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Erin Burnett Outfront

Biden Plows Ahead with $3T Spending Bill, Says GOP can Work with Him and Voters, or "Continue the Politics of Division"; President Biden Says He'll Push His Agenda Past Republican Opposition "If We have to"; Georgia Gov Signs GOP Bill that Restricts Voting Access as Biden Calls Similar Push in 43 States "Un-American" and "Sick"; Prosecutors in Boulder Supermarket Shooting Add Attempted Murder Charge, Say More Charges to Come; Biden's New Goal: 200 Million Shots in First 100 Days; Five People Reported Killed as Tornado Touches Down in Alabama. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 25, 2021 - 19:00   ET



MARTIN LUTHER KING III, GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS LEADER: But also, we can participate in the government.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: OK. Martin Luther King III, thank you so much for that.

KING: Thank you.

BROWN: And I'm Pamela Brown. Thank you for watching.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the bullish President Biden forging ahead with his agenda with or without Republicans.

Plus, the suspect in the Colorado mass shooting making his first court appearance as his attorneys talk about a mental illness. Are they really preparing an insanity defense?

And breaking news, at least five deaths reported tonight after a tornado tears through a community and the threat ongoing at this hour. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Biden emboldened. The President using his first news conference to make it clear that he is plowing ahead with his plans and he will do it with or without Republicans.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My Republican colleagues are going to have to determine whether or not we want to work together or they'll decide that the way in which they want to proceed is to just divide the country, continue the politics of division.


BURNETT: So, his next big agenda item, another multitrillion dollar spending bill. Multi meaning this time $3 trillion.


BIDEN: The next major initiative is to rebuild the infrastructure, both physical and technological infrastructure in this country so that we can compete and create significant numbers of really good paying jobs.


BURNETT: Three trillion dollars and it includes a wide, wide range of things. Everything from daycare to pipelines. Hugely ambitious in its scope. In fact, historians likening Biden's push to change America to the transformations made by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

And Biden is making it clear that these ideas are not negotiable. Today, he said that if Republicans block him, he can get around this whole filibuster issue and passes agenda anyway. So, he talked about reforming the filibuster, which is essentially blocking him from passing his agenda because it requires Republican votes. Here he is.


BIDEN: I'm going to say something outrageous, if we have to, if there's complete lockdown and chaos as a consequence of the filibuster, then we'll have to go beyond what I'm talking about.


BURNETT: So, if there's chaos and he has to go beyond what I'm talking about, let me translate that, he would use reconciliation to pass his agenda. That means that Biden can get what he wants with a simple majority, without any Republicans. He doesn't even have to touch the filibuster. Just use reconciliation. There you go.

And Biden is now leveling these threats with confidence.


BIDEN: What I know I have now is I have electoral support from Republican voters. Republican voters agree with what I'm doing.


BURNETT: And Biden's confidence today went even further.


BIDEN: My plan is to run for re-election. That's my expectation.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Do you believe you'll be running against former President Trump?

BIDEN: Oh, come on. I don't even think about it. I don't - I have no idea there will be a Republican Party. Do you?


BURNETT: Jeff Zeleny OUTFRONT live near the White House tonight. And Jeff, those snips that we just showed there, he has specific items. He has an agenda. He's going to do it with or without them. Had no problem. Mocking Republicans, a confident and emboldened president today.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORREPONDENT: Erin, it's clear that President Biden has the upper hand here with the Senate and he intends to play that hand. Look, all of his years in the Senate is making him a very interesting executive. We don't often see the head of the executive branch sort of treating the legislative branch like this, but it's been fascinating to watch the early months of the presidency.

And the President made clear today he plans to continue that. He believes he does have bipartisan support, never mind the votes, he doesn't need them for now. But he does believe he has Republican support out in the countries that was certainly true on the COVID relief bill and he's talking about that big infrastructure plan.

We're talking about physical infrastructure like building roads and improving airports, as well as different kinds of infrastructure, soft infrastructure, if you will, expanding education, improving American jobs.

So, we saw an emboldened President Biden today who, look, made clear that he is not going to be slowed by the obstruction and gridlock in the U.S. Senate. He understands the Senate very well, so the gamble here is he's essentially daring and urging some Republicans to come to him. He's not going to necessarily go to them or change his policy.

