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China Implements "Contactless" Food Deliveries over Coronavirus; Warren Says She'll Run Until Convention Even If Behind in Delegates; Biden Says Democratic Rivals Should Drop Out if Can't Get African-American Support; Biden Slams Sanders' Vision for a Revolution; Pence's Public Health Record Raises Concerns as Trump Taps Him to Lead Coronavirus Task Force; Alarmed Democrats Speak Out on Sanders as Frontrunner. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 27, 2020 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You are looking at the new normal for many fast-food restaurants in China. Customers entering this KFC passing through the now standard temperature checks, walking up to a giant screen. They either transfer their order from their smartphones thus avoiding touching the surface or they type it in. As soon as they step away, an employee swoops in to disinfect.

Some stores like this Shanghai Starbucks, takeaway only. The goal: Keep people from gathering. This as the corporate side to stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus.

JOEY WAT, CEO, YUM CHINA: We have been having daily crisis meetings since the end of January.

CULVER: We sat down with the Yum China Holdings CEO Joey Watt. Her company runs some of the most popular food brands in China, including KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

WAT: What's the best way to deal with adversity is to stay calm. Protect ourselves.

CULVER: That protection continues outside of the restaurants. Food delivery -- also about keeping your space.

(on camera): This is what happens here. They leave it there. He tells me I can go. I move in, pick up the food and head home to eat.

And as soon as you get your food, you'll notice on top of the receipt is this little card. It has two different types of readings on it. The temperature reading of the person who prepared your food along with their name and the name and temperature reading of the person who delivered your food.

(voice-over): For Wat, it is as much about being health conscious for customers and staff as it is to give her employees financial comfort.

WAT: And that's part of the company's responsibility to make sure that all our staff and their families will continued to have their jobs and the money to put food on the table.

So, therefore, we always make sure that we have enough cash to prepare for challenges like this.

CULVER: And this challenge is real. At the onset of the outbreak, the company closed more than a third of its roughly 9,200 restaurants. And even the ones that stayed open saw a 40 to 50 percent drop in sales compared with the same time last year.

Yet, Wat stresses that keeping restaurants open does not always mean turning a profit.

WAT: We reopened six restaurants in Wuhan just to serve the food for the medical staff.

CULVER: Sending off meals to feed doctors, nurses and others working at the epicenter of the outbreak.

WAT: Every great company has a soul inside. Of course, we need to learn how to make money but, at the same time, in a moment like this. We need to learn how to not make money sometimes.

CULVER: Wat says she often reflects on her time as a young factory worker and as a waitress before rising the ranks to her current leadership role. It's inspired her to learn from these difficult moments.

WAT: It's tough right now but I always cite to my staff that good times build confidence, bad times build character. This year, we're going to build some really good character.

CULVER: Yielding hope from a surplus of uncertainty.

(on camera): And it's worth noting that several of the companies that we have spoken with suggest to us that they have been in touch with their counterparts in the United States and in other parts of the world. Essentially sharing some of the safety protocols that they have adopted during this special time, as they call it, with those other corporations.

That may suggest, Kate, that some of this new normal that we're seeing around here maybe coming to a city near you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: David, thank you so much for that look inside.

Coming up, President Trump taps Mike Pence to lead the coronavirus task force. Is the vice president up for the job? Is he the right man for the job?

[11:33:40] We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:38:34]

BOLDUAN: For all the talk the Democrats could have a presumptive nominee come Super Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren is saying very clearly, not so fast, friends. Listen to Warren at her CNN town hall last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The way I see this is you write the rules before you know where everybody stands, and then you stick with those rules.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT" & DEBATE MODERATOR; To be clear, would you continue your fight for the Democratic nomination even if another candidate arrived ahead of you in the delegate count?

WARREN: Yes.

LEMON: You would continue? Why?

WARREN: Because a lot of people made $5 contributions to my campaign to keep me in it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Just as they all continue this final sprint to South Carolina's primary on Saturday.

Here with me for some answers, real answers, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Angela Rye, and former South Carolina state representative, Bakari Sellers, both CNN political commentators.

Angela, what does this declaration from Elizabeth Warren, what does it mean for the race? She's -- it is an answer.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is an answer. I think it is a good one. Here's why. It is not just for the folks who donated $5 to her campaign. It is folks that want to see a real contest. For too long, Democrats have been used to deciding who the presumptive nominee should be. And things fall out accordingly.

I have a lot of friends who are super delegates.

(LAUGHTER)

RYE: For a long time, the people had to follow the will of the super delegates instead of the other way around.

[11:40:00] And I think also it is still really early. Even after South Carolina, this weekend, it is still very early, we still have Super Tuesday and a bunch of other contests.

