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Interview With Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA); Six Deaths, 18 Cases Of Coronavirus In Washington State; Pence Says, Travelers To U.S From Italy And South Korea To Face Multiple Screenings; Sources: Klobuchar & Buttigieg To Endorse Biden Tonight. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 2, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00]

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: And I really want people to reflect that.

In going to -- you're allowed -- there's no travel restrictions in the United States.

The CDC and the State Department and the task force have worked hard to recognize those areas where there's significant community transmission, where we give advice that we would recommend you not travel there.

And you know that China is that. We now have South Korea as a level three. We have Italy, Japan, and Iran as level three travel advisories, which we would ask you to reconsider those travel plans.

But in the United States, there's no travel restrictions. I want to echo again what everyone said. The risk to the American public at this point is low. We are going to increase substantially surveillance, similar to what we do for flu.

We have multiple different surveillance systems. With Dr. Hahn and FDA getting more and more tests out, those surveillance systems are going to be activated in the near future. And we will have eyes on whether there is any significant new evidence of community pockets around this nation.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With regard to with regard to international travel, we just -- we will continue to monitor the cases.

We will follow the facts, the experts, and the science, and determine whether additional travel advisories or restrictions are warranted. That being said, folks, we're going to slip out.

We will be back -- let me tell you, we will be back here...

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: We will be back here every day. Get used to seeing us. We're going to bring the experts in. We are going to make sure to give you the best and most high-quality, real-time information from the best people in the world.

So, thank you all for being here.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, so there you have a half-hour briefing from the vice president and top aides, experts in the U.S. government on the coronavirus.

We're watching all of this very, very closely. The stakes clearly are enormous right now.

Quickly want to get some reaction from our experts who are here.

Dr. Zeke Emanuel, the risks, they repeatedly said, not just the vice president, but all the experts, including Dr. Fauci and others, the risks remain low.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER: Well, I think you have to separate two risks, the risk of getting the virus and the risk of dying.

Clearly, the risk of dying is low, but it's not nonexistent, and it's higher if you're old, have comorbidities even if you're not old. The risk of getting it, we simply don't know. At the moment, we have 100 cases, but we haven't tested widely. It's worth noting that you get about one in 10 people in the country get the flu even with a pretty effective vaccine.

So I don't know how we're so sure it's going to remain low. At the moment, we don't have a lot of cases, but that is, you know -- as Tony Fauci said, that's flexible and probably going to go away.

I would say, however, that on the travel thing, I'm planning to travel next week to Norway. I'm planning to go to Denver in -- I have a speech there in -- I think March 17. And, you know, I'm going to be prudent. You should remember, being on a plane, you know, the air is circulating on the plane. That's not what the risk is.

The risks are droplets from people who cough or put droplets in the air. It's not just the recirculation -- it's not the recirculation of air, and people need to be quite clear about that. So the risk of, you know, I'm going on a plane, and -- no, that's not just the plane.

It's, you know, someone sitting next to you who's coughing on you where you have to be careful.

BLITZER: What did you think, Dr. Phillips, what you heard from the vice president and all these other experts, the top U.S. experts in the U.S. government, from the CDC, NIH, the Department of Health and Human Services?

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: There's a lot to think through from that press conference.

I think what gives me -- what makes me pleased is to see that the majority of the time were physicians and scientists standing at the microphone. The question is, how honest are we being? And are we getting the message that we really need to be getting?

I think that a lot of it -- there's a lot of attention being paid to this word pandemic. This is a pandemic. I think that there's some political reasons why we're not quite going there yet. The one sort of real practice reason why we're not there yet is, when we go from calling this a widespread epidemic or an outbreak to calling it a pandemic means that we start to shift our strategy on how to take care of this.

We have to go from a containment strategy, where we're trying to keep people who are having the virus from traveling and start switching to a strategy where we're trying to harden our health care infrastructure, boost it and give it as much staff, stuff, and space as it can have to take care of the problem that's out there. The problem is out there.

