'This Week' Transcript 11-29-20: Dr. Anthony Fauci and Adm. William McRaven

This is a rush transcript for "This Week," airing Sunday, November 29.

ByABC News
November 29, 2020, 9:50 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, November 29, 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.(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTHA RADDATZ, CO-HOST (voice-over): Collision course. Americans travel in record numbers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes to the pandemic, this is one of the busiest day at airports.

RADDATZ: Ignoring the experts while COVID cases surge. One million new cases in less than a week.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: What we don't want to see is yet another surge superimposed upon the surge.

RADDATZ: Dr. Anthony Fauci joins us live this morning as we brace for the months ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We haven't stopped. We're all very, very tired.

RADDATZ: And with COVID still raging, 778,000 workers filing new unemployment claims. Heart-breaking lines for food.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to see.

RADDATZ: Faced with steep challenges, the president-elect rallying the nation.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT-ELECT: This is the moment where we need to steel our spines and recommit ourselves to the fight.

RADDATZ: Building out his cabinet, the transition now fully under way.

BIDEN: It's a team that reflects the fact that America is back.

RADDATZ: Plus, Iran's top nuclear scientist assassinated in a brazen attack. Will they retaliate? Retired Navy SEAL Bill McRaven, who oversaw the raid that took out Osama bin Laden, tells us what impact that could have on Biden's foreign policy agenda.

All that, plus the "Powerhouse Roundtable.”


ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

RADDATZ: Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK. The start to this holiday season so different for so many. Countless families spending Thanksgiving apart, but they are the lucky ones. At dinner tables across the country, more than 260,000 empty seats, while more than 90,000 Americans spent Thanksgiving in the hospital battling the virus. More than 4 million new cases this November, twice what it was in October. And the month is not over.

Despite dire warnings advising against Thanksgiving gatherings, we also saw record-breaking travel. And today we expect to break another record as millions of Americans are making their way home. This is just a snapshot of some of the nation's busiest airports this morning.

But it is not just those lines at the airport that are causing fear. It is the images of these shocking lines across the country. Americans lined up for food. With a vaccine not widely available until next year, businesses remain shuttered and more than 20 million people are claiming unemployment benefits.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is standing by. But first, we wanted to take a closer look at this critical moment and those struggling in the long shadow of the pandemic.


BIDEN: We still have months of this battle ahead of us.

RADDATZ (voice-over): President-elect Joe Biden warning that the fight against COVID is far from over.

BIDEN: We have to try to slow the growth of this virus. We owe it to the doctors and nurses and other front-line workers.

ERIN BEAUMONT, EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR: It's about 2:30 in the morning. I just got home from work.

RADDATZ: Last March when this all began, we talked to emergency room doctor Erin Beaumont (ph).

BEAUMONT: All of the sudden we just got overwhelmed, ambulance after ambulance with hypoxied (ph) patients, people in respiratory distress.

RADDATZ: Dr. Beaumont, who works in the Boston area, has grown tragically used to the toll of this pandemic, but is bracing for a post-holiday crush of patients.

BEAUMONT: One of the constants that we've had throughout this pandemic, since the beginning, is the component of stress and fear that the health care workers and the front-line providers are experiencing every single day. We're tired of this. We're exhausted.

RADDATZ: But the pandemic strains extend far beyond the halls of hospitals. Months of economic hardship marking the start of the holiday season. That need evident across the country. Cars backed up for miles. People standing in line for hours, even in the rain, just to get food.

DARNELL PEPLAS: You know, I'm a single parent. I'm just trying to provide for my family right now. I'm not working.

RADDATZ: Hunger at this country at a new high. One out of every eight Americans say they sometimes don't have enough food to eat. For households with children it's one in six.

CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT, CEO, FEEDING AMERICA: I've never witnessed the system being more strained than it is right now.

RADDATZ: Edna Pagnan (ph) turned to the Arlington Food Assistance Center after health concerns forced her to leave her job as a grocery store cashier.

EDNA PANGAN: We got the food every once a week. Yes. And it's a big help for us. We already got the turkey.

RADDATZ (on camera): So you'll have a Thanksgiving?


RADDATZ: Because of this place?

PANGAN: Yes, because of this place.

RADDATZ (voice-over): Just miles from my own home in Virginia, long lines here where they've seen a 45 percent increase in the families coming for food. Executive director charlie mang worries it could get worse.

CHARLIE MANG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CEO OF ARLINGTON FOOD ASSISTANCE CENTER: It can get very difficult at times watching these lines getting longer and longer.

RADDATZ: What do you expect in the coming months?

