Joe Biden TRANSCRIPT: 3/9/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening.
And I interviewed Joe Biden this morning in Michigan and my anecdotal
airport report of the last, I don`t know, three days I`ve been in one, two,
four airports is very few masks out there in the airports, very few lines,
and on the airplanes, which are still reasonably full, the ones I`ve been
on, one thing you don`t hear, two things you don`t hear, you don`t hear any
babies crying in my experience, meaning the babies aren`t traveling, people
changed those plans and you don`t hear anyone with a cough or sniffle or
anything. It seems that people who are feeling healthy are the ones who are
going to the airports at this stage.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: The traveling that I have done suggests
that the people who are not feeling healthy are not traveling with you,
they are traveling with me, instead, because I`ve been on like sniffle-
ville every bit of public transportation I`ve been on in the past week and,
of course, everything rings 10,000 times like that than it otherwise would.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it is a strange time. We`re all making decisions day to
day. I mean, in the interview I talked to Joe Biden about the decisions
they`re making day to day about rallies and they`re not sure.
O`DONNELL: They know what they have on the schedule for one day ahead of
time and they`re not sure how much they can keep that up. So, it`s changing
MADDOW: I heard much a similar take from Senator Sanders.
MADDOW: We`ll take it as it comes and take advice but they can`t – I
mean, it seems like they`re not planning far in advance on it and the
president is saying, no, I`m never going to cancel a rally ever. So, it`s -
- yes, day by day.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, Ireland has cancelled all St. Patrick`s Day parades and
we do not know tonight if the president of the United States has been
tested for coronavirus. Those are just two of the stranger data points in
today`s coronavirus news.
Here is what the vice president said today when asked about the president
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Has the president been tested? He`s been in contact with people
who are in proximity to somebody who had the virus.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me be sure to get you
an answer to that. I honestly don`t know the answer to the question, but
we`ll refer that question and we`ll get you an answer from the White House
physician very quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That question came up because someone at a political conference
the president attended nine days ago has tested positive for coronavirus
and that person is known to have shaken hands with the person Donald Trump
is seen shaking hands with in that photograph at that conference.
The vice president attended that same conference two days before the
president. The vice president said today that he has not been tested
because he has not been advised to get tested. Five Republican members of
Congress including Senator Ted Cruz are self-quarantined because they
attended that same political conference.
One of the self-quarantining Republicans is Congressman Matt Gaetz who made
fun of the situation last week by wearing a gas mask in the House chamber.
Since then, one person in Congressman Gaetz` district has died of
And another Republican congressman self-quarantining now is Mark Meadows
who Donald Trump recently announced will be his next White House chief of
staff. Mark Meadows could end up being the Anthony Scaramucci of White
House chiefs of staff and never actually serving a day on the job depending
on how Donald Trump feels about being in close proximity to someone who
might or might not have been exposed to coronavirus.
Coronavirus could be changing the nature of the presidential campaign. I
asked Joe Biden this morning if his campaign can continue holding rallies
and he said that they are reevaluating that question every day.
Joe Biden had a rally tonight in Detroit where former presidential
candidates, Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Cory Booker, joined him on
stage after endorsing his candidacy.
I interviewed Vice President Biden this morning in Grand Rapids, Michigan,
where Bernie Sanders held an outdoor rally on an unusual warm day
yesterday. The Sanders` campaign event dominated local news coverage in
Grand Rapids yesterday, but new polls out today show Bernie Sanders behind
Joe Biden in Michigan.
A Monmouth University poll of Michigan voters shows Joe Biden with a lead
51 percent to 36 percent and the Detroit free press shows Joe Biden with an
even bigger lead over Bernie Sanders in Michigan, but – this is important
– four years ago that very same poll by the Detroit Free Press showed
Bernie Sanders a full 25 points behind Hillary Clinton in Michigan, the
weekend before that Tuesday election day, and Bernie Sanders went on to win
Michigan four years ago, keeping hope alive for his campaign, which is
exactly what Jesse Jackson was doing for Bernie Sanders` campaign in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Keep hope alive. Keep hope alive.
Never surrender. Keep hope alive. Bernie Sanders can win, will win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Two new national polls out today show similar results. The
Quinnipiac poll shows Joe Biden ahead of Bernie Sanders nationally, 54 to
35 percent, among Democrats. A CNN poll shows Joe Biden ahead nationally 52
to 36 percent.
