Return to Transcripts main page
Live Coverage Of Joe Biden Speech; Biden Highlights Bob Woodward Revelations; Trump Knew Coronavirus Was Airborne In February, Chose To Publicly Downplay. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired September 9, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And then sending those same foreign-made drugs back to American consumers, all while raising their prices on prescription drugs that union families and working people have to rely on. And in the process, by the way, he's trying to do away with all health care in America.
During a pandemic, we're seeing not only the inequity of this policy, but the enormous vulnerability that this creates for our own health security. And our security requires us to have supply chains of the necessary drugs based here, not overseas -- not overseas in times of crisis.
And what about Trump's commitment to buy American? Like the rest of President Trump's promise, it has nothing to do with reality. It's all a bunch of hot air. In fact, contracts awarded by U.S. governments to foreign companies using American tax dollars went up 30 percent since he's been president.
To do recap, one, Trump hasn't stopped companies from closing plants and sending jobs overseas. Two, he's rewarded companies that have cut jobs and failed to invest here at home, with billions of dollars in tax breaks. And three, he's awarding more and more federal contracts to foreign companies.
President Trump has broken just about every promise he's ever made to the American worker, and he's failed. He's failed our economy and our country.
But look, would you really expect anything different from this guy, from someone who called those of you and those who are serving in uniform, who have given their lives to the country, "losers" and "suckers"?
Let me tell you something. My son Beau was the assistant U.S. attorney, volunteered to go to Kosovo to help them set up a government in the middle of a war. I know I'm being proud here, but he's one of -- he's the only foreigner has a monument that they raised and built in service to him, thanking him for what he did.
My son also, then as attorney general, volunteered to go to Iraq for one year. He wasn't a loser or a sucker. No one who served this nation has been a loser or a sucker. They're all heroes. But would you expect anything different from someone who could stand next to a father of a fallen soldier and say -- at a cemetery and say, I don't get it, what was in it for them? What was in it for them?
Donald Trump doesn't understand what it means to serve something bigger than yourself. He doesn't understand duty, honor, country. He lives in a -- by a different code: lies, selfishness, greed. Yes, Donald Trump and I have a pretty different philosophy when it comes to giving our word.
Mine means something. When I tell the American people I'm going to do something, I follow through. Here in Michigan, you know that's true. When Barack and I took office back in 2009, the economy was crashing, we inherited an economy in freefall, and millions of Americans -- including so many right here in Michigan -- lost their jobs, their homes and their savings.
With the help of Debbie (ph) breaking her neck here, President Obama and I worked hard. He put me in charge of the Recovery Act. I spent a lot of time here in Michigan and Detroit, working with you and Senators Stabenow and thinking every single day about the folks on the factory line, busting their necks just trying to put food on the table.
A lot of folks were all ready to count Detroit out as well as the auto American industry, to count it out. But I knew what Debbie (ph) knew. I've known always. It's never a good bet to bet against the American worker. So when we promised to stand with the American auto industry, we delivered.
We didn't do it to help wealthy investors or pad bonus checks for CEOs, we did it to save an iconic American industry, a testament to the skills and ingenuity of American manufacturing and the jobs of hundreds of thousands of American workers, the lifeblood of communities all across the Midwest, and used to be in my state of Delaware as well.
When Detroit declared bankruptcy, I was right here working alongside the city leaders to get the lights turned back on, to revitalize the future of Detroit.
And while nearly 20,000 auto manufacturing jobs have been lost in Michigan under Trump, nearly 80,000 were created during the Obama- Biden administration. I've got a long history. I'm not just talking about what I'm going to do, but delivering results for Michiganders.
And now, we need to do it again. We need to do the hard work not only to recover, but to build the economy back for the future once more. That's why my Build Back Better agenda, that's what it's all about. It starts right here with you, in the union halls all across America.
