This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," March 1, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Chris Wallace.
Just two days out from Super Tuesday, markets tumble under the threat of a global pandemic. After the first U.S. death from the illness, could the coronavirus change the course of the 2020 election?
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We just won, and we've on big because of you!
WALLACE: One-time front runner Joe Biden wins the South Carolina primary and looks to build momentum as 14 states vote on Super Tuesday. We'll ask the former vice president about his prospects for a comeback in his first FOX News sit down of the 2020 election.
Then, the stock market takes a dive over the coronavirus, experiencing its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.
ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: The risk remains low. But this can change rapidly.
WALLACE: We'll ask HHS Secretary Alex Azar what the Trump administration is doing to deal with both public health and panic.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus.
WALLACE: We'll ask our Sunday panel about the political impact of the outbreak.
And our Power Player of the Week, a memorial that tells the real story of women in the military.
All, right now, on "FOX News Sunday".
WALLACE: And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
We're covering two big stories this hour, first, growing fear over the spread of the coronavirus including the nation's first death. The White House announcing new travel restrictions yesterday. We'll discuss all that with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar later this hour.
But we begin with politics, Joe Biden was the big winner in South Carolina last night, he beat Senator Bernie Sanders by a margin of more than 2:1. Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg, and Elizabeth Warren rounding out the top 5.
In a moment, we'll speak with the former vice president about his victory and what it means for his chances in the 14 states that vote on Super Tuesday.
First, let's bring in Peter Doocy with the latest from the Palmetto State and the race for the Democratic nomination -- Peter.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this is the state where Joe Biden flew before that results from New Hampshire were even in, because things were so grim for him there, and his gamble paid off.
BIDEN: My buddy Jim Clyburn, you brought me back.
DOOCY: And now, Biden wants to be the alternative to Bernie Sanders.
BIDEN: Democrats want a nominee who's a Democrat.
DOOCY: The Democratic socialist, Sanders, congratulated Biden last night.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are a lot of states in this country, nobody wins them all.
DOOCY: Iowa's winner, Pete Buttigieg, finished fourth in South Carolina.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am proud of the votes we aren't, and I am determined to earn every vote on the road ahead.
DOOCY: Tom Steyer's road ended in Columbia.
TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can't see a path where I can win the presidency.
DOOCY: Dynamic debates haven't helped Elizabeth Warren anywhere, but she is staying in and trying to chip away at rivals like Biden.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This crisis demands more than a former vice president who is so eager to cut deals with the Mitch McConnell and the Republicans that he'll trade good ideas for bad ones.
DOOCY: But for now, Biden's focus remains on Bernie.
BIDEN: Most Americans don't want the promise of revolution, they want more than promises, they want results.
DOOCY: Bernie Sanders used his two wins in February to raise more than $46 million in a month. Joe Biden has just two days to soak up his win here before more than a dozen more states host their contest on Super Tuesday -- Chris.
WALLACE: Peter Doocy reporting from South Carolina, Peter, thank you.
And joining us now from the campaign trail in Alabama, former Vice President Joe Biden. Mr. Vice President, congratulations on your victory in South Carolina last night. What do you think it does for your campaign? BIDEN: Well, I think it's a big boost. I think it starts the -- a real comeback and I think it -- we picked up a lot of delegates practically speaking, and we now have amassed more popular vote than anyone running for the nomination but we have a long, long way to go. This is a marathon. WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about that because now you face Super Tuesday in just 48 hours where 44 percent of the delegates will be allocated. And, frankly, you're at a big disadvantage going into there.
Let me count the ways.
You haven't held a rally in a Super Tuesday state in more than a month. In California, Bernie Sanders has 23 offices and more a hundred staffers. You have one office and your campaign won't say how many staffers. And while Sanders is spending $13.5 million on TV ads for Tuesday you started running your first ad this week.
Question, if you get clobbered on Super Tuesday, what does that do to your campaign? BIDEN: Well, it certainly doesn't help, but there's a lot of big states coming up after that, Florida and Georgia and Pennsylvania and Michigan. I mean, a whole range of states that still are in play.
But I -- look, I'm not pundit, Chris, and I'm not being a wise guy. I'm being -- I'm being deadly earnest. I feel good about where we are and I think ultimately, people are now beginning to focus on the opposition in the way that they focused on the -- in the Democratic Party, the way they've been focused on me for a long time. And I think that -- I think it's about the message and I think that people know who I am, although I've been outspent 41-to-1, I think it was -- or 40-to-1 in South Carolina and other places. I think we've now began to raise money, nothing like they have raised.
We have raised about $18 million this month, just $5 million overnight, and so, I think things are picking up, but we'll see. WALLACE: And talking about money, Mayor Bloomberg has bought TV time on two networks tonight to deliver a primetime address -- three-minute primetime address to the nation.
How do you compete with that? BIDEN: I'm on your show. By doing as much of the free press and earned media as I can. I'm being serious.
And, look, I think that, you know, money can buy a lot but it can't -- it can't hide your record and it can't make you something that you are or are not. And -- so I just think --one of the best things that I think happening is now, Mike is a solid, serious guy. He's in the debates now, and we're able to discuss the differences we have.
