A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, November 7, 2021 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.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR (voice-over): Bipartisan breakthrough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The motion is adopted.
RADDATZ: President Biden takes a victory lap after the House passes a massive infrastructure bill.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people have made clear one overwhelming thing. They want us to deliver. Last night, we proved we can.
RADDATZ: His party under pressure, in light of the Republican victory in Virginia, setting off alarm bells for Democrats. What it might mean for the midterms just one year out.
(on camera): We drove through key Southern states all the way from North Carolina down here to Florida, where Republicans are gleeful.
What do you think it says for Georgia in the midterms?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Virginia was the bellwether.
RADDATZ: What are the issues here in Florida?
(voice-over): The voices of voters this morning.
On hold. A federal appeals court issues an emergency stay on the vaccine mandate affecting more than 100 million American workers. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy standing by.
Clarion call for climate change.
BIDEN: This is the decisive decade.
RADDATZ: What steps can we take, and how much will they mitigate the growing threat? Our Ginger Zee is here with us this morning to explain it all.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."
Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."
After months of mind-numbing negotiations, countless meetings, and multiple missed deadlines, President Biden's massive bipartisan infrastructure package cleared the House late Friday. In a surprise twist, 13 Republicans supported the bill, enough to make up for six progressive holdouts.
Democrats have struggled to find unity, facing increased pressure to act after this week's major wakeup call, suffering a stinging defeat in Virginia and just barely holding onto the governor's mansion in New Jersey.
President Biden acknowledging the message that was loud and clear: Get something done.
But the results of those races were a bright red warning signal that could spell trouble for Democrats in the midterm elections.
With those critical midterms one year away and control of Congress at stake, we hit the road, partnering with our own stations and affiliates, traveling through key Southern states to talk face to face with voters.
RADDATZ (voice-over): A stunning victory for Republicans in Virginia.
GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: All righty, Virginia, we won this thing!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
RADDATZ: For the first time in more than a decade, a Republican winning statewide office in the commonwealth, as many frustrated suburban voters who supported Biden in 2020 turned out instead for the GOP, with a potential new playbook for Republicans in next year's midterms, less focus on Donald Trump and more on fundamentals, education, jobs, and the effects of the pandemic.
MEL GHANI, VIRGINIA VOTER: He campaigned on the strong issues that people really cared about.
RADDATZ: It was a rallying cry we heard again and again as we hit the road and headed south, traveling almost 1,000 miles through three battleground states, where much is at stake in next year's midterms, first up, North Carolina.
Trump won here by fewer than 2 percentage points, but, in 2022, the state has an additional congressional seat and a Senate seat up for grabs.
(on camera): Here in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on Wednesday morning, voters were waking up to the reality up North, knowing it could reverberate throughout the South.
(voice-over): For Democrats...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very concerning.
RADDATZ: For Republicans like farm owner Susan Weaver Ford, the vote was to be expected.
SUSAN WEAVER FORD, NORTH CAROLINA VOTER: You know, to replace that combine, that one combine, you're looking at $600,000.
RADDATZ: For Ford, it is all about issues that hit close to home.
WEAVER FORD: Things that deal with just a lot of labor issues, specifically the H-2A labor program, and it eats into what little bit of profit we are trying to make.
RADDATZ: Day care owner Cassandra Brooks voted for Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020. The things that matter most to her? Education and children.
CASSANDRA BROOKS, NORTH CAROLINA VOTER: When he said he believes in the soul of this nation, I really believe he humbly cares about the people. You know, we still have -- some people are divided, but I can still say that we are still moving forward.
RADDATZ: Ross Turnmire was conflicted on who to support in 2020, and, as a dad and business owner, his priorities are both the economy and COVID.
ROSS TURNMIRE, NORTH CAROLINA VOTER: Economic stability is important, if you think about supporting a family, three kids, and how COVID impacts our day-to-day.
RADDATZ: And he is frustrated by the division in the country.
RADDATZ (ON CAMERA): If I asked you to describe America under Donald Trump, how would you describe it?
TURNMIRE: A lot of folks on edge, and in divided camps, and kind of always in that state of “Who's out to get me?”
RADDATZ (ON CAMERA): And how would you describe America under Joe Biden?
TURNMIRE: Exactly the same.
RADDATZ (VOICE OVER): From North Carolina onto Georgia, one of the most critical battleground states tipping slightly blue with record voter turnout in the 2020 election, and the subsequent Senate runoffs that shifted the balance of power in Congress.
RADDATZ (ON CAMERA): What issues are important to you, the economy, how people handle the pandemic? What's important?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything is important.
RUEL JOYNER, GEORGIA VOTER: I personally think that America has to get back more to the middle.
RADDATZ (VOICE OVER): Conservative Ruel Joyner also thinks the party should concentrate on policy, not former President Trump.
JOYNER: And I think with the president staying out of this, and they talk more about conservative values and less about personalities, you had a higher turnout.
RADDATZ (VOICE OVER): But Trump's baseless election fraud claims paved the way for new voting restrictions in Georgia that some worry will have an effect on midterms and turnout.
NSE UFOT, NEW GEORGIA PROJECT CEO: What we are witnessing right now is a fundamental, well-funded attack on American democracy, and on Americans' ability to participate in our elections.
