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Coronavirus cases TRANSCRIPT: 2/28/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Ro Khanna, Elizabeth Warren

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: And then the focus shifts to the critical primaries on Super Tuesday. That`s this coming Tuesday. We`ll have complete coverage of all that. By the way, I should apologize for that slip-up tonight. I got the word. I thought that that was Jaimie Harrison standing next to Lindsey Graham. It was Tim Scott, the fellow senator. I thought it was a candidate`s pose.

Anyway, that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on a special edition of ALL IN live from Charleston, South Carolina.

MICHAEL RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WHO: This is the reality check for every government on the planet. Wake up, get ready.

HAYES: Global warnings get louder and the domestic response remains misleading.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s going to disappear one day. It`s like a miracle. It will disappear.

HAYES: Tonight, the latest on the spread of coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a potential community transmission case.

HAYES: The testing shorted, the government whistleblower, and why the Trump administration wants us to trust politicians over doctors.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going to give the American people the facts.

HAYES: Plus, Senator Elizabeth Warren on the coronavirus leadership test, Super PACs and more. And is South Carolina about to turn the 2020 race on its head.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you send me out to South Carolina with a victory, there will be no stopping us.

HAYES: ALL IN live from Charleston, South Carolina starts right now.


HAYES: Hello. Hello, Charleston. Welcome. It`s good to be back here. What a great town. We are back here in Charleston, South Carolina, of course, for the Democratic presidential primaries here tomorrow. You guys are all ready to vote. I`m sure. We got a lot coming up tonight, including the interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren. She`ll be talking to me tonight.

But the big story today once again, of course, is the growing coronavirus. Wall Street closed down big again today which makes it actually the worst week since the final national crisis in 2008. And it is just becoming abundantly clear every day, how dangerous it is to have an incompetent administration leading us through a major crisis.

I mean, it`s worth taking just a second look, sort of walk back and walk through the facts about how this administration has handled this crisis so far, right? First, the administration had officials who overrode the advice of the Centers for Disease Control, and they chose to bring back a bunch of infected Americans from a cruise ship on the same plane as non-infected Americans.

The CDC who were, of course, the experts in this has said, don`t do that. And the Trump administration officials did it anyway. And that was the first in a series of decisions, just showing how out of their depth they`ve been, right? So you`ve got the folks from a cruise ship back in the U.S., and then they had this other population that had come back from Wuhan, right?

These are Americans been brought back correctly right, from the epicenter of the disease in Wuhan, China. And we now know thanks to a whistleblower complaint that the government workers sent to deal with those Americans and was brought back from Wuhan were dangerously unprepared.

Quoting from the Times article, "Without proper training or equipment, some of the exposed staff members moved around freely on and off the Air Force bases where the quarantines were happening, including one person staying in a nearby hotel and leaving California on a commercial flight."

According to the same complaint, which is from a senior leader in the Department of Health and Human Services, officials were not providing safety protocol training until five days into their assignment. And it was so disconcerting to these frontline workers who`ve been sent into treat these quarantined Americans that the whistleblower says their phone was ringing off the hook with panic calls.

And this was happening on Air Force bases where the U.S. government was quarantining the sick Americans and one of those bases was Travis and Air Force Base which is in Northern California. So then we got news two days ago, that the first instance of what`s called community transfer had happened with the virus, right?

A new patient tested positive for coronavirus who had not traveled to any of the infected areas. So the origin of how that person got the virus was unknown. But it just so happens that she lives in the same county as Travis Air Force Base. In fact, she was first treated at a hospital 15 minutes from Travis Air Force Base. Just a string of decisions that show really incredible incompetence on the part of this administration.

And along the way, of course, as the virus has grown, chiefly globally, right outside the U.S., at every instance, they have chosen that instead of being transparent, and factual, and clear, they`ve gone for a kind of combination of happy talk and wrong information. They`ve repeatedly been contradicting their own experts in the government.

The President said there`s going to be a vaccine in a short while. Experts say no, that`s not true. There`ll be at least a year. The president says it`s exactly like the flu. That`s not true. Right now, the mortality rates for this virus, coronavirus, are anywhere from 10 to 20 times what the flu is. He said there are only 15 cases in the U.S. He keeps repeating this, but that`s just not the number. There are 62. The numbers are what the numbers are.

He says it will disappear like a miracle and the cases will probably go to zero. That`s not what the CDC expects. It`s just -- and tonight we have news that guess what? There`s another case in California. In Santa Clara County, another case of community transfer, right? So there`s a second case where we don`t know where the virus came from. And experts say this probably means there are two population centers and probably a lot more cases in the U.S., which is not surprising. This is what the CDC told us to expect.

The White House is now muscling their own experts taking control the message. Everything now has to be run through the Office of the Vice President Mike Pence. Right. Well, here`s the thing about this, right? When you have any kind of public health emergency, any kind of epidemic, what you want is the science leading the politics, not the politics leading science.