But I think the Democratic Party is looking for a Democrat, not a socialist, not a former Republican, a Democrat to -- to be their nominee and to bring the country together in a way that I've been able to do my whole career. WALLACE: Speaking of Democratic socialist, how damaging do you think Bernie Sanders would be on the top of the ticket, both in terms of trying to beat Donald Trump and also for Democrats down ballot? BIDEN: Well, look, if he's the nominee, I will support him, but I think it makes it very difficult down ballot. And this is no great secret to anybody, you can't run as an independent socialist, now a Democratic socialist, and do particularly -- expect to do very well in the states we have to win, like North Carolina, like Georgia, like Florida, like Texas, like Pennsylvania, et cetera. And so I -- look, I believe that if I'm on the top of the ticket, we will win back the Senate and we'll keep the House. I went in last time in 2018 to 24 purple states, we won 41 House seats, we won governor seats. I was invited in, I don't know that they invited the -- Bernie Sanders to come in, not because he's a bad guy, but he comes from a different perspective.
Look, the people aren't looking for revolution, they're looking for results. But he talks about a revolution. Let's get results, and the idea that Bernie's going to be able to come up with $60 trillion in 10 years to do the things he wants, there's no -- there's really no path there. And I can get that done on health care by building on Obamacare with a Biden Medicare option in it. I can do this in terms of Ebola -- I mean, excuse me, in terms of dealing with the issues that relate to what we put together when we faced the pandemic of Ebola, I've had the experience of doing that. I can do this in terms of bringing together the world with regard to climate change and so on. So, I -- this is -- these are things that have been in my wheelhouse, things that I've done. And I have a record of real success. Bernie doesn't have much of a record at all as accomplishments in the United States Senate and United States Congress. He's done a few things. He's worked with John McCain on health care -- excuse me, on veterans' issues, and post office is another thing. But I've passed big legislation. I'm able to cross the aisle and I've been able to get things done. WALLACE: Mr. Vice President, if Sanders is such a threat to the Democratic Party and the possibility of Democratic majorities, should all of the centrists get together? I know you have a pretty clogged lane. There's you, there's Bloomberg, there's Buttigieg, there's Klobuchar. Should you get together after Super Tuesday and however is in the lead amongst you, whoever has the most delegates, all the other say, we're going to get out and we're going to support this moderate to go one-on-one against Bernie Sanders? BIDEN: Well, you know, it's kind of interesting, on your show, for me to be called a moderate, Chris. I know it's 13 years since I've been on, but I've never been called a moderate on your show before, and I don't consider myself -- including myself -- WALLACE: A relative moderate. (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) BIDEN: You know what I mean, and I'm not criticizing you (ph). I'm making the point that I have a very, very progressive record and the issue is what we -- what can get done. And, look, it's not for me to tell any other candidate that they should get out of the race. They'll know whether or not they remain viable, whether they have a chance. And I'm confident that the primaries that are coming up and the ones that follow are going to winnow that field. And -- and I think people will do the right thing. But I'm not going to presume to tell anybody to get out (ph). (CROSSTALK) WALLACE: Well, let me ask you a question directly then. If Super Tuesday ends and there's another so-called moderate or a centrist who's leading you in delegates, would you consider getting out to give them a clear path against Sanders? BIDEN: Well, look, I'm not going to -- I'm not going to speculate on any of those kinds of things. I think we're going to do well. I know I am running. I'm not running against any of the Democrats. I'm running against this -- what -- what our present president is doing and what he stands for and I'm going to stay in my message. And I've started off saying we have to restore the dignity and honor of the office and the soul of this country, to gain respect in the country and around the world. We have to deal with bringing -- reestablishing the middle class and bringing everybody along, including the poor having an opportunity to get up, and as well we have to unite the country. And I used to be criticized for saying all these -- all those three things when I started. Now we know most Democrats are saying the same thing. Who can get it done? Who can put his country together? Who can restore the dignity and honor of the country, from my perspective anyway? WALLACE: Mr. Biden -- BIDEN: And I think -- and I'm best equipped to do that. WALLACE: Mr. Vice President, I don't especially like asking you about this, but it is an issue in the campaign and that has been your sometimes shaky performance on the campaign trail. Here's a story that you told at least three times about Nelson Mandela. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: I had the great honor of meeting him. I had a great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on Robbens Island. (END VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: You now say you weren't arrested and that it didn't happen in Soweto. You were at the airport in Johannesburg and you were stopped from going through the door for blacks.
I guess the question is, were you confused or were you just trying to embellish a story? BIDEN: No. No, what I was trying to -- what I was doing was talking about the fact that I was strongly opposed to apartheid. When we landed and -- we were going to Soweto actually. We landed in Johannesburg and the Afrikaners took me off the plane and took me into one direction, wanted me to go through a white-only door, and in fact, I wouldn't move. I said everybody else is going through to another door, I'm going with the -- with the black delegation that I came with.
