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Michael Bloomberg Ends 2020 Presidential Campaign; Six Coronavirus Cases in New York State; Search and Rescue Follows Tennessee Tornado. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 4, 2020 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: -- has a lot of financial resources.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. No doubt about that, Jim. But I do think there are two ways to look at this from the Sanders campaign's perspective. Certainly, there's a strategic disadvantage for Bernie Sanders, just because of the way that Bloomberg ate into the Biden base in many of these states that are coming down the calendar, as Jessica pointed out.

But there's also maybe an advantage to the Sanders campaign, at least in terms of a narrative. Because the fact that Bloomberg has now fully embraced Joe Biden is something that the Sanders campaign can use as more of their evidence that Joe Biden isn't necessarily the candidate that the Democratic progressive wing, at least, is looking for.

That -- you know, they've hammered Michael Bloomberg's role in this race from the very beginning, his uneven record with the Democratic Party and the fact that he was trying to buy an election.

So the fact that he's now going to flood millions of dollars into the Biden campaign, that is something that can continue the narrative that the Sanders campaign has been railing against, that you know, the influence of money in politics is a real problem.

You know, even as late as last night, during his speech here in Burlington, Bernie Sanders hammered the fact that so many billionaires had donated to the Biden campaign. This just allows them to hammer that point even more.

SCIUTTO: Ryan Nobles, good to have you there. Jessica Dean with the Biden camp.

John King is with us now from Washington. And, John, I just want to read Bloomberg's very quick fulsome endorsement -- you might say -- of Joe Biden as he leaves. "I've always believed the defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. After yesterday's vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and the great American, Joe Biden."

That has been a question throughout here, has it not? Can the Democratic Party get behind a candidate quickly in a united way, and one that has the best chance of beating Trump in November. Based on what you know, is Biden -- does Biden have the goods?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is certainly a giant, giant, giant benefit. Let me read you one more -- one other line from Michael Bloomberg's statement right there. "I will not walk away from the most important political fight of my life."

Why is that important? Michael Bloomberg has built up a national staff, Michael Bloomberg has built up a national network. He has always said he would hand it over to the Democratic nominee if that nominee is not him. He is now pledging that support to Joe Biden.

Go back -- let's go back. Fewer than 100 hours ago, Joe Biden had no wins, very little money and no path to the nomination. Fast-forward, he has 10 wins as we speak right now; he may get 11 if Maine goes his way. He was raising a boatload of money anyway. Now, he has Michael Bloomberg's support and he's looking at a map in which now he has a one-on-one race -- plus Elizabeth Warren, who's also making decisions this morning -- against Bernie Sanders.

The Sanders campaign, you're -- Ryan is exactly right, they will run against Biden and his billionaire friends. That's what's going to happen. But look at the California results, we're still counting in California. Sanders is likely to win California. But add up Biden, add up Bloomberg, you have a different race. You have a different race.

This fundamentally changes the race, and it gives Democrats what they think they need. Before Bernie Sanders can get a head of steam, have a smaller race, a two-man race.

Jim and Poppy, just think about this sentence. It is the morning after Super Tuesday. Twenty-four or 48 hours ago, did you think we would wake up, Wednesday morning --

SCIUTTO: No.

KING: -- and say, Joe Biden has the most wins and the most delegates and the most momentum?

SCIUTTO: Yes.

KING: He does.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: No.

SCIUTTO: No. A few days ago, folks were -- you know, as Mark Twain said, reports of his death, greatly exaggerated.

HARLOW: There you go. Maybe that's why Tom Friedman this morning called it Super Wednesday, not Super Tuesday.

John King, Andrew Yang, of course, who was running in the Democratic Primary until a few weeks ago, says this on Twitter. Quote, "Mike Bloomberg will have a lot to do with it if the Democrats defeat Trump in the fall. His resources and data analytics are second to none. Kudos to him for his commitment to the country, for making this decision."

Can you explain to people how -- because the difference is, he was, you know, self-funding this thing, right? So he can't just dump all his money into the Bloomberg campaign. Staff can go there I guess, data analytics he could share I guess. What can Biden actually get from Bloomberg?

KING: Campaign finance, lawyers can explain it better than I. But here's where Bloomberg has to be careful in the coming days --

HARLOW: Yes.

KING: -- because you know the Trump campaign will be watching this, you know the Sanders campaign is going to make a huge stink about this, in the Democratic primaries.

He essentially has to form super PAC or an outside organization, and then help the Biden campaign. He cannot -- you know, he, as an individual citizen, can only give so much money to the Biden campaign.

But we've seen super PACs supporting other candidates. There's a super PAC supporting Joe Biden, there was a super PAC that came in to support Elizabeth Warren. Pete Buttigieg had a super PAC.

Michael Bloomberg now, he has plenty of smart lawyers around who understand campaign finance, and plenty of smart operatives around him who understand how this works. He has to step back now and either through -- he can't do it through the Democratic National Committee now because there's still an ongoing primary.

So if he wants to help Joe Biden tomorrow or next week, he needs to form a new organization and then use that organization to give money to Joe Biden. It can be done, takes some paperwork but it can be done and it can be done pretty quickly.

