A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, October 4, 2020 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" starts right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: The president gets COVID.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wasn't feeling so well. I feel much better now. We're working hard to get me all the way back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Trump hospitalized after worsening symptoms require oxygen in the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: His oxygen saturation levels, we -- yesterday morning, we were real concerned with that.
QUESTION: Has he ever been on supplemental oxygen?
DR. SEAN CONLEY, WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: Right now, he is not on oxygen.
QUESTION: I understand. I know you -- but should we read into the fact that he had been previously?
CONLEY: Yesterday and today, he was not on oxygen.
MEADOWS: He had a fever, and his blood oxygen level had dropped rapidly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Conflicting accounts from the president's doctor and his staff create a crisis of credibility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEADOWS: I know a number of us -- the doctor and I were very concerned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in such great spirits and doing well.
QUESTION: Why was the decision made to transfer him here?
CONLEY: Because he's the president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: As the virus spreads through the White House, Trump's campaign and the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three more people tested positive for the virus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hope Hicks testing positive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kellyanne Conway tweeted: "Tonight, I tested positive."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two GOP senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee have tested positive for COVID.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems to grow by the minute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mounting questions about the safety of the president, the stability of our country, and the state of the race for the White House in this final month of voting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not a matter of politics. It's a bracing reminder to all of us that we have to take this virus seriously.
TRUMP: I look forward to finishing up the campaign the way it was started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, this is a special edition of "This Week."
Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week." What a week it has been.
When we signed off last week's show, here's what we didn't know, that President Trump had paid just $750 in income tax in 2016 in 2017, on the hook now for several hundred million dollars in debt come due in a second term, that Tuesday's debate would be widely labeled the worst presidential debate ever, with President Trump bearing most of the blame, that the Rose Garden ceremony celebrating Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to Supreme Court would turn out to be a super-spreader for the coronavirus.
As we come on the show this morning, at least eight of the attendees have tested positive for COVID, including, of course, first lady Melania Trump and the president of the United States.
And with President Trump now being treated at Walter Reed, the country is now facing a cascade of crises in a chaotic year, a personal health crisis for the president, compounded by a credibility crisis for his White House, during a public health crisis that has cost more than 209,000 Americans their lives, all with one month ago in a presidential election unlike any we have seen before.
We're going to try to make sense of it all this morning, starting with our team of correspondents.
Jon Karl is at Walter Reed.
And, Jon, the repetition of falsehoods, the refusal to give straight answers has been a hallmark of the Trump White House. It reached something of a peak yesterday.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: George, on one hand, it was a welcome development to see the White House doctor come out and brief reporters.
But it was, frankly, maddening to see the medical team refuse to answer so many questions and to be spinning as if this were just another political briefing.
Dr. Conley refused to answer basic questions, such as, how high is the president's temperature? He would not say. Has the president been on supplemental oxygen? As you saw, he wouldn't say. We later learned that, in fact, on Friday, the president was on oxygen.
Dr. Conley also bent over backwards to try to put a positive spin on things, saying that the president had been fever-free for 24 hours, that he -- quote -- "is doing great."
But minutes after that briefing ended yesterday, a person described as somebody familiar with the president's health briefed the press pool here and said -- quote -- "The president's vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning, and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We are still not on a clear path to a full recovery."
That starkly different assessment, multiple news organizations identified the person as none other than the president's chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
Now, overnight, we learned that yet another person close to the president has tested positive for coronavirus, Nick Luna. That's the president's personal aide, somebody who travels with him virtually everywhere he goes. He has been -- tested positive for coronavirus.
Perhaps the most reliable information throughout all of this actually came from the president himself, with a four-minute video that he posted to Twitter yesterday.
And, George, I have got to say, the president looked good for somebody going through all that he is going through right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, let me bring in Martha Raddatz.
Martha, we saw that phalanx of military doctors behind Commander Sean Conley yesterday. No doubt they are giving professional care, but they also seemed to be used as political props.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: They absolutely are, George. And these are medical doctors, they should not be Spin Doctors (ph). Navy officers, not political appointees.
So you saw Dr. Conley and the others come out there and give that briefing with very little information. Kind of cute in ways saying he wasn't on oxygen today. That should not be happening. This is a prestigious position.
They may not have training for anything like this, this urgent care of the President of the United States, but they have to stick to the facts. They are not, again, Spin Doctors (ph).
I've traveled all over the world, George, I’ve been to North Korea. Remember last May when people thought Kim Jong-un might be dead, it's because people absolutely didn't believe the information they were getting. That happens in North Korea. It should not happen here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So Dr. Jen Ashton, let's cut through the spin and focus on what the doctors are doing for the president. Let's talk about that rather than what everybody is saying.
What are the various treatments they have been giving the president, the hospitalization, the regeneron, the remdesivir, tell you about the course of treatment and potentially the president's condition?
DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC NEWS CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the big-picture view here, George, from the clinical treatment aspect is that the president is getting early and aggressive treatment for what has heretofore been described as mild COVID-19 disease.
He's being treated with both an immunotherapy, that antibody cocktail by regeneron, which is under compassionate use authorization, and then anti-viral therapy, remdesivir, which pretty much is the standard of care now in hospitalized patients. Both of which given very early in the course of disease indicating his medical team not taking any chances that this disease will or could progress, doing as much as they can.
Obviously in medicine there are no guarantees regardless of how aggressive the treatment is.
In terms of predictions here, George, I want to emphasize and be crystal clear, in medicine, you evaluate a patient hour by hour, day by day. We avoid at all costs making long-term prognosis, especially in a situation like this with a virus so new, so variable, so mysterious that has shown us time after time it can be unpredictable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Right. And the general question for a lot of people, as you look at the cases, Dr. Jen, you have first the attack of the virus, and then the immune system response which is why everybody's concerned about that 7 to 10 day period.
DR. ASHTON: Right, 7 to 10 days. And let's be clear, it's not 48 hours, 7 to 10 days, and then at the mysteriously 11-day mark someone's miraculously in the clear. Again, that's why we take things hour by hour and day by day.
A lot of people asking about steroids here. That typically is not given early in the course of disease because that can actually worsen outcomes. But they are going to be on the lookout for complications of COVID like clotting disorders anywhere in the body, they're going to be monitoring kidney and liver function, which can be affected by these medications and by COVID itself. And then they'll be keeping a close eye for that secondary immune phase that can be so dangerous.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mary Bruce is covering the campaigns. No one knows for sure yet what this is going to mean for the ultimate outcome. We know it's has had an immediate effect on how the teams are campaigning.
MARY BRUCE, ABC NEWS SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and on both campaigns, George. We have seen the president's campaign trying to maintain some events but, of course, without the president, much of this campaign has come to just a screeching halt.
While Joe Biden is still going full steam ahead, we have seen him out there still keeping up his campaign events. But he is having to tweak his messaging.
We have seen him tempering his usually sharp attacks against the president. He's taken down much of his negative campaign ads. And he is, though, continuing to argue, of course, that this is a very severe virus, that he is the best leader who can tackle this. But he is in a bit of a tough position here.
Joe Biden has made this campaign a referendum on the president's handling of this pandemic. He has argued for months that the president doesn't take it seriously. So it's hard to make that message while also being respectful of the president's diagnosis as he makes these overarching calls for unity.
And, of course, George, there are so many questions about what comes next with these debates. The next faceoff is set for just about 10 days from now on the 15th. Right now, it is very hard to see how that still goes on as planned.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’re also our senior congressional correspondent. This could have a huge impact on the confirmation battle for Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Three Republican senators, Mary, have now tested positive for COVID.
BRUCE: Three Republican senators and two of them, George, Senators Lee and Tillis, are on the Critical Judiciary Committee. We saw them there at those celebrations at the White House for Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination.
If they remain sidelined, it could effectively jeopardize and prevent Amy Coney Barrett from being confirmed.
Republicans have no room for error here. Mitch McConnell is very well aware of that. He has said that COVID is the biggest threat to this confirmation.
Now, right now, they are planning to go ahead with these hearings. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the committee, is adamant about that. Even if it means they have to break Senate norms and do much of this virtually.
Democrats, of course, who have been eager to try and slow down this process, are calling for everyone to hit the pause button here.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: And, Jon Karl, right now at least, the Senate does not have the votes to confirm the justice. You have to vote in person in the Senate.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. There is no remote voting in the Senate. There is no proxy voting.
As you know, you already have two senators who said they not go along with this confirmation on the Republican side. Add three that simply cannot be there because they are self-isolating.
And the bottom line is Mitch McConnell, at least at this moment, does not have the votes to get Amy Coney Barrett confirmed. He has to hope that those three senators recover and that no more senators, no more Republican senators come down with COVID-19.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And finally, Martha Raddatz, I wonder about the lingering impact of the country seeing Marine One heading towards Walter Reed.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That was such a moment, George. And we, of course, talked about that together when that happened. The country is going to remember that.
And it's great to see that the president looked so good in that video. But as Jen Ashton said, we don't know what happens next. We don't know when we'll see that helicopter bring President Trump back.
Of course, he does not want to look weak. That's part of this campaign, as well. That's part of who Donald Trump is. He wants to look strong and macho.
This is very difficult for him. This is very difficult for the country and for his supporters to see, as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Thanks to our team of correspondents.
Let's bring in Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller right now.
Jason, thank you for joining us this morning.
And let me -- let me start with the question about your personal health. Five of the nine people who participated in the president's debate prep, including Chris Christie who works for ABC right now, have now tested positive for COVID.
