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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Conclave Day 1: Selecting a Pope; Interview with Cardinal Edward Egan; NYC Supersize Soda Ban Fizzles; Interview with Andrew Moesel

Aired March 12, 2013 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome everybody, our STARTING POINT THIS MORNING, the process to elect a pope begins in just a few hours. 115 cardinals will gather for the papal conclave. Happens behind closed doors at the Sistine Chapel. The world, of course, will watch from that outside and watch for white smoke or black smoke. We're live in Rome following this historic event.

And a little bit of hiccup for New York City's soda ban. A judge overturns the ban. Now, there are vows from the mayor that they'll appeal.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Congressman Paul Ryan introducing his new budget plan today. Democrats are already criticizing it. Is a compromise even possible?

And a college student survives getting caught in an avalanche. He films surviving the whole thing. He has this jaw-dropping video and the story, ahead.

O'BRIEN: It's Tuesday, March 12th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody.

Our team this morning: Kathryn Rosman is a reporter for "The Wall Street Journal", joining us this morning.

Alex McCord is from VH1's "Couples Therapy". She's also the author of "Little Kids, Big City", and was on Bravo's "Real Housewives of New York."

Rachel Thomas is the president of Lean In, which is created in conjunction with Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg's new book by the same name.

Our STARTING POINT this morning is 1.2 billion Catholics who are waiting for the 115 cardinals to select their new spiritual leader. It's conclave, day number one. And the cardinals just finished celebrating special mass at the Vatican for the election of a new pope.

There was a memorable moment the Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who's the dean of the College of Cardinals, paid tribute to the former pope.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARDINAL ANGELO SODANO, DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS (through translator): Such an interior attitude is ours today as we wish to offer ourselves with Christ to the Father who is 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 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.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: In just three hours, they'll be leaving the residence, the Casa Santa Marta, and they'll begin their march to the Sistine Chapel, where they'll be shuttered from the rest of the world to begin their votes this afternoon. All eyes will be on the copper chimney, which sets above the Sistine Chapel, everybody looking for signs of smoke, a signal that the cardinals have, in fact, voted.

I want to take you right to Rome. CNN's Chris Cuomo is covering this historic event for us.

Hey, Chris. Good morning.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How are you, Soledad?

You know, on one level, this is now all about the numbers. Tonight, they're going to have their first vote. You have the 115 cardinals who are trying to find 266th pope. The magic number, of course, is 77. That's what you need because the church rule that the winner, the pope, receives 2/3 majority vote plus one. So 77 is that magic number.

But on another level, this is something unquantifiable. A Vatican insider told us this time is different, now, for two reasons. Pope Benedict XVI resigned. That hadn't been done in 600 years. But there is a deeper reason this is different. He said that the church hasn't faced issues like it does now in a long time. He said this could be a watershed moment, financial responsibility, responsibility coming out of the sex abuse scandal -- major issues that they will have to put on the shoulders of the man who becomes pope at the end of this process.

And that why is why many believe, Soledad, this conclave could go longer than the last one did that made Joseph Ratzinger, then the dean of cardinals, Pope Benedict.

O'BRIEN: Chris Cuomo for us.

The perfect person to talk about that is Cardinal Edward Egan. He is former archbishop of New York and he knows Cardinal Timothy Dolan quite well.

It's nice to have you with us, Cardinal. Appreciate it.

CARDINAL EDWARD EGAN, RETIRED ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK: It's great to be with you, Soledad. Thank you for the invitation.

O'BRIEN: My pleasure. My pleasure.

We were hearing Chris Cuomo talk about the length of time this could take. And he was suggesting this conclave could actually be longer than the last, part of the reason that there's no specific front- runner that everybody is pointing to. And I know it sounds very much like campaigning for office.

EGAN: Sure.

O'BRIEN: I think for those of us who have never spent any time in Rome or at the Vatican, we sort of see it as a campaign.

Why -- do you agree with what he's saying?

EGAN: Well, I always agree with Chris. And I agree with all of the Cuomos. I might mention that when I became a cardinal, Chris' mother came to Rome with me, and so I will certainly never contradict a Cuomo.

But I would say this, that there is not so much a front-runner or non- front-runner. It's simply a question of identifying someone who fulfills the characteristics we are all looking for.

O'BRIEN: Which is what? What are the top five things that a pope should have?

EGAN: Isn't Soledad great? I'll give you five, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: You can give me three if you like.

