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Coronavirus TRANSCRIPT: 3/2/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Michael Moore, Douglas Herman, Addisu Demissie, Sally Kohn, Bruce Freed, Tony Cardenas


In going to -- you`re allowed -- there`s no travel restrictions in the United States.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  And Ari Melber will be picking up our coverage right now, after the briefing.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Thank you very much from Chuck Todd.

We have been following that coronavirus briefing. And we will bring any other news and updates that come out of it.

But right now on THE BEAT, we begin with breaking news that could shape the showdown on Super Tuesday.

Three candidates have now formally dropped out of this presidential race, all since Joe Biden`s big win this Saturday, Tom Steyer that night, Pete Buttigieg last night, and now, today, Amy Klobuchar. Now there are major moves by some Democrats to try to consolidate completely around Joe Biden.

Klobuchar seizing on her departure to announce a Biden endorsement. In fact, she`s joining him tonight in Dallas. That is a big story and a big event heading into Super Tuesday. Buttigieg, of course, dropped with remarks that already sounded like he was knocking Bernie Sanders. And now, of course, we have him stepping out to endorse Joe Biden.

Now, take a look, Biden speaking briefly today about conversations with his former rivals.


JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I strongly urge Pete to stay engaged and told him that, if I win the nomination, I was coming for him to be involved, and because he has real, real talent.

There`s no official policy to try to talk other people out of the race.


MELBER:  And that`s not all. This swift rush towards and around Biden right now is, of course, coming from some rivals who spent months arguing that he might take the Democratic Party backwards. This reflects several larger Schiff`s, and it`s a big story tonight.

Former President Obama, as you surely know, has remained carefully neutral throughout this whole process, even with his relationship with several candidates, including, of course, his former vice president.

New reporting tonight, though, noting people close to Obama say the signal has been sent in the past 36 hours that Obama sees Biden as the candidate to back. And the largest shift came in this weekend`s blowout, which you can see just reshaping this entire race right now.

Bernie Sanders had surged, of course, in three states, building a delegate lead, but Biden came back swinging, showing in the debates, according to many Democrats, that Biden had far more fight than the other new entrant, Mike Bloomberg.

Biden then arguing in South Carolina that he was the more rightful leader of the Democratic Party than an independent Democratic socialist. And as you see here, I can tell you, we were just down there and heard many voters embracing Biden`s argument out on the ground, as the contest has turned to more Southern and more diverse turf.

And that clearly has boosted Joe Biden. Everything that has been happening since Saturday for Biden is in a way because of South Carolina, because of the South, which is a proud and complex place, which argues that it sometimes can be misunderstood or even ignored by elites in other parts of the country.

This is a point the artists Andre 3000 famously made in a cultural moment that could also apply to politics.


ANDRE BENJAMIN, ANDRE 3000:  But it`s like this, though. I`m tired of folks, you know what I`m saying, the closed-minded folks, you know what I`m saying?

It`s like we got a demo tape nobody want to hear. But it`s like the South got something to say. That`s all I got to say.



MELBER:  The South got something to say.

Can you hear the South right now? We track the delegates here on THE BEAT, because they also got something to say. And they say it more plainly than a lot of D.C. conventional wisdom or media predictions.

Biden`s win, you see here, is so big, there are actually fewer names now on our delegate rate scorecard than they were just on Friday, and he`s within seven delegates of Bernie Sanders, who`s trying to argue that this sudden shift against him that we`re seeing coalesce in some parts of the party tonight, Sanders arguing it actually validates how much he is at war with the establishment.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  There is a massive effort trying to stop Bernie Sanders. That`s not a secret to anybody in this room.

The political establishment is coming together. And they will do everything. They are really getting nervous that working people are standing up.

It doesn`t surprise me.


MELBER:  None of the three candidates have dropped out have gone to Sanders. And he`s arguing that`s no surprise.

We should note the liberal "Nation" magazine came out today endorsing him for a realistic and radical agenda.

Now, for all the talk about why candidates get out, I can tell you I worked on a presidential campaign, and one thing I learned was ambitious people who run for president, they will usually stay in the race as long as there is money and a path to win.

Take either one away, and it gets harder. Buttigieg and Klobuchar saw no path, and they would be running out of money soon. They also had a self- interest political reason to get out now, before potentially getting shut out of most delegates tomorrow, which could undercut any talk of strength for a future run, or worse than that kind of talk if one were to lose one`s home state.

Now, Elizabeth Warren has money, but even her aides are admitting today -- this is really interesting -- They don`t see a path to her winning outright anymore either. Her new campaign message is that maybe no candidate will have -- quote -- "a path" to the majority of delegates and that if she stays in, that she could win at a convention that`s brokered.

But the thing about that tonight, as other rivals drop, is if she is in third or below, it gets hard to see how, when you look over here, how that gets her from single digits to the nomination.

Now, tomorrow, this race turns from differences of dozens to hundreds, 1,300 delegates up for grabs in 14 states, California and Texas with the most. Sanders has spent a lot of time and money there. But right now, Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and a growing number of Democratic leaders endorsing Biden are pushing to catch Sanders.

