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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Bernie Sanders In Silent Mode; Joe Biden Still Leading In Latest Vote Count; A Look At 2016 Primary Race; Delays In Testing And Missed Chances By Federal Government Set Back U.S. Coronavirus Response. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired March 10, 2020 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's what we're going to do. God bless you all, and may God protect our troops.
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, so there he is. Joe Biden. He is the winner in these first three states. Three more states to go. But he sounds very, very happy right now. The process, Jake and Dana, he actually thanked Bernie Sanders and said together we will defeat Donald Trump.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yes. It was the kind of speech that I think he needed to make. Which is Senator Sanders obviously has some thinking to do. And no matter what Senator Sanders does, Joe Biden, I think it's fair to say there is, you can see a path for him to the nomination. And it's increasingly difficult to see that for Senator Sanders.
Strictly, when it comes to the delegate math and the fact that there are going to be four states next week that are going to be very difficult for him. And he needs to do what we have heard some of the progressive commentators in the other room talk about, which is unite the party. Extend an olive branch to the progressives to the young people to those who believe in Senator Sanders.
And you know, a lot of people said this is not a time to gloat. We did not hear Vice President Biden do any gloating. He sounded serious. He started -- he talked about healing. It's the message that has gotten him to this point. And I thought it was a fairly strong delivery.
Now there's going to be a challenge for him which is that is with a teleprompter, prepared and ready. And then there is the other Joe Biden we know who is not always as sure on his feet when it comes to speaking as contemporaneously. We've seen glimmers of that in this campaign. And that's going to be the challenge for the Biden campaign going forward. BLITZER: I just want to point out that the polls have now closed in
Washington State and Idaho. Too early to call. CNN has not yet able to make a projection.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And so, we're still waiting for those polls. But the fact that we heard from Joe Biden. And we are not going to hear from Bernie Sanders according to our reporters who are with him. They're saying he's not going to speak tonight.
That's remarkable. Bernie Sanders understands the power of a moment of a national audience of the need to get out even if it's not a rally because they both cancelled their rallies. But to get out and speak to his supporters and speak to people who are still left to vote, if not, you know, today, but in the next contest.
What does that mean? You know, we don't know. He's taking some time, he's trying to figure out, you know, kind of what the next step is. But that's very uncharacteristic of Bernie Sanders to not come out and speak.
TAPPER: Uncharacteristic, if I can just interrupt, of any --
BASH: Of any candidate.
TAPPER: Of any Democratic nominee. There's been every election night there's almost been a race to see who could come out first and took advantage --
TAPPER: -- of the prime-time free speaking side.
BASH: yes. And back to Joe Biden's remarks. He was talking as if Bernie Sanders was not in the race anymore. I want to thank Bernie Sanders supporters, together we can work together. You know, he gave olive branch after olive branch. And that's usually what happens when somebody drops out. And that has not happened.
But it was very telling that that was the tone that he wants to take. For a lot of reasons. Primarily because he understands if he has looked at any kind history of 2016, how hard that is going to be if in fact he does become the Democratic nominee.
TAPPER: And you know, there have been calls tonight by James Carville on another network, by majority whip James Clyburn on NPR who said that if the night ends the way that it began, it's time to shut the primaries down.
And that I think could be very damaging for Bernie Sanders and especially for his supporters. The idea of the Democratic Party not only coalescing around Joe Biden. But basically, trying to chase Bernie Sanders out of the race. This is a decision that it's only for Senator Sanders. He has every
right to take it all the way to the convention. Even if he doesn't see a path. He can deny Joe Biden the 1,991 delegates and that's the Democratic process. He can do that if he wants.
BASH: Why not.
TAPPER: I mean, I think there are reasons why not.
BASH: Yes. I mean, well, the truth is, we should also say that we were talking about this on one of the breaks. That unlike four years ago, Bernie Sanders has bent over backwards any time he's asked and sometimes when he's not ask to say emphatically no matter what happens he will support the Democratic nominee.
TAPPER: And when his supporters boo Joe Biden at events, he tells them to stop quite often.
BASH: Yes. That's not worth it.
TAPPER: Not always but often. And says he's my friend, I like him, but he's wrong on the issues, et cetera. Wolf Blitzer?
BLITZER: All right. Guys, I want to bring David Chalian in.
At one point he said winning means uniting America. This is Joe Biden. He said we know how to fight but now we have to show that we know how to heal.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. And one of the things we saw in the exit polls all night, Wolf, was that for voters looking for a uniter, Joe Biden was winning those voters overwhelmingly. I think we're going to see more of that theme of unite. Because the contrast with the divisions that have emerged in the Trump era in American politics.
I want to -- I've been thinking in the delegate count, I want to just take you through where we are with delegates. Look here in Missouri and Mississippi. In Missouri there are 68 delegates at stake tonight, Wolf. You know that Joe Biden is already projected to win.
Look at this. He is getting 30 delegates so far, Bernie Sanders 14. We still have 24 unassigned, unallocated delegates in Missouri. But that's a net gain of 16 delegates. That's a net gain already there.
Look at Mississippi. There are 36 delegates at stake. You don't even see Bernie Sanders picture on there. He has zero delegates in Mississippi right now. Joe Biden has 25 of them. There are 11 left unallocated. There are a couple congressional districts where Bernie Sanders is hovering around that 15 percent threshold.
In Mississippi maybe he'll get one, two, three delegates when everything is done. Maybe not. Maybe he'll fall short. But right now, Joe Biden is netting 25 delegates. Just out of these two states, 16 plus 25. Forty-one delegates that he's netting to add to his already substantial total in the delegate race just add to these two states.