RADDATZ (VOICE OVER): From Georgia, we continued south to Florida. The historically purple state growing increasingly red, will also gain a congressional seat next year.
RADDATZ (ON CAMERA): Here in DuvalCounty on Florida’s East Coast, Joe Biden won in 2020, the first Democratic presidential candidate to win here in more than 40 years, but now it's the Republicans who are gloating.
Describe to me your feelings when you heard about especially Virginia.
DEAN BLACK, DUVAL COUNTY GOP CHAIR: We were overjoyed because we know what that means.
RADDATZ (ON CAMERA): And what does that mean?
BLACK: Well, that means the Democrats are in big trouble.
RADDATZ (VOICE OVER): And for Democrats --
DANIEL HENRY, DUVAL COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR: It was gut-wrenching.
RADDATZ (VOICE OVER): Daniel Henry is the chair of the Democratic Party in Duval County and blames Washington for that Republican victory in Virginia.
HENRY: People are really looking for progress, for the Build Back Better agenda to actually be passed and fulfilled, and I think the midterm election obviously has shown Democrats that you can't just run on Trump. You have to vote in -- and run on ideas and a platform that people really resonate with.
RADDATZ (VOICE OVER): As Democrats desperately try to find ways to close the gap in Florida, as they face mounting hurdles like low voter registration and being outspent.
SUSAN MACMANUS, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA PROFESSOR EMERITA: They realize that they have a difficult task because this is a very complex state. Generational shifts are taking place, and they're losing a bit of grip on the Latino vote, which is one of the fastest growing portions of our electorate.
RADDATZ (VOICE OVER): A lot of those younger Latino voters swinging to the right.
GISELLE VAZQUEZ-SOTO, FLORIDA VOTER: We need Republicans that aren't necessarily pro-Trump or anti-Trump, but that can activate that same Trump base.
RADDATZ (VOICE OVER): And Florida Democratic voters, both progressives and moderates, increasingly frustrated with the political infighting in their party.
CHARLES JOHNSTON, FLORIDA VOTER: The Democratic Party needs to come together. I mean, they have a majority in the House and the Senate, but they can't get things done because they can't agree on what they're trying to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ (ON CAMERA): And the Roundtable is here now to make sense of it all. Former DNC Chair Donna Brazile, Sarah Isgur, a veteran of the Trump Justice Department, now a political analyst for “The Dispatch”, our political director Rick Klein, and Robert Costa, national political reporter for “The Washington Post” and co-author of the new book “Peril.” Welcome to all of you.
And Donna, I’m going to go straight to you. I'm going to get to the infrastructure bill and the good news for Democrats, but I want to talk about Tuesday. The president recognized that passing that sooner, the infrastructure bill might have helped there, but what's your take on what happened Tuesday?
DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, I haven't done a full autopsy. I'm just afraid to go into the funeral home right now.
But I can tell you this much, Terry McAuliffe ran against Donald Trump. Glenn Youngkin ran away from Donald Trump. He ran harder. He ran harder in the suburbs. He ran harder in the rural colonies. He ran harder in areas where Donald Trump didn't do so well. It was a classic ground game that I think allowed him to overcome Terry's lack of message, and the fact that he had a significant head wind.
Look, there’s this notion that Democrats needed a wakeup call. We’ve had that wakeup call. We just don't know what time it is, and I think the time is we need to be more unified when we go before the American people and tell us -- tell them what we're doing and not about the sausage-making.
RADDATZ: And, Sarah, I was struck. If you drove through northern Virginia before Election Day, where you never saw a Trump sign in 2020, there were Youngkin signs everywhere. So this was different.
SARAH ISGUR, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Campaign operatives hate the yard sign polling, but, you know, the last couple of --
RADDATZ: It worked, didn't it?
ISGUR: They’ve actually been fairly accurate. 2016, people kept talking about the yard signs.
Look. I think that you can over and underread what happened in Virginia. First, you take Virginia by itself, and dive into the difference between Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin. I think you can miss then what happened in Minneapolis, Buffalo, New Jersey.
New Jersey saw a bigger swing from 2020 than Virginia saw. So, you need to find something that was similar in all of those places.
At the same time, Terry McAuliffe didn't just run against Donald Trump. That was his first message, but in every ad that I saw, his second one was abortion, and I think the other thing that we've seen, is even in the wake of Texas, abortion is no longer a motivating factor on the left, and I don't think it's much of a motivating factor on the right compared to what it was 15 years ago.
Terry McAuliffe in a lot of ways was running a 1996 to 2004 race in 2021, and I think Democrats who look too much at the education issue are missing what parents were actually saying. Schools in FairfaxCounty, the largest place of voters in Virginia, were closed for the 2020/2021 school year, incredibly frustrated.
And then Terry McAuliffe says that they have no role in their kids' election, that add --
RADDATZ: That was rolled over and over and over again. And that was really an essential theme.
Rick, this feels much like the year after President Obama was elected and then not so much. So what's your take on all of this?
RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, 64 seats in that first Obama midterm were lost after they got the wakeup call in 2009 after losing both Virginia and New Jersey in that year.
