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Merck: Experimental Pill Cuts COVID-19 Death Risk By 50 Percent; Dems Continue Desperate Push For Biden Agenda; "Resistance" Celebrates Women In Politics In The Trump Era. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 01, 2021 - 12:30   ET



DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, UNIV. OF ALABAMA BIRMINGHAM: Right. Thanks, Dana. This is really exciting for a few reasons. When you think about it, we don't have a lot of options for pills that treat viral illnesses. Probably the one that people are most familiar with is Tamiflu, which treats influenza.

But a lot of viral infections we don't really do very well with, with antiviral therapy. The fact that this is a medication that can be taken just twice a day for five days and actually in the study reduced the rate of hospitalization and death by about 50 percent in people with mild to moderate COVID, who were treated as outpatients is incredibly exciting.

Couple of other things that are notable about the study's findings, and again, a reminder that this is all from a press release so we really need to see the data, we need to see it in a peer reviewed publication and all that stuff, we need more information. But basically, they enrolled people who had at least one risk factor for relatively severe COVID. So things like obesity, diabetes, and everybody did just as well whether or not they had those underlying risk factors, which is really very encouraging and means we might be able to give this drug to a wide array of people.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: So more than 75,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with coronavirus and where you are in Alabama is one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation. Only 43 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. I want you to listen to some stark warnings from Dr. Fauci just in the last hour at the White House Coronavirus Briefing.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, PRESIDENT BIDEN'S CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER: People who are not fully vaccinated are eight times more likely to test positive, 41 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 57 times more likely to die compared to people who are vaccinated.


BASH: I want you to that and talk about it in the context of this news that we got this morning how much if the FDA approves this pill how much it would benefit the patients in your hospital?

MARRAZZO: So I think it is important to acknowledge that vaccination remains our primary and best measure to fight this virus. There is no question. If you have to choose taking a pill as an unvaccinated person versus being vaccinated and being largely protected from getting infection in the first place, you should absolutely choose a safe and effective vaccine, which is exactly what we have. So Dr. Fauci is totally right.

On the other hand, if you have a population who for whatever reason hasn't managed to get vaccinated to the extent that you would like, as many tools as you have to mitigate the effects of those infections is what you need, right? So right now we're treating people with monoclonal antibodies to prevent them from getting in the hospital and to make them better and they work great.

The challenge is, you've got to give them in a very controlled setting. You've got to give them intravenously or subcutaneously. And they're expensive, and it's tough. If we had a pill to help keep people out of the hospital, and as you know, our hospital burden and our ICU burden has been brutal. That could be a game changer, whether people are vaccinated or not.

The last thing I'll say is that, you know, we are seeing breakthrough infections and people who are vaccinated that's been well described, they could have access to this drug too and hopefully that would reduce the likelihood that their breakthrough infections would be severe as well.

BASH: Fascinating, but the headline I took from that well thought out answer is get the vaccine. So we'll take that as well.

MARRAZZO: Absolutely. Of course. Thank you.

BASH: All right, thank you so much for your time this morning.


And as talks head towards the climax on Capitol Hill, why don't we take a look at some of the key Democratic players in both the House and the Senate moving the Biden agenda forward. What you may need to know about them. Stay with us.


BASH: As Democrats are still wrangling over what's in and what's not in this possible deal on this social safety net, as the White House calls it. We want to dig in on the key players who are driving these talks and helping decide what happens. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of course, Senator Joe Manchin, as we've been talking about, also the Progressive House Leader Pramila Jayapal, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the moderate from Arizona, and also another moderate one of the co-chairs of what they call the caucus -- the problem solvers caucus. Thank you.

Josh Gottheimer, thank you so much to the panel. Just the name just went out of my head. LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're here, your solving problems.

BASH: Yes. Nancy Pelosi?

FOX: Yes, probably one, the one who doesn't need an introduction. But how much is this kind of the pinnacle? And frankly, the hardest thing that she's had to do, and she's had to do a lot of hard things.

FOX: Yes, I mean, I think she's known obviously, as someone who can always get the vote. She knows how many people are going to vote which way on the floor. She doesn't bring things to the floor if she doesn't have the Democratic caucus behind her.

But I think one of the bigger storylines here is that this and she's been telling people this privately is the culmination of all of the work she's been doing. She says it all the time. It's the children. It's the children. It's the children. You hear talk about it at every press conference, but I think the reality is for her as a woman who was a mother and for someone who talks about that so much as being the defining thing in her life in a lot of ways.


