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Trump On The Pandemic: "We Are Rounding The Turn"; Trump Repeatedly Downplayed Coronavirus Threat Publicly; As Millions Struggle, Stimulus Deal In Congress Seems Unlikely; Interview With Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA); New Polling Shows Biden Leading In Wisconsin, Minnesota; New Coronavirus Hot Spots: College Towns. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired September 13, 2020 - 08:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): A sober warning about when life will return to normal.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's going to be well into 2021, maybe even towards the end of 2021.

BASH: As shocking recordings reveal the president knew this in early February.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.

BASH: And now says this.

TRUMP: I didn't lie. We have to be calm. I don't want to jump up and down and start screaming death, death.

BASH: His Democratic challenger says it was more than a lack of leadership.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It's a life and death betrayal of the American people.

BASH: And new polling in battleground states show advantage Biden. But there are still voters up for grabs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to vote for somebody other than Donald Trump, but I don't want to vote for Biden.


BASH: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Dana Bash.

John King is off this weekend.

And to our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday.

As the U.S. approaches 200,000 coronavirus deaths, President Trump held a rally in an airplane hangar in Nevada last night, where he boasted about the size of his packed crowd, and said this about the trajectory of the virus.


TRUMP: Now, having a vaccine is good, but we're rounding the turn regardless. We're rounding the turn. And it is happening. It is happening. You see. Florida's way down. Texas is now way down. Arizona, the governor has done a great job.


BASH: But an influential pandemic modeler predicts U.S. deaths doubling by the end of this year.


DR. CHRIS MURRAY, IHME DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: People think that because the case numbers are sort of going down in the last three, four weeks, deaths are sort of being pretty flat, that the epidemic is over, it is certainly not. And when we look ahead into the winter, with seasonality kicking in, people becoming clearly less vigilant and we look we're going to have a very deadly December ahead of us in terms of the toll of coronavirus.


BASH: This comes days after recordings of Trump's conversations with journalist Bob Woodward reveal that he knew way early, in February, how transmittable and deadly coronavirus is.


TRUMP: The air, you just breathe the air and 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. This is deadly stuff.


BASH: That directly contradicted things the president said publicly about the virus in the days and weeks after those comments to Bob Woodward.


TRUMP: On theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.

You do certain things that you do when you have the flu. I mean, view this the same as the flu.

I think the one thing nobody really knew about this virus was how contagious it was. It's so incredibly contagious.


BASH: So let's put this in perspective, a study by Columbia University says that acting one week earlier would have prevented at least 36,000 deaths. And two weeks earlier would have prevented over 80 percent of the deaths and cases in America.

So with us today to discuss this, and much more, their expertise is Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, and Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician and researcher at Brown.

Thank you, both, so much for joining me this morning.

I want to start by looking to last night and the president's rally that he had. Not only what he was saying about the fact that he wants to believe or wants people there and around the country to believe that we're turning the corner on coronavirus, but what he did. Looking at the pictures, the packed crowds which he was very, very proud of, actually angry at a reporter for not saying how big the crowds were and downplaying it.

So given that versus the reality of what you both are seeing as scientists, how -- how do you process that? I'll start with you, Dr. Jha.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Good morning and thank you for having me on.

Where do we begin? Two points I think are probably worth making. One is, we're not rounding the corner. Dr. Fauci made that point on Friday. And we are, you know, probably about as many days ahead of us as there are behind us. I think we have a long way to go before this pandemic is over. And rallies like the one last night, unfortunately, just fuel more infections, especially when you look in that crowd and saw very few masks, little to no social distancing.


It really is disturbing. And unfortunately, it's happening to his own supporters. And it's mostly to me baffling why the president does this.

BASH: Yeah, and Dr. Ranney, one of the things that struck me about what the president said last night is that they had to move venues because Nevada officials didn't want him to have that kind of rally. He said, we're going to call it a protest, which I think actually resonates with people who are also seeing protests out there, you know.

Yes, they're outside, the protests I've seen recently, the majority have worn masks, but, still, that's resonating I think with some people, particularly those he's trying to reach. How do you square the reality that he's trying to create and the reality of this virus which can't be swayed as we have seen for the last six month? DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, LIFESPAN/BROWN UNIVERSITY: Yeah, it seems -- early on I thought maybe he was incompetent. Now I think maybe he just doesn't care. The way he talks about COVID-19 does not match any facet of the reality that we as healthcare workers have been living for the last six months, nor the reality that we as public health professionals and scientists have been battling against. As Dr. Jha mentioned, our death rates, our case rates are also the same now as they were the beginning of the summer. To claim that we're turning the corner makes absolutely no sense.