And I can tell you, the people trying to stop him may be reflecting on another piece of Southern wisdom also from Andre 3000 about not taking your lead of any kind for granted. As he once emphasized, true, I have got more fans than the average man, but not enough loot to last me to the end of the week.

I live by the beat, like you live check to check. If you don`t move your feet, then I don`t eat. So we like neck to neck.

And these Biden backers are working overtime tonight to try to keep him in the running and keep this race that close.

Joining me now is Congressman Tony Cardenas, a Democrat from California who has endorsed Joe Biden, Addisu Demissie, a campaign manager for Cory Booker this cycle and who worked on the Kerry 2004 campaign, and Doug Herman, a political strategist from California who helped President Obama with a direct mailing strategy. We should note he has not endorsed or worked with any candidate this cycle.

Experts all around. Thanks for being here.


REP. TONY CARDENAS (D-CA):  Thanks, Ari.

MELBER:  Tony, given your candidate surging, Joe Biden, I turn to you first.

Does he have enough support here, having been out spending and outgunned in these states, including yours tomorrow, to keep it -- as I put it to keep it, neck to neck?

CARDENAS:  Yes, Joe Biden has been outspent by Bernie Sanders and also Michael Bloomberg, but I think that Bernie Sanders is going to do just fine.

I`m from the other south, by the way. I`m from Southern California. Plenty of rappers out there and good folks with great quotes, but I`m not going to try to quote them right now.

But bottom line is, I think you`re going to see Bernie Sanders is doing much better -- he`s going to do much better, because he finally has the kinds of funds where he can actually communicate to the communities and the way that every candidate would like to, but he`s got a good message. He`s got a great track record.

The thing that I love about Joe Biden is the fact that he is a true public servant. He`s not a naysayer. He`s not the angry guy telling people to get off my lawn. He knows how to work with people on both sides of the aisle. He knows he knows how to get things done.

MELBER:  Bernie Sanders, a cranky elderly person telling people to get off his lawn; is that what you`re saying?

CARDENAS:  I remember, as a kid, every time somebody would yell at me from their porch telling me to get off their lawn or go away or something like that. It just reminds me of that. That`s all.

MELBER:  You`re reminded of that. All right, well, that`s your take there.

Doug, I have got some Sanders people coming later in the hour. So we get everybody in.

Doug, take a listen to the note Buttigieg struck while dropping out.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We need leadership to heal a divided nation, not drive us further apart. We need a broad-based agenda that can truly deliver for the American people, not one that gets lost in ideology.

We need an approach strong enough not only to win the White House, but to hold the House, win the Senate and Senate Mitch McConnell into retirement.



MELBER:  Doug -- as a veteran of these things, Doug, I want to ask you straight up, when you see Pete and Amy coalescing around Biden, does that matter for voters tomorrow in your state of California, or is it a little late for that, and it`ll help more later?

DOUGLAS HERMAN, POLITICAL STRATEGIST:  You know, Ari, it still does matter.

There`s a lot of votes that have yet to be cast. While there have been absentee voters voting for nearly a month, there`s a majority of the votes, a supermajority even yet to come in. We`re only sitting at about 20 percent of the votes that have been cast so far by absentee, so there`s certainly enough votes left for Joe Biden to make up the gap here.

And I think what`s happened in the last 24 and 72 hours is really the kind of momentum that he needs to have the energy to make delegate viability and to cut into that Sanders delegate lead. I think it`s been a very good period for him from South Carolina until now.

MELBER:  Addisu, as mentioned, you worked this cycle. Barack Obama did better than expected in a lot of parts of the country that made people give him a second look.

Could this be that moment for Joe Biden? Does the South have something to say, sir?

DEMISSIE:  I think it could be, for the reasons Doug said.

There are a lot of folks who are holding their ballots, if they`re voting - - if they`re normally early voters, until tomorrow or even tonight, watching what Pete, Amy others do in these last moments as they make their decisions.

And the South certainly still has a lot to say tomorrow. California is obviously the biggest prize, but you have got states from Virginia all the way down to Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, a lot of Southern states that are going to be voting where Biden, if the South Carolina results portend anything, is going to do quite well.

So I definitely do think that there`s still some twists and turns left in this race. And we haven`t seen the end of it yet.

MELBER:  And then there`s Mike Bloomberg, Tony. Listen to Mike Bloomberg out on the trail.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I talked to Mayor Pete and Amy Klobuchar. And I wished them all the best.

I thought both of them behaved themselves, is a nice way to phrase it, but they represented their country and their states very well. And I felt sorry for them, but I`m in it to win it.


BLOOMBERG:  And we`re going to go out, and we`re going to go get them.


MELBER:  Tony, you cannot complain about who`s in the race. You got to win no matter what.

But what do you and other Biden backers say to this former Republican Mayor billionaire who got in late claiming your candidate was weak? As we just showed, your currently look stronger today. But Bloomberg could be a problem for you. What`s your message to him?

CARDENAS:  Well, since Bloomberg made that statement when he got in, he thought that Biden may have been weak. And he got him because mainly that reason.

