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INSIDE POLITICS

U.S. Sets Record Of 77,255 New Cases In One Day On Thursday; Trump Opposes Mask Mandate, Claims "They Cause Problems, Too"; Fifteen Weeks Left Until Election Day; Civil Rights Icon Rep. John Lewis Passes Away At Age 80; MLB Set To Start Shortened 60-Day Game Baseball Season This Week. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 19, 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): A record-shattering coronavirus surge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our situation is dire. Our hospitalizations are at an all time high.

KING: And a president in denial.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have the lowest mortality in the world. We're doing a great job.

KING: Plus, Joe Biden takes a double digit lead.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We won't be able to turn the corner without presidential leadership.

KING: And America loses a hero.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): We must never, ever give up. You must be brave, bold, and courageous.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you so much for sharing your Sunday.

The coronavirus shattered records this past week, including new daily highs in the counts of new infections globally and here in the United States. Hospitalizations hitting new highs in more than a dozen states here. Yet, it has been 12 days now since the president of the United States held an event focused on coronavirus, and this big summer surge.

And the Trump White House is now fighting a proposal by Senate Republicans to give the CDC more money for testing and contact tracing. An adviser tells "The Washington Post," the president doesn't ask much about the pandemic anymore, because he, get this, quote, doesn't want to be distracted by it. Doesn't want to be distracted by it.

Keep that in mind as we run through the numbers now and map out a crisis that is screaming for presidential leadership and a national plan to slow the spread.

Let's go back and look at the numbers. You look at the trend line, we have 50 states with 50 reopening plans, 32 of them on this Sunday morning heading in the wrong direction, meaning their case count is higher this week than last week. That's an improvement.

Throughout most of this past week, 32 states are heading up, we have 32 heading up now, those are the orange, the red heading up by 50 percent currently than compared to last week. Fourteen states holding steady, that's the yellow or the base. Four states case count down compared to last week. But 32 states still heading up there.

This past week, just devastating. If you go back to the beginning, this is what we thought the peak was in April. Saw it flat line, a dip. Look at the past week, a week ago, 59,000 new cases on Sunday, Thursday, all time high, 77,000 plus. The line heading up in the wrong direction as the summer surge continues. We will take a look obviously in the week ahead.

The seven-day average of new cases, again, March as it began, April, many thought would be the peak, May and June stable, down a little bit from April, but July has seen this surge averaging in the last week more than 71,000 new cases a day. And with the case count comes hospitalizations.

Again, back in April, this was the peak, shy of 60,000 people in the hospital of coronavirus. A steady drop, we're back up now almost, almost rivaling the April peak. We will see if this number goes up or down in this week ahead.

Fifteen states, you see them right here, 15 states have more than a thousand COVID-19 patients hospitalized right now to a hospitalization problem coming with the case here.

Remember, remember when the reopening happened. The reopening happened, you had the inevitable increase in cases, the president, other leaders said that's OK. Hospitalizations are going down. We can manage this. We knew there would be more cases, we can manage this.

But there is a lag time. You have hospitalizations, you have cases, hospitalizations lag, 27 days later, you see hospitalizations now starting to go up. That is the problem now in many communities. We'll discuss that in the hour ahead.

The White House well-aware of this growing crisis, even if the president refuses to acknowledge it. A document prepared for the coronavirus task force puts 18 states in a red zone. And says they should roll back their reopenings.

But that document has not been made public. And we know the president wants the economies left open. That document also urges several states to enact mask mandates. The president opposes a national mask requirement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I want people to have a certain freedom and don't believe in that, no. I don't agree with the statement that if everybody wear a mask, everything disappears. Hey, Dr. Fauci said don't wear a mask. Our surgeon general, terrific guy, said don't wear a mask.

Everybody was saying don't wear a mask. All of a sudden everybody has to wear a mask and as you know, masks cause problems too. With that being said, I'm a believer in masks, I think masks are good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Yet again, when the president speaks, a lot of that is misleading. Masks do not cause problems.

Dr. Fauci and the surgeon general did say months ago masks were not recommended, but they now say they are vital to slowing the spread. The president who right there called himself a big believer in masks almost never wears one.

Kaitlan Collins is live for us from the White House this Sunday.

Kaitlan, the president's philosophy seems to be, if I pretend the coronavirus is not happening, it will go away.

[08:05:00]

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And the question is, that's obviously not working based on the charts you showed us. Those are the same numbers that the coronavirus task force is looking at when they meet several times a week.

