Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR

Trump to Address Nation on Coronavirus Tonight at 6:00; Trump Administration May Impose New Travel Bans to Prevent Coronavirus Spread; NIH's Fauci Warns of Pandemic & Officials Worried It Could Cause Economic Recession; Coronavirus Rattles Global Markets as Dow Drops; CDC Says "When, Not It" Coronavirus Hits U.S.; Clyburn Endorses Biden Ahead of S.C. Primary; Democratic Rivals Attack Sanders in Raucous Debate; Bloomberg Tries to Bounce Back in S.C. Debate. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired February 26, 2020 - 11:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:25]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me.

This morning, the coronavirus is spreading around the world. And in the United States, the threat is growing. On that note, President Trump has announced today he will be addressing the country this evening on the virus. That's scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Eastern coming from the White House.

And that is important considering the real and troubling mixed messaging that has been coming out of the White House and the rest of the Trump administration on this very real public health threat.

CNN has learned the Trump administration may impose new travel restrictions to stem the spread of the virus in the United States. This comes one day after the CDC warned that it's not a matter of if the virus will spread in the United States but when it will do just that.

And now a top infectious disease doctor tells CNN the outbreak is inching closer and closer to becoming a pandemic. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASE: If we have a pandemic, almost certainly, we're going to get impacted.

We need to be able to think about how we will respond to a pandemic outbreak.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: Let's get over first to the White House. CNN's John Harwood is there and joins me now.

John, what are you hearing about this news conference with the president?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, to some extent, Kate, the White House hasn't provided a lot of details but it will depend on what happens the rest of the day.

The president has gotten some good news today in the stabilization of the markets. But Anthony Fauci's warning of a potential pandemic has underscored the risks of a potential economic recession from the coronavirus.

That has got the president extremely concerned. He's got an executive branch that's not fully staffed. They have discarded the post that President Obama set up to handle global pandemics on the National Security Council.

So this president is not in a good place right now. He was unsettled by the fact that his happy talk yesterday and the day before about this being under control has not seemed to be effective.

Republican Senator John Kennedy was grilling his officials yesterday on Capitol Hill, saying you're not giving me answers. I think the president sees the news conference as a chance to provide some better answers than the administration has given so far.

BOLDUAN: John, thank you so much. Much more to come from the White House today. Really appreciate it.

One immediate impact the coronavirus has is rattling global markets. So far, it's been another volatile day on Wall Street. And this comes after historic declines Monday and Tuesday when the Dow lost nearly 2,000 points. For perspective, that is $1.7 trillion in value wiped out in two days.

CNN's Julia Chatterley is at the New York Stock Exchange with much more on this side of this very big story.

Julia, what are you seeing and hearing there today?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Hey, Kate, great to be with you.

I can tell you we're seeing gains at this moment. We are higher by 1.5 percent on the Dow. I'll call it a pause or consolidation after five straight sessions of losses.

To your point, two really turbulent days on the stock market. I think people here, their heads are spinning. In the space of a week, we've gone from seeing the stock market at record highs and questioning whether that made sense in light of the coronavirus outbreak. And now, we've been flirting with correction territory, so down 10 percent almost from recent highs.

I think, to John's point, the announcement of this press conference critical today for giving stability to these markets. We'll have to wait and see what the president says. He said that the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, is going to be there.

It was the apparent mixed messages from these two figures yesterday that created a lot of the uncertainty. We simply don't know what the impact is going to be. So I think, again, all eyes, all investors will be watching that 6:00 p.m. press conference.

Of course, Larry Kudlow did say yesterday, the White House economic advisor, buy on dips here. Kate, I tell you what, that's working today but the only thing I'll promise you is more volatility at his stage. For now, we're higher but we'll wait for that press conference tonight.

Back to you.

BOLDUAN: Buy on dips coming from a top White House official.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Yes, he handles the economy, is the top economic advisor, but hearing that, as talking about a very real public health threat, is sure something.

Good to see you, Julia. Really appreciate it.

The economic impact is one thing but the most important aspect of this crisis is, of course, the threat to public health from this mysterious virus.

[11:04:56]

The CDC isn't mincing words with a top official saying this, and I'll read you the quote from the briefing. They said, "We expect that we will see community spread in this country. It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness. Disruption to everyday life may be severe."

Joining me now is CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, in addition to the CDC official, you have Anthony Fauci, a top NIH official, also adding that the virus is getting closer and closer to being labeled and reaching the definition of pandemic. Can you put these warnings in perspective for folks?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, as far as the terminology, some of that is just semantics at this point. We are certainly seeing evidence of this virus spreading in many places around the world.

