'This Week' Transcript 7-5-20: Dr. Stephen Hahn, Mayor Kate Gallego, Mayor Francis Suarez, Judge Lina Hidalgo
This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, July 5.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, July 5, 2020 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" starts right now.
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DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: What we have seen is right now a very disturbing week.
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MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: Coronavirus cases spiral out of control.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a Category 6 hurricane of illness.
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RADDATZ: As the nation celebrates its 244th birthday, beaches closed in Miami, masks now mandated in Texas.
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GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): The virus is spreading so fast, there's little margin for error.
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RADDATZ: And record hospitalizations in Arizona.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we let our guard down a little bit.
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RADDATZ: President Trump continues to downplay the threat.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have some areas where we're putting out the flames or the fires, and that's working out well.
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RADDATZ: While fanning the flames on political divisions.
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TRUMP: Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.
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RADDATZ: This morning, we talk to leaders from three hard-hit cities, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn with the White House response, and analysis from our powerhouse roundtable.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."
Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week" on this July 4 weekend.
While fireworks lit up the skies across the country, for many Americans, this year's celebrations overshadowed by the battle against the coronavirus. Some beaches, normally crowded, were shut down. In Rhode Island, the nation's oldest Independence Day parade was scaled back to vehicles only.
But it was full steam ahead for President Trump. Despite warnings from top health experts against holding large gatherings, the president began his Independence Day celebrations at Mount Rushmore, with thousands of supporters packed together, with few visible masks.
The president barely mentioning the pandemic, choosing instead to attack those protesting racial injustice.
At the White House Saturday, he repeated divisive themes from his past campaigns, as his efforts at reelection begin to falter.
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TRUMP: Those that are lying about our history, those who want us to be ashamed of who we are, are not interested in justice or in healing. Their goal is demolition.
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RADDATZ: This as top health officials warn, the United States is going in the wrong direction, new coronavirus cases passing the 50,000 mark on four different days last week. And after decreasing for nearly a month-and-a-half, hospitalizations are trending up.
This morning, we will talk to leaders from hot zones in some of the hardest-hit states, Texas, Arizona, and Florida.
And we begin with Miami and Mayor Francis Suarez.
We appreciate you joining us this morning, Mr. Mayor.
Some alarming statistics this July 4 weekend, on Friday, the Miami-Dade region reporting a positivity test rate of 20 percent, meaning one in five people who took a coronavirus test tested positive.
And, on Saturday, Florida reported a new daily record for coronavirus cases, topping the previous record by more than 1,300.
How do you stop this spread? What more can be done?
FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MAYOR OF MIAMI, FLORIDA: Yes.
Well, it's clear that the growth is exponential at this point. You know, we've been breaking record after record after record all the last couple of weeks.
We instituted about a week ago a mask-in-public rule. And we also increased the severity of penalties for businesses that don't follow the rules.
Our county closed down the beaches for the July 4 weekend, in the hopes that all these rules will have an impact, a positive impact. It takes a little bit of time to find out exactly.
But we're obviously very closely monitoring hospitalizations, and we're very, very closely monitoring the death rate, which are lagging indicators that give us the impression that we have to take much stricter -- much stricter measurements -- measures.
RADDATZ: As you said, Miami-Dade County did close its beaches.
But what do you think of the response from the residents? What have you seen over the last couple of days?
SUAREZ: You know, they've been -- they've been -- obviously, they're a little bit upset, to some extent, but we've seen compliance, at least in Miami-Dade County.
I know that there are maybe other places where there haven't been perfect compliance. But we seem to have seen compliance over the weekend.
So, we're hopeful that the measures that we're putting into place will prevent us from having to put in more dramatic measures over the course of this week.
RADDATZ: You said the city mandated face coverings in public on June 25th with fines to enforce it. But how does that work? And have any fines been issued?
SUAREZ: Yes, you know the way it works is -- it’s similar to when we did a stay at home order. You know, we don't actually go door to door and knock on -- on people's homes. And -- and the fact of the matter is, there's also an exception for exercise, which a lot of people are outdoors doing.
What we're -- the reason why we do it is, it's no different than telling people they need to wear a seatbelt. You know, if you get in a car accident, you know, there's a good chance that you'll walk away if you're wearing a seatbelt. The same thing with a mask. If people are wearing the masks in public, there's a very good chance that we're going to be able to slow down or stop the spread. So that's the reason why we do it.
In terms of enforcement, you know, we -- we have a -- the first violation is a warning. The second violation is a $50 fine, then $150, and a $500 fine. You know, we still haven't done massive amounts of enforcement, but we're hoping to see if people comply. And, if not, we're going to have to go out there and -- and do that enforcement.
RADDATZ: And I know you had COVID back in March and we're happy you fully recovered. At the end of March, Miami had a remain at home order in place, which lasted through May 20th. A week later, restaurants were then allowed to reopen to dine-in customers at 50 percent capacity. Is that what contributed to this?
