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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
President Joe Biden Sticking With August 31st Afghanistan Deadline, But Wants Contingency Plans If Necessary. Tempers Flare Over Mask Mandates In Schools; Can Pfizer's Full FDA Approval Sway Holdouts?; Biden Congratulates House Dems For Passing $3.5 Trillion Budget Resolution. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired August 24, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: I'm Kate Bolduan. AC360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Tonight, a live update on the accelerating race to evacuate Americans, European allies, and allied Afghans from Kabul.
Today, President Biden said that as of this afternoon, more than 70,000 people have been airlifted out in just the last 10 days. That is an extraordinary number and a far cry from how this began in utter chaos.
By the same token, it's also just seven days from the President's self-imposed deadline, which he recommitted to this evening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are currently on pace to finish by August the 31st. The sooner we can finish the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops.
But the completion by August 31st depends upon the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport for those who we are transporting out, and no disruptions to our operation.
In addition, I've asked The Pentagon and the State Department for contingency plans to adjust the timetable should that become necessary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As for what would make that necessary to stay longer, the President did not elaborate. He did however, warn that each additional day on the ground increases the risk to Americans and American forces, as well as civilians, especially from ISIS-K militants, which he said are targeting the airport.
He did not, however, address the Taliban's announcement today that it was blocking Afghans wanting to flee from actually getting to the airport cutting off the road, nor did he do what a number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle wanted, he did not commit to staying until they can all get out.
The President also chose not to say how many Americans remain instead saying that Secretary of State Blinken will provide that information tomorrow. Separately, an administration official said that the number -- excuse me -- that the number when the evacuation began was quote, "probably lower" than most people believe because quote, "a lot left in the final few weeks."
We also learned late today that even as the race to get others out goes on, the pullout of American troops has already begun. A Defense official telling CNN this isn't affecting the mission, that official adding that the local commander can decide which personnel are no longer required based on the number of gates open at the airport, the number of people coming through, and a number of other factors.
More now from Kaitlan Collins who joins us from the White House. So, do you know what went on behind the scenes that led to this decision by the President?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, there were very few people internally advocating for an extension of this deadline to get all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.
The number one concern with that is what could happen to those U.S. troops while they are on the ground, given that presence is going to get a lot smaller than the thousands of troops that it is there right now as this draw down, and they're trying to meet this deadline a week from today, essentially.
And President Biden said today, he thinks the longer those U.S. troops stay there, the higher the threat of a potential terrorist attack by a ISIS-K, by another organization becomes, and so that was really the driving force behind President Biden wanting to still meet this August 31st deadline.
They are also worried about losing the cooperation of the Taliban, which seems surprising, but that is what has been so critical to getting those 70,000 people that you were talking about out because they are the ones letting them get through the checkpoint, even though a lot of the people going through that checkpoint in days past had been fleeing the Taliban.
Now, that is the attitude that was inside the White House. They did not want to extend this deadline. It certainly is not what we've heard from some world leaders, including some of the ones that President Biden spoke with today or even some Democratic lawmakers, Democrats like Jason Crow, a former Army Ranger, who says he doesn't think this is enough time to get those Afghan allies who helped the U.S. out in time. He just thinks it's enough time to get Americans out, which of course, we know, is the President's number one priority.
COOPER: What are you learning about the people who might be left behind?
COLLINS: Well, there are these Afghan allies who worked alongside U.S. troops for the better part of two decades. I think that's why you've seen such impassioned statements from people like Jason Crow, saying it's not enough time.
And I think the concern is that, yes, we have the deadline of seven days from now of when the U.S. is going to be out of Afghanistan, but Jen Psaki confirmed today, the actual deadline of when those evacuations are going to start is actually much sooner than that, because they've got a period where they can continue these evacuations, then they have to start on the thousands of troops that are still there, the machinery, the weaponry that's still there and that's going to be a process that we're hearing from The Pentagon could likely take several days.
And so I think that's a factor in it. It's a question about once those U.S. troops are out, is anyone else going to get out? Because that seems to be a massive concern for a lot of these lawmakers about what it's going to look like once the U.S. is gone, if any Afghan allies will be able to get out of that.
Because Anderson, we still don't even know who's going to be running the airport in Kabul once the U.S. has finished their mission there starting on August 31st. So, a lot of big questions still facing the White House in these last seven days.
COOPER: Yes, the plan before the Taliban took over was that Turkey would maintain troops to keep the airport open. Obviously, it's unclear to me if that is going to continue. It probably -- it seems highly unlikely at this point.
COOPER: But I think you made an important point that hasn't gotten a lot of attention that just getting the U.S. troops who are currently at the airport and the equipment. I mean, there's helicopters, there are, you know, vehicles, getting that equipment out, that may take days.