They said, no, you can't. And I said, I'm staying here, I'm not going to move. And they would not let me move anywhere so I guess I should have said, I was -- I was detained, I was not able to move forward. So what they finally did was they went out, and they cleared out a baggage claim area, took us all up through the baggage claim area, up through -- cleared out a restaurant.
Look and if anybody wonders whether or not what I said about my desire, my adamancy about apartheid, you've covered it. Go back and look at joebiden.com and take a look at the -- WALLACE: No, no. (CROSSTALK) BIDEN: -- happened in the -- WALLACE: Your record is clear. (CROSSTALK) WALLACE: Let me ask you though -- here's something else you said this week. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: I'm a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. Look me over. If you like what you see, help out. If not, vote for the other guy (ph). Give me a look though, OK? (END AUDIO CLIP) WALLACE: You haven't run for the Senate since 2008. What happened there? BIDEN: Well, the context was I said to everybody -- I said look I'm going to say the same things I've always said, like I used to campaign in Delaware. I'd say, knocking the door, I said, my name is Joe Biden, Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. Look me over, if you like me help me out. If not, vote for the other guy.
That's the -- a sentence I've repeated throughout making the case and I sent -- and I'm here now to ask you all to look me over. It was in the context of how I said I ran because -- the context is also was that you can't -- as was pointed out by my -- Cedric and others on my campaign and how I ran when I ran for the Senate was people will not -- they expect you to ask them. You have to earn their vote. That was the context for that. WALLACE: All right. Final question in this regard.
President Trump went after you about this at CPAC yesterday. Take a look at what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Joe's not going to be running the government. He's just going to be sitting in a home someplace. And people are going to be running it for him. (END VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: Your response to the president's -- (CROSSTALK) BIDEN: Is that the stable genius saying that?
BIDEN: Oh give me a break. God love him. I'm going to resist saying what I feel like saying. WALLACE: No, go ahead. BIDEN: I'm -- (CROSSTALK) WALLACE: Don't resist it. Go ahead, Mr. Vice President. BIDEN: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to try to, you know, assign names and insults to the stable genius.
This is a guy who doesn't know what he's doing. He doesn't know how to run the country. He is making us more unsafe the way he's responding to the coronavirus. He has done virtually nothing well that I can see.
And so, I can hardly wait to debate him on stage. I want people to see me standing next to him and him standing next to me. We'll see who's sleepy. WALLACE: Mr. Vice President, thank you. Thanks for your time. Please come back in less than 13 years, sir. BIDEN: All right, Chuck. Thank you very much. WALLACE: All right. It's Chris, but anyway -- BIDEN: Chris -- I just said Chris. No, no, I just said Chuck. I'll tell what, man, these are back-to-back. Anyway -- (CROSSTALK) WALLACE: No, it's OK.
BIDEN: I don't know how you do it early in the morning too. WALLACE: Safe travels -- BIDEN: Thank you, Chris. WALLACE: -- on the campaign trail. BIDEN: Appreciate it. WALLACE: Thank you, sir. BIDEN: Thank you. WALLACE: Up next, we'll bring in our Sunday group to discuss where the Democratic nomination stands two days from Super Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Thanks to all of you, the heart of the Democratic Party, we just won and we have won big because of you.
SANDERS: We are more than campaign, we are a movement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Joe Biden celebrating a much-needed victory in South Carolina, while current front runner Bernie Sanders looks ahead to Super Tuesday.
And it's time now for our Sunday group: Townhall.com editor Katie Pavlich; Mo Elleithee of Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service; former DNC chair Donna Brazile; and pollster Kristen Soltis- Anderson, who's a FOX News contributor.
Well, Donna, let me start with you, how big a bounce does Joe Biden get from his victory in South Carolina with Super Tuesday just 48 hours away?
DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR: Well, I think the firewall stopped the spread of the fire, but in terms of the bounce -- I mean, he has not been holding rallies, he hate doesn't have a lot of ground operatives in those big states, but here is what Joe Biden can now rely on -- rely upon, I think as a result of Super Tuesday, black voters gave him a second look, a second opportunity, and I think Joe Biden can now go into Alabama where I believe he is today, Arkansas, Tennessee, parts of Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, and try to grab as many delegates as possible.
Bernie has a bigger assignment, that is, he not only has to win the state of Vermont, try to capture the voters in Maine, and Massachusetts with Elizabeth Warren, but Bernie, because of his success in 2016, can go to Minnesota, California, Colorado. So, I still believe it's Bernie's race.
Now, you notice I didn't mention Michael Bloomberg, I'm trying to give him a little love later this afternoon.
WALLACE: Boy, that's late -- late coming.
BRAZILE: Well, I can't give loved by man I don't know, but here's what I will say about Michael Bloomberg, he has spent a lot of money, and I don't know if that's going to add up unless those mayors get out and give him some love.
WALLACE: OK. Kristen, as I discussed with the vice president, the fact is, he is way behind Michael Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders in terms of organization for Super Tuesday, both in terms of ground game and also airtime (ph), we have this extraordinary thing tonight where Mike Bloomberg is buying 3 minutes of primetime network time on two networks.
