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Coronavirus Deaths in U.S. Rising; Bloomberg Drops Out, Endorses Biden. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 4, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:37]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We roll on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

Joe Biden says his campaign is for anyone who's been knocked down, counted out, or left behind. And, until recently, the former V.P. could have been talking about his own 2020 bid.

But a series of major wins in South Carolina and now Super Tuesday have given Joe Biden a huge boost as he battles Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination.

And, as of today, there is one fewer candidate standing in Biden's way, after Michael Bloomberg announced today that not only is he suspending his campaign. He will throw his billions behind team Biden.

CNN is tracking all the fallout from Super Tuesday, including what Senator Elizabeth Warren's staff is calling a disappointing night for the Massachusetts senator.

But let's start with Cristina Alesci, as she is waiting on that Bloomberg news conference to begin.

What's the word from the campaign?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Mike Bloomberg following an old Wall Street saying, which is your first loss is your best loss.

After that pretty grueling night last night, where he suffered some big losses, he came back to New York and decided to put an end to his campaign. There was a staff meeting today. And , effectively, what happened was, look, maybe he didn't -- maybe he and his campaign didn't think they were going to win any particular state, but they poured a lot of money into places like Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and they performed really poorly there.

So they came back to New York and decided to put all of their efforts behind Joe Biden. And his advisers are telling me that that is where the effort is now, and this is a game-changer for Joe Biden. If you look at Michael Bloomberg's infrastructure, it is impressive,over 2,400 staff, 200 field offices, 500 people in critical battleground states. The fact that Michael Bloomberg right now is working on a way to

support Joe Biden is a real game-changer for Joe Biden, but certainly Michael Bloomberg has put a lot of effort into this very unconventional, short and very expensive campaign, spending over $570 million -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: He has taken to the podium behind you. I'm sure you figured that out by all the screams.

So, let's listen in, Mike Bloomberg.

(APPLAUSE)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not sure what to say, other than thank you to everybody here who's tried to make a difference.

And, Mayor Nutter, Mike, you really have been amazing -- where are you hiding again? Right here, hiding in plain sight.

(LAUGHTER)

BLOOMBERG: These past few months have been some of the most inspiring certainly in my life, and I hope in yours.

In just 100 days, I have been to 73 cities in 27 states all across the country.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: We have gone from Portland, Maine, all the way to Compton, California, from Detroit, Michigan, down to Jackson, Mississippi.

And every place I went, I listened to Americans of every age and every race and every ethnicity and every religion and every identity and orientation, and I heard about their hopes and their dreams and their fears and their struggles.

And those conversations just affirmed my faith in the work that our team was doing to defeat Donald Trump and bring our--

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: -- and bring our country back together and get things done for the American people.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: Now, today, I want to say how grateful I am to everyone who has been part of our team. And I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your support, your work, and your votes.

And I'm just telling you, the American public should be saying thank you to you as well. You really made history. You really did. No -- yes, it's true.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: No campaign has ever accomplished as much as you did in such a short period of time.

If you go back, we started at 1 percent in the polls, but, yesterday, thanks to you, nearly two million Americans cast their votes for our campaign.

[15:05:00]

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: This really is the best, most creative, most hardworking campaign team ever assembled.

And I have to say, there is no doubt in my mind we wouldn't -- we would have beaten Donald Trump in November.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: And you know who else knows that? Donald Trump.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: He's been scared stiff of us, and for good reason, because every time he hit us, we hit back twice as hard.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: And unlike his jabs, our punches packed the truth.

Now, look, today, I am clear-eyed about our overriding objective, and that is victory in November.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: Not victory for me or our campaign, but victory for our country.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: If you remember, I entered the race for president to defeat Donald Trump.

And, today, I am leaving the race for the same reason, to defeat Donald Trump, because staying in would make it more difficult to achieve that goal.

I have always believed that data should inform our decisions. That's the way I ran my business and foundation. And it's the way we ran City Hall. In fact, our campaign slogan was: In God we trust. Everyone else, bring data.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) BLOOMBERG: Well, after yesterday's results, the delegate math had become virtually impossible, and a viable path to the nomination just no longer existed.

And I will not be our party's nominee, but I will not walk away from the most important political fight of my life, and I hope you won't walk away either.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: I have always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it.

And after yesterday's vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: I have known Joe for a very long time.

I know his decency, his honesty, his commitment to the issues that are so important to our country, including gun safety, health care, climate change, and good jobs. And I have had a chance to work with Joe on those issues over the years, especially when he was vice president.

He fought for working people his whole life. And I'm glad to say I endorse Joe Biden, and I hope you will join me in working to make him the next president of the United States of America!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: It is an enormous understatement to say that I'm immensely proud of the campaign that we ran, and the issues we raised, and the sweeping, achievable plans we proposed.

