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Democrats Face Big Test on Super Tuesday; Coronavirus Cases Top 100 in the U.S.; Netanyahu Claims Victory, But Can He Form A Government? Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 3, 2020 - 04:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Fourteen states, a third of the delegates, Bernie Sanders hoping to run away from the field this Super Tuesday. But Joe Biden and his new supporters have other plans.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And Wall Street with a huge rally, bouncing back after an awful week. Can stocks keep the momentum? As coronavirus cases in the U.S. top 100.

ROMANS: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

Good morning.

KOSIK: Good morning to you.

I'm Alison Kosik. It is Super Tuesday, March 3rd. It's 4:00 a.m. in New York.

ROMANS: All right. It's the biggest day in the race for Democratic nomination. Super Tuesday, 14 states going to the polls this morning with one-third of all delegates up for grabs. In just the last few days, the field has narrowed considerably with moderates beginning to coalesce behind Joe Biden. The former vice president winning several key endorsements, including from former rivals.

KOSIK: Coordinated efforts to stop Bernie Sanders, now thrust into public view. After months of behind-the-scenes maneuvering, one important question: could establishment support for Biden backfire and rile up Sanders' supporters, who disdain the powers that be?

ROMANS: Sanders remains a front-runner in many of the big state states voting today like California. He is fond of denouncing the 1 percent. But the big number today is 15 percent. Candidates must reach a threshold vote of 15 percent to win any delegates.

To see why that is important, think back to Nevada. When other candidates failed to reach 15 percent, they were excluded. And Sanders won 2/3 of delegates with only 40 percent of the popular vote.

Arlette Saenz begins our coverage on the trail with Biden in Dallas.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: On the eve of Super Tuesday, Joe Biden here in Texas trying to project a message of strength and unity, as three of his former rivals met with him here and officially endorsed his presidential campaign.

It's been quite the turn of events for Joe Biden over the course of the past few days, starting with that decisive victory in South Carolina. And now, Biden is trying to coalesce the moderate support in this race. Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O'Rourke, who dropped out of the raise months ago, joined him in Dallas to offer their endorsements.

Take a listen to the events.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm looking for a leader. I'm looking for a president who will draw out what is best in each of us. And I'm encouraging everybody who is part of my campaign to join me because we have found that leader in vice president, soon to be president, Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I look over at Pete during the debates. And I think -- I think, you know, that's a Beau, because he has such enormous character, such intellectual capacity, and such a commitment to other people.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Joe Biden has dedicated his life to fighting for people. Not for the rich and the powerful, but for the mom, for the farmer, for the Dreamer, for the builder, for the veteran.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The man in the White House today poses an existential threat to this country, to our democracy, to free and fair elections.


And we need somebody who can beat him. And, in Joe Biden, we have that man.

BIDEN: Most Americans don't want the promise of a revolution. They want results. They want revival of decency, honor, and character.

SAENZ: Now, Biden is hoping to, soon, turn this into a two-person race between himself and Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is the current leader in delegates, and he is looking to amass an insurmountable lead when it comes to delegates on Super Tuesday.

Now, Super Tuesday is the biggest night on the Democratic primary calendar with more than 1,300 delegates up for grabs across 14 states including delegate-rich California, and right here in Texas where Joe Biden was campaigning Monday.

Biden will spend Tuesday in California, at an event in Oakland, before rallying with supporters in Los Angeles where he hopes to have a successful Super Tuesday night.

Back to you.


KOSIK: OK. Arlette, thank you.

Today, Bernie Sanders is determined to parlay anti-establishment anger into commanding -- a commanding delegate lead.

Ryan Nobles is on the campaign trail in St. Paul, Minnesota.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Bernie Sanders finished his sprint to Super Tuesday with a massive rally here in Minnesota. And this turned out to be a significant stop for Sanders because, on the same day that he was in this state, the state's senator, Amy Klobuchar, announced that she was getting out of the race for president and backing one of his rivals Joe Biden.

Now, Sanders has for some time been preparing for this moderate wing of the party to coalesce in opposition of his campaign. That, now, seems like it's starting to happen. Sanders talked about the moderates coming after him. The establishment, as he calls it, coming after him and he said he was prepared.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not just the corporate establish. That's getting nervous. The political establishment is getting nervous.

I want to open the door to Amy's supporters, to Pete's supporters.


