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Americans are Desperate for Leadership; Tony Blair is Interviewed about the Coronavirus Pandemic; Coronavirus Batters Florida's Economy; Nascar Released Photo of Noose. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 26, 2020 - 06:30   ET



SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It was one thing when, you know, in a terrible, political calculation he looked at the initial outbreak of the pandemic and saw it mainly in urban areas, heavily Democratic-run states like New York and California and Washington state. It's another thing entirely now that the politics are going to shift along with the epidemic itself. We're talking about states like South Carolina, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, and Texas, which are among the leading growth states right now for the pandemic. And, of course, those are all must-win states for Donald Trump this fall.

So, you know, is the political imperative and the terrible numbers of disease right now going to change the political need for the president to do something? I do think that's the moment we're in. And his advisers must be extremely alarmed when they see where this disease is headed.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Notable overnight, Errol Louis, is that the Trump administration, the solicitor general of the United States, filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to abolish Obamacare. More than 20 million Americans get health care through Obamacare right now, even more are protected through the protections for pre-existing conditions. And the Trump administration filed this brief to get rid of it completely.

There were some groans, even among Republican circles, even among Republicans who don't necessarily want Obamacare around forever who are saying, now? In a pandemic? You're trying to get rid of Obamacare?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. No, that's right. I mean there -- there was some commentary on social media where some of the president's opponents were saying, oh, good, he's finally doing something about the pandemic, he's trying to take health care away from tens of millions of Americans.

And, you know, look, it's a nasty thing to say, but underneath it all, it's really kind of true. And it really sort of underlines, I think, John, that the -- the strategy from the White House and the re- election team of the president has not adapted to reality. Everything that they had planned to do has changed, or I should say everything that they need to do has changed. The ground has shifted underneath them. They're running plays for a game that doesn't exist anymore. People are dealing with life-and-death decisions and they -=- they're still sort of planning to sort of march through the way that they have set out their campaign plan.

And we all know that when you do that, you run a very, very high risk of not just losing the game, but just being written out of it completely. And so we now face a president and a White House, in the middle of -- of an enormous economic challenge, an enormous public health challenge, that runs the risk of simply being irrelevant.

BERMAN: Errol Louis, Susan Glasser, appreciate you both being with us this morning.

So how is America being viewed by the rest of the world as it grapples with this pandemic? We'll speak with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, next.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The United States set a single-day record for new coronavirus cases on Thursday. Now the European Union is considering blocking American travelers because of how bad things are in America.

Joining us now is former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He's the executive chair of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

Mr. Prime Minister, it's great to have you here on this very, you know, disquieting day here in the United States, as we look at the map and watch the numbers going in the wrong direction. And I'm just wondering, when you look at the U.S. struggling to get through coronavirus, as someone who led a nation for ten years and has been a world leader, what goes through your head?

TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Well, first of all, a huge amount of sympathy and compassion for the people that have been most affected, for those that have lost their loved ones, those that are severely ill.

And, you know, this is -- this is -- this is a uniquely difficult challenge for governments. So right around the world, all governments are struggling. We, frankly, have been struggling here in the U.K. But I think the lesson from -- from around the world is -- is pretty clear, that you have to -- if you're to get on top of this, you have to lock down hard and fast, and then that makes it easier to ease out of the lockdown, although that comes, in my view, with -- with the obligation also to do testing on a mass scale. So I think, you know, the lessons from around the world as to what works and what doesn't work are reasonably clear.

By the way, there is a huge opportunity to make sure that we at least get the next stage of this right, which is the vaccine stage. And the paper my institute published today goes through all the different vaccines and says how important it is to get global leadership to make sure that the vaccines that we develop are created in sufficient number and are distributed fairly so that, you know, not just the wealthy parts of the world, but the poorer parts of the world get access to them.

And there's a big summit happening tomorrow called the Global Citizen's Summit. It's organized partly by the European Commission. And that's going to set out exactly how this is done and how you might combine it with things like a registry of everybody who is vaccinated so that we -- we know exactly who's got the vaccination, what their disease status is, and then you can start to build up a picture that's going to allow us to handle this disease over a long period of time, because we're going to be living with it. We're not going to be eradicating it anytime soon.

CAMEROTA: And everyone should read that report that's coming out of our institute about where we are with the global race for the vaccine.

But in terms of seizing the opportunity now, in the middle of this crisis, do you have confidence in President Trump's leadership to do that?

BLAIR: Look, I will say, I have enough problems with my own politics without interfering in other people's. But the only -- the only thing I can say is that if you look at the countries that have done well through this crisis, and, you know, Germany, for example, South Korea, for example, you can look at Israel, other countries in Europe like Greece, actually, have done well, the key to the success has been to understand that this disease is -- is bad enough for people really not to want to get it.