And it might be the Democrats don't have much they can do about that. This is history, but you’ve seen a really interesting split in the Democratic Party. You’ve got some people who say the answer is we have to do more and do it more quickly. That's really the progressive answer, and it’s been to an extent President Biden’s.
You’ve got others who say, we have to dial it back. Joe Manchin is saying this is a validation of his view that maybe bills are going further than the American people want. Maybe they don't want FDR. Maybe they just want stability.
I think, though, there's a bigger issue and maybe this, Donna, this autopsy will get at this, but the bigger issue for Democrats is how do you -- how do you make a message that connects? Because the last year has been drift in terms of messaging.
It's been all over the place. It's been about infighting and even if they pass not just the one bill they passed on Friday, but the bigger social spending bill, it's not clear that this is what the public wants.
There’s a disconnect there that I think was evident in New Jersey, in Virginia, and so many other places around the country on Tuesday.
RADDATZ: And evident when I talked to voters in the South again and again and again. And Glenn Youngkin did manage to pull this off without alienating Trump voters.
ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL DIRECTOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Glenn Youngkin did -- Republicans right now appear to have a containment strategy for Trump, an uneasy containment strategy. They don't want to purge him from the party and that should be noted. They're keeping him inside because they want his movement to come along.
Donna called this a wake-up call. My question is as a reporter, to what end? Is this an alarm clock or a siren? Because Bob Woodward and I reported that House Majority Whip James Clyburn, he said beyond all the demographic changes and the voter changes, democracy is on fire, Clyburn said.
Republicans are on the march in all of these states changing voter laws and now you have an election in Virginia, New Jersey and elsewhere that's putting Democrats on the ropes. Are Democrats going to do what they did in 2020? Which is to activate their core voters, voters of color, older voters and get them out to the polls? Not just on the Build Back Better agenda, but on core issues of democracy? That is a lingering question for this party.
RADDATZ: Well, let's just take that right to Donna then.
DONNA BRAZILE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: As you all know, I’m listening, but unfortunately I’m not taking notes. Let me just say this. Voters are in a solid move. They're not voting for Republicans because they like Republicans. In fact, Republicans' numbers are just as bad as Democrats, but what they are doing is they're punishing Democrats for the bickering.
They don't want to hear the bickering. They're not afraid of compromise. They're not afraid of tradeoffs, but they are sick and tired of all of the bickering in Washington, D.C.
So you're right. Democrats need to have a unified message. I don't care if we come in all flavors, stripes, and as many flavors as Ben & Jerry's. We just have to say it's ice cream. It’s ice cream.
RADDATZ: But, Donna, what -- what about the rural areas?
RADDATZ: What have Democrats done for them? What message have they gotten? Have they shown up?
Some of the people that I talk to were, like, we see Republicans here all the time talking to us, but not the Democrats.
BRAZILE: Well, and that’s -- that's a fundamental flaw inside the party that we need to correct because when I first started off in politics, probably before you were born, we actually talked to people in the suburbs. We talked to people in rural areas, because those districts were the kind of districts where you had this mix, this sort of --
BRAZILE,: Before you were born. We actually talked to people in the suburbs. We talked to people in rural areas because those districts were the kind of districts where you had this mix, this sort of gumbo. Nowadays we just like to feast on our own jambalaya and not really talk to people outside of our so-called comfort zone.
Look, I think Democrats --
SARAH ISGUR, DISPATCH STAFF WRITER AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: And in a language, by the way, that they don't even recognize.
BRAZILE: Well, let me just say this, Glenn Youngkin had more signs and -- and 15 languages than Terry McAuliffe. I mean I understand the difference between Cantonese and Mandarin, but you didn't see that in Virginia. And he should have had that.
But Democrat, once again, has to expand their message. Look, we have a lot to say we're doing for America. We're the party of normal politics, for example. We're fighting over spending, how much it costs and who it will help. The Republicans are still trying to figure out what happened on January 6th and how much they have to move away from it.
So, we have normal politics that -- in abnormal times and the Republicans are against it.
ROBERT COSTA, WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER AND CO-AUTHOR, ‘PERIL’: Martha, I'm really skeptical, though, that the Republicans can copy this Glenn Youngkin playbook.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: Did she answer your question there?
COSTA: She did, but I think Republicans, they keep saying they're going to follow the Glenn Youngkin blueprint, but how can they all be Glenn Youngkin?
BRAZILE: I wouldn't do that.
COSTA: They've spent five years in the thrall of Donald Trump.
RADDATZ: Well, it -- exactly, Sarah. And I was going to -- I was going to take that to you. You talk about education. Not every candidate --
RADDATZ: And probably no Democratic candidate will ever again say what Terry McAuliffe did, which parents shouldn't have a say in schools.
So, how big an issue is that, and how do they keep this going?
ISGUR: Yes. So, one, something Republicans should learn from this race, all of them, high turnout doesn't hurt Republicans. Stop trying to limit voting in these states. It is not bad for Republicans and it's not necessarily good for Democrats, clearly.
BRAZILE: Thank you.
