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Biden Touts "Unity" after Endorsement from Bernie Sanders; Obama to Endorse Biden for President Today via Video Message; NY Governor Cuomo Gives Update on Coronavirus Response. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired April 14, 2020 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:30:36]

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Very big news today in the 2020 presidential race. CNN has learned the former president, Barack Obama, finally plans to weigh in today and formally endorsement his former vice president, Joe Biden. That will come in a video message.

And the Obama endorsement coming one day after Senator Bernie Sanders offered former Vice President Biden backing for the Democratic nomination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): So today, I am asking all of you, I'm asking every Democrats, I'm asking Independent, I'm asking a lot of Republicans to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy that I endorse.

JOE BIDEN, Oh. I want to thank you for being a powerful voice. You have been the most powerful voice for a fair, more-just America. It's a voice like yours that refuses to allow us just to accept what is. You've refused to accept that we can't change what's wrong in our nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: With me to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Jeff Zeleny and CNN's M.J. Lee.

Mr. Zeleny, to you first.

We'll come back to Senator Sanders in a minute. That is a big deal. But then follow it up by the former president of the United States, the most popular Democrat in the land, someone the Biden campaign and all Democrats view as critical, to helping in the unchartered waters of the campaign we're in, gin up fundraising, gin up excitement among Democrats.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. John, this is part of the choreography of how this rollout was going to go, and Barack Obama is a big part of that.

I am told he is going to release a video message that is going to be actually quite long. It's going to go over a variety of things, not just a simple endorsement of his long-time friend and former partner in the White House.

He's going to, of course, endorse Joe Biden. But he's also, I'm told, going to speak to Americans and say why the Biden leadership is needed at this moment.

He's going to, of course, address the worries and fears that people have right now about what is going on in the country and, indeed, around the world.

He also, I'm told, is going to speak directly to progressives. He's going to praise their movement. He's going to praise Bernie Sanders by name.

We should point out Barack Obama has been talking to Bernie Sanders a lot over the past month or so. And his ability and willingness to stay on the sidelines is one of the reasons that Bernie Sanders was doing the endorsement yesterday. And it's one of the reasons that they do believe that this will be a smoother process.

But make no mistake, I'm told the former president will also reach directly out to progressives and say, look, now is the time, or some point in the next six months is the time to get behind Joe Biden. It is needed to defeat President Trump. It's a multi-layer conversation in this video message.

But certainly, John, he is going to play a critical role here in unifying the party. It's one of the main reasons he stayed on the sidelines throughout the process here. So now he believes he is the one that can unify the party. We'll see if it's that easy -- John?

KING: See if that's the easy part, jeff, is what I think is so critical.

We do know, going back to 2008, President Obama has been a trailblazer in politics, in social media. That is the world we find ourselves. Normally, you would see Biden and Senator Sanders, followed up by Biden with President Obama doing rallies around the country, doing unity rallies, trying to create energy and some excitement. Can't do that now. And we don't know when.

But we do know, if you look at former President Obama's tweets in recent days, he's said we need to keep the social distancing restrictions in place, just as President Trump talks about reopening the economy. He has jumped into the debate about how coronavirus is disproportionately hurting African-Americans.

So both in the policy and the politics arena, we know he's itching to get back in. I guess this opens the gates.

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This very much is the new reality and the new world of campaigning during the coronavirus pandemic. Typically, when you are rolling out such a significant endorsement like this one, you would hope to have a big rally. You would really hope to bring in your supporters and create a moment out of such an endorsement.

Obviously, Joe Biden is not in a position to do that right now because campaigning, for all intents and purposes, has simply come to a halt because of --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: M.J. I'm sorry to interrupt.

The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, doing his daily coronavirus briefing out of Albany, New York.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Hospitalizations, actually, basically flat, technically, a tick down, which is probably the first tick down. So that's a good sign, but basically flat. So we think we are at the apex on the plateau.

[11:35:05]

The number of hospitalizations went up, flattened, continuing to flatten. Good sign. Technically, the number is down a tad. Statistically irrelevant but better than being up.

The net change in total hospitalizations, if you look at the curve, which is what we look at, the curve is down. When you do the three-day average, which is more accurate than any one day -- because remember, this reporting mechanism is new. We just put it in during this situation, so I wouldn't bet all the chips on any one day.

But when you look at three days, you look at the overall curve, we think it's indicative. The three-day average is down.

