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Millions Of Voters Head To The Polls In 14 States; Six Dead, Dozens Hurt After Tornado Rips Through Nashville; Sanders Faces Pivotal Clash With Democratic Establishment. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 3, 2020 - 07:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: All right, this is the biggest day in the 2020 election so far. It is Super Tuesday. Our coverage continues right now.

CAMEROTA: We're starting the show.

David Gregory won't stop talking and that's how excited he is to be here. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, this is New Day.

BERMAN: And we are starting the show.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we are. And Super Tuesday is here. Millions of voters in 14 states head to the polls. Today is high stakes, 1,300 delegates up for grabs. California, Texas and North Carolina have the most delegates. But for Joe Biden it was a Super Monday. He picked up a slew of endorsements with an extraordinary boost from three of his former Democratic rivals.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm encouraging everybody who was part of my campaign to join me because we have found that leader in Vice President, soon to be President Joe Biden.

BETO O'ROUKE (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need somebody who can beat Donald Trump. And in Joe Biden, we have that man.

AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am ending my campaign and endorsing Joe Biden for president.


CAMEROTA: Bernie Sanders still leads in the delegate count and he's hoping to build on that with some big wins tonight.

BERMAN: All right, we do have breaking news this morning. At least six people are dead after a powerful tornado tore through the Nashville area early this morning. There are dozens of people injured. We are just getting an assessment right now and severe damage clearly. We have new video just in from the moment the tornado touched down at a local T.V. station.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is. Go inside now, now, get inside.


BERMAN: See the transformer explosion there. All schools in Nashville will be closed today. Officials are surveying damage at polling sites. Tennessee is a Super Tuesday state. As of now, they insist that polling stations will be open. We're going to have more on the tornado damage in a moment.

But we are going to begin with Super Tuesday. People are voting, lining up already in Virginia.

CNN's Brian Todd is, where, Falls Church, Virginia. Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, John. In Falls Church, Virginia. This is district 705, Graham Road Elementary School, a steady stream of pre-rush hour voters have come through here. We expect it to be pretty dynamic all day long. But what's interesting is, the changing nature of the field of candidates in the race has changed the dynamic on the ground. It may very well be changing the dynamic on the ground among voters at least in this precinct, John.

My producer Brad Hodges and I have sampled dozens of voters as they have come out or come into the polling place here. And what many of them said is that they were going to support Joe Biden because Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the race and because they endorsed Joe Biden. Also some of them said that Biden's win in South Carolina gave them more of a sense of his viability as a candidate. So that's interesting.

You know, when we talk to people, they freely say, that Joe Biden is someone who they're thinking more about now, they're saying, that, again, with Buttigieg dropping out, him not being around and him endorsing Joe Biden, and all of this happened over the last 48 hours.

So that could very well be changing the dynamic on the ground here in Virginia. It is such a crucial state because it has, you know, swung blue, at least in Northern Virginia, has turned more Democratic since President Trump took office.

Hillary Clinton did beat Bernie Sanders by a wide margin here in Falls Church and in Fairfax and in Northern Virginia in 2016. Can Bernie Sanders turn that around and, you know, capitalize on his momentum here in Virginia?

But right now, among many of the voters we've sampled here, as they come in and register here and then they vote in these booths over here, there's a gentleman registering right there, a lot of them telling us that, again, the changing dynamic of the race just in the last 48 hours has changed their minds about who they're going to vote for. Guys?

CAMEROTA: Really interesting, Brian. Thank you very much for giving us a pulse on what's happening at that polling place.

Joining us now is CNN Political Analyst David Gregory, who is raring to go (ph), CNN Political Correspondent, Abby Phillip, CNN Political Commentator and Democratic Strategist, Paul Begala, and CNN Contributor and New York Times Contributing Op-Ed Writer, Wajahat Ali.

Paul, I do want to start with you before David only because I read in the notes you said that last night, you've never seen anything like it. You've never seen anything like, what we saw in terms of rivals coming so quickly coming to the aid of one of their -- 48 hours earlier, rivals, 24 hours earlier, including the winner of the Iowa caucus before Super Tuesday.


PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's unbelievable. I take that back. I have seen it once. Secret service took me out to their training academy where they go 100 miles an hour in this one direction and then they do a J-turn and they flip around and go 70 miles the other direction. It's a phenomenal. I threw up in the presidential limo when they did that. But that's what this is.

