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CNN TONIGHT

Whistleblower Reveals About Untrained Health Workers; Coronavirus Rattles Everything from Politics to Economy; Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg Was Interviewed About His Current Position in the Race for the White House and also Asked About V.P. Mike Pence Being In- charge of the Coronavirus Task Force; President Trump Contradicts Health Officials On Coronavirus As They Warn U.S. Outbreak Could Become A Crisis; President Trump Blames The Democrats And The Media For The Market Panic As Coronavirus Fears Intensify; Monmouth Poll, Biden Well Ahead Of Sanders In South Carolina; Goldman Sachs Issues Warning On Coronavirus; Joe Biden Talks To CNN About South Carolina, Super Tuesday, Other Candidates. 10-11p ET

Aired February 27, 2020 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: CNN Tonight with D. Lemon, the man who is known for his wokeness, starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Wow, that is super red. That's so hot, Chris. I mean, you're so cool. That is s dope.

CUOMO: I don't know.

LEMON: Guess what? You know why I'm saying that because nobody says woke anymore.

CUOMO: First of all, he may -- the fringe --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You know who says woke? You know who says woke?

CUOMO: -- makes fun of people for being woke all the time. Now they're going to have woke centers?

LEMON: No. No. People who say woke aren't woke. Because woke is not a thing any more. Nobody says that any more. That's how much they know about being woke, is that it's not a thing.

People don't say woke anymore because they realize that the people who are woke are so tired that they need to sleep. They need a nap.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: So, you're trying to argue --

LEMON: It's not a thing. CUOMO: -- that if you lure African-Americans with hoodies that say

things like Trump on them, and maybe the word woke, that it won't work?

LEMON: Can we put -- can we put the video of the sweatshirt up any more -- again?

CUOMO: Sure, show them.

LEMON: That one -- do you see the white one?

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: The white one has a CNN font. I like it.

CUOMO: Does it?

LEMON: Yes. Did you see it?

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I wonder if that's intentional.

LEMON: It has the CNN font.

CUOMO: Black voices for Trump.

LEMON: You see the one right in the middle? I like that.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: That's in your office. Isn't that in your office?

LEMON: Guess what, nobody says woke anymore, so -- boy, they're really woke. They need to wake up is what they need.

CUOMO: Big tent. This is what we've been waiting for. This is the pivot.

LEMON: Hey, Chris, guess what. You need to go to sleep now. It's past your bedtime.

CUOMO: It will be welcome. I don't want to be woke for more than 14 hours.

LEMON: You've been woke for a long time now. Good night. I'll see you tomorrow.

CUOMO: Good night.

LEMON: Have a good one.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

Listen, I've got to tell you, these numbers really don't lie. Wall Street is rattled by growing coronavirus outbreak. The Dow Jones dropping -- look at this -- wow, 1,200 points today.

In the last six trading days, it has lost more than 3,000 points, erasing $2 trillion in value. Investors concerned about the impact coronavirus is already having on the U.S. economy, especially in relation to doing business with China where the outbreak originated.

Wall Street is sending a very clear message to the Trump administration. Get a handle on coronavirus before it gets out of control, if it's really not out of control already, before it gets worse.

But some of the early steps the administration has taken to combat the outbreak don't inspire tremendous confidence, really doesn't.

A whistleblower at the Department of Health and Human Services revealing tonight that more than a dozen federal health workers who came in contact with the first Americans who were evacuated from Wuhan, China, did not have the proper training or protective gear to deal with coronavirus.

Much more on this developing story. We're going to have that in just a few moments for you right here on this program.

Tonight, though, President Trump taking a victory lap for his administration's handling of the outbreak and incredibly predicting coronavirus will at some point just miraculously disappear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have done an incredible job. We're going to continue -- it's going to disappear one day. It's like a miracle, it will disappear. And from our shores, you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We'll see what happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, you know this by now, right? You know in the public eye, really, really in the public eye, not just a reality TV person, (Inaudible) you know, New York sort of figure. But as the president or person running for president for a while. It's never, ever his fault. Nothing is ever his fault. It's always somebody else's fault.

So, he then went on to -- he blamed the Democrats, right. Then went on to blame the news media for overstating the outbreak which is, you know, on top of health officials, right, say it's going to get worse before it gets better.