And what he continues to say about bringing people together, closely, goes against every shred of scientific evidence that we have, which is that the most important thing in combating this virus right now is maintaining distancing, universal masking, and not bringing large crowds together from various areas. Not mixing people who aren't normally together. It just flies in the face of what we're all seeing and saying and publishing, and it's really as Dr. Jha said, it is baffling.

BASH: Let's talk about where we are right now with a confirmed cases in the United States. We have the case curve that we show. I know you look at this every single day, it does show for the most part, obviously, there are days where it spikes. For the most part, it has been going down.

Dr. Jha, what does this tell you, particularly as you keep in mind what Dr. Fauci is warning at the end of this week, which is that Americans will likely not be able to get back to normal until late in 2021.

So, at least this time next year if not later.

JHA: Yeah, in terms of the case count, it is -- we're at about twice the level we were on Memorial Day. And schools are opening up, colleges are opening up. Most of us expect that the case numbers start going back up again, we're down from the summer surge, which is good and thankful. But we still have 40,000 to 50,000 people getting affected every day. A thousand Americans dying every day.

And, you know, we're going to be spending more time in door, especially in the northern half of the country, when it starts getting colder. So, we have a long way to go on this. And we've got to -- we've got both hunker down, but we've also got to be smart about making sure that we keep the cases under control.

BASH: You mentioned indoors. Dr. Ranney, the CDC came out with a report this past week talking about the riskiest behaviors and now that we are -- have been living with coronavirus for six months, this should not be a big news flash to us.

But nonetheless, it said adults who test positive are twice as likely to have dined in a restaurant indoors.

So, what does that tell us about where we're going with the weather changing, and how things might change if people continue that kind of behavior. RANNEY: Yeah, so that CDC report is one of many critical publications

that the CDC has put out over the last six months, showing both how this virus is transmitted, and how we prevent people from getting it. So, that report showed that people who go to restaurants, where they're eating unmasked, indoors, are more likely to catch COVID than people that don't go to restaurants.

There have been other studies that show, however, published by the CDC, that if you're indoors, and you're masked, for example, if you're in a hair salon, you can avoid catching COVID. And this matters because it is the little bits of evidence that put together, help to guide us as to what we should do.

So, what do I take away from the study? It's that if you can possibly avoid it, don't go indoors to restaurants, and try to avoid being unmasked when you're in an indoor area. It is why Dr. Jha and I and many others said for schools to reopen, it's essential for everybody to be masked.

But it also, again, increases our concern about the winter months, when people are more likely to be spending time indoors.


And I know we're all getting quarantine fatigue, we want to see our friends, we want life to get back to normal, but we also need to protect ourselves and our families and our communities. So we do still need to avoid those indoor unmasked locations.

BASH: So well said. It is understandably hard to wear a mask while you eat at a restaurant indoors, which is why I hear you recommending not doing that and maybe choosing other ways to see friends when you're dining or maybe not dining, just hanging out.

Dr. Jha, Dr. Ranney, thank you so much for your time this morning. Appreciate it.

And up next, 51 days until Election Day and the president spent the entire week once again playing defense. Two intrepid reporters open up their notebooks and tell us what's going on inside the campaigns.

Stay with us.



BASH: This past week's explosive new evidence that the president knew how deadly the coronavirus was in early February but decided to play it down has him playing defense now.


TRUMP: They wanted me to come out and scream, people are dying, we're dying.

No. No. We did it just the right way. We have to be calm.

America will prevail over the China virus. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. As the British government advised the British people in the face of World War II, keep calm and carry on. That's what I did.


BASH: And as far-fetched comparisons to FDR and Churchill drew derision from Democrats, his opponent said this.


BIDEN: It was all about making sure the stock market didn't come down, that his wealthy friends didn't lose any money and that he could say in fact anything that happened had nothing to do with him.

He waved the white flag. He walked away, he didn't did a damn thing. Think about it. Think about what he didn't do and it's almost criminal.


