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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Dems Brawl in Final Debate Before Super Tuesday; CDC: Not "If" But "When" Coronavirus Spreads in U.S.; IOC Tokyo 2020 Preps Continue As Planned. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 26, 2020 - 04:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A revitalized field of Democrats putting the pressure on Bernie Sanders. Did they do anything to slow him down ahead of Super Tuesday?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And it's not if, it's really when, the CDC says coronavirus will spread in the United States. The president appears to be fudging facts on a health crisis in an election year.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It's 31 minutes past the hour here in New York.

But let's begin on that debate stage last night. A wild free for all at the final Democratic debate before Super Tuesday. Six candidates, all trying to blunt the momentum of front-runner Bernie Sanders in Charleston. Now just three days before South Carolina's primary, candidates took aim at each other over socialism, electability, race, and the issue you did not see coming a week ago -- Cuba.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump thinks it would be better if he was president. I do not think so. Vladimir Putin thinks Donald Trump should be the president of the United States and that's why Russia is helping you get elected so you'll lose to him.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I dug in, I did the work and then Bernie's team trashed me for it.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you think the last four years has been chaotic, divisive, toxic, exhausting? Imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Progressive is getting things done and that's what we got done. We got a lot done.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've been hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight. I wonder why.

WARREN: I don't care how much money Senate -- Mayor Bloomberg has. The core of the -- of the Democratic Party will never trust him. At least I didn't have a boss who said to me "kill it" the way that Mayor Bloomberg is alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees.

BLOOMBERG: Never said. Come on. I never said that. And -- and, for the record, if she was a teacher in New York City, she would never have had that problem. We treated our teachers the right way.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Instead of just reviewing everything from the past, let's talk about where we're going to go forward. No, the math does not add up.

BUTTIGIEG: I think we were talking about math and it doesn't take two hours to do the math.


SANDERS: Let's talk about math.

BUTTIGIEG: OK. So here's the math. It adds up to four more years of Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy is speaker of the House, and the inability to get the Senate into Democratic hands. The time has come for us to stop acting like the presidency is the only office that matters.

BIDEN: Bernie, in fact, hasn't passed much of anything. I'm not out of time. You spoke over time and I'm going to talk. Here's the deal.

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have worked for racial justice completely, and that is an absolute unfair statement.

KLOBUCHAR: All I know is --


KLOBUCHAR: -- if we spend the next four months tearing our party apart, we are going to watch Donald Trump spend the next four years tearing our country apart.

BLOOMBERG: The debt is $20 trillion, going up to $21 trillion. We just cannot afford some of the stuff people talk about.

Bernie will lose to Donald Trump. And Donald Trump and the House and the Senate and some of the state houses will all go red. And then between gerrymandering and appointing judges for the next 20 or 30 years, we're going to live with this catastrophe.

SANDERS: Mayor Bloomberg has a strong and enthusiastic base of support. Problem is, they're all billionaires.

BLOOMBERG: You read about the virus. What's really happening here is the president fired the pandemic specialist in this country two years ago. So there's nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing. SANDERS: Cuba made progress on education. Yes, I think -- really?


BUTTIGIEG: I am not looking forward to a scenario where it comes down to Donald Trump with his nostalgia for the social order of the 1950s, and Bernie Sanders with a nostalgia for the revolutionary politics of the 1960s.


SANDERS: Misconception, and you are hearing it here tonight, is that the ideas I'm talking about are radical. They're not. In one form or another, they exist in countries all over the world.

BIDEN: China prevent North Korea from launching missiles to take them down. And if we don't -- why am I stopping? No one else stops.


BIDEN: My Catholic school training.


ROMANS: Obviously, the clock ran out. That's why he stopped. But no one else is stopping.

JARRETT: Just talking to himself.

Let's bring back Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of "Inside Elections".

Nathan, in between people wondering why they are still talking and the jabs and the shouting and talking over each other, did anyone on that stage break through and change the state of play?

NATHAN GONZALES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I've come around to sort of the Philosophy that nothing matters until -- until proven otherwise. And I mean that we tend to treat everything as a game- changing moment, every news event, every debate. But I -- and, really, normally, there isn't that fundamental change. And so until we see the voting results in South Carolina, look at some subsequent polling, get into Super Tuesday, I am skeptical that this was a game changer.

