BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening on this day 1,203 of the Trump administration. 181 days to go until our next Presidential Election.
The President has adopted the use of a Scorsesean phrase to sum up our sorry circumstances as a country these days. Yesterday he said about the state of the U.S. economy and unemployment, "it is what it is."
Today when asked about the death toll he again said, "it is what it is." adding 70,000 sounds correct to him. Just yesterday the President announced he was winding down the coronavirus task force. Even though the pandemic is just now ramping up in some places, with the largest spike in new cases now in Nebraska and Minnesota.
The President seemed fine with winding it down. Mike Pence, who runs the task force, of course seemed fine with doing away with the task force. Until today, when the President said he didn`t know how popular the task force was and said he`s decided he`s going to keep it around.
The virus continues to churn across our country in tandem with the trend of reopening businesses and entire states. Despite the Johns Hopkins expert who just today testified that none of the states reopening have met all of the White House guidelines for reopening. And despite opinion polls showing a majority of Americans are not at all ready or willing to go back to life and events as normal as we knew them.
Indeed, in the real world tonight the death toll across our country stands at 73,863 souls lost to this virus. There are now among the small percentage tested more than 1.2 million confirmed cases. The number of new cases is rising in nearly half of our country. Those are the states in orange on this map. The green states are where the number of cases are falling. Some 36 states have now reopened in some form or fashion. Former Director of the CDC was asked about that during a House committee hearing this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: It will be tragically at least 100,000 deaths from COVID at the end of this month. As bad as this has been, it`s just the beginning.
REPRESENTATIVE ROSA DELAURO (D) CONNECTICUT APPROPRIATION SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIR: Is it irresponsible to open the economy without adequate testing?
FRIEDEN: We need to continue to rapidly ramp up our ability to do all of the four things I mentioned. Not just tests but also isolate people who are infected, contact trace and quarantine. By having all of those things in place we can come out safer and sooner. And we start our economy without a risk of explosive spread.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Dr. Fauci was supposed to testify at that hearing as well, but he was blocked by the White House.
New reporting from Politico reveals that even as the President has pushed to reopen this country federal officials are worried. Politico obtained audio recordings of three conference call meetings held between 24 April and 1st of May led by HHS and FEMA officials. They talked about medical supplies and a possible new outbreak as restrictions are lifted.
Politico says a May 1st conference call started with the head of the CDC`s influenza division warning "the numbers of deaths definitely will be high." While this afternoon Trump was asked about the risk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the nation just have to accept the idea that by reopening there will be more cases, there will be more deaths?
DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: So I call these people warriors. And I`m actually calling them, John, as you know the nation warriors. Hopefully that won`t be the case, John, but that could very well be the case. We can`t have our whole country out. We can`t do it. The country won`t take it, won`t stand it. It`s not sustainable. If somebody lost somebody, a parent or a wife or a husband or, you know, any brothers, sisters, if you lost someone, you can never make up for that by saying wow, you`re going to have a great year next year economically. And so you will never do that. But I will say from an economic standpoint I think next year`s going to be a very big year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Trump made those comments during an Oval Office event to honor nurses where he was also asked about the need for testing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have more case, we`re going to do more testing. If I don`t do testing we don`t have any cases. So as do more testing they say but you have more cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, the White House task force that we were told yesterday was going away, as we mentioned, came roaring back into existence today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I thought we could wind it down sooner. But I had no idea how popular the task force is, until actually yesterday. When I started talking about winding it down. I got calls from very respected people saying, I think it would be better to keep it going. It`s done such a good job. I would say by Monday we`ll be announcing two or three new members to the task force.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Those new task force members may be challenged on the darkest aspect of this pandemic, and that is the growing death toll.
Axios reporting the President has complained to advisers about the way the coronavirus death toll is being calculated, suggesting the real numbers are actually lower and that a number of his senior aides share this view. One high-level official "expects the President to begin publicly questioning the death toll as it closes in on his predictions for the final death count and damages him politically." Trump was also asked about that report this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The death toll figures in the United States, over 70,000. Do you believe those figures?
