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State of the Union

First American Killed By Coronavirus; Interview With Vice President Mike Pence; Interview With Former Vice President Joe Biden. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 01, 2020 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Global crisis. Fears grow after coronavirus spreads to more Americans and kills one of them.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Additional cases in the United States are likely.

TAPPER: How should Americans respond? And is the Trump administration prepared? Vice President Mike Pence joins me.

And winning big. Former Vice President Biden's first win is a blowout.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Democrats want a nominee who is a Democrat.

TAPPER: With an opponent prepped for the long haul.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are building a movement that cannot be stopped.

TAPPER: Can he keep the momentum going? I will ask former Vice President Joe Biden coming up.


TAPPER: Hello.

I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where state of our union is competitive.

Former Vice President Joe Biden's sweeping victory in South Carolina yesterday -- that is the first state to vote with a sizable African- American population -- helps him make the case to Democrats that he, not Senator Bernie Sanders, can turn out the votes the Democrats would need to beat President Trump in November.

Next up, I'm going to speak with the former vice president.

But we're going to begin this morning with the global health crisis, the spread of the coronavirus in the United States and throughout the world. The virus has now claimed the life of its first known American, a man

in his 50s in Washington state. And more than 50 people in a long-term nursing facility there are experiencing symptoms of the virus and are being tested after two other people at that facility tested positive.

The instinct of President Trump has clearly been to downplay concerns. He said this week that the number of cases have been -- quote -- "going very substantially down, not up" -- unquote.

But health experts say we should expect more cases. And there are serious questions being raised about how prepared the U.S. and the Trump administration are for this crisis. There is a dearth of viable testing kits, for example.

I spoke with the man leading the coronavirus response, Vice President Mike Pence, about the likely spread of the disease.


TAPPER: Vice President Pence, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.


TAPPER: So, the American people really want to hear from the Trump administration about what's happening with the coronavirus.

Let me start with the very sad news about the man in Washington state who died. He appeared to have contracted the virus through what's called community spread, meaning not because of travel and not because he had contact with a known quarantined patient.

The president said that there are four other patients very sick. Are we expecting, should the public brace themselves for more Americans to die from this?

PENCE: Well, first off, we extend our deepest sympathies to the family of the man who passed away this weekend, and our prayers are certainly with the patients that are seriously ill.

The good news is, of the 22 Americans that have contracted the coronavirus, more than half of them are almost fully recovered.

And -- and I think it's all a reflection of the fact that, early on in this crisis, in January, the president took the unprecedented step of suspending all travel from China and establishing a quarantining effect.

As you know, in addition to those 22 Americans, we have had 46 other Americans that have been through quarantine that have contracted the virus, but they're all being treated, and they're all doing well.

But the president took that action and established the quarantines out of an abundance of caution.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm. PENCE: I was literally there in the Oval Office the day the health

team came in, said to the president, no president's ever done this before, but -- but, given what was happening in China, they recommended that he take that action, and the president said, do it.

And as -- as Dr. Fauci has said and others have said, the risk for the average American to coronavirus remains low. And that is largely owing to the decision the president made, the energetic efforts of CDC and local health officials. And we'll continue to lean in that in a hopeful way.

Now there will be more cases.


TAPPER: And possibly more deaths?

PENCE: And, yes, the -- it -- it is possible.

I mean, the -- the reality that Dr. Fauci and others explained to me since I took on these duties a few days ago is that, for most people that contract the coronavirus, they will recover. They will deal with a respiratory illness. We'll get them treatment.

But for people that have other conditions...


PENCE: ... that would militate toward a worse outcome, that we could have more, we could have more sad news.

But the American people should know the risk for the average American remains low.


TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

PENCE: And they can be confident.

And after three days leading the president's effort on the coronavirus, I'm more confident than ever that we are bringing the whole-of-government approach. The president has directed the full resources of the federal government.

And talking with governors around the country, particularly in states where we brought people back home from China...