ISGUR: Second, Republicans have the benefit right now that they do speak a language that voters understand. You're talking about pregnant people and Latin-x (ph) and that is unrecognizable to so many of these voters. If Republicans can do what they're doing in these rural places, running up the vote, not at 70 percent, but at 80 and 90 percent, those are numbers that Democrats cannot come back from in a lot of states, most states.
And last, yes, the Trump model in Virginia, and in New Jersey, won't work in 2022. Donald Trump is not going to sit on the sidelines. Those Senate races are not going to work that way. He's going to want to be in or out. You've got to make the call. And you also are not going to get candidates like Glenn Youngkin, who were chosen through a convention with rank choice voting from a party that wanted the most electable. That's not how the Senate primaries are going.
BRAZILE: That's right.
RADDATZ: And, Rick, I want to take a pause here to talk about good news for the Democrats, which is they got the infrastructure bill through. To -- explain what's in it, and what that will mean. And, obviously, the Build Back Better is not.
RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, to Donna's point, this is the kind of stuff that voters say they want. It's roads. It's bridges. It's rural -- it is rural broadband. It's also ports and water and electricity, and things that are of visceral concern to people right now. It's all -- there's also a whole boat load of environmental initiatives that are part of this as well.
This is, at its bottom, what both sides could agree on. Joe Biden made that joke about infrastructure week. We've been talking about it for a long time. This is something that could get Mitch McConnell on board and the Senate and it passes with the bipartisan support in the House.
Now, does this suggest that you can get the social --
RADDATZ: The special policy bill through?
KLEIN: Look, it's a different coalition entirely. I mean that model will not work. And, in fact, this was an example of the center holding at the expense of the left, and of the way that Joe Biden wanted to handle it. He'll now have to get his entire party together. And very explicitly Joe Manchin has said, I don't support what the House is doing on that social spending bill. So even if they pass it in the next couple weeks, which looks like a decent chance, it's going to change pretty significantly.
But this piece, not to undersell it, look, there's a lot that Democrats and Republicans can go back to voters with and say, we're trying to answer it. I think they have to unpack parts of it, begin to explain what it actually means. Otherwise, it's going to feel like another Washington thing because not a lot of this money's actually even going to be spent before the midterms. A lot of it won't be spent before the next presidential. It's a -- it's a paradigm shift that Democrat haves to explain.
RADDATZ: Was it a win for Joe Manchin?
KLEIN: Oh, yes, no question in my mind.
RADDATZ: Big win, right?
KLEIN: He -- look, people were in Washington all the time, what does Joe Manchin want? He was very clear what he wanted and he had a price tag in mind, and it was a lot lower than the Bernie Sanders price tag and the Joe Biden price tag, and things have come toward him.
And, ultimately, Friday night, the vote happened on the infrastructure bill, not the social spending bill. So he now has -- he's still got some cards. The House will pass whatever it passes knowing that it's going to be rewritten. And if you're Joe Manchin in West Virginia, very similar to a lot of the voters that you talked to, Martha, on the road trip, you'll say, look, this is good for the Democrats because the Democrats are going to have to align what they do with what people actually want.
RADDATZ: And, meanwhile, Robert, the Republicans are just kind of lying low on this and letting it play out?
COSTA: Well, it's notable, to Rick's point about Manchin, that some House Republicans voted for this infrastructure bill because they saw the bill separated. And this was a real test for President Biden.
Because so many progressives wanted these two pieces of legislation coupled together to be part of Biden's progressive agenda. But when you decouple them, it enables some Republicans to come on, for Manchin to be driving the agenda.
The real thing I'm watching now as a reporter is what kind of political capital is President Biden going to put behind the social spending bill in the next six to 12 months?
Are Democrats going to really try to carry the banner?
Remember, in February of 2021, Biden brings Democrats to the Oval Office and he points up at the portrait of FDR, and he says, "This is the time for FDR-style policies."
The Amtrak-riding moderate from Delaware made a choice to go in the progressive direction. Can he carry that banner through to November 2022?
RADDATZ: I just keep flipping right to you. You're just -- he's a reporter, yes.
... you know?
BRAZILE: He's a great reporter. But, you know, what I did over the last week was send out a lot of messages and tweets toward Senator Bill Cassidy. He's my home state senator. He supported this bill, helped craft this bill, because he knew it would bring about big change in Louisiana.
I grew up on the Mississippi. This bill will address people who live along that river. I grew up nearby; I went to school near like Pontchartrain. This bill -- this bill will help coastlines, broadband, for those rural Americans.
This bill has so much bread and butter in it. And if the Democrats don't make it sour, we can sell it. We can sell it because it's a historic investment in the American people. It's not about social spending. It's about investing in every child in this country.
You know, if we can sell this bill, I think the Americans...
COSTA: ... social spending? I mean, that -- the White House still wants to get that done.
BRAZILE: Oh, no, reconciliation...
BRAZILE: I'm talking about -- and that's the whole problem. If we start talking on legislative sausage-making, it goes right...
RADDATZ: Mind-numbing, mind-numbing.
I want to switch to -- to, in Las Vegas this week, we had major contenders for the 2024 GOP presidential race. What is the key there for them in challenging Donald Trump?
