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Democrats Spar in Final Debate before Super Tuesday; South Carolina Voters Panel; Winter Storm Moves across U.S.; Trump Downplays Coronavirus; Health Officials Talk about Coronavirus. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired February 26, 2020 - 06:30   ET

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


[06:30:00]

MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Out of any of the jobs that I held were it not for the support of the African-American community. And the African-American community demands and has -- needs to be paid attention to. I thought the candidates last night tried to address those issues in a forthright way. I don't know that they went as deep as members of the African-American wanted to go through.

And, by the way, there's not just one African-American community. And although criminal justice is critically important, it's not the only thing the African-American community thinks about. And so I think they really put them to the test last night. And I think the response was -- was halfway OK. Not fully OK. But essentially, and I think this is the point that Krystal's making about Bernie and his supporters, people need to be seen. They need to be heard. And they need the issues that they care about to be addressed in an honest, authentic way. And the people that they know, the people that they like, and the people they think are being truthful for them are the ones that they're going to support.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We are about to hear some of that very same sentiment, Mayor. Thank you for setting that up so well.

LANDRIEU: Sure.

CAMEROTA: Krystal, Karen, thank you both very much.

So, first, coming up on NEW DAY, we'll speak live with two of the Democratic candidates. We have Senator Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer with us.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also, be sure to watch tonight's back-to- back-to-back-to-back CNN town halls. Michael Bloomberg, his first town hall. Joe Biden, off this strong debate performance. Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, they will take questions from South Carolina voters. It all starts at 7 p.m. Eastern.

CAMEROTA: OK. And then, what we're talking about, African-Americans make up a majority of Democratic voters in South Carolina. So, coming up, we sit down with a group of those all-important voters about which candidate has their support. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:35:31]

CAMEROTA: All eyes on South Carolina before the primary there this Saturday. So we thought it would be a good time to revisit a group of black South Carolina voters we met a month ago to see how they're feeling about their choices today. Back then some were still candidate shopping. As of this week, most of their feelings have solidified. Here is our latest "Pulse of the People."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

Show of hands, how many of you have already made up your minds who you'll vote for? Four-ish. OK.

And what are you waiting for, Alex?

ALEX BELK, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRAT: My candidate presently is not running.

CAMEROTA: What does that mean?

BELK: Well, I'm a Bloomberg fan. I feel like he has the best chance to beat Trump. His business background is so much better than Trump's.

CAMEROTA: OK, Cassandra, who are you leaning towards?

CASSANDRA WILLIAMS RUSH, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRAT: I think I'm still with Tom Steyer. I'll see how it goes for him this Saturday in South Carolina.

CAMEROTA: Benny, who are you leaning towards?

BENNY STARR, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRAT: One candidate for me is actually laying out really detailed, concise policy proposals.

CAMEROTA: And that's Elizabeth Warren?

STARR: That's Elizabeth Warren, yes.

CAMEROTA: Jennifer?

JENNIFER WINSTON, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRAT: Bernie Sanders will be most likely the person I vote for on February 29. I have $179,000 worth of student loans. That's in myself and my children. So that's really at the top.

DARION MCCLOUD, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRAT: So, at this point, I'm undecided. I really am days before.

CAMEROTA: What's going to make your decision between now and Saturday?

MCCLOUD: I wish I knew. I'm going to talk more, study more and I'm just being honest. I don't know.

CAMEROTA: Vanity, who are you leaning towards.

VANITY DETERVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRAT: I am going to continue throwing my support behind Elizabeth Warren. One thing that I noticed is that Elizabeth Warren transcended from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. So if there's any one with the electability and the likelihood to maintain the votes or harness the support from swing voters and moderate voters, I believe Elizabeth Warren has that capability.

CAMEROTA: By the way, Joe Biden is still leading in the polls in your state.

MCCLOUD: But I think a lot of people felt like, like I did, like he was a sure bet. I thought Biden was a dude that could get black people, straight people, gay, whoever. He was -- he was a unifier. Thus far, he's been at two of the whitest places in the country and he's lost miserably.