John Heilemann and Yamiche Alcindor will join us later in this hour to
discuss the state of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
At this evening`s White House briefing on the coronavirus, President Trump
spoke only for a few minutes and then left the room handing over the
proceedings to Mike Pence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: I want to express appreciation to the governor of California and
his administration, the governor of Georgia, the governor of Texas for
their strong cooperation with us in resolving the issues around the Grand
(END VIDOE CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president couldn`t have liked that. In the past, the
president has called the governor of California a clown and on Friday, the
last time Donald Trump fully participated in any press briefing about
coronavirus, Donald Trump said this about the governor of Washington, the
state hardest hit by coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I told Mike not to be
complimentary of the governor because that governor is a snake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That Governor Jay Inslee just had a discussion with Rachel
Maddow in the last hour that was more illuminating about the reality of the
coronavirus crisis than anything we have heard from any White House
Donald Trump called Governor Inslee a snake on Friday afternoon after the
stock market had closed and when the market next reopened, which was this
morning in New York at 9:30 a.m., the market instantly dropped almost 1,700
points in part some analysts suggested because of the president`s public
statements about the coronavirus crisis.
Austan Goolsbee, former economic advisor to President Obama will join us at
the end of the hour to consider what is happening to the economy and the
stock market and what that means for people`s jobs and the ability to
support their families and the ability to support themselves in retirement,
and will consider the possibility of a payroll tax cut that the president
mentioned in passing in his brief remarks at tonight`s press briefing.
We begin our interview with Vice President Biden this morning, a few
minutes after a trading halt in the stock market.
O`DONNELL: Mr. Vice President, we`ve known each other 25 years. When you
just walked in this room, it`s the first time we haven`t shaken hands and
seeing each other in 25 years – a minor symbol of what has changed in this
country and changed so dramatically just over the last few days.
What do you have to say to the country about what`s happening now with the
coronavirus public health threat and what we`ve seen today in the markets?
A threat to people`s retirement security, everything that they are
expecting in their lives is now being threatened.
JOE BIDEN (D), 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, look,
Lawrence, I don`t want to be to critical of the president but you know,
this gets down to competence and capability. And the – unfortunately, the
president has very - no confidence in how to handle this crisis. Not that
there`s any clear answer here to make this all go away.
But the idea that he shows up at the CDC and says that, well you know, this
is like – everything`s just perfect, you know. Just like my call to the
leader of Ukraine, I mean, people just wonder what`s going on and he`s down
there golfing today.
I mean, there`s no sense of urgency. The American people, I think, want to
know that their president is on top of this, understands it and that he`s
being guided by science.
Second thing is, in terms of capability. They – this president has not,
this administration has not moved to take advantage of the capability that
exists within the health community, has not prepared local hospitals, has
not provided equipment, has not trained personnel, has not thought through
– at least if he – they`ve thought it through, they haven`t announced it
to the American people.
And the American people are just saying wait a minute, what`s going on
here? What`s happening? And so, just like - we walked in, and we joked and
said no shaking hands. Well, and I`m following the directions, and so are
you of the CDC.
And the other thing is, there seems to be little coordination with the rest
of the world and how we`re dealing with this.
This is a worldwide pandemic. This is just not the United States of
America. And so, I think there`s a reason why you see the markets falling
and you see the reason – the reason why people are very upset. But I think
if the president were to have – just get out of the way, let the experts
at CDC and others handle this, speak to it, talk about what needs to be
done, we`d all be better off.
O`DONNELL: Do you think the market reaction is a reaction to the markets
realizing the president simply does not tell them or the world, or this
country, the truth about this situation? And a market needs clear
BIDEN: I believe that`s the case. Now, it doesn`t mean the market wouldn`t
still go down, but it wouldn`t collapse I don`t think. Now who can say?
But I think there`s no confidence in the president in anything he says or
does. He turns everything into what he thinks is a political benefit for
himself. And he`s actually imploding in the process.
But there`s a lot of innocent bystanders that are being badly hurt. And I
just think - I mean, I wish he would just be quiet. I really mean it.
That`s a really awful thing to say about a president, but he`d be quiet.
Just let the experts speak and acknowledge whatever they suggest to him is
what we should be doing.
O`DONNELL: Senator Bernie Sanders says that this public health crisis is
yet another, in his view, a perfect example of why we need a health care
system with Medicare for All, some version of Medicare for All, at least,
because everyone would know, an absolutely guarantee that they would be
able to get the treatment they need, and it would not be costing them the
way some people have been getting billed for –
BIDEN: You don`t have to do Medicare for All for that. The Biden proposal
we – you`d be covered for all of this. The fact of the matter is that
everyone would be covered under taking Obamacare, restoring the cuts that
have been made, and putting in the public option of Medicare- like option.