Back in July, I made the first plank of my agenda a plan to modernize American manufacturing and technology, to ensure that the future is made in America by all of you. And today, I'm announcing some additional steps to make this plank even stronger. First, we're going to impose a tax penalty on companies that avoid
paying U.S. taxes by offshoring jobs and manufacturing, only to sell those goods back to the American consumer.
If your big corporate strategy is to boost your shareholders' profits, your CEOs' bonuses by moving jobs out? Well, we're going to make sure you not only pay full U.S. taxes on those profits, but we're going to guarantee, we're going to add a 10 percent offshoring penalty surtax to your bill.
No more deductions for writing off expenses for the cost of sending jobs overseas, which is a big deal. That could be done here at home by qualified American workers.
I'm not looking to punish American business, but there's a better way. Make it in Michigan, make it in America, invest in our communities and the workers in places like Warren. That's what this is about.
UAW workers, steelworkers, IBEW workers, you're the best craftsmen and women in the world and you're right here. If you're ready to make it in America, then just like there are consequences for offshoring, there will be rewards and incentives for creating good-paying jobs here at home.
Today, I'm announcing my new Made in America tax credit, a 10 percent advanceable tax credit for companies that invest in the United States and American workers to help accelerate the recovery under our Build Back Better agenda.
So if your company revitalizes a closed or closing facility here in the United States like the transmission plant that got closed last year, we'll take care of 10 percent of the investment that company makes to reopen it.
If you retool a manufacturing facility to make it more competitive for example by shifting to help build a new fleet of clean American vehicles made by UAW members, we'll make sure that's more than affordable for you. We're going to make sure you'll get a tax credit.
If you reshore jobs that have previously been sent overseas, expand your operations in the United States or increase wages for manufacturing jobs, we'll make it even smarter strategic decision for your company because we will make sure you get a tax credit.
You know, these two steps are on top of my plans to close each and every one of the Trump (ph) loopholes that have created -- he created in 2017 with his tax cut, to reward companies with big tax breaks for offshoring. That's going to end.
If you're going to want to build things here in the United States, because under our administration, the Biden-Harris administration, it's going to deliver on the promise to buy American. It's been the law for almost a century, but we've never lived up to it.
The idea is simple. Today, the U.S. government spends about $600 billions of taxpayers' money on federal contracts annually. And that money should go to support American jobs and American businesses. But President Trump has only ever treated it like it was a weak suggestion.
Agencies of the federal government can require -- can waive the requirements (INAUDIBLE) explanations that (ph) Trump doesn't bother to even kick back on. We're going to change that when I'm president.
In my first week, I'll sign a series of executive actions to make sure we enforce Buy American, and direct the full purchasing power of the federal government to fulfill its promise starting by closing those waiver loopholes immediately.
And I promise you, I'll use the full power of the Defense Production Act to enforce Buy American and tighten the rules for public infrastructure projects: roads, bridges, canals, airports.
And I'm going to crack down on companies that label products as Made in America even if they're coming from China or elsewhere.
You know, we found out that on Trump's watch, a company selling deployment bags to active duty troops being deployed, falsely claimed its product was made in America when in fact it was really made mostly in China. Trump didn't do anything to respond. I'm not going to let that happen on my watch.
We're going to have an office at the White House dedicated to making sure everyone is playing by the same Made in America rules.
And one more thing. When I say we're going to use the purchasing power of the federal government to reinvigorate domestic manufacturing, I mean it. And we're going to do that with the American automobile industry as well.
The United States Government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles. We're going to convert those government vehicles into electric vehicles, Made in America, sourced right here in the United States of America, with the government providing the demand and support to retool factories that are suggesting they're struggling to compete.
The United States automobile industry will set up, expanding the capacity in the United States, not China, to lead the world in clean energy vehicles. I can't wait to get us (INAUDIBLE) behind that all- electric Corvette that goes 210 miles an hour. You all think I'm kidding, I mean it.
Last year, that converted Corvette set a speed record of 210.2 miles per hour, electric vehicle. So don't tell me we don't still make the best cars right here in the United States of America. And trucks.