She really knows what that struggle was like. And I think that that's why you hear her talking so much about childcare also Obamacare. She wants to shore that up, and that has been a big legacy defining item.

BASH: Joe Manchin.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Joe Manchin, well, a lot has been said about Joe Manchin over the course of the Biden presidency, being that pivotal, one of the pivotal Democrats in that 50-50 Senate and he's certainly exerted that power. If you recall, back to the debate over the American Rescue Plan, that Coronavirus Relief Package, he held up debate on the floor for hours that day, because he wanted to revise some provisions as it relates to unemployment benefits.

Chuck Schumer in the White House gave him that. So he along with some other senators will discuss exerts a lot of leverage here. He does come from a conservative state where Democrats are not the constituency that he needs to win over.

BASH: And Pramila Jayapal.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, the -- if anything, the winner in the short term, really with over the course of the past few days. Look, she was given power here and she's taking advantage of it. She is using it. The progressive -- you just heard Mondaire Jones say a little bit earlier that some of these ideas in the reconciliation package, they don't think of it as fringe, you know, Jayapal falls into that category.

They believe that the policies in that larger sweeping package are the centerpiece of the President's agenda. They looked at the September 27th deadline for bringing the infrastructure package to a vote as a point of frustration.

They -- she held her ground yesterday, and now they are going to be enjoying this time for now, but invested in that reconciliation package and at this point, probably not going to move off them.

BASH: And using their leverage. Kyrsten Sinema, in addition to Joe Manchin is also using her leverage and a 50-50 Senate.

FOX: Yes, and she's got a lot of backlash from some of her Democratic colleagues who don't think she's been very forthcoming about where she stands. And I did a lot of reporting on her this week. And one thing that's very clear, she's crystal clear about where she stands with the President and his team, and the majority leader. And that's all she thinks she needs to negotiate with, she's not going to negotiate with everyone. And she says this all the time, she is not going to negotiate in the press.

But she is somebody who is out there and fiercely independent, just like Joe Manchin is, but she really believes that, again, these social safety net programs shouldn't all be permanent. And she has some real concerns about some of the ways that you raise revenue in tax increases to get there.

BASH: And I will take Josh Gottheimer, as the co-chair of the problem solvers caucus, it's the Democrat and Republican who run it together, and he is the one who pushed Nancy Pelosi to have, frankly, what is has been an arbitrary deadline, it was this past week, September 27th, to say, you must, or I will, she promised to put the bipartisan infrastructure bill on the House floor. And the point was to get things going to put pressure on the Democratic caucus more broadly, to try to get a deal on this other social safety net.

You know what, let me go to Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader who's speaking right now.


REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): And we're going to have additional discussions of how that end is accomplished.


BASH: OK, obviously, we're -- we got to the tail end there. But he said that there is going to be another meeting of House Democrats this afternoon, which maybe isn't surprising. But you know, they're obviously optimistic that if they have another meeting that they will get someplace between now and then.

FOX: Well, that's the hope, but they've been trying to get some place from Monday to now and they aren't quite there yet. I think the question is, can they get consensus within the Democratic caucus about whether to bring this to the floor or to wait? Can they get some consensus to get Pelosi more on that?

BASH: Because the key is if they bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the House floor, and the progressive say we're not there yet. We don't feel comfortable that we have agreement on this other bill, they will vote no. They've met that made that clear. They have the power. They have the numbers. And they're not afraid to use either. So everybody stand by.


Up next, a new book about how women took the reigns in what became known as the resistance in the Trump era.


BASH: More than any modern president, Donald Trump remains the unquestioned leader of his party after losing the White House. These numbers tell us why. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans want him there. His fingerprints are all over the coming midterms in 2022. And he's signaling in every way he can that in 2024 he wants at this point to get back in. So it raises a big question, with the same forces that beat Trump in 2020 be able to do it again?

Well, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin has a new book out on the essential role of women and the role that they played in that election and throughout the Trump administration. It's called "Resistance: How Women Saved Democracy from Donald Trump." And Jennifer Rubin joins me now. Thank you so much.

