On this “Face the Nation” broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D- Michigan
- Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee Chairwoman
- Neel Kashkari, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President
- Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron Founder, President & CEO
- Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner
Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington. And this week on FACE THE NATION, after ten days of coronavirus quarantine, President Trump prepares to get back on the campaign trail as the nation and the world see alarming increases in COVID cases. The White House is now one of the new red zones in America, a site responsible for at least twenty-five reported cases of COVID-19. After a week characterized by one conservative columnist as bizarre, berserk and almost biblical, the President’s struggle with the restraints of lockdown is now over as his doctor has declared him no longer a transmission risk.
MAN: Free COVID testing, guys.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the DC Health Department set up a temporary testing facility, and the reminders of the danger inside are loud and clear.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: We had a superspreader event in the White House.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But inside the gate Saturday, it seemed to be business as usual: A campaign-style event on the South Lawn.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Get out and vote. And I love you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The President’s post-coronavirus case message consistent with what he’s been saying for months.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A lot of flare-ups, but it’s going to disappear. It is disappearing.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But Mister Trump’s speedy recovery came after he received high-powered steroids and an untested drug cocktail from Regeneron.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think this was a blessing from God that I caught it. This was a blessing in disguise. I want everybody to be given the same treatment as your President.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is the President’s enthusiasm warranted or even accurate.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (The Rush Limbaugh Show): We have a cure, more than just a therapeutic, we have a cure.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll talk with the head of the drug company that manufactures that so-called cure, Leonard Schleifer. Plus, we’ll talk with former FDA commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb, and check in with Minneapolis Federal Reserve president Neel Kashkari. Just three weeks from Election Day, our CBS News Battleground Tracker takes a look at the impact of the President’s dismissive attitude about the virus in some key states. Democrats are predictably outraged.
JOE BIDEN: His reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis, the destabilizing effect it’s having on our government, is unconscionable.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But what about independents and some Republicans? Our findings, and a lot more are all just ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. Although President Trump’s doctor has declared him no longer at risk for transmitting the coronavirus, there are still many questions surrounding his health and whether the disease will have any lingering effects. The President has called his treatments a cure. But across the country, new cases are on the rise. Fifty thousand new infections have been reported every single day since Wednesday. We begin this morning with CBS News national correspondent Mark Strassmann, who is outside of Atlanta.
MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News National Correspondent): Out came the President, off came the mask.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: First of all, I’m feeling great. I don’t know about you. How is everyone feeling?
MARK STRASSMANN: On the White House South Lawn stood several hundred conservative voters of color, mostly masked, but also shoulder to shoulder for the President’s first in-person appearance since returning from the hospital. Across the country, lax attitudes toward the virus may partially explain why thirteen states have positivity rates higher than ten percent. New infections rose nationally for the fourth straight week, ten states set records for single-day increases in cases, and new hospitalizations rose last week in forty-one states.
DR. EMILY SPIVAK: There have been some personal stories shared with us at meetings from some of our intensive care unit nurses and physicians that are– that are heartbreaking, and they– and they feel very overwhelmed.
MARK STRASSMANN: In the Northeast, many people also feel scared. A stealthy threat is targeting them, a second wave of COVID with an asymptomatic spread. Boston ditched plans to reopen schools. But there is hope. A new report from the CDC found that COVID cases declined by seventy-five percent in Arizona after a mask mandate and other mitigation measures. It’s a success New York City is hoping to replicate. Hundreds of city employees keep handing out masks. But there’s resistance here, too, in a city averaging more than five hundred new cases a day, the most since June.
WOMAN: People are being a little hostile towards our cameras, just in light of everything that’s happening.
MARK STRASSMANN: That includes early voting. Long lines in Indiana and Ohio. More than nine million people have voted early already in thirty states.
TOM BARRETT: This is way off the charts for what we have seen in previous elections.
MARK STRASSMANN: By the end of the week, more than forty states will mail out absentee ballots.
MARK STRASSMANN: The Trump campaign is desperate to refocus voter attention on the election not the infections. Donald Trump Junior will speak tomorrow here at this gun club outside Atlanta. And as for his father, the President, he is heading to swing states, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Iowa, for the sort of in-person rallies he relishes. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mark, thank you.
We’re just twenty-three days until Election Day. We polled likely voters in three states last week for our Battleground Tracker. In Michigan former Vice President Joe Biden is up fifty-two to President Trump’s forty-six-percent support. In Nevada, it’s the same picture. Mister Biden is up fifty-two percent, and Mister Trump is at forty-six percent. In Iowa, a state that the President won easily back in 2016, this year it’s tied with forty-nine percent each. CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto is in Westchester County, New York, to give us the lay of the land. Good morning, Anthony. So, what does this mean for the overall race?
ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Elections and Surveys Director/@SalvantoCBS): Good morning, Margaret. So, Joe Biden currently leads in our Electoral College count, two seventy-nine to one sixty-three. Somebody needs two seventy to win. That’s as of this moment. But let’s look at this state by state, which is how the presidential election is decided. You mentioned those states in the Upper Midwest: Michigan where Biden is leading; Iowa, where it’s even. And then I’ll toss in Wisconsin, Biden leading, Pennsylvania, as well–all places the President won in 2016, and he is even or trailing now. The reason that is important is broader picture, let’s look at the Sun Belt where Florida is a toss-up, Georgia, North Carolina. Again, places the President won last time, well, even if those go into his column, he comes back, and I’ll put them in red here. If the President wins those, we’re still back in the Upper Midwest, where the President would need to flip a couple of those states to put himself back over the top. Having said that, Margaret, he’s done it before.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony, did the President’s illness, his diagnosis with coronavirus, have an impact?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: Not for the voters that he needs to move. Now, Margaret, let me show you in our Michigan poll. On balance, both voters felt that the way the administration handled that COVID crisis was a bad example, set a bad example for the country by sixty-forty. And voters there are still concerned about getting coronavirus themselves, and they told us that they felt the way it was handled by the White House was more irresponsible. You see these bigger numbers here, the majorities in all these states–Michigan, in Nevada and in Iowa. The other part of this, Margaret, is that the administration’s messaging on this was, of course, to try to inspire confidence, that the virus could be beaten as the President recovered. Well, voters in these states told us that while they’re still worried about getting it, they feel like, by very large numbers–you see over seventy percent in all three–that were they to get it, the treatments that they would be– would– would receive would not be as good as what the President got, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony, what about the economy? That’s been the President’s strongest message. Does it still work?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: It has. In state after state, he has had an edge over Joe Biden on handling the economy. But, Margaret, in Michigan, they are now even, at forty-five percent each who would do better on the economy and something else is driving the vote here. And that is views of how the candidates handle themselves personally on which Joe Biden has a large edge at fifty-six to thirty-two over the President right now. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony Salvanto, thank you.
We want to go now to the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel. She is recovering from a COVID-19 diagnosis eleven days ago and joins us from her home in Northville, Michigan. Good morning. How are you feeling?
RONNA MCDANIEL (Republican National Committee Chairwoman/@GOPChairwoman): Feeling a lot better, thank you very much.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m glad to hear that. Do you know if you can still transmit the virus? Are you going to be out there soon on the– on the campaign trail?
RONNA MCDANIEL: Yeah. I’m being told and I’m working with my doctor, so I’m going to follow the science that ten days after diagnosis, you’re not shedding the virus any longer. But I’m just going to make extra sure before I get out there. But I’m feeling very well, and I’ve been fever free– free for over ten days, so that’s a good sign.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, good luck to you with that. On the President’s front, as we know, he is recovering. You just heard our latest read from CBS’s Anthony Salvanto. Do you think these days off the campaign trail and now a canceled debate for this week have put the President behind?
RONNA MCDANIEL: You know we’ve been looking at our numbers internally as well. We are not seeing that. We’ve seen the President actually increase in his numbers. I think voters are very frustrated by the corrupt debate commission that they would cancel a second debate. I think it feeds into the belief that this forty-seven years that Joe Biden has had is– has had in D.C. is again protecting him from facing the voters. And Americans are frustrated that this election commission interfered with our ability to see these two candidates debate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There are Republicans on that commission, and that decision was made in part due to health concerns because of lack of disclosure, as you know.
RONNA MCDANIEL: Well, they’re not non-partisan Republicans. Those Republicans have been very critical of this President. They did not follow the science. It was done unilaterally without talking to the candidates, and they interfered in the election. It is corrupt. It is what D.C. is. They are in the pocket of Joe Biden, and they prevented the American public from seeing these candidates debate. And it’s wrong for the country.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So it sounds like you do think that could be a negative for the President. When you heard those stats on– on the economy, in particular, that stood out to me because you always say this is the most resonant message for the President. But in Michigan, the state you know well, he’s even with Biden on perception of who would be better on the economy. Why isn’t that working?
RONNA MCDANIEL: I think the debate situation is a negative for Biden. I think it plays into this D.C. politician who’s been there for forty-seven years, who isn’t getting tough questions from the media. He’s refusing to answer about whether he’s going to pack the Supreme Court, upending a hundred and fifty years of– of our judicial standards. And he’s saying I’ll tell you after the election. This is egregious that this candidate is getting away with this–
MARGARET BRENNAN: What about the economy?
RONNA MCDANIEL: –and this is what happens when you’re wired in D.C. The President, of course, is doing better on the economy. The PPP loans is what saved this economy. They did more loans in fourteen months or fourteen days that had been done in fourteen months. He saved businesses. This President had our economy in the best shape before this pandemic. He’s already leading us out of it. The American people recognize that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it sounds like Republicans aren’t going to pass the– the bill that the President now says he wants to do.
