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Trump holds town hall TRANSCRIPT: 3/5/20, MSNBC Live

Guests: Kathleen Sebelius, Zerlina Maxwell, David Frum, Annie Karni, Val Demings, Ro Khanna, Gabe Debenedetti, Katie Glueck

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We will stay on that story, but we are out of time tonight.

That does it for me. I`ll see you back here tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Keep it right here on MSNBC.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki in New York. And the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is now effectively a face-off between former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Earlier today, Senator Elizabeth Warren suspended her campaign after a disappointing performance on Super Tuesday. She failed to win a single state, that includes her home State of Massachusetts. Warren addressed reporters with some supporters in the background after informing her staff of her decision.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I was told at the beginning of this whole undertaking that there are two lanes, a progressive lane that Bernie Sanders is the incumbent for and a moderate lane that Joe Biden is the incumbent for and there`s no room for anyone else in this. I thought that wasn`t right, but, evidently, I wasn`t wrong.

REPORTER: Will you be making an endorsement today? I know you spoke with both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders yesterday.

WARREN: Not today. Not today. I need a little space around this and I want to take a little time to think a little more.


KORNACKI: After declining to endorse Biden or Sanders at least at this time, Warren was asked if she had any advice for women who supported her but are now faced with a choice between two men.


REPORTER: And I wonder what your message would be to the women and girls who feel like we`re left with two white men to decide between.

WARREN: I know. One of the hardest parts of this is all those pinkie promises and all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years. That`s going to be hard.


KORNACKI: Both Biden and Sanders spoke with Warren by phone yesterday before her decision to drop out. In the fight to win over her supporters, it is already under way.

In a tweet, Biden praised Warren called her, quote, the fiercest of fighters for the middle class families, adding, quote, we needed her voice in this race and we need her continued work in the Senate. For his part, Sanders made a direct appeal to Warren supporters and also took a shot at Biden.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Warren has made it very strong in making it clear that we have a corrupt political system in which billionaires are buying elections. And right now, what you`re seeing is Wall Street opening up its checkbook to Joe Biden.

Today, I would simply say to her supporters out there, of whom there are millions, we are opening the door to you. We love you to come on board. Together, I think we can win this primary process.


KORNACKI: And I`m joined by Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida. She endorsed Joe Biden today. Congresswoman, thank you for joining us.

Well, you`re with Joe Biden, so let me ask you. Elizabeth Warren is out of the race, her supporters are up for grabs, what`s the pitch from the Biden standpoint? You heard Elizabeth Warren talking about lanes there, progressive and moderate. You got Warren supporting Medicare-for-all, you got Sanders supporting Medicare-for-all. Your guy, Biden, on the other side on that. So what`s the pitch, why should they join Biden`s campaign?

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Well, Steve, it`s good to be with you. And, look, it was basically a bitter moment to watch Senator Warren leave the campaign. I know her. I`ve seen the work that she`s done. And I heard the conversation earlier about, you know, when will America elect a woman.

However, I believe that if every person in the race would remember that they`re working not for themselves but for the American people, people who have to go to work every day, people who struggle every day, and I do believe that you can do that. I do believe you can find that middle lane to get things done for the American people and you can do it without demonizing people who don`t have to go to work every day.

In this chaotic time, disruptive time in America`s history right now with the current president, we need somebody who is going to unify this country. We need somebody who`s going to unify the Democratic Party. And I just happen to believe that Joe Biden is the right person, right time.

KORNACKI: What would you say on the issues though? You`re making a case there about unity, you`re making a case about going after Donald Trump, but what would you say on the issues, because there were some clear issues there? I mentioned Medicare-for-all, where there`s a significant difference between where Bernie Sanders is and where Joe Biden is. And when you look on paper, that`s -- Warren is where Sanders is.

DEMINGS: You know, Steve, when I was elected or sworn into Congress in 2017, I thought maybe my -- the first item on my agenda would be protecting our teachers and public education or public safety, criminal justice reform. But it ended up being working hard to save Obamacare. And so I just believe -- I think what Senator Sanders and Vice President Biden want is for every American to have access to healthcare.

And I just believe quite frankly that we should build on the work that has already been done by Vice President Biden in the Obama administration to expand and improve the Affordable Care Act.

But the bottom line is, and I think both candidates agree, that every person living in the greatest country in the world, that`s what we say, should have access to healthcare. Let`s figure out a way to make that happen.

KORNACKI: Well, before Warren dropped out today, Sanders and Biden were already treating this as a two-person race and stepping up their attacks on each other.


SANDERS: Well, what is important for us is to contrast of our record, our vision for the future.

