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U.S. Sees Record Day Of New COVID-19 Cases, Totaling 66,000- Plus; Arizona Adds 4,000-Plus New COVID-19 Cases In Single Day; Trump Ignores Surging Cases, Says U.S. Winning War On Coronavirus; NYT: CDC Documents Warned Of "Highest Risk" If Schools Fully Reopened; Florida Reports 10,000-Plus New Coronavirus Cases; Study Shows Coronavirus Can Attack All Major Body Organs; Trump Commutes Roger Stone's Prison Sentence. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired July 11, 2020 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello on this Saturday. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
This is not the direction anyone wants the coronavirus pandemic to go. New infections here in the U.S. are exploding, the latest numbers, more than 66,000 new cases in just one day.
The new epicenter, Florida, today reporting more than 10,000 new cases, just as Walt Disney World opens up to visitors for the first time since the pandemic hit. Yes, the magic kingdom is open today, and we have much more on that straight ahead.
But, first, here's a broader look at where new infections are up in the U.S. since last weekend. 29 states reporting a rise in COVID-19 cases, some of them a very sharp rise. And the spike is causing governors to slam the brakes on efforts to get back to normal. In fact, more than half the states are now halting plans to reopen or rolling them back, reverting to earlier guidance and restrictions.
Also new today, The New York Times is reporting it has seen an internal CDC document that says the highest risk to spreading the virus will be the full reopening of schools and universities. This is the same week President Trump threatened to cut federal funding to schools if they don't open in the fall. The president ignoring the data and suggesting the surge we are seeing will all be over soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It flared up in areas where they thought it was ending, and that would be Florida, Texas, a couple of other places, and they're going to have it under control very quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: President Trump on his golf course in Virginia today ahead of a visit to Walter Reed Military Medical Center where CNN has learned he's expected to be photographed wearing a mask after aides pleaded with him to do the photo op.
Let's begin in Florida, where the state is facing more than 10,000 new cases and new 95 deaths in just a single day. CNN's Randi Kaye is in Riviera Beach, Florida and joins us now.
Randi, we heard from the governor of Florida this afternoon and it sounded like he was continuing to attribute these high numbers to testing in the state. Well, what more did he say?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he is still doing that. He likes to say that there's more testing, that's why we're seeing higher positivity rates and higher cases, which is why reporters here, including those from CNN, have been pushing so hard to get some of the hospitalization rates for those hospitalized here in the state with COVID-19.
We're finally getting those. They finally released those late last night and posted them on the state website. We know there's more than 7,100 people hospitalized with COVID in the State of Florida, more than 1,600 in Miami-Dade, that hardest hit county, and more than 560 in Orange County where Disney World is, as you mentioned, is opening today.
But we have seen the 1,200 percent increase in the average number of daily of cases, Ana, and the governor continues to blame the higher testing, he says, that 400,000 people were just tested this week. 2.4 million Floridians have been tested so far. And once again, at his press conference last hour, he once again tried to explain away the higher numbers by linking it to more testing. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you test 200,000 people at a 3 percent rate, you're going to get more cases than if you test 100,000 people at that. I think that you see when we started to see more cases, yes, we've started -- we've been testing more in the last three weeks by far than we have before, but you see that 6/14 to 6/20, the positivity then goes up to 9.6 percent and then the next week in June, 12 percent, and then we were 14.8 percent for the last part of June, beginning of July.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: He also went on to say that we're sort of plateauing, which just is not true. I mean, even in Miami-Dade we saw a positivity rate of 28 percent yesterday. So that doesn't sound like plateauing to me.
But those tests also, I should point out, are taking a really long time. They're taking days to get the results, which only helps the virus spread. So now the governor is talking about getting these self- swab tests, which they've been using in nursing homes, Ana, and they take from 36-72 hours to get those results. He's trying to get those out to the public and also starting special testing lanes for those who are symptomatic to try and get the results sooner. CABRERA: OK, a lot of good information there. The latest from Florida for us, thank you, Randi Kaye.