Are you still negative? When was the last time you were tested?
MILLER: Yes, and thank you for having me on this morning, George.
I have tested negative, as has my entire family. So, we're very thankful for that. And that was on Friday when I took my last test. And so, I’m continuing to social distance and wear a mask and be very careful and wash my hands and keep distance from folks, use hand sanitizer.
So very thankful that I tested negative, as did Stephen Miller and Mayor Giuliani.
And for those who did test positive, namely President Trump, we're hoping that he gets back on his feet in no time and he seems to be doing very well.
You know, George, I did have the opportunity to speak with the president for about a half hour yesterday, both myself and Bill Stepien, our campaign manager.
And the president sounded pretty good. He said he was doing very well. He was getting back on his feet, and cracking jokes and asking questions about the campaign and grilling us about when we're going to have new TV ads to show him. So, he's feeling good and talking about this.
But he said a couple of really important things I want to make sure that I share with the American public that are watching this morning.
Number one, that we're going to defeat this virus. President Trump personally is going to defeat it. As a nation, we're going to defeat it and get life back to normal. Get this vaccine.
But then also our campaign is going to defeat it. And I think when President Trump gets out of the White House, or -- excuse me, out of the -- gets back to the White House and back on the campaign trail, it's going to be a slingshot taking us forward.
But he said something that was important, George, and that’s to be careful. To make sure that folks are washing hands, to make sure using hand sanitizer, to make sure they're wearing a mask if you can't socially distance. These are all important things and reminders that President Trump told us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's good to hear the president saying that now. I mean, there's been real questions about whether he's been taking it seriously enough up until his diagnosis.
In fact, we have a new poll out this morning with Ipsos. It says nearly three in four Americans, 72 percent say the president didn't take the risk of getting COVID seriously enough and didn't take appropriate precaution when it came to his personal health.
What do you say to them?
MILLER: Well, I disagree with that. Look at early action that the president took, both with closing down the country and making sure that we stop foreign travelers from China and from Europe.
At that time, he received criticism from the political left. Folks saying it was xenophobic, or saying that was racist. Obviously, he shut down the country for two weeks and then for an additional month. Had to go and keep us safe.
And what that did was that flattened the curve. That allowed us to make sure that we started developing this therapeutics. That we started getting the vaccine developed. That we got the ventilators, 100,000 ventilators built.
And, George, I think there's a really important point here is that President Trump had to take this head on. He had to get out there as the leader, not just of the country but of the free world, and take this head on.
This is a general- in-the-field-type moment that he couldn't just stay upstairs, hidden in the Lincoln bedroom or in the White House. He couldn't stay hidden in his basement, saying, “I’m going to shut down forever.” People in this country, George, want to get life back to normal --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Jason, that -- that's true, the president had to take -- the president had to take it head-on, but he didn't have to have -- hold rallies where people did not social distance, where did not wear masks. He didn't have to mock former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing a mask and reporters who wore masks. He didn't have to continue to go to event after event without wearing a mask.
MILLER: But I would -- again, George, I'd push back on that because President Trump is one of the most tested people in the entire country. And there's a lot that we still don't know about this virus.
So let me give folks an example of -- as someone who spends a lot of time with the president, the protocol and the things that I go through.
So, if I'm going to be spending time with the president or other team members, first of all we're tested beforehand. And there's about a full hour space from the time that we're tested until we make sure that we're in the clear. We keep distance from the president at all times. I -- the closest I ever get to the president is about eight feet, maybe six feet, usually a pretty solid distance back. A lot of times it's more like ten feet. And we make sure that any -- anyone has their temperature checked. People are washing their hands. They're using hand sanitizer.
So even with all of these things in place, we've seen that -- where President Trump did contract COVID, but he's one of the most safe people that's out there. And, obviously, if he's in a place where he can't socially distance, then we have seen him wearing a mask. We have seen him encouraging people, whether it be on Twitter, whether it be with e-mail, whether it be from his own voice saying be careful as you're out there. These are important things.
So folks who come to our rallies, for example, their temperatures are all checked. They're given masks. They're urged to be careful as well. We've done that in the past. We're going to continue doing that as we go forward.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, but more broadly, we've all seen the rallies without the masks. The Rose Garden event without the masks. The president's family refused to wear masks at the debate. And the president seemed pretty proud of that at Tuesday's debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he's got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from -- and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen.
And I'll have 25,000, 35,000 people show up at airports -- we use airports and hangers and we have a lot of people --
CHRIS WALLACE, MODERATOR: Are you not worried about the disease issue, sir?
TRUMP: Well, so far we have had no problem whatsoever.
We've had no negative effect. And we've had 35,000, 40,000 people at these rallies.
WALLACE: All right, do you want to --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hasn't the cavalier approach to masks and social distancing at these rallies been a mistake? Will it change going forward?
MILLER: Again, I'll push back on that and say it hasn't been cavalier at all. We take it very seriously. It's why we give everyone coming to rallies or to events, we give them a mask. We check their temperature.
You know, I'd say that with regard to Joe Biden, I think too often he's used the mask as a prop. A mask is very important, but even if he's -- he could be 20, 30 feet away from the nearest person and still have the mask on. That's not going to change anything that's out there. But, also, we've seen with -- with Joe Biden, I mean, we can't all just stay in our basement for the rest of our lives. We have to get out there and live our lives and take this on, develop the vaccine, develop more therapeutics, and defeat it.
Americans, George, want to get life back to normal. That is the driving thing in everyone's lives right now. They want to get life back to normal. You can't just stay hidden in your basement the entire time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Everyone wants to get life back to normal. There's no question about that. But has the president taken it too far? One example, on Thursday, the president went ahead with his fundraiser in Bedminster, even after the White House knew that Hope Hicks had tested positive.
Why wasn't that eventually canceled?
MILLER: Well, again, I'd say that the news, as we saw from the public reports, the news of when they saw about Hope Hicks, as soon as that happened, then President Trump was tested. He did not get his test back until later on Thursday evening. You know, it is notable that anyone who comes to an event such as the fundraiser, those at Bedminster, is tested. They do have their temperature taken. They are required to keep a distance back from the president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: No, hold -- hold on, Jason. This is -- the point is not that the -- the president's test isn't the point. We know that Jared Kushner, Dan Scavino, Kayleigh McEnany were told to stay back. They -- the president had been in close contact with Hope Hicks. Why would he go forward with this fundraiser after knowing he'd been in close contact with somebody who had just tested positive?
MILLER: Well, George, what I can't speak to, since I'm not part of White House operations, I'm not part of the White House medical unit, is the exact -- how much time he was spending with Hope and in the proximity for these things. I can't speak to that. I got to let the White House go and do that.
What I can speak to is that I think it was very smart that the White House medical team did take President Trump to Walter Reed as a precautionary measure. Obviously, as we've seen from the reports, that there was some concerns with how he was doing. We should all be very happy that President Trump is doing much better today. And he was doing much better yesterday.
So he's on the recovery right now. I think he'll be back in short order. He's anxious to get back out there on the campaign trail. And that's what I can speak to, having spoken with the president at length yesterday, and also seeing the briefing from his doctors out in front of Walter Reed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We all want him to get well as quickly as possible.
Let's talk about the campaign.
Even before this diagnosis, the president was behind. And there's a new polls from "The Wall Street Journal" and NBC News out today showing that Joe Biden is leading 53-39, a 14-point lead.
How can you come back from that kind of a deficit?
MILLER: Well, we did it in 2016 because, number one, a lot of times these polls are inaccurate. I remember an ABC/Washington Post poll that came out just a week or week and a half before the election in 2016 that said that we were down double digits. And now President Trump is in the White House.
So clearly these polls, these national polls, sometimes are inaccurate, or they're not sampling the right people, or they're not getting the right spreads.
As we look at the battleground states, what you need to get to 270, we feel very good about our positioning. In particular, I think our strength out west, both with Arizona and Nevada, is looking very good. In Florida we continue to look good. The numbers are -- our lead is growing, as we see, in North Carolina and Georgia, from internal numbers.
Pennsylvania's going to be tight. Michigan's going to be tight. The whole upper Midwest is what this thing could come down to.
And so we're launching this week, while President Trump is on the recovery, Operation MAGA, both with the vice president, the first family, dozens of our key supporters and our surrogates. We're going to be fanning out all over the country following the vice president's debate on Wednesday, also combined with a number of virtual events. We're going to have our first big kickoff virtual event Monday night.
So the president was excited to hear this Operation MAGA that we're going to get everyone around the country and really pick up the -- the banner and campaign until he can get back out there himself.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Jason Miller, thanks for your time this morning.
MILLER: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Biden campaign's up next. And later, our round table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't want to be attacking the president and the first lady.
This is not about freedom. It's about patriotism. You wear a mask to protect the person next to you. You wear a mask to protect the bus driver. You wear a mask to protect the person you're sitting next to on the bus.
You reject a chance to do the easiest thing possible to save lives, I find it appalling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Joe Biden had a virtual event yesterday.
We're joined now by his deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield.
Kate, thank you for joining us again this morning.
We know that the vice president tested negative for COVID on Friday. When is his next test, and when will we see the results?
KATE BEDINGFIELD, BIDEN DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, he actually said yesterday he will be tested today. And we will make those results available.
We are consistently testing. He's testing regularly, as, you know, we have taken every precaution from the outset of this campaign to be incredibly safe.
