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CNN NEWSROOM

Survey: Trump Less Trusted Than Xi, Putin on Virus; Biden Narrowly Leads Trump in New Florida Poll; Biden Looks for Latino Votes in Florida; French Cities of Bordeaux and Marseille Face New Restrictions; U.K. Prime Minister to Face Questions Over Testing Shortage; Hurricane Sally Grows to Category 2 As It Nears Landfall. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 16, 2020 - 04:30   ET

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


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ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: To the rest of the world when it comes to handling the pandemic U.S. President Trump is less trustworthy than China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin. A Pew research survey of people in 13 countries finds the image of the U.S. has plummeted. Isa Soares has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As more American lives are lost every day, President Trump continues to defend his handling of COVID-19.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I took tremendous steps and saved probably 2 or 2.5 million lives by doing what we did early.

SOARES: Internationally however, the world doesn't share his self- appraisal. According to a new report by the Pew Research Center of 13 nations, a median of just 15 percent of people believe the U.S. has done a good job handling the crisis. Even China, where the pandemic began, received better reviews than the U.S.

Pew, which polled over 13,000 people from early June to early August, also found that internationally, the view of the United States overall has plummeted. In some countries, it has never been lower.

How about President Trump? How did these nations rate him? According to Pew, the median here, 16 percent of all nations surveyed have confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs and when compared to other leaders, while the President doesn't stack up very well, behind Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who the President has criticized in the past, received the highest approval rating, with a median of 76 percent of those surveyed having confidence in her leadership. But with less than 50 days until the U.S. Election, President Trump's focus likely isn't on how he is perceived internationally. Rather, it is about rallying enough support inside America, ahead of the November 3rd poll. Isa Soares, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Joining me now is CNN senior political analyst and senior editor at the "The Atlantic" Ron Brownstein. Great to have you with us.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be back here, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So, Ron, you wrote about Donald Trump being down but not out in this presidential race despite the pandemic, revelations in Bob Woodward's book about what he knew about the virus and when. Racism in this country and a whole other negative issues. How is it possible with all of this that he's not trailing far behind his Democratic rival Joe Biden?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, he is clearly down. And he's down six, seven, eight points but because, Rosemary, the stakes that are at the tipping point of the election are all more Republican in the country overall, whether that's Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, or Michigan, or North Carolina, Florida and Arizona, he would not need that much more recovery in order to be within range of another electoral college victory even if he loses the popular vote again. And that I think, many experts, you know, I talked, to and its remarkable.

There are almost 200,000 Americans dead. You've had all the revelations in the Woodward book. It is the procession of people who worked in the same room with him who have come out from his administration and said this person should not be president again. And yet the fact that he's within range -- even though he is behind and is the underdog today.

[04:35:00]

I think is a testament to the level of alienation from the way America is evolving demographically, culturally and even economically among a core of the population that is really attached itself to him. I mean, he is very -- he remains very strong with his core groups of noncollege whites, evangelical whites, rural whites, older whites to some extent. It's not enough at this point to win because he's alienated other groups. But the fact that those groups are sticking with him even despite all of the turmoil that would have capsized an earlier presidency to me is a signal of just how much domestic kind of tension we are in for in coming decade. As all the demographic changes those voters don't like, continue to unfold.

CHURCH: Yes, it is certainly a divided nation we're living in right now. And you know, as you mentioned, Joe Biden is leading in national polls and in a number of most the competitive swing states and among that university poll shows he is leading Donald Trump in Florida 50 to 45 percent. Other polls show him with less of a lead but Biden's real problem in Florida is with Latino voters. Who appear to be spooked by unfounded fears of socialism. How can he turn that perception around and what if he can't? BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, I think every candidate -- and that last

point is really a good one. I mean, every candidate comes with strengths and weaknesses. Joe Biden is running better among seniors than any Democratic candidate since Al Gore in 2000. And that's a big part of the reason why he is ahead in Florida along with the fact he's running much better among college educated white voters there and everywhere else.

But he's a 77-year-old white guy who has not had a lot of interaction with the Hispanic community over the course of his career. And unlike the African-American community where his relationship with Barack Obama is a tremendous calling card, it's a more ambiguous legacy in the Hispanic community. Because Obama in his first years was very aggressive in deporting people who were here illegally in the hope of convincing Republicans to make a deal in part on immigration.

CHURCH: Right. And in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic we have seen the President thumb his nose at mask wearing and social distancing with a big signing ceremony at the White House Tuesday and rallies on Sunday and Monday and now the President is promising there will be a COVID-19 vaccine in four to eight weeks contradicting all his health experts. But how politically beneficial is it for the President to essentially promise a cure that he may not be able to deliver. Will voters buy it?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, the first point, though, I mean, let's take it in half. The first point, the clearest message he is sending to voters every day, I am just astonished by his determination to do this. Through these rallies is that no matter how long he is president, no matter how many people die he will not take this seriously. And he could not send that message to voters any more unequivocally if he were buying a billboard on every major highway in America. You know, and there is a parallel to what we see happening now with the hurricanes in the Southeast and the terrible wildfires in the West and the coronavirus. Where in both cases he is saying it's just going to go away. You know, he's denying there's a climate change, denying there's a coronavirus.

