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State of the Union

Interview With Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-IL); Interview With Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE); Interview With Lara Trump. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired October 18, 2020 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Countdown. As millions of early voters weigh in, the two presidential candidates are set for one last debate.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the most important election of our lifetimes.


TAPPER: Is there still time to change the trajectory of the race? I'll speak with Trump campaign senior adviser Lara Trump and top Biden supporter Senator Chris Coons next.

And third wave? New coronavirus cases reach their highest level since July, as health experts warn, Americans must buckle down to fight the spread.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: It's on a trajectory of getting worse and worse.

TAPPER: What do you need to do to stay safe? I'll speak to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ahead.

Plus: Hail Mary. The president level smears and puts his own supporters' health at risk.

D. TRUMP: Frankly, you got to open your state up.

TAPPER: But now his lagging poll numbers are causing even some in his own party to object. What will America look like after November 3?

Fareed Zakaria joins me to discuss next.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is shaking our heads in disbelief.

There are just over two weeks until Election Day and President Trump seems to be attempting to make up for troubling numbers in the polls by spreading nastiness, disinformation and potentially, in his rallies, the coronavirus.

Saturday, the president held two rallies in the swing states of Wisconsin and Michigan, both without required social distancing or masks, choosing to spend his time lobbying insults, including attacks against the governor of Michigan, despite the domestic terrorist plot against her.

Overshadowing the president's efforts, the devastating reality that the coronavirus is far from defeated. It is instead surging again in the United States.

Friday, the U.S. recorded more than 70,000 new cases, the highest number in one day since July. And 10 states recorded their highest single-day case counts ever. Only two states across the country are trending in the right direction, Missouri and Vermont.

To date, the virus has infected more than eight million people in the U.S. and killed more than 219,000 Americans.

I want to note, in this critical time, we believe that it is important for you to hear from the Trump administration about their efforts to fight the virus. So, we requested members of the task force, including Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, the HHS secretary, the CDC director, the head of NIH, the head of the FDA, the president's doctor, or the chief of staff, the national security adviser, the White House communications director, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, the secretaries of state or Treasury or defense, and on.

The White House declined to make anyone from the Trump administration available to answer questions about the pandemic today.

Joining us now to talk about the campaign, for the president's campaign, senior adviser and the president's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump.

Lara, thanks so much for joining us.

Let's talk about some campaign activities.

President Trump said yesterday that Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer needed to lift coronavirus restrictions, and the crowd started chanting "Lock her up."

Take a listen.


AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!



AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!

D. TRUMP: Lock 'em all up. AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!

D. TRUMP: And then I guess they said she was threatened, right?


D. TRUMP: She was threatened. And she blamed me.


TAPPER: This comes of course, Lara, just 11 days after more than a dozen men were arrested in connection with a domestic terrorist plot to kidnap her.

Whitmer responded that this kind of rhetoric puts her life in danger and needs to stop.

Now, I understand he disagrees with her policies to contain the virus.

Why does he continue to use such heightened rhetoric at a time when her life was literally in danger, according to the FBI?

LARA TRUMP, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Well, thank goodness that she's OK.

And I want to say thank you, Jake, for having me on. You listed all the people you asked to be on. And here I am with you today.


L. TRUMP: But, look, it was the president's Department of Justice that actually thwarted this attack against Gretchen Whitmer.

No one should ever feel threatened. No one should ever have this sort of thing happen to them. This was awful to happen to her. Thank goodness for the Department of Justice that thwarted this attack.

But, look, people are frustrated around America. And I was just in Michigan last week. I can tell you, people there are telling me that their businesses are being run into the ground because they cannot survive this. They still feel like they are totally locked down.

And, at a certain point, Jake, I think people are saying, look, we live in the United States of America. We do have some freedoms. We want to get back to some normalcy.

So, people are very frustrated with that governor. It has nothing to do with this attack against her, this attempted attack against her. But I think you're hearing people's frustration play out there at the Trump rallies.


TAPPER: Right. And policy disagreements are one thing.

But, look, the governor's deputy digital director tweeted last night: "I am the governor's deputy digital director. I see everything that is said about and to her online. Every single time the president does this at a rally, the violent rhetoric towards her immediately escalates on social media. It has to stop. It just has to."

Don't you think that the president should tone it down when talking about people about whom there have been literally threats against their lives, in this very, very heightened time?

L. TRUMP: Well, gosh, I would like to show people my social media and the threats against me, the threats against my children, when you have members of the Democrat Party coming out and telling people, get in their face, go harass them.

I mean, this is not just on one side, Jake. So...

TAPPER: But Joe Biden isn't -- but Joe Biden isn't saying things like -- look, anything against you or your family or your children is horrible, detestable.

L. TRUMP: Yes.

TAPPER: And I condemn it right now.

And if there were any Democratic politicians that were throwing fuel on the fire, I would say, tone it down. Why aren't you toning it down?

But I don't look at threats based on what party are the recipients. My question is, shouldn't everybody just tone it down, including your dad -- your father-in-law?

