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INSIDE POLITICS

Hundreds Of Millions Around The World Locked Down As Virus Spreads; Trump Vents About Media Coverage Of Coronavirus Response; NYT: Pandemic Highlights Trump's Struggle To Respond To Crisis; Senate Negotiating Details Of Massive Stimulus Plan; Coronavirus And 2020 Presidential Campaign. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired March 22, 2020 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:22]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Stay at home. Self-isolate. Coronavirus is the new normal.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: You really got to adhere to the physical separation. Avoiding crowds, stay out of bars, stay out of restaurants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We absolutely feel like we are in this alone. We're desperate.

KING: Plus, markets crash. Layoffs spike. The economic impact is staggering.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We need to deliver relief, and we need to deliver it now. We need to go big.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We need to make sure workers and labor come first, people are not laid off.

KING: And the president bristles at talk he was slow to act or is at odds with the facts.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's incredible what we have done. You're a terrible reporter. That's what I say. I think it is a very nasty question.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. To our viewers in the out and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday in these very trying times.

The coronavirus numbers are staggering and they're on the rise. The global response and impact is ever changing and increasingly urgent. Borders closed, economies teetering, hospitals in some localities overwhelmed with patients and facing supply shortages, stay at home and social distance are the battle cries of this pandemic. Italy on lockdown, reported nearly 800 deaths just yesterday. It has now passed China as the country with the most coronavirus deaths.

France, also reporting a big weekend spike, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning the U.K.'s national health system might soon be overwhelmed.

The latest global numbers you see them here, 307,000 cases confirmed around the world, with at least 13,000 deaths. Here in the United States, 26,039 confirmed coronavirus cases this hour, 326 deaths here in the United States. At least 84 million Americans are now under state or local orders to stay at home. There will be another week of no school for at least 54 million children here in the United States.

New York is hardest hit, ground zero, a term back on the front page there. Local officials are by the hour it seems expanding shutdowns,

California's governor venting last night at people putting others at risk by ignoring his state's stay at home order.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Be a good neighbor. Be a good citizen. The young people that are still out there on the beaches thinking this is a party, time to grow up. You know, time to wake up. Time to recognize it is not just about the old folks, it is about your impact on their lives. Don't be selfish.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The top four congressional leaders were meeting this morning, later today with the treasury secretary. That in hopes of reaching agreement on a coronavirus stimulus package to help workers and businesses here in the United States, staggered by this pandemic. The price tag could approach $2 trillion.

Amidst all this, the White House team trying to project progress, insisting the testing backlog is being eliminated and it is using its new powers and its emergency response system to serve masks and protective equipment to front line workers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It amazing what is happening with the private sector. They're in sixth gear, I think, which responded in full force, helping to produce and supply much needed masks, swabs, sanitizers, ventilators, and everything else. There is a move on that's incredible now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: But the administration's upbeat tone is challenged by those working in the areas hardest hit. And the president's medical advice is once again an issue, one Saturday tweet suggested two drugs approved for other ailments could be a coronavirus game changer. But yet again, the government's top infectious disease expert had to clean it up. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: For those who lean to the point of giving hope and saying give that person the option of having access to that drug, and then you have the other group which is my job, as a scientist, to say, my job is to ultimately prove without a doubt that a drug is not only safe, but that it actually works. I've got to do my job as a scientist and others have other things to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their important insights, Maggie Haberman with "The New York Times", Toluse Olorunnipa with "The Washington Post", Dr. Ashish Jha of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician affiliated with Brown University.

Dr. Jha, I want to start with you. When we came on the air last Sunday, we were just shy of 3,000 cases, about 2,900 cases here in the United States, we're about 126,000 now. You're familiar with the global numbers as well.

Where are we big picture in the fight?

DR. ASHISH JAH, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, so we're still in the early days. Look, we are now the only Italy and China are ahead of us in terms of number of cases.

[08:05:03]

I suspect, John, over the next week we may end up having more cases here than any other place in the world. Part of it is we're catching up. Testing is starting to move.

We tested about 40,000 people yesterday. That's the best estimate we have as of this morning. That's better. That's better. That's progress.

I believe we should be probably testing 100,000 to 150,000 a day, so we're still pretty far behind, but much better. But as testing ramps up, we'll identify more cases, and so all the work we're doing right now will feel like we're not slowing things down, but we are. We're just catching up and there are a lot more cases out there that we haven't identified.