ISGUR: Assume Donald Trump runs. And I think that is today the -- it's not a 51 percent; it's a 99 percent. Something would need to change at this point for Donald Trump not to run. It has to be a one-on-one race. And so there has to be someone who can get all those Republicans in a room and say, "Here is the person we're going to run against them."
It's not going to be someone who was Never Trump. It's not going to be someone who says "Everything Donald Trump did was bad and I think he's a bad guy who says mean things."
It's going to be someone who can -- you know, Glenn Youngkin-esque, actually, who can find a way, a different message to energize Trump voters without alienating everything Trump stood for and did.
The question is, who in the Republican Party can do that? Who can make that meeting? Who can broker it?
I don't know that that exists right now. And I also don't know, just ego-wise, that people are going to, you know, wait their turn. That's never been a very popular strategy among politicians.
RADDATZ: And, Donna, who do Democrats most want to face in 2024?
BRAZILE: You know, all of the above. I mean, the Republican Party is in disarray. They have to figure out if they're going to believe in democracy again. And so for Democrats, we need to keep our eyes on the prize, and that is deliver for the American people. They want real sausage, not this fake stuff.
ISGUR: Except they don't want the FDR stuff. I mean, I think the funniest part about infrastructure...
BRAZILE: That's crazy. They want it.
ISGUR: ... is that Joe Biden, people are making this political calculation that Joe Biden thinks that somehow this will be good for the midterms. I think it's the exact opposite. If I were advising Joe Biden, "You've wanted to be president for 30 years, you've got one more year left. Do whatever you want your legacy to be, and, you know, damn the torpedoes."
RADDATZ: And, Rick, Trump does seem to be making all the moves for another presidential run. Do you have any doubts?
KLEIN: Not at this point, no. I mean, I think, if he were -- if he were watching the speeches in Las Vegas at the Republican Jewish Coalition -- he sent in a video. He didn't appear in person. He's thinking this is still his party, and every sign in that direction.
And, you know, our -- our colleague and ABC News contributor Chris Christie was one of the very few Republicans to say, "We can't keep looking back," and -- and he -- it was met with crickets at that group -- at that group. People in the Republican Party, they've remained in his thrall.
I think, yeah, the Glenn Youngkin...
RADDATZ: And he said, "We have to tell the truth." Crickets, also.
KLEIN: Also -- also there. Glenn Youngkin is, sort of, a unicorn here. He's a self-funder who was able to, as Sarah pointed out, have his own kind of path.
It's very difficult. And, yes, Donald Trump is moving in that direction.
COSTA: He's moving in that direction...
RADDATZ: OK, the last word, 10 -- 10 seconds.
COSTA: Real -- real quick, we still don't have all the answers on the insurrection on January 6th. So the person who's leading the Republican field, we still don't even know what he actually did on January 5th and January 6th. He's blocking documents from the committee.
I mean, this is a tenuous situation for American democracy, when the leading contender for 2024 still won't answer questions about what happened on that terrible day.
RADDATZ: Thanks to all of you.
Coming up, as vaccines roll out for young children, Pfizer touts a promising new anti-viral pill, and the Biden administration announces mandates for large workplaces. Could this be a turning point in the pandemic?
We'll talk to Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTY WALSH, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: What we want to do here is provide a safe workplace for co-workers and for people going into work.
And what this rule does, what this emergency temporary standard does is pretty simple. It asks employers to have their employees vaccinated, and if their employees don't want to get vaccinated, they get tested once a week. And when they're in work, they wear a mask.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Labor Secretary Marty Walsh defending those new vaccine and testing requirements for companies with 100 or more employees.
It comes amid pushback over two dozen states and a new legal challenge in court.
Here to discuss is the U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy.
Good morning, Dr. Murthy.
Let's start with those legal challenges. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday blocked the mandate, citing grave and statutory and constitutional issues. I know you're not a lawyer, but is the administration confident this can survive the legal challenges?
DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, Martha, the president and the administration wouldn't have put these requirements in place if they didn't think that they were appropriate and necessary, and the administration is certainly prepared to defend them.
But let's step back for a moment and just look at why these are so important. Throughout our history, we have seen that we have used the vaccine requirements to protect the population. Started back with George Washington, in fact, when he required troops to be inoculated for smallpox. In the 1800s, schools started having vaccine requirements.
When you think about the workplace in particular, it's so important that our workplaces are safe, that workers feel safe there, that customers also feel safe. And we know that, at this point in the pandemic, when we have come so far, but we still have 75,000 cases a day, and it's important we take every measure possible to make our workplaces safer.
It's good for people's health and it's good for the economy. And that's why these requirements make so much sense.
RADDATZ: And, obviously, everyone does not agree with you.
At least 27 states have filed suit against the rule, one suit claiming: "This unlawful mandate will cause injuries and hardship to working families, inflict economic disruption and staffing shortages on the states and private employers, and impose even greater strains on struggling labor markets and supply chains."
What's your response to those who say this is an overreach and will hurt the economy?
MURTHY: Yes, it's -- you know, I will tell you, what I hear time and time again from small businesses, large businesses and workers is that what's really hurting the economy is actually COVID itself.
Millions of workers have gotten sick because of COVID, and unpredictably been pulled out of work. Millions more have had to be quarantined, and think about how disruptive that's been to businesses.
