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Super Tuesday TRANSCRIPT: 3/4/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Elisabeth Bumiller, Nancy Cook, David Plouffe, Christina Bellantoni, Errin Haines, Josh King

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, the Democratic map has been redrawn. The race turned upside down as Joe Biden carved a path from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mexican border and then some.

Tonight Michael Bloomberg out of the race, Elizabeth Warren reassessing, and Biden now gets tested. Can he ride this big a wave?

As for Bernie Sanders, he`s out with an ad quoting Obama. He`s talking of his victories last night and where he sees his best chances ahead.

And the President, he departed from a coronavirus meeting to tweet about his rivals.

Also the scary moment that went by like a flash on live television last night. Biden`s victory speech interrupted by protesters who were able to charge the stage and in an instant everyone watching realized that`s why we have the U.S. secret service. As THE 11TH HOUR gets under way on this Wednesday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 1,140 of the Trump administration. That leaves 244 days to go until the 2020 presidential election.

And speaking from this studio, if last night was Super Tuesday, this was exhaustion Wednesday. It was a late night not only here but across the country. We don`t know all the results yet, but make no mistake, this is a whole new race for the White House. Joe Biden won 10 out of 14 states last night, California, still outstanding. We don`t know what this means long term. But his victory was so sweeping and so surprising it reordered the Democratic race in a matter of hours.

It was the opposite of the establishment, the opposite of big money. He spent no money. No commercials, no campaigning. He won a ton of states that he didn`t even visit. This was something of a political prairie fire that started in South Carolina. This was powered by the African-American vote. That started on Saturday in South Carolina.

And the Biden campaign has proved that endorsements still matter in this day and age if they`re from the right person at the right time, like Congressman James Clyburn, who started it all, like Klobuchar and Buttigieg and O`Rourke. And just like that Joe Biden now leads in delegates. Joe Biden is the front-runner. Today he looked ahead with our own Savannah Guthrie.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the one thing the President doesn`t want to do from the very beginning is face me because I will beat him. Period. Period.


WILLIAMS: By the way, the rest of Biden`s interview will air tomorrow morning on "Today."

If he does go on to become the Democratic nominee, and we`ve got a lot to get through between now and then, he will likely get a big assist from Mike Bloomberg who spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make a run for the White House. Former New York City mayor and full-time billionaire made his debut on Democratic primary ballots yesterday, and he won a single race, in American Samoa. Today he ended his campaign by endorsing Joe Biden.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (D) FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. And after yesterday`s vote it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.


WILLIAMS: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren won zero Super Tuesday states. In fact, she finished third in her home state of Massachusetts. She spent today with her team assessing the way forward.

Tonight "The Washington Post" reports, "Top surrogates and allies of senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are discussing ways for their two camps to unite and push a common liberal agenda with the expectation that Warren is likely to leave the presidential campaign soon."

In fact, this evening Bernie Sanders appeared live on this network and told Rachel Maddow that he did speak to Warren by phone earlier today.


BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a private conversation. But I think, you know, Senator Warren has worked really hard over the last year. She has run in many ways an excellent campaign, bringing on a whole lot of ideas which I think have expanded political consciousness in this country.

She is now assessing, you know, where she wants to go, and she deserves the time and the space to make that decision.


WILLIAMS: Last night`s results made it very clear Bernie Sanders could not dent Joe Biden`s support among African-American voters.

Today the Sanders campaign released a new ad not attempting to be coy about the message here. It prominently features Barack Obama, who by the way has not yet endorsed any candidate.

POLITICO describes it this way, "The Super Tuesday shellacking was so thorough that Bernie Sanders` strategy changed overnight. It had to. The decades-long refusal to air negative T.V. ads is out. Spots highlighting former President Barack Obama`s praise of him are in."

Looking ahead now, the next set of Democratic races right here is on Tuesday March 10th in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Washington State. There`s a debate on March 15, two days later on March 17 the primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Ohio. Big night.

Biden`s resurgence last night represents the latest political challenge for this man, President Trump, who in his day job is trying to fight off a pandemic. The President has been under fire for his handling of the virus thus far. Today he met with airline CEOs to talk about the outbreak and he ended the meeting by bringing up the Democratic primary results.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No questions on the election? This has to be --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Please, guys, let`s go. Let`s go. Come on guys.

TRUMP: One thing this whole thing has shown that you can`t buy an election. It`s a beautiful thing.

In the case of Elizabeth Warren had she gotten out it would have been a very different situation I think. It would have been a very different night.