The initial response from the White House to the outbreak was bumbling confusing contradictory. Vice President Mike Pence now in charge of the administration's coronavirus task force and point person on all messaging about the outbreak.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president has asked me to lead our administration's effort in response to the coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you leading the task force?

PENCE: I'm leading the task force. We'll continue to rely on the secretary's role as chairman of the task force and the leader of Health and Human Services. But we've known each other many years and worked together very closely over the years. And the president has every confidence in the secretary as I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:05:04]

LEMON: There is still a lot of confusion here. If Mike Pence is leading the task force, why is Secretary Alex Azar chairman? And if President Trump still has confidence in Azar, why did he push him aside yesterday from leading the coronavirus response?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Mike will be working with the professionals and doctors and everybody else that's working. The team is brilliant. I spent a lot of time with the team over the last couple of weeks, but they are totally brilliant, and we're doing really well. Mike is going to be in charge, and Mike will report back to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: At the end of the White House news conference, Azar said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX AZAR, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: I'm still chairman of the task force. Mick Mulvaney has been serving actually an invaluable role for me as acting chief of staff helping to coordinate across the government with my colleagues and the whole government approach.

Having the vice president gives me the biggest stick one could have in the government on this whole government approach. So.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't feel like you're being replaced?

AZAR: Not in the least. When the -- when this was mentioned to me, I said I was delighted that I get to have the vice president helping at this point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. Danny, I want you to play that back. I want you -- don't just listen to him, but look at the body language of the president and the vice president and hen look at how the president walks away when he's -- when Alex Azar is doing that. Play that back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AZAR: I'm still chairman of the task force. Mick Mulvaney has been serving actually an invaluable role for me as acting chief of staff helping to coordinate across the government with my colleagues and the whole government approach.

Having the vice president gives me the biggest stick one could have in the government on this whole government approach. So.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't feel like you're being replaced?

AZAR: Not in the least. When the -- when this was mentioned to me, I said I was delighted that I get to have the vice president helping at this point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yes. The president said to be frustrated with Azar's handling of the outbreak. The Washington Post reporting that Azar was blindsided by the decision to give the leadership role to Pence.

And aside from internal confusion, budget cuts, Trump administration has made the nation's health care agencies such as the CDC, have left the administration short of funds to fight the coronavirus outbreak. The situation House Speaker Pelosi addressed just today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Importunely, up until now the Trump administration has mount an opaque and often chaotic response to this outbreak. The Trump budget calls for slashing almost $700 million from the Centers for Disease Control, and this was the budget which came out after we knew about the coronavirus threat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: While President Trump never been one to put his own needs second, so here's a warning that he'll likely pay attention to.

Goldman Sachs now saying the outbreak of coronavirus could negatively affect economic growth and the economy is key to this president's chances for reelection. And you know how he always touts the stock market.

So, let's talk about the outbreak with Chris Meekins, who was assistant secretary at Health and Human Services between 2017 and 2019. Chris, thank you so much for joining us. Good evening to you.

CHRIS MEEKINS, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Good evening.

LEMON: First, I want to get your response to this whistleblower complaint about workers assisting coronavirus evacuees without protective gear. How dangerous was this oversight?

MEEKINS: I think it's making a lot of assumptions as someone who's worked at the department, and I can say that there are policies and processes in place to ensure that everyone who is responding to these types of crises are actually protected, and that they're taken care of.

I think that every whistleblower complaint should be taken seriously. But at the core you really need to look at what actually happened. So, I assume that the department is having a conversation with everyone who is actually deployed and making sure that there was no threat.

What I've been told is that no one at the department and no one who was deployed has been infected by this virus yet, and that's good news. Because ultimately this is all about protecting the American people whether they were overseas or bringing them home or at home here tonight.

LEMON: So those people have been interacting with the general public and they still have not been tested. That's not a concern for you?

MEEKINS: Well, as I understand it, that happened more than two weeks ago, which means these individuals would have shown symptoms at this point for the virus. So, there wasn't a need.

Additionally, they're legitimate questions that need to be asked and answered about whether the individuals who were deployed were actually in a situation where they could have been infected. And that's a little bit in doubt based on conversation I've had with the department.

LEMON: So, here's a quote from the report. "I soon began to feel panic calls from my leadership team and deployed staff members expressing concerns with the lack of HAS -- HHS communication and coordination, staff being sent into quarantine areas without personal protective equipment, training or experience in managing public health emergency safety protocols and potential danger to both themselves and members of the public.