And, therefore, unless you're taking really tough action at the beginning and locking down, as I say, hard and fast, and then combining this with testing on a mass scale, it's very hard to give people the confidence to come back out of it again. And what -- what's going to happen -- we've got exactly the same problem in Britain, by the way, is those countries worst hit, your country, my country, it's going to be even more important for our countries to put in place what I call the infrastructure of containment to make sure that because it's been such a prevalent disease, you're able to know who has it, who's had it, and you're able to give people some sense of confidence that the measures you're putting in place can allow them to return to some form of normality.

CAMEROTA: If you were prime minister of Britain right now, would you block U.S. travelers from coming into the U.K.?

BLAIR: Well, it depends what their disease status is. I mean I think you're going to find over time that whatever country people come from, countries are going to be very reluctant to have people come in unless they -- you know what's happened to them, unless they're tested. I mean if you just think of international travel, at the moment, if you come into Britain, you're going to quarantine for 14 days. Now, frankly, no one's going to come on business trips for that. No one's going to come on tourism for that. So if you want to get to a stage, whether you're from America or anywhere else, and, of course, people, you know, they will look at the disease situation in each country, but it's going to be really looking at the disease situation of each individual. That's why I -- I can't see any way out of this other than to get behind the innovations that are now happening so that you can get an on the spot test, antigen and antibody, that allows you to decide very quickly what the disease status of an individual is. Otherwise, you -- you're -- if -- if you open your doors to countries, you know, of course you're going to be at risk unless you know whether that person has the disease or has had it.

CAMEROTA: So you can't see any way out of the crisis that we're in without widespread testing? That's what you think the key to getting out of this horrible downward spiral is?

BLAIR: Yes, because the -- the problem -- the conundrum -- what I call the coronavirus conundrum is this, it's not the bubonic plague, right? It doesn't kill everyone that gets it. The majority of people survive. The majority of people actually don't have hugely difficult symptoms. But enough of them have very bad symptoms and some of them die. And you will know people and I know people who have had it really badly and I know people who have died. And you probably do as well.

So it's -- it -- you can't -- you can't treat it as if it's a serious form of flu. It isn't. It's sufficiently serious but you've got to take big measures against it. But at any one time, only a small proportion of people will be at risk. And the problem with the lockdown is that it's a blunt instrument, right, it's a sledgehammer, and you shut everyone down, even though at any one time only a small number of people will be affected.

So, how do you resolve this conundrum? You only solve it by testing. Now, every time I -- I -- I look at this, I come back to the same thing, which is, unless you develop the capability to do mass testing and regular testing, it's going to be very hard to get people to go back to normal. You can -- you can revive some of your economy, but parts of your economy will remain shut down. And -- and the economic impact of this, of course it's what's troubling political leaders around the world because they end up thinking, if we don't get out of lockdown, the cure is going to be worse than the disease, because, of course, it's not just the economic effect. I don't know about the U.S., but in the U.K. you have cancer treatment -- patients, heart disease patients not getting the treatment they need because the focus is on Covid.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Yes. All of that. All of that. I mean, obviously, the ripple effects of this have been felt far and wide.

Again, I want to direct everybody to the report that you've just written out today, it's called "Towards a Global Covid-19 Vaccine Strategy," and you talk about how this is going to have to be a global strategy with leadership.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, we really appreciate, always, getting your thoughts on our program. Thank you very much.

A makeover for one of Disney's most iconic attractions and another country music group changing their name. Details, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BERMAN: The House of Representatives has passed a sweeping police reform bill, one month after the death of George Floyd. The legislation has provisions to reform qualified immunity for law enforcement. It bans choke holds and establishes a national registry to track police misconduct and prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases. This bill is not expected to be taken up in the Republican-led Senate. One day earlier, Senate Democrats blocked the Republican Senate police reform bill and this morning it appears unlikely that either side is willing to compromise on the issue before the November election.

CAMEROTA: And, this morning, more signs of a cultural shift during this moment of racial reckoning. Disney's Splash Mountain is being reimaged. The attraction is being connected to the controversial 1946 film "Song of the South," containing racist elements. The ride will now be overhauled with characters from the 2009 film "The Princess and the Frog," which featured Disney's first African-American princess.

And The Dixie Chicks are dropping "Dixie" from their names. They'll call themselves The Chicks, shedding the world "Dixie," which is associated with the Civil War era south. They've also just put out a new music video for this moment called "March March."


THE CHICKS (singing): March, march to my own drum. March, march to my own drum. Hey, hey, I'm an army of one. Oh, I'm an army of one.


CAMEROTA: This song is a tribute to the protests for equality and social issues over the decades.

BERMAN: So, this morning, coronavirus cases in Florida exploding. The state recorded more than 5,000 new cases for the second day in a row. It is really hitting the Florida economy hard. Millions of Americans there have filed for unemployment.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich live in Miami with the latest on this.