Joe Biden voted for the war in Iraq.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a guy who voted against the Brady Bill five times.

SANDERS: Joe voted for the Wall Street bailout. I was disgusted by that bail out.

BIDEN: I`m the guy that helped bail out the automobile industry. What did you do, old buddy? Come on.

SANDERS: You`re talking to a candidate uniquely who has taken on the entire corporate establishment. You`re talking to a candidate who is taking on the political establishment.

BIDEN: Bernie, you got beaten by overwhelming support I have from the African-American community, Bernie. You`ve got beaten because of suburban women, Bernie. You`ve got beaten because of middle class, hardworking folks out there, Bernie. You`ve raised a lot more money than I have, Bernie.


KORNACKI: I`m curious, Congresswoman. How did it come to this, in the Democratic Party, this gigantic field we were talking about last year, two dozen candidates were out there the most diverse field in history, it ends up being 77-year-old Joe Biden versus 78-year-old Bernie Sanders? What`s going on in the Democratic Party that produced this?

DEMINGS: Well, Steve, I think the great thing that happened during this cycle was that, finally, America got to see the diversity that really exemplifies what America looks like, what we celebrate in America. And you`re absolutely right, now we`re down to two these candidates.

But I believe the American people in this government of the people, by the people and for the people, the American people have spoken. They spoke in South Carolina, I think, loudly and clearly, they spoke on Super Tuesday loudly and clearly, and I think that the good spirited debate that we will see between the vice president and Senator Sanders about the issues, they both will defend their records.

What I know, and my husband likes to say the best indicator of future performance is to look at past performance, when I look at Vice President Biden`s record, he has been there through some of the toughest times fighting for things that the American people cared about and when it was not popular to have those fights.

And so I look forward to the primary in Florida on March 19th. And we just need to get this done because we definitely need a new president in the White House.

KORNACKI: All right. Congresswoman Val Demings from Florida, again, supporting former Vice President Joe Biden, thank you for joining us. I appreciate that.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has made his ability to bring in new voters a central argument for why he should get the nomination. But as The New York Times points out, quote, in state after state, there has been little evidence that he`s generated higher turnout among young voters. He has promised to deliver record turnout. It may in fact be Mr. Biden who was accomplishing that lifted by his strong support among black voters.

My colleague, Rachel Maddow, asked Sanders about this last night.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: What is going wrong with your campaign when it comes to competing in the south and competing specifically for black voters?

In California, you`re being well-outpaced by Joe Biden among black voters.

SANDERS: Well, we are winning among people of color in a very significant degree. We are winning --

MADDOW: Let`s talk about black voters though, specifically because there has been a persistent problem. You knew it was a problem in 2016, might have cost you the nomination then. It hasn`t gotten better.

SANDERS: Well, we`re running against somebody who has touted his relationship with Barack Obama for eight years. Barack Obama is enormously popular in this country in general and the African-American community.


KORNACKI: And NBC reported today that, quote, Bernie Sanders is canceling a Friday speech in Jackson, Mississippi to campaign in Michigan. It`s a sign the campaign is shifting focus after his poor showing in the southern states so far in this campaign.

I`m joined now by California Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna, is a co- Chair of the Sanders campaign. Congressman, thank you for joining us.

Let me start on that news we just had there, shifting attention from Mississippi, next door, in Alabama, it was 53-16, Biden over Sanders the other, and up to Michigan, where Bernie Sanders won that big victory over Hillary Clinton. It was a narrow but big in terms of of its significance in 2016. Given what happened on Tuesday, your campaign is going to be behind in the delegate count, he`s looking at big losses in southern states like Mississippi. Is Michigan must-win next week for Bernie Sanders?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): No, it`s not. I mean, we are going to be about 20 to 30 delegates behind once California is fully counted. That`s extraordinary. I mean, in the context of 600 delegates, no one gave Bernie Sanders a chance when this race started. We`re neck and neck, it`s a two-person race now with Vice President Joe Biden.

I actually think what`s going to be determinative is their debate. I mean, the country is going to see Vice President Biden and Senator Sanders lay out two very different visions for the future of the party. And that`s I think what`s going to make the biggest difference.

KORNACKI: I asked your colleague, Congresswoman Demings, a Biden supporter, make the pitch to the Warren voters up who are up grabs. From her standpoint, she seemed to be getting at the idea of pragmatism, electability, uniting the party. These were the themes she was talking about. What`s your pitch, Sanders supporter? You`ve got Warren voters out there. how do you get them on board?

