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State of the Union
Interview With Facebook Vice President of Policy and Global Affairs Nick Clegg; Interview With Fmr. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA); Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Interview With National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired October 10, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Friend or foe? A whistle-blower says Facebook is putting their profits over your safety.
FRANCES HAUGEN, FORMER FACEBOOK PRODUCT MANAGER: I believe Facebook's products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy.
BASH: What needs to change? I will speak to top Facebook executive Nick Clegg and Facebook critic, Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar, next.
And: Do your job. As Democratic leaders struggle to pass their priorities, Democratic candidates are feeling the pressure. One Democrat on the ballot next month has a tough message for the president and his party in Washington. Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe joins me ahead.
Plus: turning the corner? Evidence suggests the Delta surge is beginning to slow. Where is the U.S. now in the fight against COVID- 19? I will ask Dr. Anthony Fauci in moments.
BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is wondering if it's safe to scroll.
The world got a new reminder this week of how reliant we are on social media and how social media can heighten or amplify users' darkest impulses. Lawmakers are now vowing to act. And add that to Washington's very long list of promises, including President Biden's top priorities, which remain mired in intraparty feuds.
There is some evidence now that this string of delayed promises is weighing down Democrats trying to win in state races across the country. Coming up, we're going to talk to a Democrat on the ballot, the former head of the Democratic Party, Terry McAuliffe, trying to get his old job back as Virginia governor.
But I want to begin with this week's revelations about Facebook. Whistle-blower Frances Haugen, a former product manager at Facebook, released thousands of pages of internal documents. And she testified before Congress that Facebook's products -- quote -- "harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy."
She went on to blame the company for refusing to take steps to protect users.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAUGEN: The company's leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won't make the necessary changes, because they have put their astronomical profits before people. Congressional action is needed. They won't solve this crisis without your help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Joining me now is Facebook's top spokesman, vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg.
Mr. Clegg, thank you so much for joining me.
Let's start with whistle-blower Francis Hogan -- Haugen -- forgive me -- her testimony to Congress this week. She said Instagram harms children. She detailed a lot of troubling findings from internal reports, including that almost one in five U.S. teenagers who use Instagram say that Instagram makes them feel very or somewhat worse about themselves.
Is that acceptable to you?
NICK CLEGG, VICE PRESIDENT OF POLICY AND GLOBAL AFFAIRS, FACEBOOK: No. I don't think it should be acceptable to anyone if a teenager is in distress and feels more so when they use any form of communication.
But, of course, what Frances Haugen was talking about, what that internal discussion paper was referring to is something that we have known, everybody, I think, has known for a long period of time. External researchers have confirmed this for some time, which is that, for the overwhelming majority of teenagers, actually using Instagram is a positive experience, even when they're suffering from sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, and so on.
It either makes no difference or it actually makes them feel better. But what we do, the reason we do the research -- and I think any parent watching this would intuitively understand that, if a teenager is not feeling good about themselves, when they then go and compare themselves to others, for a minority of them, in a minority of the time, it might make them feel a bit worse.
CLEGG: And that's precisely why we do the research, to work out what we can do.
We can't change human nature. And human nature, of course, you always compare yourself to others, particularly those who are more fortunate to yourself. BASH: Right. But, Mr. Clegg, if I...
CLEGG: But what we can do is change our product, which is exactly what we're doing, of course.
And I want to get into that. I mean, I understand what you're saying. I read -- I have a binder here full of the research that you're talking about that was released. And I understand it is a minority of users.
But these are vulnerable children. What are you doing, to change that, to change the way that you operate your platform, so that those minority...
BASH: ... as small as they are, don't feel the way they feel when they use it?
CLEGG: Well, first thing, we -- I mean, we have paused work on something called Instagram Kids.
We actually think that's part of the solution, but we understand the concerns are such at the moment that we need to just press pause, listen to experts, consult with others, explain our intentions, and so on.
In the meantime, we're going to introduce new controls for adults of teens on an optional basis, obviously, so that adults can supervise what their teens are doing online.
Secondly, we're going to introduce something which I think will make a considerable difference, which is, where our systems see that a teenager, a teen, is looking at the same content over and over again, and it's content which may not be conducive to their well-being, we will nudge them to look at other content.
And the third additional and new measure we're introducing is something called Take a Break, where we will be prompting -- prompting teens to just simply just take a break from using Instagram. And I think these are exactly the kinds of things which are in line with ongoing work we have been doing in line -- in cooperation with experts for many years...
BASH: So, are these things...
CLEGG: ... that we clearly want to double our efforts going forward.
BASH: Are what you just listed, these are things that you're going to do in the future or things that you already have in place?
Because this survey was published internally two years ago. CLEGG: Yes, and we have done many things, of course, since then,
which is precisely why we do the research.
And I do think...
