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NEW DAY

Democratic Presidential Candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders Wins Nevada Caucuses By Large Margin; Sanders Draws Criticism For Comments On Cuba; Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) Reacts To AXIOS Report; Stocks Around The World Taking A Big Hit This Morning Because Of Coronavirus Fears; Can Other Democratic Candidates Slow Sanders' Momentum? Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired February 24, 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]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: This is according to more than a dozen close sources. The White House has yet to comment.

So joining us now, we have Abby Phillip, CNN political correspondent, Wajahat Ali, CNN contributor, and contributing op-ed writer for "New York Times" who has endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren, and also Karen Finney, CNN political commentator and former senior spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's campaign.

So let's start there, Karen Finney. Let's start with how you feel watching Bernie Sanders' ascendance, and now being the clear frontrunner. You've been fighting him, I don't know if that's the right word, bur running against him for years. What do you make of where we are this morning?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: To be clear, Alisyn, I worked for Hillary Clinton in 2016 because I thought she was the best person. I'm not against Senator Sanders. But like Anderson Cooper last night on "60 Minutes," I have very real questions that I think he still needs to answer, particularly as the frontrunner, about his own record. I think it's fair when you're frontrunner. He's been in office for 30 years. I think that's a fair question.

And I will tell you, and Waj and I were both on Twitter this weekend. His supporters are getting, again, this sort of fever pitch of attacks. They went after Ava DuVernay and say she wasn't down, wasn't real enough for black people, which is absurd. And you saw supporters like Susan Sarandon attacking Nancy Pelosi and AOC attacking Hillary.

I just don't think any of that is particularly helpful when the point is the frontrunner has to build a coalition that says to people you're welcoming. And his rhetoric about the establishment, which I get tagged with that label, and I hate it, all the time, also makes us targets. And that's not helpful. That is not how you build a coalition of people who say we're going to come together and we're going to beat Donald Trump.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So Waj, you have some interesting thoughts on what Nevada on Saturday means and maybe what it doesn't mean, so go ahead.

WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTING OP-ED WRITER, "NEW YORK TIMES": It means, of course, that Bernie has won the 2020 Democratic nomination and Trump has won the election, and we've lost the House and the Senate. Or it means, of course, that Bernie won 2020 election and now we're going to be a socialist collective, and I for one hail my brothers and sisters of the socialist state.

I think everyone needs to calm down, relax, exhale, have a cookie at 8:00 a.m. and realize that we have South Carolina coming up which has many black voters. And the base of the Democratic Party has always been black voters. And you have Super Tuesday coming up. This race is fluid.

At the same time, though, this is very important, we have to give respect to what Bernie has accomplished, a grassroots campaign, multigenerational, multiracial. The fact that he crushed in Nevada, he won over whites, moderates, uneducated whites, Latinos. The youth love this 78-years-old man who is a Democratic Socialist who just had a heart attack. And right now, yes, he is the frontrunner, so if you want to beat Bernie, you've got to beat Bernie.

And regardless of what happens, this is what people have to make peace with in the Democratic Party. You need Bernie's base, and Bernie's base needs whatever is called the Democratic establishment to beat Trump. And moving forward you will need that unity to overcome who I think is an increasingly authoritarian president who is a danger for all of us, regardless of our political affiliation.

CAMEROTA: Abby, at the moment it does not look like Bernie Sanders is going to win South Carolina. Here is the latest poll. I know this is just a snapshot. But Joe Biden is still the leader there as he has been since this entire thing began. He gets 28 percent. Sanders gets 23 percent. And I don't think we've noted enough that Tom Steyer comes in third there at 18 percent.

BERMAN: Joe Biden knows.

CAMEROTA: I think he knows because he spent a lot of money there. And when people talk about how if some other moderates got out of the way, then there would be a coalescing. I think Tom Steyer needs to be part of that conversation, Abby.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely. People don't talk enough about Tom Steyer's strength in South Carolina and about what that really means. And what that means for Joe Biden is that Tom Steyer has done probably the most to cut into Joe Biden's support here, which actually, interestingly, might end up helping Bernie Sanders more than anyone else, that Tom Steyer has brought down Joe Biden's support among black voters, and at the same time Bernie Sanders support among black voters has inched up.

And so now you're looking at a race that's within a handful of points. That is good for Bernie Sanders if it stays that way or if it gets even tighter, because even the Biden campaign, they understands that South Carolina needs to be a big win, it needs to be a convincing win, not in the least because of how big Bernie Sanders just won Nevada.

And I think that there is a point at which right now I think what a lot of the other candidates need to decide is, are they going to be more explicit about how they are going to take on Bernie Sanders now that he is, in fact, the frontrunner.

