Return to Transcripts main page


Battleground Polls Give Biden An Electoral College Advantage; U.S. Experiences Summer Surge In COVID-19 Cases; One Hundred Days Until Election Day; Layoffs Begin Climbing As New Jobless Benefits Set To Run Out. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 26, 2020 - 08:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): The coronavirus case count climbs and climbs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're drowning. We're absolutely drowning here, overwhelming number of cases.

KING: Finally, the president takes notice.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will probably unfortunately get worse before it gets better.

KING: Plus, trouble signs in plain sight. Why did this summer surge happen?

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: You have people who are in denial, compounded by this division across the country, and then you have government incompetence.

KING: And 100 days to the election, advantage Biden, big time.

TRUMP: Three and a half years, I don't think any administration has accomplished so much.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He's quit on this country. This election is not just about him, it's about us.


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

The coronavirus summer surge breaking records, and stressing hospitals.


DR. JOSEPH VARON, CHIEF OF STAFF, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: I have been working today 128 continuous days, six to 20 hours a day. I mean, people say how can your body do that? I guess, you know, we're running on adrenaline.

Last week, I had to sign the largest number of death certificates that I have ever signed in my entire life.


KING: The surge also disrupting plans to send children back to school, and it is putting the economy back in retreat, layoffs on the rise again at a critical moment.

The presidential election is 100 days from today, the coronavirus election. New numbers releasing now may clear President Trump is in deep trouble because Americans give him failing grades when it comes to this pandemic.

Arizona, Florida, Michigan, you remember, key to the Trump 2016 win. But our brand-new CNN polling shows the president trailing in all three. Let's look at the numbers.

You look at the straight numbers right up in Arizona. Traditionally red state, Joe Biden on top by four points, that's very close. But still, the Democrat on top in Arizona, 49-45.

Florida, always the battleground of battlegrounds, right, always close, 51-46, five-point advantage into the last 100 days. Again, that's close, within reach for the president, without a doubt. But another state he won in 2016, 100 days out, he's behind, 51-46.

Michigan, look at the numbers here, it's a blowout, 52-40. The president of the United States down 12 points in the blue collar industrial Midwestern state that was one of the big surprises of 2016.

Arizona, Florida and Michigan all part of the president's map four years ago. Why are voters thinking about change? Because of his handling of this pandemic. The dots are clearly connected.

In Arizona, only 35 percent approve of the president's performance dealing with the coronavirus. Six in 10 Arizonans say they disapprove. In Florida, about the same, almost 4 in 10, 39 percent approve, 57 percent disapprove. In Michigan, 36 percent approve, again, just shy of 6 in 10, 59 percent disapprove of how the president is handling the nation's giant challenge at the moment.

The other big issue in the news in recent months, policing, race relations, racial inequality, the president under water in Arizona, 35 percent approve, 59 percent disapprove. Florida, pretty similar, 37, 57 percent disapprove. Michigan, 47 approve, 59 percent disapprove.

The president is viewed as not in command, if you will, on coronavirus or in race relations, the big issues in the country right now.

How does this affect the Trump map? Well, let's go back to 2016. Remember the big surprise, the president gets 307 electoral votes, flips some states here from blue to red.

Well, look at our new polling now. Suggests Michigan out of reach. Suggests advantage for the Democrats in Florida. Advantage for Biden in Arizona as well.

We learn in the past week, 10 days or so two, Wisconsin is blue at the moment, Pennsylvania is blue at the moment, North Carolina leaning blue at the moment. Six states right there, just stop there for a second. Six states right there.

If those states went blue, president is in a fight, take them off the map, look what happens. President would drop to 205, right? If you just move those six states, just move those to toss up, the president drops to 205, you need 270 to win. Joe Biden with 232, either solid or leaning Democratic in our analysis right now.

If you think about the polling, our polling number one suggests this is leaning D, recent poll shows this one leaning D. That's two of them. Joe Biden to the finish line there.

And remember this as well, a lot of Democrats say wait a minute, CNN leans Georgia and Texas red, there are polls in those states that suggest they could be in play. This map for the president right now 100 days out a very different map if you look back at 2016.

Which is why he says, sure, there is a pandemic, but please, look more broadly at my performance and the former Vice President Joe Biden says, think long and hard about the last five months.


TRUMP: I think the American people will judge us on this, but they'll judge us on the economy that I created, and that already was created.

BIDEN: He's quit on you. He's quit on this country. The president is supposed to care to lead, to take responsibility, to never give up.



