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Pope's Motorcade Greeted By Crowds in Cuba; Trump: "I'm Not Obligated to Defend Obama"; Pope to Celebrate Mass in Havana Sunday; Pope to Fly to U.S. After Cuba Trip; Security Challenges of Protecting the Pope. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 19, 2015 - 17:00   ET



[17:00:04] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Okay, here's Pope Francis making history in Havana, Cuba, looking at the motorcade right now. The plane landed, he and President Raul Castro gave remarks. President Castro obviously is more political than Pope Francis. Pope Francis meeting children saying, he's here for the people, saying that he extends blessings to those he cannot meet, a little bit of a nod to somewhat of the culture of oppression here in Cuba. And now, here he is, the streets lined by not just the faithful, but the hopeful here in Cuba.

Our Patrick Ottman, who lives here in Cuba saying that the enthusiasm he hears from the crowds here is genuine and that not always the case. The Pope keeps getting hit by his frock, which is not unusual, and the way he deals with it so nonchalant about the ceremony of it is one of the things that endears them to the faithful. And he's joined in this modified Pope mobile by Cardinal Ortega, he's very important in what is believed to be the active negotiation by the Vatican between Cuba and the United States to help a re-rapprochement of relations. So, this is the scene here in Cuba.

We are joined by the host of the Catholic guy on Sirius XM. Lino, let me ask you, this is cool, this is the ceremony and the celebration, but for the significance, what does the Pope need to do here to satisfy the faithful Catholics, the hopeful Cubans, and the media?

LINO RULLI, SIRIUSXM SATELLITE RADIO, "THE CATHOLIC GUY": Good question, and I think in a way, believe it or not, the Pope doesn't care. And I know that sounds not flippant --

CUOMO: Probably shouldn't, right? On some level. But why do you say that?

RULLI: Oh, I say it because, you know, I've been lucky enough to travel with the Pope around the world, whether it be South Korea, or Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and there are many expectations and there are hundreds of thousands or millions, depending on where these places are, and politicians want to use him for this and maybe people on the right of the church want to say one thing and people on the left of it -- everybody wants to use him for one thing or the other and I think the best expectation he can have when he goes to a place, keeping in mind he's never even been to Cuba before. He had a layover once. That doesn't exactly count, right?

Here's a man who is 78-years-old, his first time coming to a country that he's never been to before and to try to reach out with a message of let me help you build a bridge, let me help make friendships, let me do what I can, but don't put so many expectations on me that I can fix everything. So when I come to South Korea and I talk to the people of Seoul, I can't fix everything, but I'll do what I can in the few days I'll have.

CUOMO: And he's picking areas in the interior, right? That's where the poverty is the hardest. And we're here in Havana, this is right on the coastline, this is the port, this is about as good as it gets in Cuba, but he's going to places that are not just indigenous, but impoverished in that matters. Tomorrow night he's meeting with 2,000 kids and on the table, Wi-Fi and encouragement of sending social media messages, unheard of in this regime.

RULLI: Especially considering unheard of and he calls himself a dinosaur when it comes to social media. And so that the idea the Pope says, it's very important that the younger people do this. Cuban government doesn't want it, the Pope doesn't even do it himself, but understands the significance, but he also when you talk about not just being in Havana, but other places, somebody asked, why are you going to some of the other places. One place, he said, no Pope has been there before. So it's reaching out to people who might feel excluded by government, by church, by anybody. Especially the poor, the Pope shows up to say I care about you. Not just I care about you, but God cares about you and I don't want you to forget about it.

CUOMO: Lino Rulli, Sirius XM, "The Catholic Guy," it's great to have your perspective. I appreciate it. Poppy, let's get it back to you. Here history is being made before our eyes, the motorcade, obviously, the Pope on his way to the nunciary (ph) here, it's kind of like the consulate for the Catholic Church here. And that's where he's going to stay and we'll keep our eyes on the situation for you.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Just remarkable what we have seen take place in the last hour as the Pope landed for a historic visit to Cuba. I'm Poppy Harlow, you're in the CNN Newsroom, just past 5:00 Eastern. I want to welcome our viewers both here in the United States and around the world as we continue to follow the Pope's historic visit.

Chris Cuomo live for us in Havana, as well. We will get back to Chris in a moment.