SUAREZ: There's no doubt that the fact that we opened -- and the city of Miami was the last city in the entire state of Florida to open. I was criticized for waiting so long. But there's no doubt that the fact that when we reopened, people started socializing as if the -- the virus didn't -- didn't exist. And what we saw was before the stay at home order is we saw an increasing slope of $35 new cases per day. Right after we implanted the stay at home order, we started seeing that decline almost immediately. We got ahead of the curve and we're seeing a declining slope of 14 cases a day.
Just before this weekend, the incline slope was 91 new cases per day. So it's almost three times a greater slope than it was prior to the stay at home order. So, you know, it's -- it's extremely worrisome.
RADDATZ: OK. Well, thank you very much for joining us, Mayor.
We go now to Texas, which hit a record for hospitalizations this weekend. Joining me now is Judge Lina Hidalgo, from Harris County, which is home to Houston, the epicenter of the outbreak in Texas .
I know you are at home because you were exposed to COVID. We hope you stay healthy.
We should make clear, you function as Harris County 's chief executive controlling the governing body. And last week your country moved to the highest possible threat level signifying a severe and uncontrolled level for COVID-19. Give us an update this morning and what you're doing about it.
JUDGE LINA HIDALGO (D), HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: Good morning.
Since before Memorial Day, really, we've been seeing a -- a non-linear increase in our hospitalizations. At this point, our hospitals here in Harris County, Houston, and 33 other cities, they are crossing, they're into surge capacities. So their operational beds are taken up.
What we're seeing is that wishful thinking is neither good economic policy, nor good public health policy. We had initially this increase back in March. I had the authority to issue a stay home order, and I did quickly, early. We avoided the fate of most other communities our size. But since then the state reopened. Now we know too early, too much. It took away my authority to enforce these orders. And now all I can say is recommend, ask the community, stay home. Which, of course, is not as effective and I don't think is appropriate at the level of crisis we're facing right now.
Today, restaurants are still open. Indoor events can take place no matter the size. And so that's the issue that I'm facing here.
RADDATZ: You have been urging Texas Governor Greg Abbott to issue a mask order. He has now done that for most of Texas, saying Texas -- Texans must refocus on slowing the spread without closing down again. Do you think those masks -- that mask order will make a difference?
HIDALGO : I'm sure a mask order will make some difference and I’m grateful that that’s happened.
That said, as long as we’re doing as little as possible and hoping for the best, we’re always going to be chasing this thing. We’re always going to be behind and the virus will always outrun us.
And so, what we need right now is to do what works, which is a stay home order. We don’t have room to experiment. We don’t have room for incrementalism, when we’re seeing these kinds of numbers, nor should we wait for all the hospital beds to fill and all these people to die before we take drastic action.
We need to take that action. We need to give ourselves the time to bring those numbers down and to learn from the communities that have done things successfully. We have to be proactive with this virus. We need to be real about what’s happening.
And I hope that’s the word of warning to other communities too that there are no shortcuts. And, frankly, if we had stayed shut for longer, if we’d open more slowly, we would probably be at a more sustainable place (ph) in our economy. We wouldn’t be shuttering from open to close.
And so, I’m glad these steps are being taken, but they’re just not enough and we have got to fundamentally rethink the strategy. The reason we’re here is because of that least common denominator strategy.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS HOST: And, Judge, I just want to ask you. You’ve got enormous pushback when you called for masks. You’ve got pushback on social media and from the government -- and from the governor. A look at Governor Abbott’s Twitter has the same kind of reaction.
So, will people really follow this?
HIDALGO: I hope so. You know, part of the challenge with this had been the mixed messages from different levels of government. So, of course, that makes this harder.
Early on, everybody worked together on stay home, and then things became very political, and these mixed messages. And so, that’s why I want to be very clear with the community. Right now, folks need to stay home and I need the authority to enforce it.
Obviously, folks will follow these (ph) recommendations more to the extent that there’s an enforcement provision, but it’s not a recommendation. The idea is not to go and see how many fines we can collect or put cops on every street corner. But it sends a signal, when you have things that are enforceable.
And, look, we’ve got to give it our best shot. But we have to all get in line that we can’t just be catching up to this virus. We need to be proactive, for the sake of our economy, our health, and just simply what’s right.
You know, we shouldn’t be waiting for our health care workers to be overburdened, for ICUs to be full. Since when did that become the way we deal in this crisis, especially in a community as compassionate as this one, which dealt with Hurricane Harvey?
RADDATZ: OK, thank you very much, Judge, for joining us.
Finally, let’s turn to Arizona, the state with the highest daily new cases per capita in the country. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego joins us.
Your county, which includes Phoenix, has by far the most COVID cases in Arizona, climbing from fewer than 10,000 at the beginning of June to over 55,000 now. So, what happened there?
MAYOR KATE GALLEGO (D), PHOENIX, ARIZONA: We opened way too early in Arizona. We were one of the last states to go to stay-at-home and one of the first to reemerge. And we -- reemerge that zero to six.