TRUMP: Well, I think it is what it is from you saying it`s 70,000. It`s approximately now 70,000. I don`t imagine there would be a very big variation. No, it`s a big number. But it`s also a number that`s at the lower scale. I think Deborah, you could say it`s at the very lower scale of any number that was predicted. Because if you look at the predictions I guess they said from 100,000 to 220,000. That`s if we did the big shut-ins and if we went to the total shutdown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Tonight the nation`s most populous state preparing to reopen. On Friday California will start lifting parts of its stay-at-home order, which has been in effect for nearly two months. This is happening even as the state grapples with rising numbers of cases in L.A. and the bay area. California reported more than 2,600 new confirmed cases of the virus yesterday.
We begin our lead-off discussion in just a moment. But first we are pleased to be joined live by Eric Garcetti, Democratic Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, California.
Mr. Mayor, because to my mind the testing plan you have launched in L.A. County is the biggest and boldest of its type in the nation. I want to start by asking you to listen along with our audience to the new White House Press Secretary and what she had to say about testing in this country. We`ll talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why shouldn`t all Americans who go back to work be able to get the test before they do to feel comfortable in their own work environment, to be interacting with other individuals?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Let`s dismiss a myth about tests right now. If we tested every single American in this country at this moment, we`d have to retest them an hour later and an hour later after that because at any moment you could theoretically contract this virus. So the notion that everyone needs to be tested is just simply nonsensical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Mr. Mayor, as someone who`s in the middle of attempting to test 10 million people, why is she wrong in this case?
MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI, (D) LOS ANGELES: Well, it`s become a cliche on shows like this to say more testing, more testing, more testing. But it`s because public health professionals tell us this is a silent killer. It`s not just about first responders and medical personnel and people with symptoms who of course should always be our first priority. But it`s also about finding those people who are not exhibiting symptoms, who can walk through us, walk through crowds and workplaces and spread this without us knowing.
And so that`s why I`m proud Los Angeles was the first big city to offer widespread testing for people with and without symptoms, because it gives us a chance to know, find those folks, find who they`ve interacted with and not just bend the curve but chase down those cases quickly, isolate them and help us get to a place where we can better protect from death people and better prepare for an economy that doesn`t suffer so much.
WILLIAMS: In New York the Governor and the Mayor have in plain English a horrendous relationship. You guys in California seem to have it much better. Though I`m guessing there are areas where as a city you`re going to have to disagree with and supersede the governor`s slow rollout plan to reopen aspects of the economy, correct?
GARCETTI: We have a beautiful relationship with Governor Newsom and myself. Good friends, great working relationship. And that extends throughout the state with my fellow mayors and supervisors here in L.A. County. Where we disagree is not actually disagreement. The state says you can go if this far but it`s important for local leaders to know states will recommend you can but you don`t have to go that far.
If your conditions on the ground say your hospital admissions are up, your test capacity, your tracing capacity isn`t enough, go slow is my advice. Nobody`s going to be overly criticized for going too slow even though we see protests and things like that.
In the long term history will write the chapters of those who walk forward the right way. So we`re taking some baby steps this weekend in our parks telling people they can go back to trails with masks on. And didn`t change a single rule, you can`t gather way group of friends, still just the people you`re co-habitating with.
We`re doing some pickup for retail. In the same way we`ve done for food, we`ll do that for bookstores and music stores but not for people inside those stores yet. So I think we have to get rid of this idea of black and white open and closed. We`re going to be somewhat open and somewhat closed for the next year plus and you have to manage that carefully and don`t be afraid to go a little slower than national or state regulations allow, but we have a great relationship out here in California.
WILLIAMS: Another New York reference only because of the comparable populations. The mayor of New York guesses he`s going to have to lay off city employees because of the gap between funding. Are you getting what you need from the feds thus far? How much do you fear you`re going to need from the federal government?
