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Moderate Democrats Rally Around Biden Ahead of Super Tuesday; Millions of Voters Head to the Polls for Super Tuesday; Bloomberg Faces First Test in Super Tuesday States; More Than 100 Coronavirus in the U.S., 6 Deaths in Washington State; Deadly Tornado Rips Through Nashville. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 3, 2020 - 09:00>   ET

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


[09:00:27]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. It's a busy one. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow.

We're following three major stories this morning. Millions of voters hit the polls in 14 Super Tuesday states today. Of course we're on that coast to coast.

SCIUTTO: Another story. A scramble in the U.S. and around the world to contain the spreading coronavirus. The second case in New York just confirmed. We're going to have the facts and we're going to stick to the facts coming up.

HARLOW: And in Nashville overnight, miles and miles of destruction after a deadly tornado rips through the state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This is the inside of the tornado right now. If you are within (INAUDIBLE), this is the tornado. It is hitting Channel 5 as we speak right now. The tornado on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Wow. Rarely get a scene like that right in the middle of it. Right now there's eight people confirmed dead there. Multiple people critically injured. The storm ripped the siding off of homes, it slammed debris into vehicles just at speeds you can't imagine. Twisted power lines. 47,000 without power tonight. But of course we're focusing on the casualty toll at this point.

HARLOW: Yes. Of course we are. Let's go straight to our Amara Walker. She is live in Nashville for us on the phone.

You are on the ground. So what are you seeing? What are you hearing?

SCIUTTO: Cell phone lines not great there. Amara, do you hear us? HARLOW: OK. All right. So we're going to try to re-establish

connection, obviously, with her. But they're dealing with a major catastrophe on the ground in Nashville. We'll have much more of that for you ahead.

SCIUTTO: We'll bring you that back when we get Amara back on the line. Meanwhile, the other story we're following this morning, the coronavirus is spreading here in the U.S. The state of Georgia confirming two new cases over the night. One of those patients traveled recently to Italy, another site of the outbreak internationally.

HARLOW: So now there are 105 coronavirus cases detected so far in the United States. All six deaths here have been in Washington state.

Let's go back to our Stephanie Elam to begin our coverage there this morning.

Once again, Stephanie, you are in Kirkland, Washington. Another coronavirus case has been confirmed at that same nursing facility behind you.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the numbers really jumping up yesterday as we saw, Poppy and Jim. When you take a look at what we know here from this one facility, this Life Care Center of Kirkland, we know that of those six deaths, that five of them related to this one facility. And we also know that overall that there's eight cases that they're now putting toward this one facility here. That they're paying attention to.

One nearby hospital still has 10 patients that they are treating. Obviously, this is sort of the ground zero of this outbreak here in Washington state where they continue to see the effects. Right now we know that there are more than a couple dozen firefighters and a couple of police officers in the area that are quarantined because they were part of those responses to get patients from this facility to the hospital. So they continue to monitor them.

We know that there are almost some 50 schools that are closed today because they thought that there could be perhaps someone who traveled internationally who may have brought back coronavirus.

HARLOW: Wow.

ELAM: And so just to be safe, they are scrubbing those schools and they will be opening back up. But still, we're seeing a lot of effects in this one state here for sure -- Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: OK.

SCIUTTO: Yes, schools will be another test case for this.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: How do schools respond if cases are confirmed there.

Stephanie Elam, thanks very much.

Joining us now to discuss all the bigger issues are Dr. Sanjay Gupta, of course CNN's chief medical correspondent, and Dr. Amesh Adaja, infectious diseases expert and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security.

Great to have you both on. A lot of questions for you this morning.

So, Sanjay, let me begin with you. So the reporting is that you might be testing as many as a million people in the U.S. by the end of the week. Of course invariably, you test more, you're going to find more cases. What happens to those people who test positive? Will they be then quarantined for two weeks? And where? You know, where they are? Do they have to go somewhere else? What's the likely response?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, I think that, you know, if they're sick and they need, you know, to be treated in some way, get symptomatic treatment, they may be going to a clinic or a hospital. But I think for a lot of them it might be just a question of saying, hey, look. You've got to isolate yourself at home. You are not sick enough to be in the hospital but the concern is that you could be someone who could spread the virus.

