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tv   New Day With Alisyn Camerota and John Berman  CNN  February 19, 2020 5:00am-6:00am PST

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gone to well-connected offenders who had not filed petitions with the pardon office or did not meet its requirements. according to analysis by "the washington post." so to recap, the crimes that trump pardoned include corruption, obstruction of justice, perjury, tax fraud, wire fraud and bribery. these are many of the same offenses that trump associatesd. he has a right to pardon himself but we'll just have to take trump at his word that he hasn't thought about pardoning roger stone. a president may frequently pardon crimes which were advised by himself. it may happen at some future date that will establish a monarchy and destroy the republic. they called an emergency meeting to discuss interventions in sensitively political cases including roger stone. we're watching the president abuse his pardoning powers and laying the groundwork for the pardoning of more political cronies by defining deviency down. this is the opposite of draining
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the swamp. it's simply restocking. and that's your reality check. >> thank you, john. thank you to our international viewers. "newsroom" is next for you. for our u.s. viewers, "new day" continues right now. >> this is "new day" with alisyn camerota and john berman. >> good morning. welcome to your "new day." it is wednesday, february 19th, 8:00 in the east. tonight, a critical test for the six top democrats. a presidential debate that could make or break any one of them. former new york city mayor mike bloomberg making his first appearance on a debate stage in more than a decade. joining him will be the current front-runner bernie sanders and joe biden who is hoping for a bounce. also amy klobuchar, pete buttigieg and elizabeth warren. there's a new poll out overnight and it shows bernie sanders now with a commanding lead. >> president trump will spend part of his day in nevada as well. perh perhaps to deflect attention
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from the democrats. cnn learned the attorney general told people he has considered resigning over the president's interference in justice department matters. has considered, maybe is considering. it's not exactly clear. it's not exactly clear if this is serious or if it's all part of a show, maybe to make himself look better or to send a message to the president. why the message? because the president has defied or ignored the attorney general's request to keep quiet about law enforcement cases. this comment from the president clearly not helping matters. >> i'm actually -- i guess the chief law enforcement officer of the country. >> meanwhile, the president just pardoned or commuted the sentences of 11 people, including some personal friends, a former apprentice guest and many big-dollar donors. >> we begin with the race for the presidency and the big debate tonight. joining us now, cnn political
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correspondent arlette saenz and joshua green, cillizza. arlette, tell us what it's looking like from the ground. >> flrks just a few hours, there could be a democratic debate brawl as these candidates are already taking aim at michael bloomberg. we've heard them accuse him of trying to buy the election. this comes as michael bloomberg will be standing on that debate stage for the first time. and he could take quite a bit of incoming fire. people have been signaling some of the issues that they might touch on. joe biden saying that bloomberg has questions to answer when it comes to stop and frisk policy. he's been arguing that bloomberg -- it's time bloomberg come under scrutiny, his record. you've heard over and over these candidates talk about how
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michael bloomberg is also spending millions of his own personal money in this election. it's not just michael bloomberg that's going to be a focus. there's also bernie sanders who is polling ahead with a double digit lead in a series of new national polls. this could also be a time where bernie sanders comes under fire from some of his rivals who are trying to head off his rise. i think another person that needs to have a very strong debate tonight is joe biden. he's had shaky debate performances in the past. and right now, he's really hoping for a turn around here in nevada after the disappointing finishes in iowa and new hampshire. a lot is at stake for that debate. >> so people have a sense of where the race stands, this is the latest cnn poll of polls which clearly shows bernie sanders out in front. way out in front in the democratic race at 28% on average. you can see everyone else bunched down below 16%. josh, you have some new reporting on something arlette was referring to which is that bernie sanders is the front-runner now.
