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First Papal Vote Just Hours Away; Obama Visits Capitol Hill in Three Hours; NYC to Appeal Big Soda Ruling; James Holmes to Court in 2 Hours

Aired March 12, 2013 - 09:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, breaking overnight. A final good-bye to Pope Benedict. Now the conclave, 115 cardinals, secret ballots, but when will we see the white smoke?

Also, a car in flames. The driver passed out at the wheel, and the heroic officer who saved him.

Plus, good-bye, Mr. Bloomberg, hello again, Big Gulp.


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: The ban on bigger cup size was a ways to remind you, if you want 32 ounces you have to take two cups and maybe you'd only take one.

COSTELLO: A judge says no to banning big sugary drink. But it ain't over yet.


COSTELLO: And you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Good morning, thank you so much for joining me. I'm Carol Costello.

We begin at the Vatican where a new Pope could be named just hours from now. These are the cardinals who will elect the next leader of the Catholic Church. They gathered at this mass to pray for guidance as they head into an election with no clear frontrunner.

They also erupted into applause at the mention of Pope Benedict, whose shocking resignation underscores the uncertain times facing the church.


CARDINAL ANGELO SODANO, DEAN, COLLEGE OF CARDINALS(Through Translator): The beloved and venerable pontiff, Benedict xvi, to whom we renew in this moment all of our gratitude.


COSTELLO: CNN's Chris Cuomo and Miguel Marquez are in Rome. Chris, let's go to you first. Benedict is the first Pope to resign in 600 years. That certainly adds a sense of history and a certain amount of challenges to this election process.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Carol. I mean,. it's what Benedict did and why he did it. Resigning, creating an atmosphere of potential change because it was different. The rationale that the Pope offered for doing it. The idea of the level of commitment necessary to the service of holy work.

Also, infused the atmosphere around the curia, around the Vatican, with we're doing this for a reason. You must be at your best. And with that as the catalyst, you now have these 115 electors, these cardinals that are going into the conclave tonight, and they have a very big sense of purpose.

I was told by a Vatican insider. This time is different. And not just because of what Pope Benedict did, but because of the issues that are facing this church. Now that said, one of the confusing things that makes this more mysterious is how do you pick the Pope when you don't really know each other that well as cardinals. Sure, you've had these 10 meetings to talk about what is important, but there's over 100 of you. So how do you do it?

It gets very tricky. They have their general congregations but now in the conclave, there's very little speaking. It's just voting and in Latin at that. But they do have these big power lunches and time at night to kind of find their way through. That's why they lean so heavily on the Holy Spirit and the idea that there is divine intervention in this process, not just because they're all obviously clergy, but because they believe they need the guidance. So how do we do this? How do we figure this out if we are cardinals, who the best man for the job is. The 266th Pope.

Well, that's what Miguel Marquez has been trying to unpack in all of its mystery -- Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Chris, it is not an easy process and by all accounts, whoever takes that sage, that balcony there at the Vatican, whenever that announcement is made, will be the most vetted Pope in history.

CUOMO: Hey, Miguel, we're not hearing your piece right now. Do I still have you, Miguel? Can you hear me? Are you down over there?

MARQUEZ: You do. Sorry about that.


We're having some technical difficulties out here.

CUOMO: That's OK. That's OK, Miguel. Let me -- if you can hear me, let me just get to what the point of what your piece is that you did. Which by the way, everybody, is a really nice piece. Hopefully we could show it to you later on. These cardinals have to find their opportunities, right? And they to balance the dignity of what they see as their holy work with the necessary political actions to figure out who the right man for the job is. Right, Miguel?

MARQUEZ: Whatever it is, I can't hear.

CUOMO: No? Miguel still doesn't have it. So, Carol, well, you know what, I'll answer my own question for you, then.

COSTELLO: Thank you. Appreciate that, Chris.

CUOMO: What Miguel took us through in the piece is that, you know, these cardinals they go to dinner, they have language sensitive meetings together in country. They try to reach out to others. Now one of the things we learned in our reporting here is that when the foreigners came, those are cardinals from outside the work at the Vatican, the curia.

When they came. they were unusually resistant to just moving things long. You may remember that Pope Benedict issued what was called a (INAUDIBLE), a decree that you could make the conclave as soon as you wanted, you didn't have to wait the normal period of mourning because obviously there's no funeral. But the foreign cardinals didn't want that. They wanted the time to meet, to get to know each other, to discuss what they believe are novel issues for the church to face.