BASH: And there's even more news about the administration counseling information about the coronavirus, which was revealed late last week. Yesterday, in fact, the public health -- a public health official told CNN that Trump appointed communications officials at the Department of Health and Human Services push to change language in a weekly CDC report about the pandemic so that it wouldn't undermine President Trump's political message.

Chief HHS spokesman Michael Caputo defended the move saying, quote: Our intention is to make sure that evidence, science-based data drives policy through this pandemic, not ulterior deep state motives in the bowels of the CDC.

Well, joining me to discuss this, the best in the business, "New York Times" White House correspondent Maggie Haberman, and national editor of "The Cook Political Report", Amy Walter.

Maggie, let me start with you.

We both know Michael Caputo. It is kind of, I think, classic that he's not denying that they are changing this very long-standing weekly CDC report. What he's doing is sending a signal, we're trying to prevent the deep state from taking over. But what scientists are saying that he's doing, scientists who say that no administration has ever done this before is that they're trying to -- maybe the science comply with the reality that the president talked about in rallies like -- rallies like last night, forgive me.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Dana, this has been a constant for six months now, a little over six months as we have been seeing response from the administration to this pandemic. There has been a huge concern that whenever this administration has had the opportunity, that they have tried to massage the messaging, they have treated messaging as the most important thing as opposed to the actual science.

And certainly you can see that mess annual come message comes from the top, look at what the president said at his rally, that, you know, you handle this the right way, the message should have been the same as during -- during World War II, which is those leaders were telling the public the threat they were facing and then saying to deal with it.

This is very different than just, you know, massaging a message. This is trying to suppress scientific data and, again, as we heard from the tapes of the president with Bob Woodward, that's been the president's goal this whole time. People suspected it, there were concerns about it and there is the president acknowledging it. So, this is really no surprise.

BASH: Yeah, it isn't, but, you know, it is important as you know because you report on so much of this to keep shining a light on it. On that note, Amy, one of the things that the president said in defending not going public with what he knew about the fact that the coronavirus is so transmittable in an airborne way, knew that in early February, he didn't want to create panic or fear in this country.

But, remember, when he came down the famous escalator in Trump Tower in June of 2015, since then, until recently, he's done just that on other issues. Take a watch.


TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.

We'll get rid of the crime. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot. They will be met with fire and fury, like the world has never seen. They want to destroy your suburbs, rioters and vandals, rampaging through all -- in all cases Democrat-run cities.



BASH: So, Amy, do you think given the president's history of, you know, basically fearmongering on issues like that, that people who he needs to reach are going to buy that that's the reason he didn't tell people how deadly the pandemic was?

AMY WALTER, NATIONAL EDITOR, COOK POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah, it was a interesting walk down memory lane there, Dana. It goes to what so many of us have been saying from the very beginning, which this is a president who likes to meet every challenge with a punching back, right? And with rhetoric, and you can't defeat a virus by massaging your message or by sending out angry tweets or by deflecting attention to the inadequacies of your opponent.

This is here, it's here to stay. And, you know, the great irony was, there was a really short moment, Dana, where the president was getting a big bump in his approval rating at the very beginning of this pandemic when he was coming out, with the scientific officials and it was sort of going along like a sort of typical executive response to a crisis.

And then discipline faded, he wasn't interested in that reality of what the virus was, we heard the conspiracy theories, the attacks on science, and from them on in, what we have seen is president's approval ratings drop, opinions of the way the president handles it, of course, have also been dismal, majority of Americans think he's doing a terrible job on this. To me the real question too is, you know, where is the spotlight as we get into October and November? Is it on the crisis of coronavirus? Or on something else?

BASH: Yeah, that's a big -- that's a huge question. But while we are so -- right now, it is impossible to imagine the coronavirus not being the overlay to everything that we're doing. It could change. We have seen that happen before.

Maggie and Amy and our viewers, I want you to listen to some of what our colleague Jim Acosta heard from Trump voters at rallies this past week.



ROD BEEBEE, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Because there's no COVID. It's a -- it's a fake pandemic created to destroy the United States of America.

ACOSTA: But the president said to Bob Woodward that there is a virus, the coronavirus, and it is deadly.

BEEBEE: That's his opinion.

ACOSTA: Does it worry you at all to be in this crowded space with all these people?

DANIEL GUILDER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I'm not afraid. The Good Lord takes care of me. If I die, I die! We got to get this country moving.


