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State of the Union

Interview With U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams; Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 08, 2020 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Man to man. Another big test for the top two Democratic candidates, with more states set to vote.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What a difference a week makes.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have got to bring young people into the political process.

TAPPER: But can he do it? Senator Bernie Sanders joins me next.

And outbreak, more deaths, more cases, and more under quarantine, as the coronavirus spreads.

DR. JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Caution is appropriate. Preparedness is appropriate. Panic is not.

TAPPER: What should Americans be doing? The U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, joins me to discuss in moments.

Plus: Contained? President Trump defends his administration's response to the outbreak.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect, the transcription was perfect.

TAPPER: As testing lags and cases spike, is the U.S. prepared?


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is watching the numbers climb.

Nineteen people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S., and more than 450 in more than 30 states and now Washington, D.C., have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Those numbers are expected to rise, as the government rushes more test kits to labs across the country, amid persistent questions about how the Trump administration is handling this crisis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now advising older

Americans and those with severe chronic health conditions to stay home as much as possible, while schools, sports teams, and the travel industry prepare for major disruptions caused by the spread of the virus.

Overseas, Italy is addressing a rise in their cases by putting part of their country on lockdown, barring almost 16 million people from all public events, including weddings and mass.

For more on how America is handling the outbreak, I will speak with America's top doctor, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, ahead.

But let's begin with the 2020 Democratic primaries, another big test Tuesday night, six states set to vote on what has become a two-man race between former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is looking to repeat his big upset win in Michigan in 2016 to slow Biden's momentum this time.

Joining me now from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is Senator Bernie Sanders.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

You have acknowledged that, while you won California, Utah, Vermont, and Colorado...

SANDERS: Colorado.

TAPPER: Yes, Colorado -- more generally, Super Tuesday did not go the way you hoped. You lost primaries that you won in 2016, such as Maine, Minnesota, Oklahoma.

Now, you won Michigan in 2016 and identified it as a pivotal state for November.

If you don't win Michigan Tuesday, will that signal to you that your efforts to broaden your support are not working?

SANDERS: Well, obviously, Michigan is an enormously important state.

And I'm very proud that, today, Jesse Jackson, who, as you know, is -- has been one of the great civil rights leaders in our country, who, when he ran for president in '88, actually won here in Michigan, he is going to be with me here today and strongly supporting our campaign.

And what Reverend Jackson understands is that we have to move aggressively to wipe out all forms of racism in this country, and we need an economic agenda that speaks to the needs of working people, not just the billionaire class.

I think, with Reverend Jackson on board, I think we got a real boost in our campaign. We're working as hard as we can, because Michigan is very, very significant in terms of the primary process. We hope to repeat the victory we had in 2016.

TAPPER: You canceled an event in Mississippi, where seven in 10 Democratic primary voters are black, in order to focus on Michigan instead.

This came, of course, after black voters overwhelmingly voted for Biden on Super Tuesday.

Do you worry about what message that might send to voters of color in places such as Mississippi?

SANDERS: No, I don't.

Look, everybody -- everybody knows that there are limited amounts of time. We did three rallies yesterday. We were in Chicago, Illinois -- and Illinois' primary is coming up in a week -- where we had 15,000 people out at Grant Park.

We have two rallies today. We did three yesterday. We are working as hard as we can. And you have to adjust the schedule every moment. We look forward to doing as well as we can in Mississippi. It is going to be a tough state for us.

But, right now, our focus is here in Michigan, where we think we have the agenda that can win this state. And, also, with two people in the race -- now, it's Vice President Biden and myself -- we have the opportunity to contrast our voting records, our vision for the future.

And in Michigan, the people here have been devastated, devastated, in Flint, in Detroit, by these disastrous trade agreements that Joe Biden voted for. He voted for NAFTA. He voted for PNTR with China, which forced American workers to compete against desperate people who are making pennies an hour.


We lost over four million good-paying jobs as a result of those trade agreements, 160,000 jobs here in Michigan alone. I voted and helped lead the opposition to those disastrous trade agreements. I worked with the unions. I knew what they would do.

And, unfortunately, I was right.

Joe voted for the war in Iraq, the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country. I led the opposition to it.

Joe voted for the Wall Street bailout. I led the opposition to that.