RONNA MCDANIEL: No, Nancy Pelosi wants to do a– a power grab and fund cities that were already in financial distress in the name of the pandemic. And I think the American people don’t want to see that done.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Senate Republicans, are objecting to the size of it, too. But I want to ask you about, are you going to start resuming in-person fund-raisers? And when you do that, are you going to have masks be worn? Are you going to mandate social distancing?
RONNA MCDANIEL: Yeah, you know, we’re going to do everything we need to do. But let’s go back to the issue, Margaret. You have a candidate for president right now–
MARGARET BRENNAN: You will be–
RONNA MCDANIEL: But there’s a candidate for President right now–
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask if the President is going to be doing those in-person fund-raisers.
RONNA MCDANIEL: –doing an absolute personal power grab. No, Joe Biden is running on the biggest power grab in history, and you guys want to talk about fund-raising protocols? He is saying he’s going to stack–
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask what the President’s doing in the next few days, because you are twenty-three days from an election.
RONNA MCDANIEL: He’s going to say he’s going to stack the Supreme Court, get rid of the filibuster and he’s being given a free pass. This should be all the media is focused on. I understand you don’t like Donald Trump. I understand we don’t like Republicans.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Actually, he– you said the President–
RONNA MCDANIEL: We have a Democrat running on the biggest power grab, the absolute biggest power grab in the history of our country and reshaping the United States of America–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, so–
RONNA MCDANIEL: –and not answering the question. That’s all we should be talking about.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, so I think you–
RONNA MCDANIEL: That’s all we should be talking about.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I think you answered the question of yes assuming– resuming in-person fund-raisers for the President.
RONNA MCDANIEL: No, we–
MARGARET BRENNAN: But let me ask you about–
RONNA MCDANIEL: Who cares?
MARGARET BRENNAN: –voting.
RONNA MCDANIEL: Who cares if we have fund-raisers when you have a candidate running to upend–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because it’s the President. I want to know what he’s doing. Let’s–
RONNA MCDANIEL: But he’s going to upend checks and balances in the third branch of government. Why are we not–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, he’s going to hold rallies in the next few days.
RONNA MCDANIEL: –talking about this non-stop? No, this is Joe Biden who’s going to upend checks and balances, get rid of the checks and balances that are fundamental to our Constitution and won’t answer if he’s going to stack the Supreme Court.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, let’s– let’s talk about–
RONNA MCDANIEL: This is all the media should be focusing on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Let’s talk about courts. The RNC right now is involved in about forty different pieces of litigation–
RONNA MCDANIEL: Correct.
MARGARET BRENNAN: –regarding voting integrity. In federal court Republicans are suing to outlaw things like dropboxes or alternative voting locations for ballot– ballots. Is the party strategy here, too, as Democrats allege, basically try to limit the number of voters in order for Republicans to win?
RONNA MCDANIEL: Well, let’s go back to the courts. The Democrats are suing–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, this is a federal case.
RONNA MCDANIEL: The Democrats are suing in every state to get rid of signature verification, to extend the length of the election, to get rid of all the witness requirements to ensure election integrity. We are saying you can’t just change laws before the election. We– you need to have those safeguards in place. We need those surety. And we–
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you’re trying to outlaw dropboxes in Pennsylvania.
RONNA MCDANIEL: No, we are not. We are saying you should know where the dropboxes are. There should be monitoring. We should have a standard. You shouldn’t just be able to put them anywhere without notification. Those are the types of reasonable–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
RONNA MCDANIEL: –things that we are asking for. Also, we have won on Democrats trying to expand ballot harvesting, getting rid of signature verification, everything they are doing, every single lawsuit we are in–
MARGARET BRENNAN: So yesterday–
RONNA MCDANIEL: — is Democrats trying to upend election integrity. It is–
MARGARET BRENNAN: It was a Trump-appointed judge in Pennsylvania who just yesterday rejected the RNC’s effort to limit dropboxes because–
RONNA MCDANIEL: And we won in Pennsylvania.
MARGARET BRENNAN: –they said you didn’t even make a case. They said– you lost this one yesterday. They said you didn’t even make a speculative case on fraud. So what are you suggesting happen to all of those ballots that have already been cast?
RONNA MCDANIEL: What we’re saying, you should know where the dropboxes are, Margaret, that’s pretty reasonable. There should be some notification. We also won in Pennsylvania as Democrats tried to expand ballot harvesting. We just won in Wisconsin. We just won in South Carolina. We just won in Iowa.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The question was about dropboxes.
RONNA MCDANIEL: We’re winning cases across the country. Yeah, and we should be able to know where those dropboxes are and they should be monitored. And I think that’s a very reasonable expectation that states shouldn’t be able to just put dropboxes in without any notification. But, again, let’s go back to the crux of the issue. You have a Democrat running for President–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
RONNA MCDANIEL: –who wants to upend our entire fundamental system of government–
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right.
RONNA MCDANIEL: –to get rid of checks and balances, get rid of the filibuster–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Chairwoman I appreciate you making the time.
RONNA MCDANIEL: –and stack the Supreme Court.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I wanted to talk about the mechanics of how people can actually vote and these pieces of litigation. We– we’re out of time. Thank you for joining us. I hope you feel better.
