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Source: Intel Officials Say Russia Tring to Get Trump Re- Elected; Source: Trump Irate at Outgoing Intel Chief after Lawmakers Briefed that Russia Prefers Trump be Re-Elected; Mulvaney Talks Deficit & Need for More Immigration; Some Democratic Candidates Are in Cash Crush Ahead of Crucial Contests; Democrats Talks Brokered Convention; CDC Releases Troubling Report on Flu & Children. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 21, 2020 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A source tells CNN that an intelligence -- in an intelligence briefing last week, the top officials on election securities were, quote, unquote, "not ambiguous" about Russia having a preference for President Trump in the Kremlin's ongoing effort to interfere in at 2020 election.

That has House Democrats calling on the Republican colleagues to step up and speak up.


REP. KATHLEEN RICE (D-NY): I am appealing to all of my good colleagues on the other side of the aisle, my Republican colleagues, stand up and speak truth to this out of control power. Once and for all. Put the impeachment stuff behind us. We have another election in November. Put all that stuff behind, get a backbone.


BOLDUAN: My colleague, Jake Tapper, is reporting from one national security official that the intelligence actually stops a step short of being pro-Trump. More that Russia believes Trump is someone they can work with over, let's say, other Democrats.

And with this nuance, it is understandable that Dana Bash is reporting, she's being told the Democrats and Republicans in the briefing asked to see the underlying data, not just hear that assessment. More to come there.

Let's start there. Joining me now, former Ohio Republican congressman and governor, CNN political commentator, John Kasich.

Governor, you ran for president. You were a member of Congress. What is your level of concern of what Russia is going to try to do and could do in this election with this new intel? JOHN KASICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The elections, that's like we

learn about that when we're in like the third grade, running for whatever, class president or who is going to be the valentine and we have a vote. And so voting is an essential part of what America is all about.

And so, you know, my sense on this is that everybody has to do everything to make sure we have election security here in Ohio they take it as a top priority.

Let me say a couple of things here. As I listen to that -- the member of Congress. She used a couple of words, out of control president. Get some backbone. Now, Kate, in this case, what I think Democrats should do -- first of all, Trump is saying they shouldn't be turned over to Congress is ridiculous.

But at the same time, the Democrats can't start calling names again. Get some backbone. We have an out-of-control president. If you want to get together and you want to work with the other side, you got to be sensitive about the words you use.

Same way that when you're your family. When you go meet your father- in-law, mother-in-law, you don't insult them if you want to get along with them.

And what is happening in Congress is everything is so political, frankly, it is getting to be not just disturbing, but really very boring about what -- they have boorish behavior on all sides. It is terrible.


So the elections need to be protected and they should be -- they should be calling for a bipartisan group to stand up and say, let's do everything so that Russia cannot divide us even further.

BOLDUAN: If there's one thing that has to be beyond politics, has to be beyond politics, it has to be protecting the election.


BOLDUAN: I got to ask you about two other things that are -- have been really fascinating coming out in the last week, including -- both involving Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff.

The "Washington Post" is reporting on a talk that he gave in England, and in it, he said some pretty startling things, on immigration and the deficit.

Let us start with immigration. Let me read you what he said to this crowd. He said, "We're desperate, desperate for more people. We're running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants."

That's the acting chief of staff saying that. Clearly, that is not the message coming from his boss, who is trying

to limit legal immigration. Forget illegal immigration. And he said the country's full. Those were his words.

What do you think Mulvaney is doing here?

KASICH: I think it is fantastic that he said these things. Because immigration is critical.

When I was governor, one of the things we wanted to say is, if you're an immigrant, you live in America, you don't feel like people like you, move to Ohio. We need you here.

And Mulvaney is hitting on a stubborn fact, more immigration, more workers, more people can come in here. And I don't think they ought to be people who went to -- with some high-brow university.

My grandparents came over here, they didn't have the skills, their grandson turned out to be governor and all these other things.

And with -- it just -- immigration is a life blood of growth and energy and ingenuity and I'm glad to see Mulvaney saying that. I just hope he can keep his job after having said it. That's what I hope.

