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Pope Challenges Congress In Historic Speech; Pope Heads To New York City After Historic D.C. Speech. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired September 24, 2015 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Just moments ago this was the scene at Joint Base Andrews with the pope's plane, Shepherd One, taking off. His holiness destined for New York City. Before jetting out of town the pontiff had quite a lot to say here in Washington, D.C. We know that he's going to be headed towards St. Patrick's Cathedral when he arrives in New York, New York.

Let's go to CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, to get some temperature taking on the response to what the pope had to say here in Washington, D.C.

Dana, the pope touched on many issues in his address to Congress this morning. Many of them issues that Democrats disagreed with him on, Republicans disagreed with him on.

How well do you think the pope did in melting away the natural cynicism of politicians and even some Washington reporters up there on Capitol Hill?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Surprisingly well, all of the above, Jake. The pope really had an uncanny ability to turn his phrases in such a way that it allowed people to think that he was speaking to them and about their causes even in many instances when they disagreed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, the pope of the Holy See.

BASH (voice-over): Words never before uttered in history to introduce a figure who came to prod this partisan institution to work together for a better future.

POPE FRANCIS: Renew spirit of fraternity and solidarity. Cooperate for the common good.

BASH: Citing beloved American figures like Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Pope Francis reminded lawmakers of the country's past and its promise.

POPE FRANCIS: Of immigrants knowing that so many of you are also descendants of immigrants.

BASH: Eliciting emotion even on politically divisive issues like immigration.

POPE FRANCIS: It is not what we want for our children.

BASH: Francis delivered his signature caution about capitalism and warnings about climate change that made some Republicans uncomfortable.

POPE FRANCIS: Environmental deterioration caused by human activity.

BASH: Liberals like presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders were ecstatic.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The issue of poverty, the issue of environmental degradation, immigration, the death penalty, the need to do everything we can to create a peaceful world and I think he did it in a very dignified nonpartisan kind of way.

BASH: Still, the pope mentioned church stance Republicans historically agree with like opposition to abortion.

POPE FRANCIS: To protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

BASH: Francis, a student of politics, had the usually unruly chamber hooked from the start with this.

POPE FRANCIS: In the land of the free and the home of the brave.

BASH: That even brought four Supreme Court justices who almost never clap during political addresses to their feet. In fact, even Catholics like Senator Mike Rounds, who pressed colleagues to treat the speech like a sermon, no clapping, couldn't help themselves.

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: We found ourselves saying, look, we're agreeing with what the pontiff is saying. And so we found ourselves standing up and sitting down more than what we had anticipated.


BASH: The pope invited by House Speaker John Boehner, a Catholic who has been trying to get a pope to Congress for 20 years, the man known for being emotional couldn't hold back his tears.

POPE FRANCIS: God bless America.

BASH: Especially on his own capitol balcony with the pope looking down at thousands below.


[16:35:11] BASH: Now, there were a fair number of Republicans going in to this address who were a little bit concerned, worried that there would be a scolding from the pope on issues that he's been very outspoken about, like climate change, like immigration.

But even those Republicans came out. Many of them saying that they were pleased at the way the pope gave his address. They said that they felt he gave a message of promise and of unity.

And even though clearly there were politics involved, they didn't feel like they were hit over the head with it. It was, I think, all in all a pretty successful visit for the pope even in a very jaded as you said very partisan place -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Dana Bash on Capitol Hill, thanks. We're waiting for the pope to land in New York. He took off just minutes ago. When he touches down adoring worshippers will be waiting for him. This is the scene right now at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

When we come back from the break, we're going to talk to one of those House Republican leaders, who's Catholic, to see what he thought of the pope's remarks. Stay with us. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. You're looking at shots from New York City. That's the skyline up top left. You got St. Patrick's Cathedral on the right side of the screen. New Yorkers eager, excited, lining Fifth Avenue in anticipation of the pope's trek to Gotham.

When the pope does land at JFK, which we expect soon he will be met there by New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and New York's Cardinal Dolan and then he'll helicopter into the heart of Manhattan.

All this after the pope talked to Congress today. Speaking of Congress, almost one-third of the 535 members of the U.S. Congress are catholic. Many are in powerful positions including the Republican speaker and the Democratic leader of the House. Let's talk to Republican congressman, former vice presidential

nominee, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Catholic, boy, that's a whole menu there.


TAPPER: Paul Ryan. Congressman, Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for joining me. Appreciate it.

RYAN: You bet.

