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Trump Heads To Iowa For Campaign Rally Wednesday; NFL: No New Positive COVID Tests Today For Patriots, Titans; Early In-Person Voting Begins Today In Georgia. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 12, 2020 - 12:30   ET




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

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is feeling the October heat?

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

ZELENY (voice-over): Yet her reelection is not entirely in her control with Republican fortunes tied to President Trump.

MARK MCALLISTER, IOWA VOTER: That's the real terror of this all is that Trump takes down the whole ticket, the whole Republican side of the Senate.

ZELENY (voice-over): Mark McAllister voted for Trump four years ago. He said he won't do so again.

MCALLISTER: I think he has been extremely divisive to our people. I think he's, I mean, I use the word despicable. And I do think he's despicable.

ZELENY (voice-over): Despicable.


ZELENY (voice-over): In Iowa, we're Trump one by nine percentage points, polls now show he's locked in a tight race with Joe Biden. Republican officials are nervously watching the suburbs here, as the President shaky support threatens the GOP Senate Majority and Ernst, a once rising party star.

KATIE NASET, IOWA VOTER: In many ways she's been a disappointment. She's not been a leader. She's basically parroted what the Trump administration has told her to, to project.

ZELENY (voice-over): We caught up with Ernst in that weekend campaign motorcycle ride (on camera): Senator, is President Trump complicating your race?

ERNST: No, I would say I'm running my own race.

ZELENY: But you are tied to him, which is beneficial, obviously, in some parts of Iowa. But what about the suburb, does that complicate your path there?

ERNST: I think again, in the suburbs. I've met with suburban women. They're really concerned about law and order that that type of issue and that actually is an issue that draws them closer to the President.

ZELENY (voice-over): That is unclear.


ZELENY (voice-over): Her Democratic opponent, Theresa Greenfield believes other issues are more pressing.

GREENFIELD: And I will tell you healthcare is number one, and certainly during COVID that is elevated that conversation and that very difficult health pandemic coupled with economic crisis. You know, Iowans are concerned for sure.

ZELENY (voice-over): The question is whether Trump standing lifts or sinks the ticket in a state he's suddenly fighting to defend.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we're going to win the great state of Iowa. And it's going to be a historic landslide.

ZELENY (voice-over): Trump won 93 of Iowa's 99 counties, including 31 that twice voted for President Obama. Jasper County, once home to the Maytag Company is one of them.


ZELENY (voice-over): Thad Nearmyer, the Republican County Chairman wasn't initially sold on Trump before he was elected. But now he deeply believes in him and thinks the Trump base is growing.

NEARMYER: I used to think, well, he done it this time, but he always seems like he overcomes that. So I don't even worry about him anymore. What we care about his results.

ZELENY (voice-over): His Democratic counterpart, Michelle Smith, said too many Democrats were not inspired to vote four years ago, which she said won't happen this time.

MICHELLE SMITH, CHAIR, JASPER COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY: The one's I know that didn't vote are going to vote for Joe Biden this time because they realize by not voting, what we've had to endure the last three and a half years.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZELENY: And that is the specific type of voter that is at play here, John, those voters that may not have turned out four years ago, but are motivated to do so. Now, the Trump campaign believes they have some on their side. The Biden campaign believes though there are many Democrats or at least people who don't like Trump, who will also vote.

But John, there is one question, why aren't some of these Republican senators sort of distancing themselves from the President? In the words of one strategist, that's impossible, because President Trump, even with these problems is still more popular among his base. And Senator Ernst and other Republican senators certainly need Trump voters as well, John?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Jeff Zeleny on the ground for us in Iowa, the state that begins the campaign is going to be a big part of how we ended too. We will learn a lot from Iowa. Jeff, thank you so much for that great report.

The mayor of Des Moines worried right now the President's Wednesday rally could turn into a super spreader event. The mayor of Frank County, asking anyone who goes to that rally to please protect themselves with a mask and to distance as well as you can. The Trump campaign says it will hand out masks and will do temperature checks before that event and an airplane hanger. Iowa has seen cases rise recently more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections reported just on Saturday.


Up next for us, also a coronavirus related story now forcing the NFL to postpone more games.


KING: The National Football League reporting this morning that the latest round of test shows no new additional COVID cases on the New England Patriots or the Tennessee Titans. Both teams have had cases over the past few weeks. And because of those cases, tonight's game between the Patriots and the Denver Broncos has been delayed a week. That delay then forcing a cascade of schedule changes within the NFL. All of this raises the question of whether the NFL season can continue safely.

Joining me now to discuss Dr. Myron Rolle, he's a neurosurgery resident at Harvard in the Massachusetts General Hospital, also a former NFL player. Dr. Rolle, it's good to see you again. You can see the tensions fraying here among your former friends and colleagues in the league. You work now in my hometown, Boston, I saw Jason McCourty of the Patriots talking this past week being mad not only at the League, but also at the Players Union saying there seems to be a priority of getting the players get on a plane, go play the game. He seems to think their safety is being shoved aside, do you believe that?

