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Democrats Face Off In Las Vegas; Early Voting Boosts Turnout In Nevada; Workers Strikes On The Rise Despite Strong Economy; Trump Appoints Loyal Ally Richard Grenell To Be Acting DNI; Coronavirus Kills Two Cruise Ship Passengers; Deadly Hookah Lounge Attacks In Germany; Antibiotics Linked To Increased Risk Of Birth Defects; Court: Florida Can't Bar Felons From Vote Over Fines, Fees; 2 Teens Plead Not Guilty In College Student's Murder; Nine Million In South Facing Wintry Weather; Child's Hug Gives Pizza Delivery Man Hope After Tragedy; Queen Reveals She Once Wore Braces; Woman Plays Violin While Undergoing Brain Surgery; S&P 500 and NASDAQ Close At Record Highs; Groupon To Stop Selling Goods After Stock Drops; TikTok Rolls Out New Parental Controls. Aired 3:30-4a ET

Aired February 20, 2020 - 03:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: The civility of past Democratic debates is a distant memory now. The latest face off filled with deeply personal attacks as the clock ticks to Super Tuesday. Welcome back to "Early Start". I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It is exactly 30 minutes past the hour. Easily the most fierce debate yet of the Democratic Presidential race. Six Democrats on stage, no one completely safe.

Bernie Sanders came in as the front runner, which would normally paint a target on his back, but got off comparatively easy with his rivals focused on the new candidate on stage, Mike Bloomberg. Here's two hours of debate boiled down.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think there's any chance of Senator beating President Trump.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse faced lesbians. And no, I'm not talking about Donald Trump, I'm talking about Mayor Bloomberg.

BLOOMBERG: The one thing that I'm really worried about, embarrassed about was how it turned out with stop and frisk. I thought that my first responsibility was to give people the right to lives, it got out of control.

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not whether he apologized or not. It's the policy. The policy was abhorrent. BLOOMBERG: If we took off everybody that was wrong off this panel, everybody that was wrong on criminal justice at some time in their careers, there'd be nobody else up here.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's put forward somebody who's actually a Democrat. We shouldn't have to choose between one candidate who wants to burn this party down and another candidate who wants to buy this party out.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If there are a few people who make ugly remarks, who attack trade union leaders, I disown those people.

BUTTIGIEG: Why did this pattern arise? Why is it especially the case among your supporters that this happens?

SANDERS: I don't think it is especially the case by the way.

BUTTIGIEG: That's just not true.

WARREN: It's not a plan. It's PowerPoint. And Amy's plan is even less, it's like a Post-it Note, insert plan here.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I take personal offense since Post-it Notes were invented in my state.

BLOOMBERG: I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior that the MeToo movement has exposed. And anybody that does anything wrong in our company, we investigate it, and if it's appropriate, they're gone that day.

WARREN: And I hope you've heard what his defense was, "I've been nice to some women."


WARREN: That just doesn't cut it.

SANDERS: A function of a rational healthcare system is not to make the pharmaceutical industry and the drug companies rich. It is to provide health care to all people.

BIDEN: And I notice what everybody's talking about is the plan that I first introduced. For it they're making sure that Mike and other people pay the same tax rate their secretary pays at.

BLOOMBERG: Facts are I was there--

BIDEN: Didn't you call it (CROSSTALK)

BLOOMBERG: Let me finish. Thank you.

KLOBUCHAR: They were talking a lot about heart conditions up here. We have a President right now that doesn't have a heart.

BIDEN: The only company we can't go after are gun manufacturers, because of my buddy here, but that's a different-


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: We're going to stay

SANDERS: Billionaires today, if you can believe it, have an effective tax rate lower than the middle-class. So maybe just-

BLOOMBERG: Senator, you're writing the tax code. Why are you complaining? Who wrote the code?

KLOBUCHAR: We have not been talking enough about Donald Trump.

SANDERS: I want workers to be able to sit on corporate boards--

BLOOMBERG: I can't think of a ways would make it easier for Donald Trump to get reelected and listening to this conversation. We're not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism and it just didn't work.

KLOBUCHAR: I wish everyone is - was as perfect as you, Pete, but let me tell you what it's like to be in the arena.

BUTTIGIEG: Maybe leading a diverse city that was facing ruin doesn't sound like the arena to you. I'm used to senators telling mayors that senators are more important than mayors, but this is the arena too. You don't have to be in Washington to matter.

BLOOMBERG: What a wonderful country we have, the best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What I miss here?

SANDERS: Well, you missed that I work in Washington, house one.

BLOOMBERG: That's the first problem.