So the question is, why is this no longer a priority for the president, why are they no longer doing events as you saw in March, in April, and instead this week the president's schedule could have been his schedule if there was not a pandemic going on. He did not hold a single event dedicated to COVID-19, John, and instead helped several other events on deregulation, on MS13 briefing, several other things that the president did.

He even went to Atlanta to give a speech on infrastructure and didn't visit the CDC while he was there. Something that even several aides who work in the White House said could have been such an easy stop for the president to make since he had already flown down to Georgia, but his schedule reflects his priorities.

I mean, his aides would put an event on the schedule if the president was talking about it and if he wanted to see it, yet we did not see any of that materialize this week and he's actually not held a COVID- 19 dedicated event since the Tuesday before that when they sat down with chancellors and other school administrators to talk about reopening schools and have instead continued that push.

And, clearly, the American people are taking notice that the president seems to be tuning out what is going on because 60 percent of people in that ABC/"Washington Post" poll say they disapprove to how the president reacted so far and, John, a pretty significant amount also said they strongly disapprove of president's reaction.

So, the question is do they change course going forward what are they trying to do to get the president to pay more attention to this and some aides have weighed bringing back the daily briefings where the president was often at the helm for hour on end taking questions and talking with the health experts.

But there are other people inside the White House who do the not think that's a good idea, because, of course, the last time he was in the briefing room taking questions for us in the COVID-19 sense, he was talking about using disinfectants like bleach to try to create the coronavirus.

So, the question is going forward what he's going to do and if it is too late for him to now start trying to make it a priority.

KING: It's excellent question. Is it too late, if he does shift and will he shift? He's been stubbornly refusing to so far.

Kaitlan Collins live for us in the White House, appreciate that very much.

Florida, of course, the hottest of many hotspots right now. The Miami area right now the epicenter of that state's alarming surge. Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County and neighboring Broward county all imposed new curfews this weekend. Miami-Dade trends take a look here are alarming, positivity rate, 27 percent. Ventilators in use, 36 percent. The 122 percent capacity of ICU beds.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez with us this Sunday.

Mr. Mayor, I want to start, we just left the White House -- our White House correspondent there. You're quoted in this "New York Times" piece. It's a devastating look at the president's failure to grasp the scope of this crisis.

You said: People follow leaders. People follow the people who are supposed to be the leaders.

The second part there, supposed to be the leaders. How much is your crisis in Miami, how much of it can you tie back to the White House and the way the president handled this?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FL: Well, mask in public rule is a good -- is a good, you know, is a good example. And that's, you know, we have been urging, and I've been urging the president and I've urged the governor to issue a mask in public rule for the state and for the nation.

There is a segment of our population, of our city that will only listen to them. I think it is important that they lead in moments like this. This is an opportunity for the president in an election year to basically lean into this crisis and show leadership and I think that's what mayors across the country had to do because there hasn't been guidance from the CDC in terms of what to do with this resurgence.

And so, we had to cobble together our own experts, you know, talk to hospital administrators, talk to hospital administrators three times a week, I talked to my epidemiologist and biostatisticians three times a week, and I'm now starting to talk to the business community and explain to them how dire the situation is and how we may have to make some very difficult decisions in the coming days.

But it would be great if we had a uniformity of message all the way up and down from an urban city like ours all the way through to, you know, to the president, of course.

KING: When you talk about the difficult decisions you have to make in the coming days, you're talking about rolling back the reopening. There is a curfew in place.

We just showed -- I can show you, the Florida, just statewide in Florida, newly confirmed deaths. Remember when the reopening happened, everybody said, you know, we got this, right? We got this, cases will go up, and hospitalizations started to go up and now deaths start to go up, sadly.

One of the things in Florida, as you test this, the question is, you do more testing, you want to get numbers down to say, hey, people can go back to work, go to restaurants, because there is not community spread. You look at the Florida positivity numbers, 20 percent. They are higher in your community.

In those conversations with the business community, are you saying, another day or three of this, we're going to have to shut down?

SUAREZ: Yeah, we're definitely telling them that, you know, things continue and this continues to be unmanageable. We're going to have to make some dramatic decisions, like potentially a stay at home order.

[08:10:04]

We're actually, we've taken some pretty strict remediation measures, as you've talked about, there's a -- there is a countywide curfew. Miami Beach has implemented a curfew for South Beach to 8:00 p.m.; countywide curfew is 10:00 p.m.

We implemented, as you said, a mask in public rule. We just eliminated the warning for mask in public, so it would be 1,500 -- 15 -- $500 (ph) fine accumulating. We've closed indoor dining, the county has.