BASH: Maggie, to me, this is so classic, frankly a disconnect between what people who like President Trump want to like President Trump see and hear about him and about things that he's saying, versus, you know, what other people who either are on the bubble or don't like President Trump or just basically listening to science see. And I know you have been covering this president since he was a candidate, you know, more than five years ago and have seen and heard voices like that on different issues since then.

I mean, is this -- I feel like the reason I wanted to ask you about it, this is such a important disconnect that we can't lose sight of as we get closer to election day.

HABERMAN: It's true, Dana, we can't lose sight of the fact there is a sizable chunk of voters who believe only what they hear from President Trump. And what's interesting is that Jim was trying to say the president told Bob Woodward X, Y, Z, but I think for the president's followers, if they don't hear the president say it, even if it's a tape, if they don't see a visual of him, you know, talking and video from his rally and something along those lines, they don't believe it.

And this is where the president's messaging on this has been so significant in terms of the vast number of people who support him not wearing masks, not taking safety precautions, not listening to guidance from state officials and, yet, the majority of the public in the U.S. is afraid, does support mask wearing, does favor taking safety precautions. So, yes, the president has this group of people who really only listen to him, and yet just mention this only for the purposes of the election we're facing, they're not a majority of the country.

And he is suggesting to this group of people that only he is right and that has serious health implications, number one, in terms of the election, they're not enough to re-elect him, and he seems to have never quite learned that.

BASH: Real quick, Amy, we're out of time, your thoughts on that.

WALTER: Yeah, he's trying to rerun the 2016 campaign except that it is not 2016. He's the guy in charge and there aren't enough voters to be able to do that again.


BASH: Great to talk to you both. We -- I could talk to you all day. Maybe we'll talk offline. Amy and Maggie, thank you so much. Have a great day.

And coming up, congressional stalemate, will people suffering from the effects of the pandemic have to wait until after the election for a second stimulus check? We'll talk about that next.



BASH: New reporting from Bob Woodward's book is raising more questions about President Trump's coronavirus response forcing vulnerable Republicans on the ballot this year into a familiar quandary, how to answer for a president who remains popular with their shared base.

On Friday, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine walked that tight rope during a debate.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I believe that the president should have been straightforward with the American people. The American people can take hard facts. I have said since the beginning that the president's performance has been uneven.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: Meanwhile Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill remain billions of dollars apart as relief negotiations falter. This as a survey of small businesses by Goldman Sachs paints a stark economic picture. It says 94 percent say they've applied for and received loans since the pandemic began six months ago, but a third say they need congressional relief by the end of this month to keep their doors open.

Joining me now to discuss that and more is Democratic Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania. Thank you so much for joining me this morning.

My first question is about the unemployment insurance that expired in July and the Paycheck Protection Program, which ended last month. It seems that there is not much of a chance that the coronavirus relief bill is going to see the light of day when it comes to a deal, by the November election.

So what do you tell your suburban Philadelphia constituents who need this help and you're not getting it done with members of Congress across the aisle?

REP. CHRISSY HOULAHAN (D-PA): Sure and thanks for having me. And you know, this is a team sport and it requires both the Senate and the House to play nicely together. And right now what we're seeing is the House has put forward a piece of legislation that more than three or four months ago at this point in time.

It is the Senate's turn to respond. We have seen that Senator McConnell has, you know, 36 years of experience in doing this. And he understands that he needs the votes to be able to move pieces of legislation forward and what he did last week was pretty cynical, frankly. He didn't have his own caucus on board.

And so, I very much when I return to Washington tomorrow want to get something done. I'm a former entrepreneur myself and very much believe in making sure that we're supporting our businesses. But we need to play nicely together in order to make that happen.

BASH: Well, on that note, Chester County is one of the counties you represent in Pennsylvania -- 1,501 loans were given out, the third most in Pennsylvania. So given that, and I know you're hearing from your constituents, where are you willing to compromise?

HOULAHAN: Sure, I'm incredibly willing to compromise as having been an entrepreneur myself. I know that my small and mid-sized businesses are in pain. In fact, I put together a piece of legislation with Representative Upton of Michigan, Republican representative from Michigan -- bipartisan, bicameral -- for the paycheck protection program, for forgiveness of that program for those people who have gotten loans sub $150,000 and that's 86 percent of the people who got that loan.