BASH: But have you already implemented what you just listed, or is that going to happen in the future, things like nudging children away from harmful content?
CLEGG: No, I was answering your question, because you asked me what we're going to do. Those are our future plans.
CLEGG: What we have done since that research, of course, we have constantly introduced new -- new tools, for instance, so that people can hide certain words, can make sure that they're not connected with people who they don't want to be connected with, to just limit their contact with people who they don't want to be connected to.
We now provide automatic prompts, where someone's literally -- if someone's, for instance, looking at material relating to eating disorders, they will get prompts on their feeds to guide them towards helpful information, resources from experts and specialist organizations who can help them.
This is obviously a journey. We're all on this journey. The fact that, over the last 10, 15 years, millions of youngsters are now online in a way that they were not before means we all face this challenge.
CLEGG: We face this challenge together.
We have no incentive, other than trying to make that experience as positive and safe as possible. Why would we want to do anything else?
BASH: Well, Frances Haugen says your incentive is profit, bottom -- your bottom line, and continuing to line the pockets of the people who work there.
What's your response to that?
CLEGG: Well, I don't think a company that only places profit above everything else would do what we have done.
We have invested over the last several years $13 billion in this kind of work, in making sure that our platform is safe to use; $13 billion, to put that in context, is more than the total revenue of Twitter over the last four years.
We now have 40,000 people -- that's, what, more than twice the number of staffers working on Capitol Hill -- who work on these issues. We do well-beating research to understand exactly the interaction, the complex interaction between individuals, their individual circumstances of their lives, and the use of social media.
And we are constantly iterating in order to improve our products. As I say, we cannot with a wave of the wand make everyone's life perfect. What we can do is improve our products, so that our products are as safe and as enjoyable to use wherever we can -- wherever we can improve them.
BASH: And I want to talk about some potential solutions in a moment.
But, first, I have to ask. Frances Haugen is now poised to meet with the January 6 committee. I understand you have said that only those who broke the law in and around January 6 are to blame for the insurrection.
But just a simple yes or no, did Facebook's algorithms amplify or spread pro-insurrection voices ahead of January 6?
CLEGG: Let me be clear, because there's been a lot of, I think, somewhat misleading discussion about what the algorithms do.
And they're algorithms. There are hundreds, thousands of them in Facebook -- Facebook, as much as there are in many online companies. But what the ranking algorithms do -- in other words, that's the crucial algorithms that help decide what you what you see more prominently on your on your News Feed on Facebook...
CLEGG: ... than other pieces of content.
If you removed the algorithms, which is, I think, Francis Haugen, one of her central recommendations, the first thing that would happen is that people would see more, not less, hate speech, more, not less, misinformation, because these algorithms are designed precisely to work almost like giant spam filters to identify and deprecate bad content.
And I really do think we should remember that technology...
CLEGG: ... of course it has downsides.
CLEGG: But it also has very powerful positive effects.
And that is one of the reasons why...
BASH: But my question is specifically about January 6.
Did the algorithms that are in place amplify pro-insurrection voices ahead of January 6, yes or no?
CLEGG: Look, that -- given we have thousands of algorithms, and you have millions of people using this, I can't give you a yes-or-no answer to the individual, personalized feeds that each person uses. We cooperate with law enforcement, of course, to give them content that might have showed up on our platform.
But let's be clear, of course, January the 6th, the responsibility for that is for the people who broke the law, who inflicted the violence, who aided and abetted them, who encouraged them, both in politics and in the media to take that...
BASH: Yes, and I get that. And I don't think anybody is saying anything different.
BASH: But is it a problem that Facebook, that you're not really sure if your platform allowed it to fester and amplify, what ended up as this huge attack?
CLEGG: No, what I was -- what I was simply saying is that the algorithm, the whole point, of course, of Facebook is that each person's News Feed is individual to them.
It's like a sort of individual fingerprint. And it's -- and that's basically determined by the interaction of your choices, your friends, your family, the groups you choose to be part of, and those ranking algorithms that I referred to earlier.
So I can't -- I can't give a sort of generic answer to each person's individual feeds.
CLEGG: What I can say is that, where we see content that we think is relevant to the investigations of law enforcement, of course, we cooperate with them.
But, if I may, if our algorithms are as sort of nefarious as some people suggest, why is it that it's precisely those systems that have succeeded to reduce hate speech, the prevalence of hate speech on our platforms to as little as 0.05 percent?
CLEGG: That means, for every 10,000 bits of content, you would only see five bits of hate speech.
I wish we could eliminate it to zero. But I just don't -- we're not going to -- we have a third of the world's population on our platforms. Of course we're going to see the good, the bad and the ugly of human nature on our platforms.
BASH: I want to get you some solutions. I know you said that, in the future, you are going to have a voluntary
option for parents to have more control over their children on your platforms. Do you support legislation requiring parental consent for children under 16 to use social media?