So I think people have a right to know what our record is and what our vision is for the future. And now that there are two people in the race, we're going to have the opportunity to have that debate.

TAPPER: The vice president's response to that is that he helped lead the efforts for the auto bailout, which saved a lot of jobs in Michigan.

SANDERS: Well, it wasn't just the vice president. He was vice president. Barack Obama was the president. Members of Congress worked very hard on that bailout as well. But the bottom line here is, we have had -- you know, if you're

talking about taking on Trump and defeating Trump -- and Joe understands and I understand that we have got to do everything possible to defeat Trump -- and I will support Joe if he wins. He will support me if I win.

But going into states like Michigan, going into Pennsylvania, going into Wisconsin, key battleground states, these are all states that have been devastated by these terrible trade agreements.

And I fear very much, if Joe is the candidate, believe me, Trump will and has already talked about Joe's record on trade.

I believe that we are the strongest campaign to defeat Donald Trump, A, because we have a grassroots movement that is unparalleled, B, because we have a voting record that speaks to the needs of working families.

I believe that the United States has got to join every other major country on Earth, guarantee health care to all people as a human right, helped lead the effort on that, helped lead the effort to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, helped lead the effort to demand that, at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, the rich and the billionaire class start paying their fair share of taxes.

TAPPER: Senator, are you saying that Joe Biden will lose Michigan and other Industrial Midwest states to President Trump if he's the nominee?

SANDERS: No, I'm not saying that. And I have been asked that a million times. And I believe Joe can beat Trump. And if Joe is the candidate, I will do everything I can to make sure that he does.

But I think, just looking at the facts, if you're going into the industrial base of the United States of America, the heartland of America, and you voted for agreements that have devastated communities, like Flint, Detroit, it's kind of hard to make the case, when Trump has made trade such an important part of his agenda.

Now, Trump lies all of the time. I mean, he is a pathological liar. He is running a corrupt administration.

But it will be hard, I believe -- not to say that he can't do it, but it will be hard for Joe to defend a record on trade when it has had such a negative impact on the Midwest.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about the latest in the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

The CDC says older people and other vulnerable individuals should avoid crowds. The South by Southwest Festival was canceled. The NBA is talking about potentially having games with no fans.

You're running for president, so you set a tone as a leader on this. Now, you have promised, in terms of your rallies, that you won't endanger anyone's health. At what point will it not be worth the risk of having rallies?

SANDERS: That's a good question.

And all that I can tell you, Jake, is, we are in communications with public health officials wherever we go.

Yesterday, we had a rally in Chicago, Grant Park. we have 15,000 people out. Now, I love rallies. But your point is well-taken. We will not endanger the health of anybody in this country.

And I think there are many organizations, the NBA being one, theaters all over this country. I mean, this -- we are watching this thing very, very carefully.

What is most important is the health of the American people. And we are in constant contact with public health officials and getting their advice.

TAPPER: More personally, sir, let me ask you, the CDC is now saying that older Americans should limit their travel and avoid crowds.


TAPPER: You, President Trump, Vice President Biden, you're all older Americans.

Do you think that all three of you should be limiting your travel and avoiding crowds?

SANDERS: Well, in the best of all possible worlds, maybe.

But, right now, we're running as hard as we can. We did three rallies yesterday. We're doing two rallies today. I have been working really, really hard.

Look, this is the most consequential election in the modern history of the United States of America. Trump, in my view, is a president who is a liar, who is a -- running a corrupt administration, who does not understand the Constitution of the United States, who thinks he's above the law.

He has to be beaten. And I believe I am the strongest candidate to do that. And I'm going to work as hard as I can to make sure that we win this Democratic nomination and that we defeat Trump.


TAPPER: Sir, I have to ask you about something that happened Thursday night at your rally in Phoenix, where an individual unfurled a Nazi flag, a swastika, before being removed by security. I know you didn't see it in the moment, but you saw it later.

You could be the first Jewish major party nominee for president in American history. What was your reaction when you saw that somebody unfurled a swastika at your rally? SANDERS: I tell you, to be honest with you, I was -- he was behind

me. And I was speaking to the crowd. And I saw crowds booing.

And I turned around. I didn't quite see what it was. I learned about it right after I left the stage.

Jake, we have been disrupted by various groups. Some Trump people have gotten excited, and we have gotten rid of them. But the idea that there was a swastika, a symbol of everything that this country stands against -- we lost 400,000 people fighting that symbol, fighting Nazism.