MANG: When county support, federal support drops off, our families will come to us in even greater numbers. And that's my biggest fear. And, you know, we have to serve all of those people. We are committed to serving everybody who comes to our doors.

RADDATZ: It's just one of the many monumental hurdles facing the president-elect, as he inherits the responsibility of a nation reeling from the pandemic.

BIDEN: Hang on. Don't let yourself surrender to the fatigue, which I understand. It is real fatigue. I know we can and we will beat this virus.

RADDATZ: And joining me now live is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Fauci, welcome back to "This Week."

Today could be the busiest travel day in the country since the start of the pandemic, even though you and other public health leaders have made appeal after appeal for people to stay put and distance as much as possible.

When you watch these scenes, what do you think? And what else can you possibly say to them?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: Well, I mean, the travel that has been done has been done.

Right now, as people go back, we want to urge them, if they've been in situations outside of the family setting, in which they really don't know the level of exposure, to be really careful when you either return from the place that you went or other people come back into your house, that you've really got to understand the importance of trying to prevent further spread and further surge.

That may be when you go back to where you've came from, if it's possible, to quarantine yourself for a period of time, or even get tested to make sure that you're not bringing infection back to another place, be it another home, or another family.

Having said that, we have to be careful now because there almost certainly is going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel. We understand the importance of families getting together, and it's just something that we have to deal with, that we likely will have an increase in cases as we get into the colder weeks of the winter and as we approach the Christmas season.

Please don't forget the standard public health measures that we talk about. The reason I say that, Martha, and almost plead with people, is that we do know that it does work. Countries that have mitigated have turned around the surge. States that have mitigated have had a turnaround of the inflection of the curve. So it does work.

And as we've just heard, help is on the way. Vaccines are really right on the horizon. We'll be having vaccines available for the higher-priority people towards the middle and end of December and as we get into January and February.

So everyone is totally empathetic about the fatigue that everyone is feeling. But if we can hang in there -- hang in there a bit longer and do the fundamental things, wearing of masks uniformly, avoiding crowds in congregate settings, keeping physical distance, washing your hands -- they seem simple in the enormity of the problem that we're facing, but they do make a difference.


RADDATZ: Dr. Fauci...

FAUCI: ... pleaded before the beginning -- yeah?

RADDATZ: Dr. Fauci, you have said that again and again. And again, we saw all those people traveling. So you know what's coming. And with Christmas just around the corner, do you think we'll be under the same restrictions that you recommended on Thanksgiving, going into Christmas?

FAUCI: You know, Martha, I can't see how we're not going to have the same thing. Because, when you have the kind of inflection that we have, it doesn't all of a sudden turn around like that.

So clearly, in the next few weeks, we're going to have the same sort of thing, and perhaps even two or three weeks down the line, Martha, we may see a surge upon a surge.

You know, we don't want to frighten people, but that's just the reality. We said that these things would happen as we got into the cold weather and as we began traveling. And they've happened. It's going to happen again.

So I cannot see all of a sudden a relaxation of the kinds of recommendations or restrictions. Because we're getting into colder weather and an -- and an even larger holiday season, as people travel to come back and forth for Christmas.

So I don't see a relaxation of the kind of recommendations and restrictions that we've made.

RADDATZ: And, Dr. Fauci, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down New York's COVID restrictions on religious gatherings in the state. How concerned are you about legal challenges to pandemic restrictions going forward?

FAUCI: Well, I mean, they happen, Martha. There's nothing I can do about it. I just keep saying that when people ask me about opinions of specific things, rather than make a comment on specific things, I can just say, it doesn't matter who you are, where you are, when you have congregate settings particularly indoors when people are not wearing masks, that is a considerable risk for acquisition and spread of infection. No matter what the circumstance is, that is a risk.

RADDATZ: And you said there should be more regular testing available for asymptomatic people. How soon do you think before Americans could have inexpensive home tests? And why haven't they so far?

FAUCI: Well, I hope it's sooner rather than later, Martha. I mean, obviously, we've done better in testing than we did early on in the beginning. But you're talking about different kinds and different motivations and different objectives of testing. You're trying to find out if a person is infected either for contact tracing or what have you, then you want a highly sensitive test that might take a day or two to get a result back.

But when you're trying to find out what the extent of the community spread is, that is driven very clearly, at least in part, by asymptomatic spread. So, we need to know the extent of the asymptomatic. The only way you know that is what you just asked for. And I would like to have seen it already. And I hope that we get it soon.

Rapid, sensitive specific home testing, even one you might not need a prescription for so that people can have within their own power to know whether or not, it isn’t as highly sensitive as the other, but it is very helpful particularly if you do it over and over again. I hope we get that soon.

