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President Trump Downplays Coronavirus As Health Officials Warn Americans; South Carolina Voters Weigh In On Democratic Debate; U.S. Soldier Tests Positive For Coronavirus In South Korea. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired February 26, 2020 - 05:30   ET



ALEXANDRA ROJAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: Battling these people attacking his ideas for obviously, the past year but really, his entire career.

And so, I think that he appeared on the stage, no matter what the different takes are, not as someone that was necessarily knocked off his momentum. I think he's going into South Carolina really strong.

And last night he talked, again, centering the lives of the poor and working people of this country, not necessarily listen -- listening or following polls or what's trending. I think that he's just consistently been saying the same thing and is trying to lead by sort of showing people the way there.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, guys, we have to leave it there. Thank you both very much for the analysis this morning.


ROJAS: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Coming up on NEW DAY, we will speak live with two of the Democratic presidential candidates. We have Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I will tell you that we'll ask Sen. Klobuchar about what Bakari Sellers --

CAMEROTA: I think that --

BERMAN: And I say that in the third person --


BERMAN: -- what Bakari Sellers just said about Bakari Sellers asking Amy Klobuchar.

CAMEROTA: That Berman will ask her.

BERMAN: Yes. John Berman will ask Amy Klobuchar about what Bakari Sellers had to say about her attitude towards race.

And then --

CAMEROTA: Be sure to watch tonight's back-to-back CNN town halls. We have Michael Bloomberg, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren. They will take questions from South Carolina voters. That all starts at 7:00 p.m. eastern on CNN.

BERMAN: I think technically it's a back-to-back-to-back.


BERMAN: You just said back-to-back.

CAMEROTA: Oh, no -- you're right, you're right, you're right, you're right.

Stock futures are pointing to another ugly day on Wall Street as the coronavirus outbreak worsens around the world. Is the Trump administration ready for this? We discuss that next.



BERMAN: All right. Developing right now, Dow futures swinging wildly this morning ahead of the market open. Why? Well, the coronavirus fears. They led to the worst two-day route for Wall Street in more than four years and yesterday's just awful day was a bit of surprise given what we had expected.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us now with much more on this. And it's also very different than what the president said was going to happen.


Look, the big question today is can markets stabilize after two historic down days. Taking a look at markets right now you can that futures are down. But look at -- you can see that Europe and Asia both lower here, trying to find their footing and unable to do so. Looking at futures right now in the United States, U.S. stock index futures still lower here.

Look, a strong market and a healthy economy are central to the president's reelection message. Twenty-four hours ago -- 24 hours ago, the president projected optimism.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I see the futures are up today -- up fairly substantially. Yes, but that's a very serious thing but we think we're in very good shape in the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Instead, stocks plummeted for the second day in a row as coronavirus fears rattled global investors. The Dow fell -- look at this -- more than 879 points. That's more than three percent. That adds to Monday's wreck. This is the worst two-day point drop in history.

The Dow is now more than eight percent below its recent high, putting it close to what we call a technical correction, down 10 percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also down. You guys, about $1.7 trillion wiped away from the S&P 500 in value in just two days.

And look at the core of the problem here. Look at entertainment and travel stocks, like American Airlines and Live Nation. American Airlines down nine percent. Look, people are worried about spending money to travel and gathering for group activities.

Important to note, the rush into the safety of the bond market pushed down the benchmark 10-year note yield to a record low, reflecting really deep concerns about slowing global growth. Still, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow doubled down on the U.S. response.


LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: We have contained this -- we have contained this -- I won't say airtight but pretty close to airtight.


ROMANS: Guys, the market reaction around the world tells you that global investors disagree. They are very worried about the breadth of the coronavirus and the U.S. response to it -- guys.

CAMEROTA: Christine, thank you very much for all of that stark warning.

Joining us now, we have CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart. He was White House press secretary for President Clinton.

This is the moment Joe when Americans need facts --


CAMEROTA: -- and they need to able to trust President Trump and the people around him to give them real information. And unfortunately, the record is very checkered on those facts.

LOCKHART: Yes, this is potentially, a perfect political storm for Donald Trump because it gets at all of his weaknesses. There is a credibility gap. I mean, Larry Kudlow out saying that stuff yesterday was just irresponsible.

CAMEROTA: He says it's contained. That's not what the CDC says. It's the opposite.

LOCKHART: It's not backed up. In fact, the CDC said just the opposite yesterday.

So they have a credibility problem. They also have a governing problem.

This is one of these things where when Ebola happened, the president appointed my friend Ron Klain as Ebola czar and he was able to take all of the mechanisms of government and turn it into an incredible response.

The third is our standing in the international community. The United States traditionally has gone out and taken over these things as the leader of -- the superpower of the free world. We don't have that any longer.

And finally, you've got President Trump, who thinks he can solve things by tweet and by gut and this is something way more complicated. And his attempts to try to politically manage this could very much blow up in his face because it is not something that a tweet can solve.


BERMAN: But what you see here is that the president's concerned about the markets. Why? Because he's concerned about his reelection.