And so I remain incredibly willing to work across the aisle and across the Senate and the House to make sure that we're helping our small and midsized businesses. BASH: So let's talk about the election. You are one of many freshmen

Democrats who flipped suburban districts from red to blue. You well know that President Trump is hoping to lure the kind of voters who put you in office with a law and order message or what he's now calling -- labeling safety and security.

Listen to what the president said last night in Nevada.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They want to destroy your suburbs. Look at what I've done for your suburbs. You know what I've done. Does anybody want to have somebody from Antifa as a member and as a resident of your suburb? I don't think so.


BASH: That was Michigan, not Nevada but in general, you hear that kind of message every time the president is out. Is that working with voters where you are in the suburbs outside of Philly?

HOULAHAN: I feel like that is largely heard as fearmongering and in effect race-baiting. And I don't think it is resonating. I think what is resonating is the fact that you and I are talking to each other through a screen right now and that we are sitting in our homes and have been largely since around March and not able to return to our businesses to a large degree and we do still have quite a lot of COVID here.

And so this is the America that President Trump's administration has brought us and that resonates with us. We would like to be leaving our homes and going back to our communities and our work and to our schools and this is not possible.

And I think we are largely a very civil and decent community here in Chester and Berks County and we very much value diversity and difference. And I think that that message is not resonating with our voters here.

BASH: As you know, absentee ballots in your part of Pennsylvania will start to go out this month. Notwithstanding the president's baseless claims about fraud.


BASH: My colleagues and I did some reporting this week that the Trump campaign is relying on a so-called voter vault that the GOP started building 12 years ago to identify voters and get their absentee and early ballots back. Are you confident that the Biden operation can compete with that in crucial Pennsylvania suburbs where you are?

HOULAHAN: Well, I think it's important and a responsibility and privilege of all of us to make sure that we vote. And I certainly hope frankly that both of the campaigns are working to make sure that people can vote securely and safely, because that's our privilege and our right to do that. I know that the Biden campaign is working here in Pennsylvania, as

they are in many other states, swing states, to make sure that we are able to encourage people to be able to vote from their home if they need to and in person if they would like to.

And so I'm very hopeful that we'll have a good get out the vote process here in Pennsylvania.

BASH: And you -- I'm guessing you, like other Democrats though, are concerned about the way it is going to go down for lots of reasons, especially the fact that, again, he just did it last night in Nevada, he was focusing on the Nevada officials there, but he does that in pretty much every state. And he, of course, I mean the president, is trying to raise doubts about election results.

HOULAHAN: Yes, and I do worry about that. And in fact I would encourage people who are watching, I would encourage you in the media, I would encourage politicians to know that this probably won't be over on election evening. We won't know the results as we typically do on the election evening and I would encourage people, all of us, to wait, to be patient as if our lives depended on it and as if our nation depends on it because I think it does.

And I don't think we're going to see it the same way that we normally do on election eve having decisions so clear and obvious to us because of the vast mass majority of people who are mailing in their votes from home.

BASH: Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I appreciate it.

HOULAHAN: You're really welcome. Have a good rest of your day.

BASH: Thanks. You, too.

And more voters choose Joe Biden in new polling, but the president leads on an issue key to his re-election.

Up next, we'll talk to top pollsters from each party about where the race stands with seven weeks to go.




SARA REIDY JONES, VOTER: Four years ago, President Trump wasn't my first, second, third, fourth choice (ph). We're saying get beyond that rhetoric and go with what that record of accomplishment.

BLAKE STEWART, VOTER: He had the opportunity to grab this bull by the horns and instead he let it run us all over.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: As the presidential campaign enters its final weeks, voters in some key states say, as you just heard, well, as you saw, some undecided voters but we'll see right now, that they prefer Joe Biden to President Trump. The former VP leads in Minnesota and Wisconsin and is within the margin of error in New Hampshire and Nevada where President Trump traveled last night for a rally.

In all, president -- Joe Biden's margin rather, is larger in these four states than Hillary Clinton's was four years ago.

Still there are some bright spots for President Trump's re-election effort. One poll shows him winning Latino voters in battleground Florida and he holds an advantage on economic issues in Pennsylvania.

With us to share their analysis of the state of the race is Republican pollster Ed Goeas and Democratic pollster Margie Omero Thank you so much, both of you, for coming on this morning.