And we saw him talking about 2024. Erin, that raised the point that, yes, this is his first term, but he has much less time than that. The reality is the only has that Democratic majority.


That 50-50 majority in the Senate until 2022 for sure. That's why they're pushing everything so fast. So, he's basically like, come with me if you want. If you don't, you can watch my progress because that is what his bet is.

Of course, he's going to have some stumbles along the way with gun control issues. He's going to have to respond to this immigration, of course. But it was a fascinating look into his mind how he's seeing his young presidency, Erin.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny.

Let's go now to David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama who, of course, knows the vice president very well and - vice president of time, Biden, now President Biden, very well. And Jamie Gangel, our Special Correspondent. So thanks to both.

So David, let me start with this just because, obviously, you do know the context here so well. Biden talked about his forthcoming $3 trillion spending plan, making it clear he's going to do it with or without Republicans. He thinks these items matter. And the tone and tenor we heard is a reversal of the drumbeat about unity, working across the aisle that we heard during the campaign. So what changed, David?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I think Joe Biden knows that he's going to be judged on what he can accomplish on the principle issues that concern people, which is how we get past the virus and how we have a resurgence in our economy and so he is pursuing those things.

And interestingly, those are the two things that he can actually move forward on without Republicans, because those fiscal issues are the ones that you can deal with in a reconciliation package, which only requires a simple majority. Everything else; gun legislation, immigration, voting rights legislation, that would require either doing away with the filibuster getting 60 votes.


AXELROD: So he not only knows that this is where he wants to go and this press conference was all about focusing attention on those issues that he thinks he's going to be judged by and that he thinks people care about and also that he thinks he can accomplish. I just take issue with one thing from the top, Erin.

I think he was telling his supporters and particularly progressive supporters who are urging him to do away with a filibuster. He said basically, hey, I've been around. I can count. We don't have the votes to do away with a filibuster. We can reform it and maybe we'll get to the point where Republicans are so outrageous that we can get 50 Democrats to go along, but right now we don't have them.

So I thought there was a dose of realism in his presentation today, as well.

BURNETT: So Jamie, Biden was asked to this point about Republicans, about his relationship with Mitch McConnell. And Mitch McConnell said yesterday that he's only spoken with Biden once since inauguration and it was about Burma. So Biden was asked about that today, here's his response.


BIDEN: I know Mitch well, Mitch knows me well. I would expect Mitch to say exactly what he said. But this is a matter of making sure that I would like elected Republican support. But what I know I have now is I have Electoral support from Republican voters.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: So Jamie, I mean, he's making a big point of that and they

did support the COVID relief bill, Republican voters and it was wildly popular. It's different than this $3 trillion spending bill and that it included direct payments, so who knows how Republican voters will see this one. Is Biden running the risk of misjudging McConnell and Republicans?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, to David's point about he doesn't have the votes, the other thing that Joe Biden said today was his famous quote, successful electoral politics is the art of possible. So Joe Biden knows what's possible and what's not, but he's also looking at the polls and he does have a lot of support with registered Republicans right now.

I think what you're seeing, though, is - to quote something you said earlier, he was bullish today. He was confident today. And I think he knows that bread and butter issues. It's the economy, stupid, dealing with COVID. He said over and over again he knows what his priorities are. That's what's going to be front and center and he certainly thinks he will have the support of voters.

But also be aware, he's going to be watching very carefully for 2022 and what happens in the House.


GANGEL: And I think we'll see a balancing act there.

BURNETT: So David, you mentioned the filibuster issue here and Biden said he agrees with President Obama that the filibuster is a relic of the Jim Crow era, but then said he's not ready to get rid of it. I just want to play this exchange with our Kaitlan Collins.


COLLINS: Regarding the filibuster, at John Lewis' funeral, President Barack Obama said he believed the filibuster was a relic of the Jim Crow era. Do you agree?



COLLINS: If not, why not abolish it if it's a relic of the Jim Crow era?

BIDEN: Successful electoral politics is the art of possible. Let's figure out how we can get this done and move in the direction of significantly changing the abuse of even the filibuster rule, first. It's been abused from the time it came into being by an extreme way in the last 20 years. Let's deal with the abuse first.