KING: And, Dr. Ranney, we spoke earlier in the week and you were talking about how desperate it is to be in the emergency room, the patients are coming, more patients coming in, the lack of equipment, the shortages of testing, you heard the White House briefing yesterday, yesterday they acknowledged some issues but say there is a surge under way and things are getting better by the hour. Is that the case when you go to work?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, LIFESPAN/BROWN UNIVERSITY: We are not yet seeing things get better in terms of access to supplies. I'll say my hospital has gotten a lot of donations recently from people in the community. But we haven't seen that influx and hopeful the federal government will step up and start distributing supplies appropriately. But it is not showing up at the front lines at this point.

KING: I want to look at some of the numbers up here, just the growth in the big states here in the United States over the past week. New York, up more than a thousand percent, New Jersey up 645 percent, California, 183 percent, Washington state, just shy of 100 percent, meaning the cases are growing.

If you look just in New York, look at the state of New York, 950 on Monday, 1,300-plus on Tuesday, you see the number goes up, more than 12,260 on Saturday.

Maggie Haberman, you're not just a great Washington reporter, a long time resident of New York City. To see ground zero on the front page of "The Daily News", it is like a kick in the head if you have lived through history.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It is a kick in the head, John. It is also the reality that we're living in in New York City. New York City is a relatively small landmass with a lot of people. Here in Brooklyn, where I live, there are at least, as of a couple of days ago, have been the most cases in the city.

It is haunting for people who live through September 11th as you say, the difference is with September 11th, it was difficult for about two weeks afterwards and there was just a huge effort by the part of local leaders, state leaders, Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki, George W. Bush, to unify, to give a sense of hope, and to basically let life return to normal and say we can't let this ruin our lives and let it govern our lives.

There is no way to do that with the virus. A virus is not going to respond to that kind of approach, and so there is no clear end in sight in New York. No clear end in sight in any state, frankly, that is contending with the virus outbreak and I think that I understand, you know, we talked a lot about this in the last week, that President Trump is trying to get hope and he gets angry at reporters when they question what he's saying, but there is a difference between projecting hope and saying things that aren't true.

And right now, it is incumbent upon all elected officials to say what is real and what is true. And what actual facts are and so I think that if what the -- if the president and other elected officials want to bring the country together, that is going to be how you do it.

KING: And to that point, let's listen to just a little bit of the president yesterday. Look, the president faces a difficult challenge.

Maggie is dead right. He should not be hyping drugs that aren't proven to have worked. He should not be saying things that aren't true. He should be trying to help the president -- the country through this.

The question is, is this too optimistic?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I want to thank all of the incredible people of our country, the citizens of our country, that what you've done and the way you're responding has just been very special, something that we will never forget, that the history books will never forget. We're going to have a great victory. We're going to be celebrating a great victory in the not too distant future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Toluse, we don't know when that not too distant future is. And we certainly hope the president is right. I'm not sure victory is the right term. We hope he's right there will be progress very quickly.

But one of the issues here is not just his words, but his style. He authorized use of the Defense Production Act, for example, war time powers, to essentially tell American factories you will produce this and do it now. He authorized it but has not used it. There is pressure from congress, pressure from governors, but the president's position has been let the mayors and let the governors deal with this, we're here as the backup, not as the leaders.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, the president's penchant to put a positive spin on things, we have seen it at rallies, we've seen at previous parts of his presidency, everything is great, everything is much better than it actually is. It is ill suited for a pandemic in which you need to tell the American public to take drastic actions because the president was saying, you know, this is all going to go away, it is all going to wash through the system, it made it harder for the public health officials to say, we're in a serious crisis and people need to change the way they live their lives.

[08:10:10]

And I think that's part of the discordant message you've seen between the president on one hand and some of his public health experts saying completely different things. When it comes to the Defense Production Act, the president also has been inconsistent on that. That's a very broad power of the presidency to sort of compel these private companies to produce a lot of this material that is needed in the hospitals and ventilators and what not.

He signed the executive order and then said he didn't need it and it seems like he's not sure about whether or not to take the drastic step, even though public health officials, hospitals, doctors are saying we need this material, we need you to use these powers, the president seems to be wanting to say everything is not as bad as it seems, maybe we don't need this, everything will be fine, we can get all of these companies to do this voluntarily.

And that sense of trying to put a positive spin on things does make it harder to have a public health response based on science and based on the facts.

