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Joe Biden Slams President Donald Trump's Florida Rally; Polls Show Biden Leading Trump In PA, FL, No Clear Leader In NC, IA; Confirmation Hearing For Judge Barrett Underway; U.S. Seeing An Average Of Almost 50K New COVID-19 Cases Daily; President Donald Trump Heads To Iowa For Campaign Rally Wednesday. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 12, 2020 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The state-by-state chess is the interesting part, Jessica Dean, thank you from Hamilton County. We'll get it by country - map Jessica, thank you. And hello to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Top of the hour, I am John king in Washington.

Thank you so much for sharing a very, very busy news day with us. Right now, a break in Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation hearing. We expect to hear from Judge maybe soon Justice Barrett this afternoon. But the morning marked by stark warnings today from Democrats, that a Justice Barrett would unmake Obamacare.

The president busy tweeting today that, Republicans have a health care plan that will protect pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, there's nothing to suggest that that is true. And Republicans are currently in court trying to dismantle Obamacare. More on the court fight in just a few minutes.

First, though the president leaving his Coronavirus isolation and heading today to battleground Florida. Joe Biden spending the day playing offense in battleground Ohio, a state the president won convincingly just four years ago. We are 22 days out from Election Day.

Democratic Nominee Biden right now holds a commanding national polling advantage and he also leads in most of the key swing states. Republican worry is deep and getting deeper but the president again trying to put a rosy spin on his election chances.

The president says, you find them, but he says the polls showing him behind are fake and he has polls showing him ahead. The president also says the Coronavirus pandemic is, "Disappearing." But look at the numbers. Just look at the numbers.

We're actually at the start of another increase. 44,000 new cases reported Sunday. 31 of the 50 United States now moving in the wrong direction. The daily average of new infections sits just below 50,000. That is up a staggering 41 percent from this time last month.

The president will be holding campaign events in four states this week, Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and North Carolina. With me now to discuss, CNN's Kaitlan Collins and White House Correspondent from McClatchy, Francesca Chambers. And Kaitlan, I want to start with you, because one of the interesting new dynamics, the president is out of Coronavirus isolation.

He says he is now immune, the doctors would tell you something different, but his doctors have given him them the right to travel and the president two or four months has tried to shove the Coronavirus pandemic aside as a campaign issue now has a commercial. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump tackled the virus head on as leaders should.



KING: Dr. Fauci seen there as a star in a Trump Campaign Ad provided you with this statement yesterday. "In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate. The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials." So, Dr. Fauci not happy with the president here.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, he's not. Because he is saying that they're using his words out of context. And if you go back, you notice there's no date on that quote where Fauci is speaking in the ad, that's quote from March where he was doing an interview at Fox News.

And if you listen to the context of that, he is obviously talking about the work that the task course is doing, he's talking about how they're basically having this around the clock effort with late night phone calls and countless meetings, talking about what they're doing overall.

But if you just watch that brief clip there from the Trump Campaign, you would think he is talking about the president and the president's response solely. And of course as we've seen over the last several months, the president and Dr. Fauci have often butted heads over the science here, and which path the nation is on, what are the best measures to be taking?

And so, he says he didn't consent to that, he says he doesn't want to be seen as a political figure given that he is a career official who has worked for our presidents on both sides of the aisle but also saying that those words were being taken out of context in that image.

And it's striking, John, because the president has been so publicly critical of Dr. Fauci where he has compared their approval ratings, he's gone after him, he's talked about what he said about masks back early on in the pandemic compared to what he said now. And so, for the campaign to try to use Dr. Fauci in this ad shows that

they do understand that Dr. Fauci has a lot of credibility with voters, especially when it comes to the pandemic. That's something that the president doesn't have. And so, that's clearly why they put him in this ad for the president.

KING: Right. And remember, among the many more recent statements from Dr. Fauci is one just the other day where he said they hosted a super spreader event at the Trump White House with the Amy Coney Barrett rollout event, Dr. Fauci saying the data speak for themselves there.

