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The Situation Room

Sources: WH Weighing Appointing Coronavirus Czar, Trump Frustrated With HHS Secretary Azar; Sixty Coronavirus Cases Confirmed In U.S.; Influential South Carolina Lawmaker Endorses Biden; Rep. James Clyburn (D) South Carolina Is Interviewed About Joe Biden And Bernie Sanders; Reports Of Fatalities In Milwaukee Active Shooting; Rep. Debbie Dingell Is Interviewed About Coronavirus; Soon: Trump Speaks Amid Coronavirus Crisis. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired February 26, 2020 - 17:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're standing by to hear from President Trump as the coronavirus outbreak spreads here in the United States and around the world moving closer to be coming a pandemic. Sixty cases are not confirmed in the United States. More than 81,000 worldwide. And today for the first time more cases were reported outside of China than inside.

We're also counting down to tonight's CNN Democratic presidential town halls in South Carolina, coming on the heels of the shockingly chaotic debate last night and just three days ahead of the state's critical primary.

Tonight, Michael Bloomberg holds his first town hall with CNN, followed by Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. All of that starts right after the "Situation Room" at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Our guest this hour is Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. This will be his first television interview since he endorsed Joe Biden earlier today. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First let's go directly over to the White House. Our White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez is standing by.

Boris, the administration has been severely criticized for its response so far to the virus. What could we hear in a little while from President?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you're likely going to hear President Trump try to reassure the American people that everything is fine and under control. And not just with the focus on the public as a whole, but specifically on investors. We're told that the President is frustrated about the performance of the stock market watching mixed results over the last few days and angry with officials within his own administration over their response to the virus.

We're likely going to hear the President try to reassure the people that everything is fine. And we may hear some new travel restrictions coming from President Trump specifically on areas that have been affected by the virus like Japan and South Korea, Wolf.

BLITZER: I take it you're also hearing some news, Boris, about maybe the President naming a new czar to deal with this crisis?

SANCHEZ: Yes, that's right, Wolf. We're hearing behind the scenes that the White House is considering naming a czar specifically to handle the response to the coronavirus. A White House press aide specifically denied that earlier today, but sources tells us that the President is concerned, again, that some of his administration officials aren't doing enough to respond to the coronavirus.

We're told that the President has specifically asked whether his Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is up to the task of handling the response to this virus. And we're told that President Trump has been frustrated that Azar has made a series of decisions without his input, and that the President hasn't been updated as frequently as he would like by Azar, specifically that decision to allow several Americans who were infected with the coronavirus to return to the United States after being quarantined in Asia infuriated the President.

Even though days later he acknowledged that it was the right decision, at the time we're told that he was venting to sources and to people close to him saying that it was a poor decision and that people should be fired. From what we can tell no one has been fired, Wolf. But the President still upset and still considering beefing up his staff to try to respond of this crisis.

BLITZER: Yes. And we also know he's very, very angry that the Dow Jones Industrials has been sliding down, down, down today. Another 100-point slide, he's very angry about that as well.

Boris Sanchez, at the White House, we'll get back to you.

I want to bring in our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta right now. He's also at the White House waiting to hear directly from the President, to hear what the President has to say about the coronavirus outbreak.

Sanjay, what measures could the President announce? Could the President announce in a little while that potentially could curb the spread of the virus here in the United States?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, when we talk about sort of having a uniformed response here, you got to keep in mind this touches on so many different sectors of society, clearly the medical side but also Homeland Security, national security.

So the idea of having somebody who is in charge of this, like we saw, Wolf, with Ebola, there was a czar that was put in place at that point, somebody to help coordinate, that's going to be important.

Also, you know, this idea that we're hearing from CDC, that it's not a question of if, it's a question of when that so many of these strategies that have been put in place in China and even here in the United States were designed to slow down the virus spreading, but not to stop it, very hard to stop it. It's a small little virus. It doesn't respect borders or boundaries.

So, what have they done with that time is going to be one of the things that we're going to be listening for. Have they put in some preparedness, pandemic preparedness, sort of things in place? How our hospitals going to be able to handle surge capacity? Are they in touch with public health structures around the country to determine how this is going to be handled?

Those are the things that need to be done. Those are the things that have worked in the past. We've seen that work with other outbreaks.