There might -- are probably many others, but he did state that when he got in. And I think that it`s time for him to actually reevaluate and realize that Joe Biden is here for the long haul, he does have the biggest and best relationships with people who are actually getting things done in both houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

And let me tell you, it was said earlier, this country needs to heal, there`s a lot of work to do. And Joe Biden is exactly that person who can start literally from day one reversing many of the things that Donald Trump has done as president and, on top of that, getting legislation done in the first 100 days, in the first six months, making sure that we can actually move this country forward as quickly as possible in the right direction.

MELBER:  Well, you mentioned that, Congressman. And you mentioned relationships.

Let`s hear a little bit more about that from you, since this is a time where people are now giving a close look to Joe Biden, experience in Congress, experience with Republicans -- sometimes, that`s been used against him, for the argument that the eras are different now and the posture he should take -- California, you where you are, I`m sure you have constituents and plenty of progressives who want to be tough and confrontational.

What, in your view, is it about Joe Biden`s experience that makes him the right person here? And I`m curious what you also thought of his speech on Saturday night, which leaned more into kind of a call for unity and perseverance, than any particular set of a list of issues?

CARDENAS:  Absolutely.

Joe Biden is used to working on the issues that bring us together. For example, when -- they call it the Northern Triangle. We have a big push of people who are coming from Central America to the United States, because this administration literally cut off almost completely all the support that they had, so they can get their economies going and stay home.

That`s a perfect thing that Vice President Biden actually championed when he was in the White House with the previous president, Obama. And on top of that, he`s actually got things done in the United States Senate. He`s not the kind of person who just talks about what needs to be done.

He actually was part of an administration that moved us from over 20 percent of Americans not having had true and honest access to health care down to less than 10 percent. And when I was a little boy, I was one of those individuals, so I can appreciate what it`s like to know the difference between going, A, from the bedroom to the emergency room, instead of just going to the doctor and saying, hey, doctor, tell me what`s wrong. Help me out.

MELBER:  All very, very interesting coming from you, as mentioned, as a congressman and a leader with your own constituents.

There is a flip side of this. We`re going to hear some of that later from Michael Moore.

But I also want to read something to you, Addisu, because, as you and others who`ve been in this process know, the concern about Joe Biden was never that he wasn`t well-liked in the party, or didn`t serve loyally, or isn`t a longstanding Democrat, which is a contrast to Bernie Sanders. All of that was well-established.

One of the things that I know you have heard, that we hear out on the trail from political people as well, he`d run for president three times, never won a state, never won a lot of delegates.

Saturday changes that. Over three races now, he`s won a single state. And with regard to the coalition, I want to read to you from "The Washington Post" by Henry Olsen.

"South Carolina was the first state to vote with a large black voting population. Virtually no state that has yet to vote offers him such favorable terrain African-American voters will be no more than a third of all voters in other Southern Democratic primary states, rarely more than a quarter in the North. Getting 61 percent of the black vote will make Biden competitive. It will not send him," argues Henry Olsen, past Sanders.


DEMISSIE:  I think -- could be right, but I think this is why Mayor Pete and Senator Klobuchar are getting out of the race is actually going to be beneficial to Joe Biden.

Between the two of them, they were taking up 15, 20 percent of the voters out there. Those are voters who are now up for grabs who may be able to add to his coalition. There is no doubt in my mind that the base of Joe Biden`s support is African-American voters, particularly in the South.

But a campaign is about growing your coalition and ultimately, hopefully, growing your coalition to 50-plus-one. It`s up to him and his campaign now to see if he can pick up those Pete supporters, those Klobuchar supporters, maybe other campaigns, Steyer, for that matter, folks who`ve dropped out, and piece it together.

And that`s what a campaign is. And I think it`s up to him, Senator Sanders and the other candidates who are still in the race to see if they can piece it together and make it work for them.

MELBER:  Very interesting from all of you.

Doug, stay with me.

I have one more campaign bit of business to do with you.

Congressman and Addisu, I want to thank you both very much. Appreciate both of you.

Doug, I want to ask you one other thing, and that is basically, Doug Herman, I know we actually first met way back in the 2004 cycle when I was working on a presidential candidate of John Kerry, full disclosure.

But you know your way around the nuts and bolts of these Super Tuesday states, the early voting, the way California in Texas dominate. You did, as mentioned, the work for Obama.

Can you just give us, on the straight facts, the preview of what really matters going into tomorrow? How much of this is early vote that`s already banked? What does it mean that people like Sanders and Bloomberg have spent so much more than Biden?

Just walk us through that, because I know you know it so well.

HERMAN:  So, Ari, thank you for that question.

This is a really interesting dynamic here that`s going on. There`s a lot of votes that already that have been cast, but there are so many more that have yet to be cast. And what makes a presidential campaign unique from any other campaign in this country is that the cocktail chatter, the social chatter, the conversation that people have is a part of the conversation in the presidential campaign.

And so what happens there is important and determinative, and it doesn`t have to be an ad that tells people what`s happening and where their votes should go and where they`re going to make the most difference.

