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Clyburn Endorses Biden; Dow Rises after Coronavirus Jitters; Democrats Battle over South Carolina. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired February 26, 2020 - 09:30   ET



REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Wanted to join us today but when we decided to make this announcement on this day, they had already booked flights back home and back to Washington and could not change their fights -- or they could have but they were not have been able to get out in time to make votes this afternoon. So -- so they're not here.

I have, joining with me today, are several members of this state legislature. Two state senators, Louis (ph), Molly Kimpson (ph) and Jerry Malloy (ph). Jerry Malloy. Jerry Malloy and I spent as much time together as I would spend -- maybe as I spend with some of my brothers.

Most on the phone talking about the state that we love so much and what the future of this state is all about, and I thank him for being here. Of course, Molly Kimpson and Pier (ph) -- oh, I have three here. (INAUDIBLE) Bright Matthews (ph). I finally got it right. I told her earlier, I keep forgetting her add-on name. I know Bright. That's her political name. And so I thank her so much for being here.

And from the state legislature -- from the house, Marvin Kendavis (ph), who's on the house (INAUDIBLE).


CLYBURN: Marvin Kendavis for being here today.

I want to say a couple of things about why we're here.

I was next door at the (INAUDIBLE) breakfast and they have established an award in my wife's name, my late wife, and they decided I should be the first recipient of that award. And there is some little town of (INAUDIBLE) where we met outside (INAUDIBLE) campus come March 15, 60 years ago. I'll always remember that day because that was the first day that I was arrested. And I met her in jail on that day.

About 18 months later, we were married. We stayed married for 58 years. We talked about this state that we love so much.

I remember her telling me about her experiences walking two and a half miles to school every morning. Two and a half miles back home every afternoon. A little 22-acre farm. She learned how to drive in a pickup truck.

She came to South Carolina State in that pickup truck with her luggage on the bed. How her father would walk from Monk's Corner to Summerville to work in the off-season cutting (INAUDIBLE).

We talked about what our parents sacrificed for us and what we owed to our children. And all other children similarly situated.

We often talked about the leadership of this country. And there's nobody who Emily loved as a leader in this country more than she loved Joe Biden. And we talked about Joe all the time.

And so, as I was trying to make up my mind what I should do and when I should do it, I was informed that my accountant had passed away. And his funeral was last Friday in a rural part of Richland County.

I went to the funeral. I got there about 30 minutes early. And I was walking around speaking to people, many of whom I had not seen in a long time, and I spoke to them, and there was an elderly lady in her upper 80s sitting on the front pew of the church, just a few seats away from the coffin. And she looked at me, and she beckoned to me.


Didn't say a word, just beckoned.

I went over to her. She says, lean down, I need to ask you a question. And I leaned down. And she said, you don't have to say it out loud, would you just whisper into my ear, who are you going to vote for next Saturday? I've been waiting to hear from you. I need to hear from you. This community wants to hear from you.

I decided then and there that I would not stay silent.

Martin Luther King Jr., in his letter from Birmingham City Jail, wrote that he was coming to the conclusion that the people of ill will in our society was making a much better use of time than the people of good will. And he feared that we would regret, not just for the vitriolic words and deeds (ph) of bad people, but for their appalling (ph) silence of good people. The appalling silence of good people.

I decided after that experience last Friday, with that elderly constituent, and my background and experience and studies of Martin Luther King Jr., that I would break my silence today.

And I've been saying to the media, I've known for a long time who I'm going to vote for, but I had not decided whether or not to share it with the public. But I want the public to know that I'm voting for Joe Biden. South Carolina should be voting for Joe Biden. And here's why.

There's billboards around this county. On that billboard is my pledge. A lot of people ask me, why do you do billboards? Because my late wife said to me, I don't care how many TV ads you run, I don't care how many radio ads you run, when you run for office, I want to see billboards. That's why I do billboards. And it was just -- one of my colleagues came and says, this is the

first time I've seen a political billboard with no picture on it. Why isn't your picture on the billboard? I said because it ain't about me.


CLYBURN: It's about the message on that billboard. The message is simply this, making the greatness of this country accessible and affordable for all. We don't need to make this country great again, this country is great.


CLYBURN: That's not what our challenge is. Our challenge is making the greatness of this country accessible and affordable for all. If it's health care, is it accessible? Is it affordable? Education, is it accessible? Is it affordable? Housing. Energy. Making it accessible and affordable.

And nobody with whom I've ever worked in public life is any more committed to that motto, that pledge that I have than my constituents, than Joe Biden.

Joe Biden and I used to spend a lot of time doing TV stuff together. We got to know each other. I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. That's right.

CLYBURN: That's important.

Everybody think about Brown v. Board of Education. It may have started here in South Carolina, but Brown v. Board of Education, five cases. One was from South Carolina, one was from Virginia, one was from the District of Columbia, one was from Kansas, but the fifth case was from Delaware.