KING: And we'll continue the conversation as we go forward. Everybody, stand by. Up next for us here, the big medical questions, are there dramatic restrictions helping to slow the march of the coronavirus? And what it is like for healthcare workers and patients on the front lines of this global fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN HARRIS, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: These people have to take this serious. I know you're going to be inconvenienced for a while with social distancing. However, do you want to be socially dead six months from now?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[08:15:34]

(BEGN VIDEO CLIP)

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's closing all nonessential factories and business. He says this is the most severe crisis to hit Italy since World War II.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning this Mother's Day, the best present we can give to those who gave us life is sparing them the risk of coronavirus.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are using some 4,000 city buses as ambulances. They are using nine hotels as hospital wards, on top of the 5,000 plus beds they are currently putting up in a convention center in the city.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Those sobering global updates come amid shifts in the medical response in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration now authorizing the first use of a rapid diagnostic test that could deliver quicker results, positive or negative result in approximately 45 minutes.

This as we see a shift in testing strategy at two coronavirus hot spots, both Los Angeles County and New York City are now recommending that doctors skip testing those with symptoms unless they believe a test would lead to a different diagnosis or treatment recommendation.

Plus, this, a new statistic from New York, majority, 54 percent of New York state cases are of patients in the 18 to 49 age range.

Dr. Ashish Jha of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and Dr. Megan Ranney of Brown University are still with us.

Dr. Jha, I want to start with you on this question of testing. The administration had some numbers yesterday. They say testing is dramatically up in the United States. We can show you the graph there of what the administration says. They're making a ton of progress doing this. You also wrote an article in "The Atlantic" saying no, we need to do

this a different way. There is a big debate about this. You see Los Angeles and New York, I don't know if that's a medical decision or more of a supply and demand issue here.

You advocate there should be random testing so that we have a better grasp of how widespread this virus is. Walk us through this.

JHA: Yes, so, John, look, we have got to have more testing. I don't know any public health expert who doesn't think we need to be testing more. What I think New York, L.A., other places are doing is rationing testing and trying to make decisions based on a limited supply.

So, right now, we have got to be testing people who are high risk, people for whom the treatment will change by the test. But eventually, we got to get to a point where we have enough testing around that we can be testing asymptomatic people who had contact with patients with COVID, because we know those are the people really spreading the disease. And ultimately, we have to get to a point where we are doing a certain amount of surveillance to know how much disease there is in the community.

I'm not advocating for that right now because we just don't have enough tests. But once we get beyond the shortage and hopefully that will happen in the next couple of weeks, we'll have ramped up enough, then we need a much broader testing strategy.

But I get why they're doing what they're doing. They're rationing testing. They don't have mass tests as they would like.

KING: And, Dr. Ranney, I want you to listen from the president yesterday, talking about the issue of personal protective equipment, mostly focusing on masks here. But this, again, we have discussed this many times, this is an urgent concern, you're in Rhode Island, you hear it from doctors around the United States of America, saying we are putting ourselves at risk, not just doctors, all health care workers putting ourselves at risk treating patients because we can't protect ourselves.

The president says there are a number of ways to make this better.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Throwing away the masks away, when you hear 55 million masks were -- 55 million. How could it possibly be such a number? I said, why aren't we sanitizing masks? You look at the masks, looked at the different masks?

Some don't lend themselves to doing that, I think. About many do. I said, we have very good liquids for doing this, sanitizing the masks. That's something they're starting to do more and more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Is that something they're starting to do more and more is that good advice from the president? RANNEY: So I would love to invite president Trump to come to my

hospital with me and see what my co-workers are doing at the recommendation of the CDC. We are re-using procedural masks N95s and face shields for as long as we can to preserve them. We are wiping down the face shields with bleach wipes, but it is really impossible to sterilize the N95s or the procedural masks at this point.

There is no liquids that can do that without destroying the fabric and their protective ability. The CDC itself told us to continue to re-use these as long as we possibly can.

I'll note for the president on an average shift in the emergency department, I see somewhere between 20 and 30 patients.

[08:20:05]

If you multiply that by all the patients that come through my ED, all the patients that come through the different emergency departments across the country, ideally, we would be going through millions of masks a day. That's the safe thing to do to protect us and our patients.

Unfortunately, right now, we're not -- we're re-using them, we're putting ourselves at risk as healthcare workers on the direction of the CDC. I really hope that we can soon see a federal system for distributing these masks and other supplies where they are most needed.