I know that there are political differences. But I also know that, virtually, all of Amy's support and Pete's support understand that we have got to move toward a government, which believes in justice, not greed.


NOBLES: So, it turns out Minnesota's going to be an interesting part of this story and this crazy day in the campaign because while there's no doubt a long-term advantage to Joe Biden and the moderate wing of the party, with Amy Klobuchar getting out of this race, there is absolutely a short-term advantage to Bernie Sanders. With Klobuchar not competing here in her home state, that increases Sanders' chances of winning here on Super Tuesday and it is something his campaign believes can happen. And the evidence of the big crowd here today looks like it is certainly possible.

We'll send it back to you.


ROMANS: All right. Ryan Nobles in St. Paul for us.

There are now more than 100 cases of coronavirus in the United States. That includes the first two cases in Georgia. One of them traveled to Milan, Italy, the epicenter of the European outbreak. That person returned to the U.S. through Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson Airport. That's the busiest in the nation.

Six people have now died in Washington state. Four were residents at the life care center nursing facility in Kirkland, a Seattle suburb. Four other cases are also linked to the facility.

Twenty-six firefighters and two police officers from Kirkland are quarantined because they were exposed to infected patients.

KOSIK: Schools in several districts to remain -- in several districts remain closed today to prevent the spread of the virus. Sure to check your local websites before heading out. In San Antonio, officials lost a legal fight to keep evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined. Concerns were raised after one woman was released, then, later, found to have coronavirus.

For those still isolated at Lackland Air Force Base, the anger and frustration is beginning to boil over.


CHERYL MOLESKY, EVACUEE FROM THE DIAMOND PRINCESS: You can't take a drive if you feel like it. You can't talk to your friends very easily. You know, just all those things that -- all the little freedoms that you take so for granted, we just don't have here.


ROMANS: The U.S. surgeon general saying caution is appropriate, preparedness is appropriate, panic is not. President Trump meeting with pharmaceutical executives and members of his coronavirus task force. He was contradicted by his own health expert over the timing for a potential vaccine.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've heard very quick numbers. A matter of months. And I've heard pretty much a year would be an outside number. You're talking about three to four months in a couple of cases.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIH: Make sure you get the president information that a vaccine that you make and start testing in a year is not a vaccine that's deployable. So he is asking the question, when is it going to be deployable?


And that is going to be, at the earliest, going to be a year to a year and a half.


ROMANS: The president asked, pointblank, whether you could use the regular flu vaccine to protect against coronavirus. And those pharmaceutical experts there had to instruct the president that, no, you cannot. You use different vaccines for different strains of viruses.

KOSIK: It certainly felt like the president was getting schooled in that meeting.

ROMANS: Yes, carefully and diplomatically schooled.

KOSIK: Yes, federal officials are pressing airlines to collect and share more data on international travelers. That would help health officials follow up with potential carriers of the virus or fellow passengers who may have come into contact with an infected person.

ROMANS: All right. Ten minutes past the hour this Tuesday morning.

After a terrible, horrible last week, stocks kicked off this week with a rebound. The Dow closed up nearly, get this, 1,293 points. That is, you're right, the biggest point-gain you have ever seen on that -- on that stock market. On a percentage basis, that is a 5 percent gain. The best day since March 2009. Remember, when the market was bounce back after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The S&P 500, the Nasdaq, both finished more than 4 percent higher. This rally now takes us out of correction territory.

Let's take a look at futures right now to see if markets are able to build on this gain. At least for now, it looks leak a little bit of optimism in futures.

Checking global markets, how is the globe reacting? You have mixed performance in Asian shares but European shares are following the U.S. lead. And those are up at least 2 percent a piece.

Now, headlines about the coronavirus are pushing and pulling investors. The OECD warned the outbreak could slow down global growth. The global economy, already reeling from trade and political tensions, the OECD said.

There is hope the world's central banks will ride to the rescue here, and there's optimism inside the White House that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates. Officials believe the central bank could cut rates before its next meeting. An emergency rate cut is rare and has the risk of sending a different signal. The signal that things are worse than the White House thinks.