So that's likely. And I think that's very likely to be the scenario because, Jim, you know, as these numbers go up, you know, one thing that's going to start happening as well is that people may start trying to flood hospitals, emergency rooms, clinics and things like that which you don't want happening.

[09:05:02]

If people aren't sick enough to be in these locations they shouldn't go because, you know, you're going to run into a demand-versus-supply issue quickly.

HARLOW: So to both of you, we did just cross. So a second case of coronavirus has been confirmed here in New York City. It's a man who lives in West Chester, New York. That's about, you know, a 30-minute drive from the center of Manhattan, who works in Manhattan. Tested positive for coronavirus. This just announced by Governor Cuomo.

This patient, interestingly, Doctor Adaja, is in the hospital whereas the other one in Manhattan, you know, didn't have many symptoms and was recovering at home in self-isolation. Also the second patient to test positive, a female health care worker, of course is the -- who went to Iran is the one who is at home. So what does this tell you about New York and just the broader spread?

DR. AMESH ADAJA, INFECTIOUS DISEASES EXPERT: We know that this virus has been spreading likely since November in China, and as seen in many parts of the world. And because most cases are mild they may have -- not been detected because our testing protocols were very strict. Now we're going to see more cases diagnosed all over the country and we have to expect community spread in many places, including big cities like New York City which may be hit disproportionately hard. Most cases are going to be mild but some, like the case you're reporting now, may need to be hospitalized because they need medical interventions.

HARLOW: And do you say New York may be hit disproportionately hard because of the close proximity in which we live and commute on subways, et cetera, versus other cities where many people drive?

ADAJA: Right. There is much more interaction in a city like New York versus a small town. So you may see increase intensity of spread in big cities which is what we see with flu season and with any respiratory spread virus.

HARLOW: OK.

SCIUTTO: Sanjay, is there a life cycle of an outbreak like this when you look at, for instance, SARS a number of years ago, h1n1?

GUPTA: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Rising, peaking, falling off, does weather play a factor? What do we know?

GUPTA: What we have seen, you know, seasonal variations to pathogens in the past including SARS. I don't know if we have this animation that I can show you quickly because I think this does make an important case in terms of comparing things like h1n1 to MERS, Ebola and now coronavirus. You watch this, and -- so look at the green line which is h1n1. How fast. That's just one week.

Look at how those cases went. But by week nine, the purple line, which is coronavirus, is actually going to overtake h1n1. That's the time that was bought by what happened in China. But look what happens then if you keep going with that, I don't know. If you had kept going with that, you'd see that at the one-year mark, h1n1 affected 60 million in the United States. And that's, you know, quite -- there you go.

SCIUTTO: Wow.

GUPTA: That's the sort of sudden acceleration that took off with h1n1.

SCIUTTO: Goodness.

GUPTA: And look, we may see that with coronavirus. And I think Amesh would agree. I think many people have talked about this, that's going to be alarming to people. But it shouldn't necessarily be as alarming as you think because the vast majority of those people are not going to have serious illness. They're going to have mild to moderate illness, if any symptoms at all.

SCIUTTO: Right.

HARLOW: OK.

SCIUTTO: Goodness but great comparison there.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Because you see how quickly, and then as you test more but also good advice. Listen, most people will get through just fine.

HARLOW: Yes. So good to see. Thank you, Doctors. We'll get back to you in a minute but we do want to get back to our breaking news out of Nashville.

SCIUTTO: That's right. Amara Walker, she's been there on the ground. We tried her earlier. Understandably signals difficult from a place that's just been hit by a tornado.

So, Amara, you're on the ground there in Nashville. Tell us what you're seeing. Some of the pictures really alarming.

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, Jim, it's quite a mess out here. I mean, we've been driving through the streets for the last couple of minutes, and debris is just strewn everywhere. And behind me here, this is a popular local music venue where the people here tell me here in East Nashville, they gathered here on weekend nights. And you can see that it's completely destroyed. The walls have caved in. And just a few minutes ago, a water pipe that had burst, the water had been running for quite some time. It looks like that has stopped for now.

I also spoke with a woman just a few minutes ago who told me that she was inside her home here in East Nashville when the tornado hit. And she and her husband had heard the swirling of the wind outside their window. They knew that something was up. They ran really fast downstairs to the basement and that's when they saw the tornado and they heard and saw the tornado lift the foundation of their home. She said it was the most terrifying experience of her life. Just a few seconds but she said, obviously, it was just horrifying for them. And she's grateful to be alive.