[22:10:09]

They come into contact," the whistle-blower wrote. Not concerning?

MEEKINS: If it is true, it is concerning. But as I said, and my job is not to defend the administration. I worked previously in these areas of public health preparedness and response, and now I advise clients, Raymond James, on what's going to happen in the markets.

With that being said, I think that it's important to look at the allegations of the whistleblower. There needs to be an investigation. There also needs to be an acknowledgment. No one has been sick. And the fact that the whistleblower came forward after they were told that they were going to be transferred jobs.

LEMON: What do you mean no one has been sick?

MEEKINS: None of the people that were deployed from the Department of Health and Human Services, as I understand it and what's been told to me, have actually come down with the illness. And those people were supposedly exposed more than two weeks ago, which is outside what scientists believe, Dr. Fauci and the career professionals at the CDC, believed to be the incubation period.

LEMON: You worked at HHS under President Trump and part of your job was to imagine the worst-case scenario. Is this administration equipped to handle a global health emergency?

MEEKINS: Congress has done a great job appropriating money for both the area. I worked in Aspers (Ph), as well as the CDC and other entities to make sure they can respond as necessary.

What I will say, while I was there and I left more than a year ago, is that we took dramatic steps forward to prepare. For example, the first responders of HHSs and the national disaster medical system had stopped being trained for infectious disease -- diseases for taking care of people in this exact type of situations.

And Dr. Bob Kadlec who is the assistant secretary for preparedness and response said, we need to change that, and he did. So, these people have actually had training that are the first responders deploying in this situation, which was not the case in the previous administration.

LEMON: So, they've had training, but does that training include what is in this, the whistleblower's account, in your estimation, I mean, and what you have been trained to do and what you experienced under -- when you were in this position, is that part of the training?

(CROSSTALK)

MEEKINS: The national disaster -- the national disaster medical system, which are the front-line responders, EMTs, doctors, other type nurses, these are the people who go out when there's a disaster and try to care for folks.

They have other day jobs. You know, they're doctors in hospitals. But when their country calls on them, when there's a disaster, they step forward and they go out as federal employees to do this.

Those individuals have been trained. There is a question about whether separate staff, who deal more with the social services side, have received the training they needed and there is an open dispute about whether that was the case there, and we really need to get to the bottom of it. I have no doubt --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Well, that's my question.

MEEKINS: -- that the (Inaudible) will do.

LEMON: Well, that is my question. And I want to make sure the people who are out there, whether they're volunteers or whatever they are, are they being trained properly, and are they being kept safe, whether they're volunteer, whether they're alternate staff or whoever they are, are they being kept safe. Are they safe while they're doing that job?

MEEKINS: Well, as I said, I can only speak to what I did in my area at the Department of Human Services which were really the frontline responders. They were not being trained before we got there. They were trained when we were there. They're now capable of executing this mission.

LEMON: What do you think, Chris --

(CROSSTALK)

MEEKINS: With regards to other parts of the department, you know, we had policies in place for it, but you've got to make sure they're followed.

LEMON: What do you think needs to be done to improve what needs to be done to -- what needs to be done to make sure that the coronavirus is not spread beyond what is happening now? What -- how can the department be improved in this situation, in your estimation?

MEEKINS: That's a really good question, Don, and I think that's the core question most people are worried about right now. And the answer is, first, the CDC had to make a change in who was allowed to be tested. They did that late today.

I've been critical and said they should have done that weeks ago to allow people from other areas that were impacted and infected to actually be tested when they come back to the United States and we probably wouldn't have the issue we have now in China.

They likely need to make sure screenings are occurring at the airports and they need to really engage with the local public health professionals who are on the frontline of what we need here in the country. And that we have funded because Congress has decided to, in a really notable level to make sure they have the tools they need to track people that come back with illnesses.

[22:14:54]

And there are basic steps that we, as all Americans need to do, from making sure that you wash your hands for 20 seconds, not 10. Make sure you actually don't touch your face. And I've been trying to pay attention not to touch my face. And it's really hard. You're amaze how many times you do it, to scratch something here or there.

And so, it's important to take those activities and do it. And if people are doing that, we'll be able to navigate this which is a potential threat and we can move on.