So, there had been a variety of remedial measures and some are right for sure, saying, look, we need to give it time to see if the remediation measures work. We have seen some flattening, about 50 percent reduction in increase of new cases. Our percent positive case -- percent positive rate which you just cited has flattened over the last week. It used to be 1 percent per day increase and now, it's flattened to almost zero.

And our hospital admissions have stabilized over the last few days. But that's a very, very small sample size of data. Our experts are asking us to enforce this week and to stay the course,

and that's what our hospital administrator and epidemiologists have told us to do and that's what we do this week. But -- but understanding that we are sort of on the precipice.

KING: On the precipice as you say, which is sad. We're asking the same questions we were asking back in March and early April about testing, about if you have hospital beds available.

You mentioned the curfews. Even before the curfews, we did see some evidence that foot traffic was down a little bit. And I want you to tell me, this is from our friends at Cuebiq looking at anonymous cell phone data.

If you go back to June 10th, you saw 63 percent of people -- foot traffic at restaurants was at 63 percent of where it was a year ago. So, getting back to where it was a year ago. And now, it has dropped to about 47 percent, so it's about half of what it was a year go, but down in just the last couple of weeks. If you move it over here, this is foot traffic at bars. I know this was troubling to you.

You got around June 10th, Miami, this is Ft. Lauderdale area, back to essentially 70 percent of where things were a year ago. Now, it has dropped down to about 57 percent.

So, that trend is heading in the right direction. You get people out of the places, Mr. Mayor, where you have these large spread events if you will. Do you need to push those numbers down lower?

SUAREZ: Look, you know, like you said that is positive, you know, data. We're looking at all the data and I would love -- for your producers to send me, where we can continue to get that cellphone because that's one data point that we don't have access to. But I'd love to be able to see that, to be able to be more targeted in terms of the remediation measures that we're taking.

So, you know, yes, the answer is yes, of course. We want to reverse all these trends. We want to go from an increase positivity rate to a downward sloping positivity rate, and we're getting close to that, but we haven't gotten there yet.

The only thing we have seen able to do that is the stay-at-home order and that's one of the reasons why we have never been able to take that off the table. The second thing is the percent positive rate is incredibly important in our community because that's an indication of how widespread the disease is. That's incredibly important.

That cell phone data you cite, I would love to see it. That is -- that is something we can use to target a lot of the stuff we do runs to some level of privacy restrictions, for example, HIPAA, you know, in terms of getting medical information from the Department of Health.

So, you know, whatever data you can send my way, to make better decisions, I'd really appreciate it.

KING: We will work on that, sir, and we wish you the best of the luck in the week ahead. Obviously, as you said, the precipice, it's sad that more than five months in, we're still using words like that. But we wish you the best of luck, sir, in the days and weeks ahead and we will keep in touch, including about that data.

SUAREZ: Thanks, John.

KING: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Appreciate it.

Up next for us, the summer surge still part of the first coronavirus wave. Fresh problems with testing and dire warnings about the fall and the winter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:17:53]

KING: A little context here to help understand the coronavirus summer surge. The first U.S. coronavirus case was confirmed back on January 21st. It would take 79 days, 11 weeks-plus, for the case count to hit 465,000. Last week alone, look at that number, in just seven days, 465,488 new infections confirmed right here in the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It is just functioning on adrenaline. This is a really serious problem. It is truly historic. We haven't even begun to see the end of it yet. Until you get it completely under control, it is still going to be a threat.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: But I am worried. I do think the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be -- probably one of most difficult times we've experienced in American public health.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: With us this Sunday to share their expertise and their insights, Dr. Ashish Jha is the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute; Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician and researcher of Brown University.

So, you hear Dr. Fauci and Dr. Redfield, they get it. They get it. We know about this White House coronavirus task force document that is not to be made public, others get it. The president doesn't talk about it.

Dr. Jha, to you first -- as we have this conversation, I'm asking questions, I was asking in March and April again, but 27 states, we can show you a map, now beginning to roll back because the governors and the mayors in these states can count. They see what is happening in the case count. They see what's happening in hospitalizations. They are rolling back.

And yet, we learned this weekend, and we'll show the headline, the White House objects to the Senate Republican push for more CDC money for coronavirus testing and contact tracing.

Now, if it were a House Democratic proposal, you might say, oh, it's just politics. These are Senate Republicans trying to get more money for testing and tracing.

How could you oppose that?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, so good morning, John, thank you for having me back on.

