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Bloomberg Faces First Test; Moderate Democrats Rally around Biden; Tokyo Olympics Could be Postponed; Voters in 14 States Hit the Polls. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired March 3, 2020 - 09:30   ET

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


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[09:30:32]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.

There's someone else who's on the ballot today in Super Tuesday states. In fact, this has been where he's focusing his many hundreds of millions of dollars. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, he's making his debut in Super Tuesday states today. Right now he's holding an event in Florida, a crucial state to say the least in the primaries and in the general.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Early morning coffee in Miami.

Let's go to our politics and business correspondent Cristina Alesci, who is following the mayor.

And you've got some reporting, Cristina, this morning on the thinking of Bloomberg's camp and I suppose what they -- what they think would be a win walking away from Super Tuesday with.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. There's an expectation from the Bloomberg camp that they will be viable in most Super Tuesday states. Obviously, they have a close eye on California. That is a delegate bonanza. Over 400 delegates in that state alone. And they are keeping a close eye.

I'm going to get back to these expectations. But Mike Bloomberg is here today having coffee with the former mayor of Miami and talking to the locals. He was just inside holding a baby, trying to come off as more personable. That's something that, you know, obviously, has been a subject with Michael Bloomberg specifically.

But just to give you guys some context here, this is a real -- Super Tuesday is a real test for Michael Bloomberg and he is in Florida today which does not hold its primary until March 17th. So maybe this is a signal here that Michael Bloomberg intends to stay in the race, despite how he does tonight, even if it does not meet his expectations.

Now, what I'm hearing from the Bloomberg campaign is they are closely watching tonight. A lot hinges on how he performs. And all of this comes as Joe Biden builds momentum. He had a very strong night last night. And in terms of that, it really undercuts Bloomberg's argument that he's in this race because Joe Biden was weak. Now he's a lot stronger.

He's got the establishment behind him and he's bringing in fundraising money, Poppy. And we'll have to see how this turns out tonight. But a lot on the line for Michael Bloomberg.

HARLOW: A lot, yes.

SCIUTTO: Cristina Alesci, thanks so much.

Joining us now is former Virginia governor and Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe. He is now backing former Vice President Joe Biden.

Mr. McAuliffe, good to have you on this morning. Thank --

TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: Jim, hi. Good to be with you.

SCIUTTO: So until South Carolina, Bernie Sanders had a big lead going into Super Tuesday.

MCAULIFFE: Yes.

SCIUTTO: A lot of early voting in a lot of these states. California the biggest prize included before Biden had resurrected his campaign to some degree. I'm curious, as a Biden supporter, how does Biden perform today, even with the endorsements he's getting?

MCAULIFFE: Well, you're right, I think about 2.9 million votes have already been cast in California. But the big test today, Jim, and I've been saying this on CNN for a while, tell me who's going to build that broad coalition that's going to help us to go into the general election and can win the general election and help the other candidates on the ballot, specifically in the United States Senate? Biden proved in South Carolina that he is that candidate.

But what you need to watch tonight are states like Virginia, North Carolina, those swing states that will be a very important barometer going into the fall election for the general election. And that's what's going to be important.

I think the vice president will do very well. Strong support in the African-American community, which will bode well for him in Virginia and North Carolina and Arkansas, Tennessee. So, you know, it's a very important night. I've been saying this for a long time. Tonight, we see those basket of diverse states that shows who we are as Democrats.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: You heard Congressman Clyburn's critique of the Biden campaign post-endorsement this weekend saying it needs to be retooled.

MCAULIFFE: Yes.

HARLOW: Do you think it needs to be retooled, Governor?

MCAULIFFE: Well, listen, I -- the vice president was in Virginia on Sunday. I rode in the car with him. We talked about the campaign.

HARLOW: Yes.

MCAULIFFE: We talked about the structure. But he's been bringing new people in all the time. Listen, they were restricted, when you got into December and January, by resources.

HARLOW: Yes.

MCAULIFFE: Those resources, I think he's been bringing in around -- averaging $5 million a day. So I think he's dealt with that issue.

But now is the time to take some of the best folks in the other campaigns, fold them into the campaign. So that is an issue that he can easily resolve.