[18:05:00]

I think it is irrelevant for us to continue to try to contain things and to talk about more travel restrictions, because those are just going to continue to go into broader and broader areas, until finally we are going to reach some threshold where we decide we're going to call it a pandemic and stop trying to screen for different countries.

Right now, we're at roughly five countries. Next week, it could be 10. The following week, it might be the United States. Right? Universities and companies are talking about business travel and whether or not to pull their students back home from study abroad.

Well, at some point, we might be doing them harm by bringing them back to a country that has more cases than the country they're in. So all of that stuff is in flux. And until we really start getting testing and really doing good epidemiology to know how many cases exist here in the States, we're kind of behind the eight ball.

BLITZER: I want to go to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent. He was there in the Briefing Room.

Unfortunately, Sanjay, you didn't get a chance to ask a question, which I'm sure you were ready to ask. What was your reaction to what we just heard?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it was pretty much what we expected.

There was some news about the testing and just how robust that testing is going to become, Dr. Hahn saying -- Commissioner Hahn saying it could go up to the ability to test for a million people within the next couple of weeks.

You know, Dr. Fauci was adamant that the risk is still low, while still acknowledging that we really don't know just how widespread this is because of the lack of testing thus far.

You know, it was interesting. They talked a fair amount about these traveler screenings. And one thing that's worth pointing out, Wolf, we reported on this, is that, as of February 23, to give you some context here, there were some 46,000 passengers that were screened. Eleven were found to have some sort of risk and were sent to hospitals, but only one was subsequently found to be positive for the coronavirus infection.

So these screenings, I understand that there's a lot of discussion about them. But in terms of actually finding these patients, because of the incubation period, for different reasons, they're not very effective necessarily at finding -- at actually identifying these patients.

BLITZER: We did hear, you know, Sanjay, from Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services.

GUPTA: Yes.

BLITZER: At one point, he said the immediate risk is low. But he said -- also said the degree of risk has the potential to change quickly. I think that's an accurate statement.

GUPTA: Yes, I think so. And I think Dr. Emanuel made a good point, Zeke made a good point, that the risk is what exactly? The risk of being exposed to this virus? They have to concede that's pretty high.

I mean, there's evidence of community spread in many places around the country, but the risk of death obviously going to be a lot lower. But it's interesting, because -- I think because they know how widespread this already is, how they contextualize what the risk really means.

We know, for example, we were, again, some reporting on this, at the nine-week mark for H1N1, H1N1 was still lower than where coronavirus is now in terms of overall cases. But by three, four months into things, and by the end of the year, there were 60 million cases of H1N1 in the United States alone.

So, you know, I think whether or not they're conceding that the numbers are going to get that high with coronavirus, I don't know. But they were very adamant, Dr. Fauci was very adamant that the risk still remains low.

BLITZER: You know, Gloria, what was encouraging was that the vice president deferred a lot of the questions to the scientists, the physicians, the experts. He said, we're going to follow the facts and listen to the experts.

And, also, that there's going to be a daily briefing...

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Very important.

BLITZER: ... he said, to tell the American public what's going on. I think both of those steps were encouraging.

BORGER: I think it's very important. They're all standing up there clearly trying to get the message across to the American public that the scientists are talking to each other, which is very important, that the agencies are talking to each other, and that the vice president is effectively the chief spokesman, but they're the ones who are telling him what is going on, and that they're going to continue to brief the country.

So, I think that is a huge step forward. We didn't hear a lot about this notion of a vaccine. The president clearly pushed on that today with his meeting with pharma. And they didn't talk about that much, because everybody knows that that can't happen as quickly as anybody would want it, but, most particularly, it seems to me they had to educate the president about how that couldn't be done overnight.

And the fact that there are more test kits and that perhaps they won't be defective, as they have been in the past, I think is very good. We don't have numbers on that. The question I have is, do the hospitals believe that they have enough?

Do the hospitals believe that they can protect their health care workers, as you were talking about? Are there enough gowns, are there enough masks for the health care workers who are on the front lines of this? And so the sort of representative I think that might have been missing was the people from the hospitals and the communities who are there doing the work right now.

