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Democratic Debate Fallout; President Trump to Hold News Conference on Coronavirus. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired February 26, 2020 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We continue on, hour two. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

The health secretary just confirmed another case of coronavirus inside the United States, as his boss is just hours from addressing the nation on the fast-spreading illness.

President Trump will hold a 6:00 p.m. Eastern time White House news conference regarding this coronavirus outbreak. It now encompasses 60 U.S. cases and more than 81,000 worldwide. Nearly 2,800 people have died from the coronavirus, but there have been no deaths in the United States.

For the first time, the WHO, the World Health Organization, is saying that there have been more cases reported now in a single day outside of China than inside.

Plus, the CDC says it is now a matter of if, but when the virus will actually spread here in the U.S.

So, now for some medical expertise of this growing outbreak.

Dr. Carlos del Rio is the chairman of the Global Health Department at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health.

So, Doctor, welcome back. Thank you for being here.


BALDWIN: So, as we mentioned now, 60 cases confirmed in the U.S.

For people who are at home and, you know, understandably starting to panic, what will this mean for everyone's everyday lives as it continues to spread?

DEL RIO: The first thing is, I really think we need to not panic. I think panic is bad, and panic is not the response we need to have.

I think the first thing we need to have is people need to get information, and you guys are doing a very good job of giving information. The second thing is, people need to start thinking about preparedness.

And what does that mean? What that means is you need to go -- we need to look back at the influenza pandemic of 2009 preparedness, and see what we did then, what we recommended.

And first things that I recommended is hygiene, a lot of handwashing, having, you know, Purell and hand sanitizer everywhere, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze, not using your hand, but using your elbow, not going in a public place if you're sick, if you're ill, not -- you know, staying home.

So there are a lot of things that we can do for social distancing. Schools need to start thinking about what to do if they need to close, when will they close, how will they let kids come in if they're sick?

And then, you know, work environments, need to start thinking about telecommuting, about teleworking, about what to do to continue being productive without necessarily having employees there and things about, for example, religious events, ceremonies, conventions, meetings where a lot of people gather.

Do they need to cancel? Do they need to be postponed? As you have probably heard, there's talks about even canceling the Summer Olympics.

BALDWIN: Right, talks. I mean, they haven't canceled the Summer Olympics in Tokyo as of yet, but I do know that a couple of universities here stateside are telling some of the students who are studying abroad, for example, to come on home and maybe even some staff as well.

I know we need to stay on the facts.

And so Dr. Fauci over at NIH, who we all should be listening to, right, was asked this morning about the timeline for a vaccine. Here he was.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The confusion, again, is we're close to starting a phase one trial to determine safety. We're going to do that in about 1.5 to two months.

But that doesn't mean you have a vaccine. In order to get a vaccine that's practically deployable for people to use, it's going to be at least a year to a year-and-a-half, at best.


BALDWIN: So, Dr. del Rio, I know people are hearing a year, a year- and-a-half, and thinking, well, what are we supposed to do until then? What's your answer?

DEL RIO: Well, I think the answer is, we need to, again, hopefully prevent the spread. I think there's -- besides the vaccine, antivirals are being tried,

and, in fact, the clinical trial with an antiviral just started and enrolled its first patients. I think we need to look at what antivirals are being developed, and the vaccine is going to be important.

But the most important thing, I think, right now is to stay informed and to realize that science is advancing. And I have confidence in science. I have confidence that we will have antivirals, we will have a vaccine.

Again, a lot of things are being done, a lot of efforts are being done. The government's putting a lot of resources in developing a vaccine and antivirals to hopefully control this epidemic.

BALDWIN: All right, Dr. Carlos del Rio, thank you very much. I have a feeling we will be talking soon.

DEL RIO: Good talking to you.


BALDWIN: Thank you.

As the urgency about this virus grows, the president is facing accusations that he is downplaying the risk. Democrats accuse the president of being more concerned with the health of the economy than the health of the nation.

Listen to this exchange during hearing on Capitol Hill.


REP. MARK POCAN (D-WI): The tweet from this morning from the president talking about low-rating fake news, doing everything possible to make the coronavirus -- spelled incorrectly -- but I'm a journalism major -- look as bad as possible, including panicking markets if possible, markets being the concern.