COLLINS: Right, and the threat gets higher the fewer troops are there. That's a big concern for the White House, and they are also worried a sense of panic could set in among the Afghans who are still there and see that window for getting out closing as they know the United States is leaving.
And so I think it could be a precarious few days here. And so it's -- you know, getting about 6,000 troops out of there, getting all of their machinery and weaponry out of there or destroying it because the Taliban has already gotten a lot of weapons from the United States as they overtook Afghanistan, we saw that happen. Maybe it was from the Afghan Security Services or whatnot, that they got this from.
And so what they do with that is also an importantly, critical decision because U.S. officials don't want to see the Taliban having any more weapons from the United States in their hands. And so I think the next few days, there are a lot of critical factors that go into what the end of the U.S.'s time in Kabul is going to look like.
COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Thanks. When we left CNN's Sam Kiley last night, there was a firefight going
on not far from his location at the Kabul Airport. He joins us again from there tonight. What's the reaction been in, you know, among people, you've been talking to, to what President Biden said this afternoon?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm on the airfield at the airport, so this is in a sense, consistent with what they've been planning for, which was an evacuation or withdrawal of all U.S. forces, and the end of the vacuum evacuation by August 31st.
But the atmosphere has cranked up a level because any kind of an extension to that has now been ruled out, particularly in the face of a Taliban announcement today, saying Anderson, saying that no more Afghans can come to the airport. The Afghans are now forbidden by the Taliban to join the evacuation process.
Now, the extent to which they choose to actually directly apply that remains to be seen, but certainly, the numbers of people coming or arriving at the outside -- at the outer perimeter of the airport are significantly lower.
There is a possibility in a sense almost that they will run out here of people to evacuate because there is not enough people able to get here in order to seek evacuation. That said, the numbers as of sunset, last night, we are just before sunrise now, were around 4,000 people still waiting to be evacuated.
But in all probability, those people have probably already been moved through, whether they've been replenished by new people remains to be seen. But the atmosphere is very much soured now because of the Taliban decision to start stopping Afghans from escaping the country. Taliban saying they don't see any needed leave. They basically also fear a brain drain.
And part of it may also have been that they recognized the more people that the U.S. has to evacuate, the less likelihood there is of meeting that deadline, and therefore the greater chance of friction with the United States. They are trying to integrate themselves into the international community -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Sam, from the Taliban perspective, as you said, there is the brain drain aspect, and also, if they want the U.S. out, and one way to get the U.S. out quicker is to cut off the flow of Afghans who are able to actually leave.
KILEY: Yes, I think it's clearly a pretty cynical move. It does trap people in Afghanistan, who might otherwise have been hoping to get out. The process for getting out had become profoundly fraught. There were deaths associated with it, crush deaths, which was also used as a reason why the Taliban was stopping it.
And of course, it's an appalling look for them to come to power amidst a mass exodus of some of the best educated people in the country. It's an appalling political beginning. And they recognize that, I think, and they're trying to prevent it. But ultimately, really, what they're trying to do is bring this chapter to a close, so they can continue with their efforts to try to pacify the country. They've only got 75,000 men under arms. It's a big country, and it's highly fractious -- Anderson.
COOPER: Sam Kiley, appreciate you being there. Thank you.
Perspective now from two people who have been on the policymaking, as well as the operational end of major overseas military operations. Former Obama Defense Secretary and C.I.A. Director Leon Panetta joins us, as well as CNN military analyst, retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling,
Secretary Panetta, do you think sticking to the August 31st timeline is smart?
LEON PANETTA, FORMER OBAMA DEFENSE SECRETARY AND CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I think the President made a point that he obviously is trying to meet that deadline, but he is also asked The Pentagon and the State Department to develop contingency plans, and I think that's important to do because, frankly, we made a promise.
PANETTA: We made a promise to United States citizens who are in Afghanistan, and to the Afghans who fought alongside of us that we would do everything we could to evacuate them. I think we've got to still keep that promise.
COOPER: Gen. Hertling, I mean, from your point of view, does President Biden have a choice to stick to the 31st deadline?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: He doesn't have much of a choice, Anderson, and what I'll tell you is we've talked about NEO a couple of times, the noncombatant evacuation operations that is currently ongoing. There are different phases of a NEO.
You know, the first phase is always dysfunctional and disastrous. The second phase is when things start flowing, and that's what we're in right now and seeing good stuff, especially in a contested NEO, the third and fourth phase are really difficult. The third phase is when the enemy gets a vote, and when they're contesting things and saying, here's what we want you to do, or here's what we're going to force you to do, it becomes problematic.