I mean last night, to have three of your major opponents come out and endorse you on one night, that has never happened in American politics. I call it Joe-mentum. I mean you can feel it. People are jumping on this campaign. And he's really moving forward. Why? Because, a, they -- listen, people know Joe Biden. They think he'll be a great president.

[09:35:04]

But also for these senators who are now endorsing, it's not only about -- they know him, they've worked with him, they want to run with him. And we need to get control of the Senate and help Nancy Pelosi and the House. Nobody has the broad appeal that Joe Biden has. And that's why I think at this point you're seeing him moving. He now has the resources. But, yes, Poppy, he needs to build up the staff, and he'll do that. That's all a part of his campaign.

SCIUTTO: OK. I want to tell you about something I noticed yesterday. Senator Ron Johnson, of course Republican, he sent a letter to fellow committee members saying that he wants to consider a subpoena to the former U.S. representative for the company Burisma. I'm sure it's familiar. That's, of course, the Ukrainian gas company that Joe Biden's son Hunter was on the board for.

MCAULIFFE: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Are you concerned that Biden's rise will reignite Republicans', Trump's interest in investigating the Bidens?

MCAULIFFE: Listen, they're going to do everything they can. We lived through this in the '16 campaign on e-mails and Benghazi and all this stuff that turned out to be absolutely nothing. But, listen, Jim, they're going to do that. I'm fine matching up. I mean here you've got the Trump White House, you've got the president, who's a walking crime scene. I will be glad to take that debate against Joe Biden's ethics and Donald Trump's every day of the week. So if they want to play that game, good. Bring it on. Let's go.

HARLOW: Governor, there is this school of thought that perhaps it may only be Senator Bernie Sanders who can bring the enthusiasm and the crowds and the momentum needed to rival the president to beat him in a general election. That's one school of thought. I know you disagree with it.

MCAULIFFE: Sure.

HARLOW: But Elizabeth Warren, last night, said he doesn't have what it takes to meet the moment. And before endorsing him, Mayor Buttigieg had the same critique of Biden, that he is a good man and a, you know, good politician but this is not his moment. Why do you think this is his moment?

MCAULIFFE: Well -- and, listen, as I say, I was just with him in Norfolk, Virginia. We had one of the largest events that he's ever had in this campaign. Huge crowds.

Poppy, it's beyond that. I mean, people are showing up. You look at the record turnout. You saw in these early primary states. Joe Biden now has more popular vote than Bernie Sanders has. But what people are thinking in America today, take the politics out of it, they want a steady hand back in Washington. They want someone who can unite everybody.

They've seen Donald Trump. You look at what's happened around the world in Asia and how he's dealt with our allies in NATO. People are done with it. They know that Joe will bring people together.

Why have all of these senator comes out to endorse Joe Biden. I was with Senator Kaine from Virginia. Great relationships with all these candidates in the race, but he said, at the end of the day, he's worked with Joe, respects Joe, and he will be the one who can bring us together.

So I think it's very important when your colleagues come out and say, I want to work with you. It's one thing campaigning. The next step is actually governing.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

MCAULIFFE: Getting things done. And Joe can get things done. He'll reach across the aisle. When I was governor, I had a Republican legislature. You work with him because you've got common goals and the American public is tired of the fighting. They want to worry -- they're worried about prescription drug prices, how do we lower them. What about infrastructure.

SCIUTTO: OK.

MCAULIFFE: They want America to get back to doing what we need to do.

HARLOW: Governor Terry McAuliffe, thank you.

MCAULIFFE: Thank you. HARLOW: Nice to have you.

MCAULIFFE: A big night.

SCIUTTO: Thanks.

HARLOW: Yes, a big night for sure.

SCIUTTO: A big test today, no question.

HARLOW: And because it is such a big day, our special live coverage of Super Tuesday all begins at 4:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

SCIUTTO: And coming up next, we're going to be live in Tokyo. This is where Japan's Olympic minister says that the Tokyo Olympic games this summer could -- this would be remarkable -- be postponed due to the deadly coronavirus. Stay with us. We'll bring you the latest.