As you said, eight confirmed deaths thus far and multiple injuries have been reported. 20 people in the hospital according to the Nashville mayor. And just about 100 miles east of here in Putnam County. The county mayor is saying that several people have also been critically injured, but, of course, the biggest concern right now are the people who may be trapped inside these damaged homes and buildings because this happened in the early morning hours. Back to you.

[09:10:02]

SCIUTTO: Goodness. As you were speaking there we saw the top of something of a midrise, top floor destroyed by this.

Amara Walker, good to have you on the ground. Stay safe. We'll come back there with all the latest.

HARLOW: We'll get back to all of that breaking news.

We're also following, of course, voting today because every Super Tuesday state for the latest on the Democratic primary is under way. Elizabeth Warren just arrived at her polling location a few minutes ago. Bernie Sanders will vote next hour.

SCIUTTO: Will Joe Biden see a boost after his former rivals endorse him? Stay with CNN for our special election coverage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: It is Super Tuesday, of course. Many of you, I'm sure, are voting today. And the stakes this morning are as high as the delegate count up for grabs. More than 1300 in a race where the current leader, Bernie Sanders, has only 60 so far. A third of all the delegates in the race today -- in the race will be won today.

HARLOW: And this morning, Joe Biden betting the fresh support from his former rivals will give him a solid boost. CNN has the story covered from coast to coast. Let's begin in North Carolina where 110 delegates are at stake.

[09:15:00]

Our national correspondent Dianne Gallagher is there. Good morning.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy, Jim. And I'll tell you here in North Carolina, it's a dreary day, it's a little cold. We haven't seen super long lines coming out of this voting precinct here, this is a precinct 212 in North Charlotte. But that's due in a large part to the robust early voting session that they had here in North Carolina.

Nearly 70,000 here in Mecklenburg County voted, but across the state, nearly 800,000 North Carolinians cast those early ballots. I actually got some text messages from people when Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg dropped out, saying, oh, I wish I hadn't voted early at this point. Now, North Carolina, the third biggest prize in the delegate race here on Super Tuesday.

And in Mecklenburg County as well as several others are using brand- new ballot marking device machines, Jim, Poppy, these are controversial especially in some circles which basically prints out. You vote on a panel. It prints out the result and it prints it out on a bar code that is read. We're going to be keeping tabs on that, seeing how these work out. Election officials told me that they've done rigorous testing, they expect it to go well. But again, we're going to be keeping tabs on that as the vote comes in throughout the day.

SCIUTTO: All right, North Carolina, a big state. Dianne Gallagher there joining us now from California; the biggest state, 415 delegates at stake. Also another state had a lot of early voting, CNN Washington correspondent Jessica Dean, early voting took place there. Bernie Sanders, it seems, with a big advantage.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning to you, Jim and Poppy. Yes, Bernie Sanders looking to really run up the score here in California. But Joe Biden is hoping he can keep those margins down. He will be spending Super Tuesday night and some of the day here in California.

Talking to voters, meeting with people here. The Biden campaign, of course, high over the last 24 hours where they saw those big endorsements, that big rally with Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg.

As they really seek to consolidate this more moderate lane of the Democratic primary and put forth this message of unity, which is what we heard from Amy Klobuchar, from Beto O'Rourke, from Pete Buttigieg last night. I've spoken with the Biden campaign. They hope that all of these endorsements, which also include a long list of congressional endorsements and money will make a difference today. But, of course, Jim and Poppy, we'll only know once the voters have their say.

SCIUTTO: Yes --

HARLOW: Yes, and we may not know tonight in a state like California. Jess, thanks very much. Sixteen delegates are at stake in Bernie Sanders' home state of Vermont. Next hour, we'll see him voting there. Let's go to our national correspondent Athena Jones from Vermont. Good morning.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. We are at the polling place where Senator Sanders is expected to cast his ballot. As you mentioned, 16 delegates at stake. And last time around, Sanders won handily here in his home state, 86 percent of the vote. We don't expect that to change. But a lot of the focus has been on what you heard from Jessica about the coalescing of the moderate candidates around former Vice President Joe Biden.

And Sanders was asked if he's concerned about that, and rather than focusing on that consolidation, he used the question to refocus on his agenda for what he calls real change. He says, yes, there's no secret, there's a massive effort to stop me. He says the corporate establishment is coming together, the political establishment is coming together, and they will do everything.