Francesca about the president has issues with the truth sometimes, including when it comes to polling. We've all seen the national polls. Joe Biden has a double-digit lead. I'll walk through some of the state polls in a minute. But the president listen to this from a call last night with his supporters saying pay no attention. I'm winning.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The polls are looking very good. The real polls, that is. We're looking great in Florida, we're looking great in Arizona and Nevada, and I think Pennsylvania, and I'm pretty sure North Carolina.


KING: So let's go through a couple of these Francesca. Right now, Quinnipiac Poll last week, Joe Biden at 51 percent in Florida, Donald Trump at 40. In Pennsylvania, Joe Biden at 54 percent, Donald Trump at 41. Iowa, pretty much a tie. A state the president won handily four years ago. North Carolina, pretty much a tie, maybe a slight Biden advantage. Again a state that president won four years ago.


KING: We've seen the national polls, we have seen dozens, literally dozens of battleground state polls in the last couple weeks where the president is either behind or competitive. He's just making this up.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: And the president resumed his telerallies in addition to public events over the weekend, John. But he had an entire week, more than a week where he was unable to be on the campaign trail. And that is not something that they planned for.

So now he's in a position where he has to make up ground from not being able to be out there. And you see him with events as you noted on the schedule almost every day this week, campaign events at this point.

And look at the states where he is going. It is the states that are key to his strategy of getting to 270 electoral votes. You mentioned Florida and North Carolina. Those are two states that the campaigns say that they're doing fine in.

But yet they have high profile surrogates, including the president and the vice president traveling to those states, those high-profile surrogates almost every single day over recent days which should tell you something about where they see themselves in those states, John.

KING: And Kaitlan an old saying in politics, when you're whining, you're not winning. The Trump Campaign at the moment trying to get the second debate rescheduled, put back on the books, the president pulled out, he refused to do a virtual debate back after his Coronavirus diagnosis.

Now his campaigner saying, hey, the doctors say he is COVID free, put the debate back on the books, but there's zero indication that is going to happen, right?

COLLINS: Exactly. And a lot has to do with the schedules of the candidates. Joe Biden has already agreed to an ABC Town Hall on Thursday. I was told last week that the president was in talks to do one with NBC. So they would have these competing town halls basically where they would both be taking questions but not actually be together in the same venue as they were planned to do.

And so, putting together a debate takes a lot of work, they've to build the stage, get it ready, reporters would already be there getting COVID tests right now as they were for the other debates. So there's a lot of logistics that also goes into this. So it's not simple for them to just put it back together and have everyone show up in Miami like the Trump Campaign wants. So it's not clear that's going to happen.

And what the question that really raises are, they do go for the debate next Thursday, do they have a third debate right before the election? That's what the Trump Campaign wants, that's not what the Biden Campaign wants. So it really determines whether or not we're actually going to get a second and third debate or if there's just one more in our future between these two candidates?

KING: All right. And I would bet on one more. There's no reason for Joe Biden if you continue to lead the race to now back down and give a third debate so close to the election. But Francesca the next several days are going to be critical. The president is trying to get on the road, he's trying to say I've my Mojo back, I am healthy, I can travel, I can turn the numbers around.

If he doesn't, he runs the risk, because Republicans are worried now they're not only going to lose the White House, but they're going to lose the United States Senate. They're going to lose in key races down ballot across the country. This is Dan Eberhart a Republican Donor and a Trump supporter in an "Associated Press" article over the weekend.

"I hope the polls have it wrong, but republicans need to develop a campaign strategy committed to protecting the Senate at all costs, even if it means sacrificing the Oval Office." Joe Biden already has more money cash on hand than President Trump. He is outspending him on TV ads.