You are starting to see a plateau of numbers in China, so some public health strategies there have worked. Are those things being put in place here in this country, Wolf? That's going to be the question.

BLITZER: So are Americans, at least right now, safe from the virus?


GUPTA: Look, I think the numbers are very small. I mean, you know, around 60 now, I think just one more person was confirmed as having the infection. So very, very small numbers in the United States.

So, if you have symptoms at all, it is exponentially more likely to be the cold or the flu. But I think there's a couple of caveats and one is that, again, clearly you hear from the head of the CDC, you hear from other public health officials, this is going to start to spread within communities in the United States, that's going to happen. You know, that -- they've been pretty clear on that for some time.

Luckily, most of the people, eight out of 10 people who get this infection are going to have no or minimal symptoms, so that's part of the good news. But how do we prepare for, you know, potentially hundreds, thousands more patients in all these hospitals? Right now, the risk is very, very low. But I think it's all a question of what do we do with this time that has been bought. This time has to be put to effective use.

BLITZER: So, let's talk a little bit about that, because the CDC has warned publicly that Americans could face what they describe as severe disruption to their daily lives. So what could that look like?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I think what the name of the game for individuals, for citizens in the midst of an outbreak ultimately that we might see here is social distancing, this idea that you have to separate yourself from the people who might be infected. That might mean kids are staying home from school, people staying home from work, public gatherings, you know, minimized.

I think it also means that people have to sort of look at their own houses and say, look, if I have to stay home for a couple of weeks, do I have everything that I need in my house? Do I have the supplies, do I have medications if I take medications? If I have young kids do I have what I need to take care of them?

Hospitals surprised up doing elective operations. They got to be able to plan to take care of patients in other types of settings. So suddenly, Wolf, any public building could become a place where patients are cared for, high school gymnasiums for example. That's one of the things that we hear about in pandemic preparedness plans.

So I think it's really social distancing that manifest itself in all sorts of ways. But again, it's more -- it actually makes a difference, you know, in terms of the tried and true public health techniques to curb an outbreak keeping people separated at least for a period of time can really bring the numbers down.

BLITZER: I know Sanjay, you're already there on the White House briefing room. You're getting ready to ask the President and others who show up at this briefing some questions. We'll standby. We'll of course have live coverage of that. Sanjay is going to be back with us soon. Much more coming up on the coronavirus fears that are growing right now.

There's other more important news we're following including the next big contest to the 2020 presidential campaign is just three days away, the South Carolina primary. And tonight voters will hear from four of the Democratic presidential candidates in CNN town halls that begin right after the "Situation Room," 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Our Political Correspondent Abby Phillip is joining us from Charleston right now.

Abby, tonight's town halls follow a debate that's been widely described as chaotic and messy, but following the debate, Joe Biden scored a major endorsement. Update our viewers.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the debate was very much a free for all and a lot of people came out of that debate saying that it didn't really dramatically change the dynamics in this race.

But one thing that the Biden campaign is hoping will change the dynamic is this endorsement that he received this morning from Congress Jim Clyburn. Clyburn is known as a political force here in South Carolina. He has remained neutral in the race up until this point, but he put his weight behind Joe Biden in an emotional endorsement press conference earlier this morning urging South Carolinians to vote for Biden.

Now Biden's aide have said that this is going to be his springboard, not necessarily a firewall for Biden, but he's counting on African- American voters to put him back in the top tier of candidates. That is partly because his place as the front-runner in this race has been largely taken by Bernie Sanders.

Now, the Vermont senator was under fire last night in the debate, and he has been defending himself from criticisms coming from virtually all of his fellow candidates.

Take a listen to some of the back and forth between these candidates.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Walking distance here is Mother Emanuel Church, nine people shot dead by a white supremacist. Bernie voted five times against the Brady Bill.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie's plan does not explain how to get there. It doesn't show how we're going to get enough allies into it, and doesn't show enough about how we're going to pay for it. I dug in, and I did the work, and then Bernie's team trashed me for it.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you keep on going, we will elect Bernie. Bernie is going to lose to Donald Trump. And Donald Trump, and the House and the Senate and some of the state houses will all go red.



PHILLIP: Now, we are also now hearing Joe Biden talking about how he does not believe voters are looking for a revolution. That is pointed language directed squarely at Bernie Sanders.

