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Candidates to Endorse Biden At Rally Tonight; Klobuchar Adviser Says the Senator Is Dropping Out and Endorsing Biden for Unity; Protesters Turn Their Backs on Bloomberg at Selma Church; Paris Closes Louvre Museum as France Battles Coronavirus. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 2, 2020 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

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BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Fresh off that big South Carolina win, former Vice President Joe Biden is taking a victory lap through Texas, one of his biggest prizes in tomorrow's Super Tuesday contest. And moments ago, Biden spoke to a crowd in Houston about that victory and his campaign's future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just a few days ago the pundits declared my campaign dead, but then along came South Carolina. South Carolina had something to say about it, and so now tomorrow Texas is going to speak.

I think we are going to do well here in Texas with the help of all of you. And you know when we do, we will be on our way to defeating Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Mitch Landrieu is the former Mayor of New Orleans and a CNN political commentator. Mr. Mayor, always a pleasure, sir. Welcome back.

MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, so last October, you said that Joe Biden was your party's best chance in 2020, and here we go, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg both set to endorse Joe Biden in that rally tonight in Dallas after ending both of their 2020 campaigns, it seems that some of Biden's biggest rivals now agree with you.

LANDRIEU: Well, listen, I have the greatest respect for Senator Klobuchar, know her well, and of course Mayor Pete and I served at the same time as mayors and both of them are going to be great future leaders for the Party. But this is a very tough process for candidates, not everybody can make it to the end. Vice President Biden had a spectacular day in South Carolina and did really, really well with a base, a part of the Democratic Party that forms its base, and so now we've had the unbelievable quick decisions that have changed the race overnight. Tomorrow will be another clarifying moment for the country. We'll see what happens on Super Tuesday. It's the biggest contest. Texas, California are in play, and I believe, Massachusetts, and tomorrow again will show us another iteration of what's going to occur.

But clearly in the last three days it has all benefited Vice President Joe Biden, and of course in that clip you saw him keep the focus where everybody wants it, on President Trump, he didn't mention at least in that clip mention Bernie Sanders.

BALDWIN: You mentioned the geography just looking ahead to tomorrow on Super Tuesday, you've got East coast states voting, West coast, Midwest, the South. So where do you think Joe Biden's biggest strength will come from?

LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, I think that he's going to play well everywhere, but so will Bernie. I think you're going to see the Vice President ring up some really good numbers in the southern part of the country where there are voters of color.

The numbers are really big though in California and Texas. But again because of the way we count votes, it's proportional.

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So my guess is you'll see both Vice President Biden and Bernie Sanders do well tomorrow.

Of course, the big X factor tomorrow is Mayor Bloomberg who has now spent a very large sum of money on a bet that if you advertise in those spaces and don't participate in the first four that you do all right. We're not going to know the answer to that until tomorrow night. And that's going to shed some more light --

BALDWIN: Do you worry that he'll be taking votes away from Joe Biden?

LANDRIEU: I'm very careful to make that decision without looking at the underlying data. I am not sure that Senator Warren and the Mayor staying in the race are not helpful to either one of these particular candidates. I don't think we can know that yet. I think we could guess about it but I don't think that that's going to be a really good guess, so I'd prefer to wait and see what the results are tomorrow night.

BALDWIN: How about you know, just last week, Jim Clyburn, incredibly influential South Carolina Congressman and Biden backer now. Jim Clyburn told CNN that the Vice President's campaign needs an overhaul, and with the huge win now in South Carolina like on his back and these endorsements. We're just seeing Susan Rice, Obama's former National Security Adviser, just endorsed Biden, you know, and with his moderate rivals calling it quits, and do you think we are about to see a Biden 2.0? And what would that even look like?

LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, that's not a surprise that happens in campaigns all the time. You've got lots of resets. And you can see that for every presidential race for every candidate that's run. You'll remember if you can back after the Detroit debate people were really concerned that the Vice President wasn't performing in a high level. Which caused I think Governor Patrick and Mayor Bloomberg to take a second look at it.

I think the Vice President's campaign, based on what he said in the interview after Clyburn gave that interview that he heard that. And of course you have to keep getting better and faster. Now with these candidates getting out of the race and the Vice President looking really good, he's going to raise more money. And of course with more money comes the ability to build bigger and better infrastructure and to make better decisions.

At the end of the day though, this is his campaign to win or to lose. Campaigns come from the top down. He's the one that has to perform well, has to give a message to the country that is uplifting and hopeful that gets people to want to say more yes to him than no. And he's got to manage his campaign in a way that helps yields that result. And I think he's hearing from a lot of friends, that the first couple of months were not as good as they wanted it to be and he has to change.

BALDWIN: Since we're seeing the moderates really coalescing behind Biden, do you think that puts pressure on Elizabeth Warren?

LANDRIEU: Well, again, you know, she's a warrior, and she's been out there for a long time and she's indicated that she's in it you know until the end. So I don't think you can put pressure on anybody. The kind of things that put pressures on

candidates are whether or not they can financially continue, you know, all the way to where they can't continue any more.

