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Amy Klobuchar To End Campaign, Endorse Biden Tonight; Coronavirus Cases In U.S. Jump By Two Dozen. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 2, 2020 - 14:00   ET

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


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: That is it for me. "NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

[14:00:11]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right, we will take it from here. Hi, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin, you're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me. Here's the breaking news in the 2020 race.

With less than 24 hours to go until the biggest contest in the Democratic Party. Another candidate is calling it quits. CNN has learned that Senator Amy Klobuchar will end her campaign and endorse Joe Biden tonight.

Klobuchar's departure coming just a day after that of Pete Buttigieg who suspended his campaign just yesterday. So let's go straight to Denver to CNN's Kyung Lah, and Kyung, Senator Klobuchar's home state of Minnesota is one of the 14 states participating in Super Tuesday tomorrow, so why drop out now?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a little hard to know exactly what happened from where I am standing. What I can tell you is in conversations that we're having with senior staffers, mainly on background, everything this morning appear to still move forward to Super Tuesday.

About an hour ago -- I'm in Denver, you can see that the signs are up -- everything appeared to be moving forward to this rally that it was scheduled to start at one o'clock local three o'clock Eastern and then there was a sudden shift.

Our embed Jasmine Wright, told me that the schedule was off on the flights, that the embeds were not going to be flying with the senator on time.

So things were starting to shift at that stage, and then a lot of activity happened. From what we could see here in Denver, then the call started to take place. They were starting to get notified, the staff here on the ground, and then we were able to confirm that Amy Klobuchar indeed is planning on suspending her campaign this evening.

She will fly to Dallas instead of coming here and then heading to Oklahoma and moving forward to the other Super Tuesday states. She will head to Dallas where she will endorse Vice President Joe Biden, the former Vice President.

All of this is coming on the heels of Pete Buttigieg stepping out. What you're seeing here, Brooke, what is happening right now is the consolidation of the moderates and what we have heard the senator talk about over and over again, is that she is concerned about Senator Bernie Sanders leading the ticket, and that she did not want that to happen.

So certainly we're seeing a spectacular move by the senator making that statement by simply calling it quits on her campaign -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: With Buttigieg, now Klobuchar creating even more space in that moderate lane for Joe Biden, Kyung, as soon as you get any more color, let us know. You've had great reporting, as has Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff is our CNN Senior Washington Correspondent. He is with us now. Also joining us Elaine Kamarck. She's a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a member of the Democratic National Committee and the author of "Primary Politics: Everything You Need to Know about How America Nominates its Presidential Candidates."

And so just out of the gate to both of you, ladies first, Elaine to you, and then Jeff, you know the moderate wing of this party seems to be moving at a pretty quick pace, right, to all unite around Joe Biden, just your reaction to this news on Klobuchar?

ELAINE KAMARCK, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, it's expected after Joe Biden's huge win in South Carolina. I think that had Biden not done as well, he might have won but won by a smaller margin, if he had not done as well, I think some of these candidates would have stayed in to see what happens tomorrow.

But frankly, once he had that solid vote, and the all-important African-American vote, which he really locked up, I think it was inevitable that other people were going to get out of the race.

BALDWIN: Jeff, I was listening to you saying that it was Biden sources telling you that they actually had preferred that she had stayed in the race. Why is that?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was initially the thinking on Saturday evening before, as Elaine was saying, the margin became so clear and that really sort of settled into people.

But on Saturday evening, the thinking was, and really even throughout some of yesterday, that having Amy Klobuchar on the ballot, you know, not, you know, urging her to get off was a good thing for the Biden campaign because of Bernie Sanders's strength in Minnesota.

He won Minnesota in 2016 over Hillary Clinton. He won like 62 percent of the vote. It was a caucus then, it's a primary this year, so it would be different.

But she is extraordinarily popular in Minnesota. She's won every campaign that she has had by double digits, usually over 20 points. So she was viewed as a strength there and her campaign says, look, she

still would have done okay there. But the reality here is that when you cast your vote for President, you want to vote for someone who can be President, who is on a path to be President. It's not a just a vote for her.

So I think that what she wanted to do today was be the first out of the gate to appear with Joe Biden. She beats Pete Buttigieg unless he happens to arrive in Texas tonight as well, she beats him to that punch in terms of unifying Democrats.

[14:05:00]

ZELENY: And you know, she has much more currency in her endorsement today than it does after Super Tuesday. And I think it's indicative of how she ran her campaign.