For months, Cinderella's Castle has been vacant, no more. Disney World in Florida reopened its gates this morning to welcome visitors back to the magic kingdom and the animal kingdom. But some of the park's pre- pandemic magic will be missing in favor of new safety measures. CNN's Natasha Chen reports.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Disney theme parks may be an escape to a fictional bubble, but no amount of pixie dust can wipe away the realities of a pandemic.
ERICA M. WALT, DISNEY WORLD ANNUAL PASSHOLDER: It does feel a bit surreal.
CHEN: It's a whole new world of temperature checks, parties separated on rides, touchless payments and entry and required face masks that must loop around human ears. There are also far fewer people in the parks due to significantly reduced capacity and a required advanced reservation for people wanting to go in.
WALT: I do feel a bit nervous when trying to do all the things I love and enjoy doing again, but also remembering to do them as safely as I possibly can.
Wearing an N95 mask through the parks, social distancing from other parkgoers, packing Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer, keeping my hands clean at all the different stations.
CHEN: For locals and theme park bloggers in Orange County, Florida where COVID cases are rising rapidly along with the rest of the state --
CRAIG WILLIAMS, PRODUCER OF THE DIS UNPLUGGED: We feel safer at theme parks than we do at any other normal store or restaurant. It feels safer at the theme parks because they're putting in that extra effort.
CHEN: He says the extra effort is more visible at Disney than he's seen at other theme parks that reopened in the past month. Rides frequently stopped so employees could sanitize them, plexiglass, especially in tight queues and something he doesn't always see outside Disney property.
WILLIAMS: It really blew me away that everyone was following all the rules. So I definitely didn't expect that.
CHEN: Orange County officials were asked Thursday if they had seen COVID cases stemming from the theme parks that are already open.
DR. RAUL PINO, ORANGE COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER: I would be lying to say that we have not seen a case here and there that may show you at one of the parks, but we have not seen an outbreak in any of the parks that are open so far that we are aware of.
CHEN: Disney's chief medical officer said in a blog post this week, we have re-imagined the Disney experience so we can all enjoy the magic responsibly. And that includes the restaurants in Disney property, like Chef Art Smith's Homecomin', which has a new patio and spaced out tables.
CHEF ART SMITH, OWNER OF HOMECOMIN' FLORIDA KITCHEN AT DISNEY SPRINGS: Everyone wants to enjoy their time here, but safely. And I think together we're doing that.
CHEN: He says people need a safe way to get comfort food and magic right now.
SMITH: If you know what it is, it ain't how we are in good times, it's how we are in challenging times, okay?
CHEN: Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.
CABRERA: I want to get Matt Hollis in here. He leads a coalition of unions representing about 43,000 Disney World employees. Matt, what a day. Great to have your voice with us to enlighten all of us. This reopening there of the park in Orlando, even if it is slightly scaled back, it's a major development and a big gamble on Disney's part since Florida is still seeing a frightening number of new coronavirus cases, setting more single-day infection records this week.
We just saw what this means for visitors to the park. But tens of thousands of Disney employees are looking to you for guidance and reassurance about their safety. What are they telling you and what are you most concerned about as the park partially reopens today?
MATT HOLLIS, PRESIDENT, SERVICES TRADES COUNCIL UNION: Well, first of all, Ana, thank you for having me. And, well, you're right, there are tens of thousands of employees that have been called back to work, cast members in the Disney lingo that have been called back in support of the park's reopening.
But it's important to remember, Disney has been operating at a scaled back -- in a scaled back manner since May, since the middle of May when Disney Springs opened back up and there were a few thousand employees that were called to support that operation. Not surprising, there has been a mass increase in the number of custodians that are working on the property, cleaning like crazy. Everything has been looked at.