BOLDUAN: And that's something I've been wondering since I saw that.

It is great to see you, Governor. Despite what you like to bring up, which are painful, painful histories of how the Hoosiers are doing versus Ohio state. We'll talk about it more often.

KASICH: Got you. Got you.


KASICH: And some time we'll talk about the debt. We need to talk about that.

All right, Kate, thank you.

BOLDUAN: That is a four-letter word I don't understand at this point.

Thank you, sir. Good to see you. Thank you.

KASICH: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, strapped for cash. As the Democratic candidates race toward key contests, some are also racing to refill their bank accounts. Can they catch up to big spenders like Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg?



BOLDUAN: We're just one day out from the Nevada caucuses, but while all the candidates are chasing down votes, some are chasing down much needed cash.

New financial filings show that many of the candidates that are facing a major cash crunch after Iowa and New Hampshire creating a recipe for potential disaster for any campaign, especially sprinting toward the high-dollar Super Tuesday contests.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is in Las Vegas where many of the candidates are and even President Trump are campaigning today.

Ryan, what is the money picture emerging?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, I'm in Las Vegas, so I have to make a gambling reference, isn't that out of the reporter playbook? I have to do that?


NOBLES: That's what I'm going to do.

A lot of the candidates that didn't necessarily have a lot of cash in their bank accounts bet big on Iowa and New Hampshire, they spent almost all the money they had with the hope that a strong finish there would lead to more money down the road. It hasn't actually worked out that well to many of them that placed that bet.

Among them, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg now hovering around the $7 million mark with their cash on hand. And after that every other candidate there isn't another candidate with more than $3 million, among them, Elizabeth Warren who is struggling to raise money now.

This is going to be become increasingly big problem, because it is going to get more expensive. Before when they were in Iowa and New Hampshire, those are relatively cheap media markets to spend on ads and resources to get your message.

Now you're talking about Super Tuesday, where you have states like California, Texas, Virginia, that have big media markets that are very expensive.

Now, the one candidate right now, or two candidates that don't have that problem, Michael Bloomberg, limitless personal wealth to devote to this race and then Bernie Sanders who has close to $19 million cash on hand right now and then just has a spigot of online donations that continues to come in.

That's one of the reasons you have to look at those two candidates as being in the strongest position heading into Nevada on Saturday. And then as we look down the calendar of South Carolina and Super Tuesday -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: No matter how you like it, it is an important factor no doubt.

Good to see you, Ryan. Thank you.

Joining me now, former campaign manager for President Obama, Jim Messina.

Ultimate title for this one, Jim, someone who never ran out of campaign cash.

Let's start there. How dire is the financial situation? If we have -- throw back up the screen -- of the filings for Biden, Buttigieg, Warren and Klobuchar that they're facing.

JIM MESSINA, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Money is the oxygen of American politics. You're starting to see the oxygen go out of the room for some of these campaigns that have struggled.

It is why the debate was so important, Elizabeth Warren had to have a big moment, both for momentum and for money and by all accounts she did have that moment and she really needed it.


Some of the other campaigns are simply just going to run out of cash. Even before we get to Super Tuesday. And the Democrats decision to move Texas and California to Super Tuesday made this even harder.

You're going to need real cash to compete against the battleship Bloomberg and everyone else who has a bunch of cash.

BOLDUAN: Excellent point.

Going into -- going into this week's debate, you told me a critical choice for each candidate was going to be go after Bloomberg or go after Sanders. And clearly, most of them chose by and large door number one, Bloomberg. Was that a mistake?

MESSINA: No, I don't think so. I think it is what they had to do. If you look at the post-debate reactions, the people who did that and did it well got a bump from it. And, you know, the people who went after Sanders.

Here is the issue in this debate. Sanders is the frontrunner, but everyone is really worried about Bloomberg because of his unlimited spending and he was taking votes from almost everyone except for Bernie. They had to sort of slow him down to get any momentum here.

If you're Mayor Pete, if you're Amy Klobuchar, you're competing with Michael Bloomberg for votes, so you had to do something. So that's kind of what they did and it is what I think they should have done.