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you'd think that would make him a targ oet on the debate stage. yet former senator harry reid says this may be the last chance democrats get to take on bernie sanders. >> i profiled senator reid in the current issue and talked to him about his state of the race. and one constant, one message he gave to me was, look, i talked to a lot of the current democratic candidates. they call me for advice, their thoughts. one thing that's clearly weighing on their mind is the strength of bernie sanders and reid told me what he told them. if you don't like the fact that bernie has emerged as the front-runner, you'll have to speak up and confront it directly. all the candidates will get a chance to do that on stage tonight. >> what are you watching for, chris cillizza? >> i will -- i think joe biden, we barely talk about him anymore, but if he doesn't come in first or second in nevada, i thinkne he's in danger in south
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carolina. he's the former vice president of the united states who two weeks ago we were saying was still the front-runner in national polling. i think bloomberg is likely to face a lot of incoming tonight. first time on the debate stage. he's the new guy in the race. he's now up to third nationally. second in some polling. which is interesting because that would be a huge benefit to bernie sanders if bloomberg wound up being the focus of the night. to josh's point. bernie sanders is clearly the front-runner here. and he has a group of people who are going to be for him. if bloomberg takes most of the hits, bernie is spared some of them and he winds up walking away and winning nevada. >> josh, you trying to get in there? >> the other person who has a huge incentive to go after bloomberg is elizabeth warren. here's a former front-runner who has fallen way back in the pack but whose entire candidacy is based on issues of money and politics and corruption, all the things she talks about. if you're elizabeth warren
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looking for a recovery, you couldn't find a better foil than bloomberg. now warren held back at the last debate. amy klobuchar was the one who came out more aggressive. clearly that paid off for klobuchar in new hampshire. tonight we'll see, does warren try to follow that same playbook now that she'll have a billionaire on stage across from her. >> everyone is talking about bloomberg. we saw that last night in the town halls. this is just a taste of what they're talking about. >> do you think michael bloomberg is trying to buy the democratic nomination? >> yes. >> i actually thought he should be on the debate stage because i don't think you should just be able to buy your way to the presidency. >> he said, i don't have to do that. i'm worth $60 billion. i have more wealth than the bottom 125 million americans. i'll buy the presidency. that offends me very much. >> and not only that, chris, but we just had bianna joy-gray, the press secretary for the sanders campaign. she refused to say whether
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michael bloomberg would be a better president than donald trump. just refused to weigh in on that at all. and the other thing is bloomberg has had multiple heart attacks. i don't think that's right. >> i did -- just so you know, because i saw that interview and thought the same thing. two things. great interview. two, it's not a smear campaign to ask about detailed health records from a 78-year-old man who would be the oldest president in american hiftrey to be elected to a first term and who had a heart attack in the fall. and three, my search on google news and everything else i could search while sitting here suggests that michael bloomberg has an irregular heartbeat for which he's been diagnosed in the past, but at least my initial searches, maybe i'm wrong. maybe it will turn up on the stump. but i didn't see that. i think you got to be really careful to start throwing those sorts of claims around. and again, bernie sanders, oldest person to ever be elected if he wins, and he had a heart attack on the campaign trail in
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the fall. i have seen -- this is not a partisan thing. i've seen critics from the left and the right of sanders in the last 24 hours since he answered that question in our town hall and said i'm not going to give up any more medical records. i've seen critics emerge on both sides. this is the treatment you get when you're the front-runner, the most likely person to be the democratic nominee to be president against donald trump. and i think it's still an open question. it's not a place bernie sanders has ever been before. he's always been the guy charging at the window. not the dog who caught the car. he is at the moment in the race. early indications are not great. >> what does that mean? >> i just think when you have someone who is a national press person saying it's a smear campaign to ask about the medical records of a man who is 78 and had a heart attack three months ago, that's not a smear campaign. i've seen smear campaigns in politics. that ain't one. >> and if you laughed at president trump releasing a letter from his doctor saying
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all is a-okay, then a letter from a democratic candidate doesn't pass muster either. we're not even -- pete buttigieg has got even, obviously, before these past couple of weeks, so much attention. amy klobuchar has gotten so much attention since new hampshire, and we're not even talking about them because of bloomberg's entrance onto the stage. but there are a lot of people to watch tonight. >> yeah, and michael bloomberg certainly has been sucking a lot of the oxygen up in this conversation. but you're right. pete buttigieg and amy klobuchar both came out of new hampshire with very strong showings. but here haven't been as involved in the debate. they've both shown a bit of a willingness to go after michael bloomberg. one other thing about bloomberg is, this is really his first major test up against his rivals face-to-face. he hasn't debated in quite some time while the other democrats on stage have been through this
