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Interview with Cardinal Dolan; Interview With Sen. John Barrasso

Aired March 14, 2013 - 08:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to begin with CNN's Chris Cuomo. He's live for us in London this morning. He's with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who's the archbishop of New York, who was in the conclave to elect Pope Francis.

Nice to have you, gentlemen, with us this morning.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It's great to be with you, Soledad. Here with the one and only Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, NEW YORK ARCHBISHOP: Great to be with a New Yorker, Chris.

CUOMO: I have to tell you, I know that you are in a complete celebratory mood. But there was a little piece of my heart that was hoping that this interview would have never been possible.

DOLAN: Thanks for optimism. I'm flattered. But I never had that concern, Chris. Believe me. I am thrilled with what happened.

CUOMO: You seem -- you always of happy spirit. You seem extraordinarily happy today. What does this mean for you?

DOLAN: I am. And for a couple of reasons. I think every Catholic is happy. It's tough for a non-Catholic to understand how Catholics look to the pope, even those who might be a little disenfranchised from the church.

The pope is important to us. We call him our Holy Father and haven't had one since February 28th. And that bothers us, an empty chair at the table. And we don't like that.

So whoever it would have been as a Catholic, I would have rejoiced. When we hear those words, habemus papam, we've got a pope again. You just want -- you just want to applaud. And you want to -- tears come to your eye. That we've got this particular one even enhances that sense of joy that I feel.

CUOMO: You keep pointing out first to me about this. We were obviously in the media been talking about the first South American pope.


CUOMO: Pope Francis.

But you keep hearing them. The feast of St. Joseph, you believe there's almost el destino in play. That it's fated.

DOLAN: We've got to -- even though he is shy and humble as you have already seen, he radiates an interior strength and energy. And it's already clear to me he has a great sense of the power of symbol. Can I give you a couple?

CUOMO: Please?

DOLAN: When he came out after getting his white on, you know? So, he comes out from the little dressing room and we all applaud again, he's supposed to go up on the steps to a platform and sit on the white throne, then we're each supposed to come to him and kneel in front of him to give him our love and our loyalty.

So, as attendants begin to take him by the arm, he just said, no, I'm going to stay down here and greet each of my brothers. Now, that's a powerful sign, literally on our level, OK?

Number two, we heard, we didn't know it because we were locked up. We heard it was pouring down rain out there. There was a big crowd in the square.

So, he says -- there met all of the cardinals, and then there were about other 100 people to meet and he says to them, you're going to be around, right, because we can hear them. They said, yes, Holy Father, we're with you for the rest of the life. He said, "Good, I'll talk to you afterward. I don't want to keep the folks waiting. They've been waiting for me for a long time. Let's get out there." Powerful symbol, isn't it?

You mentioned Francis. He said, because after the cardinal dean says, will you accept? When he said, "Accepto." And then when they said what name -- by what name do you want to be called? He said Francis and quickly says after St. Francis of Assisi, it was another first. Nobody thought of that.

You know, when you think of things, such a beautiful symbol and drama to this, you think who will it be? Secondly, what name will he take, you know? When he said, Francis, you heard the whole College of Cardinals went wow. Whatever that is Italian, I don't know.

CUOMO: Obviously, you are in your own world with the 115, making this decision outside, everyone is speculating, the pope's name is Cardinal Bergoglio, was not in (INAUDIBLE) ph) -- out of the mainstream.

DOLAN: No, you're right.

Now, I was fascinated by that, in the College of Cardinals, he was a clear candidate. Everybody knew of him, he's been archbishop of one of the most diverse, complex, largest archdiocese in the world and he's done an amazing pastoral job, OK? So, you just admire him.

He was there at the last conclave, OK? So the 40 percent of the College of Cardinals in the conclave after Blessed John Paul II knew him, respected him.

To us, it was no surprise. But are you right, Chris -- the rest of the world seems to have been startled.

CUOMO: So when you look at him now, OK? Immediately, he will come out, there are all of these beautiful details about what makes him new. New is a very key word for the Catholic Church right now, because there's a sense for need for renewal.


CUOMO: What do you think Pope Francis can do that will give a sense of renewal to the Catholic Church?

DOLAN: You got it, Chris, because the Catholic Church is ever ancient, ever new. It's a beautiful blend. You know, sometimes we look to our church as a grandmother. Sometimes we look to her as a young bride.