TAPPER: So the pope made his views clear on a number of issues today. There's something for everyone to like, everyone to not like. Let's talk about immigration though because I know that's a thorny issue for your party.

The pope said speaking of people who, quote, "travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, we must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons seeing their faces and listening to their stories try to respond as best we can to their situation."

How do you swear that with what I'm sure you hear all the time as the consensus view of House Republicans that maybe doesn't reflect that?

RYAN: I wouldn't say that. I wouldn't say it doesn't reflect that. Respecting the rule of law, having a legal immigration system that works and fixing a broken system, I think that's consistent with those things and being respectful of people.

That's all entirely consistent. So look, Jake, I don't think one should look at his speech as sort of a laundry list of policies, some Democrats like, some Republicans like.

That's not what this speech was. This speech was a pastoral speech. This was the voice of St. Peter speaking to not just Congress, but to all Americans about important principles.

TAPPER: The pope also talked about protecting and defending human life at every stage. Congressional leaders have a big decision coming up on how hard to force this issue of defunding Planned Parenthood. Where are you on this debate? Should a confrontation be forced to a point a government shutdown might happen?

RYAN: Well, I don't think that's the right strategy. I don't think that that actually helps us deal with Planned Parenthood, which I do think should be defunded. I think its vial. It's barbaric what they've done.

I think the more Americans that see just the grotesqueness of their procedures the more that they would agree they don't want their hard working taxpayers' dollars going to a fund like that. I think there are other ways of addressing this.

We intend to put on the president's desk, I believe, legislation and we can do that through our budget process. So I think there are better ways in getting at this issue defunding this barbaric process and this group that does this then involving the shutdown issue.

So I think we can hopefully avoid that. I don't think it's the right strategy, but I think we can do better things to get at this issue. I hope more Americans watch these videos so they can see what kind of group their taxpayer dollars are going to.

TAPPER: I don't need to tell you that a lot of conservative Republicans think this is waving a white flag. This is the congressional Republican leadership not standing up for the values that conservatives hold dear.

RYAN: Well, I want to make sure that we win. I want to make sure that we succeed in achieving our goals. And so I want to choose a strategy that has a better guarantee of us actually achieving our goals.

Unfortunately, what stands between us is the constitution. For a bill to become law like unfunding something, the president has to sign that bill into law. If he chooses not to sign that bill into law, then you have to override a veto, we don't have 60 votes in the Senate let alone 67.

So believe me I share the frustration with this organization. But as Republicans and conservatives I think we ought to be honest with people about what we can actually achieve given the constitutional constraints we have.

How we can best bring accountability to the federal government to groups like Planned Parenthood and accountability to this administration given the constitution, and just be candid and try and find a strategy that has the best chance of success.

I want to actually achieve the goal not the issue but the goal of stopping groups like this from getting taxpayer dollars.

TAPPER: Congressman Paul Ryan, thank you so much.

RYAN: You bet, Jake. Take care.

TAPPER: We're still waiting for the pope's arrival in New York City. We're expecting that to happen in just a few minutes. New Yorkers are lining up in the streets. We're going to take a very quick break. Stay with us. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. On the left side of your screen are images from a few minutes ago when the pope took off leaving Washington, D.C. at Joint Base Andrews. Taking off for JFK Airport, which is the right side of the screen. We are expecting the pope to land any minute. A small delegation will greet him there.

Let's bring in CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. Jim, tell us what happens after the pope's plane lands.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Jake, he's going to get a welcome befitting this pope. He's going to be greeted by five young students from Catholic schools in the New York area. You'll remember when he was addressing the crowd outside the capitol this morning he said that the Ninos as he said are the most important thing.

[16:50:04] He loves to connect with children. Those children are going to give him a book of prayers that they compiled. That coming from 86 different schools here in the New York area and Brooklyn and in Queens.

Also crucial in that crowd greeting him there are going to be members of a nursing home taken care of by the Catholic Church as well as homeless people taken care of. Again, that's part of his mission.

That's really his emphasis is getting the church both the priests and the lay people out to help those in need. And some of those in need are going to be there on that tarmac when he lands at JFK Airport.

But also this is a welcome befitting the city of New York. There's going to be a high school band from a local high school, what song is it going to play, Jake? It's going to play "New York, New York." It's also going to play "City of God."

You can't land in New York City without hearing New York, New York. It's the kind of welcome that New York wants to give this pope. I think just the kind of welcome that fits him and fits his message and fits his profile during this trip.