GARCETTI: I want to praise the federal help we`ve gotten whether it`s the Naval Ship Mercy or whether it is some of the help that they`ve given us to house our homeless and feed our seniors. And we need to make sure we get fiscal help, not just reimbursements for the costs of COVID-19 but local and state governments are $3.1 trillion that are spent locally. That`s not only jobs for those workers who work for local governments but those dollars get recycled four or five times. And the majority of that is in the social safety net to catch people in bad times like this so they don`t suffer more.
Public safety and firefighters and police officers need to stay on the front lines in this fight. And also folks like our public health workers who are literally the ones saving lives. So we can`t turn this into a partisan issue. Cities are run by Republicans, Independents, and Democrats. And we are all together in saying we need to make sure that the next round funds cities and states for what they have lost so that we don`t have more layoffs, we don`t have furloughs like we proposed here in Los Angeles, a 10% furlough, that means 10% less service, 10% less people, 10% less economic engine here. And we have to make sure that part of our recovery is not just in the private sector but the public sector as well.
WILLIAMS: Thank you for spending part of your 8:00 p.m. hour with us on THE 11TH HOUR out east. Mayor Eric Garcetti of the city of Los Angeles. Thank you so much for your time.
And here now for our lead-off discussion on a Wednesday night Phil Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-Winning White House Bureau Chief for the Washington Post, co-author along with his Post colleague Carol Leonnig of the best-seller, A Very Stable Genius. Also with us, Jill Colvin, White House Reporter for the Associate Associated Press. And Dr. Kavita Patel. She served as Senior Aide to Valerie Jarrett in the Obama White House, advising on matters of health reform, financial regulatory reform, economic recovery issues. Also happens to be a clinical physician. And among our medical contributors.
And Dr. Patel, you are the guest I`d like to begin this segment with, what about what the White House Press Secretary said about testing, that in effect it is merely a snapshot in time, you could test people an hour later after an exposure and get a different result, the bottom line being why bother testing every American?
DR. KAVITA PATEL, FORMER AIDE TO VALERIE JARRETT IN THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: Well, it`s just simply not true, Brian. First of all, I think we all have come to a realization that we simply don`t even have enough tests for a percentage of Americans, much less all Americans. So the fact of the matter is that we don`t have enough testing, period. And that to kind of offer this contrast you that know, talking about testing is nonsensical when we clearly don`t even really understand what the extent of the disease is in our country. We already know that in parts of our country we are woefully undertesting. And if we are thinking about safely reopening you heard it from Dr. Frieden and many other experts just today that we can`t do that without testing.
And at this point we`re testing about 200,000 people a day, and that is about at least half of what we need. So trying to kind of obfuscate the argument by talking about testing every American and it looking different an hour later, well, at this point I think we need to at least have some sort of testing strategy.
And, Brian, to be really honest about it, what we need to do is ask the administration why are we having such gaps in testing? We have been talking about this for weeks and months now. What is it we need to do to get a real coordinated effort and to deal with the shortfalls?
WILLIAMS: It`s a fair question. We`ve got it that we now have a much larger supply of ventilators. Testing remains the outlier.
Hey, Jill Colvin, it was a minor fleeting moment in the White House Press Secretary`s presentation today. She made sure to say that the job of the members of the coronavirus task force was saving the lives of American people. Maybe because the President earlier had mentioned its popularity as a reason for keeping it open. What do you know about the less than 24-hour turnaround in the fate and fortune of the White House coronavirus task force?
JILL COLVIN, ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It was very much a reversal in the past 24 hours. We had the President yesterday saying, and the Vice President also telling reporters that the plan was for the task force to basically phase out. They were giving us exact dates, saying sometime between Memorial Day and early June they intended for it to sort of fade out as they entered this new phase.
But the President received a lot of pushback in the hours before he appeared in front of reporters today including seeing some of the media reports critical of that decision. And that influenced calls he received, he said, that made him decide to shift his language. And he said instead that the task force would continue on in perpetuity. He said he might change the composition of the task force but that it would continue to meet. This really seems to be a rhetorical shift more than anything else.