As far as what our biggest concern is, our biggest concern is that we need it to be successful. The economy of Central Florida, moving these people, just months ago, we had hundreds of thousands of Central Floridians that were dumped into a very, very broken unemployment system. And so this is kind of a bright light for them to be able to return to work, get some sense of normalcy.
So our major concern is that the guests that are coming in take the safety precautions seriously, that they listen to the employees, they follow the signs, they use the hand washing, that they take this thing seriously, because we know the employees will. Their livelihood is here.
So the biggest concern is that everyone is working together to being patient and make this successful.
We absolutely need it to be a successful operation.
CABRERA: I hear you, especially on the economic front. But on the safety front, we know Disney delayed reopening of Disneyland in California because of the spread of the virus in that state, yet no delay to reopen Disney World in Florida, even though it's as bad as it's been in that state. Does that make any sense to you?
HOLLIS: So I think that what you see is that Disneyland is operating to meet a different set of ordinances and things from the government there that Florida is not -- does not have in place. As far as making sense, Disney doesn't come to us and it's not just me, I get the privilege to be able to come and speak on behalf of the cast and on behalf of the service trades council, but there's every union, we have six unions that are represented there and every one of them have very strong leaders to partner with me every single day in the negotiations and try to strategize keeping things moving forward.
When Disney announced that they were planning to reopen, we put our emphasis on how do we empower and equip the cast members, our members, how do we give them what they need to be safe? And so that was a number of different platforms, gauging the interests and the concerns of our members and then going to the bargaining table and getting that, and so, to a large degree, we've done that.
CABRERA: Let me ask you about what you bargained for. Let me go through some of the safety measures that visitors to Disney World will see starting today. No parades, no fireworks, no hugging Mickey Mouse or any other characters, no fingerprint scanners, and this is big one, everyone over the age of 12 years old has to wear a mask.
There will also be temperature checks, empty seats on rides to keep people separated, plexiglass, partitions, thousands of hand sanitizing stations. Are you happy with these precautions? Did you have to fight to get any of them?
HOLLIS: Well, our interest -- well, I did a couple of interviews yesterday and I've been very upfront. Disney has responded to the safety concerns that we have brought up on behalf of the members that we represent. And we expect that they'll continue to do that.
One of the best things that we have at Disney that separates us from the other theme parks in Central Florida is that the employees that work at Disney World have a voice and that voice is through their union. And they had a collective bargaining agreement.
And so that separates Disney, then that empowers the employees to be able to make a difference in their working conditions. So when you look at the things that you just mentioned, there is no question that Disney World's experience is going to be different for guests when they come in. That's absolutely essential. It has to be. It just can't be business as usual. So it's going to be a different look.
Everything that I'm hearing from the parks -- or inside the parks today -- I wasn't able to be there today. I'll be there on Monday. Everything I'm hearing from our staff and from the staffs of the other union, is that guests are taking it serious and that it does seem to be a very positive experience. So to this point, the service trades council and my peers have been convinced that Disney has responded to our safety concerns and we are confident that they will continue to do that.
CABRERA: Well, fingers crossed it continues to be a success. As you said, this has to work for the livelihood of all the cast members, as you put it, that you and your union represent. We hope it for them and obviously we hope it for the larger public that's participating in all the Disney festivities. thank you, Matt Hollis, for joining us.
HOLLIS: Thank you.
CABRERA: Up next from coast to coast, states are seeing rising coronavirus cases and some hospitals are straining under the surge. We will take you live to the west coast next.
Stay with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: The coronavirus pandemic surging in Arizona with fewer than 1,000 hospital beds now available across the entire state. That is the lowest number since March. And we know at least 4,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Friday. That is the fourth time this month the state has posted single-day totals of new cases topping 4,000.
We're also learning the NFL's Arizona Cardinals owner, Michael Bidwill is hospitalized this weekend after he tested positive for COVID-19. We are told he has not had any recent in-person contact with any Cardinals players or staff.
