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Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is Interviewed about Biden; Supreme Court Takes up Affordable Care Act; Moderates Unite around Biden; Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 3, 2020 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00]

CAMEROTA: You know he thinks, Bernie Sanders thinks, that this is a battle between the establishment that wants to close him out, that wants to shut him out, and his sort of progressive revolution or movement or whatever you want to call it. And I'm just wondering if you see that rift and if nobody gets to the magic number of delegates, what is going to happen to the Democratic Party at or before the convention?

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Well, I don't think it's any secret that Bernie's policies are not good for my state. His -- you know, he does not have a plan for health care for Americans that is achievable, that is affordable. And he certainly has not been there for military families the way Joe Biden has. And, in fact, not just Joe Biden, by Dr. Biden as well. You know, I've worked with them both over the years to make sure that we stand by our family members. And, frankly, the focus right now is on getting rid of Donald Trump, who has done nothing but take -- taken money away from the Department of Defense, from military families to go fund his border wall, who has insulted gold star families, who has repeatedly sent more and more troops into the Middle East. There are 15,000 more troops in the Middle East now under President Trump than there was the day he took office.

So, really, my focus is again on Joe Biden and on beating Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: Speaking of the military, I want to ask you about coronavirus. And I was interested to read that when you were in the military, one of your tasks was to brief people, colleagues, on global pandemics.

DUCKWORTH: It was.

CAMEROTA: So you have some experience in this arena.

What are you calling on the administration to do?

DUCKWORTH: Well, first and foremost, they need to get more testing kits out all across the country. The fact that it takes a week to send all of these testing kits all the way back to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and then all the way back out, that's not enough of a time frame. They certainly need someone at the head of their efforts who actually believes in science, not Vice President Pence, a guy who says, you know, he'll just pray over these things. We need to put scientists in charge and we really have to have a coordinated effort between the federal government and State Department of public health to make sure that we ensure that we handle all cases appropriately.

In Illinois, in fact, in my hometown of Hoffman Estates, we had two cases that were very well handled. In fact, the doctor personally drove the one patient to the hospital and she never sat in an emergency room, was quarantined immediately. Her husband was quarantined immediately and now they've both recovered and been released into the -- back home without contact -- you know, anybody else being compromised. And that's the way to do it.

But, unfortunately, this administration has miserably failed at this effort. And, in fact, there's no leadership. This is why I'm endorsing Joe Biden because he will show the kind of leadership that President Trump simply has not. And, you know, President Trump has been -- has put people in charge of all of these offices who have no experience. And, in fact, in 2017, when he took office, he actually zeroed out the funding for the national pandemic office.

CAMEROTA: So you -- so, I mean, we only have ten seconds left, but you do not feel like we are in good hands this morning?

DUCKWORTH: We are not in good hands this morning as far as the pandemic goes, as long as it's in President Trump or Mike Pence's hands. Now, if you want to talk about putting some scientists in charges, I'm happy to work with the administration then.

CAMEROTA: Senator Tammy Duckworth, we appreciate you being on. Thanks so much.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the breaking news this morning is this powerful and deadly tornado has carved a path of destruction for miles overnight near Nashville, Tennessee. The damage is extensive. We're going to have more on this breaking story just ahead.

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[08:36:54]

BERMAN: All right, breaking news. At least eight people are dead after a powerful tornado struck the Nashville area early this morning. We're getting our first look at some aerials now. They show just how extensive the damage is. There are tens of thousands of customers without power this morning. The schools in the Nashville area, they are closed today.

Tennessee is a Super Tuesday state. We are told that some polling sites just opened after storm-related delays. I have to believe there's going to be some problems polling though all day long. Nashville officials are going to hold a press conference in just minutes to update us on the breaking news. CNN is going to have it all covered for you. These pictures are

extraordinary.

All right, the Supreme Court has decided to take up the Republican challenge to the Affordable Care Act, thrusting health care coverage of millions of Americans in the spotlight in the closing weeks of the 2020 presidential election.

Joining us now to discuss, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, a former federal prosecutor and a staff writer for "The New Yorker."

Jeffrey, before we get into the --

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Hi, Berman.