Just a couple weeks ago, Floridians were thinking that they may be moving into phase three of reopening. But after a surge of cases this week, the governor has made no indication that that next phase would be happening. And you can see just behind me, cruise ships parked at the Port of Miami without passengers. Royal Caribbean just announced that they're pushing their start date from September all the way back into -- excuse me, all the way from August to September. And that is leaving some small businesses wondering if they're really on the road to recovery or if they're facing another shutdown.


YURKEVICH (voice over): It's a cruise ship parking lot at the Port of Miami. Ships idling, waiting to take the seas, which leaves Ana Castillo waiting for customers.

ANA CASTILLO, OWNER, SAFE CRUISE PARKING: It's very, very weird to see how empty it is.

YURKEVICH: Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on Florida's biggest moneymaker, tourism. It's crushed businesses like Castillo's. She shut down Safe Cruise Parking in March and plans to reopen in September when cruises start again. But a surge in coronavirus cases in the state has her worried.

CASTILLO: I do think that people are going to look at Florida as like the new, you know, epicenter, and probably even be more scared to travel here. So, it is -- yes, it is concerning.

YURKEVICH: It's a concern for agriculture here, too, the state's second largest industry. In just two months, farmers lost nearly $900 million in revenue during peak harvest season. And as they're planning for the next season's crop, another shutdown would be devastating.

GENE MCAVOY, VEGETABLE SPECIALIST, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: So if we see a spike to, you know, starts closing things down in October and November, it's -- it's going to be bad.

YURKEVICH: Florida's construction industry, which took a hit, is also on edge.

FRANK D'ANGELO, COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE, FLORIDA CARPENTERS REGIONAL COUNCIL: The spike is here. How bad that spike's going to be, we don't know. The best we can do is try to keep our members working.

YURKEVICH: Construction jobs were hardest hit in Ft. Lauderdale, dropping 10 percent in April from the year before.

D'ANGELO: They definitely want to get back to work. Unemployment in Florida, it's relatively low compared to the rest of the country. Even with the federal stimulus of $600 a week, it still doesn't make up the delta they need to provide for their families.

YURKEVICH: And 2.5 million Floridians applied for unemployment since March. Many still waiting for checks, including one of Castillo's employees. She had to lay off all 15.

CASTILLO: I can't give these people jobs. You know, these people have been unemployed since March. And I don't know how much longer it will be.

(END VIDEOTAPE) YURKEVICH: Florida's unemployment rate is 14.5 percent. That is just above the national average. And that is a long way from where they were pre-Covid when they had record low unemployment at 2.5 percent.

And, Alisyn, next week will be important. It's the weekly jobless claims and the jobs report. Here in Florida, all eyes will be on hospitality jobs, whether we've gained or lost, as that's a key indicator for the economic road to recovery here in Florida.


CAMEROTA: OK, Vanessa, thank you very much for that reporting from Florida.

So Nascar's president releasing this photo of the noose found in Bubba Wallace' garage. Details on what they've learned in the "Bleacher Report."



BERMAN: So, overnight, Nascar released the photo of the noose found in Bubba Wallace's garage at Talladega, but still can't determine exactly how it got there.

Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report."



Look, from the very beginning, Nascar officials say there is a heightened sense of awareness for any misconduct because of the recent decision to ban the confederate flag from races. And an investigation could not determine who tied the noose. The FBI determined that the noose has been there since last October, therefore it wasn't considered a hate crime.

But in a call with reporters yesterday, mascara President Steve Phelps says something still doesn't add up.


STEVE PHELPS, PRESIDENT, NASCAR: Nascar conducted a thorough sweep of all the garage areas across where -- the tracks that we race. So across those 29 tracks and 1,684 garage stalls, we found only 11 total that had a pulldown rope tied in a knot and only one noose, the one discovered on Sunday in Bubba Wallace's garage.


WIRE: Now, Phelps added, quote, I know that's unfulfilling, I wish there was more we could do, but we can't, unquote.

Bubba Wallace has not commented since Nascar closed its investigation. The NFL trying to get back to business as usual after pushing back its first pre-season game. Commissioner Roger Goodell insisting, though, on a conference call yesterday that training camps will go ahead as planned on July 28th and the regular season will start September 10th, as planned, with fans in the stands. The league says it hopes to have an ambitious Covid-19 testing system in place by then.

And the Women's World Cup headed to Australia and New Zealand two years from now. Look at the joy on the Australian team's faces as they hear the announcement yesterday. They're hoping for 1.5 million fans to descend down under. That sounds a little bit ambitious with all we're going through right now, John, but a good reminder that, hey, some day, some way we will be embracing, hugging, and high fiving together again at sporting events.


BERMAN: Looking forward to that when it happens.

As for football, you know, Malcolm Jenkins said on this show yesterday, Coy, he's not comfortable going back as things stand right now. So, we'll see. We'll see.

WIRE: Yes.