Six million Jews were killed. Other people were killed, the most devastating war in the history of humanity. And you have in the United States of America somebody -- who is an anti-Semite, was yelling out vulgar things as well.

Obviously, it is unspeakable. It is disgusting. It is something -- I got to tell you, I never expected in my life, as an American, to see a swastika at a major political rally. It's horrible.

TAPPER: Your campaign manager and communications director have been tweeting this weekend, pointing out that you have a more rigorous schedule and give longer speeches than your Democratic rival, Joe Biden. You had three events, comparing that to his schedule yesterday.

Do you think that Vice President Biden is not up to the task in terms of the rigors of being either the Democratic nominee or being the president?


I think what we're talking about is my schedule, which I just mentioned to you. And, by the way, we're in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And later this afternoon, we're going to hold a rally here.

And Reverend Jesse Jackson, who, as you know, is one of the great heroes and one of the great leaders of the civil rights movement in this century -- Jesse has transformed, the Reverend Jackson has transformed politics in America, has brought black and white and Latinos together, has demanded and done an extraordinary job in fighting against racism for his entire career, who understands that we need to have an economy and a government that works for all black and white and Latinos, and not just the very rich.

He will be joining me and supporting our campaign. And we're very excited about that.

But, look, Joe Biden is a friend of mine. And Joe and I have disagreements on the issue. I do not make personal attacks on Joe.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about Senator Warren.

She has not endorsed either you or Vice President Biden. You pointed out that -- quote -- "There was no question that her agenda, what she fought for in the campaign was far closer to what I am fighting for than what Joe Biden believes in" -- unquote.

I don't dispute that. That seems to be accurate. But that would seem to suggest that this should be an easy choice for her. Why do you think she has not endorsed you?

SANDERS: Well, I'm not going to speculate that.

We would love to have Senator Warren's support. And we would love to have the millions of people who supported Senator Warren in her campaign on board.

Senator Warren talked about a wealth tax, something that I think is enormously important.

And we have a -- we also have a wealth tax, nuanced different than hers, but the same principle, that, at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, when three people own more wealth than the bottom half of America, when the very, very rich are becoming phenomenally richer, yes, we need to demand that they pay their fair share of taxes, so we can deal with the homelessness crisis in this country, so that we can improve public education in this country, so that we can guarantee health care to all people as a human right.

So, we reach out. We're looking and asking for the support of Senator Warren's supporters, and hope they come on board.

TAPPER: You know, there are a lot of people in the Democratic Party who are disappointed with the fact that, with the most diverse field in the history of the United States, the nomination is coming down to two white men.

And I say that as a white man, so I hope you're not offended.


TAPPER: But -- but do you think that the...

SANDERS: No, I know I'm white. All right.

TAPPER: You're -- you're aware of it. OK.

SANDERS: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

TAPPER: So, do you think...

SANDERS: Yes, I am aware of that, Jake.

TAPPER: Do you think that sexism and other forms of bigotry are -- remain hurdles for candidates appealing for...

SANDERS: Yes, I do.

TAPPER: ... not just the general electorate, but for the Democratic votes?

SANDERS: Look, the answer -- the short answer is, yes, I do. I think women have obstacles placed in front of them that men do not

have. On the other hand, we have made progress in the last 40, 50 years in terms of the number of the women who are now in the Congress.


You can remember, it wasn't so many years ago, a few decades ago, that Barbara Mikulski of Maryland was the only woman in the United States Senate. And we have made some progress.

But the day has got to come sooner and later that women can see themselves equally represented in Congress, a half or more members of Congress, president of the United States, leaders of companies all over this country.

We're making progress, but it's too slow. And we have got to get rid of all of the vestiges of sexism that exist in this country, which is still pretty rampant.

TAPPER: All right, Senator Sanders, thanks so much. Good luck on Tuesday. Appreciate your time.

SANDERS: Thank you.

TAPPER: How worried should you be about the coronavirus?

The nation's top doctor, the U.S. surgeon general, will join us next.


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

Many of the U.S. coronavirus deaths can be traced back to one facility, the Life Care nursing center in Kirkland, Washington.


And now I am learning some new details about events at the center. A first responder there tells me that, this past Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, only three staff members were serving about 90 residents there.

