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Seventy Million Eligible Americans Remain Unvaccinated; WAPO: Trump Talked Out Of Announcing 2024 Bid For Now; Justices To Take Up Abortion, Gun Rights, And Religious Liberty. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 04, 2021 - 12:30   ET



DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: This is in your community. What the risk is in the setting in which you're going to be pulling people together, do you have young kids who are unvaccinated who may be asymptomatic and you have older people in the setting who are at risk of COVID if they contract it?

You know, you can use testing in that kind of a scenario, test people before they enter a setting where they're going to be getting together to reduce the chances they introduced an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infection.

So there's things people can do now. We have better tools to try to reduce risk, including vaccination, making sure as many people as possible vaccinated. But, you know, the CDC recommendations about trying to do things outdoors versus indoors where possible, improve air ventilation, all that's good advice. I think it's telling people not to get together, though, is impractical. We need to tell people how to do it safely.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: So you mentioned testing would -- and how testing would help with celebrations. You write about the importance of testing in your book. What do you think at this stage of the pandemic, about the testing situation? They're easier to come by, production, though, is not that robust?

GOTTLIEB: Yes, look, there's not a lot of the tests that people prefer, which are tests like the BinaxNOW or the Lucira test where you can do it at home, it's simple to use, you get a result within 15 minutes. There are certain tests like the Caudal tests that are available in the pharmacies, they're a little bit more complicated to use, consumers don't prefer them.

So the tests that consumers prefer are the tests that are in shortage right now. I think there's more we could do to ramp up production. I also think there's more the government can do to try to subsidize the availability of these tests to people who are still priced out of the market. And even a BinaxNOW, a box of two is about $25. That's a lot of money if people want to use the test in a serial fashion to test themselves regularly.

In other countries, like the U.K., they're providing these tests for free to consumers. I think we could be doing much more to help people get access to them.

BASH: Let's talk about the state of the pandemic right now. Hospitalization and deaths are declining. That is good news. Last year, at this time, we saw a surge in new cases heading into the winter. But given what we're seeing now, given the reality of the vaccines, and so forth, could this possibly be the beginning of the end of this pandemic?

GOTTLIEB: Well, I believe that this Delta surge is going to be the last major surge of infection that we see, barring something unexpected, where you get a new variant that pierces the immunity we've acquired from vaccination or from previous infection, it's more likely going to be the case that any new variants that come along are going to be different versions of this Delta variant that's going to be a different lineage within this Delta subclade.

And in fact, there's 20 different subtypes of delta right now. So on the back end of this Delta surge, we should see prevalence decline, you're going to have a population that has a very high level of immunity either through vaccination or through prior infection on the back end of his Delta surge.

Now, Delta isn't done with us. I mean cases are coming down very sharply in the south. That's creating the illusion that things are improving nationally, but you see very dense outbreaks right now in the West and the Midwest, Alaska, West Virginia.

It is a big question mark whether the Northeast is somewhat impervious to a big Delta surge because of the high rates of vaccination and previous infection, or are we going to see a Delta wave of our own. But I think by Thanksgiving, hopefully with through this Delta wave across the country and then back end of this, prevalence should decline.

BASH: Children ages five to 11 could be able to get a Pfizer vaccine relatively soon, maybe in about a month or so depending on what the FDA does. Having said that one-third, one-third of parents say they will get their child vaccinated right away.

Another third says they want to wait and see. And the last third says that they are less likely to get their child vaccinated. What is your message to the two-thirds of parents who say, right now they're not going to get their child vaccinated, or at least when it's available?

GOTTLIEB: Right, I mean, and you're right of the timing, October 26th, the FDA is going to meet to discuss the application from Pfizer for ages five to 11. I'm on the board of Pfizer. You know, could see an authorization by the FDA shortly after that. The agency feels the data firms, the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and CDC would presumably meet very quickly to give guidelines on who should receive it.

What I would tell people, you know, a lot of people are reluctant because there's a perception that these vaccines were developed very quickly. And we came up with the vaccine constructs very quickly, but there was nothing shortcut about the development programs. These were the largest clinical outcome studies probably in modern times. The only study I remember when I was at FDA that was larger than the clinical trials we undertook for these COVID vaccines was the rotavirus vaccine, a pediatric vaccine that enrolled 60,000 patients. But Moderna and Pfizer combined enrolled about 90,000 patients.

And we now have a situation where we've distributed about 300 million doses in the U.S. of these vaccines, about I think 6 billion now globally of different kinds of vaccines. We have well more than a year and a half of data.

So the dataset that we have on which to base our assumptions about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines is enormous and it's been -- data that's been carried out over a long period of time. So people who feel that these are novel and we don't have a lot of data to inform decisions, we actually do have very good data sets in which to inform our judgments about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines.