You see in that article the risk, that if Republicans get another five, six days into this and they see the president still tanking in the numbers, will there be a break where Republicans say try to save the Senate, redirect resources, break from the president on policy, and so on.

CHAMBERS: Well, the strategy of the Trump Campaign so far has been to campaign heavily in those states that have competitive Senate races and hope to try to pull those candidates like Senator Tillis in North Carolina or Senator McSally in Arizona across the finish line with the president.

But of course, that would require the president to also come across the finish line first in those states, but that's how the Trump Campaign has been approaching that strategy in those battleground states and part of the reason why you see some of the focus on them from the Trump Campaign.

KING: Right. And you hear even just Lindsey Graham this morning starting the Supreme Court hearings talking about how serious the COVID crisis is in America that is not what you hear from the man at top of the ticket, President Trump, Francesca Chambers and Kaitlan Collins, grateful for the live reporting and insights there.

Now to Capitol Hill and high tension this morning over the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Republicans spending much of the morning defending their fast track confirmation process.

Democrats using their time to paint Judge Barrett as a potential vote to undo decades of progressive progress, including on issues like Abortion Rights and the Affordable Care Act. Let's get straight up to Capitol Hill and CNN's Phil Mattingly. Phil both sides planting their flags, any surprises yet today?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, not really, John. And I think that's kind of the expectation for the first day which for all instance and purposes is like the longest pregame warm-up before a sporting event ever. If you're wondering did I miss all of the question and answer, the short answer is no, you didn't. That's not the point of today.

Today is opening statements, its opening statements by all 22 Senators on the Committee and it's the opening statement by Judge Amy Coney Barrett which we have gotten a look at. I think what you've seen and what the first day of these Supreme Court hearings provides is a window into what's coming next? As you noted, Republicans making very clear, they think Amy Coney Barrett is extremely well qualified.


MATTINGLY: Defending Amy Coney Barrett from any potential religious attacks that they felt she faced her first time up in 2017 when she was a circuit court nominee. Also making very clear that they believe that this nomination at this point in time regardless of concerns about the process is essentially inevitable, their confirmation. They have made clear they believe they have the votes.

But I think the interesting element here John is what Democrats have been doing? They have been extremely in line on how they have been doing things? They have been telling personal stories with poster board up behind them about the Affordable Care Act, making clear that this is all about health care for them, acknowledging that they don't have a lot that they can do to actually stop this nomination, so long as Republicans stick together.

But that health care and the issues of the Affordable Care Act which will come before the Supreme Court just a few days after the election. The fact that the trump administration has joined on to that lawsuit, the fact that Amy Coney Barrett could be voting on that lawsuit when it comes to the Supreme Court.

All of these are the issues that they want to talk about, not to sink the nomination necessarily, but to kind of bring this and make it a public issue particularly in the middle of the campaign season. And I'll tell you John just over the course of the last 20 minutes, they've gotten at least one person's attention and that's the President of the United States.

Who in the last 20 minutes, as we know he had been watching the hearing earlier today based on twitter, was tweeting twice. Once and I'm not going to read it for you, because he is shouting in all caps. But we're trying to make the point to Republicans where health care has been a weak issue for them over the course of the last several cycles that they have a plan.

And the first tweet saying, we will have health care far better than Obamacare. At second tweet surely thereafter saying Republicans must state loudly and clearly that we are going to provide much better health care at a lower cost.

This is thrilling Democrats who want the president to engage on this. Because they can point to the fact he has joined a lawsuit to dismantle the law. And at this point in time, as you noted earlier, the White House does not currently have the health care plan.

So question and answer session tomorrow that will be the most interesting parts of these hearings. No doubt about it. But it's very interesting to watch the strategy of both sides and who they resonate with so far?

KING: Yes, if he wants to debate this issue, he should debate the guy in the mirror who had a Republican Congress for the first two years of his term, and failed to repeal and replace as he promised. His fight is with himself. Phil Mattingly, I appreciate the important reporting live at Capitol Hill. Up next for us, the Coronavirus numbers, despite what the president tells you are heading in the wrong direction across most of the country.