Now, with just a few days left here on the ground, Biden is counting on a big win in South Carolina to have some momentum going into Super Tuesday states.

Other candidates like Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend mayor warning that on Tuesday, if something isn't done, Bernie Sanders could end up with an insurmountable delegate lead that the other candidates are just simply not going to be able to stop him from getting the nomination. Wolf.

BLITZER: Abby Phillip in Charleston, South Carolina for us right now. Abby, thank you very much.

Let's get some more on this. Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina is joining us. He's the House Majority Whip, the number three Democrat in the House of Representatives. And he is now officially publicly endorsing Joe Biden.

Congressman thanks so much for joining us. Tell us why you think Joe Biden has what it takes to win the nomination, the Democratic presidential nomination, especially in light of the very impressive momentum we're seeing for Bernie Sanders.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC), HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP: Well, thanks very much for having me, Wolf.

You know, I've known Joe Biden for a long, long time. I have been here in the Congress for 28 years. I spent all of those 28 years working very closely with Joe Biden. But I knew him before I came to Congress. You know I use to teach history. I spent time studying the history almost everyday some aspect of it. I used to spend a lot of time with Joe, with him talk about Delaware's role in the Brown v. Board of Education, those are five case. South Carolina's role, and how our states were so similar.

A lot of people don't realize it, but Delaware is number eight in percentages of African-American votes. So we look at his experiences, his comfort levels with dealing with diverse issues, and diverse people with diverse backgrounds. Joe knows the people that I try to represent, and that to me is very important.

And if you look at his record, I'm proud of his record. He wrote the Violence Against Women Act. He wrote the bill that extended the Voting Rights Act for 25 years. He has been a partner with Barack Obama for the eight years in the White House.

And we were putting together the Affordable Care Act. He worked very hard on that. And I worked with him. He has some colorful language in describing what we had just done when we pass the bill. And so Joe has the background and the experience. I'm very comfortable with the fact that I think he is the best.

BLITZER: So here is the question, Congressman, and you and I have known each other for a long time, would it have been better for him if you had come out a week ago or two weeks ago or three weeks ago and endorsed him instead of waiting till now. There's been early voting in South Carolina going on as you know.

CLYBURN: Yes, it would have been better for him and me maybe, but it would not have been better for the South Carolina Democratic Party. We have this primary in the preprimary window, and I was asked way back when the decision was made not to go out so early making my endorsements or undercutting the primary itself, because it might discourage participation. So I tried not to get out in front of that.

I promised the television sponsors or partners with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute that I would wait until after the debate before I make myself public. And that's what I did, because it's not just about me or even about Joe Biden.

It's about building a strong Democratic Party in South Carolina. It's about Jaime Harrison and those others who will be running for the congressional and legislative seats. That's one reason that I think Joe is best, because I think he is the best person for us to be running with if we want to keep the House and get the Senate back and elect legislators all down the line. So that's why I am doing it.

BLITZER: Jaime Harrison is challenging Lindsey Graham, the incumbent senator from South Carolina.

As you know, the former vice president is confident, he is very confident that he will win South Carolina on Saturday. But he also says it's just as important that he wins even by only one point. Do you agree? Would one point be enough to propel him into Super Tuesday which is three days later? [17:15:03]

CLYBURN: One point may be a win, but I don't think is the propel - propelling that we need. I want to see a much bigger victory than that.

I want South Carolina to play it's usual role. When Bill Clinton came to South Carolina he had lost eight contests. And we propelled him into the presidency.

And Barack Obama came to South Carolina, he had just lost New Hampshire the week before, and lost it big. But we propelled him into the nomination and the presidency. So I want to see a big vote for Joe Biden because that then, it will propel him into the nomination and the presidency. And one point victory is not good enough, I don't think.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, what happens if Vice President Biden doesn't win in South Carolina, will he still have a path forward?

CLYBURN: Well, I'm not doing all those analyses. To me, emotionally, I wouldn't see a way forward, but that's a decision he'll have to make, that's the decision that his campaign will make. And I think that they're the ones who are keeping up with the fund-raising and with all other activities involved in the campaign. But as for me, I think that it would be tough if he were to lose South Carolina.

BLITZER: South Carolina clearly a critical right now for several of these candidates.