BERMAN: It's great to see you this morning.

Before we get into the timing and the politics of it, I just want you to lay out what exactly is at stake specifically in this case.

TOOBIN: All of Obamacare, potentially. This is an enormous case. This is the third time, as people will remember, that the Supreme Court is dealing with Obamacare. As in the previous cases, the court has a lot of options.

The lower court here, the district court in Texas, said all of Obamacare was unconstitutional. As a result of the fact that the way the law had evolved, it had become unconstitutional. It wasn't unconstitutional in its original state because the court upheld it.

But as the case has now moved first to the appeals court and now to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court now has a menu of options, but it includes getting rid of everything. You know, protection for pre- existing conditions, keeping your kids on your health insurance through age 25, lifetime caps on how much -- you know, how much insurance will pay for you, the elimination of that. All of that could be eliminated if the administration's argument succeeds. And that's what makes this politically so incendiary, especially given the timing.

BERMAN: And specifically the appeals court said that because the individual mandate is no longer enforced, that the whole law is now constitutionally invalid. What the Supreme Court could decide is whether or not there is severability.

TOOBIN: Exactly.

BERMAN: Whether or not the rest of the law can stand without the individual mandate.

TOOBIN: You went to law school. Don't lie to me.

BERMAN: I've spent a lot of time with you.

TOOBIN: Severability. Listen to you. Yes, that's right. Severability, that's right. BERMAN: I've got a -- I've got a degree from Toobin university.

The politics of this are fascinating and the timing fascinating, too. Now, it won't be decided until after the 2020 election, but it will be argued before. What we are thinking?

TOOBIN: Probably. Probably.

BERMAN: Probably. OK, go into that.

TOOBIN: But that's not entirely clear. A very interesting situation here.

As I think most people know, the Supreme Court's year always begins in the first Monday in October.

[08:40:04]

They hear arguments in October. The way it usually works, but it doesn't always work that way, is that the order of argument is the order of which the case grants certiorari, the order in which the case -- the cases are -- the justices agree to hear the cases. If that's the rule that's followed, it seems almost certain that this case will be argued in the middle of October. And the -- but that's not necessarily the case. It is possible that the justices, especially Chief Justice Roberts, who, you know, has a lot of control over the calendar, might try to arrange for the case to be held after Election Day.

But think about what this argument will be like. Justice Sotomayor, you know, one of the liberal justices, says to Noel Francisco, the solicitor general, so what you're arguing is that the whole law should be unconstitutional, that there should be no protection for pre- existing conditions? And Noel Francisco, who is an honorable, good lawyer, will have to say, yes.

How soon do you think that will make it into a Democratic television commercial, that audio of the Supreme Court argument? That's what could be going on in November -- in October of this year.

BERMAN: That's why there's this perverse logic, why it has been Democrats that wanted to have this case in some ways before the Supreme Court in this way, because they want to be able to say, listen to the Trump administration say that they want to get rid of Obamacare, correct?

TOOBIN: Well, and, in fact, what the Democratic states argued is not just that the case should be heard before Election Day, they tried to get it argued this term so it would be decided before Election Day so they could say, look, you know, we keep saying that the Trump administration is trying to kill Obamacare. Look, they've done it.

Now, that has not happened. Their -- this case -- there's no way it will be decided before election day. But the political significance of an oral argument about the fate of Obamacare in mid-October no less is, I think, enormously significant, if that's when the case is going to be argued.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, this class at Toobin university today was fascinating, as always, Thanks so much for being with us.

TOOBIN: You're my top student, Berman.

CAMEROTA: Wow.

BERMAN: You hear that.

CAMEROTA: You're an apple polisher.

BERMAN: You hear that?

CAMEROTA: Wow. I see some grade inflation happening here.

Meanwhile, there is a seismic shift in the 2020 race yesterday and for this Super Tuesday because rivals have now united behind Joe Biden. How will the voters respond today? We get "The Bottom Line" with David Gregory, next.

BERMAN: But, first, school supplies for kids in need in this week's "Impact Your World."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANGELA NOLL, TEACHER, COLUMBIA HEIGHTS, MINNESOTA: It's all about this questioning.