[08:05:05]

They have been very hesitant to do that, in part because, yes, everyone needs everyone here. Bernie supporters need establishment folks, establishment folks need Bernie supporters. But it feels like there is a fear among maybe some of the more moderate Democrats that if they alienate Bernie Sanders' supporters, that those people might not be with them in November.

I think that's what's underlying some of the hesitance to go after Sanders in a more aggressive way. And I think we'll see tomorrow night how that plays out. But there's anxiety there that has to do with what happened in 2016.

And I should say, Sanders has said, he's going to be behind the nominee. But the question is, are his supporters on the same page? And I really do think, especially when you look at Elizabeth Warren and some of these other candidates, they are worried. They are worried if they antagonize Sanders' supporters, that they might fracture the Democratic Party in a way that could hurt the nominee in November.

BERMAN: I don't know about Warren, but I can tell you I expect others on the stage will deal with whatever anxiety they might have and go after Bernie Sanders on the stage, because it may be the last chance that they get.

Karen, I will say this, though, on the other hand. If there's one thing that happens in political media, it's overreaction. So the story today is Bernie Sanders, as Waj was joking, is the Democratic nominee, it's all over. And there's a reason that he is frontrunner and that his delegate lead might be insurmountable in a week.

But what if Joe Biden wins in South Carolina? He's leading in the polls. What if he gets the endorsement of Jim Clyburn on Wednesday, which seems likely. It's his to lose. So if he gets a convincing win on Saturday in South Carolina, what's his path maybe to the nomination?

FINNEY: A couple of things. Elizabeth Warren is, other than Mike Bloomberg, the only person who has had staff on the ground in those Super Tuesday states, she's had for several months. So that's going to be a great advantage for her. So if you are Joe Biden, you've got to make sure that you have the resources to very quickly turn around and make sure that you score some other big wins on Super Tuesday, because, remember, those first four early states are five percent of the total delegates needed to win the nomination, but Super Tuesday is something like 37 or 47 percent.

So it's a much bigger chunk of the pie. So doing well on Super Tuesday is absolutely critical. It's great to have a good swing and comeback in South Carolina, but the big score is going to be Super Tuesday in terms of staying alive in this race and staying very competitive in this race.

CAMEROTA: But I mean, Waj, in terms of that argument, that moderates are making, or that anybody other than Bernie Sanders is making, which is if you do the math, let's just look at the South Carolina numbers, OK, if you add up Biden and Steyer and Buttigieg and Klobuchar, you trounce Sanders. And so if Biden wins South Carolina, then is there some incentive -- I guess there's no incentive for anybody to be out before Super Tuesday, right?

(LAUGHTER)

ALI: No one is getting out. No one is getting out of this race.

CAMEROTA: I retract the question.

ALI: It's like the great moderate civil war we're going to witness this week, right, because there's only one person that can emerge from that lane. It's either going to be Biden, Buttigieg, or Klobuchar, that's it. And so they are going to have to take a strategic decision. I think they are going to attack Bernie. They are going to attack Bloomberg. You already say Buttigieg do this last week in Nevada. He said, hey, I'm the perfect choice. I'm not the billionaire, but at the same time I'm not this Democratic Socialist, and by the way, I won Iowa.

And then you have Biden who rests his entire campaign be being attached to Obama, saying I'm the one who can bring this coalition, I can bring this multiracial coalition, black voters will support me. If Biden does not get a strong victory in South Carolina, if he comes in second, it's done. I think people will switch to either Bernie or Buttigieg or someone else, maybe even Bloomberg. Do not discount Bloomberg. Never underestimate money in America, and Michael Bloomberg.

And I also think this -- 65 percent of Democratic voters have consistently said they just want the candidate to beat Trump. Nothing succeeds like success. People will be very practical this selection. People of color have always been practical in America because we've had so much to lose.

There's a cost to us and our families if Trump wins. So that's why I think you will see. People say, OK, if Biden cannot win even in South Carolina or win convincingly, we will back the person who will most likely be able to beat Trump or aligns with our values. Don't discount Elizabeth Warren, don't discount Bloomberg. And there can be only one, to quote "Highlander," there can be only one to emerge from the middle lane.

BERMAN: Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery --

ALI: Thank you. Thank you, John. I appreciate that.

BERMAN: -- thank you very much for that reference, Waj. I appreciate that very much. Karen, I do want to know what your sense is of the impact of the

interview that Bernie Sanders gave on "60 Minutes" last night with Anderson Cooper where he did talk about Fidel Castro. So let's listen to that moment again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba. But it's unfair to simply say everything is bad.

[08:10:03]

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?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So Donna Shalala, the Democratic representative from Florida, said overnight, "I'm hoping in the future 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." So what --

FINNEY: Yes. So a couple of things. You noticed in that interview he also pushed back on Anderson on this revolution talk, because for a lot of Latinos from South America, they don't want to hear that either.