BLITZER: So, let's take a look at delegates to date right now and all of the contests.
CHALIAN: One thousand nine hundred ninety-one is the magic number. We've got a way to go before either one gets there. But look who's making ground in that direction. It is Joe Biden, 724 delegates to Bernie Sanders with 591 delegates. That is 133-delegate-lead.
I mean, it is growing to the point where it is getting so much harder to see where and how on this map Bernie Sanders can make up that delegate deficit, Wolf.
BLITZER: It's very interesting, indeed. You know, John, as we -- as we look at all of this, so let's take a look at some of the states where we don't have -- we aren't yet able to make a projection of three other states out west.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's start with the one that is the largest prize left on the board. And that is Washington State. Just very early results in. Very early results. Literally at 30-vote --
BLITZER: Six hundred votes.
KING: Two hundred thirty-six. So, we got a long way to go here. But we are starting to get results. That's a good sign. Right? We're way for Washington to count, obviously the bulk of the votes are going to come in here. King County around Seattle. That's where we're waiting for that.
BLITZER: This is the second biggest prize of the night, 89 delegates.
KING: Second biggest prize of the night. The biggest prize left on the board, if you will. If you look at this right now, Idaho, you see Joe Biden blue. But again, 1 percent reporting. Just a tiny bit of the vote in. None of it in voices your major popular center here. Nothing coming from Ada County just yet. So, we're just waiting here.
These are very early results, the results have just started to come in. Washington State and Idaho here. Sanders won them both four years ago, he also won North Dakota. He's leading right now. And again, we have just 1,300 and change, 1,400 votes in there. Sanders with the lead.
But to David Chalian's point, I just want to make this point, Joe Biden is running it up in Mississippi. Running it up in Missouri. Healthy delegate lead in Michigan. But as you move out to these states, they are smaller baskets. Number one, only 14 delegates here.
But look at the percentages. Joe Biden is in play compared to four years ago when Bernie Sanders was winning these states big. So, as we move through these three states in the west, we're doing not only who's winning, but the margins because tonight is in the end about delegates.
And you watch right here. Again, you know, Bernie -- Joe Biden ahead on top right here. Bernie Sanders. We'll see if it holds up. We have a long county here. But in any event, you see the margins are closer out west than they have been in the states we've counted so far tonight. We'll see if that continues as the results come in.
What do you get, though, Wolf, when you come back this way as David was just saying, the reason the delegate count so far is so lopsided is because these margins are so lopsided. This is the closest of the three states to the center of the country. This is the closest. And that's not close. That's not close.
You look at Joe Biden there, 181,000-vote lead in the state of Michigan. Again, go back in time. Bernie Sanders said I won this four years ago, I'm going to make a statement in 2020. Well, just the opposite has happened. Just the opposite has happened and it is everywhere. It is white working-class voters, it is the suburbs, it is African-Americans. It is everywhere. Sorry.
BLITZER: No, I was going to say, we understand there are big vote drop in Washington State right now.
KING: Let's go back up.
BLITZER: Let's go to Washington. Eleven percent of the vote is now in.
KING: And it's now Biden blue. So, we'll see again. We'll see if this holds up. It's 11 percent, 34.2 to 32.5, so a very close race, 1,884. As you see these votes start to come in.
Remember, most of the vote in Washington is mail in. You saw our correspondents out there during the day. They are counting the votes right there. We'll see the pace of the reports coming in.
But start to see it coming out. I just want to bring it out. Look at the map. Again, if -- it's already been a tough night for Bernie Sanders. It's already been a very tough night for Bernie Sanders. We are very early here, but as count the votes up there --
BLITZER: Go back, 17 percent of the votes is now in.
KING: Right. And it's 34 to 32. So, essentially, look, if Joe Biden can break even in Washington, even if Sanders is on top. That will be considered a win.
BLITZER: Show us what happened four years ago. KING: But if Joe Biden -- that's the point I was just going to make.
If you look at this now a very competitive race in Washington State. No, just, it was a blow out. It was an absolute blow out. Now it's a different system. It was caucuses then. You have the mail in primary now.
The same the rules have changed in North Dakota and Idaho as well, which Biden's team think is advantage to Biden. That's four years ago. Let's come to today. Again, let's see if that's gone up at all. Nope, it's still at 17 percent there. Over next door just at 3 percent here.
But again, even Biden has the early lead here and here, he's competitive. Very competitive. Which just tells you the delegate math no matter where he goes, he's going to get his share. Right? Whether that -- if that holds up these are stunning setbacks for Bernie Sanders on top of a stunning setback already in the state of Michigan.
But it's early. So, let's be very cautious about this. We're going to be counting votes here for hours, we could be counting votes here into tomorrow, especially because of the mail in situation in Washington State.
But just the fact that Biden is competitive is the big story tonight, Wolf. Because as David was just talking about when you come into the land of delegates here and you look at this right, here's where we are at the moment. Right?
Joe Biden stretching. The whole challenge tonight after Joe Biden's huge Super Tuesday win, Super Tuesday round two tonight, Bernie Sanders needed to narrow the gap. Instead, Joe Biden is pulling away.
By the time we're done tonight, here's the scenario. I just want to give you a scenario. If Joe Biden wins 60 percent of the delegates tonight and Bernie Sanders got 40 percent, this is where it would be when we're done counting.
There's a possibility when you look at Mississippi and Missouri depending on what happens out west, there's a possibility Joe Biden could even exceed this. He could get better than 60 percent of the delegates tonight.