COLLINS: It sounds like you're moving closer to eliminating the filibuster, is that correct?

BIDEN: I answered your question. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So David, what do you make of that? I mean, look, he's basically saying I don't like it, but I will deal with what I have to deal with. And by the way, again, to your point, he's got reconciliation for all of these major economic bills as a separate path.

AXELROD: Yes. And parenthetically, let's point out, he knows that he's going to be judged and his party is going to be judged in 2022 by the state of the economy and whether we're through the virus. And he's making a big bet that the things he's doing are going to ensure that the economy is roaring in 2022.

But on the filibuster, again, I think there are 48 Democrats who appear ready to vote for that. We know there are at least two Democrats who say they're not going to vote to do away with the filibuster. Joe Biden knows that too and his message is we will do what we can do. And I think that's a message that won't sit well with every progressive in the Democratic Party, because it is going to come up when these voting rights bills come up, it's going to come up when these gun bills come up. But I think he was being very straightforward about what he thinks he can accomplish.

BURNETT: Well, especially because, I mean - look, I don't want to weigh into it. But if you get rid of it, then you can pass all the laws you want, then the next time the other people get in charge ...

AXELROD: Exactly.

BURNETT: ... he's going to go back and put them the way there were. I mean, it makes it impossible to have consistent policy.

AXELROD: He knows that too.

BURNETT: Yes, exactly.

So Jamie, let me ask you one other thing he said today. He went after Biden - I mean, Biden went after Trump by name a number of times. He normally does not do that not by name. He also went after the GOP as a whole when he was asked if he was running in 2024, sort of that mocking will there even be a Republican Party. Let me play that again.


COLLINS: Do you believe you'll be running against former President Trump?

BIDEN: Oh, come on. I don't even think about it. I have no idea will be a Republican Party. Do you?


BURNETT: So what do you make, Jamie? It's a different tone, OK, than he had before. GANGEL: Absolutely. I was struck, he was both self-deprecating at

times. He said at one point when I was in the Senate 120 years ago. But to your point, he did say, former President Trump, Trump, Trump. Up until now we've heard more 'the former guy'. I think that this is self-confidence on his part. I think he feels that Trump is fading away, at least, for now.

And there's something else he said, at one point, he said, I'm a very practical guy. And I think that what we saw today was he was feeling his way he had success with the COVID relief bill. He's feeling confident about moving forward on the economy. And he was willing to take on Trump. Let's remember one thing, Donald Trump is not on Twitter anymore. One of the things that struck me today was there was no response for Donald Trump.

BURNETT: Right. It is true. It is true. And of course, then there is, though, the complete dichotomy in the Republican Party. They liked that bill. They liked those checks, but they still also - there's adulation for the former President Trump, so how this plays out, it's going to be fascinating. Thank you both very much.

And next, Georgia's governor did just sign that sweeping elections reform bill literally just moments ago as we're beginning our program. And this is as President Biden calls out Republicans for trying to limit voting access.


BIDEN: What I'm worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It's sick.


BURNETT: And attorneys for the suspect in the Colorado mass shooting say they need time to assess the 21-year-old's mental health. Is this their defense? The Attorney General of Colorado is OUTFRONT.

And Biden sets a new goal of 200 million COVID vaccine shots within his first hundred days.



BURNETT: Breaking news, the Republican Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, just signing a sweeping elections bill after it sped through both the State House and Senate today. President Biden calling this nationwide pushed by Republican state legislators to restrict voting access 'sick and un-American'.


BIDEN: What I'm worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It's sick. It's sick. Deciding in some states that you cannot bring water to people standing in line waiting to vote, deciding that you're going to end voting at five o'clock when working people are just getting off work, deciding that there will be no absentee ballots under the most rigid circumstances. I'm convinced that we'll be able to stop this because it is the most pernicious thing. This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle, I mean, this is gigantic what they're trying to do and it cannot be sustained.