CLEGG: Of course we -- if lawmakers wants to set down rules for us and for TikTok and for YouTube and for Twitter about exactly how young people should operate online, we -- of course, we will abide by the law.
And I think it's right that this is a subject of great bipartisan interest and discussion, because there's nothing more important to any of us than our kids.
BASH: OK. And...
CLEGG: And I think, by the way, regulation will be very useful in many, many other areas too.
BASH: OK, let me ask another specific question that, because I have specifics, because I think it's important.
Do you support legislation allowing regulators access to these algorithms that you have been talking about, access to Facebook algorithms, the ones that they use to amplify content to users? Should regulators have access to those algorithms?
CLEGG: I think, broadly, the answer is yes. We need greater transparency, so the systems that we have in place, as I alluded to earlier, including not only the 40,000 people we employ on this, but also the multibillion-dollar investments we have made into algorithmic systems, machine learning systems, they should be held to account, if necessary, by regulation, so that people can match what our systems say they're supposed to do from what actually happens.
CLEGG: As I said earlier, I don't think it's -- I mean, with the best will in the world, you can't -- you can't design regulation that intervenes in real time in the way that human beings interact every millisecond of the day with those multitude of algorithms.
BASH: We're almost out of time.
CLEGG: But I think, in terms of transparency, of course, yes.
BASH: OK, we're almost out of time. One last question.
Do you support changing Section 230, a law that protects social media companies like Facebook from liability, in order to hold companies like yours liable for posts that get amplified due to engagement?
CLEGG: I do think Section 230 should be changed. I think...
BASH: In that specific way?
CLEGG: ... a quarter-of-a-century ago.
Well, may I suggest, I think, a better way, which is that Section 230, as you know, gives online platforms protection from liability for the content that passes on their platforms. I think the way to perhaps change Section 230, my suggestion would be to make that protection which is afforded to online companies like Facebook contingent on them applying the systems and their policies as they're supposed to.
And if they fail to do that, they would then have that liability protection removed. That seems, to us at least, perhaps a sensible change to consider to Section 230.
BASH: One last question before I let you go up.
For our viewers watching right now, most of them use your platforms. How much time do you recommend they spend on Facebook, on Instagram a day?
CLEGG: I think it varies from person to person.
I just -- as like everything good in life, I would do it in moderation. I don't -- I think everybody needs to decide, of course, for themselves. But it's like everything that you enjoy. Do it in moderation, would be my personal suggestion, but that's my general -- my general guide for many things in life.
BASH: Nick Clegg, I very much appreciate your time, coming on and taking my questions.
Thank you so much.
CLEGG: Thank you.
BASH: And up next, a critic of Facebook. Senator Amy Klobuchar, joins me on why this time Congress may -- underscore may -- actually take action to rein in the tech giant.
Plus, Democrats running at the state level are starting to distance themselves from Washington. We will talk to someone currently on the ballot.
Virginia's Democratic nominee for governor, Terry McAuliffe, will be here.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
You just heard from Facebook.
I want to now go to one of the top lawmakers leading the push to rein in social media companies, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
So, Senator, welcome.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thanks, Dana.
BASH: You just heard Nick Clegg lay out some potential policy changes Facebook could support.
Is -- are you satisfied with what you heard? And be specific. What's the single most important thing Congress could do right now?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, first of all, I appreciate that he is willing to talk about things, but I believe the time for conversation is done, the time for action is now.
Basically, for so long, the social media companies have been saying, and the other tech platforms, trust us, we got this.
Well, look where we are now. The guy down the street tells me his mother-in-law won't get a vaccine because she read on social media that it would implant microchip in her arm. We know that the majority of the people that aren't getting vaccines read stuff on these platforms.
We know about the violent content. We know about the kids that have been reading things and been exposed to accounts that are called Eternally Starving or I'm Not Perfect.
BASH: So, he's welcoming Congress, but -- so what should you do?
KLOBUCHAR: But I just think he missed that piece of it when he went through his very deliberate conversation with you.
So let me give you the answers to this. And if they're willing to sign on, I'm all with it. But, so far, we haven't seen that.
Right now, the states are struggling to do it on their own. Secondly, we need to make sure that our competition policy is updated. They bought Instagram. We will never know, at Instagram, what innovations could have been developed to help kids, because they bought it.
In the words of Mark Zuckerberg, he'd rather buy than compete. We have to update our children's privacy laws and the work that we have already done. And that must be improved.
And then, finally, yes, the algorithms, transparency, doing more to reform what's happening out there. And so I'm just tired of hearing: Trust us.
And it's time to protect those moms and dads that have been struggling with their kids getting addicted to these platforms and been exposed to all kinds of bad stuff.
BASH: Senator, Section 230, which is the law that shields Internet companies from liability for content posted online, that was written in 1996.