Ed, what do those battleground horse race polls tell you, any surprises?

ED GOEAS, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: I think no surprise. There is no question that the president has dug a pretty deep hole here in recent months. But we see some bouncing back and obviously the national data showed that it is down by 7.5 points to Biden. If you look at most of the battleground states either by the outside (AUDIO GAP) the margin of error.

BASH: And Margie, one of the things I mentioned is one of the polls this week shows that Joe Biden is trailing with Latino voters, underperforming even Hillary Clinton who lost Florida. How much of a warning sign should that be for the Biden campaign?

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: I think in all situations it is, of course, important that all voters be reached out to. And for some voters like Latinex voters that there are other groups too are going to be late deciders and you know, need attention and need outreach just like every other audience.

I think the overall big picture shows Biden to be strong right now across a variety of states with a variety of different demographic audiences and on a variety of key issues. I mean, more trust Biden than the president on a whole host of issues -- uniting the country, the coronavirus, even law and order they're tied which is something obviously Trump talks about a lot.

So I think you see a lot more signs here of Biden strength.

BASH: Well, interesting -- before we move on to another topic, CNN has confirmed a report this morning in "The Washington Post" that Michael Bloomberg is pouring $100 million into Florida to help with a whole host of constituencies there. But maybe the most important is what we were just talking about, to try to help Joe Biden and other Democrats with Latino voters.

So Ed, let's talk about the candidates' unfavorable ratings, how much people dislike the candidates. In 2016, both candidates, more than a majority, said that voters didn't like them -- Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton.

Now, Donald Trump's unfavorable numbers are much higher than Joe Biden's. People like Biden more than Trump. As a GOP pollster, how much does that matter?

GOEAS: Well, it matters a great deal. And what we saw in 2016 is for the first time a nominee for either party was over 50 percent unfavorable. In fact, we were showing in our polling 24 percent of the electorate disliked both going into the Election Day. 19 percent according to the exit polls who voted on Election Day disliked both candidates. And quite frankly, the race came down to who would win a majority of those voters to put them up at the top, which they moved at the last minute towards Trump.

What you've seen the entire four years of the Trump presidency is this unfavorable rating has not gotten below 54 percent or above 58 percent. In fact, today he's right at that 55 percent unfavorable.

As opposed to 2016, Biden is much more favorable. In fact, he's net favorable. And there is only 7 percent that dislike both candidates and even with that group of voters, Biden is winning 58 percent of them.


GOEAS: So a little bit different dynamic, it is part of what the Trump campaign needs to do is to raise his negative. But the one thing that has always benefited Trump with that 24 percent of the electorate who like his policies but don't like his persona is that the key thing moving those voters was the economic issues -- (INAUDIBLE) economics.

And they've heard very little on that issue in the last five months because of the pandemic and the racial unrest. And he has to get back to that, much more so than law and order.

BASH: Much more so than law and order. And, Margie, final word for you, if he does get back to the economic issues, that could be a potential problem for Joe Biden because especially if he's looking at polling, that is still the one area, policy area where Donald Trump is still doing relatively well.

OMERO: Well, I looked at the cross tabs from "The New York Times"/CNN poll and part of the reason that Trump was doing a little bit better on the economy relative to all the other issues where he trails Biden is because of the intensity among Republicans, while there were a few Democrats who would, you know, give Trump the benefit of the doubt on the economy, Democrats who are going to vote for Joe Biden most likely. So the difference there is just really intensity of party.

And the other thing that I think is worth noting is the intensity of dislike towards Trump. When we talk about approval and favorable, we're looking at the net or collapse -- (INAUDIBLE) so if you look at the intensity, in poll after poll, almost half the country is strongly, strongly unfavorable toward the president, strongly disapproves of the job he's doing. And he's been underwater his entire presidency.

BASH: That is clearly an area where both you, Republican pollster and a Democratic pollster agree that the president's unfavorable or the fact that people dislike him is a big problem, especially compared this year to Joe Biden. We'll see how that plays out.

Thank you, both, for getting up early. Appreciate it.

OMERO: Thank you.

BASH: And the newest pandemic problem: coronavirus and colleges. The innovative way one university is trying to detect outbreaks before they start. That's next.