For weeks now we have been told that the task force was going to be given a much less public-facing role. These individuals, they`re members of Trump`s administration. Dr. Birx will still be there. The Vice President, his staff will still be meeting. It`s just a question of how they choose to present that publicly.
WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, the virus is still growing. And as I mentioned, the latest concerning case spikes are in states like Minnesota and Nebraska. Is there any hint of a kind of perverse buyer`s remorse inside the Trump White House after banging the drum for get out there and reopen as long as they have?
PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Brian, they`re looking at data here that is quite alarming and disturbing. The rhetoric you hear from the President is that we turned a corner here, light is at the end of the tunnel, Americans have been warriors by staying home for all of these weeks but now it`s time to get back out there, spend money, go to restaurants, get back into your offices, go to hair salons and so forth. But the death count continues to climb. We now have as you said at the top of the show more than 70,000 people dead in America. We`re likely to have over 100,000 dead by the end of the move May. And there`s not any sign of this ending anytime soon even as the numbers in New York City start to come down. They`re going up elsewhere.
And that`s a real dilemma for this administration. But you`ve seen the President basically adopted a mantra this week that, you know, deaths are going to continue and that`s a sacrifice that Americans need to make to get back out there into the economy and reopen the economy and get these numbers reversed and get people back to work.
WILLIAMS: Our whole gang has agreed to stay on with us for another round of questioning. Our thanks as well belatedly to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti for starting us off.
Coming up as we approach our first break, the latest White House response to the latest warning signs about lost jobs and cratering businesses.
And later, three months ago a prominent name in the Democratic Party told us he was scared to death about the coming election. Tonight we`ll explain his new optimism on that front as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting under way on this Wednesday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying now that the supplies are what they need to be?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s -- you talk to my colleagues around the country certainly there are pockets of areas where PPE is not ideal. But this is an unprecedented time. I practice in New Orleans at a community health center. My youngest patient has been four days old, a four-day-old infant. And so PPE has been sporadic. But it`s been manageable. And we do what we have to do. We`re nurses. And we learn to adapt.
TRUMP: Sporadic for you but not sporadic for a lot of other people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no. I agree, Mr. President.
TRUMP: Because I`ve heard the opposite.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.
TRUMP: I`ve heard that they are loaded up with gowns now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: She went on to say she`s been using the same mask for days on end. A nurse who dared to contradict the party line was herself contradicted in real time by the President during an Oval Office event designed to honor nurses on this annual day on the calendar meant to salute them as an occupation.
The President went on to talk about the economy, once again predicting it would rebound much sooner than people think. Hours earlier a new report out from ADP said American companies lost 20 million jobs in the month of April. Worst drop in payrolls in the report`s 18-year history.
Still with us, Phil Rucker, Jill Colvin, Dr. Kavita Patel. Dr. Patel, to you, again, to start us off, your reaction to that scene in the Oval Office. The storyline as the President prefers it is we`re good on PPE, we`ve been surging it to everyone who needs it and the brave nurse who begged to differ.
PATEL: Look, Brian, in medicine we have to rely on facts. And the fact is that we do not have enough protective equipment. Certainly it`s improving over time. But there are still to this day on public websites, non-profits dedicated to getting protective gear to health care workers. Still daily pleas for help. And as you heard, people are reusing their equipment, which is absolutely not the science. The science and data tell us that every time you interact with somebody, even the same patient, that the minute you step away you should be actually changing out your protective gear. We realize that that`s just not possible given how many interactions there are between a caretaker, a professional and a patient. So it is troubling.
And again, the data is what it is. Not only do we not have enough but this certainly speaks to this issue around the globe about supply chain and just in general this leads to why we have a shortage in testing. And all of the other issues that I think many health professionals such as myself have been bringing up.
