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State of the Union

Interview With Georgia Senatorial Candidate Raphael Warnock; Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Interview With Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH); Interview With National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired November 15, 2020 - 09:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Winter is coming. COVID cases reach record highs across the country, with health experts warning, the worst is yet to come.



TAPPER: With the Trump administration blocking access to the transition, can the country stop the spread? I'll special exclusive to Dr. Anthony Fauci and the governor of hard-hit Ohio, Mike DeWine, next.

And seat at the table? President-elect Biden not waiting for outgoing President Trump to concede the election, looking ahead to who will make up his administration.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): If I had a portfolio that allowed me to stand up and fight for working families, would I do it? Yes, I would.

TAPPER: What will a Biden Cabinet look like? Former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders joins me to discuss next.

Plus: Georgia on the mind. The intense overtime fight in the intense overtime fight in the state that just flipped blue and will now decide control of the Senate.

REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Georgians deserve better than this.

TAPPER: Can Democrats pull off another shocker?

I will speak to Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Reverend Raphael Warnock ahead.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is in a dangerous place. There is no denying it. The coronavirus is surging across the United

States. New cases have now topped 100,000 for 12 days in a row. On Friday, the U.S. saw the highest daily count since the pandemic began, with more than 184,000 new cases on that one day. Deaths are also rising, an average of more than 1,000 deaths a day for the last four days. The virus has already killed more than 245,000 Americans, with a critical model warning that another 200,000 Americans could die by March because of the virus.

The country did receive some good news this week, great news, really, about the potential for a highly effective vaccine but nothing has yet been approved. And experts worry that the worst will come before the vaccine is widely available.

Making this moment even more potentially perilous, the president of the United States, who this morning tweeted -- quote -- "He won because the election was rigged."

And then he listed a bunch of conspiracy theories and lies and non sequiturs.

The president is still refusing to allow the Biden transition to begin, even in critical areas such as national security or the fight against COVID-19. Instead, the president is spreading disinformation, and he is playing golf, and he is cheering on thousands of supporters who gathered in Washington, D.C., on Saturday to protest the election results based on the lies that the president and far right media are spreading.

Unfortunately for President Trump, this state of denial wins him exactly zero electoral votes.

Joining us now, a vital member of the president's Coronavirus Task Force, the director of the national Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Fauci, we just hit a record high, 184,000 new cases on one day, Friday, and it's getting worse.

Other than wearing masks, washing hands, avoiding crowds, and social distancing, what more, on a policy level, do we in the United States need to be doing?

FAUCI: Well, what we have got to do is make what you just said, Jake, uniform, not spotty. Everybody has got to do it. There is no excuse not to do that right now, because we know that can turn things around.

I mean, that is the tool we have. As I have mentioned just recently and as you eluded to, we have good news with regard to the vaccine. So, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Help is coming. And that should, I believe, motivate people to just say, we are going to double down and do this uniformly. Those are the tools we have right now. And they do work.

We can get this to plateau and come down. We've got to -- I mean, obviously, everyone is sensitive to what we call COVID fatigue. People are worn out about this. But we have got to hang in there a bit longer, particularly as we get into the holiday seasons and the colder weather, as we get into the late fall and early winter months.

We have got to hang together on this, Jack -- Jake, because we can make it turn around. We really can.

TAPPER: New cases are skyrocketing. We know that hospitalizations and then deaths ultimately follow.

A University of Washington model projects that the U.S. will reach 439,000 deaths due to COVID by March 1. Is that really possible, another 200,000 deaths in just the next four months?

FAUCI: Yes, it is possible, Jake.

And the issue is, the models, as I have said so often, are as good as the assumptions you put into the model. And we have got to change those assumptions. We have got to say, we are going to turn it around very, very vigorously adhering to the public health measures. And we don't need to get to that number.

That is a model number if we act in a certain way. We can turn that around, that plus the fact that we are going to start getting doses of vaccines available for the highest-priority individuals sometime in mid to late December.

And then, as we get into January, we will get more vaccine doses available. I think, when we put those two things together, vaccine, plus strong adherence to the fundamental public health measures, we can blunt that. We don't have to accept those large numbers that are so terrifying.


TAPPER: Half of the states across the country, 25 states, have reported record hospitalizations this week due to COVID.

Now, I know that you have said you don't think a nationwide lockdown is necessary, but, given the numbers we are seeing, do you see any circumstances in the next few months where it might make sense for local officials, mayors or maybe governors...