So there`s a lot of votes left for the Biden campaign to collect. There`s a lot of places, if you add up the delegate totals, that are cast to date and take the Buttigieg numbers and the Klobuchar numbers and put those in the Biden camp, he`s becoming the leader, if not one of the -- right in a dead- heat tie with Bernie.

And so what happens tomorrow is really going to be important. And the most important component here is that what you`re seeing happen in the period after South Carolina through today is that Joe Biden is gaining delegate viability.

There was a question heading into the weekend whether or not there would be anybody besides Bernie Sanders in California who made delegate viability. And that same kind of criteria and qualifying is happening in every one of these states.

As Addisu mentioned, there`s a host of states across the South that are voting tomorrow that don`t have aggressive and robust early vote programs. And so those states where Joe Biden is strong, where he`d been on the cusp of making delegate thresholds, and now is going to be qualifying or likely to be qualifying, based on these events, this is a really significant event for the Biden campaign in terms of what`s happened inside the campaign.


HERMAN:  This is by far the biggest and most significant move of the delegates and of anything that`s happened, even in advance of the big votes for tomorrow.

MELBER:  That`s really striking.

And you`re saying that as someone who deals with this stuff, not saying that because you`re rooting for necessarily only one candidate. And I know you would be a pretty active Democrat. So I imagine you will be supporting whoever the nominee is.

But this idea that a wider race might have put Biden at a numerical disadvantage tomorrow, and, as you just refreshed us on this, and as Kornacki and others have talked about on our air, the difference between 13 percent and 16 is a difference between Biden being run out of the race and now maybe in a long delegate hunt, and that matchup, depending on Bloomberg as well.

Doug, always learned a lot from you since back in the day. Thanks for being here.

HERMAN:  Thank you, Ari. Much appreciated.

MELBER:  Yes, sir.

Coming up, we have a very special report. This is new reporting you will see only on THE BEAT. We`re going to break down the spending in the Democratic primary, how many votes candidates are actually getting for each of their investments and what it may tell you about the road ahead.

Then there`s a story we have been covering all day on MSNBC, the death toll in the United States rising from coronavirus. We have updates on that and a lot more in tonight`s show.

I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER:  Three candidates, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and billionaire Tom Steyer, have all dropped out of this presidential race just in the last three days, as we are getting the first multistate picture of how all the candidates have campaigned, what they spent, and what has worked.

Now, the clues in these new results which I`m about to share with you, they could actually shape how Democrats plan the general election campaign against Donald Trump, especially since there are billionaires still arguing that funding your own campaign provides an edge.

Does it? Well, all of this brings us to a special report I mentioned earlier that`s happening right now. We`re digging into the spending and what the campaigns got for it.

Take a look at what many top voter-funded candidates have spent during this key period when four states voted. You can see Sanders there spending money in four states and beyond. Biden spent just half of Sanders` spending, and most of the other candidates are falling right there on the left middle, with the exception of Klobuchar, who had far less.

Now, what I just showed you is what the entire race would normally look like. But, as you have heard about it, what`s so different right now, which could matter tomorrow on Super Tuesday, is adding in these billionaires plowing their own money into the race.

Take a look, Tom Steyer spending, we now know, $250 million in about four states of competition. He`s already dropped out. And then, boom, fittingly in green, your tallest bar chart there, Bloomberg spending three times what, say, Bernie Sanders has spent.

Now, Bloomberg emphasizes the $400 million you`re looking at was not for the first four states. It`s for Super Tuesday and beyond.

Now, I want to be clear. Many different organizations and news media track this kind of spending, and it`s increased in the last decade. What you`re looking at right here was some reporting MSNBC`s Rachel Maddow did previewing the dramatic difference in ad spending back in January.

Well, tonight, our new reporting shows that disparity only growing. Steyer poured this $250 million of his own money into the campaign, and then he dropped out Saturday. Bloomberg`s spending is increasingly looking like a problem for Joe Biden.

And we should note, of course, along the way, both billionaires drawing plenty of punchlines.


TREVOR NOAH, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH":  Tom Steyer is spending more on ads in one state than other candidates have spent in their entire campaign.

If you just show people something enough times, eventually, they will be like, yes, I like that. That`s why Cheerios is a thing.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT":  He`s spending so much money on this election that right now this might actually be a commercial for him, and we don`t know it.


SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS":  Forty-seven million. Instead of running for president, he could have funded grassroots organizing or just offered that same money to Donald Trump to quit.


MELBER:  Which you can question whether that would work or not.

Now, our special report right now focuses on one part of this question. First of all, does more money automatically equal more votes? And if it doesn`t, then maybe the spending doesn`t have to matter as much as people think.

And that`s certainly important if you have a billionaire telling you, vote for me tomorrow because my money will beat Trump.

Now, what we have done is crunched an estimated money per vote for each candidate thus far.

A big caveat before I show you any of the estimates. As you know, with voting tomorrow, all the numbers are fluid. They will change as the primaries continue and as we get more results. But we`re journalists and we count as we go.

