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Conservative Virginia Republican Votes for Joe Biden; Fear of Coronavirus Spread Hang Over Super Tuesday in California; New York Magazine Writer Says Elizabeth Warren Should Endorse Bernie Sanders. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired March 3, 2020 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We need to have more stringent containment measures to stop the virus from spreading and --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we're being very stringent but we're now looking at other countries that have been badly affected and we're thinking about doing something we may have to do. But we don't want to do that, but we're looking at other countries and we're being very stringent.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Like the European Union countries?
TRUMP: Now I'm going, but I'll be back and I'll see you all over there. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: We're not looking at that at all, no. There's only one hot spot, and that's also pretty much in a very -- in a home, as you know, in a nursing home.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) downplaying the virus?
TRUMP: No, not at all. No, not at all. But we're doing a fantastic job. The professionals are doing a great job. We're really happy with the job they're doing. They have -- they have been just ahead of it, and we're ahead of it by having stopped so much earlier than -- nobody wanted us to cut off access to our country, and I did it early. By doing that, that was a big step, otherwise many more people would be infected.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE). Is that the right move? (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: That's a tough move.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) your rally --
TRUMP: When did they announce that? A little while ago?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes.
TRUMP: That's a tough move. No, I'm not prepared for that but let them do what they want to do. I'm hearing more and more about that. I don't think it would be necessary, no.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What other countries, sir?
TRUMP: That's too bad. Jeff, go ahead, question?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) cutting off travel to and from Italy and South Korea? (INAUDIBLE) --
TRUMP: We're watching Italy very closely, South Korea very closely, even Japan, very closely, and we'll make the right determination at the right time. We've cut it off, as you know, with numerous other countries. OK?
TRUMP: Say it?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Any other countries you're considering cutting off from?
TRUMP: They are the hotspots right now. OK?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, (INAUDIBLE) --
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: President Trump there just speaking on the coronavirus saying that he is considering cutting off travel to coronavirus hotspots, as we learned from the CDC today that the U.S. may be seeing, quote, "the beginning of what is happening abroad in terms of an outbreak.""
Much more on this ahead. But on this Super Tuesday, Joe Biden is making a big play for supporters of his former fellow candidates turned endorsers, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke. But he's also getting support from some more unlikely sources, who are actually crossing party lines. Conservative Republican Matt Lewis tweeting this morning that he is casting a primary vote for Joe Biden, adding, to fellow Republicans, you should, too, and saying this isn't operation chaos, it's operation normalcy.
Lewis laying out why he's cross party lines in his "Daily Beast" piece, "This Virginia Conservative Republican is Riding with Biden."
Matt Lewis is with me now. So have you -- as a conservative Republican, have you held your nose and voted Democrat today, Matt?
MATT LEWIS, AUTHOR, "THIS VIRGINIA CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN IS RIDING WITH BIDEN": Yes, I have. I voted this afternoon.
BALDWIN: How did it feel?
LEWIS: It felt surprisingly good. It was weird. I've never voted in a Democratic primary before. First time for everything, but it felt good because I'm confident that this was the right move. And as a conservative it was the right move.
BALDWIN: Why did you do it?
LEWIS: Well, look, I think that the worst possible scenario is we get to November, and you have Donald Trump who's a right-wing nationalist against Bernie Sanders, a socialist, and those are your two choices, a nationalist versus a socialist. I can't stop Donald Trump now. He's not -- you know, you can't beat him in a primary. We tried that four years ago, but what you can do is stop Bernie Sanders.
There is a guy named Joe Biden who I think is by far the most conservative who has a chance to win. There's a thing called the Buckley Rule that Bill Buckley used to tell people to do. It was for a general election admittedly, vote for the most conservative candidate who had a chance to win. I actually think that today the most conservative candidate with a chance to win is Joe Biden.
BALDWIN: So is this just your warmup in voting Democrat? I mean, for the people watching, they're wondering what are you doing in November?
LEWIS: Yes, that's a very good question, Brooke, and I tell you it's probably an unsatisfying answer for Democrats who are liking me today. I probably won't vote at all, and the reason is I actually view primaries differently, and some people will say this is inconsistent, but in my mind, what I did today was a vote of conscience to stop Bernie Sanders, a guy who has been an apologist for, you know, communist, socialist regimes, that committed atrocities, that had gulags that committed human rights abuses.
I'm helping stop Bernie Sanders today. That's different from voting in November for a --
BALDWIN: Matt, it is --
LEWIS: For a Democrat -- for a Democrat who would advocate things that I don't agree with.
BALDWIN: It is totally inconsistent. I mean, explain how you're able to put aside your Republican values today, like right to life and vote for a Democrat in a primary, yet somehow that's OK with you on Super Tuesday, but you can't do that in the general election.