You know, and by the way, Medicare – if everybody – let`s assume
everybody had Medicare covering everything now.
Do you think people would be any less concerned? I don`t think so.
O`DONNELL: No, but they`d know how they were going to get their service.
BIDEN: Well, by the way, look. The question is how are you going to get
your service, period? Forget the healthcare plan for a second. What
services do you get?
There`s none being provided right now. There`s not enough testing kits.
There`s not enough information as to who should be tested and how it`s
going to be tested. There`s not enough information as to what hospitals you
go to. There`s not enough beds available.
And so, Medicare doesn`t fix that. My plan, the Obamacare that I build on,
would take care of it all in terms of the billing and all those things
they`re concerned about what it`s going to cost them, but it does not solve
the underlying problem.
Where do you go? Who do you talk to? What information do you get?
That is not something that of anyone on Medicare today. Let me put it this
way. Anybody who`s on Medicare today, OK, they have Medicare.
BIDEN: Do think they`re any less or any less concerned?
You know, the fact that an elderly person who`s worried about her – is in
a nursing home and has Medicare or is working in a way that all their bills
are covered for Medicare, they`re saying, well, I`m OK. Don`t worry about
this. It goes well beyond that.
And again, I don`t think Bernie or I can try to turn this into a debate
about Medicare for All or a Biden plan building on Obamacare. It`s much
beyond that right now. It`s about re-instilling some confidence and be
We are not prepared, and there`s things we should be doing. And, by the
way, the fact that the United States Congress says Democrats and
Republicans, wait a minute, we have to fund this. We have to get the money
out there now.
Well, I mean, it goes well beyond a plan. It goes beyond what is – what
structures exist in society today in the United States of America to deal
with this problem. What are they? And every – wait a minute (ph).
O`DONNELL: Let`s assume – and I`ve asked other candidates this kind of
O`DONNELL: Veto question. Let`s flash forward. You`re president. Bernie
Sanders is still active in the Senate. He manages to get Medicare for All
through the Senate in some compromised version, the Elizabeth Warren
version or other version. Nancy Pelosi gets a version of it through the
House of Representatives.
It comes to your desk. Do you veto it?
BIDEN: I would veto anything that delays providing the security and the
certainty of healthcare being available now. If they got that through in by
some miracle or there`s an epiphany that occurred and some miracle occurred
that said, OK, it`s passed. Then you got to look at the cost.
I want to know, how did they find $35 trillion? What is that doing? Is it
going to significantly raise taxes on the middle class, which it will?
What`s going to happen?
Look, my opposition isn`t to the principle that there should be - you
should have Medicare. I mean, I – look, everybody – healthcare should be
a right in America. My opposition relates to whether or not, A, it`s
doable, two, what the cost is, and what the consequences for the rest of
the budget are.
How are you going to find $35 trillion over the next 10 years without
having profound impacts on everything from taxes for middle class and
working class people as well as – as well as the impact on the rest of the
O`DONNELL: What is going to happen to rallies going forward in this
campaign? Are you reconsidering gathering people together, especially in
BIDEN: I`m looking up to the CDC to get guidance on that. What I`m going
to do and to give people reassurance is I`m not doing the rope lines like I
used because people -
O`DONNELL: Are you just not shaking hands with voters?
BIDEN: Well, no, I haven`t – I – it`s awfully hard.
O`DONNELL: It`s hard for you especially.
BIDEN: No, I know. And people reach out.
But I think that – what I`m doing now is instead of doing what they call
for the viewing audience, the rope line, the after speech you go down and
say hello to all the folks and you shake hands, hear their concerns, and
let them tell you what`s on their mind. That I think is – we`re going to
be guided by the evolving concern that exists on the part of the CDC, the
Centers for Disease Control, as to what we should be doing.
And so – but, for example, the last two events which surprised everybody I
actually – I, you know, went down, waved to people, went through, touched
arms, fist bumped, that kind of thing. And I think you`re going to see more
of that on the part of everyone, and they`re going to be guided by the
issue of whether or not we should have big indoor rallies, those kinds of
things. That`s all in motion right now.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news at this hour. The White House has
released a statement answering the question raised at the beginning of this
hour when I began this show. The statement says the president has not
received the coronavirus testing because he has neither had prolonged close
contact with any known confirmed coronavirus patients, nor does he have any
symptoms, President Trump remains in excellent health and his physician
will continue to closely monitor him.
