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Fauci On Vaccines: We Are Going As Quickly As We Can; Republicans Split On Plans For New Stimulus Package; Trump & Biden Face Accusations Of Cognitive Decline. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 22, 2020 - 12:30   ET

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


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[12:32:10]

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Some important words and warnings this morning from the nation's top infectious disease experts. The big one, we are on the -- at the beginning of the fight against the coronavirus. And Dr. Fauci had this to say about how quickly we might get a vaccine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If you want to do it correctly, with safety, and real attention to safety and efficacy, I think we are going as fast as we possibly can.

If you can get that vaccine trial going in the middle of a lot of viral activity, such as we are experiencing now in the United States with 50 to 60 to 70,000 new infections per day, that's bad news for public health, but that certainly facilitates the development and the proving of the efficacy of a vaccine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: CNN health reporter, Jacqueline Howard joins us now with more on Dr. Fauci's words today. Jacqueline?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Yes. And, you know, like Dr. Fauci said, things are moving quickly, but you can really hear in his message that that's not at the expense of safety. So he's really making it clear that things are moving as fast as they possibly can. But you can also hear the emphasis on how that doesn't mean there are corners being cut when it comes to safety and efficacy.

And around the world, there are at least 24 vaccine candidates currently in clinical evaluation. And that means that once there is a vaccine that has been proven to be safe and effective, we'll probably see more than one when that time comes. So things are moving as fast as they can.

And Dr. Fauci also made an interesting comment about how he doesn't think we're going to eradicate the coronavirus anytime soon. But we do have the tools to control it and that means public health measures like washing hands and wearing masks and when we have a vaccine that will help as well.

And Dr. Fauci also said that he does not plan to give up when it comes to this pandemic. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: This is what I do. This is what I've been doing all my life. This is what I've been trained for. This is what I have all my experiencing. And it would be unimaginable for me no matter what they throw at me, you know, insecurity or whatever it is, I'm not walking away from this because this is just too important. It's too much at stake for the world for me to walk away from this, not a chance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD: And you know, Dr. Fauci, has served under six presidents. He -- when it comes to infectious diseases, he has been in this game for some time. And so again, you can just hear his determination when it comes to this pandemic. John?

KING: Jacqueline Howard, appreciate that and words of wisdom and I guess patience from Dr. Fauci. We'll continue to track and check on. Thanks for the update there.

[12:34:58]

When we come back, Congress is debating a new coronavirus stimulus package, the biggest immediate hurdle, a Republican Family Feud.

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KING: Insane is what Rand Paul calls the plan. And if it comes to a vote, Ted Cruz describes himself not as a no but as a hell no, just a tiny glimpse there of the Republican Family Feud over new coronavirus spending.

Our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, on Capitol Hill. Manu, Republicans are going to try today to work out their differences but this is a very deep divide.

[12:40:09]

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about it. And this is just the start of this process. And where it ends up is anybody's guess.

But Republicans are divided about whether they should do anything at all and exactly what the contents of it should be. Ron Johnson, the Republican senator from Wisconsin, just told a small group of us off the Senate floor that he does not believe there should be any more spending at this point, because he says, essentially, they have -- still don't understand the full impact of their roughly $2.2 trillion stimulus package that passed in March.

Other Republican conservatives also joined that including Ted Cruz, you mentioned, Rand Paul say, what's the point of spending more money, Rand Paul accusing Republicans of trying to quote ruin the country. But then on the other side, you have Republicans who are in difficult reelection races like Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine who want more government action to deal with the crisis, economic crisis around the country.

And then you have the contents of the bill, the White House and the Senate Republicans are at odds over several key issues, one of which is reopening schools and making money contingent on reopening schools. Marco Rubio just told me the Florida Senator that he does not believe they should tie money for reo -- to schools to force them to reopen. That's some of the White House's push for several days.

They've also pushed for a payroll tax cut. But Senate Republicans have pushed back on that. So John, even when the Senate Republicans and the White House get on the same page of their proposal, which will be roughly $1 trillion. We do expect that eventually to come out, the Republican polls over the next day or so.