First, though, to politics here in the United States. Donald Trump is standing by his decision to keep quiet when one of his supporters outright called President Obama a Muslim and not an American. Today, Trump is taking to Twitter about the controversy, tweeting a number of times one of the things he said on Twitter, "If I would have challenged the man, the media would have accused me of interfering with the man's right of free speech. A no-win situation."

I want to go straight to MJ Lee, he joins us from Iowa, that is where a number of the candidates are speaking at this freedom and faith forum tonight. Donald Trump expected to speak just around 7 p.m. Eastern. But MJ, let's go through some of these tweets. You talked about a moral obligation, whether he has to defend the President or not.

[17:05:04] MJ LEE, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: That's right, Poppy. After being uncharacteristically silent, he broke that silence today releasing a number of tweets basically defending his decision not to correct a supporter, who as you mentioned, referred to President Obama as a Muslim and referred to Muslims as being a problem in this country. Here's one of the tweets that Trump released today. He said, "Am I morally obligated to defend the President every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don't think so!" Exclamation point. He also said it was probably one of the first times that he had created a controversy by not saying something rather than by saying something.

HARLOW: I know there's been a lot of response, not only from Democrats, as you would expect, but also from his fellow Republicans. What are we hearing?

LEE: That's right. Trump's arrival both Democrats and Republicans on the campaign trail are being asked to respond to Trump's decision not to correct this supporter and Democrats and Republicans are having to address this issue. Democrats are, obviously, finding this an easy opportunity to pounce on Donald Trump, whereas Republicans are giving a series of mixed answers. They seem a little more hesitant to go after Trump, saying that it's not always the candidate's responsibility to correct supporters in what they say.

HARLOW: All right, we'll be following it again, hear what Trump says in person tonight and in tomorrow morning, he will be on CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper. MJ Lee, thank you very much. Let's talk more about the republican race for the White House, a newest controversy surrounding Donald Trump.

Marc Lamont Hill is with me, Matt Schlapp also here. Marc is a professor at Morehouse College. Matt is chairman of the American Conservative Union, he was political director in the George W. Bush White House.

Thank you gentlemen for being here. Marc, let me begin with you, Trump tweeting also that basically if he would have challenged the man, the media would have accused him of interfering with the man's right of free speech, calling it a no-win situation. What do you make of whether this can hurt test one Trump?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it absolutely can hurt him. I mean, whenever you say things that are considered this objectionable to large sector of a voting block is problematic. I mean, whether his base cares about it is a different story. I think what makes him look weak at this moment though is the fact that he's pivoted so many times. I mean, his camp said they didn't understand what the person was saying.

HARLOW: Right.

HILL: Now, we heard it but we didn't want to interfere with his First Amendment rights.

HARLOW: Right.

HILL: The truth is, there's no evidence of that. John McCain interrupted a woman who was saying negative things about President Obama on the campaign trail, and McCain was applauded for it, he was looked at as a hero by Democrats and Republicans. This was an opportunity for Donald Trump to look presidential, to look above the fray and I think he made a bad choice. Not just the person who misidentified President Obama's religions, but they used the word Muslim as if it were a slur, he said the problem with America is Muslims and we need to figure out how we get rid of them. And in some sense, he may have been complaining terrorism with Islam, which is the most generous interpretation. But either way, it was problematic, it was dangerous and he should have said something.

HARLOW: Matt, to you, you're someone who likes that Donald Trump is in this race. You've said a number of times, including here on CNN, he is good for the political process, good that he is in this race, you're a republican and conservative and you've said we need to hear people in a bit more bold strokes, right? From our candidates in this campaign. What do you think about these remarks and now him coming out with these five tweets today defending them?

MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: Well, I mean, we've seen this before and when he said things that were over the line. He has come back and pulled back. Doesn't necessarily apologize. I think it's important to remember in this case he didn't say anything that was over the line. Somebody else said something. I do agree with Marc that it was an opportunity that if he really heard the man and his full question, it was an opportunity for him to delineate between, you know, the extremist radicalized element of Muslim terrorists that are threatening America and, you know, devout Muslims who are not and that's an important delineation, it's incredibly important delineation, because we have the freedom of religion in America. So, when you run for president, it's different than anything else you might do.

HARLOW: And you have eight million Muslims in this country.

