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EARLY START

Democratic Presidential Candidates Take Off the Gloves; Roger Stone Set for Sentencing Today; Coronavirus Kills Two Cruise Ship Passengers. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 20, 2020 - 04:30   ET

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


[04:30:00]

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Certainly where the winter storm warning is there into eastern Tennessee into the Smoky as much as six inch is 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 into the 50s in Nashville, Raleigh goes from 40 to 53 and even Jacksonville cools off into the 50s. Guys?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Pedram, thanks so much for that.

EARLY START continues right now.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The civility of past Democratic debates is a distant memory. The latest face-off filled with deeply personal attacks as the clock ticks down to Super Tuesday.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone, I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. About 30 minutes past the hour here in New York.

It was easily the most fierce debate yet of the Democratic presidential race. Six Democrats on stage, no one was completely safe. Bernie Sanders came in as the front-runner which would normally paint a target on his back but he got off comparatively easy with rivals focused on the new candidate on stage, Mike Bloomberg. Here's two hours of the debate boiled down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think there's any chance of the 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: It's 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 live. 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 of 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?

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

BUTTIGIEG: That's just 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 heard what his defense was. I've been nice to some women. That just doesn't cut it.

SANDERS: The function of a rational health care 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. Making sure that Mike and other people pay the same tax rate their secretary pays out.

BLOOMBERG: The facts are I was there -- 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 that you can't go after are gun manufacturers because of my buddy but that's a different --

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

BLOOMBERG: Senator, you were writing the tax code. Why are you complaining? You 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 ways that would make it easier to get Donald Trump to get re-elected than 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 were as perfect as you, Pete, but let me tell you what it's like to be in the arena.

BUTTIGIEG: Well, maybe leading in 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 did I miss here?

SANDERS: Well, you missed I worked in Washington --

BLOOMBERG: That's the first problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: All right. Let's bring back editor and publisher of "Inside Elections," Nathan Gonzales. And I think that sharp tone on that debate stage last night matches the high stakes, right, for each of those six candidates.

[04:35:01]

NATHAN GONZALES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. I mean, this is real. This is show time right now. It's not theoretical fight for the nomination, you know, back in June when we started these debates. I mean, it's real and candidates and their campaigns are at stake. If candidates don't do well, they're not going to be able to go forward, and I think that's the urgency and also the urgency that you felt is the entire Democratic Party staring potentially four more years of President Trump in the White House.

You're staring that possibility in the face, and so they realize this nomination is important and if they don't start to knock down some of their opponents, then they're not ultimately going to finish first.

JARRETT: Nathan, were you surprised at Bloomberg's performance? Obviously he hasn't been on the debate stage at this national level before, but he had to know that they were going to be gunning for him and coming after him pretty hard, the most obviously Elizabeth Warren.

ROMANS: Yes.

JARRETT: Just really going after his record. ROMANS: Black and bloom was what "New York Post" calls it and says

Elizabeth Warren was the --

JARRETT: So that tells you everything you need to know. But did you -- did you think that he might have expected some of this fire to be turned his way?

GONZALES: Well, I have to think that, you know, his staff did a good job of preparing him.

JARRETT: Right.

GONZALES: And there were some obvious ways to attack him. I think those ways came out. And the answers were not good. I'm not sure that anybody can objectively watch that debate last night and say that he had a good night. And just the way that Senator Warren delivered that and just sort of letting it, with the NDAs, letting it hang out there.

ROMANS: Yes.

JARRETT: Yes.

GONZALES: And him not having a real response. You know, now, it could be that he thought that his response was going to be sufficient. I don't know, you know, who told him maybe that that would be, but it just -- it did not work. And if -- you know, if millions of women were watching that, I can't imagine that his numbers are going to get better based on that answer.

JARRETT: Yes. For him to say that I guess some of the women didn't like his jokes. I mean, that is not something --

ROMANS: He tweeted --

JARRETT: To go over well.

ROMANS: He tweeted after the debate, he said, he stood on the stage with a bunch of politicians. They talked because that's what they're good at. They went on and on about what they could and should do. "I have built, I created actual change. I've gotten it done. That's what I'll do for America." I think, you know, that is -- he has this huge, you know, social media influence operation that he's paying, right? And all this advertising. So the debate was one thing. The poor debate performance seems to be the conclusion this morning, but he's got this other big operation.

Meanwhile, look, Bernie Sanders is the front-runner here. You know, Bernie Sanders, when you look at the national polls this week Bernie Sanders is clearly the front-runner, and he's double digits ahead in Nevada. I mean, how desperate are some of these other candidates here on what appears to be the person who caucuses with the Democrats but is not a Democrat leading the Democratic race at this point?

GONZALES: Yes, you know, we knew -- we've known for a while that this was going to happen. And what I mean by that is we knew that Vice President Biden was going to struggle in Iowa and New Hampshire. What we -- what was tough to figure out is how that would ultimately impact the race and what we're seeing is that those two initial losses by Biden forced his numbers -- you know, he has gone down significantly.