KING: It is disappearing; those are the words of the President of the United States when it comes to the Coronavirus. Now the numbers that tell us something completely different from what the president tells you. If you look here at the 50- state trend map right now, orange and red are bad.

You see all that orange and red. 31 of the 50 states reporting more new infections now compared to a week ago. 31 states. You see essentially the whole northern half of the country with just a couple of exceptions, other states as well. 31 states trending up right now.

As the president says, we've turned the final corner. 16 states holding steady. Only three states reporting fewer new infections right now compared to a week ago, they are the green states on the map, 31 trending in the wrong direction.

With higher cases comes traditionally, sadly more deaths. 21 states right now reporting more deaths this week compared to the data one week ago. 12 states holding steady. 17 states trending down. The projections or the death count will start to go back up at the moment; we'll show you the numbers in a minute. That is not the case, but 21 states reporting more deaths right now. You see the swathe of the big jumps in these states right through here, the deeper red.

Positivity rate is what tells you that, one number; you have more cases today and the likelihood of more cases tomorrow because of positivity. The deeper the color, the higher the rate. 23 percent in Idaho, 23 percent South Dakota, 18 percent, Iowa, 16 percent Kansan, 20 percent Wisconsin, high positivity.

Again in a lot of the states particularly, they are going through the cold earlier than the southern part of the country, a high positivity rate which just tells you more cases today, more tomorrow, community spread when the numbers are quite that high.

Here's the case trend line in the United States. And again the president says it is disappearing, active voice. No, it is climbing right now. We are going back up, not down right now. Saturday, 54,000 cases, on Sunday that dropped to 44,000 cases.

Let's hope it keeps dropping. But on Sundays, the weekends it tends to dip a little bit. We will watch this in the week ahead. But the trend line is what matters. The seven-day moving average going back up.

Here's the worry public health officials have. If from 20,000 you got up close to 70,000, what happens if you start at 40,000 and start heading back up? That is the worry of public health officials as it gets colder. The death trend line right now as I noted is down. Plateaued down here, 398 deaths yesterday. Everyone is horrific. But 398 lower than what we saw back in August and September.

The question is can you keep it here as the case count goes up? That is one of the big challenges. This is also a number we're talking about again; it's been months, but hospitalizations. Look, summer surge, came down, hospitalizations nationally starting to trickle up a little bit.

And if you look at states right here, nine states had record hospitalizations. Nine states with record hospitalizations on Sunday, including my colleague Poppy Harlow talking earlier today to a Health Care Administrator in North Dakota who says, she's simply overwhelmed. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RENAE MOCH, DIRECTOR, BISMARCK-BURLEIGH PUBLIC HEALTH: Right now, our hospitals have less than 20 beds available across the state in North Dakota. We have some hospitals in very rural areas that are having difficulty meeting the demand and having to send patients to different areas across the state of North Dakota and even had to send out of state at some point to Sioux Falls and also Billings, Montana.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: To send people out of the State of North Dakota because you don't have enough resources to take care of them.

MOCH: That's correct.


KING: Sad to listen to that. Joining us, CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Celine Gounder, she is the Former New York City Assistant Commissioner of Health, and Host of the Epidemic Podcast. To hear that, Dr. Gounder it's a flashback to earlier in this crisis, months and months ago when we thought maybe there would be a plan in place to help all states deal with this.


KING: But North Dakota is among states with record hospitalizations and yet, listen to the President of the United States. He says that we've got this wrong


TRUMP: Through the power of the American spirit, I think more than anything else, science, medicine will eradicate the China virus once and for all, we'll get rid of it all over the world, it's going to disappear, and it is disappearing.