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[09:42:57]

HARLOW: So, Japan's Olympic minister now says there is a chance that the upcoming 2020 Tokyo games could be postponed until the end of year because of coronavirus.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Will Ripley joins us now live from Tokyo.

Will, as you know, Japan invested so much in these games, but the idea of bringing tens of thousands of people from around the world into a city in Asia in the midst of this, what are they talking about?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, given all the criticism, Jim and Poppy, about the way that the Diamond Princess situation was handled with 3,700 people in a relatively enclosed space, imagine hundreds of thousands of people from 200 plus countries coming here in close quarters for several weeks. I mean there's a lot of questions about whether that would be safe or whether there could be -- this could be an incubator for an even worse outbreak situation.

But Japan is on track, by some estimates, to spend $20 billion on these games.

HARLOW: Wow.

RIPLEY: And so they're trying to basically reassure the world that one way or another the games are going to be held here somehow. But, of course, we have to have confidence, the world and the IOC has to have confidence that it's safe.

HARLOW: Of course. And you talk about the monetary investment that they've made. Also, you know, a reputational comeback that they were hoping for and a real sort of reintroduction to the world stage after the tsunami and the deadly earthquake, right?

RIPLEY: This was absolutely, Poppy, supposed to be the chance for Japan to show the world how far they've come. How resilient this country is. Because, remember, the same was true with the 1964 Olympics. That was Japan's introduction to the world as an emergent power after the devastation of World War II. This was to be the same for Japan.

This is how it was pitched to the Japanese people. I lived here in Tokyo for more than four years, and I've seen the blood, sweat and tears that's gone into this. It has to be absolutely devastating for not only the Olympic organizers but for the Japanese people themselves who have, you know, allowed their government to invest so much money and have really had a lot of hope that this was going to be a really good moment for Japan. And the way things are looking right now, it's just not shaping up to be that.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Keep us posted when you get a definitive announcement.

[09:45:01]

Will, thank you.

All right, across America it's Super Tuesday. Democrats are headed to the polls. Who will come out on top when all the votes are counted? We'll take you live to a polling station in Virginia, next.

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SCIUTTO: Voters in Virginia among the millions going to the polls on this Super Tuesday.

HARLOW: Yes, it's a big day. Ninety-nine delegates up for grabs in Virginia.

Brian Todd joins us from Falls Church.

Brian, what are you seeing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy and Jim, a very steady stream of voters and a very efficient process here at Graham Road Elementary School. You see people coming in and checking in. They're going to go through this line here and check in.

[09:50:02]

A bunch of kids just left. We love it when people bring in their kids. There have been kids coming in here all day long with their parents.

One thing we can tell you is, we've taken samplings of dozen of voters as they've come in and out of this precinct, and sampling who they're supporting in the race. We've picked up a lot of support for Joe Biden and a lot of that support, guys, is from people who were supporting Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. Since those two have dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden, that has driven the decisions of a lot of voters who we have talked to in this precinct. That, of course, doesn't, you know, portend how this precinct is going

to go or how the state's going to go. We're picking up that dynamic, though. As the dynamic of the race has changed, so has the dynamic on the ground, at least in this precinct.

HARLOW: Brian Todd, thank you very, very much.

The head of Virginia's Democratic Party says beating President Trump is a top consideration for today. We're happy to have Chairwoman Susan Swecker with us now.

Good morning. Thanks for joining us.

SUSAN SWECKER, CHAIRWOMAN, VIRGINIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Good morning. I'm happy to be here with you all.

HARLOW: Talk to us about how important or not important you think those big endorsements are that Joe Biden got last night, because your city is different in terms -- your state is different in terms of you don't have a million early votes, right? You don't have that early voting mechanism the same as others. So those endorsements, critical, when people go to the polls today?

SWECKER: Oh, I think they were huge. I think that they were -- they were really epic because it's something that you don't -- you don't normally see. And so I think that the way, you know, that happened and then the -- Senator Tim Kaine here in Virginia weighing in --

HARLOW: Right.

