem cell research and say the person wanting to protect the embryo is just as - morally valid as someone who wants cures for their loved one, if he were being truly honest to the science, adult stem cell research that does not require the killing of the embryo is indeed providing those cures and yet more money is being used in this speculative, dangerous, morally illicit research.

WHITFIELD: Well we heard from the president who said it was important - he was touched by this mantra of touching hearts and minds. Is it your view, Reverend, that he, today, touched hearts and minds that perhaps he even changed any minds whether it be at the graduates or of their family members. Anyone in the audience who perhaps were reticent of the president's invitation. Do you suppose President Obama changed the minds of anyone today?

MARTIN: I think so. I mean, I think that he has been characterized so much as a "pro-abortion president." I don't think you can be a pro-abortion president and say you want to reduce the number of abortions. I mean, he couldn't have been clear about that. He could have been clear about the desire to reach out, you know in common ground to people with whom, you know, he sometimes disagrees. So I think he probably changed a lot of minds today. And I think that many Catholic leaders could take a page from his book in terms of how to talk to people with whom you occasionally disagree.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, let's hear from the president of the university who had this to say about the invitation he extended and really in part why he wouldn't rescind that invitation.


FR. JOHN JENKINS, NOTRE DAME PRESIDENT: As we all know, a great deal of attention has surrounded President Obama's visit to Notre Dame. We honor all people of good will who have come to this discussion respectfully and out of deeply held conviction. Most of the debate has centered on Notre Dame's decision to invite and honor the President. Less attention has been focused on the President's decision to accept.


WHITFIELD: All right. I want to bring in our Bill Schneider on this as well. He is joining us from Washington. This was probably a pretty comforting moment perhaps for the president of the United States. Maybe he expected, you know, the weight was really on his shoulders to convey a message. But the president of the university made a pretty powerful point there, too.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he did. He defended the decision of Notre Dame to honor the president. I was listening to what Mr. Arroyo said just a moment ago. There are really two different issues going on here. One has to do with the invitation of the president to speak at the university and the other is the invitation to bestow on him an honorary degree. A lot of the protesters had no particular problem with allowing the president to speak. This is free speech. He is the president but many of them were objecting to the fact that the university was giving him an honorary degree, choosing to honor someone who differs in a fundamental way with the church's teaching.

The Quinnipiac University did a poll of Catholics around the country and they found that only about one-third of Catholics, there you see, 34 percent, thought that the president should not speak at Notre Dame. 60 percent thought he should speak. Unfortunately, they didn't ask whether he should be honored by Notre Dame University, which is, I think, a more controversial issue.

WHITFIELD: Reverend, do you feel as though the president was making or trying to reach out specifically to Catholics or had he broadened out his message in your view to people regardless of what their religious affiliation was?

MARTIN: Well, I think he spoke in a way that, you know, all people could understand him. But he did use some specific Catholic terms. He talked about common ground. He talked about dialogue. Things that would resonate with Catholics. And he also once again spoke about two towering Catholic leaders of the 20th century, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin who talked about this consistent ethic of life that is not just one issue and Father Hesburgh, the former president of Notre Dame who worked with civil rights -

WHITFIELD: And how powerful a moment was that Father Hesburgh, really I think, he was pretty - he was a little placid, difficult to read at the beginning. But once the picture was presented, that historical photo of Father Hesburgh and Dr. Martin Luther King together and waving to the crowd, then it seemed like - that was a very warm moment. Was that also an endorsement from Father Hesburgh to President Obama. And if, so, how important would that be?

MARTIN: Well, Father Hesburgh had said Barack Obama may not change Notre Dame, but Notre Dame may change about Obama. And you know, the president said he was inspired by coming to Notre Dame. I think, you know, another reason why he's getting this honorary degree is also in a sense, the election of the first African-American president is the kind of culmination of so many years of work that Father Hesburgh did. So I think it was wonderful that they mentioned him and that the president mentioned him as well. I found that very moving.

WHITFIELD: Mr. Arroyo, how do you see, or do you see, that this has changed Notre Dame or perhaps this has changed the view of Catholics off campus about Notre Dame because of what was demonstrated today?