We have discussed thoroughly Gephardt (ph) -- the Gephardt (ph) case from Delaware and the Briggs (ph) case from South Carolina. That's how well I know this man. I know his heart. I know who he is. I know what he is. I know where this country is.

We are at an inflection point. On that day that I met Emily, I went to jail around 10:00 in the morning, and I was discharged from jail, bailed out around 5:30 in the evening. When I sat in jail that day, I wondered whether or not we were doing the right thing, but I was never fearful of the future.

As I stand before you today, I am fearful for the future of this country. I'm fearful for my daughters and their futures, and their children and their children's future. This country is at an inflection point. It is time for us to restore this country's dignity, this country's respect. That is what is at stake this year. And I can think of no one better suited, better prepared. I can think

of no one with the integrity, no one more committed to the fundamental principles to make this country what it is.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: A consequential endorsement from the majority whip, James Clyburn, in South Carolina, ahead of the critical South Carolina primary. And it goes to his longtime friend Joe Biden.

Errol Louis, with your thoughts.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Here's this moment.

HARLOW: Yes, as we look at the vice president here.


HARLOW: Thrilled, obviously, to get this endorsement. And we saw James Clyburn tweet, in South Carolina we choose presidents.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and you don't halfway do it. James Clyburn going all in for Joe Biden in a really important way. Very -- very emotional, actually.


LOUIS: Kind of a history lesson, you know, in -- I mean when I hear reading between the lines, because everything with James Clyburn, even the personal, is also very, very political. What I heard him doing was basically talking to younger African-American voters who we know are drifting away from the establishment choices like Joe Biden toward a Bernie Sanders.

This was kind of like a history lesson, not just for South Carolina, which is his main concern, but really all over the country, telling younger voters. It's like, look, there's some history here. People like me, before I became a politician and became the establishment, I got locked up fighting for civil rights for your right to vote. And people like Joe Biden were right there with me.

SCIUTTO: So just quickly, did he just rescue Joe Biden's presidential campaign with that endorsement?

LOUIS: I don't know. I mean he certainly bolstered his chances, which were already pretty good in South Carolina.


LOUIS: But he's certainly laying out the case. Now, Joe Biden, like any other politician, can blow the opportunities that are handed to him --


LOUIS: But Jim Clyburn just served it up on a silver platter for him.

HARLOW: OK. Big day. Big endorsement. Errol, thank you. Good to have you on both sides of that.

Let's take a look at the market right now. Obviously, two days of just a bloodbath. And, look, the Dow is up 350 points, making up some of the losses of the last few days. Much more on that after the break.



HARLOW: A major development this morning. The president will address the nation at 6:00 Eastern tonight following a briefing that he will receive by U.S. health officials. This is, of course, all about the coronavirus.

SCIUTTO: It comes as his administration is now weighing more travel restrictions in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus here in the U.S.

Joining us now, Kevin Hassett. He's former chairman for the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Mr. Hassett, great to have you on the show this morning.

KEVIN HASSETT, CNN ECONOMIC COMMENTATOR: Thanks, guys. Great to be here.

SCIUTTO: It strikes me, perfect person for us to ask this question, the real question here is, how much has this virus slowed down the Chinese economy, responsible for about a fifth of the global economic output, and, therefore, how much it affects the U.S. economy and all the U.S. companies that make their stuff there or, you know, do business with them? You know better than me, China lies about its economic figures.


SCIUTTO: What do we know about how much it's slowed down? Can you make a reasonable estimate for folks at home as to how much it's going to affect things here?

HASSETT: Right. Yes, you can. And, again, our hearts go out to the people who are affected.


HASSETT: And I think it's right that the president address the American people tonight.

When I was in the White House, we left last summer, that we would constantly monitor, what would we do if something very bad happened, like in terms of a pandemic. And I think that everybody's ready for that, sadly, and it might be that we're about to kick into that.

And in terms of the economic impact, you know, the best guess we can get out of looking at trade data and, you know, shipping data and so on is that Chinese GDP is going to be about down 10 percent from -- 10 to 15 percent from where we thought it would be in the first quarter, which is really almost like a one-time event. I -- you know, I think that that kind of shock to the global economy, very often it can go pretty bad after that.

It -- with the SARS virus, what happened was it got better pretty quickly. Markets dropped about 15 percent, but then they recovered right away and we didn't get cast into a global recession.

With this one, the concern is -- and this goes back to the news conference yesterday with the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Alex Azar, the secretary of HHS, is that they're suggesting that maybe this thing is going to last longer, have more legs than we thought.


And if that's true, then what's going to happen is that big one-time shock in China is going to continue into the second and third quarter and then you're looking at the kind of global recession that nobody wants to see happen.

SCIUTTO: Wow. Wow.

HARLOW: I mean it's significant to hear you given your previous position at the White House, saying we could be looking at a global recession if this stretches into April and May and spreads further.


HARLOW: I want you to respond, if you could, Kevin, to your good friend, Larry Kudlow, and his assessment just yesterday. Here he was.


LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We have contained this. We have contained this. I won't say airtight but pretty close to airtight. We've done a good job in the United States.

I don't think it's going to be an economic tragedy at all.


HARLOW: I mean no economic tragedy, but in two days, you know, 2,000 points off the Dow, $1.7 trillion in stock market value wiped away. He saying the numbers are saying the U.S. is holding up nicely.

Is that what the numbers show you, Kevin?

HASSETT: Right. Well, you know, I think that what we just talked about in terms of a potential global recession was the worst-case scenario. We didn't put odds on that. And I think it's probably the case that what Larry is saying is still what everybody hopes happens and still may be even the most likely event.

The problem is, with it spreading to Italy, with it spread, you know, really beyond containment in Iran and in China, that generally when that happens, then there's a chance that this thing has serious legs and you get much more disruption. That's why markets have been moving as much as they have.

But recall that very often in the past we've had shocks like this, like SARS or like the '98 crash. And then what happens is that the Fed steps in and then things kind of work out and the U.S. economy keeps chugging along. And markets are looking to that too.

So now markets are expecting the Fed is going to have to cut rates because of this.


HASSETT: And I think that means that the markets are actually looking towards this lasting into the summer and potentially putting a lot of downward pressure on the economy.

SCIUTTO: Well, you've got the markets, then you've got the real economy that affects everybody's lives. And, you know, they're tied, but it's a lot harder to move the global economy if it comes down.

HARLOW: For sure. And I --


HARLOW: It's telling that the markets factored in multiple rate cuts. Kevin, you make a good point.

Good to have you. Sorry to cut it a little short.

HASSETT: Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: A lot of news this morning.

HASSETT: Oh, yes, sure. Great to be back.

HARLOW: We'll have you back soon.

A quick break. We'll be back on the other side.



SCIUTTO: Just seconds ago, Joe Biden nabbed a key endorsement from South Carolina Congressman and Democratic Majority Whip James Clyburn just three days ahead of the crucial South Carolina primary. Particularly crucial, you might say, for Joe Biden.

HARLOW: Absolutely.

Joining us now is the chairman of the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina, Johnnie Cordero. He has endorsed Tom Steyer.

It's good to have you, sir. Thanks for being with us. JOHNNIE CORDERO, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC BLACK CAUCUS OF SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

HARLOW: What do you make of the fact that Jim Clyburn chose the Biden camp over Steyer's camp?

CORDERO: Other than the fact that it's probably predictable that that was going to be the endorsement, I think the important thing about that to remember is that the endorsement is going to go to assisting those who have already made up their minds basically in South Carolina.

But the one thing it's not going to do, is it's not going to help with those people who are the ones who we really need in order to win in South Carolina, and those are the people who have not voted but who are registered.

SCIUTTO: We had Errol Louis on with us here just after the Clyburn endorsement and he made the case that Clyburn was, in effect, trying to speak beyond the older generation, speak to younger African- American voters who might have a different view, might want to go a different, more progressive way in this race. I mean, in effect, making the case that Joe Biden is the best man for the job, not just for older voters but for younger voters.

What's your response to that?

CORDERO: I don't think that's going to work, and I don't doubt that that may have been the -- one of the things that they would like to do, but it's not going to accomplish anything because the fact of the matter is that people who speak for reparations are the people that are talking to this demographic that everyone seems to be missing. And the fact of the matter that Joe Biden has not done that.

Also, we have the -- we have the problem which is not going to go away, the problem of his writing and endorsing and introducing the 1994 crime bill. Everybody keeps darting around that. The people who are now trying to be reached are people who were affected very heavily by that act.

HARLOW: Johnnie, we also saw the former vice president go after Tom Steyer last night about his investment as a hedge fund manager in CCA, a private prison company across California. And in defending that, Steyer's response was that even though he obviously divested from that, is that he said he, quote, thought it was the right thing.

Help the American people understanding why at any point Tom Steyer thought it was a good thing for him and for America to invest in private prisons.

CORDERO: Number one, he's -- Tom Steyer is not a seasoned politician and he probably missed some issues that he should have gotten. That does not go against him. But the fact of the matter and the thing that I think that everybody really should be interested in is the fact that even if Tom Steyer did, and he admits that he did invest in that corporation. The things that is most important is the corporation was a private

prison corporation and the people who were in that private prison corporation were in there by and large because of the efforts of Joe Biden in introducing the 1994 crime bill, which increased and exacerbated mass incarceration. And that's what we are interested in as a people. And I don't think that that can be swept under the rug.

SCIUTTO: Should he apologize for those investments given that other candidates, Bloomberg for instance, apologized for, for instance, stop and frisk here in New York?

CORDERO: Yes, he has apologized. And, more importantly, he apologized and he divested immediately.


And, remember, too, that this was almost 20 years ago.

SCIUTTO: Johnnie Cordero, endorsed Tom Steyer --

CORDERO: I think --

SCIUTTO: In the election. Thanks so much. A lot of news today.