It is baffling. It is baffling. And, look, the governors are starting to roll back because what they're seeing is people in their own states rolling back. We're seeing very clear data. People are not going out to restaurants in the same way. People are not -- people are not heading out as much as they were before. So, people are voting with their feet and the governors are taking notice.

[08:20:03]

You know, in terms of the federal government, and the opposition to testing and tracing, it is one thing when they leave it to states and say, we're not going to help, but when they basically decide that they're going to pause supporting states in building up testing and tracing, I -- it gets beyond me, I no longer understand what the strategy is coming out of the White House.

KING: And, Dr. Ranney, one of the problems now is you can get a test and by the time you get the results it might be useless to you because of the delays. You know, I had knee surgery recently. I got a test, I couldn't go to the hospital without it. But for a normal person who gets test, you're waiting five to seven days.

Quest attributing it to this: We're limited in how quickly we can add capacity. For instance, global supply constraints continue to be an issue, while our supplies of test platforms or reagents continue to be responsive to our need to add capacity, they're limited surging demand in the United States and globally.

How can this be true, five months in, that, number one, some people are taking a test and it is useless by the time they get the results because it's dated and number two, we're still talking about the supply lines.

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, LIFESPAN/BROWN UNIVERSITY: You know, John, it is mystifying. Dr. Jha and I have been talking for months now about the need to ramp up production of testing. There is no way we can get this virus under control if we can't offer tests not just to everyone who is systematic, so everyone who has a sore throat, fever, cough, but also to a random sample of people who are asymptomatic because we know that this virus can spread before or without ever having symptoms.

We have been asking for increased production within the United States so that we're able to count on domestic manufacturers and here we are with commercial labs running out of capacity again. Here in my home state of Rhode Island, we're seeing wait times grow, we're seeing the positivity rates grow across the country. It's truly inexcusable. This is a national disaster and we need a national response.

KING: And we're in the middle of July, heading closer to august and the case count is going up, you're seeing a number of school districts saying can't bring kids back to school, this conversation will continue.

There is a new study today, there's a "New York Times" story about it, large study from South Korea offers an answer. Children younger than 10 transmit to others much less often than adults do, but the risk is not zero, and those between the age of 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults do.

As a parent, I look at that, Dr. Jha and say, so maybe kindergarten, first grade, second grade, elementary, middle school, safer, high school, not? Is that the right read?

JHA: Yeah, so, this is one study of many, and the general consensus I think that most of us -- younger kids spread a lot less. Older kids, especially as you started getting into teenagers and older kids, start looking like adults, excuse me.

So what you ultimately want to do is get the virus suppressed in the community where you can open up schools safely and you may have a different threshold for getting kids, kindergarten through 5, let's say, back in at an earlier level and may need wait longer until the virus levels are down before you open up high schools.

KING: Dr. Ranney, back to what you said about Rhode Island, I'm worried about a cycle here. When Rhode Island, New York, New England, Connecticut, were way up, and talking about the crisis point in your state, Florida and Texas and many of these other states were looking on saying that's a Northeast problem, that's not our problem.

Clearly, it's a national problem now, but they have the highest numbers, Rhode Island and many of the New England states, Northeast states shoved the number down, what are you seeing? Are you worried -- do you think you have it down and can hold it down or is this going to cycle back?

RANNEY: That is a million dollar question. You know, we do have the numbers down here across the Northeast right now. But it's summer. Travelers are coming up here.

And airlines are offering bargain basement fares to get people down to Florida and Texas. I mean, we know that Disney World and Disney has reopened, right? We are worried, we're starting to see little upticks in cases. And we are warning people to stay home.

My own governor, Governor Raimondo, recently decreased the capacity of the beaches. We were previously up to 75 percent of beach capacity in gorgeous Rhode Island. We've decreased it to 25 percent because too many people were congregating and we were starting to see little spikes in cases.

We're quite worried about importation of cases from outside, as well as about spread just from people hanging out and getting too close and not wearing masks.

This requires community vigilance and it is really on all of us. We can't do this alone. This requires us coming together as communities, as states and as a country to fight this virus off.

KING: Dr. Ranney, Dr. Jha, grateful for your time on this Sunday, and we will circle back as we go through this summer surge and the challenge ahead. Thank you both so much.

Up next for us, the president replaces his campaign manager and adapts to rallies by telephone. His poll numbers are horrible because voters remember his many coronavirus mistakes, like this one, five months ago today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I know President Xi, I get along with him very well.

[08:25:01]

They are trying very, very hard. I think the numbers are going to get progressively better as we go along.

