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Biden Surges, Two-Person Race Emerges After Super Tuesday; Bloomberg Drops Out Of Race, Endorsing Biden. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired March 4, 2020 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The president spoke with him yesterday reemphasizing that they need to uphold their end of this what is now a very fragile deal.

Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. A big day, a big morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: It is, and we might hear some news in the coming Hour. I'm Jim Sciutto.

It is now a two-candidate race. One of those two, Joe Biden, who was barely competing just a few days ago, now in what is really a remarkable turnaround, Biden is celebrating nine Super Tuesday victories, five of them in states he didn't even really campaign in.

HARLOW: That's right. It is remarkable what happened. So far, Bernie Sanders has taken three states. He is leading importantly in the delegate-rich state of California with votes still being counted there. He is digging in against Biden and promising a fight all the way to the convention.

We're following all the fast-moving developments, all the campaigns this morning. Let's begin in California with our Jessica Dean. She joins us from Los Angeles.

What a comeback

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: What a comeback. Really an unprecedented comeback for former Vice President Joe Biden, Poppy and Jim. His campaign hoping that they can take that momentum out of South Carolina and translate it into big victories on Super Tuesday.

They were hoping that they could focus on specific congressional districts within those Super Tuesday states, roll out a bunch of endorsements, which we saw them do, and they really accumulated and then had the incredible endorsements altogether with Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Beto O'Rourke just one day before Super Tuesday.

They were hoping that all of that would move the needle. But, of course, you don't know until it actually happens. Well, if you look at the results from last night, you see that certainly it moved the needle, that there is quite something going on for Joe Biden. He was winning across the south. He won in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren's home state, he won in Texas. The Biden campaign thrilled this morning.

You guys, they're already looking ahead to what comes next. They've already placed a $1.5 million ad buy in states coming up, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi. That's a number, $1.5 million, that they weren't throwing around last week. You mentioned he didn't put money in some of these states, didn't campaign in them. So, really remarkable for Joe Biden this morning.

SCIUTTO: This is well beyond really the best expectations we were asking people about this in the 24 hours before, what would be considered a victory for him and this is beyond those expectations. Jessica Dean, thanks very much.

Let's go to the Sanders camp now. CNN's Ryan Nobles, he's in Burlington, Vermont.

I wonder if, of course, in public comments he's putting a good spin on the results yesterday. He did have some big wins likely in California, but is there disappointment in the Sanders camp today?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm sure there is, Jim. I mean, they expected Super Tuesday to be a day that Bernie Sanders was going to take a commanding control of the Democratic primary and that certainly didn't happen. But even though things didn't turn out like they plan, they still believe that Bernie Sanders has a very real shot at winning the Democratic nomination.

And you can actually see them already starting to pivot to this head- to-head matchup with Joe Biden. They released a series of ads in the next round of states. And you see them doing two things. First, calling out Joe Biden for his record, specifically on social security, and then, for the first time, they're releasing an ad this morning that shows Bernie Sanders embracing Barack Obama. And it's an ad filled with Obama saying nice things about Bernie Sanders. This is something that we've seen them do for the first time.

I asked Bernie Sanders about his relationship with Barack Obama just before the Nevada caucuses and he said that he talks to Obama on a fairly regular basis, but he said that they're not necessarily close friends, friends, but not close friends. I think this shows that they're trying to expand that coalition and bring some of these wayward Democrats concerned about a Sanders presidency. And it's an interesting move, especially at this stage of the race.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Ryan Nobles, thanks for the reporting from Burlington, Vermont.

Let's talk about all of what happened overnight. CNN Political Commentators, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen and Aisha Moodie- Mills are with us.

Good morning, ladies. So what happened to Biden? Where did this come from, Hillary?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is kind of the greatest political comeback in recent history. You know, I think of it as the Democratic establishment was afraid of the Bernie Bros, but the voters aren't. And I think they sent that message very loud and clear.

SCIUTTO: Let the voters vote.

Aisha, look at the coalition that backed Biden here, particularly African-American support, but not limited there, older voters, strong preference for him, white suburbanites. That begins to sound like the elements of a coalition that's worked for Democrats in the elections that they have won in November.

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And starting to sound quite a bit like the Obama coalition. But I also just want to reinforce the fact that African-American voters are the ones who constantly signal for others which direction to go. And it's not surprising that he completely swept the south coming out of South Carolina.

What is interesting to me is that black voters absolutely matter.

[10:05:02]

And what we're seeing that with Bernie Sanders is that it's really about the depth of the relationships beyond the rhetoric. Because the truth is, is that Elizabeth Warren and others in this field have very detailed plans that are oriented around black voters, the black community, what they can do to bridge gaps, et cetera, but the truth is is that Biden had the depth of relationships, over almost 50 years of a career that he amassed across the country.