I want to bring in CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro who is at the Grand Canyon this weekend. Evan, beautiful site behind you. How are tourists -- we know it's a popular tourist destination there at the Grand Canyon. How are they reacting to the surge in COVID cases there in Arizona?
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a great question, Ana. As you mentioned, this is one of the epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic now, but it's also the Grand Canyon State. And I'm on the south rim, one of the most famous parts of the Grand Canyon, very important for tourism.
You asked about what tourists have to say. I just thought I would ask one for you. So, I found Christina Dawkins (ph). She drove here with her boyfriend 15 hours from Houston.
So, Christina, tell us a bit about why you decided to come to the Grand Canyon.
CHRISTINA DAWKINS (ph), TOURIST FROM TEXAS: Basically, because it's like the safest thing to do right now during COVID-19, you can still enjoy a good vacation. You're out with family, friends, still outside, great view and good times.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: What is it like to go on a vacation in the middle of this? You're coming from one hot spot to another one.
DAWKINS: Basically, everything is different. Normally on vacation, you're looking for the ability to go out and sit down and eat. And now, it's kind of like getting everything and bringing it back to your rooms and you have to wear a mask everywhere. And in this heat, that could be difficult.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Let me ask you about the mask because your mask is pretty direct. If you can read this, you're too close, right?
I walk around here and I see some people not wearing them.
What do you say about that? What do you think about what you're seeing in terms of people doing the mask requirement?
DAWKINS: I mean, to each his own. I mean, me personally, I believe that we have to think beyond ourselves. I'm not just wearing a mask for myself. I'm wearing a mask for the next person. And I don't want them to take anything back to their house and infect their family.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: OK. Well, thank you very much for that. I appreciate you're talking.
So, Ana, that's the story out here. This is the thing about the Grand Canyon, okay? It's a place where you could socially distance. There's miles and miles of park out there. The issue is in places like this part of it, the south rim. This is a place where people are gathering and that's why there are requirements like masks and trying to social distance while you're on the south rim, Ana.
CABRERA: you could never be too careful, especially when you consider the percent change in coronavirus cases there in Arizona since that state reopened has gone up almost 1,000 percent, the number of cases daily. Thank you, Evan McMorris-Santoro, we will check back.
Inside the famous Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, there are signs of life for major league baseball. But just outside those gates, it's a different world. People are filing into the largest COVID-19 testing site in the Los Angeles region as that state surpasses 300,000 coronavirus cases.
Our Paul Vercammen is live outside Dodgers Stadium. Paul, what has the experience been like at this location? PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, fascinating, Ana, because this is now the intersection of two big news stories. It's the testing at Dodgers Stadium and then all eyes are on Major League Baseball as its set to begin in just 12 days, and you're going to have a good sort of litmus test as to how they're going to deal with playing ball in the COVID-19 era.
So let's look behind me. You can see six lanes now, Ana. They test something like 6,500 people a day when things are going well. Volunteers (INAUDIBLE) and crew, they have city workers, firefighters. This is all working super efficiently. I know because I was tested here twice. The last time I got in and out of here quickly and my test came back in 30 hours.
And now pan over this way. We'll talk about the other big event going on at Dodgers Stadium. There's going to be an intra-squad game today as they get set to resume Major League Baseball. We're going to go inside and we're going to tell you about some of the rules and more later. It's fascinating.
But one player you won't see for the Dodgers, David Price. One of the major leaguers to opt out, as was Nick Markakis of the Atlanta Braves. He's a fan favorite. He had talked to Freddie Freeman of the Braves, who had contracted COVID-19. And after that discussion, Nick Markakis thought it was best for his family for him not to play this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK MARKAKIS, ATLANTA BRAVES PLAYER: I talked to Freddie Freeman the other day and just hearing the way he sounded on the phone kind of opened my eyes. And Freddie didn't sound good. I hope he's healthy. I know these guys need him more than anybody. And just to hear him, the way he sounded on the phone, it was tough. It was kind of eye-opening.