Meanwhile, more companies are limiting travel and urging people to work from home. Twitter has suspended all noncritical business travel and events, and is urging all of its employees to work from home. Facebook has backed out of south by southwest in Austin. Warner Brothers has cancelled the New York premiere of its new animated film. And British Airways is cancelling several flights, including 12 roundtrips from Heathrow to JFK as lack of demand weighs on the airline industry. Those cancellations begin March 16th.

KOSIK: All right. Benjamin Netanyahu projected to win the Israeli election. So can he form a coalition to govern? Or does gridlock prevail again?

CNN is live in Jerusalem.



KOSIK: Nothing official yet, but initial exit polls project Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party as the winner of Israeli's latest election. But he still needs to find partners to form a coalition government.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is live for us in Jerusalem.

Oren, hello to you. Has Netanyahu addressed the issue of being able to find those extra seats, how he expects to secure those?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when he gave his victory speech last night in Tel Aviv, completely skipped over the fact that at this point it appears he doesn't have the necessary seats to form a government coalition. Instead, he focused on the head to head results between his Likud Party and his rival, Benny Gantz's Blue and White Party.

And here is the project right now based on 90 percent of the votes counted, it is Likud at 36 seats and blue and white at 32 seats, a significant margin of difference, and it's based on these numbers that Netanyahu claimed victory, saying that he defied all the odds, despite the fact that he is indicted on charges of bribery and fraud and breach of trust and that trial begins in two weeks. It is his party that's on track to be the biggest party.

But on the equally crucial question of does he have a path to the coalition of 61 seats? As of right now, that answer appears to be maybe not. Initial exit polls had him at 60 seats, which is where he was in April, when he then failed the former government, they have since been updated to put him at 59 seats, one seat farther away from that magic number of 61 and being able to claim outright victory.

That raises a few possibilities. First, Israel may well be in store for more political deadlock and that is what it looks like right now as nobody else has a clear path to 61. It also raises the possibility that Netanyahu's victory speech last night to an adoring crowd may have, once again, been premature.

There is a long day and week of counting ballots ahead of us and that will be crucial here as this election is so close.

Alison, one other thing worth noting, Trump administration's Middle East peace plan and the hatred of it on the Arab Street has galvanized their vote. They jumped up two sets from 13 to 15, a significant gain.

KOSIK: All right. CNN's Oren Liebermann, live for us in Jerusalem, thanks.

ROMANS: All right. Nineteen minutes past the hour. Mounting gaffes force a cable news icon into retirement.



KOSIK: Breaking news. This huge tornado ripping through parts of Nashville overnight. Severe damage and multiple injuries are being reported.

The Nashville Fire Department is responding to about 40 structure collapses. Nashville has partly activated its emergency operation center. And later today, the National Weather Service will survey the damage and confirm the tornado's intensity.

ROMANS: A stunning announcement from one of the country's best-known political talk show hosts.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Let me start with my headline tonight. I'm retiring. This is the last "Hardball" on MSNBC and obviously this isn't for lack of interest in politics. As you can tell, I have loved every minute of my years as host of "Hardball."


ROMANS: MSNBC's Chris Matthews stepping down from "Hardball" effective immediately, as he just said. He's hosted the show for more than 20 years. Matthews has been under fire for comparing the Bernie Sanders campaign to Nazis and for misidentifying an African-American politician, claims of inappropriate conduct that have dogged him for years also resurfaced last week. "GQ" columnist Laura Bassett accused him of making sexist remarks when she was a guest on his show in 2016.

A replacement for Matthews has not been announced.

KOSIK: An apology for Los Angeles County D.A. Jackie Lacey after her husband pointed a gun at Black Lives Matter protestors outside their home.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get off of my porch.



KOSIK: That video of Lacey's husband David was recorded early Monday morning. Black Lives Matter protestors say they showed up at her home for a community meeting they were promised but never received. Lacey is up for re-election today in a Democratic primary. ROMANS: NASA is looking to hire new astronauts for its next big

mission to go back to the moon. They're hoping to send another man and the first woman to the moon by 2024, and from there, to Mars by the mid-2030s.

The last time NASA took astronaut applications in 2015, guess what? More than 18,000 people applied.

KOSIK: Good side gig. Go for it.

ROMANS: I don't think I have the math chops for that job, unfortunately.

Today will offer the most clarity yet on the 2020 Democratic race. A third of pledge delegates up for grabs. Can Joe Biden's momentum and Mike Bloomberg's millions slow Bernie Sanders?