Meet the Press - March 8, 2020

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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, growing coronavirus fears.

DR. MARK ESCOT:

The COVID-19 threat is growing across the United States.

CHUCK TODD:

Across the country and around the world -- northern Italy now on lockdown. The death toll is rising, fears are increasing and doubts about U.S. preparedness are growing.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

I am not happy about the lack of the appropriate number of test kits, that's for sure.

CHUCK TODD:

This amid concerns that the Trump administration is not being honest with the public --

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

Anybody that needs a test gets a test.

CHUCK TODD:

-- and is even cavalier about the crisis.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

The tests are all perfect. Like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect.

CHUCK TODD:

My guests this morning: Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Larry Hogan, Governor of Maryland, one of the states hit by the virus. Plus reversal of fortune.

JOE BIDEN:

So I'm here to report, we are very much alive.

CHUCK TODD:

Joe Biden's super Super Tuesday -- winning ten states and grabbing the delegate lead from Bernie Sanders.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Have we been as successful as I would hope in bringing young people in? And the answer is no.

CHUCK TODD:

While four candidates drop out, leaving no women with a plausible chance at the nomination.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:

One of the hardest parts of this is all those pinky promises and all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years.

CHUCK TODD:

This morning, I'll talk to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Joining me for insight and analysis are: NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Hallie Jackson, Republican strategist Al Cardenas, Helene Cooper, Pentagon Correspondent for The New York Times and Matt Bai, contributing columnist for The Washington Post. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, the longest-running show in television history. This is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. We have two stories dominating the news this week, the coronavirus and the Democratic race for president. The coronavirus is now spreading rapidly around the world in two distinct and interconnected ways. People in more than 100 countries have been infected, with more than 100,000 reported cases and over 3,000 deaths. Italy has seen the worst outbreak outside of China, and overnight the government effectively shut down the northern part of that country and extended some restrictions even further. This morning, Pope Francis streamed his traditional Sunday blessings and simply waved to the people in St. Peter's Square. If the disease is not yet a pandemic, the economic fallout is. Here at home, the Dow has lost nearly 11 percent in the last two weeks. Some airports are already largely empty, transnational companies are training employees how to work from home and there are growing questions about how well the federal government has managed the outbreak. At the same time, the swiftness of the change in the political landscape has amazed even the most cynical of political observers. Just over a week ago it was hard to see how Joe Biden could win the Democratic nomination. Now it's just as hard to see how he could lose it. Biden's sweeping victories on Super Tuesday gave him a delegate lead over Bernie Sanders that no one saw coming. Four candidates dropped out, with three now endorsing Biden and the remaining contests largely tilt in Biden's favor. We're going to get to all the politics in a moment, but we're going to start with the coronavirus and the growing concerns over how well the federal government is doing to confront this public health crisis.

TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS:

This is a time for pulling out all the stops.

CHUCK TODD:

Around the world, landmarks are deserted. From Mecca, to Iran's holiest sites. From Milan, to Tokyo's Disneyland. In the U.S., events have been cancelled -- Austin's South by Southwest, for the first time in 34 years. On Friday, the first NCAA tournament game played without fans. Professional leagues are considering whether to do the same.

LEBRON JAMES:

We play games without the fans? Nah, it's impossible. I ain't playing.

DR. MARK ESCOTT:

The COVID-19 threat is growing across the United States.

CHUCK TODD:

More than 400 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the U.S. across 32 states and D.C. At least 19 people have died. Governors are asking for more federal help.

GOV. JAY INSLEE:

We are the tip of the spear nationally on this.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO:

This is like a flu on steroids.

GOV. RON DESANTIS:

We definitely envision the need to have more testing capacity.

CHUCK TODD:

On Friday, President Trump visited the CDC, after signing an 8.3 billion dollar emergency funding package.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

Anybody that needs a test gets a test. They're there, they have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.

CHUCK TODD:

Vice President Pence was later forced to clarify.

VICE PRES. MIKE PENCE:

If you have reason to believe that you have been exposed to the coronavirus, I have every confidence that your physician would contact state health officials and have access to the state lab.

CHUCK TODD:

An investigation published by The Atlantic on Friday found only about 1900 people had been tested for the virus nationwide. Federal officials promised to ship 1.5 million test kits by the end of the week -- but fell short of that number. Then there's the issue of testing capacity.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO:

The CDC puts out guidance: “Anyone who wants a test, come and get a test, tell your doctor you want a test.” Vice President Pence says, “Oh, we can't do the tests.” That's the disconnect.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY:

Don't tell us things that are not true.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

I’m not happy about the lack of the appropriate number of test kits, that’s for sure. But other areas of the response, I think are going well.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump also connected testing for the virus to his own impeachment:

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

The tests are all perfect. Like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect.

CHUCK TODD:

And Mr. Trump said he'd prefer not to allow passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship onto U.S. soil. Twenty-one people aboard the ship, still docked off the coast of California, have tested positive for the virus -- out of just 46 tested. More than 3,500 people are on board.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP

I've told them to make the final decision. I would rather, because I like the numbers being where they are. I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault.

CHUCK TODD:

The Grand Princess is scheduled to dock in the Port of Oakland on Monday.