WILLIAMS: Jill Colvin, we`ve been showing for weeks now the aerial pictures, the lines at food banks. And you can go from car to car to car and almost universally people will tell you they never dreamed this is a situation they would be in. And I`m going to quote from a New York Times story. "Among mothers with young children nearly 1/5 say their children are not getting enough to eat. According to a survey from the Brookings Institution, a rate three times as high as in `08 during the worst of the great recession." Jill, are they prepared for the human cost of this? And God forbid you reduce it to its bare minimum, the optics of this.
COLVIN: Yeah, I mean, look, the numbers are horrible. And we`re going to be getting, you know, new economic numbers on Friday. Administration officials like Kevin Hassett have now spent days trying to sort of prepare us, warning that these are going to be the worst jobs numbers that we`ve ever seen. Or at least at any time in any of our lifetimes. And this is the drumbeat that the White House is looking at as they try to, you know, put together this balancing act of the economic costs of this, what it means to have people not being able to go to work, not being able to buy food for their children, and the opportunities and costs of opening up the country.
And the President, however, has really talked about some kind of economic snap that`s going to happen, that as soon as, you know, the rainbow is lifted there will be this magical moment where everything will go back to normal and he`s predicting a very good third quarter, a fabulous fourth quarter, predicting that 2021 will have even greater economic growth than last year did. And economists are telling him that is just not how this is going to work. Even if businesses begin to reopen, that doesn`t mean that jobs that were lost magically will come back online. It doesn`t mean Americans will feel comfortable going to the grocery stores, going to stores, resuming life like it used to be.
WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, we started about a Scorsese reference. It`s time to transition to a Coppola. What happens when the President goes to the mattresses? What does this campaign look like? If he is without his ace, the most effective tool in his toolbox is to run on a vibrant and humming economy. What will that campaign look like?
RUCKER: You know, Brian, even when the economy was vibrant and humming we assumed that this was going to be the ugliest campaign in recent times. And that`s because President Trump signaled as much, that now with the economy in free fall and him not able to run on the strength of the economy I think it`s going to get even uglier because what Trump has to do now, what he`s planning to do, what his strategists are telling us they`re working on and to really destroy Joe Biden, to run a campaign of character assassination against the former Vice President and disqualify Biden in the minds of so many of these voters so that people will vote for Trump.
The polling that we have seen month after month through this pandemic has been very bad for Trump. People do not approve of his job performance in this crisis. They do not approve of his leadership, of his character, of his compassion and empathy. And so in order to win Trump`s going to have to tear down Biden. And we already see his campaign operatives beginning to lay plans to do so.
WILLIAMS: Our thanks to our guests from medicine and journalism. Phil Rucker, Jill Colvin, Dr. Kavita Patel. Greatly appreciate you hanging out with us tonight.
And coming up, after declaring himself a wartime President, Donald Trump says his warriors are the Americans he needs to get out and help restart the economy. Does that indicate an undue sacrifice by our sheltering masses? Assessing the political strategy of that particular approach, when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody that needs a test gets a test. They`re there. They have the test.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: That was exactly two months ago today at CDC headquarters, when the president made that claim. It wasn`t true on that day. It remains untrue as we speak tonight. And a reminder, just 2 percent of our population`s actually been tested. And the press secretary today in the briefing room called the idea of testing everybody "nonsensical."
So on that note, we are happy to welcome back two returning veterans tonight. James Carville, veteran Democratic strategist, who rose to national fame with the Clinton presidential campaign, co-host of the 2020 Politics War Room podcast. And Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the "Washington Post".
So James, I`m glad we caught you before your fitting for your Kevlar COVID warrior suit. I want to read you this from Chris Megerian in the "L.A. Times". And we quote. "In recent days, Trump has begun describing citizens as warriors in the battle against the pandemic and suggested some of those fighters might have to die if that will help boost the economy. The new language shows Trump appears to views people as collateral damage to salvage the economy, says Jeffrey Levi, a public health expert at George Washington University."
James, is this a big part of why you`re suddenly optimistic about the Democratic chances six months from now?