JARRETT: All right, let's bring in the CNN Politics Senior Writer Zach Wolf live for us in Washington. Zach, you know, usually the front runner is the one who takes on all the incoming fire. But it seems like the presence of Bloomberg on that stage last night really changed the dynamic and Sanders sort of just go off a little bit easy, right?

ZACH WOLF, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: Yes, he kind of walked off there. He did take some fire, I think, you know, particularly from Bloomberg, a little bit on his medical records and some other things. But really it was Bloomberg that was taking fire from Sanders, fire from Warren, fire from Biden.


The entire field felt like it was honed in on him as the new guy on the block, who has come in with his billions of dollars. He's spent $400 million already on this race and he hasn't even appeared on a ballot yet. So he has a target on his back. Even though he doesn't have any delegates and he's not going to be on a ballot until Super Tuesday.

ROMANS: The clock is ticking here. You saw six candidates on that stage and you could tell that the clock is ticking. I mean, look at for example, Pete Buttigieg, mayor - former mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar, I mean, they - there were some tense moments between those two as well.

WOLF: Yes. And I think that you saw people like Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, who are in sort of the same space going after each other a little bit. Whereas, with Elizabeth Warren, she just went after everybody, and Bernie Sanders a little bit, but not quite as hard, because she doesn't want to alienate Bernie Sanders supporters. But she really went after Mike Bloomberg in a very aggressive way and really landed some hard knocks on the on the former New York mayor.

ROMANS: Well, he's - when he talked about those non-disclosure agreements and he said how much he supported the MeToo movement and - in his firm what happens if someone - somebody is kicked out right away if they do something wrong. I mean, those NDAs are kind of the oxygen for - (CROSSTALK)

JARRETT: --you can't talk about him.

ROMANS: For this bad behavior to go on for decades, because of these NDAs that he would not budge on that.

JARRETT: Yes. Zach, I also want to get your thoughts on something that happened at the very end of the night, when Chuck Todd asked everyone about the fact that there may come to a point - we're at the very end of this, and none of these nominees take away the majority of delegates. Listen to how Bernie Sanders answer this.


SANDERS: Well, the process includes 500 super delegates on the second ballot. So I think that the--


SANDERS: --that the will of the people should prevail.

TODD: Okay.


TODD: OK. Thank you guys.

SANDERS: --who has the most votes should become the nominee.

TODD: Five nos and a yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: What do you make of that?

WOLF: That is an extremely thing that he just said, because if Bernie Sanders goes into the convention - and this is quite likely, actually. If he goes into the convention, he doesn't have a majority of the delegates needed to clinch the nomination, but he has the majority - you know, that he has the most delegates, his people will argue that he should get the nomination.

Whereas, the rest of the Democratic Party, he's not a Democrat. Remember. A lot of the other Democrats in the room will say, "Well, he didn't get a majority of the Democrats. We should maybe, you know, see if there's somebody else."

Brokered convention, this kind of thing hasn't happened in recent years. It would be basically unprecedented in times. But in in modern times, however, I think Bernie Sanders is such a departure for Democrats and he is so far to the left, that you will see them start to talk about this more serious. I

ROMANS: I think Trump supporters liked what they saw last night. They like this infighting among the party. And it reminds us of something that former President Obama said almost a year ago - last April, when he talked about, how the party has to be careful about tearing itself apart, trying to find their new leader. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: And one of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States, maybe it's true here as well, is a certain kind of, rigidity - "sorry, this is how it's going to be." And then we start sometimes creating what's called a circular firing squad were you start shooting at your allies, because one of them is straying from purity on the issues.


ROMANS: Zach, it's interesting. I wonder, you know what party leadership thinks about it. I mean, this is where you are in the calendar. I mean, you have to narrow this number. This is how you do it.

WOLF: You know, and it's incredible for Democrats if you just think about it. Pete Buttigieg made this point on the stage, you have the front runner who's not a Democrat. He's a Democratic Socialist. And you have the most ascended guy behind him nipping at his heels, who's a former Republican. So these Democrats in the middle might feel a little bit lost with these options.

ROMANS: All right, Zach, well, nice to see you. Thanks. 3:39 am.

JARRETT: Thanks Zach.

ROMANS: Eastern time in Washington. Thanks for staying up and getting up, I'm not sure which, but--

JARRETT: Either way.

ROMANS: Exactly. It's an election year. Nearly 75,000 Nevadans turned out over four days to cast their votes early. Democrats are celebrating the big turnout. Only 84,000 people caucus four years ago when there was no early voting.

One official tells CNN more than 50 percent of the early voters were first time caucus goers, indicating high interest in the nomination fight. Democrats are also hoping the impressive early turnout will alleviate stress on caucus day this Saturday. They do not want a calamity like the Iowa caucuses.