TAPPER: California, Washington, Florida.

PENCE: I've spoken -- I've spoken to Governor Cuomo in New York, Governor Newsom in California. One governor after another has praised the efforts of HHS, CDC.

But now it's incumbent on us to continue that effort. We're going to work with members in both parties in Congress to resource our federal agencies, and...


PENCE: ... just as important, to resource state and local health officials as they engage in the kind of preventative measures and treatment that will -- that will mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

TAPPER: As you know, the community spread is one of the most concerning, because people who contracted it in China, that's one thing.

Obviously, we don't wish it upon anybody, but at least it's -- there's an understanding of where it came from. Same thing with the doctor who might get it from a patient.

PENCE: Mm-hmm.

TAPPER: There are other people who have community-spread coronavirus.

What is being done to figure out how they contracted this virus?

PENCE: The way that it works, Jake, is that local health officials are in the lead, but in the cases this weekend and this week that emerged, as a -- as you said, a community infection, we sent CDC officials in to work very closely to identify where they potentially were exposed to the coronavirus.

And that aggressive effort is under way. And...

TAPPER: Who heads that? CDC? HHS?

PENCE: Actually, our local officials, local health officials, state health officials are the front line of defense.

But we move CDC personnel in immediately. They consult with them, because the objective is, we get that patient treated, but we want to find out not just where they got it, but we want to find out who else may have been exposed, so those people can receive the kind of treatment and have the kind of recovery that most Americans will have that even contract this disease.

TAPPER: What do you say to people who heard you and the president Saturday talk about the woman who died, and then it comes out later that the CDC had erroneously told you it was a woman, but, actually, it was a man who had died of this?

What do you say to people who say that this doesn't fill them with confidence about the federal-state coordination?


It -- it was -- the CDC had briefed us, speaking to officials in Washington State, and it was just a miscommunication. It doesn't lessen the tragedy at all. And, again, our -- our hearts go out to that man's family... TAPPER: Yes.

PENCE: And his friends in that community.

But I have to tell you, Jake, I mean, the president tapped me to lead this coronavirus response, building on the great work our White House task force had been doing. We've -- we've added additional personnel. I've got one of the leading experts in infectious diseases who is going to be my right arm at the White House joining me tomorrow morning at -- at -- in the West Wing.

But if people had seen what I'm seeing, I think they can be very proud of the work CDC is doing, HHS is doing, and, just as important, the work that -- that our governors and our state governments and local health officials are doing.

TAPPER: Let me ask you, because one area that there's definite need for improvement is the testing kits and the number of testing kits...

PENCE: That's right.

TAPPER: ... that are out there.

The South Koreans have been able to test more than 90,000 of their citizens for the coronavirus.

PENCE: Mm-hmm.

TAPPER: But the U.S. has had trouble manufacturing the kits. The CDC has struggled a bit, and distributing them to local labs.

The latest numbers show only maybe around 500 people in the U.S. have been tested.

PENCE: Mm-hmm.

TAPPER: Why are we so behind other developed countries on this? And when will there be more of these testing kits delivered to the front- line health care providers?

PENCE: It's a very fair question. And it's one of the first issues that governors I spoke to raised with me.

I'm happy to report that, this weekend, more than 15,000 testing kits have been released. Also, the FDA has approved a testing regimen that state and local officials can be using.

And, beyond that, we actually are working with a commercial provider with the new testing frame work to send another 50,000 kits out.

So, we're addressing it. We're leaning into it. And, more importantly, we've -- we've established a process in a number of cities across the country where, if someone presents at the local hospital with a respiratory ailment, we want them also tested for coronavirus.

And so that's why we're going to move a lot of volume of testing kits. FDA is working...

TAPPER: Is there a goal, like, 20,000 more by the end of next week?

I mean, what is the goal here?


PENCE: Well, I -- I was informed by our team just in the last 48 hours, that we're going to see -- 15,000 kits are in the mail.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

PENCE: They're rolling out. We've approved a process for local testing.