How much can his win -- Biden's win in South Carolina make up for the deficits and all of those, especially given the fact that millions of people have been voting already, early voting in those Super Tuesday states?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Look, everybody loves a winner, having this momentum is very valuable for him. It is helping keep his campaign afloat. But with the short time frame, the problem he's going to have is, I still believe the Biden campaign does not have a clear and concise message in the way that someone like Bernie Sanders does.
If you ask what Bernie Sanders is about, it's easy. It's revolution for the 99 percent.
WALLACE: Al right. Let me just push back. Biden would say it's results, not revolution.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: Yes, and I just wonder, is that inspirational enough? Is that the sort of thing that gets people excited, as motivated? Does it hit the right emotional buttons?
I think that Bernie Sanders, because he's got this movement behind him, this is my he's going to go into Super Tuesday and still be able to pull together so many delegates from states like California, from places like Texas, the polls show that he is still doing quite well, particularly among younger voters, but as long as he can still divide up the older voters within the Democratic Party, it's going to be hard for anyone to challenge him, even once they get past Super Tuesday.
WALLACE: Mo, how do you handicap the race now? Just after South Carolina, Super Tuesday, about to come upon us. And as -- forgive me, as a more mainstream Democrat, how much do you worry about Bernie Sanders at the top of the ticket?
MO ELLEITHEE, GEORGETOWN INSTITUTE OF POLITICS & PUBLIC SERVICE: I think, right now, Bernie probably is still the front runner. But he's a little bit less of a front runner today than he was yesterday morning, and I do think this is a momentum business. And when you get a nice bounce out of a state like South Carolina, a pretty big bounce, I mean, it was a good old- fashioned shellacking in South Carolina, that can help in a lot of the states Donna just mentioned.
The wild card -- there are two wild cards. One is the early vote as Kristen talked about, the other is Mike Bloomberg, Mike Bloomberg got into this race saying he was going to be the last line of defense against Bernie Sanders. But, we're not seeing him really sort of take the lead yet. No one has voted for him yet.
But the polling in each of these Super Tuesday states showing he's not doing well enough to beat Bernie, but he is doing well enough to stop someone else from beating Bernie.
So, Mike Bloomberg could have gone from being the last line of defense against Bernie to being Bernie's last line of defense against Biden.
WALLACE: Let me pick up on that with you, Katie, because there is polling that shows that socialism is not the buzzword that it has traditionally been for some voters, especially younger voters. Do you think it's possible, first in the Democratic primary, then in a general election for Bernie Sanders to make socialism mainstream?
KATIE PAVLICH, TOWNHALL.COM EDITOR: I think he already has. If you look at the way that young people view the word socialism, even though they can't always define exactly what that means, you look at the number of people in these FOX News voter analysis polls that we have been doing, what they actually believe in. They line up with a lot of what Bernie Sanders is pushing with his platform which is socialism.
I would add that Bernie Sanders and his record, especially over the past week, defending the Castro regime, his record personally of honeymooning in the USSR, that was communism, not just Democratic socialism as he likes to say. So, that is something, certainly he's been able to take mainstream in the Democratic Party. Whether he can do that nationally, I'm not sure.
But what he is good at doing is building coalition. The question for Joe Biden now, going forward, is he going to be able to find a James Clyburn in every single Super Tuesday state to get him over the edge? I know we're all celebrating that Joe Biden finally won a primary after three times running for president, but if he had not one, his campaign would be over. And the question now is, is he going to be able to make enough money over the next 48 hours to have some momentum going into the states?
WALLACE: Even if you raised the money, you can't spend it.
PAVLICH: Right, right. The airwaves are already taken up by other -- by other candidates. And also, if you look at Nevada and the way that Bernie Sanders came out of that with the coalition, a diverse coalition, and the fact that people are already voting for him in places like California and Colorado, and how he's -- right behind Joe Biden in Texas, this is still something that Joe Biden has to worry about, and whether he can expand the coalition at this point is a real big question.
WALLACE: We should also point out, for all the talk about how Iowa and New Hampshire were untypical states because they were 90 percent white, South Carolina is also an untypical state because the electorate there in that primary last night was over 50 percent African-American.
Final question to you, Kristen, we've got about a minute left. What does polling say about how tough it will be to sell socialism, not communism, but socialism to majority of Americans?
SOLTIS ANDERSON: So, FOX News's owned polling from just this week shows it's only about 3 out of 10 voters say they would be comfortable with someone who is a socialist being president, that only about a third of America is OK with socialism. But socialism is defined very differently for younger voters versus older voters, as Katie was mentioning.
I think, in terms of the word socialism, lots of voters don't like it, but the idea of the government providing very extensive health care benefits, et cetera, a lot of voters are actually much more on board with that. I would not count out the ideological places American voters may be willing to go.
WALLACE: You know, it's also interesting. In our voter analysis, FOX News voter analysis, Bernie Sanders won among people, both black and white under 45, he clobbered among blacks and whites over 45.
Thank you, panel. See you in a little bit.
