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Countdown to Conclave; Republicans to Unveil Budget Plan; March madness In Full Swing

Aired March 12, 2013 - 06:30   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And saved from certain death. A camera captures a police officer pulling an unconscious man from a burning car. Unbelievable pictures for you this morning.

Welcome back to EARLY START. Glad you're with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. It is a big day here. Tuesday morning. It is 30 minutes past the hour.


BERMAN: Welcome back to CNN's special live coverage of the vote for the next pope.

One hundred fifteen cardinals from every corner of the earth will take an oath of secrecy in just five hours. And then, the eyes of the world will be on that copper chimney above the Sistine Chapel as the cardinals begin voting for the next leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

Right now, as you can see, the cardinals are wrapping up a special mass at the Vatican for the election of the Holy Father. At 10:45 Eastern this morning, those cardinals are scheduled to leave their residence at Casa Santa Marta. Forty-five minutes later, they will enter the Sistine Chapel and the pope watch officially begins.

We've got a jump-start on that. The pope watch starts very early here at CNN.

Chris Cuomo is leading our coverage in Rome.

Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, John. How are you?

You know, this is it. This is the last moment that all the cardinals who will vote are together before they get down to business. This mass is about drawing inspiration. It's called "Pro Eligendo Pontifice" in Latin. It is to select the pope, that's the purpose of this mass.

And right now, we're at the point in the mass where they are receiving communion, which is the most holy and spiritual aspect of the mass for Catholics, where they believe that in taking communion they are taking in the literal body and blood of God.

So this is a very big moment for them that we're watching. They are joined by some 6,500 regular people, laity, as they say in the church, who stood in long lines to come in and join the cardinals this morning.

So, it's a very big moment.

And we also saw something this morning in the mass you almost never really witness in a mass, because it's a solemn occasion. Applause. Take a listen to what caused them.


UNIDENTIED MALE (through translator): Such an interior attitude is ours today as we wish to offer ourselves to cries in heaven, to thank him for the loving assistance that he always reserves to the holy church, and in particular to the brilliant pontificate that he granted to us through the life and the work of the 265th successor of Peter, the beloved and venerable pontiff Benedict XVI, to whom we renew in this moment all of our gratitude.



CUOMO: A big round of applause for Pope Benedict. Of course, he set the stage for the need for this decision by resigning as pope. It hasn't happened in some 600 years. So, there you see on the recognition of the work that he had done.

Now, here this morning, they're inside, Rome has been being hit by what they call temporales -- these big massive storm cells just dumps rain here and then pass along.

Miguel Marquez has been in St. Peter's Square weathering the rain, literally.

Miguel, how are you now?


Man, it is coming down here. We don't know when exactly it's going to come. It's been rain, hail, wind, just about everything.

When the -- I'm not superstitious, but I did notice that when the cardinals clapped, there was a huge clap of thunder and lightning at the same time, which I thought was interesting.

I could point out one thing to you today, because now it's getting to be very, very crowded down here. The red curtains on the basilica there. That is the balcony where the pope, once he is named, will make himself known to the giant crowd here, and to the world on live television.

During Cardinal Sodano's homily today he talked about justice. He talked about mercy. He talked about them getting back to the work that Christ wanted them to do, which was to do all of that around the world.

So, it sounds like he is certainly, as a front-runner, telegraphing the hope that whoever is the next pope will be a merciful one, will seek just justice, and will get back to some of the work that John Paul was known for, and be a more activist church basically in the everyday lives of people -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Miguel, thank you very much.

You know, in Italian they say that this is "Il tempo della shelta (ph)," it's time to choose.

Angelo Sodano, the cardinal, he is the dean of cardinals. That's why he delivered the homily and he's saying the mass today. He is 85 years old, which makes it a little bit less likely that he could be pope. In fact, he doesn't even get to vote because he's over 80 years old. But he has a very big place in the mass right now.

This is it. This is the last moment before the conclave begins, where all these cardinals are together -- John, Zoraida.

BERMAN: It is such a big moment. Of course, later today, they will enter the Sistine Chapel, and that is where they will cast their very first ballot.

Joining us once again to talk about this is Monsignor Rick Hilgartner. He is the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and secretariat on divine worship.

Monsignor, thank you so much for being here.


BERMAN: As we said today, we do expect the first vote, the first ballot. But the Vatican is all but guaranteed that it will be black smoke. There will be no pope picked today.

But what is the significance of this first ballot?