We will have more of my interview with Joe Biden. You were seeing the
interview in its entirety, every word of every question, every word of
every answer. You`re going to see all of that when we come back. You`ll
hear Joe Biden`s reaction to what some women called the gut punch of
Elizabeth Warren dropping out of the race and listen carefully to Joe
Biden`s answer when I ask him if he would choose a vice presidential
nominee from the group of presidential candidates who have run against him.
You`ll hear Joe Biden respond to Bernie Sanders` charge that the Democratic
establishment forced Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg to drop out of the
race. And my final question to Joe Biden was, what do you most admire about
All of that is coming up.
O`DONNELL: We`ll continue now with the entirety of our interview with Joe
Biden conducted this morning in Michigan, including in this segment,
Senator Bernie Sanders` assertion that the Democratic establishment forced
Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar out of the race to help Joe Biden.
O`DONNELL: Yesterday, Senator Sanders said that the Democratic
establishment forced Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar to drop out of the
race. He used the word “forced”.
Did you force them to drop out of the race?
BIDEN: Look, that`s the African-American community, suburban women, people
who are hard working, high school educated people who are struggling,
they`re the ones – that`s the establishment of the Democratic Party and
that`s what happened. They`re the folks when these primaries voted for me.
They voted for me. They`re not voting for Bernie. At least they didn`t vote
for – they may tomorrow decide they`re going to vote for Bernie.
But it`s not about the establishment forcing anybody out. I mean, Bernie
tries to make this all the time, and it`s always about pressure. You know I
heard, for example, that I`m taking – I have $9 billion or $90 billion
billionaires that are supporting me. I`ve never taken a contribution over
2,800 bucks. My average contribution is about – as of yesterday $44.
I mean, this – we got to stop this kind of stuff. We got to – we`re
running against Donald Trump. We ought to start telling the truth about
And the idea that we are – that – I heard him say that, well, the
Democratic establishment, I guess that means some cabal sitting in a room
somewhere and said, well, we got to stop Bernie Sanders here, and let`s all
get together and do the following.
I am flattered and I am pleased and I am honored by all the former
candidates saying, OK, we had a fair race, we didn`t make it, and it`s a
real hard thing. I`ve lost before. You know as well as I do it`s hard to
say, OK, I lost, but now, I`m throwing my full support behind for the
If you notice the people endorsing me aren`t just generic endorsements,
they`re stating why they are for me. And because those who got out and I
don`t have that fundamental – there`s really no fundamental difference in
where we want to take the country on healthcare, education, global warming,
you know, race relations, a whole range of things.
And so, I think it`s – I`m just very flattered by the support. But the
idea that some establishment sitting back there and made up of whoever it
is he thinks there are, the folks who brought me back were an overwhelming
support from African Americans, significant support from – and by the way,
in each of these Super Tuesday primaries, we raised turnout exponentially
across the board and they voted for our candidacy.
They voted for our candidacy because now it`s getting down to OK we got to
decide, how are we going to run this election, who`s best committing to
beat Donald Trump, and who do I think can do it and agree with.
O`DONNELL: When Elizabeth Warren dropped out last week, Bernie Sanders
characterized this at this point as the race between what he called two old
white guys. They –
BIDEN: I`m a young white guy now (ph0.
O`DONNELL: Rachel Maddow went up to Cambridge, did an hour interview with
Lily Adams was on with me that night. She`s the granddaughter of Ann
Richards. She worked on Kamala Harris`s campaign. She said it was a gut
punch, a gut punch to see all of the leading women candidates knocked out
of this campaign. Four United States Senators, the strongest field, field,
of women candidates we`ve ever seen in a presidential campaign. Hilary
Clinton was obviously stronger when she ran but as a field.
And do you understand what Lily Adams means by that gut punch, what that
felt like to women?
BIDEN: Sure, I do. And that`s why in 2018, I went and campaigned for more
women than anybody else did. We elected 41 new members to the House. I went
out in their districts. I went in those purple districts, and I helped them
Well, let me put it this way – they asked me to come in and they won not
because of me but despite of me maybe.
But the point is that I`m not a pundit. There is – for example, I saw the
– there was sexism in Hilary`s race, and the way – and it`s real. The
idea of sexism and racism still exists in the United States of America.