Why is Larry Kudlow saying anything --

LOCKHART: Exactly.

BERMAN: -- about this? I'm not aware of where Larry Kudlow went to med school, OK?

And there is an epidemic right now -- a coronavirus epidemic, and what I want to hear -- from who I want to hear from is someone who can tell me how it's going to affect the United States. And the people of medical training are telling me that my family needs to be getting ready.

Again, listen to what Dr. Nancy Messonnier said. She said we expect we will see community spread. It's not a question of if this will happen, but a question of when and how many people will have severe illness. Disruption to everyday life may be severe.

She says she's called her kids' school to find out what their contingency plans are if they have to shut down. She's saying that people have to figure out what happens if they need to work remotely.

Now, I think this is what caused the market fear. Romans, nod up and down if I'm right. I mean, these statements from her caused the markets to get really nervous yesterday because all of a sudden investors were saying well, wait a second here. I need to be worried about my kids' school? I need to be worried about the office shutting down?

LOCKHART: Well, I think the markets are not a perfect mechanism for looking and trying to put all of the pieces (INAUDIBLE), but it's the best we have when I -- when we have a president who's not being straight with us.

And if you want to know that he's not being straight with us, look at the response on Capitol Hill yesterday. Republicans were willing to let the president and his team get away with Ukraine and with Russia interference. They're not willing to let him get away with this.

CAMEROTA: We have that moment.


CAMEROTA: Let me just play for you what Sen. John Kennedy, in questioning the officials who came up to brief them about this. He also was trying to get answers. Listen to this moment.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): What's the mortality rate, so far, nationwide -- worldwide?

CHAD WOLF, ACTING SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I believe it -- worldwide, I believe it's under two percent.

KENNEDY: How much under two percent?

WOLF: I will get you an exact figure. I'll check with CDC on -- they're monitoring the worldwide mortality rate and I will -- I can get that for you.

KENNEDY: What's the mortality rate for influenza over the last, say, 10 years, on Americans?

WOLF: Uh, it's also -- uh, right around that percentage as well. I don't have that offhand, but it's right around two percent --

KENNEDY: You sure of that?

WOLF: -- as well.

KENNEDY: You sure of that?

WOLF: It's a little bit -- yes, sir.


BERMAN: This guy was under fire, yes.

CAMEROTA: Yes. That -- we don't think that those numbers are accurate. We will get those specifically.

But also, he asked you are the head of Homeland Security. Do we have enough respirators or not? And, Mr. Wolf said for patients? I don't understand the question.

And then he went on to say -- Sen. Kennedy -- for everyone. For every American who gets the disease. And then Mr. Wolf said well, I'd refer you to the HHS. LOCKHART: Yes, you -- I mean, we're -- we may find the limits to acting secretaries and to loyalists as opposed to actual experts.

And again, I think -- you know, John made the right point a minute ago in saying that the president made very clear yesterday what his concern is. Not the health of the public, but the health of the economy and where the stock market is. And right now, that shouldn't be their priority.

Getting reelected should not be his priority. And, in fact, it's counterproductive because if -- like Katrina, if you prove that you can't handle a public health crisis you're not going to get reelected even if unemployment goes to zero.

So, it is -- it is -- they're woefully unprepared both from a policy place, but also a political place.

BERMAN: People just want to know what's going on.


BERMAN: People just want to know what's going on and they want to be kept healthy to the extent that it's possible here. This is not something that should be about politics.

Joe Lockhart, thanks so much for being with us.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, what did South Carolina think of last night's debate and did it change their opinion of the candidates? We were with some South Carolinians watching the debate. Stick around.



CAMEROTA: All right, which candidates won over South Carolina voters last night? CNN's Gary Tuchman is up early for us. He is live in Orangeburg, South Carolina with more. Gary, tell us about your evening.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn and John, good morning to you.

We've watched most of the Democratic debates with ordinary Democratic voters around the United States. And last night the person -- the candidate who got the most positive reviews from our group is the same candidate who hasn't done too well with our groups in the past.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): We watched the debate with a large group of loyal Democrats in Allendale County, South Carolina, a very blue county in this very red state. Afterwards, we talked with 12 of them. TUCHMAN (on camera): Eleven of the 12 of you were undecided which Democrat you were going to support. In the middle -- Wilda Robinson (ph) in the front row -- she had already voted absentee for Biden.


TUCHMAN (on camera): Some of you have told me based on this debate you are no longer undecided.

But first of all, the first question I want to ask you, who do you think did the best during this debate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Mike Bloomberg did, compared to his performance last week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel Vice President Biden did the best.

ROBINSON: I think Vice President Biden did the best.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayor Pete Buttigieg.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike Bloomberg. Based on his previous performance, I saw a lot of improvement this time.

TUCHMAN (on camera): In the back?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going with Warren.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not sure he won the most arguments but I thought Biden looked the most presidential.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Six of the 12 selected Joe Biden. Nobody else got more than two.