We had crowded nightclubs handing out free champagne, no masks. Our 20- to 44-year-olds, which is my own demographic, really led the explosion, and we’ve seen such growth in that area. We’re seeing a lot of people go to large family gatherings and infect their family members.
We are in a crisis related to testing. Was visiting a testing facility this weekend, people waiting still eight hours.
It’s really, really difficult. I’ve been spending time begging everyone from Walgreens to open up testing, out of state testing companies to come in because it’s awful to see people waiting in a car, while you’re feeling sick, people were running of gas, and this is as many months in.
We’ve asked FEMA if they could come and do community based testing here. We were told they’re moving away from that, which feels like they’re declaring victory while we’re still in crisis mode.
RADDATZ: And Mayor, do you think a stay at home order should be given?
GALLEGO: Our governor has preempted us from closing different types of businesses or moving restaurants to take-out only. We really want as many tools as possible.
We had to beg to be able to implement masking orders. We were originally preempted from doing that but I’m thankful the governor did allow cities to put masking orders in place, which I think will help. If you’ve seen some of the data from communities that had them, masks do slow the spread and can be important. Also to indicate to us that we are still in a crisis and have to take this seriously.
I think when nightclubs were open, it sent the signal that we had, again, defeated COVID and, obviously, that is not the case.
RADDATZ: And many mixed messages coming from all over the place. Is that a problem?
GALLEGO: It is. President Trump was in my community, chose not to wear a mask, and he’s having large events while I am trying to push people that you need to stay at home and that events with more than 10 people are dangerous per the Centers for Disease Control.
RADDATZ: Thank you very much for joining us Mayor. And we wish you the best of luck.
GALLEGO: Thank you.
RADDATZ: For more on the outbreak of COVID cases across the country, let's bring in a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, FDA commissioner, Dr. Stephen Hahn.
Welcome this morning.
The president said, with the testing in place, "We show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless." He said this last night. That is a stunning statement.
Do you have any evidence that is an accurate statement?
DR. STEPHEN HAHN, COMMISSIONER, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: Well, let's talk about where we are right now. We're seeing cases around the Sun Belt. We're seeing, in some cases, the situation where it's in people who are less than 35. So it's a little bit different situation than what we had back in March and April.
We are certainly concerned at the White House, the corona task force, about this. You saw the vice president go out to those three states last week where we've reached out, trying to find out, what are the supplies, what are the resources that are needed, and we've sent teams into those states to actually help with taking care of the patients who are now with COVID-19.
RADDATZ: I -- I want to ask you again, Dr. Hahn, the president said, we show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless. We have more than 129,000 dead and more than 2.8 million cases. How many cases would you say are harmless?
HAHN: Well, what I'd say is, you know, any case, we don't want to have in this country. This is a very rapidly moving epidemic. A rapidly moving pandemic. And any death, any case, is tragic. And we want to do everything we can to prevent that.
What I would say to the American people is, follow the guidance of the CDC; follow the protocols of the local and state governments, wear a mask if you can't socially distance, or if the local procedure is to wear a mask at all times, socially distant, hand sanitation, and protect the vulnerable. That's how we're going to get out of this. That's how we're going to further flatten. That's how we're going to stop this rising number of cases in the Sun Belt.
RADDATZ: And, Dr. Hahn, President Trump tweeted this weekend that we are getting close to fighting our way out of the virus. What evidence do you see of that given what you know and what you just heard from the mayors of those hot spots?
HAHN: So, first of all, you know, my heart -- I'm a front line -- or was a front-line practicing doctor about seven, eight months ago, so, you know, my well-wishes and hearts go out to those on the front line taking care of these patients. And we are aware of these -- these rising number of cases, particularly in the Sunbelt.
But we are in a fundamentally different place now than we were in March and April. And let me just give you an example regarding therapeutics. We now have tools for those providers to actually use, Remdesivir, steroids.
And let me tell you also about convalescent plasma, because that is a treatment that we're looking at across the country. More than 28,000 Americans have received it. That's where you take the plasma from someone who's recovered and give that natural immunity to someone who is currently sick. We're looking at whether that's effective or not. It appears to be safe.
And one thing I'd like, again, to tell your -- your viewing public, if you've been -- if you've had COVID-19, you have an opportunity to give back by contacting your Red Cross, by contacting a local plasma center and -- and donating. It could save a life.
RADDATZ: And -- and, Doctor, I want to turn to vaccines. The president also claimed last night that a therapeutic and/or vaccine will be around long before the end of the year.
Is that true and, if so, based on what?
HAHN: So I just mentioned about the therapeutics that are available. We have a very robust pipeline. FDA oversees 141 clinical trials currently of therapeutics, of treatments for COVID-19.
RADDATZ: Let's move to vaccines.
HAHN: So that pipeline is very robust.