So, let's just carry this forward. Joe Biden has a performance something like this tonight. Illinois, Florida and Ohio among the states next week. They're viewed as more Biden-like states. If he were to carry this through, let me move up here, and have another big night next week where he got 60 percent of the delegates to 40 percent for Sanders, then you start to see the pull away.
This is why Bernie Sanders didn't speak tonight. But Sanders and his team tonight are looking at the math of this race.
BLITZER: So, what does that say to you, John? Because you and I have covered politics for a while.
KING: Right. BLITZER: That Bernie Sanders decided to give up a lot of free air time. He could have spoken for 20 minutes and half an hour, we would have taken it live. The other networks would have taken it live. The fact that he decided to remain silent tonight.
KING: It tells me they're having a conversation about what to say. What to say to the panelists in the other room especially the campaign veterans like Governor Granholm and Governor McAuliffe and David Axelrod. People have done this and run through tough campaigns.
What Sanders has to make a tactical choice. Are you going to keep running against Joe Biden, keep criticizing NAFTA, keep criticizing the Iraq War or do you decide the delegate math is getting out of control? I'm going to talk about Donald Trump. I'm going to air some difference with Joe Biden. I'm going to talk about how I think the Democratic Party needs to be reformed. But I'm going to be less pointed and less sharp.
Or do you decide because we have that debate in Arizona on Sunday I'm going to regroup, I'm going to think about this and I'm going to come out, you know, with one more shot in a debate.
The Sanders campaign has a choice to make about the math, the delegate math. It's not impossible but it's improbable.
KING: And so, if you think about the Democratic rules. Not impossible. Mathematically possible but very improbable. For Bernie Sanders to get back in this race, Bernie Sanders has to think about how to get a big win in Florida, how to get a big win in Ohio, how to get a big win in Illinois.
If you look at all the places around it the populations in those states how Joe Biden has been performing since South Carolina. If you look at Ohio, you look at Illinois, you look at Florida --
BLITZER: And Arizona.
KING: -- and Arizona, you shape up -- Arizona -- you know, Sanders has done very well, if you look at the map, he's done very well out west. He's done very well with Latino voters. But the big delegate prizes are over here. And so, you have to make a choice. This is a very tough moment for --
BLITZER: If you look at those four states four years ago, show our viewers what happened.
KING; Right. So, you go, you want to see Ohio, Illinois, Florida and Arizona. So now we're going to go back four years ago. And guess what? That's all Clinton blue.
BLITZER: Yes. KING: That's all Clinton blue. Now again, Senator Sanders you see it in four years ago he was strong. Hillary Clinton won California. But Sanders is strong. We'll see what happens in Arizona.
But this is also a psychology in the race taking whole. But Illinois, African-American population, big suburbs. Chicago -- I mean, Ohio, African-American population in Cleveland and the suburbs around it and the suburbs.
Florida, a very diverse electorate. A competition for the Latino votes, an African-American population. But again, if you look at what Biden has done everywhere else this year. Elections can change. Things can swing.
This campaign certainly swung the volatility after South Carolina. But everything you see in the map that's already filled in, it tells you Biden favored overwhelmingly, Biden favored, Biden favored, maybe more of a fight. But the delegate math is going against Bernie Sanders.
BLITZER: Well, Jeff Zeleny has got some reporting now on what's going on inside the Sanders campaign. Jeff, what are you learning?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we do, I mean, the silence from Senator Sanders in Burlington, Vermont certainly is telling. We're talking to several of his advisers. They frankly don't exactly know what he is thinking. But he has perhaps been dropping some clues along the way.
On a Sunday interview he said he did not intend to be a masochist. Then he later said this is about more than a presidential campaign, it's about a movement.
So, Wolf, as he makes a decision and this is a decision for him alone to make. One adviser tells me this tonight, Wolf. He says this was his path, tonight was his path, it didn't happen. So, what is next? Advisers are not certain but they do say he wants to debate on Sunday in Phoenix with Joe Biden. After that, it's uncertain.
But we do know a tough schedule lies ahead with Illinois, with Florida, with Wisconsin. So certainly, this is a decision he'll have to make.
But, Wolf, one other comment. One of his top supporters Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said just a few minutes ago on Instagram. She said this. There is no sugar coating this. This is a very tough night for the movement.
So, Wolf, clearly, the silence from Bernie Sanders. I don't recall him ever not giving a speech in 2016. Tonight, they're simply deciding what to say what their next moves are. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes. Very important delegate moment, Jake, as we take a look.
ZELENY: Right. BLITZER: He's got to make a major decision.
TAPPER: He does. Definitely. One of the things that he is no doubt thinking about, and I wanted to ask John about this -- has to do with the fact that his base of support seems to be shrinking from where it was in 2016. He's losing states such as Michigan that he won four years ago. Not just Michigan. There are a number of them.
And the question I have is, how much do you think that Sanders and the rest of us maybe misread anti-Hillary Clinton votes in 2016 as pro- Bernie Sanders votes? And that anti-Hillary Clinton could be for any number of reasons ranging from sexism to Clinton fatigue to whatever.
TAPPER: But putting that aside, the reasons for it, is it possible that a lot of us thought that because of his huge crowds on college campuses for the most part, and because of his surprising victories that we actually were giving this movement more power and popularity than it actually had?
KING: I think the results we have seen in the last 10 days unmistakably tell us that some of it was that. Some of it was a protest vote. And that's not taking anything away from what Senator Sanders did in 2016.
TAPPER: Sure. Absolutely.