The regional has been great. My governor has been great. My hospital has been great. Other states have done a good job.

But we can't do it alone on a state by state basis. We really need a federal response here.

KING: And I just want to show, to both of you, I hope you can see it, hospitalized patients, 9 percent, 85 and older, in a 65 to 84 age range, 36 percent, 17 percent, 55 to 64, 38 percent if you add up, 45 to 54 and 20 to 44.

Dr. Jha, what are we learning as we go through this, about early on it was, you know, older people most vulnerable. They're most vulnerable of getting seriously ill or worse. But else are we learning about this virus and its spread?

JHA: Yes, what we're learning is that young people are not immune. So, this whole idea this is the -- young people will only have a mild flu- like thing and they'll all be better, many people will. But clearly what we're seeing is that some young people, people in their 20s and 30s and 40s getting incredibly sick, they end up in the ICU, they end up in a ventilator, they end up dying.

And so, this idea that this is only affecting a part of our population, I've always been skeptical of that, I think the data now is very clear that affects everybody. Of course, it affects older people more. But young people are not spared by this disease. KING: And, Dr., Ranney, jump in on that very point. You're in the

emergency room every day. I want to show some pictures. We have talked about social distancing.

Just some pictures over the weekend here, people need to get outside, I get it. You need to get outside.

But that is not safe. Those people are -- that's in California. Those people are way too close together.

This is in Washington, down on the mall, again, people need to get outside and breathe, but that is reckless. I'm sorry, I don't know another word for it.

There's a little spacing there in Central Park as people try to exercise.

Dr. Ranney, to the point that Dr. Shah was just making, what is different this week in terms of what you're seeing in the emergency room as opposed to several days or a week ago?

RANNEY: Yes, so day by day we're seeing increased number of patients with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Young, old, they really like Dr. Shah mentioned span the full age spectrum.

Unfortunately, we simply don't have tests. My entire state is running out of tests and we're rationing them just as New York and California are. So I can't say what number of them have COVID-19.

But my plea to my neighbors, my plea to my community and my governor has been for people to stay at home, to maintain that social distancing. You know, school is out, but that's not a reason to go and have a sleepover or have a house party, right? That's going to spread the virus.

And then I see people coming into my ED with symptoms that I truly can't diagnose. I just have to guess and then tell them to home quarantine and cross my fingers that they actually follow the instructions and stay home.

KING: Rationing tests are hard words to swallow in the middle of this, rationing tests.

RANNEY: Uh-huh.

KING: Doctors, I appreciate both of you. I'm incredible grateful for your facts and insights as we try to work through this. We'll bring you back in the days and weeks and sadly probably months ahead.

Up next for us, the president is tested in an election year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Words about a pandemic at this point?

TRUMP: No, not at all. We're -- we have it totally under control. I've always known this is a -- this is a real -- this is a pandemic. I

felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:27:52]

KING: The president bristles at any suggestion he has not been on top of the coronavirus crisis from the very beginning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It is so insulting when they write phony stories that they know are fake news because they're not insulting me, they're insulting everybody, these incredible people that have worked so hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: But the president's words speak for themselves, he is correct in saying he moved quickly to block travel into the United States from China. But it is also correct that early on, he underestimated or refused to acknowledge the threat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're going down, not up. We're going very substantially down, not up. You have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we have done.

It is going to disappear. One day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear.

We're doing a great job with it, and it will go away, just stay calm. It will go away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: For weeks the president was adamant, there was no and would be no election year crisis. But viruses don't respond to tweets and tough talk. And this past week, his tone shifted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I view it as a -- in a sense, a war time president. That's what we're fighting.

Our big war is not a financial war, it is a war -- it is a medical war. We have to win this war. It is very important.

And thanks to the spirit of our people, we will win this war and we are -- we're winning and we're going to win this war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: One constant from the beginning, a president whose words and tone often at odds with the health professionals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: This is a common malaria drug and it has shown very encouraging, very, very encouraging early results. I think it could be a game changer.

REPORTER: Is there any evidence to suggest as with malaria, it might be used as a prophylaxis against COVID-19?

FAUCI: The answer is no. It was not done under control of clinical trial, so you really can't make any definitive statement about it.