CHURCH: Ron Brownstein always a pleasure to get your analysis on all things political. Many thanks.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, French officials warn they could run out of hospital beds if COVID-19 numbers don't start dropping. Coming up we're live from one hot spot as France battles a surge in cases.

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CHURCH: COVID infections are rising in India faster than in any other country and cases there have now topped 5 million. The death toll there crossed 80,000 on Tuesday. India's infection rate has increased exponentially in recent weeks after taking almost six months to record one million cases. And two major French cities are facing tougher rules as they try to

contain COVID-19. Bordeaux in southwest and Marseille on the Mediterranean coast has emerged as virus hot spots. This is France sees some of the worst new infection rates in Europe. The tighter restrictions covered things like outdoor events, beach gatherings and nursing home visits. And for the latest CNN's Melissa Bell joins us now live from Bordeaux. Melissa, what is behind this surge in cases in Bordeaux and what restrictions are now being put in place?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well what we've seen over the course of the last few weeks here in France more broadly, Rosemary, is that the young have been making the most of post-lockdown periods this summer months. It is they that have been driving this rise in the number of new case with these particular hot spots that have emerged and Marseille and here in Bordeaux. Where local authorities have announced a tightening of the rules very specifically aimed in both cases at trying to keep those young people safe in order that they don't pass things on to older relatives. Because it is now once again just as in the first wave in some parts of the country like here in Bordeaux, Rosemary, the health care system itself that's once again being tested.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BELL (voice-over): It's the young driving the newest wave of COVID-19, French officials say. Now they are passing it on to their older relatives. This dramatization by health authorities meant as a warning of how France's rising numbers are now beginning to lead to a strain on hospitals.

Like this one in Bordeaux, one of France's hotspots. The head of its ICU says it is now nearing capacity with very little known about its longer term ability to cope.

Dr. OLIVER JOANNES BOYAU, HEAD OF ICU UNIT, BORDEAUX UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Second wave is probably less high, with less patients that arrive at the same moment, but unfortunately, probably more prolonged.

BELL: For the doctors and nurses on the front line, it's about dealing with a virus that is here to stay. This hospital is preparing for the arrival of more COVID-19 patients, but unlike last spring, will continue to treat other emergencies as well.

DR. CATHERINE FLEUREAU, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, BORDEAUX UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL (through translator): The University hospital will be dealing with those two populations, and that is what makes the situation harder. It's also going to be harder than last time because this wave, I think, will grow progressively, and then last over time.

BELL: But as he shows us around the ICU, Dr. Joannes Bayou says that at least now lot more is known. The use of steroids and specially adapted ventilators that can now avoid contamination means that this time, intubations are down 50 percent since the spring he says.

(on camera): But intubation is dangerous, and intubation is painful and it's a last resort. BAYOU: Yes, intubation increase the risk of acute stay duration. Sometimes we don't have a choice and we have to intubate the patient and ventilate the patient, because he's not able to use the oxygen that we bring to him.

BELL (voice-over): So, doctors are better at dealing with COVID-19, but that doesn't mean they are not worried.

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BAYOU: The major problem is to keep the wave really, really low. If the wave grows up a lot, we will face a large number of patients with COVID that will come, and we will not be able to treat and to manage all of the patients.

BELL: With capacity fast approaching in the hospitals in France's hotspots, it's a question of the system's ability to cope that is once again being posed, less dramatically, but no less urgently.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BELL: Now France's authorities have made it clear that they absolutely want to avoid, Rosemary, a second general lockdown. That the economy here in France, frankly, can ill afford. The question is whether these fresh regulations taken in a sort of piecemeal way and localize in places like Bordeaux and Marseille, some of the worst places affected, whether they will make the difference in time, whether they will be able to bring those numbers back down in time for those hospitals already running near capacity.

CHURCH: Yes, it is a real concern and a warning to the rest of the world as well. Melissa Bell joining us there live. Many thanks.

Well, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to face tough questions in a few hours from now after reports the country's coronavirus testing program is overwhelmed. A "Sunday Times" report claimed the U.K.'s health service faces a backlog of 185,000 tests. The Health Secretary admitted there have been operational challenges as demand for testing rises.