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rodeo a few times now. so there are some questions about how michael bloomberg will meet the moment as he stands on that debate stage. he's been preparing with his advisers, holding some mock debate prep sessions. top advisers playing some of the other candidates on stage. so i think they are very prepared. he could become the target of a lot of incoming fire tonight. and it really could come from any of a number of candidates on that stage. >> josh, last word on all of this. >> i think the interesting question tonight is going to be, who do democrats by and large go after? do you go after the front-runner who is surging in bernie sanders or do you go after the new guy with a lot of momentum and money who it would be advantageous for a lot of the candidates to attack. warren and sanders because they're lefties and he stands for everything that they're against? or joe biden who is fighting to maintain his role as the electable moderate in the race at a time when bloomberg seems to be pushing -- we'll have to
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tune in and see. >> indeed we will. >> josh, chris, arlette, thank you. a lot more going on in nevada after tonight. two more town halls tomorrow night. joe biden 8:00 p.m. followed by elizabeth warren at 9:00 p.m. with the nevada caucuses just days away now, are there still problems with this app that counts votes? what's the plan for nevada to avoid the debacle that we saw in iowa? we ask, next. ♪ we only come out at night ♪ we only come out at night ♪ ♪ i walk alone ♪ i'll pretend to know the way ♪ ♪ we only come out at night ♪ ♪ we only come out at night ♪
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following the debacle with the iowa caucuses, the nevada democratic party has its own concerns about vote counting for saturday's caucuses there. cnn got an inside look at how election officials will tabulate the results, i hope well. dianne gallagher live in las vegas with the latest on this. what did you find out? >> yeah, john, some people come to las vegas for the slot machines. i come for the caucus calculator. and we've really wanted to get our chance to take a look at this. we weren't allowed to use cameras. las vegas here right now, they've been working in nevada on this caucus calculator for the last two and a half weeks after they had to abandon the apps they were originally using in the wake of iowa. my initial impressions are, look, it was relatively user friendly. a bit clunky in certain areas. you had to toggle between the letter keyboard and the number
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keyboard to input the number of people who were in the room with each candidate. but that really was the most -- the thing that stood out the most to me in terms in usability that may have gotten in the way. it had plenty of prompts and additional slides when you went through that told you to check your work and then fill it out on the math worksheet. the part we've been very concerned about and the campaigns have been concerned about was this early vote caucusing, the preference ranking, how that was going to work on this calculator. they showed up on our demo as these preload results. we didn't see anything except the preloaded results on the caucus calculator. we took those and put them on the math sheet. you don't really get any details. they do provide you these lists showing you by like voter number, not identifying them, how many and how they rank if you had candidate a, candidate b or c in what order. they may have to use that if the
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ipads go down. that's going to be longer and far more cumbersome. alisyn, caucusing is a cumbersome process to begin with. this could potentially make it easier, but the key is, if it works. >> i'm not sure you're comforting me, dianne. i'm glad you gave it this dry run and i think that's really important, but this involves math. and i hope that the precinct captains are prepared to have to do these calculations. >> and i think that they are prepared to do these calculations. they have the worksheet which lists the formula there. and then they do have the calculator which does the math for you. that was a little easier for myself and some of the other people doing this, alisyn. the key is going to be whether or not if they don't have the ipad if it goes down, they can do the math themselves. that's something they were going to have to do whether they had this calculator application or not. there is math involved in caucusing. some of the volunteers we've spoken with since they've taken some of these classes that have
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given them an idea of how the application is going to work and i'm sorry, not application, the calculator is going to work, their fears are being alleviated and they're feeling better caucus day but it all rests on if this calculator goes through and works on caucus day. >> thank you very much for going through the process and explaining all of that to us. joining us now from las vegas is tom perez, the chairman of the democratic national committee. tom, great to see you this morning. you just heard -- >> always a pleasure to be with you. >> great to have you. you heard dianne gallagher's reporting from trying the technology herself, from talking to the precinct captains. can you assure our viewers and americans today that nevada will go smoothly? >> i have a lot of confidence in nevada. a really, really strong party. we have gone to school on the lessons of iowa. we're as low tech as humanly possible while still preserving efficiency. we had -- one of the problems in
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iowa was we had a lot of volunteers who had to do back of the envelope math. the caucus calculator is a simple tool. it's an off-the-shelf tool that enables them to do that math. i'll tell you, the math of the first -- of the early voting phase has been remarkable. first three days there were 36,000 early voters. we had 84,000 total participants in 2016. and that 36,000 doesn't include yesterday which i think may be the biggest day of them all. so what people understand is, and i have been -- i was in a number of sites. i just want to get this president ourkts it, i'm here. i don't mind waiting was democracy is priceless and we've held over a thousand trainings for over 3,000 volunteers. we continue to train them. going to school in iowa, making sure the story saturday night is the candidates, not the process.