Had Elizabeth Warren endorsed Bernie, you`re talking about a whole different subject. He would have gotten 80, 90, almost -- I mean, he would have gotten most of those votes.


WILLIAMS: Late this evening Donald Trump also hinted at what his potential campaign strategy against Biden would involve. Focusing on the vice president`s son and his time serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.


TRUMP: That will be a major issue in the campaign. I will bring that up all the time because I don`t see any way out. I don`t see any way out for them. I don`t see how they can answer those questions. Maybe they can. I hope they can.

I`d actually prefer it that they can. But I don`t believe they`ll be able to answer those questions. That was purely corrupt.


WILLIAMS: Here with our lead-off discussion on a Wednesday night Elisabeth Bumiller, Assistant Managing Editor of the -- and the Washington Bureau Chief, I knew that was going to trip me up, for "The New York Times," Annie Karni, White House Reporter also with "The New York Times," and Nancy Cook, White House Reporter for POLITICO.

Elisabeth, you get to go first. What just happened in this race and what had to happen inside Democratic voters in all those states to bring this about?

ELISABETH BUMILLER, THE NEW YORK TIMES WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: You know, it happened in four days. After South Carolina it became clear that -- to a lot of Democrats certainly, a big coalition of Democrats, that Joe Biden was the best case they had against Donald Trump. And that is what happened across this country.

You look at the suburbs of Virginia, the northern suburbs. And what you see there is that Biden against all the, you know, the debate he expanded his map. He, you know, got the African-American vote. He got the suburban vote especially among women. He even did well with Latinos in Northern Virginia. It was the same with suburbs across the country.

So, it was -- it shows you how much -- how little we actually know ahead of these races on how bad the polling is in some of these states, and it completely turned this race upside down.

WILLIAMS: Nancy, when you remind everybody, we just had an impeachment which was over the Bidens, how does this now affect the President?

NANCY COOK, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, I think the President is going to try to bring up some of the themes that Republicans were trying to bring up during impeachment like Biden is corrupt, like saying that Hunter Biden was on this board of this Ukrainian company that he shouldn`t have been.

And as my colleagues POLITICO reported today, he`s going to have the help of GOP lawmakers who are already viewing that as a major target. They`re saying it`s not political, but they are already pursuing that line of inquiry.

And Trump gave a very interesting interview with Sean Hannity tonight which was broad and wide-ranging to talk about his response to the coronavirus. But he did talk about, you know, sort of attacking the Bidens in this sense for being corrupt. And so I think that that will be a theme that we`ll see, and I think that it does catch the Trump campaign a little bit flat-footed.

I think they had really been gearing up to have Bernie Sanders be the nominee and have this contrast between their worldview and socialism. And so I do think this scrambles things for them.

WILLIAMS: Annie, you`ve reported on the President feeling perhaps he`s losing control on three identifiable fronts, the Democrats, the coronavirus, and the stock market, which has been up and down, wild swings. How does he regain control short of opening a fourth front we haven`t anticipated yet?

ANNIE KARNI, THE NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That is the question. And this is kind of a unique moment for the President, who is used to kind of controlling the narrative through his Twitter feed, controlling institutions and people around him.

This virus is the first really crisis, public health crisis not of his own making that he`s having to deal with. He`s betting the farm on a good economy. His whole campaign is based on touting how good the economy is doing under him. And the stock market has been up and down. Up only today not because of Donald Trump but what analysts are saying was because of the news about Joe Biden`s Super Tuesday sweep.

And the Democratic primary, he`s been kind of kibitzing from the sidelines this whole time, trying to do nicknames and handicap the race. And what we saw last night was that all of Trump`s commentary, while his base enjoys it as entertainment, it really had very little effect on what actually -- what Democratic primary voters actually went and did. He didn`t really affect this race.

He`s tried for months to the point of -- to paint Joe Biden as corrupt. An effort to led to his own impeachment. And that turned out not to move the needle with voters who see Joe Biden as electable. So this is a kind of strange moment for Donald Trump. And the only thing he really affected last night was that clearly electability was front of mind for so many voters who really want to just get behind the person who can beat Donald Trump.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Elisabeth, I want to read you a headline from BuzzFeed which if true we will completely forget about in 72 hours. The headline reads, "The Surreal Year Where Only the Last 72 Hours Seem to Matter in Politics."

Elisabeth, I think they may be on to something here. And I`m curious to get your thoughts, not to overstate the case, but you`re one of the people who get to control what we see on our phones every day.