We're going to make it easy for American consumers to switch to electric vehicles. We're going to build them all the new infrastructure, we're going to build them highways, we're going to build a network of 500,000 charging stations across America, providing prevailing wage jobs for the IBEW and other craftsmen all across the country. And by offering rebates and incentives to swap older fuel- efficient vehicles for new, clean, American-made models, saving hundreds of millions of barrels of oil.
And together, this will mean -- listen to me, now -- 1 million new jobs in the American automobile industry, one million.
It's supply chain as well as associated infrastructure. We can do this, we can do this. We can revitalize our industrial base as the heart of the American middle class.
Think about the worker in Warren who, when the transmission plant closed, he told a reporter -- and I'm quoting him -- "Getting a good G.M. job 23 years ago for me was like winning the lottery," he said. "I was trying to start a family. I was able to buy a house. I went to Disney World, all that."
Think about that, a job that felt like winning a lottery because it opened the door to a life that you wanted for yourself. Because it gave you dignity, allowed you to provide for your family. Getting a good job in 2020 right here in America shouldn't be a lottery, it should be an expectation for everyone.
I don't accept the defeatist view that the forces of automation and globalization mean we can't keep good-paying union jobs here in America and create more of them. I don't buy for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past.
We have the most qualified workers in the world. American manufacturing is the old (ph) expression you heard your grandpop say, grandmother, was the arsenal of democracy in World War II. Well, guess what? It's going to be part of the engine of American prosperity now, in 2021. And we're going to make it happen with American grit, American determination and American union workers.
Look, folks, that's my promise to you. And keep in mind, you know, when back in the '30s, they set up a law relating to unions. It said that not -- you could have a union, it said the government should encourage unions to increase --
You're going to have the best, most friendly union president in the history of the United States of America when I'm in the White House.
I want to thank you all for all you do. Don't give up hope, don't give up hope. We can come back, we can come back stronger than we were before. I want to thank you all.
I carry with me -- I don't have it, I gave it to my staff, but I carry with me in my pocket, a -- do I have that around, anyone? Where's my staff? I gave it away -- anyway. I carry a schedule in my pocket that lists every single day, the number of troops lost in Afghanistan and Iraq, the number wounded.
This is my schedule. The back of the schedule, there's always a black box. You can't really see it, the press may be able to. It says, "Daily U.S. updates." Troops died in Iraq and Afghanistan, 6,922. Not over 6,000 -- 6,922 because every one of those women and men left behind an entire group of people who relied on them.
U.S. troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, 53,188. Not over 53,000. U.S. COVID-infected military -- excuse me, U.S. COVID infected in America, 6,344,700. U.S. COVID deaths, 189,506. Military COVID infected, 118,984. Military COVID deaths, 6,114.
Folks, every one of these lives matter, every one of these lives left somebody behind, grieving. We can't ever forget them -- ever, ever forget them.
I thank you all, God bless you and may God protect our troops. Thank you.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: All right, I want to bring in chief political correspondent Dana Bash and political correspondent Abby Phillip.
So he was there in Michigan, he's talking about the auto industry, he's talking about jobs. But very important was what he talked about at the very top, Dana and Abby, and that was what we now know the president said -- and it's on tape -- to Bob Woodward.
Dana, what did you think about how the vice president responded here?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the quote, "It was a life and death betrayal of the American people," is about as succinct as it gets. But I think as important was the way that the former vice president delivered it.
He was trying to channel the anger and frustration of Americans all across the country about the coronavirus, about the ripple effects from the coronavirus. All of those, you know, people who have died or have gotten sick, lost their jobs, parents who are home right now with their children, trying to navigate virtual learning instead of sending them where they should be, which is to school. And so the fact that he is connecting, it goes back to the kind of
candidate that they -- in the Biden campaign, and Biden himself feels gives him an upper hand in these times, which is the empathy factor and -- and leadership. I mean, he was also trying to say, I can be a leader that obviously this president, he doesn't believe is.
