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Amy Klobuchar To Suspend Campaign, Endorse Biden; Cases of Coronavirus Jump In The U.S. & Around The World. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 2, 2020 - 1:30   ET

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


[13:30:00]

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: That's going to play into the election politics, I believe.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Joan Biskupic, thank you so much. You always make this so accessible and we appreciate it.

BISKUPIC: Thank you. Thank you.

KEILAR: As cases of coronavirus rise in the U.S., the Surgeon General is warning Americans about not only buying face masks, but using them. Plus, we'll answer your questions, your questions on the outbreak next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:35:13]

KEILAR: We have some breaking news on the campaign trail just hours before Super Tuesday. Senator Amy Klobuchar will end her presidential campaign tonight and endorse Joe Biden. I want to go straight now to Kyung Lah who is on the road with the senator.

Kyung, is this something that was surprising to you that this is happening before Super Tuesday tomorrow?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, all indications that we were getting from senior staff is that she was still moving forward with Super Tuesday, but certainly the events of the last 24 hours have had an impact on those plans. I'm in Denver, Colorado. They're setting up for a Klobuchar rally. This is a rally that will not happen as Senator Amy Klobuchar, according to a senior aide, will be announcing the end of her campaign this evening. She will fly to Dallas where she will join former Vice President Joe Biden and she will endorse him.

What you are seeing there in that move is that the senator, who has had a tough run of it in Nevada and South Carolina, finishing sixth there, seeing Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg, both of whom dropped out, who did better than her in those two states. She is trying to consolidate the moderate vote. This is something that the senator has been talking at length about with reporters on the campaign trail. Her concern are the down-ballot races that should moderates be divided up and not solidify behind one person that all of those moderates will be divided and then Senator Sanders, Bernie Sanders, will then have such a huge delegate lead that no one else will be able to pick up and carry that as a challenge to Senator Sanders.

So, Senator Klobuchar making a earlier than expected move, at least to this reporter, deciding to drop out and endorse Joe Biden. She is picking the person that she wants her people to back as Super Tuesday is approaching.

There was some thought that she would stay in and try to block Minnesota for Bernie Sanders, because he, in 2016, did quite well in Minnesota. But in making this move, the math appears to be that trying to push all of her supporters to Joe Biden, that that's the math that this campaign is going to support.

And one other thing, Brianna, something that the senator spoke about throughout this campaign is that the reason she came in is that she is a Midwesterner. She is someone who is able to reach across the aisle, look at bipartisan solutions. She's talked at length about the hundred bills that she's been able to pass through with Republicans, with moderates, that the people who show up at her campaigns are the ones that Democrats have got to be able to expand their tent and allow in. Those Midwesterners rebuilding the blue wall, that is going to be her legacy and her message as she pushes forward. She is going to encourage all Democrats and moderates to get into that tent and now back Joe Biden. Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Kyung, if you would stand by for us as we're following this breaking news. You there on the road with Senator Amy Klobuchar who is going to suspend her campaign, get out of the race, and endorse the former Vice President Joe Biden.

I want to bring in Dana Bash to discuss this. And this is very interesting when you look at Pete Buttigieg and now Amy Klobuchar sort of ahead of Super Tuesday giving a little more space in that moderate lane to Joe Biden.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, and what is interesting is that going into this decision over the weekend, Jeff Zeleny was told by Biden sources that they actually preferred that Amy Klobuchar stay in --

KEILAR: Really? OK.

BASH: -- the race, which sounds counterintuitive. But, looking at the math, because what is on Super Tuesday? Minnesota, her home state, and the hope was that, and Jeff is going to join us in a second, that she could take votes away from Bernie Sanders there.

What I'm told before coming on with you is that part of the calculus in this decision to drop out and go and endorse Joe Biden today before the votes in Minnesota is that there was concern in her campaign that she could actually lose Minnesota.

KEILAR: Really? BASH: One of the things we have seen and heard from her consistently on the campaign trail, on the debate stage, is that she touts that she's never lost a campaign, and she's never lost a big one.

Now, obviously, this is a big campaign that she's not winning, but it's a total different question --

KEILAR: That would hurt.

BASH: -- when you are looking at your home state of Minnesota and the possibility of not saying, I was victorious there in the Senate run. You know, we don't know if that would be -- if that would happen, the fact that that was a concern and it made her do a reversal, a pretty quick reversal in her plans, is very telling.

KEILAR: So Jeff Zeleny joining us now.

[13:40:01]

Will this work for her to get out of the race and try to give those delegates that she might have received in Minnesota to Joe Biden? Does it work like that?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't work exactly like that. Delegates are not legally bound to those. This is something that will become an issue at the convention. It becomes a contested convention or a situation where the nominees picked on the second ballot. Because early vote is already underway there, so she is going to receive delegates tomorrow almost certainly. But Dana is absolutely right about just the worry of potentially losing election. I was just talking to a Democrat who's close to her campaign said the exact same thing.