I mean, George, elections are a choice, right? It's a choice between two different styles of leadership. And since the virus came to our shores back in the spring, Joe Biden has led by example. Our campaign has led by example. We have been -- taken incredible precautions to socially distance, to wear masks, to ensure that we are under the gather limit in states where we're traveling, to make sure that we're complying with all of the public health requirements in those states.
So, we have -- as we have campaigned, as we have continued to go forward and make the argument for why Joe Biden should be president of the United States, we have taken every precaution. We're doing it safely. And Joe Biden is leading by example.
And I think that that's what the American people are looking for. The coronavirus has overtaken every corner of American life. It has made it so that we cannot send our kids to school. It's shuttering our small businesses. It's keeping us from being able to see our families and our friends.
Americans are worried. They look to Joe Biden, they see leadership. They see somebody who has the experience and the steady hand to get this country through this crisis.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You just...
BEDINGFIELD: And he's going to continue to make that case for the last 30 days of this campaign.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You just heard Jason Miller. He said Joe Biden's been hiding in his basement and using masks as a prop.
BEDINGFIELD: I think that tells you a lot of what you need to know about how the Trump campaign has treated this from the outset.
Joe Biden believes that the words of a president matter, that the actions of a president matter. From the outset, he has taken this seriously. He has encouraged Americans to wear -- to wear masks to protect each other. You heard him say that in that clip you played right before we started here.
He believes strongly that the role of the president is to lead, and is to lead by example. And I think Americans are looking for that kind of reassurance. We're obviously in an incredibly chaotic, disruptive time in this country.
Americans are looking for a leader, looking for somebody who will stand up and say, let's take care of each other. Let's move forward in our lives. Let's do it in a way where we're looking out for one another. There are simple, important steps that we can take, like wearing a mask, like socially distancing. And we can do that and move forward with our lives.
And we have seen Joe Biden lead on this question unequivocally since the spring, when the virus took over our lives.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you fully comfortable with the vice presidential debate going forward this Wednesday, given Vice President Pence's contact with the president and close proximity?
You saw that picture of him in the Rose Garden at the event for Judge Amy Coney Barrett last Saturday with several people who have tested positive.
BEDINGFIELD: Well, look, we have every expectation that the Debate Commission take all necessary precautions to ensure that everybody who attends the debate is safe. Obviously, that includes distancing. That includes a requirement on masks.
So, we have every expectation that they will do that. Provided that all of those expectations are met, yes, absolutely. We look forward to any opportunity for Senator Harris and for Joe Biden to make their case directly to the American people. That's what she's going to do at the debate this week. I think that's what you saw Joe Biden do at the debate last week.
So, we look forward to any opportunity to make our case directly to the American people. But we have every expectation that the commission put in place the necessary adjustments to ensure that everybody is safe.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the next presidential debate slated for October 15th? Do you see any way that can go forward? And are you prepared to accept any modifications to the rules that the Commission on Presidential Debates may recommend?
BEDINGFIELD: Well, again, we will -- we hope that they're going to put in place every adjustment necessary to ensure that it’s fully safe.
And, obviously, we -- we send President Trump our best. We hope that he is well and able to debate. If he is, Joe Biden will certainly be there.
Again, you know, this election is a choice. It's about a choice between two different styles of leadership, and Joe Biden looks forward to any opportunity to talk directly to the American people about how he would lead this country through this crisis.
So, assuming that the commission puts in place the necessary requirements to ensure that everybody is safe, which is first and foremost the most important thing -- yes. You know, Joe Biden certainly looks forward to the opportunity to debate Donald Trump, and we hope that he will be well and able to do that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about if it requires a change in schedule? Maybe a little later?
BEDINGFIELD: We believe that the debate should go forward as scheduled. Obviously, that's going to depend on a lot of factors here. First and foremost, President Trump's health, which we -- we send him the best, and we are -- we are hoping for a speedy and full recovery, as is everybody in this country.
So, our hope is that the debate will go forward on the day that it's scheduled. But obviously, we will -- we will be attuned to any changes that need to be made.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The campaign announced you were taking down negative advertising on Friday in the wake of the president's diagnosis. Is that for good?
BEDINGFIELD: Look, we'll make that adjustment as we go. Obviously, Joe Biden is somebody who believes first and foremost in civility. He's somebody who believes we can treat each other with dignity and respect. And so, we made that decision when we heard the news about President Trump's health. We'll adjust that as we go.
And I think either way, Joe Biden's going to continue making the argument about leadership, about experience, and about his ability to bring this country together. I think that's what Americans are looking for. I think, again, you know, we have lived through an incredibly turbulent and chaotic four years, and certainly, you know, last year, as we've been dealing with this virus.
And you know, Joe Biden put forward concrete, meaningful plans back in March to tackle this virus. He's put forward plans all summer to get our economy back on track, to get people back to work, to get small businesses open, to get kids back into school.
