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Sanders Unveils Plan for Universal Pre-K & Guaranteed Child Care; Sanders Pushes Ahead as Democratic Front-Runner; Dems Debate Tomorrow Ahead of Saturday's SC Primary; Sanders Surging Heading Into SC & Super Tuesday; Dems Look Towards SC After Sanders Wins in Nevada; Coronavirus Market Fears; U.S. Futures Fall as Coronavirus Fears Grip Europe; Weinstein Jury has Deliberated 24.5 Hours Without a Verdict; Soon: Jury Deliberations Resume in Weinstein Sex Assault Trial; Sanders: "Unfair" to Say Everything is Bad with Castro's Cuba; Trump Tours Taj Mahal on First Day of India Trip. Aired 7:30-8a ET.

Aired February 24, 2020 - 7:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: The Democratic presidential front runner Bernie Sanders just released details for his plan for universal pre-K and guaranteed childcare. CNN's Athena Jones joins us now live from Austin, Texas with the details. Anthena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, Senator Sanders is calling this the most comprehensive and expansive early childhood policy ever proposed by a candidate for president.

He says the current U.S. childcare and early education system is an international embarrassment that's failing children, families and educators. And that childcare is unaffordable in every single state in America. Now his plan is ambitious and here's what he says about it.

He says, "For our children it will provide crucial developmental and educational benefits from birth. Other countries around the world understand the importance of child care, early education and family leave. It is long past time for the United States to join them."

Now, here is what his plan would do. It would guarantee free childcare for children zero to three, guarantee free access to pre-kindergarten education starting at age three. It would ensure resources and rights for children with disabilities and construct or rehabilitate the childcare facilities and schools around the country.

It would also double the number of early childhood educators from 1.3 million to more than 2.6 million. It would guarantee a living wage for those workers. It would support workers' rights to unionize and collectively bargain. And it would improve diversity among childcare workers. Now Sanders says he will pay for all of this by taxing what he calls the extreme wealth of the 0.1 percent. So we're talking about 180,000 households with net worth over $32 million.

Sanders says this tax will allow the government to invest $1.5 trillion over the next decade on guaranteeing free universal childcare and early education for all. John, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Thank you very much for explaining that plan to us. So, will the Democratic Party rally around Senator Bernie Sanders now that he's the front runner or will they fight him tooth and nail through Super Tuesday?

Joining us now is Michael Smerconish, CNN political commentator and host of CNN's Smerconish. What do you make of Bernie's success thus far, Michael?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's the second answer that you've offered. I think they'll fight him tooth and nail at least through Super Tuesday taking nothing away from the victories that he's had so far because they're quite impressive. But only three states have spoken.

Two of them are caucuses. Caucuses demand a heightened level of passion from those who are involved. You've got to get out of the house unless you took advantage of early voting in Nevada. You've got to sit there with your neighbors for quite some time. It's not like just going in, closing the ballot, closing the curtain and throwing the switch.

And by the end of Saturday, only 4 percent of Democratic delegates will have been selected. So, to my way of thinking it's far too premature for this thing to have some finality. What I'm most interested in seeing in the CNN Town Halls as well as in that debate on Tuesday night is whether Bernie Sanders gets the Bloomberg treatment.

Because up until now I think that his opponents have been far too timid. I took note of the fact that Saturday night when Elizabeth Warren had the opportunity to come out and speak she immediately addressed who? Michael Bloomberg.

Michael Bloomberg isn't threatening her ascendance, Bernie Sanders is. So, are these dynamics about to change? That's what I want to know.


BERMAN: I assume that tomorrow night on the debate stage that Bernie Sanders opponents will be much more aggressive than they have been. It may be their last chance to be so. And to me the question isn't whether they'll fight tooth and nail until Super Tuesday because that's nine days from now.

My question is what happens after Tuesday if Bernie Sanders does continue to win the lion share of delegates. How much longer do they try to take him on? And can Sanders start to build a bigger coalition, Michael?

SMERCONISH: John, it is all about the Benjamin's. At this stage, I think that of the entire field there are only two who can stand to be competitive meaning advertise on television, that's Michael Bloomberg and Bernie Sander. I don't know how the rest of them can compete.

And here's something else that I think gets undervalued. When you don't obtain the 15 percent status and that's happening to most of them, your delegates or what you would've had, your percentage I should say gets wacked proportionately.

So by multiple candidates staying in the race not getting to 15 percent, they actually benefit the front runner. And right now that's Bernie Sanders. So it's to his advantage for a variety of reasons that the field stays crowded.

