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New Poll Qualifies Michael Bloomberg for Next Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate; Michael Bloomberg in Second Behind Bernie Sanders in National Polling of Democratic Presidential Candidates; 13 Americans Sent to Omaha Facility from Evacuation Flights. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired February 18, 2020 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00]

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a trap. And that's the reality check.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much, John. We really appreciate that.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Great "Star Wars" reference. Appreciate that.

CAMEROTA: And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you CNN Newsroom is next. For our U.S. viewers, we have big news in the Democratic race. NEW DAY continues right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your New Day. It is Tuesday, February 18th, 8:00 in the east. John Berman is off. Jim Sciutto is here. Very busy morning. Great to have you.

OK, we begin with 2020 news this morning. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has officially qualified for the Democratic debate tomorrow night. He will be on stage in Las Vegas, though his name is not on the ballot for Saturday's Nevada caucuses. There's this new national poll that puts Bloomberg in second place with 19 percent. That's neck and neck with Joe Biden. He trails Bernie Sanders who now has a double-digit lead at 31 percent, as you can see on your screen there. There will be six Democrats debating tomorrow night on stage.

SCIUTTO: That's going to be a fiery debate. Bloomberg has not been on a debate stage for 11 years. But CNN has learned he has spent weeks preparing for this moment as he pours nearly half-a-billion dollars of his own money into ads across the country. His focus has been on Super Tuesday states, hoping to score a big share of the delegates for the Democratic nomination. CNN senior politics writer and analyst Harry Enten joins us now with the numbers. A big bump here for Bloomberg.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: I would say it is a big bump for Bloomberg, Jim. Let me just point out exactly what we're dealing with, with this poll, and then we'll get into some specifics. Look at this. Bernie Sanders all the up to 31 percent here. But a new person right near the top of the field, Michael Bloomberg here at 19 percent. Joe Biden dropping down to 15 percent.

But I want to also point out these other candidates as well. Pete Buttigieg, of course, did really, really well in Iowa and New Hampshire. New Hampshire came in a close second. Iowa basically a tie for first with Bernie Sanders. But he's down here at the bottom at just eight percent. Elizabeth Warren, whose campaign is struggling at just 12 percent. Amy Klobuchar who had that impressive finish in New Hampshire in third place, she is all the way down at nine.

But let's take a look at some of these trend lines which I think are so important. Michael Bloomberg entered the race and was basically nowhere in the polls, right. But then spent $400 million or more. And take a look at this trend line that we're seeing both in this NPR/Marist poll, but of course we're seeing it across the polling. In December, he was just at four. Look at him now, all the way up to 19 percent.

But I don't want to lose track of the fact that Bernie Sanders is also climbing. He was at 22 percent in December in this poll and he's at 31 percent now. And we're seeing that again across all the polls. And what I should point out for both of these numbers for Bloomberg and for Sanders is these are the best numbers for both of them in CNN approved national polls for this entire cycle. So both of them really climbing up.

But, of course, this poll matters for a big important reason. Why? It was a qualifying poll for Mike Bloomberg. With his 19 percent in the Marist College/NPR poll, he qualifies for the debate. So what is the debate lineup we're looking at for tomorrow night? Right now we're looking at Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Elizabeth Warren. And I'm going to be really interested to see how Biden, Bloomberg, and Sanders interact.

But of course, as Alisyn was pointing out to me before last hour, it's states that vote. There's no national primary. So there was this new poll from Marist University in Virginia, which of course is an important Super Tuesday state. This is just out the last hour and a half. What do we see? Look who is tied in first place, Michael Bloomberg at 22 percent, Bernie Sanders at 22 percent, Joe Biden within the margin of error at 18 percent. But again, here what we see, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Warren way back despite the fact that Buttigieg did so well in both Iowa and New Hampshire, just 11 percent. And look at Elizabeth Warren, all the way down to five percent. We're seeing that across the polls. She, simply put, is going nowhere fast.

CAMEROTA: I have so much to teach you, grasshopper.

ENTEN: You teach me so much every day.