TUCHMAN (on camera): How many have now, based on this debate, decided who they're going to vote for? One, two, three, four. So, four of you have now made your decision. Who have you decided you're going to vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vice President Biden.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Biden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Buttigieg. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biden.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Biden?


TUCHMAN (on camera): Biden.

Anyone else? The rest of you remain undecided. You already voted for Biden.


ROBINSON: Already voted.

TUCHMAN (on camera): So this is good news for Joe Biden. Why do you think Joe Biden did so well?

ROBINSON: He showed character, integrity, and leadership skills.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Biden looked the most presidential because we -- in this world's climate, we need someone who really understands how to deal with world leaders and not create chaos but create more harmony.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The impressions here of Mike Bloomberg varied.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most important moment was Mike Bloomberg being able to clear up this stop-and-frisk. And also --

TUCHMAN (on camera): Do you think he cleared it up, though?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he did a good job at it.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Did you believe Mike Bloomberg when he tried to explain his position today on stop-and-frisk?


TUCHMAN (on camera): And why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because of the way he said it and the -- his facial expressions.

TUCHMAN (on camera): You don't trust his face?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Notably, the Democratic front-runner, Bernie Sanders, had nobody here who thought he did the best and nobody who has yet committed to voting for him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wasn't impressed with Bernie Sanders or Mike Bloomberg at all the first 10 or 15 minutes. Both --

TUCHMAN (on camera): With the -- with the tiff they had. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the arguing, and it reminded me of third- graders.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): There is great concern here about Democratic divisiveness.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Are any of you, in any way, more sympathetic to Donald Trump?

MULTIPLE VOTERS (in unison): No.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): They don't want Democrats to argue themselves out of victory in 2020.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should be about coming together as one cohesive unit to move the country forward.


TUCHMAN: Candidates do what they have to do. But, Alisyn and John, we've seen this over and over again, this time in the Democratic cycle and four years ago in the Republican primary cycle. Party voters do not like to see excessive arguing. It turns them off completely.

And it's a very different situation when you have the general election debates. But when you have these debates -- you have Democratic voters watching Democratic candidates; Republican voters, four years ago, watching the Republican candidates, they just do not like to see the bickering.

CAMEROTA: Gary, that was fascinating and really revealing for us that now they have solidified their positions after last night's debate. Thank you very much for bringing that to us.

OK, now to this. A U.S. soldier has contracted coronavirus while stationed in South Korea. We have a live report from that base on what they're trying to do to contain it.



BERMAN: Breaking this morning, an American soldier stationed in South Korea tests positive for coronavirus. This is the first time this has happened there.

CNN's Paula Hancocks live at the base in South Korea with details. Obviously, this is of concern, Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John, anytime there's an illness or a disease that does through an army. They are in close quarters. There is great concern to find out exactly who this individual was in contact with and warn them.

So we know it's a 23-year-old male who was brought up here to Camp Humphreys, which is the headquarters here, by ambulance. He's now in a negative isolation room pressured -- negative-pressure isolation room to make sure that he can recover as quickly as possible.

And what the commander has done is he has put more restrictions on the U.S. military here. He has said that only mission-essential personnel will be allowed on base tomorrow. The same to the east -- southeast of the country where this individual was based on the U.S. military base Camp Carroll -- the area of Daegu. It's really become ground zero for the fight against coronavirus here.

And it's also an issue for the South Korean military. They have 20 confirmed cases now of the coronavirus and it's not just in one department. They have it in the Navy, in the Air Force, in the Marine Corps, in the Army. So they are trying to contain this as best as possible as well -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Paula. Keep a close eye on that for us.

And I have to say it's not just concerns in South Korea as well. I was watching a soccer game yesterday that was taking place in Italy -- you know, rabid soccer fans there. You could see people in the stands with face masks on and you could see empty seats in an incredibly high- stakes game. People are scared.

CAMEROTA: Italy has reason to be scared.

BERMAN: Yes, they do.

CAMEROTA: All right.

BERMAN: All right, the big Democratic debate in South Carolina last night. The question is what has changed this morning? Who has a new spring in their step?

NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 10th Democratic debate stakes could not be higher.



SANDERS: -- from over 50 billionaires.

BUTTIGIEG: It's just not true. Sen. Sanders --

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I guess the only way to do this is jump in and speak twice as long as you should.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who funded Lindsey Graham's campaign for reelection last time? It was Mayor Bloomberg.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- forty Democrats. Twenty-one of those were people that I spent $100 million to help elect. The new Democrats that came in and gave the Congress the ability to control this president, I bough -- I got them.

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am scared. If we cannot pull this party together, we take a terrible risk of reelecting Donald Trump.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, February 26th, 6:00 here in New York.

Messy, chaotic, embarrassing. Those are just some of the choice words the pundits are using to describe last night's Democratic debate in South Carolina.

As predicted, Sen. Bernie Sanders got the front-runner treatment. Most of his rivals claiming that a socialist will sink the Democratic ticket against Donald Trump. Their mission was clear to make sure that Bernie Sanders does not own South Carolina and then, Super Tuesday.

BERMAN: So, did it work? That's always the most important question after a debate.