What we're specifically talking about, what Dr. Fauci was talking about is the idea of seeing sustained community spread. What that means is in the United States so far you've only had two people who have actually contracted the virus from somebody else, a human-to- human transmission.

Once you see that happening in larger numbers, so one person transmits it to two or three other people and they transmit it to two or three other people and that goes on for four or five generations, that's what's called sustained community spread.

And look, the public health officials have been very transparent about this to be clear for some time saying this is going to happen. All the massive measures taking place in China, the largest quarantine in history, the travel restrictions, all of that was designed to slow this down. But we're talking about a little virus here that doesn't respect borders or boundaries.

I interviewed, Kate, the head of the CDC last week. I want you to listen carefully as to how he described this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL & PROTECTION: This virus is probably with us beyond this season or beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we'll get community-based transmission. And you can start to think of it in the sense like seasonal flu. The only difference is we don't understand this virus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: So a foothold, Kate, something that's going to start spreading within communities.

Again, public health officials have been saying this for some time. They wanted to buy time, slow this thing down, knowing that it would eventually start to spread.

BOLDUAN: And so there's a lot of talk about what the government is doing to prepare or what they -- if they have done enough, where they are in terms of preparation.

But what should everyone else be doing, Sanjay? Are you hearing that folks should start stocking up on diapers? Should people start wearing masks outside already? I think a lot of people just want to know simply what they can do.

GUPTA: Yes. The practicality of this for people. Look, to be fair, we're not there yet.

BOLDUAN: Right.

GUPTA: I mean, we are saying when, not if, but we're not there yet. There's still only 57 people who have been diagnosed in this country. And so if you have symptoms, it's still exponentially more likely to be the cold or the flu versus coronavirus. But it's a really important point.

Look, Kate, I've covered lots of outbreaks over the years, including H1N1 --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You were on the ground covering Ebola. I remember that distinctly.

GUPTA: Yes, in West Africa.

But here in the United States, I think once we start to hear about the community spread -- again, people are saying that's going to happen -- I think the name of the game, what people will talk about is this idea of social distancing, trying to isolate people as much as possible, as much as reasonable for a period of time. A couple of weeks perhaps. And that means kids staying home from school, people trying to work from home.

But also, you know, do you have your medicines in case you can't get to the pharmacy? Do you have enough supplies? Look around your House. If you're told, hey, look, I'm not going to leave the house for up to a couple of weeks, do I have what I need here? That's the sort of preparedness planning that people often talk about in the midst of an outbreak of some sort. Hospitals will probably cancel elective operations and be focusing on

surge capacity. Big gymnasiums, big public buildings will be thought of as not just public spaces but possibly isolation areas.

So the whole community, from the medical side, the social side, schools, all that starts to change.

But I think the biggest thing is you want to distance yourself from people for a bit because you don't want to contract this virus. Are you in a position to do that?

I think that's the practicality of it. If you have young children, it does mean diapers. If you're an older person that takes meds, it does mean making sure you have enough medications to get you through that time period. Those practical sort of tips.

BOLDUAN: Cautious but vigilant.

GUPTA: That's right.

BOLDUAN: As a mom, with a baby at home, you can never have too many diapers is kind of the way I always think of it.

GUPTA: You're always prepared.

BOLDUAN: What about travel? What about people with travel plans outside the United States?

GUPTA: I have talked to several folks about this issue. You know, there's been a lot of back and forth regarding travel restrictions.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

[11:10:03] GUPTA: I don't think this idea of people being restricted, travel into the United States from other countries, is probably going to be that meaningful once you start to see so many areas around the world where the virus is spreading because you're talking about South Korea, Italy, Iran, all these different places.

But I think what you are going to hear is travel advisories for people within the United States to these other countries. So you want to check to see is there a travel advisory. The highest is saying don't travel there and then there's non-essential travel.

But you can look. The State Department is continuously updating that. I wrote down Italy, for example, is a level two travel warning right now, Iran a level four. You want to check that and determine whether your travel still makes sense.

BOLDUAN: Those two Web sites, like Amy Klobuchar, offered up on the Web site, CDC.gov. The CDC's Web site very important, as well as the State Department Web site as far as those travel updates.

GUPTA: Right.

BOLDUAN: Of course, we'll bring them as soon as we get each and every one of them.