CNN's Scott McLean is live for us outside the British Parliament. He joins us now. So, Scott, how is even possible to have such a massive backlog in testing. What's going on here?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a great question, Rosemary and certainly, the Prime Minister will be facing those types of tough questions in Parliament today. Specifically, on the fact that Britain's efforts to contain this second wave of the coronavirus are really being hampered by the shortage of tests. Some people are having to wait weeks or driving hundreds of miles in order to get one.

There's also this massive backlog of swabs that need be processed that you mentioned. Now the British Home Secretary yesterday called the situation unacceptable but ultimately, it's the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock who needs to answer for it. He says that it could take weeks to fix the problems, to sort them out. In the meantime, the government will have to prioritize who actually,

needs the test and who doesn't. He also acknowledged that a rising number of people are being hospitalized for COVID-19 and that the virus is starting to creep its way back into care homes as well.

The government remarkably is still doing more than 200,000 tests per day, but supply is still very much outstripping, or sorry, demand is very much still outstripping demand. Part of the problem is that many people signing up for tests -- about a quarter of everyone signing up for tests according to the Health Secretary -- don't actually have any symptoms. And so, there's no need for them to get the test. And so, he's pleading with people to only sign up for one if you actually have the symptoms.

And the government is working on this ambitious plan to test people en masse with a rapid test that can return results in just 90 minutes. It can test even people who don't have symptoms but that is still a long way off it seems from reality. And so, in meantime a government adviser said that if people can't follow the new rules, the new restrictions that went into effect this week that this country could be back under a hard lockdown in short order. Which would be absolutely devastating for an economy that just recorded that there were some 700,000 jobs disappearing from British payrolls over the last six months -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Is becoming a familiar story. Scott McLean joining us live from London. Many thanks.

And CNN NEWSROOM continues after this short break. Do stay with us.

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CHURCH: All right, let's get an update now on hurricane Sally. It's currently a category 2 storm slowly churning up the U.S. Gulf Coast packing very strong winds. Joining me now by phone is Captain Melissa Templeton, a hurricane hunter in U.S. Air Force Reserve. Thank you so much, captain, for talking with us. Whereabouts are you positioned right now? And I under you returned to base. But what did you see while you were flying out there?

CAPT. MELISSA TEMPLETON, U.S. AIR FORCE RESERVE, HOUSTON TEXAS (via phone): That's right, ma'am. So, we are -- we're usually stationed out of Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. But we were still on vacation. We're now operating out of Houston, Texas. So, we just got back, it's about a two and a half hour flight. In flight were seeing around 100 to 105 miles per hour surface winds.

CHURCH: And when you do that, how close do you get to the hurricane?

TEMPLETON: Well, we fly around 10,000 feet directly through the hurricane. Our job is to find the exact center of the storm, so that's one of our primary purposes as well as measuring surface winds as well as flight level winds through the cross section of the storm.

CHURCH: And what did that reveal to you? What was the reason for that particular mission?

TEMPLETON: So, the purpose of our mission is again to find the exact center and to provide real-time information about what the strongest winds are, the current movement of the storm and any characteristics that we can pass on to the forecasters at the National Hurricane Center that will help them to produce the most accurate forecast, if possible. And our studies have shown that (INAUDIBLE) our aircraft are able to reduce that area of uncertainty by as much as 30 percent.

ALLEN: Right, and of course the problem with hurricane Sally is it is moving so slowly that it's causing all of this drenching and the flooding and this is going to be a big problem for this particular part of the United States. So, what did you learn about that? Does it appear that it will continue this slow churning across the U.S.?

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TEMPLETON: We will see what the forecasters have to say about our flight. While we were out there, I will say that it appeared to be moving on average about three knots, with the particular paths about three knots every hour. So, very slow mover and yes quite a bit of rainfall out there.

CHURCH: And how terrifying is it when you actually fly through a hurricane like this?

TEMPLETON: Well surprisingly it can be very smooth. It depends on the storm. Each storm has its own characteristics and sometimes it can be hard to predict what you're about to feel. So, I've gone some tropical storms that feel much worse than a category 3 or category 4 storm. This one we had some bumps in the northeastern quadrant of the storm as well as the eastern quadrant of the storm, about some moderate turbulence but that was about it.

CHURCH: And when will you likely go out again and do this? Presumably, it's not a one off.

TEMPLETON: That's right. So, for this particular storm, forecasted to make landfall tomorrow morning. So, we'll see this kind of movement if they have us fly it again.

CHURCH: And, so you'll rest up now. When you actually go out how many people actually are in plane with you?

TEMPLETON: So, we frequently run on a crew of about five to six on a standard mission.

CHURCH: All right. Captain Melissa Templeton, an incredible mission for you there. Glad you are safely back to base and thank you so much for talk with us. We appreciate it.

TEMPLETON: Yes, ma'am. Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: And thank you for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. "EARLY START" is up next. You're watching CNN. Have yourselves a great day.

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