RADDATZ: Let's move to vaccines. What do you see --
RADDATZ: In the future for vaccines? Before the end of the year?
HAHN: I can't predict -- I can't predict when a vaccine will be available. And I just want to tell you about FDA's role in this. Yes, we are seeing unprecedented speed for the development of a vaccine. But as you know, Martha, we issued guidance this past week about vaccine development because we want to be very clear, our solemn promise to the American people is that we will make a decision based upon the data and science on a vaccine with respect to the safety and effectiveness of that vaccine.
That's something that's an FDA core responsibility. When those data become available -- and I hope those data are available sooner rather than later -- we will make that judgment based upon those data and that science.
RADDATZ: And -- and, Doctor, a recent ABC/Washington Post poll shows 27 percent of people are unlikely to accept a free coronavirus vaccine.
What happens if a sizable number of people refuse to get a vaccine?
HAHN: It is a sizable number. And -- and it is concerning. And, of course, the issue of vaccines in this country has -- has been around for a number of years.
What I can say is, one of the reasons -- one of the major reasons we issued this guidance was we wanted to give clarity about what we were going to look at, what we need to look at, and that FDA -- the nation’s FDA has incredible scientific expertise and we will do our job to assess the safety and the efficacy of a vaccine candidate. I want to assure the American people of that and provide confidence that we’re on the job.
RADDATZ: Thanks so much for joining us this morning Dr. Hahn. Always appreciate your time.
Coming up -- how our hospitals are handling the new surge in patients and why are so many young people now getting sick? We'll look at that and more next.
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DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE MEMBER: I’m very concerned and I’m not satisfied with what's going on, because we're going in the wrong direction. We can't just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk. We are now having 40,000-plus thousand cases a new day, I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.
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RADDATZ: Dr. Anthony Fauci’s stark warning to Congress this week about the worsening pandemic.
Joining me to help make sense of it, ABC News contributor and former Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, and Dr. Patrice Harris, who just concluded her term as president of the American Medical Association.
Welcome to you both.
And, Tom, I want to start with you. You've been so wise tracking this pandemic over these last few months. First, I want your reaction to what Dr. Hahn said.
TOM BOSSERT, FORMER TRUMP HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Well, you know, with respect to the second half of Dr. Hahn's interview, I completely agree that the FDA is going to do everything that it can for a safe virus -- or a safe vaccine for this virus.
The first half, though, he ducked the question. It is absolutely irrefutable. I thought your question was spot-on, and I think the answer is obvious, this is not harmless.
This virus -- in fact, for anything to happen at this stage, whether it’d be a mild form of mitigation or a suppression level strategy, which we’re from, the country has to know that this is dangerous virus. We have to start at the basics and level with people. Suggesting that it's not dangerous is in itself a dangerous message.
RADDATZ: And, Tom, what is different about this spike than the ones or more worrisome than the ones we saw in New York and New Jersey.
BOSSERT: The numbers, just the sheer numbers. What we saw in February and March in the Northeast was among and between a population of 39 million people. When you add Calif -- when you add Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and the populations together, you end up with about 39 million.
We're talking about 90 million in just three of the states we have covered this morning, Florida, Texas, and Arizona. Add an additional 40 million, 39 and change, if you add California.
Martha, here's the perspective. We are now, as a country, adding a Wuhan a day to the case totals of this world. Wuhan collectively, cumulatively, had as many cases in its entire history as this country posted on Wednesday, in one day last week.
And in the next week or two, we will get to a level where we add a new China a day.
RADDATZ: And, Dr. Harris, I want your comments about Dr. Hahn as well and what you're seeing in these hot spots, and how hospitals can cope with that.
DR. PATRICE HARRIS, FORMER PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Well, certainly, I am glad that Dr. Hahn made it clear that any vaccine considered would include both safety and efficacy as the metrics.
We need to make sure we know. We already have a problem with vaccine hesitancy in this country. And so that's an important message.
Also, as a physician, there is no such thing as a harmless case of COVID-19. Even if you are fortunate enough not to have the symptoms, you can spread it to others. And we have seen that, particularly among those who are younger.
And if you spread it to others, we know what happens. We know the tragic consequences of death. And we are seeing many folks who have recovered who are continuing to suffer lingering effects. So, we are in a place where these -- the virus is surging in some areas.
And we certainly need a federal coordinated approach to this and leadership. We all have a part to play. But we need leadership to address the surges now, but to be prepared for future surges.
RADDATZ: And, Dr. Harris, Americans have gotten a lot of conflicting guidance, even from the CDC, over the past few months.
First, it was, you don't need masks. That was probably largely in part because health care workers need them. Now it's masks all the time, if you can do it.
How about this mixed messaging? And are masks required now, because we have learned they work or because we didn't really know that before?
HARRIS: So, certainly, this is a new coronavirus.
And our knowledge is evolving and growing. And, at the beginning, we were thinking that we didn't need to wear masks. But the data is clear at this point in time. Masks or face coverings should be worn by everyone. They are an important tool in the toolbox right now.