My cell phone was the size of a footfall. Mark Zuckerberg was 11. He didn't even have his bar mitzvah yet at that point, let alone create Facebook. Why has Congress failed to do anything to keep up with the times and regulate these companies?
KLOBUCHAR: And let me say, they are immune from any kind of lawsuits for the profits that they're making when they amplify this conduct.
BASH: So, why are you -- why has Congress not updated it?
KLOBUCHAR: I do think it's important to step back one second. I will get to why.
To me, I was -- I watched the -- I went to see the James Bond movie yesterday, which was great. And I was there with my family. And I thought, OK, so if someone yelled fire in this theater, it's not protected speech, right?
But what if -- and the theater isn't responsible for it. But what if the theater had speakers and they amplified it in every single theater in the multiplex? They'd be responsible for that, right? They be responsible if they put that kind of bad content out.
Facebook is not. And that's why I have a bill to at least, with misinformation from vaccines, to say, you are responsible if you're amplifying this and putting it out there.
Why haven't we reformed this? Why haven't we looked at this immunity in any serious way?
KLOBUCHAR: Because every corner you go around, there are tech lobbyists, there are -- money that they're throwing around the town that has made it so that lawmakers are listening to them, instead of listening to the facts.
And I think it's time to listen to people like Frances Haugen, the incredibly courageous whistle-blower that came forward, and not be afraid to take action anymore. Other countries are.
KLOBUCHAR: Go ahead.
BASH: No, I just want to ask real quick, because I want to get to other issues.
You said as part of your answer that you should break up Facebook. But if Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram were split into three different companies, wouldn't they just compete with one another and make the environment even more potentially harmful?
KLOBUCHAR: You know what? I like competition. I believe in capitalism.
And breaking up Facebook will be up to, by the way, the attorney general's office or something like that. We're not going to do that by law. But what I think has been lacking here is any serious review of these mergers, not just with Facebook, with all of these tech companies, with pharmaceutical companies.
KLOBUCHAR: Our antitrust laws are a shadow of their former selves.
We need the resources. And we need to make sure that we have a market solution to some of these things.
KLOBUCHAR: I believe the market could reply to some of this, but we're not allowing them to because there's big, dominant platforms that don't allow for competition.
BASH: So, let's -- I know there are a lot of other issues to talk about, which I want to get to, the new report from the Judiciary Committee.
You are a member of that committee. It details former President Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election. How close did the U.S. come to a real constitutional crisis?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, as we know now -- we know he brought the lawsuits that the courts rejected all over this country.
We know he tried to convince local election officials to steal votes, which they refused. We now know that, at least nine times, he pressured the Justice Department of the United States, officials that take an oath not to Donald Trump, but to the Constitution, he pressured them to do the same.
And, in his own words, according to notes from the meeting, he basically said that, say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me. Those were his words.
For the most part, they resisted. And that's what we found out from the report. And the report is important because it creates some new information that we didn't have before from people like acting Attorney General Rosen. That information will be very helpful to the January 6 committee... BASH: Right.
KLOBUCHAR: ... that's going on over in the House that's going to look at all.
BASH: So let me ask you about that January 6 committee.
The former president directed some of his former aides not to cooperate with that committee. At least one, Steve Bannon, says he's going to defy the committee's subpoena -- subpoenas, rather.
You are a leading Democrat, as I mentioned, on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Do you think Merrick Garland's Justice Department should get involved quickly and enforce those subpoenas aggressively?
KLOBUCHAR: That's going to be Merrick Garland's decision.
BASH: What do you think?
KLOBUCHAR: But I think, ultimately, the courts will decide.
Yes, I think subpoenas have to be enforced. And for Steve Bannon to claim he has executive privilege, when he wasn't even in the executive office during January 6, that is absolutely absurd. And most legal analysts would agree with me on that.
BASH: Real quick, I want to ask about the $3.5 trillion deal that -- or the potential deal, reconciliation, that is before you guys.
Joe -- Joe Manchin, rather, Senator Manchin, has reportedly said that he wants progressives to choose between the expanded child tax credit, paid family leave, and child care subsidies.
Are you willing to lose any of those -- all of them are your priorities -- any of those in order to get this deal done?
KLOBUCHAR: No, I'm not going to negotiate this on TV. That is going on right now.
And we are becoming -- we are coming closer and closer to an agreement on this. The bipartisan infrastructure bill that's so important -- I know you will hear Governor -- former Governor and future Governor McAuliffe talking about this on the show. That is really important infrastructure for our country.
The second piece of this is what I think of as the people first agenda, making sure we make it easier for people to afford prescription drugs and child care and make sure that billionaires are paying taxes, and that's how we pay for it.
KLOBUCHAR: That's the second part. We're getting closer to an agreement.