And for these people, these are human beings, Amy and Pete. They've been going this way. And everybody, Amy, and you've got to turn like that. I thought they showed real grace. It's easy to accept the endorsements. It's hard to give it. It's really something to see that kind of coming together for a guy whose advertising budget across 14 states is $1.5 million. I mean, it is incredible.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's funny that, Brian Todd, was in Falls Church where a couple of days ago, Pete Buttigieg had a rally, 2,000 plus people in obviously Northern Virginia, very liberal, but a lot of people. He was in Nashville, Tennessee, 3,000 people. These are candidates who, up until the very last second, were drawing thousands of people at their crowds and then suddenly it was over. And that really shows you the sense of urgency that has really overtaken this race.

Saturday morning, I would say, a lot of these candidates were looking to go forward at least through Super Tuesday. When they saw the scope and the breadth of what Joe Biden did in South Carolina, it changes the calculus and it also makes it very important to not look like you're going to be the guy who is the spoiler in this race. There are a lot of people who could potentially be spoilers. I think Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg are particular did not want to be those --

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. There's also a real fear factor in the Democratic Party. You know, they want to narrow the field and they want to challenge Bernie. I mean, both because they are afraid he can't beat Trump or he's going to hurt the party down ballot. And so, you know, this moderate middle is reasserting itself. There's still specter of Bloomberg being a spoiler. But, yes, I do think it's interesting because, you know, Biden had a bigger than expected win. He's recast the race. And they're still -- you know, we wake up this morning looking -- you know, like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, who want -- we want answers.

WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: But we can handle the truth.

BERMAN: David was at the --

ALI: You can't handle the truth.

GREGORY: That was the thing that I wanted to say and I forgot, and now I was able to say it.

ALI: I was waiting for it.

GREGORY: It's not as good as The Avengers, but it's what I got.

ALI: But early '90s, it's fine.

GREGORY: Early 90s is fine. It's pop culture. But we want answers and voters are finally going to provide some answers because we don't know, right? We have not been able to predict how the race gets recast. And that's why tonight is a big test. Can build on what was extraordinary last night.

BERMAN: So Bernie Sanders was asked to respond to everything we saw last night. And his response on CNN was basically, bring it. Listen to this.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is no secret. I mean, The Washington Post had 16 articles today on this that there is a massive effort trying to stop Bernie Sanders. That's not a secret to anybody in this room. The corporate establishment is coming together. The political establishment is coming together and they will do everything. They are really getting nervous that working people are standing up.


BERMAN: So, in a way, the more who line up behind Joe Biden, it's strengthens Senator Sanders on his argument, yes?

CAMEROTA: Or it allows him to say that.

ALI: Do you want the truth?


BERMAN: You can't handle the truth.

ALI: That was for you. That was for you. The truth is this, that Bernie Sanders is a force in the Democratic Party. He has built up a grassroots base for the last five years. He has amassed $46 million more so than any other candidate, excluding, of course, Lex Luthor, Michael Bloomberg. And the fact is the following. This is my concern and my fear. When you get to the convention, you will need a merge between Bernie's base and the quote, unquote, establishment, whatever that is.

And if this civil war continues, this is going to be disastrous for the Democratic Party, it will be a repeat of 2016, worse. And so this kind of Bernie versus the establishment, it helps Bernie and his base because right now, he is leading with the delegates. I think he will emerge as the leader with the delegates after today where a third already decided. And the establishment really has to ask itself, do we want to alienate his very passionate base that will show up for Bernie Sanders and is bitter from 2016?

BEGALA: And vice versa. He has two answers. Two, actually. The first was the one on CNN, which is the establishment, which is hilarious. The guy has been in office 41 years and he's like saying some state right in Dallas who endorses Biden as an establishment. I think it's preposterous. Far better answer at his rally, come on in, the door is open, welcoming. This is a game of addition, Bernie. You've got to bring people in.

So he did both last night. And if I were his adviser, I'd say --

BERMAN: But is really come in? Is that really consistently with Senator Sanders' messages?

BEGALA: No, he needs to do -- I'm just giving free advice here. He needs to -- I do think he's always a guy who's needed the Death Star. He's the insurgent. But he's the frontrunner now and he needs to be welcoming people in. There are two kinds of churches, those who hunt down heretics and those who seek out converts.


He needs to be evangelistic about this.

GREGORY: Right. But, look, what has Donald Trump shown? That you could be president of the United States and still be the outsider all the time. I mean, I think that's who Trump still is. He's considered the outsider.