I think it's going to work out fine. I think when we get into April and the warmer weather that has a very negative effect on that, and that type of a virus.

The economy is doing phenomenally well. Our country is doing fantastic.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:30:00]

KING: America picks its next president in 15 week, 107 days from now. The incumbent, President Trump, replaced his campaign manager this past week. That's all the proof you need he knows he's losing and losing big at the moment.

Plenty of time though, Team Trump says, and that's true. But the President's problems are many. Most voters don't trust him personally or see him as up to the big challenges like coronavirus and race relations.

As a result, we'll show you the numbers. Joe Biden has a big and a growing lead. Let's just take a look at the trend line here.

Quinnipiac, you see the stretch, 15 points. "The Washington Post" also has him at 15 points. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll 11 points. So a double-digit lead for Joe Biden as we go into the middle of July, again, 15 weeks to the election.

Now, Trump supporters would say he came back last time, he was down last time. He was down last time. But at this point last time he was down about four or five points. This is the average CNN poll of polls of all of the polls that were out back at this time four years ago. Yes, Challenger Trump was down then. Candidate Trump but in single digits, a pretty close race then. It's not a close race at the moment.

There is the -- one of the things the President has to change. This is from the NBC/Wall Street Journal data. Half of Americans, 50 percent, say there is no chance, no chance they would vote for Donald Trump. 37 percent say that about Joe Biden.

If half of the electorate already says no chance, the President has a problem. He needs to change some minds there.

Here's more evidence of this problem, this again from the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The President leads among white voters by 7 points but in the 2016 election, he won them by 20. He leads among men by 2 points right now, but in 2016 he won them by 11.

Whites without a college degree, part of the Trump base, that looks look a big number, right. The President is up 22 points right now. He won that constituency by 37 points on Election Day back in 2016. He has work to do.

Here is another one. If you look at 2016, the Trump campaign was very tough on Hillary Clinton, rise to her negative because the President had his own problems. Among those voters who disliked both candidates, President Trump won. Candidate Trump then on Election Day 2016 by 17 points among voters who said I don't really like either one of them.

Voters who don't like either one of them right now support Joe Biden by 58 points. That is an enormous advantage. People who don't like politicians including the President and his challenger are supporting Joe Biden right now.

So if you listen to the President in recent days, not much talk about the coronavirus. A lot of wax at Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will tell you if Biden got in, this economy would be destroyed.

Joe Biden's entire career has been a gift to the Chinese Communist Party.

When Biden and the radical left want to open borders for MS-13 and others, we want strong borders.

The American dream would be sniffed out so quickly and replaced with a socialist disaster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights: Dan Balz of "The Washington Post", and CNN's Nia Malika Henderson.

Dan, as someone who's been through some of these, yes, horse race numbers can be changed. But when you look into the bones deep, whether it's your new poll out today, whether it's this NBC/Wall Street Journal data, any data, the President's problems are so many.

I know 15 weeks is a long time. But can you reverse all those things? Questions about character, questions about ability to handle the coronavirus, distrust -- it is a lot to fix.

DAN BALZ, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST: It is a tremendous amount to fix, John. You're absolutely right. He overcame character issues in 2016. So we would have to assume that that's not the major barrier right now.

I think when you look at these polls, the biggest problem he's got is the coronavirus pandemic. The disapproval of him in handling that has spiked upward. And as that has spiked upward, Biden's support has grown and Trump support has dropped.

I think that the way out for Trump is two-fold. One, he has to rally his base and find more voters like the voters who supported him in 2016 but didn't turn out. But he mostly has to figure out a way to persuade people he's dealing effectively with the pandemic. If he's not able to do that, then I think he's got a very, very difficult time bringing this race home for him.

KING: And Nia, to Dan's point, yes, the President can rally his base, but if you look at the numbers in the suburbs, which in most of the big battleground states decide close elections, the President's numbers are tanking still.

And to Dan's point about the big challenge before, let's just show the numbers. Do you approve or disapprove of the President's handling of the virus, six in ten Americans disapprove? It's the biggest challenge in the country, right now, excluding a of Trump states. If you look at where the numbers are going way up, 60 percent disapprove.

Do you trust what the President says on the virus? Not much or not at all, 64 percent. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they don't trust their president when he talks about the biggest challenge facing the country right now.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, this is a huge problem for this president. You have some advisers saying, listen, if he gets back out there in the way that he was out there before with those daily press conferences, maybe that would change things around.