LEWIS: It's a tough one, Brooke, admittedly. This is something I wrestled with. I really went back and forth. Ethically is this the right thing for me to do? Am I meddling in their campaign, and if I vote in the primary, am I then compelled to vote in the general? I think today is about stopping Bernie Sanders, someone that I can sleep well tonight knowing that I tried to do that. In November, I don't view that as a lesser of two evils binary choice.
I view my vote in November as an endorsement of somebody, and as somebody who's pro-life, I won't feel -- I don't think I'm going to feel comfortable in November voting for Joe Biden, someone whose administration would pursue an agenda that I don't agree with.
BALDWIN: But given all of the articles, I just have to push you on this, you know.
BALDWIN: All of the times we've talked on TV about how much you have criticized Donald Trump, if you sit out in November and let the other guys, you know, sit at home and hope for the best, how do you -- how can you still exercise your vote to just -- or your voice in speaking up and criticizing the president if you don't vote?
LEWIS: Well, luckily for me I have a column. I have Twitter, I have my CNN appearances. But most -- I get it, most people don't have that --
LEWIS: Privilege to have that.
LEWIS: That outlet. So it's a little bit unfair for me to say that good for me but not for thee. Look, this is just a really, really tough choice. I think that voting in November is more of an endorsement. I did not vote in 2016, and I continued to criticize Donald Trump when he deserved it for the last four years. That was a tough decision I made, but I decided I could not in good conscience vote for Hillary based on ideology, based on the fact that I profoundly disagree with her agenda philosophically.
BALDWIN: I got you. I got you.
LEWIS: But I couldn't vote for Trump because of character and a lot of other stuff.
BALDWIN: OK. Well, congratulations today, I say that in jest.
Matt Lewis, it's a totally interesting position you're in.
LEWIS: It is weird.
BALDWIN: And -- I'm sure it was, Matt Lewis, always appreciate hearing your perspective and your side of things. Thank you very much.
I do want to pivot back to the breaking news here on the coronavirus. Within minutes of the CDC warning that the U.S. is on the cusp of seeing what's happening abroad in terms of the coronavirus outbreak, we are learning now of an eighth person who has died in Washington state. We have news on that. Stay with me.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:42:12]
BALDWIN: Here's the breaking news on coronavirus. Officials in Washington state are now confirming the death toll has risen to eight people. The total number of cases in the state also jumping to 21. It comes as the CDC warns that we are likely to see a spike in domestic cases. California is also reporting a new case today bringing the number of confirmed cases there to 20. This is happening as voters head to crowded polling stations and touch heavily used voting machines.
It's important to remember Solano County, California, is the first case of coronavirus community spread in the U.S. meaning the patient did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient. And that's why I wanted to talk to John Gardner today. He is the assistant registrar in California's Solano County, about 50 miles north and east of San Francisco.
And so, John, thank you for coming on, and I know you all are breaking out all of the measures, precautionary measures for voters in your county to stay healthy, but also exercise that First Amendment right to vote. Walk me through all those measures in place.
JOHN GARDNER, ASSISTANT REGISTRAR OF VOTERS IN SOLANO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Sure, so for Solano County, about 80 percent of our voters already vote by mail, so a lot of voters already have ballots in their hands at their home. We've provided additional options for voters to drop off those ballots at places where they don't have to be in a public space. And it's really precautionary measure.
We always have curbside drop-offs outside of our building and in one of our major cities, but we've added an additional location in the Vacaville area, it's another one of our major cities where voters can stay in their car. They just hand the ballot out the window to a poll worker and they will drop it in a secure ballot box for them.
That's probably the biggest measure that we've taken. But we've also reminded our poll places that those also serve as a curbside drop-off and we have a phone that sits outside the polling where the voters can call a phone number and somebody would bring a ballot out to them or a ballot box to drop the ballot off them.
BALDWIN: Wow, call a number. It's almost like drive-through voting just to stay safe. And I hear you on the 80 percent mail-in voting so that, you know, I'm sure it eases a lot of concerns for folks. But for the people who are physically voting today, how concerned are you that they may stay home just out of fear and what would your message be to them, John?
GARDNER: Well, currently we don't have any calls from voters or our co-workers saying that they're concerned. We have provided hand sanitizers to all of our polling places, additional wipes to wipe down the machines, disinfecting wipes, and gloves to our poll workers as well. So we're following CDC recommendations for good hygiene around these public spaces and encouraging wiping off voting equipment as much as possible. So we understand things seem business as usual for us and voters are
turning out like normal without concerns about any incidents.