And, this is so crucial because when you do not get that, you literally get people killed. And here`s the thing we`ve already seen that happen with this very outbreak, right? The reason epidemiologists say the coronavirus spread so rapidly in the first place in China, was precisely because the Chinese government attempted to keep a lid on the information about it. They didn`t want people to know the virus was happening.

Today we found out in Iran, there`s a source that -- a source that told BBC, Iran`s death toll is not 40 which is what their officials say, it`s 210, right? And that suggests we`re dealing with a virus infection rate that`s five times what they`ve been willing to admit. And that denial cost people their lives, right? If you keep the information away from people, they can`t prepare.

Right now in the U.S., the biggest obstacle that we face is just a testing shortage. The first thing we have to do is figure out the scope of the problem. And right now, we do not have the test to do that. In this country, we`ve only tested around 460 people. As it today, right, to put that number in context, South Korea has run more than 35,000 tests, right. They`re testing at massive scale.

And the test that CDC developed had been defective. The labs running the tests are not confident in the results. So now for example, the state of New York is going to make its own coronavirus test. And while all this is happening, the coronavirus point person, the guy who`s supposed to be running it all, Vice President Mike Pence spent last night hosting a $25,000 a plate fundraiser in Florida for Congressional Republicans.

He followed that with an interview this morning with right-wing conspiracy theorists Rush Limbaugh, a guy who claimed the coronavirus is like the common cold. The President for his part, Donald Trump, yesterday, he had a 45-minute meeting with two actors who are working on a deep state right- wing play. The interesting detail about that is that it was scheduled for 15 minutes, but he just really wanted it to go longer. So they were ready to be in and out in 15, the President just wanted to talk to them longer. So it was 45. That`s where the priorities of administration are, right?

And at times like this, you need leadership at the top. You need someone to deal with the facts as they are. And I had to say, having been in this very position, right, hosting a cable news show during the Ebola epidemic, that was instantly scarier because of just how deadly the virus was, but it was also far less of a threat directly to the U.S. because it was not as communicable.

During that period, Donald Trump and the right-wing media was engaged in the most hysterical, irresponsible, demagogue frenzy of panic and fear- mongering. And I just -- I don`t want to do that with the coronavirus, right. Like I take this job seriously. I take the platform seriously. It can be managed. This can be managed. There`s no reason for panic, right? It could get pretty bad. It could. It could spread fairly far. But there`s a huge spectrum of possibility both in terms of infection rates and mortality and treatment. A lot of it depends on what people in charge do and what you do, like wash your hands. No, seriously.

But the core principle for any of us that have a platform, you know, and this should be up to and including the President of the United States is just to be transparent and clear about what the science says, what the risks might be. And right now, that basic, basic threshold is just not being met.

Joining me now MSNBC anchor Katy Tur and Congressman Ro Khanna of California who attended the Congressional briefing. Good to see you. So, your state is sort of on the front lines of this.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): My district, the Santa Clara County confirmed case today.

HAYES: OK, so what -- what`s your thinking?

KHANNA: Well, first, we need an actual specific plan. I mean, you notice when the president says we have the best people, we have everything under control. Where are the specifics? I mean, here`s what we`re hearing. First of all, we need to test that can be deployed everywhere. There are actually Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, innovators working on that. Why hasn`t anyone reached out to them? Why aren`t we calling the scientists and entrepreneurs and saying we`re going to fund the innovation to get this test broad-based and inexpensive.

Second, we`ve got assure people that they can come in and get tested, and not get a bill. I mean, did you hear of the case in Florida?


KHANNA: A person comes in, $3,000 bill to get a test. Now, this -- there are two lessons of this. One, we are only as safe as the least insured and sickest person in this country. And secondly, America first doesn`t work when it comes to pandemic diseases. We have to be more responsible.

HAYES: You know, the President, it`s so clear that he used this primarily as a threat to his reelection. And Michael Brendan Dougherty who`s a conservative writer, who`s not quite a never-Trumper and not quite a Trumper. I thought he had this very good insight. He says, "I can`t emphasize enough that Trump can`t stop the sell-off on Wall Street without a competent public health response. The more the administration treats this as a market and reelection problem, the worse the market and reelection problem can become."

KATY TUR, MSNBC ANCHOR: The President is politicizing it. I was at his rally a couple moments ago before I was here and he was blaming the Democrats for trying to take his presidency down first with the Russia investigation, then with impeachment, and now he says with the hysteria in his words, over the coronavirus. He sees everything through the lens of his political prospects.

And when you look at the stock market in the economy, that is the most important thing to him, because if you talk to voters who are voting for Donald Trump, the ones at the rally tonight, the ones at the rallies in New Hampshire and Iowa, they`ll tell you that their 401(k) is doing really well, their stocks are doing really well, the economy is good. And if that suddenly starts to tumble, there are questions about not whether he`ll keep his hardcore base of support, but those outliers that he needs for his reelection.