RADDATZ: And, Dr. Fauci, New York City public schools shut down again earlier this month. I know your default position is that you’d like to see the schools open. But how do you make that happen and how would you advise the incoming Biden administration on getting a sort of unified response?

FAUCI: Yeah.

Well, you know, Martha, that's a good question. We get asked it all the time. You know, we say it not being facetiously as a sound bite or anything, but, you know, close the bars and keep the schools open is what we really say.

Obviously, you don't have one size fits all. But as I said in the past and as you accurately quoted me, the default position should be to try as best as possible within reason to keep the children in school, or to get them back to school.

The best way to ensure the safety of the children in school is to get the community level of spread low. So, if you mitigate the things that you know are causing spread in a very, very profound way, in a robust way, if you bring that down, you will then indirectly and ultimately protect the children in the school because the community level is determined how things go across the board.

So, my feeling would be the same thing. If you look at the data, the spread among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected. So, let's try to get the kids back, but let's try to mitigate the things that maintain and just push the kind of community spread that we're trying to avoid.

And those are the things that you know well -- the bars, the restaurants where you have capacity seating indoors without masks, those are the things that drive the community spread, not the schools.

RADDATZ: And, Dr. Fauci, you talked about the vaccine and the availability of the vaccine. The government can't force everyone to take the vaccine.

So, what about schools, companies, employers, can they mandate a vaccine like in other vaccines?

FAUCI: You know, any individual group can mandate vaccines in certain ways, Martha. It's not I believe going to come centrally. I don’t want to get ahead of the game there, but I doubt that that would happen.

For example, right now, myself -- I mean, I’m at the NIH clinical center. I’m a physician. I see patients. I have to get the influenza vaccine or I’m not going to be able to see patients.

So, individual units, be they’re hospitals or other organizations, can do that. It's within their right to say, if you want to work with us, you’re going to have to get a vaccine. But that’s not going to be, I believe, a centrally mandated process.

RADDATZ: And, Dr. Fauci, there are concerns about the anti-vaccination movement. An infectious disease specialist in Boston telling "The Boston Globe," the same energy that was placed into development and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine should have been placed in messaging and community engagement.

Do you agree with there?

FAUCI: Oh, absolutely. We have to engage the community, Martha, because we do have a degree of anti-vax to begin with. But then there's skepticism about this vaccine. So we've got to be able to get out there, get community people who the community trusts to show two things, the process of the development of this vaccine has been one that has been scientifically sound, safety has not been compromised, scientific integrity has not been compromised. And the process of determining whether it works, whether it's safe and effective has been independent by independent bodies and transparent. We've got to get the community, the broad community of the United States to see that and appreciate that.

RADDATZ: And -- and how can be -- we be sure there won't be prolonged side effects from this vaccine?

FAUCI: Well, you know, Martha, the one thing you've got to admit, that in any intervention there might be side effects. The history of vaccinology that when know for decades and decades is that when you talk about prolonged side effects, that's very rare. And the side effects that occur, that are beyond the immediate pain in the arm and the fever and things like that, generally occur when you look at like 95 percent of the time between maybe 30 and 45 days, which is the exact reason why the FDA said that they would not want to issue an EUA or approve an EUA, an Emergency Use Authorization, until 60 days after half of the people in a trial have gone from their last dose. So already the FDA has baked into the process a safety mechanism to make sure that you have historically overwhelming chance that you're not going to have a very late effect.

Having said that, also, you don't just forget about it once the trial is over. You have one or two years of the trial follow-up in addition to post trial follow-up. So that's something that is very, very high priority is the immediate, intermediate and long-term safety of these vaccines. It's not something that's being disregarded.

RADDATZ: OK, thanks so much for joining us this morning, Dr. Fauci. It's always great to see you.

Up next, the latest on President-elect Joe Biden's transition and possible cabinet picks.

Plus, after the assassination of Iran's top nuclear scientist, Four Star Admiral Bill McRaven joins me to discuss the major, global challenges awaiting the incoming administration.

We'll be right back.



BIDEN: I'm pleased to announce nominations and staff for critical foreign policy and national security positions in my administration.

It's a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to leave the world, not retreat from it. They will also re-imagine American foreign policy and national security for the next generation. And they'll tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know.


RADDATZ: Joe Biden announcing his national security team last week as the presidential transition speeds up.

This week Biden is expected to begin receiving the classified presidential daily briefing and announce his economic team, which will face the difficult task of turning around an economy battered by the coronavirus.

Our White House correspondent Rachel Scott has been tracking all of that and joins us now.

And, Rachel, this week will be a big one in the transition?

RACHEL SCOTT, ABC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Martha, Joe Biden's team told reporters to buckle up and prepare for a very busy December.