KING: And often said it was a pity vote up against an aircraft carrier. And the pity vote dented the aircraft carrier in a lot of ways. But there's no question about it. In Michigan you mention Michigan. It's a textbook example. Look at all the Biden blue tonight. Right? Look at all this Biden blue, this one is --
BLITZER: I just want to interrupt for one minute, John.
BLITZER: Because more than half of the vote in Washington State is now in. And let's take a look.
KING: Let's go back and look.
BLITZER: And see what it says.
KING: Let's go out west. You can interrupt me anytime you want if it means we get more votes.
BLITZER: Fifty-eight percent.
KING: Right. Fifty-eight percent, 33 to 32. So, a very close race, 5,053-vote lead for Joe Biden. I just want to come in here. You come over in here, come back across to King County. Bernie Sanders winning but just barely. This is, what you have here is a highly competitive contest. This is the largest population center by far. About 30 percent of the vote. Higher than that percentage --
TAPPER: And again, just show them again what it was in 2016.
KING: Right. If we go -- it's a different race in 2016 because it was a caucus.
TAPPER: It was a caucus.
KING: Yes, so we can't go through the counties, but it was 73 percent. It was 73 percent and you have a very competitive contest. Now, some of you may be asking at home, you now, 66, 67, where are the other candidates.
Remember, early mail in voting here. Elizabeth Warren has some votes here. Mike Bloomberg has some votes here. A lot of votes have been cast. We've seen that in other places as well. But the two active candidates in the race essentially splitting the vote right now. We're up to 60 percent. Washington State is counting quickly, could slow down as we get in at the mail in ballots as you go.
But again, if -- these two western states Biden blue at the moment. It doesn't mean they're going to end that way. But Biden is very competitive and Idaho, it's still very early, still 5 percent. Hoping it will up a little bit.
But if you go back to the map the west, more just came in as I was moving away. So, let me click back in. Only up to 6 percent there. But you're starting to see Biden blue.
Remember, still technically caucuses in Idaho and North Dakota. But the rules have been changed so they are essentially hybrids there. More like a primary this year. The Biden campaign believed that would help them. Sanders does better in caucus states.
I just want to check on this one. Again, you know, the expectation here is that Sanders would win. But Biden is very competitive and close in these states which means he will get his share of delegates out in these three western states no matter what the final result is.
And then I just want to come back to this point here that Jake was making. Just look at all this Biden blue. Just look at the map. Remember how much of it is the deep Biden blue. That's four years ago. Look at all that, I mean, it's just, it's just a flip. It's a flip in this state.
Now, Biden is more competitive with white working-class voters. Biden is as competitive as Hillary Clinton, if not more so in some place with African-American voters. The big change has been the suburban voters who made Nancy Pelosi the speaker of the house. In the last 10 days they flipped the switch and come up for Joe Biden.
That's where you see the turnout increasing. Senator Sanders says I'll bring out young people. We just haven't seen the evidence of that just yet. Only in Iowa coming into tonight was youth turn out up. All the other states on this map youth turnout until it's coming into tonight, come back to 2020 here, youth turnout was down.
And so, where there's been growth in Democratic turnout is actually been in the suburbs which has been benefitting Joe Biden. And this is yet another example of it tonight in Michigan.
BLITZER: And you know, Missouri also let's not forget.
BLITZER: We thought that was going to be very competitive. It didn't necessarily turn out that way.
KING: Not at all.
BLITZER: Look, with 81 percent of the vote now in.
KING: Again, look at the state. Just look at the state. When you're talking about a delegate. This is every county in Missouri. At the moment, it could possibly flip. Every county in Missouri is for Joe Biden. He's getting 60 percent of the vote to 34 percent for Senator Sanders.
If you go back four years ago, you don't even need to do the math. You can just look at the colors. You just look at the colors. How did four years ago, Bernie Sanders won in small town America?
KING: Swept through small town America. Hillary Clinton barely carried the state because she won Kansas City people, Jackson County and the suburbs around Kansas City and she won over here in St. Louis. You win in the major population centers. You win St. Louis City and you come out here and you win St. Louis County in the suburbs out this way.
That's how Hillary Clinton was able to just eke out a win in Missouri four years ago. Again, I don't mean to offend the Sanders reporters but look at all this light blue. You come here --
BLITZER: I see a lot of dark blue.
KING: That's a thumping.
KING: That is just a total shellacking in the state where again, because of this margin Joe Biden is going to get a giant piece of the delegate basket. Sixty-eight at stake here. He's going to get at least 60 percent of them. When you look at congressional districts that could go higher. Margins matter in politics. You come down here, 80 percent to 15 percent. That's a dangerous number for Senator Sanders. Is he below 15 percent, that affects? Some of the congressional districts he's a bit higher, but that affects your statewide delegate total there.
BLITZER: Because to be viable you have to have 15 percent.
KING: Right. But the point is, in the places Joe Biden is winning tonight, look at that margin. Not quite as big. But look at that margin. And look at the sweep of it. Just look at the sweep of it. And again, Bernie Sanders and small towns rural areas four years ago was doing quite well. Then, and now. Stunning.
BLITZER: They're counting the votes very quickly in Washington State. Nearly two-third -- two-thirds of the vote is now in. Sixty-five percent. And look how close it is.
KING: It's very close race. So, this would be roughly even split. We have to overlay the congressional map if it finish this way, you see, you know, you split the delegates even though it says 32, 32, or 33, 33. If you round up essentially statewide that would be a 50/50 split of the statewide delegates because the other candidates are no longer active.