CAMEROTA: I know. Harry, thank you. That was great. Thanks for those numbers. Sources tell CNN that Mike Bloomberg has been preparing for his debate debut for weeks. He's also been busy taking aim at the Democratic frontrunner, Senator Bernie Sanders. CNN's Arlette Saenz is live in Las Vegas at the site of tonight's CNN town halls. So what are we looking at there?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Alisyn, these polls are now bringing a major shake-up to the Democratic debate stage as Bloomberg is preparing to face off against his rivals for the first time in the cycle. He has essentially been running parallel to a lot of these Democrats, has not engaged with them face-to-face. He hasn't done a lot of media interviews. So he could be the focus and the target of incoming fire when the debate takes place tomorrow night.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have both been quite vocal about the fact that Michael Bloomberg is spending millions of his own dollars in this race.

[08:05:01]

Joe Biden has said that he's eager for Bloomberg to endure the same scrutiny that he has, particularly on issues relating to race and the stop and frisk policy. But we're also now seeing this shift from Michael Bloomberg who has focused much of his attention on President Trump, and now he is turning some of his criticism towards Bernie Sanders. He released a digital video yesterday that took on some of Sanders' supporters who have engaged in aggressive tactics, suggesting that the Vermont senator needs to do more to denounce them. That's something that Joe Biden has also talked about.

But as you mentioned, Michael Bloomberg's team, they found out today they are officially on that debate stage, but they've been preparing for this debate for quite some time. He's been engaging in mock debate prep sessions. One of his top advisers is playing Bernie Sanders. So they are ready. They are aware that he may become a major target on that debate stage as we are just four days out from the caucuses. Michael Bloomberg is not on the ballot here.

And also before all of this takes place, CNN tonight has a few presidential town halls with Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar, and two more on Thursday night. Alisyn and Jim?

CAMEROTA: It's a busy week. Arlette, thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: It is. There are going to be some moments on that debate stage.

President Trump has turned his own focus to attacking Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg given their rise in the polls. Joining us now to tell us what's going on behind the scenes, CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for "The New York Times." So imagine that country of 330 million people, two New York billionaires running possibly against each other.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What are the odds? SCIUTTO: You have the advantage, Maggie Haberman, of having covered both these people. I have a lot of questions for you. One is, is Trump worried about facing Bloomberg in the general?

HABERMAN: He's worried about Bloomberg generally. It's really interesting, most of Trump's advisers have been telling him, don't focus on Bloomberg. Don't tweet about him. You're just elevating him. He's not getting that much attention. Trump obviously couldn't help himself. But in fairness, part of why is he kept telling his aides do not underestimate him, because he thought the money was going to make a difference. And as we have seen, in terms of how Bloomberg is polling, he's right. Bloomberg has been able to swamp the results. The non-result in Iowa, which I do think set the table for him in New Hampshire, was perceived, but New Hampshire provided a clear result. It was a muddle, but we saw who won, and it still didn't really give anybody a boost. The only person who has done well since is Mike Bloomberg.

So I think the president had a reason to be concerned, and I think he has said that to his aides and he is clearly going to continue to do what he knows how to do, which is just swing at the target.

CAMEROTA: Also, there were voters of course who voted for Donald Trump because he was perceived as a successful billionaire. And Mike Bloomberg is that times 60.

HABERMAN: Bloomberg is the businessman who President Trump always sort of tried to be, right, or wanted to be or wanted to leave the impression of being. Bloomberg actually is a self-made man. Bloomberg is worth many, many times what President Trump is. And Bloomberg represents that type of New York financial elite who didn't really take President Trump seriously before he was president. And I think the president is aware of all of that.

But you make an interesting point, which is that President Trump is aware of what a different kind of candidate can look like to voters, somebody who is an outsider, somebody who can be a change candidate, and all of that I think was in his head as he was watching Mike Bloomberg.

SCIUTTO: Bloomberg is doing what President Trump said he would do, self-finance, of course, never did. Self-finance --

HABERMAN: A third of his money was his own, but, yes.

SCIUTTO: So let's look at these latest polls, because interesting at the top of both of these. First, the national poll, PBS, it's got Sanders and now Bloomberg jumping to 19 percent there, qualifies him for the debate. But let's also look at this Virginia poll. Virginia, big state in the general. It's got Bloomberg and Sanders at the top as well at 22-22. Biden in third place in both of those polls. Are these now in your view, the two frontrunners?