It took three weeks, but his team is now in contact with every single federal agency and Operation Warp Speed on plans to distribute a coronavirus vaccine.

And the president-elect is wasting no time. He is now preparing to roll out members of his economic team. I'm told that that announcement could come as early as Tuesday. And sources tell us he plans to tap Janet Yellen to serve as secretary of Treasury.

If confirmed, she would be the first woman to hold that job, and she would face a monumental task of not only trying to rebuild the nation's economy but also likely playing a pivotal role in those stalled coronavirus negotiations there on Capitol Hill.

Unemployment benefits, protections on student loan payments and rent payments are set to expire at the end of the year. Congress has left Washington without reaching a deal. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are hanging in limbo.

RADDATZ: They sure are, Rachel. And as we said, one of the first things the president-elect did was pick his national security team -- all familiar names from the Obama administration. But Biden clearly making national security a priority.

SCOTT: He is. And, Martha, I was in the room for that event. And everything about it, the tone, the message, the roll-out, all of it amounted to a very sharp rebuke of President Trump.

Tony Blinken, who was up for secretary of state, drew a sharp contrast to President Trump's America First policy, saying that he's ready to rebuild our relationships with our allies.

And then you have Avril Haines, who could be the first woman to lead the intelligence community. She could serve in a role that was politicized under President Trump. And in her remarks, she made it very clear that she will be speaking truth to power.

And of course, just the sheer make-up of this administration will look dramatically different from President Trump's administration. Joe Biden has promised to have a diverse Cabinet that reflects the diversity of America, Martha.

RADDATZ: And so far he's doing that. Thanks so much, Rachel.

And now, let’s take a closer look at the national security challenges awaiting the Biden administration with Admiral Bill McRaven, the retired Navy SEAL who headed U.S. Special Operations Command and planned the raid that killed Osama bin Baden. We've all seen the famous photo from that day in the Situation Room. President Obama, Vice President Biden, Hillary Clinton, Tony Blinken, they were all watching in real time as Navy SEALs descended on bin Laden's compound.

McRaven served in the military under six presidents, but has been outspoken against President Trump's leadership. Last month writing that despite being a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, small government, strong defense, and a national-anthem-standing conservative, he was voting for Joe Biden. He has since briefed the president-elect on national security issues.

Admiral McRaven joins me now.

It's great to see you, Admiral.

I want to get to those cabinet nominees in a moment, but I want to start with the news out of Iran. Iran's top nuclear scientist was assassinated in a brazen ambush on Friday and many are pointing the finger at Israel. Iran is vowing revenge. But given that President Trump seems to be itching for an excuse to strike Iran, do you think Iran might just let this pass?

ADM. WILLIAM MCRAVEN, U.S. NAVY (RET), FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND: Well, of course, you know, we've been dealing with the Iranians in the region for, you know, 40 plus years in terms of the tension.

The biggest issue going forward, of course, is that Iran, you know, either suspects or knows that Israel was responsible for this attack. And then, of course, kind of, by association, they're going to assume that we either collaborated with it or at a minimum were witting of -- of the Israeli's actions.

So now the biggest issue is, who is going to misstep? The Iranians are going to be in a position where they have to retaliate. I don't see any way around it. They -- they're going to have to save face. And so now the issue becomes, what does that retaliation look like? Does that then begin to escalate the -- the problems in the region. And that's going to be god for anybody. The Iranians don't want to war with us. We don't want to go to war with Iran. So everybody needs to do the best they can to kind of lower the temperature and -- and try not to get this into an escalation mode.

RADDATZ: And President-elect Biden says he wants to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump pulled out of, of course. How does that complicate that effort? And can he really just get back into the deal without changes?

MCRAVEN: Well, I don't think he can get into the deal without some changes. And -- and there's been a lot of controversy and a lot of folks who don't like the JCPOA. And I understand that. But the fact of the matter is, the JCPOA was probably going to give us, you know, 10 to 12 to 15 years before the Iranians could possibly have enriched enough uranium to -- to build a bomb.

Now, of course, by -- by attacking their nuclear scientist, by really escalating this effort, the Iranians, I think, are going to be more compelled to try to get a bomb quicker. This is going to complicate President Biden's efforts, diplomatic efforts.

Now, again, from the Iranian standpoint, after President Trump pulled out of the JCPOA, I think they are going to be very, very reluctant to get into any agreements with the United States at this point. So a President Biden will -- will have a difficult challenge on his hand.

RADDATZ: And you wrote in 2018 that President Trump has already humiliated us on the world stage. Donald Trump has 52 days left as president. What are you most concerned that he might do when it comes to national security? What's your nightmare scenario here?