KHANNA: First of all, I`m going to say Elizabeth Warren is an intellectual giant. She made the largest intellectual contributions in the 2020 cycle and to the future of the progressive movement. She needs to have a huge role in any future administration or future progressive movement.

And I would say, look not at the personalities but the platform. Senator Sanders and Senator Warren are both for Medicare-for-all, they are both free public college, they are both for saving student loan debt, they`re both for child care. Frankly, we were influenced in my ways by Senator Warren`s proposals and we will adopt many of those proposal. And I think, ultimately, policy is what should drive the people`s decisions.

KORNACKI: Let me ask you too. We played the clip of Rachel Maddow talking to Bernie Sanders last night. I struck me too looking at the results on Super Tuesday, in South Carolina as well, when you look back at 2016, Bernie Sanders was getting blown out among black voters. Black voters are a quarter of the Democratic Party, won in (ph) for votes in these primaries cast by African-Americans. He was getting in the mid-teens in 2016, he had four years to try to build more support and he`s getting in the mid-teens again. Is that a problem ultimately that`s going to keep him from getting the nomination? Can you win the Democratic nomination, do you think, if you can only get 15 percent among black voters?

KHANNA: Black voters are the most important constituency in the Democratic Party, not just because of the numbers but because of the moral significance of black voters to everything we stand for. And, look, we need to do better. We need to meet with more leaders. We need to meet with more leaders in Congress, in the civil rights community, in the church communities, more of the journalists and listen and hear what we can do better. And that`s something the Senator and all of us are committed to doing.

That said, I do believe the senator is right, that Joe Biden has a decades long relationship with this community. He was the vice president for the most popular recent Democrat in American history and he`s formidable. And the way we know this is even other candidates weren`t coming close to him in the African-American vote. I don`t think there`s anyone in the field really that could have given him a run with that group of voters.

KORNACKI: All right. Congressman Ro Khanna, supporter of Bernie Sanders, thank you for joining us.

KHANNA: I appreciate it.

KORNACKI: And I`m joined by Katie Glueck, Political Reporter for The New York Times, and Gabe Debenedetti, New York Magazine National Correspondent.

Gabe, let me start with you. Ro Khanna just said Michigan is not a must-win for the Sanders campaign, but they are certainly treating it as if it`s very important. Talk about when you look at the landscape next week and what`s to come, what Michigan means to Sanders next week.

GABE DEBENEDETTI, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, I think the important thing here is that Michigan is really a symbol for the Bernie Sanders campaign and has been especially since 2016 when it was the state that really convinced Sanders with his win over Hillary Clinton that he could do this and he could fight all the way to the convention and potentially win at the time.

His win, of course, then was quite a surprise and they`re hoping to pull something off that`s similar this time. I think it`s very significant to see that he decided not to give a speech in Mississippi, a speech that people in his campaign were saying was going to be pretty important as recently as two or three days ago. I remember in 2016, traveling with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, that night, it is true that Bernie Sanders won Michigan. Hillary Clinton won Mississippi that night by a huge margin and ended quite a bit ahead in terms of delegates.

So for the longest, you`ve had the Sanders campaign arguing, we`re going to be far ahead after Super Tuesday in terms of delegates. This is going to be a momentum play for Sanders. That`s certainly not the case now after the 72 hours or 96 hours that we`ve seen now.

The fact of the matter is, they understand the symbolic import of Michigan nationally in terms of a general election, but also the primary, because it`s a state that went for Donald Trump last time unexpectedly, of course, but also because it is a very diverse state, a historically Democratic state and a state with a huge working class white populous. And Bernie Sanders has for a long time that he`s going to be able to be the person to best represent their community and best to win over that community. That`s also been central to Joe Biden`s entire appeal here. So there`s a reason that they`re focusing on this so much.

They may say it`s not must win. Of course, they are probably going to win a lot of delegates in Washington, for example, next weekend as well. But there is a reason that Bernie Sanders is adding events there and spending so much time there.

KORNACKI: And you`re right too on the delegate point. You get blown out in Mississippi even if you win Michigan but just narrowly, you fall behind in the delegate race that`s ultimately going to decide this.

Katie, Elizabeth Warren, we`re talking about her supporters. There`s that a poll, actually Reuters/Ipsos poll that say, it`s basically a split, Warren voters, on who they go for. But perhaps if Warren herself weighed in that would change, what is she going to do then?

KATIE GLUECK, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So she has a couple options. Of course, she could endorse Joe Biden, she could endorse Bernie Sanders, she could decide like a number of her other former colleagues in the presidential race to take a step back and not do anything right now.