HILGARTNER: Well, the challenge is that because the cardinals haven't officially talked about names of candidates, but only talked about broad concepts of issues and concerns, they really don't know who they're voting for until that first ballot is cost and they start to read off the ballots, and they see. Then they really see the consensus, the sense of the group, and really see what the trends are looking like.

So, there could be 12, 13, 14, 15 or 30 cardinals who garnish any votes in this first ballot.

SAMBOLIN: Walk us through that process, will you, of who actually counts the ballots? How does that all happen?

HILGARTNER: The cardinals will actually choose, if they've not already done so, a series of nine cardinals who will assist in the ballot counting process. There will be three who are essentially the tellers who will open the ballots, they first count them to make sure that there's the proper number. To make sure that nobody's tried to slip in a second ballot in the middle of that process.

And then they'll read off the number -- read off the names and there will be another cardinal tallying and all the other cardinals sitting in the room can tally off and keep their own count because they're reading them out loud.

The second three are the three who would go, if there are any of the cardinals who are sick in dead at the Domus Santa Marta and they have to go there and allow the sick ones, if there are any, it doesn't appear that there will be. And then there are three additional cardinals who are the revisers, who are the reviewers, to make sure that all counts are accurate. So they do all the counting right there in the chapel in front of all of them. And then there's another cardinal who is in charge of the stove when it comes time to burn the ballots.

BERMAN: Of course, the stove -- the all-important stove here.

One of the things we've been talking about the extraordinary secrecy, and the ceremony of this. And a lot of people find that intriguing in a way. But there as a really interesting column in "The New York Times" today by Frank Bruni who said this secrecy is actually part of the problem. Not something to be celebrated.

He said, "When an organization shrouds itself in mystery, it's invariably treated as a cradle of intrigue."

Are these traditions in a way holding the church back?

HILGARTNER: The intention of the secrecy is less about what the world doesn't get to see than it is about the outside influences affecting the cardinals in their voting. The idea is that they enter into this time of reflection and prayer, because it is spiritual. The mass sets the stage for that.

The gospel reading this morning from the Gospel of John says, Jesus says to the disciples, "It was not you who chose me but I who chose you." And it reminds the cardinals that they need to be listening to what the Lord's intentions are.

SAMBOLIN: What about the people's intention? The flock? Because at the end of the day, this is really service to those people. And I think that maybe is part of the problem in the secrecy that, at the end of the day, who you serve doesn't necessarily have a voice here.

HILGARTNER: Well, I think, I hope that what happened last week in all of the general congregations was an opportunity for the cardinals to reflect on what they're hearing. They're bringing word back from their diocese where they serve around the world -- the ones who work in the Roman Curia certainly aware of what's going on in different parts of the world. So, we would hope as members of the faithful, spread throughout the world, that the cardinals are considering and taking into account what the faithful are saying. What the needs of the church really are.

BERMAN: Monsignor Rick Hilgartner, it is an extraordinary process. Thank you so much for helping to guide us through.

HILGARTNER: My pleasure.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thirty-eight minutes past the hour.

Other stories we're following for you this morning:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg promising to appeal a court ruling striking own his controversial ban on sugary soft drinks. It was actually to have started today. In his 11th hour ruling, the judge called the law banning drinks larger than 16 ounces arbitrary and capricious.

Bloomberg for his part said the court ruling is completely wrong, and that he is confident he's going to win an appeal.

BERMAN: He didn't agree with it one bit.


BERMAN: Not the slightest bit.

In just a few hours, former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will roll out the Republican budget plan. The Wisconsin Republican claims it will trim $4.6 trillion from the federal debt, and balance the budget in 10 years.

According to a Ryan op-ed piece in "The Wall Street Journal," the plan calls for increased oil drilling, he wants to repeal President Obama's health care reforms, he's also calling for an overhaul of the Medicare and welfare system, and rewriting the tax code with only two brackets at 10 percent and 25 percent.

SAMBOLIN: And take a look at this. It's the dramatic police rescue caught on camera.

Dash cam video shows Iowa police offering Zac McDowell without a minute to spare, pulling an unconscious man from this burning car. The car crashed into the side of a church in suburban Des Moines. It was Sunday night.

Others jumped in, and they are able to pull the driver out to safety. The officer was eventually able, also, to put the fire out.

BERMAN: Amazing.

SAMBOLIN: What a hero.

BERMAN: All right. So, ahead on EARLY START: a soggy start to the day for some across the nation. Jennifer Delgado will join us with a look at the nation's weather.