LEMON: OK. All right, Chris, thank you. I appreciate it.

MEEKINS: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Count down to the Democratic primary in South Carolina, candidates vying for the important African-American vote. Up next, Payor Pete Buttigieg joins me live from the campaign trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Now for the state of the race, with the pressure mounting, Democratic candidates are making their last push to persuade South Carolina voters before Saturday's primary. While Senator Bernie Sanders leads the race so far, South Carolina in the upcoming Super Tuesday races are critical contests for the rest of the candidates looking to jump out ahead.

[22:19:59]

So, joining me now Democratic candidate and former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg joins me.

I think in South Carolina Bernie Sanders is actually leading there.

Mayor, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it. Good to see you again.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you.

LEMON: Just a couple of days ago. So, it's good to see you again. So, listen, you were mayor of South Bend while Vice President Pence was the governor of Indiana when he was criticized for his controversial handling of the HIV crisis there, of an HIV crisis there. He is now spearheading the response to coronavirus. I want you to listen to what he said on Hannity it was just a few minutes ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: In 2015, we did have in a small town in Indiana a rise in incidence of HIV AIDS. And it was all directly coming from people sharing needles and intravenous drug use.

We worked the problem early in the year from a law enforcement standpoint, from a health standpoint. I don't believe in needle exchanges as a way to combat drug abuse, but in this case, we came to the conclusion that we had a public health emergency, and so, I took executive action to make a limited needle exchange available.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, he sounds like he's taking credit for taking action. What is the truth here? What do you think?

BUTTIGIEG: You know, that small town he's talking about is in Scott County where my mother grew up. I've been to the needle exchange that he reluctantly authorized. He was dragged kicking and screaming into that.

Had he acted earlier; I believe that the worst parts of the HIV epidemic could have been avoided. And the resistance was completely ideological. You even heard a little bit of it in his statement just now.

Look, this is a time when we have to put science first. Lives depend on paying attention to the advice of public health officials and paying attention to what science can tell us. And, you know, the HIV outbreak was a good example whatever you think

ideologically. Needle exchange programs are extremely effective and indeed did proved to be effective when Governor Pence was more or less forced to authorize one in stopping the spread of HIV.

I've been to that needle exchange. They're saving lives. You know, this is just one more example of why it's so important to have leaders who take science and facts seriously.

LEMON: Yes.

BUTTIGIEG: So, I was a little bit alarmed when the word came that he was being tapped to lead the coronavirus response. It sounds now like there is a career person in charge. The bottom line is this can't be about politics. We've got to have leadership that puts the input of public health experts first.

And this is -- lives are on the line and time is of the essence. I don't know where the president got the idea that this is something that could just take care of itself when it got warmer.

This is going to take sustained coordination both within and across the federal government and the inter-agency, between the federal government and the private sector as there is a race to find new therapies and perhaps a vaccine. And internationally among all of the different authorities and countries that must be tightly coordinating the response to this issue.

LEMON: Let's talk about the race. I want to talk about South Carolina. You made a concerted effort to appeal to black voters. You're still polling around 2 percent with black voters. That's according to a Monmouth poll that was out today. Why do you think you haven't been able to close that gap, mayor?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, the candidates who are doing best with black voters here have one of two things going for them. Years or decades of exposure to gain trust, or billions of dollars to run tons of advertising to make up for not having those years.

I don't have that, and yet I still believe that I can make these kinds of inroads and outreach, recognizing that it's also asking for a lot.

Look, black voters have felt taken for granted again and again and again, and have been let down by politics again and again and again.

So I understand as a new face, as a white politician and as somebody who as mayor of South Bend was mayor of a city with a past, where we have a lot that we're proud of and a lot that didn't go well that we have to make sure that I explain and share and demonstrate how that has made me more motivated than ever to use the powers of the presidency to deliver racial justice.

I recognize that that's a tall order, but I also welcome that challenge because it's part of what's at stake in this nominating contest and ultimately in the presidential election. LEMON: Listen, I know that you have people of color in your life. One

of my mentors is a friend of yours. You actually interned for her at the same station that I worked at, Rene Ferguson. So, having said that, is there -- is there a time when you got policy advice from a person of color and implemented that advice? Can you tell me more about that?