What is really notable about that poll, and something that I was hearing from a lot of Democratic strategists today, is that it is not a given that despite the ideological similarities between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders that Warren`s supporters automatically go to Bernie Sanders. A lot of her supporters, the white college-educated women, and they liked Elizabeth Warren for all kinds of reasons but wasn`t necessarily driven only by ideology.

And so I was speaking with a number of progressive strategists today who said it is going to be a real fight for the support of these voters, and Both Biden and Sanders have a case to make.

KORNACKI: That debate too, Ro Khanna mentioned, coming up, I think it`s March 15th that`s scheduled for us. We`ve got a set of primaries on the 10th and then the 17th, that`s Florida, Ohio, Illinois, in those states, and a debate there.

One on one, Sanders and Biden, totally different dynamic. You don`t disappear for 20 minutes while the other ten candidates talk. What`s that going to be like?

DEBENEDETTI: Yes. Well, first of, the Sanders people are saying over and over, and, again, this is reminiscent of 2016, but we shouldn`t go too far down that route. They`re saying the race is reset, this is when voters are really going to tune in on a one-on-one deep ideological fight that`s going to break out on stage likely here.

But let`s also point out where this is going to happen. This is going to happen in Phoenix. Arizona is another state that`s going to be very important here symbolically as well as in terms of the delegate haul, because it is another state that is very diverse. Bernie Sanders has said for all of the talk about how he hasn`t been able to expand his base that he has actually expanded quite a bit with Latino voters in particular.

So I would look at Arizona in addition to Florida, in addition to Illinois, in addition to a lot of these states. But there`s no doubt, of course, that this next debate, because it`s unlike anything we`ve seen before, the smallest debate until now was five or six people, this is going to be one- on-one.

And, really, in many ways, the purest distillation of the ideological fight that the Democratic Party has been having for the last three years on stage for two hours.

KORNACKI: Yes. The candidates go from getting like ten minutes of time to an hour of time basically over the course of it. Katie Glueck, Gabe Debenedetti, thank you both for joining us.

And coming up, more than once, President Trump has claimed to know more about coronavirus than health experts. We`re going to talk about the dangers of misinformation with former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Plus, now that Joe Biden is the Democratic frontrunner again, President Trump is vowing to make discredited allegations of corruption a major issue in the fall campaign.

We`ve got much more to get to. Stay with us.


KORNACKI: Welcome back.

Concerns about the coronavirus outbreak caused more major losses on Wall Street today. Stocks fell more than 3 percent amid news that the virus and its effects on the global economy are showing no sign of slowing.

Around the world, nearly 300 million students are out of school now because of the virus.

South Africa confirmed its first case today, bringing the total number of countries affected to almost 90.

Here in the United States, where there are more than 200 confirmed cases, California declared a statewide emergency, joining Washington state, Florida and Hawaii in doing so.

The death toll in the United States now stands at 12, with a new death reported in Washington state.

Meanwhile, President Trump was again praising himself and criticizing his successor, Barack Obama, tweeting this -- quote -- "Gallup just gave us the highest rating ever for the way we are handling the coronavirus situation. The 2009-2010 swine flu, where nearly 13,000 people died in the U.S., was handled -- poorly handled. Who was the president then?"

Moments ago, in a FOX News town hall, Trump was asked about the long-term impact of the coronavirus on the economy and his reelection.

Here`s what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think people are viewing us as having done a very good job.

What we have to do is do a very professional job. Nobody is blaming us for the virus, nobody.


KORNACKI: And joining me now is Kathleen Sebelius, who served as secretary of health and human services under President Obama.

Thank you for joining us.

Well, I just read the tweet. You see what the president is saying about what happened under your administration`s watch when it came to the swine flu outbreak.

I just -- get your response to that.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, I -- I am just baffled as to why we have a president who thinks,, first of all, everything is all about him.

The chief job of president of the United States is the safety and security of the American public. And President Trump seems to not understand that role.

No question, the outbreak of H1N1, the so-called swine flu, in -- early in the Obama administration was a very serious issue, a new virus, no vaccine, young administration. President Obama had been there for a couple of months.

The outbreak was in North America, started in Mexico. We ended up with what CDC estimates now were about 65 million Americans who were infected. And President Trump is correct. Over 12,000 people died, which is 100 times lower than the worldwide death rate of this disease.

So I would say the administration did a very good job in very trying circumstances.

But this is serious. And this is about telling the American public the truth, telling them when they can expect a vaccine, how serious this might be.

I`m really alarmed, Steve, by what I saw President Trump do, which is to take on a verbal battle with the World Health Organization, suggesting somehow that they`re making up numbers about fatality rates.