HAYES: The thing that I want, though, is I just want someone who can sit the president down and persuade him that the cause is the other way around. Like he`s out there -- there`s reporting today that they`re talking about a tax cut, which is almost beyond parody, right? Like Republican plan for pandemic, tax cut.

TUR: Well, its focus is on the economy, not on the pandemic.

HAYES: But that`s the -- that`s the point. The point is that the market sell-off and all that stuff is an epiphenomenon of the -- of the pandemic, you got to deal with the problem.

KHANNA: The challenge here is spin marketing branding doesn`t work.

HAYES: Right. Exactly.

KHANNA: I mean, you actually need competence. I mean, Ron Klain was competent in dealing with the Ebola virus. And we know that a vaccine is a year out. I mean, that`s just the facts. We know that there`s not an anti- viral, so what can we do? We can get everyone tested, and make sure who needs to be tested, and we can make sure that if they need to be cured, that`s free. And we ought to be putting $15 billion on getting that done. Get the experts there.

HAYES: That`s the number -- that`s the number you think?

KHANNA: That`s the number. And why aren`t we calling these experts in and the technology leaders in? If I was talking to the President, I`d say appoint someone who actually knows what they`re doing to get this done. That`s your best shot at reelection, actually, and I don`t want him to get reelected.

HAYES: That`s exactly the point, though. No, that`s the point, right? No, I mean -- right, in that way, it`s like the incentives should be aligned for him, right? Like don`t worry about the market, don`t worry about the Fed, don`t worry about the tax cuts. If you handle this well, that will help you politically, so handle it well.

TUR: In many ways, this is the first real-world crisis that this administration is facing. And this is the first test of Donald Trump`s leadership skills where it really matters because lives are on the line on a world stage. And what we`re seeing from him is him contradicting his own health officials at a -- at a news conference that was meant to reassure the public the other day, and now going out on the campaign trail and using it again as a political cudgel for his advantage in his reelection.

HAYES: You know, there`s also an instinct that he has which we`ve seen on full display which is sort of downplay this, right? Because he doesn`t want it people to be panic. But --

TUR: Just wash your hands.

HAYES: Right. Well, also, we`re going to say that every two minutes on the show. But you know, that can come back to bite you, right? Like there`s a reason previous presidents have been touted when the stock market goes high because they understand it can go down.

TUR: Because when it drops, it can hurt you.

HAYES: And there`s -- you know, we all remember when, you know, heck of a job brownie when Donald -- George W. Bush came down and said like everything`s going fine here in Louisiana, like that wasn`t true. Like it is not a smart idea. I saw Gavin Newsom, the governor of state, and it was like watching someone from a different universe, right? Because he`s now got a situation on his hands, in his state, and he wasn`t hysterical, but he wasn`t rosy. I mean, he was just trying to strike the right tone of like, here`s what the situation is.

KHANNA: He was factual. I mean, the idea --

HAYES: That`s right. He was factual.

KHANA: I mean, the idea that the Democrats are driving this hysteria is just totally tone-deaf. I mean, talk to people, actually, Republican friends, or people in the community. They`re concerned. They`re concerned because of what they`re hearing on the media. They`re concerned because they have kids. They don`t know what`s going to happen. People are going out and buying masks.

And so, it looks totally out of touch to say that someone`s whipping up this hysteria. What the President ought to be doing is having a plan, a concrete plan. I know -- I mean, that`s overrated, I guess, in terms of having plans, but in these situations, you need one.

TUR: I don`t know if you got these answers, but I was talking to Congressman Jimmy Gomez on my show a little bit earlier today and asking how they are able to figure out definitively that the woman who has the virus in Northern California did not contract it from any of the health workers that worked on those supposed to be quarantined passengers that came over from China?

And he says he`s got no answers about whether or not they`re tracing the movements from all of those health workers, which would be the most in I think, normal people`s eyes, the most responsible course of action right now to make sure that they have a direct link to find out who may also have been exposed.

KHANNA: There`s no effort there, and there`s no effort to make sure healthcare workers are going to be protected.

HAYES: This is the key thing. I mean, I remember when Ebola was happening, and even before that, right? Training -- I mean, the most important thing in a pandemic is training healthcare workers not to contract because otherwise you turn health facilities into vectors of infection, right? So if you are not training people on protective equipment, and how to stop themselves from themselves contracting the virus, you are just taking hospitals and centers and you`re turning them instead of places where do we get well to places where people get sick,

TUR: Which is what`s happening overseas --

HAYES: That`s exactly what`s happening.

TUR: -- and why the virus has spread in other countries. There were protocols. There are protocols in place, but it appears they just weren`t followed.