KING: With us this Sunday to share the reporting and their insights, Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times," Toluse Olorunnipa of "The Washington Post".

And, Maggie, so the president is well-aware of these numbers and the depth of the ditch if you will, 100 days out. We saw this past week, an attempt to pivot, an attempt to be more responsible in the briefings about the coronavirus. He was better. I'm not going to say he was great. We could break the fact check machine with some of the things.

But does Team Trump, does Team Trump believe in the past week he at least laid the building blocks of a comeback?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They absolutely do. Team Trump is very happy with what happened in the past week. They think that if he can stick to this, again, big word is if, if he can narrowly focus on the coronavirus when he does briefings, if he can stop fighting with reporters, if he can stop, you know, wallowing in self-pity, which he has been doing for many months now, they think they can be in position to have a chance in the fall.

Whether that's true or not depends on who you talk to. You talk to some Republicans who think basically the president only has another four weeks until the convention which is going to be very scaled back to get himself in position. By the time we get to September, it is probably too late, and, look, history told us these pivots as you put it tend to pivot for about two weeks maximum and then revert to form. If the president is not getting praise as he sees it for what he's doing, so let's see what happens.

KING: Right, it's a key point. And to add to your point about the timing here, I'll talk about this later in the program, the election is 100 days, voting starts in six weeks in part because of the pandemic, a lot more early voting. So if the president changes minds, he has to do it before people mail in or cast their vote.

Toluse, to you on that point, the president is trying two things this week. Number one, he's trying to show he's more in touch, more in command, more hands on when it comes to the coronavirus. So, he's acknowledging, yes, could get worse before it gets better. He's saying, a lot of people out there think wearing a mask is patriotic, that's a shift from the president.

But he's also trying more and more to turn your attention, whether you're watching on TV or listening to his briefings, to law and order. The president says there is disruption in American cities led by Democrats. He's sending in federal agents.

Just last night, we see protests in Seattle and Portland getting ugly. We can show some pictures of those. If you listen to the president, if you listen to the president, he says, yeah, coronavirus is one issue, but voters should think about law and order. Listen.


TRUMP: The effort to shut down policing in their own communities led to a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence. This bloodshed must end, this bloodshed will end, will work every single day to restore public safety, protect our nation's children and bring violent perpetrators to justice.


KING: Whether you agree or disagree with the president's perspective, and his actions, of course, public safety is an issue, of course these protests are of concern, but there is also a political aspect to this, the president is trying to turn your attention, if you will, look over here, see the coronavirus, may not like the job performance, he's trying to turn you over here.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, that's exactly right. President is using a well-worn political playbook saying, you may not like me much, but I am the person who can protect you, I can reinstate law and order in your neighborhoods, he pushed forward a movement this past week to essentially repeal a law that was passed or regulation passed by the Obama administration to diversify the suburb. The president saying I'll protect the housewives in the suburbs.

He's not being subtle in what he's doing. He's trying to convert suburban moderate voters who left the presidency and try to bring them back by telling them don't focus on the coronavirus, look at the economy, he continues to have relatively strong numbers on the economy, look at the economy and law and order, and see in the Democrats someone who would completely upend your neighborhood and bring crime and all of these horrible things to your doorstep.

And it's very clear what he's trying to do. He has 100 days to make it work. We'll see -- we'll see if it works. But it is clear that on the coronavirus he does not want people talking or thinking about that for now.

KING: And it's harder, Maggie, to make that case about the other guy when you're the president of the United States -- Donald Trump businessman, Donald Trump outsider, Donald Trump challenger, Donald Trump disrupter in 2016. It is just harder to be that person when you are in charge of the United States government and you see the depth of the challenge.

If you look at our new polling, in Arizona, Florida and Michigan, women, for example, Clinton won them by four points in Arizona, four points in Florida and 11 points by Michigan. That was her base in 2016.

But look here, Biden up 17 in Arizona among women, up 11 in Florida among women, up 29 among women in Michigan. Flip it over, white college graduates, this is largely the fight for the suburbs now, the president carried them by six points in Arizona, 27 in Florida, 8 points in Michigan. Now, Biden up by 15 in Arizona, Trump up just by 3 in Florida, Biden up by 25 in Michigan.


This is why it is so hard for the president. Don't count him out. He proved in 2016 he can defy political gravity. His problems are so many, it is hard to fix them all at once.