Although our therapeutics, as Dr. Hahn mentioned, are getting a little bit better, wearing masks, staying six feet apart, washing our hands, those are the best tools we have in the toolbox right now to prevent the spread of this virus.
RADDATZ: And, Tom, of course, the president this week did say he had no objection to wearing masks, but we have not seen him wear one.
Is that an important message, or is it really just too late?
BOSSERT: Well, let's see. It's too late in some places.
I was very encouraged to hear the president's change in rhetoric on masks, or at least his clarification of where he stands on them, this week. So I want to give him credit for that.
I will tell you, though, that if you look at this in a macro sense, as a country, which he's doing -- he's the president, and he should be -- you're seeing death numbers go down.
But if you look at the -- if it don't aggregate or manipulate these numbers, and you look at these numbers in Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, you see the death numbers starting to go up.
And so what he should be doing is worrying about those other interventions. See, masks work. They're one layer. But one layer, whether it's masks or a different one, don't alone suffice.
And so, Martha, perhaps I'd phrase it this way. I have run the numbers here in Florida and in Arizona and in Texas. And Florida just posted 11,000, north of 11,000 cases yesterday, in one day alone.
In the last two weeks -- in the last two weeks, since June 19, Florida has had 100,000 new cases. Those people, if you assume two weeks here, are still infectious.
Depending on how you do this, assuming how many cases they're ascertaining -- 20 percent is generous -- there is a solid reason to believe there are 500,000 people in Florida right now today infectious. That's over 2 percent of their population.
Masks alone won't cut it. We need to make sure those people are isolated. We need to make sure the people they have come into contact with are quarantined. Do you if you've been in contact in the state of Florida with one of the half a million people who are currently infectious? If you don't , and if you don't understand how you would find out, then we are going to have a hard time.
Florida has exceeded an ember level, it's exceeded a small fire on a stove analogy. This virus has exceeded, in Florida and in Texas and Arizona, into something much larger and it's going to require much more concerted effort to put it out.
RADDATZ: And Dr. Harris, very quickly if you will, a message to young people, young people are gathering in large groups, but they're also getting infected more, we just have a couple of seconds.
HARRIS: Yes, my message to young people is to please know that you can protect yourself, you're also at risk, but you also can protect others, so please wear a mask, stay away from large gatherings and, again, practice good hand hygiene.
RADDATZ: Great advice from both of you. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.
Nate Silver is up next on with his take on whether masks are the best way to save the economy. Stay with us.
RADDATZ: The roundtable is standing by ready to go. We'll be right back.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm all for masks. I think masks are good. I would wear -- if I were in a group of people and I was close --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would wear one?
TRUMP: Oh, I would -- I would -- oh, I have. I mean people have seen me wearing one. I'm actually -- I -- I had a mask on. I sort of liked the way I looked, OK, I thought it was OK. It was a dark black mask. And I thought it looked OK. I looked like the Lone Ranger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: President Trump there appearing to endorse wearing face masks, even though he's very publicly chosen not to do so. Masks have proven to be one of the most contentious issues throughout the pandemic, stemming from the government's own conflicting guidance early on. Now, as a surge of coronavirus cases threatens to force business closures once more an upend a fragile, economic recovery, it turns out masks might be the smartest economic and political policy.
Here's FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver.
NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Encouraging people to wear a mask not only helps stop the spread of the virus, it could also be one of the smarter things that President Trump could do to help his re-election chances. Here is why a change in the president's tone on masks could be so important.
We basically have three choices. One, we can wear masks and get somewhat back to normal. Two, we cannot wear masks but stay at home. Not so great for the economy. Or, three, we can pretend everything is normal and watch COVID cases grow as people in states like Arizona and Florida have been learning the hard way.
By the way, that great jobs report this month with more than 4.8 million jobs added, that reflected conditions in early June when the pandemic was still ebbing. But since then, COVID cases have nearly doubled to around nearly 50,000 per day. A resurgence of the virus is not going to be good for a v-shaped recovery.
Framed that way, it's clear why Trump should choose door number one, which means more masks. There is some room for debate about exactly how effective masks are, but they clearly can't hurt and they might help a lot.
A study by Goldman Sachs this week found that a mask mandate could save the equivalent of 5 percent of GDP by averting future shutdowns. They also found that in states that have a mask requirements, cases are growing less than half as fast as compared to states without one. Meanwhile, 56 percent of voters now disapprove of Trump's handling of COVID and his numbers have been getting worse almost every week.
So not only do I buy that masks are the best way to help the economy, they might help a little bit with Trump's flagging poll numbers, too.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Nate.
The roundtable's up next.
We'll be right back.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make no mistake, this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution, the radical ideology attacking our country advances under the banner of social justice.
But in truth, it would demolish both justice and society.
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MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS HOST: President Trump Friday speaking in the shadow of Mt. Rushmore delivering anything but a message of unity during this Fourth of July holiday.