FAUCI: Right.

TAPPER: ... to issue new stay-at-home orders in just specific, discrete parts of the country?

FAUCI: I think that likely will happen, Jake, if we don't turn around this surge.

I mean, you're right. It's -- we are not getting a national lockdown. I think that is very clear. But I think what we are going to start seeing in the local levels, be they governors or mayors or people at the local level, will do, as you said, very surgical-type of restrictions, which are the function equivalent of a local lockdown. But we're not going to have a national lockdown. But if things really get bad, and you put your foot on the pedal, and yet still you have the surge, you may need to take the extra step that you're talking about.

TAPPER: Now, you have already encouraged Americans to consider canceling any Thanksgiving plans that involve visiting with somebody else or having visitors come.

I know a lot of Americans are looking ahead, hoping to make plans for other holidays, such as Christmas. But when do you think Americans will next be able to safely gather together for family events like this?

Are you suggesting it probably won't be able to happen until, I don't know, Labor Day 2021, Thanksgiving 2021?

FAUCI: You know, it depends on a number of factors, Jake.

For example, we have vaccines now. The first one that came out was highly effective. I anticipate that the second one likely will be comparable. You never can tell until you see the data, but would be comparable. That is great.

But we have to get people to take the vaccine. So, if we get the overwhelming majority of people taking the vaccine, and you have, on the one hand, an effective vaccine, on the other hand, a high degree of uptake of the vaccine, we could start getting things back to relative normal as we get into the second and third quarter of the year, where people can start thinking about doing things that were too dangerous just months ago.

But we have got to put all of those things together, Jake. We can't just wish it happening. We have got to get the vaccine, it has got to be deployed, and we can't abandon fundamental public health measures.

You can approach a degree of normality, while still doing some fundamental public health things that synergize with the vaccine to get us back to normal.

TAPPER: So, not until the second or third quarter of 2021, though? Christmas is probably not going to be possible?

FAUCI: Yes, I'm -- well, I think that, if we get most of the country vaccinated in the second, third quarter of the year, and the vaccine continues to prove its efficacy, and people adhere to those fundamental measures, I think we can start approaching the degree -- it's not going to be a light switch, Jake.

We are not going to turn it on and off, going from where we are to completely normal. It's going to be a gradual accrual of more normality as the weeks and the months go by, as we get well into 2021.

TAPPER: President Trump's administration is refusing to acknowledge reality. They're blocking the transition process with president-elect Joe Biden's team, including any transition related to fighting the pandemic.

How problematic is it for the fight against the coronavirus if the NIH and your agency and other government experts are not able to begin communicating with president-elect Biden's team, which, as you know, has its own expertise in fighting pandemics?

FAUCI: Well, Jake, as you know, I have been through multiple transitions now, having served six presidents for 36 years.

And it's very clear that that transition process that we go through, that time period of measured in several weeks to months, is really important in a smooth handing over of the information, as well as -- it's almost like passing a baton in a race -- you don't want to stop and then give it to somebody. You want to just essentially keep going.

And that is what transition is. So, it certainly would make things more smoothly if we could do that.

TAPPER: So, just as a public health measure, you think it would be a good idea if your team would be able to work with the Biden/Harris transition team right now, just in terms of what is best for the public health of the American people?

FAUCI: Yes. Of course, Jake. That is obvious. Of course it would be better if we could start working with them.

TAPPER: When is the last time President Trump attended a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting?


FAUCI: You know, it's -- it was months ago.

But when we have our task force meeting, it's run, as you know, by Vice President Pence. And the vice president then translates that the president himself. But the last time the president was physically at a task force meeting was several months ago.

TAPPER: President-elect Biden has selected Ron Klain to be his chief of staff in the White House.

And, partly, he -- the reason for that, he pointed to Klain's experience fighting Ebola in 2014.

FAUCI: Right.

TAPPER: You worked closely with Ron Klain during that outbreak. What do you think of president-elect Biden's choice for chief of staff?

FAUCI: It's an excellent choice.

I mean, I worked very closely with Ron Klain during the Ebola outbreak. He was the -- they called it a czar. He never liked that word czar. He was the coordinator. But he was absolutely terrific at the Ebola situation, where we had a very successful ultimate endgame with Ebola. We developed therapies. We put out the outbreak in a -- it was a

terrible outbreak, obviously. But we ultimately were very successful. But that is how I got to know Ron.