Thank you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You've got it, Kate. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, former Vice President Joe Biden picks up a big endorsement this morning in South Carolina. Could it turn the tide for his campaign? We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:15:31]

BOLDUAN: A big morning for former Vice President Joe Biden, picking up the biggest endorsement for a Democrat in South Carolina three days before the state's primary. South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, the highest ranking African-American member of Congress, announcing this morning that he's throwing his support behind Biden, encouraging Democrats in the state to do the very same.

That stamp of approval coming on the heels of a raucous and really messy debate last night, literally turning into a free-for-all between the seven candidates on the stage. Frontrunner Bernie Sanders taking the most attacks. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I would make a better president than Bernie.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SOUTH BEND MAYOR: Imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump.

(LAUGHTER)

BUTTIGIEG: Think about what that will be like for this country.

(APPLAUSE)

TOM STEYER, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & ENTREPRENEUR: Bernie Sanders' analysis is right. The difference is I don't like his solutions.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie, in fact, hasn't passed much of anything.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not think this is the best person to lead the ticket.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: To keep on going, we will elect Bernie. Bernie will lose to Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: CNN's jeff Zeleny is in Charleston, South Carolina.

Jeff, first the endorsement. What does this do for Joe Biden?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Kate, I think there's no question, this is the endorsement Joe Biden has been waiting for. There's no one who is more well known and has supporters looking to him for guidance here.

If you consider about half of the voters in South Carolina, the Democratic voters have told pollsters that they are still open to changing their minds, an endorsement from Congressman Clyburn certainly could be beneficial.

I was just at their endorsement event just a short time ago this morning. I was struck that he said, "We not only know Joe Biden, Joe Biden knows us."

But listen to how the former vice president accepted that endorsement, talking about a revolution. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Today, people are talking about a revolution. What the country is looking for are results. What they're looking for is security. What they're looking for is being able to sustain and maintain their dignity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: So no question, Joe Biden's central argument here in the final days of the South Carolina primary is that he is a security blanket, if you will. He is a bit of comfort, if you will.

He went on to talk about Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, about how that has saved so many families there and, of course, points out that Medicare For All, supported by Bernie Sanders, would take people off of their private insurance.

So it is amazing the degree to which Barack Obama, the former president, is hanging over this contest here. Joe Biden trying to hold tightly on to his legacy, his policies, to turn out that African- American vote and others here in South Carolina.

He needs a win on Saturday, Kate. Otherwise, he knows he cannot go forward -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: So what are you hearing about last night's debate?

ZELENY: There's no question that Bernie Sanders took all kinds of incoming. The question is, does it change his trajectory. None of it was necessarily new. These arguments have been being made really for the last year or so but it is a different moment of the debate.

I think we, frankly, have to wait and see how voters digest all of this, not just here in South Carolina but also in Super Tuesday states. Those 14 states that will vote a week from yesterday. Some of them are casting early votes right now. So how voters sort of internalize all of those critiques.

It certainly wasn't a great night for Bernie Sanders, but I think he withstood it as strongly as anybody could being attacked from every direction you can possibly think of -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: And at some point, who knew who was attacking who because they were all just yelling on top of each other.

It's good to see you, Jeff.

ZELENY: A free-for-all.

BOLDUAN: Right.

Joining me right now, former Obama campaign manager, Jim Messina, for more perspective on this.

Jim, first, your take on the Clyburn endorsement, how important?

JIM MESSINA, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It's a big moment. I'm skeptical of endorsements usually but Jim Clyburn's is the one endorsement I would wanting in South Carolina. He has real organizational skills. He has real field on the ground.

And more importantly, he's the person that people look to, to say, who should I vote for. And with half this field undecided with just a few days left, that's the endorsement I think is a very significant one.

BOLDUAN: That's so interesting. So then about last night, everyone going after Bernie Sanders. Do you

think anyone left a mark, though?

MESSINA: It's a good question. Some of these people need to start doing it on TV and on digital and with paid communication.

[11:20:06]

I think the one hit that hurt him last night was Joe Biden going after him on gun control, saying you voted against the Brady Bill five times. I think that's the hit I think could have some lasting impact.

And it was interesting to see how Bernie Sanders dealt with those attacks, Kate. I think for the most part he just tried to stay above it, ducked and went back to his message pretty effectively.

So a lot of people punching him, but I'm not sure that he took some blows that he'll really be feeling this morning.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And then there are a lot of folks who think this was Biden's strongest debate. Do you think this was a just-in-time kind of scenario for him to show up and save his campaign in South Carolina, just before South Carolina votes? Also, this is the final debate before Super Tuesday.

