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VP Kamala Harris Tests Positive For COVID-19; Judge Temporarily Blocks WH From Ending COVID Border Restrictions; PA GOP Sen. Candidates Oz & McCormick Spar On COVID And Trump. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 26, 2022 - 12:30   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It is. And you know, I think for all of us, you know, hopefully, as we've noted, the Vice President vaccinated, boosted, it's unlikely that this is going to be a threat to her life, especially if she's asymptomatic.

So, assuming that's how it plays out, I mean, the question is always the President of United States, he's an older person who is at more risk of significant side effects from COVID. And if you think about the political environment, and how this is all become, you know, whether you wear a mask or not, it's kind of like waving a red or a blue flag, right? Which team are you on?

And that's a real problem when you're just trying to protect yourself or make a decision about, hey, I'm more vulnerable than you are. I maybe need to wear a mask. It's fine with me, if you don't. You know, they have to make all of these kinds of decisions in a much different environment.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And the timing matters in this case, because the Vice President is not a close contact to the President and the First Lady because she's been out on the road.

But it reminds you, number one, President and Vice President always have jobs to do that include travel, but we're in the middle, it's just heating up in a midterm election campaign where, yes, COVID is not what it was six months ago, or certainly a year ago, but it is still with us when you have whether it's the President, the Vice President, incumbent members of Congress, and senators all out there again now in these group settings.

HANS NICHOLS, POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: The White House has changed their posture. And we've all kind of covered the White House. They all have their own rhythms. They have their own patterns. This White House has gone to -- I don't want to say COVID doesn't exist pattern, because that's not the right way to say it.

But they're living their lives in a more open way. You see the President on the road, you see the Vice President of the road. You just saw the President doing his first on the road fundraisers out in Portland and Seattle.

HUNT: You suppose to come to the White House Correspondents Dinner. NICHOLS: He says a great point, right? They are going through the motions I -- and we can take a poll and a survey, and if we're all on camera, at the White House Correspondents Dinner, but I suspect a lot of us aren't going to have our masks on. And they'll be able to see Kasie and I when we tell jokes to each other and smile and laugh at jokes that we shouldn't laugh.

But to be serious about it, the White House has a plan for this. They're prepared for it and look at how smooth the communication rollout has been that the Vice President United States has just tested, they got all the information out very quickly. I would be shocked if there were not a communications plan on the shelf that they can dust off.

If and when and let's just say it's hopefully it's if and that the President doesn't get COVID but if the President should get COVID, they will have a routine route plan to go to that they can assure the American people who he's talked to, how his health is, and where to go from there.

KING: We continue to track this development, obviously stay with us for more on that breaking news.

Up next for us as well, Biden administration immigration policies, a giant issue in this because campaigns end this week in the federal courts as well.



KING: Today the Supreme Court is hearing arguments about the Remain in Mexico policy. The Biden administration wants to end that Trump era policy, which sends residents from say Central America or other countries to Mexico to await their immigration proceedings to play out. The courts are also involved in the controversy over a separate but important border policy called Title 42.

A federal judge temporarily blocking the Biden administration yesterday from ending Title 42, that Trump era pandemic restriction allows border authorities to turn migrants away because of the coronavirus, saying because it's a public health crisis. Title 42 is set to expire in May, May 23rd.

Our reporters are back to discuss. So you have the federal courts involved in an issue in which check in on a campaign almost anywhere in America. This is a giant issue.

HUNT: In many ways I think politically for the Biden administration. I'm not speaking about the people who obviously been unable to apply for asylum, but for an administration really struggling with what to do, they have been saved by the judge from having making this decision for a couple of weeks, at the very least.

I mean, I think they're going to appeal it. But this potentially depending on how long it stays in place, could prevent all of those pictures of people coming across the border, it's going to end up in the campaign ads.

And they're very real questions about whether the Biden administration has a plan in place to deal with that surge, even if they, you know, say correctly, hey, this doesn't comport with the laws and the constitution of United States the way this is set up. You just have to do something with them once they crossed the border.