BASH: Such important context. Thank you so much for that. Dr. Scott Gottlieb your book is right here. The book is called "Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic." Thank you so much for joining me.

GOTTLIEB: Thanks a lot.

BASH: And coming up, Donald Trump laying the groundwork for 2024. The former president reportedly asked advisors when he should announce his candidacy. We'll have details, next.



BASH: New reporting on Donald Trump's future presidential ambitions. Three sources tell "The Washington Post" that Trump asked advisors whether he should announce his 2024 bid for the White House after the chaotic exit in Afghanistan. And those advisors, quote, urged patience, that's the quote, patience.

But behind the scenes, there's concern that Democrats could benefit during the 2022 midterms, if Trump decides to jump into the presidential race. Before that our panel is back to discuss and Jackie, if you listen to those advisors, which is a big if just politically, strategically speaking, they have a good point.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, right, because running against Donald Trump is very much a playbook that has worked for some Democrats in the past, not all Democrats, I guess we're going to see what happens in Virginia to see if that attack still works during that governor's race.

But certainly, when Democrats have someone to run against, that's not someone like a Mitch McConnell, that can make a really big difference if President or former President Trump has his hat in the ring at that point. BASH: The ultimate foil. Ryan, you're walking around the Hill every day, he doesn't need to announce at all to have a hold on the party, the Republican Party.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And I think the other question is, does Donald Trump care whether or not getting in early impacts the midterms. You know, he talks a good game about wanting Republican majorities in the House and Senate. But ultimately, I think his political career has taught us that he's only out for one person, and that's himself.

But you know, I think the House is the most interesting battleground for this, because that's where they view their best opportunity to retake the Congress. And if you have some of these marginal districts, and you have a Trump presidential campaign looming over that, not just a fictional campaign or perhaps a campaign in waiting, that's just another thing these candidates are going to have to answer for. As you mentioned, in Virginia, every time Glenn Youngkin get in front of any reporter, one of the first questions is where are you with Donald Trump?

So the -- a fully official presidential campaign complicates that for sure. But there's also no doubt that it does motivate a certain part of his base that is not engaged in the political process, unless he himself is a part of it both good and bad.

BASH: And Eva, I know you've been doing some digging on the whole fight that the former president is waging through his lawyers to get back on Twitter --


BASH: -- which is all part of that. I just want to, as you answer, I want to read to our viewers see what the argument his lawyers made, by de-platforming the presumptive head of the most -- and the most popular member of the Republican Party.

Twitter is threatening irreparable damage to the Republican Party's prospects in the 2022 and 2024 elections. Ironic that you said the truth, Ryan about what he really cares about, but this is about a legal process and an argument.

MCKEND: Yes. We're seeing a real desperation from the former president to get back on Twitter. He sees this as a way to speak directly to his supporters. And he feels, you know, really robbed of this platform. We've seen him have starts and stops with other ways, failed effort, I think on a blog. And so that is why he is fighting so hard to get back on Twitter. He sees it as directly tied to his political aspirations and a return ticket to the White House.

NOBLES: It's crazy when you think he's given all this noise to starting his own platform, claiming that he alone could create a social media, you know, tidal wave if he just decided to get into something but in reality, he understands that Twitter is, in large part, what made him who he is. KUCINICH: I can tell you that the vulnerable Republicans do get confronted by people on the Hill saying, hey, can you -- what do you think of this treat and actually reading it to them? They don't.

NOBLES: Right, yes, they certainly do not.

BASH: I was thinking that as I was reading the legal statement saying, it's a detriment to the Republican Party, I think even those who love him would probably say, no, I don't think so.

Let's quickly listen to Stephanie Grisham. She's out with a new book. She was the President's former press secretary, whenever held a press conference, but she most -- mostly had her job at the White House with the First Lady then Melania Trump listened to what she said this morning.


STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER WH PRESS SECRETARY: Once he takes office, if he were to win, he doesn't have to worry about reelection anymore. He will be about revenge. He will probably have some pretty draconian policies that go on. There were conversations a lot of times that people would say that'll be the second term. That'll be the second term, meaning we won't have to worry about, you know, a reelection.


MCKEND: I mean, the book is called, I'll take your questions now, and she didn't take questions from reporters in her position. So I don't know really what to make of this. It really seems like a rehabilitation tour that she has aspirations to do something outside of President Trump and Trump world and doesn't see her career is tied to his and so that is why she, you know, we're getting this from her now. But where was she? Why didn't she speak up at a time when it could have really mattered?


NOBLES: She also probably wants to make some money, right? I mean, we see a lot of these former Trump officials trying to cash out from their time in the Trump White House. And I think this is probably another example.