HAYES: This idea about transparency to me is so key, right, as we`re watching what`s happening in Iran, which is a sort of nightmare scenario. One of the vice presidents of Iran has the virus. The deputy health minister has the virus. They appear to have been keeping a lid artificially on what the death toll is.

What does it say to you about the importance in a free and democratic society about being transparent with information?

KHANNA: Well, transparency is the key to solving something and having facts. But let me just say something about Iran that may not be popular, but it`s worth saying. I mean, we`re on a maximum pressure campaign there. We have to have some concern about the humanity of people dying and infecting the rest of the Middle East or the rest of the world. It`s not time to play politics. We have to come around on humanitarian solutions and help them tackle that crisis.

HAYES: In fact, Mike Pompeo was treating triumphantly about the maximum pressure campaign today, despite the fact there`s good evidence U.S. sanctions have hurt the healthcare industry there and particularly the sort of the provision of medicine.

KHANNA: It does the world no good to have the disease spreading around. And you know, remember when the President used to downplay the trade war and he says, our economy is not that dependent on China or Iran? Well, look at what happened when you just had global supply chains disrupted and this is what the President has always misled about.

It`s not just the imports and exports, our global supply chains are inexplicably linked, and this is going to hurt our economy.

HAYES: Congressman Ro Khanna, Katy Tur, thank you both so much.

TUR: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Don`t go anywhere. Senator Elizabeth Warren is going to join right after this.


HAYES: It`s always interesting when President Trump picks Fox News as a target of his early morning rage tweets. This morning, he`s clearly displeased with a brand new head to head pulling from Fox News. Their latest numbers show Donald Trump losing to every single one of his likely 2020 Democratic foes. And that includes our very next guest Senator Elizabeth Warren, who joins me live from down the road in Columbia, South Carolina. Senator, it`s great to have you.


HAYES: So, the polling that Fox News had, had you beating the president head to head. I also saw a poll today that was striking to me. It was a CNN poll out of Texas, State of Texas and it had you tied with Donald Trump in Texas. And then, if you look into that Fox News poll, that same one, you asked Democrats, do you think this person can beat Donald Trump? You are all the way down at 37 percent, with Bernie Sanders at 65 percent, and Joe Biden 56 percent. So there is a delta between how you are polling against Donald Trump, and how Democratic voters perceive you would do against him in a general. What do you attribute that to?

WARREN: Look, there is always a difference between who do you think is would make the best president, and get out and who do you want to vote for, and how do you think everybody else may be thinking about this. We`ve been through this before. In 1960, people said a Catholic can`t win, but the Democratic Party stepped up and said, we`re going to nominate John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and look at what happened. He beat the Republican.

In 2008, people said, oh my gosh, an African-American man can`t win, but the Democratic Party said we are better than that. We stepped up and he won. And in 2020, there are folks who still say, oh my gosh, I`m not sure a woman can win. But I think it`s time for the Democratic Party to say we are better than that, step up, and I will beat Donald Trump.

HAYES: Your -- you have -- there is a super PAC that has announced they will be spending $9 million in television ads on your behalf. It`s called Persist Super PAC. Now you have been incredibly critical at super PACs. You`ve been incredibly critical of the role of big money in politics. I want to read you something that you tweeted.

Just in February, you said, "Let me be clear, I won`t take a dime of PAC money in this campaign. I won`t take a single check from a federal lobbyist or billionaires who want to run a super PAC on my behalf. What happened?

WARREN: So, look, I have been in the same position since I started in January of last year, and that is we should keep super PACs and unlimited spending out of this campaign. I called on everybody, join me in this. Make this happen, please, please, please. And nobody would do it. And we could shut down super PACs tonight if all of the candidates would agree we`re not going to do super PACs.

But I also have to add, that also includes Michael Bloomberg who is a walking talking super PAC. It means he also doesn`t get to rummage around in his sock drawer and find another $400 million that he`s willing to spend. We could shut down unlimited spending, we just all have to decide to do it. And that`s what I still want to do.

HAYES: But there`s a little bit of a transparency issue that strikes me. So you made an announcement in (INAUDIBLE) show and said, look, I`m not going to do big, high dollar fundraisers. I think it`s corrupting fundamentally. I`m going to raise money through some small donations over the internet. I`m not going to do a super PAC.

But now you have a situation where you are raising grassroots money. There`s a super PAC. We don`t know who`s donating. I have no idea who came up with the $9 million. Is it one person or is it a few rich people that want to see you elected. If you were doing high dollar fundraisers, I mean, at least have the names under federal finance law. Like isn`t that a problem we don`t know where this money comes from?

WARREN: Look, and I`ve already said they should put out who their donors are, and they should do it before Super Tuesday. Put the names out. I think that`s right. But understand this, Chris, this is something that we could solve. When I ran in 2012, my Republican opponent and I agree, we were going to keep super PAC money out of the race, but it takes everybody to be doing on the same level playing field. And that`s exactly what we did. We kept super PAC money out. We fought our race just with our own campaign money. And I still think that`s the right way to do it.