And then we also will eventually have to talk about that fourth phase, which is the time when the commander on the ground starts turning the rheostat a little bit and talking about what forces he allows to leave, what forces he keeps in defense of the airfield, and what forces he keeps in terms of potential contingency operations, which the President talked about today.
Those are all very sporting propositions, and we're seeing those right now.
But I just go back to the fact right now, the enemy, the Taliban, and others are getting a vote and a commander on the ground and the President has to be wary of that.
COOPER: Secretary Panetta, it's interesting to watch this from afar because it does seem like both the White House and the Taliban are making public pronouncements, too -- I mean, they are kind of sending messages to each other through public pronouncements.
I mean, the President is saying he is developing -- you know, for contingency plans to be developed, that they need to stay longer. It sort of sends a message to the Taliban that, you know, well, there are other options, potentially. And yes, we want to stick to this, but you know, don't push too hard because we have other options.
The Taliban is saying, you know, we're going to cut -- we're cutting off the road. We can stop Afghans from actually getting to the airport that might actually, you know, help the U.S. in terms of reaching the -- sticking to the 31st deadline, because if, you know, in a sick way, because if they cut off and stop Afghans from getting to the airport, then there is going to be nobody to take out other than U.S. citizens and European allies.
PANETTA: Well, look, there's no question that signals are being sent from one side to the other because the reality is that the Taliban is now in control of Afghanistan. And in many ways, whether the Taliban cooperate or not could determine the fate of those U.S. citizens who are remaining, as well as those Afghans who fought alongside of us.
So I understand the need to try to continue to try to coordinate with the Taliban, but the United States is also committed to standing by our word here. And I think we've got to do everything we can to uphold our word to those people that are there.
If we just kind of cut and run and leave them to the Taliban to determine what happens to them, I think that will further undermine our credibility in the world.
COOPER: General Hertling, President Biden said that more than 70,000 people -- that they've helped more than 70,000 people be evacuated from Afghanistan since August 14th. To me, I mean, I'm certainly not an expert on this stuff -- that seems like a pretty remarkably high number of people.
A senior administration official said tonight that a lot of deserving -- their term -- Afghans will be left behind. I'm wondering just -- and you know you've studied this kind of thing, 70,000 in that time, is that a remarkable number?
HERTLING: It is. Remarkable is a great word, Anderson. It is incredible to me, I didn't think it would get to that high of a number. And if the numbers continue to go as they have been over the last couple of days, we could get upwards of 130,000 to 150,000 out. That would be almost magical, in my view.
But the problem is, what we're talking about is the connection between the numbers with the individuals and the SIV applicants and the special evacuees are the ones we're most concerned with. The numbers seem high, I would suggest because many of these SIV applicants are getting through, but they're also bringing a large number of family members.
So, the planning factors in any NEO have to do with, first of all, how many American citizens do you have? The expats? All those kind of things, then you start counting the numbers of others that you have to evacuate from the population.
HERTLING: In my experience with the one NEO that I almost had to execute was, we went in with a planning factor of X, we suddenly found that planning factor quadrupled or quintupled because, you know, one person comes in with 20 family members, and you've just blown your figures out the window.
That rheostat, again, of how many people you take on board and how many you get out is critical, and I think that's what many people are questioning right now, because the President is saying, I'm trying to get all the SIV and the special evacuees out, but they are seeing people on the ground saying, hey, I'm still not at the airport and I'm not getting out. What's going on? So, there's a disconnect.
COOPER: Secretary Panetta, according to the senior administration officials, the C.I.A. Director traveled to Afghanistan this week to meet with a Taliban leader, as the U.S. is seeking, obviously, a clear understanding where the Taliban stands on a number of issues as the clock ticks toward this deadline. That would have been a fascinating meeting to be a fly on the wall for.
I mean, as a former C.I.A. Director, yourself, how does a meeting -- how does something like that go? And how much leverage does the U.S. have?
PANETTA: Well, there's nobody better to send in to that kind of meeting that Bill Burns. He's someone who is probably the most experienced diplomat in the administration and he has had to deal with all kinds of adversaries. So it was a good move to send Bill Burns in to talk to the Taliban.
And when a C.I.A. Director shows up and talks to the Taliban, I think he brings some authority to the table, because the one thing that Taliban does remember very well is the role of the C.I.A. in going after the Taliban.
So, I think Bill had some leverage here. I hope he was able to get them to understand that it is in their interest to cooperate at this point. The last thing they want to do is get into another war with the United States.
COOPER: Secretary Panetta and General Hertling, I appreciate your time. Thank you, both.
Would all the Americans still in Afghanistan be able to evacuate in just a few more days? Coming up, we'll talk to one who just made it out about her ordeal and whether or not she thinks others will be able to do the same. And later with COVID deaths reaching all-time highs, the battle over
mask in Florida schools continues. New polling on what Floridians really think and why it does seem to fly in the face of the Governor's effort to crack down on mask mandates.
