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Markets plummet TRANSCRIPT: 3/9/20, MSNBC Live

Guests: Eric Swalwell, Jayne O'Donnell, Susan Michaels-Strasser, Richard Stengel, Jill Colvin, Tim Ryan, Noah Rothman, Ro Khanna, Basil Smikle, Charlotte Alter

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We have a lot of cooking. That does it for me. Thanks, as always. Keep it right here on MSNBC.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening. I'm Steve Kornacki in New York.

The financial markets had their single worst day since the 2008 meltdown. Today, yet another dramatic day of trading fueled by fears of the coronavirus and plunging oil prices. The Dow falling more than 2,000 points, nearly 8 percent.

When the market opened this morning, stock prices plummeted instantly and so severely, in fact, that a circuit breaker was triggered. That put a halt on all trading for 15 minutes. This was the first time the Stock Exchange implemented that kind of a halt since the Great Recession a decade ago.

Market plunge comes after Italy implemented dramatic measures on Sunday to contain transmission of the coronavirus. The Italian prime minister announced a ban on people entering or leaving areas, including Milan, Venice and Parma. And late this afternoon, that lockdown was extended to cover the entire country. That's nearly 60 million people. Movement for Italians will be restricted and all public gatherings banned.

Israel joined Italy in taking extraordinary measures today, requiring all travelers arriving in the country to be quarantined. Worldwide now, there are more than 110,000 cases of coronavirus.

And here in the United States, the number of reported cases more than doubled this past weekend. There are now 670 reported cases in the United States and 26 deaths. As for that Grand Princess Cruise Ship that's been idling off the coast of California two the past two weeks, it finally docked today in Oakland. 21 people aboard tested positive for the virus. 3,500 passengers and crew will be quarantined for 14 days.

Last hour, the mayor of Boston announced the cancellation of that city's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. That's a major event in Boston. The Mayor was saying he was doing it, quote, out of an abundance of caution.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told Fox Business that government efforts are no longer about simply contain the virus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL:  Well, I think is most important for folks to know is that we are shifting from a containment posture where we're trying to keep the virus out of communities to one of mitigation. We're trying help people understand that we've got community spread.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  And right now, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding meetings with House committee chairs to discuss the coronavirus. Earlier today, she assured reporters that Congress was still open for business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  Will the Capitol be closed for a period time?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  No. No. No. (INAUDIBLE) no.

REPORTER:  So you're not going to change the schedule at all?

PELOSI:  At this time, there is no reason to do so. But it's not my decision. It's a security and a health decision and we'll be depending --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  And moments ago, the president told reporters he would be taking steps to help alleviate some of the economic anxiety tied to the coronavirus, including a possible payroll tax cut. He says he will reveal details of those measures in a news conference tomorrow.

For more, I'm joined by Congressman, Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California, Jayne O'Donnell, USA Today Healthcare Policy Reporter, and Susan Michaels-Strasser, Assistant Professor at Columbia University School of Public Health. Thank you all for being with us.

Congressman, let me start with you. All these cancellations, they seem to be adding every day, colleges, school districts, you hear that giant parade there in Boston, huge annual event there, speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, adamant there, insistent the Capitol should not be closed in the near future. Do you agree with that or is that something that should be considered here? A Congressional recess? Maybe shutting things down just there a little bit just while the scope of this sort of takes hold?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA):  Good evening, Steve, and I was just in a meeting with Speaker Pelosi. And I do agree that the science should guide a decision like this and nothing else, not politics, not concerns about the market, but just the science. And that's how we're going to lead on this.

And I'll tell you, the other tenor in the meeting that I had with the speaker on our leadership team and also with our steering and policy committee meeting was we want the president to succeed, so we want to be here to give him the resources he needs to succeed. But we also recognize that as he has put misinformation out, we have to do our jobs to make sure that the American people understand what this crisis is and what we all can do to make sure it goes away as soon as possible.

KORNACKI:  I'm just curious though. I mean, you're up there, you're seeing all around the country, all around the world. We just showed you Italy, what's happening there. Basically a lockdown of the country, it seems. Is it something that should be Congress and groups like Congress? Is it something that should be on their mind right now, the possibility of telling folks, let's stay home, let's not be gathering in big crowds here?

SWALWELL:  Yes. Well, we are trying as an office to conduct as many meetings remotely as we can. We have an elbow bump greeting in the office now and we're all taking precautions to wash our hands, use sanitizer and also encourage, you know, older Americans who may have pre-existing conditions to not travel just as the, you know, scientists are and for anyone else to not engage with those individuals.