I teach a third, fourth and fifth grade gifted classroom. Most of us think we'd all have pencils and scissors or crayons in our homes. But a lot of our students don't. Our parents want to give their kids what they need, but they don't have the funds to do it.

I would say the average teacher probably spends about $500 out of pocket a year on their class. I did do that regularly. And I still sometimes do. And Kids In Need really offsets that.

COREY GORDON, CEO, KIDS IN NEED FOUNDATION: Kids In Need Foundation is a non-profit organization providing school supplies and resources for teachers and underserved students. We have a network of 43 resource centers across the country where a teacher can go in and shop for free.

NOLL: I just saw a painting project where you can paint with this bubble wrap.

GORDON: The shelves are stocked with supplies that they may need for their classrooms to provide not only for students but also for what the teachers can use.

NOLL: They might have hats and scarves for my kids that need some winter gear. Sometimes they get fun things that just make learning more exciting for kids.

GORDON: We also do a significant number of backpack programs where we're working with corporations, churches. They can stuff backpacks full of school supplies and then all those backpacks are distributed to schools. It's more than just a backpack, it's more than just basic school supplies. It helps to break the barrier to entry for these kids to actually be in school.

NOLL: It makes it just so that everybody has that chance to learn and they're not starting out behind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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[08:49:13]

BERMAN: Millions of voters heading to the polls as we speak. It is now Super Tuesday. Fourteen states and American Samoa, they will vote today in the Democratic primary process. One-third of the total Democratic delegates up for grabs today.

It comes after we saw this dramatic development yesterday where three of his former rivals endorsed Joe Biden in this race.

Let's get "The Bottom Line." CNN political analyst David Gregory is here.

Look, in every which way, this is the biggest day on the calendar. It's the most delegates. We saw something we've never seen before with these Democrats endorsing Joe Biden yesterday. We have Bernie Sanders, who comes into Super Tuesday in the lead.

What's the bottom line?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, that we're in search of some answers, some clarity in this race, and I'm still not convinced that we're going to get it tonight.

[08:50:05]

I think that we have seen this race go up and down, defy our predictions. We certainly are humble enough to say we don't know what's going to happen. But the race has been recast, you know? We've seen Bernie as a strong frontrunner, then maybe as a weak frontrunner. He's certainly a frontrunner and he's expected to do well in the biggest contest tonight. But I think this test of how -- how strong a frontrunner he is, is his ability to unite the party. And that is why the other side is so important, what Biden did the last 48 hours was amazing to resurrect his campaign, to unite moderates, and to at least go into today with some momentum.

And then there's Bloomberg. How well does Bloomberg do and what does that mean ultimately to Biden in the days and weeks ahead?

CAMEROTA: This is the first test of Bloomberg and we've just gotten this communique in.

GREGORY: Yes. BERMAN: This just in.

CAMEROTA: This just in from Cristina Alesci, who's covering Bloomberg. Here's where his camp believes he will do well tonight, Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas and Texas. Then this. Bloomberg's campaign is closely monitoring the mail-in ballots. They believe it could be weeks before the final results are known.

BERMAN: That's just true, actually. I just will say, in California, it takes a long time for them to count because they return the ballots over time.

GREGORY: But isn't the issue, if -- if Sanders has a big night in California, it won't be a question about who's won, but the viability, how many delegates. So, to me, the big question is, what is the over/under as we've been saying in the past few hours of how well he does and how that impacts his view of staying in the race, either being a spoiler --

CAMEROTA: Bloomberg's.

GREGORY: Bloomberg. Does he see himself as a spoiler or someone who's stronger than Biden? Let's remember, Biden's had a great 48 hours, but, you know, he is still weak in many ways and Bloomberg could say, look, I have the money and he's -- and our reporting indicates, too, that his card that he's playing is, I may not be exciting, I may not be a great debater, but I can manage a crisis like the coronavirus, which, unfortunately, looks like it's going to get worse, and that voters will respond to that. And that will be another test tonight to see how they're responding.