MCRAVEN: Well, I don't know that there's a nightmare scenario. I'm concerned about a number of things. Obviously he has taken out all the leadership in the Department of Defense, from the secretary of defense, the top four members of the Department of Defense have -- have been fired. He's put in a new team. Candidly the new team, you know, maybe they're -- they're good folks, but they are inexperienced. And what they're trying to do, of course, is to push forward President Trump's agenda, particularly when it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan and drawing down the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And what I've said before is, look, we can have reasonable policy discussions on how many people we ought to have in Iraq and Afghanistan. But what we don't want to do is we don't want to rush to failure. We don't want to pull everybody out of Afghanistan and risk putting the troops, you know, in greater -- in greater harm's way.

So we've got to be thoughtful, we've got to be methodical about how we draw down the number of troops in Afghanistan. But what it appears is that this new administration in the Department of Defense is really rushing to get a lot of Trump's agenda resolved before a President Biden comes in.

RADDATZ: And -- and we have also seen President Trump refuse to concede and falsely claiming every day that he won the election, talking about conspiracies.

What impact do you think that has internationally? How do you think the rest of the world views what is happening?

MCRAVEN: Well, the rest of the world, of course, is just looking for a Biden administration to come in. The concerns of the international community has had for quite some time is that President Trump is not a coalition builder. He doesn’t believe in alliances.

And, frankly, if we are going to move forward, if this new national security team is going to move forward, they are going to need strong alliances. They are going to need a strong NATO. They are going to need strong partnerships with the ASEAN nations, for the African Union.

And President Trump has not been inclined to do that.

Then you take a look at all of the treaties and the agreements we have pulled out of, the organizations like the World Health Organization. We pulled back on the Trans Pacific Partnership, on the Paris Climate Accord, on the Open Skies, and a host of others.

The problem is if we don’t abide by our own treaties, if we don’t recognize and support our own treaties, then who in the international community is going to want to partner with us in the future?

So, President Trump has been playing a short game, I would offer. I hope President Biden will come in, strengthen these alliances, strengthen these coalitions, get back in to some of these organizations, as imperfect as they might be, and begin to play the long game.

RADDATZ: And, Admiral, back to the cabinet nominees. You saw the national security cabinet nominees, you know most of them. But it really does seem like back to the future.

What difference do you think they’ll make now that they’re with Biden instead of Obama? I think you touched on a few things there.

MCRAVEN: Yeah, you know, I’ve heard this refrain a lot here since the nominees were announced. And I don’t agree with that.

The fact of the matter is these are different times. I mean, the challenges out there maybe the same in terms of a rising China, an aggressive Russia, the potential for North Korea to have nuclear-tipped ICBMs. We’ve got a pandemic out there. We’ve got climate change.

But this new group of national security professionals coming in are incredibly experienced, incredibly talented and they know each other. And that’s an important factor when it comes to working together. But they are going to approach these issues differently than certainly the Trump administration did, and I would offer to some degree differently than the Obama administration did.

They are certainly going to be coalition builders. They are going to, you know, strengthen our alliances, rebuild those alliances.

I love the fact that Avril Haines came out very quickly, and as the nominee for the director of national intelligence, she made it very clear that she is going to tell a President Biden not what he wants to hear but what he needs to hear.

And, of course, we also know that each one of these nominees has come in and said, look, we are not going to politicize our organizations, our agencies. And that’s going to be incredibly important for a President Biden, for the nation.

RADDATZ: It will be a very interesting time and we want to thank you, Admiral McRaven, for joining us today.

MCRAVEN: My pleasure.

RADDATZ: We’ll be right back with a deep dive from Nate Silver on the 2020 vote.

Plus, our powerhouse roundtable.

Stay with us.


ON SCREEN TEXT: Which president-elect selected Patricia Roberts Harris, the first black woman to serve as a U.S. cabinet secretary?

Jimmy Carter.


JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (December 21, 1976): The next secretary of -- for Housing and Urban Development, Department of HUD, is Patricia Roberts Harris.

PATRICIA ROBERTS HARRIS (December 21, 1976): I'm honored and -- and pleased to have been asked to be a part of the Carter administration.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CO-ANCHOR: The roundtable is standing by ready to go.

We'll be right back.



PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP: I think we're going to do very well with suburban women...


... and I think it's going to be one of the surprises.

They keep saying, "We don't know. We think he's not doing well with suburban women." I think I'm doing great with suburban women.

Well, they were talking about "Suburban women don't like Donald Trump." I said, I think they do.

Suburban women, please love me. Please love me.



RADDATZ: President Trump, just before the election, worried about his prospects among suburban voters, after they swung dramatically for Democrats in 2018.