[22:24:59]

BUTTIGIEG: Sure. All of the time, especially when I was mayor, and especially when I thought I had the answers and realized that I hadn't been asking all of the right questions.

You know, when I first took office, I was very focused on technical fixes, making sure that we got through the legalities of issues ranging from policing to housing and felt convinced that we had it right, only to learn the more I took input from people who were asking me to consider it another way, the better our responses became.

That was true when we had an initiative to deal with vacant and abandoned housing, the whole point of which was to support neighborhoods and communities of color. But where we also learned how to adjust the program so that it didn't create more problems for low- income residents.

All the way through to policing where I found that things ultimately only got better when I invited some of my harshest critics to the table to look at how we could reshape policies and run things better.

And the overall results are that again, we have a lot to be proud of. We were nationally recognized for race informed work on creating economic opportunity. We were able to drive down black poverty and black unemployment in our city, but also a lot of work to do, a lot of unfinished business when it comes to justice and policing.

And it's the knowledge of being humbled by how difficult it is to get these things right. And the importance of listening to people who could pull me aside and tell me, you know, here's how this statement or here's how this policy looks to me or feels to my neighbors.

Being able to listen to that has helped us shape the Frederick Douglass plan that my campaign has put forward to address systemic racism and it will shape my administration just as it has my campaign.

LEMON: You, Biden, Klobuchar, Bloomberg, are a number of moderate candidates preventing voters from coalescing around one standard bearer. Do you feel that you are doing that from that wing of the party that you're doing that?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I don't think it's all ideological, but I do recognize that there are a number of candidates competing to be the alternative to Senator Sanders.

My case to be the alternative that I hope more will gather around is that I've got the most delegates besides Senator Sanders. I've got the most votes so far besides Senator Sanders. I'm the only one to beat him anywhere in the country so far on the map this year.

Look, on the one hand, he is clearly the front runner right now. On the other hand, the majority of Democrats are looking for something else. I represent something else. A way to get real, bold, meaningful progressive change through, but also to do it in a way that can actually unify this country.

Because I don't think that we can take -- certainly four more years of this president. But also, another political cycle that is dominated by shouting and by divisiveness and by the toxicity that is tearing this country apart. And we can be meaningfully progressive and at the same time have a focus on unifying first the party and then the country. That's the focus of my campaign.

LEMON: I got a quick question for you if you can give me a quick answer, mayor. A super PAC is spending $9 million on ads for Elizabeth Warren on Super Tuesday states. She said that she wouldn't do that. She was highly critical of you for a fund-raiser you held in the so- called wine cave in California. What do you think of her reversal, what does that say about her candidacy?

BUTTIGIEG: I'll let her speak to that. What I'll say is that I continue to believe we should seek help everywhere in order to make sure that we build the campaign and the movement that's going to defeat Donald Trump.

And, you know, for us, the focus is on our own grassroots support. That's why I'm depending on people to go to peteforamerica.com, and chip in a few bucks so that we can fund our program for Super Tuesday.

And that's why we will continue to define my campaign not by whose help we reject, but by who we can bring into the tent. Fellow die-hard Democrats and as much as possible independents and even some Republicans who won't agree with me on everything, but are as sickened by some of what's going on in this White House as I am and are ready for a change.

LEMON: I was wondering if you were going to manage to somehow get that in. Thank you, Mayor. I appreciate you joining us.

BUTTIGIEG: It's my job. Thank you.

LEMON: Thanks so much.

BUTTIGIEG: Thank you.

LEMON: Yes.

President Trump says that there is a very low risk of coronavirus for Americans. As the former head of the CDC warns a pandemic is inevitable, is the president downplaying the outbreak and sending a dangerous message to Americans?

John Kasich has strong opinions about that. He's next.

[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump tonight boasting about how he is handling the coronavirus, contradicting federal health officials about how serious the outbreak may get. Financial markets rattled, taking a nose dive. Let's discuss.

CNN's senior commentator, John Kasich, former Ohio governor. Hello, sir, how are you doing?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good, Don.

LEMON: Boy, Listen. I got to tell you -- you ran for president. But before we get to that -- I'd be nervous out there shaking all those hands, I got to tell you, you meet a lot of people.

KASICH: Well, you know, you have to do it, and you know, you have to stay healthy, I tell you, Don, throughout my campaign I think the lord must have kept me healthy and I used a lot of hand sanitizer, so I made it through.