But we also want to show that we're functioning and, you know, being responsible about this and guided again by science. If the speaker -- I'm convinced that the speaker, we're told by a health expert in the Capitol, that she should do something else, that she would let that guide her decision and not anything else.

KORNACKI:  Jayne, the surgeon general saying that this is now shifting in terms of the government's response from containments to mitigation. Talk about the significance of that, what that means from policy standpoint.

JAYNE O'DONNELL, POLICY REPORTER, USA TODAY:  Well, they have to. I mean, it's beyond containment. I mean, the issue of, for example, whether they're going to be able to trace everybody someone has come in contact with, which we talked the last time I was on, that's no longer feasible. We had Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the FDA, at an editorial board meeting today at work, and he made that point very clearly. I mean, they will want to know who someone came in contact with in the D.C. area, there's a lot of talk about a particular priest rector where he might have been and who he came in contact with, which was quite a lot of people.

But now we're just trying to have people do the right thing and mitigate the problems, the spread of it further. The -- and get people tested as quickly as they can and hope we talk about that because there's a lot of frustrated people out there who want to get tested and aren't able to yet.

KORNACKI:  Well, following up on that then, what is the status? We've been hearing about the lack of availability of adequate testing. What's the status of this as we enter this new week with the numbers exploding all around us?

O'DONNELL:  Right. And that is one of the things that I find very alarming. I was just talking to someone I know tonight who has a rare blood cancer and is about to turn 70. That person is at a very high risk. He is being told that he can't get tested until he starts to show symptoms even though there's a chance he came into contact with somebody.

That type of thing, there are people, there are stories all over the country, where people -- there's someone who's been talking about it, someone else she knows in this area, she's been on Twitter, that this person, doctors believe the person has coronavirus and they can't get tested, there are people in the healthcare industry.

So Vice President Pence was talking about there being about a million tests are going b to be out there by the end of this week, but they still can't test everybody even though experts, including Dr. Gottlieb, say everybody who wants to be ought to be tested. It's going to take weeks.

KORNACKI:  Susan, we're seeing these reports from around the world, what Italy is doing now to the entire country included in this order, Israel, anybody coming into the country automatically quarantined. Are we looking at a preview of what's to come here? Is it likely the U.S. is going to have to resort to these measures so even more strict measures? What's to come here, do you think?

SUSAN MICHAELS-STRASSER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH:  It's unfolding by the day. It's rapidly changing. But I think the language we use around containment needs to be positive that we're trying to get ahead of this virus, we're trying to ring-fence the virus. We're trying to really understand what is happening out there.

And if we're asking people to stay home, to limit travel, if they can work from home, work from home. Every person who does that is one less person in that chain of infection.

So from the Ebola response, we know that works. When I was in Sierra Leone, there were two periods of two-day lockdowns, and it really helped. It allowed health workers, epidemiologists, to get ahead of things. We slowed down the rate of transmission.

KORNACKI:  There's the difference there between folks sort of voluntarily doing it, trying to limit their activities, and the government is saying, you have to, as we're seeing in Italy. Do you think that's possibly something that's going to be locked at here and need to be looked at here?

MICHAELS-STRASSERS:  I don't know, to be perfectly honest. But if it is, I trust Ambassador Birx and Anthony Fauci. They are brilliant scientists. They know what they're doing. I work very closely with programs that they lead and they follow the numbers. They make decisions in a caring way. And they want us to get through this as quickly and as swiftly as possible so that the numbers of deaths is as small as we can make.

And our country does have amazing resources and infrastructure to really help us contain this. And it is hard to compare it with other countries. And we really have the best people at the top with Ambassador Birx and Anthony Fauci leading this. They will make data-driven decisions and caring decisions.

KORNACKI:  All right. Well, four Republican members of Congress meanwhile, Senator Ted Cruz from Texas, Congressman Paul Gosar from Arizona, Doug Collins of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida, they say they are putting themselves in self-quarantine after interacting with an attendee at CPAC. That's the Conservative Political Action Conference last month. The person has since tested positive for the coronavirus.

President Trump and Vice President Pence also attended the conference. Trump shook hands with the chairman of the American Conservative Union, Matt Schlapp, who has confirmed that he had direct contact with the attendee who has tested positive with the virus.

Congressman Collins and Gaetz had more recent interactions with the president. On Friday, Trump toured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta with Collins. And today, before announcing his self- quarantine, Congressman Gaetz rode with President Trump on Air Force One from Florida to Washington, D.C.

Moments ago, the vice president was asked if he or the president has yet been tested for the coronavirus. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Mr. President.

