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Former President Bill Clinton Hospitalized with Urinary Tract Infection; Doctor Answers Questions about COVID-19 Booster Vaccines; Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro Interviewed on His Bid for Pennsylvania Governor; Debate Over Biden's Style Under Scrutiny As Agenda Stalls. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 15, 2021 - 08:00   ET



ANTHONY CURTIS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "ROLLING STONE": She's 30 years old now. She's an adult woman. And she's lived an adult women's life. And I think her audience will really appreciate that. There is a sense in which she's a sharer. She's not out there all the time, but she's someone that when she does something, she is pretty open about it. So I think her audience will feel those things. And it is like you're on a little journey, or on a really kind of a big journey with Adele, just kind of tracking her along. And we're about to see what the next chapter reveals.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: She's like that friend you check in with from time to time and you pick up right where you left off. and here we are doing it again with Adele. Anthony, thank you so much.

CURTIS: It was my pleasure. Thank you.

KEILAR: NEW DAY continues right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Friday, October 15th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. On this NEW DAY, breaking overnight, former President Bill Clinton in intensive care at a California hospital, or an intensive care unit. He was admitted earlier this week, diagnosed with a urinary tract infection that spread to his blood stream.

KEILAR: And we're getting new images of Hillary Clinton seen leaving the hospital as well. Joining us now, CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel. And Jamie, first to you know. I know that you have a new update from Clinton's office about how he's doing. What can you tell us?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: The new update is no changes overnight, which is good news. He's continuing to respond to antibiotics, and they feel he's going in the right direction. Just for a little background about what this happened, I'm going to leave the medical to Elizabeth, but I'm told by his office staff that Tuesday he just didn't feel well, that he was very, very fatigued. And certainly that must have been severe enough for them to take him to the hospital. He was tested. They discovered this infection, and immediately started treating him with antibiotics.

That said, he's apparently in a very good mood. He's talking to his staff. He's talking to his family. He was walking around the ICU so much that his doctors told him to get back in bed. And we saw those pictures of Hillary Clinton visiting him there out in California for a private dinner for their foundation. I'm told by his office staff that he was trying to figure out whether he could sneak out last night to go to that dinner. So clearly things are moving in the right direction.

KEILAR: That's about the most Bill Clinton like thing ever, right? OK, Elizabeth, so talk to us about this. How serious is this and what does it tell you that it was a few days before we found out?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, so Brianna, I Jamie has put the nail on the head here, which is that he is doing quite well. And that's because it looks like this was caught quickly. Look, a urinary tract infection in someone who is 75 years old that then becomes sepsis, which means the infection spread to his bloodstream, that can be really, really serious. But if it is caught early, treated with antibiotics, it doesn't have to be serious. And this image of a very sociable Bill Clinton wandering around the ICU looking for people to talk to, that sort of says a lot, that he felt well enough to do that.

So let's take a look at urinary tract infections in older people. First of all, they're common in older people. I certainly have elderly relatives who've had them. I'm sure many of us have. They can be difficult to diagnose, so kudos to this team for getting it right. They can cause confusion, weakness, and muscle aches. You don't usually see that in younger people. Younger people get UTIs, too. It doesn't usually causes confusion or muscle aches or that kind of that weakness. But in older people, it does. John?

BERMAN: And the risk of sepsis, what can go wrong with sepsis, Elizabeth?

COHEN: Really everything can go wrong with sepsis. It is an infection in your blood stream. If it is not caught in time, it can be deadly. But if it is caught in time, it can be relative -- treated relatively easily once you give someone antibiotics and you get the right antibiotic. It does not have to be a big deal.

KEILAR: You know, Jamie, I've covered other former presidents who have gone into the hospital. And a lot of times we find out pretty quickly that they have. Public officials, former presidents, they also don't give you all the information about their health. They are entitled to privacy. But at the same time, what does it tell you we didn't know for a few days here that was going on?

GANGEL: I think it is pretty remarkable because he's very recognizable. So clearly, they wanted to keep it quiet, I think until they figured out what was going on.


They knew pretty quickly that it was not related to COVID. He's vaccinated. He has a booster. They -- he has a history of heart disease. I think they probably wanted to make sure that there wasn't a problem there. But Sanjay and I got a text together last night saying, please get on the phone with us. And I think finally once they knew what it was, they wanted to make sure to get the information out there.

KEILAR: Jamie, Elizabeth, thank you both.

BERMAN: So today, FDA advisers meet to decide whether to recommend booster doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. Also on the agenda, whether mixing and matching vaccines is safe and effective. I want to bring in the former chair of the CDC's advisory committee for immunization practices and the secretary of health for the state of Arkansas, Dr. Jose Romero. Dr. Romero, we have a series of questions from viewers. It may not be the first thing that come to mind when you're talking about a lot the issues facing the FDA today, but we're going to go ahead and ask them and get your response.