For more, let's bring in the powerhouse roundtable. ABC News political analyst, Matthew Dowd, Washington bureau chief for “The Associated Press”, Julie Pace, our senior national correspondent Terry Moran, and ABC News multi-platform reporter, Rachel Scott.
And, Terry, I want to start with you. President Trump did deliver that very grim message for America right there in front of Mt. Rushmore, once again stoking fears with his base.
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He did, deliberately. Look, there are two kinds of elections, it seems to me.
One is a pragmatic election, where the questions want answers, policy answers to pressing problems. The other is an existential election, who are we, is the question on that?
President Trump is going with that, and the answer he has is designed to rouse and stoke his almost exclusively white base of supporters. The problem with that is he’s an incumbent president. And this is a performance review, a programmatic evaluation of how he’s done, especially in the pandemic, and polls show, people think he's no good in this crisis. And it just gets worse for him in that issue.
The other is on the existential question, who are we? He's giving the wrong answer to the country. Polls show the country supports the goals of Black Lives Matter, supports the peaceful protests to advance those goals, and they don't want a president basically who’s siding with guys in golf cart shouting "white power ". That’s not a winning strategy for him.
RADDATZ: And, Rachel, you have covered this campaign. You’ve watched Trump in action. He really is doubling down on his campaign themes from the past, from 2016. But a lot has happened since then, especially as Terry points out.
So, how did this approach work?
RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS MULTI-PLATFORM REPORTER: Yes, Martha, it's no longer 2016. The political climate is changing. Right now, we are seeing this reckoning on race in this country.
As Terry mentioned, the majority of Americans, 67 percent, according to Pew Research, support the Black Lives Matter movement. The president calling that a symbol of hate. We’re seeing protesters raise to topple these controversial monuments and statues. The president stepping up to protect statues and monuments.
And, you know, the president painted himself as a political outsider in 2016. Well, he is no longer a political outsider. And so, while that divisive rhetoric may appeal to a large section of his base, the big question here is whether or not it's going to attract new voters who are looking to this president as the commander in chief for answers and looking at his record on racial tensions in this country.
RADDATZ: And, Matt, let me ask you that question. This speech was not the only time in the past few weeks the president has seemed eager to turn the attention back to the issues of race in this country, how does he expected to get re-elected with a message like that?
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don’t know how he expects to get reelected. Who knows what strategy it is? But it’s a strategy, as Terry was saying, designed to appeal to only 35 percent or 40 percent of the country, which has been the president's fundamental problem in this.
The other part I think as I watched is, this is not 2016. This is an incumbent president running for re-election. So, the election is going to be almost exclusively about him, how he’s done and where people think the country is.
Seventy percent-plus people in this country think we're off on the wrong track. And almost 60 percent give the president a disapproval rating overall on what his job as president of the United States. It's as if he's looking for cheers of the crowd and doesn't care about scoring points in this. And so, he keeps going for cheers of a small group of crowd, but he's not scoring a single point against Joe Biden in the midst of this strategy that they have.
RADDATZ: And to that point, Julie, this does come, as his re-election is looking more in doubt, Joe Biden is opening a wide lead over President Trump who took a hard hit in June. Biden has been getting more campaign money than Trump and more Republican seemed to be raising alarm bills about the need for the president to develop a more coherent message for reelection and some do not think that speech, or the one last night was the way to do it.
What are you hearing?
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: No, absolutely. I mean, Republicans will concede to you right now that President Trump is losing. It doesn’t mean he’s going to lose in November, but at this point he's losing. And that means that something in this race has to change over the next four months for him to turn this around.
One of the ways he could do it and that his campaign is talking about a lot right now is, is there a way they can define Joe Biden? They have really not been able to undercut Joe Biden. He is -- he is well-liked by the public and he's doing a pretty good job without having to do much proactively. The other way, of course, though that this race can change is that President Trump thinks that there are more of those disaffected white voters, more of his base out there than is showing up in the polls.
And I think that any Republican who is waiting for a big turnaround in the messaging, any Republican who is waiting for President Trump to pivot to the center to try to draw in more of those independents or moderate Republicans, is probably fighting a losing battle.
I think the president is going to fight this campaign on the terrain that we have seen over the last couple of days. It's where he's comfortable, and it's where he wants to be in the next four months.
RADDATZ: And, Rachel, he's going to have to find it in a little bit of a different manner.
We know the vice president had to cancel a rally. Joe Biden is now saying he won't be having rallies at all. And any indication the Trump campaign is rethinking all of this and how they go forward?
SCOTT: Well, the rallies are definitely still going to go on.
I was talking to a campaign official who said, the president is at his best when he is out in front of his supporters. But the optics of it, right, may change. We may see smaller venues. We may see more outdoor venues. We know the president does not want to see a single empty seat, like we saw there at that rally in Tulsa.