I know you got to run, but one final question, congressman, before I let you go. If Bernie Sanders were to win the Democratic presidential nomination, will you support him?

CLYBURN: Absolutely. I'm going to support whoever the nominee is. That's not my problem. But I don't want to see us winning the presidency and then losing legislative seats, losing the House of Representatives, not being able to win the Senate.

We won the presidency with Barack obama, and then in 2010 we lost sight of the fact that it was a time to redistrict, and they lost legislative seats. And look at what happened to the redistricting. The legislators at the state level by and large, they decide what the congressional lines will look like.

So we need to win legislative seats, congressional seats, Senate seat, we need to get Jaime Harrison elected. And we got two outstanding young people running for Congress in South Carolina. And we got some great young people running for legislative seats. So we need to have a ticket that's very strong to win those seats as well.

BLITZER: So, just to press you on this point, if, you know, Bernie Sanders were atop the ticket, let's say, you fear that others down ballot as they say could suffer if a self-described Democratic socialist were the presidential candidate? CLYBURN: That's what they are telling me. I've talked to these candidates. I just left Texas. I was there with -- down with Colin Allred, with Marc Veasey, Eddie Bernice Johnson, and all of them tell me that Eddie Bernice is tired (ph), she don't get re-elected, not a problem.

I think Veasy will be fine. I think Colin Allred will have a challenge. And we've got districts in Illinois, Colorado and New York and California where I really believe we could put ourselves in jeopardy if we are not careful with the way we run the campaign in the fall.

BLITZER: Clearly elections matter, and it's one thing to be in the minority of the House of Representatives, another thing to be in the majority. You clearly like being in the majority and you want to retain. That put you on the status.

CLAYBURN: I love being whip. And I love Nancy Pelosi being Speaker of the House. If we lose the House, no more Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House, no more Jim Clyburn as Whip of the House. I don't want to see that.

BLITZER: Yes. All right, Congressman Jim Clyburn, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

CLYBURN: Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Appreciate it very much.

We have some breaking news right now coming into the "Situation Room." Reports of fatalities in what officials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are now calling a critical incident. Our National Correspondent, Brynn Gingras is monitoring the situation for us.

What are you learning Brynn?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, this is a very fluid situation that's happening there in Milwaukee in the Molson Coors campus. We know that there is just a large federal and local police presence. We know the ATF responded, the FBI, and of course Milwaukee police calling this a critical incident.

The ATF saying that there was an active shooter. In fact we know from an affiliate as well, WITI, that text messages were sent to employees saying that there was an active shooter on campus and to find a safe place and to remain in lockdown.

Now two affiliates of our are reporting that there are fatalities. CNN has not independently confirmed any particular number as of yet.

But we also know that the CEO of Molson Coors was at a distributors meeting held in Houston. That meeting was cut short. He got on a plane. He's headed back to Milwaukee at this point too.

[17:20:10] So certainly, as you can see there from the images, there is just going on. We're still trying to get more information. And we are expecting to hear from the mayor of Milwaukee in just a short time.

But again, the major headline there is that local affiliates, two of them are reporting that there are numbers of fatalities on the Molson Coors campus, which of course, is a big landmark really for that area in Milwaukee. It has brewery where tourist visits. Certainly there would be a lot of people on that campus possibly at that time. But we're still waiting to get more confirmed information, Wolf.

BLITZER: And we do know that there are reports of fatalities. All right, Brynn, we're going to continue to monitor the situation unfolding in Milwaukee, we'll get back to you. Thanks very much.

Stay with us. We're also awaiting President Trump's remarks from the White House about the coronavirus. Lots of news going on. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Once again, we're continuing to monitor the breaking news out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where fatalities are now reported after a shooting incident at the Molson Coors complex. We'll update you on the new information we're getting. Standby for that.

We're also standing by for President Trump's remarks about the coronavirus outbreak. As of today, there are 60 confirmed cases here in the United States. And I just get these numbers 81,244 confirmed cases globally, worldwide, 2,769 deaths mostly in China, but they are spreading in other countries as well.

Joining us now is Democratic Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan. She questioned Health and Human Secretary Alex Azar during a House committee hearing earlier today.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. Based on what you heard during this testimony, during this briefing, is the administration prepared to handle the threat of this coronavirus?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): You know, I don't want to start any kind of panic in this country, but I think that we're asking a lot of questions. We're worried about this supply chain. And yesterday, in testimony before the Senate, he talked about masks. Two different kinds, and how many would be needed and what the availability would be in this country.