With regard to Castro, I've actually been to Cuba, I happen to have the opportunity to go in 2015 and actually talk with people on all parts of the island, and it is a far more complicated story than that answer represented, because don't forget, yes, it is incredible that they basically start at one end of the island, went to the other end and made sure people were literate. But that was also so that they could read the propaganda that the Castro regime was putting out. It was like not you could read news magazines and get information from other parts of the world. So I think we have to be careful on some of those things.

And it also shows a level of political novice when it comes to dealing with the Cuban-American community and understanding how people, particularly who lost everything, and there were low income people that I met with who said, yes, one day I had a house with my family, the next day five families were living with us, and it was miserable. So I think you have to be careful because there's a very real human experience behind that he didn't acknowledge, just by saying he's a murderous dictator. Again, there was a reason he wanted everybody to be able to read.

BERMAN: Karen, Waj, Abby, thanks for being with us all morning long here on NEW DAY, really appreciate it.

So ahead of the South Carolina debate and primary, seven presidential candidates take voter questions in a special two-night CNN town hall event. It all starts tonight 9:00 p.m. eastern live from Charleston, and that's only on CNN.

CAMEROTA: OK, then there's this news this morning. A new report suggests that Trump allies are taking loyalty to a whole new level in the administration. They are looking to clean house. We'll tell you of whom, and we'll speak to a Democrat congressman about it, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:54]

CAMEROTA: New reporting from AXIOS says the Trump White House and its allies over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them. This is according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort who spoke to AXIOS. The White House did not have any comment yet, on this report.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois. He is on the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, good morning. Thanks for joining us.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): Good morning.

CAMEROTA: What our voters and our viewers to make of this report that not only the President and the White House, but also State Department, Defense, Homeland Security, getting rid of people who have ever expressed dissent or trying to and stocking it with President Trump's loyalists.

QUIGLEY: I think the public should read it this way. The President wants a team of sycophants instead of a team of rivals and that should be scary.

Rehired Navy Admiral, just this weekend, McRaven talked about it if people like Joe MaGuire can't speak the truth, we should all be afraid.

It's understandable. No President likes to be given information or Intelligence that doesn't comport with their policy or a President's policy, any President may work or it may not work.

But if it doesn't comport to reality and the facts, it cannot work. If we're dealing with something, it isn't the truth, we are less safe.

So while the President may seem to believe in a Deep State, Mr. President, there is no Deep State, you are the state. And you need to hear the truth.

CAMEROTA: And I mean, because you're on the Intelligence Committee, to what end what happens once -- I mean, it's already happening. This is already in the works. We've seen it as you point out, we've already seen people ousted who were perceived somehow to even express dissent, and then what happens when it's just loyalists? What happens to national security? QUIGLEY: Well, we don't get critical information we need to make

these choices. The Intel information is on some sort of gradation of how good it is, you have to weigh that. But if you ignore it entirely, you're flying blind.

I mean, I can't imagine during the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy saying, I'm going to pull this one off on my own. I'm not going to listen to anybody else.

These are extremely dangerous times that we're facing. There should be no amnesia about the threats, post 9/11 ever as we move forward, and there's certainly a number of threats throughout the world.

To imagine that you can conduct policy as the leader of the free world with a Hear-No-Evil-Speak-No-Evil philosophy is extremely dangerous.

The President said when he came in, he doesn't need Intelligence. When we learned in January 2017 that the Russians had attacked our democratic process to favor one candidate over another, the President instead of trying to understand that, instead of confronting the Russians as President Obama did, he did just the opposite.

He attacked the Intelligence Community. They don't always get it right, but he seems to believe President Putin over Americans, and he is more worried about someone who has personal loyalty than he does about worried about getting the facts.

CAMEROTA: The President said that himself. I mean, we don't have to interpret that. In Helsinki, the President said that he believes Putin over his Intel officials.

But that leads me to that classified briefing that you were part of -- the Intelligence Committee was a part of, and I'm not asking you to share obviously any classified information with us; however, it is confusing what happened in that briefing because after words, D.N.I. Joe MaGuire was ousted early from his job, Rick Grenell who is not qualified in terms of Intelligence experience, has been put into the position of D.N.I. and there is confusing reporting about what happened in there.

[08:20:10]

CAMEROTA: It sounds as though there was an Intelligence official who went in and said that the Russians, the Kremlin had developed a preference for President Trump and all sorts of people have taken issue with that categorization.

So now, here's some CNN reporting. It says, "A more reasonable interpretation of the Intelligence is not that they have a preference. It's a step short of that. It's more that they understand the President is someone they can work with, he is a dealmaker." That's a quote from a senior National Security official.

So is that what happened in that meeting?