DENISE STONEMAN:

It’s kinda like being in a little prison cell at sea.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Fauci, welcome back to Meet the Press.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, so the issue of testing. We've heard the president say anybody that wants to test can get a test. I understand that's not quite where we are yet. Are we still under six -- under we still only, like, a few thousand people have been tested?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Yeah, well, what's happened now is that we really are accelerating dramatically. I mean early on there were some missteps with regard to the test and some technical aspects to it. But right now I believe 1.1 million tests have already been sent out. By Monday there'll be an additional 400,000. And by the end of next week probably around four million.

CHUCK TODD:

And what does that mean -- what about the testing capacity? I mean, by the end of next week what kind of data will you have that will allow you to make some new decisions?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Well, there are a couple of things about testing, Chuck, that are important that people need to understand. There's testing of an individual doctor, a physician, who wants to know if a person is infected or not. That physician has the responsibility of asking for the test and getting it. And then there's another aspect of testing where you do surveillance in the country to determine if there are, under the radar screen, a number of individuals. Both of those things are going to be going on now at full speed.

CHUCK TODD:

So, when do you feel like you'll have a better sense of the scope of this outbreak?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

You know, I think we're getting a better sense as the day goes by. Unfortunately that better sense is not, you know, is not encouraging because we're seeing community spread. And whenever you see community spread you can do contact tracing. But as more communities spread it becomes logistically more difficult to do that.

CHUCK TODD:

And is it a waste of time almost because you're --

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

-- of resources or not?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

You know, that's a great question. There comes a time, Chuck, when you have containment, which you're trying to find out who's infected and put them in isolation. And if, and when that happens, I hope it's if and not when, that you get so many people who are infected that the best thing you need to do is what we call mitigation in addition to containment.

CHUCK TODD:

We saw the extreme action taken in Italy. We've seen warnings, Washington State is out there with saying anybody over the age of 60 needs to take extra precaution. Maybe stay home, don't go to large events. What's the likelihood we are going to have to do more extreme quarantining?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Well, you know, I think right now something that's important that I hope the American people appreciate is that the risk of getting into trouble with this infection, mainly if you are infected, is overwhelmingly weighted towards people with underlying conditions and the elderly. And that's the reason why if you are an elderly person with an underlying condition, if you get infected the risk of getting into trouble is considerable. So it's our responsibility to protect the vulnerable. When I say protect, I mean right now. Not wait until things get worse. Say no large crowds, no long trips. And above all, don't get on a cruise ship.

CHUCK TODD:

No cruise. And how about no airplanes? No trains?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Well --

CHUCK TODD:

Where are you on transportation?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Here's where -- the recommendation from the CDC, I feel this way strongly, and this will be a recommendation, if you're a person with an underlying condition, and you are particularly an elderly person with an underlying condition, you need to think twice about getting on a plane on a long trip. And not only think twice, just don't get on a cruise ship.

CHUCK TODD:

So where are we going over the next three months? Are we going to the point -- there have been different ways. Do we need to prepare for a spike? Is our job mitigation to try to sort of level out the spike which means it'll be here for a while but in a low-level way? What is it that we -- what does success going to look like here?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Yeah. It's going to be two things. It's going to be try and prevent the actual spread. And there are a couple of ways of doing that. Prevent from without and in. The kinds of travel restrictions that we impose and that even airlines and others impose upon themselves. And in here to take a look at what you have. That if you can do containment with contact tracing, great. You don't want to give it up. But also start seriously looking at this kind of mitigation. They call it social distancing. But it's common sense stuff. You don't want to go to a massive gathering, particularly if you're a vulnerable individual.

CHUCK TODD:

So are we talking even church services?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

You know --

CHUCK TODD:

I mean maybe, you know, maybe -- are we looking at anything 15 to 20 people? Is that what you're --

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Well --

CHUCK TODD:

-- is that the social distancing recommendation?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

-- well, again, it depends on who you are. And the question is, if you're a vulnerable person, take it seriously because, particularly when you have community spread, you may not know at any given time that there are people who are infected.

CHUCK TODD:

Sporting events. What would you tell the NCAA if they came to you right now, you know, that's coming up, opening day? I mean, these may seem superficial to some people, these questions. But part of the economic engine, part of the health issues. What would you do?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Chuck, in real time you've got to evaluate the situation. If we continue to see the community spread go up, I think you need to seriously look at anything that's a large gathering. Again, I have to underscore, Chuck, particularly if you're an individual who has an underlying condition and are vulnerable.

CHUCK TODD:

What's the most realistic way this ends? Where immunity is what kills this meaning enough people get it and overtime it just stops catching? A vaccine is what ends this? Or we actually -- it will burn itself out?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Well, it's probably going to be a combination of both. What will likely happen? We're not going to have a vaccine that's deployable for at least a year to a year and a half. So right now --

CHUCK TODD:

And what does that vaccine look like? Is that part of a flu shot at the end of the day? Is that what that's going to look like?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Well, it's certainly not flu. But it will be the same sort of thing. You'll probably go in and just get an injection. And that's the thing.

CHUCK TODD:

So that's vaccine.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

So that's vaccine. That's not today. If this cycles through maybe even goes down a bit and comes back next year, that's when you get public health plus a vaccine. We hope this just goes away, burns itself out, the way SARS did. But if it doesn't and it cycles in a seasonal way, that's when a vaccine comes in.