And, as of Thursday, neither King County Health, nor the CDC had sent personnel to provide assistance, although that has since changed.

First responders there also saw those same staff members wearing a kind of mask that the first responders had been told could actually spread particulates through the air. They were also wearing inadequate personal protective equipment, or PPEs, to handle the high number of patients with probable coronavirus at the facility.

Now, a spokesman for Life Care Center had no comment on our report. But a representative did tell CNN last night that they have seen patients there go from having no symptoms to having acute symptoms within an hour's time, adding -- quote -- "We cannot make any promise that exposure, further exposure within the facility is not happening" -- unquote.

The U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, joins me now to talk about this and much more.

Dr. Adams, thanks so much for joining us.

Six weeks into the crisis, a first responder tells me that he sees this, with workers at one of the main clusters understaffed, undertrained, undersupplied.

How does that happen?

ADAMS: Well, we will quickly get into that.

But I want to first help the American people understand, the novel coronavirus, which we're talking about, is a respiratory virus that comes from the family of viruses that cause the common cold, MERS and SARS. We have successfully handled those in the past.

And, in most cases, 80 percent-plus, it causes a mild disease.

And one of the things we're focused on is helping people know who's at risk and what they can do to protect themselves.

Now, you mentioned that care facility. The vice president and a team of folks, including Dr. Redfield, were out there just a few days ago. It's important for the American people to know that this response, and in all states, is led by the states, with consultation from federal partners.

And we are constantly in touch with them, making sure they're getting what they need. We have CDC teams now at that facility providing care.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

ADAMS: The health and safety of the American people is of our utmost importance, our number one priority.

TAPPER: Just in the last 48 hours, more than a dozen states and Washington, D.C., reported their first cases of coronavirus, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Carolina, Hawaii, Utah, here in Washington, Kansas, Virginia, Missouri, Vermont.

The virus is spreading.

ADAMS: Absolutely.

And we have been saying this all along. Initially, we had a posture of containment, so that we could give people time to prepare for where we are right now.

Now we're shifting into a mitigation phase, which means that we're helping communities understand, you're going to see more cases. Unfortunately, you're going to see more deaths. But that doesn't mean that we should panic. It means that we should

take the things that we know work for individuals to protect themselves and make sure everyone is doing those things, like washing your hands frequently, like covering your cough, like staying home if you're sick, and not being around people who are sick.

But it also means communities need to be thinking about things like, should we be canceling large gatherings? What are our telework policies? Should we be closing schools?

And that's going to be different in Seattle than what it's going to be in Jackson, Mississippi.

But communities need to have that conversation and prepare for more cases, so that we can prevent more deaths.

TAPPER: I agree that there shouldn't be panic.

But I also think there has been confusing information coming from -- not from you, but from other people in power.

Take a listen to two top White House officials in the last few days saying that the virus has been contained, when it has not been contained.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: This has been contained because the president took action.

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We don't actually know what the magnitude of the virus is going to be, although, frankly, so far, it looks relatively contained.


TAPPER: So, that's not true. It's not contained. It's not relatively contained.

Have you expressed your desire for people on the White -- in the White House to share the facts and be honest?

ADAMS: Well, this is a novel virus. It's a new situation. And the messaging, quite frankly, is hard.

But here's what I want the American people to know. From a public health point of view -- and I am a public health expert -- the first thing you want to try to do is contain the virus. And some parts of the country have contained it, meaning they're preventing spread into their communities in the first place.


TAPPER: But we don't really know that, though, right, because there aren't enough testing kits, so we don't -- like, for instance, we know of one case in D.C. That doesn't mean there's only one person with it in D.C. We just

don't know. There aren't enough testing kits.

ADAMS: Well, what we do know is that, if we had massive numbers of cases, we would be seeing more deaths.

And so we actually feel pretty good that some parts of the country have contained it, just like when you look at the flu. And when we look at the flu tracker, some parts of the country are having much more severe flu seasons. Some are having very mild flu seasons.

The same thing for coronavirus. So, you want to first try to keep it out of your community. Once you know it's in your community, you want to take the steps to prevent spread within the community and to keep those most at risk safe.


And a very important point here, we now know more about who is at risk. Average age of death for people from coronavirus is 80. Average age of people who need medical attention is age 60.