PENCE: We think we've addressed the issue.

But, again, I want to emphasize to the American people, what I've seen and what I've heard from these extraordinary personnel at HHS and CDC and in, like, Dr. Fauci's case, someone who literally has been there through multiple administrations, is, we're ready.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

PENCE: We're ready.

And this is an all-hands-on-deck effort. And whether it be testing kits or whether it be medical devices or protective gear for our health care providers -- you know, one of the things the president made clear, Jake, was...

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

PENCE: ... our first priority is patients that have contracted the coronavirus.

Immediately after that is any health care providers, any doctors and nurses and people that are going to be coming alongside people that have contracted this disease. And so we -- we literally just entered into a contract with 3M. They'll be producing another 35 million masks a month...

TAPPER: Right.

PENCE: ... starting immediately.

We have about -- about 43 million masks stockpiled today.

I want to say to your viewers though, it is not necessary for -- for Americans to go out and buy masks.

TAPPER: Right. It's not going to do anything for you. It's the people who have coronavirus that have the masks -- need the masks, right?

PENCE: Well, and it's -- but it -- more...

TAPPER: And the health care providers.

PENCE: It's our health care providers.

TAPPER: Right.

PENCE: We want to make sure -- and the president's made this clear to me -- we want to make sure that people that are treating people that have contracted the coronavirus have the protective gear, the masks, and the gloves.

And we're working very energetically to accomplish that.

TAPPER: So, I do want to ask you a political question about this, even though I see it primarily as a health issue.

There's been a lot of unfortunate...

PENCE: Thank you.

TAPPER: ...rhetoric on the left and on the right about the coronavirus.

I want you to take a listen to something that the president's son Don Jr. said about Democrats and the coronavirus just on Friday.


DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: Anything that they can use to try to hurt Trump, they will.

For them to try to take a pandemic and seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people, so that they could end Donald Trump's streak of winning, is a new level of sickness.


TAPPER: Can we agree that neither Democrats nor Republicans want Americans to get the coronavirus and die from it?

I mean, that does seem like a -- that seems like very extreme rhetoric. I don't expect you to criticize the president's son, but you don't think that Democrats want people to contract this disease, do you?

PENCE: Well, I think what the president said earlier this week and his charge to me is to remind the American people that the risk is low, to assure the American people that we're ready, but also to say, as the president said, this is no time for politics.

And, frankly, I -- I think that was Don Jr.'s point, that there has been some very strong rhetoric directed at the president by some members of Congress and political commentators...

TAPPER: You don't think that was strong rhetoric? (LAUGHTER)

PENCE: Well...

TAPPER: He said, seemingly, Democrats want millions of Americans to die of coronavirus.

PENCE: But responding to the kind of things that have been hurled is -- is understandable.

But what the president has charged us to do, in my conversation with Speaker Pelosi, with Senator Schumer, my conversations with Republican and Democratic governors, is to set the politics aside on this and to work the problem.

And -- and I want to assure your viewers that's exactly what we're doing. And with -- with the exception of some barbs being thrown by some of the predictable voices in the public debate on -- on the left, the usual shots the president will -- takes, and that I have really heard...

TAPPER: I have some from the right also, with respect, sir. I've heard some, not from you, but I've heard some from the right.

PENCE: Well -- well, look, I -- what I'm telling you is that this is really a time for us to come together...


PENCE: ... because, remember, we're talking about the health and lives of the American people.

You know, I spoke on the phone last night to Jeri Goldman. She is the wife of Carl Goldman. And I caught her on a great night, because she'd just gotten a blood test back. She'd been in quarantine for several weeks. She had a clean bill of health. She's going home and back to their small business.

And she told me, Carl's doing great, but he's still got a ways to go before they allow him to go on home and be back in his community.

I mean, we're talking about real Americans dealing with the coronavirus. And I think it really is a time, it really is a time for us to look for ways to come together.