I think all of these candidates have been sincere in their desire to unseat President Trump, and they've all been very clear that if they don't win, they'll support somebody that does. But I think that cake has got to bake at its own pace, I don't think you're going to be able to force anybody out of the race before they're ready.

BALDWIN: All right, Mitch Landrieu, always a pleasure. Thank you.

LANDRIEU: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And an important programming note for all of you just ahead of Super Tuesday, CNN has exclusive one on one interviews with the Democratic Presidential candidates you will be able to watch the biggest interviews before the biggest day of primaries live from Washington, D.C., that starts tonight at 8:00 Eastern only here on CNN.

Speaking of Michael Bloomberg, he is facing protesters on the campaign trail. We'll take to the pastor of the church where some of the congregates stood up on Sunday morning and turned their backs on him. We'll be right back.

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BALDWIN: We are getting new details on Senator Amy Klobuchar's decision to drop out of the 2020 race and endorse former Vice President Joe Biden. So let's get to CNN's senior national correspondent, Kyung Lah. And, Kyung, what are you hearing?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is her Denver rally. It was supposed to be this hour, and people were showing up here and being turned away because the decision that happened at least as it was publicly came so suddenly.

Now, we're learning a bit more about how all of this unfolded and what Senator Klobuchar was thinking as she suspended her campaign today. The senior adviser I spoke says that the Senator sees this as a moment of unity, that the Senator took a hard look at the map. It's a map that was not very favorable to her. She could either pursue those delegates in her home state of Minnesota where polls did show that she was poised to do quite well or she could try to unify the party with the negative-looking map the Senator chose to take this route.

The senior adviser points out that what happened here in her thinking was that she didn't want to just bow out. She didn't want to just deliver a concession speech, what she wanted to do is to make sure she endorsed. And that's why she's choosing to fly to Dallas, to land there and to speak with Joe Biden, endorsing him in her first act as she steps out of the presidential race.

The senior adviser also saying that she will be campaigning with Joe Biden. Now as far as all the timing of this as how it unfolded, the adviser was telling me that real conversations, those really hard conversations started in force yesterday between Senator Klobuchar and her campaign manager Justin Buoen.

But that she had these thoughts and the real inkling of these thoughts happened after the Nevada caucuses right before South Carolina. In Nevada she placed sixth. She was beaten by Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg who both departed the race. And then in South Carolina she also came in sixth.

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Again, Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg ranking above her in that state. And so then yesterday morning those hard conversations starting, she made a call to her staff at about 11:00 a.m. local time here in Denver and she, in a ten-minute call, thanked her staff. Said that she understood that they were a scrappy team and that they put their heart into this campaign, and that she was proud that they stuck together and worked so hard to try to make this campaign happen.

Senator Klobuchar now on her way to Dallas where she will stand beside Joe Biden and try to get the moderates to back and rally Joe Biden -- Brooke. BALDWIN: We'll see her tonight in Dallas, Kyung, thank you so much. Meantime, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg 48 hours before his very first primary did not receive the warmest of welcomes from some voters in one Super Tuesday state. Just Sunday morning, the former mayor was addressing the congregation at Selma, Alabama's historic Brown Chapel, African Methodist Episcopal Church when a group of congregants -- you see them here -- stood up and their backs on him.

Mr. Bloomberg was in town to commemorate the 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday the day back in 1965, when Congressman John Lewis was savagely beaten by the police while trying to lead a voting rights march against the Pettus bridge.

And the pastor Leodis Strong is the pastor of the historic Brown Chapel A.M.E Church, he is now here with me now. So Pastor Strong, welcome, sir.

REV. LEODIS STRONG, PASTOR, HISTORIC BROWN CHAPEL A.M.E CHURCH: Thank you so much. Thank you for inviting me.

BALDWIN: Of course. Speaking of invitations, when you first invited Mayor Bloomberg to Sunday services, it's my understanding he turned you down. Why?

STRONG: Well, he expressed to me a query about how coming to Brown Chapel was going to help him to achieve his ultimate mission, which, as he expressed, was to beat Donald Trump. And I was trying to emphasize to him that coming to Brown Chapel, actually I thought, promoted that mission, and helped him to connect to the people who would be important to help him achieve that mission.

BALDWIN: So eventually, it's my understanding some of the folks from Team Bloomberg reached out to the Church, obviously he ended up accepting such an invitation, right?

STRONG: And he did. And I'm glad and I'm happy that he did. I really don't think that the headline is that there were eight people who were not members of Brown Chapel for clarification purposes who turned their backs. I think the headline is that he came and that he did recognize, he did realize and the possibility of change.

On the other hand, Donald Trump has not changed. He's the same Donald Trump he was since 1989 when he -- before the Central Park Five had even had a trial, he condemned them and judged them, consigned them to hell. He still has not changed, still has not apologized, still has not recognized, hadn't hit home to him that he did anything wrong.