SCHLAPP: That's right, that's right. And by the way, I'd like them to vote for Republicans. So, I don't think we want -- I think we have to be careful in the tone here and the approach is important, but it's important to remember, Donald Trump is not the one who said this. Let's be clear.

HARLOW: And it's a question of, is it as important what you don't say as what you say, and that's what the American voters are going to have to decide ahead of the RNC Reince Priebus saying, you know, a week with Jake Tapper on "State of the Union," you know, people, the candidates are accountable for their words. We'll see what effect this has. Matt, Marc, please stay with me. Got to get a break in here. We're going to be back with you. More on the other side and we'll going to hear more from Donald Trump tonight. He will make a few campaign appearances in Iowa, including at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition at that annual fall banquet trying to get those critical evangelical votes. We'll be right back.


[17:14:42] HARLOW: You know what that music means, we are talking politics. Marc Lamont Hill, Matt Schlapp are back with me.

Marc a professor at Morehouse College. Matt, chairman of the American Conservative Union and was a political director in the George W. Bush White House. Looking ahead to tonight, gentlemen, a lot of the candidates from the GOP are speaking in Iowa, but, of course, all eyes are on Donald Trump given the controversy over him not correcting someone in the audience on Thursday who called the President a Muslim and not an American. Looking at the key evangelical votes, to you first, Matt, in Iowa actually a Quinnipiac poll shows that Trump is trailing Ben Carson among evangelicals. What does he have to say tonight to lock in those votes?

SCHLAPP: Yes. I mean, evangelical voters in Iowa are the major dynamic at this caucus. So, it's the most important constituency to address, and I think, you know, it's interesting I've talked to a lot of pastors and I've heard a lot of pastors on CNN talking. And I actually think it's not about what you think, it's not just they don't just want to hear that he's going to be for the sanctity of life --

HARLOW: Right.

SCHLAPP: -- and for traditional marriage and for families. I actually think a lot of the evangelical voters want somebody who will change the entire culture of Washington. It's why Trump is doing so well in these polls with evangelicals. It's not because of policies, it's because of some personal characteristics, and I think that's true about this 2016 election cycle. It's less about issues and more about the person who could be president.

HARLOW: Even those critical issues, Marc, for evangelical voters, even when you have this huge debate raging in the country right now over funding, federal funding, safer Planned Parenthood?

HILL: Well, I do think the issues are going to matter more and more as we get closer to the caucuses, but you know, he's right, the Iowa caucuses are activist caucuses, for all intents and purposes. And you've seen people, Huckabee win them, you've seen other people win them because of their values and because of who they represent as people. And the evangelicals have also shown and they can be far more pragmatic and Democrats often like to paint them. They were pragmatic when they voted for Romney, they were super pragmatic when they voted for John McCain. They often decided that they want to pick the person closest to their values but also the one who can ultimately win this thing. I think Donald Trump has to continue to look viable but also speak to the issues that matter. Because if the perception that he's still a democrat in republicans clothing, that's going to hurt him more than any particular policy.

SCHLAPP: Poppy, can I just say something on the Planned Parenthood funding?

HARLOW: Quickly.

SCHLAPP: Quickly on the Planned Parenthood funding. We have elected pro-life Republicans year after year after year, yet Planned Parenthood gets half a billion dollars a year. Republican voters are just tired of that. They actually want to send someone in there who will stop this funding.

HARLOW: Yes. It's not up to the President, right, it's in large part up to what Congress is going to do.

HARLOW: Both, both.

HARLOW: Both. Thank you, gentlemen, wish we had more time. Lot to get in today. I appreciate it. Tomorrow, I do want to note Donald Trump will be Jake Tapper's guest on CNN's State of the Union, 9:00 a.m. and noon eastern. Also do not forget if you missed them, the CNN republican debate replays tomorrow night 8:00 Eastern only right here.

Also going on tomorrow night, it is the Emmys. The big question, can HBO's "Veep" starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus topple ABC's "Modern Family" for outstanding comedy series? "Modern Family" is going for Emmy Awards history after five consecutive wins in that category. If modern family wins tomorrow night, it will set a record, an Emmy record with six consecutive wins in the comedy series category. We'll be right back.


[17:22:08] CUOMO: We are living history right now, my friends. You are watching Pope Francis here on the streets of Havana, Cuba. He landed a short time ago. We heard speeches from President Raul Castro welcoming him, asking for better relations with the U.S., asking for better global warming policy, and asking for change. Pope Francis on a similar theme saying that he's here for the people, both those he can see and those he cannot see, quoting Jose Marte, a sacred figure here in the revolutionary environment of Cuba.