And that includes our Greenwood Initiative to right historic wrong--

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: -- to fight racial inequality, and make the promise of equal opportunity real for the black communities that have endured centuries of exploitation and discrimination.

That work, I have always thought, is fundamental to the future of our country and the to more perfect union that each generation is called to build.

This afternoon, I want you to all know that I'm grateful to everyone who supported us, to everyone in our campaign headquarters here in New York, the work that you did every day, late at nights, early mornings and weekends and holiday, was really just amazing.

And to our incredible staff and volunteers in the states, you knocked on more than two million doors and had more than 12 million conversations with voters. And to the traveling -- yes, you deserve a round of applause.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: And to the traveling team, from advance to press, you made great events look easy.

You made them look flawless, exciting and energizing.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: You were the road warriors.

Now, no one outworked all of you, and that's for sure. I'm very proud, and you should be too, because you devoted your days and nights doing the most important job in America, beating Donald Trump and working to reclaim our values and rebuild our country.

So, before I close, I just wanted to thank our campaign's amazing co- chairs, who are among America's most respected and effective leaders, Steve Benjamin.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BALDWIN: So, there you go, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg back home in New York today after his first time on the ballot being Super Tuesday yesterday, surrounded by supporters and obviously raucous applause.

But the key piece, in addition to his now dropping out, is throwing his support behind Joe Biden.

[15:10:04]

And that's where I want to begin with Aisha Moodie-Mills and Frank Bruni.

Ladies first.

What did you think about his message? And also big endorsement behind Biden, but, also, the man has deep, deep pockets. What does Bloomberg's impact look like in the next couple of months?

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Bloomberg's impact looks a big super PAC at this point.

And as my friend Hilary Rosen said earlier on CNN, it's not so simple that Bloomberg is going to transfer all of his resources over to the Biden campaign. It doesn't work that way.

BALDWIN: Yes.

MOODIE-MILLS: What he can do though is, he can now really ramp up his own super PAC efforts, which, for several cycles, he's done a lion's share of the job in helping Democrats down-ballot be able to win. And so that's what it looks like he's anticipating doing, and doing

that now, in this primary, which means really against Bernie Sanders, in addition to being anti-Donald Trump.

BALDWIN: On Biden's huge win, you wrote -- you called it a miracle. You said: "The landscape of the Democratic primary was messy and now it's clean. So is the choice."

As all of that was happening last night, what went through your mind?

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, for starters, we tend to exaggerate in this business, but I don't think anyone saw this coming for Biden.

And I think if we're really honest with ourselves, we were saying it in kind of veiled and oblique ways. We were saying a week ago, two weeks ago that his campaign was moribund, that it was dead.

BALDWIN: Even Biden last night said, I was a dead man.

MOODIE-MILLS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BRUNI: Right. He said, hey, here's the report. I'm alive.

BALDWIN: Yes.

BRUNI: I was stunned and I felt kind of privileged as a consumer of news to see this sort of history in the making.

I do want to say something else about the Bloomberg endorsement.

BALDWIN: Go for it.

BRUNI: It is a net-plus, undeniably, for Joe Biden. There is one way in which it could be a double-edged sword.

BALDWIN: How?

BRUNI: It's going to -- well, it's going to sharpen that contrast between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

Bernie Sanders has already started doing this, and you're going to see him do it more and more. He's going to say, this just proves that Joe Biden is a tool of the moneyed interests. This just shows what an establishment figure he is.

BALDWIN: With a guy like Bloomberg backing him.

BRUNI: Right. If that's successful, it means the party and the country are with Bernie Sanders.

If it's not -- and I don't think it will be successful -- it will tell us where the Democratic Party is.

MOODIE-MILLS: Hasn't been.

BRUNI: And I think what we're seeing and what we saw yesterday is the Democratic Party is much more a party like Joe Biden than it is a party like Bernie Sanders.

BALDWIN: What do you make of this?

MOODIE-MILLS: Yes, absolutely.

And as someone who is on the progressive end of the spectrum and has been expecting that the groundswell was going to come from voters who wanted something different, who wanted change, who wanted something even radical, maybe a revolution, that's not what we saw last night.

What the voters said is they said, look, we want to have some change, sure, but we're not ready, perhaps, for this kind of Bernie Sanders revolution. We actually want our democracy in the way that it is. We're going to go with Joe Biden.

What's also interesting about this divide as well is that we're seeing a lot of the rhetoric. Even -- and I bought into some of it too, this idea of what we could be. It's been rhetorical. There have been a lot of really good ideas, but the truth is, is that Joe Biden has had really strong relationships over time.

BALDWIN: For years.