REPORTER:  Has he been tested? Have you been tested?

PENCE:  I have not been tested for the coronavirus.

REPORTER:  Has the president? Has the president been tested?

REPORTER:  He's been in contact with people who were in the proximity with somebody who had the virus.

PENCE:  Let me be sure to get you answer to that. I honestly don't know the answer to the question but we'll refer that question and we'll get you an answer from the White House physician very quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  Congressman, I'm wondering what you make of that. Well, the responsible thing to do considering that so many people that the president has interacted with would be for the president to at least get tested. Again, he unfortunately thinks that most of this is a hoax and he has so far proposed as a solution to give tax cuts to his wealthiest friends and supporters.

Again, we're trying to look at this based on the science. We want to increase the availability of testing. We think that having testing not just at hospitals, but at at independent sites is also critically important. We want to make sure that the people on the front lines have all the protective gear that they need. And then folks who are affected by this at their job have unemployment insurance if they lose their job because of that, or if they have paid sick leave if they're quarantined because of this. These are the things that we're considering and we just want the president to work with us on this and not see this as an opportunity to politicize.

KORNACKI:  Susan, just a quick question. For individuals out there, I'm just curious, how should they be thinking about it? Are there particular symptoms that should -- I mean, everybody gets some kind of cold in the middle of winter. We're still kind of in the cold weather months. What should they be on the lookout, specifically symptom-wise? At what point should they think about going to see a doctor, going to a hospital? What would the practical advice be for a person out there who's absorbing all this?

MICHAELS-STRASSER:  The symptoms are straightforward, fever, shortness of breath, cough, varies from individual to individual. But, again, I would say we all know basic hygiene practices and putting those in place are our best defense. The social distancing, staying six feet from a person coughing or talking with an individual is going to help us. It's going to help each and every person. Using good handwashing, not just rubbing for 20 seconds, but really doing it as the experts recommend, going through your fingers. There's a lot of resources online to show really good handwashing, and that is our best defense.

I think the other thing, if you do have symptoms, to call first. There is a triage through the phone system that is being set up to help decide who should come in. We need to have the hospitals ready for those that are most ill. Nurses on the front line are really struggling and they need more support to be able to care for those that are really critically ill.

And I think, again, just some optimism, we can do this. We can turn this around. If we engage our community leaders, as Ambassador Birx said, they are the people that are trusted in the community. They are the people that individuals know and rely on. So going to community leaders, getting these key messages out to them can make a difference in how all us behave and react. But we all have a lot in our toolkit of hygiene and sanitation and common sense.

KORNACKI:  All right, an optimistic note there. I appreciate that. And, yes, I've learned a lot about handwashing in the last week. I suspect that's true for a lot of folks out there. So if you've changed your handwashing regiment, let's keep at it together.

Anyway, Congressman Eric Swalwell, Jayne O'Donnell and Susan Michaels- Strasser, thank you all.

Coming up, President Trump accuses the media and Democrats of overstating the risks of the coronavirus while health officials have had to walk back some of the president's more dubious claims and the virus.

Do Democrats -- also politics, do more of the Democrats want the Bernie Sanders/Joe Biden battle to go on or are they going to move to unite behind Biden and get the primary process over with? Voters in six states are about 24 hours away from giving us some answers to those questions.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down close to zero. It's a pretty good job we have done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  Welcome back.

It was less than two weeks ago that the president said that existing cases of coronavirus in this country would soon drop to zero. Instead, of course, the number of Americans infected with the virus continues to grow.

Now, the president is accusing Democrats and the media of, quote, inflaming the crisis and suggesting the media's coverage of the outbreak help to trigger the steep decline in the stock market. "The New York Times" notes that this public health crisis is different in nature from the political battles that the president may be accustomed to -- quote -- "Mr. Trump, who was at his strongest politically when he has a human enemy to attack, has seemed less certain of how to take on an invisible killer."

"The Times" notes that the president has also made some overstated or inaccurate public statements on the outbreak, including a prediction that the virus would disappear with warmer weather, suggestions that the vaccine might soon be available, and insistence the testing was already available for all who want it.

I'm joined now by Jill Colvin, White House reporter for the Associated Press. And Rick Stengel is the former undersecretary of state for public affairs.

Thanks to both of you for being with us.

I think the big question I want to ask about everything we just laid out there -- he's on Twitter today, the president is, comparing this to the flu, the seasonal flu that we see every year in this country.

What is he seeking to achieve? What is he seeking to accomplish with that? Is this -- I see all sorts of theory out there. I have heard a version where this is a reaction to watching the stock market tumble and an attempt to sort of calm the markets, to keep those numbers from going down.