L. TRUMP: Well, look, this is -- he wasn't doing anything, I don't think, to provoke people to threaten this woman at all. He was having fun at a Trump rally.

And, quite frankly, there are bigger issues than this right now for everyday Americans. People want to get the country reopened. They want to get back to work. Not only are we trying to make it through a pandemic, but think about all of the cancers that have gone unaddressed. Think about the kids that aren't in school who use school to get their one meal a day, Jake.

TAPPER: Sure, of course.

L. TRUMP: There are issues at hand here that are bigger than just keeping everybody locked down. So, I think people are frustrated.

And, look, the president was at a rally. It's a fun, light atmosphere. Of course, he wasn't encouraging people to threaten this woman. That's ridiculous.

TAPPER: Well, I don't think "Lock her up" is fun.

But let's move on.

Polls show President Trump is struggling among women voters, including white women. That's a group that he won in 2016. I want you to take a listen to these women voters that we talked to in

Michigan and Pennsylvania, some of whom voted for your father-in-law in 2016. Take a listen.


DENISE HARDAWAY, BIDEN VOTER: He has been denying the whole science behind coronavirus. And so I hope this is a wakeup call for him.

JULIE BRADY, FORMER TRUMP SUPPORTER: The COVID pandemic, the way he handled it, that was the absolute last straw for me.

HOLLIE GEITNER, FORMER TRUMP SUPPORTER: I feel like he's added fuel to the flames of hatred. And that really bothers me.


TAPPER: You have campaigned at several events for Women for Trump. How do you respond to these women? They are reflecting the views of millions of women whose votes are up for grabs. And they have serious concerns about how the president has handled the coronavirus pandemic.

L. TRUMP: Well, let me just start by saying, don't forget that it was President Trump who, in January, shut down travel coming to the United States from China. He shut down travel from Europe.

Thank goodness we didn't have Joe Biden in the White House, because he called it xenophobic.

TAPPER: No, he didn't.

L. TRUMP: We know that he would have been very soft; he would have been politically correct.

That would have never happened.

Absolutely, he did, Jake.

TAPPER: No, he didn't.

L. TRUMP: He said it in a tweet. He called it xenophobic and fearmongering. You can look it up.


TAPPER: He referred to the president -- I have looked it up.

L. TRUMP: But that's OK.

TAPPER: He referred to the president's long history of xenophobia and racism. He did not call the partial travel bans from China and Europe...


L. TRUMP: Regardless, you think politically correct, soft Joe Biden would have shut down travel to China, especially now, when we know it's been very lucrative for Joe Biden and his family, China?

TAPPER: I don't know what that means. I don't know what that means.

L. TRUMP: This president has done everything every step of the way.

It was a novel virus that we had never seen before. We had to create testing. We had to make sure that not only were people safe and healthy physically, but this president put forward for the Paycheck Protection Program. He has fast-tracked a vaccine. We have therapeutics that the president, the president himself, has proven by using them and coming over COVID.

He's done with COVID now, and they work.

So, look, I understand the frustration of people out there. We're all very frustrated. But, at the onset of this, the experts and the scientists said we could have upwards of two million deaths.

Now, one death is too many.

TAPPER: If we did nothing. If we did nothing. That's right.

L. TRUMP: Our hearts go out to every single person out there who has had to deal with this.

But the president has done, actually, an incredible job, Jake, with the coronavirus.

TAPPER: That's not what the American people think. That's not what the American...

L. TRUMP: I mean, thank goodness Joe Biden wasn't in there.

The 2009 swine flu, it took six months for the Biden/Obama administration to call it a national emergency. They depleted the stockpile of N95 masks...

TAPPER: I mean, these are just talking points.

L. TRUMP: ... leaving us in a very bad spot.


L. TRUMP: It is not. They're facts. I'm sorry. They're facts.

But the reality is, I go out there every day and I talk to women.


TAPPER: There are more than 220,000 dead Americans, Lara. There's -- there's literally no objective health expert who thinks that the president has done a good job with this pandemic.


L. TRUMP: Well, that's not true. TAPPER: We have the highest death rate in the entire world.

L. TRUMP: But here's what I'll tell you, Jake. Here's what I'll tell you.

We are coming out of it. We're seeing the death rate decrease dramatically.


L. TRUMP: We also have a huge population. Whenever you want to compare us to Canada, compare us to Europe. We're doing actually much better than Europe is...

TAPPER: No, we're not.

L. TRUMP: ... not only with the virus, but financially.

We are. These are numbers. You can go look them.

TAPPER: I have.

L. TRUMP: The bottom line here is that women in America want their kids to get back to school safely. They want to reopen. They want to know our economy...


TAPPER: Why do you think the president is doing so poorly with suburban women?

L. TRUMP: This is what I hear about.

He's not doing poorly. You guys tried this talking point in 2016. You tried to convince people that women...

TAPPER: He's down 27 points in a recent poll.

L. TRUMP: ... women were -- were going to vote for Hillary Clinton because she was a woman.

And we know that women came out, and they supported Donald Trump in a very big way.