LEMON: So, let's talk about what's the subject at hand. The president out there downplaying the coronavirus again tonight after he did so last night. Here it is. Listen to this real quick.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The risk to the American people remains very low. I don't think it's inevitable. I gave a press conference yesterday that was really a, a very good press conference.

It's going to disappear one day. It's like a miracle. It will disappear.

The greatest experts I have spoken to them all, nobody really knows.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, you've dealt with a lot of crises as governor of Ohio.

KASICH: Yeah, potentially Ebola.

LEMON: Is that the right way to handle -- is that the right way to handle a deadly epidemic? Under promise, over deliver?

KASICH: No. Here's the thing, Don. When I mention to health professionals that this is a chaotic response, they say that's an understatement. Look, when you have a crisis like this, you have to kind a -- you have to be in charge. You can't say, well, I think there will be a miracle, it will disappear, or maybe it will get worse. I mean, that's not the way you lead.

So, if you are the president the way you ought to handle this is you say, OK, I'm going to put some people in charge, they're very smart people, here's who they are. This is their background. But I want you to know they're going to report to me every day and every day I'm going to have something to say about where we are.

[22:35:06]

We're going to mobilize the hospitals. We are going to mobilize all the health professionals, we're going to get the schools ready. We are going to get all the people who are going to be involved in delivering care. That's what we did when we thought we could have Ebola. You got to mobilize the doctors, you got to get a hold of the nurses. You got to make sure that the EMS people. You have to be in charge. You can't be like, well, maybe this will just disappear.

Look, when I first heard the criticism of him, I thought well maybe they're being a little tough. But then I kind a dug into it. And the fact is that we still don't know who's running that task force. So, one guy says he's in charge, Pence says he's in charge. I mean, this is not the way you do these things. The public needs to have a clear leader and a clear answer. I'm projecting. Just say we're doing everything we can do.

LEMON: All right. I'm glad you said that, because the one thing that I do respect about you -- I mean, there are -- but one of the things. I said that wrong. I respect about you --

KASICH: Thank you. But no, thank you.

LEMON: -- when -- the buck stops with you, OK. The president --

KASICH: Yes.

LEMON: -- is blaming, everybody's blaming the media, he's blaming Democrats for the market drop.

KASICH: Yes, I know.

LEMON: Now, this is on course for the worst week since the financial crisis. Is he worried that more about, you know, his best case for reelection than the reel health threat here, the public health threat?

KASICH: I think the truth, the truth is going to emerge, Don. Either we are prepared or we are not. And right now, in my opinion, from what I can see and what I've listened to, we're behind the curve. And we've got to get up to be ahead of the curve here and we've got to do it shortly. We've got to be really moving in a direction and I don't think there is any room for partisanship, or attack in the media.

Look, people in the country are nervous. We don't have to be hysterical. We have to be calm, but we have to be deliberate. We have to be prepared. And that is not what I'm getting here. The other thing I heard today is that all the people who were supposed to talk have to go through the vice-president's office. So when we got the head of the CDC that's got to go to the Vice President office, to prove their talking points?

First of all, it won't work because people are going to talk. And if they're not talking, people who were in those positions will talk. One voice that says something clearly that lets people know that we are going to do everything we can. We don't know how this is all going to affect us. We're going to stay calm, we're going to be deliberate. We're going to take action and we're going to be in charge. And the buck will stop with me is what the president should say.

LEMON: Yes. Let's talk about 2020. The former vice-president, Joe Biden, has vowed that he's going to win South Carolina. A new Monmouth poll shows him with a 20-point lead. Just one poll. But if he comes up with a big victory, how does that change the dynamics of this race? Does it change?

KASICH: You know, Don, I think it does. And look, every -- I am not here to try to -- look, I'm not here to try to bash anybody because they happen to be, you know, a hard left. OK. I'm not here to do that. I am here to tell you -- although I don't agree with them, but I'm here to tell you as I've been telling you from the beginning that the public would want somebody who is center, center-left.

Joe Biden is a guy, he can relate to blue collar people. He's more moderate than any of these other -- than Bernie Sanders. And if he does well there, it's going to give him some light. Then the question gets to be how much money does he have? And then the other question gets to be, what is the impact of Michael Bloomberg's money? And then the impact gets to be -- the question it's to be, was Bernie Sanders hurt in the last debate?