TAPPER: It's quite a contrast.

In January of this year, Ron Klain wrote a piece for "The Atlantic" talking what needed to be done for the pending crisis. This is in January. And the next month, the -- Trump's acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, was saying that the virus was just another hoax from the media.

You don't have to comment on that. I am.

Let's move on.

I want to ask you about this new vaccine from Pfizer which will be hard to distribute, challenging to distribute, because it needs to be kept at 75 degrees Celsius, and it will have two doses.

Now, we're hearing from state officials, health officials in places such as North Dakota and Mississippi, who say they're overwhelmed, they're daunted. One added: "We absolutely do not have enough to pull this off successfully."

How can it be that we're in November, and state health officials are worried that they're not going to be able to properly distribute this vaccine?

FAUCI: Well, it's going to be a challenge. That's for sure.

I know that the states -- I mean, that is not something that I deal with...

TAPPER: Right. No, I know.


FAUCI: ... the distribution. Others do.

But I can tell you, Jake, just from what I'm hearing, they feel they need more resources to be able to implement something that they had not done before, namely, the special requirements.

I believe it's going to be done, Jake. I'm cautiously optimistic that we will be able to get that done. We have a system, the distribution system, led by General Gus Perna, who is going to be responsible for getting the material there.

Obviously, locally, once they get them there, they are going to have to be able to distribute. And that is what they are going to likely need more resources for. As we are hearing, they are talking about needing considerable more resources to be able to implement that.

TAPPER: Is the Pfizer vaccine safe for kids? Has it been tested on kids? FAUCI: No, not yet.

What we do -- and this is not an unusual situation -- is that, once you have a vaccine shown to be safe and effective in an adult, you can go back and do phase one and phase two trials in children, and then do what is called bridging it, namely, using the immunogenicity data to show that it's comparable responses in children, but it's safe.

And the reason we do that is that children are vulnerable. And you always got to make sure that you're dealing with a safe and effective vaccine before you even think about putting it into children.

You want to get the children to get it as quickly as you possible can. You don't want to deprive them of access to it, but you want to make sure you're safe when you're dealing with a vulnerable population such as children. That is standard, what we do with almost all vaccines.

TAPPER: Once somebody has been immunized -- I guess, for Pfizer, it's two doses. I'm not sure what it is for Moderna or the other vaccines coming down the pike.

But once it's -- once the process is complete, does that mean they can take off their masks, they don't have to social distance, they can just go about their lives as before?

FAUCI: I would recommend that that is not the case. I would recommend you have an added area of protection.

Obviously, with a 90-plus percent effective vaccine, you could feel much more confident. But I would recommend to people to not abandon all public health measures just because you have been vaccinated, because even though, for the general population, it might be 90 to 95 percent effective, you don't necessarily know, for you, how effective it is.

So, when I get vaccinated, which I hope to when it becomes my turn to get vaccinated, I'm not going to abandon completely public health measures. I could feel more relaxed, in essentially not having the stringency of it that we have right now, but I think abandoning it completely would not be a good idea.

TAPPER: Because 5 to 10 percent of the people that get immunized, it will not be effective for.


So, they might actually get the virus...

FAUCI: Right.

TAPPER: ... if they just completely let down their guard. OK, that's interesting.

FAUCI: Right.

TAPPER: You have worked for six different administrations, as you noted.

I want to take you back to something that you said to the previous anchor of the show, Candy Crowley, back in 2014 during the Ebola crisis about reflecting on the fact that your job is to deliver bad news to people in power. Take a listen.


FAUCI: I have never had an experience where the president is telling me to tell him something that he wants to hear.


TAPPER: "I have never had an experience where a president is telling me to tell him something that he wants to hear."

I guess you can't say that anymore.

FAUCI: Well, I have been as transparent and open with telling the administration the facts.

What they do with it is a different story. But I certainly have not held back from giving my advice and recommendation based on the facts and the data. That hasn't changed from 2014. In fact, that hasn't changed for 36 years that I have been doing this.

TAPPER: No, of course not. It's just that this is the only time it's gotten you into hot water.

One last question.

FAUCI: Well...


TAPPER: You don't have to comment on that. Let's just -- we need you in that job.

The United States...


TAPPER: ... has 4 percent of the world's population, and roughly 20 percent of the world's coronavirus cases and the world's coronavirus deaths.