The change in ICU admissions is down. The ICU admissions I take with a grain of salt since hospitals are no longer what they were and they're basically all ICU wards.

Intubation is a real number. That's the number of people being put on a ventilator. About 80 percent of those people will not come off of a ventilator. So when you see the intubations, that is proportionate to the number of people we will lose and that's what we've been watching all along.

People going to the hospital, most are treated and get discharged. Some are not discharged. If they're intubated, about 80 percent of the people who are intubated will not come off the ventilator.

The number of new people going into the hospital per day is also down, but we still have 1,600 new COVID cases yesterday. So we have 1,600 people new coming into the hospital, some being discharged.

And the net is what we've been watching, but it's also interesting to note that you still have 1,600 new people walking into the hospital or who were in a hospital and then diagnosed with COVID. So the volume is still high, and that's why the hospitals are still working very hard.

We have been watching for growth outside of New York City, Long Island, Worcester, Rockland. That has basically been flat. There have been a few hot spots here and there.

The Department of Health has been very good about jumping on those hot spots and tamping them down. Test, isolate, trace.

And you see the numbers by region across the state. Proportionately, obviously, downstate New York, which is what we've been talking about, but looking for growth along Long Island, Rochester, Rockland. Rest of the state, proportionately, upstate is very, very low to everything else in the state.

This is something else we're watching. This is the number of deaths in nursing homes. And the nursing homes have been an increasing issue. The nursing home issue was flagged by the first cases we had in the state of Washington, because that is the vulnerable population in the vulnerable place.

And we've been worrying about nursing homes from day one, as we saw in the state of Washington. But you see the percentage of loss of life has been higher in the nursing homes compared to the hospitals.

Lives lost yesterday, 778. That number is up. And to me that is the most painful number. It has been the painful number every day. And those New Yorkers are in our thoughts and prayers.

You look at the past few days and the number of lives lost, it's basically flat at a devastating level of pain and grief. But it evidences everything else we're seeing, which is basically a flattening at this level.

The statisticians will say number of lives lost is a lagging indicator, which is a nice scientific term, but it doesn't mean it is not just terrible, terrible, terrible news. And nothing we can do about it.

Although many New Yorkers are doing everything they can to save people's lives on a daily basis at great personal cost to themselves.

Total number of deaths is 10,834.

[11:40:02]

What we have learned through this process is that our actions determine our destiny. And that's actually good news. We changed the curve.

Every projection model, White House, CDC, coronavirus White House Task Force, Columbia, Cornell, Gates-funded group, every projection had a higher rate of infection, higher rate of death. CDC was talking about over a million people. CDC was talking about projections that would have swamped the nation's hospital system. That didn't happen.

Why didn't it happen? Because of what we did. And that's important to remember and realize. We changed the curve.

A better way to say it is we are changing the curve every day. We have shown that we control the virus, the virus doesn't control us. And this is a big deal.

Look, we could have been in a place where we couldn't stop the spread of the virus. We could have done this whole lockdown, close-down, shutdown, and you still could have seen those numbers going up. That would have been a frightening place.

We should take some comfort in the fact that we have demonstrated that we can actually control the spread of the virus. Now, tremendous, dramatic pain to do it, shut down everything. But thank god we can control the spread.

Can you imagine how bad a situation it would be if we did all of this and you still saw those numbers going up? You lock up your family, you protect them, but somehow the virus still infiltrated the house. That would have been frightening. So there's good news in this.

But there's also a caution flag. We are, in some ways, artificially controlling that curve. We've taken all these extraordinary actions and we are reducing the rate of infection.

That means whatever we do today will determine the infection rate tomorrow. It is total cause and effect. So you stop doing what you're doing or you behave differently and you will get a different result.

That's important to remember as we talk about reopening. Everybody is anxious to reopen. I get it. I'm anxious to reopen.

Carla and Kayla went out of the house. I trust them. They love me. They trust me. They love me. They love spending time with me, but they are sort of done with the entire experience. That's universal. People need to get back to work. The state needs an economy. We cannot sustain this for a prolonged period of time. Everybody agrees.

But everybody will also say, how you reopen is everything, because of the first point, which is we are now keeping down that rate of infection. And if you start acting differently, you will see a corresponding increase in that rate of infection.

And the worst scenario would be if we did all of this, we got that number down, everybody went to extraordinary means, and then we go to reopen and we reopen too fast or we reopen and there's unanticipated consequences and we see that number go up again.