SCIUTTO: John King, thanks very much.

[10:35:01]

Christina Alesci, she's been covering the Bloomberg campaign. You heard John King there. Listen, I don't want to get ahead of things because he's already, in the last few minutes, made a decision to leave the race and endorse Joe Biden.

But he's a man with a plan, right? Does the Bloomberg campaign have a plan going forward for how they're going to help Joe Biden win?

CHRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: They definitely have a plan in place for sure. They're not making the full details public as of this moment, but part of that plan is going to be the ground game. Look, I was talking to Bloomberg advisors as recently as just 24 hours ago, who were telling me Biden does not have a strong ground game in important states, and that's where they can help him.

Now, we're going to have to find out how it all works in terms of whether it's viable from a campaign finance standpoint, but I'm sure the Bloomberg team is going to figure that out.

Look, at the end of the day, Michael Bloomberg thought he was going to do much better in places where they spent a heavy amount in advertising, in Oklahoma and Arkansas and Tennessee. And it just didn't pan out for him. So the decision for Michael Bloomberg to back out of this is not entirely surprising, and it's not entirely surprising that he backed Joe Biden.

You know, Michael Bloomberg's entire reason for jumping into this race is because -- was because Joe was weak. And now he's way stronger, he's got the momentum and this is a game-changer for Joe Biden. It's really going to boost his campaign -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Christina Alesci, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Quick break, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:41:07]

SCIUTTO: Folks, this race is moving and changing quickly. Our breaking news, Michael Bloomberg has dropped out of the race for president, very quickly endorsed the former vice president Joe Biden.

HARLOW: We're getting some more news also this hour on where Elizabeth Warren's mind-frame is, what her camp is discussing right now. Our M.J. Lee is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, following Elizabeth Warren's campaign. What do you know?

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, what her team has signaled this morning is that Elizabeth Warren is meeting with advisors today to talk through what her path forward might be. And CNN actually just obtained an e-mail that went out from Elizabeth Warren's campaign manager, Roger Lau -- excuse me -- to all staff.

And I just want to read parts of that e-mail because it is very telling. He first thanks all of the campaign staff for their hard work, but then has some very blunt words about what they saw happen last night. He writes, "Last night, we fell short of viability goals and projections, and we are disappointed in the results."

He notes that obviously more results are coming in. This is a race that has been pretty volatile, but again stresses that obviously they are disappointed. He also goes on to say that Elizabeth Warren "is going to take time right now to think through the right way to continue this fight."

And I should note, you know, Roger Lau is somebody who has worked with the senator for a long time. And he says in this e-mail that this decision is in her hands, and it's important that she has the time and space to consider what comes next.

So obviously, this is a very sober e-mail from the campaign manager for Elizabeth Warren, the day after a very disappointing Super Tuesday. Here in Massachusetts, of course, she was handed one of her worst pieces of news last night. She didn't come in first, she didn't come in second, she came in third place, behind Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, again in her home state.

So this is a very critical moment for the Elizabeth Warren campaign. Remember, she got into this race in 2018, the very last day of the year, on New Year's Eve, actually right here in Cambridge. And at this point, it is very clear that she has some big decisions to make and we are expecting to hear more from the campaign on what those decisions might be -- Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: M.J., you covered this campaign for some time, and there is the assumption -- anything, this race has made clear is that we should dump all assumptions about candidates, outcomes, et cetera --

HARLOW: Fair enough.

SCIUTTO: -- but there's an assumption that -- that Warren and Sanders overlap. Therefore, if she does leave, she'd be more likely to throw her support behind Sanders than a Joe Biden. Is that necessarily true?

LEE: Look, here's the thing. We have gotten no real indication in any direction that she might be making, one, an endorsement at all, but that she might be endorsing either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders. So I wouldn't presume to know what the campaign is thinking right now as far as that is concerned.

But I think you make a really important point about where Warren's supporters might go if she is no longer in the race. I think we have been pretty good about pointing out throughout this race that it just doesn't work to talk about voters as though they belong in these strict lanes, ideological lanes.

You know, plenty of Elizabeth Warren campaign events that I've been to over the last year, a lot of them were, you know, making the decision between supporting Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, or Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. Plenty of them also liked Joe Biden.

So this idea that all of Warren's supporters would immediately shift their support to Bernie Sanders if she were to leave, that is just simply not true.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Listen, you know, we've heard this about African- American voters, Latino voters. The idea that voters somehow fit into baskets and move en masse, again, we shouldn't exaggerate that.

HARLOW: M.J., thank you for the reporting. Keep us posted.

[10:44:58]

Meantime, the number of coronavirus cases here in New York has jumped to six. This, as people wonder how exactly they can be tested, and can they be tested at any doctor for the deadly virus. More on that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Well, just a few minutes ago, New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced that there are now six confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York State.

SCIUTTO: Joining us now, CNN's Erica Hill and Brynn Gingras, who is outside the hospital where an infected patient is now in critical condition.

But let's start with you, Erica. Tell us more what we know because you have these cases, it appears that many of them are tied to this one person, this 50-year-old man who was also confirmed in recent days.