And that is also why ,Carol, they believe that this conclave may last longer than the one did in 2005 that made Joseph Ratzinger Pope Benedict because they may simply need the time.

COSTELLO: But there's so much more controversy to deal with this time. They have to pick exactly the right person, not only do they have to take into account, you know, the sexual abuse that's gone on within the Catholic church but they have to make sure the next Pope is a better ambassador than perhaps Pope Benedict was, right? He has to be young and vibrant and able to connect with young Catholics.

CUOMO: Absolutely. And we know this. We know he's one of the men in the room, right? He's one of those 115 cardinals. He doesn't have to be. You know, they could pick somebody who's over 80 years of age. They could pick somebody who's not a cardinal at all. The requirements for being a Pope are pretty general but in all reality it will be one of the younger cardinals who is one of the electors.

And some suggest that a Pope alone may not be enough. Maybe what we have to see this time is that when you have a new Pope, there is a new Vatican council. Because things that need to be changed are of such dimension, such proportions, such impact on the church that it will take an referendum, and one of the frustrations for us, Carol, you know, calm aside, satellite communications aside, is that it's hard to report it out when all of the guys who know what's going on are sworn to secrecy under threat of excommunication.


So it's very tough for us to get information. That's why we're looking for smoke.

COSTELLO: It's hard to break a promise to the church and God, Chris Cuomo. Thank you so much. And again we apologize for those technical difficulties.

On to Washington, D.C. now and shuttle diplomacy because it begins on Capitol Hill. No, not between warring countries, but between the president and lawmakers. Mr. Obama will head to the Hill to begin three days of meetings with House and Senate leaders.

On tap today, Senate Democrats, the president will be pitching his proposals on immigration, gun control and looking to leaders to jump on board. He'll also talk about a budget plan that will hopefully end the -- gridlock in Congress.

Chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is live in Washington. And I kind of giggled over that gridlock comment. I tried not to, but I couldn't help it.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's hard not to, Carol. I understand. The president, look, he is going to Capitol Hill this week, almost more than he was when he was senator. That's how much he is going to be there this coming week.

There's been a lot of focus on the meetings he's going to have with Republicans in the House and the Senate. That's going to be tomorrow Wednesday. But it's not just Republicans who say they don't hear from the president much. It's also members of his own party. And he'll meet with them today in the Senate.

Senator Joe Manchin is one of the most conservative Senate Democrats. He's someone who could defect on pretty much any vote that's out there. But the president called Manchin, Carol, two years ago when he was first elected and then not again until a few months ago to talk to the pro-gun Democrat about gun control. I talked to Senator Manchin about what the president should be doing now.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Or lack of an energy policy.

BASH: He doesn't pick up the phone and call you.

MANCHIN: No. No, we haven't had that.

BASH: Does that surprise you?

MANCHIN: Not really. It doesn't surprise me. It's just everyone has a different style. It wouldn't be my style. I wear them out morning, noon, and night. You know? And I think that President Clinton did the same. Everyone has a different style.

BASH: And what's the benefit to that? I mean you add --

(CROSSTALK) MANCHIN: You build relationships. You know what, you have a comfort level where could you say I really want to help, and here is what I think would help. I hope you would consider it. You follow me? And I would hope that he would take it as constructive criticism even if we have differences. I've never been against something nor would I vote against something unless I thought there was a better way of doing it.


BASH: Now, Manchin was chief executive himself, he was governor of West Virginia. And, Carol, he said his style was to reach out all the time, especially to members of his own party. He said that the president should accept that Democrats want to talk to them, want to build relationships. He said, you don't have to invite us to dinner, we just want to be heard.


COSTELLO: Don't we all? Dana Bash reporting live in Washington this morning.

Also this morning, five American service members are dead after their helicopter crashed in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar. Coalition officials say it was raining at the time and there's no evidence that the helicopter was shot down. It is the third fatal crash, though, of a coalition helicopter since September. No report of enemy involvement in either of those first two incidents.

Tensions high on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea scrapped its 60-year-old truce with the South. North Korean state media reports people across the country want to join or rejoin the army. Amid this tension comes word that NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman plans to return to North Korea this summer. Rodman telling CNN affiliate KHJV, he will vacation with Kim Jong-Un.


DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I don't condone what he does, but he's my friend.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you anticipate going over there again?

RODMAN: Yes, I had. In August.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You are going over there?

RODMAN: Yes, on vacation. Yes.


COSTELLO: Rodman sat next to the North Korean leader two weeks ago as the two watched an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he will appeal a judge's decision to block a city ban on the sale of those large sugary drinks. The ruling came just before the ban was to begin.

CNN's Mary Snow has more for you.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the fist of its kind effort in the country to ban soda, sugary drinks, even some types of coffee beverages from being served in containers larger than 16 ounces. The idea was part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's effort to fight obesity. But beverage companies, restaurants, movie theaters and others went to court to fight back against what they called a nanny state.

Just hours before the ban was to take affect, a state Supreme Court judge invalidated the city's rule, saying, "It is arbitrary and capricious because it applies to some, but not all food establishments in the city. It excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories on suspect grounds."

Lattes and other drinks that were at least half milk were not on the list and supermarkets and convenient stores were also exempt. But the mayor has vowed to appeal.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: If we are serious about fighting obesity, we have to be honest about what causes it and we have to have the courage to tackle it head on.

SNOW: The American Beverage Association considers the block a victory. "The court ruling provides a sigh of relief to New Yorkers and thousands of small businesses in New York City that would have been harmed by this arbitrary and unpopular ban."

Local businesses were worried about their bottom line. Like this theater that says 30 percent of its business is from large beverage sales.

(On camera): This is the largest size. It's 44 ounces. This is the smallest, it's 22 ounces.

(Voice-over): The theater would have had to lose those large sizes in favor of 16 ounces or less. It had General Manager Russell Levinson worried his small theater would lose tens of thousands of dollars in sales.

RUSSELL LEVINSON, GENERAL MANAGER, MOVIEWORLD THEATER: On an independent theater like ours, it's a pretty significant hit.

SNOW: The portion control battle continued on late night.

BLOOMBERG: I think that it is incumbent on government to tell people what they're doing to themselves and to let people make their own decisions.

SNOW: Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


COSTELLO: Just ahead in the NEWSROOM, for months, 70 families have waited to learn how James Holmes will plead in the Aurora theater massacre. Well, they might find out this morning.


COSTELLO: Fifteen minutes past the hour. It's time to check our top stories.

A manhunt now under way in Washington state for a man suspected of killing his grandparents. Michael Boysen's family threw a party for him after his release from prison on Friday. And the very next day, police found the elderly couple dead. Police describe Boysen as unpredictable and dangerous.

What do Beyonce, Ashton Kutcher, Donald Trump, Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton have in common? Well, they are among 12 big names who's personal information and in some cases financial data may have been hacked. The Los Angeles Police now investigating.

The Justice Department says it could be hacking or docsing (ph). Docsing is a posting of information from documents available to the public.

A police officer in Iowa puts his life on the line to save a driver. Dash cam video show Officer Zac McDowell making a couple of attempts to get into that burning car. He is finally able to reach in and he drags the unconscious driver out. Driver is now in the hospital. He is expected to recover. But he will face a charge for reckless driving. He was doing doughnuts when the car crashed into an air conditioning unit and then caught fire.

Today, could be a major turning point for James Holmes. He's the man accused of killing 12 people inside an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. Holmes is due in court in just about two hours where he is expected to enter a plea. In the past, his attorneys have suggested Holmes could use an insanity defense and that could change the entire case proceeds.

Jim Spellman has more for you.


JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly eight months after the Aurora theater shooting that killed 12 and wounded 58, alleged shooter James Holmes is expected to enter pleas to 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and related charges.

OPERATOR: (INAUDIBLE), one medic; 109, they need you hot to the front of the theater.

SPELLMAN: Court documents indicate that the defense is likely to file a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

David Beller is a Denver defense attorney not associated with the case.

DAVID BELLER, ATTORNEY: So, if he enters the not guilty for reason of insanity plea, he's going to be examined by state doctors. Any statements he made to the state doctors are given to prosecutors for potential use later.

SPELLMAN: Last week, the defense sought to delay the arraignment and have parts of the statute regarding the insanity plea ruled unconstitutional. The judge denied those motions. Once Holmes enters a plea, the state has 63 days to decide whether to pursue the death penalty. The district attorney will take into account the severity of the crimes and other aggravating factors. But it's far from a sure thing.