They said that, look, I mean, when people cast their vote for president, they're not doing it just because they like a certain person, it's not a charity vote. They want that person, you know, to be president, and she is almost at the end of her road of viability. So, you're not going to throw away a vote for her necessarily. So she believes that her endorsement tonight in Texas for Biden is much more powerful than it would be on Wednesday, perhaps. And that's when, you know, she was almost certain to leave the campaign.

And she leaves this race, you know, certainly with so much to be proud of. I mean, she --

KEILAR: Absolutely.

ZELENY: -- enhanced her reputation. She outlasted Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris. No one would have said that. She was a bit of a joke at the beginning. Some Democrats laughed at her candidacy. She proved that she is a serious debater and a candidate.

So I think she -- and how she is living this is very indicative to what type of a campaign she actually ran.

BASH: That is such an important point. And we saw last night with Pete Buttigieg and now we will see it tonight with Amy Klobuchar. How you get out --

ZELENY: Right.

BASH: -- is almost as important as how you get in and conduct yourself during the race when you are young, when you want a future and you want to be part of the team. And in this case, the team is very, very laser focused on beating Donald Trump.

And the fact that she did outlast almost all of her Senate -- except for one, or a couple, actually, her Senate --

KEILAR: Colleagues.

BASH: -- colleagues, is remarkable. And having watched her in New Hampshire as you did, the other thing that Amy Klobuchar did is she helped make Pete Buttigieg in his rise, in his win in Iowa very short- lived. Because she had that very good debate in New Hampshire, and I spoke to voter after voter who were considering voting for Pete Buttigieg in New Hampshire, and they voted for Amy Klobuchar instead. And that could have helped change the dynamic and the trajectory of this race.

KEILAR: I will say her snowy entrance --

ZELENY: Right.

KEILAR: -- I don't know if you can beat that, right? That was a pretty interesting entrance into the race.

ZELENY: Right.

KEILAR: OK. So we're going to take a quick break. This is a big shakeup here, a huge shakeup in the Democratic race just hours before Super Tuesday. Senator Amy Klobuchar is going to be announcing that she will suspend her campaign and endorse Joe Biden. We'll have more in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:47:08]

KEILAR: We're following breaking news. Senator Amy Klobuchar will end her campaign tonight and she will endorse Joe Biden for president just hours before Super Tuesday. I want to talk a little more about this now with CNN political analyst and national political reporter for "POLITICO," Laura Barron-Lopez, with us. We also have former White House adviser to President Obama on Faith & Race, Josh DuBois.

All right, what is your reaction to this, Laura?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, Klobuchar, like Buttigieg, really didn't see a pathway beyond South Carolina. They performed poorly in two of the most diverse states, Nevada and South Carolina, and really realized that there wasn't going to be a good chance for them to accrue the number of delegates that they needed in order to really just stay viable. They may not, in a number of cases, people were telling me in a state like Texas, Klobuchar probably wouldn't have even hit threshold in a number of the state Senate -- districts or regions, that's how Texas counts it --

KEILAR: Yes.

BARRON-LOPEZ: -- to even hit viability. And so it was a serious decision by both of them, clearly, to rather than drag this out and maybe pull voters away from a moderate like Biden who was dominating right now after South Carolina to say that this is it, and then maybe consolidate behind him.

KEILAR: So, I mean, what does this do to the race when you have Pete Buttigieg getting out and Amy Klobuchar getting out before Super Tuesday?

JOSHUA DUBOIS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA ON FAITH & RACE: I think it's a pretty big deal. We are witnessing in real time the consolidation of moderates behind Vice President Biden. This is going to be a very clear race. We're going to have the, you know, the further left progressives on one side and moderates on another, and they're really rallying the people with the unifying voices are unifying behind one candidate. And so I think it's going to get really clear.

It also means a lot of folks are going to be looking at Mike Bloomberg at this point because the whole argument for his candidacy was that, you know, Vice President Biden is not going to make it, we need another moderate voice, but now he's sort of in there a little bit as a spoiler. And so a lot of folks are going to be looking at him and wondering what he's going to do next, is he going to get in line behind Senator Klobuchar and Mayor Pete as well.

KEILAR: That is a very interesting point. What do you think?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes. I mean, again, back to Texas, because right now, California, it's looking like Sanders may run away with California. That would be a massive delegate win fall. But in a state like Texas, Biden is hoping that he can actually maybe edge out Sanders there or perform as well as he does there. But the big spoiler in that state, in a state like that, is Bloomberg. Biden was ahead of Sanders in polling until Bloomberg got in the race and started to drop a bit because of that.

KEILAR: All right, well, Bloomberg, then, to that point, and the role that he would play potentially as a spoiler, I mean, what kind of pressure does that put on him? How much pressure was Klobuchar under, was Buttigieg under?