TAPPER: Women...

L. TRUMP: They're not talking to people out there. We know the polls, Jake, are very wrong when it comes to women and Donald Trump.


TAPPER: Lara, women voters -- women voters voted, the majority of them, for Hillary Clinton.

Now, white women voters, a majority of them voted for Donald Trump. And it's so odd to me... L. TRUMP: But you just asked me about white women, is what you just

asked me about.

TAPPER: It's so odd to me -- well, you just said women -- well, you said women voters were going to support Hillary Clinton, but they actually voted for Trump.

It's so strange to me, every time Donald Trump, President Trump, talks about how women voters went for him, it's as if he's only interested in white women voters, because women voters, in their totality, went for Hillary Clinton, as a factual matter.


Well, here's the bottom line. Look, we are out canvassing the entire country. I'm on the road. My husband, obviously the president, vice president, my brother-in-law, my sister-in-law, we interface with people every single day.

TAPPER: Are you wearing masks?

L. TRUMP: And what I hear on a daily basis -- we are wearing masks when it's required, when we're indoors, absolutely.

And you will note that, at our rallies, we hand out masks to people. We ask them to wear them. There are signs up that say, please wear your mask. We provide hand sanitizer. These are all outdoor events, as you probably know.

TAPPER: I mean, we see -- we all see -- we see the rallies, Lara, and most people at the rallies are not wearing masks.

L. TRUMP: But, Jake, is this really what you think people want to talk about right now?

This is not what people care about in the United States of America, us going back and forth and talking about the percentage of women voting for Donald Trump.

People want to know they can get through this pandemic, we can come out on the other side...

TAPPER: Right. But...

L. TRUMP: ... and that they have a president in the White House who's going to work for them.

TAPPER: Got it.

L. TRUMP: Donald Trump rebuilt the economy once. He is going to do it again.

He is the man that is going to be able to get us out of this.

TAPPER: I understand...

L. TRUMP: Joe Biden, with the socialist policies...

TAPPER: He's not a socialist.

L. TRUMP: ... he's trying to implement, would absolutely ruin America.

TAPPER: He's -- they're not social policies.

Lara, let me ask you a question. Let me just ask you some questions where we can get direct answers.

L. TRUMP: Sure.

TAPPER: President Trump gave four different answers in about 60 seconds, four different answers on whether or not he had tested for coronavirus before the first debate. You were at the first debate.

Yes or no, did President Trump test negative within 72 hours of that first debate, as was required by the debate rules?

L. TRUMP: I assume the answer is yes. I was not physically there with him. And I work for the campaign, not in the White House.

TAPPER: So, you don't know? OK.

L. TRUMP: So, I don't -- I -- I'm giving you my honest answer. I do not know.


L. TRUMP: But I assume the answer is that he tested negative.

TAPPER: But you don't know for a...

L. TRUMP: I don't see why the...

TAPPER: You don't know for a fact.

L. TRUMP: Jake, well, why would the president knowingly test positive and go to a debate?

TAPPER: I didn't say he did.

L. TRUMP: That's a ridiculous question.

TAPPER: I'm just trying to -- we have been trying to get straight answer for weeks as to when he last tested...


TAPPER: ... negative.

L. TRUMP: Well, the -- and the answer is, he tested negative.

TAPPER: And we haven't gotten an answer.

L. TRUMP: I'm sure it is.

TAPPER: OK. But you don't know.


TAPPER: So, here's the question. You're not giving a direct answer. You don't know. I'll take you at your word.

So, here's the question. Does the president promise to release a negative test before he goes on stage with Joe Biden on Thursday, so that we can all see it?

L. TRUMP: Again, I -- I don't work in the White House.

TAPPER: No, you work for the campaign.

L. TRUMP: You will have to ask the president that directly.

He just had COVID. He has now been cleared of COVID, so that means he's had a negative test. I'm sure he will have another one before he goes to this debate.

TAPPER: So, you took your mask off when you were sitting in the audience of the first debate, which was a violation of rules from the Debate Commission and the Cleveland Clinic.

Are you going to wear a mask at the debate on Thursday?

L. TRUMP: If we're asked to wear masks, we will absolutely do so.

And I just want to be clear. We thought that we were following the rules. We walked in with masks on. We were socially distanced sitting down. We never once moved from those seats. And we took our masks off there. That's the same thing that happens in restaurants.

We had all tested negative in the audience there. So, I want to be very clear on that.

TAPPER: I want to ask you a question about the fact that former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has told friends about President Trump -- quote -- "The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me, the dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it's more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life" -- unquote.

How do you explain why so many senior-level people who have worked with President Trump have concluded that he's unfit for office?

L. TRUMP: Well, I would like John Kelly to explain why he continued to work for a president, if that's exactly how he felt, in so many different positions for so long, quite frankly.

We know that people get out of the White House and they get very lucrative book offers. They get speaking engagements, where they're paid a lot of money, Jake, to go out and say very negative things about this president. [09:15:08]

TAPPER: But that's not the case with Kelly here.