But when you`re talking about super PACs, you got to get everybody plus Michael Bloomberg and his unlimited spending. That`s the way I think it ought to work. And I still think that`s the way it ought to work.

HAYES: A few -- I think it was last week or a few days ago, your campaign put out a plan for dealing with pandemics and the coronavirus. What is your sense of the leadership that`s emanating from the White House right now? How concerned are you?

WARREN: I am very concerned right now. Look, I put out a plan because that`s what leadership is about. And there`s a lot that we could be doing right now. We can all go back and say there`s a lot we should have been doing in the past. The first job of a president of the United States is to keep people safe here in the United States. And that means not just our military, it really means public health. That`s a big part of it.

We should not have been making the cuts to CDC and other places. That put us more at risk. But it also means as soon as this virus started cropping up elsewhere in the world, we should have been on top of it. We should have been putting the money into the research. We should be putting money into making sure that we have vaccines available, that we have tests available, and we need a coordinating person in the White House who is a true leader.

And let me just say that Vice President Pence, he is the wrong person to be leading this. He is actually the one guy around who has experienced in dealing with a virus that gets out of control. Only he`s the guy who went in exactly the wrong direction. He paid more attention to politics than he did to science. And that really created a health crisis in his State of Indiana. I cannot think of a worse person to put in charge of dealing with this coronavirus now.

HAYES: You`ve been a law professor, a lawyer much of your life, and now a United States Senator. You never held an executive position. You`ve never been a governor or a mayor. To people that are thinking I want someone -- I want to know that I could trust the person I`m voting for president to manage a crisis like this, what do you say to them?

WARREN: Do remember, actually, I`ve done one more job, two more jobs that you left out. I was the one who kept calling the financial crisis in 2008. I started in the early 2000s ringing the alarm bells over what was happening in the mortgage market, what was happening with debts, how the banks were interconnected.

And then when the crisis came, Congress came to me, Harry Reid came to me and said, we want you to head up the congressional oversight panel to try to get some accountability on how that bank bailout was working. From there, I ended up working on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. My executive experiences is I think I`m the only one who`s running for office who`s actually been on that side of it.

I set up an entire agency from two employees to about 1,000 employees, got it all operational, made it all work, and really put in place the kinds of safeguards we need to keep people -- to keep banks from being able to boost their profits by cheating people.

Understand this, Chris, when we talk about the coronavirus, yes, we`re talking about health, we`re talking about our most vulnerable citizens, we`re talking, about babies and seniors and people with compromised immune systems. And this is a crisis. But it also has the potential to be an enormous financial crisis not just here in the United States, but worldwide.

Think about how our five largest banks in America are connected to each other and connected around the world. They need for all of those businesses that have borrowed money from them to keep paying back. And that means they need those supply chains operational. They need business moving. They need goods moving. They need services moving. They need payments moving, and all of that is starting to get rocky.

And on top of an economy that was already showing signs of trouble. Small businesses that were already in default on the loans. And a Trump administration that had already stripped down many of the economic tools to deal with this.

So, health crisis, absolutely. It is our number one concern. But we need to be worried about number two as well and that is an economic crisis that accelerates problems around the globe. We`re got to be ready for both.

HAYES: All right, Senator Elizabeth Warren, presidential candidate, senator from Massachusetts, thank you so much for taking time tonight.

WARREN: Thank you so much.


HAYES: We`ve got much more to come live from Charleston, South Carolina. How the candidates stack up going into the tomorrow right after this.



HAYES: All right. So the South Carolina primary is tomorrow. Here`s the dynamic on the Democratic side as I see it. Joe Biden`s performance here in South Carolina could really affect his trajectory going into Super Tuesday. And the big thing this week that appears to be boosting Biden`s chances is that Michael Bloomberg has kind of stalled out a bit.

Remember, essentially what happened post-New Hampshire, was this big Bloomberg surge in the polling as the $400 million man was running ads all over the air waves and did not have to answer any difficult questions. Then in the subsequent weeks, Michael Bloomberg has been on the debate stage twice. He`s also had a lot of difficult press about his record. Bernie Sanders has faced a lot of criticism from members of his own party. And all of that seems to be benefiting Joe Biden quite a bit.

To talk about these dynamics, three people who understand this race from the inside out, Nakima Williams, a Georgia state senator, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia; Charlie Pierce, writer at-large at Esquire; and Jelani Cobb, staff writer at The New Yorker.

Great to have you here.


HAYES: Jelani, there was -- you know, the way these campaigns work and the way the coverage always works is that like the thing that happened in the last 20 minutes means that like that`s the way it`s going to be forever. So there was a lot of like, well, Joe Biden is dead. He`s done. He`s done.

He had a huge lift this week in this state from Congressman Clyburn.