CHUCK TODD:

How uncomfortable is it that perhaps China's authoritarian ways did prevent this? Meaning, had China been a free and open society this might have spread faster?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

You know, in the beginning, Chuck, they were not as transparent as we would have liked. But they were saying at the end of December that all that cluster of 24 cases were related to contact with an animal reservoir. That wasn't the case because there was human to human to human going on a few weeks before. If the Chinese themselves had known that, the health authorities, people I know, my colleagues, they would have given social distancing right away instead of having a 40,000-person block party is what they had, unfortunately.

CHUCK TODD:

But their extreme quarantines, has that worked?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Well, it has. That's not the usual thing you do. Their efforts have been draconian, something we never would be able to do here. But even though there's a lot of things that have unintended negative consequences of that, I think it did help dampen what would have been a broader Chinese -- Wuhan was terrible. But I think they prevented a broader spread.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you more optimistic today than you were last week?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Well, it depends on what you mean by optimistic. We are certainly now that we have tests out and get a better handle. But clearly, I'm concerned about community spread. You have to realistically be concerned about community spread.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Dr. Anthony Fauci, thanks for coming on, sharing your expertise with us. We're all listening.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Well, it was good to be with you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

A handful of states have already declared a state of emergency amid the Coronavirus outbreak including right around here, the state of Maryland. And joining me now is Maryland's Republican governor, Larry Hogan. Governor Hogan, welcome to Meet the Press.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN:

Good morning.

CHUCK TODD:

You just heard from Dr. Fauci there. You've, you’ve already declared the state of emergency. What does that declaration allow you to do?

GOV. LARRY HOGAN:

Well, it gives us a great deal of flexibility to try to coordinate with all of our state agencies, all of the local health departments and emergency management agencies. And it allows us to tap into a lot of resources that we couldn't otherwise do. We also put in emergency legislation to enable us to tap into our rainy-day fund. And we put in a supplemental budget to provide funding so that we can do some of the things we need to do to ramp up and be prepared to protect the people of the state of Maryland.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, you have a resource in Johns Hopkins that's probably kind of nice to have in the state of Maryland. But walk me through the testing kit issue. And do you feel as if -- that you've gotten enough support from the federal government?

GOV. LARRY HOGAN:

So we're also the headquarters of the NIH, University of Maryland medical system, Johns Hopkins. So we're lucky in that we have some of the best health operations in the world located in our state, right here surrounding the nation's capital. At this point in time we have the necessary resources. We’ve got -- I think we're about to double the number of test kits we have. But this is obviously an issue that Dr. Fauci talked about, that we've been hearing a lot about, ramping this up as this crisis escalates is a concern, I think, among all the governors.

CHUCK TODD:

You heard him say that -- he doesn't sound like, as if containment's going to work. That we are probably in a mitigation standpoint. And he seemed to indicate, I gave him every opportunity to, sort of, give us good news. And he was being very cautious. That tells me that it's likely this community spread's going to get worse. What does that mean to you now?

GOV. LARRY HOGAN:

Well, so the governors are really on the front-line. We’ve had -- look, I think there's been pretty good cooperation at the federal, state and local level. But this thing is escalating so rapidly. Information is changing not only on a daily basis but almost on an hourly basis. So I'm the chair of the National Governors Association. We just had all the governors here in Washington a couple of weeks ago. Dr. Fauci, the head of the CDC and a number of other experts came to brief us on the virus. We've been working on this for several weeks. But just in the past week, we went from having no cases to finding our first three positive tests to now we've done 52 different tests in our state. We had the situation of somebody coming from New Jersey coming to Maryland at the CPAC Conference. We've got a person from Maryland that went to the state of Pennsylvania --

CHUCK TODD:

This is like, in the last 48 hours. This has exponentially grown here.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN:

We've got press conferences. We started last week, we did Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Ramped up to multiple different levels. And we've got, you know, ongoing -- as we're sitting here right now talking, more things happening in our state.

CHUCK TODD:

There does seem as if politics is getting in the way of this a little bit. The president even took a shot at a fellow governor of yours, on the other side of the aisle. Are you concerned that if it looks like partisanship is being invoked at the top that it will just devolve?

GOV. LARRY HOGAN:

Look, I think it's critically important, particularly in any kind of a crisis, I think clear, direct communication is critical. And I think it's really important that you try to take all the politics out of it on both sides of the aisle. This is not the first time I've been involved in crisis communication. Right after I became governor we had the riots involved. So -- but being transparent, being direct, keeping the public informed with the facts I think is critical. And I think it's not a time to play politics. So I sat down with all of our Democratic leaders in our state, with both U.S. senators, with talking with our congressmen, our local elected officials, the speaker of our House, president, the Senate, they unanimously passed my emergency legislation in one day to give us the flexibility. I had a long conversation with the vice president last night. I was in the Situation Room with him and Secretary Azar, the head of the CDC on monday. We had 52 governors on a video conference across the nation.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you concerned that the president may undermine the efforts of the federal response?

GOV. LARRY HOGAN:

Look, I think it was a really smart move for the president to elevate Vice President Pence to work across all the different agencies and to coordinate. He's a former governor. He knows the governors are on the front lines. And he is doing, I think, a good job of coordinating everybody and communicating with us. And I think that's the way the messaging ought to go. Has the president been perfect in his communication? I would say he hasn't communicated the way I would and the way I might like him to. But I think the rest of the team has been doing a pretty good job.