How do you think history will remember the United States government response to this pandemic in the -- over the past year?

FAUCI: You know, obviously, it's not going to be a good report because of the extent of the suffering that we have had.

But, you know, Jake, I think we are going to have to need a real academic analysis of the multifaceted issues that went into this. And it has a lot to do, I think, with the nature of our country, a very large country, with 50 states that tend to want to do things a little bit differently, with a country as great and phenomenal as it is that has a flare of independence, that they don't like to be told what to do.

So, there are a lot of things that are going to go into why we have such a high rate of infection and a high rate of death.

And I think that is going to take some serious examination before we really nail down what the totality of the cause of that is. It's going to be very complicated.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Anthony Fauci, thank you so much. Appreciate your time. Appreciate the fact that you're still on the job there.

FAUCI: Thank you, Jake. Thank you for having me.

TAPPER: Progressives, who helped send Joe Biden to the Oval Office, now saying it's time to pony up with Cabinet posts.

Senator Bernie Sanders joins me live next.



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

President-elect Joe Biden will not take office until January, but the intraparty fight between moderates and progressives is already under way, to a degree, playing out this week on Twitter, for example, when progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted this photo of herself throwing shade at moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin after he criticized a -- quote -- "crazy socialist agenda."

How might this ideological struggle impact a Biden administration?

Here to discuss, independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont,

Senator Sanders, it's great to see you again. Glad you're doing well.

Before we get to that, President Trump is still refusing to accept reality and concede the election to president-elect Joe Biden. How worried are you that he could actually try to stay in power beyond January 20? What level of threat do you think the lack of progress on a transition poses to the country?

SANDERS: Well, I am less and less worried about it, because, as more and more victories state by state are confirmed for Biden, I think public support, in any way, shape, or form for the president is now going down.

But I will say this, Jake. Trump will have the distinction of doing more than any person in the history of this country in undermining American democracy.

The idea that he continues to tell his supporters that the only reason he may have lost this election is because of fraud is an absolutely disgraceful, un-American thing to do. And I would just hope to God that he has the decency in him to man up and say, you know what, we fought hard, we lost the election, good luck to Joe Biden, I love America.

But the fact that he is not even cooperating in the transition, the fact that he continues to deny reality and continue to suggest that Biden has illegally won the election, is beyond belief, in terms of behavior for an American president.

TAPPER: Yes, it's crazy. And it's based on nothing.

The Trump administration says it plans to distribute tens of millions of vaccine doses in the coming months once it's been approved. Pfizer signed a deal with the Trump administration to sell its vaccine through Operation Warp Speed. Moderna is developing its vaccine with federal dollars.

Does the Trump administration deserve some credit here?

SANDERS: Well, I think they put an emphasis on trying to get this vaccine done as quickly as possible. They were not alone. Everybody else worked together.

We have a global pandemic. We have lost in this country over 245,000 lives. Those numbers are going up every single day. So, I think common sense suggests that we needed a vaccine as quickly as possible.

Now, as you heard Dr. Fauci say, the challenge now is, once you get the vaccine, how do you get it out to 300 million people as quickly and as effectively as possible? And I look forward to the Biden administration working right now, as I know they are, on plans to do that.


One of the concerns that we have is that, as a result of the pandemic, in all 50 states in this country right now, you're seeing our medical resources, doctors, nurses, hospitals, being stretched to their limit.


SANDERS: And we are going to need to figure out a way in Congress to deal with that problem.

TAPPER: Now, you have vowed to try to push the Biden administration to accomplish progressive goals, saying, -- quote -- "Our struggle is not over. It has just begun."

At best, you're going to have -- Democrats are going to have a 50/50 Senate, at best. It's very possible Republicans will control that chamber.

How specifically do you plan to push the Biden administration to enact these progressive goals, when the Senate is going to be in the situation it's in? SANDERS: Well, as you know, during the early parts of this campaign,

the Biden folks and our people sat down together, and we worked out a number of proposals on some of the major issues facing this country, including health care, including the economy, education, climate change, and so forth and so on.

I fully expect that the Biden administration will be advocating those proposals that they agreed to.

And what I want to say is, I sometimes find it amusing when our opponents talk about the far left agenda. The truth is that, when you talk about raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, when you're talking about expanding health care to all people as a human right, when you talk about effectively taking on climate change, when you talk about making public colleges and universities tuition-free, these are not far left ideas.