So he's going to continue to make that positive case about his vision for the country over the last 30 days of this campaign.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I know your campaign liked the trajectory of the race, especially after the debate, before the president's diagnosis. Are you worried at all that the president's illness will somehow transform this election, gain him sympathy, even votes?
BEDINGFIELD: Look, this is not about politics. This is, first and foremost, about the president's health. We are hopeful that he will make a full and swift recovery. We are all sending our best to him and to everybody in the first family.
So this is not a question of politics. This is a question of the president of the United States getting back to full health as soon as possible.
And I think for our campaign, as I say, we're going to continue to make our case for Joe Biden's style of leadership, for his experience, for his unique ability to bring the country together, to find common ground, to find consensus, and to move things forward.
So that's -- that is where we're going to continue our focus as a campaign, as we wait and hope that the president's health comes back to full speed soon.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Kate Bedingfield, thanks for your time this morning.
BEDINGFIELD: Thanks for having me, George. I appreciate it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Round table's up next. We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable's ready to go.
We'll be right back.
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PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP: I say it and I'll say it all the time, we're rounding the corner.
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TRUMP: So far we have had no problem whatsoever. It's outside. That's a big difference, according to the experts. We've had no negative effect.
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TRUMP: And now we're opening it up, and we're doing it at a level like nobody's ever seen before. And it's a great thing. And we're going to be back in business very soon.
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TRUMP: I just want to say that the end of the pandemic is in sight.
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TRUMP: I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support. I'm going to Walter Reed hospital. I think I'm doing very well. But we're going to make sure that things work out.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: What a difference a day makes. Who knows what the week ahead will bring. Let's talk about this all on our roundtable. Now joined by Rahm Emanuel; our chief political analyst Matthew Dowd; Fox News contributor; former DNC chair Donna Brazile; and Republican strategist Alice Stewart.
And, Matt, let me begin with you. We're in, kind of, uncharted waters right here. We've really never seen anything like there before, a president facing a health crisis in the final weeks of a presidential campaign.
What's your first assessment of the impact it's going to have on the country and the campaign?
DOWD: Well, George, I -- first thing is I hope we can simultaneously do two things, which is send compassion and concern for the first lady and the president, and be so angry about the cavalier attitude and the cavalier way and the irresponsibility of this president and the White House has done related to the coronavirus and the protocols in place.
They wantonly had a disregard for others and put people at risk. And so I think the American public is feeling both of those things today. They hope the president recovers, and they're also upset that the president did not take this seriously enough, even in his own actions to protect himself, the security of the country, and others. And we should be able to hold both of those thoughts simultaneously like the American public does.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Alice Stewart, it sounded like Jason Miller was starting the beginning of a new message when he talked about what the president was encouraging everybody to wear a mask and to social distance, from his -- from his -- from his hospital room last night. But how much pressure has this put on Republican candidates up and down the ballot?
STEWART: Tremendous pressure, because you need to lead by example. And, look, when you have the Ipsos poll showing that 72 percent of those polled don't believe that the president took these risks seriously enough, that does cause for great concern.
And I'm encouraged that the president is now encouraging mask-wearing, hand-washing, and encouraging social distancing. But it certainly would have been helpful if that was the message getting right out of the gate.
And, look, this poll, this election, will boil down to the undecided voters. Look, the president's base will support him. Biden's base will support him. But these undecided voters, they do have concerns about how this has been handled. And leadership is about not just showing that you're in control but actually being in control.
And to be in control, you have to lead by example and heed the advice of these public health officials and also talk the talk and walk the walk. And there's great concern whether or not this president has done so.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Donna Brazile, if the president does take on that new message, do you think it might work?
BRAZILE: I don't know, George. Because, look, the president has multiple opportunities to show leadership during this pandemic. I mean, just here in the District of Columbia, when the mayor of D.C. said that we had a hot spot -- and it was actually about a mile from the White House -- there was no sense at the White House that this was a serious disease, that it was being transmitted right down the street from where they are.
Look, I want to express what Matthew said because he's absolutely right. We can be sympathetic. We can pray that the -- the first family, along with their staff, the chair of the RNC, and my good buddy Chris Christie -- look, Chris, if you're watching us this morning, rest up. Listen to the doctors. Don't try to do your homework, and don't try to call me today.
Take your medicine, and get better.
Seven million people infected by this, 200,000 dead. And this president mishandled it from day one.
I pray that he gets better, and he changed his mind about wearing a mask.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We all pray that Chris gets better real soon, and the president as well.
Rahm Emanuel, you also served as White House chief of staff for Barack Obama.
It seemed like a case study yesterday at the White House for how not to bring important information to the public.
EMANUEL: Yes, I want to compliment Donna for backing like a Jewish mother there for one second. It was a great moment there.
EMANUEL: I will say that what you did there on the White House was everything you're not supposed to do.