And I have to tell you, Jake...

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

PENCE: ... the conversations that I'm having with leaders in the Congress, the conversations I'm having with, frankly, Democrat and Republican governors around the country gives me great hope that, as we -- as we move forward, and in the wake of the tragic news of this weekend of the loss of an American life, I continue to believe that we have an opportunity to come together to make sure our -- all of our agencies have the resources that they need, that all of our states have the resources that they need.


And with the -- with the proper expertise, the proper resources and the prayers of millions of Americans, we're going to get through this.

TAPPER: One last question, sir.

And it's on the same topic of American lives and prayers. And that has to do with the peace deal, or whatever you want to call it, that's going on...

PENCE: Right.

TAPPER: ... in Afghanistan right now.

And the U.S. just signed this agreement with the Taliban Saturday. It's a formal step in ending the war in the long term, withdrawing U.S. service members.

I have to say just I am surprised that the deal does not require the Taliban to renounce al Qaeda. It does say that they can't give any aid or assistance in any way to al Qaeda, but it doesn't demand that they renounce them.

And, you know, to be frank, this idea that they're not going to aid al Qaeda is a lie that the Taliban has told for many, many years. And, as you know, because it was a joint U.S.-Afghan operation just last September, the head of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, Asim Umar, was killed in Helmand province, just last September, by our brave soldiers.

Shouldn't the Taliban agree to renounce al Qaeda before the U.S. withdraws service members?

PENCE: The agreement signed today represents a historic step forward on the path to peace. And we remain hopeful that it will hold.

Now, that being said, the president said, if the Taliban continues to keep their word -- and we just went through seven days where we saw a dramatic reduction of violence, and violence against American forces in Afghanistan and innocent civilians.

If that continues to hold, the president's made it clear that we're going to be able to reduce forces in the region.

But I wouldn't gainsay what the Taliban has literally signed and put in writing. It is the first time ever that they have been willing to commit publicly to -- to oppose the presence of al Qaeda in their region, any time that they -- first time they've ever spoken out against terrorist elements.

And 19 years ago and thousands of American lives and injuries of our extraordinary soldiers sent, we all remember that it was al Qaeda and terrorist elements that we've -- that we've still been fighting to this day... TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

PENCE: ... in Afghanistan that brought us there to the first place.

The attack of 9/11 originated from Afghanistan, and it was why we launched U.S. forces to begin with. But in talking to Zal Khalilzad, in talking to Secretary of State Pompeo, the president and I have a sense that, for the first time, there's an opportunity for peace, that -- that President Ghani and the Afghanistan government signed the agreement today.

The Taliban signed the agreement. They have made a commitment to oppose the presence of terrorist elements and terrorist organizations using Afghanistan to launch attacks around the world, including against us, that now that -- the hard work begins.

And it's going to be incumbent on both parties to work together to form an Afghanistan government. In the meantime, we're going to monitor it closely. And -- and we are going to continue to hope that, 19 years since the initiation of hostilities in Operation Enduring Freedom, and thousands of American lives lost, and injuries, that -- that we will find our way toward a peaceful political resolution in Afghanistan and be able to bring our troops home.

TAPPER: All right, the hard work begins. Good luck with that work and also, of course, with the coronavirus task force.

Thank you so much for being here, Mr. Vice President.

PENCE: Thank you, Jake. Good to see you.


TAPPER: He won big in South Carolina.

The next major test, Super Tuesday, is days away. Former Vice President Joe Biden joins me next.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Former Vice President Joe Biden crushed the competition in South Carolina yesterday by almost 30 points, a blowout win, just days before Super Tuesday.

He joins me now from the Super Tuesday state of Alabama.

Mr. Vice President, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Let me ask you, you're leading in the overall popular vote through the first four state contests. Are you the new front-runner? BIDEN: Oh, I think we got a long way to go.

Look, we just -- this is a big boost for us. I think we're going to do well in a number of states. But Super Tuesday is only three days away.