They still have to bridge a significant differences with the Democrats who have their own $3 trillion plan and have much more different priorities. And how do they resolve that in this time of crisis where so many people are waiting particularly for those $600 a week jobless benefits that are bound to expire at the end of this week, how that gets resolved is ultimately unclear.

And you add an election year politics and it raised a lots of questions about whether Congress can bridge this divide between the two sides but also within the Republican Party itself. John?

KING: We'll start there with the Republican fight. Manu Raju, a busy couple days and weeks likely ahead for you on Capitol Hill tracking all this. Manu, appreciate the update there.

This stimulus fight just one source of Republican family tension at the moment. On the House side, several GOP lawmakers close to President Trump picking a fight with their colleague Liz Cheney, even though this Liz Cheney is on the leadership team. That's because Congresswoman Cheney heaps preys on Dr. Anthony Fauci, who of course, is often on a different path, different page on the President when it comes to the coronavirus.

Let's discuss with former Republican senator Rick Santorum and Republican strategist Amanda Carpenter. Appreciate you both being here. Insane, hell no, that's Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, Senator Santorum when it comes to this proposed Republican spending plan. What are we seeing here?

And let me put something on the table, you tell me if you agree or disagree. The President's poll numbers are in the tank right now. And I'm starting to see what I view is the beginning of a, while he might lose and if he does, there'll be a post Trump Republican Party. Let's all -- let's take a position.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't know about that. I mean, this sounds like the good old Republican Party that I remember that, you know, where there are sharp disagreements about spending, about, you know, how much government control that we want in Washington versus giving it to the states, whether it was spent to school closures.

So this sounds a little bit more normal to me, which I think is a good thing. I am glad Republicans are speaking out and fighting for these various positions. You know, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and Rand Paul, and you -- and Ron Johnson are our tough fiscal hawks.

And, you know, I think they feel like as the election is coming up, and that we've already spent a couple of trillion dollars, that it's time to dig our heels in a little bit. I find that to be a very positive thing. And it actually puts the Republicans in a pretty good negotiating position with the Democrats.

KING: Amanda, isn't he in a very diplomatic way, kind of making my point, that if these are fiscal conservatives, fiscal hawks, as Senator Santorum calls him where have they been in the last three and a half years? They're speaking out now. Would they do so if they thought they'd get in trouble for it?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think I mean, some of this fighting predates back to spring when we originally started with the coronavirus bills. If you look at this fight between Liz Cheney and Tom Massie, I mean, start there. He got in trouble with President Trump and leadership because he objected to spending. He wanted to force a vote on it.

If you think back to the spring, President Trump called for his ouster from the party. And then Liz Cheney went endorsed his primary opponent, which was really a strange move considering some of the things that that guy had posted on Twitter means about the alt-right racist tropes. That was a really head scratcher move. And Liz Cheney is from the way that I see it.

And so I think people trying to break this down into a pro-Trump, anti-Trump thing are assessing the wrong dynamic. There are deep fissures here which go back years and years all the way back to the Bush wars. There is -- what is proceed as a pro war caucus in the House big spending and Liz Cheney fits in pretty neatly with that dynamic.

[12:45:06]

And so when you see people like Tom Massie standing up other people saying hey, we want to get controlled the spending. He asked about coronavirus, but it's a lot -- it's about a lot more things too.

KING: I think it's about a lot. I definitely agree with that. I definitely agree that, it's about a lot. Let's listen to Liz Cheney. She was on "Fox" this morning. As you mentioned, you know, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, some others in the House. I don't like that she saw effusive enterprise of Anthony Fauci.

She has disagreed with the President's plan to reduce troop deployments overseas, especially in Germany of late. Listen to her this morning, though, saying this is too much about not too much. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Well, look, my voting record with President Trump is something like 97 percent of the time. There are areas they tend to be on national security where we don't always agree. I find in my experience, the President appreciates people who are direct, people who explain what they think.

