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6 Dead in Washington State As Coronavirus Spreads in U.S.; Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is Interviewed About the Moderates Uniting Around Biden Ahead of Super Tuesday; Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar Drop Out of Democratic Presidential Race and Endorse Joe Biden; Former Democratic Presidential Candidate Beto O'Rourke Endorses Joe Biden; Polls Preparing to Open for Super Tuesday Voting; Tornado Damages Parts of Tennessee. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired March 3, 2020 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BETO O'ROURKE, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And in Joe Biden, we have that man.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am ending my campaign and endorsing Joe Biden for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: These are the three most recent endorsements for Joe Biden, but a lot of people have lined up behind him since his win in South Carolina Saturday night. It's possible that these pictures you're looking at right now, those images are exactly what Bernie Sanders wants, to be able to say hey, look, the entire establishment is against me.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We're also following breaking news. The death toll in Nashville continues to rise. At least eight people are dead after a powerful tornado tore through that area. Look at your screen. This is new video. It shows the extent of the destruction. In fact, this might be live right now. We've been getting live aerials all morning now that the sun has come up. This is actually video, but we'll continue to bring you these images because the destruction is so bad there. Here's the moment the tornado touched down near a local TV station.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is. Go inside. Now, get inside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: A witness also captured this video of the funnel cloud right there. It's huge. All schools in Nashville will be closed today. Officials say some polling sites will open late. It is Super Tuesday. They're all supposed to be going to the polls today. This is Nashville. This is going to be tough. We'll have more on this breaking news in just a moment for you.
But let's begin with Super Tuesday. Voting is under way. CNN's Brian Todd is live at a polling station in Virginia. How is it going there, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, getting through the rush-hour push here in Falls Church, Virginia. This is Graham Road Elementary School. People coming in, registering, and voting here, even bringing their children here, which we love. Listen, we've talked to a lot of voters coming in and out of here about what drives them, what's motivating them to come to the polls today. A lot of them saying a sense of civic duty. A lot of them saying passion for a particular candidate. But some of them are saying that they are just tired of the political discourse in this country, or maybe the lack of it. We talked to one named Stephen Potter about the division among American voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: How do you feel about all this polarization?
STEPHEN POTTER, VIRGINIA VOTER: It disturbs me greatly. I think it's going to be the ruination of this country. If we don't realize that we need to be civil to one another, and particularly, even if we don't agree with one another, civil discourse. And I just hate the rancor. It's tearing this country apart. And I don't think it's good for this country, and I think it's something that, quite frankly, Putin loves. I'm sure he's sitting over there just happy as a lark seeing this country tear itself apart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And what I can also tell you this morning is that the changing field of Democratic candidates has changed, the voting dynamic on the ground. Among the people we've talked to, my producer Brad Hodges and I have talked to close to 40-some people who have come in and out of the polling station here. A lot of them telling us that they're going for Joe Biden because Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out. So that's one of the dynamics that we'll be looking for. We're going to be talking to voters throughout the day, guys.
CAMEROTA: Brian, thank you very much.
Joining us now to talk about everything that has happened and that will be happening in the next 24 hours, we have CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart, the former press secretary under President Clinton, CNN political commentator Angela Rye, she's a former executive director at the Congressional Black Caucus, CNN contributor Wajahat Ali, he's a "New York Times" contributing op-ed writer, CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip. Great to have all of you here at the desk today.
So what a 24 hours it has been. Let's just start with the endorsements. Joe, you're new to the panel this morning. So the endorsements last night of people who, up until hours earlier, were running against Joe Biden. And then Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, earlier from Beto O'Rourke, all came together, and we've been talking about what we can liken that to. Some say it's a team of rivals. Waj was saying it's the Avengers movie, seeing them all up on stage. I also thought it was something of an insurance policy of Joe Biden saying, if you are worried about me out there, America, maybe my age has worried you, maybe my mental acuity at times, these guys have my back. In fact, maybe they'll be in my cabinet. He was calling them a team. He was signaling something. What did you see?
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I have done five presidential campaigns, and have watched five others, and I've never seen anything like this happen so quickly. The earthquake of South Carolina, which we're still trying to figure out what it means, and we're doing it, trying to figure it out without data, which we've become so addicted to data and polling. We just don't have any that I think feels real. So all of that, the race has been shaken up. And I think the most interesting thing is it hasn't had enough time to really settle out.
So that -- my instinct tells me that's going to help Joe Biden because Sanders hasn't had a chance to counterpunch. It hasn't settled. But we're going to see.
I think, using your insurance policy, it was more the bulk of the Democratic Party saying, we're not comfortable with taking the chance to Bernie Sanders, and we're going to take what they believe is the safe choice. Whether that's the right choice or not is open to debate, but I think you saw in something that I've never seen move so quickly, a movement of the party to get behind one person, not necessarily because they believe that person is the candidate, but because they think that person has a better chance and is less risky than Sanders.