BUMILLER: You give me a lot more credit than I probably deserve.


BUMILLER: But, we -- yes. Well, we`ve gotten used to it in Washington. And one of the things we -- we respond much quicker than we ever used to. Annie can tell you the story she wrote today, there were three versions of it. There`s the early version, the middle version and the late version. There`s probably a fourth version.

We write stories when Donald Trump appoints someone. We usually have a story in the basket saying that he fired that person. Just ready to go.

We`ve changed the way we do things. But -- and -- it`s right. Look at what happened to the last four days. And the stock market, you know, it`s been dizzying the last week. So I don`t know what else to tell you but that`s how we do things in the Washington bureau, just anticipate the unexpected every single day. And sometimes if there`s five different events in a single day that we have to run around and react to.

WILLIAMS: Hey Nancy, I want to show you a picture that made the rounds earlier today. This is Congressman Gaetz from Florida reviewing the coronavirus supplemental appropriation and preparing to go vote. It really did happen. He really did wear that in the halls of Congress today.

And then we heard from retired U.S. Army General Mark Hertling. A kind of very civically minded retired Army officer who in reality would be a dandy and able special master if you put him in charge of something like the response to coronavirus. He writes, "This is the most immature and unprofessional things I`ve ever seen from a member of Congress. Comport yourself with some dignity, Mr. Gaetz. You represent people in Florida."

I guess the question is, Nancy, God forbid, what will the congressman`s reaction be? What will his constituents` reaction be if and when there is again, God forbid, a fatal case of this in his district in Florida?

COOK: Well, there haven`t been fatalities in Florida yet but there certainly are cases in Florida. And I thought it was interesting because he is such an ally of the President. He was just on Fox News tonight complimenting the President for his response to coronavirus. But so much of what the White House has been trying to do this week is basically do this balancing act of seeming prepared and on top of things and giving these daily briefings which they haven`t done in months on the coronavirus.

But at the same time they`re trying not to be alarmist. They`re trying to downplay the spread of the coronavirus which has spread pretty quickly in the past week throughout the U.S. And so it`s interesting to me that he was wearing that face mask around Capitol Hill. I don`t know if it was a stunt or if he was trying to make fun of the Supplemental Funding Bill. I wasn`t on Capitol Hill today. But it definitely drew attention to him and the Republican response to the coronavirus maybe more so than the White House would have liked.

WILLIAMS: Annie, give our viewers the 30-second version of Jeff Sessions having been forced into a runoff. He`s trying to return as a Trumpist Republican to the U.S. Senate from Alabama. The President took a whack at him today for that. Why would the President do that?

KARNI: The bigger question is how his aides got him to hold off on doing that for the entirety of Jeff Sessions` campaign. He`s been egging to do it. And our reporting and our story today showed that this was kind of his reward for having held himself back, he finally got to take another whack at Sessions. It makes him feel good. It`s a go-to place. It was a contrast with the Democratic race, where his sustained blows on Jeff Sessions actually did hurt the candidate.

WILLIAMS: It`s a lot to talk about. It`s been a busy Wednesday following an endless Super Tuesday night. Elisabeth Bumiller, Annie Karni, Nancy Cook, thank you the three of you for coming on and lasting this long to explain it all.

Coming up for us, the man who got it right for the Democrats in `08, also the first to admit he might have been wrong in 2016. Tonight David Plouffe is here with strong thoughts on defeating the President in 2020.

And later, more on the battle to contain the coronavirus including what one state is asking voters not to do. THE 11TH HOUR is just getting under way on this Wednesday night.


WILLIAMS: While he doesn`t look it, it`s been over a decade now. Our next guest David Plouffe had a best-selling book called "The Audacity to Win." He wrote about managing the Obama campaign, which of course elected our first African-American president. This year young Mr. Plouffe is out with a new book with a message more practical than aspirational. In it, he writes, and we, "Your mission is not to turn every person into a lifelong voter. It`s not to encourage everyone to become active in politics. It`s to get them to cast one vote in one election to get rid of one really horrible and dangerous president. That`s it."

And with us tonight, the author of the aforementioned, David Plouffe. The book is called "A Citizen`s Guide to Beating Donald Trump."

First of all, let`s go back to where I last saw you, in this studio last night. What happened? What did we just witness last night?

DAVID PLOUFFE, AUTHOR "A CITIZEN`S GUIDE TO BEATING DONALD TRUMP: One of the most remarkable 72 hours in American politics. Not just this election in a long time. So Joe Biden is now the front-runner. You`d rather be him than anybody else.