BALDWIN: Listen, no news is good news. I hope you get no phone calls and all is smooth sailing today, John Gardner, in Solano County, California. Thank you so much for the update there.
We are getting some news just in, Senate Democrats emerging from a briefing with the vice president and his task force and those lawmakers say the United States is not ready for an outbreak. Stand by for that news.
BALDWIN: As support is coalescing behind Joe Biden in the moderate lane of the Democratic Party, Elizabeth Warren is facing some pressure to do for Sanders what Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar did for the former vice president.
"New York" magazine writer Sarah Jones says it bluntly today, "It is time for Elizabeth Warren to drop out," and Sarah Jones is with me now.
SARAH JONES, WRITER, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Why do you think she should bounce?
JONES: The main reason is that the math just isn't there right now, and I think it's still possible for her to really exceed expectations tonight and maybe do a little bit better than the polls sort of indicate that she is. But even if that happens, I think she's so far behind in the delegate count, it's really hard to make the case that she's a viable candidate.
BALDWIN: And you know what I'm about to say, but the Elizabeth Warren supporters will say, you know, slow your roll, Elizabeth, because she has been fierce in recent debates, really taking on billionaire Mike Bloomberg, that she's the woman who truly has a plan for that, that she has spent hours and hours shaking hands and taking selfies with so many people in the crowds. You know, if she financially can keep the lights on, why not hang in there?
JONES: I mean, there is a lot for progressives to admire about Warren and the campaign that she's run. She has been fantastic in the debates, but she hasn't really shown the potential to expand her base outside white-college educated voters, and I think that's really been a problem for her.
BALDWIN: You think back to 2016 and Senator Bernie Sanders was the one who stayed in perhaps a tad bit longer than Hillary Clinton would have liked. And at the time were you in favor of him staying in?
JONES: You know, I think the math is a little bit different this time around with so many candidates in the race. I don't think it was ever realistic, for example, that Sanders was going to potentially cost Hillary Clinton the nomination of the Democratic Party. But if you were a progressive right now, I mean, you do face a more difficult choice, and we do see the math sort of changing where moderates are coalescing around Biden in this way, and he is surging so if you are a progressive and that's your agenda, and you have causes that you care about, you face a really difficult decision right now.
BALDWIN: Your final point is that she should, you know, get out and make a difference and support Senator Sanders. You write, "Sanders performs poorly with the white-college educated voters that make up the bulk of Warren's base. If she can make the case for Sanders, she will help build a progressive front against moneyed and well-organized moderate force. The time to do so is now."
Quickly, will Warren's base go to Sanders if she does this?
JONES: You know, I don't think it's necessarily the case that a Warren voter is going to magically become a Sanders voter, but Warren is a really persuasive communicator and I think she can make the case to her supporters, that if you want Medicare for All, if you want big structural change, then your interests are aligned with the working- class coalition that has formed around Sanders and not the coalition that's forming around Biden.
BALDWIN: Sarah Jones, thank you.
JONES: Thank you.
BALDWIN: New headlines in the coronavirus outbreak. The president says he is considering cutting off travel to hotspot countries. At least eight people have now died in Washington state and the CDC is warning the U.S. is on the cusp of what's happening abroad. Stand by for more news there.
BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, this fiery exchange between a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the White House, and it's all over President Trump's tax returns. This is just the latest battle in a months' long war over those documents with the committee chairman requested last April. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused and the Justice Department later agreed with him despite a subpoena.
In December, the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case, but today this was the scene on Capitol Hill between Secretary Mnuchin and New Jersey Democrat Brad -- excuse me, Bill Pascrell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BILL PASCRELL (D-NJ): By refusing to turn over Donald Trump's personal and business tax returns to this committee, I think you're breaking law. You had no legitimate legal rationale. We've learned recently that simultaneously you've been offering documents to the loyal opposition, but two Republican senators asked you for the private financial information of Joe Biden's family, your department practically tripped over themselves to provide it. You sent it over to them so fast, wonder if you stuffed it in a Federal Express envelope.
So you refused to turn over the president's tax returns to us, which is required by law. It says shall, it doesn't say might. I'll give you the citation. Again, and you're familiar with this section, I know you are. It's right on the screen. There it is. That's the law. Your stated reasons for stonewalling our request, you never cite any superseding legal basis. The only thing you suffer is smug rhetoric and staggering lies.
I told you what the law is, word for word. It's right there. Tell me the specific statute that allows you to overrule 26 USC 6103 F 1A at your whim? Tell me what statute. Please.
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: So first of all, let me just comment --
PASCRELL: I asked a question, Mr. Secretary.
MNUCHIN: No, no, I'm commenting because I find it offensive that you're telling me --