I do think Bernie is an insurgent. I don't think he's the establishment. He certainly doesn't have --


BEGALA: He's a millionaire socialist and he's a 40-year politician.

GREGORY: But, Paul, he doesn't have a track record of actually doing stuff in Washington. Well, I mean it. That's not a knock. It's just like he is still an outsider.

PHILLIP: That's what the kids will call shade.

ALI: But when the moderate Avengers team up and do that U-turn that gave you like a vomit episode, people are asking themselves, Beto, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, literally in a day, all of a sudden are lining up behind Biden. What's happening Bernie is a threat. And so Bernie is a threat to the quote, unquote, establishment. It works for his narrative. It works for his base. But I agree with you. There has to be a marriage. And because your eye on the prize to get rid of Trump and 65 percent of voters want him out. I'm with you.

CAMEROTA: How does that happen? How could the marriage happen?

PHILLIP: It is -- okay. It is about math, actually. I mean, I think Bernie Sanders has a very strong, very fervent base. But his base of support right at this moment is smaller than it was in 2016. And I do think that that is why he is going to have to bring people in.

But I've been out there talking to Democrats for many, many months at this point. I am actually not pessimistic that he would be able to do it. The overriding view among Democratic voters is that they would vote for, as Waj says, a carbon stick over --

ALI: An inanimate carbon rod.

PHILLIP: An inanimate carbon rod over Donald Trump. They would vote for Bernie Sanders. I would talk to many, many moderate Democratic voters who would be willing to --

BERMAN: Let me just throw this out there. As much as we're talking about the moderates and the so-called establishment lining up, vis-a- vis, Sanders, is it possible that a lot of what we saw yesterday from Biden was actually a power move to push out Bloomberg to sort of force out his half a billion dollars from this race and say, if you aren't a Bernie Sanders guy, I'm the only one left?

GREGORY: I think that's a good point because I think, ultimately, what Biden needs is to force this to a two-person contest. And we haven't talked about Elizabeth Warren. But this is the big question. My hot take from last hour, Paul, if you weren't here, is that what is the over/under on how well Bloomberg has to do make a decision to stay or go? Obviously, Biden -- that's the same question for Biden tonight. But that's the issue. He wants to clear it out.

And this is like -- it's a Barack Obama question too. President Obama is obviously very smart politically. I'm sure he thinks it would hurt more than help if he jumped in for Biden right now and there's got to be a question about whether he can still do it, the unity question.

PHILLIP: I don't think he's going to do it because he understands that there are very few figures in the Democratic Party that actually have the ability to do the bringing together and Barack Obama is really one of the only ones.

He's going to hold on to that power for as long as possible and use it when it's needed the most, which is probably on the eve of the convention when it's time for -- this is why, you know, there's the likelihood of a brokered convention is less likely. Because, ultimately, all of the delegates are the ones who get to decide where they go and they get to decide that based on what they think is important.

And if they think the party unity is important, you better believe they're going to get behind whoever is the leading delegate winner.

BERMAN: Which brings up Elizabeth Warren here. And, Waj, you have a theory about what she's doing and I'm curious what Paul thinks about this.

ALI: So Elizabeth Warren has a very narrow, very difficult lane to make it, but at the same time she will probably pick up 150 to 180 delegates today. She can become king maker at the convention, nod her head -- nod her hat to Bernie or Biden. I said something yesterday, which people thought was crazy, but if you want a marriage, Biden's V.P., if Biden gets the nod, why not Warren?

BEGALA: That may be her play.

BERMAN: I'm not so sure they like each other.

BEGALA: That doesn't matter.

BERMAN: Yes, politics, show business.

CAMEROTA: Don't be naive.

ALI: David doesn't like me. He can act.

BEGALA: I think whatever happens is going to happen long before Milwaukee because of us, because of the press, the pressure for these delegates, for these politicians. If she can hold 180, 200, 500, whatever, delegates all the way to Milwaukee in July, I don't think there's any way.

The pressure -- this is not 1952, where you sort of had your bank of delegates and you went to the convention and decided who was best. I think the pressure will be so enormous. Look how quickly Pete and Amy got out of the race and endorsed. And I think the pressure on Senator Warren is going to be just enormous.

CAMEROTA: But what do you think she's doing right now? What is her play?