And you know, he`s got some good states coming up. You talked about them earlier, Florida, we`ve got Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana. So, here`s what I would say. He was the national front-runner. He was polling in the 30s, even 40s.

WILLIAMS: I remember.

PLOUFFE: So it`s always easier in politics to get back supporter vote you once had than never had at all. So that left him. Bad debates. Bad performance in Iowa and New Hampshire, flirting with Mayor Pete, flirting with Bloomberg. Biden has a great night in South Carolina, Clyburn endorses, Mayor Pete, Amy, Beto, all that comes together and a lot of that vote went back to him.

What really was interesting last night though, it wasn`t just the African- American vote which was a cornerstone. He really ran up big margins in suburban areas, which actually gives him real strength in the upcoming primaries. It`s actually a strong electability case to make the Democrats because that was what fueled our great 2018 at the congressional level.

WILLIAMS: For the people who want to get busy, want to knock on doors, want to play a role on your side of the aisle, it used to be you could tell them to just go out and work like hell. Then Russians and cell phones happened. So what will buyers of this book learn from a guy like you?

PLOUFFE: Well, some people were super active in politics may learn a thing or two, and people who`ve never done it before hopefully will get encouraged to try it. So part of my message in the book is he does -- he`s got Fox and Sinclair and Putin and foreign governments --

WILLIAMS: And his phone.

PLOUFFE: And his phone. And he knows how to communicate in today`s age. So he`s got a lot of assets despite his approval ratings. We don`t have any of that infrastructure. And we have a nominee who`s going to come out of this broke and tired and has to unify the party. It`s on all of us to go out there and talk to voters.

Yes, still knock doors, phone calls, write postcards, create content with our phones, our own content. If you have a neighbor who supported Trump last time who`s decided to vote Democrat whip out a phone, take a video post that on Facebook. You`re out knocking on doors in Wisconsin do an Instagram story. So we`ve got to do all of that. We`ve got to fight the digital war more smartly, but we also have to know that a human being talking to a human being about registering or voting or someone who`s torn between Trump and our nominee on October 25th, treat that as the most important conversation you`re ever going to have.

And you put up my quote, this is important, somebody who holds their nose to vote counts the same in the final tally as someone who`s got a bumper sticker on their car.


PLOUFFE: And we have to understand that. The people who will decide this election are going to be conflicted about voting, about voting for a candidate. Can politics change? We`ve just got to get enough of them to say at least in this election send this guy packing.

WILLIAMS: How do you surmount the barriers to voting? We saw, you and I did last night, live in real time the lines, the broken down machines, the slow check-in. how does the Democratic nominee circumvent that?

PLOUFFE: Well, first of all, any place where Democrats control the machinery we`d better improve.

PLOUFFE: Looking at you, California.

PLOUFFE: Yes, California. But, you know, we have secretaries of state and governors too now in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, oh, important states.


PLOUFFE: Let`s make sure we`re properly prepared for the election. But we`ve got to organize. OK?

So first of all, a lot of states do have early voting. Encourage people to vote early so they don`t have to worry about lines, particularly if they can vote by mail. And prepare people for lines.

If you think there`s going to be lines suddenly, prepare them. Make sure that they account for that, for child care, taking time off work. Nothing more tragic than someone who goes in line to vote for your candidate in a razor thin race and people have to leave.

And ultimately Democrats have to win more races in more places. So in red states and purple states we can control more of the machinery. It can actually not just stop bad things from happening but make it easier to vote.

WILLIAMS: Using words that I think may be algorithmic, they`re so stinging, the Bloomberg campaign became instantly overnight kind of super trolls of Donald Trump on Twitter and in social media realm. Are you confident your party will get use of that mechanism that they`ve set up?

PLOUFFE: Well, you know, campaign finance laws mean they can`t necessarily hand it over. But I think Bloomberg said today he`s going to continue to spend and use that talent and those learnings to support outside efforts. I hope our nominee, whether it`s Biden or Sanders, hires some of the Bloomberg people because they show digital sophistication that we desperately need.

You know, Donald Trump and his campaign, which are run by digital marketers, they understand. What does Trump think about, memes, gifs, after the Soleimani effort the President of the United States, our commander in chief, his first communication was not a speech or a statement, it was a picture of the American flag with no words. Very smart communication. It`s just intuitive to him.

And we`ve got to get smart. And the Bloomberg people -- the other thing I liked about them is they just punched him in the mouth. Donald Trump`s a bully.


PLOUFFE: You`ve got to punch right back.