And so I think that, one, there are very few people who are still kind of like king-makers in Democratic politics. And of that handful of people, Jim Clyburn would be one. And there are very few endorsements -- I mean, people question the value of endorsements and so on. There is no monetary value that you could place on what Jim Clyburn did for Joe Biden this week.

When you saw -- I mean, someone who has the stature and eminence that he has, also a person who has suffered a loss recently and has had great sympathy on behalf of that -- and he spoke not only for himself, but on behalf of his late wife and really placed Biden not only in a political context, but assured people that he was the kind of person that you wanted to see in the Oval Office.

And I mean, I think that it`s probably difficult to measure exactly what this is, and maybe political scientists will be able to do an autopsy of this down the line, but in the short-term, you really have to say that part of this is about what Jim Clyburn did and what he said.

HAYES: Part of it, too, that strikes me is that Biden benefited a little bit from receding from being at the top tier, right. I mean, this thing keeps happening which is that when you move up then you get all the scrutiny, you get all the attacks in the debate. When you move down a little bit -- so like this week Joe Biden had a situation in which he said in a speech multiple times that he was arrested as a U.S. Senator in apartheid South Africa, which is just not true. And it was obviously not true and it was kind of these classic Joe Biden tall tales. But no one seemed to matter much. And he sort of apologized and said, yes, I wasn`t arrested.

But part of that I guess I wonder how much of that part of Joe Biden is essentially just priced in to people`s perception of Joe Biden.

STATE SEN. NIKEMA WILLIAMS (D-GA): I think that the big thing that we need to think about is why are black voters still looking for a candidate like why is there still this space in this room to still appeal to voters where South Carolina -- they`re voting tomorrow.

I have a little bit of time. Georgia doesn`t vote until March 24, but then we have Super Tuesday. And so I think the candidate themselves need to look at the space that they`re creating, that there`s still room to be persuaded and still room to be pulled from one side or another. And...

HAYES: Well, there`s a lot of undecided voters still.


HAYES: Among white, black, of all different demographics. Don`t you think part of that, though, is just like people want to pick the right choice to beat Trump, but they have no way of knowing what that would be?

WILLIAMS: I think people -- I want to pick the right person to beat Trump.

HAYES: I feel like every Democratic primary voter I talk to whether it`s here or was in New Hampshire, it`s like they`ve been given a test they don`t know the answer to. It`s like solve this equation. It`s like, I don`t know, you tell me.

CHARLIE PIERCE, ESQUIRE: This has driven me crazy ever since this process started. Don`t vote like a pundit. Don`t think like a pundit. First of all, it`s not healthy, second of all, it`ll cost your friends, and third of all it`s not the way to vote. You know, vote in a primary situation, vote with your heart and then vote with your head in the fall.

You can`t -- I mean, you can`t -- as you said there`s no way of knowing at this point.

I mean, right now we`re in the middle of the one unexpected wild card that was going to hit this election, and it`s hitting us now. In 2008, it hit in the fall, which was the economic collapse.

Now we`ve got a manifestly incompetent person being advised by even more incompetent people what to do with a national health emergency, OK. That`s not something -- that wasn`t on my bingo card when this started.

But, for me, I am taking the William Goldman attitude towards this election, nobody knows anything. I mean, suppose Joe Biden doubles Bernie Sanders here tomorrow, which is possible. You go 36-18. Then next week he goes to California and doesn`t even get a delegate. Where does he stand next Wednesday. Where is the race? I have no idea.

COBB: And I`ll just add one thing about the way -- the unpredictability of these things. The kind of standard reasoning about economics was that in times of economic turmoil, they would increase racism. Certainly we`ve seen this in recent years. But this is kind of old social science thinking.

It was completely unpredictable that in 2008 the economic crisis would hit and Barack Obama would surge as a result of it. That was a head-scratcher.

So, some of this is like fielding fly balls -- or ground balls rather -- it hits the ground and you don`t know really which way it`s going to bounce.

HAYES: Nikema, how much do you think those dynamics you`re talking about, the uncertainty in voters like in your state of Georgia, which is after Super Tuesday, how much do you think that continues to persist as we get further into the calendar? Like is it that people aren`t satisfied or they`re not looking yet, or they feel paralyzed? Like, do you think we`ll going to start to see it narrowed to like very stark choices?

WILLIAMS: I mean, I think when we started this primary calendar, we were in states that didn`t look -- that the demographics didn`t look like South Carolina. They didn`t look like Georgia. And so now we`re in this stance where I know I`m talking to my friends -- I grew up in Alabama -- my aunts (ph). I`m like, you vote on Tuesday. You know this right? Who are you voting for. And they are like, who should I vote for? And still listening trying to have someone that is speaking to them.

It`s not black voters aren`t a monolith. We`re not just like don`t just talk to me about just criminal justice reform, talk to me about jobs, talk to me about the economy, talk to me about what is happening with this coronavirus...