ARROYO: Well, that moment where you saw that picture of Father Hesburgh with Martin Luther King, hand in hand. What that represents to me and I think to many Catholics looking, this is the church in Father Hesburgh's time, speaking out on a very unpopular issue but defending human rights. I would argue and I think many Catholics would agree that the pro-life movement today is that civil rights movement.

And it's ironic that we are saluting Father Hesburgh's taking to the streets and his action. And, yet, we're sort of poo-pooing these other people who are quietly protesting and protesting with prayer. And that's a good thing. Just to talk momentarily about the slight of hand, if you will, President Obama in the middle of his speech referenced during his senatorial run, the man who found the blurb on his web site saying you know, I'm going to pursue right wing ideologues and take them down.

And the president said, and I want to quote him. "I didn't change my underlying position, but I asked my staff to change the words on my web site." Now this is key. Because it shows you a very crafty politician -

WHITFIELD: Wasn't he saying that the words on the web site were not representative of his views and that's why the change was made?

ARROYO: Well, but he said I didn't change my position, but I changed the words on my web site. And I think sometimes words are easy. That's the heart of this speech today. And I think encapsulates everything. Words are easy. Actions are harder. And I think we have to read both. And when you see a policy running counter to what's being said, mainly, I want to reduce the number of abortions, but here's more money for them, one has to ask serious questions and look at how deeply felt and held these positions are.

WHITFIELD: OK. Bill, that was an important moment because the president did -- Bill Schneider, if I could have him back on the screen there. You know, the president did talk about what transpired on the campaign trail with that moment that Mr. Arroyo was underscoring. But you know as I look back at the written version of his script here, unless we have pulled that thought. Have we pulled that sound bite that we can just run it again for clarity?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cut it off in the middle. It was airing earlier.

WHITFIELD: OK. I'm not hearing from my producer on whether we have that indeed. This is about the web site, the message about a woman's right to choose. I'm looking at the script here where it says, you know, "what bothered the doctor was an entry my campaign staff posted on my web site. An entry that said I would fight right wing ideologues who want to take away a woman's right to choose. The doctor said he had assumed I was a reasonable person but that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable. He talked about fair-minded words, and the use of words and the power of words. And so Mr. Arroyo he tried to offer some clarity there from the stage. You are saying that wasn't satisfactory?

ARROYO: Well, all I'm saying is what he said at the - the kicker to that line was I didn't change my underlying position, but I asked my staff to change the words on my web site. Which is perfectly fine. I agree they were inflammatory words, but it shows you the president's skill at changing the public face of the message. This sort of razzle dazzle effect we've been seeing in Washington a great deal over the last few months. And, yet, keeping the policies the same. And that's my problem. Dialogue is wonderful. But if we have to see a change in action and a change in verbiage, not just words -

WHITFIELD: OK. It said, I didn't change my position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my web site because the words were not representative of his view is- was his point. But, Bill there were two underlying messages that you saw here during this commencement address. What were they?

SCHNEIDER: Well, we just talked about fair-minded words which a moment ago we heard the president speak about in his remarks and how he took the advice that he should characterize those who disagree with him using fair minded, not inflammatory or harsh words. But there was something else which speaks to Mr. Arroyo's point. He talks about something you rarely hear for either religious or political leaders these days. He talked about doubt. The importance of doubt. Listen to what the president said.


Obama: Each side will continue make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature. Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.


WHITFIELD: He really was, Bill, talking about himself.

SCHNEIDER: He was talking about himself. And a little later in the speech he said our views should be colored by the persistence of doubt. We cannot have absolute certainty about our positions. Doubt should temper our passions and it should be - should cause us to be wary of self righteousness.

Now that's something you really don't often hear from politicians. He didn't change his position. But he said we must always be careful to harbor a certain amount of doubt about our positions whether we're in a position of religious or political leadership.

WHITFIELD: So Reverend Martin, was that a profound principle to be underscored?