FACE THE NATION will be right back with Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Last week thirteen members of two anti-government Michigan militia groups were arrested as part of an alleged plot to kidnap and then put Governor Gretchen Whitmer on trial for treason. She joins us now from Lansing, Michigan. Good morning to you, Governor. Do you know if the security threat is over? Do you feel safe?
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-Michigan/@GovWhitmer): Good morning. I have always felt safe, I am protected by the Michigan State Police, and they are an incredibly professional organization. But I do believe that there are still serious threats that groups like this group, these domestic terrorists, are finding comfort and support in the rhetoric coming out of Republican leadership from the White House to our statehouse. And so I remain concerned about safety and integrity going up to this election.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to get into integrity in a– in a moment. But just to button this up, so three of the men that were arrested as co-conspirators in part of this plot were also involved back in the Spring in April with storming the Michigan Capitol with guns at the time. Governor, these are your constituents. How do you, in your state, unify things? I know you’re talking about the President and rhetoric, but what do you do to deal with this?
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER: So, you know, the center of all the work that we’ve been doing around COVID is trying to save lives. Whether people support me politically, or they supported my opponent in the last election, my job as governor is to make sure that Michigan is a place where we are saving lives, we are following the science, we get our economy back on track. We have saved thousands of lives, studies have shown, by the actions that I took. We also have re-engaged our economy. We’re one of the ten top economic resurgences in the nation because of that work–
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you know that Michigan Supreme Court has just–
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER: We cannot separate–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –tried to limit the powers that you use to do some of these things, like mask mandates. So now in order to do further things, you have to work with Republicans. Clearly, there are some deep, deep divisions in your state. How– can you work with them? With the Republican-controlled legislature?
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER: Absolutely. You know I was raised in a household with a Republican parent and a Democratic parent. But the fact of the matter is we have to find common ground. And I think that’s what’s so important in this election. You know, Joe Biden is the kind of guy who is deeply decent, and has been known for collaborating and putting the interests of the public first. Donald Trump has been incredibly divisive and downright dangerous, whether it’s COVID or it is the rhetoric coming out of the White House. We have an important choice to make in the next few weeks. There are decent human beings on both sides of the aisle, but we need a leader who can bring them together. And that’s why I am excited about Joe Biden.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You heard me ask the chairwoman about whether it’s a Republican strategy to try to limit access to the vote because of all the litigation. She said it’s Democrats who have litigation trying to, essentially, skew the vote. In your state there– which is going to be so key and votes are going to be closely watched, your secretary of state has said they will not be able to report the results of the election November 3rd. How long do you think it will take to know what the vote in Michigan was in a definitive way?
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER: Well, I’ll start with this. Jocelyn Benson, our Secretary of State, is a national expert when it comes to election law. She has said we are going to get every vote counted, and we’re going to keep people safe as they go to vote. We’re working closely with our Attorney General, Dana Nessel, who has been a fierce advocate of protecting people’s right to vote. And we’re all working in a coordinated fashion. Michigan will be able to announce results, but we are not going to have artificial deadlines set by, you know, people with political agendas. We’re going to get this right. It will be soon after polls closed. I’m not going to put a number on it, but we’re going to get it right. And I want to remind Michiganders, you can vote today.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
GOV. WHITMER: You can go into your clerk’s office and cast your vote today. So every day between now and November 3rd in Michigan is Election Day.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER: And the more people that vote earlier, the more likely you’ll be safe and get counted.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Well, the law right now says if it’s postmarked by November 3rd, as long as it arrives by November 17th, it will count. And– and Republicans have objected to that length of time. But on the question of poll monitoring, in our poll at CBS News in our Battleground Tracker, we found that half of the President’s voters in Michigan think the President should encourage his supporters to go stand near polling placers as– places as watchers. Do you think this is going to be a problem in Michigan?
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER: Here’s what I can say, we are prepared. We are prepared to make sure that this election goes smoothly. We’re going to keep people safe as they go to the polls. And we will not tolerate anyone who’s trying to interfere with someone’s ability to safely vote. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic, which is why we’re really encouraging people to avail themselves of the ability to vote absentee and drop off their ballots–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you worried–
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER: –or to pop into a clerk’s office.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But given just what just happened to you this week, Governor, I mean, are you worried about violence on Election Day or around it?
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER: I am not worried but we are preparing to make sure that we do everything to keep people safe. And I’ve got incredible confidence. I know that the people of Michigan want to vote. We see how high the stakes are in this election. We’re going to have historic turnout and we’re going to do it right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You are a surrogate for Joe Biden. Yesterday at an event in Pennsylvania, he seemed to question the integrity of the vote. He said “…the only way we lose this is by the chicanery going on relative to polling places.” He later clarified. He said he’d accept the election results. But it is the Biden campaign accusing the Trump campaign and the RNC of trying to intimidate voters. Is that what he’s saying?