SWECKER: An endorsement in addition to, you know, other long-time leaders here, you could -- you could feel a seismic shift in the ground, quite frankly.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, because given those endorsements from a number of party stalwarts, et cetera, but also discussions among super delegates prior to South Carolina of doing anything, and you're aware of the stories to keep Sanders from being the nominee, I wonder if you're concerned about echoes of 2016 here and that the Democratic Party risks alienating the most devout Sanders supporters and then weakening themselves in November?

SWECKER: Well, I think that we -- you know, voters, prior to South Carolina, were doing a lot of shopping. You know, we had a lot of candidates in the race. It's winnowed down now. And we still have choices.

And we have different paths that each one of these candidates bring. And, you know, there are things they agree on and there are very different things that they disagree on and very stark choices. So our -- our Virginia voters and Virginia Democrats I think we are used to voting every year. We have an election every year.

We've gotten real used to this. And we have a pretty darn good track record of picking the nominee. Part of that is we're a diverse state, and we're diverse not just in ethnicity, but diverse in our geography and our economy. And so, in the end, I think that, and hope, and will work very hard to ensure that we stay focused on the end goal, which is defeating Donald Trump.

HARLOW: You know, Chairwoman, I remember a few months ago when Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York, Democrat, was on our show and he told us that Bernie Sanders shouldn't be allowed to run in the Democratic primary because he's not really a Democrat. I know you're not endorsing anyone obviously because of your position right now, but do you think that Bernie Sanders is a Democrat?

SWECKER: Well, look, that really doesn't matter. He's on the ballot. And --

HARLOW: No, no, no, well, I think it --

SWECKER: Right.

HARLOW: I think it does matter how people view him.

SWECKER: But it's not up to me to -- yes, and -- listen, here's the thing, I have confidence in Virginia Democrats. And the voters that go to the polls today, that they are savvy enough, they have seen and heard from the candidates, they have seen and heard from, you know, endorsers of the candidates and they will make an informed choice. And it's -- that's what our democracy is about, is making informed choices.

But I -- look, you have -- you have two different -- you know, let's just say, it's Joe Biden, it's Michael Bloomberg, it's Elizabeth Warren, it's Bernie Sanders. Those are all different kinds of nominees, right?

SCIUTTO: Yes.

SWECKER: And they're different races to the presidency and different choices to be made.

SCIUTTO: OK.

SWECKER: But, in the end, I -- you know, I've been through a lot of rough and tumble primaries and my heart's been broken more times than I could ever count --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

SWECKER: When my candidate didn't get the nomination. But dag gone it, you know, I brush myself off, got right back up and I got in there and I worked for the nominee.

SCIUTTO: OK.

SWECKER: And the stakes are too darn high.

SCIUTTO: But the nominees matter. Let's talk about Bloomberg for a moment here. He launched his campaign in Virginia. He's got a lot of money. SWECKER: Yes.

SCIUTTO: He spent half a billion dollars. What should Bloomberg do after today?

[09:55:02]

Because he said that one of the primary reasons he's running is to make sure it's not someone like Sanders on the ticket but someone like Biden who has expressed he might support in the past. Should Bloomberg look at today and then quickly get behind whoever is in the front?

SWECKER: Look, I think after today they -- yes, there's a lot of tough decisions have to be make -- to be made. I mean I know that was hard for Amy and Mayor Pete to get out of the race, right? Nobody wants to give their dream up. But, you know, in the end, you do what you think is the best for your party, and best to win.

So, yes, he -- he -- if he doesn't -- doesn't have a good -- a good Super Tuesday, and, look, he's -- he's -- we know Mike Bloomberg here in Virginia. He's been very helpful to us on the gun control issue, common sense gun reform --

SCIUTTO: Yes, gun control for sure.

HARLOW: Yes.

SWECKER: Yes, but those --

SCIUTTO: OK, Susan --

SWECKER: Those are -- those are tough decisions.

SCIUTTO: Susan Swecker, there are going to be a lot of tough decisions after today. Thanks very much.

SWECKER: Yes. Thanks a lot.

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Just minutes from now, Bernie Sanders will cast his vote in the Democratic Party. Our -- primary, rather. Our special live election coverage of Super Tuesday continues after a quick break.

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