I think the other irony is, and I was just listening to some of it. What we were celebrating yesterday was the 55th commemorations of Bloody Sunday, that had by anybody's estimation a tremendous impact on the political scene of America, voting rights, et cetera, et cetera, the subsequent passage of the Voting Rights Act.

And already we are talking about from being in Selma, Alabama, Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, and the irony is look what has happened? Klobuchar has dropped out. Buttigieg has dropped out. And what looks like it's a stop Bernie effort more than anything else, and I know -- I'm not just being facetious, but they came to Selma, Alabama, to Brown Chapel, and I think these are the headlines, and just by way of clarification --

BALDWIN: No and I appreciate you saying that, because I am coming into this interview, Pastor, with an open mind, and I want you to tell me what -- the headline. You can understand, you can understand, sir, the visual, and I hear you they're not members of the Church but to stand up and physically turn their backs on this man, and then I hear you saying you give him credit in his willingness to change and to have that happen, I have to ask though, you're standing there, what were you thinking?

STRONG: I thought the same thing that I thought when Muhammad Ali refused to enter into the draft and risked his championship, and really lost his championship. I felt the same thing I felt when Tommy Smith and John Carlos who had won medals at the 1968 Olympics.

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Because they had convictions in their hearts, they were kicked out of the Olympic Village. I felt the same way when Colin Kaepernick knelt during the anthem because of his convictions. People have convictions --

BALDWIN: They do.

STRONG: -- we don't have to always agree with everyone. I felt the same way that when people tried to convince me to not invite Mayor Bloomberg to come to Brown Chapel yesterday, and I stood for my convictions. You risk something when you stand for your convictions. The person who stood first is a dear friend of mine. He risked our friendship. We're still friends, we've have talked since then, but I felt that -- that's how I felt. I felt the same way I felt when Muhammad Ali --

BALDWIN: I appreciate that.

STRONG: I felt that same way.

BALDWIN: I appreciate that. And just pivoting to the conviction of the voters in Alabama, you know, Alabama votes. You all vote tomorrow. And what we saw, I think back to the special election, you're talking about a ruby red state and you know it really came down to black vote bringing that victory to Doug Jones. That's in the back of my mind as I go into tomorrow, and so I think of the power of the black vote in Alabama and this go around, Pastor, who's the favorite?

STRONG: Well, again, go right back to the right for those black votes to be cast. And all that was about Selma and all of that was about Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church. I think in the present scenario, in terms on the Presidential side, I think Biden would have to be after all of that has happened and transpired yesterday after he has the Mayor of Birmingham just like he had James Clyburn in South Carolina, just like he has Terry Sewell. The black belt is going to be and the black vote, he has to run up substantial numbers there. But don't forget in terms of the Doug Jones' election, Doug Jones

needed every black vote he could get and even with all of the black votes he got, he still needed some white votes, some white folks who were just dissatisfied, disenchanted with what was being offered to them, and they wanted an alternative. There are some good decent white folk who are sick and tired not having better choices of what's being offered to them. And a part of inviting Bloomberg was that there has to be an option, an alternative to the present occupant of the White House.

BALDWIN: I understand, understand. Pastor Strong, thank you so much for coming on and just exploring all that was your Sunday, and we will see what happens in Alabama tomorrow. Appreciate you, thank you.

STRONG: Thank you. Thank you so much.

BALDWIN: Thank you. You're welcome.

New details on the coronavirus outbreak with the number of cases exploding around the world, we'll take a look at some drastic measures being taken to try and stop the spread.

Plus, take a look at the Dow with me. After days and days of tumbling over the coronavirus, the Dow is soaring. Standby.

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BALDWIN: Governments all around the world are taking extensive measures to slow the spread of coronavirus. More than 70 countries have now confirmed cases of the deadly virus. More than 3,000 people have died. And Paris has taken the drastic step of shutting down the famed Louvre Museum. France has more than 100 cases of the virus including two deaths in the Louvre.

This is the most popular museum in the entire world. And a majority of its daily visitors are tourist who come from other parts of the world. It is not clear when the museum will reopen.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Milan where Italy is scrambling just to get this outbreak under control there. Ben?

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BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, the Italian civil protection agency has come out the with latest figures of the coronavirus here, 2,036 cases, 52 dead.

Now what's interesting is that the number of new cases, 342 is less than 200 than the previous number of new cases recorded in the previous 24 hours. Hard to say if this is the beginning of a downward trend. We'll have to see in the coming days and now to Fred Pleitgen for an update on the situation in Iran.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Ben. In Iran, the situation continues to get more difficult. The Iranians now confirming that more than 60 people have died because of the coronavirus and more than 1,500 have been infected including top government officials. In fact, a senior adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has died of the disease, and now the World Health Organization, which is also trying to help out Iran says, one of its workers has also tested positive -- Brooke.

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BALDWIN: All right. Fred, thank you.

And a quick check at the Dow before we go. In the green this afternoon up 1,200 points soaring after last week's free fall. How about that to start your week.

I'm Brooke Baldwin and thanks so much for being with me. Let's go to Washington and "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.