Up next, the latest on the spread of the coronavirus worldwide and in this country. We'll talk with Health Secretary Alex Azar about what's being done to keep Americans safe.
WALLACE: Coming up, the new yours announces a historic peace agreement with the Taliban.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ESPER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Thanks to President Trump's leadership, we are finally making substantial progress toward ending our nation's longest war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: We'll ask our Sunday panel what it means for bringing American troops home from Afghanistan.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX HOST: We turn now to the global health crisis caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus. More than 86,000 people have contracted the illness, most in mainland China. But 59 nations now have confirmed cases, including the first death here in the U.S. President Trump says there's no need to panic.
Joining us with the latest, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar,
Mr. Secretary, welcome to FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Good to be with you, Chris, thank you.
WALLACE: What's the latest count of coronavirus cases in the U.S. of unknown origin where, at this point, the only explanation is community spread? AZAR: You bet.
So we've got about -- we've had 23 cases here in the United States that are not a result of us repatriating individuals from Japan or China. Of those individuals, we've got cases in Chicago, as well as Washington and Oregon where we do -- and two in California where we do not yet know why they contracted the novel coronavirus. So we're deployed with state and local people, and we're working to get to the bottom of it. WALLACE: So -- so we knew about the cases on the West Coast. There's now one in Chicago as well? AZAR: There -- there is one overnight in Chicago, yes. WALLACE: And did the man who died from the illness in Washington State, did he get it, best of your knowledge, from community spread? And what can you tell us about this nursing home in Kirkland, Washington? AZAR: So at this point we do not know how this gentleman contracted the illness. And we're -- obviously want to express our sympathies to him and to -- on behalf of him and his family for this fatality.
He is in a -- he was in a hospital. This hospital is one where the nursing home sends patients. There are cases in that nursing home also. So right now there's a large investigation going on in the nursing home, the hospital, contact tracing to try to determine where that disease was introduced and how it might have spread. WALLACE: But you don't know. So, at this point, this is a community transmission, which means it's somewhere out in that community, in Kirkland, Washington? AZAR: At this point it's a suspected community transmission, yes. WALLACE: And that's concerning, right? AZAR: Any community transmission is concerning. That's why we've been very clear from the outset, we're going to have more cases here in the United States in spite of the president's aggressive efforts at containment. We'll see more cases. We'll see some forms of community spreading. But the risk to any individual American remains low. Thanks to the efforts the president's taken, they stay low. We're working to keep it that way. But things can change rapidly. But they should know, we have the best public health system in the world though looking out for them. WALLACE: Let's talk about some of the new measures the president is considering. He announced a travel advisory yesterday to South Korea -- parts of South Korea and Italy.
What would it take to go to a travel ban? And how seriously is he considering shutting down our southern border with Mexico? AZAR: Well, right now Mexico has very few cases. So that would -- that would take a real change in the epidemiological profile and the risk to the United States from there.
I think what he was trying to say is, all things are on the table. We're not going to take anything off the table in our armamentarium of tools we have to protect the American people. So what he announced yesterday is -- we already had level three travel warnings for all of Italy and all of South Korea. That means essential travel only is recommended. But for the impacted areas in northern Italy and the one region of South Korea, we escalated that from the State Department to a level four advisory, which says do not go to these parts of Italy and to South Korea. WALLACE: And is there a point at which you could go to a travel ban? AZAR: We could look at using 212F, which is the procedure we've used for China, where we actually restrict entry from certain countries. The -- the point is with Italy and South Korea we have highly developed public health and health care systems. We have transparent leadership and very aggressive action that's been on it from day one. So, at this point, we think advising people not to go is the right measure, but everything will always be on the table. WALLACE: What about -- there's talk of invoking war powers to require U.S. companies to manufacture some goods in the national interest. One possibly -- I know you have millions of them, but one is that you might actually require companies to manufacture more protective masks.
AZAR: That's right. So that's called the Defense Production Act. I believe it came into existence during the Korean War. It's actually used fairly commonly for Defense Department procurements here in the United States. Effectively, we can determine that our production should get to the front of the line. And so we go before any other contract so that they might have -- WALLACE: So -- so where are you on doing that? AZAR: So right now we are initiating the procurement processes for personal protective equipment, so that would be masks, as well as gowns, gloves, et cetera. We are -- we've got that process initiated. We're gathering information from potential vendors.
WALLACE: But is that going to be under the War Powers Act that you're going to -- AZAR: If we need to. We'll -- we'll use it if we need to, but we, obviously, if we can work cooperatively with any vendor, we'd rather do that.
But we're waiting for the emergency supplemental funding from Congress because, of course, we need that money to fully fund those procurements. WALLACE: One concern that -- that some Americans have is that President Trump and some of his advisors are low balling the risk from the coronavirus for political purposes.
Here's one example. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away. Oh, that's true.