What we know is that H1N1 in 2009-2010 was much less violent than it could have been, much less lethal, less lethal than the average flu, which is very good news. This flu, this virus, seems to be significantly more lethal.

And to try and downplay that, so people don`t take it seriously, to try and suggest that people should go to work, even if they`re not seriously ill, that it really doesn`t matter, is really dangerous to communities across America.

We`re lucky that the virus started halfway across the globe. We have had literally a couple of months to prepare. We`re still catching up with test kits and trying to figure out testing protocol, but, hopefully, the White House will stop talking and let the scientists tell the American public what they know and what they don`t know.

KORNACKI: I`m curious, too, just -- you have been through this, as you`re describing here, a decade ago with H1N1.

Just based on what you`re seeing around the world, based on what you`re now seeing here in the United States, based on what you know about how these outbreaks can go, about the vaccine process, how widespread does this have the potential, realistically, to be within the next few weeks, next few months?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think, again, I listen to experts like Dr. Tony Fauci, who I know well, who is world-renowned.

I mean, he said this is a very efficient virus, which means it spreads very easily. So, crowds are not a good place to be. Groups of people where the virus could be traveling around.

And I think what`s really important is to make sure the CDC has the resources and the bandwidth to update their Web site regularly, that people understand where the outbreak is occurring.

I was really pleased to see Congress step up in a very bipartisan fashion and figure out a package of resources. A lot of them will go to local and state public health departments. They will be on the forefront. A lot of them will go into preparedness to make sure that we begin to refill the stockpile of masks and ventilators, that hospitals can do surge capacity, that people are prepared.

And what`s likely to happen is that, as the summer months get hotter, the flu will die down, and so the virus is likely to get less serious, because there won`t be a lot of underlying sickness.

But, in the fall, it is likely to come roaring back. And if we miss these steps along the way, if we don`t take this seriously, if we don`t work on containment right now, we could be in for a very long and very deadly period.

KORNACKI: OK. Thank you to Kathleen Sebelius. Appreciate the time.


KORNACKI: And still ahead: With Super Tuesday in the rear-view mirror now, we`re going to go back over to the Big Board. We`re going to talk about some big races coming up next week.

What`s the delegate picture going to look like next Tuesday and the Tuesday after?

We are going to go through it all right after this.



GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): I have been watching this campaign play out, and there`s been sources of inspiration in a variety of candidates, but, as we go into Michigan`s election on Tuesday, I`m going to be voting for Joe Biden.


KORNACKI: All right, welcome back.

Well, the world, they say, is full of surprises. And let me show you one of them. It`s this.

It`s Joe Biden leading right now after Super Tuesday in the delegate count, the overall delegate count, over Bernie Sanders. Now, I should note there are still delegates being added up, being allocated from some of these states, particularly California, but not just California.

So these numbers are going to go up. Biden`s still going to go up. Sanders is still going to go up. But, when the dust settles, when all the delegates are counted from all the Super Tuesday states, it is going to be Biden leading Sanders as we head into the next round of primaries, big surprise, obviously, because the expectation, especially with California, and especially with where Biden was in the polls like a week ago, was that Sanders was going to be ahead 150, 200, 300 delegates, something like that.

And the story would be, was he -- did he have an insurmountable lead that nobody could catch?

Now the question is, does Biden have an opportunity next week, the week after, on the 17th, to take this small delegate lead and build it into something too big for Sanders to catch?

So, with that question in mind, let`s take a look here at what is coming up next Tuesday, March 10. This is going to be -- this is going to be the next set of primaries here.

And you can see a couple things to look at here. Number one, small state right, delegate-wise. Mississippi is a small state. But we have been watching Sanders get clobbered around the South, losing among black voters by 50, 60 points to Joe Biden.

It looks just like 2016, when Bernie Sanders couldn`t get out of the mid- teens among black voters. That being the case, this looks like it`s going to be a Biden rout. This is going to be the kind of place where Biden could get the vast majority of those 36 delegates, so, small state, but it could have a big delegate impact.

We talked a minute ago about Michigan. It`s the biggest prize next week. There`s a lot of symbolic importance to the question of who wins Michigan. From a delegate standpoint, even if Sanders wins this thing by a small margin, he would not make up for the delegate hit he`s likely to take in Mississippi.

Keep that in mind as the results come in next week. But Sanders obviously is gunning for a big win in Michigan. It would tell people, hey, the campaign is still certainly alive. So we will see what happens in Michigan.

I can note, there was a poll earlier this week. It was taken just like a day or two after South Carolina. It did have Biden leading in Michigan by seven points.