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER: You know what I think that a reasonable person could draw the conclusion that the efforts to undermine the Postal Service, to undermine mail-in balloting, the efforts to claim that if you don’t have a result at the moment the polls close that it’s– that it’s not legitimate, all of those are efforts to undermine people’s confidence in this election. I think that’s what Joe Biden was trying to communicate. You know, sometimes it’s– we have to issue clarifications. But the fact of the matter is every vote’s going to get counted. We’ve never had an issue, a significant issue with fraud via mail-in balloting. And that’s why the President himself avails him of it regularly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But to be clear, the integrity of the vote in Michigan is something that you stand by, and that is not something that Joe Biden is questioning? Is that what you’re saying?
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER: Correct.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Governor, thank you very much for your time.
We’ll be right back–
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: –with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: On Monday, CBS News will begin coverage of the confirmation hearings that will be healed for Supreme Court nominee justice– judge, she hopes to be justice Amy Coney Barrett. Our coverage starts at 9:00 AM Eastern.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back with the head of Regeneron. We’ll talk about that drug cocktail that the President says cured him. And then we’ll check in with former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb and the head of the Minneapolis Fed Neel Kashkari. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. The World Health Organization reported a record three hundred and fifty thousand new coronavirus cases on Friday. The Americas, Europe, and Southeast Asia are all seeing their highest numbers of cases, yet, since the pandemic began early this year. CBS News senior foreign correspondent Liz Palmer reports from London.
ELIZABETH PALMER (CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent/@CBSLizpalmer): Good morning. After a summer where infection rates across Europe were really pretty low, a lot of us hoped that the virus was under control. Well, we couldn’t have been more wrong.
ELIZABETH PALMER: This week Europe had a third of all new cases worldwide. And control measures are ramping up again. In Madrid, there is a state of emergency. Thousands of extra police are on duty controlling movement in and out of hot spot neighborhoods. France and French hospitals are worst hit with over twenty-six thousand new cases yesterday, more even than last spring. Berliners are facing a curfew for the first time in seventy years.
MAN: Last serve folks.
ELIZABETH PALMER: And across England pubs have to send drinkers home at 10 o’clock. In Scotland, most have to close all together. In London, musicians staged a protest last week against the ban on concerts, they say, is killing their livelihoods. India, believe it or not, has had fewer new cases than Europe for the past few days, but because of overcrowding and poverty, it does have the highest daily death rate on Earth, just ahead of the U.S. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un staged a military extravaganza on Saturday, to convince the world that his missiles are bigger than anyone else’s, and his COVID problem, smaller.
(Kim Jong-un speaking foreign language)
ELIZABETH PALMER: North Korea has not had a single COVID case, he said, and offered condolences to the rest of the world. And, finally, in a country that really has pretty much stamped out COVID, New Zealand allowed its first international rugby match since the pandemic to go ahead in front of a crowd of thirty thousand fans, none of them wearing masks.
ELIZABETH PALMER: Here in Britain the government’s current strategy is a version of whack-a-mole, very strict local measures in hot spots in order to try and avoid another blanket lockdown which would even further damage the economy. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s Liz Palmer in London. Thank you.
Soon after the President was diagnosed with COVID-19 he was given Regeneron’s an– antibody cocktail. That’s an experimental treatment that has been received by only ten other people outside of ongoing clinical trials. We want to go now to the CEO of Regeneron, Doctor Leonard Schleifer, who joins us from Westchester, New York, this morning. Good morning.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER, MD, PhD (Regeneron Founder, President and CEO): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So President Trump was given this cocktail and he has since said that it was both a cure, and that he is now immune. Does your drug cure COVID and does it make you immune?
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: Right. So the President’s case is a case of one, and that’s what we call a case report. And it is evidence of what’s happening, but it’s kind of the weakest evidence that you can get. Although, there are some very interesting aspects of his case, such as he was elderly, he had some risk factors, and that he did not have his own immune system in gear when he was sick and he got treated with our immune system in a vial, if you will. But the real evidence has to come about how good a drug is and what it will do on average has to come from these larger clinical trials, these randomized clinical trials, which are the gold standard. And those are ongoing. We’ve got some preliminary evidence that we’ve talked with the FDA, and we’re going for an emergency–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: –use authorization because we think it’s appropriate at this time. But, yes, the President’s case is a case report, perhaps the most analyzed case report ever–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: –but it’s just low down on the evidence scale that we really need.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But your drug, does it create immunity?
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: Yes, it does. When the virus comes in your system, your immune system is trying to create immunity. It’s trying to create these things called antibodies, which are going to glom on to this virus, and provide you immunity from getting sick with the disease.
MARGARET BRENNAN: For how long?
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: A vaccine– well, it depends on how you acquire this immunity. If you get it in the form of a vaccine, it’s hoped that it might last for years. In some cases, vaccines can last for decades. If you get it in the form of natural immunity, that isn’t known yet.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: Could be months, could be years. If you get it in our vial, if you will, that’s probably going to last you for months.