But then you would get into the congressional district layer right now. So, again, at 65 percent, you're looking at the map. Just want to come in here King County. You would see this is essentially a tie. I think Joe Biden was ahead by a tiny bit last time we check on this.
Sanders is ahead now just by a little tiny bit there. You come back out and you look -- you're looking at your population areas down here in Olympia. Where Sanders is winning the margins are like this. It was just in contrast to the states where Biden is winning big.
And you just come out here and take a look at it here and see this -- and see this pop out. I just want to check again to see how we're doing over here. Only 6 percent. So that's a much slower count. Washington State up to 65 percent.
Just take a look at where the people live, the Spokane over here, the Seattle, Tacoma area out here. And you see where the people live. This again is a recurring theme in this race. These states are all very different but there is a national dynamic.
The population center in the suburbs with some exceptions this is where you see the Biden blue in the urban areas out into the suburbs. The suburbs an African-American voters are the coalition that is powering Joe Biden as he makes this very impressive statement then you come through here. Again, out in Spokane.
Let's just look at the numbers. Close, very close. You move out to the suburbs; it gets a little bigger in the suburbs but we're early here. These are just small number of votes here. So, we'll continue to watch and count them. But you're beginning to see even out west out here, not as big of an African-American population, you're talking about the suburban population which is keeping Joe Biden competitive. And we'll see if it can actually keep him on top.
BLITZER: Do you remember what happened four years ago how surprised are you that at this point in Washington State and Idaho Biden is ahead?
KING: At this point, it's critical. But again, if you just -- you just go back. So, the first contest, Buttigieg. The second contest, Sanders. The third contest, Sanders. Washington just went back. Sanders just took a brief lead. We'll go check those numbers in just a minute.
So, Sanders is now ahead in Washington State. But the first three. Buttigieg, Sanders, Sanders. Since then. Look at it. Just look at it.
KING: Look at it. Since then --
BLITZER: South Carolina turned things --
KING: Yes. Since then Biden has run the board with the exception of Colorado, and Utah and now we're counting, in California of course we haven't called California yet. But Sanders is leading in California. The question there is it's a late -- late votes and the like.
So, let's go back and see what happened out here. Sanders has pulled ahead by 465 votes. So, we have a seesaw in Washington State. A state that Sanders won with more than 70 percent of the vote four years ago. We're in a very close at two-thirds right here.
So, again, this would be a roughly even split of the delegates. We have to look at the congressional races. If Joe Biden comes out of the Washington State with a roughly even split of the delegates, he's a happy person.
So, Biden, Mississippi big. Missouri big, Michigan big. And out in these western states Biden is more than competitive. Leading again only 17 percent. We have to see how that comes in.
There's very slow count in the state of North Dakota. We'll watch as that plays out. But this is the last big prize on the board in terms of delegates. Eighty-nine delegates at stake in Washington State. The second biggest prize of the night.
And you know, again, we're going to see how this goes as we get to 66 percent. But if you told Joe Biden a week ago, he was going to be in an even battle in Washington State, it's interesting. It's also be interesting to see how this plays out in the sense that this primary process playing out in the middle of course, the state being the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis. And again, you just pull it back up to see Sanders now ahead. So,
we're going to go back and forth a little bit here.
BLITZER: I assume, you know, John, that Bernie Sanders and his campaign adviser have to start thinking about next Tuesday. The four states that are about to have their elections and we're talking about major states like Florida, for example. There are a lot of delegates at stake next Tuesday.
KING: There's a lot of delegates at stake next Tuesday. And you just look at the state. Again, you go back four years ago this was a pretty convincing win for Hillary Clinton.
So, if you're Bernie Sanders you're trying to figure out where can I go. Where can I go? It doesn't mean Bernie Sanders can't be competitive in Florida. But if you, again if you look at what has been happening. Urban areas, the difference here would be the Latino vote.
But the Latino vote in Florida is the most complicated Latino vote in terms of the diversity of the Latino vote throughout the state of Florida. Senator Sanders, for example, a lot of Democrats in Florida when he said nice things about Fidel Castro. A lot of Democrats cringed at that.
KING: I think younger Cubans might have a different view of that. But in the constituencies, if you're looking at this right now, I mean, this is where competitive elections, we used to say competitive election in Florida are won across here.
Now the state is changing literally as we speak. It's a very diverse state. But you have here older voters. Down here in the Miami area, you just come down here Broward County. And these are the counties we talk a lot about in general elections. But they matter here too. Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach --
BLITZER: You say nice things about Castro in those counties you're in trouble.
KING: You're in trouble for, you know, for the most part. We'll see how it breaks out. But you have a lot of retirees down here who come from the northeast.
KING: And then you have a lot of independent voters through here. Very diverse population especially across here. It's just --
BLITZER: So, Florida next Tuesday. Illinois and Ohio. Let's take a look at Illinois right now. KING: Right. You come up to Illinois. Again, very strong -- this is
another example. Clinton won the state. Right? Look what Sanders did four years ago. So, if we're going to model what's happening in this election, Sanders wins in all the small-town places. Hillary Clinton wins the state because she wins outside the suburb, Cook County. Chicago itself.
This is how Clinton fought off the Sanders insurgency four years ago. She won with the African-American vote and urban vote, and she won mostly, not always, but mostly in the close in suburbs. And Bernie Sanders in small town white working-class America was running up.
But if you look at Illinois and you look at Illinois four years ago, and then you look at Michigan four years ago. Kind of a similar map. Right. And then you look at today. Joe Biden is more than competitive. In fact, he is winning in the small towns. We saw that in Tennessee. We saw in other places as well. The question is, can Bernie Sanders turn it around.