BASH: Yes. Having said all that, take -- point taken, what she says about the fact that you thought it was -- that you thought Trump, the first Trump term was wild, just wait for Trump 2.0 because I was in these conversations about all the things that they wanted to do in the second term when he didn't have to face voters again. You know, we'll see.

KUCINICH: That'll be an ad there.

BASH: Yes, exactly, exactly, exactly. All right, everybody stand by.

This morning, the Supreme Court kicked off a blockbuster term, we're going to bring you up to speed on what's happening. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BASH: Today the Supreme Court is kicking off a very consequential new term. It's also the first time the justices are back inside the courtroom hearing arguments in person in more than a year because of course of the pandemic. Now Justice Brett Kavanaugh is participating remotely because he tested positive for COVID late last week.

On the docket this fall are some of the most divisive issues in America, including abortion, gun rights, and religious liberty. CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue is joining our panel. So let's get to the news this morning, Ariane, Clarence Thomas, who is famously reluctant to answer -- excuse me, to ask questions, he didn't do so for many, many, many terms --


BASH: -- asked the first question this morning. What's the significance?

DE VOGUE: Right. That tells you so much about this new term? Because --

BASH: Yes.

DE VOGUE: -- for years and years and years, we covered the court he rarely asked any questions. Today, he was first out of the gate in two cases, both of them under the radar. But in many ways, this is now his court. And it's also his term, because of these big cases that we're going to be hearing. These are seeds that he's planted for years and years. And, you know, now he's in the majority.

What's interesting also on the bench Justice Kavanaugh wasn't there because remember, last week, he got diagnosed with COVID. So he called in Justice Barrett was there for the first time in her own seat. And Justice Sotomayor was there. She was the only one wearing a mask because she has a preexisting condition. So she's very careful with her diabetes.

But the backdrop of this term is unbelievable. We have never seen the public confidence is at an all-time low. And the country is still reeling in so many ways from that Texas abortion order that basically allowed that Texas law to go into effect making Roe v. Wade a dead letter in the second biggest state. So now we're looking at this new term, like you said, we've got this religious liberty case with a big Second Amendment case.

And of course, most important, we've got this abortion case, this case out of Mississippi, it's a 15-week ban. It's the most important case the court has heard in 30 years on abortion. And it's a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

BASH: Yes. And I'm glad you brought that up. And you also mentioned public opinion, at an all-time low of the Supreme Court. Let's talk about public opinion, when it comes to the number one issue that they're going to be talking about, which they are dealing with on the court this term, which is abortion.

CNN did a poll of polls, fewer than one-third of Americans want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. And that is according to that, again, to the poll of polls. Jackie, Ariane said something so important that this is Clarence Thomas's term because for 30 years, the seeds that conservatives planting -- planted are now bearing fruit.

That is true on all of these issues. And the most important is abortion, which is why the Mississippi case is even an issue because they intentionally put it through the courts in order to make it through the pipeline to get her to the Supreme Court.

KUCINICH: And while you're seeing democrats seize on this as a potential 2022 issue, Democrats have never been very good about making the Supreme Court an issue.

It's not something that makes Democratic voters march to the polls, but abortion and right -- and abortion rights certainly is. And so you're -- I think you're going to see more and more, particularly as we watch this play out, Democrats start talking about that, in their home states and in these marginal races.

BASH: And Eva, one of the reasons politicians do actually talk about things is old fashioned grassroots energy. And we saw that over the weekend.

We saw women's marches all over the country, women on this specific issue. They chose this weekend because of the term at the Supreme Court starting today. How much politically will not just Democrats, but even some, the few moderate Republicans left. Listen to that.

MCKEND: Yes, I mean, absolutely. Abortion is an issue that galvanizes folks on both sides of that issue. And it's not something that the justices seem to really enjoy. They spent a lot of time saying that, you know, we aren't political enemies, that this is about judicial philosophy. And I understand why they're making that argument out of concern about the legacy both for themselves and the court.

But that is a hard argument to make when particularly for the most marginalized groups in this country. There is a real impact on the decisions that they make and they don't just view it as a judicial philosophy but as a matter of life and death for many of these issues that they will be ruling on this term.


NOBLES: Yes, and I think to what this law in Texas has done, and then subsequently this debate in the Supreme Court is it's forced Republicans to be more than just a tagline to save their prolife. They're being forced to answer very specific questions about the application of a ban on abortion. And what also it means about the broader impact on women's health care, which is why you're finding it a difficult campaign issue for them. BASH: Such an important point. Thank you all very much for your reporting and your insights. Thank you for joining Inside Politics. Boris Sanchez picks up our coverage right after a quick break.