BELLER: There's a few reasons they wouldn't go for the death penalty, the most important one being his mental state. The Supreme Court and really society has been very clear -- we don't kill, we don't execute people who are mentally ill. We just don't do it.

SPELLMAN: Many family members don't believe Holmes is not guilty by reason of insanity.

Do you think he's insane?

JESSICA WATTS, VICTIM'S FAMILY MEMBER: No. Absolutely not. This was months and months of planning and thousands of dollars spent on his part in order to pull this horrific night off.


COSTELLO: Jim Spellman outside the courthouse now. So, Jim, if Holmes plead guilty by not reason of insanity, what happens next?

SPELLMAN: The judge put out a fascinating order yesterday, Carol. It laid out exactly what would happen. He would immediately be subject to examination by the state about his mental health, including what they call a narco analytic examination, better known as truth serum. They would give him a barbiturate-like drug to introduce a near sleep state where they could then interview him. And all of that would be then admissible in court.

We do expect, Carol, by the way, to see Holmes on video with no audiotape. I can tell you, his orange hair is long gone. But that dazed look we saw in the first court appearance last summer has been there every hearing I have seen over these last eight or so months, Carol.

COSTELLO: Jim Spellman, reporting live for us this morning.

Coming up next in THE NEWSROOM: talk back. Is closing the White House tours, actually suspending White House tours prudent or pure politics?


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the stories of the day. The question for you this morning: Is closing White House tours prudent or pure politics?

Who would have thought that suspending White House tours would become a political football, passed between the president and conservative Republicans?

Radio host Laura Ingraham jabbed the first lady on Twitter, quote, "Would we save enough money to reopen White House tours if we shut down her Let's Move tour?"

Piling on, Donald Trump who said, he would pick up the tab for the tours.


DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN (via telephone): Well, I guess it's political. They want to hurt the people. They want to do something to make their point. They want to do something to in their opinion get things going, even if it's going the wrong way.

I don't think it's a big deal, frankly. But it makes us look awfully bad and awfully pathetic.


COSTELLO: Trump's offer to pay for the tours until the end of the fiscal year. And we're not talking chump change here. It costs $74,000 a week to run the tours. But the administration says closing the White House to tourists is the least painful way to make those forced spending cuts.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: The Secret Service presented options that ranged from canceling tours to potential furloughs and cuts in overtime, and in order to allow the Secret Service to best fulfill its core mission, the White House made a decision that we would, unfortunately, have to temporarily suspend these tours.


COSTELLO: But some Republicans say, come off it, it's just pure politics, an effort to make voters more angry at Republicans. If that's the motive, it could be working.


NATALIE COOPER, TOURIST: I was pretty upset about it, just because of the fact that I know how difficult sometimes it is to get a tour of the White House and to have it lined up and just to kind of coincide with his birthday and for him to just turn 8 and he had his own bucket list. And on that bucket list was D.C. and, you know, the White House, and so it was a little bit upsetting.


COSTELLO: Except voters appear to be angry not just at Republicans, but Democrats too. Talk back today: Is closing White House tours prudent or pure politics?,, or tweet me @carolCNN.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Carol Costello.

Stories happening now in THE NEWSROOM:

We're watching the opening bell on Wall Street after the Dow saw its fifth straight record close, many wonder if the recent market rally is over for now.

Ringing the opening bell, the management team of Vermillion Energy.

Investors are weighing new numbers from the Treasury Department and a GOP budget plan.

To the Vatican now, we're in about two hours, 115 cardinals will begin their secret election for a new pope. Eventually, One name will emerge for the successor to retired Pope Benedict. Earlier this morning, the cardinals held a mass, and it was the final event before they locked themselves in the Sistine Chapel.

Frontier Airlines going high tech. Soon, you will see pilots carrying those flight bags containing manuals and navigational charts. Instead, those pilots will be carrying iPads. The airline says junking those 30-pound flight bags will save thousands of dollars in fuel costs.

"Political Buzz" is your rapid fire at the best political topics of the day. Three topics, 30 seconds on the clock.

Playing with us today, Jason Johnson, chief political correspondent for "Politic365" and political science professor at Hiram College. And Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express.

Welcome to you both.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITIC365: Good morning.

COSTELLO: Good morning.



KREMER: Hi, Carol, welcome back from vacation.

COSTELLO: Oh, thanks. It's good to be back. Well, not all the way good, but 95 percent good.