And now as he comes through the streets lined with Cubans, the faithful, as well as the hopeful, those hoping for change and more openness from a known oppressive regime. And we do know that the Pope brings change in two obvious ways, here in Revolution Square where we are, where the Pope will say mass tomorrow morning. There's a new supposed Holy Trinity circling Revolution Square. You have Chave Guevara (ph), you have Senior Cienfuegos, these captains of the revolution, now also you have a picture of Jesus Christ that we've been showing you throughout the morning.

That is a first here in Cuba, having Jesus Christ in Revolutionary Square, his message underneath the picture, "Vieni da me," "come to me," that is new here. They are calling Revolutionary Square hopefully Evolutionary Square, but what will really happen in Cuba, what will the Pope do, we're watching it unfold.

We have Rosa Flores who's been following the Pope. She got a beautiful moment of her own as a Catholic where he blessed her. We showed you that picture earlier. There's the picture of Jesus I was telling you about in Revolutionary Square. That's new to be sure, that's change to be sure, that is history to be sure. Rosa, hoping you're on the phone right now. How is it going following the Pope through the streets? What are you seeing in the faces of the people?

Okay, we don't have Rosa. We're going to try to get her on the phone. Coms, communication here in Cuba, not easy. Also a good segue to something that the Pope is asked for on his trip. Tomorrow, he's meeting with some 2,000 youths and at that meeting, they will have access to Wi-Fi. You shrug your shoulders, so what? It is a big deal here in Cuba, the cell towers in operation used more often to block signals than transmit them. They will be given Wi-Fi, these 2,000 young people and encouraged to send messages on to social media expressing how they feel about their lives. This is not how Cuban society ordinarily operates. It is a nod, it is a congestion to the Pope. And then, of course, the mass tomorrow that the Cuban authorities tell us will have hundreds of thousands in attendance, a message and a homily broadcast to millions around the world.

Ed Lavandera part of our team down here in CNN Havana setting up the day for us. Ed, tell us about what we can expect in this trip.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, here in the plaza of the revolution, this is the scene that will greet Pope Francis here tomorrow night. Hundreds of thousands of people expecting, as you can see, roadways will be blocked off throughout the area, this is back toward the back end of the plaza here where the crowd will be gathering. Incidentally, it was 17 years ago, it was on this end that Pope John Paul II held his mass. That's where the altar was. And this is the plaza, this is the area that is cordoned off for people that will be able to stand here and what will be a great concern tomorrow is the heat. It has been intensely hot here over the last few months, and it is expected to continue again tomorrow, so a great deal of concern for the people that will be standing here.

I remember being here 17 years ago and in February, much cooler time of year here in Havana, people were dropping, fainting in the crowds here, so that is expected. In fact, Red Cross stations have been set up across the plaza here. In anticipation of what could be a very dangerous situation for many people here in the plaza, where given the heat of the situation will be something to watch very closely tomorrow. But what is interesting as you look around the plaza here of the revolution, all of the government buildings that surround the area. All the way across here as you make your way back across the plaza and the images of the revolutionary leaders here, the controversial figures here in Cuba. Back over here towards the statue of Jose Marte, the founding father of Cuba.

And incidentally enough, just over this hill there, that bunker that you see behind me here, another government building. That is where Raul Castro has his offices and that is where the Pope is expected to meet with Raul Castro tomorrow. And as we've mentioned and reported, at some point there's expected to be a meeting between Fidel Castro and the Pope but don't know exactly when or where that will take place. But here is the scene where many people here in the coming hours will begin to gather -- Chris. [17:27:00] CUOMO: And the Pope did express, Ed, in his opening

comments respect and considerations is the word he used for Fidel Castro. Will they meet? What will the message be? That's part of following this moment in history as it unfolds. Ed will be at the mass tomorrow, as will the whole CNN team. What will the Pope say when he visits the people of Cuba? We're going to follow it for you all along the way. That's the motorcade making its way into Havana. We'll take a quick break, stay with us.