That`s why I feel so strongly about what I pushed everyday from the
Violence Against Women Act to teaching my granddaughters they can do
anything, anything, anything my grandsons can do.
O`DONNELL: But is this presidential campaign a lesson to your
granddaughters that they can d anything they want to do?
BIDEN: Well, you know, I think so, in a sense that, look, every campaign
is slightly different. And I`m not a pundit, but all I know is that I feel
very strongly that there – sexism and racism still exists in this country
in a big way. And as president of the United States, if I`m elected
president, I`m going to do all I can to continue to root it out.
O`DONNELL: The very first presidential decision you will have to make is
that decision that Barack Obama made in 2008 to choose you as vice
president. That is the first test of a presidency.
What does what you`ve seen of the women campaigning and what you have felt
and what you are aware of, that gut punch felt like this week for them
dropping out, what does that – how does that impact your vice presidential
BIDEN: Well, first of all, I think there are a number of incredibly
confident women capable of being president that have run and haven`t even
run yet and are out there senators and governors alike.
And so, for me, I think the most important thing – excuse me, choosing the
vice president is whether or not the person is simpatico with me in terms
of where I want to take the country.
It`s really important that the next president is able to do what Barack was
able to do with me. Turn and handover 10, 20 percent of the portfolios and
say, you do it as if you were president because there`s so much that lands
on a president`s desk that he can`t or she can`t do it all by themselves.
And so, that requires – I trust all the women that are out there if they
were to be my vice president. It`s presumptuous to be talking about this –
I`m not the nominee yet – but someone who is simpatico with where I want
to take the country.
We can disagree on tactics but not on strategy. And so, that`s the first
test. And there are a number of women and African Americans as well who
would meet that criteria for me.
But I`m not focused on that at this point. But I promise you my
administration from vice president on is going to look like the country.
O`DONNELL: In your experience, and I mean your lifetime of political
experience and watching this choice made, a running mate.
Do you think that it`s important that it be someone who actually has been
tested on that presidential debate stage the way I assume Barack Obama
thought it was very important that his vice presidential candidate had
already been tested at that level as you were standing beside him on the
BIDEN: I think that`s a very important factor.
O`DONNELL: Very important factor. And we`re going to leave it at that
BIDEN: By the way there`s a number of women as well when tested in other
ways, not on the debate stage, but in their debates in their states and
being national figures. So, you know, but – yes, I think that`s an
O`DONNELL: Coming up, one debate point that Bernie Sanders always wins
against Joe Biden is that Bernie Sanders was right about the Iraq war from
the start and Joe Biden was wrong.
You will hear Joe Biden admit that mistake and tell us what he most admires
about Bernie Sanders.
O`DONNELL: Here is the rest of the full interview with Joe Biden that I
conducted this morning in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You are seeing every word
of every question and every word of every answer in their entirety tonight,
in the exact sequence that the questions were asked and answered.
There was a time constraint about 20 minutes so that the Biden campaign
could stay on schedule today in Michigan. In this final segment I asked
Vice President Biden, if Bernie Sanders judgment on the vote authorizing
the Iraq war was better than Joe Biden`s and I asked Joe Biden, what he
most admires about Bernie Sanders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Two soldiers killed yesterday in Iraq. You say that your vote on
the Iraq war was based on the President`s wishes, representation that this
wasn`t about going to war. It was about presenting a clear at least, threat
to Saddam Hussein.
Bernie Sanders says I saw right through that. I was right. I knew what
George Bush was up to. When we look back on it, can we say that Sen.
Sanders` judgment about that was better than yours?
BIDEN: Look, the reason I voted for what I did was to try to prevent a war
from happening because remember, the threat was to go to war. The argument
was because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. So he said that
I need to be able to get the Security Council to agree to send in
inspectors, to put pressure on Saddam to find out whether or not he`s using
and he`s producing nuclear weapons.
And at the time, I said that`s your reason, all right I get it. That was
the - the rationale was that`s the way to not go to war because I didn`t
believe he had those nuclear weapons. I didn`t believe he had those weapons
of mass destruction. And you may remember, the debates we had after that
period about when Colin said - anyway so that was the rationale.
What happened was when we went in, determined that they hyped what in fact
was occurring, they didn`t - there was no concrete proof of what he was
doing and they still went to war and the irony of ironies is the first
thing that Barack Obama did when I got elected - when we got elected
President and Vice President, was turn to me and say, end the war, not a
You run the deal to bring out 150 plus thousand combat troops from Iraq and
I did. So you know the idea that I took the word of a President saying that
he wasn`t going to go to war and this was a way to avoid going to war, was
in fact a mistake. It was a mistake. I`ve acknowledged that 15 years ago.