And I don't think anyone, you know, HHS and DHS are kind of fighting behind the scenes with each other. And I think members of Congress are rightfully looking at and saying like, this seems like a really bad idea.

KING: Right. And so one of the challenges here when you're covering this issue is this many subsets of it, if you will. I just want to show you a graphic now of U.S.-Mexico border apprehensions by month. This goes back to the Obama administration.

You see the Obama administration on the left, the Trump administration in the middle, you see the Obama administration, relatively flat line, a few spikes, Trump administration goes up to a one high surge and comes down. The Biden administration on the right, if you're Republicans trying to run an ad in a place where you think border security works, just run that graphic.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it almost works anywhere they want to run this ad and this idea that somehow Democrats are soft on immigration, and that the folks who are coming across the border, oppose some sort of threat, whether it's a threat to your health, a threat to your jobs, a threat to your livelihoods. This is a play that Republicans have run very, very successfully, time and time again.

I mean, it was on the idea of, you know, building a wall on the border that Donald Trump won in 2016. That was, you know, the main part of his campaign so many ways we'll see that again. Republicans running a very familiar playbook that is based on essentially an unfounded fear of people coming across the border and who will supposedly do harm to Americans. That's what their idea has been for many, many years now.

KING: And to your point, this plays everywhere, but in the border states, sometimes it places a higher volume. First, I just want to show you, these are Democrats, let me show you a graphic of several Democrats who have told the administration please don't, please don't take away this Trump administration policy Title 42.

You see Mark Kelly there, the yellow highlights around those who are on the ballot this year. Mark Kelly is running for reelection in Arizona. If he goes home and turns on the T.V., he might see this.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you call a politician who votes the party line in Washington says the opposite when he's home in Arizona. You call him Senator Mark Kelly. Kelly votes 97 percent with Biden. Kelly voted to allow restrictions to be lifted, which will cause a massive new border surge. Tell Senator Kelly, stop voting with Biden and against Arizona.


KING: Now, again, Kelly's campaign staff or Senate staff would say, well, wait a minute, yes, sometimes he's with the President, sometimes he's not but welcome to advertising.

NICHOLS: Right. I mean, the ads right themselves, right. And that's why and we've all talked to Democrats in town that are laser like focused on maintaining the majority in both the House and Senate. You don't talk to a single Democratic strategist that thinks that Title 42, the way it is right now is a winning issue for the Democratic Party.

They're trying to figure out how they can defuse this, how can we defuse it politically. There's a humanitarian component as well, Right?

I mean, this is, you mentioned the Constitution, you mentioned these bedrock sort of principles. For Biden, this was always like a, you know, core humanitarian thing that he talked about, and that is having a more humane approach to people who are seeking asylum in this country. But politically, everyone acknowledges.

It's a headache. It's a disaster. And the only real debate is how bad it's going to be for the Democrats on this issue.

KING: Right. And we'll watch it -- we'll watching it play out in the primaries, so we're going to watch it play out throughout the election year. We'll watch the Supreme Court and other courts as well.

When we come back, more on today's important breaking news here in Washington, the Vice President of the United States testing positive for COVID-19.



KING: An update and the big breaking news story this hour, the Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris testing positive today for COVID-19. The White House says she's not showing any symptoms and they say she is not considered a close contact of the President Joe Biden. Harris tested positive this morning when she arrived at the White House and official telling CNN, Vice President last saw the President at the Easter Egg Roll many days ago.

After that she left for California and did not return to Washington until last night. Vice President Harris has received all her coronavirus vaccines including a second booster shot back on April 1st. We're told she is now isolating at her residence, the official residence at the Naval Observatory.

Last night was doubled debate night in Pennsylvania as both the Democrats and Republicans seeking an open Senate seat squared off. The primary is three weeks from today. And with the Republican incumbent retiring, the Pennsylvania seat is one of the few pickup opportunities for Democrats in this very challenging midterm year.

Both debates were feisty at times. The Republican candidates were asked, is it time for the Republican Party to move on from the big lie in the 2020 election?


DR. MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I have discussed with President Trump that we cannot move on.