MARTIN: Well, I think, you know, speaking theologically, I mean every believer struggles with doubt. St. Thomas, one of the first apostles struggled with doubt. I think he's talking about, you know, mainly humility. The humility to come to the table. Not 100 percent certain that you have all the answers. And that the other person is wrong. So I think it's that kind of doubt that humility that comes through conversation and dialogue that he was rightly stressing. I think that's an important value for both sides of the abortion debate.

WHITFIELD: Reverend James Martin, Raymond Arroyo and our Bill Schneider. Quite a mouthful trying to say all three at once. Bill Schneider, thanks so much to all of you gentlemen for joining us on this one.

ARROYO: Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Appreciate it.

MARTIN: You're welcome.

WHITFIELD: Of course, want to take you back to South Bend at the location of the University of Notre Dame. Still wrapping up the ceremonies there. It's been going, I guess roughly, a little over two hours. But if you are a graduate, one of the 2,900 graduates there in the room, you are enjoying every moment. This is a big day for the graduates, and a big day for the university as well.

Live pictures right now. Soon the president of the United States will be leaving there with his honorary law degree bestowed upon him. You see him there on the right-hand bottom of your screen with a big smile on his face. And we're also hearing from some students there in some of the closing remarks. Much more straight ahead on the developments there from South Bend.

So once the president does return back to Washington, he will be facing a full plate of difficult jobs starting with nominating a new Supreme Court justice, which could trigger a big showdown with conservatives.

Nearly two weeks after police say - we've got other news that we're covering as well. Police say that this little boy, three-year- old who was kidnapped from his home in California, well, there is a happy ending in this ordeal. Much more on these stories straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: All right. Graduation ceremonies at the University of Notre Dame not quite over yet. We continue to monitor it there before the president makes its exit after having the commencement address today.

Meantime, we've got other news we do want to share with you this Sunday afternoon. Almost two weeks after police say he was kidnapped, a three-year-old from California has been found. Wandering around in a Mexican border town. KTLA affiliate reporter Brandon Rudat has the latest from San Bernardino where the boy was reunited with his family yesterday.


BRANDON RUDAT, KTLA, REPORTER: Three-year-old Brian Rodriguez is back at home in San Bernardino with his family in healthy condition. His father Raul Rodriguez says he is so happy that his son was found safe and sound. And happy to hold him and hug him again.

The boy landed safely in San Bernardino, high-fiving a sheriff investigator, seemingly thrilled to be back in his mother's arms. The young boy was kidnapped two weeks ago during a violent home invasion. His father feared he would never see his son again.

Rodriguez says he lost the will to live because he thought the worst. But was so happy when he got the phone call telling him his son was alive. The boy was found wandering the streets of Mexicali, Mexico all by himself Thursday night. Mexican authorities found the boy and realized he was the missing child involved in the International Amber alert case. Two suspects raided the San Bernardino home, tied up the Rodriguez family and ransacked the home 13 days ago.

Rodriguez was kidnapped and taken across the border to Mexico. Authorities say the men in this surveillance photo are the men who kidnapped the boy. Authorities also say they know the motive. This was not a random abduction but they won't release the details. Sheriffs investigators handling the case were emotional as the boy was reunited with the family.

SHERIFF ROD HOOPS, SAN BERNARDINO CO., CALIFORNIA: And the son reunited and he said - the last thing he saw was Bryant touching his mother's neck and that kind of says it all.

RUDAT: The police are confident that the two suspects will be caught but are concerned about for the safety of the other Rodriguez children. The father says he has seen the suspects in the surveillance photo but has no clue who they are.


WHITFIELD: All right. Applying a little elbow grease on a dangerous mission. You are seeing, what, 350 million miles away? It wasn't science as we know it, but shuttle astronauts resort to a can- do spirit in fixing the Hubble telescope.


WHITFIELD: Well if at first you don't succeed, try and try again. The adage holds true even in the cold weightlessness of space. Shuttle astronauts today found a few technical difficulties on their fourth space walk to fix the Hubble telescope.

A stripped bolt complicated matters for hours until one astronaut used a more down to earth kind of approach. Elbow grease. And brute force to simply yank it out. NASA hopes one more space walk and repairs will do the trick to get the 19-year-old space observatory good to go.