We do not need to worry that if we do have an increase, significant rise, do we have what we need for the medical professionals? We need straight guidance on when you need to wear a mask and when you don't if you are just an ordinary citizen like someone like me.

We have to make sure that we are not discriminating against people. Asian communities are talking about hate incidences now. They're not going to restaurants. But we got to use common sense, and we could start with just making sure that we wash our hands frequently, and that anybody who hasn't had the flu shot gets the flu shot. But I am worried and I'm worried about the discrepancies between what the President says and his team says.

BLITZER: You asked the secretary, Secretary Azar, about the problems with the supply chain for protective gear and for drugs, medicine, were you satisfied with what you heard on this issue?

DINGELL: No. We got to get more information and we got to figure out how quickly we can bring manufacturing of these -- of equipment and drugs just as an aside back to this country. And I think we've got to look at a way that we discuss manufacturing in this country and it's relationship to national security and what we do for the short-term and the long-term.

BLITZER: Because a lot of these drugs are manufactured in China right now. You also asked the secretary about funding being transferred out of other agencies. You think the funding the administration is proposing about $2 1/2 billion is enough?

DINGELL: Most of us don't think that it's enough. And if you listen to secretary's testimony this afternoon, he was very careful to then hedge it and say this was the beginning.

I think many -- Senator Schumer has said that it probably requires $8 billion. But what we are doing is that our appropriations committee experts are working to see what they think the amount is.

And when you have this kind of crisis, quite frankly, it is better for everybody to be working together, because this is a matter of national security. We need to make sure the experts have the resources that they need. And I fear many of them aren't being allowed to tell us what they need and we need to get them up here, subpoena them and make sure we're getting the facts.

BLITZER: Representative Debbie Dingell, thank so much for joining us.

DINGELL: Thank you.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to continue to follow this shooting. There are reports of fatalities in Milwaukee. It seems to be on going right now. We'll have a full report on what's going on right after the quick break.



BLITZER: We're continuing to monitor the breaking news out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin where fatalities are not reported after a shooting incident at the Molson Coors complex. We'll update you on the latest information, standby for that.

We're also awaiting two other important events. President Trump's remarks on the coronavirus. He's scheduled to have a news conference over at the White House coming up in the next hour. Also tonight, CNN Democratic presidential town hall as they begin 7:00 p.m. Eastern right after THE SITUATION ROOM.

But joining us right now is "The New York Times" Foreign Affairs Columnist Tom Friedman. He's the author of the best selling and very important book, "Thank You for Being Late". There you see the book cover right there. Tom, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Love to discuss, but I want you to get your sense on the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak that's unfolding right now. What do you think? How do you think the administration is handling this?

FRIEDMAN: Well -- and Wolf, I do have some sympathy for dealing with any kind of potential pandemic or pandemic. Well, everyone categorize this right now and I'm not going to blame the administration for this. You know, I think what worries me most is when I see them trying to talk down the market -- talk up the market, I mean, as if that's the only thing right now.


And I think we got to focus on the science and the scientists put them forward. Let's make sure we're fully funding the CDC, you know, our best medical technologists to deal with this. I would let the experts go forward but to have the President out there say you should be buying stocks right now, that's not the thing I'm worried about now.

BLITZER: Because his critics are already suggested because the market dropped 1,000 points plus on Monday --

FRIEDMAN: And in Tuesday.

BLITZER: -- and almost 1,000 points yesterday, another hundred plus points today that they're saying he seems to be more concerned about the stock market than he is about the health situations.

FRIEDMAN: Yes. If I were them, I'd simply focus on, you know, the medical issues and put the medical experts forward and let's stop trying to game the markets.

BLITZER: You've written extensively, visited China on many occasions, the U.S.-China relationship. What stands out to you about the U.S. and China right now, how these two countries are dealing with this crisis?

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, the most disturbing trend about China, Wolf, is that, China today is so much more open than it was 30 years ago, but so much more close than it was five years ago. Xi Jinping has really taken China back. And you're going to have Zeke Emanuel on -- I know Dr. Zeke and I were talking about this, the challenges of -- to deal with a virus like this, you need a lot of collaboration.