MESSINA: Yes, it was a big moment for him. He had to have it. As Zeleny said, he has to win South Carolina or his candidacy is over.

And I think his strong debate last night combined with the Clyburn endorsement today is a very big moment for him I understand puts him back in the driver's seat. I would expect him to win South Carolina. And then we go into Super Tuesday.

But remember, Kate, about half of Super Tuesday voters are already going to have voted early, so people are voting today, tomorrow, this weekend. So this debate was a very big moment for Joe Biden.

BOLDUAN: They're not necessarily waiting to see what happens in South Carolina before they're already having their say.

So you said, about Bloomberg, going into the debate that Bloomberg needed to do two things other than, quite frankly, do better. Spend less time talking about his past and spend more time talking about his vision for Democrats and how he can be the one to beat Donald Trump. Do you think he did that?

MESSINA: I think he was certainly better, which wouldn't be hard. But, look --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I was going to say low bar.

MESSINA: Right, it's a low bar. I thought he was better. I thought he was calmer and more efficient. I think he held his own. You know, in a seven-way debate, it's super hard to do the two things he had to do. But here's the truth. I'd rather have his $500 million of TV ads than

one debate performance last night. I think he's feeling like he got through it last night and now he'll make the case to voters with one cajillion dollars in TV ads.

BOLDUAN: On the cajillion dollars, Jeff Zeleny, out dear friend, my dear friend, poses an interesting question. If he has a cajillion dollars, why isn't he spending it on anti-Bernie Sanders ads versus what we're seeing out there so far?

MESSINA: I think it is a question Democrats across the country are asking this morning. Really, only Joe Biden is on TV hitting Bernie right now and Bernie is sort of alone. It is the one thing that needs to happen, people holding Sanders accountable on some of these issues we talked about last night.

I understand the theory, which is Bloomberg doesn't want to hurt someone who could be the Democratic nominee. And he wants to spend his time and money talking about himself and Donald Trump.

I think the issue is 40 percent of voters are going to vote in the next week and people are making up their minds every day and somebody has to point out Bernie Sanders' flaw and he has the biggest checkbook. So I would expect that to happen and, frankly, I'm surprised it hasn't happened so far.

BOLDUAN: You have Warren making a decision to focus a lot again on Mike Bloomberg rather than going after the frontrunner, Bernie Sanders, kind of along the lines we were talking about. I wonder about her decision.

But also then, it all folds into this insanity of all of the yelling last night. It was literally -- it appeared really only Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar that were not yelling at each other.

Throw up that picture, you guys, of the images that encapsulates everything that we know from last night.

I don't know if you can see it, Jim, but it's Amy Klobuchar in between Joe Biden and Tom Steyer looking like they're going to fisticuffs. What did you think of that? You've been part of many of a debate prep.

MESSINA: Yes. I thought it was a weird strategy.

Let's go to Warren first. I totally agree with you, Kate. The thing Warren had to do was slow Bernie Sanders down and she spent more time talking about Michael Bloomberg. I understand why. She had a big fundraising night when she did it last week and raised some money she absolutely had to have.

But she's competing with these voters with Bernie. She's not competing for voters trying to decide between her and Michael Bloomberg so I'm not sure I understood that theory.

On the screaming, I do think that it was one of those moments where everyone had to have a big night and they just really wanted to go after it. It was sort of the cage match that Democrats were waiting for. And, you know, Democrats want to start to figure out who to vote for.

I thought Mayor Pete had a good night trying to stay above it. I thought Bloomberg tried a little bit to stay above it. We'll see.

But a whole bunch of people are making up their minds and if you're a candidate right now, you'd throw the kitchen sink at it. Sadly enough, on national TV last night, Kate, they did.

[11:25:03]

BOLDUAN: Yes. At some point, folks at home are likely saying, what, I can't hear any of you. As we often say on television, when you all yell at each other, nobody can hear anything.

It's good to see you, Jim.

MESSINA: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Stop yelling at me!

A programming note. CNN's special two-night town hall event continues tonight. A big night it's going to be. Live from Charleston, South Carolina, four more Democratic candidates are going to be taking questions from voters. You can see them right there on your screen. It starts at 7:00 Eastern only on CNN.

Still ahead for us, Democrats and the White House at odds over how much money is needed to combat the coronavirus. The Trump administration officials are getting a grilling right now from both parties on Capitol Hill. We'll take you there for the latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)