BLITZER: Eighty-five percent of the vote is now in.
BLITZER: He's up by almost 200,000 votes.
KING: Right. So, you're looking at Michigan. They're not exactly the same. But you're looking at Michigan you are going to be in the neighborhood --
BLITZER: Ohio too.
KING: And then you are going to come in the neighborhood of Ohio --
BLITZER: Next Tuesday.
KING: -- you're looking at the same kind of thing. Where, you know, Hillary Clinton won this one pretty big. How did she do it? Much less -- see Hillary Clinton at a much stronger campaign here. Cuyahoga County where Cleveland is, the African-American vote, the urban vote.
And then you come up to Lake County up here. The close in suburbs. This is the key, you know, a competitive election here. Hillary Clinton had a much stronger performance in Ohio than she did in some of the other Midwest industrial states four years.
And so, again, if Hillary Clinton if you match up what's been happening in this campaign in a state where Clinton run so strong, Biden has been running stronger in the places --
KING: -- in the places where Clinton ran strong in 2016, Biden has been running stronger. And so, if you're in the Sanders campaign and you're looking at this map and this, and this, and this. (CROSSTALK)
BLITZER: Arizona is next Tuesday too. That's where the CNN debate this Sunday night. Let's go to Arizona.
KING: Right. So, you're looking at all these, and you go back to four years ago, this was not close, it was a 15-point race four years ago. Again, if you come back to this year's campaign, and you want to come up to 2020, Senator Sanders has done a lot better out here.
if you come back to four years ago, Clinton and Clinton, right, winning California and winning Nevada. In this campaign Sanders has done better in this neighborhood.
let me shrink it down a little bit. You see you get a look at it. Clinton -- Sanders has done better in large part because of his -- he did very well with Latinos four years ago and he's worked it really hard. And so, when you come out here he's worked -- and to his credit, this is why he has a pretty good margin in California. We're not done calling this yet.
but you see Biden has closed this. Since Super Tuesday with the late counting ballot. Biden has closed it some. But Sanders leading there. You know, Sanders had this biggest win, it was right here in Nevada. So, could Sanders be competitive in Arizona? It could be, yes.
BLITZER: All right. More votes are coming in Washington State and Idaho for that matter.
KING: Sixty-seven percent, now 2,000-vote a lead for Senator Sanders. That's a lead. A win would be a win if it holds up.
But again, that's pretty much parody when it comes to delegates. And tonight, it's about delegates especially given the big Biden victories. Mississippi, Missouri and Michigan. Sanders really needed a statement win here to just end the night with something to cheer about. It doesn't look like he is going to get up by any margins there.
And the fact that Idaho is still Biden blue, only up to 22 percent, we are starting to get some votes, we didn't have any votes earlier from Boise, nine points there. It's early, so we will see how this one plays out.
But if you're in the Biden campaign and you're seeing these maps out west, some Biden blue. Let us just check. No progress here. This one is going to be slow tonight. There's always one. Come back here, I just want to see, 67 percent. This is a tough battle. This is a really strong battle here. Let us just check again. That's the same last time we checked. This is tough. This is tough and tight.
But again, if you're looking -- if you're looking overall at this map -- one, two, three, the big ones, three big ones for Biden, he's competitive here. At the moment, we're in a seesaw here at 67 percent. We will see how --
BLITZER: A 1,600-vote difference.
KING: A 1,600-vote difference. Again, that would be roughly delegate parody. Biden would take that. He certainly likes to end the night on top. If Biden could pull this one off after what has happened in Michigan, Missouri, and Mississippi, that would be --
BLITZER: Looking ahead to those four states next Tuesday. All right, coming up is an update on the coronavirus pandemic. There's new reporting right now about a failure by the federal government that may -- repeat -- may have contributed to the rapid spread of the virus.
TAPPER: And we are back with our special coverage. We want to turn back to the big story of the coronavirus pandemic. Within the last few hours, the U.S. death toll has jumped to 31 and the number of confirmed cases nationwide is now approaching 1,000.
Tonight, The New York Times is reporting that the failure of the federal government to allow for widespread testing all the way back in January may have certainly contributed to a wider spread of the virus.
Joining me now is one of the authors of the piece. Sheri Fink wrote the piece in The New York Times. She is also a doctor. Dr. Fink, thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
SHERI FINK, CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Of course.
TAPPER: So in your story, you write that a Seattle area flu study led by an infectious disease expert could have helped detect the coronavirus here in the United States as far back as January. This was a real missed opportunity. Explain to our viewers what happened.
FINK: So, this is Dr. Helen Chu and she is a collaborator, one of the scientists in charge of the Seattle Flu Study. And when that first case hit America, when we had our first confirmed case, it seems so long ago now, January 20th, the CDC confirmed a traveller from China, she was contacted by the local health authorities, saying, you know, we're going to trace all of this man's contacts, we are going to try to stay on top of this, make sure it doesn't spread here.
But you guys are doing this unique study and what they were doing is collecting hundreds of samples every day from people in the area who had flu-like symptoms. The goal was to sort of track the spread of viruses through a community. And so what better resource to have on hand? Could they repurpose that to test for coronavirus?
And the scientists said, yes, we'll get right on it, we'll create a test, we'll PCR -- use little bits of the genome, and we could be ready to do this the first week of February to help these efforts.
TAPPER: And then what happened?