What connects all of these actions, all these statements? What is the goal that he's going after there?

JILL COLVIN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS:  Well, even before the stock market tumble today, we saw this pattern of behavior from the president, where he's really been trying to downplay the risk.

Throughout it all, if you look at his public statements, if you look at his tweets, it really seems like the president seems to view the coronavirus as a personal attack on him, as a personal attack on his presidency, suggesting that he is -- he sees this and any attempt to talk about the severity as a personal attack on him, which is an interesting way to be thinking about this.

Therefore, you have seen the president be very defensive here, and you have seen really a split-screen, where you have got the president of the United States, for instance, today walking off that plane in Florida going into a crowd of people and shaking their hands, just as his public health officials are warning people, especially people his age, not to do that kind of thing.

Again and again, we have seen the split-screen of a president speaking in one way, and then the vice president and other members of his administration really trying to deliver a sober message and telling people what they should and shouldn't be doing to keep themselves safe.

KORNACKI:  Rick, I'm wondering what you make of the response, because, when you zoom out here, at the beginning of this, the president did issue that order on travel, sort of a pretty decisive action there at the beginning, a pretty dramatic action, that suggested maybe one course of attack on this thing that might be followed by similarly dramatic.

RICHARD STENGEL, FORMER U.S. UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE:  Yes.

KORNACKI:  You haven't seen any sort of similar follow-up steps to that. I'm curious what you make of what he did then vs. what he's done since.

STENGEL:  Yes, I mean, that travel ban was an effective one, and it was smart.

But the whole executive and operates according to what, in the military, they call commander's intent, what they think the intent of the executive is.

Well, from his first press conference, he's downplayed the threat. As Jill said, he treats it as though it's -- the whole pandemic is a plot against him. But he compared it to things that were -- that he could deal with.

That clip that you played where he said, well, 15 people have it, and we might dwindle down to none, everybody in the executive branch looks at that and they think, I'm not going to be rewarded for going out over my skis to try to deal with this.

All the president had to say is, we're planning for the worst, but we're hoping for the best, and let the scientists deal with it.

KORNACKI:  Well, Jill, I'm curious where this goes. I mean, we see again all these very serious steps that are being taken internationally.

We talked about Italy at the top of the show, Israel as well. I don't know if it's going to come to that. Nobody does in this country at this point. But this idea that the country now is moving from containment to mitigation, the possibility that more severe steps than have yet been implemented might be recommended, given the president's public posture on this, do you have a sense of his willingness potentially, if it's recommended, to take any of those more severe steps?

COLVIN:  You know, it's a really important question.

And I think you saw -- I don't know how much of that press conference you played for your viewers there. But, at one point, Dr. Fauci was asked whether he agreed with the idea of the president continuing to hold rallies. And you saw him sort of dancing around the question and really declining to provide his professional opinion there, because he doesn't want to be seen as contradicting the president of the United States, who had just been on that stage with him.

If you have got a president here who insists that this is not as serious, as he accuses the media or of Democrats of making it out to be, it raises genuine questions about whether he will respond to this in the most effective way.

Now, the president and other White House officials did hold a series of meetings today. The president says he's going to be announcing a big tax cut package, it sounds like, in order to deal with this. He wants to go forward with the payroll tax, which is something he was already pushing to do.

Sounds like they want to do something else for hourly wage workers, potentially something to help the cruise ship industries. But, at this point, it looks like that's what they're heading towards.

KORNACKI:  And you were getting at this, Rick, a minute ago.

But what goes on around him in the administration at those sort of critical decision and implementation points with this public posture?

STENGEL:  Yes.

So, I mean, the Vice President Pence said, we're dealing with it in a whole-of-government way.

Well, just because you say you're doing it in a whole-of-government doesn't mean that you are. In fact, President Trump fired the whole bio-directorate at the NSC that was hired by Obama to prepare for situations like this.

So he is unprepared. And, in fact, the stock market reaction is not so much a reaction to the disease, which it is, but a reaction to not having a comprehensive plan.

And that press conference, as well-intentioned as it was, did not have a comprehensive plan for dealing with it.

KORNACKI:  OK.

Rick Stengel, Jill Colvin, thank you both for being with us.

And up next:  Well, tomorrow, six primaries, one of them half-primary, half-caucus, six big contests on the Democratic side.

Do Democrats want this race to continue? Do they want Sanders and Biden duking it out through the spring and maybe to the convention, or do Democrats want to get this primary behind them and unite behind Joe Biden?