And with everything that's going on, not just in baseball but in the world, it makes you open your eyes. I've got three kids that I've missed for 11 years now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERCAMMEN: And so back here live, they'll have this intra-squad game at Dodgers Stadium soon. Among the rules, the players will have their temperatures taken twice every day. They will also be tested every other day. And there's a lot of other nuances, Ana, that we're going to bring to you just a little bit later.
CABRERA: Okay. Paul Vercammen there in Los Angeles, thank you for all of that. And I just want to give a quick fix to one of the information that I was providing earlier in our last segment. One of our viewers let me know that I made a mistake and said people 12 and over in Florida at Disney World had to wear a mask. It's actually people 2 and older have to wear masks there in Disney World. I want to make sure I get that correction out as soon as possible.
I now want to show you a headline from March. As testing ramps up, many doctors and patients are still experiencing problems, and this one from this week, COVID-19 testing, a spike in demand, a delay on results. How is this country still struggling with testing? That's next.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: This week on new coronavirus in this country top 60,000 a day. In fact, yesterday's count was closer to 70,000, the most ever in this pandemic.
But as far as the president is concerned, we are all good.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Is the United States losing the war against COVID?
TRUMP: No, we're winning the war. And we have areas that flamed up and they're going to be fine over a period of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Joining us now, former New York City Commissioner of Health and Host of the Epidemic podcast, Dr. Celine Gounder, and Dr. F. Perry Wilson, Associate Professor of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine.
And, Dr. Gounder, you just heard the president. Are we winning the war?
DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, if you consider winning in terms of rising numbers of cases, infections, hospitalizations and deaths, I mean, I guess we have the highest numbers of any country in the world right now, so perhaps on that level we're winning the war. But that's certainly not the metric that those of us working in public health and medicine would be judging by.
CABRERA: Right, or any Americans, for that matter, who is concerned about their own safety or that of their family members and friends and neighbors and even total
Dr. Wilson, I'm just struck by the images we've been seeing nationwide, the long lines of cars waiting to get into coronavirus testing sites, not to mention stories of people who do get tested and then have to waiting seven to 10 days just to get their results.
How is this still a problem, months into the pandemic?
DR. F. PERRY WILSON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, YALE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I will be fairly up front about this. I think the problem is essentially a complete abdication of federal leadership. This was something we needed the federal government to start working on in January when we knew this was going to be a major problem.
And there has been essentially zero central oversight of any of these processes. There has been inadequate effort to ramp up testing.
And let me point out, the reason we need so many tests right now is because we have so many cases. If you had a minimal outbreak, you wouldn't need this many tests.
We are in the bad shape that we're in because this disease was not managed appropriately at a federal level from the beginning. You can't simply rely on each state to go their own way on this.
CABRERA: Dr. Gounder, the "New York Times" is reporting that the very week President Trump demanded guidelines for schools to reopen, his experts behind the scenes were warning that fully reopening schools and universities remained the highest risk for the spread of coronavirus.
The CDC director said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: I think it's important, unlike influenza, where one of our biggest concerns is we've been able to show that it's really schools and children that become the instrument of transmission throughout our community with influenza, we really don't have evidence that children are driving the transmission cycle of this.
CABRERA: What are we as parents supposed to think?
GOUNDER: Well, I do think that needs to be qualified. And I actually have a Twitter thread from a couple of days ago where I go into this in more detail than what we can talk about right now.
But what we have seen, both based in terms of basic science, as well as the epidemiology, is that children under the able of 10, 10 and under, are really not the drivers of transmission. So not all children are equal in terms of COVID.
But if you're talking about school reopening, first of all, you absolutely cannot reopen schools as long as there's widespread community transmission.
But even when you do, I think there are ways to do this in such a way, maybe elementary school kids are prioritized for in-classroom teaching, whereas older children, who are higher risk for transmitting to adults, that they might be prioritized for virtual school teaching.
CABRERA: Those are some good options, certainly.