CHUCK TODD:

Governor Larry Hogan, Republican of Maryland, I know you've got a tough job on your hands. Good luck with it. We're all, we’re all pulling together on this one.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

And as we go to break, a quick programming note. Tonight on MSNBC, our own Richard Engel goes inside the worldwide fight to contain the coronavirus. On assignment outbreak tonight at 10:00 eastern on MSNBC. When we come back we're going to turn to the presidential race. Senator Bernie Sanders joins me next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Whoever said a week is a lifetime in politics apparently was underestimating things considering the Democratic race for president. Joe Biden started off as the front runner. Then after Kamala Harris had her moment in the first debate and sent Biden's numbers tumbling, Elizabeth Warren zoomed past Harris and briefly took the lead but faded just as fast, prompting Michael Bloomberg to become a center-left hope against Bernie Sanders, until Bloomberg's debate faceplant left the surging Sanders as the prohibitive favorite only to see him crash on Super Tuesday leaving, that's right, Joe Biden as, once again, the supposed front runner. The states that vote over the next two Tuesdays would seem to put Biden on a potential glide path to the nomination. But remember eight days ago that glide path seemed to belong to Sanders. And if we've learned anything it's that this race can change in a hurry. Joining me now is Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Senator Sanders, welcome back to Meet the Press.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to, before I get to the campaign, I want to start with the issue of the spread of this coronavirus. What would your response look like as President Sanders?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Very different than what President Trump is doing. Unlike Trump, I believe in science. I would not appoint somebody like Mike Pence to be the head of the effort. Pence's record in terms of disease, in terms of HIV outbreak was not a good one. We have to have confidence among state officials all over this country. And people all over the world. So we need scientists running the operation, not Pence. Second of all, you cannot have a president who every day is saying absurd things. I mean, touting the fact, I think, just the other day that he is somehow very, very knowledgeable about an issue which he clearly is not knowledgeable about. We have to work with the entire world, reach out. We have to adequately fund the National Institute of Health and the CDC. We need regular reports coming from leadership in Washington, the state officials all over this country. We have to make sure that doctors, nurses all over America are protected as they do their job because if they get the virus, we're going to be totally unprepared to deal with the general population. We don't have adequate test kits right now, we don't have ICU units, enough of them. Hospital -- nurses will tell you that they have not received the kind of instructions and preparations that they need. There's a lot of work to be done. But bottom line is from Washington, the American people need to know that there are scientists, there are doctors who are running the operation, communicating with people all over the world. Because this is a global crisis. We're not seeing that in Washington from Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

I just spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci. I know you know him well, know his reputation well. And he said the following this morning, he doesn't think people over a certain age should be traveling right now, particularly not going on cruises. If you have an underlying condition that there really does need to be some sort of self-quarantining of sorts or being careful going into large groups. Let me ask you this, has your campaign made a decision on whether to hold large rallies right now?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, that's a decision -- we just held a rally in Chicago yesterday, as it happens. We had about 15,000 people out. And what I will tell you, we are talking to public health officials all over this country. And obviously what is most important to us is to protect the health of the American people. This is an issue, obviously, not just for our campaign. This is an issue for the National Basketball Association. It's an issue for every organization in this country that has large events. So all I can tell you is that it is an issue that are we looking at and we are talking to public health officials --

CHUCK TODD:

I was going to say --

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

-- about it.

CHUCK TODD:

Who makes that call for you? If the state of -- you know, if a public health official in Michigan says, "I know what, I know you have a big rally scheduled here, wherever it is," if they say, "Don't do it," you're not going to do it?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Look, we’re not going to -- obviously we're not going to endanger the health of anybody in this country. But again, this is an issue that every organization, every candidate has got to deal with.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me go to the state of the campaign and specifically Michigan. Michigan was the start of your comeback the last time. How important is it to you this time?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, Michigan is obviously very important. That's where I am right now. I'm in Grand Rapids. We're going to be holding a rally later in the day in Ann Arbor. To my mind, I think we've got a real shot to win here in Michigan because the agenda that we are talking about is an agenda that works for the working families of this state. And furthermore, it really contrasts my views with Joe Biden. Now that we're down a two-way race, I think it is clear for the American people to see where Biden's record is and where my record is. And one of the issues, as you well know, that here in Michigan trade has been a disaster. Trade agreements like NAFTA and permanent normal trade relations with China which forced American workers to compete against people making pennies an hour has resulted in the loss of 160,000 jobs here in Michigan. Some four million jobs all over this country. I helped lead the effort, as you may recall, against these disastrous trade agreements. I worked with the unions, not with the CEOs of large corporations. On the other hand, Joe Biden strongly supported these agreements. And I think you could also take a look at these campaigns, and the people in Michigan understand this, how we raise our money, Joe Biden has received funding from some 60 billionaires. We're receiving money from working class people all over this country. And I think people instinctively understand --

CHUCK TODD:

Are you --

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

-- that when you are indebted to billionaires and Super PACs you're not going to stand up for the working families of this country in the way you have to.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you concerned that Joe Biden can say, "Hey, look what the Obama/Biden administration did for the auto industry," and that counters your trade argument? I mean, and that is -- particularly in Michigan that will resonate stronger than some of your trade arguments?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, I don't think so. Look, obviously everybody worked together to try to save the automobile industry. But right now what you're saying is in Mexico --