But a lot of these large-scale events that the president has been having have been overshadowed by the fact that his own staff, his own Secret Service agents have tested positive for the virus, and that holding these political rallies, in itself, is sort of an act of defiance, going against what health experts are saying, cautioning against these large-scale events and gatherings.
And so the president's campaign right now is trying to be focused on this long-term goal of winning reelection, while also putting out these short-term fires.
RADDATZ: And, Julie, after the Tulsa rally that Rachel mentioned, Jared Kushner -- Kushner stepped in and replaced Trump's campaign chief operating officer. Is this just the beginning?
PACE: Certainly, personnel changes are sort of a go-to in Trump world when things aren't going well.
And there's a lot of discussion right now about leadership of the campaign, management of the campaign. I think we could see some more changes in the next couple of months. Realistically, though, there's one person who matters here, and it's President Trump.
He's got this massive megaphone. He's got this ability to just overshadow anything that the campaign is doing in ads or in social media messaging. This is an election about him, no matter how much they try to change the pieces in the campaign.
RADDATZ: And, Matt, what would it take for the president to change his trajectory here, to be more appealing to suburban voters, black voters...
DOWD: To be somebody different than he is.
RADDATZ: Is that your answer?
DOWD: I mean, I -- I mean, I think, fundamentally, he -- they mistook 2016. They thought they won because of Donald Trump. They won in spite of Donald Trump. He finished with the highest unfavorable rating, and he still won the election, lost the popular vote in that election.
The problem Donald Trump has isn't Joe Biden. It's the environment he's in, and that he doesn't fit the environment that he's in. We have an environment that wants change, isn't satisfied with where things are, doesn't approve of this president, is upset about the economy. It is upset about the pandemic of COVID-19.
And the president doesn't seem to be responding to that. And I think Joe Biden right now, if he wants to fight this on an existential way, what America -- is America -- Joe Biden says, come on, let's bring it on. If he wants to have it about performance in office, Joe Biden's going to say, come on, bring it on.
The problem is, fundamentally, the president of the United States does not fit the moment we are in, in America. Unless he fundamentally changes, it's going to be very hard for him to win reelection.
RADDATZ: OK, Terry, and speaking this moment in America, Kanye West says he is throwing his hat into the ring for president. A little late?
MORAN: Well, you never know. Look, the election is a few months away. Maybe he can get a message going.
But, seriously, these are serious times. In 2016, the American public didn't have a favorable opinion of either candidate. One of them had to win, and Donald Trump was that one.
This time, there are very serious questions. Donald Trump is not going to define the terrain of this campaign. Neither is Joe Biden. The American voters are.
And I get the feeling that, out there, there's a sense that things need to change in very deep ways going forward, because of the pandemic, because of the social movement of Black Lives Matter, because of the blow the economy took.
People are going to look for answers, not just to the immediate crisis, but what are we going to do afterwards? What is the new normal going to look like?
That may be Joe Biden's Achilles' heel right now. We have two old men running for office. America's a tomorrow country. I think the person who better defines what tomorrow looks like is going to win. My hunch is, that's not going to be Kanye, although his rallies -- he's not going to have any rallies, but his videos will be great, I'm sure.
RADDATZ: I'm sure they will be.
Rachel, we have all been talking about the pandemic. That will restrict some campaigning, apparently not President Trump's campaigning, but it puts a focus on the debates.
There will be three general election presidential debates, one vice presidential debate. How important are those, and what kind of strategy should each of those candidates have, President Trump and Joe Biden?
SCOTT: Absolutely. And it could be a defining moment for either campaign right now, especially if Joe Biden is not going to be holding these large-scale events and rallies, like the president most certainly will.
That is going to be his biggest opportunity, his biggest stage yet, to communicate directly to the American people.
But the Trump campaign is going to be hinging and betting on Biden to have a slip-up, to have another one of those gaffes, and the Biden campaign, and Biden himself, will definitely be going after President Trump on his record on race and during the pandemic, both are going to have to defend their record no longer political outsiders.
RADDATZ: And I do want to move on and look at the coronavirus. The country did set another record this week, Terry, over 57,000 new coronavirus cases. Is this sinking in at all with President Trump?
MORAN: No. By all appearances, no. He wants it to go away. He talks about it in the past tense. He says it's just going to disappear. He says there will be a vaccine likely by the end of the year. Basically, the message is, just ignore it, focus on other things.
And he's not marshalling the resources of the federal government efficiently in the judgment of the people, that's the ultimate verdict. And right now he's getting a very bad mark on his handling of the vaccine -- of the virus in part because sometimes he's just wacky about it. The disinfectant moment, the it's harmless moment, these are unserious moments in addressing a very serious problem. And they're noticed by voters.
He may feel the best thing he can do is try to change the subject, but it's a pandemic, it's hard to.
RADDATZ: Well, he did tout the job numbers this week, Julie, but those job numbers, which did look very good, better than expected, were in June as Nate Silver pointed out. So what does he do watching the economy?