HABERMAN: I don't know the president can defy political gravity the second time. If the president were to win, it would be because events intervened in some way or another and changed the climate. You know, I don't think there is evidence that the president can actually change, we have never seen that.

Those Arizona numbers in particular are really ugly for the president. Indicative of how the other day he said something, the country is in great shape if you don't look at the South and the West. Well, that's half the country.

So, yes, while he's having this new tone, he's still providing false information and that's one thing that hurt him repeatedly with voters. His campaign privately pretty bearish about Michigan, they recognized they're not going to hold there. Privately, they still think they can do okay in Florida. That's likely to be close. Unless, there is a huge blowout everywhere. But Arizona was a key piece of his map before and if he doesn't change

the numbers, he's got a problem.

KING: To your point, Maggie, the question is the president thinks using tweets and using his words, he can change reality. But this one is so personal. The coronavirus is so personal for people because it is their life, their safety, their jobs, their kids and their school.

If you look at the polling in Arizona, nearly six in ten think the worst is yet to come. In Florida, 64 percent think the worse is yet to come. In Michigan, which, remember, was an early crisis point, only 41 percent.

But still, in these two big states, Toluse, 64 percent of Florida, 50 percent of Michigan, when the president is saying it is better, it is better, it is better, people just don't buy it, because guess what, the truth is in their state, in particular, it's not.

OLORUNNIPA: Yeah, for quite a while in May and in June the president tried to sell people on the idea that this is behind us, that we were moving on, we were transitioning to greatness, and it was clear that the virus was spreading at an exponential rate in a lot of these states. And people see what is happening on the ground, they see their hospitals being filled up, they see their mayors and governors crying to help -- crying for help from the federal government and they realize the president's spin is not actually fixing anything.

So a lot of people close to the president have advised him to take a more somber tone, focus more on the fact that people are dying and that the federal government needs to be seen as taking a proactive stance and I think that's what we saw in part, the results this past week with president retaking this position and the White House daily briefings and trying to show that he is in command of this.

But it's clear, Maggie said, he often will do something for a week and then lose interest. And we've already seen him lose interest in the coronavirus in the past and it will be hard for him to continue to focus on this when we see it, people dying, tens of thousands of infection and no sign that his actions are actually making a difference.

KING: Well, we'll see in the week ahead if what we saw this past week continues and we're counting down now from 100 days, today an important Sunday.

Maggie, Toluse, appreciate you both joining us on this important day.

And up next for us, the coronavirus summer surge strains hospitals and disrupts back to school plans. As we go to break, the nation this weekend beginning a long farewell to the civil rights icon John Lewis, including a procession later today across that historic bridge, the Edmund Pettus Bridge.


ROSA MAE TYNER, SISTER OF REP. JOHN LEWIS: He lived with the never- ending desire to help others. He often told us if you see something wrong, do something. His actions showed us just that.

SAMUEL LEWIS, BROTHER OF REP. JOHN LEWIS: I remember the day when John left home. Mother told him not to get in trouble. Not to get in the way and be particular. We all know that John got in trouble, got in the way, but it was good trouble.





KING: The number is numbing enough, the United States coronavirus case count hit 4 million this past week. And how we got there, well, that only adds to the weight of this. Let's look at the latest numbers.

If you look at the 50 state map, this is a better map than it was last Sunday. Still not a great map, but a better map. Twenty-three states heading in the wrong direction, meaning more cases reported this week when you compare it to last week's total. Twenty-three states going up, 20 states holding steady. That's the yellow or beige.

You see here, the Southeast, mostly holding steady. Seven states going down, importantly, including at the moment Texas and Arizona. More numbers in a minute. Texas and Arizona go down on the map today. The question is can they sustain that in the week ahead. California holding steady. Florida holding steady.

You think about the big drivers of the summer surge, that is encouraging at the moment anyway. We'll see if it holds up.

Let's look at the curve of new cases and this is why this gets so depressing. The summer surge right here. If you go back to April and into May, drove it down, Memorial Day from May 1st, 34,000 new cases. By Memorial Day, just shy of 19,000 new cases, pushing the curve down.

Then, the summer surge or spike, call it what you will, by July 4th, 45,000. This last week 73,000 plus on Friday. Heading in the wrong direction, are we plateauing? That's the challenge for the days and the week ahead.

How we got to 4 million is stunning, if you will. April 1st -- April 28th, I mean is when we hit 1 million, right? Then it took six weeks to get to 2 million. Then it took a month to get to 3 million and 15 days, to go from 3 to 4. So, the numbers growing at a pace that is alarming.