CHUCK TODD:

You voted against that bailout.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

-- the automobile industry is --

CHUCK TODD:

You voted against the bailout.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

No, I voted against the bailout. I did vote against the Wall Street bailout. You're absolutely right. Because I do not believe that the crooks on Wall Street should have been bailed out --

CHUCK TODD:

But that included some of those car companies.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

-- by the taxpayers of this country. Yeah I understand sometimes you have to make that choice. But the bailout was a disaster. My view was that the billionaires in this country should have bailed out Wall Street, not working families. And by the way, Wall Street got trillions of dollars in zero-interest loans. A direct gift from the taxpayers of this country. That was a mistake.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to get you to react to something, because you were talking about contrasting your record with Joe Biden's record. He's up with an ad that pushes back at you, particularly on Social Security. Take a listen to it.

[BEGIN TAPE]

VOICEOVER:

Super Tuesday, state after state after state called for Joe Biden. Bernie Sanders goes on the attack. PolitiFact has called the Sanders campaigns attacks false. Negative ads will only help Donald Trump. It's time we bring our party together.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Now I'm sure you know -- it's pretty clear, I think, what the Biden campaign is doing. They're trying to make that any attack you do is helping Donald Trump. Do you accept that criticism? Are you concerned that the two of you could over attack each other?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Look, Joe Biden is a friend of mine. He has indicated that if I win the nomination, he'll be there for me. I have said if he wins the nomination, I will be there for him. Together we are going to beat Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country. But you can’t -- we live in a democracy. And we have to contrast our records and our ideas, our vision for the future. Here is the fact, this is undeniable. Joe Biden has been on the floor of the Senate, was on the floor of the Senate time after time after time as part of an effort for Bowles-Simpson. A very bad effort to try to control the deficit. And that included, this is undeniable, cuts to Social Security, cuts to veterans' programs. Those are the words that Joe Biden used on the floor of the Senate. So when I say that I have spent my life fighting against cuts and to expand Social Security that is a very different record than Joe Biden’s had. I voted against the war in Iraq. He voted for the war in Iraq. We have very different records.

CHUCK TODD:

On Super Tuesday in your -- you have said when more people come out you believe you will do well. Well, on Super Tuesday where we saw spikes and turnout it was Joe Biden that did well. You saw spikes of turnout of suburban voters, of African-American voters. We didn't see the spike in turnout in enough places of your voters. What's your explanation?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, my explanation is that we won in California, we won in Utah, we won in Colorado. We won in Vermont. I think the explanation is not complicated. The establishment put a great deal of pressure on Pete Buttigieg, on Amy Klobuchar who ran really aggressive campaigns. I know both of them. They worked really, really hard. But suddenly right before Super Tuesday they announced their withdrawal. If they had not withdrawn from the race before Super Tuesday, which was kind of a surprise to a lot of people, I suspect we would have won in Minnesota, we would have won in Maine, we would have won in Massachusetts. The turnout may have been a little bit different. But I think what we are doing in this campaign, Chuck, is we are taking on not only the entire political establishment, we're taking on the corporate establishment as well. And I'm very proud that a year after I introduced this campaign, a campaign which has taken on Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry and the insurance companies, you know what, we're just a few delegates behind Joe Biden. And we have a real shot to win this.

CHUCK TODD:

Final question, Senator, can you win this nomination without the support of Elizabeth Warren?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Yeah, well, I certainly would love to have the support of Senator Warren. But yes, of course we can. We can win this because we are going to win the support of working people all over this country who agree with our agenda that, among many other things, the time is long overdue to recognize that health care is a human right in this country, not a privilege. We must pass a Medicare for All, single-payer program.

CHUCK TODD:

Does it concern you that one of the hesitations it appears Senator Warren may have, as she told Rachel Maddow, is that some of your supporters have been, I think she called it, pretty ugly, pretty -- said some pretty dangerous things? Are you concerned that that is holding her back from supporting you?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, I am concerned about the kind of ugliness that exists on the internet and the Twitter world in general. It is very ugly. And I will not deny for a second that we have some people who claim to be supporters, although I have a hard time understanding why they think they could support me and make vicious personal attacks against people. That's not what our campaign is about. But I've got to tell you something, take a look at the stuff that's coming into our campaign. Talk to some of the African-American women who are in my campaign about the racist and sexist crap that they have got to deal with. So it's an ugly world out there.

CHUCK TODD:

It is.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

And I hope very much that in weeks and months and years to come we can clean it up.

CHUCK TODD:

That is something I think everybody can endorse. Senator Sanders, campaigning in Michigan this morning, thanks for coming on, sharing your views. And stay safe on the trail, sir.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Thank you very much.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, how good a job has the Trump administration done in combating the coronavirus. Panel is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The panel is here. Matt Bai, contributing columnist for The Washington Post, Helene Cooper, Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times, NBC News Chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson, and Republican strategist, Al Cardenas, happy first wedding anniversary, sir. We took note of the day. We took note of the date there. Thanks for spending it with us. I’m sure Anna will give me a hard time about that.