TRUMP: It may work, may not work. I feel good about it. It is just a feeling. You know, I'm a smart guy. I feel good about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[08:29:57]

KING: Toluse Olorunnipa, one of the most striking things about watching all these briefings has been Tony Fauci trying to be polite, trying to not say no, the President is wrong but essentially saying no, the President is wrong.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes, that's exactly and he talked to Maureen Down in "The New York Times" about this today in terms of saying, you know, there have been multiple times he's had to correct the President even though he's saying he does not want to act like a tough guy or act like he's trying to embarrass the President. But when the President puts out misinformation, as a scientist, it's his role when he's asked directly about that misinformation to put out the actual information and the actual facts.

And that's one of issues with this presidential response is that we've seen so much inconsistency. We've seen the President talk about being a smart guy. About how his uncle went to MIT and how he knows more than the experts. And then we've seen the experts have to come back and clean up a lot of his statements over time.

And throughout this crisis we've seen the President planting the flag in the end zone saying, you know, we've done a great job. This is all going to be over and we've just seen the numbers continue to go up and go higher, even as the President continues to congratulate himself, continues to say that he's doing a great job.

And that's not necessarily going to help solve the crisis, this self- congratulatory stance that the President is taking. It does seem like the experts on his team are much more focused on putting out the information while the President is focused on claiming credit and saying that he's doing a great job.

KING: Maggie -- along with your great colleague Peter Baker, the both of you, great reporters who understand this president and understand the presidency which is important, write today, "Mr. Trump's performance on the national stage in recent weeks has put on display the traits that Democrats and some Republicans consider so jarring.

The profound need for personal praise, the propensity to blame others, the lack of human empathy, the penchant for rewriting history. The disregard for expertise, the distortion of facts, the impatience with scrutiny or criticism. For years skeptics expressed concern about how he would handle a genuine crisis threatening the nation, and now they know."

Again, he bristles at the suggestion he didn't get this from moment one. But his own words, either he didn't get it or he deliberately downplayed it.

HABERMAN: John -- I think it's the latter frankly, and maybe a bit of the former. It could be both. But he certainly was afraid of rattling the financial markets which he treats as his political weather vain.

And so while he was getting warnings about this he was trying not to have it become too much of a conversation. It is true, as you note, that he did cancel a lot of flights from China, but he -- and that was wise a lot of experts say since and he did get criticized for it at the time. I understand why he's sensitive to that.

That said he's treated it something of a mission accomplished moment, right, where I did that and therefore this was great. He did that. And then the government proceeded to squander a lot of time in part because he did not want to be talking about this publicly.

And to your other question, he tends to look at these things only through the lens of how it affects him and how it is being played in the media. Those are his driving, animating impulses and forces and you see it every day.

You see it in part by the fact he is now, since last Sunday -- it's only been a week -- he comes to the briefing room podium every day because Mike Pence had been there prior to that and was getting praise for how he was at least speaking publicly about it.

None of this is what one would call ideal crisis leadership, but it is, I think, the best he can do.

KING: And part of the issue is when he says something, does he mean it? Is it factual? We've talked about him recommending drugs out there that Tony Fauci has to come up and say, now wait a minute -- whoa, whoa, whoa -- we need to have a trial to see if they're safe.

Then another question is just what is he doing? And listen here to this exchange. It's very confusing. The President authorized the use -- allowed himself to invoke the Defense Protection Act, wartime powers, but he has not done so. When you ask him a question about it, it's easy to get confused.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're using it now to tell business to make ventilators --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are using it. We are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- masks, respirators --

TRUMP: Yes. Yes, yes. For certain things that we need.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying that the administration is requiring these industries to create these products or just asking?

TRUMP: So far we haven't had to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You haven't actually directed any companies to start making more ventilators or masks?

TRUMP: I have. I have, yes. I have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many companies?

TRUMP: A lot. A lot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have not yet compelled any companies. Why not?

TRUMP: Because we have so many companies making so many products without having to use the act. If we don't have to use -- specifically, we have the act to use in case we need it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Jackie Kucinich -- it is hard. We are using it, or we have it if we want to use it but we're not using it. It's hard to follow.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE DAILY BEAST": Truly. And that's not the only area where we've seen this. There was the issue with the hospital ships that were going to be available. But actually, in fact, were not ready to go to the coast.

You know, the President has a way of trying to create his own reality. We saw him do that through several of his self-made crises.

And this is not something -- the virus is not going to capitulate to that. He can't create his own media environment like he does on the right.

[08:34:55]

KUCINICH: This is real. It continues to happen. And to your point about the -- that act, it isn't clear why he's not -- why he's not invoking it. It really isn't. Is it because for economic concerns?