[18:10:09]

And I don't know who that spokesman would be. Maybe you guys could tell me. But that is what I wanted to hear about. Also, because when you feel sick or your kids feel sick, you go to your hospital. You go to your doctor.

Does my local doctor have what he or she needs? Does my local hospital have what the hospital needs? So those are questions I still think we need to get to, because people want to know the answers to that.

EMANUEL: Wolf, there was one other thing that did bother me about the press conference.

And that was about the idea of getting therapeutics rapidly out there. We don't have a proven therapeutic for this.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: I just wanted you to explain, because they did say that it could be as long as a year before a real vaccine is available after it goes through all the testing and is deemed to be safe to be used.

But by this summer, early fall, they suspect that the therapeutics will be available. Tell our viewers what that means.

EMANUEL: Well, a therapeutic -- so, a vaccine is to prevent you from getting the coronavirus. A therapeutic is to treat the coronavirus.

And what I can't figure out is how they think by September they're going to have any therapeutics. We do have antiretrovirals that are used in HIV and hepatitis that we're going to try out, but they still need to go through a trial to show that they're effective against coronavirus, and that, you know, you need a number of people, and you need reliable data, and you typically need two trials of that to show it.

GUPTA: And those trials are going on. There's patients in Nebraska where they're currently testing out remdesivir. And also in China, those studies are being done.

BLITZER: I want all of you to stand by, because we're going to continue our analysis of what's going on.

Thanks for your perspective.

Just ahead, also, a U.S. congressman from California joins us to talk about the response in his hard-hit state.

Also, as we look at the map of cases across the country, we're going to get a live report from Kirkland, Washington, where so much of the story right now is unfolding.

And, later, with Super Tuesday now just a night away, we're going to talk about the major shakeup in the Democratic presidential field and the apparently big bump it could be delivering, potentially, at least, to Joe Biden.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:16:45]

BLITZER: All right.

We just heard from the White House Coronavirus Task Force on a day that saw the number of cases hit 100 here in the United States, and the fatalities rise to six, all of them in Washington state.

And along with Washington, California also is especially hard-hit, though not, fortunately, by any fatalities, at least not yet. Let's hope it stays like that.

Joining us now, a member of the state's delegation, Democratic Congressman John Garamendi.

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

You heard what the vice president said. You heard what the other experts said there. Do you have confidence in what they're doing?

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): Let's just say I'm a whole lot more confident today than I was yesterday and the days before. But they're talking about the entire nation.

I'm talking about my district. I'm talking about Travis Air Force Base, where we know we have problems, talking about Solano County, where we know we had one community infection. So that's just a different situation.

Obviously, Kirkland, Washington, where you have six deaths. Broadly, fine, it's a low risk. How about the risk in my district?

BLITZER: Well, tell us about what's going on in your district.

GARAMENDI: Well, we're finally getting tests under way, and this is one of the very serious failures, in my view, is, they didn't have testing early on, and they had a very, very tight criteria for who would get tests.

Fortunately, the state government now is in full operation and tests are available. There was a laboratory 12 miles away that they would not allow to be used for this purpose. That changed last Friday. Testing is absolutely essential in this process.

Hopefully, we will be able to understand the extent of the infection, and it's not just Solano County. It's Santa Clara County. We're talking San Jose. We're talking high-tech, as well as in Southern California.

BLITZER: So, what is life like now in your district? Travis Air Force Base, that's where some of the evacuees from the cruise ship the Princess Cruise were brought in.

What has happened to all those -- first of all, all those people brought to Travis?

GARAMENDI: Many of them are still on base.

The first wave was from Wuhan, China. Most of those have moved on. We do have the evacuees from the Princess Cruise ship. They're staying there. They were going to be transferred to Southern California. There was a lawsuit, couldn't transfer them because they weren't prepared.

So they're staying on the base. There is a public health emergency on the base, as well as in Solano County surrounding the base. Efforts are being made to understand the extent of the infection in the community. That's what takes us back to testing.