So, help me. Is this contained, the common cold, inevitable, two months, 18 months? Provide me some security that someone knows what's going on in this administration about the coronavirus.


ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: What we're trying to do -- and we have tried to do this with members of Congress, Senate and the public and the media -- is really flood you with information about this to make sure that we're being transparent about what we're facing, what we know and what we don't know, as well as what our plans are.


BALDWIN: Let's go to Capitol Hill to our correspondent there, Phil Mattingly. And, Phil, there is obviously this huge clash on specifically coronavirus funding. Democrats and the White House are $6 billion apart on how much should be spent on prevention and preparation, $6 billion?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in an age of trillion-dollar deficits, $6 billion might not seem like a lot, but that's a pretty big gap that needs to be bridged here--

BALDWIN: It seems like a lot.

MATTINGLY: -- over the next couple of weeks.

Here's the reality. And I think what Mark Pocan, you heard there, the member was asking the secretary of health and human services, Alex Azar, the questions, was getting at it is kind of the key thing you hear from members on Capitol Hill in terms of frustration, and it's not just partisan.

There are Republicans who have echoed the same thing. And that is, while there is information that's coming out, and while the public health officials and top health officials in the administration have been given briefings, fulsome briefings, at times up here on Capitol Hill, there's a lot of contradiction when you look at the president's tweets or what the president says.

And I think there's also concern, particularly from Democrats, that this funding request and the response generally has taken too long.

Take a listen to what Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this morning.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): So, what he's doing is late, too late, anemic. Hopefully, we can make up for the loss of time, but he will have to have the professionals in place, the resources that are adequate.


MATTINGLY: So, Brooke, to kind of put the politics aside, to the extent you actually can when you're standing in this building, the reality is that the appropriation staffers, the folks who work on funding in both chambers from both parties, are working in earnest to kind of come to an agreement on a top-line number that will address some of the issues.

The Schumer proposal, the Senate Democratic proposal was much larger than the White House proposal, about $1.5 billion for CDC, a billion dollars to NIH for vaccination types of issues, kind of spreading around for emergency public funds, health, the bottom -- I think the endgame number here is not going to be anywhere near $8.5 billion, from what I'm being told right now.

But a lot of the tracks or streams that you saw Senate Democrats lay out today is where money is likely to go. I think the big question now going forward is, when you talk to appropriators, when you talk to staff working on this, they really believe that they can work in a bipartisan manner to get something done and get something done fast.

I think the wild card, as always, is the politics. It's President Trump. It's his Twitter account. And, frankly, it's what he's going to say at 6:00 p.m. later tonight -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, we will be watching 6:00.

Phil. thank you.

Of course, we're also watching the market reaction to this outbreak, dropping by a third -- dropping for a third straight day, right now, Dow Jones industrial average down 146 point here -- 46 points.

So, Mark Zandi is with us. He's economist for Moody's Analytics.

Talk to me, because, as we were reporting, the president has been downplaying this because he's worried about, according to folks we know in the White House, he's worried about folks panicking and the markets tanking even further.

And I'm just wondering, is that appropriate, downplaying it for the sake of the markets? What do you think about that?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: I don't think that makes sense.


ZANDI: I think it's important to be honest and transparent, because, if he's not, the markets, the American people are going to figure that out pretty quickly. And that's just going to create a lack of confidence.

And the fact that he can't get on the same page with the CDC--


ZANDI: And, by the way, the CDC seems to me to be where we should be paying attention.


ZANDI: Yes, exactly.

That doesn't lend confidence either.

BALDWIN: You made news this week, saying that all of this raises the probability of a recession from 20 percent to 40 percent, because of this coronavirus outbreak.

Why do you say that? And what would the conditions need to be?

ZANDI: Well, I think, if this jumps to a pandemic, so this is global, and it shows up here-- BALDWIN: I had a doctor sitting here that it basically seems to already be one.

ZANDI: OK, so the probabilities keep rising.

I mean, the -- going into this, the global economy was already very weak. I mean, Europe was close to recession. Obviously, China and Asia was struggling.


ZANDI: Go back to the trade war.


ZANDI: That trade war did a lot of damage to the global economy.