But the idea that Bernie Sanders` judgment on foreign policy is superior to
mine, I find - I`m anxious to beat him on that question.
O`DONNELL: Final question before you go you`ve known Bernie Sanders a long
time. He`s known you a long time. He calls you, a friend. You call him, a
friend. What do you most admire about Bernie Sanders?
BIDEN: What I most admire about him is his - his consistency. What worries
me though is his unwillingness to ever acknowledge that anything he said or
suggests is - could have been a mistake and the second thing is that I wish
he`d level more with all of us about what his proposals are going to cost
and what impact is it going to have on people.
Like for example, he has $60 trillion of proposals out there. He thinks he
can get it done. How`s he going to do that? Even just Medicare for all is
going to - is going to double the federal budget. I mean per year. I mean,
the idea that it`s not going to affect taxes, not going to require
significant cuts in social programs around the world.
I just think, that`s surprising me about him. He started off saying yep,
this is going to increase taxes. We are going to require income tax
increase, we`re going to require withholding tax increase and all of a
sudden, the candor is gone.
And so, I think Bernie Sanders is a decent, honorable man and I think we
should be focusing on our substantive differences in an honest way. For
example, his attack on me on social security, it`s just flat wrong.
(Inaudible) in fact pointed out, it`s just not true. I don`t do things like
that. I`m not going to do things like that. And I think it`s important.
That only helps elect Donald Trump. It doesn`t help elect anybody on the
O`DONNELL: Mr. Vice President, we`re out of time because of your schedule
and we will shake hands. I hope maybe next time.
BIDEN: I hope so too. I hope so.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
BIDEN: Thanks for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And up next, tomorrow is our second Super Tuesday with six
states voting this time including Michigan which saved Bernie Sanders
campaign, four years ago when he pulled off a come from behind big win in
Michigan. Polling has Bernie Sanders behind once again in Michigan just
like it did four years ago.
Will Michigan give Bernie Sanders, the big win that he needs one more time?
That`s next with John Holliman and Yamiche Alcindor.
O`DONNELL: Michigan is to Bernie Sanders as South Carolina was to Joe
Biden. Michigan is Bernie Sanders` fire wall. Everything is on the line
tomorrow night for Bernie Sanders in Michigan. That is where Bernie Sanders
won a key upset victory against Hillary Clinton, four years ago, defying
the polls in Michigan and keeping his campaign in contention for that
He has to do that tomorrow on our second Super Tuesday when six states will
be voting with Michigan delivering the largest number of delegates. Like
Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden has Mississippi locked up. Joe Biden has a
significant lead over Bernie Sanders in Michigan according to the latest
But four years ago, Hillary Clinton had a 25 point lead on Bernie Sanders
in Michigan the weekend before the voting and Bernie Sanders still pulled
out a victory. Bernie Sanders campaigned today in Michigan and Missouri
which also votes tomorrow.
Here`s some of what Bernie Sanders had to say in Missouri.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want to defeat
Trump, which all Democrats do, a majority of independents, some Republicans
do, we are - that campaign, we`ve got our transform this country so that we
have an economy that works for you and you and you, not just wealthy
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joe Biden`s last word to Michigan voters was tonight at a rally
in Detroit where Kamala Harris and Cory Booker made their first appearances
on the campaign trail after endorsing Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): He is the best one to stand up for all of us in
America. And that person is one person. That person`s name is Joe Biden.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): What we know is that we will nor be overlooked
and we will not be canceled. So that`s what this election is about. It`s
about saying we know we matter. We know the power`s with the people.
Yes, we have not achieved the ideals of our country yet we all know that
too. But we know that if we stop fighting, we will never get there and so
we fight. That is the strength of we are as a nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now Yamiche Alcindor, White House
correspondent for the PBS Newshour and an MSNBC political analyst and John
Heilemann, national affairs analyst for NBC news and MSNBC.
He is also the co-host of Showtimes` `The Circus` and Editor in Chief of
`The Recount.` Great episode of `The Circus` last night John. Yamiche, I
want to start with you. We see Cory Booker, Kamala Harris on their very
first campaign trail appearance with Joe Biden and it`s in Detroit, night
before Michigan votes.