We want people who are older people who have medical conditions to take steps to protect themselves, including avoiding crowded spaces, including thinking very carefully about whether or not now's the time to get on that cruise ship, and whether now's the time to take that long-haul flight.

For most people, you're going to be fine. But if you have medical conditions, or you're older, now's the time to rethink that.

TAPPER: Well, the three people who might be president in January 2021, President Trump, Senator Sanders and Vice President Biden, all of them are in their '70s. All of them, there -- have had various health questions.

Should those three stop traveling? Should they stop holding rallies?

ADAMS: Well, one of the things we know is that life can't stop.

And there was a great article in "The New York Times" earlier today about the social cost, the social impact of the draconian measures that have been taken in China.

If people are going to go out there, we want them to be extra cautious. We want them to wash their hands frequently.

And I was with the president on Friday. And I just said: "Sir, when's the last time you have washed your hands?"

And he said: "I washed my hands just a few minutes ago."

We want to make sure, if folks are out there who are at risk, they're taking extra precautions.

But speaking of being at risk, the president, he sleeps less than I do, and he's healthier than what I am. And so that's the other reason that this messaging is hard, because there are 70-year-olds who run marathons and are healthier than some 30-year-olds.

It's really focusing on the comorbidities, on the medical problems, heart disease, lung disease, immunocompromised folks, in addition to that combination of older age that seems to put people most at risk.

TAPPER: I want you to take a listen to something President Trump said on Friday when he visited the CDC.

He was talking about whether or not to bring those infected Americans on a cruise ship off the California coast back into the United States.


TRUMP: They would like to have the people come off. I'd rather have the people stay, but I would go with them. I told them to make the final decision.

I would rather, because I like the numbers being where they are -- I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault.


TAPPER: And that was a shocking comment. I think a lot of health experts were stunned.

The -- is the president's desire to artificially keep the numbers low by keeping Americans who are off the coast out of the United States, is that desire impacting health decisions to help save these Americans who have coronavirus or who could possibly have it?

ADAMS: Well, I don't want to play politics here.

But I do want to say, I have been in the Situation Room every day. And when the president comes in, he makes it clear that he wants the best advice from his health experts.

As far as the cruise ships are concerned, our priorities are, number one, making sure people who are on those cruise ships and who need medical attention can get it. And we have flown people off the ships. We have flown CDC teams into the ships to help.

Number two, we want to get people off the ships as quickly and as safely as we can.

And, number three, we want to protect our communities.

And that's a delicate balance that requires the cooperation of many different partners, Department of Defense, Coast Guard, and others.

But, again, we want to make sure we're taking care of those people on the ship in a way that protects them, but also protects communities.

TAPPER: I understand you don't want to get into politics, but can you assure the American people that decisions are not being made just because the president wants to keep the numbers low, as opposed to helping Americans?

I mean, that's what he said directly. He doesn't want to bring them in because the number will double.

That's not a medical decision. That's a public relations decision.

ADAMS: Well, what I can say to you is, based on my experience being on the task force for about a week-and-a-half and being in that Situation Room every day, that the medical input is taken.

Tony Fauci, Ambassador Birx, Bob Kadlec, myself, Ben Carson, you have multiple doctors in the room. And our voices are in no way, shape or form suppressed. As a matter of fact, the vice president usually starts and ends by saying, Doctors, is there anything that I need to hear that I'm not hearing?

TAPPER: Can you tell us how many people have been tested in the United States?

ADAMS: The numbers are tough, because they're changing minute by minute.

But here's what people should know.

TAPPER: Give us a rough estimate?

ADAMS: Well, but here's what people should know about the testing.

They should know that we have 75,000 tests available right now for folks. By early next week, tomorrow, we should have over two million tests available, by the end of the week, through partnerships with private industry, over four million tests available.

But the most important number to the American people is one. They want to know, if I go in, can I get a test?

And the one thing that I have heard -- I have been to Georgia, I have been to Florida, I have been to Connecticut in the past week -- is that no public health doctor who has asked for a test has not been able to get a test.

So, people should talk to their health care providers. We -- we have been telling folks, if you and your health care provider talk, and your health care provider thinks you need a test, then you will get a test.

And we're rapidly ramping up capacity.

TAPPER: But you can't give me -- just a yes or no, you can't give me even a rough number of how many Americans have been tested? You don't know?