So, global economy was already on its back heels. Anything comes along and just pushes a little bit, we will be flat on our back, and the coronavirus is more than just a little push. It's a big push.

So let's take a look at what's happening to China dealing with this. Can you imagine what's going to happen the rest of world dealing with this? That's the fodder for a recession.

BALDWIN: Pre-election, post-election?

ZANDI: Now. I mean now.

This is here and now. I mean, the economy -- the Chinese economy is shutting down. The European economy is clearly going to struggle now with what's going on in Italy, and it's spreading.

It comes here, businesses globally, they can't catch a break, right? I mean, think about all the things they have been grappling with, and they have already been on edge and very nervous. And this is just too much to bear.

BALDWIN: No, we have heard from -- I'm looking down -- companies like Apple, Coke, MasterCard.

How would this affect corporate America?

ZANDI: Well, they can't sell as much, because the global economy -- everyone's not buying stuff, because they're just not working, and they're hunkered down.


ZANDI: So, they're not buying what Apple produces or what Pepsi produces or Starbucks produces.


And also because China is so key to the global supply chain. They -- we produce a lot of stuff there. And because they can't produce, then that's going to affect these companies as well. So it's all of the above.

BALDWIN: From just an economics perspective, last question, when we all tune in and watch the president address this tonight at 6:00, what do you want to hear from him?

ZANDI: I want transparency. I want him to get on the same page with the CDC and figure out what exactly is going on and then tell us what should be done.

Other countries are actually handling this pretty darn well. I mean, go listen to some of those Asian economies and their leaders going out. And they're telling people exactly how many people are sick, where the illnesses are, and exactly what is being done to address it, and what resources do we have to address it?

That's what we need.

BALDWIN: Just level with us.

ZANDI: Level with us.

BALDWIN: Mark Zandi, thank you.

ZANDI: Sure.

BALDWIN: CNN has learned the Trump administration is weighing whether to impose new travel restrictions to stem the spread of the virus into the United States. So we will talk to a travel expert ahead on what you should do if you have a trip planned. I know it's spring break time for so many families.

And Joe Biden picks up a key endorsement this morning from the so- called kingmaker ahead of the South Carolina primary. But after finishing poorly in the first three caucuses and contests, can Jim Clyburn, Congressman Jim Clyburn, really make a president out of Joe Biden?

And a newly released video shows the gut-wrenching moment this 6-year- old girl in Florida is put into handcuffs at school and hauled off to jail. Do not miss this.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.



BALDWIN: Here's a couple quotes, circular firing squad and embarrassment, harsh words from Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell about her fellow Democrats after their latest debate last night in South Carolina, a debate where Senator Bernie Sanders was in focus for those trying to elbow him out of that top spot.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I think I would make a better president than Bernie.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump.


BUTTIGIEG: Think about what that will be like for this country.


TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie Sanders' analysis is right.

The difference is, I don't like his solutions.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie, in fact, hasn't passed much of anything.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not think that this is the best person to lead the ticket.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you keep on going, we will elect Bernie. Bernie will lose to Donald Trump.


BALDWIN: Today, those candidates, they're back out on the trail.

And Joe Biden's bid to win it all this Saturday got a huge boost this morning from influential South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I want the public to know that I'm voting for Joe Biden. South Carolinians should be voting for Joe Biden. And here's why.

I know Joe. We know Joe. But, most importantly, Joe knows us.


BALDWIN: CNN's Ryan Nobles is with the Sanders campaign. CNN's Cristina Alesci is following the Bloomberg campaign.

Ryan, I'm coming to you first.

The debate may be over. The attacks on Senator Sanders are not. Tell me more.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no doubt about that, Brooke.

I mean, you could tell from the tone of the debate exactly where Senator Sanders stands in this race. Of course, he leads in national polls, but as you get ahead to Super Tuesday, he's leading in some of the biggest states, Texas, California, Colorado, all big prizes on the way to the delegate hunt. And that's why you see these candidates sharpening their focus ahead

of South Carolina, because it is the one state where Sanders doesn't have a clear lead. And the guy who does have a lead is Vice President Joe Biden, and he wants to make it clear to these South Carolina voters where he stands.

Take a listen.


BIDEN: Today, people are talking about a revolution. What the country's looking for are results. What they're looking for is security.