These are commonsense ideas that the majority of the American people support. And we are going to fight to make sure that they are implemented.

TAPPER: But there are some Democrats arguing that progressive voices and policies hurt down-ballot Democrats in the last election.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn told Politico that, if Democrats in Georgia in these run-off elections coming up -- quote -- "run on Medicare for all, defund the police, socialized medicine, we're not going to win" -- unquote.

Now, I hear you on the minimum wage. But, on those other issues, given that Biden's margins...

SANDERS: Let's rephrase that.


SANDERS: Nobody I know who is running for office talks about defunding the police.

What we talk about is making police officers accountable, making sure that police departments do what they can do best, figuring out how you deal with mental illness, how you deal with homelessness, whether those are, in fact, police responsibilities, making sure that police officers are not killing innocent African-Americans.

That is not defund the police.


SANDERS: Second of all, you go to the people in Georgia, let's do a poll, do a CNN poll. Ask the people in Georgia whether everybody in that state should have health care as a human right.

Ask the people in Georgia whether or not they want to rebuild their crumbling infrastructure and create decent-paying jobs at decent wages. I think you will find the people of Georgia and people all over this country saying, yes, we need to rebuild our infrastructure, we need to create millions of good-paying jobs.

TAPPER: It appears that the margins for Biden's victory came from the suburbs, though.

And I wonder if -- I mean, the way you phrased it is one thing, but another way to phrase it might be -- even Medicare for all. A lot of people who voted for Joe Biden might not want Medicare for all. He didn't run with Medicare for all.

I'm wondering if you think there is some sort of calibration that might be necessary in order for Democrats to win those Senate seats?

SANDERS: Well, first thought -- and I haven't exhaustively studied all of the exit polls -- one of the things that we do know is that youth turnout was very, very high across the country, and especially high in states like Georgia, off the charts, in fact.

And young people voted overwhelmingly for Biden. And young people, by and large, are the most progressive generation facing this country.

Also, what we looked at and saw is that working people, people making less than $50,000, making less than $99,000, also voted for Biden. And I think, if you ask those people, should we create the jobs that we need, should we raise the minimum wage, should we expand health care to cover all people in this country, I think you will find that the answer is yes.

You know, Jake, all of my life, political life, no matter what you do, we will be attacked by the establishment, by big money interests. And yet, today, we are living in a nation with massive income and wealth inequality. People on top are doing phenomenally well, while working- class people today are suffering at a level we have not seen since the Great Depression.


SANDERS: What Congress has got to do immediately, with a COVID-19 package, is start protecting the working families of this country.

TAPPER: So, we're out of time, but I just want to get a yes or no, because you have said this week you would be willing to serve as labor secretary in the Biden/Harris administration if you were asked.

Have you had any conversations with anyone from the Biden transition team about a possible Cabinet post?


SANDERS: I talk to the Biden administration. I want to do my best in whatever capacity, as a senator or in the administration, to protect the working families of this country.

TAPPER: All right, Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, always good to have you on the show, sir. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

SANDERS: Thank you.

TAPPER: President Trump is burying his head in the sound when it come to his 2020 loss, but my next guest is not.

Republican Governor Mike DeWine says we need to consider Biden the president-elect.

He will join me next.


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

President Trump on dozens of occasions has falsely said that coronavirus will just disappear.


And now, as the U.S. approaches 200,000 new cases of coronavirus every day in the United States, cases are exploding across the country, including in the state of Ohio, which had over 8,000 new cases just on Friday.

Joining us now, the Republican governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine.

Governor DeWine, in the last two weeks, daily cases in your state have more than doubled. The report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force this week said Ohio has -- quote -- "vast and unmitigated community spread," with -- quote -- "no evidence of improvement."

How much worse do you expect this to get in Ohio? And why? Why does it keep getting worse?

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Jake, I think people are tired.

As Dr. Fauci said, there is the fatigue that has set in. Also, the experts such as Dr. Fauci also told -- all the time told us that, when we got to the fall, and it got colder, we were going to see an uptick. I don't think anyone has thought we would see an uptick like we have.

We're looking at hospitalization. For example, a month ago, we had 1,000 people in our hospitals in Ohio. A week ago, just a week ago, we had 2,000. Now we have over 3,000.