BELK: I think -- I think Biden feels that blacks are going to vote for him just because of Obama.

RUSH: Yes, that it's a given.

BELK: You know, he thinks -- he thinks that's a given. We don't all think alike. So don't put us in -- in a box. And I feel like that's what Biden is doing to blacks in South Carolina.

STARR: I think a lot of the issues that we talk about nationally, I can give you examples of how they impact South Carolina directly. I can find -- show you food deserts (ph). I can take you places where there are no healthy foods for people to eat. There are education issues. There are issues of segregation.

WINSTON: A lot of families that I work with, a lot of them are losing their housing vouchers. I have several students that are homeless. Their parents just cannot afford even the rent, you know, to just maintain their households.

STARR: We're talking about all these hot button issues that are national. South Carolina's experiencing them directly.

CAMEROTA: Bernie Sanders. A show of hands. How many of you have been surprised by his assent and success thus far? How do you make sense of that?

WINSTON: For me in -- I see how his previous campaign team was mostly white and now it's more integrated as far as representation of different ethnic groups. They have an actual office in Charleston. So I just would walk in and there were people in there that looked like me or that were Hispanic that weren't all white.

CAMEROTA: How many of you are concerned that he'll be painted with a -- the socialism label and that that will hurt his chances in the general.

STARR: Oh, it's going to be a challenge no doubt. No doubt. It's just going to be a challenge.

CAMEROTA: It worries you?

MCCLOUD: Yes, well, it -- it -- but I also think people are voting for him for a reason. It's not like he's stumbling and bumbling. People are voting for him for a reason.

DETERVILLE: And as a -- as a socialist, correct me if I'm wrong, he should have been working to completely dismantle the institution of capitalism as we know it. However, I feel like he's working within to reform the capitalism.

[06:40:01]

CAMEROTA: So let's go around and everybody share their biggest anxiety as you head -- as we head into these next months.

BELK: I just got the possibility of Trump winning another term. I just think he'll just go on a tangent and just be destructive for this country.

RUSH: My anxiety? The Russian interference. I just think this -- you know, there could be interferences from whatever angle and I'm not sure who it's going to favor in the long run.

STARR: Just knowing what he's done to the courts and all of these other systems that, you know, he appoints people. He appoints the secretary of education. Just the erosion of protections for people.

CAMEROTA: Jennifer, your biggest anxiety in the next few months?

WINSTON: Oh, gosh.

It's that there will be a sabotage, whatever Democratic -- whatever the Democratic ticket looks like. So there will be sabotage.

MCCLOUD: Between gerrymandering, voter suppression, and so many shenanigans, we don't have time to name them. I believe in the American people. I don't believe in the power structure right now that will do and is doing anything to remain in power.

DETERVILLE: I also am terrified that within the new freshman class of Congress, we will see a resurgence of the GOP party in the Senate and the House.

CAMEROTA: And why?

DETERVILLE: When the impeachment happened, I feel like that was the epitome of the power of the Republican Party for the nation to see.

BELK: And I think Pelosi was right about the impeachment.

CAMEROTA: What?

BELK: It should have never happened. It should have never happened.

MCCLOUD: I disagree with that.

BELK: Yes, but I mean --

RUSH: That's (INAUDIBLE).

BELK: But look at his numbers. That's what I'm talking about.

MCCLOUD: But when somebody's breaking the law, what do you do?

BELK: I understand --

MCCLOUD: I mean he basically --

BELK: I understand --

MCCLOUD: They had no choice.

RUSH: You hold them accountable.

(CROSS TALK)

MCCLOUD: If we can't hold the president accountable, what are we?

BELK: I agree. I agree.

MCCLOUD: What are we?

BELK: I agree. I agree with what you're saying, but Pelosi had a good point.