Does it look like Joe Biden can hold on to the lead the polls say he has
there but why were those polls wrong four years ago?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR THE PBS NEWSHOUR & MSNBC
POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Michigan really could either be Bernie Sanders`
undoing or it could be the boost that he badly needs. I remember, four
years ago, breaking the news to Bernie Sanders on the phone in an interview
when he won Michigan. I was a reporter for The New York Times and I said
well, what do you think about winning Michigan?
And he was stunned, he was excited because he knew he really needed that
lead and he quickly turned into talking about the fact that Michigan was
really the heart of where the trade wars had hurt Americans and that TPP
and all these trade deals that Obama administration did, that it really
hurt people`s lives.
And Bernie Sanders and his bench is essentially singing that same song.
He`s talking about the fact that Joe Biden was part of this administration
that hurt working class people in Michigan but there`s no coincidence that
Joe Biden decided to roll out two of the most powerfully - powerful black
voices in America to Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, two black senators to
say look, we`re not the establishment.
And he said that to you tonight of course. Lawrence, he said, the
establishment is not some - some people in a back room. It`s black voters
in particular who boosted me in the South, who are the reason why I have
this lead with Bernie Sanders.
And I think that that was a message, both to Bernie Sanders and to the
people in Detroit to say, show up for me, I need you to turn out and if
they turn up then Joe Biden will hold on to that lead. If they don`t, then
Bernie Sanders might have this.
O`DONNELL: John, in the shot we just saw, in addition the Governor of
Michigan was on the stage with Joe Biden. He was actually leaving the
interview with me to rush over to meet the Governor of Michigan this
So Bernie Sanders, great day in Michigan, campaigning yesterday which I saw
up close in Michigan, followed by Joe Biden, coming into the state and
closing big in Detroit tonight.
JOHN HEILEMANN, NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST FOR NBC NEWS & MSNBC: Yes, I mean
look, here`s the reality that four years ago, Hillary Clinton came out of
Super Tuesday with a 210 pledge delegate lead and the race went to Michigan
where Bernie Sanders won a huge surprise shocking upset victory.
But he won it really narrowly and the reality was although it gave him life
and he fought on for the next three months. His victory, narrow victory of
Michigan did nothing for him to make him close for being the nominee.
O`DONNELL: Because of the delegate count.
HEILEMANN: Because of the delegate - you got proportional allocation. You
win a race in a squeaker. Both candidates walk away with basically the same
number of delegates, maybe you get a couple more. So you can close the gap.
Tomorrow night, Bernie Sanders desperately needs to win Michigan but if he
wins Michigan, he`s behind in the polls right now. If he wins by a couple
of percentage points, doesn`t solve his problem. His problem is he`s 75-80
delegates behind Joe Biden right now and on the same night that Bernie
Sanders managed to pull off another upset in Michigan, Joe Biden is going
to crush Bernie Sanders in Mississippi.
If African-American turnout turns out to be a Mississippi the way it was in
Alabama, the way it was in all the African-American heavy states on Super
Tuesday and that`s 31 delegate that Joe Biden might win pretty much all of.
That`s a 30 net delegate win for Joe Biden in Mississippi. At this point in
the race, landslides are what matters. You need them. If you`re behind and
if you have and if you get them when you`re ahead, you`re just making your
lead more insurmountable and so Joe Biden looks Mississippi which Bernie
Sanders abandoned a few days ago.
And part of what you heard Kamala Harris saying there in that event was
expressing the anger of lot of African-Americans who feel like Bernie
Sanders is not performed well with them in 2016.
He`s not performed well with them in 2020 and now to walk away from the
state of Mississippi is both met a - sending a terrible message to African-
Americans in the party and also giving Joe Biden, the landslide that`s
going to make it harder for Bernie Sanders to ever catch up in this race.
O`DONNELL: Yamiche, I`d like to get your reaction to the part of the
interview I was talking to Joe Biden about that gut punch that a lot of
women talked about last week when finally the last woman with a chance in
the race dropped out, Elizabeth Warren.
And then the discussion of the possible vice presidential choice that he
might get to make and he pretty much - he came as close as he could to
saying, he was going to choose someone who at some point was on that debate
stage with him already.
He kind of went along with that concept of the choice while saying it`s
important that women be represented. It felt like we were getting close to
his thinking on this.
ALCINDOR: That`s right and I think - I thought about a lot of voters who
told me that they were supporting Joe Biden, especially in South Carolina
because they wanted someone who`s palable, they sought to suburban women,
to people who they thought voted for President Trump and then voted for
And if they could in some ways convince the white voters to maybe do go
with them, if they went with Joe Biden but then they always were hoping
those same voters that he would then go on and pick a woman of color,
specifically a black woman to be his VP.