WILLIAMS: I know you`re embarking on a book tour. We feel very fortunate to have you visit us to talk about this. Last question, if on your way out of the studio tonight your phone lights up, it`s a Delaware area code, and it`s Joe Biden saying work for me, short-term contract, I`ll give you a computer and a cubicle, work for me, would you be drafted? Would you accept?

PLOUFFE: Well, I think my wife`s watching this. So I can talk about this honestly and directly. You know, I think we all, as I say, all of us have to do more than we`ve ever thought. If there`s something I can do useful in the general election for a nominee, I have to strongly consider it.

Now, that may just be bringing donuts to volunteers. You know, I`m kind of a dinosaur in this business. I don`t know how to use TikTok really. So the next generation needs to lead us there. But I want to be as helpful as I can.

WILLIAMS: Stay away from TikTok. It gets into your photos. David Plouffe, that`s the closest thing we`re going to get. Strongly consider. Here`s a guy who spent way too many hours around politician.

This new book is "A Citizen`s Guide to Beating Donald Trump." We`re very happy to have had the author here with us tonight.

Another break for us. Coming up, one campaign has been counting on the young folks to help defeat Donald Trump. Super Tuesday turnout, however, tells a different story.



SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In terms of young people, I mean, one of the issues that should be talked about, to his credit, and I wish we could do better, Joe Biden is doing very, very well with people 65 or older. We`re not. We`re doing phenomenally well with people 30 or under.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Why are fewer young people turning out in 2020 with you on the ballot?

SANDERS: I mean, what I will tell you is that in Iowa we tripled -- we increased by 33 percent the number of young people who are participating. I`m not familiar with these statistics. I really haven`t seen them. But it is no -- look, this is the challenge that we have.


WILLIAMS: On the other hand, Joe Biden`s win last night was stunning. He picked up 10 states out of 14. California yet to be awarded. He carved in effect a path from the Atlantic seaboard clear on over to the Mexican border with additional real estate to the north. No one was prepared for last night`s outcome. Not Biden. Certainly not Bernie, and not Donald Trump.

Back with us again tonight, Christina Bellantoni. She`s a veteran of the "Los Angeles Times" where she was assistant managing editor for politics. She`s seen the light, however, and is now a professor of journalism at USC and the Director of the school`s Annenberg Media Center. And we welcome back Errin Haines, a ten-year veteran of the "Associated Press", who has also seen the light. She`s now Editor-at-Large for the 19th, a non-profit, non-partisan newsroom focused on gender, politics, and policy. And excitedly, we can say it launches this summer.

Christina, I`d like to begin with you. And I heard my friend Conan Nolan of KNBC say the following, so I`ll say this to be fair. L.A. County has 10 million people living in it. He said only eight states have greater populations than that of L.A. County. So we`ll establish that before I ask you the following. How`s the vote counting going and when are we going to learn who won the California primary?

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, FMR. LOS ANGESLES TIMES ASST. MANAGING EDITOR FOR POLITICS: I`ve been trying to prepare people for several weeks of counting for a long time. In the end, this is a good thing, right? We have one of the places that makes it as easy as possible to vote. We had vote centers that were open for 24 hours.

Now, the "L.A. Times" has some terrific reporting right now about kind of what went wrong yesterday, particularly with the technology. You know, effectively they consolidated 4,500-plus locations down into less than 1,000. When that happens, you`re going to have problems. They were understaffed locations. There were problems with the way that the ballot printed out. You know, but there also were a lot of successes.

And, you know, everybody hates to see people still in line and waiting to vote. But at the same time it`s heartening to know that people want to do that. And I just think here in California you vote for five weeks. You can vote by mail. You can register to vote the same day. You know, there`s a lot of ability to participate in democracy here. And so that`s one of the reasons it takes so long, because so many millions of people actually do it.

WILLIAMS: Erin, as I tried to say at the top of the broadcast, the Biden victory was not about the establishment. It was the opposite of big money. It was no money. It was, if anything, about people and one in particular, a veteran congressman from South Carolina who gave the most personal, the most endorse -- the most emotional political endorsement we have seen in years if not decades. Talk about what motivated the African-American vote last night, which in turn seems to have motivated a whole lot of other votes.

ERRIN HAINES, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE 19TH: Absolutely, Brian. So, I`ve been writing for months that electability, the case for electability is really not so much about the candidate as it is black voters. The person who black voters say is electable is the person that makes the case for electability. And I think overwhelmingly what we have seen in the last 72 hours is that the candidate that most black voters feel is electable is Joe Biden.