COOPER: Even as the evacuation of Afghanistan ramps up for what could be its final seven days, we're starting to hear from Americans who just made it out, people such as Selma Kazemi. She and her mom made it out. They are back in Colorado Springs tonight after safe to say, an ordeal, hiding out from the Taliban and Salma is telling her story.
Salma, you and your mom had gone to Afghanistan in early August to visit family. When did you realize that the Taliban had arrived in Kabul?
SALMA KAZEMI, AMERICAN WHO JUST RETURNED FROM AFGHANISTAN: So right to the day we had landed, there was apparently a news statement that came out that the Taliban were -- wanted everyone who was a citizen to get out of America. So, learning the first day, we were kind of like, I don't know, nervous.
And then it was maybe after two weeks that we realized that they had taken over three cities, which was Herat, and two other ones, and then we noticed that Parwan was really -- they were close to Parwan and like, within the next day, they were already in Kabul.
COOPER: It was incredibly quickly. I mean, I talked to correspondents, you know, a day or two before they got to Kabul, and you know, the thought was, oh, maybe it would be -- there would be a fight or it would be weeks from now.
I know your brother back in Colorado was trying to help get you out. When you realized that the Taliban were already in the city. I mean, what did you do? Did you just stay inside?
KAZEMI: Yes, we were staying inside and we were trying to contact my family. We were trying to get tickets as soon as possible. Tickets were twice the price. And then after a few hours, we found out the airport had completely closed. So, we felt we were completely stuck and had no choice of leaving, we had no other opportunities.
We literally felt hopeless, and that's when my family was freaking out as well and wondering that we probably would never be able to come back home.
COOPER: I think, it was through a brother -- your brother-in-law works at Hewlett Packard, and they were able to get a charter, which you know, which gave you something to aim for to get to the airport. What was it like just trying to get to the airport?
KAZEMI: Yes, it's actually HPE, he works for them and getting to the airport, it was pretty scary. So, we first actually went to the wrong gate, and like we were waiting for hours and so many people were just together. And then after a while we had --
COOPER: By the way was getting to the gate itself -- I mean, getting to the airport, the road, was it -- were you able to just drive there? Because we you know, I know there were Taliban checkpoints.
KAZEMI: Yes. So first of all there were curfews, right? So we had to leave like five in the morning after like, you know, after the curfew was over. We went to the wrong gate, and like I got out of the car to make sure to show them like I have an American passport.
As I walked up, there was laser on me and like they shot at gunfire a little further away to like scare us off. And someone had told us that that gate has not opened for three days.
I was in contact with this guy named Stuart, who was like from the Congress and whatnot, and he called me, he said you need to go to abbey gate. So, we went and headed over to there. And as we were getting closer to abbey gate, there were so many people right around us and there are people just walking up there.
It was pretty easy to get up. But once we got there, there was Taliban lined up against the airport.
COOPER: And we've seen the crowds outside, what was that like to try to manage that?
KAZEMI: Yes. It was so scary. We were scared that they might try to open the car doors and like kind of take our stuff or whatnot. We didn't feel safe going there, but when you have to, when it's necessary, you have to go through it, right?
So, once we got closer to there, we got out of the car and we went up to pass the Taliban, so they actually had stopped us. Once they stopped us, they took a look at my mom's passport and like they saw that we were Americans and they actually let us through.
COOPER: And then what happened?
KAZEMI: We kept walking upwards, and like when we got to the top, you just see a whole crowd of people pushing and like pushing and pulling each other, and like all we could think about is like, is this what we're going to have to go through? Maybe if we tell them that we're citizens, we might be able to go around all these people but no, we had to fight just as much.
Some people had no paperwork. Some people were from Germany and Turkey. We were all in the same mess and there were kids just crying. And they're -- sorry, I'm getting emotional. They were just crying and they're like fainting and there are people all bloody and having strokes and it is probably something I would never expect to see.
COOPER: How long did it take you to -- how long were you in that crowd?
[20:25:03] KAZEMI: We were probably there for about four hours. We were pushing
and pulling and then like I got the attention of one of the British soldiers telling them that we have an e-mail from the Congress and whatnot. We need to get on a charter flight that we might actually miss it.
And so he told me to get closer to the gate and like there was like, barbed wire and like my mom's clothes tore, her hand was bleeding and like we had to help her get above those barbed wires.
COOPER: You finally did get through and I know that whole process of, you know flying out and then not knowing where you're going and where, you know, staying in bunk beds and you know, without a lot of facilities, all of that was extremely taxing and difficult.