And if you listened really closely, the person he was describing sounded a
lot like Kamala here. I`m not saying that he`s going to pick her but it
sounded a lot like her, someone who is a black woman, who`s been on the
national debate stage.
Then you have her talking for him in you know being a surrogate in Detroit.
It just sounded like it was like a clearly this is Sen. Harris but who
O`DONNELL: I got as close as I could with that. John Heilemann, Yamiche
Alcindor, thank you both for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
Well, the stock market is crashing. The economy could be headed for
recession. Donald Trump says that`s all fake news. Those are the words he
used for it, fake news but he also says we need payroll tax cuts to help a
workforce facing the coronavirus and to prevent the economy from slipping
into recession, even though he still says the economy is perfect.
President Obama`s former economic adviser Austan Goolsbee will tell us the
hard truths that President Trump`s economic advisers might not be telling
him. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Are you on the verge of losing your life savings or your job?
Here`s one answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a great economy.
We`re a very strong economy but this came, this blindsided the world and I
think we`ve handled it very, very well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was the President after the stock market collapsed again
today, at the White House press briefing on coronavirus, where the
President made very brief remarks before in effect fleeing the briefing
room while Vice President Pence and others took a few questions.
Earlier in the day, the President blamed the sinking stock market on a
“fake news” but the news about coronavirus is very real and it is not going
to get better quickly which is why the Trump administration is now
proposing emergency legislation to try to head off a recession.
Before leaving the briefing tonight, Donald Trump identified one proposal
to counter the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`m going to be meeting with House Republicans, Mitch McConnell,
everybody and discussing a possible payroll tax cut or relief, substantial
relief, very substantial relief, that`s a big - that`s a big number.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Austan Goolsbee, former Chair of
the Council of Economic advisers for President Obama. He`s now a professor
of Economics at the University of Chicago. Professor Goolse, your reaction
to what the market is doing, what the - what the economy looks like six
months from now, if we can tell and the President`s latest idea of a
payroll tax cut.
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS FOR
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, look, the market was borderline in terror. You know
it started, we had one of the worst weeks in many years and then the flight
to safety as the - as the finance people call it of people go buying up
treasury bonds because they think that the safest asset in the world,
literally brought the interest rate to the lowest it`s ever been.
So a lower than in a financial crisis, lower than ever and - and you saw
today, the market drops, people are nervous. They look at China. They look
at Italy. They see that there is severe - there is severe slowdowns in
places where they have to impose these quarantines.
And we`re on the brink of what may be the biggest pandemic in over a
century and it`s clear the White House has no idea what`s going on. They`re
not - they`re not testing. We had the President of the United States
himself get up a few days ago and say we have only 14 cases and pretty soon
that will be down to zero.
And public health officials in the United States and around the world just
kind of looked at each other and said, oh my God, is there not a plan to
try to slow the spread of this virus?
Because that is the critical thing for helping the economy. The reason that
people getting a payroll tax cut is probably not the right answer is
because a, a bunch of people are going to lose their jobs so they don`t pay
A bunch of people are retired so they don`t pay any payroll tax but even if
you give the people in it, a payroll tax cut, they`re not going out of
their house because they`re afraid to go to public places and a large share
of the U.S. economy are services and the face to face kind of activities
that are exactly what get hammered in this kind of a fear crisis.
And so I don`t really see that the payroll tax is the obvious first step on
O`DONNELL: Is there a first step to take here to deal with what the
economic conditions you foresee and any - and what the stock market`s
GOOLSBEE: Yes look, I think there are several first steps. The - and the
backdrop to the first steps are we have to hope that this corona virus
follows the pattern of a flu virus, not an Ebola virus, which is to say is
that if we get to warmer weather and in the summer, that we might have some
kind of a respite and that the infection rates might go down.
So the - the first thing is, you don`t want to have people having to go
bankrupt and - and you don`t want to have to have them go to work when
they`re sick so I think paid leave is that absolute first step, that we
ought to be getting everybody paid leave and the thing about virus
economics as I say, that makes it different than regular is that with virus
economics, the best thing you could do for the economy is - has nothing to
do with the economy. It`s to slow the spread of the virus.
O`DONNELL: Austan Goolsbee, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We
really appreciate it.
That is tonight`s LAST WORD. “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams starts
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the