We're going to look at some numbers. And we may get some answers 24 hours from now.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We're taking on the political establishment. We're going to win this election.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Senator Sanders, a good guy, likes to say, we need a record turnout to beat Donald Trump. He's absolutely right. And we're the campaign that is going to do it.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  Well, folks, it was four years ago.

Four years ago tomorrow was basically the day that it was decided that Democratic voters were going to stretch the primary process out between Sanders and Clinton clear through the spring, and basically to the convention.

Why? Because it was four years ago that Bernie Sanders won that big upset victory in Michigan, and that told Sanders supporters everywhere maybe they didn't have a shot at the nomination, maybe the numbers were tough there, but they had a lot of supporters in a lot of states.

There was a lot of resistance to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party. There was enough out there for Sanders to keep going and keep collecting enough states just through the spring to say, hey, I'm going to go on to the next one.

That's what happened four years ago. The question is, will that happen again tomorrow, or will Democratic voters tomorrow deliver a different message? Will they deliver a message tomorrow that, hey, Biden's ahead, they want him to stay ahead, and they want to get the primary process over with and move on to the general election?

And so we want to take you through two different scenarios tomorrow night. This is the delegate race right now. You see an advantage there of 77 for Biden. They are still, believe it or not, counting up delegates from last week, from Super Tuesday, a lot of them in California, but basically -- give you an estimate here, a rough guess of how it's going to look.

This is roughly how it's going to look when they add everything up from Super Tuesday. This is it. Biden's going to be ahead about 80 delegates. You see 79 here, rough, rough estimate here, but that's going to be the lead from Biden.

 Take a look tomorrow at what is up. Here's the scenario for Sanders where Sanders comes out of tomorrow and he's still alive in this thing. Obviously, it starts with Michigan.

Can Bernie Sanders win Michigan tomorrow? Psychologically, win the big state that he won four years ago, that's a huge one first campaign to be able to boast about.

The polling does not look good in Michigan right now for Bernie Sanders. His campaign will say, it didn't look good for him on the eve of the Michigan primary four years ago, but, really, he's got to get some kind of a win out of Michigan.

Also, Missouri is going to go tomorrow. Missouri was a almost dead-even state in 2016. About 1,500 votes separated Sanders and Clinton again, some suggestions of slippage. The expectations are not good for Sanders there, but he's got to keep it close at least.

He's got to be competitive in Missouri. Mississippi goes tomorrow. That's expected to be a bloodbath. That is a state and a region where Bernie Sanders has done terribly four years ago, is doing terribly this year. No reason to think that will go any differently.

Sanders, though, North Dakota, does he have a shot there? Small state, but could he put up a win there? Could he put one up in Idaho, and, of course, Washington state? These states were all big Sanders wins in 2016 over Hillary Clinton.

The wild card this time is, they have switched from caucus to primaries. North Dakota's is a bit of a hybrid. But these aren't pure caucus states anymore. That's likely to hurt Sanders.

But, look, the scenario he wants tomorrow is to get the win in Washington, to get the win in Michigan, to get wins in North Dakota and Idaho, be competitive in Missouri. And, of course, he will take a hit there and Mississippi.

If that were to happen, Sanders could say hey, look, I'm winning states. I'm winning some big states here. Democrats want this to go on. They're not sold on Biden yet.

Sanders could live to fight another day. What that would look like in the delegate race, take a look at this. Roughly, it would look something like this. That big loss in Mississippi would hurt Sanders. He would still be down 80-something delegates or so, a rough guests there.

But he'd be able to say, Democrats want to take a closer look on Biden. The alternative, though, tomorrow is, you know, what happens -- reset this here -- what happens if Michigan goes to Biden, what happens if Washington goes to Biden, what happens if Missouri is a landslide?

I can call that up there. Then the delegates situation starts to look -- now Biden's moving ahead here. You see that's about a 150-delegate lead for Joe Biden. That is a lot to overcome in a one-on-one race.

That would be wins for Biden pretty much across the board. Sanders wouldn't be able to point to Michigan. And, of course, the Biden campaign at that point would be able to say, hey, we're up 150, and we got Florida coming up next week.

And Florida, the polling looks terrible there for Sanders, tons of delegates, big opportunity then for Biden to build on it. Sanders has got to get some wins on the board tomorrow. Even if he does, the delegate math is daunting for him. But he's got to get wins on the boards tomorrow in those big states.

We will see 24 hours from now the mood of the Democratic electorate. Do they want to go on with this primary, or do they want to get it over?

We will be here breaking it all down tomorrow night. I can't wait. Hope you will be with us.