The Taliban now say that they've closed the road to the airport for Afghans. Do you think the U.S. will be able to get all its citizens out and Afghans who work for the U.S.?
KAZEMI: If they can try, I don't think it would be through the airport road, they're going to have to probably pick them up in helicopters or something, because it was getting very bad. And from my understanding, there's -- people are coming in every day to try and get past those gates, and those gates are so hard to get through and they might have to find different way.
COOPER: When you finally did -- when you finally did get back to the United States, how are you doing? What was that like?
KAZEMI: Honestly, like, I felt relieved, but I still feel sadness. Like I feel like there's so many people still trapped up there and they are in danger and like, I can't do anything about it. And like, this is why I'm kind of doing this interview. I want to bring awareness to the situation that there's so many people who are stuck and need help.
And like, I feel like no one's doing anything about it like ordering as much as we can, but I feel like there could be done more.
COOPER: Well, Salma, I'm sorry for all you've gone through and I appreciate you talking with us tonight. Thank you.
KAZEMI: Yes, of course. Thank you so much.
COOPER: Well, up next, the battle over mask in Florida schools, what residents there have to say about the Governor's push to not have a mask mandate.
COOPER: Deaths from COVID in Florida are at an all-time high. According to latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University, 212 people died every day last week, which means about one out of every five COVID deaths in America last week was in Florida.
For Governor Ron DeSantis, there is more bad news, at least politically, his opposition to mask mandates doesn't seem to be popular.
According to Quinnipiac University, 60 percent of Florida voters say they support requiring students, teachers, and staff to wear a mask; 36 percent oppose it.
Randi Kaye has more in the vocal, sometimes physical confrontations that have been occurring in Florida and around the nation over masks in schools.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think that we're just going to give this up, but we're not.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In Lake County, Florida, tempers flared over mask mandates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want them to wear masks. It's my kid, it is my choice. My freedom.
KAYE (voice over): Hundreds on both sides of the issue turned out to protest even though masks are still optional in this district. The issue wasn't even on the school board's agenda. But that didn't stop parents from speaking out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really feel as though the only way you're going to get control is to close it down for a month.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my god.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm talking. Shut up.
KAYE (voice-over): In Jacksonville, Florida, more anger over masks.
TESS PERRY, PARENT, AGAINST MASK MANDATE: Your job is to educate my child. That means reading writing, math, a game of dodge ball at PE would be great but not a mask. Not a medical decision, is not your decision to put a medical device on my child.
TIFFANY WOODY, PARENT, FAVORS MASK MANDATE: It seems like a no brainer. A universal mask mandate is the minimum that we can do to keep our children safe.
KAYE (voice-over): After heated debate, the Duval County School Board voted in favor of a 90-day mask mandate for all students. Only those with a note from a licensed healthcare provider can opt out.
In Northern California, the mask debate prompted a 49-year-old father to allegedly assaulted teacher in his child's school. He's now charged with three misdemeanors.
TONIE GIBSON, SUPERINTENDENT, AMADOR COUNTY UNITED SCHOOL DISTRICT: There's a part of me that's not surprised and there's a part of me that just completely shocked. But to everyone's defense, I just think, you know, emotions are really high right now.
KAYE (voice-over): It happened at Sutter Creek Elementary on the first day of school. The district has a mask mandate but parents can opt out with a doctor's note. In Williamson County, Tennessee outside Nashville. Parents clashed at a recent protest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know who you are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know who you are. We know who you are. You can leave freely.
KAYE (voice-over): It got so heated, police stepped in. In the end, the Board of Ed approved a temporary mask requirement.
And in Pinellas County, Florida where masks are still optional, parents sounded off at today's school board meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, it's our choice. It's our choice. We want it to be our choice. I don't care if any of these people wear masks. I don't care if their kids wear masks. We're pulling our kids out. We don't want any of these decisions to be made for us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most masks do not cover the face properly to prevent COVID-19, (INAUDIBLE) come on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The speaker to follow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you. You're finished. You are finished. Thank you. Time's up. Let's move on. Next speaker. Don't make me ask -- don't make me ask you to be removed.
KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Let's get perspective from Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University. Dr. Marty is also medical taskforce member for the Miami Dade public school system.
So Dr. Marty according to CNN analysis, there have been more than 14,000 COVID cases, nearly 30,000 people quarantine among Florida's largest school districts since the start of the school year, given those numbers, what's your reaction to these the mask wars and the governor telling districts, you know, they aren't allowed to opt out.
AILEEN MARTY, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: Quite frankly, the entire thing breaks my heart. We're doing everything we can to stop transmission of this horrific virus. And the governor and everyone else, all leaders should be working with us to do everything possible to slow down transmission. If there's a concern about masks, being clean, remember, we have to change our underwear every day, we have to take baths every day, you change these things, you make sure that what you're using is appropriate that it fits, that it's comfortable and that it works.
