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Pope Wrapping U.S. Visit; Donald Trump to Unveil Tax Plan; Catholic Leaders: Pope to Meet Sex Abuse Survivors. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 27, 2015 - 08:00   ET

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


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[08:00:29] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Eight o'clock straight up and happy Sunday morning to you. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

PAUL: Yes. We want to show you some live pictures right now over Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Take a look at this.

There are still eight hours to go before the pope's final mass at 4:00 and, already, hundreds turned out to await his arrival. Look at these live pictures. Some of them have been there since 4:00, already standing there for four hours, staking out their little plot of land.

The pope has plenty to get through before he makes his way to the altar this afternoon. He's got a meeting with bishops, at the seminary where he's staying in Philadelphia. Then after that, he's meeting with inmates at a prison, all of this before celebrating the final mass before his largest audience yet on Philadelphia's, as we said, famed Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Miguel Marques is out among the faithful.

And, Miguel, I'm just curious to what you're seeing there this morning besides throngs of people.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, thousands of people are already turning out. This is the ticketed area.

We've worked our way as close as we can get to the stage where the pope will actually give mass this afternoon. We are about nine hours away from the mass will actually begin. And there are already thousands of people streaming into this area that is a ticketed area. We were in the non-ticketed area but a half mile back a little while ago, and people were there, as well.

It's incredible. Turn out this one. This is a beautiful shot of Philadelphia this morning. The skyline -- you guys are excited then, right?

(CHEERS) MARQUEZ: Huge excitement for this pope. Very, very huge amount of interest in seeing this man give -- if they can't see him in person, there are screens all the way down the city so people can watch.

We're actually standing in an area that Franciscan Sisters from South Bend, Indiana.

This is Sister Maria Jema (ph) from South Bend.

How excited are you to see the pope?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're really excited. It's the first time a lot of our sisters have seen a pope in general, especially Pope Francis.

MARQUEZ: He's a Franciscan. You're a Franciscan. I take it he speaks to the sort of work you do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He does. We do health care and education ministry, so we work in the hospitals and try to serve the poor the best we can in those facilities and he calls us on to. You know, he challenges us as religious, also.

MARQUEZ: The Catholic Church has taken a lot of hits over the years. It's been a tough time to be a Catholic I think in the last 10, 20 years or so. How was this pope different? How has he changed things?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think this pope has just made a lot of people realize that Catholics are real people. The pope is a real person and we are trying to do our best to get to heaven like everyone else and that we need to bring people along with us on the way. We can't go there by ourselves. We have to bring everyone around us with us.

MARQUEZ: You realize you are eight, nine hour ahead of the time he'll actually be here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we have 20 more sisters coming, so hopefully we'll still have room for them when they get here.

MARQUEZ: Boy, they're going to have a tough time getting up here, I think. Get them on the horn now. Get up here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're working on it.

MARQUEZ: All right. Good luck.

I have faith these sisters will make this happen today.

Amazing to see the people out here, people from all over the world and certainly that message of immigration and welcoming immigrants into the country heard in the hearts and souls of the people that I've spoken to here -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Hey, Miguel Marquez, thank you so much.

Obvious, I love that message, you don't have to be perfect, essentially to be used, no doubt about it. Thank you, Miguel. BLACKWELL: This morning, very different tone and environment for one

of the meetings that the pope is going to have. Pope Francis is preparing for a meeting with about 100 inmates from the Curran- Fromhold Prison that's just outside Philadelphia. Sitting down with criminals, among them murderers, the rapists.

To talk about this, we're joined by CNN senior Vatican analyst John Allen, and CNN Vatican correspondent Delia Gallagher.

Delia, I want to start with you, and the balance of accountability and forgiveness, because this pope stood in Paraguay this summer and said, the man that stands before you is a man that's been forgiven, I mean, who was and is saved from his sins.

So, how is that balanced and walk us through what we expect today as he balances accountability and the sense of forgiveness?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, from the pope's perspective, there is forgiveness. Everybody is a sinner. That's the Catholic view.

[08:05:00] That's the pope's view that everybody has something for which they should be sorry and can be forgiven and that is his entire message that he is going to focus on, especially coming up in this special year of mercy.

I mean, that's one of the big themes for him, mercy means forgiveness and the bottom line there is that everybody has done something. So, it's not just people who are in prison. It's all of us who have our own particular sins and the bible says, you know, who is without sin can throw the first stone.

So, I think Pope Francis here is kind of putting into practice what is the major theme of his pontificate, which is no matter what it is, you can receive forgiveness and he wants to show that and extend that to these people who are in prison. Not only to them, of course, I mean, he has been throughout this trip extending a hand to people who feel that they have been excluded, who feel that their sins have excluded them from the church. That is why he reached out to people who were divorced or had abortions and so on and says look, you know, you're not excommunicated, come here, come to the church, the doors are open.