This is from Richard in Kentucky. "If a fully Pfizer vaccinated person just recovered from a breakthrough COVID infection, is there a waiting period before getting the booster shot, or is recovery from a breakthrough infection effectively the same as a booster shot?"

DR. JOSE ROMERO, ARKANSAS SECRETARY OF HEALTH: Good morning and thank you for having me. So that's a very good question. We know that if you've had an infection after being vaccinated you probably had a boost in your antibody, but that boost may not be sufficient in order to give you the bump high enough to compensate for the fall in antibody that you had. So it's not the same as having had the vaccine. You should get your booster, and you should wait until you've recovered from the illness and pass that period where you should be quarantined because you could spread it. So, probably should get that vaccine.

KEILAR: And, Peggy, Dr. Romero asks this, "The second Moderna shot made me very ill for two-and-a-half days. This makes me hesitant to get the booster. Are my chances of a severe reaction to the booster the same or different than those of the average person who did not experience bad side effects?"

ROMERO: Yes, I can see the viewer's apprehension. So, without knowing specifically what those symptoms were, I can't offer a comment about whether she will have the same or worse symptoms. But what we do know is that unless you have had an anaphylactic reaction, which is a severe allergic reaction to the second dose, she should go ahead and get that vaccine.

BERMAN: So today we're talking about Johnson & Johnson, yesterday was Moderna. This question is about the Pfizer booster. Is the Pfizer booster designed to fight the Delta variant? If not, are the boosters improved versions of the vaccines, or are they essentially the same original recipe?"

ROMERO: Yes, an excellent question. So the original vaccines that were derived were designed to broadly react against the COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2, and over time these viruses have evolved, have mutated, have led to these variants. So there may be some differences in the immune response to it. But we know, for example, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine work against the current strain of virus that is out there, the Delta strain. And what has happened is that your titers have fallen below a level that protect you adequately, and that's why you're getting the booster. So the vaccine is effective against that particular variant, the variant here in this country, Delta, and that's why we're giving you the booster. So get that vaccine.

KEILAR: And for those wondering about the timing of approvals for the boosters, Deborah asks, "Is the connection to big pharma at play here with Pfizer boosters getting approved and nothing on Moderna, who also submitted on 9/1 for booster approval?" Really here, why has the Pfizer booster already been approved while the Moderna and J&J ones are still awaiting their approvals, Doctor?

ROMERO: Yes, so from my experience having served on the advisory committee and been the chairman of the advisory committee, big pharma doesn't play into this. This is a decision made solely by the FDA. And I can only guess or surmise that data was missing from the Moderna -- from one of the submissions, and needed to be bolstered or needed to have more information given to the FDA so that they could effectively and efficiently review the application. So, again, big pharma doesn't play a role in deciding when these vaccines move forward and through the FDA.

BERMAN: All right this is from Carl in Ohio. "Do I have to get my booster shot at the same dispensary where I got my first two?"

ROMERO: Yes, that's a very good question. And, no, you don't. You can go to any site that is offering the vaccine. It's good if you have your vaccination card, the one that is given to you after you get your first and second vaccines so that the pharmacist or whoever is giving the vaccine can check to see what vaccine you received.


But you do not necessarily have to go back to the original site where you received your primary immunizations.

KEILAR: And then on this issue of mixing and matching, Jacqui asks, "Can I get the Pfizer booster if I had the Moderna vaccine?" Can she?

ROMERO: Yes, another excellent question that the FDA and both the ACIP are going to have it talk about. So today, at today's meeting of the FDA, there will be a talk of this mix and match scenario where you get one vaccine and then use another. Right now, right now, the recommendation is to stay with the same vaccine that you received originally. So until we hear from the FDA and the CDC whether these mix and match studies are efficient and safe, we should stay with that same vaccine. BERMAN: Dr. Romero, as always, we appreciate your insight. Thank you

very much.

ROMERO: Thank you.

BERMAN: So the race for governor of Pennsylvania has a new candidate, the Democratic attorney general. The results of the election could have profound consequences on the next presidential election, too.

Joining us now is Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania attorney general and Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania. Mr. Attorney General, thank you so much for being with us.


BERMAN: Why are you running?

SHAPIRO: Because the stakes are so high right now in Pennsylvania. And we face some incredible challenges from education to workforce issues, connecting people to the Internet. But we also have some tremendous opportunities here in Pennsylvania that we have to seize upon. And I have a long track record of working together, Democrats, Republicans, and independents, to get things done. And most importantly I've been unafraid to take on the big fights. And the next governor of Pennsylvania has to be willing to take on the big fights, from protecting our democracy, to making sure we put people back to work. And so those are the issues, those are the reasons why I'm running.