Well, there`s also Missouri. There`s a poll that was just out today in Missouri. This is a state where the margin was razor-thin Clinton-Sanders in 2016. The poll in Missouri today said Biden by four.

So keep an interesting eye there on Missouri. There`s been a question about some of that rural white support that Sanders had in 2016 against Hillary Clinton. Was it more anti-Clinton than pro-Sanders?

We will get a sense of that answer, I think, when the Missouri vote comes in, a lot of sort of conservative white vote there in Missouri.

North Dakota there switching to a primary this year, a firehouse primary. Means the hours are a little bit -- it`s a little bit like those Republican caucuses in Iowa, where the party runs it, and they -- they can show up at sort of tighter hours to vote. But we will see what happens in North Dakota. Idaho could be a little promising for Sanders as well.

And then there`s this. This is the biggest variable next, Washington state. Let me tell you this. In 2016, Washington state had caucuses. And the caucuses were dominated by Sanders. He got 73 percent of the vote in the caucuses. He got the lion`s share of delegates out of Washington state.

If you`re looking at the 2016 results from Washington, you`re saying, oh, my God, Bernie Sanders is going to get most of those 89 delegates. But keep in mind, Washington has switched from a caucus to a primary.

And primary electorates are very different. They`re bigger. They`re a little bit broader. They don`t play to Sanders` strength, we have been finding.

I can tell you this. In 2016, Washington, on a separate date, they had their normal state primary. On a separate date in 2016, after those caucuses, they put the candidates, Clinton and Sanders, on the primary ballot. Half-a-million people went out and voted. And what happened?

Hillary Clinton won the primary. Didn`t count for any delegates, but Hillary Clinton won the primary 53-47. That is the difference. That can be the difference between a caucus and a primary.

So, keep that in mind. It`s a very big variable this coming week.

You got all these other questions here. When you get to Washington state, something that was very strong from a delegate standpoint for Sanders in 2016, something he really needs to be strong for him this year, that switch from caucus to primary, let`s see that in the results on Tuesday night.

Let`s see what it looks like then, compare it to 2016.

Anyway, we got to -- much more of this over the next few days. I didn`t even get to the 17 states. I`d love to. I`d love to get into April, do New York, do Maryland. Let`s go to June next time, but we can`t.

We will be right back after this.


KORNACKI: Welcome back.

The president is turning his attention back to Joe Biden, after Biden`s stunning comeback this week. And Trump may have good reason, given the coalition of voters who Biden turned out on Super Tuesday.

As "The Washington Post" points out -- quote -- "The results hark back to the 2018 midterm elections, in which Democrats won back the House by capitalizing on disdain for Trump among moderate and suburban voters, combined with high turnout among members of the Democratic base."

Now the president is making clear that he will resort to the same allegations against Biden that led to his impeachment in the House late last year. He said he intends to make a campaign issue out of Biden son Hunter who sat on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: It has to be a campaign issue. How do you plan to use it or do you plan to use it?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, to show you how crazy it is, it`s not a campaign issue for the Democrats. They don`t want to bring it up. They were obviously told you can`t bring that up. So, even people that are against -- if you look at Joe, they`re against Joe, they don`t want to bring that up, that was off bounds.

That will be a major issue in the campaign. I will bring that up all the time because I don`t see any way out.


KORNACKI: And here`s what Biden said on the "Today" show when asked about the attacks he can anticipate from the president.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: We know he`s obviously hoping there`s more investigation of your son, of Burisma the emergency company that he served the board on. Do you think as your political fortunes rise they`re coming after you more?


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course. There`s nothing there there. Look, Donald Trump has corrupted the soul of this country. Donald Trump has pummeled the middle class.

Donald Trump has embraced dictators and poked his thumb in the eye of our allies. Donald Trump is a disaster and he knows it and he knows I`ll be able to point it out. I can hardly, hardly wait to debate him.


KORNACKI: While the Ukraine government ultimately declined to conduct the investigation of Biden that Trump had pushed for, Senate Republicans on the Homeland Security Committee are moving forward with an investigation of their own. Today, however, a key Republican on that committee appeared to oppose the investigation, calling it political. Here`s Utah Senator Mitt Romney.


REPORTER: Are you concerned about the appearance?

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): There`s no question but that the appearance of looking into Burisma and Hunter Biden appears political. And I think people are tired of these kind of political investigations. We also have a lot of work to do on matters that are not related to Burisma. We probably ought to focus on those things.


KORNACKI: And now, Trump is taking the fight to Biden`s backyard, his birthplace of Scranton, Pennsylvania. That is where he participated in a town hall tonight. It`s coming up next.


KORNACKI: Welcome back.