Now, let's look at these right now. New York was the leader for a long time. California and Florida have now passed New York in terms of the number of cases, Texas closing in, likely to do so if not in the next week, in the next week or two. As you see, that goes up. If you listen to Dr. Deborah Birx, she sees evidence that a plateau is coming, especially in the states that have been driving the summer surge. Let's see. The numbers lead you up and down. Look at Florida, little rollercoaster here, the question is, is this going back up again or will it flatten out in the week ahead?

Florida was coming down. Couple of bad days at the end of the week, let's watch it as we go forward. California, again, some evidence of leveling off, especially in the last couple of days, the challenge is does it continue into the next week?

Sometimes you come out of a weekend you get testing results and the count goes back up. There is some level -- some evidence California is leveling off, but at a high baseline and that can be a problem. Texas and Arizona, again, both on a bit of a roller coaster in recent days. If you look at both states.

Texas, it has come down a little bit. Still looking at a baseline of 10,000 cases. The question is you see the uptick, what happens in the week ahead if you get this under control. Arizona appeared to be coming down on the seven-day average, it is still coming down now. But two weekend spikes there, the question is that a blip or does that carry over to the next week?

No matter who you look at it, even if you get into a plateau in these states, as I said, you're at a high baseline, which is why Dr. Anthony Fauci says, governor, governor, governor, pay attention.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You don't necessarily have to go all the way back to a complete shutdown. But you certainly have to call a pause and maybe even a backing up a bit. What my advice would be, time-out, and maybe go back too a prior checkpoint and from that point try to proceed in a very measured, prudent way according to the guidelines.


KING: With us again this Sunday to share their expertise, Dr. Ashish Jha, he's director of Harvard's Global Health Institute, Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room doctor and researcher at Brown University.

Thank you both again for coming in on a Sunday.

Dr. Ranney, I'll start with you, because of what we just heard from Dr. Fauci there. He says pause, take a step back. You're among the doctors who signed on to a letter this past week, about 150 doctors and public health professionals saying shut it down, start it over, do it right, dear decision-makers, hit the reset button.

Dr. Fauci says pause, you say reset button, anything in the numbers that convinces you or at least getting to a plateau and what do you mean by reset? Go all the way back?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, LIFESPAN/BROWN UNIVERSITY: So, John, you pointed out that the number of states across the country have hit that yellow or plateau. But that plateau is still at a tremendously high level. That is not an acceptable level of infections, hospitalizations or deaths for Arizona, Florida and other states that have now quote unquote stabilized, right?

What I'm talking about is a set the reset button is pretty similar to Dr. Fauci's pause. It is let's do a smart shutdown, restrict bars, let's stop going out into crowded public spaces, and let's do that until we have the public health infrastructure that we have been talking about that we need.

The testing, the protective equipment, the contact tracing, the things that we need to get not just from yellow, but back to green where the economy can safely reopen, and where people can go out and get their kids back to school, and do the things that they want to do without being worried that they and their loved ones are going to catch this infection and potentially end up in the hospital or dead.

KING: And so, Dr. Jha, to that point, it is -- forgive me, Dr. Ranney, it is unlikely a lot of doctors will agree with you in the short-term, we will see. We will see what happens as it plays out. But they have made their decisions and now they're trying to do triage, as supposed to step all the way back and go into the beginning.

But Dr. Jha, help explain to people what it means, what it took 99 days to get to 1 million cases. It took just 28 days to get to 3 million cases. It took just 28 days to get to 3 million cases and it took just 15 days to go from 3 million to 4 million.

What does that tell you about the patient, if you will?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yeah, John, thank you for having me on. What that tells you is this is exponential growth. This is how the disease spreads. And this is what happens when you don't put in the control measures that we need to put in to keep the virus under control in large parts of the country.

So the question is when will we hit 5 million or 6 million? All of us hope we stretch out that time period, there is no reason we need to be hitting these benchmarks as quickly as we are. It will really depend on us, depend on the kinds of policies that Dr. Ranney was talking about, keeping bars closed, really limiting indoor gatherings and I know -- I've been saying this and I sound like a broken record, we have got to fix testing in America. We still don't have a testing infrastructure that our country needs and our people deserve.

KING: And yet, and yet, and, again, this decision will be made by mayors and local school superintendents and the like, you had again from the CDC and from the president of the United States and you can hear the president here talking this week about, you know what, the best place for a child is in a classroom.