ADAMS: I would refer you to the CDCfor that because, again, the numbers change so rapidly. I don't want to give you a number.

TAPPER: They took it off the Web site, how many people have been tested, they removed it from the Web site.

ADAMS: Well, actually, I would direct you to the transcript from the conversation that FDA commissioner Steve Hahn had yesterday where he gave very specific numbers. An important thing for the American people to know, again, is talk to your health care provider. If your health care provider thinks you need a test, there has been no indication I've gotten from around the country that folks can't get them.

TAPPER: The FDA commissioner gave a number that was in the 5,000s but it was how many tests had been given, not how many people have been tested. We're still waiting for a number on that.

ADAMS: And expect millions more with the capability to be tested by the end of this week.

TAPPER: Millions more with the capability at the end of this week. All right. Doctor, thank you so much. Appreciate your time today. Appreciate it.

ADAMS: Thank you. Facts over fear, Jake.

TAPPER: I agree. I agree.

He's gone from underdog to frontrunner in just under a week. Can former Vice President Joe Biden keep that momentum going into Super Tuesday round two? That's next. Stay with us.




SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: I am supporting Joe because I believe that he is a man who has lived his life with great dignity. He is a public servant who has always worked for the best of who we are as a nation and we need that right now.


TAPPER: California Senator Kamala Harris now backing former Vice President Joe Biden for president. Let's discuss. Let me start with you, Alexandra Rojas, because you're with Justice Democrats and you guys have stayed out of it so far, saying that you like both Warren and Sanders, but now you have a pick.

ALEXANDRA ROJAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: Yes, that's true. We are endorsing Bernie Sanders for president of the United States. I think that he is the best candidate with the strongest contrast to be able to defeat Donald Trump and is the only one presenting a vision of the future with solutions that match the scale, scope, and urgency of the problems we're facing. And I think the fact that he has withstood an immense amount of pressure to fall in line, to stay quiet, to protect the status quo and compromise the lives of working people, he has not throughout his entire time in Congress and so we're really proud to continue on, I think, the movement that we started off in 2016 and that he's going to be heading in to defeat Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Bakari, you had supported Senator Harris. She's now with Biden. Have you made a pick?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Have I made a pick? That's interesting. I do believe that Kamala Harris' endorsement is huge and I do support Joe Biden as well. I don't think that's too much of a secret. It shouldn't be a secret anymore after this morning.

I think a lot of people were waiting to go see what Kamala Harris was going to do. But her relationship with Elizabeth Warren is something that's very well-noted. It's something that --

TAPPER: So, she was waiting until Warren had dropped out?

SELLERS: Yes, of course. I mean, not only is Elizabeth Warren one of her colleagues but she went to talk to Elizabeth Warren when she was running for United States Senate. She worked with Elizabeth Warren when she was attorney general taking on the banks.

And just to put this in perspective for the American people this morning black women are the reason that Joe Biden has this huge delegate lead and has and was able to win 10 out of 14 states on Super Tuesday. Her endorsement helps solidify that.

TAPPER: Jesse Jackson is supporting Bernie Sanders today, no surprise.

LINDA CHAVEZ, FORMER REAGAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No surprise there. And I don't know that that's going to help him. I think that the Kamala Harris' endorsement probably will help him. She may also be looking at a vice presidential possibility there. I'm not picking his running mate for him.

But the fact is Bernie Sanders I think is looking angrier even than he usually is. He's looking a little bit like a sore loser after Super Tuesday. I don't think it's a good look for him. I don't think it's a good look for anybody. And I am going to be watching Michigan very, very closely and see --

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me come to the unlikely defense of Bernie Sanders here in that in 2016, let me tell you the laundry list of people that supported Donald Trump. OK, there wasn't any.

So endorsements, right, are very nice but at the end of the day they really don't mean a ton. What means a ton is I think the momentum, winning begets winning in these things, as you know. And so that is much more important, the roll, the momentum that he's on. And everybody --

TAPPER: Momentum who's on, Biden or -- URBAN: Biden has got it. So the momentum he was the unlikely winner on Super Tuesday, everybody pronounced him dead, the media loves the narrative that dead, now alive. He's Lazarus. And so that is much more important than anybody's endorsement here.