And one of the reasons why you would see thousands of companies actually already moving forward with requirements even before the federal deadline is because they've realized how important and helpful it is for the health of their workers and for the health of their businesses to have everyone vaccinated.
Finally, just keep this in mind. These are not new. You know, in addition to having done this historically, in modern times, we have required vaccines for the military. We've required vaccines in hospital systems, the ones that I worked in as well.
There are times when we recognize that our decisions have a broader effect on people around us. COVID has reminded us of that. And that’s why having these types of requirements in workplaces will be not only helpful but it's a necessary step to accelerate our pathway out of the pandemic.
RADDATZ: And, Dr. Murthy, if the law survives legal challenges, will the administration be extending the mandate to smaller employers with fewer than 100 employees?
MURTHY: Well, Martha, certainly nothing is off the table at this moment. But the focus right now is on implementing the current rule that OSHA put out.
And, finally, let me just emphasize that these rules actually work. What we’ve seen in the report issued recently was that on average, businesses that put these requirements in place see a 20 percent in vaccination rates, often boosting them into the 90s. So, if we realize, as we have over the past year that vaccination is our -- one of our key pathways out of this pandemic, these requirements will do a lot to get us toward the finish line.
RADDATZ: And former FDA Administrator Scott Gottlieb told CNBC this week that the U.S. could be mostly through with the pandemic by the time these mandates are in put in place. Is he wrong?
MURTHY: Well, I’m cautiously optimistic about where we are, Martha, and let me tell you why, because at this point, we've got over 190 million people fully vaccinated in our country.
We now have a vaccine for children 5 to 11. That's 28 million more people who now have the opportunity to get vaccinated. And we have our kids back in schools.
We have two very promising clinical trials for oral medicines which have to go through a full FDA review, but give us hope that an effective oral treatment may be on the way.
So, I think we made a tremendous amount of progress. But if COVID has shown us anything is that we can't get to take our foot off the accelerator until we're at the finish line. And that means we’ve got to continue on our work to get people vaccinated in this country and take precautions until that job is done.
RADDATZ: And, Dr. Murthy, you mentioned that antiviral pill. Pfizer announced Friday they have this new pill which they say reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 89 percent in high risk individuals.
If this drug gets approved, what impact could this have?
MURTHY: Well, that was certainly very good news, Martha, and this is now the second pill that we’ve seen. The first one being Molnupiravir, which showed promising results in clinical trials. Keep in mine that these trials were that Pfizer announced recently, these were in people who were higher risk, and it reduced their risk of hospitalization and death by 89 percent.
The two critical things to keep in mind here, one if that these medicines still have to be fully evaluated by the FDA before they're made available. But the second is that there is 100 percent effective strategy to avoid hospitalization and death, and that's not getting COVID in the first place -- which is why taking appropriate precautions and getting vaccinated still must be at the heart of our strategy.
A therapeutic, a pill is not a substitute for getting vaccinated.
RADDATZ: And, Dr. Murthy, just quickly if you can. You mentioned also the vaccine for children. Big news this week.
But do you expect the same rate of breakthrough cases with children who are vaccinated?
MURTHY: Well, certainly, we've seen very good results in the clinical trials and 90 percent effective -- closer to 91 percent, in fact, among children, which is great, and a safety profile that's really strong.
We're going to continue to follow children over time, but that -- those results were very, very promising, and it's one of the reasons why I’m planning to take my 5-year-old to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
RADDATZ: Okay. Thanks so much for joining us this morning, Dr. Murthy.
MURTHY: Thank you.
RADDATZ: As those pediatric vaccines begin their rollout across the country, there are new questions about access and hesitancy.
Joining us now to discuss is Dr. Joanna Cohen, a pediatrician and pediatric emergency medicine physician here in Washington who has been treating young patients throughout the pandemic.It's great to see you, Dr. Cohen. I know you deal with kids and parents every day. You have three young kids of your own. What main concerns are you seeing from parents about this vaccine, and what do you tell them?
DR. JOANNA COHEN, PEDIATRIC EMERGENCY MEDICIAN PHYSICIAN: Well, I just want to start by saying as a pediatrician and as a parent, we're all super excited that the vaccine is now approved for young children. This is a moment in the pandemic recovery that we've all been anxiously awaiting and we're ready and excited to vaccinate the kids.
RADDATZ: And what are parents saying to you about the vaccine? It is brand-new.
COHEN: It is brand-new. And, for the most part, we've had very enthusiastic, positive responses.
Because it is so new, there is, of course, a lot of questions that come about, and parents -- parents do have some vaccine hesitancy that we're trying to address.
RADDATZ: And is it side effects? Is it long-term? Is it, what will this do? Is it brain fog? What is it?
COHEN: It's all of those things. Primarily side effects. And what we tell the families is that in clinical trials there were really no serious adverse events from the vaccine.
RADDATZ: The -- go ahead. Go ahead.
COHEN: No, the most common side effect that we've seen from the vaccine is just a little pain and soreness at the site of vaccination. There is some children who are getting fevers or body aches or headaches after the second vaccine, just like in the adult population, but it's actually more -- it's actually better tolerated in the children than the adults. And all of to those side effects resolve within one or two days.