So, it's rolling through Ohio. We had a mask order on that we put on in July. It still remains on. We have agents tomorrow for the first time who are actually going out into the different retail establishments to make sure that the people are, in fact, wearing a mask.

If you're a clerk at a grocery store, you're 65, you may be diabetic, you have every right to expect that the people who come through there have a mask on. And while there is good compliance in many places, we do have some, unfortunately, that are outlaw -- outliers. And we are going to work to take care of that. TAPPER: You warned this week of the toll on health care staff. And

you said the critical question now is whether you're going to have enough healthy and qualified health care workers.

Hospitalizations in Ohio, as you noted at a record level. How much longer until your health care system is just overwhelmed?

DEWINE: Well, we are certainly not overwhelmed yet, but we monitor this every day. We have a good system in Ohio that we set up early on with three different zones in the state, and the bigger hospitals taking care of the smaller hospitals.

But we have already seen some of our major hospitals pull back this past week in regard to elective -- some elective surgeries. So, we don't like to see that. We don't like to see any kind of health care delayed. So, that is the early sign that certainly a problem.

So, the other thing, as you pointed out, we have health care workers who have run a marathon, and now we're asking them to run another marathon. And so, when I talk to the people of Ohio about wearing masks, when I talk about keep down these social events, be careful, it's for these health workers. We have got to protect them. We have got to do everything that we can to help them.

And you talked about community spread. It's exactly what we have got. We have got significant community spread. And my message every day to Ohioans is that this community spread endangers your grandparents who are in a nursing home, because, once it's in the community and widespread, it is going to eventually get into that nursing home.

Our schools -- we like to have our kids in school, but community spread threatens that. We're already seeing some of our schools that are having to pull back because they don't have a bus driver, or they don't have enough teachers, or they have got too many kids that have been quarantined.

So, these are things that are just naturally starting to happen. And so the importance of each one of us, as tired as we are and sick of this as we are, to remember basically two things. One, if we wear a mask, we're keeping our kids in school, and we're protecting our elderly, and we're protecting our hospitals.

And, two, the good news is that we got this week the vaccine is coming.


DEWINE: And it's coming in December.

And so we can see the end of this. We just have to tough out -- tough it out for a few more months and do what we need to do, so we can get through this, so that, when the light comes out, and everyone is getting vaccinated...


DEWINE: ... we're all here, and we can enjoy baseball or whatever we love -- like to do next.

TAPPER: So, Governor, let's talk about the vaccine.

When it has been approved and manufactured, is Ohio ready?

DEWINE: Yes, we're...

TAPPER: I mean, do you have the infrastructure ready to inoculate your citizens?

DEWINE: Well, sure. I mean, we are ready.

That doesn't mean there's not going to be potential glitches. Nothing runs perfectly. But our team has certainly been working on this. And we are waiting anxiously.

The last we had from the -- word we had from the White House, I think, is, the first batch, they thought, was going to be about 30,000 doses. So, we will start to try to surround our people who are in nursing homes and protect them.

And the way we are going to do that, of course, is to give the vaccine to the workers there, because the workers, that's how it comes in. So, if you can vaccinate your workers, then you're putting a shell around and you protect the most vulnerable.



DEWINE: And then we will move out from there.

TAPPER: So, you heard earlier in the show Dr. Fauci say that, from a public health perspective, obviously, being able to work with the incoming Biden/Harris administration would be better than being blocked.

And President Trump, because he is refusing to acknowledge the reality of his loss, is still blocking the formal transition with the Biden/Harris administration.

President Trump's former Chief of Staff John Kelly said in a statement -- quote -- "The delay in transitioning is an increasing national security and health crisis."

Do you share those concerns, that this delay could actually ultimately hurt the American people and that the transition should start as soon as possible?

DEWINE: You know, Jake, I think we have to have faith in our judicial system, faith in our electoral system.

And I'd say this to both sides of this. And I was certainly a supporter and remain a supporter of the president. But the president has every right to go into court, every right to bring any kind of evidence that he has. And no one should begrudge him that or say that there is anything irregular about that.

On the other hand, it's clear that, certainly, based on what we know now, that Joe Biden is the president-elect. And that transition, for the country's sake, it's important for a normal transition to start through.

And the president can go on his other track and his legal track. We should respect that, but we also need to begin that process.

TAPPER: All right, Governor Mike DeWine from the great state of Ohio, we are thinking about your citizens and hoping for the best for you.