BURNETT: Dianne Gallagher is OUTFRONT. So Dianne, you've been covering this very closely as the bill made its way through the legislature. Obviously, you hear what the President is saying, but what exactly does the final law say?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So Erin, look, this law literally changes Georgia elections from top to bottom in almost every aspect. And not every single part of it is something that people consider to be restrictive. But there were enough elements in this bill that had activists Democrats who were there on the floor calling this Jim Crow, calling the suppressive legislation.

I want to go through some of that in there. It does add ID requirements for absentee voting. They're eliminating signature match in Georgia for absentee ballots. It also limits drop boxes and it makes it a misdemeanor to give somebody food or drink if they're a voter waiting in line to vote.

Perhaps the part of the bill that has caused the most outrage that has remained in the bill is the fact that it expands the oversight from state lawmakers and state officials over local election management.


And so it gives some of these partisan officials the ability to appoint people who then can even replace local election officials. And look, Democrats in the House had basically said we feel like this is a direct attack on the blue areas of Georgia, like here in Atlanta in Fulton County and to that same effect to voters of color.

And that is what we're hearing from everybody really on the ground who oppose this, that it is targeted. They feel like against voters of color, Erin. I can tell you that we are already hearing about potential litigation that has already been thought out when it comes to this particular law.

But, of course, the Governor, Brian Kemp, said that he felt like this would safeguard the election. And like we've heard so many other Republicans sort of alluding to that big lie that was spread by former President Trump after the 2020 election, it's going to restore confidence that was shaken by, well, conspiracy theories.

BURNETT: All right. Dianne, thank you very much.

And I want to go now to Ben Ginsberg, Republican Election Lawyer for four decades. So Ben, you heard Dianne laying out the law. They're going to require ID for absentee voters instead of a signature verification, misdemeanor to serve anyone food or drink or to hand out water while they're voting. That one really is jarring. Are Republicans making a mistake with this move?

BEN GINSBERG, REPUBLICAN ELECTION LAWYER: I think they are making a mistake anytime you put up barriers to people voting in a democracy both on the policy grounds because it's anti the way the country should work, but also politically because it paints Republicans as truly not wanting people to vote. And that turns off a large chunk of the Republican base as well.

But there are parts of this bill that are being oversold. The voter ID requirements, for example, get rid of signature matches, which is a really messy process and puts in social security numbers or driver's licenses. Well, that's what California, New Jersey and Virginia democratic states use. So purchase this is being overblown.

BURNETT: Right. And I know you've also pointed out sort of restricting the amount of time for early voting. Their restrictions would actually put them in line with very large Democratic states, including California, correct? So there's parts of it that makes sense and parts that that truly don't and are incredibly restrictive.

And those parts that are very restrictive are actually now in hundreds of bills across the country, 250 bills all-in and 43 states are now up for discussion that would restrict voting. So President Biden, you heard him say that overall, this push by Republicans state legislatures is 'un-American'. Would you agree with that characterization?

GINSBERG: Well, I think it is really bad anytime you try and stop people from voting. And there are bills that have been filed that are really harmful to the democracy, harmful to the Republican Party in the long run. So there is this drive to change laws, to make them more restrictive based on the unproven charge of fraudulent voting is a bad result for, I think, policy and politics for the Republican Party.

BURNETT: Ben, thank you very much. I always appreciate your time, your thought, nuance. Thank you.

GINSBERG: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, the Colorado mass-shooting suspect making his first court appearance today as prosecutors say more charges against the 21- year-old could becoming. Attorney General of Colorado is OUTFRONT.

And Biden ups his goal 200 million vaccinations by his 100th day in office. But is this administration's messaging begging through? All of the misinformation now out about vaccines.



BURNETT: New tonight, the suspected gunman in the Boulder, Colorado supermarket massacre denied bond as he faces a judge for the first time. It came as officials warned more charges against him are likely. Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Handcuffed and in a wheelchair from a gunshot wound to his right thigh, Ahmad Alissa appeared for the first time as defendant. The 21-year-old sat alert as the judge read his rights in the courtroom.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, do you understand those rights as I've explained them to you this morning? We need you to answer out loud please.



LAH (voice-over): That was the only time he spoke in his 10-minute hearing. He is charged with 10 counts of murder for the 10 innocent lives lost at the store. Prosecutors also filed an 11th charge of attempted first-degree murder for Officer Richard Steidell. Officer Steidell, one of the first responding officers to King Soopers store described being shot at by the gunman in the arrest affidavit as he saw fellow Officer Eric Talley fatally wounded.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will be filing additional charges in the next couple of weeks.