HAYES: Right, exactly.

WILLIAMS: Talk to me and all these other things that matter in my life. I - - and that`s what we`re waiting to hear from, like none of my family members have been to jail. I mean, I went to jail for actually protesting an election. But that`s a whole other thing.

But my family members like the criminal justice system, yes that is important for the greater good, but like it`s not a direct impact on us. So, talk to me about other issues.

PIERCE: Talk to me about my nephew who is in the marines and where he`s going to wind up in three years.

HAYES: Yeah, yeah.

Well, there`s a question about that. Remember during the primary with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, there was a famous 3:00 a.m. ad, right. And the idea was Clinton thought, gosh, this guy is a real green senator. At that point, he had been a state senator just a few years back, now he`s in the senate a few years and runs for president. And Clinton cut that ad being like who do you want in a crisis, right?

And I think about that ad all the time, because you know it wasn`t a wrong point to raise. It turns out that we lucked out with the person who actually had very good temperament and judgment, but it could have not been as we see with Donald Trump. And I wonder whether the coronavirus, Charlie, you think focuses people`s minds a little bit on that.

PIERCE: Yeah, because it`s -- a virus, you can`t spin a virus. I mean, the person who lives next door to you gets the virus, they`re sick. I mean, they`re not economically anxious. They`re in bed for a month.

I mean, the usual Donald Trump okie-doke (ph) isn`t going to work on an epidemic disease because you can see an epidemic disease.

COBB: There is one thing with this that`s particularly scary, which is that I was at CPAC yesterday, and I was standing on line. And there was a person in front of me saying that he didn`t trust anything that came out of the CDC because the CDC was full of deep staters who just want to gin up a crisis that will tank the economy and get Donald Trump out of office.

So, the problem with that is like that person can transmit. I mean, it`s not simply what he`s doing with his own health.

HAYES: Yeah, don`t wash your hands to own the libs, right.

COBB: Exactly.

PIERCE: Sean Hannity is saying that...

HAYES: Yes, and this is actually...

PIERCE: ...on his television program.

HAYES: This has been going around a lot.

Nikema Williams, Charlie Pierce, and Jelani Cobb, thank you all so much.


HAYES: Coming up, I want to talk about one of the most pressing issues facing the nation and Charleston specifically. Putting climate on the ballot after this.


HAYES: So we are here, of course, in Charleston, South Carolina, which is an incredible city with a rich and complicated history. It`s a booming local economy. This is what the city looks like. It`s situated on what locals call the peninsula. You see how it reaches out into the ocean. At the bottom you see Fort Sumter where the civil war began.

And I`ve got to say literally the first thought I had when i landed here was, how in the world do they have a debate here in this particular coastal city and not talk about climate change?


HAYES: It was a very messy debate on Tuesday, but climate change didn`t come up. In fact, the topic has largely faded from the focus of the national conversation.

But the city of Charleston`s current prosperity and boom is very much threatened by a warming climate. According to the National Weather Service, the city flooded a record 89 times last year. That blows away the previous record of 58 set in 2015.

The city is at real risk due to rising sea levels. This map shows the current city with sea levels as they are right now. If sea levels rise four feet, you can see how much of the city is quickly under water. If the sea city rises 7 feet, most of the city is underwater and you`re left with a jagged piece of land you see here. If sea levels reach 10 feet, this scattered archipelago of islands is all that remains of the City of Charleston.

Let`s not forget among all the stakes in this election, yes, coronavirus is scary; it`s right in front of us, climate change is the big thing creeping up on us day after day after day unless we take truly radical action. And that`s not happening, obviously, under this administration. In fact, it`s the opposite.

Now, William Happer is a former senior director in Trump`s National Security Council just told environmental publication E&E News that President Trump is, quote, interested in bringing back a hostile review of climate science if he wins reelection, but he`s concerned it would effect help him in the general. Again to restate that, the president wants to commission a review that will be skeptical of climate science, but he doesn`t want to do it before election because he knows the politics of that will be terrible.

Even Trump recognizes that climate denialism hurts him. It`s also worth pointing out William Happer, the former Trump official, is the same guy who once compared the demonization of carbon dioxide to Jews treatment under Hitler. So there`s that.

But climate change is not the only issue of local significance to the people of South Carolina, with a clock ticking until polls open tomorrow morning I`ll speak to two local experts right after this.


HAYES: We`re here in Charleston, South Carolina less than 12 hours before voting starts in this crucial primary.

We thought it would be a good time to talk to some folks who know the race and the state and local politics here.

Kevin Alexander Gray, long-time civil rights organizer who was Jessie Jackson`s South Carolina campaign manager back in 1988, and Jamie Lovegrove, a political reporter at the Post and Courier in Charleston. Great to have you gentlemen here.

