Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Biden Considers Stricter Testing For All Travelers To U.S.; Dr. Oz Running As Republican In Crowded PA Senate Race; Rep. Ilhan Omar Shares New Death Threat Voicemail. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired December 01, 2021 - 12:30   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And they are also considering, John, having people retest several days after they get back into the United States because health experts have said this is kind of a missing hole here where people take that one test, they get into the United States, but maybe they don't start to show symptoms or test positive until several days later.

And so another thing under consideration that they were debating last night is whether or not even fully vaccinated Americans should have to test again, several days after getting back into the United States, something that is recommended by the CDC right now, but not required. So we'll see if that changes. And John, we should know is they are ramping up surveillance at four major airports in the United States where you see a lot of those international flights come into. They are also considering or they're also having airlines collect passenger information. Give that to the CDC so the CDC can then turn it over to these state and public health departments in case they need to contact trace and get in touch with those people who are coming from these nations where we know the Omicron variant has been found.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Kaitlan Collins, appreciate the latest from the White House. Let's get some insights now and expertise of Dr. Megan Ranney. She's Associate Dean of Public Health at Brown University. Dr. Ranney is what you just heard, does that make sense? Do you think that's an overreaction? Or is that sound public health?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, BROWN UNIVERSITY: That is absolutely scientifically appropriate and is something that many of us have been calling for, for months. I would love to see an additional requirement of vaccination for all air travelers, not just foreign nationals, but for U.S. citizens as well, in order to fly internationally and ideally domestically to great strategy to reduce the spread of this disease.

That said, although it is certainly scientifically appropriate, this is logistically complex to do. I'm curious to hear how the federal government proposes to keep track of folks after they've landed, and to make sure that they actually complete that testing two to three days later.

KING: Right, the logistical challenge of that. I just want to bring up on the screen, the map. And this is not complete now, because we've added even a couple more countries, but 25 cases so far, 25 nations so far have reported Omicron, not yet here in the United States. But listen here, Dr. Ranney, this is Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the NIH, he says that the administration is going to be extremely cautious with this new variant even though South African doctors say so far they're seeing only moderate cases, Dr. Collins says we need to be careful because this one is complicated.


DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH: We're all concerned that Omicron has such a large number of mutations more than 50 that all the things that we've done to try to generate immunity against this virus. This is a somewhat different animal.


KING: Help translate that for lay people. My take on that is he's saying that this particular mutation, they're not sure where it's headed, so they want to be extra careful.

RANNEY: That's exactly right. I think we're trying to learn from our mistakes of 2020 and of 2021. We have to take this new variant seriously, but not over panic. Remember, even with these mutations, chances are that all of the traditional strategies, vaccinations, certainly but also masks, ventilation, and testing are still going to be our most important tools in fighting it. And so we need to double down on those. But we can't ignore the mutations and pretend that this new variant doesn't exist. We're then setting ourselves up for the same problems that we've had with a Delta variant.

So it's that we have a smoke alarm. Don't yet know if it's a five alarm fire. Let's get the fire extinguishers and the fire trucks ready to go while we figure out the details.

KING: Dr. Ranney as always, appreciate your insights. We'll keep in touch as we learn more about Omicron in the days and weeks ahead. Appreciate it very much.


Ahead for us, it's official, T.V.'s Dr. Oz running for Senate in Pennsylvania, and he clearly hopes to become Donald Trump's new favorite.


KING: Celebrity surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz has made not one but two "Fox News" appearances in the 24 hours since jumping into the Republican primary hoping to be Pennsylvania's next senator. He's praising former President Trump and criticizing President Biden's COVID mandates.


DR. MEHMET OZ (R-PA), SENATE CANDIDATE: I think one of the greatest accomplishments of America is that we gave the world the mRNA vaccines through President Trump's Operation Warp Speed. I'm so happy that we were able to do that. And I got vaccinated and I believe in vaccines. I don't believe in mandates. And I also don't believe it's the only path to success.


KING: That Pennsylvania raised one of the big battlegrounds in the 2022 fight for control of the Senate, more than a dozen Republicans have said they're running. Oz is clearly hoping to win the Trump endorsement. It is up for grabs, because the candidate who had Trump's backing, bowed out amid a nasty custody battle that included abuse allegations.

The panel is back to discuss. Number one, just that somebody actually was pro vaccine on "Fox" is a good thing. So Dr. Oz should keep going on "Fox" if he keep saying that. This is an interesting now, you have a celebrity candidate in a race that could well be one of the one or two or three we're looking at next November for which party controls the Senate.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, right. Also, first of all, Dr. Oz not a great Jeopardy host just to get that out there. But it's been really into Senate primaries in the Republican or Senate Republican primary races are going to be really interesting for the next midterm cycle. And it's almost like a housification of the Senate Republican Conference where you're seeing Republican candidates in these key races really dominated and really driven by their loyalty to the former president who has such still a major grip on the party.