JAMES CARVILLE, VETERAN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I was optimistic because every election since he`s been elected, we`ve won. You know, every poll, we`re ahead. I mean, there`s nothing but overwhelming evidence. And look what his campaign is doing. They`re pack of grifters. His campaign manager`s got two condos, a Ferrari, a yacht, a Range Rover. And they`re all just fleecing the campaign. It`s just about making money. And they`re going in and giving him fake polls. They`re going right off of the story.
I mean, this whole thing is just like a crumbling empire right before your eyes. Everybody is trying to take everything they can get on the way out and they`re trying to prop him up so they all can make money. And I -- you know, it`s amazing as you watch it gets unfold.
WILLIAMS: And James, when Phil Rucker talks about when you remove the economy as something for him to run on, do you worry about what folks are going to resort to in this campaign, which we already know isn`t going to look like any campaign we in the modern era have ever seen?
CARVILLE: Well, the only thing I worry about is they`re messing with the right to vote. As long as there`s anything close to a level playing field, I really don`t care what they`re going to do. They were going to lose before this hit. They`re just going to lose worse now. And they all know it. And they`re all getting profiles written of themselves, I saw them, Blaise Pascal with the campaign manager, whatever his name is, all over "The New York Times" magazine posing for pictures. I mean, this whole thing is gone. I mean, Oracle of Orangeburg can tell you that. He`s right there with me. You know, maybe it`s just crumbling right before our very eyes.
WILLIAMS: Eugene, in addition to having the best kitchen ceiling in Louisiana, the guy does have a way with words.
Eugene, you yourself wrote this week that the new normal is already here. Tell our viewers who didn`t have the privilege of reading your column what you mean.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Well, look, we`re set adrift by this White House, right? The White House has abdicated its responsibility to do the kind of surveillance testing, and kind of real testing we need to move forward toward reopening the economy on a scientific basis, on a safe basis. And they`ve checked out basically and said just let the states handle, let the mayors handle it. And let individuals handle it.
And so we`re just all going to have to make decisions ourselves about what we consider safe, what we don`t consider safe. State and local governments, some regional compacts are getting together and they all move forward sensibly, I hope, and intelligently, at least some of them.
But this is just a scandalous abdication of responsibility at a critical moment. You know, one other thing. This administration is not participating in a global effort sort of combine to find a vaccine. We`re trying to find a vaccine on our own and whatever. But, there are powerful nations with great scientists joining forces. The United States should be leading that international effort. But of course, this president is not capable of that sort of thing. And so, you know, based on the vaccine first, we`re at the back of the line. I mean, this is just -- this is absurd. I agree with everything captain Carville said. I mean, I think he`s absolutely right. We`re -- the Democrats are in a great position going into this election.
WILLIAMS: As we go to break, I`ll read this from a frequent guest of ours, Tom Nichols. He said this tonight, is the worst of all bad faith assumptions in this pandemic to assume that those of us obeying our states` restrictions and supporting the making of science-based policy are enjoying it and don`t care how long if goes on. It speaks to my contention the people are indoors not because they`ve been ordered to, because they don`t want to get this.
We`re going to fit in a break here. Both gentlemen have agreed to stay with us. Coming up, the role the pandemic is playing and will continue to play in presidential politics, the kind we see every day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You see with the stock market where the stock market`s at 24,000 and we went through the worst attack we`ve ever had on our country. This is really the worst attack we`ve ever had. This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center. There`s never been an attack like this. And it should have never happened. Could have been stopped at the source. Could have been stopped in China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And that last bit right there is part of what`s become the president`s daily diversion to China, as he correctly was lamenting the damage piling up in this country. And a reminder, we`re six months out from the presidential election. New Monmouth University poll from the -- my home county in the great state of New Jersey shows more people would prefer that person nationally to be Joe Biden than Donald Trump, 50 percent to 41 percent.
Still with us, James Carville and Eugene Robinson. And James, I want to ask about your side and the notion of punching back. Should the Biden campaign be holding a daily or thrice weekly, call it a resistance briefing, call it a medical briefing. We haven`t heard from the task force in over a week as it is.