Because now he's starting to get under fire. And I know that all the establishment Democrats, many of whom I talk to, are willing to throw their bodies in front of Bernie, not because they hate Bernie. It's because they don't think he can deliver good for the Democrat -- well for the Democrats and he thinks that they will affect their majority in the House, United States House and even in the Senate. That's kind of what it boils down to me.

LEMON: I think most people -- I get that. And it's not that Bernie Sanders is a bad guy. But you can understand that with -- with common sense, you get it. And it's not to say that you don't -- you dislike Bernie Sanders, but I understand what people are saying about it. I don't -- listen, I don't have a horse in the race here. And it's also that one word that is sort of -- that one word bothers people and that's socialist. Even though it's not a traditional socialist in the traditional sense and I understand that as well, but that one word really gets people --

KASICH: Don, look, it's not just the one word. And look, when Bernie was in the House I was in the House he came before the budget committee when I was chairman. I treated him with respect, OK. But I don't agree with virtually any of what Bernie has to say in terms of his policy prescriptions. It's not just the fact about socialism, it's kind of praising Castro.

[22:40:06]

Look, he taught people how to read. I'm not sure that's even accurate what he said about him. But that extreme, I'm going to take your health care away, I'll give you a government program. That really unearths people. Think about your mother. Your mother is like, wants somebody who is going to bring people together, who's going to bring about change, but it's not going to be radical. That's what I think she wants.

LEMON: I got to go. But listen, I got to say, there are people who are very passionate about Bernie Sanders and they do like his policies.

KASICH: Yes. God bless them.

LEMON: And they want a change in this country and God bless them, if that's what they want. There you go.

KASICH: And we have to respect them.

LEMON: Absolutely.

KASICH: It doesn't mean we have to agree with them, but we need to respect them. OK? Thanks, Don.

LEMON: John Kasich, thank you, sir.

KASICH: Good to see you.

LEMON: See you next time.

KASICH: I love your suit.

LEMON: Thank you.

KASICH: All right, bye.

LEMON: JCPenney, like it.

Anthony Scaramucci is here right after the break.

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[22:45:00]

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LEMON: As fears over the coronavirus grow, the financial markets fall, how does this impact the main -- the man, I should say, well, he is the main guy inside the White House. Joining me to discuss, Anthony Scaramucci, former White House Director for communications for President Trump.

ANTONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: Good to see you.

SCARAMUCCI: Thanks for having me, Don.

LEMON: Goldman Sachs analyst -- I thought this was interesting warned that if coronavirus has a big impact on U.S. economic growth, it may increase, is the quote, the likelihood of Democratic victory in the 2020 election. That's really -- that's what's gotten him worried.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, I mean, first of all, the press conference last night was unfortunately for the president and for the country and the market participants a disaster, because that was a $1.5 trillion press conference.

LEMON: What does that mean?

SCARAMUCCI: OK. He was repeating a series of lies. He's doubled and tripled down on the force of his personality since they acquitted him. Because that's a very big danger, because he's a self-destructive guy. And he was coming at the press conference locked and loaded with a ton of lies contradicting all the health officials.

And market participants are not that partisan. They're very, very objective. They look at the situation clear eyed and say OK, like Governor Kasich said, country is not ready for the crisis, but worse than that, even if the country is ready for the crisis the leader is going to obfuscate the facts related to this crisis.

So the result of which you have to get into cash. And so that's what's going on. The futures are down again tonight and unless they change strategy from the White House from a communications point of view, open things up to the CDC, make things a little bit more unfiltered, if you will, it's going to continue to hurt the market.

LEMON: So -- but it's not uncommon for the president to try to project confidence and to -- he wants to be calming for the markets. But you're saying they see right through it?

SCARAMUCCI: Did that look calming to you? I mean --

LEMON: No, it did not.

SCARAMUCCI: It looked unhinged and it look irrational and it looked like, you know -- he's got a combination of these going on. By the rule of jet lag from the trip. He wants to curve the reality to what he's saying and the reality is not that. He would have been way better served if he got up there and said, OK, look, there is a problem, here are five or six things you can do to protect yourself and your family. Here's a reason why we think it's going to be contained. But I'll tell you what I'm going to do, I'm going to leave it to the experts in the field.