And just to see, you know, for example, in Alabama to go from a Richard Shelby to a Mo Brooks or to a Roy -- from a Roy Blunt to an Eric Greitens, a Pat Toomey to a cast of characters, which now includes Dr. Oz. It could have significant implications for governing first of all if Republicans do take control the Senate as well. So there are a lot of dynamics here. It will be interesting to watch.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes and it also opens the question about whether any of those three key states that will control the control of the Senate, whether those Republicans can win. Missouri is a bit different, obviously, than Pennsylvania, which is a blue, more of a blue state. And so that is -- that has been was a Mitch McConnell's big challenge back in 2010 and 2012 that he had these Republicans elected or nominated, who couldn't win state wise, why? Dr. Oz is obviously different for a whole host of reasons. We'll see if he wins the nomination, but he is a celebrity. And that goes a very, very long way, as long as you can prove that you have even the most basic of policy chops.

KING: Right. Go ahead.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, yes, I mean, ideally, he would actually live in Pennsylvania. He does now. He lives in New Jersey. So in that way, he certainly different from a lot of the other folks in the field, it will be interesting to see is his strategy clearly is to hug Donald Trump, right? We saw in Virginia, the strategy there with that gubernatorial race and how it was sort of an arm's length. When it came to Trump, he's clearly doing something different. Is that really going to be an effective strategy for him? We also saw from that race that the statewide races are about the state or about sort of local issues that people care about. He doesn't know anything about Pennsylvania. He doesn't live there. You know, he has some ties there. I think he went to school there. His wife is from there. I think his in laws live there. But I think that's going to be a real test for him. Can he actually convince people --

KING: That is as you watch the other Republicans --


KING: -- were probably come with -- come at that, the carpet beggar idea. But number one, why do you want Trump to embrace you. Look at this. This is a compilation of polling at polls averaged out, but the President's approval rating among Pennsylvania Republicans is off the charts, about 75 percent. Number two, you're right. It'll be about local issues. But will people press Dr. Oz? Number one, he sold some quackery diets in the like, online. He's tried to make his name off of that.

But during COVID, you heard him just they're talking about vaccinations. And again, that's a plus to have a Republican candidate saying vaccines are good, amen. But early on in COVID, he said some things that people thought were really off, off, just not polite, not decent. And he corrected them. Listen.


OZ: I just saw a nice piece of "The Lancet" arguing that the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3 percent in terms of total mortality. And, you know, that's -- any life is a life loss. But to get every child back into a school where they're safely being educated, being fed, and making the most out of their lives with a theoretical risk in the backside, it might be a tradeoff, some folks will consider.

I've realized my comments and risks around opening schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention. I misspoke.


KING: Tried to clean that up.

BASH: Yes.

KING: Because it sounded, it just sounded crass.

BASH: Well, it did. Absolutely when you're talking about the lives of children. But it's not just that. There are other, you alluded to the fact that he had to come before Congress because of allegations and questions about things that he was pushing that, you know, that drugs and programs that weren't necessarily what he was selling them as. You know, those are going to be absolutely part of the political conversation.

Everything, you know, when I said that, when you're a celebrity, obviously, you have name I.D., which is huge in politics. That's the plus. The downside is when you're a celebrity, you have name I.D. and therefore and you have a history that has nothing to do with politics, and therefore you have a giant target.

KING: Right. There are a lot of things in the tape library to go through. It makes a lot of appearances on local news and all that around too. There's a lot of things in the tape library to go through but welcome to the race Dr. Oz.


Up next for us, the Republican family feud over hate and bigotry and its new mean girls twist. In that fight, Marjorie Taylor Greene says guess what? Donald Trump is on her side.


KING: House Republicans are well a hot mess of hate and turmoil at the moment. And their leader seems powerless to stop it. Kevin McCarthy has not publicly condemned racist and Islamophobic comments by one Republican lawmaker and his efforts in private to get the caucus to stop stirring controversy and stop fighting among themselves are so far failing and failing big time. Marjorie Taylor Greene is one of those McCarthy asked to dial it back. Instead, she promised to back a primary challenge to a Republican colleague and again played her trump card.

Obviously I love that man, Greene said of the former president. And I have his support 1,000 percent. And unfortunately, Nancy Mace doesn't. Greene went on to say, I will be very supportive of a primary challenger to Mace along with President Trump. McCarthy also asked Mace to stop the infighting. But --


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): You say that something that's bad and crazy, you say something extreme, you're going to raise money. And that is the only reason that she does that. I mean, she's a grifter of the first order. And she does it to raise money. She takes advantage of vulnerable Americans and vulnerable conservatives and makes promises she cannot keep.


KING: Fact check, true.

BASH: Yes.