And we will back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN:  Our campaign is generating an energy and enthusiasm because of the help behind me and many of you driving record turnout.

The turnout -- we talk about where the turnout's going to come.

Now, Bernie's a good man. He talks about all the turnout. Well, guess what? This is a movement to defeat Donald Trump and restore the soul of the country. And it's a campaign for everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  Welcome back. That was former Vice President Joe Biden in Flint, Michigan, today appearing alongside New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, the latest of several former campaign rivals to endorse Biden.

With 125 delegates up for grabs, Michigan holds the biggest prize of the six states holding primaries tomorrow. Both Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are holding events tonight in Detroit.

And this hour, Biden is going to have a rally with supporters, along with Cory Booker and California Senator Kamala Harris, who also threw her support behind the former vice president on Sunday.

And at a rally in Grand Rapids, meanwhile, Sanders was endorsed by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who ran for president himself back in 1984 and '88, got a big win in Michigan in '88, by the way.

For more, I'm joined by Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, who was the first former presidential candidate to endorse Joe Biden.

Congressman, thank you for joining us.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH):  Thanks, Steve.

KORNACKI: This is an interesting question to be asking you because I think it have about two week ago at this time that Joe Biden had been left for dead politically. Now, we are talking about whether this primary process is going to wind down quickly. Given that it's been two weeks in which all of that has happened, do you think from the standpoint of uniting the Democratic Party, does this -- should this go on a little bit longer? Biden's really only been the runaway favorite for two weeks now.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH):  Yes. Yes, I think it still needs to play out a little bit. Obviously, we've got some important states that are coming online tomorrow, and then Ohio and some other key states are on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. So I think it's got to play out that long. And then we'll see how it goes.

But I think given everything that's happening in the country, you look at the stock market, you look at the coronavirus and kind of the backdrop of this election, I think at some point, it's going to be time to start setting our sights on trying to get this country some new leadership.

KORNACKI:  You talked about it in your campaign, the idea of winning back those places that Democrats traditionally win. That Donald Trump took from Democrats in 2016. Michigan is one of those states.

RYAN:  Yes.

KORNACKI:  The expectations now just based on the polling, take the polling for whatever it's worth, the expectations are Biden has an advantage in Michigan. We will find out tomorrow, but is this a bigger test, the ability of Joe Biden to win a state to win, to win the state of Michigan tomorrow? If he can't win Michigan, does that send up some warning signals about his general election prospects?

RYAN:  I don't think there's any question that Michigan is an important state. But you know we feel really good about him connecting with voters in Michigan. And that certainly would send a signal to Ohio and Illinois, which come a week later kind of in the old industrial Midwestern states.

But, you know, it was Joe Biden who was leading the auto rescue package and those jobs in Michigan, in Ohio, in Illinois, in Indiana. He was the person putting that all together for President Obama. So, there's a deep reservoir of goodwill for Joe Biden in those states and he's been tapping into it.

I think Kamala Harris is going to electrify that crowd tonight. What a huge endorsement for Vice President Biden and I think we're going to be able to get some real momentum on Tuesday and push it through the next Tuesday, and let's start setting our sights on Donald Trump.

KORNACKI:  Well, if Joe Biden is able to get wins tomorrow, get wins next week, pull away in this thing, you still have this matter that Bernie Sanders is out there attracting -- it will probably be millions of votes before this is said and done, even if he's ultimately unsuccessful.

RYAN:  Yes.

KORANCKI:  This was a big issue in '16. There are a lot of Democrats who think it didn't happen in the end.

How do you make sure those Sanders supporters are on board with Joe Biden this time?

RYAN:  Well, there's always kind of cooling off period after some of these heated primaries, and that's to be expected. Bernie has a message that really speaks to a lot of people. He's got very articulate supporters, like Ro Khanna who I know be on the show later today.

But the reality of it is, when you put a Joe Biden versus a Donald Trump and you think, well, Joe Biden helped get universal health care for everybody in this country. That's not insignificant. He passed the Violence Against Women's Act. That's not insignificant. An assault weapon ban.

Those are not insignificant compared to watching the stable genius here on TV the last few days, you know, trying to get his arms around a global pandemic and lacking transparency, lacking the basic leadership skills that you need to lead the United States through a time of crisis, watching the stock market dropped 2,000 points.

I think when supporters of Bernie Sanders see what the choice is going to be, I think it will be clear they're going to want to get rid of Donald Trump, and then we'll have an internal Democratic argument about policy once we all get in.

KORNACKI:  All right. Congressman Tim Ryan, himself once a candidate, now supporting Joe Biden, thank you for the time.