WILLIAMS: On days when the president suggests maybe injecting disinfectant or inserting UV light where the sun normally don`t shine, should there be some reaction from the campaign? Should the Biden group be putting out ads as biting, as the Lincoln group, a bunch of lapsed Republicans?
CARVILLE: Well, first of all, I wrote a piece on NPC, think that, act like a parch. Now, let me tell you, the Lincoln group and the bulwark, these Never Trumper Republicans, the Democrats could learn a lot from them. They`re mean. They fight hard. And we don`t fight like that. We don`t fight like that. The way that you run a presidential campaign is you`re a pirate ship. You`re always calculating. You`re always taking wind speed and direction. You seize and you loot and you burn. And that`s just the way it is. And they`re ineffective. They`re just riding low in the water. They`re all rich. They`re all scamming. They`re all making money.
And my advice is get ready and hit them, hit them, and then hit them again because it don`t matter -- if the Dow is 35,000, he`s not going to win. He wasn`t going to win when unemployment was 3.5 percent. He`s certainly not going to win now. But the idea is not just to beat him. It is to end the scourge of Trumpism in this country forever. And we can do that. It`s within our grasp right now, right now. They`re just fleecing this thing. All they`re trying to do is make money right now. They know what`s going on. Everybody knows what`s happening in this country.
WILLIAMS: Eugene, a great man once reminded a victorious presidential campaign, it`s the economy, stupid. In your view, is it still the economy and is the risk for this president, a guy who has pitched himself to neighborhoods of color in this country the same way he has pitched himself to potential takers of hydroxychloroquine, what do you have to lose? Does he have to worry now that people are going to sit down and figure out exactly what it is they have to lose?
ROBINSON: He has to worry a lot. Because look, I think if the economy were roaring, if it -- you know, it was not as Donald Trump claims the best economy in the history of the United States. But even if it were, he would be in trouble in this election. You know, he and the Republican Party would be in trouble and polls are showing that not just nationally but in the battleground states and Senate races.
And so I think James is right with his sort of Jack Sparrow strategy for what the Democrats ought to be doing. He`s absolutely right. And I may steal some of those for a column because we can learn a lot from that Lincoln group ad and what they`ve been doing. They are really good at this. I`ve preached for years that the Republicans are much better at this sort of punchy, you know, emotional, hard-hitting impactful advertising. They pare down issues to simple -- you know, simple sound bites that people can understand.
Democrats have been not known to do that. They like dependent clauses and rambling -- on rambling sentences, and they do bring in Blaise Pascal. They`ve been -- so they can definitely learn a lot from what the Lincoln group is doing. This is no time to let up. This is time to put pedal to the metal because I think the opportunity is there for a blue tsunami. I really do.
CARVILLE: Yes --
WILLIAMS: You know, I`ll have what these two gentlemen are having. Hey, James, I`ll give you 30 Seconds. What do you got?
CARVILLE: Churchill said, if Hitler invaded hell, I`d side with the devil. Thank you all you neocons, ex-Republicans, Never Trumpers, bulwark people. Come in now and show these guys how to fight. Democrats, get off the conference calls, get out the meeting and go in and take it to them. But, anyway, I love being on with you, Eugene. No patent on any idea of anybody south of the Mason-Dixon line, brother.
ROBINSON: That`s right.
WILLIAMS: Thank you both. James Carville, Eugene Robinson. Gentlemen, it`s always a pleasure. Thanks for coming on.
Coming up, one company struggling to keep up with demand because their product has suddenly become a prized possession during a pandemic.
WILLIAMS: There was one night on this broadcast early on before quarantine started, before the death toll really started to skyrocket. We mentioned that an analyst on CNBC one afternoon said the one stock he was going to watch during this pandemic was Clorox. Indeed, if your family is like ours, like so many others, you`ve been scanning the internet and grocery store shelves for Clorox wipes. One of the products during this COVID era that we never could have dreamed we would need right until we needed them.
Tonight, we hear from the head of the company that is struggling to make up for demand. We get our report from NBC News correspondent Blayne Alexander.