BERMAN: Yes. What's the trivia question? Ada Mills (ph) was the one delegate that John Connolly (ph) won in 1980 after spending, I think it was, $13 million. I think we will have the most expensive delegates. The one thing that will be broken is the most expensive delegates in history will be broken after today.

One of the questions that Harry brought up, and Nate Silver's written about this too, is the length of a bounce. Like, how long does a bounce last? And this is really interesting because I think everyone went into South Carolina thinking, oh, even if Joe Biden wins, Super Tuesday is three days later and he won't possibly be able to get the bounce he needs with that little time. But it might be, Harry posed this and Nate posed this too, that it's the perfect amount of time because you have three days of this glowing coverage.

GREGORY: Right.

BERMAN: You're able to keep the halo without raising more questions.

GREGORY: Well, and the interesting piece is that there is certainly a narrative, and we're covering it strongly, that you -- you had a show of force with Buttigieg, with Klobuchar, with Beto O'Rourke, who I think is still talking, offering his endorsement. You know, you show all that and it does -- it says to a lot of voters who have had their doubts about Biden that, yes, you know what, the moderates are there, they matter and they're coalescing a little bit because I do think voters want, you know, a challenge to Bernie, both because they don't want him to be the nominee or they at least want to see that debate play out so they can make a judgment about, all right, so who actually has the best chance?

And I think you made the point earlier that people are waiting to make up their minds. They don't know. You know, there's no perfect candidate, but Democrats certainly want to beat Trump. And the question is, what does that? And we are in such an unsettling time. Not only are our politics unsettled, but you have the markets roiling, you have the coronavirus, we're in a public health crisis. This is a genuinely unsettling time.

CAMEROTA: It turns out they were wise to wait. For people who have been sitting on the fence or haven't decided yet --

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Because who knew that all of these really promising candidates, including one who won Iowa, Pete Buttigieg, would be out before Super Tuesday.

GREGORY: Right.

CAMEROTA: But I -- we haven't spoken enough, I don't think, about Elizabeth Warren.

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: She is not getting out. She is staying in. She wants to be the alternative to Bernie Sanders. And -- or Joe Biden. I mean she -- she believes she has viability today.

GREGORY: Well, viability and a strong base of support that she can deliver somewhere. And I think it goes to the larger piece, which is, do you have enough candidates who say, we don't know and we're going to take this to the convention and use our strength there to be a kingmaker somewhere and maybe she -- maybe she can be that role. A lot to figure out.

BERMAN: You know what, come back tomorrow.

GREGORY: I'll be here.

BERMAN: Let's have this discussion tomorrow morning and --

GREGORY: You know, I'd love to -- if only you guys were on at 5:00 in the morning, I would be here.

BERMAN: You know what --

CAMEROTA: For you --

GREGORY: Oh, really?

CAMEROTA: We're doing it. BERMAN: We've got a treat for you.

GREGORY: Well, I just want to let the results marinade a little bit, so I'll be here by 6:00 and we can talk about it.

CAMEROTA: Of course you will.

David Gregory, thank you very much.

All right, time now for "The Good Stuff."

Lots of kids dream about becoming a superhero, but Make-A-Wish helped a 10-year-old Florida boy actually become one.

[08:55:02]

A robot superhero, to be exact, as you can see there.

BERMAN: That is a powerful force right there.

CAMEROTA: Gage Pipe (ph), also known as Robo Gage, stopped a fake bank robber. He also responded to a simulated fire and a building collapse. His mom was very impressed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's so much bigger than I honestly thought it was going to be.

He's just over the moon because all of this we kept a secret until today.

Before he couldn't really like participate in being a kid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really just wanted to save people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Awe. Gage lives with a condition that causes abnormal tissue growth. He had heart surgery last year. The sheriff's department and fire services worked together with Make-A-Wish to make Gage's dream come true.

BERMAN: Apparently also with like Steven Spielberg. This was a huge production.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

BERMAN: Good for him.

CAMEROTA: That's amazing.

BERMAN: All right, we are expecting a press conference any moment now on the deadly tornado strike in Nashville. Our breaking news coverage continues right after this.

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[09:00:00]