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Stocks Head For Worst Week Since 2008 Financial Crisis; Military Offensive Fuels Humanitarian Crisis In Syria; Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) On Biden Endorsement. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 28, 2020 - 07:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. stock futures and stocks headed for their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. As of now, they're there. And it could be another bad day on Wall Street.

And looking at futures right now, actually, that's off its lows. It's doing better now, down 78, than they were earlier today when it was down 400 or more, but we're watching it very, very closely.

So many people asking this morning what do you do when the market plummets like this? What do you do with your money? What do you do with your plans if you're thinking about traveling?

CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us, I think with some advice here Romans. And when you watch the market --


BERMAN: -- go down 10 percent in six days, what's the right way to react?

ROMANS: You cannot time the market -- you can't, you can't, I can't. If you are so panicked that you're trying to find the login for your 401(k) and selling on a big down day you're going to make a mistake, right -- you really are. You shouldn't be making big moves. Individual investors shouldn't be making big moves at a time like this.

Now, if you're really close to retirement and you've got all your money in stocks, you shouldn't have been. You should be, every six months, taking a look at where you are and make sure you don't have a 100 percent stocks as you get closer to retirement.

You know, I was talking with my husband about the 529 plans -- the college savings plans, right? A couple of weeks ago, Goldman Sachs had a warning that a correction was overdue -- a correction is 10 percent. Well, guess what, we hit it here.

But corrections can also refresh the cycle, right? Stocks can't just go straight up. This gives people an opportunity to get in and buy -- And for some perspective here, it was a terrible day yesterday but now

you're back to the levels we saw from late last year. It's not so bad, right? Late last year. Stocks have been going up for 10 years.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm definitely not logging in to look at my 401(k).


HILL: But there are concerns, too, for people who are traveling.


HILL: We've seen all kinds of plans canceled -- conferences. If you have plans to travel, whether for business --


HILL: -- or pleasure, what do you do?

ROMANS: So, it depends.

And companies are really taking the lead on here, limiting international travel. They're limiting non-essential domestic travel. And companies are urging people to work from home if you've been to a country with an outbreak.

Nestle, for example, who is the world's largest food company. It has stopped international travel for its employees until mid-March. That's a big deal.

Facebook is canceling F8. That's its biggest event that's supposed to take place in San Jose, California. That's in early May.

Now, South by Southwest is still on for Austin next month.

But if you're canceling travel, you've really got to check the fees because there have -- they haven't caught up yet --

HILL: Yes.

ROMANS: -- to sort of the feeling among consumers.

Now, jetBlue is waiving cancelation fees until March 11th. Alaska Air is suspending cancelation fees for new flight bookings. But all airlines aren't there yet.

And there's no question that business travel has been disrupted. Marriott has seen a drop in demand for hotels in China. That's its top international market.

And, buyer beware -- this is such an important consumer story here -- a huge demand for these face masks. Now, Amazon is cracking down on price gouging. Reuters is reporting that Amazon has removed tens of thousands of deals accusing these sellers of charging customers unfair prices. So, this -- I always see this happen when there's a crisis. You know, rushing out to get some kind of a -- you know, a pharmaceutical or some kind of a face mask or some kind of a hand gel. Just buyer beware on all of this stuff.

BERMAN: Yes. And look, I know the markets aren't the economy but when you see supply chains disrupted, when you see people canceling travel plans, and consumers behaving differently -- because consumer confidence and consumer spending have been a real driver for our economy -- that can start to affect things. And I know that's why the markets are reacting because they're concerned that might happen.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

BERMAN: All right, Romans, thanks very much.

So, the prospect of direct conflict between Turkey and Russia becoming real this morning after dozens of Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike in the Syrian province of Idlib. Turkey has retaliated overnight but the deadly back-and-forth is unfolding ahead of a deadline set by Turkey for Syrian regime forces to withdraw an alliance agreed with Russia.

Meantime, millions of innocent civilians are caught in the crosshairs. We do want to warn you some of the video you're about to see is disturbing, but it's real and it's important to see.