She was not expected to be one of the finalists here at the end. She was not expected to raise as much money, and in some respects her late success made it difficult for her to be so competitive once this became a nationwide contest here, but she improved as a candidate and she enhanced her standing as a Democrat and a leader of this party throughout her campaign, I believe.

BALDWIN: Now, I was listening to you and Dana earlier saying you know, when she first got in, it was almost some Democrats found it laughable. And boy oh boy, Amy Klobuchar, did she prove them wrong.

Elaine to you, Joe Biden, you know, his allies definitely making a push to get this down to a two-person race between the former Vice President and frontrunner, Senator Bernie Sanders, but you say there is this primary rule that that 15 percent rule, which makes it pretty tough to winnow the field down, can you just explain to everyone you know what the 15 percent rule is -- and I hear you laugh -- I know, I have a feeling you're going to be able to explain it better than I can.

But how does it impact Super Tuesday?

KAMARCK: Well, the 15 percent rule gets applied at the congressional district level and at the state level. All of the candidates who drop below 15 percent, their votes are then discarded, and you recalculate on the basis of 100 percent, the delegates who didn't fall below and/or the votes that didn't fall below and then you apportion those to the congressional districts.

And so what tends to happen is that -- two things. First of all, not all districts are created equal. Minnesota for instance, which we were talking about. Minneapolis, that congressional district, they have 10 delegates. The neighboring district, which is a more Republican district only has four delegates.

So not all districts are created equal, so winning in some places is more important than winning in other places.

Secondly, if there are two candidates rising above 15 percent, then it becomes really a neck and neck race because the Democratic rules favor the second place winner. They don't favor the loser, they favor the second place winner.

Republican rules, in contrast, favor winners at the congressional district level. So there's often a confusion about that. But the 15 percent is a very big help in winnowing the field.

If you come out of Super Tuesday with 20 delegates or 30 delegates, you're not going to win the nomination.

BALDWIN: So if we take the 15 percent rule, and we apply it to California, because it's not just about who wins, but also how much they win by.

KAMARCK: That's right.

BALDWIN: If you look at polls, it shows the Bernie Sanders is in the lead there. So what kind of finish does Joe Biden need to try to blunt his impact? Is 15 percent enough? Or does it need to be much more?

KAMARCK: It doesn't need to be much more, but it needs to be more. Okay. If he is under 15 percent and everyone else is under 15 percent, then California will become what we haven't seen in a long time, it'll become a winner take all primary and Bernie Sanders will get an overwhelming majority of the delegates.

If however, Joe Biden, let's say, gets above 15 percent and he is getting 20 some percent and Elizabeth Warren is getting some others, that will then hold down Bernie Sanders' delegate lead out of California, the biggest state in the union.

BALDWIN: Okay. Go ahead, Jeff.

ZELENY: And we should talk about Elizabeth Warren just really quickly because Elizabeth Warren is -- she has a lot of strength in California, and really has had the boots on the ground there. So she also essentially is taking delegates away.

If this is a two-person race, which it seems to be, Michael Bloomberg, of course, is a faction, but if he does not hit 15 percent, you know, then it's lights out for him. But I am keeping my eye on Elizabeth Warren.

BALDWIN: Right. Do you think Warren will feel the pressure? Do you think she'll feel the pressure?

ZELENY: I think in a different way. I think that she is in this race a little bit longer. She has more of an organization. My question for her is, can she afford to keep the lights on? She was nearly out of money by the end of February here. It's unclear.

How she does tomorrow, obviously indicative not necessarily in her home state of Massachusetts, but how she does in California.

But just a spoiler alert, we may not know all of the California results for quite some time. They're historically very slow in counting particularly in delegates. So that could help Joe Biden potentially, you know, by not knowing all of these delegate numbers tomorrow, so do not expect to have a result tomorrow evening or even Wednesday in California about the delegates.

BALDWIN: I mean, we want you to stay up really late and keep watching CNN, as of course, we will be covering it, but I hear you loud clear, Jeff Zeleny. Thank you. Jeff, thank you. Elaine Kamarck, thank you so much for all of that.

Much more on the breaking news in the 2020 race ahead.

And all the latest details on the rapidly spreading coronavirus cases in the United States jumping by two dozen, including a new case in America's biggest city.

And the race to expand testing for the virus after the first batch of kits had a defect.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:14:25]

BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States Jones by two dozen over the weekend, and the first two U.S. deaths from this outbreak have been confirmed. Both of those cases are in Washington State where officials believe some of those infections are community spread.

Community spread means that they had no first or second hand exposure to China. Public health officials warn this is probably just the beginning.