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that's our goal. >> understood. and, tom, have you personally given this technology a dry run? >> it is much more user friendly. we had a tabulation app. there's no app. during the early voting, people were voting on paper. so it was very easy. if you were limited english proficient, you could vote in spanish. if you're filipino, you could vote using a tagalon ballot. and i underscore there's been over 1,000 trainings. i participated in one probably two or three months ago, and we've redoubled our efforts every single day. i used to be, you know, an amateur carpenter in my spare time. thrones old adage, measure twice, cut once. we're measuring three and four times making sure people are trained, trained again and trained again. anyone who is not comfortable, we'll train you until you are.
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this is a very strong party. under harry reid's leadership, we've been electing democrats here because the party leadership has been strong for some time. we're ready for this and the excitement around this town. 84,000 participants four years ago. and we're going to get over half of that just in the early vote. and so the enthusiasm has carried over from new hampshire where we had record turnout there. that's what it's about. >> yes, yeah, of course. >> talking about getting rifd this president. >> of course it's about enthusiasm and it's about turnout. that's really important. but it's also just making sure it works. and the reason i'm challenging you so much is because just yesterday the reporting from cnn, dianne gallagher, who was our correspondent that you just heard, did talk to some precinct captains. this is just yesterday. and this is what one said. one precinct captain tells cnn they've had more than four hours of nevada democratic provided training in person and webinars and they feel they have not
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gotten all the information they need for saturday. quote, they keep telling me, well, we'll get back to you. we'll get back to you. we'll get back to you. and i'm like, it's saturday, guys. so i just want to make sure that as of today, you think everybody has had the training that they need. >> we have literally been providing -- over a thousand training sessions. we continue to provide over -- training sessions every single day. anyone who doesn't feel 100% confident in what they need to do, we have said to them very clearly, we will work with you until you are 100% confident. and again, look at the early vote participation numbers. you want to talk about the process and that's totally fair. the enthusiasm is what we see here in nevada. people understand that nevada has an opportunity as the most diverse state so far to let
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their voices be heard and people take that responsibility seriously. we take our responsibility seriously. the party here, i'm so impressed. harry reid has built a remarkable infrastructure. and we're working to make sure that, again, we're talking about the candidates and not the process come saturday night. and that's what our mission is. and i'm very confident that we will be able to carry out a successful caucus. >> speaking of the candidates, michael bloomberg will be on stage because the rules were changed, as you know, obviously, by the dnc. he is going to be making his first appearance and then bernie sanders, new polls out that show him as the really cemented front-runner. what do you expect to see on the debate stage? >> one thing about the debate stage tonight is you look at last week's, i think, quinnipiac poll. all six candidates on the debate stage beat donald trump in a
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general election. that's the bench that we have. a very, very deep bench of candidates. i don't know who the nominee is going to be. remember, 1991. that's the magic number. you have to get 1,991 delegates to win on the first ballot. so far we've allocated 65 delegates. so as a former marathon runner, we're at like mile two or mile three of the marathon. and i love the participants in this marathon. they're fighting to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions can keep their health care. fighting to make sure we bring down the cost of prescription drugs. fighting for an america that works for everybody, not just a few at the top and making sure we restore your guard rails to this democracy. and that's what we're going to see people talk about tonight. and again, every single candidate on the debate stage is beating donald trump in a head-to-head matchup. and we're making sure we build that infrastructure across america, not only here in nevada but in every state across america so that we can make sure we bring it to the finish line and defeat this president.
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>> tom perez, we'll be watching, obviously, and watching very closely what happens in nevada this weekend. thank you for explaining all of that. >> always a pleasure to be with you. >> you, too. has the attorney general really considered resigning over the president's tweets? the latest on the tension real or otherwise inside the department of justice, next. fo. one that covers health care costs, taxes, and any other uncertainties. because when you're with fidelity, a partner who makes sure every step is clear, there's nothing to stop you from moving forward. a partner who makes sure every step is clear, as parents of six, this network is one less thing i have to worry about. (vo) why the aceves family chose verizon. we all use our phones very differently. these two are always gaming and this one is always on facetime.