CNN's Arwa Damon live with the details on this. Arwa, a lot going on.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there really is. And yes, this report is hard to watch like just about every single report coming out of Syria is. But lost in the politics and the military speak is often the plight of the civilian population and their plight stopped being part of the calculus a long time ago.


DAMON (voice-over): Moments earlier, the children were playing in this schoolyard. It was around 4:00 p.m. when the strike came in. But they weren't there because classes had just let out but, rather, because that school, like many others, had been converted into a shelter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Speaking foreign language): Why are you crying?

CHILD: Mama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's your mama?

CHILD (Speaking foreign language): Over there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Speaking foreign language): There is nothing wrong with mama. Mama will be OK.

DAMON (voice-over): The man walks around the corner and speaks to a woman who says she has shrapnel in her foot.

Not all survived that strike or the nine others that hit schools in Idlib Province that same day, many that had been housing those fleeing the violence elsewhere.

A Haba media (ph) activist walks through the school, the classrooms converted into living spaces. We think we are safe but then the warplanes and take everything from us, she says.

Russia has rejected calls for a ceasefire stating that would be a capitulation to terrorists. And yet, the Russian and Syrian regime bombardment of Idlib has hardly been confined to the front lines or the armed groups but, rather, systemically targeting the civilian population, forcing even more people to flee. And now, intensifying attacks on Idlib City, itself.

On the edge of a small cluster of tents not far from Turkey's closed border, one extended family moved underground into a manmade cave originally dug out to shelter cows and goats. They do not have enough money to buy a tent. There are around 45 of them living here like this after spending days shoveling out feces and filth.

When the kids sleep, we women take turns looking over them to make sure there are no snakes or scorpions, Ibrahim (ph) says. They're scared -- it's miserable -- but where else to go?

Half the children are sick. They are barely able to get medicine. There's no heat inside the cave. Food is cooked outdoors where the children warm themselves.

All they yearn for is their home. Days without fear, a concept that seems so foreign -- a distant dream for the millions trapped in Idlib in a war that from the onset had no rules, no real front lines, and where safety is little more than a shattered illusion.


DAMON: And as you can see, these civilians --

BERMAN: An important job bringing us the stories of -- I'm sorry.

DAMON: -- despite the efforts --

BERMAN: Go ahead.

DAMON: Sorry, John.

As you can see in that report, no matter what it is that the civilians do they can't seem to find that safety. And despite everything -- all of these constantly moving dynamics that we're seeing happening inside Syria between the Turks and the Russians and the regime -- none of that is changing the situation for the civilians.

BERMAN: And it's so important to bring us the plight of these people and Arwa, I think you're doing a terrific job telling their stories. And I know there's got to be new concern there with what's happening

at the highest levels between Turkey and Russia. Just explain to me what's at stake here and what the fears are.

DAMON: Look, the real negotiations when it comes to what's happening in Syria are the negotiations that happen between the Russians and the Turks. When that relationship deteriorates, the situation inside significantly deteriorates, which is what we have been seeing over the last few months.

And it really escalated overnight with the killing of those 33 soldiers with each side blaming the other. The Russians saying the Turks shouldn't have been there. The Turks saying that they notified the Russians of where they were.

Now, there were meetings -- a phone call that took place between Putin and Erdogan today. The details of it scant -- we know brushstrokes. But according to the Turks, they did agree to have a face-to-face.

On the flip side of that, we also heard that the Russians were moving two more warships into the region, and the Turks are also vowing revenge.

So, you really have this situation where the civilian population is increasingly being caught between these military maneuvers and political games or military games and political maneuvers. No matter which way you look at it, as we have been saying repeatedly, their fate -- the fate of these civilians is not part of the calculus. But truth be told, when it comes to Syria, it never really was.


HILL: Arwa, thank you. It is so important, as John said, and so important that we stay on it because the civilians do really tell the story of the impact there.

Vice President Mike Pence, meantime, tasked, as you know, with heading up the government's response to coronavirus. His history of dealing with health crises, though, is raising a lot of questions. A reality check is next.


BERMAN: Vice President Mike Pence is one of the three people we have been told is in charge of the coronavirus situation in the last few days. What exactly does his record on public health tell us?


John Avlon here with a reality check -- John.