And so what I heard when I was in South Carolina last week is that black people know Biden, black voters knew Biden before there ever was a Barack and that's paying off for him now.

HARLOW: Our reporting just a few minutes ago is that Elizabeth Warren is reassessing, that she is in talks with her team about the best path forward. No question, Biden got a boost from Buttigieg and Klobuchar coming for him. What is Warren going to do?

ROSEN: You know, my view is Elizabeth Warren is actually, I think, the best economic communicator we have in the party right now. You know, the way I think about this is Elizabeth Warren says it best. Joe Biden feels it the best and Bernie Sanders rants the best, that there's this kind of -- there are really three different communicators around the central issue for voters. And so I don't know what she's going to do. I think it is enormously difficult for her to amass the delegates she needs to get right now to win.

I don't think it's fair to call her a spoiler. I think she's in this for the right reasons. I think she's got thoughtful ideas. But I do think if she's realistic, and she's going to look at the data. Same with Bloomberg, they're both data-driven people, they're not this quixotic. They're not doing for -- she's not doing this for ego. As she said, she agrees with Bernie on the issues but thought she'd make a better president.

SCIUTTO: Listen, Bloomberg in particular put so much resources and hope on Super Tuesday in particular. I want to ask about signals we got from this for the general election, because you look at turnout. You remember after Iowa, there was a concern that the Iowa turnout wasn't great for Democratic voters. Since then, you've seen a change. Just look at a few states yesterday, Virginia, Texas, Tennessee, all seeing big jumps in Democratic voter turnout compared to 2016. Can Democrats look to that as a hopeful sign about voter enthusiasm?

MOODIE-MILLS: Well, I hope so. And I've been one of the people who has talked a lot about turnout. I admit that I was wrong because I thought the Bernie Sanders grassroots energy is what was going to turn folks out. But the truth is, is that in those states where we saw the bump in turnout, they actually went for Joe Biden.

SCIUTTO: Interesting.

MOODIE-MILLS: So what we know to be true though is that the only way to get rid of Donald Trump is if Democrats come out in mass. And this is a really positive sign about what's to come in November.

HARLOW: What happened to young voters?

ROSEN: Well, young voters are historically the least reliable voters in the party. You know, there have been bumps of young voters turning out, like for Obama in 2008. They didn't as much turn out for him in 2012, as we all remember though. So I think that no presidential candidate wants to give up on young voters, right? It would be crazy for Joe Biden to cede the young vote to Bernie Sanders. You have to inspire the next generation.

And Bernie has done that effectively. I think Joe Biden can pull that off. I do think so. I think his vice presidential pick will be very important for young voters. And so I think that for this next stage, it's going to have to be for Biden to succeed, he's going to have to start to think about the Sanders coalition and how he expands his base. That's not something Sanders does a lot, but Biden will do it, I think.

SCIUTTO: Obama has been sort of like the Z league of this race because he turns up in everybody's campaign ad as if they were best friends, not surprisingly he was a Democratic president. Anybody at home may remember that movie or not.

But the question, the talk before Super Tuesday then that Obama is waiting for his moment, right, to have the most influence but also wait until the voters have decided. Does that change post-Super Tuesday with Biden locked in a race with Sanders, that Obama might come out earlier and say, listen, Biden is the man?

MOODIE-MILLS: It seems to me the elegant thing to do would be to hold off, let the voters decide, and then the most popular Democrat in the land can jump in and support the person who should be the next president. That seems to me to make a lot of sense.

It is really interesting though that for so long, especially Bernie Sanders has been a bit of a finger-pointing at Obama about what was missed in the Obama administration, what could go further and wanting to really derail some of the policies of Obama and now suddenly wants to hug Obama and say, look, we're really tight.

SCIUTTO: And Biden's the argument is saying, listen, let's build on what we've got here and let's not chase windmills on more ambitious ideas.

ROSEN: So the thinking in Obama land actually is that an endorsement now could backfire and that it would not help Joe Biden.

[10:10:07]

It would end up tagging Obama as part of the so-called establishment that Sanders is railing against. And so I do think he wants to wait and see that.

SCIUTTO: All right. Hilary Rosen, Aisha, thanks to both of you so much.

We've got a lot of news coming in. This just in, in fact. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York has now jumped to six. This as people are wondering how they could be tested for the deadly virus so they know.

We'll have more after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:15:00]

SCIUTTO: Breaking news just in to CNN. Let's go right to CNN Business and Politics Correspondent Cristina Alesci.