Thank you so much for being with us today.

DEWINE: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up: The devil went down to Georgia, and even he was shocked at the political ads on TV. The two races in one state that will decide the Senate.

Democratic candidate for Senate Reverend Raphael Warnock joins me next. Stay with us.


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

President-elect Joe Biden flipped Georgia blue for the first time since 1992.

But the entire political world is still focused on Georgia, with money pouring in, celebrities weighing in, and even people trying to move there, with a pair of Senate run-offs that will determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

Joining us now, Democratic candidate for Senate in Georgia Reverend Raphael Warnock.

We should note, we invited his opponent, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, to join us as well this morning. She declined.

Reverend Warnock, thanks so much for joining us.

So, in the November 3 election, you and Democratic candidate Matt Lieberman received a combined 35.7 percent of the vote. The Republican candidates, Loeffler and Doug Collins, received 45.8 percent of the vote.

From just a math perspective, how do you intend to make up that deficit? And why did so many Georgians vote for president-elect Biden and not for you?


REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning, Jake. It's great to be here with you. We are in a very strong position in this race. I got in on January 30.

I'm a first-time candidate. And while folks are focused on the people who were at the top of the ticket, the fact is, there were 21 people in my race, 21. And there were 10 people with a D next to their name.

And because the names were listed alphabetically, and my name is Warnock, I was the next -- the person next to the last person on the list. And I finished first, handily, far ahead of a candidate who is the wealthiest member of Congress, who poured millions of dollars into this race. And we finished in a strong position.

There is no question in my mind that, as Georgians hear about my commitment to access to affordable health care, the dignity of work, the work I have been doing for years, standing up for ordinary people, we will prevail come January 5.

TAPPER: So, with control of the Senate in the balance, your race and the other race in Georgia between Ossoff and Perdue has taken on national importance.

Republicans are already trying to tie you to Democrats in Washington. Take a listen.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Now we take Georgia. Then we change America.

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): That is Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer. You heard him. They plan to take Georgia so they can change America.

Georgia, don't let these radicals change America.


TAPPER: So, that is the Republican senator from Florida, just south of you, talking about Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader.

Now, you have tried to keep your message, as you just did, focused on economic issues, health care. Do comments like what we just heard from Senator Schumer, nationalizing your race, doesn't that hurt you?

WARNOCK: Listen, this is a Georgia race, and I'm Georgia.

I grew up in Savannah, Georgia. My church is in Atlanta. I'm pastor of the spiritual home of Martin Luther King Jr. I grew up in public housing, one of 12 children in my family. I'm number 11 and the first graduate of a four-year college in my family.

I know personally the importance of good federal policy, combined with personal responsibility, work, grit, and determination. That is the reason I'm able to run for the United States Senate. I am an iteration of the American dream. And I'm running for the Senate because that promise is slipping away from far too many people.

That is what this race is about. The fact the matter is, Jake, voters don't vote for politicians. It's

-- this race is not about me. And Chuck Schumer's name is certainly not on the ballot. I will tell you what is on the ballot. Health care is on the ballot, access to affordable health care.

We have got 500,000 Georgians in the Medicaid gap. We have got 1.8 million Georgians with preexisting conditions. And if Kelly Loeffler has her way, people who have asthma, people who have hypertension, diabetes -- these are folks in my family and in my church, folks who are survivors of cancer -- may find themselves without health care.

And that is what this race is about. And that what I will continue to lift up even as I move across the great state of Georgia. People are responding to that message. And that is why we are in such a strong position.

She will try every desperate attack that she can make, but this race is about the people of Georgia.


Let me ask you about one of those attacks, because Senator Loeffler keeps mentioning on the campaign an incident from 1995 when you were a youth pastor at a New York church which hosted a speech by Fidel Castro.

Now, you have said you had nothing to do with that invitation. But just to clarify for our viewers, did you attend the speech? And do you understand why there are so many people who view Castro as a murderous tyrant and not someone to be celebrated?

WARNOCK: I will tell you what I understand.

I understand why Kelly Loeffler is trying to change the subject. I was a youth pastor. I had nothing to do with that program. I did not make any decisions regarding the program. I have never met the Cuban dictator. And so I'm not connected to him.

I will tell you whose names are on the ballot, Raphael Warnock and Kelly Loeffler. This race is not about anybody else. And so, while she tries to tie me to these personalities that I don't know, and seeks the endorsement of a fifth century warmonger named Attila the Hun, I will be focused on health care in Georgia.