And we're in a situation where we're just beginning to raise the kind of money we thought we'd be able to raise the front end. We have raised about $17 million, $18 million this month, $5 million just since the victory -- or during the victory in South Carolina.

So, we're feeling good, but it's a long way to go, Jake.

TAPPER: And Senator Sanders obviously has a lot of money and a lot of organization.

Right now, you trail him. You're second place when it comes to delegates, leading the rest of your fellow non-Sanders candidates. Have there been any conversations about consolidating the field to take on Senator Sanders?

And, if not, do there need to be, you think?

BIDEN: Well, I haven't had any conversations along those lines.

But I think it's going to be a decision for the rest of the field to make as they move forward. I'm not going to presume to tell anyone they should drop out and -- and take on Bernie Sanders.

I think everyone knows that it's going to be much more difficult to win back the Senate and keep the House if Bernie's at the top of the ticket. But that's the judgment for them to make. And I think that will sort of work itself out in the near term.

TAPPER: I know you say that.

The theory of the case on the Sanders side is that he inspires excitement among voters and will be able to bring out more voters, people who sat out 2016.


And it's true that his rallies and events draw crowds that we do not see among any other person running for president on the Democratic side.

How are you going to be able to fix that excitement gap, enthusiasm gap that...

BIDEN: Well...

TAPPER: Go ahead.

BIDEN: No, go -- well, I was in North Carolina yesterday up in Raleigh. We had 1,000 people show up.

Look, you know, the idea that there's a direct correlation between the number of people at a rally and the number of people who turn out, we had the largest turnout in South Carolina. And I don't think that was not -- I think that was no small part because of our campaign.

And we won every single solitary county in the state. And, as you said, we won convincingly. That doesn't mean I'll do that everywhere. But what's happening is that, look, it's -- people aren't looking for a revolution, in my view. What they're looking for is, they're looking results. They're looking for getting things done.

And Bernie doesn't have a very good track record of getting things done in the United States Congress, the United States Senate. And much of what he's proposing is very, very much pie in the sky. He is talking about spending $60 trillion, and not raising taxes on the middle class, and being able to get it done quickly, and so on.

I have laid out clearly how we can get health care plan covering everybody and have a Medicare option for those who want it. And we can get it done quickly. I have laid out -- I have laid out a game plan as to how we can get things done.

And I will be honest with you. I mean, he hadn't had much of a record of getting anything done in the United States House of Representatives or the Senate. I think he's passed seven, eight bills. I don't always. He's worked with John McCain.

We were talking about John earlier off the -- off the record here.

And John -- he did some good work on veterans. He's on the Veterans Committee.

But I have gotten major, major things done. I'm able to cross the aisle and get things done.

And so I think it's about who can not only win, bring along a Senate and keep a House, the House of Representatives, but who can then get something done.

And that's for the public to decide, obviously, but that's the case I'm trying to make.

TAPPER: So, obviously, Super Tuesday looms.

You said last night that the endorsement of Congressman Jim Clyburn, the House majority whip and the dean of the South Carolina delegation, you said he -- his endorsement -- quote -- "brought you back in South Carolina."

But I have to note -- and I don't know if about this -- but earlier in the day, he told CNN that the Biden campaign needs an overhaul to compete going forward, that you need to improve fund-raising, you need to improve get-out-the-vote efforts, and much more.

Take a listen to a brief excerpt of this.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): We need to do some retooling in the campaign, no question about that.

I did not feel free to speak out about it or to even deal with it inside, because I had not committed to his candidacy. I have now. I'm all in.

And I'm not going sit back and watch people mishandle this campaign.


TAPPER: He's saying people are mishandling your campaign.

This is a supporter. I'm sure he's even more verbose behind closed doors.

Are you going to overhaul your campaign?

BIDEN: Well, we're -- it's about -- it's about addition, not subtraction.