Another candidate is out of the race.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Michael Bloomberg announcing to staff and wider (ph) that he is leaving the campaign. He sends an email to the staff saying, three months ago, I entered the race for president to defeat Donald Trump.

Today, I'm leaving the race for the same reason, to defeat Donald Trump because it's clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult. I'm a believer in using data to inform decisions. After yesterday's results, the delegate math has become virtually impossible and a viable path to nomination no longer exists.

Not an entirely surprising decision by the former mayor of New York City. Last night was absolutely terrible for him. And although they were putting on a very strong front until the very end and telling me and other reporters that they were in this past Super Tuesday no matter what the results of Super Tuesday, clearly, here, they do not see a path forward. But he's also in a separate release endorsing Joe Biden. So we are going to have to see exactly what that means and how much money Michael Bloomberg is going to put behind Joe Biden.

HARLOW: Cristina, can we just talk about that endorsement for a moment because a Biden surrogate earlier on our program just said, Tim Ryan, look what would have happened to Joe Biden last night had Bloomberg not been in this race. What is he saying about why he is backing Biden now?

ALESCI: Well, it's very clear to him that Joe Biden obviously had a very strong night and the fact that he did really undercut Michael Bloomberg's argument for being in this race. Remember Michael Bloomberg said when he got in that Joe Biden was weak, he was having trouble in debates, he was having trouble fundraising. All of that has turned around in the last week or so since South Carolina.

And up until a few days ago, his advisers were basically downplaying Joe Biden's momentum. They were saying, listen, South Carolina is just one state. His operation is very weak.

And now that can all change. If Michael Bloomberg gets behind Joe Biden in a big way, that can really change the dynamic and give Bernie Sanders a huge competitor in this race because Michael Bloomberg has a field operation in important states. And that could be passed over and handed to Joe Biden in a way that could really change the dynamics of the race, guys.

SCIUTTO: Yes, particularly you look at Colorado and California, Bloomberg took in a lot of voters there, might have changed the race had he not been in yesterday in terms of who might have won. Cristina Alesci, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Hilary Rosen, Aisha Moodie-Mills. Hilary Rosen, this is a remarkable -- first of all, Biden's progress in winning but also candidates getting out very quickly, Bloomberg just the latest, but, of course, Klobuchar, Buttigieg getting out and quickly endorsing.

ROSEN: And these are candidates whose supporters are most likely going to Joe Biden.

SCIUTTO: That's a good point.

ROSEN: Whereas with Elizabeth Warren, those voters are going to split. They're not necessarily Biden voters. They're not necessarily Sanders voters. But the Bloomberg campaign knows a lot about their voters, more than any other campaign. They spent more than any other campaign polling their voters in many respects. So they know that they're Biden voters. They know this is their best path.

MOODIE-MILLS: Yes. I mean, the money though, like the ads.

HARLOW: That's what I was going to ask. Where does this money --

SCIUTTO: Look at the money. We can show it on screen how much money he spent so far. That's ten times what Sanders spent. MOODIE-MILLS: Half a billion dollars. But I also just -- the money matters. But I think that the creative of those ads was also quite good. And so you put those resources behind a Joe Biden, that completely changes the narrative on the ground about him in this campaign.

HARLOW: That's a really interesting point because, remember, Clyburn said that Biden, Hilary, needs to retool his campaign. Biden's answer to that was it's about addition, not subtraction. Is he going to bring on the best of the best on Bloomberg's team to do this?

ROSEN: Well, fair point, but remember, Michael Bloomberg can't just dump all this money into the Biden campaign.

HARLOW: I mean, even the staff, the talent.

ROSEN: He can't dump all of his staff into the Bloomberg campaign. The FTC rules don't allow a single individual to give more than $5,400 a campaign cycle. So what he will have to do is take what is currently his independent political action committee and turn his campaign into that and essentially have essentially a separate campaign to defeat Donald Trump in support of Joe Biden.

SCIUTTO: Are there limits on -- just so folks at home, post-Citizens United, are there limits on individual contributions to a political action committee?

ROSEN: There won't be limits on what he can do because he'll have a Super PAC.

SCIUTTO: Right. And the Super PAC is an unlimited amount of money you can spend. What you cannot do is can't coordinate with the official campaign.

And so there have been many things over the years where people have sort of signaled what the important issues are.

[10:20:00]

Essentially, this will be a separate and independent operation that he will have to engage in.

SCIUTTO: And to be fair, there have been some blurring of those lines if you look at, for instance, major contributions, Sheldon Adelson, to the Trump campaign, that kind of thing.

We've got David Chalian, CNN Political Director, on the line as well.