[17:31:36] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: You're looking at live pictures of Pope Francis making a historic visit to Havana, Cuba. It is the third papal visit in 17 years, his first, of course, as pope. This is the beginning of a major, major tour. He will spend three days there in Cuba before coming to the United States. He will arrive in Washington, D.C. He will give a speech to Congress, then come here to New York and address the U.N. General Assembly. Then next weekend he'll spend in Philadelphia meeting many, many people extraordinarily excited to have mass with the pope. We will be there for you, live, next weekend.

Let's talk more about this historic visit with Father James Martin, editor-at-large of "America" magazine, also a Jesuit, just like the pope.

When you look at the decline of the Catholic Church in terms of engagement, they've lost a significant amount of their following in Latin America, they've lost a significant amount of their following in the United States here, especially among young people, but this pope seems to be changing the game.

FATHER JAMES MARTIN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, AMERICA MAGAZINE: He is. People like him. I think one of the reasons they like him in terms of challenging them in terms of faith is he speaks very bluntly and directly. He speaks like a pastor. He also speaks in gestures. You saw him hugging the kids at the airports and that communicates something to people.

HARLOW: We saw the pope arriving after a long parade that was flanked with people in Cuba, thrilled. What are the conversations likely happening right now and why is it significant he's going here?

MARTIN: Well, it's a good question. This is where the apostolic ambassador to Cuba lives and is accompanied by Cardinal Ortega, who knows Cuba pretty well. He'll speak to them about what he can expect, themes in the masses, as well.

HARLOW: Let's talk about the significance of the friendship between Pope Francis and Raul Castro and the significant rule that Cardinal Ortega played in thawing diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.

MARTIN: Cardinal Ortega was kind of the go between, between Raul Castro and President Obama, and because he was so trusted by Raul Castro, you know, he was able to kind of act as that intermediary and really help to thaw things, so I think he's sort of the hero of the hour.

HARLOW: And the friendship, I mean, the thing that Raul Castro has said, a Communist leader, are stunning. Let me read you one that he said recently. "If the pope continues this way, I will go back to praying and go back to the church, and I am not joking."

That coming from the leader of a Communist country where, before, not that long ago, people weren't allowed to embrace religion.

MARTIN: Honestly, you're right, it is stunning and to see the picture of Jesus in Revolutionary Square with the gospel verse, "Come to me, all you who labor and I'll give you rest." It's a revolution of another sort.

HARLOW: Pope Francis, after he leaves Cuba, will be the first pope to address Congress. This, at the same time that you've got, I believe, seven of the candidates running for office right now that are Catholics. What do we expect?

MARTIN: Well, I think the pope is going to talk about a few things. First, the poor, which is one of his great themes; income inequality; certainly, climate change, which was the subject of the recent encyclical; and refugee and migrant crisis.

HARLOW: It's fascinating to cover this pope because he really speaks off the cuff and he talked about capitalism and certain forms of capitalism as the dung of the devil, those were his words, right, and he talked about -- he shamed people when talking about climate change and calling them why haven't we seen more done. Do you expect very tough language, biting words in front of Congress?

MARTIN: I expect tough language, you know, the sort of role of the Christian is not only to comfort the afflicted, but afflict the comfortable, but he'll also say, obviously, good things about American culture and praise us, but it's going to be, I think, difficult for people in Congress to hear some of his messages.

HARLOW: But all of them except for one, we expect, will be there. There's one Arizona Congressman, Representative Paul Gosar, Catholic, who says he'll skip the pope's address, first address from a pope to U.S. Congress, because of the pope's position on climate change. And he said he hasn't spoken out about the conflict of Islam and Planned Parenthood controversy. What do you make of that?

MARTIN: I think it's unbelievable. The fact that you wouldn't let the person speak to you, as a Catholic, that you're not going to see the pope is unbelievable to me. This is a person who is Catholic and went to a Jesuit school, and part of the Jesuit tradition is listening to people you don't agree with, so I frankly found that unbelievable.

HARLOW: Listening to people you don't agree with?

MARTIN: Of course. I think it's actually rude, as well.

HARLOW: Thank you very much for being with us.

MARTIN: You're welcome.

HARLOW: I appreciate the insight. I know you're very excited, as are all of us, for the pope's visit here in New York, Washington, and Philadelphia.

Thank you so much, Father.

MARTIN: Thank you.

HARLOW: Appreciate it.