HABERMAN: I don't know that I would say two frontrunners. It's hard to say that when Mike Bloomberg has not actually faced a vote yet. So I think that we need to bear in mind that what this looks like in polls, look at Joe Biden, can look very different once people start casting their ballots.

But because Bloomberg is somebody who can just keep spending on himself, you can't ever rule him out in the way that you might other candidates who have limited resources. I do think a lot is riding on how he does in this debate. The last time Mike Bloomberg debated was 2009 and it was against one candidate, not against a handful, many of whom are going to be training to fire at him. And while he got better over the course of his campaigns at debating, this was not really his natural state.

So I understand that they are saying they're ready for it. I think they're aware they have to be ready for it. I don't know that Mike Bloomberg is.

CAMEROTA: One more Bloomberg question, and that is he seems totally willing and able and, in fact, relishing the idea of going after President Trump with -- meeting insult for insult. And we've seen this. He's tweeting about -- using all sorts of insults. Just immediately if Bloomberg is insulted, he just gives it right back. How is the president dealing with that? Are they changing their strategy for attacking Bloomberg?

[08:10:04]

HABERMAN: There's no strategy. President Trump has tactics. And he has like one or three tactics, and the one he's using on Mike Bloomberg is the one of just attack, attack, attack, find some weakness. I know that the campaign likes to say that Bloomberg isn't bothered by the height attacks, and maybe he isn't now. Certainly, it was an issue that bothered him when he was mayor and they wouldn't really talk about it when he was mayor.

But I don't think Mike Bloomberg, and I think you make a point that's important, Mike Bloomberg and maybe Bernie Sanders are the only two who have not had a fear of President Trump going at them. They don't really care if he's attacking. Mike Bloomberg really, I think, generally doesn't care. Even if the specific nature of the attack annoys him, he doesn't have the same level of fear of what President Trump's attacks mean for him down the road. When you have that much money, you don't really have a ton to lose. I don't think the president quite knows what to do with an opponent like this other than just enjoy sort of the scrum of the Democrats right now.

SCIUTTO: A couple of weeks ago when there was a Senate impeachment trial, or a million years ago in news years --

(LAUGHTER)

SCIUTTO: -- John Bolton was the potential grenade to be thrown in the midst of this. Of course, he did not testify. Senator did not vote. Bolton missed other opportunities to tell his story. He's got a book. He teased some of it, but in kind of Bolton style say wait for the book and I'll tell you the full story here. Unless it's successfully blocked by the White House, it will come out in March or before the election. Does this have political impact, or did he miss his moment? HABERMAN: I think -- look, I think it might have commercial impact.

And I do think that -- I think that there are portions of it that are very likely to be blocked. He's not the first person in history to go through this review process, but certainly he has a more sensitive one.

Look, what we had described to us of what was in the brook was incredibly damning about President Trump as he was making a case claiming different facts during the impeachment hearing. But I think as you've seen with John Bolton or John Kelly, or you can go down the list, there are a lot of people who are saying, I will speak if you pay me $75,000. And they're not saying that they will speak just because it's the right thing to do. And I think that Bolton is walking a real line where he's going to risk people sort of thinking, well, he's just juicing this for book sales. It can call into question what the story he's telling at a certain point, and I think that is a real risk for him.

CAMEROTA: Doesn't it just seem as though the White House or the NSC or President Trump will classify the whole book and put the kibosh on it? Isn't that what we're looking at?

HABERMAN: I think that's possible. I don't want to make predictions because I don't know, but certainly the president has already indicated that he's going to do that. The president can classify, in retrospect, retroactively, a lot of things. And so it would not surprise me if this ends up being one of them. Will that necessarily be an appropriate use of classification? I don't know. But I think it's very possible.

SCIUTTO: He's declassified where he wanted to, those Iranian photos. He took them out of his intelligence briefing and he shared it with foreign adversaries in the Oval Office, so he might classify with intent here.