BERMAN: As has been pointed out to me by people, not necessarily giant fans of Joe Biden. They say, he's the same guy he was last week before South Carolina, however, to an extent that isn't true, because he won decisively in that state with the types of voters that any Democrat will need going forward. Angela, you too got to sleep in. You're new to the panel this morning.
BERMAN: How do you explain what we've seen in the last 24 hours and what it means for today?
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think, first, it's so interesting, Joe, to hear you say that people are trying to decide what it means. It's very clear what it means, and it's something that a lot of folks don't want to say. It's not you. But it is the critical importance of black voters. You cannot say that folks who have been a very loyal base of the party don't have a say, even when they go fourth, and they should have gone much earlier. It is a reflection of what the Democratic Party's base really is and should be. I think the second thing that is abundantly concerning to me, despite
the decisive victory of Joe Biden, and he deserves all types of congratulations and every endorsement that he received, but I'm really concerned about it being billed now as a two-man race when Elizabeth Warren is still in the race, has received an endorsement from Emily's List and several other women who I value and support, like Alicia Garza, like Latasha Brown, who has traversed all over this country talking to black voters when other folks are ignoring them. So I think there are just a few more things that we have to consider as we go into Super Tuesday, including the fact that Mike Bloomberg has spent more than a trillion on ad buys.
BERMAN: A trillion?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think it's a question to me, though, what Elizabeth Warren's role is going to be in this race both tonight on Super Tuesday and just going forward, because she started out trying to stake out a chunk of the progressive part of the party, but what I often find when I talk to her supporters is that a lot of them are actually -- maybe they would consider themselves centrist. Maybe they were Hillary Clinton voters. Maybe they liked Pete Buttigieg, too. Maybe they don't mind Joe Biden. They just prefer Elizabeth Warren, they prefer a woman who is slightly younger than Joe Biden.
CAMEROTA: And she has a plan. I hear that all the time. They don't even care what lane she is in. They like that she spells out her plan.
PHILLIP: So it's a big question to me where -- what are her voters going to do tonight, and what piece of the pie is she going to take up? How much of Bernie's piece is she going to take up, and how much of Joe Biden or Michael Bloomberg's piece is she going to take up? And that could be really, really important in California. It can be important in Massachusetts. And it can be important if she eventually does, and I'll let Waj do his delegate part of this, play a role in the convention when she's trying to stake out a claim for what she wants the party to stand for.
BERMAN: Before you call all Avengers on us and talk about delegates, I do want to play how Bernie Sanders has responded to this development overnight with all these people lining up behind Joe Biden. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is no secret, "The Washington Post" has 16 articles a day 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: So it's interesting, Waj. We had Peter Welch, congressman from Vermont, who backs Bernie Sanders, who wants Bernie Sanders to win. Congressman Welch was uncomfortable with that type of statement from Bernie Sanders. Congress Welch said hold on. Just be a little bit careful here a minute, because we're going to need everybody if we're going to win here. So I guess my question is, is there something dangerous about the way this is being set up, not as a two-person race necessarily, but as this death match between two wings of the Democratic Party.
WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTING OP-ED WRITER, "NEW YORK TIMES": It's all connected -- 65 percent of Democratic voters say consistently their number one priority is to get rid of Trump, right? That's it. Most of the voters will coalesce, whoever they think is leading, who will be the success, they will go behind them. If you don't believe me, just look at the past three days.
There is a great Bernie freak-out that we've witnessed in the past two weeks. About two weeks everyone thought that Bernie Sanders would become president and usher us into a socialist state and we would all be comrades in communism. People just lost their minds. And people are worried, as you've heard from the establishment, however you want to describe them, that if Bernie is their guy for the Democratic ticket, that down ballot, everyone else, pardon my language, is screwed.
So right now you are seeing this narrative play out. If you don't believe me, you've got Pete Buttigieg, you've got Amy Klobuchar, you've got Biden, you've got Beto at the drop of a dime do a 180 and coming up and say, hey, we love Biden. So if you're a Bernie supporter, you're saying, ah-ha, repeat of 2016, even if we walk into the convention with the most delegates, with the momentum, with the money, they're going to screw our guy again. It's the establishment versus the rest of us. And by the way, 2016, Donald Trump ran on this. The day of the election, I was right here. Everyone said, even conservatives said, there's no way he's going to win. There's no way. Who won? Donald Trump.
So don't count out Bernie and the momentum and the narrative. And I think a lot of Americans, a lot of people, and the Democratic establishment hasn't really paid attention to them. They are fed up with the establishment, the status quo, you guys don't represent us. At least Bernie is going to fight back.