They're really getting nervous that working people are standing up. He says working people are standing up for decent wages, standing up for universal healthcare, and standing up and getting ready to go against, say the fossil fuel industry. So he's kind of using this question to talk about his own agenda. What is left unsaid is the idea that among a lot of the Democratic establishments is that the Sanders candidacy could hurt down-ballot candidates. That's something he's not directly addressing here, Poppy.

HARLOW: Well, we'll talk about that with our guest next. Athena, thanks so much. Joining us now, former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, knows a thing or two about being in the race. Former Congressman John Delaney and Basil Smikle; former executive director of the New York State Democratic Party. He also worked with Bloomberg in the past, he was a former top aide to Hillary Clinton.

Gentlemen, thanks for being here.

REP. JOHN DELANEY (D-MD): Thank you --

HARLOW: All right, Congressman Delaney, we saw your tweet, you tweeted last night, Joe Biden is 100 percent right when he said the revolution isn't changing anyone's life. Are you ready today to endorse Joe Biden? Sure sounds like it. DELANEY: Well, listen, I think the vice president is going to have a

great day today. I think he's the best person to probably be our nominee. So I'm getting there.

SCIUTTO: That sounds like an endorsement. Well --

DELANEY: I'm talking to the Biden people, they've got a lot going on today --

HARLOW: All right, we'll let you do --

DELANEY: Yes --

HARLOW: It in your own time.

DELANEY: Yes --

SCIUTTO: Basil, what does a win look like for Biden today and a win for Sanders?

HARLOW: Yes --

BASIL SMIKLE, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: If Biden wins, I don't see anyone or Sanders in particular, sort of being able to overtake that. California is the most delegate rich state in the country. And Texas is the third most delegate rich state in the country. So, good showings there means that he'll have a lead that is almost insurmountable.

If Sanders wins, quite frankly -- and I'm looking -- one of the things I'm looking at are how some of the swing districts, those districts, the Democrats won in 2018 --

[09:20:00]

HARLOW: Yes --

SMIKLE: How they're going to perform. If Sanders -- I expect Biden to do well, but if Sanders does well there or in any other parts of the Super Tuesday states, it says a lot more about where the party is going. But I still think Joe Biden is going to be really competitive, and also looking for whether or not Mike Bloomberg creates a bit of a wedge and takes a --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

SMIKLE: Little bit from Biden's lead.

HARLOW: On the Bloomberg point --

SMIKLE: Yes --

HARLOW: And you've worked with him -- I thought it was interesting that the attack that Joe Biden is now leveling against Mike Bloomberg is hey, by the way, he's not really a Democrat.

SMIKLE: Yes --

HARLOW: Bloomberg responds and says, look, I turned Republican to get on the ballot in New York as running for mayor. And oh, by the way, and I'm paraphrasing here, I'm more of a Democrat than any of you are.

SMIKLE: Yes --

HARLOW: Smart response from Bloomberg?

SMIKLE: No, I don't think so. Now look, to be fair, you know, Mike Bloomberg, when he ran for mayor in 2005 got 47 percent of the African-American vote on a Republican line which is pretty extraordinary --

HARLOW: Yes --

SMIKLE: And has done well in those communities and has a lot of endorsements from African-American mayors across the country. But you know, the party is a quasi private entity. It's an organization that rewards loyalty and supports its stakeholders. So, there's a long line, whether you are a super delegate or you're a member of the Fred Samuel; Democratic club in Harlem where I'm a member, and have been circulating petitions for 40 years.

These are folks that really care about process and care about the party. So, making that argument isn't going to work with a lot of --

HARLOW: Yes --

SMIKLE: Folks that are going to be voting today.

SCIUTTO: So, John Delaney, it's been interesting to watch Democrats rally around Biden after South Carolina victory --

DELANEY: Yes --

SCIUTTO: A lot of endorsements here, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, nearly dropping out, immediately endorsing him. One, and even Republicans actually giving Democrats credit for that, saying that that's something that moderate Republicans would not do against Trump in 2016. One, what does that do to Biden? Does that work for them? Does also pose dangers for alienating Sanders' voters?