All right. Part of the nation could be in for some pretty dangerous thunderstorms today and maybe a good part of the week. Jacqui Jeras is in the weather center. Jacqui, it seems to be like a broken record these days. Bad weather.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, what you saw yesterday, you are pretty much seeing again today. That's for sure. But you know we're going to be making some progress here, Fredricka. At least with our cold front finally changing the weather pattern up, just a little bit. It's been active across the east coast and all across parts of the deep south. And that will be the rule yet tonight and into early tomorrow morning. You know, not much across the northeast but just enough to kind of make your day rather dreary. Can't think of a better day to sit around and watch CNN. How about you?

But heavier showers and thunderstorms from Dothan to just south of Macon. And then we're also seeing that right here in the coastal Carolinas and really the biggest threat we're going to be dealing with is the heavy downpour. So might see a little bit of flash flooding associated with that. Use caution as you are traveling around. But high pressure is just going to continue to keep us cool and our front stalls out.

We're kind of looking at a slightly better weather for you tomorrow. But if you are trying to travel coming back from vacation or maybe heading out on business, we're looking at delays the JFK, San Francisco, delays around 40 minutes. Then Teterboro, you got about 30-minute delays. And quite honestly I'm kind of surprised that those delays aren't a little bit longer than they are. So be aware of that as we head throughout the day, we might see a little bit more.

Cold air. Boy it is going to be nippy out there tomorrow morning. We're talking, you'll definitely need a jacket. You might even be thinking about a parka. Frost and freeze advisory from the Great Lakes with interior parts of the northeast where we're going to see temperatures down into the upper 20 to lower 30s.

So if you planted your garden already, you're going to definitely cover those things up. All right. From cold in the northeast to heat in the southwest, we had a number of record highs yesterday, including 109 in Needles, California. That hot air sticking around today and the next couple of days as well across parts of the west. Right now, it's 97 in Fresno.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. OK. You mentioned garden. Now I got to ask, how is your garden coming along? Because I know you did, you took the courageous move to plant a real true recession garden or victory garden.

JERAS: That's right. Yes. It's going well. In fact, you can go to our NEWSROOM blog under Don Lemon's shows. And I've got a little update on there for you if you want to go ahead and check that out. I've had problems with strawberries.


JERAS: Yes, the critters are trying to eat them.

WHITFIELD: Oh, darn. Well, they're happy.

JERAS: Other than that, it's going well.

WHITFIELD: You're just not. All right. Thanks a lot, Jacqui. Appreciate it. All right. Much more straight ahead. You're looking at live pictures right now of the University of Notre Dame there in South Bend, Indiana. And a big applause there. Things are still going on as they try to round out and wrap up the graduation ceremonies. The president of the United States on the stage there. And that is the president of Notre Dame there hand shaking with the president of the United States. 2900 graduates enjoying the day and also enjoying the commencement address and message from the president. Straight ahead right after this.


WHITFIELD: Live pictures right now of a song that is beginning there at the Joyce Center at the University of Notre Dame. This is the Notre Dame Alma mater "Our Mother." "Notre Dame our mother." And they are almost about done with the ceremony today for the 2900 graduates of the University of Notre Dame class of 2009. The keynote speaker today President Barack Obama. You know leading up to this day there was quite a bit protest from a number of people off campus and a few students on campus as well.

Faculty who said they didn't believe that this was the appropriate commencement speaker because of his position on a woman's right to choose. He's an advocate of embryonic stem cell research. Well, today, the president addressed both of those matters. He didn't shy away at all from the controversy. And, yes, there were a few interruptions during his address, and it began just at about the point where he began his address. Just look.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Since this is Notre Dame -- it's all right. And since --

We're fine, everybody. We're following Brennan's adage that we don't do things easily. We want to -- we're not going to shy away from things that are uncomfortable sometimes.


WHITFIELD: And the president went on to address some of the more contentious issues that actually brought some of the hecklers to the floor. He did talk about abortion. He did talk about a continued, I guess, commitment to trying to reduce the number of abortions but at the same time protecting a woman's right to abortion. He mentioned Brennan. That was the valedictorian of the class. Elizabeth Brennan full man who made some comments earlier.