TAPPER: But do you understand why so many people view any celebration of Fidel Castro as celebrating something ugly and tyrannical?

You mentioned it. Yes, I think you just called him a tyrant. He's -- he was a murderous thug. And I think -- I get that this is a distraction, but do you understand why people would be appalled by anyone celebrating Fidel Castro?


WARNOCK: Well, absolutely. And I never have. What I'm putting forward in this race is American values. Listen, in

no place other than America is my story even possible. I'm proud of my country. And what makes me love America is that, in spite of whatever challenges we have, there is always the path to redress our concerns, to make the country better.

I grew up in public housing. And here I am running for the United States Senate against the wealthiest member of Congress. I understand the struggles of ordinary people. And that's what this race is about.


WARNOCK: America always has a path to lift people who are at the bottom, so that they can live the American dream.

I know that story. I am an embodiment of it. And I want to make sure that the kids that I run into, whose sense of hope has been eclipsed in this dark and difficult time, know that they have a path.

I am not going to give into the demagogues of division and distraction, people who have no vision, engage in division. I'm going to do the thing that I have been doing all my years as pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s church, bring people together, so that we can push through this terrible pandemic and get our country going again.

TAPPER: All right, Reverend Warnock, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today. We really appreciate it.

WARNOCK: Thank you.

TAPPER: There is a lot of deference being given by Republicans in Washington, D.C. to the Trump campaign's legal efforts. So let's take a look at them because while the president can lie on Twitter, judges need facts. They need evidence.

Trump claimed, for example, that Republican election observers were banned from being present in the Philadelphia Convention Center for vote counting. That's a lie. The issue was whether the observers could stand 6 feet or 20 feet away, not whether or not there were Trump campaign observers there. There were.

In court, Judge Paul Diamond, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ended up pressing the Trump campaign lawyer Jerome Marcus, quote, "Are your observers in the counting room?" the judge asked. Marcus admitted, "There's a non-zero number of people in the room." Ah (ph), yes, a non-zero number.

"I am asking you as a member of the bar of this court," the judge said, "are people representing the plaintiffs," the Trump campaign, "in the room?" Admitted the Trump lawyer, "Yes."

This kind of thing has been playing out all over the country where the standards of evidence are a little bit higher than they are on social media.

In Georgia, the Trump campaign alleged that proper chain of custody was not maintained for 56 ballots. Fifty-six ballots in a state that president-elect Biden won by more than 14,000 votes. But 56 ballots during the canvassing process. The judge looked into that, found that the claim was unsupported. Case dismissed.

All over the country it's been like this. In Wisconsin, Trump allied lawyers contesting a Biden win tried to stop the certification of votes claiming they could prove fraud. OK. Where is the proof?

The lawyer said, quote, "evidence will be shortly forthcoming." In other words, we don't have any evidence.

Same basic thing in Michigan where Trump lawyers tried to stop the counting of the vote based on what Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens called, quote, "inadmissible hearsay within hearsay."

It's been, frankly, embarrassing. No evidence, unprofessional, desperate.

Increasingly Trump campaign lawyers seem to realize being involved in fact-free desperation efforts to overturn the results of a free and fair election might not necessarily enhance their resumes.

The Trump legal team in Arizona, and trust me, you do not even want to know about the crazy Sharpie nonsense they were pushing there, that legal team has folded up their tent.

Other law firms have withdrawn their representation from the Trump campaign.

On Friday, nine cases from Trump and his allies intended to attack an undue President-Elect Joe Biden's victory in key states. Nine cases were rejected or dropped. Nine.

So what now? Well, now the President of the United States is literally embracing a deranged conspiracy theory that millions of votes were changed using software. The problem here, a group of national, state, and private election officials issued a statement Thursday which was promoted online by the cybersecurity czar at the Department of Homeland Security with this sentence bolded, "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised," unquote.

The problem with Republican officeholders arguing that President Trump has the right to present his evidence in court is that the president's efforts do not have anything to do with evidence. They have to do with hearsay and rumor and insinuations and lies and conspiracy theories. And once these efforts have been rejected by every court, outgoing President Trump will likely continue to make them.

How long is the Republican Party going to continue to defer to unhinged mendacious desperation, led by the gang that couldn't sue straight?

Thank you for spending your Sunday with us. The news continues next.