[14:20:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I'm concerned that you're going to see a lot more cases. I mean, certainly when you have a number of cases that you have identified, and they've been in the community for a while, you're going to wind up seeing a lot more cases than you would have predicted.

So my concern is, as the next week or two or three go by, we're going to see a lot more community related cases and that's of great concern.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: And America's most populated city sees its first coronavirus, a woman in her late 30s tested positive at a New York City hospital after traveling to Iran. She is currently self-quarantined at home, though the Governor says

that she is not, "in serious condition." On the Federal level, President Trump is announcing new airport screening procedures for folks arriving in the U.S. In the next hour, he will call on pharmaceutical companies to expedite a vaccine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've asked them to accelerate whatever they're doing in terms of a vaccine. Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let me get you back to Washington State because we're learning more about this group or this cluster of infections there which went undetected for weeks.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is live in Kirkland, Washington. She is at the nursing facility where that second American had lived. Stephanie, what are you learning?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, this is the concern. This is the big concern here in Washington State right now, Brooke and this is the building behind me where you can see it looks very nondescript from the outside, but right now we know that there are quarantining people inside there.

We know that there have been at least six people who have either been diagnosed with coronavirus or right now are saying they're presumptive positive cases.

So of those, one of them is a healthcare worker, the other five residents. And then we also know out of that six that one of those was a man in his 70s who lost his life. We understand that he also had some other underlying health concerns.

And now the other man that died, he was in his 50s, also had other underlying health concerns, but he was not a resident here. This is a big concern, though, because that's so many people in such a small area. They're concerned about how it got there.

They're monitoring people. The county is saying that there's some 50 people or so that they are monitoring either staff or residents for showing symptoms, and they keep watching them if any of the people who work here have any symptoms, they're turning them away. They want them to just go home and isolate themselves there.

It's still though, concerning because you've had so many first responders. You know, medics in the area, seven or so of them have been quarantined right now because they came in contact with someone who was here at this facility.

So obviously, this is exactly what we were just hearing about. They are expecting these numbers to go up. They are expecting to see that we're going to see more people having the virus here and just like a quick trip to the pharmacy, just to give you an idea, Brooke, we went in there and every sort of sanitizer, hand sanitizer, Lysol, Clorox -- you name it, it's all sold out here, and so it's pretty much like the rest of the country, but obviously they're feeling it here simply because this is in their backyard -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Sure. It's so immediate. Stephanie, thank you so much for the update.

Let's get bigger picture. Dr. Colleen Kraft. She's the Director of Emory University's Clinical Virology Research Laboratory. And so, Dr. Kraft, thank you so much for being with me. Let me just piggyback off of what Stephanie was just talking about there in Washington State, this so-called hidden cluster of cases there.

A, how is it possible that it went undetected for as long as it did -- apparently weeks? And B, what is the likelihood is she mentioned, medical personnel that, you know, this cluster starts to expand?

DR. COLLEEN KRAFT, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, EMORY UNIVERSITY'S DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Yes. So I think that, you know, we're trying to understand all of the story behind the cluster, I'm sure that there is a reason that maybe a link was not detected.

And I think that in terms of how it affects other healthcare workers, I think in general, going back to our how we prevent transmission in the healthcare setting and in the community setting, which is good hand hygiene and good face hygiene.

BALDWIN: Got it. I know, we keep hearing, washing your hands, the hand sanitizer, as you mentioned, you know, it doesn't even exist at the local pharmacy there in Washington State.

And so here in New York City, as we just reported, we've now, you know, are covering this first case of coronavirus in New York. It's this woman who had apparently traveled to Iran. She is a healthcare worker. She's in self-quarantine at home.

The New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says that she's at home, but that she was not contagious when she was on the flight from Iran. So for all the New Yorkers who have been sort of waiting for that first case, and now we know it exists, how concerned should they really be?

KRAFT: Well, I think it is one case and what you've already said is it is largest populated city in the United States, and so I think that we need to continue to remember that it is respiratory season, influenza season, and all of the things that we should be doing to protect ourselves against influenza and other respiratory viruses still apply here.

So again, you know, watching your environment. Is your environment dirty? Not bringing your hand which has touched your environment to your face, your nose, your mouth, and also using cough etiquette, and if you are sick, staying home so that you don't transmit anything that you have to anybody else.

[14:20:07] BALDWIN: So, I understand this issue of people going out and buying

hand sanitizer and those disinfectant wipes, but can we please talk about these surgical masks because we heard from the Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, right, so he had tweeted out, "Seriously people," in all capital letters, "STOP BUYING MASKS. They are not effective in preventing general public from catching coronavirus. But if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk."