AL CARDENAS:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to show this map. Last Sunday, this was the state of what we thought were reported cases of the coronavirus. One week later here's where we are. Hallie Jackson, inside that White House, this is not a surprise to everybody involved in this task force.

HALLIE JACKSON:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

But it is something that the president seems to be in denial about.

HALLIE JACKSON:

I've been talking to sources over the weekend, all week long, obviously. The president, what I'm hearing, is that he thinks to protect himself politically he has to go out and talk about this. There are two, sort of, push/pulls inside this administration. One is underneath the president's level which are, there are some people in the administration who want to take serious measures, who want to go further than what the administration has done so far in order to try to make sure that people are protected here. There's another faction who says, "We cannot be alarmists. There will be serious economic impacts." So you're seeing some of that tension. The other tension is the other way, between the president almost, and almost everybody else, where they understand that they are getting out there and they need to put out accurate information or there is a sense that they know that there is pressure on them to do so.The problem is that the president then goes out and does what he did, for example, on Friday afternoon and says things that simply are not accurate, simply are confusing and misleading, objectively no matter how you look at it. And that creates more messaging problems for the people around him.

CHUCK TODD:

Right. Al Cardenas, Dr. Fauci said this morning, he said, "If you're an elderly person with an underlying condition the risk is considerable." Having the president of the United States say that would have far more impact than Dr. Fauci. But the president won't say it.

AL CARDENAS:

Yeah, and you know, I don't understand the politics of it because whenever you have these national disasters, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, if you're a leader and you're looking at this from a political lens, your expectations ought to be, you know, ought to be within reason but as high as possible so that whenever things turn out to be less damaging than you originally predicted, you're doing well as a leader. He's trying to underestimate and undermine what the reality here is. And so when it turns on him and becomes far worse he's going to get the blame for not handling the matter properly. If I was a leader of the free world, I would be saying, "Look, this is a virus. It's very serious. We're going to take a hit during 2020 economically and otherwise. It's time for our nation to come together. I'll keep this transparent. I'll keep informing you. But the main thing here is for us to trust the process." But that's not what he's doing.

MATT BAI:

Overpromise and under-delivery.

CHUCK TODD:

Instead, Matt, let me play the president at the CDC.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

I like the numbers being where they are. I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault. And it wasn't the fault of the people on the ship either. Okay? It wasn't their fault either. And they're mostly Americans. So I can live either way with it. I'd rather have them stay on, personally.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

So the president's referring to the cruise ship that we expected to dock on the port in Oakland there. And 46 people were tested. Twenty-one confirmed cases. 3,500 people on that ship. We can all worry about the math on that. He's worried about metrics.

MATT BAI:

But he can live either way with it. So we're okay. You know, this president talks on and on about the deep state. Right? The deep state that's out to get him. Well, there is a deep state in Washington. It's called the government. We even have a union for it, it's called the Civil Service. These are the people who have expertise. These are the people who run agencies. These are the people who devote their lives to public service. When you -- there is a cost for continually discounting that expertise. There is a cost for continually appointing people to jobs who aren't qualified or just because they're loyalists, of throwing people out when they don't say the thing that you want. Right now, he needs to fall back on what he calls the deep state. And he doesn't have it. And I think there's a looming political cost for that.

HALLIE JACKSON:

He's been advised, I'm told, by people, by his allies on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, to put public health officials out more as the face of this than the politicians. But we’ve seen, for example, people like Dr. Fauci who you just had on. But so far they still want to make sure that the White House is the face of it, led by Vice President Pence and Secretary Azar.

HELENE COOPER:

Well, I think this is a case where nobody out there really, well, okay, there are Trump supporters out there who want, who will listen to the president and see -- but the world is not looking for President Trump to lead on this because at this point I think people expect that he's not capable of leading on this. What's really interesting and one of the things I learned during the Ebola outbreak of 2014 is that the first instinct of any government in the middle of a public health crisis is to calm people down and to underplay it. We saw that in Liberia where for the first few months they were worried about the economy. So people were in denial. You saw that in China at the beginning of this coronavirus outbreak. You saw that in other places. You're seeing it still play out in Iran. And we've seen that play out in the United States. It is not until governments accept and then go into, and move beyond acceptance and get aggressive that they're able to get this thing controlled. And that's the case. That's what we’re seeing, what we saw happen in China when they finally got their act together with their rather draconian measures and that's what you're going to have to see here.

CHUCK TODD:

Hallie, how is he gonna handle the fact that -- I mean, it was odd yesterday. It was Mike Pence that was doing the presidential meetings --

HALLIE JACKSON:

The cruise ship meetings.

CHUCK TODD:

-- he had a meeting with the cruise ship industry. And the president went to his golf club. And you heard Governor Hogan really heap a lot of praise on Vice President Pence. By the way, Governor Inslee, as well, the Democrat --

HALLIE JACKSON:

Correct.

CHUCK TODD:

-- from Washington State --

HALLIE JACKSON:

The person that --

CHUCK TODD:

-- also very complimentary to Pence.

HALLIE JACKSON:

And then President Trump turned around and called him a snake that afternoon at the CDC. And you also heard Governor Hogan say something interesting, which was that the president hasn't been doing it how I've been doing it. But everybody else has been doing a good job. There's a separation even in the minds of people, Republicans, allies, that there's a difference between the president and everybody else on this.

CHUCK TODD:

And Al, we do it so naturally now, it seems.