FINK: And then what happened? So, they said, well, there's one issue, which is that we are a research lab, so our job is not to test clinical samples. There's actually a separate regulatory sort of infrastructure in the U.S. for that. And that's to protect all of us, right, because if we going to be diagnosed with something, we want that lab to hit a certain standard.
So she let the authorities know, you know, we're not a clinical lab. Technically, when we test for these things, we can share them among the research group, but there's going to be an issue to report that result. So, can we get around it?
And so very quickly, she and the state epidemiologist, Scott Lindquist, set about trying to ask that question. Was there a way that they could get around this regulation and bring this lab in? Could they send the samples?
For example, if they had a positive test, could they send that over to the CDC to double check it? Because at that time, if you remember back, there was only one place that could test for coronavirus in the U.S. and that was in the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, so the amount of testing capacity in the U.S. was very small.
And so they kept hitting roadblock after roadblock. They send these e- mails and we have the e-mails asking the CDC, asking the state regulators, asking the FDA, can we find some way to do this?
And at the same moment that that was happening, there was a real problem with the CDC test. It worked in Atlanta. But when they sent on -- the first week of February, they sent out that test to the state public health laboratories all over the country, they had trouble getting it to work. They had trouble validating it, testing it and making sure it was working.
And so that kept that testing capacity in this country so low for so long. All the samples had to be sent to the CDC. The definition of a suspected case remained very narrow. And as a result, as we see now, there has not been a great picture of exactly where this virus is in our communities.
TAPPER: Does this doctor in Seattle that you spoke with, does she believe that if the testing has been allowed, the outbreak of the coronavirus in this country would have been more contained that it has been which is to say it hasn't been?
FINK: Unfortunately, yes. Here's what happened with that.
FINK: On February 25, the researchers had just had enough. They said, you know what, we have thousands of samples now in our freezers from the Seattle Puget Sound area, we are just going to start testing them. And they thought, you know, this isn't a problem if we don't get any hits because we are allowed to test. And like one of those first runs that they did of the samples, they get a hit, they get a positive signal, and they realized that they have a case. Then they meet as a group and they are trying to decide, like, what do we do, because technically, we are not allowed to disclose that, so what is the right thing to do here?
And they decided that the most ethical thing was to disclose that to the public health authorities. And what happened next was amazing because it was a teenager. The state lab that day, February 27 it was, was finally able to start testing, had new CDC kits, confirmed the case and found this teenager, who was recovering fortunately as many young people as we know do pretty well with the virus, was just about to enter his school -- had just entered school. They were able to find him, notify him of the test, and close the school for precautions.
The sad thing though is that when the scientists, part of the Seattle Flu Study, sequenced that virus. They looked at the genome and they were able -- the scientist named Trevor Bedford found markers in that genetic makeup of that virus in that teenager who had never travelled, who had no known contact with a case, but was from the same county as that very first case six weeks earlier in January, in Snohomish County, Washington.
The genetics matched up. There was a very good chance that his case had descended. There had been a chain of transmission possibly for six weeks in the Seattle area. And the modellers with the Seattle Flu Study estimated that there could be at that point 500 cases. So that was -- that's really the point here. We were blindfolded for so long.
TAPPER: It's crazy. Dr. Redfield (ph), the head of the CDC, was saying the fact either today or the day before that private labs were not doing more to help out. Here you have a private lab trying to do something basically being stopped by the federal government, stopped by the CDC. How are the FDA and CDC responding this evening to your reporting?
FINK: So, I took these findings to them many days ago. I got to speak with the head of the CDC. You know, he said there were regulations here and their hope they did feel that Seattle -- I mean, that's the irony of it, too.
They had identified Seattle as one of five American cities that needed a surveillance system. And they were hoping to get the regular flu surveillance system that we have in this country up and running to monitor the population much as the Seattle Flu Study was willing to do.
The problem was that the state didn't have the testing capacity at that point. So they said it's difficult. FDA came back and said that, you know, labs and, you know, not this lab but those private labs that you're talking about, the ones that are able to do clinical studies, can apply for emergency use of their laboratory-developed test.
But what my colleagues and I keep hearing from those test producers is that that the steps are quite onerous to be able to get that FDA approval. But the FDA a few days ago did make that process a little bit easier and they said that as of today they had quite a number of applications coming in.
So, again, we kept hearing for weeks now there's going to be expanded testing capacity in the U.S. and it still seems to be really dependent on where you are in the country.
TAPPER: All right. Dr. Fink, thank you so much for your reporting. Really appreciate your time tonight.
FINK: Thank you.
TAPPER: Dana, I mean, you know, one of the big mysteries that has been going on here for several months now and I'm sure there will be time for more investigation after this crisis has subsided, hopefully soon, although who knows, is why did it take so long for the federal government, the CDC, Trump administration, the White House, whomever, to realize what was going on?
People have been dying in China now for months for the coronavirus. Why did it take so long? And this is just going to add to the litany of questions that lawmakers on Capitol Hill, presumably Republicans and Democrats, will have.
BASH: I was just reading the article which is really tremendous.
BASH: What you realize and remember is that so many of the processes that are in place with our FDA and with our health care system are done for privacy reasons and just out of concern in general about people's health and not doing things incorrectly.
You know, the federal government wants to make sure things are done correctly which is understandable. But this article points out in a very clear fashion that in a time of crisis, you don't want that. You just want to get the best mind and the best ideas out there.
And the notion of red tape or even these things that are in place to try to protect us are actually hurting us is really remarkable and it does -- it's an operational thing. That starts at the top and the federal government that was not addressed. That's just the bottom line.