So take a look at these new numbers. Joe Biden actually has the best return on investment at $190 spent per vote. And you see Sanders who, even though he`s spent more than Warren, also has a better money-per-vote ratio than her so far.

And then, very interesting, look at Steyer, who dropped out after his disappointing South Carolina finish. The guy who spent the most is over there, where you don`t want to be, spending $3,000 per vote. That is not, in business terms, a good return on investment.

Now, again, these numbers could look very different by tomorrow, or at least tomorrow night, when you have the different results. Sanders, for example, has spent a lot of money on later Super Tuesday states in a show of strength. So he might see the return on investment change.

And there`s one candidate who`s not shown here at all. And that`s Michael Bloomberg. We don`t have any results because he has run a strategy where he`s spending, spending, spending, but insisting don`t count anything yet because he`s not on the ballot.

But if we`re going to discuss money per vote, we couldn`t leave him out completely. So what we have done here is run a potential outcome for you.

Here are the candidates so far. We showed you those numbers. Now, this is what it would look like if Bloomberg got, say, the same number of votes, hypothetically, as the popular vote leader, Joe Biden. This is really important. Bloomberg still would have spent over $1,000 per vote, and still less per vote than his fellow billionaire Tom Steyer, and not much more than Elizabeth Warren.

Now, that`s a hypothetical. What if he finished at the bottom of the pack, though, with the same amount of votes as, say, Klobuchar? Well, we will learn a lot more tomorrow, but he would be at $4,000 per vote, making him, again, a pretty bad democracy businessman, with the lowest return on investment of any major candidate.

Now, these numbers will keep changing. And two of those bars were hypotheticals. The rest were real. But this breakdown is important. What`s clear right now is, for one -- and we heard this anecdotally from voters on the ground in South Carolina -- money doesn`t buy votes.

There are many different factors. And there`s also what people stand for. And there`s also, basically, what does it mean if somebody spends so much and doesn`t have preexisting credibility with voters, that they actually start to second-guess the influx of constant ads telling them what to do?

But does that mean that it`s all OK and it`s all good and Citizens United doesn`t matter? Well, we have got special experts to walk us through the nuances of this and how you should think about what you`re going to learn on Super Tuesday, when we`re back in just 30 seconds.


MELBER:  Welcome come back to THE BEAT.

We are looking forward to Super Tuesday tomorrow.

And we have new numbers breaking down the money per vote in the 2020 Democratic race. We just showed you some of it, what each candidate has spent when you actually look at money per vote in the first four states.

Take a look now at the top two front-runners. This is something new -- top three, I should say. You have got Biden, Sanders, and then Steyer there is someone who just dropped out. And you see the drastically different approaches to spending, Steyer with more than seven times the spending of Sanders on money per vote, and more than 17 times than Biden.

We`re going to get into all of this.

I`m joined by Bruce Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability, a watchdog group, but for money in politics, and political commentator Sally Kohn, who has joined us for all kinds of election coverage. We should note, she is supporting Elizabeth Warren in this context.

Great to see you both.


MELBER:  Bruce, I wonder if you could walk us through one of the takeaways here, which is both things can be true. There can be too much money in politics, and there`s a question of, how do you regulate that?

And if it was Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are doing much better while spending less than Bloomberg, that seems to speak to some of their potential strength as Democrats, instead of Bloomberg, against Trump.

But, in addition, what concerns you about the influx of spending? So take it away?

FREED:  Well, I think if you have the influx of spending that is uncontrolled and unchecked, that that really becomes very corrupting.

I think, at the presidential level, you do have a concern about wealthy individuals coming in and dominating. I think we have seen many small donors in this race. I think, when you go down-ballot, and you look at the corporate money coming in, that`s where you have very serious problems, because it`s dominant at that level.

MELBER:  Does it concern you if someone can throw so many dollars at a race? Or does South Carolina, with the example of Steyer -- and we could put the sum of the Steyer chart back up -- does that actually show that, whether people would like less money in politics or not, the limit there, him spending $3,000 just to get a vote, compared to Biden`s $190, does show the limits of that impact?

FREED:  You know, a candidate has to have a message. A candidate has to be able to resonate with voters and connect with voters.

Tom Steyer couldn`t. He was on a vanity trip. Joe Biden is connecting with voters. People have known him. It`s the same thing with Bernie Sanders, who`s connecting with voters because of deep concerns that they have.

So money can get you to a certain level, but money can`t take you all the way.

MELBER:  Are you saying that money can`t buy you love?


FREED:  I think it becomes very difficult.

MELBER:  Difficult, but not impossible?

FREED:  Not impossible, but very, very difficult.

MELBER:  Well, I appreciate your getting into the soul of it.

FREED:  Oh, you`re welcome.

MELBER:  Stay with me.


MELBER:  Sally Kohn, I want to show another side-by-side. This is from the same numbers, but simplifying it in a way that, well, many Biden people might like.

Look at Joe Biden`s spending just vs. Sanders. He would make the argument, with a lot of the popular vote, that he`s done it thus far, first four states, more efficiently.