We now have the next month to get it done. And I know Senator Manchin. I know the people involved in this. I have been in the rooms. We will get these bills done.
OK. Senator, thank you so much for joining me this morning.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Dana.
BASH: And he says President Biden is unpopular and Democrats in Congress are dragging their feet. Tell us how you really feel.
Democratic nominee for Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe will do that next.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
A candidate for Virginia governor is criticizing President Biden and Democrats in Congress. So, you might be a little bit surprised to learn that candidate is a Democrat. In fact, he's the former head of the Democratic national party, Terry McAuliffe.
And as he fights a surprisingly tight race in the now blue state of Virginia against Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin, political strategists across the country are taking note.
Joining me now is the former and he hopes future governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe.
FMR. GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D-VA): Dana, great to be with you.
BASH: Governor, thank you so much for coming in.
So, as I mentioned and you know, Virginia has been trending blue for years.
BASH: Democrats control both legislative chambers and the governor's mansion. Donald Trump lost the Commonwealth of Virginia by 10 points in 2020.
The latest poll shows that you have a very slim lead over your Republican opponent.
BASH: Why aren't you running away with this?
MCAULIFFE: Well, first of all, this is an off-off-year. If you look at the history of Virginia, it's not a presidential year turnout. Turnouts go from like 70 percent down to somewhere in the 40s.
But, listen, we're going to win this race because I'm right on the issues. I'm running against a Donald Trump wannabe who literally wants to cut education $10 billion; 43,000 teachers will be cut. He wants to do a Donald Trump-Betsy DeVos education system. He wants to take money out of our public schools and put them into private schools.
I'm going to invest in education. I'm going to raise teacher pay. I'm going to do broadband for every child in Virginia and get all at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds.
So, I have 20 plans of how I'm going to take Virginia forward, get us out of this crisis. I did it before, remember, the recession and sequestration, built a booming economy, 200,000 new jobs. Personal income went up 14 percent.
And I did it in a bipartisan way. That's why so many Republicans have endorsed me in this campaign.
BASH: You have a long relationship with President Biden.
MCAULIFFE: Yes, you bet.
BASH: You endorsed him, obviously, in the primary.
BASH: You campaigned with him back in July.
Your tone on the president has shifted pretty dramatically since then. I want our viewers to listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCAULIFFE: Can you imagine what we can get done for Virginia as Joe Biden as president and I'm back as governor? This state is going to take off like a booster rocket! Let me tell you that, folks!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MCAULIFFE: We are facing a lot of headwinds from Washington. As you know, the president is unpopular today, unfortunately, here in Virginia. So we have got to plow through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: What changed?
MCAULIFFE: Oh, I think, listen, you know I'm a very straight shooter. I'm very authentic. I sort of call them the way I see them. And I think that's why people like working with me. I'm very straight.
We have got frustration with Washington. Why haven't we passed this infrastructure bill? It passed the U.S. Senate with 69 votes two months ago. I have been very straight on television. We're tired of the chitty chat up in Washington. Get in a room and get this figured out.
I'm traveling all over Virginia. They're worried about minimum wage. They want child care. They want elderly care. They want to see paid sick leave, family medical leave, which I will tell you, my opponent is against every one of those things. I am for that.
They want them to get their job done. They're paid to get up in Washington, get this done.
MCAULIFFE: And the frustration is, why isn't it done by now? Sixty- nine votes in the Senate two months ago. Get it done this week. Do your job.
BASH: I noticed that you say Washington.
BASH: And you don't say Democrats.
As you well know, you're talking about the Democratic president you helped elect...
BASH: ... and Democratic-controlled Congress.
MCAULIFFE: You bet.
BASH: So, you're frustrated with your own party. Are they dragging you down?
MCAULIFFE: You bet I'm frustrated.
BASH: Are they dragging you down?
MCAULIFFE: It's not dragging me down. I worry about the people of Virginia...
BASH: But in your race.
MCAULIFFE: ... who want family medical leave, who want -- I want to raise the minimum wage.
BASH: Are they making it harder for you? Are they making it harder for you?
MCAULIFFE: Hard or not, I mean, people understand what I'm doing, my plans, my 20 big plans to take Virginia next level. So they're going to vote for me.
But there is frustration being all over the country. We just want action. That's why, as I say, so many Republicans have endorsed. Bill Kristol has endorsed me, leading conservative, Dave Ramadan, former conservative Tea Party member. Why? I brought everybody in a room. This is what I want them to do in
Washington, Democrats, Republicans when I was governor. Let's figure this out. No one's leaving the room until we all get something.
BASH: Should President Biden do that?
I mean, we're talking about differences among Democrats in his own party.
MCAULIFFE: Everybody should get in a room.
This was just my style. And we're not leaving this room until we have it.
BASH: Would you advise Vice President Biden to do that?