And to put this in perspective, Democrats need 1,191 delegates to win the nomination. And right now, the top contender is Bernie Sanders and he has 45. I want to make sure people have that kind of understanding.

BOLDUAN: Not 1,445.

RYE: No, 45. So I think that's our reality.

BOLDUAN: Speaking of Bernie Sanders, he shared a similar position four years ago that you hear from Elizabeth Warren.

RYE: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Now he's big on a plurality rather than majority when it comes to the delegate count.

Bakari, Biden knows -- Joe Biden knows that he needs to win South Carolina. You're on the ground there. He very well may win South Carolina.

But with that in mind, I want to read what he said last night about others in the race and where things stand at the moment.

He said, "How do you stay in if you have demonstrated you can't get any African-American support? How do you stay in if you don't get support in South Carolina?"

You have Warren saying she's taking this all the way to the convention. That is not what Joe Biden is very clearly saying here. Which is more likely to play out?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I actually agree with Joe Biden. I think that he was talking directly to Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg and not necessarily Elizabeth Warren.

BOLDUAN: Really?

SELLERS: But the fact is, you can't build a coalition. If you can't build a coalition, and that coalition consists of African-American voters, and you have to be able to do that and show that, in South Carolina, then really what are you doing?

I think it is time that we get serious about who is going to be the nominee. It is very clear that these lanes are closing in. And although we have a long way to go, I think we are starting to see it is a Joe Biden versus Bernie Sanders race. That's just where we are.

Elizabeth Warren and everyone, they have every right to stay in. Now should they or is this someone ego trip? That's a question they have to be responsive to.

But I make no hesitation about it. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, when they come to South Carolina, if they get between zero and 2 percent or 3 percent of the African vote, there's no need for them to continue. You cannot be the Democratic nominee without showing you can actually have some African-American support.

RYE: I can't, in good conscience, put Amy Klobuchar with Pete Buttigieg. And the reason for that is, Pete Buttigieg at least has double digits in the delegate count, while Amy Klobuchar does not.

And so I think that this is the danger in a primary. This is not me being biased so one candidate over the other, though I will clearly say on here, I'm not an Amy Klobuchar fan. And I think the reality of it is there are some people who are. And they should have the right to vote for people who they're interested in. That's what a primary contest is about.

And whether Democrats who are, you know, party beholden or not, see that, it is so important for us to engage a new generation of voters by being honest about what democracy really is. And the best people to reflect what democracy really is probably have some Democrats in the name. There's a thought.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: Let me play for you -- Joe Biden, clearly -- as he's going and as he moves forward is clearly trying to ding the frontrunner, Bernie Sanders. And last night at the town hall, here is the pitch he made last night. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is not about a revolution. It is about results. It is about results.

Bernie is a great guy.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: But Bernie --

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: And he's tricked the consciousness of the country. It is really important. But Bernie, in all the time he's been in the United States Senate, I think he's made -- he's passed seven or eight bills.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That is very similar to what Elizabeth Warren, the argument she made on the debate stage.

Bakari, are you hearing that that is convincing because that seems to be a reoccurring theme in terms of the hit on Bernie Sanders now?

SELLERS: Well, I think now -- this is the first time -- and people forget. I know Bernie Sanders has been running for president for, you know, four, five, six years. But people forget this is the first time that Bernie Sanders is the frontrunner. So he's now taking all of this incoming from all sides. And now he's going to have to deal with that, explain his record.

Joe Biden had his time in the barrel and now it is Bernie Sanders a time in the barrel.

A lot of the issues coming up, whether he was an effective legislator or he was not an effective legislator are issues that are going to resonate with various voters.

Here in South Carolina, it is trust factor. And with black voters particularly, we know the value and we worked extremely hard to achieve some semblance of success in this country and some rights we had to fight and believe for. We are not going to risk losing that on ineffectiveness and risk losing that on the ineffectiveness.

So it's a strong message. Will it win? Probably so. But we'll see Saturday.

BOLDUAN: We will see. I love that. Let's leave it there. Because neither one of us have to make predictions.

Good to see you, Bakari and Angela.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it.

[11:44:54]

Coming up, President Trump says Mike Pence is the right person to lead the coronavirus task force. But a look at Pence's record on public health issues, public health crises, is raising some serious questions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: As the first possible case of community spread of coronavirus is found in the United States, President Trump has appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead the coronavirus task force. And now with that in mind, the vice president's track record on public health issues is under scrutiny and being questioned.

CNN's senior political analyst, John Avlon, joins me now. He's looking into this.

John, one of the things folks are looking into now that they might not have known about is that Mike Pence doesn't have a good track record when it comes to health crises. The worst outbreak of HIV in the history of my home state, Indiana, happened under his watch. What exactly happened? Explain to folks?