TAPPER: Jim Sciutto in New York, thanks so much. You see people those are live images from New York City, people lining the streets in eager anticipation. The pope headed for St. Patrick's Cathedral. Let's go to St. Patrick's Cathedral where the pope is headed.

He's going to be joined there by the governor, Mr. Cuomo. Look who's here "OUTFRONT" anchor, Erin Burnett, joins me freshly back from maternity leave. You look great. Set the scene from your vantage point.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": Jake, it's a great day to be back. It's a gorgeous day and my little baby girl will be baptized Catholic. Like many Catholics, I've become warmer toward the church because of this pope. You're feeling that here on the streets.

Obviously this church right now, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Jake, is gleaming white. I haven't seen it like that in years. And behind me you can see some of the people who actually worked on all of the renovations, almost $200 million of renovations.

They just finished them. I was here a couple months ago. It was not ready at all and they're going to be here to greet the pope which is obviously very special.

He's going to be delivering an evening prayer service. Not a full mass but about 3,500 members of the clergy so you'll see nuns, bishops, priests, deacons, that's who will hear the pope speak tonight. But it's a festive atmosphere.

There are so many kids, Jim just talking about that. I saw a group of schoolgirls and the person leading them said take a lot of pictures and put them on your social media and they were so earnest, we will, we will. It's a festive atmosphere. That you're seeing here on the streets of New York.

TAPPER: Erin, don't go anywhere. We're going to take a quick break. Stay with us. Pope Francis is about to land for the first time in New York City. We'll be right back after this.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The streets of New York City already lined with worshippers waiting to greet the pope. Right now what you're hearing and seeing is JFK Airport where the pope is due to land any minute now. After he lands he will helicopter into Manhattan.

Let's go back to St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. That's where the pope is headed for evening prayers and where we find Erin Burnett and John Berman. Erin, what are we expecting this evening?

BURNETT: So it's a service, it's not an actual mass. John and I were just talking about what that means. That means there will be songs, there will be hymns, there will be a homily. So of course, the big question is what the pope will talk about, will he take on these politically charged issues. And the audience will be members of the clergy, but it's not a full mass.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": No, this is a religious service for people who are part of the clergy, who are professionals, priests, nuns, deacons, some 3,000 plus of them. But it's a message when he gets to the city meets with the local clergy first.

St. Patrick's is the seat of the archdiocese of New York. Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be here. That's who he'll be speaking to. When he spoke yesterday in Washington he addressed the clergy and raised some eyebrows.

When he praised them for their courage dealing with the sex abuse scandal referring to it somewhat vaguely, but it's clear that's what he was saying and people were offended he was talking about the clergy courage and not necessarily the suffering of the victims.

BURNETT: The big question is whether or not that will come up tonight. Jake, as John and I were just standing here during a commercial break a little fiat drove by. It looked like a dry run. It had the license plate for Vatican City. We don't know exactly what it was doing, but it was kind of a special moment.

BERMAN: We think it was positioning for the departure for when he leaves here because when he arrives he'll be traveling six blocks in the pope mobile. Open air will meet the people gathered on the side of the streets here, really the first chance for them to meet the pope or see the pope in person.

BURNETT: Yes. And they are, Jake, as I said it's a palpable feeling of joy and enthusiasm. It's rare you feel that in New York.

BERMAN: Yes, absolutely.

BURNETT: I thought this is the first time that I felt it so universally.

BERMAN: Especially when there's so much traffic because they've shut down all the streets, but I've only seen smiles.

BURNETT: It's true. They are lining the streets and central park is almost completely shut. They have eight-foot barriers everywhere, Jake. And yet in the park yesterday as it was basically shut down people were smiling and friendly. BERMAN: Absolutely.

BURNETT: I couldn't believe it I was in there with a stroller thinking wow.

BERMAN: The 80,000 people will be in that park tomorrow evening, it will be during your show largely when he's driving through the park waving and meeting people right there. Right now that and central park the two chances average everyday New Yorkers will get a chance to interact with this pope.

BURNETT: That's pretty stunning. Back to you, Jake.

TAPPER: Thank you, Erin. Of course, the pope in addition to speaking at St. Patrick's this evening and addressing the United Nations will also visit a school tomorrow with children of immigrants talking about the issue of immigration. That's another focus of the pope's as he makes this journey.

That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. I'm turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM," who will continue our live coverage of Pope Francis' trip to the United States and any minute now to New York City -- Wolf.