A couple things stuck out to me, though. I don't think primaries are not necessarily a terrible thing. I mean, when it comes to, particularly, opposition research or the cost of Senator Sanders' plans, if you are a Democrat, you'd rather have these things come out now. And force him. You know, and these other Democrats to try to answer these questions now, rather than September, October, early November of this year.

ROMANS: That's a good point.

GONZALES: And also, I go back to 2008 when you had Hillary Clinton against President Obama going kind of deep into the primary calendar. And I think that was beneficial to Obama, as the nominee, because you had two well-funded campaigns organizing and energizing voters in states such as Indiana and North Carolina, where they probably wouldn't have if the primary wasn't extended.

ROMANS: It was contentious between the two of them. Remember?

JARRETT: Oh, yes, deep into the summer.

ROMANS: Then later, they went on to work together and so, you know, primary season is the primary season. That was the tenth Democratic debate last night. It felt like a completely different the way they were all fighting with each other. But I wonder about Tom Steyer. The Tom Steyer factor for Joe Biden in -- in South Carolina. He has been spending a lot of money on ads. He's right there at 15 percent in this most recent NBC News/Marist poll.

You know, how concerned is Joe Biden about Tom Steyer taking -- taking votes away from him from the middle and taking black voters?

GONZALES: I think if you're Vice President Biden, you have to be concerned with everything because you've staked your entire campaign almost on South Carolina and doing well. I think the Steyer campaign did a good job of recognizing an opportunity. Even a couple of months ago when all the candidates were focused on Iowa and New Hampshire, he started dumping money into South Carolina. And it looks like, you know, he is right on that cusp of getting delegates at the 15 percent threshold. And I think that's important.

If Vice President Biden -- you know, last night, he was continuing to highlight his connection to the African-American community, which is going to be key. And if he can keep Steyer below that 15 percent threshold, then that could be important. But the vice president has to do well. There is -- I think everyone is in agreement on that point.

JARRETT: Yes. And obviously, the endorsement, we'll see later today from Congressman Jim Clyburn. Going to be really important for Biden if, in fact, he does endorse him as expected.

I want to also get your thoughts, Nathan, before we let you go, on whether this was sort of a missed opportunity for these candidates. You make the point all the time that look. The voters are already voting. They are going to the polls. They're voting early in Super Tuesday states but I just wonder whether the candidates should have been pressed more on some of the news of the day.

You know, it's 83 minutes before the coronavirus even comes up. They are not pressed on how president Trump is tackling the virus and how the stock market has just taken a dive. Were you surprised at some of the questions?

GONZALES: Well, it's tough to surprise me anymore. To some extent, the candidates are at the -- at the mercy of the moderators and where the moderators want to lead the discussion. You know, ultimately, Mayor Bloomberg did bring it up and I think there was a subsequent question, specifically on the coronavirus.

But, you know, this is an opportunity for the candidates to make -- make a national pitch. But on the coronavirus, you know, we have talked about this early morning hours many times about the economy. And the president and Republicans are staking so much on the economy.

And if the economy slips, and maybe it's because of response to coronavirus, the president's political situation gets to be a lot more precarious. And that's what makes the Democratic nomination even more valuable if the president is weak heading into the fall.


ROMANS: You know, all the polls for the president shows that he gets such high ratings for how he's handled the economy up until now. And, you know, some of these approval ratings on the economy in general are the highest they've been in 20 years.

But when the president stands there and says futures are substantially higher and the stock market looks good and his chief economic advisor is saying buy stocks, and you lose another almost thousand points on the Dow Jones industrial average, at some point, credibility goes out the window, and credibility in crisis is so important.

But the Democrats have not seized, they just haven't been able to seize on that.

JARRETT: Nathan Gonzales, thank you.

GONZALES: Or if the president --

JARRETT: No, make your point.

GONZALES: Oh. I was going to say, and if the president and his team talk about how they have the coronavirus contained and nothing's going to happen. That just opens, you know, if there is any sort of more cases that are -- you know, that pop up in the next few weeks or months. That just hurts their credibility.

ROMANS: It risks George Bush mission-accomplished moment where you, very early, declare victory over something that becomes a real problem.

Nathan Gonzalez, editor and publisher of "Inside Elections", thank you. Nice to see you.

JARRETT: Thanks so much for getting up, Nathan.

GONZALES: See you next time.