But that's a question that they need to have an answer to because those needs are out there. The ventilator needs are out there and these things need -- for masks and those needs are not going to go away any time soon.

KING: Right. And when he is challenged or when he is questioned -- Jeff Zeleny, he's chosen at least, it's a reason to start attacking reporters. JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Of course. The

President, we know, likes to have an enemy. When he does battle, he must sort of frame this fight around something.

We've seen two things this week that have changes. A, calling it the Chinese virus. He is again trying to reframe this as a fight with the Chinese and also a fight against the press. That's very familiar space for him, I guess, if you will.

One thing the President is missing is his rallies. His rallies were the place where he would sort of let off steam. The press room frankly has become that vehicle for him to vent in that respect. So he's trying to reshape the narrative.

I think we must look at this in a couple of ways. One, the politics of how we got here but more importantly to press the President and the administration on what they are doing in this moment and tomorrow and the week after that. That, I think, is as important.

We do not know politically speaking how this is going to end but we should focus on the substance. So the President -- I talked to a lot of advisers, people around him, people who hope he does well. They wonder why do you have to come into the briefing room every day while the markets are open and other things.

So he needs to, though. He wants that spotlight and attention and he'll be there, we believe, this afternoon.

KING: He can come in, lead, hand off to the experts for his part. But we'll watch this as it evolves. We will watch.

Up next, the markets down, layoffs up, factories closed -- the coronavirus public health emergency is also an economic wrecking ball.

[08:36:42]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Urgent meetings this Sunday as congressional leaders try to reach agreement on an economic stimulus package with a price tag in the ballpark of $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion.

Those are staggering numbers. And yet, just about everyone involved in the negotiations is quick to say, it is just a down payment because we don't know, can't yet know the full economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Let's take a look at some of the headlines just from the past week. The hotel industry furloughs. The auto industry furloughs. Shuttered factories. The entertainment industry in Las Vegas shut down. Massachusetts economy hit. New York restaurant group lays off 2,000 people.

These are just some of the sampling across the country and a lot of jobs at stake here. Nearly 16 million people work in retail trade in the United States. More than 12 million in restaurants and bars. More than two million in the hotel and lodging industry.

You see these numbers here -- all of these industries impacted. People being laid off. Factories closed. Restaurants closed.

Here is the worry. You see the overall growth of the United States economy. This is back in 2008, the financial crisis. You see the recession and the dip. Well somewhere, you see that, around 9 percent dip.

Some worry it's possible we could go from this modest growth where we are now -- negative 24 percent growth. The President's former economic adviser now headed back to the White House to help. Calls that, if it happens, the Great Depression.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN HASSETT, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIST: If it runs into the summer and the fall, then I think that we're going to have to either have a great depression or figure out a way to send people back to work even though that's risky. Because at some point, we can't not have an economy.

If we just -- everybody stays home for six months, then, you know, it's hard -- it's going to be like the great depression. And so the question is just like, if we don't make any progress of the virus, then they're going to have to figure something out to get people back to work. And, you know, maybe it's people work with masks on and things like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Joining our conversation, Mark Zandi, the chief economist for Moody's Analytics and Jeanna Smialek, economics reporter for the "New York Times".

Mark -- let me start with you. Is it potentially as bad as that, a great depression? And when the congressional leaders are meeting -- checks to Americans, bailout for affected industries -- are there things Washington can do to make it better, or is it just a band-aid?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Well, John -- yes, it is conceivable that it could be great depression-like, at least for a while. It depends on the extent and the length of the lockdowns. That matters a lot.

And of course, it does matter what policymakers do -- what lawmakers do here. If they pass a large stimulus this week -- $2 trillion sounds about right to me and make it very open-ended. I think that would go a long way to helping and certainly buying something time to see how this plays out.

So it's going to be a rough ride regardless of what they do. But if they act quickly and they act strongly, I think that will go a long way to mitigating the damage.

KING: And Jeanna -- if we look at some of the things that are proposed -- we'll see what the final product ends up. Speaker Pelosi came back from California to join the negotiations today.

But checks to every American, bailouts for industries impacted here, increased unemployment benefits, loans to small businesses, loans to airlines and others could get up to $2 trillion. What are the tools the federal government has in the sense that you spend a lot of time covering the fed, for example, which has already done a lot and some question whether it has the power to do much more?

So who has the power, if you will, that can help?