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a source tells cnn that attorney general william barr has said he has considered resigning over president trump's -- >> is that the double has you dropped there? >> because he claims he considered resigning. do we know whether it's true? do we know whether he's trying to protect his reputation or send a message to the sflt any of those things i suppose is possible. that's on top of the president yesterday going on a pardon/clemency fest for people who could be considered the mt. rush more of corruption. i'll say it again, the mt. swampmore of corruption. >> something that good can't get enough play. joining us now is cnn legal analyst jeffrey toobin.
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he's reports that barr has claimed he has considered resigning. how seriously should we take that? >> i don't know because, as you pointed out, this could be a message that he is sending. could be a message he's sending to the president. could be a message he's sending to the public. and what makes it particularly interesting is that the issue that he's complained about, which is the president injecting himself into individual criminal case decisions, the president has said, including yesterday, i'm still doing it. >> message not received? >> well, message not heeded. it may have been heard, but it was not -- it has not been heeded by the president. and so that raises the question, if he was considering resigning about it, will he still be considering resigning about it, or is this whole a phony baloney story that he's not considering resigning at all. he just wants the message out there? >> it's all very confusing to know where attorney general bill barr stands on his power versus
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the president's power. he's said different things years ago when he was in the department of justice than he's saying now. it's just confusing. >> the irony is, bill barr has been very much associated with the idea of a strong presidency. well, i don't think he was ready for this strong a presidency, and, you know, the idea of the president interfering in individual prosecutorial decisions is so far outside what we've seen in the justice department in the post-watergate era that, you know, yesterday the president said that the attorney general isn't the top law enforcement officer in the country. i'm the top law enforcement officer in the country. >> and that's technically true. >> it is technically true because he is the boss of the attorney general. but no president has chosen to exercise powers like this in the modern era, and so, you know, we'll see what that means. >> it's the difference between can and should. which brings us to the pardons.
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>> correct. >> and the clemency granted by the president yesterday. he pardoned all those people, gave clemneency to all those people. you write occasion lalally for the new yorker. you have an interesti ining pie where you explain why it's important what the president did. >> as you point out, there is no doubt under the constitution the president has the power to do this. this is not legally a -- an open question. and there is a history of controversial pardons, whether it's president clinton pardoning marc rich, a fugitive financier or george herbert walker bush pardoning the iran/contra people on his way out of the office. so what makes this so troubling is in the middle of his term, here he is assigning friends. basically friends and friends of friends to get pardons and clemency which is how
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authoritarians behave, which is playing favorites with your personal friends at a time when you are playing with the opposite of favorites with prosecutorial decisions. i want these people prosecuted, these people freed. that's how authoritarian countries work. countries where there is the rule of law, there are systems in place for who gets prosecuted, who gets clemency. this is a very individually focused way to run a presidency. >> the country yesterday got swampier. if that's one of your campaign slogans that you're going to drain the swamp, then you open the prison doors of, you know, or commute the sentences, whatever, same thing, of these 11 folks, all of whom were -- this was corruption. they personified corruption. they were lining their own pockets. even some of president trump's most vocal cheerleaders on different networks said, oh, this is swampy.
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>> oftentimes with pardons, president obama had a very elaborate system in place to offer clemency to low-level drug dealers. none of whom he knew personally, but he had a whole system where sentences would be reviewed. here you have people -- what -- rob blagojevich, a total sleaze of a governor who took money in office, you know, bernie kerik who disgraced new york city in multiple ways, but who is a very close associate or has been, of rudy giuliani. you know, blagojevich was on "the apprentice." his wife was pleading for him on fox all the time. >> that's what the president says, explained his thought process in terms of commuting blagojevich's sentence. here's the quote. i watched his wife on television. >> do you think there are other people in federal prison whose spouses are sad that they're in prison? i think there probably are. >> like every single one.
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>> like every single one of them. but they don't have access to fox. and so they don't get clemency. it is an example of how, you know, sort of when you individualize justice in this way, it leads to results that are really just appalling. >> jeffrey toobin, good to talk to you. now to this, the chinese government is revoking the press credentials of three "wall street journal" reporters. the unusual move comes after the journal published an opinion piece earlier this month about the coronavirus outbreak entitled "china is the real sick man of asia." meanwhile, the u.s. announced it will begin treating five major chinese media companies as extensions of beijing's government. they'll be required to comply with the same rules governing foreign embass consulates. federal authorities have arrested a man operating as a russian spy. he sought to spy on a
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after two weeks under quarantine in japan, some passengers on board that cruise ship who have tested negative for coronavirus have finally begun to disembark today. but we've learned of 79 new cases on board that ship this morning. meanwhile, a wisconsin man has been reunited with his wife and daughters after they were evacuated from the epicenter of the outbreak and placed in isolation in california. and cnn was there for their emotional reunion. cnn's lucy kafanov is live at travis air base with more. tell us how this went. >> alisyn, good morning. it's been a tough few weeks for
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families split apart by the coronavirus outbreak. first, trapped in wuhan, then evacuated but placed under quarantine. yesterday 180 people were finally released, able to go home. we caught up with one wisconsin dad as he got to hug his wife and two daughters for the first time. for sam roth, it's a day that couldn't come soon enough. arriving in california with his 11-month-old daughter's car seat, waiting to be reunited with his family after a month apart. >> just anxious at the moment. looking forward to seeing them. >> reporter: his wife daisy and daughters abigail and adelyn were released from travis air force base after spending two weeks in quarantine. shuttled by bus to san francisco airport. >> bus stop 21. you know where that is? >> reporter: sam's wait getting a little longer. unclear where the family got dropped off.
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finally, the moment they had all been waiting for. reunited as a family of four at last. >> so now you're back. how does it feel? >> it feels good to be together as a family. >> just glad to see you. glad to be back together with the family. >> reporter: their ordeal began january 23rd. two days after daisy and the girls arrived in the chinese city of wuhan to spend time with her family. >> i woke up and i received a message from my phone. the whole city was locked down. i was like, what? >> reporter: they spent days cooped up in daisy's parents home under lockdown in a city afraid to leave the apartment. 5-year-old abigail keeping her baby sister entertained, putting on a brave face despite the fear. >> scary. >> what was scary about it? >> that i had to stay in.
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>> reporter: the state department began evacuating americans out of wuhan. but because daisy isn't a u.s. citizen, the family wasn't sure she'd be able to leave. >> once we got past the customs, okay, we're good. >> reporter: grateful to be back in american soil, happy the quarantine is now behind them but mindful of loved ones left behind in wuhan. >> it doesn't really feel like it's over, and as long as wuhan is still under lockdown and her family is there, this is a milestone getting our family back together. but it's definitely not the end of the road for the people that we love. >> reporter: a bittersweet moment there. he's an important point to emphasize. the cdc says the released evacuees pose no health risks to their communities. this morning the roths are setting out on a family road trip along the california coast. alisyn, john, back to you? >> great to see them back
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together. what a moment. we spoke to him, and he was just in that zone of uncertainty waiting to find out when he'd be reunited with his kids. time inquiry if the the good stuff." a mild mannered man from tennessee transforms into a superhero thanks to the make-a-wish foundation. you've heard of the incredible hulk. meet the incredible benjamin. he's battling cystic fibrosis. on monday, he was smashing stuff just like his favorite avenger. >> anything superherowise, he loves. incredible hulk being his favorite. for benjamin, him being a shy person anyways, to get to come do this, though, he's more than thankful. >> benjamin smash. he also received a super surprise. tickets to disney world so he could hang out with his fellow avengers. >> make-a-wish foundation is so great. >> breaking down that wall. i'd like to do that. >> i'll make that happen. >> thank you. how will mike bloomberg's
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presence on the debate stage change the dynamic? the bottom line with david gregory, next. ♪ ♪ i walk alone ♪ i'll pretend to know the way ♪ ♪ we only come out at night ♪ ♪ we only come out at night ♪ when you take align, you have the support of a probiotic and the gastroenterologists who developed it. align helps to soothe your occasional digestive upsets 24/7. with a strain of bacteria you can't get anywhere else. you could say align puts the pro in probiotic. so where you go, the pro goes. go with align, the pros in digestive health. and try align gummies
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major tests tonight in the democratic primary race. it's the first time michael bloomberg will step onto the debate stage. let's get the bottom line with cnn political analyst david gregory. david, this will be different. way different. not only is michael bloomberg on the stage for the first time, but bernie sanders will be on that stage as the clear national front-runner. >> and there are so many story lines you can hardly keep up. you also have those in the desperate lane like joe biden, elizabeth warren who have to make some kind of showing here to keep showing a political pulse. you would think that everybody would gang up on bernie sanders because he's pulling away in this thing and there's just a collective sense of panic that he's not going to be elected if he is the democratic nominee.
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but there's all this focus on bloomberg because he's finally on a debate stage. if you're bernie sanders, it shows you who he cares about right now. he cares about bloomberg. it's a perfect contrast for him, and he's going to go at him hard, where i think everybody else is going to try to divide their time trying to take down sanders and bloomberg at the same time. >> david, what are you looking for tonight? what do the candidates, particularly bloomberg because he's the newcomer, what does he have to accomplish tonight? >> well, i tend to be in agreement with the general take, which is that he's got to survive essentially. you know, i don't expect him to be a terrific debater. he can get defensive. he'll be ganged up on. it's always difficult. if he can show some facility to be able to take the incoming and still communicate a message about electability, about how he really stands apart. i think what's interesting about the progressive moment that we're in, and this overall emphasis on electability is
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still around a clear choice. it's not just that democrats think that donald trump is a bad person and is corrupt and authoritarian tendencies. there's still an ideological divide. he's still running as more of a conservative republican, and that there's a progressive answer to that. and a real progressive choice. the through line here in this crazy bonkers political moment that we're in is that nobody is doing well who is really painting within the lines, right? you have bloomberg who is spending his way to the nomination without even doing interviews or having his news organization investigate him or other democrats. you have bernie sanders as the democratic socialist and you have trump. so i think that the ability for bloomberg to hold his own and communicate a message primarily of electability is what's going to be important. >> you also talk about the various purity tests facing the democratic candidates. one of them, for some progressives, are you progressive enough.
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but there are other tests also. we had bernie sanders national press secretary on and i was asking her, should bernie sanders release his medical records? the guy had a heart attack a couple of months ago. she suggested those questions are part of a smear campaign. >> well, which is an incredible response. and this is -- and it's disingenuousness. smr some others made that comment this morning. the notion that sanders and his team and all of his loyalists are going to go after trump for his behavior, his evasions and they're going to stick to that shows you one primarily lesson which is he's learned a lot from what trump has gotten away with and will employ it and that's what we're seeing there. and there are purity tests. that's going to be leveled against bloomberg. is he somehow in the mold of donald trump? you know, as a billionaire kind of pretender who has, you know, pursued a racist policy in stop and frisk, who has nondisclosure agreements because of sexist
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comments and the like. they'll try to use that against bloomberg to paint him with the same brush. and donald trump is president. so democrats are still mired in this idea of what they consider the purity test for their own candidates when you have this president who has bron wonderin the billionaire, as a pejorative, is how most voters feel. he is an american success story. he's a self-made man. and so is it -- are we holding that against him now? >> i think it's a great point, alisyn. and you raised it yesterday as well. and it really jives with people that i talked to that on the one hand, there are a lot of people who don't like the rich and billionaires and the income disparity in the country and will blame government, republicans, for a tax structure that will benefit them. there's a lot of other people who look at donald trump, who look at a mike bloomberg and say, hey, i'd like that life. they're doing great. good for them and they don't
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hold it against them. i think we underestimate how strong that feeling is and how people are not thinking about how much money they have. they are thinking about do -- does this person align in most areas with my own values or what i'd like to see government accomplish? and the very real desire now to be willing to accept someone who is outrageous in a lot of ways or who doesn't do things the way you'd expect to try to shake up government to get some kind of result other than what people have been used to for a long time. >> david gregory, we love you because you are so outrageous. thanks for being with us this morning. >> thank you, david. cnn's coverage of the debate continues after this quick break. [sfx: doorbell] hello, i saw you move in, and i wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood
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good morning. the democratic race is getting hot. >> yes. >> i'm jim sciutto. >> i'm poppy harlow. it's fight night. democratic candidates set to throw down in a debate just days before the crucial nevada caucuses. the person set to take the most punches not likely bernie sanders tonight who is seeing a major surge in support and is leading by double digits in three national polls. but former new york city mayor mike bloomberg is the one bracing for blows in his first presidential debate appearance. we are live in las vegas with that. >> plus, the fallout over the president's stunning pardons for corrupt felons. does that sound like corruption fighting to you? we're on top o

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