TAPPER: There are dead Americans as a result. Coming up is more of our election coverage with new results from Washington State and from Idaho. We are going to squeeze in a quick break. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: We got a key race alert right now. Look at this. Washington State where 89 delegates are at stake, 68 percent of the vote is now in.
BLITZER: Look at how close it is between Biden and Sanders, 32.7 percent, 32.7 percent. Biden is ahead right now by 60 votes, 60 votes. He has 334,701, Bernie Sanders at 641, a 60-vote lead for Biden right now in Washington State.
Look at Idaho right now, much smaller state, 20 delegates at stake. Biden is ahead 46.3 percent, Bernie Sanders 35.7 percent. Thirty-nine percent of the vote in Idaho is now in. Biden is ahead by 3,325 votes. All right, Anderson, back to you.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much. As we come up to the midnight hour -- I mean there is obviously a lot more we know now that we didn't know earlier this evening, but there's still a lot more unknowns ahead with coronavirus. We have no idea how this is going to impact the face of this race.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We don't know. What we do know though is that at least in Michigan, you saw big, big turnout. I mean, everybody is talking about Michigan, Michigan, Michigan. This is going to be, you know, where Bernie gets his groove back or this is going to be where Bernie gets a big setback. He got a setback.
But if you're a Democrat, you can be happy tonight because turnout is up. There is enthusiasm. There is engagement. It seems like it's a revolution. There is a revolution of the middle. We have been waiting this revolution from the left. AOC, Bernie, all this sort of stuff. It seems like there is revolution. But it's from the middle. It's being led by Biden. Nobody saw it coming, but here we are.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there are a lot of disaffected Trump people who ended up saying, I made a mistake, I'm going to come back and get this guy out. I kid you not there were 205 Obama-Trump counties. Biden in these first states won the vast majority of them. I think there's an opportunity both to get out our vote and to persuade.
Just one other thing, I think that his speech tonight, Biden's speech was presidential, was gracious to Bernie Sanders and his supporters. It was an outreach. He mentioned coronavirus, obviously. That's going to be an important thing going forward. I thought it was a great first step onto potentially the general election.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: Yeah. You know, his supporters ought to take a cue from that. You know, we heard reports of Representative Clyburn and James Carville and others saying, you know, it's time to shut this thing down.
This race, the math is inexorable. We know now how it is going to end. But there ought to be a way to allow Bernie Sanders to finish it on his own terms and bring his supporters and give them the respect. If you don't do that, you're going to get off on the wrong foot going into the general. Biden did the right thing tonight. Everybody should take his cue.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Biden started doing that tonight. He gave a shout out to Bernie Sanders. He said he wanted to thank Bernie Sanders and he wanted to bring the party together. I think he'll continue along those lines. My question is what's going to happen at this debate and how these two men going to face each other. If they disagree, how are they going to do it, and how are they going to do it with a goal towards uniting the party.
ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that's right, Gloria. I think, you know, we still got Sunday's debate. I think what's most important is that coming out of this primary, whatever the outcome, is that we recognize that Donald Trump is an existential threat to millions of Americans for so many different reasons. We come together to beat him. We have that opportunity coming out of Sunday to have that conversation about how we beat that individual.
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What you saw tonight is more things unite us than divide us. I mean, the issue of health care, I thought it was very good that Joe Biden talked about that health care is not a privilege but it's a right, taken directly from Senator Sanders' speech. I thought that was a good move.
Obviously, the cost of education is too high in the country. We got to do something about the cost of education. And we got an unfair tax system, which benefits billionaires over working class. I think that is what will unite all of us Democrats as we go forward.
I thought the vice president's speech was calm, steady leadership. That was exactly what was needed. I liked the idea that it wasn't a rally. It looked more presidential. He could just talk.
Listen, I'm the ultimate optimist. I think we're all coming together. In fact, I've invited Abdul. He and I are ready for St. Patrick's Day. I'm going to take him over to the (INAUDIBLE) and I am going to order two big glasses of Guinness beer.
EL-SAYED: You know I don't drink, right?
MCAULIFFE: I knew that when I said it. You know what? I get to drink both of them.
MCAULLIFE: It's a trick.
ANDREW YANG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We were commenting on Joe's speech. I think quiet Joe emanating this calm and reassurance is a really great look. Bernie Sanders is now the most important person in the Democratic Party in terms of what he's going to do moving forward, how he's going to approach this next debate and Super Tuesday. We need to bring the party together at this point. I think Bernie wants to see Trump defeated more than anyone.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER FOR POLITICO: I think one big story from tonight is that Sanders's central theory of being able to reshape the electorate has still not panned out.
BARRON-LOPEZ: It hasn't materialized. It didn't on Super Tuesday. It didn't tonight. And one data point that I thought was striking from 2016 CNN exit polls is that only 11 percent of the voters in Michigan said that electability was a top concern. That is drastic change from then to now.
We saw some of that in 2018. We are seeing it again these last two weeks when it comes to voters really caring the most about defeat, Democratic voters caring the most about defeating Donald Trump.
JONES: The stakes can be higher. My prayer is really with this pandemic. We have so many vulnerable populations. People again who are behind bars, people in -- in Mississippi, you got prison in Mississippi, there have been 20 plus people who have been killed because of violence and stuff like that. You could have death tolls much higher than that in prisons across the country if we don't do something.
So, look, I think that how important elections are could not be clearer than tonight.
COOPER: We're following a close vote in Washington State as well as results from Idaho. Those contests, still undecided as our special coverage continues. We will be right back.