L. TRUMP: Very easy to do.

TAPPER: That's not the case with Kelly here.

L. TRUMP: But I think bottom line is -- well, regardless, he worked for this president for quite some time. And if he felt that strongly about it, he had a lot of different opportunities to leave.

And what I'll tell you is, this president doesn't pay attention to that nonsense. He gets in there. He works for the American people every single day.

I can tell you that he is attacked every single day. You guys know it. He puts his head down, he works, and he gets things done. That is why we saw the greatest economy in the world leading up to the artificial interruption of COVID from this president, the lowest...

TAPPER: What do you mean an artificial...

L. TRUMP: ... unemployment numbers in the history of America.

TAPPER: I don't know what -- I don't know what that means, an artificial interruption. The pandemic hit.

L. TRUMP: Meaning we would never be in this place were it not for a global pandemic that no one saw coming, that no one predicted...

TAPPER: Right.

L. TRUMP: ... that was an unseen virus we had never seen before. That's what I mean.

TAPPER: OK, I want to ask you a couple things about things that you have you have done on the campaign trail.

Joe Biden, as we all know, has worked to overcome a stutter. And one of the speakers at the Democratic Convention was a young boy who the vice president inspired named Brayden Harrington. Take a listen.


BRAYDEN HARRINGTON, INSPIRED BY JOE BIDEN: It was really amazing to hear that someone like me became vice president.


TAPPER: Brayden Harrington, a very brave young boy.

You made this comment earlier in the campaign about Joe Biden. Let's take a listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) L. TRUMP: Every time he comes on stage, and they turn to him, I'm like, Joe, can you get it out? Let's get the words out, Joe. You kind of feel bad for him.


TAPPER: How do you think it makes a little kids with stutters feel when they see you make a comment like that?

L. TRUMP: First and foremost, I had no idea that Joe Biden ever suffered from a stutter.

I think what we see on stage with Joe Biden, Jake, is very clearly a cognitive decline.


L. TRUMP: That's what I'm referring to. It makes me uncomfortable to watch somebody on stage search for questions.

TAPPER: You have no -- you have -- I can't -- it's so amazing -- it's amazing to me that...

L. TRUMP: ... and try and figure out an answer.

TAPPER: A cognitive decline. You ...

L. TRUMP: Well, when you're trying to tell me that what I was suggesting was stuttering...

TAPPER: I think that you were mocking his stutter.

L. TRUMP: ... I had no idea Joe Biden...

TAPPER: Yes, I think you were mocking his stutter.

L. TRUMP: Of course I wasn't, Jake. Wow.

TAPPER: And I think you have absolutely no standing to diagnose somebody's cognitive decline, especially...

L. TRUMP: I'm not diagnosing. I'm saying that we see the Joe Biden of today is not the Joe Biden of five years ago, of 10 years ago.

TAPPER: I would think that somebody in the Trump family would be more sensitive to people who do not have medical licenses diagnosing politicians from afar.

Plenty of people have diagnosed your father from afar. And I'm sure it offends you -- your father-in-law from afar. I'm sure it offends you. You don't have any standing to say...

L. TRUMP: I'm not diagnosing him.

What I'm saying, Jake...

TAPPER: You just talked about a cognitive decline.

L. TRUMP: ... is that we can clearly see that Joe Biden is struggling...

TAPPER: I have one last question for you, Lara.

You campaigned...

L. TRUMP: ... at many times on stage. And it's very concerning to a lot of people that this could be the leader of the free world.


L. TRUMP: That is all I'm saying.

TAPPER: Thank you, Lara Trump.

L. TRUMP: I genuinely feel sorry for Joe Biden.


TAPPER: I appreciate it.

I'm sure it was from a place of concern. We all -- we all believe that.

Lara Trump, thank you so much.

Coronavirus cases are back on the rise. How much more careful do you need to be -- coming up?

And, in 2020, life comes at you fast. In just over two weeks, we could have a new president-elect and a new Supreme Court justice. Just how likely is that to happen?

That's next.



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

Judge Amy Coney Barrett appears to be on something of a glide path to the U.S. Supreme Court, with Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee all but certainly vote this week to send her nomination to the full Senate for a vote ahead of the election.

Now Democratic nominee Joe Biden says seeing how that process plays out could determine whether he will consider supporting a push to add more justices to the court next year if he wins.

Joining me now, a close friend of Biden's, Democratic Senator Chris Coons, also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Coons, thanks for joining us. We have a lot to get to. But, first, I just want to get your reaction

to what you heard from the president's senior adviser, Lara Trump, especially when she said, even though obviously she's not qualified to diagnose such a thing, that the vice president, Biden, suffers from a cognitive decline.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Thanks for a chance to be on, Jake.

That was just a remarkable statement by Lara Trump, obviously unfounded, inappropriate.