So there's got to be that combination of things immutable and things that are timely. He will do it well. All we can do is look at his track record, OK? And amazingly simple and sincere transparent man, a man who deeply loves the poor, a man who thee logically well grounded in the timeless doctrine of the church, OK? And a man who knows how to govern.

Now, we're going to begin to see those kinds of things. I think there may be a touch of simplicity, sincerity, openness. I think he's going to tend to the Roman Curia, which is the central government of the church universal, which we all said, have you been reporting it well, probably needs some tending too, right? What government doesn't?

We look to D.C., we Americans are saying there need to be some changes there. I think we'll see some stuff.

CUOMO: You think that's the prospect of him as a reformer, more than on the social, liberal agenda level of what's he going to do about women? What will do about celibacy? What will do about gay marriage?

Do you think he would move the church on any of those? You think that's not going to be his path?

DOLAN: No, I don't think he'll do that. He can't as you know, can't really tamper with what's called the deposit of faith, which he gratefully inherits, now, which is his job to pass on faithfully to the next generation. He can't change any substance, the givens, but, boy, can he ever change the way it's presented.

And I think he's shrewd enough, because he's been a pastor in a huge diocese to say, you know what? I love the traditional teachings of the church. I'm as loyal to them as the day is long, but also recognizing that a lot of them aren't going over.

Now, I can't change them, I don't want to change them. They come to us from the Lord, as part of the Revelation. But we better work on a more tantalizing, attractive compelling way to present them. And I think he'll do that brilliantly.

CUOMO: I am fascinated. I understand it's secret. I understand contillave. You know, the key, you're locked way. What was it like in there for you? You know, I took a picture of you when you put your hand to reflect the oath.

DOLAN: The oath.

CUOMO: Don't worry about it, it was on the house.

DOLAN: I did it with my fingers closed.

CUOMO: No. You look like he were taking it seriously. You're staring up at the frescos. It's beautiful.

DOLAN: Who could not? You know, a kid Dolan (ph), all of a sudden, I'm looking around in the Sistine Chapel. Boy.

CUOMO: So, what's it like? It's like the best known secret process in the world. You're in there as a cardinal, voting on a man who's going to be the head, the father. What is it like?

DOLAN: Sure. I can tell you what it's like.

First of all, it's not all fun and games. It's very intense, and it's very emotionally draining, because you think about it night and day. I mean, this is one of the most important things I ever have to do, to vote for the new successor of Peter. So there is a lot of intensity.

But yet there is also, Chris, balancing that. There's a remarkable -- I don't know how to explain this. You know me, a pretty hard boiled guy. I don't think people would call me kind of pious. I hope I'm holy, but they wouldn't call me devotional or pious. There is a beautiful sense of the gentle movement of the Holy Spirit.

No thunder and lightning, no sledgehammers, no people getting knocked off their horse, but you gradually sense a movement towards a man, and you pray hard, you talk a lot to one another, and there is a gradual movement to it that I found just generated a lot of joy and serenity.

CUOMO: Were you trying to look at anybody's ballots?


DOLAN: I may be Irish, but I wouldn't stoop to that.

CUOMO: Walking it up in your hand with it in your hand, having the moment of your life to walk with your ballot.

DOLAN: To go up and make another oath, you know, and then to put it on this beautiful -- you put it on the tray and take it so that it goes in, those are -- those are stunning moments and there is silence, most of the conclave is silent, see? It's not a caucus, it's not a convention, it's almost like a liturgy. It's an occasion of prayer.

It's carefully prescribed that you begin and end with prayer, so it's very quiet. It's almost like you are at a retreat, where there is a lot of thought and prayer, reflection going on.

CUOMO: Cardinal Dolan, thank you so much for the insight.

DOLAN: I hope to be with you again. I'll be here until St. Joseph's Day, on March 19th.

CUOMO: Beautiful.

DOLAN: Is that announced yet that it's going to be the mass?

CUOMO: Can we get a good meal in this town while we're waiting?

DOLAN: Oh, I think so.

Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Cardinal, thank you very much.

DOLAN: Happy St. Patrick's day at home. I can't believe I'm missing it. I got a green --

CUOMO: Did you get the socks from my mom? The green socks?

DOLAN: They didn't fit.


Soledad, back to you in New York.

Mom --


O'BRIEN: Chris Cuomo talking to the cardinal.

Amazing, amazing interview and such great insight into all of the happenings.

A couple of things I thought were amazing. The story of how he told the pope left the cardinals, basically said, you guys going to be around, because I actually want to talk to the people. I think that really set a tone in the sense of how he'll put people hierarchically maybe.