I think that if Senator Sanders had a performance, a big performance this Super Tuesday, right, people would say, oh, the narrative --


SELLERS: There are two large differences and I think a lot of people are falling into this trap when contrasting what's happening now versus the Republican Party. Democrats actually learned a lot from 2016. So these endorsements mean that the Democratic Party is coalescing --


URBAN: Wait. You're running on the third term of Obama?

SELLERS: No, no, no. They are coalescing behind one --

TAPPER: He means in coalescing against --


SELLERS: Because what happened was -- because what happened was and Donald Trump was able to 30 percent his way to the primary. That isn't happening in this race.

ROJAS: Look, I think that in terms of being able to learn our lesson, I think we definitely need to put things into context. 2000, Al Gore. 2006, John Kerry. 2016, Hillary Clinton. What I would argue is that the Democratic Party leaders have not learned their lesson. They have -- no. I don't think --

TAPPER: Because they're nominating establishment --

ROJAS: Because you're going with the safe choice. I think Joe Biden right now represents what a lot of people -- we in the media see as the safe alternative to Donald Trump.

SELLERS: But with all due --

ROJAS: And I think that -- it's important that right now we draw the strongest possible contrast. And going into places like Michigan, it feels very reminiscent of 2016 --

URBAN: Exactly.

ROJAS: -- where there's a lot of people that voted for Obama twice but stayed at home in 2016. Those are young --


[09:40:01] ROJAS: And I think that Bernie Sanders makes a strong case here.

CHAVEZ: Well, I think actually Joe Biden is going to do very well in Michigan. I think there are a lot of working class and union members who are going to vote for Biden. And I think it is going to be tough.

TAPPER: Everyone stick around. We're going to keep talking about President Trump's comments raising questions about what exactly he's most concerned about with the coronavirus. Stick around, that's next.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect, right? This was the not as perfect as that, but pretty good.



TAPPER: President Trump saying that the coronavirus tests are as perfect as the transcript of his Ukraine call, which of course led to his impeachment. Let's discuss.

David, there's a lot --


URBAN: -- first. I (INAUDIBLE) the answer --

TAPPER: There's a lot of misinformation coming from the president. Shouldn't he just stick to the facts? Ukraine --


URBAN: I think the surgeon general does a great job. Dr. Fauci does a great job. The men and women of the public health service they've got this great team.

If I was the president, just let those guys speak. The president is trying to be the calmer in chief here and say, listen, people, stick to the facts, just wash your hands. I understand your --

TAPPER: He doesn't stick to the facts. He says things that aren't true.

URBAN: I would encourage the president to just let the folks push those guys out front, the surgeon general here is a very capable public health servant. And they're very smart. I think people need to calm down.

CHAVEZ: The problem is, David, you can say that if anybody wants a test they can get it, but then when people who are sick and coughing and hacking show up and can't get the test that word gets around. URBAN: Well, Linda, they just -- yes, they just (INAUDIBLE) out there --

CHAVEZ: He should in fact be calming the American public. I think we have to -- not overreact, but the worst thing to do if you want to keep people calm is to speak mistruths.

URBAN: The tests are out there now. The tests are out there now.

CHAVEZ: No, they're not.

URBAN: There's going to 4 million available this week.

CHAVEZ: They can't even test all the people from the cruise ship.

URBAN: OK. So then -- that's a condemnation then of -- not the president but of the public health service, the CDC.

SELLERS: That is the president.

URBAN: No. Come on.

ROJAS: The goal of the administration set was by Friday they were going to have a million test kits and we have at most been able to account for 1,800, if that.

URBAN: No, no --

ROJAS: And so I think one of the biggest scandals right now is that this is exposing the complete lack of --

URBAN: That's not true.

ROJAS: Yes, it is.


URBAN: Listen, did you watch --


URBAN: Hold on. Did you watch -- the FDA administrator did a press conference yesterday.

TAPPER: Hold on. Let Bakari go.

SELLERS: This is a public health crisis that we're in. So this doesn't need Republican talking points --

URBAN: Absolutely.

SELLERS: -- because all of us have elderly grandparents that we're worried about. I have an immunosuppressed daughter that it's -- is paralyzingly afraid. Should we travel? Should we not travel? Should we take her out? What should we do? And I'm just tired of the political BS. I wish that we had General Adams out there being at the forefront more often because he's more reassuring because I know he's not running for re-election. But what I don't want is when I'm trying to prepare for what I'm going to do with my daughter I don't want the president of the United States lying to me.