We have arguably some of the best medical research in human history. I'm going to leave it to them. But he didn't do that. He tried to dominate the conversation and he inserted himself in a way that market participants, Don, objective market participants look at that and say, OK, I've got to lighten up, I got to get the cash and I got to get into a more defensive position because if this thing goes out of control -- and let's stipulate probably a mild -- it's not Ebola.

LEMON: Wait, hold on. Hold on, hold on. Because people at home are saying, what is Anthony Scaramucci know, he is a White House communications director for a short time. Can you tell people why -- this is your business, this is what you do. SCARAMUCCI: I've been a market participant for 31 years. When I left

Harvard law school I worked at Goldman for seven. I built two hedge funds. I'm running and the founder of Sky Bridge Capital, it's got about $10 billion under management.

LEMON: OK. Now go on.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, and so, I've been a market participant for 31 years. This is the most defensive position that I have been in in 31 years. There's another thing going on in the market that market participants know. There's no liquidity in the market. And so, the volcker rule evacuated about a half a trillion dollars of balance sheet capital from the commercial banks around the world and so now we have a lot of algorithmic and electronic traders trading the market. And so this is the most liquid market in the world. The S&P 500, it went limit down for six days 11 percent. And the president really contributed that last night. He literally took like a 50 pound weight on the scale of the S&P 500 and dropped it.

LEMON: So, now what?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think will correct back. I think the president has to change his communication strategy. I think he has to layoff the messaging onto the CDC and those experts.

LEMON: So what happens --?

SCARAMUCCI: And if he does that, I think people will calm down.

LEMON: Quickly, though. So, what happens if more people start to get sick?

SCARAMUCCI: You're going to see the market further correct. Remember it's trading at 17.5 times earnings. That's a historical high, down from 20 times earnings, but a more normal market environment given what's going on, and given where the slowdown in growth is about 14 times, which is another 15 percent correction in the market. Other than that I'm having a great day, because I'm with you. Everything else is good.

LEMON: This is -- you know this. You know this stuff, that's why we have you here.

SCARAMUCCI: I've been doing it for 31 years.

LEMON: They have to get their acts together.

SCARAMUCCI: Get the messaging and recognize you're not going in the right direction.

LEMON: Thank you, Anthony. I appreciate it. Joe Biden speaking tonight to CNN as the South Carolina primary looms on Saturday. He talks about the importance of this race and Super Tuesday next week. Should some of the candidates think about dropping out? We'll hear what he says.

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[22:50:00]

LEMON: Democratic voters in South Carolina will cast their primary ballots on Saturday. Joe Biden says he needs to win in that state. CNN political correspondent Arlette Saenz caught up with him on the campaign trail tonight.

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ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, there's a new poll out that has you up by 20 points. Jim Clyburn, who's endorsed you, said that he thinks you need a big margin here to have that momentum heading into Super Tuesday. Do you agree with that?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not much of a pundit but I'm looking for a big margin. And I think it can catapult us in a very good position for Super Tuesday.

SAENZ: Super Tuesday is a delegate race. Do you think if candidates emerge from there not in the top two or three of delegates that should they consider dropping out?

[22:55:05]

BIDEN: I think that's their decision completely. Look, I know why I'm running. I know why I'm involved in this. And I don't suggest anybody drop out or stay in, it's for them to decide, but I'm staying in.

SAENZ: But do you think that Bernie Sanders is a risky choice as for a candidate. So, do you think that it's time the moderates consolidate around someone, who would support?

BIDEN: Look, I don't think -- look, I think we're all running for our own personal reasons what we want to do to change things and I think that's a decision for everybody to make and very easily, it's a risky choice. I mean, you know, Bernie's a guy who -- he wanted to see us primaried. He thought that in 2012 Barack should be primaried. You know, I mean, he has not been supportive of an awful lot of stuff we've done and thinks he's (inaudible).

He's a good guy but his health care plan is not going anywhere. We can do all that has to be done to protect people's health care and make sure they're covered and make sure they have Medicare if they want it and they can afford it and we can do it. I've done it with Barack in terms of getting the affordable care act passed. We had a public option of that. And so, look, I just think we're in a good shape on the issues. And I think we'll have enough money to compete.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: A new warning about how health officials are handling coronavirus. A whistle-blower says the HHS could have put the public at risk. Everything you need to know, next.

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