So, hope for the best, prepare for the worst. That's a motto for first responders. And preparing for a pandemic requires coordination, elevating science over superstition. And success depends a lot on the credibility of the person communicating.

Which is why some eyebrows raised when President Trump, posting a Pepto-Bismol-colored tie, tapped his veep Mike Pence to lead America's response to the coronavirus. Now, Mike Pence's big problem is that he doesn't have a stellar record when it comes to public health crises and at times, he's barely been on speaking terms with science.

For example, his reaction to an HIV outbreak in Indiana was described as a textbook case for how not to do it by an epidemiologist from Yale.

And here's how he got that failing grade. So, when Mike Pence was in Congress he voted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Two years later, the only public clinic that did HIV testing in Scott County, Indiana closed its doors. There was soon an HIV outbreak there made worse by addicts shooting drugs and sharing needles.

So, the CDC recommended distributing clean needles as a way to stem the tide. As governor, Pence disagreed and as the problem escalated he said he'd pray on it.

Now, there were 81 confirmed HIV cases by the time Pence finally relented and allowed a 30-day needle exchange. Ultimately, 215 people in Scott County were infected with HIV, the worst outbreak in the state's history. Yale researchers found that that number could have been cut by about 75 percent if the state acted sooner.

But, Pence's record on listening to scientific experts hasn't gotten much better.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Do you think it's a threat? Manmade climate emergency is a threat?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the answer to that is going to be based upon the science.

TAPPER: Well, the science says yes.

PENCE: Well --

TAPPER: I'm asking you what you think.

PENCE: -- there many in the science that --

TAPPER: The science community and your own administration at NOAA --

PENCE: Yes, I got it.

TAPPER: -- at the DNI, they all say it's a threat --

PENCE: I got it. Look, what the president has said --

TAPPER: -- but you won't, for some reason.


AVLON: So that wrestling match between science and partisan talking points doesn't bode well for Pence's new responsibility. But neither does his support for institutions that help people change their sexual behavior -- code for gay conversion therapy, a practice that has caused at least nine former practitioners to apologize. Pence's spokesman has said he denied his support.

Or that time he told Wolf Blitzer that condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually-transmitted disease. Or this column in which he stated despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn't kill.

This is a time to trust science and doctors, and that means dropping the muzzle imposed on people like Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH.

Look, let's be clear, Pence is supposed to be Trump's pandemic P.R. man ensuring that administration experts don't contradict the president's often fact-free assertions. But here's a big idea. Pence should venture on the -- on to the safe spaces of Sean Hannity's show and Fox News. I know, what a concept.

The vice president might also want to try not wiping his nose with his hand going forward because experts warn that's one way to spread the disease.

This administration has a self-inflicted credibility gap when it comes to basic science, but dealing with coronavirus will depend on doing much more than just playing to the base.

And that's your reality check.

BERMAN: It's a record. He's got a record there. And by all accounts, you know, no one knew he was going to oversee this until the hours before the president announced it, so it makes you wonder whether or not it was very well thought out before it happened.

AVLON: Including, apparently, the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

BERMAN: All right, John. Thank you.

AVLON: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: So, he is the highest-ranking African-American in Congress and he has thrown his support behind Joe Biden for president. South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn joins us live to talk about the South Carolina primary. That's next.




REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I want the public to know that I'm voting for Joe Biden. South Carolinians should be voting for Joe Biden. I know Joe, we know Joe, but most importantly, Joe knows us.


BERMAN: The Biden campaign is hoping that key endorsement from the number-three Democrat in the House will give them a boost with South Carolina voters tomorrow and then going forward to Super Tuesday.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. Congressman, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

You told our friend Wolf Blitzer that Joe Biden needs to win by more than a point or two in South Carolina. You said he needs a big win to propel him into Super Tuesday. How big?

CLYBURN: Well, thank you very much for having me.

I don't know if I can tell you how big, but it needs to be substantial.

BERMAN: Double-digits?

CLYBURN: Speaking by -- I'm sorry?

BERMAN: Double-digits?

CLYBURN: Well, I would like to see double-digits and not just 10 or 11. I would like to see 15 or 16. That's what I want to see. I have no idea but I feel good about our chances of getting there.