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KING: I get your point, Senator Santorum about a healthy debate. I think both parties should have a healthy debate. This President though, uses his Twitter chainsaw to shutdown this debate within the Republican Party sometimes. Liz Cheney is an interesting figure in the sense that not long ago, she tweeted a picture of her father, the former vice president wearing a mask saying real men wear masks at a time the President was not an advocate of mask. So she occasionally does pick a fight.

SANTORUM: Yes, look, I think there is a -- as Amanda was saying, there's a deep fissure within the Republican Party, which I think is actually, again, I go back to it's a good thing. I mean, there's none of that on the Democratic side. I mean, everybody's sort of falling in line, you know, with the left.

And you see Republicans particularly on the issue of foreign policy, I mean, just between Amanda and me, we have very different points of view as to, you know, how much the -- we should -- we as a country should be involved in stabilizing the world. And I happen to agree more with Liz Cheney than I do with Donald Trump on that. I probably vote 97 percent with the President too.

But on this issue, we have very, very distinct differences. And I don't think -- you may be paying attention to them now, but I think they've been vocal and they've been real for -- throughout his presidency.

KING: And to that point, Amanda, we are in an election year how much of this, let's just focus on the spending fight. How much is this is going to be am I on the ballot? And am I running maybe in a Colorado, Cory Gardner purple state Susan Collins, Maine, purple state, if not a blue state where I, you know, I -- not only do I have to separate myself from the President a little bit to win back home, but I might have to get some Democratic voters?

CARPENTER: Yes. Listen, and in an election year, there's always a caucus of people, both Republican and Democrat who want to get money out the door into the hands of their constituents. And usually you can find Republican and Democrat agreement on it. That's why we have a 20 trillion something dollar debt right now and rising.

And so people are trying to put the brakes on that. And one of the dynamics that's interesting about Liz Cheney here is that she represents party leadership as the conference chair. And so part of the fight they're having is essentially, how come you get to criticize the President on some points but I can't. And what is your position? And so, Liz Cheney, I think too often tries to take a hammer at the libertarian wing of the party for a lot of different reasons. And this played out yet again. But I asked her and other Republicans who share her view you -- where are the libertarians when you want them? Look at what's happening in Portland right now. Everybody is saying, well, where are the libertarians? This is why you need those voices to push back on the strong arm of federal government.

KING: We haven't had many political debates because of our pandemic coverage, which is very necessary time spent on a pandemic. But it's good to have a good debate every now and then. Senator Santorum, Amanda, appreciate your coming. And I like, I'm all for good debates. We'll continue them as we go.

[12:48:45]

When we come back, Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a look at the mental health questions involving the candidates for president.

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KING: For the first time in our country's history, both candidates for president facing accusations, they are in mental decline. Dr. Sanjay Gupta explores.

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DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Regardless of who wins the election in November, a record will be broken either 74-year-old Donald Trump will become the oldest second term president in U.S. history or 77-year-old Joe Biden will be the oldest first term president. And questions of age, health, and most notably cognition, have started to emerge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I may start respectfully, in the "Fox" poll, they asked people, who is more competent? Who's got -- whose mind is sounder? Biden beats you in that.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I tell you what, let's take a test. Let's take a test right now. Let's go down. Joe and I will take a test. Let him take the same test that I took. But I guarantee you that Joe Biden could not answer those questions.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT: I've been testing and constantly testing. Look, all I got to do is watch me and I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I'm running against.

(voice-over): Biden's advisors say he was referring to the everyday rigors of being on the campaign trail. But according to researchers, it is true that the average person's acquired skills, memory, and knowledge, known collectively as crystallized abilities tend to improve until we're about 60 years old, and then plateau till about age 80. But they also caution to not read too much into age alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it's responsible or entirely factual to just use age as a decision point on whether or not someone has a true cognitive impairment.