And when you do it that way, when you do things properly, you're going to have a reduction in transmission. This is well known, that's why we use masks in hospitals and have done for tens of years. I mean, it's really known to be an effective control method. And the fact that it's been turned into something emotional instead of rational, and a good understanding of the science simply breaks my heart because what we're seeing is outrageous numbers of people in our hospitals right now. We're running out of oxygen. We're running out of staff, we've had to hire people from the outside already to make up hundreds of people have had to be hired to come into our hospitals. We're placing patients --
MARTY: -- in look, they're unusual. It's terrible.
COOPER: Let me ask you, do you think from a medical -- from a medical standpoint, really just on a medical standpoint, kids above the age of 12, should there be mandatory vaccinations for them to go to school? Should teachers have mandatory vaccinations?
MARTY: Well, we have a proud tradition in Florida of demanding vaccinations for people to go to school. And we've done very well with that in previous years. Here now we have a fully licensed vaccine that is among the safest and most efficacious that has ever been developed of any vaccine. And I think Florida ought to follow its own tradition and absolutely mandate vaccines for all eligible individuals, particularly in settings where people are going to be close together in indoor spaces as they are in schools.
COOPER: Let me about the polling that we mentioned, it doesn't reflect what you've experienced, I mean, for example, 63% of Floridians, according this poll said they consider the issue of wearing masks to be about public health, not personal freedom, 64% say they believe wearing a mask or face covering is effective and slowing the spread. Have you seen masks used to increase since the rise in cases because the Delta surge?
MARTY: So it's mixed in different places. We're not seeing as much use of masks as really ought to be happening, which is, and this is contributing to the problems that we're seeing in our hospitals. But there has been a little bit of improvement, not as much as there ought to be. But I will tell you that every day I receive grateful parents sending me letters saying keep it up, please. We need our children to be safe in schools. And they're right, that we need our children to be able to go to school and be safe. And there's many things that are mandated by the government that have always been mandated that are appropriate to mandate in schools. You don't go make it.
MARTY: And right now you're going to be going to school without a mask.
COOPER: Dr. Aileen Marty, I appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up next, the Pfizer vaccine now has full FDA approval as you know. So the question is, will people who were holding out finally roll up their sleeves or what percentage of them? A top political pollster share some new information with this next.
COOPER: There's new polling out tonight from pollster Frank Luntz on COVID the morning console poll conducted among more than 900 unvaccinated people found that nearly 40% would get the vaccine if one got FDA approval and that just happened yesterday with Pfizer is that vaccine. But for some of the faithful who attended a rally over the weekend where the former president spoke and received some booes when he said he had in fact received the vaccine encouraged others to it may be a bridge too far.
Here's what some rally goers told CNN's Donie O'Sullivan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Have you got your vaccine shot?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. That won't it.
O'SULLIVAN: No? Why not?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They ain't tested it enough, for my opinion.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Yes. The Pfizer shots is about to get full FDA approval, would that change your opinion not at all?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not sure they do a whole lot more investigate me now.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing's going in me until the end.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Right. Do you think that would take a long time --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About 10 years or so.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I watch Prophets of God in Newsmax and maybe a little (INAUDIBLE). That's better at.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Right. That's (INAUDIBLE) -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I've kind of turned away from news. I don't
want to listen to it. I want to listen to what God's saying, what He's fixing to do. That's all I'm concerned about.
I think it is time where God is separating the sheep from the goats. You know.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): What are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am a -- I'm a goat because I ain't a sheep. I'm not doing what I tell me to do. I'm fighting against it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Frank Luntz joins me now. Frank, you do, you know, focus groups polling, you must get a lot -- you must hear a lot of folks with opinions like that.
FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER & POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And it used to break my heart. And now it just breaks my brain. It causes my head to explode because I know how dangerous the COVID is, and the Delta variant. And I know how much more dangerous that is in the vaccine. But the key moment, and this is a key moment, right now we've got about 30 days. Number one, the Delta variant the public knows it, understands it, finds it more serious than COVID. Number two, our kids are going back to school right now and over the next 30 days, and everybody wants to keep the children safe. And number three, the FDA full approval, which is the number one factoid, the number one truth points that the public has been looking for. Those three combined means that over the next 30 days, this is we're going to have the biggest impact and getting people vaccinated.
The good news is that those three together will convince about half of those who have not been vaccinated to get the jab. Here's the bad news Anderson, it means that when we are done, we can project that will reach about 75% vaccinated, 75% with towards herd and I'm not a scientist, not a medical expert. I know that the numbers should be 85%. So it makes me nervous that we'll never going to get there.