What I also found particularly troubling, when you pressed her about the Michigan rally at which President Trump was encouraging folks to chant "Lock her up" in response to Governor Whitmer being threatened by more than a dozen folks who've now been arrested by the FBI, domestic terrorists who were threatening to kidnap her and potentially kill her, her comment was, he was just having fun.

If that means that, for a president, fun is fueling division and encouraging folks to say and do things that are threatening and completely inappropriate, well, that's a reminder of what kind of president we currently have, in sharp contrast to Joe Biden, someone who can and will bring our country together.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the campaign.

In a memo to supporters yesterday, Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon warned that the race is closer than polling suggests and that -- quote -- "We cannot become complacent, because the very searing truth is that Donald Trump can still win this race, and every indication we have shows that this thing is going to come down to the wire."

So she's warning that people shouldn't be complacent. President Trump visited two swing states yesterday. He's in a third today. I get you don't like what he's saying, but if the Biden campaign is so worried about complacency, where was Joe Biden yesterday? He had a whole day without any public events with less than three weeks to go.

COONS: Well, Jake, Joe Biden takes no votes for granted.

As you know, both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have crisscrossed the country, campaigning in critical, decisive swing states.

TAPPER: Not the way that President Trump is saying.


COONS: And I, frankly, think we can't take -- President Trump is campaigning in an unsafe way that doesn't follow the directions of public health experts.

Joe Biden has continued to be engaged and effective in laying out a clear plan for how he's going to get us out of this pandemic and the recession that President Trump's bungled mishandling of the pandemic has made worse than it ever needed to be. TAPPER: OK.

Look, I take your point on the unsafe rallies that the president's having. But Joe Biden didn't have any events yesterday. I'm not saying he should be having unsafe events. But why is he taking a day off with less than three weeks to go before the election?

COONS: Jake, Joe Biden has campaigned tirelessly, but he has campaigned safely.

And, as you saw, this past week, during the national town halls that both of them held, it is a sharp contrast between President Trump, who's frenzied, who continues to lie just incessantly morning, noon and night, and President -- excuse me -- former Vice President Biden, who is laying out a clear and compelling plan.

Polling is showing that it's making a difference, particularly with suburban women.

But I agree with you that we shouldn't take anything for granted in these last few weeks, and it is still possible for President Trump to win reelection. That's why I say, don't focus on the national polls. Focus on getting out and voting.

TAPPER: I would just say that I think it's pretty much the opposite of the word tireless to take a day off.

But let's move on.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to vote on Judge Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Take a listen to what the top Democrat on that committee, Dianne Feinstein, had to say about this week's hearing.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Mr. Chairman, I just want to thank you.

This has been one of the best set of hearings that I have participated in. And I want to thank you for your fairness and the opportunity of going back and forth.


TAPPER: And then, afterwards, she gave him a big hug.

California Congresswoman Katie Porter said that she disagree strongly with Feinstein. Groups like NARAL, Demand Justice have called for her to be replaced as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.

Should Dianne Feinstein be replaced as the Democratic leader on that committee?

COONS: Well, Jake, across the four days of hearings, Senator Feinstein was clear in her opposition to Judge Barrett, and she has a long record of fighting for reproductive rights, for gender equity, as did Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I think she carried the torch well for those of us on the Democratic side who were fighting this nomination. And I don't think we should put too much weight on just a few sentences at the end of four long days, where she was being gracious to the chairman.

She and I and all the Democrats on the committee are angry at Chairman Graham for racing through this partisan confirmation process.


COONS: Unprecedented for us to have the Senate hearing a confirmation just two weeks, a little more than two weeks, before a presidential election.

TAPPER: So, that's a no, she shouldn't be replaced.

If Barrett is confirmed, and Democrats win back the Senate, would you vote to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court if it came up for a vote? Is that something you would be in favor of?

COONS: Well, Jake, like Joe Biden, I'm not a fan of expanding the court.

But we have a few weeks here to see whether there are four Republicans who will step back from this precipice. It is President Trump who has pressed for this nominee, so he can have a key vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic.

It is the Republican majority that's responsible for racing forward with this extreme unqualified nominee, unqualified because of her extreme judicial philosophy. And that's who should be bearing the brunt at the ballot box in this election, that they're doing this to get someone on the court just in time, a week after the election...

TAPPER: Right.

COONS: ... to take away critical health care protections from a majority of Americans.

We need to focus on that.

TAPPER: So, you oppose...

COONS: And then, if we happen to be in the fact pattern where we have a President Biden...


COONS: ... we will have to look at what the right steps are to rebalance our federal judiciary.

TAPPER: So, your mind is open about adding justices to the Supreme Court, yes or no? Just your mind is open?

COONS: Yes. TAPPER: Your mind is open. OK.

Let's talk about coronavirus relief negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to put forward a $500 billion relief bill. You have called it a political stunt.

The fact is that nearly 900,000 Americans filed for jobless claims last week, the highest level since August. There is no other deal in sight between the White House and Congress. Why not vote for this, at least as a stopgap effort, so that some Americans have more money, so that they don't fall into poverty?

COONS: That is a great question Jake.