BASH: The new coronavirus hot spots: college towns. Data published by "USA Today" on Friday show that of the country's 25 worst COVID-19 outbreaks over the past two weeks, 19 are college towns. And take a look at this graphic from "The New York Times" showing cases in college counties rising as cases in counties without colleges dropping.

At the University of Arizona now open for three weeks, they are uniquely staffed to tackle an outbreak. Their president is a doctor, and their head of campus re-entry is a former surgeon general. But even they have seen their positive testing rate rise to a high of 8.8 percent this week.

And joining me now is Dr. Robert Robbins, who is the president of the University of Arizona, also as I mentioned, a medical doctor and a renowned cardiac surgeon. Thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate it.

I want to start with what you just saw -- cases climbing in college towns. Where you are University of Arizona, the highest positivity rate was Wednesday, 8.8 percent. So, Dr. Robbins, as somebody who was an 18 to 21-year-old once who understands what happens on college campuses, wasn't the spike entirely predictable?

DR. ROBERT ROBBINS, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA: Absolutely, Dana. Thanks for having me today. And you're absolutely right.

When I was thinking about this back in March and was first interviewed about the re-entry which we're now three weeks into on our campus, this was my biggest concern. And of course, we were all young one time. So it's totally expected. We're going to continue to test, trace, and treat the students, our faculty and staff, and to try to mitigate as much as possible. We're transitioning from the prevention mode into the treatment mode.

BASH: Well, but you said you're transitioning from prevention to treatment, but one of the prevention notions I would think would be limiting off-campus parties, limiting socializing. Is that even something that is remotely enforceable at a big university like University of Arizona or others like yours across the country?

DR. ROBBINS: Well, we can try, and we are working with the city of Tucson, the mayor's office, the county, both the city police force, our university police force, our neighborhood organizations. And we have made aggressive efforts to limit large gatherings, which would be a defiance of city ordinance.

So we're aggressively going after parties in particular and large gatherings. Because as you well know, that's where these highest rate of transmissibility is. We're lucky that our bars are not open, that we have face-covering policies.

So we're continuing to try to prevent. And one of those mitigation efforts is to break up these parties and to hold students accountable through our student code of conduct.

BASH: How do you do that? What if somebody's caught breaking the rules?

DR. ROBBINS: Well, they get a warning. And then if they are repeat offender, then there are issues of interim suspensions and even expelling them from school.

BASH: Wow. You mentioned masks are required. I want to go through some of the other prevention methods that you've already put in place. Masks -- dorms are at 65 percent capacity with no more than 5,000 people. Testing is required once students and faculty get to campus. Only 50 percent of courses are held in person with a cap on how many students per class, voluntary anonymous contact tracing through an app. And this is one of the most interesting -- wastewater coronavirus surveillance at all dorms and some academic buildings.

So, given all of that that you have put in place, do you have a sense that they are starting to work, these prevention methods, or you know, more to the point, in some of these cases, that testing methods are working?

DR. ROBBINS: Yes. I think a combination of all of those things, and Ian Pepper who heads up our wastewater-based epidemiology has expanded his scope to, as you said, not only our dorms but the student unions. And we're even talking to off-campus high-rise units to begin to do wastewater-based testing.


DR. ROBBINS: And of course the big issue here, Dana, is trying to identify the asymptomatic positives. It's trying to find the needle in the haystack. Luckily we've got wastewater-based epidemiology to know that you shed the virus in wastewater up to seven days before you're symptomatic.

So if we can go in and identify the asymptomatic students and then isolate them, then we think that we can decrease the transmissibility of this deadly virus.

BASH: And how far along is that wastewater testing right now? Do you have any sense of whether or not that is a real preventative measure? Because that's something that Dr. Giroir on a federal level and others have said could be a real key at big population centers like yours at college campuses.

DR. ROBBINS: Yes. We are deep into this. And we've had several dorms. I think there are up to seven or eight where we've found major viral concentration in the wastewater. And we've gone in and tested every one of the students there and found the positives and then isolated them into an isolation dorm.

So I know Admiral Giroir. We worked together in Texas when I was there. He's doing good work. And I think he's right. This could be scaled. And we're using it, again to get to those students who don't even know they're sick.

The ones that are sick will go get tested and they will take themselves out of circulation. It's the asymptomatic individuals who have no idea they're spreading this virus like crazy.

BASH: That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Hope you can catch the show weekdays as well at noon Eastern.

And up next "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER". His guests are White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning.