A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, March 1, 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, thank you, South Carolina!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: Biden wins big.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: For all of those of you who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Crushing Sanders in South Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You cannot win them all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Tom Steyer third and out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can't see a path where I can win the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: All the rest pin their last hopes on Super Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is going to be a big day.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We want to gain as many delegates to the convention as we can.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm determined to earn every vote on the road ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Will Biden's commanding win bring enough of a boost on Super Tuesday? Can he blunt Bernie's momentum, or will Sanders emerge with an insurmountable lead?
Is Mike Bloomberg now a spoiler? And after Tuesday's votes, which candidates will survive?
Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders join us this morning, plus our powerhouse roundtable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We are seeing more cases. We will see more cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Coronavirus continues to spread, sinking stock markets, amid new fears for its long-term impact.
Trump expands travel restrictions, attacks Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is their new hoax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Our guest, Health Secretary Alex Azar.
We will break down the politics, smoke out the spin, the facts that matter this week.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."
Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."
As we come on the air this morning, the new coronavirus continues to spread, almost 90,000 cases across 60 countries and six continents, the first death reported here in the U.S. in the state of Washington, where they have declared a state of emergency amid concern that the virus has been spreading there for weeks.
We are going to have more on that coming up.
But we begin with the race for the White House and Joe Biden's comeback landslide in South Carolina, a commanding win, thanks to overwhelming support from African-American voters, who make up more than half the Democratic vote in South Carolina, Bernie Sanders and Tom Steyer far back. And Steyer has now dropped out of the race.
The former vice president will come away from South Carolina with at least 36 pledged delegates. He now stands in second place behind Sanders in that all-important measure.
But Sanders is poised to take home a treasure trove on Super Tuesday, just two days away. He's ahead in the biggest states, has a boatload of cash and the most energized organization.
The big question for Biden now, can he make this a two-person race and stop Sanders from getting an insurmountable lead in delegates?
Biden framed the choice last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The Democrats want a nominee who's a Democrat.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BIDEN: An Obama-Biden Democrat!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BIDEN: So join us.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BIDEN: Folks, win big or lose, that's the choice.
Most Americans don't want the promise of revolution. They want more than promises. They want results.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Vice President Biden joins us this morning.
Congratulations, Mr. Vice President.
BIDEN: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, you didn't mince any words last night. You're convinced the Democrats will lose big in November if Bernie Sanders is the nominee?
BIDEN: Well, I think it's going to have -- he'll have great trouble bringing along other senators, keeping the House of Representatives, winning back the Senate and down-ballot initiatives.
So I think -- I think it is a stark choice. And it's not about whether or not we restore the soul of the Democratic Party. It's about restoring the soul and unite this country, the whole country.
And I think -- I think I can do that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're fighting from behind on Super Tuesday, as you know. Senator Sanders just announced he raised $46.5 million in February.
Polling shows he's ahead in most of the 15 contests, way ahead in California, the biggest prize. He has 23 campaign offices there. You have one.
Is Senator Sanders poised to have a big delegate lead coming out of Super Tuesday?
BIDEN: Well, look, George, I'm not a pundit.
I -- he -- he obviously has outspent me 10-1 or beyond that. And -- but I think it's more, as much the message and what we stand for and what we're going to do.
And the idea that Bernie is going to be able to win these -- he could win California, whoever the Democrat is, I think, will win California in a general election, but we still have to come along and win the Senate. We have to win in North Carolina, and we have to win in Georgia. We have to win in Texas, Florida, et cetera.
So, I think that -- and I do very well in those states as well. And I haven't been able to spend the kind of money he has or put together the organization, although we did very well last night. So far this month, we've raised, which, for us is a lot of money, about -- I guess it's close to $18 million.
We raised $5 million just from the win last night in a 24 hour period overnight. And so I think things are beginning to move.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Where can you win on Tuesday?
BIDEN: Well, I think we win North Carolina, I think we can win in Georgia -- is Georgia Tuesday?
STEPHANOPOULOS: No, Georgia is not Tuesday.
BIDEN: There's one there in Alabama -- no, it's not Tuesday. I misspoke.
But anyway, I think we can in the upcoming states. I think we can win most of the southern states, we're in contention, including in Texas. It's going to be very hard to make up the ground in California, but I think we can make up a lot of ground in California in three days.
And so I feel good about where it goes. And Super Tuesday's not the end, so it's only the beginning. We're about even on delegates right now. We have more popular votes thus far than Sanders does. I feel good about going to places where I've always had significant support from the people who make up the Democratic electorate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That endorsement from Jim Clyburn in South Carolina really made a difference for your campaign, and he delivered some tough love to your campaign last night. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM CLYBURN, (D) SOUTH CAROLINA: We need to do some retooling in the campaign, no question about that. Did not feel free to speak out about it or to even deal with it inside because I had not committed to his candidacy. I have now. I'm all in. And I'm not going to sit on the by and watch people mishandle this campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is he right? What kind of changes are coming?
BIDEN: Well, there's a lot of changes coming. This is a -- as you know from your past experiences years ago, this is a matter of addition not subtraction. And so we're attracting more and more people, we're adding more competent people, additional people that are very competent. I feel good about the top part of my campaign. We've had some difficulties across the board in terms of field organization. That's getting better.
Because, again, we've got out-spent 40-1 in South Carolina. And then we've probably been outspent larger than that, I don't know the numbers, I know South Carolina, for the first four encounters. But now we're in a position where we are beginning to raise some real money and we feel good about where we're going.
But we always can improve. We always can improve.
BIDEN: And I can improve as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You served as vice president for eight years under Barack Obama. Is the fact that he hasn't endorsed you is hurting you, and is it time?
BIDEN: No, it isn't hurting me. And I don't think it's time. He and I have talked about since the very beginning. I have to earn this on my own.
Remember, George, the first thing everyone said when I announced, the opposition, the Democratic opposition, well, Biden feels entitled because he was vice president. Imagine had the president endorsed me, it would have been, well, Biden is entitled because he thinks he's entitled because of the president endorsed him.
The president and I are close friends. And I have no doubt when I win this nomination he will be out there full bore for me.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you said, the race could have a long way to go, but even if you have a good night on Tuesday, Senator Sanders is likely to have a large delegate lead, and it could open up this possibility that he has the most pledged delegates going into the convention, but not a majority. Why shouldn't the candidate with the most pledged delegates going into the convention be the nominee?
BIDEN: For the same reason he didn't think -- when Hillary had the most pledged delegates that she should be the nominee. The process is laid out.
I find -- you know, don't you find, George, that, you know, that there's not a lot of consistency coming out of some of these campaigns? He was -- he wanted to make sure that he didn't enter with the most delegates and be the automatic nominee when he was running against Hillary and all of a sudden he's had an epiphany.
You know, look, I say what I mean. I mean what I say. I say it and I stay with it. I think the process is laid out. We should go with the process, but I'm not even certain he's going to go into this convention with the most delegates.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, let's lay this out, though. Let's say this goes straight to the convention. He's in first, you're in second. What's the argument that you make to a super delegate for why Joe Biden should be the nominee?
BIDEN: Because I can win and I can bring along Democratic victories up and down the state. I can keep the United States -- I can win the United States Senate at the top of the ticket. I can keep the House and increase the number of the House. I can go into every state in the nation. I can go into purple states and we can win. I can win in places where I don't think Bernie can win in a general election.
But that's my judgment, that's for -- but that's just my judgment. It's up to them to decide. But most people I know, whether they are establishment Democrats or just people concerned about making sure that we not only beat Donald Trump, but have enough votes in the House and Senate to pass progressive legislation, like I proposed, know that we have to do better up and down the ladder in terms
of state and local races.
And look, in 2018, George, we went through this before, you and I, I went into 24 states, purple states for over 65 candidates. They wanted me in. And we won. We won. They we were asking me to come in. I don't know that they asked Bernie. They may have. I doubt it. Because they know I can be value added to their campaigns. I can pick up independents, I can pick up liberals, as well as moderate Democrats.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: Before -- before you go, I want to ask you about the coronavirus.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president, as you know, is calling the Democrats' critique of his response a hoax. How would the overall response to this virus have been different if you were president?
BIDEN: It would have been fundamentally different. We set up a whole system in the Ebola virus and -- with the Ebola disease that we were all concerned about a trans-pandemic disease that existed.
And, look, right now you have this president, hasn't allowed his scientists to speak, number one. He has the vice president speaking, not the scientists who know what they're talking about, like Fauci.
Number two, they haven't even prepared a test kit to determine whether or not anybody has the virus. They're not even available. They say now they'll be available in -- in -- by the end of the week or next week. They haven't set up a pattern in how to proceed.
They don't -- they -- they've cut the funding for the CDC. They've cut the -- the Centers for Disease Control. They've cut the funding for -- they've tried to cut the funding for NIH, the National Institute of Health.
They have eliminated the office we set up -- we set up in the president's office to deal with pandemic diseases. This has been outrageous the way they proceeded. They should let the scientists speak.
I've been talking about this for a while, they haven't -- they don't even have a test kit. A test kit to determine whether or not someone has the disease.
Look, this is about knowing where it is, who has it, and how to deal with it. And I see -- I see no preparedness other than a political talking points, putting someone in charge who is not a scientist and not -- and muzzling the scientist.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Look --
BIDEN: Mr. Fauci's been here -- anyway, all the way back to the Bush administration. What's going on here?
This is not a Democratic hoax. This is incompetence on the part of the president of the United States at the expense of the country and the world.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Vice President, thanks for your time this morning.
BIDEN: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bernie Sanders is up next. We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In order to defeat Trump, we are going to need the largest voter turnout in the history of this country. And in my view, old-fashioned politics, the same old, same old type of politics that doesn't excite anybody, that doesn't energize anybody, that is not going to be the campaign that beats Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: There is Senator Bernie Sanders yesterday coming off South Carolina.
Senator Sanders, thanks for joining us this morning.
Old-fashioned politics. You talking about Joe Biden?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I could be. Yes, I am.
And -- but let's talk about South Carolina right now because, you know, we spoke the morning after South Carolina four years ago and you conceded that you have to do far better with African-American voters, who, of course, one of the cores of the Democratic Party. You didn't improve much yesterday. Why are you having so much trouble with African-American voters?
SANDERS: Well, it's not -- whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa, whoa, one -- one second, George. We did. We won the young African-American vote and we are winning in terms of polling, some national polling. We're actually ahead of Biden in terms of the African-American vote. So I think we are making --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he got more than 60 percent of the African-American vote last night.
SANDERS: Last night. No, Biden did very well last night. But we did win among younger African-Americans. And I think if you look at the national polling, in some cases we are beating him nationally and certainly among younger people. We are putting together, George, a coalition, a multiracial, multigenerational coalition of African-Americans, Latinos, whites, Native Americans, Asian Americans. We have the strongest grass roots movement.
We are raising more money from the grassroots than any candidate in the history of this country. In order to beat Trump, we are going to need the largest voter turnout in the history of this country. And I don't think you can do that unless you have a message that appeals to the working class and the middle class of this country who have been ignored to long by the political establishment, of which Joe Biden is part of.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You did -- you did raise a ton of money in -- in February, no question about that, $46.5 million.
But across the four primaries and caucuses so far, the Democrats have not seen that kind of increase in turnout you're calling for, the kind of turnout -- increase in turnout that you say is necessary. They haven't reached the numbers we saw in 2008.
SANDERS: Well, 2008 was an exceptional -- exceptional campaign. That was Barack Obama's extraordinary campaign.
But, New Hampshire had a record-breaking turnout last night, was a large turnout in Iowa where we won the popular vote. We saw a significant increase in young people's participation. And I think, you know, we'll see what happens on Tuesday. But my guess is that we have an excellent chance to win some of the largest states in this country and states all across this country because of the coalition that we're putting together, because of the issues that we are talking about.
You know, in America, people understand, there is something fundamentally wrong where we are the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all and where we pay, in some cases, 10 times more for the same exact prescription drugs as is paid in counter (ph) or in other countries.
So, I think the ideas that we have, the focus on climate change, the existential threat to this planet, is what the people of this country want to hear discussed.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: You’ve also called yourself an existential threat to the Democratic establishment. I guess that includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrats in the House and the Senate.
Don't you need their support to win in November?
One of the big pictures that Vice President Biden was just making is that he can help make sure Democrats hold on to the House, take back the Senate and that you're going to be a burden --
SANDERS: Look --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- for House Democrats and Democratic Senate candidates come November.
SANDERS: That’s absolutely untrue.
You know, the corporate wing of the Democratic Party, a group called Third Way, attacked me and they said we are existential -- I’m an existential threat to the Democratic Party. And what I said is, yes, I’m an existential threat to the corporate wing of the Democratic Party.
For too long, the Democratic Party and leaders have been going to rich people’s homes, raising money, and they've ignored the working class and the middle class and low-income people in this country. That has got to change.
We got to open the doors of the Democratic Party to millions and millions of people who are trying to get by on 12, 13 bucks an hour, who can't afford health care, can’t afford child care, who can’t afford to send their kids to college. Those are the people we have to start paying attention to.
I have known Nancy Pelosi for a very long time. I’m part of the Democratic leadership of the United States with Chuck Schumer. It is my view that every Democratic candidate for president, no matter who wins this nominating process -- clearly, I hope it’s me -- we're going to come together because we all understand that Donald Trump is the greatest threat to this country, in the modern history of this country. That he's a fraud, that he’s a liar, that he’s undermining American democracy.
We're going go have Democrats coming together, but the trick is, which candidate can reach out and bring new people into the political process, who can create the excitement and energy for young people to come in? I think that’s our campaign.
STEPHANOPOULOS: "The New York Times" reported this week that President Obama has told associates that it could be difficult to unify the party if you're the nominee?
SANDERS: I really don't think so.
Look, Trump is such a threat to our Constitution, to our way of life that while Democrats may have differences of opinion -- yes, I have differences with Joe Biden, no great secret. Joe voted for the war in Iraq. Joe voted for a bad bankruptcy bill. Joe voted for bad trade agreements.
But at end of the day, I have known Joe Biden for a very long time, he's a decent guy. I have no doubt that if I win, Joe will be there. If Joe ends up winning, I will be there.
We are going to come together -- and President Obama in my view, I -- he has (ph) said this, will play a leading role in helping whoever the Democratic nominee is.
We are facing in Donald Trump somebody who is a pathological liar, running a corrupt administration, every Democrat and millions of independents and a number of Republicans understand we cannot have somebody like Trump win re-election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The pres -- the president seems to be going out of his way to help you. He had a tweet last night at 11:45 saying Democrats are working hard to destroy the name and reputation of crazy Bernie Sanders and take the nomination away from him.
His allies in South Carolina were encouraging Republicans to go to polls in South Carolina and vote for you.
What is that about and do you accept his help?
SANDERS: No, I don't accept his help. I’m going to do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump.
Look, Trump -- you know, I got to tell you a story here which blows me away, shows what kind of person we have as president.
In the midst of this coronavirus, a real threat to our country and the world, all over the world, governments are trying to figure out how they can deal with this crisis, you know where Donald Trump was the other day? He was in South Carolina trying to undermine the Democratic primary. He has no opposition in South Carolina. That's why he was there.
How pathetic it is that in the midst of an international healthcare crisis, you got a president running into South Carolina trying to steal some media attention away from Democrats.
But at the end of the day, look, I think some of Trump's advisers have made this clear, they are afraid of a movement, and what our campaign is about is building that multiracial, multigenerational movement of millions of working-class people, middle class people, lower-income people, who finally want us to have a government that represents all of us, not just wealthy campaign contributors.
And, George, it's not just that we're raising a lot of money, we are. It’s how we are raising that money. It’s $18.50 is our average contribution. That speaks to the kind of grassroots support --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator --
SANDERS: -- we have in this country. Almost 2 million Americans have made that contribution.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator, you and your supporters have said the candidate with the most pledged delegates going to the convention should be the nominee. That’s a pretty clear contrast with the position you took four years ago. Here you are in May 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I hope that we will win the pledged delegates.
But, at the end of the day, the responsibility that superdelegates have is to decide what is best for this country and what is best for the Democratic Party.
And if those superdelegates conclude that Bernie Sanders is the best candidate, the strongest candidate to defeat Trump and anybody else, yes, I would very much welcome their support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: If that argument was correct then, why isn't it correct now?
SANDERS: George, that was in May. California, the last primary, was in June.
And what I said is, at that point, if I can great -- create momentum, and if we win the California primary, then I think superdelegates might want to rethink where we're at. That was before the end of the process.
What you're asking me now is if, at the end the entire Democratic process, a candidate, maybe Bernie Sanders, ends up with more votes than anybody else, and we go into the convention, and the Democratic establishment and the superdelegates say, hey, yes, Bernie won more votes than anybody else, he won state after state after state, but we don't want him, you know what that will do to the Democratic base in this country?
People will say, why -- you are rejecting the candidate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Senator -- but, Senator -- but, Senator, on several occasions -- on several occasions back in 2016, you refused to say -- you refused to say that. You refused to say that whoever had the pledged delegate lead should be the nominee.
SANDERS: No, George, I think you're missing the point here.
What I said -- that was before California. After California, after Hillary Clinton won the pledged delegates, I did not go to any superdelegate. It was over. We conceded the election, and that -- we supported Hillary Clinton.
So that is my point. I'm not being inconsistent with what I said in 2016.
But I want you to think about it for a moment. If we go into Milwaukee, into the Democratic Convention with a lead, having won many, many states, having won the people's vote, and that is reversed at the convention, how do you think people all over this country are going to feel?
Do you think, really, that will give us the unity? You talked about unity. We need unity.
If you reject the candidate who has the most votes from the people, and you win it through superdelegates and the Democratic establishment and the corporate wing of the Democratic Party, do you think you're going to have the energy and the excitement and the grassroots movement to defeat Donald Trump?
I honestly don't think you will.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Sanders, thanks for your time this morning.
SANDERS: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next: As the coronavirus continues to spread, we're going to get the latest from Health Secretary Azar.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Health Secretary Alex Azar is up next with the latest on the Coronavirus spread.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. One of my people came up to me and said, Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia. That didn't work out too well. They couldn't do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. And this is their new hoax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: President Trump in South Carolina on Friday night.
We're now joined by one of his point people to fight the virus, the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us this morning.
I know the president said he was talking about the Democrats' response there, but is it appropriate for him in any way to be using the word “hoax” in the context of this crisis?
ALEX AZAR, SECRETARY OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES: Well, he's talking about the partisan sniping that we're seeing. And that's just -- it's unnecessary. We don't need to have this made a political issue. We're in a public health crisis here. We need to all be banding together.
And, you know, we're working on this emergency supplemental bill in Congress. And we're getting bipartisan support on that. So I -- I've got a lot of hope that we can get things back to us all working together on this.
And the most important thing is that we're all communicating to the American people so they understand what we're dealing with, that -- that the risk to any individual American is low, that we've been working to keep it low. We're going to see more cases. We're seeing some community spreading. But they've got the finest public health system in the world and the finest public health experts who are on it. This is what we do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to put up the CDC definition of a pandemic up on the screen right now. It says the pandemic refers to an epidemic that is spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.
You know, the virus is in at least 60 countries right now, every continent except Antarctica, more than 87,000 cases, almost 3,000 deaths.
That certainly does seem to meet the CDC definition of a pandemic.
AZAR: You know, I'm going to leave it to the World Health Organization to decide if we're there. But we're not changing anything that we are doing because of whether somebody labels it this, that, or the other. We're following the science, the evidence, and the epidemiology. We wouldn't do one thing differently if somebody slapped that word on it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mention the transmission now inside communities. We have this acute problem in Washington State right now. They've declared a state of emergency, the first death. And the real -- and real concern there that the virus may have been spreading for weeks.
In your judgment, has that been happening? Are they doing enough to stop it? How many cases are we likely to see there?
AZAR: Well, we've always believed, and we've said publicly from day one that we would see more cases, that we would see spreading here in the United States. And this is exactly what we've been predicting all along.
We are deployed out there with the state of Washington and local authorities. They've got, really, one of the best public health departments in the country and in the world in the state of Washington and in King County there in Seattle. We're working closely. We're trying to discern, how did these individuals contract the novel coronavirus?
We're ramping up testing. You know, we now have 75,000 tests available out there in the United States. And over the next week that will expand radically on top of 75,000 tests available.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We just heard Vice President Biden criticize the administration for -- for the slowness in getting that testing fully operational. Why has it taken so long?
AZAR: Well, we've already tested over 3,600 people here in the United States. I'm not sure what he meant when he said there's no lab kit, because we, with historic speed, the CDC developed a lab test. I -- we granted emergency use authorization to it at FDA. We promulgated it out in the country.
There was a third element to the initial test, because we do believe in quality testing here in the United States. There was a third element to the test that was specific to all coronaviruses. Some labs were unable to replicate and validate their own performance on that. CDC never had trouble with that.
So we've always been open for business at CDC for testing. We've had full through-put. We've had no delays on testing there. But as of Wednesday, we authorized over 40 labs to use the test with only the first two elements of that specific to the novel coronavirus.
Yesterday morning, we've authorized home-brew tests by certified clinical labs around the country. As I said, we now have 75 -- the ability to test 75,000 people in the field at this moment. And that will increase radically over the next couple of weeks.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it time for -- for broader surveillance, testing in communities, taking in people who may not be showing symptoms?
AZAR: Well, right now it's important that we test people who have any type of respiratory illness -- respiratory symptoms that is unidentified. And that's why we -- we, a week ago had -- or actually a week-and-a-half ago expanded to six key cities -- Seattle, San Francisco, L.A., Honolulu, Chicago, and New York -- that if anyone's tested for flu, they also will be tested for novel coronavirus. That is a key part of our emergency supplementals.
I want to expand that kind of surveillance testing nationwide. As soon as Congress gets us the money. that will be out there throughout the country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Tom Bossert, who was President Trump's first Homeland Security adviser, and led the efforts to develop bio-preparedness strategy when he was there, has called this corona spread an iceberg. He says we're only seeing a small number of cases because of its asymptomatic spread.
Is it time to consider more aggressive community-wide measures like closures and other measures like that?
ALEX AZAR, SECRETARY OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES: Well, George, you are correct that with asymptomatic spreading, which we've seen some evidence of, but not the major driver. Dr. Fauci has said with respiratory illnesses you'll see sometimes asymptomatic spreading, but that is very -- very odd if that were to be the driver of large-scale infection.
You really need to just focus on the individuals that are symptomatic. And you do the classic blocking and tackling of public health: identify cases, get them diagnosed, get them treated, get them isolated, and then do the contact tracing, and then engage in, as you just talked about, the types of community mitigation measures that bring this down, slow contact with individuals, social distancing, the full armamentarium. But it really does depend on symptomatic presentation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Should Americans be prepared for a dramatic increase in cases and more disruptions to their daily lives?
AZAR: I think it's very important that we treat the American people like adults and explain to them that we don't know where this will go, that we will see more cases, that we will see continued community spreading in the United States, as we're seeing around the world.
How big that gets, we do not know. But we have the most advanced public health system and surveillance system in the world. We are actively working on a vaccine. We are actively working on therapeutics. The diagnostic is out in the field.
And we're going to work to protect the American people with every tool that we've got.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Secretary, thank you for your time this morning.
AZAR: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The “Roundtable” is up next.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- a third of America is voting.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's on to Super Tuesday, which is less than 72 hours from now, and we're going stun the world.
MIKE BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we're going to beat Donald Trump in November, then we need to take him on in swing states like North Carolina.
ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My campaign is built for the long haul and we are looking forward to these big contests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Everyone looking ahead to Super Tuesday right there.
Let's talk about it with our roundtable, joined by Chris Christie, former Republican governor of New Jersey; Heidi Heitkamp, she served as a Democratic senator from North Dakota; our chief political analyst, Matthew Dowd; and Yvette Simpson, CEO of Democracy for America.
Matt, let me begin with you.
How much did the race change last night?
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: A ton. I mean, this race has changed in 30 days time in so many different directions. We had a front-runner Joe Biden to begin with. And we lost a front-runner, we had no front-runner, and we had a weak front-runner, then we had a strong front-runner and then we had a weak front-runner with Bernie Sanders again, and that’s been in 30 days.
And as what you’re lead in said, we’re about to choose 1,400 delegates from around the country in some of the biggest states. Here (ph), this race, I’ve said as -- as I’ve said from the beginning, is going to be filled with twists and turns, and it’s going to continue to be filled with twists and turns.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Tuesday night, Yvette, is such a huge night. You got basically a third of the Democratic delegates in play.
YVETTE SIMPSON, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It does appear that Bernie Sanders is going to get the majority of the delegates that night but still has real pockets of weakness, especially in the African-American community.
SIMPSON: You know, particularly among older African-Americans. And I think South Carolina really exposed that weakness. The fact that over 40 voters who are African-American overwhelmingly supported Joe Biden.
Now, it’s (ph) South Carolina. South Carolina's a little different. They’re a little more moderate, a little more religious, a little bit more conservative and resistant to change.
But I do think he has a lot of work still to do among older African-American voters. And we’ll see how that translates to places like Alabama, Mississippi. We know that Alabama votes --
SIMPSON: -- on Super Tuesday, Tennessee as well, Virginia. And in later contests, how that works across the South.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It does, Heidi Heitkamp, appear that this is moving toward a two-person race.
HEIDI HEITKAMP, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think, once we get into a binary situation, I think you're going to see these numbers continue to percolate and evolve.
But, last night, let's admit it, it was a great night for Joe Biden. He got a big bump. I think he told you, George, that he got $5 million overnight. That's an infusion that he desperately needed.
And I think it's really important not to look at who's winning each one of these primaries, but how many delegates are they getting? How many delegates are being allocated?
And if you can't break 30 percent in a Democratic primary, should you really be the nominee of the Democratic Party, when 60 percent or 70 percent of the rest of the Democratic Party says, we want someone other than you?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's going to be the argument that plays out over the next several months.
And it appears Chris Christie, like President Trump, wants to play a role in that process every chance he gets.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he wants to play -- he wants to play a role in everything, George.
CHRISTIE: That's the president. He wants to play a role in everything. He wants to be in the center of attention all the time. So that's no surprise.
I will tell you that -- as I watched that tonight, what I -- what I'm thinking is, it might be a little bit, too little too late for Joe Biden, in this respect, that a lot of people have already voted who are going to vote on Tuesday.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Especially in California.
CHRISTIE: Right, but in a lot of other places too.
I mean, early voting is pretty much the norm now across the country in terms of it being available. And a lot of people will have voted well before they saw that big win last night.
And the $5 million overnight is great, but it doesn't mean anything for Tuesday. It means something for beyond Tuesday. So, I think Bernie Sanders will have a big night on Tuesday night. It won't be determinative.
I think the real key is, who else is going to drop out after Tuesday night? Is Elizabeth Warren going to stay in? Is Mayor Pete going to stay in? Is Amy Klobuchar going to stay in?
Those are the questions, because the more consolidation there is -- it goes to Heidi's point -- which, the more it gets to a binary choice, that's when people really get to make a determination.
DOWD: Though, George, I think one of the things we have learned -- we have learned a lot of things in this process, but one of the things we have learned to is, is that we -- you can't capture what's going on right before.
Nobody expected, I don't think anybody expected in the last 72 hours leading up to South Carolina...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Forty-eight percent of the vote, Joe Biden.
DOWD: ... that he would win by 29 points. Nobody expected that.
And I think it's such a little amount of time between now and Tuesday. It's going to be hard to capture what's going to be going on in all these states across the country of what happened in South Carolina.
I think, every poll before now, you can ignore.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Yvette, one of the big questions is going to be for Biden, over these next 72 hours, is that cluster of states across the South...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If he gets the kind of percentage of the black vote that he got in South Carolina, he actually could have a pretty decent night.
SIMPSON: He could.
But the question is, is there a Jim Clyburn that's willing to put their name on him that has that kind of infrastructure?
I don't think that there's any state like South Carolina where he's going to get that kind of momentum. We're already seeing some CBC surrogates who are coming out for him. You're going to see more black leaders, older black leaders, starting to come out. But will that be enough in that short period of time? I just don't know.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Heidi, the argument is just crystallizing, the argument that has been going on through this primary process, but really crystallized when it comes down to Biden and Sanders
And you heard it on the air right there, Bernie saying, the way we're going to win is bringing all these new voters into the process, Biden saying, if you go with Bernie, you're going to be hurting Democrats who are running for the House, running for the Senate.
Well, let me tell you, there's an old adage, give me an older voter over a young prospective voter any day. Older voters will show up. They will actually perform, and they will be loyal, and won't switch their mind, and will show up on Election Day.
I think it's important to not just look at what's happening in the primaries. This all happens not in a vacuum. We have got the coronavirus. We had a bad interview for Senator Sanders, I think, on "60 Minutes," where a lot of people kind of went, whoa, maybe that's not...
STEPHANOPOULOS: The support for Castro.
And you had Joe Biden with that beautiful moment with the pastor in South Carolina reminding people what they really liked about him. And so this is an emotional choice that people are going to make.
I think Elizabeth is going to do better. And I will go out on a limb. She's going to do better than what people think she's going to do, because...
STEPHANOPOULOS: She might get beat in Massachusetts by Bernie Sanders.
HEITKAMP: But she's never been popular in Massachusetts.
If you look at her favorability ratings...
STEPHANOPOULOS: She's the senator.
HEITKAMP: ... they have never been high in Massachusetts. She wins there, but she's a national political figure.
And I think, when women, especially young women, look that the choice is only going to be between older white men, I think women may come out and say, we got to make a statement for someone. And I think...
DOWD: But that's been the -- that's been the choice for Elizabeth Warren in four contests, and she's gotten 8 percent in every one.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, except now there's a third older white man who is going to be on the ballot on Tuesday.
SIMPSON: A lot of money too.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Bloomberg is still the big X-factor.
He was actually facing some pressure from Biden allies overnight to get out before Super Tuesday.
CHRISTIE: Well, he spent $500 million, $600 million. He's not getting out before they vote on Super Tuesday. There's no chance he will do that.
And I think that -- but I do also think that Mike Bloomberg is a practical guy. I don't think he's in this for an emotional reason, except to beat Donald Trump.
So, I think, if Bloomberg sees, after Tuesday, that he really hasn't gotten any traction -- and you know I have been saying from the beginning, Democratic voters are not going to vote for Mike Bloomberg. They're just not. He's a Republican. At his his values are, outside of gun control and climate, he's a Republican. And he has been a Republican, then he's an independent, now he's a Democrat, because it's convenient. I think Democratic voters are seeing that. They're feeling that. South Carolina clearly -- you saw his numbers -- we saw in the exit polls, 26/66 fav/unfav in South Carolina where he did do advertising even though he wasn't on the ballot.
So, I think Bloomberg has got some big choices to make on Wednesday depending on what happens Tuesday. But I think Matt's right, any of the polls that we've seen up until now don't really matter. And we're going to see what the new dynamic means to those voters, the ones who haven't voted already when they go to the polls Tuesday.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And one of the big questions is going to be, Matthew Dowd, what Mike Bloomberg, if he doesn't do as well as he's hoping on Tuesday what he does with his money going forward.
DOWD: Well, I mean, certainly, that you're going to have to reassess -- we have to all reassess how much money really matters in this race. I mean, Tom Steyer just spent a quarter of a billion dollars and didn't even make the threshold in South Carolina. He outspent Joe Biden 18-1 in South Carolina. So, I think that's one of the questions we have to ask.
I think this Democratic race, go to something that Nikki (ph) said, it is -- has three fundamental questions now that we're basically down to a two-person race. First, Joe Biden raised it, electability. Who is the best candidate to go up against Donald Trump and who can retain the most people in this race? It's do voters want incremental change? All candidates are for change. Anybody running against an incumbent is a change candidate. Do you want incremental change or do you want more fundamental change to the nature of the economy?
And third, there's an emotional choice here. There's an emotional choice between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden? And do you want somebody that sort of full of that anger, full of that fervor, full of that willing to take Donald Trump on and the whole system on or do you want somebody that's calm, relaxed, we can do this? I want to bring the country together, and I think the Democratic Party has to ask themselves on those three choices who is the best one.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that even if Bernie does have a good night on Tuesday, it looks like he'll be on track for a plurality at the convention, but not the majority. This question really could be met in Milwaukee where you have someone going into Milwaukee with a lead, but not a majority and then who knows what happens.
SIMPSON: Absolutely. And I think the longer you get these moderate corporate Democrats staying in, the more likely that happens, right. So, you've got more people splitting the vote, so that means you'll probably -- he's not going to get nearly as many delegates.
I think he said it early, you know, Bernie Sanders himself, that you don't want to appear to be robbing the folks who have been voting for this candidate all along of their chance. And so if you have -- you know, on a second ballot, you know, the super delegates decide they're going to replace the person who going into the contest has the most votes, you're...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that was his strategy in 2016.
SIMPSON: I don't think that's true. I was hoping he was going to set the record straight in the interview. His original position was that he did not want super delegates at all. And that was not going to fly, right. So so they started to negotiate. That's how we got to the second vote, 500 super delegates on the second vote. That was a negotiated point.
You know, we really do, as a party, need to get more to a Democratic process where you go through all these contests, all these people come out and vote. You've got all these delegates and then that can be erased by 500...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But he got the process he asked for.
SIMPSON: He got the process he negotiated to. The original position was, eliminate all super delegates, which honestly I think is a conversation we should have. Why do we through all of the rigmarole of all of these contests when 500 people can decide in Milwaukee that they're going to vote for someone else on the second ballot.
HEITKAMP: Let's ignore for a minute the super delegates. If he comes in and he only has 40 percent of the pledged delegates and then...
SIMPSON: More than any other candidate.
HEITKAMP: I don't care whether it's any other, and 60 percent of the other pledged delegates say we're going to go with Joe Biden, is that unfair.
SIMPSON: It does seem unfair to me.
SIMPSON: Absolutely, because going into the contest that person didn't have those votes.
DOWD: George, this is a -- this is...
SIMPSON: What it's doing is promoting elite over everybody -- sorry, I'm really passionate about this...
DOWD: Let me get an analogy here, this is a nine-inning -- the process of selecting a nominee is a nine-inning game, right. Bernie Sanders' argument is, that if they're ahead after the seventh inning we should call the game that the -- because the process is, if you don't have enough delegates the other delegates can get together and say this is who we want before you even get to the convention, whoever has got delegate -- that Elizabeth Warren or Pete Buttigieg or whatever can see I want my delegates to vote for X candidate, that's part of the game.
And the super delegates are part of the game. You can act like you don't want them, just like people want to talk about the electoral college, but that's the process.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris Christie, I think you're happy to stay out of this conversation now, but it's against...
CHRISTIE: Oh, I'll be in Milwaukee.
But, you know, one of the things I think is really interesting, we talked about, and we started this at the beginning, we talked about the Democratic primary being the most diverse from an ethnic and racial and gender perspective. Here's what we got, the three main people for Tuesday -- are three white men between the ages of 77 and 78, that's the diversity we've got in this Democratic primary. And -- and so, you know, I think there's a lot that needs to be looked at in terms of the process if, in fact, the Democratic Party wants to be reflective of their voters.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the --
YVETTE SIMPSON, DEMOCRACY FOR AMERICA CEO AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the energy of the party, right? Is Joe Biden really going to be able to build the infrastructure, get people energized?
I mean we saw what happened in 2016. Yes, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but she did nothing -- nowhere close of what Obama was able to do in energizing and expanding the electorate and getting people to come (ph). And we need that to win.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But even Bernie Sanders -- even Bernie Sanders conceded in the interview that he hasn't been Obama yet either in trying to organize and energize new voters. It hasn't been happening.
SIMPSON: Well, two of the contests we actually did exceed '08.
HEIDI HEITKAMP, FORMER NORTH DAKOTA SENATOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Let -- let -- let's look at New Hampshire. Let's look at New Hampshire. Bernie -- Bernie got 152,000 votes in New Hampshire.
HEITKAMP: He got half of that in the last New Hampshire primary. So not only did he not perform as well as he did in '16, he really underperformed.
And -- and the whole point of this -- and you -- you know, you accuse us all the time, Chris, of playing identical politics, but we have three different people with three different ideas on how to run the country. And what Democrats are picking is the idea on where we are going to head in this country in terms of public policy. And the difference between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden is pretty stark in terms of Medicare for all, in terms of what we're going to do, in terms of kind of tax structure.
And so they -- you know, the bottom line is, you do have diversity. You have diversity of ideas, which is a great diversity.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things we were reminded again this week is that anything can happen, Matt Dowd. We saw this huge drop in the stock market as coronavirus continues to spread. That creates quite a different background for the potential -- potentially in a general election.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is a global crisis and I think it focuses on what kind of leadership do we want in America in the midst of a global crisis. On one hand -- so that's going to -- that raises huge concerns. It's take -- the economy's taken a major hit, which has been what's held Donald Trump to his 43 or 44 percent. If that disappears, it's a huge problem for him.
And, third, I think it raises the concerns about what we're not doing on health care in this country and infrastructure.
DOWD: Because we're not funding rural hospitals, whether this is going to be front and center. We're basically providing health care through -- through emergency rooms because of a system that we don't have access and affordability to. And so that issue of health care is going to be huge.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president did seem concerned this week.
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I think he should be. You know, this is a -- this is a significant crisis to deal with and he should be -- he should be concerned about it. And I think he is concerned about it.
And, listen, he's not going to change who he is, OK? So we've had this conversation dozens of times. He's not going to ring the bells and yell and scream like it's a crisis because he doesn't think that's in his interest to do.
But when you listen to Dr. Fauci -- and I -- and I heard, you know, Biden -- Vice President Biden, who I like, but, you know, trying to say that somehow these people have been muzzled. I saw Fauci give complete answers, full answers, and very, very smart answers --
STEPHANOPOULOS: At yesterday's press conference.
CHRISTIE: At yesterday's press conference, as did the head of the CDC. So they're engaged and they're ready to go. And -- and the fact is, we'll see how this all plays out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all we have time for today. Thank you all very much.
Thanks to you for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Tune in Tuesday night at 8:00 Eastern, I'll be anchoring our special coverage of those 15 contests on Super Tuesday all through the night with our whole political team. And I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."