TRUMP: A lot of people are saying they don't transmit, they don't catch it easily, they don't bring it home easily and if they do catch it, they get better fast.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: We know children under 18 are less sick. But there are some that suffer terrible consequences if they have underlying conditions. We certainly know from other studies that children under 10 do get infected. It is just unclear how rapidly they spread the virus.


KING: So I've chosen, Dr. Ranney, to listen to the doctors ahead of the politicians. Dr. Birx there who I think sometimes is trying to help the president politically, but right there saying, we just don't know. So what would you do, what would your decision be about schools?

RANNEY: So I am a parent of two school aged kids. I desperately want my kids to go back to school. I agree with the president that the best place for kids is back in school.

But that's with the condition that it is safe for them, and safe for the teachers and nurses and other staff at the schools. So in order to send kids become to school, we have to as Dr. Jha has said have adequate testing, we have to have adequate control of the virus. So we have to have a positivity rate of less than 5 percent in our communities.

And we have to be able to put all those measures in place in schools, like masking and ventilation and separating kids out, in order to not transmit it between kids and teachers or between teachers and teachers. When the spread gets too high in a community, when we prioritize opening bars and shops over opening schools, we are going to have to make the choice to not send kids back to school in order to protect them, their families and the families of the people that work at those schools.

So we have a choice to make, which do we care about more?

KING: So, Dr. Jha, to that point, wrap the conversation, what is the single biggest thing the president or Washington could do right now, right now, to change the direction?

JHA: Yeah, if the president really wanted kids back in school this fall, we would have a national strategy to bring the levels of virus down across the country. That probably means pulling things way back in the hot spots, and then helping the other parts of the country beef up their school systems in terms of the things Dr. Ranney talked about, ventilations, masks, cetera.

I really do think we can do this, but this is not going to come from just saying we want to do it. There is a lot of hard work ahead and we have to do that if we want to let our kids get back to school this fall.

KING: That would be -- would be a change, I'll leave it at that. Not to editorialize too much on this Sunday.

Dr. Jha, Dr. Ranney, appreciate your insights, as always. Up next, behind us by Memorial Day was the president's predictions. So, why were so many signs of coronavirus trouble ignored?



KING: I thought we would have some sound from the President there, but the President five months ago today made one of the many early statements to prove he just wasn't doing his coronavirus homework. We all lived the pain of March and April, PPE shortages, a testing mess, more.

And then there was this.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look at the trends today that I think by Memorial Day weekend we will largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us.


KING: No, Memorial Day in fact was the gateway to the summer surge. Just shy of 19,000 new cases a day back then, little under 50,000 by the fourth of July, and in recent days we've set some records in the ballpark of 70,000 new cases including higher than that.

Why things got so bad is a very good question. Especially given the lessons of March and April. And especially because Team Trump saw it coming. And says it passed the warning signs on to governors and mayors.

Our next guest wrote about this in late May. "Waiting for a rise in hospitalizations or deaths is too late. By the time these lagging indicators rise, the outbreak is well under way."

Dr. Leana Wen is the former health commissioner for the city Baltimore, with us this Sunday.

Dr. Wen, you did see this coming if they didn't do things. I'm not looking to beat people up here but I'm trying to figure out what went wrong. If you to listen to Dr. Birx the other day, she says we meet all the time, we watch the positivity rates. If it goes from 3 percent to 3.5 percent, that's your first warning. We pick up the phone, we call the mayors, we call the governors.

Well, we can put Arizona on the screen for you just as one state example. And if they have this data, and you watch this, the highlighted dates there on Monday, she says every Monday a governor gets a report. You see May, you see June 1st, then you see two weeks later on June 15th we've gone from 6.5 to 14 percent. Then you see at one point, June 29th we're about 40 percent positivity in Arizona.

If they have the data, and they have these reports, and they're giving it to the governors and the public officials, why isn't anything being done? Is it a communication breakdown? Is it an action breakdown?

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER HEALTH COMMISSIONER FOR BALTIMORE: I mean I think that there are a lot of problems here, John. So you look at the very beginning of this outbreak back in February, March -- there were a lot failures when it comes to not having at that point a national testing strategy.

Maybe it is understandable at the very beginning, but I can't believe that it is July and we still are coming into a situation where tests are taking 10 to 14 days to come back where back in March and April, we were running out of PPE and our frontline workers didn't have masks and gowns and other supplies.