And, you know, that`s not just true of last night. Joe Biden has a 50-year relationship with black voters. Black voters are who got him into politics and who sustained him in his political career, you know, for seven terms in the Senate. And so, he`s long been counting on black voters to deliver for him, and they did it again in South Carolina and across Super Tuesday, mainly because -- you know, as much as -- there were certainly people who loved Joe Biden, who felt familiar with him, who felt that like Representative Clyburn said that he knew them and they knew him, but there`s also a sense of responsibility that is looming over this election with the black voters that I talked to.

For them, you know, with the priority for them being to oust President Donald Trump in November, they are squarely focused on that goal. And for them, at least at this point, Joe Biden is the person that they see as being able to help them achieve that goal.

WILLIAMS: Christina, a whole lot of Democrats chose to run for President and not run for Senate seats in their states that are opening up. I ask this because Steve Bullock in Montana having abandoned his presidential campaign has apparently decided to run for Senate. A lot of Democrats were harrumphing about this today saying we`d love to have known back then. Do you think the dynamic, I`m starting to read about is going to happen, where people have enough confidence that Biden`s going to head the ticket that they feel it`s safe to come out?

BELLANTONI: That`s interesting. You know, I don`t know all of the filing deadlines off-hand but I would guess we`re getting pretty close in some states, so I don`t know how many people are going to stand forward. I will tell you that Democrats in every circle that I have sources in have been breathing a sigh of relief, since Saturday night but especially since last night. They, you know, weren`t sure that Biden was the strongest of the field, but they were very confident that having Sanders at the top of the ticket would heart their chances for taking back the Senate and then also to hold on to the House, that they could lose numbers in the House and even lose it.

And there`s a real strong concern even here in California. You know, there are seven Republican congressional seats that switched over to the Democrats in 2018 during the midterm elections and there are several Republicans who are actually right now, and again very early in the counting are leading in their races. We have this weird top two primary here. So I think a lot of the Democrats are really saying, OK, if it`s Biden at the top of that ticket, we have a better opportunity. Again, it`s a long way to the election.

WILLIAMS: And Errin, here`s the headline which you well know from your latest piece. "Female activists set their sights on the number 2 spot. They want a woman as Vice President." But there`s a subheadline here, Errin. What else do they want?

HAINES: Well, they`re looking for a return on their investment, right? Women are looking to be valued for their input as well as their output. And I think we just saw at least that former Vice President Biden understands that message. In the last debate he said that he would put a black woman on the Supreme Court if he was elected. So I think that candidates understand that they`re going to need to respond to women, even if there are no women candidates in the race, they are still the majority of the electorate and will have something to say about who is the nominee and who is elected in November.

WILLIAMS: Our thanks to two friends of this broadcast, Christina Bellantoni and Errin Haines. Thank you both for coming on. We realize everybody`s exhausted because we are too.

Coming up for us after a break, an update on the effort to stop coronavirus in this country, including unusual voting advice that was handed out.


WILLIAMS: We are back with our look at the coronavirus and the numbers grew again today. There are now roughly 150 active cases, 13 states. There have been 11 deaths. Tonight, officials in New Jersey announced the first presumptive positive case in the state. Governor Phil Murphy said the patient is a man in his 30s. He`s been in the hospital since yesterday.

New York reporting nine new cases. All connected to one commuter who tested positive on Tuesday. Total of 11 cases have been reported in New York State so far. Hours after California reported its first death related to coronavirus, the governor declared a state of emergency.

Tomorrow, Mike Pence flies to Washington State, where over 40 cases have been reported. It`s gotten bad enough that they warn voters not to lick the envelopes of their mail-in ballots. Think of it. Makes sense. Today, the House passed a nearly $8 billion funding bill to fight coronavirus. Now heads to the Senate, where it could be voted on later this week.

Meanwhile, the CDC has broadened the guidelines for testing today. Now anyone with symptoms like a fever or cough can be tested as long as the doctor signs off on it.

With us tonight, Joseph Fair, he`s a virologist with the American society for microbiology and is of course our science contributor. Thank you for coming. First question, because of the testing snafu, is there a built-in delay that`s going to result should we prepare people for a bubble now, a kind of a spike in known cases?

JOSEPH FAIR, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: We presumably will see a spike in cases. We`ll presumably see more cases when we roll out broader testing. However, that should not necessarily be cause for alarm because it is expected and the majority of individuals are mild to moderate cases that present cold or flu-like symptoms that you normally would handle on your own at your house.