EGAN: No, I'll give you five.

Count -- the first one. First of all, Soledad, the person who is chosen has to be someone who loves to pray, leads public prayer with great enthusiasm and devotion and prays privately and continually. That's number one.

O'BRIEN: OK.

EGAN: Number two, Soledad, we look for a cardinal who will become the pope and is one who can repeat the message of the gospel, attractively and completely, and with great fervor.

O'BRIEN: A good communicator, number three.

EGAN: Number three. It has to be someone who can lead the faithful in the great issues of our day, and I identify them for you.

O'BRIEN: OK.

EGAN: Justice, compassion, and peace. Number four. It has to be someone who knows how to -- they like to say in Rome, govern. How to administrate, how to run a world-wide organization, and that doesn't mean you do everything yourself. It means that you find others who do things for you and with you.

O'BRIEN: Got to be a good manager.

EGAN: And did you wait for the fifth?

O'BRIEN: I'm ready.

EGAN: It has to be someone who can handle criticism. And handle it with great calm, and with total trust in the Lord.

If that is lacking, you are in trouble.

BERMAN: Are you sure you're not interested? That was very impressive.

(LAUGHTER)

EGAN: Well, I'll tell you -- I am interested, but I'm not available. Somehow or another the years passed and I am 80 years old and therefore not available. I also not as healthy as I used to be, I asked the doctor why. And he said 1932.

And so, I'm believing that is exactly the situation. Maybe 1932 is the reason I'm not voting either.

O'BRIEN: So, who -- given that list of five with the three sub-lists under item number three, who do you pick then personally if it were up to you, and you're not obviously part of the conclave. Who are your top choices for the perfect person for this gig is?

EGAN: Well, I would love to answer that, Soledad. Anyone with the name like Soledad O'Brien.

O'BRIEN: Maria de la Soledad Teresa O'Brien. I am named for the Virgin Mary.

EGAN: (SPEAKING SPANISH)

I would never name anyone, but I would say that the choices are broader than they used to be. I have been involved believe it or not in an awful lot of conclaves.

O'BRIEN: How many?

EGAN: I was living in Rome -- she wants numbers.

(LAUGHTER)

EGAN: How about four?

O'BRIEN: Wow, OK. EGAN: All right? I was living in Rome teaching at the North American College when Paul VI was elected. And all of the cardinals in the United States and Canada were living with us. I listened to the consulate breakfast, lunch and supper throughout the day.

Then, for John Paul I and II, I was the judge of the Rota, the Supreme Court, you might say, of the Catholic Church. And for hundreds and hundreds of years, judges were assigned -- there were 14 of us, to guard the cardinals in the conclave.

I wish you could have seen us. Some of us were to tottering at 75 and so forth. We weren't great guards.

But nonetheless --

O'BRIEN: Were they trying to escape or something? I mean --

EGAN: No --

O'BRIEN: I only think of cardinals as such a civilized --

EGAN: To see if others didn't come in. We each had a door. I was assigned a door for both of those conclaves. So, you remember this extra amness (ph). Let everyone leave.

Well, most who are to leave is the 14 Rota judges who did the guarding. When they say leave, we leave, along with a doctor and a few others. So, that's three.

And then I was a voter and an elector during the election, the conclave for Benedict XVI, and I just came back from Rome. And I said good-bye to Pope Benedict, and he told me I was to come back and tell New York how grateful he was for perhaps his most successful visit anywhere, here in the center of the world.

And then I attended all sorts of meetings with the cardinals and then two of the congregations. These are those formal meetings and preliminary to the conclave, and when that was over, I said, I don't have a vote, I better go back home and see CNN, with Soledad O'Brien and get the inside story day by day.

O'BRIEN: If you are coming to me for the inside story on the cardinals and I feel very sorry for you.

Here's my question, my final question: Cardinal Dolan, there are some people who believe, in fact, he could be selected -- elected as pope. He said this, "I've got a better chance of following A-Rod at third base for the Yankees than following Benedict XVI as the bishop of Rome."

EGAN: Can I make a little comment on that?

O'BRIEN: You certainly may.

EGAN: Many years ago I was chairman of the board of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, the college where they are living at now. And I was looking for a new rector. And I knew I wanted Father Dolan from St. Louis.

So, I got on a plane, and went over and saw Cardinal Piolagi (ph), who was the head of the congregation for Catholic education and would make the decision. And I went in and I said I want Father Dolan to be the rector of the American College.