MARGARET BRENNAN: A few months, okay. The President has also said he wants to make your drug free to anyone who needs it. Have you talked to the President about this idea, and how would it work?
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: Yeah. Well, we’ve talked to the administration a lot about this, and what they decided to do is take some risk. Back in the spring before we actually had any data from randomized trials. They went ahead and said, listen, you start manufacturing the product, we will commit to buy it from you. Stop manufacturing the other products that you’re working on or move them elsewhere. And let us make sure that if it does work, it’ll be available. And what the government said–
MARGARET BRENNAN: That was a four-hundred-and-fifty-million-dollar contract that the U.S. taxpayer paid for. So–
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: Correct.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But how much supply–
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: And they will get the drug–
MARGARET BRENNAN: How much supply did taxpayers just buy? Because the President says he’s making it free to everyone.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: Right. Well, they bought from us several hundred thousand, maybe around three hundred thousand doses, which they are going to make it for free. What I think that the administration has been working recently– I saw an announcement with– with AstraZeneca. Look, we need– Regeneron can’t do this alone. We need the entire industry. And I’m so proud the industry has risen. We have companies like Lilly, great companies. We’re partners with Roche, one of the best companies in this whole field. Amgen is involved.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: AstraZeneca is involved. Black-Scholes is involved. We all have to step up–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: –if we’re going to provide enough of this.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, and exactly that point, providing enough is a key question. There were nearly sixty thousand people infected in this country on Friday alone, just on Friday. Regeneron in that FDA emergency use authorization application that you said you made this past week, said there are doses ready for fifty thousand patients.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s not even enough.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: It’s not enough.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s not even enough for one day of infection. So, who decides who’s going to get the supply of your drug?
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: Right. So I think this is going to be worked out by the government, by– in consultation with the FDA, in consultation with ethical experts. Coming up with a distribution system where we take what’s limited, and we try and give it to the people who most need it, who would most benefit from it. The vulnerable people, elderly people, people who are at high risk, household contacts, perhaps. We have to figure out ways to ration this. And we have to get the entire unit to–
MARGARET BRENNAN: And the government would do that from your understanding, decide who gets–
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: Well, I think–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –the drug and who doesn’t?
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: I think in consultation with local health authorities, that’s what they’ve been doing with remdesivir, Gilead’s drug.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. Right.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: It’s a complicated problem.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It is. And there were shortages of that, which is why I ask you. I want to ask you something specific to how your drug was developed. According to your company, the antibodies in it were developed using cells that were derived from fetal tissue, a cell line known as 293T. Those were harvested from the kidney tissue of an aborted fetus. There are also vaccine makers using this cell line. But the Trump administration last year has suspended federal funding for research projects that involve fetal tissue from abortions. Should the President and the administration reconsider it, given that this breakthrough was possible using those kind of cells?
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: Yeah. Well, let me be very clear, our drug is not manufactured using fetal cells that’s not in the way you make the product, but–
MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand that, developed, but not–
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: It’s just– so let’s not–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: We shouldn’t exaggerate the situation. This–
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m not. I’m reading what your company said, which was it was developed using it.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: Yeah. I– I wasn’t suggesting you are. I’m just saying we as a– as a society. And it’s not used to manufacture the product. It was– it’s a standard cell line that was derived over fifty years ago. And so it’s used as a research tool. Where that research should be done, that’s a good debate to have. But it’s probably kind of the debate we need to have right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Who should be getting this drug in terms of how you think it should be used? If– is it a prophylactic? Should it be given to diabetics, asthmatics, pregnant people?
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: Right. Those are great questions, Margaret. It can be used, we think, as a prophylactic. We’re doing a trial to see whether or not if you live in the household of somebody who’s got it, whether it would stop you from getting it. And that would be very important evidence that we hope to get in the not too distant future. Then we might think about if somebody in the nursing home gets it. We– maybe–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: –we can treat the other people in the nursing home. If people who are very sick are exposed to people, people who don’t have good immune systems.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: These are all really important questions, which we’re trying to– our best–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER: –while we’re building this plane and flying it at the same time to be ready to answer some of those questions, as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. Thank you, Doctor, for your time.