With Joe Biden narrowly flipping several battleground states to win this month's election, how critical were suburban voters to his victory?

We asked Nate Silver to give us his take on Biden's winning coalition.


NATE SILVER, FOUNDER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT AND ABC SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Although his win might not quite have been the landslide that Joe Biden was hoping for, one pattern the polls predicted did come true. He did really well in the suburbs.

In fact, let's look at some actual voting data, where the trends are really striking in some key states.

Let's start with Pennsylvania. Believe it or not, Biden did a tiny bit worse than Hillary Clinton in the city of Philadelphia. He netted about 471,000 votes from it, as compared to 475,000 for her.

But in the four suburban counties in the Philly metro area, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery, Biden improved on Clinton's performance by a combined 105,000 votes. That's enough to account for his entire margin over Trump in the Keystone State.

How about Wisconsin? Similar pattern. Biden gained only about 3,000 votes relative to Clinton in the city of Milwaukee. Now, the suburban parts of Milwaukee such as crucial Waukesha County are traditionally very red, but they were a bit less red this year than before. Biden lost them by only 60,000 votes, as compared to 85,000 for Clinton.

And that 25,000 vote improvement is enough to account for his roughly 20,000 vote overall margin of victory in Wisconsin.

I don't even need to tell you about Georgia. You can just look at the map to see how much the entire Atlanta metro area has turned blue. But in the five core counties in the Atlanta metro, Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb and Clayton, Biden won by more than 700,000 votes, as compared to 470,000 for Hillary.

Now, some of that was college-educated white voters flocking to Biden. But it's important to keep in mind that "suburban" and "white" are not synonyms. In fact, four of those five Atlanta counties I mentioned are majority minority.

Anyway, overall, this is a really easy buy for me. Those suburban votes were key to putting Joe Biden over the top in the electoral college.


RADDATZ: And our thanks to Nate. The roundtable's next. We're back in 60 seconds.



QUESTION: If the electoral college does elect President-elect Joe Biden, are you not going to leave this building?

TRUMP: Just so you -- certainly, I will. Certainly, I will. And you know that. But I think that there will be a lot of things happening between now and the 20th of January -- a lot of things.


RADDATZ: President Trump speaking to reporters Thanksgiving Day, the first time he's answered questions from the press since losing his re-election bid.

We're going to discuss all that and more with the roundtable this morning, ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd; Washington Post opinion columnist Michele Norris; Pulitzer Prize winning author Evan Osnos of the New Yorker, also the author of a new biography on Joe Biden, "Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now"; and our chief business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.

Good morning to you all.

And, Rebecca, I want to start with you. Biden is expected to announce his economic team this week, Janet Yellen for Treasury. Why do you think she was chosen?

There were several names that were floated. And what do you think it means?

JARVIS: Well, Martha, she’s brilliant. She's experienced and has very broad support. The progressives like her but so do Wall Street and corporate America. And she has bipartisan support. She also has a huge task in front of her.

And while President-elect Biden has been calling for more stimulus and additional stimulus plan, that's something she has also been calling for because of the fact that this recovery that we're in the midst of is still on extremely fragile footing. You have millions of Americans who are still out of work. Millions who have slipped into poverty in the last handful of months.

And small businesses, while you might be looking at the stock market thinking that things have fully recovered, you have the Dow now up at 30,000. That's the biggest 30 companies in this country. Smaller businesses, Martha, they are still in pain. And I hear from them on a daily basis. It is existential at this point as they enter into these winter months. They're worried about their communities. They're worried about keeping their businesses afloat. And they're worried about their customers and their employees.

RADDATZ: It is going to be a difficult time indeed.

Michelle, Biden says he is focused on bringing diversity to his cabinet. But most of these picks do have something in common, they served in the Obama administration. It seems like the new team is the same as the old team. Admiral McRaven disagrees with that. But do you see any room for fresh thinking?

NORRIS: I think they will see fresh thinking because these are different times. As Admiral McRaven noted, these are all people who know each other and that is certainly a benefit. It's interesting to look at not just who he is choosing for the cabinet, but how he will compose the cabinet. It's quite possible that given the year of tumult that we've faced and all the uncertainties that he might be expanding the cabinet with new faces, but also with new positions in the cabinet.

It would not be at all surprising if he used the envoy position, like we see with John Kerry, in other situations, likely a pandemic czar, but possibly even someone who would focus on technology and innovation, focus on education, focus on economic problems going forward beyond the traditional rubric of Commerce and the Small Business Administration.

RADDATZ: And, Evan, you wrote the book on Joe Biden, quite literally. In terms of the choices he has made so far, in national security especially, he is clearly choosing people in large part who he knows well.