Tell us about Joe Biden, just because in these polls, listen, they weren't horrible numbers in either Virginia or in the national poll, third place. But Biden has real tests coming up, does he not, in Nevada and in South Carolina?

HABERMAN: I think he has a bigger test in South Carolina, frankly. That is the state that he has set up as basically his do or die. Nevada has been less so. But his team has certainly predicted that they expect to do well in Nevada, and it's the kind of prediction that you don't normally see a campaign that has struggled the way his has make. You would think that they would be lowering expectations. However, we should also consider the flipside. What if Biden wins South Carolina? What does it mean for this race? It confuses it more. It doesn't clarify it.

SCIUTTO: We said, the one consistency about this race is inconsistency.

HABERMAN: Yes, yes.

SCIUTTO: Who we said was the frontrunner a month ago or two months ago, who knows?

HABERMAN: Right. We don't know. We'll know a little more after the debate, but even then, not necessarily that much.

CAMEROTA: But the one consistency is, this is your moment, Maggie Haberman.

HABERMAN: Thanks. Never forget, we're the real story. That's incredibly important. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's exactly right.

HABERMAN: I'm kidding, for people watching on Twitter.

CAMEROTA: For the humor-impaired people watching. Maggie, thanks.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

Be sure to join us for the first of two nights of presidential town halls live from Las Vegas. It kicks off tonight with Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, then Thursday with Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. Be sure to watch tonight beginning at 8:00 eastern time only on CNN.

CAMEROTA: OK, now to this story. The number of coronavirus cases growing again overnight. What about the quarantine on that ship, it doesn't seem to be containing the outbreak. Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains next.

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[08:18:15]

CAMEROTA: Thirteen Americans who were evacuated from the quarantined cruise ship in Japan have now been moved to a specialized medical facility in Omaha, Nebraska. CNN spoke to one of the people quarantined there.

And Nick Watt is live for us in Omaha with more.

What did you learn, Nick?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was Carl Goodman. He's a 66- year-old from California. He has the virus, but I've got to say he was in pretty good spirits.

He says he's getting excellent care from doctor and two nurses who are all wearing full hazmat suits. As you mentioned, 13 American citizens who were on board the Diamond Princess are now in this hospital behind me. They're all being kept in separate rooms. So, Carl and his wife are actually speaking with each other via FaceTime because they are not allowed to meet face-to-face. He has the virus. The last we heard, she does not.

Now, the reason they are here in Omaha, this is one of the only facilities in the country that has what's called a bio-containment unit. They have treated people suffering from Ebola here in the past. It's been open 15 years.

They've trained for situations like this. They have put that training into practice. And they are very confident that this is probably the best place for these passengers who were aboard the Diamond Princess to be.

Now as I mentioned, Carl is pretty happy, but some other people who were aboard that Diamond Princess ship are not.

Now, they've been under quarantine since February 3rd. They were thinking, hoping that that quarantine period was coming to an end. They got on the plane back to the U.S., and they now have to be in quarantine here on U.S. soil for another 14 days.

[08:20:02]

Some of those people are upset. These guys here, Carl Goodman seems in good spirits but he will also be here for at least another two weeks -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Nick Watt, thank you very much for reporting from Omaha for us.

So, overnight, there were 88 new cases of coronavirus on board that quarantined cruise ship.

SCIUTTO: Just on one ship.

CAMEROTA: New cases. At least they tested positive for the first time. That brings the total number of cases to 544 on board that ship.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now.

Sanjay, I'm so glad you're here because I feel like this cruise ship is maybe teaching us something or teaching doctors something, it's its own little horrible biosphere of how this disease is spread.

And so, can you conclude, since everybody has been in quarantine there on the ship, for two weeks, but it's still spreading or people are still testing positive. So, does that mean it's more than person to person contact?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that has to be a -- considered a possibility, Alisyn. This may be spreading in ways beyond just what we've been hearing in terms of respiratory droplets.

There's a couple of things that came to mind. Cruise ships are notorious incubators of viruses, even before we ever started talking about coronavirus. I mean, there's all sorts of viruses that spread on cruise ships.