And, frankly, no one would like to see us do another round of PPP loans and grants than me. Democrats have been trying for months, since the Democratic majority in the House passed and sent over to the Senate a broad, appropriately broad relief bill that would deal with everything, from rent and mortgage payments, to nutrition, to another round of unemployment support, to assistance for state and local governments, to also expanding the PPP program.


But to do this at the last moment, and where we haven't seen Majority Leader McConnell's text. so it probably includes a get-out-of-jail- free card for every employer in the country, regardless of whether they have been reckless or responsible.

That was the piece of the last bill, the only bill that he's put on the floor in months...


COONS: ... that made it difficult for any Democrat to support it.

We have to see what he brings to the floor. But Democrats have worked on this for months. Mitch McConnell hasn't even been part of the negotiations.

TAPPER: All right, Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, thanks so much for your time today. We appreciate it.

Is it safe for your child to trick or treat or return to school? What about seeing family for Thanksgiving?

I will ask the governor of a state facing rising coronavirus cases next.



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

It is the last thing anyone wants to hear, but coronavirus cases in the U.S. are going in the wrong direction.

Let's take Illinois, which broke two of their own records this week for the highest number of cases recorded in a single day, with coronavirus deaths in the state at their highest level since this June.

Joining me now, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.

Governor Pritzker, President Trump had some thoughts about you at his rally last night across the border in Wisconsin. Take a listen.


D. TRUMP: I'll tell you what.

Illinois could use a new governor.


TRUMP: That guy doesn't know what's happening. They got to open up that state. They got open up that state.

You watch what happens. On November 4, they will all say, all right, now everybody -- they're only doing this for politics. I really believe that.


TAPPER: You heard a similar argument from the president's daughter- in-law, Lara Trump, earlier on the show, that people are frustrated; they want the state to open up.

What's your response?

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): Well, frankly, the president has made it nearly impossible for states to open up any more than they are now.

We have the -- this pandemic has been around now for seven to eight months. And without much help from the federal government, we have been fighting it off. Illinois has one of the lowest positivity rates among the Midwest, but we're bordered by Wisconsin, where he was speaking, which has a 27 percent positivity rate. Ours is about a fourth of that.

We're bordered by Iowa. We're bordered by Indiana. All three of those are in the top seven or eight states for positivity rates. So, it is dangerous right now.

We want people to wear masks. We want people to socially distance. We need to make sure that we have certain mitigations in place. And, of course, we have already opened up much of our economy. But we have to maintain certain capacity limits and make sure that our people are safe and healthy.

TAPPER: All right, now in the interest of fairness, let's talk about a couple things that President Trump and his administration have done well.

They have been able to help with ventilators. Operation Warp Speed to find a vaccine has been going well. There is this hunt that's been going well with therapeutics. So, it's not that everything has been going wrong.

But, obviously, there are issues you have with the Trump administration, and specifically President Trump.

What is he doing to -- that makes it more difficult for you to do your job, given that I just told you -- I just told the viewers some things that he's doing to make it easier?

PRITZKER: Well, you just saw one of them, which is, he's modeling bad behavior. He doesn't wear a mask in public. He has rallies where they don't encourage people to wear masks in public.

Truly, this is now rhetoric that people understand, and particularly in rural areas in my state, that, well, the president doesn't wear a mask, we don't need to wear a mask, it's not that dangerous.

The truth of the matter is that it is very dangerous. And even if there are therapeutics that are coming online that are helping people, our hospitalizations are going up. People are having long-hauler syndrome once they're out of the hospital, even if they survive.

And, of course, as you just said, our death rate is increasing. We're now headed into a new wave of coronavirus all over the country. And it's very, very dangerous.

TAPPER: Yes. On Friday, your state reported more than 4,500 new cases, breaking its single-day case record.

By every measure, frankly, Illinois appears headed in the wrong direction. Why? What's going wrong in your state?

PRITZKER: Well, I don't think it's so much that things are going wrong specifically in our state.

I mean, we are having a national wave of coronavirus.

TAPPER: Right.

PRITZKER: But I will say to you that we also are the third highest testing state in the country. So, when you see the case numbers, it is because we're testing much more.

Still, our positivity rate, which is going up, is far below most other states.

TAPPER: OK, but why?

PRITZKER: And we're proud of that fact. But -- yes.

TAPPER: You agree that you're going in the wrong -- you agree you're going in the wrong direction. Why is that? PRITZKER: I do.

And that's because people are not following the mitigations, because the modeling is so bad at the leadership level at the federal level. We are trying to get the word out. We're trying to continue to convince people to do the right thing.

But it is the president's allies in our state, all across the state, who are simply saying to people, don't pay any attention to the mitigations, don't follow the rules. Indeed, there are bars and restaurants which are restricted from expanding their indoor service that are just ignoring the rules, and they're just filling the place up.

And when people stop by, and they see that, well, no one else is wearing a mask, maybe that's OK.


PRITZKER: It's not OK.