JEANNA SMIALEK, ECONOMICS REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right. So I think the Fed has done some really important things to keep sort of the inner gears of markets turning. Fiscal policy is clearly going to come in and need to help here.

I think the Fed -- what the Fed is doing is find of, you know, a band- aid on a bullet wound at this point. The problem is just so vast that their powers really don't extend to sort of the kinds of things you would need to prop up individual households and businesses, or at any rate, it's hard to get there for them.

So I think what you're really going to need to see is some sort of congressional action. And we're clearly seeing that take shape to really help these businesses get through what is going to be a very challenging period.

KING: And Mark -- help me understand. The President talks about skyrocketing back out of this. He says it will just shoot up like a rocket. A, do you think he's right and, B, how much are we not thinking about in the sense that we're all focused on the urgent challenge for the American economy right now but this is a global pandemic and you see maybe China starting to recover. We're not certain about that yet. But you see what's happening in Europe.

How hostage are we, if that's the right word, to the international developments as well?

ZANDI: Yes. No, the President's wrong. This is not going to be easy recovery. I mean obviously it's going to be very deep severe downturn. Three million to four million jobs I'm estimating we've already lost. Another 10 million jobs are at risk so -- in the next few weeks.

[08:44:52]

ZANDI: So this is not going to be easy. And the thing that's going to make it really tough is there's going to be many business failures and bankruptcies. And so if there's not businesses around on the other side of this, getting back up and running is going to be difficult.

And you're absolutely right -- John. You know, this is -- we're focused on us here, and rightfully so, but this is a global pandemic and look what this is doing to the rest of the world, particularly Europe. And so that's going to also make it incredibly difficult to get back on the rails very, very quickly.

KING: And Jeanna -- you see all the turmoil in the markets. I mean that just adds to people's anxiety when they watch this play out.

SMIALEK: Right. Absolutely. And I think it's important for people to know that if that turmoil in the markets, and sort of especially in the bond markets, continues, it's going to be harder for businesses to sort of renew their financing, which could sort of exacerbate the problem Mark just raised where we see bankruptcies and people just not being able to fund themselves and stay in business which is just going to make the job losses that we're seeing now more permanent and thus a lot more painful.

KING: A lot more painful. A lot more painful.

Appreciate both of you coming in today.

Up next for us here -- coronavirus in the 2020 election. Primaries postponed and the challenge of campaigning from home.

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KING: Add the 2020 presidential campaign to the coronavirus disruption list. Yes, three states held contests this past week and Joe Biden swept them -- Florida, Illinois, and Arizona -- expanding his lead, you see it here, it's a big one, to the point where a Bernie Sanders path to victory is now beyond improbable.

[08:49:59]

KING: But Ohio is still gray -- you see that -- canceled its primary at the last minute. The campaign is now in an unprecedented holding pattern. Primaries are being postponed. Big rallies -- out of the question. And the candidates are trying to find the right tone for politics in the middle of a pandemic.

Senator Sanders got frustrated when asked about whether he plans to bow out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your time frame for making a decision.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Stop with this. I'm dealing with a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) global crisis, you know. We're dealing with it and you're asking me these questions, right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're running for president so that's a question --

SANDERS: Well, right now I'm running --

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: -- right now, I'm trying to do my best to make sure that we don't have an economic meltdown and that people don't die. Is that enough for you? To keep me busy for today?

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Biden for his part is home in Delaware planning daily sessions with reporters to beginning this week. That's an effort to be as visible as an alternative to President Trump.

Over the weekend, he tweeted a video in which the Obama administration's ebola coordinator made the case President Trump was too slow to recognize the coronavirus threat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON KLAIN, BIDEN ADVISER AND FORMER EBOLA RESPONSE COORDINATOR: The coronavirus that's been spreading around the world started spreading in January of 2020. Some countries acted quickly.

What did President Trump do? He downplayed it.

The coronavirus is not Donald Trump's fault. But the fact that our country was not ready for it and it responded so slowly, well, President Trump says he bears no responsibility for that. The responsibility falls squarely on his shoulders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It is interesting, Jackie Kucinich, to see the Biden campaign making a decision and it seems there's some risk involved to take on the President politically in the middle of a national and global pandemic.

KUCINICH: Well, right. It is really a delicate balance that the Biden campaign is trying to maintain because on one hand they do still have a primary. They still have a primary opponent in Bernie Sanders and there have been some calls, calls are even getting louder last week, of where Joe Biden was on the coronavirus issue, why wasn't he speaking out.