President Trump was tonight in the city where Joe Biden was born, Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Trump was there to participate in a Fox News town hall.

Among other things, Trump said that the Ukraine scandal and his subsequent impeachment over it has actually hurt Biden.


TRUMP: I think that Biden has been damaged, yes. A lot of people -- I saw a couple of statements, very strong statements by very respected people in your world saying they aimed at Trump and they took Biden down.


MATTHEWS: For more I`m joined by Zerlina Maxwell, senior director of progressive programming for Sirius XM, David Frum, senior editor for "The Atlantic", and Annie Karni, White House correspondent for "The New York Times".

Zerlina, what I think Trump might be saying there, there was some talk about this I think during Iowa and New Hampshire and Nevada where Joe Biden seemed to be falling flat on his face, the Democrats were looking at the conversation around Ukraine and saying, you know what, let`s not go down this road in the fall. But now looking at Biden, post-Nevada, do you think there was anything to that at all?

ZERLINA MAXWELL, SIRIUS XM SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PROGRESSIVE PROGRAMMING: Well, I think people were trying to figure it out, so that could have been one of the factors, but I don`t know that it was, because I think the whole impeachment trial, it was complicated and long, but I think what people took away was the president did something wrong. When you have somebody in your own party voting to convict, that sends a message that something wrong happened here and it happened to be related to Ukraine.

So I don`t think that Joe Biden fell because of that. I think it was actually -- it had more to do with his poor performance up until very recently. I think, you know, there`s two things Joe Biden can do in this moment.

One, you know, sufficiently explain what happened with Burisma, just very soberly, without any defensiveness, you know, do what I think Hillary Clinton -- you know, I just saw the new Hillary documentary she talks about the email scandal and response, she admits she could have handled that differently. Now, Biden has the opportunity because I think this is in line with the email story, this is to muddy him up.

The other thing he can do is say I haven`t been impeached because that is an argument that I think is pretty persuasive. You know, it`s coming rich from an impeached president that I`m the corrupt one, if they`re both on the stage, I`m not the one that`s been impeached here. That`s I think a pretty persuasive argument Biden can make.

KORNACKI: Well, David, let me ask you from this standpoint. Biden certainly and his campaign are putting out the idea of Democratic voters of electability. Sanders is going to be a risk. Sanders is a danger in all these gains Democrats made in 2018.

When you size up, though, Biden versus Trump, Trump sees an opportunity on Ukraine, on Burisma, other folks said it`s Biden`s performance on the campaign trail. What are the vulnerabilities you see from Biden versus Trump?

DAVID FRUM, THE ATLANTIC SENIOR EDITOR: We should not forget that throughout the impeachment, always a plurality and sometimes depending on what poll you looked at a majority were in favor of impeaching the president and even removing the president, it was popular.

But what also seems to have happened is the president`s approval numbers went up a little bit, maybe that`s statistical noise but maybe what it also is, there may be some shy Trump supporters out there, people who are sympathetic to the president, but may be live in neighborhoods or have backgrounds where their friends are not, and they normally keep a low profile and the impeachment maybe activated to say to a pollster, yes, I support him, where they might have said mumble, mumble at a different time.

That`s pre-coronavirus right now we have a major world event going on, the president`s handling of it is so far unsteady. It may turn out, let`s hope not, but it may turn out to have terrible world consequences for Americans. And I think his approval numbers will be what they are.

KORNACKI: Here`s what the president said in this town hall going on tonight. He was asked about whether he would rather run against Biden or Sanders. Here`s his answer.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS MODERATOR: So you want to face Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders? That`s my question.

TRUMP: I`ll tell you, I was all set for Bernie, because I thought it was going to happen. You know, we get ready for things, right? So, mentally, I`m all set for Bernie, communist, I had everything down. He`s a communist. I was all set.

And then we have this crazy thing that happened, right? So, now, I`m ready for Bernie and now, all of a sudden, I have a whole different -- you know, it`s a whole different deal, two very different people. I think in a certain way, Bernie would be tougher.


KORNACKI: Annie Karni, you know, it`s interesting. If it looks likelier that he`s going to be facing Biden, I guess there might be political logic in saying Sanders was actually the tougher one. But I`m curious, what is the thinking behind the scenes at the White House and how they size up these candidates? Does it match the sort of conventional take you hear that Sanders is the more risky one or was there some other thinking going on there?

What is the sense of how the opponents would stack up against Trump around the president?

ANNIE KARNI, THE NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I`ll answer that question in one second. I`ll just say that version of Trump who`s playing commentator on the Democratic race is one of his favorite modes. We saw him try to switch into that mode at a coronavirus meeting when he asked the reporters in the end, what, no one is asking me about the Democratic race? He loves to be playing the sideline kibitzing role.