URBAN: And so what did general -- what did General Adams just say?

TAPPER: He said it was spreading. And --

URBAN: No. What did he say about the testing kits?

ROJAS: But that's the problem --


URBAN: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.

TAPPER: He said there's --


TAPPER: -- testing kits --


URBAN: How many are going to out this week?

TAPPER: I think he said like 4 million.

URBAN: Four million.


URBAN: Something like 4 million. Four million will be available this week --

CHAVEZ: But they told us there were going to be a million on Friday.

URBAN: Who is "they"? Who's "they," Linda?

TAPPER: The Trump administration.


URBAN: Where are they getting the information? From the FDA and the CDC --


SELLERS: -- asking all of these questions let me just pose a question to you and the rest of the American public. When we have this explosion in the number of positive cases this week, who's going to be the reassurer then? Because you know what's going to happen with more testing, we're going to have more positive -- (CROSSTALK)

URBAN: Absolutely. There's going to be (INAUDIBLE).

SELLERS: The number of people who are going to be diagnosed with coronavirus is going to explode. It's going to chaos. It's going to cause pandemonium. And we don't have any -- we don't have any --

TAPPER: It shouldn't -- no. We should caution that, it's we shouldn't. Alexandra --

ROJAS: Yes. I was just going to say, this is an unforced error by the president's part. Like he is contradicting the very health officials that are supposed to be at the forefront.

And, I mean, when Italy is literally shutting down, northern Italy, 16 million, a quarter of their population, to deal with this pandemic and the United States is not able to account for the number of tests that we have in the field, the contrast is stark. And so it makes sense that the American public is very, very concerned with the way that this administration is handling it.

CHAVEZ: The one good thing, when we have more people tested and more people show up, is that the fatality rate is probably going to go down because I think one of the reasons you're seeing that 2 percent is the denominator that we're using is a false denominator.

SELLERS: Because we do know that it's less than 1 percent of people who passed away from the flu so hopefully you're right about that.

TAPPER: Everyone stay healthy. Good to see you. Thank you so much.

URBAN: Wash your hands.

TAPPER: Wash your hands.

URBAN: Stay calm.

TAPPER: Everybody, wash your hands.

Coming up, how's President Trump's take on the coronavirus and how does it stacks up against the facts? That's next.



TAPPER: As the United States confronts the coronavirus crisis, President Trump continues to demonstrate he is not someone who can be relied upon for factual information. While irrational panic is to be avoided, the facts need to be clear and the public needs to be informed. However the president said this on February 27th about coronavirus cases.


TRUMP: We're going down not up. We're going very substantially down, not up.


TAPPER: That's not true. Cases have gone up. The virus is spreading.

And just as false, this week two White House officials publicly claimed the coronavirus has been contained. The coronavirus has not been contained. The number of states and counties affected continue to rise as does the number of confirmed cases and sadly deaths.

President Trump keeps suggesting that a vaccine could be ready in a matter of months, this despite the nation's top infectious disease expert and multiple pharmaceutical CEOs cautioning that it will be longer than that, it will be months before a vaccine will even be ready for testing and a year to 18 months before it is deployable. It is a seemingly never-ending cascade of lies. The president made this claim on Friday.


TRUMP: They have the tests and the tests are beautiful. Anybody that needs a test gets a test.


TAPPER: That's not true. It's false and directly contradicted by Vice President Pence who is leading the coronavirus response.



MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.


TAPPER: At a time like this, when the public needs accurate information so it can avoid panic and pursue caution, being able to believe what our leaders tell us is vital. But President Trump keeps diminishing the severity of the situation. What's driving it? Here's what President Trump said on Friday about keeping sick Americans on board a cruise ship off the coast of California.


TRUMP: I would rather because I like the numbers being where they are. I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault.


TAPPER: He likes the numbers where they are, even if that were to mean artificially keeping them lower by keeping sick Americans off the coast. The president's number one job is to protect American lives not to keep the numbers where they are.

At the CDC Friday, the president spoke of having a natural ability for science and medicine, except doctors swear by the Hippocratic Oath, first do no harm. And all of these lies are doing harm.

Fareed Zakaria sits down with Hillary Clinton next.