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CNN NEWSROOM

Super Tuesday Elections Today; Coronavirus Likely in Washington State for Weeks; Death Toll Rises in Nashville. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 3, 2020 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: -- they're trying to take this thing away from me.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Poppy, this isn't going to work unless you say which David, but I'll --

(LAUGHTER)

AXELROD: -- be -- I'll be aggressive and leap (ph) in (ph) --

HARLOW: OK, David Axelrod. Go for it.

AXELROD: I'll be aggressive and leap in here. Look, I think it's been a -- this has been, after a long, hard run up to this point, Joe Biden has had a fantastic few days here. South Carolina was beyond anybody's expectations and now there's been a consolidation behind him among moderates. That is very, very important.

You know, people like to make the analogy between Republicans in 2016 and Democrats in 2020, but we didn't see this kind of consolidation behind an alternative to Donald Trump in 2016. And -- so quickly.

So, you know, the question is -- and we'll find out tonight -- whether there's a big bounce for Joe Biden on Super Tuesday, whether he can hang with Bernie Sanders, leave Mike Bloomberg well behind. If he does those two things, he's right in the mix here.

And early -- the last thing I'd say about this is, if you look at the polling this morning from various Super Tuesday states, there is evidence of quite a substantial bounce. Now, polls aren't people, there's early voting in some of these states that may obviate some of that advantage. But Joe Biden has to be feeling awfully good this morning.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: So -- so, David Gergen, you know, to that point, I did hear Republicans -- Amanda Carpenter, for instance, worked for Senator Ted Cruz, making exactly that point. Republicans did not do this in 2016.

Are you worried though -- and I don't know if you've tangled with Bernie's supporters before, though, they are devout, one might say, is there a danger for the Democratic Party, being seen to be -- advantaging Biden and disadvantaging Bernie Sanders?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's a really good question. I think as long as it does not come from the Democratic National Committee, you know, there any -- there's no sense that the DNC is manipulating things the way it was the last time around -- I think that will help.

If Joe Biden wins this, listen, he has this surge, I think David Axelrod was on point on everything he said. If Joe Biden has this surge and it comes from the grassroots up, it comes from these other candidates stepping out, I think there's no legitimacy in the Sanders people saying, well, we've been cheated, we've been robbed.

And so a lot depends on how this is done, but there's no question that so much now depends upon tonight. If Joe Biden has a really, really good night, this surge will continue and we will have a Democratic Party that's been united for the first time in my memory so early in the process, which will be very exciting.

On the other hand, if Sanders really wins big in California and also takes Texas and the northeastern states, you know, that's going to introduce a note of realism, that this is still going to be a slugfest all the way out. And it really depends --

HARLOW: Yes.

GERGEN: -- a lot on whether you can get Warren and Bloomberg out.

HARLOW: David Axelrod --

AXELROD: Yes?

HARLOW: -- see, I got the last name there -- why, having worked so closely with former President Obama and knowing the mind of the man, why is he staying out of this, largely, publicly, when a push from him could push Biden over the finish line?

AXELROD: Well, look, I think he sees his role as being someone who can pull the party together at the end of this. You know, just -- just one amendment to what David said. Whatever happens tonight, you're going to have a long hard slog here. Bernie Sanders will emerge tonight almost certainly as a delegate leader. If he doesn't, that would be quite a story because California should be a treasure trove of delegates for him.

But, you know, it's unlikely that anyone's going to get a majority of delegates. And so that portends a tense convention potentially, and it's going to take someone to help pull this party together.

I think President Obama understands that if he puts his thumb on the scale for one candidate or another, that it's going to be harder to play that role at the end. And he's said that from the beginning --

HARLOW: Yes.

AXELROD: -- and I don't think he's changed his view on this. SCIUTTO: So, David Gergen, what does success look like, given

Sanders' advantages going in? What does a success -- so much of this is about expectations management at this point -- what would you call a win for Biden today?

GERGEN: For Biden? To take Texas, and to sweep the southeast -- there are -- you know, there are a large number of states there -- and to hold the margin down in California.

I think it -- a lot depends tonight on California and Texas in terms of how that moves the delegate counts. And I think what the Biden people want is to come out of tonight, being able to say Bernie has not swept this, he is not unassailable --

[10:35:02]

SCIUTTO: Right.

GERGEN: -- we are very much in the fight and we've got the surge.

HARLOW: And -- go ahead, David.

AXELROD: No, I just wanted to address a question that you raised earlier on the potential for disaffection among the Sanders supporters if he is not the nominee.

And certainly, the Trump forces are working that, and the president himself, over time, they're -- you know, this notion that Bernie's going to get cheated out of the nomination and so on.