CAMEROTA: At the moment, Joe Biden is still winning South Carolina. So that's coming up. South Carolinians will vote this Saturday. The latest poll is a CBS News one from February 22nd. Biden had 28 percent and Sanders was encroaching at 23 percent.

Biden used to have a much more substantial lead but he has been the front runner in South Carolina since the get-go. So, if he wins -- if Joe Biden wins as is at the moment predicted on Saturday, does that change the equation?

SMERCONISH: I think that it could. Look, we love a comeback story. Joe has been a non-starter thus far. If he hangs on, if he wins South Carolina and presumably does so because of the support of people of color I think there will be enormous pressure then placed on Amy Klobuchar, on Mayor Pete as well.

Maybe on Michael Bloomberg although there's no way that he gets out before March 3rd Super Tuesday. But a Biden victory on Saturday could all of a sudden recast this race for sure.

BERMAN: So Michael, there's been a lot of talk about the Democratic panic, the mainstream Democratic panic over Bernie Sanders. Oh my gosh, what if he gets the nomination. He can't beat Donald Trump. But the counter intuitive taken, you're big on counter intuitive.

Is there an argument that Bernie Sanders might be the best candidate for Democrats to beat President Trump? Thinking he's got the most passionate supporters. He is the one who is winning elections right now. Maybe he can appeal to the white working class voters. Is there an argument there to be made?

SMERCONISH: Well, I'm going to take counter intuitive as a compliment and say that there absolutely is I learned my lesson four years ago when I rejected the idea that a populist was somehow going to win the whole thing much less the Republican nomination. And look how that ended up.

There are absolutely a number of parallels between what transpired with now President Trump and Bernie Sanders. I'm mindful of the data and you had Harry Enten lay it out within the course of the last hour. That in those critical states, my own Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, the data suggest that he is competitive with President Trump. So, the one thing that we know for sure is that we really don't know what's about to unfold.


CAMEROTA: I knew you were going to say that. I knew that for sure because we can all bank on not knowing. Michael Smerconish--


CAMEROTA: -- thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right. One thing--

SMERCONISH: See you, guys.

BERMAN: -- I do know is that a whole lot of people are losing a whole lot of money this morning. The stock markets are plummeting down nearly 750 points in futures as cases of coronavirus spike beyond China's borders, major new concerns in Europe this morning, the latest next.



BERMAN: Good morning. To breaking news, stocks around the world tanking this morning and dragged down by coronavirus fears as that virus is spreading beyond China into Europe this morning. Chief business correspondent Christine Romans has the latest numbers. Roman.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Guys, you're going to see all the gains in the U.S. stock market for the year evaporate this morning at the opening bell. The big question here, how far will this virus spread? How badly will it slow the global economy? Simply unknown, so we're seeing a reckoning in global stock markets.

Hong Kong, big down day there, 2 percent, South Korean stocks recorded their worst day in more than a year. What's new here? Well the virus is spreading in South Korea and now Italy. The IMF this weekend cut global growth forecasts again. European shares down very sharply, 3 percent moves.

Those losses expected to extend into the United States. And as I said you're going to see all the gains for 2020 evaporate at the opening bell down almost 3 percent U.S. stocks. Goldman Sachs last week said a correction is overdue. And investors this morning are rushing out of stocks into the safety of gold and bonds.

Now history is not really a helpful guide here and here's why. Thus outbreak is already bigger than SARs. Back then China was responsible for about 4 percent of the global economy. Today China is a much bigger part of the world economy and central to supply chains. Now the White House is expected to ask Congress for emergency funding as soon as today as fears of a larger outbreak in the U.S. grows. You got about an hour and 45 minutes until the opening bell, guys but again, all of the gains for 2020 likely gone at the opening bell.

BERMAN: Find somewhere comfortable to sit--


BERMAN: -- for the next hour and 45 minutes. You're going to need it. Thanks, Romans.

CAMEROTA: Now to this story, the jury in the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault trial returns to work this morning trying to reach a verdict. They have deliberated for more than 24 hours at this point.

It appears they could be deadlocked on the most serious charges. CNN's Jean Casarez has been covering this. She's live outside of the New York courthouse for us. So Jean, what happens if today the jury cannot reach a verdict?


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's complicated. The judge may give them another charge to keep deliberating but then you would have to see exactly where they are. So they will be here about 9:30 this morning. But they sent a note on Friday about noon and its note number ten.

I really -- we want to show this note to everybody because this is the transcript. There's been so much speculation on this note. This is the note. And it says we the jury request to understand, so they want to understand if we can be hung on counts one and or three. It's not definitive, and or three and unanimous on the other counts.