DAVID MCCORMICK (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: And we have a tragedy here that most Republican voters in Pennsylvania don't believe in the integrity of the election. And there's all sorts of reasons to worry about it.

CARLA SANDS (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Senator Rand Paul said the election of 2020 was stolen by the Zuck bucks, Mark Zuckerberg and his family and his friends, changing the outcome of the election by private money controlling our election.

KATHY BARNETTE (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Absolutely not. There's nothing more important than making sure that my one vote matters. And we feel that elections have consequences.


KING: Kasie Hunt, Nia-Malika Henderson, and Hans Nichols back with me. Look, one of the key tests here in the Republican primary is just Trump's endorsement of Dr. Oz carry weight. But no matter who wins, four out of the five candidates right there saying we can't move on from 2020. We can't move on from a lie.

HENDERSON: Yes, because Donald Trump says we can't move on from the big lie which he invented and spread and keeps at it over, you know, over these last many months when Judy (ph) run for president and I'm sure it'll be central to his campaign then. So yes, we have seen that Donald Trump completely controls the Republican Party.

We'll see what his nominate -- his endorsement in this race does. I think Oz was sort of below McCormick a bit in polling. We'll see if it's enough to catapult him to win on March, in May 17th.

KING: So as you jump in, you mentioned Dr. Oz everybody knows Dr. Oz. David McCormick's, the hedge fund guy has a lot of establishment Republican support, also has a lot of Trump people who support him as well and Trump's endorsement was kind of an issue between them.


OZ: President Trump saw right through him. He therefore did not endorse Mr. McCormick, he endorsed me. President Trump was very clear. I'm America First. MCCORMICK: The reason Mehmet keeps talking about President Trump's endorsement is because he can't run on his own positions and his own records. And what's true is that he has flip flop on every major issue we're talking about in this campaign.

The problem, Doctor, is there's no miracle cure for flip flopping and Pennsylvanians are seeing right through your phoniness and that's what you're dealing with.


KING: There are many on the ballot, but three weeks from today, we get sort of that first big test in a race that really matters. The A, does the Trump endorsement work, and then B, does the Trump endorsement actually hurt you come November?

HUNT: And the number show that it's likely to be one of the two of those people? I mean, I think one of the things that's underlying the insistence that there is a focus on the big lie, et cetera, is that we still are testing the Trump endorsement power.

What we know is that the former president attacking you in the campaign is killer with primary voters. So it's going to be interesting to see especially I think, if McCormick wins this without the Trump endorsement, what happens in a general election where he needs not only Republicans in rural Pennsylvania but also like suburban soccer moms in the area where I grew up outside Philadelphia to vote for him and what is he saying and doing because all the really smart people around President Trump to the extent that there are such people anymore, he's lost, you know, a lot of them. They want him to move on.


They'll tell him in private, like, stop talking about this. If you want to political future, like move on, look ahead. But he is so stuck in this that he's holding basically hostage all of these other people. I mean, this is an interesting one in particular. Dr. Oz has a lot of the characteristics of former President, right?

He's a T.V. star, he's well known to Americans across the board. He's famous that stuff that the former president kind of is attracted to when, you know, all of the former president's advisors are actually working for the other guy.

KING: And so what you mentioned, what does Trump do now in the sense that he's going to have a rally in Pennsylvania on May 6th, so 11 days before the primary, does he just go all in for Oz? Does he hedge his bets a little bit if he's looking at the polling? One of the things McCormick tried to do is, yes, 2020 came up, but we're still in the COVID pandemic. And Mr. McCormick looked at Dr. Oz and said, you can't sell that.


OZ: Under the cover of COVID, there were draconian changes made to our voting laws by Democratic leadership and they have blocked appropriate reviews of some of those decisions.

MCCORMICK: And this is where Mehmet Oz cracks me up because I hear all the statements about COVID now, and this is a guy who on national television said the Chinese were doing a great job with COVID lockdown.


KING: It is one of the risks, Kasie noted, he is a lot like Trump and that Dr. Oz was a T.V. celebrity just like Donald Trump was. Donald Trump was able to get voters to give him a pass on a whole lot of things, tape that people used against him. The question is, does Dr. Oz have that gift?