SALLY KOHN, WRITER/ACTIVIST:  Yes, here`s the thing, though.

Efficiency, sure great. But all money isn`t equal, right? And the question is, where`s the money coming from? And, look, there`s been research that has shown the same results as what your team is showing, which is that spending on elections doesn`t necessarily lead to more votes.

But, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. So the question is, what are they getting? And what we know is that corporate money and big-dollar, big-donor money gets those investors. And they are investors.

They are getting a return on their investment, and that is in policy. So, for instance, we know that members of Congress are more likely, their staffs say they are more likely to take a letter from corporate -- from corporations in their district as a litmus test of the popular opinion in their district than letters from constituents, right?

We know that -- take pharmaceuticals, for instance, high issue right now. Last year, there was a hearing in front of the committee; 27 out of 28 members of that committee got a total of $1.6 million from pharmaceutical industries.

Why don`t we have action on drug prices? Gee, I wonder.

We -- the other factor here is, it`s not just whose money goes in, but also which candidates going. So, for instance, we`re seeing -- while we`re seeing more gay candidates, more women elected to office, we`re actually seeing the number of working-class people in politics go down.

And studies show that working class people, when they are in politics, are more likely to put the interests of the working class in front, instead of lifting up the interest of billionaires and big corporations.

So that`s -- that`s the problem with the money.

MELBER:  Such great points on the systemic drag down. It`s hard enough for a lot of the causes you`re mentioning to even get heard. And then you`re saying, basically, it`s been dragged down by those efforts.

So, Bruce, where does that fit into this?

FREED:  Oh, well, I think a real problem that you have today is that, where you have corporate money, in many cases, it`s targeted.

We have done groundbreaking research at the center on this, where we have looked at corporate money going in through 527 committees, political committees that really reached distorted national and state politics over the past decade.

Now, the amount of money in the 527s pales in terms of the overall number, but the fact that it`s targeted, the fact that it`s targeted at specific states has meant that you have had the overturning of state legislatures, elections of governors.

MELBER:  Right.

FREED:  And, again, when Sally talks about, the changes in policy. That`s where you can see major differences.

MELBER:  And so, Bruce, as someone who tracks this so closely, I`m curious about the big question.

And it`s -- it`s -- in a way, it`s unanswerable, and yet that doesn`t mean it should be completely ignored, which is, if Mike Bloomberg inefficiently, as we`re pointing out, massively spent his way to a certain result, does that overcount his political strength?

In other words, one of the arguments he`s made very directly in this sort of 1 percent era is, he has enough money to go against Trump. And we were out interviewing voters. And there`s quantitative and qualitative, but, qualitatively, anecdotally, I heard people say, I don`t know. If he has enough money, maybe that would help the Democratic Party.

Do you think this in a way cuts against it? Is there a way that the narrators or people tracking this should remind voters to kind of look at some of it per capita, if you will?

FREED:  I think, in the end, it`s going to be the type of message and being able to connect with voters.

So, you can spend a massive amount of money, but if you can`t resonate and connect, if voters don`t feel that you`re going to be able to help them and meet their needs, then you`re going to go down.


And, Sally, briefly, I want to show you the Warren graph we have as well. I mentioned that you support Elizabeth Warren.

Thus far, it is worth noting there she also has spent more to get less more per vote. I want to let you weigh in.

KOHN:  Yes. All money isn`t the same.

I mean, yes, all money is dirty. I am that old lefty, but not all money is the same in this case.


KOHN:  And, by the way, maybe if Bloomberg had been more efficient with his electoral spending and less efficient with stop and frisk, we`d be having a different conversation.

The thing here is -- to think about Warren, first of all, is that, like Sanders, those are largely small donors. She`s not taking big corporate money. She`s just not taking checks from big donors.

And, second, look, the reason that we had Buttigieg and Klobuchar and even Steyer drop out is because they fear the Democratic Party moving to the left. The reason Warren is staying in is because she wants to see the Democratic Party move to the left, to be more accountable to working people and people at the grassroots level.

And she wants to see the party that can actually get stuff done. That`s while she`s still in the race.


MELBER:  You`re hitting it. And we have a lot on that tonight.

Is that what`s going on here? Do you think there`s more of those Warren- Sanders liberals in the party right now than Biden people?

KOHN:  Look, she`s consistently the second choice among a number of the candidates.

I think, when we talk about a unity candidate who is both progressive and can get stuff done, that is Elizabeth Warren.

MELBER:  Really interesting. We like to hear from everyone.

Sally Kohn and Bruce Freed, my thanks to both of you on a very interesting conversation.

KOHN:  Thank you.

MELBER:  As mentioned, we had a late add to our rundown, maybe because so much is going on around Biden right now.

Michael Moore joins us tonight on the clash.

Stay with us.


MELBER:  Welcome back to THE BEAT.

It is the eve of the all-important Super Tuesday primary. That is the time when, as you have heard for weeks, everything could change.

And Joe Biden clearly got a lifeline. We have been covering that in a number of ways tonight, and we heard from a Biden supporter at the top of the show.