CAMEROTA: And another tactical reason you can't count out Bernie Sanders certainly at this point is because of early voting. I think 3 million people have already voted. And by the way, you can't even count out the people who have gotten out of the race because 3 million people have already voted.
LOCKHART: I'm guess I'm going to speak for the establishment here.
ALI: Some of my best --
RYE: I have friends in the establishment, too. LOCKHART: The elder here. Listen, I think that we can't win unless we resolve this problem within the party in November, as a Democrat. But there are things that Sanders and I think his supporters have done that have added at least as much to the problem as the establishment. And this idea that somehow that everybody who is not Bernie Sanders is moderate and status quo -- the positions these candidates have taken are the most progressive positions of any presidential campaign in history.
The moderate position is now public option with private insurance. That's not a moderate position. These candidates are not status quo. They're not necessarily moderate. They are center left, they are progressive. They are not ultraprogressive like Sanders is. And the bulk of the party, they can call it the establishment, they can call it the Democratic Party, but what they're talking about is, as Angela mentioned, African-Americans, sort of the central part of the Democratic coalition, the most reliable voters. They're talking about suburban women, they're talking about working class voters. And they're talking about them in a disparaging way like somehow they're all corporate or they're all evil or they're all for status quo. It's just not true.
PHILLIP: Here's my one thing about Bernie Sanders. The question -- his theory of the case is he can bring out a ton of voters and they can win with the support that they have in the Democratic Party. The question is, does that happen tonight? It has not happened up until this point. But does that happen tonight. And if it does, he'll have a much better case for himself that he's already doing what he needs to do in order to get over the finish line.
CAMEROTA: I suggest you show back up at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow when we go on the air because we will better answers to that question. Thank you all very much for the great conversation.
BERMAN: We do have breaking news we're following very closely this morning. At least eight people now are dead after this huge tornado struck the Nashville area early this morning. We are getting our first look at the damage, and it is extensive. Tens of thousands of customers are without power. Schools in Nashville, they will be closed today. Our Chad Myers has been following this all morning, will help us out understanding the scope of this breaking story. Chad, what are you seeing?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: John, it happened when most people were sleeping, some somewhere around 12:45, after midnight last night, 45 minutes after midnight. There's the storm near Ashland City with that hook there. It was on the ground a very long time. Through Nashville here right here, same hook. And as we move farther all the way to Lebanon, this continued to Lebanon here to the east right along I-40.
So I'm going to give you a picture of Nashville. Coming in from the west, over the rivers, and then right through Five Points, right over here through Donelson, and then following I-40 again right through Mt. Juliet, and this is a long track. Big tornadoes. Little tornadoes jump up and down and they bounce around. This did not bounce around. This was a major event, likely F-3, maybe stronger. Weather service will be out there. But we're looking at it now. And I just measured it. This may have been on the ground, the same tornado, on the ground, John, for 60 miles. We'll keep you up to date.
BERMAN: All right, that makes sense now based on the scope of the devastation we're seeing from some of these aerials and other pictures. Chad, thank you very much for that report. And I do want to say we are going to have a live report from the scene in just minutes.
CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, dozens of schools in the U.S. are closed this morning as coronavirus cases continue to grow. So Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to help us understand the many new developments as of this morning. That's next.
CAMEROTA: Here are the latest coronavirus numbers as of this morning. The CDC says there are now 105 cases in the United States. Six people have died in Washington state. Four dozen schools are closed in Washington state for cleaning this morning.
Twitter taking a big step telling all of their 5,000 employees around the world to work from home to minimize their risk.
Joining us now with more information is CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
How do you assess where we are this morning, Sanjay?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the big news this week is going to be these tests are finally going out. I think that, you know, these numbers that we've been talking about for several weeks, I think, have been a little bit of a guess because we really haven't had good surveillance in this country.
So, obviously, sadly, six people have died in Washington state, but, you know, I think we're in the middle of flu season. Close to 15,000 people have died of flu this year or presumptively died of flu.
I think what we may start to learn, Alisyn, is that coronavirus has been circulating in many places around the United States for some time and may have already caused impact. I mean, some of those flu deaths my in retrospect be to coronavirus.
So, that's what the public health community is trying to grapple. Right now, they're still in this phase where let's find out what the connection was between these six people in Washington state. I think we may move beyond that phase pretty quickly.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, the interesting thing is that none of this is surprising to people like you, Sanjay, and people within the public health community.
[08:20:05] But just because it's not surprising doesn't mean it's not concerning. And we are seeing actions starting to take place or at least be discussed by some communities in Washington state. They've closed a number of schools to clean them. We'll see if they open. We've heard the governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, say one of the
things being considered is things like games and other things, putting them off, keeping people apart. So, social distancing is something we're starting to see discussed in a serious way. That seems to be a change in the last 24 hours.