And China remains still a very close country. And that's a real problem, because the deal with a global pandemic like this, you're going to have to have absolute cooperation between experts in both countries. You know, and -- you know, I do worry about that trend in China a lot right now.

BLITZER: Because a lot of people have said the Chinese government has said that they've seen 78,064 cases of the corona virus in China itself. 2,715 deaths, but some people are skeptical. They think the numbers are much higher, but those are the numbers that the Chinese government is releasing, what do you say?

FRIEDMAN: And we don't have any independent collaboration from world bodies like the WHO or whatever. They're also struggling to get their arms around it. So, you know, this has been the most disturbing feature of Xi Jinping's administration. It's a much more closed place. We thought China was on a trajectory to slowly open, it's actually been closing. And there's been a lot of frustration inside China with their own leadership and lack of information within the country.

The other thing you're seeing here, though, Wolf, when you compare it with SARS, is that, you know, back with SARS, you know, the number of Chinese tourists was really de minimis. But today, you know, there's a giant Chinese middle class that's traveling around the world too. The world today is not just interconnectable, it's interdependent, and you're seeing that interdependence reflected in the speed at which this virus has been able to spread globally.

BLITZER: Let's talk about what's going on here in the United States. Right now, you've -- new piece you've written in "The New York Times", you suggest that in order to beat Donald Trump, the President of the United States, the Democratic nominee, will lead to forge what you call a national unity ticket. Let me read a line from your article. "If they don't join together -- if the Democrats opt for a circular firing squad -- you can kiss the America you grew up in good bye." Those are pretty powerful words.

FRIEDMAN: Well Wolf, I believe that if the Democrats do not put a candidate forward who can win this election, hold the House and possibly take the Senate, Donald Trump could sweep the table. You could have a Republican White House, Supreme Court, Majority House and Senate. And if you think Donald Trump is unrestrained now, abusing norms and institutions, imagine what it would be if he ran the table. That's pretty scary.

BLITZER: If he's reelected for other four years.


BLITZER: And if that -- not only the Senate, but the House as Republican. And he can name some worse, potentially, Supreme Court justices, all three branches of the U.S. government, what would happen?

FRIEDMAN: Yes. And he would be completely unrestrained. And I think we'd be living in a monarchy. And I think we do permanent damage to the norms and institutions that are the bedrock of this country. And so the Democrats have got to find a way to come together between their moderate and progressive wing. One cannot win without the other and much more important, Wolf, one cannot govern effectively without the other.

Bernie Sanders faction represents what 30 percent, 35 percent, maybe 40 percent of the -- of just the Democratic Party. But that's all. They can't win an election with 35 percent of the party. And they certainly can't hold the House with that. They certainly can't take over the Senate with that. And they couldn't possibly govern effectively with that.

So there's got to be some kind of gathering of the elders of the party, whether it's Schumer and Pelosi or President Obama. I don't know who that's got to come together. These people need some adult leadership here right now. If you watch that debate last night, if you watch the last few debate, it was squabbling children. It was really frightening. It was not uplifting. It was not reassuring.

BLITZER: You wrote recently earlier in the month that Michael Bloomberg is the candidate best suited to defeat Donald Trump, you still believe that?

FRIEDMAN: You know, I think Mike is -- he had a better debate last night. I do believe he's someone who can actually bring the different wings of the party together and he has the resources. And I think the toughness and the smarts to take on Trump, but there's going to have to be some kind of wall to wall coalition. That's why I propose in my column --


BLITZER: Indeed, wall to wall coalition is one thing but you need a presidential --


BLITZER: -- candidate. What if it's Bernie Sanders?

FRIEDMAN: I think it was Bernie Sanders. I don't see the Democrats. I don't see them winning Florida or Pennsylvania, let alone, you know, national government. I -- you know, running the table on the election. I don't think it's going to happen. I don't think Bernie is a coalition builder. I see a rather stubborn, ideological guy. You know, who's telling me Cuba's not so bad because they had, you know, decent health care, education and deprive their people of the freedom and opportunity to realize their full potential. What are you talking about? OK.