QUIGLEY: Well, again, I can't speak as to what happened in that meeting, but let me put it this way. I've been on the Committee five years.

We learned in January of 2017, a unanimous Intelligence Community report said that the Russians were the ones that attack the democratic process, and they did it to favorite candidate Trump over candidate Clinton.

I have seen nothing in the time since that contradicts that. The President's own people he ousted have said nothing but the fact that the threat is still there.

D.N.I. Coats, I believe, used the language that the danger lights are still flashing red. So the threat is still there and by the President refuting that he makes us less safe.

After Bush-Gore, the last time our democratic process was put in question in a way, hanging chads and election equipment that wasn't up to par, we spent $3.5 billion to rectify that problem.

I've sponsored a legislation to buy new election equipment to at least be part of that protection, and it's only $800 million. So we're not ready and the President makes us less ready when he calls it a hoax and when he doesn't call out Putin for doing this.

And finally, there are no coincidences with this administration. If you're not fully on board with this President and agree with his policy, whatever the truth is, you're gone. You disagree with the king. We don't want you around.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Mike Quigley, we appreciate getting your perspective this morning. Thank you.

BERMAN: So Senator Bernie Sanders is now the undisputed frontrunner of the Democratic race. Can his opponents slow him down?

A former Republican campaign aide shares his lessons from 2016 and shows us some of the scars really. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:26:33]

CAMEROTA: Stocks around the world taking a big hit this morning because of coronavirus fears. Chief Business correspondent Christine Romans has the latest numbers. What's happening now at this hour?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's not looking good here and if this holds, you're going to see all of the year's gains for U.S. stocks just evaporate at the opening bell.

Look, how far will the virus spread? How badly will it slow the global economy? It is simply unknown. So you're seeing a reckoning in global stock markets.

Hong Kong closed down nearly two percent. South Korea Stocks had their worst day in more than a year, down almost four percent. So what's new? Well, the virus is spreading in South Korea and now

Italy. The IMF this weekend cut global growth forecasts again. European shares down sharply and those losses expected to extend into the U.S., the U.S. futures down almost three percent here.

Goldman Sachs, you know, last week said a correction is overdue. Investors this morning, rushing out of stocks and into the safety of gold and bonds.

You know, history is not very helpful here really as a guide. And here's why. This outbreak is already bigger than SARS.

Back then, China was responsible for about four percent of the global economy. Today, China is a much bigger part of the world economy and central to supply chains, and now a lot of questions about how it's spreading in Europe and South Korea and how far this will go.

Now the White House is expected to ask Congress for some emergency funding as soon as today as fears of a larger outbreak in the U.S. grow.

But again, bottom line here, very close to record highs in stocks and all of this uncertainty about the coronavirus, you're going to see a big selloff at the opening bell in about an hour, guys.

BERMAN: It is going to be a tough day. All right, Romans, thanks very much.

In the meantime, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders now the undisputed frontrunner in the Democratic presidential race, so can any of his opponents slow his momentum?

Joining us now is Tim Miller, former communications director for the Jeb Bush Presidential campaign and contributor to the Bulwark.

He published a list of five lessons learned from the 2016 primary and the Republicans' failure to stop then candidate Donald Trump.

Tim, good morning. I know you're on the West Coast. Thanks so much for waking up early.

TIM MILLER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR THE JEB BUSH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Happy to do it, John. And I appreciate the tease about my scars. I'm not sure I've really been scabbed over quite yet for 2016. It's still an open wound. So I'm happy to show them to the viewers.

BERMAN: I do appreciate it in a way you have in the article you wrote for the Bulwark where you put up the five lessons that you learned. So let's throw those up onto the screen so people can see them and I'm going to read through them quickly.

Number one, the race is further along than you think. Number two, lanes are not a real thing. Number three, establishment figures need to speak up now. Four, attack the frontrunner. Five, go big or go home. Let's try to talk about a few of these. Number one, you think it's

almost too late to be having this discussion. Why?

MILLER: Well, Bernie Sanders is going to be the inevitable nominee in eight days. And, you know, obviously between then and the convention, there could be some crazy unforeseen happening.

We've had crazy politics in the last decade, but a lot of people I talk to don't really realize that. They think we're kind of at the beginning, at the starting bell. Even some of the candidates say that, right? Like, only three percent of the people have voted.

That's not how these things work. And, you know, if you look historically, by the end of the South Carolina primary, the candidate that is leading wins the nomination in every modern presidential contest except for the '92 Democratic contest.

In that one, Bill Clinton swept and swept Super Tuesday and took the lead.

Super Tuesday this year is three days after South Carolina, eight days from now. So in eight days, we will have a clear, inevitable front runner and it will probably be too late to do anything about it.

BERMAN: What do you mean by lanes don't exist the way people think they do?

[08:30:10]