JARRETT: Another big night on CNN with two Presidential town halls, Joe Biden at 8:00 pm. Eastern; Elizabeth Warren at 9:00 pm Eastern Live from Las Vegas only on CNN.

ROMANS: All right, the Trump loyalist with zero experience in the intel community is now the nation's acting spy chief.


ROMANS: The economy is strong so why are so many workers hitting the picket lines. Last year 46,000 GM stopped work to ask for stronger protections and better health care. More than 92,000 public school teachers in North Carolina went on strike, the largest walk out of 2019. At least 425,000 workers took part in large scale walkouts in both 2018 and 2019. In contrast, only 25,000 workers participated in major strikes during 2017.


Now protests have surged even though the unemployment rate is at a 50- year low. And the Economic Policy Institute says two factors are driving workers to walk out. Employees aren't getting the higher wages that tight labor market normally brings. And workers are aware if they lose their jobs, they're confident they can get another one quickly.

Due to tight labor market wage growth has been pretty flat for most Americans. At the end of last year average hourly wage growth dipped below 3 percent for the first time in a year and a half.

JARRETT: A staunch Trump loyalists is now the nation's acting the spy chief. Richard Grenell, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany tapped by the President to be the Acting Director of National Intelligence. Even in an acting role, Grenell's lack of experience is likely to rattle the intelligence community. The community has already endured repeated attacks from the President over the Russia investigation, and of course the whistleblower complaint that led to his impeachment.

ROMANS: Grenell's appointment is even raising concerns among the President's allies. Grenell has zero intelligence related experience. One Trump advisor describes him as out of his league for the DNI job. The DNI role was formed for the purpose of coordinated the Intel agencies to prevent another catastrophic attack in the wake of 9/11. The President has relied on acting officials a lot and Mick Mulvaney has been Acting Chief of Staff for over a year.

All right new rules for your teenager's favorite app, CNN Business as the details on changes coming to TikTok.



JARRETT: Breaking overnight, two passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess ship have died from novel coronavirus. Both were in their 80s and died in a Japanese hospital. Health officials in Japan have given clearance to as many as 500 passengers to disembark from that ship, despite concerns, they might unknowingly spread the virus.

Meantime, China is again reassessing how it classifies confirmed cases. CNN's Steven Jiang is live in Beijing. And Steven, why are they making this reclassification now?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Laura, as officials just explained, they are doing this because with improved testing capability at the epicenter, they can now again standardize the criteria for confirming the cases nationwide and requiring a laboratory confirmation for any cases to be counted. That's why we have seen a marked decline in newly confirmed cases, including in some locations at the epicenter reporting a decreasing total case numbers.

But with this outbreak showing no sign of ending anytime soon, its impact is being increasingly felt around the world. We have talked a lot about the economic fallout. But we are also starting to hear stories and concerns about rising xenophobia and discrimination, including, for example, dropping sales in China towns in countries like the U.S., Canada and Australia.

And one newspaper headline that is considered racist by many people here, including the government has gotten the "Wall Street Journal" into big trouble. Now, while "The Journal" on February 3rd published one opinion piece by an outside academic, critical of the Chinese government's response to this outbreak. But the paper's editors chose a phrase with historical implications, "China is the real sick man of Asia," really enraging the government here.

After days of protests they announced on Wednesday they're kicking out three Beijing based "Journal" reporters who had nothing to do with this article or its headline. These reporters are given five days to leave China, making this the first group expulsion of foreign reporters in over three decades. Laura?

JARRETT: All right. Steven Jiang, thank you so much.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight, 10 people killed, the suspect - the suspected gunman is dead after shootings at two hookah lounges in the German City of Hanau. That's about 16 miles East of Frankfurt.

Police and Germany tells CNN affiliate RTL, the attacker left a confession letter and a video. "Reuters" reports there are indications that the gunman had a far right motive. Now terror prosecutors are taking over the investigation. The bodies of the shooter and a second person were found at a home near the crime scene.

JARRETT: Taking commonly prescribed antibiotics during the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects. According to a new study published in the medical journal "BMJ," the increased risk was found in women who were prescribed macrolides as opposed to penicillin. Those drugs are often prescribed to patients who are allergic to penicillin and they're used to treat infection like pneumonia, bronchitis and STDs. For more details on all this go to

ROMANS: A Federal Appeals Court says the State of Florida cannot bar felons who served their time from registering to vote simply because they haven't paid all the fines and fees from their cases. The three judge panel says the ban amounts to an unfair poll tax that disenfranchises voters.