And so, I just don't see him as a coalition builder. He has never been as a senator. And so I don't see how he's going to be as a president. I see him as a quite stubborn ideologue. Always good to have you here in "The Situation Room", Tom Friedman. Once again, his last book, "Thank You for Being Late", an optimist guide to thriving in the age of acceleration.


BLITZER: Appreciate it very much, Tom.

FRIEDMAN: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Stay with us. We're about to get an update on the shooting incident unfolding right now over at the Molson Coors complex in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Fatalities are reported. We're also standing by to go live to the White House for President Trump's remarks on the coronavirus.



BLITZER: We're following breaking news. Multiple fatalities are now reported after a shooting incident at the Molson Coors complex in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Our National Correspondent, Brynn Gingras is monitoring the situation for us. What's the latest, Brynn?

GINGRAS: Yes, we have a lot of updates for you, Wolf. We did just hear from Milwaukee's Mayor Tom Barrett who talk to reporters and essentially said that multiple people have died there at the Molson Coors complex in Milwaukee. He believed among them was the shooter, although not giving a definitive number at this point yet, calling this a horrific shooting has occurred.

Now he wasn't able to say exactly where this shooting on the campus occurred. He's still waiting for law enforcement to give an update, but we do know from Milwaukee police, that this is still an active scene. However, there is not an active threat.

So that would suggest that there is no major concern at the moment on that complex. We also know that Molson Coors has put out a statement saying the following, there is an active situation at our Milwaukee facility and we are working closely with the Milwaukee Police Department. Our top priority is our employees and we'll provide updates in conjunction with the police as we were able.

We know the CEO of that company was at a conference in Houston and he stopped that conference short and headed back to Milwaukee. And as you can see, it's a very active scene there as we're still waiting to try to get updates. But FBI, ATF, the Sheriff's Department, Milwaukee P.D., they're all involved in this active scene trying to get answers as to exactly what unfolded on that very large campus there in Milwaukee, Wolf.

BLITZER: Are they giving any information at all possible motive by the shooter?

GINGRAS: We're not learning that just yet. You know, again, the Mayor is just making that comment that he believed the shooter was one of the multiple people he said possibly killed in this. Again, that is a big campus. It's hard to determine right now at this point. Are we talking about employees? Are we talking about tourism? Of course, we're going to learn this information as this investigation progresses. Wolf, let me get back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Once you get more information, Brynn, you'll let us know.

I want to bring in some of our law enforcement experts right now, Charles Ramsey is joining us. He's a CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner, was also a chief of police here in Washington, D.C. So when you get this preliminary information, Chief Ramsey, what goes through your mind?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): Well, I mean, another horrific incident is the first thing I think about. I'm hearing the same thing, multiple deaths at the scene, including the shooter. I also heard that as well. There's a lot of information we don't know yet. In terms of the numbers, although I did hear a number but I'm reluctant to give it out because you always have families and so forth that you have to be concerned about.

But it's my understanding that the shooter is deceased. Obviously, the police will still be thoroughly searching the area to make sure that there are no additional threats and they can tend to the injured, if there are any wounded. I've not had any information at all about people that were injured as opposed to killed.

BLITZER: Phil Mudd is with us as well, our Counterterrorism Analyst, former CIA Counterterrorism Official, also former Official over at the FBI. What goes through your mind when you hear that very preliminary information? We don't know much. We just know there are multiple fatalities possibly including the shooter himself.

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, you know, you hear questions about whether this is ongoing. And the suggestion from the Mayor is that we're in a safer situation than we would have been a couple of hours ago, I would say, as an intel professional, you're looking at this with the first question of did we identify the shooter?

As soon as you identify the shooter, you can get to the intel questions I would have which is, can you get from 99 percent to 100 percent certain that there's nothing else out there? That is once you get an identification, you can look at social media, talk to coworkers, talk to family, look at things like who lives in an apartment, for example, and be sure that even if the shooter is down, there's nobody else out there. It sounds like there's not, but you still got some work to do on that front.

BLITZER: Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Phil, issued a statement, "Gun violence has taken too many lives in Milwaukee and the mass shooting today is heartbreaking". Unfortunately, we keep hearing about these mass shootings going on all over the country.