BERMAN: You talk about protecting democracy. How important is fighting the big lie to your campaign?

SHAPIRO: Look, the stakes couldn't be higher in this election. And there is a clear contrast between me and my dozen or so Republican opponents. They continue to pander, really pander out of weakness, to peddle the big lie and try and pass these far-right litmus tests. All of them have succumbed to the big lie, and all of them continue to lie to the good people of Pennsylvania about what happened in 2020. And I'm someone who firmly believes that here in the birthplace of our democracy, we have a unique and special responsibility to protect that 245 plus year experiment, and indeed, perfect it.

I also believe that unless we make sure everybody's voice is heard, everybody's voice counts at the ballot box, then we won't be able to meet this moment of incredible challenge in Pennsylvania, to get people working, to make sure that their healthcare is affordable and accessible, that people can go to college and get access to tech and that mental health becomes a real priority. All of those issues rests on a foundation of having a strong democracy where everybody's voice counts. And so we'll be working very hard to both defend our democracy and look out for all Pennsylvanians.

BERMAN: Now, former president Donald Trump isn't literally on the ballot in 2022. But figuratively speaking, do you feel his presence is or should be at determining factor? SHAPIRO: Yes, I'm not sure it is about Donald Trump. And, of course,

I'm looking forward in this election, not backwards. But what I can tell you is that all the Republican candidates, and, again, there is a dozen of them right now, they're all beholden to the big lie. They're all spewing his same talking points. And I think what is important for people to recognize is this is the modern-day Republican Party. And while the stakes are so high and the challenges are great, these individuals are ignoring these challenges. And instead of focusing on how to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians, again, connecting to the Internet, make sure that they've got jobs, that all kids have good quality education, they're instead focused on peddling this big lie. And that is to the detriment of the people of Pennsylvania.

BERMAN: Is that a risk for you, too, or for Democrats, too, though? To what extent does the average voter, whether it be in Philadelphia or Scranton or Pittsburgh or wherever, to what extent do they care about the last election, and to what extent do they care more about gas prices or, the cold winter that is coming ahead?

SHAPIRO: Well, as I said, I'm focused on looking forward. And I was in a hair salon in southwest Philadelphia yesterday, just one of the many businesses that we're visiting with, and I think the owner there recognizes the importance of being able to successfully run her business and once helped to do that.


But she also wants to make sure her voice is heard in our democracy.

She also (AUDIO GAP) that her vote counts and I think there is a recognition that if people are subtracted from our democracy, taking out of the equation, then the policy advancements we'll make won't include them.

And so I think it is on everyone's mind, it doesn't mean that it has to be an either/or. It is not like if you care about our democracy, you can't care about connecting people to the internet. We have to do both. We must do both.

And I'm focused on doing both and that's what I'm hearing from the people I visit with each and every day.

Yesterday, in my first stop in Philadelphia, was at Mother Bethel AME Church, the oldest AME church in our nation, the center of the civil rights and voting rights movement here in Pennsylvania and beyond, and there we talked about not just voting rights, but we also talked about criminal justice reform and educating our kids. It is all connected. And we got to do both.

And what we see right now from the modern day Republican Party is they're not focused on meeting the needs of the people, they're focused on peddling the big lie.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The hair salon did a nice job, I have to say. It came out very nicely.

SHAPIRO: They couldn't do much with this.

BERMAN: Listen, I got to let you go. I want to ask quickly about the national political environment.

The Democrats in Congress, are they doing any favors right now? How much of a drag is it that they haven't been able yet to reach a deal on getting through the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better agenda?

SHAPIRO: You know, look, I hope they do pass those bills. They're really important and they'll help a lot of people here in Pennsylvania. But I'm a proud Pennsylvania Democrat, I spent a lot more time in Washington county, Pennsylvania, than I do in Washington, D.C. and I'm focused on meeting the needs here.

And hopefully they'll do their work in D.C. and make sure that that helps everyone.

BERMAN: Attorney General Josh Shapiro, appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

SHAPIRO: Thanks so much.

BERMAN: So President Biden's laid back style, what some people believe to be a laid back style, may have helped him win the White House. But now faced with a bunch of crises, is that leadership style wearing thin?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, should the Supreme Court rotate justices? The new report that considers changes to the court.

And President Biden's climate initiatives on the chopping block, what activists and renowned singer/songwriter Carole King has to say about it ahead.



KEILAR: President Joe Biden's biggest strength in 2020 perhaps was that he was not Donald Trump. But now with two massive spending bills stalled because of infighting in his own party, nearly his entire domestic agenda is in jeopardy.

Joining us now to discuss, CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.