All right. So abortion. A hot-button issue not just for the commencement ceremony but the flash point for President Obama as well as he tries to make a selection for the next U.S. Supreme Court nominee. It is an issue that our Kate Bolduan delved into.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Obama called it among his most serious responsibilities.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S: I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity.

BOLDUAN: Sources close to the selection process tell CNN the list of top candidates for Mr. Obama's Supreme Court nominee is down to about half a dozen. A majority of which are women. They include Federal Appeals Court judges, Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Wood, Solicitor general Elina Kagan and at least two candidates with political experience, Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. On his search, the president says he's looking beyond judicial record.

OBAMA: I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.

BOLDUAN: That worries many conservatives who translate what Mr. Obama calls empathy to mean judicial activism. Conservative groups are gearing up for a fight.

GARY MARX, EXEC. DIRECTOR, JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION NETWORK: We want to see that law be equally applied and the empathy talk really, you know, personal feelings getting in the mix. That's very trouble some.

BOLDUAN: The president is likely to announce his nominee by month's end. A lifetime appointment viewed as a key element of any presidential legacy.

THOMAS GOLDSTEIN, SUPREME COURT LEGAL ANALYST: It's impossible to overstate the importance of a Supreme Court appointment because of the justice's power. They decide things like abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, the meaning of all of the laws involving the detainees at Guantanamo Bay and presidential powers, wiretapping. The list goes on and on and on.


WHITFIELD: And Kate Bolduan joins us now live. Kate, we're hearing from senior White House correspondent Ed Henry that the president is indeed gearing up for a possible showdown over his pending nominee. What more can you tell us about that?

BOLDUAN: Senior administration officials did confirm to my colleague Ed Henry that the White House is bringing over a longtime Democratic power player Stephanie Cutter to act as coordinating the confirmation campaign for the administration. Cutter has been the top adviser to Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner until now working through the financial crises, a hefty job there.

She will now be sort of the point person in trying to mobilize public support for President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court. You heard in our piece. And we often do hear that the -- that conservatives and liberal groups do gear up for very tough and sometimes bruising confirmation battles because these picks and appointments are so important. Bringing over Stephanie Cutter could be a signal that the White House, while it does have a majority of control over Congress could be gearing up for a fight as well.

Kate Bolduan in Washington, thanks.

WHITFIELD: A pretty busy week ahead for the president. Tomorrow, he will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. Wednesday, the president attends the first quarterly meeting of the Presidential Economic Recovery Advisory Board. And then Thursday, he'll speak on the Guantanamo Bay controversy. And then later in the day he hosts the Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers to the White House. And then Friday, wrapping up the week, at least the workweek, the president will deliver the commencement address, yes, one more at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Checking news overseas. A first for women in Kuwait. The conservative gulf state elected its first four female lawmakers to a Parliament yesterday. I spoke with one of them earlier today.


WHITFIELD (voice over): So how significant is this for you personally and for women as a whole in Kuwait?

ASEEL AWADHI, ELECTED TO KUWAIT PARLIAMENT: It is very significant indeed. I think gender issue is now -- is history in Kuwait. By having four female candidates in the election at once. After actually only three years after having their political rights. That's a huge victory. At the same time, the decline, you know, of defeat by Islamists who were opposing women representation in the Parliament also that represents, you know, a change -- a social change in Kuwait.

WHITFIELD: How do you see Parliament changing? How do you see the making of laws, the enforcement of laws changing as a result of your presence for one?

AWADHI: I think the change starts before my presence. I think the change started by the -- by, you know, male and female supporters. What they did yesterday, the Kuwaiti voters, what they did yesterday, they voted absolutely for change. And hopefully even the priorities are going to change inside the Parliament, the way we deal with issues are going to change in the Parliament. Not because of the female candidates only, but because of some young, also new male candidates who won yesterday.


WHITFIELD: That was Dr. Aseel Alawadhi; she was educated actually in the United States at the college level at the University of Texas Austin.