BEGALA: I think she is trying to amass a sack full of delegates that might swing things. But I think it's unlikely actually to wind up being to her --

GREGORY: But I just think we have to say before the end of the segment that on Super Tuesday, don't we agree that Bernie Sanders is a strong frontrunner at the moment, that he is likely to do well in Texas and California, which is the biggest prize, and there's a bit of a muddle

behind him.


I mean, I'm sensitive -- CAMEROTA: And certainly with early voting. Certainly with early voting.

GREGORY: Right. And with early voting, I mean, I think --

PHILLIP: I mean, Bernie Sanders is in the driver's seat of this race right now. He stands to benefit the most tonight. The question is how close do they get? That's the question. I think that that's how --

BERMAN: I think one thing we have learned is how little we know and how the voters are making up their own minds here. We do know he's leading in delegates right now. As I've said, the numbers that we have are quaint compared to what they will be after today. He's leading in the amount of money raised, not including Michael Bloomberg.

So in the only metrics we know he's leading. Tomorrow --

BEGALA: He's not leading in total votes. More Democrats have voted for Joe Biden and that matters too.

BERMAN: It does. Well, that's a moving target. Look, after all, I know we said that --

GREGORY: And Biden has had a fantastic 48 hours.

CAMEROTA: Momentum.

GREGORY: He couldn't have asked too much more --

CAMEROTA: Agreed. Folks, thank you very much for that --

GREGORY: We're going to keep talking more --

CAMEROTA: I can see that. While we're doing this show, I can see that. CNN's special Super Tuesday coverage begins today at 7:00 P.M. Eastern. And we will be starting extra early tomorrow at 5:00 A.M. with the latest results and analysis. Please, guys, stick around.

BERMAN: Look, they are going to still be counting votes at 5:00 A.M. We very might have results from states.

CAMEROTA: Good point.

BERMAN: All right. We do have breaking news. At least six people are dead after this huge tornado struck the Nashville area early this morning. The light is now up, we are getting our first look at the damage and it is extensive. This is live. These are live pictures. Look at that. Tens of thousands of customers, we're told, in the area are without power. Schools in the Nashville area are closed today. It is a Super Tuesday state. Tennessee is a Super Tuesday state. And we just learned that some polling sites will open late. This is going to complicate things.

CNN's Chad Myers joins us now with much more on this. Chad, what are you seeing? CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Some polling sites may not even have power today. Let's back you up, John, to 12:30 last night, local time. There's Nashville, there's the tornado on the ground west of Nashville.

It moved off to the east and into downtown, especially north of downtown, German Town, and through Five Points and Mt. Juliet and all the way to Lebanon. There is the tornado right there. There is the hook on radar, it was easy to see. There were warnings. This was not an unconfirmed tornado coming out of nowhere. This was on the ground a very long time.

From west of Nashville over German town, followed the river through Five Points and along I-40. This was a big tornado. F3 or 4 maybe at least for a time on the ground through a very populated area. I think we're going to find a lot more damage as the morning goes on now that we do have light.

There was more rain around 4:00 for the cleanup but that's gone now. Where our focus right now is over Montgomery, Alabama, a new tornado watch for you down to the south, another Super Tuesday state. And, eventually, this all gets into North Carolina and even into Virginia with more rainfall today.

Here is where we have now, move you ahead slowly on up through the day. There will be spots to vote in the dry and there will be thunderstorms as well. You have to run around those. John?

BERMAN: All right. Everyone needs to watch their forecast and the weather very, very closely and listen to Chad all day. These are live pictures right now. These are aerials from the Nashville area. You can see the damage done, the roofs ripped off the buildings, the frame is still in place, and then Chad will tell you later that gives you a sense of exactly how powerful the storm is. You can see some buildings completely knocked down there.

CAMEROTA: And then at downtown. I mean, at downtown Nashville, you can just see -- I can't even tell what all the debris is from. I guess roofs in downtown.

BERMAN: Shingles, the siding.

CAMEROTA: It's just the siding, yes. I see lots of large chunks of metal. We're just getting this because, as you said, the sun has just come up and it looks like it's going to be a devastating day there and people are dead, six people are dead at this point.

BERMAN: Again, pay very close attention today if you live in any of these states. I know many of you want to go out and vote today, but listen carefully.

All right. Bernie Sanders is hoping to capture the biggest share of delegates tonight, as is every candidate in this race. We are going to speak to the co-chair of his campaign, next.


BERMAN: It is Super Tuesday. Polls are now open in five states, including the State of Vermont, the home state of Bernie Sanders. One of the states, no doubt, that he wants to put in his column today. He is the current frontrunner. Will that be the case tomorrow morning?