It was a national disgrace then, but we are facing those same issues now and then coming into flu season in the fall, it is only going to get worse.


DR. WEN: So I think that the breakdown is, number one, we don't have clear consistent messaging. The Trump administration has tried to paint a rosy picture when actually what they should be doing is just telling the truth and presenting the data.

We also do not have consistent national leadership and a national strategy by now.

And then I think the third point is lack of data. What we need is real time data and that's presented not only to the mayors and governors, but to everyone. Why keep it a secret? We need to have the information at our fingertips or otherwise we're flying blind while we're trying to navigate this very complicated situation.

KING: One other problem back then is even if they were passing this information on to the governors, the White House because of the President's actions abandoned their own reopening guidelines. They had set pretty clear guidelines actually for states and then states blew through them and the White House said nothing about it.

In the here and now, Dr. Birx says she's going to be traveling this week to several cities where she is seeing warning signs to meet with local officials. There are a list of 12 cities where she says COVID-19 cases are showing warning signs. They include Miami, New Orleans, Vegas, San Jose, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Cleveland and they include the city where you are right now and where you were once the health commissioner, Baltimore.

This is great. If they have this data and they're going to meet with local officials and they're going to have a plan of action to try to slow the spread, stop the spread, flatten the curve -- it's great.

But listen to the current Baltimore health commissioner.


DR. LETITIA DZIRASA, BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: On the ground we have seen an increase in our number of cases. When we look at the week of July 12th and then about a week later on July 19th we did see some increase in that number of cases. But we weren't aware that we were on this list created by Dr. Birx.


KING: "We were not aware that we're on this list created by Dr. Birx."

Help me. Help me. Forget Democrat/Republican. Forget a hundred days to an election. We're in the middle of a pandemic. The White House says it has this important data, Baltimore is on its list and Baltimore is not told?

DR. WEN: Yes, why is this a big secret, John? I mean really, what we need to have is everyday we need to have a presentation by our federal officials, by the CDC, about what is happening? What is the state of the outbreak? What are the areas that are of the most concern? We need to see this real time dashboard ideally of metrics like what is the test positivity rate. How many tests are coming back? What percentage of tests are coming back within 48 hours? Because over 48 hours, the tests are essentially worthless.

How many cases? What percentage of cases are actually being traced so we know whether contact tracing is sufficient? We need to -- we need to have those data at our fingertips so that we can make decisions.

As parents are deciding, as schools' administrators are deciding about schools reopening, we also need to have those types of data available too. So it shouldn't be a -- it shouldn't be revealed over the national news to local officials that they are -- that their city is of concern. But it also should not be a big secret that is kept away from the American people either.

KING: It is hard to coordinate your actions if you can't coordinate your communications.

Dr. Wen, as always, grateful for your insights. Reading that thing you wrote, the op-ed you wrote at the end of May was just another reminder. We have gone through a lot of yellow lights here.

Dr. Wen, thank you so much. Appreciate your insights.

Up next, 100 days to the election. But guess what, in most states the voting really starts a lot sooner.



KING: Four weeks to go this week, 100 days to the 2016 election, there was this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had one of the great temperaments, I have a winning temperament. Honestly she lies a lot and she really -- she should tell the truth. I honestly believe if she told the truth, because she made some reference to my campaigning, I've had a beautiful -- I've had a flawless campaign. You'll be writing books about this campaign.



GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Maybe run for something again?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I don't plan on that, George. But, you know, I've learned a long time ago, you don't say anything for absolute certainty.


KING: That's pretty remarkable to look at. Donald Trump was the brash challenger back then. He's an embattled incumbent now.

Facing a former Vice President who back then thought Hillary Clinton would win and that his dream of being president was over.

Democrat Joe Biden now enters the final 100 days of the 2020 race as the clear favorite but with some giant tests just ahead, including picking his running mate, and critically, proving Democrats are properly organized for an election that will have unprecedented early and mail-in voting because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Let's discuss with David Axelrod. Obviously he was the lead strategist for two Obama presidential victories, now the host of "THE AXE FILES" here on CNN.

And David, I want to start with that. You know, Joe Biden is going to have his convention virtual. Joe Biden has a very big decision about his running mate.

My big question for you, in this campaign like no other -- we have done many, none like this because of the pandemic -- are the Democrats, because we know the Trump campaign has money, we know they have a pretty good data operation, are the Democrats properly organized for this?