I mean, they believe in the Biden campaign -- I was texting with a source as he was speaking -- that that is one of the reasons that, unlike other quotes and stories about the president that have, you know, gotten people very up in arms here in Washington and in certain pockets of the country, that this is different because it is so relatable given how widespread the effects of this pandemic is.
KEILAR: And that, Abby, he made a point of basically talking about how good is your word and how good is a promise, right? It matters if someone has credibility, and he's saying that President Trump doesn't and he does.
And he also said that -- he basically said President Trump has cost many, many American lives. He said if he'd acted two weeks sooner, 54,000 people would have been saved in March and April.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And I think that you saw actually in the way that he ended -- we talked about how he started this, talking about the Woodward book.
But the way that he ended that speech, pulling that card out that he says he carries with him in his pocket, a card that lists all the Americans who are deployed currently from -- in foreign -- on foreign lands, American soldiers who are injured, who were wounded in action. And then also on that card, the number of Americans dead from the coronavirus, the exact number. And he said that he doesn't round up those numbers, round down those numbers. He says the exact number.
I think both of those things, those ideas -- American military deployed and wounded and killed in action, and also those dead form the coronavirus -- tie together these two devastating stories for President Trump over the past week: the "Atlantic" article about his disparagement of Americans who were killed in foreign wars or who were injured or who were captured, and then also this Bob Woodward book.
You know, the Biden campaign is -- wants this to be a referendum on Donald Trump, on all of the aspects of Donald Trump. The speech was supposed to be about the economy. It was about that, but it's about the whole picture. It's about his temperament, it's about his handling of the coronavirus crisis, and it's also about this issue of jobs, made in America.
You know, I think it could not have been -- this moment could not have been more tailor-made for the Biden message. It was clearly something that -- that was -- that last bit on the card, that wasn't in Biden's speech, that was something that he pulled out of his pocket. It was an easy thing for him to do in that moment, and that encapsulates how difficult these next couple of months are going to be for President Trump.
KEILAR: And, Abby and Dana, thank you so much to both of you. I really appreciate it.
I do want to reset this breaking news that we are following here, we have some stunning new details of President Trump admitting just how dangerous and deadly the coronavirus was all the way back in early February, even as he continued to downplay the virus publicly to the American people.
CNN obtained an early copy of author and legendary journalist Bob Woodward's new book about trump, which is titled, "Rage." And it reveals explosive new information on the president's handling of coronavirus. Plus, CNN has obtained audio recordings of interviews that Woodward did with Trump for the book, it's on tape.
CNN's special correspondent Jamie Gangel has read the book, she is here with us. Tell us what's in it, Jamie.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: There are so many revelations in this book. His inner circle is just scathing in their criticism of President Trump. But there's no question that the headline is about coronavirus. And what Woodward reports -- and we have the audiotapes, the president in his own words -- is that much earlier than we've ever known, the president really had an understanding, in striking detail, of how dangerous coronavirus was.
So the first audiotape I want to play for you is from Woodward-Trump interview on February 7th. This is very early on, when we're all thinking, oh, it's in China, it's not a problem. And you'll hear the president, in his own words, say it's airborne, it's highly contagious. Here's the tape.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST (via telephone): And so what was President Xi saying yesterday?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via telephone): Oh, we were talking mostly about the virus. And I think he's going to have it in good shape. But, you know, it's a very tricky situation. It's --
WOODWARD (via telephone): Indeed it is.
TRUMP (via telephone): -- it goes through air, Bob, that's always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch, you don't have to touch things, right? But the air, you just breathe the air, that's how it's passed. And so that's a very tricky one, that's a very delicate one.
It's also more deadly than your -- you know, your -- even your strenuous flus. You know, people don't realize, we lose 25,000, 30,000 people a year here, who would ever think that, right?