Now we turn to Oscar-winning filmmaker and prominent Bernie Sanders supporter Michael Moore, who has been out campaigning with the senator.

You decided to join us late. I was very transparent with the viewers in telling them you weren`t an initial part of the show, but you wanted to get in.

And my first question is, why is it so important to jump on the phone tonight? What do you think of the coalescing by some in the Democratic Party around Joe Biden tonight?

MICHAEL MOORE, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER:  Thank you, Ari, for having me on.

I thought it was important to come on and say a few words, as a Bernie supporter, on this network, that the coalescing that`s happening tonight, that`s happened in the last 24 hours, is clearly, obviously, intended to try and stop Bernie`s momentum.

Bernie still is the front-runner. He still has the most delegates. He`s still number one in all the nationwide polls. And he`s number one in a majority of the polls for tomorrow`s election.

So, this -- they did everything they could up until this point. They couldn`t stop the momentum. And now -- I mean, it`s so sad that Mayor Pete and Amy couldn`t -- somehow, they couldn`t even get to -- they couldn`t even go 24 more hours.

It wasn`t going to cost them any more money, wasn`t going to cost them any more work, just to -- just -- they have put a year of their lives into this.

But, obviously, I mean, this push has been going on since before the last 24 hours to get people to drop out and coalesce around somebody. Remember, three weeks ago, it was that Bloomberg was going to be the savior. And then the debate happened.

And then Biden had this great victory on Saturday. And so now he`s the one.


So, Michael, since you bring up the other candidates, let me jump in and press you on that.

MOORE:  Yes.

MELBER:  And, as you know, we debate it out with everybody here, so people can make up their own minds.


MOORE:  Yes.

MELBER:  You just cited several people that did build a type of support. Certainly, Amy Klobuchar is a senator from Minnesota, has her constituents, and she has her campaign supporters, Pete Buttigieg, a newer voice who built a national following.

You seem to be putting their choices in a negative light. What do you say to them and their allies who would argue that, A, they`re making a positive choice for Joe Biden and what he represents in the party, and, B, to the extent that there`s a rush, some argue that it`s a rush because they seriously worry about the Sanders agenda on policy and the Sanders political standing on the ability to beat Donald Trump?

MOORE:  Well, the first part of that is right.

They are worried about Bernie Sanders` policies and the things he`s going to do to bring health care available to all Americans, not according to how much they have got in their wallet, and all the other things that he`s going to do has frightened them.

Listen, I have lived long enough -- and, Ari, you have too, even at your young age.


MOORE:  You have lived through enough elections.

Tell me one time when you have seen major candidates, especially Mayor Pete, who won and tied an election, a primary, when we have seen them drop out the night before the big enchilada, the night before?

You know when they drop out? The day after, say, the Super Tuesday primary, which is tomorrow, the day after...

MELBER:  Well, let`s get down to it.

Are you arguing, Michael...


MOORE:  Who drops out the night before?

MELBER:  You`re asking questions, but you`re here to give your view of the answers.

Are you arguing something sinister about the Democratic Party here?

MOORE:  No, no, no, I`m agreeing with you that they are afraid of Bernie Sanders.

And so this is a Hail Mary move to, let`s get them all on the stage tonight. Let`s get -- whatever has to happen. You have -- whatever discussions went on before yesterday, they were convinced that this is the move.

They should have been allowed to go through the election tomorrow and they have their voters vote for them. But this is -- the whole concept, this is what bothers me about really either party, but I hate to see it when it happens in our party, where we want to take the right of the people to have their say. And that`s tomorrow.

Let them have their say, whether they want Biden or Bernie or Pete or Amy. But, no, we`re going to take that away. They drop out.


MOORE:  Nobody drops out the night before a primary, nobody.


MELBER:  Let me play for you.


MELBER:  I think -- I hear you on that. You`re making that point.

There`s another point about who they`re rallying around.

We reported earlier tonight the reminder that Joe Biden`s run for president three times. This weekend is the first time he`s ever won a state.

MOORE:  For 32 years.

MELBER:  There are Democratic Party insiders who...

MOORE:  Thirty-two years of running, he`s won one state.

MELBER:  Here`s what -- and here`s what you said about Joe Biden, your warning to Democrats. This was quite a while back.

I want to play for this -- in October. Take a listen.


MOORE:  Joe Biden is the center. Joe Biden is this year`s Hillary. Joe Biden is not going to excite the base to get out there and vote on November 3, 2020.

Seventy percent of the people voting next year are either women, people of color, or young people between the ages of 18 and 35. That`s 70 percent.


MELBER:  How do you square that with South Carolina?

MOORE:  South Carolina is not representative of the United States.

I mean, that`s just -- that`s just the facts. South Carolina will have absolutely no impact on the November 3 election. This -- it is still the same. It`s that the 70 percent of those eligible this November are young people, are people of color, and are women.

They are going to decide the election. And so what we have now are three primaries or caucuses that Bernie either won or tied and then Saturday.

For people tonight to just get so excited about, oh, Biden finally had a win, finally, after 32 years of running for president.


MELBER:  This is my last question, Michael.