MCAULIFFE: I'd love him to do it. Get everybody in a room.
But guess -- I had bipartisan agreement on economic development, job creation, transportation, veterans. I got 70-plus percent of my bills passed with a Republican legislature when I was governor. People just want things done.
COVID has been so tough, Dana, on so many families. I have a plan to take us out of this. My opponent, as you know, is a Trump wannabe who has been endorsed by Trump five times. He said so much of the reason he's running is because of Donald Trump.
But he will take money out of education, public, and put it into private. We can't -- he wants to ban abortions. He wants to go on the offense on abortions. He has said the number one issue, election integrity.
He just said two days ago that he wants an audit of our voting machines. I wonder why Donald Trump hasn't come to Virginia. I mean, this guy's -- everything Trump says, this guy's in on.
BASH: So, let me ask about something that you know that you're getting some criticism about.
BASH: And that is a comment you made in your last debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCAULIFFE: I'm not going to let parents come into schools and actually take book out and make their own decision.
I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, the context of that was it was about a bill that would have allowed parents to ban sexually explicit books in schools.
You're getting pummeled.
MCAULIFFE: Ban -- first of all, ban any book.
BASH: Ban any book.
MCAULIFFE: It was any book.
MCAULIFFE: So, a class with 25 kids, you want 25 parents...
BASH: OK. let me finish my question. And you can mention that.
So, the question is the fact that you are getting pummeled by Republicans, who say it shows that you don't think parents should have a say in their children's education.
BASH: So, my question is, do you think parents should have a say in their children's education?
MCAULIFFE: Of course. And they do. First of all, they get to elect school boards, and if you don't like them, then you get rid of them.
But let's talk education. FOX News came out with a poll the other day. Parents overwhelmingly support me on education. Why? I put a billion dollars in as governor before. I redid all of our schools. I got rid of five SOLs.
I have a very serious plan on education, $2 billion investment, raising teacher pay, getting at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds pre-K. Everybody gets access to broadband. That's a real plan.
Glenn Youngkin, literally, his plan, "Washington Post" editorial, 43,000 teachers will be cut. We're down 1, 100 teachers. In addition, it is a Donald Trump-Betsy DeVos plan of moving money from public to private. I will never allow that as governor. That's why parents support me.
BASH: When you say -- and when you say parents should have a say, is that say strictly how they vote on the school board?
MCAULIFFE: Well, clearly, they have a say...
BASH: Anything more?
MCAULIFFE: ... to be involved in the school boards that they pick and so forth. But they want to know, are their children getting a world-class
education? I did that last time I was governor. And let's be clear. In Virginia, we're fourth in the country on K-12. We're number one in the country on higher ed. So we got a great education system.
The issue is -- and he's trying to do a backdoor deal on the Trump -- he talks about this Critical Race Theory. And I got to be honest with you, that is a dog whistle. We don't have Critical Race Theory taught in Virginia. He brings up -- this is a Trump-Betsy DeVos thing on education.
I hate to see people divided. I am a uniter. I got us out of the worst economic chaos before. I will do it again with COVID. And I do it in a bipartisan way.
BASH: I'm glad you brought up Critical Race Theory.
BASH: And you call it a dog whistle.
But it seems to be working somewhat in Virginia. And the reason I say that is the following.
BASH: "The Washington Post" talked to a number of voters, including one who previously backed Democrats, one who voted for you in 2013...
MCAULIFFE: Yes. Yes.
BASH: ... but now says -- quote -- "now is switching over to the Republican, Glenn Youngkin, because he believes public schools are pushing a radical agenda in which American history is portrayed as racist and transgender kids are encouraged to use the bathroom of their choice."
So, you lost that voter. What do you say to him?
MCAULIFFE: I really hate to see what Glenn Youngkin is trying to do to Virginia what Donald Trump did our country.
I really hate to see the division, the hatred. We're putting these children in this horrible position.
Let's just be clear. We don't teach Critical Race Theory. This is a made-up -- this is a Trump/Betsy DeVos/Glenn Youngkin plan to divide people. And it really bothers me. I try to unite people. I want to give every child, regardless of whom you love, the color of your skin, or whom you pray to, a world-class education.
I did this before. That's why parents overwhelmingly support me. I'm going to build the greatest education system. But electing Glenn Youngkin, dividing children, dog whistles, creating racist -- I mean, it's horrible, what's being done.
But he will take money from public schools and put them into private, and 43,000 teachers will be cut.
BASH: So, I want to ask you about...
MCAULIFFE: Read "The Washington Post." I didn't say it. They said it.
BASH: I want to ask you about another issue. You were -- mentioned Donald Trump. I'm glad I have two cups here, so I can keep drinking when you mention Donald Trump's name.
But you accuse your opponent of playing into the big lie by campaigning on so-called election integrity. You just did it this morning.