MCCLOUD: Those people there, despite all the money and all, we put those people there. It falls on the electorate. It falls on us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: On that note, they feel their responsibility really strongly. I mean they are taking their vote very seriously as you can hear in this primary.

I should also mention, I sat down with them on Monday. So it was before last night's debate. It's possible that they now feel -- have different feelings, or stronger feelings about Joe Biden than they did on that day because of his strong performance last night. But they are really engaged in what's happening.

BERMAN: Look, what strikes me is something that we've seen for months now, which is that Democratic voters, particularly African-Americans, are very concerned about electability. Very concerned.

So to hear a group of African-American voters note that Joe Biden did poorly with white voters, right? Why did they know that? Because what they want is they want to win. They want to win. And so they want to make sure that whoever they're going to end up supporting can win with everybody.

CAMEROTA: Wait until you hear what they have to say about Mike Bloomberg on that very note tomorrow.

That's a tease.

All right, meanwhile, there are more than 25 million people under a severe weather advisory today. This is a powerful winter storm. It's packing heavy snow and strong winds. It is intensifying as it spreads east.

So CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has our forecast.

What's happening, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Alisyn, so far an underachiever for snow. but that's about to change. It will start to pick up as the day goes on. Still winter weather advisories all the way from the Midwest to the Northeast.

This weather is presented by Kay, where your love story is the most important one of all.

So let's get right to it.

We'll see the rain showers come in across parts of the southeast. We'll see snow across the northern plains, across parts of Chicago. Only about an inch and a half for you even down in Midway, but more will go toward Gary, more will go toward even Detroit and Flint, up into that area as the snow now is just finally developing. A little slow start, but it is on the way.

What is going to happen, though, for the northeast is it's going to get windy. We're going to get winds of 40 miles per hour as the storm gets into tomorrow morning. Those 40 mile-per-hour winds could bring down power lines, trees, all those things. It could even make some flash flooding along the coast with that on-shore flow pushing the tide on land.

But, here you go, this is the snow. If you're impressed with four to six inches, there you go. Most people will see less than that.

John.

BERMAN: All right, Chad, thank you very much for that.

U.S. stock futures swinging wildly this morning over fears of the coronavirus after two terrible days on Wall Street. One of the issues is the mixed messages coming from senior health officials in this country in the White House who seems to be saying everything's perfectly fine. Details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:48:52]

BERMAN: So this morning the CDC is warning Americans that they should prepare for a coronavirus crisis in the United States. That stark message seems to be at odds with what President Trump and his administration are saying.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live at the White House with more.

And, Jeremy, one thing is crystal clear, which is the White House knows it's got to deal with this at some level. The president was just tweeting about it. But at what level and with whom is a little less clear given that most of the people we've heard from are economic advisers.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And certainly what we've seen from the president and from his chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow yesterday was painting a pretty rosy picture. What they're mainly trying to do here is to calm the markets, which have been on a selloff for the past two days straight, dropping nearly 2,000 points in the Dow.

But the message that we're hearing from health experts in the U.S. government is very different, particularly from the Centers for Disease Control. This is the message that we heard from the director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. She said yesterday, we expect 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 exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.

[06:50:04]

Disruption to everyday life may be severe.

So the clear message from the CDC is that this is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. And amid that warning from the CDC, what we saw yesterday on Capitol Hill was really some outrage and some concern and a lot of questions being asked by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

And one of the issues that raised questions, and particularly drew friendly fire from one Republican senator, was the president's claim and his administration's claim that they are very close to a vaccine. The secretary of Homeland Security, acting secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, yesterday saying that they were merely months away. Senator John Kennedy, a Republican, put that question to the Health and Human Services.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with keeping us safe, just testified about ten minutes ago a month and a half. Which is it?

ALEX AZAR, SECRETARY, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: One could not develop a vaccine in a month and a half. That would -- that's never happened in human history.