DELANEY: I don't think so. I mean, what happened on Saturday was pretty extraordinary. I mean, the scale of Joe Biden's victory in South Carolina, which is a proxy for the African-American vote in this country. And African-American voters are the most important voters in the Democratic Party, by any measure, right? They're the most loyal. I actually think they moderate the party in many ways because they focus a lot on kitchen table pocket-book issues.

SCIUTTO: Yes --

DELANEY: We were talking about this. And Joe Biden's victory, the scale of it, basically sent a message to everyone in the Democratic Party that really our base, the most important voters in our party, really are behind the vice president. And I think that was really -- it was more than just the win in the state --

HARLOW: Yes --

DELANEY: In the delegate count. It really sent a message --

SMIKLE: Yes --

DELANEY: To the candidate, they cannot only excite the base, but actually be this unifying candidate --

SMIKLE: Yes --

HARLOW: And to build on that point, Basil, when you dig into the numbers out of South Carolina, what was shocking to me, but great for the Biden camp is they actually want more voters to consider themselves liberal and very liberal than Bernie Sanders did.

SMIKLE: Yes --

HARLOW: And I wonder if you think that that is an anomaly, and that is a, you know, a product of it being the unique make-up of South Carolina or if that is going to translate nationally today?

SMIKLE: It might translate nationally. And just to go back to that point, if you listen to Jim Clyburn's endorsement of Joe Biden, he basically --

HARLOW: Or fix your campaign comment?

SMIKLE: All right --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

SMIKLE: You know, he basically said, look, Joe -- you can trust Joe Biden because he's been with me through the battles. And if you're younger than 35, all that you sort of experience and take advantage of now are a result of the things that we've done 10, 20, 30 years ago. So, he was trying to make the connection between the older voter, younger voter that tends to be more liberal.

So, I think what -- I think what South Carolina did was send a message that it's OK to support Joe Biden because the people that support him have been with you for a long period of time and have worked to get the things that you're now sort of experiencing. And I think that, that's going to be a trend across the country, but I wouldn't say it's going to be a runaway. I think there are a lot of liberal voters that are still going to be supporting --

DELANEY: Yes, absolutely --

SMIKLE: Elizabeth Warren.

DELANEY: And there's been a lot of early voting --

SMIKLE: That's right, that's right --

DELANEY: I mean, Joe Biden --

SCIUTTO: California in particular --

DELANEY: Part of this is an expectations game. Bernie Sanders was expected to clean up on Super Tuesday. That was the expectations last week. I don't think that's going to happen today. I think Joe Biden will do very well, and he'll clearly exceed expectations. And I don't even think today will reflect the full extent of his momentum because of all of the early voting --

SMIKLE: Early voting, yes --

DELANEY: Ballots occurring. The interesting thing is going to be the Biden-Bloomberg thing --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

DELANEY: Because --

SCIUTTO: Because he still -- there's Bloomberg --

DELANEY: Whoever wins that race will go on, and whoever doesn't win that race really has to get out of the race.

SMIKLE: Yes --

HARLOW: Or you have a contested convention.

SMIKLE: Oh, don't think that.

(LAUGHTER)

SCIUTTO: It's possible and we've said it before. Basil Smikle, John Delaney --

HARLOW: Thanks guys --

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much to both of you --

SMIKLE: Thank you.

HARLOW: This just in to CNN. We're getting an update on the tragedy overnight in Tennessee. The death toll from the destructive tornadoes is rising. Tennessee's Governor Bill Lee just spoke a few moments ago. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BILL LEE (R-TN): As of this morning, I've had confirmed fatalities in Benton County, Putnam County, Wilson County, Davidson County. Nine confirmed fatalities so far. There are a number of people that are missing in different areas. Many that are injured and being transported.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[09:25:00]

SCIUTTO: It raises a question there, does that toll rise? We will stay on top of it. Our reporters are there live on the ground in Nashville, we'll continue to bring you the updates on the story throughout the morning. Also ahead at this hour, Japan's Olympic Minister says that the Tokyo Olympic games this Summer could -- this will be remarkable -- be postponed due to the deadly coronavirus. We're going to be live in Japan, next.

HARLOW: We're also moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. This roller-coaster ride for investors not stopping this morning. The Dow futures pointing higher. Let's see what happens actually at the open. This after what is the highest one-day jump in the Dow's history and last week's largest point-drop in history.

Markets have been bolstered by big international banks issuing statements in recent days aimed at preventing panic.

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