BISHOP DAVID O'CONNELL, TRENTON, NEW JERSEY: Nobody says it as well or as joyfully as Dolan.

O'BRIEN: Laughing through the entire interview.

O'CONNELL: Some of the things he said of the new pope are things that could be said of him. He puts a very good, positive, joyful face on some very difficult teachings, and for some very difficult experiences, and I think that change of tone maybe is the key difference that we're going to see in this particular pontificate.

O'BRIEN: Chris, it was interesting I thought when he described, not just who has been chosen as pope, but the idea and the name that was chosen, that was a surprise to the cardinals as well.

CHRIS FRATES, REPORTER, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Absolutely. And it's been very fun to hear folks talk about it. And to hear that it's so different than from the political process that you think that there is the silence and this prayer and that there is almost a meditation on who do you choose?

And I want to ask you, Fathers, when this happens, what should we be looking for? All of the talk about this new pope what will be like. But you said a positive tone. Will any of the teachings change? Are we looking toward reformer in that mode of Francis?

O'BRIEN: He's taking a reformer's name.

FRATES: Exactly.

O'CONNELL: I think Cardinal Dolan said it well. The core teachings, the constitutive elements of what the church teaches and believes will not change.

O'BRIEN: We talked to Shasta Darlington who was reporting from Buenos Aires. She was saying how he loves his routine. He would turn down sort of the better housing and the bigger housing and the official housing so that he could stay in his third floor apartment.

All that has -- that seem to be very personally important to him that, of course, is going to completely change now.

RICK HILGARTNER, CNN CNTRIBUTOR: Well, not totally. Last night, it's reported that he rode on the bus back to the Dumos Santa Marta back with the cardinals.

O'CONNELL: He had the papal entourage, papal limousine ready for him.

O'BRIEN: He says, you guys go ahead.

O'CONNELL: He say, I'm going to go on the bus with the guys.


But he -- I mean, to what degree can you do that as pope?

O'CONNELL: You saw just from the very beginning, he didn't wear the traditional vestments when the pope wears when he comes out. He didn't have the red cape and stole.

O'BRIEN: Right.

O'CONNELL: And you get little glimpses that he is going to do it the way he thinks it needs to be done.

O'BRIEN: It's going to be so interesting to cover him.

HILGARTNER: (INAUDIBLE), this morning and everybody has been fascinated with Benedict's shoes. It looks like he still had his black suit on underneath. O'BRIEN: So interesting.

O'CONNELL: Beautiful to see him walk into the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, that is such an incredible place with an incredible history. And to see him walk there and to kneel down and pray to the blessed mother as he said he would do last night to really put himself, his papacy, the church in the hands of Mary, our mother.

Very consistent with Latin American approach to things. The blessed mother so important in the spirituality of Latin Americans.

O'BRIEN: Right.

I hope Chris Cuomo gets a good meal in Rome.


O'BRIEN: He's in Rome, it will be fine. I'm just kidding.

John Berman has a look at some of the other stories making news.


So, another Carnival cruise liner apparently experiencing some problems this morning. This time, it's the Carnival Dream in port right now in St. Maarten in the Caribbean. U.S. Coast Guard says Carnival cruise line did notify them of generator issues, but has not requested assistance. Several passengers have contacted CNN with stories of power outages and overflowing toilets.



PASSENGER: They said they were working on the ship and then there was the generators were having a problem. And an hour later they said the problem is worse than they expected. There's human waste all over the floor in some of the bathrooms and they're overflowing.


BERMAN: A carnival representative told CNN he wasn't aware of a problem. Several calls since to the cruise line have gone unanswered.

It is day two of the rape trial in Steubenville, Ohio. Two high school football stars charged with sexually assaulting a visibly intoxicated 16-year-old girl and according to prosecutors, treating her like a toy.


MARIANNE HEMMETER, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Although this is a rape case, this case doesn't hinge or even revolve around issues of force or consent. Rather, this case hinges on (EXPLETIVE DELETED) substantial impairment, and what that means as a matter of law.


BERMAN: The alleged victim's condition at the time of the incident is a critical part of the state's case.

Other news now, Texas Equusearch is joining the search for missing school teacher Terrilynn Monette. A similar team is searching Louisiana bayous for any sign of the 26-year-old or her car when it was last seen March 2nd outside a New Orleans area bar where she was celebrating her nomination as teacher of the year.