WILLIAMS: Folks are going to see this as I keep saying as their reality on local news. And our reality here in New York, a guy who works a few blocks from here, takes the train in from New Rochelle upstate, has apparently infected his family, a person who took him to the hospital. That is the definition of community spread, correct?

FAIR: It is indeed. And this virus in particular, we know it infects two to three people per person. So you can expect every person that that person came into contact with, that they infected, they`ll further infect another two to three people. So that`s what we would define as community spread.

WILLIAMS: I know you get asked this a lot, but it`s our job to keep asking and keep saying it. How should people behave? How should they live their lives at this point based on what we know right now?

FAIR: For the vast majority of Americans right now, keep calm and carry on. We should all be in a state of heightened public health and hygiene. So wash your hands very rigorously. Pay attention to what you`re touching, surfaces, elevator buttons, handrails like you mentioned on the subway, wiping down your seats on the airplane, tray tables, when you exit the bathroom keeping a physical barrier between yourself. That being said, if you are in that vulnerable category, if you are immunologically compromised or if you`re in the high-risk category, it`s best to probably avoid unnecessary public gatherings or travel.

WILLIAMS: I know you`re not an economist, but when United Airlines announces as they did today, 10 percent cut in domestic, 20 percent in overseas, they`re offering their employees to volunteer for unpaid leave, they`re going to park a bunch of aircraft, that gets heard by the public.

FAIR: Sure.

WILLIAMS: And now that means more people are going to be herded onto crowded planes where the CDC tells us the virus can live for 24 hours on your seatback tray table. So that`s going to be a concern.

FAIR: It`s going to be a concern, but there are things we can do about that. You know, for example, an airplane is cleaned every time you get off that airplane. But cleaning doesn`t mean disinfecting.


FAIR: However, it`s a very simple step. It`s very low cost. Just adding some disinfectant and wiping down those tray tables and wiping down those seats in those bathrooms that will greatly enhance our chances of staying safe on an airplane. It`s not spread through the vents. It`s not spread through airborne transmission. So you do have to come into direct contact with the virus.

So either through a cough or a sneeze which contacts your mouth, nose or face or through what we call a fomite which would be like your tray table and you`ve touched it with your hand, the virus is still living and you then you`ve been touched your face and infect yourself.

WILLIAMS: We`re going to be seeing a lot of each other. Thank you very much for taking our questions.

FAIR: Thank you, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Joseph Fair, our guest tonight.

Coming up, the unnerving moment that reminded us of the risks of running for president in the modern era.





WILLIAMS: Anti-dairy protesters. The Vice President`s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, had no problem fending off the second protester before more help could arrive. Biden`s Senior Advisor Symone Sanders leapt up on that stage, went to work removing that protester. Afterwards she said only this, "I broke a nail #SuperTuesday."

Last night`s scare prompted immediate talk over the need for Secret Service protection for Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Indeed today, Congressman Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, urged DHS to immediately consider Secret Service protection for the candidates.

We`re happy to welcome back with us tonight, Josh King. He is a veteran advance man for the Clinton White House, has written extensively about the stagecraft of the presidency. He is the author of "Off Script: An Advanced Man`s Guide To White House Stagecraft, Campaign Spectacle, And Political Suicide." Welcome back. What was your reaction? You`re at home watching last night while we were on the air.

JOSH KING, FMR. DIRECTOR OF PRODUCTION FOR PRESIDENTIAL EVENTS: Yes, Brian. I was kind of surprised that neither of these two front-running campaigns yet had a Secret Service detail. Of course, historian like you, person like me thinks back to May 15th, 1972, Laurel, Maryland. Arthur Bremer, the assassination attempt against George Wallace in a shopping center in a campaign event like this. And Wallace spends the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

You can`t -- campaigns begin in this sort of rustic areas in Iowa and New Hampshire. They`re in living rooms. You don`t need a six-person Secret Service --

WILLIAMS: And you don`t want it.

KING: And you don`t want it. And campaigns are so connected with their candidates. Billy`s the driver and Johnny`s the advance man and Betty, you know, makes the cookies. And suddenly you have, when the candidate gets their first threats, the first appearance of a six-person detail and suddenly there`s a 10-person buffer between -- a 10-foot buffer between the candidate and the first audience member. But you saw last night that if that buffer existed and if there were post-standers on either side of the stage, those people would have never gone on that stage last night.

WILLIAMS: You and I together have known probably four or five of the former directors of PPD, the Presidential Protective Detail. I don`t know that I`ve met better people --

KING: Yes.