So they are transitioning into this new phase where they are going to have Biden and his medical experts, his task force that he's assembled. I don't know if it's going to be responding to the President, but certainly putting out their own messaging about this. It is truly an unprecedented territory here because you don't want to look like you're making pot shots from the sidelines while the President is handling a national crisis of unprecedented proportions.

KING: Right. And the campaign tells us, the Biden campaign, we will see him almost daily, if not daily this week where he just wants to have sessions with reporters --

KUCINICH: Yes.

KING: -- he wants to be on camera. He wants to present himself essentially, you see the President every day, here is how I would handle this.

Listen to the former vice president here. This is an audio of a call with reporters early this week where again, he's quite critical of the President. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In times of crisis the American people deserve a president who tells them the truth and takes responsibility. Unfortunately President Trump has not been that president.

People are scared. They're worried. They don't know quite what to do. The President has been behind the curve throughout this whole response. He's talking about yesterday and today rather than where we need to be tomorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Jeff Zeleny -- obviously the campaign has changed. There was a point in the campaign we wondered how much will this be about impeachment?

ZELENY: Right.

KING: How much will it be about the President's tweet? How much of it will be about health care? It will be about the economy, obviously.

ZELENY: Right.

KING: But Biden is trying to say, I've been there. I can pull the levers of government. I'm very different.

ZELENY: He is. He's trying to say that. The question is who is listening and is that being heard? The Biden campaign is dealing with several things.

One, they're trying to become the general election nominee here. Bernie Sanders is still in but they're looking beyond him. But they're not quite ready for this moment.

I mean Joe Biden is an old-fashioned, hand-shaking politician. It was clear that they are not ready for the communications required for this.

I was on that conference call with him on Friday afternoon. And it was an old fashioned conference call that barely made any news coverage. But he, I'm told, is really first and foremost getting up to speed on this. He's having these meetings four and five times a day, getting briefed on this. As though he was president.

So we're going to see a dramatic uptick in his involvement and visibility in the coming week here. But they are very mindful of not trying to politicize this. So we'll see sort of how that works for him.

But I think the most important thing this week was that Michael Bloomberg gave his money to the DNC and this is moving on beyond Bernie Sanders. So we don't know how long he'll stay in the race. But the Bidens are moving on. KING: Right. They are and as they do, Jackie and Jeff both -- there is

a debate among Democratic strategists -- two close friends, two guys who work together on the Obama campaign, David Plouffe and David Axelrod, about should you be running ads now. There are Super PACs running ads harshly critical of the President.

Some Democrats say well, save that, wait until June or July and get closer to the election.

Here's the exchange: David Axelrod says there will be plenty of time for voters to judge Donald Trump and his handling of the coronavirus including the first weeks when he dangerously == sent dangerously misleading signals by downplaying the threat. But now doesn't seem to be the moment for negative ads. That's David Axelrod.

[08:54:56]

KING: Here is David Plouffe -- his friend and colleague in the Obama campaign. "One of the rare times we disagree, brother, using Trump's own words and actions to remind people of his failures while he tries to rewrite history is essential. And his campaign will spend whatever it takes TO create their own reality of his perfect response. Can't disarm."

Again sort of my -- I've been at this a while, my old school instincts say, gosh wait. Wait until closer to the election. But in these polarized times some Democrats think, you can't stop.

KUCINICH: Well, I think the Ron Klain ad that the Biden campaign had running on Twitter, which is where I saw it, has tried to walk that line between educating the public on what's going on and pointing out some of the administration's and Trump's himself missteps.

But it is. It's a delicate balance, because people don't want to hear politicians tearing each other down right now.

KING: A lot of things have changed but not everything.

ZELENY: Without a doubt. And I think you also wonder -- I was talking to David Axelrod about that as well -- are those ads even going to break through. Is it a wise use of money to be spending money on that at this moment?

You know, we'll see, there is a lot of money out there for negative ads, but I think we do not know where this is going to end. But we do know that this campaign now has changed and it is going to be about the economy and about this.

KING: Everything. Everything has changed.

Jackie, Jeff, everyone else -- thanks for getting up early for us on this Sunday. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS.

Hope you can catch us weekdays as well. We're here at noon Eastern covering this crisis going forward. Up next, don't go anywhere, a very important "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. His guests include the FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, and New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday. Be well.

[08:56:33]

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