I wonder, this is going on and on as we wait to see what happens with his social safety net package and the infrastructure package and our colleague Stephen Collinson writes Joe Biden's laid back leadership style may be wearing thin.

What do you think?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think keeping this a behind the scenes negotiation only is going to benefit them. But I do think their own patience is wearing thin when it comes to whether or not any progress is being made with this.

What we're hearing from White House officials publicly in recent days is that it is time to make tough choices about what's actually going to be in this bill, because we know that there is still no agreement on a top line number even, which seems like just the most basic of agreements of steps forward that they need to make here.

And so I think the president still has been working behind the scenes with that one goal in mind, which is getting Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema on board so they can make progress.

But I think the question of is it making progress is a big question, because Senator Sinema has said they told the White House what they want to see in this and what her priorities are. The White House is not saying what those are publicly. But we know there is still no consensus among Democrat oz over what this should look like.

KEILAR: So many deadlines, in the end, there is no meaning to them, right? So, you have Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, saying that next week is critical. But is that just another deadline that can slide?

COLLINS: It is a deadline that can slide. It is likely going to slide unless a miracle happens over the next few days where they do magically come to an agreement. They have this deadline where they pushed it to the end of October, they say they will vote by the end of the month. That's when the president is set to go overseas on another big foreign trip.

It is very unlikely I think that they're going to have an agreement by then. And even if they have an agreement, it still takes weeks to get the legislative text prepared here. So you're looking at a pretty long timeline on this.

But I do think that every time they extend a deadline, every time they have not come to an agreement, it can be demoralizing to Democratic voters and I think that's a big concern facing the White House, seeing Democrats seeing their party not able to come to an agreement on big priorities that are big things to them, but also that it has taken so long to come to an agreement on something as basic as a top line number.

KEILAR: White House chief of staff Ron Klain getting some flack because he endorsed a tweet from a Harvard professor that said most of the economic problems we are facing, inflation, supply chains, et cetera, are high class problems.

COLLINS: He's getting a lot of fire for this the issues we're seeing are grocery bills are up, rent is up, gas prices are up, those are things that affect every single person, every single day of their life. And that is something that when Ron Klain was tweeting this it raised a lot of eyebrows and people saying is that really the White House's position on this.

Ron Klain is a very active chief of staff on twitter, more active than any other previous chief of staff and even "Playbook" is reporting this morning a former chief of staff to president bush and to President Obama are both saying they're kind of surprised by how active he is on Twitter given, of course, a chief of staff job is a very tough job. I do think the White House is downplaying this as being any kind of statement from the White House, any kind of official policy position, saying that's not really what's driving the day.

But it does show that they are being asked about it at briefings and it is something that top aides have to talk about.

KEILAR: John Berman has an incredibly pressing, incredibly pressing question.

COLLINS: I don't think I'm going to like this.


BERMAN: Kaitlan, I know this is difficult for you, but Alabama lost this past weekend. So I would like to know two things, one, how devastating is that and, number two, what happens now? What is the path forward for Alabama after losing during the regular season, which honestly almost never happens?

COLLINS: I think if you want to know how devastating it is, this -- it is Friday, we lost last Saturday, and I just now am able to come on and talk about this. Because Alabama obviously is not a team that loses very often. They have not lost in two years. Obviously I have a lot of pride in the football team.

And I don't think Texas A&M last week was our best showing and I think there were a lot of opportunities that were missed opportunities and it was a very loud environment in Texas A&M and I think that with the 12th fan I think they did pretty well given that environment.

But, of course, there are a lot of things that needed to be changed and I think the -- we're disappointed as fans, no one is more disappointed than the players themselves. I'm hoping it is a learning period for the team and that things move forward, and that we still have a lot of season left to go and that things are looking up.

KEILAR: It's okay. It's going to be okay, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Is it? Because I'm not so sure. I'm just really hoping.


KEILAR: There's despair, Berman.

BERMAN: You can still get to the playoffs. You just have to win out, win out and there is a path here, basically.

KEILAR: There is always a path. I always have an incredible amount of faith in Nick Saban and the Alabama football team. So, I'm really hopeful and I care a lot about the team and their outcome and I think it means a lot to the players.

So, I'm hoping for them that it is a really learning point and that things look really good going forward. And I think you should never bet against Alabama.

BERMAN: Hang in there, Kaitlan. Hang in there.

KEILAR: There is a great new song out to match your mood by Adele.

BERMAN: Go listen to Adele. It will cheer you up.

KEILAR: I have a box of tissues. You're all set.

COLLINS: I'll keep this handy over the next -- tomorrow night, on 7:00 p.m. when --


KEILAR: Kaitlan, thank you so much.

So should the Supreme Court be expanded? Should justices rotate? Some new revelations from a report on potential changes.