OSNOS: Yes. These are people who he trusts. But most of all he trusts their experience. They have been through hard problems. Some of them have been involved with decisions they regret. The involvement in Iraq, of course, the war in 2003, or for the decision to go into Libya. But they have some scar tissue and that's because they know these jobs. They know how to go into an office on day one and make a difference.

And I think there's another key piece to this which is, we talk about the extraordinary diversity that we are seeing in some of these choices, diversity among -- of race and also of background. But if you take somebody like Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who is coming in as U.S. ambassador to the U.N., she's also an extraordinary example of full spectrum of American income experience, background. She is the first person in her family not only to graduate from college but also from high school. And she has served at the highest ranks of the State Department.

So there is a real effort to make this government, as Joe Biden says, look like America.

RADDATZ: Were you surprised at all that he brought John Kerry into the team?

OSNOS: No. I thought that is a measure of both Kerry's respect for Joe Biden and also Joe Biden's belief that climate change is an essential issue, not just about climate in dealing with this existential risk to the United States, but also about national security. It's about our standing in the world, our standing in the global community. John Kerry knows how to go around the world and get people to talk to him and take him seriously. And that puts climate at the very top of the president-elect's agenda.

RADDATZ: And, Matt, most of the picks appear headed for smooth Senate confirmation. But how difficult is it going to be for Biden with the remaining -- the remainder of the team, with people who appease the progressive way of thinking in the Democratic Party, but getting them through the Senate?

DOWD: Well, you know, Martha, for us in the Christian faith today is the first Sunday of Advent. And it is symbolized by hope. And so my hope is that what you just said is true, is that the Senate, regardless of its 50/50, or the Republicans have a certain advantage, they'll look at the competency and qualifications of Biden's cabinet.

What I think will happen is that the Republicans will approve most of them, if not all of them, with a few exceptions. And I think they're going to do a few exceptions. They'll pick out one or two people in order to show the base of the Republican Party that they can stand up to the new president after January 20th. That they'll pick somebody out and try to defeat one or two. But the majority of these I think will go through.

There are -- nobody so far is outlandish. I think one thing that I think Joe Biden, if I were him, would do is try to put somebody in a cabinet-level position, whether it's a czar over democracy and the institution of democracy in this country, what we've seen over the course of the last few years and especially the last month is an attack on democratic institutions of our country.

It's a lot like water pipes in our country, Martha, where you can't just ignore them for 80 or 90 years, and think they're all fine. We have to do repair on the institutions and the infrastructure of democracy. I think it's really important.

I think it’s really, really important for Joe Biden to recognize that 74 million people voted against him and there's questions in a lot of people's minds about the institutions of democracy.

RADDATZ: And on that note, Michelle, Biden is set to receive the presidential daily briefing first thing tomorrow. Even if Donald Trump publicly fights on, it seems he is signaling he knows this is over.

NORRIS: He's signaling that, but you never know from one day to the next whether that message is going to hold. I mean, he's now saying if the Electoral College approves Joe Biden, that he will leave.

But will he ever really leave?

I mean, I think it's safe to assume he'll represent thunder at the fringe for years to come, that he will be an important person in the party, a greatly influential person in the party. But as Joe Biden moves into this position, just reaching back to something Matt said about comity, you know, being able to work with the other side, in Joe Biden's Thanksgiving address, you saw his message of healing. You saw him talk about the need to come together and unite to move forward.

It might be a lot harder for Republicans to take that hard-line, closed arm stance when that is juxtaposed someone who is actually speaking with compassion and empathy and trying very hard to pull the country together so we can meet -- so we can pull forward and meet some of the challenges in front of us.

RADDATZ: And, Matt, back to you. Mitch McConnell still has not said much about Joe Biden at all. What's his strategy here?

DOWD: Well, I think his big worry -- I think everything Mitch McConnell is focused on right now is the two Senate races, special elections in Georgia on January 5th. That will determine whether or not he's majority leader or not come that day. And so, I think that's what he's focused on. I think he's trying to balance.

Mitch McConnell, all of us know is smart enough to know Joe Biden won and is going to take the oath of office on January 20th. He knows that. He's trying to figure out how to balance that with this election going on and trying to keep the majority in the Senate.

So, he’s always an operator in the midst of this. He will come along.

I think the question is, as he and Joe Biden have a personal relationship that goes back decades, and can that relationship overcome the natural tendency we seem to have today to fight and battle and be polarized? And I think that's I think what is really -- what will be really telling is, can a long-term personal relationship that we thought was of respect, can it move the country in a way that gets things done?