LAH (voice-over): The Boulder County District Attorney says those charges will come after investigators. Still at the scene today, finished collecting all the evidence. The public defender indicated a possible future defense.


KATHRYN HEROLD, PUBLIC DEFENDER: We cannot begin to assess the nature and depth of Mr. Alissa's mental illness until we have the discovery from the government.


LAH (voice-over): Mental illness and school years filled with being bullied for being Muslim according to Alissa's brother who saw him growing increasingly paranoid. His attorneys today did not discuss his current mental state.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What sort of state is he in right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no comment.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LAH (voice-over): A law enforcement source tells CNN investigators are

scrubbing through his social media presence, among them posts like this one where he complained, "If these racist Islamophobic people would stop hacking my phone and let me have a normal life, I probably could."

Across Boulder, memorials to remember the victims and 10 families unable to grasp the loss, including the sister of Officer Talley.


KRISTIN BROOKS, SISTER OF FALLEN OFFICER: My mother called me and she was just screaming and she said his daughter had called her.


Like this is not OK. It's not OK that I am burying my brother.

LAH: In an act to mark the end of Officer Talley's watch, the Boulder Police Department used the fallen officer's handcuffs to formally place the shooting suspect into custody, tweeting this: Though this was a small gesture, we hope it is the start of the healing process that so many of us need at this time.


LAH (on camera): Now, late today, the Boulder Police Department announced that the funeral for Officer Talley will be on Tuesday, and as much as they have shared their grief with this community, that funeral ceremony will be live streamed to the public. And we should mention, Erin, that the suspect in court, he did not enter a plea. Prosecutors are already warning this community that this is going to be a lengthy court process -- Erin.

BURNETT: Kyung, thank you.

OUTFRONT now, the Democratic attorney general of Colorado, Phil Weiser.

And, Attorney General, I appreciate your time tonight.

You know, on so many levels this appears to be a straightforward case. A lot of eyewitnesses, security camera footage in the supermarket, we presume, as well. Last night, Governor Polis told me, I think there's a lot out there. I don't think it will be too hard to prove. That was his quote.

Do you agree?

PHIL WEISER (D), COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL: You never want to take cases for granted. There's going to be a lot of investigation here. It's important to be thorough.

The trial is going to be a point of the community getting the story. The district attorney here in Boulder is a true professional. It will be a thorough investigation. I'm confident they're going to touch every base they have to.

A lot of other law enforcement authorities, including our office is working with them. So it's going to be comprehensive. It's going to be done right and it's important for the community here in Boulder that they get this process, this trial, and the justice that people here deserve.

BURNETT: So, one of the suspect's lawyers, Daniel King, also represented the gunman in the 2012 Aurora movie theater massacre. Twelve people were killed there, of course, as you well know.

Now, that gunman pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. That plea did not work. He's now going to spend the rest of his life behind bars, right? That is how it ended that time.

Ultimately, do you think an insanity defense would be unsuccessful here as well?

WEISER: What people may not fully appreciate and it's important to understand, the insanity defense is a very difficult standard to meet. As you noted in the Aurora shooting case, the defendant there was not able to meet at. It's an exceptional situation when it is met.

What we have here is a team that's going to do a great job of making the case, that defense is going to be up to the defendant to be able to show. It it's not easy standard to make and rarely is it successful.

BURNETT: So, I want to play something that Governor Polis told me last night about how this mass shooting is affecting him. He had been to this supermarket many times before.

Here he is.


GOV. JARED POLIS (D), COLORADO: I had 10, 10 people killed at a place that I had been to, that almost every member of the community knows has been to, drives past. This is kind of everywhere USA. This could be any grocery store anywhere, anytime.

And I think that's really why this struck a chord not just with the residents of Boulder and of Colorado, but with people across the country.


BURNETT: An eyewitness that day told me, you know, he thought that his bubble had burst in Boulder. And, obviously, it's an incredibly safe and tight-knit community. Do -- the D.A. today says he's confident that the trial can be held in Boulder, that there will be an impartial jury in Boulder? Do you think that that's true? Or do you think that perhaps it should be done outside?