For me, those are my -- where my offices are. And I told my staff, we're going to avoid public meetings. We don't need to do that. And we're going to be very, very careful, so that my staff doesn't get infected. And like every office, if you have a cold, don't come to the office.

BLITZER: I know you and your colleagues in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, for that matter, are working on funding now.

GARAMENDI: Right. Right.

BLITZER: Trying to get enough money to deal with this coronavirus crisis. Where does that stand right now?

GARAMENDI: Well, we do have the proposal from the president, $2.5 billion, of which $1 billion actually came from the Ebola program, so maybe a billion-and-a-half of new money.

That going to be totally insufficient. We're going to have to really staff up to make sure we have the public health officials tracking down, doing the testing. All of that is expensive, and certainly the hospital care is going to be extraordinary.

[18:20:07]

BLITZER: How much do you think you need?

GARAMENDI: I suspect we may get up towards $10 billion by the time this is done.

We're going to do it this week. Numbers are being crunched. I told my counties and the counties in California, as well as the state government, where I talked to the governor's chief of staff, get the numbers together, get them back here. Think big, think about what you might need. Don't have to spend the money in the first day, but it has to be available immediately.

BLITZER: And some of that money would go to state and local officials.

GARAMENDI: Oh, absolutely.

BLITZER: They're on the front lines right now.

GARAMENDI: They're on the front lines, also the hospitals.

There is going to be an enormous expense here as we deal with this. So, yes, state, local governments, hospitals, all of that has to be done.

BLITZER: Congressman Garamendi, thanks so much for joining us. Good luck.

GARAMENDI: Thank you.

BLITZER: Good luck to everyone in your district. Good luck to everyone around the country and indeed around the world.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: This is now dozens and dozens of countries around the world.

GARAMENDI: It's a big one, exactly.

BLITZER: We're going to have a live report coming up from Kirkland, Washington, where, like California, state and local officials are now scrambling to contain the virus, with the number of cases nationwide growing and growing.

Much more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:25:52]

BLITZER: A warning tonight over add the White House.

The Health Secretary, Alex Azar, saying that although the risk to individuals right now is low, it has the potential to change quickly for the worse.

We should underscore the fact at least as far as officials are telling us, we are not yet at that point. So for more now on the scope of the outbreak, at least right at this moment, here's CNN's Stephanie Elam.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. surging to now at least 100 people.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's always dangerous to make predictions, definitive predictions, but I'm concerned that you're going to see a lot more cases.

ELAM: The first case in New York, a 39-year-old woman who travelled to Iran.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): She wasn't symptomatic on the plane and she didn't take public transportation.

ELAM: There are two confirmed cases in Florida. And, in Rhode Island, a man and woman a teenage girl were both diagnosed with the virus. They had recently traveled to Europe together. In Oregon, two cases.

Washington state may be dealing with the highest person-to-person transmission rate in the country right now, where six people have now died. Some had underlying health conditions, including several residents at the Life Care Center of Kirkland.

ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Right now, there's a large investigation going on in the nursing home, the hospital, contact tracing to try to determine where that disease was introduced and how it might have spread.

KIM FREY, DAUGHTER: It's really hard for me is the -- her feeling alone.

ELAM: Kim Frey's mother has been at Life Care Center for a few weeks now. Frey made this sign with messages for her 89-year-old mom.

FREY: Just we love you. We can't come in, but Jesus can. So, you're not alone. Figure out what room she's in, and hold up my sign up at the window and just say hi.

ELAM: Public health officials warn, the number of coronavirus victims will likely continue to increase this week because testing across the country is ramping up.

But, as those numbers rise, they still don't compare to the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control, between 12,000 and 61,000 people in the U.S. have died from the flu every year since 2010.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ELAM: And just to pinpoint how big this outbreak here is at this one facility, of the six deaths that we know about, five of them are related back right here to this facility in Kirkland, Washington -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, very disturbing, indeed. Stephanie Elam, thanks very much for being on the scene for us.

Joining us now, Kurt Triplett, the city manager of Kirkland, Washington.