Well, you're being hypercautious. Really? Go look at other countries that went through exactly this, started to reopen, and then they saw the infection rate go back up again. So let's at least learn from past mistakes.

We've laid out a way to reopen, coming up with a comprehensive plan first that is regional in nature. We have seven states that we're working with. The virus doesn't understand state boundaries, doesn't understand that it needs a passport. It defies all of our norms. So how do you put the best minds together in a seven-state area? Come

up with a regional strategy because the virus can get on Amtrak, the virus can get on a plane, the virus can get in a car and travel on I- 95. We're all connected.

In truth, since nobody knows where they're going and no one has done this before, let's think together and let's plan together. If we can't come up with a common plan, let's see if we can come up with a plan that's not contradictory. Let's see if we can get to a place where whatever Connecticut does, New Jersey does, is not counter to what we're doing here in New York. And that's the point of the seven states working together.

[11:45:26]

Also, it doesn't work unless you coordinate the reactivation of all the systems. I did this graphic because no one got when I went like this yesterday, and I said the gears have to mesh. This is what I was saying.

I could see, Nick, that you did not get what this meant. So that's a clarifier for you personally from yesterday.

We also have to be clear on who is responsible for each element of the opening. The president said last night that he has total authority for determining how and when states open. That is not an accurate statement, in my opinion.

Now that we know that government actually matters and government is relevant and that government has to be smart, because what government does is determining how this goes, it's literally determining in many ways life and death, we have to be smart about it.

The federal-state relationship is central to our democracy. This has been a topic discussed since our founding fathers first decided to embark on this entire venture, right? This is basic federalism, the role of the states and the role of the federal government. And it is important that we get this right.

Our founding fathers understood, and we have to remember today, that the balance between the state and the federal, that magnificent balance that is articulated in the Constitution is evidence of our democracy. We don't have a king in this country. We didn't want a king. So we have a Constitution and we elect the president.

The states, the colonies formed the federal government. The federal government did not form the states. It's the colonies that ceded certain responsibility to a federal government. All other power remains with the states. It's basic to our Constitution and that federal-state relationship.

Hamilton, who, in many ways, was representative of this discussion of the balance of power, "State governments possess inherent advantages, which will ever give them an influence and ascendancy" -- ascendancy, a beautiful word -- "over the national government and will forever preclude the possibility of federal encroachments on the states that their liberties, indeed, can be subverted by the federal head is repugnant to every rule of political calculations."

Strong language, but that was premise.

So there are laws and there are facts even in this wild political environment.

What do we do? We do what we do. Because we are New York tough. And tough is more complex than what many people think it is. Within that word "tough" is smart, united, disciplined and loving. They are not inconsistent to be tough and to be loving.

Let me make a personal point, not necessarily a factual point. The president did his briefing last night, and the president was clearly unhappy.

The president did a number of tweets this morning where he's clearly unhappy. Did a tweet about "Mutiny on the Bounty" and governors are mutineers. I didn't follow the exact meaning of the tweet. But the basic essence of the tweet was that he was not happy with governors and that this was a mutiny.

The president is clearly spoiling for a fight on this issue. The worst thing we can do in all of this is start with political division and start with partisanship.

[11:50:05]

The best thing we have done throughout this past 44 days is we've worked together, and we haven't raised political flags. Even in this hyper-partisan environment, even though it's an election year, even though the politics is so intense, we said not here, not in this. This is too important for anyone to play politics. If it is a no-politics zone. Right? This is about doing the right thing and working together. And that's important and we have to stay there.

We are all in a little bit of a reflective mood. I am in a reflective mood. Everything we do here is so important. Every day is so important.

I was thinking after the president made his comments and looking at the remarks and looking at the tweets reminded of a poster I saw when I was in grade school, Queens, New York, Catholic school.

Red blazer, gray pants, white shirt and a little clip-on tie, the tie with the hook. Remember, the hooked tie? You had to put the hook on and it looked like you had a real tie. Which I never understood because the hook was harder to do. You had to hook and you had to adjust the band, which was harder than teaching a kid how to tie the tie. It would have been easy.

But I was in grade school and there was that poster that came from a Sandberg (ph) poem, I think. "Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?" I was looking at the poster and I didn't get it. I was very literal. "Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?" So I'm looking at the poster in a priest came up behind me and, what's

wrong. I said I don't understand that: "Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?" How could that happen then? Then you wouldn't have a war. He said, well, that's the point. The point is, what would happen if people just refused to engage. They just refuse to fight.