WEISER: I think it's important for this community. And you can see behind me the people who are mourning, who are grappling with what is something that people didn't think could happen. And what you said is right. If they can happen here, it can happen anywhere.

And I too like the governor have been to the supermarket, have been to the shopping center. It is deeply disturbing and it is important for Boulder to have a way to heal that breach. Have a trial held in Boulder to bring this killer to justice. To get the story out there and to give people some sense of closure and some sense of understanding.

We're never going to heal the holes in our hearts. The people we've lost. It's so painful. But a trial here in Boulder is the right thing to do and will do all we can to make that happen.

BURNETT: Attorney General, before I let you go, our Kyung Lah just reported about the handcuffs that belong to Officer Talley. Officer Talley, of course, the first there, the hero, father of seven, and he died trying to save others in that supermarket. The Boulder Police Department said that those handcuffs that I'm showing everyone are the ones used when the suspect was taken into custody after he was discharged from the hospital.

What was your reaction when you learned this?


WEISER: What we need to understand about Officer Talley is that this is what responsible, trusting and meaningful policing is doing. When I talk to law enforcement professionals, this is what they signed up to do. They sign up to go into danger and risk their lives to leave their case without a father because they believe in protecting the communities they serve.

Officer Talley, like Officer Goodman (ph) you heard about in the January 6th attack at the Capitol represents law enforcement that we deserve and that we need. And having as many ways to remember him as a blessing and as inspiration is going to be meaningful.

When we have a (INAUDIBLE) for him, I know it's going to be powerful in this community. We owe him an incredible debt. He died a hero and his family, his 7 kids are going to be in our hearts.

BURNETT: He saved so many lives.

Attorney General, thank you so much for your time.

WEISER: Thank you.

And next, Biden setting a new goal of 200 million vaccinations in his first 100 days. But are the vaccines skeptics drowning out some of the science on vaccines?

And breaking news this hour, at least five deaths reported after a tornado touches down in Alabama. And we are now getting up close video of that twister.




BURNETT: New tonight, President Biden doubling his administration's vaccine goal after already meeting the initial target of 100 million shots.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am sending a second goal, and that is we will, by my 100th day in office, have administered 200 million shots into peoples arms. That's right, 200 million shots in 100 days.

I know it's ambitious, twice our original goal. But no other country in the world has come even close, not even close to what we are doing. I believe we can do it.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, former White House medical adviser under President George W. Bush, Dr. Jonathan Reiner.

So, Dr. Reiner, 200 million shots in American arms. If the goal is ht, you're really awfully close to herd immunity because children are not even eligible right? So, your -- that's pretty much anyone who wants one getting one who is allowed with the science.

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, not quite. Don't forget that most of the vaccine to date are two-shot vaccines. So, 200 million shots is subtracting at the J&J vaccines about 100 million people. So, we still have a good way to go.

Right now, we are getting vaccine at about 2-1/2 million shots per day.


REINER: Roughly split half an half between first and 2nd shots and whatever J&J shots are going in now.

So in order for us to get to herd immunity, even at this rate, it's still probably going to take at least five months, assuming we can convince you know fully 77 percent of the population to take the shot.

The administration is doing a great job at accelerating this but they have a history of basically announcing a goal that they've already achieved. Just by math, with 34 more days left in the first hundred days, 2-1/2 million shots per day, he will get to the goal. So that's pretty much baked in the rate (ph).

BURNETT: Right, right. Exactly. I mean, you know, look, I get why they would want to set a goal that they could meet but your point is really important, right? That is not ramping anything up.

Now, he had previously set me first as a deadline for one all adult Americans in every single state were eligible for the vaccine and said there'd be enough for them. So, basically, if you want one by May 1st, you can go ahead and get one.

Look, it's complicated because a lot of people now are eligible and still not getting them. You know, we see that in New York. Left, right, and center in Manhattan, I see it every day. And there are 7 states that still have not told CNN when they plan to start vaccinating everyone 16 and older, haven't even laid it out. That includes New York, but also Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming.