A California skydiver talking about this morning about his just terrifying fall after both his parachutes failed. Craig Stapleton's main chute got tangled last Sunday while he was diving over California. His backup chute, also tangled. He began to spin there.

He hit the ground at 30 miles an hour, and -- get this -- it was just a few feet from iron stakes that hold up grapevines at a local vineyard.


CRAIG STAPLETON, SKYDIVER: I landed parallel to the grapes. One of my last thoughts before I hit was I really hope I don't hit an iron spike, because it will would be messy. I knew it was bad when I was living it, and when I saw the video, I was like, wow, that's a lot worse than I thought. You know, how did I walk away from that? How did I manage to survive?


BERMAN: Aw! Stapleton suffered a just -- just a separated shoulder and some bumps and bruises. He says he will take this weekend off, but he's going to get back to jumping out of airplanes later this month.

O'BRIEN: You know, someone tweeted to me that the old-style chute that was actually landing at 30 miles an hour was kind of have been the design, that that's how years and years ago, that was the speed at which you would land.

BERMAN: -- to me.

O'BRIEN: Seems horrific. I mean, think of all the reasons why you should not skydive. That's one of them.

CHRIS FRATES, REPORTER, NATIONAL JOURNAL: When I jumped, it was a nice easy landing, not 30 miles per hour.

BERMAN: No iron spikes.

FRATES: No iron spikes.

O'BRIEN: No iron spikes.


O'BRIEN: It could be messy.


O'BRIEN: Talking about the understatement.


O'BRIEN: Can you imagine? Seriously. Never again. That would be a sign this is not for me.

FRATES: It's over.

O'BRIEN: Completely, yes.

So, President Obama meets with Republican senators today after he didn't quite charm House members on the Hill yesterday. Can he make any steps toward peace? One of the senators who will be in today's meeting is Wyoming senator, John Barrasso, and he's going to join us up next.

And then, teachers accused of putting sleeping pills in their students' drinks, even duct taping them? No, I am not making this up. What is going on? Those reports straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Today, back to Capitol Hill for President Obama. This is now the third day that he's reaching out to members of Congress. Two meetings today with Senate Republicans and the House Democrats. Last night, the president talked to supporters about this outreach.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over the last several weeks, the press here in Washington has been reporting about Obama's charm offensive. Well, you know, the truth of the matter is, all I've been doing is just calling up folks and trying to see if we can break through some of the -- some of the gobbledygook of our politics here.


O'BRIEN: Senator John Barrasso a Republican senator from Wyoming. He's the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee. He's going to be on those meetings today with the president. Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being back with us. We appreciate it.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO, (R) WYOMING: Thank you, Soledad. Great to be with you today.

O'BRIEN: Thank you. Appreciate that. So, you know, it was interesting to listen to Speaker Boehner's assessment of how these meetings are going, because he sort of said, well, this and this, which were completely contradictory. I'm going to play a little bit of what the speaker said.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: Republicans want to balance the budget, the president doesn't. The Republicans want to solve our long-term debt problem, the president doesn't. We want to unlock our energy resources to put more Americans back to work, the president doesn't. But having said that, today was a good start. And, I hope that these kinds of discussions can continue.


O'BRIEN: It was so funny. When I was watching that press, I literally laughed out loud after he listed all the ways that which had been pretty terrible, and you guys are far, far apart, clearly, then, you're like -- but, you know, it was a good start. So, my question would be, are you hopeful out of this considering the long list that the speaker has laid out, which seems not very hopeful?

BARRASSO: Well, I welcome the president. I think we're going to have a frank and candid discussion about the key issues facing our country. Jobs, the economy, debt, debt, and the spending and we need to actually get solutions. I wish the president had started doing this, Soledad, four years ago instead of just recently.

But we need to get solutions. We need to get the country moving ahead, and I welcome opportunities to work in a bipartisan way to get the country moving.

FRATES: Hey, senator, Chris Frates of "National Journal" here. When I sought (ph) to Republicans on the Hill, they all tell me that the meetings that everyone should be watching are the meetings that the president is having with moderate senators, your colleagues, and I wonder, how hopeful are you that your moderate colleagues could get some kind of deal that could drive a piece of legislation through the Senate and over to the House?

BARRASSO: Well, at a time of divided government, that's when you have the best opportunities to really accomplish the big things, and we need to accomplish the big jobs now of making sure that Medicare and Social Security are there, just -- not just for people today, but for the next generation. You know, people have paid into these programs, and for every $1, people have paid in, they're getting about $3 out in benefits in terms of Medicare.