We can show you a map. Yes, we will count the votes a hundred days from today, but the voting actually starts in six weeks. A lot of the states, the darker the state on the map there, the earlier the voting starts.

So you see Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Carolina -- some pretty big battleground states where the voting gets under way in just several weeks. Are they organized?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN HOST: Look, I think that's a big -- that is a big point that every campaign needs to understand and everyone who is watching needs to understand. The election begins in 55 days, not a hundred days. And this year, I think the vast majority of votes may be cast before Election Day. One of the questions, John, is how many weeks after Election Day will we be counting ballots. You may be standing at that big board for a very long time.

But, you know, I think that Jen O'Malley Dillon, who's running the Biden campaign is a preacher (ph) of (INAUDIBLE) and she I think has been focused from the moment she got there on this challenge, which is how do you prepare for an election like this where many people are going to vote early, are going to vote by mail? And how do you adjust the calendar which starts very early?


AXELROD: I actually think, organizationally it is a challenge for the Biden campaign, but politically it is a challenge for Trump that voting starts early because he's in a big hole right now. And he's got to dig out of it and people are going to start voting sooner than he'd probably like.

KING: Right. Another Democratic strategist, someone you know well, Doug Sosnik, who worked in the Clinton White House --



KING: -- wrote a memo this past week in which he put it this way. He said, "Like Austin Powers, Trump hasn't been able to fully grasp how much the world around him has changed. He still thinks his path to victory in 2020 is to double down on the 2016 version of himself. By the time Trump launches his October surprise the majority of the country will have already voted."

That's from Doug Sosnik.

The last point there, his point is that by the time these two candidates debate, you know, a third of the country might have already voted, or at least a decent amount of the voters might have already voted.

But to his point about Trump trying to run -- rerun 2016, you do see that, the law and order message now aimed at the suburbs.

AXELROD: Absolutely. Yes.

KING: Can an -- how different is it that -- put away your partisan hat for a minute. Donald Trump is the incumbent. You ran the Obama 2012 re-election campaign. How different is a re-elect from a challenger campaign?

AXELROD: Well, it's very different because you are the incumbent and the race is very much about you. And the virus has made it even more about Trump.

And, you know, Trump was a vote for change in 2016. And overwhelmingly won people who wanted change. He also overwhelmingly won voters who didn't like either candidate.

This time Biden is leading overwhelmingly among voters who give each candidate a negative rating. That's a big challenge for Trump because his whole strategy is to take Biden down and make him unacceptable. But if voters find both of them unacceptable, they're going to default to Biden this time and not Trump.

So there are a lot of challenges for him as an incumbent. The biggest one, John, is that he may want to dictate what this election is about, but nature is dictating what this election is about. This election is about the coronavirus and in every bit of polling you see, his ratings are miserable on that issue, and it is very much connected to his vote and his overall job rating. And that's a problem for Trump because it is not likely to change much between now and November.

KING: Right. Our new numbers today in Arizona, Florida and Michigan back your point up exactly. He's so underwater on the coronavirus it's dragging him down.

So let's just look at a hundred days out and compare past elections. A hundred days out last time was Hillary Clinton's high water mark. In the CNN poll of polls, she was up 10 points. That would be her best performance. Obviously she went on to win the popular vote, you see there plus 2 but lose the election. Obama was up 5, it was about the same on election day. Obama in 2008 was up 5, he built a little bit.

Back in 2004, it was John Kerry who was up, a small swing there in favor of the incumbent, George W. Bush. And in 2000, you saw a huge swing, George Bush won the election, Al Gore won the popular vote.

Again, you see the different challenge here is if you're the incumbent, how do you -- is it easier or harder to move the numbers?

AXELROD: You know, I think it is harder because people know you. And so -- and his task right now, Trump's task right now again is to try and make Biden an unacceptable alternative to him.

Voters have made a judgment about Donald Trump and many of them want to fire Trump. The only question is will they hire Joe Biden. Right now the answer is yes. If you were to vote today, the answer would be yes.

The question for Trump is can he change their thinking on that between now and November? He's trying to do it particularly in the suburbs with this law and order message, but that may be driving some voters away from him who feel like he's enflaming rather than calming a nation that feels like it is out of control.

So I think there are a lot of challenges for Trump. I would not rest easily if I were Biden. There is time left. We already have seen in the last four months that the unforeseen can overtake a campaign.