SAMBOLIN: And we're looking at live pictures also from the Vatican all morning long, where cardinals are celebrating a really special mass, right before heading to the Sistine Chapel a little later this morning. They are charged with electing the new pope.


BERMAN: All right, everyone, Soledad O'Brien joins us now with a look ahead at what's going on "STARTING POINT".

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Lots happening this morning.

Going to talk a little bit about the cardinal conclave that's starting today. A hundred and fifteen cardinals, that you guys have been talking about all morning, locked inside the Sistine Chapel. They'll begin the process of selecting a new pope.

Who's going to be the victor? Who'll they choose? We're live in Rome. We're live at the Vatican this morning for this history- changing event.

The New York City's mayor is planning to fight that ruling that made his ban on large sugary sodas invalid. We'll talk this morning with the city's health commissioner, and the spokesman for the New York Restaurant Association. Will the mayor win his appeal?

Plus, Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg's new book touching off a swirl of controversy about women and leadership. We'll talk this morning with Rachel Thomas. She works with Sandberg on her "Lean In" campaign. Sheryl Sandberg likes to talk about women should be leaning into their careers instead of backing out at the moment they feel like they're unable to move forward. We'll talk to her about that this morning.

BERMAN: She has launched a discussion that is just getting louder and louder by the minute.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I love it. I love it. It's so interesting to me.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Looking forward to it. Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Forty-five minutes past the hour. Get out your umbrellas. It's going to be a rainy start for parts of the east while some areas in the south actually begin to dry out. Jennifer Delgado is in the weather center with much more for us. Who's got a soggy commute this morning?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, we're talking areas from Tampa all the way up towards New England. Zoraida, John, you can see on the radar right now, things are lighting up, and really, we're talking some light rain. We're not talking any severe storms, but as we move into areas, including New England, this is going to be our big concern.

We are talking one to two inches of rainfall for areas, including Maine, as well as into parts of Massachusetts, and then to eastern regions of New York and that's because with a combination of one to two inches of rainfall for today and tomorrow, and then you add in mild temperatures and all that snow out there, this is going to be making for a messy, and particularly, dangerous commute for parts of New England.

You can see for yourself anywhere in green you're in the flood watch. Let's show you some video coming out of the Midwest just from yesterday, showing you the result of that snow melt that's happening there. You're also looking at ice jam. Again, this is coming out of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Now, as we take you back over to our graphics here, we want to show you it's not all bad out there.

Yes. The south is going to dry out, cooler conditions roll in through parts of the upper Midwest, and six inches of rainfall possible for parts of Washington as we go through Thursday, especially in the mountains. I also want to point out to you, of course, Miguel has been talking a lot about what's been happening in Rome and the rain there.

We have this radar for you, because I'm a weather nerd so I pull it up for you (ph). You can kind of see for yourself that cell that moved through that brought the hail as well as the strong winds. We'll continue to see bad weather conditions as we go through the next couple days, depending on how long this conclave happens. It could be bad.

SAMBOLIN: Well, it's nice that they have you, though, so that you can let them know what to expect.

DELGADO: Exactly.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

All right. So, next fall, when we're all talking about what we did on our summer vacation, basketball's Dennis Rodman may have a big, big, big story to tell.


SAMBOLIN: So, March madness is kind of in full?

BERMAN: Almost in full effect.

SAMBOLIN: And last night, Gonzaga, the number one team in the country, put an exclamation point on their argument that they should be the top seed for the NCAA tournament.

BERMAN: Jared Greenberg here with today's Bleacher Report. Hey, Jared.

JARED GREENBERG, BLEACHER REPORT: Hi, guys. You know, will number one please stand up? And this morning, as you mentioned, it is indeed Gonzaga. The polls have the school (ph) atop the rankings, and last night, the Zags backed it up. For the 15th straight year, Gonzaga is headed to the NCAA tournament.

Monday night, the Zags beat rival, St. Mary's, to win the west coast conference title all but locking up a top seed when the NCAA tournament is announced on Sunday. Four other teams punched their tickets for the -- last night, Western Kentucky, Davids and James Madison (ph), and the Gaels from Iona.

Super Bowl champ is on the move. The Ravens have shipped wider receiver, Anquan Boldin to the team. They beat in Super Bowl 47, all but had reportedly refused to restricture his salary. The Ravens were in need of making some financial adjustments after giving quarterback, Joe Flacco, the richest deal in NFL history.