Is there any reason in your mind why all states shouldn't say it's open to everyone right now and a drop with this whole you're 1B, 1C, whatever, which, again, what I've seen anecdotally means that a lot of people are eligible don't know if they are and so they're not getting it. So, there are all of the shots and no one is in them.

REINER: Completely agree. And the other reason to do that is probably over 70 percent of the transmission now is coming from younger people. We saw that from the second surge over the summer, by 72 percent of the transmission came from people between the ages of 20 and 49, and very few of those folks have been vaccinated now. And those are the people we really need to vaccinate now.

So, look, we can continue to vaccinate the people at highest risk, although we've already vaccinated with at least one shot 70 percent of people over the age of 65. We can continue to do that in parallel with now giving shots into lower risk people who are at higher risk to transmit the virus. Every state should do that. Open it up.

We have 40 million doses that have not been delivered to states right now that have not been administered. That number is going to grow.


REINER: So, I think we should make this available to everyone.


REINER: Right now.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, Dr. Reiner, for your time as always.

REINER: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, Biden says that his expectation is to run for reelection. But he's also quote a respecter of fate. We'll talk about that with Biden's biographer.

And breaking news. At least 5 deaths reported tonight as tornadoes are sweeping across the south. The threat is ongoing as I speak. We're live on the ground.


[19:48:06] BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden turning introspective when talking about whether he'll run for a second term.


REPORTER: Have you decided whether you are going to run for reelection in 2024? You haven't set up a reelection campaign yet as your predecessor had by this time.

BIDEN: My predecessor need to -- needed to. My predecessor. Oh, God, I miss him.

REPORTER: Have you --

BIDEN: No, the answer is, yes, my plan is to run for reelection. That's my expectation.

REPORTER: So, is that a yes that you are running for reelection?

BIDEN: Look, man, I don't know where you guys come from. Man, I've never been able to -- I'm a great respecter of faith, I've never been able to plan four and a half, and three and a half years ahead for certain.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Evan Osnos, CNN contributor, and author of the Biden biography, "Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now".

So, Evan, he says he is a great respecter of faith. You know, obviously informed by the tragedies in his own life, but, you know, that his plan is to run as of now which, you know, surprise, is that he came up directly and said that. What was your reaction to his answers?

EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, it'll be political malpractice for him to say he wasn't running now.


OSNOS: But I think there really is a deeper element to this. He really did, a long time ago, kind of came up with his own home brew philosophy about how to deal with faith, how to think of the sheer ups and downs of his life.

I mean, he decided, as he put, it everybody has a kind of cosmic ledger. I mean, this is his words, not mine. That everybody, for all of the highs of your life, there will be lows. And the highest highs are met by the lowest lows. He certainly felt that in his own life.

And I think it translates into politics. In his conception, you can be riding high today, March of 2021, but you can't anticipate what's going to come around the bend, what's going to knock you down, what's going to take away that power that you thought you have, or, what's going to give you an advantage over an adversary you didn't think you had today. BURNETT: So, Evan, you know, he was asked about how he will deliver on

promises that he's made, on a wide range of issues, right?


Climate, change gun control.

Let me just play his response for you.


BIDEN: I got elected to solve problems. And the most urgent problem facing the American people I stated for the outset was COVID-19 and the economic dislocation for millions and millions of Americans.

The other problems we are talking about from immigration, to guns, and other things you've mentioned are long-term problems. They've been around for a very long time. And what we're going to be able to do, God willing, is now begin, one at a time, to focus on those as well.


BURNETT: So, Evan, he was asked a lot about immigration, right? And he had a lot of statistics. He was quite ready for it. I don't want to say he wasn't. But those are the questions he received.

His actions show he has put Vice President Harris in charge of the border. She takes the issue seriously, but he is delegating it, OK? He's making it clear it's not where his agenda is headed. It's not what he wants to talk about.

OSNOS: Part of this is an outgrowth of his own vice presidency. Remember, that job was delegated to him too. He dealt with the Northern Triangle issues, and he knows has hard it is, he knows it may not be solved overnight. But I think is interesting, Erin, as you can see him juggling, very clearly, the challenges of the short term crisis, the things you don't anticipate, with your long term goals.