PACE: Yeah, those job numbers were a snapshot in time, and a snapshot from a time we're already not in. And I think that the president is going to have the reckon in a couple of weeks which jobs numbers that probably look a lot worse.
I think the challenge for Trump is that he looks out of step on so many issues, like he's ignoring what is happening really in the economy, what is happening with the pandemic, and what is this big reckoning on race. He's the president of the United States and he's not part of the real conversation with what a lot of Americans are really experiencing.
RADDATZ: And, Matt, we just have about 30 seconds left. And I want you to sum up what you think the campaign will look like in the next few months and how big a role the pandemic will play?
DOWD: Well, this is a campaign that's fundamentally about the direction of America, and that is both true of Trump supporters, who believe that, and that's true of Joe Biden's supporters that they believe fundamentally this is about where -- who we are as a country and where we go. The pandemic is going to be -- cast a pal over this entire election, not only because of the economy, but because of people's fundamental concern about healthcare and how they're going to live their lives in a new normal. Are we going to go back to school? Are we going to be able to eat out again? All of those things, we are -- as I said earlier, we are a moment in time, and each candidate has to figure out how they address the moment in time and the president is behind the eight ball.
RADDATZ: And we will keep watching that. Thanks to all of you on this Sunday morning.
When we come back, a candid conversation about equality in the military. Our exclusive interview with the commandant of the Marine Corps next.
RADDATZ: Over the past six weeks in the wake of George Floyd's killing, workplaces across the country have grappled with questions about diversity and inclusion. One of the highest profile -- the United States military is no different.
I sat down with the head of the Marine Corps, Commandant David Berger, ahead of this holiday weekend, to talk about why he sees moves towards equality as a matter of national security.
RADDATZ: Renewed and passionate calls for racial justice started sweeping the country after the death of George Floyd in June. But years before that, as alarming incidents of white supremacist activities were uncovered in the military, talks on banning the Confederate flag at U.S. Marine Corps bases were already under way.
GEN. DAVID H. BERGER, COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS: It was pretty clear from -- actually from 2016 to 2017, that some symbols were being hijacked by organizations and used in a very bad, negative way.
RADDATZ: And last February, less than a year after he was sworn in as commandant, General Berger removed Confederate paraphernalia from all Marine bases. By April, he announced a ban on any public display of the Confederate flag.
Why did you decide that? What have you seen?
BERGER: This is not an attempt to erase history, but the bigger symbol is the things that draw the team together so we can operate with that kind of implicit trust. We have a flag, it's the American flag. We have the Marine Corps colors. We have things that unify us. Anything that gets in the way of that is a problem.
RADDATZ (voice over): Black Americans account for just over 13 percent of the population. The U.S. Army has the highest proportion of African-American officers at 12.1 percent. The Marines have the lowest at less than 6 percent. The impact of that underrepresentation underscored by retired Lieutenant General Vince Stewart, the first black man to lead the Defense Intelligence Agency.
BERGER: I've known him for a long time. I would, tomorrow morning, I would -- it would be honor to work for him, serve underneath him.
RADDATZ: In a recent op-ed, General Stewart wrote that despite achieving the American dream, he faced a member of Congress who said he only got the position because he must have been close to President Obama.
RADDATZ (on camera): What is your approach to equality in the Marine Corps?
BERGER: If we're actually honest with ourselves, first step, we all have unconscious biases. Admit it or not, we do.
RADDATZ: What do you do to get at what you call the unconscious biases, or a system that did that to Vince Stewart?
BERGER: We have to pay a lot more attention, in other words earlier on, deliberately, intentionally, managing the talent that we have and not let it sort itself all out in the wash.
RADDATZ (voice over): A deliberate focus on getting more diverse Marines in the top ranks are in addition to those priorities he tweeted about earlier this year. Put more women in previously gender restricted roles. Study the costs of increasing parental leave. And extend those benefits to same-sex couples.
Whatever cultural changes Berger intends to uphold, he knows the Marines must have the respect of the people. Berger watched the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, walk with the president through Lafayette Square, towards that infamous photo-op after peaceful protesters were violently pushed back. Milley later apologized for taking part.
BERGER: Those of us who have served with him, not just here in the Pentagon, but served really with him knew that was not where he intended to be.
RADDATZ (on camera): But the politicization of the military is -- is a concern.
This is part of the reason why America trusts its military. We understand the chain of command, but we can't become a political tool either.
RADDATZ (voice over): Berger's goal for leading the Marine Corps into a new era, perhaps best summed up this way.
BERGER: The more senior you get, the more you talk, the less you listen. I am trying to be more disciplined and listen more.
RADDATZ: That's a message we can all take to heart.
That's all for us today.
Before we go, we wanted to take another look at some of those breathtaking military flyovers yesterday. Five different waves flying in separate formations, soaring above citizens of every stripe, celebrating America's 244th birthday.
Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us and have a happy and healthy Independence Day weekend.
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