Dr. Wilson, let's talk about Florida for just a moment, where, right now, 10,000 new cases are being reported in the last 24 hours. The state had two days, over 11,000 new cases this week. But the governor won't issue a statewide mask order.
What is your reaction to that?
WILSON: It is mind-boggling. This is the single number-one public health intervention that has been shown not just in other countries, but in our country in various states to drive down the rates of this epidemic.
And I assume the governor wants case rates to go down, that he wants people to feel comfortable going out in public and shopping and driving the economy, that you would avoid such a simple intervention is really hard to explain.
And I hope the people of the state of Florida have more common sense than the governor in this case.
CABRERA: There's very troubling new study that finds coronavirus doesn't just damage the lungs, which we've reported so much on, but it's also the kidneys, the liver, the heart, the brain, the nervous system.
To both of you -- Dr. Gounder, you first -- what has surprised you the most about this virus and do you think this information is breaking through to people?
GOUNDER: Well, we've known actually for a couple of months now at least that the coronavirus causes disease through massive inflammation, dysfunction of the immune system response to the infection, and blood vessel damage and clots in the blood vessels. That's something we've known.
What that means by extension is that every single organ system in the body is at risk for damage.
I will say, as somebody who has been an infectious disease specialist for quite a long time now, I have worked in the U.S. as well as overseas and Africa, and so on, I've seen a lot of infectious diseases and everything from HIV to Ebola.
And I have never seen an infectious disease that can cause quite so many kinds of clinical presentations, so many kinds of disease as coronavirus.
CABRERA: And to you, quickly, Dr. Wilson.
WILSON: Yes, I totally agree. One of the things that terrifies health care workers, like myself, who are caring for patients with coronavirus, is that diversity of presentation, from literally the sniffles or even completely asymptomatic, to ventilator-dependent respiratory failure on cardiopulmonary bypass.
And I've seen both of those presentations in a wide range of patients, including young patients without comorbidities. That diversity of presentation is really scary for all of us.
CABRERA: Dr. Wilson, Dr. Gounder, my thanks to both of you. Always appreciate it.
Coming up, their hope in 2016 was to make sure their own party's nominee didn't become president. But it didn't work. But now the Never Trump Republicans are back. What's their strategy this time around?
That's next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: It seems like nearly every day you'll see a new anti-Trump ad on TV or social media. The ads aren't unusual for an election year. But what is, is that many of these anti-Trump ads are paid for by Republican Never Trump groups, Republicans determined to make the leader of their party a one-term president.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When President Trump said this about spiking cases of coronavirus --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, I said to my people, slow the testing down, please.
ZELENY: -- a new television ad quickly sprang to life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Slow the testing down, please.
AD NARRATOR: Slow the testing down? Slow down our chance to save tens of thousands of lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: It's not the work of Democrats, but, rather, the Never Trump movement, a small slice of Republicans trying to make Trump a one-term president.
After failing four years ago, the movement is back and multiplying, with the Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump, along with new groups, like Bush Alumni for Biden, whose slogan is: "We Worked For W. We Support Joe."
TRUMP: Within a couple of days, it's going to be down to close to zero.
ZELENY: This time, they're using the President's words against him, hoping to get into his head. At least, that's the goal of the Lincoln Project, whose videos made by former aides to George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney are designed to relentlessly mock and needle the president.
George Conway, whose wife, Kellyanne Conway, is a top Trump adviser, is a co-founder.
GEORGE CONWAY, ATTORNEY & HUSBAND OF KELLYANNE CONWAY: He's thoroughly unfit for office.
ZELENY: The President has long mocked Never Trumpers, taking delight in taking over the Republican Party.
TRUMP: Some of these people don't get it. Never Trump. By the way, Never Trump is disappearing rapidly.
ZELENY: While polls show as many as nine out of 10 Republicans say they support the president, the second act of the movement may be different than 2016. Two reasons why, the Trump record and Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton.