So, you know, to use the president that he admired a lot, Jack Kennedy, you'd have to get the Cuban missile crisis right, but you will be judged by history on whether you do things like create the Peace Corps, and create his long-standing agenda items. For him, that is infrastructure, I mean, stuff that's so politically unglamorous as getting let out of people's homes, and getting asbestos out of schools. But also, China.

You know, you heard them say, our grandchildren, as you put, it will be riding their dissertations on how we handle the long-range challenge of China. So, he is trying not to drop any balls in the short term without losing sight of what he thinks of the long range objectives for him to achieve, in four years, or eight years.

BURNETT: So, OK, he's going quite big because of, this on so many things, Evan, right? I mean, just think about this. If he gets what he wants, which it looks like he can, regardless of the filibuster, right, he's going to have $5 trillion in spending, you know, within 100 days. I mean, it's a stunning thing.

"The New York Times" columnist Maureen Dowd wrote the other day, and I'm sure you saw, but let me read for viewers who didn't.

President Biden is being hailed as a transformational, once in a generation, progressive champion, with comparisons to LBJ, and FDR aplenty. Obama has been a cautionary tale about what happens when Democrats get the keys to the car, but don't put their foot on the gas.

OSNOS: Yeah.

BURNETT: Do you think that Biden is driven by a desire to, you know, somehow, in the scope of what he accomplishes of transforming the role of government, to exceed Obama?

OSNOS: Well, look, the honest answer is, you don't get where he is in this business without a pretty strong competitive streak. There is a piece of, this too, that he sees a lot of unfinished business that he, and President Obama, who are after all very close, spent eight years trying to get things done, some things, they weren't able to do.

So, sure, if he can get those things accomplished, he will. He is also acutely conscious of the risk of high expectations. We are talking these days about comparisons to FDR, to LBJ, "Axios" reported today he's been meeting with historians this week to understand more of that history.

And what will he will tell you is, it's much better to settle lower expectation, and over-deliver, then to allow those expectations to become baked in, and everyone says, why didn't you exceed LBJ?

BURNETT: All right. Evan, thank you very much for your perspective.

OSNOS: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, breaking news, officials searching for victims after reports of nine tornadoes in Alabama. At least five deaths reported so far. We go there live, next.



BURNETT: Breaking news, search and rescue efforts are underway just outside Birmingham, Alabama, where a tornado touchdown. At least five deaths reported so far. As many as 50 homes are damaged that we know right now. Nine tornadoes total, at least reported across the state.

One man in a storm catching the camera -- danger on camera from his car. So, just watch this.


BURNETT: It's incredible, I mean, just looking at that. The National Weather Service, is issuing a tornado emergency warning,

nearly 35,000 people in the current storms path. Just over the next hour, right? Because this moves really quickly, they pop up, and then the damage, obviously, in property, and human life can simply be immense.

Derek Van Dam is OUTFRONT from Birmingham, Alabama.

So, Derek, what are you seeing right now?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, interesting, Erin, that tornado footage that you just showed on television a moment ago is the same tornado that caused the damage behind me. The National Weather Service, and meteorologist at the CNN Weather Center, they provided guidance that there would be long track, long duration tornadoes today, and that is exactly what happened because the footage you saw one moments ago was several miles to our south, and west, where we are at Eagle Point, Alabama, just to the south, and east, of Birmingham.

We are several miles away from where that footage, as you can see, the homes that had their roofs completely ripped off of the top of their house, people are busy cleaning up the damage. What I found very interesting about this is how indiscriminately this tornado damaged homes, and communities, because it hopped and skipped over some houses, sparing them completely, but completely damaging others.

We talked to some sheriffs earlier who had a mobile command center, advised us that they had to halt their search and rescue operations, because of the ongoing severe weather threat. But I can tell you right now, the temperatures have dropped, the cold weather has ushered in, and I think the severe weather threat is starting to dwindle here in Birmingham, Alabama. A very welcome sign, because it has been a volatile, and very turbulent, and dangerous day within Central Alabama.

Now, we focus our attention across Northern Georgia, where the National Weather Service issued a new tornado warning, including the Atlanta Metro Region -- Erin.

BURNETT: This moves so fast.

All right. Thank you very much, Derek. I appreciate your time -- and all of yours.

Anderson starts now.