AL CARDENAS:

Well, look, the president said publicly that his grandfather went to MIT. That he himself has this ability comparable in science to his grandfather.

HALLIE JACKSON:

His uncle I think it was.

AL CARDENAS:

His uncle, excuse me. And so my sense is that he has convinced himself, and that's what we need to understand, that he's got a grasp on this issue and he wants to talk about it. It's hard for people around him to convince him to take a step back and let the professionals and the scientists take over this matter.

CHUCK TODD:

Matt, you and I were talking about it, and we were talking about it just before the break. What the Iran hostage crisis was to the final year of Carter's presidency, not his fault. But it's a test in real time. And this is what this seems to be for the president.

MATT BAI:

Yeah, it's one thing, it’s what you guys are talking about, right? It's one thing when all the Republicans in Washington say, "He says some crazy stuff on tax policy or this or that. But we've got it handled." It's a different thing when the president is out there leading publicly in a crisis like this and people are seeing it in real time, taking their cues from it. There is, you know, there is a certain capacity for chaos in American voters. They don't like chaos. They don't like uncertainty. The markets don't like it. The voters don't like it. We don't like it in our daily lives. I'm frankly surprised that the exhaustion from that chaos has been as slow and coming as it has in the American public. But this does hold the potential, if it goes badly, to become a kind of Jimmy Carter-like scenario where the public just says, "Can't wake up with this anxiety every day. We've got to have some kind of leadership."

CHUCK TODD:

All right, when we come back, Bernie Sanders said he'd bring new voters to the polls. And they'd vote for him. He got that about half right. Stick around.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, Data Download time. Bernie Sanders likes to say he is the one candidate who can energize a broad coalition of voters, specifically new voters, to go to the polls. But in the first 12 Democratic primary contests for which we have data we saw a different candidate do precisely that. Joe Biden. In ten out of the 12, the vote was up. In many places, considerably. In eight of those ten Biden won. And in six of the eight he won by double digits. That includes North Carolina where the vote was up by 17%, where Biden beat Sanders by 19 points. South Carolina's vote was up by 46%, where Biden won by 29 points. And in Virginia the vote was up by almost 70% and Biden beat Sanders by 30 points. And there are a few things those states have in common: the suburban vote and high performance in African-American centers. Compared to the 2016 Democratic primary, voter turnout was up by a lot in many heavily African-American counties. Places where almost a quarter of the population is black. In Madison County, Alabama turnout was up 53%. It was up 57% in Henry County, Virginia. And in Lancaster County, South Carolina voter turnout was up 83%. And then there was the help from voters who used to be reliably Republican. College-educated suburbanites outside major metro areas. They turned out in big numbers in 2020 and they did so for Joe Biden. In Charlotte, North Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina and the Washington D.C. suburb of Loudoun County, Virginia, turnout was way up, helping Biden win all three states decisively. That's not to say Bernie Sanders supporters aren't fired up and reliable participants he can count on in these big contests. But South Carolina and Super Tuesday proved that Joe Biden is firing up Democrats as well. And he's reigniting the Obama coalition while he's at it. And in the upcoming primary contest, his are the types of voters who are more likely to live and vote in those states. When we come back, End Game, looking ahead to Tuesday's six contests. What is the Bernie Sanders path to the nomination?

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with End Game and the fallout from Super Tuesday. Matt Bai, you were hinting at this, another guy named Matt, Matthew Continetti, wrote the following about Joe Biden. The “Comeback Gramps,” he calls him. "Biden is the secure choice, the comforting presence, the genial, if slightly out of it, grandpa you like to have around. You turn to him in threatening times not because of what he has done but because of who he is. It is why so many Democrats chose him on Tuesday." It was interesting, now he made an argument later that eventually maybe Biden wouldn't feel like the right candidate in six months. But, boy, when you think about the moment we're going in now, that might actually be -- the, the low-energy thing may be what the public doesn't want even in the fall.

MATT BAI:

You could do worse than to project calm and steadiness and reassurance. I think, I actually think it's a pretty strong general election pitch. I think it's been a harder pitch in a primary when there was a lot of shouting going on. And I actually think if he hadn't won the margin that he did in South Carolina, it would not have been able to clear the field and put himself in the position he did. I think it was that margin, not just winning South Carolina, but the intense margin that he got from it and the turnout. Then, the party doing something I thought the Democratic Party would never do in my lifetime, performing effectively, you know, doing the right organizing thing, clearing the --

CHUCK TODD:

They acted like a party.

MATT BAI:

They acted like a party -- the goal, right?

CHUCK TODD:

I mean, they acted like a party of the 20th century.

MATT BAI:

Yeah. And now he’s exactly where I think you'd want him to be as a Democrat because I do think that might be the strongest case.

AL CARDENAS:

But you know I think circumstances have played a lot in this.

CHUCK TODD:

Oh my goodness, yes.