RYAN:  Thanks, Steve.

KORNACKI:  And in an interview on "Meet the Press" yesterday, Sanders argued he would have won more states on Super Tuesday if several of his rivals hadn't dropped out and endorsed Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The establishment put a great deal of pressure on Pete Buttigieg, on Amy Klobuchar, who ran really aggressive campaigns. I know both of them. They worked really, really hard right, but suddenly right before Super Tuesday, they announced their withdrawal.

If they had not withdrawn from the race before Super Tuesday, which was kind of a surprise to a lot of people, I suspect we would have won in Minnesota, we would have won in Maine, we would have won in Massachusetts. The turnout may have been a little bit different.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  This morning on the "Today" show, Pete Buttigieg responded to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRAIG MELVIN, TODAY SHOW:  What kind of a pressure did you feel from the establishment?

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I felt a pressure of voters, making a decision. We ran in four contests. I'm proud of the campaign we ran. But by the time we ran our fourth race, it was clear that the numbers weren't there.

MELVIN:  The establishment didn't pressure -- pressure you to get out?

BUTTIGIEG:  No, look, the kind of people who run for president of the United States are the kind of people who make their own decisions. It was my decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  And I'm joined now by California Congressman Ro Khanna, national co-chair of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

Look, we don't need to discuss this in conspiratorial terms or anything like that, but just the fact of the matter is, however you want to define it, the former opponents of Joe Biden, just about all of them, we have two more coming out today, all kind of deciding in this ten-day period to endorse Biden and not to endorse Sanders and it seems to have had a significant impact on the trajectory of this race.

I think the question I would ask you is, from Sanders' standpoint, from your candidate's standpoint, when you look at the struggles he had in 2016 to build his coalition, the challenges that awaited him in 2020, was there a strategic mistake at all between 2016 and 2020 in not trying to broaden the message, trying to broaden the approach in a way that might leave the quote-unquote establishment not feeling like the minute it gets to a one- on-one between Sanders and whoever that they need to be with whoever.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA):  I'd say two things. First of all, Vice President Biden has eight years under President Obama. He has many relationships. So, he has a lot of advantages.

Second, Bernie Sanders won the idea primary. I mean, if you look at voters who are voting for Joe Biden, many of them are saying we're for Medicare- for-All. We're for free public college. We are for aggressive policies on climate change, and that's not to be underestimated.

Finally, I think it would have been helpful to have more of Jesse Jackson's folks on board earlier. He put together a progressive coalition with the African-American community in '84 and '88 in way that was unprecedented. And that should still be a template. And now that he's on board, I think we're lucky to have many of his folks advising us.

KORNACKI:  So, what I'm curious. Let me follow on that -- the idea you're saying Sanders won the idea primary. The polling shows there's broad Democratic support for a lot of those things you're talking about.

But Biden's not embracing them. Biden's not embracing forgiving student loans. Biden is not forgiving -- 

KHANNA:  Yes.

KORNACKI:  Well, is it going to change because he hasn't and he's winning.

KHANNA:  Well, I think it will go a long way for whoever the nominee is to end up supporting the policies that are very popular amongst Democratic voters, and I believe that our platform should reflect those policies. I feel that if Senator Sanders was the nominee, I feel that if anyone was the nominee, and it should reflect a broad coalition.

Look, I said if Senator Sanders were the nominee, there should be people outreach moderate Democrats, new Democrats, Democrats -- people like Tim Ryan, who I have tremendous respect for. I said that Senator Sanders should include them, sit down with them, listen to them.

I think whoever the nominee is, is going to, A, look at what the policies are that are popular and make sure they have a broad coalition.

KORNACKI:  Quick question, does Bernie Sanders have to put a win on the board tomorrow?

KHANNA:  No, but he has to do very well. But I think this is going to come down to the debate. We've not had a one-on-one debate.

I believe both candidates will have an opportunity to share their vision, why they're electable, and the future of the party, and that to me is going to be the key to this whole election.

KORNACKI:  Congressman Ro Khanna, supporter of Bernie Sanders, thanks as always for the time.

KHANNA:  Thank you.

KORNACKI:  All right. And up next, more as primaries, the first time it's going to be one-on-one on a primary day. Sanders and Biden squaring off against each other. What that could mean as Biden new polling today extending his lead nationally.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI:  All right. Welcome back.