And I still didn't get it because -- I mean, sometimes it is better to walk away from a fight than engage it. Sometimes it takes more strength to walk away from a fight than engage it. The president will have no fight with me. I will not engage him.

I've sat here every day for 44 years asking New Yorkers to remember this is not about me, it is about "we." I understand your personal inconvenience. I understand you are frustrated and stressed and anxious and you're feeling pain.

Think about "we." Get past yourself and think about society and think about family and interconnection and act responsibly for everyone else.

It is not time for politics and it's no time to fight. I put my hand out in total partnership and cooperation with the president. If he wants to fight, he's not going to get it from me. Period.

This is going to take us working together. We have a real challenge ahead. Just because the curve is flattening, there's no time to relax. We're not out of the woods. In this reopening, we could lose all the progress we made in one week if we do it wrong.

We have a number of challenges ahead. We have to figure out how to do this. How do you have a public health strategy that works with an economic reactivation strategy. Nobody has done this before. How do you start to increase the number of essential workers? And how do you learn the lesson of the past?

How do you start to do the massive testing that we are going to have to do here? And that we don't have the capacity to do today. The capacity does not exist.

The private-sector companies that do testing, we can only get about 60,000 tests per month. That's not enough. We'll do the antibody testing but that's not enough either. How do we do this and put together this whole testing system and do it in a matter of weeks? It is a real question.

How do we use technology? Apple and other companies are working on using technology to do tracking. How do we do that? How do we do it fast?

And how do we take all our strength and collective strength and take this nation's collective strength and figure out how to do those challenges?

[11:55:08]

Fifty years this week, Apollo 13 gets damaged 220,000 miles from earth. How do they figure out how to get a spaceship back 220,000 miles 50 years ago? That's a miracle.

OK. Figure out how to do testing. Figure out how to use technology to do tracing. That's what we have to work on. We have to do that together. We have to do, as a government, what our people have done, right?

Sometimes political leaders can learn best from finding people who are ahead of the politicians. Look how people have been selfless and put their own agenda aside for the common good. Can't their leaders be as smart as they are? The answer has to be yes.

I look forward to working with the president in partnership and cooperation. But he has no fight here. I won't let it happen. Look, unless he suggested that we do something that would be reckless and endanger the health, the welfare of the people of our state, then I would have no choice. But shy of that, I put my hand out to say let's do this together.

Questions?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Governor? Governor? Governor? Governor?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION).

CUOMO: This man first.

You don't have to -- (INAUDIBLE).

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: But doesn't --

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Governor, you are talking about making peace with Donald Trump, with the president, but you went on television four times and when asked about it and you called him a king and his press briefings were a comedy sketch. Why didn't you say no comment if you're trying to make peace with him?

CUOMO: No. The first point is he does not have total authority. I am a governor of a state. The statement that he has total authority over the states and the nation can't go un-corrected. It is a statement that's wrong. Tenth Amendment of the Constitution. It's all body of case law.

There are many things you can debate in the Constitution because they're ambiguous. This is not one of those things that's ambiguous.

That statement can't stand. It is not only violates the Constitution but it violates the very concept of democracy. This was the first battle: Do we want a king or a president? We opted for a president. So that statement can't stand, period.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- you know, calling him a king, saying it's like a comedy sketch, saying -- (CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: No, no. It's -- his proclamation is he would be king. That's what a king is. A king has a total authority. That statement can't stand. The whole "Mutiny of Bounty," the governors are mutineers, whatever that means and whatever the rest of the theory was.

I am not going to fight and get into that fight. Look, I bent over backwards -- it was a nasty comment about what it was. But he's right. I worked very hard to be in partnership with the federal government this past month. I worked very hard to stay away from politics.

He's right. I did call and say I need federal assistance. I did call and say I need possible overflow beds. He's right that he did move very quickly to get us Javits and the "USNS Comfort." I said that repeatedly and I praised him for his action. He was right there, too. The federal government has an important role.

I was a secretary in the cabinet. I did it for eight years. I know how key the federal government is. Frankly, I know how powerful they actually could be in being of assistance. And I don't think they as powerful as they could be.

[11:59:58]

And the federal government has tremendous, tremendous capacity that we need now. So, yes, he's right on all of that. He's right we asked for cooperation and assistance.