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Israel Votes; Six Coronavirus Deaths in United States; Buttigieg, Klobuchar to Endorse Biden. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 2, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I was talking to a Democratic Party official just a little while ago, who said, things are happening and moving very, very quickly.

[15:00:04]

And they are, warp speed, given what has transpired from and where were just 48 hours ago with this race, right? The fact that Pete Buttigieg last night pulled out of the race -- I was told earlier, as I think Abby was as well, that there had been plans in place for the former mayor to endorse Joe Biden.

And then, all of a sudden, Amy Klobuchar jumps in and says -- or jumps in and says, I'm getting out and says, I'm going to go down to Dallas, and I'm going to go and endorse Joe Biden. So there's a lot of kind of to-ing and fro-ing, especially between these two campaigns and these two candidates, who really went at it big time on the debate stage, you remember, several times.

I'm talking about Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. And that is even more of a reason why--

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Yes.

BASH: -- the imagery that we are almost certainly going to see tonight of Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar or Pete Buttigieg together, a show of force, is going to be an extraordinary moment for Joe Biden and for party leaders, who are desperate and have been desperate for this moment to happen, the sort of coalescing of these candidates, who represent what a lot of people in the party want, who don't want Bernie Sanders.

But don't forget, Bernie Sanders, despite this, is still a very, very big forced and will be almost surely tomorrow night on Super Tuesday.

BALDWIN: I'm curious, Abby, over to you, just piggybacking off of Dana's point about for folks within the party who really wish -- hope that this nominee is Joe Biden and not Bernie Sanders. And, of course, there are all the fears, as we saw them manifest in some of those senators on stage at the last debate, my goodness, what might happen with the House if it is a Bernie Sanders nomination.

What's the feeling within the party on coalescing around maybe more of a moderate candidate? And what kind of pressure might be on other candidates to bow out now?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we shouldn't underestimate the power of the Sanders wing of the party.

It is large, and it is fervent and strong. But I think it is because of that, that you're seeing this sense of urgency on the non-Sanders side to at least mount a credible opposition to Sanders, make this race more of a two-person race.

There's a sense of urgency that we have seen in the last 48 hours that I think is not -- really that has been unmatched by anything that we have seen so far in the campaign. These candidates are coming to the conclusion that remaining in this race jeopardizes the ability of one candidate to go up against another.

They need a two-person race in order to see how this plays out. And I think that certainly was the calculation that the Buttigieg campaign made, and I am sure that is a calculation that the Klobuchar campaign made.

But it is because I think that there is a sense that Bernie Sanders is very strong. He's going into Super Tuesday on very favorable ground, California, Texas, places where he could amass a huge amount of delegates in a very short period of time.

So the clock was ticking. Decisions had to be made. And now we're seeing that those decisions are being made. It is upping the pressure for anybody who's left in the race. Elizabeth Warren, even though she's not classically believed to be sort of in a centrist mode at all--

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: But she says she's going all the way.

PHILLIP: Yes, and just her presence in the race changes the dynamic.

It changes whether or not Joe Biden is able to at least keep the Sanders lead down. It will change that dynamic, and especially since, also, Michael Bloomberg, he's in the race too, and he doesn't seem to be going anywhere either.

BALDWIN: Right.

BASH: That's the other point that I wanted to make, is that Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar had two strikes against them in their calculation of going forward.

Number one is, they're both young and they want to keep at it when it comes to a career, whether it's running for president again, or some other high place in the party or in government.

And, number two, the hard cold facts of the money that they have or have run out of and their lack of delegates. When it comes to Michael Bloomberg, there is no running out of money. And we don't know where he is on the delegates, because he hasn't been on the ballot. He won't be until tomorrow.

So he is very much the X-factor here tomorrow night. It already was, but even more so now, when the people who haven't voted -- another thing that we haven't talked about. Some people have already cast their votes and a lot of these states for tomorrow because of early voting, but those who haven't voted are now going to have fewer people to choose from who -- particularly if you're trying to decide between people who are not Bernie Sanders.