MOORE:  Yes.

MELBER:  Do you think that those people -- and you are referring to some of them -- do you think they are excited about Joe Biden, or do you think they are falling in line for anyone who they believe can stop Sanders?

MOORE:  I think they`re falling in line. They`re not thinking tonight about who can stop Donald Trump.

They`re thinking about who could stop Bernie Sanders. And it`s sad to see that. And it`s sad for anybody to be thinking about voting for Biden because they`re afraid.

They`re -- voting out of fear -- if you`re afraid of Trump now...

MELBER:  Right.

MOORE:  ... if that`s what really is behind this, that if you go -- if you vote for a candidate, that we take fear into the general election, running on fear, we will lose to Trump if we will vote on fear.

We have to vote on strength and our belief system.


MELBER:  I`m going to let that be your closing point.

MOORE:  Yes.

MELBER:  And I appreciate you phoning in.

And, as you know, we have had you in person. We will have you back in person again.


MELBER:  Michael Moore speaking for Sanders on a big night, thank you.

Let me tell the viewers what I`m going to do right now.

As promised, we have one update on the coronavirus story, and then, when we come back later in the show, I have something special for you.

Coronavirus, though, I should tell you right now, the update, as promised, it has gone increasingly deadly in the United States, six Americans now dead in Washington state. Health officials say it was spreading undetected for up to six weeks. They are talking about -- quote -- "pandemic proportions."



We`re dealing with clearly an emerging infectious disease that has now reached outbreak proportions and likely pandemic proportions.


MELBER:  New cases confirmed on the East Coast, Florida, Rhode Island and in New York.

The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, as well as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, are saying there`s -- quote -- "no doubt" there will be more cases, but they see this as manageable.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY):  In general, there is no doubt that there will be more cases where we find people who test positive.

We said early on it wasn`t a question of if, but when.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK:  I want to emphasize today how important it is to turn for that help, to go get that help the second you think you might need it.

So, the facts, in fact, show us that this is a situation that can be managed.


MELBER:  As for managing it, this is the nationwide total, 93 known cases, with experts saying that could continue to grow.

As mentioned, we will continue to bring you updates in this hour and throughout our coverage on MSNBC.

Now, when we come back, I want to show you some special stuff we have heard reporting on the trail listening directly to voters in more than one state.

We have something very special, to show it to you altogether, what people are saying -- when we come back.


MELBER:  Millions more voters will be weighing in on this presidential race tomorrow.

And on THE BEAT, we have been out listening to voters in a range of places from key early states, like New Hampshire and South Carolina this weekend, to the home state of the current president, as well as new candidate Mike Bloomberg.

And, right now, we want to share some of the best highlights with you.


MELBER:  Do who you know you`re voting for?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The other half of "The New York Times"` endorsement for Amy Klobuchar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I like Bernie Sanders.

MELBER:  Who did you vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I voted for Joe Biden.


MELBER:  Who did you vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don`t -- I actually am not going to tell you who I voted for.

MELBER:  You`re not going to do -- what if -- wait, hold on, hold on.


MELBER:  Wait. Let me try something. You know I`m a journalist.


MELBER:  Will you please tell me who you voted for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Anybody but Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is our time to make a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I reflected on being here in New Hampshire. We`re very mindful that the country, that the world is looking at the choices we make.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I like Elizabeth, and I want to see a woman in the White House, for sure.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  But I also kind of like Bernie. I want to make like a hybrid, like Berlizabeth.

MELBER:  When you look at Bernie Sanders, what do you think? Can you say it on television?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I cannot. I cannot.

MELBER:  What about you?


MELBER:  Do you have a second choice behind Biden, or it`s Biden all the way, all the way the convention?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  An apology is not enough for me to put Bloomberg in office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Billionaire, billionaire.

MELBER:  It`s all about the commas.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I just think that the term Democratic socialist is going to be used as a weapon against Bernie Sanders.

MELBER:  It looks like you`re for Bernie Sanders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I am, yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I just graduated, have a ton of debt, so he really resonated with me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think that the far, far left might be not able to attract the independent and the disgruntled Republican voter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I`m an independent. I went Republican and did a protest vote and voted for Bill Weld.

MELBER:  When did you decide?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I decided yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I decided today.

MELBER:  Who did you vote for?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Elizabeth Warren.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My parents live in South Carolina, so I came to visit them.

I kind of had to pull them along, tug them along into knowing, hey, guys, this is what Bernie stands for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I`m British. So I know that Medicare for all can work.

MELBER:  Do you know who you`re voting for?


MELBER:  Joe Biden. Why?


Well, because we got to get the country back on track. Donald Trump`s been in there long enough. And we`re just kind of looking out for the future for the young kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We will vote for whoever the candidate is, no matter what, because we want to beat Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And let`s bring this thing to an end and get Trump out of office, plain and simple.




MELBER:  Thanks for watching THE BEAT tonight.

We want to let you know that, have you heard about what`s going on tomorrow? It is Super Tuesday. And our coverage is all day on MSNBC.

Don`t go anywhere right now, though.