DR. MYRON ROLLE, NEUROSURGERY RESIDENT, HARVARD MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Thanks for having me. I do believe in. And Jason is a good friend of mine. We actually played together with the Tennessee Titans. So we stay in constant context. But these players are very concerned initially when the pseudo bubble was happening where players went from their hotel to the training facility during training camp, and all the variables were sort of controlled and they felt comfortable about playing the sport. And that's why many of them do not opt out.


But now when you open the exposure of traveling, planes, buses, going to different cities, and now when you have a player test positive or a staff member, test positive, and the whole routine of the week gets disrupted where facilities are shut down, and games are being pushed back. It really knocks players out of their rhythm. And it lets you know that the League is more interested in the product, getting that business of football going rather than player safety. So I wholeheartedly agree with Jason. And his sentiments are certainly not unique in this aspect amongst players around the League.

KING: You mentioned the pseudo bubble. We watched the NBA championship last night, the Lakers winning the championship. The NBA obviously put took their teams into the Disney bubble in Orlando. And they didn't have to travel once they were in, you could have a testing regimen with everyone in the same place. The travel is what makes this complicated, but so too does the culture. I want to listen here. This is Vic Fangio, the Denver Broncos head coach. He says in a weird way, I'm kind of happy to see some of this stuff happen because you see who the whiners are and who can't handle adversity. And I'm going to try hard that the Denver Broncos don't fall into any of those categories.

A head coach in the National Football League in the middle of the pandemic essentially telling guys, hey, toughen up.

ROLLE: Yes. I think that's wrong and misguided, certainly. And we've seen that sort of mindset, that ideology permeate his way through the NFL for a long time, even as it relates to something that I'm particularly interested in as a neurosurgery resident, traumatic brain injury, toughen up, you just got your bell rung, you just seen stars a little bit, get back out there and play. And we see the deleterious long term outcomes and effects of traumatic brain injury and repetitive concussions.

And this, a pandemic that's not truly controlled on a global level, let alone a national level here in the United States, to have that sort of mindset is the wrong leadership and sends the wrong message to players who were very concerned not only for themselves, but their families as well.

KING: Do you see this reaching a breaking point you had, I think, eight different games had to be rescheduled because of the, you know, after the Patriots testing and they'll keep the Broncos game on track. You see the frustrations of Jason McCourty just one of them. You see so far, if you go back to August 1st and October 31, players have tested positive, 53 other personnel in the League. Do you think we're at a breaking point here? Or do you think that they'll be able to keep this together and stay on the field? ROLLE: I do think we're at a breaking point right now. And if I was advising the NFL, I'd say it's time to pause, take a second, realign and readjust your priorities and how you want to have the season go forward with any more without any more disruptions, right? Every week, it seems like a new staff member, a new player gets infected, the games have to be postponed, schedules have to be realigned, I think the NFL if they are serious about this, it's going to take a lot of investment, and a lot of organizational capacity collating different ideas and developing infrastructure.

But if they're serious about this, get independent people who are not connected to the NFL emotionally or financially and say, look, we have public health, player safety, population health as a premium and as our main priority. And we put this season together in a way where we really protect our individuals. Because if the NFL wants to be consistent with their message, that the players are not a commodity, and they're not here just to produce and produce and produce for consumerism, and to get ratings and to get viewership up, then they need to be consistent in this aspect too.

And as a medical professional, someone who's taking care of COVID patients, I and my other colleagues, we all feel sort of the same way. And we want the players to have a voice and we want them to be protected through all of this. It's imperative.

KING: Dr. Rolle, as always, grateful for your expertise and insights. Appreciate it.


Up next for us, early voting begins today in Georgia.


KING: Take a look here right now, live pictures This is Decatur, Georgia, voters in line, long lines waiting to cast their ballot today. It's the first day of in person early voting in Georgia that a shot from a CNN drone, the line we were looking at it during the break it stretches around the corner and on and on and on admirable, people waiting for all of that right there. This early voting comes as courts weigh in now in some key voting litigation in this final stretch to Election Day.

CNN's Kristen Holmes joins me now. Kristen, there've been a couple of key rulings over the weekend in some of the big battleground states.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right in a couple of big losses for Republicans and the Trump campaign. So let's start in Minnesota, we saw there was a federal judge upholding an absentee ballot extension. So, just to give a little bit of context here, traditionally, in that state, a ballot, in order to be counted must be received by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, because of the pandemic, the unprecedented amount of mail-in ballots, the Secretary of State extended that to seven days beyond Election Day, as long as the ballot was postmarked on Election Day or before. Republicans had tried to bring that to court. A federal judge shot that down and kept that in place. And the kicker, John, here is that that judge was appointed to the bench by President Trump as was the judge who issued an enormous blow to the campaign and Republicans in Pennsylvania. Now this is a huge decision because it's going to shape how voters in this key swing state cast their ballots on and around Election Day.