BALDWIN: How do you think -- Abby and then Dana -- how do you think Bernie Sanders reacts to this, the dual endorsement both from Klobuchar and now Buttigieg?

[15:05:01]

PHILLIP: Well, it seems that, at least at his rally, he hasn't said a whole lot about it.

I think he's going to soldier on. There are few candidates more focused on the campaign trail than Bernie Sanders. But I will say this. His supporters are paying attention to this. They are paying attention to the way in which it seems that the so-called establishment is coalescing around a Joe Biden candidacy.

And I would not be surprised if that meant that Bernie Sanders sees even bigger of a sort of groundswell of grassroots support after this moment. They actually react very strongly to things like this.

Whenever Bernie Sanders is under fire, his supporters come behind with, frankly, cold hard cash. He raised more money in the last month than he ever has in this campaign in a single month. And that's because he's been under fire as never before.

And so that's the reaction that I would expect.

BALDWIN: Do you agree, Dana?

BASH: I totally agree.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Capitalize on this?

BASH: Absolutely, that the -- and I don't even think he's going to have to try, because it is the nature, organic nature, of the people who support Bernie Sanders.

I mean, they have a very good grassroots system. They have an app, they have online voter network of volunteers that reach out and out and out and out.

But so much of it is natural. And it is built into the kind of candidate, the kind of movement that he has, us against them. We're not going to stand for what they want. We're not going to stand for them trying to keep us down, and we're going to show them at the polls. And just going back to your very first question to me about Jeff

Zeleny's reporting about President Obama calling Joe Biden, saying, I'm not going to endorse, that is exhibit A of why he sees it as a negative to endorse Joe Biden or anybody else, because you will just churn and stoke that anti-establishment idea in the Bernie Sanders campaign.

BALDWIN: That's what we're wondering, is whether reporting suggests that it wouldn't, but would an Obama endorsement backfire somehow?

BASH: I mean, that's question. I mean, it's an unknown. And why not stay out of it and just see?

But it's not as if -- I mean, President Obama is obviously in a league of his own, and then some. But you are seeing Harry Reid, the former Democratic leader who was very much on the sidelines, who is very close with Elizabeth Warren, still in the race, who doesn't have bad things to say about Bernie Sanders, still in the race.

They were in his caucus. He just endorsed Joe Biden. There is a move afoot to crowd around, to get everybody together behind Joe Biden, who is -- who thinks that he is the only chance right now against Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders would be a bad idea.

For those people in those camps, you see that happening real time.

BALDWIN: All right, Dana and Abby, thank you both so much, Abby with the news that a source familiar with the plans tells us that Pete Buttigieg will endorse Joe Biden at the rally this evening.

Ladies, thank you.

Let's go -- speaking of the former vice president, let's go to the Biden event there in Texas.

Jessica Dean is standing by.

And, Jessica, so here we have it, now not only Amy Klobuchar endorsing, but Pete Buttigieg as well. It's good day for Joe Biden.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is this is very good news for the Biden campaign. He's actually on stage right now.

Interestingly, he hasn't really mentioned Amy Klobuchar or Pete Buttigieg. He is sticking to his stump speech. He came out and told this crowd, they said I was -- my campaign was dead. I'm very much alive. I'm back.

So he's sticking to his talking points right now. But as far as the campaign, I did talk with a campaign aide about the Amy Klobuchar endorsement. They wrote back. They said, from their line of thinking, what this means is Joe-mentum -- that's their word -- is real, that combined with the money that they have raised since their big win in South Carolina on Saturday, and all the endorsements that they have been rolling out today, that really something is going on here. Now, Brooke, it remains to be seen. The voters actually have to vote for us to see if that actually is indeed true. But, again, he's in Texas today, a very delegate-rich state. He's trying over at an HBCU at Texas Southern University, really trying to get to as many voters as he can here in Texas before going to California.

But, Brooke, tonight, in Dallas, that's going to be a big moment. Think about the visuals there of Amy, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, two people that didn't always get along on that debate stage, coming together endorsing Joe Biden.