Thanks so much for joining us, Mr. Triplett.

KURT TRIPLETT, CITY MANAGER, KIRKLAND, WASHINGTON: Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: What can you tell us, first of all, about the first responders who are both in isolation and quarantined right now? I understand it's about, what, a quarter of the fire department, that some of them are experiencing already some flu-like symptoms?

TRIPLETT: That's correct.

Let me first say, I want to express our condolences to the families and loved ones of those who passed away from the Life Care Center. Kirkland is -- our thoughts and prayers are with them.

But they're also with our first responders in Kirkland. We have two police officers and 27 firefighters that are currently in quarantine. Each of those has been put in quarantine as a precautionary measure from the King County Department of Public Health, because each of them responded to an incident at the Life Care Center in the past two weeks.

So they're all going through a 14-day quarantine period.

BLITZER: At the Life Care Center, what's the latest at that location? What precautions are now being taken when residents are being transported?

TRIPLETT: So the current first responder precautions are that we're using full protective equipment.

So, when a firefighter or a police officer goes in, they're going in with gowns, with eye wear, with gloves, and with masks. So that is something different that we have implemented in the last couple days. The previous responses didn't have the full protective gear. And so that's why the recommendation for quarantine.

What we're being told by the CDC and public health is, with the full protective gear, the chance of transmission to a first responder going into the center is zero. So, each time they're going in, they're using that protective equipment now.

BLITZER: Let's hope they use that protective equipment.

TRIPLETT: Yes.

[18:30:01]

BLITZER: I know you held some training this morning for city employees. What exactly were they --

TRIPLETT: We did.

BLITZER: -- were they trained on?

TRIPLETT: Well, not surprisingly, everybody's concern is will this virus spread and what does that mean? And so we care first and foremost about the safety of our community and the safety of our employees.

And so we have been following the direction of public health and the CDC, and right now, the CDC and public health are not recommending that we close facilities.

So part of what we did this morning was explain to folks why that was, and that the coronavirus, as we understand it today for most people, is still has a mild impact. But, obviously, for folks that are older or that have underlying health conditions, it can be deadly. And we're seeing that here in Kirkland.

But what we mostly talk to our folks about was, right now, we're going to stay open, we're going to follow the direction of public health as to whether or not we stay open. They gave the same recommendation to our school systems, early questions.

School districts are also open today. And we're just recommending everybody take the precautions that you're hearing about from the CDC and the public health, which is basically things that prevent flu transmission are the same things that prevent coronavirus transmission.

BLITZER: Yes, that's good advice. Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency for Washington State on Saturday. As a city manager, do you have the resources right now that you need to help the people of Kirkland get through this?

TRIPLETT: Right now, we do. We're going to take that week-by-week. So we also proclaim an emergency here in the City of Kirkland, and King County Executive Dow Constantine just proclaimed emergency for King County. So all of the local regional state governments have done so and that does allow us to get access to resources.

So at least for this first week, we're okay. We're really taking this day-by-day and week-by-week, but we're pretty confident the resources will be there when we need them.

BLITZER: Well, good luck to you. Good luck to everyone in Kirkland. Kurt Triplett, thanks so much for joining us.

TRIPLETT: Thank you very much. BLITZER: All right. Up next, we're going to bring in two medical specialists. So one on infectious diseases, the other in responding to public health emergencies just like this one. Much more of our coverage here in The Situation Room right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:35:00]

BLITZER: As part of his White House briefing that you just saw live here on CNN, the vice president, Mike Pence, said that anyone traveling to the United States on a flight from Italy right now, from South Korea, from some other countries will now receive multiple screenings before arriving here in the United States. He and the task force also laid out other measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak. The question, though, what works and what doesn't?

Joining us now, Lauren Sauer, Director of Operations at the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response. She's an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine. Also with us, Dr. William Schaffner, professor in the division of the infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. To both of you, thanks for joining us.