The ruling has potential to reshape Florida voting in 2020 if Democrats leverage it by boosting turnout. The spokeswoman for Republican Governor Ron DeSantis says the state will ask the 11th Circuit to reconsider that ruling.

JARRETT: Two 14-year-old boys pleading not guilty in a stabbing death of a New York City college student. The Manhattan District attorney says the DNA from the fingernail of murdered Barnard College student Tessa Majors matched one of the suspects.

The DA says one suspect Rashaun Weaver has also - was also heard on an audio recording, talking about his involvement. Also pleading not guilty to second degree murder yesterday was Luchiano Lewis, a 13- year-old was arrested earlier in the case, the prosecutor says, Majors appeared to be the third person the boys followed before deciding on attacking her.

ROMANS: All right. More than 9 million people from Northern Georgia to Virginia under a Winter Weather Advisory. Our watch meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, is in with who could see the worst of the weather.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, guys, a stationary storm system here in the last couple of days gradually going to be exiting stage right and as it does, the flooding risk finally going to dwindle here.


But still for your Thursday another soggy setup flood watches and flood warnings, especially along portions of the Mississippi River Valley and certainly along its tributaries as well where so much water has come down in recent days that becomes an issue.

And notice, system begins finally migrating off towards the East. Notice by 11:00 am noon, into the early afternoon hours we get some wintry weather out of portions of the Tennessee Valley into Carolinas there. And as much as two to four inches possible across portions of, say, Asheville, points just to the East there into Raleigh. Work your way a little farther towards the East, that's where we think some of the greater amounts are possible. And certainly where the winter storm warning is there into Eastern Tennessee into the Smokies as much as six inches possible.

Now, that is pretty impressive here for the southern United States. But notice, as often is the case, it's a very short lived event here. So we see this taper off as early as Thursday evening into Friday morning. The colder air settles in. Temperatures climb back up into the 50s in Nashville, Raleigh goes from 40 to 53 and even Jacksonville cools off into the 50s. Guys.





ROMANS: A big hug from a young child meant more to a pizza delivery man in Warwick Rhode Island than anyone could have known. It was captured by the family's doorbell camera and the boy's mother posted the video online. Turns out it was just what delivery man Ryan Caterson needed after a family tragedy.


CATTERSON: After losing my daughter this past week, that was just - it just touched me, because it was like she was there. You know, it just meant a ton to me.


ROMANS: Catterson's 16-year-old daughter struggled with mental illness and died unexpectedly. He says the hug from that little boy affected him deeply. Turning a dad's deep pain into hope.

JARRETT: Who knew that Britain's Queen Elizabeth had help perfecting her royal smile. The 93-year-old monarch revealing that she wants more braces. The Queen officially opened a new facility housing both ENT and dental hospitals. She met children getting fitted for braces and imparted some wisdom to one 10-year-old girl, telling her, I think it's worth it in the end. Also where those retainers.


JARRETT: What you are seeing and hearing is a woman playing the violin. Yes, that is right, while surgeons removed a brain tumor. 53- year-old Dagmar Turner, a symphony violinist was terrified of losing her ability to play. So doctors at a London hospital had her play during the operation to ensure areas of the brain responsible for delicate hand movement and coordination weren't damaged and it worked. Surgeons remove more than 90 percent of the tumor and she managed to retain full hand function.


ROMANS: Wow. All right. Let's go check and check CNN Business this morning, taking a look at markets around the world. Narrowly mixed, I would call it around the world. Here on Wall Street futures looked like they're leaning down a little bit. Stocks closed higher Wednesday. Investors hoping the new number of coronaviruses could start to slow. The Dow closed up 116 points the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ hit record highs.

Changes coming to Groupon after a disappointing fourth quarter. Groupon reported a profit at the end of last year that was half of what analysts expected. Its stock plunged 44 percent on Wednesday on those results.

Groupon said it will stop selling goods on its app by the end of the year and focus instead of local experiences. Groupon said it was driven out of that market by a fiercely competitive, and in some cases, economically irrational retail landscape.

Europe is cracking down on every teenager's favorite approximately, will the U.S. follow suit? TikTok rolled out new safety controls for parents in parts of Europe. The new feature has allow parents to manage their kid's activity and how much time they spend on the app.

Parents can also limit or turn off direct messages and restrict certain content. TikTok's popularity among teens has exploded. About 60 percent of users are 16 to 24 years old. It's forcing parents to deal with questions around everything from privacy to how their kids can profit from the platform.

JARRETT: "Early Start" continues right now.

The civility of past democratic debates is a distant memory. The latest face off filled with a deeply personal attacks as the clock ticks to Super Tuesday. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is "Early Start". I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday, February 20th. It is 4:00 am in New York.