JARRETT: Well, still ahead, is the president risking public health with his sunny outlook on the coronavirus?



ROMANS: Investors hoping for markets to stabilize after two days of historic declines but it's all red arrows again over night. Taking a look at futures right now, you can see Asia closed lower. European shares opened down. Big losses again for Frankfurt. And Wall Street, futures also learning lower here. They have been really wobbling all over the place but leaning lower.

Markets plummeted for the second day in a row as coronavirus fears rattled investors around the world. Look at this, the Dow fell another 879 points. That's more than 3 percent. It makes it the worst two-day drop in history.

The Dow is now off more than 8 percent from its recent high, putting it close to what we call a correction, that's when it falls 10 percent. About $1.7 trillion wiped off the S&P's value in just two days.

Look at entertainment and leisure stocks. American Airlines down 9 percent. People worried about spending money in group activities and travel.

Still, White House economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, doubled down on the U.S. response.


LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We have contained this. We have contained this, I won't say airtight, but pretty close to airtight.


ROMANS: A day before that, he told long-term investors they should buy this. If they did, they would be losing money today.

Important to note, the rush into the safety of bonds pushed down the ten-year note to a record low, reflecting deep concerns about global slowing economic growth.

JARRETT: It looks like the president is choosing happy facts over talk about the coronavirus. Remember yesterday when President Trump had this to say.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're fortunate, so far and w think it's going to remain that way. I think it's a problem that's going to go away.


JARRETT: Turns out his own government disagrees with him. One of the top officials at the Centers for Disease Control warned it is not a question of if but when novel coronavirus will spread in this country. Other crucial unknowns, when, how many Americans are going to get sick? The president also insisted a vaccine is close but most experts say it is roughly a year away.

ROMANS: Publicly, the president projecting optimism but sources tell CNN privately, he is frustrated by some of the ways his administration is handling the outbreak. On Capitol Hill, even some Republicans raising concerns about the lack of alarm.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): You're supposed to keep us safe. And American people deserve some straight answers on the coronavirus. And I'm not getting 'em from you.


KENNEDY: That's all I have, Madam Chair.


ROMANS: In contrast to the administration's low-key response, San Francisco has declared a state of emergency. As of now, there are at least 57 coronavirus cases in the U.S.

JARRETT: Meanwhile, coronavirus is not stopping preparations for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer, at least for now.

CNN's Will Ripley is live in Tokyo.

Will, what is the game plan here?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tokyo 2020 organizers are telling CNN, Laura, that the Olympics are scheduled to go on, as planned. But there are new questions because a senior member of the International Olympic committee, Dick Pound, gave an interview where he said they might have to make a decision by the end of May whether to keep the games here on schedule, or postpone them, or even potentially move them to a new location, which would be an absolute nightmare for Japanese officials.

I lived here for four years. I have seen the blood, sweat, tears, and tens of millions of dollars that have gone to this country's most important sporting event in decades. They haven't had to cancel the Summer Olympics since World War II.

But some people are saying this is a new war. This is a public health crisis. And given the Japanese government faced so much criticism for the way it handled the Diamond Princess, what many consider a failed quarantine, think about their credibility when you have hundreds of thousands of people coming from 200-plus countries, all staying in close quarters here in Tokyo for a few weeks and then going back out to their home countries.

If they don't get this under control, the potential public health crisis and outbreak is huge.

But Tokyo 2020 is saying this, and I'll read your portion of their statement to us, to CNN. They said: Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with all relevant organizations which carefully monitor any incidents of infectious diseases and will review any countermeasures that maybe necessary with all relevant organizations. The rest is speculation.

They don't want speculation. They want people to feel safe when they come here.

To give you a sense, Laura, of how seriously Japan is taking this. This is a country with a salary-man culture. People expected to come in the office and sit in the office for very long hors, Monday through Friday, Monday through Saturday.


Japan is actually advising people, and this is a tectonic shift, they are telling people they should work from home, because they're trying to avoid that public gatherings. They're encouraging social They say the next one to three weeks are going to be critical on the ground here because, frankly, they don't know how many people might have the virus right now and could, unknowingly potentially, spread it to others.

JARRETT: Sure because it takes so long, in some cases, for you to actually show symptoms even though you do have the virus.

Will, thank you so much for being there for us. See you soon.

And we will be right back.


JARRETT: A powerful winter storm is intensifying as it spreads east.