What they're looking for is being able to sustain and maintain their dignity.

I promise you this. If you send me out of South Carolina with a victory, there will be no stopping us.


NOBLES: So, he never mentions Bernie Sanders by name there, but it's pretty clear he's talking about Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden is.

And you can tell that these Democrats are sensing that, if they don't stop the Sanders momentum soon, it may be too late. And Sanders, for the most part, never really thought he had a shot here in South Carolina.

Brooke, a couple of polls show the gap is tightening here. He's increased his number of appearances. They have spent more money here. They may not think they're going to get a win, but, if it's even close, the Sanders folks will consider that a victory -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Meantime, Mike Bloomberg, Cristina, to you, not even on the ballot in South Carolina, but he is campaigning. What's his strategy?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, his strategy is to win over the people in the audience tonight, but, more importantly, to your point, Brooke, is to win over the folks at home in those critical Super Tuesday states.

That is going to be the time when Mike Bloomberg is going to be on the ballot for the first time in this contest. And, in fact, after the town hall appearance here tonight, he is going to hit the road. He's going to go to Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee, all of those Super Tuesday -- Tuesday states to make the case that he and his campaign have been there building a ground operation, while the other candidates have been focused on the first four states.

Look, tonight for Michael Bloomberg is going to set the tone for the rest of the week. I'm going to be with him through that multistate swing. But it's also going to be a test tonight of how African- American voters really react to Michael Bloomberg, one on one. We know that he's had these questions about stop and frisk and his apology. That is certainly going to come up tonight. This is a diverse state with a diverse population. In fact, the African-American voters here make up the bulk of the Democratic base here.


So Michael Bloomberg really has to make an appeal to him. And let me give you some just color on this whole thing. Michael Bloomberg, this is not his forte. This format is not his forte, and he has the disadvantage of not doing this kind of thing before.

So he's going to have to -- remember, his campaign events have largely been on prompter, very scripted. So he's going to have to kind of roll with things tonight and be more empathetic. And that is the goal for tonight, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We will tune in. Those town halls start at 7:00.

Cristina Alesci and Ryan, thank you both.

And, as you just heard, moderate 2020 Democrats digging in on their belief that Bernie Sanders cannot beat President Trump, that the words Democratic socialist make him unelectable.

Here to discuss, Kirsten Powers, a CNN senior political analyst and columnist for "USA Today," and Dana Milbank, political columnist for "The Washington Post."

So, welcome to both of you.

And, Kirsten, let me turn to you first here in New York.

Your piece -- basically, your last line, you're like, Americans need to get over this notion that Bernie Sanders is unelectable. Why? Make your case.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Because I think that a lot of the analysis that people are using -- and it's really -- it's really more commentators and pundits than it is the average American, who I think takes their lead a lot of times from what they hear people saying.

And I think that a lot of the analysis is using old analysis. It's an old way of looking at the world. It's a pre-Trump way of looking at the world. And it's the same arguments that were made about Donald Trump. It's the same arguments that establishment Republicans made.

And when I listen to establishment Democrats today, I think, do they not realize that they sound exactly like establishment Republicans talking about Donald Trump? They don't understand how upset people are in this country, that the idea of, do they want a revolution, they want not say they want a revolution, but they definitely want things to change dramatically.

And I think that's how you end up with a Donald Trump. And I think that that is what Bernie Sanders appeals to. He's somebody who is -- let's take the Democratic socialist label, right? In the past, 100 percent, I agree that would be a nonstarter.

I now think you have people who are saying, the way we're living is unsustainable. I don't have enough money to live. I am one bank -- I'm one health problem away from a bankruptcy.


POWERS: Something has to radically change. Who's going to radically change it and stop nibbling around the edges?

BALDWIN: OK, so coming off of your points, Dana Milbank, here's what I want to know.

Like, number one, do you think America is ready? Could they put aside the Democratic socialist, the fact that he has had nice things to say about the Castro regime, the price tag for Medicare for all? Can they put that aside if Bernie Sanders is the best bet of beating Trump?

And, also, to Kirsten's point, is the Democratic Party a bit stuck in the past?

DANA MILBANK, OP-ED COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, I think Kirsten makes a smart point there.