RADDATZ: And, Rebecca, I want to turn back to COVID. You talked about the economic strain. There is good news on the horizon. Dr. Fauci, of course, talking about the vaccine next year.

But how will that change things? How -- how many businesses go out of business? What will the country look like post-vaccine do you think?

JARVIS: Well, Martha, what we're seeing now is that while a lot of businesses in the last handful of months started to see things looking up, these last handful of weeks and what we are now heading into, these winter months before there's a vaccine, before it's widely distributed, are uncertain. They're especially uncertain if you run a restaurant or a bar or a small retailer.

And for these businesses, in particular the people who work for them, 3.5 million Americans who work in the leisure and hospitality space still don't have their jobs back from February. All of these small businesses, while they may have taken PPP earlier in the year are not, they don't have an additional lifeline at this point. And thousands of them are at risk of closing even though there is this vaccine on the horizon, Martha, because there's this bridge and the bridge doesn't exist currently for so many.

And that's a big question that Janet Yellen will have to answer in her role as treasury secretary. She'll have to draw on her experience as Fed chair, looking at some of these issues that exist within the U.S. economy and thinking about how in the future, as we go forward, how to rebuild from where we are right now, because the structural issues are there and they are impacting businesses right now.

RADDATZ: And, Evan, in Biden's sobering COVID speech, he urged Americans to persevere, declaring America is not going to lose this war. It's almost like he's preparing to govern essentially as a war time president.

OSNOS: Yeah, you heard a prayerful tone from him. This was a man who recognizes the gravity of what we're facing. And I think what you heard him saying also was that out of division, in our finest hours, we can unity. And it's striking to me that he has spent some of the past week or two talking to local mayors, many of them Republicans. He's saying to the public, look, I get it, if Washington Republicans are not going to acknowledge this victory and help us move on and begin this transition, I'm going to talk to the people on the frontlines. And it was, after all, Republicans on the frontlines who were the ones who forced Donald Trump to acknowledge the fact that this was over.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden may never have that kind of meeting of the minds, but Joe Biden's not waiting. He's talking to people who are dealing with this every day.

RADDATZ: And -- and, Michelle, you talked a bit about what Joe Biden will face and the issue of democracy. When he takes office next January, he's going to face a monumental challenge of millions and millions of Americans not really believing the election results.

Does he have a prayer of bringing those Americans on board?

NORRIS: You know, I don't know that he can bring them on board, but he can govern them effectively whether they get on board or not. And he might just have to figure out how to do that. He's talked so much about unity and healing, and that seems to be his natural octave. He is so effective when he speaks in those tones.

But at the same time, the diverse coalition of voters, who sent him to office, who elected him, are also looking for him to demonstrate a bit of a warrior spirit, which means not just extending an olive branch, but also trying to show that he's willing to push for reform, that he's willing to push back and -- and -- and tussle with the Senate. If they are not willing to work for him, it's going to be very difficult for him to do this, but it -- it's possible that he might. And we saw a break perhaps in the Republican allegiance in the days after the election because, as Evan noted, there was a break. You know, Republicans in Arizona and Michigan and Georgia, you know, they broke from the party line and upheld democracy. They made a choice and they put America first. And you might, you know, hopefully see that happening more often as he takes that oath of office.

RADDATZ: And, Matt, it seems clear no matter what happens, Donald Trump is probably going to remain a force in the Republican Party. What does that mean for any new Republican leaders or hopefuls?

DOWD: Well, I think that's the biggest pressure. And, yes, there's going to be pressure on Joe Biden to see what he can do. And I think one of the moments that people underestimate is when he puts his hand on the Bible on January 20th and swears his oath into office. There is a shift among the country, maybe not for all of Donald Trump's supporters, but for a significant portion. They're going to actually open their eyes and listen to some of what Joe Biden has to say.

But the Republicans are going to think -- are going to be really struggling with this because if they want any new generation of leaders or any new leaders to emerge that isn't Donald Trump, that sort of represents the Republican Party in a different way, maybe back to a more principled, conservative way, how it used to be, they're going to be blocked by Donald Trump.

And I see no incentive for Donald Trump to go away in this. He's got a huge amount of followers. He's got the second most votes that have ever been cast for a person in history in the country, upwards of 74 million people. People love him. The Republicans that follow him love him. He's got 95 percent support among Republicans. Another high standard for a Republican in this. He loves to be in the limelight, Martha. He loves to be on stage, even though now he's not the main actor in the play that we're seeing unfolding come January 20th. I see no --

RADDATZ: OK, Matthew, I've got to stop you there.

DOWD: No -- no problem.

RADDATZ: I've got to stop you there, but thanks so much to all of you.

That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" and have a great day.