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CDC: I think this virus is probably with us beyond this season or beyond -- beyond this yet and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community based transmission. (END AUDIO CLIP) WALLACE: Do you know that the coronavirus is going to disappear in April when the weather gets warmer? AZAR: No, we don't know that. The normal coronavirus, the annual cold, and -- as well as flu and other respiratory illnesses, often do dissipate and go away in warmer seasons. The virus just doesn't survive well in the warmer climate, warmer atmosphere. But we do not know as to this novel coronavirus how it will interact. SARS, for instance, which was a novel coronavirus, did not dissipate in April.
What the president's been saying is, we hope that it will be like the regular cold or regular flu and dissipate, but we do not know. WALLACE: But here's another example of what some people are calling low balling by the president.
Take a look. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) TRUMP: Because of all we've done, the risk to the American people remains very low. DR. NANCY MESSONNIER, CDC: It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness. (END AUDIO CLIP) WALLACE: Well, since Dr. Messonnier spoke, we have begun to see community transmission. We have seen severe illnesses. We have seen at least one death.
Can you understand the concern about mixed messages coming from the administration? AZAR: I could understand the concern, but I hope people will understand what we're trying to do. We're trying to level with the American people at all times. So Dr. Messonnier was very clear with accurate information. The risk is low. It remains low. But we have always expected we'd see -- we would see more transmission. And as she predicted, we will see at least some limited community transmission. The president, though, is also trying to keep balance in messaging so that the American people don't engage in unwarranted panic. For instance, people running out and buying face masks. That's not needed. That's indicated. We don't recommend it. It actually can be harmful to individuals in an infection situation.
So he's trying to keep good balance, I'm trying to keep good balance. But we're also trying to be radically transparent with our information to make sure folks know what might be coming so they can mentally prepare, as well as engage in normal prepared effectiveness. WALLACE: I want to pick up on that with you because clearly part of public health is psychology. And in the last week we saw the Dow Jones go down 3,500 points. We see people buying masks, hoarding food and other supplies. Obviously part of this is a reasonable response to an unknown threat, but do you see some elements of panic? AZAR: I see elements of uncertainty. I was with Secretary Mnuchin yesterday at our task force meeting at the White House and he was talking about the stock market reaction and how so much of the market is just dealing with uncertainty. And we're dealing with a novel virus. And so there is uncertainty. And I know that can make people feel uncomfortable. And that's why we are trying to give the American people all the information we have when we have it so they don't think there's secret information they're not getting. That at least helps -- we say what uncertainties we've got, and as we resolve them, we try to clarify.
WALLACE: You just think (ph) people are overreacting? AZAR: Yes, absolutely. If people are going out and buying face masks, that's not necessary. In fact, we need those masks for the people who should be using them, which are health care workers taking care of patients. WALLACE: Finally, a whistleblower in your department raised a concern about a number, I think a dozen HHS workers who apparently said -- sent to receive the first evacuees from China, she says without proper gear, without proper training. And she raised this concern.
I know you say you're investigating, but that woman, was she reassigned, as she claims, after she raised this concern? AZAR: So, first, we -- it is vitally important that we protect our employees in any situation. It is vitally important that we follow the appropriate isolation or quarantine protocols in dealing with individuals. And it's important that no whistleblower ever be retaliated against. And we will never permit retaliation against the whistleblower. Let me give you the facts that we know so far. First, every HHS employee who was involved in the allegations in the whistleblower's complaint has now been well over 14 days from any interaction with individuals and nobody is symptomatic or has the disease, so there was no risk -- there's no risk to the people of HHS, no risk to the community, even if the allegations prove to be true. So that's a very important fact. We also have offered voluntary testing to our employees. It's not medically indicated because they don't have the virus --
AZAR: But if it comforts them, we're going to get them tested so they know.
WALLACE: And -- but what happened to the woman? Was she reassigned? You -- the -- she said -- has said more than 10 days ago that she was reassigned. You certainly know whether that happened. AZAR: Well, I'm not going to discuss personnel matters. That wouldn't be proper for me to do. But there will be no retaliation against this individual or any other individual. We are grateful -- if our employees raise concerns about our processes, if something proves not to be right, we are grateful for that.
WALLACE: So if she was reassigned, I -- you can't -- I know you can't discuss it. If she was reassigned because of raising this complaint, you're saying she'll be restored to the position?
AZAR: Nobody would ever be reassigned or discriminated against or prejudiced or retaliated against because of raising concerns about the functioning of the department. WALLACE: And you can't tell me whether that happened. AZAR: I cannot -- I'm not going to tell you whether that happened because that's still under investigation. We are doing a comprehensive, thorough investigation. WALLACE: Secretary Azar, thank you. Thanks for coming in today. And we'll, of course, be tracking your efforts and the efforts of the entire task force to follow and fight this disease in the week ahead. AZAR: Thank you, Chris. WALLACE: Up next, we ask our Sunday panel about the administration's response so far, and the political and economic fall-out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. Think of it. And this is their new hoax.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, Mr. Trump, why don't you worry about the coronavirus rather than disrupting that Democratic primary right here in South Carolina? (END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Trump using the -- accusing Democrats of using the coronavirus as one more effort to bring him down. And Bernie Sanders returning fire.
And we're back now with the panel.