So there's three facts we can take from this note. Number one, they're trying to understand. Number two, one in three of the most serious counts, that's predatory sexual assault, maximum penalty, life in prison. You're truly a predator if you're convicted on these counts.

But it's and or one and three and unanimous on the other counts. When you think unanimous you think guilty. But to find not guilty, you have to be unanimous also. So, Alisyn when you look at this, it really can go anyway. And here's the thing that is amazing to me.

Jessica Mann, one of the two main accusers, there are counts that go directly to the jury from her. She was on the stand the longest. Two and a half days she was on this stand. And there has not been one question about Jessica Mann. But she also equals counts three, four and five. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, Jean. It's complicated but what's the answer to that? Can they be hung on one of the counts or a couple and still have him be convicted or acquitted?

CASAREZ: Good question. They can be hung on anything, right? So they can be hung on one and two. They want to know if they can be unanimous on the other counts. Let's say that's unanimous for guilt. They can't be unanimous on three and four. It's three, four or five.

It's one or the other because it's rape in the first degree and rape in the third degree. You can't find guilt on both of them, it's one or the other because one is the lesser included of rape in the first degree which is the most serious.

They have a roadmap on that verdict sheet. It's complicated. So I understand why the word is understand in this note, it's a very complicated verdict sheet.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh. Jean, thank you. Please come back to us obviously if anything breaks today. Thank you very much for the reporting.

BERMAN: So, as he becomes the Democratic front runner, some of Bernie Sanders past policy positions now in the spotlight. Reality check, next.



BERMAN: So, the Lakers and Celtics add another thrilling chapter to their story rivalry and as often happens the bad guys won. Carolyn Manno has more of this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning.


BERMAN: (Inaudible) -- come on.

MANNO: Get out of here, John.

BERMAN: Bad calls at the end.

MANNO: Listen, as Alisyn knows when these two teams are playing great, this is the greatest rivalry in all of sports.

CAMEROTA: I could've told you that.

MANNO: I mean, even though John says the bad guys won, Lakers and Celtics due on 33 championships between them both showing playoff potential this season. That is for sure.

The legend's in the building on Sunday. A man who helped define this bitter rivalry Bill Russell, one of the greatest Celtics of all time wearing Kobe Bryant's number 24 jersey. This was the first meeting between the two since the tragedy.

LeBron James is still relatively new to this story matchup but made his mark when it mattered down by one with 30 seconds left. James making a little 15 foot fade away gives L.A. a late lead that they would not relinquish, LeBron finishing with 29. Lakers avenge their loss to Boston last month ahead of today's memorial for Bryant. And you want some mamba mentality? Check this out, you guys. This is 86 year old Mary Ann Wakefield during Saturday night's Ole Miss Alabama game. Wakefield putting for a chance to win a brand new car, she had to drain a out from 94 feet, the full length of the floor and she buries it.

BERMAN: Oh, you're kidding.


MANNO: She buries it. Look at her.


CAMEROTA: Oh my God.

MANNO: Brand new car for Ms. Mary Ann. Isn't that great? No practice swings. Just steps us and drains it. Her daughter says she's a grandmother of seven. She's got seven kids. She's a grandmother to 14. She's a great-grandmother to four.

BERMAN: Yes, so hitting a put is nothing, right?

MANNO: She's 86. Yes, yes.


BERMAN: After all that, I can hit a put.


MANNO: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: That was amazing. Thanks, John. All right, so with a huge win in Nevada Bernie Sanders is the Democratic front runner. So now, what he has said in the past is getting a lot more attention. And John Avlon has our reality check. Tell us about this, John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, guys. So look, that big win in the Nevada caucus Bernie Sanders is now the front runner for the Democratic nomination. It's a stunning turn of events for a self described Democratic socialist who declined to join the Democratic Party for decades.

But Bernie Sanders often lonely worked moved Democrats to the far-left seems finally to be paying off. As the front runner though, Sanders record's going to come under scrutiny in front of a far larger audience than ever before. Consider last night's interview with Anderson Cooper.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Here he is explaining why the Cuban people didn't rise up and help the U.S. overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, VERMONT (D): And he educated. The kids gave them healthcare. (Inaudible) transformed a society.


We're very apposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba. But you know, you got -- it's unfair to simply say everything is bad. When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing even though Fidel Castro did it?

COOPER: There's a lot of dissidence imprisoned in Cuba.

SEN. SANDERS: That's right. And we condemn that.