The enormous challenge of protecting the pope. How do you do that with all of the focus, the world's eyes, on him? I will be joined by a security expert to talk about it, next.


[17:40:55] HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow, in New York. Thank you so much for joining us as we follow the pope's historic visit, first, to Cuba, then here to the United States.

Our Rosa Flores is live in Havana. She has the extraordinary job of flying with the pope from Rome to Havana. She will be with him on this entire trip.

Rosa, I have to begin as you tell me about this remarkable experience with showing everyone the photograph of the pope blessing you. What was it like?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it was just such an incredible moment, Poppy. I really have no words to describe it other than he has just so much grace with people. We spent about 45 seconds together. We joked a little bit about actually a friend of his, a priest that I talked to before I got on the plane. And the priest told me, you know, "Give him a hug for me, Rosa. I didn't dare to hug a Holy Father. Let me just put it that way." But then the Holy Father goes on to tell me, Poppy, hear this. He says -- "This father, how dare he come to me two days before the conclave and ask me how I'm doing." He's like, who in their right mind would ask me that. Oh, with just such emotion, Poppy. Everybody around us. I can't wait to show you this video, because everybody just starts laughing. And then I had a tiny token, a small gift for the Holy Father. As you probably know, Mexican Catholics are very devout to Our Lady of Guadalupe, so I brought a little prayer for him, because, of course, I'm Mexican, Mexican-American. So you should see his face. As soon as he sees it, he grabs my prayer card from my hand, he starts kissing it. Oh, I almost went speechless, because I wanted to chat with him and I'm looking at the pope and he is just lighting up, looking at Our Lady of Guadalupe. Then, of course, I asked him for his blessing, and that's the picture that you were able to see.

HARLOW: It's amazing, Rosa. You said you were sitting sort in the back of the plane, so I'm interested in, did he just sort of walk to the back of the plane and say hello to all the journalists?

FLORES: It was remarkable. As soon as he got off the ground, you know, all the journalists were tweeting, sending our last photos because we know we're not going to have any Internet on the plane. Lo and behold we see Father Lombardi coming up and everybody starts just looking around. We see all of the photographers putting up their cameras and we're like, OK, the pope is definitely coming. Moments later, you see the pope come up after a brief introduction, he speaks to all of the journalists, greets everybody, and then goes aisle by aisle, Poppy, giving attention to every single journalist, allowing them to introduce themselves, give him little tokens of appreciation and just chatting with everybody. It was an incredible moment. He did a "u" shape around the entire back of the plane and then back in front where he sat for the rest of the flight.

HARLOW: They call him the pope of the people. He certainly, certainly is.

And, Rosa, before I let you go, we're seeing you and the other journalists in this video now. I know one of the journalists, Father Martin, said I have a cold, don't come too close because I don't want to be the one who got the pope a cold before this historic visit.

Before I let you go, Rosa, very quickly, one word to describe him, what is it?

FLORES: Mercy. He's a pope of mercy. I'm sure of that.

HARLOW: That's beautiful.

Rosa, thank you.

Quick break. We're back on the other side.


[11:44:00] HARLOW: There are huge security challenges protecting the pope on a trip like this from Cuba to the United States. The chairman of the Congressional Homeland Security Committee confirming at least one plot against the pope from ISIS had been disrupted.

Let's talk about all of this and how to protect the pontiff with Andreas Widmer, author of "The Pope and the CEO: John Paul II's Leadership Lesson to a Young Swiss Guard."

Thank you for being here.

ANDREAS WIDMER, FORMER SWISS GUARD: Thank you, Poppy. Thank you for having me.

HARLOW: You were that young Swiss Guard. You helped protect Pope John Paul II. Talk to me about -- we see this great picture of you doing that. Tell me what it is like, especially on an overseas trip.

WIDMER: So I actually never went overseas with the Holy Father. I protected John Paul II. But many of my colleagues and superiors did. And when the pope goes overseas, his security is actually provided just like any head of state. The security is provided by the visiting -- by the host country. So when he comes here to the United States, the Secret Service provides security. Swiss Guards, the personal guards of the Holy Father, go with him but only a few people do the security right around him. And that's, of course, on a trip like this, tedious and tiresome because it's 24/7.

[17:50:18] HARLOW: Sure.

WIDMER: You're always awake. You switch off with each other and you do the most close personal protection.