BLACKWELL: And, John, I want to come to you. We've discussed every step along this trip, the impact on the people. But I wonder if there is any indication of the impact on the pope these conversations and these interactions.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Well, Victor, I don't think we have to speculate about it because when you see him in these small intimate settings, he has the chance to be in contact with real people, particularly those he feels who have been marginalized or excluded in some way, you can tell the effect it has on Francis. I mean, he lights up and he comes alive and I think you get a sense of the real man.

We saw the other day he went to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in Harlem, which is a school that serves a largely inner city immigrant population, some of them unaccompanied minors who have come up from Latin America and so on. I mean, I think that was the most fun he had in the United States and although this meeting with inmates today isn't exactly going to be fun, it's going to be deeply meaningful for the pope.

I mean, I like to think of Francis as the world's parish priest, Victor. I mean, in his heart, he's not a statesman, he's not a celebrity. Fundamentally, what he is is a pastor, and this is an opportunity for him to function as a pastor.

I guarantee you, Victor, when Francis finally has a chance to relax on the papal plane after finishing a lengthy press conference tonight, you know, he will be reflecting on a great deal, of course, thinking about, you know, his meetings with bishops this morning, the huge opener mass he's going to celebrate tonight. But I bet in the final moments before he finally nods off, what is going to be in his mind and heart from today is going to be that session with inmates because that's the kind of setting in which Francis feels he does his best work.

BLACKWELL: Hey, John, we just got a couple of seconds but I know you'll be on that plane for that press conference and I wonder many you can give me the question if you formulated it, what your top question will be for Pope Francis?

ALLEN: Well, the way we do it on the plane, Victor, is that each language group works out a list of question. So, English speakers, French speakers and so on. And we haven't yet had that meeting.

But what I think probably at the top of the list is simply going to be, you know, you've come here to in some ways to teach people in the United States but you've also come here to learn about the United States. This was your first trip to the country. What did you learn?

BLACKWELL: Yes.

ALLEN: What were your impressions? What are you taking away in terms of what you think about the United States? I think it would be fascinating to get him to open up that a little bit.

BLACKWELL: All right. That's a good one. John Allen, Delia Gallagher, we'll continue the conversation this morning. Thank you so much.

GALLAGHER: Thank you.

ALLEN: You bet.

PAUL: So, the stage where Pope Francis is holding this mass this afternoon undergoing a big transformation right now and Polo Sandoval is joining us live from there.

Polo, where exactly are you? Are you very close to the stage?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi, several rows from the stage. I'll step out of the shot for a second so I can give you a closer look at the stage that appears to have already completed its transformation early this morning, we watched as an army of workers, actually transformed it from that was venue setup yesterday with the large video screens, really more of a concert setting and turned it into what you see now, a religious sanctuary. You see that the chairs layout and the golden cross is the focal point where the Holy Father will be sitting, crowd of people there.

The other change we've actually seen in the last hour, too, Christi, as we begin to zoom out, you actually see people now taking some seats. Keep in mind, the mass is not going to start for another eight hours and people making their way here. The folks that are looking up to be able to grab one of these seats, those are special guests, some of the dignitaries, as well, roughly 10,000 people expected here.

[08:10:03] It does not compare to hundreds of thousands that are expected to come together in the general area, which will be running along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The folks who may not be within viewing distance, the city offering them an opportunity to actually see the mass, they set up about 40 JumboTrons. So, he wants to make sure as many people that can be safely accommodated can actually take part in this -- Christi.

PAUL: Yes, no mistaking wherever you are downtown for what is happening today.

Polo Sandoval, we appreciate it. Thank you.

So, while you may have been asking yourself this question: could Donald Trump really be the next presidential nominee? Well, President Bill Clinton says, I think he can. That's what he told CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

So, how can Trump's upcoming tax plan how help sway voters?

Also, Nancy Pelosi sits down with Jake Tapper. Her thoughts on Speaker John Boehner's surprising resignation.

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BLACKWELL: All right. New this morning in the race for the White House.

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump will soon make a major policy announcement, unveil the details on his tax plan. His campaign manager says the plan will be released Monday morning.

Now, last week, Trump himself, he hinted that his plan will call for middle class tax cuts and tax hikes, possibly just by closing loopholes for wealthy hedge fund managers.

[08:15:08] Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's going to be very specific and I think it's a plan that's going to create great incentives and be a plan that's going to make people happy, other than maybe the hedge fund guys that make hundreds of millions of dollars that pay little tax. I mean, those guys will not exactly love me.

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BLACKWELL: Joining me now to break it down, CNN politics senior reporter, Stephen Collinson.

Stephen, Trump says that it's going to be very specific and as we've seen a softening of his poll numbers, that's what the people who are open to a Trump presidency want, some specifics, some details.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: That's right. Hey, Victor.

Yes, I think this is an important moment because as you said, Mr. Trump has been criticized for building a campaign on his media image and not on substance and on policy. So, we're going to see in this tax plan exactly what he's going to come up with to sort of reform the tax system. If he gives specifics, that would be an important moment in this campaign, but also, of course, whenever you put specifics on the table, you offer an opportunity for your rivals to criticize you. It could be seen tomorrow morning when this tax plan comes out as a turning point for Mr. Trump's presidential ambitions.