Dr. Schaffner, when we hear the vice president talking about travel restrictions, the president suggesting already there will be more travel restrictions, how much would that help containment here in the United States?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, Wolf, I think it will add some to the containment because it will reduce the chance that more virus will be introduced. But, of course, the virus is here already. And the enhanced testing that will be going on in the next week or two will help us to find exactly the nature and extent of the problem that's here already.

BLITZER: Dr. Schaffner, how do you balance reassuring the public and making sure the public does not get into some sort of panic mode while at the same time explaining all the consequences of what's going on?

SCHAFFNER: Well, I think we have to calmly give them the information, and your program is one way of doing that, just getting the information out and letting them hear it in a deliberate fashion so that they can get an understanding that we have a strong response while we're defining the nature of the problem, and that they will get good information from their local health department should that be necessary.

BLITZER: What's your message, Lauren, for all the Americans who are out there right now? They're watching us. They're worried. They're nervous. They understand the consequences potentially of what's going on. What's your message to them right now?

LAUREN SAUER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, JOHNS HOPKINS MEDICINE: It's very reasonable to feel worried or feel concerned about the news that you're hearing and the messaging that you're receiving. And I think my message to the American public would be, this is not the time to panic. It's not the time to make rash decisions.

It's the time to listen to healthcare providers, listen to your public healthcare messaging. Pay attention to the news, pay attention to sources that you know to be factual and honest. Don't overreact when it comes to buying everything off the shelves. But have a personal preparedness plan, including your friends and loved ones who may be more vulnerable to this disease.

BLITZER: Give our viewers some specific advice on what they can do in a practical way to prevent this virus from spreading.

SAUER: Sure. So if they're not feeling well, they can stay home. They cannot go to emergency departments just to get tested because they're worried. You want to stay away from places where people are already ill so that you don't then make yourself ill just by going to the emergency department. You can have a few extra days of things like medications and supplies and basic, you know, daily needs.

[18:40:02]

And that will help you from having to go out and be in large gatherings, stores, things like that.

BLITZER: For example, should people avoid major public areas right now, Disney World, for example?

SAUER: Yes. I think that you can -- if you don't need to go to these places, it's a good time to choose not to. That doesn't mean you have to cancel your vacation. That doesn't mean you have to not travel or not go to events you have planned, but pay attention to the news, and make decisions about where you're going and what you're doing based on very up-to-date information.

BLITZER: You know, Dr. Schaffner, the World Health Organization said today the virus could still be contained around the world, and I'm quoting now, the window of opportunity is narrowing. How do you see it unfolding in the days and weeks to come?

SCHAFFNER: Well, Wolf, I think this virus is a horse is out of the barn and it is spreading around the world today. It may not be fully spread yet but it's galloping along because we hear about new countries being affected all the time. Nonetheless, I think I agree, we don't have to panic. Let's watch what's going on locally. Let's test patients and define where we are. And then let's cooperate with the local public health response should that virus appear in our own communities.

BLITZER: Well, are you confident it can be contained here in the United States?

SCHAFFNER: I think we can cope with it. I think we can contain it partially. But we're going to see more introductions of this virus and more definitions of it, and more spread in the future.

BLITZER: William Schaffner and Lauren Sauer, guys, thanks very much for your expertise.

So we have more breaking news still ahead. A sudden and dramatic realignment of the Democratic presidential race, both Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, they now are endorsing Joe Biden. And stay tuned for a series of Democratic presidential candidate interviews later tonight with the four remaining major contenders. It all begins tonight here on CNN, 8:00 P.M. Eastern.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:46:53]

BLITZER: Once again, an important programming note for our viewers. Stay tuned tonight for a series of Democratic presidential candidate interviews with the four, four remaining major contenders. That all begins later tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

And yes, four is now the number. Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the race today. Both she and Pete Buttigieg, who ended his campaign yesterday, are now endorsing Joe Biden and plan to be with him at a rally in Texas later this evening.

More now from CNN's Ryan Nobles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With only a few hours until Super Tuesday, another shake-up in the Democratic primary race.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Remember that what unites us is bigger than what divides us.