And we will be back with Doctor Scott Gottlieb. So stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’re back with former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb, who is in Westport, Connecticut. Good morning to you.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, MD (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The President said yesterday the virus is disappearing. The numbers tell a different story. Friday, we saw the largest one-day increase in new cases in two months. How prepared are we as a country for what’s about to happen?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think we’re going to face a difficult fall and winter. What we thought might be just a bump after Labor Day, clearly, is a resurgence in the virus. Heading into the fall and the winter you’re seeing cases build across the entire country. There’s now about fifteen states with a positivity rate above ten percent. About forty states have an RT, a rate of transfer above 1.0, which means they have an expanding epidemic. And most concerning is hospitalizations are building. People look at the number of cases and they tend to discount that. They say that because we’re testing more, we’re turning over more cases. But the hospitalizations are the clearest objective measure of rising infection around the country. And also, remember, we test more not just because we test more, we test more because we have more virus. Some people get tested because they’re just the worried well. But most people get tested because they’re either having symptoms or they’re in touch with someone who is known to have COVID. So testing is going up because more infection is spreading around the country. So we’re in a difficult situation heading into the fall. I think the only– the only caveat is in terms of us being better prepared for this wave is that we have dramatically improved clinical care in hospitals. So I think we’re going to have better outcomes overall, but we’re still going to have a lot of death and disease between now and the end of the year.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I ask you that because you’ve been on this program warning since August that the Midwest is trending in the wrong direction, trending upwards. This– this week, this past week, the Wisconsin governor started setting up a field hospital because the ICU units and hospitals are getting overwhelmed. Why aren’t those states better prepared?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, in many respects, the states are better prepared in terms of the capacity in their health care system, I think the reality is that the preparation includes building field hospitals. You have to build surge capacity. The hospitals themselves just physically don’t have the infrastructure to deal with the magnitude of the infection once this becomes epidemic within a local region. So this is part of the preparation. I think when you look at the hospitals and talk to hospital executives, and I’ve been talking to them, they feel a lot more confident about their preparations in terms of stockpiling ventilators, stockpiling protective equipment. But when this does roll through a region and becomes densely epidemic, it’s going to look like this. They’re going to have to build surge capacity, swing capacity. They’re going to have to suspend elective surgeries. That’s the system being prepared. That’s the reality of this virus. And the other thing is, you know, the parts of the Midwest and the northern states around the Great Lakes, which is where the infection is building right now, are the parts of the country that are getting colder more quickly. We also see it starting to build in the southern states. And so for those who thought that this had swept through Florida and Texas and Arizona and other states may had achieved some level of immunity and it wasn’t going to come back again, you look at Texas right now and there are– there are concerning signs that they’re having a resurgence in infection that is quite dramatic.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And something key to watch as we head towards Election Day. The President himself– you saw this letter released by his physician last night. It didn’t explicitly say that the President has tested negative. At this point in his recovery, what are you concerned about? Is he contagious?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Probably not, and he’s not going to test negative for a period of time, because we know that people continue to shed virus for a long period of time, but that’s dead virus. It’s virus that doesn’t grow in a culture, can’t really pass on the infection. There are indications that the President’s no longer infectious. They released data on what– what we call subgenomic RNA, which is an intermediate piece of viral genetic material that you really typically only see when the virus itself is replicating. So that’s an indication that he no longer has replication-competent virus, meaning that it’s not live virus. But he’s going to continue to shed for a while. Now based on classic criteria, he’s about ten days out from the onset of symptoms. He’s been symptom free, as best we know, for a number of days now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: He’s been afebrile, without a fever, for more than one day. That should make him no longer contagious. The only confounding variable here is the drugs he received. The steroids could cause him to shed virus for a longer period of time. But I think on the whole, it’s probably a safe assumption that he’s no longer contagious. I think the question now is has his health been restored?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: And we know that a lot of patients have lingering effects from COVID.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You heard the Regeneron CEO talk about his drug and he said he wasn’t sure about supply and Regeneron can’t do it alone. You’ve been saying on this program since July that there needs to be more manufacturing of therapeutics in case we find they work. Well, this one looks like it may work. Why don’t we have more supply, given that taxpayers have already invested in this drug?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: We would have needed to take different steps in April and May to ramp up manufacturing capacity to have the drug available in larger quantities right now. It’s too late for this year. I think we could still take steps to do it for 2021. But we’re stuck with the doses we have. This has been a monumental achievement in terms of the time frame which these companies pivoted to develop these antibody drugs. These drugs always looked promising and they were always believed to be a bridge to a vaccine. We’re not going to have it in the quantities we need. I would estimate, just based on current infection rates, if you look at everyone who is above the age of sixty-five, you probably need anywhere between three hundred and four hundred thousand doses a month to supply it just for people who are indicated based on age alone. And there are a lot of other people who’d be indicated for this drug. We’re going to have nowhere near those quantities. So we will have to ration it. And that’s assuming the infection doesn’t continue to expand, which I think it will. So we’re not going to have as much drug as we should have. Remember, we could also have used these drugs as a prophylaxis, as Len mentioned, to prevent people from getting the infection. And, in fact, the data has shown in the past that they’re most effective in that setting. We’re not going to have the supply to do that, unfortunately.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So when the President promises to make this available for all, you’re saying, he had the chance, but the administration missed the window?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, we definitely missed the window. And this was raised many times. I wrote about it. Others raised it to the administration, including myself, about trying to commandeer more manufacturing back in April and May. Pay companies not to manufacture certain non-essential drugs. Most companies freeze about twelve to twenty-four months of their bulk stock of their biologics. So some companies could have suspended manufacturing–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: –of non-essential biologics and turned over their manufacturing capacity to the production of these drugs and been paid for it. The money was there to do it, but it would have taken a lot of planning. That didn’t really occur. Lilly and Regeneron did a lot to free up their own manufacturing–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: –so they’re producing a lot of drug, but not enough for the entire population.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor Scott Gottlieb, thank you for your analysis.