COOPER: You've made the point in the past that parents you polled on this issue who don't want their child to wear a mask, think they are actually protecting their child. So, when it comes to the vaccine, is it the same thing? I mean, do people think they're protecting themselves by not getting the vaccine? Or I guess the argument would be they're protecting themselves because they don't trust the vaccine or the government or just don't want it?
LUNTZ: Well, you just got it right there said 55% of those who have not been vaccinated, which represents almost half the country, don't trust the government. And so when you have Anthony Fauci making the case, he's not a doctor to them. He's not a scientist to them. He's a bureaucrat, or even worse, inconsistent flip flopping. Anderson, I try to do a straightforward approach on your show. And I'm grateful for the time that you provide. In the end, it's going to be pediatricians, who are going to make the difference for kids in school, is going to be scientists who emphasize that now the FDA has made the decision. And in the end, we need to pull people who know individuals who've not been vaccinated, if you want to get everyone safe. If you want to make everyone comply. It's not going to come from television news. It's not going to come from efforts from the government or advertising. It's now got to come from people that you know. We need pharmacists, medical experts, I want to get a pediatrician in every school. In fact, if your pediatrician right, you should be getting in touch with your show. (INAUDIBLE) need to adopt a school. Parents will trust pediatrician, so will the kids. That's how you get people vaccinated in this environment that we live in.
COOPER: I want to dig a little deeper into some of your polling you just touched on it a little bit. You ask people which statement would make them most likely to be vaccinated, 22% of people polled said that the Delta variant making up 90% of cases. Another 20% said the Delta variant being twice as contagious would make them most likely to be vaccinated. The Delta variant, I mean, you said that this is one of the main factors moving the needle so far.
LUNTZ: It's correct, but what moves the needle even more is the FDA final approval. And that's what we need to be talking about. In fact, I'll give you the language, the FDA has a responsibility to provide the American people with the facts and the truth and Anderson that's the phrase they're looking for right now. They want no exception, no excuses. Our job is to save lives. That is our only mission, that's the only mission. That's what the FDA needs to be talking about right now.
For those who are not vaccinated, they are nervous that that too many of these rules or regulations have been changed.
LUNTZ: That too many times. They see one thing at one point and they change it. And one last point, it's not a mandate. In the end, it's a protocol. I know it sounds like there's like a small distinction. But that distinction matters.
COOPER: Frank Luntz, appreciate it as always, thank you.
LUNTZ: Thank you.
COOPER: Just ahead, we have more breaking news. House Democrats today rallying to pass a key item and President Biden's agenda. What can they continue to overcome their infighting, that's the question to get this $3.5 trillion budget resolution to his desk?
COOPER: More breaking news. Just before his remarks in Afghanistan, President Biden applauded a key vote by House Democrats approving a more than $3 trillion budget resolution, a major item obviously for his first term agenda that provides money for health care and education among other areas. But it is still a long way from his desk, and it has to survive and divided frequently combative, Democratic Party.
Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill with the latest. So, a lots been going on, a lot of back and forth, the House voted to pass the 3.5 trillion budget framework. What concessions and Speaker Pelosi have to make with the 10 moderates get this deal done?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Basically what she did, Anderson was promised them that there would be a vote on that bipartisan infrastructure deal, the $1.2 trillion deal that's already been passed by the U.S. Senate and that that vote would come as early as September 27th. And she put it in writing. And that's going to mean a lot of work has to be done in a relatively short period of time, because what Democrats would prefer to see is that reconciliation, peace, the budget resolution they passed today, the $3.5 trillion, filled out and ready to go and pass at the same time as they passed a bipartisan infrastructure deal. So that's a lot of work that's got to be done and they're going to begin that process in the beginning of September.
But what this illustrates kind of the back and forth that we've seen over the past 48 hours is how delicate this process is and how something simple by a relatively small group of members of Congress could derail the whole process.
COOPER: Just to be clear, though, this is not a vote on the bill itself. It's a vote to move forward.
NOBLES: Yes, that's exactly right. So, this is essentially voting on the framework. This is just members of Congress agreeing that they're willing to spend $3.5 trillion on a budget plan, there's no specifics as to how that money is going to be spent yet. And that's the real hard work that's going to be done now, over the next couple of weeks work that essentially has to be done before September 27th if they're going to pass both of these at the same time. So that's -- where these budget committees are now going to separate, they're going to go apart, they're going to take all these different pots of money, and then decide specifically where they're going to go, there's going to be a lot of horse trading that takes place over here -- over the next couple of weeks.
This is where the real work gets done. They've really just been talking about this and kind of big, grand numbers. It's the granular details where this entire thing could come apart. And that's why even though they've made a lot of progress, there's still a long way to go.