That's allowed Bernie to grow his support some. And Senator Sanders doesn't have a majority of support, but having a solid 25 percent to 30 percent of the vote in a crowded field is very important, and arguably it's similar to what candidate Donald Trump had in 2016. He only had a plurality but it was a hard plurality that allowed him to do very well.

Now the difference between those two races is that the Republican side, it was a winner-take-all and that helped Trump consolidate things more quickly. Because the Democrats have a proportional allocation of their delegates, I think it means that Senator Sanders is going to be in this -- he might win the nomination and if he doesn't he's going to take this all the way to the convention and -- because he's going to have, you know, at least a solid quarter of the delegates if not far more.

JARRETT: Yes. And you saw Chuck Todd asking that. He was the only one who obviously given his position disagreed with the rest of them on that stage.

Nathan, thank you so much for getting up with us this morning.

GONZALES: No problem.

JARRETT: Appreciate it.

GONZALES: And just for you guys.

ROMANS: Yay. Thank you, Nathan.

JARRETT: See you very soon.

All right. Well, nearly 75,000 Nevadans turned out over four days to cast their votes early. Democrats are obviously celebrating that big turnout and they have good reason. Only 84,000 people caucused four years ago when there was no early voting. One official tells CNN more than 50 percent of the early voters were first-time caucusgoers indicating high interest in the nomination. But Democrats also hoping an impressive early turnout will eliminate stress on caucus day this coming Saturday. They do not want a calamity like the Iowa caucuses.

ROMANS: Another big night on CNN with two presidential town halls, folks. Joe Biden at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Elizabeth Warren 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Live from Las Vegas. That's tonight only on CNN.

[04:40:00]

JARRETT: All right, still ahead, a Trump loyalist with zero, zero experience in the intelligence community is now the nation's acting spy chief.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: All right, to business now. The economy is strong, so why are so many workers hitting the picket lines? At least 425,000 workers took part in large scale walkouts in both 2018 and 2019. By contrast only 25,000 workers walked out in 2017. Protests have surged even though the unemployment rate is at a 50-year low. The Economic Policy Institute says two factors driving this. Employees aren't getting the higher wages a tight labor market normally brings and workers are aware if they lose their jobs, they're confident they can get another job quickly.

Wage growth has been pretty much flat for most Americans. At the end of last year average hourly wage growth a dip below 3 percent for the first time in a year and a half.

[04:45:02]

JARRETT: A staunch Trump loyalist who's fiercely partisan is now the nation's acting 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 intel community. The community has already endured repeated attacks from the president over the Russia investigation and the whistleblower complaint that led to his impeachment.

ROMANS: His appointment is even raising concerns among the president's allies. Grenell has zero intelligence-related experience and one Trump adviser describes him as, quote, "out of his league" for the DNI job. The DNI role was formed for the purpose of coordinating the intel agencies to prevent another catastrophic attack in the wake of 9/11. The president has relied on acting officials, as you know. Mick Mulvaney, for example, has been acting chief of staff for over a year.

JARRETT: It's sentencing day for Roger Stone. Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson deciding it's not prudent to delay the process even though Stone says he should get a new trial because of jury misconduct. The longtime Republican strategist and Trump ally was convicted last year on seven counts including that he lied to Congress about conversations he had with Trump campaign officials about trying to get Hillary Clinton's e-mails from WikiLeaks.

Lawyers for Stone have asked for probation, but the Justice Department has said he should serve some prison time. All four prosecutors who took the case to trial quit last week after Attorney General Bill Barr softened their stance towards Stone heading into sentencing. But the judge has agreed Stone some time to challenge his sentence after she hands it down. That means if she sentences Stone to prison this week he won't be detained right away.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:51:05]

JARRETT: Breaking overnight, 10 people killed and the suspected gunman is dead after shootings at two hookah lounges in the German city of Hanau. It's about 60 miles east of Frankfurt. Police in Germany tell CNN affiliate RTL the attacker left a confession letter and a video. Reuters reports there are indications the gunman had a far-right motive. And now terror prosecutors are taking over that investigation. The bodies of the shooter and his mother were found at a home near the crime scenes.

ROMANS: 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 are giving clearance to as many as 500 passengers to disembark 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 with more -- Steven.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Christine, that's right. Officials here have said with improving testing capability at the epicenter they're now once again able to standardize criteria for confirmed cases nationwide by requiring laboratory confirmation for any cases to be counted. That's why we have seen a decrease in the total number of cases in some locations in Hubei Province. That's the epicenter based on this new criterium.

Now with this outbreak showing no sign of ending any time soon, though, we are increasingly seeing its impact being felt around the world, not just economically, we are starting to hear stories and concerns about rising xenophobia and discrimination including in dropping sales at Chinatown stores and restaurants in countries like Canada, Australia as well as the United States.