One of the most exciting young players is also reportedly heading west. The Seattle Seahawks have sent draft picks to Minnesota in exchange for Percy Harvin. These past seasons, NFL MVP, Adrian Peterson, called Harvin the best player he has ever seen. They expect a busy day in the NFL. Free agency officially opens up at 4:00 p.m. eastern.

The Michael Vick book tour has been sacked. Reports have surfaced that credible threats of violence have caused organizers to cancel the quarterback's book signings in New Jersey and in his former home of Atlanta. In 2007, Vick served an 18-month prison sentence for his role in a dog fighting ring.

Dennis Rodman is making his summer vacation plans. The former NBA star says he's headed back to North Korea to hang with his quote/unquote "friend," Kim Jong-Un. Wait, it gets weirder. Listen.


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you anticipate going over there again?

RODMAN: Yes, I will, in August.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are going over there?

RODMAN: Yes, I'm vacationing, yes.


GREENBERG: And that's not all. According to TMZ, Rodman has his sights set on meeting the new pope. The flamboyant former NBA rebounding machine told TMZ he is jetting off to Rome and that his peeps are in contact with the folks at the Vatican trying to arrange a sit-down with the next pontiff.

The San Antonio Spurs made a statement last night, log on to to check out a recap from their first place showdown with the Thunder. BERMAN: Jared Greenberg, you're right, it does get weirder. But I want -- can I talk the NFL trades for one second?


BERMAN: Anquan Boldin sixth round pick for that guy. All he does is catching forth pases. Sixth round pick is all he can get back?

GREENBERG: They've got to pay him and that's the deal that San Francisco is saying. Listen, if we've got to pay these guys and restructure their deals, we're only going to give you a six-round pick. And right now, the Ravens have to figure out their salary structure trying to defend that championship and they've got to make a lot of different financial moves to make sure everybody is in place. But you're right, Joe Flacco, is going to miss Anquan Boldin in that offense.

SAMBOLIN: I got to tell you, Berman is already making predictions on who's going to win the Super Bowl.

BERMAN: The Seahawks, man. That Percy Harvin trade is a big deal for the Seahawks there. A dangerous team now. All right. Jared Greenberg, thank you for humoring us with our football talk here this morning.



BERMAN (voice-over): Fifty-four minutes after the hour. Officials at Harvard University offering a limited apology to some resident deans after admitting it conducted a secret search of their e-mail accounts. The school offered an apology to the deans if the deans felt that communication at the conclusion of the investigation was insufficient.

The search was sparked by the leak of a confidential e-mail about last year's cheating and plagiarism scandal.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Some frank words from former first lady, Laura Bush, about some of the Republican candidates who ran for office last fall. During an interview on CNN's "Erin Burnett Out Front," Mrs. Bush was asked about the emphasis some of them placed on social issues and how that impacted how women voted.


LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Every candidate was different, you know, each one of them. There were obvious examples of candidates that I think frightened some women, but they were the exception rather than the norm in the party.


SAMBOLIN: Mrs. Bush also said that she understands that people have different views on social issues, and that the Republican Party has room for all of those different viewpoints. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (on-camera): EARLY START back just after the break.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): We are all done at this EARLY START. Thanks for being with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, the papal conclave beginning today. 115 cardinals start the secret process to elect a new pope as the world waits for white smoke from within. We're live in Rome and at the Vatican this morning.

Then, a ban on large sugary drinks goes flat. Now, New York City's mayor set to fight a court ruling that stops his controversial law.

BERMAN: We have some outrageous video to show you. A toddler apparently putting his mouth to a bong, but that is only the beginning. We have the shocking details surrounding this story coming up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And up and up and up. The Dow set yet another record. Does this mean it's time to sell?

O'BRIEN: It's Tuesday, March 12th, and "Starting Point" begins right now.

Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning is the conclave day one. A 115 cardinals from around the world just finished celebrating a mass for the election of a new pope. A memorable event when Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, paid tribute to the former pope. Here's what he said.


CARDINAL ANGELO SODANO, DEAN OF COLLEGE OF CARDINALS (through translator): Such an interior attitude is ours today as we wish to offer ourselves to Christ, to the father who's in heaven, to thank him for the loving assistance that he always reserves for the holy church.

And in particular, for the brilliant pontificate that he granted to us through the life and the work of the 265th successor of Peter, the beloved and venerable pontiff, Benedict XVI, to whom we renew in this moment all of our gratitude.