You ran Jessie`s campaign down here in 1988. A lot has changed since then.


HAYES: That`s the way time works.

What is your sense of what`s driving the campaigns and voters down here?

GRAY: Well, with Biden it is the familiarity with Biden, his relationship with Obama. People do know him, the Democratic Party establishment, you know, they support Biden.

Steyer has spent a lot of money in the state. He`s put money in the black community, has hired consultants, is running black ads, depositing money in the black owned banks. And Sanders from four years out has been building a campaign. He`s got people in all parts of the state. He`s been in and out of the state, and so that`s the difference. He`s got a lot of young black workers.

That -- the way I think the vote is going to break down is the older black voters are going to vote for Biden, the middle, the people that are for economic development they`re going to go with Steyer, and then the young black voters are pretty much go with Sanders.

HAYES: Let me -- one follow-up on Steyer. It`s been interesting, he spend $20 million in the state on advertising alone, which is more than all of the other campaigns combined.

GRAY: It`s more than people spent in the black community on campaigns since before Obama.

HAYES: That`s interesting.

My question to you is do you think that number that`s showing up in polling, particularly among black voters, do you think that`s a real number?

GRAY: No. No. I still think Biden will probably eke it out, but I don`t trust those numbers. I think we`ll have to wait until the vote is counted.

HAYES: You know, one dynamic that some people looked at, I`m looking at the early voting that have been coming in -- that`s in-person absentee, it`s not really voting here in South Carolina. White -- they have it by race. And the white vote is actually ticked up quite a bit since 2016. People have been talking about the fact there`s been gentrification around Charleston.

GRAY: And every place else.

HAYES: And every place else. That actually the composition of the electorate is changing a little bit in this Democratic primary.

JAMIE LOVEGROVE, THE POST AND COURIER: Yeah, that`s right. And African- American voter turn-out in terms of raw numbers, tends to be fairly consistent whereas white turn-out tends to be more variable. And so the percentage, the portion of each one can change.

You know, actually if you look back in 2008 the black voter turnout as a percentage of the overall turn-out was 55 percent, which was lower than 2016 when it was 61 percent, because of how much higher the white turn-out was in 2008.

So it will be interesting to see what happens to that. And the question is who does it actually benefit? One might think that because Biden is so popular with African-American voters that a higher white turn-out would benefit somebody else, might benefit Sanders who has certainly inspired a lot of white voters.

But at the same time, you know, we`re sitting just outside the district of Joe Cunningham who won here in 2018, and he did that in part by winning over moderate white Democrats, suburban white Democrats. And those folks might be quite interested in Biden, so it could benefit several candidates.

HAYES: Another big race that`s not on the -- for tomorrow but the general is Jamie Harrison is running a campaign against Lindsey Graham. What do you think the odds of that look like? What do you think the dynamics of that are?

GRAY: I think that because people have so much Trump fatigue that it could drive people to the polls. It would be interesting to have two African- American senators, one which would be a Democrat and one a Republican from the state that started the civil war, that would be really interesting.

Jamie`s raising the money. He just has to do kind of what Steyer has done. You have to go beyond the churches and the colleges and the fish fries to the neighborhoods. And you have to go to where people have been pushed out from the city, where people live and work every day and find out what those people are thinking about, what roads feed to be fixed, what schools need to be improved, how to help them get health care, how to help them start a business. That`s the kind of outreach he has to do.

He has to talk to people and figure out what their needs are, and I think he can win.

HAYES: You know, Lindsey Graham is a fascinating political figure in many ways. What is his...

GRAY: That`s one way of putting it.

HAYES: You can interpret that however you want.

What is his stature like in the state right now? How would you describe it?

LOVEGROVE: Well, he has shifted dramatically, right? He has absolutely solidified his conservative base to a degree that he`s never had in his entire career. You know, in 2014 he faced a whole bunch of primary challengers. He ended up emerging out of that unscathed. None of them were particularly serious, but there was a lot of conservative anger at him particularly after the gang of eight immigration compromises. And so he faced a ton of backlash.

Of course he feuded very dramatically with Trump. There`s actually an ad airing on Fox News tonight during the Trump rally that Jamie`s campaign put together. It`s a 30 second clip of Trump in 2016 trashing Lindsey Graham saying he`s the dumbest human being he`s ever seen, and that he couldn`t get elected dogcatcher in the state anymore. Now it`s all changed.

HAYES: That proposition will be tested very soon.


HAYES: Kevin Alexander Gray, Jamie Lovegrove, great to have you both, gentlemen. Thank you very much.


HAYES: That does it for us tonight live from Charleston, South Carolina. On Monday, we will be in Los Angeles with a live studio audience ahead of their big Super Tuesday vote.

And by next Friday, one week from today, we`ll be back in New York City like from 30 Rock. Tickets for that are available now. Head to to grab yours and be part of the live audience experience. We hope to see you there.

The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.