[11:50:12]

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: So you have to go all the way back to his Indiana governorship. Scott County, the Planned Parenthood was shut down, the only place where folks for HIV testing. It was shut down, in part, because Mike Pence was governor.

You had an outbreak of HIV because of people shooting up drugs, and Mike Pence didn't want to take the advice of the federal government and health experts that there should be a needle exchange. As a result, the number of infections basically quadrupled. Some studies said it was about the worst response you could have.

Prayer didn't work. Other aspects of things didn't work.

What really worked was once they finally conceded you need to get on the ground. So public health is a tricky thing when your politics are done through the filter of social conservatism or religion.

BOLDUAN: Needle exchange programs have been proven effective --

AVLON: Correct.

BOLDUAN: -- over and over again.

AVLON: And I understand why they're unpalatable to conservatives. But public health requires something more than playing to the base.

BOLDUAN: That's an interesting point.

So what then -- I didn't know about this one. Mike Pence in a commentary he wrote about smoking, what are we talking about?

AVLON: Mike Pence, a former radio guy, he always likes these short, pithy columns. He wrote one that didn't age terribly well from when he was a member of Congress.

Saying, in part, "Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn't kill. In fact, two out of every three smokers don't die from a smoking-related illness. And nine out of 10 smokers do not contract lung cancer."

Now, he's quick to say, to be sure, that smoking isn't good for you. But his attempt to give sort of an anti-P.C. reality check by saying smoking doesn't kill, well, that hasn't aged too well because it's wrong.

BOLDUAN: When was that done? 2000?

AVLON: Yes, this was when he was in Congress, 2000, 2001.

BOLDUAN: So it was not --

(CROSSTALK)

AVLON: Old enough to know better.

BOLDUAN: If we can, we can all be honest that this isn't just about Mike Pence. The administration has -- there have been examples of the administration where they have not taken the advice or expert advice of scientists in their own administration. We have seen that time and time again. AVLON: Yes. It's a consistent theme. This administration has a war on

science, often for political reasons. It is really gutted expertise. And particularly on the issue of public health.

President Obama put together a special task force on the National Security Council to deal with these kinds of pandemics when it looked like Ebola was coming to our shores. That group of folks has been summarily dismissed. There was an anti-science perspective related, of course, to climate change issue where climate change denial has been part of public policy.

And cuts, including the CDC, cutting 84 percent of its budget to deal with foreign pandemics before they begin, including pulling folks out of China.

So I think this is part of a legacy they have created, and now they have a responsibility. Those two things are in conflict.

That means we're vulnerable in a way we didn't need to be, and now they have to play catch-up.

BOLDUAN: Can I just say, when it comes to Mike Pence leading this, so far -- he just got the gig, if you will. We haven't seen that Pence is resisting guidance from CDC experts --

AVLON: No.

BOLDUAN: -- or other medical health experts in the administration that are advising them. But this clearly just shows that this is something folks are going to closely, closely watch.

AVLON: And they should because this is a responsibility of the government. However, it appears to have been news that to Health and Human Services secretary, that he wasn't going to take the lead.

Now this is on the vice president's plate. He has to show he puts public health over anything resembling political consideration.

BOLDUAN: Thank you for coming in, John.

AVLON: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.

[11:53:38]

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:58:23]

BOLDUAN: Bernie Sanders is the frontrunner in the Democratic race. That is also now apparently raising alarm among some Democrats on Capitol Hill. There have been whispers about that for a bit. But now, with Sanders on top, some Democrats are speaking out. Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill. He's got this reporting.

Manu, what are you hearing?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a growing number of Democrats are concerned that Bernie Sanders at the top of the ticket could cost them their races, particularly in swing districts, particularly in districts that the president carried. No Democrat who is in a competitive race right now is backing him as a presidential candidate.

Also, a number of Democrats are warning that the agenda that Bernie Sanders is pushing would stand no chance of passing Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): I haven't seen Senator Sanders pay for Medicare For All, for free college education, for all of the things he suggested. They're all great, aspirational goals.

You have to be realistic you can actually achieve things, not just claim that these are things you want to try to achieve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Also, Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, spoke about this a moment ago, Kate. She was asked about concerns that Bernie Sanders could have down the ticket. She said the party would ultimately be unified.

But tellingly, she said that House Democrats will run on a different agenda from the presidential candidate. She said they are not running on a menacing agenda. They will push their own issue. So she said the presidential race will be one thing. House Democrats will focus on another thing.

We'll see if they can do just that -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: You can bet this will be fuel to the Bernie Sanders campaign message coming out of Capitol Hill.

[12:00:02]

It's good to see you, Manu. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

RAJU: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And thank you all so much for joining me today.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.