TAPPER: Illinois is currently in phase four of your recovery plan. That means -- quote -- "There is a continued decline in the rate of infection in new COVID cases."

That's not true, frankly, anymore in any of the 11 regions of your state. They're all seeing cases rise. Are you going to roll back to an earlier phase and reimpose further restrictions?


PRITZKER: Well, we have already done that.

We have resurgence mitigations, as we call them, on a regional basis. When regions have rising hospitalizations, rising cases, that's one area where we will increase mitigations.

The other is passing an 8 percent positivity rate, which, of course, is very, very high. In either of those circumstances, we impose additional mitigations on a regional basis.

On a statewide basis, we haven't looked at increasing mitigations. But, as regions flip over and need these resurgence mitigations more and more, we may end up in a situation where a majority of our regions, or even all of them, are in these resurgences.

TAPPER: You have warned residents of your state that the virus is not taking a holiday.

What's your message to Illinois residents on the fence about whether or not it's safe for them to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families? As you know, there's a lot of emotional and psychological stress that has come from this pandemic, as well as physically ailing, health issues.

PRITZKER: That's certainly true for everyone. Let me just say that our public health professionals have recommended

that people find ways to gather virtually, continue to gather virtually. We're heading into multiple holidays. And we know that people want to get together, and we know that there's some fatigue out there.

But the reality is that this virus hasn't gone away. We do need to continue to keep ourselves safe from it. And that means that, if you can gather virtually, I urge you, please do that.

To the extent that you decide you want to get together with certain of your relatives or friends, please keep distance, wear a mask. Even Halloween, whether you're wearing a mask for Halloween, wear a surgical mask underneath that. Make sure that you're maintaining some distance. Wait for other kids and parents to go through the line at somebody's house to get candy before you go.

We just have to be extra careful. And especially as we get into colder weather now...

TAPPER: Right.

PRITZKER: ... we have got to keep the virus numbers down.

TAPPER: Governor Pritzker, Speaker Pelosi just said on another network that they have effectively -- they have to reach a deal in the next 48 hours if they want to pass some sort of stimulus, some sort of relief bill before the election, but that she, the White House, and Senate Republicans are still far apart on an acceptable price tag.

Is it fair to say that anything, including Majority Leader McConnell's bill, in your view, would be better than nothing? Would $500 billion be better than nothing?

PRITZKER: Well, certainly, that's true.

But let's also realize that Speaker Pelosi is negotiating on two fronts. One is with the White House's representative. And that's Mnuchin. And the other is with McConnell in the Senate.

And the reality is, they need to get together on whatever they're going to agree upon, and then come to the table with Speaker Pelosi.

But, yes, it is true that people, average working people out here, need help.

TAPPER: All right, Governor Pritzker, thank you so much for your time today. We appreciate it.

And our thoughts are with the people of Illinois.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to State of the Union. I'm Jake Tapper. Since December almost 40 million people across the world have been

infected with the coronavirus and more than 1 million are dead. The end of this still feels a long way away. But how will the world be different when the pandemic finally passes?

Joining me to talk about that, the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS, Fareed Zakaria; whose new book is "Ten Lessons For A Post-Pandemic World." It's a great read. I advise all of you to get a copy. Fareed, thanks for joining us.

The United States 4% of the world's population, about right around 20% of the world's deaths, according to official numbers, despite having some of the preeminent public health agencies in the world, the CDC, the NIH, many other democracies have seen far fewer cases, far fewer deaths.

One of the lessons in your book is, quote, "What matters is not the quantity of government, but the quality." But how does that explain what every impartial health expert would call an inadequate response to the virus here in the U.S.?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: Thanks, Jake. It's a great question.

So if you look around, as you say, a lot of democracies have done much better than the United States. So it's not a question of having some kind of draconian state powers.

You look at a country like South Korea, 50 million people, 440 deaths. So 50 million you multiply it by 6, you still get 2,400 deaths there -- 220,000 deaths in the United States. What did they do?

I was listening to your fascinating conversation earlier. The issue, as President Trump keeps talking about, is lockdown versus open up. That's not it. We did a lockdown. The question is once you do a lockdown do you put in place a national testing and, most important, tracing and isolation system? You have to quarantine in some way the people who are infected.

We're doing none of this. We have one of the worst testing systems of any advanced democracy. Now, that gets to the core of the issue. It's not how much you spend, it's whether you have respected institutions, whether you give government respect, whether you give the technocrats respect, whether there is social trust. And on all those fronts, countries like South Korea, New Zealand, Germany have done much better than we have.

TAPPER: On that point, the CDC offered to the White House to help them contact trace after that super spreader event they had in the Rose Garden. The White House said no. Chris Christie who was infected and actually was in the intensive care unit for several days -- we're so glad he is feeling better -- says that no one at the White House called him to contact trace.

So I guess you're saying like you need to embrace the good government you have in your grasp and not shun it? ZAKARIA: Absolutely. And people need to understand how easy this is.