And it continues to undermine the president's campaign, because it was a lack of information on a very, very important issue. And what they needed to do from the get-go was hit the restart and say, here's how we're going to be honest, here's how we're going to lead by example.
Everything that's happened here has actually undermined the edifice of -- that -- what the presidency has put up. He's now -- rather than this guy that's a boxer, he's now looking actually very vulnerable. Rather than person, when you looked at "The New York Times"' tax story, of this really successful businessman, he didn't pay any taxes.
Piece by piece, all the little pieces are coming apart about the edifice of what Trump is to the public.
And I think the White House, in this set of decisions, has actually shown a disjointed -- you got a medical team that saying he's OK, yet all the care he's getting shows he's a very sick patient.
And that dissonance, that kind of information that's jarring, is actually undermining the presidency and his candidacy right now.
And I think what -- everything that -- to be honest, that Joe Biden's doing is showing exactly what a president supposed to do, how he's supposed to operate, and set a good example, from the -- heeding the science, public health, leadership, bringing the country together.
And each one of those pieces of his campaign is showing that. And I think he's doing exactly what he needs to do to be the other choice.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Matthew Dowd, you advised, of course, the presidential campaign of George W. Bush.
If the president's team called you today and said, what do we need to do right now to get back in this game, what will you tell him?
DOWD: I would first ask him, are you willing to really listen to what I have about to say to you? And that's what I -- first ask him that.
And if they are willing to listen, I would say, practice a level of humility that you have not been able to do for four years. Admit your mistakes. Admit you underestimated the disease. Admit you downplayed it. Admit that you didn't follow the protocols.
Admit that you made mistake after mistake after mistake along the way, and then say, I'm going to do better. I'm going to conduct myself...
DOWD: ... I'm going to lead this country, I'm going to do this in a way -- campaigns are fundamentally -- as you and Rahm and Alice and Donna know, campaigns are reflections of candidates.
And it's such a stark contrast to have the Biden campaign practice all the protocols from day one, even though many people made fun of them, and do it from day one, and follow the science.
The Trump campaign and the president practiced no protocols, didn't follow the science. And that is a reflection of two different candidates.
So, I would say the advice I would give is, be something totally different than you have been for five years.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna Brazile, I see you laughing right there.
That kind of a strategy has worked for candidates in the past. If you apologize, admit wrongdoing, promise to change, it often turns things around.
BRAZILE: Matt knows that I'm a Catholic.
And you're right. That applies to people of faith that understands that you can say, I'm sorry. You can apologize. You can ask for forgiveness.
But that's not President Donald Trump.
Look, he mocked Hillary Clinton after she lost her balance on 9/11. He mocked her. He ridiculed her. He did that in a public space.
I am saying to my fellow Democrats, don't pay attention to these polls. You better get out there and work as if you really want it.
I'm telling my fellow independents, if you really want a president who's decent, who's honorable, who will tell you the truth, then you better take a look at Joe Biden.
And I'm telling President Trump's supporters, my Republican friends and neighbors, if he showed this much disregard for his wife and his supporters, think about how much -- think about how much he will care for you.
So, no, this is that moment. I'm laughing not because this is funny, but I'm laughing because he's not going to listen. He doesn't listen. He doesn't play by the same rules that everyone else play by.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Alice, I don't think the president or his team are going to take Matt Dowd's advice.
But you, of course, are a loyal Republican as well. What do you think they can and should do right now?
STEWART: Well, certainly, it would be nice if they would certainly listen to Matthew and Donna.
And my advice would certainly be to express extreme compassion for this country. They don't necessarily have to acknowledge every single mistake that has been made, but realize that, look, we cannot deny COVID.
COVID is certainly not a political issue. This is a public health issue.
And moving forward, he needs to definitely tone down the rhetoric, tone down the incendiary talk. And, look, he can going into the next two debates with a lot less bull in a china shop mentality and come across as certainly much more compassionate.
And I think the Biden campaign did a wise thing by taking down the negative ads against Donald Trump, at least for the time being, to show that they are going to be a more compassionate and empathetic campaign. It would be helpful if the Trump campaign would do so until we get out of the clear.
But I am encouraged also by Operation MAGA, the grassroots effort that is across the country that has surrogates, the vice president. It has bus tours, it has boat parades going across the country, to reinforce the president's message.
Look, I think his base is going to pick up where he is not able to rally right now while he's in the hospital.
But he needs to broaden his electorate. He needs to appeal to these undecided voters. And coming out with a more compassionate tone, embracing the seriousness of this pandemic will certainly go a long way to spring swing over the people that have not made their decision yet.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Rahm, it does seem the debate put the president in exactly the opposite direction. We have this new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll out this morning. Last poll had Joe Biden up by eight, this one by 14. This was done after the debate, before the president's diagnosis.