So answer this for everyone watching, why the masks are not effective.

KRAFT: So a couple of things. Masks are really for sick people to wear to prevent the spread of what they have to others, and if you think about wearing something that may not be effective for yourself, if you wear for instance, a surgical mask all day long and it gets damp and then it's also uncomfortable, you're going to be touching your face even more than you usually would.

And so the reason that they're not effective is it sort of gives you a false sense of security that if I'm wearing this mask, I have this magic bullet and I'm going to just be okay.

But really what you need to be doing is, again, we kind of go to the basics with hand hygiene and face hygiene. We all touch our face, like 15 to 20 times an hour or more.

And you know, I look around rooms when I'm speaking, seeing people touching their face very frequently. It's respiratory season. People often have a cough.

And so all of these things need to be considered as part of your regimen to protect yourself. Just wearing a mask because you think it keeps you safe is not going to be -- is not going to work.

BALDWIN: I want to get to this case in Oregon, but quickly, we had played the sound where President Trump has asked these pharmaceutical companies to speed up this vaccine, right. We've heard from Dr. Fauci at the N.I.H. saying it'll take about a year, a year and a half. Can you speed up a vaccine?

KRAFT: I think it's a great question. We want to make sure there's equipoise in these studies. We never want to falsely attribute the efficacy of the vaccine to the study.

So I think it's a really good question. Let's make sure that we're doing it right and by the standards that we've already set, that we have a lot of confidence in, rather than speeding it up so that we just sort of have something.

Again, we're still waiting to see what the denominator of this outbreak is. And so if it turns out that this is really more similar to a common cold, or even, you know, at most severe, as bad as influenza, then we want to make sure that we're not you know, delivering something to the public, that that unnecessary.

BALDWIN: All right. Dr. Colleen Kraft. We will leave it. Thank you so much.

KRAFT: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Appreciate all your expertise on all of this.

Let me get everyone back to our breaking news in the 2020 race. Senator Amy Klobuchar calls it quits and endorses Joe Biden ahead of tomorrow's huge Super Tuesday contest. That is what she is expected to do officially this evening.

All of this comes as Mayor Pete Buttigieg mulls a possible endorsement for the former Vice President, too. Details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:27:38]

BALDWIN: Back to the breaking news on the political front here. Senator Amy Klobuchar dropping out of the race for President. We are told she will endorse the former Vice President Joe Biden this evening, all in an effort to consolidate the moderate Democratic votes.

And speaking of, here you have two competing events at this hour -- Joe Biden in Texas and Bernie Sanders is in Utah.

So let's take you out to the campaign trail to get reaction from the candidates who are certainly still standing firm. CNN's National Correspondent, Athena Jones is with Senator Sanders and his team in Salt Lake City. And CNN correspondent, Jessica Dean is at that Joe Biden campaign event in Houston.

So Jessica, let me just start with you. What are you hearing from the Vice President about Klobuchar dropping out? What's the behind the scenes of how this came to be?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, you know, we're still getting bits and pieces about all of that. But what we do know is that the campaign I asked a campaign aid about Klobuchar dropping out, about Harry Reid endorsing and I said, what's the takeaway from this? And their answer was that Joementum -- as they're calling it -- is real.

They say that the money that's been coming in, the endorsements that are coming in are game changers and that that's going to make a difference. Now, will it? We're going to have to wait and see what voters think. That's just what they're thinking inside the Biden campaign right now.

We're here in Houston. Texas, of course, incredibly delegate rich tomorrow. The Biden campaign needs to do very well here, and also in California, all across those states, but especially here in California, where there are so many delegates up for grabs, Brooke.

But certainly big news for the Biden campaign in terms of their efforts to consolidate that moderate lane within the Democratic primary.

BALDWIN: Yes. Giving more space to Joe Biden in the moderate lane and Athena over to you. I mean, I'm wondering what the Senator Sanders campaign is thinking because you have Klobuchar jumping out endorsing the former Vice President and also TBD on Pete Buttigieg. We know he got that call from Joe Biden last night. We know he would love that endorsement.

What say Senator Sanders and his team?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, the senator just tweeted -- well, he has been on stage for several minutes, so someone in his campaign tweeted, "I want to congratulate Amy Klobuchar for running a strong issues oriented campaign. I hope her supporters will join us in our fight to defeat Donald Trump in November and win real change."

It very much echoes what we heard him say in response to Pete Buttigieg dropping out last night, inviting his supporters to join this revolution that he is trying to begin with all of his energetic and enthusiastic supporters.

[14:30:09]