RADDATZ: And how do you think parents should navigate school once a child is vaccinated? Do you think they should still wear masks?
COHEN: I do, for now. So, the CDC still recommends masking indoors in schools for everyone. And that's just one of many layers we have to protect the children. And I think as more and more people get vaccinated, and the disease prevalence goes down, we'll probably be able to start peeling back some of those layers of protection, but it would be premature to do that at this time.
RADDATZ: And in terms of the vaccinated still getting tested regularly at school, do you think that's a good idea?
COHEN: I do. I think similar to masking, this is another layer of protection. And periodic surveillance and contact tracing allows us to track any outbreaks that do occur in the community. So, I do think that's still important.
RADDATZ: And -- and what about quarantine? Do you recommend schools still quarantine close contacts of those who are positive?
COHEN: So, I think these decisions are going to change as this -- as the vaccine rates go up and the prevalence of disease goes down. I think all of these policies are going to evolve over time, but we need to be conscientious about doing it slowly and carefully.
RADDATZ: I love that you're answering all the questions that I've gotten from parents about what's going on, but I know you have been in the thick of it from the beginning of COVID. I know your husband is an emergency room doctor as well. What has it been like for you, particularly in the pediatric emergency ward? What have you seen? How serious is it? Give us a sense of what it has been like in pediatrics.
COHEN: Well, we do know that children are less likely to get COVID than adults, and that COVID tends to be a more mild disease in children in general. That being said, there have been almost 700 pediatric deaths related to COVID in this country, and now that this is a vaccine-preventable disease, we can get that number down to zero. And so we're really excited about this vaccination.
RADDATZ: But you have had surges during -- during COVID, and what else can be affected by COVID? What have you seen in terms -- I mean have you had mental health issues with children? What more have you seen?
COHEN: So there is a surge in the mental health crisis in children right now and we're seeing a lot of that in the emergency department because it's very difficult to access mental health services in this country. And so, unfortunately one of the secondary effects of this pandemic has been the negative impacts on the mental health of children due to lockdowns and school closures and all the things that we went through in the past year.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks so much for joining us this morning and answering all those questions about our kids. Thanks again.
COHEN: Thanks. Thank you, Martha.
RADDATZ: Coming up, Nate Silver with a brand-new take on the 2024 GOP presidential hopefuls.
And, later, as the U.N. Climate Summit continues in Glasgow, we'll discuss some creative and practical solutions to the climate crisis.
RADDATZ: FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver and our own Ginger Zee are up next. We'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos, sponsored by FedEx.
RON DESANTIS, (R) GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: Over the last year and a half in Florida, we said very clearly, we don't lock people down; we lift people up.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: If you don't win, you can't govern. And winning campaigns are always the campaigns that look forward, and not backwards.
NIKKI HALEY, (R) FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: We have a lot more work to do. We've got the midterm elections next year, where the stakes couldn't be higher.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: We're going to win back this country in 2024!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Some of the potential contenders for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination gathered yesterday in Las Vegas.
Polls show Donald Trump is still favored to win if he runs, but, after Tuesday night's election results in Virginia, we wondered if the outlook shifted for Republican voters.
Here's FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver.
NATE SILVER, ABC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm out here in Las Vegas, where a lot of potential Republican alternatives to Donald Trump are gathering.
And it's worth asking whether the party might roll the dice on some other candidate. Tuesday, for example, showed Republicans a path where they can achieve success without Trump. True, Trump endorsed Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin after he won the GOP nomination in May. But Youngkin kept Trump at an arm's-length distance. Trump didn't hold a rally on Youngkin's behalf in Virginia, for example.
More importantly, voters made a distinction between Youngkin and Trump. In the Virginia exit poll, just 40 percent of voters viewed Trump favorably, against 55 percent unfavorably, but 50 percent of voters viewed Youngkin favorably, against 46 percent unfavorably, which was just enough for him to win.
So, Youngkin won in a diverse state with one of the highest percentages of college-educated voters in the country, a sort of place that's been increasingly off-limits to the GOP under Trump.
Which other Republicans here this weekend can make that kind of electability claim? Maybe Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. It's also a diverse coastal state and one that's traditionally been very important in the Electoral College. The same might go for Senator Rick Scott of Florida.
For other Republicans, it's tougher. Ted Cruz and Nikki Haley come from red states, for instance, as much as Democrats might dream of turning Texas blue.
But Trump's electability case isn't so strong either after losing the 2020 election. Meanwhile, Youngkin just won in a state where the entire government had been controlled by Democrats.
So, while Tuesday was an outstanding night for Republicans, I don't know that it was a particularly good win for Trump, as it could lead to a more competitive primary. I still think Trump is the front-runner, but I might put a few chips down on DeSantis and even Youngkin as well.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Nate.
Coming up: As the COP 26 climate summit enters its second week, our Ginger Zee joins us to discuss real-life solutions to some of the globe's greatest climate challenges.
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUBTITLE: Who was the first Black mayor of New York City? David Dinkins.