HARLOW: One of the things you noted is that what makes protecting the pope so unique, perhaps, different than protecting a president, is that you have to protect him in a way does not interfere with his ministry.

WIDMER: Yeah. You know, it's so beautiful I could -- I saw the report you just had with Rosa, and you can how absolutely marvelous it was of the interaction she had? She was a journalist, she was on the plane, but this is going to happen on the street of New York and D.C. and Philly and in Cuba. The pope is not a political leader. People keep forgetting that. It's very important to understand, he's a spiritual leader and the pope is a ministry. Being a pope is a ministry. If you can't do the ministry, you're not the pope. What we always try to do is to say the security needs to be very strong and very good, but it ought not to impede his ministry, because if you take the ministry away from the pope, it's not the pope.

HARLOW: Very important point. Defeats the entire purpose, right?

At the same time, we saw him 45 minutes when he got off the plane, gave his speech at airport in the pope-mobile, completely open air. We understand that's how he will travel here in the United States, as well. Not every pope does that out in the open. How does that change the security response around him?

WIDMER: There -- I see how people talk about what's the level of security, there's no code orange or code red or anything. I mean, why would you ever give less security than you're capable of? The security for the Holy Father is always the same. The Swiss Guards don't have different levels of security. It's always the best security you can give.

And let me just say about, you know, I'm -- you can feel the joy people seeing the Holy Father right now, and Pope Francis is doing a really great job and he excites people. Let's not forget, though, that John Paul was just -- if I see all of the pictures, that's exactly what I saw when I was with John Paul, that he went around in an open car and he kissed the babies and he was, in a sense, this pope of mercy and pope of personal interactions. That is nothing new for us. This is something we deal with all of the time.

HARLOW: What a remarkable experience you had being that close --


WIDMER: Definitely -- definitely an honor, yeah.

HARLOW: -- from the pope.

Thank you so much Andrews Widmer. We appreciate it.

WIDMER: My pleasure.

HARLOW: Also want to point you to fascinating special about Pope Francis, the CNN special report, "The People's Pope," that is this Tuesday night, 9:00 eastern, only right here on CNN.

Thank you so much for being with me tonight. It has been a lot of fun watching the pope land in Havana. Remarkable to watch him. We will continue our live coverage throughout the next week of the pope.

I will be back here in one hour's time. We are monitoring Donald Trump speaking live in Iowa.

But stay with us. Quick break. "Smerconish" is right after that.


[17:57:43] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: I'm Michael Smerconish. What a week. Everything has changed. I'm back from Simi Valley, where I witnessed CNN's game-changing debate firsthand. I found something buried in the Reagan Library that Donald Trump should have seen before he took the debate stage. More on that later.

Although Trump may be on the cover of next week's "New York" magazine as saving our democracy, he ended the week banged up pretty badly. Meanwhile, Carly Fiorina's stock is rising. But will the CEO record that she keeps bragging about prove her undoing?

And now the "Wall Street Journal" is reporting that Joe Biden is more likely getting in the race.

You will not find a smarter group of people this weekend to unpack all of this. David Axelrod is here. Bob Beckel is here. Pulitzer prize- winner, Kathleen Parker, is here. I've even got the guy whose Fiorina article Trump cited in the debate and Carly dismissed as a Clintonite.

Here's the big question: Is the air coming out of the Trump balloon. I think Carly won the debate. As I predicted, the intimate Reagan Library venue and nearly three-hour format demanded more substance than Trump could offer. Then he failed to rein in some knuckleheaded questioner and ended the week by canceling an appearance in South Carolina, citing a business conflict.

Joining me, David Axelrod, CNN senior political commentator, former senior advisor to Barack Obama.

David, you recently told "The Washington Post" that you want to be known for expertise not as a surrogate for Democrats. Let's tart with the Republican presidential race. Is this what the beginning of the end looks like for Donald Trump?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think so. Look, Michael, you've been a student of this for a long time. I think presidential races run in phases and I wrote a piece for today and I talked about this spring is for casual dating. In the summer, there are often these torrid romances are never going to go anywhere. But in the fall, people start looking for solid, dependable, reliable, long-term relationships. And the tests get harder for candidates. I think Donald Trump failed the test at end of the week when he was confronted with that questioner about the president's -- who accused the president again of being a close Muslim. I don' think that's a -- I don't think being a Muslim should be a slander in any case.