The Biden campaign likes the looks of that in terms of consolidating this moderate lane of the Democratic Party.

BALDWIN: We will -- Jessica, thank you very much in Houston.

DEAN: Yes.

BALDWIN: We will get more reaction to this news, including talking to the high-profile Democrat, their perspective on this dual mega- endorsement for the former vice president.

Also ahead, breaking news on the fast-spreading coronavirus. New deaths reported just this afternoon in Washington state, bringing the death toll from the coronavirus here in the U.S. to six.

This comes amid a new effort to ramp up testing, after an initial batch had a defect.

[15:10:03]

Details ahead.

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BALDWIN: Breaking news, the number of coronavirus cases in the United States, four additional deaths now in Washington state, bringing the U.S. death toll to six.

Let's get straight to our CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.

And, Elizabeth some of those were tied to that assisted living facility. Can you tell -- tell me what more we know.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right?

Let's go through these new cases, Brooke. Three out of the five were tied to that to that assisted living or nursing home facility. And those three were in their 70s and in their 80s. Some of those folks had underlying medical conditions. There was also another death of a woman in her 80s who was in the same area, but not in that facility.

[15:15:05]

Now, there is -- the fifth death would have been the very first one that was announced. That was a man in another in his 50s who had underlying medical conditions.

And then the sixth is someone who was in Snohomish County, so a different county this time, and we don't know many details about that person.

But, certainly, there was an outbreak at this nursing facility. And now we see that there have been three deaths from people at that facility.

BALDWIN: And in Washington state, what, four dozen schools have closed?

COHEN: Right.

So school closings are interesting in the context of this outbreak. Usually, when we think of school closings, we think of for the flu because children are getting sick and children can be very vulnerable to the flu. Children can die of the flu.

This virus, the coronavirus, does not seem to really hit children especially hard. Typically, when a child gets coronavirus -- and we know this from the experience in China -- they might have no symptoms at all or maybe mild symptoms. It does not seem to affect children particularly hard.

But, as any parent knows, children are little disease vectors. They spread diseases quite well. And so the concern is, if you're trying to get rid of spread in a community, a good idea, close the schools, so that children will not spread that virus around.

BALDWIN: And then, lastly, Elizabeth, do you want to just remind people what the surgeon general tweeted out, like the whole point about how -- everybody's running out or going on Amazon paying who knows what for these masks and how they're just not effective?

COHEN: Right.

So here's the -- here's what's important to remember about masks. Most of the ones that are -- that people see available are like those surgical masks, and those really don't do very much at all for coronavirus.

The ones that do seem to work better are called N95 respirators, and those really adhere to your face better. They really create much more of a seal. But you need to be fitted for them. If they're not fitted properly, they're not going to do what they're supposed to do.

So, by ordering them, if you don't put them on properly, it's not going to help you much. Also, you're taking masks away from people who need it. We could be facing a mask shortage. Certainly, the prices on Amazon have been going way up.

And if you buy those, that means possibly that someone who really needs them isn't going to get them, a health care worker, someone who is older and maybe more frail, and really might benefit from those masks. So think twice before you go out and start buying masks.

BALDWIN: Appreciate that.

Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

BALDWIN: What is being done at the federal level?

President Trump is announcing new airport screening procedures for folks arriving in the United States. And this hour, he is meeting with pharmaceutical companies with this specific request:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let's go to our -- CNN's chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

And, Jim, can they accelerate it?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're going to find out.

We're going to hear a readout of this meeting the president is having with these pharmaceutical companies and vaccine experts in just a few short minutes from now. The White House pool is gathering and getting ready to go in there and listen to what the president has to say.

We did hear the president earlier this afternoon. You were just playing a little bit of that sound just a short while ago. And one of the things that the president was telling reporters is that he is going to be pushing these pharmaceutical companies to come up with a vaccine, he said, very quickly, and perhaps even a cure.