Katie, how do you think the Trump administration has responded to the coronavirus, and if it continues to tank the markets and hurt the economy, fairly or not, could it hurt the president's chances for re-election?
KATIE PAVLICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It certainly has an impact on the campaign trail, but it's also had Democrats on the campaign trail responds to it that really matters. Can they portray themselves as better leaders on this issue than President Trump, who has been in the Brady briefing room twice in the last four days to talk about this issue. He has President -- or Vice President Mike Pence in charge of a team of people. He has the CDC director, the head of HHS talking about these things on a daily basis, meeting. They're meeting again today. We may hear again from the president.
And, Democrats, too, AP is out with a fact-check today saying that Michael Bloomberg and Joe Biden have been making false statements about the way that the president has handled this in terms of CDC funding. And so Democrats have to be careful here about not trying to stoke panic for political reasons. And the president has a lot to handle in the sense that he has to be able to say, don't panic, go about your lives, but also be prepared for this to get worse before it gets better.
WALLACE: Donna, plenty of Democrats have been attacking the president's response to the virus. So is it wrong for him to respond to then in-kind, as you saw them do at that rally? And what impact do you think, particularly if it continues to hit the economy, which is obviously going to be a Trump selling point, even though he's obviously not responsible for the coronavirus, what impact could that have on the 2020 election?
DONNA BRAZILE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think the biggest mistake, and he's made a lot of mistakes, is that, you know, by saying the word "hoax," this is a serious public health -- potential public health crisis.
WALLACE: Now, let me just say, he's saying it's -- the hoax isn't the crisis, it's what the Democrats are saying.
BRAZILE: I understand. He cleaned it up yesterday.
BRAZILE: But here's the thing. And I -- and I take this as serious as anything else. We don't want this to be President Trump's Katrina. I experienced Katrina. No one wants to see their president fail.
At the notion that the president of the United States is out there pointing fingers at Democrats when he should be doing everything to ensure that we have test kits, that we have the public health sector mobilized to help people, that our hospitals have supplies, that is what you want a president to do in crises like this. To put politics in the middle of this, and I understand that the president wants to react every day to every different headline, but he has to mobilize the federal government to make sure that we can handle this emergency.
Right now we're looking at governors who are like basically saying, give us kits, give us kits, we've got to test people. We haven't tested enough people, Chris, and that -- I think that is the number one priority the president should be focused in on.
WALLACE: All right, there is other big news this weekend, and that is that the U.S. and the Taliban signed a peace deal yesterday that provides for a partial drawdown of U.S. troops, the Taliban renouncing al Qaeda, and talks between the Afghan government and the opposition.
Here was Secretary of State Pompeo at the signing ceremony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The agreement that we will sign today is the true test of this effort. We will closely watch the Taliban's compliance with their commitment and calibrate the pace of our withdrawal to their actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Kristen, at this point in what is by far America's longest war, how much of a consensus is there among Americans that we need to get out?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: There's very broad consensus. This, over the last decade and a half, has been an issue where Americans went from saying this is the conflict that's worth it, it's good that we are there.
Remember, this was the good war in contrast to Iraq sort of being the bad war during the Obama administration. To the point now where significantly more Americans say that it was not worth it to go to Afghanistan, that we ought to be withdrawing our troops. And so even though there is plenty of criticism I think of this deal, that it perhaps give the Taliban too much, at this point, because Americans are so exhausted with the blood and treasure we have spent there, they may be willing to say, any deal is good, let's bring our boys home.
WALLACE: But, Mo, a lot could go wrong. And -- and even with the best intentions, and even with the -- the feelings of the American people, the Taliban may not keep their promises. That certainly seems quite likely. Al Qaeda or ISIS could reconstitute and become a terror threat to the United States. What happens to Afghan women who have thrived in the absence of the Taliban?
I guess the questions is, is this the smart play politically for 2020, pull our troops out?
MO ELLEITHEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's the smart term -- it's the smart short-term political play for this president. This is a president who obsesses over winning the moment, and this is winning this moment, capitalizing on people's very legitimate weariness over a very long war.
But it does have the potential for it to come back, which is why you do see foreign policy -- very serious foreign policy people, conservative and on the left, raising serious concerns about this plan giving too much away to the Taliban, and it might actually force us to come back in, or faces some repercussions down the road that we don't want to deal with. That will be a long-term, bad political and strategic play for the president. But he tends to focus on winning the moment. And in this moment, it's a good play for him.
WALLACE: All right, so if it's Trump versus Sanders, they're both going to say pull them out. But if it were Trump versus Biden, you might have Biden in a situation where he's the one, not that he was for a lot of the things we did in Afghanistan anyway, certainly was against the troop surge under Barack Obama, where Biden is taking the more moderate position. Is that something that you think is going to get much backing from Americans?
ELLEITHEE: I think saying we want to get out, let's do it the right way so that we don't have to go back in later is something a lot of people can respond to. But in sort of today's, you know, Twitter defined communication landscape, it takes a few extra steps. So the president, I think, is leaning on, as I said, something that's going to work very well with his base and with people who are rightfully weary, but it is -- it does have the potential to come back down the road and hurt him if the Taliban do not keep their promises, which a lot of people believe is a very likely scenario.