KING: However, there's a number of issues to get in here. Number one, the bigger issue is the leader of the Republican, House Republicans has not publicly condemned a vile racist Islamophobic comment. He wants to deal what he thinks it's best to deal with this privately. That's not leadership. KIM: It isn't. And again, you know, it wasn't that long ago when Kevin McCarthy was kicking people off committees for their offensive comments, for example, Steve King. And he -- but he is driven clearly by other motivations right now. I'm sure when we when reporters see him in public later this week that he will get asked about this but it shouldn't take pressing by reporters to condemn such vile comments by a member of their party.


HENDERSON: But it also gets at the ways in which bigotry, racism, Islamophobia has real currency among Republican voters. You heard Nancy Mace there say she preys on vulnerable conservatives. I don't really know what she's talking about there, this stuff works with a wide swath of the Republican Party, which is why Kevin McCarthy is so reluctant to stand up to it because he knows this is where the base is.

BASH: Yes, but that --

HENDERSON: Go ahead.

KING: I was just going to say if you listened to Republicans coming out of their meeting today, this is Don Bacon of Nebraska. He represents the swing district and I want to give him credit. He said later in this interview, he doesn't like what Lauren Boebert said about Ilhan Omar. And he wishes that she would not say those things publicly. He says it's disrespectful. People should learn to operate and respect. But listen to his first reaction when Manu Raju asked him, why do you think it's important that the fighting stop?


REP. DON BACON (R-NE): I am concerned because we're just going through the polling numbers today. We have significant leads in polling with independence, the generic polling on every major issue. We should not be shooting ourselves in the foot with infighting and it's not appropriate.


KING: Again, he said -- he's a decent man. And he said some things later, but that the first reflex is, we will be in power if we just shut our mouths that it's all about winning power.

BASH: Listen, he's candid. He's explaining the reality, the political reality that they're talking about. But and he's also said it's not appropriate. But the bigger question is, what you were saying is, why isn't the Republican leadership condemning what started this whole thing, which is Lauren Boebert, one of their own, calling a fellow member of Congress, just because she happens to be Muslim, a terrorist.

I mean, that is what is not being condemned. And Nancy Mace is filling the void of Kevin McCarthy. She's doing it in a little bit of a way that, you know, we're not used to. Let me just also quickly say that Nancy Pelosi in their meeting this morning, she talked with her caucus about what they're going to do. The question is, whether since they're in charge of the House, whether they're going to do anything, and she said, this is hard, because these people are doing it for publicity.

There's a judgment that has to be made about how we contribute to their fundraising and their publicity and how obnoxious and disgusting they can be. But I do think it has to be clear that there is no place for that. So they're also weighing how much do we kind of feed into to their ridiculousness.

KING: But again, to the question I keep raising about the test of publicly condemning this, to your point about, that's a test of leadership, you don't have to agree with Ilhan Omar's politics. You can disagree, you can oppose everything she believes in, but when these things are allowed to happen, it encourages, listen, she came to a press conference yesterday and she played a voicemail to her.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come get it -- you -- Muslim piece of --, you Jihadist. We know what you are. You're a -- traitor. You will not live much longer --, I can almost guarantee you that.


KING: Leaders regardless of party have to publicly condemn it or you encourage that, it's just plain and simple. You have to make clear that that is unacceptable.


When we come back, horror and grief in the Michigan suburb today after a deadly shooting at a high school. Some new details in that case next.


KING: A sad update just into us. We're just learning a fourth student died this morning that after a shooting at a suburban Michigan high school yesterday afternoon. Seven other people were injured. The shooter a 15-year-old student at Oxford High School is now in custody and on suicide watch. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is on the ground for us live now in Oakland County, Michigan. Shimon?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the sheriff here announcing just a short time ago that another student has died 17-year-old Justin Schilling. That makes the fourth student to have died here in this shooting, really just a sad situation. There are other people in the hospital as well. There's also a 14-year-old girl also in the hospital that officials here are very worried about who's fighting for her life.

And as you said the 15-year-old suspected gunman, the alleged shooter, he's in custody in a juvenile facility. The sheriff saying that they're hoping that the prosecutor will charge him as an adult. They're going to present some of the preliminary findings to the prosecutor and that we could see charges filed as early as today.

The sheriff also expected to hold a 3:00 p.m. presser today to update us with any new information, John.

KING: Anything Shimon at all yet on motive?

PROKUPECZ: No. And that's the big thing. They have writings from the alleged shooter. They're looking at those. They're looking at his phone, computer, and obviously social media but right now the sheriff saying that this was a random attack, saying that he was firing indiscriminately. He saw the video, the sheriff, saw all the video and from what he could see, this is just cold blooded murder. He said that the alleged shooter walked around through the hallways of the schools and just firing at people indiscriminately.

KING: That's horrific. Shimon, thank you for the live reporting from the scene, obviously the sheriff can brief more later today. With the Omicron variant now raising many new questions, Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta come together tonight with Dr. Anthony Fauci for an all new CNN global town hall, that's good Coronavirus: Facts and Fears live tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern.


Thanks for joining us today in Inside Politics. Hope to see you back here this time tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now. Have a good day.