Kuwaiti women gained the right to vote and run for office four years ago, but they failed in two previous elections to win seats in the 50-member Parliament. So when people think of the Cannes Film Festival they envision glamorous celebrities or heavy weight directors. Behind the scenes there is plenty of wheeling and dealing going on especially when the weather is bad. Natasha Curry looks at the business of Cannes.


NATASHA CURRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Day three of the Cannes Film Festival. It's raining. Not good for photographers, but for Michael Mendelsohn, it's perfect.

MICHAEL MENDELSOHN, CEO, PATRIOT PICTURES: My father always says that if you want to sell something, do it in the rain. People are focused on buying in the rain.

CURRY: Mendelsohn is an independent producer here and is in Cannes to sell movies.

MENDELSOHN: Greatest show on earth.

CURRY: He's got three of them, including the comedy "All Fair in Love." This morning, he and his partners are screening the film for buyers representing a wide range of markets.

MENDELSOHN: Taiwanese, Chinese, French, Latin American or British.

CURRY: Industry players like Mendelsohn come to Cannes for something called the film market which runs at the same time as the festival. Films of every description right here are bought and sold. Films from across the globe from high brow to low with titles like "Tandori Love" and "Transmorphers," not to be confused with "Transformers."

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): A good movie.

CURRY: Deals can be consummated in loftier places like the top of a hotel with the best view in Cannes. That's where I met up with Mendelsohn to check on his progress. The review on "All Fair in Love" is positive.

MENDELSOHN: Grossing $3 million dollars in the deal.

CURRY: For another of his films, negotiations are ongoing for even bigger figures.

MENDELSOHN: They're on negotiation for about $6.5 million in deals.

CURRY: So while the stars grab all the attention, the real business of Cannes proceeds behind the scenes. And while celebrities walk the red carpet, Mendelsohn's shoes hit the pavement as he hunts down another deal.

MENDELSOHN: Three movies in one market. That's a lot of walking up and down the street. CURRY: Natasha Curry, Cannes, France.


WHITFIELD: She brought her story of unemployment to CNN. Well now Sabrina Key is neither jobless nor hopeless. We'll show you how she found work.


WHITFIELD: Don't you need a little good job news? Here's something. I.T. Worker Sabrina Key is no longer counted among the unemployed. Just one month ago, Key was here in our studio taking part in our jobless, not hopeless special. She did her best to stand out, and she did. She stood out from the crowd with potential employer James Geiger of IC firm Cbeyond. Take a look back.


SABRINA KEY, UNEMPLOYED: I have a question. I am looking to work the I.T. Field which is what your positions are. I do have an associate's degree in electronics and I'm also going to school to get bachelors in that field. But when you are sending off the resume and you look up the job and you try and find out what that company is about and you tailor your resume to it, is there any pointers that you can give me that will help my resume stand out in your company?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think an associate's degree is admirable. So I wouldn't be worried about the level of education and certainly if you have some insecurity about that, then make sure you mention the fact that you are pursuing additional education in your bachelors. I think again in our company's case, we like to see involvement in the community. We want to see that you believe that the world is a little bit bigger than you and your personal situation. So I think in our specific case, it would be easy for you to gain that understanding by looking at our web site and looking at what we think are the values that we hold true and that we try and fit people into.




KEY: I am a member of my local church and do volunteer with a lot of the different programs that we have. Are those the type of things you are looking for is community involvement?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sound like I should get your resume on the way out.

KEY: Yes, sir. We like to hear that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: And he did and so did she. Sabrina Key with us now. You stood out. You took charge. You took advantage of the moment. And, you know, Mr. Geiger said, OK, wait a minute. Let's follow up on this. You gave him the resume. Right away what happened?

SABRINA KEY, HIRED BY CBEYOND: I actually got a call from two of the recruiters for the company. I had telephone interviews with them and an in-person interview and, of course, with the help of Mr. -- I can't say his name.

WHITFIELD: He's our career coach, the resume builder coach.

KEY: He assisted me with some of the verbiage and --

WHITFIELD: So sometimes a phone interview can be very intimidating. Sometimes it's difficult to sell yourself. When that took place the following day, did you feel ready for that?