That being said, to answer your question, from the beginning, Biden has been viewed by his campaign operatives as potentially the least -- the hardest matchup for Donald Trump. They have been projecting confidence for a long time. They have money, they have a head start. They have, you know, the advantages of an incumbent running for re-election on their side.

But Biden has been seen as the person who could peel off voters who might go to Trump if a further left candidate was the Democratic nominee. And we saw -- Trump can say that the impeachment hearings hurt Biden, but it was his efforts to paint Biden as corrupt very early that led to him being impeached in the first place.

So, Biden certainly was top of mind. There was a period just in January where the Trump campaign and Trump himself were trying to elevate Bernie because they thought it would be a clearer race and an easier argument for them to make.

KORNACKI: All right, Annie Karni, David Frum, Zerlina Maxwell -- I`m sorry, we had a long earlier, now we have to pay the price for it. I apologize. Please come back again.

But up next, what happened to Elizabeth Warren`s campaign?

Stay with us.



SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I announced this morning that I am suspending my campaign for president. I say this with a deep sense of gratitude for every single person who got in this fight, every single person who tried on a new idea, every single person who just moved a little in their notion of what a president of the United States should look like.


KORNACKI: So why didn`t it work out for Elizabeth Warren? Well, there are all sorts of theories out there and there are some obvious explanations when you look at the numbers.

One is the same basic problem that Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar both had, they were able to make noise in Iowa and in New Hampshire, but when the electorate got more diverse, the campaigns ran aground.

In Nevada, the first state with a large Hispanic electorate, Elizabeth Warren managed to get just 7 percent of Latino support. In California`s primary this week where there was a very large Latino electorate, she got 6 percent of it.

In South Carolina, that`s where black voters made up a majority of the electorate, Warren got only 5 percent of African-American support and she didn`t do any better this week on Super Tuesday. For instance, she got 5 percent of the black vote in Virginia.

Compare that to about three times that number when it came to her support among white voters. It was the same story in North Carolina, 5 percent of the black vote for Warren. Nearly triple that among white voters.

In this day and age, the inability to build nonwhite support and especially support among black voters is probably too much of a hurdle for any Democratic presidential candidate to overcome and win the nomination. Warren is only the latest candidate to have this issue.

Warren`s undoing may be bigger than this. And I think, ironically enough, it might have something to do with how successful she initially was. Think back to last fall. Warren was moving up in the polls. She had been moving up all year.

She actually got the lead in the Real Clear Politics poll average in early October and her numbers were looking good in Iowa and New Hampshire. At that moment it seemed only too easy to see warren winning early, building momentum and emerging as the Democratic nominee.

But when you get ahead in a presidential race, you also suddenly start to get scrutiny. And when Warren took that lead, Democrats suddenly had to confront the possibility that she would actually be the nominee and ask themselves did they really want that to happen?

Warren was running on a Medicare-for-All promise. She would be asked if taxes would go up to pay for it. Pointedly she refused to give a yes or no answer. And eventually with the heat rising, she modulated and adjusted her plan. The headlines called it a shift, a big shift.

Think about this, poll after poll for a year has been telling us Democratic voters are thinking about one thing above everything else, electability. That`s a tough term to define. You really can`t know if someone is electable until you actually run them in an election and see if they can win.

But however they define it, Democratic voters are thinking about it, we know that. When Warren got the lead last fall, she found herself fielding uncomfortable questions about her Medicare-for-All plan. Like do you want to abolish private insurance?

And it was in this moment that her polling stopped. She slipped back behind Biden. She fell into second place, then third place and really that was that. She could never get back to the lead or all that close to it.

So the question becomes, could it be the Democratic voters watched Warren in that spotlight, in that moment when it seemed like she might be on the verge of running away with it all. They watched her as Medicare-for-All took over the conversation and that they decided this isn`t the debate we want to be having next fall against Donald Trump. Maybe we should look for somewhere else. Maybe we should hit the brakes.

Come to think of it, the same thing might be happening with Bernie Sanders right now. He won New Hampshire. He won Nevada convincingly. Suddenly, it looked like he was about to be the Democratic nominee.

And at that moment, Democratic voters seemed to take a look at him, seemed to look at him with a little more scrutiny, seemed to say wait a minute, do we really want to go down this road?

Democratic leaders said Bernie Sanders, if you nominate him, could be a risk. And they hit the brakes. Democratic voters hit the brakes. Whether they let up or pressed down harder, that`s what we`re going to soon find out.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Don`t go anywhere.