MUDD: Yes. And I think that the question you'll get going into tomorrow, I wouldn't have this question tonight, but going into tomorrow are questions like and we faced these before, in places like Florida. Are there red flag issues here where somebody saw something that would have led law enforcement? Had they been given an indicator to say maybe this person should have been teed up not for a legal violation, but for red flag violation? That's a tomorrow question, though.

BLITZER: Yes, there's a lot of information we still don't have --

MUDD: Yes.

BLITZER: -- right now. Chief Ramsey, I know we'll get back to you once we get some more information. Thank you very much.


BLITZER: Phil Mudd, thanks to you as well.

Meantime, the other story we're following right now, President Trump and members of the coronavirus task force speaking soon from the White House, has the number of cases climbs here in the United States and indeed around the world.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us right now with a closer look at what you can do to protect yourself. Brian, health officials say this is likely to become a pandemic.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. Top U.S. health official saying we're not quite there yet, but it is likely this will turn into a pandemic. They stress that pandemic does not mean panic. But Americans are being told tonight of steps they need to take to fend off this virus.


TODD (voice-over): Tonight, top American health officials say they expect to see more cases of coronavirus in the U.S. They're not sure how much the virus may spread inside the U.S., but they say Americans everyday lives could be impacted and they need to prepare for the worst.

DR. NANCY MESSONNIER, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: Disruption to everyday life may be severe.

TODD (voice-over): What exactly does that mean?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICARE: That may include canceling mass gatherings, sporting events, having people work from home as much as possible.

TODD (voice-over): And experts say possible school closures, but they stress that all may occur only in certain areas where there could be some community spreading of the virus, not all across the country. So what can the average American do to prepare or to fend off coronavirus? Experts say there are some very simple but important steps.

CHRIS MEEKINS, FORMER ASSISTANT HHS SECRETARY: Those include items like washing your hands for 20 seconds. Most people do it less than five to 10, including not touching your face, not touching your eyes if you haven't washed your hands recently. TODD (voice-over): Fist or elbow bumps, experts say, would be good alternatives to shaking hands while the outbreak is at its height. Use knuckles or elbows to touch elevator buttons and doorknobs instead of your fingers. Stay home if you're sick.

What about wearing masks as we see people do so often in Asia? Experts say, Americans don't need to wear masks on a widespread basis. One reason, they don't always work perfectly.

ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: That could actually sometimes be more harmful to you than not wearing a mask because if it's not fitted right, you're going to fumble with it. You're going to be touching your face, which is the number one way you're going to get diseases, unclean hands touching your face.

TODD (voice-over): And there's longer term preparation Americans are being advised to make tonight. Experts say, think of it like an approaching hurricane.

GOUNDER: Having maybe two weeks worth of food at home in terms of dry goods, canned goods, frozen goods. In case for whatever reason, you know, there were to be some quarantine instituted, and I think actually most importantly, having a good supply of prescription medications on hand.

TODD (voice-over): What Americans should not do, expert say, is panic. The transmission and fatality rates from coronavirus are extremely low. In the U.S., most people who get it will survive. As far as things we enjoy and do every day like going to restaurants.

MEEKINS: People should continue to go out to eat, I'm continuing to eat out and I'm not worried. And my job in the government was to be worried about the worst possible things that could happen.


TODD: What about everyday travel for Americans on subways and buses, medical and preparedness experts say we should not refrain from taking trains and buses to work just maybe try to put a few more inches of space between you and those close to you if you can. Seem for air travel, they say, don't stop traveling or change your plans unless there's a significant spread of coronavirus in the U.S. and there's a large cluster of it in a particular place, then maybe you can look at adjusting travel to that place. Wolf?

BLITZER: We're all learning a lot about this. All right Brian, thank you very much.

And stay with us for all the breaking news. Milwaukee's Mayor now says there are multiple fatalities after a shooting at the city's Molson Coors complex. Much more right after this.


[17:59:21] BLITZER: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room" We're covering two breaking stories. Right now, we're standing by for President Trump to speak about the rapidly spreading coronavirus and the threat it poses right here in the United States. The White House is on the defensive over its response to the outbreak so far after the President has publicly downplayed its impact.

Also breaking right now, we're following the shooting incident Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the Molson Coors Beverage Company complex. The Milwaukee Mayor says multiple people are dead, including the shooter. We're hoping to get details from authorities very soon.

First, let's go to our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's now over in the briefing room at the White House getting ready for the President's remarks.