Now, that may be wishful thinking, because we know Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is one of the top experts with the government on the case right now, Brooke, is saying, among other experts, that it may be up to a year, perhaps 18 months, before a vaccine is on the market, and something that can be deployed and used to treat people with coronavirus.

And so we're going to find out whether or not the government can actually accelerate this timetable. The other thing we should point out, Vice President Pence, who is now the coronavirus leader, czar, you can call him, he will be having a briefing in the press room at about 5:00 this afternoon.

He was on a teleconference call earlier this afternoon with some of the nation's governors who are grappling with all of this. And so, at this point, the question is whether or not the government can come up with a solution quickly. That may not be the case.

And then this perhaps may be what we're going to be listening for coming up at 5:00 this afternoon. What message does the administration have to the American people, if they don't have any good news on getting a vaccine quickly?

I was talking to a Trump adviser about all of this. And one of the things that they're worried about inside the administration is what this adviser described as unnecessary panic, that, as more cases develop, as schools close, as there are problems at airports and companies restricting travel for their employees and so on, that there's a snowball effect, and that there's a panic element out there that just gets out of control and gets to a point where the administration just can't contain it.

We're not obviously at that point yet, but a lot of this hinges on, as you know, Brooke, what the president says, what the message is coming out of this White House, and whether or not they can get those solutions quickly that they're working on right now, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes.

Well, we will tune in, in less than two hours and see what the vice president says about all of this.

[15:20:02]

Jim Acosta, thank you for now.

ACOSTA: You bet.

BALDWIN: In the world of politics big, big news here.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar will both endorse former Vice President Joe Biden at a rally this evening, providing a potential boost to Joe Biden ahead of tomorrow's critical Super Tuesday contest. We will talk about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:25:15]

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

Polls have just closed in Israel. And if you think the race for the White House is a roller-coaster ride, Israelis voted again today for the third time in barely a year. We are just getting the first exit polls.

They are showing a lead for Trump ally Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party. He is seeking reelection, even though he goes on trial in two weeks on bribery and corruption charges.

Let's go to CNN Oren Liebermann, who is live in Tel Aviv.

And, Oren, early exit polls are already coming in. What are you seeing?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, early exit polls show that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party appears to have a strong showing in this election, the third within 12 months.

They put Netanyahu's lead and the Likud Party's lead over his rival, Benny Gantz's Blue and White Party, at somewhere between three and five seats. And already, based on that, the Likud appears to be claiming victory.

The party put out a statement a short time ago, saying: "Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke this evening with all the party leaders of the national bloc, and they agreed to form a strong national government for Israel soon."

Netanyahu and his allies see that three-to-five-seat lead over rival Benny Gantz's Blue and White Party as a reason to claim victory here, but there's a problem here. Netanyahu's goal from the very beginning was to win 61 seats in Israel's Parliament, the Knesset, 61 seats, a majority of the 120.

All three exit polls also suggest that Netanyahu has fallen short, that he has a 60-seat bloc of the religious right-wing parties, and that his opponent essentially also has a 60-seat bloc, meaning, at least at this point, based on the exit polls, which, of course, can change, Netanyahu does not have what appears to be a straightforward path of putting together a 61-seat coalition, what he needs to truly claim victory and establish himself as the prime minister.

Those are the numbers we will be looking at. Actual results start coming in, in a couple of hours, and then you could hear, hoping those results shift the polls in their direction as -- and hope that they get the 61 seats they need.

It will be a long night of vote-counting. But perhaps you can hear it is already a celebration here with the head-to-head lead between Netanyahu's Likud Party and Gantz's Blue and White Party. For them, that three-to-five-seat lead is enough to begin a celebration here, and we will figure out where it goes from here.

BALDWIN: We will be watching Israel through the evening.

Oren, for now, thank you.

Back to our breaking news in the 2020 race for president. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar will both endorse former Vice President Joe Biden at a rally this evening.

We will talk to former Mayor Mitch Landrieu about the moderate lane, Bernie Sanders' options at this point, and tomorrow's Super Tuesday contest.

We will be right back.

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