KING: It is not disappearing. And yet we hear that from the president. Instead at any detailed plan from the administration about how to deal with what is unmistakably a fall spike right now?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: John, we are seeing an increase in particular in the upper Midwest and the Rocky Mountain States right now. And that's concerning, because these are areas that have fewer health care facilities, fewer doctors and nurses.

And so, they're very quick to get overwhelmed. But it's not just about those rural parts of the country. Here in New York City where we were hit really hard in March and April, cases are on the rise, hospitalizations are on the rise.

And just over the weekend, I was touching base with some of my colleagues around the country. And many of us are still in rationing mode with respect to personal protective equipment. We haven't learned the lessons from the spring. I literally have been using the same face shield since March. We still get three N95 mask at the hospital per week, and those are meant to be single use masks.

KING: That is sad to hear that, again in the context of when the president speaks about Coronavirus, he says he is fine, he is going out on the road and it is disappearing. Not here is what the administration is going to do to help you deal with this next wave if that's what it is? And to that point, the IHME, the University of Washington has a projection.

Now I was just noting one of the good, I'm going to use the term good, I don't like the term good, because any death is a sad death, the numbers have been down recently. But the IHME projects that we will get to 394,693 deaths, projected deaths by February 1st.

You see the 214,000 where we are right now, just shy of 215,000. That would be a much higher daily average. Do you see that as inevitable now that we see the case counts spiking up at around 50,000 new infections a day?

DR. GOUNDER: Well, a lot of this is being driven by the rate at which things are increasing and will health care systems be overwhelmed? Right now, we're at about 50,000 new cases per day. IHME is predicting 300,000 new cases by the end of December per day. 300,000 cases per day.

And so, even if there have been attempts at least in some parts of the country to maybe scale up health care capacity, that's still woefully under prepared in terms of staffing, hospital beds and just basic personal protective equipment. When health systems are overwhelmed, death rates shoot up.

KING: Well, the President of the United States instead of speaking to the issues you have just raised that is hitting back on the road today. And he says his doctors have said he is fine. This is from Dr. Sean Conley, the president's physician.

In addition to President meeting CDC criteria for the safe discontinuation of isolation, this morning's COVID PCR sample demonstrates by currently recognized standards, he is no longer considered a transmission risk to others.

That's what Dr. Conley says, he raises some questions here, more than he answers them. The president tweeting out a total and complete signoff from White House doctors yesterday that means, I can't get it, immune, and can't give it. Very nice to know. Is the president immune?

DR. GOUNDER: The very short answer to that is no, we have no data to show that the president is immune. We're not even sure if anybody is truly immune, and if so, how to best measure that and how long that lasts?

The only measure that's been recorded of any kind of immunity with respect to the president is his antibody levels. He was treated with antibodies. So of course you're going to see positive antibody results. Those are the antibodies he was given by Regeneron.

KING: Dr. Gounder, grateful for your insights as always, I wish I didn't have to hear those answers after month's later still about PPE, about hospitals overwhelmed. Appreciate your joining us to help us understand these facts. Up next for us, Iowa one of the many states where Republicans are worried the president struggles will hurt Republican candidates from the Senate and down ballot.



KING: President Trump is off to Iowa later this week for a rally. And the state is now very key not only to his comeback strategy, but to Republican hopes for holding on to the United States Senate. The fear is the president's struggles will affect Republicans all the way down the ticket, including the incumbent Senator in Iowa CNN's Senior Washington Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny in Des Moines with more on this dynamic, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John, there's no question, the president's travel schedule this week and beyond speaks volumes about the campaign strategy and the challenges they're facing.

One month or so ago, no one would have expected that Iowa would indeed be competitive. But that is where we find ourselves. The state hit hard by Coronavirus as well, not just the presidential campaign is a play as you said, Senator Joanie Ernst also is in a very tight race.


SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): So folks, is it a tough election cycle or what?


ZELENY: Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is feeling the October heat.


ERNST: It is a tough, tough, tough year. But you know what? I'm going to finish first.