BASH: I want to play some of your comments over the years on this issue.
MCAULIFFE: Sure. Sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: If Katherine Harris, Jeb Bush, Jim Baker, and the Supreme Court hadn't tampered with the results, Al Gore would be president.
Folks, you know it. I know it. They know it. We won that election!
We actually won the last presidential election, folks. They stole the last presidential election.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: So, you're being criticized for saying, well, wait a minute. The Republicans are questioning election integrity, when that's exactly what you did multiple times in more than one election.
How do you respond?
MCAULIFFE: First of all, the 2000 election went to the United States Supreme Court.
The United States Supreme Court shut down the voting, overruled the Florida Supreme Court, and stopped the counting of votes. That is quite a difference from what you had in the Trump election, where 33, 34 cases, whatever it, was brought up. Republican judges dismissed it.
BASH: Yes. And I don't mean -- and I don't mean to suggest...
MCAULIFFE: There's no comparison.
BASH: What happened in 2000 was so different. MCAULIFFE: Right.
BASH: In 2020, Joe Biden won, full stop.
MCAULIFFE: Fair and square.
BASH: No question.
MCAULIFFE: But the...
BASH: But I guess, going back to 2000, do you think Republicans stole that election?
MCAULIFFE: In 2000?
MCAULIFFE: I wish the United States Supreme Court had let them finish counting the votes.
But, listen, Glenn Youngkin has run the entire campaign on election integrity. He says it is the single most important issue facing Virginians. No, I think health care, I think dealing with COVID, I think education is.
And he just said two days ago that we ought to audit all of Virginia's voting machines. Really? This is all the Trump talk. And I'm just surprised Trump hasn't gone to Virginia yet.
I mean, Glenn Youngkin has been in bed with him now for -- since he started this campaign. He said he -- five times, he's been endorsed. He's honored.
MCAULIFFE: But he says he's so much -- after the nomination: So much of the reason I'm running is because of Donald Trump.
Let me be clear to Virginians. I'm running for you.
BASH: Let me ask you while I have you here.
BASH: You are the former DNC chair.
BASH: You were when your party lost control of the Senate in 2002.
President Biden's approval rating is the lowest right now of his presidency. Data analyst David Shor warns this might be the high watermark for Democrats for the next decade.
I know you're on the ballot in 2021, which we have been talking about, but put your Terry McAuliffe political strategist hat on. MCAULIFFE: Yes.
BASH: Are you concerned about your party's chances in 2022?
MCAULIFFE: I think, obviously, a big win here in Virginia is very important for our party going forward.
But I'm the one with the commonsense plans. We're not going back to the Trump world. We're not doing that, the divisiveness, the hatred. I was governor during Charlottesville, when Donald Trump -- and I talked to him on the phone, begged him to step in to stop these white supremacist neo-Nazis. And he said there were good people on both sides.
We're just done with all that. So, I think we're going to deliver on these things. I do want to thank the president for $14.3 billion to Virginia from the American Rescue Plan, including $77 million for vaccinations.
But here's my message to everybody in Washington. Pass this infrastructure bill. We are desperate in the states. We need these roads and bridges fixed. Let's get the human infrastructure. Get in a room: Here's what we need and here's what it's going to cost.
This should not be so difficult. And I had to do this as governor. And I will say it, finally. That is why so many Republicans have endorsed me for governor, because I get everybody in a room. I just want to make Virginia the best state on education, on health care. I will lower premiums. I will bring down prescription drug costs.
And I will build a dynamic economy, 200,000 jobs. Personal income went up 14 percent. People are hurting with COVID. They need a governor who's going to work in a bipartisan way, who's got the experience.
He's an anti-vaxxer. He's telling people, if you don't want to take it, don't take it. That's disqualifying to be governor.
BASH: Terry McAuliffe, thank you for coming in.
MCAULIFFE: All right. Dana, thank you. Thank you for having me.
BASH: I really appreciate, and staying and taking tough questions.
MCAULIFFE: You bet.
BASH: And on that note, we did invite your Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, to come on the show, do the same. And he declined.
The election is three weeks away, and our offer stands.
So, it looks like the U.S. is turning a corner in the pandemic. How should that change the precautions you are taking every day? I will ask Dr. Anthony Fauci next.
BASH: Welcome back to the STATE OF THE UNION.
Here's something I haven't said for a while.
Some cities are talking about rolling back COVID restrictions, as the Delta surge starts to ease. Is the U.S. moving into a new stage of the pandemic? And can people start to relax a little bit?
Well, joining me now to talk about that is chief medical adviser to President Biden Dr. Anthony Fauci.
So, Dr. Fauci, more than three in four eligible Americans have now gotten a vaccine shot. For the first time in more than two months, the U.S. is reporting fewer than 100,000 daily cases. So, are we at a new hopeful moment in the pandemic?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, Dana, it's certainly going in the right direction.