And one newspaper headline that's considered racist by many people here including the government has brought severe consequences for "The Wall Street Journal." The "Journal" on February 3rd published an opinion piece authored 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 as the headline, China is the real sick man of Asia, really enraging the Beijing government.

After days of protests they announced that Wednesday they are kicking out three Beijing based reporters who had nothing to do with this article or its headline, giving these reporters only five days to leave making this really the first group expulsion of foreign reporters in over three decades, Christine.

ROMANS: Yes. That's really interesting. All right, Steven Jiang, in Beijing for us, thank you.

JARRETT: Well, 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 infections like pneumonia, bronchitis and STDs. For more details go to CNN.com. ROMANS: All right. If you want the best of children's survival health,

education and nutrition, don't look to the U.S. A report in the medical journal "The Lancet" ranks 180 countries based on a child flourishing index. The U.S. rated 39th behind most of Europe including Latvia and Bosnia. At the top of the list, Norway, South Korea and the Netherlands. The report also ranked countries on sustainability for children's futures based on estimated levels of carbon emissions in 10 years. On that index, the U.S. ranked very close to the bottom.

JARRETT: 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 associated with their cases. The three-judge panel says the ban amounts to an unfair poll tax that disenfranchises many of them. The ruling has the potential to reshape Florida voting in 2020 if Democrats can leverage it by boosting turnout. A spokesman for Republican Governor Ron DeSantis says the state will ask the 11th Circuit to reconsider that ruling.

[04:55:01]

ROMANS: Two 14-year-old boys pleading not guilty in the stabbing death of a New York City college student. The Manhattan district attorney says DNA from murdered Barnard College student Tessa Majors matched one of the suspects. The DA says one suspect, Rashaun Weaver, was also heard on an audio recording talking about his involvement. The prosecutor says Majors appeared to be the third person the boys followed before deciding to attack her.

JARRETT: A statewide Amber Alert for a missing 15-month old girl in Tennessee. Evelyn Mae Boswell has not been seen since December 26th but she was only reported missing on Tuesday. Unclear what caused this delay. The Sullivan County Sheriff's Department says it's still investigating the circumstances of the case.

ROMANS: All right, an update to the forecast. Now more than 12 million people -- 12 million -- under a winter weather advisory, a watch or a warning across the south. This stretches from the Smoky Mountains in east Tennessee and north Georgia to the outer banks of North Carolina. A wintery mix will begin to spread into Tennessee over the next few hours. This will progress through parts of North Carolina by the afternoon where winds will be strong. The snowfall will probably be over by early Friday.

That's your weather and here's your money. Let's get a check on business this morning. A look at markets around the world, mixed performance here really and nearly 2 percent move in Shanghai after a widely expected interest rate cut as the Chinese economy is threatened by the coronavirus outbreak and the government moves to stimulate it.

European stocks are off their highs because of reports of new cases in South Korea. On Wall Street right now futures look like they're leaning down just a little bit. I would call that noncommittal. But it was a higher close on Wednesday. The Dow up 116 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit record highs.

Democrats have yet to chip away at the president's message of a strong economy here. Unlike traditional presidents, Trump takes credit for the stock markets and cheerleads it frequently. Take a look at stocks since the election, look at that, the Dow up 57 percent, the S&P 500 up 57. The Nasdaq up almost 87 percent since the day after the election.

All right. 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. The stock plunged 44 percent on those results. Groupon says it will stop selling goods on its app by the end of the year and focus instead on local experiences. Groupon said it was driven out of that market by a fiercely competitive and in some cases economically irrational retail landscape.

JARRETT: Some very good news for NASCAR driver Ryan Newman. He's out of the hospital just two days after his horrific crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500. Here is Newman walking, walking out of the hospital with his two daughters by his side. Before leaving they say he was joking around with his family, friends and hospital staff and he continues to show improvement. Some very good news.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN CATTERSON, PIZZA DELIVERY MAN: After losing my daughter this past week, that was just -- it just touched me because it was like she was there, you know, and it just meant a ton to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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: What you are seeing there and hearing is a woman playing the violin while surgeons remove her brain tumor. 53-year-old Dagmar Turner, a symphony violinist, was terrified of losing her ability to play the violin 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 removed more than 90 percent of the tumor and she retained full hand function.

ROMANS: It's like an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" or something, right?

JARRETT: I love it. It's just great. Modern medicine is wonderful.

ROMANS: Miracle. All right. Thanks for joining us early this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. Four hours of "NEW DAY" starts right now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN: 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: No one accused me of doing anything other than maybe they didn't like the joke I told.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She left Bloomberg in a puddle on that debate stage.

SANDERS: You know what, Mr. Bloomberg, wasn't you who made that all money? Maybe your workers played some role in that as well.

BLOOMBERG: The best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What did I miss here?

KLOBUCHAR: We have not been talking enough about Donald Trump. Let's just talk about Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to a special edition of NEW DAY. It's Thursday, February 20th. It is 5:00 in the East.

An urgent two hour free-for-all --

[05:00:00]