WOODWARD (via telephone): I know, it's much forgotten --
(CROSSTALK) TRUMP (via telephone): I mean, it's pretty amazing. And then I say --
WOODWARD (via telephone): What are you able to do for --
TRUMP (via telephone): -- well, is that the same thing? This is more deadly. This is five per -- you know, this is five percent versus one percent and less than one percent. You know? So this is deadly stuff.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GANGEL: Deadly stuff, and let's just remember, this is from a president who to this day mocks wearing a mask. But he knew on February 7th that it was airborne.
The second part of the Woodward interviews that we're going to play is from March 19th, and there are two critical parts. First, we know the president has repeatedly downplayed how dangerous this is for children and young people. Even on August 5th, I think he said something like, young children are immune. So the first part is, he's acknowledging, in fact, that he knows that young people are at risk.
And in the second part, he admits that he is downplaying how dangerous the virus is. Here's the tape.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP (via telephone): Now it's turning out it's not just old people, Bob, but just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It's not just old -- older --
WOODWARD (via telephone): Yes, exactly.
TRUMP (via telephone): -- young people too, plenty of young people, we're looking at what's going on and (ph) --
WOODWARD (via telephone): So give me a moment of talking to somebody, going through this with Fauci or somebody who kind of -- it caused a pivot in your mind. Because it's clear, just from what's on the public record, that you went through a pivot on this to, oh my God, the gravity is almost inexplicable and unexplainable.
TRUMP (via telephone): Well, I think Bob, really, to be honest with you --
WOODWARD (via telephone): Sure, I want you to.
TRUMP (via telephone): -- I wanted to -- I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down -- WOODWARD (via telephone): Yes?
TRUMP (via telephone): -- because I don't want to create a panic.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GANGEL: Yes, this wasn't just about panic. In the book, Bob Woodward asks President Trump what he sees his most important role as president. And he says to Woodward, keeping the country safe and prosperous.
TEXT: Trump to Woodward on the job of the president: "But really the job of a president is to keep our country safe, to keep it prosperous. OK? Prosperous is a big thing."
GANGEL: If he was keeping the country safe, he would have shared this with the American public.
Now, you have to just keep in mind, the American public dealt with 9/11, the American public dealt with Pearl Harbor. You have to wonder whether the prosperous part, whether he was more concerned about the economy and getting re-elected.
And just in stark contrast -- I think it's very important -- at the same time he's saying that to Woodward, I want to remind everyone again what he's telling the public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And again, when you have 15 people and the 15, within a couple of days, is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.
It's going to disappear. One day it's like a miracle, it will disappear. And from our shores, we've -- you know, it could get worse before it gets better, it could maybe go away. We'll see what happens.
Stay calm. It will go away, you know it is going away and it will go away, and we're going to have a great victory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GANGEL: Brianna, the book paints a devastating picture of a betrayal of trust and a failure of leadership in Woodward's words. And you just have to wonder when you read it, if President Trump instead, in early February, had been decisive, had shut the country down, said, you know, wash hands, social distance, wear a mask, how many tens of thousands of lives might have been saved? -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes. Jamie, thank you so much for your excellent reporting today --
KEILAR: -- Jamie Gangel. I want to bring in Dr. Jonathan Reiner, he's a CNN medical analyst and
a professor of medicine at George Washington University. Dr. Reiner, you heard now what the president was saying publicly, and what he was saying privately. What is your reaction to all of this?
JONATHAN REINER, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, it's stunning. You know, many of us have wondered since the beginning how much of our catastrophic pandemic response was incompetence and how much was malfeasance. And now we know.
Now we know that basically from the end of January, the president knew this was a deadly virus. Yet we didn't immediately ramp up testing, we didn't lay down PPE reserves. And time and time again, the president told the public this was nothing, it was going to go away. He called it the flu. He said you get -- there are a lot of names for this, some people call it the flu.
You know, if there's a tornado coming towards town and you tell the people in that town that it's just a little bit of wind, people are going to die. So there was a tornado heading towards the United States at the end of January, and the president told us it was all just going to blow away.
So if you wonder why our response has been so poor, it's that the president of the United States had an irreconcilable conflict.