I think there is a bit of a mirror image going on from what happened with the Republicans in 2016. So, certainly, if you look at this through the old lens, through the conventional lens, Bernie Sanders would be a disastrous candidate.

But we're in a different era now. So, certainly, he would be damaging to Democrats down-ballot in the House and in the Senate. I think that seems pretty clear. But it's entirely possible that, in this populist moment, having this army of youthful supporters is really what is needed at this moment.

So the only danger I see for Republicans -- for Democrats is that they have more nights like they have last night, when everybody's at each other's throat. You don't seem to have any alternative being offered to Bernie. Essentially, you have six different alternatives being offered.

But no one of them is going to have a clean shot at him. That's exactly what happened against Donald Trump. So that's what I would like to see cleared out. So at least Democratic voters decide, Bernie Sanders or X?

They just have to decide who X is.

BALDWIN: Mike Bloomberg last night during that debate, he came out swinging against Bernie Sanders, saying essentially there's no way Bernie Sanders could beat Trump because he will scare moderate voters.

And just yesterday, I had this fascinating conversation with Al Cardenas, the former head of the Florida Republican Party, who I posed this hypothetical to. Listen to this.


BALDWIN: If it comes down to Senator Sanders vs. President Trump in the general election, Al, what do you do?

AL CARDENAS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I'm not going to vote for either. I'm looking for a healer. I'm looking for somebody who can help restore civility in our governance, and I'm looking for somebody who's a problem-solver, somebody who can compromise and get things done in America.

Neither of those two candidates offer any of those choices.


BALDWIN: So, Kirsten, first to you, because he basically said that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are the same half of the same coin, that, on the issues of healing a divided country on compromised and on civility, so why is he wrong?

POWERS: Well, first of all, that's kind of crazy, I mean, truly, I'm sorry, with all respect.

BALDWIN: What is crazy?


POWERS: The idea of Bernie Sanders is some mirror image of Donald Trump in terms of his lack of civility.

I mean, does Bernie Sanders attack war heroes? Does Bernie Sanders attack the parents of war heroes? Does Bernie Sanders troll people on Twitter every single day and make misogynist attacks against people, racist attacks?

I mean, it's just -- it's ridiculous. And we need to put this aside.

Now, I take the point that Bernie isn't like a big teddy bear and isn't necessarily the type of person who's trying to heal the country. But I do -- I don't think you can say that the same people.

And I have had this conversation with some Republicans who are never- Trumpers. And they say, give me Mike Bloomberg, give me Biden, give me Klobuchar, or give me any of them, I will vote for them. I will not vote for Warren or Sanders.

And I say, wait, let's step back. You're voting in Florida. It's a tight race. You know your vote could potentially put Trump back in office. What do you do?

When you back people into a corner like that, they tend to think about it differently.

I think people are basically -- they're going to have to accept it's not Bernie Sanders vs. your dream candidate. It's Bernie Sanders vs. the other people that are running, who all have deep flaws and may not beat Trump.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you Dana, because if President Trump was elected by some voters, because of his rhetoric and behavior -- this is another way to think about this -- why can't Bernie Sanders follow a similar playbook all the way to the White House?

MILBANK: Well, I agree that there's no comparison between the two men. Trump is orders of magnitude worse on the offensiveness scale.

But in terms of strategy, in terms of appealing to the base, that is where they're similar. And I think the Democrats may be at a point, as soon as next week, where it's going to be Bernie Sanders or nobody.

If you get to a point where Bernie Sanders has enough delegates, enough of the electorate, if he isn't the nominee, his supporters turn away from whoever the Democratic nominee.

On the other hand, there are vanishingly few people like Cardenas who are for other candidates, but who won't go for Sanders over Trump. That's the way -- possibly the only way they're going to unify.

BALDWIN: Dana and Kirsten, thank you both very much.

MILBANK: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And, again, you can hear from these candidates right here on CNN this evening.

You can watch Mike Bloomberg, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren in our latest series of Democratic presidential town halls. It all starts 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Coming up next: A federal judge is now demanding respect -- her word -- as the president continues to personally attack a juror who served in the Roger Stone trial. Why is the president targeting this private citizen?

And a 6-year-old child has been handcuffed by police officers in the middle of the school day -- the disturbing new video showing her pleading with police.

We will be right back.