So let's talk a little bit about what was at stake in Pennsylvania. The judge throwing this out and essentially saying at this point that he was going to decline limiting drop boxes he was not going to have stricter rules on signatures. As well as they wanted poll watchers as a law in Pennsylvania that you can only serve in the district or county that they vote in. They wanted to overrule that. Now, the judge throws this out.


And this is what he argues for them. He essentially says that this is not fraud. You didn't argue that. So let me pull it up for you. It says, while, the Trump campaign may not need to prove actual voter fraud, they must at least prove that such fraud is certainly impending. They haven't met that burden at most. They have pieced together a sequence of uncertain assumptions.

And again, John, this was written by a judge who was appointed to the bench by President Trump. So any sort of argument that he was politically motivated, that's going to be a really hard sell.

KING: And will be a hard sell. And it's going to be fascinating as we watch these cases trickled that way from District Court up and beyond. Kristen Holmes, grateful you're keeping track of all of this for us, so again, into these very interesting next three weeks and potentially beyond.

Up next for us, a global look new coronavirus hotspots emerging across Europe.



KING: United Kingdom now preparing to implement new restrictions as it faces a spike in coronavirus cases.

CNN's Nic Robertson kicks off our reporting from around the globe.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I'm Nic Robertson in London where the British Prime Minister has rolled out a new three tiered system for combating COVID in England. There is a medium level, a high level, and a very high level.

The Prime Minister said this is necessary to simplify the existing systems. He said it's necessary because the country is not doing enough to combat COVID-19 right now. He said over the past three weeks, infections have gone up fourfold. He said the current, our number is between 1.2 and 1.5. We know that if you're in the most extreme area of the country that means pubs will be closed, casinos will be closed, gyms will be closed. In the medium level, which is most of the country, pubs will continue to close at 10:00 as they have been recently. And people can meet in groups of six indoors and outdoors.

And in the other part of the country that high level, people will be able to meet in groups of six outdoors only. The Prime Minister faces a tough job ahead convincing many councils in the north of the country in particularly to come on board with his new plans.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Scott McLean in Berlin where almost all large cities in this country are now considered coronavirus hotspots. Stuttgart has even called in the military for help. Berlin is the hottest of the hotspots. This past weekend, restaurants and bars were forced to close early in response to a recent spike in cases. Today is also the beginning of the fall break where schools are out for two weeks primetime for families to go on vacation but even vacations within the country are proving difficult, especially for people coming from coronavirus hotspots like Berlin.

Each German state has its own separate rules for who can come in and who can stay. Many requiring a negative coronavirus test within 48 hours of checking into a hotel, others require that negative test and a quarantine period of up to two weeks on top of that. The German health minister last week warned of the potential for uncontrolled spread of the virus.

But today officials seem to make clear that a second national lockdown is not so far on the horizon. The priority for this government right now is to get the economy restarted and to keep schools open.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matt Rivers in Mexico City. For the first time since this pandemic began, the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have now recorded more than 10 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus combined. Roughly half of those are found in Brazil with more than 5 million cases there and counting, followed by Colombia, Argentina, Peru, and then here in Mexico.

Now take a look at this graph. This shows you the seven day moving average of newly confirmed cases across the region. And you can see that that number really hasn't stayed below 60,000 new cases a day consistently for some time. Now it's part of the reason why the Pan American Health Organization says they continue to be concerned about outbreaks in the region, including new spikes in places that had effectively managed their outbreaks, places like Cuba and Jamaica.

A bit of good news though, with the Pan American Health Organization saying that rates of severe COVID illness have fallen which means fewer hospitalizations and less intensive care required.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm David Culver in Beijing where China's focus is on a cluster outbreak in the northeastern city of Qingdao. While mid Monday only about a handful of COVID-19 cases were officially reported. The concern here is that this might be the start of several outbreaks following Golden Week.

The holiday period wrapped up late last week and had millions of people traveling across this country. Officials in Qingdao have already launched mass testing in the city of roughly 9 million residents so as to stop the spread. The Health Commission says they've already tested more than 100,000.

Meantime in South Korea, officials they are easing social distancing measures, both indoor and outdoor locations are lifting restrictions on the number of people allowed, the exception being bars and clubs which will still have to limit some of their capacity. And high risk parts of the capital, Seoul, strict measures will remain. And face masks are mandatory in crowded spaces.

In fact, starting November 13th, if you do not wear one, you're going to pay a fine roughly $87.



KING: See you tomorrow.