AVLON: Sanders reluctance to condemn Castro completely is an honest assessment of his beliefs. For decades, he celebrated aspects of the Cuban (inaudible).


SEN. SANDERS: I remember for some reason being very excited when Fidel Castro made the revolution in Cuba. I was a kid and I remember reading that. And it just seemed right and appropriate that poor people were rising up against rather ugly rich people.


AVLON: This is to use a favorite phrase of the progressive left problematic. For example, Democratic Florida Congresswoman Donna Shalala said she'd hope Senator Sanders will take time to speak to some of my constituents before he decides to sing the praises of a murderous tyrant like Fidel Castro.

And it's hard to imagine this will help win Florida in the fall. But it's not just the sunny side of the Cuban dictatorship that Sanders wants to stay focused on. As Mayor of Burlington he celebrated the sixth anniversary of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua at a rally in which people were offering up chance of here, three, everywhere, the Yankee will die in Spanish.

This was during the Reagan (inaudible) support of the anti-communist contras. But Sanders praised the regime and pronounced Dictator Daniel Ortega a very impressive guy. Now, keep in mind that the Sandinista regime's human right abuses were already widely reported at the time.

But when a constituent questions Sanders on the Sandinistas, he fired off a letter on (inaudible) letterhead saying it's my view that the point you make regarding Nicaragua and the temporary suspension of certain civil liberties is considerably more complex than your letter indicates.

Back to the Sanders note infamous honeymoon in Moscow at the end of the Cold War, his praise for the Soviet Union's public transportation and youth programs while somehow never finding time to meet with Nobel Prize winning Russian distant Alexander Solzhenitsyn who lived in Vermont at the time may speak to Sanders general sympathies at the time.

Now I'm not even getting into Sanders 1970s advocacy for nationalizing most major industries or his since renounced call to abolish the CIA or his assertion to Vermont high school students in 1972 that some U.S. action in Vietnam was quote "almost as bad as what Hitler did."

I'm simply pointing out that Sanders vision of Democratic socialism has extended far beyond the Danish style welfare state as he likes to claim. And you can bet that's going to be an issue in the general election if his opponents don't make it one in the Democratic primary. And that's your reality check.

BERMAN: John, I hope you enjoy your time on Twitter for the next 12 to 25 hours.


AVLON: See, it's that kind of fear you can't have just your beliefs or what should I actually point out to people on the way of facts.

CAMEROTA: We appreciate you sticking to your reality and your reality check principles despite whatever is coming your way right now. Thanks to international viewers for watching. For you CNN Newsroom is next. For our U.S. viewers, can any Democrat catch Bernie Sanders this week? New Day continues right now.


UNKNOWN MALE: He's bringing new voters into the mix like never before. That's what gave him such a big win in Nevada.

SEN. SANDERS: We have just put together a multigenerational multiracial coalition.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, FORMER MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND: Senator Sanders believes in an inflexible ideological revolution.

UNKNOWN MALE: While the Kremlin is indeed medaling, it is not clear that its efforts are aimed at reelecting President Donald Trump.

UNKNOWN MALE: There are these reports that they want Bernie Sanders to get elected president.

UNKNOWN MALE: Our national security advisors should stay out of politics. The Russians never stopped interfering in American politics.

ANNOUNCER: This is New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.


BERMAN: Good morning and welcome to your New Day. It is Monday, February 24th. It is now 8 o'clock in the east and eight days from now Bernie Sanders really could have the Democratic nomination all but wrapped up. He crushed the competition in the Nevada caucuses and strong performances in the South Carolina primary on Saturday. And on Super Tuesday next week if it happens could make his delegate lead practically speaking nearly insurmountable. And this has some Democrats this morning in near panic. Check out this quote one moderate party member told Politico "I've never seen this level of doom."

It also meets new scrutiny for the Vermont Senator including a new interview with Anderson Cooper in Sanders defense some of the policies of the late human dictator Fidel Castro. Sanders says quote, "it's unfair to simply say everything was bad about how Castro ruled his country."

CAMEROTA: President Trump is overseas this morning for a two day trip to India. Just moments ago, the president and first lady visited the Taj Mahal. There were huge crowds at the stadium where he spoke.

Back here at home, people in the Trump administration say they go to work every morning not knowing if they'll keep their job until the end of the day.

Axios is reporting the Trump White House and its allies over the past 18 months have assembled detailed lists of government officials they consider somehow disloyal to the president and the pro-Trump people they want in the positions. This is according to more than a dozen close sources. The White House has yet to comment.