NOBLES: Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar will end her 2020 campaign and endorse former Vice President Joe Biden tonight at a rally in Dallas, Texas.

She's not alone. Pete Buttigieg will also throw his support behind Biden at tonight's Dallas rally. The former South Bend mayor dropped out of the race Sunday night.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our goal has always been to help unify Americans to defeat Donald Trump and to win the era for our values. And so, we must recognize that at this point in the race, the best way to keep faith with those goals and ideals is to step aside and help bring our party and our country together.

NOBLES: As the moderate lane in the primary shrinks, Sanders said he's ready for the challenge.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The political establishment is coming together, and they will do everything. They are really getting nervous.

NOBLES: The Vermont senator is hoping for a strong showing tomorrow night to build an insurmountable delegate advantage.

SANDERS: We are going to defeat the most dangerous president in modern American history.

NOBLES: With 14 states and more than 1,300 delegates up for grabs, the 2020 contenders fanned out across the country today. Biden in Texas. Sanders stopping in Utah and Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren in California, and Mike Bloomberg in Virginia.

The former mayor remains a wild card, having spent more than half a billion dollars of his own money on the race.

BLOOMBERG: If they say why vote for Bloomberg? Two reasons -- one, he can do the job, and two, he can beat Trump.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: And we're live in Minnesota tonight, of course, Amy Klobuchar's home state. And part of her calculation in getting out of the presidential race was so that Democrats could unify against Bernie Sanders in this Democratic primary. And there may be a long-term advantage to Joe Biden in that respect. But there is certainly a short-term advantage for Bernie Sanders. The Sanders team now believes that with Klobuchar out, he's got a very good chance of winning her home state of Minnesota.

Wolf, one of the reasons he's going to be here tonight in about an hour and a half -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We'll watch that closely as well.

Ryan Nobles on the scene for us, thanks very much.

Let's get some perspective right now.

Joining us, former White House Communications Director under President Obama, Jen Psaki, and Democratic Strategist, Aisha Moodie-Mills. Both are CNN political commentators.

So, how big is this for Biden, the endorsements, the official endorsements from Klobuchar and Buttigieg?

[18:50:03]

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Wolf, I don't think endorsements always matter, but timing is everything. And this is -- there could not be a better time for Joe Biden for these endorsements to come out. It's not just obviously Buttigieg and Klobuchar. Those are two of the biggest ones, we'll be standing with him on stage, but there are a lot of other elected officials, mayors, and others across the country have come out.

This gives people license to feel like Joe Biden is a winner, and they didn't necessarily feel that a couple of days ago before South Carolina.

BLITZER: Certainly will help them, let's see how much.

What do you think the best strategy that Bernie Sanders might have in trying to deal with this new development?

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Bernie Sanders should keep doing what Bernie Sanders is doing. I mean, I think there's an enthusiasm on the ground that can't be duplicated, but I also don't think dissipates because Joe Biden, all of a sudden, gets some addition endorsements and look strong coming out of South Carolina.

We also have to remember that there have been some folks who have already been voting in California and other places. And so, how that early vote factors in to Bernie's positioning, to Elizabeth Warren's positioning, that doesn't change either. So, it seems to me that at this point, Biden needs this momentum. We'll see how it shapes up tomorrow.

BLITZER: There's a lot of early voting in several of these 14 states which will have contests tomorrow. The stakes clearly for all the presidential candidates are enormous right now. This could be make-or- break for several of those, for at least Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, if he doesn't do well in these 14 states, what's going to happen?

PSAKI: Absolutely, Wolf. I mean, you know, he spent half a billion dollars or whatever the accurate number is at this point but this is the first state he's -- the first set of states he's actually competing in, because he hasn't been on the ballot in the first couple of states. Now, Joe Biden having the performance he had on Saturday night kind of throws water on his argument for running.

So, he really has to have a good night tomorrow night in order to justify continuing. I think the question here is does he take away some of the moderate vote from Biden, we don't know yet, maybe. Or is he not viable? Does he not meet the 15 percent threshold in some of these states and some of these districts he needs to take?