KEY: I felt very ready with all the coaching. And also listening to the company's CEO telling the things they were looking for was -- it made --

WHITFIELD: So what happened you get to the next level? What transpired that was right in the phone interview so you got the person to person interview and consequently able to nail the job.

KEY: Making the decision not to say what I have done as a person working for that company. What I bring to that company as an employee. What my advantages were. Not so many --

WHITFIELD: You mentioned to me you also really did your homework on the company so that you were knowledgeable of the company. Knew what you were getting into.

KEY: I went to their web site and I looked up all the different -- the one thing the company really stands out with me was their community involvement. They actually give time off paid for community involvement and that was very important to me giving that I work with my church a lot. I can incorporate that into my job.

WHITFIELD: Sabrina Key thanks so much. Glad a connection was made and you are now employed and starting your job tomorrow.

KEY: I also want to give thanks to CNN for inviting me the last time. And for the other people that took their time to come out. Miss White from Aflac.

WHITFIELD: You did talk to Aflac as well because they were here talking to you and other folks who were looking for jobs.

Thank you so much. Congratulations. All the best on starting your new gig tomorrow.

KEY: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Glad it all worked out. Here's a deal for you. A free car if it rains on Memorial Day. We'll meet the man behind an offer that you simply can't refuse. And we'll find out why he's doing this.


WHITFIELD: If you are looking for a new ride, listen up. A new sales pitch may have some folks in Colorado doing a rain dance on Memorial Day. A car dealership promises to refund the price of any vehicle sold between Wednesday and yesterday if it rains at least one inch on Memorial Day. Sounds perplexing, doesn't it?

Lee Yoder joins us via broadband from Greeley, Colorado. He owns Weld County Garage the GMC Dealership offering this deal.

Mr. Yoder you sell GMC, Pontiac, Buick vehicles.


WHITFIELD: So what is the catch here? You are saying if I purchase a vehicle between this particular time periods if it rains on Memorial Day, I actually get all the money back?

YODER: No catch. You get all the money back. I hope it does rain.



WHITFIELD: So I understand you sold something like $800,000 in vehicles over the past four days. And you are hoping it does rain so you can give all of that money back?



YODER: Yes, that would be great for everybody that bought a car here.

WHITFIELD: Great for everybody that bought a car but what about you, the dealer, the one who owns this shop? How can you afford to do that?

YODER: We were able to get insurance on that deal.

WHITFIELD: Oh, I see. OK. So it's fail-safe for you?

YODER: It's safe for us. And we hope that we give away $800,000 worth of cars.

WHITFIELD: That's incredible. So what do you know about the weather forecast come Memorial Day, May 25th?

YODER: Well, some people have checked the almanac. It says if that doesn't get very specific. And I have seen some pretty heavy rains in -- on Memorial Day here in Greeley.

WHITFIELD: You say it must rain an inch between 7:00 and 7:00 p.m. on Memorial Day. We'll have to check in with our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. Maybe she can look into the crystal ball and find out for us. What are the chances of rain? What are the chances he'd have to give up $800,000?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: If the computer models pan out Fredricka if we were just using rain as the criteria, our friend is going to lose a little money. The key is going to be an inch of rain. I don't know what we'll get there. The key is that May is the wettest month in this part of Colorado but Greeley is a pretty dry area. Most storm systems develop in this area and then they pick up moisture in the Gulf of Mexico and dump a lot of rain in the plain. If he was east of this area, a greater probability of seeing some of that wet weather.

WHITFIELD: OK. There you go, Mr. Yoder. Be ready to shell out some dough.

YODER: Yeah.

WHITFIELD: OK. You're excited about that.

WHITFIELD: Everybody wins.

JERAS: Everybody wins.

WHITFIELD: Maybe a free inquiry.

Everybody wins. You're out $800,000. Who cares? Lee Yoder thanks. We'll check back with you especially if it rains. Maybe we ought to be there if it rains the day you have to be doling out that cash. Lee Yoder thanks. And Jacqui Jeras thanks as well.

Time for the end of the year dance recitals. But you probably have never seen anything like this. A special school helping visually impaired kids learn to dance. Don Lemon is in the CNN NEWSROOM right after "GPS."

I'm Fredricka Whitfield.