WILLIAMS: -- of those four and five. And we`ve been -- we`ve spent a good deal of time around them. Both of these guys, Biden and Sanders, know from Secret Service details.

KING: That`s right.

WILLIAMS: The Bidens` house in Delaware has alterations made to it because he spent eight years of his life --

KING: Right.

WILLIAMS: -- cohabitating with these guys.

KING: Right.

WILLIAMS: So it wouldn`t be as cultural a shock to a family as it normally would be.

KING: And by law the outgoing Vice President gets six months of Secret Service protection when they leave office. That would have expired in early 2017. And perhaps Joe and Jill Biden enjoyed the contact that they had -- the close contact that they had with people through this part of the campaign.

And look, I watched the first 45 minutes of your broadcast tonight and last night, that long night you that spent here analyzing the results. A week ago, Vice President Biden was getting ready to pack those bags and go back to Wilmington, Delaware --


KING: -- and never need Secret Service protection again. And suddenly that sort of historic weekend from South Carolina into Pete Buttigieg`s announcement and endorsement in his speech on Sunday and then this amazing day in Dallas on Monday, three successive endorsements, and suddenly you go from a person who`s about to retire and pack their bags to a person who can command a 15,000-person rally the next day. This is when the Secret Service -- when the United States Secret Service has to mount a detail drawing agents from around their field offices, not PPD or VPPD level yet but a group that can create the buffer, create the safe zone for both Senator Sanders and Vice President Biden.

WILLIAMS: In 30 seconds or less, what`s about to happen to the Biden campaign? All of last night`s victories virtually for free. They`re getting money now by the wheelbarrow. They need advance teams, guys like you --

KING: Yes.

WILLIAMS: -- to go out and do a couple of events.

KING: Well, it`s interesting. If you take a look, you know, the Bloomberg campaign didn`t achieve a whole lot for all the money that they spent. But if you analyze the quality of their events, the way everything looked, the way everything was managed, the way the candidate himself before he even opened his mouth, looked, he looked quite presidential, Mike Bloomberg did.

Vice President Biden, Senator Sanders, you analyze the video and still photography of their rallies, it still looks like an Iowa caucus situation. These guys need to look presidential. Suddenly you`re going to see bigger crowds, better designed venues, and more secure buffer.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for coming back on.

KING: Anytime, Brian.

WILLIAMS: We will always call you when the subject arises. Our friend Josh King.

Coming up, the warning light that started flashing on Super Tuesday. We`ll talk about it after this.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight is about last night. And it`s about a big problem we saw playing out in the studio during our live coverage. Voting in this country is a right and not a privilege. People have fought and died for that right. And efforts to restrict that right never seem to end. And they`ve got to be stopped when we see them.

The lines in Texas and California were incredible. One man, Hervis Rogers, in Texas waited seven hours to vote and he was late for his night shift job as a result. Our report on the long lines from NBC News Correspondent Cynthia McFadden.


CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, NBC NEWS SENIOR LEGAL AND INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This seemingly endless line in Los Angeles last night wasn`t for the latest blockbuster. These people were waiting to vote. Hours and hours and hours of waiting. All over Los Angeles County, voters had a particularly tough time casting their ballots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Folks who were at the front of this line here, I`d say have been here about 2.5 hours now.

MCFADDEN (voice-over): And so did thousands of people in Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve been sitting out here for five hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This must be what voter suppression looks like.

MCFADDEN (voice-over): Both Houston and L.A. made the same change this year, going from neighborhood polling stations to super vote centers, designed to make voting easier. In Harris County, Texas over 350 polling places were eliminated. In L.A. County, a whopping 3,500 gone.

EDDIE PEREZ, OSET INSTITUTE: If you don`t put the new vote centers in the right location and if you misjudge the traffic you`re going to have, you overtax your staff and you can just have a real mess.

MCFADDEN (voice-over): And there`s more. Troubles with L.A. County`s brand new voting machines that had cost taxpayers $300 million.

KATY TUR, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: There are only five voting stations in there. Three of them are working. One has been out of commission for four days. The other one had a paper jam.

MCFADDEN (voice-over): Despite warnings that the system had problems, the machines were rolled out for the primary. The L.A. County supervisor is calling for an investigation. Everybody agrees about one thing. Whatever your politics, it shouldn`t be this hard to vote. Not in America.

Cynthia McFadden, NBC News, New York.


WILLIAMS: That is our broadcast for this Wednesday night. We thank you for being here with us. Good night from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.                                                                                                     END