Joining me now is Vermont Congressman Peter Welch. He is the co-chair of Bernie Sanders' Vermont campaign. Congressman, thank you very much for being with us this morning. It is a huge day with a huge number of delegates up for grabs. What's at stake for the Sanders campaign?

REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): Well, you're exactly right, I mean, from Vermont to California with Texas in between. so this is going to give a lot of information about the strength of Bernie's campaign, big day obviously for Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg, but this is the harvest of huge votes that's going to really make a big, big difference in the Sanders campaign and our assessment of who has got the momentum going into the convention.

BERMAN: So we saw something last night that was very unusual and I've covered a lot of campaigns, I haven't seen anything like it before, with three of Joe Biden's former opponents, Beto O'Rourke, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg endorsing him all in one night. What do you think from the Sanders perspective the significance of that is?

WELCH: Well, it's converging. I mean, we've had two lanes in this campaign, Bernie and Elizabeth Warren in one and then the other candidates in the so-called moderate lane. And you're seeing the moderate lane converged with those endorsements. And that's going to have to be the burden of both Biden and Sanders to try to persuade those voters that they are the right pick to be our nominee.

Sanders obviously has a lot of big strengths. This enormous fundraising at the grassroots level is a real indication of support. In Nevada, it showed that he got not just the so-called progressives and young people but he started cutting into moderate and even conservative Democrats.


But we're going to have a lot more information after the polls close tonight.

BERMAN: One of the things we did hear from Senator Sanders after these endorsements last night was he said, basically, of course, of course, the establishment is lining up behind my opponent because they are afraid of me. But I ask you this as a longtime member of Congress. Isn't Bernie Sanders going to need these people that he's been criticizing if he wants to beat Donald Trump as the ultimate nominee?

WELCH: Well, you know, he is. He really is. And I'd caution the campaign to go light on this establishment. I mean, that establishment includes people like Jim Clyburn, a civil rights leader. The fact is that the Democrats, whether he's calling them establishment or the progressives, we have a shared vision, number one, we want to beat Donald Trump, and number two, we want a much stronger improved healthcare, Bernie wants single payer but everybody else wants at least a public option, we want to shore up social security, we want to make college education affordable.

So there are distinctions that are often made and sharpened in a campaign and you're seeing that happen now. But the Democrats are pretty united on the direction they want to go starting with removing Donald Trump and, secondly, shoring up, strengthening, creating opportunity for the middle class and lower income Americans.

BERMAN: Did you say you would caution the Sanders campaign to be somewhat careful about drawing a distinction?

WELCH: No, I would. We've got to reach out to all Democrats and folks who are voting for other candidates ultimately we're going to need in order to beat Donald Trump and win the nomination. So I think there's a lot of good Democrats out there who have decided they're not voting for Bernie, but really do support a lot of the policies of stronger healthcare, affordable college education, stronger and improved social security.

So, yes, we've got to have a big tent here at the end of the day.

BERMAN: So you brought up Jim Clyburn, who is the House Whip, the number three in your caucus. I had him on last week and he was talking about his concerns and he has been very vocal about this and I'm sure you've heard them, his concerns about the down ballot implications of having Senator Sanders as the Democratic nominee. Listen to what he said to me.


REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): They are very, very concerned about whether or not we will have somebody on the ticket that will cause down ballot carnage.


BERMAN: What do you make of that assessment and what concerns, if any, have you heard?

WELCH: Well, some of my colleagues are apprehensive about Bernie. The Medicare-for-all issue is one of concern, they are a little bit apprehensive about that. But I actually think it's overblown. There're two reasons. Number one, a lot of our members who won in those Trump districts have been excellent politicians and they've been using this time in Congress to establish their own personal connection with their voters. So I think they're going to be solid no matter who our nominee is, including Bernie.

Second, I think even Jim Clyburn underestimates that appeal that Bernie has because of how authentic he has been throughout his career and that's a powerful factor for Bernie in the strength that he has demonstrated. And then, tonight, obviously, we'll get more information. But I think you're going to see the Sanders campaign do pretty well. BERMAN: I've got to say a I'm sure you will be up late like the rest of us who follow this very closely. Peter Welch, congressman from Vermont, thanks for being with us, a great discussion this morning.

WELCH: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Okay. John, the head of the World Health Organization says we are in unchartered territory today as the coronavirus outbreak grows. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next with what you need to know this morning.