As you mentioned, the seven-day average of cases is below 100,000. It's about 95,000. Hospitalizations are down below 10,000, around 7, 400, and deaths are down below 2,000. There are now around 1, 400. So it's certainly going in the right direction. That's the good news. And, hopefully, it's going to continue to go in that trajectory, downward.
But we have to just be careful that we don't prematurely declare victory in many respects. We still have around 68 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated that have not yet gotten vaccinated. And even those who have been vaccinated, I mean, you want to look forward to holiday seasons and spending time with your family and doing those sorts of things.
But don't just throw your hands up and say it's all over, because, on the one hand, we do want to celebrate and look forward to the fact that we are going in the right direction. But if you look at the history of the surges and the diminutions in cases over a period of time, they can bounce back.
So, we don't want to always be on our edge...
FAUCI: ... that it's going to happen, because it won't if we do what we should be doing, namely, particularly, getting more people vaccinated.
Another important point, Dana, is that, right now, the data regarding the safety and the immunogenicity of vaccines in children is going to be coming before the FDA relatively soon. And if they then wind up getting vaccinated, then yet you have another segment of the population that can be protected.
BASH: So, you mentioned the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's hard to believe it. They are just around the corner.
Canada just imposed a vaccine mandate for eligible travelers on airplanes. Former President Obama Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood says that the White House should push airlines to mandate vaccines or mandate them itself.
So would you like a vaccine mandate for air travel in effect for the holidays?
FAUCI: Well, it depends on what you mean, if you're talking -- we do now have a situation when people coming in from outside of the country who are not United States citizens, they really must require that they get vaccinated, as well as getting tested before.
What the president has done regarding masks, I think, is important, namely doubling the fine on people who refuse to wear masks on airplanes. On the table is the issue of mandates for vaccine. It's always discussable. We always wind up discussing it.
BASH: Do you support it?
FAUCI: But, right now, I don't see that immediately.
Dana, I don't want to say support or not. I think it's a decision that's made by input from a number of parts of the government, including public health. I mean, obviously, from a public health standpoint, the more protection you get, the better it is.
But I don't want to be weighing in, because we wind up then having people taking things out of context.
FAUCI: We have everything on the table, and it will be discussed by the medical group.
BASH: Dr. Fauci, it has been 263 days since President Biden took office, and the Food and Drug Administration still doesn't have a permanent commissioner, still in the middle of a pandemic.
The acting chief can only stay in her post until next month. Don't you think it's important for the FDA to have a permanent Senate-confirmed commissioner?
FAUCI: Oh, of course it is, Dana. I mean, we all know that.
I mean, there are some candidates that are still being discussed. And, hopefully, we will have an FDA commissioner in a very reasonable period of time, hopefully quite soon. But, yes, I agree with you. Obviously, when you have an agency as important as the Food and Drug Administration, you want to have a permanent head in there as soon as possible. That goes without saying.
BASH: One last question.
Halloween is just around the corner. A lot of parents are wondering how to trick or treat. Do they hand out candy? Do they walk around with their children?
What's your guidance?
FAUCI: I think that -- particularly if you're vaccinated, but you can get out there.
You're outdoors, for the most part -- at least when my children were out there doing trick or treating. And enjoy it. I mean, this is a time that children love. It's a very important part of the year for children. I know my children enjoyed it.
So, I mean, again, particularly if you're vaccinated. If you're not vaccinated, again, think about it, that you will add an extra degree of protection to yourself and your children and your family and your community.
So it's a good time to reflect on why it's important to get vaccinated, but go out there and enjoy Halloween, as well as the other holidays that will be coming up.
BASH: I was just told I actually have a few extra seconds.
So I will put this question to you. How long do you think it will be until it's safe for vaccinated people to once again be indoors without a mask?
FAUCI: You know, I -- it's always tough to predict that.
I think, if we continue to go down in the cases that we're seeing right now, and more and more people get vaccinated, as the dynamics of the outbreak, namely, the amount of virus circulating in the community, goes down, I hope we will be able to pull back on some of those restrictions to get closer to what we really feel is normal in the community.
I hope that's soon. But I can't give a prediction of a date on that, Dana.
BASH: What do you need to see?
FAUCI: Well, I need to see the dynamics of the outbreak in the community go way down.
Right now, even though we just said it's going in the right direction, we have less than 100,000 cases a day, it's about 95,000 as the seven- day average, that's still way too high. We want to get way, way down to that. I mean, I'd like to see it well below 10,000, and even much lower than that.
But when you're at 95,000, that's still a situation where you have a high degree of dynamic circulation of virus in the community.
BASH: Got it. Got it.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, thank you for spending time with us this morning. Appreciate it.
And thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.
The news continues next.