So, we have to reform these programs and the best way to do it is at a time of divided government. The president, though, has to lead his party to agreeing to the changes that have to be made in an effort to save these programs long term.

O'BRIEN: Yesterday, it was a Senator Patty Murray who released the Democrats' budget version, increase tax revenue, ending some of the breaks by closing loopholes, cuts in domestic and also defense spending, new spending, though, on infrastructure. I think we have a graphic of what exactly the budget has, some of the elements in it.

$975 billion revenue increase to close these tax loopholes, $975 spending cuts, some domestic, some defense, interest savings as well, $100 billion for road, bridge repairs, and worker training on that list. What do you make in the broad strokes of what the Democrats have now proposed?

BARRASSO: Well, it's another trillion dollars of tax increases coming right on the heels of the president's health care law, which is a trillion dollars of tax increases. So, you take a look at that, and the American taxpayers are saying we've had enough of taxes. They believe half of the money they send to Washington right now is being wasted.

The other problem with Patty Murray's budget is, it never gets to balance. Never. Paul Ryan's budget balances in 10 years, and there's a fundamental difference there in terms of the kind of debt that we, as a nation, continue to have. I was traveling around Wyoming.

You go to schools and they know we continue -- students know we continue to borrow a lot of money every day just to stay ahead, and a lot of it we're borrowing from China. And we don't want to continue to do that.

O'BRIEN: Right. But Paul Ryan's budget balances in 10 years because of the big chunk in the middle of it is killing Obamacare, which people have said, I think, reasonably is not going to happen. So, sure, it balances, but that's not going to happen.

BARRASSO: Well, Paul Ryan's budget balances and actually spending increases every year under Paul Ryan's budget just doesn't increase as fast as it does in the Democrat's budget. The Federal Reserve, Soledad, last week, came out with a report that talks about the impacts of the health care law on the economy and on jobs. And it is hurting jobs.

This is the Federal Reserve in their monthly report, talking about the bad impact of the health care law because of the consequences within the law so that businesses, due to the uncertainty, aren't hiring. When they do hire, they're hiring part-time workers instead of full- time workers and that's why we're still at almost eight percent unemployment in this country.

O'BRIEN: Can I ask you a quick question before I let you go? You're a featured speaker at CPAC which starts today and two biggies who are not invited at CPAC would be the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, and Virginia governor, Bob McDonnell. What do you make of their omissions?

BARRASSO: Well, I'm not on the committee.


O'BRIEN: Right, but still.

BARRASSO: I'm delighted to be invited. This is their focus on kind of the next generation. It's going to be a very youthful crowd, looking to hear about the view for the future, and I'm looking forward to visiting with them about the issues of health care and the significant impacts of the health care on young people, which is very devastating for young Americans as they start suffering the consequences and the expenses of the president's health care law.

O'BRIEN: No. And I recognize that you're not the guy who makes the invitation list, but I'm curious as someone who's featured and those are two big name. I think it's quite remarkable that they're not on the list. What do you think, personally?

BARRASSO: Well, I'm not going to decide on who gets invited and who doesn't. I welcome all conservative ideas and a lot of ideas to come up with the best solutions to move our country ahead.

O'BRIEN: Sen. John Barrasso, nice to have you, sir. Always a pleasure to talk to you. We appreciate your time.

BARRASSO: Thank you, Soledad.


O'BRIEN: This just in to CNN. We're learning that the shooting suspect, we've been telling the story all morning. The shooting suspect accused of killing four people and critically wounding two others, the story out of upstate New York. He is now dead. Federal officers are telling CNN that they got into that abandoned building in Herkimer, New York where Kurt Meyers (ph) was hiding, shots were fired.

Meyers was killed. An FBI canine dog has also been killed in the shooting. Meyers, 64 years old, allegedly set fire to his home before he went on a shooting spree. We're going to update the story for you and continue to monitor. Many questions remain, even with the death of the suspect here.

We're going to take a break. We're back right after this.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. History unfolding right now in as Pope Francis gets right to work as the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. He's going to hold a private mass at the Sistine Chapel at noon eastern time along with the cardinals who elected him. And then on Saturday, the pontiff will meet for the first time with the world media, then Tuesday, the big moment, the installation mass.

As many as 200 foreign delegations are expected to be on hand. The emotions surrounding the announcement of Pope Francis filling over from Vatican City all around the world, including, of course, his home country of Argentina. Shasta Darlington joins us this morning with reaction from Buenos Aires. Hey, Shasta, good morning.