BLAYNE ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For shoppers scrambling to find disinfectant wipes but greeted only by bare shelves, this will be a welcome sight. Clorox factories working overtime to meet a 500 percent spike in demand.
BENNO O. DORER, CLOROX CEO: In some cases, we sold as much in one week as we normally sell in one month. We are in completely unchartered territory and we`re in catch-up mode.
ALEXANDER: Benno O. Dorer is the CEO of Clorox. When will people be able to go to the stores and find products in stock on the shelves?
DORER: We know that right now we cannot make enough products for everybody. We think we will be in a substantially better shape by the summer.
ALEXANDER: June, July, or is that what you`re thinking?
DORER: We`re ramping up supply. The other components, however, is the consumer demand, and that today is outside our control.
ALEXANDER: The company says it has increased production of disinfectants by 40 percent, but that`s still not enough.
DORER: We are shipping products to stores every single day, whether that`s physical stores or online stores, but they`re gone pretty much right when they arrive.
ALEXANDER: Our cameras were not allowed inside Clorox facilities because of health and safety concerns, but the company shared this video with NBC News, a rare look inside its largest factory, churning out giant bleach drums that can clean 14,000 hospital rooms each, and the wipes and sprays that we all use at home.
(on camera): While Clorox is ramping up production, they say that the safety of their nearly 9,000 employees is the priority, so they`re making changes at factories like this one, including staggered breaks, face masks and temperature checks.
Do you consider your employees critical frontline workers, too?
DORER: Yes, we do.
ALEXANDER: Jessica Matthews (ph) is one of them, responsible for making sure the trucks are loaded.
JESSICA MATTHEWS, CLOROX WORKER: You really see how valuable we really are. Before, it`s like, OK, we just make wipes and we clean up, but now it`s like we`re saving lives, we`re making a difference.
ALEXANDER: Carlton Mitchell (ph) oversees bleach production.
CARLTON MITCHELL, CLOROX WORKER: Even though we know that we`re potentially at risk, we are willing to take that risk and make that sacrifice, because we`re helping to save and protect many lives, thousands of lives.
ALEXANDER: Clorox is hiring more than 250 employees, increasing base pay and giving a bonus to lower level workers.
DORER: We`re sorry that we can`t help as much as we can, given the unprecedented demand, but we give our hearts every single day to do better and help is on its way and it will be better starting this summer.
ALEXANDER: Until then, he says these factories will be running around the clock. Blayne Alexander, NBC News, Atlanta.
WILLIAMS: More essential workers to think about. Coming up for us, an act of kindness from 173 years ago that has come roaring back for people who need it right now.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight. It was so long ago that few people even knew the story unless they had heard it passed down through the family as folklore. But during the Irish potato famine, in the time before President Lincoln, the Native American tribes of Choctaw Nation gathered what was then a big sum, $170, and sent it to Ireland for victims of the famine. Apparently not everyone has forgotten.
Conor Hunt with the Irish television network RTE picks up the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONOR HUNT, RTE JOURNALIST: It`s a bond between two communities formed in a time of deep crisis commemorate with this sculpture. In 1847, at the height of the famine here, the Choctaw Nation of Native Americans gathered what money they could and sent it across the Atlantic to help those suffering. 107 years on, that goodwill is now being reciprocated. A fundraiser for Navajo and Hopi Native American families has seen donations from Ireland pouring in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Indeed, as of tonight, this Irish fundraising campaign has now raised close to $3 million for families in the Navajo and Hopi communities in the United States. Native American populations are getting crushed by the coronavirus with cases and fatality skyrocketing. Theirs is one of the worst outbreaks, especially with their income sources shut down and huge road blocks in getting the federal aid intended for them, because there was no initial system for dispersal.
The potato famine killed a million people in Ireland, where history classes still tell the story. Families do, too. And where an investment in humankind from far away, generations ago, is being returned and then some.
That is our broadcast for this Wednesday night. On behalf of all of my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night from our temporary field headquarters.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END