SARAH LONGWELL, STRATEGIC DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN VOTERS AGAINST TRUMP: Joe Biden just simply isn't it as scary to them. I think women are going to lose this election for Donald Trump. I think that is going to be the decisive and defining group of people.
ZELENY: Sarah Longwell calls herself a proud Never Trumper. She founded Republican Voters Against Trump where she's been studying Trump voters since 2016. She's watched them stand by the President, but now she senses a different moment.
LONGWELL: The health crisis, the economic crisis, the racial crisis. People are tired. They feel like Trump isn't fit for the moment. They feel like the stakes are higher.
ZELENY: But it's an open question how many voters that Never Trumpers can actually persuade in an electorate more polarized than ever.
Her group is collecting testimonials, believing the power of individual stories will make other Republicans comfortable saying it out loud.
JACK SPIELMAN, MICHIGAN VOTER & ARMY VETERAN: And I'll vote for a tuna fish sandwich before I vote for Donald Trump again.
ZELENY: That's Jack Spielman, a 33-year Army veteran and Michigan Republican. He voted for Trump in 2016, but believes he's failed the country on foreign policy and handling the pandemic.
SPIELMAN: Just as what happened with the Reagan Democrats, now as the Republicans turned to become Republican Democrats, the Biden Republicans kind of return the favor to say, you know, the nation needs us right now to get on a corrective course.
ZELENY: Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.
CABRERA: With us now, the host of "SMERCONISH" and CNN political commentator, Michael Smerconish.
Michael, good to see you. What differences do you see --
CABRERA: -- in the second act of the Never Trump movement? Does it have traction?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What I find interesting -- that was a great report from Jeff Zeleny. What I find interesting is I don't think the Lincoln Project is out there running ads that people are watching in local media markets.
I think they're pushing his buttons. I think they create these very sophisticated ads because they've got some of the best GOP talent involved in them. And then they disperse them via the Internet. They get a lot of media play.
I think the intent is just to get under the skin of the president and to push him to the edge, and that they're largely successful in doing so.
CABRERA: I don't have a ton of time and I want to make sure we talk about your special tonight.
But I do want to make sure I ask you about Roger Stone. President Trump commuting his sentence last night, once again, on a Friday night, after Stone had been convicted of seven charges, including lying to Congress and witness tampering.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney tweeted this: "Unprecedented historic corruption, an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president."
What do you see in this commutation, Michael?
SMERCONISH: I don't know that it's going to move the needle. I think detractors of the president will say a corrupt president has now covered for a corrupt friend.
I think the president has been pushing out this narrative for years about the corrupt nature of the Mueller probe, hoping that he's laid a predicate with his base, so that now they say, well, Roger Stone should never have been investigated to begin with because it all flowed from the Mueller probe.
So people, I think, will read into this what they choose.
CABRERA: You have a special tonight called "THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED TALKING." Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: I am so fortunate. My political, my media work, my interests, they've given me a very rich life.
(voice-over): I met Ronald Reagan as a newly minted 18-year-old. I worked in the George her better Walker Bush administration when I was 29. I once had a dinner with Fidel Castro at his house.
I got to take former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to vote with me at my suburban Philadelphia polling place.
I confronted the living members of Led Zeppelin with a demand that they reunite. You can watch it on YouTube. It didn't go so well.
I worked for and befriended Pennsylvania's longest serving United States Senator Arlen Specter.
I drank champagne from the Stanley Cup and even had my portrait painted at a fundraiser in front of a live audience by famed artist Nelson Shanks.
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CABRERA: You have had such a rich career in politics, journalism, as an author, and such a rich experience, a variety of experiences. And you've been able to share a lot of those insights with the public over the years.
What are some of those things you wish you knew before you started talking, if you could give us a little preview?
SMERCONISH: Ana, I've got 30-years-worth of stories that I want to condense into an hour tonight. But what I've learned is the destructive influence of a polarized media.