PAVLICH: But they've -- they've blunted that argument at the beginning, because this is not the administration spiking the football. You have Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper saying we are cautiously optimistic about this. We have a number of steps that the Taliban has to meet before we are willing to do our part of this agreement, including coming to the table with every sector of Afghan civil society and hammering out their own internal deals.
So, yes, there is potential, we could have to go back in, but the administration is not saying that this is a roaring success at this moment. They are saying, we have many steps to go before we are capable and able to completely withdraw troops from Afghanistan, which will happen in sections, not all at once.
WALLACE: You --
ELLEITHEE: The secretary is making that point, I think, fairly effectively. The president is not bringing it the same sort of level of sobriety to that.
PAVLICH: He made that point yesterday when he had his press conference, you know, before speaking about coronavirus.
ELLEITHEE: Well, he's out on the stump at these rallies and he's declaring -- all but declaring victory, right? It just -- it creates a sense, I think, amongst his voters that this is maybe a little bit more certain than I think you very rightfully pointed out it's not.
BRAZILE: Well, first of all, I -- the Taliban cannot be trusted. And I think what's going to happen is that they're going to undermine the -- the government. They don't control all of the territory. And so, first of all, we've got to make sure that the Afghanistan government works with the Taliban to ensure that this can go forward before we withdraw, not just our troops, but NATO troops and others who are also invested in this.
WALLACE: But -- we have about 30 seconds left.
Katie, you're quite right, the agreement keeps -- you talk about conditions based. On the other hand, clearly this president has made -- has made it evident he wants to get out.
PAVLICH: And the country has made it evident that he wants to get out. And there are previous presidents, like Barack Obama, who have -- who have promised to do exactly what they're trying to do now. Does that mean that it will happen right away, that there won't be hiccups in -- as the administration has said, spoilers along the way, absolutely not. But the fact that they have agreements now, that the Taliban will distance itself from al Qaeda, and that they will work with the Afghan government to come up with a long-term peace agreement, that's a victory that should be celebrated that has not happened before.
WALLACE: All right, thank you, panel, see you next Sunday.
Up next, our "Power Player of the Week." After spending 37 years in the Army, she's working to make sure all women who serve get their due.
WALLACE: Picture a veteran in your mind. This person was a Marine or an Air Force pilot, or a Naval intelligence analyst. Did you picture a man? Our "Power Player of the Week" wants you to think again.
PHYLLIS WILSON, WOMEN IN MILITARY SERVICE FOR AMERICA MEMORIAL: I've always wanted to just be a soldier and not a woman soldier. Many times we find, when you go to other museums, we're almost a footnote in the storyline.
WALLACE: Phyllis Wilson is trying to change that at the Women and Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Opened in 1997, the museum is built into Arlington's iconic ceremonial gate.
WALLACE (on camera): I have driven past this space countless times and never knew this existed. I take it that's not unusual.
WILSON: It's not unusual at all, sadly.
WALLACE (voice over): While three million people come to Arlington each year, the museum is lucky to get 100,000 visitors. What they see is the history of women in the military, their uniforms and metals, and their changing role from working as nurses, to Air Force service pilots in World War II, to serving in combat today.
WILSON: There are about 2 million women that have served in the military, but there are a total of three million women that have actually defended the nation.
WALLACE: Wilson served 37 years in the Army, rising to the rank of chief warrant officer five. She worked in an intel unit for special operations in Iraq. Over the years, she says, women's opportunities have expanded dramatically.
WILSON: Trying to go to jump school was a hard thing for me to get a crack at. And now we have rangers, we have women that are leading infantry units. This is unheard of until just the last five years.
WALLACE: Despite the progress, Wilson says women service members and veterans often don't share their stories.
WILSON: When we asked them, they said, well, I was just a supply sergeant, I was just a clerk, I was just a cook. Well, there's no just to it. If you raised your right hand and said, I'm willing to defend this nation with my life, then you're a veteran when you're done.
WALLACE: And they don't get the same respect, something Wilson has experienced first-hand.
WILSON: I had a -- parked in a veteran parking spot. And as I got out of the car, there was a gentleman that -- that quickly called me on that and said, is your husband with you? Had it been a man, whether he had served in the military or not, in a veteran parking spot, when he got out of his car, I don't think he would have been challenged.
WALLACE: Wilson took us to the memorial's roof terrace where glass tablets carry quotes about women's service.
WILSON: Let the generations know that the women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom.
WALLACE: And visitors get a view of this hallowed ground.
WILSON: There are 400,000 people that are buried here. And many of those are women. We are here, at the memorial, to tell the story, not only of all of those that have passed before us, but those that are still here to carry the torch forward.
WALLACE: Women make up some 17 percent of the military today. And the memorial hopes to add the story of every service woman, past and present, to its register.
You can share your story, or that of a loved one, at womensmemorial.org.
Now this program note. Tune in to Fox News Channel's special coverage of Super Tuesday, starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday night.
And that's it for today. Have a great week and we'll see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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