I think the quarantine, obviously, just really didn't work for what people thought it was going to do. People weren't really isolated. People got up and about. We know the crew, people still were doubling up in rooms among the crew. Crew was walking around the ship. So, there were all sorts of different avenues by which this virus

could have continued to transmit. I mean -- and I think that's probably what we're seeing here. It's possible some of the people did get infected before the quarantine started, and tested positive near the end of that incubation period.

But, obviously, this is a concern here. I think in terms of the quarantine, it was more in some ways to protect people off the ship than on the ship because so many people on the ship, obviously, are contracting the virus.

But, Alisyn, to your point, we saw this with SARS. I covered the story back in 2003 and it started off very much the same way in terms of how the virus was transmitted. And then as things progressed, we started to learn there may have been other ways this virus was spreading as well.

Is that the case here? I don't think that Dr. Fauci who you had on earlier, is ready to say that or other people are ready to say that. But it's got to be a consideration. What exactly happened on that ship? Why did so many people actually contract the virus?

SCIUTTO: So, let me ask a bigger picture question then, Sanjay, because it's not just on ships where people are being confined. You look at China, 750 million people in effect being confined to quarters here. I saw one doctor saying we're using 14th century methods to respond to this disease here.

I mean, is that a mistake? I mean, is it possible that that confinement is worsening the infection right?

GUPTA: It could possibly be worsening the infection rate for people that are within those spaces. I guess that's the concern here. Is it working in the sense of preventing the virus from becoming more widespread outside those concentric circles? Perhaps. But within those spaces, where people are being quarantined, where you know you have infection, if people are truly isolated within their homes, not coming into contact with other people, I think it can be effective. It seems to be effective in those situations.

But if people violate that, which is expected -- I mean, you know, on the cruise ship, I'm sure that was happening to some extent, then, you know, you have a pretty transmissible virus. So, if people don't -- if it doesn't work 100 percent, it probably doesn't work very well at all, I guess is my point. It has to be perfect for it to work.

In this case, you have people actually who were still milling about on the cruise ship. I'm sure that's happening in the other quarantined areas as well.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, we had a woman on earlier who has tested positive. She's sitting, waiting for some word, waiting to now test negative in a Tokyo hospital. Her name is Rebecca. She said that she never felt symptoms.

She said, One day she had a mild cough. Turns out she was positive. She's been Her next throat swab is tomorrow. Help our viewers understand.

Do most people resolve this virus on their own? Why then are so many other people dying?

GUPTA: Yes, so let me -- let me give you a little bit of context here for that, because there's two things that end up being important. The transmissibility, which we just talked about with regard to the cruise ship and quarantined areas, but then the severity of this as well.

So the study came out of China specifically looking at the first 44,000, 45,000 patients or so that had been studied that were confirmed to have the infection. And what they found was that 80 percent roughly, I think we have the graphics, 80 percent had basically minimal or no symptoms at all out of those 44,000.

[08:25:03]

Fourteen percent had serious disease like pneumonia, five percent critical like sepsis, and then they called it a 2 percent fatality rate. That number you have to take with a little bit of a grain of salt because the deaths we know, the deaths we can say for the most part we know who has died of coronavirus. There might be a few that are missed but for the most part you've got that.

But the number of people who are infected, you know, could be much, much higher because a lot of people may never seek out medical care. Like Rebecca, the woman who you're talking to earlier, had she not been in this situation, she developed a little cough, low grade fever. Would she have even gone to the doctor? Probably not. Would she have ever been tested? Probably not, she wouldn't have counted.

So it could be hundreds of thousands of people which would bring the fatality rate lower.

So, Alisyn, yes, people are getting sick. People are dying, but the vast majority of people who contract this virus, 8 out of 10, so far, seem to have no or minimal symptoms.

CAMEROTA: That's comforting.

SCIUTTO: The question, of course, becomes, does it spread, does it become global in which case you have millions of people and, therefore, the 2 percent fatality rate say --

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: Greater number.

SCIUTTO: -- significant number.

We know you're going to be on top of it, Sanjay. Thanks so much.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: President Trump has been rising on the strength of the economy to carry him. But are things any better, statistically, than they were under President Obama? We're going to have a debate you don't want to miss, next.

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