I think that if Biden emerges here, that one way in which he can reduce that vulnerability is to acknowledge the passion of the people who are supporting Bernie Sanders, not for Sanders but for the cause of trying to deal with climate change, for the cause of trying to deal with growing inequality and the corruption of government by corporate -- big corporate interests, which is a legitimate concern, the power of lobbies in Washington and so on.

I mean, there are things that they are -- that these young people are concerned about, who are supporting Bernie Sanders, that warrant the attention of a Democratic candidate. And Joe Biden needs to acknowledge their passion and speak to their passion --

HARLOW: Yes.

AXELROD: -- so that they understand they're not being forgotten in this equation.

SCIUTTO: Yes, you ignore those issues at your own peril, just ask the Republican Party about folks who voted for Donald Trump, right? The surge --

HARLOW: Totally.

SCIUTTO: Davids, Gergen and Axelrod --

HARLOW: Thanks, guys.

SCIUTTO: -- thanks to both of you.

AXELROD: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Our special live coverage of Super Tuesday will begin at 4:00p.m. Eastern time, right here on CNN.

HARLOW: We do have more breaking news next out of Nashville, with those deadly tornadoes overnight. We'll get there in just a minute. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:41:20]

HARLOW: So this morning, officials confirmed a second case of coronavirus in New York State. This patient, 50-year-old man in the hospital, being treated right now, works in Manhattan.

TEXT: Coronavirus Outbreak: Two confirmed cases in New York; Two new confirmed cases in Georgia, one patient recently traveled to Italy; 106 confirmed cases in U.S.; Six deaths in Washington State, four were residents at nursing facility in suburban Seattle; 26 Seattle-area firefighters, two police officers remain in quarantine

HARLOW: We're also learning that the school of one of his children -- a school in Riverdale, New York, just outside the city, is also now closed.

SCIUTTO: So clearly, becoming an issue for communities across the country and really around the world at this point.

Joining us now to discuss, Dr. Seema Yasmin. She's former epidemic intelligence service officer for the CDC. Dr. Yasmin, so good to have you on this morning. You're in California, of course has many cases now as well.

The case here in New York -- and it's not the only one -- seems to indicate what's known as community spread. In other words, here's someone who did not travel to China or meet with someone from China or another country that's been infected, but likely got it here. Why does that matter and what does it tell us about how this outbreak's going to go from here?

SEEMA YASMIN, DIRECTOR, STANFORD HEALTH COMMUNICATION INITIATIVE: That's right. And good morning, Poppy and Jim, good to join you this morning. Right, I'm here in California, where we have 20 confirmed cases, the most of any American state.

And right here in the Northern California area, in the Bay Area, we had the first two community cases. Meaning, as you just described, Jim, two women who did not have (ph) traveled to any of the affected areas and didn't even have contact with anyone that we know to be confirmed to have the disease. The reason that that's alarming is because it shows that the virus is

already here and it's already circulating among the community. And what the case in Washington told us a few days ago, the virologists looked at the strain of the virus, traced it back and found that actually, it looks like there was what we call cryptic transmission of this new virus in the Washington State area for the past six weeks. And that really heightens the need for more testing, for more clarity around the algorithm for the testing.

We're already hearing from people who are saying, look, I have signs of this new virus. I feel sick and I work in a clinic and I want to get testing. And they're having all sorts of issues, not just getting the tests but getting clarity around how, where and when to get tested. And that's really unacceptable at this point.

HARLOW: That's -- I mean, that is a huge problem because it means more and more that people will be walking around and interacting and not self-quarantining.

YASMIN: Yes.

HARLOW: It's sort of amazing to me that we're at this point.

Another big question we have this morning, Doctor, is how you know if you're contagious or not because Governor Cuomo of New York said something yesterday that had us wanting to know more. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): She did not take any public transportation. As she was a health care worker, she was very aware of the situation and the potential for this situation. We don't believe that she was contagious when she was on the plane.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: How do you know? How would he know if someone was not contagious when they're on the plane, how do we know that?

YASMIN: So the thing with viruses, it's important to know that yes, you can shed virus when you don't have any symptoms and that might be the case here. Of course, this is a quickly changing situation, we're learning new data and new clinical information every day.

But with viruses, you're more likely to be contagious once you have symptoms because that means two things. One, you're already sick so it means that you have more virus inside of your body. But, two, you're doing more things like sneezing and coughing, and that's what really helps a virus launch from your body to other people, so that's what we need to keep in mind there.

SCIUTTO: I see. So not entirely un-contagious, just less contagious --

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: -- before. Dr. Yasmin --

YASMIN: That's right.

SCIUTTO: -- that's why we bring the -- that's why we bring the doctors on to give us the questions --

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: -- thanks very much.