And he said, (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE), you don't do things that way. And I said, (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE), in Rome you do that, you know? Here are my reasons and here are 13 letters from the 13 members of the board of trustees. We want Father Dolan.

So we went in and have lunch, and he said, you can go home and have your Father Dolan. So, I've known him that long. And we are very good friends. I like him very much.

O'BRIEN: Will he be pope?

EGAN: Will he be pope? Any one of 115 could be pope.

O'BRIEN: Sir, if you were a politician, we would say are you dodging that a little bit. But we'll see.

EGAN: I studied my politics in Chicago under Richard J. Daley.

O'BRIEN: Cardinal Egan, it's so nice to have you. My pleasure. We appreciate you dropping by to be with us.

EGAN: Nice to be with you. My pleasure. All the best.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

John Berman is going to take a look at some of the other stories making news this morning.

BERMAN: What great discussion that was.

Other news around the world right now: we now know that all five people who died in the deadly helicopter crash were Americans. According to a government spokesman, the Black Hawk helicopter lost control and went down near Kandahar province near Kandahar city. Bad weather appears to be to blame. Coalition forces say there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash. There have been 18 coalition deaths so far this year.

House Republicans released their budget plan. Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the former vice presidential candidate, claims the proposal will balance the budget in 10 years and reduce the federal deficit by $4.5 trillion in that time.

In a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed, Ryan calls for increased oil drilling, the repeal of President Obama's health care reforms, and overhaul of Medicare and welfare systems, and rewriting the tax code so that here are just bracket at 10 percent and 25 percent.

Vigils and prayers from the Gulf Coast to the West Coast for a missing teacher from California who vanished in New Orleans. Twenty-six-year- old Terrilynn Monette was last seen leaving a New Orleans area bar in the morning of March 2nd. Her car is also still missing. Police say they have no suspects in her disappearance.

A college student in a ski trip to the Montana-Idaho border got swept up in an avalanche and he has helmet cam video to prove it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEREMY IRONS, SURVIVED AVALANCE: I could feel it building up behind me, like more and more pressure on my back, pushing me harder and harder into the tree and finally, I heard the wood splintering and went through the tree and the tree got taken down the hill with the avalanche as well (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: He has a future as an extreme cameraman.

Twenty-two-year-old Jeremy Irons was completely buried. Luckily his friends had the correct gear to find him, and dig him out within minutes. He walked away with just dislocated shoulder and bruises and some great footage.

O'BRIEN: And a great footage and he lived to tell the tale.

All right. John, thank you.

Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning: New York City's soda ban goes flat. The mayor plans to fight for it. We'll tell you why restaurants consider this a major victory.

Back in just a moment.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back. The supersized sugary drinks are intact. A judge struck down the city's ban of extra-large sugar filled beverages just hours before it was sent to take effect. Mayor Bloomberg, though, says he's not going to give up the fight. He plans to appeal. CNNs Mary Snow has developments for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a first 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.

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 effect, 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 convenience stores were also exempt. But the mayor has vowed to appeal.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (I) NEW YORK: If we are series 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 larger beverage sales.

(on-camera) This is the smallest size, it's 44ounces. This is the smallest, it's 22 ounces.

(voice-over) The theater would have to 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Independent theater like ours, it's a pretty significant hit.

SNOW: The portion control battle continues on late night.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (on-camera): Now, that movie theater you just saw held off making any changes until the lawsuit was resolved. That business along with others will now wait for a judge to make the final decision.

O'BRIEN: Right. It's all about the appeal right now. I want to get to Andrew Moesel. He's a spokesperson for the New York Restaurant Association. Nice to have you.

ANDREW MOESEL, SPOKESMAN, NEW YORK RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION: Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: They're both with us this morning. So, we'll start with you, Andrew. The mayor, of course, says he's going to appeal. And when we spoke earlier to the guy who runs the Department of Health, for him, he seems very confident that he can win on appeal.

MOESEL: I mean, I would like to start out by saying that we're pleasantly surprised by the decision. I don't think anyone, even in our industry, thought we were going to win, but not just favorable decision, the emphaticness of the judge's ruling, I think, actually, leaves some very little space to appeal, because, pretty much, we won on all of the merits of the arguments that we're making over the last several months.

The judge said this was arbitrary and capricious. He said that it creates an uneven playing field in terms of the economic environment, and he said that the Department of Health doesn't have the broad authority, the things he does, to do something like this.