Tomorrow, at this time, 24 hours from now, we're going to start getting the numbers. Six states, Michigan, Washington state, that will come in later, Missouri, North Dakota, Idaho, and Mississippi. They are voting in what is now basically a two-person race.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden has built a significant lead in the latest national polling. New CNN poll out this evening shows Biden 16 points ahead of Bernie Sanders. New Quinnipiac poll shows him 19 points up.

For more, I'm joined by Basil Smikle, a Democratic strategist, and Charlotte Alter, "Time Magazine" national correspondent, and author of "The Ones We've Been Waiting For".

Thanks to both of you for being here.

Basil, I'll start with you. I mean, I've been talking about this during the show and it seems to me that tomorrow is a pivot point for this Democratic race and we're going to see from the voters in these states basically, do they want this race to go on? Do they want to hand Sanders a bunch of wins here or a couple of wins where he can say, see, there's still a constituency out there or do we get a result tomorrow night that is an emphatic statement that's from Democrats they want this over?

BASIL SMIKLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Yes, I -- my gut is that you'll get a little bit of that emphatic statement, but for Sanders, all you have -- he doesn't have to win a lot of these states. He just has to be very competitive in these states because of proportional allocation, thanks to Jesse Jackson who he worked with in 1998, thanks to that he can remain competitive as we get to, what is it, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, I think next week because if you remember 2016, we really -- we still had a race until we got to New York in late April.

And so, I think there is a tremendous desire and energy to close this book and close the chapter and move on, especially when you look at Governor Bullock, for example, deciding to run for Senate. There is a lot of attention on the down ballot races.

My friend Jamie Harrison running in South Carolina for a Senate. So, I think there's a lot of Democratic activists are focused on the down ballot races, who's going to help with that. They look more to Joe Biden. But the truth is, I don't know that Sanders has any real reason to come out early. He can push this for quite a few weeks longer.

KORNACKI: Well, there's the question, Charlotte, of the psychology of the Democratic Party, is they just want to unite and end it and find a candidate. There's also the question about what propelled Sanders in March, April, May in 2016. He did keep winning enough states where every week or so. He could say, I won this one. I won that one.

That collision, though, I think one of the questions we're asking right now is, how much of that was about Sanders, how much about that was who he was running against and he was just collecting anti-Hillary votes?

CHARLOTTE ALTER, TIME MAGAZINE NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Right, I mean, I think that's the big question for Sanders coming into Michigan is that so much of his narrative for the last four years has been Sanders won Michigan in the 2016 primary and then Hillary lost it in the 2016, general, and that has really been anchoring this narrative of Bernie would have won.

And so, the question is, what happens if he doesn't pull off the big staggering win that he did four years ago and how does that complicate that narrative about his electability, because he's really been rooting his electability argument in this idea that he can win the voters that Clinton lost in 2016.

KORNACKI:  It really does seem like a key -- I mean, I know sometimes we can overstate how much you can read the primary to the general election. I was looking at those counties in Iowa a few months ago and said, you never would have seen what happened to Clinton in the general election in Iowa based on caucuses but still, it's true. There so much invested in the idea, I think, among Democrats of the significance of a state like Michigan if Biden goes in.

If these polls are right at all and Biden goes in there and gets not just a win but a big win tomorrow, that's a pretty big statement.

SMIKLE:  It is. Especially since Super Tuesday and going forward he starts winning -- he's been winning the southern states that are red in the general election because that supports his argument that, you know what? I'm the best sort of -- the post inclusive kind of candidate when you talk about going after those working class white males and pulling away some of those Trump voters and going to Michigan to a point you made earlier, one of the things I want to see specifically after 2016 is, does Bernie Sanders do well in those suburban, non -- not Detroit, for example.

All those suburban areas outside of Detroit, all of those suburban areas, because Hillary Clinton did well in those big cities where Sanders did not in large part because of African American voters. Sanders have been doing very well among Latino voters, but will these African-American voters, how will they vote in Michigan? That's going to say a lot because if Bernie Sanders actually still does well, it actually chips away a little bit at the Biden argument.

It will be -- it will be Sanders saying there is still economic depression here, which there may be in the rest of the Rust Belt and I'm the only candidate that can speak to that.

KORNACKI:  All right. We got to leave it there, unfortunately. I could talk about this for a couple more hours. We will tomorrow night at this time. But for now, Charlotte Alter, Basil Smikle, thank you for joining us and we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI:  And as we've been talking about, tomorrow night the race for the Democratic presidential nomination continues. Voters casting ballots in six states including, of course, that key battle ground state of Michigan.

Our coverage here on MSNBC is going to start at 6:00 p.m. Eastern with Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace, and I'm going to be over at the big board.

Thank you for being with us. Don't go anywhere. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is up next.

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