David, fast-moving shakeup in the Democratic race here and fast-moving rallying behind Joe Biden.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, there's no doubt about that, Jim. And this piece is really consequential, Bloomberg getting out and instantly endorsing Joe Biden, exactly what Hilary is talking about, because of his money. Listen, Joe Biden is going to start raising money at such a clip that

he couldn't imagine because of his success in the last four days. But he has not had a huge outside group money machine that has spent at the levels that Michael Bloomberg could spending, nobody has. So that will be extraordinarily important to his effort going forward.

And, in fact, I will say one of Michael Bloomberg's sort of calling cards to Democrats when he got into this race was whether or not I'm the nominee, I am going to keep staff and spend all the way through November because I believe that the number one goal here is to defeat Donald Trump.

So that was part -- as a former Republican, that was sort of part of his way to endear himself to Democrats, that it wasn't just an ego- driven quest. And now, in all indications in this email and this announcement that is precisely what he plans to do is to keep spending and have a campaign all through November, which could really change the equation.

As you know, the Trump campaign is overwhelmingly outraising the Democrats, doesn't have Republican competition for the nomination and has been building a massive machine. Should Joe Biden be the nominee, obviously, having Michael Bloomberg's full force behind him financially could be very, very consequential.

HARLOW: And what it could mean down ballot. I mean, look at what he did in Virginia on guns, et cetera. He makes it clear, as you say, David, in the statement that he's going to keep spending for issues that he cares about to help Democrats.

He was very dismissive yesterday of Elizabeth Warren, quipping to Cristina Alesci, I didn't even know she was still in this race. Well, she is still in this race but she is reassessing this morning, David.

CHALIAN: Yes. When you come in third in your home state, Poppy, right, it would be hard not to -- hard not to reassess where you are in this race.

And, again, Michael Bloomberg, just to go back to him for a moment, he told Don Lemon on Monday when we interviewed -- when Don interviewed him for the pre-Super Tuesday shows, he said I'm a very data-driven guy. And Don said, what do the numbers have to look like? He said, show me the numbers and then I'll be able to give you an answer to that. He saw the numbers last night and now he has given his answer.

And the same is going to be true here with Elizabeth Warren, not necessarily that she may get out of the race but her reassessment is an inevitable thing. When the entire sort of non-Sanders portion of the party has coalesced around Joe Biden, the thing about Elizabeth Warren if she chooses to bow out of the race, where does she go?

Does she hold her fire? Because she has supporters-- she crosses both the Biden and Sanders world. She's of the progressive side but she also has some overlap with Biden supporters. So how Elizabeth Warren uses this moment will be fascinating if indeed she chooses to not to -- SCIUTTO: Absolutely. And we're going to bring it to you as soon as it comes. We continue to follow the breaking news.

Michael Bloomberg who spent more money in this race by a factor of ten than any other candidate is out. He's endorsed Joe Biden. We'll have more after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:25:00]

SCIUTTO: Much more on the breaking news. Michael Bloomberg, who spent more than anyone in this race by a factor of ten, dropping out and endorsing very quickly Joe Biden.

HARLOW: Of course, on Jessica Dean following the Biden camp is in Los Angeles again this morning.

All right, well, I'm sure they're happy to have this endorsement. They may have liked him out of the race before last night. What are they saying?

DEAN: Yes. Well, I mean, look, right now, this is still breaking and we're waiting to hear exactly from the Biden campaign. But the fact of the matter is that this is further consolidation behind Joe Biden that the campaign has been hoping to see.

They want to see people rallying behind Joe Biden making a strong statement as we go into the states both next week and beyond into March 17th and on and on that he is the person to represent the Democratic Party, that it is between -- this becomes a two-man race and that Joe Biden and his campaign believe that they can make the argument that Biden is better positioned to bring along with him Senate candidates and House candidates.

And getting that endorsement today from Michael Bloomberg is key to that. You know, that was -- that was the big question last night, would he eat into Joe Biden's support. Joe Biden had a great night but Michael Bloomberg was viable in some of these places. And if we moved forward with him still in the race, that is going to affect Joe Biden in certain places, in Florida, in certain states that we are about to move into, guys.

So for the Biden campaign, this is welcome news.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Bloomberg may very well have changed the outcome in Colorado and California in those Super Tuesday races. Ryan nobles, he's with the Sanders camp in Burlington, Vermont.

This is not -- let's be frank, it's not good news for the Sanders camp, and Bloomberg influential, but he also has a lot of financial resources.

[10:30:01]

NOBLES: Yes, no doubt about that, Jim. But I do think there are two ways to look at this from the Sanders campaign's perspective.