[08:34:59]

HENDERSON: In fact, a lot of the things that he said in those press conferences are why you see the numbers where they are now with people not trusting this president, essentially thinking that he's checked out on this.

It is also his behavior, right? I mean he has essentially not had a plan. That is the plan, to leave it up to the states and have a sort of piecemeal approach and in just kind of the will the schools back open without having any real plan. So this is a real problem. I also think there is something here in addition to the coronavirus. I think the Lafayette Square incident as well, where you had authorities clearing peaceful protests. This was in the beginning of June. People sitting at home watching that on their televisions. I think that also is seared into the minds of these voters in terms of how this president's behavior and what that means for average citizens. And there are things like that that you can't really reverse.

And with the coronavirus, it also just doesn't seem like the President has any appetite to focus on this even though it is clear that it is uppermost in the minds of American voters right now.

KING: Right. It is a great point, Dan. He seems obsessed with little petty side bites. John Lewis died yesterday, the President of the United States you would think under any circumstance would come to a camera and say farewell and pay tribute to an American hero.

Nia mentions clearing the protesters. He hasn't had a coronavirus event, events specifically designated to it in 12 days. But he did take a pose at the White House at the desk in the Oval Office with a bunch of products from Goya because there's a boycott under way from some people because Goya's CEO said nice things about the President of the United States.

So this is what the President thinks is important. But if you look at your polling today, you look at your newspaper today or you pick up a "New York Times" today: headline, "Inside Trump's Failure: The rush to abandon leadership role on the virus, one of the greatest failures of presidential leadership in generations."

I don't get this in the sense that maybe the President doesn't like science, maybe the President doesn't like all these doctors around him. The President cares about himself and his own political survival and self-interest, he has to know that the way he's conducting business right now is hurting him.

BALZ: Absolutely. And I think that one of the things that Bill Stepien, who's the new campaign manager and the team around the inner circle around the President, will have to do is force him in some way or another or try to force him to become more disciplined.

He became more disciplined in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign and Democrats are cognizant of that fact. But so far, particularly because of this pandemic, he seems incapable of doing that, and he wants to talk about anything other than what is most on people's minds, and that is the health and safety of themselves and their families.

Nia makes the point about the Lafayette Square. In our survey, the President has a deficit of about 25 points on race relations and also a significantly smaller but still a deficit on crime and safety.

So in all the ways he seems to be trying to make the argument against Biden, it is not working. And on the big issue, he's indifferent.

KING: And Nia, the flip side of that is that Joe Biden has this enormous opportunity right now, but the big decisions ahead -- he's scaled back convention, his vice presidential pick. There is -- we're going to watch a lot to see how the President responds, but Biden has a piece of this as well.

HENDERSON: That's right. And so far he's been doing pretty good, right. I mean you see all the polls here; he's got some big decisions to make coming up and we'll see how he fares going forward at this convention, who he picks for his vice president and how the President goes with that.

This issue about race, and Dan mentioned the polling there, he's strong on that issue. And you see the President, of course, going back to his tactics from 2016, essentially being a bit of a race baiter. We call it the culture war; it really is just being a race baiter. He's thinking that he can elevate his numbers among white voters, but he's obviously turning away white voters as well, particularly suburban white voters.

KING: 15 weeks from Tuesday, we'll pick a president. We'll continue to track it.

Dan and Nia, appreciate your reporting and insights this morning.

Up next for us, an important conversation. The life and legacy of a civil rights icon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: This is where people gave some blood. I gave a little blood on this bridge.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: You gave a lot of blood on this bridge.

LEWIS: And that's why I think this bridge must be saved and preserved because it helped open up the democratic process for all of our citizens.

Now I feel like when I come here, and walk across this bridge, it is almost like holy ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[08:39:34]

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KING: John Lewis was the youngest to speak, 57 years ago, at the march on Washington. He was just 23.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWIS: We do not get (INAUDIBLE) legislation out of this Congress, we will march through the streets of Jackson, through the streets of Danville, through the streets of Kansas, through the streets of Birmingham. But we will march with the spirit of love and with the spirit of dignity that we have shown here today. We must wake up, America. Wake up. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Last month at the age of 80 and his cancer made his days scarce, Congressman John Lewis reflecting here on the death of George Floyd and a new generation demanding change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWIS: This feel and look so different. It is so much more massive and all inclusive. It would be no turning back.

People now understand what the struggle was all about. It is another step down a very, very long road toward freedom, justice for all humankind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: With us to discuss the loss of this icon, American legend, is the Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and CNN commentator Van Jones.