AL CARDENAS:

I thought the second-tier candidates, as I called them at the time, Klobuchar, Mayor Pete, the others had a resurgence was when Elizabeth Warren in October was at the top. And that made her come down a bit. And then that made Sanders look better. And, and my sense is at that very same time, voters mature. They start going from their favorite candidate to, to, you know, to then start thinking general election, “Who can best beat Trump?” which is really a key piece to this voter thought process. And now, you know, it's pretty clear that after Sanders doing well in Iowa and New Hampshire, that, you know, if we let this thing go, he's going to be a nominee. And he can't beat Donald Trump. And I think that when that happened, people started thinking, “Who can beat Donald Trump and who can we coalesce around?” And that brought Biden right back.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Helene, though, the Democrats are trying to do something they've never done before, which is win with a seasoned nominee. Frankly, if either Sanders or Biden gets it, it's somebody that has run before. That has not previously been the recipe for Democrats, you know?

MATT BAI:

You’re forgetting 1984.

HELENE COOPER:

It really seems, it really, it really seems as if though that everything provided we don't have a major Biden gaffe in the next couple of weeks. It feels as if all the stacks are in his, his favor now because keep in mind last Tuesday we had only seen -- so many people had absentee voted or voted already or early voted between South Carolina and Tuesday, that you -- I think we saw just the tip of the Biden wave. And I think what you're going to see this coming, in a couple of days and beyond that is a, just a wholesale shift. And that, that would make me not want to, want to be, want to be Bernie Sanders right now.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, it is -- I do think his campaign has two weeks to live or prove that it's viable in the next two weeks, Michigan and Ohio being to me the two biggest tests he's got.

HALLIE JACKSON:

Right. And you look at, to Al's point here on electability. We know that that is what Democratic voters want, right? When you look at what I cover, which is Donald Trump and the White House and the campaign side of things, they want to talk about Bernie Sanders, right? They want to have this discussion.The president wants to say that the establishment is rigging this against Sanders. He believes that that is a message to those Sanders voters. I think one of the studies was one in ten Sanders voters ended up going for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. You know, but they are concerned about Joe Biden. Chuck, you made the point earlier in the show that we started off with Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden as the front-runners early in this race. We're coming around to them now at the end. We started off a year ago when I was talking to sources in this campaign about who they wouldn’t want to go up against. It was Joe Biden. Look where we are now. It's concern about how Joe Biden will perform in places like Michigan.

AL CARDENAS:

And Elizabeth Warren has a pretty good pulse, I think, on this. The fact that she didn’t endorse Bernie Sanders and by giving him every break during the debate shows that I think she knows where the tide is going. And --

CHUCK TODD:

There's a pragmatism to her progressive politics.

AL CARDENAS:

Right, and so now you've got a conclusion that Biden's going to pick a woman as a running mate. And so if he's weak on the, on the base, Elizabeth Warren looks like a good one. If he needs a black, Kamala Harris looks like a good one. And, and frankly, I'm a big fan as a Hispanic of picking a Hispanic. But we'll see where that goes.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to play Elizabeth Warren's quote about the issue of sexism in this campaign because I think it rang true with a lot of women.

[BEGIN TAPE]

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:

If you say, "Yeah, there was sexism in this race," everyone says, ‘Whiner.’" And if you say, "No, there was no sexism," about a bazillion women think, "What planet do you live on?"

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Helene?

HELENE COOPER:

Yeah, that’s, I mean, that's completely true. There was clearly sexism. I still see people talking about not liking, particularly with Elizabeth Warren. I was shocked. I thought that had gone away with Hillary. But people talking about not liking the tone of her voice and not liking the way she picked on Bloomberg. And you, you see that again and again and again. And it stuns me to this day that so many other countries have managed to elect a woman president and this country, you know, that we think is so much ahead of all these other places, we can't seem to do that. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t get it.

CHUCK TODD:

The fact that Democrats still have only had one ticket with a woman is amazing to me.

HELENE COOPER:

I, I don't, I totally don't get this.

MATT BAI:

Chuck, can't people not like that about Elizabeth Warren without not being sexist? I actually think the argument she makes is true for women. And I would actually point to Amy Klobuchar who I thought was terrific in the debates and ran a very strong campaign and couldn't pick up traction. But in Warren's case, look, I think she couldn't choose a lane. She wasn't socialist enough for the socialists. She wasn’t -- but she was too socialist for the moderates.

HELENE COOPER:

Oh no. That is, there is no --

MATT BAI:

And you can't be everybody's second choice.

HELENE COOPER:

No. No.

MATT BAI:

Yes.

HELENE COOPER:

No, no, no. That I completely --

HALLIE JACKSON:

Matt, on the policy --

MATT BAI:

Why? Because you like her? Because, because you believe --

HELENE COOPER:

No, it’s not because I like her. It's because she was clearly --

MATT BAI:

She's a, she’s a big favorite among the media set, but it did not resonate.

HELENE COOPER:

She was not a waffling -- she was not a waffling candidate.

CHUCK TODD:

She made a lot of tactical, I think the campaign made some tactical mistakes that -- Hallie, you wanted to jump in.

HALLIE JACKSON:

Just to go back to sort of the point that you're making which I think on the policy piece of it, you, you make an argument here. The, the argument that I think she is making is on the personality piece of it. So it’s people like, for example, the president who say, "I don't think she lost because of sexism. I think she lost because she's kind of mean." A lot of women hear that and go, "Well, that's a sexist argument."

CHUCK TODD:

That's the definition of the sexism.

HALLIE JACKSON:

Right. Right.

CHUCK TODD:

I am way out of time. That's all we have for today. Thank you for watching. We'll be back next week because if it's Sunday it's Meet the Press.