We're bringing some -- each of these primaries and/or caucus states, we -- when they go by, we bring on more and more people of real competence and consequence. And he's right about the fund-raising.

But, for example, just last night, we raised $5 million online. We have raised about $18 million so far just this month. Things are beginning to change.

And he's right. And I listen to his counsel. And I think he -- and I listen to his counsel relative to about how I can get better as well. And so this is about addition, not subtraction.

And going into Super Tuesday, we have in Super Tuesday states 340 major endorsements. We don't have the troops on the ground that we have -- because we haven't had the money to get that done. But we're going to do, I think, better than anybody expects.

And then we're going to move into states where I'm confident we're going to be able to win in primaries, like Florida and Georgia and other places.

So I think this is -- this is a marathon. We have got to continue to improve. That's what it's all about. And I think that's what's happening.

TAPPER: I'm curious as to your take on the administration's response to the coronavirus crisis. We just learned of the first American death from the disease yesterday.

What, if anything, do you think you would be doing differently if you were president right now?

BIDEN: I know what I would have done differently, what we did in the Ebola crisis.

They used -- I heard the vice president say they set up an office in the White House. We had an office in the White House. We, after the -- after the -- us dealing with a pandemic that could have been incredibly dangerous and affected the world, Ebola, we set up an entire mechanism as to how to deal with future outbreaks of pandemic diseases.

They eliminated that office when they came in play. They cut the funding for CDC.


They did not in fact when you wanted to -- they tried to cut the funding at, you know, in terms of HHS.

And so, what, look, here, we knew this was coming. We knew that this was coming. Back as far as January. They didn't even begin to prepare the testing kits. I mean, this is something that is kind of elementary.

We talked about the testing kits. We're now going to get them. Look, I don't want to -- I don't want to talk down the possibility of us being able to do this well, but, you know, the idea that Donald Trump said just several days ago that this is a Democratic hoax. What in God's name is he talking about? What in God's name is he talking about? Has he no shame?

We are in a situation where -- I respect Vice President Pence and his being put in charge, but we should be hearing from the scientists. He mentioned Fauchi. Fauchi has been there since Bush. All three presidents, we listen to him. He was a spokesperson. He was out in front.

Let the scientists speak. Let them tell us what is going on. Let them prepare us. Let them prepare the country. Let them be the ones explaining how they're going to provide the protective gear for hospitals that are intake hospitals.

And as you pointed out, Jake, the fact is that the other nations have had thousands of tests so far. What are we doing? Why are we just -- why are we just getting started?

I would have not have dismantled the organization we had put in place in the first place. I would have made sure we had American scientists in China insisting we know what is happening in China and I would be doing the same thing in Europe where it is now spread. The idea that this is not a pandemic, that it is not worldwide, that it is not going to get worse doesn't mean we're going to die, but it is going to get worse is absolutely bizarre.

TAPPER: Mr. Vice President, stick around. We've got lots more to talk about. Next, we're going to squeeze in a quick break. Stay with us.



[09:36:29] TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper. We are back with the big winner from last night former Vice President Joe Biden with his overwhelming victory in South Carolina.

Mr. Vice President, let me ask you, the odds are increasing significantly that this will be a contested convention in Milwaukee, the Democratic National Convention. If no candidate has the required 1,991 delegates to be the Democratic nominee, are you going to fight for the nomination even if you are in second place in delegates?

BIDEN: Yes. I mean, look, the rules have been set. And I find a lot of folks in Bernie's operation are now saying that whoever is going in with the most delegates even if they are not close or there's a distant from the 1,900-plus that we need that they should be declared the winner. I wonder where that view was when he was challenging Hillary after she went in with the commanding lead.

Look, you don't change the rules in the middle of the game. And I am not at all certain that we are, I am not a pundit and I don't know if we're going to win with Bernie ahead. I hope that is not the case. I hope I am ahead, but we will see. But, I think, you know, you play by the rules.