Governor Barnes and Van -- thank you so much for being here. John Lewis often spoke, he was very humble about himself, saying he was just doing his part and everybody should do their part. And he talked often about the next generation.

Van Jones and Mandela Barnes, you are the next generation. Van Jones, a son of 1968, a horrible year in America. We lost Dr. King. We lost Bobby Kennedy. Let me start with you. What do you view as your responsibility as your friend is now gone and says the next generation needs to pick up the baton?

VAN JONES, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, first, let me just say, you know, you have all these young people out here today, the John Lewises of today, out in the millions marching, braving a pandemic. John Lewis went from being a student leader, with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to being the conscience of a nation. The conscience of a nation.

[08:44:57]

JONES: And you know, nobody is going to fill those shoes but I think collectively we have to step forward. I'll never forget March 2015, the 50th anniversary of that Bloody March across that bridge when Barack Obama went to give a speech there.

And I saw something I've never seen before and may never see again. Usually the last person to come on to the dais is the President of the United States.

I saw Michelle Obama come on. I saw Barack Obama come on, and then following the President, John Lewis. Even the President of the United States it seemed was saying, this is such a giant. I want to welcome him to the stage. Don't let him welcome me. Let me welcome him.

That's the -- that was the power of his example even to the President of the United States. Just unbelievable.

KING: Amen.

And Mandela Barnes -- sorry, we lost the Lieutenant Governor there, Van. But so if you look at this, when sometimes the torch is passed at a ceremony, now the torch is passed in sadness.

That conversation during the George Floyd uprising, just to hear John Lewis -- there's a fascinating story in "The Washington Post" everybody watching should read it today about how you know, Dr. King and others were alarmed at the march on Washington because they thought his speech was too radical.

And they got him to tone it down a little bit. He was a bit radical at the age of 23. He became this humble, kind man. Whenever you were in John Lewis' presence, he would take your hand. He would ask how you were doing. He was a hero who wanted to make it about anything but himself.

The evolution was important.

JONES: Well, yes. And the crazy thing is you look on Instagram today, you see literally thousands and thousands of pictures of just regular people posting pictures of themselves with John Lewis.

Wait a minute, how do all of these -- I don't just mean senators and stars, I mean normal people by the thousands. Why? Because he was so much a person of the people. He was completely accessible to the very last.

And I don't think he ever stopped being radical in terms of his radical belief in the power of American democracy and the American people that make things better. His rhetoric may have toned down a little bit. But I think his commitment never toned down to ordinary people.

KING: And listen to him here in this conversation with Oprah. He had the phrase "good trouble". He wanted people to protest. He wanted them to march. But he wanted them to sing and to be nonviolent even if the police pulled out the batons. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWIS: When I was growing up in rural Alabama, my mother will always say, boy, don't get in trouble. Don't get in trouble. But one day I heard Rosa Parks, heard the words of Martin Luther King Jr. on the radio. The words of Dr. King and the action of Rosa Parks inspired me to get in trouble. And I've been getting in trouble ever since.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Just the joy, the joy there of making a difference. Van, how do you deal with the challenge? We're losing the World War II generation. We're losing the civil rights generation. John Lewis, the last of the organizers of what you're seeing right there on your screen to pass from us. How do you hand off the baton and remember to continue the work?

JONES: Well, I mean the good thing is that that's already happening. I mean you see this new generation and, you know, black, white, brown -- every color.

I don't think we yet appreciate it and it may never be something that we can appreciate, the courage that it took for those young people to do what they did. You know, we can go out here and march, we might be braving a pandemic, these people were facing death in the eye, in the eye. And they said they love the country enough, they couldn't go on, they were willing to do it.

And so not only did you lose John Lewis, you lost C.T. Vivian on the very same day. C.T. Vivian, another massive icon, another -- a little bit older than John Lewis, and he trained the young people behind him. So this has been passed down for a long time.

But when you lose a John Lewis, and you lose a C.T. Vivian on the same day, heaven is trying to get our attention. Heaven is trying to say, listen this is the example. These are the examples. People who love the country so much, they were willing to put their lives on the line.

We get upset about a mean tweet sometimes. These people dealt with dogs. They dealt with fire hoses. They dealt with their friends being murdered and they stayed nonviolent. They stayed disciplined and they pushed the country forward.

And the young people are taking up their example. That's the amazing thing is how many young people who are out there today have heard of the student nonviolent coordinating (AUDIO GAP) -- you know and heard -- and all of -- every one of them knows John Lewis.

KING: Van Jones, grateful for your time today. Our apologies to Mandela Barnes, the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin. We had some technical issues there. We'll have that conversation another day.