CNN's meteorology Pedram Javaheri has the forecast for us.




Quite a bit of weather to tell you about across the Great Lakes, parts of the Eastern Seaboard as well, and a lot of this has to do with wintry weather. And the piece of good news out of this is it's going to be a very short-lived, quick-duration event here proportions of the Midwest. That includes St. Louis, on the way in toward Chicago, Cleveland. Even some snow showers pushing in.

And really you got to get to the eastern great lakes to pick up the highest accumulations. Thanks, in part, to some lake effect. When you look at these totals, they are impressive for any time of year. Twelve to 18 inches, some areas northeast of Syracuse can exceed 18 inches in the 24 to 36 hours.

So we have winter weather advisories in place back toward the Northeast. We do have watches in place in the interior portion the New England. Of course, some of the largest threats here, excessive wind gust, lakeshore flooding, and certainly going to be a long live snow bands set up across this region, prolong snow bands from Erie out towards Jamestown.

We'll watch this carefully and throughout Thursday as well before conditions to improve, guys.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much for that.

Michelle Janavs, heir to the Hot Pockets fortune, sentenced in the college admissions scandal. She admitted paying $300,000 to boost qualifications of her three daughters. Prosecutors say Janavs is one of the most serious offenders in this scandal as a repeat offender.

JARRETT: It took more than 70 years. Navy veteran Thomas Simpson finally has the medals he earned in World War II. The 92-year-old says he was determined to get them after one of his grandsons asked him what he did during the war. His New Jersey congressman presented them to Simpson at his assisted living facility.

ROMANS: All right. The coronavirus still weighing on global markets. Look at this. Oh being so you got losses in Asia and European shares open lower as well.

New this morning, Hong Kong announcing a $15 billion release package. The spread of coronavirus is dealing a severe blow to the economy and business sentiment there in Hong Kong.

Back on Wall Street, futures still lower here. You know, really having a terrible time finding their footing. It was another reckoning on Wall Street. Tuesday, the Dow finished 879 points lower. The Dow is now down more than 8 percent from its recent high.

At one of its biggest CEO changes of the generation, Bob Iger is leaving top spot at Disney. He will become instead executive chairman and head of the company's creative endeavors. He is set to stay on that role through the end of his contract through 2021.

Iger took over for Michael Eisner back in 2005. And he oversaw a remaking of Disney, the acquisition of Marvel Studio, Pixar, Lucas Film, all of which are shattering box office records. Iger says with the successful launch of Disney streaming service Disney Plus. This is an optimal time for change. He also integrated the $71 billion dollar acquisition of 20th Century Fox.

Iger says he will work closely to transition to Disney's new CEO, Bob Chapek. Chapek he was the chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts Division.

JARRETT: As you point out, he's not leaving the company. It will be interesting to see --

ROMANS: Not for now, not for now. Right.


Stephen Colbert was up with instant reaction to the Democratic debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Seven candidates, five moderators. Two hours and one powerful message for America.


COLBERT: It's going to be tough to fit on a bumper sticker.

After a question about the cost of Bernie's Medicare-for-All program, things got a little shouty.

BUTTIGIEG: I think we were talking about math and it doesn't take two hours to do the math because let's talk about what it adds up to. We don't --

SANDERS: Let's talk about math --


COLBERT: Let's talk about math, baby. Let's talk about health for free. Let's tax the 1 percent and bring an end to poverty. Let's talk about math.


JARRETT: Romans wants to talk about math.

ROMANS: I do. That was so funny. Andrew Yang was the math guy with the math pin. He's gone and now they're talking about math.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett.

"NEW DAY" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Clash of the candidates in Charleston, South Carolina.

SANDERS: Medicare-for-All will save money. Ours will cost about $45 billion, not $60 trillion.


WARREN: I think I would make a better president than Bernie.

BUTTIGIEG: Imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump.

SANDERS: I've been hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight. I wonder why.

KLOBUCHAR: If we spend the next four months tearing our party apart, we're going to watch Donald Trump spend the next four years tearing our country apart. ANNOUNCER: This is "NEW DAY" with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is a special edition of "NEW DAY." It is Wednesday, February 26th. It is 5:00 here in New York.

It's also 5:00 in South Carolina where for the Democratic presidential candidates this morning, it sure feels like South Carolina. What exactly does that feel like, you ask?