And you're up against an opponent in Donald Trump who is willing to do or say anything to win. He's proven that. And that is asymmetric warfare. So, you know, there are challenges. You have the VP pick. Three debates -- those debates are going to be watched closely. Trump has lowered the bar for Biden in those debates by attacking his mental acuity. I think Biden can easily clear that bar.

But nonetheless, there is risk in that. So there are a lot of uncertainties ahead, but right now you certainly would rather be Joe Biden than Donald Trump.

KING: 100 days out. David Axelrod, appreciate your expertise and insights. We'll continue the conversation.

And up next --

AXELROD: Good to see you, John.

KING: -- a Republican internal feud stalls debate on a big new stimulus package.



KING: Layoffs are spiking again and the timing is very important. The $600 weekly unemployment bonus Congress added to an early coronavirus relief package, well, it expires at the end of this week.

We were supposed to get details of a new Senate GOP stimulus plan last week but Republican infighting blew up that timetable. Now the majority leader Mitch McConnell says he hopes to roll out his plan this week with the hope then of reaching a final deal with the Democrats and with President Trump over the next several weeks.

Democrats want to extend those $600 payments through January. Republicans say we need to scale them back, some say significantly, but so far, the Republicans can't agree among themselves on big questions of how and by how much.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Disarray and their disarray is causing great, great damage to America's working families. This is an alarm that needs to be sounded as loudly as possible.


KING: Stimulus fight is a Washington debate but one with real-time impact on an already struggling American economy. Joining us now is Mark Zandi. He's chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

Mark, you write this week that you believe it is possible the United States economy could tip back into recession. What needs to be done and how quickly?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Yes, John, I do. I fear that we could go backwards here. Ever since we opened up businesses too quickly and now have seen the infections rise and governors have to pull back, the economy's gone sideways.

So I think unless Congress and the administration get it together pretty quickly here, provide a sizable package of support -- somewhere $1.5 trillion, $2 trillion -- I think the economy will go back into recession so they need to work very quickly to forestall that possibility.


KING: And if you look at some of the headlines just in recent days. "Washington Post": federal eviction moratorium expires this week. Bloomberg: More than half of U.S. business closures are permanent. "Wall Street Journal": Retail carnage deepens as pandemic's impact exceeds forecasts. CNN: The United CEO, we won't be anywhere close to normal until there's a vaccine.

Economic stories -- if you take them in medical terminology, but everywhere you look the patient is in the emergency room. How do you stabilize?

ZANDI: Yes. You you're right. I mean where I see it most significantly -- it's most significant for most people is in the job market. I mean we saw on Thursday another over two million people filed for unemployment insurance claims and that's -- we've been stuck there now for five, six weeks.

Two million is a lot of layoffs. I mean just for context, before we got into this pandemic and in a good economy we were getting a couple hundred thousands per week. So that gives you a sense of how stressed the labor market and the broader economy is.

So I do think we need a big support package and it needs to be well designed. And I do think key to that will be things like support to those unemployed workers because as you know they are now not going to get paid that extra bonus payment that they were getting. That's expired unless Congress and the administration do something.

And also need to give a lot of support to state and local governments who are hemorrhaging red ink and are slashing programs and payrolls and these are teachers, firemen, police, emergency responders, hospital workers -- people, you know, we need at any time but certainly most in a pandemic like the one we're in today.

KING: And so what is your best-case scenario for when the economy will not need this help, where you will not need the intervention, the treatment, if you will?

ZANDI: It won't be until after the pandemic is over so that means a vaccine, therapy that's effective, that's widely distributed and adopted. That's going to be key, getting people to adopt the vaccine. So between now and then, whenever that then is, I think the economy's going to struggle and it's going to be up to lawmakers to help out.

Here's the other thing, John. I mean this is the last window Congress and the administration are going to have to get it together until next year because we have a presidential election and nothing's going to happen after the -- they go away on the August recess. So they've got to do it now and do it soon, otherwise, we're going to have to wait until early next year and by then it's going to be too late, we'll be in recession.

KING: Or the worst (ph). Mark Zandi, as always, appreciate your insights. Thank you, sir.

ZANDI: Sure thing.

KING: That's it for this Sunday. Hope you can catch us weekdays, as well. We're here at 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Eastern.

Don't go anywhere. Up next, a very busy "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER". His guests include the White House coronavirus testing czar, Admiral Brett Giroir, the White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Democratic Congresswoman, potential Biden VP pick, Karen Bass.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday. Have a good day. We'll see you soon.