[12:55:10]

(voice-over): And of course, neither candidate is your average person. Americans have seen these two candidates aged, not just over the last several years, but over the last several decades, watching their careers play out on the national stage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Campaigning for Eric --

TRUMP: The first time that I've been involved in a convention.

BIDEN: Got to bounce that ball.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: T.V. star.

TRUMP: I never thought this was going to happen.

(voice-over): But lately, these are the moments that are getting a lot of attention.

TRUMP: No collusion, no obstruction. I hope they now go and take a look at the oranges, the oranges of the investigation.

BIDEN: We tried it in Iraq is not working. So now we're going to try, I mean in Iran, excuse me. We tried in Ukraine.

TRUMP: We've performed 1.87 million tests today. So that's 1,870,000 tests.

BIDEN: All men and women are created by go, you know, the, you know, the thing.

(voice-over): It is true that everyone's sharpness changes a bit day to day could be a poor night's sleep, being distracted, low blood sugar, dehydration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very dangerous to over interpret mental slips when you see it in an older person. We know that there are many factors that affect our mental acuity. They may look like they're not functioning as well cognitively, but they may be perfectly normal.

(voice-over): And as much as we think we know them, to diagnose a true cognitive problem is quite challenging even for a professional.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way that a physician makes a clinical diagnosis is to have a clinical relationship is to do a very comprehensive medical workup to order specific imaging, brain imaging when needed. And then order specific cognitive assessments, a more, you know, elaborate battery of cognitive tests in order to really have any degree of accuracies.

(voice-over): So then, what do we really know about Donald Trump and Joe Biden's health. Based on the medical records released by the White House, President Trump is on a Statin medication to manage his cholesterol. He is clinically obese. In 2018, the White House said Trump scored a 30 out of 30 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, which doctors use to screen for mild cognitive dysfunction. That same year, White House records indicate the President underwent a coronary calcium CT scan and scored 133, indicating that plaque is present and that he has a common form of heart disease.

This past December, Biden released a summary of his medical history, which noted that he also takes a Statin to lower his cholesterol and triglyceride levels. And he also takes Eliquis to prevent blood clots. He has an irregular heart rhythm known as non-valvular atrial fibrillation or AFib. And he is of normal weight.

Most notably, in 1988, Biden suffered a brain bleed due to a ruptured cerebral aneurysm and underwent two separate brain operations. His doctors say he hasn't had any recurrence of aneurysm since.

BIDEN: I got hospitalized years ago with cranial aneurysm. I was hospitalized the couple of times. They took the top of my head off the second time, said they could not find my a brain the first time.

(voice-over): It's worth remembering there is no requirement for a presidential candidate to release any of their medical history. So we may never have a complete picture of their overall physical and cognitive health. It's the campaign itself that is the ultimate test, leaving the voters to decide whether or not age really matters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even if it's in the most powerful position in the land, what I would say is you have to pick the best person for the job.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Well, John, no one knows campaigns better than you. But I think even you'd be surprised that how much cognitive health has become an issue in this campaign. It's not like we haven't heard about this sort of thing before, but it's really become something that both candidates are talking about quite a bit.

We'll see how this sort of turns out. I do want to point to this Montreal Cognitive Assessment, that's the test that I think President Trump was talking about. Take a look at, John, you may have seen some of these images before. But it's a fairly simple test, a 10-minute test, it's 30 questions. You're looking at visual spatial relations, you're looking at fluency of speech, you're looking at attentiveness, and then just plain memory. You're asked to remember five objects that are recited to you and you have to recite them back at some point later in the test.

It's really considered more of a screening test, John. As you heard, it's very difficult to actually do a diagnostic test that requires time and requires a lot more sophisticated understanding of these tests. So there you have it, John, we'll see how much of an issue this continues to be, but clearly, both candidates talking about it for now. John?

KING: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, appreciate the detailed look there. I like any test that has a rhinoceros on it.

[12:59:57]

Thanks for joining us today. I hope to see you back here same time tomorrow. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now. Have a great day.