GUPTA: Yes, no doubt, and, you know, I think what's really interesting, John, is that the trigger at which some of these policies will be recommended, the trigger where communities would say, let's keep kids home from school and people should work from home, all that, is still a little nebulous.
You know, hearing Governor Inslee's comments you could tell he was sort of struggling with, when is the right point to do this? We don't want to incite panic but want to keep people safe. I don't know, is there going to be a specific trigger? Is that going to come from the federal government? Is it going to be dependent on companies like Twitter to take care of their own employees?
We don't -- we don't really know, and we've been trying to get those answers. That's part of what we should have been preparing for over the last several weeks.
The other thing, John, is that we have known. We have known that this was coming, and we've known roughly the impact that it might have based on what we were seeing out of China. And the question the hospitals need to be prepared for this.
One thing that we've talked about before, but I'll tell you again is that a simple metric a lot of people may need to be in intensive care units, may need to be in the hospital, maybe to be on breathing machines. We got a rough idea of what those numbers might be. I don't know if we can show those.
But they say roughly a million hospitalizations, roughly 200,000 people would need to be in the intensive care unit and 64,000 people might need to be on breathing machines. That's the number of breathing machines we have in the country. And many of them are in use. So how do -- what's the preparation that's been going on for that? A very tangible metric over the last several weeks.
Again, I'm not clear that the surge capacity has really been addressed. We need to address it because it's going to be a real concern over the next several weeks.
CAMEROTA: Sanjay, I don't know if we can look to China as a window into our future of how this is going to play out, but I heard on the radio this morning that the -- that today, the numbers in China of new cases for the first time, maybe the second time, declined. And does that mean that we're seeing it waning in China?
GUPTA: I think, you know, trajectory has been downward overall. You know, yesterday, there were nine times as many new cases outside of China as there were in China. So perhaps many of these policies, you know, the big quarantine and all of that, you know, we're starting to see the impact of that in a positive way.
But I'm cautious, though, still, Alisyn. These numbers may go up and down a bit. People are starting to go back to work. That may cause increase spread. We have to keep an eye on that.
BERMAN: Also, many of the polices where it's spreading are not likely to take the same level of measures, countermeasures.
CAMEROTA: In terms of the huge quarantine there of millions of people.
Sanjay, thank you very much for giving us the facts.
GUPTA: You got it. Of course.
CAMEROTA: All right. To politics, an extraordinary boost for Joe Biden heading into Super Tuesday.
We'll talk to one of the former vice president's supporters who endorsed him yesterday. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm looking for a president who will draw out what is best in each of us. We have found that leader in vice president, soon to be president, Joe Biden.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): I am ending my campaign and endorsing Joe Biden for president.
BETO O'ROURKE (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ladies and gentlemen (SPEAKING SPANISH) Joe Biden! Let's do it for Joe!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Three former Democrats in the presidential race endorsed their rival Joe Biden last night. This follows a slew of Democratic lawmakers announcing their support for the former vice president as well.
Among them, Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth, she's also an Iraq war veteran and a Purple Heart recipient.
Senator, great to have you this morning.
So -- so, you and, as we showed there, Beto, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, why the urgency yesterday?
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Well, I was starting to talk to folks as early as Saturday and, really, I've had a long-term relationship with Joe going back to my years in the Obama administration. And I just want someone who is going to unite our country and get back to work for working families all across this -- you know, Illinois and across our nation and Joe is a guy who is going to do that.
CAMEROTA: Are you afraid of Bernie Sanders winning the nomination?
DUCKWORTH: Look, I'm just focused on Joe Biden and making sure that he wins the nomination. He has the humility to be a commander in chief, understanding the sacrifice our military families make. He has certainly shown in South Carolina that he can put together a diverse coalition which is what we need to win. And most of all, he connects with working families.
And, you know, we in the middle of the country, in the Midwest, need someone that understands the plight of farmers, plight of the working poor, the plight of middle class families trying to make ends meet, and Joe knows how to do that.
CAMEROTA: Doesn't Bernie Sanders connect with working families?
DUCKWORTH: Well, you know, I -- again, I'm focused on Joe. Look, Bernie has his own platform. But I can tell you that from my experience, Joe Biden is the guy who can talk about what it's like to work day after day and not be sure that you can make the mortgage.
He is concerned about the Industrial Midwest. He understands the plight of farmers. And again, for military families, there's no one better than Joe Biden. He himself is a military family member.
CAMEROTA: I mean, I guess the reason I'm pressing you on this is because it felt like there was something else going on yesterday beyond just liking Joe Biden. It felt like there was an urgency. Obviously, Super Tuesday is today, but your state primary for Illinois isn't for two more weeks.
And so, yesterday, I mean, I think Bernie Sanders alluded to this. Basically, you know, he thinks, Bernie Sanders thinks, that this is a battle between the establishment that wants to close him out.