BERMAN: Why does he need that level -- and you feel good about him getting there. Why does he need the big win to propel him in the further states?

CLYBURN: Well, that's exactly why he needs it. He needs it to propel him.

We're trying to create a surge here. There are going to be 14 states voting next Tuesday and we would like to see him go into those 14 states with a big vote out of South Carolina. It would signal to the people down in Texas that Joe Biden is, in fact, surging. I want to see a surge here.

I'm not trying to stop anybody; I'm trying to create a surge on behalf of Joe Biden.

BERMAN: What doubts do you think they have, maybe, in places like Texas, about the viability of the Biden campaign?


CLYBURN: Well, I think he's running well in Texas. In fact, the last time I checked he was dead even in Texas with Bernie Sanders. But when you factor in or take out the Bloomberg vote, he goes ahead by a substantial margin beyond -- outside the margin of error. And so, I think that if he gets a real good vote here that is what will give him the surge he needs to do better in Texas.

BERMAN: Part of your day job -- or I should say your Washington-based job is as the whip in the House of Representatives -- the number-three member of the Democratic caucus you talk to members each and every day inside your party. What concerns are you hearing from the Democratic caucus in the House about having potentially, Bernie Sanders, the Democratic socialist, at the top of the ticket?

CLYBURN: Well, I talk to members on both sides of our political equation -- some people who are very progressive, some people who are relatively moderate.

I was in Texas about three weeks with Eddie Bernice Johnson doing a banquet (ph) for her. I talked to the faith community down there and they were very, very concerned about whether or not you'll do something or have somebody on the ticket that will cause down-ballot carnage. That's our biggest problem.

And my members, we want to see somebody on the ticket that will allow us to expand our numbers; not having to run some kind of a rearguard campaign in order to keep from being tarnished with a label. So, our candidates are really concerned about that.

We -- I've been in the Congress 28 years. It may not surprise you to know that 21 of those years were in the minority and that ain't a good place to be.

And most of these members know full well that if we want to have the kinds of programs that are necessary to make the greatness of this country accessible and affordable for all of its citizens, we need somebody at the top of our ticket who can bring people into the fold, reach out across the aisle, and create the kind of momentum that we need in this country to move this democracy forward.

BERMAN: You say you need someone at the top of the ticket that can bring into the fold.

Our Van Jones was just with us moments ago and he did note Joe Biden's having a hard time raising money. He's not bringing in tens and tens and multiples of millions of dollars each week the way that some of the other campaigns are. He doesn't have the crowds that some of the other candidates do.

So why would Joe Biden be the type of person in this equation, in your mind, that could expand the voting base?

CLYBURN: Well, I tell people all the time the history ought to instruct us. In fact, George Santayana once said if we fail to learn the lessons of history, we are bound to repeat them.

My first Democratic convention was 1972. I remember the crowds that George McGovern brought in. I remember all of the excitement. In fact, so much so that southern delegates walked out of the convention and refused -- you know, South Carolina was challenged by my good friends out there in California trying to keep us off the floor. They won the nomination. George McGovern left there at 3:00 in the

morning -- everybody yelling about what a great victory this was. He carried one state -- one state.

So what we've got to be careful of is coming out of a convention with everybody on the same page; not with a couple of people yelling loud about how excited they are about a victory on the floor and then lose the country. I've seen this happen since.

What we've got to do, I think, is to have a candidate that all of us can rally around and can -- we can say it to the funders, here's a guy who can win. That's why I want to see a substantial victory here.

I want to see that because I hope it will send a signal to the guys who can write the big checks that please, take another look at this guy. He has a solid record. He is exactly what the country needs. He is honest, he is trustworthy. When he gives you his word you can believe it.

BERMAN: Congressman Jim Clyburn, we appreciate you being with us today. Good luck in the South Carolina primary tomorrow. I know, for you, it's like your Super Bowl down there so we appreciate you taking the time to be with us this morning.

CLYBURN: Well, thanks so much for having me.

BERMAN: And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, concerns now that the coronavirus situation is turning into a pandemic and it's having an impact on the markets around the world. NEW DAY continues right now.

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