TAPPER: You think that Bernie Sanders can't beat President Trump. Why do you think that you will be able to beat him given the fact that Bernie does have more enthusiasm among the young people and among some other minority groups not in South Carolina, obviously, but nationally?

BIDEN: Well, let me put it this way. I think that the enthusiasm does not necessarily translate into votes. You saw more people voted yesterday in South Carolina, I am told than I think in the primary than any other time, the largest turnout. And I won every single solitary county. Every single solitary county. That does not mean that it holds for every state, but I think people aren't looking for a revolution, they're looking for results. They're looking for who can not only beat Donald Trump, but who can keep a Democratic House of Representatives and who can bring along a Democratic Senate. And that means that you got to be able to compete in almost every state from the top of the ticket. And it's just a matter of fact.

If you are going to try to win a seat in Georgia or in North Carolina or South Carolina or Florida, who do you want on the top of the ticket? So I think it's -- I think the confusion is that this -- and that I don't have any supportive young people, I do. I get about -- I get about 30 percent of the people that are -- anyway, the point I think this is just a long game here but people want results. They are not looking for revolution, they results. They want a return to decency. They want to be able to get things done. And I have a record that is far superior on those two issues than Bernie's.

TAPPER: I wanted to ask you about Afghanistan, because the U.S. signed an agreement yesterday with the Taliban in hopes that it will lead to the end of America's longest war. The U.S. is committed to withdraw all military forces in 14 months.

If you were president, would you agree to this deal that the U.S. just made with the Taliban?

BIDEN: Well, based on what I understand the deal to be, and there is changes that are all being made aware of is that there is no commitment required on the part of the Taliban that they will not support al Qaeda or a the terrorist organization that they have supported before or let live and let live in that area. And a number of the troops they are talking about being drawn down only takes you down to the number of troops that were there when we left office.


And I think it's very important to have a commitment from the Taliban that in fact they are not going to support al Qaeda. They're not going to support those organizations that use the eastern, western Pakistan and Afghanistan to launch attacks against the United States. I would insist on --

TAPPER: I'm sorry to interrupt, sir. The deal does say that the Taliban will not aid al Qaeda. No, it does not say that they will renounce al Qaeda, but it says that they will not aid al Qaeda.

BIDEN: I am sorry. Again, I have not read the deal. I just know what has been reported. I was under the impression that we had to begin to draw down, period. Whether or not that have been demonstrated yet.

But here is the deal is, you know, Jake, I was against surging troops to Afghanistan in the first place. We're not nation builders. We can't build that nation. We should not be in the business of that. But we should have a small footprint to be able to determine whether or not there are terrorist organizations operating in the region that are planning attacks against the United States. And we should have cooperation from the Afghan government on that and a commitment from the Taliban that they will not in any way support that effort.

TAPPER: All right. Mr. Vice President, congratulations again on your victory. I hope you'll come back to STATE OF THE UNION. Thanks so much.

BIDEN: No. Thanks for having me, Jake. I really do appreciate it. Thank you.

TAPPER: In two days Democrats are foreseeing (ph) more states will vote. Will all the current candidates still be in the race? That's next.




BIDEN: Win big or lose that's the choice. Most Americans don't want the promise of revolution, they want more than promises, they want results.

SANDERS: The people of this country on Super Tuesday and after are going to support our campaign.


TAPPER: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders after Biden's blowout South Carolina win, does that make him the new comeback kid heading into Super Tuesday? Let's discuss.

Van, let me start with you.


TAPPER: First of all, is it now basically a two-person race? And second of all, what do you think is going to happen Tuesday?

JONES: Well, I mean, it needs to become a two-person race for the party to be able to make a clear decision. We will see what other candidates do.

Listen, Tuesday is very simple. You have Bernie says congratulations to South Carolina, I've got a movement. Bloomberg says, I've got a money machine. Let's see how that works. Biden says, I've got me. That is what I've got. And maybe that is enough on Tuesday, but if it is not -- Biden if he wants to clear this field, if he want to be able to get this nomination and also take on Trump he has got to put a real campaign together now. Even his closest people are saying, the campaign operation he's up until now is inadequate.