MOODIE-MILLS: Which -- for 50 years. I think he was first elected 50 years ago to a local office, and so we're seeing all of that play out for him as well, and he's really capitalizing on all those relationships coming to bear.

BRUNI: I think we saw two other things, too, with Biden.

BALDWIN: Yes.

BRUNI: I think his temperature as a candidate is one that voters really appreciate right now.

They are so exhausted with Donald Trump, and it is not fair to compare Bernie Sanders to Trump to the extent people do, but Bernie has a temperature as a candidate that is much more similar to Trump's than Biden's is.

And the other thing I think you saw was Democrats, from the beginning, they want to win this race, and they have got an increasingly skittish over time about what it means to have Bernie Sanders as a nominee, because you cannot look at the last three decades and show a Democratic nominee who became president who was this far to the left as Bernie Sanders. You just can't.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: And one other, if I may actually, because I think another factor in all of this is Senator Elizabeth Warren, right? She had a -- it's been disappointing. That was the word that her own

team has used in an e-mail out to their campaign and their staff today. And so where is she today in the midst of all of this?

M.J. Lee has been covering the Massachusetts senator from the very beginning.

What's the sense you have from her campaign? Where is her mind right now?

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, Senator Elizabeth Warren's campaign is at a major crossroads today.

We know that she is back in Cambridge, Massachusetts, today, and her campaign hasn't really said much, other than to tell reporters that she is having conversations with her advisers to assess what her path forward is.

And, as you noted, her campaign manager hours ago sent an e-mail to all of the campaign staffers, first of all, to say, thank you for their hard work. And then he had some pretty blunt words about what he saw happen last night. He said, we simply fell short of the goals that we had set for last night, for Super Tuesday, and that it was certainly disappointing, and that what Senator Warren wants to do right now is figure out what the right way to continue her fight is.

Those are the campaign manager's words. He also made a point of saying he believes this is her decision to make alone, and that he wants to make sure that she has the time and the space to make whatever decisions she wants to make.

[15:15:00]

Look, that's not a ton of information to work with, obviously, but I think the tone is very important. The fact that he is coming out to just straight up say, we had a very disappointing night, and she has to think about her future, you might assume that she is obviously trying to figure out whether or not she is going to drop out of the race, and also whether or not she is going to make an endorsement.

Obviously, we saw there Mayor Bloomberg on the same day that he stopped his campaign, he made this major endorsement getting behind Joe Biden.

So, these are the kinds of considerations that we assume Senator Warren is making right now. And I think the last 24 hours have really shown how quickly one campaign's political fortunes can change, Brooke.

BALDWIN: M.J., thank you.

And just closing out the conversation on Senator Warren, do you think -- I mean, she's been mighty tough on that debate stage the last couple of debates.

And how she went after Mike Bloomberg, do you think Joe Biden today needs to thank Elizabeth Warren for that?

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: I'm serious. Do you think that opened the door for Biden?

Yes? You're nodding yes.

BRUNI: Yes, I think it helped end Bloomberg's candidacy, and that redounds to Joe Biden's benefit, absolutely.

MOODIE-MILLS: Yes. I think, too, that they all were tough on each other, right, on that stage.

And what I would manage that Joe Biden has been doing is trying to figure out how to unify, and that's why you have seen a diverse group of actors come out and endorse him in short order, in a matter of a couple of days.

And so I would imagine that he's thinking more along the lines of how can he get Elizabeth Warren on his team in the event she should back out? And I don't know that that's actually going to happen.

BALDWIN: To M.J.'s point, the real question is if and when she drops out, what does she do? Does she throw her support behind her progressive pal Senator Bernie Sanders or, strategy-wise, see what's going on with team Biden?

I appreciate both of you for all of that.

I think we're going to continue on. Still ahead, we will break down the delegate math in the next two critical voting days this month.

And two more deaths from the coronavirus confirmed in the U.S. in just the past hour, as Vice President Mike Pence says any American can be tested.

But there's still a lot of confusion. So, let's help you out on that.

And we are live in Tennessee today, where more than a dozen people are still unaccounted for in the aftermath of a deadly series of tornadoes. We will talk to a man who had to be rescued from his home after the storm eviscerated it.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:21:39]

BALDWIN: We have a new CNN projection.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has won the state of Maine.

Jessica Dean is following this for us.

And, Jessica, what are the numbers? JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is just another one. This

will make it 10 for Joe Biden.

We are here in California, in Los Angeles, where Joe Biden ended the night last night. We're still waiting on those California numbers to come out. I will get there in just a second, but Maine going for the former vice president.