BASH: A lot, a lot. I mean, I think for them, it was less of a spoiler. And that was certainly a part of it, and more about who they are, their legacy, their reputation, their ego and their pride. Certainly for Amy Klobuchar, as we look ahead to tomorrow in her home state and how that race would go.

[13:50:01] Bloomberg is a totally different thing because the whole reason he got in so late is because he said Joe Biden can't win. Well, Joe Biden won big time in South Carolina. And so, the question, the big question tomorrow, the very first time we're going to see Bloomberg on the ballot is whether or not Joe Biden will have more trouble winning because of Michael Bloomberg --

KEILAR: That's right.

BASH: -- on the ballot, because he is going to be a person who takes votes potentially away from Biden and helps Bernie Sanders, exactly what he said he was trying to avoid, by getting in and spending half a billion dollars.

KEILAR: It's tricky --

ZELENY: It's a working overtime trying to say, no, no, Michael Bloomberg helps Joe Biden, he doesn't take votes away. But, a lot -- you really have to crunch the math in a pretty complicated way to say that Michael Bloomberg is helping Joe Biden, it just doesn't make mathematical sense.

So, his window, it seems to me is closed to get out before Super Tuesday. We'll see. I mean, anything can happen. This is moving much faster than many of us --

KEILAR: Sure.

ZELENY: -- thought it would have. But now the race is just sort of do the right thing, do not be on the wrong side of what they view as history here. We'll see. But Bloomberg, boy, if he doesn't do well tomorrow, it's hard to imagine him in this race come Wednesday morning.

KEILAR: We're going to have much more on our breaking news ahead, and the impact on the Democratic race. Plus, as cases of coronavirus rise in the U.S., the Surgeon General is warning Americans about not only buying face masks but using them. Plus, we'll answer your questions on the outbreak next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:56:09]

KEILAR: We're back now with more on the growing concern over the coronavirus. In the U.S. alone, there have been two confirmed deaths amid an apparent spike in cases bringing the number to at least 91. This as we're learning that the Food and Drug Administration has just recommended a dramatic shift in policy that will allow for faster testing, which means that the number of confirmed cases will more than likely continue to rise.

Joining me now to discuss is Dr. Michael Mina. He is a professor of epidemiology and a physician at Harvard University and he is also the associate medical director of pathology at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. Mina, thank you so much for talking to us today. And you've actually been advocating for this FDA policy change for a month now. How is this going to affect the situation?

DR. MICHAEL MINA, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, HARVARD: Yes, so the recent policy change, it's going to open up access to clinical laboratories, these advanced laboratories that are associated often times with academic medical centers to be able to start performing much-needed tests for their patients. And so I think in general, it's going to increase the number of tests that we can do for this coronavirus and provide faster care to our patients.

KEILAR: That is very good news. OK, we have some viewer questions for you that I want to get to here. This is viewer question number one, it says, I want to go -- it says, I know that a vast majority of people, even if they are infected, will have minimal to no symptoms. If that's the case, then should everyone get tested as a precaution? What do you say?

MINA: Yes, so this really gets into this difference between testing patients to know if they are currently infected versus screening, which is really important for public health processes and to understand how the virus might be transmitting. So I think these two have to be different, and we wouldn't be able to, for example, able to test every person in the United States overnight.

But after as these new FDA procedures come into effect and we get more and more access to testing and more laboratories able and capable of doing this, I think that we might start seeing increased efforts using some of those tests to screen the population so that we can really monitor just how many people are infected and where this virus is traveling.

KEILAR: OK. And viewer question number two, can pets get the coronavirus?

MINA: Yes, this is an interesting question. So there was a recent report from Hong Kong that there was a dog that did test positive. And so it's really too early to say whether this is going to be something we see frequently or if this is something that's really a one-off situation.

And the implication -- there will be implications if it turns out that dogs can, in fact, transmit this virus, for example, that would have epidemiological implications where we have to consider it when -- as we consider strategies to really prevent the spread of this virus.

KEILAR: And finally, we have about 30 seconds left here. One of our viewers wanted to know, can someone catch the coronavirus by eating food prepared by others?

MINA: So it's not a virus that will necessarily transmit easily in that way. But I would say that things like salad bars, you know, we will have to be very diligent about what we're touching and all of these utensils that maybe many people might be touching. That would be sort of the -- where I see risk of transmission occurring, more so than the food that we're actually eating. This is a respiratory virus that transmits through the lungs.

KEILAR: OK. So focus on the utensils, not the food as much. So anything else to avoid beside salad bars?

MINA: Well, I think in general over the next -- you know, in the near future, we're really going to have to be diligent about just everything we're touching.

KEILAR: Yes.

MINA: People might want to carry around some alcohol with them and be mindful.

KEILAR: All right. Dr. Michael Mina, really appreciate your insight here. That is it for me. "NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.