But, listen, 24 hours from now, 48 hours from now you're going to be talking about Bernie Sanders, California, Texas, Latinos and then we're going to see where we are.

TAPPER: There are 14 contests coming up, Rebecca. What do you think?

REBECCA KATZ, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID: So, let's face it. Biden had a great night last night, but when you think about it he is now the fourth candidate that moderates have rallied behind. First there was Pete then there was the boomlet around Amy, and then Bloomberg was supposed to save everyone up until Elizabeth Warren destroyed him on the debate stage.

So now we're at Biden but he has -- he has to get through all three of the moderates on Super Tuesday and the he has the money problem. Bernie got $46.5 million in donations in just February. Bernie is rolling. He and Warren have the infrastructure to go to long way and Biden is basically starting from scratch now.

TAPPER: What do you think, Senator?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Having gone through this before what I found is that winning on Saturdays is not as good as winning on Tuesdays. Saturdays you just don't get the media attention and people are not paying attention to it. So it's going to be a -- it's going to be a lift for him, but not nearly as much as you think.

The other thing I am looking at Joe even on the show today he said, I think that I can do well in some states on Super Tuesday and then Florida and Georgia. He's a regional candidate. I mean, he's really confined to the southeast is what he is looking for where there is a heavy more conservative black population down there that will vote for him, but that is not Super Tuesday. The big states in Super Tuesday are Massachusetts, Texas, California --

JONES: California.

SANTORUM: -- and not Alabama. I mean, that is not where the votes are and that is not -- by the way, Joe is winning in the areas that are Democrats are not going to win into the fall. So I don't understand -- I don't understand the logic behind it. So, I think voters are going to maybe give a little different judgment on Tuesday than what Joe is looking for.

TAPPER: What do you think, Amanda?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: As a Republican, I would like to thank the voters in South Carolina for saying no to socialism loud and clear. That was very satisfying to see, because I have been talking to a lot of concerned Republicans who are just absolutely distraught at the prospect of a Trump/Sanders choice in 2020. They view that as something that would be so dour and so polarizing it would rip the country apart.

And I would think that Michael Bloomberg is probably in that camp considering he got in the race because theoretically he wanted to stop Sanders and he didn't think Biden can do it. So Michael Bloomberg right now has a potential to play a spoiler for that and actually pave the way for Sanders. So I have a lot of questions for him, and now it is time for him to put up.

TAPPER: You would think he should stay in the race or drop out of the race?

CARPENTER: I think he should get out.

TAPPER: Get out of the race?

CARPENTER: We live in a time of very tribal politics. He has no tribe.

TAPPER: All right. Everyone, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, an end to America's longest war and a message to those who sacrificed for it. That is next.



TAPPER: Finally from us today an historic deal was signed yesterday in Doha, Qatar between the U.S. and the Taliban. An agreement that seeks to be the first step in paving a path forward for a larger peace deal with the Afghan government and a withdrawal of U.S. service members from Afghanistan. A Taliban official tells CNN they have accepted President Trump's invitation for talks in the U.S. This is a deal that seemed unthinkable 18 years ago when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan less than a month after 9/11. And the Taliban was exerting its brutal reign on the Afghan people. But after trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost including more than 2,000 U.S. service members this agreement is a formal step aimed at ending America's longest war.


Now many outstanding and serious questions remain. Will the Taliban hold up their end of the bargain? Will the deal make Americans safer? What happens to the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan?

But as we note this first the step, we want to take a minute to acknowledge and thank those who fought and shed blood and suffered and died for this war. The troops and the veterans and their families. Especially the children whose parents never came home. It's a pain most of us cannot even imagine. We pray that this peace is worthy of your sacrifices.

Thank you for joining us.

Fareed Zakaria speaks to the president of Afghanistan, next.