BLACKWELL: Then we have to look at the other plans that have been released, released an immigration paper, released a Second Amendment paper talking about gun rights. First, let's talk about when he released the immigration paper in August, he had the mojo to carry the narrative for a week or more with what we've seen, the softens out numbers, the front runner -- does he have that now?

COLLINSON: That's a good point and I think what you'll see is once this plan is out, Mr. Trump will be out there, you know, making calls to morning news anchors. He'll be talking about his tax plan, I would expect to see a number of events to try and drive the conversation back to him.

And, of course, what he's going to do is highlight some of the things that he's already talked about, bringing jobs back from India and China, for example. So, is this tax plan, for example, going to have tax holidays, tax breaks for companies to relocate their businesses? Those are the kinds of things that he could build upon and talk about the tax plan in a populist way, a way that would get media coverage.

BLACKWELL: But that's if he has the discipline because, again, there is a Second Amendment paper, policy paper released about a week and a half ago on his Web site. No one talked about it because people were talking about the insults and the criticisms that Trump was tweeting out and leveling in his speeches and his rallies.

COLLINSON: Yes, that's one of the things with Donald Trump. You don't know what's going to come out of his mouth. He could go off and cause a huge knew route. We've seen him in the last couple of weeks really taking aim at Marco Rubio who is perceived to have come out of that debate, the CNN debate which enhances momentum in the campaign.

So I think you'll probably see Mr. Trump carry on attacking Marco Rubio and perhaps, you know, as you say, his tax plan might just kind of fade off into the ether of this campaign.

BLACKWELL: All right. First, we've got to see it, though, and that's going to come Monday.

COLLINSON: Right.

BLACKWELL: Stephen Collinson, thank you so much.

COLLINSON: Thanks, Victor.

PAUL: Well, she was once speaker of the House. So, will Nancy Pelosi miss John Boehner when he steps down from that role next month? What do you think? Her candid comments, next.

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[08:22:14] PAUL: Pope Francis wrapping up his first trip to the United States with another pretty packed day in Philadelphia.

Jake Tapper, host of "STATE OF THE UNION", joining me now live from Philadelphia.

A lot to cover in the next 11 1/2 hours before he goes back to Rome. Jake, I was asking people on Twitter what was your favorite moment and they -- I was swamped with the emotion that I'm hearing from people. How about you?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: It really is incredible talking to people here who have come to hear His Holiness speak, just to catch a glimpse of him. He is moving so many people, perhaps even bringing some back into the flock.

But as you note, we've got a show coming up that will be devoted to pope coverage but also to politics, as well. Some big political news this week with the resignation, the announcement of Speaker John Boehner stepping down.

We have an exclusive interview with the House minority leader, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and in that interview, I asked her about the pope and her response to the pope and his visit to Congress but also asked her if she would miss John Boehner with whom she had worked closely for years. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I've heard you speak glowingly of him. I've heard you express disappointment, as well. Are you going to miss him?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I am -- know one thing. My -- I respect my colleagues. I respect the people who send them here. I respect the fact that their caucus elected them to a leadership position. John Boehner is a very fine person. He had his glorious moment with

the pope coming this week. He's a devote Catholic. He's a person we can agree to disagree without being negative about each other.

But yes, I don't know if I'll miss him but here one day we just work. We just work. We barely have time for our close friends, people and some of our close friends are across the isle. But depends on what comes next.

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TAPPER: I don't know if I miss him, it depends on what comes next. Pretty tough language there from the Democratic leader but also said very nice things about Speaker Boehner being a good man and a devote Catholic. So, we'll have that interview and we'll sit down with Dr. Ben Carson coming up on "STATE OF THE UNION".

PAUL: Looking forward to it. Jake Tapper, thank you.

TAPPER: Thank you.

PAUL: And "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake starts at the top of the hour, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

We'll be right back.

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[08:28:50] BLACKWELL: This morning, we've learned that Pope Francis plans to meet with church sexual abuse survivors.

We've got with us CNN religion editor Daniel Burke on the phone.

Daniel, what do you know about this meeting?

DANIEL BURKE, CNN RELIGION EDITOR (via telephone): Right. So, the Vatican will not confirm this until after the fact. They say they don't want to make these meetings a media spectacle. They want to be private and personal, a kind of an intimate moment where the pope can hear the stories of abused survivors.

But we have learned some two top church sources that Pope Francis will meet with clergy sexual abuse victims today in Philadelphia. It's important because Philadelphia has been a city battered by an abuse crisis.

There was not one but two grand jury reports that detailed and pretty grueling detail about the level of abuse that took place in Philadelphia and so, it's important that the meeting take place in Philadelphia and a moment of healing perhaps for the victims here but also these groups are not exactly excited by the pope's comments on sexual abuse, on this trip to the U.S. he mentioned the courage of the bishops at one point --

BLACKWELL: There have been some criticisms -- Daniel, I got to cut you off. We're against a break. Thanks for joining us this morning. John King is next.