DAVID DINKINS, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: This year, voters rejected the calls to fear and spoke with voices of hope. November 7, 1989 is a date that will live in history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Activists protesting outside the COP26 Global Climate Summit in Glasgow this weekend. All month long, ABC has been providing unprecedented climate change coverage with our "Climate Crisis: Saving Tomorrow" series, spanning all seven continents.
And our chief meteorologist and climate unit managing editor, Ginger Zee, has been on the road investigating some solutions to some of the biggest challenges.
Ginger joins us now.
Ginger, it's so great to see you this morning. We have seen you anywhere from the Indian Ocean to the Maldives.
But I want to start with that trillion dollar infrastructure bill, and the climate change money that was put into that, the biggest ever investment for this nation. Tell us about this bill and what do you think it will mean?
GINGER ZEE, ABC NEWS CLIMATE UNIT MANAGING EDITOR: Well, Martha, thank you for having me, and that bill is remarkable. I mean, to see a bill with climate change and getting bipartisan support is new normal.
Speaking of the new normal, that's what it is meant to help us with, the human-induced climate change that makes our regular disasters more extreme. Science has shown us that, whether it's drought, flood. You've got tornadoes. There many connections. And so this is meant to help prevent damages from that.
So FEMA has a program where they buy back or elevate homes that flood regularly. They're going to get three times the money they did last year for that program. Something like the Army Corps of Engineers going to get four times the budget of last year to help us engineer ourselves out of this.
While all of this is wonderful, I do there's an element of this that we have to remember. It's kind of like somebody who has had a heart attack or two. We know they're prone to heart attacks, so we buy a defibrillator.
Yes, that’s helpful in that moment after, but we're not going to the root of the cause. We're not going to the diet and exercise. In this case, we're not going to the emissions. That's what this bill doesn't do.
So, while it is wonderful, there's something still missing.
RADDATZ: You know, Ginger, I want to talk about some metrics here. I saw you on top of a wind turbine in Pennsylvania. Right now, wind energy makes up only 8 percent of the U.S.'s total electricity generation.
Is there a metric that shows if we do more, say, 20 percent, this is what a difference will be involving warming?
ZEE: The goal is 1.5 degrees Celsius. That was the goal back in Paris. It is going to be very difficult to get there, but to do so, the U.S. has to cut our emissions by half. Renewables has to be a giant part of that, and it has to be more than 20 percent.
Just to give you some metrics, that 30 gigawatt offshore wind plan from Granholm and the Biden administration, that's a wonderful goal because it powers 10 million homes. It's the equivalent of taking nearly 17 million cars off the road. But we have 270 million cars on the road. So it is a dent, but we've got to make a bigger dent.
RADDATZ: And I think people look at wind energy and think, well, how much would that cost me on my energy bills if we all did that?
ZEE: Right, how much does it cost? And they want to know, do I save? So wind alone is going to take a while because, right now, most of what you pay for, when I look at these power lines around me now, the infrastructure, the maintenance, the power generation getting to you, not only just the source. And so when that source changes and onshore wind right now is cheaper than coal and nuclear, the same as natural gas, we're not going to see the benefits. A lot of these companies will go into debt even investing in that first. So I don't think you see it right away. But the payback comes in your health because the pollution is cut significantly, and in the warming of our planet.
RADDATZ: And, you know, Ginger, I was just in Hawaii looking at climate change. You were in the Maldives, as we said. And we saw how these rising sea levels are ripping up the shores, ripping up homes. You saw all of that. Sandbags and sea bags are a -- and sea walls are a temporary fix, but what do you do permanently?
ZEE: Oh, this is a tough one because sea -- I think sea level rise seems very abstract to people. You talk about, oh, a half an inch of sea level rise every year. You go, well, that's not that much, until you start the regular tides, until you start coral bleaching and you start to see the erosion in a place like the Maldives, where they will see, by 2050, 80 percent of their island is uninhabitable because of sea water intrusion into their groundwater and because their islands are just getting eaten away.
So, yes, this is a big deal.
And let's just start with what the best-case scenario is with sea level rise. By 2100, best case is about a foot. A foot's a big deal, especially when you talk about regular tides. That can make some big changes. However, in a worst-case scenario, Martha, we're talking about more than 8 feet of sea level rise.
When I've been in a hurricane, if you were to add even 1 foot to some of these 10 to 15-foot storm surges, that's a big deal. Add 8, we're talking about catastrophe so far inland and so big at the coast. It's really hard for me to even fathom.
RADDATZ: Ginger, we have about 15 seconds. Tell me what we can do individually.
ZEE: I think a lot of people realize, you know, solar, for example, is one way, but it sounds really hard and expensive. A community solar might be one of those answers. A football field of solar panels can power about 40 homes. So, we start that way.
But something you can do today, plastic. There is a new report out by the Bennington College (ph) and Beyond Plastics that says the plastic industry in the United States, as far as emissions goes, is about to outpace coal by 2030. So, getting rid of single-use plastic could be the easiest thing that you could do today.
RADDATZ: Thanks so much for joining us this morning, Ginger.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.
And a programming note. Be sure to tune in next weekend for a special edition of "This Week" as we mark our show's 40th anniversary featuring some special guests and favorite moments.
Until then, have a great day.