We’ll talk about the economy when we come back. So stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Negotiations between the House, the Senate, and the White House over a new coronavirus relief package continue, but the prospects of getting an agreement, at least before Election Day continue to look bleak. Neel Kashkari is the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and joins us now. Good morning to you.
NEEL KASHKARI (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President and CEO/@neelkashkari): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So there’s just short of about two trillion dollars on the line here. This would have included aid to airlines, more jobless benefits, expansion of help to small businesses. Without that, what’s the cost to the American economy? What’s going to happen?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, we’re going to continue to see a grinding, very slow recovery with thousands of small businesses around the country going bankrupt. That’s why it’s so vital that our elected leaders come together to take more action. You know, the job market today, eleven million Americans are still out of work relative to the job market in February. That is as bad as the worst job market during the Great Recession and the great financial crisis. And so a lot of people are suffering. A lot of small businesses are suffering. And just listening to Doctor Gottlieb, it seems like we’re at about the halfway point of getting through this pandemic. So more assistance is definitely needed.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But why isn’t the urgency that you feel getting through to lawmakers?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, obviously, I mean, I’ll– I’ll defer to the political experts on the political negotiations, and, obviously, we’re close to an election. So I imagine that those things are getting involved in the dynamic. But if you look at the data, the data is very clear. The recovery, the strong recovery that we saw in June and July, has really flattened out. The virus is climbing now again around the country, especially here in my region, in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wisconsin. And so you’re seeing consumers pull back and not want to go out, not want to take that risk again. And so, unfortunately, we still have a long way to go in this pandemic, and that means we need continued assistance.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So this morning from– from the White House, Larry Kudlow said again that what he’s seeing is a V-shaped economic recovery coming right back. You’re talking about flashing yellow lights. Why are you– what is it that you see that worries you?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, I’m seeing– especially on the small business front, I mean, some sectors of the economy are doing fine. If you are a white-collar worker, like I am, like you are, you’re able to work from home. You’re really not affected by this pandemic. But there are many sectors of the economy that are still being devastated. The travel and tourism industries, the front-line service industries, restaurants, and that’s where you’re seeing big job losses and bankruptcies. And this is going to continue to spiral and continue to– to bleed on. You know, if eleven million Americans can’t pay their bills, can’t put food on the table, can’t make their credit card payments, their car payments, that– that has spillover effects to other sectors of the economy. The reason the economy bounced back as strongly as it did in June and July is because Congress was so aggressive in the spring. We need Congress to continue to be aggressive so that the recovery can be stronger.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know one– one number that is– is– really stands out to me is this. Eight hundred and sixty-five thousand women have left the workforce since the pandemic began eight months ago. Compared to that, it’s two hundred and sixteen thousand men. Women are leading this recession. McKinsey– McKinsey says two million women are going to leave the workforce, potentially, because of childcare issues. This is having a massive social impact. How long does that last?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, you’re exactly right, Margaret. If you look at the– the great financial crisis, it took ten years, ten years to rebuild the labor market, to bring back all those workers who got dislocated, to re-engage them, get them employed again and get the economy moving again. That’s, obviously, terrible for them and their families, but it also holds back the economy’s potential. And that’s why more aggressive assistance now to keep people re-engaged, to keep them attached so that our labor market can recover more quickly, it’s pa– it’s of paramount importance. Again, for those families directly affected, but actually for the economy as a whole and for all of us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, and any family is affected that has a child, clearly. When you are talking about who is getting hit, it’s women. It’s also Black and Hispanic workers who have suffered the greatest number of– of job losses. Is that inequality– some of it preexisted this– this pandemic, is that something the Fed can fix?
NEEL KASHKARI: We cannot fix it alone. I mean we can do our part by trying to make the labor market, and the recovery as strong as we can using our broad-based tools like lowering interest rates and quantitative easing. But we don’t have the ability to target the assistance to one group, or one region, or one sector. Only Congress can do that. And it’s– it’s much cheaper if you can keep people whole on the front end. Then if you– we have these continued layoffs and these continued bankruptcies, to try to rebuild it on the back end. That ends up taking a lot longer. That actually ends up being more expensive for the taxpayers.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Senate Republicans continue to argue, though, that– that, as you say, making the money available on the front end, though, could potentially be worse for them politically, that there would be a cost at the ballot box. Is there any economic cost, any economic merit to that?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, right– right now, the U.S. government is able to borrow at very, very low rates. And so now is the time. If there’s a need to run deficits, now is the time to go ahead and use that government’s fiscal capacity to provide the assistance. And so there’s no question over the long run we have to make changes. We have to make some decisions–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
NEEL KASHKARI: –to get our fiscal house in order, to get some balance. But right now is the time to provide assistance.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Neel Kashkari, thank you for your insights.
We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you all for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.