YASMIN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: We are getting new information, sad information from Nashville, Tennessee. We've learned now that the death toll from that overnight tornado that struck when people were still in their beds is now rising.

[10:45:06]

HARLOW: Let's go back to our Amara Walker in Nashville with more. So what is the death toll now?

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's in the dozens right now. And metro Nashville police just tweeted, a few minutes ago, that two people were killed by debris in the streets. Their identities, though, have not yet been released.

Also, search-and-rescue efforts are ongoing right now. Firefighters and search-and-rescue teams are going door to door -- or what's left of these buildings -- hoping to find some survivors.

But here in East Nashville, in the Five Points business district, people are still continuing to come out to survey the damage, and they're telling me that they're just in complete shock. That this business district, a popular area, has basically -- is no more. You can see the windows have been blown out, the businesses are empty right now, the second floor, the business up there, what used to be, now hollow.

And also if you look across the street here, you can see this building as well, the shingles on the roof blew off, these power lines are still dangling. Work crews are here on the street, people coming out to take a look at the damage.

They are trying to restore some of the power, but tens of thousands of people still remain without power -- Poppy, Jim, back to you.

HARLOW: Just devastating, Amara.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Nineteen dead.

HARLOW: Yes. And that -- could go up, that's the concern. Thank you very much. Amara.

Coming up top of the hour, there will be a press conference from local officials in Putnam County there, where 14 people were killed by that storm. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:51:06]

HARLOW: It is Super Tuesday. The two top prizes in terms of delegate count, of course California followed by Texas. They are a combined -- wow, 643 delegates up for grabs between those two states today.

SCIUTTO: Let's bring in Rusty Hicks, he's the chair of the California Democratic Party. As you know, Rusty, Sanders built an impressive operation in California, not matched by Joe Biden. Sanders supporters, they've protested. They even protested outside your home there, warning the Democratic Party against interference. I wonder, what is your response to Sanders' supporters who see the party now working against them as folks line up behind Joe Biden?

RUSTY HICKS, CHAIRMAN, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, I think, first of all, a happy Super Tuesday. It's such an important and exciting day for all of us, not only here in California but across the country.

SCIUTTO: Sure.

HICKS: But I would just simply say that we are all committed to the same objective, to the same mission, to improve the lives of all Americans, and to ensure that we get a change in the White House. I think we are all committed, dedicated to that mission and I believe that after our convention in Milwaukee in July, that we're going to be a unified force and see that change in the White House that we're looking for.

HARLOW: With so much early voting, how much do you think big-name endorsements matter in the final push, like what we saw Joe Biden get, those three big endorsements from his competitors last night?

HICKS: You know, I think it remains to be seen. I mean, here in California, we've had nearly 4 million ballots that have already been cast --

HARLOW: Yes.

HICKS: -- but that means there are millions of ballots that are still out there. And I think a lot of voters here in California have held onto their ballot, understanding that there are so many plot twists and turns in this story. And so I think you're going to see a big turnout today, here in California.

SCIUTTO: Is this a case where early voting causes in a problem in effect, right? That folks cast their vote before all of the developments were in, in effect, given that South Carolina gave them new information, that is, that Joe Biden is apparently a viable candidate?

HICKS: Well, look, I think we should give every opportunity to working people to have their voice heard at the ballot box. That's why California has time and time again bent over backwards to make it easier, not harder, to vote.

The reality is, is that, you know, Election Day should be a national holiday in my view --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HICKS: -- and you know, it's a Tuesday, it's a work day. And for working people to have their voice heard is incredibly important.

So I think here in California, we believe in a thorough, accurate and fair count. It's not always a fast one, but we believe it's the best one.

HARLOW: We got about 30 seconds left, and I just wonder if you could explain what you've seen in terms of the ground games there. Bloomberg, so much money in California, so many offices. Same with Sanders. And if you believe -- you know, "The New York Times'" reporting last week was that Joe Biden's just paled in comparison.

HICKS: Well, I would say a crowded field on the Democratic side of the aisle. And the large number of delegates that California has, has resulted in grassroots leaders across California, having the opportunity to see these candidates up-close and personal. That's something that we've not had and not seen in prior years, and so moving the primary election up to March 3rd, to Super Tuesday, has really given Californians the opportunity to see these candidates up- close. And that's been an exciting development for our party.

SCIUTTO: Rusty Hicks, chairman of the California Democratic Party, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Good luck today.

HICKS: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: Thanks, Rusty.

Stay with CNN all day, of course. We have special live coverage of Super Tuesday throughout the day. And tonight, we'll see you back here with some results --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: -- tomorrow morning, we hope. I'm Poppy Harlow.

[10:55:02]

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:00:09]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, AT THIS HOUR: Hello, everyone --