EMANUEL: Yeah. First of all, I want to say this is a lot of wishful thinking. Nothing we're suggesting is both Donald Trump or his campaign. It will take a total revolutionary change in thinking, and I don't think after 3-1/2 years of exposure, he's going to all of a sudden adopt a tone of humility. It is not in his DNA.
I do think one of the things -- I want to pick up what Donna said which is that I think why the vice president's campaign is doing exactly the right not only transparency but continue to campaign because I actually think it's a study in contrast. Because the president ignored all the public health, and actually what presidents do is show -- lead by example.
And in this example, social distancing, wearing a mask, being actually at events that are organized in a way that keep people's -- express the underpinning of public health, good public health policy.
And I would contend -- as I would say to the Biden campaign, I would continue to -- not unilaterally disarm, yes, you take the negative down, but you're leading by example, exactly doing the right type of campaigning.
I also think if you step back, Nancy Pelosi is trying to work a deal out to get the economy moving. Vice President Joe Biden is trying to actually lead by example and show how you continue to handle the COVID but on with your life. I think Chuck Schumer's doing exactly the right thing also, fighting a Supreme Court nominee in that effort.
And so, the Democrats are showing a way of both moving forward, leading by example, and stopping someone that shouldn't go forward. I mean, the Supreme Court case, rather nomination, could be another super-spreader event if they don't handle it right.
I think all the Democrats are doing exactly right and projecting away, but also we’re saying we're not going to rest. We have 35 days to go to fight for the future of this country. And that's the underscoring message of all three Democratic leaders at this point.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Matthew Dowd, it does seem like getting the Supreme Court nomination confirmed, getting Justice -- Judge Amy Coney Barrett confirmed on the Supreme Court has overtaken everything else for the Republican Party right now, despite the fact that three Republican senators have now tested positive. They're saying the schedule won't change one bit.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. It's an amazing insight to the approach. I saw a number of posts by prominent Republicans on social media saying, okay, if the Amy Coney Barrett thing jeopardizes us keeping the Senate, if it jeopardizes Z, Y, and Z, it's worth it.
So, basically, it's worth it no matter what. It's worth it even if -- if it puts people's health at risk to get another nominee through and on to the Supreme Court.
It really is a case study into the idea that the ends completely justify the means in this. And it seems to be their only singular approach.
You really can feel like they've assumed that the president is likely to lose, that there's a high likelihood that they're likely to lose the United States Senate. So, what do they have left? To push through a Supreme Court nominee in a divided time in the country.
I think it's a mistake to do. And I think maybe Mitch McConnell will realize maybe taking this vote days before the November election is a bad idea. But it really is a case study in the approach they have.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Alice, you see any chances that Mitch McConnell changes his mind?
STEWART: Only if this -- only if he doesn't have the votes. It's not about whether or not it's safe to go about the confirmation process. It's whether or not he has the votes.
They can do this virtually just like they have done previous hearings before and go about moving forward with her confirmation. But if he does see that he has the support to go ahead and approve for nomination, I don't see any reason why he should not.
And even if it does risk us losing the Senate, a Supreme Court nomination is a decades long appointment which will be beneficial to Republicans and the conservative cause. And it is worth in my view, and a lot of people view that, if it does cost us the Senate, it is certainly better to lose the battle and win the long-term war with regard to the Supreme Court.
EMANUEL: George --
BRAZILE: George, he will move heaven --
EMANUEL: George --
BRAZILE: Mitch McConnell will move heaven and earth to get this justice through. But he won't get up tomorrow morning and call Pelosi and say, I want to make a deal to ensure that those who are losing their jobs, who need unemployment benefits, those who need the SNAP program, he will not lift a finger for them, but he will move heaven and earth for this judge.
EMANUEL: And --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Rahm Emanuel.
EMANUEL: This is exactly -- that's exactly the point, which you just said, he's willing to do -- break all the rules, endanger people's health, just like they did at the White House, to get a Supreme Court nominee, but won't do a single thing, just walk across the hall and say, how do we get the economy moving again?
And here's what I would do if I was Chuck Schumer. I would say, those three senators who now have Covid have a pre-existing condition. But because they have government-run health care, it's been covered for 30 years, pre-existing conditions. But now we're going to have a nominee shoved down the American people's throat 30 days before an election, and one of the major topics in front of the Supreme Court is, are the American people continue going to have health care coverage that covers pre-existing conditions? Every one of those senators that contracted Covid at that White House event now have a pre-existing condition.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we will --
EMANUEL: And the question is, how do we rule on that case?
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is a big question coming up. Of course, we still don't know if any other senators have -- have contracted Covid. Many are waiting for results right now.
That is all we have time for today. Thank you all for a great discussion.
We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.
Tune in Wednesday night for the vice presidential debate. I'll be anchoring our special coverage starting at 8:00 Eastern. And I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."