Van, thanks so much.

Up next for us, opening day in July. America's game like everything else tries a new normal.

[08:49:51]

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KING: Opening day for Major League Baseball is this Thursday. 119 days late. About the time players are normally returning from their all- star break. But nothing is normal of course can you see of the coronavirus, sports included.

Baseball's COVID-19 protocols include testing every other day, twice daily temperature checks, mandatory masks in the dugout and in the bullpen. No chewing tobacco or sunflower seeds or spitting.

Some players say it's not enough and have opted out because of safety concerns. At least 26 of the 30 Major League teams have reported a positive coronavirus test among their players.

Joining me now, the MLB Network analyst, a veteran of 15 Major League Baseball seasons, Harold Reynolds. Harold, thanks so much for being with us.

You have a unique perspective as someone who played the game for so long and as a broadcaster now, a 60-game season, somebody gets hot out of the gate, that could change everything.

We all want baseball back. How is this going to be different?

HAROLD REYNOLDS, MLB NETWORK ANALYST: Well, everything you just talked about makes it totally different just on the field. I'll start with that first.

Sixty games -- you know, you're usually going down the stretch. And by the last 60 games, you've eliminated pretty much 15 teams or so and you know who's fighting for that pennant race.

Now all 30 clubs have a legitimate shot. I mean you get out the gate and you play well, you can sustain that through 60 games. So, I really think it's the first time it could be the most exciting finish in baseball.

But the challenge, John, as you just mentioned, it's going to be the testing and guys staying healthy throughout the battle of this pandemic.

KING: And so you played the game for a long time. You come to the park, you stretch, you throw, you run between the lines, you take batting practice -- ritual. Now you're going to have to take a COVID test, you're going to have every other day anyway. You're going to have to have your temperature checked. If you're not in the game you're going to have to sit probably up in the stands six feet apart.

How will that change the character of the game? And then add in, no fans? I assume when Harold Reynolds is in the field in the bottom of the ninth inning, he loved being cheered or loved being booed. That's what motivates you. How's that going to change things?

[08:55:02]

REYNOLDS: There's no doubt you're going to miss the fans. The fans give you adrenaline and get you in the game.

But I will say this. And I mean this sincerely. Having come through high school, minor leagues, college, whatever it is -- baseball's the one sport I think you're used to not having big crowds. You really don't get those big numbers until you get to the major leagues.

So if there is a sport that's accustomed to not playing in front of people, it would be baseball. Now, that said, it's going to be extremely weird. It's going to be different. But I do think what's going to be unique for the fan who's listening is all the sounds and communications that get drowned out by fans' sound. You will now get to hear a ball and a guy yelling second, second, third, third. And the coach is yelling, screaming and guys talking.

So I think that's going to make it pretty compelling.

KING: In some ways that might make it even more interesting.

Again, I want to tap your unique perspective as someone who knows what it's like on the field. But now you're a broadcaster.

I love going to the ballpark. But if I can't get to the ballpark, we all have our teams. We all have our guys. I'm a Boston Red Sox fan. I watch Dave O'Brien and Jerry Remy and Eck.

It's different -- it's different for broadcasters too. What is the challenge for you at the MLB Network and for all the broadcasters in this very different environment where you're not up close? You're not touching the players. You're not talking to them players face to face every day?

REYNOLDS: Well, that's the difficult part because you really like to be able to engage. If you're broadcasting the game, like I got a chance to do the World Series and a number of playoff games. Part of your preparation is talking to players around the batting cage. How are you going to adjust today?

You saw this guy three days ago, things like that and you can take and have an anecdote to share with the fan base. You don't get that anymore. So in the studio now, we'll have to rely a lot on our eyes, instincts, make phone calls. We get a chance to call certain guys.

KING: We will go through it together. Everything is different, but having baseball back will be a good thing at this time of stress.

REYNOLDS: Yes.

KING: Harold Reynolds, very grateful for your time and your insights. Best of luck as we get ready to play some baseball.

REYNOLDS: Thank you. Thanks for being such a great fan, too. Appreciate that. Red Sox could be a little struggle this year, we'll see.

KING: 60 games, we can get by with no pitching.

REYNOLDS: There you go.

KING: Take care, sir. Thank you very much.

And that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Hope you can catch us weekdays as well. We're here at 11:00 a.m. and noon Eastern.

Don't go anywhere. A very busy "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper up next. His guests include the South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, the Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday. Have a great day. Stay safe. [08:57:30]

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