So I hope that people watching will be entertained, have a couple of laughs, but take away the serious message about the changes that I've seen in the last 30 years. None of them good in terms of how the media has gone polar and so, too, has Washington and state capitals.
I don't see correlation. I see causation. And I'll try to make that case tonight.
CABRERA: I look forward to seeing your special.
Michael Smerconish, thank you --
SMERCONISH: Thank you.
CABRERA: -- very much for joining us.
Be sure to tune into his special --
SMERCONISH: Thank you.
CABRERA: -- CNN presents "THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED TALKING." That's tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.
We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [15:51:25]
CABRERA: He knows more than the generals and, of course, more than the scientists. And now President Trump is bragging he took a cognitive test to prove how smart he is and he aced it. So, how do we know?
CNN's Tom Foreman puts it to the test.
TRUMP: I actually took one when I -- very recently, when I -- when I was, you know, the Radical Left were saying, "Is he all there? Is he all there?" And I proved I was all there because I -- I aced it.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The President's boast of acing a cognitive test is laced with questions. Does he mean the one he took in 2018 at Walter Reed Medical Center or something more recent? Perhaps during his surprise trip there last November?
Critics remain skeptical of claims he was getting a physical. And the White House is offering no proof for his latest assertion.
TRUMP (voice-over): I took it at Walter Reed Medical Center, in front of doctors, and they were very surprised. They said, "That's an unbelievable thing. Rarely does anybody do what you just did."
FOREMAN: Really? Not likely, according to medical experts, who say such tests are just not that hard.
ARTHUR CAPLAN, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF MEDICAL ETHICS, NYU LANGONE MEDICAL CENTER: I wasn't there. But I doubt very much that astonishment was the reaction of the doctors.
FOREMAN: The Montreal Cognitive Assessment, which we know Trump took, at least once, lasts only 10 minutes.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You may be asked to name animals, such as a lion, a rhino, a camel, draw lines between letters and numbers, in an ascending order, and maybe even doing things like subtracting seven sequentially, so 100, 93, 86, 79. You get the idea.
FOREMAN: Acing such a test would do nothing to bolster Trump's relentless claims of being much smarter than his political foes.
TRUMP (OC): I know I have an IQ better than all of them. I know that.
I guarantee you. My IQ is much higher than theirs.
Some of the pundits, you know, the -- the guys, believe me, we're much smarter than them. IQ-wise, not even a contest.
FOREMAN: So, why brag about it? Perhaps because his campaign is attacking 77-year-old challenger, Joe Biden, on that front.
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AD NARRATOR: Biden is clearly diminished.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All men and women created, by the -- you know this -- you know the thing.
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FOREMAN: And Trump, just three years younger, has had some awkward moments lately, spurring questions about his mental and physical competence, no matter what he says.
TRUMP: Been very consistent. I'm an extremely stable genius.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Whatever the reason for the boast, there's also this to consider. If the doctors were surprised, as the president says, that he did so well, why? And what was he being tested for in the first place?
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
CABRERA: From rock star to all-star dishwasher, this week's "CNN Hero," John Bon Jovi, took a break from power ballads to focus on feeding the hungry during the pandemic.
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JON BON JOVI, ROCK STAR & CNN HERO: The COVID-19 epidemic has affected everybody. For me, it's slowed the world down. Record releases are trivial.
So, this is the JBJ Soul Kitchen, one of three that we have here in New Jersey.
There's an in-need population here who depend on us. Our doors remain open for takeout. Anyone who needs a meal knows that we'll provide them with that nutritious meal.
We're unable to have our volunteers, hence, the all-star Hall of Fame dishwasher is back in business. And I'm here helping out five days a week.
My wife took a picture of me washing dishes. She said, well, what's the caption? I said, "Do What You Can."
CABRERA: Wow, talk about a guy who is down to earth. That is awesome. To learn more about Jon Bon Jovi's "Do What You Can" efforts and to
hear the song he and his fans are performing to lift spirits around the world, just go to CNNheroes.com.
We'll be right back.