So the story starts of course in 2016, and you write about the reason women were so shell shocked by Hillary Clinton's loss. And I want to read a bit of your book. You wrote, millions of women found infuriating that the archetypal example of more qualified -- a more qualified woman losing to a less qualified man, no, make that an utterly and obviously unqualified man, prevailed.


JENNIFER RUBIN, WASHINGTON POST OPINION COLUMNIST: Exactly. And I think it was not only an unqualified man, but one who was openly misogynistic, who insulted women who had a long list of women who had complained about sexual assault or sexual harassment. So I think women woke up that morning, and they couldn't believe that their country had elected this guy. And their initial reaction was shock. But then they roll up their sleeves and started getting going.

BASH: And you write about that how women organically organized, it was kind of old fashioned, grassroots movements that happened across the country. And they did it in a way to get the attention of lawmakers and made a difference in some key issues. You talked about reaching John McCain, for example, who famously voted against the Obamacare repeal, they did it by getting everyday citizens to lobby him on rural hospitals.

RUBIN: Exactly. And it was really an all hands on deck moment, there were women in positions of authority either in Congress, in the Senate, in Washington think tanks, and then there were women out on the street. Most of your viewers have heard of indivisible, which was hundreds of thousands of people. About 75 percent of those were women who decided to get up off the couch, go out there and try to save Obamacare.

But more importantly, to rack up a win against Donald Trump, and you're exactly right that women went from a group of six or eight or 10 or 20, in their living room, to putting together networks of 2, 3,000 people, some of them running for office, some of them volunteering, others becoming advocates, and it really was a complete change in many of these women's lives that they became politically engaged for the first time.

BASH: You also talk about women candidates, and how they do their homework and they get punished for it, specifically the women running for the Democratic nomination in 2020. You write, the more policy papers the women generated, the more scrutiny they got. Meanwhile, among the men, only Joe Biden seemed to have made an effort to generate anything close to the policy specificity that the women senators had come up with I was -- I have to tell you, I'm going to hold this up.

You can't see it, but our viewers can. I was laughing because as I was reading that I looked at my book, and all the dog years that I was doing my homework for this interview, and I thought OK, that's kind of classic. What did that tell you?

RUBIN: I think it tells me that women have an uphill climb, men assume as Stacey Abrams said to me in an interview, they roll out of bed, have a good hair day and decide they're going to run for president. They don't have to justify themselves. They don't have to have a track record.

They just have things to say, and they're going to get out there and do that. And women, on the other hand, tend to need an origin story. Why was it that I came into politics, and to do all of their homework, good grief between Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren, there must have been 3,000 white papers that were generated in those two election cycles.

And sometimes that works to get over the hurdle of credibility. And sometimes it doesn't. And I think having to compete against men who not only didn't have any policies, but didn't have any experience to speak up was quite contrast for many of these women running in 2020.

Jennifer Rubin, your book is "Resistance: How Women Saved Democracy from Donald Trump." We can talk later about whether or not you think democracy is fully saved. That's going to be another time. Thank you for joining me.


But we have breaking news on the whereabouts of a key senator in the ongoing negotiations on Capitol Hill. That's up after the break. Stay with us.


BASH: Topping our Political Radar, a development on Capitol Hill. CNN is just learning one of the key players in the massive tug of war on the Democratic agenda left town. Sources tell us that Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema flew home earlier today for a medical appointment, sources ad that she continues to negotiate remotely with the White House.

And Justice Brett Kavanaugh tested positive for coronavirus. Kavanaugh who was fully vaccinated tested positive during a routine test he took Thursday ahead of an event. This is the first known COVID case among Supreme Court justices. The court says all of the justices are tested weekly and all tested negative. On Monday, Kavanaugh says he has no symptoms and is feeling well.

And the free Britney movement may have even freed more people. As of today a bill named for the pop star, Britney Spears, was signed into law on Thursday in California. The bill raises the bar for conservators requiring them to disclose fees and crackdown on conflicts of interest. It would also punish those who aren't acting on behalf of the conservatee. The law will go into effect in 2023 or 2024.

And Happy Birthday Jimmy Carter, the oldest living president turns 97 today. Carter will celebrate his birthday privately at his Plains, Georgia home. And Carter's Presidential Library shared this video montage on Twitter saying, it was 97 years in 97 seconds. The President wished his predecessor happy birthday on Twitter this morning sharing a vintage photo of the pair.


Thank you so much for joining Inside Politics. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.