That is a state that Bernie Sanders won pretty handily in 2016, so it is interesting to see it go to Joe Biden in what was a huge night for him and his campaign, really showing a massive amount of strength in terms of who they were pulling out, who was voting for them, really strong with African-American voters, really strong with suburban voters, and really all portions of the country.

You saw him do really well in the South, in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren's home state, Maine, Minnesota, Texas, so the Biden campaign very happy about this, and, of course, today's endorsement from Michael Bloomberg, which you all have been talking about and what that means for the Biden campaign, to have his support, and more -- maybe more importantly, his resources, and what that's going to look like, Brooke.

Back here in California, we are waiting for the final tallies here. It could be several days. It usually takes a while to get numbers out of California. If you have your ballot in the mail on Election Day, they allow it to be counted several days after, so it takes a while to get all of that counted up.

Right now, Bernie Sanders still in the lead here in California, with Joe Biden behind him, but Joe Biden maintaining his lead right now with delegates.

And, Brooke, isn't it incredible to think, one week ago, how very, very different this race was? And it started on Saturday in South Carolina, and that momentum has really carried him through to today.

BALDWIN: Like he said last night, I'm alive.

Jessica Dean, thank you.

DEAN: Yes.

BALDWIN: Let me get everyone back to our coverage of the coronavirus.

And the number of deaths in the United States is rising. California just reported its very first death. An elderly patient there is the first confirmed death outside of Washington state, which just reported a 10th person has died from the virus.

And that brings the nationwide total of coronavirus deaths to 11 just in the last week. And a top official at the CDC says the U.S. is on the brink of a broader outbreak that could mirror what's been happening around the world.

There are now nearly 150 cases in the U.S., and the CDC just expanded its testing criteria, allowing anyone with a doctor's note to get tested.

So, let's start there.

Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips is chief clinical officer and executive vice president for Providence St. Joseph's Health, with me now. She was among the first doctors, actually, to treat coronavirus patients from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

So, Doc, thank you so much for being on.

DR. AMY COMPTON-PHILLIPS, PROVIDENCE ST. JOSEPH HEALTH: Thanks so much for having me, Brooke.

BALDWIN: So, how about the point on the CDC now expanding its test criteria? Are you comforted by this?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: We are really comforted by this, because now that we have community spread, we're having cases pop up without any really clear risk factors, and it's cold and flu season.

So we are seeing lots of patients with respiratory symptoms, with fevers, with coughs. And we need to figure out whether or not these are flu or whether these are COVID, and so that we can isolate and keep the COVID patients from infecting others.

BALDWIN: So, people are listening to you and they're wondering, OK, well, then how does the testing work? Where does one go? What does the testing process look like? What's the turnaround time?

[15:25:02]

Do we have -- do you have answers to those questions?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Not great answers yet.

So, so far, the protocols -- and even after today, the protocol still has been that we have to test for flu first. So, for a person with symptoms, with fever, with cough, with shortness of breath, test for influenza first.

And if the influenza test is negative, then we can go on and test for COVID, which is a little bit of a challenge, because, for influenza testing it just involves a Q-tip, you know, taking a swab and then doing the flu testing.

But if you do that with COVID testing, you can aerosolize. You can spray the virus up. And so for flu testing, you don't have to have the airborne precautions that you have to with COVID testing.

So it's causing a little bit of -- the clinicians who are doing the testing themselves, the doctors and the nurses and the lab techs doing the testing have a lot of questions and concerns. And so it's making us use a lot of our precious personal protective equipment to be able to figure out the protocol to appropriately test patients at the moment. BALDWIN: What about the fact that a number of these deaths, to our

knowledge, are just older folks, some of whom maybe had preexisting respiratory issues?

So, for parents who are worried maybe about their own kids being susceptible, what would you say to them?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Well, I'd say that, from what we have seen in China, which is our best evidence so far, kids seem to be really spared from getting severe symptoms from this particular germ.

So while often you see cold and flu attacking kids the most, in this case, maybe they will get the sniffles, but they don't seem to be getting the really severe particularly viral pneumonia, and that the older you are, the higher that risk is, or, the more sick you are to begin with, the higher that risk is.

BALDWIN: And just given your own experience, what's the one thing that you think would just be helpful for people at home to know?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: I think it's helpful to keep calm and wash your hands.

BALDWIN: OK. Sorry. I think -- I had somebody in my ear. I think you said keep calm and wash your hands?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Keep calm and wash your hands, right.

BALDWIN: OK. OK.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: It's not a reason for panic, but you actually do have to protect yourself.

BALDWIN: OK. Got it. Got it.

Dr. Compton-Phillips, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next: a stunning rescue in Tennessee after a man and his wife were trapped in their home after that powerful tornado ripped through.

We will talk to him live and ask him to share his story of how first responders actually pulled him and his family from the rubble.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)