O'BRIEN: So, again, Dr. Farley, who works for Mayor Bloomberg, obviously, says, in fact, that he does believe certainly the issue of do they have the ability to, in fact, oversee this, the Department of Health, they do. Here's what he told me earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. THOMAS FARLEY, COMMISSIONER, NYC DEPT. OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE: The Department of Health (INAUDIBLE) rule for banning trans- fats in restaurants and then likewise had some complexity to it. The board of Health regulates what it can, and what a can here do was very (ph) appropriate.

Now, again, our lawyers think we're going to win on appeal, but more important, this is really crucial for health. We have a major problem with obesity in New York City.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: parts of the reason you were surprised is because you kind of lost a lot of these, right? You lost the whole calorie count issue. You lost on the trans-fat issue here in New York City. So, do you worry that an appeal, you will be eventually 0-3.

MOESEL: Well, I'd like to see a lawyer that says they weren't going to win a case, but, you know, we're very confident. We have great legal team working on this, and we did a good job in the original decision. I think we're going to do a good job on appeal.

O'BRIEN: The part of the argument about health which Dr. Farley referred to at the end, has been supported by research, right? I mean, there's a new study out, I have it here, right, which is this one. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill actually comes out today and (INAUDIBLE) tilt today this morning.

"Sugar sweetened beverages are primarily responsible for higher caloric intakes that children consume compared to kids that don't. In addition, those beverages are associated with higher intake of healthy foods."

So, those bigger drinks are connected to just taking in more calories, they're also connected -- those calories are unhealthy calories. So, in a way, congratulations on a victory, but aren't you standing up for something that ultimately is unhealthy for children and adults, too?

MOESEL: Well, the one thing that our association, the restaurant industry and the mayor and the commissioner agree on is that education is really the best way to solve this problem. Obesity is a big problem in this country. The restaurant industry has taken a lot of voluntary steps to address it. We think that government does have a place in fighting this problem, but we think it's been enabling people to make healthy decision by themselves.

O'BRIEN: Yes, but people often don't, right? The reality is that, you know, most of us wouldn't put on seatbelts, unless, we were aware that there is a law that said we had to, and so, we do that, or, people who wanted to smoke would go ahead and smoke in a New York City restaurant until there's a law that says, in fact, you now have to smoke outside.

So, sometimes, we enhance what is a good decision or healthy decision by telling people these are the rules.

MOESEL: Well, we don't think it's good public policy to essentially further this kind of educational debate by telling people what they can and can't do, in this case, being portion sizes. I mean, it's a very slippery slope. We do it with soda today, might be smoking, the next thing you know, maybe you can only have X amount of calories when you go to McDonald's.

I mean, we already have calorie counts so we know how many calories -- of the things that we're ordering. It's not that far of a leap to say that, well, you can only get X amount in each thing. So, we think that this would have set a very bad precedent for the industry and really for, you know, choice of Americans.

O'BRIEN: We'll see what happens in the appeal. Same way we left it earlier with Mayor Bloomberg's head of the Department of Health. Andrew Moesel, nice to have you with us. We appreciate it. Congratulations on your victory. It must be -- it was seemed to be a surprise to everybody on both sides of the issue.

All right. We got to take a break. Just ahead, we're going to a look, though, at spring break, an embarrassing moment for ball girl.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a fair ball. Right over the bag and --

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Going viral this morning. We'll tell you about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Knocked it down. No idea that she's interfered with the play.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN (on-camera): Trending online this morning, spring training for the ball girls also. Take a look at kind of an embarrassing moment for a hooter's waitress ball girl. So much in that, isn't there? During a spring training game in Florida, she fields a baseball, hands it to a fan, only that wasn't a foul ball. That was a fair ball. That ball was actually still in play. Apparently, the Phillies use hooter's workers a lot in the spring training games since the original hooters is just a mile from their facility --

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that's why --

O'BRIEN: That's why. They needed some people who were geographically closed by. And they thought that --

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: They don't use them as ball people.

O'BRIEN: No, no, no. They wanted these particular people to be employees on the baseball field.

BERMAN: Interesting.

O'BRIEN: Well, they probably have to go back and train everybody on that.

Up next, we're following history this morning just a few hours until the 115 cardinals begin the process of choosing the next pope. We're live in Rome right after the break.

And then, an Ohio town is mourning the loss of six teenagers as we learn more information about the car crash. The superintendent of born city (ph) schools will join us live to talk about that.

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