[10:50:02]

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So the governor, as you pointed out, just moments ago, confirmed that there are now six cases here in New York State. So that brings the number up by four.

Let's just get a refresher. As you pointed out, there was a man in his 50s who lived in Westchester County -- so just outside of New York City. He's a lawyer, works in the city. He, of course, had already been confirmed. We knew about him.

There was also a health care worker who had traveled to Iran. She tested positive. It's important to point out, her husband has tested negative. However, these new cases are tied to that man who tested positive, who had an underlying respiratory condition. He's in the hospital.

We now know that his wife, 20-year-old son, 14-year-old daughter and the neighbor who drove this man to the hospital have all tested positive. They have not been sent to the hospital, they are actually home. They are being quarantined.

We also learned from the governor that there were a number of tests that have been done across the state, the governor saying, listen, the more tests you do, the more chances there are for a positive outcome. But he noted that a number of those tests in the Buffalo area had actually come back negative, including for families who had recently traveled to Italy, and was stressing that you really need to focus on the facts and not get ahead of what's happening here --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Yes.

HILL: -- and doesn't want to cause any undue anxiety.

SCIUTTO: Yes, that's what we're going to focus on, no question. Wise words.

HARLOW: Brynn, to you outside of the hospital, of these six cases in New York, how many are hospitalized? Is it just this one?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Poppy and Jim, just this one. That 50-year-old man, who actually went into a hospital in Westchester County last week. Again, he, for a month, as we learned from the mayor yesterday, was

saying there was symptoms of some sort of, you know -- he was -- he was sick for the last month, in and out of symptoms and then just was hospitalized last week. But then transferred here to the hospital that's behind me, New York Presbyterian, on Monday because those symptoms became even more serious and he tested positive for the coronavirus.

So, again, underscoring what Erica was saying about the governor. You know, even the woman who tested positive, recently traveling to Iran, her husband is not -- did not test positive.

So the governor is saying again that, you know, there are going to be a lot of positive tests. But those people who are most vulnerable are going to be people with respiratory, underlying issues like this man, a 50-year-old, and also people who are elderly. And, you know, those are the people that need to be most concerned. So no calls for panic.

We've also heard from the mayor that, you know, he could be closing schools at this point. But at this point, only the people that have been tied to the coronavirus, the school that this man's daughter went to, the college, the private college, one of the campuses that his son went to, those are closed. And no other, you know, big major closures at this point.

HARLOW: At this point.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Just --

HARLOW: Brynn --

SCIUTTO: -- for such a small number of people affected already.

HARLOW: Brynn, thank you. Erica, thank you. Appreciate the reporting.

[10:52:46]

SCIUTTO: Another story we're following, a desperate search for survivors, still under way after deadly tornadoes ripped across Tennessee. More on those recovery efforts, real concerns there about the death toll, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: In just a few minutes, officials will hold a news conference in Nashville on the devastating tornadoes this week that have killed at least 24 people in central Tennessee. First responders are right now searching for survivors. Right now, at least 77 people there are unaccounted for.

SCIUTTO: Yes, the death toll's already risen so quickly. Let's hope they find some of those missile, alive. CNN's Nick Valencia is in Putnam County, just east of Nashville.

Nick, you're in one of the hardest hit areas. What is the latest you're hearing on the search for survivors? NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the scene here has just gotten

even more active in the course of the last hour. Those search-and- rescue teams went overnight, door to door here in Putnam County. They recovered no bodies. But as the sun came up this morning, they were back out.

We actually were on a search-and-rescue mission earlier this morning. They went to an apartment complex, but there's -- there was really just nothing left there, Jim. I went to a kids' playground, or what looked like a kids' playground. It looked like a bomb went off.

You know, I mentioned those search-and-rescue teams going door-to- door, but these are the elements that they're having to deal with. This house was on its foundation, probably about 20 yards to the left, just entirely moved off its foundation. You know, you're looking right here at someone's -- someone's bedroom, potentially someone's bathroom here. And this is just what the scene looks like back -- you know, block after block after block.

One of the big concerns here, is not only just that 18 people of the 24 in this state that were killed by this tornado, they died here. But the concern also of course is that many of those victims were children. Earlier, I spoke to an 11-year-old girl who says she knows some of the victims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VALENCIA: How much time did you guys have to prepare?

KYNDEL MORGAN, TORNADO SURVIVOR: Not even a few seconds. Like, we weren't even in the basement for a few seconds and lights just started flickering and it started hailing.

I was just terrified. I don't, like -- I didn't have -- like, I was just scared. I was tired and stuff, so I didn't really know, like, what to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VALENCIA: Back here, they're still picking up limbs here. You see crews working really hard. Initially, Poppy, you had mentioned that number, 77 unaccounted for? That went down to 30 in the last couple of hours. they've actually even dropped that lower, to 22.

[11:00:00]

The fear, of course, is that those bodies won't be found --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

VALENCIA: -- and that number of deaths --

HARLOW: Yes.

VALENCIA: -- will rise -- Poppy, Jim.

HARLOW: Well, Nick, we appreciate your reporting. And thank you again. That's a big difference --