COOPER: Yes. Ryan Nobles, appreciate it. Thank you.
Want good perspective now from CNN political commentator, Van Jones, special advisor to former President Obama.
So, Van this is one of President Biden's key domestic policy proposals and campaign promises, 24 hours ago deal -- the deal appeared to be in trouble. How big a win, do you think this is for the President, for Speaker Pelosi? VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think they're both breathing a big sigh of relief. You know, frankly, I'll never bet against Nancy Pelosi, you're going to lose your money. But she's had to work very, very hard. And it's because you have two different pressures on this Democratic Party. On the one hand, you have progressive saying, listen, this, you know, we're probably going to have a one shot here, let's do something big. Let's do something memorable. The Republicans could be in charge, you know, in a couple of years. And so they want to go big, you have moderates. You're like, listen, when you say the Republicans might take over you mean, I might lose, I'm in these tough seats. And I'm telling you, I've got certain needs, and you got to take me seriously. I am the margin of victory and defeat. And if you take me for granted, I am going to stop on the brakes.
And so, so you've got cross pressures here in the party, but never bet against Nancy Pelosi when it comes to dealing her caucus.
COOPER: As we said in the wind did not come easy for Democrats getting these 10 moderates on board was certainly an uphill battle. And I think it surprised a lot of Democrats. Just last night, there was explicit language f bombs being dropped, apparently, as House Democrats were meeting behind closed doors, Speaker Pelosi, you know, is no one as you pointed out as kind of being a master kind of whipping her party into line, getting what she want. DDid she underestimate the power of the moderates?
JONES: Well, I think that clearly, she must have misread something, because it's not that the moderates changed their position. They were pretty clear early on what their fears were, what their concerns are, she must have misread something, because a lot of this stuff could have been worked out well in advance and not, you know, created this sort of drama. And because you have the party now, the debacle in Afghanistan, I think it's demoralizing. A lot of people at the base, and then the divisions in the caucus is giving people some real heartburn. You know, she had to really step up and make it happen. But she did step up and make it happen. And she can be counted on to do that.
But this day, you have a very tiny minority -- majority to work with, which means any group that gets together can be taken seriously. And the moderates just said, you've got to take us seriously. We are your margin for victory in the fall and we have real needs and you got to hear from us.
COOPER: I don't mean to that point. You know, we know midterm elections don't generally benefit the party in power, Biden's approval ratings are now below 50%. The party seems disjointed with disagreements budget, infrastructure, Afghanistan, as a Democrat, how concerned are you that infighting is going to have a negative impact on the 2022 midterm?
JONES: Look, we're having a tough summer. But we've got more than a year to get this thing turned around. I don't think anybody expected for a president as empathetic as this president to have sounded as tone deaf, early on with what's going on in Afghanistan. I think he's beginning to write the ship there. But it's a tough summer and can't -- you can't deny it. I think this party has got to pass these bills. We've got to see the results. And then we got to get ready for a tough midterm election.
COOPER: Do you think he was tone deaf early on in this, in Afghanistan?
JONES: Yes. Oh, I mean, like I expected his initial statements. I thought missed the mark, when it came to just showing the empathy that he's known for. You know, he's there because of his empathy and because of his -- people's trust in his competence. And so he had his first air pocket, and he didn't sound like himself. I think he now sounds more like himself, but I think it shocked a lot of people.
And look, everybody gets a chance to, to make mistakes and learn on the job. Even some along with my experiences President Biden gets to learn on the job. It's been a tough summer for this party.
COOPER: Do you think, you know the American public has not been paying much attention to Afghanistan over the last many years and people kind of didn't want to hear about it, didn't watch stories about it. You know, it just dropped off the radar for a lot of people. Do you think Democrats are going to -- I mean, do you think this has resonance? Obviously, even there's a lot of people who support the idea of withdrawing, but obviously, with the images, what's happened the last couple weeks, we've seen the President's poll numbers drop.
JONES: Well, look, a lot of people would say he did the right thing. He just didn't do it in the right way. And so, you know, that's the -- that has to be worked out politically. But let me think about Benghazi. You know, it was a tragedy, but it was a relatively small board tragedy. And Republicans just beat the crap out of us for that for years. So you know what politically your opponents can do with any foreign policy mistake, you just don't want to hand them this kind of thing.
Obviously, you don't want to let down our allies. But you also politically don't want to hand them this kind of stuff, because you are going to wind up having to pay for it, when the midterm election comes around.
COOPER: Van Jones, appreciate it. Thanks.
Up next more in our breaking news in Afghanistan and President Biden sticking with his withdrawal deadline, that's just a week away. He also has a special request for the Pentagon and State Department (INAUDIBLE) in that, coming up.