So Taiwan, which gets the gold medal really for this stuff, they took 1% of their population, 250,000 people, who were infected or who had had contact with people infected and they asked them to quarantine themselves for 14 days. That allowed the other 99% of the population to have completely normal lives. They never did a lockdown.

So the key here is being smart (ph) -- and the tragedy here, Jake, is it's our technology. It's our software. It's our tech companies. And the guy who ran the Taiwan program is a Johns Hopkins trained epidemiologist.


TAPPER: Yes, of course.

ZAKARIA: We can't get this right.

TAPPER: We've had to look back 100 years to find the most recent major pandemic in the U.S. One hundred years from now when the world looks back on this pandemic, how will it have changed the world? What will the legacy of this pandemic be, do you think?

ZAKARIA: Well, I think it's going to be huge. It's really the seismic event in our lives. It has touched every person in the world in some way or other.

The biggest long-term trends are probably the rise of a digital economy that has now completely taken over. So if you look at something like telemedicine, it used to be very difficult to get people to go to their doctors online. We will have, by the end of 2020, 1 billion visits online with medicine (ph). And that will transform medicine.

I think you are going to see a transformation in the international sphere where you are seeing nations much more concerned about onshoring and things like that and potentially a rivalry between the United States and China as a consequence.

TAPPER: And Fareed, China has become a central theme of the 2020 campaign. You ask in your book, quote, "Looking back, will future generations say that the most profound consequence of COVID-19 was the start of the second cold war?"

We only have about a minute What's the answer?

ZAKARIA: I think the key is we have the choice. Do we really want to go down that path? It's a very dark path. Competition, arms race, arms races in space, cyber-attacks. Or do we try to find a way to cooperate? We have a choice and that choice will matter on November 3rd because there's a difference between the two candidates.

TAPPER: All right. Fareed Zakaria, the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS and the book is called "Ten Lessons For A Post-Pandemic World." Pick it up now, it's a fantastic read. Thanks so much, Fareed. ZAKARIA: Pleasure, Jake.

TAPPER: President Trump sent out a declaration announcing that today is the beginning of National Character Counts Week. This week the president declared, quote, "Every opportunity to show consideration for another person is also an opportunity to build habits of kindness and strengthen our character. We recommit," the president said, "to being more kind, loving, understanding, and virtuous."

It's an interesting message for this president, especially when you compare his words to his deeds. The president proclaimed that character is, quote, "exemplified every day by the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who risk their lives to defend the cherished blessings of liberty we hold dear."

Yes. Yes. Such a true statement from a man who just days ago spread vial and deranged lies that Obama and Biden may have had SEAL Team Six killed to cover up the fact that they didn't really kill Bin Laden.

Here is the response from Rob O'Neill, one of the heroes from that mission.


ROB O'NEILL, FORMER NAVY SEAL & OSAMA BIN LADEN RAID VETERAN: It's an insult to real people who -- because they bring in another event (ph) from part of our brothers at SEAL Team Six but they were Gold Squad and they were shot down in August.

But just by doing this stuff on the Internet and making such light of something like this, you're really trampling on graves of some of the best heroes I've ever personally worked with.


TAPPER: President Trump said in his proclamation that, quote, "The foundation of any free and virtuous society is the moral character of its people," and he heralded personal responsibility and integrity from small acts of kindness to supreme selfless sacrifice.

Character, he said, has "never been needed more than in recent months as we have battled the coronavirus pandemic." Very true, sir.

And he said this as the pandemic continues to rage out of control infecting more than 8 million and killing nearly 220,000 Americans to date, and while he continues to hold rallies. No distancing. No masks required.

It is a matter of fact that Americans have contracted the virus at his rallies. From his return to the campaign trail on Tulsa to his Rose Garden event last month to events in Minnesota and beyond. But he needs to hear the roar of the crowd.

What do health experts think of these rallies? I asked a number of them this week.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: Purely in the context of public health, we know that that is asking for trouble.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You (ph) put people together for long periods of time, longer than 15 minutes, closely clustered, maskless, that's the -- those are the ingredients for a super-spreader event.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: It's as though they have no understanding of what's in store for the American people.


TAPPER: The president noted that, quote, "character is a learned attribute acquired through consistent, purposeful action, not an inherent trait."

So much of this is just dead on. Character is something we learn from the examples set by others. The president is right.

Here's Georgia Senator David Perdue referring to his colleague Senator Kamala Harries at a Trump rally over the weekend.



SENATOR DAVID PERDUE, (R-GA): Sen. Kamala -- or Kamala -- or Kamala -- Kamala-mala-mala (ph), I don't know. Whatever.


TAPPER: So much of what the president said in his proclamation about National Character Counts Week is just so right. "We must resolve," he said, "to build lives and communities grounded in moral clarity in order to strengthen ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nation."

He's right. We do. Character does count. Character counts not only this week, but also the next week and the one after that, which happens to contain Election Day.

Character counts. Thanks for the reminder, Mr. President.

Join me tonight for a new warning from some of the people who know the president best. The Insiders, A Warning From Former Trump Officials airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. and midnight Eastern.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. The news continues next.