KENNEDY: Maybe you ought to talk to the secretary of Homeland Security before he spreads that too far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: And so you can see there those questions still mounting on Capitol Hill as the president just returned to Washington from India. The president there perhaps trying to now reassure lawmakers after trying to reassure the markets, saying that he is heading to the White House and then he has meetings and calls scheduled today, including with the secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, as well as with the CDC.

Guys, back to you.

BERMAN: All right, Jeremy Diamond at the White House, thank you very much. Keep us posted. I expect we will hear more from the president on part of this today, maybe more on the stock market than the actual spread of the disease.

CAMEROTA: Well, anything. I mean people are hungry for information if it's factual.

BERMAN: All right, coming up, we're going to speak to a senior health official in this country about exactly what Americans should be paying attention to. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:55:48]

BERMAN: So this morning, federal health officials are warning that the coronavirus will likely spread here in the United States and they're urging businesses, hospitals, and communities to begin preparing for an outbreak.

Joining me now is Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He will brief the president this afternoon on coronavirus.

Dr. Fauci, it is always so helpful to speak with you.

And yesterday we heard from Dr. Nancy Misone (ph), who said it's not a question of if, it's a question of when coronavirus spreads in the United States. And then she also said that she personally has called her children's school to talk about what their contingency plans are for when or if they have to shut down.

And I know that there are so many parents -- because I've heard from them -- who heard that and said, well, wait a second here, this sounds very serious.

Why is she saying that and what's the significance?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, what Dr. Misone was saying that if you look at what's going on outside of the United States, in the United States right now we have 14 cases, 12 of which have traveled from Wuhan, China, and two other spouses of the travelers.

The other is a whole bunch of people who repatriated from the Diamond Princess ship that was in Yokohama. There have been no secondary cases in the United States. So as things are right now, things are under control.

But what Nancy was saying is that if you look at the other countries, you look at Italy, Iran, Japan, South Korea, they are having community spread in their countries, which means that it likely will spread to other countries. And when that happens, then you have the makings of a pandemic.

And what she was saying is that that being the case, if we have a pandemic, almost certainly we're going to get impacted. Therefore, these are the kind of things you need to think about. She wasn't saying you need to close schools tomorrow or you need to do teleworking tomorrow. She was saying, when we get an influx of individuals who are infected, and we have community spread, these are the things one must be prepared to do.

And I think that's what the confusion was, was saying that things are stable here, which they are, and at the same time we need to be ready to do things, to contain an outbreak if it were to occur.

BERMAN: What does it matter that things are stable right now if there is likely to be a pandemic, or if there is likely to be community spread, which you just suggested it is likely?

FAUCI: No, no, I mean, I -- I -- you make a very good point. You need to be prepared for what very likely will occur. And I think the confusion was the message of what is happening now and what we need to be prepared for. But Nancy was absolutely correct, we need to be able to think about how we will respond to a pandemic outbreak.

BERMAN: Yes, Larry Kudlow, who is the economic adviser, is -- I'm not aware of any medical training that he has. Are you aware of any medical training he has?

FAUCI: No, I'm not.

BERMAN: So Larry Kudlow said that the United States is almost completely airtight when it comes to coronavirus. And, again, according to you, that may be so. It may be contained in the United States right now. But from a disease control perspective, what matters is what's going to happen, correct? So the message that it's contained right now, how much does that matter?

FAUCI: Well, I mean, I think the point that he was trying to make is where we are here. And, you're right, there's two ways of looking at it. You could look at it, what's going on right now? Are we containing it? The answer is, yes. He was not looking at what might happen if, in fact, we have a pandemic in the rest of the world. Because it's very clear, if we have a global pandemic, no country is going to be without impact for sure.

BERMAN: Do you think that's likely? What is a pandemic and do you think it's likely?

FAUCI: Well, a pandemic has a number of, you know, empiric definitions. But in generally the core definition is that what you have is continual spread of sustained transmission from person to person to person in multiple countries, regions, and hemispheres throughout the world simultaneously.

[07:00:00]

That's what pandemic means. Essentially involving the entire world.

So right now, today, we have a bad epidemic in --