NICHOLS: Look, I'll be clear, and I'll come clean. I didn't watch the debate. But what I just heard there is David McCormick, giving two pretty good zingers that seemed rehearsed and practiced. And what really stuck out at me is he didn't call him Dr. Oz.

HENDERSON: Right. He calls him Mehmet.

NICHOLS: He calls him Mehmet.

HUNT: Yes. I noticed that too.

NICHOLS: And there's something going on there, right? And in the first line, he ultimately gave him the honor. He talked about it, doctor, at the end. But so, look, no one at this table has any idea how the primary is going to go, none of us.

Like Kaise might because she's from Philadelphia, so I just yield all my time to Kasie who has a much better sense of what's happening in Bucks County or whatnot.

But, you know, what we do know is that this is going to be a knife fight, and there's a lot of money involved. And we should all reconstitute upset on May 6th, and, you know, have a roundtable up there because that's going to be a good debate. I'll watch that one.

KING: OK, you'll watch that one. In the interest of this, the Democrats also debated last night John Fetterman, who's a lieutenant governor, he seems to be the leading candidate. And Connor Lamb, congressman from the Pittsburgh area, says I'm a better general election candidate. I've proven I can win in Republican areas.

The question is, can you sell that in a primary? Electability is a hard one in a primary sometimes it works after losing Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. It worked a little bit for Joe Biden. But does it work here?

HENDERSON: Yes. And listen, Democrats were a little cautious about phentermine and thinking that Lamb would be a better candidate but Fetterman, he has this sort of mystique, and he's a progressive and his issues are kind of a sellable to some of those rural voters. He certainly won't win in these rural counties.

But he might be able to close the gap a little bit in a general election. That's what Democrats think.

KING: It's one of the many great races, primary and then general election on the ballot this year, and we will spend a ton of time on it in the days and weeks.


Ahead, up next for us, though Donald Trump says he will not go back. But do you believe him? Elon Musk is taking over Twitter and Trump just might get the green light to tweet again.


KING: The world's richest person will now be in control of the world's online public square. Twitter's board unanimously approving Elon Musk's bid to buy the social media network for $44 billion. One possible impact Donald Trump could, could be allowed to tweet again.

And the prospect of that is making a lot of Republicans nervous. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan joins us now. So a big change for Twitter, Donie, and potentially, potentially a chance for Trump to come back.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. Trump has said that he's not going to rejoin the platform. But we could see that changing, of course. And look, I mean, I think this really brings a lot of issues to the fore about speech in the United States, right?

A lot of people were very, very supportive, of course, when Trump was kicked off Twitter, back after the insurrection in January 2021. But a lot of people also made the point including even some folks here in Europe, who said, well, should a company have that power? Should a company be able to throw off the leader of the free world at will?

So I think this is going to bring a lot of awkward situations scenarios to fore, for Elon Musk's decisions. You know, we've seen where Marjorie Taylor Greene has been kicked off the platform for a few hours at a time, is that sort of thing going to stop?

And what is Elon Musk going to do when there is hate speech on the platform or possibly when terrorists or others are posting on the platform or have posted on the platform in the past?

So it's not going to be as easy right I think as Musk and his supporters might hope it will be. But I think it's a very, very welcome news for many on the right but for many people to who might have had concerns about the power of these platforms. But of course now this power is going to be concentrated in Musk.

Finally, John, Twitter's have asked the CEO of the company yesterday if Trump would be allowed back on, essentially what the Twitter CEO said was that is up to Elon Musk.

KING: It is up to Elon Musk, the CEO up to Musk. Good to see you my friend and that is a spectacular scene behind you. Jose just come to full screen on Donie for one second there. I just want to see that entire, look at that, Donie has his own castle, a lake and a castle. [13:00:03]

O'SULLIVAN: This is my castle, John.

KING: Donie O'Sullivan, grateful --

O'SULLIVAN: You can come by anytime.

KING: I'm on my way. Good to see you my friend.

Thanks for joining Inside Politics today. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.