BOLDUAN: And Bernie Sanders benefitted from that.

With Sanders looking like he could win Nevada after winning New Hampshire and strong finish in Iowa, how late is too late for candidates to start chipping away then at Sanders' support?

MESSINA: Well, look, if he gets a big vote lead coming out of Super Tuesday, it is going to be really hard to stop him. Barack Obama built a lead in Super Tuesday in 2008 against Hillary she could never fix. Same four years ago, with Hillary pulling away from Bernie. Democrats have to start looking at this and looking at Super Tuesday

an saying this is the moment we have to slow him down or he's going to become the Democratic nominee for president.

BOLDUAN: This leads to the talk of brokered convention. That is what a lot of Republicans were pinning their hopes on in 2016 trying to stop Trump. Do you see any success this would turn out differently for Democrats if it would happen?

MESSINA: No, I don't. I think it would be super difficult to take the nomination away from someone who has a significant lead in the delegate count.

Now, if it is really close, you're talking two candidates basically tied, that's different. But it is unlikely that that would occur. And I think it would be really difficult to take the lead away from someone who had it going into the convention.

Although, for TV, Kate, you'd have a great time watching it.

BOLDUAN: And since all that matters is how it plays on television, we know exactly how it should go. I say that completely kidding, everyone.

Regardless what I'm hearing from you is what happened in the next two weeks is going to be fascinating and could be everything in this primary.

It is good to see you, Jim.

MESSINA: Thanks. My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, man.

Programming note, everyone. CNN's special live coverage of the Nevada caucuses starts tomorrow, 2:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN. Please join us.

Coming up, still for us today, the troubling new report from the CDC. This time it is not about the coronavirus, but the flu and the deadly toll that it is taking on children this year. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next.



BOLDUAN: Well, the world has been focused on the coronavirus, it has also been an incredibly deadly year for the flu across the United States, especially for children. The CDC just released new numbers and they are troubling, 105 children have died from the flu so far this season.

CNN chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, is here with me now.

Sanjay, 105 deaths so far. Can you put that in perspective for folks? SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is one of the

worst flu seasons we've seen for kids in particular. As you mentioned, it's been particularly hard on kids. This flu season also started earlier as well. So those are the two big headlines, it started earlier, particularly hard on kids.

Look at some of the numbers here. We have been talking about coronavirus for quite some time, but when we talk about flu specifically, Kate, 29 million illnesses so far this year, OK, 280,000 hospitalizations. And with those hospitalizations, a vast majority is 65 years or older, but the second biggest age is from birth to age four, 105 pediatric deaths.

This particular year now has been the hardest on kids in quite some time. Obviously, we're still in it. We're still in flu season.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and there has been -- as you mentioned, there's been so much understandable attention give on the coronavirus. But when it comes to how deadly versus the flu, as a physician, which one do you worry about more?

GUPTA: Look, this is the question, and I think a lot of public health officials are constantly grappling with this.

On the one hand, we're dealing with a new virus, a novel coronavirus. And the reason that's so important is when you have a new virus, there are still ways it may behave that you just don't know, you can't predict. That's why there will always be an air of caution by the individuals.

Having said that, putting the numbers up side by side to show, so far this year, 29 million illnesses we talked about with flu, worldwide with coronavirus 76,000 confirmed cases.

In the United States 26 confirmed cases, 16,000 deaths in the United States alone, 2200 deaths worldwide. No deaths in the United States. One American did die in another country.

But no comparison, right, in terms of absolute numbers. Flu is much worse.


Sometimes it's that old adage, Kate, the devil you know is sometimes less worrisome than the devil you don't. I think we get a little inured to flu. Half the country doesn't get the flu, which you should still get, we should point out.

BOLDUAN: You can get the flu but you can get the flu shot. But that's not to say you shouldn't get the flu shot, as I'm told by my physician father every year.

Good to see you, Sanjay. Thank you so much. So important to be talking about this right now.

Coming up for us, President Trump clashes with his own Intelligence Community after officials reveal Russia is taking steps to meddle in the 2020 election. What does this mean for the security of American elections?