BLITZER: Is it make or break for Michael Bloomberg tomorrow?

MOODIE-MILLS: Absolutely. But let's not forget about Elizabeth Warren, who just had a huge fundraising math in February. She's got enough money, the largest quarter she's ever had to keep on competing.

So, tomorrow, she may not come out with the number one amount of delegates but I think she keeps going and we can't discount her in this conversation.

BLITZER: Well, what if she comes in, let's say, third or fourth in several of these 14 states does she keep fighting?

PSAKI: I think she's indicated she will. And her campaign has been pretty aggressive about briefing reporters and briefing the public, that she's in it for a while. And now they have the resources to do that and to compete for a longer period of time. I think she needs to do better than third or fourth in a couple states to really justify it, though. So, we'll see if people still tolerate.

BLITZER: If she were to drop out, could we assume many of her supporters would go to Bernie Sanders?

MOODIE-MILLS: I think we would assume that because of the progressive bend, it's just turning into certainly the moderates coalescing around the moderates, and so, the question becomes, what happens to that progressive voice? It would makes sense that that progressive voice gets stronger.

BLITZER: Polls show that Bernie Sanders is doing well in the biggest prize tomorrow, California.

PSAKI: That's right. And, look, you know, talking to the Biden team, you know, they feel this is the best couple days of their campaign. I think that's probably true. But they still feel like the underdog and I think they are the underdog. I mean, Bernie Sanders has more money, he has better organizing. To this date, he has more enthusiasm.

So, you know, he's going into tomorrow night still with an advantage and we'll see what the outcome is.

BLITZER: South Carolina for Joe Biden was enormous, right?

MOODIE-MILLS: It was absolutely huge, and this is why, because now that we're looking at Super Tuesday, these states are going to be much more diverse than we saw in the first contest. And so, Joe Biden coming out, reminding us that African-Americans are supporting him, that's going to play really big in the south going to tomorrow and to North Carolina, going into Virginia, those look really good for Joe Biden.

Bernie Sanders is doing well with Latino voters, so that's huge as well. But it matters who the Democratic base is and getting to the soul and the heart of the party.

BLITZER: There's a significant African-American population in Arkansas and Alabama and Tennessee --

MOODIE-MILLS: Those southern states.

BLITZER: -- all part of those 14 states.

MOODIE-MILLS: Right, and you're seeing him pick up some endorsements. So, Terry McAuliffe in Virginia comes out and endorsing him. So, I think all of those things matter.

But here's what we need to remember: coming out of tomorrow, there still isn't going to be a definitive Democratic top frontrunner. I believe that we're still going to go through March, we probably get through April. We could end up at convention and not one person still have the majority of the delegates needed to get the nomination.

BLITZER: The fact that Buttigieg dropped out over the weekend, Amy Klobuchar today, the timing of that, do you think it was coordinated right now? They clearly saw the handwriting on the wall, but the fact they came out and tonight they're going to be at this rally with Joe Biden?

PSAKI: You know, I think there's no question Joe Biden sought their support. But at the end of the day, these are two candidates who had delegates, they had done pretty well in the early states and they also know that they didn't have a path to win the nomination.

[18:55:02]

So good for both of them for dropping out when they did. They knew this would be the moment to be most impactful, and clearly they think that Joe Biden is the better option than Bernie Sanders. Whether or not their supporters follow suit I think remains to be scene.

MOODIE-MILLS: Which begs the question, what is Michael Bloomberg going to be doing in the race if he doesn't place?

BLITZER: Well, let's see how he does. He spent a lot of money, hundreds of millions of dollars --

MOODIE-MILLS: Half a million.

BLITZER: Let's see how he does on Super Tuesday.

Jen Psaki, Aisha Moodie-Mills, guys, thanks very much.

Up next, Wall Street rebounds dramatically from its coronavirus meltdown. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Wall Street had a remarkable rebound today. The Dow Jones Average was up almost 1,300 points. It's biggest one day gain ever. The S&P and the Nasdaq were up. Each gaining more than 4 percent.

Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.